In a documentary that aired recently on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s popular The Fifth Estate program, an allegory of Vladimir Putin was presented. The wily Russian president was described growing up in a shabby St. Petersburg apartment, where he would often corner rats.
Now, punished by low oil prices and Western sanctions against Russian incursions in Ukraine/ Crimea, Putin is himself the cornered rat. Many wonder, and fear, what he will do if conditions in Russia become increasingly desperate.
In the last six months oil prices have plunged over 50 percent and the Russian economy is hurting. The country now faces slowing economic growth, a depressed ruble, and runaway inflation estimated to be up to 150 percent on basic foodstuffs.
The Kremlin is counting on austerity cuts to help balance its budget, which has revenues coming in at $45 billion lower than earlier projections. The exception, significantly, is defense. With the military exempted from the austerity plan, it begs the question of whether Putin will “play the nationalist card,” such as he did in Crimea, in an effort to strengthen greater Russia during a period of economic weakness.
Georgia On His Mind
We are already seeing this to be the case. As Oilprice.com reported on Tuesday, Putin is set to absorb South Ossetia – Georgia’s breakaway republic that declared itself independent in 1990. Under an agreement “intended to legalize South Ossetia’s integration with Russia,” Russia would invest 2.8 million rubles (US$50 million) to “fund the socio-economic development of South Ossetia,” according to Agenda.GE, a Tbilisi-based news site.
The situation is analogous to Crimea because, like Crimea, South Ossetia contains a significant Russian-speaking population with ties to the Motherland.
If Putin succeeds in annexing the tiny province, it will be a real poke in the eye to the United States, which provoked Russia in the early 1990s by promoting construction of a pipeline between the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Georgia. The BTC pipeline moves oil from Baku in Azerbaijan to Tbilisi in Georgia and then onward to Ceyhan on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast.
BTC started operating in 2006. Then, two years later, Putin built his own pipeline to cut out Georgia. The South Ossetia pipeline run by Gazprom stretches 75 kilometers from South Ossetia to Russia.
The current move on South Ossetia is a way for Russia to assert its energy independence in the face of Western sanctions and low oil prices.
It comes as Russia announced plans to divert all of its natural gas crossing Ukraine to a route via Turkey. As Bloomberg reported last week, Gazprom will send 63 billion cubic meters through a proposed link under the Black Sea to Turkey – after the earlier South Stream pipeline, a $45-billion project that would have crossed Bulgaria, was scrapped by Russia amid opposition from the European Union. By sending the gas to Turkey and on to Europe via Greece, Gazprom is in effect sending Europe an ultimatum: build pipelines to European markets, or we will sell the gas to other customers.
According to one observer, the proposed land grab in South Ossetia combined with the snub to Europe by shifting its gas to Turkey and bypassing Ukraine, is a classic Putin power play:
“Russia is preparing to absorb a province of neighboring Georgia, and delivering an ultimatum to Europe that it could lose much of the Russian gas on which it relies,” Steve LeVine writes in Quartz. “Putin has argued that the west is simply intent on ousting him and weakening Russia… Faced with these perceived attempts to undercut him and his country, Putin suggests that he has no choice but to pull around the wagons and stick it out. This could go on a long time.”
Iran: Falling Oil Prices Spur Peace Dividend
Some have speculated that the oil price crash was orchestrated by the Saudis, possibly in collusion with the United States and other Gulf states, to punish Iran, its main political and religious rival in the Middle East.
Whether or not that is true, there is no denying the effects of a low oil price on Iran’s economy. “Iran is already missing tens of billions of dollars in oil revenue due to Western sanctions and years of economic mismanagement under former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,” Bloomberg reported on Jan. 7. Like Russia, Iran is looking at spending cuts in next year’s budget, which is based on an overly-optimistic $72 a barrel crude oil price.
However, unlike Russia, which is “circling the wagons” and pulling further away from the West currently, the oil price drop could actually lead to more of a détente between Iran and Western countries. In a speech on Jan. 4, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran’s economy “cannot develop in isolation from the rest of the world,” while at the same time, Iran’s foreign minister was negotiating a nuclear deal that could see the lifting of UN sanctions, the Washington Post observed.
Then there is the cooperation between the West and Iran over the terrorist group ISIS. The National Post’s J.L. Granatsein wrote in a column on Tuesday that Iran has deployed substantial numbers of its Revolutionary Guard elite Al Qods brigade into Iraq and Syria to fight ISIS, along with Western allies including the US, Britain, France and Canada. This is despite Iran’s support for Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria’s president Assad.
