Today is the last day of Ramadan 2016.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad according to Islamic belief. This annual observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The month lasts 29–30 days based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon.
While fasting from dawn until sunset, Muslims refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids, smoking, and engaging in sexual relations. Muslims are also instructed to refrain from sinful behavior that may negate the reward of fasting, such as false speech (insulting, backbiting, cursing, lying, etc.) and fighting.
The excellent website ironically named The Religion of Peace keeps a daily record of Islamic terrorist attacks. Their toll of lethal attacks world-wide since 9/11 is reflected in our margin.
Here’s its count of terrorist attacks and murders carried out during this year’s month of Ramadan:
In the last few days, Muslim terrorists have been busier than ever, as if to crowd as much terror and atrocity into the month as they could before it ended.
The following list shows that the victims of the attackers were mostly Muslims, although the Koran and the Hadith, while commanding the killing of non-Muslims,* forbid the killing of fellow Muslims: “But whoever kills a believer intentionally – his recompense is Hell, wherein he will abide eternally, and Allah has become angry with him and has cursed him and has prepared for him a great punishment.” – Koran 4:93.
From a CNN report:
Multiple major terror strikes have occurred in recent days as the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan approaches. Ramadan ends Tuesday evening.
ISIS either claimed responsibility or is suspected in each of them.
At least six members of Jordan’s security forces were killed June 21 in a suicide car bombing launched from the Syrian side of the border. …
ISIS claimed responsibility through Amaq, its de facto media agency, saying the act was carried out by an ISIS fighter.
Six people died and 19 others were wounded following a series of suicide attacks in a mainly Christian area of northern Lebanon, close to the border with Syria.
According to Lebanon’s National News Agency the first incident happened at around 4.20 a.m. last Monday when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a house in the village of Qaa, in the country’s Bekaa Valley.
Three other attackers — with at least one wearing an explosive vest — then detonated themselves as rescue teams and locals gathered at the scene. …
Security analysts think ISIS could be responsible.
On Thursday, the army said it foiled “two major terrorist operation” planned by ISIS – one targeting a “large tourist facility” and the other targeting a densely populated area.
Five people have been arrested, including the mastermind of the operation, the statement said.
At least 42 people, mostly soldiers and one child, were killed when attackers launched four suicide car bombings at security targets in a major Yemeni city …
The attacks occurred last Monday in Mukalla, a southeastern port city in Hadramaut province.
At least 30 people were injured — all security officers except for five civilians …
One of the attacks targeted a military compound near a government intelligence building. The others targeted military checkpoints. A child walking near one of the checkpoints was killed.
The attackers were from ISIS, [the] group’s media voice said.
Terrorists stormed Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport last Tuesday, killing 44 people and injuring hundreds.
There has been no claim of responsibility, but hallmarks of the strike points to ISIS and the attack resembled the suicide bombings in March at the main airport in Brussels.
Reports have emerged about the identities of the suicide bombers as well as the organizer, … a top soldier in the ISIS war ministry.
Two of the three assailants in the terror attack at Ataturk Airport were identified as Rakim Bulgarov and Vadim Osmanov, according to Turkey’s state news agency Anadolu, citing an anonymous prosecution source.
That report did not identify the third attacker and did not reveal their nationalities. But officials have said they believe the three attackers are from Russia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, and entered Turkey a month ago from Syria’s ISIS stronghold of Raqqa.
Gunmen in Bangladesh killed 20 hostages and two police officers late Friday and early Saturday before authorities raided the restaurant and ended the standoff.
The massacre occurred at the end of the day when Muslims would have been breaking their daily fast for Ramadan.
Authorities released the nationalities of the 20 hostages found dead … after Bangladeshi troops stormed the cafe early Saturday morning, ending a nearly 11-hour siege. …
The attack took place in the city’s diplomatic enclave, and those killed were from around the globe: Italians, Japanese, Indian, Bangladeshi and an American …
ISIS claimed responsibility, but … all the attackers in the deadly assault on a cafe in Dhaka were Bangladeshi citizens.
In that bloodbath, the terrorists spared hostages who could recite the Koran.
A suicide truck bomb ripped through a busy shopping district in Baghdad Saturday night, killing more than 200 people.
The strike in the Karrada neighborhood also left at least 175 people wounded.
Families had been gathering hours after they broke the fast for Ramadan and prepared for Eid al-Fitr – the day that marks the end of the holiday this week.
