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Monday, December 5, 2011

A difference of opinion

Barak vs US: We can't wait until Iran declares it has a nuclear bomb

Major US-Israel differences surfaced suddenly Thursday, Dec. 1, over the timing and circumstances of an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, when Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint US Chiefs of Staff, said: "I don't know whether Israel would alert the United States ahead of time if it decided to take military action against Iran." Three hours later, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak maintained US policy would enable Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon without the possibility of attacking it.

In an interview, General Dempsey went on to admit a range of differences between the US and Israel on two key issues: The first related to their expectations from the sanctions and the diplomatic moves being taken by the Obama administration, “with the stated intent not to take any options off the table” – language that leaves open the possibility of future military action.

“I am not sure that the Israelis share our outlook” on this matter, said the American general.

The second issue on which the Americans and Israelis are divided is their perspective on the future course of events relating to the Iranian nuclear program and the Middle East: “And … because to them this (a nuclear-armed Iran) is an existential threat I think probably that it’s fair to say that our expectations are different right now,” said Gen. Dempsey.

In an early morning radio interview, Ehud Barak laid Israel's cards on the table with unusual frankness: He said he would be happy if diplomatic moves and sanctions were to stop Iran’s nuclear program and make it possible to give up the military option, but he does not believe that is the case.

“They (the Americans) tell us - What’s the hurry with an attack on Iran? Wait until (Ayatollah) Khamenei announces that Iran is abandoning the NPT (nuclear non-proliferation treaty). The Iranians will break the locks (IAEA inspection seals at Iranian uranium enrichment plants) and then it will be clear to all that they have a nuclear weapon.”

Barak added: “The difference between us and the Americans is this: We say that because the Iranians are busy moving their nuclear program to underground facilities, they can announce this (that they have a nuclear weapon) after it is no longer possible to attack it." He went on to warn that If Israel is pushed into a corner, “it will have to act.”

In other words, Israel is not willing to wait, as the Obama administration proposes, until diplomatic moves and sanctions against Iran have achieved their aim, mostly because Israel is not ready to let Iran complete the transfer of its nuclear facilities to underground facilities and so make them safe from attack.

According to DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources, Israel gives Iran no more than six to eight months to complete this transfer, i.e., by June to August, 2012.

Another point made by the Israeli defense minister was that some of Iran's nuclear facilities have already been hidden underground and are therefore impossible to monitor, even by military satellites. He was referring especially, our sources say, to the Fordo bunker site near Qom where, according to intelligence data, Iran is about to start enriching 20-percent grade uranium to 60 percent. This would bring the program to a few weeks away from weapons grade uranium for a bomb or a warhead.

On Tuesday, Nov. 29, former IDF military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin estimated that Iran had already accumulated sufficient enriched uranium to build 4 to 5 nuclear bombs.

In his interview Thursday, Defense Minister Barak also answered former Mossad chief Meir Dagan's persistent arguments against an Israeli military strike against Iran on the grounds that it would immediately trigger a regional war: Syria, Hizballah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad would launch attacks on Israel, seriously battering the country and inflicting heavy casualties, in Dagan's view.

Israel, Barak replied, is nowhere near being paralyzed by messages of doom. The degree of damage and number of civilian casualties would not, in his view, be alarmingly high. He repeated his estimate of early November that the casualty figure from a combined Arab missile assault resulting from an attack on Iran would be “a lot less than 500” – especially if people took cover.
The defense minister concluded this comment by saying: I have no idea what may happen tomorrow morning in Syria, or in Egypt.” DEBKAfile’s military sources interpret this as meaning that the danger of a new Middle East regional war is already present - unrelated to a possible Israeli attack on Iran, but rather as a result of the volatility set up by the uprising in Syria and the predicted rise to power in Egypt of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi Islamists.


