Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The cutest candid photograph of the already tired presidential campaign 

Every campaign manager dreams about images like this. Even I want to vote for the man in this picture.

OK, not really. But still.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Aug 28, 04:09:00 PM:

"Even I want to vote for the man in this picture"

uh ... Only if he's about to run over Hillary and Edwards in the next frame ...

It's a nice pic - a dad enjoying a moment of complete fun with his daughter - but it doesn't make we want to vote for him.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Aug 28, 04:20:00 PM:

In the past month, American naval and air forces have intercepted two North Korean vessels clandestinely en route for Iran with cargoes of enriched uranium and nuclear equipment. The shutdown of Pongyong’s nuclear facilities has made these items surplus to North Korea’s requirements and worth a good price to the Islamic Republic.

On July 12, the second intercepted North Korean freighter was sunk in the Arabian Sea by torpedoes fired from a US submarine 100 miles southeast of the Iranian naval base-port of Chah Bahar. Delivery of its freight of enriched weapons-grade uranium and equipment and engines for manufacturing more fissile material including plutonium in its hold could have jumped-forwarded Iran’s nuclear bomb and warhead project, lopping off at least a year of work. For this Iran’s rulers were ready to fork out $500 million.

The shipment was brought forward by several weeks to evade detection by UN nuclear watchdog inspectors who were to descend on Pyongyang this week to verify the dismantling of its nuclear facilities.

US airplanes had been tracking the freighter and picked up signs of radioactivity, indicating the presence of nuclear materials aboard.

President Bush had the option of ordering US Marines to board the vessel or sinking it. He decided on the latter - both because the North Korean freighter was approaching an area patrolled by Iranian naval units and seizure of the vessel by American marines might have provoked a clash; also so as not to expose US troops to radioactive contamination. He therefore first ordered American naval and air units in the Persian Gulf, Middle East and seas opposite North Korea to go on a high state of readiness and torpedo the North Korean vessel without delay.

After the attack, US warships raced to the spot where the ship went down. They picked up three lifeboats. Most of the North Korean sailors aboard were either injured or dead. Twenty in all died in the attack. They all bore symptoms of contamination. After the episode, the area was cordoned off and underwater equipment dropped to salvage the cargo from the sunken ship.

All the parties to the incident, the United States, North Korea and Iran, have kept it dark. The situation in and around the Gulf is inflammable enough to explode into a full-blown Iranian-US clash at the slightest provocation. There was also the danger of North Korea aborting the closure of its nuclear facilities at the last moment.

In Feb, 07 the Central Intelligence Agency warned the White House that Iran had offered North Korea a billion and a half dollars in secret negotiations for key components of its dismantled nuclear industry.

In March or early April, Kim Jong-Il decided in the interests of prudence to spurn the offer. He feared that if the deal leaked out to US intelligence, he could say goodbye to the rewards and benefits promised for giving up his nuclear weapons.

But on second thoughts, the North Korea ruler decided it was worth taking the risk of a limited deal with Iran and he therefore agreed to -

1. Subtract for Iran a portion of enriched uranium from his stock.

2. Make up some of Iran’s shortages of high tech equipment for manufacturing weapons.

3. Lend Tehran dozens of nuclear engineers and technicians who have been put out of their jobs by the shutdown of North Korean’s program. With their help, Iran can speed up its program

Three senior North Korean engineers were due in Tehran by August 20 and another nine in December, 07. By then, North Korea expects the IAEA certificate confirming the closure of its nuclear program to be safely in the bag.

Tehran is also giving North Korea three years’ supply of free oil.

The CIA knew about the North Korean deliveries and knew they would be disguised as iron shipments, but were not clear how many ships would be used.

Over several weeks, the Americans cast a dense net of maritime and aerial surveillance, co-opting friendly Asian and European air and naval forces, to keep tabs on every vessel departing North Korea with freights of iron.

The first North Korean vessel was caught in the net on June 25.

Suspected of carrying radioactive materials hidden behind a cargo of iron, the vessel had entered the Arabia Sea and was two days voyage from Iran when, according to our sources in Paris, President Bush and French president Nicolas Sarkozy had a quick conversation over secure lines. That exchange resulted in a decision to rush US and French naval units in the neighborhood to intercept the suspect North Korean freighter and blow it out of the water.

It is not clear whether the ship was sunk by an American or a French submarine and, even after the event, it is not certain that the doomed ship did in fact carry nuclear materials or equipment.

Three days later, on June 28, the US Navy released this statement:

US sailors helped rescue the crew of a North Korean-flagged ship on Monday. The incident occurred in the Arabian Sea when the ship reported it had engine problems, no food or water and was in danger of sinking. The USNS Kanawha and the French ship Dupleix helped evacuate the ship’s 16 crew members to safety. None of the crew was a North Korean citizen.

The US and French ships are part of Combined Task Force 150, which conducts maritime security operations in the Gulf of Oman, the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea, the North Arabian Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean.

