Tag: Ukraine

PUTIN WARNS WWIII “WOULD END CIVILIZATION” WHILE RUSSIA HELPS ISRAEL & U.S IN SYRIA

How Israel is Pulling Russia Away From Iran: Eli Lake, New York Post, June 4, 2018— Since Iran and Russia reached an agreement in the summer of 2015 to coordinate a military campaign to save the regime of Syria’s dictator, that war has held together an unholy alliance of those three states.

The Russian Collusion No One Cares About: Noah Rothman, Commentary, May 21, 2018— By now, those who began the Trump era convinced that the president was Vladimir Putin’s puppet are surely frustrated by the dearth of supporting evidence.

Ukraine: Is Russia Planning A New Invasion?: Judith Bergman, Gatestone Institute, May 1, 2018— This April marks the fourth year of the ongoing war in Ukraine between the Ukrainian military and Russian backed separatists in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics in eastern Ukraine…

Russia vs. the West: The Beginning of the End: Emil Avdaliani, BESA, May 13, 2018— Contrary to the much-touted opinion that Russia has been successful of late in projecting its influence across the former Soviet Union, Moscow’s influence has in fact significantly receded on the Eurasian continent.

On Topic Links

Putin Warns That a Nuclear ‘World War III’ Would End Civilization: Mark Moore, New York Post, June 7, 2018

Russia to Host its Annual National-Day Celebration for First Time in Jerusalem: JNS, June 6, 2018

As Iran and Assad Move in Southern Syria, US and Russia Must Discuss Response: Seth J. Frantzman, The Hill, May 31, 2018

Dramatic Understandings Between Israel and Russia: Mordechai Sones, Arutz Sheva, May 28, 2018

 

HOW ISRAEL IS PULLING RUSSIA AWAY FROM IRAN

Eli Lake

New York Post, June 4, 2018

 

Since Iran and Russia reached an agreement in the summer of 2015 to coordinate a military campaign to save the regime of Syria’s dictator, that war has held together an unholy alliance of those three states. It worked. Bashar al-Assad has withstood the uprising.

Now, as that war comes to a close, the Iranian-Russian alliance that saved Assad appears to be fraying. Consider recent developments. Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Assad foreign military forces will exit Syria at the onset of a political process to end the war. Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said all foreign forces — a reference to Iran and its allied militias — should immediately leave the Daraa province, which borders Israel. On Friday, a leading Arab newspaper reported that Israel and Russia reached an agreement this week for just that.

All of this is significant for a few reasons. To start, being forced to withdraw from Syria would be a major blow to Iran’s prestige at a moment when its economy is bracing for crippling sanctions following America’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal. The removal of Iran and its allied militias from Syria would stymie Tehran’s plans for a land bridge to southern Lebanon — a supply line of advanced weapons to Iran’s most important client, Hezbollah.

Preventing a permanent Iranian presence in Syria has been a top priority for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the last two years. In 2017, he pressed the Trump administration to commit to challenge Iranian forces in Syria after victory in the campaign against ISIS. He wasn’t successful, so he tried something different: He went to Moscow.

Israel has had a channel to Moscow since Russia first established its air presence in Syria in fall 2015. That channel, though, was primarily to warn Russia’s military when Israel launched airstrikes on convoys and shipments of arms to Hezbollah.

In the last year, Netanyahu and his top ministers have stepped up diplomacy with Moscow to make the strategic case that it’s not in Russia’s interest to allow Iran to turn Syria into a client state like Lebanon, according to US and Israeli officials.

The latest such visit was on Thursday when the Israeli defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, flew to Moscow to meet with his Russian counterpart. Following those meetings, Lieberman tweeted: “The state of Israel appreciates Russia’s understanding of our security concerns, particularly regarding the situation at our northern border.”

So far, that understanding has resulted in a new policy from Russia toward Israeli airstrikes in Syria. Russia has the ability to protect Iranian forces with its own air force and air defense systems in Syria, but it has opted not to use them to stop Israel.

An element of the Israeli strategy has also been to back up the diplomacy with force in Syria. In the last two months, the Israelis have gone farther into Syrian territory to strike Iranian targets than they had before.

In April, Israeli airstrikes hit a base deep in Syrian territory, where Iranian commanders were coordinating militias. On May 10, a day after Trump announced the US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement, Iran and Israel exchanged strikes, with Israel hitting major Iranian infrastructure inside Syria.

What’s notable about the May 10 strike is that no Russian officials condemned it. The day before, Netanyahu was in Moscow for meetings with Putin. Netanyahu told Israeli reporters after he returned home that he did not expect Russia to try to protect Iranian targets from Israel.

It’s too soon to say whether Israel’s diplomacy with Russia will result in the removal of Iran and its allied militias from Syria altogether. A senior Israeli diplomat warned me this week no agreement has been made for all of Syria, and that Israel wouldn’t be satisfied with an agreement to only keep Iranian forces away from its border. Even so, Netanyahu has succeeded diplomatically where the Obama and Trump administrations had failed. The prime minister understands something the Americans have forgotten: Diplomacy can be effective only if the other side believes you are willing to use force if it fails.

 

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THE RUSSIAN COLLUSION NO ONE CARES ABOUT                                                                     Noah Rothman

Commentary, May 21, 2018

By now, those who began the Trump era convinced that the president was Vladimir Putin’s puppet are surely frustrated by the dearth of supporting evidence. Donald Trump has spent his tenure repaying the Russian Federation for its interference in the 2016 election by imposing stiff sanctions on the Kremlin and its associates, arming the regime’s opponents, and degrading the capabilities of its allies. While there are few areas where Washington and Moscow have collaborated, that is not to say that they do not exist. If there is one particularly important arena where the White House has been happy to cede turf to the Russian president, it is in Syria.

President Donald Trump has made no secret of his desire to see the United States extricate itself from its commitments in Northwestern Syria as soon as possible. In early April, the president announced that all U.S. troops in Syria would be withdrawing “like very soon”—an announcement that confused his State Department and contradicted the statements of his commanding generals, who had assured the public that the American mission in Syria has only just begun. Cooler heads might have convinced Trump not to create a power vacuum in the heart of the former ISIS caliphate on a whim, but the president seems unpersuaded that either U.S. interests or allies in the region are of much value. If America cannot simply cut ties with its partners in Syria, it seems, it will simply allow those relationships to wither on the vine.

Last week, the administration announced that it would cut off all non-humanitarian aid to groups on the ground in Northern Syria. Some $200 million in recovery funds for the region devastated in the fight against ISIS were frozen in late March, and they are not going to be restored. If the civilian infrastructure devastated in that part of Syria is going to be repaired, it won’t be with American reconstruction funds. Among the organizations that the White House has abandoned is the Syrian Civil Defense, known colloquially as the “White Helmets,” which have attracted positive attention from American lawmakers for their highly-publicized efforts to rescue civilians from collapsed buildings over the course of the seven-year Syrian civil war.

All of this will be welcome news in Moscow. Russia has alleged that the “White Helmets” staged a recent chemical weapons attack on civilians in the Damascus suburb of Daouma. Moscow-backed mercenaries and Assad regime forces have repeatedly attempted to make inroads in the territory Americans occupy east of the Euphrates, recently resulting in a bloody armed confrontation between U.S. forces and Russian contractors. A U.S. withdrawal from Northern Syria would allow Russia and Iran to flood the zone while allowing Turkey a substantial presence in the North (where it could at finally neutralize America’s Kurdish allies). More troubling still, American withdrawal could provide enough space for Islamist organizations like ISIS or the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra group to reconstitute themselves. That would serve Assad’s purposes just fine. The existence of brutal Islamist groups creates a favorable contrast with his genocidal but secular regime, and it is a contrast Assad has skillfully deployed to generate Western sympathy for his ruling cabal.

The Trump administration has long sought to enlist Russia’s help in its effort to extricate U.S. troops from that conflict, no matter the costs to U.S. interests. In early 2017, the Trump administration entertained the prospect of ceding its position in Syria as a bargaining chip that, it was thought, might convince Russia to abandon its Iranian allies. It became clear that overture failed when Russian officials began telling regional governments like Israel that Iran’s military presence in Syria was a permanent feature of the landscape.

The Trump administration’s belief that Russia could be convinced to share American aims in Syria did not abate even after the president ordered strikes on Assad regime targets. In July of last year, the Trump administration ended a CIA program that armed and trained anti-Assad regime rebels in the hopes of currying favor with Russia. The president has all but surrendered the post-war planning process to Russia, which began ironing out a power-sharing arrangement with its Turkish and Iranian partners last November.

Despite the souring of Russo-American relations, the Trump White House still appears to cling to the notion that Russian and U.S. interests can align in Syria. In truth, the only alignment is that both Washington and Moscow want to see American soldiers and their Western allies leave. Yet for both the dovish left and the isolationist right, this is the kind of collusion that raises no eyebrows. It is the sacrifice of American influence and allies that generates no calls for Trump’s resignation from the usual suspects on the left. Conservatives, too, are loath to reconcile their conclusion that the “collusion” narrative is hollow with this conspicuous display of deference toward Moscow.

If there is one thing recent history has taught us, it is that Russia is not a reliable steward of U.S. interests. Americans who rediscover their mistrust of Vladimir Putin’s goals only when it suits their partisan interests are invested in a political game. Unfortunately, the stakes are so much higher than that.

 

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UKRAINE: IS RUSSIA PLANNING A NEW INVASION?

Judith Bergman

Gatestone Institute, May 1, 2018

 

This April marks the fourth year of the ongoing war in Ukraine between the Ukrainian military and Russian backed separatists in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics in eastern Ukraine, also known as the Donbas region. Prior to the beginning of the war in eastern Ukraine in April 2014, Russia annexed Crimea.

Russia’s aggression into Ukraine came in direct violation of its obligations under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum. Under the memorandum, in exchange for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons, Russia reaffirmed its “obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine” and promised that none of its weapons would ever be used against Ukraine except in self-defense or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

Now, the question of further Russian or Russian-backed military operations in Ukraine has surfaced. In March, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko asserted that Russia has been strengthening its military presence on the border of Ukraine. According to Poroshenko: “For more than one year, we have been repelling Russia’s military aggression on the front line… In his latest report General Zabrodsky reported in detail on the strengthening of the military presence of the Russian Federation along our border and continued stay of Russia’s regular troops in the occupied territories”.

Poroshenko explained that the Russians have, since 2014, deployed and reorganized their forces in a way that will be able to support a rapid invasion both from the north and from east of Ukraine. “Several mechanized divisions are fully prepared for intervention,” he said.

In April, Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak also claimed that Russia “has massed 19 battalion tactical groups of the combat echelon and reserve forces with over 77,000 troops,” adding that they have almost 1,000 tanks, 2,300 combat vehicles, over 1,100 artillery systems and about 400 multiple rocket launchers. According to Poltorak, 40,000 Russian troops, which he detailed as an integral part of the Southern Military District of the Russian Armed Forces, are stationed in the Donbas. Also according to Poltorak, in 2017 Russia’s military forces shelled Ukrainian army positions in Donbas more than 15,000 times.

There appears to be some internal disagreement on the exact number of Russian forces amassing on Ukraine. At the Kyiv Security Forum, on April 13, the chairman of Ukraine’s National Defense and Security Council Oleksandr Turchynov noted: “After four years of war, Russia has at least 260,000 troops deployed along the Ukrainian border, in addition to another 35,000 troops in the Donbas and 30,000 in Crimea, who could be used to conduct a large-scale continental war… The Russian aggressor is preparing a powerful force in Crimea — and not only to protect its presence there. And the two occupation army corps in the Donbas have been positioned to provide cover and buy time for the main force to deploy at the borderline.”

Turchynov also warned that the 260,000 Russian troops near the Ukrainian border are ready to advance with 3,500 tanks, 11,000 soft-skin vehicles, 4,000 artillery units, and over 1,000 multiple launch rocket systems. Russia, according to Tuchynov, has also fielded four guided-missile brigades in the region. The brigades, he says, are armed with Iskander-K cruise missile systems, which have a range of up to 2,500 kilometers. Apart from investing in conventional arms, Russia is also enhancing its hybrid warfare capabilities, “including terror attacks and subversive actions,” in Ukraine, Turchynov said.

First Deputy Head of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), Viktor Kononenko, also recently reported that Russia might be planning another attempt to destabilize Ukraine in the fall. He said that the SBU has information on Russia’s plans, including “the existence of a group in Putin’s entourage, which has as goal to create prerequisites for the introduction of Russian troops to Ukraine in autumn under the pretext of protecting the Russian-speaking population”. He added that Moscow allegedly plans to use criminals and other criminal-related structures “for beating participants of pro-Russian events and religious processions.”

The war in Ukraine has already exacted a steep price. On April 21, UN representative to Ukraine, Neal Walker, announced that, “After four years of conflict, 3.4 million people in Ukraine are struggling to cope with the impact of the humanitarian crisis and urgently require humanitarian assistance and protection”. More than 2,500 civilian men, women and children have been killed, and more than 9,000 injured in the past four years, according to the UN. Landmines in eastern Ukraine are affecting1.9 million people. “Last week,” Walker said, “landmines killed a family of four in eastern Ukraine. In 2017, over 235 civilians were killed or injured by landmines and other explosive remnants of war.”

In December 2017, humanitarian agencies launched a US$187 million appeal to reach more than 2.3 million of the most vulnerable people in Ukraine with assistance. 97% of this funding appeal remains unfunded. The world at large has forgotten the war in Ukraine. Despite the humanitarian toll on the region, the United States for the first four years of the war, refused to supply the Ukrainian government with lethal weapons. The Obama administration reportedly feared that sending lethal weapons to Ukraine might escalate the conflict with Russia.

Arguably, this lack of forceful response to Russian aggression against its “near abroad” only emboldened Russia further. So much so, apparently, that Russia felt confident launching airstrikes in 2015 on behalf of Syria’s President Bashar Assad against the people opposing him in the Syrian civil war. Undeterred by the US in both Ukraine and Syria, Russia had returned as a substantial military and political actor, not only in what has become known as the “post-Soviet space” — the area inhabited by the former republics of the Soviet Union, such as Ukraine — but in the Middle East, as well…

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

             

RUSSIA VS. THE WEST: THE BEGINNING OF THE END

Emil Avdaliani

BESA, May 13, 2018

Contrary to the much-touted opinion that Russia has been successful of late in projecting its influence across the former Soviet Union, Moscow’s influence has in fact significantly receded on the Eurasian continent. US pressure is important here, as are internal economic problems in Russia. But a closer look can easily reveal that it is the EU that has undermined Russian political, economic, and even cultural influence in eastern Europe and the former Soviet space. Moscow has lost influence the Baltic states, Moldova (at least in part), Ukraine, and Georgia, and is losing credibility in Armenia. Europe, meanwhile, has never been so united and unanimous in its internal as well as foreign policy actions.

Why has Europe never been so successful against Russia in the past? A partial answer lies in Europe’s unfortunate geography. The European continent represents a peninsula of Eurasia, with Russia right on Europe’s edge. Peace between them has been a fleeting phenomenon as each has tried to dominate or influence the other. Russia’s rise to power was basically a product of constant European internal fighting. There were times when the Continent was unified and Russia was threatened, but the creation of a truly unified European empire that could economically challenge Moscow in the long term was a daunting task.

The building of a European empire had at least three phases. Military victories were essential, but these did not provide a lasting foundation. A ruler needed a centralized administration and cooption of the local elites of large invaded states, something that could have taken decades to achieve: a virtually impossible task. Europe also had the problem that the continent was full of ambitious, technologically and militarily advanced states very much unwilling to abandon their freedom.

Even when a conquest of Europe was achieved (as in the case of Napoleon and Hitler), the continent faced its two “big enemies on the periphery,” Britain and Russia. London was willing to keep the balance of power among the European states while Moscow controlled Eastern Europe. This simple geography explains why throughout the centuries, a united Europe was not a viable project and peace with Russia was an unachievable goal. However, geopolitical developments in Eurasia since the breakup of the Soviet Union show that a united Europe is a plausible project when unified non-militarily. Modern Europe poses a serious challenge to Russia, as the battle between the two is – for the first time in history – in the economic sphere. Modern Europe is in fact a powerful economic and political machine based not on coercion, but on state and elite cooption.

Never before has Europe posed such a fundamental challenge to Moscow. Neither Napoleon nor Hitler worked towards the fundamental weakening of Russia, as a military conquest of Russia was impossible at the time. A fundamental weakening of Russia is only possible through the purposeful economic dominance of the territories around the Russian heartland (the modern western part of the Russian Federation).

That is what is now happening. Russia is losing to Europe in terms of competition and economic relevance. Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, and the Baltic states show how far Russian influence has receded into Eurasia. What is even more interesting is the fact that this process will continue unabated, at least for the near future. Russia will remain isolated while its immediate neighborhood will deepen its cooperation with the West.

Is Eurasia in the midst of a fundamental transformation? Will Russia’s weakening allow small states on its periphery and elsewhere in the Middle East to improve their geopolitical situation? There are plenty of indications to support this scenario.

 

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On Topic Links

Putin Warns That a Nuclear ‘World War III’ Would End Civilization: Mark Moore, New York Post, June 7, 2018—Dredging up Cold War-era rhetoric of mutual destruction, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Thursday that another world war could end civilization.

Russia to Host its Annual National-Day Celebration for First Time in Jerusalem: JNS, June 6, 2018—Russia has announced that it will host an annual “Russia Day” reception in the Sergei Courtyard in Jerusalem, better known as the Russian Compound, on June 15. Prior to this year, the celebration was conducted in Tel Aviv. This will be the first year that the event will take place in Jerusalem.

As Iran and Assad Move in Southern Syria, US and Russia Must Discuss Response: Seth J. Frantzman, The Hill, May 31, 2018—For seven years, Syrian rebels have held a chunk of southwestern Syria. Now the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad is planning an offensive to retake the area that borders Israel and Jordan.

Dramatic Understandings Between Israel and Russia: Mordechai Sones, Arutz Sheva, May 28, 2018 —Channel 2 News reports that dramatic understandings were reached between Israel and Russia in which the Assad army would return to southern Syria on its border with Israel, Russia will undertake that there will be no Iranian or Hizbullah presence in this area, and Israel will maintain freedom of action against Iranian consolidation in Syria.

PUTIN ATTRACTS MEDIA ATTENTION IN WEST, BUT IS RUSSIA REALLY A PAPER TIGER?

Don’t Fear Moscow. Marginalize It.: Marc C. Johnson, National Review, Apr. 27, 2018— Not since the end of the Cold War has a Russian leader received as much wall-to-wall attention from the American media as Vladimir Putin.

The Strategic Goals of a Restored Russia: Michel Gurfinkiel, BESA, Apr. 15, 2018— The Soviet Union was not vanquished by the West in the Cold War.

Resonant Syria Strike Suggests Coordinated US-Israel Message to Russia and Iran: Avi Issacharoff, Times of Israel, Apr. 30, 2018— Hours after a mysterious “earthquake” — 2. 6 on the Richter scale — registered on the devices of the European Mediterranean Seismological Center, the circumstances behind the series of explosions that shook Syria overnight Sunday-Monday are starting to become clear.

Ukraine: Is Russia Planning A New Invasion?: Judith Bergman, Gatestone Institute, May 1, 2018— This April marks the fourth year of the ongoing war in Ukraine between the Ukrainian military and Russian backed separatists in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics in eastern Ukraine, also known as the Donbas region.

On Topic Links

Let’s Make A Deal – But Do The Russians Want One?: Yigal Carmon, MEMRI, Apr. 24, 2018

Despite His Victory, Putin’s Problems Will Grow: Emil Avdaliani, BESA, Apr. 15, 2018

The Post-Election Ruminations of Vladimir Putin: Bernard-Henri Lévy, Tablet, Mar. 21, 2018

Novichok: How a Deadly Cold War Poison has Resurfaced in a Quiet English Town: Vladimir Isachenkov, National Post, Apr. 23, 2018

 

DON’T FEAR MOSCOW. MARGINALIZE IT.

Marc C. Johnson

National Review, Apr. 27, 2018

Not since the end of the Cold War has a Russian leader received as much wall-to-wall attention from the American media as Vladimir Putin. Whether for the Skripal poisoning, the invasion of Ukraine, military action in Syria, or the ongoing cyber war against the West, there is a tendency in the American media to paint Russia as a multi-front threat to peace and democracy everywhere, and its president as omniscient and ten feet tall (he’s actually 5′7″). This scare-mongering is misplaced. The fact is, Russia is a weak state pretending to be a strong one.

To be sure, Moscow still has a fearsome nuclear arsenal, but this is its main —  some might say only  —  source of real military influence in today’s world. The country currently maintains approximately 4,300 stockpiled nuclear warheads, down from its Cold War peak of 45,000. Putin has pushed hard to upgrade this force in the last few years, recently unveiling the new “Sarmat” ICBM (nicknamed “Satan 2” by NATO).

But improvement of Russia’s strategic forces has come at a cost to the rest of Russia’s military, which remains more riddled with corruption and fraud than any other comparably sized force in the world. Despite attempts at modernization since 2008, Russia still relies on conscripts serving their mandatory year for at least half of its million active duty servicemen.

To keep up the modernization effort, Russia spends an increasingly large percentage of its GDP on the military: over 5.4 percent in 2016, compared with 3.3 percent in 2008. Over the same time frame, America’s defense spending went down in GDP terms, from a high of 4.6 percent to 3.3 percent in 2016. Many parts of Putin’s military verge on the decrepit despite the modernization campaign. The Russian Air Force still relies mainly on upgraded versions of attack aircraft designed in the 1970s, for example. And the Russian navy’s only aircraft carrier, the smoke-belching Admiral Kuznetsov, travels with a tugboat because it breaks down so frequently.

Putin financed military modernization at the expense of the budget, but its available cash is running out now. The financial cushion Putin’s administration built starting in 2000 is nearly gone. The Sovereign Reserve Fund, created early in the energy boom years by Putin’s trusted economist, Alexei Kudrin, finally evaporated in January. With few other options, Moscow acknowledged that it might raid a separate account, the National Welfare Fund (intended to pay pensions), to cover its budget obligations. Russia went from an 8 percent budget surplus to a nearly 4 percent deficit in barely four years.

