January 2010 Archives

AMERICA TANGLED UP, RUSSIA ADVANCES

While America's attention is on the danger of Iran and the other threats emanating from the Islamic world as well as the battle to protect the Constitution from the attacks of the Obama administration, Russia is climbing back to a position of great power. A pivotal election in Ukraine on February 7th will signal that Russia is back.


Ukraine's Election and the Russian Resurgence
January 26, 2010

By Peter Zeihan

Ukrainians go to the polls Feb. 7 to choose their next president. The last time they did this, in November 2004, the result was the prolonged international incident that became known as the Orange Revolution. That event saw Ukraine cleaved off from the Russian sphere of influence, triggering a chain of events that rekindled the Russian-Western Cold War. Next week's runoff election seals the Orange Revolution's reversal. Russia owns the first candidate, Viktor Yanukovich, outright and has a workable agreement with the other, Yulia Timoshenko. The next few months will therefore see the de facto folding of Ukraine back into the Russian sphere of influence; discussion in Ukraine now consists of debate over the speed and depth of that reintegration.

The Centrality of Ukraine
Russia has been working to arrest its slide for several years. Next week's election in Ukraine marks not so much the end of the post-Cold War period of Russian retreat as the beginning of a new era of Russian aggressiveness. To understand why, one must first absorb the Russian view of Ukraine.

Since the break-up of the Soviet Union, most of the former Soviet republics and satellites found themselves cast adrift, not part of the Russian orbit and not really part of any other grouping. Moscow still held links to all of them, but it exercised few of its levers of control over them during Russia's internal meltdown during the 1990s. During that period, a number of these states -- Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and the former Czechoslovakia to be exact -- managed to spin themselves out of the Russian orbit and attach themselves to the European Union and NATO. Others -- Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine -- attempted to follow the path Westward, but have not succeeded at this point. Of these six, Ukraine is by far the most critical. It is not simply the most populous of Russia's former possessions or the birthplace of the Russian ethnicity, it is the most important province of the former Russian Empire and holds the key to the future of Eurasia.
First, the incidental reasons. Ukraine is the Russian Empire's breadbasket. It is also the location of nearly all of Russia's infrastructure links not only to Europe, but also to the Caucasus, making it critical for both trade and internal coherence; it is central to the existence of a state as multiethnic and chronically poor as Russia. The Ukrainian port of Sevastopol is home to Russia's Black Sea fleet, and Ukrainian ports are the only well-developed warm-water ports Russia has ever had. Belarus' only waterborne exports traverse the Dnieper River, which empties into the Black Sea via Ukraine. Therefore, as goes Ukraine, so goes Belarus. Not only is Ukraine home to some 15 million ethnic Russians -- the largest concentration of Russians outside Russia proper -- they reside in a zone geographically identical and contiguous to Russia itself. That zone is also the Ukrainian agricultural and industrial heartland, which again is integrated tightly into the Russian core.
These are all important factors for Moscow, but ultimately they pale before the only rationale that really matters: Ukraine is the only former Russian imperial territory that is both useful and has a natural barrier protecting it. Belarus is on the Northern European Plain, aka the invasion highway of Europe. The Baltics are all easily accessible by sea. The Caucasian states of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia are on the wrong side of the Caucasus Mountains (and Russia's northern Caucasus republics -- remember Chechnya? -- aren't exactly the cream of the crop of Russian possessions). It is true that Central Asia is anchored in mountains to the south, but the region is so large and boasts so few Slavs that it cannot be controlled reliably or cheaply. And Siberia is too huge to be useful.
Without Ukraine, Russia is a desperately defensive power, lacking any natural defenses aside from sheer distance. Moscow and Volgograd, two of Russia's critically strategic cities, are within 300 miles of Ukraine's eastern border. Russia lacks any natural internal transport options -- its rivers neither interconnect nor flow anywhere useful, and are frozen much of the year -- so it must preposition defensive forces everywhere, a burden that has been beyond Russia's capacity to sustain even in the best of times. The (quite realistic) Russian fear is that without Ukraine, the Europeans will pressure Russia along its entire western periphery, the Islamic world will pressure Russia along its entire southern periphery, the Chinese will pressure Russia along its southeastern periphery, and the Americans will pressure Russia wherever opportunity presents itself.
Ukraine by contrast has the Carpathians to its west, a handy little barrier that has deflected invaders of all stripes for millennia. These mountains defend Ukraine against tanks coming from the west as effectively as they protected the Balkans against Mongols attacking from the east. Having the Carpathians as a western border reduces Russia's massive defensive burden. Most important, if Russia can redirect the resources it would have used for defensive purposes on the Ukrainian frontier -- whether those resources be economic, intelligence, industrial, diplomatic or military -- then Russia retains at least a modicum of offensive capability. And that modicum of offensive ability is more than enough to overmatch any of Russia's neighbors (with the exception of China).

