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FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, June 25, 2008


By John Hinderaker

The Democrats, desperate to distract attention from the fact that they have no energy policy, have dredged up an old favorite--price gouging! Today they took out of mothballs the "Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act," which died in the House last year. This gave them the opportunity to vote against something that sounds bad without actually doing any damage, since the proposal once again failed to get the 2/3 vote it needed to advance.

You well might wonder what the statute purports to make illegal. Here are the key provisions:

(1) IN GENERAL- It shall be unlawful for any person to sell, at wholesale or at retail in an area and during a period of an energy emergency, gasoline or any other petroleum distillate covered by a proclamation issued under paragraph (2) at a price that--

(A) is unconscionably excessive; and

(B) indicates the seller is taking unfair advantage of the circumstances related to an energy emergency to increase prices unreasonably.

Got that? Next question is, how do we know when a price is "unconscionably excessive," "unfair" and "unreasonable?" Read on:

(3) FACTORS CONSIDERED- In determining whether a person has violated paragraph (1), there shall be taken into account, among other factors--

(A) whether the amount charged by such person for the applicable gasoline or other petroleum distillate at a particular location in an area covered by a proclamation issued under paragraph (2) during the period such proclamation is in effect--

(i) grossly exceeds the average price at which the applicable gasoline or other petroleum distillate was offered for sale by that person during the 30 days prior to such proclamation;

(ii) grossly exceeds the price at which the same or similar gasoline or other petroleum distillate was readily obtainable in the same area from other competing sellers during the same period;

(iii) reasonably reflected additional costs, not within the control of that person, that were paid, incurred, or reasonably anticipated by that person, or reflected additional risks taken by that person to produce, distribute, obtain, or sell such product under the circumstances; and

(iv) was substantially attributable to local, regional, national, or international market conditions; and

(B) whether the quantity of gasoline or other petroleum distillate the person produced, distributed, or sold in an area covered by a proclamation issued under paragraph (2) during a 30-day period following the issuance of such proclamation increased over the quantity that that person produced, distributed, or sold during the 30 days prior to such proclamation, taking into account usual seasonal demand variations.

Note how dumb these factors are. Have you ever seen a guy who owns a gas station price his gasoline at a level that "grossly exceeds" the price being charged by competitors whose product is "readily available in the same area?" Like, for example, the station across the street? That isn't a crime, it's economic suicide.

These days, of course, the gas stations are charging more for gasoline because they have to pay more for it. They are responding to "local, regional, national, [and] international market conditions." The problem is that the price of crude oil his risen rapidly. American oil companies are tiny compared to their international competitors, and they control hardly any crude oil due to Congressional prohibitions on drilling. So they have to pay the going rate. (Exxon Mobil, for example, buys 90% of the oil it refines for use in the United States from foreign oil companies.) So, sad to say, there isn't any "price gouging" going on.

The Democrats know this, but in the absence of a coherent policy they can think of nothing better to do than come out, ineffectively, against an "evil" that doesn't exist.  Tuesday, June 24, 2008




By Bob Gorrell




By Charles Johnson

I never thought I’d say this, but it’s true; the official web site of a presidential candidate has now become one of the best places on the web for high-quality ranting lunacy, fully the equal of any raging craziness you’ll find at Daily Kos or Democratic Underground.

This blog has been posted since April 8th, by “Curtis ByThePeopleForThePeopleOfThePeople:” Barack Obama : : Change We Can Believe In | Curtis Abbey’s Blog: Petraeus makes me so angry (and sad).

Petraeus makes me so angry (and sad)
By Curtis ByThePeopleForThePeopleOfThePeople - Apr 8th, 2008 at 1:09 pm EDT
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Who is the greatest American war criminal of them all? Petraeus, Bush, Cheney, or Rumsfeld? I’m gonna have to go with Bush. He’s ultimately responsible for what the other two retards are saying. Here’s a fact for you morons. THE SURGE IS NOT WORKING!!!!

