A secret cache of Colonel Gaddafi’s chemical weapons has been found in Libya, the country’s new rulers announced yesterday.
The deadly arsenal proves the tyrant had refused to give up his weapons of mass destruction – despite promising Tony Blair he would relinquish them in the infamous ‘Deal in the Desert’.
The National Transitional Council said the chemical warheads had been secured and would be made safe by experts. A spokesman said: ‘They are from the Gaddafi era and are under guard until they can be handed over.’
To this day, Mr Blair defends his decision to embrace Gaddafi by trumpeting the idea that he forced the dictator to give up his WMD programme.
His spokesman said earlier this week: ‘Mr Blair, in office, had been responsible for getting Gaddafi to give up his chemical and nuclear weapons programme and renounce terrorism.’
Gaddafi agreed to destroy most of his weapons of mass destruction in 2003 as part of moves to bring Libya, then a pariah state, in from the cold. The agreement was sealed in 2004 when Mr Blair shook hands with Gaddafi in a tent outside Tripoli.
The disarming process was being overseen by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, but was never finished because of the outbreak of war.
It meant the dictator retained around ten tons of deadly mustard gas and other chemicals. Throughout the uprising, rebels feared vengeful Gaddafi – who warned they faced the ‘fires from Hell’ – would unleash WMD on his own people. In Misrata, panic gripped the population when forces loyal to Gaddafi were seen wearing gas masks.
Nato spy planes and satellites monitored suspected chemical weapons dumps at three separate locations, including the Rughawa site some 130 miles south of the tyrant’s birthplace Sirte.
Never have so few been blamed for so much by so many
Here's your final exam question in Middle Eastern studies:
A mass of Coptic Christians marches through Cairo to protest the military government's failure to protect them from Muslim radicals. They are attacked by stone-throwing, club-wielding rowdies. Armed forces security personnel intervene, and the Copts fight it out with the soldiers, with two dozen dead and scores injured on both sides. Who is to blame?
The full credit answer is: Benjamin Netanyahu, for building apartments in Jerusalem. If that's not what you wrote, don't blame me if you can't get a job at the New York Times.
Rarely in the course of human events have so few been blamed for so much by so many. There are precedents, for example, when Adolf Hitler claimed that a Jewish "stab in the back" lost World War I for Germany. The notion that the problems of three hundred million Arabs revolve around the governance of a few million Palestinians has the same order of credibility.
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations always presumed that Israel's peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan would remain intact - that Egypt would interdict terrorists infiltrating Israel from the Sinai, stop weapons from reaching Hamas in Gaza, and otherwise fill its obligations. But Egypt is dissolving. The Egyptian army crossed a red line on October 9, according to Egyptian blogger Issander al-Armani.  Soldiers attacked Coptic demonstrators who were demanding protection from the army, The military not only shut down news coverage of the massacre, but used state television to call on Egyptian Muslims to "defend the army from the Copts".
On September 19, the Egyptian army showed that it could not protect Israel's embassy in Cairo; on October 9, it showed itself ready to murder members of the country's Christian minority. Egypt is dissolving because it can't feed itself, and it can't feed itself because it is going bankrupt. Former International Atomic Energy chief Mohamed ElBaradei, now a candidate for Egypt's presidency, warned last week that Egypt would run out of money within months, according to the English-language edition of Almasry Alroum:
Egypt might face bankruptcy within six months, Egyptian reform advocate and presidential hopeful Mohamed ElBaradei warned on Monday. During a meeting with labor leaders at the Center for Trade Unions and Workers Services (CTUWS) in Helwan, south of Cairo, ElBaradei attacked the "failing" policies of Egypt's ruling military council.He criticized the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) for what he called incompetence and lack of experience, saying that experienced government officials don't have enough power. Egypt is currently relying on its cash reserve with no gross domestic product, he said .
ElBaradei, the undeserved winner of the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize (he helped Iran cover its tracks en route to enriching uranium to near weapons grade), nonetheless is the closest thing to a responsible figure in Egyptian politics. His warning that Egypt is burning its cash reserves is accurate. On October 5, the Financial Times reported that Egypt's foreign exchange reserves had fallen from $35 billion in January to only $19.4 billion,  enough to cover less than five months' worth of imports.
