Showdown at the OK Corral: Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 2, 2015 — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with US President Barack Obama next week is likely to look less like a rapprochement than a showdown at the OK Corral.
A Path Out of the Middle East Collapse: Henry A. Kissinger, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 16, 2015— The debate about whether the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran regarding its nuclear program stabilized the Middle East’s strategic framework had barely begun when the region’s geopolitical framework collapsed.
‘We Are All On the Front Lines’: Canadian Reportedly Killed Fighting ISIL Wrote Essay About Why He Went To War: National Post, Nov. 5, 2015 — John Robert Gallagher was a Canadian who volunteered with the Kurdish forces in northern Syria to fight ISIL.
What the Horrors of Kristallnacht Should Teach Us Today: Larry Domnitch, Algemeiner Nov. 6, 2015— During the summer of 1938, with an urgent situation facing Jews in Nazi-occupied lands, 32 nations gathered in Evian, France, to find a solution to the Jewish refugee crisis.
A Critique of Obama's Understanding of Israel: Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic, June 1, 2015
Boots on Syrian Soil: National Post, Nov. 3, 2015
Ted Cruz: A Fresh Approach to American Foreign Policy – and US-Israel Relations: Caroline Glick, Breaking Israel News, Oct. 27, 2015
The World is a Scary Place. Let’s Hope Justin Trudeau is Up For the Task: Terry Glavin, National Post, Nov. 3, 2015
Jerusalem Post, Nov. 2, 2015
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with US President Barack Obama next week is likely to look less like a rapprochement than a showdown at the OK Corral. The flurry of spy stories spinning around in recent weeks makes clear that US-Israel relations remain in crisis.
Two weeks ago, The Wall Street Journal published a fairly detailed account of the US’s massive spying operations against Israel between 2010 and 2012. Their purpose was to prevent Israel from attacking Iran’s nuclear installations. The Journal report, which was based on US sources, also detailed the evasion tactics the Obama administration employed to try to hide its covert nuclear talks with Iran from Israel. According to the report, the administration was infuriated that through its spy operations against Iran, Israel discovered the talks and the government asked the White House to tell it what was going on.
Over the past several days, the Israeli media have reported the Israeli side of the US spying story. Friday Makor Rishon’s military commentator Amir Rapaport detailed how the US assiduously wooed IDF senior brass on the one hand and harassed more junior Israeli security officials on the other hand. Former IDF chiefs of General Staff Lt.-Gens. Gabi Ashkenazi and Benny Gantz were given the red carpet treatment in a bid to convince them to oppose Israeli strikes on Iran’s nuclear installations. More junior officials, including officers posted officially to the US were denied visas and subjected to lengthy interrogations at US embassies and airports in a bid to convince them to divulge information about potential Israeli strikes against Iran. Sunday, Channel 2 reported that the IDF’s Intelligence Directorate’s information security department just issued guidance to all IDF soldiers and officers warning them about efforts by the CIA to recruit them as US agents.
These stories have been interpreted in various ways. Regardless of how they are interpreted, what they show is that on the one hand, the Obama administration has used US intelligence agencies to weaken Israel’s capacity to harm Iran and to actively protect Iran from Israel. And on the other hand, Israel is wary of the administration’s efforts to weaken it while strengthening its greatest foe.
These stories form the backdrop of next week’s meeting between Netanyahu and Obama – the first they will have held in more than a year. They indicate that Obama remains committed to his policy of weakening Israel and downgrading America’s alliance with the Jewish state while advancing US ties with Iran. Israel, for its part, remains deeply distrustful of the American leader.
This Israeli distrust of Obama’s intentions extends far past Iran. Recent statements by Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have convinced Israel that during his last 15 months in office, Obama intends to abandon US support for Israel at the UN Security Council, and to ratchet up pressure and coercive measures to force Israel to make irreversible concessions to the Palestinians. From Netanyahu’s perspective, then, the main strategic question is how to prevent Obama from succeeding in his goal of weakening the country. The implementation of Obama’s deal with Iran deal will form a central plank of whatever strategy the government adopts.
