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The Mighty Combustion of Small Events, and Other Lessons From the First World War: Rex Murphy, National Post, July 26, 2014— History, said T.S. Eliot, has many “cunning passages, contrived corridors and issues.”
How to Kneecap the Thug in the Kremlin: Michael Weiss, Foreign Policy, July 24, 2014 — Since the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 by Russian-backed and Russian intelligence-led separatists in Ukraine, Westerners have learned a great deal about Vladimir Putin and the regime he has built and overseen, uninterrupted, for 15 years.
President Obama Abandons Israel: Isi Leibler, Candidly Speaking, July 27, 2014 — In the midst of a bitter war – one that Israel sought to avoid – the statements and initiatives from U.S. President Barack Obama and his inept secretary of state, John Kerry, have convinced Hamas that if they maintain their campaign of terror against Israel and the civilians of Gaza, the international community will intervene on their behalf.
How the UN Was Perverted into a Weapon Against Israel: Joshua Muravchik, New York Post, July 26, 2013— The United Nations Human Rights Council has voted to create an “independent international commission of inquiry to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human-rights law” in the current war in Gaza.
The War That Broke a Century: Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal, July 25, 2014
Israel and Ukraine, Each Fighting Against the Forces of Terror and Chaos: Mark Steyn, National Post, July 23, 2014
Stop the Jew-Hatred and Build Palestine: Tarek Fatah, Toronto Sun, July 22, 2013
Obama to World: Drop Dead: Daniel Henninger, Wall Street Journal, July 23, 2014
National Post, July 26, 2014
History, said T.S. Eliot, has many “cunning passages, contrived corridors and issues.” He continues rather bleakly that what history might or could teach us emerges with “subtle confusions” offered only when our “attention is distracted.” Eliot’s is a necessary caution against seeking specific lessons from history; despite the maxim, it never “repeats itself.” Rather it is like the ancient oracles, speaking always in riddles, hiding its truths in ambiguities and perplexity. The only lessons we may draw are general ones. It will never speak to a single or particular event, but it has its maxims and morals which we cannot safely ignore. From the First World War, most have taken the theme that (relatively) small events can spiral into a mighty combustion. Europe was a cat’s cradle of connections and alliances, its rulers abominably short-sighted and absurdly confident, no controlling mind overseeing or attempting to oversee what a single push on the chessboard might eventually precipitate. That war resulted from a cascade of misjudgements and misperceptions set in motion by the singular deed of a Serbian terrorist.
People looking at the world today are, I think rightfully, seeing something of a parallel with confusions of a century ago. In the last weeks and months, what a crowding and a tangling of events we have seen. And we have seen, too, how, just like a hundred years ago, an event in one place has its connection and impact in others. A jet shot down over Ukraine has a consequence for Israel a week later. We draw too from the reckless drift into the First World War how small and underscale the actors of that day were, how little the rulers, whether czars, monarchs, presidents or revolutionaries, truly understood of the events they thought they were managing. The leaders then were tragically unequal to the times, but of course, as leaders unfailingly do, thought otherwise.
The few who did see — like Lord Grey, who looked out on the world at the eve of war and uttered the memorable prophecy “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime” — were destined as Cassandras have always been to see their judgements ignored and their laments unheeded. “Put not your trust in princes” is not Eliot, but the Psalms. The “princes” of 1914 we now see for what they were — befuddled, arrogant and above all careless of consequences. Who has optimism that today’s leaders are any more wise or ready? Looking at events since the destruction of the twin towers in September, 2001, the inaugural deed of the current crises, who can draw coherence or logic from them. It has been a scramble and a tumbling from one event to the next since that awful day. And by one of history’s “subtle confusions,” as Eliot had it, Afghanistan and Iraq are tending now (and in Iraq’s case, is already there) to a condition more threatening than when the vast effort here in the West to confront terrorism began.
