Saturday, November 28, 2015

Putin or Erdogan? Who do I wish would win - ex KGB or the Islamist?


I am in a bind. I cannot make up my mind who I wish would win in this confrontation.  Ex KGB vs Islamist, what a choice!

In reality, Putin’s explicit support for Iran’s nuclear program and sale of A-300 defense systems to Iran should make this a no-brainer.  For Israel and the world Putin’s actions are much more dangerous than Erdogan’s. Any yet, when you look at the stupidity of the Obama administration and all other co signatories of the Iran Deal, they all share the blame. Then there is Ukraine. But here again Putin’s policies are very much the consequence of the vacuum Obama left. Then years ago Putin had no intention of conquering Crimea.

Erdogan is an Islamist who despises Israel and the West. Already at the World Economic Forum at Davos in 2009 Erdogan showed what he stood for when he accused Israel of killings in Gaza and stormed out of the meeting after Peres quoted to Erdogan from the Hamas Charter “The day of judgement will not come about until the Moslems kill the Jews, when the Jews will hide behind stones” (42:07 into the video). Only two days ago Erdogan praised the Palestinian stabbing wave against Israel.  Turkey continues to support ISIS openly.
In his support for Iran Putin is making the same mistake the USSR did with the Molotov – Ribbentrop Pact of 1939. Erdogan richly deserves to be taught a lesson, but would it not be nicer if it were to come from a leader in the West with guts and principle? Alas, there is no such leader. Even Israel came up with the absurd apology to Turkey two years ago.

Or should I look at this as the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988 when the West had no desire in seeing any side win?  But Russia is much stronger and the inroads Putin has made in Syria will create real problems very soon.  On the other hand, in contrast to Erdogan, Putin has had a balanced policy towards Israel and the Jews, except in the question of Iran going nuclear.

What a mess! 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Dry Bones: Russian Insult?

State Department: Iran Deal Is Not ‘Legally Binding’ and Iran Didn’t Sign It

National Review


President Obama didn’t require Iranian leaders to sign the nuclear deal that his team negotiated with the regime, and the deal is not “legally binding,” his administration acknowledged in a letter to Representative Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.) obtained by National Review.

“The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is not a treaty or an executive agreement, and is not a signed document,” wrote Julia Frifield, the State Department assistant secretary for legislative affairs, in the November 19 letter.

Frifield wrote the letter in response to a letter Pompeo sent Secretary of State John Kerry, in which he observed that the deal the president had submitted to Congress was unsigned and wondered if the administration had given lawmakers the final agreement. Frifield’s response emphasizes that Congress did receive the final version of the deal. But by characterizing the JCPOA as a set of “political commitments” rather than a more formal agreement, it is sure to heighten congressional concerns that Iran might violate the deal’s terms.

“The success of the JCPOA will depend not on whether it is legally binding or signed, but rather on the extensive verification measures we have put in place, as well as Iran’s understanding that we have the capacity to re-impose — and ramp up — our sanctions if Iran does not meet its commitments,” Frifield wrote to Pompeo.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani discouraged his nation’s parliament from voting on the nuclear deal in order to avoid placing legal burdens on the regime. “If the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is sent to [and passed by] parliament, it will create an obligation for the government. It will mean the president, who has not signed it so far, will have to sign it,” Rouhani said in August. “Why should we place an unnecessary legal restriction on the Iranian people?”

Pompeo cited that comment in his letter to Kerry, but Frifield did not explicitly address it in her reply. “This is not a mere formality,” Pompeo wrote in his September 19 letter. “Those signatures represent the commitment of the signatory and the country on whose behalf he or she is signing. A signature also serves to make clear precisely who the parties to the agreement are and the authority under which that nation entered into the agreement. In short, just as with any legal instrument, signing matters.”