Russian citizens now suffer from the effects of bad policy, profligate spending, endemic corruption, and plain old bad luck, the last resulting from the worldwide fall in the price of oil and gas. And the Trump administration’s recent application of additional financial sanctions will make it harder and more expensive for Russia to borrow money to pay its bills. This perfect storm of financial tribulations has left an already struggling country weak and its populace restive.

The recent Russian presidential election was highly questionable, as Putin won with an unlikely 77 percent of the vote and kept his only real competitor, Alexei Navalny, out of the race. Yet even with these advantages, Putin campaigned mainly on promises he can’t keep. He pledged a “war on poverty,” massive increases in infrastructure spending, a crackdown on tax evasion, and improvements to the country’s health-care system. Any one of these would be a heavy lift given Moscow’s tenuous financial situation, but fulfilling all of these promises is a pipe dream.

Conditions in Russia are far from healthy. According to a recent report from its own Ministry of Health, while residents of Moscow and St. Petersburg live at a level comparable to that of people in Eastern Europe, inhabitants of the rest of the vast country eke out an existence closer to Third World living standards. Russia’s average life expectancy is 70.5 years, miles behind America’s 79.3 years, and trailing even countries such as Egypt, Bolivia, and North Korea. And the chronic lack of medicine, hospital beds, and functioning equipment (to say nothing of qualified medical specialists outside urban areas) means patients must navigate a Kafkaesque nightmare of a health-care system.

Meanwhile, for a supposed world power, Russia’s economy is surprisingly monolithic. The country exports mainly extracted natural resources and military equipment rather than consumer goods or technology. When was the last time you bought something made in Russia that didn’t come in a bottle? The only area of commerce in which Russia leads is energy. The country is first in world oil production  —  barely ahead of Saudi Arabia  —  and second in gas, just behind the United States. But even that could soon change. The International Energy Agency expects the U.S. to overtake Russia as an oil producer no later than 2019 thanks to strong growth in American domestic shale production…

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

 

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THE STRATEGIC GOALS OF A RESTORED RUSSIA

Michel Gurfinkiel

BESA, Apr. 15, 2018

The Soviet Union was not vanquished by the West in the Cold War. It simply disintegrated in the late 1980s, the result of cumulative failures. A military defeat or a popular insurrection might have resulted in the elimination of its seventy-year-old totalitarian infrastructure and superstructure (the Soviet “deep state”). A mere collapse, however, had very different consequences.

Beyond the abandonment of the Eastern European glacis and the formal independence of the fifteen Soviet Republics, the ruling Soviet elite stayed largely in place. This was especially true in the very heart of the Empire, the former Federative Socialist Soviet Republic of Russia, rebranded as the Russian Federation. The army and secret police stayed intact, the planned economy was turned into a state-controlled oligarchy, and nationalism was substituted for communism. Soon, Russia began to engage in systematic rebuilding and reconquest…

The primary strategic goal of a restored Russia is to bring together all the Russian-speaking peoples into a single nation-state. In 2014, after the forced incorporation into Russia of Crimea, a province of Ukraine under international law, Putin elaborated that, after the dissolution of the USSR, “millions of people went to bed in one country and awoke in different ones, overnight becoming ethnic minorities in former Union republics, while the Russian nation became one of the biggest, if not the biggest ethnic group in the world to be divided by borders.” What is at stake is not just Transnistria or Crimea or eastern Ukraine, but the Russian-speaking communities in the Baltic States and in Central Asia. This contention resembles that of Adolf Hitler from 1933 to 1939, when he carved an ethnically defined Greater Germany into the heart of Europe.

A second Russian goal is to reestablish the former Soviet Union as a single geopolitical unit if not a single state: a “Eurasian community” with Russia as first among equals. This goal has been largely achieved. Most post-Soviet countries, with the glaring exceptions of the Baltic states, which joined both NATO and the EU, and of Ukraine, which strives to do the same, have reverted into a Russian sphere of influence. The only countervailing power so far, at least in Central Asia, has been China. A third Russian goal is to weaken or eliminate any rival power in Europe: be it the US and NATO, its military arm, or the EU, at least as long as it has close ties with the US. A fourth is to resume a world power role by reactivating support for former Soviet client regimes like Baathist Syria or Cuba, or striking new strategic alliances with emerging powers like Iran.

Sadly, most Western countries either failed to understand what was going on or decided to ignore it, even in the face of hard evidence. In his recently published book, The End of Europe, James Kirchick writes:  “As early as 1987,” when the Soviet Union still existed, “Mikhaïl Gorbachev advocated Soviet entry into what he called ‘the common European home’.” Ten years later, after the demise of the Soviet Union, “Boris Yeltsin hoped that Russia would one day join ‘greater Europe’.” In both cases, Western politicians and strategists responded enthusiastically: many insisted that “a whole raft of institutions, strategic theorems and intellectual currents born out of the struggle against Soviet communism” were now passé, and “it was time to supplant the bipolar order with more inclusive and ‘equitable’ arrangements.”

Seven years later, in 2005, the Gaullist president of France, Jacques Chirac, and the social-democratic Chancellor of Germany, Gerhard Schröder, planned for “a European Security and Defense Union,” a “triangular” military alliance with Russia “that would exclude Washington, to parallel and perhaps one day replace NATO.” It did not appear to concern these analysts that “as the West slashed defense budgets and relocated resources to Asia and the Middle East,” Russia was undergoing “a massive conventional arms buildup to the point there exists now a perilous imbalance on NATO’s Eastern flank.”

Even more intriguing was the attitude of Barack Obama’s administration from 2009 to 2017. It did not do much to deter Russian inroads into the Caucasus and Ukraine, and opted from 2015 on for complete passivity in the Middle East and even active cooperation with Iran, the new Russian protégé.

Much was achieved, in this respect, by soft power. The old Soviet Union cultivated all kinds of networks in order to spy on foreign countries, or to influence them: from communist parties to front communist organizations, from fellow travelers to peace activists, from businessmen or companies interested in East-West trade to illiberal right-wingers. These networks accounted for perhaps one-half of Soviet global power. As Cold Warriors used to say, “East minus West equals zero”. Putin’s Russia is resorting to the same means and could have equal or perhaps even greater success.

 

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RESONANT SYRIA STRIKE SUGGESTS COORDINATED

US-ISRAEL MESSAGE TO RUSSIA AND IRAN

Avi Issacharoff

Times of Israel, Apr. 30, 2018

Hours after a mysterious “earthquake” — 2. 6 on the Richter scale — registered on the devices of the European Mediterranean Seismological Center, the circumstances behind the series of explosions that shook Syria overnight Sunday-Monday are starting to become clear. An increasing number of media organizations associated with the Syrian regime and Hezbollah are hinting that Israel was responsible. According to a report in the Al Akhbar newspaper, identified with Hezbollah, bunker buster missiles, which do not explode on impact but rather deep in the ground, hit bases in the Hama and Aleppo areas. Hence the “earthquake.”

The base that was attacked in the Hama area belongs to the 47th Brigade of President Bashar Assad’s Syrian Army, but apparently there were many Shiites and/or Iranians in the area. The Syrian Human Rights Observatory (based in London) reported that 26 people were killed in this attack, Iranians among them. Another report spoke of 38 fatalities. Whatever the case, it is clear that the strike was highly unusual in several respects.

First and foremost was the sheer power of the attack. The pictures and the sounds, and the large number of casualties, point to an incident of larger scale than those to which we have become accustomed. We are not talking here about just another strike on another Hezbollah convoy, but rather what would appear to be a new step in what is now the almost-open warfare being waged between Iran and Israel in recent weeks on Syrian territory. The same player that earlier this month attacked the T-4 airbase, from which an Iranian attack drone was launched into Israel in February, apparently struck again overnight Sunday-Monday, taking the gloves off and moving into a new level of military confrontation.

Second, not only is the attacking force not rushing to take responsibility, but those who are being attacked are not hurrying to assign blame. That is to say, there may be hints regarding ostensible Israeli responsibility, but there has been no direct accusation — at least not at the time of writing.

Indeed, one newspaper associated with the Assad regime, Tishreen, has even claimed that the attack was carried out by US and UK forces using ballistic missiles fired from Jordan. This report would appear to be somewhat improbable, but the bottom line is that Damascus, Tehran and even Moscow would seem to be wary at this stage of issuing declarations that might require them to retaliate against Israel, or cause them to appear to be making empty threats in light of Iran’s repeated public promises after the last attack, on T-4, that retaliation against Israel would emphatically follow.

Third, the latest strike was carried out at a time when the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is visiting the region, and just a few hours after he held talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two of them used the opportunity to issue no shortage of threats and promises to thwart Iran’s aggression and nuclear ambitions.

Late Sunday, news also broke of a phone call between Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump. Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has been meeting with his US counterpart James Mattis in Washington. And less than a week ago, Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of the US army’s Central Command, or CENTCOM, whose sphere of responsibility includes Syria and Iran, made a largely unpublicized visit to Israel.

All this is beginning to look rather like a coordinated Israeli-American operation to limit Iran’s military activities in Syria — simultaneously conveying the message to Moscow that Russia’s green light for Iran to establish itself militarily in Syria is not acceptable in Jerusalem and Washington. These developments are unfolding during a highly dramatic period in the region, with the US two weeks away from opening its embassy in Jerusalem. Of most specific relevance, however, is the fact that in less than two weeks the Trump administration will make its decision on whether or not to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal.

In that light, the resonant strikes in Syria overnight will doubtless constitute considerable food for thought for Tehran, and indeed Moscow, regarding their next moves in Syria and maybe in other places as well.

 

Contents

             

UKRAINE: IS RUSSIA PLANNING A NEW INVASION?

Judith Bergman

Gatestone Institute, May 1, 2018

This April marks the fourth year of the ongoing war in Ukraine between the Ukrainian military and Russian backed separatists in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics in eastern Ukraine, also known as the Donbas region. Prior to the beginning of the war in eastern Ukraine in April 2014, Russia annexed Crimea.

Russia’s aggression into Ukraine came in direct violation of its obligations under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum. Under the memorandum, in exchange for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons, Russia reaffirmed its “obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine” and promised that none of its weapons would ever be used against Ukraine except in self-defense or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

Now, the question of further Russian or Russian-backed military operations in Ukraine has surfaced. In March, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko asserted that Russia has been strengthening its military presence on the border of Ukraine. According to Poroshenko: “For more than one year, we have been repelling Russia’s military aggression on the front line… In his latest report General Zabrodsky reported in detail on the strengthening of the military presence of the Russian Federation along our border and continued stay of Russia’s regular troops in the occupied territories”. Poroshenko explained that the Russians have, since 2014, deployed and reorganized their forces in a way that will be able to support a rapid invasion both from the north and from east of Ukraine. “Several mechanized divisions are fully prepared for intervention,” he said.

In April, Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak also claimed that Russia “has massed 19 battalion tactical groups of the combat echelon and reserve forces with over 77,000 troops,” adding that they have almost 1,000 tanks, 2,300 combat vehicles, over 1,100 artillery systems and about 400 multiple rocket launchers. According to Poltorak, 40,000 Russian troops, which he detailed as an integral part of the Southern Military District of the Russian Armed Forces, are stationed in the Donbas. Also according to Poltorak, in 2017 Russia’s military forces shelled Ukrainian army positions in Donbas more than 15,000 times.

There appears to be some internal disagreement on the exact number of Russian forces amassing on Ukraine. At the Kyiv Security Forum, on April 13, the chairman of Ukraine’s National Defense and Security Council Oleksandr Turchynov noted: “After four years of war, Russia has at least 260,000 troops deployed along the Ukrainian border, in addition to another 35,000 troops in the Donbas and 30,000 in Crimea, who could be used to conduct a large-scale continental war… The Russian aggressor is preparing a powerful force in Crimea — and not only to protect its presence there. And the two occupation army corps in the Donbas have been positioned to provide cover and buy time for the main force to deploy at the borderline.”

Turchynov also warned that the 260,000 Russian troops near the Ukrainian border are ready to advance with 3,500 tanks, 11,000 soft-skin vehicles, 4,000 artillery units, and over 1,000 multiple launch rocket systems. Russia, according to Tuchynov, has also fielded four guided-missile brigades in the region. The brigades, he says, are armed with Iskander-K cruise missile systems, which have a range of up to 2,500 kilometers. Apart from investing in conventional arms, Russia is also enhancing its hybrid warfare capabilities, “including terror attacks and subversive actions,” in Ukraine, Turchynov said.

First Deputy Head of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), Viktor Kononenko, also recently reported that Russia might be planning another attempt to destabilize Ukraine in the fall. He said that the SBU has information on Russia’s plans, including “the existence of a group in Putin’s entourage, which has as goal to create prerequisites for the introduction of Russian troops to Ukraine in autumn under the pretext of protecting the Russian-speaking population”. He added that Moscow allegedly plans to use criminals and other criminal-related structures “for beating participants of pro-Russian events and religious processions.”

The war in Ukraine has already exacted a steep price. On April 21, UN representative to Ukraine, Neal Walker, announced that, “After four years of conflict, 3.4 million people in Ukraine are struggling to cope with the impact of the humanitarian crisis and urgently require humanitarian assistance and protection”. More than 2,500 civilian men, women and children have been killed, and more than 9,000 injured in the past four years, according to the UN. Landmines in eastern Ukraine are affecting1.9 million people. “Last week,” Walker said, “landmines killed a family of four in eastern Ukraine. In 2017, over 235 civilians were killed or injured by landmines and other explosive remnants of war.”…

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

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

Let’s Make A Deal – But Do The Russians Want One?: Yigal Carmon, MEMRI, Apr. 24, 2018 —In recent days, German media[1] have reported that the SPD and the CDU are discussing the possibility of offering Russia a deal on Syria, indirectly addressing Iran, which is the hardest nut to crack in the Syria crisis, even more so than President Bashar Al-Assad.

Despite His Victory, Putin’s Problems Will Grow: Emil Avdaliani, BESA, Apr. 15, 2018—In terms of foreign policy, Putin’s fourth term can be expected to be characterized by the challenge of an invigorated and united western front. Russian geopolitical influence in Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova has diminished over the past decade.

The Post-Election Ruminations of Vladimir Putin: Bernard-Henri Lévy, Tablet, Mar. 21, 2018—Vladimir Putin is content. He spent some time at the gym. He took a virile shower, followed by a brief muscle-flexing, bare-chested strut in front of his favorite bodyguards. He flopped down into one of the gaudily gilded Louis XV armchairs that line the halls of the Kremlin. And then, alone, tired, strong, Russian, and triumphant, he let his thoughts wander.

Novichok: How a Deadly Cold War Poison has Resurfaced in a Quiet English Town: Vladimir Isachenkov, National Post, Apr. 23, 2018 —During the Cold War, Soviet scientists at a secret, high-security lab worked frantically to counter the latest U.S. chemical weapons. More than 40 years later, the nerve agent they developed apparently turned up in a quiet English town, where it nearly killed a former Russian spy and his daughter.

RUSSIA’S INVOLVEMENT IN SYRIA, & COOPERATION WITH IRAN, RISKS CONFRONTATION WITH ISRAEL

Experts Warn of ‘Escalation’ Between Israel and Russia over Syria: Ariel Ben Solomon, JNS, Feb. 5, 2018 — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week did not appear to resolve the two countries’ differing objectives in Syria, and it remains unclear if the status-quo can continue.

Why Won’t Russia Support the Investigation of Chemical Weapons Attacks in Syria?: Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Dany Shoham, BESA, Jan. 31, 2018— In September 2013, Russia, the US, and Syria accepted a “Framework for Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons.”

There Is No Peace: Editorial, Weekly Standard, Dec. 22, 2017— The Obama administration will be remembered for a number of disgraces in foreign affairs, prominent among them its terrible deal with Iran and its dithering over the war in Syria.

Reviving Old Lies to Unite a New Russia: Michael Khodarkovsky, New York Times, Jan. 11, 2018— On the night of July 16, 1918, Russia’s last czar, Nicholas II, was murdered with his wife and five children in a basement in Yekaterinburg…

 

On Topic Links

 

Russia Bombs Syria Rebel Strongholds After Jet Is Shot Down: Damien Sharkov, Newsweek, Feb. 5, 2018

Israel Presses Russia to Help Contain 'Iranian Threat': Marianna Belenkaya, Al-Monitor, Feb. 2, 2018

Russia’s Eurasian Disunion: Emil Avdaliani, BESA, Feb. 5, 2018

What Russian Immigrants Can Teach Us About Jewish Identity: Matthew M. Hausman, Arutz Sheva, Jan. 18, 2018

 

EXPERTS WARN OF ‘ESCALATION’ BETWEEN

ISRAEL AND RUSSIA OVER SYRIA

Ariel Ben Solomon

JNS, Feb. 5, 2018

 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week did not appear to resolve the two countries’ differing objectives in Syria, and it remains unclear if the status-quo can continue. Russian jets increased their attacks in Syria on Monday, days after Syrian rebels shot down one of its jets. Reported Israeli attacks against Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria and Lebanon must take into account the military presence of Russian forces in the country, which serve to prop up Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.

 

“Russia is trying to re-establish the Assad regime’s territorial control in Syria, secure its military bases there, demonstrate superiority of its weapons systems with an eye on increased military sales and develop its modalities of power projection to the Middle East,” Ariel Cohen, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council think tank, told JNS. The result of this increased Russian role in the region is negative for Israel, said Cohen, also the director of the Center for Energy, Natural Resources and Geopolitics at the Institute for Analysis of Global Security in Washington, D.C.

 

Iran and Hezbollah have taken advantage of the cover of war in Syria to try to smuggle advanced weapons through Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Netanyahu said during the meeting with Putin that Iran was trying “to turn Lebanon into one big missile site — a site for manufacturing precision missiles against the state of Israel. This is something we are not prepared to tolerate.” Cohen explained that Russian air defenses based in Syria cover most of Israeli territory, severely impeding the Israeli Air Force freedom of operation. Secondly, Russia is in a much better position to collect military intelligence on Israel; and thirdly, the Russian presence in Syria makes the Levant safe for Iran, which presents a strategic and existential threat to the Jewish state. “All this puts Russia in a position of a strategic adjudicator vis-à-vis Jerusalem — allowing it to decide, to a degree, the extent of Israel’s freedom to maneuver in the region,” he said. “For the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Moscow is almost on par with Washington in terms of dictating its political [and] military agendas in the Eastern Mediterranean region,” concluded Cohen.

 

Anna Borshchevskaya, the Ira Weiner Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and an expert on Russia’s Middle East policy, told JNS that Russia’s current objectives in Syria remain keeping Assad in power, and at the very least, maintaining a close partnership with Iran and ensuring that Moscow’s interests remain protected. Nevertheless, Russia’s objectives seemingly stand in contrast to Israel’s interests in the country, which is more focused on thwarting Iran and Hezbollah’s buildup there. As such, this could have the potential to escalate tensions between the two countries.

 

“It’s doubtful that Putin wants a bilateral crisis with Israel; to the contrary, good relations with Israel are important to him, but it’s also unclear how long he can keep the balancing act he’s maintained so far in terms of good relations with both Iran and Israel.” Borshchevskaya went on to add that “Israel’s interests appear to increasingly contradict Putin’s interests, and while neither side seeks a bilateral crisis, an escalation is quite possible.”

 

Yuri Teper, an Israeli Russia expert who until recently was a postdoctoral fellow at the Kennan Institute at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, said that “allowing Israel to act in Syria hurts Russia’s omnipotent image among its allies and foes, but also works to limit the extent of these attacks against Assad’s regime.”

 

However, Russia also has an interest in allowing these Israeli strikes to continue, he said. First, Israel’s determination in acting in Syria when its national security is at stake means that Russia’s options are limited if it wants to avoid a direct confrontation with the Jewish state. Second, Russia’s relations with Iran are not as close as some experts and the media make it appear. Both countries are competing for power in Syria, and their goals for the region differ.

 

“By allowing Israel to attack Hezbollah’s strategic capabilities and infrastructure,” added Teper, “Russia is in a way putting a check on Iran’s influence and makes the Syrian regime more dependent on Russian air-force capabilities.”

 

Contents

WHY WON’T RUSSIA SUPPORT THE INVESTIGATION

OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS ATTACKS IN SYRIA?

Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Dany Shoham

BESA, Jan. 31, 2018

 

In September 2013, Russia, the US, and Syria accepted a “Framework for Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons.” Then, in April 2014, the Fact-Finding Mission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was created with the aim of determining possible use of toxic chemicals in Syria. Ultimately, the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) of the OPCW and the UN was established as the centerpiece of the Security Council’s efforts to determine responsibility for the use of CW in Syria. It was founded in August 2015, largely as a result of negotiations between the US and Russia.

 

The need for ongoing chemical monitoring remains essential in Syria, notwithstanding the seeming defeat of ISIS and the considerable weakening of the rebels. The catch is that as long as no further employment of CW by the Syrian regime is formally confirmed, the latter can claim that it no longer possesses CW. Such stasis is desirable for both the Syrian regime and for Moscow, Assad’s patron and supposedly the responsible adult in the scenario. Following a recent CW attack by means of chlorine-loaded artillery shells dropped on East Ghouta (January 22, 2018), Secretary of State Tillerson said: “Whoever conducted the attacks, Russia ultimately bears responsibility for the victims in East Ghouta and countless other Syrians targeted with chemical weapons, since Russia became involved in Syria. There is simply no denying that Russia, by shielding its Syrian ally, has breached its commitments to the US as a framework guarantor.”

 

In January 2015, the OPCW reported that the destruction of the Syrian CW arsenal had been completed. But several subsequent chemical attacks showed that assessment to have been mistaken – particularly the employment of the sarin nerve agent by the Syrian Air Force in April 2017. The uncovering of that event, which prompted the US retaliatory raid on the Shayrat Airfield, was thus a blow for the Assad regime and for Russia, both of which desperately tried to refute the evidence. The raid showed the existence of a residual Syrian CW arsenal, the extent and locations of which are uncertain. More specifically, at least 2,000 chemical bomb shells that Syria claims it had converted to conventional weapons and either used or destroyed are unaccounted for, suggesting that they may still be in the hands of the Syrian military. The Russians are almost certainly aware (to say the least) of those weapons, as well as of other Syrian CW capacities.

