Category: Iran

Trump’s post-truth presidency

Trump’s attack on his own intelligence services was both extraordinary and expected

By Hussein Ibish in The National, Feb 2, 2019

 

This week starkly illustrated a remarkable feature of Donald Trump’s administration: this president does not do policy; he only does politics.

Policy professionals always struggle to square sound foreign policy with the effective domestic politics that political leaders require. This tension cannot be completely resolved, although its intensity varies, depending on circumstances and personalities.

This conundrum has now sunk to its American nadir.

It’s not just that most current administration officials are internationalist hawks, while the president has neo-isolationist impulses.

It’s that Mr Trump simply does not see international strategic problems as arising against a backdrop of verifiable realities. Instead of a realistic representation of circumstances as they are, akin to a photograph, he sees a blank canvas, on which he can paint whatever surrealist landscapes best suit his agenda.

Hence, this week’s bizarre confrontation between Mr Trump and all 17 US intelligence agencies, led by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.

On January 29, Mr Coats, flanked by the CIA and FBI chiefs, presented their 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment to Congress.

The annual National Intelligence Strategy document, on which it is based, is usually released in a redacted public version and a classified one for those with clearance.

This year, intelligence chiefs took the extraordinary step of issuing their entire strategy publicly.

Mr Coats said that they wanted to reassure the public that the agencies remain committed to producing “nuanced, independent, and unvarnished intelligence”, and not serving any other purpose.

That honesty and independence has been repeatedly questioned by Mr Trump who routinely denigrates US intelligence services, dismisses their findings, has compared them to Nazis and even sided with Russia’s Vladimir Putin over them.

The intelligence chiefs were essentially saying that, in light of the accusations the president has levelled against them, transparency was their best defence.

They knew they were provoking an argument they needed to win.

Certainly, they will have anticipated howls of protest from the White House, given that so many of their “independent and unvarnished” findings contradict core assertions that the president frequently cites as political rationalisations.

While Mr Trump constantly hypes the “progress” he has made with Pyongyang, the assessment finds that North Korea is “unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons” because its leaders view them as “critical to regime survival”.

It states that Russia has, indeed, engaged in election meddling, information warfare, and efforts to divide the West and undermine the post-Second World War international order. Mr Trump disputes all of this. He welcomes the division of the West, denigrates the international order, and dismisses allegations of Russian interference.

The assessment holds that, for all its other malign behaviour, Iran has not yet violated the terms of the nuclear agreement, which the president cites as a major reason for withdrawing from the deal.

While Mr Trump insists that ISIS has been thoroughly crushed to justify his order to withdraw all US forces from Syria, the assessment finds that it remains a potent threat.

And, most damningly, it makes no mention whatsoever of the entirely fictional “national security crisis” that has prompted Mr Trump to deploy thousands of US forces at the Mexican border and supposedly justifies building his wall.

The fact-based reality offered by the Annual Threat Assessment flatly refutes many fundamental claims Mr Trump relies on to justify his actions.

After the gauntlet was thrown down by the intelligence community, Mr Trump, inevitably, picked it up and hurled a series of insults, via Twitter, back at the agencies he characterises as the “deep state”. These included saying the intelligence services were simply “wrong” and that they “should go back to school”.

This is a particularly disturbing aspect of the relentless campaign of deinstitutionalisation this column has been consistently tracking. Yet again, Mr Trump is lashing out at another authoritative source of information and analysis that remains free of – or is actively resisting – his control.

He has admitted that he denounces the “fake news media” to blunt bad news or criticism of him by the press. He attacks his own intelligence services to rebut their contradictions of his ceaseless false claims.

As for the FBI and other police, Mr Trump is evidently concerned about what they may uncover about his activities, and those of his associates who have not yet been arrested or imprisoned.

Astonishingly, but true to form, he quickly compounded his assault on reality by tweeting that the intelligence chiefs’ statements had been “totally misquoted”, that they never really debunked his fraudulent claims, and that this profound and serious dispute isn’t real and was fabricated by the press.

Mr Trump’s biggest advantage in political and rhetorical fights seems to be his unique shamelessness and boundless willingness to lie when almost anyone else would at least think twice.

Clearly, there’s no room for “unvarnished intelligence” and other inconvenient facts that interfere with his political imperatives.

Mr Trump only does politics, but he heads a government full of highly competent experts. For their continued professionalism, they are traduced and abused by their own chief, who then blames journalists.

During an actual crisis – and there will eventually be one – the president and intelligence services must support each other with trust and confidence. But how can they, when the chasm between them is only widening as Mr Trump’s term staggers on?

Hussein Ibish is a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States ­Institute in Washington

 

https://www.thenational.ae/opinion/comment/trump-s-attack-on-his-own-intelligence-services-was-both-extraordinary-and-expected-1.820751

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2019/02/03/trumps-post-truth-presidency/

Religious ideology is a tool

dwight-david-eisenhower-richard-avedonWhy the Arabs Don’t Want Us in Syria

By Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., February 22, 2016

 

In part because my father was murdered by an Arab, I’ve made an effort to understand the impact of U.S. policy in the Mideast and particularly the factors that sometimes motivate bloodthirsty responses from the Islamic world against our country. As we focus on the rise of the Islamic State and search for the source of the savagery that took so many innocent lives in Paris and San Bernardino, we might want to look beyond the convenient explanations of religion and ideology. Instead we should examine the more complex rationales of history and oil—and how they often point the finger of blame back at our own shores.

America’s unsavory record of violent interventions in Syria—little-known to the American people yet well-known to Syrians—sowed fertile ground for the violent Islamic jihadism that now complicates any effective response by our government to address the challenge of ISIL. So long as the American public and policymakers are unaware of this past, further interventions are likely only to compound the crisis. Secretary of State John Kerry this week announced a “provisional” ceasefire in Syria. But since U.S. leverage and prestige within Syria is minimal—and the ceasefire doesn’t include key combatants such as Islamic State and al Nusra–it’s bound to be a shaky truce at best. Similarly President Obama’s stepped-up military intervention in Libya—U.S. airstrikes targeted an Islamic State training camp last week—is likely to strengthen rather than weaken the radicals. As the New York Times reported in a December 8, 2015, front-page story, Islamic State political leaders and strategic planners are working to provoke an American military intervention. They know from experience this will flood their ranks with volunteer fighters, drown the voices of moderation and unify the Islamic world against America.

To understand this dynamic, we need to look at history from the Syrians’ perspective and particularly the seeds of the current conflict. Long before our 2003 occupation of Iraq triggered the Sunni uprising that has now morphed into the Islamic State, the CIA had nurtured violent jihadism as a Cold War weapon and freighted U.S./Syrian relationships with toxic baggage.

