NB: EXCITING UPDATE TO OUR CONFERENCE: KEYNOTE ADDRESS WILL BE FROM RABBI IRVING GREENBERG, & A SPECIAL VIDEO PRESENTATION FROM ELIE WIESEL!
Beth Tikvah Synagogue & CIJR Present: The Annual Sabina Citron International Conference: THE JEWISH THOUGHT OF EMIL L. FACKENHEIM: JUDAISM, ZIONISM, HOLOCAUST, ISRAEL — Toronto, Sunday, October 25, 2015, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. The day-long Beth Tikvah Conference, co-chaired by Prof. Frederick Krantz (CIJR) and Rabbi Jarrod R. Grover (Beth Tikvah), open to the public and especially to students, features original papers by outstanding Canadian and international scholars, some his former students, on the many dimensions of Emil L. Fackenheim's exceptionally powerful, and prophetic thought, and on his rich life and experience. Tickets: Regular – $36; Seniors – $18; students free. For registration, information, conference program, and other queries call 1-855-303-5544 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit our site: www.isranet.org/events.
Iran Steps Up Its Aggressions in the Region: Washington Post, Oct. 20, 2015— As they concluded the nuclear deal with Iran in July, President Obama and Secretary of State John F. Kerry repeatedly suggested that it could open the way to cooperation with Tehran in resolving regional conflicts, beginning with the civil war in Syria.
Iranian Cheating: Michael Makovsky, Weekly Standard, Oct. 26, 2015 — Sunday, October 18, isn’t just a day of baseball playoffs and pro football games.
Meanwhile, Putin Is Also Arming Iran: Daniel Z. Katz, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 11, 2015— While all eyes are on Vladimir Putin’s machinations in Syria, deploying Russian fighters and troops, a potentially more dangerous Moscow effort in Iran is picking up steam.
Why the Iran Deal Ensures War: Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, Oct. 6, 2015 — There are several scenarios the Obama administration may be entertaining as it pursues its diplomacy in the Middle East.
Ilan Berman: The Iran Deal – Outlook from Europe and Israel: Youtube, Sept. 21, 2015
Iran’s ‘Suicide Drones’ in Syria: Michael Rubin, Commentary, Oct. 22, 2015
Obama Will Be the Only Person Sticking to Iran Deal: Amir Taheri, New York Post, Oct. 11, 2015
The Limits of Iranian Power: Jonathan Spyer, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 11, 2015
Washington Post, Oct. 20, 2015
As they concluded the nuclear deal with Iran in July, President Obama and Secretary of State John F. Kerry repeatedly suggested that it could open the way to cooperation with Tehran in resolving regional conflicts, beginning with the civil war in Syria. They also promised the United States would push back if Iran instead stepped up its aggression. Just three months later, Iran’s most notorious general is overseeing a new offensive by thousands of Iranian, Iraqi and Lebanese fighters aimed at recapturing the Syrian city of Aleppo from rebel forces, including some backed by the United States. Mr. Obama shows no sign of responding.
The Iranian-led offensive, which is supported by Russian air power, appears to be the most aggressive intervention yet by Iran in the Syrian war. The Post reported that hundreds of troops from the elite Quds Force had been joined by thousands of Iraqi Shiite militiamen and forces from Lebanon’s Hezbollah, all under the command of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, who previously directed attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq. Far from accepting appeals from Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry to help broker a diplomatic settlement, Iran has joined with Russia to entrench the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and help it to recapture Aleppo and other parts of the country.
The attack is one of several provocative steps Tehran has taken as the nuclear deal has begun to come into effect. The same day the accord was debated by its parliament this month, the regime test-fired a nuclear-capable missile, violating a U.N. Security Council resolution. The White House acknowledged the infraction but pointed out that it was outside the bounds of the nuclear agreement. Also that day, Iranian television reported that The Post’s Jason Rezaian had been convicted on espionage charges after a closed trial. The administration condemned the verdict.
