Category Archives: Iraq

Obama’s deadly compromise


President Barack Obama confirmed in his press conference Thursday that he has accepted as unavoidable the recurrent, periodic Islamic terrorist attacks in the U.S. and abroad. That was the import of his answers to questions wherein he indicated that he would not modify what he considers his winning policy in the Mideast to “degrade and destroy” Daesh [ISIS or ISIL].
His response to criticism and demands that the U.S. should undertake a more aggressive policy toward the Mideast source of Islamic terrorism was to warn about additional civilian casualties from any such American action. Yet he acknowledged that Russian intervention in the Syrian conflict is accompanied by massive attacks on the civilian population. He mocked spokesmen, including inferentially the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who have called for the kind of all-out military effort against ISIS that destroyed Nazism and held the Communists at bay during the 35 years of The Cold War. Obama’s response is despite the fact that most American military commanders and planners argue that ISIS falls only behind Russia as Washington’s principal threat.
In effect, Obama’s program of action accepts an unspecified duration when the current worldwide wave of terrorist activity would continue. His rationalization for accepting such a level of violence against the civilian population was that there has always been terrorist activity from many different quarters over the past decades and that it was therefore not a new phenomenon. The implication was that terrorism is a natural phenomenon and may not ever be completely eliminated.
Obama outlined at some length the failure of his continuing negotiations with the Russians to end their support of the Basher al Assad regime in Syria. However, he took no note of the limited Moscow commitment in Syria today compared with Soviet times because of Russia’s diminished military capacity. Admitting that negotiations with the Russians have not produced any diminishment of Moscow’s activities in Syria, he offered the admonition that should such activity continue, it would condemn Russia as an international pariah in world opinion. That such an epithet would have already been accepted in most democratic circles around the world did not seem to reduce for him the importance of such additional evidence coming out of the Syrian civil war. Nor did Obama’s concentration on the Syrian conflict take account of Russian aggression in the Crimea, its subversion among Russian-speakers in the eastern Ukraine, and its continuing threats to the Baltic states.
The President did argue that the U.S. military activity against Daesh in the Mideast, however successful, would require a more comprehensive program to meet ISIS’ ideological concept. Yet, he failed again, to grapple with that very problem, that is to meet the challenge of the terrorists’ allegiance to Islam which forms their ideological framework. Obama continues, as do most observers, to acknowledge but intellectually ignore that however perverted and distorted their view, the terrorists base their creed on their own version of Islam. Obama ignores that a discussion of Islam and its relation to the terrorists is critical to any examination of their ideology.
Like other important international spokesmen, in fact Obama refuses to advocate that the world examine and discuss whatever tenets that religion holds which produce the current wave of terrorism. Instead, he like others fall back on such clichés as “Islam is a religion of peace” and the obvious conclusion that most Moslems are not advocates of terrorism. What Obama and his supporters ignore is that the terrorists are not Christian Scientists nor Mormons, but while all Moslems are not terrorists, all terrorists are Moslems. They ignore the long history of Arab and Moslem holy war [jihad] to force non-believers [kafirs] or face death or enslavement.
Obama’s acceptance , in effect, of the current level of world terrorism will lead to further augmentation of ISIS as it spreads it network around the world, gaining psychotic and fanatical adherents of an aggressive version of Islam because of its “success” in terrorizing the civilized world.

sws-08-04-16

Obama lies about Iran


A secret codicil now reveals that Pres. Barack Hussein Obama’s vaunted nuclear proliferation agreement with Iran is at least in part a fraud.
On the first anniversary of the agreement, Obama again claimed the agreement he made with the Persian Islamicists was successful in “avoiding further conflict and making us safer.”
The newly discovered secret agreement, however, indicates that critical points in the publicized executive agreement which Obama refused to put through the treaty process with the Congress, are less than claimed or non-existent.
The new document makes Obama’s claims much less than originally announced. The agreement was signed by all the five countries that participated with the U.S. in its effort to keep the Tehran mullahs from moving to a nuclear weapon and being able to deliver it.
But Obama’s agreement, the until now secret document release, permits the Tehran mullahs to proceed with various aspects of their weapons production in a much shorter time frame than originally claimed for the agreement. :
Iran can as of January 2027 — 11 years after the deal was implemented — begin to replace its mainstay centrifuges to produce fissionable material. The agreement had been presented as a 20-year accord.
These new centrifuges could be up to five times more efficient than the little over 5,000 machine it is now restricted to use. That would permit Tehran to produce bomb fuel at twice its current rate.
Because of the efficiency of the new machines, instead of a year, the mullahs could now make a decision to make a bomb and produce it in six months. In the original agreement, it was estimated that it would take them a year as the “break out” time needed.
The UN Atomic Energy Agency now claims Tehran is adhering to the agreement it made with Obama and the major powers just a year ago. But this is the same UN agency which failed earlier to report Iran’s nuclear fuel activity. That clandestine activity at the Iranian installations was reported by Persian exiles in Iraq and later confirmed by the UN agency.
. The document which had been secret until now was obtained by the Associated Press from undisclosed sources. The AP claims its authenticity has been confirmed by several other also undisclosed informants who are expert on atomic issues or the Persian scene.
Before going into recess last week, the Congress passed legislation imposing new sanctions on Tehran for continuing publicly announced development and testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles. The program, the White House admits, can only be meant to carry atomic warheads. It was not part of Obama’s nuclear agreement with the mullahs.
The legislation also prohibits the White House from continuing to buy heavy water, a raw material used in producing nuclear weapons. The White house has rationalized this contribution to the income of the world’s leading state terrorists as removing an ingredient for possible bomb-making. It remains to be seen if Obama will veto it and if the hawks in the Congress can override his veto with the aid of security-minded Democrats.
The effect of the revelations has intensified the mystery of Obama’s efforts, seemingly, to reach some sort of overall Mideast modus operandi with the Tehran mullahs. It came on the heels of the Administration releasing a 28-page document, part of the original report on the 9/11 attacks on the U.S., indicating complicity of some Saudi elements – perhaps officials – in the attack.
Why this highly formerly classified document was released now has not been disclosed by the Administration. But it has added to the concern among America’s traditional Sunni allies in the region of the growing Persian strength through expansion of cooperation with its allies on the Mediterranean. Hamas in Gaza [originally a creature of the Sunni Moslem Brotherhood from which most of the terrorist organizations have emerged] and Hizbollah, a Shia terrorist group now dominant in Lebnaon, are now full-blown allies of Tehran’.
It is time for the Obama Administration to reveal its Mideast strategy which has reach crisis concern to both Washington’s traditional Arab allies and to Israel.
sws-07-20-16

The Islam debate


The most difficult political and cultural debate since the decision of the Western alliance to destroy fascism in 1939 or the American decision to help resurrect Europe in 1945 has begun.

The discussion will be an intense examination of Islam and its role in the modern world.

It is an argument fraught with danger, not only for Islam, but for the democratic liberties of religion, free speech and economic well being of an increasingly interrelated world.

One could well argue that the debate is well underway, sotto voce. Certainly Pres. Barack Hussein Obama’s Cairo speech was, if not the opening, one of the curtain raisers. Obama, in essence, extended the hand of friendship to the Moslem world. As part and parcel of his message, he not only accepted responsibility as he saw it for past American aggression against the Moslem world. But he denigrated, in the eyes of most American and international historians, the unparallel magnanimity of a rich and powerful U.S. since the end of World War II..

Even most Americans are unaware of the vast outpouring of U.S. resources, overwhelmingly private but official as well, which helped rehabilitate post-World War II Europe, and then went on to attempt, however unsuccessfully, the uplifting of what was then called “the third world” of poverty and ignorance in the pre-industrial societies.

But for many reasons – not the least the unrest produced by the beginning stirrings of modernity – the Arab and Moslem world beyond it went into a revolutionary period of upheaval and violence. It is a vast exaggeration to blame this movement from Dakar to Zamboanga on the decision of the Bush Administration to topple one of the most ruthless and cruel dictatorships the world has seen in Iraq’s Sadam Hussein. Likewise, the Obama decision to abandon the Iraqis to their own machinations with the sudden and complete withdrawal of American power only added to the tumult.

What is basic to the argument is the very nature of Islam.

The continued repeating of the cliché that Islam is a religion of peace does not alter the fact that history proves otherwise. The Arab acceptance of Mohammed’s preaching, according to their own and what other accounts we have, led immediately to warfare. Islam, first against Medina Jews who refused to accept Mohammed as the messiah, but thereafter, spread by the sword through the Middle East, crushing ancient Christian and other beliefs,. Tenets from forced conversion to death for those who Moslem believers who reject the faith are still part and parcel of the Moslem ethic and in the hadith, the literature surrounding Mohammed’s life, times and values.

