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What's Next in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 31, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Ehud Olmert has declared he will step down as prime minister following Kadima primaries on September 25th.
What happens then?

I'll tell you:
The next leader of Kadima will try to keep a coalition of over 61 members in the 120 member Knesset.
If that person fails to maintain a majority Israeli President Shimon Peres must ask the leader of the next party in line to cobble together a majority within 28 days. The president can add on another 14 days for a total of 42 days.
If the second party leader also fails then President Peres goes to the third tier and that party leader gets only 28 days to put together a majority government.
If this person also fails to form a coalition, new elections are called within 90 days.

Ehud Barak, popular as he is, leader of the Labor party is not an elected member of Knesset so he cannot be one of those people asked to form a government.
But if new elections are called and if he places on a party list then he has a chance at once again, becoming prime minister of Israel.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

About Politics
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 31, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Am I the only person out there not surprised that the Chinese lied about health conditions and their ability to clean everything up before the Olympics?

Of course the Chinese lied.
There is no way to clean up Beijing - certainly not to the levels that we in the West consider safe.
So now we subject athletes and tourists to the mess and recognize just how we have been duped.

The Olympic Games are supposed to be above politics - but they are not.
The five rings represent the 5 continents (North & South America are considered one).
The five colors represent at least one color in every flag from every nation in the world.

The Olympics Games are all about politics.
China played the game of Olympic politics skillfully and won the big prize.
Now the health and well being of the world’s finest athletes are at risk.
Shame on the Olympic Committee for being conned by the Chinese.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 30, 2008


There are murders, mass arrests and a leading newspaper has been shut down. Tensions that had been simmering below the surface are now out in the open and they are boiling over. Hamas and Fatah are not only out for blood, they are out for power and control.

Gaza and tension go together like America and apple pie. They are inseparable. Even when the tension was not obviously manifest, even when it was not visible to the naked, untrained, non-Palestinian eye, it was palpable, it could be felt by the locals. An outsider's first peek at the rising tensions came when five Hamas military members were killed in a parking lot explosion in Gaza - and Hamas immediately pointed the finger of blame at Fatah.

And where Gaza goes, the West Bank is sure to follow. Here too, tensions, violence, acts of intimidation and menacing threats are emerging and hitting the streets and byways. Hamas began by arresting members of Fatah in Gaza. Fatah followed by arresting Hamas members in the West Bank. Now it is a game of Tit for Tat, Palestinian style. And for the players in the West Bank and Gaza Tit for Tat is a war game.

The game has just been taken up a notch. Murders, arrests, finger pointing, newspaper closings - those are the old components of the game. A new component has just been unleashed, it is the Palestinian propaganda machine. When it comes to Palestinian propaganda, Fatah is at a distinct disadvantage, Hamas is master.

It was one year ago that Hamas ousted Fatah from Gaza. Seven months earlier Hamas defeated Fatah in a parliamentary election. Hamas is using that imagery to convince the Palestinians of their superiority and right to rule. Hamas is using that imagery to instill fear in the hearts of Fatah and all other Palestinians. It is the imagery of victory and defeat.

Hamas has released some very powerful statements that cut to the core of every Palestinian citizen and taunts present-day, mainstream Fatah leadership. "Now the Zionists are protecting you," says Hamas. "You know that once the protection of the Zionists is over, people will enter your headquarters and kick you out."

These statements evoke memories of the coup in Gaza, pictures that every Palestinian has etched in their memories as clear as the photos that were taken and proudly flaunted at the time. Hamas gunmen taking over Fatah headquarters in Gaza. Hamas gunmen kicking up their feet with a massive portrait of Yasser Arafat on the wall behind them. Fatah, forced out and on the run.

"You must know," continues Hamas "we are not acting against you now in the West Bank because ... we know the Zionists will immediately back you."

Believe me, the average Palestinian is thinking those exact thoughts. And judging by recent polls it looks as if Hamas is gaining popularity - not in overwhelming numbers, but certainly gaining.

Palestinians leadership, that is Fatah leadership, is caught in a real sticky situation. Fatah needs Israel to prop them up, but Fatah cannot be seen as collaborating with Israel. The average Palestinian wants an end to the conflict, but the average Palestinian does not want to live in a West Bank ghetto. Palestinians prefer economic opportunity, Palestinians want freedom of movement. Palestinians want to be able to go into Israel and find work. Israel is a tool that is and will continue to be used by both sides in this war of words and actions.

The intimidation continues. So do the arrests and so does the bloodshed. Reuters reported that human rights groups are charging both Fatah and Hamas with the use of torture. The situation is out in the open, once again. The situation will continue to escalate.

The war between Hamas and Fatah never ended, it just went underground for a while.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Al Qaeda Logic
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 29, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

The Western mind finds it difficult to understand Islamic radicalism.
We are not wired to understand extremism, so much of extremist logic just seems backward to us.

Pay attention to what al Qaeda commander Abu Yihia al Libi said in a 43 minute long video posted on a known al Qaeda site.
Al Libi was responding to the Saudi initiative that brought Christians, Sikhs, Hindus and Jews together with Muslims.
Al Libi called for the assassination of the King of Saudi Arabia because, he rationalized, "bringing religions together ... means renouncing Islam."

According to al Libi's logic getting along is bad, it is actually a violation of a basic tenet of Islam.
Al Qaeda subscribes to the theory that interfaith dialogue gives credence to other religions which by definition diminishes Islam.
Therefore, it follows that the King of Saudi Arabia has insulted Islam and should be killed for defaming Islam.

Al Libi is a real hero in the extremist world - he has real credibility.
Al Libi escaped from Bagram prison in Afghanistan, a prison known in the al Qaeda world as a brutal US interrogation center.

In the world of radical Islam, when Abu Yihia al Libi speaks, people listen.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

About Politics
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 29, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Obama has gotten more than a little boost from his international trip.
Judging by the numbers, the oversea trip seems to have been a real success.

Of course it is not without criticism.
Diplomatically, he has been accused of favoring one side over the other.
The Palestinians are griping that he showed his true colors by spending so much more time with the Israelis than with them and projecting that, if elected, he will not be impartial.

Physically, that seems to be the case.
I noticed Obama walking with a pretty severe limp in Germany.
He hurt his hip a few weeks ago playing basketball and during this trip he actually got in a few hoops while in Kuwait with some US servicemen.
Obama visited the University of Chicago Medical Center on Sunday, had x-rays taken and was told he'd be okay in few weeks.

