The True Rift between Netanyahu and Obama

The true rift between Netanyahu and Obama is about policy, not politesse” (that and the fact that Obama hates Bibi’s guts).

From the article:

So here, again, are the facts: John Boehner invited Bibi to speak on an issue of national importance to both the United States and to Israel, and Bibi accepted. The White House was informed of the invitation in advance, as is proper. Democrats were not consulted. Tzipi Livni, Buji Herzog, Jonathan Greenblatt, and the editorial board of the New York Times were not consulted either. This is all according to custom and according to precedent.

Enough said. Someone IS spitting in someone’s face here, but Bibi is the one getting spit on.

Bin Laden: Wishing the witch wasn’t dead…

Here are some thoughts on the premature death of Osama Bin Laden:

First, IRIS would like congratulate President Obama (we still hope he gets handily defeated in 2012), the US Military and Intelligence Services, and all the people from the present and past administrations that contributed to this wonderful event.

That said, there is still a lot to be learned. The following comments are meant to be purely constructive, and are not to be taken as complaints or accusations. While Bin Laden’s demise is a wonderful thing that doesn’t mean there is no room for improvement.

So here goes:

* Dancing in the streets: Sorry, this just seems wrong or at least bad policy. When Muslims celebrate successful terror attacks that shows how bloodthirsty and yes, evil, they are. One can say that this is different because an evil killer got what he deserved. But the Muslims will have a hard time understanding the difference, especially as they apply the concept of collective guilt to whomever they don’t like, even civilians. So at the least this sends the wrong message, that it is ok to celebrate when someone gets killed. At the worst it is barbaric.

In Israel, even when really nasty people like Sheikh Yassin and Yahya Ayyash, “the engineer” were eliminated there was no partying.

On the other hand, psychological momentum is very important in war and this really does throw it back in the enemy’s faces. The Americans might as well say it outright: You drew first blood, but we got you back. Who’s dancing now?

* Left-wingers beating their chests: It is a pleasure to see the peaceful Left crooning over the manhood of their guy who just had someone killed instead of bringing him to trial. What happened to due process? I am not complaining, just wondering how we can expand the list of bad guys that the Left are willing to kill instead of coddle…

* Swooning over Obama: The Leftists are just falling over themselves again about their hero. So cool despite the heavy burdens he bears (doesn’t hurt his golf game a bit apparently)! So gutsy a move! Not since the Cuban Missile Crisis has any president made such a bold move! The news has been so bad for so long, but it’s alright again. He has got the magic back. They are back in love.

Gimme a break. Carter authorized the same kind of move during the hostage crisis in Iran, it just failed. Reagan stood up to the Soviets and invaded Granada and Panama. Both Bushes initiated actual wars. President Obama certainly deserves credit for some good decisions and good luck but that’s all.

One wonders how this man has such power to send tingles up the legs of the Left. Just like with his alleged supreme oratory skills (as long as there is a teleprompter). I never understood what the big deal was. He is a decent speaker but let’s not overdo it. Is the Left exercising the soft racism of low expectations here?

* Obama’s jump in the polls: Sure President Obama’s polling numbers will go up, and deservedly so. Long-term, not just short-term. He has shown a different face than he has before on foreign affairs. Eliminating Bin Laden doesn’t erase the bowing to foreign leaders, the apologies about American greatness, the capitulating to the Russians, the dropping the ball on Iran, or the throwing of allies like Great Britain, Poland and Israel under the bus. It doesn’t even come close to offsetting those mistakes. But it does create a more complicated picture, one where he can no longer be painted as someone who is ALWAYS a sissy who can’t defend American interests. Let’s hope he continues the new approach now that he sees how popular it is.

* Democracy at work: Can anyone believe that Obama’s self-interest wasn’t at work here, at least a little bit? The man of peace had a fugitive tracked and gunned down instead of arrested and read his rights. Surely the public’s desire to get Bin Laden played a part in his decisions. That is wonderful. That’s democracy — the people get their will done (some of the time) even between elections.

