Tag: Obama Administration

TALIBAN RESURGENCE UNDERMINES LENGTHY, & COSTLY, U.S. AFGHAN RECONSTRUCTION

The Taliban Attack in Kabul and Afghanistan’s Devolution: Michael Kugelman, Wall Street Journal, Apr. 19, 2016— The consequences of a stalled Afghan peace process were violently illustrated Tuesday morning when the Taliban detonated a truck bomb outside a government facility in Kabul less than a mile from the presidential palace.

The Taliban Three Years After Mullah Omar: Catherine Hirst, Real Clear World, Apr. 28, 2016 — This month marks the three year anniversary of the death of Mullah Mohammed Omar, the infamous, one-eyed cleric who led the Taliban for more than sixteen years.

We Wasted $113B in Afghanistan, no Wonder ‘America First’ Resonates: Paul Sperry, New York Post, May 15, 2016— While Donald Trump took a lot of heat for his recent “America First” speech, which foreign-policy experts rejected as “isolationist,” a scathing new Pentagon report on Afghan reconstruction backs his stance against nation-building.

For Obama, an Unexpected Legacy of Two Full Terms at War: Mark Landler, New York Times, May 14, 2016 — President Obama came into office seven years ago pledging to end the wars of his predecessor, George W. Bush.

 

On Topic Links

 

Taliban Cut Off Afghan Highway Linking Kabul to Northern Gateways: Rod Nordland, New York Times, May 14, 2016

Taliban Suicide Attack in Kabul Renews Debate on Afghanistan Troop Cuts: Carlo Munoz, Washington Times, Apr. 19, 2016

John Kerry: Afghanistan One of 'Proudest Achievements of the Obama Administration': Jeryl Bier, Weekly Standard, May 16, 2016

Spring on the Afghan Front Lines: Danielle Moylan, New York Times, May 6, 2016

 

 

THE TALIBAN ATTACK IN KABUL AND AFGHANISTAN’S DEVOLUTION                                        

Michael Kugelman                                                                                     

Wall Street Journal, Apr. 19, 2016

 

The consequences of a stalled Afghan peace process were violently illustrated Tuesday morning when the Taliban detonated a truck bomb outside a government facility in Kabul less than a mile from the presidential palace. The 9 a.m. blast, the terrorist organization’s way of signaling the start of its new fighting season, killed at least 30 people and injured more than 300 others.

 

An Afghan police commander on the scene said, “First it felt like an earthquake, and then came the powerful sound of the explosion,” the Guardian reported. A wounded witness quoted in the New York Times that he saw “people lying on the road hopelessly—some screaming, other silently giving out their last breath, and some already dead.”

 

The rush-hour assault came two days after the United Nations said that civilian casualties in Afghanistan for the first three months of 2016 were 2% higher than in the same period of 2015. There were more than 11,000 civilian casualties in Afghanistan last year—the highest number since 2001. And the Taliban holds more territory than it has at any time since 2001.

 

Beleaguered Afghan security forces, no longer assisted by foreign combat forces, have struggled to suppress a relentless insurgency. Despite improvements in war-fighting capacity and sustained efforts, the overall trend is not in their favor. In many far-flung regions the Afghan government has outsourced security responsibilities to undisciplined anti-Taliban militias. Meanwhile, the national government in Kabul is united only in name; constant infighting has bred dysfunction and hampered efforts to address the insurgency.

 

Afghanistan is likely to be in for a long and bloody year, a prospect that has implications for regional and global stability, especially if Afghanistan’s destabilization enables al Qaeda to establish new sanctuaries. Al Qaeda remains a force to be reckoned with not only in the Middle East and North Africa but also in Afghanistan. In October U.S. forces destroyed what Gen. John F. Campbell, then the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, described as “probably the largest” al Qaeda training camp found since U.S. troops arrived in 2001. For Afghans, the growing instability has direct and immediate consequences. In the hours after the attack on Tuesday, hundreds descended on hospitals to donate blood; social media posts of their efforts, some noted, are proof of the resilience of Afghan society.

 

But resilience alone cannot defeat the Taliban. Nor can it resolve Afghanistan’s economic crisis or rein in widespread corruption. This is partly why many Afghans are leaving their country; more than 200,000 were among the refugees flowing into Europe last year, according to the U.N., and others have fled elsewhere. Many are young, educated, and middle class—a demographic that would otherwise make vital contributions to Afghanistan’s struggling economy. This exodus—as understandable as it is unfortunate—makes the Afghan government’s job tougher while further strengthening an emboldened Taliban.     

 

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THE TALIBAN THREE YEARS AFTER MULLAH OMAR

Catherine Hirst

Real Clear World, Apr. 28, 2016

 

This month marks the three year anniversary of the death of Mullah Mohammed Omar, the infamous, one-eyed cleric who led the Taliban for more than sixteen years. Omar was a fascinating figure on many fronts. Famously reclusive and enigmatic, no Western journalist ever met him and he wasn't seen in public after 2001. Under his rule, a stringent formulation of Shariah Law was implemented in Afghanistan, including amputation for theft and stoning for adultery. A veteran of the Soviet-Afghan war, Omar and Osama bin Laden were close colleagues and this was an important factor in the 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan. After the fall of the Taliban, Omar managed to evade capture for twelve years, despite an intensive US-led manhunt and a $US10 million bounty. He died of natural causes in 2013.

 

Beyond his notorious exploits, influence, and the mysteries that surround him, Omar's life and death provide fascinating insights into the role of individual leaders in the Jihadi system. Omar commanded almost mythic status as the spiritual and political leader of the Taliban. He was referred to by his followers as Amir al-Mu'minin (Leader of the faithful), the prestigious title used by Islamic Caliphs throughout history. His authority extended beyond the Taliban; Al-Qaeda and other regional Islamist groups were also loyal.

 

The legitimacy vested in Omar as leader of the Taliban was such that his death was (rather successfully) concealed for more than two years by a small group of high-ranking Taliban members. When the news of Omar's death broke in July 2015, some commentators asserted that the Taliban was facing a ‘legitimacy crisis', that the Taliban and other Afghan and Pakistani Jihadi factions could fracture, and that his death had broken the back of the Taliban.

 

This has not been the case. Contesting or in control of at least one-fifth of Afghanistan, the Taliban currently holds more territory than at any point since the 2001 invasion. It has even made significant inroads into the opium-rich Helmand province, now controlling seven of the thirteen districts, and threatening the provincial capital Lashkar Gah. Last week heralded the deadliest suicide attack since 2011, with the Taliban killing 30 and wounding more than 300 people in the Afghan capital Kabul.

 

There are many reasons for the recent resurgence of the Taliban, and Omar is not one of them. Although a significant amount of prestige, legitimacy and power were indeed concentrated in the former Taliban leader, the degree of this concentration and its long-term impact on the organisation has been overstated. Recent gains made by the Taliban show that experienced deputies (such as Mullah Mansour), a breadth of strategic expertise (as represented in the 21-man Rabari Shura or leadership council), multiple revenue streams, the support of foreign fighters (largely Uzbeks and Pakistanis), and a local support base are all important reasons why Jihadist groups can remain resilient despite leadership change.

 

The experience of the Taliban resonates with other Jihadi organisations and their leadership. Al-Qaeda has been making gains in Afghanistan in spite of Osama bin Laden's death in 2011, defying predictions this would be a crippling blow. Similarly, al-Shabab is faring surprisingly well despite the assassination of its charismatic leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane, in September 2014. Predictions that his death would mark the beginning of the end for the group have not been borne out. Al-Shabab has ramped up its attacks over the last 12 months, and has shown remarkable resilience and adaptability in the face of the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), Somali Government and US assaults.

 

Despite the mythic status of many Jihadi leaders, heads are rarely indispensable to their organisations. Leaders are important, but they can be replaced. Ironically, the fact the Taliban has prospered after Omar's death is a testament to how formidable a leader he was.          

                                                                       

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WE WASTED $113B IN AFGHANISTAN,

NO WONDER ‘AMERICA FIRST’ RESONATES

Paul Sperry

 New York Post, May 15, 2016

 

While Donald Trump took a lot of heat for his recent “America First” speech, which foreign-policy experts rejected as “isolationist,” a scathing new Pentagon report on Afghan reconstruction backs his stance against nation-building. In virtually every category — from infrastructure to education to security — our virtual adoption of that nation has been a costly fiasco. In a report to Congress, the Defense Department reveals that Washington so far has spent an eye-popping $113.2 billion to rebuild Afghanistan — an amount that, adjusted for inflation, tops by $10 billion the total we committed to rebuilding post-WWII Europe under the Marshall Plan. Yet in this case, taxpayers have almost nothing to show for it.

 

Much of the Afghan reconstruction funds have been lost to waste, fraud, abuse and rampant corruption. And unlike Western Europe, where we today enjoy profitable export markets, benighted Afghanistan (formally renamed the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan) offers virtually zero return on our massive investment. After 15 years, “The reconstruction effort in Afghanistan is in a perilous state,” Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko concludes in his 236-page report.

 

The reconstruction mishaps in Iraq are legion and legendary. But less is known about the rebuilding of Afghanistan, where the screw-ups are just as bad, if not worse. Take security projects and programs, which account for roughly 60% of the $113 billion in Afghan reconstruction funding. Despite spending some $5 billion a year to stand up a national army and police force, “neither the United States nor its Afghan allies know how many Afghan soldiers and police actually exist,” the report says. A large share are AWOL. In fact, Afghan military and police rolls contain potentially tens of thousands of “ghost” personnel, whose cost we still pay and whose absence distorts the security picture. Without US combat troops, the capital of Kabul is now relying almost exclusively on unreliable forces to defend itself from sacking.

 

A large chunk of the country remains unprotected and unstable. Almost a third of provincial districts are effectively under Taliban control, and the insurgency is intensifying. In the space of just a few days in late March, for example, the Taliban assassinated an Afghan army general in Kandahar and a judge in Ghazni, while bombarding the new Afghan parliament building in Kabul with rockets. The security situation is so bad that American personnel are generally confined to the US Embassy fortress, and have to take a helicopter to get to the airport because the roads are so unsafe. Bombings, raids, ambushes and hit-and-run assaults are common along major highways, even at police checkpoints.

 

American taxpayers are losing huge amounts of money thanks to corrupt and incompetent Afghan military contractors, who have misappropriated Pentagon funds. Here are just a few examples:  More than $200 million to buy fuel for army vehicles has gone missing. Another half-billion dollars was wasted buying a fleet of second-hand Air Force cargo planes that were deemed too dangerous to fly. More than $1 million was spent building and rebuilding army buildings that “melted” in the rain and crumbled because of substandard bricks and other materials. About $32 million to install steel bars in culverts to prevent the Taliban from placing bombs under roads was also largely wasted.  Many of the bars were installed incorrectly or never installed at all, likely resulting in US troop deaths or injuries, according to the report.

 

Efforts at drug interdiction have also failed. Despite spending $8.4 billion on counter-narcotics programs, the poppy fields of Helmand province have largely been reclaimed by the Taliban, which sells opium to finance terrorism. The opium trade, in fact, is flourishing. Here’s a stomach-turning stat: The 3,300 tons of opium the United Nations figured Afghanistan produced last year is the same number the UN calculated for the country’s opium production in 2000. So literally nothing has changed.

 

And despite spending $1 billion promoting Western-style democracy and human rights, harsh religious mandates still dominate Afghanistan, where Islamic law is still considered the supreme law. Girls are still forced into marriage with older men, women are still jailed for “moral crimes,” and both remain wrapped up in the oppressive burka. Despite spending $760 million improving Afghan education, moreover, 3.5 million primary-school-age children — 75% of them girls — remain out of school. Recently, some 714 schools were closed. “Nonexistent or ghost teachers have been a long-standing problem and, in most cases, attendance sheets are not filled out or are frequently forged,” the report said. The inspector general also found fully-staffed schools attended by only a handful of students…

 

Washington nation-builders had projected they’d add $1.3 billion in growth to the Afghan economy in 2015. But no such boost has occurred. In fact, Afghan GDP actually fell to $19.7 billion in 2015 from $20.4 billion in 2014. Nation-building in Afghanistan has been a boondoggle for US taxpayers. Yet in his fiscal year 2017 budget, President Obama calls for an additional $4.8 billion for major reconstruction funds there. Why throw good money after bad? Trump’s right: let’s stop nation-building overseas and start rebuilding the US.

                                                                                   

 

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FOR OBAMA, AN UNEXPECTED LEGACY OF                                                     

TWO FULL TERMS AT WAR                                                                        

Mark Landler                                                                                            

New York Times, May 14, 2016

 

President Obama came into office seven years ago pledging to end the wars of his predecessor, George W. Bush. On May 6, with eight months left before he vacates the White House, Mr. Obama passed a somber, little-noticed milestone: He has now been at war longer than Mr. Bush, or any other American president.

 

If the United States remains in combat in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria until the end of Mr. Obama’s term — a near-certainty given the president’s recent announcement that he will send 250 additional Special Operations forces to Syria — he will leave behind an improbable legacy as the only president in American history to serve two complete terms with the nation at war. Mr. Obama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 and spent his years in the White House trying to fulfill the promises he made as an antiwar candidate, would have a longer tour of duty as a wartime president than Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon or his hero Abraham Lincoln.

 

Granted, Mr. Obama is leaving far fewer soldiers in harm’s way — at least 4,087 in Iraq and 9,800 in Afghanistan — than the 200,000 troops he inherited from Mr. Bush in the two countries. But Mr. Obama has also approved strikes against terrorist groups in Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, for a total of seven countries where his administration has taken military action. “No president wants to be a war president,” said Eliot A. Cohen, a military historian at Johns Hopkins University who backed the war in Iraq and whose son served there twice. “Obama thinks of war as an instrument he has to use very reluctantly. But we’re waging these long, rather strange wars. We’re killing lots of people. We’re taking casualties.”

 

Mr. Obama has wrestled with this immutable reality from his first year in the White House, when he went for a walk among the tombstones at Arlington National Cemetery before giving the order to send 30,000 additional troops into Afghanistan. His closest advisers say he has relied so heavily on limited covert operations and drone strikes because he is mindful of the dangers of escalation and has long been skeptical that American military interventions work.

 

Publicly, Mr. Obama acknowledged early on the contradiction between his campaign message and the realities of governing. When he accepted the Nobel in December 2009, he declared that humanity needed to reconcile “two seemingly irreconcilable truths — that war is sometimes necessary, and war at some level is an expression of human folly.” The president has tried to reconcile these truths by approaching his wars in narrow terms, as a chronic but manageable security challenge rather than as an all-consuming national campaign, in the tradition of World War II or, to a lesser degree, Vietnam. The longevity of his war record, military historians say, also reflects the changing definition of war.

 

“It’s the difference between being a war president and a president at war,” said Derek Chollet, who served in the State Department and the White House during Mr. Obama’s first term and as the assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs from 2012 to 2015. “Being a war president means that all elements of American power and foreign policy are subservient to fighting the war,” Mr. Chollet said. “What Obama has tried to do, which is why he’s careful about ratcheting up the number of forces, is not to have it overwhelm other priorities.”

 

But Mr. Obama has found those conflicts maddeningly hard to end. On Oct. 21, 2011, he announced that the last combat soldier would leave Iraq by the end of that year, drawing that eight-year war to a close. “Our troops will definitely be home for the holidays,” Mr. Obama said at the White House. Less than three years later, he told a national television audience that he would send 475 military advisers back to Iraq to help in the battle against the Islamic State, the brutal terrorist group that swept into the security vacuum left by the absent Americans. By last month, more than 5,000 American troops were in Iraq. A furious firefight this month between Islamic State fighters and Navy SEALs in northern Iraq, in which Special Warfare Operator First Class Charles Keating IV became the third American to die since the campaign against the Islamic State began, harked back to the bloodiest days of the Iraq war. It also made the administration’s argument that the Americans were only advising and assisting Iraqi forces seem ever less plausible.

 

Afghanistan followed a similar cycle of hope and disappointment. In May 2014, Mr. Obama announced that the United States would withdraw the last combat soldier from the country by the end of 2016. “Americans have learned that it’s harder to end wars than it is to begin them,” the president said in the Rose Garden. “Yet this is how wars end in the 21st century.” Seventeen months later, Mr. Obama halted the withdrawal, telling Americans that he planned to leave more than 5,000 troops in Afghanistan until early 2017, the end of his presidency. By then, the Taliban controlled more territory in the country than at any time since 2001.

 

Taliban fighters even briefly conquered the northern city of Kunduz. In the bitter battle for control, an American warplane mistakenly fired its missiles into a Doctors Without Borders hospital, killing 42 people and prompting accusations that the United States had committed a war crime. Critics of Mr. Obama have long said his clinical approach to wars weakened the ability of the nation to fight them. “He hasn’t tried to mobilize the country,” Dr. Cohen said. “He hasn’t even tried to explain to the country what the stakes are, why these wars have gone the way they have.” Mr. Bush was also criticized for failing to ask the American people to make any sacrifices during the Iraq war. But, Dr. Cohen said, “for all his faults, with Bush, there was this visceral desire to win.”

 

Vincent DeGeorge, a researcher at Carnegie Mellon University who collected the data on presidents at war, said Mr. Obama’s tone mattered less than the decisions he made. “Does the rhetoric a president uses at home matter to the soldiers who come back wounded or get caught in the crossfire?” he asked in an interview. Mr. DeGeorge acknowledged the complications in measuring Mr. Obama’s wars. The American-led phase of the Afghanistan war, for example, ended formally in December 2014, though thousands of troops remain there. For his analysis, he considered a state of war to exist when less than a month passed between either American casualties or an American airstrike.

 

More so than Mr. Bush or President Bill Clinton, Mr. Obama has fought a multifront war against militants. Officials at the Pentagon referred to the situation as “the new normal.” But for those who worked in the Obama administration, it made for an unrelenting experience. “As the Middle East coordinator, I certainly felt like it was a wartime pace,” said Philip H. Gordon, who worked in the White House from 2013 to 2015. Still, Mr. Gordon and other former officials drew a distinction between the wars of the 21st century and those of the 20th century. For one, Congress has not specifically authorized any of Mr. Obama’s military campaigns, let alone issued a declaration of war — something that it has not done since World War II. “War doesn’t exist anymore, in our official vocabulary,” Mr. Gordon said.

 

It is not clear that Mr. Obama’s successor will take the same approach. The front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton, has been more receptive to conventional military engagements than Mr. Obama. The presumptive Republican nominee, Donald J. Trump, has pledged to bomb the Islamic State into oblivion, though he has sent contradictory messages about his willingness to dispatch American ground troops into foreign conflicts.

 

Military historians said presidents would probably continue to shrink or stretch the definition of war to suit their political purposes. “Neither Clinton nor Obama identified themselves as war presidents, but Bush did,” said Richard H. Kohn, professor emeritus of history and peace, war and defense at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “War goes back in human experience thousands of years,” he said. “We know that it has an enormous variation of definitions.”

 

Contents           

On Topic Links

 

Taliban Cut Off Afghan Highway Linking Kabul to Northern Gateways: Rod Nordland, New York Times, May 14, 2016—Taliban insurgents have cut the main highway that links the capital with northern Afghanistan and neighboring countries for the past three days, according to Afghan officials in the area.

Taliban Suicide Attack in Kabul Renews Debate on Afghanistan Troop Cuts: Carlo Munoz, Washington Times, Apr. 19, 2016—A devastating Taliban suicide attack that killed at least 28 people and wounded more than 300 others Tuesday in the heart of Kabul has sent concerns soaring that Afghanistan’s struggling security forces will be overmatched in the summer fighting season, which many believe will be among the bloodiest on record.

John Kerry: Afghanistan One of 'Proudest Achievements of the Obama Administration': Jeryl Bier, Weekly Standard, May 16, 2016—Secretary of State John Kerry recently spoke at the Oxford Union and addressed a range of issues from climate change to extremism to political corruption. During the question and answer after Kerry's remarks, one audience member asked the secretary of state to name the "proudest achievements of the Obama administration" now that President Obama's eight years in office are coming to an end.

Spring on the Afghan Front Lines: Danielle Moylan, New York Times, May 6, 2016 — Spring becomes Babaji, a rural suburb of Lashkar Gah, the capital of the southern province of Helmand. Light-green wheat fields grow waist-high, and narrow irrigation canals run almost clear. “It’s beautiful,” I told Mohammad Sahi, 21, an officer in the Afghan national police, as we stood on a sagging thatched roof in the afternoon sun.

 

                    

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

SYRIAN CIVIL WAR & IRAQ SECTARIAN VIOLENCE REFLECT SYKES-PICOT FAILURE ON 100TH BIRTHDAY

Can the United States Avert Disaster in Iraq?: Evan Moore, National Review, May 14, 2016— The brutal bombings that rocked Baghdad this week are a stark reminder that ISIS remains a persistent threat to Iraqi security.

The White House’s Iraq Delusion: Washington Post, May 3, 2016 — Secretary of State John Kerry and other Western policy-makers – joined by the “elite” Western media – contend that 68 year-old Israel is increasingly isolated…

Can a Demagogue Help Save Iraq's Democracy?: Eli Lake, Bloomberg, May 4, 2016— Here is an irony to savor. One of Iraq's most notorious demagogues might now be saving the democratic experiment he nearly extinguished more than a decade ago.

Sykes-Picot at 100: Lee Smith, Weekly Standard, May 16, 2016 — This week marks the 100th anniversary of the Sykes-Picot Agreement, the document that shaped the modern Middle East.

 

On Topic Links

 

Obama Hides His Iraq War: William McGurn, Wall Street Journal, Apr. 11, 2016

Research on the Islamic State, Syria, and Iraq: Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, Middle East Forum, Mar. 1, 2016

The Failures of the International Community in the Middle East since the Sykes-Picot Agreement, 1916-2016: Amb. Freddy Eytan, JCPA, 2016

‘A Shocking Document’ Turns 100: Daniel Pipes, Washington Times, May 8, 2016

 

 

CAN THE UNITED STATES AVERT DISASTER IN IRAQ?                                                            

Evan Moore                                                                                                

National Review, May 14, 2016

 

The brutal bombings that rocked Baghdad this week are a stark reminder that ISIS remains a persistent threat to Iraqi security. Though the extremist group has lost as much as 40 percent of its territory in the country over the past year, it retains control over the major urban areas that it seized in 2014. It is uncertain at best that Mosul — Iraq’s second-largest city — will be liberated by the end of this year, despite President Obama’s desire to defeat ISIS before he leaves office. And as the Iraqi political situation continues to deteriorate, there is a significant risk that the security situation will also unravel. The Obama administration must recognize that the current chaos in Iraq could completely undermine its campaign against ISIS, and take forceful action immediately in order to avert disaster.

