Friday, February 20, 2009

The world is in a big mess, Did Obama make it worse?

Here are a bunch of links - you make your own decision regarding what you can figure out from them:

A Russian answer to Iran's threat
A few months ago, at a small private luncheon I attended, former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, one of the wisest men in the foreign affairs community, was asked about the Iran problem. "Iran can't be solved," he replied, "without Russia."

Someone from the Obama administration must have been eavesdropping.

All the signs suggest that in return for Russian pressure upon Iran to end its military nuclear program, the Obama White House quid pro quo would abandon the missile defense project the Bush White House had planned to build on Russia's doorstep.


Iran hails military ties with Russia
Iran's defense minister said Friday he hopes to obtain new weapons from Russia to upgrade the nation's arsenals.

Iran has relied on Russian military assistance in the past and hopes to continue doing so, Mostafa Mohammed Najjar said.

"Russia has advanced military technologies, we have used them and plan to keep using them," he said at a news conference.

Najjar wouldn't elaborate on what specific weapons Iran was seeking. He met with his Russian counterpart and toured some Russians weapons plants during his five-day visit that began Monday.

Moscow has developed close ties with Tehran and is building its first nuclear power plant.

Russia also has supplied weapons to Iran, including Tor-M1 air-defense missiles, despite U.S. and Israeli complaints. However, Russian officials have rejected claims that they have provided Iran with more powerful, long-range S-300 air defense missile systems.

Supplying the S-300s to Iran would markedly change the military balance in the Middle East and the issue has been the subject of intense speculation and diplomatic wrangling for months.


NATO: Iran can help stem Afghan violence (Link to Iranian propaganda website...)

NATO Chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer says Iran can help stabilize Afghanistan, amid a major stalemate in US military efforts in the country.

Only a day after Washington offered a grim view on its military operations in southern Afghanistan, Scheffer said Iran should be involved in efforts to secure, stabilize and rebuild the war-torn country.

According to Scheffer, a broader regional approach is needed to eradicate insurgency in Afghanistan.

Army Gen. David McKiernan, the top US commander in Afghanistan, said the US military has suffered logistical setbacks in its effort to restore security in Afghanistan and is now “stalemated” by the rampant Taliban insurgency


Obama team urges Polish patience on shield
The United States urged Poland Thursday to be patient over a missile defence deal it inked with Washington while President Barack Obama's team reviews the controversial multi-billion dollar shield.

"What I told the defense minister today is that they have to give us a little more time to review these things," US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said at a NATO meeting in Krakow, southern Poland.

Gates said no final decision on the shield, which has enraged Russia, has yet been made.

"Between the economic crisis, Afghanistan and Iraq the administration has not yet reviewed where it is on a whole range of issues including relationships with our allies, the missile defense program, the relationship with the Russians."


Russia, though absent, looms large at NATO talks
The new Obama administration wants to start fresh with Russia and the time is near to resume wider NATO cooperation with Moscow despite its invasion of Georgia last summer, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Friday.

Gates also expressed satisfaction with small NATO pledges of additional help in the war in Afghanistan, although none approached the U.S. announcement this week of 17,000 new forces for the deteriorating war. Gates suggested that President Barack Obama would save heavier lobbying for a NATO summit in April.


Charles Krauthammer: Obama so far easy to bully
The Biden prophecy has come to pass. Our wacky veep, momentarily inspired, had predicted last October that “it will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama.” Biden probably had in mind an eve-of-the-apocalypse drama like the Cuban Missile Crisis. Instead, Obama’s challenges have come in smaller bites. Some are deliberate threats to U.S. interests, others mere probes to ascertain whether the new president has any spine. Preliminary X-rays are not very encouraging.

Consider the long list of brazen Russian provocations:

(a) Pressuring Kyrgyzstan to shut down the U.S. air base in Manas, an absolutely crucial NATO conduit into Afghanistan.

(b) Announcing the formation of a “rapid reaction force” with six former Soviet republics, a regional Russian-led strike force meant to reassert Russian hegemony in the Muslim belt north of Afghanistan.

(c) Planning to establish a Black Sea naval base in Georgia’s breakaway province of Abkhazia, conquered by Moscow last summer.

(d) Declaring Russia’s intention to deploy offensive Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad if Poland and the Czech Republic go ahead with plans to station an American (anti-Iranian) missile defense system.

President Bush’s response to the Kaliningrad deployment (the threat was issued the day after Obama’s election) was firm. He refused to back down because giving in to Russian threats would leave Poles and Czechs exposed and show the world that, contrary to post-Cold War assumptions, the U.S. could not be trusted to protect Eastern Europe from Russian bullying.


CNN: Clinton says U.S. might rethink missile shield if Iran shifts, Clinton signals
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signaled Tuesday that the United States might rethink plans for a missile defense shield in Europe if Iran decides against pursuing nuclear weapons.

"If we are able to see a change in behavior on the part of the Iranians, then we will reconsider where we stand, but we are a long, long way from seeing such evidence of any change in behavior," Clinton said after a meeting in Washington with Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, whose country holds the rotating European Union presidency.

The Bush administration signed deals last summer to place radar units for the missile defense system inside the borders of the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in Poland.

The move angered Moscow, which said the system could be used against Russia. The Bush White House went ahead with its plans for the missile defense system, insisting it was planned primarily as a deterrent to Iran's suspected nuclear ambitions.


Just a reminder, Obama always speaks different tunes when campaigning at Jewish crowds, throwback to 2007:
Obama: Iran threatens all of us
Sen. Barack Obama said Friday the use of military force should not be taken off the table when dealing with Iran, which he called "a threat to all of us."

Speaking before a pro-Israel crowd at a downtown hotel, Obama also repeated his call for a phased pullout of U.S. troops from Iraq and strongly backed a strong U.S. relationship with Israel.

Earlier in the day, the Republican National Committee took aim at Obama, issuing a research memo aimed at highlighting the Illinois freshman senator's lack of experience on foreign affairs. That the gloves-are-off memo was even generated at this time is a testament to Obama's growing strength in the Democratic primary field.


Israel urges more pressure on Iran

Foreign Ministry issues response to IAEA report on Iran and Syria, says Iran's continuing uranium enrichment merits international intervention; also calls for probes into sites barred by Syria after evidence of nuclear activity was discovered there

Israel responded Friday to a report filed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the subject of nuclear proliferation in Iran and Syria.

The Foreign Ministry stated that "the international community must increase its pressure on Iran to stop its military plan. Regarding Syria Israel is demanding that other sites be investigated."


Livni, thank-goodness is on her way out. Talking and begging for help obviously failed. More inspections, more talks of sanctions, more of begging the world for assistance only gives the Iranian more time.

Iran in 'backroom offers' to West
Iran offered to stop attacking British troops in Iraq to try to get the West to drop objections to Tehran's uranium enrichment project, a UK official says.


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