Being on the road is tough.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Iran Wants on The Security Council
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 28, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Iran has put forth a request to become a permanent observer on the UN Security Council.

The idea seems preposterous, even absurd.
But Iran is masterful at game playing, maneuvering and manipulating.
Iran is acting tactically and very shrewdly.
Iran is appealing to the members of the old non-aligned pact.

During the Cold War the non-aligned nations were those nations not connected to either the Soviets or to the West.
Iran is wooing the many countries that are still non-aligned so that they will bring the question of Iran to the Security Council.

This Iranian move has a chance of succeeding.
The United Nations is skewed specifically to help give voice to those nations that Iran is supposedly championing.

If Iran's request meets with success it will be a devastating blow to the West.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

About Politics
By Micah Halpern

July 28, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Barack Obama said in an interview with Tom Brokow on Sunday morning that it is time for a Palestinian state.

He said that the Palestinians "are having a hard time."
He said that a Palestinian state would benefit both the Palestinians and the Israelis.
He said that a Palestinian state would hurt Iran's interest and build good will among Arabs.

All this may be true.
So then why has a Palestinian State not yet been created?

Because both President Bill Clinton and President George Bush held the Palestinians to a minimum standard of behavior before committing to helping them create a Palestinian state.
Because in the past 16 years the Palestinians have been unable to meet the minimum standard.
Because the Palestinians have not yet taken a stand against terror.

It's that simple, Barack Obama. It's that simple.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Obama's Note at the Wall
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 27, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Barack Obama wrote a note and placed it in the Western Wall.
The note was written on stationary from the King David Hotel.
Given, the content of the note was placid and somewhat vapid.
But removing the note and publicly publishing it was downright distasteful.

Had the Obama campaign made the note public the situation would be different.
Then it would have been a "perfect prayer."
Then it would probably have been more patriotic and hopefully, presidential.

Simply put, this was not nice. Not because it was a private moment - there is no such thing as privacy when you are running for President. It was inappropriate because it happened at a religious site, it happened at the Wall.

People come from all over the world and put their personal notes in the wall. They are messages to God placed in the only remaining retaining wall of the Second Temple, built by Herod. It is the closest one can get to the original Sanctum Sanctorum, the Holy of Holies, without going underground.

Visitors and newspapers should act with proper respect out of respect for the place and the act.
God does not need notes to know our prayers.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

About Politics
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 27, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

The question of moving the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem emerges during every presidential election.
This entire campaign, however, the issue was barely raised.
Until Saturday.

In an interview on CNN the embassy question was put to John McCain.
The Republican presidential hopeful made it clear:
He said he would move the US embassy to Jerusalem.
He said he would move the embassy "right away."
He said "I've been committed to that proposition for years."

Of course he has - it is the official policy of the United States that the embassy should be moved.
Of course he won't - if elected McCain will not move the embassy, just like every US president before.

Once in power every president has issues to consider other than the US Embassy in Israel. Moving the embassy would generate flak from the Arab and Muslim world and the effort would require great moral and diplomatic strength.
I wish it would happen, but no president is willing to make it happen.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Gazans Kill Gazans
By Micah Halpern

Saturday July 26, 2008

I'm Predicting:

Yesterday there was a massive explosion in Gaza.
Five people were killed, fifteen were injured.
Among the dead were senior leaders of Hamas and a young girl who happened to be in the area.

Some have said the explosion was the result of a work accident.
But immediately after the explosion Hamas suggested that Fatah was responsible.
Tensions are mounting in Gaza and this time the tensions are internal not external.

Hamas and Fatah will continue to attack each other.
They will attack each other verbally.
They will attack each other physically.
They will take every opportunity to swipe at each other.
In this war, the end is not near.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

About Politics
By Micah Halpern

July 26, 20008

I've Been Thinking:

Republican presidential candidate John McCain had some harsh words for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's plan for Iran.
He used the words "audacity and hopelessness."

That may be true.
But so far the McCain campaign has yet to put forward its own serious plan to hem in Iran.
The McCain campaign needs to present a message independent of Obama's message. They have to take their own message to the people over the airwaves with paid ads.

In politics of the presidency it is not good enough to rely on negative ads and negative messages.
A campaign does not progress by simply reacting to and responding to messages.
No campaign should depend on press coverage to fuel their campaign.

The press are fickle.
Today the press is infatuated with Obama.
But that infatuation should neither prevent nor inhibit John McCain from buying studio time and delivering his own message.
On the contrary.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Attack of the Rats
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 25, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Remember Ripley's Believe It Or Not where truth is much more fascinating than fiction.

Palestinian Media Watch brought the following tale to my attention.
Two major Palestinian newspapers recently reported that Israel has created a super brand of rats expressly used to infest the Arab quarter of Jerusalem.

Here is the way the tale was reported in Al Ayyam and in Al Hayat al Jadida:
"settlers have been bringing chests filled with rats and releasing them in the Old City's [Arab] neighborhoods; they breed and have become a major curse... the [Arab] residents' efforts to counter this infestation have failed, especially since cats run away from these rats because of their size and ferocity... All of the conventional efforts to kill them have not succeeded, because they seem to be immune to poison and they breed in the sewers. It is known that this female rat gives birth seven times a year, each time giving birth to 20 babies; which compels Jerusalem's [Arabs] today to face the dangers of settlement and the infestation of rats..." [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, controlled by the office of Mahmoud Abbas, July 18, 2008]

"Large numbers of [Israeli] settlers have been bringing huge cages full of rats and releasing them onto the streets and alleys of the Old City [Jerusalem] order to turn the [Arab] residents' life into a living hell, forcing then to leave..." [Al-Ayyam, July 17, 2008]

Too ridiculous to be believable? Yes.
Unless you live in the Palestinian Authority.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

About Politics
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 25, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Barack Obama is concluding his foreign tour.
It's time for analysis.

Obama demonstrated that he can both listen and learn.
Everywhere he visited leaders and staffers were impressed by the way he listened and by the respect he showed for the knowledge and experience of his hosts.

Obama demonstrated that he is capable of being a world class diplomat.
He spoke to many people about many ideas and did not insult any of them. He proved he could gain their trust.

Obama's presentations were tasteful and he deftly threaded the needle on diplomatically delicate issues.
He managed to push the agenda that the United States will continue on the front line against terror and at the same time that the United States needs help doing it.

