What, if anything, would cause President Barack Obama to step away from the negotiating table with Iran?
This is the question I find myself pondering in light of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Navy Patrol’s unchecked act of aggression on Tuesday against America’s interests in the Straits of Hormuz – an act that in a sane world would in and of itself put an end to the president’s disastrous nuclear deal with Iran.
As of this writing, reports indicate that the Iranian Navy Patrol fired shots at and ultimately seized a commercial cargo ship, the M/V Maersk Tigris, which flies under the Marshall Islands flag. Some believe Iran was even targeting a U.S. vessel.
An Iranian warship takes part in a naval show in 2006. (Photo: AP)
In a helpful dispatch, commentator Omri Ceren notes the significant implications of such an action given that the U.S. is: (i) Treaty-bound to secure and defend the Marshall Islands, and (ii) Committed to maintaining the free flow of commerce in the strategically vital waterways of the Middle East — as affirmed just one week ago on April 21 by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, State Department Spokesperson Marie Harf and Pentagon Spokesman Col. Steve Warren.
The U.S. fulfilling its obligations to its protectorate, and acting to ensure vital shipping lanes remain open are not trivial matters.
Further, this act can be seen as a brazen test of the sincerity of U.S. resolve, as it was timed to coincide with the opening of the Senate’s debate on the Corker-Menendez Iran bill.
Yet there is a broader and perhaps more important context in which to consider what Ceren calls an act of “functionally unspinnable Iranian aggression.”
On March 24 it was reported that the Iranian regime had increased its naval threats against the U.S., including “[T]hreats to take over and sink American aircraft carriers and other warships; to close the Strait of Hormuz and Bab El-Mandeb; to carry out large-scale missile attacks inside and outside the Persian Gulf; and to mine the Persian Gulf”
Funding, training and arming terrorists responsible for slaying American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan
Would Iran’s most recent actions in the Strait of Hormuz coupled with the litany of other recent and historical bellicose acts lead one to question whether it is in the United States’ interest to continue negotiating with the mullahs?
Put more directly: In what respect can the U.S. consider Iran to be a reliable, honorable negotiating partner?
Iranian women hold an anti-US sign, bearing a cartoon of US President Barack Obama, outside the former US embassy in Tehran on November 2, 2012, during a rally to mark the 33rd anniversary of seizure of the US embassy which saw Islamist students hold 52 US diplomats hostage for 444 days. This year’s rally came just days before US presidential election in which Republican challenger Mitt Romney has made Iran’s controversial nuclear programme a top foreign policy issue. Credit: AFP/Getty Images
Concerning the content of the nuclear deal being negotiated, it should be noted that the Iranians have stated the agreement accomplishes the very opposite of what the American public been led to believe. With respect to sanctions, Iran says they will be fully lifted upon the execution of the accord. As MEMRI notes, in an April 9 address, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini gave a speech in which he called America a “cheater and a liar” and
publicly set out the negotiating framework for the Iranian negotiating team, the main points of which are: an immediate lifting of all sanctions the moment an agreement is reached; no intrusive oversight of Iran’s nuclear and military facilities; the continuation of Iran’s nuclear research and development program; and no inclusion of any topics not related to the nuclear program, such as missile capability or anything impacting Iran’s support for its proxies in the region.
As to whether Khameini’s portrayal of the deal is accurate, former CIA analyst and Iran expert Fred Fleitz asserts that under the terms of the agreement, Iran will (i) be able to continue enriching uranium, (ii) not have to disassemble or destroy any enrichment equipment or facilities, (iii) not be required to “permit snap inspections and unfettered access to all Iranian nuclear facilities, including military bases where Iran is believed to have conducted nuclear-weapons work,” (iv) be able to continue to operate its Arak heavy-water reactor, a plutonium source, in contravention of IAEA resolutions and (v) be subjected to an eased sanctions regime that will be incredibly difficult to re-impose.
If this were not enough, so intent is the Obama Administration on reaching a deal that it has been reported that for signing this agreement, Iran may even receive sweeteners including a $50 billion “signing bonus.”
The contorted logic used by the president in defense of his progressive stance towards Iran is worthy of Neville Chamberlain. During an interview with New York Times soulmate Thomas Friedman, Obama opined:
Even for somebody who believes, as I suspect Prime Minister Netanyahu believes, that there is no difference between Rouhani and the supreme leader and they’re all adamantly anti-West and anti-Israel and perennial liars and cheaters — even if you believed all that, this still would be the right thing to do. It would still be the best option for us to protect ourselves. In fact, you could argue that if they are implacably opposed to us, all the more reason for us to want to have a deal in which we know what they’re doing and that, for a long period of time, we can prevent them from having a nuclear weapon.
I am skeptical that there are many moderates within the [Iranian] leadership … I think it’s kind of like the search for the vaunted moderates in the Kremlin throughout most of the Cold War, with the exception that we could always count on the Soviet leadership to be concerned about national survival in a way that I don’t think we can count on a nuclear-armed Iranian leadership to be solely concerned about national survival.
It’s unfair to Neville Chamberlain to compare him to Barack Obama, because Neville Chamberlain’s general staff was telling him he couldn’t confront Hitler and even fight to a draw—certainly not defeat the German military—until probably 1941 or 1942. He was operating from a position of weakness. With Iran, we negotiated privately in 2012-2013 from a position of strength … not just inherent military strength of the United States compared to Iran, but also from our strategic position.
To those who recognize reality, this deal – coupled with our weak response to the ongoing provocations of the Iranian Government — not only threatens our national security and that of our allies, but reflects an utter dereliction of duty to uphold the Constitution, and protect our people against foreign enemies.
Barack Obama delivers his statement on the interim Iran deal. (Image Source: Whitehouse.gov/YouTube screengrab)
Our enemies do not fear or respect us, our allies do not trust us and little indicates that the American people are cognizant of the size and scope of the perils that face us.
We are reliving Winston Churchill’s gathering storm in an era when it is questionable whether the majority of American citizens even know who Churchill is, let alone what he did. Many of those who do likely see him first and foremost as a dead white European male.
And unlike in World War II, today we are challenged by Nazis (insofar as Islamic supremacists are genocidal, Jew (and Christian) hating monsters who seek to dominate the world) and Communists (in their Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping-led manifestations.)
In the face of all this, America’s left exhibits two traits that together are fatal: hubris and ignorance.
Leftists have the hubris to believe that they can and should create a world according to their progressive vision – for the good of the people and their own aggrandizement.
Leftists have the ignorance of history and man’s nature that renders them unable to anticipate the dire consequences of their course.
Underlying their actions is the belief that all people are animated by the same goals and aspirations.
Yet different peoples are different. Evil cannot be appeased or assuaged. The world must be seen as it is, not as we wish it to be.
