Filed under: Foreign Policy, Iran, Islam, Israel, National Security, Politics, The United States | Tags: Appeasing the Enemy, Foreign Policy Mistake, Nuclear Deal With Iran
The headline read: “Iran: White House Lying About Details of Nuke Deal.”
Iranian officials say that the White House is misleading the public about the details of an interim nuclear agreement reached over the weekend in Geneva. …
The White House released a multi-page fact sheet containing details of the draft agreement shortly after the deal was announced. However, an Iranian foreign ministry official on Tuesday rejected the White House’s version of the deal as “invalid” and accused Washington of releasing a factually inaccurate primer that misleads the American public.”
Iran’s right to enrich uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon, is fully recognized under the draft released by Tehran. Iran proclaims no limits on their right to continue enriching uranium which should set alarm bells ringing loudly. They want time off from the sanctions that are disrupting their economy, so they can enrich in peace. John Bolton, who has long experience with Iran, says:
In exchange for superficial concessions, Iran achieved three critical breakthroughs. First, it bought time to continue all aspects of its nuclear weapons program the agreement does not cover (centrifuge manufacturing and testing, weaponization research and fabrication, and its entire ballistic missile program). Indeed, given that the interim agreement contemplates periodic renewals, Iran may have gained all of the time it needs to achieve weaponization not of simply a handful of nuclear weapons, but of dozens or more.
Second, Iran has gained Legitimacy. This central banker of international terrorism and flagrant nuclear proliferator is once again part of the international club. Much as the Syria chemical-weapons agreement buttressed Bashar al-Assad, the mullahs have escaped the political deep freezer.
Third, Iran has broken the psychological momentum and effect of the international economic sanctions. While estimates differ on Iran’s precise gain, it is considerable ($7 billion is the lowest estimate), and presages much more. Tehran correctly assessed that a mere six-months’ easing of sanctions will make it extraordinarily hard for the West to reverse direction, even faced with systematic violations of Iran’s nuclear pledges. Major oil-importing countries (China, India, South Korea, and others) were already chafing under U .S. sanctions, sensing President Obama had no stomach either to impose sanctions on them, or pay the domestic political price of granting further waivers.
Iran declares regularly its radical hatred for Israel and the United States. It continues to sponsor terrorism on a wide scale. It regularly states its wish to annihilate Israel even at the risk of its own self-destruction. From the takeover of the American Embassy in Tehran and imprisonment of embassy personnel for 444 days until today, we have had no reason to trust Iran at any time. It is appeasement of the worst kind, and puts one of our greatest allies at greater risk.
If President Obama thought he was changing the subject from the ballooning disaster of ObamaCare with a “deal” that Americans would like, he was mistaken. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va) spoke out at the end of October about a report claiming Iran is one month away from a nuclear bomb, ‘extremely alarming. ‘ The Institute for Science and International Security says Iran could produce one bomb in as little as 1 to 1.6 months, or using only 3.5 percent low enriched uranium, could make 4 bombs in 1.9 to 2.2 months using all of its existing 3.5 percent enriched uranium. Seems like a fine time to go for appeasement.
Filed under: Afghanistan, Democrat Corruption, Foreign Policy, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Israel, Politics | Tags: Diplomatic Ties, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign Policy
And on the Foreign Policy front, all is not well either. So how is that vow to “repair America’s frayed alliances” supposedly frayed and battered by the Bush administration working out?
The Kingdom is not keeping secret any longer its disgust with the administration’s policy drift in the Middle East. Prince Turki al Faisal, the former Saudi ambassador in Washington explained his view of the deal Washington struck with Moscow over Syria’s chemical weapons.
“The current charade of international control over Bashar’s chemical arsenal,” the Prince told a London audience, “would be funny if it were not so blatantly perfidious, and designed not only to give Mr. Obama an opportunity to back down, but also to help Assad butcher his people.” It’s a rare occasion when a Saudi royal has the moral standing to lecture an American President, but this was one of them.
The Saudis asked the U.S. to beef up our naval presence in the Persian Gulf against a potential Iranian counter-strike, only to be told that we didn’t have the ships. Mr. Obama was nonchalant about our shrinking Navy. But there are consequences for our actions on the international scene.
