On June 7, 2008, we faced with horror the possibility that Barack Obama could become president of the United States with a post titled Obama can only fumble and fail:
We would say to him: ‘Come on, Barry, face the fact that you cannot lead this nation.’
Barack Obama makes flabbergastingly naive statements of intent. He seems to be stuck with adolescent ideals, a view of what is desirable and possible that few sane people over the age of 21 can normally continue to hold. He manifests no knowledge of history, or of political or economic theory. His ideas have the quality of sticky-sentiment greetings cards, but are delivered with the grandiloquence of extreme narcissism. His manner of dropping his voice at the end of every sentence gives everything he says a certainty; an inarguable ‘I say so, so that’s how it is’ finality; an apodictic quality. This manner, combined with the lift of his chin to one side like Mussolini, enchants gullible listeners: makes them think, ‘Ah yes, he is so sure, he must be right, he should lead us!’ Only when he has to answer a question he has not prepared himself for, do we hear him fumbling, stammering, losing the eloquence of the well-rehearsed demagogue.
To elect him to the presidency of the United States at this point in history would be a mistake so devastating that it’s hard to believe sensible voters could even contemplate doing so. Now, just as Europe has learnt too late that socialism does not work, he would bring socialism to America. For make no mistake about it, Obama is a socialist … Just for starters he wants a national health service – a wholly socialist notion – though every example of such a thing everywhere in the world is failing.
Has he brought socialism to America? Yes. Or very much more of it to add to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s start.
Has he imposed a national health service on the nation? Yes. He has begun to do it with a health care act that taxes every citizen and resident of America just for existing, and is proving to be so unmanageable that the only way out of its mess is either to repeal it as Republicans want to do, or go to a full “one-payer system” – the one payer being of course the state – as Obama’s faithful Democrats want to do.
His foreign policy ideas are even more disastrous. He wants to disarm the US in a world of spreading nuclear know-how and capability along with hostile intention.
Is he doing so? Yes. He is defunding the US military and turning servicemen into social workers.
Is the country called ‘the last best hope’ of humanity about to follow the European example and become weak, demoralized, decadent, and slowly subjugated by aliens whose ideas derive from the seventh century?
Yes. In addition to following the European model of socialism, Obama has brought the Muslim Brotherhood into his administration.
What of his world leadership as US president? He has just proved himself incapable of exercising it. Worse, he has broken the Pax Americana on which the world relied – as Caroline Glick explicates:
What happened in Geneva last week was the most significant international event since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The collapse of the Soviet Union signaled the rise of the United States as the sole global superpower. The developments in the six-party nuclear talks with Iran in Geneva last week signaled the end of American world leadership.
Global leadership is based on two things – power and credibility. The United States remains the most powerful actor in the world. But last week, American credibility was shattered.
Secretary of State John Kerry spent the first part of last week lying to Israeli and Gulf Arab leaders and threatening the Israeli people. He lied to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the Saudis about the content of the deal US and European negotiators had achieved with the Iranians.
Kerry told them that in exchange for Iran temporarily freezing its nuclear weapons development program, the US and its allies would free up no more than $5 billion in Iranian funds seized and frozen in foreign banks.
Kerry threatened the Israeli people with terrorism and murder – and so invited both – if Israel fails to accept his demands for territorial surrender to PLO terrorists that reject Israel’s right to exist. …
It is hard to separate the rise in terrorist activity since Kerry’s remarks last week from his remarks.
What greater carte blanche for murder could the Palestinians have received than the legitimization of their crimes by the chief diplomat of Israel’s closest ally? Certainly, Kerry’s negotiating partner Catherine Ashton couldn’t have received a clearer signal to ratchet up her economic boycott of Jewish Israeli businesses than Kerry’s blackmail message …
Kerry’s threats were so obscene and unprecedented that Israeli officials broke with tradition and disagreed with him openly and directly, while he was still in the country. Normally supportive leftist commentators have begun reporting Kerry’s history of anti-Israel advocacy, including his 2009 letter of support for pro-Hamas activists organizing flotillas to Gaza in breach of international and American law.
As for Kerry’s lies to the US’s chief Middle Eastern allies, it was the British and the French who informed the Israelis and the Saudis that far from limiting sanctions relief to a few billion dollars in frozen funds, the draft agreement involved ending sanctions on Iran’s oil and gas sector, and on other industries.
In other words, the draft agreement exposed Washington’s willingness to effectively end economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for Iran’s agreement to cosmetic concessions that will not slow down its nuclear weapons program.
Both the US’s position, and the fact that Kerry lied about that position to the US’s chief allies, ended what was left of American credibility in the Middle East. That credibility was already tattered by US fecklessness in Syria and support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
True, in the end, Kerry was unable to close the deal he rushed off to Geneva to sign last Friday. [But] it wasn’t Iran that rejected the American surrender. And it wasn’t America that scuttled the proposal. It was France. Unable to hide behind American power and recognizing its national interest in preventing Iran from emerging as a nuclear armed power in the Middle East, France vetoed a deal that paved the way a nuclear Iran.
Kerry’s failure to reach the hoped-for deal represented a huge blow to America, and a double victory for Iran. The simple fact that Washington was willing to sign the deal – and lie about it to its closest allies – caused the US to lose its credibility in the Middle East. Even without the deal, the US paid the price of appeasing Iran and surrendering leadership of the free world [in this instance] to France and Israel. …
Thus, Iran ended Pax Americana in the Middle East, removing the greatest obstacle in its path to regional hegemony. And it did so without having to make the slightest concession to the Great Satan. …
It was fear of losing Pax Americana that made all previous US administrations balk at reaching an accord with Iran. …
The Obama administration just paid that unsustainably high price, and didn’t even get a different relationship with Iran.