The only reason you have relative peace (compared to the kill counts pre-surge) is because you are bribing people not to kill you!!! Here’s two options: The Iraqi patriots aren’t killing as many infidel American troops because a: There’s 15% more infidels now than before or b: The infidels are paying the patriots millions of dollars. I’m gonna f***** go with B. I don’t think there’s a single Iraqi patriot out there that said, wow there’s 15% more of them out there, let’s stop defending our religiously sacred homeland now. If anything the surge is working because if you kill enough Iraqi patriots then there will be less people trying to kill American infidels. Do the math. 1,000,000+ Iraqi dead, 3,000,000+ Iraqis who have fled the country. That looks like 4M less Iraqi patriots. Gee could that be why there have been percentage points less violence?

Who knew these warmonger generals were math guys? S*** I don’t think Bush has used math since the last time he had to figure out how many lines to split an 8 ball up into. Let’s f***** forget about this election in November, and talk seriously about what these warmonger thieves are doing RIGHT F****** NOW!!!


F*** this “Christian” movement. You think Jesus would be interested in any of this BULLS***? I don’t think so. Jesus wasn’t a shock and awe guy. He was a love your brother guy. And the Iraqis are your brothers too. If you weren’t so deeply racist and hateful and scared, that would be obvious. It is not too late for articles of impeachment.

Moving right along, here’s another class-A freakazoid, with a strange paranoid rant about the CIA and the State Department and the FBI and the ... mmm ... glavin! Barack Obama : : Change We Can Believe In | geral sosbee’s Blog: COLLAPSE OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

By Geral from Harlingen, TX - May 29th, 2008 at 2:56 pm EDT
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The Responsibility For The Collapse Of The USA

The present task is to identify agencies and *individuals of the USA government who are responsible for the collapse of the constitutional democracy and the simultaneous formation of the current totalitarian state here. As may be expected the criminals and the terrorists of the two premier homicidal groups (i.e.: the fbi/cia) are also the spearheads of the nation’s global intel operations, both overt and covert.** Other intel groups take orders (either directly or indirectly ) from the fbi and the cia.

Due to the corruption, incompetence and outright felonious mindset of the members of the fbi/cia, all of the other intel arms of the USA government are unable to protect the country from the mounting threats by persons and countries who seek to stop this nation’s assault on Humanity. The reason for the national intel failure, therefore , can be directly attributable to the fbi/cia and their foolish congressional and presidential Handlers. As a result of this website and (www.sosbeevfbi.com) I have learned that the following intel groups study my material sometime in an apparent effort to comprehend why the fbi would attempt to frame (or neutralize) one of their own...

Cue Twilight Zone theme.  Tuesday, June 24, 2008




By Michael Ramirez



US special operations forces scored a major victory in Mosul today. US forces killed al Qaeda's emir, or leader, of the northern Iraq city during a raid on a safe house.

The emir, who has not been named, was killed after a special operations forces team from Task Force 88, the hunter-killer teams assigned to take down terrorists in Iraq, stormed a building in Mosul. The commandos opened fire after one of the terrorists attempted to detonate his suicide vest was shot and another reached for a pistol. A woman with the group attempted to detonate the vest on the dead al Qaeda operative.

The takedown of al Qaeda's emir in Mosul is the latest blow to the terror network in the North. Over the weekend, the emir of eastern Mosul and the leader of car-bombing operations in western half of the city were detained. On June 20, Coalition forces detained al Qaeda's security emir in Mosul. His predecessor was captured just two months prior, and his predecessor was captured in February.

On June 17, Iraqi security forces captured a senior cell leader for the Islamic State of Iraq, an al Qaeda's front group created to put an Iraqi face on the network. On June 11, Coalition forces captured the leader of al Qaeda's illegal court system in the city.

Scores of cell leaders, facilitators, weapons smugglers, and fighters have been captured or killed by US and Iraqi forces during operations in June.

In mid-May, Iraqi forces captured the leader of al Qaeda's network in Ninewa province. In February and March, US and Iraqi forces killed three senior Saudi-born al Qaeda leaders in the city.

Multinational Forces Iraq has zeroed in on al Qaeda in Iraq's network after operatives attempted to reorganize in the northern city. Al Qaeda last year suffered major defeats in Anbar province, Baghdad, and the surrounding regions.

