Saturday, August 30, 2008

Israel Has Decided: Iran Will Not Have Nukes - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Arutz Sheva

Israel Has Decided: Iran Will Not Have Nukes - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Arutz Sheva: "IsraelNN".com) Israel's leadership resolved, in top-level strategic discussions three months ago, to do whatever it takes to prevent Iran from having nuclear bombs. This is Maariv's front-page headline on Friday.

Maariv's veteran political reporter Ben Caspit stops short of detailing the precise solution Israel will implement to put an end to Iran's nuclear program, but writes, "Preparations for an Israeli military option intended to stop Iran's nuclear program are underway."

The results of the series of highest-level discussions are thus clear: "The debate between those who believe in doing everything, including a military operation, to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb, and those who think we can live with Iranian nukes, has been settled."

Not only that, but "if the ayatollahs' regime does not fall in the next year, if the Americans do not strike militarily, and if the international sanctions do not break the Iranian nuclear plan, Israel will have to act forcefully."

Olmert: Home Front and Air Force
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert gave a strong hint of Israel's intentions when he said in a closed forum last week that the IDF has only two truly important commands: the Home Front Command and the Air Force.

Caspit writes that at present, the U.S. is refusing to cooperate with the Israeli plan and will not give Israel the necessary permission and codes it needs to overfly Iraq in order to attack Iran. "We'll help you defend yourselves," the Americans say, offering special radar systems, "but we won't let you attack."

A security source put it this way: "The Americans have accepted the fact that Iran will be a nuclear power, and are trying to get us to accept it too." But we will not, says Caspit.

Sneh's Bloodless Plan
Former Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh proposes a third option: A total international embargo on spare parts for Iran's oil industry and a complete international boycott of Iran's banks.

Others have called for an end to investments and an international divestment capaign from Iran and countries doing business with Iran, including Opposition Leader Binyamin Netanyahu and U.S. Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain.

Sneh sent an eight-clause memo to both McCain and his challenger, Sen. Barack Obama, outlining the plan that he says will be the "most rational and cheap, and will not cause bloodshed." If the U.S. recruits all of Europe to take part in these "genuine" sanctions, Sneh says, Iran's regime will be toppled from within. The time to implement this program is within the next 18-24 months; otherwise, Sneh warns, the only alternative will be an Israeli military strike.

Sneh, who recently resigned from the his Labor Party Knesset seat to form a new party, visited last week in Switzerland and Austria - two countries that have announced plans for huge oil and gas investments in Iran in the coming years.

Hearing his hosts describing their future investments, Sneh said he told them quietly, "What a shame, because Ido will set it all on fire." Ido is Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan - Commander of the Israel Air Force that would carry out the air strikes on Iran.

"Investing in Iran in 2008," Sneh told the Austrians, "is like investing in Germany's Krups plant in 1938; it's a high-risk investment." The Austrians turned pale, Sneh said
.

Column One: When history is not repeated | Columnists | Jerusalem Post

Column One: When history is not repeated | Columnists | Jerusalem Post: "On"Tuesday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced: "We are not afraid of anything, including the prospect of a new cold war."

Medvedev made this declaration after signing an order recognizing the sovereignty of Georgia's two pro-Russian provinces, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Some observers warn that Russian annexation of the two territories is just a matter of time.

While a cold war is less attractive than a competitive alliance, Russia's violent, bullying behavior makes it impossible to imagine its leaders returning to their pre-invasion cooperative posture with the West. As a consequence, like Medvedev, many Western officials have been noting the possibility that a new cold war will take place between Russia and the West.

Yet the nature of Russia's regime, which propelled its decision to launch its war in Georgia, raises doubts about the viability of reaching an equilibrium of hostility with the West comparable to that which existed during the Cold War. It is true that similarities between Russia's current behavior and that of the Soviet Union before it abound. As was the case with the Soviet Union, it is fairly clear that Russia's current regime has expansionist aspirations far beyond its immediate borders. Moscow's threat to attack Poland with nuclear bombs, its aggressive naval deployment in the Mediterranean Sea, its hosting of Syrian President Bashar Assad and its renewed talk of supplying Syria and Iran with advanced weapons systems all make its Soviet-like expansionist aims clear.

Moreover, as Pavel Felgenhauer noted on the Jamestown Foundation's Eurasia Daily Monitor Web publication, Russia's government-controlled media is engaged in Soviet-like frenzied demonization of US leaders. In one prominent example this week, the government-mouthpiece Izvestia launched an obscene broadside against US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The newspaper referred to her as "insane," and then crudely demeaned her as "a skinny old single lady who likes to display her underwear during talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Ivanov."

As the West scrambles to build a strategy for contending with Russia, many writers and policy-makers have pointed out that Russia is fundamentally weak. As my former Jerusalem Post colleague Bret Stephens noted Tuesday in The Wall Street Journal, Russia's demographic
forecast, like its oil and gas production forecasts, are dim. The CIA has pointed out through demographic attrition, Russia's population will decline more than 20 percent over the next 40 years. And due to "underinvestment, incompetence, corruption, political interference and crude profiteering," Russia's oil production will decline this year for the first time. Its production rates are expected to drop precipitously next year and in the coming years as well
.

Cognizant of these negative trends, US and European leaders are hoping that Russia's bleak prospects will convince its leaders to step back from the precipice of war with the West to which they are now hurtling. On Wednesday, US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried warned, "Russia is going to have to come to terms with the reality that it can either integrate with the world or it can be a self-isolated bully. But it can't have both."

WHILE IT remains to be seen if the West will agree to isolate the Russian bully, it is certainly the case that Russia's leaders are not blind to their country's weaknesses. This is so because to a large degree, Russia's dim long-term prognosis has been caused by the domestic policies of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his cronies. And in light of this, it can be safely assumed that far from causing them to avoid confrontation with the West, their cognizance of Russia's problems is what caused them to adopt their belligerent posture.

In December, Russian political insider Stanislav Belkovsky told the German media that during his two terms as Russia's president, Putin amassed a fortune in excess of $40 billion, making him the wealthiest man in Europe. Putin's wealth has been built through his ownership of vast holdings in three Russian oil and gas companies.

Were Putin invested in the long-term prosperity and strength of his country, he would have invested that money in Russia. Instead he has squirreled it away in bank accounts in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. And of course, Putin is not alone in betting his wealth against his country's future. Like him, his cronies in the Kremlin and the FSB (Federal Security Service) have accrued their wealth through their ownership of shares in Russian companies that Putin has nationalized. And like him, they have taken their loot out of the country
.

The behavior of Russia's rulers makes clear that they do not concern themselves with the long-term health of their country as they construct their policies. And their concentration on short-term gains makes their decision to confront the US and Europe inevitable. It is now, when Russia's oil wealth is at its peak, that they are most powerful. And with their current power they seek to maximize their personal gains while justifying their actions in the name of Russian glory.

By doing this, they are working to ensure that despite their despoiling of Russia's natural resources and fostering of social pathologies that guarantee Russia will be unable to stem its decline, Putin and his men will go out in a blaze of fire and light. Through his fascist cultivation of a cult of personality and his jingoistic aggression and incitement against the US, Putin, like Peter the Great and Josef Stalin, will enter the pantheon of Russia's great heroes after he abandons his devastated country to be reunited with his money. He cares not for the consequences of his actions for his fellow Russians. His loyalties are to immortality, and his bank accounts.

It is due to Putin's non-domestic considerations that it is virtually impossible to reach a stable equilibrium of hostility with Russia today like that which existed with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. This is the case for two reasons. First, because it is impossible to know how long he will stay around. And second, Putin's motivations block any chance of reaching a modus operandi with Russia because his motivations are not shared by his countrymen.

THE FACT of the matter is that in its indifference toward Russia's long-term well-being, Putin's regime is far more similar to Iran and North Korea than it is to the Soviet Union that preceded it. As Iran invests hundreds of billions of dollars in its nuclear program and still more billions in its terror proxies, client states and offensive military systems in the name of its quest for Islamic domination and salvation, its domestic economy is falling apart.

For the first time since 1982, this year Iran was forced to import wheat from the US. Parliament member Sayed Delkhosh announced Tuesday that 30% of Iran's $280b. annual budget has gone toward preventing failed government-owned companies from going bankrupt. Then, too, Iran's oil distribution company just announced that it intends to cut the public's gasoline rations ahead of the winter.

As for North Korea, its principal exports are missiles, weapons of mass destruction, forged currency and narcotics. North Korea is a slave state replete will full regimentation of the entire starving population, abandoned, ruined villages and an archipelago of concentration camps. It is a country dedicated completely to the perpetuation of the pathological regime of absolute dictator Kim Jong-Il and his family.

It is due to the fact that they base their national policies on considerations unrelated to their national well-being that Russia, Iran and North Korea have chosen a posture of war and confrontation with the West. For it is through confrontation and aggression that they coerce the West to pay attention to them. The identification of the West as the enemy enables them to divert their peoples' attention away from their domestic policy failures. Through their manipulation of public opinion Russia, Iran and North Korea have convinced their people to blame the outside enemy for their impoverishment and their suffering. And in light of the supposed enemies at their gates, the Russians, Iranians and North Koreans feel free, indeed compelled, to repress all opponents of their regimes.

