Senators Barack Obama and Joe Biden got a 10 point bounce coming out of their impressively orchestrated convention. They had been down two points going in; they were ahead by eight on Friday. But McCain’s stunning choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has dramatically changed the equation. According to a new poll out Sunday morning by John Zogby, McCain and Palin now have a two point lead over Obama/Biden, 47% to 45%. [UPDATE:A new CNN poll released Monday morning has it Obama 49%-McCain 48%] That’s a dead heat — again. But the momentum is now McCain’s going into a very challenging week. A Republican convention. A hurricane moving towards the Gulf coast. An economy that’s rebounding (up 3.3% last quarter). The Russian Bear reemerging. And the possiblity of a major war in the Middle East this fall.
[Must-read interview by CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo with Gov. Palin: “Drilling in Alaska is going to be a matter of life and death. Up here in Alaska, we’re bursting with billions of barrels of oil that are warehoused underground. We have to pump [this oil] and feed our hungry markets instead of relying on the foreign sources of energy….I think some in Congress have misconceptions about what ANWR [Arctic National Wildlife Refuge] is all about and what Alaska is all about. When you talk about ANWR and the area that needs to be unlocked so that we can explore more and develop these billions of barrels of oil, it’s a swath of land that’s about 2,000 acres in size—and that’s out of a 20 million-acre plain that has been set aside. So 2,000 acres, that’s like a postage stamp on a football field. It’s about the footprint-size of LAX [airport]. And I think a lot of people have assumed that it’s some mountainous, green valley—an area so extremely pristine that wildlife would be adversely affected; land, water, air would be adversely affected if those 2,000 acres were allowed to be tapped. And that is not true. We have very, very stringent oversight up here in Alaska with our resource development. We would even ramp up that oversight to a greater degree if people would understand the importance of unlocking that swath of land and let the development begin….Just that swath of land in that refuge alone is estimated to hold about 11 billion barrels of oil and 9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. And those are just the areas that have been explored. That’s about a year and a half worth of U.S. oil consumption and many months of natural gas. It’s about a trillion dollars worth of energy. And that’s—again—just that sliver of ANWR. So when we hear, ‘Well, maybe there isn’t enough,’ or ‘Well, it’s too late to drill now anyway, we should have done this five, 10 years ago,’ hey, I can’t argue that. I say yeah, we should have done that years ago. But better to start that drilling today than wait and continue relying on foreign sources of energy. We are a nation at war and in many [ways] the reasons for war are fights over energy sources, which is nonsensical when you consider that domestically we have the supplies ready to go.”]
That said, it remains to be seen whether Governor Palin is ready to be Commander in Chief and the leader of the Free World if something happens to McCain. I want to believe she is, but count me from Missouri on this one — from the “show me” state. The Governor is really going to have to prove herself in the days and weeks ahead by what she says and how she says it. How well does she understand the Putin threat and how to handle a resurgent Russia? How well does she understand the threat of Radical Islam and how to handle Iran, Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan? How well does she understand the rise of China, India and Brazil as global game-changers and what they mean to U.S. security and the global economy? These are the defining foreign policy issues of our time. Sens. Obama and Biden have demonstrated dismal judgment on each of them. This gives the Governor an opening to prove that she has better instincts and the right judgment.
I am not one who believes that people from small town America and governors from states with small populations “don’t get it” and “can’t get it.” I don’t believe that Americans from Washington, D.C. necessarily understand the country and the world better than those from Arizona and Alaska. To the contrary, as someone who grew up in a small town in upstate New York and has now lived in the D.C. area for nearly two decades, I’m highly skeptical of “inside the Beltway” elitism.. So bring it on, Governor Palin. Show us what you’ve got. I want to believe. Many Americans do.
One more thing: Sen. McCain and Governor Palin have a real opportunity to prove themselves to be different kinds of leaders with how they handle this hurricane about to hit the Gulf Coast. I’m praying the natural disaster does not hit, or the damage is minimal. But if it hits hard, I’d love to see the Governor mobilize the Alaskan National Guard to fly in relief supplies to help those devastated. I’d love to see her work with governors throughout the South to mobilize volunteers to help. This could be the Governor’s best possible introduction to the American people — show us you can lead effectively in a crisis, not just issue a press release or give a glitzy speech like your political rivals.
“Palin is not to be underestimated,” says John Zogby. “Her real strength is that she is authentic, a real mom, an outdoors person, a small town mayor….She is also a reformer. A very important demographic in this election is going to be the politically independent woman, 15% of whom in our latest survey are undecided. In the final analysis, this election will be about Obama vs. McCain. Obama has staked out ground as the new JFK — a new generation, literally and figuratively, a new face of America to the world, a man who can cross lines and work with both sides. But McCain is the modern day Harry Truman — with lots of DC experience, he knows what is wrong and dysfunctional with Washington and how to fix it, and he has chosen a running mate who is about as far away from Washington as he could find.”
Tonight, Delaware Senator Joe Biden will accept the vice presidential nomination in Denver. But most Americans have no idea who he really is or what he believes. Here, then, are a few facts worth noting.First, by all accounts, Biden is a wonderful family man who has endured a terrible personal tragedy. In 1972, just before Christmas and just weeks after being elected to his first term in the United States Senate, Biden’s wife and only daughter were killed in a horrific car crash.
