JFP 11/30: Afghanistan withdrawal amendment passes Senate by voice vote

Just Foreign Policy News
November 30, 2011


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I) Actions and Featured Articles

Merkley Amendment Passes Senate by Voice Vote
In a stunning development, the Senate today approved the Merkley Amendment to the NDAA, calling for an expedited military withdrawal from Afghanistan, by voice vote. Previously, 27 was the high water mark of Senators urging a speedier withdrawal.

Senators Have Ideas for Cutting the Military Budget
You might not know it from national press reports, but there are plenty of Members of Congress of both political parties who think that cutting the military budget is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, and have concrete ideas for doing so. You can see that senators have ideas for cutting the military budget from the list of amendments filed in the Senate to the National Defense Authorization Act, currently under consideration.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/military-spending_b_1121210.html

Robert Jensen - Occupy Congress: Norman Solomon Sees Role for Progressive Legislators
Solomon argues that when the left have treated elections as irrelevant, the result has been self-marginalization that helps empower the military-industrial complex.
http://www.truth-out.org/occupy-congress-norman-solomon-sees-role-progressive-legislators/1322497228

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II) Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Newt Gingrich's Middle East policy adviser David Wurmser was a notorious member of Vice President Cheney's inner circle that pushed the U.S. into war in Iraq, Talking Points Memo reports. James Woosley, another Gingrich adviser, is a serious Iran hawk, warning that the way the West is dealing with the nation at the moment "rhymes with what was taking place in the 1930s [with Nazi Germany]."
2) Today's US military is the most top-heavy force in U.S. history, with fewer than five enlisted personnel for every officer, writes Ben Freeman for Project on Government Oversight. Former Defense Secretary Gates' initiative to cut general and flag officers has come to a screeching halt under Defense Secretary Panetta. The cost to taxpayers of uniformed military personnel increases markedly with their rank, not just in their direct compensation, but also in their perks.

3) Defying a veto threat, the Senate voted to increase the role of the military in imprisoning suspected terrorists, including people arrested inside the US, the New York Times reports. Only two Republicans - Mark Kirk of Illinois and Rand Paul of Kentucky - voted against the military detention provisions. Half of the Democrats who supported keeping the military detention provisions were members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, whose chairman, Carl Levin, helped draft them.

4) The Center for Economic and Policy Research welcomed the Fed's action, in conjunction with other central banks, to reduce the costs of borrowing in dollars for European banks, noting that the market reaction showed Fed intervention could work. But CEPR said the action did not go far enough, and renewed its call for the Fed to intervene against unsustainable borrowing costs in Italy, to stop the crisis in Europe from causing a recession in the US.

5) Ten thousand combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder flooded into VA hospitals every three months this year, pushing the number of patients ill with the disorder above 200,000, USA Today reports. Since the Iraq and Afghanistan wars began, 211,819 combat veterans have been treated by the VA for PTSD, about 16% of the 1.3 million who fought. But the VA says it sees only about half the veterans from the two wars, because hundreds of thousands seek care elsewhere or not at all.

6) Defense analysts such as Todd Harrison at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments say automatic defense reductions of about $500 billion in the next 10 years would bring spending back to the fiscal 2007 level, the Boston Globe reports. The 2007 level exceeded average annual military spending during the Cold War, said military analyst Winslow Wheeler of the Center for Defense Information. The base U.S. defense budget would decrease by 14 percent, according to Harrison. "This seems modest compared to the drawdown at the end of the Cold War, when the base budget fell by 34 percent," Harrison said.

Egypt
7) State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said Washington has not found any evidence that Egypt misused tear gas from the US, Almasry Alyoum reports. Harbor authorities in Suez allowed a tear gas shipment from the US to enter Egypt Tuesday, despite protests by the harbor's customs workers.

Israel/Palestine
8) Israel agreed to transfer to the Palestinian Authority $100 million in Palestinian tax payments it withheld for four weeks in protest over the Palestinians' membership efforts at the UN and pursuit of power-sharing with Hamas, the New York Times reports. The Israeli government came under strong US and international pressure to yield the money, the NYT says. The transfer of about $100 million a month to the Palestinian Authority is required under the Oslo agreement.

9) Iceland's Parliament voted in favor of a resolution calling for recognition of Palestine, within the 1967 borders, as an independent state, Reuters reports. "Iceland is the first Western European country to take this step," Iceland's Foreign Minister said.