It is true that each of these regimes is motivated by different governing rationales. But whether their governing rationales are apocalyptic messianism, megalomania or greed, the result is the same. Guided by short-term goals, the leaders of Iran, Russia and North Korea seek out confrontation and war with the West
.

TO UNDERSTAND the acuteness of the challenges that Russia, Iran and North Korea constitute for the West, it is useful to compare them to the ascendant People's Republic of China. It is absolutely clear that like the Soviet Union before it, the PRC is currently engaged in a long-term strategy of expanding its military and economic power. Like the USSR, the PRC is emerging as a major power in competition and in conflict with the US.

While the emergence of the PRC as a competitor of America's presents the US with major strategic challenges, the US has many options short of overt confrontation for contending with the rise of China. It can expand its naval forces and modernize its nuclear arsenal. It can strengthen its alliances with Japan, South Korea and other Asian democracies. It can expand and develop manufacturing markets in Thailand and India to compete with Chinese factories. At the same time, it can diversify its energy consumption to lower tensions over oil supplies with China.

The fact that Russia, Iran and North Korea are unstable does not simply bar the prospect of reaching accords with them that will enable a stable equilibrium of terror and deterrence to emerge. Their inherent instability, evidenced by their otherworldly and so necessarily short-term policy horizons, makes clear that the lifespan of any deal is unknowable at best and most likely extremely limited. Moreover, even in the absence of a deal, it is impossible to reach a stable balance of terror.

In contrast, during the Cold War, even when explicit agreements were impossible to achieve, there was still a basic framework of deterrence that limited the nature of the threat and the magnitude of possible conflagrations. Both the US and the Soviets based their strategies for contending with one another on a balance of terror predicated on mutually assured destruction. This understanding was founded on the American and Soviet presumption of the stability of the other side. In contrast, when forging policies to contend with the Russian, Iranian and North Korean regimes it is impossible to presume their stability because they are by their very natures unstable.

The lesson of all of this is that while all enemies present dangers, not all enemies are alike. The same strategies cannot be employed against unstable enemies as can be employed against stable ones. Rather than forging policies toward Russia as well as Iran and North Korea based on false analogies with the Cold War, it is vital to recognize that regimes that do not concern themselves with the welfare of their own people are not regimes that will be credible negotiating partners or stable antagonists in cold wars based upon an assumption of mutual assured destruction.

www.CarolineGlick.com


[bth: so is this author saying that we need to be threatening or advancing the russian leasders' desire for personal wealth and glory?]

Al-Qaeda militants moving to Pak's tribal areas

Al-Qaeda militants moving to Pak's tribal areas-USA-World-The Times of India: "WASHINGTON"A top US military officer has said that the al-Qaida militants in Iraq are moving to safe haven in tribal areas of Pakistan, posing threat not only to coalition forces in Afghanistan but to Islamabad.

In a press meeting, the Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen James Conway said the coalition forces will not be able to solve the problems in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan and it was essentially up to the government in Islamabad to come to the terms with what is happening on their sovereign soil.

"We do see more foreign fighters now, though, I think, coming to Pakistan and operating in Afghanistan than we're seeing in Iraq.... no intelligence agency would say this, but it may be that there's been a refocus. I think the al-Qaida knows that they have blown a movement in Iraq through a number of missteps over time..." General Conway said.

"... the influence and the presence and the numbers of al-Qaida in Iraq are very much diminished and they had to go somewhere, and my guess is, my belief is that they probably have gone to that safe haven in the FATA," he said making the point that there are people in the area who pose danger not only to the coalition forces but also to Pakistan.

"That's long been an ungoverned area. I think we're all concerned that if it's not managed -- and it must be managed by the Pakistanis, it's on their side of the border -- if it's not managed, that you could see attacks against other parts of Pakistan and certainly attacks into Afghanistan.

"So, I think it is a real threat," he added. "Pakistan is a hard nut to crack and it's probably not one that we, coalition forces, are going to be able to solve. It's going to require involvement on the part of the Pakistanis to settle the problem that's taking place on their sovereign soil," Gen Conway added.

[bth: leave it to Gen. Conway to state the obvious as insight. But then again, somebody has to and its certainly not coming from State.]

Why it's so hard to swat a fly

Why it's so hard to swat a fly - Yahoo! News: ..."In"response to a threat from the front, the fly moves its middle legs forward, leans back and raises its back legs for a backward takeoff. If the threat is from the side, the fly leans the other way before takeoff.

The findings offer new insight into the fly nervous system, and lends a few clues on how to outsmart a fly.

"It is best not to swat at the fly's starting position," Dickinson said. Instead, aim for the escape route.

Dickinson, a bioengineer, has devoted his life's work to the study of insect flight. He has built a tiny robotic fly called Robofly and a 3-D visual flight simulator called Fly-O-Vision

[bth: unmanned air and ground vehicles will need to develop basic defensive maneuvers.]

Press TV - 'NATO ships' funeral, a missile salvo away'

Press TV - 'NATO ships' funeral, a missile salvo away': "NATO's"naval squad is no match for Russia's Black Sea Fleet and would fall to pieces should the fleet launch a 'single missile salvo.'

Former Russian commander Admiral Eduard Baltin said "a single missile salvo from the Moskva missile cruiser and two or three missile boats would be enough to annihilate the entire group."

The one-time fleet commander was quoted by Ria Novosti as saying that the NATO squad looked better than they fought. "Despite the apparent strength" the 10-pieace NATO armada in the Black Sea "is not battle-worthy."

He noted that the entire squadron could only brave the Black Sea Fleet for '20 minutes' adding that the NATO sailors would be "people with suicidal tendencies," if they lead a charge towards the Russian warships.

While the conflict-ridden Georgia lies within the 900-kilometer (560-mile) reach of the NATO drill's whereabouts, the alliance keeps billing the measure as only a routine exercise.

The time, however, seems inappropriate for such a potentially problematic move as, off the Georgian coast, the Russian warships have been tasked with keeping an eye on the powder keg of a situation in Georgia's violence-stricken province of South Ossetia.

Ria Novosti, however, quoted sources within the Russian military officialdom as raising the concerns that a 'surface strike group' was being mustered in the location of the exercise.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Biden's Window Onto America, Our Window Into Biden - PostPartisan - Quick takes by The Post's opinion writers#more

Biden's Window Onto America, Our Window Into Biden - PostPartisan - Quick takes by The Post's opinion writers#more: "Michelle"Obama was fine and Hillary Clinton was good and John Kerry was forceful and Bill Clinton was terrific, but Joe Biden… Biden brought a tear to my eye. It came, of course, when he talked about his mother, the virtually cinematic embodiment of maternal myths -- a speechwriter’s concoction, you might have thought -- but there she was in the convention center, a face of crags and ripples, of past pain and present pleasure, with her son looking up and saying that her lessons, each and every one of them, was a step he mounted to reach the stage of the convention hall. Mothers move us all -- and so do sons who love them.

But then Biden got to the bit about the railroad. Most nights, as everyone must know by now, he takes the train from Washington, D.C. home to Wilmington, Del. Much has been made of this, including the preposterous statement that this nightly commute makes him something other than a Beltway insider. But the train trip is still important not because it takes him out of Washington, but because it takes him out of himself. Listen:

“Almost every night, I take the train home to Wilmington, sometimes very late. As I look out the window at the homes we pass, I can almost hear what they're talking about at the kitchen table after they put the kids to bed.” Biden said he overheard talk about economic desperation, about the calamity of aging without enough money, about college tuition payments so immense they can break the back of the middle class, of staggering bills to heat the home, and no pay raise this year and less health insurance and a retirement that gets postponed and postponed and postponed.

This is the virtue of trains and solitude. The train passenger is free to imagine, to fantasize -- to wonder about what’s happening in that lighted window or behind that door. The train brings you close, sometimes so close you can see the people inside. All politicians should be forced to take trains.

Joe Biden painted a picture last night. He did not just recite a list of programs, of what should be done and what was not done. Oh, I know he also knocked his friend John McCain and spanked George Bush, as any Democrat rightly should, but he also fired up the imagination of the torpid TV viewer. Out there, a bit beyond the tracks, close to the saloon and near the pool hall, over by the Holy Rosary Church and down by the social club, next to the bodega, up in that window where -- dammit, the light just went out -- is a story as rich and as complicated and as sad and as joyous as any in America. Great politicians are all voyeurs.

As Biden showed, on a train you can look into a window and see America. And sometimes, as his words about his mother showed, you can look into a window and see yourself.

Punish Russia by Going After Its Fat Cats? (Updated) | Danger Room from Wired.com

Punish Russia by Going After Its Fat Cats? (Updated) | Danger Room from Wired.com: "Ever"since Russia invaded Georgia, there have been all kinds of proposals for how the West should respond. To my ears, they all sound too limp (kick Russia out of the G-8) or too blowback-prone (give Stinger missiles to Tblisi).

Former Justice Department official David Rivkin suggests a different approach: Skip the diplomatic drama, and the arms sales, and instead go after the "the shady cadre" of "ex-KGB siloviks and wealthy Kremlin-friendly tycoons" that "bankrolled Putin's rise" and really run modern Russia.

These oligarchs have countless billions sunk in the Western financial system, Rivkin and Carlos Ramos-Mrosovsky write in The Washington Post. And many of their enterprises are not exactly on the up and up. Which makes 'em "perfect target[s]" to squeeze.