A complicating factor, of course, is that the fundamental Islamic concept that the Koran, the store of Moslem teaching, is the word of Allah, the supreme being. Even though there has been historical research indicating at least some of the Koran predates Islam, that fundamental of the Moslem creed is basically different from both Christianity, Judaism and most other religions which accept even their holy writ as created by others. Thus the cliché that all three religions are “Abrahamic” and based in “the book’ is erroneous as is the Moslem claim that at times sanctifies certain relationships with others ‘of the book”, such as marriage. From almost the beginning of Judaism, and certainly of Christianity, exegeses of sacred texts has continued, although at times considered heresy and punished, It was this tradition which eventually led Martin Luther to success in his Reformation of the medieval Catholic Church and its Catholic Counter-Reformation which produced modern Christianity..

Today no matter how much non-violent Moslems refute the accusations that the Islamic terrorists – a name Obama and his associates refuse to use – have their roots in Islam, there is considerable contradictory evidence. Furthermore, there is also evidence that in recent terrorist episodes in the U.S., family members or other Moslems had information about the preparation for these outrages but either were sympathetic or intimidated into remaining silent. Some traditional concepts continue unreformed; for example, that Moslems who lie to nonbelievers are excused from moral stigma if the deed can be ascribed to fostering the fortunes of Islam..

There are numerous spokesmen today calling for a “ Moslem Reformation”. But they work at the margins of Islamic society and rarely have a foothold in the mosques, the halls of prayer, where inforunately too much of the recent violence has been plotted. Unquestionably, U.S. authorities responsible for the defense of the American people as their first and foremost responsibility, will have to servile domestic Moslem circles for possible terrorists in hiding. They certainly will have to examine as carefully as possible new migrants where agents of the terrorists may well be entering the U.S. as they have Western Europe as they have been publicly instructed to do.

. The bounds of this surveillance will have to be carefully monitored by human rights organizations. But if they are to assume that it is not necessary, as seems to be the case with the venerated but increasingly ideological National Association of Colored People [NAACP], then their role will not only restricted but useless. There are guidelines that might be adduced from the long fight against Communist penetration during The Cold War. But there is no way that the necessary pursuit of terrorism can be avoided unless and until there is an administration in Washington which is willing to declare an all-out war and is successful in destroying their sanctuaries to reduce “the victories” of the Mideast terrorists which unfortunately continue to draw malcontents and deranged adherents.

sws-07-15-16

Undiplomatic diplomacy


Fifty-one career diplomats have signed a protest to the Secretary of State and Pres. Barack Obama concerning U.S. policy toward the chaotic situation in Syria. Their essential point, that the U.S. should be doing everything it can to unseat the barbarous regime of Haffez al Assad, is well taken. Al Assad’s regime is now responsible for some 400,000 deaths by using weapons of war including aerial bombing against innocents caught up in the fighting. The barbarism of the regime is unparalleled. save perhaps that of Al Assad’s father, the former Syrian dictator. Unfortunately the regime is now regaining lost territory and taking a stronger line against any negotiated settlement of the civil war proposed by the U.S. and its allies in the Geneva peace conference which would see Al Assad go.
Yet we think the diplomats’ protest is a mistake. First of all, diplomats are civil servants, whose duty lies in implementing policies in which they have a participatory contribution, but one that demands public loyalty. For diplomats who cannot and will not abide by what they see as unredeeming strategic or policy mistakes, there is only one position: either keep still and work against policies within the Department or, resign with a public denunciationt as the Former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, a career diplomat, did in May 2014. Ford was pulled out of Syria in a U.S. protest in February 2012 as the civil war escalated. He remained ambassador until 2014 but with an active campaign on against the regime on the social media.
But the diplomats’ statement – and surrounding publicity engendered by its being leaked to The New York Times. — has a much graver problem. The memorandum, or at least what has been released to the media, places the entire onus for the current state of Syria, on the al Assad regime. Unfortunately, there is not much now to choose from as far as U.S. policy is concerned in the parties in the chaotic internal struggle.
A moderate and democratic opposition to the al Basher regime — if it ever existed in sufficient numbers and influence even had it had American assistance which was not forthcoming from the Obama Administration — has been wiped out. Opponents of the regime now consist of Islamic terrorists of whatever flavor, but including both the two principal American enemies, Al Qaeda and Daesh [ISIS or ISIL].
While one can make the argument, and that is implied in the diplomats’ statement, that the nature of the al Basher regime was the fundamental reason for the breakdown in civilization in the country, today the threat to U.S. national security comes from the Islamicist opponents of the regime. That has been proved conclusively in the series of terrorist attacks in the U.S. over the last year culminating in the greatest mass killing in U.S. history in Orlando.
The final outcome of the civil war in Syria – with growing Russian and participation by other Arab regimes – appears likely to culminate in an international conflagration ended only by an international negotiation. From the U.S. standpoint, absolutely essential to such a settlement would be the disarming and destruction of the regime’s Islamicist enemies. In that, at least, we appear to have the support of Moscow and certainly of our Western allies, led by the French with their long influence in the country and who have long advocated a more aggressive policy than the Obama Administration.
The Obama Administration has made its concept of threats to U.S. national security the sine qua non of its foreign policy. Whether it has, indeed, always recognized the issue in the tangled Syrian environment is another question. It may well be argued that it was Pres. Obama’s reluctance to intervene, after initially announcing a “red line” in Syria, and his earlier overly rapid withdrawal from Iraq, which brought on the current situation.
It would be well, then, were the concerned diplomats to consider the broader issues involved in the current Syrian inferno, before taking a position outside what are their normal demanding functions.
sws-05-18-16

The Saudi revolution


The Saudi family is engaged in a struggle to overhaul their notoriously pragmatic if autocratic regime.
Younger, foreign [many American] educated members of the farflung family recognize that The Shale Revolution has changed the whole nature of the world energy market. They recognize that despite opposition from enviromentalists and lack of technology in some countries, the exploitation of shale oil and gas deposits widely distributed around the world is going to continue to produce fossil fuel surpluses. That may even be the case if the world economy and consumoption take an upturn from the near-recession conditions in Europe and China reverse.
America is again emerging as a gas and oil exporter to challenge the longtime hold of the Saudis as the arbiter of world prices. Pres. Barack Obama’s “deal” with the Iranians, whether successful or not, for ending their pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, has begun to lifted sanctions against the Tehran mullahs. And Iran is slowly moving back into world markets with its reserves, among the largest in the world. Other smaller producers are emerging in West Africa and throughout Asia and Latin America. To some extent they will compensate in the world market for any temporary blocs against Libyan, Syrian or other Mideast producers.
Thirty-year-old Mohammed bin Salman, the deputy crown prince and the king’s favorite son is leading the charge for a radical departure from the norm. Saudi policy in the post-World War II era, after securing a tacit alliance with Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt, has been preservation of the status quo. As the guardians of the Moslem holy shrines in Mecca, they have had disproportionate influence not only on their fellow Arabs but throughout the Moslem world. [One of the religious duties of all Moslems is to make at least once in a lifetime to these shrines.]
Bin Salman recognizes that the kingdom’s public finances are unsustainable and unlikely to rebound in a future oil market . He wants to radically change all that with. “Vision 2030”. The plan aims to slash wasteful government spending, develop a non-oil economy and wean the population off its total dependency on cradle to grave benefits. It also aims to boost private sector investment and job creation. Khalid al-Falih, the new chairman of state-owned oil company Aramco, recognizes that he is unlikely to hold the central role in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries [OPEC], that in the past dictated world oil prices.
The Saudis are late in following in the footsteps of their oil-rich neighbors who have moved away from crude oil. Abu Dhabi, much wealthier on a per capita than Saudi Arabia, has struggled to do so. But fellow emirate Dubai has engineered a transformation over the past 40 years that has weaned it almost entirely off oil, which once contributed 50 per cent of its GDP.
The planned changes will be extremely difficult to execute. Public wages are to be reduced as a proportion of the budget to 40 per cent by 2020 from the current 45 per cent currently, a goal that could increase public opposition given expectations of rising inflation. It would mean a decrease in total salaries from Sar480 billion to Sar456 billion by 2020, with two-thirds of Saudi workers state-employed.
Other equally difficult targets include raising non-oil revenues to Sar530 billion from Sar163.5 billion last year by 2020 through an increase in government fees and taxes, including a sales tax, income taxes on non-Saudi residents and “sin taxes” on harmful products such as tobacco. The Saudis aim to balance the budget by 2020, with debt rising to 30 per cent of GDP by 2020 from 7.7 per cent currently. But the IMF forecasts a budget deficit of 14 per cent this year.
All this is to be accomplished while the Saudis continue to try to mobilize their fellow Arabs – with American support – against the continuing threat of Daesh [ISIS or ISIL], terrorists in Syri and Iraq threatening its neighbors. Crossing the Sunni-Shia, these Saudi enemies will try to exploit the traditional unrest among Saudi Arabia’s Shia minority in the critical southeastern oilfields.
No Middle East phenomenon matches the long-time outcome of these events in Saudi Arabia.

sws-06-15-16

Une éminence grise?


