Wednesday, April 12, 2006

200+ days to Iran?

Oh-boy another clock!!!!

209 days and counting down.... See it here -

looking at the site - a favorite site of mine when I was foreign producer/editor for a Philippine network's morning show something caught my eye. It probably was there before - a clock showing a count down to conflict or airstrikes versus Iran by the United States.

When I looked today it was a little over 200 days to conflict...

It may seem strange but looking at the present statements from Iran's leadership on the need to acquire nuclear technology one can expect the clock to speed up a bit.

It is clear no mater who you ask in Iraq that there has been support by Iranian interests for insurgents in Iraq- albeit - untraceable directly to government - a BBC report a few weeks back showed near the border at Basra interceptions of components that were believed to have been parts for IED's.

The same can be said for Afghanistan... Where reports increasingly are that some form of aid to hold-outs have been seen and heard and weapons and other goods transported into the afghan wilderness.
Looking at the clock, countdown, or, timer some dates were mentioned;


7 November 2006
The US Congressional elections of 2006 will be held on Tuesday, November 7, 2006. It is unclear how the United States election cycle would influence the timing of strikes against Iran. If the White House is risk averse, it would be unlikely to launch strikes in the run-up to the 2006 election [or the 2008 election]. However, as soon as the election concludes, risk averse domestic political inhibitions about the uncertain consequences of striking Iran might be greatly diminished. Alternately, it might be conjectured that the White House might judge that military strikes would rally the country around the President and his party. This would argue for timing the strikes as little as a week before the election, a pre-planned October

Some analysts predict that Iran could acquire a nuclear weapon as early as 2006. As of mid-2003 the CIA reportedly assessed that Iran was two or three years away from developing nuclear weapons. IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei told Der Spiegel 21 February 2005 that if Iran was determined to have nuclear weapons - as the US believes it is - it was “likely to have a bomb in two or three years”. These estimates
would seem rather pessimistic. A more realistic date would seem to be around 2010.

2007 The year 2007 begins to mark the closing of the window of opportunity for military strkes against Iran.

I hope things come to better alternative than what has happened in Iraq- the consensus among many is that Iran's leaders feel trapped between Iraq on one side and Afghanistan on the other seeing a very likely scenario that the US can hit them from either side and of course the sea if needed.

The Gulf & Hormutz...

Iran however does have a Navy and recently did develop a version of rocket powered submarine launched torpedo that is a variant of russian design- the design - which is based on a rocket powered torpedo that exploded in tests causing the Kursk disaster.

The Iranian test was publicly broadcast and its obvious intent was to show their technological prowess and capability - Iraq did not posses- building weapon deigned ed for Naval warfare- Iraq has tiny coastline with the Gulf and this was never high on Saddams priority list.

Iran does have Six Kilo Class Submaries most have been recently delivered and are new... Iran's Naval forces are more advanced in both riverine and coastal warfare skills if the Iran-Iraq war were to be an example.

The only thing Iraq was better at was using it's Air Force and at that time Iran under US-UK-UN sanctions could do little except doing swap deals with the contra's for spare parts for its own air force.

But even thus hindred they were able to control Iraq's small coastal fleet.

But a rocket powered torpedoes aside - any phase of any air or ground operations is made difficult by Iran's more advanced weapon technologygy programs which have not - like Iraq's under Saddam - been saddled by sanctions over the last decade prior to the conflict.

Iran's Military Industrial complex is at least by report very advanced..Youou can see more on the weapons and development programs that include advanced fighter aircraft designs.

Iran also has very close ties and is the major consumer of Russian and Chinese arms industry firms making them very adapt and more modern itheirer capabilities - also - any actions would most likely not be supported by the UN or rest of the World - even America's mosstaunchestst allies in NATO might stand aside if a conflict were to develop.

So far it has all been talk- but a clock still is ticking..Letsts hope it's stopwatch that will be stopped and reset toward peace in a region too long in conflict!!!

strange how history repeats....

History has many lessons...
The similarities of the past and present fascinate me- In Iraq where the current US counter insurgency fight is ongoing... If one were to look at it from the historical context of the Philippine insurrection - or - Philippine-American War one sees so many similar situations.

The first is troop straight - and years of fighting - according to an article in prologue the magazine of the US National Archives...

Where these photo's are found by the way...
all in the public domain....

" Approximately 125,000 troops served in the Philippines during the war. After more than three years of fighting, at a cost of 400 million dollars and approximately 4,200 American dead and 2,900 wounded, President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed an end to the insurrection in the Philippines on July 4, 1902."

