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Saturday, August 30, 2014

New York Times Editorial, "Stop Hiding Images of American Torture": Stop Hiding the Videotape of Obama Honoring Khalidi

In an editorial entitled "Stop Hiding Images of American Torture," The New York Times concludes:

"Images of war are frequently appalling, and the safety of American citizens and soldiers is vitally important. But the greatest threat to that safety lies not in the photographs of horrific behavior; it lies in the fact of the behavior itself. The treatment of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere was a shameful episode in U.S. history.

America reinforces its values and thus its security by being transparent about even the worst abuses of those values, not by hiding the evidence deep in a file drawer."

In response, I have two thoughts:

On April 18, 2012 The Los Angeles Times published photos of American soldiers posing with the remains of Afghan suicide bombers. On the other hand, The Los Angeles Times is keeping a 2003 videotape of Obama toasting Rashid Khalidi in a vault, not a "file drawer." Isn't it high time for The Los Angeles Times to release this videotape, which reveals the candid thoughts of America's commander-in-chief?

In addition, if The New York Times wishes to publish photographs of "horrific behavior" by American troops, perhaps they might first want to publish pictures of the decapitation of James Foley? Indeed the pictures of Foley's decapitation are horrifying beyond words, but perhaps they would go a long way toward placing Obama's golf game, minutes after his speech condemning Foley's execution, in perspective.

In fact, out of deference to Foley's family, I wouldn't want these pictures on the front page of The New York Times or any other newspaper. Some images are just too horrible to be exposed in this manner.

But does The New York Times truly seek transparency? Rubbish! They cannot acknowledge their own mistakes, and they are certainly not about to print anything that might besmirch their beloved president.

Friday, August 29, 2014

John Kerry, "To Defeat Terror, We Need the World’s Help": Indeed, "We Don't Have a Strategy Yet"

As reported earlier this week in a Time article entitled "Obama Says ‘We Don’t Have a Strategy Yet’ for Fighting ISIS" by Zeke Miller:

"President Barack Obama seemed to commit the worst of Washington gaffes Thursday when he updated the American people about the ongoing threat from Islamist militants wreaking havoc in Iraq and Syria.

'I don’t want to put the cart before the horse: we don’t have a strategy yet,' Obama said of the effort to combat the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) in its safe haven in Syria. 'I think what I’ve seen in some of the news reports suggest that folks are getting a little further ahead of what we’re at than what we currently are.'"

Or is Obama, already desperate to finish his second term and go back to writing books about himself, reluctant to put the cart before the "hearse" and not the "horse"?  It's not every day that the president of the world's sole superpower acknowledges that he is clueless as to how to handle the world's premier terrorist organization.

Well, not exactly clueless. How about just plain stupid? In July, the Obama administration inked an agreement to sell $11 billion of arms (including 500 Javelin anti-tank missiles) to Qatar, and as observed in a recent Daily Beast article by Josh Rogin entitled "America's Allies Are Funding ISIS" (my emphasis in red):

"But in the years they were getting started, a key component of ISIS’s support came from wealthy individuals in the Arab Gulf States of Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Sometimes the support came with the tacit nod of approval from those regimes; often, it took advantage of poor money laundering protections in those states, according to officials, experts, and leaders of the Syrian opposition, which is fighting ISIS as well as the regime."

It would take a fool to believe that the anti-tank missiles being sold by the US to Qatar will not ultimately find their way into the hands of ISIS, the al-Nusra Front and Hamas.

My suggestion: Following his "we don't have a strategy yet" remark, maybe it would be best for Obama to disappear on another Martha's Vineyard golfing holiday.

But wait! None other than US Secretary of State John (Assad is "my dear friend") Kerry has resurfaced, after his failed Gaza mission, to save the president's butt! In a guest New York Times op-ed entitled "To Defeat Terror, We Need the World’s Help," Kerry refers to the Islamic State "threat" or "threatened" five times (my emphasis again in red):

  • "In a polarized region and a complicated world, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria presents a unifying threat to a broad array of countries, including the United States."
  • "ISIS (which the United States government calls ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) poses a threat well beyond the region."
  • "Its leaders have repeatedly threatened the United States."
  • "Following the [Nato Summit meeting in Wales], Mr. Hagel and I plan to travel to the Middle East to develop more support for the coalition among the countries that are most directly threatened."
  • "During the General Assembly session, President Obama will lead a summit meeting of the Security Council to put forward a plan to deal with this collective threat."

Okay, I think we understand: ISIS poses a threat. But what is the United States planning to do about it? Simple! Kerry explains at the end of his opinion piece:

"ISIS’ abhorrent tactics are uniting and rallying neighbors with traditionally conflicting interests to support Iraq’s new government. And over time, this coalition can begin to address the underlying factors that fuel ISIS and other terrorist organizations with like-minded agendas.

Coalition building is hard work, but it is the best way to tackle a common enemy. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, the first President George Bush and Secretary of State James A. Baker III did not act alone or in haste. They methodically assembled a coalition of countries whose concerted action brought a quick victory.

Extremists are defeated only when responsible nations and their peoples unite to oppose them."

Great, let's wait until the US is able to put a coalition together, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, which have been funding, either directly or indirectly, ISIS on the sly.

Kerry's support for this new "strategy"? President George Bush's victory over Saddam Hussein. Of course, Kerry avoids any mention whatsoever of what happened in Libya three years ago. In 2011, Obama organized a five-nation coalition to cripple Qaddafi's defenses using airstrikes, and we all know what resulted from that intervention: chaos. As President Obama recently acknowledged to Thomas Friedman:

"I think we [and] our European partners underestimated the need to come in full force if you're going to do this."

The first invertebrate ever to occupy the Oval Office is now going to "come in full force" against ISIS? Get real! In fact, notwithstanding Kerry's attempt to paper over Obama's faux pas, there is still no US strategy vis-à-vis ISIS.

Go back to sleep, John.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

David Brooks, "The Mental Virtues": What About Anti-Semitism at The New York Times?