“Politics makes strange bedfellows indeed, but not much can be stranger than this. Led by the Americans, hitherto the Great Satan to the Iranian leaders, the ties between the West and Iran are becoming tighter, each side reacting to the horrors of Islamist fundamentalism throughout the region,” Granatsein writes. “The Iranians have been hurt by sanctions, and they are being wracked even more by the falling price of oil. Easing curbs on trade and Iranian banks may mitigate the effects of the oil price collapse.”
Venezuela Bracing For The Worst
The other major loser in the oil price collapse, Venezuela, may not see such a positive outcome. Wracked by decades of economic mismanagement by Hugo Chávez, the South American oil producer was already struggling to pay its debts when new president Nicolás Maduro came to power.
Now, with inflation running at 60 percent and lines forming outside state grocery stores for food and other basic supplies, Maduro faces the specter of serious social unrest if conditions do not improve. The country has some of the world’s cheapest gasoline prices, but Maduro has refused to end fuel subsidies, fearing, no doubt, a repeat of widespread riots in 1989 that left hundreds dead after gasoline prices were allowed to rise.
Venezuela is even more dependent than Russia on the price of oil, earning some 96 percent of its foreign currency from oil sales, putting Maduro in the untenable position of either borrowing more, despite crushing debts, or slashing spending:
“With only $20 billion left in its reserves, and $50 billion in debt to China alone, Venezuela appears headed toward a choice between abandoning its oil giveaways and defaulting on its debts, or starving its own population to the point of revolt,” according to the Washington Post.
By Andrew Topf for Oilprice.com
By: James Simpson
DC Independent Examiner
Perhaps we should give Howard Dean a break. He is a serial liar and goes off on unhinged rants based on “facts” with no more connection to reality than Disneyland. His behavior can often only be described as lunatic. So perhaps we should just pity the obviously deranged man, say a prayer for him to be restored to sanity, or at least the proper balance of meds.
Anyway, feeling it necessary to weigh in on the great American film, “American Sniper,” Dean said, “There’s a lot of anger in this country, and the people who go see this movie are people who are very angry.” He added, “I bet you if you looked at the cross-section of the tea party and people who see this movie there’s a lot of intersection…”
Now before we react, let’s remember that “American Sniper” is a movie about the heroic acts and hardships faced by Chris Kyle, our nation’s top-rated sniper. It accurately portrays his anguish about duty to country vs duty to his family. I can guarantee you Howard Dean never suffered such conflicts. Dean, like most Democrats, is only anguished when not getting his way – and collapses in episodes of screaming and temper tantrums when this happens. He’s a spoiled, selfish yuppie without the charm.
Actor Gary Sinise, who has done a lot for America’s veterans, had a quick response to Dean that was priceless:
To Howard Dean, I saw American Sniper and would not consider myself to be an angry person. You certainly have a right to make stupid blanket statements, suggesting that all people who see this film are angry, but how is that helpful sir? Do you also suggest that everyone at Warner Brothers is angry because they released the film? That Clint Eastwood, Jason Hall, Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller and the rest of the cast and crew are angry because they made the film? Chris Kyle’s story deserved to be told. It tells a story of the stress that multiple deployments have on one military family, a family representative of thousands of military families. It helps to communicate the toll that the war on terror has taken on our defenders. Defenders and families who need our support. I will admit that perhaps somewhere among the masses of people who are going to see the film there may be a few that might have some anger or have been angry at some point in their lives, but, with all due respect, what the hell are you talking about?
Yes Howard, what the Hell are you talking about? But there is truth to what Dean says. I am angry right now. I become so every time I hear a phony, fraud, corrupt, self-serving, slime ball like Howard Dean disgracing our country, its heroes and its people with spiteful, dishonest invective. It is a reminder – and we get more than enough every single day with the Zero-in-Chief – that Dean, Obama and people like them are literally destroying our country before our eyes, while shoving our tax dollars in their pockets as fast as they can. So in that sense, I guess maybe Dean has a point after all. I rarely take time to listen to these idiots, but when I do, I guess I understand Dean better, because I feel in need of meds myself.
By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
Accurately reporting on no-go zones dominated by Muslims in Europe is now a no-go zone. Our media have made a mess of the whole issue and are now afraid to dig themselves out. What a disgrace and disservice to news consumers.
Jumping on the pile, the left-wing Politico has published a story accusing Louisiana Republican Governor and possible presidential candidate Bobby Jindal of telling a “lie” about the no-go zones by saying they exist. But the story is itself based on a lie. Things are so twisted that Politico is doing the lying by denying that the no-go zones exist. How did we get in such a mess?
Let’s understand that the method in this madness is to accommodate the radical Muslim lobby and demonize politicians who talk about the jihad problem.
First of all, the evidence shows that the zones or areas do exist. We cited evidence for them, and numerous other outlets have done so as well. The confusion stems from a Fox News apology over the matter that should never have been made.