“I don’t know anymore where I begin and Obama ends,” David Samuels quotes Ben Rhodes in an article that has something of the same confusion.
Samuels, we are told by our betters, “has nearly autistic command of minor details and facts” and “achieves the glorious breadth and detail of a mural painter.”
Maybe.
But much of the detail we have competence to evaluate in his article on Rhodes is just wrong, which makes one a little suspicion of the rest of his “long-form journalism”, whatever that is. He confuses, twice, Laos and Cambodia, something anyone not acquainted with Southeast Asia might well do, but not to be incorporated in a piece where discussion of “the bombing of Laos” takes on such importance. His discussion of one of the minor characters in his screed, Robert Malley, and Malley’s father, Simon, neglects to point out the elder Malley was a Communist as well as editor of a minor magazine, and at one point expelled from France.
His interpretation of relations between the Obama Administration and Iran talks about the President’s aim of cultivating the so-called Iranian moderates. But Samuels neglects to point out Washington turned its back on the 2009 appeal by the Green Movement after fraudulent elections led to widespread anti-regime demonstrations. “By eliminating the fuss about Iran’s nuclear program xxx” How is that again? Books on Rhodes’ bookshelves? I wonder, if not like mine, they may represent as much as anything else review copies that floated in and not the owner’s taste in serious reading material?
What a mish-mash this article is! If it has a central argument, it is that Rhodes exercises enormous influence over American foreign policy through his “melding” with the President. But then, we are told, he does it without the assistance of the Blob, the foreign policy experts, and any knowledge of the details of such places as the Middle East. It’s a hypothesis that is both frightening and perhaps could be true.
But except for a somewhat muddied description, ostensibly, of Rhodes successful campaign to overcome Congressional and other critics of “the deal”, it doesn’t really tell us much about how he operates. He never mentions, of course, that “the deal” should have been a treaty and it was by that hook and crook that the Obama Administration was able to achieve what it claims was the halt to Tehran’s nuclear weapons program. Samuels seems to be endorsing the Administration’s insistence that it purposely excluded other issues with Iran – its state sponsored terrorism around the world and its use of surrogates in Hezbollah and Hamas, the former until recently having killed more Americans than any other terrorist group.
In one of the many diversions, Samuels tells us how important Valerie Jarrett is as Obama’s “work wife”. But when he gets into how she and Obama have great empathy because they both spent time as children in foreign cultures is, to say the least, stretching credulity. It may be the case that Jarrett and Obama do cultivate that notion. But it is very unlikely that as a pre-adolescent as Obama was during his four years [six to 10] living with a step-father and his mother in Djakarta, he either understood or was affected by the attempted Communist coup and its massacres as an aftermath that had occurred three years before he was born.
One should not be surprised that Samuels is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker. This article like so many in that publication piles anecdote and digression, one on top of another, and suddenly without much warning just walks away from the whole pile.
Yes, it seems likely that Rhodes exerts a great deal of power within the Administration and in areas for which he has neither formal training nor accrued experience. That does not, by the way, distinguish him from most of what used to be called “the kitchen cabinet” that surrounds Obama. And it may be, too, that Rhodes implements the only strategy that the current President has: to abandon longtime post-World War II commitments of the U.S. as leader of the society of nations in an effort to preserve peace and stability. The results, although both Samuels and Rhodes justify it by using Iraq’s current quagmire as the way Syria would have gone had there been the original Obama intervention, are all too visible. That forgets of course Obama’s quit and run Iraq policy.
But all of these are speculations. And we thought Samuels was strong on detail.
sws-05-07-16

The Obama Doctrine


Jeffrey Goldberg has made a valiant effort in a lengthy [and often repetitious] article in The Atlantic [striving desperately to become high-brown] to present a comprehensive explanation of Pres. Obama’s foreign policy. Goldberg is both exhaustive and sympathetic, giving us extended references to intimacies with the President over many years – dating, as he tells us, to Obama’s days as an unknown Illinois state senator.
Goldberg fails, however, for one simple reason: he trifles with the facts as well as the interpretations.
Many of my readers will abandon us here, for what we will have to do is to burrow into the article. Nor can we do more than skim the surface of our differences with Goldberg’s misstatements and interpretations.
• “xxx Obama believes that the Manichaeanism, and eloquently rendered bellicosity, commonly associated with Churchill were justified by Hitler’s rise, and were at times defensible in the struggle against the Soviet Union.xxx” The New Oxford tells us “bellicosity:” means “Demonstrating aggression and willingness to fight”. Does that really describe a Churchill as leader of a lonely Britain holding out against the most criminal tyranny the world had ever seen? Or later against Communism which had taken tens of millions of lives of innocent citizens in Both the Soviet Union and China?
• “xxx Bush and Scowcroft removed Saddam Hussein’s army from Kuwait in 1991, and they deftly managed the disintegration of the Soviet Union xxx” That’s a very interesting if wholly bogus interpretation of the implosion of the Soviet Union in the face of a relatively passive foreign policy of Bush I and an even more passive policy advocated by Scowcroft.
• “xxx Obama would say privately that the first task of an American president in the post-Bush international arena was ‘Don’t do stupid shit.’ xxx” Goldberg repeatedly quotes this Obama axiom as a guideline to making foreign policy. Enough said.
• “xxx Four years earlier, the president believed, the Pentagon had ‘jammed’ him on a troop surge for Afghanistan. Now, on Syria, he was beginning to feel jammed again.xxx” Goldberg neglects to remind readers that at the same time Obama injected new troops into Afghanistan, he announced a deadline for withdrawal – hardly a great strategic concept.
• “xxx Within weeks, Kerry, working with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, would engineer the removal of most of Syria’s chemical-weapons arsenal—a program whose existence Assad until then had refused to even acknowledge.xxx” The operative word is “most”; Assad has continued to use chemical weapons against his own people; only days ago there was another instance in Aleppo.
• “xxx A widely held sentiment inside the White House is that many of the most prominent foreign-policy think tanks in Washington are doing the bidding of their Arab and pro-Israel funders. I’ve heard one administration official refer to Massachusetts Avenue, the home of many of these think tanks, as “Arab-occupied territory xxx” One of Goldberg [or Obama’s] more curious statements given the fact that the more often heard accusation [obviously false given their vast differences] is that Washington think tanks are enthralled by Jews/Zionists/Israelis.
• “xxx Over the course of our conversations, I came to see Obama as a president who has grown steadily more fatalistic about the constraints on America’s ability to direct global events, even as he has, late in his presidency, accumulated a set of potentially historic foreign-policy achievements—controversial, provisional achievements, to be sure, but achievements nonetheless: the opening to Cuba, the Paris climate-change accord, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, and, of course, the Iran nuclear deal. xxx” “xxx But achievements nevertheless xxx” Oh? The Cuban dictatorship remains in place having made no concessions, arresting new political dissidents even as the Obama-Castro agreement was announced. The Paris climate-change accord binds no one to anything, is based on scientific assumptions under fire, and does nothing to clear up the controversial claims of the Obama supporters that human activity is the critical issue. The Trans-Pacific Parntership trade pact is yet to be accepted in any of the constituent partners and is now under attack from both right [Trumpites] and left [Obama’s trade union supporters]. The Administration itself admits that the Iran nuclear “deal” is yet to be proved, that Tehran continues to pour billions [now augmented by the dropping of sanctions] into a worldwide state terrorist network, and is demonstrably proceeding with the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
We won’t bore our readers with additional examples. But the Goldberg presentation of what he ceremoniously calls The Obama Doctrine is a tissue of false information and prejudiced interpretation. There is no Obama Doctrine except a general withdrawal of American power in critical areas of the world with the traditionally anticipated results.

sws-03-16-16

Calling it Christian genocide


 

Among the many anomalies of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy, none appear so anachronistic as its refusal to label the persecution and annihilation of Christians in the Middle East as genocide.