In his latest New York Times op-ed, "The Mental Virtues," David Brooks asks, "Is it possible to display and cultivate character if you are just an information age office jockey, alone with a memo or your computer?" Brooks's answer:

"Thinking well under a barrage of information may be a different sort of moral challenge than fighting well under a hail of bullets, but it’s a character challenge nonetheless."

Brooks next claims that we can "grade ourselves" on the "cerebral values" listed by a book entitled "Intellectual Virtues" by Robert C. Roberts of Baylor University and W. Jay Wood of Wheaton College. The values:

  • love of learning
  • courage
  • firmness
  • humility
  • autonomy
  • generosity

Brooks's conclusion:

"Character tests are pervasive even in modern everyday life. It’s possible to be heroic if you’re just sitting alone in your office. It just doesn’t make for a good movie."

Great news! I just can't wait to receive my virtual Congressional Medal of Honor in an email from Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama.

Meanwhile, wouldn't it be wonderful if even one op-ed writer at The New York Times would have the guts to confront the issue of anti-Semitism at The New York Times? As Dr. Phyllis Chesler recently wrote in an article entitled "Incitement to Genocide: How NY Times' Coverage and UN Complicity Breed Anti-Semitism":

"The twenty-first century coverage of Israel and Zionism in the paper of record far exceeds its twentieth century pattern of mere dismissal. In the last fourteen years—in the last year-- in article after article, photograph after photograph, and especially when Israel has been under attack, this paper has systematically put forth an Islamist and pro-Hamas agenda with malice aforethought. If not 'malice,' then the level of willful journalistic ignorance and blindness is hard to believe."

New York Times double standards involving Israel? As recently observed by CAMERA:

"We found that 6 out of 7 NYT editorials addressing the Arab-Israeli conflict were negative toward Israel, while none were positive. Opinion columns by NYT staff followed the same pattern of condemning Israel: 5 out of 6 were negative toward Israel, while none were positive. As for invited Op-Eds on the topic, 15 out of 20 were negative toward Israel, while only one was positive."

More evidence of outrageous anti-Semitism at the Times? Have a look at "Roger Cohen, "A Jew Not Quite English Enough": What About Anti-Semitism at The New York Times?"

Mr. Brooks, I don't give a damn about any laundry list of "cerebral qualities" evidencing heroism. I'm merely waiting for you or any other Times writer to confront your newspaper with its incitement against Israel, which sparks racial hatred.

That would take courage.


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.

Khaled Mashaal Acknowledges Hamas Killed 3 Israeli Teenagers: Do Andrew Sullivan, Katie Zavadski and Sheera Frenkel Care to Comment?

In a Yahoo! News article entitled "Hamas leader: Don't compare us to ISIL," Khaled Mashaal acknowledges that Hamas was responsible for the killing of the three Israeli teenagers, which led up to the current Gaza conflict:

"Meshaal acknowledged for the first time that Hamas members — but not the group's political leadership — were behind the slaying of three Israeli settlers on the West Bank in June. But he defended the murders as a legitimate action against Israeli 'illegal occupation.'"

But notwithstanding Mashaal's attempt to distance Hamas's leadership from the murders, Haaretz reported two days ago in an article entitled "Hamas claims responsibility for three Israeli teens' kidnapping and murder":

"A senior Hamas official boasted during a conference in Istanbul on Wednesday that the group's military wing was behind the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank in June.

A video captured during the conference shows Salah Arouri, who is based in Turkey and is considered a primary figure within Hamas, saying that the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades were responsible for the abduction of the three youths, Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16."

You will recall that Katie Zavadski in a New York Magazine article entitled "It Turns Out Hamas May Not Have Kidnapped and Killed the 3 Israeli Teens After All [Updated]" wrote:

"BuzzFeed reporter Sheera Frenkel was among the first to suggest that it was unlikely that Hamas was behind the deaths of Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel, and Eyal Yifrach. Citing Palestinian sources and experts in the field, Frenkel reported that kidnapping three Israeli teens would be a foolish move for Hamas. International experts told her it was likely the work of a local group, acting without concern for the repercussions."

Following Zavadski's piece, Andrew Sullivan's The Dish told us in an item entitled "The Lie Behind The War":

"Katie Zavadski, fresh from a Dishternship, nails down a critical fact in the latest Israel-Hamas death-match. As the Dish has noted before, the Israeli government knew from the get-go that the murderers of three Israeli teens – the incident that set off this bloody chain of events – were not doing official Hamas’ bidding even in the West Bank, let alone Gaza."

Do Andrew Sullivan, Katie Zavadski and Sheera Frenkel wish to say anything further on the subject?

[I sent an email to Andrew Sullivan, requesting a retraction. Do you think he will bother to respond?]

Ed Husain, "Saudis Must Stop Exporting Extremism": And What About Qatar?

In a New York Times guest op-ed entitled "Saudis Must Stop Exporting Extremism," with a subheading "ISIS Atrocities Started With Saudi Support for Salafi Hate," Ed Husain, "an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a senior adviser to the Tony Blair Faith Foundation," courageously writes:

"Let’s be clear: Al Qaeda, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Boko Haram, the Shabab and others are all violent Sunni Salafi groupings. For five decades, Saudi Arabia has been the official sponsor of Sunni Salafism across the globe."

Finally, the link between Saudi Arabia and the Islamic State, alternately known as ISIS or ISIL, is being acknowledged in a national US newspaper. However, there is no mention of the link between Qatar and the Islamic State and other radical Sunni terrorist organizations in this opinion piece by Husain.

As those who read this blog already know, The Washington Post refused to publish an opinion piece that I submitted, tying Qatar to these terrorist organizations. In July, the US signed an $11 billion arms deal with Qatar, the world's richest country per capita, which has a population of two million and which is the size of Connecticut. In addition, Obama attempted to force Netanyahu to accept Qatari and Turkish mediation of Israel's conflict with Hamas.