The numbers are nearly the same as Iraq - when one takes into consideration - "volunteers" and Philippine
scouts units also used by the US military in the conflict. Casualties were about 4,200 killed although the injured or wounded figure covered those who per records were "maimed or disfigured" also all figures were only the
US forces - insurgent figures were much higher and civilian deaths and injuries now covered by the infamous "collateral damage"
term were not mentioned.

Beginning in July 2004, the United States began implementing the OIF 3 troop rotation. OIF-3 plans call for troops numbers to be reduced from 140,000 to roughly 130,000. The rotation was slated to take place until March 2005." Reports in its order of battle figures for US troop straight.

More on the reports of tactics used are strikingly similar:

Iraq; "sweeps, conducted in June and July 2003, rounded up hundreds of Iraqis, they angered residents who complained of mistreating, arbitrary arrests and humiliation at the hands of US soldiers." - operations Iraq.

Philippine American War; " wanton violence and slaughter. Villages were destroyed, civilians murdered, prisoners tortured and mutilated along with a host of other atrocities. Many American officers and non-coms had served in the Indian Wars, and thus applied the old belief that "the only good Indian was a dead Indian" to their relations with the Filipinos. This attitude of course was reciprocated by the native forces." - The history guy website...

The conflict however went far beyond the "End of hostilities declaration of president Teddy Roosevelt in 1902 - sounds like the Mission Accomplished statement in 2002! Stranger yet contingencies occur- but here was the scope and length of the conflict

look at the time frame covered by the US Military website listing the official duration of the conflict.


Streamers: Blue with two red stripes

Manila 4 February-17 March 1899
Iloilo 8-12 February 1899
Malolos 24 March-16 August 1899
Laguna de Bay 8-17 April 1899
San Isidro 21 April-30 May and 15 October-l9 November 1899
Zapote River 13 June 1899
Cavite 7-13 October 1899 and 4 January-9 February 1900
Tarlac 5-20 November 1899
San Fabian 6-19 November 1899
Mindanao 4 July 1902-31 December 1904 and 22 October 1905
Jolo 1-24 May 1905 and 6-8 March 1906 and 11-15 June 1913
fig. from

" After these campaigns only scattered insurrectionist elements remained active in north and south Luzon. Lawton (killed on 18 December 1899) drove up the Marikina in December to cut important insurgent communication lines, and Wheaton and Schwan completed pacification of Cavite in January - February 1900. Subsequently, insurgent remnants in the Visayans and Mindanao were dispersed.
The capture of Aguinaldo by Brig. Gen. Frederick Funston, on 23 March 1901, dealt the final blow to the insurgent cause. President Roosevelt announced official conclusion of the Insurrection on 4 July 1902." -

April 30, 2002 was the day the President made his statement -
Now the funny part-

I tried to get the exact term and transcript used on the White House website for President Bush's mission accomplished statement....
*The file you have attempted to access cannot be found. Please check the URL you entered to make sure there were no typing or copy-and-paste errors. You may also use our search facility to help you find the file you are looking for

Please note: many files associated with the previous administration have been removed from this server. Some materials may be available through the National Archives and Records Administration website."

Cooling off in Baguio

From the highland jewel that is Baguio City...

"Four military generals mentioned in the "Hello Garci" recordings..." have been cleared of involvement in cheating in the last national elections here in the Philippines.
"They were not involved in cheating in the 2004 presidential election, according to the findings of a military report that is to be released..." so reports the Philippine's Daily Inquirer website.

To me ok, that's the news- but the story is how and where the report comes from that says so much more Its symbolism is "on vacation..." So things are normal in the sometimes topsy turvy world of Philippine politics and governance.

The President and her Cabinet and the reports coming from the cool "City of Pines" of Baguio, where officials are on a "Lenten retreat" a common practice for decades since the American Colonial and Commonwealth period .

Tens of thousands every year make the trek or rather the drive to escaping the sweltering heat of the lowland plains and coastline.

The summer capital of course is where so much happens on Holy Week and Easter Break its is above the plains are has of course been the "summer capital" and is now far from the little town it once was a hundred years ago.

Baguio has also been home to the only base the US Military never wanted to lose in this part of Asia! Camp John Hay- not because of strategic or military value But climate, the golf, the picture perfect lawns and those little cottages. It has long been known as the perfect rest spot

Looking at the reports coming from there -with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and other Cabinet members on work-vacation-retreat it is clearly a picture that many want to see a break from all the current tension and perhaps a respite from the daily grind of alleged coup plots and intrigue of political infighting that is sadly hurting more than helping the country.

