American History, Obama-rised

June 24, 2009


What’s this? President Obama talking tough about Iran? Could it be that the President-in-Training has received a spine transplant?

No, no such luck. But now that just about all the other Democracies of the free world have checked in with their condemnation of the Iranian government, Obama’s feckless “wait and see” response was beginning to look more and more impotent.

So, like a dime store novel everyone can predict, He stood at His carefully orchestrated (and oh, so predictable) press conference yesterday and used the strongest words yet to describe how He feels about developments in the Iranian protests. He staged an obviously rehearsed ” impromptu question” moment with a shill from the Huffington Post.  This enabled PrObama to use words like “appalled” and “outraged.” He even offered a tough expression almost as if He meant it. Yet He still “observed the moment,” rather than seizing it, once again preferring to “see how things play out.”

It got me to thinking: What if Obama had been President during other crises throughout America’s history? How different might have history looked? Well, let’s just see…

Boston, MA – (June 16, 1865 1775)

William Prescott: Mr. Obama, sir. The Redcoats have been occupying Boston now for nearly 2 weeks, fortifying themselves for battle at our expense. Now it’s been reported they are moving towards us and will be here shortly. We’re set up perfectly to surprise them sir and I strongly believe we can decimate them! I say we attack but not until we see the whites of their eyes! What say you?   

Barack Obama: Well, let’s not rush into this, Bill. I mean let’s look at the opportunity that lies before us. I have said repeatedly that I am willing to have a frank and meaningful dialog with their leader with no preconditions.

William Prescott: But sir, they have over 1,000 heavily armed troops marching towards us. That looks like a pretty serious “precondition” on their part, don’t you think? I say we start shooting as soon as we can see the whites of their eyes!

Barack Obama: Now hang on. Let me be clear: If we do that, that could conceivably be taken the wrong way and start a war. Look, they let that Paul Revere fellow go, didn’t they? I think it’s best for us to just wait here and see how this develops.

Washington, DC – (April 27, 1865)

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs (“PS Gibbs”):President Obama, It’s been nearly two weeks since President Lincoln was shot. Boothe has fled the city and is believed on his way out of the country. He needs to be stopped before he gets away!. What do you intend to do?

President Obama (“PrObama”): Well, I don’t want to be seen as jumping the gun here. You never know. He might just turn himself in. As for leaving the country, I think it’s premature to make that assumption. I think someone said he was scheduled to do Hamlet in Charlotte.  Let’s wait awhile and see how it all plays out. 

Washington, DC – (November 8, 1929)

PS Gibbs: Mr. President! Please! It’s been nearly 2 weeks since the stock market crashed. People have lost their life savings! Companies are shutting down left and right. There are literally people jumping out of high rise buildings to their death! What message do you want me to bring to the American people to calm their panic?

PrObama: Let me be clear: We don’t know for a fact that the people jumping out of buildings is related to the stock market crash. I think it’s important that we first rule out mass depression, or that maybe this is a mass suicide by some religious cult. I think it would presumptuous for us to make too many assumptions here that could send the American public the wrong message. If we’re not careful, we could intensify the very panic we’re trying to calm. Therefore, I think we should just wait awhile and see how it all plays out.

Washington, DC – (December 20, 1941)

PS Gibbs: Sir, it’s been nearly two weeks since the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Fires are still burning, the casualty count is enormous! A good part of our Pacific Fleet lies in ruins with most of it blocking the Harbor! What is your response? What will be your course of action?

PrObama:  Make no mistake: This type of attack is clearly unacceptable and the kind of thing that can strain relations with Imperial Japan. This, in turn, could jeopardize frank and honest discussions in the future. I mean, did any of us see this coming? Do any of us really know what’s behind this? If we rush into a response without knowing exactly what happened and why, we might be seen as meddling in something bigger. Accordingly, I think the best course of action is to wait and see how this plays out. 

Ah yes. There’s nothing like having a decisive leader who is able to make those crucial calls in time of crisis.

Gerry Ashley

An Open Letter To The People Of Iran

June 23, 2009


To my Iranian friends in your time of struggle,  As-Salāmu `Alaykum.