If you look at foreign newspapers, it is surprising how much of their “news” is devoted to America and what we’re doing, whether it’s fads or politics or policy. Americans, on the other hand, probably because we live in a big country with major cities across the U.S., don’t really pay much attention to what is going on elsewhere. Part of that is simply language. Most other countries learn English as their second language, Most Americans take a language course in high school, but never learn to speak one.
Mr. Obama has been quite clear that he wants the U.S. to be just another nation among other nations, not a superpower. He opposed the Iraq War as a “dumb war” with no understanding of why we were there, and assumed that the only reason for being in Afghanistan was to “get” bin Laden, which he couldn’t quite bring himself to order when it came to it, until forced into it. We had won the Iraq war, but V.P. Biden could not arrange a status-of-forces agreement, and when al Qaeda in Iraq returned and started killing Iraqis, their foreign minister begged for us to return, but too late. The War in Afghanistan was to be conducted “nicely,” with our troops training Afghan recruits with unloaded weapons to show our niceness, which got a lot of our troops killed. I would be willing to bet that Mr. Obama has never seen a military movie, nor read either any military history, nor any of the great military novels. I may be wrong.
The troubles with Saudi Arabia have been developing for some time. David Ignatius wrote that “Saudi officials in Riyadh that they told him that they increasingly regarded the U.S. as unreliable and would look elsewhere for their security. in 2011.” They were dismayed when we deposed Mubarak and even more so when we backed the Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi. They are afraid of the Iran/Syria nuclear adventurism, as are many other countries in the Middle East, with reason. The Syrian rebels have learned that there really aren’t any red lines, and any adversary can call our bluff. Obama is more eager to court enemies than reassure friends, as the Poles and Czechs have learned, when we withdrew ballistic-missile defense as a way to appease the Russians.
Fouad Ajami explains the problems of the Obama foreign policy cogently in a piece at the Wall Street Journal today, which may be behind a subscription barrier, but read it if you can.
We must not underestimate the tenacity of this regime and its will to rule. We should see through the rosy Twitter messages of President Hasan Rouhani, and the PowerPoint presentations of his foreign minister, Mohammed Jawad Zarif. These men carry out the writ of the supreme leader and can only go as far as the limit drawn by the Revolutionary Guard. …
The gullibility of Mr. Obama’s pursuit of an opening with Iran has unsettled America’s allies in the region. In Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates there is a powerful feeling of abandonment. In Israel, there is the bitter realization that America’s strongest ally in region is now made to look like the final holdout against a blissful era of compromise that will calm a turbulent region. A sound U.S. diplomatic course with Iran would never have run so far ahead of Israel’s interests and of the region’s moderate anti-Iranian Arab coalition.
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Islam, Middle East, National Security, Politics, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: A Montage, Changing Ideas, The Problem of Syria
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Intelligence, Islam, Military, National Security, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: Al Qaeda And Affiliates, The Battle for Syria, Weapons of Mass Destruction
Thomas Jocelyn testified yesterday to the House Committee on Homeland Security, about al Qaeda in Syria and the threat that poses to the United States. Al Qaeda affiliates and allied jihadist groups dominate the insurgency in the heart of the Middle East. The Long War Journal published his testimony.
“The situation inside Syria is grim, with a despicable tyrant on one side and a rebellion compromised by al Qaeda and like-minded extremists on the other. In between these two poles are the people who originally rose up against tyranny in search of a better life. As we’ve seen time and again in this long war, Muslims embroiled in violence in faraway lands are often the first line of defense against an ideology and an organization that pose a direct threat to the West.”
