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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

New York Times Editorial, "Questions on Airstrikes in Syria": Do You Remember the Barbary Pirates?

A hypothetical question: Someone whom you don't know walks up to you and punches you in the nose. Do you then say to yourself, "I don't know this person well enough, and before doing anything rash, I need to know more," or do you respond with a haymaker?

Now consider how the US should respond to the beheading of James Foley.

In an editorial entitled "Questions on Airstrikes in Syria," The New York Times tackles this question by first observing:

"One problem is the administration’s insufficient knowledge about ISIS, including its numbers, skills and organization."

Or in other words, if someone walks up to you and punches you in the nose, i.e. beheads one of your citizens, before responding, you should return home and run a Google search on your attacker.

The Times editorial continues:

"The United States, however, has not been invited into Syria and the administration has not articulated a legal justification for crossing the border. Nor has Mr. Obama explained how Syria’s divided moderate anti-Assad opposition could be strengthened in time to fight against ISIS.

As in Iraq, military action alone is not enough to defeat the extremists who gain followers by exploiting repression against the Sunnis. American officials are organizing a coalition of allies to take on ISIS — for instance, Turkey and some Gulf states are permitting the use of their military bases for airstrikes and European countries are arming the Kurds.

But no comprehensive strategy has been worked out yet. And without that, it would be unwise to expand a mission that President Obama has acknowledged 'won’t be easy, and it won’t be quick.'"

Ah, now I understand: You're at your neighbor's Labor Day weekend barbecue, and someone whom you don't know walks up to you and punches you in the nose. Before responding, you should:

  1. Ask permission from your neighbor to respond;
  2. Put together a coalition of others at the party, who are willing to assist you;
  3. Work out a "comprehensive strategy" for retaliation.

Does this make sense to you? It makes even less sense given that Syria no longer exists as a country, i.e. there is no longer anyone to issue an "invitation." More to the point, does the US require an invitation from Syrian madman Bashar al-Assad before striking ISIS?

New York Times editorials are usually less interesting as regards their inane content, and more interesting as a snapshot of what Obama administration officials are thinking. This editorial is a telling reflection of "Lead from behind" and "Don't do stupid shit."

Do you remember the Barbary Pirates? Unless you studied history, probably not, inasmuch as they were before your time. Back in the 1790s, the Barbary Pirates were being bribed not to raid American shipping in the Mediterannean. But then in 1801, Thomas Jefferson got tired of paying tribute and sent American Naval hero Stephan Decatur and the fledgling US Marines to deal with the problem. Hence, the reference to the "shores of Tripoli" in the "Marine's Hymn."

Now, can you imagine Jefferson saying to himself, "Before dealing with these assaults upon American sovereignty, I must first learn more about these miscreants, ask for the assistance of France and Britain, and seek an invitation to attack"? I didn't think so.

Fortunately for America, Jefferson had bigger cojones than golf fanatic Barack Obama, whose world philosophy revolves around avoiding the rough.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Maureen Dowd, "He Has a Dream": Outsourcing the Presidency

We live in an age of outsourcing. Corporations have discovered that it often makes sense, from the standpoint of cost and efficiency, to outsource various functions, e.g. manufacturing and research and development. This being the case, why not outsource the US presidency, which has grown expensive and "ineffective" (I'm being kind)?

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "He Has a Dream," Maureen Dowd tells us that Obama has "deputized Al Sharpton" in order to deal with Ferguson. Highlighting past escapades of Sharpton, whom she labels "a self-promoting TV pundit with an incendiary record," Dowd concludes:

"Obama has muzzled himself on race and made Sharpton his chosen instrument — two men joined in pragmatism at a moment when idealism is needed.

We can’t expect the president to do everything. But we can expect him to do something."

Ouch.

But more to the point, what should we be expecting of Obama? He is an orator and a writer of books about himself. He still has no managerial experience.

His use of Sharpton? Why should we be surprised? Obama is a radical in moderate's clothing. There was Obama's association with Rashid Khalidi (the 2003 videotape of Obama and Khalidi is still safely locked away in a Los Angeles Times vault). And in March 2009, "activist" (I hate the word) Van Jones was forced to resign as Special Advisor for Green Jobs, but now, with just over two years remaining of his presidency, perhaps Obama feels that he can comfortably do whatever he wants without repercussions.

What should we expect of Obama in 2017 and thereafter? More golf and more books about himself for certain. In addition, Jimmy Carter, a dedicated Israel-hater who has grown decrepit with age, is desperately searching for a successor.

Yes, the world has turned foul.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Frank Bruni, "Lost in America": No We Can't!