The Military Sealift Command ship in the US Naval Fleet is the USNS Kanawha Auxiliary Force.

The last time the US Navy or Air Force directly attacked a North Korean vessel was in December 2002, four months before the invasion of Iraq.

That operation was also carried out in conjunction with a European naval force. The CIA located in the Indian Ocean a North Korean freighter carrying a disguised freight of Scud missiles bound for Saddam Hussein’s army in Iraq. The missiles were to have been unloaded in Yemen and smuggled into Iraq. The ship was boarded by Spanish marines under the cover of American helicopters.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Aug 28, 04:51:00 PM:

Basra Is Poised to Secede from Iraq under Saudi Protection

Jordanian intelligence analysts see no way of preventing Basra’s breakaway from the Iraqi Republic. Three local Shiite party militias are already sharing power and the oil loot.  

By Blogger GreenmanTim, at Tue Aug 28, 04:52:00 PM:

Um, interesting digression, but shouldn't "Anonymous" post this to his/her own blog rather than comment spamming this one?

Being a good Dad is not a prerequisite for executive power, but it does suggest something about character.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Aug 28, 05:36:00 PM:

AW Greenman, Yawn,
I might have known you'd be the one to moan and groan.
Like some cheese with your whine?
Don't you like important news when it's not "green"?  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Tue Aug 28, 06:42:00 PM:

The implication is 'dad plays with kid at the fair; what a nice guy.'

But my realistic side says, 'candidate uses kid for family values photo-op.'

The Iowa (dead give away) state fair, where some reporter just happens across him at an opportune moment? Not buying it.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Aug 28, 07:21:00 PM:

Candidate uses kid for family values photo-op: maybe, but I don't care. If that appeals to the kind of ridiculous people to whom "family values" are important, so much the better. I don't give a rat's ass whether my president is a terrible husband and/or father, or anything about his personal life for that matter. All I care about is how well he leads the country.  

By Blogger GreenmanTim, at Tue Aug 28, 08:21:00 PM:

I like it when it isn't spam and from sources that make an effort to verify what they say. But it's TH's house and he can put up with whatever he likes.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Tue Aug 28, 08:26:00 PM:

Indeed. We have a liberal comment policy around here -- I have deleted under 10 in the history of the blog, I think -- but this being the blogosphere we do not really believe stuff unless there is a resemblence of a link to a hint of something.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Tue Aug 28, 09:07:00 PM:

"I don't give a rat's ass whether my president is a terrible husband and/or father..."

"All I care about is how well he leads the country."

But you see, the one can be an indication of the other.

Something they don't seem to teach in civics these days is that you aren't voting for a set of policies or promises. You're voting for a person. A shitbag politician will happily make all the right promises and check all the policy boxes, and then renege once he's in office.

I'd rather a decent human being whose policies I don't always agree with than a sleaze-ball whose policies I do always agree with.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Aug 28, 09:09:00 PM:

Watch and learn.
TH, thanks for the indulgence :)  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Aug 29, 03:36:00 AM:

You want the cheese first, Tinnyman?

This is the last one, TH. No more infringements on your freehold. Please.

Little noticed is India’s efforts to buy economic and military footholds beyond its frontiers at strategic points to the rear of China and Pakistan by two apparently unrelated pieces of news published on July 17.

According to various Russian media, Iran, Pakistan and India are all set to build a 2,300- kilometer pipeline for an estimated investment of $7.5 billion after agreeing on a formula for the price of the natural gas to be pumped through from Iran. After they agreed to peg the price to the cost of natural gas in Japan, the project is going through and expected to make the first deliveries of Iranian gas in 2011.

Washington’s efforts to dissuade India and Pakistan from establishing strong business ties with Iran were rebuffed.

The second item, disclosed by the Times of India, is that India is preparing to deploy a squadron of Mi-17 multi-purpose helicopters and Kiran trainer aircraft at the Ayni (Farkhor) air base in Tajikistan, close to Dushanbe.

The fourth world power after Russia, the US and Germany to establish a military foothold in Central Asia, India is now poised for its expansion, whether alongside, or racing against, rival powers.

The race gained momentum in preperaton for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Peace Mission 2007 exercise that took place on Aug 9-17, in the Russian Volga-Urals. The exercise involved 6,500 troops and for the first time all SCO members – Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Iran, Pakistan, India and Mongolia were listed as observers.

Both india and Pakistan have the potential to challenge Russian-Chinese domination now they are admitted to the Shanghai-Six.

Established in 2001 as a non-military alliance, the SCO set dealing with Islamic extremism and other security threats in Central Asia as its initial goal. India and Pakistan’s attendance stretches its orbit to South Asia, whereas Iran’s push for a seat further complicates the big-power balancing act surrounding the regional organization.

While Moscow (and China) may seek to curtail the U.S. military presence throughout Central Asia – successfully in Uzbekistan - other SCO members are happy to continue or even expand their military cooperation with the United States and NATO.