Most analyses of what happened in Geneva last week have centered on what the failure of the talks means for the future of Obama’s foreign policy.
Certainly Obama, now universally reviled by America’s allies in the Middle East, will be diplomatically weakened. This diplomatic weakness may not make much difference to Obama’s foreign policy, because appeasement and retreat do not require diplomatic strength.
But the real story of what happened last week is far more significant than the future of Obama’s foreign policy. Last week it was America that lost credibility, not Obama. It was America that squandered the essential component of global leadership.
And that is the watershed event of this young century. …
Until Obama became president, the consensus view of the US foreign policy establishment and of both major parties was that the US had a permanent interest in being the hegemonic power in the Middle East. US hegemony ensured three permanent US national security interests: preventing enemy regimes and terror groups from acquiring the means to cause catastrophic harm; ensuring the smooth flow of petroleum products through the Persian Gulf and the Suez Canal; and demonstrating the credibility of American power by ensuring the security of US allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia. The third interest was an essential foundation of US deterrence of the Soviets during the Cold War, and of the Chinese over the past decade.
Obama departed from this foreign policy consensus in an irrevocable manner last week. In so doing, he destroyed US credibility. …
[Even] if a conservative internationalist in the mold of Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy or Ronald Reagan is elected in 2016, Obama’s legacy will make it impossible for him to rebuild the US alliance structure. US allies … will not be willing to make any longterm commitments based on US security guarantees.
Obama has taught the world that the same US that elected Truman and formed NATO, and elected George H.W. Bush and threw Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, can elect a man who betrays US allies and US interests to advance a radical ideology predicated on a rejection of the morality of American power. Any US ally is now on notice that US promises – even if based on US interests – are not reliable. American commitments can expire the next time America elects a radical to the White House. …
America’s appalling betrayal of Jerusalem under Obama … is the straw that has broken the back of American strategic credibility from Taipei to Santiago. …
The twice-elected president of the United States has dispatched his secretary of state to threaten and deceive US allies while surrendering to US foes. It is now an indisputable fact that the US government may use its power to undermine its own interests and friends worldwide.
Could a president fail more catastrophically than Obama has? The list of his failures is too long for this space. Enough to say he has had no successes. America under his leadership is more in debt, its government is more corrupt, its position in the world is weaker, its Constitution is voided, its citizens are less free, its enemies are triumphant, its allies are enraged …
And yet … an awful question arises. What if all this represents not failure but success? What if the wrecking of the economy, the collectivization of the people, the weakening of America as the dominant world power, the voiding of the Constitution, the advancement of Islam, the existential crisis of Israel, are precisely what Obama set out to achieve?
Then he would have to be assessed as the most successful president since George Washington. The failure is colossal, but it is not his. It is America’s.
Is there no one inside the White House loyal enough to the USA to stop or expose Obama’s secret dealing with its enemies – dealings that strengthen them and weaken us?
This is from Front Page, by Majid Rafizadeh:
I have long pointed out that Barack Obama’s administration, and particularly president Obama himself, has been more than likely clandestinely communicating and working with the Islamic Republic of Iran much longer than just before the current nuclear talks, and even long before President Hassan Rouhani came to the United States to attend the UN General Assembly.
Several national and international outlets have just released more details and reports on this issue.
The crucial point … is that while the American people were told by the Obama administration (an image projected by President Obama) that this September’s “historic” telephone call between President Obama and President Rouhani was the first diplomatic outreach to achieve agreement on nuclear issues, the recent revelations indicate otherwise.
These secrets talks, surreptitious letters, leading to confidential and classified negotiations between Obama and the Islamist leaders of Iran, were initiated long before the current nuclear talks, right after the current president of Iran was elected to office.
According to several outlets, including the [Democratic supporting] Daily Beast … the White House— under the leadership of President Obama— started lifting and easing its sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran right after President Hassan Rouhani took office.
According to The Daily Beast, Mark Dubowitz, the executive director of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a group that works closely with Congress and the White House regarding Iranian matters, stated that for “five months, since Rouhani’s election, the United States has offered Iran two major forms of sanctions relief.” In addition, Dubowitz pointed out that Iran has been selling oil illegally on the black market, leading to a large profitable amount of illegal revenues for Iran.
This also explains why President Obama has tried to oppose any sort of sanctions, policy recommendations, and legislation presented by the overwhelming majority of congressional representatives.
While it took several American administrations, the international community, the United Nations, and European countries to identify illicit institutions and actors in Iran who have abused the international financial sector, the Obama administration is quietly reversing these processes.
The Obama administration’s policy of quietly lessening financial pressure on Iran has significantly emboldened the position of Iranian Islamists in the international arena.
According to Dubowitz, two types of relief and special offers have been given to Iran by the Obama administration.
Firstly, the Obama administration has significantly decreased issuing designations of sanctions violators in comparison to any previous administrations. This is occurring at a time when Iran has been more rapidly working on its nuclear program and increasing its centrifuges, according to the latest report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Iran has also increased the number of engineers working at a new plutonium plant, and according to many nuclear experts, Iran will reach the breakaway capacity of developing bomb-grade nuclear weapons within the first six months of next year.
The latest assessment is that it could be done in a matter of weeks, not months.