And in all of this, there is no voice that articulates the dangers potentially present, no leadership that has the reach of the globe that inspires. That Mr. Putin should be, even in a negative sense, the “strongest” leader on the scene, the one with a thought-out, calculated agenda, is a deep sadness. The West has had some peace since the last great war, almost 70 years of it now. And we have had with that peace an astounding march of technological and material progress. Both tend to make people forgetful of worse times. It renders them careless of the foundations upon which peace is first secured and then maintained, and nourishes the delusion they are exempt from the horrors and perils that have been a constant in human affairs.
So it seems now to some, as it seemed to some a century ago, that there is a menacing scattering of events and conflicts, where a disturbance, an accident or misadventure (such as the shooting down of the passenger jet) in one arena could unwind into a chain of unforeseen events, a haphazard flow of unpredictable cause and effect. And here, despite Eliot’s cautions, we can draw another clear and unconfused message from history: Whenever full-scale war comes. it is always worse than the previous one. Not even the trenches of the First World War, or the terrible technologies of the Second, will carry the freight of conflict in our time. We, after all, as we like to say, have “mastered” the atom.
Eliot was right in his main assertion. Every period has to learn its own history, but we can so frame our minds and school our judgments on the permanent elements of human conduct as to be duly wary of the play of forces beyond our ability to grasp. We may start with the axioms that human affairs are always riddled with error, confusion, misjudgement and carelessness, and that all of those fallibilities and failings have had, and will have again, massively turbulent consequences. The example of a century ago is ominous and necessary. History “deceives with whispering ambitions, guides us by vanities.” Eliot again.
Foreign Policy, July 24, 2014
Since the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 by Russian-backed and Russian intelligence-led separatists in Ukraine, Westerners have learned a great deal about Vladimir Putin and the regime he has built and overseen, uninterrupted, for 15 years. They've learned that an international tragedy involving the murder of hundreds of innocents weighs not at all upon the mind of the KGB czar. Russians had long grown accustomed to this fact, thanks to Putin's handling of the Kursk submarine disaster and the Beslan and Nord-Ost (aka Moscow theater) hostage crises, all episodes in which the president's mendacity, incompetence, and cold indifference to human life necessarily meant that more of it had to be squandered. But now Americans and Europeans have definitive proof of what motivates a Soviet-style post-Soviet dictator when it comes to the well-being of their citizens, too. An important lesson should be learned from this affair.
Last week, Putin's wholly owned guerrilla subsidiary in Ukraine blew 298 civilians out of the sky, looted the belongings of the victims, let their cadavers rot for days in the hot summer sun, then violently obstructed OSCE monitors from inspecting the carnage. Talk of a forensic "investigation" at this point is just that — talk. Furthermore, according to U.S. intelligence, the Kremlin was evidently so pleased with this performance that it has dispatched more materiel to the culprits in eastern Ukraine. This new hardware includes rocket launchers, light arms, and tanks — only adding to the sophisticated weapons already sent in to aid the rebel cause. There are "indications," U.S. officials say, that advanced Russian anti-aircraft systems — such as vehicle-mounted Buk (or SA-11) missile launchers, which defense and aviation analysts agree were responsible for downing MH17 — had been moved into eastern Ukraine from Russia and then back to the Motherland following the immolation of the airliner. The West has lately discovered something about Putin that Marina Litvinenko did eight years ago: his penchant for covering up his worst crimes.
"Without a doubt, the state over whose territory this happened bears the responsibility for this frightful tragedy," Putin said, neglecting to mention that he considers the relevant territory part of Novorossiya, his revanchist concept of Russia's "near abroad" brought even nearer. At a meeting of Russia's Security Council on July 22, the first words out of Putin's mouth after "Good morning, colleagues" were: "Today we will consider the fundamental issues of maintaining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of this country" — the same two fundamental issues he has so thoroughly trampled in his next-door neighbor by annexing Crimea and invading Luhansk and Donetsk. He also laughably denies that he is master and patron of the anti-Kiev insurgency, even when faced with overwhelming evidence. It was further disclosed by U.S. intelligence that Russian, not Ukrainian, territory is being used to host the separatists' very own Fort Bragg. Satellite imagery released by the United States has located what the Washington Post has termed a "sprawling Russian military installation near the city of Rostov," which acts as both the training ground and munitions clearinghouse for the irredentists. If Russia had satellite footage showing the Pentagon instructing Quebecois on how to steer an Abrams tank at a U.S. military installation in northern Maine, I am sure Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russia Today would be the first to let us know about it.
