Tag Archives: North Korea

Flashpoint China: The Perils of U.S. Debt

Chinese poster featuring Marx, Engels, Lenin, ...

Chinese poster paying homage to communism

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As the Red Dragon of communist China grows into an economic powerhouse, someday soon it will almost inevitably create a confrontation with the red, white and blue beacon of freedom known as the United States, and the supremacy of communism or democracy will come to a head.

Such a confrontation is not desired and saner minds can and must help to prevent it. But we live in a world that despite great technological advances, in fact in some ways, ironically because of technological advances, is more dangerous than it has ever been before. And in this dangerous world are many flashpoints, flashpoints that can be easily sparked by the erratic tendencies of regimes such as those in Iran, Syria, Myanmar, North Korea and others as well as unstable governments in nations such as Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The risks that these and others nations present can be responsible for triggering a domino-like series of events that that could easily spark a Sino-American confrontation that at least challenges America in the Pacific, where the United States has deeply vested economic interests in nations such as Taiwan and Japan.

The likelihood of such a confrontation is very real and for many reasons.

With instability in the Middle East raging on, and as China continues its rise into an industrial superpower that consumes more and more fossil fuels, its increasing access to such things as oil, could force China to aggressively claim access to more reliable sources of energy, such as the vast gas and oil rich deposits that are contained in disputed sections of the China Sea.

Another flashpoint could be a Chinese attempt to consume and pilfer the economic rich island nation of Taiwan.

Any series of events, anywhere in the world could force such circumstances of confrontation. The situation is so real that China has even created a new missile that can make Aircraft carriers, the instruments which help provide American supremacy in the Pacific, obsolete.

Given the complete incompatibility of communism and democracy and all the variables which exist as possible flashpoints, how the confrontation may present itself is not quite as important as how we cope with it.

In the beginning stages of such hostility, how would we cope with it?

To answer that questions, let us base the scenario on circumstances as they currently exist.

As we stand now, the federal debt stands at $13.4 trillion dollars. That figure does not mention the $110 trillion dollars that exists in the unfunded mandates of Social Security and Medicare liabilities. Of that debt, China holds nearly $850 billion in American treasury bonds. Of that, the Chinese have recently and discreetly turned them into notes that will mature in less than 11 months from now.

That being the case, as soon as tensions rise over a surprising Sino-American confrontation, China will more than likely begin to sell off their $850 billion in U.S. treasury bonds. The result of that would be a worldwide sell-off that would stream through the American bond market and fuel investors fears over inflation. As hours and days passed, Americans may very well begin to withdraw their deposits out of banks, money markets funds and other assets, such as life insurance policies.

Not long after that, the Federal Reserve would be forced to arbitrarily invest what would be virtually non-existing trillions of dollars to cover its obligations.  That would spur on high inflation and push us into the realm of hyperinflation, something that given the lack of confidence in the financial markets because of the events of 2008 an 2009, would be an almost certainty.

With hyperinflation started, the U.S. government will have virtually no economic credibility and the dollar will become worthless. And the irony of all ironies is that in regard to national security, the U.S. would not even have the ability secure fuel for its military. It would have to deplete our national reserves and eventually China would have won economic and military supremacy before the first shot was even fired.

It should be understood that I am not a fan of doomsday scenarios and I am not suggesting that confrontation with China is inevitable. But even without a Chinese military threat, given the instability of the world, any series of events could set off the type of economic scenario presented here. I repeat, could. Not will. But could. But the question becomes how long can we live with such a possibility?

We once thought that terrorism was a major problem in places like Israel and other far off lands but not here in America. Then it happened, here, and it became a priority.

If we ever want to avoid the unimaginable from becoming very imaginable, we must eliminate that which makes the impossible quite possible. We must pay down our massive debt. Most Americans do not realize that our debt, a net negative accumulated by both Republicans and Democrats, hangs over us like a sword of Damocles, threatening to unravel more than our supremacy in the world, but our very existence and way of life.

It is time that we realize that as difficult as it may be to control spending, we must do so and we must do so now. And how we do it is just as important as doing it. It must be done by the means of our free markets which will grow our economy in a way that, unlike federal spending, is sustainable and produces the opportunity for wealth to be created and spread through increased employment, stable financial markets, and solid money, not credit and speculation but cold, hard, cash.

And as such a trend for free market, economic growth increases, the federal government must do its part and slash spending, downsize government, create spending limits and reassess how our money is spent and where it goes. We will need to take measures such as a moratorium on all non-essential foreign aid, adopting constitutional spending limits, overhauling our existing tax code and most of all, by putting an end to the notion that the federal government can spend our way to prosperity.

