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ALL BUT WON

It will be some months before the news media recognize it, and a few months more before they acknowledge it, but the war in Iraq is all but won. The situation is roughly analogous to the battle of Iwo Jima, which took place 60 years ago this month. It took 35 days before the island was declared secure, but the outcome was clear after day five, with the capture of Mt. Suribachi. Proof of this was provided by Sen. Hillary Clinton. Iraq is functioning quite well, she said in a press conference in Baghdad Feb. 19. The recent rash of suicide attacks is a sign the insurgency is failing, she said. When politicians like her start flocking to Iraq to bask in the light of its success, then you know that the corner has been turned.

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THE LETHAL WEAPON OF FREEDOM

Many of the brave people in the suddenly democratic Arab streets are inspired by America, and by George W. Bush himself. The president clearly understands this, but, in one of the most frustrating paradoxes of the moment, this vision is rather more popular among the peoples of the Middle East than among some of our top policymakers. For anyone to suggest to this president at this dramatic moment, that he should offer a reward to Iran for promising not to build atomic bombs, or that we should seek a diplomatic "solution" to Syria's oft-demonstrated role in the terror war against our friends and our soldiers, is a betrayal of his vision and of the Iranian, Israeli, Lebanese and Syrian people. Yet that sort of reactionary thinking is surprisingly widespread, from leading members of congressional committees, from the failed "experts" at State and CIA, and even some on the staff of the National Security Council.

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HOW LONG CAN PUTIN LAST?

Only one year after Vladimir Putin handily won a second presidential term, his domestic and foreign challenges are snowballing and his aura of almost superhuman invincibility is quickly dissipating. This is not to say, however, that Putin should be counted out: He is still in control. The question is: for how much longer?Under Putin, Russia is pursuing uneven, unpredictable, and counterproductive policies in its self-declared-and shrinking-sphere of influence, nicknamed the "near abroad." The Russian foreign policy and defense establishment seems unable to design and implement policies that would further develop cooperation with NATO or fight Islamist (Salafi/Wahhabi) terrorism in the Northern Caucasus. Meanwhile, hard-line circles are assailing the Putin Administration for failing to secure the election of pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine despite vast expenditures to do so. Further, the Kremlin failed to control, let alone reverse, ubiquitous corruption in the state apparatus. The Russian state has not become a reliable and civilized partner to domestic and foreign business-which would have provided the rule of law, predictable legislation and regulation, and property rights and investor rights that are not subject to political whims.

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SOME JIHAD!

Bit by bit, we are getting a fuller picture of our enemies on the ground in the Middle East, and the fanciful legend of a bunch of religiously inspired fanatics is eroding. If only someone could convince our so-called intelligence agencies to step away from their false assumptions (Porter Goss was on display last week, babbling about the "Sunni insurgency," as if that nonsense had not been exploded 30 years ago), we might make more progress.We are engaged in a regional war against a terror network that cannot be reduced to a simple ethnic or religious element. The network is bound together by a common hatred of us and our friends and allies, not by a single religious fanaticism, and the terrorists come in all shapes and descriptions. Their effectiveness is largely due to support from the terror masters in foreign countries, and we cannot win the battle of Iraq without destroying the terror masters in Tehran, Damascus, and Riyadh. There is no escape from this destiny. If they survive, we lose.

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IS THE SPEED OF LIGHT SLOWING DOWN?

I’ve received a number of letters regarding the constancy of the speed of light as discussed in Aristotle, Einstein, and Ayn Rand . They ask about an argument claiming that the speed of light is slowing down. The basis for asserting that the universe is billions of years old with galaxies billions of light years away is substantially based on what’s called the red-shift. It’s like a train whistle with its sound waves bunched up coming towards you, then the pitch shifts dramatically as the train passes by with the sound waves stretched out. Light waves from sources racing away from us (such as distant galaxies) are shifted towards the infra-red part of the spectrum. The amount of the shift indicates the distance the light source is from us, because the speed increases with the distance. The claim is that light from distant galaxies is not red-shifted at random but is “quantized,” grouped into “quantum bands.”