This did not happen without controversy at home. In July 1957, following a failed coup in Syria by the CIA, my uncle, Sen. John F. Kennedy, infuriated the Eisenhower White House, the leaders of both political parties and our European allies with a milestone speech endorsing the right of self-governance in the Arab world and an end to America’s imperialist meddling in Arab countries. Throughout my lifetime, and particularly during my frequent travels to the Mideast, countless Arabs have fondly recalled that speech to me as the clearest statement of the idealism they expected from the U.S. Kennedy’s speech was a call for recommitting America to the high values our country had championed in the Atlantic Charter; the formal pledge that all the former European colonies would have the right to self-determination following World War II. Franklin D. Roosevelt had strong-armed Winston Churchill and the other allied leaders to sign the Atlantic Charter in 1941 as a precondition for U.S. support in the European war against fascism.

But thanks in large part to Allen Dulles and the CIA, whose foreign policy intrigues were often directly at odds with the stated policies of our nation, the idealistic path outlined in the Atlantic Charter was the road not taken. In 1957, my grandfather, Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy, sat on a secret committee charged with investigating the CIA’s clandestine mischief in the Mideast. The so called “Bruce-Lovett Report,” to which he was a signatory, described CIA coup plots in Jordan, Syria, Iran, Iraq and Egypt, all common knowledge on the Arab street, but virtually unknown to the American people who believed, at face value, their government’s denials. The report blamed the CIA for the rampant anti-Americanism that was then mysteriously taking root “in the many countries in the world today.” The Bruce-Lovett Report pointed out that such interventions were antithetical to American values and had compromised America’s international leadership and moral authority without the knowledge of the American people. The report also said that the CIA never considered how we would treat such interventions if some foreign government were to engineer them in our country.

This is the bloody history that modern interventionists like George W. Bush, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio miss when they recite their narcissistic trope that Mideast nationalists “hate us for our freedoms.” For the most part they don’t; instead they hate us for the way we betrayed those freedoms—our own ideals—within their borders.

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For Americans to really understand what’s going on, it’s important to review some details about this sordid but little-remembered history. During the 1950s, President Eisenhower and the Dulles brothers—CIA Director Allen Dulles and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles—rebuffed Soviet treaty proposals to leave the Middle East a neutral zone in the Cold War and let Arabs rule Arabia. Instead, they mounted a clandestine war against Arab nationalism—which Allen Dulles equated with communism—particularly when Arab self-rule threatened oil concessions. They pumped secret American military aid to tyrants in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon favoring puppets with conservative Jihadist ideologies thath they regarded as a reliable antidote to Soviet Marxism. At a White House meeting between the CIA’s director of plans, Frank Wisner, and John Foster Dulles, in September 1957, Eisenhower advised the agency, “We should do everything possible to stress the ‘holy war’ aspect,” according to a memo recorded by his staff secretary, Gen. Andrew J. Goodpaster.

The CIA began its active meddling in Syria in 1949—barely a year after the agency’s creation. Syrian patriots had declared war on the Nazis, expelled their Vichy French colonial rulers and crafted a fragile secularist democracy based on the American model. But in March 1949, Syria’s democratically elected president, Shukri-al-Quwatli, hesitated to approve the Trans-Arabian Pipeline, an American project intended to connect the oil fields of Saudi Arabia to the ports of Lebanon via Syria. In his book, Legacy of Ashes, CIA historian Tim Weiner recounts that in retaliation for Al-Quwatli’s lack of enthusiasm for the U.S. pipeline, the CIA engineered a coup replacing al-Quwatli with the CIA’s handpicked dictator, a convicted swindler named Husni al-Za’im. Al-Za’im barely had time to dissolve parliament and approve the American pipeline before his countrymen deposed him, four and a half months into his regime.

Following several counter-coups in the newly destabilized country, the Syrian people again tried democracy in 1955, re-electing al-Quwatli and his National Party. Al-Quwatli was still a Cold War neutralist, but, stung by American involvement in his ouster, he now leaned toward the Soviet camp. That posture caused CIA Director Dulles to declare that “Syria is ripe for a coup” and send his two coup wizards, Kim Roosevelt and Rocky Stone, to Damascus.

Two years earlier, Roosevelt and Stone had orchestrated a coup in Iran against the democratically elected President Mohammed Mosaddegh, after Mosaddegh tried to renegotiate the terms of Iran’s lopsided contracts with the British oil giant Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now BP). Mosaddegh was the first elected leader in Iran’s 4,000-year history and a popular champion for democracy across the developing world. Mosaddegh expelled all British diplomats after uncovering a coup attempt by U.K. intelligence officers working in cahoots with BP. Mosaddegh, however, made the fatal mistake of resisting his advisers’ pleas to also expel the CIA, which, they correctly suspected, was complicit in the British plot. Mosaddegh idealized the U.S. as a role model for Iran’s new democracy and incapable of such perfidies. Despite Dulles’ needling, President Harry Truman had forbidden the CIA from actively joining the British caper to topple Mosaddegh. When Eisenhower took office in January 1953, he immediately unleashed Dulles. After ousting Mosaddegh in “Operation Ajax,” Stone and Roosevelt installed Shah Reza Pahlavi, who favored U.S. oil companies but whose two decades of CIA sponsored savagery toward his own people from the Peacock throne would finally ignite the 1979 Islamic revolution that has bedeviled our foreign policy for 35 years.

Flush from his Operation Ajax “success” in Iran, Stone arrived in Damascus in April 1957 with $3 million to arm and incite Islamic militants and to bribe Syrian military officers and politicians to overthrow al-Quwatli’s democratically elected secularist regime, according to Safe for Democracy: The Secret Wars of the CIA, by John Prados. Working with the Muslim Brotherhood and millions of dollars, Rocky Stone schemed to assassinate Syria’s chief of intelligence, the chief of its General Staff and the chief of the Communist Party, and to engineer “national conspiracies and various strong arm” provocations in Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan that could be blamed on the Syrian Ba’athists. Tim Weiner describes in Legacy of Ashes how the CIA’s plan was to destabilize the Syrian government and create a pretext for an invasion by Iraq and Jordan, whose governments were already under CIA control. Kim Roosevelt forecast that the CIA’s newly installed puppet government would “rely first upon repressive measures and arbitrary exercise of power,” according to declassified CIA documents reported in The Guardian newspaper.