* Huge mistake to publicize it so soon: Why, why, why? The president just couldn’t contain himself. Couldn’t he have waited until the Intelligence services had a chance to go over all the goodies they acquired from Bin Laden’s lair before blabbing about what happened? Now every Al Quada creep in Bin Laden’s rolodex knows that the US has information on him and will act accordingly. A major opportunity to get closer to a lot of bad guys has been squandered.

It could be that the president figured that the news would leak fast anyway so he might as well be the one to spread the word for maximum credit. Understandable, but sad.

* Why not capture him? Take it a step further: Why kill Bin Laden at all? He should have been captured alive no matter what the cost, brought to one of those secret CIA facilities overseas, and treated the most severe… um… enhanced interrogation techniques known to man. I am sure our Russian quasi-allies could have helped out a bit with that. How about the Chinese? They know a thing or two about tor… er.. EITs.

The man was a treasure trove of intelligence information and every last bit of it should have been wrung out of him. BEFORE his capture was announced.

Yes, capturing him would have complicated things. Gitmo, miranda rights, trial in the US, giving a murderer a platform to spout his views. But these were not insurmountable issues. Again, a major opportunity to get closer to a lot of bad guys has been squandered.

* Don’t expect it to be “ok” for Israel to do the same now: If Israel would do the same thing tomorrow President Obama and the rest of the world would still condemn Israel in the strongest possible terms. Just like happened when Israel was conducting targeted assassinations during the Second Intifada. Even though those assassinated were just as evil as Bin Laden, even as the Americans were doing the exact same thing to less evil men, they still condemned Israel. And that when George W. Bush was president. He is a 100 times more pro-Israel than his successor.

Israel will still have to do what she needs to to protect herself. Despite the condemnations that are still sure to come.

* Bonus: Pakistan. Everyone is asking a lot of questions about Pakistan. Can’t wait to learn the answers. And hopefully to watch something be done about them.

=====================

So there you have it. A great and wonderful thing has been done, and again congratulations to all those who participated. The world is a better place. But let’s keep it in perspective and learn from it so that it can be done even better the next time around.

Why Israel will Benefit from the Turmoil in Egypt

Here is quite a surprising quote from the normally-enlightening Caroline Glick, from the not-so-subtlely-titled Clueless in Washington:

When given the opportunity, the crowds on the street are not shy about showing what motivates them. They attack Mubarak and his new Vice President Omar Suleiman as American puppets and Zionist agents. The US, protesters told CNN’s Nick Robertson, is controlled by Israel. They hate and want to destroy Israel. That is why they hate Mubarak and Suleiman.

What all of this makes clear is that if the regime falls, the successor regime will not be a liberal democracy. Mubarak’s military authoritarianism will be replaced by Islamic totalitarianism. The US’s greatest Arab ally will become its greatest enemy. Israel’s peace partner will again become its gravest foe.

Understanding this, Israeli officials and commentators have been nearly unanimous in their negative responses to what is happening in Egypt. The IDF, the national security council, all intelligence agencies and the government as well as the media have all agreed that Israel’s entire regional approach will have to change dramatically in the event that Egypt’s regime is overthrown.

None of the scenarios under discussion are positive.

Really?

Let’s dissect that a bit.

First of all, it is clear that the Egyptians hate Mubarak because he is a repressive dictator, not because he is a stooge of the US or Israel. It is hard to believe that Glick wrote what she did.

Second, there ARE potential positive outcomes here.

For the US, a more democratic regime which is not dominated by Islamics would definitely be an improvement over the current dictatorship.

On the other hand, I have seen commentators that I trust who assert that this is unlikely given that the Moslem Brotherhood is the only well-organized opposition group, and they are highly-motivated and probably quite ruthless. There is a good chance that they will wind up on top when this is all finished and that would obviously be bad for US interests.