As people congregated, shopped and watched soccer matches, the bomb-laden truck plowed into a building housing a coffee shop, stores and a gym. Firefighters rescued wounded and trapped people in adjacent buildings.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the action …
For a video and many pictures of this atrocity see the Daily Mail here.
Kuwait security agencies foiled a number of ISIS plots in three preemptive operations on Sunday, according to Kuwait news agency Kuna.
Kuna reports the arrested ISIS members were planning to strike a Jaafari mosque in Hawali and a Ministry of Interior facility during the first days of Eid Al-Fitr, at the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
Saudi Arabia endured a wave of suicide bombings over a 24-hour period ending Monday, a coordinated string of attacks analysts are linking to ISIS.
The strikes occurred near the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah, and a Shiite mosque in Qatif. The holy city of Medina was also a target. The strikes failed in Jeddah and Qatif. Four people were killed in Medina.
There has been no claim of responsibility. But Peter Bergen, CNN national security analyst, said ISIS called for attacks during Ramadan and “now we have them”.
*eg. “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves.” – Koran 48:29. “Fight everyone in the way of Allah and kill those who disbelieve in Allah” – Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 992.
We are not alone in blaming Bill Clinton for letting the North Koreans become a nuclear-armed power. (See our post immediately below.)
Presidential candidate Ted Cruz says the same. And he too draws the analogy between Clinton’s deal with North Korea and Obama’s with Iran.
This is from the Washington Post:
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) reacted to news of the alleged hydrogen bomb test by North Korea with an indictment of two decades of Democratic foreign policy, warning that any president who didn’t “tear up” the nuclear agreement with Iran would risk attacks on American and Israeli cities.
“This underscores the gravity of the threats we are facing right now, and also the sheer folly of the Obama-Clinton foreign policy,” Cruz told reporters … “When we look at North Korea, it’s like looking at a crystal ball. This is where Iran ends up, if we continue on this same misguided path. It’s worth remembering, we’re here because of the Clinton administration. The Clinton administration led the world in relaxing sanctions against North Korea. They used the billions of dollars that flowed into North Korea to develop nuclear weapons. Now we’re facing a megalomaniacal manic who may potentially have a hydrogen bomb.”
Cruz also derided the Obama administration for giving a job in the State Department and a role in the Iran negotiations to North Korea negotiations veteran Wendy Sherman– “the one person on Earth who has already messed this up. And sadly, they negotiated essentially the same deal.”
Asked how a Cruz presidency would respond to North Korea, the candidate said he would pressure China to “cut off their client state”, and “to continue to isolate North Korea, to continue to cut off North Korea, to raise the costs of their belligerence.” But he warned that “every bad actor would get worse” until Obama was replaced.
“For the remainder of President Obama’s term, we’re essentially in a Hobbesian state of nature, like ‘Lord of the Flies’,” he said. … “We saw last night the consequences of this deal if it is allowed to go forward. Iran’s nuclear test may not be underground, measured by an earthquake. It may be above the skies of Tel Aviv, or New York, or Los Angeles.”
Wendy Sherman is a trained social worker. Busied herself with child welfare. So President Clinton thought her admirably qualified to negotiate with North Korea, to keep that vicious Communist dictatorship from getting nukes. And after that triumph, President Obama judged her to be the ideal person to negotiate with Iran to the same end …
Oh no, wait! Obama saw her usefulness in failing to stop an enemy of the US acquiring nukes …
North Korea claims to have successfully tested a hydrogen bomb – a nuclear fusion bomb many times more destructive than a nuclear fission bomb. What’s more, the North Koreans claim to have miniaturized the weapon so it can be dispatched as the warhead of a missile.
President Clinton did a deal with North Korea in 1994 which, like the deal Obama believes he has done with Iran, was purported to save the world from the threat of a dangerous nuclear-armed enemy.
Here is a video of Bill Clinton speaking on 21 October, 1994, on the “good deal” he has made with North Korea. Listen to him saying that the deal will make it “much harder for them to produce nuclear weapons”.
Why do any Americans who are not totally insane, or longing for the destruction of their country and Western civilization, ever put responsibility for their survival in the hands of Democrats?
This video is titled “Migrant Crisis: The Footage the Media Refuse to Broadcast”. (Some of the scenes have in fact been shown on American news channels, but it is all too likely that they are not shown in Europe or by the BBC.)
