The John Batchelor Show

Thursday 15 August 2013

Air Date: 
August 15, 2013

Photo: member of an Iranian navy special forces group known as Takavaran wearing a uniform similar to that worn by the US military and holding an Israeli-made Uzi submachine gun stands guard at the Iranian Corvette Admiral Naghdi as it docks in the Red Sea Sudanese town of Port Sudan. The visit of two Iranian naval ships to Sudan reflects strong ties between the countries, Sudan's military said. See: Hour 2, Block D,  Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents.


Co-hosts: Mary Kissel, Wall Street Journal editorial board, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents.

Hour One

Thursday  15 August  2013 / Hour 1, Block A: Sam Tadros, FDD, in re: Egypt in crisis.  Body count climbs; corpses wrapped in white for immediate burial.  Mr Obama blamed al Sisi and the jihadists for the violence; both sides consider that he's misunderstood the situation.  His words did not bring him any support fro the military or the Muslim Brotherhood. US now unfavorably viewed by former friends in the region. Saudis, UAE, Turkey, even Iran, all see that the US, in  being not engaged, allows them to move in and take over as they can. Burning of the churches: mob incitement by MB accusing Christians of all the problems – slogans and accusations on church walls; also sectarian hatred brewing or a decade; also police unwilling and incapable of protecting churches. Today a grand coalition vs the MB; such coalitions are unlikely to continue.  A new governing formula will emerge: the mil + major families, but whom else to include?  MB? Salafis? Liberals (with the smallest base, no political use to them)? Pres Obama's statement today will lead to no meaningful action.  Great powers gathering around the table 57 years after the Suez Crisis.   Pres Putin has put Russian forces under the command of al Sisi (a sort of joke, in a practical sense, but reassuring to the populace).

Thursday  15 August  2013 / Hour 1, Block B:  Edward W Hayes, criminal defense attorney par excellence, in Bronx Homicide in the 1970s, in re: Stop, question and frisk – cops  haven’t been trained well enough. Is New York the canary in the coal mine?  In the 90s, there was a crime wave in parts of Manhattan; police weren't very organized.  That crime wave could come back – and it strikes mainly poor people.  Wanna know how they won the war on crime? They beat up, roughed up, the criminals; locked 'em in jail. Not nice. "Eddie: the day after tomorrow the squeegee men will be gone." And they were.

The New York mayoralty:  Del Blasio, Quinn.  For Stringer, an Unsuccessful Break from Politics.

Police Dept.’s Focus on Race Is at Core of Ruling Against Stop-and-Frisk Tactic A federal court judge used the term “indirect racial profiling” to explain how the department’s reliance on data was flawed.


Thursday  15 August  2013 / Hour 1, Block C: John Roskam, Institute of Public Affairs
, Melbourne, in re:  Kevin Rudd running for PM; 52/48 in favor of Tony Abbott.  Now, 150 seats up for grabs.  Rich inner-city suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney support Rudd; working class swinging to conservative – "John Howard Labor voters."

Thursday  15 August  2013 / Hour 1, Block D:  LouAnn Hammond,, at a BMW villa in Pebble Beach, in re: BMW Gran Lusso Coupé Concept   Mercedes Is Testing Google Glass Integration, and It Actually Works – capture data from the cloud; Mercedes intends to integrate its map section with glass.  There's a port under the steering column to plug into, if you want. Every car company is looking at the technology; Silicon Valley is suddenly the Motown of technology.  Chevy Corvette Stingray – 7 lbs per horsepower (Porsche requires 9 lbs per HP).

WAL-MART WOES. Wal-Mart Cuts Profit Forecast as Higher Taxes Damp Sales – Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT), the world’s largest retailer, cut its annual profit forecast after higher payroll taxes reduced customer traffic in the second quarter. “How do you get growth when you’ve got the core shopper, who’s a lower-income shopper, who continues to struggle?”  Rich people are doing well; people who work for a living are struggling.