It is vitally important that you know you are not alone in your struggle for freedom from tyranny. It is a journey fraught with danger, loss, setbacks, and incredible victories. This is a journey that is more tolerable when taken together as a group, knowing you have the support of yet others around the world who have made the journey successfully.  

You have heard from the leaders of France, Germany, Canada and other countries who have announced they stand with you in your quest. I wish to apologize for the slow response of our President, Barack Obama, who is probably the leader you thought would be the first to stand with you. Although he has failed in this opportunity to be a world leader for freedom, please know that there are millions of us in America who do not hesitate to stand unequivocally by your side to let the world know in no uncertain terms that THIS is what we stand for in America: Free, honest elections, and above all, the right to voice our discontent with our leaders without fear of reprisal. The beauty of our democracy is clearly illustrated in the fact that although our leader may have faltered, we, the people do not. For the power of our democracy originates within its people and its Constitution, not its leaders. There are times like this when we take great comfort in that.

The road to freedom for all countries is long and hard fought. Each country must chart its own course, as you now do. While the journey has its dangers and difficulties, it is also rich in reward. And although we cannot be there in person to march with you, we will share your struggle through technology, letters, emails, tweets, blogs, phone calls, faxes. As you continue the journey, know this: The world will bear witness to your struggle, so it need not be done in darkness.

A truly inspiring American President, John F. Kennedy once said:

“We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.“

It is in that spirit that I, on behalf of myself and all who live the dream of democracy, encourage you on your quest and remind you that you are in the hearts and prayers of freedom lovers everywhere. We stand before you as living examples that your goal of liberty is achievable.

May God be with you and protect you on your journey.

Gerry Ashley

Obama’s Support: Too Little Too Late

June 22, 2009


Iranian Protesters discover Obama’s words are empty in time of crisis

“To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

President Barack Obama, during his Inauguration Address, January 20th (this year).

Another test, another failure for the Obama Presidency.

The problem in speaking great words of wisdom as the leader of the free world is that people will actually expect you to back them up from time to time. This is a lesson Barack Obama has yet to learn.

When President Obama spoke the above, his speech was praised by many as “bold” and “purposeful” while establishing a new direction for the United States. There are a bunch of bloodied Iranian anti-government protesters who beg to differ.

With the turn of events following Iran’s Presidential election last week, we have witnessed undeniable proof of the President’s inexperience, resulting in the appearance that there is little actual substance backing his fine words.

Mousavi’s supporters felt they had uncovered a fraudulent election. It became clear early on that the election was meaningless. The Mullahs had pre-ordained Ahmadinejad the victor before the first ballots were cast. Mousavi’s supporters took to the streets, confident they could count on “The anointed one” to give them credence through his  verbal support.

None came. Perhaps it was Date Night or maybe Obama was practicing his punch lines for the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.  Either way, as a crisis began, POTUS was AWOL.

Obama said nothing for several days. When Iranian security thugs began cracking down hard on the protesters, Obama somehow summoned up the courage to say, “I’m concerned.” Nothing more.

As the week progressed, Iran kicked out western journalists and tried to block Internet sites from covering the unrest. They also took to using brutal methods in the dark of night which, according to some who made their way out, included the use of axes against protesters.  Certainly now a statement would be forthcoming from Obama in an attempt to stop the violence against the protesters. And, for what it’s worth, they got it: “I’m deeply concerned.”

This is what happens when a rookie  with NO foreign experience and a limited understanding of his options runs the United States. And this is why the Presidency is no place for On-The-Job Training.

As William Bennett (who served under President Reagan and Bush 41) stated Sunday,

“He missed it. He missed the opportunity. He was feckless.”

Meanwhile other world leaders announced their repudiation of the use of violence, including Nicolas Sarkozy of France. So too did numerous journalists.

So too did the Congress of the United States, including Obama’s own party who didn’t hesitate to use the word “condemnation.”

Only after all of these statements came out, did Obama finally recover from his political laryngitis. But not before exposing to the world, that while he may be a great speaker when he has the luxury of choosing the date, time, and topic in advance, it would appear that in time of crisis, the great orator is not yet a leader, but a mumbling follower.

