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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Thomas Friedman, "A Good Bad Deal?": In Defense of a Second Holocaust

Do you remember being told by the Obama administration, "No deal is better than a bad deal"? Those days are long forgotten.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "A Good Bad Deal?," would-be Middle East expert and Obama acolyte Thomas Friedman expresses amazement over Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei's success at finagling the United States into a flimsy nuclear deal:

"It’s still not clear if the last remaining obstacles to a deal will be resolved. But it is stunning to me how well the Iranians, sitting alone on their side of the table, have played a weak hand against the United States, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain on their side of the table. When the time comes, I’m hiring Ali Khamenei to sell my house.

. . . .

[F]or the past year every time there is a sticking point — like whether Iran should have to ship its enriched uranium out of the country or account for its previous nuclear bomb-making activities — it keeps feeling as if it’s always our side looking to accommodate Iran’s needs. I wish we had walked out just once. When you signal to the guy on the other side of the table that you’re not willing to either blow him up or blow him off — to get up and walk away — you reduce yourself to just an equal and get the best bad deal nonviolence can buy."

But Obama didn't blow Khamenei off, and needless to say, Friedman blames George W. Bush for failing "to address this problem — when it was smaller" before Obama came to power.

Then comes the inevitable: In an attempt to justify this abomination, Friedman writes:

"But is it still possible to get a good bad deal — one that, while it does not require Iran to dismantle its nuclear enrichment infrastructure, shrinks that infrastructure for the next 10 to 15 years so Iran can’t make a quick breakout to a bomb? A deal that also gives us a level of transparency to monitor that agreement and gives international inspectors timely intrusive access to anywhere in Iran we suspect covert nuclear activity? One that restricts Iran from significantly upgrading its enrichment capacity over the next decade, as the bipartisan group of experts convened by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy proposed last week?

Yes. A good bad deal along such lines is still possible — and that will depend on the details now being negotiated at this 11th hour. Such a deal would enable the president to say to a skeptical Congress and Israel that he has gotten the best bad deal that an empty holster can buy, and that it has bought time for a transformation in Iran that is better than starting a war whose fallout no one can foretell."

Excuse me, Tom Terrific, but what happens after 10 years, when Iran mounts its nuclear weapons on an arsenal of ICBMs, whose construction isn't constrained by the agreement (assuming, of course that Iran doesn't cheat on the agreement before that time - which it will)? And in case you're not aware, the requirement of "anywhere, anytime access" has been dropped by John ("Assad is my dear friend") Kerry and "social worker turned nuclear negotiator" Wendy Sherman, who miserably failed to prevent North Korea from building atomic bombs. (After the deal is announced, do you think Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Zarif will plant a kiss on the cheek of Sherman, who is Jewish?)

Friedman concludes with a caveat:

"An Iran that is unshackled from sanctions and gets an injection of over $100 billion in cash will be even more superior in power than all of its Arab neighbors. Therefore, the U.S. needs to take the lead in initiating a modus vivendi between Sunni Arabs and Persian Shiites and curb Iran’s belligerence toward Israel. If we can’t help defuse those conflicts, a good bad deal could very easily fuel a wider regional war."

Curb "Iran’s belligerence toward Israel"? You mean, stop threatening Israel every week with annihilation? Actually, maybe it is Iran that should be seeking to curb Obama's belligerence toward Israel. Could it be that Obama's concessions to Khamenei, unfathomable even to Friedman, stem from his deep-seated hatred for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu?

More to the point, It will only take one atomic bomb in the center of Israel to wipe the Jewish State off the map, as repeatedly threatened by the mullahs, and Obama's "good bad deal" is making this potential second Holocaust a more than conceivable consequence of this folly. Sorry, Tom, but there can be no rationalizing such a scenario.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

David Brooks, "The Next Culture War": Why Should Only Heterosexuals Be Forced to Suffer?

First, allow me to go on record as stating that I support gay and lesbian marriage. Why should only heterosexuals be forced to suffer? However, in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Next Culture War," David Brooks addresses the issue of gay and lesbian marriage from a different angle. Brooks writes:

"Most Christian commentary has opted for another strategy: fight on. Several contributors to a symposium in the journal First Things about the court’s Obergefell decision last week called the ruling the Roe v. Wade of marriage. It must be resisted and resisted again. Robert P. George, probably the most brilliant social conservative theorist in the country, argued that just as Lincoln persistently rejected the Dred Scott decision, so 'we must reject and resist an egregious act of judicial usurpation.'

These conservatives are enmeshed in a decades-long culture war that has been fought over issues arising from the sexual revolution. Most of the conservative commentators I’ve read over the past few days are resolved to keep fighting that war.

. . . .