Steve Emerson made a mistake on one Fox show in saying that “in Britain, it’s not just no-go zones, there are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in.”
Acknowledging his error, Emerson tells WorldNetDaily that he is nevertheless appalled that the media have now decided that any and all reporting on no-go zones is wrong. “It’s outrageous for media outlets to apologize, saying ‘no-go zones’ don’t exist in Europe, when even the New York Times for years has published articles documenting Muslim ‘no-go zones’ do exist in European countries like France,” he tells WND reporter Jerome Corsi.
Corsi notes that “NBC News, the New York Times, the Associated Press and others were using the term ‘no-go’ zones for Muslim-majority neighborhoods in Paris when Muslim youth gangs were rampaging through the streets and setting cars on fire.”
We made the same point in our treatment of the issue, noting that Fox News suddenly altered its reporting of the Muslim riots in France in 2005, determining them to be “civil riots” instead. We saw then the power of the Islamists to alter Fox’s coverage.
Fox News media reporter Howard Kurtz had a great opportunity on his Sunday show “Media Buzz” to set the record straight. Instead of confronting his own channel over the unnecessary apology, Kurtz praised CNN’s Anderson Cooper for making the same kind of apology. But then he mentioned that other outlets have been reporting on the no-go zones for years. So an apology wasn’t necessary after all! “The subject is complicated,” he said. No it’s not. Just tell the truth.
If all of this is unnecessarily confusing, it’s clearly because of the unnecessary Fox apology. It was a political apology. There is no other explanation. It is this kind of pandering that is becoming a pattern at Fox, which had earlier yanked anchor Bret Baier from a Catholic conference under pressure from the homosexual lobby.
Liberal special interest groups should not have this kind of influence on a news organization, especially one claiming “fair and balanced” coverage that is also supposed to be accurate.
Journalism 101 teaches that corrections or apologies are called for when errors are made. Since no-go areas do in fact exist, according to numerous sources, no apology was necessary. Yet, Fox News offered the view that since the no-go zones are not “specific” or “formal” entities, they really don’t exist. Fox was wrong. This is complete nonsense and a gross distortion of the concept.
Robert Spencer makes the observation, “The Fox apology is all the more curious in light of the fact that others, even on the Left, have noticed the no-go zones in France before some Fox commentators began talking about them in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks.”
Citing just one example of many, he notes that David Ignatius had written in The New York Times back in 2002, “Yet Arab gangs regularly vandalize synagogues here, the North African suburbs have become no-go zones at night, and the French continue to shrug their shoulders.”
Spencer notes that Fox’s apology “only plays into the hands of leftists and Islamic supremacists who have a vested interest in rendering people ignorant and complacent about the reality of what is going on in these areas.”
He suggests that Fox “apologize for its apology.” That would perhaps further confuse matters, but it is the right thing to do.
Without an apology for the apology, those who apologize for the Islamization of Europe like Arif Rafiq will continue to claim, as he did in Politico, that Jindal, by even discussing the no-go zones, “has been repeating a lie that even Fox News was forced to apologize for.” The Fox News correction, or apology, though unwarranted, is now being cited as the media standard.
Politico headlined the piece, “Bobby Jindal’s Muslim Problem,” as if the governor has a bias against Muslims. So a Fox News apology has now been transformed into an indictment of a conservative political figure. Soon, Jindal will be denounced as an “Islamophobe,” another smear term used by the radical Islam lobby.
The liberal media won’t believe any of Fox’s normal day-to-day reports. But when the channel claims to have made an error that makes the rest of the media look good by comparison, that suddenly becomes the truth and the channel has to be believed. This is how reality is turned upside down.
The real story is why Fox made this unnecessary correction. The clout of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Council on American-Islamic Relations is the most likely explanation. Fox has undermined its own credibility by apologizing for something that was true. It is bizarre and was absolutely unnecessary.
Pamela Geller is correct that the major media are “failing us.” It’s terribly tragic that at a time when we were depending on one channel, Fox, to tell the truth, it has failed us, too.
By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
A Special Report from the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism
With the war on Islamic terrorism being portrayed as a righteous cause in “American Sniper,” the Clint Eastwood film breaking box office records, a book which documents the days when Hollywood was a mouthpiece for communist propaganda might seem out of date. But Allan H. Ryskind’s book, Hollywood Traitors, is a reminder that Hollywood can’t always be counted on to take America’s side in a war, even a World War when the United States faced dictators by the names of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.
The Ryskind book, published by Regnery, documents how the much-maligned House Committee on Un-American Activities, known as HUAC, uncovered dramatic communist infiltration of Hollywood and forced the studios to clean house.