We should have no illusions about the nature of the Syrian war. What we are witnessing right now is a conflict that will have ramifications for our security in the West. The fighting in Syria and the terrorist campaign in Iraq are deeply linked, feeding off of one another in a way that increases the violence in both countries and potentially throughout the region. American interests outside of Syria have already been threatened by the war. We saw this late last year when al Qaeda repurposed a cell of Jordanian citizens who had fought in Syria for an attack inside their home country. They reportedly had the U.S. Embassy in their crosshairs and were planning a complex assault involving other targets as well. …
Al Qaeda and its extremist allies have grown much stronger since late 2011. Al Qaeda does not control the entire rebellion, which is made up of a complex set of actors and alliances. However, al Qaeda and its allies dominate a large portion of northern Syria and play a key role in the fighting throughout the rest of the country. These same al Qaeda-affiliated forces have fought alongside Free Syrian Army brigades. There is no clear geographic dividing line between the most extreme fighters and other rebels. For example, al Qaeda’s affiliates played a key role in the fighting in Latakia, an Assad stronghold on the coast, in early August. And within the past week we saw al Qaeda-affiliated fighters lead an attack in Malula, a Christian village not far from Damascus. These are just two examples chosen from many.
Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s emir has made the fight for Syria a strategic priority. They are political revolutionaries who are looking to establish an Islamic Emirate in the heart of the Levant. They want a state of their own — as a start. Other al Qaeda groups have joined the fight — the Taliban from Pakistan, Chechens , fighters from South Asia and North Africa, are fighting alongside each other. There is a Syrian Islamic Front that fights alongside al Qaeda. There is a direct connection between the terrorists over there and terrorists over here. Some are being repurposed for operations against the West. And al Qaeda is recruiting Westerners who can be used against their home countries. They are looking for chemical and biological weapons in Syria, and an al Nusrah Front cell has been arrested and found to be in possession of about 2 kilos of sarin gas. Iraqi officials claim to have broken up an al Qaeda cell that was seeking to launch sarin gas attacks in Iraq, Europe and possibly North America.
Do read the whole thing. These people do understand that we are in — a long war — and have been since 9/11. It is civilizational and serious and real, and we must take it seriously.
NOTE: A piece I posted on September 3 was based on an article from the Institute for the Study of War, and based on information from Elizabeth O’Bagy, who was an adviser to John Kerry and supposedly an expert on the situation in Syria. The Institute has discharged her for misrepresenting her credentials, and she is apparently involved as a lobbyist for the Free Syrian Army. So I don’t know if any of what I wrote is true, nor if the map is correct.
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Intelligence, Islam, Middle East, Military, National Security, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: 9/11 Observance, President Barack Obama, The Syria Speech
It is 9/11. and the mind goes back twelve years to that terrible day, and to Benghazi on 9/11. The President and Vice President and their wives and the entire White House staff were photographed on the White House Lawn where they observed a moment of silence, and then the president went off to pass out food to the needy — in his continuing push to make 9/11 a “Day of Service.”
I don’t get it. I see no relation between mourning those we lost and doing some volunteer work. But then I’m not much on “moments of silence,” which I guess are to be seen as a one-minute collective observance of sorrow. If we do it collectively it is more meaningful? I’ll just go on mourning all day, the images don’t stop replaying in my head. I guess if you are a collectivist, you think collectively.
It is another day in the War on Terror. Yes, terror is a tactic, not the producer of terror, but that is simply semantics. What do you want to call it — a war on jihadists?
Americans are confused by World War II, when we had clear enemies — Germany, Japan and Italy. They expanded into conquered territory and we had to drive them out. The War was a total effort. Civilians did war work, bought war bonds, raised victory gardens and did without a wealth of things to which we were accustomed. The war lasted a neat four years, the victory was clear and surrender abject and total, followed by occupation.
Now there remains for Americans an expectation that a proper war will have those characteristics. In World War II people were thoroughly weary of war, but they knew that it had to be won and the enemy defeated utterly. There was no talk of “war weariness.” You even heard people during the War in Iraq or in Afghanistan complain that civilians weren’t asked to buy bonds or accept rationing. They weren’t proper wars because the home front just went on with ordinary life, undisturbed.
Richard Cohen, liberal columnist for the Washington Post, asked plaintively “Where’s the moral outrage?”
The civil war in Syria has cost more than 110,000 lives. It has produced a humanitarian calamity — well over 2 million refugees.