“Five years after this [trauma], no one man deserves one great love, let alone two,” Biden later recalled in an interview with David Brody of CBN. “I met and married my wife of 30 years who actually put my life back together again and put my family back together again. But you know, when something like that happens to you. It’s like there’s a big black hole in your chest, and you feel like you’re being sucked in to that black hole. You feel like there isn’t anything that will ever get better again in your life. But my mom has an expression, she said God sends no cross that you cannot bear, and she said, I remember literally the week of the accident her saying ‘Joey, out of everything horrible something good will come if you look hard enough.’ And I thought that was the cruelest thing in the world someone could say, but it’s true.
“Obviously I wished it never, ever, ever happened, but my sons and I, it’s like a steel belt that runs through our chest connecting us. My family is so strong, and I really believe and my wife Jill of 30 years believes that Neilia my wife, is looking down on us. You just never, it never leaves, but there comes a time and it happens earlier than you think, there comes a time when the memory brings a smile to your lips rather than a tear to your eyes. And so many people have gone through tough stuff, but I had family.
“When I went through it I had people helping me. It has taught me that I have such intense admiration for people who are alone and these things happen to and they fight. There are so many people right outside this library, this morning got up, put one foot in front of the other, dealing with crisis that were similar to mine and they do. And they do it for their kids and they do it for their family and they do it without the kind of help I had. I was really lucky. I just had an awful lot of people to help me and they were my family. I’m not very good talking about it as you can see, but I know there is a continuum. I know that God is — there’s a giant piece of my deceased daughter, a giant piece of my deceased wife that is in me and in my children and in my wife.”
Despite such immense pain, Biden emerged as a kind, funny, friendly and personally engaging leader, who has built strong personal and professional relationships with Republicans such as John McCain, among others. To his credit, he has been a good friend of Israel over the years. He has been good on expanding democracies around the world. He was also right on the Georgia crisis, having long encouraged the expansion of NATO to include fledgling democracies.
I like Joe Biden. I like his love of family and country. I like that I can disagree with him but would still enjoy a good policy discussion over dinner. But I do disagree with him profoundly on most important issues. He is, after all, the third most liberal man in the Senate, according to National Journal. And when it comes to most epicenter issues, he is just plain wrong. He reminds me in many ways of President Jimmy Carter in the mid- to late-1970s — kind, friendly, warm, engaging, but someone who often misunderstands the nature and threat of evil, particularly in the Middle East.
* Voted against the Gulf war in 1991 to liberate Kuwait
* Voted against “the surge” in Iraq in 2007 to defeat the Jihadists [Told the Boston Globe in the summer of 2007: “The surge isn’t going to work either tactically or strategically.”]
* Opposes “regime change” in Iran. [“Instead of regime change, we need to focus on conduct change.” — speech on Iran at the Iowa City Public Library on December 3, 2007]
* Believes in direct negotiations with Ahmadinejad
* Voted against a bill to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a “terrorist” organization
* Strongly opposes taking preemptive military action to neutralize Iran‘s nuclear weapons threat and has threatened to impeach President Bush if he bombs Iran
* Does not see Ahmadinejad’s End Times theology as a serious problem. [“My concern is not that a nuclear Iran some day would be moved by messianic fervor to use a nuclear weapon as an Armageddon device and commit national suicide in order to hasten the return of the Hidden Imam. My worry is that the fear of a nuclear Iran could spark an arms race in the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, and others joining in.” — speech on Iran at the Iowa City Public Library on December 3, 2007]
* “In 1979, he shared Carter’s starry-eyed belief that the fall of the shah in Iran and the advent of the ayatollahs represented progress for human rights,” writes Amir Taheri, the former editor of one of the largest newspapers in Tehran and a respected analyst of the current regime. “Throughout the hostage crisis, as US diplomats were daily paraded blindfolded in front of television cameras and threatened with execution, he opposed strong action against the terrorist mullahs and preached dialogue….For more than a decade, Biden has adopted an ambivalent attitude towards the Islamic Republic in Tehran, now emerging as the chief challenger to US interests in the Middle East. Biden’s links with pro-Tehran lobbies in the US and his support for “unconditional dialogue” with the mullahs echo Obama’s own wrong-headed promise to circumvent the current multilateral efforts by seeking direct US-Iran talks, excluding the Europeans as well as Russia and China.”
There is much more to learn about Joe Biden, to be sure. But hopefully this is helpful as you watch the convention tonight.
GLENN: I also wanted to get Joel Rosenberg on the phone with us. Joel is the author of several books. He was the? ?they called him the Nostradamus of 9/11 after 9/11 because he wrote a book. What was the name of that book, Joel? What was it?
ROSENBERG: The Last Jihad.
GLENN: The Last Jihad. In it, he had jihadists flying planes into buildings but it was in Denver, Colorado. And then we had people saying, oh, my gosh, he’s going to actually say what he believes, that’s politically incorrect for us. And so Joe went into nether regions of places like shows like mine and where he continues to speak his mind and tell the truth as he sees it. Joel, I thought about you last? ?in the last few weeks with Russia. You and I have talked about, over a year ago about how dangerous Russia is and how Russia has its alliance with Iran, and I thought of you Glenn last week because I believe you told me a while back, watch for Russia and Syria to also get in bed and that’s what they were doing last week.