Granted that the term has been too often thrown around carelessly, used incorrectly as a synonym for prejudice and persecution of minorities. It does of course have a specific meaning. In the 1948 United Nations Convention of the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide it was defined as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group,” including by the means of “killing members of the group.” 

The stubborn refusal of the Obama White House and State Department to apply it to current events in the Mideast is therefore something of a mystery. Hundreds of thousands of Christians, Azidis and other religious minorities have been driven from their ancestral homes in Iraq and Syria or have been slaughtered during the rise of Daesh [ISIS or ISIL].

Iraq’s Christian population 10 years ago was about 1.5 million, but now is estimated at only 500,000. In Syria, of the 1.1 million Christians, about 600,000 have fled or died. Christians have been tortured, raped and even crucified. Mosul, Iraq, which was home to 35,000 is now empty of Christians after an ISIS ultimatum that they either convert to Islam or be executed. In Syria, Gregorios III Laham, the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch of the Church of Antioch, reported “entire villages” have been “cleared of their Christian inhabitants.”

American human rights activists – Jews as well as Christians – have called on the Obama Administration to admit Christian refugees to the U.S. under special quotas In an ironic twist, American policy now discriminates against Mideast Christian entry. The State Department accepts refugees from lists prepared by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees which oversees large refugee camps in the Mideast. However, endangered Christians do not dare enter these camps where they have been attacked by fellow Moslem refugees.

Christian groups and human rights and religious freedom advocates have been calling on the Obama administration to label the situation as a “genocide” — arguing that the terminology would help to bring a global community response to the crisis. But Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress last week that he is having an “additional evaluation” to help him determine whether the systematic murder of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East should be declared “genocide.” Earlier White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest conceded that the Obama administration’s hesitation to label the Islamic State’s persecution of Christians and other religious minorities as “genocide” is because of the legal ramifications. Kerry was responding to Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R.-Neb.), sponsor of a resolution that would declare on behalf of Congress that the slaughter of Christians is in fact genocide.

The Administration’s hesitation appears to be part of its general effort to find common ground with Moslem regimes in the Middle East, many of whom have long placed restrictions on Christian religious practice or looked the other way when violence occurred. This is after all an Administration which refuses use the words “Islamic radical” or “Islamic terror”and coming to the defense of the Christians in the region would clearly not fit into their strategy.

But U.S. Christian groups are demanding that the label genocide be invoked and that the Administration come up with a program to end it. Co-sponsored by an organization called In Defense of Christians and the Knights of Columbus, a petition is being promoted with a new nationwide TV ad. The ad includes quotes by presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio endorsing a genocide declaration, a position supported by 55 percent of Americans, according to a 2015 K of C-Marist poll. The signers “implore” Secretary Kerry “to speak up on behalf of these brutalized minority populations and urge him “to declare that Christians, along with Yazidis and other vulnerable minorities, are targets of ongoing genocide.”

sws-03-09-16

 

 

Mideast peace threat accelerating


 

The chaotic Middle East is taking on convolutions which bring it ever closer to a clash among the major powers.

  • Despite his rapidly deteriorating economy, Russia’s Vladimir Putin is taking an increasingly aggressive role in supporting the Basher Al Assad Syrian regime and its Iranian partners. His efforts to strengthen the Damascus regime have kept it alive but show no signs of a significant victory against its opponents, some of whom represent jihadist goals with liaison to international Islamic terrorism.
  • Israel’s security on its northern border is deteriorating as its traditional Lebanese enemy, Hezbollah – with a long record of terrorism against the U.S. – becomes increasingly embroiled as an Iranian ally in Syria. Hezbollah’s operations beyond the Middle East, especially in Latin America in league with local guerrillas and drug traffickers, are a growing challenge to American influence and stability there.
  • A seemingly leaderless explosion of individual terrorist acts against Israeli civilian and military targets has assumed new significance with an attack by a U.S.-trained Palestinian Liberation Organization security official on Israeli military. The knifing attacks are generally by teenagers schooled by UN-supported Palestinian educational institutions where anti-Semitism is standard curriculum. They are an expression of the collapse of secular Palestinian leadership which is hanging on Israeli security support. The growing strength of the Muslim terrorists Hamas, again being rearmed by Iran, are now infiltrating the West Bank from Gaza.
  • Saudi Arabians are persuaded of their abandonment by the Obama Administration in its pursuit of agreements with Tehran. In the face of an Iranian attempt at Mideast hegemony, Jeddah is lashing out militarily with the support of its traditional Arab allies in the Persian Gulf. But explosions of Sunni-Shia violence, including in the Saudi’s southeastern oilfields, and its see-saw battle in Yemen against Iranian-back rebels is inconclusive at best.
  • Daesh [ISIS or ISIL] continues to recruit young Muslims, even in the West and the U. S. Those who remain in their homelands present the prospect of “lone wolf” terrorist massacres resembling the almost daily occurrences in the Mideast. Despite effective continued FBI surveillance and discovery of terrorist plots, it seems only a question of time until new episodes such as San Bernardino and Ft. Hood will erupt in the Homeland.

The Obama Administration’s strategic response to this growing catastrophe is an incremental injection of small special forces teams in the Mideast conflicts. Sec. of State John Kerry has carried on frenzied whirlwind diplomatic activity. [Are secretaries of state now being judged by how many flight miles they put in?] And he has persuaded all parties to attend a Syria peace conference. But no one believes in its success with parties – including the U.S. and the Russians — pursuing directly contradictory goals.

Not even the other Republican candidates for president appear prepared to adopt Jeb Bush’s formula for a massive all-out military effort to destroy Daesh as a threat to U.S. national security. Meanwhile,Yeltsin pretends to have a common enemy with Washington in the Daesh terrorists, but Russian initiatives in Syria have been largely limited to direct support of the al Assad regime. Israeli, and American interventions in pursuit of their own direct security – for example, transfer of Iranian weapons to Hezbollah in Syria by Iran – run the risk of confrontation despite intense communications to control the traffic. The continued violation of Turkish sovereignty by Russian fighter-bombers and Ankara’s past winking at jihadist communications through its territory pose a growing problem for NATO and Washington.

Despite its continued professions of loyalty to the U.S.-Israeli alliance, the Obama Administration moves closer to the growing antagonism and pro-Palestinian policies of the Europeans. Paris, for example, now threatens to recognize a non-existing Palestinian state if bilateral negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians do not go forward, an exceedingly unlikely phenomenon given the lack of a viable Palestinian negotiating partner.

The latest sign that the Obama Administration is moving away from Israel is its adopting the Europeans’ designation [and implied boycott] of Israeli manufactures from the Jewish Settlements on the West Bank which employ tens of thousands of Palestinian Arabs. Indeed, the “Palestine” cause has united old European anti-Semites with the traditional left for the creation of a Palestinian state which would be a direct threat to Israeli security.

Whether this turmoil will await a new approach, at least one generally anticipated, by a new U.S.  president in another year before some unintended action ignites a larger explosion, remains problematical.

sws-01-02-16.

 

 

 

The Shale Revolution [Cont.]


The  Shale Revolution continues to wreak havoc as revolutions are wont to do.

The abundance of U.S. natural gas, in many ways a more satisfactory fossil fuel than either coal or oil because of its lesser emissions, has dynamited the whole worldwide energy market. Whether or not the Obama Administration wants it, the export of oil and gas is going to be a function of the new energy picture with the growing economic pressure to sell off our low priced gas to a world market which hasn’t yet taken advantage of the new mining technologies.

Along with the flagging economies of Europe, and now China, and subsequent lower demand, energy prices are under attack everywhere. The stock markets, long dependent on high energy costs and their very profitable producers, are lurching under the torpedoing of the old price structures. Fuel economies, sometimes at the insistence of government fiat as in the American automobile industry, are also finally having their effect and slowing growing energy demand.

In the long run, there is every reason to hope and believe that lower energy prices will be an enormous fillip for the U.S. and the world economies. But, as Maynard Milord Keyes once quipped, in the long run, we will all be dead. Projections of energy demand and supply have in the past been notoriously wrong. And they may be again. But for the moment, what looks likely for several years if a continuing low price for energy. The U.S. which has always prospered on low energy costs, as compared with Europe, is likely to benefit from this new situation.

Geopolitical developments overseas, for the moment at least, seem to be bolstering this new abundance of energy. Iraq’s fabulous oil and gas reserves are coming back onstream after so many years of war and destruction. Pres. Obama’s “deal” with Iran is likely to see sanctions against its sales of oil lifted with new entries to the market.