The Kremlin has spent years accusing the United States and its European allies of arming and facilitating "terrorists" in Syria. So let's look at whom it has been arming and facilitating in Ukraine. Col. Igor Strelkov, the self-styled "commander-in-chief" of the self-styled "Donetsk People's Republic" (DPR), first claimed credit for shooting down what he believed to be a Ukrainian cargo plane on July 17. He had good cause to believe as much, given that his forces had downed one before, killing more than 30 Ukrainian servicemen on board. "We warned them — don't fly in 'our sky,'" Strelkov said, before realizing that "they" were AIDS scientists and Dutch babies. On the Russian social media platform VKontakte, in a forum he has used for months to disseminate his communiques, Strelkov even identified the rough location from which the missile or missiles are now thought to have been fired: the city of Torez, in the Donetsk region. This happens to be one of two locations (the other is Snezhnoye) where a Buk missile system has since been video-recorded and geolocated being driven around, well after MH17 crashed into a field…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Candidly Speaking, July 27, 2014
In the midst of a bitter war – one that Israel sought to avoid – the statements and initiatives from U.S. President Barack Obama and his inept secretary of state, John Kerry, have convinced Hamas that if they maintain their campaign of terror against Israel and the civilians of Gaza, the international community will intervene on their behalf. From Israel’s vantage, despite the continuing tragic losses, there can be no turning back until the weapons of destruction and the tunnels are neutralized. Failure to achieve this will doom us to a future and possibly even more dangerous confrontation with these genocidal barbarians.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership has been exemplary. Despite extraordinary pressure from all sides of the political spectrum, he succeeded in charting a responsible policy. The initial restraint, his acceptance of the Egyptian terms of cease-fire and his avoidance of demagoguery, united the nation and even scored points among open-minded circles in the international community. The most incredible aspect to this conflict was the almost total effectiveness of the Iron Dome, which neutralized missiles directed to our heavily populated cities, and thus precluded an otherwise much more extensive and costly ground operation.
Yet we suffered a profound shock at the discovery of the extent and sophistication of the underground city Hamas had constructed with prolific tunnels entering into Israel – even into public dining rooms of kibbutzim – creating a scenario for horrifying mass terrorist abductions and massacres of 9/11 proportions.
The Western media’s sympathy for Hamas, inciting hatred against Israel by their excessive display of gruesome images of children killed, was completely out of context. That Israel possesses the fire power to level Gaza to the ground, if it intended doing so, was ignored. Rarely did it acknowledge that Israel had accepted cease-fires which Hamas had rejected. Nor that Israel maintained a flow of humanitarian aid, electricity and water to Gaza and that terrorist casualties were treated in Israeli hospitals. In fact, Israel even established a field hospital for the sole purpose of treating Gazan civilians.
The media behaved unconscionably in failing to highlight the fact that most of the civilian casualties in Gaza were incurred because Hamas had ordered women and children to ignore Israeli early warnings to evacuate, obliging them to act as human shields at rocket launching sites and command posts. Schools, hospitals, mosques, and U.N. R.A. headquarters were used to stockpile armaments and launch missiles. By this behavior, Hamas is responsible for every civilian casualty, which is unquestionably defined as war crimes. As Netanyahu stated, “Israel employs missile defense to protect its citizens; Hamas uses its civilians to protect missiles.” Whereas no army in history has ever gone to the extremes of the IDF to minimize civilian casualties, the obscene U.N. Human Rights Council dominated by dictatorships and rogue states, has launched an investigation of what it has already defined as “Israeli war crimes.” In what is clearly intended to be a repeat of the notorious Goldstone Commission, there is not even the pretense of objectivity and no call to investigate Hamas. The U.S. voted against this travesty but the Europeans, to their discredit, abstained. Predictably, this led to a global eruption of massive anti-Semitic demonstrations and violence, condemning Israel for allegedly targeting or being indifferent to the fate of Gazan civilians.
