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September 2009

Sep 1  Conservative columnist George F. Will writes that it is "Time to get out of Afghanistan." The strategy of "clear, hold and build" is not working. Neither is nation-building. Recent elections have "altered no fundamentals." The US, he writes, "should do only what can be done from offshore, using intelligence, drones, cruise missiles, airstrikes and small, potent Special Forces units, concentrating on the porous 1,500-mile border with Pakistan, a nation that actually matters." George Will does not want to see more "American valor" squandered.

Sep 3  The civil war in Mexico rages on. President Calderon has sent his army to take control of local police stations and communities. He is fighting six major drug organizations: one in the Tijuana area; another in the Ciudad Juarez area; a third in control from Monterrey in the northeast and south along the gulf coast area, including Yucatan; a fourth between Culiacan and Morelia in the southwest; the fifth in Morelia, ruled by "La Familia"; and the sixth between Morelia and just short of the city of Oaxaca in the far south. The drug dealers are fighting back, killing people in restaurants, clubs, hospitals, hitting police stations and elsewhere.

Sep 5  National Geographic reports a study about a coming ice age produced by the earth's wobble as it rotates around the sun. Evidence indicates that human-induced global warming is delaying what would be normal cooling. From 2,000 years ago, temperatures in the Arctic have been tending downward, until 100 years ago, when they began a dramatic spike upward. (A graph was provided on their website.) The Arctic is now much warmer than it was 2,000 years ago, and it may be thousands of years before the coming of another ice age.

Sep 6  George Will has stirred up debate on Afghanistan. Secretary of Defense Gates says that more ground troops may be needed in Afghanistan. He adds that when they see us as occupiers "we will have lost." The conservative writer Robert Kagan describes George Will's position on Afghanistan (see September 1) as "double surrender" and against US interests.

Sep 9  An Israeli rights group, B'Tselem, claims that careful cross-checking indicates that during the Gaza War 1,387 Palestinians died, over half of them civilians and 252 of them children. An Israeli army report states that fewer than 300 civilians died during the fighting in December and January. A group of Israeli veterans of the war have said that widespread abuses had been committed against Gaza civilians under "permissive" Israeli army rules of engagement. Some Israelis are disturbed too by reports of rabbis assigned to the troops having evoked a "We are God's army" element during the fighting.

Sep 10  People are complaining about insensitive fellow Muslims using their mobile phones around the Kaaba, in Mecca, disrupting the sanctity of the holy place while most others are praying.

Sep 11  It is the 8th anniversary of what is known as 9/11. "None of al Qaeda’s top leadership is in our custody," writes Ali Soufan, an F.B.I. special agent from 1997 to 2005. In a long and detailed article published in the New York Times on September 5, Soufan writes that so-called enhanced interrogation techniques failedo gain intelligence that "stopped even a single imminent threat of terrorism." He concludes that, "the professionals in the field are relieved that an ineffective, unreliable, unnecessary and destructive program – one that may have given al Qaeda a second wind and damaged our country’s reputation – is finished." Meanwhile, after more than eight years of warring, al Qaeda has failed to make any gains in its agenda.

Sep 13  On ABC's Roundtable, the columnist George Will makes a point held by some of his fellow conservatives that economic depressions or recessions could heal themselves without government intervention. He suggests this is the best course. The idea of no government reforms in response to the Great Depression boggles the mind of some students of history, and not all conservatives adhere to applying that idea to this past year. A fellow conservative at the table, David Brooks, credits Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner, on behalf of the federal government, with having stabilized the economic system. This point of view is rejected by millions in the United States, some of whom joined the march on Washington this weekend.

Sep 14  Alice Rivlin, Senior Fellow at Brookings, weighs in on the side of government action and reform. Making her a liberal, or a socialist, in the eyes of those in the streets protesting President Obama's policies. She speaks of the benefits of Social Security, unemployment insurance and deposit insurance, created in the 1930s, as dampening the economic crisis of 2008-09.