These secrets concessions have significantly assisted the new president of Iran … [and] President Obama has … assured the Iranian Islamist leaders that they have the green light to receive further relief down the road. …
In addition, Iranian lawmakers have previously pointed out that President Obama has sent secret letters to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. While the Obama administration denies [this], Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman confirmed that Tehran did receive the secret letter to the Supreme Leader.
Furthermore, as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu pointed out, US Secretary of State John Kerry is currently pushing for an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program which will ease sanction on Iran without even asking Tehran to slow down its nuclear activities.
The secrecy of the Obama administration’s work with the Islamist leaders of Iran is bringing, and will continue to bring, further severe repercussions for American national interest, which will just intensify as these clandestine communications networks continue to occur. …
Finally, and more fundamentally, this move has worked to embolden the Islamists’ position, weakening and damaging the American image.
Obama loves Islam. Obviously. But why the choice now of (Shi’a) Iran? His first choice – it seemed – was (Sunni) Saudi Arabia, to whose King he bowed deeply when they met.
We put our little grey skeptical cells to work on these particulars:
Obama has made a close friend of the (Sunni) Turkish prime minister Recep Erdogan. Erdogan has befriended Iran, and has turned his country’s former friendship with Israel into enmity. Has Erdogan acted as a go-between for Obama in his wooing of Iran?
Iran is working to become a nuclear-armed power. What it wants to do with its nuclear arms – Iranian leaders have announced - is wipe Israel off the map; whereas the Saudis dread a nuclear armed Iran and seem to have become, on this issue, tacit allies of Israel. Is there a reason in that for Obama to turn away from the Saudis and towards the Iranians? Yes.
So Obama – who has been bullying the Israeli prime minister for the last five years – is positively against the survival of Israel?
We think that is a logical conclusion. But an appalling one.
What others, if any, might there be?
Look up! See the skies filling with pigs on the wing – because: The left-biased media are exploding with disapproval of the president they have long and deeply adored.
CBS finally got round to airing a report on what happened in Benghazi on 9/11/12 that is not flattering to the Obama administration because it shows – without explicitly stating – that Obama and Hillary Clinton lied about the disastrous events of that night of death and defeat. [But see Postscript.]
Obama’s most faithful dog NBC reveals to its audience that Obama lied when he said that people could keep their health insurance under Obamacare.
Four opinion columnists of the left-leaning Washington Post are shocked, shocked at Obama’s display of incompetence, his denial of culpability, his claimed ignorance of what his administration has been doing badly.
Ruth Marcus becomes quite strong in her disapproval, here. Her theme is “the chaotic reality of the Obama administration’s second term”. She writes:
The menu of current problems [that] go to issues of core competency to govern [are]:
Eavesdropping on foreign leaders. The choices here are unflattering. EitherPresident Obama did not know what his spy agencies were up to, in which case he is not fully in control of the reins of power after nearly five years in office, or he knew, in which case he did not think through the obviously inadequate cost-benefit ratio and his aides are misleading the public now. … How could he not know? If he did know, how could he think the information gleaned could possibly be worth the risk of having foreign leaders discover the surveillance? …
Syria. … the herky-jerky nature of the administration’s approach — drawing a red line, failing to enforce it, trumpeting enforcement, then suddenly shifting to Congress — does not portray the president in a flattering light. This is first-year-of-first-term amateurishness …
Oh yes, health care. The president’s signal domestic policy achievement. Probably the most important legacy of his administration. … So how could the roll out of the Web site be so bad?
Chris Cillizza writes skeptically:
“Obama didn’t know” has become a regular refrain for this White House. Last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the president was unaware of the red flags that had been raised in regards the launch of Healthcare.gov, and back in May the President himself said knew nothing about the reports of the IRS targeting of conservative groups before he read about it in the media.”
And his column is illustrated with a video clip from a CNN report about Obama’s repeated plea that he “didn’t know”, questioning whether this was “a strategy”. The host’s air of mild surprise, his tone of “only asking”, fig-leafs the message that if Obama really doesn’t know what’s going on in his administration, he should.
Dana Milbank seems more than a little irritated (writing here at IBD):
For a smart man, President Obama professes to know very little about a great number of things going on in his administration. .. Is it better that he didn’t know about his administration’s missteps — or that he knew about them and didn’t stop them?
Richard Cohen – seeming hurt and even a touch angry (here):
[Obama] has lately so mishandled both domestic and foreign policy … [His Syrian policy is] intellectually incoherent and pathetically inconsistent … The debacle of the Affordable Care Act’s Web [raises]questions about confidence. … An erratic presidency has made the world a bit less safe.
Why were they unable to see what sort of man Obama is until now?
They saw what they wanted to see.
What’s happened that they see him more clearly now? Why did they let him get away with so much? Why are they still not complaining about the lies and cover-up of Benghazi?
Is it too late to undo the harm Obama has done to America?
We now know that perhaps 16 million people* will lose their health coverage because of ObamaCare. But David Axelrod sniffs “the overwhelming majority of the population won’t lose their current coverage,” and Anna Eshoo (my congresswoman) assures us that these millions will now be able to purchase “better” insurance (which they don’t want and which doesn’t fit their needs).
Three years of blatant lies from Obama in order to herd the American people, mostly against their will, into an unworkable, financially disastrous system, all in the service of the long-term goal of the Democratic Party: to increase the power, the reach, and the intrusiveness of the federal government, thereby turning free, independent citizens into wards of the state. This is what Obama meant when he proclaimed shortly before his first inauguration that the total transformation of this country will begin in five days. Next on Obama’s agenda is universal pre-school, that is, a year or two more in state-run, generally mediocre schools and a year or two less time with their parents (who may harbor undesirable, reactionary views). And let us not forget the Obama administration’s long-standing policy of not enforcing immigration laws, which means an ongoing rapid transformation of the demographics of this country and a huge increase in the number of people who will vote for welfare state policies.