Whenever they have jurisdiction to do so -- which should be often -- U.S. and E.U. regulators should examine the business transactions of people close to Putin's regime for money laundering or for securities, tax and other economic irregularities. Asset tracing and long statutes of limitation should enable Western authorities to examine years' worth of business activities. The U.S. Justice Department should aggressively prosecute any instances of Kremlin-connected market manipulation, fraud, tax evasion and money laundering that fall within its reach.

Subpoenas, indictments, asset forfeitures, judgments and travel restrictions will hit where even the most callous bullies feel pain: squarely in the wallet.

It's subtle. It's sneaky. And best of all, "[p]ursuing the oligarchs through the courts would not require the United States or Europe to take a single action 'against Russia,'" Rivkin and Ramos-Mrosovsky write. The West just ups its global anti-corruption campaign -- and then "return[s] the ill-gotten gains to the Russian people, [which] should please even the fiercest Russian nationalists."

My question: Would our oligarchs allow their oligarchs to be targeted? After all, American and U.S. tycoons got pretty cozy with Putin, over the last few years. And Western business interests have been allowed to trump Western security interests over and over again. Just look at how hard it's been to impose economic sanctions on Iran, or how the West genuflects before the Saudis. Can our bankers and businessmen show more spine, in this case?

UPDATE: Max Boot reminds us that pressuring Russia isn't an either/or game. We can use economic leverage, as well as military or diplomatic means. Meanwhile, former Pentagon attorney and Georgetown Law professor David Kolpow cautions Danger Room readers that "a 'creative' approach like Rivkin's poses distinct difficulties:"

1. There are real proof problems in satisfying U.S. courts that “oligarchs” in Russia are guilty of “corruption.” The U.S. system requires admissible proof, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a particular individual has committed a particular criminal violation. To make generic charges about “money laundering” obscures how difficult it would be to make any particular accusation stick.

2. What about “make the punishment fit the crime”? Did the oligarchs themselves invade Georgia? For us to put pressure on person X because of what person Y did is a departure from the general practice of punishing those who committed the actual offense. This is more like a classic “secondary boycott” -- something the U.S. generally (and rightly) resists.

3. We should, in general, look at things with a greater sense of reciprocity -- how would we feel if Putin acted in the same way toward us? What if, in response to Bush’s actions in recognizing Kosovo, Russia had decided to raise taxes on Pepsi bottling operations in Russia, or deny visas to General Motors executives who wanted to cruise the Russian canals or invent criminal charges against former USG officials? Would indirect pressure like that make the United States more sensitive to Moscow’s interests, and more likely to cooperate next time, or would it have the exact opposite effect?

Martin Luther King August 2008

Crooks and Liars

Washington Times - DE BORCHGRAVE: Unwinnable insurgencies?

Washington Times - DE BORCHGRAVE: Unwinnable insurgencies?: "Insurgencies"since World War II have worn down their enemies and then prevailed - with one major exception: Insurgencies since World War II have worn down their enemies and then prevailed - with one major exception: Malaya (communist insurgency 1948-1960) before it became Malaysia. Iraq, where the final results will not be known until after U.S. troops leave everything to Iraq security forces, may become the second.

In 1946, the French in Indochina were up against a communist insurgency in decolonization disguise - and after eight years of guerrilla warfare were defeated at Dienbienphu in 1954, which clinched victory for North Vietnam's Marxist republic. Six months after Dienbienphu, the French army faced a nationalist insurgency in Algeria, which was then an integral part of metropolitan France - and after eight years of fighting conceded defeat and agreed to the forced exile of 1 million French citizens and the exit of a French army of 500,000.

The United States fought a 10-year guerrilla war in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos - and lost to the same Ho Chi Minh-inspired, communist-led insurgency that defeated the French army. Marxist-led FARC in Colombia is still in business after a half-century of guerrilla warfare, bombing and kidnapping. The Marxist Huks in the Philippines are yet to be defeated after 60 years of battling the central government and before that the Japanese occupation. Hukbalahap, or People's Army Against the Japanese, is still killing an average of one Filipino soldier a day.

In Afghanistan, the Soviet Union fought an insurgency for nine years - and lost. The United States and its allies have been fighting a Taliban insurgency for the last five years - and victory now appears to be an ephemeral mirage. For the United States in Vietnam and the French in Algeria, the enemy enjoyed privileged sanctuaries in North Vietnam and in Tunisia. Thus, both insurgencies became unwinnable.

Now the Taliban has the same advantage over U.S. and European forces under NATO command in Afghanistan; safe havens in Pakistan's seven Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along the Afghan border. The local Pashtun population is sympathetic to the Taliban and al Qaeda while the Pakistan army, about 120,000-strong now in FATA, mostly in static positions along a 1,400-mile border, loathe an assignment they say smacks of civil war.

Pakistan sans Pervez Musharraf favors negotiations with their homegrown Taliban extremists, and Pakistani officials, speaking privately, believe the United States should also seek accommodation through talks with "moderate" Taliban elements, whose objective would be a coalition government. They also believe Saudi Arabia, once one of three countries that recognized Taliban rule in Kabul in the late 1990s, could be helpful.

Pakistani to-ing and fro-ing on the Taliban reflects a post-Musharraf democratic coalition government trying to get its act together. This, in turn, is a major handicap for U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan fighting a Taliban insurgency, which was originally inspired by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency to put an end to the civil war in the early 1990s that followed the Soviet Union's concession of defeat.

U.S. and allied vulnerabilities are brought home by the Pentagon estimating "84 percent of all containerized cargo and about 40 percent of all fuel for U.S. and coalition forces operating out of Afghanistan passes through Pakistan," either through the Khyber Pass to Kabul or through Baluchistan to Kandahar.

The beginning of the end for U.S. forces in Vietnam was the 1968 Tet offensive, which was erroneously interpreted by U.S. and international media as a huge victory for Hanoi's insurgents. Walter Cronkite declared the war lost and President Lyndon B. Johnson decided not to run for re-election. The Communist Viet Cong hit 36 provincial capitals simultaneously, but they were repulsed everywhere with tremendous losses - about 45,000 out of 80,000 guerrillas committed - that forced North Vietnam to dispatch regular army units to replace the Viet Cong.

The last U.S. fighting unit left Vietnam in March 1973 and the South Vietnamese army fought on until 1975 when Congress, in a classic case of cutting off its nose to spite its face, decided to cut off all military aid to South Vietnamese and Cambodian allies. Memoirs by North Vietnam's military commanders said they thought they would have to fight at least another two years before the grand prize of Saigon would be within their grasp. But the congressional decision led them to improvise a general offensive against a now thoroughly demoralized South Vietnamese.

There are lessons in all these defeats for NATO in Afghanistan. If NATO doesn't prevail and Taliban sneaks in by agreeing to a junior partnership in a broad-based coalition government, the geopolitical consequences would be incalculable. Yet Taliban is now maneuvering for a Vietnam-style Tet offensive, this time against Kabul.

The U.S. and NATO are fast approaching decision time to take the war to Taliban's safe bases in FATA, with or without Pakistan's consent. A larger aid package than the current $750 million for FATA's 3.5 million people would also have to be voted by the new U.S. Congress.

Taliban guerrillas are edging closer to the capital city from three directions. In a probe of Taliban inroads, French paratroopers set off on a reconnaissance mission to the east of the capital and quickly fell into an ambush that killed 10 French fighters and wounded 21. That raises the question of how the Taliban found out about French plans and knew exactly where to prepare a three-sided ambush as night fell. French President Nicolas Sarkozy immediately flew out to Afghanistan to bolster morale and pledge unswerving French military support against Taliban.

In Vietnam, many U.S. operations were known in advance to the enemy through local employees that worked in U.S. bases. The latest Afghan fiasco has all the earmarks of an inside intelligence job.

Taliban tactical coordination became apparent when 10 suicide bombers mounted a coordinated attack against one of the largest U.S. military bases. Last July, nine U.S. soldiers were killed and 15 injured in a surprise attack against a small U.S. base that was abandoned next day.

To turn Afghanistan into a viable economy beyond the clandestine multibillion-dollar opium-poppy-to-heroin traffic requires billions more in aid, which isn't available in the donor-fatigued national parliaments of the coalition. The outgoing NATO commander said at least 400,000 troops would be required to control Afghanistan, a country the size of France with 30 million people. Current deployment: 60,000.

Arnaud de Borchgrave is editor at large of The Washington Times and of United Press International.

Maliki: No American bases in Kurdistan

Maliki: No American bases in Kurdistan: "Again" no SOFA without the clerics approval

Al-Adeeb who is second in rank after Maliki in Dawa Party told Al-Mashriq newspaper [no link allowed, see image above] that high references clerics must decide to approve the security agreement or not after the parliament approval.

He added that religious clerics are very influential in the Iraqi streets and political blocs are obliged to take their opinions in the agreement.

No American bases in Kurdistan

Kurdish sources told Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Watan that Maliki refused to include Kurdistan among the U.S. military bases presence in the SOFA agreement
, noted that Maliki used Iran and Turkey’s refusal to prevent the American from establishing and American base in Kurdistan. They also said that there is no American forces presence in Kurdistan since the fall of Saddam in 2003.

Maliki was also not very supportive for the presence of U.S. forces to join Iraqi Kurds forces to fight against the Turkish - Kurdish PKK on the Turkey’s border a year ago.