 

To be sure, the U.S.-led coalition is having an impact on ISIS. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said in March that, “we are systemically eliminating [ISIS]’s cabinet.” Last week’s killing of the top ISIS military official in Anbar province is just the latest proof that that effort proceeds apace. And America’s broader campaign against ISIS has reportedly cost the group as much as $500 million in cash stockpiles, while halving its annual oil revenue to $250 million. Overall, independent reports estimate that ISIS’s monthly income has declined by as much as a third as oil production drops and more territory and people are liberated.

 

But in response to these gains, ISIS has escalated its use of large-scale terrorist attacks. The group’s campaign of bombings in Baghdad has two objectives: First, it is designed to undermine the Iraqi government’s already tenuous grasp on power by further angering the burgeoning protest movement and reigniting the full-blown sectarian conflict that occurred during the U.S. occupation. Second, it aims to force Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) to deploy more troops to secure the capital, diverting manpower that could otherwise be used in offensive operations against ISIS, and thereby stalling the effort to liberate Mosul.

 

Unfortunately, the Mosul campaign wasn’t going well even before ISIS ramped up its attacks. As the Associated Press reports, the planned assault against the city is still several months in the future — at a minimum — because the ISF is simply not ready. So far, only 18,500 Iraqi troops have been trained by the United States. Experts not only believe the offensive may require up to twice that number of troops, but also question whether the seven-week U.S. training course will sufficiently prepare ISF troops for a major operation. America’s own readiness is also questionable. Although Secretary Carter announced last month that the United States would provide additional advisors, attack helicopters, and artillery to support the ISF, that backup reportedly has yet to arrive at the front, and America’s troop presence in Iraq has actually declined slightly. Though coalition forces are as close to the city as they have been since it fell to ISIS in 2014, they are still some 40 miles away. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has admitted to the Washington Post’s David Ignatius that liberating Mosul “will take a long time and be very messy,” and that he doesn’t “see that happening in this administration.”

 

It is clear that the situation in Iraq is tenuous, at best, and the United States must be willing to devote considerably more resources in order to keep the country from falling apart. Former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey recommends that the Obama administration consider deploying even more forces to support the Iraqi advance than the Pentagon has announced. This would include more trainers and advisers to increase the size and capability of the ISF, as well as more attack helicopters and artillery in order to more frequently strike ISIS positions. But, Jeffrey also says, “a limited commitment of U.S. ground troops — two brigades of 5,000 troops each, reinforced by other NATO forces, along with local allies — could make even more rapid progress.”

 

The United States must split ISIS from its Sunni support base, which in the short term means creating an indigenous force of Iraqi Sunnis capable of fighting ISIS. The Center for a New American Security recommends building “essentially a Sunni equivalent to the Kurdish Peshmerga.” This should be achieved by providing weapons, training, and advisors to the Sunni tribes, and by “building out a multi-ethnic, multi-sectarian Sunni National Guard force that can hold territory taken from [ISIS].” Militarily empowering the Sunni community is important because “if Iraq’s counter-[ISIS] forces consist largely of Shia militias, the end result is likely to be increased sectarian violence. This will only further marginalize Iraq’s Sunni communities and divorce them from the Iraqi central government.”

 

Militarily empowering Iraqi Sunnis can also pave the way for politically empowering Iraqi Sunnis, another vital requirement to defeating ISIS. Robert Ford, a former deputy U.S. ambassador to Iraq, told the House Armed Services Committee earlier this year that “Iraqi Sunni Arabs . . . no longer hope to dominate the central government. Instead, most said they want to govern themselves in a decentralized or even federal Iraq, enjoying basically the same local governance that the Iraqi Kurds enjoy.” This type of federal power-sharing agreement, Ford notes, “is in line with the political vision of Iraq that the Iraqi Shia and Kurdish leaders used to emphasize ten years ago, and it is consistent with the Iraqi constitution.” But, even if Mosul were to be liberated and ISIS were to be severely set back, Ford warns the terror group would likely return to being an underground insurgency feeding off of Sunni resentments. Denying ISIS its base of support will require political reforms, such as establishing effective local government that can provide “basic services, new jobs, and . . . fair treatment from local police and judges.” …

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]    

 

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THE WHITE HOUSE’S IRAQ DELUSION

Washington Post, May 3, 2016

 

Two persistent failings of U.S. foreign policy have been an overdependence on individual leaders, who frequently fail to deliver on American expectations, and a reluctance to accept that an established status quo can’t hold. The Obama administration has committed both those errors in Iraq — and it has done so more than once.

 

In its zeal to withdraw all U.S. troops in time for President Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012, the administration threw its weight behind then-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, with disastrous consequences. Mr. Maliki’s Shiite sectarianism fractured the fragile political system and opened the way for the Islamic State. In 2014, having pushed for Mr. Maliki’s removal, the administration bet on Haider al-Abadi; now, in its impatience to reduce the Islamic State before Mr. Obama leaves office, it clings to a prime minister who has proved unable to govern the country or reconcile its warring factions.

 

Mr. Abadi’s impotence was revealed most dramatically over the weekend, when Shiite supporters of anti-American firebrand Moqtada al-Sadr stormed into Baghdad’s walled-off Green Zone and invaded the parliament. Nominally, the protesters were supporting one of Mr. Abadi’s aims, to create a new, technocratic cabinet to replace a corrupt system of dividing ministries according to party and sectarian lines. But Mr. Abadi denounced the invasion, which showed him as unable to control either the political insurgents or the established parties that have repeatedly rejected his reform proposals. The blowup came at a particularly awkward time for the Obama administration, which had just doubled down on its support for Mr. Abadi during a visit to Baghdad by Vice President Biden. As The Post’s Greg Jaffe reported, an administration briefer told reporters that Mr. Biden’s visit was “a symbol of how much faith we have in Prime Minister Abadi” and expressed optimism that his government was getting stronger.

 

Whether Mr. Abadi survives the present crisis will likely depend on whether Shiite parties, with help from Iran, can patch up their differences. But already he has proved incapable of addressing Iraq’s fundamental political problem, which is the schism among the Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish communities. That brings us to the Obama administration’s second error: an unwillingness to accept that Iraq cannot survive under its present system of governance, which centralizes power in Baghdad. Since the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq’s Sunni-majority areas, the administration has stubbornly stuck to the slogan of a “unified Iraq,” even though that has effectively meant depriving Kurdistan’s autonomous government and armed forces of the resources they need to fight the war, and critically delayed the development of a Sunni leadership that could effectively govern areas liberated from the terrorists.

 

The latest crisis should prompt a reconsideration. Kurdish leaders are now openly saying that Iraq’s post-2003 political structure has collapsed; the United States should be forging closer ties to their regional government. It should also be working to encourage a similar federal state in Sunni areas of Iraq. If Iraq survives as a nation-state, it will be because power, and oil revenues, are radically decentralized from Baghdad. Continuing to center U.S. support on a single Iraqi leader, whether it is Mr. Abadi or someone else, is a recipe for more failure.            

 

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CAN A DEMAGOGUE HELP SAVE IRAQ'S DEMOCRACY?

Eli Lake

 Bloomberg, May 4, 2016

 

Here is an irony to savor. One of Iraq's most notorious demagogues might now be saving the democratic experiment he nearly extinguished more than a decade ago. You may remember his name from the Bush era: Moqtada al-Sadr. He is an Islamic fundamentalist who has used violence for political gain. In 2004, an Iraqi judge issued a warrant for his arrest, accusing him of orchestrating the stabbing murder of rival cleric, Abdul Majid al-Khoei. His Mahdi army tried and failed to take control of the city of Najaf that same year. And while he opposes the strict Iranian conception of Islamic law, his followers have attacked shopkeepers who sell alcohol.

 

Yet today, Sadr's followers are providing the political muscle that Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi will need to enact the reforms necessary to save Iraq from fiscal insolvency. Over the last weekend, Sadr's followers breached the gates of the heavily fortified "green zone" in the center of Baghdad and briefly took over the parliament to support a slate of technocratic ministers Abadi is proposing for his government. Unless Iraq's political bosses feel some popular pressure, Abadi's relatively modest reforms have no chance.

 

These reforms are aimed at preventing a dire crisis that's been years in the making. Luay al-Khateeb, a fellow at Columbia University and a former unofficial adviser to the Iraqi parliament on economic and energy issues, told me the decline in oil prices should force Iraq to cut government subsidies on energy as well as make-work jobs created when the price of oil was high. (Abadi has not gone this far) Khateeb said there were 2.5 million federal government jobs in 2003 when Saddam Hussein's government fell. Today, he estimates, there are 7 million, most of them unnecessary. And then there is the massive corruption endemic to Iraq's political system. Over the years, ministers and members of parliament were allotted huge budgets for their personal staffs and other benefits. Even after members retire from public service, in many cases the state continues to pay for their bodyguards and secretaries. This says nothing of the self-dealing that powerful Iraqi politicians and leaders conducted to win government business for friends and associates.

 

Recently Sadr has positioned himself as an outsider, even though he and his organization benefitted from the corruption in Iraq's political system that he now opposes. Sadr himself fled to Iran in 2007, but was apparently disappointed by the tepid welcome he received from the Islamic Republic's leadership, and returned to Baghdad four years later. So it's no accident that some of his supporters on Saturday were shouting slogans accusing Iraq's political class of being Iranian puppets. Nibras Kazimi, an Iraqi analyst and commentator, told me that Sadr blamed the leader of Iran's Quds Force, Qassem Suleimani, for fracturing his Mahdi Army and peeling off followers to form a rival militia known as Asaib Ahl al-Haq. When the Iranians and most Shiite politicians accepted the rule of then-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Sadr was one of the only Shiite leaders to openly criticize him for his violent crack down on non-violent protests by Sunni Arabs.

 

Even some of Sadr's most potent critics acknowledge that, for the moment, he has lined up on the side of reform. Kanan Makiya, a historian whose latest novel, "The Rope," explores the complicity of Shiite leaders in covering up the murder of al-Khoei, told me that Sadr today "is a populist demagogue who happens to be riding the right wave at the right time."

 

Nonetheless, Makiya is concerned: "I worry that Abadi may become beholden to this very dangerous man." U.S. officials I spoke to this week told me that they, too, worried about Sadr's resurgent influence. Sadr eventually told his supporters to leave the green zone on Saturday, and Iraqi forces did not fire on the mob. But this was not an orderly protest. The protestors manhandled Iraqi legislators, trashed the parliament building and pulled down blast walls on the green zone's exterior. And yet, it was in the service of saving Iraq's beleaguered government.

 

It all provides a puzzle for the U.S. Washington is working behind the scenes to secure a multi-billion dollar International Monetary Fund loan and other international financing to keep Abadi's government afloat for the coming months and years, in the hopes that he can begin to implement more substantive reforms. Without more stable governance, there is little chance of initiating a campaign to free Mosul, the nation's second-largest city, from the Islamic State. There are also the very real concerns Kurds now face as their leaders threaten to hold a referendum in the fall to vote on independence. Iraq's parliament is expected to meet again on May 10 to try to form the new government. The world will be watching closely — nobody more so than Moqtada al-Sadr.               

 

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                                                                                    SYKES-PICOT AT 100                                                                                                                     

Lee Smith                                                                                                      

Weekly Standard, May 16, 2016

 

This week marks the 100th anniversary of the Sykes-Picot Agreement, the document that shaped the modern Middle East. Known officially as the Asia Minor Agreement, it was authored by the British diplomat Mark Sykes and his French counterpart François Georges-Picot. They were charged with the task of mapping out new zones of influence in parts of the Ottoman Empire, should the Triple Entente, which at the time included czarist Russia, defeat the Ottomans in World War I.

 

The regions under negotiation were the Syrian coast and what became Lebanon, which would go to France; central and southern Mesopotamia, which would fall under British supervision; and Palestine, which would be under international administration. The huge block of mostly desert in between would have local Arab chiefs under French supervision in the north and British in the south. The agreement was signed May 16, 1916. Now, a century later, according to a wildly diverse body of opinion, from the leader of the Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to Israeli defense minister Moshe Ya'alon, Sykes-Picot has finally fallen apart. Over the last hundred years, the very phrase Sykes-Picot has become shorthand for a number of ideas about Middle East history. To wit: Sykes-Picot imposed artificial borders on the region; it legitimized colonial interference in the Middle East; it represented the betrayal of the Arabs by the Western powers. As it turns out, all of these beliefs are premised on conceptions that are grounded not in historical reality, but political ideology.

 

All borders are artificial. Even before the advent of the state system, borders around the world were either agreed upon by two or more parties or imposed through war or threat of war. Borders are human conventions, even if they are set off by natural landmarks, like bodies of water or mountains. In any case, the Sykes-Picot Agreement did not establish national borders. The borders within the area that Sykes-Picot dealt with were later agreed upon by Paris and London. Sykes-Picot merely allocated zones of influence, a political demarcation consistent with the history of the region, dominated by empires for thousands of years. "One empire, the Ottoman, lost," says Tony Badran, research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, "and two other empires, the French and the British, divided parts of its holdings between themselves. That division was in keeping with how empires have dealt with this area throughout the ages. The imperial tradition in this zone dates back millennia."

 

Badran traces it back to the historical ancient Near East, when the region's great imperial powers included Egypt, Persia, and what's now Turkey, from the Hittite Empire, to the Byzantines, and lastly the Ottomans. What we refer to as the Levant, says Badran, has simply been a buffer zone between imperial powers. "It's a zone of conflict, a historical theater of war. The people who live here are always assets of bigger powers. If you ally with Egypt and the Assyrians win, it's a losing bet. The kingdom of Judah later sought to align with Egypt against the Babylonians. Egypt and Judah lost, resulting in the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile to Babylon."

 

Often faulted for being oblivious to the reality of the Middle East, as Badran argues, the Sykes-Picot Agreement actually represented a mature understanding of the region's history. The "colonial interference" that Sykes-Picot stands for was nothing but the latest instance of empires carving out zones of influence, partly to balance each other's power. Even after Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan won independence—the Arabs rejected the 1947 U.N. plan to partition Palestine into independent Arab and Jewish states—many Arab political figures and intellectuals claimed that they'd been betrayed by the West. According to this view, the colonial powers had promised them a greater Arab homeland, and instead divided them into separate states. This is the Arab nationalist reading of recent Middle East history.

 

The central tenet of Arab nationalism is that the people of the Middle East who speak various dialects of the Arabic language constitute one indivisible nation with a shared past and a common destiny. As we now see with the sectarian and ethnic onslaught underway in Iraq and Syria, this notion is fanciful. If there really is such a thing as the Arab nation—rather than a collection of competing sects, ethnicities, and tribes—it is a nation at war with itself. Indeed, the rise of Arab nationalist ideology coincides with the rapid decline of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. It was the Ottomans who, for all their very bloody methods, managed to maintain a certain amount of stability throughout the region, balancing warring factions. With the Ottomans on their way out, regional intellectuals and ideologues, including some among the Middle East's minority populations, saw Arab nationalism as a safety mechanism of sorts, intended to convince the region's various populations that more united them—language, culture, history, future—than set them apart.

 

The region's political leaders used Arab nationalism for a very different purpose—to undermine their regional rivals. For instance, Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser regularly attacked Jordan and Saudi Arabia for betraying the Arab cause—i.e., the war to eliminate the Zionists and liberate Palestine. It is hardly a coincidence that Nasser's targets were American allies, and his Egypt, like the other prominent Arab nationalist regimes, Syria and Iraq, was a Soviet client. Again, the middle of the Arabic-speaking Middle East was a buffer zone, where the world's two great powers competed for zones of influence. Backing Arab nationalist causes and hanging the colonialist/imperialist label on Washington was part of Moscow's Cold War propaganda campaign. And indeed it was the United States that inherited the legacy of Sykes-Picot when Eisenhower ushered France and the United Kingdom out of the region with the 1956 Suez Crisis. Now, according to the Arab nationalist reading, the United States was the great colonial power.

 

Actually, that wasn't far from the truth, even if a country with its origins in anticolonialism rejected the description. The reality is that the Europeans were irrelevant. With the fall of the Soviet Union and the Cold War over, the Middle East enjoyed more than two decades of relative stability. It was the United States that kept the peace, a peace at least as stable as and an order much more liberal than that of the Ottomans. The peace that the region enjoyed had nothing to do with early-20th-century European diplomats, but was thanks to postwar American power. Sykes-Picot is the euphemism that Americans uncomfortable with the idea of empire have used to describe the American order of the Middle East.

 

For decades, the Arab-Israeli conflict was understood to be the region's central crisis—solve that, common wisdom held, and everything else will fall into place. As we now understand, compared with the Syrian war and the casualty count over 5 years which dwarfs that of the Arab-Israeli conflict over close to 70, the Arab-Israeli conflict is little more than a skirmish between two tribes. That the international community could afford to devote so much concern and resources to it over the course of decades is a testament to the nature of American power. The issue isn't that the Islamic State crashed the borders of Syria and Iraq in 2014 and therefore the colonial legacy of Sykes-Picot. Rather, it's that the Obama White House wants out. It's the American order of the region that's been dismantled—not by ISIS, but by the president of the United States. In effect, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that seeks to realign American interests in the region with Iran, while plotting a U.S. exit from the region, is a revision of Sykes-Picot.

 

We can't fix the Middle East, Obama deputy Ben Rhodes told the New York Times Magazine. It's about ancient sectarian and ethnic rivalries and hatreds. But the point was never to solve the problems of the region, a conflict zone for thousands of years. It was merely to ensure stability and protect American interests. The Ottomans were flushed out of the region when they wound up on the losing side of the Great War. The Obama White House opted out because it was tired. The region will pay the price for the administration's self-pity, as will the rest of the world, including America.

 

Contents           

 

On Topic Links

 

Obama Hides His Iraq War: William McGurn, Wall Street Journal, Apr. 11, 2016—In Barack Obama’s world, the answer is apparently not—not even when they are on the ground exchanging fire with the enemy. This is the fiction supported by Hillary Clinton and largely unchallenged by any of the three Republican candidates for president.

Research on the Islamic State, Syria, and Iraq: Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, Middle East Forum, Mar. 1, 2016

The Failures of the International Community in the Middle East since the Sykes-Picot Agreement, 1916-2016: Amb. Freddy Eytan, JCPA, 2016—This study is a recap of historical facts and aims to shed new light on the many failures of the Sykes-Picot agreement and implementation during the past century. Along with the comments and observations, it is a reminder to avoid naiveté and mistakes of the past. Jerusalem Center experts also explain the reasons for the failure of Western countries in achieving sustainable peace.

‘A Shocking Document’ Turns 100: Daniel Pipes, Washington Times, May 8, 2016—The Sykes-Picot accord that has shaped and distorted the modern Middle East was signed 100 years ago, on May 16, 1916. In the deal, Mark Sykes for the British and Francois Georges-Picot for the French, with the Russians participating too, allocated much of the region, pending the minor detail of their defeating the Central Powers in World War I.

 

                    

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

THE WEEK THAT WAS: RHODES REVEALS SHOCKING WHITE HOUSE DECEPTION, AND, DESPITE CHALLENGES, ISRAEL HAS MUCH TO CELEBRATE

Ben Rhodes and the Fiction Behind the Iran Nuclear Deal: A.J. Caschetta, Middle East Forum, May 10, 2016— That the Obama administration's Iran deal is a work of fiction has been known all along, but now Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes is taking credit as its author.

At 68 – Is Israel Isolated?: Yoram Ettinger, Jewish Press, May 12, 2016 — Secretary of State John Kerry and other Western policy-makers – joined by the “elite” Western media – contend that 68 year-old Israel is increasingly isolated…

Sorry to Tell You, But….: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Breaking Israel News, Apr. 26, 2016— My dear friends, Jews in Israel and the Diaspora.

The Improbable Happiness of Israelis: Avinoam Bar-Yosef, Wall Street Journal, May 9, 2016 — The World Happiness Report 2016 Update ranks Israel (Jews and Arabs) 11th of 158 countries evaluated for the United Nations.

 

On Topic Links

 

The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru: David Samuels, New York Times, May 5, 2016

Mustafa Badreddine, Hezbollah Military Commander, Is Killed in Syria: Anne Barnard & Sewell Chan, New York Times, May 13, 2016

68 Reasons to Respect, If Not Love, Israel On Its 68th Birthday: Robert Sarner, Forward, May 9, 2016

‘A Shocking Document’ Turns 100: Daniel Pipes, Washington Times, May 8, 2016

 

 

BEN RHODES AND THE FICTION BEHIND THE IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL                                                                        

A.J. Caschetta

Middle East Forum, May 10, 2016

 

That the Obama administration's Iran deal is a work of fiction has been known all along, but now Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes is taking credit as its author. In a long interview with New York Times reporter David Samuels on Sunday, the world learned that Rhodes is "the master shaper and retailer of Obama's foreign policy narratives" who "strategized and ran the successful Iran-deal messaging campaign." Samuels lauds Rhodes as "a storyteller who uses a writer's tools to advance an agenda packaged as politics."

 

Welcome to the post-modern techno-presidency where everything is a text, easily manipulated by skilled writers and disseminated in 140 or fewer characters. Don't like the facts? Change the narrative. What really counts is "the optics."

 

In the midst of his fawning profile, Samuels exposes a number of lies behind the Iran narrative, or rather quotes Rhodes himself doing so. For instance, the first outreach to Iran came in 2012, not in 2013. I'd bet it came even earlier. Rhodes even acknowledges that there is nothing "moderate" about Iranian leaders Rouhani, Zarif, or Khamenei. But these dates and facts conflicted with the narrative, so they were finessed, rewritten, and sold to the public with different plot lines and different themes. Outside Washington, DC, this behavior is sometimes called lying.

 

The Rhodes narrative, at its core, is a simple tale in which a hero, armed with special skills and weapons, goes on a quest that requires a fight against the forces of evil. It incorporates elements of the ancient epic, the medieval romance, and the eighteenth-century novel, with elements of drama splashed in here and there.

 

The hero, of course, is Rhodes's real-life hero, Barack Obama (with whom he "mind melds," as he apparently tells anyone who will listen). The hero's special weapon is diplomacy — in the case of Iran, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a.k.a., "Iran Deal." But Rhodes himself is also the hero of his tale. As he tells Samuels in one particularly dewy-eyed moment: "I don't know anymore where I begin and Obama ends."

 

In his tale, Iran is recast into a moderate regime through the magic of fiction, while the new villains are all who oppose the JCPOA, recast into warmongers: Benjamin Netanyahu, Ted Cruz, the majority of Americans. As Samuels puts it: "Framing the deal as a choice between peace and war was Rhodes's go-to move — and proved to be a winning argument."