 

In parallel, renewed production of CW by the Assad regime has been discovered in hidden sections of three sites – Masyaf, Dummar, and Barzeh – with Russian (plus Iranian) informal acknowledgment, and at times concealed support. Cyrillic letters were found on the sarin-loaded 140mm artillery rockets used by the Syrian army in the 2013 massacre; collateral military Russian involvement was traced during the 2017 sarin attack conducted by the Syrian Air Force; a resemblance to a prototype Soviet sarin-loaded KhAB-250 aerial bomb was revealed (if inconclusively); and the hospital where sarin-affected persons were treated was deliberately bombarded.

 

A critical mass accumulated that led Russia to foil the renewal of the JIM’s mandate. Six draft resolutions were vetoed in 2017 in the Security Council (the most since 1988), with five focused on the use of CW in Syria. Three consecutive vetoes by Russia resulted in the termination of the JIM at the end of 2017, dismantling what had been one of the rare examples of Security Council action on the Syria file. The Russian representative diplomatically stated that Moscow expected an honest, impartial, complete investigation and would accept clear, incontrovertible evidence of guilt.

 

Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, UK Permanent Representative to the UN, was unequivocal in his response:     “Make no mistake, the JIM has succeeded; it is Russia that has failed. They have failed in their duties as a permanent member of this Security Council, they have failed as a state party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, they have failed as a supposed supporter of peace in Syria. Russia vetoed a simple technical rollover of the mandate of JIM; a rollover that didn’t judge any party, that didn’t add any conditions … In negotiations, their experts made abundantly clear why they wouldn’t support the JIM’s renewal. Put simply, they cannot, or rather, they will not accept any investigation that attributes blame to their Syrian allies, no matter how robust the investigation, no matter how clear and solid the evidence … Russia once played a responsible role in securing the destruction of much of Syria’s chemical arsenal and in creating the JIM. Regrettably, today the world can see that Russian policy now is to protect the Syrian state, whatever the cost to Russia’s reputation.”

 

The Russian line backing Syria on CW has, in fact, been notably consistent. In January 2014, Russian diplomat Mikhail Ulyanov held that “the Syrians are approaching the fulfillment of their obligations seriously and in good faith.” In June 2013, Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the Russian Duma Committee on International Affairs, maintained that “[i]nformation about the usage of CW by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is fabricated, same as the lies about the late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein possessing weapons of mass destruction.”

 

In saying this, Pushkov ignored what had happened ten years earlier on the Syrian-Iraqi border. Former US Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for International Technology Security John Shaw contended that a wide-scale smuggling operation of Iraqi chemical and biological weapons, together with related components, from Iraq to Syria took place in the weeks before the March 2003 US operation in Iraq. He detailed that the Russian “Spetsnaz” (Special Operation Forces) had organized large commercial truck convoys for CBW removal; whatever CBW was not buried in Iraq was put on those trucks and sent to the Syrian border. The goal of the clean-up was “to erase all traces of Russian involvement” in Iraqi CBW programs, and it “was a masterpiece of military camouflage and deception.”…

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

 

Contents

THERE IS NO PEACE

Editorial

Weekly Standard, Dec. 22, 2017

 

The Obama administration will be remembered for a number of disgraces in foreign affairs, prominent among them its terrible deal with Iran and its dithering over the war in Syria. Deserving of a place on that list is America’s acquiescence in Russia’s attack on Ukraine, to which the Trump administration may finally be mounting a bit of resistance.

 

In the case of Ukraine, the United States sat by while the Russians carried out a de facto occupation of the country’s eastern territory and simply annexed the Crimean peninsula to the south. Vladimir Putin didn’t acquire these territories by conventional invasion. If he had mounted an open conquest, he might have provoked Western indignation and inspired more help for Kiev. That is not his way. In eastern Ukraine, Moscow trained and funded pro-Russian elements within the Donbas region, urged them to violence against Kiev’s authority, and sent Russian soldiers in to control the unrest they had instigated.

 

It worked brilliantly—thanks first to Barack Obama’s reluctance to risk any confrontation anywhere in the world, and second to Donald Trump’s double-mindedness on the subject of Russia. The ceasefire ostensibly in place was negotiated in Minsk in 2015. But as the U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations, Kurt Volker, made clear this week, there has been no ceasefire. “A lot of people think that this has somehow turned into a sleepy, frozen conflict, and it’s stable, and now we have Minsk agreements and there’s a ceasefire,” Volker told the Atlantic Council on December 19. “That’s completely wrong. It is a crisis.” One that worsened this year: 2017, he said, has been the most violent year since the conflict started in 2014. To date, more than 10,000 are dead as a consequence of a conflict many in the West have forgotten.

 

As in Syria, so in Ukraine: Russia is actively funding and inciting a proxy war on the soil of another country as Western democracies look the other way. The aim in Syria is to establish a client state; the aim in Ukraine is to grab land. In September, Putin suggested sending U.N. peacekeepers into the region but deploying them only along the line of conflict between Russian and Ukrainian forces, 50 miles or more into Ukraine’s territory—thus in effect acceding to Russia’s occupation of the land east of that line. The Trump administration wisely didn’t take the bait.

 

There are two possibilities for progress in eastern Ukraine. The first, favored by Volker and most other foreign policy leaders, is to deploy peacekeepers throughout the disputed territory and so create the stability necessary for free and fair elections to determine whether eastern Ukraine should become the pro-Russian republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. These separatist “republics” staged referendums in 2014 and proclaimed independence from Ukraine, but most serious observers regarded those votes as fraudulent. We doubt any deployment of U.N. peacekeepers can ensure a more legitimate outcome.

 

The other possibility is to face the reality that Ukraine is fighting a defensive war for its own territory. The United States and its allies can sell arms to Ukraine and give the struggling republic a fighting chance against Russian expansionism. If the conflict becomes sufficiently troublesome for Putin, he may back off. Of course, he may not. But he’s certain to stay if Ukraine remains largely defenseless and the West remains silent.

 

For three years Ukraine has begged the United States for defensive weaponry, but the Obama and Trump administrations wavered. The reasons for their indecision escape us. Russian tanks and artillery are on Ukrainian soil. Russian proxies create mayhem. Ukraine long sought NATO membership with bipartisan U.S. support. What reason could justify our refusal to aid the victim, other than to make nice with the aggressor?

 

For months, the Pentagon and State Department have urged the White House to sign off on a plan to supply Ukraine with weaponry to stave off what is in fact an invasion of its territory. Congress has long backed either the sale or provision of such weaponry to Kiev. This week, at last, the Trump administration approved the sale of some lethal defensive weaponry to our Ukrainian allies—sniper rifles, parts, and ammunition. There are further administrative hurdles, but initial signs suggest that the president himself has been persuaded by his secretaries of Defense and State to back Ukraine. The new policy may have been influenced by Canada’s decision, taken in November but not made public till mid-December, to approve arms sales to Ukraine. Others are likely to follow suit.

 

The first Cold War consisted of a great many hot wars and involved this nation in some terrible mistakes but also in some honorable victories. America won the Cold War by refusing to pretend that it wasn’t a war. If we are now in a second Cold War with Vladimir Putin’s Russia, we must again refuse to cry “peace, peace” when there is no peace.        

                       

                                                                       

Contents

REVIVING OLD LIES TO UNITE A NEW RUSSIA

Michael Khodarkovsky

New York Times, Jan. 11, 2017

 

On the night of July 16, 1918, Russia’s last czar, Nicholas II, was murdered with his wife and five children in a basement in Yekaterinburg, where they had been detained by the Bolsheviks for four months. On orders from Moscow, they were shot and bayoneted, and their mutilated bodies were set afire.

 

That much has been generally agreed on, based on overwhelming evidence gathered by numerous experts. Yet the Russian Orthodox Church continues to pose more questions, hinting at the darkest of conspiracies: Were the remains that were later exhumed really those of the imperial family? If not, how many were murdered, and where were they buried? Late last year, church officials added another twist with dark implications, suggesting that the execution of the Romanovs was “a ritual murder” — a phrase evoking calumnies directed against Russia’s Jews as part of their persecution in czarist times.

 

Now those words have come from Bishop Tikhon Shevkunov, during a speech on Nov. 27 at a church-sponsored conference convened to re-examine the circumstances of the Romanovs’ murder. Sitting next to Patriarch Kirill, the head of the church, the bishop insisted that his claim was shared by many members of a committee that has been investigating the czar’s murder since 2015. A representative of the President’s Investigative Committee, the government’s top crime agency, quickly agreed to seek out more expert opinions and “to conduct a psychological and historical analysis” of the matter.

 

The incident could have been dismissed as a fantasy from some anti-Semitic members of the church who have close links to ultraright Russian groups. But Bishop Tikhon is no ordinary churchman. Besides being a top aide of Patriarch Kirill, he is widely thought to be a spiritual adviser to President Vladimir V. Putin. And the suggestion of a ritual murder is so laden with traditional anti-Semitism that the next day, the spokesman for the Federation of Russia’s Jewish Communities, Borukh Gorin, said it was reminiscent of “the darkest ages.”

 

Many Russians, especially among radical nationalist groups, accept the charge of ritual murder as part of a vicious conspiracy theory: that rather than a Bolshevik crime, the Romanovs’ murder was the product of a Judeo-Masonic plot to sacrifice the czar’s family in a religious ritual intended to symbolize a murder of the Russian people. The accusation of ritual murder, of course, has a much longer history. In the violent anti-Semitism that pervaded the czarist empire, the murder of a Christian child in murky circumstances would typically be attributed to Jews, who were falsely accused of needing the blood of a child for religious rituals — the infamous “blood libel.”

 

Such pernicious lies helped provoke particularly brutal eruptions against Jews in Russia, making the word “pogrom” part of a gruesome universal vocabulary. One of the most notorious pogroms broke out in Kishinev (now Chisinau, Moldova) on the Easter Sunday of April 17, 1903, after anti-Semitic groups accused Jews there of committing a “ritual murder.” For two days, the authorities did nothing to stop the rampage of a drunken mob; 49 Jews were killed, over 500 wounded and an unknown number of women raped.

 

Three weeks later, Russia’s great writer and humanist Leo Tolstoy accused the Russian government of relying on lies and violence. The United States State Department and the British Foreign Office sent notes of protest, and President Theodore Roosevelt personally chastised Czar Nicholas. But Nicholas stayed silent even when waves of pogroms continued, claiming the lives of more than 2,000 Jews between 1903 and 1905. Tens of thousands of Russian Jews fled, mostly to the United States or to Ottoman-controlled Palestine…

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

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Russia Bombs Syria Rebel Strongholds After Jet Is Shot Down: Damien Sharkov, Newsweek, Feb. 5, 2018—Russia has stepped up its bombardment of rebel-held towns and cities in Syria after a Russian warplane was shot down and its pilot died after ejecting and trading fire with militants.

Israel Presses Russia to Help Contain 'Iranian Threat': Marianna Belenkaya, Al-Monitor, Feb. 2, 2018—Russian President Vladimir Putin has been rather mum on aspects of his meeting this week with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but the latter has made it clear they discussed concerns about Iran's bold actions in the Middle East in general and in Syria in particular.

Russia’s Eurasian Disunion: Emil Avdaliani, BESA, Feb. 5, 2018—The Eurasian Union was created in early 2015, but the idea was hardly new. Since its inception as a veritable regional power in the 16th century hinterland, Russia has always worked to attract and dominate its smaller neighbors, which were hard pressed by other powers such as the Ottoman Empire, Iran, and Austria-Hungary.

What Russian Immigrants Can Teach Us About Jewish Identity: Matthew M. Hausman, Arutz Sheva, Jan. 18, 2018—Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely was criticized a few months ago for opining that American Jews live “comfortable” lives and don’t know what it’s like to live under constant threat of attack, though she also acknowledged the continuing bond between them and their Israeli cousins. 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                              

 

 

PUTIN’S “POWER-POLITICS” BEWILDERS EU & MANIPULATES ANTISEMITISM

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:

 

Putin Leads the Russian Power Play: Andy Langenkamp, RealClearWorld, Dec. 8, 2014— Russian President Vladimir Putin has annexed Crimea, stirred up revolt in eastern Ukraine, and kept the fires of revolt burning bright – all while signing two mega-deals with China on gas supplies and pipelines.

Vladimir Putin’s Gas Crunch: Leonid Bershidsky, National Post, Dec. 9, 2014— Ever since Russia became something of a rogue state in the eyes of its European energy clients, it has tried to demonstrate that it can mostly do without them — if not immediately, then in a few years’ time.

Russian-Ukrainian Spat Over Anti-Semitism Reaches the UN: Sam Sokol, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 25, 2014 — The war of words between Russia and Ukraine over the issue of anti-Semitism heated …

Right-Wing Ukrainian Leader Is (Surprise) Jewish, and (Real Surprise) Proud of It: Vladislav Davidzon, Tablet, Dec. 1, 2014— My meeting with Right Sector’s Borislav Bereza, newly elected member of the Ukrainian Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, took place on a sunny Friday morning.

 

On Topic Links

 

Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible in Putin’s Russia: Ann Marlowe, Tablet, Dec. 9, 2014

Russia's Media Autarky Strengthens Its Grip: Christopher Walker & Robert Orttung, RealClearWorld, Nov. 30, 2014

Kremlin Returns to Soviet Practice of Stripping Citizenship: Vladimir Kara-Murza, World Affairs, Nov. 10, 2014

Back in St. Petersburg, Former Refusenik Encourages Jews to Emigrate: Cnaan Liphshiz, JTA, Dec. 1, 2014

                                                                                        

                            

PUTIN LEADS THE RUSSIAN POWER PLAY

Andy Langenkamp                                                                                                       

RealClearWorld, Dec. 8, 2014

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has annexed Crimea, stirred up revolt in eastern Ukraine, and kept the fires of revolt burning bright – all while signing two mega-deals with China on gas supplies and pipelines. The global attention he has drawn has no contemporary parallel, and it's clear enough that U.S. president Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping are no match on the power politics stage for their colleague from Russia. Forbes named Putin the world's most powerful man this year for good reason: Indeed it is not too much to say that Vladimir Putin has put power politics back onto the European map.

 

Europe cannot afford to remain passive. It has played a weak hand badly so far, and the problem is that Europe is no longer set up to play power games. Europeans are unsure how to handle a man who has donned boxing gloves and has no qualms about using hard power to expand his country's sphere of influence. In Europe, geopolitics has fallen out of favor in recent decades. Normative policy expansion and trade interests have been given such primacy, in fact, that member states seem unable to understand why any country would opt for confrontation, rather than just carry on doing business together. Europe holds an implicit belief that the whole world will shift toward a capitalist, democratic system in which it would be unthinkable to take up weapons against trade partners – or anyone who might become a trade partner.

 

Global developments have clearly shown the error of this approach. Armies may no longer feature in relationships among European countries, but Europe was naive to think that the same would apply outside the union's borders: Europe's demilitarization did not set an example for the rest of the world. Typical of the gulf between Europe and large parts of the wider world is the approach to commodities. Until recently, Europe viewed resources almost exclusively as a trade issue. This basically implies that after some negotiation, a price is set, and everyone is happy. By contrast, elsewhere in the world – including in the United States – commodities are seen in the context of power politics, and supplies are considered essential to national security. European politicians are becoming aware of this discrepancy, but it will be some time before a changed mindset translates into policy.

 

Now that Putin has put power politics back on the European map, it makes sense to analyse what constitutes power in international relations. Roughly speaking, power has three aspects: military, political, and economic. Europe has focused too much on the latter while paying scant attention to the first component. European leaders declared from the start of the Ukraine crisis that military action was out of the question. This was unwise. Meanwhile, Putin deployed a hybrid strategy of military smoke screens, commandos, propaganda, economic pressure, energy policy and diplomacy. The stress tests Europe carries out on its banks provide an apt metaphor to illustrate why Europe will probably waver again. John Gapper wrote: "The authorities can run all kinds of stress tests on … banks, trying to predict how well they would bear losses in a future crisis. The stress test they really need to run is on themselves – whether they will stick to their promise to work nicely with each other or will revert to self-interest." So far, Europe has been unable to take measures decisive enough to counter Russia – and more cracks will likely appear in the ‘united' European front as the stress increases. Undoubtedly, Putin will do his best to increase that pressure and to maintain a degree of control over Ukraine. The pro-European results of the Ukraine elections will have displeased him, and Putin will try to destroy any semblance of unity in Kiev. The rebels lack firm footing in eastern Ukraine, so they continue to rely on Russia. Putin seems to feel that Moscow should have more control – by continuing to send troops and materiel, he can secure the rebels' loyalty. Crimea is a worry for Putin because it is virtually isolated and cannot easily be supplied. Ideally, Putin would like to dominate a continuous area from eastern Ukraine to Crimea via his proxies.

 

Increasingly, power politics and economic policy overlap. Agreements such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trans-Pacific Partnership are not just tools to generate growth – they are geopolitical instruments. Such developments can undermine consumer and producer confidence. Russia is hampered by its aggressive foreign policy. Russian growth will slow further. Russian companies struggle to attain financing, and reserves that were supposed to be allocated to infrastructure are now used to purchase corporate bonds as a way to provide businesses with cash. One implication is that the (already poor) Russian infrastructure is thrown back even further. But if Putin doesn't back down, Europe's unity will continue to be tested, and the result could well be disappointing. Politicians may be tempted to look inward rather than outward as they attempt to deal with what could turn out to be the biggest threat to the Eurozone and the European Union: disgruntled voters whose fears for their financial futures will be exacerbated by geopolitical instability. A dissatisfied electorate that is suspicious of the powers that be is one reason economic growth in Europe is bound to continue to be sluggish for a prolonged period. This in turn will undermine Europe's soft and hard power capacities even further.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Contents                     

                                                                                                                      

VLADIMIR PUTIN’S GAS CRUNCH                                                     

Leonid Bershidsky                                                                                               

National Post, Dec. 9, 2014

 

Ever since Russia became something of a rogue state in the eyes of its European energy clients, it has tried to demonstrate that it can mostly do without them — if not immediately, then in a few years’ time. Two major deals have been announced since the annexation of Crimea, one with China and the other with Turkey. It looks increasingly likely, however, that neither of these is a deal in any conventional sense and that Russia is merely putting on a desperate show. In May, Putin went to Beijing to press for a $400 billion contract to send gas to China through a new pipeline, dubbed Power of Siberia. Alexei Miller, head of Russia’s natural gas monopoly, Gazprom, announced that, after some tense negotiations, a final 30-year deal to supply 38 billion of cubic meters of natural gas annually was signed. This appeared to be a major victory for Putin and a warning both to Europeans, who bought 160 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Gazprom last year (30% of their imports), and to Americans, who would like to supply liquefied natural gas to Asian markets.

 

More than six months on, however, the deal doesn’t appear to be moving forward as Russia had hoped. In May, Miller counted on a Chinese advance to start building the $55 billion infrastructure for the project. In November, he declared the loan would not be forthcoming. His explanation was somewhat baffling: “We were negotiating concerning an advance and the advance was an element of the price negotiations. But as we have reached a final agreement on the price, we are not considering the possibility of receiving an advance as a financial instrument to further lower the price.” That would appear to mean that Russia had negotiated a higher gas price with China than it would have received if it had initially asked for an advance. In May, however, Miller had declared that the final terms, including price, had been agreed. Have they been renegotiated in the past six months, or did Miller get a little ahead of himself that May day in Beijing?

 

It’s impossible to know, because no price has been made public. In any case, since Power of Siberia isn’t expected to be operative until 2019, China would hardly be so careless as to fix the gas price, especially given the current downward trend in oil prices. That makes the project’s future uncertain. There have also been suggestions that the $55 billion price tag for the Power of Siberia infrastructure may have been too low. In July, Sergei Ivanov, Putin’s chief of staff, said it might cost up to $70 billion. And Mikhail Krutikhin, founder of the consultancy East European Gas Analysis, has cited estimates that Gazprom will need $100 billion. Since, under Ukraine-related sanctions, Gazprom is unable to raise the money in Western financial markets, the only possible source of funding is Russia’s state National Welfare Fund. But other state companies, such as Rosneft, are also making major demands on this fund. If the sanctions and low oil prices persist, the $80 billion fund — meant to plug Russia’s pension-system deficit — won’t have enough money to go around.

 

The Turkish deal, meant to replace the South Stream pipeline, which the European Union has blocked, has had less impressive optics from the start. It would keep Gazprom from losing the $5 billion already invested in building the Russian end of South Stream and allow it to honour contracts for laying pipe across the bottom of the Black Sea. But delivering gas to Turkey would make its route to Europe more circuitous, and it would allow Turkey to dictate terms if Russia wants to “reduce Ukraine’s role as a gas transit country to zero,” as Miller promised to do last week. Turkish energy minister Taner Yildiz denies the existence of a firm deal with Russia, according to the commodity-markets information service Platts. Yes, Putin and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to keep talking about diverting the Black Sea pipeline to Turkey, but that would involve resolving a few contentious issues. Putin’s offer to Turkey of a 6% discount on gas already being supplied is not enough, according to Yildiz, who says his country has made a counter offer. Besides, Turkey wants Gazprom to stop giving its own subsidiary, Bosphorus Gaz, priority over Turkish partners. When these negotiations are done, Russia may end up supplying Turkish intermediaries with gas at a much lower price than it would have received from European consumers at the other end of South Stream.

 

Russia’s purpose in presenting unfinished talks with China and Turkey as done deals is obvious: It needs to convince the West that it need not stop meddling in Ukraine under any circumstances because it can form alternative partnerships. Authoritarian leaders such as China’s Xi Jinping and Turkey’s Erdogan are willing to help Putin put on a brave face — but not if means sacrificing their own countries’ economic benefit. Knowing how limited Putin’s options are as the oil price falls, the harder they will press him on the energy deals.

                                                                       

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RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN SPAT OVER ANTI-SEMITISM REACHES THE UN     

Sam Sokol

Jerusalem Post, Nov. 25, 2014

 

The war of words between Russia and Ukraine over the issue of anti-Semitism heated … with Moscow condemning the former Soviet republic, as well as the US and Canada, for voting against an annual UN resolution condemning Nazism. The draft, which was approved by a vote of 115 to 3 in the UN’s Third (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) Committee … condemned the “glorification” of Nazism, neo-Nazism and “other practices that contribute to fueling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.” It was backed by Russia, with support from Pakistan, Cuba and Rwanda, among others. Fifty-five countries abstained from the vote. It is “highly regrettable” that the US, Canada and Ukraine opposed the measure and that members of the European Union withdrew from the vote, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday. Russia was particularly “depressed and alarmed” over Kiev’s opposition, the ministry said, as Ukrainians “experienced the full brunt of the horrors of Nazism and contributed importantly to our common victory over it.” Russia has consistently asserted that Ukraine’s post-revolutionary government, which took power after popular demonstrations pushed out pro-Moscow President Victor Yanukovich, is composed of fascists and anti-Semites. “It could never occur to anybody that radicals and neo-Nazis could come to dominate Ukrainian politics,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told deputies in Russia’s parliament last week.