Paying down our massive federal debt will require willpower. It will require us to consider it a national security issue, because it is. Ridding ourselves of our debt will require disciplined leadership in both the House and Senate, as well as the White House. It requires a President who is armed with a well inked veto pen and the guts to say no

And without a bipartisan effort to promptly and effectively tackle the debt, I believe that it is up to Republicans to declare an economic national emergency, one that brings a complete halt to the direction in which Democrats are taking us. One that tackles our debt now, not later, when it just might be too late.

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Handling North Korea’s Threat of “Sacred War”

Bookmark and Share In the wake of North Korea’s unprovoked sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan, which killed 46 sailors, the United States and South Korea are about to engage in joint military exercises. In response to those exercises, North Korea has now warned that if they take place, they will “start a retaliatory sacred war of their own style based on nuclear deterrent any time necessary”

North Korea views the pending military exercises as “outright provocations aimed to stifle the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea by force of arms”.

If we are to believe that these military training operations amount to provocation, what pray tell do you call the killing of 46 South Koreans by firing a missile at their ship?

The threat posed by North Korea, is just another in a long stream of threats that are usually made for the purpose of securing foreign aide. And it often works. As is the case with most threats, this one must be taken seriously and probably more than most. It’s vagueness must put almost any nation from South Korea, to Japan and the United States, on alert. With apparent long range missile capabilities on top of their possible nuclear ability, no one is safe from the erratic and aggressive communist regime. The lack of specifics make it possible for this threat to be carried at any pointing time. It could occur within in weeks, days or possibly even hours of the commencement of the U.S.-South Korean joint military exercises.

From my perspective, given our own capacity for foreign intelligence and satellite imagery, I am optimistic of our federal government’s ability to discern if and when North Korea is about to carry out their threat. Anyone who is familiar with the Cuban missile crisis, can understand this. This probable intelligence capability will be critical to our success in preparing to dismantle North Korea’s ability to carry out their threat and launch their promised attack.

It is in that vein that I believe the United States must make it clear to North Korea that unlike their intentions, our joint military exercise with our longtime South Korean ally, posses no threat to North Korea. It is merely a necessary part of preparedness for the defense of South Korea from any further North Korean aggression. Unlike North Korea’s unwarranted, war-like, offensive attack on a South Korean vessel, our exercise is a warranted response to that violent act and is a non-offensive exercise meant strictly for the purpose of defensive measures, not offensive measures. In other words, if North Korea has no sinister intentions, they have nothing to fear and no need to see our operations as provocative

Most of all, North Korea should know that in the event of any attack, nuclear or otherwise, the United States will insure that North Korea’s ability for any such future attack is eliminated any way and “any time necessary”.

This type of language and willingness to act on such language, is a posture that I am finding increasingly necessarily in light of Pyongyang’s history, long term bully tactics and incendiary foreign policy stance.

Since 1968, North Korea has been a sponsor of terrorism. In 1979 they blew up a landmark in what is now Myanmar and killed 4 South Korean cabinet ministers. In 1987 North Korea was responsible for blowing up a South Korean airliner. In 1996 they carried out a commando suicide mission in South Korea. And since then, Pyongyang has exported missile and nuclear technology to Myanmar, Syria, and Iran. And let us not forget that in 1998, 2006, and 2009, North Korea fired long range missiles over Japan and then also in 2009, claimed that the test firing of a long range ballistic missile that traveled 2,200 miles, was an attempt to launch a satellite.

Add this history to the recent declaration that North Korea “will not be bound” by the truce that ended the fighting of the Korean War, and what you have is a North Korean regime that can not be coddled, rewarded for their behavior or ignored.

In the mean time, let us hope that President Obama does not allow North Korea to do any more than just flex whatever muscle they may have.

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Scrapping Missile Defense Shields Is Not The Way To Go

Bookmark and Share  Prior to President Obama’s recent announcment proclaiming changes to create a  “more flexible” American missile defense of Eastern Europe, particularly from missileshield4potential Iranian threats, The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs released a disturbing report that contradicts the President’s reasoning for scrapping the previous missile defense shield that was proposed.

President Obama who slashed our missile defense budget in the first few months of presidency, is making changes to the Bush proposed American missile defense program based upon “updated intelligence assessment”about Iran’s offensive missile capabilities .  This updated intelligence apparently indicates that earlier assessments of the Iranian missile threat overestimated their capabilities. 

But Israel has evidence to the contrary. 

According to Dr. Uzi Rubin of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs “The cumulative weight of Iranian missile development achievements in the last two years puts Iran’s programs into a context which might be wider than the Middle East. Up to now, the Iranian programs could fit only a local scenario. However, recent developments may show not necessarily the intention but at least the capability of the Iranians to extend their missile program to potential targets beyond the Middle East“.

The report released just a few weeks ago reads as follows:

For the powerpoint  presentation that accompanied the briefingclick the following link  iran-presentation-2009.