Seen in this light, the support of the removal of secular authoritarian leaders and subsequent conflagration of Sunni and Shiite jihadism in the Middle East is a natural manifestation of progressivism.
The Iranian nuclear deal and impending Arab nuclearization is a natural manifestation of progressivism.
The opening of relations with Communist Cuba is a natural manifestation of progressivism.
These and many other actions should not shock anyone who understands the leftist ethos that America specifically and the West generally has been a force for evil and that redistributive justice is the remedy.
Empowering our enemies and attacking our allies is seen as the “right” thing to do under this perverse Sophistic paradigm.
That each day real headlines and the headlines of The Onion are indistinguishable; that when you routinely find yourself coming to the conclusion that the world has been turned on its head, this is the consequence of progressivism in action.
And progressivism always and everywhere leads to regressive ends.
Whoever holds that office [the presidency] makes decisions involving the life and death of Americans and — especially if Iran gets a nuclear arsenal — the life and death of this nation. It took just two nuclear bombs — neither of them as powerful as those available today — to get a very tough nation like Japan to surrender.
Anyone familiar with World War II battles in the Pacific knows that it was not unusual for 90 percent of the Japanese troops defending Iwo Jima or other islands to fight to the death, even after it was clear that American troops had them beaten.
When people like that surrender after two nuclear bombs, do not imagine that today’s soft Americans — led by the likes of Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton — will fight on after New York and Chicago have been reduced to radioactive ashes.
If this sounds alarmist, simply ask: With what in this statement do you disagree?
What countertrends do you see?
What reason is there to believe that, barring a significant reversal in our country’s academic and cultural institutions, the public is going to stir and demand meaningful change?
Has not political correctness gotten Americans literally killed from Iraq (via suicidal rules of engagement) to Fort Hood (via willful blindness) without a modicum of reflection on what went wrong and how to fix it?
Would an America awake to Barack Obama’s vision have elected him for a second term? Is it prepared to elect a president with the courage and intestinal fortitude to reverse our direction in the face of a craven political class?
So long as the forces of cosmic justice and gravity still exist, continuing on this path can only end in war and poverty.
The question for those of us who believe that America remains the last, best hope on Earth for freedom may not be what we can do to stop these forces, but what we must be prepared to do to survive and rebuild in the face of them.
This past week John Kerry, bargaining from a self-imposed position of weakness, continued to negotiate with Iran, the world’s most pernicious state sponsor of international terrorism even after America’s allies walked away. It might be said that Kerry agreed to take “No” for an answer. Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu left no doubt about his grave concerns about the wisdom of the agreement being hammered out at the behest of the Obama administration that legitimizes Iran’s nuclear program and therefore poses an existential threat to Israel.
Mr. Obama has said that a deal with Iran would be “Historic.”
My concern is that Obama’s statement will be prophetic. History records as many tragedies as successes. The Hindenburg explosion was certainly historic. So was the loss of the Titanic and two of our space shuttles.
In point of fact, every major war has been historic as has been the Holocaust.
Many of the events recorded in history books were written with blood- rivers and, indeed, oceans of blood!
The news media has reported on Netanyahu’s concerns and noted how a nuclear Iran would, indeed, pose a threat to Israel’s survival. What has not been considered is that a nuclear Iran would pose no less a threat to America.
There is a saying that when confronting several adversaries in a dark alley you should not go after the smallest adversary but the largest. The reasoning is that if you beat up the smallest guy first, you will then have to fight your way up until you wind up fighting the largest adversary last. By then your strength and ability would have been largely depleted.
On the other hand, if you successfully take on the biggest adversary first, the other guys will run away and you will prevail.
Undoubtedly when Iran looks at Israel and the United States, the United States is that largest adversary.
Iran is operating in the Western Hemisphere as has been for many years. Their presence in our hemisphere and indeed our country, leaves us vulnerable to a devastating attack.
The basis for the Huffington Post article was a hearing that was conducted that day by the House Committee on Homeland Security that is chaired by Congressman Peter King of New York, the topic of the hearing was, “Iran, Hezbollah, and the Threat to the Homeland.”
Here is how the Huffington Post article began:
WASHINGTON — Iranian-backed Hezbollah agents, not al Qaeda operatives, may pose the greatest threat on U.S. soil as tensions over Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program ratchet up, according to the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.
“As Iran moves closer to nuclear weapons and there is increasing concern over war between Iran and Israel, we must also focus on Iran’s secret operatives and their number one terrorist proxy force, Hezbollah, which we know is in America,” said New York Rep. Peter King at a Wednesday hearing of his committee.
The hearing, which featured former government officials and the director of intelligence analysis for the New York Police Department, follows a foiled plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, D.C., and testimony by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in late January that Iran’s leaders are “more willing to conduct an attack inside the United States in response to real or perceived U.S. actions that threaten the regime.”
Opening the hearing, King said, “We have a duty to prepare for the worst,” warning there may be hundreds of Hezbollah operatives in the United States, including 84 Iranian diplomats at the United Nations and in Washington who, “it must be presumed, are intelligence officers.”
Congressman Peter King focused primarily on the threats posed by Iranian diplomats and, indeed, these diplomats should be of great concern to us. However, these diplomats are readily identifiable. We know their identities and the fact that they are officially connected to the Iranian government. There are other Iranians who are present in the United States whose relationship with the Iranian government and its goals of destroying the United States are not so readily identifiable.
Here is an important excerpt from “The Blaze” article:
The federal indictment revealed Allouche had married a U.S. citizen and was going through the naturalization process when he was arrested. When asked by officials if he had ever been associated with a terrorist organization, he replied no. That apparently turned out to be a lie.
According to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, he was a militant with the Amal militia in Lebanon in the early to mid-1980s. He was reportedly captured as a Israeli prisoner of war, but was later released to become a commander of the Amal militia.
“News reports at the time said Hezbollah was formed by religious members of the Amal movement.”
In addition to lying about his terror ties, Allouche is also accused of lying about his relationship with his ex-wife. He falsely claimed on his application forms in 2009 that he and his wife were married and living together for the past three years. In reality, they had no lived together since May 2007 and they filed for divorce in December of 2007.
While Allouche’s allegedly committed fraud in filing his application for naturalization, it must be noted that if the allegations are accurate, that he also gamed the the process by which he had been granted lawful immigrant status years earlier. He had a Green Card (Alien Registration Receipt Card) for at least three years before he applied for United States citizenship. The 9/11 Commission identified such fraud as being an integral part of the strategy terrorists have used to enter the United States and embed themselves.
At the time of his arrest Allouche, was applying for a security clearance in order to work for the Department of Defense and had also applied for naturalization. Allegedly he lied by claiming to have never been a member of a terrorist organization when in fact, according to the FBI, he had not just been a member of Hezbollah, but had been a commander of that terrorist organization.
On May 29, 2013 both of those newspapers published follow-up reports in conjunction with disclosures made by prosecutors during the bail hearing.