 

But it was not really a winning argument. Neither the American public nor Congress was persuaded, which is why Obama did not submit it as a treaty for Senate ratification. At best, Ben Rhodes is the author of a Pyrrhic victory ensuring that the 45th or 46th president will face the same choice Obama faced, but against an Iran armed with nuclear bombs. At worst, Rhodes is the author of a tragedy he does not understand.

 

Rhodes's narrative is not even particularly good fiction. Mistaken identities, fudged timelines, villains in disguise, and a two-dimensional hero are clichés. But the quality of fiction does not matter as long as consumers line up to buy it. And this is where Rhodes truly excels, as a relatively shallow thinker, adroit mostly at influencing even shallower thinkers and hoodwinking people too busy to bother learning.

 

Rhodes is proud of the way he manipulates a gullible and hungry media comprised mostly of repeaters pretending to be reporters. From his White House "war room," he and his assistant, Ned Price, reach out to their media "compadres" who are waiting by their iPhones, ready to transform the daily storytelling sessions into facts for the uninformed. Boasting that he "created an echo chamber," and unable to conceal his contempt for the minions who amplify his fiction, Rhodes calls them "27 year olds who literally know nothing." Enter the storyteller who provides them with lines. Samuels shows us he is in on the joke too, by pointing out that "Rhodes has become adept at ventriloquizing many people at once."

 

In his daily conversation, Samuels tells us, Rhodes lumps together nearly everyone who came before Obama (Kissinger, Clinton, Bush, Gates, Panetta) as "the Blob" — the establishment that damaged the world so badly that only a magical hero can repair it. Rhodes tells Samuels that the "complete lack of governance in huge swaths of the Middle East, that is the project of the American establishment." This is what happens to foreign policy when it is entrusted to the unqualified and undereducated.

 

In eight months, Ben Rhodes can get back to his former life — as he puts it, "drinking and smoking pot and hanging out in Central Park." And presumably writing more fiction — this time perhaps the honest kind that does not pretend to be non-fiction. The entire world, except perhaps the world of fiction, will be better for it.

 

                                                                       

Contents

AT 68 – IS ISRAEL ISOLATED?

Yoram Ettinger                                                                       

Jewish Press, May 12, 2016

 

Secretary of State John Kerry and other Western policy-makers – joined by the “elite” Western media – contend that 68 year-old Israel is increasingly isolated due to its defiance of global pressure to evacuate the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, which tower over Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport and 80% of Israel’s population, transportation, technological and business infrastructure.

 

Since 1948, global pressure on Israel to commit itself to dramatic concessions has been a fixture of Israel’s foreign policy and public diplomacy, accompanied by warnings that Israel was dooming itself to painful isolation. An examination of Israel’s global position – economically, militarily and diplomatically – documents that irrespective of Israel’s uphill diplomatic challenges, these warnings crashed on the rocks of reality, and resoundingly refuted by an unprecedented integration of Israel with the global street.

 

Thus, side-by-side with the rough diplomatic talk which has always pounded Israel, there has been an increasingly mutually-beneficial, geo-strategic walk. This is highlighted by Israel’s unprecedented civilian and military integration with the international community, in response to growing international demand for Israel’s military, economic, technological, scientific, medical, pharmaceutical and agricultural cutting-edge innovations.

 

Israel’s increasingly global integration is reflected by a series of developments in the last few weeks, which are consistent with Israel’s well-documented 68-year-old track record on the global scene. For example, notwithstanding Europe’s support of the Palestinian Authority and harsh criticism of Israel, NATO does not subscribe to the “isolate Israel” theory, follows its own order of geo-strategic priorities, and therefore refuses to cut off its nose to spite its face. Hence, on May 3, 2016, NATO significantly upgraded its ties with Israel, inviting Jerusalem to establish a permanent mission at their Brussels headquarters. This upgrade will expand the surging, mutually-beneficial Israel-NATO cooperation in the areas of counter-terrorism, intelligence, battle tactics, non-conventional warfare, science, cyber and space technologies and defense industries, where Israel possesses a unique competitive edge.

 

While Turkey’s President, Erdogan, has blasted Israel brutally on the diplomatic field, Turkey did not block the recent agreement between NATO and Israel. Moreover, the Israel-Turkey balance of trade has catapulted from $2.5 BN in 2009 to over $5 BN in 2015. Turkey has not ignored the unique niches of Israel’s exports in the area of defense, medicine, pharmaceuticals and agriculture.

 

India, the seventh largest – and one of the fastest rising – economies in the world, has become one of Israel’s closest partners – second only to the USA – in the areas of defense, counter-terrorism, intelligence, manufacturing, agriculture, irrigation, information technologies, space, etc.. Oblivious of the “isolate Israel” school of thought, India has become the largest customer for Israel’s defense systems, with Israel trailing only the US and Russia in terms of military sales to India. On March 29, 2016, Israel’s Rafael Advance Defense Systems concluded a long-term agreement with India’s $15 BN Reliance Defense Systems, which is expected to produce $10 BN in sales. A year and a half ago, Rafael won a $500 MN contract for the supply of missiles to India’s ground forces.

 

Aiming to leverage the momentum-gaining “integrate Israel” trend, China’s $10 BN Kuang-Chi technology conglomerate is launching an Israel-based international innovation Chinese fund to invest in early, to mid-stage Israeli and global companies, reflecting the vigorous Chinese interest in mature and start-up Israeli companies. Chinese investments in Israeli companies expanded from $70 MN in 2010 to $2.7 BN in 2015, while the China-Israel trade balance surged from $30 MN in 1992 to $11 BN in 2015. The trade balance could have been dramatically larger, but for Israel’s cautious attitude, in light of China’s close ties with Israel’s enemies. China has followed in the footsteps of the Hong-Kong-based tycoon, Li Ka-Shing, whose venture capital fund, Horizons Ventures, invested in 30 Israeli companies, accounting for almost half of its portfolio…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]                                  

 

 

Contents

SORRY TO TELL YOU, BUT….

Dr. Mordechai Kedar

 Breaking Israel News, Apr. 26, 2016

 

My dear friends, Jews in Israel and the Diaspora. I am sorry to tell you that the terror attacks we from which we suffer today and from which we suffered yesterday, a week ago, a month, a year and a decade and century ago, are all part of the same war, the same struggle, the same Jihad waged against us by our neighbors for over a century. Sometimes it is a full scale war with tanks, noise, flames, planes and ships and sometimes it is a war on a slow burner known as “terror” with explosions, stabbings and shots. Each of these is Jihad in Arabic, each is aimed at Jews just for being Jewish.

 

I regret to remind you of the fact that this war began way before the establishment of the Jewish state declared in 1948. The riots and massacres of 1920, 1921, 1929, 1936-39 et al, were not due to a Jewish state or what our enemies call the “occupation” of 1948, and certainly not because of the 1967 “occupation”. The bloody and cruel massacre of the Jews of Hevron in 1929 was carried out against Jews who were not part of the Zionist movement, quite the contrary. The Palestine Liberation Movement (Fatah) was founded, may I remind you, in 1959 and The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1964, years before the 1967 “occupation” that was a result of Israel winning the Six Day War.

 

I hate to point out to you that the shouts we heard, mainly in the 1948 War of Independence, were “Itbach al Yahud” – “Butcher the Jews” – and not the “Israelis” or the “Zionists,” because their problem is with the Jews who refuse to be dependent on the mercy of Islam, refuse to live as dhimmi, protected ones, the way Islam mandates for Jews and Christians. In the Arab world, children still sing (in Arabic): “Palestine is our country and the Jews are our dogs.” The dog, in Islamic tradition, is an unclean animal. Sharia law stipulates that if a Muslim is praying and a dog, pig, woman, Jew or Christian walks in front of him, his prayers are worthless and he must begin the entire ritual once again.

 

It is not pleasant to tell you this, but Israel’s enemies’ most popular chant is (in Arabic) – “Kyber, Khyber O Jews, Mohammed’s army will yet return.” Khyber is an oasis in the Arabian Peninsula that was populated by Jews until Mohammed slaughtered them in 626 C.E. The chant commemorates that event and threatens a repeat performance.  The Jews, according to the Koran (Sura 5, verse 82) are the most hostile enemies of the Moslems. Verse 60 states that Allah’s curse and fury upon them turned them into monkeys and pigs. Since when do monkeys and pigs have the right to a state? Since when are they entitled to sovereignty?

 

Despite what you think, peace with Egypt was achieved only after Sadat realized that despite Arab efforts to destroy Israel in the 1948 War of Independence, the 1956 Sinai Campaign, the 1967 Six Day War, 1970 War of Attrition, and even the 1973 Yom Kippur War that took Israel by surprise, the Jewish state managed to push back all the Arab armies and bring the war to their territory. That is why Sadat understood that Israel is not conquerable and that there is no choice other than making peace, even if this peace is temporary and based on the precedent of the 628 C.E. Hudabiya Peace in which Mohammed gave a 10 year hiatus to the infidels of Mecca, but broke it at the end of two years when they fell asleep on the watch.

 

Yassir Arafat did not sign the Oslo Accords because he believed in peace, but because, calling it the “Hudabiya peace,” he saw the agreements as a Trojan horse that would hoodwink the Jews. The only objective of the Oslo Accords was to create a Palestinian entity with an army and weapons that would be used to destroy Israel when the time was ripe. He repeated this constantly, but our decision makers explained that he is only saying it for domestic consumption, and when suicide bombers set themselves off in our streets, the victims were called “victims of peace.” Since when does peace require victims? And when will the rifles we allowed them to obtain be turned on us?

 

It saddens me to tell you that all of Israel’s efforts to please the Hamas Gazans failed, and Hamas went on from being a terrorist organization to becoming a terrorist state. Deathly rockets, attack tunnels, suicide bombers –  all are considered legitimate in the eyes of Gaza’s Jihadist government, so to hell with the lives of the men, women and children living there, and to hell with their welfare, health  and assets. The Gazans are pawns in the hands of Hamas, the Jihad and the Salafists, all of whom appointed themselves the liaison between the residents of Gaza and Paradise, having already given them a taste of hell on earth.

 

It pains me to tell all the soul-weary peace seekers in Israel and the world, that the concrete and iron that you forced us to give the Jihadists in Gaza in order to rebuild their destroyed homes, were used to build tunnels of death both to Gazans and Israelis. Instead of building hospitals, schools and infrastructure, the Jihadists built an infrastructure of death, suffering and disaster.

 

You were wrong again – basing your policy on pipe dreams, delusions and hopes instead of on facts and figures. Analysts, including me, are not entirely blameless: they said in wondrous harmony that when Hamas has to bear the responsibility for food, electricity and welfare in Gaza, its leaders will become more moderate, realistic and pragmatic. We were wrong:  Hamas, despite leaving the opposition in order to rule, has not ceased its Jihad against Israel and has not removed Israel from the top of its list of priorities, nor has it changed in the slightest its wholly negative view of the “Zionist entity.”

 

I hate to ruin the “two states for two peoples” party, but I must, because what is happening in Gaza today is exactly what will happen to the second Palestinian state you are trying to establish in Judea and Samaria. Hamas will be the winner of elections for the legislature, as they were in Gaza in January 2006, and will win the presidential elections as well. If they don’t they will take over all of Judea and Samaria in a violent putsch, just as they did in Gaza in 2007. And when that happens, what will you say? “Ooops…we didn’t know…we couldn’t imagine…?”  So now you know and do not have to extrapolate. This should be your working hypothesis. If Gaza’s Hamas is digging tunnels of death in the sand today, it will be digging through rocks to build them from Judea and Samaria – and let’s see you find them and blow them up when that happens…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]            

 

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THE IMPROBABLE HAPPINESS OF ISRAELIS                                                   

Avinoam Bar-Yosef                                                                                   

Wall Street Journal, May 9, 2016

 

The World Happiness Report 2016 Update ranks Israel (Jews and Arabs) 11th of 158 countries evaluated for the United Nations. Israel also shines as No. 5 of the 36 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries on the OECD’s Life Satisfaction Index—ahead of the U.S., the U.K. and France.

 

How can this be so? Israelis live in a hostile and volatile neighborhood, engaged in an endless conflict with the Palestinians and under the threat of nuclear annihilation by Iran. If you crunch the different components of these indexes, Israel falls much further down the lists. It ranks only 24th in GDP per capita, and comes in at No. 30 of the 36 OECD countries on security and personal safety. Israel has only the 17th-highest per capita income in the world. But Israelis do not rank as stupid on any index. Israel was the fifth-most innovative country in the 2015 Bloomberg Innovation Index, and a 2014 OECD study ranked it fourth in the percentage of adults with a higher education.

 

So what explains the Israeli paradox? Do Israelis only become stupid when thinking about their own happiness? The explanation probably lies in indicators not considered in standard surveys. For instance, a new study by my organization, the Jewish People Policy Institute, looked at pluralism in Israel and found that 83% of Israel’s Jewish citizens consider their nationality “significant” to their identity. Eighty percent mention that Jewish culture is also “significant.” More than two-thirds (69%) mention Jewish tradition as important. Strong families and long friendships stretching back to army service as young adults, or even to childhood, also foster a sense of well-being. All of these factors bolster the Jewish state’s raison d’être.

 

This year, May 12 will mark the 68th anniversary of Israel’s founding, when a nation was created against all odds. The enormous challenges never eroded Israelis’ energy, or hope. David Ben-Gurion, the first Israeli prime minister, once said: “We will know we have become a normal country when Jewish thieves and Jewish prostitutes conduct their business in Hebrew.” Well, in this respect Israel has done much better than he could have dreamed: with one ex-president in jail for rape, and a former prime minister locked up for corruption. Israelis find comfort in the fact that the high and mighty are treated the same under the law as common crooks.

 

Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who died in 2014, once recalled that after finishing a day’s work with his father in their Kfar Malal fields, he had pointed out in frustration how much was left to be plowed. His father, Samuel, told him to turn around and take in how much they had done. In every aspect of Israel’s existence there is plenty left to be plowed—plenty of room for improvement. Yet Israelis take comfort in looking back and savoring how much has been achieved, how sovereignty over the land of their forefathers was reclaimed. At least 60% of the Israeli population, now eight million, are Jewish immigrants or their children. Jews from more than 90 countries, of all colors and walks of life, are united in one society. They cherish the sense of self-determination.

 

And it isn’t just Jews. Go to any beach or shopping mall and—despite the frictions—you will see Jews and Arabs peacefully coexisting. They all can take pride in their country’s accomplishments, as when Israel faced a water crisis a decade ago and launched a desalination project that is now the envy of the world.

 

In 1964, my close childhood friend,  Aryeh Argani, a young Israeli Defense Force pilot, was killed in action. Since then I have visited his grave every spring on Independence Day. Three years ago, I got a phone call from his squadron telling me that they had noticed that no one was participating in the official memorials for Aryeh. He had been an only child, and the sorrow destroyed his parents. The squadron had learned that he and I had been friends, and they invited me to attend a memorial for Aryeh. In the pilots’ club of Squadron 103, I found, a corner of the club is dedicated to Aryeh’s memory. His violin rests there.

These kinds of things make Israelis proud and happy. If the global happiness and satisfaction index could measure them, we might get a better grip on the Israeli paradox.

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

Contents       

    

On Topic Links

 

The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru: David Samuels, New York Times, May 5, 2016—Picture him as a young man, standing on the waterfront in North Williamsburg, at a polling site, on Sept. 11, 2001, which was Election Day in New York City.

68 Reasons to Respect, If Not Love, Israel On Its 68th Birthday: Robert Sarner, Forward, May 9, 2016—This week, as Israel celebrates the 68th anniversary of its hard-won independence, it’s worth celebrating the unlikely success story of this embattled little country, amid all its imperfections.

‘A Shocking Document’ Turns 100: Daniel Pipes, Washington Times, May 8, 2016 —The Sykes-Picot accord that has shaped and distorted the modern Middle East was signed 100 years ago, on May 16, 1916. In the deal, Mark Sykes for the British and Francois Georges-Picot for the French, with the Russians participating too, allocated much of the region, pending the minor detail of their defeating the Central Powers in World War I.

The “Two State Solution”: Irony and Truth: Louis Rene Beres, Breaking Israel News, May 1, 2016 —There is no lack of irony in the endless discussions of Israel and a Palestinian state. One oddly neglected example is the complete turnaround of former Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres.

                    

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

U.S. ON EDGE OF POTENTIALLY DECISIVE MID-TERM ELECTIONS— IF GOP WINS SENATE, OBAMA IS BLOCKED

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 

 

Contents:

 

Remember, Remember the 5th of November: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, Oct. 31, 2014— Next week, on the fifth of November, the day after U.S. midterm congressional elections, U.S. President Barack Obama will begin the final two years of his presidency.

Democrats Crash-Land the Planet: Daniel Henninger, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 29, 2014 — Want to know how to really scare a Democratic candidate for Congress on Halloween? Forget the Sarah Palin mask.

A Referendum on Competence : Charles Krauthammer, National Review, Oct. 30, 2014 — Is this election really about nothing? Democrats might like to think so, but it’s not.

How Obama Lost America: Ross Douthat, New York Times, Nov. 1, 2014 — The 2014 midterms have featured many variables and one constant.

On Topic Links

 

The Stakes on Tuesday: George Will, National Review, Nov. 1, 2014

Why the GOP Needs a Stampede in the Midterms: John Podhoretz, New York Post, Nov. 2, 2014

Obama Always Pointing the Finger of Blame at Someone Else: Michael Goodwin, New York Post, Nov. 2, 2014

Islamist Campaign Donors Overwhelmingly Back Democrats: David J. Rusin, PJ Media, Oct. 31, 2014

                             

                            

REMEMBER, REMEMBER THE 5TH OF NOVEMBER                                       

David M. Weinberg                                                                                             

Israel Hayom, Oct. 31, 2014

 

Next week, on the fifth of November, the day after U.S. midterm congressional elections, U.S. President Barack Obama will begin the final two years of his presidency. He will be free to pursue his true ideological convictions in the fields of foreign and security policy; free to cement a complete reorientation of U.S. policy in the Middle East and beyond. Israel is likely to be a prime victim of Obama's last-stand aggressive foreign policies. While this may come as no surprise to anybody who has been paying attention, the ferocity of Obama's upcoming punch is still going to knock the wind out of leaders on both sides of the Atlantic.

The perfect storm in U.S.-Israel relations has been brewing for six years. From day one of his presidency, Obama has sought to put distance between Washington and Jerusalem (what the president called "useful daylight") along with a concomitant American rapprochement with Tehran. Give the man credit: Obama has been clear from the beginning as to his strategic perspective and how that perspective is radicallydifferent from previous administrations. Obama's rapid embrace earlier this year of the Hamas-Fatah unity government, and his failure this summer to fully support Israel against Hamas during Operation Protective Edge, were turning points in U.S.-Israel relations, and they portend much worse things to come.

Israel is going to face a series of Palestinian resolutions at the U.N. and in international courts this winter, seeking to condemn and penalize the Jewish state. Internationalizing the conflict and criminalizing Israel was always the central Palestinian strategy. Alas, Obama feels that he will be "unable to manage" or mount a defense of Israel. Obama clarified that this was his direction in a candid interview with Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic in March. Blindsiding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he was flying to Washington, Obama warned that Israel can "expect" to face international isolation and possible sanctions from countries and companies across the world if it fails to endorse a framework agreement with the Palestinians and continues settlement building.

 

"If Palestinians come to believe that the possibility of a contiguous sovereign Palestinian state is no longer within reach, then our ability to manage the international fallout is going to be limited," Obama said. "There comes a point where you can't manage this anymore, and then you start having to make very difficult choices. The condemnation of the international community can translate into a lack of cooperation when it comes to key security interests," he warned. Little anguish could be detected in Obama's words, because truthfully, he wasn't too upset about Israel's "impending" isolation or the fact that America will "have reduced influence in issues that are of interest to Israel." Just the opposite; Obama was merely feigning dismay at the possible isolation of Israel, while in practice paving the way towards a global distancing from Israel. The give-away was Obama's total failure, in that interview and in his subsequent acceptance of the Hamas-Fatah government, to place any onus of responsibility on Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas for advancement or retardation of the peace process. There was not and is not a smidgen of answerability that he attaches to Abbas or to Hamas. Only to Netanyahu. Washington never insisted that the Palestinian unity government meet the Quartet principles involving, among other things, recognition of Israel and acceptance of past agreements.

 

Then this week, an unnamed Obama administration official (possibly Obama himself) confirmed to the always-available-for-Netanyahu-bashing Goldberg that after the midterm congressional elections, the Obama administration will no longer shield Israel in international institutions. On the contrary, Goldberg was led to understand that Washington itself is likely to sandbag Israel with a Security Council resolution condemning Israel over settlements and building in Jerusalem. To my mind, we are not far from the day when the Obama administration will support a Palestinian Authority resolution demanding a timetable for Israeli withdrawals to specific borders and endorsing punitive measures unless Israel complies. I don't think this far-fetched at all. So you see, Abbas can brutally mock American peace proposals, accuse Israel of "genocide," glorify terrorism against Israel, cuddle with Hamas and cozy up to Iranian officials in preparation for battle against Israel. Yet Obama remains mum about Abbas, while his "officials" call Netanyahu "chickenshit." Abbas says he will "never" recognize Israel as the national state of the Jewish People, "never" forgo the so-called right of return to Israel of Palestinian refugees, "never" accept Israeli security control of Jordan Valley and other key air and ground security assets, "never" allow Jews to live in Judea, "never" accept Israeli sovereignty in any part of Old Jerusalem, and calls for riots to prevent Jews from "desecrating" the Temple Mount by visiting there. Yet Obama issues no warnings of PA diplomatic isolation or economic collapse if Abbas doesn't compromise and advance the peace process. He pins nothing on the defiant Palestinian Authority and its radical Islamic allies. He is mum on all this, while his "officials" call Netanyahu a "coward."