When Retreat Ends, the Neighbors Get Nervous
This view of Ukraine is not alien to countries in Russia's neighborhood. They fully understand the difference between a Russia with Ukraine and a Russia without Ukraine, and understand that so long as Ukraine remains independent they have a great deal of maneuvering room. Now that all that remains is the result of an election with no strategic choice at stake, the former Soviet states and satellites realize that their world has just changed.
Georgia traditionally has been the most resistant to Russian influence regardless of its leadership, so defiant that Moscow felt it necessary to trounce Georgia in a brief war in August 2008. Georgia's poor strategic position is nothing new, but a Russia that can redirect efforts from Ukraine is one that can crush Georgia as an afterthought. That is turning the normally rambunctious Georgians pensive, and nudging them toward pragmatism. An opposition group, the Conservative Party, is launching a movement to moderate policy toward Russia, which among other things would mean abandoning Georgia's bid for NATO membership and re-establishing formal political ties with Moscow.
A recent Lithuanian power struggle has resulted in the forced resignation of Foreign Minister Minister Vygaudas. The main public point of contention was the foreign minister's previous participation in facilitating U.S. renditions. Vygaudas, like most in the Lithuanian leadership, saw such participation as critical to maintaining the tiny country's alliance with the United States. President Dalia Grybauskaite, however, saw the writing on the wall in Ukraine, and feels the need to foster a more conciliatory view of Russia. Part of that meant offering up a sacrificial lamb in the form of the foreign minister.
Poland is in a unique position. It knows that should the Russians turn seriously aggressive, its position on the Northern European Plain makes it the focal point of Russian attention. Its location and vulnerability makes Warsaw very sensitive to Russian moves, so it has been watching Ukraine with alarm for several months.
As a result, the Poles have come up with some (admittedly small) olive branches, including an offer for Putin to visit Gdansk last September in an attempt to foster warmer (read: slightly less overtly hostile) relations. Putin not only seized upon the offer, but issued a public letter denouncing the World War II-era Molotov-Ribbentrop Treaty, long considered by Poles as the most outrageous Russian offense to Poland. Warsaw has since replied with invitations for future visits. As with Georgia, Poland will never be pro-Russian -- Poland is not only a NATO member but also hopes to host an American Patriot battery and participate in Washington's developing ballistic missile defense program. But if Warsaw cannot hold Washington's attention -- and it has pulled out all the stops in trying to -- it fears the writing might already be on the wall, and it must plan accordingly.
Azerbaijan has always attempted to walk a fine line between Russia and the West, knowing that any serious bid for membership in something like the European Union or NATO was contingent upon Georgia's first succeeding in joining up. Baku would prefer a more independent arrangement, but it knows that it is too far from Russia's western frontier to achieve such unless the stars are somewhat aligned. As Georgia's plans have met with what can best be described as abject failure, and with Ukraine now appearing headed toward Russian suzerainty, Azerbaijan has in essence resigned itself to the inevitable. Baku is well into negotiations that would redirect much of its natural gas output north to Russia rather than west to Turkey and Europe. And Azerbaijan simply has little else to bargain with.
Other states that have long been closer to Russia, but have attempted to balance Russia against other powers in hopes of preserving some measure of sovereignty, are giving up. Of the remaining former Soviet republics Belarus has the most educated workforce and even a functioning information technology industry, while Kazakhstan has a booming energy industry; both are reasonable candidates for integration into Western systems. But both have this month agreed instead to throw their lots in with Russia. The specific method is an economic agreement that is more akin to shackles than a customs union. The deal effectively will gut both countries' industries in favor of Russian producers. Moscow hopes the union in time will form the foundation of a true successor to the Soviet Union.
Other places continue to show resistance. The new Moldovan prime minister, Vlad Filat, is speaking with the Americans about energy security and is even flirting with the Romanians about reunification. The Latvians are as defiant as ever. The Estonians, too, are holding fast, although they are quietly polling regional powers to at least assess where the next Russian hammer might fall. But for every state that decides it had best accede to Russia's wishes, Russia has that much more bandwidth to dedicate to the poorly positioned holdouts.
Russia also has the opportunity. The United States is bogged down in its economic and health care debates, two wars and the Iran question -- all of which mean Washington's attention is occupied well away from the former Soviet sphere. With the United States distracted, Russia has a freer hand in re-establishing control over states that would like to be under the American security umbrella.
There is one final factor that is pushing Russia to resurge: It feels the pressure of time. The post-Cold War collapse may well have mortally wounded the Russian nation. The collapse in Russian births has halved the size of the 0-20 age group in comparison to their predecessors born in the 1970s and 1980s. Consequently, Russian demographics are among the worst in the world.
Even if Russia manages an economic renaissance, in a decade its population will have aged and shrunk to the point that the Russians will find holding together Russia proper a huge challenge. Moscow's plan, therefore, is simple: entrench its influence while it is in a position of relative strength in preparation for when it must trade that influence for additional time. Ultimately, Russia is indeed going into that good night. But not gently. And not today.


