Wednesday, January 18, 2012



Richard Rubin Sentenced to Ten Months in Federal Prison[Image]
RICHARD RUBIN AND DIANA WASSERMAN-RUBINRichard Rubin — husband of former Broward County Commissioner Diana Wasserman-Rubin, who still faces seven felony charges of her own — was sentenced this morning to ten months in federal prison.Rubin, 66, pleaded guilty in April to federal tax evasion after failing to report $100,000 in fees he received from the town of Davie for a land deal he brokered in 2004.With attorney David Bogenschutz at his side, Rubin managed to get only ten months up the river — which is in accordance with sentencing guidelines but much less than the maximum penalty of five years.Rubin had said in court that he and the wife faced financial burdens from damage done to their home by Hurricane Wilma and also owed on a loan he could not repay — which is why he attempted to cheat on his taxes a bit.That also wasn’t too long after Rubin took in $1.1 million for writing grants for the town of Southwest Ranches — grants that were approved in part by the votes of his wife while she was a county commissioner.Then, the probable-cause affidavit released last year contended, the couple was living quite lavishly — including spending money on artwork, cruises, vacations to Europe, and a $150,000 home repair project.Rubin wasn’t charged with tax evasion until April of this year.The State Attorney’s Office, however, charged Wasserman-Rubin last year with seven counts of felony unlawful compensation related to her votes for her husband’s grant-writing.Rubin has until August 31 to report to his new home at a minimum-security prison.


Dear Mr. Holland:
Thank you for contacting the Office of The Governor regarding your concerns with the Keystone Pipeline.  I am including links to our Congressional Delegation, the ND Pipeline Authority and information on the proposed new refinery as per your request.
Senator John Hoeven                                                                      (202) 224-2551 - Washington Office
Senator Kent Conrad                                                                  (202) 224-2043 – Washington Office
Representative Rick Berg                                                                       (202) 225-2611 – Washington Office
Justin Kringstad, ND Pipeline Authority                                  (701) 220-6227
It was very nice to visit with you today per phone and thank you for writing.
Barb Peske
Constituent Services Director
Office of Governor Jack Dalrymple
600 East Boulevard Avenue, Department 101
Bismarck, North Dakota  58505-0001
(701) 328-2208
Fax: (701) 328-2205
From: Apache [] On Behalf Of Bill Holland
Sent: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 12:32 PM
To: -Info-Governor's Office
Subject: Bill Holland

Contact Form Submission

Bill Holland
Phone Number
573 391 0599
Keystone Pipeline
So if Obama doesn't want the pipeline..Why don't you quickly put a consortium together to build the first of a group (If needed) of Refineries in North Dakota to process the Oil from Canada (Including Canada Investors) and Process the Oil There in North Dakota... Makes sense to me ? Oil Companies will invest in this instead of shipping it all the way to Texas..Hell Everybody will invest in this..... Bill Holland
Submitted from on 01/18/2012 - 12:32pm from IP address: []


The Ten Commandments According to Obama....

I. Thou shalt have no God in America, except for me. For we are no longer a Christian nation and, after all, I am the chosen One. (And like God, I do not have a birth certificate.) 

II. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, unless it is my face carved on Mt. Rushmore.

III. Thou shalt not utter my middle name in vain (or in public). Only I can ...say Barack Hussein Obama.

IV. Remember tax day, April 15th, to keep it holy.

V. Honour thy father and thy mother until they are too old and sick to care for. They will cost our public-funded health-care system too much money.

VI. Thou shalt not kill, unless you have an unwanted, unborn baby. For it would be an abomination to punish your daughter with a baby.

VII. Thou shalt not commit adultery if you are conservative or a Republican. Liberals and Democrats are hereby forgiven for all of their infidelity and immorality, but the careers of conservatives will be forever destroyed.

VIII. Thou shalt not steal, until you've been elected to public office. Only then is it acceptable to take money from hard-working, successful citizens and give it to those who do not work, illegal immigrants, or those who do not have the motivation to better their own lives.

IX. Thou shalt not discriminate against thy neighbor unless they are conservative, Caucasian, or Christian.

X. Thou shalt not covet because it is simply unnecessary. I will place such a heavy tax burden on those that have achieved the American Dream that, by the end of my term as President, nobody will have any wealth or material goods left for you to covet 

Can Ron Paul Win as a Third Party Candidate?