  • Iran is vigorously pursuing several missile and space programs at an almost feverish pace with impressive achievements. The Iranians have upgraded their ballistic missiles to become satellite launchers. To orbit a satellite is a highly sophisticated endeavor. It requires proficiency in stage separation and advanced guidance and control systems to insert the satellite into a stable, desired trajectory. They took the Shahab, extended it a bit, added a new lightweight second stage, and now they have the Safir space launch vehicle. The very capability to build a two-stage satellite launcher, rather than the usual three-stage rockets for space-lift vehicles, is quit remarkable by itself – an impressive engineering achievement.
  • In spite of the Missile Technology Control Regime and in the face of sanctions, Iran has succeeded in acquiring the needed infrastructure and to raise a cadre of proficient scientists and engineers backed by academic research institutes. Iranian missile technology now seems to be more advanced than that of North Korea.
  • The solid-propellant Sejil missile signifies a technological and strategic breakthrough. This missile already poses a threat to a number of European Union countries. Based on its demonstrated achievements in solid propulsion and staging, Iran will face no significant hurdle in upscaling the Sejil into a compact, survivable intermediate-range ballistic missile. A range of 3,600 km. will be sufficient to put most of the EU under threat.
  • Contrary to a recent report by U.S. and Russian scientists published by the EastWest Institute in Washington, D.C., the solid-propellant technology demonstrated by the Sejil gives the Iranian a key for longer-range missiles that could be deployed in a survivable manner from Western Iran. The report claims that it will take the Iranians just six years to develop a nuclear warhead that could be carried by a ballistic missile. By that time the Iranians might already have the appropriate missiles to carry such warheads. The West would do well to start preparing its defenses right now.  

Iran Invests in Nuclear and Missile Technology:

missileshieldThe Iranians love to show their hardware in parades. They have two armed forces: the army and the Pasdaran, the Revolutionary Guard. The army holds its parade on April 22 every year, while the Pasdaran holds its parade in December. During the big parade the army held in 2008, they displayed guns and artillery, all of which had been purchased before 1979 during the time of the Shah. They showed a modern tank that they make in small numbers, but most were Soviet T55s, a tank from the 1950s. Obviously they are not investing much money in ground forces or in new armament.

During the air show, some 220 planes flew above Tehran, but, again, they were F5s made in America and bought during the Shah’s time, Mirage F1s, and Iraqi aircraft which were flown to Iran during the Gulf War. There were F4 Phantoms, F14 Tomcats, and MIG 21s. The most modern fighter aircraft they flew was a MIG 29 from 1992.

So we see that the money is not being invested in the ground forces or in the air force. Where is the money going? It goes into nuclear technologies and missiles. They can make all the excuses in the world that everything is for peaceful purposes, but the fact is that Iran’s biggest budgets are going to nuclear technology and missile technology.

Iran’s Engineers Become More Advanced than North Koreans

missileshield2In 1988 the Iranians had only Scud B and Scud C missiles. Ten years later they had their first operational Shahab III. The Iranians bought the Shahab, which has a range of 1,300 km., from North Korea, including the production line. We now see the Iranians building underground silos for the Shahab, to make it more survivable.

The Iranians are also now capable of taking an unguided rocket like the Zalzal – that Hizbullah also has – and turning it into a guided rocket with a range of 200 kilometers. This is an original Iranian project; we don’t see it anywhere else.

They have also upgraded their ballistic missiles to become satellite launchers. To orbit a satellite is a very complicated project. There are missile stages, and a careful guidance and control system to insert the satellite into a stable, desired trajectory. They took the Shahab, extended it a bit, added more propellant, and now they have the Safir space launch vehicle. They launched it twice and the second time it was successful; for a while they had a test satellite in orbit. They built a two-stage satellite launcher with a very elegant upper stage, incomparable to anything we know – an impressive engineering achievement.

Up to now, North Korea has been the fountainhead of technology to Iran. In the 1990s and the early 2000s we saw the North Korean No-dong missile appearing in Iran, as well as the Shahab II and Shahab III, which in North Korea are called the Wassong V and Wassong VI. The Scud is a North Korean invention which was also exported to Iran. But looking at April’s North Korean satellite launch attempt, they used a satellite launcher that looks nothing like what we see in Iran. It was completely different, much bigger and heavier, and with three stages.

This means that the connection between Iranian and North Korean technology is not that tight anymore, and the pupils are now the teachers. The Iranians have reached a level of proficiency which has disconnected them from North Korea and in some cases they are more advanced than the North Koreans. The Iranians are now going to deploy a missile which is nothing like what the North Koreans have, so a connection may now be the other way around. Start watching Iran not as a market for North Korean merchandise but as an exporter of Iranian missile technologies.