Allouche was arrested by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force here last week after being indicted on charges of not disclosing, during his quest to obtain his U.S. citizenship, his membership in the Amal militia and Hezbollah in Lebanon in the 1980s.
He’s also charged with not disclosing his prior membership in those groups when he applied for a security clearance with the Defense Department as he sought a contracting job.
Before 2009, Allouche worked for L-3 Communications, which provides linguistic services for the U.S. military, and he was deployed for several months to Iraq. He has lived in the U.S. since about 2002, and once owned Windcrest Mobil, a gas station at Walzem Road and Interstate 35, his lawyer said.
In view of the charges lodged against Allouche, it would be important to know what the vetting process was that enabled him to be put in a position of trust. He was deployed with American troops in Iraq as a translator. This means that he may have assisted in the questioning and vetting of suspected terrorists and with those applying to work with our military. This raises some obvious and important questions.
What classified documents or people did he have had access to? Did he come to meet with covert officers whose identities must be preserved? Did he meet with suspected terrorists and, perhaps, have the capability to alter what the record reflects that they did or did not say? Might he have learned the identities of foreign nationals who for whatever reason decided to become cooperators? Has this endangered their lives and the operations that they were providing information for? Might he mistranslated statements made by terrorists seeking to gain entry to military bases to subsequently kill American soldiers?
The Allouche case is hardly an isolated one. Furthermore, the threat of terrorism is not just limited to Iranian citizens but may involve terrorists from other countries that are funded and otherwise supported by Iran.
Let us now consider yet another example of ineptitude that is beyond description or comprehension.
The Inspector General that has responsibility for the Witness Protection Program, conducted an audit of that program and found gaping holes in the system. While it is important for the government to protect witnesses whose testimony and information is vital to conducting successful investigations and prosecutions of criminals and terrorists, it must also be remembered that witnesses can themselves, pose a threat to public safety. The Witness Protection Program is commonly known by an acronym, WITSEC that stands for “Witness Security.”
Perhaps the important WITSEC program should henceforth be referred to as “WITLESS Security!”
This is not the good news Attorney General Eric Holder was likely hoping for. A public memorandum issued on Thursday by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General indicates that in July 2012 the U.S. Marshal Service, the federal law enforcement agency of the DoJ of Tommy Lee Jones notoriety, was unable to locate two “known or suspected terrorists” participating in the Witness Security Program, the well-known protection program (of Goodfellas fame) administered by the Marshal Service. “Through its investigative efforts,” the Inspector General writes, the agency “concluded that one individual was and the other individual was believed to be residing outside the United States.”
The mishap was apparently one of many incidents where the agency inadvertently allowed protected witnesses, who were also identified as “known or suspected terrorists,” to travel freely out of and within the United States. Indeed, the agency is only beginning to track how many witnesses have been tagged as such. From the inspector’s report:
We found that the Department did not definitively know how many known or suspected terrorists were admitted into the [Witness Security Program]. The Department has idenitifed a small but significant number of USMS WITSEC Program participants as known or suspected terrorists. As of March 2013, the Deparment is continuing to review its more than 18,000 WITSEC case files to determine whether additional known or suspected terrorists have been admitted into the program.
The 18-page report goes on to list a number of problems (described as “significant issues concerning national security”) with the way the U.S. Marshal Service deals with suspected terrorists, such as neglecting to share valuable case information with other agencies like the F.B.I.
Here is a truly disconcerting paragraph from the CNN report:
The IG summary said that although the Marshals Service was giving known or suspected terrorists who participated in the WITSEC program and their dependents new names and identity documentation, the Justice Department “was not authorizing the disclosure to the Terrorist Screening Center,” which operates the terrorist watch list that helps provide information to the Transportation Security Administration’s No-Fly and Selectee lists. “Therefore it was possible for known or suspected terrorists to fly on commercial airplanes in or over the United States and evade one of the government’s primary means of identifying and tracking terrorists’ movements and actions,” the summary said.
Think about that paragraph the next time you wait to be screen by the TSA before you board an airliner.
The report focused on statements made by Senator Dianne Feinstein, who, at the time, chaired the Senate’s Intelligence Committee, when she was interviewed for CNN’s program, “State of the Union.”
Here is how the report began:
Interviewed on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said she believed that there are now more terrorists with the technological means to carry out a bombing in the U.S.
Here is an additional important excerpt from the Huffington Post article:
“I think terror is up worldwide,” said Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee. “There are new bombs, very big bombs, trucks being reinforced for those bombs. There are bombs that go through magnetometers. The bomb-maker is still alive. There are more groups than ever. And there is huge malevolence out there.”
Feinstein added that there was “a real displaced aggression in this very fundamentalist jihadist Islamic community, and that is that the West is responsible for everything that goes wrong and that the only thing that’s going to solve this is Islamic Sharia law.”
This report began with this unambiguous assessment:
The U.S. is in greater danger of a terrorist attack than it was prior to September 11 and has less ability to prevent such aggression by Islamist radicals, key congressional intelligence leaders said Sunday.
On September 20, 2013 CAPS (Californians for Population Stabilization) posted my article about the failures of the vetting process for alien applicants who apply for immigration benefits, “Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Background Checks Require a Reality Check.” The focus of my commentary was that simply running the unverifiable name an applicant provides in an application for an immigration benefit leaves the proverbial door wide open to aliens to use false aliases- especially when we are discussing aliens who have evaded the inspections process designed, in part, to prevent terrorists, criminals and fugitives from entering the United States.
In the parlance of the open borders / immigration anarchists, these aliens are “undocumented.” Such aliens have no official, reliable identity documents to verify their true identities including their names, dates of birth or even countries of birth.
There is no way to readily determine when, where or how such aliens actually entered the United States .
Running their fingerprints may well not yield any meaningful results. Many times the fingerprints from aliens from Third World countries or countries that do not have good relations with the United States will simply come back as a “no hit.”
The next time you hear some politician talk about “First securing the U.S./Mexican border” I want you to consider what the 9/11 Commission had to say about the way to counter terror threats-
Approximately a decade ago, on March 10, 2005 I testified before a hearing conducted by the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims on the topic, “INTERIOR IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT RESOURCES.”
My prepared testimony at that hearing included a quote from the 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel. Here is an excerpt from my testimony that included that quote:
The 9/11 Commission ultimately came to recognize the critical nature of immigration law enforcement where the War on Terror is concerned. In fact, page 49 of the report entitled, 9/11 and Terrorist Travel, A Staff Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States contains a sentence that reads, Thus abuse of the immigration system and a lack of interior immigration enforcement were unwittingly working together to support terrorist activity. This page incidentally is contained in the chapter entitled, Terrorist Travel and Embedding Tactics.