I don’t expect social conservatives to change their positions on sex, and of course fights about the definition of marriage are meant as efforts to reweave society. But the sexual revolution will not be undone anytime soon. The more practical struggle is to repair a society rendered atomized, unforgiving and inhospitable. Social conservatives are well equipped to repair this fabric, and to serve as messengers of love, dignity, commitment, communion and grace."

Sorry, David, but I'm not big on proselytizing. Send a horde of social conservatives to Baltimore "to serve as messengers of love, dignity, commitment, communion and grace"? Why do I think this is not going to work? Instead, I think social conservatives should enjoy their love, dignity, commitment, communion and grace within their own homes and communities. If it works for them in these unsettling times, I am confident their values and lifestyles will be discovered and emulated by those outside their communities.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Washington Post, "Israel intercepts Gaza-bound aid ship in Mediterranean": An Aid-Ship Carrying No Aid?

Currently on the Washington Post homepage under "More Headlines," there is a link "Israel intercepts Gaza-bound aid ship" which takes you to the article "Israel intercepts Gaza-bound aid ship in Mediterranean" by William Booth. Booth states in his article:

"The Swedish-registered Marianne of Gothenburg was attempting to enter Israeli-controlled waters in the Mediterranean Sea and deliver aid packages to Gaza."

Israeli Defense Minister Ya'alon, however, has declared there was no aid aboard the said ship.

In today's brave new world, are there "aid-ships" carrying no aid?

I asked WaPo to correct (I copied Martin Baron on the email), and let's see if they are willing to address this egregious blunder.

Obama Surrenders to Khamenei: What Happened to "No Deal Is Better Than a Bad Deal"?

Yesterday, we learned that Prime Minister Netanyahu had stated to an Israeli cabinet meeting:

"We see before our very eyes that the world powers are retreating from the red lines they set for themselves recently and publicly. There is no reason to rush to sign this bad deal, which becomes worse every day. It’s not too late to go back and make demands that will really prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, and will prevent it from receiving funds that will sponsor its aggression, its expansion, and the terror attacks that it carries out all over the world."

What was the reason for Netanyahu's concern? It wasn't clear. Today, however, we know the answer. DEBKAfile now informs us of three horrifying concessions made by Obama to Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei:

"1. After barring International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections of suspect sites for years, Tehran will now be allowed to submit a paper with answers to queries about its past clandestine activities at those military sites, such as suspected tests of nuclear bomb detonators and explosives.

. . . .

2. Obama and Kerry have withdrawn the 'any time, anywhere' stipulation for snap inspections of suspect nuclear facilities, as mandated by the Additional Protocol signed by Iran. They now agree that international monitors must first submit a request to an 'Iranian Committee' (not even a joint US-Iranian committee) for advance permission to inspect nuclear facilities.

. . . .

3. Washington has backed down on its insistence on predicating sanctions relief on Iran’s compliance with its obligations under the final accord. After Tehran countered with a demand for the sanctions to be lifted immediately upon the signing of the accord, the Obama administration agreed to remove them in three stages:

a) Straight after the deal is signed.

b) After ratification of the accord by the US Congress and Iranian Majlis. This process is expected to take place by the end of 2015, and so Iran will win two multibillion windfalls this year without being required to meet any obligations beyond its signature. Obama counts on the support of 34 US senators. In any case, Congress is not empowered to reject or delay the deal.

c) All remaining sanctions will be lifted when implementation of the accord begins."

This amounts to little less than abject surrender on the part of Obama. Is there anyone willing to oppose America's president? Could it be that Obama is continuing to seek revenge against Netanyahu? You will recall how Obama and Kerry sought to impose Turkish and Qatari mediation upon Netanyahu during Israel's war with Hamas last summer. With a year and a half remaining of his presidency, Obama is revealing his true colors.

Paul Krugman, "Greece Over the Brink": Is America Next?

"The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion for the first 42 presidents - #43 added $4 trillion by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back -- $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That's irresponsible. It's unpatriotic."

- Barack Obama, July 3, 2008

Well, US national debt has now reached an unsustainable $18.3 trillion, amounting to $57,000 for every American man, woman and child. Care to comment, Mr. President? And although today's headlines are all about the economic woes of Greece and Puerto Rico, the United States of America is not far behind, although no one dares say anything. You will recall the frightened silence of those observing the the emperor's parade in "The Emperor's New Clothes" . . .

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Greece Over the Brink," Paul Krugman declares that "the creation of the euro was a terrible mistake," which trapped Greece in an "economic straitjacket." Observing that "[c]ases of successful austerity, in which countries rein in deficits without bringing on a depression, typically involve large currency devaluations that make their exports more competitive" (something Greece cannot do to the euro), Krugman urges Greek voters to reject demands from creditors for harsher austerity:

"This isn’t about analysis, it’s about power — the power of the creditors to pull the plug on the Greek economy, which persists as long as euro exit is considered unthinkable.