 

But of course, Obama truly "wishes" he had the "influence" to arrest the isolation of Israel. Yeah, sure. Obama is purposefully engineering the denouement of the special relationship between America and Israel; just as he is purposefully overseeing the decline of America on the world stage. The thick layer of invective aimed at Netanyahu is just cover for this agenda. It is snide camouflage for six years of administration failures in regional and global diplomacy. Over the past year, Obama has granted Russian President Vladimir Putin gargantuan international victories, given Syrian President Bashar Assad a new lease on life, relegitimized Iran and re-energized the morally bankrupt U.N. — while playing Hamlet about his own authority to strike Syria or defend Israel. He has made only a ridiculously miniscule effort at confronting the Islamic State group. He leaves America's reputation in the world "unbelievably small." Don't assume that this emasculation bothers Obama, or that he thinks that it is the result of any failing. It is exactly where Obama is leading America, brilliantly so from his perspective — on principle and on plan. He very clearly believes that the humbling of America will bring healing to the world; that he will be leaving the world a better place by cutting America down to size, and allowing other "legitimate" actors, such as Iran, to assert their rights. And thus a soft U.S.-Iranian nuclear deal is coming soon too, which apparently will allow the Iranians to maintain a full nuclear fuel cycle. This is a violation of every American commitment to Israel and every U.N. resolution that demanded the dismantling of the Iranian nuclear effort. But Obama doesn't care. He is going to do an end-run around the Republican-dominated Congress, and cut a deal that will delay the problem beyond his term as president, while essentially guaranteeing Tehran the additional time it needs to complete all components of a nuclear weapons arsenal. Obama administration officials are already downplaying Iran's destabilizing role in the Middle East and saying that U.S.-Iranian relations have moved into "an effective state of detente."…                                                                                                                        

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]          

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DEMOCRATS CRASH-LAND THE PLANET                                                          

Daniel Henninger                                                                                                       

Wall Street Journal, Oct. 29, 2014

 

Want to know how to really scare a Democratic candidate for Congress on Halloween? Forget the Sarah Palin mask. Don’t say “Boo!” Just slip up behind them and whisper, “national security.” They’ll jump from here into next week’s election. In New Hampshire, North Carolina, Arkansas, Iowa and Colorado, Republican challengers are spooking Democratic Senate campaigns by yelling, “Islamic State” and “Ebola.”

 

A Scott Brown ad in New Hampshire says Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen “supports Obama ’s failed foreign policy.” Tom Cotton ’s ad in Arkansas says President Obama “underestimated” the threat in the Middle East. In their Colorado debate, Republican Cory Gardner asked Sen. Mark Udall “where were you” while Islamic State became a “growing threat?” Most horrifying of all, Thom Tillis accused North Carolina Democrat Sen. Kay Hagan of skipping an Armed Services Committee hearing to . . . raise money.

 

Democratic campaigns built around the war on women or the future of outdoor temperatures are looking limp. If I were a Democrat getting beaten up by Republican appeals to national security, it would madden me that earlier this year most GOP politicians were content to minimize the world’s troubles, citing—well, hiding behind—opinion polls purporting that most Americans were “fatigued” with the U.S. role in the world.

 

“Fatigue” became the default argument for ending discussion in conservative and GOP circles about offering an alternative to Barack Obama’s hook-and-slice foreign policy toward Syria, Iran, Iraq, Vladimir Putin ’s spreading empire, China intimidations of its neighbors or any other metastasizing global threat.

All of a sudden, Republicans everywhere are using a dented globe to pummel Democrats. Politics can be so unfair. Privately, Democrats complain that their candidates are getting tagged for Barack Obama’s incompetence. Mark Udall didn’t have access to intelligence reports about Islamic State’s spread through the Middle East. Why blame Kay Hagan for letting the Ukrainians twist in the wind? What’s Arkansas got to do with any of this? These Democrats are whistling past the graveyard if they think they can deny shared responsibility for the world on Barack Obama’s watch. The Obama worldview is their worldview—not because he happens to be president but because his is the foreign policy espoused by the Democratic Party’s leaders for a generation. One is vice president. Another is secretary of state.

 

After the Vietnam War, Democrats came to be known as the antiwar party. The real meaning of that phrase is misunderstood. Democrats moved away from the muscular foreign-policy tradition of Roosevelt and Trumanonly partly for reasons of aversion to overseas military deployments. What they really wanted to redeploy, permanently, was the federal budget’s spending accounts: Siphon money out of the defense budget and reflow it into domestic spending. Forever. Liberals loathed Ronald Reagan above all else because he took defense spending up to 6% of GDP. That it was 9% under John F. Kennedy has been swept under the rug of Party history. By notable contrast, Bill Clinton is revered by post-Kennedy Democrats because he reduced defense outlays eight straight years, ending at 3% of GDP. Under the Bush 9/11 presidency, defense rose above 4%. President Obama’s defense-spending plans would reduce it to 2.3% of GDP by 2024. The bucolic view of this is that Democrats merely want to help people by spending money on unmet domestic needs. The cynical view would be that once an inexorably northern liberal Democratic Party lost the South, defense spending did nothing for them politically. Domestic spending underwrites their bases of power and incumbencies in the North.

 

That cynical spending calculation holds for some Republicans in Congress. The difference is that only Democrats stay away from the world as a matter of ideology, for fear any commitment legitimizes dollars for defense. But bargain-basement foreign policy is high risk, especially if you’re standing for election in front of the famous fan. As now. If the Republican Party wins Senate control next Tuesday, it will be the dog that caught the bus. Then what? My guess is that much of the campaign’s national-security bravado will recede. Most Republicans will re-convince themselves that opinion-poll “fatigue” is real. Like the Obama foreign policy, that thought is delusional. Ebola is the wake-up call. Ebola was a problem over there, and addressing it could wait. Now it’s here. Ebola shrank the world. That is a reality from which it’s impossible to hide anymore. You can’t watch individuals infected with Ebola show up in Texas and New York from West Africa and demand that the U.S. do something, and then watch Islamic State rampage across the Middle East and say, not our problem. Internet jihadist recruitment and paint-by-numbers terrorism manuals by Islamic State and al Qaeda have shrunk the world, too. Foreign-policy planners and national leaders in Moscow, Tehran and Beijing get up every day and do one thing: think about how they can diminish or destabilize the U.S. Our leadership got up every day for six years and thought about . . . wind farms. When the world’s political winds shifted, Senate Democrats, as is their habit, chose not to see.

 

                                                                       

Contents                        

                                                                                                                   

A REFERENDUM ON COMPETENCE                                                                    

Charles Krauthammer                                                                                                  

National Review, Oct. 30, 2014  

 

Is this election really about nothing? Democrats might like to think so, but it’s not. First, like all U.S. elections, it’s about the economy. The effect of the weakest recovery in two generations is reflected in President Obama’s 13-point underwater ratings for his handling of the economy. Moreover, here is a president who proclaims the reduction of inequality to be the great cause of his administration. Yet it has radically worsened in his six years. The 1 percent are doing splendidly in the Fed-fueled stock market, even as median income has fallen.

 

Second is the question of competence. The list of disasters is long, highlighted by the Obamacare rollout, the Veterans Affairs scandal, and the pratfalls of the once-lionized Secret Service. Beyond mere incompetence is government intrusiveness and corruption, as in the overreach of national-security surveillance and IRS targeting of politically disfavored advocacy groups. Ebola has crystallized the collapse of trust in state authorities. The overstated assurances, the ever-changing protocols, the startling contradictions — the Army quarantines soldiers returning from West Africa while the White House denounces governors who did precisely the same with returning health-care workers — have undermined government in general, this government in particular. Obama’s clumsy attempt to restore confidence by appointing an Ebola czar has turned farcical. When the next crisis broke — a doctor home from West Africa develops Ebola after having traversed significant parts of New York City between his return and his infection — the czar essentially disappeared. Perhaps he is practicing self-quarantine.

 

But there’s a third factor contributing to the nation’s deepening anxiety — a sense of helplessness and confusion abroad as, in the delicate phrase of our secretary of defense, “the world is exploding all over.” Most voters don’t care about the details of Ukraine, the factions in Libya, or the precise battle lines of the Islamic State. But they do have a palpable sense of American weakness. This was brought home most profoundly by the videotaped beheadings of James Foley and Steven Sotloff. It wasn’t just the savagery that affected so many Americans but the contempt shown by these savages for America — its power, its resolve. Here is a jayvee team (Obama’s erstwhile phrase) defying the world’s great superpower, daring it to engage, confident that America will fail or flee. Obama got a ratings bump when he finally bestirred himself to order airstrikes and vowed to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State. Yet almost two months later, there is a realization that the disorganized, halfhearted, ad hoc U.S. reaction has made little difference. The vaunted 60-country coalition is nowhere to be seen. The barbarians are even closer to the gate. Moreover, U.S. flailing is not just demoralizing at home. It is energizing the very worst people abroad. Being perceived as what Osama bin Laden called the “strong horse” is, for a messianic movement on the march, the ultimate recruiting tool. Will this affect the election? While there is widespread dissatisfaction with the administration’s handling of the Islamic State, in most races it has not risen to the level of major campaign issue. Its principal effect is to reinforce an underlying, pre-existing sense of drift and disarray.

 

The anemic economy, the revulsion with governmental incompetence, and the sense of national decline are, taken together, exacting a heavy toll on Democratic candidates. After all, they represent not just the party now in government but the party of government. This portends a bad night for Democrats on Tuesday. State-by-state polls show continued Democratic control of the Senate to be highly tenuous. With one caveat. Democrats could make it up with the so-called ground game (i.e., getting out the vote on Election Day) that polls do not measure. Just a fraction of the unprecedented success the Democrats enjoyed in 2012 in identifying and turning out their voters (especially young, female, and minority) could shift the results by one or two points. That, in turn, could tilt several of the knife-edge, margin-of-error Senate races in their favor and transform what would otherwise be a Republican sweep into something of a stalemate. This could happen. More likely, however, is that the ground-game differential is minor, in which case the current disenchantment — with disorder and diminishment — simply overwhelms the governing Democrats.

The stage is set for a major Republican victory. If they cannot pull it off under conditions so politically favorable, perhaps they might consider looking for another line of work.

                                                                                   

Contents      

                                                                                                                                     

HOW OBAMA LOST AMERICA                                                                                

Ross Douthat                                                                                                                  

New York Times, Nov. 1, 2014

 

The 2014 midterms have featured many variables and one constant. Whether they’re running as incumbents or challengers, campaigning in blue or red or purple states, Democratic candidates have all been dragging an anchor: a president from their party whose approval ratings haven’t been north of 45 percent since last October. The interesting question is why. You may recall that Mitt Romney built his entire 2012 campaign strategy around the assumption that a terrible economy would suffice to deny Barack Obama a second term. Yet throughout 2012, with the unemployment rate still up around 8 percent, Obama’s approval numbers stayed high enough (the mid-to-upper 40s) to ultimately win. Whereas today the unemployment rate has fallen to 6 percent, a number Team Obama would have traded David Axelrod’s right kidney for two years ago, but the White House hasn’t benefited: The public’s confidence is gone, and it doesn’t seem to be coming back.

 

So when and how was it lost? When President Bush’s second-term job approval numbers tanked, despite decent-at-the-time economic numbers, the explanation was easy: It was Iraq, Iraq, Iraq. But nothing quite so pat presents itself in Obama’s case, so here are four partial theories instead. He gets blamed for Republican intransigence. This is the explanation that many Obama partisans favor, because it lets him mostly off the hook. The theory is that with the country as polarized as it is, and with the public inclined to blame the president for gridlock, the natural state for presidential approval ratings is a kind of regression toward the low 40s. This regression can be interrupted only by either some major unforeseen event or the emergence of a challenger — Romney for Obama, John Kerry for George W. Bush — who reminds voters that they dislike the other party more. But once the challenger is beaten, the process resumes: Just as Bush’s post-9/11 ratings declined steadily except when Kerry was on the scene, so too Obama’s numbers were doomed to decay once he won a second term.

 

It’s the economy — yes, still: This explanation raises an eyebrow at the last one and says, come on: If the economy were enjoying a 1990s-style boom, surely Obama would have a decent chance at Clinton-level approval ratings, gridlock or no gridlock! But even with the improving employment picture this recovery is still basically a disappointment, especially for the middle class. So the contrast between Obama’s position in 2012 and his weaker one today isn’t necessarily a case study in the economy not mattering. It’s an example of voter patience persisting for a while, and finally running out. It’s Obamacare — yes, still. This is the closest equivalent to Bush and the Iraq War: The health care law is Obama’s signature issue, it remains largely unpopular (even if support for full repeal is weak), and its initial stumbling coincided with the sharpest second-term drop in the president’s approval. Fixing the website may have stabilized the system, but by design Obamacare still creates many losers as well as winners, and a persistent dissatisfaction with shifts in coverage and costs could be the crucial drag keeping Americans dissatisfied with their president as well.

 

It’s foreign policy — and competence. One of the interesting features of the 2012 campaign was that as much as the economy made Obama’s sales pitch challenging, he had an edge that Democratic politicians often lack: The public trusted him on foreign policy. But that trust began to erode with the Edward Snowden affair, it eroded further during our non-attack on Bashar al-Assad last fall, and recent events in Ukraine and Iraq have essentially made Obama’s position irrecoverable: His approval rating on foreign policy is around 35 percent in most recent polling. But this harsh judgment probably isn’t explicitly ideological: The public isn’t necessarily turning neoconservative or pining for the days of Bush. Instead, it mostly reflects a results-based verdict on what seems like poor execution, in which the White House’s slow response to ISIS is of a piece with the Obamacare rollout and the V.A. scandal and various other second-term asleep-at-the-tiller moments. It’s a problem of leadership that reflects badly on liberalism but doesn’t necessarily vindicate conservatism.

 

And it’s because it isn’t explicitly ideological that the Democrats still have a chance in many states on Tuesday. From North Carolina to New Hampshire to Georgia, their candidates are being tugged downward by the Obama anchor, but they’re still bobbing, still only half-submerged, waiting for undecided to break (or just stay home). In many ways, Republicans have enjoyed in 2014 the kind of landscape they expected in 2012: a landscape in which nobody save Democratic partisans particularly supports President Obama anymore. What we’re about to find out is whether, amid that disillusionment, just being the not-Obama party is enough.

           

Contents                                               

 

On Topic

 

The Stakes on Tuesday: George Will, National Review, Nov. 1, 2014—Mix a pitcher of martinis Tuesday evening to fortify yourself against the torrent of election returns painting a pointillist portrait of the nation’s mind.

Why the GOP Needs a Stampede in the Midterms: John Podhoretz, New York Post, Nov. 2, 2014—For a year, the big question in political circles has been whether Tuesday’s midterm elections will be a Republican “wave.”

Obama Always Pointing the Finger of Blame at Someone Else: Michael Goodwin, New York Post, Nov. 2, 2014 —In the New York Times the other day, anonymous aides to President Obama trashed Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Islamist Campaign Donors Overwhelmingly Back Democrats: David J. Rusin, PJ Media, Oct. 31, 2014—An analysis of federal campaign contributions finds that key figures at six of America’s most prominent Islamist organizations have favored Democrats over Republicans by a ratio of 12 to 1 since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

 

 

               

 

 

 

                      

                

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

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ISLAM AT WAR: ASSAD POISED TO WIN ELECTION; U.S. BACKS DOWN ON “RED-LINES”; KURDS CLASH WITH ISIS: IS ISLAMIST IDENTITY TO BLAME FOR SYRIA’S TROUBLES?

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

 

The Remapping of Syria: Amotz Asa-El, Jerusalem Post, May 17, 2014— US campaign advisers Arthur Finkelstein and James Carville have not been hired, but Bashar Assad will still win next month’s election, and proceed to a third seven-year term as president of Syria.

Mr. Obama is Choosing Not To Act on Syria: Washington Post, May 15, 2014—  The principal achievement the Obama administration might claim in an otherwise tragically failed response to Syria’s civil war is eroding.

Wars Within Wars: Jonathan Spyer, Weekly Standard, May 26, 2014 — With Syrian presidential elections scheduled for June, the incumbent and shoo-in for reelection, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, is campaigning on the promise that 2014 will be the year in which military operations in Syria end.

Islam is What Happens When Civilization Loses: Daniel Greenfield, Sultan Knish, Apr. 8, 2014— Saudi Arabia and Qatar aren't talking to each other. Syria and Turkey are shooting at each other.

 

On Topic Links

 

Syrian al-Qaida Reach Foothills of Golan Heights: Jerusalem Post, May 22, 2014

U.S.-Armed Syrian Rebel Group Seeks ‘All Syrian Land Occupied by Israel’: Adam Kredo, Washington Free Press Beacon, May 19, 2014

Syrian Fighting Gives Hezbollah New but Diffuse Purpose: Ben Hubbard, New York Times, May 20, 2014

Radical Islamists Take Hammer to Syrian Artifacts: Ilan Ben Zion, Times of Israel, May 22, 2014

Syrian War Takes Heavy Toll at a Crossroad of Cultures: Anne Barnard, New York Times, Apr. 16, 2014

 

THE REMAPPING OF SYRIA

Amotz Asa-El                                                        

Jerusalem Post, May 17, 2014

 

US campaign advisers Arthur Finkelstein and James Carville have not been hired, but Bashar Assad will still win next month’s election, and proceed to a third seven-year term as president of Syria. Coupled with Egypt’s election – to be held one week earlier, with Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s victory also predestined – and the world may be resigned to the conclusion that three-and-a-half years of upheaval have landed the Arab world back at square one. This impression may be right in Egypt, but it is unfounded in Syria, whose future will be markedly different from its past. The feeling of déjà vu is justified in Egypt, where Sisi is indeed a product of the previous establishment, and where the country has survived its upheaval intact, if bruised. Syria’s situation is entirely different. Though Assad has indeed defied early assessments that his political days are numbered, and despite gains on the battlefield, the process of Syria’s breakup is under way – and irreversible.

 

Impressions that Syria is also returning to square one were enhanced this week, with the resignation of Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN special envoy who has spent nearly two years trying to get Assad and his enemies to agree to a cease-fire. Brahimi, a seasoned Algerian diplomat who had been an effective negotiator in Afghanistan and Iraq, gave up after two unfruitful rounds of talks in Geneva were followed by Assad’s announcement that he would hold the election as planned. That move has rendered Brahimi’s efforts obsolete, because the splintered Syrian opposition’s most common denominator, and most consistent demand, has been that Assad depart.

 

Assad’s diplomatic success has been more than defensive. Not only has he managed to stem the momentum that might have unseated him, he also cultivated alliances with two superpowers, Russia and China, and with one regional power, Iran, all of which keeps arms supplies and cash flowing in, if insufficiently. This configuration has so far proved far more solid and efficient than the much more reluctant and loosely connected counter-alliance behind Assad’s enemies. With the US failing to deliver on its vow to attack Syria’s chemical weapons installations, Assad saw the rest of the coalition he faced, including Turkey, France, Saudi Arabia and the Arab League, all fail to unseat him, or even seriously equip and train the rebels. At the same time, Assad’s cause has been consistently backed by Moscow and Beijing, so much so that UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon this week decried the Security Council’s failure to bring an end to the bloodshed – which has cost over the past three years some 150,000 fatalities, and displaced an estimated 6.5 million Syrians.

 

Assad’s diplomatic success has been compounded by gains in the battlefield. After having consolidated his grip on Damascus, Assad has just registered a significant breakthrough in Homs, just outside Lebanon’s northeastern tip. The town that now looks as devastated as Stalingrad the morning of its liberation, last week saw its last 1,000 rebels leave through a negotiated corridor. The triumphant return of Assad’s troops to the city where three years ago thousands filled the streets demanding his regime’s end, understandably enhanced the impression that he is in the process of fully offsetting the effort to topple his regime and reinvent his land. North of there, in Aleppo, Assad’s air force has been dropping so-called barrel bombs on neighborhoods where the rebels have also been pushed to the defensive, this while, according to France, the Syrian president launched multiple gas attacks – even after signing the deal to dismantle his chemical weapons.

 

Chances are Assad’s troops will in upcoming months be marching into Aleppo, prewar Syria’s commercial heart, thus consolidating the impression that his victory is nearly complete. Assad the son, many will rush to conclude, has done in 2014 what his father did in 1982 when he leveled the town of Hama. It may not have been as swift, conventional wisdom will go, but like his father, the son will lord over Syria for many more years, having bled its dissenters white. Well, he won’t. Back when he inherited his father’s estate, many wondered whether Bashar Assad, a soft-spoken ophthalmologist, was built to deploy the kind of brutality that animated his father’s 30-year reign. That question has since been answered, as the son has already killed more than his father, and is apparently not done. However, while the individuals at play may not be significantly different, times have changed. Assad the father could surround a city with artillery batteries and pound it with its inhabitants inside, knowing the world would take months to learn what he did. Assad the son has to contend with Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, all of which empower the masses in ways the father would doubtfully manage to address any more efficiently than the son. That is why the formula on which Syria ran in recent decades, which imposed the Alawite minority over the Sunni majority, will not be fully restored. Assad has lost most Syrians’ respect, even to the minimal extent necessary for dictatorial rule, and the people have learned how to stand up to authority, even the Syrian leadership’s. There are accumulating indications – geographic, ethnic and social – that this assumption is shared by many on all sides of the civil war.

 

Geographically, Assad’s offensive is limited to the west. That is why Homs, which sits between Damascus and Aleppo, not far from the coast and also on Lebanon’s edge, is so vital to him. That is also why Assad’s army has been fighting hard to defend Quneitra, which borders Israel on the Golan Heights, and is on the southern end of the western realm that he seems out to carve. Indeed, even here Assad’s grip is shaky, as local rebel groups this week seemed to be closing in on Quneitra while Assad was unable to send them sufficient reinforcements…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link –Ed.]

 

Contents
                                               
             

MR. OBAMA IS CHOOSING NOT TO ACT ON SYRIA           

Washington Post, May 15, 2014

                         

The principal achievement the Obama administration might claim in an otherwise tragically failed response to Syria’s civil war is eroding. Last September President Obama brokered an agreement with Russia under which the regime of Bashar al-Assad was to give up its stockpile of chemical weapons and join the Chemical Weapons Convention, which prohibits production or use of those horrific arms. Yet months after the expiration of the February deadline for removing all chemical stocks from Syria’s territory, the regime not only retains a substantial stockpile but also has returned to assaulting civilian areas with chemicals. The Obama administration’s response is all too familiar: It is trying to avoid acknowledging those facts.

 

Administration spokesmen boast that 92.5 percent of Syria’s chemical weapons and precursors have been removed from the country for destruction by the end of June. But Damascus is dragging its feet on delivering the last 27 tons of chemicals used to make deadly sarin gas. According to The Post’s Ernesto Londoño and Greg Miller, U.S. officials believe the Assad regime is using the stocks as leverage to retain a network of tunnels and buildings that could be used as storage or production facilities, which the Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons wants destroyed. Meanwhile, British, French and U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded that Syria is probably hiding part of its arsenal that it failed to declare, including stocks of sarin and mustard gas, according to news reports . State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki confirmed last week that the United States has been skeptical about whether Assad has revealed the extent of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile.

 

Finally, evidence is piling up that Assad’s forces have been dropping bombs filled with chlorine on opposition-held areas. France’s foreign minister told reporters in Washington on Tuesday that there had been at least 14 such attacks since October. Laurent Fabius, who said “things would have been different” had Mr. Obama not backed away from using force in response to a chemical weapons attack last August, said the “regime is still capable of producing chemical weapons and is determined to use them.” Ms. Psaki said April 21 that the United States had “indications” of the use of chlorine, which is not one of the chemicals Syria was obliged to surrender. But the Obama administration has taken the position that it must await an investigation by the OPCW before reaching a definite conclusion. Meanwhile, the chlorine attacks have continued. An unnamed senior U.S. official offered Mr. Londoño and Mr. Miller a frank explanation of this filibuster: “There’s reluctance to call attention to it because there’s not much we can do about it.”

