Saturday, August 30, 2014

OBAMA DOES HAVE A STRATEGY

Michael Ledeen argues that Obama does have a plan--he is trying to establish an alliance with Iran and is using Valerie Jarrett (of Iranian descent) as a major intermediary to the ayatollahs.

The actual strategy is detente first, and then a full alliance with Iran throughout the Middle East and North Africa. It has been on display since before the beginning of the Obama administration. During his first presidential campaign in 2008, Mr. Obama used a secret back channel to Tehran to assure the mullahs that he was a friend of the Islamic Republic, and that they would be very happy with his policies. The secret channel was Ambassador William G. Miller, who served in Iran during the shah’s rule, as chief of staff for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and as ambassador to Ukraine. Ambassador Miller has confirmed to me his conversations with Iranian leaders during the 2008 campaign.

Ever since, President Obama’s quest for an alliance with Iran has been conducted through at least four channels: Iraq, Switzerland (the official U.S. representative to Tehran), Oman and a variety of American intermediaries, the most notable of whom is probably Valerie Jarrett, his closest adviser. In recent months, Middle Eastern leaders reported personal visits from Ms. Jarrett, who briefed them on her efforts to manage the Iranian relationship. This was confirmed to me by a former high-ranking American official who says he was so informed by several Middle Eastern leaders.

THE PENTAGON AS SCAPEGOAT

A pretty strong indictment of President Obama by Charles Krauthammer regarding Obama's leadership and decision-making process.


PUTIN'S LATEST MOVES INTO UKRAINE

Andrew Stuttaford at the National Review writes about the "Guns of August" which is a term used regarding the start of battles in World War I.  He quotes from an article by Anne Applebaum in Slate which discusses the new maps circulating in Russia showing the borders of Catherine the Great.

…In the past few days, Russian troops bearing the flag of a previously unknown country, Novorossiya, have marched across the border of southeastern Ukraine. The Russian Academy of Sciences recently announced it will publish a history of Novorossiya this autumn, presumably tracing its origins back to Catherine the Great. Various maps of Novorossiya are said to be circulating in Moscow. Some include Kharkov and Dnipropetrovsk, cities that are still hundreds of miles away from the fighting. Some place Novorossiya along the coast, so that it connects Russia to Crimea and eventually to Transnistria, the Russian-occupied province of Moldova. Even if it starts out as an unrecognized rump state—Abkhazia and South Ossetia, “states” that Russia carved out of Georgia, are the models here—Novorossiya can grow larger over time….

Applebaum is predicting that Putin will test NATO in the foreseeable future.  Stuttaford discusses other the comments of several other writers critical of Obama and the West's response and indicating a growing fear in Eastern Europe about Russian aggression against them.

Friday, August 29, 2014

IMPORTANCE OF HISTORY

From the Atlantic Monthly.  The author's view of the importance of history is confined by his philosophical and political biases.  And his understanding of World War I is rather limited.  I read this and wondered why would anyone want to study history after reading this.

STOPPING ISIS

Henry Kissinger has an essay on the need for a new geopolitical response to the events in the Middle East and the Ukraine.

To play a responsible role in the evolution of a 21st-century world order, the U.S. must be prepared to answer a number of questions for itself: What do we seek to prevent, no matter how it happens, and if necessary alone? What do we seek to achieve, even if not supported by any multilateral effort? What do we seek to achieve, or prevent, only if supported by an alliance? What should we not engage in, even if urged on by a multilateral group or an alliance? What is the nature of the values that we seek to advance? And how much does the application of these values depend on circumstance?

For the U.S., this will require thinking on two seemingly contradictory levels. The celebration of universal principles needs to be paired with recognition of the reality of other regions' histories, cultures and views of their security. Even as the lessons of challenging decades are examined, the affirmation of America's exceptional nature must be sustained. History offers no respite to countries that set aside their sense of identity in favor of a seemingly less arduous course. But nor does it assure success for the most elevated convictions in the absence of a comprehensive geopolitical strategy.