"This report is republished with permission of STRATFOR"

Who can say the truth more clearly and elegantly (and humorously) than Mark Steyn


Mark Steyn: Obama can't say who we're at war with

By MARK STEYN
2010-01-08 10:16:34

Not long after the Ayatollah Khomeini announced his fatwa against Salman Rushdie, the British novelist suddenly turned up on a Muslim radio station in West London late one night and told his interviewer he'd converted to Islam. Marvelous religion, couldn't be happier, Allahu Akbar and all that.

And the Ayatollah said hey, that's terrific news, glad to hear it. But we're still gonna kill you.

Well, even a leftie novelist wises up under those circumstances.

Evidently, the president of the United States takes a little longer.

Barack Obama has spent the past year doing big-time Islamoschmoozing, from his announcement of Gitmo's closure and his investigation of Bush officials, to his bow before the Saudi king and a speech in Cairo to "the Muslim world" with far too many rhetorical concessions and equivocations. And at the end of it the jihad sent America a thank-you note by way of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's underwear: Hey, thanks for all the outreach! But we're still gonna kill you.

According to one poll, 58 percent of Americans are in favor of waterboarding young Umar Farouk. Well, you should have thought about that before you made a community organizer president of the world's superpower. The election of Barack Obama was a fundamentally unserious act by the U.S. electorate, and you can't blame the world's mischief-makers, from Putin to Ahmadinejad to the many Gitmo recidivists now running around Yemen, from drawing the correct conclusion.

For two weeks, the government of the United States has made itself a global laughingstock. Don't worry, "the system worked," said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Incompetano. Don't worry, he was an "isolated extremist," said the president. Don't worry, we're banning bathroom breaks for the last hour of the flight, said the TSA. Don't worry, "U.S. border security officials" told the Los Angeles Times, we knew he was on the plane, and we "had decided to question him when he landed." Don't worry, Obama's counterterrorism chief, John Brennan, assured the Sunday talk shows, sure, we read him his rights, and he's lawyered up but he'll soon see that "there is advantage to talking to us in terms of plea agreements."

Oh, that's grand. Try to kill hundreds of people in an act of war, and it's the starting point for a plea deal. In his Cairo speech, the president bragged that the United States would "punish" those in America who would "deny" the "right of women and girls to wear the hijab." If he's so keen on it, maybe he should consider putting the entire federal government into full-body burkas and zipping up the eye slit so that, henceforth, every public utterance by John Brennan will be entirely inaudible. Americans should be ashamed by this all-fools' fortnight.

On Thursday, having renounced over the preceding days "the system worked," the "isolated extremist," the more obviously risible TSA responses, the Gitmo-Yemen express checkout and various other follies, the president finally spoke the words: "We are at war." As National Review's Rich Lowry noted, they were more or less dragged from the presidential gullet by Dick Cheney, who'd accused the commander in chief of failing to grasp this basic point. Again, to be fair, it isn't just Obama. Last November, the electorate voted, in effect, to repudiate the previous eight years and seemed genuinely under the delusion that wars end when one side decides it's all a bit of a bore, and they'd rather the government spend the next eight years doing to health care and the economy what they were previously doing to jihadist camps in Waziristan.