 

There are, of course, many actions Mr. Obama could take to punish Syria for its use of chemical weapons and to prevent their further deployment. He could begin by granting the opposition’s request for antiaircraft missiles to use against the helicopters that are dropping chlorine bombs. He could revive his plan to launch U.S. military strikes against Syrian infrastructure that supports those attacks. In reality, Mr. Assad is being allowed to disregard his chemical weapons commitment with impunity not because there’s nothing the United States can do but because Mr. Obama chooses to do nothing.                                                                                               

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WARS WITHIN WARS                                                                                              Jonathan Spyer                                                                                                    

Weekly Standard, May 26, 2014

 

With Syrian presidential elections scheduled for June, the incumbent and shoo-in for reelection, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, is campaigning on the promise that 2014 will be the year in which military operations in Syria end. However, the situation in northern Syria, exemplified by the conflict in the canton of Kobani, an area stretching from the Turkish border to south of Kobani city, and from Tell Abyad in the east to Jarabulus in the west, casts doubt on Assad’s optimism.

 

Kobani is under Kurdish control, but cuts into a larger section of territory controlled by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a jihadist organization. ISIS aims to hold a clear, contiguous area stretching from Syria’s border with Turkey into western Iraq, where it controls territory in the provinces of Ninewah and Anbar. The existence of the Kurdish canton of Kobani interferes with this plan, and since March ISIS has launched daily attacks against positions held by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) at the edges of the enclave. The Kobani situation offers a window into the Syrian conflict, a fragmented reality where in large parts of the country the regime is little more than a memory, and well-organized rival militias representing starkly different political projects are clashing. Last month, I traveled to the Kobani enclave, entering from the Turkish border with Kurdish smugglers. The road was short but perilous—a sprint toward the border fence in the dark and a rapid, fumbling climb over it.

 

Kobani was the first of three cantons established by the Kurdish Democratic Union party (PYD) since the Assad regime withdrew from much of northern Syria in the summer of 2012. There are two other such enclaves: the much larger Jazeera canton to the east, which stretches from the town of Ras al-Ain to the border with Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, and the smaller area around the city of Afrin further west. In all three of these areas, the PYD has set up a Kurdish-dominated autonomous administration. The intention of the Kurds is to consolidate their independent government and eventually to unite the three cantons. In the meantime, however, the stark reality of siege conditions in the Kobani canton was immediately apparent to me. The main electricity supply had been cut off, with only intermittent power from hastily rigged-up generators. The water supply, too, had been interrupted, and the local Kurdish authorities were busy digging wells in the hope of reaching natural springs located deep underground. Yet for all this, life in the city functions in a way closely resembling normality. The two hospitals in the city lack medical equipment and medicines, but they are open. “We are improvising, we are innovating, and we are not dying,” a doctor told me at Ayn al-Arab hospital in Kobani city. The school system is functioning, too, and in northern Syria at present these are no small achievements.

 

The Kurdish enclaves are almost certainly the most peaceful and best-governed areas in Syria. However, the Kurds are aware of the precariousness of their achievement. Ali, a member of the Kurdish Asayish paramilitary police, told me that “Assad doesn’t want to open another front now. But if he finishes with the radical groups, then he’ll come for us, inevitably.” In the meantime, as one PYD official said, “We take a third line, neither with the regime nor with the Free Syrian Army. We hope in the future to unite all the cantons. We accept a role for the Arabs, so we don’t see a problem with this. And right now, we have one goal—keeping out ISIS.” The PYD’s “democratic autonomy” project in northern Syria put it on a collision course with ISIS, which is trying to lay the basis for an Islamic state run according to its own floridly brutal interpretation of sharia law. The resulting conflict then is not simply about territory, or who will rule northern Syria; it is also about how this land will be ruled. Mahmoud Musa, a Syrian political analyst and a refugee from the town of Jisr al-Shughur, told me that “there are three serious and well-organized forces in Syria today—the Assad regime, ISIS, and the Kurds.” The last two regard themselves as at war with the regime. In reality, the rival mini-states they have carved out of a fragmented Syria are mainly in conflict with each other.

 

 ISIS has emerged as one of the strangest and cruelest of the many political-military movements now active in Syria. I spoke with a young Kurdish man named Perwer who had spent a week in ISIS captivity. He was arrested at the Jarabulus border crossing, while returning to Syria from Istanbul. First detained by members of another Islamist unit, the Tawhid Brigade, he was then handed over to ISIS and kept for five days in one of the movement’s jails in Jarabulus town, just west of the Kobani enclave. Perwer related that a Kurdish man who had been caught raising the YPG flag in a village near the border with the Kurdish enclave was tortured to death. He also noted that among his fellow prisoners were Arab residents of Jarabulus held for drinking wine. They too were tortured. The Kurdish prisoners were regularly insulted and called apostates by the ISIS guards, who came from a variety of countries. Copies of the Koran were handed out to the Kurdish detainees, and the days in their crowded cell were broken up by prayer sessions, in which ISIS would seek to instruct their Muslim captives in what they regard as the correct method of Muslim prayer.

 

ISIS’s mini-state reaches from the edges of Kobani to deep inside western Iraq. I visited the frontlines on the eastern edge of the Kobani enclave, where the positions of the YPG and ISIS push up against each other. In Tell Abyad, the two sides are camped in abandoned villages, where the ruined landscape has a slightly lunar quality. Eyewitnesses told me that ISIS forced the villagers to leave when the fighting began. Young fighters of the YPG moved carefully around their positions in the abandoned village, ever mindful of the presence of ISIS snipers. In places, the two sides are less than 500 meters apart. ISIS favors mortar fire by night and sniping by day. This has taken a toll on the male and female fighters of the YPG. Around 80 of them have died since the fighting erupted in March. Many more ISIS men, however, have been killed in their wild and uncoordinated attacks.

 

In Jarabulus on the western side, the frontline villages are still inhabited. Some of the local Arab clans are backing ISIS. A sort of de facto mini-transfer of populations has taken place in the area, largely, though not solely, along ethnic lines. I met a couple of Sunni Arabs among the ranks of the YPG fighters. There are also Kurdish volunteers among the ISIS men, including some commanders. They hail mainly from the villages of Iraqi Kurdistan, in particular from the Halabja area. Yet these details aside, it is clear the main dynamic of the conflict in this area is ethnic and sectarian, with Kurds faced off against Sunni Arab Islamists. The attitude of the YPG fighters to their ISIS enemies combines a certain contempt for their military prowess, with a sort of fascinated horror at their savage practices. “They outnumber us, often. But they lack tactics,” said Surkhwi, a female fighter and the commander of the Kurdish fighters in the village of Abduqli. “We think many of them take drugs before entering combat, and they attack randomly, haphazardly. They desecrate bodies of our fighters, cutting off heads, cutting off hands. They don’t respect the laws of war,” Surkhwi told me. “We also know that ISIS look at us women fighters as something not serious, because of their Islamic ideology. They think that if they are killed by a woman, they won’t go to paradise.”…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link –Ed.]

 

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ISLAM IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN CIVILIZATION LOSES                     

Daniel Greenfield

Sultan Knish, Apr. 8, 2014

 

Saudi Arabia and Qatar aren't talking to each other. Syria and Turkey are shooting at each other. Not only are the Shiites and Sunnis killing each other in Syria, but the Sunni groups have been killing each other for some time now. There are even two or three Al Qaedas fighting each other over which of them is the real Al Qaeda while, occasionally, denying that they are the real Al Qaeda. There's something about Syria that splits down everything and everyone. Even Hamas had to split between its political and military wings when choosing between Iran's weapons and Qatar's money. Doing the logical thing, the military wing took the weapons and the political wing took the money so that the military wing of Hamas supported Assad and its political wing supported the Sunni opposition.

 

It's not however money and weapons that splits Muslims over Syria. Money and weapons are only the symbols. What they represent is Islam. And what Islam represents is the intersection between identity and power. A modern state derives its power from its identity. That is nationalism. The Japanese and the Russians were willing to die in large numbers for their homeland during WW2. Both countries had undergone rapid de-feudalization turning peasants into citizens with varying degrees of success. Japan and Russia however had historic identities to draw on. The rapid de-feudalization in the Arab world had much messier results because countries such as Jordan and Syria were Frankenstein's monsters made out of bits and pieces of assembled parts of history stuck together with crazy glue.

 

The Middle East is full of flags, but most are minor variations on the same red, green, black and white theme. The difference between the Palestinian flag and the Jordanian flag is a tiny asterisk on the chevron representing the unity of the Arab peoples. The Iraqi, Syria and Egyptian flags differ in that the Egyptian flag has an eagle sitting on its white strip and the Iraqi flag had three green stars (now it only has Allahu Akbar) while the Syrian flag has two green stars. The Iraqi flag was originally the same as the Jordanian and Palestinian flags. So are most of the flags in the region which are based on the Arab Revolt flag which was in turn based on the colors of the Caliphates. Every time you see the Al Qaeda "black flag" of Jihad, it's already represented in the black stripes on the flags of every Arab nation. What Al Qaeda has done is strip out the other colors representing the various succeeding caliphates and gone back all the way to the black of Mohammed's war flag…

 

Syria is split, roughly speaking, between the Kurds, who want their own country, Greater Kurdistan, to be assembled out of pieces of Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey, the Sunnis, many of whom want to form it into a Greater Syria, to be made out of pieces of Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, and the Neo-Shiite Alawites. Greater Syria was the original agenda of the Palestine Liberation Organization. It's still the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria. And Al Qaeda in Iraq has become the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and is fighting for its own version of a Greater Syria tying together Iraq and Syria. What is Syria? The civil war answered that question. Like the USSR, it's a prison of nations. It exists only by virtue of men pointing guns at other men. As long as all the men with the guns agreed on what Syria was, the country existed. Once they no longer did, there was no longer a Syria. The same is true of much of the Middle East.

 

There are questions that you can resolve with democracy within a functioning country, but when your country has less of an existence than the conflicting religious and ethnic identities of its people, democracy only makes the problem worse. Democracy in Iraq means Shiites voting to be Shiite, Sunnis voting to be Sunni and Kurds voting to be Kurds. Democracy in Syria would mean the same thing. And that way lies a federation and then secession and civil war all over again. The problem in the Middle East isn't a lack of democracy. It's the lack of anything to be democratic about. Everyone in the Middle East (who isn't a Jew, Christian, Kurd, Bahai, Zoroastrian, Armenian, Circassian, Druze, etc.. ) agrees on the importance of Arab and Islamic unity and that their specific flavor of it, their clan, their tribe and their Islamic interpretation should be supreme.

 

It's not surprising that the Middle East is constantly at war. It's only a wonder that the fighting ever stops. Arab nationalism is the ideology that Arab elites used to complete the de-feudalization of their population from peasants into citizens. But what worked in Japan and Russia fell flat in the Middle East where tribe and religion are still supreme. The peasants didn't become Egyptians or Syrians. They remained Ougaidat or Tarabin. After that, they were Muslim. Their national identity came a distant third. What the Arab Spring truly showed is how little national identity mattered as democracy and the fall of governments demonstrated that there was no national consensus, only the narrower one of class, tribe and institution. It's not something that Americans should be too smug about. The left's efforts are reducing the United States to the same balkanized state in which there is a black vote and a white vote, a rich vote and a poor vote, but no national identity that transcends them. We too are becoming ‘Sunnis’ and ’Shiites’. It's no wonder that Islam finds the post-American United States and the disintegrating territories of the European Union fertile ground for its work. It's the same reason why Islam is rising in the Middle East. The rise of Islam is a striving for an era before nations and before whatever remnants of civilization accreted to the Mohammedan conquerors over the years. It's a desire for pre-civilization, for the raid, the noble savage and the twilight of morality. It's a heroic myth dressed up as a religion cloaking the naked savagery of it all…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link –Ed.]

 

Syrian al-Qaida Reach Foothills of Golan Heights: Jerusalem Post, May 22, 2014— Atop the hill of Tel Ahmar just a few kilometers from Israeli forces on the Golan Heights, Syrian Islamist fighters hoist the al-Qaida flag and praise their mentor Osama bin Laden.

U.S.-Armed Syrian Rebel Group Seeks ‘All Syrian Land Occupied by Israel’: Adam Kredo, Washington Free Press Beacon, May 19, 2014—One of the militant Syrian rebel groups provided access to advanced U.S. missiles said that it is seeking “the return of all Syrian land occupied by Israel,” a stance that could potentially complicate U.S. military support to the armed rebel group.

Syrian Fighting Gives Hezbollah New but Diffuse Purpose: Ben Hubbard, New York Times, May 20, 2014 —For many months, Shiite communities across Lebanon lived in fear as car bombs tore through their neighborhoods, punishing Hezbollah and its supporters for sending fighters to aid President Bashar al-Assad in the civil war in neighboring Syria.

Radical Islamists Take Hammer to Syrian Artifacts: Ilan Ben Zion, Times of Israel, May 22, 2014—Fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a radical militia that controls a large swath of eastern Syria, confiscated and destroyed illegally excavated antiquities from an ancient Mesopotamian site.

Syrian War Takes Heavy Toll at a Crossroad of Cultures: Anne Barnard, New York Times, Apr. 16, 2014—The imposing stone colonnades still stand, below stark hills dotted with tombs. They still glow peach-pink in the afternoon sun, impassive, as if unimpressed by what is, after all, not their first war.

 

                               

 

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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OBAMA: FOREIGN POLICY–WHILE AN INCREASINGLY ASSERTIVE RUSSIA REINVENTS WARFARE, OBAMA OPTS FOR FECKLESS APPROACH—ARE WE MOVING TOWARD A “POST-AMERICAN” WORLD?

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The Media is Turning on President Obama: Michael Goodwin, New York Post, Apr. 27, 2014— With multiple crises spiraling out of control around the world, stories about the Obama presidency are taking on the air of postmortems.

How Putin Is Reinventing Warfare: Peter Pomerantsev, Foreign Policy, May 5, 2014—  The Kremlin, according to Barack Obama, is stuck in the "old ways," trapped in Cold War or even 19th century mindsets.

Russia’s Weimar Syndrome: Roger Cohen, New York Times, May 1, 2014 — Sergei Karaganov, a prominent Russian foreign policy expert at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, recently provided a useful summation of his vast country’s sense of humiliation and encirclement.

A Foreign Policy Flirting With Chaos: Richard N. Haass, Wall Street Journal, Apr. 29, 2014— American foreign policy is in troubling disarray.

 

On Topic Links

 

A Moscow-Cairo-Jerusalem Axis?: Neville Teller, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 21, 2014

China and Russia Are Getting Closer: Nikolas K. Gvosdev, National Interest, May 20, 2014

Kerry Keeps Swinging For the Fences — and Missing: Benny Avni, New York Post, May 1, 2014

Can the West Find the Energy to Deter Russia?: Anne Applebaum, Washington Post, May 1, 2014

 

THE MEDIA IS TURNING ON PRESIDENT OBAMA

Michael Goodwin

New York Post, Apr. 27, 2014

 

With multiple crises spiraling out of control around the world, stories about the Obama presidency are taking on the air of postmortems. What went wrong, who’s to blame, what next — even The New York Times is starting to recognize that Dear Leader is a global flop. “Obama Suffers Setbacks in Japan and the Mideast,” the paper declared on Friday’s front page. The double whammy of failure pushed the growing Russian menace in ­Europe to inside pages, but even they were chock-full of reports about utopia gone wrong. One story detailed how the White House was facing the “consequences of underestimating” North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. Others recounted the continuing Syrian slaughter and the murder of three Americans in Afghanistan.

 

The accounts and others like them amount to an autopsy of a failed presidency, but the process won’t be complete unless it is completely honest. To meet that test, the Times, other liberal news organizations and leading Democrats, in and out of office, must come to grips with their own failures, as well. Obama had a free hand to make a mess because they gave it to him. They cheered him on, supporting him with unprecedented gobs of money and near-unanimous votes. They said “aye” to any cockamamie concept he came up with, echoed his demonization of critics and helped steamroll unpopular and unworkable ideas into reality. Some of his backers knew better, and said so privately, but publicly they were all in. Whether it was ObamaCare, his anti-Israel position or the soft-shoe shuffle around the Iranian nuke crisis, they lacked the courage to object. They said nothing as Obama went on foreign apology tours and stood silent as our allies warned of disastrous consequences. Even now, despite protests from a succession of Pentagon leaders, former Democratic defense hawks are helping Obama hollow out our military as Russia and China expand theirs and al Qaeda extends its footprint.

 

A king is no king without a court, and Obama has not lacked for lackeys. The system of checks and balances is written into the Constitution, but it is the everyday behavior of Americans of good will that makes the system work. That system broke down under Obama, and the blame starts with the media. By giving the president the benefit of the doubt at every turn, by making excuses to explain away fiascos, by ignoring corruption, by buying the White House line that his critics were motivated by pure politics or racism, the Times and other organizations played the role of bartender to a man on a bender. Even worse, they joined the party, forgetting the lessons of history as well as their own responsibilities to put a check on power. A purpose of a free press is to hold government accountable, but there is no fallback when the watchdog voluntarily chooses to be a lapdog.

 

The sycophancy was not lost on other politicians and private citizens. Taking their cue from the media, they, too, bit their tongues and went along as the president led the nation astray and misread foreign threats. From the start, support for Obama often had a cult-like atmosphere. He sensed it, began to believe it and became comfortable demanding total agreement as the price for the favor of his leadership. That he is now the imperial president he used to bemoan is no long­er in dispute. The milking of perks, from golf trips to Florida to European vacations for the first lady, is shockingly vulgar, but not a peep of protest comes from his supporters. The IRS becomes a political enforcer, but that, too, is accepted because nobody will risk their access by telling Obama no. You are either with him or you are his enemy.

 

The evidence is everywhere that his ideas are flawed, that his view of economics, diplomacy, the military, history, science and religion are warped by his own narcissism. He doesn’t even talk a good game anymore.

Yet it remains a fool’s errand to hope he will correct his ways. He is not capable; he looks in the mirror and sees only a savior. It is equally clear that those who shielded him from facts and their own best judgment did him no ­favors. Out of fear and favor, they abdicated their duty to the nation, and they must share the burden of history’s verdict. After all, America’s decline happened on their watch, too.

 

 

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HOW PUTIN IS REINVENTING WARFARE         

Peter Pomerantsev                                                                      

Foreign Policy, May 5, 2014

                         

The Kremlin, according to Barack Obama, is stuck in the "old ways," trapped in Cold War or even 19th century mindsets. But look closer at the Kremlin's actions during the crisis in Ukraine and you begin to see a very 21st century mentality, manipulating transnational financial interconnections, spinning global media, and reconfiguring geo-political alliances. Could it be that the West is the one caught up in the "old ways," while the Kremlin is the geopolitical avant-garde, informed by a dark, subversive reading of globalization?

 

The Kremlin's approach might be called "non-linear war," a term used in a short story written by one of Putin's closest political advisors, Vladislav Surkov, which was published under his pseudonym, Nathan Dubovitsky, just a few days before the annexation of Crimea. Surkov is credited with inventing the system of "managed democracy" that has dominated Russia in the 21st century, and his new portfolio focuses on foreign policy. This time, he sets his new story in a dystopian future, after the "fifth world war." Surkov writes: "It was the first non-linear war. In the primitive wars of the 19th and 20th centuries it was common for just two sides to fight. Two countries, two blocks of allies. Now four coalitions collided. Not two against two, or three against one. All against all."

 

This is a world where the old geo-political paradigms no longer hold. As the Kremlin faces down the West, it is indeed gambling that old alliances like the EU and NATO mean less in the 21st century than the new commercial ties it has established with nominally "Western" companies, such as BP, Exxon, Mercedes, and BASF. Meanwhile, many Western countries welcome corrupt financial flows from the post-Soviet space; it is part of their economic models, and not one many want disturbed. So far, the Kremlin's gamble seems to be paying off, with financial considerations helping to curb sanctions. Part of the rationale for fast-tracking Russia's inclusion into the global economy was that interconnection would be a check on aggression. But the Kremlin has figured out that this can be flipped: "A few provinces would join one side," Surkov continues, "a few others a different one. One town or generation or gender would join yet another. Then they could switch sides, sometimes mid-battle. Their aims were quite different. Most understood the war to be part of a process. Not necessarily its most important part."

 

We can see a similar thinking informing the Kremlin as it toys with Eastern Ukraine, using indirect intervention through local gangs, with a thorough understanding of the interests of such local power brokers such as Donetsk billionaire Rinat Akhmetov (Ukraine's richest man) or Mikhail Dobkin, the former head of the Kharkiv Regional Administration and now presidential candidate. Though these local magnates make occasional public pronouncements supporting Ukraine's territorial integrity, their previous support of Yanukovych makes them wary of the new government in Kiev. Just the right degree of separatism could help guarantee their security while ensuring that their vast financial global interests are not harmed. "Think global, act local" is a favorite cliché of corporations — it could almost be the Kremlin's motto in the Donbass.

 

And the Kremlin's "non-linear" sensibility is evident as it manipulates Western media and policy discourse. If in the 20th century the Kremlin could only lobby through Soviet sympathizers on the left, it now uses a contradictory kaleidoscope of messages to build alliances with quite different groups. European right-nationalists such as Hungary's Jobbik or France's Front National are seduced by the anti-EU message; the far-left are brought in by tales of fighting U.S. hegemony; U.S. religious conservatives are convinced by the Kremlin's stance against homosexuality. The result is an array of voices, all working away at Western audiences from different angles, producing a cumulative echo chamber of Kremlin support. Influencers often appear in Western media and policy circles without reference to their Kremlin connections: whether it's PR company Ketchum placing pro-Kremlin op-eds in the Huffington Post; anti-Maidan articles by British historian John Laughland in the Spectator that make no mention of how the think tank he was director of was set up in association with Kremlin-allied figures; or media appearances by influential German political consultant Alexander Rahr that fail to note his paid position as an advisor for the German energy company Wintershall, a partner of Gazprom, Moscow's massive natural gas company (Rahr denies a conflict of interest).