The issue of the interior enforcement of our immigration laws is a critical- indeed, key component of national security and today, under the wrong-headed policies of the administration- there is no meaningful enforcement of our immigration laws from within the interior of the United States. This encourages still more illegal immigration. To paraphrase my testimony at subsequent hearing conducted by the Senate Immigration Subcommittee approximately two years ago- the failures of the immigration system and statements made by political leaders about the “solution” to millions of illegal aliens who evaded the vital inspections process amount to firing the starter’s pistol for aspiring illegal aliens from around the world. The message is clear- if you can ultimately enter the United States, no matter how you manage to do this, you will ultimately be given lawful status.
It is dishonest and misleading for our leaders to state that in order to gain control of our immigration system we must “First secure the (U.S./Mexican border).” On February 5, 2015 FrontPage Magazine posted my article, “The ‘Secure Our Border First Act’ Deception” that exposed this supposed “solution” to America’s immigration crisis. Although that bill failed to pass, it provided evidence that members of Congress of both political parties are as much a part of the problem as the administration.
The administration should be given the MVP award by international terrorist and criminal organizations, providing millions of illegal aliens with lawful status and admitting tens of thousands of refugees who are not being vetted.
On February 28th I was a guest on Fox & Friends and interviewed by Anna Kooiman on the broad issue of the risks to America’s national security that are created by our dysfunctional immigration system, especially where the political asylum program is concerned. We also narrowed our focus to the situation that now exists in Minneapolis, MN where a community of 30,000 Somali refugees was established.
On February 24, 2015 Progressives For Immigration Reform posted my commentary, “The Immigration Factor Naturalized U.S. Citizen Added to FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List.”. about a naturalized United States citizen who was born in Somalia and has been placed on the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorists List.” The FBI press release actually expressed extreme concern that because this individual who is now believed fighting on the side of ISIS overseas had been a taxi driver in Washington, DC and therefore has an intimate familiarity with the infrastructure of our nation’s Capitol that could help him or his confederates to launch a debilitating attack in Washington.
On December 19, 2014 Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) posted my extensive article,
On the local level so-called “Sanctuary Cities” and even “Sanctuary States” are provided outrageous opportunities for sleepers to embed themselves in their jurisdictions. On January 23, 2015 FrontPage Magazine published my article, “Sleeper Cells: The Immigration Component of the Threat” which focused on how terrorists are able to hide in plain sight.
The lunacy must stop before, God forbid, the next terror attack(s). Our borders and our immigration laws are our first line of defense and last line of defense against those who would kill us.
Someone needs to send Mr. Obama the memo: “Our president is supposed to defend and protect our citizens and our allies and frighten our enemies.” Somehow it would seem he got that memo’s message reversed!
Michael Cutler is a retired Senior Special Agent of the former INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) whose career spanned some 30 years. He served as an Immigration Inspector, Immigration Adjudications Officer and spent 26 years as an agent who rotated through all of the squads within the Investigations Branch. For half of his career he was assigned to the Drug Task Force. He has testified before well over a dozen congressional hearings, provided testimony to the 9/11 Commission as well as state legislative hearings around the United States and at trials where immigration is at issue. He hosts his radio show, “The Michael Cutler Hour,” on Friday evenings on BlogTalk Radio. His personal website is http://michaelcutler.net/.
Anyone who is tracking the news these days, and genuinely cares for the security of Israel and the future of the US – not to mention Europe and the Mideast – has got to have an extremely heavy heart. We are facing some very dark times.
With regard to Israel, serious thinkers are pondering the best way to survive the 22 months until Obama is out of office. But the problem is actually a great deal bigger than the issue of how Obama is behaving towards Israel – as much as this remains huge for us here.
Obama. In addition to his irrational and venomous attacks on Israel, there is his courting of Iran. One is the flip side of the other: Alienate Israel, buddy up to Iran.
We are now a mere two days away from the presumed deadline on a signed framework deal between Iran and P5 + 1. (In reality this is a negotiation between Iran and the US, as the other negotiating partners, with the exception of France, have largely pulled back.) How likely it is that a deal really will take place depends on whom you ask. What is clear is that Obama – and Kerry, operating in his stead – are doing all they can to achieve this “diplomatic success.”
Because of Obama’s eagerness, what we are seeing is the stuff of nightmares. Definitely nightmares, as it’s hard to believe this could be happening in the light of day. The Iranians – recognizing very well with whom they are dealing – have consistently stonewalled on US demands. Last Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal broke with a story on yet another US pullback, each in turn design to conciliate the Iranians (emphasis added):
“Talks over Iran’s nuclear program have hit a stumbling block a week before a key deadline because Tehran has failed to cooperate with a United Nations probe into whether it tried to build atomic weapons in the past, say people close to the negotiations.
“In response, these people say, the U.S. and its diplomatic partners are revising their demands on Iran to address these concerns before they agree to finalize a nuclear deal, which would repeal U.N. sanctions against the country.”
The issue is “possible military dimensions” (PMD). As Omri Ceren of The Israel Project has explained (emphasis added):
“PMD disclosure is about base-lining all of Iran’s nuclear activities – not just its known civilian parts – as a prerequisite for verifying that those activities have been halted under a nuclear deal. Iran has uranium mines; some are civilian and some are military. It has centrifuges; some are operated by civilians and some by IRGC personnel. It has uranium stockpiles; some are maintained by civilians and some by the military. There’s no way for future inspectors to verify that Iran has shuttered its mines, stopped its centrifuges, and shipped off its stockpile – for instance – unless the IAEA knows where all the mines and stockpiles are.
“No PMDs mean no verification.”
And there’s more. On Thursday, AP reported (emphasis added):
“The United States is considering letting Tehran run hundreds of centrifuges at a once-secret, fortified underground bunker in exchange for limits on centrifuge work and research and development at other sites…”
“Allowing the Iranians to enrich at Fordow means they could kick out inspectors at any time and have a fully-functioning enrichment facility hardened against military intervention. Since sanctions will be unraveled by design at the beginning of a deal, that means the West would have literally zero options to stop a breakout…
“The White House started out promising that Fordow would be shuttered, then that it would be converted into an R&D plant where no enrichment would take place, and now they’ve collapsed.”
Add to the above the fact that the US is ignoring the violent hegemonic encroachment of Iranian proxies across various areas of the Middle East – as if it were only the issue of nuclear capacity that must be dealt with.
There are, of course, Syrian president Assad, and Iranian proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon (and Syria). But most recently what we’ve seen is the takeover of Yemen by the Shiite Houthis, also supported by Iran. Houthi control of Yemen has enormous importance because of its strategic location, adjacent to Saudi Arabia. From the Yemenite port city of Aden, the straits of Bab el-Mandeb, which are only about 20 miles wide, can be controlled. The straits constitute a major chokepoint – so the party that controls the area has the capacity to block marine traffic from the Indian Ocean via the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 3.8 million barrels of oil and refined petroleum products pass through the straits daily on their way to destinations in Asia, Europe and the US.