While Obama is looking for a strategy, Angelo Codevilla, writes about his proposals to end the ISIS threat at The Federalist.  The physical destruction of ISIS is one thing but it is the spirit of ISIS that must be destroyed.  He also advocates pressuring Qatar and Turkey who are giving ISIS support.

Killing the IS requires neither more nor less than waging war—not as the former administration waged its “war on terror,” nor by the current administration’s pinpricks, nor according to the too-clever-by-half stratagems taught in today’s politically correct military war colleges, but rather by war in the dictionary meaning of the word. To make war is to kill the spirit as well as the body of the enemy, so terribly as to make sure that it will not rise again, and that nobody will want to imitate it.
A captured Dell computer reveals Isis plans, including the use of biological warfare.

The laptop also includes a 26-page fatwa, or Islamic ruling, on the usage of weapons of mass destruction. "If Muslims cannot defeat the kafir[unbelievers] in a different way, it is permissible to use weapons of mass destruction," states the fatwa by Saudi jihadi cleric Nasir al-Fahd, who is currently imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. "Even if it kills all of them and wipes them and their descendants off the face of the Earth."

ISIS has another recruit, the Fort Hood shooter.  I thought the government and the media said this guy wasn't a terrorist lurking in the military?  

And the government and media do not seem concerned about terrorists crossing the Mexican border. On ABC Nightly News this Friday there was no mention of this possibility.

Islamic terrorist groups are operating in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez and planning to attack the United States with car bombs or other vehicle born improvised explosive devices (VBIED). High-level federal law enforcement, intelligence and other sources have confirmed to Judicial Watch that a warning bulletin for an imminent terrorist attack on the border has been issued. Agents across a number of Homeland Security, Justice and Defense agencies have all been placed on alert and instructed to aggressively work all possible leads and sources concerning this imminent terrorist threat.

Chechens trained ISIS fighters.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

RUSSIAN FORCES MOVING INTO UKRAINE

Headline in WAPO column written by Jennifer Rubin:  "Russia Invades, Obama Expresses 'Concern'". "Concern" is a rather low-key response to a major step in Russian involvement in the Ukraine.  It is a rather tepid word and I am sure Putin is not particularly alarmed.  Putin is going to keep pushing since there is no resistance from Washington or Europe.

“These incursions indicate a Russian-directed counteroffensive is likely underway in Donetsk and Luhansk. Clearly, that is of deep concern to us,” a State Department spokeswoman said yesterday. She could not have been more inoffensive. Oh, the administration is also “concerned by the Russian Government’s unwillingness to tell the truth even as its soldiers are found 30 miles inside Ukraine. Russia is sending its young men into Ukraine but are telling – are not telling them where they’re going or telling their parents what they’re doing.” The spokeswoman further indicated that we wouldn’t change our policy of refusing to provide Ukraine with defensive weapons.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

NEWS COVERAGE OF ISRAEL

Matt Friedman, a former AP reporter, writes about how the American media covers Israel, Gaza, and the Middle East.  Instead of reporting news, the major news outlets have established the scenario they wish to report and assume that exist.  They are so focused on Jews and Israel that they neglect or intentionally fail to cover what is happening in the Arab world from Gaza to Iraq and Syria.

The world is not responding to events in this country, but rather to the description of these events by news organizations. 

Israel is over-covered: Staffing is the best measure of the importance of a story to a particular news organization. When I was a correspondent at the AP, the agency had more than 40 staffers covering Israel and the Palestinian territories. That was significantly more news staff than the AP had in China, Russia, or India, or in all of the 50 countries of sub-Saharan Africa combined. It was higher than the total number of news-gathering employees in all the countries where the uprisings of the “Arab Spring” eventually erupted.

Some examples of inadequate news coverage:

If you follow mainstream coverage, you will find nearly no real analysis of Palestinian society or ideologies, profiles of armed Palestinian groups, or investigation of Palestinian government. Palestinians are not taken seriously as agents of their own fate. The West has decided that Palestinians should want a state alongside Israel, so that opinion is attributed to them as fact, though anyone who has spent time with actual Palestinians understands that things are (understandably, in my opinion) more complicated. Who they are and what they want is not important: The story mandates that they exist as passive victims of the party that matters.