What is this transformed America that Obama and most Democrats envision? At best, it’s a bloated European-style welfare state similar to the ones that are currently sinking into insolvency, that are unwilling and unable to defend themselves against the enemies within and without, that are becoming more culturally enfeebled with every passing year, and that are locked in a demographic death spiral which ensures their virtual disappearance as a culture in the lifetime of my grandchildren. At worst, it’s a leviathan state which holds the commanding position in every critical aspect of life, both political and economic — something akin to a Soviet Union but perhaps without the gulags, the purge trials, and the sealed borders. This worst case scenario is not so far-fetched when one considers the chief influences in Obama’s life: the Reverend Wright, Frank Marshall Davis (Communist Party member), Saul Alinsky, Bill Ayers, and Obama’s revered father, a Marxist revolutionary. Steve Weinberg, Nobel Prize winner in physics, once expressed amazement that religious people actually believe that the Bible is literally true. When it comes to irrational belief, is it as difficult to grasp the notion that Obama might very well believe and wish to put into practice the anti-American, anti-capitalist worldview of those he has chosen to associate with throughout his adult life?
One may argue that a single man cannot possibly do irreparable damage to a society in eight short years. Let us hope this is true. But think about it! In two generations, Greece has gone from a nation of sturdy fishermen, farmers, and merchants into a bankrupt society whose citizens riot at the prospect of not being able to retire at the age or 50 with full pensions. Massive government intervention, in particular unearned benefits, has done to the Greeks what it has done to so many blacks in this country; that is, it has reduced them to feckless wards of the state. As Ambassador Daniel Moynihan pointed out, culture is more important than laws, but culture can be changed by changing the laws.
As far back as the 1830s, Alexis de Tocqueville described a new and distinctive culture, one that was totally different from those of Europe. It was a culture characterized by individualism, self-reliance, hard work, suspicion of authority, individual generosity, and the willingness to form local associations to solve social problems. It is what shaped and molded America and is the reason why the United States and not Brazil, Argentina, or Russia is the world’s preeminent power. Obama appears to have nothing but contempt for this culture, as exemplified by his off-hand comment about those people who cling to their guns and religion and his wife’s comment (almost certainly approved by him) on the campaign trail to the effect that for the first time in her life she felt proud of her country. When asked what made America great, Obama cited the passage of Social Security and Medicare – implying that the evolution of 13 weak colonies to the most powerful, the wealthiest, and the most innovative and creative nation in a little over two centuries was nothing compared to social welfare legislation. On another occasion, Obama opined that the Constitution was a flawed document in that it stipulates only negative rights (Congress shall not do this or that) and but does not stipulate positive rights (good jobs, free education, free medical care, free housing, etc.). But by their very nature, it is beyond the power of government to guarantee such “rights”. Government can decree the things it wants done but cannot ensure that these things will be done. If it could, the Soviet Union (which had a magnificent constitution) would have been an earthly paradise but, like all other states that have offered cradle-to-grave fulfillment of human needs, was a giant prison whose citizens were equal in their poverty.
Robert Kantor TAC Associate October 30, 2013
*Footnote: A Forbes article headlines: Obama officials [predicted] in 2010 that 93 million Americans will be unable to keep their health [insurance] plans under Obamacare.
Postscript 11/13/13: It turns out that the CBS report was based on a false account. This does not alter the fact that an Obama-supporting TV channel was prepared to discuss Benghazi without whitewashing the Obama administration – unless putting out the program was the start of a cunning plan to tell lies, have them exposed, and so make it seem that any adverse criticism of the administration’s handling of the Benghazi attack is likely to be untrue. It’s a possibility, but we think it more probable that CBS was simply deceived, and its willingness to criticize the administration’s handling of that dire event remains the notable point.
Unexpectedly, an important article on the current US and EU diplomatic talks with Iran, written by the excellent John Bolton (who would be a great Secretary of State) appears in the lefty pro-Islam British newspaper The Guardian. Here is a large part of it:
Tuesday’s opening of yet another round of negotiations with Iran over its nuclear-weapons program creates enormous risks for America’s anti-proliferation efforts. Tehran’s extensive propaganda campaign, stressing the “moderation” of its new president, Hassan Rouhani, seems to be working, softening up the gullible in the United States and Europe.
As in previous iterations of the charade now reopening in Geneva, Iran’s bargaining position benefits from our own repeated mistakes. The ayatollahs need only take advantage of these unforced errors, and success may well fall into their undeserving hands. Consider the most blatant errors that Iran is eager to exploit.
First, both Presidents Bush and Obama conceded that Iran was entitled to a “peaceful” nuclear program, for energy and scientific purposes. Under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), however, that view is flatly wrong. By pursuing nuclear weapons for over two decades, Iran has violated key NPT provisions – notably, the obligation it freely undertook to be a non-nuclear weapons state. Tehran is not, therefore, entitled to claim benefits under NPT sections permitting peaceful uses of nuclear power.