This is before we mention that increased Iranian backed presence in the Middle East is worrisome to Israel.
But the US is not paying a whole lot of attention. US special forces fled Yemen a while ago, and US negotiators are not raising this issue. There are commentators who believe that the US should have walked out on negotiations until Iran withdrew support for the Houthis. But that might have jeopardized the deal, which has first priority for Obama – the rest of the world be damned.
You want to know how crazy it is? While Obama is promoting diplomatic ties with Iran and “reaching out” to the Iranians, we can see in a MEMRI video that Iranian leader Khamenei cries “Death to America.”
Amir Hossein Motaghi is an Iranian journalist who was supposed to be covering the negotiations, but has defected because he could not longer tolerate Iranian demands that he write his reports according to their specifications.
In a TV interview, he has now said:
“The U.S. negotiating team are mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the 5+1 countries and convince them of a deal.”
If this does not blow your mind, you are not getting it.
What I really cannot grasp – even beyond the question of how a man such as Obama secured two terms in the White House – is why the other negotiating nations are being so passive, when Iran is a threat to them, or why the American people are not truly up in arms (meant figuratively here).
There are just a small number of possible recourses with regard to this situation:
The first is the US Congress, many of whose members – Republicans, but a handful of Democrats as well – indeed are grievously distressed by what is going on. What is required is a sufficient number of votes in the Senate to over-ride a veto by Obama, so that sanctions to weaken Iran can be put in place appropriately. We are seeing signs that this may be possible.
“The U.S. Senate voted unanimously on Thursday for a non-binding amendment to a budget bill intended to make it easier to re-impose sanctions if Iran violates a nuclear deal.
“The vote was 100-0 for the amendment, sponsored by Republican Senator Mark Kirk, which would establish a fund to cover the cost of imposing sanctions if Tehran violated terms of an interim nuclear agreement now in effect, or the final agreement negotiators hope to reach before July.”
According to Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) there is time between the signing of a framework agreement now and the final agreement in June – at which point details would be factored in – when diplomatic maneuvering can still be done. This would involve, it seems to me, key communication with France first – as France has the greatest unease about what is taking place.
Beyond this, there is the military option, with the moment of truth advancing rapidly. We are now probably past the 11th hour, perhaps at about 15 minutes to midnight.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has said, again and again, that he will never permit Iran to become a nuclear power. He has also made it clear that Israel is not bound by the terms of a very bad P5 + 1 deal with Iran.
Just today, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, a close Netanyahu associate, declared on public radio that Israel “will not be bound by an accord concluded by others and will know how to defend itself.” (Emphasis added)
What our government will do in the end, and what our military is capable of doing, remains to be seen. Israel cannot take out Iran’s capacity for nuclear development entirely – but can, as I understand it, do considerable damage.
The scuttlebutt is that Netanyahu wants to attack, although I know people who are convinced he never will. (Please, do not write to share opinions on this.) Some months ago, information was revealed indicating that at one point Defense Minister Ya’alon was opposed to an attack but has now changed his mind.
A key factor here is the readiness of Saudi Arabia, which is absolutely enraged with Obama’s inaction on Iran, to lend passive assistance, at a minimum, should Israel decide to attack. The Saudis would be delighted – make no mistake about this. This assistance might make a difference in the end. Because the other piece of the story is that Obama is trying his best to track Israeli intentions and to block us.
Leon Panetta – former director of the CIA and Secretary of Defense under Obama, gave an interview to Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC three days ago that merits mention here. Put simply, what he said was that he learned at the CIA and Defense that “The Iranians can’t be trusted.”
This is the bottom line. Said Panetta (emphasis added):
“…the real test is going to be, and the whole world will be looking at it — the test will be have we truly made sure that Iran can be stopped from developing a nuclear weapon. And to do that in my book demands transparency and it demands accessibility so that we have a firm inspection regime that will guarantee they cannot do this.”
Precisely! And that is never, ever going to happen.
I recently encountered an article that asked, in its lead: Which side is Obama on? That, my friends, is a rhetorical question. It is clear that he is on Iran’s side.
That being the case, it is inevitable that the president would come down on Netanyahu in every way possible. He wants to discredit him, and weaken him, and delegitimize his position, for Netanyahu is the key stumbling block to what he is trying to achieve. There is no way for Bibi to make it “right” with Obama. It’s not really about the negotiations with the Palestinian Arabs or other related issues.
And facing the truth straight on also helps explain why Obama worked so hard behind the scenes to defeat Netanyahu in the elections, and why he is so frustrated now.
Just a moment here, then, to look at what is happening at home. I wrote last week about the apparent halting of building scheduled for Har Homa in Jerusalem (and indeed I’ve received no information that it was anything else such as a bureaucratic mix-up). That did not sit well. Since I wrote about that, information has surfaced about Israel agreeing to release to the Palestinian Authority tax monies that had been collected – with some held back against money owed to Israel for electricity and other services. On top of this, there is apparently a deal for Israel to sell gas to Gaza, with Qatar paying the bill.
This did not sound good. Really not good. Certainly at first blush it looks like a caving to Obama under pressure, because there is so much talk about Israel’s “readiness’ for a “two state” deal.
But that’s at first blush, and I’ve been struggling with this long and hard over the last couple of days. Because there is another way to look at this. If Netanyahu is making concessions to please Obama it is the height of foolishness, a terrible weakness, as nothing will please Obama where we are concerned. The only way to respond to him is with strength. Anything that smacks of weakness will simply invite more pressure.
But suppose Netanyahu is doing this to remove some of the poison spewed by Obama (Netanyahu is a racist, he does not want peace, etc.), in order to deal more placidly with others? Suppose he wants to approach Democrats in Congress conveying the image of someone who is willing to compromise for peace, so that they will hear him on Iran? Suppose he wants to speak with French leaders – who are eager for “two states” – from a position that will make them more amenable to his message? Or with other European countries? Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz suggests several nations are uneasy about the deal.
In light of the enormous weight of what our prime minister has to deal with, I prefer to cut him some slack here, for the moment, and see how the situation evolves. Today he told the Cabinet:
“This deal, as it appears to be emerging, bears out all of our fears, and even more than that.”
I had hoped to discuss some matters related to the formation of the coalition here, but will table this. Before closing, I want simply to look at a couple of relative bright spots in an otherwise grim picture.
Saudi Arabia, alarmed by the Houthi take-over in Yemen, and absolutely furious at Obama for opting out of involvement, decided to act, in concert with other Sunni allies. This was promising, as the Iranian takeover by proxy in Yemen is being pushed back as a result of Saudi airstrikes that are being hailed a success. There is further talk of ground forces in Yemen, although my information is that it will not be necessary, as there are tribal groups in Yemen that are ready to act on the ground against the Houthis.