But all that CIA money failed to corrupt the Syrian military officers. The soldiers reported the CIA’s bribery attempts to the Ba’athist regime. In response, the Syrian army invaded the American Embassy, taking Stone prisoner. After harsh interrogation, Stone made a televised confession of his roles in the Iranian coup and the CIA’s aborted attempt to overthrow Syria’s legitimate government. The Syrians ejected Stone and two U.S. Embassy staffers—the first time any American State Department diplomat was barred from an Arab country. The Eisenhower White House hollowly dismissed Stone’s confession as “fabrications” and “slanders,” a denial swallowed whole by the American press, led by the New York Times and believed by the American people, who shared Mosaddegh’s idealistic view of their government. Syria purged all politicians sympathetic to the U.S. and executed for treason all military officers associated with the coup. In retaliation, the U.S. moved the Sixth Fleet to the Mediterranean, threatened war and goaded Turkey to invade Syria. The Turks assembled 50,000 troops on Syria’s borders and backed down only in the face of unified opposition from the Arab League whose leaders were furious at the U.S. intervention. Even after its expulsion, the CIA continued its secret efforts to topple Syria’s democratically elected Ba’athist government. The CIA plotted with Britain’s MI6 to form a “Free Syria Committee” and armed the Muslim Brotherhood to assassinate three Syrian government officials, who had helped expose “the American plot,” according to Matthew Jones in “The ‘Preferred Plan’: The Anglo-American Working Group Report on Covert Action in Syria, 1957.” The CIA’s mischief pushed Syria even further away from the U.S. and into prolonged alliances with Russia and Egypt.

Following the second Syrian coup attempt, anti-American riots rocked the Mideast from Lebanon to Algeria. Among the reverberations was the July 14, 1958 coup, led by the new wave of anti-American Army officers who overthrew Iraq’s pro-American monarch, Nuri al-Said. The coup leaders published secret government documents, exposing Nuri al-Said as a highly paid CIA puppet. In response to American treachery, the new Iraqi government invited Soviet diplomats and economic advisers to Iraq and turned its back on the West.

Having alienated Iraq and Syria, Kim Roosevelt fled the Mideast to work as an executive for the oil industry that he had served so well during his public service career at the CIA. Roosevelt’s replacement as CIA station chief, James Critchfield, attempted a failed assassination plot against the new Iraqi president using a toxic handkerchief, according to Weiner. Five years later, the CIA finally succeeded in deposing the Iraqi president and installing the Ba’ath Party in power in Iraq. A charismatic young murderer named Saddam Hussein was one of the distinguished leaders of the CIA’s Ba’athist team. The Ba’ath Party’s Secretary, Ali Saleh Sa’adi, who took office alongside Saddam Hussein, would later say, “We came to power on a CIA train,” according to A Brutal Friendship: The West and the Arab Elite, by Said Aburish, a journalist and author. Aburish recounted that the CIA supplied Saddam and his cronies a murder list of people who “had to be eliminated immediately in order to ensure success.” Tim Weiner writes that Critchfield later acknowledged that the CIA had, in essence, “created Saddam Hussein.” During the Reagan years, the CIA supplied Hussein with billions of dollars in training, Special Forces support, weapons and battlefield intelligence, knowing that he was using poisonous mustard and nerve gas and biological weapons—including anthrax obtained from the U.S. government—in his war against Iran. Reagan and his CIA director, Bill Casey, regarded Saddam as a potential friend to the U.S. oil industry and a sturdy barrier against the spread of Iran’s Islamic Revolution. Their emissary, Donald Rumsfeld, presented Saddam with golden cowboy spurs and a menu of chemical/biological and conventional weapons on a 1983 trip to Baghdad. At the same time, the CIA was illegally supplying Saddam’s enemy, Iran, with thousands of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to fight Iraq, a crime made famous during the Iran-Contra scandal. Jihadists from both sides later turned many of those CIA-supplied weapons against the American people.

Even as America contemplates yet another violent Mideast intervention, most Americans are unaware of the many ways that “blowback” from previous CIA blunders has helped craft the current crisis. The reverberations from decades of CIA shenanigans continue to echo across the Mideast today in national capitals and from mosques to madras schools over the wrecked landscape of democracy and moderate Islam that the CIA helped obliterate.

A parade of Iranian and Syrian dictators, including Bashar al-Assad and his father, have invoked the history of the CIA’s bloody coups as a pretext for their authoritarian rule, repressive tactics and their need for a strong Russian alliance. These stories are therefore well known to the people of Syria and Iran who naturally interpret talk of U.S. intervention in the context of that history.

While the compliant American press parrots the narrative that our military support for the Syrian insurgency is purely humanitarian, many Arabs see the present crisis as just another proxy war over pipelines and geopolitics. Before rushing deeper into the conflagration, it would be wise for us to consider the abundant facts supporting that perspective.

In their view, our war against Bashar Assad did not begin with the peaceful civil protests of the Arab Spring in 2011. Instead it began in 2000, when Qatar proposed to construct a $10 billion, 1,500 kilometer pipeline through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey. Qatar shares with Iran the South Pars/North Dome gas field, the world’s richest natural gas repository. The international trade embargo until recently prohibited Iran from selling gas abroad. Meanwhile, Qatar’s gas can reach European marketsonly if it is liquefied and shipped by sea, a route that restricts volume and dramatically raises costs. The proposed pipeline would have linked Qatar directly to European energy markets via distribution terminals in Turkey, which would pocket rich transit fees. The Qatar/Turkey pipeline would give the Sunni kingdoms of the Persian Gulf decisive domination of world natural gas markets and strengthen Qatar, America’s closest ally in the Arab world. Qatar hosts two massive American military bases and the U.S. Central Command’s Mideast headquarters.

The EU, which gets 30 percent of its gas from Russia, was equally hungry for the pipeline, which would have given its members cheap energy and relief from Vladimir Putin’s stifling economic and political leverage. Turkey, Russia’s second largest gas customer, was particularly anxious to end its reliance on its ancient rival and to position itself as the lucrative transect hub for Asian fuels to EU markets. The Qatari pipeline would have benefited Saudi Arabia’s conservative Sunni monarchy by giving it a foothold in Shia-dominated Syria. The Saudis’ geopolitical goal is to contain the economic and political power of the kingdom’s principal rival, Iran, a Shiite state, and close ally of Bashar Assad. The Saudi monarchy viewed the U.S.-sponsored Shiite takeover in Iraq (and, more recently, the termination of the Iran trade embargo) as a demotion to its regional power status and was already engaged in a proxy war against Tehran in Yemen, highlighted by the Saudi genocide against the Iranian backed Houthi tribe.

Of course, the Russians, who sell 70 percent of their gas exports to Europe, viewed the Qatar/Turkey pipeline as an existential threat. In Putin’s view, the Qatar pipeline is a NATO plot to change the status quo, deprive Russia of its only foothold in the Middle East, strangle the Russian economy and end Russian leverage in the European energy market. In 2009, Assad announced that he would refuse to sign the agreement to allow the pipeline to run through Syria “to protect the interests of our Russian ally.”