As far as Obama and his allies see things, the nuclear accord with Iran is a done deal. On October 21, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi hosted a reception for Democratic congressmen attended by White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough to celebrate its official adoption. Unfortunately for Pelosi and her colleagues, Iran is a far more formidable obstacle to implementing the deal than congressional Republicans. As Yigal Carmon, president of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), explained in a report published on his organization’s website last week, at no point has any Iranian governing body approved the nuclear deal. Iran’s parliament, the Majlis, and its Guardians’ Council have used their discussions of the agreement to highlight their refusal to implement it. More importantly, as Carmon explains, contrary to US media reports, in his October 21 letter to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei did not give his conditional approval to the deal. He rejected it.
Carmon explained that the nine conditions Khamenei placed on his acceptance of the nuclear deal render it null and void. Among other things, Khamenei insisted that all sanctions against Iran must be permanently canceled. Obama couldn’t abide by this condition even if he wanted to because he cannot cancel sanctions laws passed by Congress. He can only suspend them. Khamenei also placed new conditions on Iran’s agreement to disable its centrifuges and remove large quantities of enriched uranium from its stockpiles. He rejected inspections of Iran’s military nuclear installations. He insisted that Iran’s Arak heavy water reactor must remain capable of producing heavy water in contravention of the deal. And he insisted that at the end of the 15-year lifetime of the deal Iran must have sufficient uranium enrichment capability to enable it to develop bombs at will.
As Carmon noted, the US and EU have announced that they will suspend their nuclear sanctions against Iran on December 15 provided that by that date, the UN’s International Atomic Energy Commission certifies that Iran has upheld its part of the bargain. By that date, in conformance with their interpretation of the nuclear deal, the US and the EU expect for Iran to have reduced the number of centrifuges operating at the Natanz facility from 16,000 to 5,060 and lower enrichment levels to 3.67%; reduce the number of centrifuges at Fordow to a thousand; remove nearly all its advanced centrifuges from use; permit the IAEA to store and seal its dismantled centrifuges; reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium to 300kg.; remove the core from the Arak reactor and disable it; and submit to agreed monitoring mechanisms of its nuclear sites. Carmon noted that Iran has taken no steps to fulfill any of these conditions…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Henry A. Kissinger
Wall Street Journal, Oct. 16, 2015
The debate about whether the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran regarding its nuclear program stabilized the Middle East’s strategic framework had barely begun when the region’s geopolitical framework collapsed. Russia’s unilateral military action in Syria is the latest symptom of the disintegration of the American role in stabilizing the Middle East order that emerged from the Arab-Israeli war of 1973.
In the aftermath of that conflict, Egypt abandoned its military ties with the Soviet Union and joined an American-backed negotiating process that produced peace treaties between Israel and Egypt, and Israel and Jordan, a United Nations-supervised disengagement agreement between Israel and Syria, which has been observed for over four decades (even by the parties of the Syrian civil war), and international support of Lebanon’s sovereign territorial integrity. Later, Saddam Hussein’s war to incorporate Kuwait into Iraq was defeated by an international coalition under U.S. leadership. American forces led the war against terror in Iraq and Afghanistan. Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States were our allies in all these efforts. The Russian military presence disappeared from the region.
That geopolitical pattern is now in shambles. Four states in the region have ceased to function as sovereign. Libya, Yemen, Syria and Iraq have become targets for nonstate movements seeking to impose their rule. Over large swaths in Iraq and Syria, an ideologically radical religious army has declared itself the Islamic State (also called ISIS or ISIL) as an unrelenting foe of established world order. It seeks to replace the international system’s multiplicity of states with a caliphate, a single Islamic empire governed by Shariah law.