For in the end, Bennett had it right:

“We are the last best hope of earth. He is the President of the United States. If he will not side with these young people against a religious autocracy that is beating the hell out of people, what is the point of being the moral leader of the free world?”

Gerry Ashley

Update: Obama may have found his voice, but it came too late to save Neda, a young Iranian girl whose name means “voice” in Farsi. Michelle Malkin has covered her tragedy..

New CIA World Factbook and Iran

June 21, 2009

First, the new Factbook is out and available here. About Iran and what the following might mean…

Iranian breakdown by age:

  • 0 -14 years: 21.7% (male 7,394,841/female 7,022,076)
  • 15-64 years: 72.9% (male 24,501,544/female 23,914,172)
  • 65 years and over: 5.4% (male 1,725,828/female 1,870,823) (2009 est.)
  • Median age: 27 years

Expected education:

  • Grades 1 – 12 and at least 1 year of higher education

Urban population:

  • 68% of total population (2008)


  • Muslim 98% (Shia 89%, Sunni 9%)

Legal system:

  • Based on Sharia law. Iran has not accepted compulsory International Court of Justice jurisdiction

Alright… So that’s just a tiny statistical snippet. But is there anything in there that will offer insight into what’s happening in Iran right now?

  • The median age combined with the fairly high level of education accounts for all the info that we’re getting from Twitter, etc. Expect more communication and organization.
  • The size of the urban population is considerable, and in ratio about the same as France. Ahmadinejad has drawn strength from the rural poor… In this day and age, he’s clearly hitched his horse to a small and shrinking wagon.
  • The climate of Sharia law ensures that as long as these protests go on, expect more bloodshed. Also expect that the numbers presented so far will rise significantly.
  • 89% Shia [edited: 9% was typo]… These struggles won’t be lost on the 60% Shia of Iraq. Also keep in mind Iran’s close ties to Syria, Hezbolla, and Hamas. There’s a lot at stake here.

Bottom line? This may or may not be an immediate revolution… Whatever happens, it won’t be a revolution over the voting debacle. That seed has grown into the briar patch that is the role that the mullahs/military will play in Iranian governance. And quite frankly, given the technology and the youth of the country, the writing is on the Blackberry be it sooner or later.

Alan Speakman

Nuclear Arms Race in the Middle East

June 15, 2009

…Apparently it’s okay with President Obama, as long as it’s not triggered by Iran’s obtaining a nuke.

In his comments yesterday about the Iranian election, while he was feeling troubled about the whole issue, he also found the opportunity to slip in this gem:

“Now, with respect to the United States and our interactions with Iran, I’ve always believed that as odious as I consider some of President Ahmadinejad’s statements, as deep as the differences that exist between the United States and Iran on a range of core issues, that the use of tough, hard-headed diplomacy — diplomacy with no illusions about Iran and the nature of the differences between our two countries — is critical when it comes to pursuing a core set of our national security interests, specifically, making sure that we are not seeing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East triggered by Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon; making sure that Iran is not exporting terrorist activity.” [emphasis mine] [quote from the LA Times]

Geez, take a breath, will ya? But am I the only one who noticed that within PrezBO’s interminably loooong sentence about the odiousness of Ahmadinejad and hard-headed diplomacy, that he slid that little doozy in?

There are so many ways to read it:

“…making sure that we are not seeing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East triggered by Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon…”

He could mean that Iran must not obtain nukes. That’s what a simple hearing suggests. But it’s not quite what he said.

Conversely, he could mean that a Mid-East arms race is okay, as long as it’s not Iran getting nukes that triggers it.

Or he could mean that we’re going to allow Iran to obtain nukes, but it had better not set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

Being the incredibly intelligent, savvy, diplomatic, eloquent speaker that he is, it seems unlikely that he would obfuscate unless he wanted to hide his real meaning behind a verbal quick-step. His previous stern utterances on the subject include:

  • “It is not in their [Iran's] interest to pursue a nuclear weapon and they should change course.” [Washington Times]
  • When asked whether there was a moment in time when the U.S. would stop trying to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program, Mr. Obama said he did not “want to set an artificial deadline.” [Washington Times]
  • “Without going into specifics, what I do believe is that Iran has legitimate energy concerns, legitimate aspirations…” [AP]

If I were Ahmadinejad, I’d be quaking in my boots. Why, next thing you know, Obama might send a strongly-worded letter to the United Nations!

