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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Consequences if Pentagon/White House Attacks Iran

There is serious consideration in the Pentagon and White House to launch an attack on Iran before President Bush leaves office – only 9 months from now -- in an effort to take out Iran’s nuclear program before the next President assumes office. A Washington Post article today confirms the planning. What would be the result of a U.S. attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities?

It’s happened before. Recently, Israeli fighter aircraft bombed a facility in Syria last September that was thought to be a copy of a North Korean nuclear reactor. Syria raised no verbal objections. In 1981, Israeli aircraft bombed Saddam’s Osiraq reactor near Baghdad.

But hitting Iran would have vastly different and extremely negative consequences for both the United States and the Middle East, despite the statements by Mr. Bush and Ms. Clinton who think the problem will be solved with bombs instead of international pressure and diplomacy.

According to a study by the Oxford Research Group, which accurately predicted the consequences of invading Iraq: “A US military attack on Iranian nuclear infrastructure would be the start of a protracted military confrontation that would probably involve Iraq, Israel and Lebanon as well as the United States and Iran, with the possibility of west Gulf States being involved as well. An attack by Israel, although initially on a smaller scale, would almost certainly escalate to involve the United States, and would also mark the start of a protracted conflict.”

Oxford thinks that the attack, either by Israeli or U.S. fighters, would be primarily an air attack without ground troops (since we don’t have another 150,000 troops needed for a third front in Iran.) Targets would be Iran’s nuclear facilities and defense systems. Iran could immediately strike back with its Mach 2 anti-ship “Sunburn” missile that could destroy an American aircraft carrier with 5,000 people onboard or a tanker -- in seconds. In 1987, A French Exocet hit the USS Stark in the Gulf, killing 37. The Sunburn is twice as fast and can carry a nuclear warhead.

The Oxford Group says “all the available evidence suggests that any military action (against Iran) would have a very powerful unifying effect within Iran…increasing both its political power base and its stability. It would lead to Iran attacking tanker traffic and conducting sabotage in the Persian Gulf states of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (then watch oil prices make $100 barrel oil look like the “good old days.”) Moreover, Iran would be likely to encourage more militant action by Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon against Israel.

“Given the nature of the Iran/Iraq border, Iran would be in a very strong position to aid elements of the Iraqi insurgency in numerous ways, providing a wide range of armaments as well as personnel.” Iran could open a major new front in Iraq with millions of Shiite soldiers who could enter the contest. And, Oxford thinks the Iranians will quickly rebuild their nuclear program, so the strike would not stop the program, only delay it.

Iran has powerful allies that could make a strike on Iran into a global conflict. “Given recent major long-term economic agreements between Iran and China, and also between Iran and India, as well as close links with Russia, a US attack would attract major criticisms, including from two of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – China and Russia.” Both are major nuclear military powers. And don’t forget we’ll need the Russian Soyuz to get to the International Space Station since our three Shuttles become museum pieces in 2010.

“Although there is an uneasy relationship between Shiite Iran and the (Sunni) al-Qaida movement, and between Iran and the Arab world, any attack on such a significant Islamic republic would inevitably increase the anti-American mood in the region,” says Oxford. “Suicide bombings will spread…” and will potentially reach America as a result of the increased tension.

As Russia, India and China continue to build powerful economies based on trade surpluses and profitable business, the U.S will be drained even further by trillions in (borrowed) new military expenditures in blood and treasure if it embarks on a new war with Iran. Watch Iraq explode as a result.

The gross incompetence in handling Iraq, Katrina, etc. (and confirmed by Sen. McCain) should be enough evidence for Congress to prohibit this President from creating greater damage in his closing days in power by launching another fiscally draining, misguided, poorly-planned war that will only make a bad situation worse.

Congress should pass a law that there be no military action against Iran until a new President takes over in January 2009 since that President will have to live with the consequences (along with our pocketbooks). The next President needs to make that call on Iran.

Let Congress hear your voice – unless you’d like to pay for another war that will generate more global terrorism, with the only guarantee being economic bankruptcy as more trillions are borrowed to finance it. Diplomacy remains the untraveled road in the Middle East.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Woman Who Would Be Bush

Hillary Clinton said she'd nuke Iran if necessary, one of the most reckless statements a Presidential candidate can make -- as she herself has said in the past. Now she seems ready to be more Bush than Bush to show her "executive" capacity.