Don't Get me wrong - I don't take sides- I am a journalist- this kind of crisis instability thing is what I cover and make al living from by reporting on it.

But there are times when my editors abroad say - What another one of those stories?
It seems not only locals are fatigued but most of the international press is as well on issues raised over and over and over anew.

Also for us in Media here in the Philippines it is a good excuse to hop up to Baguio and hope they stay a little past Easter Sunday.

It always was my favorite assignment to go up and cover- and - afterwards enjoy the night-life along session road and well wander about.

I always liked the clean easy going place that seems always so open and welcome a alternative to the rest of congestion and traffic of the Capitol Region I'm based in for 90 per cent of the time.

Nightlife has changed things were once so easy to reach- I remember heading out the places we stayed and hoping from one night spot to the next now things have evolved- and so has shopping habits with the entry of SM malls there though.

It used to be the fun of going to the market areas to buy ones needs that also made the trip more of an adventure for those of us mall bound in the metropolis - not - by choice so much as by convince. Its a shame more integration could not be done to make the Mall more market friendly and integrate some aspects of that beyond the traditional chain stores.

Anyhow - in a few hours have to cover another story and taking this break from hard news to add a little color to my usually newsy post with a little bit of the lighter side is something you can here find and view and see more often.

Fewer tourists coming to the USA? Why?

Fewer tourists are coming to the USA... hmmmmm.... Why?
With 300 Million people inside the USA; a backlog of millions more all legally planning to go there and over 12 million "undocumented" or illegally residing in the USA. America has made restrictions at getting visas and travel to America a major reason why so much fewer international tourist prefer other destinations- and it is not only tourism -but trade and investments as well.
The Xenophobia and new rules after 9-11 have hurt the US economy and it is losing billions of dollars in tourism related visitors as well as investors who are going elsewhere rather than have to do all the paperwork to even get a simple US visa to visit or do business.

MSNBC reported in a article of the financial times - " US tourism industry leaders and top government officials on Tuesday urged collaboration between the public and private sectors to stem shrinking US market share of international visitors."-

Lets face it - if anyone has ever tried to do the paperwork and go and do the process in any embassy overseas one understands why the numbers have dropped. In an effort to put on greater security - there has come to fold a wall of sorts over many travelers.
While - "Michael Chertoff, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), told travel industry leaders at the Global Travel & Tourism Summit held in Washington that government is attempting to balance strong security with welcoming foreign tourists." In the MSNBC Post.
I bet the secretary has never had to apply to for US tourist or Business visa and wait ten months to year just to get an interview. In the long run the "Home of the brave..." Seems no longer the apt Term - make it maybe?
"Home of the New Wall or a new Iron curtain of fear!"
It is red tape and bureaucracy that has caused this problem- the pile up of a paper work mess that makes many choose Europe or places like even Vietnam or china over the Californians and Vegas or sleepless seattles or wonderful Oregon coast or beauty of Maine or city that never sleeps New York.

When Paris, may be burning with riots- but much of the Riviera was fine... Montecarlo beaconed and Cannes called. Tourism was down- but people still came...

Italy is always a wonderful stop... Single market worked well too- one currency - one price throughout made Europeans stayed home this last few seasons.

Yes, the higher cost of air travel did kick in- but the bottom line was to much of the world the USA seemed a unwelcome destination with too many problems just to get papers done.

When one talks to US officials about this- the common reply is- the world changed after 9-11, yes indeed it did - the beacon of freedom, the land of liberty, the home of the free and brave- became scared xenophobic and fearful of anything from beyond its shores.

Yes- the common ground is one of the worst terrorist attacks happened and in one day the New York, America's city became a place of victims - throughout the land people have suffered from wide spread traumatic stress since then

But in context- many of the worlds cities have suffered in this war of terror - albeit similar in types of attack but not in terms of scale- but loss of life over years of terror attacks just as much as New York. Look at Tel Aviv or Jerusalem or London or Madrid - where terror has long been used to attempt to change society.

Aside from Al Qaeda - there is Etta in Spain- the IRA in the UK- the various factions from all over the middle east in Israel... Who have bombed and hijacked over the decades- yes 9-11 rudely awoke America to these dangers it faces in this world begin an open democratic society.

Here where I am in Asia from Southern Thailand to Indonesia to the Southern Philippines even here in Manila - terror has often been a weapon of choice for "militants or rebels of whatever's the cause" for years

But overall the people have not changed their attitude that life indeed must go on - and people need to make sure that a bunker mentality and xenophobia over things and people different does not set in. Otherwise those seeking to make the world a unsafe place win.