It is the Obama Doctrine: Give respect and in turn the United States will get respect.
This trip looks like success to me.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Russia Sells Iran New Anti Aircraft
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 24, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Israeli senior defense sources reported yesterday that Iran will receive the new S-300 Russian anti aircraft batteries.
The S-300 is said to be one of the best anti missile and anti aircraft missile systems in the world.

The S-300 can track 100 missiles and planes at a single time and simultaneously shoot at 12.
Iran is to receive the shipment in September, it will take between 6-12 months to assemble parts and train personnel.

This is significant concern for Israel and the US.
This new system will dramatically improve Iran's defense.
Every system has its weakness and Israel specializes at finding that weakness. But it will be much more difficult with the S-300.

Several months ago when the deal was made public Russia denied the fact that there was any deal.
Russia is playing a very irresponsible game.
No surprise there.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

About Politics
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 24, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

During Barack Obama's trip to Israel he took the time to visit Sderot.
Sderot is certainly a town that needs positive attention.
The residents have been subjected to non stop rocket attacks for 6 years.

Israeli leadership should ask Barack Obama to write down and notarize the comments he made in Sderot.
He said: if someone was firing at his home where his two daughters were sleeping he would do everything it takes to stop the bombing.
He said: that is what he expects Israel to do.

I hope Barack Obama truly stands by his word when Israel strikes back in order to try to stop the rockets - but I am not confident of that.
I bet the senator's response will be the same whether he is in the White House or on Capitol Hill.
I bet that when it happens, he will urge Israel to use restraint and urge Israel not to harm innocent civilians.

That is the way it goes during political campaigns, everything is of the moment.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 23, 2008


The Muslim world often sends out mixed messages, one message for the outside world, another for inner consumption. It's not ineptitude or poor translating capabilities, it is pure, simple, intentional manipulation.

The Iranians have mastered the art of international diplomacy. The Iranians have also bested their Muslim brethren in the art of mixed political messaging and media manipulation.

The Iranian missile tests, intended to showcase military prowess as well as nuclear capability, was quickly and artfully re-shaped into a showcase of creative, media manipulation. Not only did the Iranians photo-shop the pictures - for external consumption, they photo-shopped the facts - for internal consumption.

IRNA, one of the official Iranian government media outlets, ran a news scoop after the missiles were released. According to the report, Israelis were fleeing for their lives in fear. Why? Because now the world had proof of Iran's great missile system and now it was clear to every country that Iran is the most powerful of all.

"Following the successful maneuver executed by Iran last week, which included the firing of new missiles, Zionist residents living in occupied Palestine have begun to flee from there."

"The residents told their illegitimate government that this was the reason they refused to go on living there."

The report actually says that there has been a "massive emigration from Tel Aviv following the military maneuver."

Iran wants their internal world to believe that they are a great and undefeatable society. Iranian leadership wants to assume the mantle of Cyrus the Great and lead the people of Persia to world dominance. But this is far from the truth.

And what Iran refuses to acknowledge is that an accurate assessment of military abilities is as essential in foreign diplomacy as it is in war. That is why Iranian leaders not only photo-shopped the missile launch transforming a mid-range dud into a long range threat, but they also created a fiction in which their every movement evinces fear and quaking from the citizens of Israel.

Iranian political and military leadership has made it almost impossible to ferret out the truth from the bluster when it comes to Iranian nuclear development and capability. Propaganda and nuclear preparation go hand-in-hand. Diplomacy and deceit are interwoven and at times, both are very convincing.

In the midst of their race for nuclear technology, Iran is taking the time to attempt to open diplomatic channels with the United States. Several times in the past week Ahmadinejad has said that he would not be averse to the opening of a US diplomatic office in Teheran. In one instance he said it was a good idea and that it would improve relations between the countries especially after the November presidential elections.

Iran is courting the United States at this historical juncture because Iran understands that most of the Western world is soft when it comes to military strikes and that the only two powers that really count in that arena are Israel and the United States.

They know that the vast majority of the world will condemn a strike against Iran. They know that most countries will deceive themselves to avoid a military strike. And they know that letting in inspectors, negotiating with the inspectors, stopping the inspectors from doing their job and then starting all over again is a diplomatic game that allows European nations to cling to a glimmer of hope that Iran might be on the verge of acquiescing to world demands and actually cooperating. And where there is hope there will be no strike. It costs the Iranians absolutely nothing and it buys the Iranians good will and more time.

By making overtures to the United States in an effort to open a diplomatic office, especially a trade office, Iran is achieving a double goal. They are deflecting attention away from their nuclear mission and adopting the role of peace maker. It is Iran playing the role of peace loving nation by holding out the olive branch to the largest country in the Western world. It is the United States and by extension Israel that are now forced into playing the role of nay sayer and war monger. Iran is all good, Israel and the West are all evil.

The West cannot allow Iran to re-write history or photo-shop reality. It is our job to understand all the messages emanating from Iran, those for internal consumption and those for diplomatic convention. It is our job to weed out truth from rhetoric, to predict and to be prepared.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Gas Masks
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 22, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Israel just collected all the gas masks distributed on the eve of the Gulf War when the United States invaded Iraq.

77% of the masks were returned.
Of those, 50% will be cleaned and available to be used again. Unfortunately, the other 50% of the masks were not up to standard.

As tensions rise with Iran Israel may have to reissue those masks.
The process can be completed in a matter of days and the entire country will be outfitted with these safety kits.
Should that happen, it will be one last sign.
It will mean that Iran is getting close to launching an attack and that Israel is readying to launch a preemptive strike.

Given all the variables at play, the return of the gas masks will be one of the most palpable signals of an imminent threat against Israel.
Today the masks have been collected.
Now we wait and wonder if or when they will be reissued.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

About Politics
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 22, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

The NY Times is the paper of record for the Western world.
The NY Times just ran an OPED penned by Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, explaining his point of view on Iraq.

Fair is fair, so the Republicans had McCain do the same.
Only The NY Times rejected the McCain piece.

That is serious business.
OPEDs are supposed to discuss the issues. It would have been best had pieces from both candidates run on the same day - a face off of sorts. That way the paper would have opened up a forum allowing for a discussion of the ideas presented by both men who want to be president.

If it was not obvious before, it is obvious now.
There is no doubt that The NY Times will endorse Obama.
But the paper of record for the Western world owes it to the public to play the game fairly and you cannot be a good sport if you handicap one of the players.