 

Combatting non-linear war requires non-linear measures. International networks of anti-corruption NGOs could help squeeze corrupt flows from Russia. At the moment, this sector is underdeveloped, underfunded, and poorly internationally coordinated: In the U.K., for example, NGOs such as Global Witness or Tax Justice rarely engage with Russian counterparts. Anti-corruption NGOs need to have the backing to put painful pressure on corrupt networks on a daily basis, naming and shaming corrupt networks and pressuring western governments to shut them down and enact their own money laundering laws. This would squeeze the Kremlin's model even in the absence of further sanctions, ultimately playing a role as important as human rights organizations did in the 70s and 80s, when groups like Amnesty and the Helsinki Committee helped change the Cold War by supporting dissidents in the Communist block and shaming their governments…

 

…It's also important to appreciate that the Kremlin is throwing down the gauntlet to the Western-inspired vision of globalization, to the kitsch "global village" vision on the covers of World Bank annual reports and in Microsoft advertisements. It is better to understand the Kremlin's view of globalization as a kind of "corporate raiding" — namely, the ultra-violent, post-Soviet version of corporate takeovers. "Raiding" involves buying a minority share in a company, and then using any means at your disposal (false arrests, mafia threats, kidnapping, disinformation, blackmail) to acquire control. Russian elites sometimes refer to the country as a "minority shareholder in globalization," which, given Russia's experience with capitalism, implies it is the world's great "corporate raider." Non-linear war is the means through which a geo-political raider can leverage his relative weakness. And this vision appeals to a very broad constituency across the world, to those full of resentment for the West and infused by the sense that the "global village" model is a priori rigged. For all the talk of Russia's isolation, the BRIC economies have actually been subdued in their criticism of the annexation of Crimea, with the Kremlin thanking both China and India for being understanding.

 

Perhaps, despite what Obama says, there is a battle of ideas going on. Not between communism and capitalism, or even conservatives and progressives, but between competing visions of globalization, between the "global village" — which feels at once nice, naff, and unreal — and "non-linear war."

It is naïve to assume the West will win with this new battle with the same formula it used in the Cold War. Back then, the West united free market economics, popular culture, and democratic politics into one package: Parliaments, investment banks, and pop music fused to defeat the politburo, planned economics, and social realism. But the new Russia (and the new China) has torn that formula apart: Russian popular culture is Westernised, and people drive BMWs, play the stock market, and listen to Taylor Swift all while cheering anti-Western rhetoric and celebrating American downfall. "The only things that interest me in the U.S. are Tupac Shakur, Allen Ginsberg, and Jackson Pollock," said Surkov when he was one of the first Russian officials to be put on the U.S. sanctions list as "punishment" for Russia's actions in Crimea. "I don't need a visa to access their work. I lose nothing." We live in a truly non-linear age. And the future might just belong to the raiders.                                                                                                      

Contents

RUSSIA’S WEIMAR SYNDROME

Roger Cohen

New York Times, May 1, 2014

 

Sergei Karaganov, a prominent Russian foreign policy expert at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, recently provided a useful summation of his vast country’s sense of humiliation and encirclement. Because explosions of nationalist fervor like the one fostered by Vladimir Putin are dangerous and slow to abate, it is worth quoting this analysis at some length. “The rupture is due to the West’s refusal to end the Cold War de facto or de jure in the quarter-century since the collapse of the Soviet Union,” Karaganov wrote in the daily Izvestia. “In that time, the West has consistently sought to expand its zone of military, economic and political influence through NATO and the E.U. Russian interests and objections were flatly ignored. Russia was treated like a defeated power, though we did not see ourselves as defeated. A softer version of the Treaty of Versailles was imposed on the country. There was no outright annexation of territory or formal reparations like Germany faced after World War I, but Russia was told in no uncertain terms that it would play a modest role in the world. This policy was bound to engender a form of Weimar syndrome in a great nation whose dignity and interests had been trampled.”

 

The country being discussed here, it should be recalled, is the world’s largest, a Eurasian power whose Communist empire extended as far west as Berlin for more than four decades after World War II, subjecting peoples to the mind-numbing, soul-poisoning oppression of totalitarian rule under regimes that coerced and confined. The Gulag-littered Soviet imperium was a crushing universe, a “conspiracy of silence,” in the poet Czeslaw Milosz’s words, where “one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot.” Russia is also a nation that, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, was ushered by the West into the group of leading industrialized countries known as the G-8 (before its recent Crimea-related exclusion). It has been the object of outreach from Washington and NATO since 1991, including initiatives that resulted in Russia joining the Partnership for Peace program and the NATO-Russia council. (NATO-Russian cooperation has been suspended since Moscow’s annexation of Crimea; yes, there was cooperation to suspend.)

 

What the United States and Europe were not prepared to do, however, was to eviscerate the Atlantic alliance in the name of some dreamy “Union of Europe” — Karaganov’s phrase — that would bring about “the merger of European soft power and technology with Russia’s resources, political will and hard power.” If this for Moscow was what was meant by the end of the Cold War, it was a nonstarter and still is. Nor, rightly, was the West prepared to turn its back on the desire of former Soviet vassal states from Poland to Estonia to secure the guarantee against renewed subjugation and the prospects of new prosperity that, in their eyes, only membership in the European Union and NATO afforded. Abuse breeds caution. These nations, long blotted out, wanted their security, freedom and the rule of law underwritten in steel.

 

Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the ongoing rampage in eastern Ukraine by the Russian fifth columnists of the “Donetsk People’s Republic” demonstrate the wisdom of their choice. The expansion through NATO and the E.U. of a free Europe was the greatest American and Western diplomatic achievement since 1989. What now? A sense of national humiliation, whether based in fact or not, is a tremendous catalyst for violence. It was in Weimar Germany, where the reparations and concessions stipulated by the Treaty of Versailles of 1919 created an explosive mood. It was in Serbia at the time of the break-up in 1991 of Yugoslavia, a country Belgrade always regarded as a Serbian extension of itself. The blinding fever drummed up by Slobodan Milosevic was based in a supposed need to reassert Serbian greatness; the means then was the ravages of his fifth columnists in Bosnia. That delirium took a decade to dim. It is unlikely that the Russian version will take less. Putin’s nationalist upsurge is the mask for all sorts of problems — demographic decline, corruption, a coopted judiciary, a cowed press, an oligarchic resource-based economy that has failed to diversify — but no less virulent for that.

 

In the face of this assertive Russia, nothing would be more dangerous than American weakness. So when President Obama, in response to a recent question about whether his declaration that the United States would protect the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea risked drawing another “red line,” gave an evasive answer including the hypothesis that America might not want to “engage militarily,” he did something profoundly dangerous. In Asia, as in the Baltic, the Article 5 commitment to a joint military response to any attack on an ally is critical. The U.S. treaties must be words of truth that sound “like a pistol shot,” or violent mayhem could spread well beyond East Ukraine.

 

Contents

A FOREIGN POLICY FLIRTING WITH CHAOS

Richard N. Haass

Wall Street Journal, Apr. 29, 2014

 

American foreign policy is in troubling disarray. The result is unwelcome news for the world, which largely depends upon the United States to promote order in the absence of any other country able and willing to do so. And it is bad for the U.S., which cannot insulate itself from the world. The concept that should inform American foreign policy is one that the Obama administration proposed in its first term: the pivot or rebalancing toward Asia, with decreasing emphasis on the Middle East. What has been missing is the commitment and discipline to implement this change in policy. President Obama's four-country Asian tour in recent days was a start, but it hardly made up for years of paying little heed to his own professed foreign-policy goals.

 

This judgment may appear odd—at first glance the Obama administration does seem to have been moving away from the Middle East. U.S. combat forces are no longer in Iraq, and the number of U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan (now below 40,000) will soon be 10,000 or fewer. Yet the administration continues to articulate ambitious political goals in the region. The default U.S. policy option in the Middle East seems to be regime change, consisting of repeated calls for authoritarian leaders to leave power. First it was Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, then Moammar Gadhafi in Libya, followed by Bashar Assad in Syria. Yet history shows that ousting leaders can be difficult, and even when it is not, it can be extremely hard to bring about a stable, alternative authority that is better for American preferences. The result is that the U.S. often finds itself with an uncomfortable choice: Either it must back off its declared goals, which makes America look weak and encourages widespread defiance, or it has to make good on its aims, which requires enormous investments in blood, treasure and time.

 

The Obama administration has largely opted for the former, i.e., feckless approach. The most egregious case is Syria, where the president and others declared that "Assad must go" only to do little to bring about his departure. Military support of opposition elements judged to be acceptable has been minimal. Worse, President Obama avoided using force in the wake of clear chemical-weapons use by the Syrian government, a decision that raised doubts far and wide about American dependability and damaged what little confidence and potential the non-jihadist opposition possessed. It is only a matter of time before the U.S. will likely have to swallow the bitter pill of tolerating Assad while supporting acceptable opposition elements against the jihadists. Meanwhile, large areas of Libya are increasingly out of government control and under the authority of militias and terrorists. Egypt is polarized and characterized by mounting violence. Much the same is true in Iraq, now the second-most-turbulent country in the region, where the U.S. finds itself with little influence despite a costly decade of occupation. Terrorists now have more of a foothold in the region than ever before…

 

None of this should be read as a call for the U.S. to do more to oust regimes, much less occupy countries in the name of nation-building. There is a good deal of evidence, including Chile, Mexico, the Philippines and South Korea, that gradual and peaceful reform of authoritarian systems is less expensive by every measure and more likely to result in an open society, as well as less likely to result in disruption and death. The Obama administration's extraordinary commitment to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is also difficult to justify. Even before the recent breakdown in talks, the dispute didn't appear ripe for resolution. And it must be acknowledged that the Israeli-Palestinian dispute no longer occupies center stage in the Middle East. The emergence of a separate Palestinian state wouldn't affect the troubling events in Syria, Egypt or Iraq…

 

The U.S. must also increase its involvement with Europe. American inattention, combined with Ukraine's own political dysfunction and the European Union's bungling, set the stage for Russian expansion into Crimea. Shaping Russian behavior will require targeted sanctions, greater allocation of economic resources to Ukraine, a willingness to export meaningful amounts of oil and natural gas, and a renewed commitment to NATO's military readiness. The administration also needs to focus on the strength and resilience of the U.S. economy and society. This is not an alternative to national security but a central part of it…The challenge for the Obama administration is not just to ensure American strength and continued internationalism in the face of growing isolationist sentiment. It is also a case of sending the right message to others. We are witnessing an accelerated movement toward a post-American world where governments make decisions and take actions with reduced regard for U.S. preferences. Such a world promises to be even messier, and less palatable for U.S. interests, than it is today.

 

A Moscow-Cairo-Jerusalem Axis?: Neville Teller, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 21, 2014 —Being played out on the world stage, in this early part of 2014, is what might superficially be taken as a repeat of the communism versus capitalism Cold War of the 20th century.

China and Russia Are Getting Closer: Nikolas K. Gvosdev, National Interest, May 20, 2014—Whenever Russian president Vladimir Putin meets with his Chinese counterparts, there is always dramatic talk about the intensifying special relationship between the two countries and the enunciation of bold goals to double trade and further expand security, political and diplomatic ties.

Kerry Keeps Swinging For the Fences — and Missing: Benny Avni, New York Post, May 1, 2014—President Obama used a baseball metaphor this week to explain his foreign-policy doctrine: “It avoids errors. You hit singles, you hit doubles. Every once in a while we may be able to hit a home run.”

Can the West Find the Energy to Deter Russia?: Anne Applebaum, Washington Post, May 1, 2014—Seven Russians were added this week to the U.S. sanctions list , along with 17 Russian companies.

 

                               

 

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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FOR OBAMA & CO., BENGHAZI SCANDAL REPRESENTS NOT ONLY A COVER-UP, BUT ALSO AN INEPT FOREIGN POLICY “OF DENIAL”

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

Why Benghazi Matters: National Review, May. 5, 2014— Watergate defines the vocabulary for American political scandals…

Hillary Clinton Should Be Worried as Benghazi Coverup Unravels: Kenneth R. Timmerman, New York Post, May 3, 2014— Make it go away! That was the message of the Obama administration and their friends in the media for the past two years, and now we know why: Benghazi is the scandal they always denied it was.

Obama’s Foreign Policy of Denial: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, May. 1, 2014— Barack Obama’s 949-word response Monday to a question about foreign policy weakness showed the president at his worst: defensive, irritable, contradictory and at times detached from reality.

A New Russian Riddle: Clifford D. May, Washington Times , Apr. 29, 2014 — “A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma” is how Winston Churchill famously described Russia in 1939. Churchill less famously added: “But perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.”

 

On Topic Links

 

Obama’s ‘Blame the Video’ Fraud Started in Cairo, Not Benghazi: Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review, May. 1, 2014

Benghazi, Lies and Videotape: Nonie Darwish, Frontpage, May 2, 2014

Benghazi Emails: Despite Spin, Not Just a Fox Story Any More: Howard Kurtz, Fox News, May 2, 2014

Former CIA Deputy Denies Politics in Benghazi: David Lerman, Bloomberg, Apr. 2, 2014

Libyan Oil at Heart of Conflict With Roots in Country’s East: Abigail Hauslohner, Washington Post, Apr. 13, 2014

                                               

WHY BENGHAZI MATTERS                                                       

National Review, May 5, 2014

 

Watergate defines the vocabulary for American political scandals, and so it was no surprise that former Obama-administration communications operative Anita Dunn took to the airwaves yesterday morning to pour derision upon the notion that a “smoking gun” has been uncovered in the form of recently released e-mails documenting the White House’s disinformation campaign following the Benghazi attack. A dozen Democrats have asked, “Where’s the scandal?” But the question here is not whether the administration’s misleading statements in the wake of the attacks on U.S. installations in Egypt and Libya are a political scandal in the style of President Nixon’s infamous burglary; they aren’t. But that the administration’s misdeeds here seem to fall short of felony burglary hardly makes the matter a less serious one: The White House misled the American public about a critical matter of national interest, and it continues to practice deceit as the facts of the case are sorted out. That, to answer Hillary Clinton’s callous question, is what difference it makes.

 

The Benghazi dishonesty did not end with Susan Rice’s now-infamous 2012 Sunday-show storytelling circuit, in which she blamed the attack on an Internet video that Muslims found insulting but that in fact had nothing to do with what was an organized jihadist attack. Last week, press secretary Jay Carney managed to annoy the usually pliant White House press corps with his embarrassing attempt to explain away the withholding of documents sought by Congress, saying that the e-mails in question were not about Benghazi, despite the fact that there is a section thereof titled “Benghazi.” He has labeled investigation into the matter evidence of a “conspiracy theory.” It is nothing of the sort, and getting a picture of the administration’s failures and dishonesty in the matter requires no leap of logic or supposition of unknown forces at work.

There were coordinated attacks against American diplomatic facilities abroad, carried out by terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda, scheduled for the anniversary of the September 11 hijackings and announced by a series of threats from Islamist organizations that were reported, among other places, in the Egyptian newspapers the day before the attack. The Obama administration took insufficient precautionary measures. In Cairo, the U.S. embassy was overrun and the American flag hauled down while the black banner of al-Qaeda was raised. In the Libyan city of Benghazi, there was disciplined and organized assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in which Ambassador Christopher Stevens and another diplomat were murdered; a few hours later, a similar assault was carried out on a CIA installation about a mile away, in which two security personnel were killed.

 

Faced with this dramatic evidence of its incompetence six weeks before an election, the Obama administration distorted a kernel of truth — Cairo’s grand mufti had in fact denounced the video — and told the public a story in which the attacks were not acts of jihadist terrorism organized with malice aforethought by al-Qaeda partisans but rather were riots resulting from spontaneous protests by Muslims angered by an obscure YouTube video that was disrespectful of their faith and their prophet. The video was at most a minor factor in the Cairo riots, which were orchestrated by Mohammed al-Zawahiri, brother of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. The video was not a significant factor in any way in Benghazi, but the administration insisted on its own version of events, downplaying the role of Islamic extremism and removing references to specific jihadist organizations from CIA-provided materials. The deputy director of the CIA, Michael Morell, told Congress that the video was “not something the analysts have attributed this attack to,” but the Obama administration was less interested in intelligence than in politics: Victoria Nuland of the State Department warned that acknowledging the role of organized terrorist groups might encourage members of Congress to “beat the State Department for not paying attention to Agency warnings.” The purpose of the video-protest narrative was to convince the American public that the bloodshed in the Middle East was the result of protests sparked by boobish Christians, and not a broader failure of policy. We know that because President Obama’s deputy national-security adviser, Ben Rhodes, helpfully put those precise words into an e-mail, describing U.N. ambassador Susan Rice’s storytelling session on the Sunday talk shows as intended “to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.”

 

President Obama’s failures of policy here are considerable, and they run from the specific to the general. U.S. diplomatic facilities in the Middle East should enjoy extraordinary security measures at all times, but they should be fortresses when September 11 comes around on the calendar. And the usual high level of security that should mark that day should have been intensified by the presence of specific threats against our embassies. The events of September 11, 2012, are ipso facto evidence of a catastrophic failure to protect American facilities abroad, and that this happened despite the warnings of our intelligence agencies compounds the failure. That is one part of the “broader failure of policy” that the video narrative was intended to obscure. Another part is the administration’s lack of coherent policy in Egypt, Libya, and the greater Middle East, which has left our allies wary and our enemies encouraged…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                                       

                                                                         

Contents
                                        

HILLARY CLINTON SHOULD BE WORRIED

AS BENGHAZI COVERUP UNRAVELS                                      

Kenneth R. Timmerman                                                                  

New York Post, May 3, 2014

 

Make it go away! That was the message of the Obama administration and their friends in the media for the past two years, and now we know why: Benghazi is the scandal they always denied it was. Thanks to a lawsuit by watchdog group Judicial Watch, the administration last week released correspondence about the terrorist attack in Libya on Sept. 11, 2012 that left US ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others dead.

 

One memo, from Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security director for strategic communications, shows how the administration was trying to spin the attack as something other than their own strategic failures.

“Reinforce the president and administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges,” he wrote to UN Ambassador Susan Rice. He instructed her to “underscore” that the events in Benghazi were “protests . . . rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.”

 

Beyond the callousness of this message, and the fact that officials already knew this was the work of terrorists, that this document is just coming out now shows the depth of the administration’s cover-up.

Despite numerous subpoenas from Congress, Obama’s people never handed over the e-mail. Make it go away means hiding evidence from the American people.  “Why aren’t we talking about something else?” whined House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Because the Obama administration ignored legal requirements and a pursued a possibly criminal cover-up, they’ve just ensured Congress is going to talk about nothing but. House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Friday he’ll be forming a select committee to investigate Benghazi. He’ll find plenty.

 

The Rhodes memo is just the beginning. It and other e-mails were obviously selected from a much larger set of internal administration communications on the Benghazi cover-up that remains hidden from the public and from Congress. The person who should worry most is former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. For example, until now we have seen zero documentation to explain how Clinton out of the blue concocted the statement she issued on the evening of the attacks, which first raised the notion that the attacks came “as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet.” In all the material released by the administration to date, there are no notes, e-mails or drafts of Clinton’s Sept. 11, 2012 statement similar to the back-and forth e-mail chain released last year showing how the CIA talking points evolved during three days of inter-agency discussion. And yet surely such documents exist. We know from the public record that Clinton was getting real-time information on the attacks. She understood — because her own officials were telling her — that there were no protests in Benghazi and that the attacks on the Special Mission Compound and on the Annex were a well-planned terrorist assault.

 

And yet, after consulting by phone with President Obama at 10 that night, Hillary decided to blame it all on an Internet video. Similarly, the administration has released no notes, e-mails or other communications that describe the substance of that phone call, so we still don’t know who first floated the idea of blaming it all on a non-existent video. Nor has the White House revealed, despite repeated requests, what the president was doing that night as he prepared for his fund-raiser the next day in Las Vegas. Dialing for dollars, perhaps?

 

In testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform committee on Thursday, Brig. Gen. Robert Lovell, the chief of intelligence (J-2) for US Africa Command at the time of the attacks, revealed that his “analysts worked through chat” all night long. None of those documents have been turned over to congressional committees. Top military officials at Africom headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, told me they watched live video feed from a Predator drone over the Special Mission Compound and later, over the Benghazi airport and the Annex, which clearly showed there were no protests. So far, that footage has not been released. We know that orders were issued, then recalled, to deploy a 50-man Special Forces unit from Croatia that could have reached Benghazi within hours. But no documents on who ordered that unit to stand down have yet been released.

 

The American people deserve the truth. With four Americans returning home in body bags, this scandal is no garden-variety cover-up. And despite Hillary Clinton’s fervent hope, no, it’s not going to go away.

 

Contents
                                  
              

OBAMA’S FOREIGN POLICY OF DENIAL

Charles Krauthammer

 Washington Post, May 1, 2014

 

Barack Obama’s 949-word response Monday to a question about foreign policy weakness showed the president at his worst: defensive, irritable, contradictory and at times detached from reality. It began with a complaint about negative coverage on Fox News, when, in fact, it was the New York Times’ front page that featured Obama’s foreign policy failures, most recently the inability to conclude a trade agreement with Japan and the collapse of Secretary of State John Kerry’s Middle East negotiations.

 

Add to this the collapse of not one but two Geneva conferences on Syria, American helplessness in the face of Russian aggression against Ukraine and the Saudi king’s humiliating dismissal of Obama within two hours of talks — no dinner — after Obama made a special 2,300-mile diversion from Europe to see him, and you have an impressive litany of serial embarrassments.

 

Obama’s first rhetorical defense, as usual, was to attack a straw man: “Why is it that everybody is so eager to use military force?” Everybody? Wasn’t it you, Mr. President, who decided to attack Libya under the grand Obama doctrine of “responsibility to protect” helpless civilians — every syllable of which you totally contradicted as 150,000 were being slaughtered in Syria? And wasn’t attacking Syria for having crossed your own chemical-weapons “red line” also your idea? Before, of course, you retreated abjectly, thereby marginalizing yourself and exposing the United States to general ridicule. Everybody eager to use military force? Name a single Republican (or Democratic) leader who has called for sending troops into Ukraine.

 

The critique by John McCain and others is that when the Ukrainians last month came asking for weapons to defend themselves, Obama turned them down. The Pentagon offered instead MREs, ready-to-eat burgers to defend against 40,000 well-armed Russians. Obama even denied Ukraine such defensive gear as night-vision goggles and body armor. Obama retorted testily: Does anyone think Ukrainian weaponry would deter Russia, as opposed to Obama’s diplomatic and economic pressure? Why, averred Obama, “in Ukraine, what we’ve done is mobilize the international community. . . . Russia is having to engage in activities that have been rejected uniformly around the world.” That’s a deterrent? Fear of criticism? Empty words? To think this will stop Putin, liberator of Crimea, champion of “New Russia,” is delusional. In fact, Putin’s popularity at home has spiked 10 points since the start of his war on Ukraine. It’s now double Obama’s. As for the allegedly mobilized international community, it has done nothing. Demonstrably nothing to deter Putin from swallowing Crimea. Demonstrably nothing to deter his systematic campaign of destabilization, anonymous seizures and selective violence in the proxy-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk, where Putin’s “maskirovka” (disguised warfare) has turned Eastern Ukraine into a no-man’s land where Kiev hardly dares tread. As for Obama’s vaunted economic sanctions, when he finally got around to applying Round 2 on Monday, the markets were so impressed by their weakness that the ruble rose 1 percent and the Moscow stock exchange 2 percent.