Even further, the Arab League, at the closure of a meeting in Egypt, has announced in principle the creation of a joint Arab rapid response force. Egypt, which would be a prime mover in the establishment of such a force, declared that it would consist of some 40,000 elite troops, backed by jets, warships and light armor. What this means is that even though the US has totally abdicated its role of confronting Iranian regional aggression, there are Sunni Arab states presumably ready to step up, lest the feared and detested Iran take over the region.
Then see this report that says Hezbollah – operating at the behest of Iran – has been stopped by paramilitary rebel forces from establishing a major presence on the Golan directly adjacent to the Israeli border.
That’s been the overriding climate here in Israel for several days now – whether it is a mood of anguish or of euphoria, it has all been rather frenetic.
In the days leading up to the election, I observed (and experienced) a mood akin to grief, at the prospect that Buji Herzog might win; this then morphed into jubilation at the subsequent electoral victory of Bibi.
But in some quarters on the right, there was an over-reaction. Bibi was hailed as the leader of the free world (there is a case for this, as he’s the only one who has spoken out on Iran with courage), and it was assumed that he would now have the latitude to move forward in significant ways. There was even an assumption voiced that he would now be able to annex Judea and Samaria.
Because he garnered 30 mandates? He still has to face down the world, and form his coalition. Ain’t gonna happen now, no how, however fervent the desire that it should.
What Bibi had said in the course of the last days of the campaign was that there would be no Palestinian state established on his watch as prime minister. The day before the election, in an interview, he declared:
“Anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state, anyone who is going to evacuate territories today, is simply giving a base for attacks to the radical Islam against Israel. This is the true reality that was created here in the last few years.” (Emphasis added)
Those on the left, who say otherwise, are “sticking their head in the sand, time and time again.”
Bibi was only stating an obvious truth that anyone with a minimal grasp of the situation can see. His statement is not radical. It could have (we might have said, should have) gone further: No state, because it’s our land. But he didn’t say this.
After the election, the Obama administration came out swinging at Bibi. The American government, it was announced, was going to be re-evaluating its relationship with Israel and might opt to change its policy regarding standing with us in the UN.
Again, enormous anxiety: What if the Security Council voted to demand that we move back to the ‘67 line, or created a full Palestinian state?
My own feeling on this was that there was a certain amount of grandstanding in this statement of “re-evaluation.” It was, quite simply, a threat: You don’t want to move with me in my desire to achieve a two-state solution? (Which solution is impossible anyway, but never mind that.) This is what you have to look forward to.
I believe that Obama will do whatever he can to damage us, that there is an irrational hatred at work with regard to how he responds to us. For example, he has just allowed a forty-year agreement guaranteeing that Israel would be able to purchase oil to lapse. A maliced act:
But at the same time, I believe he retains sufficient rationality to do what he perceives as being most prudent or in his own best interest – in terms of achieving his own goals, looking good, etc.
My first thought on learning about the “re-evaluation” was that the possible scenarios in the UN that were being projected carried within them their own stumbling blocks: It was very likely not as simple as was being suggested. The UN, according to international law, cannot “create” a state; and to vote for Israel to move back to the ‘67 lines conflicts with Security Council Resolution 242, which said this was not required.
Israel, it seemed to me, had to consult with the finest of international lawyers, military advisors and diplomats and respond offensively. It might be pointed out, for example, that a UN resolution demanding that we move back to the ‘67 lines would render Oslo – which requires negotiations to determine a border – deader than dead. Deader than it already is now. We might let US officials know that if this were the case, there would be absolutely no cooperation with the Palestinian Authority at all from the day the vote was taken. No tax collection, no security provisions, no electricity or water, no cooperation in marketing of produce (all of these things spelled out in Oslo). Obama might think twice about this, and the repercussions that would follow.
As it is, Netanyahu took the step of “explaining” what he meant. In an interview early on Thursday, he said:
“I don’t want a one-state solution. I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution. But for that, circumstances have to change.”
In other words, don’t point a finger at me – my commitment has stayed the same. It’s the situation that is different.
Bibi was then accused here in Israel of backtracking on his pre-election position of no Palestinian state. But if you look carefully, it’s not quite so – although his emphasis has certainly shifted. Painful as it is to hear him reiterate commitment to a “two state solution,” he did say there would be no Palestinian state because of a changed situation; he never actually said that he had changed his mind on two-states, in principle.
My first impulse was Oi! Did he have to say this? He backed off – or gave the appearance of backing off – in the face of Obama’s threats. This can come across as weakness and encourage even more threats.
But I’ve since re-thought the matter. The situation Bibi is facing on several fronts is horrendous. I think it behooves us to cut him a bit of slack here, if he has decided that minimizing the tensions with the US administration is in Israel’s best interest right now.
What must be watched carefully are the decisions he makes once there is a government. He has said that there will be no more releasing of prisoners as a “gesture.” If the PA should demand this, and Obama push for it, we must see that it does not happen. This, or similar other “gestures.”
The big question is whether Bibi means it when he speaks of a “two-state solution,” whether he meant it when he gave his Bar Ilan speech. My guessing is that this is not his ideology, but his MO – which involves “playing the game” at some level, rather than being confrontational. If he says he is for two-states, but then refuses to move forward in real terms because of the security risks implicit, he will be holding the line for the short term. (We’ll get to the long term when there is recognition at the highest levels of government that we have legal rights in Judea and Samaria, and all of Jerusalem.)
At first, Obama declared himself suspicious of the sincerity of Bibi’s statement. But by later on Thursday, he had called our prime minister to offer congratulations. Reports are that it was a “tough” conversation, but what was made public was that the two leaders had agreed to move forward on ways to find peace (whatever that means).
US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, said today that there was no choice but to examine Netanyahu’s “confusing” statements. But he also indicated that at the moment there are no changes in policy.
These distinguished gentleman forthrightly call Obama on his irrational antipathy to Netanyahu.
It is said that this very autocratic/non-democratic president does as he pleases. But this is not quite so. Congress can cut funding for programs that Obama wants to see sustained, and can use its leverage to make things difficult for a president who chooses to make matters difficult for Israel.
Senator Cotton has now said he will support legislation to cut US funding to the UN, if it takes action against Israel.
And this morning Senator John McCain (R-AZ) severely criticized Obama on CNN:
Noting that Israel had a “free and fair” democratic election – “the only nation in the region that will have such a thing,” he said it’s time for Obama to “get over it,” if he doesn’t like the results.
“Get over your temper tantrum, Mr. President. It’s time that we work together with our Israeli friends and try to stem this tide of ISIS and Iranian movement throughout the region which is threatening the very fabric of the region. The least of your problems is what Bibi Netanyahu said during a reelection campaign.”
I would like to briefly comment on one accusation that is being made against Netanyahu: It is being said that he made “racist” remarks against Israeli Arabs during the election, pointing out that they were coming to vote in large numbers, which required the right wing to come out in large numbers as well.