Syria: fall of Bashar al-Assad 'will bring war to Middle East, warns Iraq

Nouri al-Maliki gave his most unequivocal support yet to the Assad regime, and even hinted that its downfall could force Iraq into an Iranian-led alliance against the Arab world's Sunni states.

"The killing or removal of President Bashar in any way will explode into an internal struggle between two groups and this will have an impact on the region," said Mr Maliki, refering to predictions of region wide conflict between Sunni Muslims and the Shia sect. "It will end with civil war and this civil war will lead to alliances in the region. Because we are a country that suffered from the civil war of a sectarian background, we fear for the future of Syria and the whole region."

Although relations with Mr Assad, once a strong supporter of Saddam despite being a member of the Alawite Shia sect, were initially strained, his regime has collaborated with Baghdad to curb militant groups linked to al-Qaeda operating along the Iraqi-Syrian border.

Many in Mr Maliki's coalition fear that if Syria's Sunni majority were to come to power, it could revitalise Sunni militants in Iraq's Anbar province who fought a long and bloody insurgency in the aftermath of the US invasion and who may harbour secessionist intentions.

Mr Maliki has refused to align Iraq with a growing Arab consensus to ostracise the Syrian regime for its repression of the uprising against Mr Assad.

Iraq was also one of only three states in the 22-member League that declined to support Syria's suspension from the bloc. More than 4,000 civilians have died in Syria since the uprising began in March, according to the UN.

The vestiges of support from its neighbours grants Damascus valuable relief from the enclosing grip of world opinion. Syria yesterday ignored the Arab League's latest deadline to accept a regional observer mission to monitor its commitment to ending state-sponsored violence in the country, where 30 people were killed in the latest bloodshed.

The continued defiance has led to the Arab League announcing sanctions against Syria in the form of an asset freeze and travel bans on 19 leading individuals within the regime.

Flights between Damascus and Arab states are also to be reduced.

But it is Mr Maliki's intimation that Mr Assad's overthrow could cause a rift between Sunni and Shia states that will cause the deepest alarm in Washington.

Since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's Sunni Arab government, power in Iraq has, under US tutelage, passed to the country's Shia majority.

Hardline Shia factions in Iraq have condemned the Arab League for moving against Mr Assad as part of a Saudi-led plot to weaken Iran, which counts Damascus as its closest regional ally.

The influential cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, are openly by Iran. In an effort to demonstrate his loyalty to Iran, Moqtada recently described Mr Assad as a "brother".

Others claimed there was an intention to supplant Tehran's influence over Damascus with Saudi-inspired Wahabbism, one of the most puritanical strains of Sunni Islam."If Saudi Arabia becomes influential in Syria, the Wahabbis will join forces with the people in Western Iraq," a senior Shia politician in Iraq told local newspapers.

Iraq's relationship with Iran is, however, complex and its own divisions will be at the forefront of Baghdad's concerns over Syria's deepening divisions.

Aware that many of his people still view Iran with distrust, and have little desire to become a satellite of Tehran, Mr Maliki has insisted that he is trying to steer a neutral course between the growing rivalry for Middle East hegemony between the Saudi and Iranian governments.

"Iraq is not a follower of any country," he said. "Clearly, we are no enemy to Iran and we do not accept that some who have problems with Iran would use us as a battlefield. Some want to fight Iran with Iraqi resources as has happened in the past. We do not allow Iran to use us against others that Iran has problems with, and we do not allow others to use us against Iran."

The Telegraph

Iran wants a bigger game

Jim Rogers on CNBC

China 'ill-prepared' for unrest, says security chief

China's security chief has warned that the government needs better methods to deal with social unrest due to a slowing economy.

Zhou Yongkang, a member of the politburo, asked provincial officials for improved "social management".

China has seen an increase in labour unrest in recent weeks.

The comments are a sign that the Chinese government is worried that another slowdown could spark public anger.

"It is an urgent task for us to think how to establish a social management system with Chinese characteristics to suit our socialist market economy," Mr Zhou said in comments published Saturday.