18 January 2012 No Comment
Can Ron Paul Win as a Third Party Candidate?By Greg Hunter’s
In a new poll, out yesterday, 7 out of 10 Republicans and right leaning independent voters believe Mitt Romney will be the GOP nominee for President.  (Click here for that poll.)   Does that mean it’s over for Congressman Ron Paul?  I think it is safe to say it is probably a long shot he will be the Republican nominee, but what about a third party run?  Can Ron Paul win as a third party candidate?  I say that is much less of a long shot, and here’s why.
Let me first say, Dr. Paul has repeatedly said that he has no interest in running as a third party candidate.    I do not know (or have talked to) anyone in his campaign.  This is my objective analysis and nothing more.  Ron Paul as a third party candidate would be much different than the third party candidates of the past.  Conservative presidential candidate Ross Perot of the 1992 and 1996 elections predominantly took votes away from the Republican candidates.  In 1992, national exit polls had Perot splitting the Republican and Democrat vote equally, but it was not split equally in every state.  (Click here for more on this.)  A president is voted in by winning each state’s Electoral College votes.  It’s a winner take all game, so every state gives a certain number to the winner of each state.   Also, Perot spent millions hammering Bush in the 1992 primaries; so, Perot mostly had a negative effect on the Republicans.  The ultra-liberal Ralph Nader’s third party campaign in 2000 took votes away from Al Gore, the Democrat.  More than 97,000 voted for Nader in Florida alone.  Gore would have easily won the election and Florida if Nader would have not run.
Then there is Ron Paul.  He would, no doubt, run on a Libertarian type ticket.  Paul would take votes from Republicans that think Romney is not conservative enough.  After all, he has, so far, come in second in the caucuses and primaries, but that is just with the GOP.  He would take a large percentage of the 40% of people who call themselves “Independent” voters.  Paul also does well with young voters.  In Iowa and New Hampshire, nearly half of all GOP voters under 30 voted for Dr. Paul.  He would probably do well with Democrats in the same group.  He may be booed in South Carolina by the old guard for his anti-war policies, but the young, who would have to fight the wars, think his message is on target.
As far as liberal Democrats go, Paul would carve a significant amount out of President Obama’s base.  Some of the most stinging criticism of the President has come from his own party.  You can’t get much more left leaning than the ACLU, and that organization said the most recent signing of the “Indefinite Detention” bill by the President basically guts the Bill of Rights.  The ACLU says, “The bill contains dangerous, sweeping worldwide indefinite detention provisions.”  The ACLU has vowed to fight this unconstitutional legislation all the way to the Supreme Court.  Even MSNBC’s Rachael Maddow, a self-proclaimed liberal, criticized the President on this issue.  (Click here and hear her nearly 8 minute rant from early December 2011.)   The President also said on 60 Minutes, “. . . some of the least ethical behavior on Wall Street, wasn’t illegal.”  This statement is absurd because the meltdown of 2008 is 70 times worse than the S&L crisis 20 years ago when 1,000 financial elites were convicted of crimes.  Zero criminal prosecutions of financial elites happened in the wake of the 2008 meltdown.  I think it is safe to say Ron Paul would take some very disgruntled Democrats away from Obama.
On the other hand, GOP candidate Romney would get very few votes from Democrats because, after all, there is little difference between him and Obama on this issue.  Romney thinks “corporations are people.” Romney and the GOP would like you to think the 2008 meltdown is “all the government’s fault” for making the poor defenseless banks loan money to poor people who couldn’t pay it back.  That is a crock!  Don’t take my word for it.  Listen to William Black, former bank regulator and professor of both law and economics, on how zero financial elites have been prosecuted for crime. (Click here for one of many stories.)  Remember, this is what Occupy Wall Street is all about.  Obama and Romney will get very few votes from these folks.
So, Congressman Paul could do something that no other third party candidate has done in recent history– take votes from left, right and center.  This is why both Democrats and Republicans fear and loath him.  I have noted several Ron Paul snubs on both the left and the right, but Democrats seem especially terrified.  Can you imagine Obama debating Dr. Paul on civil liberties, true Wall Street reform, budget deficits or war?  After the New Hampshire primary, liberal commentator Lawrence O’Donnell said John Huntsman was the “real second” when, in fact, Ron Paul was by a significant margin.  “Daily Show” comedian Jon Stewart rants about this stupid and biased comment.  Please watch, it’s funny.
Huntsman was doing so well he dropped out of the race before the next primary in South Carolina.  Dana Bash, also, showed her true biased feelings on CNN in early January when she said she was “worried . . . Ron Paul will continue on long into the spring and summer.”  (Click here to hear the comments of CNN reporter Dana Bash for yourself.)  So, why would Congressman Paul “continue on long into the spring and summer” even if he would likely not win the GOP nomination?  Do you know of any third party primaries out there?   Of course not.  Paul would keep campaigning just to get press and gain votes.  Dr. Paul would love to narrow the field down to just Romney, and he has the money and campaign organization to do it.  When it’s mathematically impossible for Paul to get the GOP nomination, I expect a third party run.  At 76, I can’t imagine this man of conviction to just pull up stakes and leave the presidential race to the two corporate candidates put forth by the Democrats and Republicans.   

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


President's Adviser receives Secret Service Detail - First Ever ?

by Ulsterman on January 17, 2012 with 0 Comments in News
Has an adviser to a president ever received a Secret Service detail?  Apparently Valerie Jarrett does…
In a story initially broken by WhiteHouseDossier reporter Keith Koffler, it appears controversial and highly influential senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett has justified utilizing taxpayer funded Secret Service protection.  Local reports of Jarrett’s recent visit to achurch in Atlanta indicated the presence of Secret Service agents.  Such a presence would be rather unusual for someone simply described as a presidential adviser:
It’s possible that Jarrett has received enough specific and credible threats to justify Secret Service protection, or that the Secret Service has for some other reason calculated that she needs bodyguards. But it’s also possible this is a case of oddly overdoing it – and overusing taxpayerresources.
Is she really such a public figure? I’m sure 90 percent of Americans have little to no idea who she is. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney is far better known and spends his time warning terrorists and our foreign adversaries about bad behavior while trumpeting the killing of Osama Bin Laden. I’m sure he does not have protection.
One source of mine, who is knowledgable about what a Secret Service detail would look like, said he spotted Jarrett at Reagan National Airport with her protection as she departed Washington just before Christmas.


Wall Street Insider: Complete January 2012 Interview

Both parts of our January 2012 Interview with Wall Street Insider…

(Originally published in two parts on January 7th and January 8th, 2012)

UM:  So you called me here directly and I believe I detected more than a bit of frustration in your voice over my recent stories involving Ron Paul.  Is that correct?
WSI:  Yes – quite correct.  With all due respect…you are absolutely 100% wrong in your concerns over the Ron Paul campaign – or at the very least, wrong in your seeming dismissal in some of the issues he has quite correctly raised regarding the imminent dangers to America.
UM:  Even if that were true, why Ron Paul?  There appears to be no real path for him to win the nomination, and if he runs as a third party candidate he would most likely not win there either.  I am confused why someone in your position…why the concern over Ron Paul of all people?
WSI: I am not concerned over Ron Paul – I am concerned over your coverage of Ron Paul and how you are wasting precious time and resources attempting to discredit Ron Paul.  If -name withheld- set you off in that direction…they were incorrect in doing so and I would urge you to question their motivation.
UM:  Right-right…you tell me to watch out for their motivations.  They tell me to watch out for your motivations…enough of that sh-t ok?  How about we just focus right now, entirely, on the reason behind you calling me in to talk about Ron Paul.  I don’t get it.  Why would you of all people make what was basically a demand that I come up here to listen to you defend a candidate who has repeatedly voiced his disgust over Wall Street?  It doesn’t add up.
WSI:  I would beg to differ – not adding up is exactly the reason for my concern – a concern that is not so much about your work…or what seems at the moment to be more of an odd obsession, to reveal some silly truth about Ron Paul…I mean George Soros?  Really?  And even if true – who cares?  That kind of information is secondary to the real and crucial value provided by Ron Paul to the national discussion.
UM:  National discussion?  Right…enlighten me.  Please.
WSI:  Sarcasm?  Is that your tone?  If this is to serve its proper purpose I need you listening – and without judgement.
UM:  Sarcasm – guilty as charged.  But in my defense, I would call it justifiable sarcasm at this point.
WSI: I was told long ago that what you don’t see with your eyes, don’t invent with your mouth.
(Long Pause)
WSI:  What you don’t see with your eyes, don’t invent—
UM:  I heard you.  The first time.
WSI:  Yes – you heard…but you are not listening.
UM:  Can you hear me now?
WSI:  Pardon?
UM: Never mind – get to whatever point this is supposed to be taking us.  You want to talk about Ron Paul – my coverage…unfair, whatever – just start there and let’s move this along.  I’m really trying to remain respectful here but…I…I’m in no mood to have my time wasted, and traffic was a real b-tch.  And -name withheld- has me flying to…just never mind.  Get on with it.
WSI:  Please refrain from that – those kinds of tasteless expressions.
UM:  …Get to your point. Please.
WSI:  I will simply begin with my own words from among our very first discussion – I would like to read those words back to you now.  Is that acceptable?
UM:  Sure.
WSI:  I wish to read that part of our discussion verbatim, to you…to the readers – and could you please include it then in this…as part of this publication?  And then I promise, – I assure you, I will explain my concern over your recent treatment over Ron Paul – though I do believe you will begin to grasp that concern when you listen again to what I told you some time ago.  All of this that you have been doing…all of the information and hints and…demands from -name withheld- to look elsewhere…you may be suffering from a failure to see the forest for the trees.  No disrespect…but your focus lacks…focus in this.  And that could prove very detrimental to what you…what we are attempting here.
UM:  Start.  Begin – read the words.  The interview.  Was that from late summer?  The first one, right?
WSI:  That is correct.
UM:  Get on with it then…
WSI:  Yes…apologies for the length to read – but here it is:

Excerpt from original Wall Street Insider interview follows:

“Ulsterman:  Do you support the Federal Reserve?
Wall Street:  No.
Ulsterman:  Can you expand on that answer?
Wall Street: That would take it beyond a yes or no response then.
Ulsterman: Just give me a quick summary of why you don’t support the Fed.
Wall Street:  That is long bit of history…I will simply say the current Federal Reserve leadership is the single most dangerous contributor to the current economic climate in this country.  I would qualify that by also stating not everyone in the Fed agrees with the current leadership position.  There is quite a fight going on in-house there.
Ulsterman:  Does Ben Bernanke need to be removed from his position at the Fed?

Wall Street: Yes – absolutely.
Ulsterman:  Does Timothy Geithner need to be removed from his position at Treasury?
Wall Street:  No.
Ulsterman:  Why not?
Wall Street:  My answer was no.  That’s it.
Ulsterman:  Do you consider Ben Bernanke more dangerous to the American economy than President Obama?
Wall Street:  Yes – the president…the president likely has no clue what Chairman Bernanke is doing…has done, to the financial health of this country.  Mr. Bernanke has been a boon to the volatility feeders.  We are at the abyss here you know.  So many of us know it, but nobody – very few…want to openly communicate that fact.  The situation of this country is frightening.  I cannot begin to…my words won’t do justice to just how dangerous this situation has become.
Ulsterman:  What Bernanke is doing – is it intentional?
Wall Street: I believe so…(pause) yes.
Ulsterman: Care to elaborate?
Wall Street:  (Sighs) No…not now.  I’m not ready for that.
Ulsterman:  What is the abyss?  The economy – the economy is at the abyss?  The debt?
Wall Street:  These cannot be yes or no answers.  And I’m getting tired here.  I apologize for that, but this needs to come to a conclusion.
Ulsterman:  Explain what the abyss is.  Briefly.  Please.
Wall Street: (Long pause)…Money has an inherent value.  The borrowing of money is to have an inherent cost.  That relationship is to be a symbiotic one.  If you take away one, it can kill the other. —Don’t interrupt me here – if you don’t understand I can’t…I won’t be the one to explain it for you. Not at this time.
Ulsterman: Go ahead – I apologize.  Please go ahead…
Wall Street:  What the Federal Reserve is doing is killing off that relationship – that critical symbiotic component of a free-market economy.  We are on this day a more centralized economy than at any other point in our history.  Fiscal contagion can spread from nation to nation with a single click.  Trillions upon trillions in value has been wiped out of the market by the printing of money with lessening value.  When you wonder why Wall Street has succeeded under President Obama while Main Street continues to struggle is simply because Main Street still exists in some semblance of a free market economy.  That relationship between the value of money and the cost of borrowing that value still exists.  Wall Street has been allowed to exist outside of that reality.  The Fed has made it so, and the result…we are nearing just the beginnings of that result – will be outright economic disaster.  2008?  Nothing.  1929?  Yes – that is where we are going here.  And with that kind of economic chaos – what is soon to follow?  Read you history.  War. Famine.  A total shock to the system, except this time, we have a proliferation of nuclear weapons, countries such as Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, they will be directly involved in this chaos.  And of course there is China…the time I could spend on China…