On Sunday, the United States and its European partners began taking steps to implement the nuclear accord. Much is now required of Iran: It must place 12,000 centrifuges into storage, ship 12 tons of enriched uranium out of the country and demolish the core of a plutonium reactor before it can receive the more than $100 billion in assets frozen under sanctions. It could be that the missile test and unjust conviction of Mr. Rezaian are the regime’s demonstration that its nuclear concessions will not change its hostile stance toward the West or its military ambitions. If so, it is a cruel tactic that uses Mr. Rezaian, a professional journalist and American citizen, as a human pawn.
But the Syrian offensive is certainly more than message-sending. If successful, it could eliminate the chance to construct a moderate, secular alternative to the Assad regime, and send hundreds of thousands more refugees across Syria’s borders. It was just such aggression that Mr. Obama acknowledged might be a byproduct of the nuclear deal — and that he vowed to resist. If he remains passive as Maj. Gen. Soleimani’s forces press forward, both Iranian and U.S. allies across the Middle East will conclude that there will be no U.S. check on an Iranian push for regional hegemony.
Weekly Standard, Oct. 26, 2015
Sunday, October 18, isn’t just a day of baseball playoffs and pro football games. It’s “Adoption Day,” when all parties to the Iran nuclear deal must begin preparing to implement its terms. And while the Obama administration takes another opportunity to pat itself on the back for its achievement, Iran has offered the international community a clear signal of what it thinks about its obligations under the deal, as well as its strategic intentions. Just a week before Adoption Day, Iran test-fired a new precision-guided ballistic missile capable of delivering a 1,600-pound warhead to Israel or even southeastern Europe and designed to evade missile defense systems.
Legally, this launch was an indisputable violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929, passed in 2010, which dictates “Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology.” The Obama administration apparently found some wiggle room in the last five words of the UNSC injunction. Initially, White House press secretary Josh Earnest would only hazard that there are “strong indications” Iran violated the measure. Later, U.N. ambassador Samantha Power was prepared to make a more definitive legal judgment, but felt she lacked a sufficient grasp of reality to actually accuse Iran of a transgression. “If the facts are as we believe them to be,” she hedged, “it would violate U.N. Security Council resolutions.”
Ultimately, however, the legal status of Iran’s missile launch is unimportant to the administration. There is no lesson to be learned here, no reason to worry, and no illustration of Iran’s attitude toward international agreements. Sure, Earnest conceded, “We have seen Iran almost serially violate the international community’s concerns about their ballistic missile program.” But it would be wrong to draw conclusions from these offenses, which he considered “entirely separate” from the nuclear deal. After all, “in contrast to [these] repeated violations of the U.N. Security Council resolution . . . we’ve seen that Iran over the last couple of years has demonstrated a track record of abiding by the commitments that they made in the context of the nuclear talks.”
Even if this last assertion were true—which it is not—the conclusion the administration draws from it is frightening. Iranian cheating in one area, we are to believe, should not be taken to mean that Iran will cheat elsewhere, too. Cheating is not, we are to believe, a general characteristic of a vicious, authoritarian regime with nothing but contempt and hostility for the West and its international legal institutions.
The fact is that the larger implications of the missile launch are staring us in the face. Indeed, what is most stunning about Earnest’s statement is not the contention that Iran hasn’t cheated on its nuclear commitments but the implicit claim that Iran’s ballistic missile program is unconnected to the nuclear deal. Iran could build and fire as many missiles as it wanted, and Obama would be content to cherish the deal he achieved. And it is true the text of the deal contains no mention of ballistic missiles. They only appear on page 99 of an annex to UNSC Resolution 2231, which instantiates the deal, and only for the purpose of giving Iran permission, in eight years’ time, to pursue ballistic missile technology freely.
But this should tell us—and we argued at the time it did tell us—everything one needs to know about the deal. Ballistic missiles are not some minor offshoot of a nuclear weapons program. They are an integral part of any such program, providing the delivery vehicles necessary for getting a nuclear device on target. What need has Iran of such lethal projectiles if it has no nuclear weapons aspirations? Thanks to the administration’s obtuseness, or delusion, in believing these matters are “entirely separate,” Iran will be permitted to attain the capability to fire nuclear weapons anywhere in the world, including at the American homeland.