Most important has been the effort of our friends the Saudis to regain their role as the marginal producer and dictator of the international market pricing. They have opened all the valves and are producing and marketing at record levels. The intent, without doubt, was to hammer the American shale gas and oil producers with their higher costs than those on the Persian Gulf. But while there have been some difficulties and cutbacks for the U.S. producers, the shale oil entrepreneurs have been adept at coming up with new technological fixes which have in the main maintained their role in this new struggle for prices and markets.

Meanwhile, much propaganda and pure and simple idiocy dominates much of the talk about energy and its application. Electric cars, for example, may eventually become a reality because of new battery developments. But recharging the electric car off their baseboard plug – if that becomes the reality – is going to demand that more electricity be produced somewhere and by someone with some fuel. Coal which has until recently dominated the electrical generating plants, about 60% of the total energy consumption, is fading as more and more quick fix gas generators go into service and environmental constraints demand cutbacks in coal emissions. The pain in the old and often poverty-stricken coal mining areas is something the rest of the country is going to have to be attended [and be paid for].

But, returning to our original point, progress is rarely achieved without considerable pain – for some part or other of our society. And it is clear that is going to be case as the Shale Revolution with almost daily announcements of increased reserves is no exception. Government subsidies for wind and solar will continue to feed the trendy enviromentalists’ pressure on more innocent lawmakers. That, too, is a burden which the taxpayer appears inevitably going to bear.

sws-01-26-26

 

 

Southeast Asia Islamic terrorism


The inability of the Obama strategy to reduce area of control by Daesh [ISIS or ISIL] –and most important its serene song to young Muslims – is reaching worldwide proportions.

The mid-January multiple explosions and gunfire near a shopping mall in central Jakarta, Indonesia, is the latest horror in the region. Whether Daesh is in fact responsible for the bombings is problematical. But its claimed responsibility for the terrorism is spreading. Indonesia technically has the largest Muslim population in the world. In the past repeated and bloody bombings by local offspring of the Mideast terrorists in Bali, a famous tourist mecca has costs hundreds of lives.

Conventional wisdom has it that Indonesia with a reputation for moderate Islam is not a major player in the outbreak of worldwide Islamic terrorism. But that misapprehension rests mainly on the fact that the 100-million Javanese located in Middle and Easter Java, have an underlying and deep-rooted parallel Hindu culture.

But in fact, Indonesian Islam produced its own native terrorism even before the emergence of both Al Qaida and Daesh. In 1949, for example, just before formal independence, two Americans, one a Time correspondent, and another a cultural anthropologist, were assassinated in West Java. Their killers were an Islamic group calling itself Darul Islam and demanding a sharia culture for the country. In 1958, a Muslim-inspired revolt broke out in Sumatra, the Celebes islands in East Indonesia, and the northern tip of Sumatra, Ajeh,

Hadji Agoes Salim, for several decades between the World Wars, the Dutch consul-general in Mecca and one of the original signers of Indonesian independence in August 1945, made an argument for the strength of Islam in his country. As an historian, he argued Islam had in fact established itself in the Archipelago in apposition to the advances of the 350-year-long Dutch rule. Bandung, the country’s third largest city, capital of West Java, has been notoriously a site of religious radicals.

Conservative Muslim enclaves exist throughout the Islands. Minangkabau, a colorful region of western Sumatra, despite its Moslem orthodoxy – in part contradicted by a matriarchal culture – produced moderate Moslem politicians in the early days of the Republic. It was their leadership and influence on the army, under native son and former vice president Mohammed Hatta,that blocked a 1965 Communist coup backed by the Soviets. But the reaction to the attempted coup turned into bloodbath so vast that reliable figures estimate the toll as between half a million and a million Communists and non-Muslims slaughtered.

Whether indeed the recent bombings were ordered by Daesh, or were local “lone wolfe” Moslem terrorist operations, the fact that Daesh has claimed them has changed the perspective in Southeast Asia. Across the narrow Malaccan Strait multinational Malaysia is in disarray with a scandal of massive stealth of government funds involving the current prime minister. There are also links between Malaysian ultra-conservative politicians to the long simmering rebellion of the three southernmost Thailand provinces with Muslim Malay majorities. And there is a similar long-term revolt amongst the Moros, native Muslims of the Philippines Republic, again linked to the neighboring Borneo states of Malaysia.

The continuing failure by the U.S. and its Arab and European allies to destroy Daesh is feeding Islamic terrorism in Southeast Asia. Adding this to the continued friction between Pakistan and India – with its own Muslim population larger than the entire Pakistani population. Meanwhile, Daesh’s very sophisticated internet propaganda is reaching the whole Muslim world of 1.3 billion, with a special appeal to the young including Southeast Asia.

The Obama Administration argues it is taking a long view of Daesh, limiting civilian casualties, reducing the effectiveness of its bombing campaign, and with a minimal U.S. military presence in Iraq and on the Turkish border with Syria. One of the results of this strategy, however, is that so long as it brilliantly commands space on the social media, Daesh is an international menace to the whole Moslem world from Zamboanga to Dakar. Add that to the vacuum Obama’s policies of withdrawal and concessions to Iran and the U.S. is helping to reek havoc through the whole umma [the Moslem world community].

 

sws-01-24-16

 

 

No brother!


Among the many mysteries of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy is its love affair with the Moslem Brotherhood.

The Administration courted it during the brief period when as an elected government it ruled Egypt under Pres. Mohammed Morsi. After the Morsi regime began to exhibit all the signs of one vote, one election, one time, overwhelming popular support backed Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s putsch that overthrew it.

El-Sisi subsequently was elected on a civilian ticket as president. But Washington continued to flirt with the Brotherhood, almost rupturing relations with Egypt. Its relations with the dominant Egyptian military had already been undermined with its support of the overthrow of el-Sisi’s predecessor, longtime American ally, Hosni Mubarak. Now with full-fledged insurgencies in the Sinai and in the Western Desert, el-Sisi has been so frustrated with Washington that Cairo has once again renewed its ties with Moscow. Purchasing weapons from the Russians comes even though Obama restored the U.S. military aid plan which was he briefly interrupted after e-Sisi’s coup.

It’s unclear why the President and his advisers refuse to accept a general consensus among students of Islamic affairs that the Brotherhood is suspect. Obama refused to name the Brotherhood as a threat in a 2011 interview with Fox News, despite its well publicized links at that time to al Qaida. The President limited himself to saying “they are well organized and there are strains of their ideology that are anti-U.S.” A similar ambivalent position was taken by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton now the leading Democratic candidate for president next year.

It’s no secret that CIA Director John O. Brennan has some notion that the Brotherhood is an Islamic version of West European Christian Democrats. True, the Brotherhood often puts out that flyer. But its support of fantasies such as American government support of 9/11 or its justification of attacks on U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq ought to be enough to disabuse anyone of such beliefs. . In 2011, the Obama administration had to make an elaborate backtrack on a statement by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper after he described the group as “mostly secular” at a Capitol Hill hearing. In January, the State Department met with members of the Egyptian Freedom and Justice Party that was established by the Muslim Brotherhood

Apparently all this is based on the hope within the Administration that continued U.S. links to the organization will modify its views and its tacit collaboration with the various Moslem terrorist groups.

But now comes further evidence that the Obama Administration’s policy is mistaken. The British government, after long and considered investigation, has put together a detailed analysis of the Brotherhood and why it is a menace to British security.

The formal policy report will not be published but Prime Minister David Cameron has purposely leaked enough of it to indicate its content and judgment and recommendations for Foreign Office policy. The report acknowledges that the Brotherhood has preferred non-violent methods but on the grounds of expediency. Still, it says, “they are prepared to countenance violence – including, from time to time, terrorism – where gradualism is ineffective.xxx Aspects of Muslim Brotherhood ideology and tactics, in this country and overseas, are contrary to our values and have been contrary to our national interests and our national security,” the report concludes.

The now open disagreement between London and Washington about the nature of the Brotherhood is just one more evidence of the failure of Washington, despite its frequent claims otherwise, to rally the Western powers to coordinate their policies and defense against Islamic terrorists. It is true, of course, that as in Syria, there are important frictions between these various terrorist groups. But not to identify of the main intellectual source of Islamic radicalism at the time our major ally in the fight against the terrorists is an utter failure of policy. Unfortunately, it appears to be one more issue that will have to await the arrival of new presidency in 2017, a plate that is already overflowing.

sws-12-25-15

 

The scandal of Christian persecution


The lack of public outcry over the continued persecution and murder of Christians in the Middle East is a scandal of enormous proportions. Only a few websites devoted to possible rescuing these victims dogs the internet. But pronouncements from public figures and even the leaders of Western Christendom are few and far between.