ROSENBERG: Well, that’s right, Glenn. You and I have spoken extensively over the last several years about the rise of Vladimir Putin as a czar and this week, of course, my original nonfiction book on this, Epicenter, has just been released, Epicenter 2.0in paperback which we update extensively the last two things that have happened with Russia, Syria, Iran the Middle East but there’s going to have to be a 3.0 now because it had already went to press before this Russian invasion of Georgia. And, of course, this new alliance is building with Syria. It’s very, very dangerous. As I said? Epicenter originally, who was not going to leave office? I actually sat in the U.S. embassy in Moscow meeting with all of their top political analysts four years ago and I said with Vladimir Putin’s power to himself, rebuilding the Russian military and threatening its neighbors, do you really think he’s going to step down when his term ends in 2008, and every single one of them, Glenn, said absolutely. I said, why? What would be the incentive for him to leave? He said, well, he’s sort of a Catholic legalism. He would just go because it’s the right thing to do. And I said, what would he do? I mean, go to Club Med, you know, run a dot com?
GLENN: No. He could have run like a Taekwondo class.
ROSENBERG: Perhaps. In fact, he didn’t leave. He just changed hats from president to prime minister and now he’s taken the first military action outside of Russia since 1979 when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan.
GLENN: Okay. So here’s the thing. I wanted to talk to you, Joel, because, you know, you are the guy? ?in case anybody hasn’t read any of Joel Rosenberg’s book, you need to. They are absolutely tremendous. And this is really for the freak edge, I think, but I believe there are a lot of people? ?no, no, no, come on, Joel. You and I? ?
ROSENBERG: President of crazy town.
GLENN: What did you say?
ROSENBERG: President of crazy town.
GLENN: But I have a lot of for the president. I’m the mayor of crazy town. You may be the president. We’ve talked about this before. We are in the minority of people, but there is a growing number of people that have a gut that is saying to them these are important times biblically speaking, and I think that as Connie Rice said, there are birth pangs that we are experiencing now. She said we experienced about three or four years ago and they are coming faster and faster. And I wanted to pick your brain on a couple of things just with Russia and Iran. Do you, first of all, believe that Israel will attack Iran before Bush leaves office?
ROSENBERG: Well, I wouldn’t want to predict it, but the signs are looking increasingly like that’s what the Israelis are preparing for. They believe that they have a window that’s rapidly closing. President Bush has been the most pro Israel President in American history. Certainly not perfect but, look, here’s the situation. They believe that Iran could have nuclear weapons by sometime mid to late 2009, number one. Number two, the Russians have sold a billion dollars worth of ground to air missile defenses to Iran. Haven’t delivered them yet but plan to sometime mid to late next year. Three, President Bush, because he’s been so supportive of Israel, might give Israel cover if Israel felt it needed to strike before those antiaircraft missiles were operational and before Iran had nukes. Where does that leave you? It leaves you with a window between the end of the American election in November and the inauguration of whomever is going to be the next President, and I think? ?and all signs seem to be indicating Israel’s preparing for a possible first strike very similar in their view to 1967 where they were surrounded by enemies who were threatening to throw the Jews into the sea, and Israel had two bad choices: Attack first and hope to neutralize the threat, as bad as that would be; or wait for a first strike against them which could eliminate their country. They chose to strike first. It didn’t turn out as bad as they thought, but the world, you know, the world’s now looking at a very similar situation to 1967.
GLENN: What do you think Russia? ?what role will Russia play? I think Russia will move to block for us.
ROSENBERG: They already are clearly. I mean, the Russians are now building? ?not only have they formed an alliance with Syria but Russia’s been selling billions of dollars worth of missiles and jet planes, fighter jets to Syria. And now they’re finishing up negotiations on building a Russian naval port in Syria because they are trying to move the Russian Navy back into the Mediterranean as they were trying to control that region during the Cold War. This is incredibly dangerous. And what’s happening is, what’s happening aside from Washington seeming to realize it or care is that Russia has joined the axis of evil.
ROSENBERG: It is selling weapons to our worst enemies: Iran, Syria, North Korea, and yet the? ?
GLENN: Putin? ?
ROSENBERG: Washington is generally feeling like, I don’t know if we really want to cause a problem with Russia.
ROSENBERG: We’re not causing the problem.
ROSENBERG: We just need to acknowledge it for starters.
GLENN: Putin thinks that he can control? ?I really think he’s looking at the Middle East as fuel. Not only control of oil but I mean actual fuel. He will use the Middle East to get his, you know, his dirty dealings done, but he really believes that he can control these crazies in the Middle East, doesn’t he?