On the other hand, if we are now at war, as Obama belatedly concedes, against whom are we warring? "We are at war against al-Qaida," says the president.

Really? But what does that mean? Was the previous month's "isolated extremist," the Fort Hood killer, part of al-Qaida? When it came to spiritual advice, he turned to the same Yemeni-based American-born imam as the Pantybomber, but he didn't have a fully paid-up membership card.

Nor did young Umar Farouk, come to that. Granted the general overcredentialization of American life, the notion that it doesn't count as terrorism unless you're a member of Local 437 of the Amalgamated Union of Isolated Extremists seems perverse and reductive.

What did the Pantybomber have a membership card in? Well, he was president of the Islamic Society of University College, London. Kafeel Ahmed, who died after driving a burning jeep into the concourse of Glasgow Airport, had been president of the Islamic Society of Queen's University, Belfast. Yassin Nassari, serving three years in jail for terrorism, was president of the Islamic Society of the University of Westminster. Waheed Arafat Khan, arrested in the 2006 Heathrow terror plots that led to Americans having to put their liquids and gels in those little plastic bags, was president of the Islamic Society of London Metropolitan University.

Doesn't this sound like a bigger problem than "al-Qaida," whatever that is? The president has now put citizens of Nigeria on the secondary-screening list. Which is tough on Nigerian Christians, who have no desire to blow up your flight to Detroit. Aside from the highly localized Tamil terrorism of India and Sri Lanka, suicide bombing is a phenomenon entirely of Islam. The broader psychosis that manifested itself only the other day in an axe murderer breaking into a Danish cartoonist's home to kill him because he objects to his cartoon is, likewise, a phenomenon of Islam. This is not to say (to go wearily through the motions) that all Muslims are potential suicide bombers and axe murderers, but it is to state the obvious - that this "war" is about the intersection of Islam and the West, and its warriors are recruited in the large pool of young Muslim manpower, not in Yemen and Afghanistan so much as in Copenhagen and London.

But the president of the United States cannot say that because he is overinvested in a fantasy - that, if only that Texan moron Bush had read Khalid Sheikh Mohammed his Miranda rights and bowed as low as Obama did to the Saudi king, we wouldn't have all these problems. So now Obama says, "We are at war." But he cannot articulate any war aims or strategy because they would conflict with his illusions. And so we will stagger on, playing defense, pulling more and more items out of our luggage - tweezers, shoes, shampoo, snow globes, suppositories - and reacting to every new provocation with greater impositions upon the citizenry.

You can't win by putting octogenarian nuns through full-body scanners.

All you can do is lose slowly. After all, if you can't even address what you're up against with any honesty, you can't blame the other side for drawing entirely reasonable conclusions about your faintheartedness in taking them on.

After that cringe-making radio interview, Salman Rushdie subsequently told The Times of London that trying to appease his would-be killers and calling for his own book to be withdrawn was the biggest mistake of his life. If only the president of the United States was such a quick study.

Why reform American healthcare? Dig below the UN statistics and it's clear that it is the best in the world. All we really need is to curb the tort lawyers and allow insurance companies to sell their health plans in any and all states. We don't need government bureaucrats making life and death decisions for us.

Where U.S. Health Care Ranks Number One
Isn't 'responsiveness' what medicine is all about?

By Mark Constantian
Wall Street Journal Opinion January 8, 2010

The cover of Time pictured President Obama in white coat and stethoscope. The story opened: "The U.S. spends more to get less [health care] than just about every other industrialized country." This trope has dominated media coverage of health-care reform.

Yet a majority of Americans opposes Congress's health-care bills. Why?

The comparative ranking system that most critics cite comes from the U.N.'s World Health Organization (WHO). The ranking most often quoted is Overall Performance, where the U.S. is rated No. 37. The Overall Performance Index, however, is adjusted to reflect how well WHO officials believe that a country could have done in relation to its resources.

The scale is heavily subjective: The WHO believes that we could have done better because we do not have universal coverage. What apparently does not matter is that our population has universal access because most physicians treat indigent patients without charge and accept Medicare and Medicaid payments, which do not even cover overhead expenses. The WHO does rank the U.S. No. 1 of 191 countries for "responsiveness to the needs and choices of the individual patient." Isn't responsiveness what health care is all about?