Ryskind calls HUAC’s investigation of Hollywood in 1947 and 1950 “one of the most effective, albeit controversial, probes ever carried out by any committee of Congress.” He adds, “HUAC had revealed that Hollywood was packed with Communists and fellow travelers, that the guilds and the unions had been heavily penetrated, and that wartime films, at least, had been saturated with Stalinist propaganda. Red writers were an elite and powerful group in Hollywood—many of them working for major studios.”
He writes that, “HUAC, though bruised by elite opinion, had won the support of the American people and a victory over Hollywood Communists, fellow travelers, and the important liberals who supported them.” Members of Congress involved in HUAC did their jobs, in the face of opposition from “the East coast establishment newspapers” like The New York Times and The Washington Post.
The book reminds us that the Hollywood agents of Stalin had also been “Allies of Hitler,” a threat symbolized on the book cover by a Hollywood director’s chair featuring a Nazi swastika. The Hitler-Stalin Pact of 1939-1941 had paved the way for World War II.
As a result of the purging of communists from Hollywood, the so-called “blacklist,” we entered a time, from about 1947 to 1960, when the communists lost control of the major Hollywood unions and “the studios were actually creating anti-Communist pictures,” Ryskind writes. It was a remarkable turnaround.
But while Hollywood did turn anti-communist, at least for a while, the communists scored their own ultimate victory, succeeding in forcing Congress to abolish HUAC. The committee, which had been renamed as the House Internal Security Committee, was the target of what HUAC called the Communist Party’s “Cold War against congressional investigation of subversion.”
For many years, there was a comparable body in the Senate, which went by different names but tackled such matters as “Castro’s Network in the United States,” a 1963 investigation into the “Fair Play for Cuba Committee” that we later learned included JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.
To those insisting it was somehow inappropriate to ask Hollywood figures about their “political beliefs,” Ryskind counters that “Few questions could have been more important for a congressional committee to ask than whether American citizens were actually serving as agents of a hostile foreign government.” He said HUAC was engaging in hearings designed to accurately disclose membership in the Communist Party, “a subversive organization controlled by an enemy nation and designed to turn America into a Communist country…”
In its battle against communism, HUAC had subpoena power and was not afraid to use it. HUAC also issued contempt citations against those who refused to testify completely and truthfully. All of the members of the so-called “Hollywood Ten,” who refused to testify about their involvement in the Communist Party, eventually went to prison.
Ryskind cites estimates that over 200 Hollywood Communists were named in this process. His book provides the Communist Party card numbers of the Hollywood Ten as well as the names of other “well-known radicals,” many of them overt Communists, who were active in the movie industry.
Bring Back HUAC?
Today, with dozens of leading conservatives now clamoring for congressional action to “Stop the Fundamental Transformation of America,” the Ryskind book may add to the impetus for Congress to reestablish a HUAC-style panel. The George Soros-funded Center for American Progress (CAP) acted frightened and alarmed in 2010 when Rep. Steve King (R-IA) expressed agreement with my suggestion at that time that re-establishment of such a committee would be a good idea. “I think that is a good process and I would support it,” he said.
The oath of office for members of Congress requires that they support and defend the Constitution of the United States “against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” HUAC is a model for how such a problem can be identified and confronted.
Donald I. Sweany, Jr., a research analyst for the House Committee on Un-American Activities and its successor, the House Committee on Internal Security, sees the need for such a committee. He has issued this statement:
“The re-creation of the House Committee on Internal Security will provide the Congress of the United States, Executive Branch agencies and the public with essential and actionable information concerning the dangerous and sovereignty-threatening subversive activities currently plaguing America. This subversion emulates from a host of old and new entities of Marxist/Communist revolutionary organizations and allied militant and radical groups, some of which have foreign connections. A new mandated House Committee on Internal Security is of great importance because it would once again recommend to Congress remedial legislative action to crack down on any un-American forces whose goals are to weaken and destroy the freedoms which America enjoys under the Constitution. In addition, this legislative process will provide public exposure of such subversives.”
Ryskind’s father, Marx Brothers screenwriter Morrie Ryskind, testified before HUAC about communist penetration of Hollywood that he had learned about first-hand through his involvement with the Screen Writers Guild. Morrie Ryskind had attended the Columbia School of Journalism in New York and written for Joseph Pulitzer’s newspaper World. But he underwent a political transformation, from an anti-war socialist who became disillusioned with FDR to a Republican determined to stop the communist advance. He wrote for conservative publications such as Human Events and National Review, which he helped William F. Buckley Jr. launch.
Morrie Ryskind helped found the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals to counteract the work of the communists and educate the American people about what was at stake. The Ryskind book also notes how the American Legion and various Catholic organizations were focusing attention on Hollywood’s far-left elements and making the public aware of this problem.