Assad further enraged the Gulf’s Sunni monarchs by endorsing a Russian-approved “Islamic pipeline” running from Iran’s side of the gas field through Syria and to the ports of Lebanon. The Islamic pipeline would make Shiite Iran, not Sunni Qatar, the principal supplier to the European energy market and dramatically increase Tehran’s influence in the Middke East and the world. Israel also was understandably determined to derail the Islamic pipeline, which would enrich Iran and Syria and presumably strengthen their proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas.

Secret cables and reports by the U.S., Saudi and Israeli intelligence agencies indicate that the moment Assad rejected the Qatari pipeline, military and intelligence planners quickly arrived at the consensus that fomenting a Sunni uprising in Syria to overthrow the uncooperative Bashar Assad was a feasible path to achieving the shared objective of completing the Qatar/Turkey gas link. In 2009, according to WikiLeaks, soon after Bashar Assad rejected the Qatar pipeline, the CIA began funding opposition groups in Syria. It is important to note that this was well before the Arab Spring-engendered uprising against Assad.

Bashar Assad’s family is Alawite, a Muslim sect widely perceived as aligned with the Shiite camp. “Bashar Assad was never supposed to be president,” journalist Seymour Hersh told me in an interview. “His father brought him back from medical school in London when his elder brother, the heir apparent, was killed in a car crash.” Before the war started, according to Hersh, Assad was moving to liberalize the country. “They had internet and newspapers and ATM machines and Assad wanted to move toward the west. After 9/11, he gave thousands of invaluable files to the CIA on jihadist radicals, who he considered a mutual enemy.” Assad’s regime was deliberately secular and Syria was impressively diverse. The Syrian government and military, for example, were 80 percent Sunni. Assad maintained peace among his diverse peoples by a strong, disciplined army loyal to the Assad family, an allegiance secured by a nationally esteemed and highly paid officer corps, a coldly efficient intelligence apparatus and a penchant for brutality that, prior to the war, was rather moderate compared to those of other Mideast leaders, including our current allies. According to Hersh, “He certainly wasn’t beheading people every Wednesday like the Saudis do in Mecca.”

Another veteran journalist, Bob Parry, echoes that assessment. “No one in the region has clean hands, but in the realms of torture, mass killings, [suppressing] civil liberties and supporting terrorism, Assad is much better than the Saudis.” No one believed that the regime was vulnerable to the anarchy that had riven Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Tunisia. By the spring of 2011, there were small, peaceful demonstrations in Damascus against repression by Assad’s regime. These were mainly the effluvia of the Arab Spring that spread virally across the Arab League States the previous summer. However, WikiLeaks cables indicate that the CIA was already on the ground in Syria.

But the Sunni kingdoms with vast petrodollars at stake wanted a much deeper involvement from America. On September 4, 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry told a congressional hearing that the Sunni kingdoms had offered to foot the bill for a U.S. invasion of Syria to oust Bashar Assad. “In fact, some of them have said that if the United States is prepared to go do the whole thing, the way we’ve done it previously in other places [Iraq], they’ll carry the cost.” Kerry reiterated the offer to Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.): “With respect to Arab countries offering to bear the costs of [an American invasion] to topple Assad, the answer is profoundly yes, they have. The offer is on the table.”

Despite pressure from Republicans, Barack Obama balked at hiring out young Americans to die as mercenaries for a pipeline conglomerate. Obama wisely ignored Republican clamoring to put ground troops in Syria or to funnel more funding to “moderate insurgents.” But by late 2011, Republican pressure and our Sunni allies had pushed the American government into the fray.

In 2011, the U.S. joined France, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the UK to form the Friends of Syria Coalition, which formally demanded the removal of Assad. The CIA provided $6 million to Barada, a British TV channel, to produce pieces entreating Assad’s ouster. Saudi intelligence documents, published by WikiLeaks, show that by 2012, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia were arming, training and funding radical jihadist Sunni fighters from Syria, Iraq and elsewhere to overthrow the Assad’s Shiite-allied regime. Qatar, which had the most to gain, invested $3 billion in building the insurgency and invited the Pentagon to train insurgents at U.S. bases in Qatar. According to an April 2014 article by Seymour Hersh, the CIA weapons ratlines were financed by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The idea of fomenting a Sunni-Shiite civil war to weaken the Syrian and Iranian regimes in order to to maintain control of the region’s petrochemical supplies was not a novel notion in the Pentagon’s lexicon. A damning 2008 Pentagon-funded Rand report proposed a precise blueprint for what was about to happen. That report observes that control of the Persian Gulf oil and gas deposits will remain, for the U.S., “a strategic priority” that “will interact strongly with that of prosecuting the long war.” Rand recommended using “covert action, information operations, unconventional warfare” to enforce a “divide and rule” strategy. “The United States and its local allies could use the nationalist jihadists to launch a proxy campaign” and “U.S. leaders could also choose to capitalize on the sustained Shia-Sunni conflict trajectory by taking the side of the conservative Sunni regimes against Shiite empowerment movements in the Muslim world … possibly supporting authoritative Sunni governments against a continuingly hostile Iran.”

As predicted, Assad’s overreaction to the foreign-made crisis—dropping barrel bombs onto Sunni strongholds and killing civilians—polarized Syria’s Shiite/Sunni divide and allowed U.S. policymakers to sell Americans the idea that the pipeline struggle was a humanitarian war. When Sunni soldiers of the Syrian Army began defecting in 2013, the western coalition armed the Free Syrian Army to further destabilize Syria. The press portrait of the Free Syrian Army as cohesive battalions of Syrian moderates was delusional. The dissolved units regrouped in hundreds of independent militias most of which were commanded by, or allied with, jihadi militants who were the most committed and effective fighters. By then, the Sunni armies of Al Qaeda in Iraq were crossing the border from Iraq into Syria and joining forces with the squadrons of deserters from the Free Syrian Army, many of them trained and armed by the U.S.