Beyond treaty interpretation, Iran’s long record of ignoring its commitments and lying about its nuclear program demonstrates beyond dispute that it cannot be trusted. What conceivable reason exists to believe today’s pledge to abstain from nuclear weapons when the ayatollahs have violated so many previous pledges? …
Second, by allowing Iran to possess any uranium enrichment, nuclear reactors, or spent nuclear fuel reprocessing capabilities, the west will both legitimize Iran’s nuclear program and ensure that it can move to weaponization at a time entirely of its choosing. … By misunderstanding the physics of uranium enrichment, the Obama administration has made a mockery of itself.
Third, the White House retort that international inspections will prevent Iran from speedily moving to weaponization is a complete fiction. Given the broad, deep nuclear infrastructure Iran is building aggressively, Tehran need merely expel the International Atomic Energy Agency when it chooses to do so, and then move rapidly to weaponization. …
Fourth, what Iran really wants near-term, and what the west seems poised to give, is relief from international economic sanctions. Although these measures have caused Iran economic pain, there is no evidence they have impeded the nuclear program. …
So sanctions are working. But Obama and the Communist representative of the EU, Catherine Ashton, are already squandering that advantage.
While America and Europe insist they will demand reciprocal concessions for any weakening of the sanctions, Iran (with its backers, Russia and China) is bargaining from a position of strength. The ayatollahs sense from Obama’s desperate efforts for a handshake or phone call with Rouhani at September’s UN opening that he is hungry for a deal, thus allowing them to extract concession from the west before making even a superficial response.
Which is not just diplomatic ineptitude on Obama’s part, it’s downright dumb – unless Obama wants Iran to get the bomb. Actually, we suspect he does; that he is sympathetic to Islam and its efforts to gain power. And we are convinced he is anti-Israel.
Our negotiators are already talking about “sequencing” steps by the two sides – meaning, in reality, we will make the first concessions, hoping that Iran will make substantive concession later. In fact, the likely scenario is the exact opposite: Obama will make significant reductions in sanctions that will be very hard to restore subsequently, and Iran will give us blue smoke and mirrors. Even worse, these non-reciprocal episodes could continue at length, giving Tehran another precious resource, time, to continue building its nuclear facilities. …
We have only two very unpleasant choices: either Iran gets nuclear weapons in the very near future, or pre-emptive military force, fully justified by well-established principles of self-defense, must break Iran’s control over the nuclear fuel cycle and prevent (or, at least, substantially delay) weaponization. President Obama has said repeatedly that “all options are on the table”, the standard euphemism for military action. But, especially after Syria, no one believes him, the ayatollahs in Tehran, most notably.
By default that leaves Israel, which is watching today’s negotiations most uneasily.
The fact is we shouldn’t trust and can’t verify Iranian promises not to fabricate nuclear weapons. Indeed, even now, Washington really doesn’t know how quickly Iran could assemble a small number of nuclear weapons.
But a crash program has never really been Tehran’s objective. Iran is playing a much longer game that the west, largely because it fears neither our sanctions nor a possible military strike.
Our inability to see through this strategy has brought us grief time and again. Unfortunately, in Geneva, we may be watching a re-run.
This article, which we quote in full, comes from DebkaFile – not always the most reliable of sources, but one we have often enough found to have been accurate. (For instance, DebkaFile intelligence revealed that Saddam Hussein was hiding his WMD by sending them to Syria – important information which was ignored at the time but which has turned out to be true.)
Today their pessimistic article about it’s being too late now to stop Iran becoming a nuclear power strikes us as all too likely to be right.
Israeli Air Force F-15 and F-16 fighter squadrons this week carried out exercises testing their capability to conduct missions at long ranges from base, the Israeli military said Thursday, Oct. 10. The drills included air-to-air refueling and dogfights against foreign combat planes. They were conducted together with Hellenic Air Force aircraft and naval units over the western Peloponnese and the Myrtoon Pelagos of Greece, shortly before the Six Power talks begin in Geneva on Iran’s nuclear program.
Israeli commentators noted that the drill broadcast a message to Tehran that Israel’s military option for bombing its nuclear program was alive and kicking. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu bombarded European TV media with interviews warning their leaders that the Iranians were conning the world while continuing to develop a nuclear weapon capability. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” he said.
Prime Minister Netanyahu was acting as though he believed he still holds three spanners for throwing into Iran’s nuclear program:
1. The Israeli military as embodied in its air force;
2. European leaders, who are dismayed by President Barack Obama’s precipitate rapprochement with Tehran. Addressing them, Netanyahu warned: “Better no deal than a bad deal.”
3. The US Congress, on which he counts to block future presidential applications to approve the lifting in stages of sanctions against Iran, simply by withholding approval of his agreements with Tehran.
However, the truth which every Middle East and Western leaders knows by now, is that the battle against a nuclear Iran is lost.
President Obama has wound up his secret negotiations with Iran and instructed US delegates to put on the table of the Geneva negotiations on Oct. 15 the understandings or deals he has reached with Iranian leaders.
Those understandings are about to be endorsed by the P5+1 (the five permanent Security Council members plus Germany) for implementation in stages. They will leave Iran with the capacity, reduced but intact, to continue to enrich uranium along with its ability to use clandestine sites to house the nuclear weapons they are able to produce.
So Iran will have it’s way and become a nuclear power. And there will be nothing to deter it. Sanctions against it will be lifted – are already being lifted. Britain, for instance, has announced that it is re-opening diplomatic relations with the mullahs.
And Netanyahu, for all his talk, has done nothing to ensure any other outcome. Only his talk continues. His biggest mistake – Israel’s biggest mistake – was to miss the fact, writ large all over Obama’s policies, that the present administration of the United States is pro-Islam and anti-Isreal. Under Obama, America was never going do anything that really would stop Iran going nuclear.