The book includes Allan Ryskind’s memories of his Hollywood upbringing, including meeting famous people such as top Communist Party leader Benjamin Gitlow. He spent decades as editor of Human Events, which was President Ronald Reagan’s favorite paper. It also became known for its aggressive reporting on the communist and socialist threats. Reagan so appreciated the weekly paper that he had arranged for copies to be sent to him personally at the White House residence.
Ryskind, who still serves as Human Events editor-at-large, documents the development of Reagan’s anti-communism in Hollywood Traitors. Reagan began his acting career as a liberal who got involved in Communist-front activities, later realizing that the “nice-sounding” groups he was supporting were secretly controlled by members of the Communist Party. He carried this understanding and analysis of the communist threat into his presidency and talked openly about the growing Marxist influence in Congress as he battled with congressional liberals and tried to stop the Soviet advance in Latin America.
In fact, as President, he told journalist Arnaud de Borchgrave in a 1987 interview that “I’ve been a student of the communist movement for a long time, having been a victim of it some years ago in Hollywood.” He said that he regarded some two dozen Marxists in Congress as “a problem we have to face.”
The problem is far worse today. Analyst Trevor Loudon now counts the number of Marxists in Congress at more than 60, a fact that would seem to make it more of a controversy to re-establish HUAC, but even more of a reason to do so. All it would take is more courageous members like Rep. King, backed by the House Leadership. Such a committee would be able to seriously analyze an area that remains off-limits to the House Homeland Security Committee, the House Intelligence Committee, and the Select Committee on Benghazi—subversive infiltration of the highest levels of the U.S. government, including the White House and Congress.
One key to HUAC’s success was finding those in Hollywood, including in the unions, willing to name names and identify the subversives. Reagan testified before HUAC and took a leadership role in defeating communist influence in the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), later becoming the union’s president. Labor leader Roy Brewer was another effective anti-communist in Hollywood highlighted in Ryskind’s book.
Although the 506-page book is based on HUAC hearings, Ryskind conducted independent research that adds to his case against the Hollywood traitors. For example, he combed through the historical papers of one major Hollywood-Ten figure, the Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who refused to cooperate with HUAC and expose his comrades. Ryskind reports on an unpublished script Trumbo wrote that treated the invasion of South Korea as a “fight for independence” for the communist north.
Trumbo wrote many excellent film scripts, including Roman Holiday, but was “a hard-core Party member, a fervent supporter of Stalinist Russia and Kim Il-sung’s North Korea, and an apologist for Nazi Germany until Hitler double-crossed Stalin and invaded the Soviet union,” Ryskind notes. “Yet to this day he is regarded as a hero in Hollywood.”
Almost on cue, as Ryskind’s book was being published, it was reported that Hollywood is planning a new film which glorifies Trumbo, starring Bryan Cranston of “Breaking Bad” fame as the screenwriter. The battle over communist influence is slated to return for another act.
Love for Cuban Communism
The book’s chapter, “Hollywood Today,” tries to bring the communism problem up to date by examining Hollywood’s love affair with the longtime Stalinist ruler of Cuba, Fidel Castro. He writes that much of Hollywood “is still lured by the romance of Marxism, and its films are still filled with heavy doses of anti-American propaganda.”
More details are provided in Humberto Fontova’s excellent books, Fidel: Hollywood ‘s Favorite Tyrant and The Longest Romance: The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro.
I recently asked Fontova why a Stalinist like Castro gets fawning treatment, while the Stalinist North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, is ridiculed in the movie The Interview. “My best guess is that it’s a generational thing, nostalgia mostly,” he told this writer. The Castros and Che Guevara, he said, are perceived as “the first hippies” or beatniks.
Indeed, The Longest Romance quotes The New York Times reporter who helped bring Castro to power, Herbert Matthews, as saying, “Castro’s is a revolution of youth.” Fontova adds, “The notion of Castro’s Cuba as a stiflingly Stalinist nation never quite caught on among the enlightened. Instead the island often inspires hazy visions of a vast commune, rock-fest or Occupy encampment, studded with free health care clinics and with [the hippie icon] Wavy Gravy handing out love-beads at the entrance.”
Perhaps the pro-Castro influence in Hollywood is something that a new HUAC might want to tackle.
Another issue worth investigating is how Hollywood has also come under the influence of radical Islam. For example, the 2002 film, “The Sum of All Fears,” which was the movie version of the Tom Clancy book of the same name, replaced the Arab terrorist villains with neo-Nazis so as not to offend the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate. The Fox network responded to complaints about its popular series “24” depicting Muslims in America secretly plotting terrorism by running public service announcements from CAIR portraying American Muslims as moderate and peaceful.
The book, Council on American-Islamic Relations: Its Use of Lawfare and Intimidation, has an entire chapter on how CAIR attempts to silence its critics in radio, television, and the film industry.