The full State Department letter is below:

Letter from State Department Regarding JCPOA

— Joel Gehrke is a political reporter for National Review.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Off topic: The twin paradox

In Modern Times historian Paul Johnson writes: ‘The modern world began on 29 May 1919 when photographs of a solar eclipse, taken on the island of Principe off West Africa and at Sobral in Brazil, confirmed the truth of a new theory of the universe “

The new theory of the universe was Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity which was submitted to The Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences in November of 1915, one hundred years ago.

I have never learned tensors so I will not write about General Relativity which due to my lack of math knowledge I never fully grasped. But here is a quote from Feynman’s Lectures on Physics on a phenomenon from the Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity which is easier.   

16–2  The twin paradox

To continue our discussion of the Lorentz transformation and relativistic effects, we consider a famous so-called “paradox” of Peter and Paul, who are supposed to be twins, born at the same time. When they are old enough to drive a space ship, Paul flies away at very high speed. Because Peter, who is left on the ground, sees Paul going so fast, all of Paul’s clocks appear to go slower, his heart beats go slower, his thoughts go slower, everything goes slower, from Peter’s point of view. Of course, Paul notices nothing unusual, but if he travels around and about for a while and then comes back, he will be younger than Peter, the man on the ground! That is actually right; it is one of the consequences of the theory of relativity which has been clearly demonstrated. Just as the mu-mesons last longer when they are moving, so also will Paul last longer when he is moving. This is called a “paradox” only by the people who believe that the principle of relativity means that all motion is relative; they say, “Heh, heh, heh, from the point of view of Paul, can’t we say that Peter was moving and should therefore appear to age more slowly? By symmetry, the only possible result is that both should be the same age when they meet.” But in order for them to come back together and make the comparison, Paul must either stop at the end of the trip and make a comparison of clocks or, more simply, he has to come back, and the one who comes back must be the man who was moving, and he knows this, because he had to turn around. When he turned around, all kinds of unusual things happened in his space ship—the rockets went off, things jammed up against one wall, and so on—while Peter felt nothing.

So the way to state the rule is to say that the man who has felt the accelerations, who has seen things fall against the walls, and so on, is the one who would be the younger; that is the difference between them in an “absolute” sense, and it is certainly correct. When we discussed the fact that moving mu-mesons live longer, we used as an example their straight-line motion in the atmosphere. But we can also make mu-mesons in a laboratory and cause them to go in a curve with a magnet, and even under this accelerated motion, they last exactly as much longer as they do when they are moving in a straight line. Although no one has arranged an experiment explicitly so that we can get rid of the paradox, one could compare a mu-meson which is left standing with one that had gone around a complete circle, and it would surely be found that the one that went around the circle lasted longer. Although we have not actually carried out an experiment using a complete circle, it is really not necessary, of course, because everything fits together all right. This may not satisfy those who insist that every single fact be demonstrated directly, but we confidently predict the result of the experiment in which Paul goes in a complete circle.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Western kindness is killing democracy

The West can no longer afford to play the compassionate democrat when it faces an enemy which respects no ethical rulebook whatsoever.

Belgian soldiers and a police officer control the documents of a woman 
in a shopping street in central Brussels


The horrific attacks ignited a potent demonstration of solidarity throughout the Western world. Global landmarks have been bathed in illuminated Tricolor flags, social media has been awash with tributes and moments of silence have been observed in major capitals. This determined sense of unity in the face of terrorism is entirely admirable, yet useless if it remains the sum total of the West’s response. The time has come to truly comprehend that Western democracy faces nothing less than a bitter and bloody fight to shape the future of the world. The battle against jihadist Islamism cannot be fought with demonstrations of goodwill.

Kindness and compromise is simply no match for suicide bombers. The West can no longer afford to play the compassionate democrat when it faces an enemy which respects no ethical rulebook whatsoever.

The latest Paris atrocities have conclusively demonstrated the utter folly of any attempt to appease, accommodate or “understand” the demands of Islamism. The murder of Charlie Hebdo staff in January was foolishly portrayed by some as a response to religious defamation.