Data assembled by Dr. Ronald Wenger and published recently in the Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons indicates that cardiac deaths in the U.S. have fallen by two-thirds over the past 50 years. Polio has been virtually eradicated. Childhood leukemia has a high cure rate. Eight of the top 10 medical advances in the past 20 years were developed or had roots in the U.S.

The Nobel Prizes in medicine and physiology have been awarded to more Americans than to researchers in all other countries combined. Eight of the 10 top-selling drugs in the world were developed by U.S. companies. The U.S. has some of the highest breast, colon and prostate cancer survival rates in the world. And our country ranks first or second in the world in kidney transplants, liver transplants, heart transplants, total knee replacements, coronary artery bypass, and percutaneous coronary interventions.

We have the shortest waiting time for nonemergency surgery in the world; England has one of the longest. In Canada, a country of 35 million citizens, 1 million patients now wait for surgery and another million wait to see specialists.

When my friend, cardiac surgeon Peter Alivizatos, returned to Greece after 10 years heading the heart transplantation program at Baylor University in Dallas, the one-year heart transplant survival rate there was 50%--five-year survival was only 35%. He soon increased those numbers to 94% one-year and 90% five-year survival, which is what we achieve in the U.S. So the next time you hear that the U.S. is No. 37, remember that Greece is No. 14. Cuba, by the way, is No. 39.

But the issue is only partly about quality. As we have all heard, the U.S. spends a higher percentage of its gross domestic product for health care than any other country.
Actually, health-care spending now increases more moderately than it has in previous decades. Food, energy, housing and health care consume the same share of American spending today (55%) that they did in 1960 (53%).

So what does this money buy? Certainly some goes to inefficiencies, corporate profits, and costs that should be lowered by professional liability reform and national, free-market insurance access by allowing for competition across state lines. But the majority goes to a long list of advantages that American citizens now expect: the easiest access, the shortest waiting times the widest choice of physicians and hospitals, and constant availability of health care to elderly Americans. What we need now is insurance and liability reform--not health-care reform.

Who determines how much a nation should pay for its health? Is 17% too much, or too little? What better way could there be to dedicate our national resources than toward the health and productivity of our citizens?

Perhaps it's not that America spends too much on health care, but that other nations don't spend enough.

--Dr. Constantian is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon in New Hampshire.

IS REALITY OVERTAKING OBAMA?

The idiocy of putting the Christmas bomber into the criminal law system is rightly condemned by Charles Krauthammer. But he sees a ray of iight in the President's densely blind world. Would we be this optimistic.


Obama's Guantanamo obsession

By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, January 8, 2010; A21

On Wednesday, Nigerian would-be bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was indicted by a Michigan grand jury for attempted murder and sundry other criminal charges. The previous day, the State Department announced that his visa had been revoked. The system worked.

Well, it did for Abdulmutallab. What he lost in flying privileges he gained in Miranda rights. He was singing quite freely when seized after trying to bring down Northwest Flight 253 over Detroit. But the Obama administration decided to give him a lawyer and the right to remain silent. We are now forced to purchase information from this attempted terrorist in the coin of leniency. Absurdly, Abdulmutallab is now in control.

And this is no ordinary information. He was trained by al-Qaeda in Yemen, and just days after he was lawyered up and shut up, the United States was forced to close its embassy in Yemen because of active threats from the same people who had trained and sent Abdulmutallab.

This is nuts. Even if you wanted ultimately to try him as an ordinary criminal, he could have been detained in military custody -- and thus subject to military interrogation -- without prejudicing his ultimate disposition. After all, every Guantanamo detainee was first treated as an enemy combatant and presumably interrogated. But some (most notoriously Khalid Sheik Mohammed) are going to civilian trial. That determination can be made later.

John Brennan, President Obama's counterterrorism adviser, professes an inability to see any "downsides" to treating Abdulmutallab as an ordinary criminal -- with a right to remain silent -- a view with which 71 percent of likely voters sensibly disagree.

The administration likes to defend itself by invoking a Bush precedent: Wasn't the shoe bomber treated the same way?

Yes. And it was a mistake, but in the context of the time understandable. That context does not remotely exist today.