 

Behind all this U.S. action, explained the New York Times in a recent leak calculated to counteract the impression of a foreign policy of clueless ad hocism, is a major strategic idea: containment. A rather odd claim when a brazenly uncontained Russia swallows a major neighbor one piece at a time — as America stands by. After all, how did real containment begin? In March 1947, with Greece in danger of collapse from a Soviet-backed insurgency and Turkey under direct Russian pressure, President Truman went to Congress for major and immediate economic and military aid to both countries.

 

That means weaponry, Mr. President. It was the beginning of the Truman Doctrine. No one is claiming that arming Ukraine would have definitively deterred Putin’s current actions. But the possibility of a bloody and prolonged Ukrainian resistance to infiltration or invasion would surely alter Putin’s calculus more than Obama’s toothless sanctions or empty diplomatic gestures, like the preposterous Geneva agreement that wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. Or does Obama really believe that Putin’s thinking would be altered less by antitank and antiaircraft weapons in Ukrainian hands than by the State Department’s comical #UnitedforUkraine Twitter campaign? Obama appears to think so. Which is the source of so much allied anxiety: Obama really seems to believe that his foreign policy is succeeding. Ukraine has already been written off. But Eastern Europe need not worry. Obama understands containment. He recently dispatched 150 American ground troops to Poland and each of the Baltic states. You read correctly: 150. Each.                           

                                                                                   

Contents
                                  
  

A NEW RUSSIAN RIDDLE

Clifford D. May

Washington Times, Apr. 29, 2014

 

“A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma” is how Winston Churchill famously described Russia in 1939. Churchill less famously added: “But perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.” Determinedly modernist Western leaders have tried hard to convince Vladimir Putin that Russia’s national interest — and his personal interest, as well — is to be a member in good standing with the so-called “international community,” someone praised by President Obama and not admonished by John F. Kerry who, following Russia’s seizure of Crimea, exclaimed: “You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th-century fashion by invading another country on a completely trumped-up pretext.”

 

Being regarded as unfashionable by the American secretary of state is a punishment the Russian president is apparently willing to endure in order to redraw the borders of Eurasia. Under both czars and commissars, the occupant of the Kremlin commanded an empire. I’d wager that Mr. Putin sees it as his mission — perhaps his destiny — to re-establish the status quo ante. If the polls are to be believed, most Russians are solidly behind him. How far will Mr. Putin go? He’s no communist, but I do think he learned from Lenin, who famously said that when you probe with your bayonet and hit steel, you back off, but when you hit mush, you continue moving forward. Raise your hand if you think Mr. Putin has so far hit anything other than mush from the United States, the European Union and NATO (and the United Nations, but that goes without saying).

 

Some questions to which I don’t think we yet have answers: Does Mr. Putin want all of Ukraine or just the most productive slices, leaving the remainder an impoverished ward of the West? Will he settle for an expanded sphere of influence, with the countries on Russia’s borders, the “near abroad,” retaining de jure independence — as long as they don’t forget to whom they must kowtow? Or does he, perhaps, harbor grander ambitions? It is not inconceivable that Mr. Putin thinks he can — and therefore should — precipitate NATO’s collapse. He could accomplish this by following his invasion, on a trumped-up pretext, of Ukraine with an invasion on a trumped-up pretext of one or more of NATO’s smaller members — nations that once were Soviet republics and still have sizable Russian populations. If NATO should prove unwilling or unable to defend Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania, that would be the death of the venerable but increasingly feeble alliance. Even if Mr. Putin goes no further — and few bookmakers would give odds on that — he has demonstrated that Russia in the Age of Putin is a power that must again be reckoned with. He also has cast further doubt on America’s determination and reliability, thereby making a mockery of what was supposed to be the Age of Obama.

 

A yawning gap separates Mr. Obama’s worldview from reality. That was vividly illustrated last month when he addressed “European Youth” at the ornate Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels. He had crossed the Atlantic, he told the young men and women of the Continent, “to insist that we must never take for granted the progress that has been won here in Europe and advanced around the world, because the contest of ideas continues for your generation.” He immediately added: “And that’s what’s at stake in Ukraine today. Russia’s leadership is challenging truths that only a few weeks ago seemed self-evident — that in the 21st century, the borders of Europe cannot be redrawn with force, that international law matters, that people and nations can make their own decisions about their future.” You see the contradiction? Taking progress for granted is exactly what Mr. Obama did when he assumed that the advent of a new century brought with it new and improved rules — that with the flip of a calendar page, borders somehow became inviolable, international law suddenly “mattered” (whatever that means), and tyrants could no longer determine the fate of nations. The president went on to reassure his audience that “this is not another Cold War that we’re entering into. After all, unlike the Soviet Union, Russia leads no bloc of nations, no global ideology. The United States and NATO do not seek any conflict with Russia.”

 

All three of those assertions strike me as dubious. First, we may indeed be entering into something akin to the Cold War — if the definition of that term is a period of prolonged tension, low-intensity and proxy conflicts, and the possibility of a spark setting off a larger conflagration. Second, though Mr. Putin may not be leading a bloc of nations, he is aligning with regimes based on anti-Western and anti-democratic ideologies, such as Iran, Syria and North Korea. Islamism — which, in its Iranian expression, Mr. Putin is enabling — is as much a global ideology as was communism. Third, if the president is implying that the Cold War came about because the United States and NATO sought conflict with the Soviet Union, he’s dead wrong: The root cause was Soviet empire-building and the dropping of an Iron Curtain over Eastern Europe. Finally, Mr. Putin does not need to be reminded that America and NATO are not seeking conflict with him. He is confident that both fear conflict much more than he does, more than Iran’s rulers do, more even than the young dynastic dictator of North Korea. That’s a good reason for all of them to drive hard bargains, demand significant concessions and impose serious humiliations on America. Does Mr. Obama grasp any of this, and is he even attempting to develop a strategy to deal with it? That’s the real puzzle, isn’t it?

 

On Topic

 

Obama’s ‘Blame the Video’ Fraud Started in Cairo, Not Benghazi: Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review, May. 1, 2014—Here is the main point: The rioting at the American embassy in Cairo was not about the anti-Muslim video.

Benghazi, Lies and Videotape: Nonie Darwish, Frontpage, May 2, 2014 —Shocking White House emails released to the public Tuesday by government watchdog group Judicial Watch shed new light on the Obama administration’s brazen dishonesty with the public about the deadly Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.

Benghazi Emails: Despite Spin, Not Just a Fox Story Any More:Howard Kurtz, Fox News, May 2, 2014—The story on Page 8 of yesterday’s New York Times amounts to an admission of journalistic error.  

Former CIA Deputy Denies Politics in Benghazi: David Lerman, Bloomberg, Apr. 2, 2014—A former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency said politics played no role in the flawed initial account of the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.

Libyan Oil at Heart of Conflict With Roots in Country’s East: Abigail Hauslohner, Washington Post, Apr. 13, 2014 —For nine months, a Libyan militia has occupied massive oil compounds in the desert and along the eastern Mediterranean coast, obstructing this nation’s lifeblood.

                                               

 

 

 

                               

 

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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« RÉFUGIÉS » EN PALESTINE, LE SOUTIEN D’OBAMA POUR LES FRÈRES MUSULMANS ET LA NAÎVETÉ OCCIDENTALE QUI AIDE L’IRAN

Compter les réfugiés de Palestine?

Daniel Pipes

National Review Online, 29 mai 2012

Adaptation française: Anne-Marie Delcambre de Champvert

Le cœur fétide et sombre de la guerre des Arabes contre Israël, ai-je longuement argumenté, ne réside pas dans les litiges sur Jérusalem, les points de contrôle, ou les "colonies". Il concerne plutôt les soi-disant réfugiés de Palestine.

Ainsi appelés [«soi-disant»] parce que de presque 5 millions de réfugiés officiels dont s'occupe l'UNRWA (l'abréviation pour «Office de secours et de travaux des Nations Unies pour les réfugiés de Palestine dans le Proche-Orient »), seulement environ 1% sont de vrais réfugiés qui correspondent à la définition de l'office « les personnes dont le lieu de résidence habituel était la Palestine entre juin 1946 et mai 1948, qui ont perdu à la fois leur maison et leur gagne-pain à la suite du conflit israélo-arabe de 1948 ». Les autres 99 % sont des descendants de ces réfugiés, ou ce que j'appelle les faux réfugiés

Pire: ceux qui étaient en vie en 1948 sont en train de mourir et dans une cinquantaine d'années pas un seul vrai réfugié sera encore en vie, alors que (extrapolant à partir d'une estimation faisant autorité dans Refugee Survey Quarterly par Mike Dumper) les faux descendants de réfugiés seront au nombre de 20 millions. Sans contrôle, la population va grandir très rapidement sans jamais s'arrêter jusqu'à la fin des temps. [L’origine de l'expression employée par Daniel Pipes « grandir comme Topsy » c'est la petite esclave Topsy dans la case de l'oncle Tom (NDLT)]

Cela est important parce que le statut de réfugié a des effets néfastes: Il gâche la vie de ces millions de non réfugiés en les privant de leurs droits tout en leur imposant un vilain, irrédentiste et irréaliste rêve. Pire, le statut de réfugié les garde comme un poignard permanent visant le cœur d’Israël, menaçant l'État juif et perturbant le Moyen-Orient. Résoudre le conflit israélo-arabe – si on le dit en peu de mots – exige de mettre fin à la mascarade absurde et nuisible de la prolifération des faux réfugiés de Palestine et de leur installation à vie [dans ce statut]. 1948 c'est passé ; il est temps de devenir réaliste.

Je suis fier d'annoncer que, se fondant en partie sur les travaux effectués par Steven J. Rosen et moi-même au forum du Moyen Orient, au cours de l'année passée, la commission du crédit budgétaire du Sénat américain, le 24 mai a voté à l'unanimité un amendement limité mais potentiellement important aux 52,1 milliards du projet de loi de l'exercice fiscal 2013 pour les crédits budgétaires du ministère des affaires étrangères. L'amendement, proposé par Mark Kirk (républicain de l'Illinois) exige que le ministère des Affaires étrangères informe le Congrès à propos de l'utilisation annuelle de 240 millions de dollars provenant de fonds directs des contribuables américains donnés aux réfugiés de Palestine via l'UNRWA. Combien de bénéficiaires, demande Kirk, répondent à la définition de l'UNRWA citée ci-dessus, pour être considérés comme de vrais réfugiés? Et combien ne le sont pas, mais sont les descendants de ces réfugiés?

L'amendement Kirk n'appelle pas à éliminer ou même à réduire les prestations aux faux réfugiés. Malgré son caractère limité, Kirk appelle l'obligation d'information légale "un tournant" En effet, cela a inspiré ce qu' un haut conseiller du sénat appartenant à ce vieux grand parti républicain [GOP « Grand Old Party » désigne le parti républicain(NDLT)] a appelé «une opposition énorme» du gouvernement jordanien et de l'UNRWA elle-même, causant ce que Josh Rogin du magazine Foreign Policy appelle une bataille qui fait rage.

Pourquoi cette rage? Parce que, si le ministère des affaires étrangères est contraint de faire la différence entre véritables réfugiés de Palestine et les faux réfugiés, le gouvernement des États-Unis et d'autres gouvernements occidentaux (qui, ensemble, recouvrent plus de 80 pour cent du budget de l'UNRWA) pourraient finalement décider de supprimer les faux [réfugiés]et par ce moyen porter atteinte à leur revendication d'un "droit au retour" en Israël.

Malheureusement, l'administration Obama a bâclé cette question. Une lettre du ministre adjoint des Affaires étrangères, Thomas R.Nides s'oppose à la version antérieure de l'amendement Kirk démontrant une incohérence complète. D'une part, Nides déclare que Kirk voudrait, en forçant le gouvernement américain à « rendre un jugement public sur le nombre et le statut des réfugiés palestiniens … préjuger et déterminer l'issue de cette question sensible. » D'autre part, Nides lui-même se réfère à « environ cinq millions de réfugiés [de Palestine], » ce qui amalgame les réfugiés vrais et faux – et juge d'avance précisément la question qu'il désire fortement laisser ouverte. Cette déclaration de 5 millions de réfugiés n'était pas un coup de chance ; quand interrogé à ce sujet, le porte-parole du ministre des Affaires étrangères Patrick Ventrell a confirmé que « le gouvernement américain soutient » le principe directeur consistant à «reconnaître les descendants des réfugiés comme réfugiés. »

En outre, en prédisant une « très forte réaction négative [à l'amendement] de la part des Palestiniens et de nos alliés dans la région, en particulier la Jordanie, » Nides a invité les Arabes à faire pression sur le Sénat des États-Unis, une sale manœuvre indigne du ministère des Affaires étrangères.

À travers l'ensemble des 64 ans d'existence d'Israël, tous les présidents américains, l'un après l'autre, ont décidé de résoudre le conflit israélo-arabe, mais chacun d'eux a ignoré le plus laid des aspects de ce conflit – l'exploitation délibérée de la question des réfugiés pour contester l'existence même de l'État juif. Bravo au sénateur Kirk et à son équipe pour avoir eu la sagesse et le courage de commencer l'effort pour aborder les réalités désagréables, initiant un changement qui va finalement parvenir au cœur du conflit.

Massacres en Syrie : la doctrine Obama en action

Guy Millière

dreuz.info, 30 mai 2012

Il n’est pas de bon ton de critiquer Barack Obama en France où il a toujours le statut d’un demi dieu, ou peu s’en faut. Il serait carrément sacrilège de le traiter de criminel de guerre. Cette expression pouvant paraître excessive, j’en choisirai une autre, et je dirai que c’est un irresponsable dont l’irresponsabilité fait des morts par centaines, si ce n’est par milliers. A son tableau de chasse, il y a l’arrivée des islamistes au pouvoir au Maroc et en Tunisie, le chaos qui règne en Egypte et en Libye, le pillage des arsenaux du régime Kadhafi et la dissémination de leur contenu vers l’Afrique subsaharienne, où vient de naître la République islamique de l’Azawad dans le Nord du Mali. On peut ajouter l’abandon de l’Irak à l’Iran et le retour, programmé, des talibans en Afghanistan, la mainmise accentuée du Hezbollah sur le Liban et le glissement progressif de la Turquie vers l’islam radical sans que celle-ci quitte l’Otan.

On pourrait ajouter aussi l’avancée de l’Iran vers l’arme nucléaire sans que des sanctions efficaces aient été prises (Obama a toujours refusé des sanctions efficaces, celles touchant la Banque centrale d’Iran par exemple), et l’abandon des modérés en Syrie au profit d’une cohorte menée par les Frères musulmans, eux-mêmes soutenus par le Qatar et l’Arabie Saoudite. Face à l’Iran, la plus grande crainte d’Obama était qu’Israël décide d’agir. Et il s’est employé à ce qu’Israël n’agisse pas, en contribuant à faire divulguer les projets d’action israéliens. Il est parvenu à obtenir du gouvernement israélien une promesse de non intervention pour une durée de six mois, qui conduira après les élections présidentielles de novembre, ce aux fins, a-t-il dit, d’obtenir un « accord » de Khamenei par l’entremise de la Russie.

Face à la Syrie, ce qu’Obama ne voulait pas était trancher. Et il s’est employé à ne pas avoir à trancher et à laisser le bain de sang se poursuivre. Il a, sur ce plan, l’intention de parvenir à un accord avec la Russie, qui soutient le régime Assad et entend garder sa base militaire à Tartous et avec l’Iran, sans offusquer le Qatar, l’Arabie Saoudite et la Turquie, ce qui ne sera pas simple (se courber devant tout ce monde à la fois n’est effectivement pas simple). Obama espère parvenir à l’accord dans la période de six mois susdite.

Les effets concrets de cette politique sont que l’Iran sait disposer de six mois de tranquillité pour vaquer à ses occupations et, fort du soutien de la Russie, peut envoyer des combattants en Syrie soutenir Assad. Ils sont qu’Assad sait ne pas risquer une intervention directe et pouvoir garder les mains libres. Les Casques bleus en Syrie font ce qu’ils font partout ailleurs, ils regardent passer les balles et ils comptent les cadavres. Les envoyés de l’ONU font ce qu’ils savent faire : ils parlent pour ne rien dire. Les tueurs font eux aussi ce qu’ils savent faire : ils tuent. Que va-t-il se passer ?

L’Iran va sans aucun doute accélérer ses travaux nucléaires, et il n’y aura pour les retarder que des virus informatiques, fort heureusement très performants. Obama et ses amis russes ne parviendront à aucun accord avec Khamenei avant l’élection présidentielle américaine : des réunions comme celle qui vient de se tenir à Bagdad se tiendront encore, avec Catherine Ashton et un Chinois pour jouer les figurants. Les communiqués finaux diront : « dialogue constructif, pas d’avancé significative ». Si Obama est réélu, il proposera sans doute un échange de l’abandon de son programme nucléaire par l’Iran contre une dénucléarisation générale du Proche-Orient qui visera au premier chef Israël. Israël devra, alors, agir, ou se soumettre, en sachant que les promesses de l’Iran ne vaudront que pour ceux qui croient aux promesses de l’Iran. Si Obama est battu, il sera urgent de changer d’orientation, vraiment urgent.

Que va-t-il se passer, disais-je. Le régime Assad va sans doute faire son possible pour massacrer le plus grand nombre d’opposants dans le minimum de temps. Puis, il pourra y avoir une continuation du régime Assad sans Assad, avec quelques compensations pour les Frères musulmans. Il n’est pas certain que les Frères musulmans acceptent le marché, d’autant plus que du côté sunnite, interviennent des gens d’al Qaida en nombre croissant. Si Obama est réélu, un régime Assad sans Assad allié à l’Iran sera en place dans un contexte où la guerre civile pourrait fort bien continuer. Si Obama est battu, il faudra là aussi changer d’orientation. Et ce sera très difficile. 

Bilan global pour l’heure? Les Frères musulmans sont les grands gagnants de l’hiver islamique qui a déferlé sur le monde arabe. Il n’est pas certain qu’ils seront gagnants aussi en Syrie. Le soutien qu’Obama leur a apporté jusque là se heurte, là, à la complaisance d’Obama vis-à-vis de l’Iran et de la Russie. Israël est isolé régionalement et se trouve contraint de tolérer la politique d’apaisement d’Obama vis-à-vis de l’Iran et de la Russie, jusqu’à novembre.

Les Etats-Unis sous Obama en sont réduits à être les alliés des Frères musulmans et à se soumettre, pour l’essentiel, aux exigences russes et iraniennes. Les Etats-Unis n’ont jamais été dans un tel abaissement depuis les années Carter. Et même Carter ne s’est pas aussi mal conduit qu’Obama vis-à-vis d’Israël, c’est dire. Il faudra un jour compter les morts provoqués par la politique Obama sur la planète. Mais il restera sacrilège de le traiter de criminel de guerre, bien sûr.

 La naïveté de l’Occident face au nucléaire iranien

Centre des Affaires Publiques et de l'État, Jérusalem, 31 mai 2012

Ces jours-ci nous entendons dans les capitales occidentales un son de cloche qui laisse à penser que les Iraniens sont cette fois-ci assez sérieux dans la volonté de discuter de leur programme nucléaire. Des diplomates soulignent que l’Iran s’est présenté aux pourparlers devant les représentants du Forum 5 + 1 (les cinq pays permanents du Conseil de Sécurité + l’Allemagne) sans conditions préalables. Yukiya Amano, directeur de l’Agence Internationale pour l’Energie Atomique (AIEA) a même déclaré qu’un accord entre les deux parties pourrait être signé prochainement. Catherine Ashton, la représentante de la Communauté européenne, a estimé que ces discussions « s’achemineront vers le début de la fin du programme nucléaire de l’Iran ».

Ces estimations optimistes, en particulier celles d’Ashton, sont incompatibles avec les amères expériences que l’Occident avait subies lors des précédents pourparlers. Déjà en 2002, suite à la première divulgation de l’infrastructure iranienne pour l’enrichissement d’uranium, une commission composée de la Grande-Bretagne, de la France, et de l’Allemagne (UE-3) avait négocié avec l’Iran pour qu’il cesse ses travaux. Le 21 octobre 2003, à Téhéran, le Forum UE-3 avait conclu avec les Iraniens « de suspendre toute activité d’enrichissement de l’uranium » ainsi que de cesser les efforts de production du plutonium. La suite est bien connue et illustre parfaitement les intentions de l’Iran. Ce pays n’est pas capable de respecter ses engagements et ses promesses.

Après la signature de cet accord, les diplomates iraniens ont trouvé toutes sortes de prétexte et ont affirmé que cet accord n’était valable que sur l’introduction du gaz uranium dans les centrifugeuses de l’usine de Nataz et qu’il ne se référait pas à toutes les autres étapes préliminaires nécessaires au processus. Les Iraniens ont réitéré leur droit de poursuive la construction de centrifugeuses. L’étape de pré-enrichissement est surnommée « conversion » et elle comprend l’utilisation de l’uranium intitulé « gâteau jaune ». C’est par ce processus que le gaz produit est introduit dans les centrifugeuses. En 2003, l’Iran n’avait pas encore de site de conversion. En 2005, juste après les négociations avec les Occidentaux, les Iraniens avaient déjà réussi à compléter l’installation à Ispahan et l’avaient mis en marche, et ce en proclamant la fin de la suspension du programme d’enrichissement.

Dans un discours tenu secret, Hassan Rouhani, chef de la délégation iranienne aux négociations, s’était vanté d’affirmer que les Iraniens ont profité de ces négociations pour pouvoir installer leur site à Ispahan. La manière dont l’Iran a utilisé les négociations est l’une des pierres angulaires de sa diplomatie essentiellement basée sur la diversion et l’abus de confiance. Dans son ouvrage, « régime islamique », publié avant la révolution de 1979, Ayatollah Khomeiny, explique à ses fidèles que « dans chaque discussion nous devons garder le principe de la « Takya », nous devons présenter un certain souhait tout en cachant nos véritables intentions. » Ainsi fonctionne la diplomatie iranienne au sujet du programme nucléaire. L’ancien ambassadeur britannique à Téhéran, Sir Denis Wright, expliqua le phénomène en disant un jour: « les Iraniens disent le contraire de ce qu’ils pensent et font le contraire de ce qu’ils disent ».

Ces remarques ne sont pas des propos racistes mais reflètent bien la manière dont est appliquée la tradition religieuse -chiite dans les débats diplomatiques disputés aujourd’hui entre l’Iran et l’occident. Dans toute négociation avec l’Iran le principe de transparence demeure essentiel. Le contrôle des installations secrètes a été à plusieurs reprises retardé en violation flagrante des engagements. Les Iraniens avaient profité du laps de temps pour enterrer les preuves incriminantes.