In fact, the Western requirement for logical cause and effect has long insisted that terrorist attacks are a cry for justice at perceived wrongdoing.

But the murderous assault on Paris’ restaurants, bars, sports and leisure venues show that the jihadists’ only goal is death.

There is no discussion, no conversation to be had, because Islamists quite simply have no grievance. Their target is Western existence.

Consequently, there is no magic solution, no gesture which could be made that could ever turn off the poisonous tap of terrorism. While the West places supreme value on difference, diversity is the enemy of Islamism. The fanatics have handed the West a stark choice which can no longer be ignored. You are either with us or you must die.

To think that the carnage of Paris demands a mere reaffirmation of Western values is a fairytale- like delusion. Freedom and liberty have no automatic entitlement to defeat evil. In fact, it is these very Western principles which are viewed by the jihadists as the “Achilles heel” of its enemy. It is no surprise that one of the Paris terrorists seemingly infiltrated Europe posing as a Syrian refugee, taking advantage of Western beneficence.

To the Islamists, Europe’s eager embrace of the downtrodden is a weakness waiting to be ruthlessly exploited with devastating results.

And it is just one example of how Islamists keenly pounce on Western compassion to further the downfall of the civilized world. The terrorist group Hamas routinely uses human shields to protect its weaponry in the Gaza Strip, safe in the knowledge that Israeli forces will modify their operations out of concern for civilian life. Meanwhile, NGOs which should be a conduit for aid and relief are instead cynically enlisted as part of a complex network to finance terrorist groups including al-Qaida. At the same time, international bodies such as the United Nations, established as a democratic forum to solve global issues, are routinely hijacked as a platform for despotic regimes to garner international respectability.

Western freedoms are indeed precious, but left entirely without restriction they are inevitably abused by a determined enemy. Freedoms and rights can no longer be treated as sacred cows if the West and indeed democracy is to survive.

Democracies have continually evolved to best serve the needs of their time. Even in today’s world, the lack of any single uniform democratic system is further evidence that democracy is molded to suit specific circumstances. Consequently, limiting selected rights would not mean the loss of democratic meaning and purpose.

Far from it.

The brutal fact is that democracy must adapt or die. Intelligence services must be handed the tools needed to conduct effective surveillance on terrorism suspects, even if such powers compromise personal privacy. In what amounts to a war situation, security forces must be permitted to eliminate enemies, even when no complete judicial process is possible.

Europe will be required to re-introduce strict border controls in order to keep civilians safe, even if it restricts freedom of movement. And yes, above all, Western governments must commit themselves to using unrelenting military power against the Islamists in order to stop the forces of darkness in their tracks.

Major world powers have already honed in on Syria as the hornets’ nest of Islamic State.

But air-strikes can only achieve so much, they cannot deliver victory. This will require the commitment of Western military might, including ground forces. Such a campaign risks many casualties, both military and civilian, but the West can no longer fool itself into thinking that the defense of democracy can come without a price.

We may wish for an alternate reality, but wishing is not enough. We are immersed in a battle for civilization whether we like it or not. And the rules are clear – this is a zero sum game. There is no negotiation, no compromise. The West must adapt, it must take the fight to the enemy. Freedoms will be curbed and lives will be lost, but without such sacrifice Western democracy is destined to become nothing more than a long-forgotten empire.

Ari Harow served as chief of staff to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu until earlier this year.

Colonel Richard Kemp was commander of British forces in Afghanistan and head of the international terrorism team in the UK Prime Minister’s Office.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Fits the description

Last Thursday, in an op-ed piece in The New York Times, the French novelist Michel Houellebecq, author of Submission, called French President François Hollande an “insignificant opportunist” and Prime Minister Manuel Valls a “congenital moron.”

What are the chances that a well known American novelist, say Phillip Roth, might call US Secretary of State John Kerry a “congenital moron”? After all, Kerry fits the description much more than Valls.


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