Netanyahu may keep on calling this a bad deal. But after all, it took shape on his watch as prime minister. And after Barack Obama became president in 2009, Israel failed to stall Iran’s race for a nuclear bomb – not in Parchin, Arak and Fordo – but in the White House.
The prime minister staged the long-distance air force drill more for domestic consumption than for use as a deterrent to impress Tehran. The Iranians have succeeded far too well in their diplomatic maneuvers to take much notice. They are sure the Netanyahu government will tire of its campaign, end up aligning once again with the Obama administration and swallow its deals with President Vladimir Putin on Iran, just as it did for Syria’s chemical weapons.
It seems that Putin is masterminding the treaty to be drawn up between the US and Iran which will put the stamp of the world’s approval on Iranian nuclear power.
And when Iran has nuclear weapons, will they not use them to attack Israel? They have said they will.
Is it now too late for Israel to save itself?
We think that Caroline Glick is at present the most perceptive commentator on the Middle East and American policy towards that tumultuous region. In a recent column she writes:
The Iranians … view diplomacy – like all their dealings with their sworn enemies – as a zero-sum game.
They are aiming to become a nuclear power. They may pretend that their nuclear arms program is negotiable, but it isn’t. President Rouhani will talk to Obama about it, and even smile as he does so, but regardless of anything that is said, or even agreed, the Iranian nuclear arms program will proceed as expeditiously as possible.
Behind Rouhani stands Qassem Suleimani, “Iran’s real strongman”.
Qassem Suleimani is the head of the Revolutionary Guard Corps. It is the most powerful organ of the Iranian regime, and Suleimani is Iranian dictator Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s closest confidante and adviser.
Rouhani doesn’t hold a candle to Suleimani. …
Suleimani came of age as a Revolutionary Guard division commander during the Iran-Iraq War from 1980 to 1988 … As the commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Suleimani commands the Syrian military and the foreign forces from Iran, Hezbollah and Iraq that have been deployed to Syria to keep Bashar Assad in power. …
Has has called the Syrian military “worthless.” He has also said, “Give me one brigade of the Basij, and I could conquer the whole country.”
The Basij (The Organization for Mobilization of the Oppressed) is a volunteer militia.It was established in 1979 by the Ayatollah Khomeini to fight in the Iran-Iraq war. Under the command of the Revolutionary Guards, it is now used to help put down internal opposition.
It was the Basij that crushed the anti-Islamist Green Revolution in Iran in 2009. But for a man whose formative experience was serving as a Revolutionary Guards commander in the Iran-Iraq War, Suleimani’s view of the Basij as a war-fighting unit owes to what it did in its glory days, in that war, not on the streets of Tehran in 2009. …
The Revolutionary Guards [used] the Basij during the Iran-Iraq War to serve as cannon fodder. Basij units were made up of boys as young as 12. They were given light doses of military training and heavy doses of indoctrination in which they were brainwashed to reject life and martyr themselves for the revolution.
As these children were being recruited from Iran’s poorest villages, Ayatollah Khomeini purchased a half million small plastic keys from Taiwan. They were given to the boys before they were sent to battle and told that they were the keys to paradise.
The children were then sent into minefields to die and deployed as human waves in frontal assaults against superior Iraqi forces. By the end of the war some 100,000 of these young boys became the child sacrifices of the regime.
When we assess Suleimani’s longing for a Basij brigade in Syria in its proper historical and strategic context – that is, in the context of how he and his fellow Revolutionary Guards commanders deployed such brigades in the 1980s – we realize that Suleimani is a psychopath.
US officials have preferred to think of him as “a pragmatist”. After the fall of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, they tried to negotiate with Sulumeini indirectly “through Iraqi politicians whom he controlled”. They failed, but persisted in their attempts. The former US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Cocker …
… was in Baghdad at the time setting up the Iraqi Governing Council. He used Iraqi intermediaries to clear all the Shi’ite candidates with Suleimani. In other words, the US government gave the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards control over the Iraqi government immediately after the US military toppled Saddam’s regime.
Far from convincing Suleimani to pursue a rapprochement with the US, Crocker’s actions convinced him that the US was weak.
And so, shortly after he oversaw the formation of the governing council, Suleimani instigated the insurgency whose aim was to eject the US from Iraq and to transform it into an Iranian satrapy. And yet, despite Suleimani’s obvious bad faith, and use of diplomacy to entrap the US into positions that harmed its interests and endangered its personnel, Crocker and other senior US officials continued to believe that he was the man to cut a deal with.
[American officials] like to romanticize the world’s most psychopathic, evil men. Doing so helps them to justify and defend their desire to appease, rather than confront, let alone defeat them. Suleimani and his colleagues are more than willing to play along with the Americans, to the extent that doing so advances their aims of defeating the US. …
Expanding on Bush’s aversion to fighting Iran, and preference for romanticizing its leaders rather than acknowledging their barbarism, upon entering office Barack Obama embraced a strategy whose sole goal is engagement. For the past five years, the US policy toward Iran is to negotiate. Neither the terms of negotiation nor the content of potential agreements is important.Obama wants to negotiate for the sake of negotiating. …
It’s possible that Obama believes that these negotiations will transform Iran into a quasi-US ally like the Islamist regime in Turkey. That regime remains a member of NATO despite the fact that it threatens its neighbors with war, it represses its own citizens, and it refuses to support major US initiatives while undermining NATO operations. Obama will never call Turkey out for its behavior or make Prime Minister Recep Erdogan pay a price for his bad faith. The myth of the US-Turkish alliance is more important to Obama than the substance of Turkey’s relationship with the United States. A deal with Iran would be horrible for America and its allies.