Iran
10) Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan said that if Israel attacks Iran, it will be dragged into a regional war, Haaretz reports. Dagan added that such a war would take a heavy toll in terms of loss of life and would paralyze life in Israel. These comments were in response to a recent remark by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, in which he claimed that if a war breaks out between Israel and Iran, it would result in no more than 500 dead Israelis.

11) Saudi Arabia's Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former ambassador to the U.S. and head of intelligence, warned against an attack on Iran to halt its nuclear program, the Jordan Times reported. "It is important to remember there are other non- military policy alternatives, as yet unexplored, that could have the desired result without the unwanted consequences," Turki said. "We are sending messages to Iran that it is their right, as it is in any nation's right, and as we ourselves are doing, to develop a civilian nuclear program."

Contents:
U.S./Top News
1) Newt's Neocon Army
Benjy Sarlin & Evan Mcmorris-Santoro, Talking Points Memo, November 29, 2011,
http://2012.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/11/newt-gingrichs-neocon-army.php

When it comes to foreign policy, the Republican frontrunner likes it old-school. Neo-old school.

We've had two foreign policy themed debates in the GOP primary now, which have provided ample opportunity to see what a Republican foreign policy would look like in 2013. And in the case of Newt Gingrich, it would probably look like a kind of neocon fantasy land.

Foreign Policy published an excellent rundown of Gingrich's foreign policy advising team, most of whom "have known Newt for decades, and see themselves as helping a candidate who already boasts a long track record and well-formed intellectual identity when it comes to foreign policy."

Here's a taste of World Team Gingrich:

David Wurmser: Gingrich's Middle East policy adviser was a notorious member of Vice President Cheney's inner circle that pushed the U.S. into war in Iraq. Once he was questioned during an espionage probe while in the vice president's office, and he was one of the names driving the initial support for the later disgraced Ahmed Chalabi. Asked by the Daily Telegraph in 2007 if he was a neocon, he offered this: "There's nothing 'neo' about me. I'm a very medieval sort of guy."

James Woosley: A former director of the CIA, Woolsey recently spoke at a panel hosted by the founder of Judicial Watch focused on President Obama's "political jihad promoting Islam around the world." Woolsey is a serious Iran hawk, warning that the way the West is dealing with the nation at the moment "rhymes with what was taking place in the 1930s [with Nazi Germany]". Woolsey is a Democrat (of the Lieberman school) but he's helped Republicans running for president before. In 2008, he advised John McCain.


Stephen Yates: Another ex-Cheney national security team member, Yates is known among other things for his work on China. One former U.S. ambassador to China familiar with Yates says he views "China as the solution to 'enemy deprivation syndrome.'" As Counterpunch explained the theory, "You need some unifying enemy after the collapse of the Soviet Union." Not exactly the most productive way to view one of America's most important trading partner, perhaps.

It's not just Gingrich who's dipping in the neocon well to form a national security strategy. Rick Perry, who was once the frontrunner before descending out of view like so many before him, leaned on former Donald Rumsfeld deputy Doug Feith, best known for pushing the Al queda-Iraq connection in the run up to the Iraq War and being called by former Gen. Tommy Franks "the f***ing stupidest guy on the face of the earth."
[...]

2) Today's Military: The Most Top-Heavy Force in U.S. History
Ben Freeman, Project on Government Oversight, Nov 29, 2011
http://pogoblog.typepad.com/pogo/2011/11/todays-military-the-most-top-heavy-force-in-us-history.html

After Thanksgiving, waistlines aren't the only things that are bloated--the Pentagon's top ranks are fattening at an alarming rate.

Despite a plan set forth by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to rein in the Department of Defense's (DoD) increasingly top-heavy force and assurances from Pentagon personnel that these plans were being enacted, the U.S. military is still adding top brass faster than you can say tryptophan.

In September, I testified before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel about the military becoming increasingly top-heavy as a result of growth in the proportion of general and flag officers at the Pentagon. This trend, which we at POGO dubbed Star Creep, is costly to taxpayers who have to foot the large bill for every new general and admiral. It also hinders military effectiveness by leading to what Gates referred to as a "bureaucracy which has the fine motor skills of a dinosaur."

My fellow witnesses at the hearing-several generals and admirals as well as former Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Clifford Stanley-assured the concerned Committee that they had everything under control. They cited Gates' Efficiency Initiatives, which purportedly eliminate 102 general and flag officer positions, as evidence of the DoD's commitment to combating Star Creep. Stanley confirmed to Chairman Jim Webb (D-VA) that Gates' successor-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta-supported these efforts and, "has accepted the policies and the things put in place by his predecessor." (Stanley tendered his notice of resignation in late October.)