"Especially when facing negative effects of the market economy."

He called for innovative approaches to a large set of policies which could include anything from increased policing to better internet control or better unemployment insurance.

There have been multiple signs of a slowdown in recent months in China.

The economy grew by 9.1% between June and September compared to a year earlier, the slowest rate of expansion in two years.

Last week, manufacturing was showed to have contracted sharply and the government cut the amount of money banks must keep in reserve to spur more lending, reversing recent policy.

There has also been a spike in labour unrest in recent weeks.

Employees of a Singaporean electronics firm Hi-P International in Shanghai went on strike last week over mass job losses.

Thousands of workers in Shenzhen and Dongguan, two of China's top export centres in the south of the country, went on strike last month protesting cuts in overtime


sea of red ink

The United States is drowning in a sea of red ink from coast to coast and most Americans have absolutely no idea what is about to happen. Hopefully you have started to prepare for the coming U.S. financial crisis. If not, hopefully this article will be a wake up call for you. Right now, governments all over Europe are on the verge of financial implosion. Most Americans aren't paying much attention to that, but they should be, because what is happening to Greece and Italy right now will eventually be happening here. Just recently, the U.S. national debt passed the 15 trillion dollar mark. State and local government debt is also at record levels. Tens of millions of American families are in debt up to their eyeballs, and millions more Americans fell into poverty last year. Meanwhile, the "too big to fail" banks just keep getting larger and the Federal Reserve continues to inflate the debt bubble. At some point this debt bubble is going to burst, and when it does it is going to unleash financial hell all over America.

Below you will find a list of numbers - 1 through 30. For each number, a statistic has been chosen that demonstrates the financial nightmare that the United States is facing. It is simply not possible to rack up debt at staggering rates forever. At some point the debt spiral is going to stop.

A lot of politicians are claiming that they can stop the coming financial crisis from happening. But the truth is that unless our entire financial system is fundamentally transformed, nothing is going to be able to stop the financial nightmare that is headed our way.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of our politicians still believe that the current financial system can be fixed and the vast majority of them still fully support the Federal Reserve.

That is going to prove to be a gigantic mistake. The following are 30 facts that show that the United States is heading directly for a massive financial crisis....

1 - For fiscal year 2011, the U.S. federal government had a budget deficit of nearly 1.3 trillion dollars. That was the third year in a row that our budget deficit has topped one trillion dollars.

2 - The balance sheet of the Federal Reserve has been ballooning like crazy. At this point, the Federal Reserve has very little capital backing a balance sheet that is well over 2 trillion dollars.

The following is how Michael Pento of Euro Pacific Capital describes the situation that the Fed is in....

Today, the Fed has $52.5 billion of capital backing a $2.7 trillion balance sheet.

Prior to the bursting of the credit bubble, the public was shocked to learn that our biggest investment banks were levered 30-to-1. When asset values fell, those banks were quickly wiped out. But now the Fed is holding many of the same types of assets and is levered 51-to-1! If the value of their portfolio were to fall by just 2%, the Fed itself would be wiped out.

3 - It is being estimated that it would take a total of 3 trillion euros to bail out all of the countries in Europe that are in imminent danger of financial implosion. Europe is heading for a gigantic financial crisis, and when it happens the United States is going to be dragged down as well.

4 - As the U.S. economy continues to decline, millions of American families are having a very hard time feeding themselves. Today, one out of every seven Americans is on food stamps and one out of every four American children is on food stamps.

5 - The U.S. Postal Service has lost more than 5 billion dollars over the past year. It looks like the federal government is going to have to help the U.S. Postal Service out financially.

6 - Freddie Mac says that it is going to need another $6 billion bailout from the federal government.

7 - Fannie Mae says that it is going to need another $7.8 billion bailout from the federal government.

8 - We are told that the economy is recovering, but the number of Americans on food stamps has grown by another 8 percent over the past year.