Iranian Breakthrough: A Solid Fuel Missile

On May 19, 2009, the EastWest Institute issued a report entitled Iran’s Nuclear and Missile Potential: A Joint Threat Assessment by U.S. and Russian Technical Experts, claiming that “There is no reliable information at the present on the state of Iran’s efforts to develop solid propellant rocket motors.” The next day, on May 20, the Iranians successfully fired a solid fuel Sejil rocket. Solid propellant leaves a trail of particles behind, while liquid propellant has transparent flames that don’t leave any trail, so video reports of the launch are quite revealing.

What is also impressive here is the pace of development. In 2005 we heard for the first time about the coming of the Sejil. The first flight occurred thirty months after the end of development of the solid propellant motors. Iran’s space program is even more impressive.

They have the engineers to understand what they are doing. They have the system engineers to engineer fixes and they have the program managers to run the whole program. They have demonstrated the ability to manufacture a 14-ton solid propellant rocket motor, and they have the infrastructure they need. To build such a rocket you need big, expensive installations. They are not available for sale, they are controlled by the Missile Technology Control Regime, but Iran has managed to acquire them. All of this infrastructure is in Iran. Another point on the proficiency of their engineers: I received a list of Iranian technical publications from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, all of them dealing with big solid propellant rocket motors.

The Iranians conducted six major tests of multi-stage missiles in eighteen months by two different teams from two different test ranges with all the instrumentation and flight control guidance system telemetry. When there is a challenge, they overcome the challenge.

Europe Coming into Iranian Missile Range

The Iranian defense minister has spoken of two missiles: the Kadr I that goes 2,000 km. and the Sejil that goes more than 2,000 km. Why is 2,000 km. significant? Less than 2,000 km. does not threaten Europe. Beyond that you are starting to threaten Europe.

Two weeks after the EastWest Institute report came out, Ted Postol of MIT, one of its authors, published an addendum to the report. Based on data he presented, our calculations show that the Sejil has an actual range of about 2,500 km. Such a range could reach Warsaw and, indeed, six European Union countries: Poland, Slovakia, Rumania, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Greece. The Tabriz launch area in Iran is as big as Azerbeijan, bigger than Israel and half of Jordan. It’s about 50,000 sq. km., full of mountains, valleys, and canyons. You can hide thousands of ballistic missiles there with a very high probability of survival. So the capability to make a survivable missile that can threaten Europe now exists in Iran.

Iran is vigorously pursuing several missile programs and a space program at a feverish rate. No one else, except the Chinese perhaps, is working at such a speed. In spite of all the sanctions, the Iranians have managed to acquire all the needed infrastructure to make advanced missiles and develop a technology cadre. They are building up technological universities. They have been in the business for twenty years.

The solid propellant Sejil is the watershed breakthrough. The Iranians have the technology right now to produce an intermediate range ballistic missile that can threaten Europe. Whether they do it or not involves the question of intention, but they are capable of doing it. The EastWest Institute report estimates that it will take Iran about six years to fit a nuclear warhead on a missile. If this is true, then the time to start missile defense in Europe is now. The fact that the Iranians are building that capability is something that should be brought to public view.

The distance from Iran to Israel remains the same no matter what missiles the Iranians develop. From an Israeli anti-missile defense perspective, the threat remains more or less the same, whether it’s a Shahab III or a Sejil. But while the implications of Iran’s continued missile development are not so great from an Israeli point of view, they may be quite significant for those who live beyond the Middle East.

*     *     *

Despite what the President and Secretary of Defense claim, the recent proposed changes in the proposed committment to nations like Poland for a missile defense of Europe are less change and more of a scrapping of a missile defense and a turning of our backs to our European allies who rely on an America that keeps its word.

The most plausible reason for the administrations scrapping of such a system is for the establishment of better relations with Russia, which opposes any such defense system anywhere near those countries that are within their reach.  The intention for a better relationship with Russia is noble, but appeasement that  leaves those who we already have good relationships with vulnerable  is not  noble.  It is naive and dangerous.

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Iran, North Korea and Syria Killed 20 and Injured 60 In Joint Venture

Bookmark and Share  In a joint venture back in late May, an axis of idiots comprised of Syria, Iran and North Korea secretly test-launched a new short-range ballistic missile in southern Syria.

North Korean, Syrian and Iraninan Missile Test ProgramJapanese intelligence has learned that Pyongyang, Tehran and Damascus are trying to develop an updated version of the outdated Scud missile that all three still use in their armed forces. Apparently back in May, several new missiles were flown from North Korea and Iran to a Damascus military airfield. From their they went to Syria’s Jebel Druze, a missile-testing site in the southeastern portion of the country near a small town called Salakhand.