What Senator Webb and I did not know at the time-and perhaps Stanley did-was that Gates' initiative to cut general and flag officers had already come to a screeching halt. Data that were released recently on the DoD personnel office's website tell the tale.

New personnel data

When POGO began its analysis of Star Creep, the most recent data available to the public were from April 2011. Thus, when I presented Chairman Webb our recommendation that Secretary Panetta work to fully enact Gates' Efficiency Initiatives to combat Star Creep and heard the other witnesses declare their support for the initiatives, I had no way of knowing that the DoD had already completely reversed course on Gates' efforts.

Seventeen general and flag officers were scheduled to be eliminated between May and September through Gates' Efficiency Initiatives. But the DoD didn't reduce its top brass at all. Instead, six generals were added from May to September, increasing the number of general and flag officers from 964 to 970. Moreover, from July 1, 2011-Panetta's first day as Secretary of Defense-to September 30, the Pentagon added three four-star officers. Coincidentally, this is precisely the number of four-star officers Gates cut during his final year as SecDef, from June 2010 to the end of June 2011. Thus, in just three months, Panetta undid a year's worth of Gates' attempts to cut the Pentagon's very top brass. It's doubtful that Gates would consider Panetta's current rate of adding a new four-star officer every month conducive to efficiency.

One of these new four-star officers is Admiral Mark Ferguson, who became vice chief of naval operations and consequently a four-star admiral less than a month before he testified at Senator Webb's hearing. Ironically, this beneficiary of Star Creep wrote in his prepared statement that the "Navy supports these efficiency actions and anticipates additional review to reduce or merge flag officer positions." At the hearing he expanded upon this, stating that "We [the Navy] remain absolutely committed to create a more agile, flexible, and effective flag officer staff structure." Apparently, this support and commitment to flag officer efficiencies includes adding admirals.

Comparing bloat across branches and over time

The most top-heavy branch of the military, the Air Force, led the most recent surge in increasing top brass, adding six officers in the two-, three-, and four-star ranks, while cutting one brigadier general. The Marines and Army each netted two additional generals. The Navy was the only branch of the military that actually did cut its top ranks during this time period, even though they added a four-star admiral.

While the Pentagon was adding these officers it was cutting enlisted personnel (a phenomenon known as "officer inflation" or "brass creep"). Between May and September, more than 10,000 enlisted personnel were cut by the DoD, possibly in preparation for the end of military operations in Iraq, while more than 2,500 officers were added. Consequently, for the first time in the more than 200 years that the U.S. has had a standing military, there are fewer than five enlisted personnel for every officer. In other words, today's military is the most top-heavy force in U.S. history.

The Costs of Star Creep

The cost to taxpayers of uniformed military personnel increases markedly with their rank. In just basic compensation, these six new generals will cost taxpayers more than $1.25 million per year. Over the next ten years, they'll cost taxpayers more than $14 million (methodology).

The total cost to taxpayers of Star Creep is not trivial, even in the Pentagon's bloated budget. Since the war in Afghanistan began, the Pentagon has added 99 general and flag officers, a rate of growth that's tops among all DoD uniformed personnel groups, as can be seen in the above graph. In 2012, these general and flag officers will cost taxpayers more than $22 million in just direct financial compensation. Between 2012 and 2021, they'll cost nearly $250 million.

But the cost of Star Creep only begins with direct compensation. Other costs that surround generals and admirals-such as staff, contractors, and travel-increase with higher ranks. For example, Bloomberg recently reported that taxpayers in Huntsville, Alabama, footed a $3.8-million bill to build luxurious homes for generals in a successful effort to keep Pentagon pork flowing into the area. One such home, built for a major general, was a sprawling 4,200-square-foot mansion that included granite countertops, hardwood floors, and stainless steel appliances.

Luxurious homes are just the beginning of the extravagances available to top military commanders. According to Raymond Dubois, former DoD director of administration and management from 2002 to 2005, there are other perks:

"A four-star has an airplane. A three-star often doesn't…Can a three-star get an airplane when he needs it? Not always. Does a four-star get an airplane when he needs it? Always. Many times he'll already have a G5 sitting on the runway, gassed up. There are the kinds of costs that are fairly significant when you add them all up."