The indignation of the woman whose charity is rejected – her donation of food that was “good for three years” thrown away contemptuously – is wonderful to see and hear.
For decades the Left has worked to destroy the “evil” First World in support of the great cause of the “wretched of the earth”, the inhabitants of the Third World “victimized” by Western “imperialism” and “colonialism”. Now that the hellish Third World is pouring into Europe, at least some on the Left are beginning to change their minds, faced with a horror that they themselves have called up, never thinking that such a thing could actually happen to them.
We savor the irony of their discovering their error so late, even as we deplore the event that is bringing them to their senses.
The indispensable site self-named with deliberate irony The Religion of Peace, publishes daily a list of the latest lethal terrorist attacks by Muslims, keeping tally of the number committed since the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon.
(The enormous numbers killed in the Syrian civil war, and all the slaughters by horrific means – burning alive, burying alive, crucifying, decapitating, stoning, hurling from tall buildings – carried out continually by the army of ISIS, are nor included in the count.)
There has not been a single day in which nobody has been murdered by Islamic terrorists. Today the total number of attacks topped 26,000.
We continuously reflect the daily count in our margin.
From time to time, usually when the number reaches or passes another thousand, we reproduce the day’s list of recent Islamic terrorist activity.
Here is today’s list:
Islam’s Latest Contributions to Peace
“Mohammed is God’s apostle. Those who follow him are harsh
to the unbelievers but merciful to one another” Quran 48:29
2015.05.31 (Kamoke, Pakistan) – A man and his son are among three election workers machine-gunned by the Tehreek-e-Taliban. 2015.05.31 (Misrata, Libya) – An Islamic State suicide car bomber takes the lives of five bystanders at a city entrance. 2015.05.31 (Baghdad, Iraq) – Video is released of a man being burned alive by the Shia militia group, Imam Ali. 2015.05.31 (Logar, Afghanistan) – A teacher and two students are killed when Muslim extremists fire a rocket into a government school. 2015.05.30 (Maiduguri, Nigeria) – Over two dozen worshippers at a mosque are disassembled by a Fedayeen suicide bomber. 2015.05.29 (Benghazi, Libya) – Eight people lose their lives to an Islamist rocket attack on their neighborhood.
Is Obama’s realignment of US foreign policy so astonishing that it leaves Congress too stunned to act?
Has there ever before been such a clear case of high crimes and misdemeanors as now with the action of this president – selling out the country’s interests to its worst enemy?
Why have impeachment proceedings not begun?
Shawn Mitchell writes today, March 30, 2015, at Townhall:
Ponder the dire significance of the extraordinary story from MSNBC(!) last Friday, reporting on US “incoherence” in the Middle East, the exploding chaos there, and the shocking news Arab states like Egypt, the Saudis, and UAE are withholding intelligence and launching attacks without consulting the US. Why? Because they don’t trust Obama not to leak information to Iran. In seeking closer ties with Iran, Obama is threatening every other strategic US relationship in the region and candidly committing alliance-cide against America’s closest ally there, Israel.
The president, as chief executive and commander in chief may be the captain of foreign policy, but the Senate, representing the American public, has a Constitutional role, which Obama is deliberately evading.
What is happening is historically unprecedented. … Obama is pursuing a one-man foreign policy of realigning the US in the Middle East, ending our friendship with Israel, forging ties with Iran, and facilitating, or at least benignly accepting, the expansion of Iran’s interests, influence, and agents throughout the region.
Facilitating. Not “benignly accepting”.
This profound agenda is not one he ran on. It is not disclosed to, or understood by, the American people. It is not vetted or discussed in high circles of military and security leadership. It is contrary to long and widely held understandings of US security interests. It is a covert one man revolution.
In playing his chess pieces, Obama unsuccessfully pressed Egypt to submit to the Muslim Brotherhood; stiff-armed President al-Sisi who wants to move Egypt closer to America, keep peace with Israel, and move Islam closer to modernity; launched unprovoked missiles against Libya’s Qaddafi, lighting that nation on fire, delivering it to chaos and Iran-backed rebels; played patsy with Iran’s client Assad while Assad scorned Obama’s red lines and gassed civilians; and manufactured an escalating series of confrontations and crises with Israel, most recently exposing top secret details of its previously unacknowledged nuclear program. After Yemen fell to Iran backed rebels, the White House continues to insist its approach there is a “model of effective counterterrorism”.