Among the most frustrating things following the collapse of the Soviet Union was the repeated phrase that the Cold War had ended.  Not so.  China remained.  China, who by then was a far greater economic threat to the United States than the Soviet Union – they were conveniently forgotten as part of that Cold War.  Our intellectual laziness in that regard has now come home to roost.  And we are cutting ourselves.  Death by a thousand cuts.  Every deficit dollar we print, we come closer to that abyss.  We are at 40 or 50 trillion in total debt in this country – and in an economy that is no longer growing anywhere near a pace that can even pretend to accommodate such a debt.  The folly of the New Deal and the Great Society and that entire mindset is choking the future of the nation.  Literally choking the life out of us.  Me, you, our kids, our grandkids…nothing will be left for them but pieces of what used to be, and a world ready and willing to feed off those scraps.
And these labor unions – the shift from private to governmental unionization…the inherent legacy costs of that scenario is simply unsustainable.  The free market cannot withstand the attack.  It is collapsing all about us now and too many are simply not paying attention.  The only hope for our recovery – the only hope, is our ability to grow our way out of this.  That growth, along with massive cuts in government spending, is the only way.  Nations such as Greece, Ireland, Italy, Spain …they have come to this understanding, but have only been able to do so with the assistance of other nations who in turn are printing their own deficit dollars in order to do so.  That situation cannot be sustained can it?  And certainly not without growth.  Do you know the number of payroll jobs in 1999 was approximately 130 million?  That is the same number as in 2011.  Zero growth.  This economic stagnation is leading to economic decapitation and it is coming sooner not later.  It is happening NOW.  If this nation does not elect leaders with the political will to do battle with the entitlement status quo, to do battle with the monster that is the Federal Reserve, we are finished. Done.  President Obama does not have the political will to do so.  Far from it. Nor does he have the understanding of just how dire the situation is. Far from it.  More of the same will only lead to the mutual destruction of both political parties and the nation.”
…UM:  I understand what you’re saying about debt…about the deficit and the dangers to the country.  I don’t understand the link necessarily to that topic and your insistence against my coverage of the Ron Paul campaign.  Why the emphasis on Ron Paul?  If you don’t think he actually has a chance to win – why the bloody focus on him that is coming from you?
WSI:  I already stated that my focus was not on Ron Paul – but rather my focus in on the issues he has and continues to raise.  Your attempts to diminish him – and that is exactly what you have been doing.  Please don’t attempt to deny that now – that is what you have been doing.  By diminishing Mr. Paul – you run the risk of diminishing the crucial issue that is the essence of his campaign.  And I don’t believe you fully appreciate the warning I am attempting to convey to you here – the risk of a total and all-consuming collapse of the world economy.
UM:  No…I do.  The Fed is printing phony money, right?  The value of the dollar is diminished to the point where it is no longer worth anything.  From there the system falls apart. Yeah – I  get it.
WSI:  With all due respect – sincerely…no you do not “get it” if that is in fact the limits of your understanding.
UM: How about we go back to Ron Paul, ok?  Why are you so concerned about my coverage of him?  Why would someone like you give…give any…why would you even care?
WSI:  Because I am certain that in your attempts to diminish Mr. Paul you are diminishing the issues he has raised – issues that must be an essential component of the national discussion if we are to avert what will soon be unavoidable and complete economic disaster.  You are in essence, doing the bidding of the Obama White House.
UM:  You need to explain that one – and  right quick.
WSI:  You are chasing windmills with all of this Ron Paul – George Soros nonsense.  You are making Ron Paul a joke, you are making all of the work you have done to this point – and it is reaching the eyes and ears of those in influence, of that I can assure you – but all of that is now being lost because you have chosen, or you were told…to pursue this ridiculous path of the last few weeks.  If you wish to continue sharing time with me such as we are doing now…you must turn off of that path.  I will not entertain such nonsense.  Not for another minute.  It must end – now.
UM:  For you to make that kind of demand of me requires a hell of a lot more explanation than you are giving.  Enough of the mystery here.  The fact is, of all of us involved in this – you are the one who could most easily survive exposure.  You can’t argue that.  But I’ve more than met my obligation to you and protected your identity out of both honor and respect to you and others involved.
WSI: And I am appreciative of that honor and respect you have shown me.  Nothing I have done or said should make you believe otherwise.  If that appreciation did not exist – you would have been silenced some time ago.
UM:  What?
WSI:  Not – that was not intended as a threat.  Apologies.  What I meant to convey is that you would have found the risk to yourself – the discovery…it would have been made available to others.  Your own position would have been likely terminated.  You know that would be easy enough for someone such as myself to do.  And so – I am…grateful for your willingness to put yourself at such risk.  And I have been very careful in what has been disclosed to you for fear of placing you in too great of risk.  I hope you understand that…and believe me when I say it.
UM:  So you categorically deny that any link to George Soros and the Ron Paul campaign exists?  That topic has no merit? No value for me to explore?  The potential gaming of the primary campaign – you know the Democrats did that already, right? The McCain the campaign thing, right?  Are you denying that took place too?  Are you calling -name withheld- a liar?
WSI:  Not at all.  If they say that is what happened I have no reason to believe otherwise.
UM:  So why be so dismissive of something similar happening with the Ron Paul thing?
WSI: Thing?
UM:  The damn campaign – the Paul campaign!
WSI:  You mean your obsession with George Soros and the Ron Paul campaign?
UM:  Yeah – my obsession.  Your term – not mine.
WSI: I don’t really care if it exists or not.  I don’t believe it does.  Please understand – George Soros is a cartoon for the most part.  Granted, a well organized one, yes, he does have influence – but the sum total is that of a buffoon.  And if he is doing a bit of work with the Ron Paul campaign…I don’t really care – and neither should you.  I would be far more concerned with figures such as Leo Gerard and the undo influence they are directly wielding upon the government of the United States.  You pursued that for a moment – why have you stopped?

UM:  I haven’t stopped…I can’t focus entirely on that all the time.
WSI:  You could and you should.  The question that now must be answered – is if you will.
UM:  Leo Gerard is not…I’ve haven’t seen any new activity from him lately.  So I have to look at other stories, other—
WSI: (Interrupts)  No new activity?  Really?  The labor board appointments?  Do you have any idea how crucial that is?  Do you have any inkling of the all out offensive the unions are planning to take after Barack Obama secures re-election in 2012?  He will be a president no longer beholden to the responsibilities of an upcoming election.  If you thought his first term has been a disaster for freedom and opportunity in America…my dear boy…open your eyes.  Please.
UM:  My eyes ARE open.  Yes, I assumed there was a connection to Gerard and the labor union appointments.  But there was no proof.
WSI:  Perhaps you didn’t look hard enough.  Perhaps you have been far too distracted with the Ron Paul nonsense.
UM: Once again I’m gonna ask you to explain to me why you are being so protective of Ron Paul?  And so damn dismissive of the possibility that his campaign is being used by Soros, or the progressives, the Obama campaign – maybe all of them…that they are using his campaign to create chaos in the Republican primary?  Why you don’t think that possibility is worthy of some investigation?  Please – explain that to me.  Without the mystery.  Without the broad economic doom and gloom talk.  Just come right out and say it.
WSI: (Smiles)  I already told you in quite simple terms that I did not care if the Ron Paul campaign was being manipulated or not by some other person or entity.  That possibility is not nearly so crucial as the underlining message that Mr. Paul is bringing to the national discourse – that of a Federal Reserve out of control and consolidating power not only within America, but around the globe.  If you wish to see witness of the one-world globalization movement…irrefutable proof that such a thing does in fact exist – you look no further than the Federal Reserve.  At this very moment, there are individuals working collectively toward the implementation of a world crisis scenario that will provide the platform for the unification of the Federal Reserve, the IMF, with a strong assist from other such entities as the UN…the climate change movement is involved…those are merely laundering organizations you know…window dressing.  Deceptions…climate change, AIDS relief, world hunger relief, disaster relief…on and on and on.  The Clintion Initiative…-name deleted- almost let that slip with you recently… each a small portion of the larger puzzle…all the pieces…I have watched over decades as these pieces have been moved into place.  And before you wish to insult me – yes, I have put forth time and effort…often at great personal expense, to slow what appears to be an unstoppable force.  This is the topic of which I have protected you from.  This is the threat underway at this very moment. It has always been…and now it appears ready to reach its intended conclusion.  Your Ron Paul – George Soros stories? Rubbish.  All of it. Pure rubbish.  And I will add this…Congressman Paul, for all of his many other political faults of which I am well aware…the naive – even dangerous, foreign relations views, his rather questionable outlook regarding Israel…all of that is secondary to me when compared against the truth he speaks regarding the Federal Reserve, the collapse of the dollar, and the absolute and horrific chaos that will be unleashed upon the country and the world if the United States does in fact fall into the abyss.  It is that message that cannot be diminished! It is that message that MUST be an essential component to the 2012 campaign – whoever the Republican candidate is – they MUST challenge President Obama on that issue.  Time and time again.  That issue must be raised in this election, and if this country be so fortunate – the next election, and every election after until the doomsday scenario being played out by the likes of Ben Bernanke and others is resolved.  By attacking Ron Paul, you attack this issue – the most crucial issue to this presidential campaign,  and in doing so, you are unwittingly doing the bidding of Barack Obama and his legion of progressive supporters.