The sources conclusion is that Baghdad fears reflects Iran and Turkey fears of the growing relations between the Kurds and the U.S. and the future possibilities that the Kurds will announce the independent Kurdistan state.

Ironically is that Maliki used the Minister of Foreign Affairs Zebari who is a Kurds to push this agenda in the negotiations with the Americans.

AKI - Adnkronos international Pakistan: Gunmen attack APCs in Karachi bound for Afghanistan

AKI - Adnkronos international Pakistan: Gunmen attack APCs in Karachi bound for Afghanistan: "Karachi"25 August (AKI) - Militants in the Pakistani port city of Karachi set fire to two armoured personnel carriers bound for US forces in Afghanistan, police said on Monday.

Adnkronos International (AKI) recently reported that Islamist militants had threatened to start attacking supplies bound for foreign forces in Afghanistan after the largest-ever shipment of NATO arms and military supplies arrived in the port.

The shipment of NATO arms and military supplies arrived in Karachi in early August and was to be moved through Pakistan to Afghanistan amid growing concern about the threat from militants in the border region.

Five hundred and thirty containers carrying missiles, armoured personnel vehicles, aircraft engines and several other items were ready for shipment.

On Monday around two dozen gunmen reportedly attacked supplies on a truck that had been parked near a main road since 18 August because of a strike by truck drivers over rising fuel prices.

Officials previously told AKI's Pakistani correspondent, Syed Saleem Shahzad, they were concerned about the fate of the supplies, particularly after the resignation of President Pervez Musharraf and continuing conflict in the border region.

"The Taliban-led insurgency has now spread all over the NWFP (North-West Frontier Province) and one wonders who is to arrange the safe transit," an official at the Karachi Port Trust told Adnkronos International (AKI) on condition of anonymity.

"Pakistan needs to send them (containers) to Kabul and Kandahar through two routes - one through the Torkham border takes 36 hours from Karachi and the second route to the Chaman border takes around 18 hours from Karachi.

"Both routes are insecure as the Taliban has recently looted and destroyed many container convoys."

[bth: further indiction that the supply lines are vulnerable and where the loot is. If Russia blocks us from the north and Pakistan becomes unstable, then we're in real trouble.]

ABS-CBN News Online (Beta)

ABS-CBN News Online (Beta): "With"civilians arming themselves after their villages were attacked—some, threatened to be attacked—by Muslim rebels, there is now reportedly a shortage of firearms and bullets in Mindanao, sources said.

This has led to a bullish arms black market, where an M14 rifle is reportedly sold at P90,000, and an M16 Armalite rifle, between P50,000 and P70,000.

The .30 caliber ammunitions for Garand rifles, the standard issue to government militiamen, are in demand, too.

Members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have attacked four provinces so far where local officials are against the inclusion of their towns or villages in the proposed Bangsamoro Juridical Entity to be led by the MILF.

The attacks started after the Supreme Court stopped at the last minute the signing of a memorandum of agreement between the national government and the MILF defining the BJE. The MOA was drafted in secrecy, and affected localities are asking the tribunal to compel the government to make its contents public.

Philippine National Police chief Avelino Razon has said that civilians may now be allowed to defend themselves with available arms in their possession. Licensed owners starting taking out their guns, especially during organized night watches. Cities and municipalities who are threatened by MILF attacks have put up check points and blockades.

This week, civilians who introduced themselves as members of the Ilaga said that they have resurrected the vigilante group, a 1970s anti-Muslim organization created by the so-called group of seven headed by Feliciano Luces alias "Kumander Toothpick."

Luces’s face was splashed on the front pages of national dailies in the 1970’s after he met with then President Ferdinand Marcos during the height of Moro war in Mindanao. The tale that went around after the meeting was that Kumander Toothpick gave Marcos an amulet that would protect the bearer against bullets coming from assassins.

When Kumander Toothpick died, Norberto Manero took over the reins of the Ilaga and gained notoriety for killing Italian missionary Fr. Tulio Favali in 1985. Manero served time for the crime, but is now free after he was given parole by President Joseph Estrada.

World War II vintage rifles, such as the M1 Garand rifles, Carbine, bolt-action Springfields, 12-gauge shotguns, and Thompson sub machine guns are now being polished clean as villagers gear to defend their properties and lives.

In General Santos City, gun stores have reportedly ran out of shotgun cartridges. A politician known to maintain a private army has reportedly sent word that he is willing to buy an M14 rifle for up to P90,000. The military would not confirm that it’s running out .30 caliber ammunitions.

Local politicians are no longer coy about residents arming themselves to ward off possible attacks by the MILF.

Sarangani Gov. Miguel Dominguez said residents have the right to bear arms and urged them to be on guard. Iligan City Mayor Lawrence Cruz has defended the decision of civilians to bear arms, saying they have the "right to self preservation."

North Cotabato Gov. Emmanuel Piñol has locked horns with presidential peace adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. over requests for more arms and ammunition. ARMM Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan has reportedly beefed up his already strong security force.

One lawyer said he fears the violence may escalate and Mindanao could revert back to the religious war that killed thousands and displaced more than a million residents in the 1970s

Taliban Gain New Foothold in Afghan City - NYTimes.com

Taliban Gain New Foothold in Afghan City - NYTimes.com: "KANDAHAR", Afghanistan — The Taliban bomber calmly parked a white fuel tanker near the prison gates of this city one evening in June, then jumped down from the cab and let out a laugh. Prison guards fired on the bomber as he ran off, but they missed, instead killing the son of a local shopkeeper, Muhammad Daoud, who watched the scene unfold from across the street.

Seconds later, the Taliban fired a rocket-propelled grenade into the tanker, setting off an explosion that killed the prison guards, destroyed nearby buildings, and opened a breach in the prison walls as wide as a highway. Nearly 900 prisoners escaped, 350 of them members of the Taliban, in one of the worst security lapses in Afghanistan in the six years since the United States intervention here.

The prison break, on June 13, was a spectacular propaganda coup for the Taliban not only in freeing their comrades and flaunting their strength, but also in exposing the catastrophic weakness of the Afghan government, its army and the police, as well as the international forces trying to secure Kandahar.

In the weeks since the prison break, security has further deteriorated in this southern Afghan city, once the de facto capital of the Taliban, that has become a renewed front line in the battle against the radical Islamist movement. The failure of the American-backed Afghan government to protect Kandahar has rippled across the rest of the country and complicated the task of NATO forces, which have suffered more deaths here this year than at any time since the 2001 invasion.

“We don’t have a system here, the government does not have a solution,” said Abdul Aleem, who fought the Taliban and helped to put some of its members in the prison. They are on the loose again, and he now faces death threats and sits in his garden with a Kalashnikov rifle on the chair beside him.

He said that without the presence of international forces in the city, the situation would be even worse. “If we did not have foreigners here, I don’t think the Afghan National Army or police would come out of their bases,” he said.

A rising chorus of complaints equally scathing about the failings of the government can be heard around the country. The collapsing confidence in the government of President Hamid Karzai is so serious that if the Taliban had wanted to, they could have seized control of the city of Kandahar on the night of the prison break, one Western diplomat in Kabul said.

The only reason they did not was they did not expect the government and the NATO reaction to be so weak, he said.

In fact, interviews with local officials and other people here who witnessed the bold prison break and its aftermath show that the level of government organization and security was woefully inadequate around what was clearly a high-priority target for the Taliban.

There were only 10 guards at the prison that night and about 1,400 inmates, said Col. Abdullah Bawar, the new head of the prison.

Five of the guards were killed in the attack; three of them — Colonel Bawar’s son, his nephew and the son of another warden — died at the front gate when the tanker exploded. Four others were wounded, one losing a hand and suffering 17 bullet wounds, Colonel Bawar said.

Reinforcements arrived only after the prisoners had escaped. Police officers at a checkpoint a few hundred yards west of the prison panicked and started to flee, said Mr. Aleem, a former mujahedeen commander, who came out of his house that night to see what was going on.

“I told them, ‘Don’t run, you will be safe,’ ” he said. The Taliban, as he predicted, then made their escape south through a warren of streets opposite the prison, and did not bother to pick a fight with the police.

The city police chief and his forces, meanwhile, stood at a traffic circle to the east of the prison, guarding the approaches to the town, but never advanced on the prison until the Taliban, who numbered about 40, were long gone.

“All the officials were watching with bulging eyes,” Mr. Aleem said. “If just 20 or 30 police had come round from the side they could have stopped them.”

Now he lives in constant danger. “It’s a very tough situation for people like me who helped the government,” he said. “I receive calls and they ask: ‘Are you still alive?’ ” The government also warned him the Taliban insurgents were plotting his assassination, and yet he maintained that they are not powerful. “I don’t think so; it is the government that is weak,” Mr. Aleem said. ...

We don’t know exactly if the Taliban is powerful, we have heard that,” said Gul Muhammad, 35, a shopkeeper who witnessed the assault on the prison and was even thrown off his feet by the blast. “But when we see this kind of attack, it seems they are very powerful.”

Haji Muhammad Musa Hotak, a member of Parliament from Wardak Province, near the capital, Kabul, warned that the gap between the people and the government had grown dire.

So wide is it, in fact, the situation reminds him of the end of the Communist era, when support for the government of the Soviet-backed president, Najibullah, began collapsing under the onslaught of the mujahedeen, who had waged a 13-year resistance in the name of Islam against successive Communist rulers.