 

Ukrainian Jews have come out strongly against accusations of state anti-Semitism, with several prominent leaders actively accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of orchestrating anti-Jewish provocations for propaganda purposes. While several members of extreme right- wing parties became part of the interim government immediately following the revolution, the far Right has since lost significant ground politically and the government has come out publicly against anti-Semitism. In explaining her opposition to the resolution, Terri Robl, US deputy representative to the UN Economic and Social Council, said the Russian government had thrown around terms such as Nazi and fascist for its own political ends. “We believe Russia’s efforts at the General Assembly, via this resolution, are aimed at its opponents, rather than at promoting or protecting human rights,” she said. By seeking to “limit freedom of expression, assembly and opinion,” a representative of the Canadian delegation told The Jerusalem Post, Russia has taken steps that are “counterproductive” to the goal of eradicating Nazism.

 

The Ukrainian delegation attacked Russia over the resolution, accusing Moscow of actively supporting neo-Nazism at home and of supporting “nationalistic, xenophobia and chauvinistic policies” in the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine earlier this year. The delegation evoked the memory of the Holodomor, a massive famine brought about by forced collectivization of farms that killed millions of Ukrainians from 1923-33 and which is generally viewed in the country as a genocide planned by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. While Ukraine is committed to fighting the glorification of Nazism, “Ukrainians equally condemn Hitler and Stalin as international criminals for what they have done to us. We have always demanded that Russia should stop glorifying Stalinism and neo-Stalinism, because of their misanthropic and xenophobic nature. Until and unless the notions of Stalinism and neo-Stalinism are equally condemned along with Nazism and neo-Nazism and other forms of intolerance, Ukraine will not be able to support the draft presented by Russia,” the delegation explained. Marking Holodomor Remembrance Day last week, the White House deemed the “man-made famine” to be “one of the gravest atrocities of the last century.”

 

The issue of the rehabilitation of historical figures that collaborated with the Nazi regime is a serious one in the former Soviet Union, explained Dr. Efraim Zuroff, a Nazi-hunter who heads the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Jerusalem office. “There is a very strong tendency in post-Communist Europe to try to rewrite the narrative of World War II and the Holocaust and to try and minimize crimes by local Nazi collaborators, to equate Communist crimes and suffering of Communist victims with Nazi crimes during the Shoah and to glorify local heroes who fought against the Communists even though some of them were actively involved in collaboration with the Nazis and mass murder of Jews during the Holocaust,” he said. As a consequence of this, former Soviet countries, especially in the Baltics, have engaged in a systematic campaign to revise history, with Ukraine being “the worst of them,” Zuroff told the Post.

 

Victor Yanukovich’s predecessor, Viktor Yushchenko, engaged in an effort to rehabilitate figures such as Stepan Bandera, a leader of the Ukrainian national movement during the period of the Holocaust who actively collaborated with the Nazis and was involved in pogroms against Jews. Yushchenko’s posthumous award to Bandera of the title of “Hero of Ukraine” in 2010 riled the Jewish community and brought widespread condemnation abroad. “We condemn the revisionism and the myths of the new heroes of all these countries and we are worried about the use of this issue in the political fights of our days,” Rabbi Boruch Gorin, a senior figure in the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, told the Post. Politicizing history and anti-Semitism can be “very dangerous,” he added, calling drawing equivalences between Soviet and Nazi crimes a “vulgarization of the Holocaust.”

 

Yaakov Dov Bleich, Ukraine’s chief rabbi, asserted that his government does not consider the Holodomor and Holocaust to be equal. “They are very much trying to promote the Holodomor as a genocide. There were millions killed there by Stalin who orchestrated the crime,” he explained, adding that Ukrainians were pushing back against Russia’s “propaganda machine” and denial of responsibility for the famine. “One can sympathize with the exasperation expressed by the representative of Ukraine on the Russian draft resolution,” said Hebrew University Prof. Robert Wistrich, one of the world’s foremost experts on anti-Semitism. “The Russian resolution reminds me of the notorious propaganda techniques of the Soviet Union in blackening Zionism and Israel with the Nazi label… Jews should try as much as possible to avoid being used as a football in this manipulation of anti-Semitism for political ends whether in Moscow, Kiev or in the Western world,” Wistrich said…

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

                                   

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RIGHT-WING UKRAINIAN LEADER IS (SURPRISE)                                          

JEWISH, AND (REAL SURPRISE) PROUD OF IT                                             

Vladislav Davidzon                    

Tablet, Dec. 1, 2014

 

My meeting with Right Sector’s Borislav Bereza, newly elected member of the Ukrainian Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, took place on a sunny Friday morning. We met at a table with a magnificent view of the Dnieper River on the third-floor food court of the Sky Mall in Kiev. Despite the prognostications of Russian television, the right wing and ultra-nationalist party that is widely considered to be emblematic of the new iteration of “Ukrainian Fascism” failed to breach the 5 percent threshold required for parliamentary representation. Only two of its deputies were elected from the party to represent specific constituencies, party leader Dmitry Yarosh and party speaker Bereza, who ran a slightly frenzied campaign that focused on his busting up illegal unlicensed bars and underground casinos. That Bereza is a proudly outspoken and synagogue-going Jew is often pointed out by those who do not agree with the mounting equivalence of Right Sector with neo-fascism.

 

We were put in touch by a mutual friend whom we both highly respect, a Kiev-based Orthodox Jewish film producer. Bereza is very tall and has a muscular build. He has the broad shoulders and wide gait of a boxer along with a receding hairline and piercing gray eyes. He wears a diamond earring in his left ear and sports smart blue blazers over polka dot blue shirts with the Ukrainian emblem pinned to his lapel. Loquacious, and bluntly plain spoken, he speaks in a quick flow of short and declarative sentences and often cannot wait for you to finish your sentence before launching into the breathless reply. The day before we met he had told a Ukrainian newspaper that “Putin understands very well that his modern Russia could very well follow in the footsteps of the USSR with a complete collapse.”

 

Undiplomatic and completely intense, Bereza, who spoke with me in Russian, turned out to be one of the most likable politicians I had ever met, a cross between a drinking buddy, an Israeli paratrooper, and the aggressively militant Jewish partisan played by Liev Schreiber in Defiance. I congratulated him with a “Mazel tov” on his being elected a deputy and he responded with an enthusiastic “Baruch Hashem!”

 

You are a Jew…Yes. I am a Jew.

 

So, you are Jewish believer, I am told you go to synagogue, and also that you strongly consider yourself to be a member of the Jewish people…Of course. I am not an Orthodox Jew, I do not wear peyes, or a kippah in public, but I try to go to synagogue as often as I can. I study the Torah, and that is absolutely a harmonically integrated part of my life. I go to Israel every year, since 1993, and I have lived there.

 

But you are also a member of Right Sector?…I am a Jew and also a Cohen. There have never been any questions about this. Right Sector is composed of people of varied nationalities, not just Ukrainians and Jews, but also Poles and Belorussians, Georgians, Chechens, we have people of every [Soviet] ethnicity represented. The question is not one of ethnicity; it is “are you a Ukrainian? Do you support Ukraine? Are you a Ukrainian patriot?” In which case, you are my brother. If you are Ukraine’s enemy, whatever nationality you might be, you and I have nothing to talk about.

 

The reason such questions arise is that, as you know, this country has historically witnessed many problems between its constituent nationalities. There have always been problems between Poles and Ukrainians, Ukrainians and Russians and, yes, Ukrainians and Jews…Yes, that is so. I do not deny that. I have myself experienced casual everyday anti-Semitism. This is something I have experienced continuously since living in the Soviet Union, when my father could not go to the university he wanted to attend because he was a Jew. There were quotas for Jews, he was told. Yes, of course you are right. I know that anti-Semitism still exists on the everyday level in Ukraine, I have felt it myself. But it is a minor problem. There is also Russophobia and Ukrainaphobia here in certain quarters, it certainly exists. But the question of anti-Semitism is not a serious ideological problem or question in this society.

 

All right, I understand and respect your position. However that answer is not entirely satisfying. Many of the emblems and symbols of your movement strike many people as problematic. These are World War II symbols that—…Which symbols? —Well, let’s start with the Red and Black flag of the UPA [or Ukrainian Insurgent Army], under which you march. Under which you fight…Great! Wonderful! You have to understand: It was not merely the representatives of the Red Army that were annihilated under the auspices of the Red and Black flag, but also fascists, as well as all those who were invading Ukrainian lands. The Red and Black flag of the UPA represented the fight for an independent Ukraine…                                       

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

 

 

Contents           

On Topic

 

Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible in Putin’s Russia: Ann Marlowe, Tablet, Dec. 9, 2014—Peter Pomerantsev arrived in Moscow in 2001 with the idea that everything was possible in “a city living in fast-forward, changing so fast it breaks all sense of reality, where boys become billionaires in the blink of an eye”—a sense of speedy exuberance he conveys in colorful, punchy prose in his new book, Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible.

Russia's Media Autarky Strengthens Its Grip: Christopher Walker & Robert Orttung, RealClearWorld, Nov. 30, 2014—Vladimir Putin is trying to fundamentally reshape Russia's media system as he forges an illiberal, isolationist "Russian World" doctrine. In so doing, Russia's president is taking his country into uncharted territory.

Kremlin Returns to Soviet Practice of Stripping Citizenship: Vladimir Kara-Murza, World Affairs, Nov. 10, 2014 —One of the ways of punishing political dissenters under the Soviet regime—alongside prisons, labor camps, and “special psychiatric hospitals”—was forced exile accompanied by a loss of citizenship, to ensure that “offenders” would never return to their country (in practice, “never” was curtailed by the collapse of communism in 1991).

Back in St. Petersburg, Former Refusenik Encourages Jews to Emigrate: Cnaan Liphshiz, JTA, Dec. 1, 2014—Through the backseat window of a black KGB car, Yosef Mendelevitch could see university students his age hurrying to take their finals.

 

 

 

 

               

 

 

 

                      

                

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

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THE WEEK THAT WAS: JEWS SHOCKED BY MORE BARBARIC ISLAMIC VIOLENCE, POLLARD’S PAROLE DENIED (AGAIN), & RETRACING LVIV’S JEWISH HERITAGE

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:

 

Statement by Irwin Cotler on the Jerusalem Synagogue Attack: Nov. 18, 2014— Mr. Speaker, early this morning in Jerusalem, two Palestinian men wielding knives, axes and guns stormed a synagogue, killing four people and injuring eight, including one Canadian.

The Accomplishment of Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, A Soldier of Allah: Paul Merkley, Bayview Review, Nov. 18, 2014— Islam is becoming more dangerous for everybody every day.

Pollard’s Parole Plastering: Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 19, 2014 — Today, Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard enters the 30th year of his life sentence for the crime of passing classified information to an ally.

Picking up the Pieces of a Lost Culture: Eitan Arom, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 19, 2014 — I’m traveling across the bleak Ukrainian countryside with half a dozen Israeli journalists, two history professors in animated discussion, an employee of Wikipedia and two native speakers of Ukrainian.

 

On Topic Links

 

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks: "To be free, you have to let go of hate." (Video): Stand With Us, Nov. 13, 2014

Domestic Radicalization and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: Max Boot, Commentary, Nov. 18, 2014 

The Essentiality of Anger: David M. Weinberg, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 20, 2014

In This Struggle, Israel Can Prevail: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, Nov. 20, 2014

                                      

                                      

STATEMENT BY HON. IRWIN COTLER

ON THE JERUSALEM SYNAGOGUE ATTACK                                                    

Nov. 18, 2014

 

Mr. Speaker, early this morning in Jerusalem, two Palestinian men wielding knives, axes and guns stormed a synagogue, killing four people and injuring eight, including one Canadian. This brutal attack is part of a recent escalation in terrorist violence. Indeed, on the day of the terrorist attack in this House, a terrorist attack killed a three-month-old baby in Jerusalem, and others since. Moreover, this escalation cannot be divorced from the incitement to hate and violence and the glorification of terror propagated by much of the Palestinian media and leadership, where Palestinian authority officials have praised terrorists as “heroic martyrs”, declared that Jerusalem needs blood to purify itself of Jews, while Hamas celebrated the attack and President Abbas' party's Facebook page today announced that candy was being distributed in celebration of it. I join with all hon. members in offering our heartfelt condolences to the victims of today's attack, while we call for an end to incitement, an end to the glorification of terror, an end to the terror itself, and a commitment to peace and non-violence.

 

 

CIJR Congratulates Irwin Cotler, MP for Mount Royal, and former Justice Minister, for being honoured with Maclean’s Magazine “Parliamentarian of the Year.” [to Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                                       

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THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF MICHAEL ZEHAF-BIBEAU,

A SOLDIER OF ALLAH                                                                                   

Paul Merkley                                                                                                                  

Bayview Review, Nov. 18, 2014

 

Islam is becoming more dangerous for everybody every day. In a typical evening broadcast on any of the major global news-networks at least one in three leading items brings to our ears and eyes the horrific effects of the command of Muhammad to “slay the unbeliever.” Typically, there will be stories about this day’s work by suicide-bombers: scores of people who had been going about their daily lives, removed from the earth in the blink of an eye because of the need of dedicated individuals and groups to make theological statements. As I was writing these words the emergency services were cleaning up the human muck left by such incidents in several Arab countries from Mali to Pakistan, in Indonesia and in Muslim parts of Africa as well as in parts of Africa being newly-won for Allah from nominally Christian regimes, such as that in Nigeria. Not always at the top of the news but always going on somewhere are similar events in the Muslim parts of China, Central Asia and the South Pacific – everywhere, in short.

 

The usual intent of these mass-murderers is to display to the world how utterly right he or they are about a point of theological difference between real Muslims and false Muslims. The Holy Qur’an teaches that such differences cannot be set right by argument, because entering into argument with falsifiers of the truth would have to begin with recognizing the right of falsehood to exist at all. Being the inheritors of a spiritual tradition that has at its heart the conviction that God, the Creator of All, has made us in his image (Genesis 1:26), equipped with free will and intelligence, fully responsible for our choices and thus always liable to error — we cannot grasp this zero-sum thinking, and we inevitably go wrong when we imagine that we can – that is, when we rush into the debate seeking to help things out by separating the “moderates” from the “radicals.”

 

Within the world of Islam, there have always been elements so fanatical – nowadays, our journalists call them “Islamists” — that the political leaders of the time have had to rally the community against them, using the full force of loyal and equally bloody-minded armies to crush and pulverize them – for the sake of the continuity of life. In the absence of such loyal and bloody-minded armies, the leaders of the regime have no alternative but to flee the land. In this connection, the story of the “Assassins” of the Eleventh to Thirteenth Centuries is instructive.

 

A few weeks ago there went out from the website of Islamic State to all the faithful everywhere in the world this ukase from Abu Muhammad al Adnan: “If you are not able to find an IED, a bullet, then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman or any of their allies. Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car.” Here we find up-to-date and practical advice for carrying out the mandate that Muhammad left to all the faithful: “Fight and slay the Pagans wherever you find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (Sura 9:5.) ISIS’s hot-off-the-press instructions lack nothing to make them immediately applicable to daily life. Paradoxically, as the Islamist organizations have mutated to meet the challenge of commanding millions of souls in the age of the internet and cell-phone, unlimited possibilities for solitary response have also ramified – making use of objects lying as close to hand today as the knife was in the days of the Prophet, items for which the world owes everything to European invention and nothing to Islam.

 

Now cottage-industry jihad has come to Canada. In recent weeks, Canadian citizens have been murdered by solitary Muslim zealots in broad light of day because their uniforms identified them as Canadian military. Progressive politicians and commentators are exhausting their deposit of credibility as they argue whether such creatures as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau and Martin Rouleau were “solitary agents” or foot-soldiers in the ranks of some Islamist organization, known or yet to be uncovered. The first murdered Nathan Cirillo, a reservist-soldier standing guard at the National Cenotaph and then ran up Parliament Hill and into the Centre Block intent on murdering parliamentarians; the second used his car to murder soldier Patrice Vincent on a street-curb in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. Each left unambiguous testimony to his conviction that he was a soldier for Allah.) Neither of these individuals needed to have been a card-carrying member of anything in order to win the prize of eternal martyrdom held out by these internet scholars of Islam. Here is the paradox: by acting utterly alone, seeking the purpose of his life in annihilation of himself and others, each of these men was accomplishing, all by himself, everything for which all the Islamist organizations exist. This is not the sort of individualism that Western political philosophers like to celebrate.

 

Many commentators (including the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition in Canada’s Parliament) persist in ringing the changes on the theme that Zehaf-Bibeau’s motives are a mystery. (“Mulcair deems Ottawa shooter Michael Zehaf Bibeau a criminal, but not a terrorist,” National Post, October 29, 2014.) It is politically urgent to such people to keep maximum distance between this mad man’s deed and the Muslim community. But most people acknowledge that Zehaf-Bibeau knew exactly what he was doing, and that we do not need specialized sociological or therapeutic vocabulary to comprehend it. He simply wanted everything that we belong to die. The marvelous fact is that Zehaf-Bibeau accomplished just the opposite of what he intended. He assaulted the Center Bloc and briefly made most of the Members of Parliament his prisoners, cowering in realistic fear for their lives. But when they were let out, they were changed for ever. Only a few hours later, we saw the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Official Opposition and the Leader of the Liberal step out of their places in the House and embrace without embarrassment – something none of us ever expected to live to see!

 

An even more profound and widespread effect could be seen when Remembrance Day came around a few days later. For several decades now, the Remembrance Day ceremonies at the National Memorial in Ottawa and those held at the thousands of municipal monuments throughout the land have stood alone as occasions in our public life when Christian hymns are sung aloud by children’s choirs and by unembarrassed crowds of civilians and when prayers are addressed out loud to God — and it is all televised without interruption! This years’ Remembrance Day (as noted by the Hamilton Spectator) was marked by “record commemorative crowds, soaring poppy sales, a revived drive for a statutory holiday and media coverage stretching over several days…. Far from fading in significance as once feared, Remembrance Day is resonating with Canadians more now than it has in decades.” (Hamilton Spectator, November 7; “Remembrance Day 2014; Record-Breaking Sales Lead to Poppy shortage,” Huffingtonpost.ca, November 7, 2014.) And this year, as a bonus, there has been a stream of statements from all the Muslim organizations and from the Mosques affirming loyalty to Canada and repudiation of violence. None of this bears any resemblance to what this soldier of Allah intended.

 

Paul Merkley is a CIJR Academic Fellow

         

                                                                       

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POLLARD’S PAROLE PLASTERING                                                                      

Gil Hoffman

Jerusalem Post, Nov. 19, 2014

 

Today, Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard enters the 30th year of his life sentence for the crime of passing classified information to an ally. As he does so, he is aware that yet another possible door to his long-awaited freedom has just slammed shut. The first time such a door closed was November 21, 1985, when he was prevented from entering the Israeli Embassy in Washington and arrested outside. Today also marks another significant anniversary: 19 years since the day he became eligible for parole after 10 years in prison. Since then, he has decided repeatedly not even to try and seek parole, because his release would be conditional, and his lawyers had told him that he had no chance in a parole hearing where the legal deck would be overwhelmingly stacked against him.

 

Many have questioned why Pollard never even tried the parole path and focused instead on seeking clemency – asking presidents of the United States to commute his life sentence to the time he had already served. But after so many years of failure, that strategy was secretly reconsidered and replaced last year, according to documents and information revealed exclusively to The Jerusalem Post. Pollard finally applied for parole in December 2013. The person who persuaded him to take that step was the man in whose hands his fate lies: US President Barack Obama. Obama’s statements when he came to Israel in March 2013 left no doubt about what approach Pollard should take. The president ended hopes that he would announce clemency for Pollard during the visit as part of a so-called charm offensive. But he hinted that if Pollard were to apply for parole, he would be treated like any other prisoner. “I have no plans for releasing Jonathan Pollard immediately, but what I am going to be doing is make sure that he – like every other American who has been sentenced – is accorded the same kinds of review and same examination of the equities that any other individual would be provided,” Obama told Channel 2 anchorwoman Yonit Levi in an interview. Obama said his obligation as president was to uphold his country’s laws and make sure they were applied consistently, “to make sure that every individual is treated fairly and equally.”

 

Here was the opportunity that Pollard had been waiting for. He felt he had been treated unfairly and unequally for so many years, and now the president was hinting – in his view, even promising the Israeli people on record on the highly rated nightly news – that he would fix that. Pollard’s parole hearing was scheduled for April 1. But then a different opportunity came, the sort Pollard had always made a point of rejecting. Obama was ready to commute Pollard’s sentence as a gesture to Israel for releasing Israeli Arab prisoners as part of an American-brokered diplomatic process with the Palestinians. That process nearly brought Pollard home in time for the Passover Seder, but it ultimately failed. Pollard withdrew his parole application so it would not be connected to a trade for terrorists. Only when the trade talk died down did he reapply for a parole hearing, which was scheduled for July 1. He and the team working for his release then had a limited time to make efforts to ensure the parole hearing would go well. To that end, they enlisted the man who is arguably the most respected Israeli in America – possibly the only Israeli who enjoys a close relationship with Obama: then-president Shimon Peres.

 

Peres’s role in bringing about Pollard’s release was more than symbolic. He was the prime minister at the time of Pollard’s arrest. At the time, he did not alert the embassy staff about Pollard to ensure he would be let in, and he gave the US documents with Pollard’s fingerprints that incriminated him. Many Israelis saw Pollard’s continued incarceration as a lingering stain on Peres’s decades of public service that neither of the medals he recently received in Washington could remove. The two presidents were due to meet in the US capital during Peres’s final tour in office on June 25, six days before the parole hearing. Peres vowed to the people of Israel to take action for Pollard, and the Israeli agent’s pro-bono lawyers prepared him meticulously. Respected New York attorneys Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman, who have represented Pollard for free for 15 years, met with Peres’s aides extensively to explain how the US parole process worked. Lauer reviewed the information with Peres himself at Washington’s Willard Hotel immediately before he met with Obama.