There is an old saying that prejudice often starts with ignorance and misunderstanding - greatly indeed the USA has championed the teaching of understanding and respect and upholding the freedom of people of all races creeds and social standing... Yet watching the attitudes raised in the face of massive protests - one can see a major reason for the problem.

Many commentators and news networks have wrongly labeled huge massive protests as "marches of illegals" but nothing could be farther from the truth - 80 per cent of the people in those protests are born and raised in the USA.

Another problem is demographic shifts in numbers- take Los Angeles for example - 40 per cent of its population is Hispanic- they are the majority- in many other cities those numbers are rising rapidly- why?

Simple Hispanics as well as Asians have larger families- and lower divorce and abortion rates- so in a few years you may see WASP or White America protesting for "minority rights"

Add also lower immigration numbers from Europe has meant new arrivals - considering under the law - new citizens are allowed to petition for relatives and those come into the country by law in a few years- the numbers will rise from those larger and more recent groups.

But of late it has become a place where the welcome has worn out for even visitors- one need only look at the streets and see- millions protesting draconian laws that could never be enforced. America does not have enough jail cells at present for criminals- if those laws are put into place- where will the USA house or how can they in government even think of putting millions into jail?

Any attempt to do so would seem like NAZI era crackdowns in Germany- I need say what the jails would resemble- lets face it- most people in the world would not accept that "solution".

There is a failure to understand by very parochial congressmen of both the republican and democratic parties that blocked major investments the US Economy needed from China and Bahrain because of ownership issues - even if 99 per cent of those employed would have been Americans- while at the same time using leverage to open foreign industries to US ownership in closed industries in those very nations. Easing trade and investment laws means both ways on two way street.

It's the 1970's fuel and industry crisis all over anew in some ways -sadly those in both houses of the US congress- mostly Euro-centered American business and government officials can't seem to grasp that the weight of the worlds trade is on another shore in the pacific- that the focus of trade and issues should be following the sun west.

It is also from here where most of the worlds tourists are coming from- millions of travelers from china would love to tour America - but present laws and restrictive polices make it almost unreasonable. Perhaps a route that could be followed is Singapore and Hong Kong- say for places like Hawaii and Guam- which need the tourism more than any other part of the USA.

make those places perhaps America's free trade ports of entry and travel- and watch those economies boom! Imagine a free trade hub in the center of the Pacific in Hawaii - or on Guam - all under a US flag with US laws in place.

On the Mainland- or Continental USA - Los Angeles to San Diego could be open for free trade zones- on the east coast- New jersey or Manhattan - imagine the impact of people freely moving and trading and living- fee based it could solve any problems of social security or tax revenue shortfalls.

But those proposals are unlikely to ever be considered- Instead America continues to look toward old oceans and routes and methods of trade that focus far too much within traditional lines of trade and history.

Sadly there will be less and less tourists and more and angst over travel- Collin Powell recently said the USA once the home of the worlds best and brightest on it's University campuses have sadly become devoid of many foreign students who are going else where taking the world free market of ideas with them to other shores in Australia and Europe- which is courting traders, tourists, travelers of all nations in high numbers- one of the highest enrollments for example for foreign minds has been - you guessed it - Bahrain China and yes Russia...

it is ironic that while America declines and thinks of building up walls - Russia which tore down its is become a option for trade, investment, and ideas for many this new world brave enough to open its doors and economies to the world.

Another Pastoral letter...

Oh boy- and I thought it was going to be quiet Holy Week-----

" “Fake" and "deceptive" are words a bishop has used to describe a "people's initiative" to amend the Philippine Constitution, while the president of the bishops' conference called for vigilance."

On another website - you can find the full text to this story.

But in essence - Last April 9th, Palm Sunday, Bishop Vicente Navarra of Bacolod's "Statement of Concern and Opposition to the Signature Drive for the Fake People's Initiative to Amend the Constitution."

Read in the central Philippine diocese's 44 parishes during Masses that ushered in Holy Week....
meaning that over this period... the faithful will be looking into issues beyond penitance and redemption but also on the issues of what is going to be it seems a Noisy Passion play for the peoples support for an inniative that is is supposed to theirs?

I remember when I first started in this Biz a long time ago as a Broadcast Journalist - another Bishop and another set of pastoral letters that carried a message so strong it rocked this country and inspired many to join protests and seek change...

The problem is there have been so many pastoral letters... so many protests that the people themselves are confussed as to what to listen to? Or so it seems in the eyes of this humble blogger, critics and supporters allike all claim there seems to be a fatigue of the streets- a fatugue of decent.

In clinical terms - apathy - in streets terms most people just don't care- in tagalog - manhid na!

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