The fact is that Christians today face more persecution in more countries than any other religious group.

U.S. Christians sources estimate that 180 Christians are killed in 60 countries monthly for pursuit of their faith. Many of these are in notorious environments such as North Korea. But there are continuing incidents in nominally secular India, for example, where the current administration has its roots in Hindu chauvinism and in its twin, Moslem Pakistan.

But since 2011, of refugees official settlement in the U.S. just over 2,000 have been Muslim but only 53 Christians. It is true that particularly Syrian Christian refugees often more affluent, have made their way to the U.S. through ordinary visa channels and permanent residence. But the Obama Administration opposes legislation which would fast-track Christian refugees. That’s despite the fact that nearly a third of Syria’s Christians, about 600,000, have fled, harried by extremist groups like the Nusra Front [an Al Qaida affiliate] and now Daesh.

The Obama Administration downplaying of Christians in the refugee crisis is based on its fear such support would be viewed and used by Daesh [ISI or ISIL]. Or that it might be considered in the U.S. as part of the argument of “the clash of civilizations”. As in his earliest public Mideast pronouncements, Obama has argued inordinately supposed “Islamohobia” and antagonism toward American Moslems and the world Islamic community. But the reluctance to take on the issue goes back to the Bush Administration when Condoleezza Rice told a refugee aid official the White House did not intervene in ‘‘sectarian’’ issues.

 

It’s also true that Mideast Christians, generally, suffered less under the former autocratic regimes – including Sadam Hussein’s Iraq – than they have under their successors which often have a strong Muslim cast. Syrian Christians, for example, tended to stay loyal to Basher al-Assad rather than join the originally peaceful opponents of his bloody regime. The various Christian sects, some “in communion” with the Roman Catholic Chruch, others related to Eastern Orthodoxy, and others unique to the region and India, do not want to give up their ancient claims to their historic homes.

But having said all this, the toll of Christians in the region has been horrendous. In many instances Daesh has simply beheaded locals where it has taken over traditional Christian villages. These ethnicities date back thousands of years even preceding their conversion as the earliest followers of Christ. They have been given the choice of converting, death flight, or paying jizya, a special tax on “followers of the book”, that is, Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians.

Obama did get around to referring to Christian and other minorities last fall when he said ‘‘we cannot allow these communities to be driven from their ancient homelands.’’ And when Daesh threatened to eradicate the Yazidis, an ancient syncretic sect combining elements of the region’s major religions, the U.S. beat back the terrorists with intensive bombing and Special Forces intervention.

But proposals to permit a large entry of Mideast Christians has been denounced as a violation of the constitution prohibition against religious favoritism. But in fact admission of refugees has often been based on a particular ethnic group targeted by oppressors abroad. And in this instance Christians constitute such a group.

The argument that more forceful rhetoric and more specific Christians worldwide, but particularly in the Mideast, must be made. The charge of “crusaders” – distorted as it is in all aspects – by Daesh and other Islamic terrorists should not be an excuse for not taking up the cudgels for an important and generally neglected human rights cause.

sws-12-15-15

 

From the head, but from the heart?


What was most striking about the President’s speech from the Oval Office – only his third in seven years – was that it “read” but did not “speak”. For despite his fame as an orator, the talk somehow lacked the appeal to a country thirsting for encouragement as well as reassurance. The nuances in the speech – and they were everywhere, whether in a questioning of the Congress’ intent or the attribution of the barbarism of San Bernardino to laws governing weapons – were couched skillfully. But they might well have been lost for many of his listeners who wanted more than anything else, an emotional appeal to match the tragedy which had taken place and the fear that more might be in store.

One had hoped for more. There was a striking and troubling brief photograph of the president during his recent meeting with his national security team at a conference table. After panning over the table, the camera had caught the President slumped in his chair at the head of the table, looking both worried and exhausted. For a staff which spends so much time carefully shepherding the imagine of the chief executive, it was a naked and revealing glimpse. It seemed to indicate that the events at San Bernardino had finally broken through the wall of self assurance and unreality which has insisted for months – more than a year now – that the U.S. had and was pursuing a strategy for victory in meeting the Mideast terrorists. Instead, the country had been presented with a dramatic instance in which the terrorists were willing and capable of launching a bloody attack. That it was an attack on a commonplace event in a relatively “ordinary” city in our country had made it all the more dramatic and threatening.

There was little in the speech, except its presentation from the Oval Office after a significant relative silence that indicated the White House has yet understood the magnitude of the threat to the country from Mideast terrorism. The President trifled with the truth when he insisted there was no evidence thus far of ties to the international conspiracy in the event at San Bernardino. Even before the evidence which the FBI and CIA have accumulated and for good reason may not want to dispense, we already know that the perpetrators of this barbarism had allegiances and some connection beyond their own capabilities. Where would the considerable financing necessary for the vast array of weaponry have come from? Or the instruction in how to use these weapons and make bombs? Certainly not from the commonplaces of their workplace or the relatively modest resources the couple had from their employment.

Nor was the long harangue about the need to reinforce our arms control laws – whatever the argument for them – relevant. There were no illicit weapons purchases connected with the events at San Bernardino. The fact is that in this instance as in most of the earlier episodes of terrorism, the perpetrators have had all the qualifications necessary to acquire the weapons. Whether the individual, reportedly a friend of the couple, who purchased the long rifles used in the affray did so remains to be revealed, but it seems unlikely at the moment. This horror had little if anything to do with the ability of individuals in our society to purchase guns and the President’s emphasis in this speech on that aspect was irrelevant and misplaced.

But, leaving all these arguments aside, the most important aspect of the President’s speech was its coldness, its somehow lack of a heartfelt rendering. Honed and manicured, the language and the presentation were not the answer to the country’s emotional need at the moment. Nor do we yet know, given all the rationalizations about the campaign against Daesh that he included, whether the San Bernardino massacre is as it must be considered a new turn in attacks on the homeland that must be answered by more than the campaign thus far in the Mideast.

sws-12-06-15

Obama’s illogic


The confusion in the President’s thinking and strategy about the current terrorist crisis is frightening in its implications.
As the tragic events in Paris confirm, surprise remains one of the most important aspects of warfare, in this instance by the Islamic terrorists of Daesh [ISIS or ISIL] against the U.S. and the West. Yet Obama persists in announcing publicly that under no circumstances will be commit significant ground forces again to the Middle East for his “destroy and degrade” campaign. It is irresponsible to reveal such an important aspect of strategy to your enemy who examines every public statement and private rumor to assess his actions..
Obama’s penchant for refusing to use “Islamic”, and condemning those who do as “trying to make terrorism a Muslim problem rather than a terrorist problem” is one of his greatest handicaps in his effort “to degrade and ultimately destroy” Daesh. Refusing to identify the enemy makes it all the harder to fight a foe which has an intellectual rationale as well as brute strength. The fighters for Daesh are not recruited from Methodists or Vedantists but from Islam, and to the chagrin of most Moslems, it has its roots in Islamic scripture. To refuse to examine thbis aspect increases the difficulties in dealing with the terrorists. It also obscures the urgent necessity for Moslems to seek their own solutions to the threat in their midst. Once and for all, Moslems must come forward in the largest numbers with a determined leadership to end the long history of their religion being used for aggression.
Nor is it beneficial to the cause of victory to continue to insist that it will be a long struggle. That may be the case, but in repeatedly alluding to difficulty of making progress in destroying Daesh, he encourages the enemy and discourages a war-weary American public. His own claims of progress are ludicrous given the Paris events. Perhaps Daesh has had to relinquish territory, as Obama claims, but he ignores the growing, nominal zat least, allegiance of other terrorists in Central Africa, Indonesia and Libya to the Daesh “caliphate”. If nothing else, this acts as a recruiting tool for Daesh’s forces in Syria and Iraq and will inevitably lead to more international coordination.
Perhaps most distressing of all in Obama’s remarks to the media in Turkey was his arrogance — or perhaps his defensiveness — in refusing to acknowledge his earlier public statement denying Daesh importance. No one expects a formal mea culpa, but to get on with what he describes as a “comprehensive campaign”, it is important to recognize and build on earlier mistakes. Obama compounds this with a snide campaign against his critics, and, worse, a refusal to consider their arguments. In a single sentence, he accepts that there must be “a serious debate”, but then refers to anyone who is critical as those who “pop off.”
In this regard, he relegates any discussion of the security issues of taking in an increasing number of refugees as ill-conceived and racist. Obama claimed that there must be a commitment, quite rightly, to America’s tradition of concern and hospitality, with “rigorous screening security checks”. But the director of the FBI and others have recently explained that given the difficulties of securing Syrian data any such intensive examination is near impossible. There is, after all, mounting evidence some of the participants in the Paris massacre came into Europe as a “refugees”. In fact, the Obama Administration has done little if anything to increase the size and scope of the bureaucracy which carries out surveillance.
None of this bodes well in the coming months for what looks to be a growing struggle with Moslem terrorism.
sws-11-17-15

The incremental road to hell


 

If there were one lesson from America’s tragic Vietnam encounter – and as some dead white man has said, all historical analogies are odious — it is that incremental approaches to war inevitably result in disaster.