There is nothing wrong with a newspaper having a point of view.
The NY Times does not need to be impartial, but it should be fair.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Hezbollah Planning Attacks
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 21, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Amos Yadlin, head of Israel Military Intelligence is reporting that Hezbollah is planning to attack Israel.
Hezbollah is always planning to attack Israel and just because there is a plan it does not necessarily follow that there will be an attack.
So what's his point?

Yadlin is pointing out that both circumstances and the size of Hezbollah's arsenal have changed. He is pointing out that according to intelligence reports Hezbollah has built up and improved their weapons supply so that it is now 2-3 times larger than it was two summers ago, before the war with Israel.

Yadlin also has information that Hezbollah has set up sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons to prevent Israel from flying helicopter and air recon or attacks over Lebanon. His information has been confirmed by Kuwaiti news reports.

Yadlin has put together the following calculus:
Now that the prisoner exchange is over and Samir Kuntar has been returned, Hezbollah can increase tensions along the northern border of Israel without fear of torpedoing or jeopardizing any long range Hezbollah plans.

That's his point - and that point is significant.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

About Politics
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 21, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki has thrust himself into the US news cycle for a reason.
Maliki wants to influence US policy and US elections.
And his pronouncement, calling for a timetable for US troop withdrawal from Iraq, is the perfect compliment to Barack Obama's stated policy.

Understand something. Maliki really does want the US out, but he also wants more than that. He is playing to his people and he is playing to please Barack Obama.

Here is the problem. The military leadership needs some stability. If they advise a US withdrawal it must be a slow process, so slow that the handover and the terrorists will not even realize that it is happening.
Right now, relations are fine between the United States, the Iraqi military and local Iraqi law enforcement and training programs are running smoothly.

The relationship is better and more professional that it has ever been.
But the relationship is still very fragile.
And training still takes time and requires an entire transformation of attitude and discipline.

Maliki wants the power.
Maliki wants to be seen internally as giving the United States orders and being a real partner with the super power.
And Maliki wants to jab the administration just a little and echo Obama's line.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Iran VP Says Friend of Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 20, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Imagine my surprise when I read the following quotes from the Iranian Vice President Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei.

"No nation in the world is our enemy, Iran is a friend of the nation in the United States and in Israel, and this is an honor. We view the American nation as one with the greatest nations of the world."

These words were said at a tourism convention in Teheran.
There was no coverage in the Iranian press, the quote can only be found on the vice president's web page.

The Iranian vice president has since recanted his statement to IRNA, the official Iranian news agency.
But he has continued to say that "we do not want war with any country."
Never before has any official in the Islamic Republic ever even intimated, let alone said outright, anything like this about Israel.

The question is: does Rahim-Mashaei stand alone or was he sent out to test the waters in a new government-led campaign?

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

About Politics
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 20, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Barack Obama is in for some serious educating.

Obama is a virtual novice entering areas with which he has little background.
While in Afghanistan and the Middle East he must be prepared for a steep and surprising learning curve.
In these areas rhetoric has no clout - it is stark reality that counts.

These realities separate the ideologues from the practicalists.
When it comes to Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and the Palestinians it is reality that will inform a successful leader's mission and vision.

I hope that Obama comes back from this trip with a more realistic idea of the Middle East than the skewed vision he left with.
I hope that he will shift his advisors to people who have a realistic understanding of the Middle East.
I hope that he will understand what is possible and feasible in the Middle East and what is not - in terms of timetables, personalities, age old dynamics and changing sensibilities.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

US & Iran in Talks?
By Micah Halpern

Saturday July 19, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Follow this calendar of events:
Thursday - top US Presidential Adviser and National Security Adviser Steven Hedley meets with Turkish foreign minister, Ali Babacan, in Turkey.

Friday - Babican meets with Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki.

Saturday - Manouchehr Mottaki will meet in Geneva with diplomats from various countries, including US Under Secretary of State William Burns, in Geneva. The United States says that Burns will just listen.

Everything on the agenda is about Iran's nuclear development.
The Iranians are very hopeful.
Of course they are

The Iranians are getting everything they wanted and more.
They are being spoken to face to face and their issues are being heard by the most important and influential powers of the world including the United States.
Once again, Iran has won.
They are masters.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

About Politics
By Micah Halpern

Saturday July 19, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Of course Obama's trip to the Middle East and Europe is political.
He is running for president.
Everything he does is political.

Six months ago I strongly suggested that this presidential hopeful make a trip to the Middle East.
I suggested that he take in as much information and gather as much input as possible.
I suggested a trip during which Obama speaks not just to the commanders on the ground in Iraq but also to the leaders in the Region.
I suggested that a trip like that will shape and better his understanding of the Middle East.

If he listens he will hear just how significant a threat Iran presents to the Region.
The only question is: will Barack Obama listen.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

US Diplomat Talks To Iran
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 18, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

The London based Guardian newspaper reported on Thursday that the United States has decided to post diplomats in Iran.
It will be the first time since the Islamic Revolution that US diplomats are stationed in Iran.

There's more: the US has sent a high level diplomat to join the UN the EU and Germany in their current discussion with Iran about nuclear development. The diplomat chosen for this mission is United States Undersecretary of State William Burns, who ranks #3 in the State Department.

These are significant changes in US policy.
So significant that the US thought it important to inform Israel of the decisions.
The US is insisting that Burns' involvement is simply to reiterate the US position.
The US is insisting that there will be no discussion until Iran stops developing nuclear technology.
But if the same position is in effect, why dispatch your #3 diplomat?

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

About Politics
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 18, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

The Obama campaign announced on Thursday that they raised $52 million in June.
The McCain campaign said they raised 22.

Interesting, but not a very accurate picture of the monies raised for the campaigns and dedicated to the election by the candidates.
When you total what each party raised together with what each candidate raised, the figures look very different.
When you total those numbers, the Democrats under Obama raised $92.3 million and the Republicans raised $95 million.

Why is this so significant?
There is no doubt that Obama is capable of raising money because he is touching a very sensitive cord in America.
And it can also be said that fewer Republicans are excited about McCain.
But when it comes to the parties Republicans and Democrats seem be running neck to neck in the fiscal department.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

A Perverse Celebration
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 17, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

There is something perverse about celebrating the return of a mass murderer, especially perverse about celebrating the return of a murderer of children.
I know the expression one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter, but the celebrations and the blessings are very hard for the civilized mind to comprehend.

Samir Kuntar is now a free man in Lebanon, blessed and embraced by those who supported his murderous ways. Hezbollah and Hamas have offered him not only congratulations, but blessings, which is to be expected.
Hezbollah, Hamas and Kuntar are kindred spirits.