ROSENBERG: He does. Putin, like many in the West, fundamentally misunderstands the nature and threat of the evil that is this particular regime in Iran. I distinguish the regime from the Iranian people, 70% of whom roughly have turned away from Islam and actually are quite pro American. But at the regime level this is not your? ?you know, this is not your grandfather’s Oldsmobile. This is not the same Iranian leadership that was nutty, crazy, dangerous. This is out of control dangerous now. Why? Because as you and I have discussed and as I discuss in this Epicenter book, the president of Iran as well as the supreme leader, the Ayatollah Khomeini, they fundamentally believe that they have been chosen by Allah to alienate the United States and Israel to usher in the return of the Islamic Messiah known as the Mahdi. Now, Putin, I think because he is not a religious person and because he comes from a communist atheist system, just doesn’t understand that Ahmadinejad and Khomeini are crazy. I mean, they really are the type of people that will blow up the world if they get the chance. I think Putin thinks that he as the czar has control over them and I think he’s making? ?he’s playing with fire. He’s making a major mistake but he’s not the only one. You have the Democratic nominee, or presumptive nominee. But assuming that Clinton doesn’t steal it away in the next couple of days. You know, Senator Obama wants to sit down with the president of Iran.
GLENN: Does the idea of Joe Biden you feel any better?
ROSENBERG: Well, I like Joe Biden. He’s a nice, friendly guy. I disagree with him on just about every issue except for one day when he voted for the war in Iraq before he voted against it.
ROSENBERG: I mean, these guys, it’s interesting. But no, you know, you’d like to think that Senator Obama was hiring a grown up to oversee him, but Senator Biden’s judgment on a lot of major foreign policy issues has been disastrous. I would note that before he briefly had sanity on the Iraq issue, previously he had voted against the war to remove Saddam Hussein from the raping and pillaging of Kuwait back in 1990. So I think there’s some trouble there.
GLENN: Yeah. He was also for d??tat with Russia. Does it make you nervous at all? I mean, putting this in biblical terms, you know, you have described that it is the alliance between Russia and Iran that the book of Revelation points out as being a gigantic sign.
ROSENBERG: Well, the book of Ezekiel, yes. It’s the event, the Ezekiel prophecies of Chapters 38 and 39 precede the events that will happen in Revolution but there’s certainly a precursor for, a precondition for the total end of the world scenario that was laid out in Revelation. Yes. Look, I’m? ?as you and I have talked about, I’m an evangelical Christian from an orthodox Jewish heritage. My orthodox Jewish grandparents and great grandparents actually escaped out of Russia in 1907 when czar Nicholas II was trying to kill as many Jews as he could get his hands on. And what has always intrigued me from that Russian heritage, Jewish heritage and my evangelical Christian faith in the Bible is that the Bible is the only document in human history that said that Israel would be reborn as a country in the last days, that Jews would come back to the Holy Land after centuries of exile and then Russia, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, a group of other Middle Eastern countries would surround Israel and try to destroy her in those last days.
Now, we’ve seen a number of those specific elements already take place. We just celebrated the 60th anniversary of the rebirth of Israel. Jews are continuing to pour back into the Holy Land and now we’re watching this Russian/Iranian/Syrian/Sudanese, et cetera alliance. I’m not saying that we are definitely going to see the total fulfillment of the Ezekiel 38 and 39 prophecy in our lifetime.
GLENN: But you are not not saying it, either.
ROSENBERG: You couldn’t rule it out based on the trajectory which seems to be accelerating. Look at it. That Bible prophecy that we’re talking about, Glenn, talks about Russia coming from the north with its allies to attack Israel. Now, take out a map. Go to Moscow. Go straight south and before you get to Israel, where do you drive right through? Georgia.
BECK: Well, while the Democratic National Committee was trying to figure out how to buy organic fanny packs for the convention, not kidding, the President of Syria was busy in Moscow doing a little shopping of his own. The next generation surface-to-air missiles, one size fits all.
Russia has provided weapons to Syria in the past, but until now they`ve been holding back all the good stuff. The Syrian President at least thought, the whole Russia/Georgia/Moscow/Washington tension things might be a good time to exploit the previous arms sales restraint. And they did.
So what does it mean for the U.S. and our allies, a.k.a. Israel? Well, according to the “New York Times,” it`s no big deal, just possibly the end of counter-terrorism and nuclear non-proliferation cooperation, manipulation of oil and natural gas supplies, pressure against in United States military bases in Central Asia and the collapse of Cold War arms era treaties.
Other than that, don`t worry about it.
Joel Rosenberg is the author of “Epicenter 2.0.” Joel, I`ve been called crazy, because I was the mayor of Crazytown because I`ve been saying, look out, the economy, coming storm. Then Bear Stearns collapsed, now everybody was on it.
You`ve been the mayor of Crazytown, this seems to look a lot like scripture stuff. You told me, Syria, Russia, look out years ago. Here it is. What`s it mean?
JOEL ROSENBERG, AUTHOR, “EPICENTER 2.0”: Well, that`s right. As I laid out in my non-fiction book “Epicenter 2.0,” Russia is a serious problem as it`s being led by Vladimir Putin.
When the original edition of this “Epicenter” book came out two years ago, you and I were saying, very few people were talking about Putin being a real threat to the world. But as you point out, as I point out in the book, he is arming Iran. Russia is arming Syria. Russia is arming Sudan. Russia is arming Islamic countries that are our enemies.
Now Russia under Putin has taken direct aggressive military action in Georgia, invading Georgia, attacking and killing Georgians, innocent civilians; the first time that Russia has used military force outside of its borders since 1979 when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan.