Despite the prevailing media portrait of a moderate Arab uprising against the tyrant Assad, U.S. intelligence planners knew from the outset that their pipeline proxies were radical jihadists who would probably carve themselves a brand new Islamic caliphate from the Sunni regions of Syria and Iraq. Two years before ISIL throat cutters stepped on the world stage, a seven-page August 12, 2012, study by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, obtained by the right-wing group Judicial Watch, warned that thanks to the ongoing support by U.S./Sunni Coalition for radical Sunni Jihadists, “the Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood and AQI (now ISIS), are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.” Using U.S. and Gulf state funding, these groups had turned the peaceful protests against Bashar Assad toward “a clear sectarian (Shiite vs. Sunni) direction.” The paper notes that the conflict had become a sectarian civil war supported by Sunni “religious and political powers.” The report paints the Syrian conflict as a global war for control of the region’s resources with “the west, Gulf countries and Turkey supporting [Assad’s] opposition, while Russia, China and Iran support the regime.” The Pentagon authors of the seven-page report appear to endorse the predicted advent of the ISIS caliphate: “If the situation unravels, there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor) and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want in order to isolate the Syrian regime.” The Pentagon report warns that this new principality could move across the Iraqi border to Mosul and Ramadi and “declare an Islamic state through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria.”

Of course, this is precisely what has happened. Not coincidentally, the regions of Syria occupied by the Islamic State exactly encompass the proposed route of the Qatari pipeline.

But then, in 2014, our Sunni proxies horrified the American people by severing heads and driving a million refugees toward Europe. “Strategies based upon the idea that the enemy of my enemy is my friend can be kind of blinding,” says Tim Clemente, who chaired the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force from 2004 to 2008 and served as liaison in Iraq between the FBI, the Iraqi National Police and the U.S. military. “We made the same mistake when we trained the mujahideen in Afghanistan. The moment the Russians left, our supposed friends started smashing antiquities, enslaving women, severing body parts and shooting at us,” Clemente told me in an interview.

When the Islamic State’s “Jihadi John” began murdering prisoners on TV, the White House pivoted, talking less about deposing Assad and more about regional stability. The Obama dministration began putting daylight between itself and the insurgency we had funded. The White House pointed accusing fingers at our allies. On October 3, 2014, Vice President Joe Biden told students at the John F. Kennedy Jr. forum at the Institute of Politics at Harvard that “our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria.” He explained that Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the UAE were “so determined to take down Assad” that they had launched a “proxy Sunni-Shia war” funneling “hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad. Except the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra, and al-Qaeda”—the two groups that merged in 2014 to form the Islamic State. Biden seemed angered that our trusted “friends” could not be trusted to follow the American agenda.

Across the Mideast, Arab leaders routinely accuse the U.S. of having created the Islamic State. To most Americans, such accusations seem insane. However, to many Arabs, the evidence of U.S. involvement is so abundant that they conclude that our role in fostering the Islamic State must have been deliberate.

In fact, many of the Islamic State fighters and their commanders are ideological and organizational successors to the jihadists that the CIA has been nurturing for more than 30 years from Syria and Egypt to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Prior to the American invasion, there was no Al Qaeda in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. President George W. Bush destroyed Saddam’s secularist government, and his viceroy, Paul Bremer, in a monumental act of mismanagement, effectively created the Sunni Army, now named the Islamic State. Bremer elevated the Shiites to power and banned Saddam’s ruling Ba’ath Party, laying off some 700,000 mostly Sunni, government and party officials from ministers to schoolteachers. He then disbanded the 380,000-man army, which was 80 percent Sunni. Bremer’s actions stripped a million of Iraq’s Sunnis of rank, property, wealth and power; leaving a desperate underclass of angry, educated, capable, trained and heavily armed Sunnis with little left to lose. The Sunni insurgency named itself Al Qaeda in Iraq. Beginning in 2011, our allies funded the invasion by AQI fighters into Syria. In April 2013, having entered Syria, AQI changed its name to ISIL. According to Dexter Filkins of the New Yorker, “ISIS is run by a council of former Iraqi generals. … Many are members of Saddam Hussein’s secular Ba’ath Party who converted to radical Islam in American prisons.” The $500 million in U.S. military aid that Obama did send to Syria almost certainly ended up benefiting these militant jihadists. Tim Clemente, the former chairman of the FBI’s joint task force, told me that the difference between the Iraq and Syria conflicts is the millions of military-aged men who are fleeing the battlefield for Europe rather than staying to fight for their communities. The obvious explanation is that the nation’s moderates are fleeing a war that is not their war. They simply want to escape being crushed between the anvil of Assad’s Russian-backed tyranny and the vicious jihadist Sunni hammer that we had a hand in wielding in a global battle over competing pipelines. You can’t blame the Syrian people for not widely embracing a blueprint for their nation minted in either Washington or Moscow. The superpowers have left no options for an idealistic future that moderate Syrians might consider fighting for. And no one wants to die for a pipeline.

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What is the answer? If our objective is long-term peace in the Mideast, self-government by the Arab nations and national security at home, we must undertake any new intervention in the region with an eye on history and an intense desire to learn its lessons. Only when we Americans understand the historical and political context of this conflict will we apply appropriate scrutiny to the decisions of our leaders. Using the same imagery and language that supported our 2003 war against Saddam Hussein, our political leaders led Americans to believe that our Syrian intervention is an idealistic war against tyranny, terrorism and religious fanaticism. We tend to dismiss as mere cynicism the views of those Arabs who see the current crisis as a rerun of the same old plots about pipelines and geopolitics. But, if we are to have an effective foreign policy, we must recognize the Syrian conflict is a war over control of resources indistinguishable from the myriad clandestine and undeclared oil wars we have been fighting in the Mideast for 65 years. And only when we see this conflict as a proxy war over a pipeline do events become comprehensible. It’s the only paradigm that explains why the GOP on Capitol Hill and the Obama administration are still fixated on regime change rather than regional stability, why the Obama administration can find no Syrian moderates to fight the war, why ISIL blew up a Russian passenger plane, why the Saudis just executed a powerful Shiite cleric only to have their embassy burned in Tehran, why Russia is bombing non-ISIL fighters and why Turkey went out of its way to shoot down a Russian jet. The million refugees now flooding into Europe are refugees of a pipeline war and CIA blundering.

Clemente compares ISIL to Colombia’s FARC—a drug cartel with a revolutionary ideology to inspire its footsoldiers. “You have to think of ISIS as an oil cartel,” Clemente said. “In the end, money is the governing rationale. The religious ideology is a tool that inspires its soldiers to give their lives for an oil cartel.”

Once we strip this conflict of its humanitarian patina and recognize the Syrian conflict as an oil war, our foreign policy strategy becomes clear. Like the Syrians fleeing for Europe, no American wants to send their child to die for a pipeline. Instead, our first priority should be the one no one ever mentions—we need to kick our Mideast oil jones, an increasingly feasible objective, as the U.S. becomes more energy independent. Next, we need to dramatically reduce our military profile in the Middle East and let the Arabs run Arabia. Other than humanitarian assistance and guaranteeing the security of Israel’s borders, the U.S. has no legitimate role in this conflict. While the facts prove that we played a role in creating the crisis, history shows that we have little power to resolve it.