Fourteen of the 30 senior-most al Qaeda operatives identified as killed or captured by Multinational Forces Iraq between February and May hailed from Mosul.  Tuesday, June 24, 2008




By Allahpundit

Gallup has it 46/43 today and Rasmussen has it 46/40, and we’ve got the same lopsided sample here that we had in that 15-point Newsweek spread last week — 39/22/27 among Democrats, Republicans, and independents, respectively. Even so, the LAT’s sample was random, and even Gallup concedes that Dems now lead the GOP 50/36 in party identification. We keep dismissing these polls where the leftist contingent vastly outnumbers the right, but, er, should we? Electoral reality is what it is these days, after all.

Here are the crosstabs. The good news for Maverick: A la last week’s Fox News poll, he still does well with independents on various issues — but not, notably, on the economy, where he trails Obama among indies by nine points and by 21 points overall. And then there’s this. Top is Obama’s enthusiasm metric, bottom is McCain’s:



That’s in line with what we’ve seen elsewhere. And if you don’t think it matters, compare the data in questions 3 and 4, in a two-man race versus a race with Bob Barr and Ralph Nader. Obama loses three points among independents in a four-man contest while McCain loses eightTuesday, June 24, 2008




By Paul Mirengoff

When Jimmy Carter ran for president in 1976, he promised a foreign policy that would reflect the basic decency of the American people. In practice, that meant a foreign policy designed to project far less American power and influence than we had done throughout the heroic Cold War years. Thus, the U.S. remained indifferent when Iran, a key ally in the Middle East, faced the prospect and then the reality of being taken over by fanatically anti-American Islamic extremists. We reacted with similar indifference to the establishment of a Communist dicatorship in Central America. And when the Soviet Union promised Carter it would not invade Afghanistan, its word was good enough for our oh-so-decent president.

Ronald Reagan's foreign policy successes seemed to vanquish the notion that too much U.S. power and influence was a bad thing for the world, much less the U.S. That notion, implausible on its face, became impossible to defend when our lack of abnegation seemed to produce a victorious end to the Cold War.

Yet domestic policies pursued by Jimmy Carter now threaten partially to re-impose Carter's foreign policy vision of a diminished United States. For it was mostly in the Carter presidency (the years of sweater-wearing and ceiling fans) that the U.S. began systematically to deny itself access to domestic sources of energy. More than 30 years later, with the soaring price of oil creating perhaps the largest transfer of wealth in the history of the world, that lack of access makes it increasingly more difficult for us to project power and influence on the world stage. And, predictably, it is nations with interests sharply divergent from our own -- e.g., Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Iran -- that are filling the void (Venezuela is a special case; few expected this this country to become the next Cuba, though one should never be surprised when a country with massive new wealth becomes belligerent).

In Europe, Russia, flush with new wealth and now a major oil supplier, is increasingly able to counter-balance U.S. influence. In the Middle East, our leverage with Saudi Arabia is in jeopardy due not only to our dependence on Saudi oil, but also the ability of the Saudis to sell their oil to China and India. More generally, the U.S. is seen as weakened, and objectively our economy is now weaker, due to its lack of status in the great global oil game.

Carter, of course, does not bear all of the blame. Republicans have had substantial power since 1980 and were never able (and not always even willing) to promote oil drilling in the U.S. or the use of nuclear power. Carter stands out at least as much for his eagerness to see the U.S. diminished as for his responsibility for bringing this about through bad energy policies.

More than 30 years of neglect cannot quickly be overcome. But the signal we would send by reversing our policies on drilling and nuclear energy would be unmistakable. History shows that when the U.S. plays, it usually wins eventually. It would be extremely salutary if the rest of the world came to believe that we are back, in a serious way, in the energy producing game.


By John Hinderaker

One of the liberals' favorite antidotes to high gas prices is public transportation. If we would only ride buses and subways, they say, we'd barely notice $4 a gallon prices. Besides, there is something about seeing people crammed together in equal discomfort on public transportation that liberals just like.

It's true, of course, that mass transit can reduce gas consumption. But today, House Republicans noted a startling statistic. The total amount of gasoline that is being saved by Americans riding buses, subways and trains is 1.4 billion gallons a year. (This figure is being trumpeted around Capitol Hill by the American Public Transportation Association.) Sound like a lot of gasoline? It is--around 91,000 barrels of oil per day.