Why did Abbas bless Samir Kuntar?
Why did Abbas send blessings to Kuntar's family and the families of the other terrorists exchanged in this deal?
Isn't Abbas supposed to oppose this kind of terror?
Isn't Abbas supposed to represent a new kind of Palestinian leadership, the kind that opposes violence?

It was not a politically expedient gesture, Abbas has revealed his true self.
It takes a certain kind of person to embrace a terrorist and call him a hero.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

About Politics
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 17, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

I give Jon McCain a lot of credit for speaking to the NAACP.

Of course there are blacks who vote republican, just like there are Jews and gays who vote republican, but the reality is that those voters are an anomaly.

Going to the NAACP indicates that McCain has a broad based agenda.
Most importantly, it shows the middle of the American electorate that this republican is more of a moderate than is his democratic counterpart.

McCain's speech was delivered at the NAACP but it was also aimed at white middle America which cares about injustice and race relations because it is the right thing to care about.
McCain does not hope to win over the NAACP vote. But he does hope to win their respect and the respect of middle America.

This election will be won by winning over the middle, not by preaching to the extremes.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Historic Deal- The Caveat
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 16, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Today is an historic day.
It will go down in history as the day the most heralded prisoner exchange between Israel and Hezbollah happened.
No Israeli is happy with the deal, but most Israelis have consoled themselves with the knowledge that a chapter, begun two summers ago, has been closed.

The process was not simple on any level.
The attorney general voted against the agreement in the cabinet meeting but never-the-less signed the papers and ushered them over to the president who was required to sign them as well.
The deal is legal - only the attorney general and president can set prisoners convicted by a court free when they have not served out their sentence.

Was the brutal terrorist / mass murderer Samir Kuntar given clemency by the president? No. Was he given a pardon? No. He was released by political decision.

The chapter is closed, the wounds are still open and raw.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

About Politics
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

This is America.
In America we satirize our politicians.
More than that- we are encouraged, even obligated, to satirize them.

The biggest compliment a politician can receive is to be noticed. Talk to McCain now and, if he's being honest, he will say that he wishes he were on the cover of a national magazine (and I don't mean Newsweek), that his name was on everyone's lips, that his cause was the topic on every news and discussion program.

No one can take the cover of New Yorker at face value - that's precisely the point.
Obama is a presidential hopeful, he is fodder for the media.
His wife, by placing herself front and center in the public eye is, by extension, fodder as well.

The cover of the New Yorker was an important testing of the waters.
It seems that Obama is off limits.
If I were Obama's handlers I would roll with the punch, laugh out loud and recognize that part of political commentary is satire and part is humor.

A large segment of Americans receive their news through the medium of humor.
It's the American way.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 15, 2008


For years, Israel was considered to be the superior force in the Middle East. That fact alone kept Israel safe from many of her enemies, most of the time. It was the deterrence factor, and historically, the deterrence factor has played an important role in keeping countries - and the world, safe.

Mutual deterrence was the pinnacle of the Cold War, it was the reason why there was a stalemate between the US and USSR. Deterrence is what kept Israel safe in the midst of the Middle East. Until now.

It is not that Israel has changed, it is the world that has changed. Major players in the world are no longer nations - strong, powerful, autocratic or democratic nations, some players are now organizations -terrorist organizations.

For years Israel and her friends have touted the concept of the qualitative edge as a significant tool in the arsenal of military deterrence. The United States was a strong proponent of the concept and, within the Arab world, encouraged the image of Israel's superior military status which in turn kept Israel's enemies at bay.

Israel always had better fighters, better training, better tanks, better planes and better intelligence. Israel was wealthier, more motivated, more successful, more worldly, Israel was more Western. Israel was more free and Israel was more democratic. Still is. But all that no longer matters. The overwhelming intimidation, the powerful facts on the ground and the fear factor that kept Israel safe for years no longer works against this new breed of idealistic, terrorist, enemy.

Hezbollah, Hamas and al Qaeda as well as the lone country Iran are neither stunned nor smitten by the Israel's great military prowess. Israel neither petrifies nor paralyzes them. They are fearless. And the rules of the game they play are solely theirs.

With most countries, the qualitative edge still works. It was deterrence that brought about peace between Israel and Egypt and Israel and Jordan, it is that qualitative edge that keeps the peace alive. Other, more established Arab and Muslim countries, have realized that Israel is here to stay and have begun dealing with the Jewish state even if only behind closed diplomatic doors. Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Qatar have begun interacting with Israel. Even Syria is now in the throes of third party negotiations with Israel precisely because of this very intimidating qualitative edge.

These are countries that are still informed by the same basic concept that informed them twenty years ago. It is called self-preservation and it still works. It is the same motivation that kept the world safe during the years of Cold War.

Islamic extremists like al Qaeda, Hezbollah and Hamas and the powers leading Iran are wired differently. Self preservation holds no interest for them. They cannot be intimidated and they do not have conventional thresholds of fear. They exist in perpetuation of a principle, they care only about total compliance to a religious idea and they cannot be deterred. Anyone who rejects the foundation of their extremism, even another Muslim, becomes a blatant target of the movement's ire. According to their new dogma, it is religiously permitted to attack non-believers.

The warriors in the armies of al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran are not afraid of dying. Their leaders think nothing of sacrificing the masses to achieve the organization's greater goal. The goal is to attack - at all costs, regardless of impact or effect.

According to the rules of play of extremist, terrorist, religious, organizations, every attack, even a minor attack, is major victory. The obsession is the attack, not the result of the attack. Precisely because of Israel's great military superiority any small irritation by Hezbollah or Hamas is interpreted by group supporters as a death blow to Israel. Any counter attack by Israel or strike against the terrorists is considered a victory for the terrorists. Theirs is an all-or-nothing game. If they are not wiped out totally, they are victorious. If even a single Hamas or Hezbollah believer remains standing, it is considered to be a win against Israel. Israel was unable to defeat them. The same rule extends to al Qaeda and to Iran and their wars with Israel and with the world.

The challenge is ours, the Western world. We must develop a new model to confront this new form of enemy. We must prepare ourselves to confront this new threat to our war plans and strategy, to our way of life and to our existence. The Western world must find a new deterrent, appropriate in the fight against extremism. We need to develop a new qualitative edge.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Obama on Jerusalem
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 14, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Obama is back peddling on Jerusalem.
In an interview on Sunday with CNN Obama qualified the remarkably positive speech that he had given at the AIPAC Convention in DC.
At the convention he spoke of an undivided Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel.

