19 September 2008

* Bush Agrees To War On Iran!

The United States has agreed to sell to Israel 1,000 of the very advanced bunker buster GBU-39 bombs. This is a major development as the Bush Administration had denied previous recent Israeli requests for large numbers of this weapon system. The GBU-39 has a stand off range of 110 km and uses pop-out wings with extremely accurate fire and forget technology. It is capable of penetrating 90 cm of steel reinforced concrete. This indicates that the Israeli Government has succeeded in its request that America allow it to attack Iranian nuclear facilities. The GBU-39s will be used extensively in attacks on Iranian targets, as well as on Syrian and Hezbollah high value targets in both Syria and Lebanon.

The Israeli political landscape is about to change. I have been expecting former Israeli Prime Minister, and super war hawk, Benyamin Netanyahu to make a well timed major move. Current Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is about to resign due to his ongoing criminal troubles. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz are in a tight battle to win the vote on Wednesday as Kadima Party Chairman, with the right to attempt to form a new government. However, it appears that Bibi Netanyahu has put together a deal with Labor Party leader, former PM and current Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and the ultra-religious Shas Party to form a government with Bibi as Prime Minister in a few days time.

Count on Bibi Netanyahu lighting a blowtorch in the dry kindling that is the Middle East.

There is a real technical question if the GBU-39 can destroy all of the key known or suspected Iranian nuclear sites, as well as key military sites in Lebanon and Syria. The hardest sites are very well protected. Some experts think that several dozen to a hundred plus GBU-39s targeted at the same spot can take out even the deepest/most harden site; others say that a micro or mini nuke will be required.

The Israeli and American war planners may be counting on all sides refraining from the use of WMD. Rather like Saddam held back his 29 WMD armed (chemical and anthrax) Scud-type guided missiles during the First Gulf War and like Hezbollah did during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. If this is the strategy it is one very, very, massive risk to all involved.

An effective attack on the Iranian nuclear program and likely hidden sites will require a massive number of air strikes over the Iranian land mass. Iran will respond with missile attacks from its territory on Israel and with rocket and missile attacks from Lebanon and Gaza and the West Bank. Israel has tried very hard to convince Syria to part company with Iran but has had little success. Syria has a large number of guided missiles that can reach virtually all parts of Israel.

While the American supplied Israeli weapons, and the Israeli produced guided missiles, are highly accurate the Iranian/Syrian guided missiles are not so accurate (and the many tens of thousands of unguided rockets in Lebanon and Gaza/West Bank are notoriously inaccurate). This means that Israeli civilians will be hit hard if only non-WMD warheads are used. The temptation for Israel to hit back at Iranian and Syrian population centers will be very high. If this happens the cycle of escalation and counter-escalation will likely get out of control; and this is assuming that major efforts will be made to avoid mutual use of WMD in the first place.

Israel has most likely over 600 nuclear warheads from micro nukes to high mega tonnage hydrogen bombs, as well as advanced biological weapons, chemical weapons, radiological weapons, and fuel air explosive based weapons. The Iranian/Syrian side has radiological weapons, fuel air weapons, chemical weapons, advanced biological weapons, and maybe a crude nuclear device or two (doubtful but a remote possibility).

The Iranians have made it clear that they will close the Gulf to oil shipping in the event of a war. Americans have just had a taste of $5/gallon gasoline with Hurrican Ike. A general Middle East War could bring $10/per gallon gas prices to America. The world's economy, already headed to a global depression, will be thrust into the worst depression in human history.

The Iranians are also apt to hit American targets in the Middle East. In any case, any closing of the Gulf will bring a massive American and allied response making the Middle East War a likley global one as massive US/allied air attacks and naval attacks plummet Iran well beyond what Israel began.

If Iran feels that its population is seruously in danger or that its existance as a nation state is at risk, she is apt to use her strategic MAD (mutually assured destruction) force WMD (weapons of mass destruction) on the west and Israel. These weapons are DNA recombination, genetically engineered, advanced biological weapons; man-made viruses that are designed to spread throughtout North America and western Europe using humans as vectors ~ viruses that have never existed before and for which we humans have NO DEFENSE. Iran began an advanced biowar program years ago using out-of-work former Soviet advanced biowar experts, and currently has a world-class advanced biowar program.

Throw Russia and China into this mix and you have World War Three.

(LStirling)

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Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.