 

Peres’s message to Obama was to be the following: You don’t have to grant clemency. In fact, you can distance yourself from the matter completely. Just privately let the US Justice Department know that you don’t oppose paroling Pollard and letting him leave for Israel. Obama would not need to get his hands dirty, just keep the commitment he had made to Israelis 15 months earlier to treat Pollard fairly, like any other prisoner, and let his parole be assessed naturally on the merits of his case. Following the meeting, Peres’s diplomatic adviser Nadav Tamir reported back to the lawyers with good news: The message had indeed been delivered. Peres’s office leaked to the press that Obama had personally referred the matter to his attorney-general and close confidant Eric Holder – the head of the American Justice Department and the chief law-enforcement officer of the US government. “The entire nation is interested in releasing Pollard, and I am the emissary of the nation,” Peres told reporters after the meeting. “I don’t think of myself as Shimon. I am the representative of the State of Israel, and I speak in the name of its people.”…

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

                                   

                                                                       

Contents        

                                                                                                                                  

PICKING UP THE PIECES OF A LOST CULTURE                                               

Eitan Arom                                                                                                                        

Jerusalem Post, Nov. 19, 2014

 

I’m traveling across the bleak Ukrainian countryside with half a dozen Israeli journalists, two history professors in animated discussion, an employee of Wikipedia and two native speakers of Ukrainian. Together, we form the press attaché for Limmud FSU, an organization that travels the former Soviet Union to stoke the heritage and Jewish life of the Jews still there. We pull off the highway into a town called Brody in Western Ukraine and stop at the main square. In the middle of the overgrown grassy plaza, facing two Soviet-looking apartment blocs and a convenience store, is a synagogue. Or more precisely, what used to be a synagogue – its roof has fallen in and the interior is choked with undergrowth.

 

We all troop out of the bus. I turn up my collar against the damp and chill. The Great Synagogue of Brody is a metaphor for Eastern European Jewry, written in stone. Cut down at the apex of its greatness, once the site of rich culture, legend and scholarship, it is now derelict. It is a faint shadow of what it was, much like the community to which it once played home. And yet, Europe is full of these ruins. Walking around the perimeter of the eerie monument, I ask myself: what am I supposed to feel – other than the cold? Thousands of Jewish cemeteries, schools, mikvaot (ritual baths) and places of worship face a similar fate across Ukraine and the rest of Eastern Europe. Languishing for many long years under the cruel and intentional neglect of the Soviet regime, they now overstretch the resources of the region’s much-diminished Jewish population to protect.

 

It’s hard to know why these derelict or otherwise reconstituted buildings are so important to the Jewish people. Certainly, history has practical value – there’s that oft-repeated idiom about knowing your past to avoid repeating it – but it doesn’t explain why Jewish historiography can put such a heavy focus on individual people, places, stories. Surely the broader picture of a people destroyed by industrialized, political hatred does the trick, right? Yet the ghost of a culture that lives in Eastern Europe holds an attraction for today’s Jews that I don’t pretend to fully understand. Among those traveling with the Limmud FSU press corps is Fania Oz-Salzberger, a professor of history at Haifa University and the daughter of Israeli novel-ist Amos Oz. Rovne is the childhood home of her grandmother, Oz’s mother, and is memorialized in Oz’s novel A Tale of Love and Darkness, soon to be a motion picture starring Natalie Portman. But the Rovne of Oz’s book – a community with more than 20,000 Jews – is gone. The house where Oz-Salzberger’s mother grew up stands (we attended the installment of a plaque at the site) but the inhabitants share no relation with her other than their goodwill. Even in the absence of the Jewish population they once housed – the same population that in-vented the Hassidic movement – the abandoned or re-purposed structures that mark our Eastern European heritage command our inexplicable attention and respect.

 

About three hours by car to the southeast of Rovne is Lviv, where Limmud FSU’s annual festival of culture and learning in Ukraine took place this month. The city of pristine Polish architecture is a draw for history-seekers both Jewish and otherwise. Krysztof Willmann is an amateur historian of Lviv, a Warsaw resident who dedicated himself to researching the place his parents fled after his father ran afoul of the Gestapo. After retiring from his career as a PhD economist, Willmann spent two years in Lviv documenting the rich history of the town. He researches people and places, participating, for example, in the annual International Bruno Schulz Festival celebrating the Jewish artist and critic slaughtered in the Holocaust. It’s a vocation that costs rather than earns him money. He describes finding and purchasing with his own funds a letter written by a famous prewar actress from Lviv.

 

What’s the point of this whole business? Why does Willmann care about an actress from a city he didn’t grow up in? Why do we Jews care about old hulks of buildings that haven’t seen Jewish worship since before the war? Something of an answer to those questions can be found in the achingly tragic and hysterically funny story told in Liev Schreiber’s Everything is Illuminated, based on Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel of the same name. The main character, named Jonathan Safran Foer after the author, is a magpie-like collector of family heirlooms, seeking items for his collection from grandfather’s shtetl in Western Ukraine. When he reaches the site of the shtetl, only one woman remains, a recluse whose sister was his grandfather’s sweetheart. She reveals to Foer that before being killed by the Nazis, her sister left her wedding ring buried under the ground, “in case someone should come searching one day.” “So they would have something to find?” asks Foer’s translator. “No, it does not exist for you,” she answers “You exist for it. You have come because it exists.

 

Stories don’t exist for us. They exist whether we see them there or not, and they exist for their own sake. Given that they are there, collecting them seems the only human thing to do. Foer, Oz-Salzberger, Willmann – these people are collectors. They collect stories, mo-ments, and objects from the past. The exercise is important for its own sake. As a journalist, this is a fact I should probably have grasped by now. After all, my world is made up of stories. I scurry around looking for plotlines, characters, settings, anecdotes, and disseminate them to as many people as possible. I do it for it’s own sake. I do it because these stories exist. Because, unequivocally and above all else, they are human.


 

 

 

Friends, On the Sabbath, tomorrow, congregations across Canada, will show their solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Israel – see the link below. On Tuesday, the terrorists struck at the core of our identity as Jews – of who we are – they deliberately committed a grotesque and monstrous attack against innocent worshippers, rabbis, praying to God in the sanctity of a synagogue, a house of worship in Har Noff Israel.

 

The terrorists want us to be afraid – their goal is to promote fear – now is the time to show strong support for Israel and go to Israel and be there just to make the statement “We will not be intimidated”. People living in Western society who value life and believe in the sanctity of life are shocked at the outrageous attacks committed by these sociopaths with no moral conscience – they are murderers.  How can someone be capable of committing such evil? 

 

In Israel, most restaurants, shops and malls have security at their entrances – in Toronto, many synagogues, schools and community centres have security at their entrances – synagogues in Israel will have to follow suit – pogroms against Jews must stop… Plan on attending a synagogue on Shabbat where we will stand together in solidarity…

[For More Information Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Shirley Anne Haber, The Media Action Group

 

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

 

 

 

Contents           

 

On Topic

 

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks: "To be free, you have to let go of hate." (Video): Stand With Us, Nov. 13, 2014

Domestic Radicalization and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: Max Boot, Commentary, Nov. 18, 2014  —Israel appears to be facing a do-it-yourself terrorist offensive.

The Essentiality of Anger: David M. Weinberg, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 20, 2014 —A grotesque kind of quiet has taken root among Israelis in the Promised Land; a morose passivity that expresses depression and suggests acquiescence.

In This Struggle, Israel Can Prevail: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, Nov. 20, 2014 —During these difficult days of increasing terror, the most urgent question is: What can we do in order to cope optimally with the growing terrorist violence in Israel, knowing that behind the scenes there are several players who are expending intense efforts to bring about an explosion.

 

               

 

 

 

                      

                

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

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PUTIN VIEWS RELUCTANT OBAMA & INEFFECTUAL NATO AS OPPORTUNITY FOR RUSSIAN EXPANSION

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:

 

What Does Vladimir Putin Want?: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 8, 2014 — Vladimir Putin aims to reconstitute the Russia of the czars.

Ukraine Abandoned: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Sept. 4, 2014, 2014— At his first press briefing after the beheading of American James Foley, President Obama stunned the assembled when he admitted that he had no strategy for confronting ISIS, a.k.a. the Islamic State, in Syria.

NATO Sends a Message of Uncertain Resolve: George F. Will, National Post, Sept. 7, 2014— Speaking on Aug. 29 — at a fundraiser, of course — Barack Obama applied to a platitude the varnish of smartphone sociology, producing this intellectual sunburst: “The truth of the matter is, is that the world has always been messy…”

NATO Needs U.S. Leadership and a Return to Action: Derek Burney & Fen Osler Hampson, Globe & Mail, Sept. 2, 2014 — The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is desperately in search of new purpose and resolve.

 

On Topic Links

 

How NATO Backed Russia Into a Corner: David Pugliese, Postmedia, Sept. 4, 2014

NATO’s Gesture Won’t Deter Putin: Max Boot, Commentary, Sept. 2, 2014

Strange Bedfellows: Putin and Europe’s Far Right: Alina Polyakova, World Affairs, Sept. 10, 2014

A “Berlin Airlift” for the Ukrainian Winter: Michael Rubin, Commentary, Sept. 2, 2014

Russia Is Building a Star Fort on This Strategic Arctic Island: Annalee Newitz, IO9, Sept. 9, 2014                

 

                            

WHAT DOES VLADIMIR PUTIN WANT?                                                              

Bret Stephens                                                                                                        

Wall Street Journal, Sept. 8, 2014

 

Vladimir Putin aims to reconstitute the Russia of the czars. He wants to avenge the historic humiliation, as he sees it, that was the collapse of the Soviet Union. He's got to do what he's got to do to stay in power, probably for life, if necessary by whipping Russians into nationalist frenzy. And he wants to have a lot of fun while doing all of it. To adapt Mel Brooks : It should be good to be king.

 

All true. But maybe Mr. Putin is after bigger game. And maybe our failure to think about how Mr. Putin thinks about himself explains our consistent failure to anticipate his moves and check his ambitions. "What a novel my life has been!" said Napoleon on St. Helena. It wasn't an idle remark: Napoleon had been an aspiring writer as a young man. Suppose Mr. Putin is also living his life as a novel. How would he write the next chapter?

 

Here's a guess: Not by quivering in fear that a fresh round of sanctions is going to spark the third Russian Revolution, or that NATO is going to stop him from another advance into Ukraine or some other tempting neighbor. There's a reason men who are on a roll never take a break: audentes fortuna iuvat. Fortune favors the daring. Right now, fortune for Mr. Putin comes, first, in the shape of Barack Obama. The Russian was bound to see the American president as the classic self-infatuated liberal, half as clever and twice as weak as he imagines himself to be. As a former KGB agent working in East Germany, Mr. Putin would have had training, and perhaps experience, in reducing these types to human rubble.

 

Nothing Mr. Obama has done since coming to office can have dissuaded Mr. Putin from that impression. The U.S. president isn't an impediment to Mr. Putin's ambitions. He's an opportunity. When else will Mr. Putin have an American adversary who thinks that foreign policy is a global popularity contest, and that it's OK for Russia to gain ground, territorially speaking, so long as the U.S. retains ground, morally speaking? Could anything be better?

 

Well, yes: Energy prices that remain stubbornly high, despite global supply increases, shoring up Russia's export earnings in an economy that should be in free fall. A European recovery that remains stubbornly elusive, despite ultra-loose monetary policy, causing deep reluctance to increase military spending or impose punitive sanctions on Russia. The return of the politics of illiberalism to Europe, nowhere seen more clearly than in the rise of the Front National in France. (NF leader Marine Le Pen would defeat French President François Hollande 54% to 46% if the election were held tomorrow, according to a recent Ifop poll.)

 

All this is wind in Mr. Putin's sails, and it does no good to say that, in the long run, Russia is in decline and possibly doomed. "In Russia," historian Dietrich Geyer once observed, "expansion was an expression of economic weakness, not exuberant strength." That may be a consolation for future generations, assuming the pattern holds. But it doesn't help present-day Ukrainians, Estonians, Kazakhs or Poles. In other words, Mr. Putin has the incentive, and probably the desire, to move with haste. He will want to finish his "land bridge" to Crimea by way of the port of Mariupol. He will be tempted by provinces in northern Kazakhstan where there are large Russian populations. And he will give serious thought to a Baltic incursion, if only to showcase the hollowness of NATO's military guarantees.

 

Friday's kidnapping by Russian forces of an Estonian counterintelligence officer named Eston Kohver, just as NATO was wrapping up its summit in Wales and in the same week that Mr. Obama visited Tallinn, was a carefully premeditated expression of contempt—and intent. With Mr. Putin, humiliating his opponents tends to be the appetizer; the main course is their destruction. Just ask former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, or former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, or now, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

 

Which brings us, at last, to the question with which we began: What does Mr. Putin want? It can't be money, power or territory, all of which he has in effectively unlimited supply. It could be his own political standing, although that's debatable: His political grip was plenty tight before he decided to intervene in Ukraine. It might be his concept of the Russian national interest, although that's also debatable: For Mr. Putin, Russia is as much the vehicle of his self-interest as he is the vehicle of Russia's. So it usually is with strongmen purporting to act for the sake of the nation.

 

In 1838, a 28-year-old lawyer gave a speech to the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Ill., on the subject of "the perpetuation of our political institutions." There were some men, said Abraham Lincoln, whose ambitions could be satisfied with a "gubernatorial or a presidential chair." But that was not true for everyone. "Think you these places would satisfy an Alexander, a Caesar, or a Napoleon?—Never!" Such men, Lincoln warned, would seek distinction at any cost, and if there was "nothing left to be done in the way of building up, he would boldly set to the task of pulling down." Mr. Putin is no Bonaparte. But it's beginning to look like he thinks of himself as one. A West that continues to pursue a policy of toothless opposition and de facto accommodation will feed his vanity, his ambitions and his illusions.

 

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UKRAINE ABANDONED                                                                                          

Charles Krauthammer                                                                                      

Washington Post, Sept. 4, 2014

 

At his first press briefing after the beheading of American James Foley, President Obama stunned the assembled when he admitted that he had no strategy for confronting ISIS, a.k.a. the Islamic State, in Syria. Yet it was not nearly the most egregious, or consequential, thing he said. Idiotic, yes. You’re the leader of the free world. Even if you don’t have a strategy — indeed, especially if you don’t — you never admit it publicly. However, if Obama is indeed building a larger strategy, an air campaign coordinated with allies on the ground, this does take time. George W. Bush wisely took a month to respond to 9/11, preparing an unusual special ops-Northern Alliance battle plan that brought down Taliban rule in a hundred days.

 

We’ll see whether Obama comes up with an ISIS strategy. But he already has one for Ukraine: Write it off. Hence the more shocking statement in that Aug. 28 briefing: Obama declaring Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — columns of tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery and a thousand troops brazenly crossing the border — to be nothing new, just “a continuation of what’s been taking place for months now.” And just to reaffirm his indifference and inaction, Obama mindlessly repeated his refrain that the Ukraine problem has no military solution. Yes, but does he not understand that diplomatic solutions are largely dictated by the military balance on the ground? Vladimir Putin’s invasion may be nothing new to Obama. For Ukraine, it changed everything. Russia was on the verge of defeat. Now Ukraine is. That’s why Ukraine is welcoming a cease-fire that amounts to capitulation.

 

A month ago, Putin’s separatist proxies were besieged and desperate. His invasion to the southeast saved them. It diverted the Ukrainian military from Luhansk and Donetsk, allowing the rebels to recover, while Russian armor rolled over Ukrainian forces, jeopardizing their control of the entire southeast. Putin even boasted that he could take Kiev in two weeks. Why bother? He’s already fracturing and subjugating Ukraine, re-creating Novorossiya (“New Russia”), statehood for which is one of the issues that will be up for, yes, diplomacy.  Which makes incomprehensible Obama’s denial to Ukraine of even defensive weapons — small arms, anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles. Indeed, his stunning passivity in the face of a dictionary-definition invasion has not just confounded the Ukrainians. It has unnerved the East Europeans. Hence Obama’s reassurances on his trip to the NATO summit in Wales. First up, Estonia. It seems to be Obama’s new “red line.” I’m sure they sleep well tonight in Tallinn now that Obama has promised to stand with them. (Remember the State Department hashtag #UnitedforUkraine?)

 

To back up Obama’s words, NATO is touting a promised rapid-reaction force of about 4,000 to be dispatched to pre-provisioned bases in the Baltics and Poland within 48 hours of an emergency. (Read: Russian invasion.) first, we’ve been hearing about European rapid-reaction forces for decades. They’ve amounted to nothing. Second, even if this one comes into being, it is a feeble half-measure. Not only will troops have to be assembled, dispatched, transported and armed as the fire bell is ringing, but the very sending will require some affirmative and immediate decision by NATO. Try getting that done. The alliance is famous for its reluctant, slow and fractured decision-making. (See: Ukraine.) By the time the Rapid Reactors arrive, Russia will have long overrun their yet-to-be-manned bases.

 

The real news from Wales is what NATO did not do. It did not create the only serious deterrent to Russia: permanent bases in the Baltics and eastern Poland that would act as a tripwire. Tripwires produce automaticity. A Russian leader would know that any invading force would immediately encounter NATO troops, guaranteeing war with the West. Which is how we kept the peace in Europe through a half-century of Cold War. U.S. troops in West Germany could never have stopped a Russian invasion. But a Russian attack would have instantly brought America into a war — a war Russia could not countenance. It’s what keeps the peace in Korea today. Even the reckless North Korean leadership dares not cross the DMZ, because it would kill U.S. troops on its way to Seoul, triggering war with America.

 

That’s what deterrence means. And what any rapid-reaction force cannot provide. In Wales, it will nonetheless be proclaimed a triumph. In Estonia, in Poland, as today in Ukraine, it will be seen for what it is — a loud declaration of reluctance by an alliance led by a man who is the very embodiment of ambivalence.                                                                       

Contents
                       

NATO SENDS A MESSAGE OF UNCERTAIN RESOLVE                          

George F. Will                                                                                                                 

National Post, Sept. 7, 2014

 

Speaking on Aug. 29 — at a fundraiser, of course — Barack Obama applied to a platitude the varnish of smartphone sociology, producing this intellectual sunburst: “The truth of the matter is, is that the world has always been messy. In part, we’re just noticing now because of social media and our capacity to see in intimate detail the hardships that people are going through.” So, if 14th- century Europeans had had Facebook and Twitter, they would have noticed how really disagreeable the Hundred Years’ War was.

 

Obama did have a piece of a point: Graphic journalism, now augmented by billions of people with cameras in their pockets, can give an inflammatory immediacy to events. His intention was to dispel the impression that the world has become not just unusually “messy” but especially dangerous. Unfortunately, this impression derives not from social media static but from stark facts, including this one: A nation with nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles is dismembering another nation. And the nuclear power is governed by an unconstrained despot fueled by a dangerous brew of disappointment, resentment and contempt.

 

Writing for The Federalist website, professor Tom Nichols of the Naval War College describes Vladimir Putin as neither a realist nor a nationalist but rather someone saturated with Soviet nostalgia. In 1975, Nichols writes, the world seemed to be going the Soviet Union’s way. Extraordinary U.S. exertions in Vietnam had ended in defeat, a president had resigned and the economy was sagging into stagflation. “By contrast,” Nichols says, “the Soviets were at the top of their game,” with a modernized military and a new generation of missiles: “The correlation of forces, the great wheel of history itself, was finally turning in their favour,” and because history’s ratchet clicks only in a progressive direction, “it would never turn back.” 

 

In 1975, Putin, 23, joined “the most elite Soviet institution,” the KGB, which would guarantee “he would be somebody in the brave new Soviet future.” But in the 1980s, “he watched the Soviet descent to oblivion begin, accelerate, and then end in a humiliating wreck.” Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and a Polish pope ignited a Western resurgence — military, economic and moral. By 1990, Putin was 38 and aggrieved. Today, “Putin’s speeches and public utterances,” Nichols notes, “tend to show more nostalgia for his Soviet youth than his Russian adulthood.” Remember “the explosion of bad taste and Soviet kitsch” in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. A participant in NATO’s 1949 founding famously said that the alliance’s purpose was to protect Europe by keeping “the Russians out, the Americans in and the Germans down.” When the Cold War, which prompted NATO’s creation, ended, the alliance began to gingerly undertake what it calls “out-of-area operations,” as in Afghanistan. Now, however, it is back to its original business of keeping Russian forces out of NATO members, which now include Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, the last two being contiguous to Russia.

 

If NATO’s meeting in Wales was, as one European defence intellectual said, a “credibility summit,” it was at most a semi-success. The decision to augment by around 4,000 an existing rapid response force of around 13,000 is a far cry from Poland’s request that 10,000 NATO troops be stationed with heavy weapons in that country. Watching NATO flinch from this, Putin might reasonably conclude that NATO is ambivalent about Article 5 (an attack on any member will be considered an attack on all) and therefore wants its means of responding to remain some distance from where events might require a response.

 

Although ambiguity has its uses, a British diplomat of the early 20th century, Lord Curzon, reportedly advised that it is generally wise to know your own mind and make sure your adversary knows it, too. Putin might read NATO’s mind in what Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times calls “the learned helplessness” of American allies who “have come to rely excessively on the U.S. to guarantee their security.”

 

Time was, Rachman writes, America accounted for roughly half of NATO’s military spending; now it accounts for about 75 percent. Only four of NATO’s 28 members (America, Britain, Estonia and penurious Greece) fulfill their obligation to spend at least 2 percent of GDP on defense, and Britain may soon fall below that threshold as its army shrinks to about 80,000, its smallest size since after Waterloo (1815). As Putin casts a cold eye on his enemies, he might reasonably infer from their atrophied military muscles that they have palsied wills.

