Storified by Brian Empric· Fri, Mar 22 2013 14:19:56
“In Gaza, many describe the tunnels as a vital lifeline. Thousands work in what has become a key trade route for the Hamas-controlled territory… In Israel, authorities have accused Hamas of using the tunnels to smuggle missiles and other weapons used in militant attacks… And in Egypt, authorities have blamed the tunnels for violence in the Sinai Peninsula.”
“After a surge of violent attacks in the Sinai Peninsula in August, Egypt's interior minister blamed the tunnels, citing them as smuggling routes for terrorists and weapons.”
“U.S. and Israeli officials say that Iran has used the tunnels to send arms and missile parts into Gaza.”
“On July 18, 1994, a van filled with explosives blew up outside the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, killing 85 people and injuring hundreds. It was the worst terrorist attack ever in Argentina, which has Latin America’s largest Jewish population, and one of the deadliest anti-Semitic attacks since the Holocaust.
“In 2007, after more than a decade of investigations, Argentine prosecutors obtained Interpol arrest warrants for six suspects and formally blamed Hezbollah for staging the attack and Iran for financing it.
“But bizarrely, Argentina’s president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, abruptly switched course last month and reached an agreement with the Iranian government that would set up a ‘truth commission’ of international legal experts to analyze evidence from the bombings…”
“Mrs. Kirchner’s decision to abandon Argentina’s longstanding grievances against Iran is particularly galling because it comes just weeks after Bulgaria, another country victimized by Iranian-sponsored terrorism, accused Hezbollah of staging a suicide attack on Israeli tourists in the Bulgarian town of Burgas last year. That attack, like the 1994 bombing in Buenos Aires, was part of a shadow war against Jewish civilians across the world. Bulgaria’s government, unlike Argentina’s current administration, decided to stand up to Hezbollah and forthrightly accuse it of the crime.”
“Mrs. Kirchner’s decision could open the gates to a major foreign policy realignment in the near future. Her populist government is moving toward the pro-Iranian positions of Venezuela’s (deceased) president, Hugo Chávez, and further away from those of Brazil, the United States and Europe. According to the Argentine newspaper La Nación, Argentina has started to collaborate on arms deals, including the development of missile technology, with Venezuela and indirectly with Iran.”
“Argentina has made grave foreign policy errors before. It is still coping with the fallout from its short 1982 war with Britain over the islands that Britain calls the Falklands and that Argentines call Las Malvinas. That conflict was an ill-advised move by a nationalist dictatorship. In contrast, the current treaty with Iran is being backed by a democratically elected president.”
“The announcement, which comes after talks between Iran and world powers in Kazakhstan about its nuclear work ended with an agreement to meet again, underlines Iran’s continued refusal to bow to Western pressure to curb its nuclear program.”
“The final production line of these centrifuges has reached an end and soon the early generations of these centrifuges with low efficiency will be set aside,” said Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, the chief of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, earlier this month, according to the Fars news agency.
“Chinese defense spending has grown substantially each year for more than two decades, and last year rose 11.2 percent to 670.2 billion yuan ($106.4 billion), an increase of about 67 billion yuan… Only the United States spends more on defense.”
“Beijing has been unnerved by the U.S. military's renewed focus on the Asia-Pacific, including plans to station marines in northern Australia on training missions.”
“It’s clear to me that the only way for America to get back into the game is simply to increase exports. The country has to export or we’re screwed. We also need to ramp up new business startups immediately. Right now, startups have fallen below 400,000 per year, in my estimate, and the country needs a bare minimum of 1 million new startups annually to keep the economy running.”