So it’s time to put an end to this unthinkability. Otherwise Greece will face endless austerity, and a depression with no hint of an end."

Regrettably, Krugman does not bother mentioning Puerto Rico in his op-ed. As reported by Michael Fletcher in a Washington Post article entitled "Puerto Rico says it cannot pay its debt, setting off potential crisis in the U.S.":

"The governor of Puerto Rico has decided that the island cannot pay back more than $70 billion in debt, setting up an unprecedented financial crisis that could rock the municipal bond market and lead to higher borrowing costs for governments across the United States.

Puerto Rico’s move could roil financial markets already dealing with the turmoil of the renewed debt crisis in Greece. It also raises questions about the once-staid municipal bond market, which states and cities count on to pay upfront costs for public improvements such as roads, parks and hospitals.

For many years, those bonds were considered safe investments — but those assumptions have been shifting in recent years as a small but steady string of U.S. municipalities, including Detroit, as well as Stockton and Vallejo in California, have tumbled into bankruptcy."

Puerto Rico cannot file for bankruptcy, and no one, least of all Krugman, knows if this crisis, involving both Greece and Puerto Rico, could snowball. Pretty it won't be.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Ray Takeyh, "The payoff for Iran": Yes, There Will Be a Deal Paving the Way to Iranian Regional Hegemony

No need to hold your breath. Although the negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran will extend beyond the June 30 deadline, a deal will be reached several days thereafter. You see, Iran needs the $50 billion signing bonus to fund its international terror network, but it will first squeeze everything it can from a naive, indulgent Obama administration.

I can also promise that Iran will breach the agreement several days thereafter, paving the way to an Iranian nuclear arsenal years before the expiration of the 10-year sunset clause, although it may take the US months to catch on. And if Obama is still president, he will do nothing about it.

Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, concludes regarding the soon-to-be-finalized deal with Iran in a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "The payoff for Iran":

"The much-discussed terms of the impending agreement with Iran thus offer the theocracy all that it wants. The accord would concede a vast enrichment capacity, as well as accepting both a heavy water plant and a well-fortified underground enrichment facility that the United States once vowed to shutter. It would permit an elaborate research and development program and would likely rely on an inspection regime that falls short of indispensable 'anytime, anywhere' access. In the meantime, the sanctions architecture will be diminished, and the notion of ever 'snapping back' sanctions into place once they are lifted is delusional. And because the agreement itself would be term-limited, there would be no practical limits on Iran’s nuclear ambitions upon its expiration.

However, as disturbing as all this may be, the most important legacy of the prospective agreement many not even lie in the nuclear realm. The massive financial gains from the deal would enable the Islamic Republic’s imperial surge while allowing a repressive regime that was on the brink of collapse in 2009 to consolidate power. This would be no small achievement for Iran’s emboldened rulers."

No "anytime, anywhere" access, and no snapbacks of sanctions"? Indeed, "no small achievement for Iran’s emboldened rulers," and part and parcel of Obama's devastating legacy to boot.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Philip Gordon, "Bibi’s man in D.C., still spinning for the boss": A Hatchet Job of a Book Review

On Friday night, the White House was awash with the colors of the rainbow to celebrate the Supreme Court’s decision that marriage equality is a constitutional right. The light show came at a time when the Obama administration was seeking to finalize a nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran, which hangs homosexuals. Of course, Obama has always voiced his opposition to the murder of gay men by Iran . . . or has he? As observed by Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, who serves on the board of the Harvard International Review at Harvard University, in a Front Page Magazine article entitled "An Execution Wave Against LGBT Iranians":

"President Barack Obama has long depicted himself as a defender of women’s and LGBT rights not only in the United States but across the world as well. Yet, where is his voice when it comes to the growing number of executions and the persecution of the gay and lesbian community as well as the repression of women in the Islamic Republic of Iran? In addition, why has the LGBT movement not criticized the Obama administration or made a movement over these injustices, egregious actions, and human rights violations committed in the Islamic Republic against the gays and lesbians?

As the Obama administration continues to communicate and diplomatically negotiate with Iranian officials in Vienna, New York, and elsewhere, President Obama has not even slightly expressed his concern about the unfair actions, executions, discriminations and prosecutions of LGBT individuals, as well as the increasing repressions of women under the Rouhani administration."

Also in the news on Friday, we learned that a Geocartography Institute poll has determined that a whopping 48.5 percent of Jewish Israeli respondents said that Obama's proposed nuclear deal with Iran was a threat to Israel’s existence. Moreover, 44.5 percent of the respondents said they did not trust Obama to maintain Israel’s security. But what could Israelis possibly know about their own survival?