News reports suggest that Pres. Barak Obama is reversing his strategy of limited engagement in the war on Daesh [ISIS or ISIL]. [It is significant that we can’t get the label straight for this enemy!] After the death of a celebrated hero attached as advisory personnel to Iraqi forces, we learn the lesson that the very presence of American forces of whatever size in an area exposed to conflict will inevitably attract U.S. power.

We have long argued that a vacuum, by its very nature, encourages other forces to fill it if the primary strength is removed. That is precisely what is happening all over the world in contested areas where for more than half a century, the U.S. has been the dominant force.

According to informeds, Obama is coming around to deciding that we must increase our effort against Daesh. That seems logical given three grim facts:

  • Daesh represents a new kind of barbarity unleashed on the world and if it is to grow, it will be not only be an increasing menace to the troubled Middle East but to the whole world.
  • Daesh’s claim that it is the legendary Isalmic caliphate, that is the unitary expression of the political intent of traditional Islam to dominate the world politically as well as religiously, is gaining at least nominal adherence in other parts of the world.
  • Russian’s relatively massive intervention in Syria, while announced as an effort to collaborate with the S. and its allies against Daesh, is instead an effort to sustain the almost equally barbarous regime in Damascus by attacking its enemies in a tactic alliance with Iran.

We learn that in July when the President made one of his rare visits to The Pentagon or to consult his military advisers, he asked for additional options in the current bombing campaign against Daesh. [Again, it is significant that Russian bombing has exceeded in volume the American campaign against Daesh.]

Earlier this month, the President had to publicly announce that his goal of removing all troops from Afghanistan before the end of his Administrations could not be met. With no public statement to confirm the fact, it becomes increasingly clear that more than a year of desultory bombing has not only not destroyed Daesh, but it has strengthened its hold on its area and is expanding. Local observers point out that the bombing runs – often returning to base without jettisoning their weapons – does not have the kind of intelligence which boots on the ground would provide.

Again, reports from the White House and The Pentagon have suggested that Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter has already provided the President with his options, and, indeed, backed by the military, Carter is said to be pushing for a more aggressive stance in the whole campaign.

But what must be feared most is that the President, whose underlying strategy in all his foreign policy decision for the past seven years has been to reduce the American commitment to the use of force abroad, will choose only to take an incremental approach to any increases in ground and air forces in the region. While the logic of such an approach has always been apparent – you apply the force as needed as it is needed – it ignores as it did throughout the Vietnam conflict, that such an approach permits a dedicated if less powerful enemy to grow his own forces to meet the incremental demand on his abilities.

In war, perhaps the most inefficient of all human activities, unpredictability is the norm. A measured but untested approach often leads to disaster. The incremental route is the road to another irresolute ending.

sws-10-28-15

Martyrs unremarked


One of the many mysteries of the current political and media scene is the neglect which accompanies a growing worldwide Christian martyrdom, but particularly in the Middle East.
Ancient Christian enclaves, some of them going back to its earliest origins in its birthplace which have survived centuries of vicissitudes, are being exiled – or worse destroyed. It is hard to reckon whether the personal suffering or the damage to world culture is the more devastating.
Although some prominent voices have been raised in protest, the rapid fire events in the region and a plethora of crises around the world have not spotlighted what may be the worst persecution of Christians in centuries. The Obama Administration, while making conventional obeisance to the issue, has not made publicity nor opposition to Christian martyrdom, an important policy issue. The President’s statements on the issue, some observers believe, are muffled by fear of counterattacks from Moslem moderates as well as Islamic terrorists alluding to “Crusaders” and the traditional struggle between Islam and Christianity..
Pope Francis last year told a delegation of Jews headed by World Jewish Council President Ronald Lauder “that he believes we are in World War III but unlike the first two world wars, instead of happening all at once, this war is coming in stages.” Lauder said the Pope meant that “first Jews suffered savage attacks that were met with the world’s silence and now it is Christians who are being annihilated and the world is silent.” Lauder said Christians in Iraq and Syria are even being identified with a symbol bearing the Hebrew letter for N, for Nazarene, much “as the yellow star was used in the past against European Jewry.”
David Saperstein, the State Department’s ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom indicated in Congressional testimony that the Obama Administration has no strategy for countering the pogroms. Saperstein’s position, primarily as a representative to the Congress, was left open for nine months and downgraded on his appointment, which is interpreted by religious leaders as the low priority given the issue at the White House.
The just released annual State Dept. report on religious freedom around the world has reported that only a half million of Iraq’s church leaders remain from a population that once numbered as many as 1.4 million. Some 300,000 Yazidis and thousands of Kākā’is, herterodox religious and tribal minorities with some Christian aspects, are among nearly a million Iraqis who are internal refugees.
The worst atrocities appear to be committed by Daesh [ISIS or ISIL], the self-appointed new Moslem caliphate. In one instance Daesh separated and then executed at least 100 Yazidi men within the span of a few hours and took the remaining women and children into sexual slavery. Daesh has systematically destroyed churches, Shiite shrines and other religious sites in Iraq and Syria. The Islamic State’s main jihadist rival in the bloody Syrian civil war, al Qaida’s Nusra Front killed a Dutch priest in Homs in April and a dozen Druze, including priests, in August.
Although the most dramatic persecutions are taking place in the Mideast, there have been new outbreaks of old anti-Christian campaigns in other areas, as for example in Indonesia – generally touted for its “moderate” Islam – where jihadists have force local officials to close churches.
Prominent Christian leaders say the United States and the other superpowers aren’t doing enough to stop what Pope Francis has called the “genocide” of Christians in the Middle East. Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham and head of an international relief group, also used that word in a Facebook post last week
Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Younan has ascribed the blame for the deterioration of religious tolerance – always scarce in that part of the world – as “a very direct result of the politics taken by Westerners. These nations must accept refugees.” Surely, refuges are not the best way to solve the crisis. But it is significant that the U.S. in its wide swinging refugee program has only admitted 25 Syrian Christians in a thousand or so Syrian refugees he has admitted so far.
Sws-10-11-15

Turkey: another “Syria”?


Turkey is rapidly catching the Syrian disease – that is, a Mideastern country not only torn apart by internal factions but a playground for contending international forces.
But as an important member of the NATO alliance, Turkey plays a much more critical role in relations between the European Union, the U.S. and Vladimir Putin’s increasingly aggressive Russia.
The analogies with Syria grow stronger even as the outcome is still as murky as the outcome appears there.
In Turkey, too, the “original sin” appears that from his once overwhelmingly popularity, Pres. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan developed egomania.
As the very successful mayor of Istanbul, Erdogan once allegedly said “Democracy is like a streetcar. When you come to your stop, you get off.” His stop seems to be creating an authoritarian state. But his streetcar’s trolley has jumped the wire with the loss of his parliamentary majority in June 2015 elections. And polls indicate he won’t get new majority in elections he has now called for November. With increasing domestic violence, it has become problematical whether they can even be held.
Like Syria’s Basher al Assad, Erdogan has refused to meet his considerable opposition with compromises. The economic boom is staggering. He has virtually abandoned an attempt to join the European Union after his potential Western partners dragged their heels earlier with doubts about whether Turkey met the requirements of free governments.
Meanwhile, Erdogan’s foreign policy which was to have only friends in all directions has turned into the exact reverse: he has growing disputes with all his neighbors and the major powers, including the U.S. That’s despite the fact that Pres. Barack Obama once called Erdogan one of a handful of leaders with whom he was on intimate terms.
Proof of the U.S. rift came with the announcement Washington [along with Germany] is withdrawing its Patriot missiles which Erdogan requested when his once highly advertised relations with Syria’s al Assad fell apart. The Pentagon’s official explanation is they need modification. But given Obama’s policies, there is a suggestion it is because Obama didn’t want to be dragged into Turkey’s increasing difficulties on its Syrian border, despite NATO assurances of support.
Washington’s relations with Ankara are also trapped in the Kurdish problem. Erdogan abandoned his efforts to bring the decades-old bloody Kurdish PKK insurgency to an end, in part because of the success of a Kurdish-led party. [The Kurds are at least 20%, maybe a third of Turkey’s 75 million]. But the Kurds inside Syria, whom Erdogan says are linked to his own internal enemies, are Washington’s only effective internal force against Daesh [the purported ISIS or ISIL caliphate]..
When Russian aircraft penetrated Turkey’s space in support of Assad [whose own airforce earlier had wandered in too], Erdogan threatened to cancel a growing economic exchange with Moscow including a giant nuclear power plant and cooperation to transmit Russian gas to Europe through a new pipeline across the Black Sea [which would eliminate Ukraine].
Erdogan abandoned his very profitable military alliance with Israel in a flurry of insults to Israel leaders and sponsorship of Hamas in Gaza whom the rest of the world calls terrorists. His strong ties to the Muslim Brotherhood put him at odds with Egypt whose President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi is trying to root out after overthrowing a Brotherhood regime.
Heavily dependent on Iran for gas, Erdogan has tiptoed around his growing differences with Tehran. But while he has lined up against the mullahs’ ally in Damascus, there are accusations – that certainly have alarmed Washington and the EU – of less than maximum efforts to cut off aid and recruits flow to Daesh,.
The question now is whether Erdogan will make a radical turn toward reconciliation. If not, there’s growing concern among Turkey’s friends that the country is moving toward growing chaos. A murderous bomb explosion this past week in the capital Ankara could signal that new level internal violence.
sws-10-10-15