When will the US media get around to examining the US arms deal with Qatar and the stench surrounding Qatar's support of terror?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

New York Times Editorial, "Death by Terror": Meanwhile, Obama Sells Arms to Qatar, a Terrorist State

In an editorial entitled "Death by Terror" with the subheading "James Foley’s Execution and the Question of Ransom," The New York Times observes, "There is no simple answer on whether to submit to terrorist extortion." The editorial's asinine conclusion:

"In the meantime, we can honor the many brave journalists, aid workers and civil servants who risk their lives in conflict zones, and grieve for Mr. Foley and the many others who have lost their freedom or their lives."

Remarkably, there is not a single mention in the editorial of Israel's experience in dealing with hostage taking by terrorist organizations over the course of many decades. No mention of the Entebbe raid and no mention of Gilad Shalit.

Also, no mention by the editorial of Obama's soporific response to terror. In his speech on Wednesday, following the murder to James Foley, Obama said of ISIL:

"People like this ultimately fail."

How reassuring. Let's wait around for spontaneous combustion.

Well, the Islamic State will be smashed only if it is pounded into the ground. A few pinprick airstrikes are not going to do the trick.

Most important, the US must stop doing arms deals with countries like Qatar that finance terrorist organizations (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2014/08/i-accuse-obama-selling-arms-to-qatar.html). Shame on Obama for signing an $11 billion arms deal with Qatar and supplying this Lilliputian country with 500 Javelin anti-tank missiles!

I can promise you that these anti-tank missiles will be headed for Hamas and will also find their way into the hands of the Islamic State, i.e. ISIL, but what does Obama care?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I Accuse: Obama Selling Arms to Qatar, a Terrorist State

Yesterday, Obama declared "Today, the entire world is appalled by the brutal murder of Jim Foley by the terrorist group." But is Obama truly "appalled" by the beheading of Foley, a freelance journalist, by the Islamic State, alternately known as ISIL or ISIS? If so, why is he selling billion of dollars of arms to Qatar, a tiny country which is the primary benefactor of Hamas, and whose citizens are believed to have funded the Islamic State and the radical al-Nusra Front? What precautions has Obama taken to prevent the advanced arms now being sold to Qatar from being transferred to these terrorist organizations? Why did Obama demand that Israel agree to Qatari mediation of Israel's war with Hamas in Gaza?

I submitted a guest opinion piece to a senior editor of The Washington Post, but yesterday he turned it down, explaining only "we're not able to use your piece." Below is the op-ed that I prepared for WaPo. Read it and decide for yourselves why WaPo could not "use" it:


Kerry, Cairo and Qatar: The Mystery Surrounding an American Foreign Policy Fiasco

Do you like a good mystery? If so, perhaps you might care to conjecture why President Obama and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently demanded that Qatar and Turkey, instead of Egypt,  mediate Israel’s war with Hamas, against Israel’s best interests.
Turkey? Everyone knows where Turkey, straddling Europe and Asia, is located. There’s a good chance that you’ve visited Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar or at least watched James Bond ride a motorcycle over its rooftops in “Skyfall.” Then, too, you’ve probably read several of its prime minister’s bizarre anti-Semitic pronouncements.
But I’m not here to talk Turkey. Rather, let’s focus our attention on Qatar. Can you correctly pronounce Qatar? Most Americans cannot manage the guttural Arabic pronunciation. More important, if I were to hand you a map of the world, could you place your pinkie on this country, which has a population of 2 million and is the size of Connecticut? Chances are you couldn’t.
Of course, you’ve probably read that Qatar will be hosting the 2022 World Cup. You might also know that Qatar, which has the world's third largest natural gas reserves, is the world's richest country per capita.
Additionally of interest, on July 14 Qatar inked an agreement to purchase $11 billion of arms from the United States, including 10 Patriot anti-missile batteries, 24 Apache attack helicopters and several hundred Javelin anti-tank missiles. Why is this Lilliputian-sized country so hungry for armaments? More to the point, why did Obama agree to this sale of advanced weaponry to a country believed to be the primary benefactor of Hamas, designated a terrorist organization by the United States? Worse still, Qataris have been accused of financing the radical al-Nusra rebel faction in Syria as well as the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, which is busy burying Yazidi women and children alive. None other than Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shimon Peres has labelled Qatar “the world’s largest funder of terror.”
Moreover, why was Obama so adamant about making Qatar and Turkey the mediators, and not allowing Egypt, which had initiated the mediation process, to continue its work? In order to reach any semblance of a conclusion as to why Obama insisted upon Qatar and Turkey, it is necessary to wind the clock back a few years.
Foreign policy in the Arab world cannot be conducted without going through Egypt with its population of 82 million. Obama certainly knew this in the past, and in his highly heralded June 4, 2009 speech in Cairo, less than six months into his first term as president, Obama declared:
“I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”
A new beginning? Over the course of the next five years, things did not go as planned for the Obama administration, particularly as regards Egypt. In December 2010, the Arab Spring swept the Middle East, and when the demonstrations reached Cairo, Obama effectively demanded that Egypt's long-time president, Hosni Mubarak, a friend of the West, step down. Subsequently, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was planning to attend the 67th session of the UN General Assembly in September 2012, was invited to the White House. However, the invitation was rescinded when the US embassy in Cairo came under attack by an angry mob on September 11, the same day on which the U.S. diplomatic compound and CIA annex in Benghazi were assaulted, leading to the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Obama didn’t want Morsi’s visit to imperil his reelection campaign.
America’s relations with Egypt grew steadily worse. With the Egyptian economy tanking and the Muslim Brotherhood attempting to consolidate power, Morsi was removed from office in a July 2013 coup by the Egyptian military, which controls much of Egyptian industry. Irked by this affront to what was hoped to be nascent Egyptian democracy, the Obama administration responded by freezing “large-scale military systems and cash assistance to the government pending credible progress toward an inclusive, democratically elected civilian government through free and fair elections.” As a consequence, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is now shopping for arms in Russia.
Worse still, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry poured oil on the fire by seeking to replace Egypt, which has a common border with Gaza, with Qatar and Turkey as mediators of Israel’s conflict with Hamas. The Egyptian military despises Hamas, owing to its close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, and it came as no surprise that Kerry was subjected to a demeaning metal detector test before being allowed to meet with Sisi in Cairo last month, while trying to force his way into the negotiation process.
Frustrated by his frigid reception in Cairo, Kerry hastily flew to Paris, where he convened a meeting with diplomats from France, Britain, Italy and Germany, and also the foreign ministers of Qatar and Turkey. Representatives from Egypt and the Palestinian Authority were not invited to the secretary of state’s soirée, which resulted in nothing, but added insult to America’s traditional Arab allies.
Having infuriated Egypt, Saudi Arabia (whose relations with Qatar are strained), and the Palestinian Authority in one fell swoop, and with Israeli journalists from both the right and the left lambasting the incompetence of America’s secretary of state, Kerry conveniently disappeared on a seven-day voyage to Afghanistan, Burma, Australia, the Solomon Islands and Hawaii.
Back now to the original question: Why did Barack Obama seek to impose Qatar as a mediator upon Israel? Was it really because the U.S. was seeking a country with financial leverage over Hamas? This hardly makes sense, given Egypt’s control over the flow of goods across its mutual border with Gaza, which trumps any amount of Qatari funding.
Alternatively, was this an expression of petulance on the part of Obama, given General Sisi’s arrest of Mohammed Morsi, thus putting the kibosh on Egypt’s fleeting experiment with democracy and the president’s “new beginning”?
Or was this just the effect of jetlag on John Kerry?
Whatever the reason, it has proven another painful diplomatic setback for the United States.