The Obama administration manages to come out on the wrong side of every upheaval, from Honduras to Iran, and now seems intent on doing the same in Egypt. As Glick notes, this is not due to “cluelessness” (as the title of her article implies) but rather due to ideological blinders:

It is this anti-colonialist paradigm, with its foundational assumption that that the US has no right to criticize non-Westerners that has informed the Obama administration’s foreign policy. It was the anti-colonialist paradigm that caused Obama not to support the pro-Western protesters seeking the overthrow of the Iranian regime in the wake of the stolen 2009 presidential elections.

And it is this anti-colonialist paradigm that has guided Obama’s courtship of the Syrian, Turkish and Iranian regimes and his unwillingness to lift a hand to help the March 14 movement in Lebanon….

Anti-colonialists by definition must always support the most anti-Western forces as “authentic.” In light of Mubarak’s 30-year alliance with the US, it makes sense that Obama’s instincts would place the US president on the side of the protesters.

How very sad that the Left is so often drawn to those who most want to destroy the West.

That said, Israel’s interests are somewhat different than those of the US in this case.

It is in Israel’s interests that Egypt be either pacified or weakened.

Like the US, Israel probably would benefit from a more democratic regime in Egypt, assuming that the Islamics didn’t wind up running the show. Israel fears Egypt could one day join another war against her. In a dictatorship, the decision to go to war ultimately rides on the whims of one man, and there is little doubt that Mubarak or any of his likely successors would gladly go to war against Israel in the right circumstances. Democracies however are less likely to go to war, and an Egyptian democracy would lower the risk of war even if the average Egyptian hates Israel. A democratic Egypt will be more pacified and therefore that benefits Israel.

And if the Islamics take over, Egypt will be weakened.

Mubarak successfully played the bad-cop-worse-cop game with the US for decades — support me, he said, or else you will get the Islamic fanatics instead. The Americans turned a blind eye to, and even tacitly supported, his oppression, and gave him money and weapons which could easily be used against Israel.

This is the same game that Arafat played — support me, or you will get the Hamas — and it is shocking that the Israeli Right that rightly opposed Arafat should now support Mubarak. Israel should have opposed both Arafat and the Hamas, just like it should have and still should oppose both Mubarak and the Moslem Brotherhood.

If the Moslem Brotherhood gains power in Egypt, in the short term Israel will gain yet another fundamentalist neighbor and that will not be pleasant. But that neighbor will immediately lose the knee-jerk support of its current patron, the US. When the financial aid drops to zero, and when the cool weapon systems and spare parts stop pouring in, Egypt’s power will begin to melt away. Just as happened in Iran after the Shah fell. It is unlikely that the Shah’s Iran would have lost a war with the much-smaller Iraq like Khomeini’s Iran did not long after the revolution.

Therefore Israel’s worst-case scenario is probably the present one.

Israel should do whatever it can to insure that Mubarak is replaced by some kind of democratic regime, with the Islamics kept out. But should the Islamics come to power Israel should maximize the natural instincts of the US to withdraw its support from and actively oppose such a regime. The fall of Egypt as power in the Middle East is likely to follow forthwith.

Yet another Israeli technology breakthrough

Here is the latest technology breakthrough engineered in Israel:

Intel’s Sandy Bridge revolution engineered in Haifa

“It was clear to all of us that the new thing we developed at Haifa was something completely different,” said Shlomit Weiss, the architect of Sandy Bridge architect, whose development she oversaw at Intel Israel Ltd. over the past four years. Sandy Bridge is the business card that Intel Corporation (Nasdaq: INTC) is developing for next-generation PCs, which are designed to operate in a market in which consumers are demanding greater computer performance.

[Hat tip: JR]

Will there come a time when Israeli brainpower is more valuable to world, and perceived as such, than Arab oil? Will electric cars and/or Israel’s massive recent natural gas finds reduce the Arab edge?

Ultimately, society progresses due to ideas, not resources. But when push-comes-to-shove, the world can always wait a bit longer for new technologies to emerge whereas most countries can’t last long without imported oil.

It certainly would be nice if Israelis could provide brainpower-based services that would be as necessary on a day-to-day basis as gas for the car but such a scenario is hard to envision. Israel is at the forefront of solar energy development, but it will take decades, at least, before alternative energies can supply more than a small fraction of the world’s massive energy needs.