Palestinian Radicalization


The growing disintegration of Palestinian secular forces promises a new Mideast threat as difficult as Daesh [ISIL]
Luckily for the U.S., Israel and the Western allies generally, so far the growing Islamicist Palestinians have not merged with Daesh, even confronting it in several areas. This is, of course, part of the internal chaotic Muslim wrangle which so far has benefited their secular opponents.
But the daily individual terrorist attacks by individual Palestinians against Israelis, both inside the Green Line and in the West Bank [traditional Judea and Samaria where Jewish claims on the ancient Hebrew states reside] are evidence of a fracturing leadership. The attacks, almost unremarked in the Western media, range from stabbings of Israeli military and civilians, to automobiles used to mow down passengers waiting at bus stops. They have been answered in kind, to a much lesser degree, by Israeli rightwing terrorists’ attacks on Arab paramilitary and civilians.
The 80-year-old Mahmoud Abbas, who extended his Palestinian presidency officially ending in 2009, now suddenly, has dissolved its executive committee without naming a successor. His call for a new executive from the Palestine parliament – which has not met in 20 years – may not be enough to stop the erosion among secularist forces under siege from the growing Islamicist Palestinian Hamas leadership in Gaza. Most observers believe free elections among West Bank Palestinians could bring them to power there, as it did in Gaza where they now use every means to hang on against internal opposition from both secularists and even more radical Islamicists.
Hamas is the offspring of the Sunni Moslem Brotherhood, much appreciated by then Sec. of State Hillary Clinton – her chief assistant Huma Abedin has family ties to the Brotherhood – and the Obama Administration But it has jumped the Sunni-Shia divide and is now empowered by money and arms from Tehran’s mullahs. Hamas’ “military wing” is rearming with Iran’s help, apparently for another go with the Israelis, the third only last year. Meanwhile, Egyptian Pres. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has joined Israel; in trying to shut off dual-use imports to the Gaza strip because Hamas actively supports a growing insurgency in Sinai against the Cairo government.
The usual Western suspects – those Paul Hollander called “political pilgrims”, “activists” and intellectuals who fall in and out of love with insurrectionary regimes, first the Guatemala Communists, then the Castros, then the Nicaraguan Sandinistas, etc. – have transferred their affection to the “Palestinians”. They ignore the lack of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s accountability and its successor Fatah, and the massive corruption financed by the U.S., the EU and the UN. That’s gone into Swiss bank accounts and such projects as Abbas’ new palace in Rammalah.
The Palestinians, taking their cues from their Israeli opponents, have become a group of powerful if vulnerable professionals throughout the region. Unlike Israel which absorbed some 800,000 Jews either expelled or in flight from Arab and Moslem countries, the Arab regimes refused the 650,000 Palestinians absorption, now to a second and third generation. The Palestinian “cause” until recently when the new threat from an increasingly powerful and aggressive Tehran regime became the overwhelming menace, was used against the Israelis. But now — despite the Obama Administration’s effort to appease Tehran with an increasingly controversial nuclear weapons deal – the Persian Gulf Arab states and the Egyptians have become tacit allies with the Israelis against the growing Iranian menace, particularly manifested in its support of the embattled Basher al Assad regime in Syria.
This virtual abandonment of the Palestinians by the other Arabs is certain to increase their radicalization. It will make them more susceptible to Islamist terrorist seduction and a growing menace not only to Israel and its controversial occupation of the West Bank, but to U.S. interests. Hopefully, Pres. Barack Obama will not see them too as another “varsity” team which led the U.S. to ignore Daesh in its early days.
sws-09-01-15
.

Turkey’s growing instability


Once NATO’s formidable eastern anchor, Turkey is increasingly becoming a major problem for Washington policymakers and a contributor to the Mideast chaos.
The change is all the remarkable since at the outset of the Obama Administration, the President saw then Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as one of his closest international friends. And, indeed, in 2009 Obama went to Turkey to make the first of two Mideast seminal speeches offering apologies to the Muslim world for what he saw as past U.S. mistakes with an invitation for cooperation.
But in late August Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter publicly was calling on now President Erdogan “…to control the border, the long border that they have with both Syria and Iraq …. It’s overdue, because it’s a year into the campaign [against Daesh, or ISIL], but they’re indicating some considerable effort now, including some — allowing us to use their airfields. That’s important, but it’s not enough.”
If truth be told, it took nine months of torturous negotiations to get Erdogan’s permission to the use NATO bases in Turkey for the relatively feeble American bombing campaign against Daesh, now considered a threat to stability in the region and rapidly becoming a coordinating body for worldwide Islamic terrorism.
Traffic through that border has included volunteers for the Daesh [ISIL] forces and a flood of Muslim refugees crossing into Greece and the EU. There are even suggestions that elements in Turkish intelligence aided Muslim groups fighting the shaky government of Syria’s Basher al Assad, sabotaging the faltering Obama’s so far unsuccessful effort to create an anti-Assad Syrian force to counter the growing strength of Daesh and other Muslim groups.
Since Obama’s visit, however, Erdogan has taken Turkey down a divisivepath breaking off Ankara’s longstsanding military alliance with the Israelis. Erdogan has permitted Hamas, the Palestinian group controlling Gaza which Washington calls terrorists, to operate out of Turkey, and Erdogan has made an outrageous anti-Semitic remarks picked up by sympathetic media.
Erdogan – who once said democracy is a train that you get off once you reach your destination – has pushed a creeping Islamization eroding the mandatory secularist heritage of modern Turkey’s founder, Kemal Attaturk. He moved to the presidency, hoping to create an authoritarian presidential system. But in June elections, his Justice and Development Party [AKP] failed to get the necessary majority to change the constitution, and he has now called new snap elections for November – after refusing to negotiate in good faith for a coalition.
Whipping up war hysteria, by abandoning the effort to reach an agreement with Turkey’s huge Kurdish minority – a radical part of which fought a bloody three decades war with the government – he apparently thought to get a new mandate. But the polls indicate he may again fall short. A sagging economy whose liberalization had bolstered Erdogan’s rule won’t help.
His whirling dervish foreign policy – which once saw itself as Neo-Ottoman, restoring the old Turkish empire in the region – is in tatters. And he has become a major deterrent for American goals in the area; not least, since the most effective fighters against Daesh have been the Kurdish minority inside Syria and the Peshmergah, hardened veterans of Iraq’s regional Kurdish government.
Erdogan – and the other countries which split the Kurdish peoples in the region – fear Kurdish military successes could eventually produce an united independent Kurdistan. The Iraqi Kurdish regional government, pumping oil out through Turkey [including to Israel], is already a relatively prosperous and semi-independent. And so long as Obama does not commit more American ground forces against Daesh, is probably the only hope of Washington to contain if not “degrading and eventually destroying” Daesh [ISIL], what he once dubbed “the varsity” team in the area.
Meanwhile, despite optimistic statements out of the Obama Administration, the military situation in the area is deteriorating, almost as rapidly as Turkey’s home front, with Obama’s critics predicting his Iranian negoaitions will produce a nuclear armed Persia, Turkey’s traditional enemy.
sws-08-27-15