Bashar Assad has massacred his own people by conventional means and is accused of using poison gas several times, most recently on Aug. 21, when his military murdered 1,429 people, including more than 400 children. …
I pick on the American left because it is liberal and because that suggests empathy, concern and internationalism.
The American right is now going through one of its periodic bouts of lunacy, reverting to a comfy isolationism-cum-selfishness that has often characterized it. (I should note, though, that back in the late 1930s, Norman Thomas, the six-time socialist presidential candidate, supported the isolationist America First movement.)
My point is that the more military action departs from the example of World War II as it exists in memory, and movies, the more reluctant the people. You need the Draft, War Songs, Bond Drives, and some kind of deprivation for the people so they feel involved. Americans want to support their president, but when offered only an “extraordinarily small” reprimand, the people sense that there is no clear strategy there at all.
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Islam, Middle East, National Security, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: Misunderstanding Foreign Policy, Obama's White House Speech, Syrian Dictator Bashar Assad
The President’s Speech from the White House hall attempted to hit all the necessary buttons. He went for a big emotional appeal on the horrors of chemical warfare, especially on children. He attempted to portray himself as a peace president. He ended the Iraq War, the troops are coming home from Afghanistan, endless wars that have been going on for a decade. He’s not Bush. He has invoked that for five years, but hasn’t got tired of it yet. He’s not going to do War. He’s not going to do Libya nor Kosovo. He has authority to do a retaliatory strike. Then he punched the patriotism button “The American Military doesn’t do pinpoint strikes”
The problem is, of course, that he was speaking with (as somebody said) Kerry’s foot in his mouth. The “unbelievably small” one. Yesterday, in passing, he invoked his Nobel Peace Prize, which was embarrassing, but he seems unaware that the Swedes momentary enthusiasm for the first black president was incredibly misplaced. He did not repeat that error in this speech. Yet he made no case for a limited retaliatory strike. You expected him to wave some papers and declare “Peace in our time.”
Ideally, when a dictator uses chemical weapons on his own people, a pinpoint strike with a very large bomb on the courtyard of the palace the very next day would effectively make the point. It’s the dithering around, the indecision, the failure to know where the palace courtyard is that make it clear that we haven’t been taking foreign policy seriously.
Charles Crawford, who was HM Ambassador in Sarajevo (1996-1998), Belgrade (2001-2003), and Poland (2003-2007) wrote in the Telegraph that “Monday 9 September, 2013 was the worst day for US and wider Western diplomacy since records began.“
“At the Foreign Office here in London. We had the bizarre spectacle of US Secretary of State John Kerry giving a businesslike account of diplomatic incentives.”
If one party believes that it can rub out countless numbers of his own citizens with impunity using chemicals that have been banned for nearly 100 years because of what Europe learned in World War I, if he can do that with impunity, he will never come to a negotiating table … If you don’t draw those lines, and the civilized world is not prepared to enforce those lines, you are giving complete license to people to do whatever they want.
“However, almost in the same breath John Kerry blew up the logic of his own position by assuring a bemused world that any bombing by the United States would be “unbelievably small.”
You know the rest. Kerry bumbled on about if Assad gave up his weapons in the next week, and Putin tossed out a line about demanding Assad to put his weapons under international control, and Obama seeing the fly and not recognizing the hook— bit. In the middle of a civil war? This is not going to happen. It is impossible. Chemical weapons are impossibly dangerous to handle. A new process of setting up a monitoring and destruction regime would give Assad a boost of legitimacy…
Obama has been uninterested in foreign policy, which interferes with fundamentally transforming America, and forgets that the main job of the President of the United States is paying attention to foreign policy. He is sure that the problems in the Middle East are all the result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He thinks the only bad guys are al Qaeda, and does not recognize the central role in terror of the Muslim Brotherhood. He got rid of all the dictators in North Africa, without recognizing that they at least kept a lid on things, and has left chaos in his wake.
This is not going to end well.
P.S. America is a Constitutional Republic, not a Constitutional Democracy.