The best bet might be the electric car, which would receive its power from non-oil-generated electricity. Might electric cars, made viable on a massive scale by Israeli Shai Agassi’s car charge and battery switch revolution, powered by electricity generated by (Israeli!) natural gas, and with their range extended by solar panels on their roofs, be the first nail on the coffin of the oil weapon?

Global Warming: Why we are skeptical

Here is a simple exercise which will help the Global Warming crowd understand why there is such powerful skepticism to their almost-religious faith in the existence of anthropological global warming:

There is a 2-word solution to 100% of the issues related to global warming. What is it?

Nuclear Energy.

Now think of your reaction to that 2-word solution and you can understand why there is so much skepticism related to the concept of man-made Global Warming.

Why? Because nuclear energy reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 100%, will remove the dependence on foreign (and domestic) oil and gas by 100%, can be ramped up much more quickly than any of the “green” energy options, and will never “run out”.

As a side benefit, this would put out of business all the dictators and other thugs that stay in power due to their oil while the rest of the world democratizes. And the “developing” countries could benefit from all the new nuclear energy technologies improve the lot of their peoples instead of begging for those suspicious “carbon credit” transfer payments from less unsuccessful countries in the West.

So why is nuclear a dirty word?

I’ll tell you why. Because the same people that today are whining about global warming come from the exact same camp that killed the growth of the nuclear power industry in the ’70s. In fact, had the environmentalist left not giving nuclear power such a bad name we would have never even had a issue with global warming today for them to whine about. By today (nuclear) electricity would have been almost free and almost unlimited and we would all be driving electric cars and heating our homes, offices, water and food exclusively with electricity.

Sure, nuclear power has potential problems. Don’t you think technical or common sense solutions could have been found to these problems long ago? Dangers of meltdowns or terrorist attacks? Bury the reactor cores a few miles underground. Nuclear waste? Fence off a place in Kansas 100 miles wide by 100 miles long and bury the stuff a few miles down in a huge, water-proof hole in the middle. That would be enough space to store 100% of the world’s nuclear waste (and its garbage too) for decades.

Don’t think for a second that there are no environmental issues with solar and wind energy. What could be cleaner than hydro-electricity? But today dams are “bad” too because they destroy the natural environment behind the dam and interfere with fish migration. As soon as wind power takes off those same environmentalists that pushed it as “green” will be back to crush it because too many birds will be getting killed in the turbines. Just wait. How about those huge solar farms planned for the desert? The environmentalists are already starting to complain about desert habitats being destroyed.

Being adults means making choices. We can choose a logical path to permanent energy independence and deal with or find solutions to the consequences, or we can complain about the downside of every alternative and every problem created by not accepting those alternatives.

Remember — nuclear energy creates “local” problems dealing with the radioactivity. That is far better and easier to deal with than the whole world boiling, don’t you think?

So the next time you talk with a “warmer” try suggesting nuclear energy as the obvious solution. If you get a knee-jerk reaction of a religious fanatic you can explain that that kind of reaction is a big part of what drives the global warming skepticism in the rest of us.

Obama’s Waterloo Tomorrow?

If the latest polls are accurate, then Massachusetts is poised to elect a Republican senator tomorrow, despite being the most liberal state in the nation by far. If so, then the Democrat supermajority of sixty Senate votes will end. This margin enables them to enact far-left legislation despite unanimous Republican opposition. Why? The country is angry over Obama’s bait-and-switch trick of campaigning as a moderate and governing as a leftist.

On Israel, too, he campaigned as “Israel’s staunchest supporter” before taking off the mask. Charles Krauthammer sums it up well:

What went wrong? A year ago, he was king of the world. Now President Barack Obama’s approval rating, according to CBS, has dropped to 46 percent – and his disapproval rating is the highest ever recorded by Gallup at the beginning of an (elected) president’s second year.