Richard Reid struck three months after 9/11. The current anti-terror apparatus was not in place. Remember: This was barely a month after President Bush authorized the creation of military commissions and before that system had been even set up. Moreover, the Pentagon at the time was preoccupied with the Afghan campaign that brought down the Taliban in two months. The last major Taliban city, Kandahar, fell just two weeks before Reid tried to ignite his shoe on an airplane.

To be sure, after a few initial misguided statements, Obama did get somewhat serious about the Christmas Day attack. First, he instituted high-level special screening for passengers from 14 countries, the vast majority of which are Muslim with significant Islamist elements. This is the first rational step away from today's idiotic random screening and toward, yes, a measure of profiling -- i.e., focusing on the population most overwhelmingly likely to be harboring a suicide bomber.

Obama also sensibly suspended all transfers of Yemenis from Guantanamo. Nonetheless, Obama insisted on repeating his determination to close the prison, invoking his usual rationale of eliminating a rallying cry and recruiting tool for al-Qaeda.

Imagine that Guantanamo were to disappear tomorrow, swallowed in a giant tsunami. Do you think there'd be any less recruiting for al-Qaeda in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, London?

Jihadism's list of grievances against the West is not only self-replenishing but endlessly creative. Osama bin Laden's 1998 fatwa commanding universal jihad against America cited as its two top grievances our stationing of troops in Saudi Arabia and Iraqi suffering under anti-Saddam sanctions.

Today, there are virtually no U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia. And the sanctions regime against Iraq was abolished years ago. Has al-Qaeda stopped recruiting? Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's No. 2, often invokes Andalusia in his speeches. For those not steeped in the multivolume lexicon of Islamist grievances, Andalusia refers to Iberia, lost by Islam to Christendom -- in 1492.

This is a fanatical religious sect dedicated to establishing the most oppressive medieval theocracy and therefore committed to unending war with America not just because it is infidel but because it represents modernity with its individual liberty, social equality (especially for women) and profound tolerance (religious, sexual, philosophical). You going to change that by evacuating Guantanamo?

Nevertheless, Obama will not change his determination to close Guantanamo. He is too politically committed. The only hope is that perhaps now he is offering his "recruiting" rationale out of political expediency rather than real belief. With suicide bombers in the air, cynicism is far less dangerous to the country than naivete.

WHAT WAR?

Why is Obama so reluctant to acknowledge what he must know? Islam is at war with America and will continue to be so until it has conquered America.

Was Obama, like many, if not most or all, Muslim-born babies, inculcated with the poison of Islam at birth? Does the poison still run through his veins?

Not the Manchurian candidate, but the Meccan candidate?

Hollow Words on Terrorism

By Charles Krauthammer

WASHINGTON -- Janet Napolitano -- former Arizona governor, now overmatched secretary of homeland security -- will forever be remembered for having said of the attempt to bring down an airliner over Detroit: "The system worked." The attacker's concerned father had warned U.S. authorities about his son's jihadist tendencies. The would-be bomber paid cash and checked no luggage on a transoceanic flight. He was nonetheless allowed to fly, and would have killed 288 people in the air alone, save for a faulty detonator and quick actions by a few passengers.

Heck of a job, Brownie.

The reason the country is uneasy about the Obama administration's response to this attack is a distinct sense of not just incompetence but incomprehension. From the very beginning, President Obama has relentlessly tried to downplay and deny the nature of the terrorist threat we continue to face. Napolitano renames terrorism "man-caused disasters." Obama goes abroad and pledges to cleanse America of its post-9/11 counterterrorist sins. Hence, Guantanamo will close, CIA interrogators will face a special prosecutor, and Khalid Sheik Mohammed will bask in a civilian trial in New York -- a trifecta of political correctness and image management.

And just to make sure even the dimmest understand, Obama banishes the term "war on terror." It's over -- that is, if it ever existed.

Obama may have declared the war over. Unfortunately al-Qaeda has not. Which gives new meaning to the term "asymmetric warfare."

And produces linguistic -- and logical -- oddities that littered Obama's public pronouncements following the Christmas Day attack. In his first statement, Obama referred to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab as "an isolated extremist." This is the same president who, after the Ford Hood shooting, warned us "against jumping to conclusions" -- code for daring to associate Nidal Hasan's mass murder with his Islamist ideology. Yet, with Abdulmutallab, Obama jumped immediately to the conclusion, against all existing evidence, that the bomber acted alone.