… It’s becoming apparent the trade of five Taliban field leaders for one US deserter was not a “bad deal” but a head fake. Bergdahl was just cover for Obama to hand back five Jihadi leaders and move closer to his goal of closing Gitmo.
Did he swap the Taliban leaders for Bergdahl because he wants to close Gitmo, or is his spoken intention to close Gitmo an excuse for silently strengthening the Taliban? That one can even ask the question, that the suggestion is not implausible, shows how extraordinary are the circumstances in which it arises.
Recent reports of the surreal “negotiations” with Iran would make for farce if they weren’t terrifyingly real. Alone among the P5 + 1 world powers, the US is desperate to sweeten the pot to offer Iran whatever it takes. Obama originally set a redline of 500 high-speed centrifuges; we now shrug at 6,000. We’re good with Iran continuing operations at its reinforced, underground lab. It doesn’t have to reveal its ongoing research with military dimensions until after the world lifts sanctions … wink. Surprise inspections will be rare to never. Last week, the Associated Press astonishingly reported a final agreement may not even be in writing. Spokesman Josh Earnest failed to deny that unfathomable idea after three direct queries.
We recently witnessed the spectacle of France trying to put the brakes on this runaway concession train, complaining it’s a weak, bad, unenforceable deal and the US is still conceding. That’s something … the French accusing Americans of being burger eating surrender monkeys.
The president’s defenders might call his upheaval a matter of high stakes, high risk strategy to improve US standing in the Middle East by aligning it with the region’s strongest power. Other commentators might call it wrongheaded, reckless, and dangerous. And others, seeing what’s right in front of their face, might call it hostile to America’s interests and security, treacherous to America’s allies, and of great aid and comfort to America’s enemies.
Under a different Iranian regime, maybe a secular one, or a reformist product of the Green Revolution that Obama strangely spurned, it might make sense to support Iran as a stabilizing force. It’s the Mullacracy with its radical, bloody vision that makes Obama’s policy deranged. His defenders and critics alike speculate Obama is betting the regime can be enticed to make nice and join the community of nations during the limited lifespan of the agreement. But that surmise is incoherent. If Obama wanted a reformed Iran, he would have spoken up for millions of brave protesters who confronted the Mullahs and pled for his support. He stood mute as they were brutally crushed.
It’s an unresolved question if, or where, there is a redline that a president’s policies abroad become Constitutionally actionable. He leads in foreign policy. But, he also took an oath to protect American peace and security. If, for an extreme hypothetical, videotape emerged showing a president handing over US nuclear codes to Vladimir Putin, presumably, he would be dealt with as a treasonous traitor, his foreign policy authority notwithstanding.
Obama’s actions in the Middle East raise troubling questions about how fundamentally a president can contradict deeply rooted US understandings, policies, and alliances before he enters a danger zone. Cutting off the Senate’s voice adds to the gravity. To conclude any position a president holds, no matter how radical, must be the position of the US, is akin to embracing Louis XIV’s declaration: “”L’État, c’est moi” or Richard Nixon’s more recent formulation: “When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.”
Twenty months remain in this presidency. About a day is left till Obama’s contrived deadline to reach a deal with Iran. It may be one of the only lines he means to respect. Few imagined after the 2012 election how fast events would unfold in the Middle East and how fast Obama’s hand would emerge into view. It is going to be a dangerous and scary ride.
Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s unofficial co-president, was born in Iran. Does she have a sentimental attachment to it? With this administration that could be enough “reason” – silly as it is – for Obama to put its interests and ambitions above the interests of the United States.
Can anyone think of any other possible reason?
Ah, yes. If Iran is allowed to become nuclear armed, there is a high likelihood that it will destroy Israel. That’s a consummation the Muslim world devoutly wishes. And where the Muslim world leads, can Obama be far behind?
The very young and utterly unwilling bride shrieks that she doesn’t want to marry the man, begs to be taken home. She is carried, weeping and protesting, into the man’s house.
These are most probably Sunni Muslims. That is the majority religion in Kazakhstan. Also, forced marriages are common in Islam.
Today is the centennial anniversary of the start of the First World War. On 28 July, 1914, the Austro-Hungarian army fired the first shots, to crush rebellious Serbia. What happened then, and why, is traced in this video.