That is not quite accurate. Netanyahu’s concern was with the fact that US money had been utilized to promote the left in the campaign, and it was believed that US money was paying for the buses to bring the Arabs to the polls. This is clearly not as it should be, and he was calling for a strong response against it.
One very interesting news item helps put lie to the accusation that Netanyahu is racist: In one Bedouin village in the north of Israel, over 76% of the votes were cast for Netanyahu and Likud:
As to the election, the early stages of coalition building are in process now. I will write about this when next I post. It is not a pretty picture, not as I write tonight, at any rate.
I cannot close without a mention of the vile/hateful/destructive and totally perverse positions of Obama, whatever his motivations (do NOT write to tell me what they are, please – this is rhetorical). Right after the elections here, the PLO moved to increase its connection with Hamas and Islamic Jihad in order to establish a “unity government.” I’ve lost count of how many times they’ve moved towards a unity government. But the point is that there can be no “negotiations” for a “two-state solution” if the PA is in bed with Hamas. And yet, from the Obama administration I’ve seen not a single word of criticism about this being “counterproductive” to peace – never mind threats to re-evaluate the US support for the PA.
But then again, what can we expect:
“An annual security report submitted recently to the US Senate by James Clapper, director of National Intelligence, removed both Iran and Hezbollah from the list of terrorism threats to the United States for the first time in years.” (emphasis added)
There are officials here in Jerusalem who believe that Obama’s attack on Netanyahu was designed to deflect attention from the nuclear negotiations, which should be coming to a close within days. Obama may be seeking ways to “discourage” Netanyahu from speaking out on what is taking place.
“Has the U.S. already conceded a new era of nuclear proliferation?” and concluded that “Mr. Obama is so bent on an Iran deal that he will make any concession to get one.”
As we should know by now, President Obama has no negotiating skills and even less understanding of the world the U.S. used to lead by virtue of its military power and democratic values.
If he succeeds in getting a deal, absent Congress doing anything about it, the Wall Street Journal says it will result in “a very different world than the one we have been living in since the dawn of the nuclear age. A world with multiple nuclear states, including some with revolutionary religious impulses or hegemonic ambitions, is a very dangerous place.”
Yes, but. We already live in such a world and the real question is whether, absent their “revolutionary” rhetoric, shouting “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!” do those at the top levels of the Iranian ruling structure want to risk having their nation destroyed if they were ever to use nuclear weapons?
No nation on Earth has done so since the U.S. ended the war with the Japanese Empire with two atom bombs rather than put at risk the lives of our troops in an invasion. Why do we think Iran would use their nukes if they acquired them?
The short answer is that the United Nations has passed six resolutions to deny Iran the capability of developing a military nuclear program and the current negotiations, the P5+1, while led by the U.S., are joined by Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom and Germany.
Nations in the Middle East and around the world are inclined to think the Iranian leadership would use such weapons. Obama is intent on ignoring their judgment.
If you want to know why Iran continues to be involved in negotiations to restrict its nuclear weapons agenda, you need to know that the U.S. will release $11.9 billion to Iran by the time the talks are concluded in June. That’s the figure cited by our own State Department.
On January 21, the U.S. released $490 million, the third such payment since December 10. For sitting at the negotiations table, Iran will secure $4.9 billion in unfrozen cash assets via ten separate payments by the U.S. It had received $4.2 billion in similar payments under the 2013 interim agreement with the U.S. and was given another $2.9 billion by the Obama administration last year in an absurd effort to get them to agree to end their effort to become a nuclear power.
In a sense there are several Iran’s. There is the Iran of the Supreme Leader and the Revolutionary Guard, both committed to the Islamic revolution that brought the present day Iran into being in 1979. They value having a nuclear weapons capability no less than the U.S. or other nations do.
Then there are the Iranian realists who would far prefer a detente between the U.S. and Iran because they believe it would be in both our interests. These are the voters who elected Hassan Rouhani in 2013 to replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who has served in office from 2005. They represent some 70% of its citizens would want peace, trade and normal relations with the U.S. Their leaders, however, have thoughts of hegemonic power in the Middle East to advance Shiite Islam.
The problem is that many of the Iranian leadership do not speak in terms other than an utter contempt for the U.S. and with an outspoken enmity for any nation that opposes the expansion of Islam. In late January, one of its newspapers, Kayhan, reported that “Professors, students and employees at the Imam Sadeq University, condemning the insults against the prophet of Islam by Charlie Hebdo…demand closure of the French embassy in Tehran.”
The demonstrators carried placards read, “I am not Charlie, I am the innocent child of Gaza”, “Death to America”, “Death to Israel”, “Death to Britain”, “Death to France”, ‘Death to Wahabism” and comparable signs all indicative of Iran’s hostility to any response to the terrorism it has sponsored for decades since the Islamic Revolution was initiated there in 1979.
On January 23, Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad-Javad Zarif, addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, saying “I do not believe that ten years of confrontation will have had any benefits for anyone. Ten years of sanctions has yielded 19,800 centrifuges, exactly that which the sanctions wanted to halt.”
There is no question that sanctions and the long negotiations have reduced Iran’s capacity to create nuclear weapons agenda. The current negotiations, however, are signaling an abandonment of that policy.
At Friday prayers in late January, Hojjat al-Eslam Zazem Sediqi told those in attendance “Our statesmen should know the enemy, should know with whom they are dealing and negotiating with…You are speaking with wild beasts which do not show mercy to (anyone) young or old, and who insult the Prophet, the most sacred of sacred.”
The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDC) maintains a constant monitoring of Iranian news media and government outlets. The reported news out of Iran paints a picture of fire-breathing zealots against a moderate political class and population. The question is whether the zealots will have the final word.
On January 28, Ali Alfoneh, a FDC senior fellow, authored a policy brief that concluded that “Even in the unlikely event that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his negotiating team reach a nuclear agreement with international negotiators, its implementation may well fall to the Islamic Revolutionary Corps…The IRGC’s vociferous opposition to nuclear concessions and improving ties with the West raises serious questions over whether future Iranian governments will uphold any nuclear deal that the current one signs.”
There are two major power centers in Iran, the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, and the IRGC. Rouhani is routinely referred to as “a moderate.” As Alfoneh noted, “Meanwhile, Rouhani’s cabinet is torn between public demands for jobs and human rights, the creeping infiltration of the IRGC, and the Supreme Leader’s dogged attempts to maintain the status quo at all costs.”
In late January, the Democrats on Capitol Hill, led by Robert Menendez (D-NJ) gave Obama another two months to reach a deal before they vote for new sanctions. In the House, progressives are urging their colleagues to hold off moving any legislation that would tighten economic penalties on Iran. At this point, the only thing that has worked has been sanctions and the return of frozen funds, a form of bribery.