ISIS’ claim has given the millennium-old split between the Shiite and Sunni sects of Islam an apocalyptic dimension. The remaining Sunni states feel threatened by both the religious fervor of ISIS as well as by Shiite Iran, potentially the most powerful state in the region. Iran compounds its menace by presenting itself in a dual capacity. On one level, Iran acts as a legitimate Westphalian state conducting traditional diplomacy, even invoking the safeguards of the international system. At the same time, it organizes and guides nonstate actors seeking regional hegemony based on jihadist principles: Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria; Hamas in Gaza; the Houthis in Yemen.
Thus the Sunni Middle East risks engulfment by four concurrent sources: Shiite-governed Iran and its legacy of Persian imperialism; ideologically and religiously radical movements striving to overthrow prevalent political structures; conflicts within each state between ethnic and religious groups arbitrarily assembled after World War I into (now collapsing) states; and domestic pressures stemming from detrimental political, social and economic domestic policies.
The fate of Syria provides a vivid illustration: What started as a Sunni revolt against the Alawite (a Shiite offshoot) autocrat Bashar Assad fractured the state into its component religious and ethnic groups, with nonstate militias supporting each warring party, and outside powers pursuing their own strategic interests. Iran supports the Assad regime as the linchpin of an Iranian historic dominance stretching from Tehran to the Mediterranean. The Gulf States insist on the overthrow of Mr. Assad to thwart Shiite Iranian designs, which they fear more than Islamic State. They seek the defeat of ISIS while avoiding an Iranian victory. This ambivalence has been deepened by the nuclear deal, which in the Sunni Middle East is widely interpreted as tacit American acquiescence in Iranian hegemony.
These conflicting trends, compounded by America’s retreat from the region, have enabled Russia to engage in military operations deep in the Middle East, a deployment unprecedented in Russian history. Russia’s principal concern is that the Assad regime’s collapse could reproduce the chaos of Libya, bring ISIS into power in Damascus, and turn all of Syria into a haven for terrorist operations, reaching into Muslim regions inside Russia’s southern border in the Caucasus and elsewhere.
On the surface, Russia’s intervention serves Iran’s policy of sustaining the Shiite element in Syria. In a deeper sense, Russia’s purposes do not require the indefinite continuation of Mr. Assad’s rule. It is a classic balance-of-power maneuver to divert the Sunni Muslim terrorist threat from Russia’s southern border region. It is a geopolitical, not an ideological, challenge and should be dealt with on that level. Whatever the motivation, Russian forces in the region—and their participation in combat operations—produce a challenge that American Middle East policy has not encountered in at least four decades.
American policy has sought to straddle the motivations of all parties and is therefore on the verge of losing the ability to shape events. The U.S. is now opposed to, or at odds in some way or another with, all parties in the region: with Egypt on human rights; with Saudi Arabia over Yemen; with each of the Syrian parties over different objectives. The U.S. proclaims the determination to remove Mr. Assad but has been unwilling to generate effective leverage—political or military—to achieve that aim. Nor has the U.S. put forward an alternative political structure to replace Mr. Assad should his departure somehow be realized.
Russia, Iran, ISIS and various terrorist organizations have moved into this vacuum: Russia and Iran to sustain Mr. Assad; Tehran to foster imperial and jihadist designs. The Sunni states of the Persian Gulf, Jordan and Egypt, faced with the absence of an alternative political structure, favor the American objective but fear the consequence of turning Syria into another Libya…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
National Post, Nov. 5, 2015
John Robert Gallagher was a Canadian who volunteered with the Kurdish forces in northern Syria to fight ISIL. He was reportedly killed in a suicide bombing Wednesday…
First, let me get the obvious out of the way: I do not expect anyone to agree that it is a wise course of action to volunteer to fight against ISIS. Would-be terrorists from all over the world, including Canada, (including some I probably went to school with,) are flooding into the Middle East by the thousands. They’ve got the numbers and the weapons to win this war, so to go stand on the other side of the battlefield is objectively insane.