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Humor, Islam, Liberalism, Middle East, Military, National Security, Progressivism, The United States | Tags: President Barack Obama, Syria's Chemical Weapons, Syrian Dictator Bashar Assad
I have been an opponent of President Obama’s policies from the beginning. I didn’t believe he had the necessary experience for the highest office in the land, and he has lived up to that expectation. He does not understand economics, even the most basic economics, and his attachment to Keynesian theory and pump-priming have waged disaster on our economy. He has been sure that just spending more money is the answer to most any problem. It’s not.
His early statement that we were “five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America” sent chills down my back. His view of what is wrong with this country and needs to be transformed is completely at odds with my views. His insistence that the United States is not an exceptional country — or at least no more exceptional than any other — shows an unusual unfamiliarity with our history.
I will excuse quite a bit in most people because we are only imperfect humans, vain, ignorant, self-important, conceited, occasionally clever, jealous, greedy, the list goes on and on. There are no perfect people — even those we love most dearly have flaws which we choose to ignore. We speak and all too often say things we shouldn’t have said. But a president does not have that option.
The United States remains a powerful nation, and the words a president uses have consequences. That’s why presidents have many speechwriters, and senior advisers, and teleprompters too. To keep them from making clumsy international mistakes.
The President is now saying that he was elected to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I don’t recall that. He was elected to be the first black president, and hope and change. We just didn’t know what he meant by change. He even mentioned his laughable Nobel Peace Prize today as some sort of resume enhancement. I do remember his claim that Iraq was a “dumb war” and his apparent belief that the only reason we were in Afghanistan was to “get Osama bin Laden.” Which he (The Seals) did, so now we’re done over there and we should just quit? Well, you don’t just “quit” wars. You win them or you lose them.
Yes, the President clearly opposes war. I don’t know of anyone that wants wars, but nations have interests and through misguided policies and ill-defined statements, and red lines, and bumbling, and dithering — wars have started that nobody wanted.
The Secretary of State also has speechwriters, but he wandered off track to say that we weren’t going to War in Syria, we were just going to do something “unbelievably small,” which prompted John McCain to note that was “unbelievably unhelpful.” Kerry added that Assad could turn over his chemical weapons to an international authority within the next few days ,and then we’d see. So Vladimir Putin immediately jumped on that and demanded that Assad turn over his weapons, then Hillary, forgetting that she no longer is the Secretary, chimed in to urge Assad to turn over the weapons, and blathered something about “holding Assad and the Russians to account.” The usual Hillary talk. President Obama may see an “out” in Putin’s demand. Another flip.
I believe that in international affairs you have to support your country, and keep your policy disagreements with the president at home. President Obama is not making that easy. He’s all over the map, and as usual, it is all about him, not the nation. He has destroyed his credibility with his own party, he never really had any with Republicans, and he is losing what credibility he had internationally. He is sending a message that he is not serious.
The president needs to learn that his words have consequences internationally. His statements are reported internationally. When he dithers, that is reported internationally too. This time it isn’t about you, Mr. President. It is about America. There are consequences. When you find yourself in a hole, the best advice — is to stop digging.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Election 2014, Foreign Policy, Intelligence, Islam, Middle East, Military, National Security, Politics, The United States | Tags: A Moral Imperative, Leading From Behind., Restoring Credibiity
What a mess the whole Syrian situation is. President Obama, in a desperate attempt to appear strong, yet avoid any military entanglements in Syria before the election, made the mistake of threatening Bashar al Assad with a “red line,” warning him of any use of chemical-weapons. That was a statement of sorts that anything short of chemical weapons would be receive no pushback. and Obama was portraying himself as weak and ineffective unless he did something. Assad is now publicly chortling about how weak Obama is.
So now Mr. Obama is relying on his usual strategy of placing responsibility in the lap of Congress. If Republicans don’t go along, he can blame them for America’s failure, and avoid any responsibility himself. Those who do go along can face stronger primary challenges using that vote against them. With Mr. Obama, it is always is about him, and he is above all — a political person.
There are no good answers, or even acceptable answers. Congress is asked to choose between a weak response that does nothing to end Syria’s civil war or depose Assad, or a “no” vote that harms American interests by making it clear that Obama has no support at home.