Japanese intelligence sources discovered that preparations for the test fire of the Scuds went on for two weeks and the first two to be tested failed miserably and another went totally off course.

The intended area targeted for the Scuds to hit was 310 miles to the North of the launch site and was also the very same desolate desert location that the Russians and Syrians helped Iraq to bury weapons of mass destruction in.

The one missile that successfully launched, veered off course drastically, straying 220-250 miles west of its projected target which placed it in the center of Manbij, a small town near the border of Turkey known for its popular markets. Upon detonation the errant missile killed at least 20 people, injured 60 more and severely damaged the market town.

No longer the secret that the trio had hoped to keep it, beyond being a tragedy that killed and injured innocent civilians, the episode demonstrates a few things.

It highlights the fact that some of the most dangerous and unpredictable regimes in the world are in fact working together in an axis of evil which proves that we better not keep our guard down.

It also demonstrates that while both Iran and North Korea dabble in procuring nuclear capabilities, they are also working hard to produce the technology and capability that could lead to nuclear weaponization.

Another point is that the involvement of Syria in the test would lead one to believe that when Iran and or North Korea do reach the point of nuclear weapon capabilities, they will be sharing it with their Syrian partner.

In addition to those conclusion the devastating results of the tests that took place in May tell us that at this point in time this particular missile system is so far defective and has a serious problem with its guidance system.

In one way that is good news. It means that North Korea, Iran and Syria still have a way to go in their technology and the development of effective and reliable missile technology.

In another way it is still bad news. So far 20 innocent people died as a result of their tests. How many may be killed in their next test? And what if the next defective missile strays off course a little further and strikes Turkey?

In the mean time, while we reflect for a moment on the loss of the twenty people who were just trying to get through another day, we should also reflect on President Obama’s decision to slash the budget of our nation’s missile defense system. Just because these three armed and dangerous stooges can’t shoot their offensive missiles straight yet, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t insure that our defensive missiles can shoot straight and take out one theirs when it is aimed at American interests or goes astray again and jeopardizes an allies civilian population in Turkey or Iraq or elsewhere.

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Cutting The Defense Budget….And Our Throats

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Bookmark and Share    Hurray!   During this period of troubling economic times, with increasingly poor economic indicators and concerns over deficit spending, President Obama’s new administration has proposed their first budget cuts.

Out of all the  cuts that can be made, these proposed budget reduction measures are proposed in of all places, our defense budget

These proposed cuts came from one of the administrations few Republicans, the Secretary of Defense. The same Defense Secretary that was given the job by former President Bush.

I saw President Obama’s decision to keep Secretary Gates on, as a wise decision. I saw the perceived acceptance of continuity in the advice given in regards to our national defense as a prudent decision.

It is probably part of the reason why President Obama has not changed our approach to the war in Iraq. The advice and leadership of Secretary Gates has amounted to President Obama’s continuation of the Bush policy in Iraq and the time schedule set in motion by Secretary Gates under the direction of former President Bush. That is a bit ironic since President Obama campaigned on changing the Bush policy in Iraq and pulling out of there as soon as possible.

Yet the latest advice of Secretary Gates is a bit concerning.

He is the only cabinet official to have suggested budget cuts, at this point in time, but I am not sure that the defense of our nation is where I want the budget cut.

I am also not sure that I agree with the specific proposed reduction of national defense monies regarding the specific proposal he made.

Secretary Gates wants to cut back on air born laser anti missile development and technology or ABL.

Now, unless my short-term memory fails me, North Korea  just fired off a rocket that scared the bejeezus out of the international community. The damn thing flew over Japan, an ally of ours, and an enemy to the crazed regime running the show in North Korea.

The North Koreans said they were putting a satellite up into orbit. That explanation didn’t really satisfy the powers that be. First of all, U.S. intelligence sees no evidence of a new satellite up there. Secondly with the scientific capabilities that North Korea possess, the only working technology that they could possible place into orbit is a transistor radio. And it would be an AM one at that.

So all this suggests nothing but ominous intentions on their behalf. They could be using their new found ability to raise much needed money for their faltering economy by selling this rocket to another upstanding, humanitarian minded nation like maybe Iran. Such a move will not exactly be an advance for the cause of peace in the world. Of course North Korea could intend to use it for transportation. They could want to transport a missile that is armed with the nuclear capabilities that they claimed to have stopped trying to obtain.

Either way, the fact that they fired a missile that can strike too many vulnerable American allies as well as the United States itself, makes me wonder how wise it is to reduce government spending by eliminating a technology that could shoot down the next Taepodong-2 multistage rocket.

According to Gates, his proposed budget is “the product of a holistic assessment of capabilities, requirements, risks and needs for the purpose of shifting this department in a different strategic direction.”