In this context, we appreciate that the American people and Congress have displayed overwhelming support for Israel and remain grateful for the financial support sponsored by Congress that enabled us to create and produce the Iron Dome. Yet the diplomatic posturing of the Obama administration has been utterly deplorable at a time when we are entitled to rely on the U.S. to fully support its only genuine democratic ally in the region. Israel is confronting genocidal Hamas, the equivalent of al-Qaida, whose charter explicitly calls for the destruction of the Jewish state, and enjoins its supporters to murder Jews whenever the opportunity arises. This same terrorist organization condemned the United States for the murder of bin Laden. Our current conflict is not between two states but against a barbaric genocidal terrorist organization which the U.S. itself regards as illegal. This is a clear case of good versus evil – surely something Americans unlike postmodernist Europeans, do instinctively appreciate.
Aside from incanting mantras of Israel’s right to defend itself, Obama has yet to condemn Hamas for exploiting its civilians as human sacrifices. Instead, from the outset he has sought to restrict Israel’s military response, repeatedly urging restraint and “proportional response”. Obama set the pattern which the rest of the world followed, providing Hamas with expectations that with growing civilian casualties, Israel would be pressured to step down. The hypocrisy of Obama and others in their condemnation of Israel is mind-boggling when reviewing the various military initiatives and drone attacks undertaken by the U.S., NATO, France, et al. The odious moral equivalence must also be viewed in the context of 180,000 innocent civilians literally butchered in Syria, and with the massacres of the ISIS in Iraq and the rest of the region.
As the Israel Defense Forces continue to eliminate the myriad of terrorist tunnels, Obama stepped up his calls on Israel to act more “proportionately,” expressing horror at the casualties and indicating that we are not doing enough to protect civilians. He even stated that once 1,000 Palestinian casualties have been reached, he would force an end to the conflict. It is also widely believed that the Federal Aviation Administration decision to temporarily halt flights to Israel was a calculated political ploy by the Obama administration to further exert pressure. Precisely what further steps does Obama suggest Israel should take to minimize civilian casualties without endangering its own citizens? Would the United States or any responsible government enable terrorists to maintain their operations from mosques, hospitals, schools and homes and continue indiscriminately raining thousands of missiles on its citizens?
It is ironic that in the present context, the Europeans, traditionally disposed to be hostile to Israel, passed a resolution not merely condemning Hamas attacks, but also demanding the demilitarization of Gaza — something that Obama, who merely calls for a return to the conditions governing the former “truce,” has yet to demand. The uninvited presence of Kerry — who many Israelis now regard as an unguided missile — and who has been making off-the-cuff sarcastic remarks about Israeli failure to avoid Palestinian casualties, will only encourage Hamas to maintain the missile attacks. Kerry undermined the Egyptian cease-fire initiative by inexplicably turning to Qatar and Turkey to act as mediators. Qatar, regarded by the U.S. as an important “ally,” with whom it recently signed an $11 billion arms deal, is a Muslim Brotherhood-dominated entity and the principal funder of Hamas and ISIS. Turkey’s demagogue Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is an outspoken hysterical anti-Semite who accused Israel of engaging in “barbarism worse than Hitler.” Needless to say, Israel cannot be expected to engage with those who openly promote the Hamas agenda. His final act of betrayal of Israel was his repudiation of the Egyptian cease-fire which Israel had accepted. Instead Kerry conspired with Qatar and Turkey…to seek to impose new cease-fire terms which would prevent Israel from destroying the tunnels it had discovered and he provided undertakings that the “blockade” of Gaza and release of Hamas prisoners and other concerns would be reviewed, with no reference to the demilitarization of Hamas. The Israeli Diplomatic-Security Cabinet unanimously rejected this offer placing Israel in direct conflict with the U.S.