[According to Fatah, Qatar forced Hamas to break the most recent truce arranged by Egypt and threatened to expel Khaled Mashal, Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau, from Qatar, where he maintains his offices, if he did not reopen rocket fire on Israel (see: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/184225#.U_WXq5scTct and http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4561522,00.html). On Monday, US State Department spokesperson Marie Harf admitted: "Today, [Kerry] has spoken with the Israeli prime minister, the Israeli foreign minister, the Turkish foreign minister, and the Qatari foreign minister. We need countries that have leverage over leaders of Hamas who can help put a cease-fire in place."]

PLEASE FORWARD TO YOUR SENATOR AND REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS! THE SALE OF ARMS TO QATAR MUST BE STOPPED!

Is Mohammed Deif, Head of Hamas's Military Wing, Dead?

According to Fox News, Israeli intelligence believes that Mohammed Deif, head of Hamas's military wing, was killed in an air strike on Gaza this morning.

Why do I believe this is a reasonable assumption? The body of a man was pulled from the rubble, but his identity has not been disclosed by Hamas. On the other hand, Hamas has disclosed that Deif's wife and son were killed in the air strike.

In addition, Israel used a bunker bomb on the house. The IDF would not waste a bunker bomb unless it had a high degree of confidence that Deif was in the house.

Moreover, Hamas has responded to the attack with unaccustomed rage - a record 168 rockets fired at Israel on Wednesday - and even shot two missiles at an Israeli offshore gas installation 19 miles from Gaza.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Thomas Friedman, "Will the Ends, Will the Means": Explaining Away Obama's Failure to Act in Syria

As you might remember, President Obama sought to excuse his failure to act in Syria by telling Thomas Friedman earlier this month:

"With 'respect to Syria,' said the president, the notion that arming the rebels would have made a difference has 'always been a fantasy. This idea that we could provide some light arms or even more sophisticated arms to what was essentially an opposition made up of former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth, and that they were going to be able to battle not only a well-armed state but also a well-armed state backed by Russia, backed by Iran, a battle-hardened Hezbollah, that was never in the cards.'"

Well today, in a New York Times op-ed entitled "Will the Ends, Will the Means," Thomas Friedman parrots Obama's excuse regarding the mess in Syria:

"Even if we had armed Syrian moderates, how could they have defeated a coalition of the Syrian Alawite army and gangs, backed by Russia, backed by Iran, backed by Hezbollah — all of whom play by 'Hama Rules,' which are no rules at all — without the U.S. having to get involved?"

Note that Friedman fails to mention:

  • the use by Assad of chemical weapons against civilians in rebel held areas;
  • a death toll of more than 160,000 people resulting from the civil war;
  • some 6.5 million persons forced to flee their homes (Syria's total population is 23 million).

No, I would never advocate US boots on the ground in Syria. On the other hand, a no-fly zone intended to protect Syrian civilians could have been imposed by Obama.

It wasn't.

Ronald Lauder, "Who Will Stand Up for the Christians?": The Jews

In an important guest New York Times op-ed entitled "Who Will Stand Up for the Christians?," Ronald Lauder asks why the world isn't doing more for the Christians in the Middle East and Africa, who are being slaughtered in the most barbaric manner. Mr. Lauder writes:

"Historians may look back at this period and wonder if people had lost their bearings. Few reporters have traveled to Iraq to bear witness to the Nazi-like wave of terror that is rolling across that country. The United Nations has been mostly mum. World leaders seem to be consumed with other matters in this strange summer of 2014. There are no flotillas traveling to Syria or Iraq. And the beautiful celebrities and aging rock stars — why doesn’t the slaughter of Christians seem to activate their social antennas?"


Two answers:

1. Reporters are not traveling to Syria and Iraq because it is too dangerous there. Look what happened to James Foley. And if it's out of sight on your nightly news, it's out of mind.

2. It's so much more fun for liberal-minded folks to scold the Jews, excuse me, the Zionists, for their "disproportionate" response to the firing of more than 3,000 rockets at civilian population centers throughout Israel over the past month. Pictures of suffering Palestinians in Gaza? They are available to journalists in abundance, as long as the journalists don't break Hamas's rules and film rockets being fired at Israel from the proximity of schools, hospitals or mosques.