According to today’s news, apparently the weapons that were to be supplied to the Syrian dissidents have never reached them. There is much confusion about the rebels, and separating the various factions into the good guys and the bad guys. Some suggest that there are no good guys, but that is apparently not the case.
The Institute for the Study of War shows a map of the Divided Syria: (click to enlarge)
The dark grey areas are held by extremist groups like al Qaeda in Iraq, Jabhat al Nusra, an al Qaeda affiliate, and are less interested in defeating Assad than they are in holding their Islamic emirate in the north of the country. The light grey areas are a collection of groups known as the Free Syrian Army that are fighting the regime.
John Kerry elaborated what the administration has in mind, but it doesn’t tell us much.
It will not involve any boots on the ground. It will not be open ended. And it will not assume responsibility for a civil war that is already well underway. The president has been clear: Any action that he might decide to take will be [a] limited and tailored response to ensure that a despot’s brutal and flagrant use of chemical weapons is held accountable.
Apparently chemical weapons are easily made, and some of our European friends have been selling them such materials. There are other players too, of course: Iran, Israel, Russia, al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, Saudi Arabia, and the rest of the Middle East. The idea that the above description of our action would hold Assad “accountable” and deter any future actions on his part seems a bit fatuous.
Obama is not claiming that military action will have an important effect of Syria, but rather that maintaining the international taboo against the use of chemical weapons is a moral imperative. So it is posturing, but without any real teeth. Foreign Policy says the U.S. had intelligence on the chemical strike before it was launched. But we took no action, so its not all that much of a moral imperative.
Joseph Curl, writing in the Washington Times, says it is simply a political calculation:
The first rule for President Obama: It’s all about 2014. The second rule for President Obama: See Rule No. 1.
Make no mistake: The president couldn’t care less about the plight of Syrians, the 1,500 gassed to death — including nearly 500 children. It’s all about 2014. Win the House, reign supreme.
Victor Davis Hanson summarizes the situation with his usual efficiency. “What are the president’s strategic objectives in the present mess? Does he know”
There are four general strategic options — predicated on the political fact that either the Congress will approve the operation or that the Obama administration will ignore it if it doesn’t, and that Obama is not worried about either the present absence of both public support and any militarily credible allies, and that he need not explain our primary objectives that will be made up as we go along.
Dr. Hanson also reminds us of the similar effort to restore credibility when Bill Clinton bombed an aspirin factory after the attacks on the East African embassies.
CORRECTION: Elizabeth O’Bagy who was the official at the Institute for the Study of War on whose work this piece was based has been discharged from the Institute for misrepresenting her academic qualifications. She was also, apparently, an adviser to John Kerry, but she represents the Free Syrian Army in Washington DC, and is not an unbiased source. So I don’t know if the map is correct or if the information is correct.
Filed under: Election 2014, Foreign Policy, Islam, Middle East, National Security, Progressivism, The United States | Tags: Bashar al Assad, The Use of Nerve Gas, What to Do About Syria
On Saturday, President Obama spoke briefly to reporters, in the Rose Garden, about his decision to strike militarily at Syria in response the their gassing of 1500 Syrians and women and children, and to request authorization from Congress — then headed for the golf course.
Congress has no plans to cut short their 30 day vacation, the president did not call lawmakers back into session. No urgency. Military assets are in place, and ready for him to take action any time, no rush.
At the Washington Times, Joseph Curl says:
The first rule for President Obama: It’s all about 2014. The second rule for President Obama: See Rule No. 1.
Make no mistake: The president couldn’t care less about the plight of Syrians, the 1,500 gassed to death — including nearly 500 children. It’s all about 2014. Win the House, reign supreme. …
The conventional wisdom is, as usual, wrong. Losing the congressional vote won’t be an embarrassment for the president, as all the talking heads are still parroting. A loss would be a double win. First, because a “No” vote would allow the foreign policy neophyte to walk away from his blundering “red line” declaration on chemical weapons (“I wanted to go in, but Congress said no”). And second, should Republicans who voted for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars now oppose Syria, the president would be armed with clear “evidence” that their opposition is purely political.