Whatever else it says it will do, the effect of any US-Iranian agreement would be to commit the US to do nothing to defend its interests or its allies in the Middle East.
While this would be dangerous for the US, it is apparently precisely the end Obama seeks. His address to the UN General Assembly [September 24, 2013] can reasonably be read as a declaration that the US is abandoning its position as world leader.
Wasn’t that one of his chief reasons for striving for supreme power – to end America’s world leadership?
The US is tired of being nitpicked by its allies and its enemies for everything it does, he said. And therefore, he announced, Washington is now limiting its actions in the Middle East to pressuring its one remaining ally, Israel, to give up its ability to protect itself from foreign invasion and Palestinian terrorism by surrendering Judea and Samaria, without which it is defenseless.
Like his predecessors in the Bush administration, Obama doesn’t care that Iran is evil and that its leaders are fanatical psychopaths. He has romanticized them based on nothing. Although presented by the media as a new policy of outreach toward Tehran, Obama’s current commitment to negotiating with Rouhani is consistent with his policy toward Iran since entering office. Nothing has changed.
From Obama’s perspective, US policy is not threatened by Iranian bad faith. It is threatened only by those who refuse to embrace his fantasy world where all deals are good and all negotiations are therefore good. What this means is that the prospect of Iran becoming a nuclear power does not faze Obama. The only threat he has identified is the one coming from Jerusalem.
Israel … is Obama’s greatest foe, because it insists on basing its strategic assessments and goals on the nature of things even though this means facing down evil.
Prime Minister Netanyahu indicated in his speech to the UN (October 1, 2013) that facing down the evil of Iran is what his country will do. We watch to see if he will act on his promise.
Are the Christian churches doing anything about the bloody, growing, relentless persecution of Christians in Arab and other Islamic countries?
The Archbishop of Canterbury?
Some at least of the innumerable Christian denominations in America?
The primates of the Russian Orthodox Church?
Are priests and parsons at least preaching against it from their pulpits?
No report or even a rumor of any such sermon has reached our ears.
Why not, we wonder. And then we recall that Christians make a virtue out of being persecuted. But of retribution, judgment of the persecutors, stopping the evil – nothing. Maybe because their man-god, in a sermon on a mountain or a plain, reputedly enjoined them not to resist evil. Thus giving evil a completely free hand.
Surely the United States is doing something about it? At least objecting to it verbally?
What about diplomats and churchmen in the countries where the persecution is happening?
Never! No Western diplomat would risk being caught criticizing anything Muslims do. And Middle Eastern churchmen, who cannot help noticing the dwindling numbers of their flocks and even hear cries in the endless night of their consciences, have found ingenious ways to blame Israel – ie the Jews. It’s an old tradition that they’re comfortable with.
Try Googling the subject. Dig hard and you’ll find some crumbs.
You’ll find Pakistani Christians have protested recently over the massacre of some 85 of their number, killed coming out of church by a couple of Muslim suicide bombers. Some of the protestors have since been beaten up by their Muslim neighbors for daring to complain.
And you can, if you search, find reports of thousands of Nigerian Christians being killed by Muslims in regular weekend raids – and on some week days too. The Muslims – who are passionately against literacy – cut up their victims with machetes and throw small children on to fires. (See also our posts: Christians murdered by Muslims, March 9, 2010; Muhammad’s command, March 30, 2010; Suffering children, May 11, 2011; Victims of religion, October 16, 2011; Acts of religion in Nigeria revisited, October 16, 2011; Christians slaughtered by Muslims in Nigeria, October 17, 2011; Boko Haram, the Muslim terrorists of Nigeria, November 10, 2011; More acts of religion in Nigeria, January 19, 2012; More Christians burnt to death by Muslims, July 11, 2013.)
What about those great humanitarians, the Communists, who fill Western universities and run a few countries? After all, the professed essence of their creed is concern for the underdog. But no, the butchery, the torture, the abduction of children – none of it bothers them. To their way of thinking, Christians can never be authentic underdogs. But all Muslims are, however rich and powerful many of them may be.
What about the media? At least the Christian media surely …?
Here’s a fine example from a Christian website. It starts off promisingly, but soon gets round to denying that the persecutions are due only to religious intolerance and explaining that the police who should protect Christians are unfortunately otherwise engaged; then seems to criticize Western Churches for find a Christian bright side to look on – the mistaken idea that converts can be won from among observers of the tortures and killings – but drops suddenly into pious reflections of its own.
I have been surprised that the media has actually covered many of the church burnings that have taken place. The reason that I am surprised is because in most of the uprisings and protests that have taken place throughout the Middle East, church burning and persecution of Christians has taken place without the media reporting on it. In Egypt’s case, the Muslim Brotherhood has used the crackdown on the protests as an opportunity to loot and burn churches and Christian businesses. The Daily Star, Lebanon’s English language newspaper said attacks on churches coincided with assaults on police stations, leaving most police “pinned down to defend their stations or reinforcing others rather than rushing to the rescue of Christians under attack”.
The reality is that the persecution in Egypt is just the most popular of a long list of these things happening currently all over the world. Statistics show that this year alone 163,000 people will die because of their faith. It is estimated that by 2025 that number could rise to 210,000 per year.
So they’re expecting a further increase in the productivity of this appalling industry? Is this an example of pessimism or optimism?