I hesitate to think that a Columbia and Harvard grad does not know the meaning of the word eternal. The presidential candidate is blaming the word choice on his writers. Maybe because the term eternal has a religious implication the Obama staff was unaware of the totality of the term.

Here is what Obama said on CNN about that speech:
"You know, the truth is that this was an example where we had some poor phrasing in the speech. And we immediately tried to correct the interpretation that was given."
"the point we were simply making was, is that we don't want barbed wire running through Jerusalem, similar to the way it was prior to the '67 war."

These comments by Barack Obama are very clear to understand.
The address delivered by Barack Obama at AIPAC is very clear to understand.
This is the real Barack Obama, that is becoming very clearly understood.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Lebanon-Syria May Open Embassies
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 13, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

One big surprise coming out of the Sarkozy Conference on Mediterranean Unity now taking place in Paris was a joint press conference between Lebanon, Syria and Sarkozy.

Sarkozy announced that the opening of embassies was in the works.
There has never been a Syrian Embassy in Beirut.
There has never been a Lebanese embassy in Damascus.
Syria and Lebanon came into existence as countries in the 1940's and Syria never recognized that Lebanon was an independent entity.
Syria always saw Lebanon as a province - and behaved accordingly.

During the press conference Syria's President Bashar Assad was, typically, non-committal.
But never-the-less it seems that there are real talks going on.

Syria's recognition of Lebanon is a dream come true in the Middle East.
But it is still too soon to celebrate.
The opening of an embassy is only a small, albeit important, first step in the process.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Sarkozy's Dream Fails
By Micah Halpern

Saturday July 12, 2008

I'm Predicting:

I had high hopes for The Barcelona Process: the Union for the Mediterranean,the conference that Sarkozy of France is organizing.
That changed when details of the conference started to emerge.

The name of the conference is itself enough to make politicians and diplomats dizzy, but the idea sounded good.
Gathering the leaders of 27 members of the European Union, plus 10 Arab leaders, plus Israel sounded good.
Potential problems - like seating, were easily resolved, that sounded good.
OK, so no one wanted to sit next to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, so they sat everyone in alphabetical order by country with Israel in between Ireland and Italy, that sounded good.

But then the Arabs said they will not pose for the group picture, that is not good.
The organizers proposed to put Olmert on one end and all the Arabs on the other end so that Olmert could be cropped out or photo shopped out without it being obvious, that is not good enough.

The resolution is no group pictures, only individual photos.
For me, that is a true indicator.
Nothing will come about from these sessions.
Sarkozy, you tried.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Tensions Increase
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 11, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

The war of words is escalating.
I hear the sabers rattling.

Iran has been testing missiles.
The message is clear.
We can hit Israel and any other target in the region whether civilian or military.

Ehud Barak, Israel's defense minister, shot off a strong warning to Iran:
"Israel is the strongest country in the region, and it has proven in the past that it is not afraid to act when vital interests are threatened."

Both Israel and Iran have expressed a desire to resolve this issue diplomatically. Barak said it in the quoted above.
Ahmadinejad said it in Malaysia the other day and I quoted him then.

We have to monitor and analyze all the rhetoric.
I am listening attentively to the aggressive, arrogant rhetoric and just as attentively to the peaceful, diplomatic rhetoric.
They are all parts of the same puzzle.
Once I have more pieces, I will be better able to predict the verbal and non-verbal games of response and counter response.

So far, the the war is still being fought only with words.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

What Iran Really Wants
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 10, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Do you know what Iran really wants?


Iran is trying to regain lost respect.
Iran wants to be central command in the Region.
Iran wants to be leader of the entire Muslim world.

But it will never happen.

The Arab world will never permit it to happen.
There is a thousand year conflict between the Arab world and Persia, aka Iran. The conflict runs deep and is steeped in tradition.

For example: Iran wants to control the Persian Gulf, the Arab world does not even refer to the area by the same name, they call it the Arab Gulf.

Iran wants something unattainable.
Iran wants to resurrect their status to the bygone days when Persian leaders ruled the entire world and when Persia truly was the cultural apex.
Iran will have to learn to live with the disappointment.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Ahmadinejad Says No Strike
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 9, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Ahmadinejad is in Malaysia at an Islamic conference where he has been very talkative.

Ahmadinejad is calling the tensions surrounding his nuclear program "comical."

Ahmadinejad keeps repeating his observation that the US and the Zionists, meaning Israel, are "focusing on propaganda and psychological war."

Ahmadinejad said that he can "assure you that there won't be any war in the future."

Ahmadinejad explained that the United States could not attack Iran at this time, because according to his logic is "the economic, political and military situation will not lead Mr. Bush to do that, everybody knows this fact."

Ahmadinejad reminded everyone that "the Iranian people are ready to defend their own land."
Ahmadinejad is not far from correct. Israel was told this week that they do not have a green light from the United States. Ahmadinejad is also correct because much of the game is a propaganda war game.
Ahmadinejad is also wrong. He is wrong in thinking that this is a long term situation that can drag on ad infinitum. There is a very clearly ticking clock. The irony of it all is that Ahmadinejad controls the clock.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Almost a Done Deal
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 8, 2008


The deal is done. Israel has agreed to exchange live Arab prisoners for dead Israeli soldiers. Walking, talking, alive and breathing, tried and convicted terrorists and 190 dead terrorists for the corpses of kidnapped Israeli soldiers.

In politics, much like in big business, decisions do not always follow the classic game theory model. Win-win, win-lose and even lose-lose do not always apply. Sometimes, decisions are made only in order to cut future losses and move on. Israel is cutting losses, Israel is moving on. Israel has nothing more to gain in this go-round with Hezbollah and nothing more to lose.

Bad decisions were made from the beginning and those bad decisions will live on, setting a bad precedent. When the War with Lebanon began two summers ago, the intention was to find Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev and bring them home - dead or alive, to return Israeli soldiers to Israeli soil. Along the way Israel lost sight of the original goal. Instead of fighting to find the boys, Israel fought to debilitate Hezbollah. By the time a cease fire was called, neither goal had been achieved.

There have been other deals between Israel and Hezbollah and none of them have been good - but neither have they significantly hurt Israel. This deal, which includes exchanging notorious terrorist Samir Kuntar, will number among one of the worst deals the State of Israel has ever cut with the enemy.