9 - The U.S. unemployment rate has been hovering around 9 percent for 30 straight months. It is currently sitting at 9.0 percent.

10 - The total cost of just three federal government programs - the Department of Defense, Social Security and Medicare - exceeded the total amount of taxes brought in during fiscal 2010 by 10 billion dollars.

11 - Back in the year 2000, 11.3% of all Americans were living in poverty. Today, 15.1% of all Americans are living in poverty.

12 - The "free trade" agenda being pushed by our globalist politicians is absolutely killing us. Even in industries that we were once dominant in we are now getting wiped out. For instance, in 2010 South Korea exported 12 times as many automobiles, trucks and parts to us as we exported to them. Hundreds of billions of dollars that should be going to support American jobs and businesses is going overseas instead.

13 - Since 1985, the federal government has added 13 trillion dollars to the national debt.

14 - The U.S. Treasury Department says that instead of $14.3 billion, the total losses from the auto industry bailouts will actually be $23.6 billion.

15 - Amazingly, the U.S. federal government is now 15 trillion dollars in debt. When Obama first took office the debt was just 10.6 trillion dollars.

16 - According to U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, the Federal Reserve made 16 trillion dollars in secret loans to big corporations, Wall Street banks, foreign nations and wealthy individuals during the financial crisis.

17 - The "too big to fail" banks just keep getting larger and larger. In the year 2000, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo held approximately 22 percent of all banking deposits in FDIC-insured institutions. By the middle of 2009 that figure was up to 39 percent. That is an increase of 17 percent in less than a decade.

18 - More Americans than ever are totally dependent on the government. In 1980, government transfer payments accounted for just 11.7% of all income. Today, government transfer payments account for more than 18 percent of all income.

19 - As a result of the lack of good jobs, we have huge numbers of Americans in their prime working years that cannot financially support themselves. As I have written about previously, 19% of all American men between the ages of 25 and 34 are living with their parents.

20 - America is rapidly getting poorer. Today, more than one out of every seven Americans is living in poverty and more than 20 million of them are considered to be living in extreme poverty.

21 - Income inequality is rising to very dangerous levels. According to a joint House and Senate report entitled "Income Inequality and the Great Recession", the top one percent of all income earners in the United States brought in a total of 10.0 percent of all income in 1980, but by the time 2008 had rolled around that figure had skyrocketed to 21.0 percent.

22 - It is not just the federal government with a debt problem. State and local government debt has reached an all-time high of 22 percent of U.S. GDP. Many state and local governments are even closer to going broke than the federal government is.

23 - If you can believe it, during 2010 an average of 23 manufacturing facilities a day were shut down in the United States. Our economy is literally being gutted like a fish.

24 - Right now, spending by the federal government accounts for about 24 percent of GDP. Back in 2001, it accounted for just 18 percent.

25 - According to Shadow Government Statistics, the "real" rate of unemployment in the United States is creeping up toward 25 percent.

26 - The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (an agency of the federal government) says that it ran a deficit of $26 billion during the fiscal year that just ended and that it will probably need a bailout from the federal government.

27 - In the midst of everything else, the United States is bleeding national wealth like crazy. Tens of billions of dollars more goes out of this country each month than comes into it. Instead of improving, our trade deficit just keeps getting worse. For example, the U.S. trade deficit with China in 2010 was 27 times larger than it was back in 1990.

28 - The U.S. housing crash is a crisis that never seems to end. According to one source, approximately 28 percent of all home loans in the United States are currently "underwater". So what is going to happen if the economy gets even worse?

29 - The federal government has borrowed more than 29,000 dollars per household since Barack Obama first took office.

30 - 30 years ago, the U.S. national debt was about 15 times smaller than it is today. How in the world are we ever going to explain this foolishness to future generations?

The American Dream

Indefinite detention bill passes senate....

Currency Crash