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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Thomas Friedman, "Democrats, Dragons or Drones?": Poison Gas, Natural Gas and Farting

Want to earn a degree at home in Middle Eastern studies after seven minutes of course work? Sorry, I'm not in that business and can't help you. However, if you read today's blog item - a bit longer than usual - I promise that you will know more about the Middle East than President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman rolled into one.

Yes, I know that's not setting the bar very high.

The Middle East today? If you take anything at all away from this blog entry, remember: The Middle East is all about poison gas, natural gas and farting.

Poison gas? Chemical weapons were indeed used on Tuesday against civilians near the northern Syrian city of Aleppo by either the rebels or forces still loyal to Syrian mass murderer Bashar al-Assad. You remember Bashar al-Assad? He's the guy who was visited by Kerry almost a half dozen times at the behest of Obama, and who, after dinner with their wives and an intimate motorcycle ride through the streets of Damascus, was labeled "my dear friend" by Kerry.

Kerry, you will recall, not long ago told us that "Americans have the right to be stupid." Well, Kerry continues to exercise that right. Following the deaths of more than 70,000 innocent persons over the past three years in Syria, Kerry declared on Monday that the United States does not oppose arms shipments to the rebels from . . . the UK and France. As reported by the VOA (

"'President Obama has made it clear that the United States does not stand in the way of other countries that made a decision to provide arms, whether it is France or Britain or others,' said Kerry.

Kerry said there is a military imbalance in Syria, with President Bashar al-Assad receiving help from Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia. That imbalance is creating what he called a 'global catastrophe' of Syrian refugees fleeing to Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey."

Yup, a "global catastrophe," so let the English and the French deal with it. You know, more of the Obama doctrine of leading from behind. But wait, out of the mouth of babes . . . . Wasn't it indeed the UK and France that created the artificial borders of the modern Middle East pursuant to the 1916 Sykes-Picot Treaty, when the two allies were busying fighting the Ottoman Empire?

As the old saying tells us, "You break it, you buy it," even if it happened almost a century ago.

Natural gas? As observed by David Brooks, in a recent New York Times op-ed entitled "The Axis of Ennui" (

"Daniel Yergin, an energy guru, noted in Congressional testimony last month that the revolution in oil and gas extraction has led to 1.7 million new jobs in the United States alone, a number that could rise to three million by 2020. The shale revolution added $62 billion to federal revenues in 2012. At the same time, carbon-dioxide emissions are down 13 percent since 2007, as gas is used instead of coal to generate electricity.

Most of us have grown up in a world in which we assumed that energy was scarce, or even running out. We could now be entering a world of relatively cheap energy abundance.

Most of us have grown up in a world in which oil states in the Middle East could throw their weight around because of their grip on the economy’s life source. But the power of petro-states is on the wane."

Moreover, Brooks failed to mention that Israel also has huge deposits of oil shale. As reported by Amiram Barkat for Globes (

"'Within a few years, Israel will become one the largest producers of oil and gas in the world.' That is the belief of Dr. Harold Vinegar, who until three years ago was Chief Scientist, Physics, of energy giant Royal Dutch Shell. Talking to 'Globes', Vinegar says that he estimates that exploration for gas will yield impressive results, but that Israel's true future lies in oil. He believes that the chances of finding regular oil are not high, but that huge quantities of oil shale will make it possible to produce oil in quantities approaching the production of Saudi Arabia"

Can you imagine tiny Israel rivaling Saudi Arabia as one of the world's energy giants? Yes, there is still a glimmer of hope for this world.

In a nutshell, the Muslim Middle East will soon no longer be able to hold the United States over an oil barrel.

And now we come to the matter of human flatulence.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Democrats, Dragons or Drones?" (, would-be Middle East expert Thomas Friedman writes:

"Given its history of brutal dictatorship, Iraq might seem to be the last place in the Middle East we should have tried to help give birth to a self-governing democracy. In fact, it was the most important. Just look at Syria and you’ll understand why. Iraq was made up of all the sects that populate the different Arab countries and have been held together over the last 50 years by iron-fisted dictators. If Iraqis could demonstrate that, once their dictator was removed, the constituent communities of Iraq (Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkmen, Christians) could forge their own social contract for living together peacefully — rather than being ruled brutally from the top down — then some kind of democratic future was possible throughout the Arab world.

That possibility is yet to be fulfilled."