But drilling in ANWR will produce eleven times as much gasoline as the total that is saved by all forms off mass transit, combined. There is enough petroleum in ANWR to produce a million barrels of oil a day for 30 years. At today's prices, that would reduce the payments we make to foreign governments and their captive oil companies by around $1 trillion.

So what are we waiting for?  Tuesday, June 24, 2008




By Charles Johnson

Our pals in Saudi Arabia and the other Islamic nations that make up the world’s biggest organization of whiny crybabies are really pushing the “Islamophobia” hoax, in order to criminalize free speech in any Western nation gullible enough to fall for it.

Luckily, Denmark isn’t one; Danish courts rejected a suit against Jyllands-Posten by an Islamic front group, over the dreaded cartoons of blasphemy.

And this sets the crybabies off, of course.

The Saudi-based OIC, the largest grouping of Muslim countries, said the ruling could encourage “Islamophobia”, a fear or dislike of Islam, which the group has identified as existing in the West.

“The Danish ruling came as a surprise to the OIC at a time when almost all Western governments including the USA had made categorical statements rejecting any linkage between Islam and terrorism,” the OIC said.

“The linkage drawn by the Danish court ... could create a precedent for exacerbation of Islamophobia.”

Many Muslims regard depictions of the Prophet as blasphemous. The Islamic Faith Society, one of the groups that brought the lawsuit against the Danish newspaper, said it might take its case to the European Court of Human Rights.


By Charles Johnson

One of the four Muslims indicted in that plot to attack Jewish and US military locations in Southern California has been sentenced to 22 years.

SANTA ANA – A Muslim convert and former prison inmate was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison Monday for conspiring to wage war on the United States – including plotting terrorist attacks on local military sites and Jewish centers and synagogues – in a plan one prosecutor said was intended to “kill as many people as possible.”

Levar Haley Washington, 30, of Los Angeles, pleaded guilty in December to being part of a domestic terrorist ring run from a California prison.

Authorities say the four men in Jami’yyat Ul-Islam Is-Shaheeh, or JIS, wanted make a political statement by killing civilians at local temples during Jewish holidays and attacking military bases, and had plans to attack the Israeli consultate in Los Angeles and El Al Israel Airlines at LAX.

Previously at LGF:
’We Are Only Servants of Allah’
Islamic Convert Had Military Sites List
Islamic Converts Had ‘Jihadist’ Materials


By Charles Johnson

Well, I gave them three days, but somehow the Palestinians managed to go five whole days without attempting to commit murder. Must have nearly killed them.

To al-Reuters, though, the truce is only “shaken:” Gaza truce shaken by rocket fire, killings in WBank.

GAZA (Reuters) - Militants in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip fired several rockets into southern Israel on Tuesday, breaching a five-day-old ceasefire after Israeli troops killed two Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

“This is a blatant violation of the calm, and we will weigh options,” an aide quoted Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as saying after the rockets struck.  Tuesday, June 24, 2008




By Scott Johnson

The New York Times maintains a uniformity of thought on the American effort in Iraq that suppresses reports of contrary views and encourages expression of the approved point of view even in unlikely and inappropriate places. Thus Richard Holbrooke concludes his review of a new book on the Cuban missile crisis by Michael Dobbs in the Times Book Review this past Sunday with a jibe at the Bush administration's handling of Iraq by contrast with JFK's management of the Cuban missile crisis:

Life does not offer us a chance to play out alternative history, but it is not unreasonable to assume that the team that invaded Iraq would have attacked Cuba. And if Dobbs is right, Cuba and the Soviet Union would have fought back, perhaps launching some of the missiles already in place. One can only conclude that our nation was extremely fortunate to have had John F. Kennedy as president in October 1962. Like all presidents, he made his share of mistakes, but when the stakes were the highest imaginable, he rose to the occasion like no other president in the last 60 years — defining his goal clearly and then, against the demands of hawks within his administration, searching skillfully for a peaceful way to achieve it.
Holbrooke of course fails to observe that there would not have been a Cuban missile crisis if Kennedy's pathetic performance in one foreign policy situation after another hadn't caused Khruschev to conclude the United States was led by an inexperienced weakling who was susceptible to bullying. One can draw a direct line from the Bay of Pigs fiasco, to Kennedy's disastrous summit with Khrushchev in Vienna, to Khrushchev's installation of the Berlin Wall, to the Cuban missile crisis. It has taken a sustained effort by the Kennedy family and its courtiers over decades to make Kennedy's performance on the world stage seem impressive.