Combined with Tehran’s hostile rhetoric against Israel and the United States, plus Iran’s intensified cooperation with Russia in Syria, the ballistic missile launch confirms that the deal, contrary to administration rhetoric, has not and will not soften the edges of the murderous Iranian regime, empower moderates in Tehran, or pave the way to détente with Iran. It has only emboldened the Islamic Republic while destroying U.S. credibility. This was entirely obvious and predictable to anyone who sees the world as it is instead of through a delusional ideological prism.
Unfortunately, we have an administration deeply committed to its ideological prism. And it will remain in office for another 14 months. We also have a Congress that is entitled to try to make the world the next president faces less dangerous than it would otherwise be. Does the nuclear deal, which didn’t involve ballistic missiles, as the administration keeps reminding us, somehow require Congress to do nothing as Iran tests its missiles?
Daniel Z. Katz
Wall Street Journal, Oct. 11, 2015
While all eyes are on Vladimir Putin’s machinations in Syria, deploying Russian fighters and troops, a potentially more dangerous Moscow effort in Iran is picking up steam. Media outlets are reporting that Russian S-300 surface-to-air missile systems may be delivered before the end of the year.
The S-300 is considered “defensive” and as such is not subject to United Nations sanctions. Each system fielded creates a formidable shield against air attacks over a large area. It operates as a battalion, at the center of which is a search radar that scans out to 180 miles and tracks up to 100 aircraft. All components of the S-300 are mounted on trucks and mobile in minutes. Surrounding it are six “batteries,” each composed of a guidance radar and up to eight launchers holding four missiles with a range of 90 miles. Each battery can fire on six targets at the same time, allowing a full battalion to engage 36 aircraft simultaneously. According to Russian reports, Iran will receive at least four battalions.
What does this mean if Iran violates its nuclear agreement and the U.S. or its allies are forced to strike its nuclear facilities? America has ways to defeat the system. Its arsenal boasts 20 stealth bombers, over a hundred F-22 stealth fighters and a growing number of stealthy F-35s—all of which would be difficult for the S-300 to detect. In addition, the U.S. operates over 100 jammer aircraft and possesses many missiles that can be fired from outside the range of the S-300. Still, the S-300 will be by far the most capable air-defense system fielded by Tehran and its deployment will increase the chances the U.S. will lose aircraft and pilots in any conflict.
What does the delivery mean for Israel, which has long considered an attack on Tehran’s enrichment sites? The arrival of the S-300 complicates what is already a difficult operation. None of Israel’s current aircraft are stealthy, and though it will start receiving F-35s in 2017, these lack the range to reach Iran unless they can refuel on the journey. But again, the S-300 doesn’t present an insurmountable barrier. The Israelis are known experts in electronic warfare and their military authorities have stated that they can counter the system.
The development is most threatening for America’s allies in the Gulf Cooperation Council, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. Tehran seeks to dominate the six Arab states along the Persian Gulf’s western coast. Their best deterrent is their small but capable air forces. Many of the Saudi and Emirati aircraft are of modern designs and have performed well in striking undefended targets in Libya, Iraq and Yemen. But none of these air forces operate stealthy aircraft, and none have executed the complex mission of dismantling a modern air-defense network.
The S-300 is not a “game-changer” but is a significant step forward for Iran’s defenses and a likely harbinger of future improvements. Two of the problems with the Iran nuclear deal is it allows research into advanced centrifuges while permitting the import of conventional weapons after five years—and that assumes Iran abides by the terms. If, in five to 10 years, Tehran decides this deal has outlived its usefulness, it can manufacture a disagreement and withdraw, and it will then possess better centrifuge designs and an array of advanced weapons with which to defend them, including the S-300.