(Long silence)
UM:  …And you accuse me of chasing windmills?
WSI:  (Shakes head)  Ah…you prove my point.  You are not worthy of the truth.  Now you would mock me?
UM: No – you just laid out a whole lot right there.  A whole lot of what I don’t really know at this point.  The globalization thing…sure…there is clearly a push by some to move in that direction.  But am I understanding you correctly when you say it’s more than just a direction – that there are forces at work right now to enforce this…globalization – if that is the correct term…to force this globalization on us right now?
WSI:  I admitted to you of not voting in any election up to this point.  I will be voting in this one.  That vote is not so much because I feel my one vote will actually make the difference…in the past I have certainly worked in favor of some presidential candidates over others…but I never voted.  Until now.
UM: You never fully explained why beyond saying because the stakes were so high for this election.  Is that it?
WSI:  Certainly – yes.  But…at my age…(pause)
…at my age, and if this election…if Barack Obama is re-elected…the country my parents fled to…when they escaped the Nazis who had invaded France…that America…(pause)…that…that…(pause)…forgive me.  Apologies.  The older I become…the more easily emotions overcome me…
…Are you familiar with the concept of absolution?  I assume you are – it is integral to the Catholic experience, yes?
UM:  Yes.
WSI:  Consider then my vote…absolution does not play such a part in the Jewish faith, at least, not in the way you are familiar with.  But it is the term that best describes what my vote in this election represents to me.  It is as much a spiritual act as it is a physical one…if that makes any sense to you.  I have forsaken too long the privilege of my vote.  My own arrogance…(pause)…my…I have been so damn self-important.  This arrogance led me to forsake the gift of my parents…in…they came to America…this country accepted them…(pause) as it has always done.  I was given the privilege of being an American.  Millions of my people were denied that gift.  That blessing.  And in my own arrogance, I denied my parents sacrifice in coming to this country.  You understand that too, don’t you?
UM: (pause)…Yes…yes I do.
WSI:  And so for years I have lived a life of such amazing privilege and opportunity.  I have met…you see these photos?  They too are symbols of my arrogance.  My shameful lack of humility.  What have I become?  Ah…but that is not the right question for me is it?  The question I now continue to ask myself is what am I to be?  Whatever time is left to me…what am I to be?
And so in this election…I will for the first time in my life, vote.  And that vote will be a form of absolution for my too long denial of full appreciation for my parents’ sacrifice.  And it will also be the representation of all the work I am now engaged in to ensure President Obama serves but one term as president – and to then push as hard as I possibly can for the new president to finally at long last initiate the kind of economic reforms in this country necessary to save what little is left of America.  I pray it is not too late you know.  Those are not mere words.  Every day I pray for this country.  Every day I pray for the possibility that the current president will be given the wisdom to do what is right, and not be so easily manipulated to do what is so clearly wrong.
Do you pray?
UM: Sometimes.
WSI: I suggest you do so more regularly.  A respectful suggestion.
UM:  Sure – I’ll keep that in mind.
WSI:  Have you ever made the walk from 19th in D.C. to the White House?
UM:  19th?  To the White House?
WSI:  That’s right.
… It’s a remarkably short walk – even for someone of my age.  Can I give you a bit of homework if you don’t mind?
UM:  Homework?
WSI:  Yes – homework.  The look you gave when I was laying out the IMF…globalization…all of that which admittedly, to an outsider, certainly should sound like the rantings of a conspiracy fanatic.  I get that.  Believe me, I do.  You say I could survive exposure far easier than yourself or -name deleated- .  Not so.  What I just discussed with you…people in my line of work…we don’t openly speak of such things.  Ever.  Those who do…there is very particular risk involved.  Now if someone outside looking in wishes to make those kinds of connections – feel free.  But if you are “in the club” shall we say…it would be viewed in very poor taste to do so.
UM:  But you told me before…might have been the first time we spoke…you said Wall Street wasn’t some kind of…I can’t recall your exact words…it wasn’t a single entrance club.
WSI: Did I?
UM:  Yes – something like that.
WSI:  Well, viewed in its entirety – that is correct.  I believe I may have been expressing disagreement that Wall Street as a single entity.  It is actually far more vast and diverse than that.  But…at a certain level…yes, there is far more conformity than we would like to admit.
UM:  At your level?
WSI: (pause)…Yes.  I would admit to that.
UM:  Would you say it’s conformity…or collusion?
WSI:  Ah…that is…that is a rather clever question.
UM:  How about a less than clever answer…
WSI:  No comment.
UM:  That’s not clever – that’s cowardly.
WSI: Being called a coward might very well be the nicest thing anyone calls me today!  (laughs)
…Now back to that homework assignment.
UM:  Sure – what are you up to?
WSI: Nothing dubious here – I simply want you to see something with your own eyes.  You can’t see it from a computer, or a map.  You need to be there in person.  You need to walk it.  I’ve made the walk many times over the years. I first noticed it…a short time after the inauguration.  The Clinton one…the first one.  I made the walk…I was already slower by then…and took the time to look around.  It was a bit of an epiphany for me, and I believe it may be for you as well.  But you have to see it in person.  There is no substitute for that.
UM:  I have to go to D.C.?
WSI:  Yes – otherwise it simply won’t take.
UM: Take?
WSI:  The impact.  You won’t get the impact.  It would be like the difference between you talking about growing up in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and someone actually experiencing it.  Understand?
UM:  No…but I will…I’ll consider it.  There’s a matter of scheduling, the cost…I’m not sure—
WSI: (interrupts)—forget the cost.  My treat.  You must make that walk.
UM:  From 19th to the White House?
WSI: Yes.  19th and G.  19th and G.  You have no idea how many times that phrase has cluttered my mind these many years…since that inauguration…goodness…20 years ago?  And if you have the time and patience, please note what bookends the other side of the White House as well.
UM: And if I can’t make the trip?
WSI:  Then…our discussions will end here.  I believe you cannot fully appreciate the implications of the subject matter without getting what is in my mind, the fully formed visual of one hand serving the other – for that is what is happening at this point.  The servant is now the master…and it has likely been that way for far longer than my own realization.
UM:  There you go again.
WSI:  Pardon?
UM: You talk in…all of the secretive…I apologize for the term – but “crap”.
WSI:  I appreciate your consideration and tone – much improved than earlier.  And as I said – I understand your…unwillingness to fully consider what I am trying to convey.  To the uninitiated, it does present itself in a less than believable…yes – it sounds like…”crap” as you so willingly put it.
But make that walk.  19th and G.
…then we’ll speak further.  And in the meantime, please understand – I am doing all I can to defeat President Obama.  More than either yourself or -name deleted- can fully appreciate or I can disclose at this point.  I wish for you to know that though – and hopefully believe my telling you it is so.  Your opinion…oddly enough…has come to mean something to me.