There will be those in Congress and the media who will argue against the return of anything resembling the old HUAC, contending that “McCarthyism,” or the anti-communist “witchhunt,” is the greater danger. The truth about McCarthy’s investigations is provided in the M. Stanton Evans book, Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight against America’s Enemies.
It bears repeating that Senator McCarthy never had anything to do with the House committee or its investigation of Hollywood.
This book is a valuable contribution to understanding a dangerous time in American history when America’s elected representatives and the people themselves rallied to the defense of their homeland against these foreign and domestic enemies.
While it is worth noting that the veteran Hollywood actor and director Clint Eastwood has bypassed the censors at CAIR with “American Sniper,” this kind of film is the exception and not the rule. The film portrays the great sacrifices being made by U.S. military personnel in the Middle East as they combat an enemy that is depicted as savage and barbaric. It is based on the life of Chris Kyle, an Iraq War veteran and Navy SEAL who joined the Armed Forces to defend his country from Islamic terrorism.
Zaid Jilani, a “progressive” writer who left the Center for American Progress after being charged with anti-Semitism, has emerged as one of the film’s most vocal critics. A regular on the Kremlin channel Russia Today (RT) and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Al Jazeera, he insists the film about the “remorseless” sharpshooter has sparked “anti-Muslim bigotry,” and he complains about it becoming “a rallying point for the political right.”
However, he admits that Eastwood’s skill as a filmmaker could result in a “Best Picture” award for “American Sniper” and “Best Actor in a Leading Role” award for Bradley Cooper, who plays Kyle. He just can’t bring himself to admit that the pro-military and anti-terrorist message is also a major factor in its success. The Academy Awards take place on February 22.
Indeed, this is the fear from the modern-day “progressives”—that Hollywood will rediscover the box office appeal of American patriotism.
But according to the annual Reuters/Ipsos Oscars poll, if ordinary Americans voted for the Academy Awards, “American Sniper” would be the Best Picture winner. Those who wonder why we don’t get more pro-military and pro-American movies out of Hollywood should read Ryskind’s new book.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Netanyahu said, with regard to his speaking to Congress:
“In coming weeks, the powers are liable to reach a framework agreement with Iran, an agreement liable to leave Iran as a nuclear threshold state.
“As prime minister of Israel, I am obligated to make every effort to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weaponry that will be aimed at the State of Israel. This effort is global and I will go anywhere I am invited to make the State of Israel’s case and defend its future and existence.” (Emphasis added)
Israel’s ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, spoke yesterday as well, and he said (emphasis added):
The prime minister’s visit is “intended for one purpose: To speak up while there is still time to speak up. To speak up when there is still time to make a difference.”
Thus, it is Netanyahu’s “most sacred duty to do whatever he can to prevent Iran from ever developing nuclear weapons that can be aimed at Israel.
“For Israel, a nuclear armed Iran would be a clear and present danger. Iran’s regime is both committed to Israel’s destruction and working toward Israel’s destruction.”
Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash 90
Couldn’t be much clearer and unambiguous than this.
And then we have Boehner’s response to the flap that has ensued following his invitation to the prime minister:
There’s nobody in the world who can [better] talk about the threat of radical terrorism — nobody can [better] talk about the threat the Iranians pose, not just to the Middle East and to Israel… but to the entire world — than Bibi (Benjamin) Netanyahu.”
Boehner went on to say he did not believe Obama was giving that threat the attention it deserved.
“The president didn’t spend but a few seconds (in his State of the Union address last week) talking about the threat, the terrorist threat that we as Americans face.
“This problem is growing all over the world…the president is trying to act as though it’s not there, but it is there and it’s going to be a threat to our homeland if we don’t address it in a bigger way.” (Emphasis added)
Boehner has further said, by the way, that he did not “blindside” the White House, as he has been accused of doing. He gave Obama “heads up” before news about the invitation to Netanyahu hit the press.
But so insane is the election fever here, that everything is subject to attack. The following column by Uri Avnery written just two days ago is so shockingly perverse that I simply had to call attention to it:
“…Two Israeli drones have bombed (or missiled) a small Hezbollah convoy, a few miles beyond the border with Syria on the Golan heights. 12 people were killed. One was an Iranian general. One was a very young Hezbollah officer, the son of Imad Mughniyeh…
“The killing of the Iranian general was perhaps unintended….
“The intended victim of the attack was the 25-year old Jihad Mughniyeh, a junior Hezbollah officer whose only claim to fame was his family name.
“IMMEDIATELY AFTER the killing, the question arose: Why? Why now? Why at all?
“The Israeli-Syrian border (or, rather, cease-fire line) has been for decades the quietest border of Israel. No shooting. No incidents. Nothing.