 

                                                                               

Contents                       

 

                      

NATO NEEDS U.S. LEADERSHIP AND A RETURN TO ACTION                      

Derek Burney & Fen Osler Hampson                                                                     

Globe & Mail, Sept. 2, 2014

 

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is desperately in search of new purpose and resolve. When alliance leaders meet in Wales this week, the escalating incursions by Russia in Ukraine and the Islamic State’s barbaric antics in Iraq and Syria provide the immediate challenges. What is urgently needed is leadership from the United States, a semblance of strategy and tangible commitments from the disparate allies to confront these major threats to global order. Fine words and carefully crafted statements will not suffice.

 

Thus far, NATO’s expansion to 28 members has added more jumble and mumble than commitment. NATO has become flabby and increasingly irrelevant. Repeated calls to increase defence spending, including most recently by a new group of policy experts in their June report to the secretary-general, have largely fallen on deaf years. For the past decade, NATO summits have been dull or meaningless, more posturing than purpose. The U.S. penchant to “lead from behind” has not inspired. Nor has President Barack Obama’s refrain about not “doing stupid stuff.”

 

The alliance’s record in Afghanistan and Libya is mixed at best. With a botched presidential election and no immediate resolution of Afghanistan’s leadership crisis in sight, a more certain U.S.-ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) commitment may be needed to prevent an implosion. The 2011 campaign to topple Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and avert a major humanitarian disaster drew no support from Germany and NATO’s Eastern European members. Libya’s recent descent into tribal and sectarian warfare is a stunning indictment of a job half-done and a failure to calculate the consequences and what was needed to avert chaos after Mr. Gadhafi’s removal.

 

Despite all the rhetoric that sanctions against Russia are working, President Vladimir Putin is still on a roll. Calling bluntly for a “New Russia” and “statehood” for Eastern Ukraine as he brazenly increases overt military action, Mr. Putin is banking on a tepid alliance response. The EU’s weekend decision to kick the sanctions can down the road yet again is not likely to change his assumption or his behaviour. This is the gravest crisis confronting NATO. As two U.S. elder statesmen, George Shultz and William Perry, contended recently in The Wall Street Journal, either NATO must collectively act with training and military assistance to Ukraine, or the U.S. should act alone to help the Ukrainians defend their own country.

 

In Central Europe, NATO should make precise commitments to the new entrants, providing troops on the ground, new military bases and anti-ballistic missile defence. Canada needs to strengthen ties too, explicitly with Poland, the Czech Republic and the Baltic states, with whom we have common interests, while supporting efforts to inspire a lead U.S. role and concrete support for Ukraine.

 

The Middle East is trickier. Sporadic air strikes may have slowed the momentum of the Islamic State’s territorial gains, but there is little evidence of a strategy to eradicate the “cancer.” This is not a fight for NATO and the West alone. More is needed from regional players, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, who are not immune to the threat, and Qatar, which has played a major role in financing the Islamic State and Hamas. A full-scale assault on the Islamic State’s funding sources should be a collective priority, as should be concrete actions against those who preach in support of these radicals from the comfort of mosques in “liberal” democracies. Cutting off oil and other purchases from supporters will help.

 

The moderate voices of Islam should take a clearer stand before revulsion against the depravity of the Islamic State turns against the faith itself. Saying that this battle is not really about religion is false comfort to those being persecuted and slaughtered in the name of religion. Because many Western citizens have joined forces literally with the Islamists, collective action should be taken to revise and tighten immigration procedures, giving much more prominence to well-founded concerns about the direct, lethal threat such individuals pose to our security.

 

Long gone are the days of the NATO summitry of the 1970s, when secretary of state Henry Kissinger provided masterful beginnings to the discussions and the U.S. led from out front. There was no doubt then about unity, resolve or leadership. The U.S. must lead again now by putting down some tangible markers against new, existential threats and seeing who responds. Those who do should get a say and those who do not should rest on the sidelines. It is time for deeds, not pulpy communiqués.

 

 

On Topic

 

How NATO Backed Russia Into a Corner: David Pugliese, Postmedia, Sept. 4, 2014 —NATO leaders meeting here have been quick to brand Russia an aggressor state, intent on dominating Eastern Europe.

NATO’s Gesture Won’t Deter Putin: Max Boot, Commentary, Sept. 2, 2014 —You can bet Vladimir Putin is shaking in his Gucci loafers as he learns that NATO is going to respond to his aggression in Ukraine … by creating a rapid-reaction force of 4,000 troops that could deploy to Eastern Europe.

Strange Bedfellows: Putin and Europe’s Far Right: Alina Polyakova, World Affairs, Sept. 10, 2014—There’s love in the air between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Western Europe’s far-right political parties.

A “Berlin Airlift” for the Ukrainian Winter: Michael Rubin, Commentary, Sept. 2, 2014—Russian aggression remains very much in the headlines, as President Vladimir Putin last week re-opened the southern front and more recently reportedly bragged that he could capture the Ukraine in just a couple weeks.

Russia Is Building a Star Fort on This Strategic Arctic Island: Annalee Newitz, IO9, Sept. 9, 2014—For decades, Wrangel Island has been classified as a nature preserve. Situated in the icy Chukchi Sea which flows between the Russian and Alaskan coasts, this quiet, hilly island is now home to a rapidly-growing Russian military base comprised of "prefabricated modules" arranged in a star formation.

               

 

 

 

                      

                

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

MORAL CLARITY: “PRO-PALESTINIAN” “SLACKTIVISTS” & OTHER HAMAS APOLOGISTS ONLY MAKING THINGS WORSE; ARE SEPARATIST REBELS BEHIND DOWNED MH17?

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

 

What to Do after MH 17: Tom Rogan, National Review, July 17, 2014— Consider what we know so far. First, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down by a missile team operating in separatist-controlled territory proximate to Ukraine’s Russian border. Rebels in this area have a recent record of engaging aircraft.

Moral Clarity in Gaza: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, July 17, 2014 — Israel accepts an Egyptian-proposed Gaza cease-fire; Hamas keeps firing.

‘Pro-Palestinian’ Activists Are Making Things Worse For the People They Claim to Support: Pat Johnson, National Post, July 17, 2013— Can we get some clarity around the term “pro-Palestinian”?

Paris Synagogue Attack: Yvette Alt Miller, Aish, July 14, 2013— “It was a meeting for peace – peace for the Israelis, and peace for the Arabs.”

Israeli Surgeons Save the Lives of Palestinian Children as Hamas Continues its Rocket Assault on Israel: Barbara Kay, National Post, July 16, 2014— Yesterday, 13 Palestinian children from Gaza and the West Bank arrived at Israel’s Wolfson Medical Center in Holon (near Tel Aviv) to undergo life-saving heart operations.

 

On Topic Links

 

International Law and Human Shields: Erol Araf & Frederick Krantz, CIJR, July 16, 2014

Sixth Lesson of the Gaza War: Obama Should Learn From Canada: Moshe Phillips & Benyamin Korn, Algemeiner, July 17, 2014

Paris: Police Ban Pro-Palestinian Protest Due to Anti-Semitism: Arutz Sheva, July 16, 2014

Bloodguilt Over Jews Leads to Blood Libels Against Jews: Ben Shapiro, Frontpage, July 16, 2013

As Violent Anti-Semitism Rises, Will France Expel its Jews?: Seth Lipsky, Ha’aretz, July 16, 2014

 

WHAT TO DO AFTER MH 17                                                                          

Tom Rogan                                                                                                                  

National Review, July 17, 2014

 

Consider what we know so far. First, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down by a missile team operating in separatist-controlled territory proximate to Ukraine’s Russian border. Rebels in this area have a recent record of engaging aircraft. Second, Ukraine’s government has limited military presence where MH 17 was lost. Third, multiple sources (admittedly of varying reliability)have linked the attack to pro-Russian rebels. Fourth, it takes more than a thug with a grudge to knock down a plane flying 33,000 feet above the Earth.

 

As I’ve explained before, any antiaircraft engagement, let alone one at such altitude, takes “the collection and application of intelligence, the patience to hold fire until the critical moment, and the use of Russian surface-to-air” capabilities. The Donetsk rebels are agents of Russian policy. If they are responsible for downing Flight MH 17, Russia will bear significant culpability. Over the past few months, I’ve documented Russia’s calculating military strategy in Ukraine. Alternating among direct military intervention, economic blackmail, and covert action, President Putin has manipulated Ukraine’s chaos to his own advantage. Occasionally offering fig leafs, he’s kept the West on the back foot. His success has been striking. In fact, at West Point just a month ago, President Obama claimed a quiet victory for American policy in Ukraine.

 

Meanwhile, for weeks now, a river of Russian weapons and personnel has flooded into eastern Ukraine. This supply train is why, along with the EU, the White House imposed new sanctions on Russia earlier this week. Those sanctions are helpful but insufficient. Russian intelligence retains its institutional legacy from the KGB, and it’s operating in Ukraine as you’d expect. As the New York Times noted last week, epitomizing this tactic is Igor Girkin, who goes by the nom de guerre “Strelkov.” Leading a militia in Donetsk Oblast, with his Stalin-esque moustache and brutal ferocity, Girkin encapsulates Russia’s commitment to Putin’s 21st century iron curtain. While Putin pretends that Girkin and co. are independent actors beyond the Kremlin’s authority, the opposite is in fact true. A career Russian intelligence officer until last year, Girkin is the archetypal Russian contract agent (a former intelligence officer hired on an unofficial basis). Contract agents afford the Russian government  operational assets in Ukraine to direct while retaining a pretense of deniability (for incidents like the MH17 tragedy). This strategy is Russian intelligence 101: arrogant, brutal and literally irradiated by violence.

 

Moreover, the rebels’ tactics suggests the Russians’ strategy. At times, they’ve been highly aggressive — they downed a Ukrainian military transport plane, killing all 49 aboard, last month — and at times they’ve been more subdued. This double-edged trickery has fostered the West’s belief that a softly-softly approach can win a compromise with Russia. It’s a delusion with high costs. And many analysts claim that Ukraine’s submission to the Russian orbit is ultimately inevitable. They’re wrong — there is much more we can do. We must realign our fundamental understanding of Russian power and ambition in Europe. We must realize that what Putin seeks is not simply a sphere of influence, but a sphere of domination. Whatever Western multilateralists might believe, from Syria to Ukraine, Putin embraces raw power to pursue his objectives. With formative years participating in the domination of East Germany, he’s a natural continuation of Soviet authoritarianism. He’s capable of anything. The Cold War has ended, but we must resist the warm blanket of self-deception. If MH 17 was downed by separatist rebels, a serious response, including full-spectrum sanctions on the Russian economy and provision of new military support to the Ukrainian Army, must follow. The “reset” has a tombstone, and its name is MH 17.

 

Contents

MORAL CLARITY IN GAZA                                                                                    

Charles Krauthammer                                                                                                  

Washington Post, July 17, 2014

 

Israel accepts an Egyptian-proposed Gaza cease-fire; Hamas keeps firing. Hamas deliberately aims rockets at civilians; Israel painstakingly tries to avoid them, actually telephoning civilians in the area and dropping warning charges, so-called roof knocking. “Here’s the difference between us,” explains the Israeli prime minister. “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.” Rarely does international politics present a moment of such moral clarity. Yet we routinely hear this Israel-Gaza fighting described as a morally equivalent “cycle of violence.” This is absurd. What possible interest can Israel have in cross-border fighting? Everyone knows Hamas set off this mini-war. And everyone knows the proudly self-declared raison d’etre of Hamas: the eradication of Israel and its Jews.

 

Apologists for Hamas attribute the blood lust to the Israeli occupation and blockade. Occupation? Does no one remember anything? It was less than 10 years ago that worldwide television showed the Israeli army pulling die-hard settlers off synagogue roofs in Gaza as Israel uprooted its settlements, expelled its citizens, withdrew its military and turned every inch of Gaza over to the Palestinians. There was not a soldier, not a settler, not a single Israeli left in Gaza. And there was no blockade. On the contrary. Israel wanted this new Palestinian state to succeed. To help the Gaza economy, Israel gave the Palestinians its 3,000 greenhouses that had produced fruit and flowers for export. It opened border crossings and encouraged commerce. The whole idea was to establish the model for two states living peacefully and productively side by side. No one seems to remember that, simultaneous with the Gaza withdrawal, Israel dismantled four smaller settlements in the northern West Bank as a clear signal of Israel’s desire to leave the West Bank as well and thus achieve an amicable two-state solution. This is not ancient history. This was nine years ago.

 

And how did the Gaza Palestinians react to being granted by the Israelis what no previous ruler, neither Egyptian, nor British, nor Turkish, had ever given them — an independent territory? First, they demolished the greenhouses. Then they elected Hamas. Then, instead of building a state with its attendant political and economic institutions, they spent the better part of a decade turning Gaza into a massive military base, brimming with terror weapons, to make ceaseless war on Israel. Where are the roads and rail, the industry and infrastructure of the new Palestinian state? Nowhere. Instead, they built mile upon mile of underground tunnels to hide their weapons and, when the going gets tough, their military commanders. They spent millions importing and producing rockets, launchers, mortars, small arms, even drones. They deliberately placed them in schools, hospitals, mosques and private homes to better expose their own civilians. (Just Thursday, the U.N. announced that it found 20 rockets in a Gaza school.) And from which they fire rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

 

Why? The rockets can’t even inflict serious damage, being almost uniformly intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system. Even West Bank leader Mahmoud Abbas has asked: “What are you trying to achieve by sending rockets?” It makes no sense. Unless you understand, as Tuesday’s Post editorial explained, that the whole point is to draw Israeli counterfire. This produces dead Palestinians for international television. Which is why Hamas perversely urges its own people not to seek safety when Israel drops leaflets warning of an imminent attack. To deliberately wage war so that your own people can be telegenically killed is indeed moral and tactical insanity. But it rests on a very rational premise: Given the Orwellian state of the world’s treatment of Israel (see: the U.N.’s grotesque Human Rights Council), fueled by a mix of classic anti-Semitism, near-total historical ignorance and reflexive sympathy for the ostensible Third World underdog, these eruptions featuring Palestinian casualties ultimately undermine support for Israel’s legitimacy and right to self-defense. In a world of such Kafkaesque ethical inversions, the depravity of Hamas begins to make sense. This is a world in which the Munich massacre is a movie and the murder of Klinghoffer is an opera — both deeply sympathetic to the killers. This is a world in which the U.N. ignores humanity’s worst war criminals while incessantly condemning Israel, a state warred upon for 66 years that nonetheless goes to extraordinary lengths to avoid harming the very innocents its enemies use as shields. It’s to the Israelis’ credit that amid all this madness they haven’t lost their moral scruples. Or their nerve. Those outside the region have the minimum obligation, therefore, to expose the madness and speak the truth. Rarely has it been so blindingly clear.

                                                         

Contents

‘PRO-PALESTINIAN’ ACTIVISTS ARE MAKING

THINGS WORSE FOR THE PEOPLE THEY CLAIM TO SUPPORT        

Pat Johnson                                                                                                                      

National Post, July 17, 2014

 

Can we get some clarity around the term “pro-Palestinian”? After years of attending “pro-Palestinian” events in Canada and covering them for the media (admittedly including unapologetically pro-Israel media), I am convinced that most of those who self-define as pro-Palestinian are not making things better for Palestinians. They are making things worse. Israel’s air war in Gaza has now killed more than 100 people. Around the world, there’s concern and anger. These concerns are appropriate — war is horrible, and any number of deaths should trouble us. But given that this war is happening, let’s focus on the narrower question of how to minimize civilian deaths, now and in future conflicts. How bad is this war compared to others? Are Israel’s attacks indiscriminate?

 

First, it’s important not to get consumed by whether you love or hate Israel. There will be other wars in other places. We need to build rules that apply everywhere. Second, we don’t need to debate the conduct of Hamas. Hamas rejects the whole idea that it’s wrong to target civilians. So behaving better than Hamas isn’t a standard worth talking about. Let’s focus instead on what Israel is doing. The fate of Palestinians right now is a major global concern, judging by social media activity, outrage at the UN, protests over the weekend in cities across Canada, and a rally in Paris that ended in an attack on a synagogue by a mob shouting “Death to the Jews.” Yet, for all their chanting and occasional terrorizing of Jews, “pro-Palestinians” rarely do anything that helps actual Palestinians. They don’t raise much money for Palestinian aid. (In fairness, they don’t need to; Palestinians receive, by most accounts, more foreign aid per capita than any people on the planet, yet still the dystopic mess.) They do not volunteer for or fund organizations that might create the infrastructures of a civil society in an eventually independent Palestine. They have done nothing to encourage democratic development there. They do not advocate for academic freedom, promote economic growth or demand equality for women and minorities in Palestine. They are slacktivists who, as far as I can see, serve only as apologists for the tyrants and killers who lead Fatah and Hamas.

 

They absurdly accuse Israel of apartheid, while making common cause with a Palestinian Authority whose “moderate” leader Mahmoud Abbas repeatedly promises that an independent Palestine will be totally Jew-free. This implies a bigger problem: that elements in Canada — trade unions, liberal churches, campus groups, academics — have been poisoned by association with a “pro-Palestinian” movement that is not at all the progressive cause it’s prettied up as for domestic consumption. Even the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid does not help LGBTQ Palestinians, instead seeking to harm them further. The group’s sole raison d’être seems to be to destroy Israel, the only sanctuary in the region for Arabs who want to live a gay life openly, safely and legally. For decades, “pro-Palestinian” activists have helped ensure that the lives of Palestinians remain mired in violence, poverty, oppression and hopelessness. Had overseas “friends” encouraged Palestinian leaders to stop inciting their people to blow themselves up and instead to accept any of the countless proposals put on the table by Israel, the United States, the Quartet, Arab states and others, going back to the UN in 1947, there would be peace and a Palestinian state now…

 

“Pro-Palestinian” activists are a fanatical, uncritical worldwide cheering section that goads Palestinians to seek nothing less than the complete eradication of Israel. They do not demand of Palestinians nor demonstrate themselves (as we saw in the brawl at Palestine House in Mississauga, Ont., this month) the moderation, compromise, tolerance or coexistence required for peace. Instead, they promote “resistance” — an absolutist, unyielding, hate-fired dogma that only prolongs the conflict. If there is such a thing as a genuine pro-Palestinian activist, I don’t think I’ve met one yet, despite spending most of my career in places where I might reasonably expect to find them. At the dozens of “pro-Palestinian” meetings and rallies I have attended, whenever a hat has been passed to raise money, it has not been to fund anything of value to Palestinians. It’s usually to facilitate yet more junkets by grandstanding Canadian tragedy tourists to embark on useless and sometimes fatal efforts like the 2010 flotilla to Gaza. The only value these publicity stunts seem to have is producing PowerPoint extravaganzas affirming that, yep, things are pretty bad over there. The apparent objective is not alleviating the problems, but crowdfunding more trips to conflict zones for thrill-seeking Israel-haters…

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

 

Contents

PARIS SYNAGOGUE ATTACK                                                             

Yvette Alt Miller                                                                                                              

Aish, July 14, 2014

 

“It was a meeting for peace – peace for the Israelis, and peace for the Arabs.” That’s how Monsieur Serge Benhaim described it in an exclusive interview with Aish.com. President of the one of the largest synagogues in Europe, Monsieur Benhaim and his colleagues wanted to do something to help promote peace in the Middle East. They decided to hold a special community wide service at Synagogue Don Isaac Abravanel la Roquette in Paris. Located in Paris’ fashionable 11th arrondissement, this Orthodox, Sephardic synagogue is a vibrant place. Hundreds of people throng its Shabbat services each week; many members are families with young children. As the day of the prayer service approached, the mood in France darkened. Anti-Israel rallies were planned for Paris and the French city of Lille; some of the language being used to describe the events was violent. “On Friday morning we also heard that there would be an anti-Israel rally nearby at the same time,” Monsieur Benhaim recalled…

 

Tensions continued to rise. Saturday night, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a synagogue in the Paris suburb Aulnay sous Bois and two armed men were arrested as they approached the entrance of another synagogue in the 20th arrondissement of Paris. On Sunday, July 13, 2014 as the anti-Israel rally in the heart of Paris began, 8,000 Parisians flocked to hear denunciations of Jews and the Jewish state. Jonathan Simon-Sellem, a French-Israeli journalist who was at the scene, wrote later that he couldn’t believe his ears. In the iconic heart of Paris, the Place de Bastille, a speaker stood at a microphone shouting “Death to the Jews!” then the Arabic call “Allah Akbar,” repeated by thousands of people. In nearby restaurants and cafes, Parisians observed the events without saying anything. The mob’s incendiary words went unchallenged. As the demonstrators moved through the streets of Paris, there were calls to kill Jews and to trash Jewish shops. A replica of a Hamas missile that hit an Israeli nursery was paraded and widely applauded by the crowd. Meanwhile, in the nearby Synagogue Don Isaac Abravanel, hundreds of men and women, many with babies and children in tow, were streaming in for the peace service. Despite their nervousness at the nearby demonstration – and with renewed assurances from the French police – the synagogue organizers felt ready to start…As the congregants started praying for peace in Israel, the anti-Israel demonstrators were getting closer and more provocative. Minutes into the service, at 6pm, a battle broke out outside between demonstrators and police, a mere 300 meters from the synagogue.

 

Police stemmed the march, diverting it down a boulevard away from the synagogue. Then a mob of 1,000 protestors doubled back, marching on the synagogue. “We heard a big cry and ‘Allah Akbar’ by one thousand people,” Monsieur Benhaim said. Congregants watched in horror as protestors – many armed with knives, axes and broken bottles – stormed the building. The synagogue’s security guards rushed to keep out the intruders. For a few long moments, they fought alone; five sustained light injuries. Then they were relieved by police. The battle outside raged for hours. Another nearby synagogue was pelted with stones. “So we closed the synagogue and we asked everybody to stay inside until everything would be okay,” Monsieur Benhaim said. He heard the mob outside “all the time singing ‘Allah Akbar’ and ‘Kill the Jews’ – if you can call that a song.”… In the aftermath of the siege, France’s president and major ministers were quick to condemn the attack. France’s Interior Minister Manuel Valls denounced it “with the greatest force.” Police were posted at the synagogue the following day, Bastille Day in France. French officials rushed to assure France’s Jews that they will be protected. But after the siege of his synagogue – one of the major Jewish institutions in Europe – Monsieur Benhaim isn’t so sure. For him and many others, the attack on the Synagogue Don Isaac Abravanel is a turning point. “People were really afraid. They didn’t dream of such a situation; people coming to a synagogue to fight and perhaps to kill people. The last time Jewish people have been endangered was the Second World War with the Germans…. A synagogue was something that was very respected; synagogues, cemeteries, schools or hospitals were something holy. This attack is something very new.”…

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

 

Contents

ISRAELI SURGEONS SAVE THE LIVES OF PALESTINIAN CHILDREN

AS HAMAS CONTINUES ITS ROCKET ASSAULT ON ISRAEL

Barbara Kay

National Post, July 16, 2014

 

Yesterday, 13 Palestinian children from Gaza and the West Bank arrived at Israel’s Wolfson Medical Center in Holon (near Tel Aviv) to undergo life-saving heart operations. After their surgeries, they will recover in the nearby Children’s Home. By now, when the sirens announcing in-coming rockets blow, the toddlers there instinctively raise their arms for the volunteers to scoop them to safety in the protected room. But mostly they are busy doing arts and crafts or watching movies (Alvin and the Chipmunks is a favourite).