The reasoning for accepting the deal goes like this. The parents of Goldwasser and Regev, their immediate family, need closure. Their extended family, which has grown to include the entire country of Israel, needs closure. The Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem has said that Hezbollah has no more information to give about Israeli navigator Ron Arad who was shot down, taken hostage and abandoned on enemy soil twent-two years ago. If Hezbollah has no more information to give, then Kuntar has little currency. Politically Kuntar is now dead weight.

The best use of Kuntar right now is to sacrifice him for the remains of the Israelis, to stave off the possibility of Goldwasser and Regev turning into Arad - disappeared into a black enemy hole with no one claiming knowledge or possession. By retrieving the bodies Israel will be denying her enemies the pleasure of gloating over a prized possession - the bodies of two Israeli soldiers.

Kidnappings take a tremendous toll on a tiny, tightly knit, nation like Israel, a place where there are very few degrees of separation between families and the masses. In Israel almost everyone serves and that means that almost everyone's child is put at risk.

Israelis loan their children to the army, defending Israel against enemies is an unfortunate but totally understood reality. Israel receives those children with a special promise - to protect them, to make certain they do not die in vain. And if a parent is called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice for home and country, if an Israeli soldier is killed, Israel has always promised to bring back the body and erect a proper grave.

The Israeli army mantra, the Israeli army code, of "no body left behind in the battlefield" is not only meant to soothe soldiers and their families. It is also meant to tell the enemies of Israel that they will be denied the perverse thrill of publicly mutilating the bodies and then exchanging the corpses for live terrorists.

The ramifications of this deal are significant. The bodies will be returned, graves will be erected, but a gaping hole will have been placed in the Israeli justice system because of this prisoner exchange. The Arab terrorists in this exchange were tried and convicted by the Israeli court. Kuntar was sentenced to four life sentences without the possibility of parole for his brutal acts. Israel does not have capital punishment, this judgment was the toughest sentence the court could give.

Now the message is being transmitted to all terrorists - those already convicted and those still planning their acts - that there is always a way to get out, there is always the possibility of exchange. The message to the terrorists is that there is always a way to get out. Just kidnap Israelis and hold them for ransom.

And then there is the blow to the victims, the people injured by the terrorists now being released, the families of the people whom they killed and the people injured and killed in the capture of these terrorists. All Israelis understand the risk of living in Israel. All Israelis understand the dangers of terror and the reality of army service. These citizens of Israel relied on the State for justice. Now the brutal murderers will be set free because the State is cutting political and military losses.

There are some in Israel who think that this exchange does more than cut losses, they think that it hurts Israel militarily. They think that it signals a death sentence for Gilad Shalit, another hostage, another kidnapped Israeli soldier who is being held in Gaza by a Hamas-related group. They think that the enemy will now believe that if you can get so much for a dead soldier, why go through the trouble of keeping Shalit alive? The answer to that is, strange as it sounds, Hamas is not Hezbollah. Each enemy group, each terrorist organization, each country at war with Israel plays by their own set of rules much as Israel deals differently and independently with each of them.

There are those in the intelligence and the defense world who say never exchange live prisoners for dead soldiers. Live for live, dead for dead, no exceptions or you lose the advantage in negotiations. That thinking has merit. But today's politicians have acted differently and right now, in this exchange, it is too late to implement that policy.

This will not be the last negotiation because this will not be the last kidnapping. Terrorists are rehearsing. They have training films and propaganda reels. Recruits are learning how to grab the Israelis and how to carry them away.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Iran Again
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 7, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is up to some typical, two-faced, tricks.
Publicly, Iran is courting Egypt.
Internally, in Persian, Iran is expressing true feelings about Egypt.

The story unfolds at a nationally sponsored Iranian film festival. A new film makes its debut, it is entitled "The Assassination of a Pharaoh." The film is a tribute to Khalid Islamboli, the assassin who murdered Anwar Sadat in October 1981. The movie calls the assassin a martyr and calls Sadat a traitor.

Immediately after the 1981 assassination Iran named a square after the assassin - and Egypt severed all diplomatic ties.
Now Iran is investing large amounts of diplomatic currency in getting back into Egypt's good graces - and Egypt was buying.
Until the movie premiered.

Egypt is one of the most significant powers in the Arab world and in the Middle East, nothing happens without Egypt's nod of approval.
As gifted as Iran is in international diplomacy, time and time again the Iranians fall victim to their own extremist ideology and absolutist religious superiority and condescension.

Iran did themselves in on this one and Egypt is really ticked off.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

US Cool on Syria Talks
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 6, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Israel and Syria just finished their third round of talks.
They agreed to meet again for fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.
They are meeting through a third party, Turkey.

It is unlikely that anything will come out of these meetings, but that does not diminish their importance.
Israel and Syria are at least creating contacts and lines of communication.
Even when everything breaks down in Turkey, the parties will have some channels through which to keep in touch.
These channels will enable them to pursue back door discussions when necessary.

The US is cool - even negative about these talks.
The US is acting like a spoiled child who needs to always be in charge.
The US ambassador to Israel called the talks "a private Israeli affair."

Talks with Egypt, Jordan the Palestinians and almost every other party requires US involvement and supervision, but with Syria, the United States is uninterested.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Iraqi Shakes Israeli's Hand & There Are Calls For Apology
By Micah Halpern

Saturday July 5, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Earlier this week the President of Iraq, Jala Talibani, shook hands with former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak in Greece.
They were introduced by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the World Socialist International Conference in Greece.

Talibani is a Kurd, he leads the PUK which is one of two Kurdish parties in the ruling authority in Iraq.
Because of the hand shake many members of the Iraqi parliament have called for a public apology, others have demanded Talibani's resignation. The Iraqis say it is against Iraqi law to shake hands with an Israeli.
The fact is it is not against the law, the law is ambiguous, which means it is not illegal.

Talibani's office issued a statement that he shook Barak's hand as the representative of the PUK Kurdish party, not as president.
Supporters of the handshake said: "He was welcomed by Abbas who introduced him to Barak. It would have been illogical to refuse. It doesn't mean relations are normal."

Actually, not shaking hands would have been un-Arab and unacceptable public protocol. When one Arab leader introduces another Arab leader to some other leader, etiquette requires polite behavior.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Israel to Exchange Info With Hezbollah
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 4, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

On Friday the families of 4 Iranian diplomats arrived in Beirut.
They are the families of diplomats who disappeared in Lebanon in 1982.
Iran claims that Israel took them and has detained them since their capture in July of 1982.