The Taliban attack has also shaken local confidence in the international forces here and exposed the difficult situation of the understaffed Canadian troops in Kandahar, who have lost 90 soldiers in the last two and a half years in the province trying to contain an increasingly virulent Taliban insurgency.

An independent report by a panel led by the former Canadian foreign minister, John Manley, recommended in January that the Canadian contingent continue in Kandahar Province only if bolstered by 1,000 more troops and the necessary helicopters and surveillance drones.

On the night of the prison break, Canadian troops based in the town as part of the NATO-led international Security Assistance Force were busy dealing with a number of roadside bombs planted, apparently in a coordinated plan to divert the attention of security forces from the attack.

Two of the bombs exploded just half an hour before the prison raid, and two, laid to hit any reinforcements sent to the prison, were found and defused, said Joe McAllister, a Canadian police superintendent who leads an eight-member team to train and mentor the Afghan police in Kandahar.

Superintendent McAllister defended the slow arrival of Canadian and Afghan police officers at the prison that night, saying that rushing in and getting injured would have caused more problems. “Police safety is civilian safety,” he said.

But he acknowledged a more glaring omission, that of the security of the prison itself. “I would suggest it wasn’t as strong as it could have been,” he said.

The Correctional Service of Canada had helped train and improve security around the prison, he said, but still there was no barrier or blast walls near the entrance, nothing to stop the bomber from parking the fuel tanker right outside the gates.

The failings make people wonder what the foreign troops are really doing in Afghanistan, said Mr. Daoud, the shopkeeper. “The Canadians are here, but things are getting worse and worse.”...

Senior Special Groups leader captured at Baghdad airport - The Long War Journal

Senior Special Groups leader captured at Baghdad airport - The Long War Journal: "The"US military detained a senior Special Groups leader as he flew into Baghdad International Airport this morning. He was detained without incident after the US military received intelligence he was arriving in Baghdad via air.

The leader, who was not named, is described as being "part of the most senior social and operational circles of Special Groups" by Multinational Forces-Iraq. "The man has been known to travel in and out of Iraq to neighboring nations including Iran and Lebanon, where it is believed he meets and helps run the Iranian-backed Special Groups in Iraq," Multinational Forces-Iraq reported in a press release.

The leader is said to be behind the deadly bombing at the Sadr City District Advisory Council meeting on June 24 that killed two US soldiers, two members of the US State Department, and six Iraqis. The meeting took place after the Mahdi Army called for a cease-fire and allowed Iraqi troops to enter the northeastern Baghdad neighborhood.

The unnamed Special Groups leader is likely to have close connections to Hezbollah and Iran's Qods Force, which has established a command to fight a covert war inside Iraq. Hezbollah and Qods forces have established groups such as the Hezbollah Brigades and the Army of the Righteous to attack Coalition and Iraqi forces and to target Iraqi leaders with assassinations.

The US military claims the Mahdi Army is not part of the Special Groups, but the fighting this spring and early summer in Sadr City, Basrah, and much of southern and central Iraq was aimed at Mahdi Army strongholds. The senior most wanted Special Groups leaders are all senior Mahdi Army commanders.

The US military uses the term Special Groups as part of its strategy to divide the Mahdi Army and provide room for the moderate elements of the militia to join the political process.

The Mahdi Army took heavy casualties while opposing the Iraqi security forces in Basrah and the South and against US and Iraqi forces in Sadr City during operations to secure the areas in March, April, and May. More than 1,000 Mahdi Army fighters were killed in Sadr City alone, according to a Mahdi Army commander in Baghdad. Another 415 were killed in Basrah. More than 400 were killed during fighting in the southern cities of Najaf, Karbala, Hillah, Diwaniyah, Amarah, Samawah, and Nasiriyah in late March and early April, according to numbers compiled by The Long War Journal. Thousands more have been wounded our captured.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

M of A - Soviet 'Lessons Learned' on Road War in Afghanistan

M of A - Soviet 'Lessons Learned' on Road War in Afghanistan: "A"study on how the Soviets lost the road war in Afghanistan can help us to assess the chances of the 'western' occupation in Afghanistan.

30 is still a magic number around the Hindu Kush: This just in from Reuters:

International troops called in the air strike in which 30 Taliban fighters were killed after the militants attacked a convoy of foreign troops and Afghan forces in the Sarobi district of Paktika province near the border with Pakistan on Tuesday, the deputy provincial governor said.

If this did not happen directly within a village the bombing may have indeed, for a change, killed some combatants. But I can guarantee that the number 30 was picked from hot air.

It is interesting that the attack aimed a convoy. It was thereby part of the earlier discussed road war that will eventually suffocate the occupation.

The foreign troops in Afghanistan live off fuel that has to be brought into the country. The fuel transports increasingly need more protection and escorts. More escorts will require more fuel. Which requires more fuel convoys ... Guess how that spiral will end.

Here is an interesting U.S. military report written in 1995 about Convoy Escort in Guerrilla Country: The Soviet Experience:

The 1979-1989 Soviet-Afghan War pitted a modern, mechanized army against a strong-willed guerrilla force fighting on some of the most inhospitable terrain on earth. The war soon devolved into a fight for control of the limited lines of communication--the road network which connected the cities of Afghanistan with each other and to Pakistan and the Soviet Union. The Afghan guerrillas learned to ambush supply convoys and cut the roads. The Soviet Army, whose ultimate survival depended on its ability to resupply itself, fought to regain use of the roads. During the war, the Soviets lost 11,389 trucks, 1314 armored personnel carriers, 147 tanks, 433 artillery pieces and 1138 command vehicles/radios during their fight with the mujahideen guerrillas. Many, if not most, of these losses occurred during the road war. The Afghan government and commercial contractors lost even more trucks to ambush during the war.

The report includes much original Soviet 'lessons learned' analysis by the Frunze Military Academy in Moscow on typical attacks on convoys (a must read for Afghanistan and/or war geeks - see the end notes for the map symbols).

The U.S. author concludes:

Too often, the Soviets tried to use fire power in the place of fire and maneuver. Soviet commanders were reluctant to dismount troops to break an ambush through close combat. The primary reason for this reluctance was that Soviet line units in Afghanistan were chronically understrength as disease, guard details and an imperfect personnel replacement system kept units at less than 66% of TO&E strength. Consequently, there were often only a few or no troops, aside from the crews, riding in the BTRs and BMPs. The Soviets lacked the available infantry to assault ambushes.

Sounds familiar?

The Soviets had some at maximum 100,000 troops in Afghanistan but there were also some 300,000 more or less reliable Afghan forces available. In total they had the 400,000 soldiers the leaving NATO commander recently said were needed in Afghanistan. They still lost the war. The 'west' now has some 70,000 troops in Afghanistan and the Afghan army has about 80,000 soldiers. That's hopeless.

Two other factors make the chances for the 'west' to win even worse. Today's 'western' troops need more fuel and 'stuff' per man per day than Soviet forces needed in the 1980s. Unlike those they do not have a direct line of communication to their home countries.

This war will be lost on the roads. It will take another three years and the 'west' will commit more forces but that will only add to targets in the road war. The only way not to lose is to retreat from Afghanistan.

Stunning Advance Allows for 'Reprogramming' of Adult Cells - washingtonpost.com

Stunning Advance Allows for 'Reprogramming' of Adult Cells - washingtonpost.com: "Scientists"have transformed one type of fully developed adult cell directly into another inside a living animal, a startling advance that could lead to cures for a plethora of illnesses and sidestep the political and ethical quagmires that have plagued embryonic stem cell research.

Through a series of painstaking experiments involving mice, the Harvard biologists pinpointed three crucial molecular switches that, when flipped, completely convert a common cell in the pancreas into the more precious insulin-producing ones that diabetics need to survive.

The feat, published online today by the journal Nature, raises the tantalizing prospect that patients suffering from not only diabetes but also heart disease, strokes and many other ailments could eventually have some of their cells reprogrammed to cure their afflictions without the need for drugs, transplants or other therapies.

"It's kind of an extreme makeover of a cell," said Douglas A. Melton, co-director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, who led the research. "The goal is to create cells that are missing or defective in people. It's very exciting...

Brit firm to demo serious flying robo-saucer in 2009 | The Register

Brit firm to demo serious flying robo-saucer in 2009 | The Register: "A A"small British company developing a unique form of hovering aircraft says it will soon demonstrate a new and much more serious version of its technology.

GFS Projects of Peterborough was registered in 2002, following early efforts by former hovercraft engineer Geoff Hatton to develop a working "flying saucer" aircraft based on the Coanda effect. (GFS stands for Geoff's Flying Saucers.) The Reg spoke to GFS marketing chief Mark Broughton this morning, who gave us a run-through on the "Fenstar 50" autonomous unmanned saucer which the company hopes to have flying in the first half of next year.

Firstly, the Fenstar 50 will be the first GFS saucer to use an internal combustion engine. Previous craft have been electrically powered, and have suffered from very short endurance. The current electric saucer, which formed part of Team MIRA at the recent MoD "Grand Challenge" ambush-sniffing tech contest, can normally stay up for just two and a half minutes. The new Fenstar 50 is expected to manage up to an hour, carrying a payload of 5kg - a quarter of its all-up weight. GFS aims to keep the total weight under 20kg, as this is the most that the CAA allows under model aircraft rules. Any more would take the company into the hugely more onerous certification regime for full-sized aircraft.