Holbrooke himself served as a high diplomatic officer in the administrations of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. We live with the consequences of the weakness of both the Carter and Clinton administrations in failing to protect the interests of the United States abroad. Carter of course assidulously undermined the Shah of Iran and facilitated the empowerment of Ayatollah Khomeni. He then reacted to the taking of American hostages in Tehran with a long period of hand-wringing followed by the fiasco at Desert One. The Islamic Republic of Iran now presents the most formidable foreign policy challenge to the United States.

Bill Clinton tacitly promulgated a strange foreign policy doctrine regarding the use of Ameircan power. He believed in the assertion of American power, but only if no American national interest was at stake. The first World Trade Center attack, Saddam Hussein's assassination attempt on President Bush (41), the discovery of al Qaeda's Operation Bojinka, the bombing of Khobar Towers, the attack on the USS Cole, all elicited the occasional indictment or empty military gesture. Nothing more.

Osama bin Laden concluded, on the basis of substantial evidence, that the United States was a "weak horse." One can only wonder if bin Laden miscalculated with the 9/11 attacks, thinking he was still dealing with the likes of Bill Clinton, not understanding that George Bush would respond in a serious way. Bin Laden didn't figure he'd be spending his remaining days holed up in a cave. In George Bush he found the tough customer for whom he hadn't bargained.

With the United States standing on the verge of victory in Iraq, Holbrooke continues to portray our efforts as a disaster akin to the onset of World War I. In August 2006, he invoked "The Guns of August" to berate Bush, celebrating "13 days of brilliant diplomacy" by JFK in the Cuban missile crisis. His effusion in the Times Book Review this past Sunday is more of the same, larded with the standard Democratic talking point on Iraq. What is happening here?

It must be very strange to be Richard Holbrooke. He has positioned himself to assume what he believes is his rightful place as the Secretary of State for putative Democratic presidents, first for Al Gore and most recently for Hillary Clinton. This time Holbrooke miscalculated in placing his chips on Clinton. With President Obama on the horizon, dedicated to presenting himself as the next JFK, Holbrooke makes his move.


By Paul Mirengoff

Joe Klein asserts that "the fact that a great many Jewish neoconservatives—people like Joe Lieberman and the crowd over at Commentary—plumped for [the Iraq] war. . .raised the question of divided loyalties: using U.S. military power, U.S. lives and money, to make the world safe for Israel." Although Klein uses the passive voice (the question was "raised"), the fact that he now raises it so starkly strongly suggests that he believes the charge is a serious one.

It is not. It is instead (as Peter Wehner says) "an ugly smear, one that ignores, among other things, the vast non-Jewish and non-neoconservative support for the Iraq war." For example, as Wehner goes on to note, "the use of force resolution passed with 77 votes in the Senate – the overwhelming majority of which were cast by non-Jews and non-neoconservatives."

Klein's smear also ignores the absence of evidence that Israel favored the U.S. taking military action Iraq. In fact, the best evidence is that Israel did not favor such action. This was because it did not consider Iraq very threatening to Israel, and thought that a war in Iraq would divert attention from Iran. Instead of persuading the Bush administration to go to war with Iraq, it appears that the Bush administration had to persuade the Israelis to support that war.

Primary Colors was an entertaining book, and Klein certainly knows a thing or two about politics. But it's never quite been clear why Klein should be taken seriously when it comes to policy matters or a serious account of historical events. And with today's smear, it seems increasingly clear that he should not be.

UPDATE: Klein's post also manages to misread both President Bush and David Brooks. Klein attributes the fact that Bush (unlike Klein himself) got it right on the surge to the fact that Bush is stubborn, rather than astute. But there's an obvious problem with this account -- mere stubbornness was more likely to make Bush unwilling to abandon his unsuccessful strategy than to induce him to change course.