Life as a Couple Improves with Age, Israeli Study Reveals

This study may say more about Israel’s culture which celebrates life and marriage than it does about aging in general; however it is a reason for all of us to be optimistic that wisdom and maturity are the keys to happiness:

Most Israelis believe that life as a couple improves after age 65, and more women believe this than men, a recent poll reveals.

The Third Age Conference, set for the Kinneret Academic College, near Kibbutz Ma’agan, on Wednesday will deal with the “couple life” of seniors and whether relationships strengthen with age.

‘The IDF: the World’s Most Prolific Innovation Engine’

Here’s a provocative, beautifully written excerpt from the new book, Startup Nation:

How does Israel—with fewer people than the state of New Jersey, no natural resources, and hostile nations all around—produce more tech companies listed on the NASDAQ than all of Europe, Japan, South Korea, India, and China combined? How does Israel attract, per person, 30 times as much venture capital as Europe and more than twice the flow to American companies? How does it produce, for its size, the most cutting-edge technology startups in the world?

There are many components to the answer, but one of the most central and surprising is the Israeli military’s role in breaking down hierarchies and—serendipitously—becoming a boot camp for new tech entrepreneurs.

Read the whole thing, but take the thesis with a grain of salt; diaspora Jews seem to do just fine in the high-tech start-up arena as well…

Economy Growing Faster than Projected

Israel’s economy is growing faster than projected, despite spurning Obama’s Keynsian spending spree idea:

Bank of Israel Forecasts 3.5% Growth Rate for 2010

The Bank of Israel issued a revised economic forecast for 2010 on Monday, raising its growth projection from 2.5% to 3.5%.
The bank said the recovery of the global economy has increased demand for Israeli exports, though it cautioned that it could scale back the forecast if the recovery slows.

NYC 9/11 Trial Security Cost: $400M

Further success in bin Laden’s goal of “bleeding America into bankruptcy:”

New York City projects it will cost more than $400 million to provide security if the pre-trial preparation and trial of the suspects in the Sept. 11 terror attacks takes two years, which insiders say is virtually certain, according to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The cost of the upcoming terror trials in this New York City courthouse for Guantanamo Bay detainees charged as 9/11 co-conspirators, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, will likely be more than $400 million and could go as high as $600 million.
It will cost another $206 million annually if the trial runs beyond two years, which some fear is possible, the mayor’s office estimates.

(Hat tip: Dan Friedman)

1,000 ‘Diversity Immigration Visas’ for Terror-Ridden Yemen

As General Casey said in the aftermath of the Fort Hood shooting, “diversity is a strength.”

State Department Using ‘Diversity Visas’ to Encourage Immigration to U.S. from Terror-Ridden Yemen

The State Department has awarded 1,011 special “diversity visas” allowing Yemeni nationals to immigrate to the United States since 2000, the year 17 U.S. sailors were killed when the USS Cole was attacked by terrorists in the Yemeni port of Aden.

The “diversity visas” are designed to encourage immigration from countries that do not otherwise send significant numbers of immigrants to the United States.

Iraq Demands Compensation for Destroyed Nuclear Reactor

Five days into 2010, we already have a contender for Chutzpa of the Year; most fair-minded analysts judge Menachem Begin’s destruction of the Osirak reactor in 1981 to have saved the world from the specter of a nuclear Saddam Hussein:

A senior Iraqi lawmaker this week said his government is planning to demand, via the United Nations, that Israel pay compensation for destroying the country’s Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981.

Iraqi MP Mohammed Naji Mohammed told the local Baghdad newspaper al-Sabah that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the Iraqi Foreign Ministry have already “turned to the UN and the Security Council demanding that Israel pay us reparations for damage caused to the reactor.”

Apparently, the demanded compensation will also try to take into consideration the lost revenue a completed reactor would have brought in.

Built with French assistance, the Osirak reactor was built by Saddam Hussein as part of his effort to obtain nuclear weapons. In a surprise attack, an Israel Air Force squadron crippled the reactor, ending Hussein’s nuclear ambitions.

Many Western powers and not a few Arab states quietly approved of the Israeli action, though the UN passed a harsh resolution condemning the Jewish state and clearing the way for Iraq to claim compensation.