Blame is laid on the growth of nationalism, and even more on imperialism – the acquisition of colonies by the powers of Europe on other continents, in fierce competition with each other, Britain being far and away the winner. The fact that at least some empires, chiefly the British, brought incalculable benefits to the lands they conquered, colonized and ruled, is touched on briefly; in our view, too briefly.
We think it is an overview worth watching, though there are points where we would place a different emphasis.
We agree with the presenters that the day World War One broke out was the day Europe began its terminal decline.
Whether the earth is getting a wee bit warmer, or a wee bit cooler, or staying much the same in this wee bit of time in which the present generations live, is of no importance. None. What is important is that a few thousand people are trying to undo our civilization, return the human race to the life of savages (“solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”, as Thomas Hobbes described it), or even wipe it off the face of the earth*. And all to preserve the planet, they say. For whom? For what? They are obsessed madmen, religious fanatics. (Yes, environmentalism is a religion.) And they are winning. They have the ear of Western governments. They command government agencies. Some of them – such as the despots of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – have immense power. Their word is law.
Of the tactics they use, the one that is working best for them and worst for their victims, is stopping Western technology spreading to the Third World, thus keeping poor countries poor, and allowing disease to kill millions upon millions, year after year.
Big Green activists say anything other than solar panels and bird-butchering wind turbines would not be “sustainable”. Like climate change, “sustainability” is infinitely elastic and malleable, making it a perfect weapon for anti-development activists. Whatever they support is sustainable. Whatever they oppose is unsustainable. To them, apparently, the diseases and death tolls are sustainable, just, ethical and moral. Whatever they advocate also complies with the “precautionary principle”. Whatever they disdain violates it. Worse, their perverse guideline always focuses on the risks of using technologies – but never on the risks of not using them. It spotlights risks that a technology – coal-fired power plants, biotech foods or DDT, for example – might cause, but ignores risks the technology would reduce or prevent.
We quote an article by Paul Driessen at Canada Free Press:
Fossil fuel and insurance company executives “could face personal liability for funding climate denialism and opposing policies to fight climate change”, Greenpeace recently warned several corporations. In a letter co-signed by WWF International and the Center for International Environmental Law, the Rainbow Warriors ($155 million in 2013 global income) suggested that legal action might be possible.
Meanwhile, the WWF ($927 million in 2013 global income) filed a formal complaint against Peabody Energy for “misleading readers” in advertisements that say coal-based electricity can improve lives in developing countries. The ads are not “decent, honest and veracious”, as required by Belgian law, the World Wildlife ethicists sniffed. Other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) make similar demands. …
They are demands which – we ardently hope – will rebound in their green faces.
In fact, the rebounding has begun.
India’s Intelligence Bureau recently identified Greenpeace as “a threat to national economic security”, noting that these and other groups have been “spawning” and funding internal protest movements and campaigns that have delayed or blocked numerous mines, electricity projects and other infrastructure programs vitally needed to create jobs and lift people out of poverty and disease. The anti-development NGOs are costing India’s economy 2-3% in lost GDP every year, the Bureau estimates.
The Indian government has now banned direct foreign funding of local campaign groups by foreign NGOs like Greenpeace, the WWF and US-based Center for Media and Democracy. India and other nations could do much more. Simply holding these über-wealthy nonprofit environmentalist corporations to the same ethical standards they demand of for-profit corporations could be a fascinating start.
Greenpeace, WWF and other Big Green campaigners constantly demand environmental and climate justice for poor families. They insist that for-profit corporations be socially responsible, honest, transparent, accountable, and liable for damages and injustices that the NGOs allege the companies have committed, by supposedly altering Earth’s climate and weather, for example.
Meanwhile, more than 300 million Indians (equal to the US population) still have no access to electricity, or only sporadic access. 700 million Africans likewise have no or only occasional access. Worldwide, almost 2.5 billion people (nearly a third of our Earth’s population) still lack electricity …
These energy-deprived people do not merely suffer abject poverty. They must burn wood and dung for heating and cooking, which results in debilitating lung diseases that kill a million people every year. They lack refrigeration, safe water and decent hospitals, resulting in virulent intestinal diseases that send almost two million people to their graves annually. The vast majority of these victims are women and children.