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SHARANSKY IN TAIWAN

The ripples don’t stop. The stones hurled into the world’s political lake by the people of Ukraine and Iraq keep generating ripples washing up on the borders of ever-more countries benighted by dictatorship. Now they are about to hit the shores of China. This is thanks to a Taiwanese named Frank Hsieh who has read a book by a diminutive bald ex-Soviet dissident named Natan Sharansky. This is the book - The Case For Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror - that President Bush has absorbed and is giving out to his friends. It is destined to become the most influential book of our day. If you haven’t read it yet, you simply must. Sharansky explains the mechanics of democracy and tyranny that drive the former towards peace and freedom and the latter towards repression and the creation of external enemies. He issues a clarion call for “moral clarity” to distinguish between Free Societies and Fear Societies - an either/or with no society in between. The way to so distinguish is simple - the Town Square Test:

Can a person walk into the town square [of the society in question] and express his or her views without fear of arrest, imprisonment, or physical harm?
If yes, that society is free, if not, it isn’t, period. Moral clarity. Does America (excluding PC university campuses) pass the town square test? Yes. Does Taiwan? Yes. Does China? No. No matter how much economic development China has experienced since Tienanmen in 1989, it remains a Fear Society. And Frank Hsieh knows it. Late last month, Frank was appointed Premier of the Taiwan Government...

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TEHRAN ON THE BRINK?

My friends at RegimeChangeIran have just received a copy of a secret report prepared by the Pasdaran Revolutionary Guards, Iran’s key security forces, for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. It warns they would be unable to control a demonstration or rebellion in Tehran lasting longer than six hours.Here’s the report’s key confession:

Society is in an unstable state. Were certain sensitive locations in Tehran to 'explode' under these circumstances, and the capital sink into chaos, if uprisings continue unabated and grow larger for more than six hours in Tehran, the situation would become uncontrollable.
You can be sure every student protestor in Iran knows about this report by now.

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THE AGE OF DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION

Has there ever been a more dramatic moment than this one for the Middle East? The whole region is boiling, as the failed tyrants scramble to come to terms with the political tsunami unleashed on Afghanistan and Iraq. The power of democratic revolution can be seen in every country in the region. Even the Saudi royal family has had to stage a farcical "election." But this first halting step has fooled no one. Only males could vote, no political parties were permitted, and only the Wahhabi establishment was permitted to organize. The results will not satisfy any serious person. As Iraq constitutes a new, representative government, and wave after wave of elections sweep through the region, even the Saudis will have to submit to the freely expressed desires of their people. Free elections do not solve all problems. Many of the fascist tyrants of the last century were enormously popular, and won huge electoral victories; Stalin was truly loved by millions of oppressed Soviets; and fanatics might win an election today in some unhappy lands. But this is a revolutionary moment, we are unexpectedly blessed with a revolutionary president, and very few peoples will freely support a new dictatorship, even one that claims Divine Right from Allah. But the wheel turns, as ever. Such moments are transient, and if they are not seized, they will pass, leaving the bitter aftertaste of failure in dry mouths and throttled throats.

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THE TRILLION DOLLAR SCAM: Kyoto leaves Oil-for-Food in the dust

One of the busiest guys on Capitol for the next six months will be Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), whom House International Relations Chairman Henry Hyde and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay have put in charge of the new subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight.Dana’s assignment: Expose the entire slimy mess of the UN Oil-for-Food scandal and feed it to the fishes. Doing so will be rewarding for Dana - and frustrating at the same time. For only when his committee is finished gutting Oil-for-Food can he turn to a scandal that leaves it in the dust - the multi-trillion dollar scam of the Kyoto Global Warming Treaty.At the heart of Kyoto is criminally-prosecutable research fraud. This fraud has been used to try and scam hundreds of billions of dollars a year from you and me and all Americans, to try and irreparably damage our economy. The global warming industry is a criminal enterprise, and criminally insane to boot.

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CAN PORTER TURN SYRIA ORANGE?

Immediately after the success of Ukraine’s “Orange Revolution,” all the buzz in foreign policy Washington was: to where can we next export it? Russia? Belarus? Azerbaijan? Iran? The answer became blazingly clear this week: Syria. With Syria’s assassination of Rafik Hariri in Beirut on February 14, Porter Goss has been handed a golden opportunity on a platinum platter to expand the Bush Doctrine in the Middle East and get rid of the Assad tyranny. The critical question: is his CIA up to it? Despite the usual denials and red herrings, only Syria could have made the professional hit on Hariri, with 700 pounds of explosives planted under the asphalt after “repairs” a few days before, blowing up his armored convoy as it passed over. The hit was conducted by a Lebanese unit of Syria’s Shu'bat al-Mukhabarat al-'Askariyya, Military Intelligence Service, on the orders of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s brother-in-law, Assef Shawkat.

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