It seems clear to me that President Obama has resigned himself (and us, and the rest of the world) to the fact of a nuclear Iran. The question is, what are we going to do about it?


Accidents and Consequences

May 29, 2009


Speaking as an engineer, I’ll tell you right up front that I don’t worry so much about a temper tantrum from North Korea, Pakistan, Iran (et al)… as I do a ballistic accident. Consider the high-tech disasters from the past…

OK, you get the idea… At some point some nation is probably going to screw up with something like a high-tech ballistic missile or worse. Then what? You tell me… Here are my guesses, (probably as good as anything coming out of the White House or the Pentagon…)

  • Iran: If they accidentally pop something sizable into Israel, no doubt that the Israelis would answer back with something that resembles a mushroom cloud (especially under Netanyahu’s watch.)
  • India/Pakistan: Boom! Say no more.
  • N. Korea: Well, they could foul up and blast China in which case North Korea would no longer be an issue for consideration. (China is none too keen on refugees and they’re just a little bit more fussy about their border than we are.) Then again, Jim Jong Il could really screw the pooch and accidentally nail South Korea or even Japan… Needless to say that we’d stomp ugly on either of those scenarios.

And so it goes… Make your own Armageddon global, humanitarian, and financial disasters… It’s just a slight mistake away.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, I’m an engineer… I used to work in the dreaded “Military Industrial Complex”. I understand the pressures working under even the best of conditions, and the folks mentioned in the nations above certainly aren’t working in the best of conditions.

Wouldn’t it be a hell of a note… So this is how it ends – with both a bang and a whimpering “oops.”

Alan Speakman

Israel’s Doing What?

May 15, 2009


Earlier this week, my husband mentioned that he had read that Israel was holding mock dogfights using both F16s and MIGs, which they got from who knows where. We discussed the implications of this off and on for the rest of the evening, wondering if this exercise heralded anything in particular, or was just a show of strength.

Robert Avrech at Seraphic Secret connects more dots. Lots more. Based on what the Israeli military has been doing recently, he wonders how much longer Iran will have a nuclear facility. Being a screenwriter, Mr. Avrech calls this “foreshadowing.” Not being a screenwriter, I call it “bad news for Iran”, but “forshadowing” works for me too.

1. The IAF borrowed Soviet MIG 29’s jets from a friendly Eastern European nation—I’m guessing Poland—and practicing dogfights and heavy formations with Israeli F16’s. Guess which country in the Middle East uses MIG 29’s?

2. Earlier this month, Israeli jets flew to Gibraltar and back refueling in mid air. The 2,361 miles distance from Israel mimics the distance required to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities from Israel.

3. IDF reservists were called up to practice manning the Arrow anti-missile batteries.

4. Over the past year the IAF has flown several combat missions into Sudan to destroy convoys carrying weapons from Iran to be smuggled into Gazastan. The IAF flew these missions without interference from a single Arab state. Again, the round trip distance is striking.

Heh. “Striking.”

Mr. Avrech goes on to point out that President Obama likely believes that his own personal charm, plus the diplomatic skills of his State Department, will be enough to prevent Iran from going nuclear, while the mullahs can barely conceal their amusement at such a conceit.

A nuclear Iran is a situation that the entire world should be taking far more seriously, especially with conditions in the Middle East as they are today. Make no mistake: if Iran attains its goal of becoming nuclear, it will use that power. And I believe Israel will only be the beginning. I agree with Mr. Avrech when he says:

I have this weird tendency to take it quite seriously when a holocaust denying Muslim Jew-hater threatens another Holocaust.

But that’s just me.

Sir, you are not alone in this tendency.