In his August 2010 speech on Efficiency Initiatives, Gates referred to these perks as "the overhead and accoutrements that go with" senior positions, be they military or civilian, within DoD. In an interview with Newsweek, Gates bemoaned these accoutrements and entourages that surround generals and admirals, which he believes are indicative of a military leadership that is "suffering from an inflated sense of entitlement and a distorted sense of priorities."
[...]

3) Senate Approves Requiring Military Custody In Terror Cases
Charlie Savage, New York Times, November 29, 2011
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/30/us/politics/senate-approves-military-custody-for-terror-suspects.html

Washington - Defying the Obama administration's threat of a veto, the Senate on Tuesday voted to increase the role of the military in imprisoning suspected members of Al Qaeda and its allies - including people arrested inside the United States.

By a vote of 61 to 37, the Senate turned back an effort to strip a major military bill of a set of disputed provisions affecting the handling of terrorism cases. While the legislation still has several steps to go, the vote makes it likely that Congress will eventually send to President Obama's desk a bill that contains detainee-related provisions his national-security team has said are unacceptable.

The most disputed provision would require the government to place into military custody any suspected member of Al Qaeda or one of its allies connected to a plot against the United States or its allies. The provision would exempt American citizens, but would otherwise extend to arrests on United States soil. The executive branch could issue a waiver and keep such a prisoner in the civilian system.

A related provision would create a federal statute saying the government has the legal authority to keep people suspected of terrorism in military custody, indefinitely and without trial. It contains no exception for American citizens. It is intended to bolster the authorization to use military force against the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which lawmakers enacted a decade ago.

The administration has strongly opposed the mandatory military custody provision, saying it "would raise serious and unsettled legal questions and would be inconsistent with the fundamental American principle that our military does not patrol our streets."

In recent days, several top national security officials - including the secretary of defense, Leon E. Panetta; the director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper; and the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Robert S. Mueller III, have voiced opposition to the proposal, as have several former counterterrorism officials from the Bush administration.

But among Republican senators, there was nearly unanimous support for keeping the detainee provisions in the bill: 44 Republicans voted for them, while two - Mark Kirk of Illinois and Rand Paul of Kentucky - voted to remove them.

By contrast, members of the Democratic caucus were deeply divided: 35 wanted to strip the detainee provisions from the bill, but 17 voted to keep them in it. About half of the Democrats who supported keeping the provisions were members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, whose chairman, Carl Levin of Michigan, shaped the package with Republicans.
[...]
Senator Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat and a member of the Armed Services Committee who sponsored the unsuccessful proposal to strip the detainee proposals from the bill, warned that the provisions could "destabilize" counterterrorism efforts, "open the door to domestic military police powers and possibly deny U.S. citizens their due process rights." He argued that lawmakers should slow down and revisit the issue later.
[...]

4) CEPR Co-Directors Welcome Fed's Intervention in European Markets, But Say It is Not Enough
See More Crisis, Recession, and Contagion Unless Authorities Lower Sovereign Interest Rates
Center for Economic and Policy Research, November 30, 2011
http://www.cepr.net/index.php/press-releases/press-releases/cepr-co-directors-welcome-feds-intervention-in-european-markets-but-say-it-is-not-enough

Washington, D.C. - Center for Economic and Policy Research Co-Directors Dean Baker and Mark Weisbrot issued the following statement today in response to the Federal Reserve's move to reduce emergency dollar borrowing costs for European banks:

"We welcome the Fed's action, in conjunction with other central banks, to reduce the costs of borrowing in dollars for European banks.

"The market response shows that Fed intervention in European financial markets can work. This was an important step to avoid a potentially more severe financial crisis at this moment.

"However, this action does not come close to resolving the current financial crisis in Europe, nor its contagion to the United States. In fact, it does not even 'kick the can down the road' to the degree that previous moves by the European authorities during the past 18 months were temporarily able to do.

"The acute crisis remains because Italian borrowing costs remain at unsustainable levels, and can shoot further upward at any time. Until there is central bank intervention to lower these interest rates, and to keep them down, the current financial crisis in Europe will not be resolved.

"The contagion from this crisis has already slowed world economic growth, including U.S. growth. This week the OECD reported that the euro area already appears to be in a 'mild recession' and lowered its forecast for U.S. GDP growth for next year to 2.1 percent, from 3 percent in May. Forecasts for growth in China, India, and Brazil were also lowered significantly.

"We therefore repeat our call for the Fed to intervene directly in sovereign European bond markets, especially Italy, to lower interest rates on these bonds. Such intervention would be costless to American taxpayers, as the Fed's quantitative easing since 2008 has been. But a U.S. recession caused by financial crisis in Europe would be very costly and could throw millions of Americans out of work. The risk of such a recession remains high.