As for the laser technology that could be used to shoot down a future Taepodong-2 rocket, Gates stated “the ABL program has significant affordability and technology problems, and the program’s proposed operational role is highly questionable.”

That assessment and the decision to go through with halting use and study of the technology is beyond disappointing. In my view it is distressing.

ABL-like technology was first popularized back in the 80’s when President Ronald Reagan initiated studies for the military implementation of what he called a Strategic Defensive Initiative.

Back then, the left tried to ridicule Reagan for this pursuit. They tried to trivialize it by calling it Star Wars and defining it is imaginary capabilities dreamed up by a doddering old fool.

But while doing that, Ronald Reagan used SDI to win the Cold War and he used it to eventually bring about the collapse of the “evil empire”.

The last leader of the former Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev knew that his country could not spare enough of its own money to study SDI and try to compensate for America’s use of such potential technology.  So in arms negotiations with Reagan, Gorbachev agreed to eliminate all of the Soviet empire’s nuclear arsenal if the United States promised to drop SDI.

Reagan said no.

He felt that that SDI was a new approach to the threat of nuclear weapons. It was a defensive tool and as such it posed no threat to anyone. The only offense it could be to our enemies would be the fact that, if it worked, it would render the missiles aimed at us, ineffective.  Since it was not a threat to anyone, Reagan refused to negotiate it away.

The move proved to make it impossible for the Soviet Union to continue its arms race and it ultimately led to the transformation of a new Russia.

Years later SDI technology has continued to prove itself to be quite valuable and its continued development increases our ability to shoot down potential threats to America or allies.

The recent activities of North Korea and their promise to retaliate if the world community places any sanctions against them, helps to demonstrate the need for our increased use of, and study of,  the type of technology that the Defense Secretary is proposing to abandon.

As President Obama returns homes from his tour of Europe and surprise visit to Iraq, I am more convinced than ever that we need to increase funding for capabilities such as ABL.  After President Obama went abroad and promised to stop flexing America’s muscle in favor of going along with what the rest of the world wants, I believe that the ability to shoot down missiles aimed at us will become increasingly crucial to our security.

I believe that President Obama’s policies will do little to discourage our enemies from becoming bullies in their own right. His policies will do little to convince places like North Korea to stop their pursuit of nuclear capabilities or the need to produce rocket systems that can reach America.

His policies will help to increase the need for us to shoot such rockets down. Yet the means to do so is now being scrapped.

So I am glad to finally see our government attempt to cut the budget and to rid itself of a program but this is not the government program to cut.

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THE TOP 10 POLITICAL HAPPENINGS OF 2008

With the new year here, we have the opportunity to reflect on the year gone by and to thank the passage of time for resolving some situations. While some happenings in 2008 came and went, other events of 2008 still require time, time that will absorb much of 2009 and even beyond.

So today, before we forge ahead with the rest of this new year, we reflect on the events that shaped politics and the politics that shaped events, by presenting to you the 10 most significant political stories of the year that helped to get us where we are today.

TONY SNOW

TONY SNOW

10. – THE DEATHS OF TIM RUSSERT and TONY SNOW

TIM RUSSERT

TIM RUSSERT

Both of these men loved politics. For a time they were both involved in politics on different sides of the aisle and during  a different time they covered both sides of the aisle in politics . Tony Snow started in print and broadcast journalism delivering political news and commentary and ended his career in politics as the Press Secretary for President Bush. Tim Russert began in politics working for a political legend, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York and ended covering politics on NBC. As host of Meet The Press, Tim became a part of every American household and despite his personal left leaning tendencies Tim Russert was respected for probing questions that were leveled at liberals and conservatives alike. Tony Snow was also a partisan. For decades he was a favorite in conservative circles, yet when delivering a news story people of every party carefully listened to the insightful delivery of facts that he presented. His last major endeavor was one that helped provide the White House with the ability to properly convey the right messages. Tony served as Press Secretary for 17 months. Probably the most understandable 17 months of the Presidents two terms in office. Tim Russert died after suffering a massive heart attack on Jun 13th at the age of 58 and Tony Snow died after battling colon cancer on July 12th at the age of 53. In life they shaped politics and political opinion. In death, they left us a legacy of lessons and examples to follow.

 

 

FORMER NY GOVERNOR ELLIOT SPITZER

FORMER NY GOVERNOR ELLIOT SPITZER

9 . – IS THAT CAMPAIGN MONEY IN YOUR POCKET OR ARE YOU JUST GLAD TO SEE ME?