Against the backdrop of the foregoing, today The Washington Post has published an opinion piece/book review entitled "Bibi’s man in D.C., still spinning for the boss" by Philip Gordon of Michael Oren's "Ally." As noted by the opinion piece/book review, Philip Gordon "is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations" and "[f]rom 2013 until this spring he was the White House coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Persian Gulf region." Michael Oren was the Israeli ambassador to the US from 2009 to 2013 and is now a member of the Israeli parliament, although he does not belong to Prime Minister Netanyahu's Likud Party.

Acknowledging that Obama's desire to reach a nuclear deal with Iran is "a signature foreign policy initiative of the U.S. president," Gordon writes of Oren's book, whose release was timed around the June 30 deadline for an agreement between the P5+1 and Iran:

"The value of the book is that it reflects a view genuinely held by many Israelis: that the Obama administration, naively seeking to repair U.S. ties to the Muslim world and failing to appreciate Israel’s value to the United States, broke with decades of U.S. policy toward the region by systematically siding with the Palestinians and seeking a reconciliation with Iran. The problem with the book is that Oren’s main argument is a caricature, bolstered by exaggerations and distortions that will probably contribute to the deterioration of the very relationship the author purports to cherish.

Take, for example, Oren’s contention that by publicly airing differences with Israel, Obama broke with a long-standing principle that there should never be 'daylight' in the relationship. Really? To take just a few examples, Dwight Eisenhower slammed Israel for the 1956 Suez operation and forced it into a humiliating retreat; Gerald Ford froze arms deliveries and announced a reassessment of the relationship as a way of pressing Israel to withdraw from the Sinai; Jimmy Carter clashed repeatedly with Prime Minister Menachem Begin before, during and after the 1978 Camp David summit. Ronald Reagan denounced Israel’s strike on the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq and enraged Jerusalem by selling surveillance planes to Saudi Arabia; George H.W. Bush blocked loan guarantees to Israel over settlements; Bill Clinton clashed publicly with Israel over the size of proposed West Bank withdrawals; George W. Bush called for a settlement freeze in the 2002 road map for peace and afterward repeatedly criticized Israel for construction in the West Bank. In other words, Oren has a point — except in the case of virtually every Republican and Democratic U.S. administration since Israel’s founding."

Or stated otherwise, Gordon would have us know that Obama's difficulties with Israel are no different from those of other US presidents (Jonathan Broder makes a similar argument in Newsweek) . . . or are they? You see, Obama declared in a December 2014 NPR interview:

"So, when I came into office, the world was divided and Iran was in the driver's seat. Now the world's united because of the actions we've taken, and Iran's the one that's isolated.

They have a path to break through that isolation and they should seize it. Because if they do, there's incredible talent and resources and sophistication inside of — inside of Iran, and it would be a very successful regional power that was also abiding by international norms and international rules, and that would be good for everybody. That would be good for the United States, that would be good for the region, and most of all, it would be good for the Iranian people."

Excuse me, Phil, but which other US president ever envisioned Iran as "a very successful regional power"? Iran is a country that hangs gays, stones to death women accused of adultery, brutally persecutes Baha'is, Christians, Kurds and Sunnis, executes poets for "waging war on God," supports the murderous Assad regime in Syria, exports terror via Hezbollah, and routinely threatens Israel with annihilation. Obama is apparently convinced that he can export "Change" to a savage Iranian theocracy, and is therefore willing to sign a deal whose sunset clause will allow the mullahs to build nuclear weapons within 10 years (if they don't cheat before that time - which they will). Who is being naive?

Gordon accuses Oren of "leveling the outlandish charge that Obama made 'deliberate mistakes' to damage U.S.-Israeli relations — a notion not just oxymoronic but inconsistent with the story and analysis in the book." Gordon, however, makes no reference to recent calls for "Death to America" from Iran's parliament (when people threaten to kill me, I believe them) or Iranian efforts to build ICBMs, which will bring the Iranian nuclear threat to American shores. Of course, all this and more (e.g., Iran's support of the Houthi insurgency in Yemen) should be ignored in order to realize Obama's "signature foreign policy initiative." Who is being moronic (as opposed to "oxymoronic")?

Gordon concludes his opinion piece/book review by accusing Oren of "peddl[ing] a false narrative of American abandonment of Israel." Sorry, Phil, but no one is talking about "American abandonment of Israel." Rather, we are talking about Obama's abandonment of Israel, and yes, I agree with Mike.

Judging from the panicky response of Obama's inner circle, Oren obviously touched a raw nerve.