"It is therefore within the Fed's mandate, which includes promoting full employment in the United States, to take these further steps to help prevent a worsening financial crisis in Europe, and the resulting damage to the U.S. economy."

5) Rise in PTSD cases from two wars strains resources
Gregg Zoroya, USA Today, November 30, 2011
http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/story/2011-11-29/PTSD-cases-rise/51476604/1

Ten thousand combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder flooded into VA hospitals every three months this year, pushing the number of patients ill with the disorder above 200,000 and straining resources, Department of Veterans Affairs data to be released today show.

The increase is more than 5% per quarter, according to data obtained by USA TODAY, and it occurs as the VA struggles to move veterans quickly into therapy. New mental health patients at about a third of VA hospitals wait longer than the department's goal of 14 days or less, according to a USA TODAY analysis published this month.
[...]
Since the Iraq and Afghanistan wars began, 211,819 combat veterans have been treated by the VA for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), about 16% of the 1.3 million who fought. But the VA says it sees only about half the veterans from the two wars, because hundreds of thousands seek care elsewhere or not at all.
[...]
Cases of depression among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have increased 6% to 7% per quarter, according to the VA, with about 9,000 new cases every three months. The total number of PTSD patients from the wars dwarfs the Pentagon tally of 47,195 physically wounded.

Military leaders describe PTSD and traumatic brain injury, particularly the mild TBI, as hidden wounds of Iraq and Afghanistan. The Pentagon has counted more than 200,000 brain injuries among troops since the wars began, most of those are mild TBI.

6) Panetta 'Doomsday' Scenario May Exaggerate Cuts
David Lerman, Bloomberg, Nov 28, 2011 12:01 AM ET
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-28/panetta-doomsday-scenario-may-exaggerate-cuts.html

To hear Defense Secretary Leon Panetta tell it, the U.S. military is headed for a "doomsday" scenario in which "devastating" spending cuts jeopardize the nation's security.

If Congress allows automatic defense reductions of about $500 billion in the next 10 years, the military will become a "hollow force," Panetta said. Defense analysts such as Todd Harrison at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments said it won't be that bad.
[...]
The Defense Department's total budget, including war spending, more than doubled from $316 billion in fiscal 2001 to $691 billion in fiscal 2010. The Pentagon has requested $671 billion for the current fiscal year.

The deficit-reduction law signed in August calls for the automatic defense cuts, which would be on top of the $450 billion that the Pentagon already has planned to trim during the next decade.

The reductions would result in the Pentagon's base budget, which doesn't include war spending, falling to about $472 billion in fiscal 2013, said Harrison at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a non-partisan budget analysis group in Washington. That would bring spending back to the fiscal 2007 level, after adjusting for inflation, he said.

The 2007 defense budget "was a new peak in spending, not a valley," [military analyst Winslow Wheeler at the Center for Defense Information] wrote in a recent article. The 2007 level exceeded average annual military spending during the Cold War, which was $434 billion, adjusted for inflation, he said.

The base U.S. defense budget would decrease by 14 percent, adjusted for inflation, from fiscal 2010 to fiscal 2013, which begins Oct. 1, 2012, according to Harrison. "This seems modest compared to the drawdown at the end of the Cold War, when the base budget fell by 34 percent" from a peak in fiscal 1985 to a trough in fiscal 1998, Harrison wrote in an article this month.
[...]

Egypt
7) US says no evidence Egypt misused tear gas, rights group files complaint
Almasry Alyoum, 1 Dec 2011
http://www.almasryalyoum.com/en/node/527456

US State Department spokesperson Mark Toner defended on Tuesday the shipment of tear gas to the Egyptian government.

Toner told reporters that Washington has not found any evidence that Egypt misused the tear gas canisters.

Security forces deployed the noxious gas in an attempt to quell protests in Tahrir Square, prompting clashes last week.

Adiba harbor authorities in Suez allowed a shipment from the US to the Interior Ministry to enter Egypt Tuesday, despite protests by the harbor's customs workers.

Washington had earlier agreed to export the gas, which Egypt paid for, to the Interior Ministry and no US security aid was used in the purchase, Toner said.

Toner said the tear gas exported to Egypt is the same used by police in several countries, including the US.

Washington condemns any misuse of tear gas canisters anywhere that would lead to death or injury, Toner said, adding that any misuse would affect future export agreements.