Mr. Lauder asks that the Jewish people become more involved in this tragedy. Believe me, Mr. Lauder, I'm trying, but no one is listening.

Maureen Dowd, "Alone Again, Naturally": Why Doesn't Obama Go to St. Louis?

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Alone Again, Naturally," Maureen Dowd, frustrated by Obama's disappearing act, asks:

"Why should the president neutralize himself? Why doesn’t he do something bold and thrilling? Get his hands dirty? Stop going to Beverly Hills to raise money and go to St. Louis to raise consciousness? Talk to someone besides Valerie Jarrett?"

Answer? Simple. See the Mayo Clinic's definition of narcissism:

"Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they're superior to others and have little regard for other people's feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism."

Ring a bell?

Exhibit genuine compassion in St. Louis or anywhere else for that matter? Get real! It's all about him.

A Must View (Pat Condell) and a Must Read (Response to Lancet Article)

I apologize for ignoring the blog in recent days. The Washington Post offered me the opportunity to submit an op-ed, and I have been busy preparing a draft, which was sent off today. Let's see what they decide to do with it.

Meanwhile, have a look at Pat Condell's video, "Hypocrisy over Gaza":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?sns=em&v=_Ugsv5u-sW0&app=desktop

Also, carefully read the response of Qanta Ahmed, Alon Y Avidan, Aaron Ciechanover, Daniel Shechtman, Daniel Zajfman, Uriel Reichman, Roger Kornberg, Avram Hershko and Peretz Lavie to a Lancet article:

http://download.thelancet.com/flatcontentassets/pdfs/S0140673614613143.pdf

There is still hope, sanity and intelligence in this world.



Saturday, August 16, 2014

Journalistic Ethics: Comparing The New York Times With The Washington Post

Is it possible to compare the level of journalistic ethics of The New York Times with that of The Washington Post? The simple answer: Yes!

Almost ten days ago, in an editorial entitled "Making the Gaza Cease-Fire Last," The New York Times informed us (my emphasis in red):

"There seems to be little room left in Israeli politics for those who would end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and create an independent Palestinian state."

I immediately sent an email to the editorial page editor of The New York Times, Andrew Rosenthal:

I would like to bring to your attention that in an editorial entitled "Making the Gaza Cease-Fire Last," it is stated:

"There seems to be little room left in Israeli politics for those who would end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and create an independent Palestinian state."

Israel unilaterally evacuated Gaza in 2005.

"Occupied" in the sense that Israel controls the borders of Gaza? This also doesn't work. Gaza shares a border with Egypt.

An answer from Rosenthal? None.

I then sent an email to the public editor of the Times, Margaret Sullivan, presenting her with my message to Andrew Rosenthal and asking why the Times refuses to correct an editorial spewing "pure nonsense."

An answer from Sullivan? None. Needless to say, there was also no correction.

Now let's have a look at The Washington Post. Yesterday, in a Post opinion piece entitled "The fantasy of Middle Eastern moderates," Fareed Zakaria wrote (my emphasis in red):

"In the Palestinian territories, Mahmoud Abbas, who heads the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, is indeed a moderate. But notice that the Israeli government and the West have happily postponed elections in the West Bank year after year — because they know full well who would win. Moderates don’t do well in an atmosphere of despair and war."

I immediately sent an email to WaPo's managing editor, Martin Baron, explaining that the Palestinian Authority had been responsible for postponing the elections. Within minutes, I had a reply from Mr. Baron, informing me that he had forwarded my email to his op-ed editor, Michael Larabee.

Michael Larabee subsequently sent me two responses. First, he told me that the matter was being checked. Later, he wrote to say that there would be a correction. Shortly thereafter, the following text appeared under the title of Zakaria's opinion piece:

An earlier version of this column erred in stating that “the Israeli government and the West have happily postponed elections in the West Bank.” The elections have been postponed by the Palestinian Authority.

A mere accident that The Washington Post corrected this error? No way! Two months ago, WaPo also corrected an opinion piece entitled "Why the Mideast peace process is in tatters" by David Ignatius, after I informed the Post that Israel had not "announced 700 new settlements in early April," as claimed by Ignatius, but rather 708 residential units in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo. Ignatius even sent an email to me, expressing his regrets (no email yet from Zakaria - nor do I expect to receive one).

So, is there a difference between the journalistic ethics of The New York Times and The Washington Post? No two ways about it!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Fareed Zakaria, "The fantasy of Middle Eastern moderates": The Washington Post Corrects Fareed's Falsification

After several emails to various editors at The Washington Post, they have corrected Fareed Zakaria's falsification in his opinion piece entitled "The fantasy of Middle Eastern moderates":


Correction: An earlier version of this column erred in stating that “the Israeli government and the West have happily postponed elections in the West Bank.” The elections have been postponed by the Palestinian Authority.

Fareed Zakaria, "The fantasy of Middle Eastern moderates": Fareed Again Fudges the Facts

In his latest Washington Post opinion piece entitled "The fantasy of Middle Eastern moderates," Fareed Zakaria takes the position that there are few "moderates" in the Muslim Middle East:

"For decades, U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East has been to support 'moderates.' The problem is that there are actually very few of them. The Arab world is going through a bitter, sectarian struggle that is 'carrying the Islamic world back to the Dark Ages,' said Turkish President Abdullah Gul. In these circumstances, moderates either become extremists or they lose out in the brutal power struggles of the day. Look at Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya and the Palestinian territories."

Zakaria makes a point of ignoring Tunisia and the semi-autonomous Kurdish enclave of Iraq.

But then Zakaria takes his argument one step further and claims that Israel has prevented Mahmoud Abbas, currently in his tenth year of a four-year term of office as president of the Palestinian Authority, from holding new elections:

"In the Palestinian territories, Mahmoud Abbas, who heads the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, is indeed a moderate. But notice that the Israeli government and the West have happily postponed elections in the West Bank year after year — because they know full well who would win. Moderates don’t do well in an atmosphere of despair and war."