The energy deprivation is due in large part to unrelenting, aggressive, deceitful eco-activist campaigns against coal-fired power plants, natural gas-fueled turbines, and nuclear and hydroelectric facilities in India, Ghana, South Africa, Uganda and elsewhere. The Obama Administration joined Big Greeen in refusing to support loans for these critically needed projects, citing climate change and other claims.
As American University adjunct professor Caleb Rossiter asked in a recent Wall Street Journal article, “Where is the justice when the US discourages World Bank funding for electricity-generation projects in Africa that involve fossil fuels, and when the European Union places a ‘global warming’ tax on cargo flights importing perishable African goods?”
Where is the justice in Obama advisor John Holdren saying ultra-green elites in rich countries should define and dictate “ecologically feasible development” for poor countries? …
Imagine your life without abundant, reliable, affordable electricity and transportation fuels. Imagine living under conditions endured by impoverished, malnourished, diseased Indians and Africans whose life expectancy is 49 to 59 years. And then dare to object to their pleas and aspirations, especially on the basis of “dangerous manmade global warming” speculation and GIGO [garbage in, garbage out] computer models. …
Genetically engineered Golden Rice incorporates a gene from corn (maize) to make it rich in beta-carotene, which humans can convert to Vitamin A, to prevent blindness and save lives. The rice would be made available at no cost to poor farmers. Just two ounces a day would virtually end the childhood malnutrition, blindness and deaths. But Greenpeace and its “ethical” collaborators have battled Golden Rice for years, while eight million children died from Vitamin A deficiency since the rice was invented.
In Uganda malnourished people depend as heavily on Vitamin A-deficient bananas, as their Asian counterparts do on minimally nutritious rice. A new banana incorporates genes from wild bananas, to boost the fruit’s Vitamin A levels tenfold. But anti-biotechnology activists repeatedly pressure legislators not to approve biotech crops for sale.
Other crops are genetically engineered to resist insects, drought and diseases, reducing the need for pesticides and allowing farmers to grow more food on less land with less water. However, Big Green opposes them too, while millions die from malnutrition and starvation.
Sprayed in tiny amounts on walls of homes, DDT repels mosquitoes for six months or more. It kills any that land on the walls and irritates those it does not kill or repel, so they leave the house without biting anyone. No other chemical – at any price – can do all that. Where DDT and other insecticides are used, malaria cases and deaths plummet – by as much as 80 percent. Used this way, the chemical is safe for humans and animals, and malaria-carrying mosquitoes are far less likely to build immunities to DDT than to other pesticides, which are still used heavily in agriculture and do pose risks to humans.
But in another crime against humanity, Greenpeace, WWF and their ilk constantly battle DDT use – while half a billion people get malaria every year, making them unable to work for weeks on end, leaving millions with permanent brain damage, and killing a million people per year, mostly women and children.
India and other countries can fight back, by terminating the NGOs’ tax-exempt status, as Canada did with Greenpeace. They could hold the pressure groups to the same standards they demand of for-profit corporations: honesty, transparency, social responsibility, accountability and personal liability. They could excoriate the Big Green groups for their crimes against humanity – and penalize them for the malnutrition, disease, economic retractions and deaths they perpetrate or perpetuate.
* See our posts: The evil that Greenpeace does, January 16, 2010; The vast left-wing conspiracy, January 18, 2010; The blind cruelty of Greenpeace, January 20, 2010; Fresh wild raw uninhabited world, January 2, 2012.
How goes Obama’s “pivot” – or “tilt” – to the East?
The Washington Post reports that Defense Secretary Hagel is quietly busy seeing to it, with feeling:
Hagel, who has made five trips to the Far East in the past year, has sustained President Obama’s long-touted tilt toward Asia, even as he has been a nearly invisible player in the unending crises elsewhere that have eclipsed it.
By interest, history and temperament, Hagel appears to feel a sense of ownership in Asia.
A sense of ownership. What can that mean? Read on, and we may find out.
Despite the stalling of the Pacific trade agreement that is another cornerstone of Obama’s Asia “rebalance” …
What is being referenced here is Obama’s failure to reach a trade agreement with Japan. Notice that the Obamaspeak for “failing” is “stalling”. Implied is a temporary hitch soon to be overcome.
… Hagel can claim steady progress in the military’s role of building regional alliances and partnerships. But those gains risk being overtaken by China’s rapidly worsening relations with its neighbors and escalating belligerency from North Korea.
Yup, a little advance here a huge set-back there.