The central bank had reported $25 billion of reserves in August,  so the monthly decline appears to be around $6 billion; it is hard to tell precisely because the Egyptian central bank publishes contradictory data about its reserve position. The earlier $25 billion figure might have counted loans expected from the Gulf states, but as the FT explains, "Only $500m of some $7bn of promised aid from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have arrived so far."
Almost 60% of Egyptians live in rural areas, yet the country imports half its caloric consumption and spends $5.5 billion a year in food subsidies. When it runs out of money, millions will starve. Many already are hungry. The state-controlled newspaper al-Dostour warned on October 9 that an "insane" increase in the price of food - up 80% so far this year - has left citizens "screaming". 
The newspaper added that the "current state of lawlessness has left merchants and businesses with no supervision", leading to hoarding, price-gouging and shortages. This was evident at the outset of the uprisings,  and a breakdown of the country's food distribution system was evident by May, as I wrote at the time. 
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces appears baffled. Its leader, Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi, does not appear in public. Previously he ran Egypt's military industries. Prime Minister Essam Sharaf was briefly transportation minister, having taught highway engineering for most of his career.
He has spoken publicly about only one topic of political importance, namely the peace treaty with Israel, which he proposes to change, as he told Turkish television on October 8.  Egypt's leaders face a crisis brewing for two generations in which the Egyptian government kept half of its population illiterate and mired in rural poverty as an instrument of social control. As ElBaradei warns, they have no idea what they are doing.
Syria, meanwhile, is in civil war, which may turn into a proxy war between the Sunni powers and Iran. And Iraq's leader Nuri al-Maliki, the leader of the supposed Iraqi democracy we spent a trillion dollars and 4,000 lives to put in place, is backing the Bashar al-Assad regime in alliance with Iran. 
Turkey, the self-styled rising power in the region, is about to get its come-uppance in the form of a nasty economic downturn. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's belligerence has risen in inverse proportion to the market price of the Turkish lira:
I warned in August of the "instant obsolescence of the Turkish model" as the credit bubble engineered by the ruling party explodes.  Markets have already anticipated a sudden turnaround in the Turkish economy. The lira fell by a quarter between November 2010 and September 2011, making it the world’s worst-performing emerging market currency. The stock market has fallen in dollar terms by 40%, making Turkey the worst performer after Egypt among all the markets in the MSCI Tradable Index during 2011.
In short, there is not a patch of ground in Israel's proximity that is not roiling and boiling with political and economic turmoil. Echoing in the ears of Israel's leaders are the words of Isaiah (57:20-21), which Jews around the world read on October 8 on the Day of Atonement: "The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked."
Spengler's corollary states: Neither is there peace to the stupid. We have Nicholas Kristof writing in the October 6 New York Times: "Now it is Israel that is endangered most by its leaders and maximalist stance. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is isolating his country, and, to be blunt, his hard line on settlements seems like a national suicide policy. Nothing is more corrosive than Israel’s growth of settlements because they erode hope of a peace agreement in the future."
Kristof is talking about the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, which was undeveloped land before 1967 and which every conceivable peace agreement would assign to Israel.
Nothing will appease the liberals, because if liberal social engineering can't fix the problems of the Middle East, the world will have no need of liberals. The New York Times will demand  that Israel concede and apologize, as surely as a gumball will roll out of the machine when I crank in a quarter. Existential need trumps rationality, most of all among the self-styled priesthood of rationality.
Losing the peace in Iraq?
BY NEW YEAR'S DAY, the US military presence in Iraq will be history. President Obama has made it official, announcing last week the fulfillment of his campaign pledge to end the Iraq war and bring the troops home. Senior American commanders in Iraq had recommended keeping up to 18,000 servicemen there, and even Defense Secretary Leon Panetta wanted around 4,000 to remain. But Obama, whose meteoric rise to power was fueled by opposition to the war, overruled them. "The rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year," he told reporters. "After nearly nine years, America's war in Iraq will be over."
And what happens then? The president asserts that American soldiers will "cross the border out of Iraq with their heads held high, proud of their success" and that the US withdrawal will "strengthen American leadership around the world." But that's only bluster. Obama has never shown much interest in the fate of Iraq after American forces leave. As a candidate for president he insisted that even preventing a potential genocide wasn't a good enough reason to keep US forces in Iraq, and long after it was clear that President Bush's "surge" had led to dramatic progress in the war, Obama continued to claim that it was making the situation worse.