If anything, Clinton's statement shows how dangerous it would be to put in office someone who somehow feels driven to show how masculine she can be with military force, just like Bush. Like Bush, she has never served in the military and has never had to dodge sniper bullets, but flip statements about dropping nuclear weapons on an Islamic country can only raise great concern worldwide about another American President being reckless in starting wars that prove costly and only increase bitterness against us - worldwide.

Why she would make such a statement is unknowable - but it shows a desperate overreaching that bodes ill for the American people if she obtains control of the White House and mimics leaders like Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, who can't let go of power after 28 years either, despite losing an election.

If Clinton finds a way to change the rules in the 4th quarter to steal the nomination from Mr. Obama -- by resorting to character assassination, gutter politics and nuclear triggers -- then we will end up no better than we were during the last eight years under Mr. Bush. He is another leader who never went to war but started one that cost so much blood and treasure the next President needs to extinguish it, not add yet another one that could end in a doomsday showdown with Russia, Iran's ally.

Clinton's stated readiness to nuke another country shows a dangerous new trend that makes her unqualified to represent a new face of America....

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Flag Pins and True Patriotism

I heard the nice lady ask Sen. Obama at the Philadelphia debate last night why he doesn’t wear a flag pin while running for President.

But what does that really mean when current leaders wear flag pins yet put our veterans on repeated tours in Iraq, and then put them in a rundown Walter Reed hospital with rats running down the halls, and oversee a system that cuts their benefits if they become a sole survivor?

A military ‘sole survivor’ is a family that has already lost brothers or sisters in Iraq, so if a brother is killed the last surviving brother or sister (or son or daughter) is forced to leave the service and Iraq. But then our government cuts their benefits. The sole survivor, who has been serving in Iraq, loses his or her education benefits and medical benefits under the current system.

The same leaders who wear flag pins and tout their support for our troops yet leave in place a system that cuts a service member’s benefits when they become a military ‘sole survivor’ is not my idea of true American leadership -- or respect for the pin they are wearing.

So how does wearing a flag pin signify true leadership and support of American families when your tax policies favor only the top 2% of Americans and no-bid contracts for your vice-presidents former company? I’d rather a President wear no flag and support the other 98% of us.

Does a President who always wears a flag pin and allows this system to unfairly treat the veterans risking their lives for all Americans show real values and leadership? How does that pin show real support for our troops when actions are otherwise? Does taking us into an unplanned and mismanaged war show patriotism because the President appointed people like Paul Bremer with no experience in Iraq while wearing a flag on his lapel?

Take it a step further, for instance Kenya. How does a leader wearing a Kenya national flag on his lapel --who instigates violent attacks, and even killing by his supporters -- show true patriotism for that country? How does a flag pin-wearing Zimbabwe President who won’t give up power after 28 years and refuses to release poll results show patriotism and respect for their people?

I would prefer a President who didn't wear a pin who did the right thing versus a President who wears the pin and does the wrong thing. It's even worse to make the flag associated with leadership arrogance, mistakes and blunders.

People need to look for true symbols of patriotism, which are thoughtful, meaningful Actions that take care of the bottom 98% instead of the top. Otherwise, wearing the flag pin is just a charade and doesn’t show real respect for the flag they are wearing.

Monday, April 14, 2008

At the Mercy of Technology

Sometimes we need a reminder how dependent we have become on our technology--and how we pay it no mind until it doesn't work.

My reminder came this weekend when suddenly the wireless router went offline - the cable guy said they weren't the problem. So I had to go to the store and buy two different routers and engage in geek battle in order to (finally) get the new wireless working. Even then it isn't yet "secure" since that part of the program never made an appearance. I'll have to figure that part out next. Being a geek is tough work.

Whatever happened to just "plug it in and it works"? Anyway, even a day over the weekend without Internet access was like a year -- an isolating feeling. Yes I could still access it via the Blackberry but its not the same as using the laptop to check bank records, email, etc. when you are home.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Callers Who Sounded Bitter

I spent part of the morning listening to the Washington Journal TV program on cable talking about the world food crisis that is a looming Tsunami and taking calls from ordinary people. They had one line for Democrats and another for Republicans. It was hard to tell which was which since all callers wanted to stop free trade, cut off food exports to the Middle East, stop giving money away to foreign countries, punish etc. The callers wanted to PUNISH someone for our situation.

They all certainly sounded bitter to me! Every one of them sounded angry and their comments were hard and uncompromising. The callers who sounded white and middle class – both Democrats and Republicans--sounded very bitter.