BECK: All right. I want to put up a map here. You tell me what this map means. Put this map up, it`s a straight line from Moscow to Jerusalem.
ROSENBERG: Well, what`s interesting about this is that in a Bible prophecy, in the book of Ezekiel Chapter 38 and 39, what is know by Bible scholars as the War of Gog and Magog, the Ezekiel prophet wrote that Moscow, Russia would eventually form an alliance with Iran, Sudan, Syria, these other countries and come down from the north and attack Israel after Israel had been reborn as a country in the last days of history.
What`s interesting about this —
BECK: You`re a drag. Seriously.
ROSENBERG: If a straight line, as this map shows, from Russia through Israel, you have to go through Georgia. I`ve told you before on radio, on television, I`m not saying for sure that this prophecy is coming true in our lifetime. It`s too early to say that, but in 2,500 years since Ezekiel wrote the prophecy, we haven`t seen the convergence of events as we have in just the last few years and I would say even in the last few weeks.
BECK: Joel, let me ask you a question. Do you ever think to yourself, I mean, Jesus, just get it over with, come on, what are you waiting for, just do it?
ROSENBERG: No, just the opposite. I really want the Gospel to get spread in Russia, in Iran, in Syria, and elsewhere.
BECK: It`s a lot of work, Joel.
ROSENBERG: I pray for peace.
BECK: A lot of work.
ROSENBERG: We`ve got to pray for peace but prepare for war. We have to understand that Vladimir Putin is an enemy. He`s not a friend, he`s not a partner for peace, he is an enemy. I`ve been saying this for more than two years. Now I think it`s very clear to the world that he is building — he has joined the axis of evil.
BECK: It is really, it is — and I think we said it on this program two years ago as well that the axis of evil, the allies and axis power are forming. And now I think Russia has finally stepped out into the open and said, oh, yes, by the way, we`re the head of it.
Because they really are, because of their massive size, because their resources, their natural resources, because of the resources of nuclear weapons, et cetera, et cetera. I see them coming in and playing a role of protector, really, of Iran. If Israel goes in and they`ve got a closing window, if Israel goes in and attacks Iran, I think Russia`s going to stand in between and say, hey, America, back off, or it`s war on us.
ROSENBERG: I think that Putin is probably sending messages right now that Israel shouldn`t do this and is in fact, of course, arming Iran rapidly with billions of dollars worth of high-tech weaponry.
And you`re right; this window is closing for Israel. The United States doesn`t seem to have any interest in neutralizing the Iranian nuclear threat before the Bush administration is over and we don`t know who the next president will be. We`re in a dead heat right now.
BECK: Hang on, hang on, hang on. I have to take a quick break. Let me come back and I want to pick it up there on is there a difference between these politicians and why the pick of Joe Biden. Coming up in just a sec.
Back in a minute.
BECK: Back with the author of “Epicenter 2.0,” Joel Rosenberg.
Joel we were talking about Russia and Putin and Iran and Israel. I think the window is between Election Day — I don`t think Israel will move before Election Day — between Election Day and, what is it, January 20 something, for inauguration day, that they would go in and move, do you —
ROSENBERG: Correct, sir. That is increasingly likely, I think. That`s what`s so worrisome.
Look, Israel has a very narrow window because it wants President Bush still be in power because Bush has been the most pro-Israel president in history. But also, the Russians have sold a billion dollars worth of anti- aircraft missiles to Iran. They haven`t delivered them yet. So there`s another six to eight months before those systems get in place.
BECK: Biden, I think, was picked because — I mean Obama, he just looked horrible on the Georgia thing. And I think Biden was picked because it was like, okay, we need somebody who can recognize a map of the world and who the good guys and bad guys are, but Biden can`t even recognize the bad guys. He doesn`t know who the bad guys are with Russia.
He was for detente, he was with Jimmy Carter thinking that the fall of the Shah would be a good thing for the people of Iran. I mean, this guy has got it wrong as much as Jimmy Carter has had it wrong.
ROSENBERG: Well, sadly, that`s true. Joe Biden is a nice guy and he was right on Georgia — he was, not Obama, in wanting to expand NATO to include Georgia, but Senator Biden opposes regime change in Iran. He wants direction negotiations with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He said that if Bush were to bomb Iran to neutralize the nuclear threat, he would impeach him.
This is a very serious set of misjudgments that has just been added to the Democratic ticket.
BECK: How are you against regime change in Iran? I can`t even —
ROSENBERG: Senator Biden has said, I posted these quotes directly on my Web log, but he said he wants conduct change, not regime change.
I`m sorry, that`s fundamentally misunderstanding who`s in the regime. The Ayatollah Khamenei and the President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, these men believe fundamentally that they`ve been chosen by God to bring about the Islamic Messiah by destroying the United States —
BECK: You`re harshing my mellow, Joel.
ROSENBERG: Well, this is what`s dangerous. If you — men like this who might lead our country, if they don`t understand who the enemy is, they`re going to make wrong choices.
BECK: See what I mean? Joel, thank you very much.
That`s what I`m saying, America, I don`t know about anybody else, but come on, Jesus, I`m sleepy, bring it on.
From New York, we`ll see you tomorrow. Good night, America.