“SO WHY did Israeli drones hit a small convoy of Assad’s allies – Hezbollah and Iran? It is very unlikely that they had any aggressive intentions against Israel. Probably they were scouting the terrain in search of Syrian rebels.
“The Israeli government and the army did not explain. How could they, when they did not officially admit to the action? Even unofficially, there was no hint.
“But there is an elephant in the room: the Israeli elections.
“We are now in the middle of the election campaign. Was there, could there be, any connection between the election campaign and the attack?
WHAT?!! We have here a prime example of the morally corrupt and totally perverse position of the far left. How shameful this is.
In terms of information, it is full of holes. Jihad Mughniyeh’s claim to fame was NOT just his family name: he headed a terrorist cell directly funded by Iran that had already launched attacks.
And to say that it was “very unlikely that they [the convoy] had any aggressive intentions against Israel. Probably they were scouting the terrain in search of Syrian rebels”? Does he truly imagine that even though a general from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards was present, there was no ill intent towards Israel? That Iran sends out a general to scout for rebels?
Nor is it true that the border with Syria has been consistently quiet. That was once the case, but no longer is.
Gush Shalom – which ran Avnery’s article – promotes “peace” based on all of the Palestinian Arab demands, including “right of return,” which means this is a group that supports the destruction of Israel. It is beyond the pale. Uri Avnery is a founding member.
And this is what our prime minister must contend with, on his far left flank, as he works to defend the State and keep her safe.
Now I turn to an article – “Israeli strike in Syria: A move in an unfinished game” – regarding that convoy in the Golan, written by the highly informed Jonathan Spyer (emphasis added):
”Firstly, the killings were a response to a clear attempt by the Iranians/Hezbollah to violate the very fragile status quo that pertains between these elements and Israel in Lebanon and Syria…
”Some analysis of the strike has suggested that the mission of the men killed in the attack involved preparation for placing sophisticated Iranian missile systems on the Syrian part of the Golan. Other accounts suggested that the mission was part of readying this area for the launch of ground attacks across the border against Israeli targets, perhaps using proxies.
”In either case, the mission was a clear attempt to change the arrangement of forces in the north, in such a way that could be expected to ensure an Israeli response…
”The Iran/Hezbollah/Assad side has long threatened to develop the Golan as a front for possible ‘jihad duties’ against Israel. Both Syrian President Bashar Assad and Nasrallah, in the course of 2014, made unambiguous public statements threatening the opening of military activity against Israel in this area. Israel in turn has been very keen to make clear that such a move would constitute a violation of the status quo.
”The strike on Sunday constituted a very kinetic further Israeli message intended to drive home this point.
”What this means is that despite the death of a senior IRGC commander in the Israeli strike, the action by Israel should not be seen as a general casting aside of the rules of engagement by Jerusalem on the northern border – but rather an insistence on maintaining these rules, and a warning of the consequences to the other side of continued violation of them…”
In the above article, Spyer refers to the great unease the Lebanese have about what Hezbollah is doing:
”Responses by Lebanese political leaders and media to the event have been characterized by a sort of nervous, veiled request to Hezbollah not to bring down Israel’s wrath on Lebanon…”
The Israeli government, mindful of this situation, has speculated that the “retribution” from Hezbollah may come not via a frontal attack across the border from Lebanon into Israel, but rather via terrorism unleashed on Israelis abroad.
Thus, according to Al-Hayat, Israel has relayed a message to Hezbollah, delivered via indirect channels, that warns against such action: “Israel would hold Hezbollah responsible for any attack against its institutions and nationals [abroad], including areas known to be frequented by Israelis in far-off places around the globe.”
Coming full circle here…
We see that the Lebanese, who have not forgotten the damage they endured during Israel’s last war against Hezbollah, are not willing to support an attack on Israel by Hezbollah initiated from Lebanese soil. And so the significance to Hezbollah (and to Iran, its sponsor) of establishing a base on the Golan for launching attacks on Israel from there becomes readily apparent.
Thus the necessity for Israel to forcefully “discourage” any such plans.
In other words, we did good. Do not allow yourself to be disabused of this understanding.
We will end with a good news piece:
“A breakthrough discovery by researchers at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem will allow early detection and possible prevention of colon and uterine cancers. According to the study, a genetic mutation related to Lynch syndrome has been shown to increase the risk of these types of cancers. The discovery of the mutation among members of certain population groups allows for a quick identification of at-risk patients.”
This discovery is being referred to as “of immense importance in the prevention and early treatment of cancer.”
There is a colossal danger to the world coming down the road: A nuclear Iran. It’s scary as hell because of the radical jihadist intentions of the Iranian mullahs.