Pour exemple, les Iraniens ont retiré le carrelage des murs dans le site électrique de Kalia, pour empêcher les inspecteurs de l’AIEA à vérifier les restes des produits radioactifs issus des essais effectués dans les nouvelles centrifugeuses.  Dans l’institut de recherche de Levisane, destiné au recyclage à des fins militaires, les Iraniens ont simplement détruit six bâtiments et ont même retiré de profondes couches de terre afin qu’on ne puisse prélever des échantillons radioactifs. En janvier 2005, au cours d’une inspection à Parchine, les Iraniens ont également limité le mouvement des inspecteurs à certains bâtiments précis. Nous devrions comprendre que chez les ayatollahs, la différence existe bien entre un accord de principe et entre ce que l’on pourra faire sur le terrain.

Toutefois, afin de répondre à la question si l’Iran respecterait les accords conclus avec l’Occident, il est important de ne pas s’attarder uniquement sur les détails techniques. Déjà en juillet 1991, le guide suprême iranien, ayatollah Ali Khamenei expliquait que la stratégie de la sécurité nationale de l’Iran est surtout expansionniste. Le général Kassem Suleiman, commandant des forces d’al Qouds au sein des Gardiens de la révolution, a affirmé récemment : « l’Irak et le sud Liban sont sous contrôle de Téhéran. » Autrement dit, l’Occident ne négocie pas avec un des pays possédant une infrastructure nucléaire, tel que le Japon ou la Suède mais avec un Etat aux ambitions hégémoniques qui ignore éperdument l’optimisme qui s’est emparé actuellement chez les diplomates occidentaux!

OBAMA’S MINIONS: PANETTA, CLINTON, GUTMAN AND THE SELLING-OUT OF ISRAEL

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION REACHES NADIR AS PANETTA
URGES ISRAEL TO “GET TO THE DAMNED TABLE” WITH PA
Frederick Krantz

The Arab world is in turmoil, as the high promise of the “Arab spring” is everywhere descending—from Tunisia to Egypt to Yemen to (soon) Syria—into the triumph of the Islamists and Muslim Brothers. And meanwhile Abbas and the PA, rejecting negotiations with Israel and recognition of it as a Jewish state, continue their unilateral drive for UN recognition and seek to unite with Gaza’s overtly terrorist and rejectionist Hamas rulers.

Yet precisely at this moment of both great clarity and great peril for Israel, one further radicalized by Iran’s looming achievement of a nuclear weapon, the new American Secretary of Defense, Leon E. Panetta, angrily advises threatened Israel, America’s only reliable ally in the Middle East: “Get to the damn table!”

This is an expression of utter and final Administration bankruptcy, the absolute nadir of Obama’s failed Middle East foreign policy. Obama has—repeatedly and willfully ignoring all the evident realities—consistently disregarded Israel’s situation and instead played to the Muslim regimes and public. This failure runs from the outright lies of Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech to the precipitate abandonment of longtime ally Hosni Mubarak, from the failed efforts to negotiate with the Iranian mullahs to the (related) ignoring and abandonment of the Iranian people’s protest movement, and from the repeated attempts to appease the Syrian dictator to America’s muted response as he murders his own protesting citizens.

And now—in the face of the sustained refusal of Abbas to sit down with Israel, his vicious rejection of Israel’s historical claims in his specious UN speech, his attempt to reunite with a movement even Obama’s own government considers terrorist—what is America’s advice? A repetition of the old, stale, failed “two states living side by side in peace” mantra (rejected by Abbas), an assertion of Israel’s growing regional “isolation” clearly (and wrongly) implying it is Israel’s fault, and an angry injunction to sit down with those whose refusal of negotiations expresses a rejection of Israel’s very legitimacy.

If the U.S. had a parliamentary system, the Republicans would, pointing to his long record of Middle East incompetence and failure, no doubt be moving a non-confidence vote in President Obama, his Secretaries of State and Defense, and his government. As it is, Senate and House Foreign Affairs committees should demand that Panetta (and Hilary Clinton) appear at hearings on Obama’s failed Middle East policy, and the next Republican Presidential candidates’ debate should focus on this latest stunning example of Administrative incompetence and/or hostility.

Panetta’s deplorable remarks also indicate that it is high time that Jewish organizations go into high gear to point out that Israel faces not only an aggressive and untrustworthy Palestinian non-partner in the so-called “peace process”, and not only a rapidly deteriorating regional framework (cf. Egypt, Syria, Turkey, and Iran), but also an objectively unfriendly U.S. Administration. Panetta and his friends seem unable, or unwilling, to grasp that, post-Mubarak, the 1979 peace treaty with Egypt—the key cornerstone since 1979 of Middle East stability—is gravely imperiled, and that, given Teheran’s functionally unimpeded nuclear drive, Israel’s very existence is threatened.

This politically tin-eared, morally blind, and politically passive (if not paralyzed) Administration, ideologically frozen into political and diplomatic immobility, cannot, and will not, change. The only remedy now for the deep harm, and great danger, its anti-Israel Middle East policy has created is to do everything possible to make sure that a Republican  President and Administration occupies the White House after November, 2012.

(Prof. Krantz is Director of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research,
and editor of
CIJR’s Daily Isranet Briefing, ISRAFAX journal, and Blog.)

SCARY US VIEWS
Editorial

Jerusalem Post, December 5, 2011

In recent days, there has been a truly frightening articulation of the US administration’s perception of Israel vis-à-vis the Muslim world. [Last] Friday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta essentially blamed Israel for its own “increasing isolation,” urging the Jewish state to reach out to its neighbors.

He suggested that Israel make diplomatic inroads with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Egypt, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s increasingly Islamist and anti-Israel Turkey, and vulnerable Jordan, a country whose leadership—for the sake of self-preservation—has been making concessions to its own Muslim Brotherhood. And when asked at the end of his speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington what operative steps Israel could make to advance negotiations with the Palestinians, Panetta said: “Just get to the damn table.”

In other words, the clearly exasperated Panetta believes that if only stubborn Israel would make more concessions to the Palestinians, regional animosity toward Israel would miraculously evaporate after decades of incitement.

Just two days before Panetta made his disturbing comments, US Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman, the son of a Polish Holocaust survivor, basically blamed Israel for Muslim anti-Semitism in Europe.…

First, [Gutman] noted the “significant anger” and “yes, perhaps hatred and indeed sometimes an all too growing intimidation and violence directed at Jews generally as a result of the continuing tensions between Israel and the Palestinian territories and other Arab neighbors in the Middle East.” But instead of denouncing Muslims who attack European Jews because Israel stubbornly insists on defending itself…Gutman attempted to understand these outbursts of violence as a legitimate reaction and, therefore, fundamentally different from “traditional” forms of anti-Semitism.

Though one man was talking about Muslim perceptions in Europe and the other focused on Muslim political leadership in the region, both Panetta and Gutman had one thing in common: a maddening insistence on mixing up cause and effect.

No, Mr. Panetta, Israel’s isolation has not deepened as a result of anything that it has done (besides existing). In Turkey, in the Gaza Strip, in Tunisia and now in Egypt, governments have been voted into power—in democratic elections—that have, or soon will, pursue foreign policies exceedingly antagonistic toward the Jewish state. After all, what interest would any Arab country in the region have in strengthening ties with Israel at a time when its citizens, given the chance to choose, are expressing a distinct preference for a particularly fundamentalist, illiberal and anti-Western—not to mention anti-Israel and anti-Semitic—strain of Islamic leadership?

What Panetta should have said—and didn’t—was that in light of the increasing hostility directed toward Israel by an increasing number of Muslim states in the region, the US reaffirms its commitment to Israel’s security. And Mr. Gutman, the hundreds of attacks on innocent European Jews perpetrated by Muslims purportedly in response to Israel’s settlement policy in east Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria or in response to its attempts to defend itself through military means are no less irrational than any other type of anti-Semitism.

Just as Jews such as Gutman’s father were not responsible for the sort of anti-Semitism directed at them during the Holocaust, so, too, is it unfair to point to Israeli policies as triggering Muslim violence against European Jews.…

The sorts of views held by Gutman and Panetta are, unfortunately, not uncommon. But it is more than just unfortunate when these views are held by men who have a critical influence on US foreign policy. It is downright scary, especially in light of Israel’s growing need for American support as radical changes sweep the region.

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE PANETTA SHOWS
HOW THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION
IS SELLING OUT ISRAEL…AND US INTERESTS
Barry Rubin

Pajamas Media, December 3, 2011

…In a major address on U.S. Middle East policy to the Brookings Institution U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta gave us a clear picture of the Obama administration’s view of the region.… We now know the following regarding Obama’s policy: It is dangerously and absurdly wrong. This administration totally and completely, dangerously and disastrously for U.S. interests misunderstands the Middle East.…

In his speech, Panetta bashed Israel based on a ridiculously false premise. Here it is: “I understand the view that this is not the time to pursue peace, and that the Arab awakening further imperils the dream of a safe and secure, Jewish and democratic Israel. But I disagree with that view.… The problem right now is we can’t get them to the damn table, to at least sit down and begin to discuss their differences.”

First, there is a peculiar phrase that I have not seen used even once to describe the Middle East events of 2011, “Arab Awakening” instead of “Arab Spring.” This apparently comes from the title of a new book about these events. But what is the origin of this phrase? The Arab Awakening was the famous book written by George Antonius advocating Arab nationalism and opposition to Zionism in 1938. The Arab Awakening began a half-century pan-Arab struggle against Israel’s creation and existence. Might this not give us a hint of what the new “Arab Awakening” is going to do?… Within two years of Antonius’s book, the form the Arab Awakening took was an alliance with Nazi Germany. One of the main allies of Berlin was the Muslim Brotherhood, now coming into power in Tunisia and Egypt.

Interesting parallels. But there are three other major questions raised in Panetta’s statement.

First, does the current “Arab Awakening” imperil Israel? Yes, of course it does: By changing a reasonably friendly Egyptian government into a totally hostile Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi dominated political system closely allied with Hamas, the Gaza Strip’s ruler, and by helping establish Islamist regimes in Tunisia and Libya allied with this Muslim Brotherhood International. The changes create a four-member alliance intent on wiping Israel off the map. Add to that Islamist domination of Lebanon by Hizballah, an Islamist regime in Turkey, and the continuing threat from Iran and you’ve got quite a regional situation.

Second, and more interestingly, why is the above true? The answer is as follows:

–Democracy in theory is admirable but when you have masses imbued with very radical views, strong Islamist movements, and weak moderate ones, the election winners will be extremely radical Islamists. By winning massive victories, facing a weak (even sympathetic) United States, and seeing even more extreme forces becoming so popular (the Salafists in Egypt), the Islamists are emboldened to be even more radical in their behavior. Who’s going to stop them? We are thus not facing a springtime of democracy but a springtime of extremism.

–The Islamists don’t want peace with Israel on any terms. They want its destruction. They will not be dissuaded by a peace agreement. They will do anything possible—starting with demagoguery and ending with terrorism or even war—to block such a diplomatic solution. How can Israeli action reconcile those who don’t want peace?

–Not only is the United States not opposing this development; it is supporting it. In other words, U.S. policy is intensifying the threat to Israel, not helping Israel.

Third, why are there no negotiations? As the history of the issue since January 2009 shows, it is the refusal of the Palestinian Authority to negotiate with Israel. If Panetta and the Obama administration were either wise or honest they would acknowledge this fact. Instead, they blame Israel.… Consider Panetta’s statement: “I believe security is dependent on a strong military but it is also dependent on strong diplomacy. And unfortunately, over the past year, we’ve seen Israel’s isolation from its traditional security partners in the region grow.”

But why has it grown? Because of the advance of Islamist radical regimes and movements which are not tolerant of Israel’s security needs or in fact of Israel’s existence.… [Yet] Panetta’s suggestion…is that Israel should mend relations with such “traditional security partners.” Specifically, he stated, “Israel can reach out and mend fences with those who share an interest in regional stability—countries like Turkey and Egypt, as well as Jordan.”

That statement is false. Israel can’t reach out and mend fences with Turkey and Egypt because they do not share an interest in regional stability.… They are countries that want revolutionary change in the Middle East. And this claim takes on special irony since Israel must now not just mend the fence but build an entirely new fence to protect itself from cross-border attacks from Egypt. [Also], Turkey today is not the Turkey of the past. Israel had good relations with Turkey when it was governed by center-right or social democratic parties. Today Turkey is governed by Islamists who hate Israel. Doesn’t Panetta understand the difference? No! Now that’s scary.

Here’s the truth: Under the Obama administration, the Islamist regime in Turkey has replaced Israel as America’s number-one Middle East friend and advisor. And this is a government about which a half-dozen years ago Israel’s ambassador told an American counterpart (as we see on Wikileaks) that this regime hates Israel and hates Jews. That message is in a State Department cable.…

There is one more shockingly absurd pieces of advice Panetta has for Israel. “This is not impossible [for Israel to try to mend fences]. If the gestures are rebuked, the world will see those rebukes for what they are. And that is exactly why Israel should pursue them.…” This is precisely the same advice given regarding the 1990s’ peace process, the freeze of construction on settlements, and the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. And every time the world doesn’t see. After the risk is taken (and Israel’s security suffers), and the concessions are made (and Israelis die), the world is even more critical of Israel and repeats, as Panetta does, that Israel has done nothing for peace.

These are harsh words about the Obama administration and for those who don’t understand the current situation in the Middle East they will no doubt seem partisan, extreme, and alarmist. This is the worst tragedy of all: sadly and regrettably they are quite true.

AN ALLY NO MORE
Caroline B. Glick

Jerusalem Post, December 5, 2011

With vote tallies in for Egypt’s first round of parliamentary elections in it is abundantly clear that Egypt is on the fast track to becoming a totalitarian Islamic state. The first round of voting took place in Egypt’s most liberal, cosmopolitan cities. And still the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists received more than 60 percent of the vote. Run-off elections for 52 seats will by all estimates increase their representation. And then in the months to come, Egyptian voters in the far more Islamist Nile Delta and Sinai will undoubtedly provide the forces of jihadist Islam with an even greater margin of victory.

Until the US-supported overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt served as the anchor of the US alliance system in the Arab world. The Egyptian military is US-armed, US-trained and US-financed. The Suez Canal is among the most vital waterways in the world for the US Navy and the global economy. Due to Mubarak’s commitment to stemming the tide of jihadist forces that threatened his regime, under his rule Egypt served as a major counter-terror hub in the US-led war against international jihad.

Given Egypt’s singular importance to US strategic interests in the Arab world, the Obama administration’s response to the calamitous election results has been shocking. Rather than sound the alarm bells, US President Barack Obama has celebrated the results as a victory for “democracy.” Rather than warn Egypt that it will face severe consequences if it completes its Islamist transformation, the Obama administration has turned its guns on the first country that will pay a price for Egypt’s Islamic revolution: Israel.

Speaking at the annual policy conclave in Washington sponsored by the leftist Brookings Institute’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hammered Israel, the only real ally the US has left in the Middle East after Mubarak’s fall. Clinton felt it necessary—in the name of democracy—to embrace the positions of Israel’s radical Left against the majority of Israelis.

The same Secretary of State that has heralded negotiations with the violent, fanatical misogynists of the Taliban; who has extolled Saudi Arabia where women are given ten lashes for driving, and whose State Department trained female-hating Muslim Brotherhood operatives in the lead-up to the current elections in Egypt accused Israel of repressing women’s rights. The only state in the region where women are given full rights and legal protections became the focus of Clinton’s righteous feminist wrath.

In the IDF, as in the rest of the country, religious coercion is forbidden. Jewish law prohibits men from listening to women’s voices in song. And recently, when a group of religious soldiers were presented with an IDF band that featured female vocalists, keeping faith with their Orthodox observance, they walked out of the auditorium. The vocalists were not barred from singing. They were not mistreated. They were simply not listened to.

Yet as far as Clinton is concerned, this is proof that women in Israel are under attack.… But Clinton didn’t end her diatribe with the IDF’s supposed war against women. She continued her onslaught by proclaiming that Israel is taking a knife to democracy by permitting its legislators to legislate laws that she doesn’t like. The legislative initiatives that provoked the ire of the US Secretary of State are the bills now under discussion which seek to curtail the ability to foreign governments to subvert Israel’s elected government by funding non-representative, anti-Israel political NGOs like B’Tselem and Peace Now.

In attacking Israel in the way she did, Clinton showed that she holds Israel to a unique standard of behavior. Whereas fellow Western democracies are within their rights when they undertake initiatives like banning Islamic headdresses from the public square, Israel is a criminal state for affording Jewish soldiers freedom of religion. Whereas the Taliban, who enslave women and girls in the most unspeakable fashion are worthy interlocutors, and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which supports universal female genital mutilation is moderate, Israel is an enemy of democracy for seeking to preserve the government’s ability to adopt policies that advance the country’s interests.…

Clinton’s assault on Israeli democracy and society came a day after Panetta attacked Israel’s handling of its strategic challenges. Whereas Clinton attacked Israel’s moral fiber, Panetta judged Israel responsible for every negative development in the regional landscape.…

Panetta demanded that Israel make renewed gestures as well to appease the Egyptians, Turks and Jordanians. He failed to notice that it was Turkey’s Islamist government, not Israel, that took a knife to the Turkish-Israeli strategic alliance. As for Egypt, rather than recognize the strategic implications for the US and Israel alike of Egypt’s transformation into an Islamic state, the US Defense Secretary demanded that Israel ingratiate itself with Egypt’s military junta. Thanks in large part to the Obama administration, that junta is now completely beholden to the Muslim Brotherhood. As for Jordan, again thanks to the US’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood and its aligned groups in Libya and Tunisia, the Hashemite regime is seeking to cut a deal with the Jordanian branch of the movement in a bid to save itself from Mubarak’s fate. Under these circumstances, there is no gesture that Israel can make to its neighbor to the east that would empower King Abdullah to extol the virtues of peace with the Jewish state.

Then there is Iran, and its nuclear weapons program. Panetta argued that an Israeli military strike against Iran would lead to regional war. But he failed to mention that a nuclear armed Iran will lead to nuclear proliferation in the Arab world and exponentially increase the prospect of a global nuclear war. Rather than face the dangers head on, Panetta’s message was that the Obama administration would rather accept a nuclear-armed Iran than support an Israeli military strike on Iran to prevent the mullocracy from becoming a nuclear-armed state.…

[Such positions are] certainly of a piece with classical anti-Semitic behavior. There is little qualitative difference between accusing Israeli society of destroying democracy for seeking to defend itself against foreign political subversion, and accusing Jews of destroying morality for failing to embrace foreign religious faiths. So too, there is little qualitative difference between blaming Israel for its isolation in the face of the Islamist takeover of the Arab world, and blaming the Jews for the rise of anti-Semites to power in places like Russia, Germany and Norway.

In truth, from Israel’s perspective, it really doesn’t make a difference whether these statements and the intellectual climate they represent stem from ideological myopia or from hatred of Jews. The end result is the same in either case: Under President Obama, the US government has become hostile to Israel’s national rights and strategic imperatives. Under Obama, the US is no longer Israel’s ally.

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION REACHES NADIR AS PANETTA URGES ISRAEL TO “GET TO THE DAMNED TABLE” WITH PA

The Arab world is in turmoil, as the high promise of the “Arab spring” is everywhere descending—from Tunisia to Egypt to Yemen to (soon) Syria—into the triumph of the Islamists and Muslim Brothers. And meanwhile Abbas and the PA, rejecting negotiations with Israel and recognition of it as a Jewish state, continue their unilateral drive for UN recognition and seek to unite with Gaza’s overtly terrorist and rejectionist Hamas rulers.

 

Yet precisely at this moment of both great clarity and great peril for Israel, one further radicalized by Iran’s looming achievement of a nuclear weapon, the new American Secretary of Defense, Leon E. Panetta, angrily advises threatened Israel, America’s only reliable ally in the Middle East: “Get to the damn table!”

 

This is an expression of utter and final Administration bankruptcy, the absolute nadir of Obama’s failed Middle East foreign policy. Obama has—repeatedly and willfully ignoring all the evident realities—consistently disregarded Israel’s situation and instead played to the Muslim regimes and public. This failure runs from the outright lies of Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech to the precipitate abandonment of longtime ally Hosni Mubarak, from the failed efforts to negotiate with the Iranian mullahs to the (related) ignoring and abandonment of the Iranian people’s protest movement, and from the repeated attempts to appease the Syrian dictator to America’s muted response as he murders his own protesting citizens.

 

And now—in the face of the sustained refusal of Abbas to sit down with Israel, his vicious rejection of Israel’s historical claims in his specious UN speech, his attempt to reunite with a movement even Obama’s own government considers terrorist—what is America’s advice? A repetition of the old, stale, failed “two states living side by side in peace” mantra (rejected by Abbas), an assertion of Israel’s growing regional “isolation” clearly (and wrongly) implying it is Israel’s fault, and an angry injunction to sit down with those whose refusal of negotiations expresses a rejection of Israel’s very legitimacy.

 

If the U.S. had a parliamentary system, the Republicans would, pointing to his long record of Middle East incompetence and failure, no doubt be moving a non-confidence vote in President Obama, his Secretaries of State and Defense, and his government. As it is, Senate and House Foreign Affairs committees should demand that Panetta (and Hilary Clinton) appear at hearings on Obama’s failed Middle East policy, and the next Republican Presidential candidates’ debate should focus on this latest stunning example of Administrative incompetence and/or hostility.

 

Panetta’s deplorable remarks also indicate that it is high time that Jewish organizations go into high gear to point out that Israel faces not only an aggressive and untrustworthy Palestinian non-partner in the so-called “peace process”, and not only a rapidly deteriorating regional framework (cf. Egypt, Syria, Turkey, and Iran), but also an objectively unfriendly U.S. Administration. Panetta and his friends seem unable, or unwilling, to grasp that, post-Mubarak, the 1979 peace treaty with Egypt—the key cornerstone since 1979 of Middle East stability—is gravely imperiled, and that, given Teheran’s functionally unimpeded nuclear drive, Israel’s very existence is threatened.

 

This politically tin-eared, morally blind, and politically passive (if not paralyzed) Administration, ideologically frozen into political and diplomatic immobility, cannot, and will not, change. The only remedy now for the deep harm, and great danger, its anti-Israel Middle East policy has created is to do everything possible to make sure that a Republican  President and Administration occupies the White House after November, 2012.

 

(Prof. Krantz is Director of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research,
and editor of
CIJR’s Daily Isranet Briefing, ISRAFAX journal, and Blog.)