In a speech Saturday morning to the annual Shangri-La Dialogue, a regional defense conference he first attended as a senator more than a decade ago, Hagel criticized China’s “destabilizing, unilateral actions” in asserting its maritime claims against other countries in the region. [Some of his] aides said he purposely used language sharper than in previous public statements on the subject.
Purposely? Is sharp speaking usually done by him inadvertently? Obamarians feel uncomfortable speaking sharply to a foreign audience – other than Israel, of course.
So how sharply?
“We take no position on competing territorial claims,” Hagel said, repeating U.S. insistence that its interests are rooted in a desire to balance alliances with Asia’s smaller partners and a smooth relationship with China.
That sharply? Hang on – here it comes:
“But we firmly oppose any nation’s use of intimidation, coercion or the threat of force to assert these claims.”
How firmly? As firmly as Obama opposed intimidation, coercion and the actual use of force by Assad and Putin?
The report mentions that intimidation, coercion and the threat of force is ongoing:
New air skirmishes have erupted in recent weeks in the East China Sea with Japan and in contested South China Sea waters with Vietnam.
So how firm on the Obama scale is Mr Hagel? There must be a shadow or a ghost of firmness somewhere about. It was detected by a Chinese lady general in a “restatement” of a “defense commitment” to Japan. Wow!
In questions following Hagel’s remarks, a Chinese general testily asked the defense secretary to explain what she called his own “subtle threat of force” in restating the U.S. defense commitment to Japan even as he called for a negotiated settlement of contesting claims to East China Sea islands.
Watch out now for the assertion that the Obama position is clear. Whenever an Obama position is very faint, particularly uncertain, he or one of his servants will say that it is “clear”:
“America’s position is clear,” Hagel said. “These territorial disputes should be resolved through international law.”
International law. That clear? That firm? “International law” is a will-o-the-wisp, a fancy, a trick of the light, smoke and mirrors.
But at the same time, he said, the United States has treaty commitments to several countries in the region, including Japan, the Philippines and South Korea.
We like that “but”. There’s the sharpness, you see. “But” the US has treaty commitments. They may involve mention of military support! The big contrast to international law. Strong stuff, like the treaty commitment the US had to defending Ukraine’s independence. When Ukraine’s independence was threatened, when a chunk of its territory was seized by Russia, the US commitment held like cardboard in the rain.
But enough of ghostly saber rattling.
Those Eastern countries towards which Obama is tilting must be reminded of what Obama expects of them. What he expects of them is his policy towards them.
Returning to familiar themes, Hagel nudged South Korea and Japan toward greater defense cooperation that will allow a unified missile defense system against North Korea, which is suspected of preparing a fourth nuclear test. He called on China to play “a more active role” in using its influence on Pyongyang, urged Thailand’s military to restore democracy and praised Burma for ending military dictatorship.
And if they would only take those decisive steps, US partnership would prove a real boon.
If anything, Hagel indicated, “the Asia-Pacific’s shifting security landscape makes America’s partnerships and alliances indispensable as anchors for regional stability.” …
While budgets may be cut elsewhere, Hagel said, “both President Obama and I remain committed to ensuring that any reductions in U.S. defense spending do not come at the expense of America’s commitments in the Asia-Pacific,” where they have said 60 percent of U.S. air and naval assets will be based by 2020.
Although the administration has promised that resources saved by ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be used both for the Asia rebalance and for the new Middle East and African counterterrorism strategy that Obama outlined this past week in an address at the U.S. Military Academy, a senior defense official said little competition was involved.
What could he mean by “competition”. Could he mean (shudder!) a possibility of military opposition? None of that sort of thing? So what matters are the alliances in themselves, not any purpose beyond them. Do not even think it.
Asia, Hagel said in his speech, is an example of the stronger “global partnerships and alliances” Obama described this week as a cornerstone of his foreign and security policy. …
Now at last we are told why Hagel has “a sense of ownership in Asia”. Get ready to be impressed.
Hagel’s Vietnam experience is only part of his attachment to Asia, the senior defense official said. His father was a bomber tail-gunner in the Pacific in World War II. As president of the USO and a business executive who founded a lucrative cellphone network, Hagel traveled frequently to the region even before his election to the Senate in 1996.
And that adds up to –
“I’ve got this long history, this confluence with my background, my history,” said [an] official, describing what he said was Hagel’s thought process. “It’s what I’m good at, what I’m interested in.”