Washington saved its military facilities in Kyrgyzstan by raising the rent. Kazakhstan has expanded its cooperation with the NATO Partnership for Peace program, and even Uzbekistan has opened the door to a German contingent.

In August 2007, a 670-meter bridge spanning the Amu Darya River bordering landlocked Tajikistan and Afghanistan is opening.

Constructed by the US engineering corps and paid for with $36 million defense department grants, the bridge will also boost traffic and trade between Central Asian republics and South Asian India and Pakistan.

India’s plans to expand its first-ever foreign military base in Tajikistan make both Pakistan and China uneasy. Islamabad perceived the air base India established at Ayni as part of an attempt to encircle Pakistan. China has taken steps to counterbalance India's rising profile in Tajikistan.

Pakistan is also worried about India’s rising influence in Afghanistan since the US 2001 invasion, which also enhanced New Delhi’s Central Asian connection.

Tajikistan’s geographic location makes it singularly attractive for India.

The former Soviet republic shares borders with China, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. A narrow stretch of Afghan territory separates Tajikistan from Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Ayni is the key to India’s rising influence in Afghanistan.

A base here is immensely significant in that it gives India a longer reach for control of terrorist groups operating close to the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan and stirring up tensions in divided Kashmir, the source of al Qaeda-related terrorist attacks in New Delhi and Mumbai.

It is close to areas where scores of camps for jihadist and anti-India terrorist groups are based, and it is in the proximity of territory where Pakistan and China are engaged in massive military cooperation.

After the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, India was determined not to lose the foothold it had gained in Afghanistan, thanks to its ties with the Northern Alliance in the late 1990s. Delhi was anxious not to allow Pakistani influence to grow again in Afghanistan.

A military base in Tajikistan means India could strike Pakistan from the rear in the event of a war between the two nuclear neighbors.

It also allows India to airlift assistance supplies through to Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan’s closure of overland access to the embattled county.

The Ayni base became operational in 2001 after India constructed three hangars, two for the use of Indian aircraft, the third for the Tajik air force. In 2002, the Indian Air Force began stationing trainer aircraft there under a new defense-cooperation agreement providing for India to train the Tajik air force. In 2003, the two countries signed another accord for upgrading the military airfield.

In November of that year, India and Tajikistan set up a joint working group to combat international terrorism and signed an extradition treaty for mutual support of each other’s campaigns against terror.

Three years later, in 2006, the relationship between New Delhi and Dushanbe took a further leap forward. Sweeping accords were signed during a five day visit to India by Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov for greater cooperation in the fields of energy, science and technology as well as consultation on foreign issues.

The area became a Central Asian cockpit for watching Islamist terrorists – and Pakistan

Still more significantly, two days before the Tajik president’s visit, working groups set up bilateral mechanisms for countering terrorism.

These were the first steps to broader projects planned by New Delhi in a region whose importance as one of the key world energy sources is on the ascendant. India is deeply involved in the scramble for the region's vast gas reserves.

Tajikistan has been especially skillful in parlaying Central Asia’s enhanced standing, backed by military leverage from India, into a more independent role on the world energy market. This small republic, with a population of only 7 million, allows both Russian and US troops to be stationed in the country, along with its SCO membership. It has managed to draw assistance from all three global rivals, the US, Russia and China.

The United States is not particularly worried about Delhi's foray into Central Asia, as India's expanding silhouette there could counterbalance Russian and Chinese influence in the region.

Regarding the shared Indian-Tajik counter-terror front, the al Qaeda-linked Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, MUI has tentacles in Tajikistan as in most parts of Central Asia. As recently as June 16, 2007, the MUI detonated a blast outside the Supreme Court in Dushanbe which caused no casualties but damaged the building.

Central Asia serves al Qaeda as an off-the-beaten track route for its expanded sphere of operations, away from the watchful eyes of the mainstream counter-terror powers.
In 2005 a band of al Qaeda terrorists slipped quietly out of Iraq through the northern Afghan town of Konduz, heading through Tajikistan and on to the Kyrgyz section of the Strategic Ferghana Valley straddling Central Asia. One part of the group peeled off and headed for Western China.

This route, the terrorist “silk road” is still in use. The deployment of an Indian Air Force squadron of Mi-17 multi-purpose helicopters and Kiran trainer aircraft at the Ayni (Farkhor) air base will make it possible to mount commando operations if necessary against terrorist movements.  

By Blogger Georg Felis, at Wed Aug 29, 10:15:00 AM:

RE: the two monster posts above.
TH, you're being used as a DEBKA file dump. They can't get anybody to read this badly sourced and horribly innacurate junk at their site so they're putting it on a site people actually read.

My vote is for deleting them. (the posts, not the posters) Heck, even CC is more readable :)  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Aug 29, 12:48:00 PM:

If badly sourced and horribly inaccurate junk is such an abomination to you, why do you persist with your own blog?  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Wed Aug 29, 01:33:00 PM:

You'll notice that he isn't dumping his badly sourced and horribly inaccurate junk at other people's blogs; a courtesy that the rest of us appreciate.  

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