Even at 20kg, however, the Fenstar 50 will be significantly bigger and more capable than one of its main rivals, the Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) from Honeywell. The MAV uses a ducted fan rather than a GFS-style Coanda surface, but this offers similar advantages - neither vehicle has projecting helicopter-style rotors. Both of them can thus fly about happily in between buildings, and perhaps in and out of doors and windows etc. Both could be very useful as reconnaissance machines for soldiers, especially in dangerous urban combat - indeed Honeywell's machine has already seen action in Iraq. The MAV runs on a two-stroke petrol engine like the Fenstar, and offers similar endurance, though it weighs just 7.25 kg and can barely lift a pair of cameras....

Determined to Give Speech, Kennedy Left Hospital Bed - NYTimes.com

Determined to Give Speech, Kennedy Left Hospital Bed - NYTimes.com: "Senator"Edward M. Kennedy had just left a hospital bed here when he delivered his speech to the Democratic National Convention on Monday night, after suffering a debilitating bout of kidney stones Sunday upon arriving in town, aides said.

Mr. Kennedy’s aides described a harrowing 48-hour period in which it appeared that Mr. Kennedy would not be able to give the convention speech. In June, he had told family members when he left the Duke University Medical Center, where he was operated on for brain cancer, that he was intent on giving the speech.

And with less than two hours to go before he was to take the stage, Mr. Kennedy — sitting unnoticed in a room at the University of Colorado Hospital — told his wife, Victoria, and doctors that he wanted to go to the Pepsi Center and deliver the speech.

He was driven there, accompanied by a doctor and paramedics, perched on a golf cart that took him inside. Mr. Kennedy, with his wife and his niece Caroline at his side, walked gingerly onto the stage, where he delivered a highly acclaimed address. He then returned to the hospital, where he spent the night. ...

Sic Semper Tyrannis 2008: Maliki wants us gone by 2011?

Sic Semper Tyrannis 2008: Maliki wants us gone by 2011?: "al"-Maliki's remarks Monday suggested that the Iraqi government is still not satisfied with that arrangement. An aide to the prime minister said Monday that Iraq remained adamant that the last American soldier must leave Iraq by the end of 2011 — regardless of conditions at the time." Yahoo News

----------------------------------------------------------------------

"The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley." Bobby Burns

So true. How the hell are Bush/Cheney/McCain going to deal with that? Whatever it is that they thought would happen in Iraq surely did not include resistance from the "sovereign" government of Iraq on the issue of a departure of US forces from Iraq on an American schedule, not an Iraqi one.

Maliki needs to get the US out of Iraq. We are a potential threat to Shia Arab supremacy. We have learned the hard way that the neocon vision of a Middle East ruled by former underdogs who would be good dogs does not work.

We have learned that a government that can govern in Iraq will have to share power and wealth with all communities.

That makes us dangerous to long term Shia Arab rule in Iraq. Soooo - they want us out!

I had thought that enough venal and self-serving Iraqis would be found to make the two agreements under discussion a "done deal", at least temporarily.

Wrong again! pl

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080825/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_us_pact

S&P: Home prices drop by record amount in 2Q: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance

S&P: Home prices drop by record amount in 2Q: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance: "The"Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index tumbled a record 15.4 percent during the quarter from the same period a year ago.

The monthly indices also clocked in record declines. The 20-city index fell by 15.9 percent in June compared with a year ago, the largest drop since its inception in 2000. The 10-city index plunged 17 percent, its biggest decline in its 21-year history....

[bth: I do not understand why the Democrats aren't running ads asking Americans, "Are you better off today than you were 8 years ago?"]

Russia threatens military response to US missiles

My Way News - Russia threatens military response to US missiles: "MOSCOW"(AP) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is warning his country may respond to a U.S. missile shield in Europe through military means.

Medvedev says that the deployment of an anti-missile system close to Russian borders "will of course create additional tensions."

"We will have to react somehow, to react, of course, in a military way," Medvedev was quoted as saying Tuesday by the RIA-Novosti news agency.

Russian officials have already warned of a military response to the U.S. plans, but the statement by the Russian leader was likely to further aggravate already tense relations with the West. The comments come after Medvedev recognized two Georgian regions as independent nations, prompting criticism from the U.S. and Europe.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Moment of Terror: Iraqi Police Disarm Teen Before She Detonates Vest Bomb - International News | News of the World | Middle East News | Europe News

FOXNews.com - Moment of Terror: Iraqi Police Disarm Teen Before She Detonates Vest Bomb - International News | News of the World | Middle East News | Europe News: "Iraqi"police released dramatic photos Monday afternoon of a teenage girl who apparently was ready to blow herself up in front of a school in Baquoba.

The girl, who appeared to be about 15 and said her name was Rania, was crying and appeared drugged when police approached her, not knowing what was under her colorful robes.

She told police that she was wearing a vest — packed with 33 pounds of explosives — and that two women — perhaps relatives — told her to wait outside the school. She said her husband of five months had personally fitted her for the vest.

Iraqi police said the girl's father also was a homicide bomber, and that her mother and a sister were later arrested.

U.S. sources, however, told the Daily Mail that the girl turned herself in after being hooked up to the explosives against her will.

Police video shows Rania with her arms behind her back, the result of police trying to restrain her.

A policeman is shown opening her robe, and later, her wearing what appears to be a vest later found to be stuffed with plastic explosives

Police told the Daily Mail that the girl took them back to the apartment where she was given the vest, and found another bomb device.

Rania told police conflicting stories, first swearing she did not know who gave her the vest, then confessing to knowing the women.

When pressed to say whether she knew the woman who put the vest on her, she replied: 'Yes.'

A policeman standing next to her could be heard saying that when she was picked up, she was unable to talk and appeared to have been given drugs.

t r u t h o u t | Florence Aubenas Interviewed by Emilie Jardin | "We Fell Into a Trap."

t r u t h o u t | Florence Aubenas Interviewed by Emilie Jardin | "We Fell Into a Trap.": "According"to eyewitness accounts that "The Nouvel Observateur's" special envoy Florence Aubenas collected, French soldiers could have been betrayed by the Afghans with whom they were working.

Can it be said that the soldiers killed and wounded in the ambush were poorly prepared?

We're talking about elite troops of the French Army. The Eighth RPIMa [Règiment de Parachutistes d'Infanterie de Marine - Parachute Regiment] is one of the most prestigious regiments. There is nothing that suggests they were poorly prepared. What you must be aware of is that we don't have a war army. It's paradoxical, but war is no longer one of the army's major missions. Since the army was professionalized, France has not experienced war. What is certain is that if the Eighth RPIMa is not well-prepared, no one is.

In France, we've created a whole imaginary world around the idea of 20-year-old soldiers, "Being 20 in the Aurës ..." Unlike that period of the Algerian war, when soldiers were sent against their will into armed conflicts, we have a professional army today.

Could a command mistake have been one of the causes of this tragic outcome? What do you think of the hypothesis that some of the 10 French soldiers killed and 20 wounded could have been victims of NATO airstrikes?

I don't know whether there was a command error. In Afghanistan, the French were in favor of having a patrol army, close to the people, to civilians. The French Army kept to that idea. The soldiers fell into an ambush because they were on foot. Up until now, the French Army has described this strategy as its strength, but today the insurgents have taken advantage of that modus operandi.

I don't think the soldiers were victims of NATO fire, but there will have to be an investigation to determine that with certainty. I was in Kabul; I spoke to many soldiers from several regiments and that's not what they told me. I have no information that supports that hypothesis, but that doesn't mean it's incorrect. The problem the soldiers had with air support was that it couldn't operate: the soldiers were too close to the insurgents.

So then how do you explain the ambush?

Many French soldiers told me the ambush had been prepared and that they were betrayed by the Afghans with whom they were working. The villages also seem to have supplied intelligence about their doings and their movements. The soldiers thought they were in a secure environment and that was not, in fact, the case. They are all very bitter with regard to this issue. "We were betrayed. We fell into a trap," they told me
.

-------

Translation: Truthout French Language Editor Leslie Thatcher.
One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield

Kennedy return triumphant - The Denver Post

Kennedy return triumphant - The Denver Post: "Most"people have to fight a whole Civil War before getting a Ken Burns documentary. Not Teddy Kennedy, who staged a triumphant appearance before the Democratic National Convention on Monday night complete with a Burns-crafted tribute casting him as the modern Ulysses bringing his party home to port.

Weakened by cancer, the Massachusetts senator first let the pictures do his talking but then rocked the Denver hall with an appeal for health care reform and party unity that brought him full circle from his famous "the dream shall never die" speech in New York 28 years ago.

"There is a new wave of change all around us, and if we set our compass true, we will reach our destination, not merely victory for our party but renewal for our nation," Kennedy said. "This November, the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans. . . . With Barack Obama, and for you and for me, the country will be committed to his cause.

"The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on
."

Time and again, the Kennedy video and speech hammered home the theme of health care reform as a central tenet of the Obama campaign — much as it was for the defeated Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"For me this is a season of hope, new hope for a justice and fair prosperity for the many, and not just for the few — new hope. And this is the cause of my life: new hope that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American — north, south, east, west, young, old — will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege."