Klein attributes his Bush-bashing analysis to David Brooks. But Brooks, of course, is far more nuanced than Klein, and thus is able to avoid Klein's counter-intuitive judgment that stubbornness alone, and not good judgment, caused Bush to change policy. Brooks sees the president's stubbornness as a factor, inasmuch as Bush refused to fail in Iraq. But he adds that "Bush made a courageous and astute decision in 2006" when he opted for the surge. From Klein, there is no such acknowledgement.

Being stubborn could have produced either of two results, staying the course or surging; the only option it ruled out was giving up. Brooks is correct that a combination of courage and astuteness caused Bush to make what has proven to be the correct choice among the two options on his table.  Tuesday, June 24, 2008




By Ed Morrissey

Newsweek’s Andrew Romano notes that Obama now has room under the bus for objects as well as people:

Once, Barack Obama only threw people “under the bus“–Samantha “Monster” Power, for example, or Jim “Countrywide” Johnson. But that got boring. So now he’s moved on to symbolic objects.

The Obamanation Great Seal, along with Vero Possumus, has taken its place under the wheels of the Obama bus along with old friends like Jeremiah Wright and Michael Pfleger — but not, oddly, William Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, or Eric Holder.  It’s this week’s victim for Bus & Driver, the continuing game show consisting of rejected people and themes of the Obama campaign.

But why did Team Obama decide to club this baby seal?  Apparently, even their tone-deaf ears could hear the laughter, derision, and dismay of the national media:

What happened? Apparently, the critics got their way. “The Latin inscription “vero possumus”… made me think of opossum,” wrote Frank James of the Chicago Tribune on Friday. “It’s emblematic of all that is wrong with the Obama campaign,” added Bonnie Erbe of U.S. News and World Report. “Presumptuousness, self-aggrandizement in lieu of substance, unadulterated hunger for power and social climbing.” “Looked like Gilbert and Sullivan to me,” quipped a commenter at Politico. And so the seal–not, it seems, the very model of a modern general-election tactic–was slaughtered.

What did this really say about the Obama campaign?  Some pundits claim it means nothing, but as anyone in advertising will tell you, symbology usually speaks louder than words.  This Great Seal exposed Obama for at least the second time as someone who thinks mightly well about himself, or perhaps someone who believes that he has to project himself as larger than life in order to compensate for something — a lack of experience and a track record, in all likelihood.  It looked almost like a self-coronation, and of a kind a college student might draw for himself in a student-body election.

Most of us outgrow both the need and the impulse for that kind of symbology.


By Ed Morrissey

Most people who read Hot Air already know this, but this still surprises drivers.  WPTY in Memphis reports on its own research on the effects of ethanol blends in contemporary cars, and catches some drivers at the pump reacting to the fact that they’ll pay more for less energy:

Supporters of ethanol use say it’s a cheaper, cleaner burning fuel. They claim the 10% blend has virtually no impact on fuel efficiency, but some mechanics disagree.

“It’s about 4-5% based on the numbers,” says Mark Block, owner of Block Automotive in Cordova.

Block says it’s simple science. He says a car must burn more ethanol to create the same energy as gasoline. So if you remove 10% pure gasoline and replace it with ethanol, the fuel won’t burn the same.

It’s not quite as simple as WPTY puts it, but it’s close. Ethanol contains about two-thirds of the potential energy of gasoline, which means one has to use about 50% more to get the same power as gas. Blending more ethanol into gasoline makes it less efficient, which means cars have to burn more of the blend than with straight gas to drive the same distance under the same conditions.

This doesn’t account for the varying efficiencies of ethanol varieties, either. Corn ethanol only produces a 2:1 ratio of potential energy to energy required to produce it, and transportation is much less efficient than with gasoline. Subsidies for farmers and rising food prices make corn ethanol more costly than ever. Cane-sugar ethanol can be grown cheaply and has an 8:1 return on production energy, but the US puts trade tariffs on cane-sugar ethanol while subsidizing corn farmers.

Democrats like Barack Obama like to say we can’t drill our way out of an energy crisis, but we certainly can do that, especially in the short term. What the rapid increase in food prices shows us, based on corn shortages, is that we cannot grow our way out of the energy crisis. We need realistic alternatives, not expensive and inefficient replacements that we can’t produce in amounts anywhere near impact levels. Anyone who says differently has their own power shortage.