Arazona Border ?

Where to begin?  The old adage concerning statistics about junk in junk out applies to this report and most of the other reports you will read on the subject.  No criticism of Texas Border Coalition, but it is an informed observation about those compiling the statistics that they are using.
Please consider the best evidence we have in just a few areas and you determine what is what?:
    1.-  Tucson Sector is the busiest drug and alien smuggling corridor on the border.
    2.-  Agents working Tucson Sector estimate they are apprehending less than five percent of what they
          know is crossing the border on a monthly basis.  That means over 95% of what they know is
          coming across the border is not being apprehended and therefore not counted.  (April 2011)
    3.-  Agents in Tucson Sector estimate that they only work about 70% of their border area during any  
          month.  That means for 30% of the border they have no idea what is coming across. (April 2011)
    4.-  Approximately 62% of the Arizona Border with Mexico is Federal Public Land.  Significant drug
          and alien smuggling occurs on these lands, especially where the Border Patrol does not have
          unfettered access to patrol the border.  Federal agencies on the Arizona Border, citing
          environmental concerns, restrict and in some cases prevent effective border patrol access to the
          border area for the purposes of patrolling the border.
    5.-  Agents in Tucson Sector Report that they have been discouraged from reporting illegal aliens
         and smugglers of drugs that they know crossed the border illegally and evade apprehension.
    6.-  In summary, nobody knows how many illegal drug and alien smugglers are crossing the borders of
          the United States and the numbers they are reporting are not accurate enough to even predict
          trends in illegal crossings.  And friends, that is just Tucson Sector.  What about the rest of the land
          and sea borders of the United States, much of which is not patrolled at all?
Border Security has two components, National Security and Public Safety.  If those two components are not applied to every aspect concerning the border as first priority the prospect of securing the border is a false illusion.
Zack  (Retired Border Patrol) 

Texas Border Coalition
327 Congress Ave., Suite 450,
Austin, TX 78701    
Phone: 512-744-0044          

New TBC Report Sheds Light on America’s Border Security Blunders 

Coalition Leaders Say Lack of Strategy, Investment in Legal Border Crossings 
Facilitates and Empowers Drug Cartels

EAGLE PASS, Texas (Jan. 12, 2012) – A new report released today by a coalition 
of Texas border mayors, county officials and economic development associations 
asserts that the U.S. government has spent nearly $90 billion over the past decade to 
secure the Southwest border, with no better than mixed results.

While apprehension rates are up to 90 percent for undocumented persons seeking to 
cross the frontier between designated U.S.-Mexico border crossings, the Texas 
Border Coalition (TBC) says Mexican drug cartels continue to enjoy commercial 
success, smuggling more drugs than ever into the country through the nation’s legal 
border crossings.

Meanwhile, a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) briefing on the 
costs and benefits of the Department of Defense’s role in securing the Southwest 
land border noted that defense department officials have expressed concern “that 
there is no comprehensive southwest border security strategy” and that the National 
Guard’s role has been “ad hoc.”

“Our national success depends on defining and executing a strategy to defeat the 
cartels attacking our nation,” said Eagle Pass Mayor and TBC Chairman Ramsey 
Cantu. “Without a strategy, America will continue to lose the border security war to 
the better financed, equipped, more mobile and agile drug cartels.” 

The border security policies examined in the TBC report fall under two broad 
categories: administrative and congressional. Administrative policies include U.S. 
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) focused tactics – many grounded in 
operations that began in the 1990s when an anti-immigration backlash fueled 
crackdowns code-named “Operation Gatekeeper” and “Operation Hold-the-Line.” 
Congressional policies center on building more fences and walls, and whether to 
snuff environmental protections for public lands on the Southwest and Northern borders.
“Without Strategy: America’s Border Security Blunders Facilitate and Empower Mexico’s 
Drug Cartels” suggests that to achieve national security, the U.S. needs well-built, equipped 
and staffed border crossings that can interdict lawbreakers and facilitate legitimate trade and 

The TBC research, as substantiated by former CBP Commissioner Alan Bersin, shows that 90 
percent of the illegal traffickers are apprehended between the border crossings. Meanwhile, 
only 28 percent of “major violators” – meaning someone involved in criminal activity that 
would result in arrest – attempting to enter the U.S. at the border crossings are apprehended. 
“To continue to fight the border security war where it has been won (between the border 
crossings) and to continue to surrender the war where we are losing (at the border crossings) is 
to threaten our national and border security and resign our nation to defeat,” Cantu said.
As the U.S. spent $90 billion seeking to secure the Southwest border, the Mexican cartels have 
continued to smuggle cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine through the legal border 
crossings in California and South Texas, and marijuana between border crossings in remote 
areas of Arizona. They generally smuggle smaller loads of cocaine, heroin, and 
methamphetamine in non-commercial vehicles (cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks) to blend in 
with cross-border traffic.

GAO officials estimate America will need 6,000 new inspection personnel and $6 billion to 
bring the facilities up to snuff.  Yet, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has chosen to 
ignore these recommendations. Budget forecasts offer no new funding for border security 
infrastructure at the official border crossings for many years and personnel accounts remain 

“We don’t expect Congress and the Administration to wave a fiscal wand and achieve full 
funding levels overnight,” said McAllen Richard Cortez, whose community is located about 5 
miles from the U.S.-Mexico border. “But if there are additional resources to be allocated this 
year, they should go to the legal border crossings as a first priority.”

