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Syrian Diplomat Thinks U.S. Congress Will Show Wisdom on Syria

On September 2, 2013,  CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer interviewed Faisal Mekdad, Syria's deputy foreign minister, about President Barack Obama’s August 31, 2013, decision to seek debate in the U.S. Congress before launching an attack on Syria, to punish Syria President Bashar al-Assad for reportedly attacking Syrian civilians with chemical agents on August 21, 2013.

"The Middle East is already on fire now," Mr. Mekdad told Ms. Palmer. "And we think any wisdom in the United States -- and we hope the Congress will exercise this wisdom -- will not allow the United States to tarnish its image once again in wars in the Middle East."

Mr. Mekdad’s statement is in stark a contrast to that of a “Syrian state-run newspaper  who on September 1, 2012, 2013, mocked Mr. Obama’s decision to consult Congress as "the start of the historic American retreat.”

For more, see “Putting Plans Russian Delegation to Sway Congress on Syria Strike.” Mr. Mekdad is quoted in it.

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Do You Remember Eugene Hasenfus?

I highly recommend a December 27, 2009, post at Daily Kos headlined “Blast from the Past. Gene Hasenfus: December 1986.” It is about an event I’d forgotten about but readily recalled once I read the article, which notes that:

Twenty-three years ago, a complete unknown sprang into the international lime-light. His name was  Eugene Hasenfus. Shot down Oct. 5, 1986, while kicking crated cargo to anti-government terrorists from a CIA plane over the back-country of Nicaragua, his capture by Sandinista militiamen led to the exposure of what would become known as the Iran-contra affair. Three other crewmen died in the crash, but Hasenfus, against orders, had borrowed his skydiver brother’s parachute and, luckily for him – his name in German means "rabbit’s foot" – it opened. He landed in a jungle where he would manage to evade a Sandinista militia patrol for less than 24 hours. Upon his arrival at the Managua airport, a Sandinista soldier smiled and asked the sunburned, grime-caked Hasenfus, "What now, Rambo?" With this auspicious event began what should have been the complete unraveling of the Reagan administration.

Meteor Blade, writer of the article, adds: “When it came to Central America, that administration, with its ex-CIA Vice President and neo-conservative hatchlings making their early moves to dominate U.S. foreign policy, no deceit was spared the American people. Whether it was Guatemala, El Salvador or Nicaragua, we had your bold-faced lies, crafty lies, lies of the I-don’t-recall variety, revised memorandum lies, exaggerations, omissions, official misstatements, prevarications, phony redefinitions and historical revisions. Not to mention perjury.”

By the way, Hasenfus sued Richard Secord, Albert Hakim, Southern Air Transport (SAT) and Corporate Air Services (CAS)his employers and handlers in the Nicaraguan affair.” He lost but appealed the verdict.

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President Bush Faces a War Within the War

While so much of public debate has focused on whether the United States is winning the war against the predominantly Sunni insurgency, only a few commentators have noticed that another war in Iraq is in the early stages: the war between the United States and the an emerging Shiite-dominated Iraqi government.

Whether this conflict will soon lead to direct military clashes in 2006 is an open issue, but is not out of the question. Here a few signs of this war within a war:

(1) The Shiite-and-Kurd-dominated government organized after the January 2005 elections to write a constitution, not only conducted discussions with Iran about economic cooperation, it also discussed Iran's training of Iraqi military forces. While this received some media coverage, only a few have seen this as a omen about what is to come and have visualized the implications for American interests and for political stability in the Middle East. For obvious reasons, the Bush administration did not publicize this development.

(2) While the results of the December 15th Iraqi election are not final, it appears that the Shiite political parties who want some version of a theocratic state and closer relations with Iran will have a dominant role in the new government. It is unlikely that this new government will make enough compromises with Sunni interests over the constitution and over the composition of important ministries-- especially the police and military--to allow a stable government to emerge. This will develop in spite of what will be the Bush administration’s vigorous arm-twisting to force such compromises.

(3) The Bush administration publicized the existence of Iraqi torture of Sunnis carried out by Shiite-dominated security forces. This clearly was intended to force the current Shiite-dominated government to avoid alienating Sunnis even farther.

(4) The administration has just announced that the number of American military personnel assigned to Iraqi police commando units will be significantly increased to curb abuses that these units have inflicted on Sunnis. This action speaks for itself

The Bush administration is now caught on the horns of a dilemma. After the invasion, it expected to install a government dominated by someone who would be subservient to what it perceives as American interest. But the irony is that the democratic process the administration boasts about is creating a government will not kowtow to the administration's desires in the long run-although for the short term it needs the American military to fight its civil war against the Sunnis.

The odds are that any new Iraqi government will use American military power to keep Sunni influence at bay. Then once it has consolidated its power, it will push for an American withdrawal leaving a Shiite-dominated state allied with Iran and a disenfranchised but weakened Sunni community. While the Bush administration has not publicly acknowledged this dilemma, it is clearly pushing the Shiites to offer enough compromises to quell major elements of the Sunni resistance.

But how hard can the administration push before the Shiites push back? Whether push will come to shove with the Iraqi government using the Shiite-dominated military force President Bush is creating to resist American pressure is the sixty-four dollar question.

The irony here is that the immediate "victory" that President George W. Bush so mightily craves really means a strategic defeat and increased instability in the Middle East. And for this, so many people have died!

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Is Farris Hassan Brave or a Fool?

As Jamie Malernee and Kevin Smith note in their December 28, 2005 South Florida Sun-Sentinel report on 16-year-old, American-born Farris Hassan's venture to Iraq alone, "The (U.S.) State Department bluntly warns Americans not to travel to Iraq." You can imagine why.

So is Hassan brave or a fool? See "Florida teen secretly heads to Baghdad."

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Iraqi Election Winners Will Still Depend on U.S.

Washington Post Reporter Robin Wright has concluded that. "Whoever the winners turn out to be in last week's election [in Iraq], they will still rely heavily on the United States as a broker next year-- in helping to form a government, rewrite the constitution, build up the army and police, jump-start the floundering economy and prevent a civil war, Bush administration officials acknowledge. Iraqis are too divided to do many of these tasks alone, experts add."

In other words, the winners will be puppets who will have to rely on an occupying power to rule or lead. Here's more.

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Mr. Bush Wants His Patriot Act Renewed

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH is pissed that a few senators, both Democrats and Republicans, have finally gotten some balls and are not rubber stamping the "House of Representatives' reauthorization of the Patriot Act." Our president said in his December 17, 2005 radio address that "a minority of senators filibustered to block the renewal of the Patriot Act when it came up for a vote yesterday {December 16, 2005.

"That decision is irresponsible, and it endangers the lives of our citizens," he declared. "The senators who are filibustering must stop their delaying tactics, and the Senate must vote to reauthorize the Patriot Act. In the war on terror, we cannot afford to be without this law for a single moment."

Yes, we can. I think it is dangerous act because it gives the president and the FBI too much power to interfere in the lives of U.S. citizens . Here's a White House transcript of Mr. Bushes radio address.

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