Oh really? Still no "self-governing democracy" in Iraq? Who would have ever imagined that Iraq's Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds wouldn't be able to let bygones be bygones? Not Thomas Friedman. A decade ago, Friedman wrote (

"It is not unreasonable to believe that if the U.S. removed Saddam and helped Iraqis build not an overnight democracy but a more accountable, progressive and democratizing regime, it would have a positive, transforming effect on the entire Arab world -- a region desperately in need of a progressive model that works."

Sorry, Tom, but it was unreasonable.

And if cheerleading the Second Gulf War was not sufficiently inane, Friedman more recently was to be found in Cairo's Tahrir Square, ballyhooing the Arab Spring, which brought us the Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohammed Morsi.

Now I know that this blog item is inordinately long and you are growing tired, but before saying goodbye, please note, kind reader, that the US is still providing Egypt with $1.5 billion in aid each year. What is this aid buying America? See what the Muslim Brotherhood has to say in its own words in its official English website (

"The 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), taking place from March 4 to 15 at UN headquarters, seeks to ratify a declaration euphemistically entitled ‘End Violence against Women’.

That title, however, is misleading and deceptive. The document includes articles that contradict established principles of Islam, undermine Islamic ethics and destroy the family, the basic building block of society, according to the Egyptian Constitution.

This declaration, if ratified, would lead to complete disintegration of society, and would certainly be the final step in the intellectual and cultural invasion of Muslim countries, eliminating the moral specificity that helps preserve cohesion of Islamic societies.

A closer look at these articles reveals what decadence awaits our world, if we sign this document:

1. Granting girls full sexual freedom, as well as the freedom to decide their own gender and the gender of their partners (ie, choose to have normal or homo-sexual relationships), while raising the age of marriage.

2. Providing contraceptives for adolescent girls and training them to use those, while legalizing abortion to get rid of unwanted pregnancies, in the name of sexual and reproductive rights.

3. Granting equal rights to adulterous wives and illegitimate sons resulting from adulterous relationships.

4. Granting equal rights to homosexuals, and providing protection and respect for prostitutes.

5. Giving wives full rights to file legal complaints against husbands accusing them of rape or sexual harassment, obliging competent authorities to deal husbands punishments similar to those prescribed for raping or sexually harassing a stranger.

6. Equal inheritance (between men and women).

7. Replacing guardianship with partnership, and full sharing of roles within the family between men and women such as: spending, child care and home chores.

8. Full equality in marriage legislation such as: allowing Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men, and abolition of polygamy, dowry, men taking charge of family spending, etc.

9. Removing the authority of divorce from husbands and placing it in the hands of judges, and sharing all property after divorce.

10. Cancelling the need for a husband’s consent in matters like: travel, work, or use of contraception.

These are destructive tools meant to undermine the family as an important institution; they would subvert the entire society, and drag it to pre-Islamic ignorance.

The Muslim Brotherhood urges the leaders of Muslim countries and their UN representatives to reject and condemn this document, and to call upon this organization to rise to the high morals and principles of family relations prescribed by Islam.

The Muslim Brotherhood also calls on Al-Azhar (the highest seat of learning for Muslims) to take the lead, condemn this declaration, and state clearly the Islamic viewpoint with regard to all details of this document.

Further, we urge all Islamic groups and associations to take a decisive stand on this document and similar declarations.

In conclusion, we call on women's organizations to commit to their religion and morals of their communities and the foundations of good social life and not be deceived with misleading calls to decadent modernization and paths of subversive immorality.

God Almighty says: "God wants to forgive you, but those who follow whims and desires want you to deviate far away from the Path). {Quran 4 : 27}

The Muslim Brotherhood

Cairo: March 13, 2013"

Enough said. As promised at the onset, if you have read this blog entry from beginning to end, you now know more about the Middle East than President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman rolled into one. Yes, I know that's not much of anything, but it's a start.


  1. Brilliant blog Jeff and all, sadly, completely accurate.
    btw is Vinegar really the name of that scientist from Shell?
    Sounds too good to be true. Oil, Vinegar and aDressing the Middle-East salad.

  2. I read about Dr. Vinegar and the estimated 250bil barrels of shale oil just SE of Jerusalem almost two years ago. I assume that is one reason why Hamas will not change, and why Qatar is funding the Salafis everywhere.

    Y'all should thank Texas for Dr. Vinegar, and the technology, which would explain the ignorance of the coastals who just can't admit that anything positive can come from Texas (Israel's #4 trade partner).

    and, JG, the USA is not going to bother anyone in Egypt about how they treat women.
    However, I do sense that the Copts, and other ME Christians, have risen on the agenda to even Kerry and Obama's altitude.

    btw, just read that Saudi Arabia has enormous shale natgas deposits. It is as if the earth is floating on shale full of oil and gas.