There has been much discussion recently of Hamas attempts to intimidate reporters. Any veteran of the press corps here knows the intimidation is real, and I saw it in action myself as an editor on the AP news desk. During the 2008-2009 Gaza fighting I personally erased a key detail—that Hamas fighters were dressed as civilians and being counted as civilians in the death toll—because of a threat to our reporter in Gaza. (The policy was then, and remains, not to inform readers that the story is censored unless the censorship is Israeli. Earlier this month, the AP’s Jerusalem news editor reported and submitted a story on Hamas intimidation; the story was shunted into deep freeze by his superiors and has not been published.)

In early 2009, for example, two colleagues of mine obtained information that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had made a significant peace offer to the Palestinian Authority several months earlier, and that the Palestinians had deemed it insufficient. This had not been reported yet and it was—or should have been—one of the biggest stories of the year. The reporters obtained confirmation from both sides and one even saw a map, but the top editors at the bureau decided that they would not publish the story.


All of this means is that Americans are not reading or seeing the real story, not just about Israel, but about the hopes and dreams of Palestinians who often live in fear of Hamas and other radicals.

Monday, August 25, 2014

ECONOMIC STATUS OF GREAT BRITAIN

Shocker.  Britain is poorer than every state except Mississippi.  Britain has had the welfare state since the end of World War II but it clearly has not improved the welfare of the average Brit.  I am not sure Washington is listening.  But not even the Brits realize how bad they off they are. . .but ironically they do criticize the economic inequality in America.

I came across a striking fact while researching this piece: if Britain were to somehow leave the EU and join the US how would we rank? The answer is that we’d be the 2nd-poorest state in the union, poorer than Missouri. Poorer than the much-maligned Kansas and Alabama. Poorer than any state other than Mississippi, and if you take out the south east we’d be poorer than that too.

MEDIA COVERAGE OF OBAMA & DEMOCRATS

Recently there has been more criticism in the media of Obama but it clearly doesn't rise to the level of how Bush had been treated.

Powerline has a summary of recent press criticisms of Obama.  The left-liberal establishment is in crisis at the moment. They can’t make up their mind between desperately trying to prop up Obama, and giving up on him and increasing their distance.

Kyle Smith at the New York Post discusses why comedians and Saturday Night Live have trouble making fun of Obama like they do other politicians, especially when he has said some things that could be used in a skit.  Downey comments in “Live from New York,” “I have to say, and even [Al] Franken agrees with me — I’ve talked to him about this — that the last couple seasons of the show were the only two in the show’s history where we were totally like every other comedy show: basically, an arm of the Hollywood Democratic establishment. . . . We just stopped doing anything which could even be misinterpreted as a criticism of Obama.”

Leftist Cornel West always speaks his mind and has changed his view of Obama.  I wonder if I will hear this on the nightly news.  And we ended up with a brown-faced Clinton. Another opportunist. Another neoliberal opportunist.

Meet the Press goes after Senator Rand Paul (R, KY) implying that he was trying to gain publicity for his charitable medical work in Guatemala while not criticizing Obama for golfing or expensive vacations.

HARRY REID'S GAFFES

A summary of nine of the times Senator Harry Reid (D, NV) has "mispoken."  The media doesn't seem to make a big issue of Democrat gaffs.  If a Republican said some of these things, it would be front-page news and probably the media would drive them from office.

DEMOCRATS USE COURTS TO STOP REPUBLICANS

With the court indictment against Governor Perry (R, TX), Bryan Preston examines 8 cases where the Democrats tried to use the courts to hurt Republican chances in an election.  Most were frivolous, but obviously the Republican faced an image problem as a result and in some cases lost an election.

CHANGES IN COLLEGE BOARD AMERICAN HISTORY AP TEST

From National Review:  "How the College Board Politicized U.S. History."