Kennedy's words echoed his 1980 speech in New York, when he had lost the presidential nomination to Jimmy Carter but still brought the delegates to their feet when he invoked the memories of his slain brothers with Tennyson's "Ulysses": "To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield."

Monday night in Denver, it was Burns' turn to set the stage, and with pictures of Kennedy aboard his sailboat Maya, the video cast the senator as a modern mariner, relishing the sea and implicitly passing the helm to Obama, who appeared himself in the final footage.
Kennedy flew to Denver on Sunday night with a prepared speech in hand. But it wasn't until the lights went back on after the film that the delegates saw the senator himself.

"Nothing, nothing is going to keep me away from this special gathering," Kennedy laughed, his voice firm but face still puffy from treatments for brain cancer. Defying past predictions, he promised: "I will be there next January on the floor of the United States Senate" when he hopes to welcome Obama as president.

Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, the senator's niece and daughter of President John Kennedy, introduced the eight-minute documentary, which Burns directed with fellow filmmaker Mark Herzog. Included were interviews with Massachusetts constituents as well as the senator's wife, Vicki; Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.; and Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., a hero of the civil rights movement central to the Kennedy legacy.

Most moving perhaps was the interview with Brian Hart, a Massachusetts father who lost his son in Iraq and later joined with Kennedy to try to improve the availability of body armor for troops in the war.

Hart spoke of the Kennedy family's own loss, when the senator's eldest brother, Joseph, was killed in World War II. "Sen. Kennedy was a living Gold Star family before I was born," Hart recalled. "He remembers where his mother was, where his father was when they came to tell them that Joseph was killed. We share a wound that doesn't heal. . . . Sen. Kennedy taught me that government can function for the common man."

But the central image sprang from Ulysses, and like Homer's Greek hero, Kennedy seems to grow stronger with age.

"There is an extraordinary feeling of good will toward Ted Kennedy," said Thomas Mann, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and longtime observer of Congress. "It is just astounding to me to see this build and build over time and the fact that someone can be both the liberal icon and the greatest legislator the party has produced in all of our lifetime."

"It is just extraordinary. And his embrace of Obama, even though it didn't immediately affect the course of the campaign, is a way of saying he's one of us, and we're together."

Amid the poetry, Monday night's political stagecraft also showed another side of Kennedy — less Tennyson and more the showman tub-thumper.

This is the same man who led the "Where was George?" chant in the 1988 convention in Atlanta and who said in 2000 in Los Angeles: "That's called progress — not partisanship — and that is Al Gore's way."

This all rings true for the grandson of the colorful Boston politician "Honey Fitz," and as a child, Kennedy can recall learning politics listening in while his father plotted strategy with New Bedford publisher, Basil Brewer. A Taft Republican, Brewer was furious with then-Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge for helping to deliver the Republican convention to Dwight Eisenhower. The New Bedford returns proved crucial to John F. Kennedy toppling Lodge in 1952 and setting himself on the path to the White House.

That conversation also, as Kennedy tells it, was on a boat.

[bth: David Rogers wrote this extraordinary editorial. He got it. He figured it out.]

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Kennedy tribute - 2008 Presidential Campaign Blog - Political Intelligence - Boston.com

The Kennedy tribute - 2008 Presidential Campaign Blog - Political Intelligence - Boston.com

Army making amends with casualties' kin | www.azstarnet.com ®

Army making amends with casualties' kin | www.azstarnet.com ®: "WASHINGTON"— The U.S. Army is mailing out thousands of letters to survivors of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking what it can do to better help them, even years after the deaths of their loved ones.

The Army recognizes it has made mistakes in some of its dealings with the families of fallen soldiers, Col. Carl M. Johnson, director of the Army's Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Operations Center, said in an interview. And the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, encourages families to be candid in their comments and suggestions.

About 13,500 letters have been sent this month, and copies are expected to reach about 20,000 survivors of those killed while on active duty with the Army since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — either in a war zone, in the U.S. or elsewhere.

Some families may have been offended by past actions, Johnson said, and the Army wants them to know the service has learned from its mistakes, has made changes and wants to make additional improvements.

"Some of them may have said, 'You know what, I don't need to be a part of the Army anymore because they don't want me or they don't know how to treat me,' " Johnson said. "Well, we've learned a lot, and I think we've improved a lot, and this is a way to reconnect with them."

The Army has made a significant shift and is now committed to providing services to survivors not just in the immediate period after soldiers' deaths but for as long as the families want the help, he said.

The letter came as a surprise to Judy Faunce, whose son, Capt. Brian Faunce, 28, was electrocuted in 2003 in Iraq while he was in a Bradley fighting vehicle. Faunce, whose son was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Bensalem, Pa., said it had been years since she'd heard from the Army.

Though she said she had had a very positive experience working with the Army personnel assigned to help after her son's death, she said she still had not received answers to some questions submitted related to the death.

Also, she said she thinks there was a factual error in the initial report from the Defense Department related to the circumstances of her son's death, and she'd like to know about how to get it corrected.

"I think it's wonderful that they're going to reach out and offer assistance to families that may need it ... but I really never expected anything from the Army, so getting this letter was a surprise," said Faunce, who lives in Ocean, N.J.

The letter informs families that meetings will take place with survivors over the next several weeks at military installations and that they will be receiving additional information about how to attend.

Following complaints from families, the military has made several changes in how it works with them after a soldier's death.

For example, more assistance is provided not just to soldiers' spouses, if they are married, but to soldiers' parents as well.

[bth: Imagine my surprise after all these years that the army would do this but I certainly applaud it. Is it finally an indication of good leadership, or at least some leadership with courage showing up in casualty affairs? Well, whatever. My hat is off to the colonel even if it may precede a congressional hearings on the matter. ... It is never too late to do the right thing. And in fact yesterday I received a voice mail message on my cell phone from a man that could barely speak english but said he was from army casualty affairs wanting to talk. I thought it was a hoax. Evidently though it isn't. So now we'll find out if its for real or a pr stunt. I'm going to return the call.]

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Al-Qaeda Masters Terrorism On the Cheap

Al-Qaeda Masters Terrorism On the Cheap: "LONDON"-- Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, al-Qaeda has increasingly turned to local cells that run extremely low-cost operations and generate cash through criminal scams, bypassing the global financial dragnet set up by the United States and Europe.

Although al-Qaeda spent an estimated $500,000 to plan and execute the Sept. 11 attacks, many of the group's bombings and assaults since then in Europe, North Africa and Southeast Asia have cost one-tenth as much, or less.

The cheap plots are evidence that the U.S. government and its allies fundamentally miscalculated in assuming they could defeat the network by hunting for wealthy financiers and freezing bank accounts, according to many U.S. and European counterterrorism officials.

In an ongoing trial here of eight men accused of planning to blow up airliners bound for the United States two years ago, jurors have been told how the accused shopped at drugstores for ingredients to build bombs that would have cost $15 apiece to assemble.

Similarly, the cell responsible for the July 7, 2005, transit bombings in London needed only about $15,000 to finance the entire conspiracy, including the cost of airfare to Pakistanto consult with al-Qaeda supervisors, according to official British government probes.

Investigations into several plots in Europe have shown that operatives were often flush with cash, raising far more than necessary through common criminal rackets such as drug dealing and credit card theft.

Testimony in the trial of the accused airliner plotters has shown that the defendants had enough money to buy a northeast London apartment for $260,000 shortly before their arrest, allegedly so they would have a safe place to mix liquid explosives for their bombs.

One of the July 2005 suicide bombers, a 22-year-old part-time worker at a fish-and-chips shop, left an estate worth $240,000 after he blew up a subway train. Neither his family nor authorities have explained where he got the money.

In Spain, the cell responsible for the March 2004 train bombings in Madrid needed $80,000 to finance the plot, according to Spanish court documents. But they had access to more than $2.3 million worth of hashish and other illegal drugs that they could have sold to raise more money, the documents showed.

Even the 9/11 hijackers wired back about $26,000 in surplus funds to accounts in the Persian Gulf area a few days before the attacks.

Authorities said it is often impossible to monitor fundraising by such cells because they generally keep so little in the bank. Instead of receiving wire transfers or making large deposits that would trigger automatic alerts, they move cash in person and are discreet about how they spend it.

"The groups operating in Europe don't need a lot of money. The cost of operations is very low," said Jean-Louis Bruguière, a former senior anti-terrorism judge in France who now works as an adviser to the European Union on terrorism financing. "But they are very skilled at obtaining money and using criminal systems to do it. They can collect thousands and thousands of dollars or euros in a few weeks. It is beyond our control."

Law enforcement officials in London said al-Qaeda cells are trained to plot and live on the cheap. Operatives lead ascetic lives, often keeping their day jobs or depending on their families to cover expenses. Above all, they are taught to build bombs that are lethal but crude and inexpensive. Almost every terrorist plot in Europe in recent years has followed a simple formula: homemade explosives stuffed into backpacks, shoes, suitcases or car trunks.

Thirteen days after the Sept. 11 hijackings, President Bush launched what the White Houselater described as the "first strike in the war on terrorism." He signed an executive order freezing the assets of 27 individuals and groups suspected of terrorism and forbidding anyone from doing business with them.

"Money is the lifeblood of terrorist operations," Bush said in the Rose Garden. "Today we're asking the world to stop payment."