Victor Davis Hanson says that “Obama Indicts Obama:”
One of the problems that Barack Obama has in mounting an attack against the Assad regime is that the gambit violates every argument Barack Obama used against the Bush administration to establish his own anti-war candidacy.
The hypocrisy is so stunning that it infuriates his critics and stuns his supporters.
Deriding the Iraq war was Obama’s signature selling point. He used it to great effect against both Hillary Clinton (who voted for the war) in the Democratic primaries and John McCain in the general election. For the last five years, disparagement of “Iraq” and “Bush” has seemed to intrude into almost every sentence the president utters.
And now? His sudden pro-war stance makes a number of hypocritical assumptions. First, the U.S. president can attack a sovereign nation without authorization from Congress (unlike the Iraq war when George W. Bush obtained authorization from both houses of Congress). Even if Obama gets a no vote, he said that he reserves the right to strike.
At the Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin points out that “Obama’s politicizing national security:”
Democrats routinely accused President George W. Bush of “politicizing” national security, meaning that he allegedly would use national security success to bolster his political standing. Not only has President Obama exceeded that by leaps and bounds, by continually boasting about killing Osama bin Laden (and setting al-Qaeda back on its heels), but he has dragged domestic partisanship into national security. That is far more dangerous and inappropriate than anything Bush ever imagined.
Three important pieces for understanding the case of Syria. Is it a humanitarian necessity, a political ploy or simply about the 2014 election? Obama may be trying casually to trap Republicans and make them look bad, but if so how can you put American lives at risk?
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Intelligence, Islam, Law, Middle East, Military, National Security, The United States | Tags: An Accidental Threat, Drawing "Red Lines", Making Good on Threats
Syria. The U.S. goal is “not to get mocked?” We are going to attack sooner or later, but time is not of the essence, we can do it any time. We’re not going to attack Assad, nor his chemical weapons supplies, and we don’t want to hurt anyone.
A U.S. official said that the initial target lists included fewer than 50 sites, including air bases where Syria’s Russian-made attack helicopters are. The list includes command and control centers as well as a variety of conventional military targets. Perhaps two to three missiles would be aimed at each site.
What the hell is this? Don Rumsfeld remarked that “De-mystifying what you’re going to do to the enemy is — mindless. …There hasn’t been any indication from the administration in respect to what our national interest is.”
Mark Steyn thoughtfully added:
So what do we want in Syria? Obama can’t say, other than for him to look muscular without being mocked, like a camp bodybuilder admiring himself in the gym mirror. …
Meanwhile, the hyperpower is going to war because Obama wandered off prompter and accidentally made a threat. So he has to make good on it, or America will lose its credibility. But he only wants to make good on it in a perfunctory and ineffectual way. So America will lose its credibility, anyway.
Everybody is commenting. Vladimir Putin said he is sure that the attack was the work of rebels trying to provoke international— and especially American — involvement in the Syrian conflict. The government of Bashar al Assad, he said, would have no reason to use chemical weapons at a time when it had gained the upper hand in the fighting.
U.S. Intelligence agencies had indications three days beforehand that the Syrian regime was poised to launch a lethal chemical attack that killed more than a thousand people.
This kind of thing promotes endless speculation, which is of course useless, since you can’t get into another person’s mind, but you speculate anyway. Obama has been quoted some time back saying he didn’t believe anyone should be able to have a gun. I wonder if he has ever been to a war movie, or read any military history? He came of age when it was fashionable among lefties to protest all wars, in mindless ignorance of what they were actually about.
I spent a good part of last Sunday at Seattle’s Museum of Flight touring a B-17, admiring what was at the time, the brand new Navy Corsair, and the astonishingly huge X-15 Blackbird. I have always read military books. I cannot imagine being so unfamiliar with things military that I would confuse corps and corpse. But if you identify something as bad or evil, you’re not apt to pursue information about that subject, and you turn for information to the writers and historians who agree with you. Trouble is, your ignorance usually catches up with you, especially when you’re trying to sound in charge.
No rush. Obama will consult with Congress, though he says, he is perfectly entitled to act on his own. Here’s the actual quote from the Los Angeles Times:
One U.S. official who has been briefed on the options on Syria said he believed the White House would seek a level of intensity “just muscular enough not to get mocked” but not so devastating that it would prompt a response from Syrian allies Iran and Russia.