Meanwhile, Iran has taken credit for the training and arming of Shiite rebels who overthrew the leadership in Yemen. Iran also supports the Hezbollah in Lebanon that is threatening Israel from the area of the Golan. In reprisal for a recent attack, Israel responded with an air strike that killed an Iranian general. None of this helps position Iran as a potential peaceful partner.
This is why John Boehner, the Speaker of the House, has invited Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to address a joint session of Congress. He did so without consulting the White House, but we should keep in mind that Obama released five Taliban generals from Gitmo without consulting Congress.
Netanyahu will spell out what he has said in the past. A nuclear Iran is an existential and a potentially catastrophic threat to Israel. He will likely point out that it is a threat to Saudi Arabia and all the other nations in the Middle East and worldwide.
The question is whether we are dealing with rational people leading Iran or not. In the end, we are asked to assume that even the Supreme Leader and the Revolutionary Guards want to live, want their children and grandchildren to live, and want their nation to continue. That is what Obama is betting on. The problem with that is that Islam puts a high value on martyrdom.
You know something is terribly wrong when three former Secretaries of State, Henry Kissinger, George Schultz and Madeleine Albright tell a Senate Armed Services Committee that the President of the United States is an idiot with no idea how to conduct foreign affairs. Well, they didn’t say it in those words, but that was pretty much the message. That was January 29.
Two days earlier retired 4-Star General James Matthis, former head of U.S. Central Command, former Army Vice Chief of Staff and 4-Star General Jack Keane, and Navy Admiral William Fallon, also a former CentCom chief, had also testified before the Committee. They had a similar message as the diplomats. Obama and the other idiots in the White House are completely clueless regarding the threat of radical Islam in general and a potential nuclear Iran in particular.
This is, after all, a White House that is trying to call those intent on taking over the entire Middle East and, after that, the rest of the world anything other than “terrorists.” They have used terms such as “insurgents”, “activists” and “militants.” Here at home, they are still referring to the killings at Fort Hood as “workplace violence.” Don’t any of these idiots understand that the terrorists, whether they call themselves al Qaeda or the Islamic State, Hezbollah, Hamas or any other name all constitute the same threat?
That’s what the generals addressed. They told the Senate committee that absence of a White House strategy makes the ISIS, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan wars “unwinnable.” I have been around since the end of World War II and that stretch of U.S. history is one in which we fought to a stalemate in Korea and a loss in Vietnam. After we won the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, Obama pulled out and now they are lost too. There was a time when Americans and their leaders knew how to win wars.
Indeed, there was a time when Americans preferred to elect generals to be their President, starting with George Washington. Among those with that rank were Andrew Jackson, Zachary Taylor, Franklin Pierce, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, Ruther P. Hayes, James A. Garfield. Chester A. Arthur. Benjamin Harrison, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. All the others had also served in the military in some capacity…except Barack Hussein Obama.
Obama not only doesn’t have experience in the military, he doesn’t seem to like them much. He has done everything he can to reduce our military capacity to fight a war anywhere or to show any genuine respect for the troops on active duty. The only uniform he ever wore was as an Indonesian Boy Scout.
Retired Marine Gen. Jim Mattis told the Congress “America needs a refresh national security strategy. We need to come out from our reactive crouch and take a firm, strategic stance in defense of our values.” Apparently those values don’t matter to the White House or to those left-wingers who wet their pants over the popularity of “Sniper”, a film that pays tribute to our troops who fought the war in Iraq.
Under Obama’s term in office, radical Islam has increased four-fold in the past five years, ISIS ten times since 2012 and Iran has masterminded control of the capitols in Beirut, Lebanon, Damascus, Syria, Baghdad, Iraq, and now in Sanaa, Yemen. It has been the power behind Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.
Gen. Keane described Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan as an “absolute strategic failure.” He called radical Islam “the major security challenge of our generation.”
Regarding Iran, Gen. Keane said, “In 1980, Iran declared the United States as a strategic enemy and its goal is to drive the United State out of the region, achieve regional hegemony, and destroy the state of Israel.”
“Is there any doubt that Iran is on the march and is systematically moving toward their regional hegemonic objective?” asked Gen. Keane. “Iran has been on a 20-year journey to acquire nuclear weapons, simply because they know it guarantees preservation of the regime and makes them, along with their partners, the dominant power in the region, thereby capable of expanding their control and influence. Add to this their ballistic missile delivery system and Iran is not only a threat to the region, but to Europe, as well.” The U.S. in time will be in missile range.
“We have no comprehensive strategy to stop it or defeat it,” said Gen. Keane.
Thanks to Barack Obama, the United States of America can no longer be seen as the world leader, opposing the forces that seek to impose control. Former allies, particularly in the Middle East, no longer have any confidence that we would come to their defense if they were attacked.
Thanks to Barack Obama, our enemies have been emboldened and our allies confused, but it is not that confusing. He is an idiot who lacks any grasp of history’s lessons and he is a coward who cannot be expected to seriously respond to our own and our allies’ enemies.
Yesterday, four rockets were launched from a Syrian-held position roughly seven kilometers inside of Syria; two of the rockets landed in the Israeli Golan Heights. They landed in open areas and there were no casualties. Military sources identified this as a joint effort of Hezbollah and Syrian forces; the IDF said that Syria would be held responsible for whatever happened inside of its territory. Within hours, Israel responded with an artillery attack that yielded a direct hit on the source of the rockets.
That was yesterday. Today was much worse. This time the attack was from Lebanon, not Syria, and it claimed casualties. Some five or six Kornet anti-tank missiles were launched in an ambush attack against military vehicles traveling on a road about two kilometers inside of Israel, in the village of Ghajar. The launching site is estimated to have been four or five kilometers from the IDF vehicles.
Two IDF soldiers were killed: Staff Sergeant Dor Nini, 20, and Major Yochai Kalangel, 25 (on the left below).
Reports are not consistent, but some additional seven soldiers were injured.
At the same time, there were mortar shells aimed at IDF bases in the area.
Israel responded with return fire into Lebanon, and declared the Lebanese responsible for what happens on their soil. As was to be expected, the Lebanese are furious with Hezbollah for operating against Israel from their territory.
Hezbollah declared the attack to be retribution for the death of the “martyrs” in the convoy that Israel had hit.
At this point in time, additional information is scarce. I post now simply to get the word out (not sure how widely this will be covered); more will follow in a day or two.
I cannot sign off, however, without noting that yesterday marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the death camp of Auschwitz. Survivors – fewer in number every year -assembled there for a major ceremony.
Credit: Daily Mail
The message is that we dare not forget. And that message carries enormous urgency today, as anti-Semitism in all its virulence is on the rise.
The difference for Jews now as versus 70 years ago is the existence of the State of Israel. Our leaders here have a solemn obligation to defend Israel with great strength and determination. Whether the world likes this or not is irrelevant.
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)
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.”
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.”