“In 1979, he shared Carter’s starry-eyed belief that the fall of the shah in Iran and the advent of the ayatollahs represented progress for human rights,” writes Amir Taheri, the former editor of one of the largest newspapers in Tehran and a respected analyst of the current regime. “Throughout the hostage crisis, as US diplomats were daily paraded blindfolded in front of television cameras and threatened with execution, he opposed strong action against the terrorist mullahs and preached dialogue….For more than a decade, Biden has adopted an ambivalent attitude towards the Islamic Republic in Tehran, now emerging as the chief challenger to US interests in the Middle East. Biden’s links with pro-Tehran lobbies in the US and his support for “unconditional dialogue” with the mullahs echo Obama’s own wrong-headed promise to circumvent the current multilateral efforts by seeking direct US-Iran talks, excluding the Europeans as well as Russia and China.”
Epicenter 2.0 has just been released. This paperback is fully updated with a new foreword, and an extensive new afterword covering major developments that have occurred in Russia and the Middle East since the original hardcover edition released in September 2006. It also contains transcripts of interviews with key Israeli leaders and evangelical theologians that I conducted for the Epicenter documentary film. I’ll be on Glenn Beck’s radio show this morning from 11am to 11:30am eastern to discuss the book and the latest developments with Vladimir Putin, Russia, the crisis in Georgia, and the implications for the American presidential campaign. I will also be on Glenn’s TV show tonight at 7pm, 9pm and midnight eastern. Hope you can join us.
My grandparents and great-grandparents were Orthodox Jews who escaped Czarist, anti-Semitic, fascist Russia around 1907. They were fortunate. They got out. Many were not so blessed. But ever since, my family has kept a watchful eye on Moscow. We love the Russian people, but we don’t trust the Kremlin, which Ronald Reagan rightly described as running an “Evil Empire.” It was, after all, Russian leaders who launched the Communist Revolution in 1917 and built the Soviet Union that brought so much pain and misery to the Russian people and enslaved hundreds of millions of others. It was Russian leaders who were responsible for the death of well over 20 million people during Stalin’s reign of terror. It was Russian leaders who started and fueled the Cold War for half a century, even trying to position nuclear-armed missiles on Cuba, 90 miles off our shores, a crisis that brought the world within days of a thermonuclear war. I could go on and on, but you know the history, too.
How is it possible, then, that so many political leaders, policy analysts and pundits in the West fundamentally misunderstand the nature and threat of evil that Russian leaders have posed for so long? And how is it possible that they misread the motives and blood-thirsty ambitions of Vladimir Putin for so long?
Consider a column this morning by Tom Friedman of the New York Times. Now, Friedman is a brilliant guy and a fabulous writer. One of my favorite books of all times is his From Beirut To Jerusalem, describing his remarkable experiences as the Times bureau chief both in Lebanon and Israel during the 1980s. The World Is Flat is also an intriguing and provocative work. Butthe column he wrote this morningabout the Russian aggression against Georgia misses the mark so badly I have to comment on, respectfully.
“After the collapse of the Soviet Union, I was among the group of Americans — led by George Kennan, the father of ‘containment’ theory, Senator Sam Nunn and the foreign policy expert Michael Mandelbaum — that argued against expanding NATO, at that time,” he writes. “It seemed to us that since we had finally brought down Soviet Communism and seen the birth of democracy in Russia, the most important thing to do was to help Russian democracy take root and integrate Russia into Europe. Wasn’t that why we fought the Cold War — to give young Russians the same chance at freedom and integration with the West as young Czechs, Georgians and Poles? Wasn’t consolidating a democratic Russia more important than bringing the Czech Navy into NATO. All of this was especially true because, we argued, there was no big problem on the world stage that we could effectively address without Russia – particularly Iran or Iraq. Russia wasn’t about to reinvade Europe.”
Then, he quotes Michael Mandelbaum, a professor of foreign policy at Johns Hopkins University and a former foreign policy advisor to President Clinton. “The Clinton and Bush foreign policy teams acted on the basis of two false premises,” said Mandelbaum. “One was that Russia is innately aggressive and that the end of the Cold War could not possibly change this, so we had to expand our military alliance up to its borders. Despite all the pious blather about using NATO to promote democracy, the belief in Russia’s eternal aggressiveness is the only basis on which NATO expansion ever made sense — especially when you consider that the Russians were told they could not join. The other premise was that Russia would always be too weak to endanger any new NATO members, so we would never have to commit troops to defend them. It would cost us nothing. They were wrong on both counts.”
Executive summary: Friedman and Mandelbaum have believed for years that it was a mistake for the West to expand NATO because Russia was no longer a threat after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and now they are saying “we told you so” as if NATO and the West are to blame for the death of thousands in Georgia and South Ossetia, not the Russian leadership.
Excuse me? How is it possible that people so smart can say things so foolish? First, sadly, the vast majority of Russian leaders over the past century have been “innately aggressive,” up to and including Czar Putin. Second, the Cold War did not change this fact. Third, Russia did just invade a European country and is now threatening unspecified military action against Poland as well (and don’t forget Ukraine and the Baltic states which are now feeling endangered, as well). Fourth, NATO membership for Georgia would have prevented this Russian aggression. NATO’s refusal to include Georgia this spring told Moscow it could act with impunity. Fifth, NATO exists precisely to protect European democracies from Russian aggression and we should be letting more democracies in, not keeping them out, precisely because of what we have seen Moscow do for the past few weeks.