Although Abbas and friends have indeed feared that new elections on the West Bank would not fare well for Fatah, where has anyone ever claimed that Israel prevented Abbas from holding these elections or has postponed these elections?

As was reported by Ynet back in 2010:

"Palestinian local elections scheduled to be held in the West Bank on July 17 have been postponed indefinitely, officials said on Thursday. Hamas Islamists, who seized control of the Gaza Strip from Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007, had already said they would boycott the vote.

The Palestinian Authority said the vote was delayed so as not to compromise efforts to reconcile with Hamas, but, as Ynet reported earlier in the week, the delay is due to internal disagreement and division within Abbas' Fatah faction.

Fatah hasn’t been able to reach an agreement over the candidates for many of the municipalities and councils.

The Palestinian Central Committee failed in its efforts to reconcile the camps, and some fear Fatah's image might significantly be jeopardized over the internal rift.

Fatah also feared that Hamas supporters would back Fatah opponents. 'We are concerned that in many places, especially where Fatah is weak and divided, the Hamas will tell its supporters to vote for our opponents, which will ensure Fatah's defeat in the elections,' a PA official told Ynet a few days ago."

Or stated otherwise, Israel had no involvement in the postponement.

Once again (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/04/the-ongoing-zakariahiattwashington-post.html and http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/04/fred-hiatt-editorial-page-editor-of.html), it is time to seek clarifications from the management of The Washington Post.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Paul Krugman, "The Forever Slump": Comparing the US With Europe

"We have 50 million Muslims in Europe. There are signs that Allah will grant Islam victory in Europe—without swords, without guns, without conquest—will turn it into a Muslim continent within a few decades."

- Muammar Gaddafi


Economics is an inexact science, but it becomes even less exact if you refuse to consider all of the variables.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Forever Slump," Paul Krugman again warns against an increase in US interest rates by the Federal Reserve. Explaining that Europe raised interest rates in 2011, but reversed course when it slid back into recession, Krugman cautions against the US making the same mistake:

"The good news is that Janet Yellen, the Fed chairwoman, understands the danger; she has made it clear that she would rather take the chance of a temporary rise in the inflation rate than risk hitting the brakes too soon, the way the E.C.B. did in 2011. The bad news is that she and her colleagues are under a lot of pressure to do the wrong thing from the too-muchers, who seem to have learned nothing from being wrong year after year, and are still agitating for higher rates."

I agree with Krugman that the US economic recovery is still fragile. Moreover, I don't see excessive demand, which could spur inflation, anywhere on the horizon. American unemployment is its lowest level since September 2008, but the decline also owes to the fact that the number of people seeking work has fallen dramatically. As observed in a January Washington Post article entitled "The biggest question facing the U.S. economy: Why are people dropping out of the workforce?" by Brad Plumer:

"The U.S. labor force is still shrinking rapidly. Back in 2007, 66 percent of Americans had a job or were actively seeking work. Today, that number is at 62.8 percent — the lowest level since 1977."

Also consider unemployment among youths, which, although down from a year ago, is still at a troublesome 14.3 percent.

The US economy is anything but robust, and I don't see any reason to raise interest rates.

But compare the US with Europe? It's time to be politically incorrect. As noted in a 2009 Forbes article entitled "The Integration Of Muslims In Europe":

"As Muslims are the fastest-growing group in Europe (by 2025, Muslims will make up 10% of Europe’s population, from 4% today), it is important that they are socially, politically and economically integrated. If not, the result will be the human and economic waste of unemployment, bitterness and possibly further radicalization and violence.

. . . .

In both France and the United Kingdom, Muslims’ economic integration has been poor. In both, unemployment is high (above 20% and sometimes approaching 40%) among Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and North Africans."

In fact, Muslims already account for some 10 percent of France's population and more than 70 percent of French prison inmates.

Was Gaddafi correct? Will Europe become a Muslim continent within a few decades? And if so, what will be the effect on productivity and employment? Time will truly tell.

Compare America's economy with that of Europe? I don't believe in comparing apples with oranges, i.e. America's unsustainable debt (nearing $17.7 trillion) with Europe's emerging demographic timebomb. Although both problems are grim, they are very different.

Obama Withholds Arms From Israel

Wow, what a day!

First, The Washington Post, in its lead online article entitled "Obama administration shows little urgency for stemming Islamic State violence" by Greg Jaffe and Greg Miller, is telling us that "the Obama administration’s response to the [Islamic State]’s blitzkrieg through northern Iraq has been defined primarily by the limits it has placed on the U.S. military’s intervention." Or stated otherwise, the US air force attack on ISIL militants besieging tens of thousands of Yazidis seeking refuge on Sinjar Mountain, amounted to pure cosmetics, intended to deflect criticism from a neo-isolationist Barack Obama, vacationing in Martha's Vineyard.

And now, we are being told by The Wall Street Journal in an article entitled "Israel Outflanks White House in Pressing Gaza Strategy" by Adam Entous that the Obama administration is withholding arms shipments to Israel:

"The Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency, or DSCA, was about to release an initial batch of the Hellfires, according to Israeli and congressional officials. It was immediately put on hold by the Pentagon, and top officials at the White House instructed the DSCA, the U.S. military's European Command and other agencies to consult with policy makers at the White House and the State Department before approving any additional requests."

Yes, America's president is seeking revenge after Netanyahu refused to agree to Obama's demand that Israel allow Qatar and Turkey, the world's leading backers of Hamas, to mediate the Gaza conflict.

It doesn't matter that the US has just signed a deal to supply Qatar with $11 billion of arms. After all, Obama needs to show Israel who is the boss during this time of crisis.

We are also hearing that the US plans to provide the Lebanese army with weapons.

I suppose it was only a matter of time. With less than two and a half years until he departs the Oval Office, Obama, a petulant leftist in moderate's clothing, has decided that he can play golf to his heart's content while ISIL threatens America's Kurdish allies in Iraq, and that he can withhold arms from Israel while it is at war with Hamas.