Victor Davis Hanson
National Review, Oct. 6, 2015
There are several scenarios the Obama administration may be entertaining as it pursues its diplomacy in the Middle East. It may believe that the new agreement with Iran will lead to “engagement” with reform-minded theocrats. The idea is that this will insidiously liberalize the regime, empower a younger generation of pro-Western reformers, and put the theocracy on “an arc of history” back into the “family of nations.” Or perhaps an Obama-inspired second green revolution will overthrow the regime, and we will see a Euro-socialist Iranian republic renounce nuclear weapons — or at least, having inherited custodianship of the existing arsenal, oversee it in the fashion of democratic Israel or France.
Alternatively, the administration may imagine that a Shiite Axis — Iran, Syria, Iraq, Hezbollah, Hamas — empowered by Putin’s Russia, will balance the region, either, strategically, convincing the Sunni monarchies to accept the new balance of power, or, morally, ensuring that formerly outlaw anti-American radical regimes find parity with the pro-American conservative and right-wing regimes in Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf monarchies. Or, less concretely, the United States may simply wish to abdicate the Middle East and let the players there all fight it out, reentering when the players are worn out and defeated. All these scenarios are probably fantasies. In truth, the deal will make the world a much more dangerous place. Here are five reasons why.
I. How to Negotiate a Bomb The U.S. has now established an official blueprint on how to get nuclear weapons without being relegated to pariah status. Iran, unlike Pakistan and North Korea, is not renegading its way to nuclear weapons, but is negotiating its pathway with the approval of the West. Yet Iran’s government is just as unhinged as those of the last two nuclear newcomers, is more centrally positioned in the Middle East, and has far more financial resources, given its singular reserves of natural gas and oil. Other would-be nuclear nations will make the necessary adjustments, asking for similar sorts of American-backed supposed non-proliferation protocols, as they shadow Iran step by step into nuclear readiness. The combination of Iran’s transition to nuclear status under the aegis of the U.S., and the Obama administration’s simultaneous renunciation of America’s prior Middle East role, amounts to a one-two punch to the Sunni world, which will assume that neither conventional arsenals nor American guardianship will deter Iran. Again, the Sunni nations will eventually make the necessary nuclear adjustments in the manner that worked for Iran. A nuclear Middle East will be the bastard child of this treaty.
II. The Logic of Israel Conventional wisdom assures us that the Iranian nuclear facilities cannot be completely destroyed militarily. Any attempt to do so supposedly would fail to eliminate all the hidden and fortified enrichment plants and would only elicit both an Iranian conventional response and an asymmetrical terrorist response. Thus, Israel, for example, would not be so foolish as to try. Perhaps. But conventional wisdom does not always work in the Middle East in general, and in particular not for Israel, which has no margin for error, given its size and location. Instead, the impossible may in truth become the most likely. Israelis remember what the world’s assurances and civilized veneer got their ancestors the last time a head of state talked about eliminating Jews.
Israel’s leadership will not assume that even a 90 percent likelihood that Iran either won’t get nuclear weapons or won’t use them against Israel is good enough to ensure the impossibility of another Holocaust. Are Jews for the next 20 years supposed to listen to an Iranian general du jour wink and nod about nuclear weapons as he blusters about the end of the Jewish state, only to hear the next day that the supposed threat was due to a mistranslation of the Farsi or that it was an unauthorized outburst from a minor official — with the cycle of staged nuclear bombast starting again the next week and the week after that, as the world advises Israelis to watch their manners and observe proportionality?
I doubt that the descendants of those who went through the Holocaust are going to sit still permanently under an Iranian nuclear sword of Damocles and be serially teased about how frayed is the string holding it above them. Regional Götterdämmerung may seem preferable to certain eventual strangulation. And the pious assurances of John Kerry sound too much like those of an earlier generation of State Department blue-blood grandees like John McCloy and Breckinridge Long in the run-up to World War II — and are just as empty and in the end would prove just as cruel.