I also respect the viewpoint that the last thing any westerners ought to do is get involved in another Middle Eastern conflict. We’ve already done tremendous damage to the region; the rise of ISIS is a direct result of foreign policy blunders by the last two Presidents (at least!). If you think that for the good of the region we should all sit this one out, I can understand that. But I can’t agree.
The cause of a free and independent Kurdistan is important enough to be worth fighting for all on its own. The Kurdish people are the largest ethnicity in the world without a country of their own, and have suffered enormously under the boot-heel of regional powers. Now they are under threat from another genocidal foe, yet they have not given themselves over to the joint manias of religious fanaticism and suicide murder. This should be enough reason for the West to give them whatever support they need in such a time of crisis. But there is an even better reason.
For decades now, we have been at war. This war has been unacknowledged by our leaders, but enthusiastically proclaimed by our enemies. This war has produced casualties on every continent, in nearly every nation on earth. It has had periods of intense fighting, followed by long stretches of rearming and regrouping, but it has never ended. It is not even close to being won. Someday historians will look back and marvel at how much effort we put into deceiving ourselves about the nature of this conflict, and wonder how we convinced ourselves that it was not even taking place. This war may have started in 1979, or earlier; 2001 increased the intensity of the conflict; the withdrawal from Iraq kicked off the latest phase. Like the American Civil War, World War II, and the Cold War, this war is about ideas as much as it is about armies. Slavery, fascism, and communism were all bad ideas which required costly sacrifice before they were finally destroyed. In our time, we have a new bad idea: Theocracy.
We live in a society that’s grown around a very basic philosophical principle: That the world around us can be understood using our senses and our minds. From this simple insight comes the moral revelation that all human beings are equal in this capacity, and therefore equal in dignity. This radical idea was the turning point in human history, before which all civilizations had been dominated by the idea that class hierarchies and racism were perfectly justified according to the revealed wisdom of ancient texts, and sanctified by holy men with a special relationship to some ‘divine’ power. We began to see justice as something which could be measured by its effects on living people, not as superstition.
This idea has been under threat ever since its inception, because it’s the most powerful force for human emancipation that has ever been, and so it is a deadly threat to the privileged. It is also a threat to those who fear a world where human beings must be the judges of our own actions. Some prefer to subordinate their own morality to a doctrine they know they can never fully understand; this is more agreeable than facing the thought that we are alone in this world. This terror at our own freedom, and hatred for the mind that makes its realization inescapable, has given birth to movements that promise to give us back our comforting delusions. Communism and fascism were both answers to the problem of human freedom. These ideas were defeated. But always in the background the germ of these ideas was aggressively breeding. Theocracy isn’t just as dangerous as fascism; it’s the model of fascism, and all totalitarianisms. Communism said ‘instead of god, the Party.’ Fascism said, ‘instead of god, the Nation!’ Theocracy simply says ‘God.’
There is nothing uniquely Islamic about this trend, except that it just so happens that the most violent proponents of theocracy today happen to be Muslim. In the 1500’s, it was the Christians. By hard fighting and a brave defense of our principles, the forces of secularism managed to wrestle control of European society away from the theocrats, and we have been fighting the regressive movements that have tried to take their place ever since. The Muslim world has been dominated by theocratic politics for decades now, and that war has overflowed to engulf the rest of the world.
We are all on the front lines of this conflict, whether we know it or not. We can measure the causalities not only in the body counts of deadly terror attacks, ‘mass demonstrations,’ embassy assaults and assassinated artists; we can also measure it in the terror produced among cartoonists, satirists, publishers and booksellers, news media and educators who are being prevented from doing their necessary work of maintaining the machinery of the enlightenment. Not only have we all been threatened; in many ways we are all already casualties of this war…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Algemeiner, Nov. 6, 2015
During the summer of 1938, with an urgent situation facing Jews in Nazi-occupied lands, 32 nations gathered in Evian, France, to find a solution to the Jewish refugee crisis. German, Austrian and Czech Jews were desperate to leave, but few nations would accept any Jewish immigrants beyond their meager quotas. Nothing was resolved at Evian, as delegate after delegate refused to expand their quotas.