Can it get any worse? Absolutely.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Maureen Dowd, "It’s the Loyalty, Stupid": Could Hillary Be a Good President?

Could Hillary be a good president?

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "It’s the Loyalty, Stupid," Maureen Dowd segues from a 1993 interview of Robin Williams, who tragically committed suicide on Monday, to Hillary's 2002 Senate vote to authorize the Second Gulf War, or what Dowd labels "that baloney war." Dowd writes of Hillary's vote at the time:

"For me to believe that Hillary would be a good president, I would need to feel that she had learned something from that deadly, globe-shattering vote — a calculated attempt to be tough and show that, as a Democratic woman, she was not afraid to use power.

Yet, she’s still at it."

Ouch.

Indeed, it was a "baloney war," which undermined the delicate balance of power in the Middle East between Sunnis and Shiites, and positioned a militant Iran to pursue regional hegemony. But is Hillary "still at it"?

In her now famous, or infamous, interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, published by The Atlantic over the weekend, Hillary took the opportunity to deride Obama's inaction involving the revolt against Bashar al-Assad in Syria:

"The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad—there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle—the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled."

Well, in this instance, Hillary is probably right: Obama's decision not to influence events in Syria allowed events to take their own tragic course, including more than 170,000 people dead, 9 million persons who have fled their homes, and the rise of ISIS.

But if Obama's policy in Syria was so disastrous, how is it possible that Hillary declared in 2011:

"Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer."

Assad a "reformer"? Yeah, right.

Dowd's conclusion:

"After buoying Hillary, Obama is learning the truth of another unofficial slogan in politics: 'The Clintons will be there when they need you.'"

Although I have no plans to cut my life short, as did Robin Williams, we truly live in depressing times, when a spineless president stands to be replaced by a self-serving snake.

Monday, August 11, 2014

David Brooks, "Clinton, Obama and Iraq": Different Flavors of Democrats

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

- Franklin D. Roosevelt


"My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

- John F. Kennedy


"Don’t do stupid shit"

- Barack Obama


Obama left on Saturday for a two-week golfing vacation. He wasn't willing to allow a few beheadings and crucifixions by ISIL, ten thousand Yazidis dying of thirst on a mountain, or continued tension involving the Ukraine, to stand in the way of his vacation. But let's not be too harsh on the president. Before boarding the plane for Martha's Vineyard, the president did provide the captain of his New York Times cheerleader squad, Thomas Friedman, with his attempt at explaining away the current global wildfire (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2014/08/thomas-friedman-obama-on-world-making.html), while at the same time effectively warning America's friends in Iraqi Kurdistan: You may be under attack by maniacal Islamists, but it's your problem, not ours, and don't be expecting much help from us.

Whether or not by accident, this past weekend, The Atlantic published Jeffrey Goldberg's interview of Hillary Clinton (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2014/08/jeffrey-goldberg-hillary-clinton.html), in which she attempted to distance herself from Obama's policies. Hillary declared: "Great nations need organizing principles, and 'Don’t do stupid shit' is not an organizing principle." Ouch.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Clinton, Obama and Iraq" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/12/opinion/david-brooks-clinton-obama-and-iraq.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=c-column-top-span-region&region=c-column-top-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-top-span-region), David Brooks acknowledges that there are "different flavors" of Democratic thinking. He goes on to side with Hillary with regard to her sudden assault upon Obama's neo-isolationist policies:

"In practice, the Clinton approach strikes me as more sound, for the same reason that early intervention against cancer is safer than late-term surgery. In the Middle East, malevolent groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria grow unless checked. Even in situations where our 'friends' are dysfunctional, the world has to somehow check them, using a multitude of levers. Having done so little in Syria and Iraq for the past year, we can end the caliphate or we can stay out of Iraq, but we can’t do both."

The "Clinton approach"? Excuse me, but Hillary spent four years as Obama's secretary of state, circumnavigating the globe and accomplishing . . . nothing. And although, as observed by Brooks, Clinton now "argues that Obama might have done more to help the moderate opposition in Syria fight the regime of President Bashar al-Assad," consider what Hillary said in 2011:

"Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer."

Assad a "reformer"? Yeah, right.

In fact, far more can be understood about the "Clinton approach" from the Blue dress episode. Hillary stood by her philandering husband, confident that she would ultimately reap her just, or unjust, reward, i.e. her turn as president. On the other hand, Obama has now learned not to expect loyalty from his former secretary of state, when his "inept" (I am being kind) foreign policy stands in the way of her lifelong ambition.

"Don't do stupid shit"? Thanks to his former secretary of state, Obama finally has his legacy for which he will long be remembered in the history books.

[See also: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2014/08/frank-bruni-hillary-clinton-barbed-and.html]

Frank Bruni, "Hillary Clinton, Barbed and Bellicose": VOTE FOR GRANNY!

Okay, Obama went golfing in Martha's Vineyard as the world burned, but not before providing the captain of his New York Times cheerleader squad, Thomas Friedman, with his attempt at explaining away the current global wildfire (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2014/08/thomas-friedman-obama-on-world-making.html).

Was it pure accident that over the same weekend, The Atlantic published Jeffrey Goldberg's interview of Hillary Clinton (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2014/08/jeffrey-goldberg-hillary-clinton.html), in which she all but branded the president a nincompoop? We are left to wonder whether Hillary's declaration that "Great nations need organizing principles, and 'Don’t do stupid shit' is not an organizing principle" interfered in any way with Obama's putting. Probably not. After all, Obama wasn't willing to allow a few beheadings and crucifixions by ISIL, or ten thousand Yazidis dying of thirst on a mountain, to stand in the way of his vacation.

Today, in a New York Times op-ed entitled "Hillary Clinton, Barbed and Bellicose" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/12/opinion/hillary-clinton-barbed-and-bellicose.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=c-column-top-span-region&region=c-column-top-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-top-span-region&_r=0), Frank Bruni begins by acknowledging that Hillary is running for president, but this has never been the question. Rather, the real issue is whether we can believe anything that she says.