The College Board, the private company that produces the SAT test and the various Advanced Placement (AP) exams, has kicked off a national controversy by issuing a new and unprecedentedly detailed “Framework” for its AP U.S. History exam. This Framework will effectively force American high schools to teach U.S. history from a leftist perspective. The College Board disclaims political intent, insisting that the new Framework provides a “balanced” guide that merely helps to streamline the AP U.S. History course while enhancing teacher flexibility. Not only the Framework itself, but the history of its development suggests that a balanced presentation of the American story was not the College Board’s goal.

The origins of the new AP U.S. History framework are closely tied to a movement of left-leaning historians that aims to “internationalize” the teaching of American history. The goal is to “end American history as we have known it” by substituting a more “transnational” narrative for the traditional account.

This movement’s goals are clearly political, and include the promotion of an American foreign policy that eschews the unilateral use of force. The movement to “internationalize” the U.S. History curriculum also seeks to produce a generation of Americans more amendable to working through the United Nations and various left-leaning “non-governmental organizations” (NGOs) on issues like the environment and nuclear proliferation. A willingness to use foreign law to interpret the U.S. Constitution is likewise encouraged.

The College Board formed a close alliance with this movement to internationalize the teaching of American history just prior to initiating its redesign of the AP U.S. History exam. Key figures in that alliance are now in charge of the AP U.S. History redesign process, including the committee charged with writing the new AP U.S. History exam. The new AP U.S. History Framework clearly shows the imprint of the movement to de-nationalize American history. Before I trace the rise of this movement and its ties to the College Board, let’s have a closer look at its goals.

The article goes on to discuss the political views of the writers of the curriculum who are clearly leftists.  

Friday, August 22, 2014

THE DEMOCRAT 1% PREPARES FOR THE 2016 ELECTION

Fat cat Democrats are giving mega millions to PACS to try to keep Democrats in control of the Senate.  All you read about in the media is how much fat cat Republicans are giving to PACS, but Democrats have more than their share of big money donors.

SUPPORT FOR OBAMA ON BOMBING ISIS

Interesting.  Republicans are more likely to support Obama for his actions in bombing ISIS in Iraq than Democrats.

The Aug. 13-17 survey, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, found that 61 percent of self-identified Republican respondents support the airstrikes, while only 54 percent of Democrats say the same.

This obviously puts the president in a difficult position: Does he continue the airstrikes on ISIS, as many Americans prefer he would? Or does Obama appease his base by discontinuing the attacks?

If he the president caves to his base, then he loses support from a broad range of voters, some of whom want him to take stronger action. But if he stays the course and continues going after ISIS with limited strikes, he then runs the risk of alienating members of his party.


In January 2014 Obama dismissed ISIS as the "junior varsity" when compared to al Qaeda.  I wonder if he still believes this?

In the 2012 campaign, Obama spoke not only of killing Osama bin Laden; he also said that Al Qaeda had been “decimated.” I pointed out that the flag of Al Qaeda is now flying in Falluja, in Iraq, and among various rebel factions in Syria; Al Qaeda has asserted a presence in parts of Africa, too.

“The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” Obama said, resorting to an uncharacteristically flip analogy. “I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian
.

Also see The Blaze. Or the comment at National Review.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

HAS WASHINGTON LEARNED ANYTHING FROM THE LIBYA INTERVENTION

From the Hoover Institution.  "Chaos in Libya."  The Obama administration's NATO involvement in Libya has created a worse situation today.  I think some of the lessons learned could also be applied to Bush sending troops into Iraq or Obama upping US involvement in Afghanistan.

A lesson—immediately relevant as the United States now conducts air strikes in Iraq to protect vulnerable populations from slaughter by barbaric militants—is that successful humanitarian intervention requires a viable reconstruction plan. That may seem like an obvious statement, applicable to many types of military adventure, but it is easy to dismiss when faced with a short-term opportunity to stop the most flagrant atrocities.