The horrors of Kristallnacht on November 9, 1938 exacerbated the German Jewish refugee crisis. Nearly 100 Jews were murdered and 30,000 were sent to concentration camps. Five hundred synagogues were burnt down, and more than 7,000 Jewish businesses were destroyed. More than 200,000 German Jews had not yet left, and 200,000 Jews in Austria were under German occupation.
Just six weeks before Kristallnacht, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain triumphantly proclaimed “peace in our time” following the ill fated Munich deal. A full page advertisement in the London Jewish Chronicle — in an appeal for German Jewry — simply stated, “HELP! Before it is too late.” The British did react with a gesture. The Kindertransport plan presented to the British Parliament on November 15, 1938, allowed for 10,000 German and Austrian Jewish children to be brought into Great Britain. The first train left on December 10, 1938, with six hundred children.
Many Americans realized after Kristallnacht, known then as “Black Thursday,” that along with the Jews, all Western civilization was in danger. The Cleveland Plain Dealer noted that “The Jews are not the sole sufferers. This is a pogrom against Christian civilization itself. Decent world opinion and civilized governments cannot remain indifferent or silent.” United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt did extend the visas for 12,000-15,000 German Jewish refugees who were already in the US as visitors, but would not change US immigration policies. At a White House Press conference, Roosevelt expressed shock at the news of the pogrom, “I myself could scarcely believe that such things could occur in a twentieth century civilization.” When asked if immigration restrictions would be relaxed, he responded, “This is not in contemplation. We have a quota system.”
Roosevelt’s position mirrored the views of most Americans. According to a Fortune Magazine poll after Kristallnacht, 83% of Americans opposed enlarging quotas, 8.3% were undecided, and 8.7% were not opposed. Years of demagoguery and antisemitic hate mongering by the likes of Father Coughlin and Gerald K. Smith had its impact. There was revulsion at the violence but a continued unwillingness to respond meaningfully. However, President Roosevelt could have nonetheless still taken action. Economic sanctions could have been imposed on Germany. Refugees could have been permitted to settle temporarily in a US territory such as the Philippines or the Virgin Islands.
Jewish organizations did not protest. There were no rallies, no protests, no significant efforts mounted to call for change. Samuel Rosenmann, an influential leader of the American Jewish Committee, stated that bringing in refugees “would create a Jewish crisis in the USA.”…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Followers: Shabbat Shalom!
A Critique of Obama's Understanding of Israel: Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic, June 1, 2015 —After I posted an interview with President Obama late last month, I received any number of interesting responses (and also many non-interesting responses, and also some profane non-interesting responses), but few were as comprehensive as that of Yossi Kuperwasser, a former Israeli general and intelligence expert who served until recently as director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs.
Boots on Syrian Soil: National Post, Nov. 3, 2015—Can anyone explain what U.S. President Barack Obama is doing sending U.S. Special Operations forces to Syria? He certainly can’t. He seems to be discarding the lessons of Vietnam in order to repeat them. But why?
Ted Cruz: A Fresh Approach to American Foreign Policy – and US-Israel Relations: Caroline Glick, Breaking Israel News, Oct. 27, 2015 —US Senator Ted Cruz, the conservative Republican firebrand from Texas, is running for president. Up until a few weeks ago, his candidacy was met with indifference as the media and political operatives all dismissed the viability of his candidacy. But that is beginning to change. The voices arguing that Cruz, the favorite of Tea Party fiscal conservatives and Evangelical Christians may have what it takes to win the Republican nomination have multiplied.
The World is a Scary Place. Let’s Hope Justin Trudeau is Up For the Task: Terry Glavin, National Post, Nov. 3, 2015—It wasn’t exactly auspicious, the way prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau chose to set the inaugural tone for his new Liberal government at a rally in Ottawa on Tuesday, in which he introduced himself to Canada’s “friends around the world,” whoever they might be.