Well on his way to writing himself into the history books as one of America's worst presidents, Obama appears, from his beloved links, to be indifferent to his fate. Hillary, on the other hand, must decide when and to what extent to distance herself from the disaster being wrecked upon the United States by the first invertebrate ever to occupy the Oval Office. As Bruni cleverly portrays Hillary's dilemma:

"The question is whether she can belittle Barack Obama as much as she must in order to win, but not so much that it plays as an act of sheer betrayal."

What's the poor woman to do? Her paid political advisers obviously made up their minds long ago. But how will voters ultimately respond to this carefully calculated ambush of her former boss? Again, as stated by Bruni:

"If decisions made while she was still the secretary of state were flawed, is she blameless? Sure, her job, like any appointee’s, was to implement the chief executive’s vision, to follow his lead. But it was also to lobby and leave an imprint. Is she conceding that she didn’t do that effectively enough?"

Indeed, Hillary spent four years accumulating frequent flyer miles and accomplished . . . nothing. My guess is that she miscalculated. Disloyalty will not win her approval.

And in a world that is more concerned with appearance than substance,  how might Hillary fare against a youthful Marco Rubio in another two years? Of course, she could consider the dermal fillers and Botox route blazed by John Kerry (now making himself scarce on a seven-day trip to Afghanistan, Burma, Australia, the Solomon Islands and Hawaii, after a disastrous attempt to mediate Israel's conflict with Hamas), or she might attempt to exercise down the size of her pant suits, but the years are inevitably cruel to all of us.

Bottom line: "Vote for Granny!" just isn't going to cut it.

[See also: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2014/08/david-brooks-clinton-obama-and-iraq.html]

Ronen Bergman, "How Hamas Beat Israel in Gaza": Yeah, Right

Yes, The New York Times remains intent upon disparaging Israel, also as regards its current conflict with Hamas.

Last month, The New York Times published a guest op-ed by a young man named Nathan Thrall (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2014/07/nathan-thrall-how-west-chose-war-in.html), who would have us believe that Israel, with the help of Egypt and the West, brought the current war with Hamas upon itself. However, Thrall's risible essay failed to mention:

  • The Hamas charter, which calls for the murder of all Jews, not just Israelis.

  • Past suicide bombings in Israel perpetrated by Hamas operatives (425 terrorist attacks between September 2000 and March 2004, which killed 377 and wounded 2,076).

  • The thousands of rockets fired into Israeli population centers from Gaza by Hamas and Islamic Jihad over the course of more than a decade.

Thrall did, of course, repeat Obama's declaration that the situation in Gaza is "unsustainable."

Today, in furtherance of its agenda, The New York Times has published a guest op-ed entitled "How Hamas Beat Israel in Gaza" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/11/opinion/how-hamas-beat-israel-in-gaza.html) by 42-year-old Ronen Bergman, who would have us believe:

  • "Hamas was dictating the duration of the conflict by repeatedly refusing cease-fires. Furthermore, it preserved its capability of firing rockets and missiles at most of Israel’s territory, despite the immense effort the Israeli Air Force invested in knocking out launch sites."

  • "Hamas also waged an urban campaign against Israeli ground forces, inflicting at least five times as many casualties as in the last conflict and successfully used tunnels to penetrate Israeli territory and sow fear and demoralization. It made Israel pay a heavy price and the I.D.F. eventually withdrew its ground troops from Gaza without a cease-fire."

  • "Israeli leaders have now set the demilitarization of Gaza as one of their goals. But it’s difficult to picture how this could be achieved."

Hamas has dictated the duration of the conflict and has preserved its capability of firing rockets and missiles? Rubbish. In recent days, the number of rockets fired against Israel has declined, and we are no longer seeing intense rocket barrages aimed at the Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Beersheva.

Moreover, Hamas has now agreed to a 72-hour-ceasefire. Hamas had previously insisted that it would agree to such a truce only if Israel first agreed to "end its eight-year siege on the Gaza Strip, release dozens of prisoners whom Israel has re-arrested that were released in 2011 as part of the Shalit exchange, [and agree to] the re-opening of a seaport and airport in Gaza, and the creation of a safe passage between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip" (http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=718980). What happened to Hamas's demands?

Israel is demoralized? Spare me. Israel was demoralized during and after the War of Atonement (Bergman was a one-year-old toddler at the time), and Israel was demoralized after the Sabra and Shatila massacre (Bergman was 10 at the time). However, as recently acknowledged by none other than Barack Obama, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s “poll numbers are a lot higher than mine” and “were greatly boosted by the war in Gaza”  (see: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/09/opinion/president-obama-thomas-l-friedman-iraq-and-world-affairs.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=c-column-top-span-region&region=c-column-top-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-top-span-region&_r=0).

It's difficult to picture how demilitarization of Gaza can be achieved? Well, Bergman might first wish to acknowledge the Gaza has suffered some $6 billion in damages owing to the current round of fighting, and there is no way that Gaza will ever recover unless European donor countries urgently send funds. Will Europe again send funds to rebuild Gaza without asking that Hamas stop using the money for missiles and tunnels? Stay tuned.

Certainly, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are not willing to transfer money to Hamas's account, and Hamas's rift with Iran has not been healed.

And notwithstanding Hamas's efforts to make the world believe that all the dead in Gaza consisted of civilians, we are beginning to learn that close to 1,000 of the dead were militants and Hamas officials. Needless to say, this number does not include the 160 children who died building the tunnels, or those who were executed by Hamas to prevent them from divulging their locations (see: http://www.timesofisrael.com/hamas-said-to-have-executed-dozens-of-tunnel-diggers/).

Mind you, I am not saying that there will be no Israeli commissions of inquiry following the conflict. Israel was not prepared for the tunnels, the IDF made the mistake of using antiquated personnel carriers, and mortar fire from Gaza exacted too many IDF casualties. But to claim that "Hamas beat Israel"? Yeah, right.