I sincerely hope that when Israel makes its move, President Obama will immediately throw the weight of the United States in the balance with Israel. A nuclear Iran threatens not just the Jewish state; it threatens the entire free world.


Roxana Saberi Update

May 4, 2009


blue_ribbon_campaign_bannerFrom AP: Incarcerated in Evin Prison in Tehran after having been convicted of spying by a kangaroo court, American citizen Roxana Saberi was hospitalized for a short time last Friday after she expanded her hunger strike to exclude water as well as food. Ms. Saberi’s father had previously reported that although she was refusing food, she was drinking sweetened water.

After the Iranian government had denied that she was on a hunger strike, Saberi gave up water as well. In a weakened condition, she was taken to the prison’s clinic where she was given water and subsequently returned to her prison cell.

In a show of solidarity with Saberi and other journalists and bloggers being held at Evin, several journalists from Reporters Without Borders have begun their own hunger strike, while encouraging Saberi to end hers, out of concern for her health.

An Iranian government spokesman, Hasan Qashqavi, made it clear that the attention being shown to Ms. Saberi’s case was unwelcome:

”Iran’s judiciary is an independent body and any foreign attempt to intervene in it goes against international measures.

”This is not a complicated issue. This Iranian woman has been sentenced and should wait and see what verdict the appeals court will issue.”

Ms. Saberi holds dual US/Iranian citizenship, and has been incarcerated in Evin Prison since early February.


Roxana Saberi Blogburst

April 27, 2009


blue_ribbon_campaign_bannerWhy is an American journalist and researcher languishing in an Iranian prison?

Roxana Saberi, an American journalist and former beauty queen from North Dakotah is in prison. In Iran. She’s been  incarcerated in Evin Prison in Tehran since February. She was accused by the Iranian government initially of purchasing bootleg wine, then of practicing journalism without a license, and finally of espionage. Her trial, which lasted an hour, took place last Monday, and neither Saberi nor her lawyer was aware that a trial was even scheduled until it was actually happening. The outcome: Saberi was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment for spying.

Ms. Saberi is now on the sixth day of a hunger strike, and is reported to be very weak. Her parents are in Tehran hoping for miracles. Michelle Malkin is providing excellent coverage of Ms. Saberi and other journalists and bloggers imprisoned in Evin Prison in Tehran.

What is the Obama administration doing about this? Well, according to the BBC, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has expressed her deep concern about the detention of an Iranian-American journalist in Iran:

“We are deeply concerned by the news that we are hearing,” Mrs Clinton said.

Deeply concerned. How nice, Hillary.

What of President Obama? What is he doing to secure the release of an American citizen from a unjust accusation, a kangaroo court, and the horrors of an Iranian prison?

Obama, talking to reporters at a press conference at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, said that he is “gravely concerned with her safety and well-being.”

“We are working to make sure that she is properly treated and to get more information about the disposition of her case,” Obama said.

The president said the U.S. will be in contact with Swiss intermediaries “to ensure that we end up seeing a proper disposition of this case.”

I hope Ms. Saberi survives all the grave concern emanating from the White House.


Russia Arming Itself… And Iran

March 18, 2009


Hard on the heels of Alan’s post about Russia re-arming itself comes confirmation of something long suspected: that Russia is also arming Iran with S-300 air defense missiles. Via USAToday:

Russian news agencies cited a top defense official Wednesday as confirming that a contract to sell powerful air-defense missiles to Iran was signed two years ago, but saying no such weapons have yet been delivered.

Russian officials have consistently denied claims the country already has provided some of the S-300 missiles to Iran. They have not said whether a contract existed…

I guess it depends on what “is” is.

A prominent Russian analyst, Ruslan Pukhov of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, said the missile contract was seen by the Kremlin as primarily a political rather than commercial matter.

“The S-300 contract, and cooperation with Iran in general, is regarded by Moscow only as an instrument of political bargaining with the West and not as a way of realizing the fundamental defense and commercial interests of Russia,” he was quoted as saying by RIA-Novosti.

Medvedev (and by extension, Putin) are playing hardball in the major leagues here. I hope President Obama will be ready when he comes to bat.



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