One lady caller said that she didn’t want to hear about food problems elsewhere in the world when our own prices are too high. It wasn’t a concern. That struck me as both petty and bitter.

Like many, she doesn’t see how that jeopardizes our own security. I heard no one call in worried about millions of people starving and fighting over declining food sources. None of them seemed to realize that this growing global food crisis will affect our own security. Vietnam did exactly what many of the callers demanded (keep our food for ourselves.) Vietnam stopped exporting rice, causing prices to jump 30%. India is doing the same, cutting global food sources and spiking prices for people who can’t afford the jump.

Food prices are up 40% from last year, and the trend is not stopping. Part of it stems from the rising cost of fuel, and part because ethanol production based on our food sources like corn is taking food off the market. That’s why bread is now $3 a loaf. We need to shift ethanol feedstock from corn to non-food sources such as switch grass, which can be grown on marginal land. That would also preserve our good land for food production and put more supply back into the market.

The callers wanted to withhold our money and our support. If this isn’t bitterness, what is? Starving people are more willing to start wars than well-fed ones.
The problem is that the more everyone withholds, the greater the problem begins. People forget that the Great Depression of the 30’s was made worse as countries started imposing tariffs on other countries and trade slowed down. We seem to be doing the same thing all over again. The free trade agreement with Colombia is in trouble; however, it would actually benefit Americans. Colombians can import into the U.S. without tax; yet Americans have to pay up to 80% taxes to export our products to Colombia unless we enact the free trade pact. So without it we lose jobs – the opposite of what many Americans think.

To solve these issues, especially one involving something as necessary for human life as food, the World is waiting for America to move forward with a global plan of action… let’s hope they don’t have to wait too long or else they might get bitter….

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

UFO's and Texas: A Perfect Match

If there are UFO's from space, then its clear that the best place for them to land (should they decide to do so) would be Texas. Why? Because we are so diverse that probably few would even notice them. For details I refer you to my article published today in the Global American Series.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Americans Going “Green” to Save Health and Money

Americans are Greening for Health and Energy Benefits, Even if the Government Isn’t

There has been a 100% increase in asthma cases in the U.S. in the last 20 years. Asthma is the No. 1 reason kids miss school. Increased pollution has doubled the chance of stroke. We have twice as much pollen due to CO2 increases. Global warming will cost us more in power unless we take dramatic action now.

As a result Americans aren’t waiting on their government to go “green” and the coming changes will impact your office, your home and your wallet – by cutting your energy costs.

Austin, Texas is on the cutting edge of this movement. Its city council is upgrading Austin’s building codes with the goal that all new homes will be “Zero Energy Capable Homes” by 2015. That means that single-family homes would produce as much energy as they consume. That means adding everything from radiant barriers to solar panels.

In Houston, 75% of our Class A building owners intend to adopt the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ which is a certification program. Why? Because it will cut their energy costs for one. For another, studies have shown that LEED- certified buildings have higher occupancy rates, so they make more money, and sell for a higher price per square foot than non-LEED buildings. They tend to have higher occupancy rates. Law firms in Houston are the second most active group pushing these changes. Homeowners should join them to save money as energy costs continue to climb.

New materials, solar panels, reflective roofs, cutting energy loss through windows – all add up to billions in potential savings. One Houston company sells a “cool roof” that cuts energy costs by 30%. The owner tells me that they have a backlog of work while the “tar and sand” flat roof competitors have little to do. The winds are shifting and the smart technology is taking over old ways. The days of black tar roofs have gone the way of the dodo bird.

I have been personally involved with a window film technology that is “green” in that it provides storm security while also providing filtering that cuts energy loss through windows. One homeowner told me their power bills dropped $150/month after installing it. It was put on for hurricane protection so it’s a win-win. The film also kept errant golf balls from penetrating the windows during the rainy season while they were traveling.

However, the U.S. is lagging the rest of the world in energy efficiency, so we have a lot to do, but the good news is that a lot of savings could be easily captured. I met a former consul general from Germany this week, who advised me that Germany changed it incentives to favor renewable energy. They now have so many windmills producing electricity that they had to modify the incentive program to make sure they weren’t built in areas that had no wind!

Our Congress should help accelerate the adoption of “green” technology by creating new tax incentives for adding renewable energy and cutting energy waste on our offices and homes – from giant wind farms, to solar panels on houses. We could be building solar farms in our vast deserts. By working both ways, we could have a win-win.

And if that cuts our global warming and lowers our pollution, we also get health benefits. What is there not to like about that?