Perhaps you recall that in a recent blog item I observed, "Am I just growing grouchy with age, or has the world truly taken a turn for the worse?"

Well, in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Lost in America," Frank Bruni writes:

"More and more I’m convinced that America right now isn’t a country dealing with a mere dip in its mood and might. It’s a country surrendering to a new identity and era, in which optimism is quaint and the frontier anything but endless.

. . . .

It’s about fear. It’s about impotence. We can’t calm the world in the way we’d like to, can’t find common ground and peace at home, can’t pass needed laws, can’t build necessary infrastructure, can’t, can’t, can’t."

Meanwhile, the United States has grown dependent upon Qatar, a country the size of Connecticut that funds Islamic terrorism, to broker deals with the Taliban and the al-Nusra Front.

"Yes we can!"?

Last week, if you had listened carefully to the gentle breezes blowing over the Farm Neck Golf Club Golf Course in Martha's Vineyard, you might have discerned the wearisome whispers of "No we can't!"

Roger Cohen, "The Making of a Disaster": When You Play With the Devil (Qatar), There Is Hell to Pay

In a New York Times editorial entitled "The Making of a Disaster," Roger ("Iran is not totalitarian") Cohen is back today with an explanation of why "The chicken that came home to roost from the Syrian debacle is called ISIS." Cohen provides a laundry list of contributory factors:

  • Bush’s "bungled war in Iraq;"
  • Saudi and Pakistani funding "of violent Sunni extremism;"
  • failure to demonstrate in Egypt "that Arab societies can evolve out of the radicalizing confrontation of dictatorship and Islamism;"
  • Obama's inaction and failure to enforce a red line in Syria following Assad's use of chemical weapons against civilians;
  • failure to anticipate that jihadi extremists would fill the resultant Arab "vacuum;"
  • "inattention, until it was too late, to festering sectarian conflict in a broken Iraqi society left to its fate by a complete American withdrawal."

Saudi and Pakistani funding of Sunni extremism? Cohen forgets to mention Qatar, a country with which the US signed an $11 billion arms deal in July.

Qatar? Funny you should ask. As reported by Al Jazeera yesterday in an article entitled "Kidnapped US journalist freed in Syria" (my emphasis in red):

"An American journalist kidnapped nearly two years ago has been freed in Syria following Qatari mediation and handed over to UN peacekeepers in the Golan Heights.

Peter Theo Curtis was handed over to UN peacekeepers in the village of al-Rafid, Quneitra, on Sunday. He has since been turned over to representatives from the US government after undergoing medical check-up, the UN said.

Curtis' family thanked both the governments of the US and Qatar, as well as others who helped negotiate his release.

According to a statement from his family, Curtis was captured in October 2012 and was reportedly held by the al-Nusra Front or by splinter groups allied with the al-Qaeda-affiliated group."

And as reported by The Washington Post today in an article entitled "Qatar played now-familiar role in helping to broker U.S. hostage’s release" by Adam Goldman and Karen DeYoung:

"Qatar, whose relationships with Islamist groups has at times been publicly questioned by the administration, has privately become the go-to U.S. partner for indirect communications with those groups. They include Hamas, at war with Israel in the Gaza Strip for the past month, and Jabhat al-Nusra, the group that held Curtis, which the United States has designated a foreign terrorist organization and a 'wholly owned subsidiary' of al-Qaeda.
. . . .

Qatari officials say their country’s contributions are the natural outgrowth of their belief in nonjudgmental dialogue.

. . . .

Obama administration officials don’t necessarily buy into the altruistic narrative, and some share the concern of Qatar’s Persian Gulf neighbors that it is seeking only to boost its status as a regional power far beyond its size. While Treasury Department officials have said the Qatari government no longer funds groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra, they believe that a handful of wealthy Qatari individuals continue to raise funds for Islamist groups in Syria."

What is the reason that Qatar wields such enormous power over the al-Nusra Front and the Taliban (Qatar brokered the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl last month in May)? Answer: Qatar's ongoing funding of terror. Qatar no longer funds the al-Nusra Front and ISIS? Bullshit! If Qatar didn't want to continue funding these monstrous Islamic terrorist organization, it would not allow its citizens to continue to make "contributions."

And although there was no direct payment of ransom for the release of Peter Theo Curtis, America's $11 billion arms deal with Qatar in June greased the wheels.

Apparently, Obama and friends never learned that when you play with the devil, ultimately there is hell to pay.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Ron Prosor, "Club Med for Terrorists": What About the US Arms Sale to Qatar Totaling $11 Billion?