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
New York Post, July 26, 2014
The United Nations Human Rights Council has voted to create an “independent international commission of inquiry to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human-rights law” in the current war in Gaza. Well, actually, not all violations. Only those attributable to Israel — as the resolution makes quite explicit. And what might those violations be? The very same resolution spells them out, not as allegations but as established findings. “The Council,” it reads, “condemns in the strongest terms the widespread, systematic and gross violations of international human rights and fundamental freedoms arising from the Israeli military operations…since 13 June 2014.” In other words, Israel’s guilt is already established, and the mandated “investigation” is but a method of punishing Israel by subjecting it to months of verbal laceration and then perhaps sanctions. As the Queen of Hearts said in Wonderland: “Sentence first! Verdict afterwards.” Hamas is not subject to “investigation.” Its role is to be the star witness for the prosecution. This is not spelled out, but we know the script. Four years ago, when Israeli forces last entered Gaza, this same council passed a similar resolution, condemning Israel and mandating an “investigation.” This was the Goldstone Commission, and its principal source of information was testimony at hearings in Gaza arranged by Hamas where witnesses detailed the toll of Israeli strikes while denying the presence of military targets.
Even if not all of them were Hamas members, all knew what Hamas expected them to say — and none would dare defy it. Richard Goldstone’s report accused Israel of “crimes against humanity,” a special category of crime invented for Nazi war criminals. Two years later, Goldstone renounced his report, saying: “If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.” More likely, what changed was not Goldstone’s knowledge but his inability to defend his work to the outside world once he was no longer ensconced in the anti-Israel hothouse that is the United Nations. This, after all, is the same organization whose General Assembly chastises Israel three times as often as all other countries combined; that has declared Palestinian terrorism to be a “legitimate” means of “fulfilling…one of the goals and purposes of the United Nations”; that once classified Zionism as a form of racism; and that has three special bodies devoted exclusively to agitating against Israel although no other such body exists for any other country. This astounding bias was not always present. In 1947, the UN voted to partition Palestine, thus legitimating Israel’s birth, and Israel was soon granted admission as a member. In 1967 and 1973, UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 called for “secure and recognized boundaries,” thus implicitly acknowledging that Israel need not relinquish all of the territory captured in the Six Day War.
How did it all turn around so dramatically? During its early decades, in the aftermath of World War II, when American power and prestige was high, the US largely dominated the UN. Washington pressured its European allies to relinquish their empires, and the UN pushed decolonization. Thus were scores of new nations born in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. The UN grew from 51 to 193 members. Many formed the Non-Aligned Movement. Originally this meant non-aligned in the Cold War, but NAM did not disappear with that conflict. Today it has 120 members, thus controlling every UN body except the Security Council where the “Permanent Five” hold vetoes. Fifty-seven of the NAM’s 120 members are members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, meaning that the OIC dominates the NAM. And the core of the OIC is the 22-strong Arab League. Thus, through telescoping leverage have the Arab states turned the UN into a kind of crusade organization against Israel. The complement to the NAM/OIC/Arab dynamic was also on display in the Human Rights Council’s recent action. Twenty-nine states voted for this blatantly prejudiced resolution, of which 21 are not free, according to Freedom House, making their presence on the council absurd. The United States alone voted “no.” England, France, Germany, Italy and other free countries abstained. Beset by guilt over their colonial pasts, Europeans rarely buck the NAM. This mindset works against Israel in the UN and beyond. In an era of “the rest against the West,” when global cultural elites find virtue only with the “rest,” Israel remains largely “Western.” For this, it has been sentenced. The predetermined verdict will follow.
The War That Broke a Century: Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal, July 25, 2014 —Next week marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I.
Israel and Ukraine, Each Fighting Against the Forces of Terror and Chaos: Mark Steyn, National Post, July 23, 2014 —The two big international headlines of the moment are the downing of the Malaysian jet over Ukraine and Israel’s incursion into Gaza.
Stop the Jew-Hatred and Build Palestine: Tarek Fatah, Toronto Sun, July 22, 2013—Whichever side of the Arab-Israeli conflict one stands on, you cannot deny the courage and perseverance of the Palestinian people.
Obama to World: Drop Dead: Daniel Henninger, Wall Street Journal, July 23, 2014 —Asked on "Meet the Press" Sunday whether this was the lowest moment in U.S.-Russia relations since the Cold War, America's robo-Secretary of State John Kerry replied: "We live in an extremely complicated world right now, where everybody is working on 10 different things simultaneously." Well, not everyone.
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