Hour Two

Thursday  15 August  2013 / Hour 2, Block A: Daniel R. Green, Washington Institute, in re: Al Qaeda's resilience in Yemen. Ninety million people in Egypt in emergency alert; 12 churches or more burned, police running rampant.  The next 24 hours: Friday prayers, calling for a millions-of-men march; police gearing up.  A major threat to the US: Yemen, deeply fractured by wars of the last years.   A key distinction between Pakistan and Yemen: al Qaeda in Pakistan are always ethnically different; whereas in Yemen, are local Arabs; "soft-power strategy" with the tribes, who are strong.   When Saleh was president, he played a game with alQ: damp down, then lighten pressure, back and forth. The new president is working to reconstitute himself, address deeper structural problems; embraces operational attacks vs al Qaeda.   US needs to work both with Yemeni mil and with tribes, in wadis.  Houthis [pron: hoo-tees]: Zeydi Shia, live in the north on Saudi border, have carved out their own autonomous region; their rhetoric sounds increasingly Iranian. New GM or al Qaeda, from AQIM, which is doing well despite drone attacks. Merging Saudi (AQAP) and Yemeni branches.

Al-Qaeda's Resiliency in Yemen The closing of U.S. embassies throughout the Middle East due to threats from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) indicates that however successful the U.S. drone program has been, the terrorist group continues to be a resilient, adaptable opponent. On July 16, AQAP second-in-command Said al-Shihri was killed by a suspected drone attack in Yemen, demonstrating the usefulness of unmanned aerial vehicles in degrading al-Qaeda's strength there. Yet the country's interior safe havens allow AQAP to persist even as it endures drone strikes and government military offensives. To address this problem, a new approach is required.  [more]

Thursday  15 August  2013 / Hour 2, Block B: Ilan Berman, American Foreign Policy Council, in re: Middle Eastern regional security.  Rouhani is anything but an iconoclast; he's an organization guy, has been for decades.  He has better, calmer manners than Ahmadinejad does, but is committed to diverting the West in negotiations in order to gain tie for the Iranian nuclear program. He wrote this up in his book. In not a change of tack, it’s a change of tactic. Some observers think the IRGC is running the show; in fact, it’s still strong, but we now see a technocratic portfolio in many ministries. 

Russia: Moscow sees no real US policy in the Middle East, is moving in to take over: Syria, obviously, but now headlong into Egypt.   Photo of smilig Bandar with Putin in Moscow.  Russia is approaching being a Muslim-minority state – 15% and growing, while other parts of the population are not. Russia has supported Shia in Iran and Syria, but is trying to balance that with Sunni friendships.

The Russian Beachhead in Nicaragua Keeps Growing  What is Russia up to in the Western Hemisphere? That's a question increasingly on the minds of Latin America watchers, who have noticed signs that Moscow is again setting up shop south of the U.S. border.  The country getting most of the Kremlin's attention today appears to be Nicaragua. It's a nation of six million that ranks as the second-poorest in the hemisphere. But it also has Daniel Ortega and his leftist Sandinista party—a historic ally of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. After 15 years of anticommunist politics beginning in 1990 under Presidents Violeta Chamorro, Arnoldo Aleman and Enrique Bolanos, Mr. Ortega and the Sandinistas were back in the saddle again by 2006.

Russia did not waste any time capitalizing on its partner's return to power. In mid-2008, the Russian Ambassador to Nicaragua, Igor Kondrashev, began the process of reviving relations when he announced that . . .   [more] 

Thursday  15 August  2013 / Hour 2, Block C: David Andrew Weinberg, FDD, in re:  Peace talks.  Gulf States's relations with Egypt. An apparently new Qatari line to cover over the strategic problems and setbacks. Qataris are the hare – overextended themselves; Saudis are the tortoise, being more skeptical and having pledged $12 bil along with UAE for  _____.AL Jazeera is one of he essential parts of Qatar's soft power, present themselves as independent and neutral, but clearly are influenced by what the emir wants.  Have been called an anti-Saudi mouthpiece. recently 2o-plus staff have resigned over a too-strongly pro-Muslim Brotherhood line in reporting on Egypt.  Qatar's money, airplane, ops, have been principal in moving weapons and men  all around, from Yugoslavia to Libya to Syria, even Sudan.  Tend to favor Ikhwan and even more radical militias. Links to al Nusrah are shadowy; Saudis say: "Cut off the head of the snake" [Iran]; Qataris are more restrained, may favor Iran. n 2010, talk tht Obmama was trying to squeeze out Netanyahu; now, looks more like tual negotiations. Former head of Israeli mil-int said: US has gone from giving Israel a red light vis-à-vis Iran to giving a yellow light.