Sep 15  An eleven-minute tape by Osama bin-Laden has been released. In it he celebrates his September 11 attack, and he speaks of his war of attrition. Whether it will take another eight years before we see him as a victor celebrated by throngs of millions he did not say.

Sep 16  Saudi Arabia's Second Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior, Prince Naif, announces a plan for a special department "to combat extremism and terrorism." He says that the Saudi kingdom will continue its efforts to convince al-Qaeda militants to return to the right path.

Sep 17  The New York Times reports that a member of Pakistan's Christian minority has died in jail. Robert Fanish, 20, was interested in a young woman whose family, it appears, retaliated by accusing him of having desecrated the Koran. Fanish was jailed on the 12th. After two days of police questioning he was found dead in his cell. Local police claim that he had committed suicide.

Sep 17  As September approached, some market analysts spoke of September and October as bad months for stocks. But historical abstractions don't move events nor the Dow. On the first day of September the Dow fell 189 points to 930, the biggest one-day drop so far this month. Today, the Dow moved to a new high for the year, a little over 980.

Sep 20  Relations between the US and Russia improved this week. Fox News commentator Monica Crowley described it as Obama adding Poland and the Czech Republic to "the long list of close, loyal American allies he has thrown to the wolves." Just watch, warns Crowley. Obama's show of weakness will encourage hostile moves against the United States. Fareed Zakaria of CNN and Newsweek sees it differently. He writes that "By canceling plans to station antiballistic-missile systems in Poland and the Czech Republic, President Obama has traded fantasy for reality."

Sep 21  The head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) favors rules to prevent those with big money from advantage in use of the internet. "All web traffic," he says, "should be treated equaly." President Obama has backed the concept of network neutrality. It also has the support of Google, eBay and Amazon. Some Republicans complain that it is more unnecessary or harmful regulation. Telecommunications executives, according to the New York Times, complain that it is a solution looking for a problem.

Sep 23  A judge in Poland says that Catholics have the right to express their disapproval of abortion and to call it murder, but they don't have the right to vilify an individual. On a doctor's advice, Alicja Tysiac wanted an abortion. The Catholic magazine, Gosc Niedzielny, compared her abortion to the actions of Nazi war criminals. In Poland, abortions are allowed when the health of the mother is threatened.

Sep 23  A multi-billion dollar science and technology university opens in Saudi Arabia. It has one of the world's fastest super-computers. The university will take advantage of brain power that exists among Saudi Women. On campus women will work on a basis of equality with men. Scientists and students will attend from more than sixty countries.

Sep 27  Spain's government reveals its plan to liberalize abortion beyond a response to rape, a fetus showing genetic defect or when the health of the pregnant woman is at risk. The new law will allow an abortion for girls as young 16 without parental consent.

Sep 27  Hugh Sykes writes of British failures regarding hearts and minds in the Basra area of Iraq. He quotes a US battalion commander, Colonel Brian Doser, as saying "You can't wait for the security problem to be solved before you work on reconstruction," and "If you wait to solve the security problem before you improve the infrastructure, you may never solve the security problem."

Sep 27  General McChrystal, commander of US Forces in Afghanistan, tells 60 Minutes that in Afghanistan mistakes have been made and that Taliban insurgests will no longer be targeted with air strikes. Civilian casualities, he says, are more import than was realized. "If the people view us as occupiers," he adds, "we can't be successful."

Sep 29  In Guinea, Captain Moussa Camara's soldiers rampage in a stadium of people protesting rumors of Camara's plan to run in January’s presidential election, after promising he would not. Around 157 people are reported dead. In an interview with Radio France Internationale, Camara denies responsibility, saying, "I wasn't myself in the stadium."

Sep 30 The Dow ends the month at 9,712, up 2.2 percent, contrary to the down month spoken of by overly-pessimistic anti-Obama prognosticators, those who have missed the rally since March, and those confused by historical abstractions.

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