A month later, Congress and Bush went further by adopting the USA Patriot Act, which required banks to report transactions larger than $10,000 to the Treasury and to check if any of their customers were on a database of suspected terrorists.

By December 2001, the government had frozen $33 million in assets and expanded its terrorism-financing blacklist to 153 names. In a report assessing its progress in the fight against al-Qaeda, the White House declared, "The United States and its allies have been winning the war on the financial front."

The measures, however, have failed to dry up the supply of money available to al-Qaeda and have had no discernible effect in preventing the network from carrying out attacks, according to several counterterrorism officials and experts in the United States and Europe.

Before Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaeda and its affiliates rarely used the banking system in a manner that might arouse suspicion, officials and experts said. In response to the new anti-terrorism financing laws, the network has became even more cautious, relying on couriers to carry money across borders when necessary, authorities said.

Ibrahim Warde, an adjunct professor at Tufts University and an expert on financial systems in Islamic countries, said the Bush administration and its allies falsely assumed that al-Qaeda had stashed large sums in secret bank accounts.

"It got the entire financial bureaucracy started on a wild-goose chase," Warde said. "There's a complete disconnect between this approach and the underlying reality of how terrorism is funded."

Dennis M. Lormel, a former head of the FBI's Terrorist Financing Operations section, said the laws passed since 2001 have closed some gaps and addressed vulnerabilities that made it easy for al-Qaeda to raise and transfer money.

But he said the network has responded quickly. Its cells in Europe and elsewhere now raise money on their own instead of relying on financial transfers from external sources that could be tracked by law enforcement officials.

"Clearly, when you're dealing with groups that are self-funded, you're dealing with a different set of circumstances from when they put these laws in place," said Lormel, now a senior vice president at Corporate Risk International, a Reston-based firm.

"The bad guys, after a while, they realize what we're doing, so they're going to alter how they do business," he added. "Obviously, you're not going to stop them from getting money, and they're going to be able to adapt."

Al-Qaeda's self-financing cells in Europe have become increasingly creative in their fundraising methods, officials said.

After the July 2005 London transit bombings, police knocked on the door of a sheep farmer in Scotland to inquire about a livestock deal gone sour. The farmer, Blair Duffton, confirmed that he had lost more than $200,000 when he sent several truckloads of sheep to a slaughterhouse in Leeds, England, but never received payment.

The slaughterhouse specialized in halal meat, or food prepared according to Islamic law. Detectives informed Duffton that the person who had stiffed him for the sheep was an associate of Shehzad Tanweer, one of three bombers who had lived in Leeds.

"I almost went bankrupt," Duffton recalled in a telephone interview. "I couldn't believe it when they told me that this might have been connected to terrorism."

British authorities have not commented publicly on the sheep scam or said if any of the proceeds were used to finance the attacks. Three men accused of providing support to the suicide bombers are currently on trial in London.

In Germany, three Arab men were convicted in December on charges of attempting to raise $6.3 million for al-Qaeda by faking a death to collect on nine life insurance policies. In Switzerland and Spain in 2006, authorities broke up a cell that had stolen $2 million worth of computers, cars and home furnishings. Police said the group sold the goods on the black market and had couriers carry the cash, in $2,000 increments, to an al-Qaeda-affiliated network in Algeria.

In Britain, an al-Qaeda operative, Omar Khyam, was caught on a surveillance tape urging some of the July 2005 London suicide bombers to defraud banks and hardware stores by defaulting on loans of less than $25,000.

Khyam said the goal was not just to raise money for operations but to "rip the country apart economically, as well," according to court testimony in April at the trial of the three men accused of providing support to the bombers.

Acting on Khyam's advice, one of the bombers obtained and then defaulted on a $20,000 loan from HSBC Bank. Another secured a $14,000 line of credit from a building supply company.

Given the small scale of such transactions, banks or police would have had little reason to suspect the involvement of terrorists, officials said.

"That's the cleverness of these schemes -- to keep it under the radar," said Stephen Swain, former head of Scotland Yard's international counterterrorism unit. "By doing this, they can raise significant amounts of money, fairly quickly, and there's no real way to detect it."

A few weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, Gordon Brown, then Britain's chancellor of the exchequer, or finance minister, announced a major effort to "crack the code" of terrorist financing. He said Britain would press the entire European Union to hunt for al-Qaeda by combing through the international banking system.

"If fanaticism is the heart of modern terrorism, then finance is its lifeblood," said Brown, who is now Britain's prime minister.

In response to the July 2005 London transit bombings, Brown said the government would freeze the suspects' bank accounts and place additional controls on international financial transfers, even though there was no evidence the cell had received any money from outside sources. "There will be no hiding place for those who finance terrorism," he promised.

Two months after authorities broke up what they said was the plot to bomb transatlantic airliners in August 2006, Brown reiterated that the key to fighting terrorism was to disrupt al-Qaeda's bank accounts. He said Britain would use classified intelligence to freeze assets of people suspected of having links to terrorist groups and would exercise greater control over Islamic charities.

"We will take any necessary steps and find all necessary resources to ensure whether in Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere else there is no safe haven for terrorists and no hiding place for terrorist finance," Brown said, echoing his 2005 comments.

Britain has frozen assets belonging to 359 individuals and 126 organizations suspected of assisting al-Qaeda, according to a Treasury report released last year. All told, about $2 million has been seized, the Treasury reported.

But the government's efforts have had little practical effect, several current and former British counterterrorism officials said. For instance, Britain froze the accounts of 19 suspects in the 2006 transatlantic airliner plot -- but only after they were arrested. Officials said most of the accounts contained negligible amounts.

[bth: while this references petty crime, one should not forget the trade in heroin which has been growing annually and one should remember that when the Taliban was applauded for cutting the heroin trade before 9-11, they did it by seizing the heroin, then after 9-11 into 2002 they dumped the inventory. .... And don't even get me going on how an oil futures speculator could make millions with the help of a suicide bomber or two.]

Kennedy plans to address DNC - 2008 Presidential Campaign Blog - Political Intelligence - Boston.com

Kennedy plans to address DNC - 2008 Presidential Campaign Blog - Political Intelligence - Boston.com: "In"a development that is sure to bring the house down, US Senator Edward M. Kennedy is expected to attend the Democratic National Convention, most likely to deliver a speech tomorrow night.

Kennedy is battling brain cancer, and his doctors are said to be worried that his treatment has compromised his immune system and that attending the convention could put him at further risk. Still, the senator has recently told people that he has a speech written for the convention and that he badly wants to come, pending a final medical consultation.

Buzz has built among Massachusetts politicos that Kennedy would come, and today a source close to the family confirmed that he had made a decision to come.

``He is definitely planning to be here,'' said the Kennedy family confidant. ``The whole Kennedy family will be in a special section. It should be quite moment.''

Kennedy's family is also convening in Denver, including sister Jean Kennedy Smith, sister-in-law Ethel, nephews Joe and Stephen Smith, and nieces Kathleen Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy, who will also address the convention.

A Kennedy speech is usually a convention highlight, and Kennedy revels in an address that elicits a regular response from the crowd.

This year's speech should be especially poignant, as it is likely the last time Kennedy will address the Democrats national convention.

The senator was very active in the primary campaign, endorsing Barack Obama and hitting the campaign trail for him.

Kennedy may visit convention - BostonHerald.com

Kennedy may visit convention - BostonHerald.com: "WASHINGTON"- Sen. Edward Kennedy could make an unscheduled appearance at this week’s Democratic convention if his physicians give him the go-ahead, his son says.

"If anything, it’d be an 11th-hour call," Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., said in a telephone interview Sunday with The Associated Press. "If he’s up to it in the 11th hour and can get the green light from doctors, he might be able to pull it off."

Sen. Kennedy, diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor after he had a seizure in May, will be honored Monday night at the convention in a video tribute. He has had surgery and a six-week course of chemotherapy and radiation.

A surprise appearance by Kennedy, one of the party’s most popular and prominent figures, could provide an emotional moment for Democrats gathered in Denver. The Massachusetts senator is one of nominee-in-waiting Barack Obama’s strongest supporters.

Rep. Kennedy visited his father over the weekend in Hyannis Port, Mass. and was traveling to Denver on Sunday.

The senator has mostly kept a low profile this summer, though he made a surprise visit to the Senate in July to cast a key Medicare vote.

"He was able to make the Medicare vote, and that was the vote that turned the bill around," Rep. Kennedy said.

"The convention would be a nice thing for him to show up at," his son said. "It’s certainly one he’d like to do, if he could. But the Medicare vote was a must-do. This is not a have-to."

He said the treatments have gone well.

"We need him back in the Senate in September," he said. "He’s doing well."

Whether or note the senator makes it to Denver this week, the congressman expects his father to be closely following the convention proceedings.

"Like a lot of folks, he’ll be glued to the TV," said Kennedy. "Maybe he’ll Tivo some of it, like people have been doing with the Olympics."

The senator’s niece, Caroline Kennedy, will introduce the video tribute on the convention’s opening night. The senator taped a segment for the video, directed by documentary filmmakers Ken Burns and Mark Herzog, earlier this summer at his Cape Cod home.

Along with Kennedy family members, the video features interviews with other people in Kennedy’s life. Among them are Brian Hart of Bedford, Mass., who lost his son in Iraq in an attack on an unarmored military vehicle. Kennedy worked with the Hart family to provide soldiers with better armored vehicles and body armor.