The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights said in a statement Wednesday that it has filed a report with the attorney general against Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, Interior Minister Mansour al-Essawy and the legal representative and executive director for the US manufacturer of the tear gas.
[...]

Israel/Palestine
8) Israel Releases Funds to Palestinian Authority
Ethan Bronner, New York Times, November 30, 2011
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/01/world/middleeast/israel-releases-funds-to-palestinian-authority.html

Jerusalem - Israel agreed on Wednesday to transfer to the Palestinian Authority about $100 million in tax and customs payments that it has withheld for four weeks in protest over the Palestinians' membership efforts at the United Nations and pursuit of power-sharing with Hamas.

The decision to release the money was made at a meeting of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's senior cabinet ministers "after the Palestinian Authority stopped taking unilateral moves," according to a message from Mr. Netanyahu's office sent to journalists. "If the Palestinians return to taking unilateral steps, we will weigh again the transfer of funds."

The Palestinian Authority depends on tax and customs revenue collected by Israel for a large part of its operating budget. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has been warning that without the withheld money, the authority cannot pay November salaries to about 150,000 employees and is nearing the brink of financial collapse.
[...]
The Israeli government came under strong American and international pressure to yield the money. Within the Israeli defense establishment there is also a desire to see the Palestinian Authority function properly.

Israel itself has long urged the Palestinians to develop a reliable and modern set of institutions, especially security forces, that could lead to stable relations and create the conditions for a two-state solution. Critics of Israel's decision to withhold the transfer of the tax and customs receipts have argued that such a policy only serves to undermine its own goals for the Palestinian Authority.

Aides to Mr. Netanyahu had made clear for at least a week that the transfer was likely to occur if the Palestinians held off vigorous pursuit of membership in United Nations agencies and if a meeting last Thursday between Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority and Khaled Meshal of Hamas yielded few concrete results. They said this week that both conditions had been met.
[...]
The transfer of about $100 million a month to the Palestinian Authority is required under the 1994 portion of the Oslo agreement that formalized relations between Israel and the Palestinians.
[...]

9) Iceland: Palestinian Recognition
Reuters, November 29, 2011
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/30/world/europe/iceland-parliament-votes-to-recognize-palestinian-territories.html

Iceland's Parliament voted on Tuesday in favor of a resolution calling for recognition of the Palestinian territories, within the borders of the 1967 war, as an independent state. "Iceland is the first Western European country to take this step," Foreign Minister Ossur Skarphedinsson, who proposed the resolution, told RUV, a state broadcaster. The resolution won 38 votes in the 63-seat house.

Iran
10) Former Mossad chief: Israeli strike on Iran will lead to regional war
Meir Dagan said in a television interview that a military strike will result in massive rocket attacks from Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas.
Haaretz, 29.11.11
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/former-mossad-chief-israeli-strike-on-iran-will-lead-to-regional-war-1.398537

Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan said in a television interview on Tuesday that if Israel attacks Iran, it will be dragged into a regional war.

According to Dagan, Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas will respond with massive rocket attacks on Israel. In that scenario, Syria may join in the fray, Dagan said on the television program "Uvda".

Dagan also followed up on recent public comments that he made on the topic, after which he was criticized for speaking out on, saying that the Prime Minister, Defense Minister and Finance Minister cannot prevent him from speaking his mind. "We are not living in an undemocratic country; in democratic countries, even people like me have the right to express their opinions," Dagan said.

Dagan added that such a war would take a heavy toll in terms of loss of life and would paralyze life in Israel. These comments were in response to a recent remark by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, in which he claimed that if a war breaks out between Israel and Iran, it would result in no more than 500 dead Israelis.
[...]

11) Ex-Saudi Spy Chief Warns Against Iran Attack, Jordan Times Says
Massoud A. Derhally, Bloomberg, November 30, 2011, 2:50 AM EST
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-11-30/ex-saudi-spy-chief-warns-against-iran-attack-jordan-times-says.html

Nov. 30 -- Saudi Arabia's Prince Turki al- Faisal, a former ambassador to the U.S. and head of intelligence, warned against an attack on Iran to halt its nuclear program, the Jordan Times reported.

"It is important to remember there are other non- military policy alternatives, as yet unexplored, that could have the desired result without the unwanted consequences," the Amman-based newspaper cited Turki as saying at a conference in Jordan yesterday. "We are sending messages to Iran that it is their right, as it is in any nation's right, and as we ourselves are doing, to develop a civilian nuclear program."

-

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