As we contemplate history, it’s breathtaking to consider the astonishing consistency with which virtually every violent intervention in the Middle East since World War II by our country has resulted in miserable failure and horrendously costly blowback. A 1997 U.S. Department of Defense report found that “the data show a strong correlation between U.S. involvement abroad and an increase in terrorist attacks against the U.S.” Let’s face it; what we call the “war on terror” is really just another oil war. We’ve squandered $6 trillion on three wars abroad and on constructing a national security warfare state at home since oilman Dick Cheney declared the “Long War” in 2001. The only winners have been the military contractors and oil companies that have pocketed historic profits, the intelligence agencies that have grown exponentially in power and influence to the detriment of our freedoms and the jihadists who invariably used our interventions as their most effective recruiting tool. We have compromised our values, butchered our own youth, killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people, subverted our idealism and squandered our national treasures in fruitless and costly adventures abroad. In the process, we have helped our worst enemies and turned America, once the world’s beacon of freedom, into a national security surveillance state and an international moral pariah.

America’s founding fathers warned Americans against standing armies, foreign entanglements and, in John Quincy Adams’ words, “going abroad in search of monsters to destroy.” Those wise men understood that imperialism abroad is incompatible with democracy and civil rights at home. The Atlantic Charter echoed their seminal American ideal that each nation should have the right to self-determination. Over the past seven decades, the Dulles brothers, the Cheney gang, the neocons and their ilk have hijacked that fundamental principle of American idealism and deployed our military and intelligence apparatus to serve the mercantile interests of large corporations and particularly, the petroleum companies and military contractors that have literally made a killing from these conflicts.

It’s time for Americans to turn America away from this new imperialism and back to the path of idealism and democracy. We should let the Arabs govern Arabia and turn our energies to the great endeavor of nation building at home. We need to begin this process, not by invading Syria, but by ending the ruinous addiction to oil that has warped U.S. foreign policy for half a century.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is the president of Waterkeeper Alliance. His newest book is Thimerosal: Let The Science Speak.

 

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/02/rfk-jr-why-arabs-dont-trust-america-213601 or http://politi.co/1Uj3b2A

Photograph of Eisenhower, by Richard Avedon:  http://theworldofphotographers.wordpress.com/2011/04/25/3385/dwight-david-eisenhower-richard-avedon/ or http://bit.ly/lDR0hN or http://tinyurl.com/6b24aja

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2016/03/01/religious-ideology-is-a-tool/

The rash

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InkSpot-main_FullDear editor:

After reading the rash of liberal letters recently that sympathized with the Muslims so much (while mocking the rest of us for being fearful of the Islamic jihadist terrorists), perhaps many of you might be much happier if you left America permanently and moved over to some Muslim country! You might fit in very naturally in Iran, Syria or Iraq, I would think.

Lloyd Hoffman
Hot Springs

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2015/12/19/the-rash/

An embarrassing reflection of us

 

By Jacques, d’Nalgar, December 13 2015

 

the_donald2Why all the sanctimonious hand-wringing over Donald Trump’s latest bombastics?  Are we really that shocked when this unfiltered braggart harrumphs that the world’s Muslims must not be allowed to sully our exceptional, Christian America?

After all, isn’t that what most of us really want?  Sure, we may not say it in polite company, but eloquent mendacities are always lost in the cacophony of real-world actions.  And we’ve been loudly acting out our real feelings about Muslims for a long time now.  Almost a century of meddling in the Middle East to sate our unending addiction to oil.  At least two unnecessary wars that have now spawned ISIL and inspired world-wide terrors.  And at least seven decades of supporting colonial experiments and brutal regimes that scoff at quaint notions like human rights and egalitarian self-rule.  We don’t need Donald Trump to spell out how we really feel about this wretched, dusky refuse of a faraway teeming shore, these boogedy boogedy Muslims…

Fact is, our national pastime of fear and loathing isn’t limited to Muslims.  “Muslim” is just our latest code word du jour for any of the world’s homeless, tempest-tossed, huddled masses who aren’t lily-white, god-fearing good folk just like us.  If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve never liked any of them.

We don’t like those scattered remnants of our indigenous first peoples, who had the audacity to survive systemic attempts at wholesale extermination.  We definitely don’t like the descendants of all those Africans we brought over here, in chains, for slave labor.  To this day, we’re still trying to keep them from voting, and we routinely relegate them to second-class jobs, education, and justice.  And we sure don’t like those millions of brown-skinned people (with names like Jesus!) who routinely wander across our southern border to pick our crops, clean our homes, and patch our roofs.tattered_usa_flag

So let’s skip all the hypocrisy and admit that Donald Trump is just an embarrassing reflection of us, and of what we have allowed America to become.

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2015/12/13/an-embarrassing-reflection-of-us/

And here a miracle occurs

iran_unicorn_3

The Myth of a Better Deal

By Stephen M. Walt, August 10, 2015

 

Foreign policy is serious business, because getting it wrong has real consequences. When countries conduct foreign policy in a cavalier or incompetent way, real human beings lose their lives or end up much poorer than they would otherwise have been. In extreme cases, states that mismanage relations with the outside world end up completely isolated and maybe even conquered and occupied. This is rarely, if ever, a pleasant experience.

That’s why it is so surprising when allegedly “serious people” rely on various forms of Magical Thinking when they talk about foreign affairs. Like FP contributor Jeffrey Lewis, by “magical thinking,” I mean analysis and prescriptions resting on unrealistic assumptions, unspecified causal relationships, inapt analogies, a dearth of supporting evidence, and wildly naïve optimism. People who do this are like the scientists in that old cartoon whose blackboard solution to a thorny problem consists of writing, “And here a miracle occurs.”

What sort of “thinking” do I have in mind?

The most obvious example of magical thinking in contemporary policy discourse, of course, is the myth of a “better deal” with Iran. Despite abundant evidence to the contrary, opponents of the JCPOA keep insisting additional sanctions, more threats to use force, another round of Stuxnet, or if necessary, dropping a few bombs, would have convinced Iran to run up the white flag and give the United States everything it ever demanded for the past 15 years. The latest example of such dubious reasoning is the New York Times’s David Brooks, who thinks an agreement where Iran makes most of the concessions is a Vietnam-style defeat for the United States and imagines that tougher U.S. negotiators (or maybe war) would have produced a clear and decisive victory.