 

The Empire State helped to set a tone for 2008 when early in the year, New York’s Governor, Elliot Spitzer got caught up in scandal. After serving only 14 months in office the rising Democrat star found himself standing next to his wife announcing his resignation. Suspicious transfers of money in and out of Spitzer’s bank account led federal investigators to believe that he might be taking bribes. However their probe discovered that for over several years Spitzer wasn’t taking bribes, he was paying out at least $80,000 for prostitutes. The period covered his tenure as New York’s Attorney General as well as his brief time as Governor. The happiest people of all in this episode were David Paterson and New Jersey. As Spitzer’s Lieutenant Governor, Paterson, became New York’s first African American Governor, and the nation’s first legally blind one. New Jersey was just happy to know that they were no longer the only state in the region to lose a governor because of sexual scandals and illegal conduct.

 

 

8. – WEEKEND AT KIM’S

NOT WANTED but is he dead or alive?

NOT WANTED but is he dead or alive?

 

Around August rumors began to circulate that North Korea’s obscure and, to put it kindly, eccentric leader, Kim Jong-Il, was dead. Since then no reputable sources have either seen him or heard from him. Not that that is unusual, few people have ever heard or seen Kim Jong-Il, but what is unusual are recent decisions that Kim Jong-Il supposedly made to eliminate efforts to develop nuclear power. Did Kim make that decision? Is North Korea really abandoning nuclear ambitions? Or is North Korea propping up Kim Jong-Il, like a bad, out of sync, Korean version of “Weekend At Bernie’s” while a different, unknown, brain dead ruler is pulling the strings and, at the same time, trying to pull the wool over our eyes? All jokes aside, the sensitivity of the situation is a dire one. Chaos on the Korean Peninsula could create a ripple effect that no one can afford. Dramatic events could alter sensitive relations with South Korea and negotiations with the United States. All of which could result in tensions throughout the world including those involving hard feelings between North Korea and Japan. And let us not forget North Korea’s greatest ally, China. With their booming economy, the Chinese are ambitious. Knowing who is in charge of things could be helpful in 2009.

 

 

BID WELL TO FIDEL?

BID WELL TO FIDEL?

7. – BID WELL FIDEL?

 

In 1959 Cuba took on the face of Fidel Castro. Just 90 miles off of our shores, Cuban communism and Castro were too close for comfort. As much as we didn’t like it, invasions, coups and even assassination attempts did not eliminate Castro’s hold on power. However, time did reduce Castro’s influence. As time changed most of the world, Castro and Cuba didn’t but the logistics which helped to make him a thorn in our side did change. The, once feared communist Soviet-Cuban relationship lost it’s potency as the Soviet Union lost it’s hammer and sickle. As time went by, our concerns with Cuba focused more on human rights for Cubans than defense from Cuba. So it was still welcome news when, in February, we discovered that an ailing Fidel Castro was resigning from office. Not that it mattered much. Before stepping down, Fidel told the Cuban Communist Party that they were too elect his brother Raul to be the new Commander in Chief. The event did not change things very much but after almost 50 years in power, and events such as the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Elian Gonzales and other disconcerting situations, as minor as the effects of this change may be, Fidel’s painstakingly slow departure from the world stage is welcomed and ranks as the seventh most dramatic political occurrence of 2008.

 

 ant1georgis1a2

6. – THE GEOGIAN-RUSSIAN WAR

 

It was not a battle that reshaped Europe again but the surprising developments that caused the Russian Army to invade a neighboring, breakaway Republic with internationally recognized sovereignty, gave us all a glimpse of reality. It may not be the Soviet Union anymore but a bear by any other name is still a bear and the vulnerabilities of newly formed and reformed European nations and those with relatively new freedoms still offer some new Russian leaders the same old reasons for wanting control. The incident helped to demonstrate that freedom in parts of Europe is still a fragile concept.

 

 

ROD "How much do 'ya want" BLAGOJEVICH

ROD "How much do 'ya want" BLAGOJEVICH

5. – THE EBAY APPOINTMENT

 

2008 ended with a story that will carry well into the first months of 2009. As President-Elect Obama vacated his seat in the U.S. Senate, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich began a private auction process to determine who will fill the vacancy. As investigators, under the direction of federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, investigated Blagojevich for numerous improprieties, they discovered that he was basing his appointment to the senate seat on who could give him the most for it. Blago wanted either a “cushy union” job, a high paying cabinet position or at the very least an enormous financial campaign contribution. After being arrested the Illinois state legislature began impeachment proceedings against Blagojevich and he began digging in his heals refusing to resign. The events have the potential for drawing in some big name co-conspirators and participants. From Rep. Jesse Jackson, jr. to President -Elect Obama’s incoming Chief of Staff, Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuelle, many reputations may yet be questioned in this scandal. And to make things even more interesting, Blagojevich took the opportunity to raise the stakes and named Roland Burris, a long time, old line, liberal Chicago Democrat party machine hack to replace Barack Obama. Not at all concerned with peoples faith in government, or the integrity of the process, Burriss accepted the tainted appointment and in doing so, puts the United States and it’s Democrat leader, Harry Reid in the position of denying to seat someone that would be the only African American in the United States Senate. So coming in as the fifth top political occurrence in 2008 is the story that will keep on bleeding and keep us reading…..the process to replace a Barack Obama in the senate.