We won’t even dignify all that with a comment – the silliness speaks for itself.
What we have to understand is that Hagel is determined to succeed. You may find this hard to believe, but he is as determined to succeed in the Far East as Secretary of State John Kerry was determined to succeed in the Middle East. That determined.
[His] aides portray Hagel’s dedication to the Asia-Pacific and his determination to succeed here as equal to that of Secretary of State John F. Kerry’s highly publicized (but stalled) efforts to forge an Israeli-Palestinian peace, only with less media attention and more potential for long-term success.
More potential, eh? Efforts that will not “stall”? There’s optimism for you!
Meanwhile what is going on with the Far East in the real world?
Events so huge that they mark “a major alteration in the global balance of power”.
Charles Krauthammer writes (May 22, 2014) at the Washington Post:
It finally happened — the pivot to Asia. No, not the United States. It was Russia that turned East.
In Shanghai, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping signed a spectacular energy deal — $400 billion of Siberian natural gas to be exported to China over 30 years.
This is huge. By indelibly linking producer and consumer — the pipeline alone is a $70 billion infrastructure project — it deflates the post-Ukraine Western threat (mostly empty, but still very loud) to cut European imports of Russian gas. Putin has just defiantly demonstrated that he has other places to go.
The Russia-China deal also makes a mockery of U.S. boasts to have isolated Russia because of Ukraine. Not even Germany wants to risk a serious rupture with Russia (hence the absence of significant sanctions). And now Putin has just ostentatiously unveiled a signal 30-year energy partnership with the world’s second-largest economy. Some isolation.
The contrast with President Obama’s own vaunted pivot to Asia is embarrassing (to say nothing of the Keystone pipeline with Canada). He went to Japan last month also seeking a major trade agreement that would symbolize and cement a pivotal strategic alliance. He came home empty-handed.
Does the Obama foreign policy team even understand what is happening? For them, the Russia-China alliance is simply more retrograde, 19th-century, balance-of-power maneuvering by men of the past oblivious to the reality of a 21st century governed by law and norms. A place where, for example, one simply doesn’t annex a neighbor’s territory. Indeed, Obama scolds Russia and China for not living up to their obligations as major stakeholders in this new interdependent world.
The Chinese and Russians can only roll their eyes. These norms and rules mean nothing to them. Sure, they’ll join the World Trade Organization for the commercial advantages – then cheat like hell with cyberespionage and intellectual piracy. They see these alleged norms as forms of velvet-glove imperialism, clever extensions of a Western hegemony meant to keep Russia in its reduced post-Soviet condition and China contained by a dominant US military.
Obama cites modern rules; Russia and China, animated by resurgent nationalism, are governed by ancient maps. Putin refers to eastern and southern Ukraine by the old czarist term of “New Russia”. And China’s foreign minister justifies vast territorial claims that violate maritime law by citing traditional (“nine-dash”) maps that grant China dominion over the East and South China seas.
Which makes this alignment of the world’s two leading anti-Western powers all the more significant.
It marks a major alteration in the global balance of power. …
China and Russia together represent the core of a new coalition of anti-democratic autocracies challenging the Western-imposed, post-Cold War status quo.
Their enhanced partnership marks the first emergence of a global coalition against American hegemony since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Indeed, at this week’s Asian cooperation conference, Xi proposed a brand-new continental security system to include Russia and Iran (lest anyone mistake its anti-imperialist essence) and exclude America.
This is an open challenge to the post-Cold War, US-dominated world that Obama inherited and then weakened beyond imagining.
If carried through, it would mark the end of a quarter-century of unipolarity. And herald a return to a form of bipolarity — two global coalitions: one free, one not… [A] struggle … for dominion and domination.
To which Obama, who once proclaimed that “no one nation can or should try to dominate another nation,” is passive, perhaps even oblivious. His pivot to Asia remains a dead letter. Yet his withdrawal from the Middle East — where from Egypt to Saudi Arabia, from Libya to Syria, US influence is at its lowest ebb in 40 years — is a fait accompli.
The retreat is compounded by Obama’s proposed massive cuts in defense spending … even as Russia is rearming and China is creating a sophisticated military soon capable of denying America access to the waters of the Pacific Rim.
Decline is not a condition. Decline is a choice. In this case, Obama’s choice. And it’s the one area where he can be said to be succeeding splendidly.