More jarring still were Obama's references to the terrorist as a "suspect" who "allegedly tried to ignite an explosive device." You can hear the echo of FDR: "Yesterday, December 7, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy -- Japanese naval and air force suspects allegedly bombed Pearl Harbor."

Obama reassured the nation that this "suspect" had been charged. Reassurance? The president should be saying: We have captured an enemy combatant -- an illegal combatant under the laws of war: no uniform, direct attack on civilians -- and now to prevent future attacks, he is being interrogated regarding information he may have about al-Qaeda in Yemen.

Instead, Abdulmutallab is dispatched to some Detroit-area jail and immediately lawyered up. At which point -- surprise! -- he stops talking.

This absurdity renders hollow Obama's declaration that "we will not rest until we find all who were involved." Once we've given Abdulmutallab the right to remain silent, we have gratuitously forfeited our right to find out from him precisely who else was involved, namely those who trained, instructed, armed and sent him.

This is all quite mad even in Obama's terms. He sends 30,000 troops to fight terror overseas, yet if any terrorists come to attack us here, they are magically transformed from enemy into defendant.

The logic is perverse. If we find Abdulmutallab in an al-Qaeda training camp in Yemen, where he is merely preparing for a terror attack, we snuff him out with a Predator -- no judge, no jury, no qualms. But if we catch him in the United States in the very act of mass murder, he instantly acquires protection not just from execution by drone but even from interrogation.

The president said that this incident highlights "the nature of those who threaten our homeland." But the president is constantly denying the nature of those who threaten our homeland. On Tuesday, he referred five times to Abdulmutallab (and his terrorist ilk) as "extremist(s)."

A man who shoots abortion doctors is an extremist. An eco-fanatic who torches logging sites is an extremist. Abdulmutallab is not one of these. He is a jihadist. And unlike the guys who shoot abortion doctors, jihadists have cells all over the world; they blow up trains in London, nightclubs in Bali and airplanes over Detroit (if they can); and are openly pledged to war on America.

Any government can through laxity let someone slip through the cracks. But a government that refuses to admit that we are at war, indeed, refuses even to name the enemy -- jihadist is a word banished from the Obama lexicon -- turns laxity into a governing philosophy.

They are sick.

The followers of Mohammed are injected with the poison of Islam at birth.

Mohammed is the model. Murder people who are in the way or who criticize you? LIe, cheat and steal? Muslim mainstream today as it has been through all of Islamic history.

New Year's Day examples.

Pakistan: Suicide bomber kills 88, wounds 50

A suicide bomber detonated his explosives-packed vehicle in a crowd of people watching a volleyball tournament Friday in northwest Pakistan, killing 88 people in the deadliest attack in the country in more than two months.

Regional Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain reiterated the government's resolve to target militants wherever they may be, saying "we need to be more offensive to fight them."

The attack was the deadliest since a car bomb killed 112 people at a crowded market in Peshawar on Oct. 28.

And this:


Danish police shoot man who tried to kill cartoonist

COPENHAGEN (AFP) - Danish police shot and arrested an axe-wielding Somali who attacked a cartoonist reviled by Muslims for a controversial drawing of their prophet Mohammed, authorities said Saturday.

Kurt Westergaard, who has faced several death threats since his cartoon nearly five years ago set off protests across the Muslim world, hid in a safe room as the 28-year-old suspect tried to break into his home late Friday.

Police said they shot and wounded the intruder, said by intelligence services to be linked to the radical Somali Shebab movement and leaders of Al-Qaeda in East Africa, as he threatened them with an axe and a knife.

"He will be charged for two murder attempts, on Kurt Westergaard and on a police officer," East Jutland Police Superintendent Ole Mabsen told AFP on Saturday.

"He is in the hospital at the moment. He will be taken into court in the afternoon, where we will ask the judge to bring him into custody."

The suspect has not been named, but the Danish internal security service PET said in a statement he was "linked to terrorism" both in Denmark and in east Africa.

Westergaard, 74, was at his home with a five-year-old granddaughter when the intruder tried to get in.

"I locked myself in our safe room and alerted the police. He tried to smash the entrance door with an axe, but he didn't manage," he told Danish news agency Ritzau.

Is there a cure?

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