 

 

4. – BRINGING OUTSIDERS IN

GOVERNOR SARAH PALIN

GOVERNOR SARAH PALIN

 

One of the most important political decisions made in 2008 was John McCain’s selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin for Vice President on the Republican ticket. It was a controversial choice for some and one of the only right decisions made in the opinions of others. No matter how you see it, it remains one of the most spoken about political stories of the year. Beyond the newsworthiness are the implications. For many it was a sign of the fact that government needs thinking that is as far removed from the Washington D.C. mentality as Alaska is from Washington D.C itself. Many Americans are tired of Washington politics and want common sense as opposed to the one hand washes the other, old boys bureaucracy that we perceive as screwing us more than helping us. Sarah Palin embodied, and still does embody, that thinking. She is a political outsider who became a Governor by opposing the political class while representing the working class. Without abandoning conservative Republican principles, Sarah Palin fought against corrupt Republican and liberal politicians. Although picking Sarah Palin for Vice President may have been the right decision for John McCain, trying to restrict and control her wasn’t. By trying to script Sarah Palin, the McCain campaign lost out on the greatest advantageous quality Palin brought to the ticket…….her anti-establishment, outsider qualities. As McCain lost the election for President, Sarh Palin won exposure. Exposure that has made her a person who conservatives look forward to advancing the cause and for Americans to have to consider for national leadership in the future. So at number four in 2008 is the selection of Sarah Palin for Vice President. Thank you senator McCain!

 

 

ant1oil23. – “OILS WELL” IN THE ECONOMY?

 

The price of oil ranks third on our list of top stories. As prices for a barrel of oil soared to heights in excess of 150 dollars a barrel , gas prices flew up to over 4 dollars a gallon and the ripple effects raise the cost of everything from milk, eggs and bread to lumber, air fares, and life in general. The high cost of energy generated heated debates over domestic oil drilling, and pushed issues like immigration and terrorism off of the front burners in the race for President. Based upon the duration of the immediate negative effects of the price of oil combined with its ripple effects on the economy, its control of the political agenda and the long term policy initiatives that it created, oil prices is number 3 in ‘08. It is also likely to become a top story again, at least around August of ‘09, when the now delightfully low prices we see rise back up.

 

 

2. – THE ELECTION OF BARACK OBAMA

PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA

PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA

 

Putting all political opinion aside, Barack Obama ran a long hard campaign, that Republican strategists are dissecting in order to reproduce in elections of their own. The Obama campaign not only effectively tapped into voter dissatisfaction, they organized it and organized it well. Their utilization of the internet was exemplary and their ability to win favor through eloquence and style over substance and fact was done to political perfection. Despite some pitfalls such as Bill Ayers, ACORN, Rev. Wright, admitting a desire akin to socialism by stating that he wanted to spread the wealth, Barack Obama won big. To do so his campaign raised historic amounts of money and more than just raising that money, they spent it right and put it to good use. A use that mobilized the forces well enough to produce his substantial victory. The election of President-Elect Barack Obama comes in second not only because of how he won but because he did win. His victory marked the election of America’s first African American President. Like any other first, it is notable and in this case it is profoundly notable. It demonstrates an undeniable ability for our nation to overcome racial differences and the evidence of decency overcoming prejudice is promising. The effects of President-Elect Obama’s leadership are yet to be seen but the lessons learned and points made by his election are unquestionable.

 

 

ant1bailout21 . – BAIL OUT MANIA

 

POLITICS 24/7 considers the 700 billion dollar bailout that the federal government approved to be the most profound and important story of 2009. Not only was the suggested need for this bailout indicative of our wrong ways of the past, it signaled a continuation of wrong ways in the future. Our promotion of spending as the answer to all of our problems has created generations ands a government that spend beyond our means. The 700 billion dollar bailout meant to solve our problems didn’t solve our anything, it just provided a quick fix. It did however, create more problems. It has called upon more people and more industries to put their own hands out. The bailout set in motion a sense of government control that has taken freedom, with all of it’s risks and promises, out of the free market and it has helped to move America closer to the socialism that we have fought against in the past. Many major events come and go in politics. What we once saw as earth shattering developments often become something that we later laugh about but we fear that bailout trend established in 2008 is no laughing matter for any time.

 

2008 was an intense year. There were many events and some of the most dramatic ones did not involve politics. Human nature played a role in all of them though and hopefully our better instincts will drive the events and politics of 2009.

With that in mind we wish everyone a happy new year and hope that our better instincts help to make each and every day better than the last.

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