 

The above reads like wartime propaganda to soften anti-Israel bias, but it’s a 18-year old routine: Palestinian children have been arriving at Wolfson’s clinic every Tuesday for 18 years for treatment by the politically and religiously non-partisan international charity, Save a Child’s Heart (SACH). In the last few weeks, SACH’s medical team, which might involve an Israeli surgeon, a Palestinian anesthetist, a Tanzanian resident and a Canadian intern, have, as usual, serviced children from the whole Arab region, including Syria, Iraq and various African countries. Half are from Gaza and the West Bank. “Children are not part of the conflict,” says SACH’s chief cardiologist, Dr. Akiva Tamir, whose Tuesday clinic takes place rain or shine. Or rockets. SACH is a remarkable multiple award-winning NGO…To date SACH, whose medical staff are not paid for SACH work (SACH’s entire budget is about US $4-million), has mended more than 3,200 young hearts from 46 countries, many in areas wracked by devastation, like Haiti, Sri Lanka and Syria. Their surgical early success rate of 95% is impressive, considering the risks are often higher for children from developing countries. SACH has trained over 80 physicians from all over the globe: China, Ethiopia, Moldova, Nigeria, the Palestinian Authority, Kenya, Russia, Vietnam, Zanzibar and Tanzania. They’ve conducted more than 60 clinics abroad, evaluating 7,500 children in Angola, Congo, Jordan (Iraqi children), Rwanda and Ukraine, and elsewhere.

 

Because they cannot enter certain countries, Israeli SACH doctors rely on Christian organizations to act as middlemen. One particular Jerusalem-based Christian group, Shevet Achim, has played a crucial role in identifying children in need of treatment — hundreds by now — from Iraq and Gaza. The group’s members accompany and transport those children to Israel, providing financial support as needed. (Shevet Achim is Hebrew for “brothers sitting together,” an apt gloss on a Christian organization working with Jewish doctors to save Muslim children.) SACH has affiliates in many countries: the U.S., The Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland and the U.K. And, of course, Canada. SACH Canada was started by the late A. Ephraim Diamond in 1999, with three board members and $60,000 in annual transfers to Israel. Today SACH Canada has 17 members on its senior board, 16 more on the Young Leadership board and annual transfers of $850,000. In a typical summer, 30 to 40 Canadian university and medical students volunteer at Wolfson or the Children’s Home. Dr. Bernard Goldman, now-retired head of cardiac surgery at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, chaired SACH Canada from 2008-13. Which is why SACH speaks to me in a personal way. Dr. Goldman — Bernie to family and friends — is a revered figure in our family. In the early 1970s, when Bernie was a rising star at The Toronto General Hospital, he saved my father’s life…Bernie is the lead author of a beautiful new coffee-table style book, Mending Hearts, Building Bridges, which tells the full story of SACH, with photographs of children SACH has saved that will swell the most cynical heart and give new depth to the words, “He who has health has hope, and he who has hope has everything.” That’s an old Arabic proverb.

 

[Barbara Kay is a CIJR Academic Fellow]

CIJR Wishes all its Friends & Supporters Shabbat Shalom!

On Topic

 

International Law and Human Shields: Erol Araf & Frederick Krantz, CIJR, July 16, 2014 —The cacophony of voices accusing Israel of breaking "international law" and committing "war crimes" has reached a deafening decibel level.

Paris: Police Ban Pro-Palestinian Protest Due to Anti-Semitism: Arutz Sheva, July 16, 2014—Paris police have banned pro-Palestinian activists from demonstrating this Saturday night, an official told AFP Wednesday, after violent protestors blockaded French Jews in a local synagogue and attacked them earlier this week.

Bloodguilt Over Jews Leads to Blood Libels Against Jews: Ben Shapiro, Frontpage, July 16, 2013—If there’s one place on Earth that should understand the danger of Jew hatred, it is Frankfurt, Germany.

As Violent Anti-Semitism Rises, Will France Expel its Jews?: Seth Lipsky, Ha’aretz, July 16, 2014 —Shortly before Nicolas Sarkozy became president, he had lunch at the Four Seasons with a dozen or so New Yorkers. While the government in Jerusalem was trying to protect the Jews of Israel, I asked him, did he feel confident he could protect the Jews of France?

 

 

 

 

 

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

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

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 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.

 

 

Contents
             

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.

 

                               

 

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

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RUSSIA & THE MIDDLE EAST FACING THE CHALLENGE OF AN AGGRESSIVE, AUTOCRATIC RUSSIA—A NEUTRAL ISRAEL(FOR NOW) & A STRONG U.S. POLICY ON SYRIA COULD BE THE SOLUTION

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

 

Vladimir Putin’s 19th-Century Muse: George Jonas, National Post, Apr. 23, 2014— Russia is a natural autocracy. No reason to grab the gun under your pillow: So are most national cultures, at least historically.

Can Israel Be Neutral on Ukraine?: Amotz Asa-El, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 19, 2014 — Bored by life in the opposition and missing his previous career’s action, Moshe Dayan decided to go to Vietnam, take a close look at what then was the world’s only major war, and report his impressions in several newspapers.

Stopping Russia Starts in Syria: Anne-Marie Slaughter, Project Syndicate, Apr. 23, 2014 — The solution to the crisis in Ukraine lies in part in Syria.

What Samuel Huntington Knew: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Apr. 21, 2014 — 'What would happen," Samuel Huntington once wondered, "if the American model no longer embodied strength and success, no longer seemed to be the winning model?"

 

On Topic Links

 

Anti-Semitism From Ukraine to the U.S.: Kenneth L. Marcus, Algemeiner, Apr. 23, 2014

Death, Lies and Propaganda in Eastern Ukraine: Jamie Dettmer, Daily Beast, Apr. 24, 2014

US Reacts to Russia’s Growing Clout, Warming Ties to Egypt by Unfreezing Weapon Aid: Ariel Ben Solomon, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 24, 2014

Russia Said Set to Sell its Top Fighter Jets to Egypt: Times of Israel, Apr. 22, 2014  

Turkey Vulnerable to Rising Russian Power in the Black Sea: Micha’el Tanchum, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 19, 2014

 

VLADIMIR PUTIN’S 19TH-CENTURY MUSE                                             

George Jonas    

National Post, Apr. 23, 2014

                                                           

Russia is a natural autocracy. No reason to grab the gun under your pillow: So are most national cultures, at least historically. It’s a reason, though, for keeping a gun in the bedroom, especially in a rough neighbourhood. Western-style democracy has much to recommend it — I personally wouldn’t want to live under any other system — but it isn’t a law of nature. Societies can and do function in countries based on many different organizing principles. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union 23 years ago, the Russian state has been functioning as a regency. Two successive regents, first Boris Yeltsin and now Vladimir Putin, are keeping the Kremlin cozy for the next monarch to be anointed — or perhaps elected, in a nod to modern times. Elected rulers can be as autocratic as anointed ones. Whatever dynasty the next Czar will come from, old or new, native or foreign, trust the Russian people to recognize their prince.

 

All regencies raise the specter of an ambitious regent usurping the throne for himself, and history is replete with brooding Hamlets alerted by their fathers’ ghosts to dastardly deeds in the castle. Boris Yeltsin was above suspicion in this respect in a way Vladimir Putin certainly isn’t, but I still suggest, as I did when the ex-KGB officer first appeared on the national horizon, that Putin doesn’t think of himself as Czar Peter the Great, but as Prince Aleksandr Gorchakov. Prince Gorchakov was a pivotal figure in 19th century Russian diplomacy in the days of Czars Alexander I, Nicholas I and Alexander II. As Russia’s foreign minister for 25 years, he’s credited with rehabilitating his country’s standing in the world in the wake of the disastrous Crimean War of 1853-1856. After Sevastopol fell to British and French expeditionary forces in 1855, Russia’s stock as a world power sank almost as low as it did following the collapse of the Berlin Wall 135 years later. It took Prince Gorchakov 15 years of cool, unhurried diplomacy to rebuild it. Working under his master, Alexander II — the “reformist” czar who emancipated Russia’s serfs — Gorchakov took his country from the Peace of Paris, which closed the Black Sea to Russia’s warships, all the way to the 1871 Convention of London, which compensated Russia for its losses in the Crimean War.

 

This remarkable achievement — how often do you hear of victors compensating the vanquished? — was brought about by a realistic alignment of power relationships, culminating in clever Russian treaties with Germany and Persia. For his patient pursuit of realpolitik, Gorchakov has been compared with his contemporary, Otto von Bismarck, the Iron Chancellor who put modern Germany on the map — or with our contemporary, Henry Kissinger, a champion of realpolitik. Putin’s desire for a “multi-polar” world is an aspiration shared by statesmen of old, from Prince Metternich to Prince Bismarck. The 20th century was deeply ideological. But the 21st century is shaping up to be more like the 19th century, with ideological divisions counting for less than realpolitik, spheres of influence, and balance of power. Putin’s desire for a “multi-polar” world is an aspiration shared by statesmen of old, from Prince Metternich to Prince Bismarck.

 

As a disciple of Russia’s great foreign-affairs virtuoso of the 19th century, Putin aims to secure for his country a seat at the table where the Great Game is being played, today as much as in Rudyard Kipling’s day. A revival of communism, or any messianic ideology, is not on the Kremlin’s current agenda, but opposition to “unipolarity” — meaning the United States as the world’s only superpower — is. Would the West really go to war to prevent Russia from joining the action being played in her doorway? That’s Putin’s question, to which he pretty much knows the answer. It’s no, of course, are you crazy? If asked, the Obama White House would also oppose the U.S. being the world’s only superpower. The West wouldn’t go to war, not for unipolarity, not for Crimea, not for Ukraine. In fact, a union between Russia and Ukraine would make perfect sense to most people in the West, if only the respective populations wanted it. More sense, anyway, than just about any two member nations of the European Union. Of course, in the case of the EU, the organizing principle is Europe’s fear of itself. Europeans don’t like meeting themselves in dark allays. Their embrace is a boxers’ clinch. Will Ukraine join a Russia it can’t lick? Stay tuned.

                                                                                               

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CAN ISRAEL BE NEUTRAL ON UKRAINE?

Amotz Asa-El

Jerusalem Post, Apr. 19, 2014

 

Bored by life in the opposition and missing his previous career’s action, Moshe Dayan decided to go to Vietnam, take a close look at what then was the world’s only major war, and report his impressions in several newspapers. The Americans – still confident of their victory – rolled out the red carpet for the celebrated general as he landed in Saigon, showing him whatever he wished, from close-range fighting to large-scale deployments, and showering him with briefings, tours and dinners with assorted generals, including the war’s commander, Gen. William Westmoreland. Jerusalem, however, was less enthusiastic. Responding to protestations in the Knesset, even from Dayan’s own Rafi faction, over a famous Israeli personality arguably taking sides in the conflict, foreign minister Abba Eban told the plenary he could not stop a private citizen from traveling wherever he wished. The Jewish state, however, had elaborate and sensitive interests in Asia, and “would welcome any effort that would lead to opening negotiations for a settlement of just peace in this conflict.”

This was 1966, when the IDF’s main weaponry was European, and American aid was modest and strictly civilian. Israel, in short, owed America a lot less than it owes it today. Then again, Israel’s current response to the steadily escalating conflict between Russia and Ukraine smacks of the same reluctance to take sides displayed during the Vietnam War. The only difference is that now there are many more reasons – global, regional and Jewish – to shun the international system’s hottest flash point.

The Ukrainian situation deteriorated twice this week. First, when the interim government in Kiev ordered, for the first time since Russia’s annexation of Crimea, military action, and secondly, when the pro-Russian secessionist euphoria spread beyond Ukraine, to Moldova. With 40,000 Russian troops mobilized on its eastern border, and challenged by ethnic Russian militias roaming its eastern cities, Ukraine ordered a military operation. Retaking an airport lost previously to pro-Russian militias, it initially seemed as if the Ukrainians have a plan and know what they are doing. However, what was initially trumpeted as a Ukrainian “offensive” soon proved hollow, when a lightly armored column was stopped in its tracks by unarmed pro-Russian civilians. The seizure, at the same time, of Ukrainian armored vehicles elsewhere, and their display in the town of Slovyansk a day before three Russians were killed in a skirmish with Ukrainian forces, all raised fears that a bloody clash was but a matter of time…

The West, meanwhile, remained perplexed. As American, European and Ukrainian diplomats prepared to hold talks with Russia Thursday, US President Barack Obama again blamed the crisis on Moscow, but when asked to shift from rhetoric to action he failed to deliver more than the vague vow that each Russian attempt to “destabilize” Ukraine will bear “consequences.” In Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen was not much more specific when he said the American- led alliance will reinforce its presence along its eastern frontiers – apparently referring to NATO members Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary, all former Warsaw Pact members bordering Ukraine. Rasmussen had hardly finished his statement when fresh developments again exposed the West as responding to events rather than shaping them. In Moldova, the former Soviet republic of 3.5 million abutting southwestern Ukraine, the regional parliament of Transnistria formally asked Russia to recognize its secession…In itself, Moldova may still seem marginal for Westerners, but the next candidate for such secessionist emasculation is Latvia, a NATO member more than twice the size of Belgium with a sizable Russian-speaking population directly opposite Stockholm, across the Baltic. In short, at stake is a major clash between Europe and Russia, a confrontation in which America has taken sides hastily and now expects its allies to follow it as it stumbles further into this European fray. The Jewish state, it appears, is politely rejecting this demand.

There was a brief moment during Israel’s infancy when it toyed with the idea of assuming a policy of neutrality between East and West. That quest quickly proved unrealistic, as the Arab states loomed prominently in what became the nonaligned bloc, while the Jewish state could fit nowhere but in the West, whether in terms of its ideals, economy or diplomacy. That is why even during the Korean War, when David Ben-Gurion turned down a request to send troops to fight alongside the US-led international force, Israel did send the South medicines and food, even though the Jewish state was at the time so strapped that it rationed bread, milk and eggs. By 1979, when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, Israel had not even that minimal maneuver space. Whereas America had by then become the IDF’s main supplier, Moscow had severed ties with Jerusalem following the Six Day War and emerged as the center of anti-Israeli gravity, whether in terms of its diplomacy, propaganda, arms exports, emigration policy or oppression of the Jewish faith. It therefore went without saying, when the US decided to boycott the Moscow Olympics of 1980, that Israel would do the same as Uncle Sam.

Today’s situation is different in just about every aspect. First, Russia is not anti-Israel. Not only are relations between Jerusalem and Moscow normal, in many ways they are even warm. Traffic between the two countries is free and hectic, Russia has become Israel’s major oil supplier, it is a potentially deep destination for Israeli exports and the two countries are in the process of finalizing a free-trade agreement.

Then there is the Jewish aspect. Though a million Jews have left, both Russia and Ukraine remain home to sizable Jewish communities. According to last year’s World Jewish Population Survey there were 255,000 Jews in Russia and Ukraine, about a quarter of them in Ukraine. Counting semi-Jews, as Israel must do, the number multiplies. The Jewish state is therefore calculating its treatment of the Ukrainian conflict in a way that considers the fate of the Jews on both its sides.

Israel’s normalization of its ties with Russia is a major strategic asset, the happy aftermath of an epic struggle that was led jointly by Israeli leaders, American statesmen and the Jewish Diaspora. Barack Obama was too young to experience this hard-won struggle, but in Israel it is etched in every political mind, certainly that of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who joined that struggle as an ambassador at the UN, not to mention Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who was born and raised in Soviet Moldova. Then there is the Middle East. The past three years’ upheaval across the Arab world has for now resulted in increased Russian presence and diminishing American prestige. Obama’s failed gambles in Egypt, where he chased Mubarak from power and then failed to avert the Muslim Brotherhood’s removal, have resulted in previously unthinkable arms deals between Cairo and Moscow. Meanwhile, the unfulfilled threat to hit Syria if it uses chemical weapons has further enhanced Russia’s position, as Bashar Assad’s loyal and efficient sponsor. Faced with such a Russian comeback, Israel would be foolhardy to squander its hard-earned relations with post-Communist Russia…

Neutrality in this conflict seems for now Israel’s only plausible choice, and Jerusalem apparently expected Washington to understand this, as indeed does the Israeli opposition, where no one has so far attacked this policy, not even Meretz chairperson and human-rights champion Zehava Gal-On, with or without connection to her own arrival here, as a child, from Soviet Lithuania. That is also why Netanyahu, in a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week, reiterated Israel’s hope that the conflict in the Ukraine would be peacefully resolved – just as Abba Eban once said of Vietnam.                                                                                             

                                                                                               

Contents
                                  

STOPPING RUSSIA STARTS IN SYRIA                                               

Anne-Marie Slaughter

Project Syndicate, Apr. 23, 2014

                                                           

The solution to the crisis in Ukraine lies in part in Syria. It is time for US President Barack Obama to demonstrate that he can order the offensive use of force in circumstances other than secret drone attacks or covert operations. The result will change the strategic calculus not only in Damascus, but also in Moscow, not to mention Beijing and Tokyo. Many argue that Obama's climb-down from his threatened missile strikes against Syria last August emboldened Russian President Vladimir Putin to annex Crimea. But it is more likely that Putin acted for domestic reasons — to distract Russians' attention from their country's failing economy and to salve the humiliation of watching pro-European demonstrators oust the Ukrainian government he backed.

 

Regardless of Putin's initial motivations, he is now operating in an environment in which he is quite certain of the parameters of play. He is weighing the value of further dismemberment of Ukraine, with some pieces either joining Russia or becoming Russian vassal states, against the pain of much stronger and more comprehensive economic sanctions. Western use of force, other than to send arms to a fairly hapless Ukrainian army, is not part of the equation. That is a problem. In the case of Syria, the US, the world's largest and most flexible military power, has chosen to negotiate with its hands tied behind its back for more than three years. This is no less of a mistake in the case of Russia, with a leader like Putin who measures himself and his fellow leaders in terms of crude machismo.

 

It is time to change Putin's calculations, and Syria is the place to do it. Through a combination of mortars that shatter entire city quarters, starvation, hypothermia, and now barrel bombs that spray nails and shrapnel indiscriminately, President Bashar al-Assad's forces have seized the advantage. Slowly but surely, the government is reclaiming rebel-held territory. "Realist" foreign policy analysts openly describe Assad as the lesser evil compared to the Al Qaeda-affiliated members of the opposition; others see an advantage in letting all sides fight it out, tying one another down for years. Moreover, the Syrian government does appear to be slowly giving up its chemical weapons, as it agreed last September to do. The problem is that if Assad continues to believe that he can do anything to his people except kill them with chemicals, he will exterminate his opponents, slaughtering everyone he captures and punishing entire communities, just as his father, Hafez al-Assad, massacred the residents of Hama in 1982. He has demonstrated repeatedly that he is cut from the same ruthless cloth.

 

Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict, Assad has fanned fears of what Sunni opposition forces might do to the Alawites, Druze, Christians and other minorities if they won. But we need not speculate about Assad's behavior. We have seen enough. A US strike against the Syrian government now would change the entire dynamic. It would either force the regime back to the negotiating table with a genuine intention of reaching a settlement, or at least make it clear that Assad will not have a free hand in re-establishing his rule. It is impossible to strike Syria legally so long as Russia sits on the United Nations Security Council, given its ability to veto any resolution authorizing the use of force. But even Russia agreed in February to Resolution 2139, designed to compel the Syrian government to increase flows of humanitarian aid to starving and wounded civilians. Among other things, Resolution 2139 requires that "all parties immediately cease all attacks against civilians, as well as the indiscriminate employment of weapons in populated areas, including shelling and aerial bombardment, such as the use of barrel bombs…."

 

The great irony is that Putin is now seeking to do in Ukraine exactly what Assad has done so successfully: portray a legitimate political opposition as a gang of thugs and terrorists, while relying on provocations and lies to turn non-violent protest into violent attacks that then justify an armed response. Recall that the Syrian opposition marched peacefully under fire for six months before the first units of the Free Syrian Army tentatively began to form. In Ukraine, Putin would be happy to turn a peaceful opposition's ouster of a corrupt government into a civil war. Putin may believe, as Western powers have repeatedly told their own citizens, that NATO forces will never risk the possibility of nuclear war by deploying in Ukraine. Perhaps not. But the Russian forces destabilizing eastern Ukraine wear no insignia. Mystery soldiers can fight on both sides….

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

 

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WHAT SAMUEL HUNTINGTON KNEW                                              

Bret Stephens   

Wall Street Journal, Apr. 21, 2014

 

'What would happen," Samuel Huntington once wondered, "if the American model no longer embodied strength and success, no longer seemed to be the winning model?" The question, when the great Harvard political scientist asked it in 1991, seemed far-fetched. The Cold War was won, the Soviet Union was about to vanish. History was at an end. All over the world, people seemed to want the same things in the same way: democracy, capitalism, free trade, free speech, freedom of conscience, freedom for women. "The day of the dictator is over," George H.W. Bush had said in his 1989 inaugural address. "We know what works: Freedom works. We know what's right: Freedom is right." Not quite. A quarter-century later, the dictators are back in places where we thought they had been banished. And they're back by popular demand.

Egyptian strongman Abdel Fatah al-Sisi will not have to stuff any ballots to get himself elected president next month; he's going to win in a walk. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán presides over the most illiberal government in modern Europe, but he had no trouble winning a third term in elections two weeks ago. In Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has spent recent months brutalizing protesters in Istanbul, shutting down judicial inquiries into corruption allegations against his government, and seeking to block Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, the ultimate emblems of digital freedom. But his AKP party still won resounding victories in key municipal elections last month.