Part of the deal with Hezbollah that includes exchanging live Arab prisoners for dead Israeli soldiers includes exchanging files of information.
Hezbollah will deliver their information on Ron Arad, the Israeli navigator shot down over Lebanon near Sidon in 1986.
The Iranians believe that the 4 diplomats are still alive.

The Israeli report will show that the Iranians were captured and killed by the Lebanese Christian Phalange group commanded by Hubeika, who was killed 6 years ago.

The Hezbollah report will say that they can not locate Ron Arad. It will say that Arad was captured before Hezbollah was created but they know that he died soon after his capture.
Israeli intel based on interrogations has Arad alive after capture and dying in the early 1990's, other intel has him dying in the mid 1990's.
There is no answer as to exactly when or how Ron Arad died or where his body is now located.

Information will be exchanged, but nobody will learn or be convinced of anything new.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Hezbollah in Iraq
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 3, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

The Associated Press ran an excellent piece yesterday on Hezbollah's influence in Iran and in Iraq.
The piece will probably only run as a line item in a few papers around the world. So pay attention to what AP has revealed - this is important.

AP has proof that Hezbollah has been training Shiites fighters first in Iraq and, three months ago, started training fighters in Iran.
The objective is to attack Sunnis and US strongholds in Iraq and destabilize the situation.

Hezbollah is a highly trained Shiite force.
Hezbollah is Arab.
Iran is happy to have Hezbollah train their own and Iraqi fighters.
Iraq is happy because Hezbollah instructors speak Arabic and can fit in without raising suspicion like an Iranian, who speaks only Persian, would do.

According to AP, Hezbollah has left the Lebanese comfort zone and expanded to include pan-Muslim fighting. Iran is investing in better instructors because Iran realizes that the conflict is bigger than a few tribes in Iraq.

Iraq is a real prize for Iran and the Iranians do not intend to give up without a serious fight.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 2, 2008


Ever since the Friday June 20th piece in The New York Times describing an Israeli air force training exercise into Iran analysts and prognosticators have been busy commenting, speculating and, in many cases, downright fantasizing.

The front page piece detailed an exercise involving hundreds of Israeli fighter jets flying over nine hundred miles and refueling mid-air on a practice run into Iran in order to destroy Iran's nuclear capability. Now everyone is busy speculating on if and when Israel will invade and attack Iran for real, not merely as exercise.

Truth is Israel might invade Iran, but only when there is no other alternative, only if the international community falls down on its job and allows Iran to achieve independent nuclear capability. And that time is not now. And should that time come, Israel will not announce it anywhere, not in the Israeli press, not in the international press and certainly not on the front page of The New York Times.

The story was released not by Israel, the story was released by the United States. Publicly announcing Israel's ability to target Iran is not in Israel's best interests - it is in the interest of the United States. This story was pitched not by Israel in an attempt to place pressure on Iran, it was pitched by the United States, a public relations ploy, a way for the Washington to apply pressure on Iran. True, Israeli defense and diplomatic channels have neither denied nor confirmed the activity and they have probably collectively chuckled over the speculative effect this story is having, but it was not their leak.

Washington is telling Teheran that there is a third party out there and that party is acting independently. Washington is telling other European capitals to look out for Israel, because Israel can do it on its own - and Israel will destroy Iran's nuclear capability on its own if they do not hurry up and act to get Iran under control.

The training exercise that took place a few weeks ago, in early June, was not the first such exercise by the Israeli air force. It will not be the last. Israel needs to plan. Israel needs to be prepared for a worst case scenario. Israel needs to be ready to thwart an imminent attack.

At the point of no return, if it seems certain that Iran has gone beyond the threshold and is on the verge of having everything necessary to create their nuclear bomb, at that last possible moment, that's when Israel will attack. And according to all Israeli estimates - if Iran cannot be derailed by the international community, that time will not come for at least another eighteen months.

An Israeli attack will be a specifically targeted attack. Israel will not set out to destroy everything Iran has, that takes too much effort and the risks are too high. All Israel needs to do is derail Iranian nuclear productivity, to set back the clock, to delay the process. A successful Israeli attack against Iran will be an attack that buys the time to bring down the weight of the world upon Iran and ultimately destroy Iran's dreams of successful nuclear development.

When Israel hit the Syrian agricultural laboratory on September 6th of last year the air force knew how to negotiate the mountain ranges of Turkey. They knew because they had practiced and practiced and practiced and they had permission from Turkey to fly over Turkish air space. Specifically, they had permission from Turkey to fly over their air space in order to enter and exit not Syria - but Iran. The Turkish government was not pleased, to say the least, that Israel chose to use their air space to bomb Syria without asking, but Turkey got over it, because Turkey realizes the need to keep Iran in check and Turkey knows that should all else fail, Israel will be forced into action.

Should international sanctions of Iran prove effective, Israel is less likely to attack Iran. Should the international community successfully limit Iranian nuclear development an Israeli attack will be less likely regardless of the vitriol and intensity of Ahmadinejad's verbal attacks against Israel and the West. Should Iranian Supreme Leader The Ayatollah Khamenei lose confidence in Ahmadinejad and trust that Israel and the international community are capable of striking Iran and should he consequently decide to soften Iran's nuclear stance, even for the short term, the possibility of an Israeli attack is reduced.

Inner Iran and the international community factor into the Israeli decision making process. But probably the most significant factor of all is the next president of the United States of America. Israel will not and cannot go into Iran without the permission of the United States and that permission is handed down directly from the Oval Office. Israel will petition for carte blanche permission. They will probably get a conditional yes depending on the intelligence reports and urgency. That's the way it played out on September 6, 2007. Plans were in place and Israel wanted to hit the Syrian site during the summer. The United States said no, the United States wanted more intelligence, proof that more and more materials were arriving from North Korea. And then, when the United States was satisfied of the need and the urgency, Israel attacked.

Iran has said publicly that "the Zionists do not have the capacity to threaten the Islamic Republic." But Iranian leaders know Israel's potential and they are willing to walk the tight rope, to balance the odds. Iran wants to be in control. Right now, Iran has the most to gain from this conflict. The Iranians are getting tremendous pan-Muslim support by simply standing up to the United States and drawing Israel into the conflict.

Israel realizes how dangerous Iran is. Israel knows how costly an air attack will be. If the time is right, if Israel does attack Iran, know that, without a doubt, we will have reached the point of no return.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

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