By Ed Morrissey

This sounds like one of those conundrums in which a mother-in-law, a new Cadillac, and a high cliff play prominent roles.  The Iranians have quietly received Western aid for their successful opium-interdiction efforts that keep Afghan heroin off the streets of Europe and the US, despite the hostility in other areas of the Iranian-Western standoff.  The program has succeeded in stopping most of the heroin at the Iranian border through an intricate series of barriers and natural defenses that traps the smugglers and puts them in the hands of a rather unpleasant security force.

Now, however, the Western nations who have contributed funds and technology (the US is not among them) have decided to make their support contingent on Tehran ending their uranium enrichment — which has some wondering who will be hardest hit by a collapse in the Iranian interdiction efforts:

The incentive package has been widely endorsed as a way out of the impasse. But adding the drug battle to the mix could be counter-productive, some U.N. officials say.

A “heroin tsunami” could hit Europe if the drug interdiction by Iran is weakened, warned Antonio Maria Costa, the director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.

And it may also impact another theater in the war on terror:

Taliban fighters help finance their battles by taxing Afghanistan’s opium farmers, whose poppies provide the raw material for heroin. The West has had little success reducing the huge opium crop in southern Afghanistan where the Taliban is strongest.

Overall opium production in Afghanistan has more than doubled in the last four years — and smuggling the drug into Iran is the first step toward reaching Western markets. Afghanistan produced 93% of the world’s opium last year, and about 50% of the drugs leaving the country flowed through Iran, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime says.

So do we fight the war on terror by supporting Iranian interdiction, which starves the Taliban but gives the Iranians extra resources to conduct a fight they’d likely continue without us?  Or do we force a stronger sanction on Tehran, but at the same time help flood heroin into Western cities and enrich the terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

I’d say the former.  We cannot allow al-Qaeda and the Taliban to exploit that kind of cash flow while we’re in a hot war with them.  Protecting our servicement in Afghanistan has to take the higher priority — but it’s not an easy call, especially since we’re not participating in the program at all due to our own sanctions.  Tuesday, June 24, 2008



Map of Paktia province. Click to view.

Afghan police backed by US air support held off a Taliban attempt to overrun a district center in eastern Afghanistan. At least 16 Taliban were reported killed after US air support was called in.

A large Taliban force made up of Afghan, Arab, and Chechen fighters attacked the Sayad Karam District Center in Paktia province in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday morning. Afghan police assigned to protect the outpost held off the initial Taliban assault, and called for US assistance for US reinforcements.

US troops arrived and immediately called in air support. "Approximately a dozen extremists" were killed, said Combined Joint Task Force - 101. Afghan defense officials put the number at 16 Taliban killed.

Paktia province borders the Pakistani tribal agency of Kurram, where the Lashkar-e-Jhangavi, a Deobandi group funded by Saudi Wahabis, preys upon Shia living in the region. Lashkar-e-Jhangavi has merged with al Qaeda and serves as the group's muscle in Pakistan.

Paktia also borders Khost province to the west. Khost borders Pakistan's lawless tribal agency of North Waziristan. The Haqqani family, which is allied with the Taliban and al Qaeda, run the tribal agency and conduct operations in eastern Afghanistan. Siraj Haqqani, the son of Taliban leader Jalaluddin Haqqani, has close ties to Osama bin Laden and is one of the most wanted terrorists in Afghanistan.

Today's attack in Paktia is the second large-scale, coordinated ground attack by the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan in four days. On June 20, US and Afghan forces killed 55 Taliban and wounded another 25 during a massed attack on a patrol in neighboring Paktika province. On June 21, six rockets and mortars were fired from North Waziristan into Paktika province, killing one Afghan woman and three children. The attacks in Paktika occurred along a known Taliban infiltration route from North Waziristan.

Attacks in eastern Afghanistan are up by 40 percent this year when compared to 2007, said Major General Jeffrey Schloesser during a briefing at the Pentagon. Yesterday, Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said three additional combat brigades are needed to fight the Taliban and train Afghanistan forces.  Tuesday, June 24, 2008


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