Never mind that while the United States ramped up sanctions, Iran went from zero centrifuges to 19,000. Never mind that there was no international support for harsher sanctions and that unilateral U.S. sanctions wouldn’t increase the pressure in any meaningful way. Never mind that attacking Iran with military force would not end its nuclear program and only increase Iran’s interest in having an actual weapon. Never mind that the deal blocks every path to a bomb for at least a decade. And never mind that the myth of a “better deal” ignores Diplomacy 101: To get any sort of lasting agreement, it has to provide something for all of the parties.

Instead of serious analysis, opponents of the Iran deal are just imagining that there was a secret spell, magic wand, or incantation that would have somehow produced a miraculously better result. Which is why they cannot in fact explain how their imaginary “better deal” could ever be obtained.

It is not surprising that opponents of the deal are relying on unspecified miracles to make their case: It’s their standard operating procedure. As U.S. President Barack Obama correctly said in his Aug. 5 speech at American University, opponents of the deal are mostly the same groups and individuals who either dreamed up or helped sell the boneheaded idea of invading Iraq. It wasn’t just their fairy tales about Iraqi WMD and Saddam Hussein’s alleged links to al Qaeda that led Bush and the country astray, it was their utterly fabulist belief that invading Iraq would somehow transform the Middle East into a sea of pro-American democracies. This was magical thinking at its worst, because it ignored both everything we know about how genuine democracy gets created and paid zero attention to the conditions in the country we were about to take over. Convinced that military power was a magic wand that could do almost anything, they assumed the invasion would produce a fantastic result at little or no cost. They are as wrong now as they were back then.

The United States is hardly the only country that has succumbed to magical thinking, of course. Europe’s leaders fell victim to it when they created the euro in the 1990s, blithely ignoring the many critics who pointed out that the conditions for a workable currency union did not exist. The euro’s advocates convinced themselves a common currency would magically turn Greeks into industrious Germans and Germans into free-spending Greeks and that eurozone members would meet their various obligations in an honest and forthright way. If by chance some country cheated or economic storm clouds gathered (as they did in 2008), these magicians assumed European countries would suddenly abandon deep-seated national feelings and quickly create the institutions needed to make the euro work. Presto! In short, they assumed the euro would magically succeed no matter what, and such reasoning continues today, in the assumption that continued austerity will magically put Greece back on its feet and enable it repay all its debts. That is one heck of a rabbit to pull out of a small and threadbare hat.

Fortunately, some of our adversaries seem equally prone to their own forms of magical thinking. Mao Zedong was a plentiful source during his years in power, and the Chinese people suffered mightily from idiocies like the Cultural Revolution and Great Leap Forward. Ditto Gorbachev’s belief that glasnost and perestroika could fix the accumulated problems of the former Soviet Union and somehow keep the whole ramshackle enterprise from imploding. U.S. leaders have succumbed to delusions of their own over the years (e.g., the “domino theory,” McCarthyism, etc.) but fortunately not on quite the same scale.

Today, the leaders of the Islamic State appear to genuinely believe that their puritanical and intolerant perversion of Islam will capture a wide following throughout the Muslim world and that beheadings, rapes, and other forms of violence will make them broadly popular (as opposed to attracting mostly marginalized misfits). They also seem to think their weak, landlocked, and Sunni-based “caliphate” is going to expand like a prairie fire and eventually spread into Europe and beyond. Such beliefs will no doubt cause a certain amount of trouble in various places, but their long-term goals are a fantasy that will never come to pass.

How can you spot “magical thinking” when you hear it? Jon Stewart’s disquisition on bulls—t from his final show is a good start, and I fully endorse his advice that “when you smell something, say something.” Here’s a quick guide on how to hone the necessary olfactory instincts.

First, when a leader, policy analyst, or foreign-policy organization suggests you support a policy that has never been done before and says that it will be easy, your nostrils should start twitching. Policy innovation does occur, of course, and history doesn’t always repeat itself. Occasionally, a government tries something unprecedented, and it works out really, really well. Nonetheless, when somebody says they are going to do something challenging and achieve results that nobody has ever managed to accomplish before, you should read the fine print. Carefully.

Second, when somebody says they’ve got a great solution to a thorny problem but won’t tell you what that solution is, it’s either a sign that they have no plan at all or that they believe they have rare powers that will enable them to do what mere mortals cannot. When Donald Trump says he has a “foolproof” plan to defeat the Islamic State but won’t say what it is, it’s either just a boldfaced lie or evidence he thinks he is a magician who can come up with a plan that has somehow escaped the entire U.S. government, even though he knows next to nothing about national security policy, the Islamic State, or the Middle East more generally.

Third, magical thinking invariably depends on a whole bunch of optimistic assumptions. To pull off a miracle, you need to assume that all will go exactly as planned, that opponents will react exactly as you expect, that unintended consequences will not occur, and that the ball will always take a home-team bounce. The corollary to this mode of reasoning is to assume the worst if the prescribed action is not taken. Policy magicians do this sleight of hand in order to convince you that taking their advice will produce a miraculous success, but rejecting it will lead to a terrible tragedy.

Fourth, and following from the last point, a good miracle promises something wonderful for little or no cost. (“The invasion of Iraq will pay for itself!” “The troops will be home by Christmas!”) Advocates of U.S. military intervention routinely use this ploy, focusing solely on the supposed upsides and studiously ignoring the potential risks. Most of us have learned to discount anyone who promises us something for nothing, and that instinct is especially useful when it comes to foreign policy.

Finally, a lot of magical thinking assumes that the world is poised on a delicate knife’s edge and that small inputs will have far-reaching effects. In this view, a tiny reduction in the U.S. defense budget or overseas military presence will embolden enemies everywhere, dishearten all of our allies, and trigger a rapid cascade of setbacks and retreats, leaving the United States isolated and vulnerable (if not utterly defeated). But by a similar magical logic, very small increases in defense spending, or a single successful military campaign, will discomfit enemies far and wide, reassure allies in every corner of the world, restore credibility and revitalize deterrence, and guarantee generations of lasting peace. Or at least until the next challenge emerges, when another dose of magical thinking will be supplied.

People like a good fantasy, which is why Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Game of Thrones are so popular. In these works of fiction, magical powers and miraculous events are central. But there are no wands, rings, wizards, or dragons in the real world, just a complicated set of policy issues and many complex interactions between a wide array of self-interested actors, some of whom have real capabilities of their own. In the rough-and-tumble world of international politics, states achieve wealth, influence, and foreign-policy success by generations of hard work, careful analysis, smart decisions, and (if they are lucky) some amount of good fortune. To obtain these things, successful states create political institutions that can resolve conflicts, learn from past errors, and maintain a firm grasp on reality. Letting national decisions be shaped by unrealistic fantasies guarantees trouble, and even a country as powerful and secure as the United States pays a price when it allows magical thinking to shape national policy.