In fairness, elections have consequences. Obama has never made a secret of his determination to pull American troops out of Iraq; certainly he has been more passionate on that subject than on the importance of securing Iraq's long-term viability as a stable, pro-American oasis in the Arab world. As a matter of short-term political calculus, presidents rarely go wrong when they "bring the boys home for Christmas." Indeed, a New York Times/CBS poll taken immediately after Obama's announcement found a significant upward bump in his approval rating on Iraq.
But what is good for the Obama re-election effort may be calamitous for Iraq and for US interests in the Middle East.
Retired Army General John Keane, an architect of the 2007 surge and former adviser to General David Petraeus when he served as US commander in Iraq, describes the year-end withdrawal deadline as "an absolute disaster." Iraq's fractious, fragile democracy is still little more than a multitude of factions capable of backsliding into violence without an American presence to keep the peace. Right next door is Iran, which already operates terror squads in the country and will now intensify its bid to dominate Iraq and use it as a base to spread Islamist theocracy to the Persian Gulf. And after such a hard-won victory over al-Qaeda in Iraq -- a victory that cost so much blood and treasure -- America's departure throws open the door to a return of the jihadists beginning in 2012.
"We won the war in Iraq," Keane told The Washington Times, "and we're now losing the peace."
A similar sense of foreboding comes from John Burns, the highly-regarded New York Times correspondent who spent more than five years covering Iraq. "I have very little confidence that the center can hold there without the tripwire that American troops represent," Burns said in an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt. "When they're gone, I think all bets are off . . . . A lot of groups of ill intent have been waiting for the Americans to go."
Perhaps everything will turn out fine. Perhaps Iraq's constitutional system will prove more durable than Keane and Burns fear. Perhaps, as the president tells us, quitting Iraq will in some way actually "strengthen American leadership around the world."
That isn't, however, what history suggests. To this day, the United States maintains a substantial military presence in Italy (approximately 11,000 active-duty personnel), South Korea (28,500), Japan (40,000), and Germany (54,000). When US forces settle in for the long haul after fighting and winning bloody wars, the results have generally been decades of peace and progress. But when the United States bugs out -- as it did in Vietnam after 1972, or in Germany at the end of World War I -- the results have been disastrous, both for the nations we walked away from and for American influence worldwide.
In pulling the US military out of Iraq, the president is doing what he said he would do. If it all works out, he will be able to trumpet his success in safely bringing the troops back. But if he turns out to have squandered the peace after so many sacrificed so much to win the war, there won't be much doubt about who lost Iraq.
Hamas boosting anti-aircraft arsenal with looted Libyan missiles: "The improved quality of anti-aircraft missiles held by Hamas in Gaza is increasingly worrying the Israeli defense establishment. Hamas recently managed to smuggle relatively advanced Russian missiles, which were looted from Libyan military warehouses, into the Gaza Strip. Israel is worried about the presence of the missiles, both because they curb the air force's almost unlimited freedom of movement over Gaza today, and because of their possible use against civil aviation in Eilat. Shoulder-fired anti-aicraft missiles have been smuggled into Gaza in recent years at Iran's initiative. But the fall of Muammar Gadhafi's regime has enabled Hamas to bring in much higher quality missiles - and in much larger quantities."
Another A380 grounded: "China Southern Airlines first Airbus A380 remained grounded after a mechanical failure forced the cancellation of a flight on Saturday, less than two weeks after its maiden flight. "We are not sure when the A380 flights can be resumed at the moment," Zou Yingping, a press officer of the Guangzhou- based carrier, said by phone today. Zou said the problem was related to the super-jumbo's flap power and drive unit."
Robin Hood defamed again: "Once you boil away all of its high-sounding rationalizations, socialism is only a lame attempt to make stealing appear respectable. That's all it ever was, all it is now, and all it ever will be. ... Socialism pops up in some funny places. When the City Fathers -- Democrat or Republican -- steal your home or business to widen a road or build a park, or simply to give it to some other business that will probably pay higher taxes, that's socialism."
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)