It is becoming increasingly difficult to sort fact from fiction between legacy media and the new media of libel-proof blogs sans editors.
Blogmocracy is a time-consuming exercise in democracy. Media-watchers say to be well informed and up to speed one must scan at least 100 blogs. Also "Wikileaks," a Web-based investigative journalism outfit that recently released a video that showed a U.S. Apache helicopter opening fire on a group of men, killing 12, including two Reuters employees, on July 12, 2007. The Apache carried a gun camera. Wikileaks posted 38 minutes of what the gun was doing.
Few have time to keep up with more than one or two blogs. Thus, the one-graph scan of the print media online coupled with the television news scroll is how many stay "informed."
Debka, a news agency plugged in to Israeli intelligence, with a mixed track record of information frequently coupled with disinformation, reported last month that 387 super smart bunker-busters, originally earmarked for the Israeli air force, were diverted en route to Israel to Diego Garcia, a U.S. coral atoll base in the Indian Ocean. This allegedly reflected President Obama’s tetchiness over continued Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories, which he sees, correctly, as a major roadblock to the erection of a Palestinian state.
In Israel, and among American Jews, there is a large segment of opinion that sees Iran’s nuclear ambitions as an existential threat and would favor pre-emptive airstrikes by the IAF. But the leading armchair strategists among them are now saying the U.S. Air Force and Navy are best equipped to bring the military mullahs to heel. There was a slight hiccup in the facile patter of the warriors who have never heard a weapon fired in anger.
Obama is dead set against starting something that almost inevitably triggers another war even though most Gulf Arab leaders would secretly welcome anything that would deprive arch-rival Iran from becoming a de facto member of the nuclear club. For Obama, the Iraq war cost the United States $1 trillion and the Afghan war, by the time we’re done, another $1 trillion. A military showdown with Iran, and coping with the "Revolutionary Guards’" retaliatory capabilities up and down the Gulf, in Iraq and in Afghanistan, and throughout the Middle Eastern region, would easily cost another trillion dollars.
Three former CENTCOM commanders, now retired, with expert knowledge of the Middle East and all the key players, have said that learning to live with Iran as a nuclear power is wiser than bombing Iran. In their view, it would have to be part of a regional geopolitical deal that would involve the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany.
The former CENTCOM chiefs also echo current chief Gen. David H. Petraeus when he told a Senate hearing the Arab-Israeli conflict "foments anti-American sentiment" because of the "perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel." Israel’s Yediot Aharonot reported U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, angry over the announcement of 1,600 more housing units in Arab East Jerusalem, saying to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, "This is starting to get dangerous for us. What you’re doing here undermines the security of our troops now fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan."
Islamist extremists, from al-Qaida’s Osama bin Laden to radical imams in Pakistan’s madrassas and in mosques throughout the world, invariably couple the United states and Israel in the same sentence.
Obama already has more problems with Afghanistan than he anticipated when he came out in favor of the war during the presidential campaign. He told us that’s where al-Qaida is hiding, so we are still threatened by another Sept. 11. Al-Qaida’s Arabs and Pakistanis bugged out of Afghanistan to Pakistan during the battle of Tora Bora in December 2001. Their Uzbek and Tajik fellow terrorists went straight home.
Clearly, Obama didn’t anticipate that America’s client president of the client state of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, would turn against the United States rather than clean house of embarrassingly rampant corruption.
No sooner had U.S. Defense Secretary Bob Gates left Kabul than Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad flew in to a warm welcome by Karzai. Two days later Obama flew all the way to Kabul and back (26 hours of flying) for a six-hour visit designed to take Karzai to the woodshed. The time for cracking down hard on massive corruption in his government was long overdue. For Karzai, that would be mission impossible. Corruption is an integral part of the Afghan body politic. A backlash was inevitable.
No sooner was Obama back in the United States than Karzai went so far as to suggest he was prepared to join forces with Taliban, the enemy, reborn as a resistance movement fighting U.S./NATO occupation. That, he said, would be preferable to the yoke of American imperialism. He accused the U.S., U.N. and NATO countries of committing fraud in the presidential primary last August and described the Western coalition as "invaders" who are giving the Taliban legitimacy as a "resistance movement." Phew! Before week’s end, he denied everything. Wow!
Welcome to the high-stakes game of geopolitical poker. As there is no institutional memory in the capital of the world’s most powerful nation, no one remembers that throughout the Vietnam war various presidents, selected covertly by the United States and totally dependent on it, turned on their protector to demonstrate their mythical independence.
The United States and Russia signed a new "landmark" nuclear arms treaty with Russia this week designed to create an incentive for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons and for Iran not to produce any. Both America and Russia will still possess several thousand nuclear-tipped missiles and bombs, and neither Pyongyang nor Tehran is likely to scrap their nuclear plans.
This leaves the Obama administration with a pledged military withdrawal from Iraq this summer as suicide bombers return to sectarian and ethnic bloodletting, threatening to destroy a U.S.-engineered experiment in democracy; an Afghan ally threatening to join forces with the Taliban enemy; and the painful dilemma of Iran, against which draconian sanctions are no longer possible.
If Israel decided to explode an electromagnetic pulse weapon over Iran, the latest hot rumor in the blogosphere, and fry all electric appliances, including those at 27 nuclear sites, would POTUS disown America’s closest ally? Such a high-altitude nuclear explosion would, inevitably, cause collateral electrical damage in neighboring countries, including Turkey, Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan. The answer: a loud yes.