I have said it before, but it bears repeating: To misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blind-sided by it. Friedman, Mandelbaum, and many others in Washington and Brussels were blind-sided by Russia’s move in Georgia precisely because they don’t understand who Putin really is, and apparently they didn’t fully understood the nature of the Stalinesque Soviet leaders and Russian Czars that preceded him (Gorbachev and Yeltsin being welcome exceptions to the rule). Unless they wake up and realize soon who Putin is and what he really wants, they are going to be ill-prepared for the horrors that lay ahead.
At 7:10 eastern this morning, I was interviewed by John Gamblingon WOR radio in New York City. The topic: Putin and Bible prophecy. Specifically, has Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Georgia triggered a new Cold War, or is it about to? And does the Bible predict the rise of a violent dictator in Russia who will threaten his neighbors in “the last days”? In the next few hours, that interview will be posted in a podcast on WOR’s website. The short version, however, is yes, and yes. That said, let me be clear: It is too early to say that we will see the complete fulfillment of the prophecies of Ezekiel 38-39 in our lifetime, much less soon, and it is certainly too soon to say that Putin is the prophesied dictator referred to by Ezekiel as “Gog.” Nevertheless, Putin is certainly Gog-esque, and he is taking the world down a very dangerous road that is certainly consistent with Ezekiel’s prophecies. Readers of my first hardcover non-fiction book, Epicenter, will recall that Chapter Seven is all about a “future headline: A Czar Rises In Russia, Raising Fears Of A New Cold War.” That was two years ago. A fully updated paperback edition — EPICENTER 2.0— releases in days. But consider some of the headlines we’ve read just in the last ten days:
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has officially resigned,telling his country of 160 million people in a televised address, “I hope the nation and the people will forgive my mistakes.” Pakistan now enters a dangerous moment of instability. It is not yet clear who will replace Musharraf, and as I’ve written before, Pakistan has long been one car bomb away from a bin Laden-ally seizing power. Should an al Qaeda-type Radical gain control of the country and its nuclear weapons, we could be facing an apocalyptic moment. Let us pray without ceasing that a Reformer will emerge who is respectful of Islam but is committed to true freedom, democracy, and the rule of law and who can root out corruption and protect minorities throughout the country. Note, however, that the last Reformer who began emerging there was Benazir Bhutto who was then assassinatedafter returning from exile. For all his many flaws, Musharraf was steadily becoming a Reformer. After 9/11, he became a key ally of the U.S., helping us in our war against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan rather than interferring. He and his security forces worked closely with us to capture numerous top jihadists, including Khalled Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11. He was also supportive of protecting Pakistan’s rapidly growing Christian minority, which has been very important because Muslims are turning to Christ there in record numbers (I just met with a top Pakistani Christian leader for lunch last week and learned that there are now more than 2.5 million MBBS or Muslim Background Believers there.) Musharraf, to his great credit, also dramatically reached out to Israel,in defiance of the jihadists in his country. He once shook hands with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, something the Saudis won’t even do, and gave a remarkable speech to the American Jewish Congress in New York City in 2005. Let us pray for this important nation as it enters a time of great change and risk.
At the time, William G. “Jerry” Boykin was a three-star Lieutenant-General in the United States Army, serving as Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence. As such, he was responsible for overseeing the gathering and analysis of all military intelligence related to the Global War on Terror. He had read my first non-fiction book, Epicenter, and had invited my wife, Lynn, and me for lunch to discuss my research and conclusions.
After taking us and some mutual friends on a tour of the E-Ring – the building’s innermost corridor of offices, reserved for the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and their top assistants – General Boykin took us to a private executive dining room where we began to chat. We talked about his family and his years in the military. We talked about his thoughts on the on-going battles in Iraq and Afghanistan, and about the rising Iranian nuclear threat. He asked me about my assessment of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and why I believed the president’s Shia eschatology, or End Times theology, was driving Iranian foreign policy. It was not a subject that was being discussed inside the Pentagon’s higher echelons at the time, and he was curious. It was the beginning of a friendship that would soon deepen between two our families.
As I was already doing research for my forthcoming non-fiction book, Inside The Revolution (due out March 2009), I found myself intrigued by Boykin’s first-hand knowledge, and perspective, both as a high-ranking general, and as a devout evangelical Christian. Few men I had ever met in Washington better understood the mindset and mission of the Radicals better than he did. Boykin had, after all, been hunting them for nearly thirty years. When the Iranian Revolution erupted in 1979, for example, Boykin was a 31-year old commando training with the U.S. Army’s newly formed and highly classified counter-terrorism unit known as Delta Force. No sooner had Radicals seized the American Embassy in Tehran and took dozens of America diplomats and Marines hostage in November of that year, Boykin and his boss, Col. Charlie Beckwith, the legendary Delta commander, were ordered to the Pentagon. There they were briefed on the latest intelligence and were ordered to begin planning a rescue.