“America’s total exports to China right now are running at about $100 billion annually, while our annual exports to Latin American countries are a staggering $350 billion… America’s trade partnership with Latin America is significantly more valuable than our trade partnership with China. Specifically, the trade partnership with Latin American countries probably creates more than three times as many jobs…”
“Clearly, Latin America generally, and Mexico in particular, are very good friends of the United States. That friendship creates so many jobs and so much economic energy, and yet our leaders rarely seem to mention Latin America, let alone Mexico… through U.S. exports, there are more American jobs currently tied to Mexico, and Latin America more generally, than to China, Russia, and the Middle East combined. It seems that nobody knows this. Yet this information is vital, because America’s biggest problem right now is still job creation -- with unemployment stuck at around 8%, underemployment at 17% -- and no economic growth.”
“Dead at 58, Hugo Chávez leaves behind a country in far worse condition than it was when he became president, its future clouded by rivals for succession in a constitutional crisis of his Bolivarian party’s making and an economy in chaos.”
“His skillful rhetoric, which filled supporters with utopian dreams, was used to justify the methodical destruction of Venezuela’s democratic institutions and the free market.”
“His Bolivarian regime rewarded supporters and punished opponents, giving rise to enormous corruption and the creation of a new class of greedy oligarchs with political connections. Unfortunately for Venezuela and for all his political skills, the president was both an incompetent executive and a worse economist.”
“In recent weeks, while Mr. Chávez was hospitalized, Venezuela was once again forced to devalue its currency, this time by one-third. This was the inevitable outcome of a series of disastrous economic decisions that included nationalizing the telephone company and other utilities, which scared off foreign investors and spurred capital flight.”
“Venezuela has become one of the most violent countries in the world, with nearly 20,000 murders recorded in 2011 and a homicide rate that some experts say is four times greater than in the last year before Mr. Chávez took power.
“On the international front, Mr. Chávez eagerly accepted Fidel Castro as his mentor, providing Cuba with cut-rate oil and making common cause with Iran and other rogue regimes. His departure leaves the anti-American front leaderless on a hemispheric level and could eventually threaten the subsidy that Cuba relies on to keep its economy barely functioning.”
“[W]ithout discarding ‘Bolivarian’ principles and restoring the country’s democratic institutions, no one will be able to stop the downward spiral of Venezuela that began the day Hugo Chávez was elected president.”
“Anne Korin and Gal Luft, co-directors of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS), have long argued that liberals, conservatives, and libertarians have all misdiagnosed why the West has become dependent on oil; why the price of oil keeps rising no matter how much we drill, conserve, and boost miles per gallon; why dependence on increasingly expensive oil is a dire threat; and what we can do to restore the health of our national and economic security…”
“Oil is unlike other products: It is a strategic commodity — a shorthand way of saying that America and other industrialized nations would collapse without it. Our enemies know this as well as we do — better, actually.”
“The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), a cartel, controls 78 percent of the world’s conventional oil reserves, yet accounts for only about 33 percent of global oil production. The explanation: By conspiring to restrict production, OPEC members manipulate prices.”
“Yes, we can and should drill more in the U.S. because that produces wealth and jobs here at home. But we can’t drill enough to have an impact on prices — OPEC can simply drill less to offset our production and keep prices where it wants them. Similarly, we can build more fuel-efficient cars, drive them less, and raise taxes on gasoline, and it still won’t help because OPEC can adjust their faucets and the price to its liking and our detriment.
“What specific government policy can break the oil monopoly and encourage the emergence of a free market in transportation fuels? Korin and Luft are convinced that all we need to do is move from single-fuel automobiles to vehicles that are capable of running on a variety of liquid fuels. The technology already exists. The additional cost is about $100 a car — less than the cost of an airbag.”
“(Korin and Luft) are arguing for the opening of the market so that these and other fuels — both existing and not yet in production — can give oil a run for its money. More fuel, more diverse fuel sources, and more consumer choice, they believe, will both lower and stabilize prices while reducing the political power of foreign oil producers.
“No one should be surprised that the creation of a free market in fuels is opposed by OPEC and others who benefit from the status quo. They are spending lavishly to undermine potential competitors, not least through an elaborate disinformation campaign. To take but one example: The United Arab Emirates recently funded a feature film starring Matt Damon that raises alarms about the environmental risks of fracking.”