Today marked the first official trip abroad by the new Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.  Al-Thani met with his Saudi counterpart, King Abdullah, in Mecca, where the meeting came with a tinge of drama.  Qatar, which provided $8 billion to the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt, had been the primary patron of Mohammed Morsi’s government until it was toppled early last month.  Saudi Arabia, together with Kuwait and the UAE, have swooped in as Egypt’s new patrons, pledging a total of $12 billion to Cairo’s interim government.  Saudi-Qatari tensions are nothing new. The Qatari news channel al-Jazeera has at times been described as . . .  [more]

A decade or two ago, American experts focused on the Middle East used to love talking about the “Turkish model” for democracy in the Arab world. The idea was that since Turkey was a Muslim-majority country with a secular, democratic, and pro-American government, this proved that Arab states considering a transition to democracy could have similar aspirations. In American eyes, Turkey proved that Egypt could go the same way.  But with political turmoil in Egypt unfolding in the aftermath of a military-led coup, the Turkish model on which many of us relied is intellectually bankrupt. There are two reasons why this is the case: events in Egypt today seem to fit other elements of the Turkish experience, and Turkey’s own direction in recent years undermines the various ideals that the model was supposed to embody.  If Egyptian politics the past two weeks resemble any strand of Turkey’s political development, it is the country’s legacy of recurring military coups. Afterwards, the US calls for a swift return to civilian rule, but military intervention is accepted as a necessary evil, required to put a stop to widening political polarization and chaos in the streets.  The other reason the Turkish model no longer holds much appeal in Washington for dealing with Egypt is that Turkish politics in the last decade contradict the ideal vision that many of us imposed upon it in our minds. Turkey today is arguably less pro-American and less democratic than it was a decade ago, and the country’s free media has been domesticated by the ruling party.  Egypt’s last year under Mohamed Mursi seemed to be following an exaggerated version of this trajectory. . . .  [more]

Thursday  15 August  2013 / Hour 2, Block D:  Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re: In Egypt, call for millions-of-men march in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood.  Army was under time pressure: the longer the army waited, the better-prepared were the MB. In Sinai: gun-runners, drug lords and al Qaeda. Israel has the means to clean this up but worries about alarming Egypt, which is nominally responsible for Sinai but is incapable of keeping ht peace here.  Ansar Jerusalem group is made of Bedu, considered the most dangerous group. With the continuing influx of weans, primarily from Iran via Sudan, rooting out these terrorists is ever more difficult. Peace talks, PA & Israel: both sides did not want a US rep present. PA sees it’s losing support among Arab countries; they got he prisoner release they wanted, now have to produce.  Ironically: the Palestinians look as though they have the stablest Arab governance in the region (although that's only in the West bank; Gaza is chaotic). PA always complains of being broke even though they get more money than anyone else [for a thousand miles]. What we see in Egypt now is only the beginning of the collapse. 

Hour Three

Thursday  15 August  2013 / Hour 3, Block A: Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re: Iraqi al Q group tried to absorb al Nusrah, unsuccessfully.   The US enjoys less than 1% support n Egypt. PFLP smuggling weapons into Syria – into Hebron in the West Bank; event he PA feels threatened by the unrest in Syria.  Russia supports Iran supporting Syria: Bashir in Sudan smuggles weapons to Turkey to give to FSA to oppose Assad.  Iran and ally of China, Russia and Iran?  Port Sudan – Iran is building it.  Staging ground for arms to Gaza, Lebanon, Sinai, and Syria via Turkey. Even see anti-aircraft weapons provided by Qatar!  FN6:  Chinese-made man pad, shoulder-fired missile can bring down a jet.   Chaos in the region. M f New Zealand announces that al Qaeda is training in Yemen to attack New Zealand. 