This was America’s first direct confrontation with Radical Islamic Jihadists. No one in Washington had ever encountered a crisis quite like this. In the months that followed, Boykin and his colleagues studied everything they could on the Ayatollah Khomeini, the nature and loyalty of his followers, the students that had stormed the Embassy compound, and the religious and political beliefs that drove them to wage Jihad against the West. When President Carter finally ordered the ill-fated rescue of our hostages, Boykin was one of the Delta team leaders penetrating Iranian airspace in the dark of night. The mission, sadly, was a disaster, not simply for the failures of equipment and training, but because it emboldened the Radicals, giving them a sense of divine choosing and invincibility.
Now, Boykin has just released his memoirs – Never Surrender– and they are absolutely fascinating. In an almost thriller-novel-like-read, he describes what led up to the ill-fated rescue mission, and just what went wrong. He also takes you inside his world as he and his special forces compatriots liberate Grenada from pro-Soviet Communist forces, and later hunt down Manuel Noriega, the drug-running, Satan-worshipping Panamanian dictator. By the early 1990s, Boykin was commander of Delta Force, including during the whole Black Hawk Down episode in Somalia. In his book, he takes you inside the operation and provides details and analysis of how events really played out in a way the movie never did. As I wrote in my endorsement: “Never Surrender is a phenomenal book by a man of great courage and an inspiring faith. Boykin takes us with him inside some of the most intriguing special operations in modern American history. He explains the magnitude of the threat posed by rogue states and radical leaders who don’t simply want to frighten us but to annihilate us. I loved every page. You will, too.”
I asked the General if I could interview him both for the release of his book, and in doing research for my own. He graciously agreed, having also been our keynote speaker at the Epicenter conference in Jerusalem. Here are a few excerpts from our conversation:
“With all your years experience in the Pentagon, commanding Delta Force, hunting jihadists around the globe,” I asked, “in your judgment, how serious to US national security is the threat of radical Islam in the 21stcentury?”
“When I came into the army in 1971 we were focused on the Soviet Union,” Boykin replied. “Even though we were fighting in Vietnam, our real threat was the Soviet Union. But I would say to you, Joel, that the threat that Radical Islam presents to not only America but to the world today is an even more serious threat than when we were in a nuclear standoff during the Cold War. And it’s more concerning to me because this is an enemy that is hard to understand, it is an enemy that is easy to ignore, and it is an enemy that is absolutely relentless.”
What’s the mindset of the Jihadist movement? What do they want? What’s driving them?
“Well, first of all I think that it is very clearly based on their own manifesto that they are adhering to a very radical, an extreme interpretation of the Qu’ran. They clearly believe that infidels – infidels defined as those that do not serve Allah – must either be converted or killed.”
What, then, is the worst case scenario?
“I think the worst case scenario is that they continue in their pursuit of weapons of mass destruction,” he said without hesitation. “Weapons of mass destruction are available to them now, particularly chemical and biological, [and] those are not hard to make. But the worst case scenario is, I think, that they have nuclear capabilities that within these terrorist organizations, within the Jihadist movement; that they intimidate Europe to the point that Europe is no longer capable of standing against them as they have done historically; and that they take their extremism to the entire world and people start to buckle under the intimidation and pressure of really what I would see as a huge Islamic movement.”
How close is Iran to having nuclear weapons?
Boykin told me that based on everything that he had seen and heard during in his tenure at the Pentagon, he believes that “within two years, maybe three” the Iranians will “develop a nuclear weapon, a deliverable nuclear weapon.” Translation: 2010 or 2011. “We know that he [Ahmadinejad] has centrifuges spinning. We know that he has the technology. He has the scientists, and he certainly has the determination…. Ahmadinejad is a very, very dangerous man, in my view. I believe that the world should pay close attention to what he has said. Some would say, ‘Well, that’s just rhetoric.’ But let’s go back and look at Hitler’s rhetoric in 1933 and what ultimately occurred.”
Given all that you know about the Ayatollah Khomeini and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, I asked, which one is more dangerous? For Boykin, it was not a close call. “I think Ahmadinejad is far more dangerous than the Ayatollah Khomeini because given that he now has more resources,” he told me. “Certainly has more money as a result of the oil in Iran. He has greater weapons capabilities. He has a more sophisticated army and military in general. And regardless of what the  National Intelligence Estimate says, he is developing nuclear capabilities.”
In your view, I asked, do you believe the West can successfully deter or negotiate with Ahmadinejad and his regime in a classic balance of power approach that worked with the Soviets?
“My view is that negotiating with Ahmadinejad is a waste of time,” Boykin replied. “I don’t think there’s anything that you can appeal to in Ahmadinejad’s [view of] geopolitics, of life in general, that would result in any kind of meaningful agreement with the West….I think Ahmadinejad sees himself as a man who is [supposed] to hasten the arrival of the Mahdi. He has even indicated that in his speeches….Ahmadinejad believes that the Madhi will come as a result of his efforts, part of which includes destroying or at least subjugating Israel. And so I think that the threat goes beyond just nuclear weapons. I think the threat really is a threat of growing Radicalism within Iran which is influencing much of the thinking in the rest of the Islamic world….And ultimately, when a man is that driven – when a man is that convinced that Allah is holding him accountable to do that [destroy Judeo-Christian civilization] – I think to believe that we could negotiate with him in any meaningful way is just inane.”