Stephen M. Walt is the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University.

 

http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/08/10/the-myth-of-a-better-deal-iran-nuke-wmds-iraq/ or http://atfp.co/1IHxgQy

Photoillustration by FP.

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2015/08/12/and-here-a-miracle-occurs/

Detailed, orderly and articulate

GettyImages-459832895

Obama Isolates Netanyahu as Head of Warmongers

By , Aug 06, 2015 12:34 AM

 

WASHINGTON – Some 200 people gathered at a plaza named for Saudi King Salman at American University in Washington on Wednesday and waited for U.S. President Barack Obama’s address on the nuclear deal reached last month with Iran. A greater irony would be hard to imagine, unless it were a plaza named for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Obama, meanwhile, seemed to have adopted at least one unpleasant habit of the prime minister’s, arriving 35 minutes late.

Obama’s speech was detailed, orderly and articulate. For nearly an hour he laid out his doctrine on behalf of the agreement and tried to negate and undermine the arguments of those who oppose it, one by one. He was addressing two main groups: The Democratic members of Congress and their voters in the center and liberal left.

He used some scare tactics, warning against Republican lobbyists and organizations funneling tens of millions of dollars into a campaign against the agreement. At certain stages he reminded one of the video on Election Day is which Netanyahu warned of the Arabs streaming to the polls in buses funded by leftist organizations. But unlike Netanyahu, behind Obama’s rhetoric and exaggeration there was no small grain of truth.

Another demon conjured up by Obama was former President George W. Bush. He portrayed him as having created the Iranian problem when he launched the war against Iraq. When Bush took office, Obama said, Iran didn’t have a single centrifuge; when he left the White House they had thousands.

The most worrisome part of Obama’s address was his reference to the Israeli government’s opposition to the nuclear agreement. What he said is liable to be seen in the not-so-distant future as a real turning point in the strategic relations between Jerusalem and Washington.

Obama marked Netanyahu not as a major ally, but as his greatest political rival. While he noted that he understands Netanyahu’s concerns and believes his intentions are sincere, this expression of empathy was merely an introduction to a sharp attack on the prime minister. At times you could hear Obama’s disdain for Netanyahu, as when he unconsciously imitated the latter’s baritone from his speeches against the nuclear agreement. “It’s a bad deal, we need a better deal,” he said, as he deepened his voice.

Obama isolated Netanyahu, portrayed him and his government as the only ones in the world who oppose the agreement, and positioned him as the head of the warmongering camp that rejects any diplomatic compromise of any kind, under any circumstances. The attempt by Netanyahu to scuttle the nuclear agreement, Obama wanted to say, is a cousin to the campaign conducted by those who supported the war in Iraq in 2003. It’s doubtful there is any group of people more disliked by the American public.

What should disturb the sleep of every Israeli is the fact that Netanyahu’s battle against the nuclear agreement has pushed Obama into a situation in which he must distinguish between the security interests of the United States and those of Israel, and clarify that they are not necessarily the same. “As president of the United States it would be an abrogation of my constitutional duty to act against my best judgment simply because it causes temporary friction with a dear friend and ally,” he said, and thus delivered a clear message: Netanyahu crossed red lines in his battle against the Iran deal, when he grossly intervened in domestic American politics and tried to present himself as someone who knows America’s interests better that the president of the United States.

The wild applause from the audience following that sentence was just a small example of the serious problem Israel finds itself in; the alienation that entire populations in the United States feel for its government’s policies and their feeling that with regard to the nuclear deal with Iran they’re a tail that’s trying to wag the dog.

The consequences of this atmosphere for Israel’s national security are liable to be disastrous. Even if the agreement passes in Congress, all the more so if Netanyahu’s campaign bears fruit and Congress overrides a presidential veto and kills the deal – the residual negativity is liable to cause a serious and dangerous rupture between the liberal public that votes Democratic – which includes most of the Jewish community – and Israel.

 

http://www.haaretz.com/beta/.premium-1.669789

Photograph by Jewel Samad, AFP.  http://static.ijreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/GettyImages-459832895.jpg

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2015/08/06/detailed-orderly-and-articulate/

So very proud of this superpatriot

 

Saint Thomas of CottonDear editor:

“Death to America!” This continues to be the chant from those evil, Islamic radicals in Iran. What is there about this message that all of you liberal sympathizers don’t understand? They are clearly saying that they want to kill all of us — including you! Yes! They also regard most of you liberals as their enemy — the infidels!

And these are the crazy people that we are trying to make a deal with? Don’t you realize that Islam teaches and encourages Muslims (in the Quran) to lie to us (the infidels)? Their word is worthless! They have a lengthy past history of lying and cheating.

This is about nuclear bombs, folks! Many of you liberals criticized Sen. Tom Cotton and 46 other Republican senators for signing a letter which let everyone know that Congress will no longer be ignored on this most critical matter. Shame on you for not appreciating that Sen. Cotton is trying to do everything in his power to protect all of us from this extreme danger!

I’m so very proud of this superpatriot, as well as those other 46 GOP senators! This is a real man and he shows real courage and true character.

So many of you misguided liberals seem so proud of the reckless, dangerous, radical Obama, who definitely seems to be much friendlier with our enemies than to our longtime allies! Obama has such a strong disdain for our old friend, Israel, and their great leader, Netanyahu — that he can’t even fake it anymore!

Remember back in 2012 that Obama met with the outgoing Russian president, Medvedev, and Obama didn’t realize the microphone was still on? Obama was heard to say: “‘This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility, particularly with missile defense.’ Obama was saying that he wants to give the Russians more concessions, especially on missile defense, but he didn’t want to have to defend such actions in an election year” (quotes from “Obama’s America” by Dinesh D’Souza; Pages 8, 9).

Can you imagine President Reagan ever making shady deals with the Russians like that? Or any of our other past presidents? How about the traditional Democrat, President John F. Kennedy? No way! He stood up to the Russian missile threat in Cuba!

And Obama is the president that you liberal folks are trusting to make a deal with the evil Iranian radicals! Surely you are living in fantasy-land! Obama comes out of the corrupt Chicago political background and has associated with many other radicals and communists!

Obama is easily the most extreme left-wing president (of any major party) in all of American history! He fools lots of people with his personality and charm, his lying and deceptions — even doing a comedy routine when needed.

Wake up people! This is dead serious. We’re dealing with Islamic terrorists who have vowed to kill us! Unfortunately, we have a president who has shown himself to be a Muslim sympathizer over and over again! (I wonder why?)

Pray for America’s and Israel’s safety.

Lloyd Hoffman
Hot Springs

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2015/03/25/so-very-proud-of-this-superpatriot/