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, who has co-authored legislation to make the Southwest 
border more secure, said the legal border crossings must serve as the front lines in protecting 
U.S. security and preserve the flow of trade by alleviating long wait times.

“Securing our legal border crossings is critical to our homeland security efforts, and it is 
important that when we think about border security we also think about our nation’s economic 
security efforts,” said Congressman Cuellar. “Our countries rely heavily on cross-border 
exchange of goods and commerce, and any federal investment we make in our border crossings 
is also an investment in our economy.”

Immigration reform is an essential requirement for successful achievement of these metrics, 
said National Immigration Forum Executive Director Ali Noorani

“When migrant labor is channeled through the legal ports of entry, the Border Patrol and CBP 
inspectors can focus on catching drug smugglers and other criminals,” he said.

# # #
About the Texas Border Coalition
The Texas Border Coalition (TBC) is a collective voice of border mayors, county judges, economic 
development commissions focused on issues that affect 2.5 million people along the Texas-Mexico 
border region and economically disadvantaged counties from El Paso to Brownsville. TBC is working 
closely with the state and federal government to educate, advocate, and secure funding for 
transportation, immigration and ports of entry, workforce and education and health care. For more 
information, visit the coalition website at


Talk about between a ROCK and A HARDPLACE ?

By George Friedman
The United States reportedly sent a letter to Iran via multiple intermediaries last week warning Tehran that any attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz constituted a red line for Washington. The same week, a chemist associated with Iran's nuclear program was killed in Tehran. In Ankara, Iranian parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani met with Turkish officials and has been floating hints of flexibility in negotiations over Iran's nuclear program.
This week, a routine rotation of U.S. aircraft carriers is taking place in the Middle East, with the potential for three carrier strike groups to be on station in the U.S. Fifth Fleet's area of operations and a fourth carrier strike group based in Japan about a week's transit from the region. Next week, Gen. Michael Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will travel to Israel to meet with senior Israeli officials. And Iran is scheduling another set of war games in the Persian Gulf for February that will focus on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' irregular tactics for closing the Strait of Hormuz.
While tensions are escalating in the Persian Gulf, the financial crisis in Europe has continued, with downgrades in France's credit rating the latest blow. Meanwhile, China continued its struggle to maintain exports in the face of economic weakness among its major customers while inflation continued to increase the cost of Chinese exports.
Fundamental changes in how Europe and China work and their long-term consequences represent the major systemic shifts in the international system. In the more immediate future, however, the U.S.-Iranian dynamic has the most serious potential consequences for the world.

The U.S.-Iranian Dynamic

The increasing tensions in the region are not unexpected. As we have argued for some time, the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the subsequent decision to withdraw created a massive power vacuum in Iraq that Iran needed -- and was able -- to fill. Iran and Iraq fought a brutal war in the 1980s that caused about 1 million Iranian casualties, and Iran's fundamental national interest is assuring that no Iraqi regime able to threaten Iranian national security re-emerges. The U.S. invasion and withdrawal from Iraq provided Iran an opportunity to secure its western frontier, one it could not pass on.
If Iran does come to have a dominant influence in Iraq -- and I don't mean Iran turning Iraq into a satellite -- several things follow. Most important, the status of the Arabian Peninsula is subject to change. On paper, Iran has the most substantial conventional military force of any nation in the Persian Gulf. Absent outside players, power on paper is not insignificant. While technologically sophisticated, the military strength of the Arabian Peninsula nations on paper is much smaller, and they lack the Iranian military's ideologically committed manpower.
But Iran's direct military power is more the backdrop than the main engine of Iranian power. It is the strength of Tehran's covert capabilities and influence that makes Iran significant. Iran's covert intelligence capability is quite good. It has spent decades building political alliances by a range of means, and not only by nefarious methods. The Iranians have worked among the Shia, but not exclusively so; they have built a network of influence among a range of classes and religious and ethnic groups. And they have systematically built alliances and relationships with significant figures to counter overt U.S. power. With U.S. military power departing Iraq, Iran's relationships become all the more valuable.
The withdrawal of U.S. forces has had a profound psychological impact on the political elites of the Persian Gulf. Since the decline of British power after World War II, the United States has been the guarantor of the Arabian Peninsula's elites and therefore of the flow of oil from the region. The foundation of that guarantee has been military power, as seen in the response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. The United States still has substantial military power in the Persian Gulf, and its air and naval forces could likely cope with any overt provocation by Iran.
But that's not how the Iranians operate. For all their rhetoric, they are cautious in their policies. This does not mean they are passive. It simply means that they avoid high-risk moves. They will rely on their covert capabilities and relationships. Those relationships now exist in an environment in which many reasonable Arab leaders see a shift in the balance of power, with the United States growing weaker and less predictable in the region and Iran becoming stronger. This provides fertile soil for Iranian allies to pressure regional regimes into accommodations with Iran.