 

And then there is Russia. In a Journal op-ed Monday, foreign-policy analyst Ilan Berman pointed out that Russia had $51 billion in capital flight in the first quarter of 2014, largely thanks to Vladimir Putin's Crimean caper. That's a lot of money for a country with a GDP roughly equal to that of Italy. The World Bank predicts the Russian economy could shrink by 2% this year. Relations with the West haven't been worse since the days of Yuri Andropov. But never mind about that. Mr. Putin has a public approval rating of 80%, according to the independent Levada Center. That's up from 65% in early February. Maybe it's something in the water. Or the culture. Or the religion. Or the educational system. Or the level of economic development. Or the underhanded ways in which authoritarian leaders manipulate media and suppress dissent. The West rarely runs out of explanations for why institutions of freedom—presumably fit for all people for all time—seem to fit only some people, sometimes.

 

But maybe there's something else at work. Maybe the West mistook the collapse of communism—just one variant of dictatorship—as a vindication of liberal democracy. Maybe the West forgot that it needed to justify its legitimacy not only in the language of higher democratic morality. It needed to show that the morality yields benefits: higher growth, lower unemployment, better living. Has the West been performing well lately? If the average Turk looks to Greece as the nearest example of a Western democracy, does he see much to admire? Did Egyptians have a happy experience of the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood? Should a government in Budapest take economic advice from the finance ministry of France? Did ethnic Russians prosper under a succession of Kiev kleptocrats?

 

"Sustained inability to provide welfare, prosperity, equity, justice, domestic order, or external security could over time undermine the legitimacy of even democratic governments," Huntington warned. "As the memories of authoritarian failures fade, irritation with democratic failures is likely to increase." The passage quoted here comes from "The Third Wave," the book Huntington wrote just before his famous essay on the clash of civilizations. The "wave" was a reference to the 30 or so authoritarian states that, between 1974 and 1990, adopted democratic institutions. The two previous waves referred to the rise of mass-suffrage democracy in the 1830s and the post-Wilsonian wave of the 1920s. In each previous case, revolution succumbed to reaction; Weimar gave way to Hitler. Huntington knew that the third wave, too, would crest, crash and recede. It's happening now. The real question is how hard it will crash, on whom, for how long…

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

 

Contents

 

Anti-Semitism From Ukraine to the U.S.: Kenneth L. Marcus, Algemeiner, Apr. 23, 2014 —Few recent news articles captured more attention than reports that Jews in Ukraine were being ordered to register.

Death, Lies and Propaganda in Eastern Ukraine: Jamie Dettmer, Daily Beast, Apr. 24, 2014—Troops sent by Kiev kill five people at a checkpoint in East Ukraine and the saber rattling from Moscow grows louder by the minute.

US Reacts to Russia’s Growing Clout, Warming Ties to Egypt by Unfreezing Weapon Aid: Ariel Ben Solomon, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 24, 2014—The US move to unfreeze the delivery of 10 advanced Apache helicopters to Egypt comes on the heels of Russia’s increasing global activity and warming relations with the pivotal Arab country.

Russia Said Set to Sell its Top Fighter Jets to Egypt: Times of Israel, Apr. 22, 2014—In potential shift of orientation away from US, Cairo said hosting Moscow delegation to discuss purchase of 24 MiG-35s

Turkey Vulnerable to Rising Russian Power in the Black Sea: Micha’el Tanchum, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 19, 2014—With the annexation of Crimea, Turkey faces a stronger and bolder Russian naval power in the Black Sea.

                               

 

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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UN: “TRAGIC FARCE” BLACK COMEDY & OXYMORONS: “UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL,” “MULTICULTURALISM,” “INT’L. COMM’TY” & “U.S. FOREIGN POLICY”

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The Tragic Farce of the UN Human Rights Council: Irwin Cotler, National Post, Mar. 6, 2014— On Monday (Mar. 3, 2014), the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) began its first session since electing 14 new members last fall.

Picking Sides on the ‘World Stage’: Terry Glavin, Ottawa Citizen, Feb. 28, 2014 — Some of the world’s most notorious gangsters, mass murderers and torturers will be having their affairs attended to and their interests minded with the most assiduous attention to decorum and manners here next week with the opening of the annual sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

It Takes a Rogue Nation to Stop a Rogue State: Daniel Greenfield, Frontpage, Mar. 4, 2014 — The international community looked into Putin’s eyes and blinked.

What Would Woodrow Wilson Say?: Conrad Black, National Post, Jan. 4, 2014 — Woodrow Wilson is widely disparaged as an ineffectual dreamer.

 

On Topic Links

 

What if Dictatorships Judged the World on Human Rights? (Video): UNWATCH, Mar. 2, 2014

At a U.N. Peace Debate, War Breaks Out: Andrew Roberts, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 5, 2014

Oxfam’s Middle East Blinders: National Post, Feb. 14, 2014
Even When the UN Gets it Right: New York Post, Feb. 18, 2014

                            

THE TRAGIC FARCE OF THE UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

Irwin Cotler                        

National Post, Mar. 6, 2014

 

On Monday (Mar. 3, 2014), the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) began its first session since electing 14 new members last fall. Among them are Saudi Arabia, Cuba, China and Russia, all regimes that violate the human rights of their own populations as a matter of course. United Nations rules specify that countries shall be elected to the HRC by the General Assembly on the basis of their “contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights.” It is therefore shameful that the new members include four of the world’s worst human rights violators, all of which received the support of a majority of UN member states.

 

However, UN rules also allow for the suspension from the HRC of member states that commit “gross and systemic violations of human rights.” As has been documented by the UN Special Procedures and Treaty Bodies, human rights experts and NGOs, this criterion is met by all four countries in question. For example, Saudi Arabia imprisons Shiite activists, dissidents and human rights defenders, permits the execution of minors, and continues to refuse visit requests from the UN Special Rapporteurs for torture and freedom of expression, among others. Moreover, the lives of Saudi women are governed by the principle of male guardianship, a form of gender apartheid whereby the permission of a male relative is required to do anything from travel to undergo medical treatment. Of the UN’s 193 member states, 140 supported Saudi Arabia’s candidacy.

 

According to Human Rights Watch, the Cuban government “represses virtually all forms of political dissent,” with media subject to censorship, harassment and intimidation. In addition to arbitrary arrests and closed, summary trials for dissidents, Raúl Castro’s regime has made increased use of a “dangerousness” provision in the Cuban criminal code to incarcerate individuals pre-emptively. As well, leading pro-democracy activist Oswaldo Payá was killed in a car accident in mysterious circumstances, and the regime has resisted international calls for an inquiry. Of the UN’s 193 member states, 148 supported Cuba’s candidacy.

 

The government of China severely and violently restricts free expression and civil liberties. Religious and ethnic minorities — such as Uighurs and Tibetans — are persecuted, political dissidents — like Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo — are convicted on trumped-up charges without any semblance of fair trials, and prisoners suffer — inter alia — mistreatment, torture, disappearance and the forced harvesting of their organs for transplants. Of the UN’s 193 member states, all but 27 supported China’s candidacy.

 

In Russia, the brutal suppression of political dissent and civic activism has intensified in recent years, as has the prosecution and persecution of sexual minorities. As a case study of the unjust nature of the Russian justice system, lawyer Sergei Magnitsky blew the whistle on widespread corruption in 2008; he was imprisoned, tortured, killed and posthumously convicted of the very fraud he had uncovered. Moreover, even before sending troops into Ukraine, Russia supported Bashar al-Assad’s oppressive regime in Syria, and voted against resolutions for human rights in Iran, North Korea and Myanmar. Of the UN’s 193 member states, all but 27 supported Russia’s candidacy.

 

It is both farcical and tragic that the international community has allowed countries with egregious and ongoing human rights violations to sit on a UN body charged with the protection of those rights. This enabling constitutes an indefensible validation of the violators’ actions in the name of the UN — in breach of its own mandate — and an intolerable betrayal of the victims.

 

As Chinese human rights activist Yang Jianli has noted, the election of HRC members is an opportunity for free societies to express their disapproval of certain countries’ human rights records without opening themselves up to accusations of interference in the violators’ “internal affairs.” Indeed, HRC elections are held by secret ballot. As such, the election of these four countries is a missed opportunity, as well as a repudiation of the international struggle for human rights, but it is not too late to suspend them and set things right. Not to do so would make a mockery of both the Human Rights Council and the purported commitment to human rights of the many countries — including half of the EU — who cast votes for the human rights reprobates in question.

 

Beginning this week, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, China and Russia will sit in judgement of others, rather than in the docket of the accused. Yet these four regimes stand accused of many serious human rights violations, and only their suspension will restore the credibility of the HRC. It is long past time for countries that espouse the values of democracy, freedom and human dignity to put their ballots where their mouths are.

 

[Irwin Cotler is the Liberal member of Parliament for Mount Royal, former minister of justice and attorney-general of Canada, and professor of law emeritus at McGill University. He is a signatory of a UN Watch petition calling for the suspension of China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia from the UN Human Rights Council.]
                                                                       

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PICKING SIDES ON THE ‘WORLD STAGE’                                      

Terry Glavin

Ottawa Citizen, Feb. 28, 2014

 

Some of the world’s most notorious gangsters, mass murderers and torturers will be having their affairs attended to and their interests minded with the most assiduous attention to decorum and manners here next week with the opening of the annual sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Council. Envoys from several criminal regimes are set to assemble beneath the council’s amazing, elliptically domed, multicoloured and dramatically textured ceiling, a creation of the Spanish artist Miquel Barceló that is supposed to put one in mind of a wonderful cave beneath the sea. Perhaps it’s intended to keep rude mentions of the stinking dungeons back home to a low murmur. I wouldn’t know.

And maybe things aren’t quite that bad, but the contrast couldn’t have been sharper this week with a gathering in a conference centre across the street from the UN’s Palais des Nations where the UN Human Rights Council meets. Among the delegates to the 6th annual Summit for Human Rights and Democracy were dissidents and activists from North Korea, China, Pakistan, Iran and several other human rights hellholes. The annual summit is the project of about a dozen human rights groups led by UN Watch, a non-governmental organization that tries to keep the heat on the human rights abusers that persist in paralyzing the UN’s capacity as a guarantor of human rights around the world.

This year’s UN Watch summit was kicked off with a rousing speech by the Mount Royal Liberal MP and former justice minister Irwin Cotler, who once served as international counsel to anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela in South Africa and to dissident Natan Sharansky in Russia, and got himself briefly jailed and then expelled from both countries.

Among the more prominent activists at the UN Watch Summit this year: Chen Guangcheng, the blind “barefoot lawyer” who escaped house arrest and found refuge in the United States embassy in Beijing in 2012; Biram Dah Abeid, founder of Mauritania’s anti-slavery movement; Ahn Myong Chul, an activist who defected from North Korea where he had worked as a prison guard in that country’s infamous gulag system; Dhardon Sharling, the youngest elected MP of Tibet’s parliament in exile in Dharamsala, India, and a leader of the Tibetan Women’s Association.

Among the members of the UN Human Rights Council, meanwhile: China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Cuba. The UN General Assembly elected these rights-trampling regimes to the 47-member council last November. Such police states and autocracies as Pakistan, Maldives, Kazakhstan, Vietnam and Algeria were already council members in good standing. “The UN Human Rights Council is a complex body,” Montrealer Hillel Neuer, the UN Watch executive director, told summit delegates. “There are times when it does good things, there are times when it does bad things, and there are times when it just does nothing.” Whatever one might make of what the Human Rights Council is doing these days, it would not be unreasonable to wonder whether the council is reverting to the very habits that caused the completely discredited UN Human Rights Commission to be replaced by the council during a thoroughgoing credibility-crisis makeover back in 2006..

“This sounds like a comedy if it were not so tragic,” Neuer told delegates. “When they sit at the council, they block action for victims in their countries. They block action for victims in other countries. And the election of these dictatorships confers an undue legitimacy that only strengthens the regime and undermines the morale of those who are behind bars or who are active for human rights.” What this means is that this year, certainly, Russia will face no UN censure for its ramped-up persecution of gay people, and Beijing will be able to continue the more brutal aspects of its occupation of Tibet and its vicious oppression of democrats. Havana and the Saudis will face no complaint of any consequence while they carry on imprisoning dissenters and strangling free speech.

On the plus side, on March 17 the UN Human Rights Council is set to deal with a decades-overdue UN inquiry into North Korea, released only last month. The 400-page commission report has found the regime to be engaging in “extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation,” among other things.

Meanwhile, Bashar Assad continues to drop barrel bombs and other such primitive cluster munitions on Syrian civilians in Homs and Aleppo and the outskirts of Damascus. Assad’s backers from Tehran and Moscow can walk around Geneva with their chests puffed out, having so easily made the United States the butt of so many “red line” jokes. It’s been six decades since Pyongyang began herding hundreds of thousands of people into its gulags and North Korea is still a slave state owned by a psychopathic wing of the Kim family. It’s been 10 years since everybody noticed there was a genocide underway in Darfur and Sudan’s boss genocidaire Omar al-Bashir is still a free man.

It’s been nearly two years since a settlement with the Montana attorney general required globe-trotting would-be humanitarian Greg Mortenson to repay a charity $1 million from “book royalties, speaking and travel fees, promotional costs and inappropriate personal charges.” And yet what is the book most prominently displayed at the UN’s visitor’s centre here, and also at the UN’s bookstore? It’s the disgraced Mortenson’s bestseller-fairy tale, Three Cups of Tea.

In Canada, it’s all the rage among the disenfranchised mandarins of the old foreign policy establishment to mutter and whinge about how vulgar Ottawa has become lately. It’s true enough that if you were to put it uncharitably you could say Foreign Affairs does seem seized of a kind of hillbilly disinclination to maintain legions of useless diplomats and glorified letter-carriers, hobnobbing and primping and schmoozing and being seen to schmooze all over the damn place. It’s definitely true that here in Geneva, on the “world stage” we’re always being told about, it does seem like there are fewer Canadians lounging around on the sofas at the Palais des Nations these days. You’re surely more likely to bump into Canadians at venues like the Summit for Human Rights and Democracy across the street, and about that, for some strange reason, I just can’t seem to bring myself to feel ashamed.

 

                                                                                                 

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IT TAKES A ROGUE NATION TO STOP A ROGUE STATE             Daniel Greenfield                                                

Frontpage, Mar. 4, 2014

 

The international community looked into Putin’s eyes and blinked. Multilateralism has failed as badly as it did in the days of the League of Nations, but then again it never actually worked. The international order that everyone pretends is a real force in world affairs is really the United States and a few partners doing all the work and letting the diplomats and bureaucrats of the world pretend that they matter. Without America, the United Nations would be just as useless as the League of Nations. With America, the United Nations is only a deterrent when the United States puts its foot down and the rest of the world doesn’t get in the way.

 

It has become fashionable to denounce the United States as a rogue state. A military intervention, even with the backing of its Western allies, but outside the framework of the organizations of the international order, was deemed unilateralism and cowboy diplomacy. And then Obama rode in on a three-speed bike and won a Nobel Peace Prize for his commitment to doing nothing.

The multilateral system is helpless in the face of aggression. That is as true today as it was eighty years ago. International agreements are worthless without steel and lead behind them. The United Nations is incapable of acting when one of its more powerful members is the aggressor, the foreign policy experts of the left crank out editorials explaining why we can’t do anything and the Secretary of State explains that our weakness is really a strength.

 

International law couldn’t stop Hitler. It couldn’t stop Japan. It took the United States to do that. The foreign policy experts will deny it, the editorials will decry it and the Common Core textbooks will refuse to print it; but it takes a rogue nation to stop a rogue state. England and France’s diplomatic outreach to Nazi Germany led to the seizure of the Rhineland, the annexations of Austria and a portion of Czechoslovakia, followed by the invasions of Czechoslovakia and Poland. American diplomacy and sanctions on Japan led to Pearl Harbor.

 

The issue isn’t whether the United States should intervene in Ukraine, but whether it should have the option to do something more meaningful than draw faint red lines and threaten worthless sanctions. Every mob throwing things at soldiers and police isn’t necessarily composed of the good guys just because they have photogenic protesters and colorful flags. Our instinct to automatically support the underdog is just another dangerous figment of the multilateral mindset.

 

The United States has unselectively adopted the human rights agenda of the internationalists and allowed our foreign affairs priorities to be curated by the diplomats of the left who know exactly whom to denounce and what not to do about it. UN Ambassador Samantha Power, wearing a bitter frown, agonizing over the woes of the world, is the face of our senseless and useless diplomacy that forces us to play the moral scold without being able to back it up.

 

American foreign policy has become indistinguishable from the United Nations agenda and just as impotent, fixated on the recommendations of human rights committees instead of national interests, incapable of addressing historical alliances, and unable to build its responses around anything except the same Powerian empty shriek of self-righteous human rights outrage.

 

Obama’s America has turned a cold impartial face to its allies, aspiring instead to become the vessel of international organizations while assigning its morality to an international committee. American foreign policy is under international management and that transfers its decision process from D.C. to an international network of committees incapable of doing anything except generating worthless reports and denouncing Israel. The United States was the ghost in the machine of the United Nations, but now that the United States is the United Nations, the United States has become the puppet of a puppet.

 

The weakness of multilateral diplomacy is that it strives to negotiate accommodations to the clashes of the moment without reference to past history or the trajectory of future conquests. This was a weakness that Hitler understood and exploited, reducing the issue to the current status of the Sudetenland or the Rhineland, rather than to past and future war aims. It was only when the Allies broke out of the diplomatic mindset of considering every Hitlerian conquest individually and debating the merits of defending Czechoslovakia, rather than anticipating the conquest of Poland, that real resistance to the Nazi war machine finally began. [To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link –ed.]                                           

                                                                                         

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               WHAT WOULD WOODROW WILSON SAY?                            

Conrad Black                                           

National Post, Jan. 4, 2014 

 

Woodrow Wilson is widely disparaged as an ineffectual dreamer. But as A. Scott Berg’s newly published biography of the 28th President of the United States…makes clear, Wilson was in fact an exceptional leader. He founded the Federal Reserve, enacted the Clayton Antitrust Act, reduced tariffs, and tried admirably to veto the lunacy of Prohibition. He is rivaled only by Thomas Jefferson, and perhaps John Quincy Adams, as the greatest intellect ever to occupy the White House. He composed his own speeches and delivered them ex tempore — often with overpowering eloquence…

 

When the insane decision of the German emperor and general staff to unleash submarine attacks on neutral American-flag merchant shipping in 1917 forced Wilson to enter World War I, the British Empire already had suffered about 750,000 dead. France, a country of a little more than 40 million, had endured about 1.5 million dead, two million injured, and the destruction of much of its industrial heartland. Italy, which entered the war in 1915 on the Allied side, had suffered about 750,000 dead. Wilson uplifted the Allied nations, and even many people in ostensibly enemy countries, by declaring that the entry of the United States into the “most terrible of all wars” was “to make the world safe for democracy”; it was a “war to end war.” Conceptually and tactically, it was genius, and Woodrow Wilson, though a pacifist whose youth was spent in Virginia as that state was shattered by the armies of Grant and Lee, proved to be one of America’s greatest war leaders, not outshone by Washington, Lincoln or FDR. (Unfortunately, his Virginia background also lumbered him with a discreditable toleration of racial segregation.)

 

As everyone knows, he mismanaged the ratification process of the Treaty of Versailles, largely because he suffered a series of incapacitating strokes, and was repudiated by partisans in his own Congress. The League of Nations, which Wilson conceived, was launched without the United States, and it was later sabotaged by Hitler, Mussolini, the Japanese Imperialists and Stalin, with the effective complicity of the Anglo-French appeasers. It devolved upon a junior member of Wilson’s administration, Franklin D. Roosevelt, when he was president during the world war that Wilson sought to avoid, to revive the idea of a world organization, involve the opposing domestic political party fully in its creation, and have it in place even before that war ended in 1945.

 

FDR took the best of Wilson and of his chief rival, distant cousin (and uncle-in-law) Theodore Roosevelt, and united the latter’s “big stick” with the former’s “new freedom.” FDR was determined that the UN would not be reduced to a mere talking shop. He intended that it would serve to disguise in collegiality the fact that the United States, with half the world’s economic product and a monopoly on atomic weapons, effectively ruled the world, and would reassure his fractious and long-isolationist countrymen that the world was now a much safer place than it had been. In fact, Roosevelt realized that if the United States were not engaged in Europe and the Far East, there would be a constant risk every generation, that the forces of totalitarianism could take over the entire Eurasian land-mass and leave the Americas, as he put it in two famous speeches in 1940, “as prisoners … living at the point of a gun, and … fed through the bars of our cage by the unpitying masters of other continents.”

Roosevelt calculated that in the opening decades, a majority of UN members would be either Latin American countries that would take their lead from the United States; Commonwealth allies of the British and Americans; or countries otherwise dependent on U.S. assistance, such as Nationalist China, pre-Gaullist France, and Italy. His calculations were correct for about 25 years, and the Soviet absence from the United Nations on a boycott enabled the world organization to agree on an American-led international response to North Korean aggression in 1950. The immense economic powerhouse of today’s democratic South Korea is the result of this intervention (and the pestilential hermit state of North Korea the very visible alternative). Roosevelt’s strategic team, led by his successors, Presidents Truman and Eisenhower, General Marshall, Dean Acheson, George Kennan, and others, implemented the Containment policy against the Soviet Union, which, of course, led to the disintegration of the USSR and the collapse of international communism in 45 years, without another major war…                                                                                   

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

What if Dictatorships Judged the World on Human Rights? (Video): UNWATCH, Mar. 2, 2014

At a U.N. Peace Debate, War Breaks Out: Andrew Roberts, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 5, 2014—As a young man 30 years ago, I used to fear that the United Nations might in my lifetime pose a threat to the nation-state.

Oxfam’s Middle East Blinders: National Post, Feb. 14, 2014 —Global humanitarian aid and human rights groups, such as Oxfam, which have massive budgets and large staffs, wield a great deal of power.
Even When the UN Gets it Right: New York Post, Feb. 18, 2014 —It’s not news when we’re told North Korea is guilty of crimes against humanity on a scale without parallel in today’s world.

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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