III. A Pitiful, Helpless Giant. The appearance of U.S. capitulation is already rippling throughout the world. President Obama has issued at least five deadlines about nuclear proliferation and then looked the other way as the Iranians have flouted them. For all the Western braggadocio about the Iran deal, most observers worldwide will glean from the agreement that a tired West caved on sanctions, was eager to trade with the Iranians and make money, is afraid to stand up to the theocracy and its supporters, and sees the deal as part of a grand recessional from past American prominence. It matters not whether this is a factual description of U.S. efforts to negotiate with Iran; it matters only that it is becoming the general global consensus. Evidence of that supposition includes the abrupt renunciation of the Oslo agreements by the Palestinians, and Putin’s brazen entry into and bombing in the Middle East and his sponsorship of a new Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian, and Hezbollah arc that will eventually threaten the Sunni oil producers…
The ripples of American impotence reach well beyond the Middle East, as we see with Putin’s inroads into the former subject nations of the Soviet Union, the sudden rearming of the Japanese, China’s indifference to warnings about cyber attacks and its new artificial atolls in the Pacific, and the increasing bluster of the Latin American socialist dictatorships. The world has been reviewing U.S. behavior via-à-vis Iran and has concluded that the only mystery is whether America’s enemies are now allowed to do as they please, or whether, in fact, they are no longer enemies but friends. The result is growing chaos. The medicine that will eventually be needed to treat this disease will make the post-Obama years the most dangerous era in American foreign policy since the Cuban Missile Crisis.
IV. The Collapse of Iranian Dissent There is no evidence, either from history or from the contemporary world, that engagement with an appeasing West infects dictatorial systems, as their enslaved masses get hooked on freedom and Western consumer junk, and eventually revolt. More likely the opposite is true. It was a minority of Germans that voted Hitler into power. Many of the Junkers on the German General Staff had, by 1938, rightly sized Hitler up as a dangerous nut whose insane geostrategic gambling was going to get an utterly unprepared Germany into a global war that it could not win. They were right, but entirely discredited after Munich. A Western sellout destroyed German clandestine opposition to Hitler, who boasted of his bullying as the German people basked in his reflected glory. What sent Hitler permanently into his Führerbunker and dissipated the once-adoring crowds was not the Munich Agreement, but Stalingrad, El Alamein, and Hamburg aflame. Carterism did not bring down the Berlin Wall, the implosion of the Soviet system did — because of the post-Carter pressures of the Reagan administration’s deterrent rhetoric and military renaissance. I-Phones and thousands of Chinese students at Berkeley and Yale have not created a liberated Tiananmen Square–like China or stopped Chinese cyber warfare.
The nuclear deal with Tehran will undermine Iranian dissidents. The Iranian economy, flush with cash and new oil revenues, will uplift the Iranian people, and the theocracy will rightly take the credit, adding the relish that its policies have both led to better economic times and rubbed the Great Satan’s snout in the muck. It may be true that Iranian youth love America, but that admiration was based on our own opposition to Iran’s eroding and incompetent seventh-century theocracy — not on our later appeasement and empowerment of the mullahs. The theocracy will gain public support from its new global status, likely acquisition of nuclear capability, and rebooted economy; its opponents will lose face, and the world will be the worse off….
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Ilan Berman: The Iran Deal – Outlook from Europe and Israel: Youtube, Sept. 21, 2015
Iran’s ‘Suicide Drones’ in Syria: Michael Rubin, Commentary, Oct. 22, 2015 — Earlier this year, the Islamic Republic News Agency had produced a story about the Iranian military’s development of “suicide drones,” in some way’s a poor man’s cruise missile, but in other ways more advantageous to their Iranian operators: the drone can operate and seek out targets of opportunity, be they targets on the ground or perhaps U.S. helicopters operating off ships in the Persian Gulf.
Obama Will Be the Only Person Sticking to Iran Deal: Amir Taheri, New York Post, Oct. 11, 2015— Sometime this week, President Obama is scheduled to sign an executive order to meet the Oct. 15 “adoption day” he has set for the nuclear deal he says he has made with Iran. According to the president’s timetable the next step would be “the start day of implementation,” fixed for Dec. 15.
The Limits of Iranian Power: Jonathan Spyer, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 11, 2015 — While regional news remains dominated by the dramatic events under way in Syria, further south and east important developments are taking place in one of the more neglected arenas of the regional struggle – Yemen.