The Syrian Angle

Events in Syria compound this situation. The purported imminent collapse of Syrian President Bashar al Assad's regime in Syria has proved less imminent than many in the West imagined. At the same time, the isolation of the al Assad regime by the West -- and more important, by other Arab countries -- has created a situation where the regime is more dependent than ever on Iran.
Should the al Assad regime -- or the Syrian regime without al Assad -- survive, Iran would therefore enjoy tremendous influence with Syria, as well as with Hezbollah in Lebanon. The current course in Iraq coupled with the survival of an Alawite regime in Syria would create an Iranian sphere of influence stretching from western Afghanistan to the Mediterranean. This would represent a fundamental shift in the regional balance of power and probably would redefine Iranian relations with the Arabian Peninsula. This is obviously in Iran's interest. It is not in the interests of the United States, however.
The United States has sought to head this off via a twofold response. Clandestinely, it has engaged in an active campaign of sabotage and assassination targeting Iran's nuclear efforts. Publicly, it has created a sanctions regime against Iran, most recently targeting Iran's oil exports. However, the latter effort faces many challenges.
Japan, the No. 2 buyer of Iranian crude, has pledged its support but has not outlined concrete plans to reduce its purchases. The Chinese and Indians -- Iran's No. 1 and 3 buyers of crude, respectively -- will continue to buy from Iran despite increased U.S. pressure. In spite of U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's visit last week, the Chinese are not prepared to impose sanctions, and the Russians are not likely to enforce sanctions even if they agreed to them. Turkey is unwilling to create a confrontation with Iran and is trying to remain a vital trade conduit for the Iranians regardless of sanctions. At the same time, while the Europeans seem prepared to participate in harder-hitting sanctions on Iranian oil, they already have delayed action on these sanctions and certainly are in no position politically or otherwise to participate in military action. The European economic crisis is at root a political crisis, so even if the Europeans could add significant military weight, which they generally lack, concerted action of any sort is unlikely.
Neither, for that matter, does the United States have the ability to do much militarily. Invading Iran is out of the question. The mountainous geography of Iran, a nation of about 70 million people, makes direct occupation impossible given available American forces.
Air operations against Iran are an option, but they could not be confined to nuclear facilities. Iran still doesn't have nuclear weapons, and while nuclear weapons would compound the strategic problem, the problem would still exist without them. The center of gravity of Iran's power is the relative strength of its conventional forces in the region. Absent those, Iran would be less capable of wielding covert power, as the psychological matrix would shift.
An air campaign against Iran's conventional forces would play to American military strengths, but it has two problems. First, it would be an extended campaign, one lasting months. Iran's capabilities are large and dispersed, and as seen in Desert Storm and Kosovo against weaker opponents, such operations take a long time and are not guaranteed to be effective. Second, the Iranians have counters. One, of course, is the Strait of Hormuz. The second is the use of its special operations forces and allies in and out of the region to conduct terrorist attacks. An extended air campaign coupled with terrorist attacks could increase distrust of American power rather than increase it among U.S. allies, to say nothing of the question of whether Washington could sustain political support in a coalition or within the United States itself.

The Covert Option

The United States and Israel both have covert options as well. They have networks of influence in the region and highly capable covert forces, which they have said publicly that they would use to limit Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons without resorting to overt force. We assume, though we lack evidence, that the assassination of the Iranian chemist associated with the country's nuclear program last week was either a U.S. or Israeli operation or some combination of the two. Not only did it eliminate a scientist, it also bred insecurity and morale problems among those working on the program. It also signaled the region that the United States and Israel have options inside Iran.
The U.S. desire to support an Iranian anti-government movement generally has failed. Tehran showed in 2009 that it could suppress demonstrations, and it was obvious that the demonstrators did not have the widespread support needed to overcome such repression. Though the United States has sought to support internal dissidents in Iran since 1979, it has not succeeded in producing a meaningful threat to the clerical regime. Therefore, covert operations are being aimed directly at the nuclear program with the hope that successes there might ripple through other, more immediately significant sectors.
As we have long argued, the Iranians already have a "nuclear option," namely, the prospect of blockading the Strait of Hormuz, through which roughly 35 percent of seaborne crude and 20 percent of the world's traded oil passes daily. Doing so would hurt them, too, of course. But failing to deter an air or covert campaign, they might choose to close off the strait. Temporarily disrupting the flow of oil, even intermittently, could rapidly create a global economic crisis given the fragility of the world economy.
The United States does not want to see that. Washington will be extremely cautious in its actions unless it can act with a high degree of assurance that it can prevent such a disruption, something difficult to guarantee. It also will restrain Israel, which might have the ability to strike at a few nuclear facilities but lacks the force to completely eliminate the program much less target Iran's conventional capability and manage the consequences of that strike in the Strait of Hormuz. Only the United States could do all that, and given the possible consequences, it will be loathe to attempt it.
The United States continues, therefore, with sanctions and covert actions while Iran continues building its covert power in Iraq and in the region. Each will try to convince the region that its power will be supreme in a year. The region is skeptical of both, but will have to live with one of the two, or with an ongoing test of wills -- an unnerving prospect. Each side is seeking to magnify its power for psychological effect without crossing a red line that prompts the other to take extreme measures. Iran signals its willingness to attempt to close Hormuz and its development of nuclear weapons, but it doesn't cross the line to actually closing the strait or detonating a nuclear device. The United States pressures Iran and moves forces around, but it doesn't cross the red line of commencing military actions. Thus, each avoids triggering unacceptable actions by the other.
The problem for the United States is that the status quo ultimately works against it. If al Assad survives and if the situation in Iraq proceeds as it has been proceeding, then Iran is creating a reality that will define the region. The United States does not have a broad and effective coalition, and certainly not one that would rally in the event of war. It has only Israel, and Israel is as uneasy with direct military action as the United States is. It does not want to see a failed attack and it does not want to see more instability in the Arab world. For all its rhetoric, Israel has a weak hand to play. The only virtue of the American hand is that it is stronger -- but only relatively speaking.
For the United States, preventing the expansion of an Iranian sphere of influence is a primary concern. Iraq is going to be a difficult arena to stop Iran's expansion. Syria therefore is key at present. Al Assad appears weak, and his replacement by a Sunni government would limit -- but not destroy -- any Iranian sphere of influence. It would be a reversal for Iran, and the United States badly needs to apply one. But the problem is that the United States cannot be seen as the direct agent of regime change in Syria, and al Assad is not as weak as has been claimed. Even so, Syria is where the United States can work to block Iran without crossing Iran's red lines.
The normal outcome of a situation like this one, in which neither Iran nor the United States can afford to cross the other's red lines since the consequences would be too great for each, would be some sort of negotiation toward a longer-term accommodation. Ideology aside -- and the United States negotiating with the "Axis of Evil" or Iran with the "Great Satan" would be tough sells to their respective domestic audiences -- the problem with this is that it is difficult to see what each has to offer the other. What Iran wants -- a dominant position in the region and a redefinition of how oil revenues are allocated and distributed -- would make the United States dependent on Iran. What the United States wants -- an Iran that does not build a sphere of influence but instead remains within its borders -- would cost Iran a historic opportunity to assert its longstanding claims.
We find ourselves in a situation in which neither side wants to force the other into extreme steps and neither side is in a position to enter into broader accommodations. And that's what makes the situation dangerous. When fundamental issues are at stake, each side is in a position to profoundly harm the other if pressed, and neither side is in a position to negotiate a broad settlement, a long game of chess ensues. And in that game of chess, the possibilities of miscalculation, of a bluff that the other side mistakes for an action, are very real.
Europe and China are redefining the way the world works. But kingdoms run on oil, as someone once said, and a lot of oil comes through Hormuz. Iran may or may not be able to close the strait, and that reshapes Europe and China. The New Year thus begins where we expected: at the Strait of Hormuz.
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