Earlier this month, I submitted an opinion piece to The Washington Post entitled "Kerry, Cairo and Qatar: The Mystery Surrounding an American Foreign Policy Fiasco." I observed Qatar's links to radical Islamic organizations throughout the Middle East, including Hamas, the al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State, alternatively known as ISIL or ISIS. In addition, I noted the Obama administration's demand that Israel accept Qatari mediation of the Gaza conflict, coming on the heels of the July sale by the US of $11 billion of arms (including 500 Javelin anti-tank missiles) to Qatar.

What use does a nation the size of Connecticut with a population of 2 million have for so many anti-tank missiles? None. You know as well as I do where these missiles will be headed.

Last Wednesday, the same day on which I was notified by WaPo that they were not interested in my opinion piece, German Development Minister Gerd Mueller accused Qatar of financing Islamic State terrorists. Of course, Merkel is unwilling to take a position with respect to these allegations directed against the world's richest country per capita.

Today, in a guest opinion piece entitled "Club Med for Terrorists," Israel's ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, asks that the world tell Qatar to stop financing Hamas. Prosor writes:

"In recent years, the sheikhs of Doha, Qatar’s capital, have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to Gaza. Every one of Hamas’s tunnels and rockets might as well have had a sign that read 'Made possible through a kind donation from the emir of Qatar.'

. . . .

[Qatar] harbors leading Islamist radicals like the spiritual leader of the global Muslim Brotherhood, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who issued a religious fatwa endorsing suicide attacks, and the Doha-based history professor Abdul Rahman Omeir al-Naimi, whom the United States Department of Treasury has named as a 'terrorist financier' for Al Qaeda. Qatar also funds a life of luxury for Khaled Meshal, the fugitive leader of Hamas."

No mention, however, by Prosor of the July sale by the United States of $11 billion of advanced armaments to Qatar. Why no mention? Perhaps given Israel's current difficult relationship with the Obama administration, he didn't wish to pour fuel on the fire.

Me? I don't need to be diplomatic. The sale of these weapons to Qatar by the Obama administration is nothing less than an obscenity.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Maureen Dowd, "The Golf Address": Foley and Ferguson, Consecutive Double Bogeys

Bravo, Maureen.

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Golf Address," a parody on Lincoln's Gettysberg Address, Dowd takes Obama to task for spending so much time on the Martha's Vineyard links, at a time when the country and the world are awash in crisis. Dowd begins:

"FORE! Score? And seven trillion rounds ago, our forecaddies brought forth on this continent a new playground, conceived by Robert Trent Jones, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal when it comes to spending as much time on the links as possible — even when it seems totally inappropriate, like moments after making a solemn statement condemning the grisly murder of a 40-year-old American journalist beheaded by ISIL."

Cute. Or not so cute for anyone who has seen the picture of James Foley's decapitated body.

But let's be honest: Is there anyone naive enough to believe that Obama really gives a damn about Foley? Obama suffers from a narcissistic personality disorder. He doesn't care about the feelings of others.

And even if he had cut his vacation short for the sake of optics, what would it have accomplished? If he had spent a day "brainstorming" with Valerie "the Night Stalker" Jarrett,  John "I didn't inject Botox" Kerry, and Chuck "Chowderhead" Hagel, might this foursome have emerged with a game plan? Not a chance.

But as long as we're on the subject on ISIL, you should be asking yourself how it came to pass that America's president recently approved an $11 billion arms deal with Qatar, the world's premier financier of terror, who make the Saudis appear like choirboys. The US will soon be supplying Qatar with 500 Javelin anti-tank missiles, which, I promise you, will soon find their way into the hands of ISIL, the al-Nusra Front, and Hamas.

Am I just growing grouchy with age, or has the world truly taken a turn for the worse?

US State Department Spokesdimwit Marie Harf: ISIS and Hamas "Quite Different in Some Ways"

When asked about Netanyahu's comparison of ISIS and Hamas on Wednesday, US State Department spokesdimwit spokesperson Marie Harf responded:

"They’re both foreign terrorist organizations designated under United States law, but I’m not going to do any more comparison of them. Obviously, they’re quite different in some ways."

Harf's circumlocutions remind me of the painfully awful book launch speech scene from Bridget Jones's Diary (2001).

Well, following the execution by Hamas on Friday of 18 alleged "collaborators," even the Palestian Authority president's secretary-general, Tayeb Abdel Rahim, is claiming that these executions are akin to those being perpertrated by the Islamic State.

Perhaps someone would care to ask Harf again for her "expert" opinion.