Filed under: Freedom, Islam, Military, National Security, News of the Weird, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: Nidal Hasan Convicted, Political Correctness, Silencing Dissent
Major Nidal Hasan the U.S. Army Psychiatrist who opened fire on dozens of soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, has been found guilty of murdering thirteen people and of attempted murder of thirty-two by a panel of senior officers. In the sentencing phase of the trial, the panel has recommended that he be put to death, an unusual punishment for a military tribunal. The entire incident remains classified by the U.S. government as “workplace violence” — a ludicrous euphemism for what was clearly a jihadist attack, and what Major Hasan has admitted that he intended.
Hasan, a U.S.-born Muslim, admitted responsibility for the shooting at the start of the trial, saying he had been on the wrong side of a war against Islam and had switched over. During the proceedings, he declined to call any witnesses, testify or give a closing argument. He was prohibited by military law from entering a guilty plea.
At a pretrial hearing, the judge, Col. Tara Osborn, ruled that Hasan could not defend himself by arguing that he carried out the killings to protect Taliban leaders in Afghanistan. Instead, the defendant chose to make his case to the public through communiques and authorized leaks to newspapers, arguing that he was waging jihad because of the United States’ “illegal and immoral aggression against Muslims” in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Now the trial enters an appeals process, which will take several years. Hasan clearly prefers the death sentence, but appeals courts are unlikely to allow him to represent himself.
Those not on trial were those who, out of reluctance to offend or to appear Islamophobic, passed him on through training, ignoring his Jihadist outbursts, close association with Anwar al Awaliki the Muslim Imam who had decamped for Yemen, and statements about Islam. Even after the shooting, a ranking officer in his division remarked that it would be the greatest of tragedies if our diversity is harmed.
There are increasing signs that political correctness has reared its ugly influence in our nation’s military. So far it has killed far more of our soldiers than just the 13 at Fort Hood. The “Blue on Green” attacks in Afghanistan, where our troops are forbidden to carry loaded weapons to show their trust of their Afghan trainees is an inexcusable violation of basic safety — yet such a thing could not happen without orders and policy from above.
The “workplace violence” designation deprives the Fort Hood’s wounded of benefits, and recognition in a shameful way. The Obama administration still insists that Nidal Hasan was not a terrorist — an ongoing and embarrassing lie.
In the meantime, military training has become a strange world where the Founding Fathers have become depicted as extremists and conservative groups are defined as “hate groups.”
Saying “Give me liberty or give me death” qualifies Patrick Henry as an extremist, according to the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute training guide which has been obtained by Judicial Watch under a Freedom of Information Act Request. …
Under a section titled “Extremist Ideologies,” the document states, “In U.S. history, there are many examples of extremist ideologies and movements. The colonists who sought to free themselves from British rule and the Confederate states who sought to secede from the Northern states are just two examples.”…
“Nowadays, instead of dressing in sheets or publicly espousing hate messages, many extremists will talk of individual liberties, states’ rights, and how to make the world a better place,” the Pentagon guide advises.
This is an emerging, and very troubling pattern.
Filed under: Afghanistan, Foreign Policy, Iran, Islam, Liberalism, Middle East, National Security, Politics, Russia, The United States | Tags: "The Burdens of Global Citizenship", "The International Community", Barack Obama's Worldview
Commentary Magazine has published a preview article from its September issue at their “Contentions” blog: “The Citizen of the World Presidency” by Elliott Abrams. He is a deeply thoughtful Foreign Policy scholar, and the lengthy essay is quite wonderful. If you are not alarmed about American foreign policy, you haven’t been paying attention.
It is perhaps more a growing sense of unease, trying to figure out what our foreign policy, if any, is? Mr. Abrams spells out where we are, and shares the unease. The essay is, in a way, comforting, for it clarifies that our worries are not unique and we are not alone. Do read the whole thing, it is deeply informative, and if unsettling, will give you not only food for thought, but new direction. Probably the most important essay you will read this year.