Right now the president of the United States and the Congress of the United States are at odds regarding how to respond to Iran. Currently there is a “Joint Plan of Action” (JPOA) in place – an agreement between Iran and P5 + 1 (US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany – those nations in negotiations with Iran). This is a temporary agreement, scheduled to end on June 30, 2015 (having been extended from its prior expiration date of November 24, 2014).
JPOA outlines restrictions placed on Iran, and sanctions relief provided to Iran, for the course of negotiations regarding final understandings on Iran’s nuclear status. It is theoretically the case that all negotiations are to be completed by that June deadline.
Obama, in his State of the Union address, pledged to veto any legislation that imposes sanctions on Iran – a statement which is a direct challenge to the Congress. The president claims that such sanctions would be destructive to negotiations. What he has done is to misrepresent the position of Congress – for the legislation that is being advanced calls for additional sanctions ONLY IF and ONLY AFTER negotiations had failed.
The bill – sponsored by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) – has bi-partisan support. In fact, it was Menendez, ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who has voiced the most vociferous criticism of the administration position. Addressing administration officials in the course of a hearing on Iran, he said:
“I have to be honest with you, the more I hear from the administration…The more it sounds like talking points coming out of Tehran. And it heeds to the Iranian narrative of victimhood, when they are the ones with original sin: an illicit nuclear weapons program over the course of twenty years that they are unwilling to come clean on. I don’t know why we feel compelled to make their case…They get to cheat in a series of ways, and we get to worry about their ‘perceptions.’”
You can see him making this statement in a video here:
Against the background of this Congressional frustration with Obama, Speaker of the House Boehner invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress.
Why Netanyahu? It’s obvious. He is the world leader, bar none, when it comes to speaking out on the dangers of a nuclear Iran and the importance of sanctions. What an honor, that the Congress wants to hear what he has to say on the matter. Israel is not a minor league player here. How significant, that he should speak out.
But do commentators notice any of this? Nahh…
In the US, the charge is that Boehner is “using” Netanyahu to “get back at” Obama. Here, the criticism is that Bibi is “using” Boehner to help him get re-elected (as he will get a boost in the elections from this talk before Congress). What a furor has ensued.
In the course of all of these charges and counter-charges, forgotten is the possibility that Netanyahu might help keep Congress strong – perhaps even strong enough to over-ride a veto. Overlooked is the fact that stopping Iran is the ikar – the heart of the matter.
The left here in Israel is accusing Bibi of “destroying” our relationship with Washington. However, “Washington” also includes the Congress.
What is more, I have noticed that already the Obama administration is backtracking on this matter: The US has an “unshakable” alliance with Israel, the White House has declared. And on Meet the Press today, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said that:
”Our relationship with Israel is many-faceted, deep and abiding. It’s focused on a shared series of threats, but also on a shared series of values that one particular instance is not going to overwhelm.”
Well now… Can we please go back to talking about Iran and sanctions?
From Omri Ceren of The Israel Project, I offer the following information:
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano spoke on Friday at the University of Indonesia. His talk included this statement (emphasis in the original):
“As far as Iran is concerned, the Agency is able to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared to us by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement. But we are not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”
The Obama administration has made two basic arguments about the success of the JPOA interim agreement.
The first is that Iran’s program has been “halted” and its nuclear stockpile “reduced.” But this simply is not the case. The JPOA allows Iran to enrich to 3.5% purity, which is about 60% of the effort needed to get to weapons-grade levels, provided the new material is stored as oxide. They’ve used the last year to create at least one bomb’s worth of enriched uranium and will use the rest of the extension to enrich enough for another one.
The second claim is that the JPOA provides “unprecedented” access/insight/monitoring/inspections into Iran’s nuclear facilities. But the statement above from the IAEA Director General makes it clear that this is not the case.
On January 15, 2015, Iranian president Rouhani announced that Iran was building two new reactors. The State Department clarified that this is not prohibited by any Security Council resolutions, and is not in violation of the JPOA agreement.
Clarified Omri Ceren:
The JPOA was supposed to freeze the Iranian program to prevent them from improving their position as talks proceeded. It failed. Instead the Iranians spent the last year building up their nuclear program – and their leverage – across all areas.
Fervently do I wish that those who claim to be serious thinkers on the issues would get as excised over the dangers of Iran and the damage that Obama is doing to his own nation, Israel, and the world, as they do over imagined political intrigues.
Much more to come.
I close here with Caroline Glick’s latest piece on this issue, “Iran, Obama, Boehner, and Netanyahu.”
“The role of an Israeli leader is to adopt the policies that protect Israel, even when they are unpopular at the White House. Far from being ostracized for those policies, such an Israeli leader will be supported, respected, and relied upon by those who share with him a concern for what truly matters.”