Iran is furiously building naval bases in Sudan. Dempsey travels to Israel: "We're better prepared vs Iran than we were a year ago."  Bashir is running guns with a Ukrainian-flagged ship into Sinai.


Thursday  15 August  2013 / Hour 3, Block B: IDF Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael (Mickey) Segall, in re: Hezbollah. EU. Rouhani.

Hassan Rowhani: A Honey Trap for Iran and the World?   [Look at that mug. No honey trap!]  Sayyed Hassan Rowhani, who adopted the color purple during the election campaign, won an overwhelming victory in the first round of the Iranian presidential election with a majority of over 50 percent, leaving Saeed Jalili (who came in second), his bitter rival during the campaign and the favorite of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and certain other conservatives, far behind. The win for Rowhani, a dyed-in-the-wool member of the revolution, will likely . . . [more]

Thursday  15 August  2013 / Hour 3, Block C: Daniel Henninger, WSJ: The Soft-on-Security Issue Returns   Sometimes the planets of politics align. Within days of President Obama's decision last week to appoint a civil-liberties "adversary" inside the U.S.'s antiterrorism surveillance program, a federal judge created a "monitor" to oversee the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk anticrime program. Both these decisions, if allowed to take full effect, run a significant risk that violence will return or increase—as the terrorism of al Qaeda or as murder and assault in New York City….

Thursday  15 August  2013 / Hour 3, Block D:   Will Selway, Bloomberg, in re: Sequestration. Parents Losing Jobs a Hidden Cost to U.S. Head Start Budget Cuts -- While President Barack Obama advocates expanded education for all children under five, the budget deal he cut with Republicans in Congress is throwing poor children out of existing programs. The across-the-board reductions, made through a process known as sequestration, removed about $400 million from Head Start this year, the deepest cut in dollar terms since its 1965 creation. 

Hour Four

Thursday  15 August  2013 / Hour 4, Block A: Scott Atlas, Hoover and Forbes, in re: How Republicans Can Save Obama’s Misleadingly Named Affordable Care Act, 1 of 2

Thursday  15 August  2013 / Hour 4, Block B: Scott Atlas, Hoover and Forbes, in re: How Republicans Can Save Obama’s Misleadingly Named Affordable Care Act, 2 of 2

Thursday  15 August  2013 / Hour 4, Block C: Josh Fourst, Defense One, in re: The U.S. doesn't know how to handle terrorist threats   The mass closure of embassies around the world last week signaled that al Qaeda's reach is growing. Former intelligence analyst for the Pentagon, Joshua Foust, writes why that is not the only red flag to the U.S.'s reaction:  "By publicly announcing that a high-level "conference call" communication had been intercepted (Daily Beast quoted a source describing it as the "Legion of Doom"), the administration revealed a critical edge it had over Al Qaeda communications that is now obsolete. Whether it was a courier or a non-phone "call," or some combination (it remains unclear), the public leaks alert Ayman al-Zawahiri that one of his communications methods has been compromised."

Thursday  15 August  2013 / Hour 4, Block D:   Robert Zimmerman,, in re: A report by NASA’s inspector general of the Orion program says it faces delays and budget overruns.   No surprise. The audit [pdf] tried to put a good spin on NASA’s effort to build this capsule, but you can’t make a beauty queen out of a cockroach. Even though the agency has worked hard to try to contain costs and meet its schedule, it's impossible for NASA to succeed at this under the constraints imposed on it by Congress.  Meanwhile, although [the] report focused on Orion, it also reiterated an oft-repeated point: The money NASA has said it will spend on SLS, Orion and associated ground systems is not enough to stage a mission to any extraterrestrial surface. “Given the time and money necessary to develop landers and associated systems, it is unlikely that NASA would be able to conduct any surface exploration missions until the late 2020s at the earliest,” the report says. “NASA astronauts will be limited to orbital missions using” Orion. In other words, this very expensive project will not go anywhere for almost two decades.

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