There is any number of reasons for persecution, and it is not just because of religious differences, although that usually plays a major role. Other reasons include politics, finances, anti-Western bias, and racism. Many times all of these issues are rolled up into one that supports the persecution taking place. There is also a disturbing myth among Western Christians that persecution causes the church to grow. In fact, since persecution in the country of Turkey began the percentage of Christians has dropped from 32% to 0.2%. Syria has seen a drop from 40% to 10%. Iran saw a drop of 15% to 2%. Persecution is something that will always be with the church and will even ramp up as the Great Commission comes to completion, but it is not good. Persecution is the result of a fallen world and a real enemy that must be fought against. This enemy is not flesh and blood, though, so our fight must take place in the heavenly realm through prayer.
Yeah, good idea. That always helps.
The atrocities that we are seeing on television should prompt us to fight the spiritual battle. We must first pray that God would be glorified. God is not surprised by what is taking place in Egypt. We need to pray that the believers and Christian workers there would have faith and use this as an opportunity to share the love of Christ with others. We also need to use this as motivation for ourselves individually to get better informed and learn about the persecuted church so that we would know how to pray. Lastly, I would challenge you to consider going to these places. There is nothing quite like a real, physical hug to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ. It could be your visit and encouraging words that gives strength to the church to continue fighting the good fight.
So if prayer fails, a hug may do it.
There are a few honorable exceptions among journalists. Raymond Ibrahim, the Front Page Magazine columnist, and himself a Copt from Egypt, is keeping the record and writing regularly and fully about the subject. His articles are well worth reading.
And an atheist, Nat Hentoff, writes:
Largely absent from nearly all our sources of news and commentary is deep, continuing coverage, if any, of the horrifying massacres of Christians in Egypt and especially Syria and the burning down of their churches.
The world’s most prominent Christian, Pope Francis, has denounced the violence, but our media has mostly ignored him [on this subject] …
One of the few penetrating protesters of this violence is Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review:
For the first time in 1,600 years, they didn’t pray this past Sunday at the Virgin Mary and Anba Abraam monastery in a village in southern Egypt. Islamists firebombed and looted the monastery, which dates back to the fifth century. For good measure, they destroyed a church inside. They then announced that they would be converting the monastery into a mosque. (Egypt’s Anti-Christian Pogrom, Lowry, National Review, Aug. 20).
… And as for our president: “In his remarks after the bloodshed began in Egypt, President Barack Obama relegated his concern over the anti-Christian attacks to a three-word dependent clause at the end of one sentence.”
As for daily life in Egypt, Morning Star News reported that earlier this month, “a Coptic Christian girl walking home from a Bible class at her church was shot and killed … in Cairo by an unidentified gunman, human rights activists said.” The girl’s uncle, a church pastor, said “he didn’t know for sure if the shooting was religiously motivated but quickly added that violence against Christians ‘seems to be normal’ in Egypt now” (Coptic Christian Girl Shot Dead in Egypt, Morning Star News, Aug. 9).
Meanwhile in Syria, “the nation’s 2 million-plus Christians are caught in the middle of a Muslim war. Jihadist rebels threaten and kidnap them while coercing others to become Muslims. Government troops loyal to President Bashar Assad order them to fight the opposition or face death” (Christians are in the crosshairs of bloody Muslim wars in Mideast, Rowan Scarborough, the Washington Times, Aug. 1).
But in spite of all this, says John Hayward of Human Events, “the international community never seems terribly exercised about the persecution of Christian minorities. … The same advanced democracies that had agonized internal discussions about whether freedom of speech should be curtailed, in order to avoid offending Muslims, don’t seem particularly angry about the destruction of Coptic churches, and other Christian property. Egyptian mobs are targeting Christian property for destruction by writing Islamist graffiti on the walls.”
But, thankfully, there are still those who are angry and vocal about this violence toward Christians. One of these media commentators who persistently denounce the absence of sustained American outrage at this merciless pogrom is Michael Savage, host of the Cumulus Radio program “The Savage Nation”.
Meanwhile, in this democratic country, will our Congress’s cold indifference continue? And will the nation’s religious leaders and activists – not just Christians – be confronted by those they lead? Will they say something and try to save what’s left of those Christian minorities in Egypt and Syria? …
As for the rest of us, are there any street demonstrations coming in front of the United Nations? Or does the very idea of insistent involvement from the U.N. – its reason for being – provoke anything but sardonic laughter at the prospect that its members will do anything lasting at all?
The New York Times (the equivalent of the Soviet Union’s Izvestia ) published an op-ed written or ostensibly written by the president of Russia, KGB man Vladimir Putin.
He urinated on Obama from a dizzy moral height. (Please – we’re not complaining, only pointing out an hypocrisy.) He explained that it would be wrong for the US to invade Syria, wrong to invade any country if yours was not being attacked and without the agreement of the UN Security Council:
Under current international law, force is permitted only in self-defense or by the decision of the Security Council. Anything else is unacceptable under the United Nations Charter and would constitute an act of aggression.
He laughed up his sleeve when he got his shirt on. But the people of Georgia who were subjected to a Russian invasion in 2008 and had a province or two stripped from them, did not join in the laughter.
Now the Washington Post ( the equivalent of the Soviet Union’s Pravda), not to be outdone, publishes a similarly beguiling piece: an op-ed ”by Hassan Rouhani”, the name of the president of Iran.
Here – in a figurative petri dish – we proffer some specimens from it.
The world has changed. International politics is no longer a zero-sum game but a multi-dimensional arena where cooperation and competition often occur simultaneously. Gone is the age of blood feuds. World leaders are expected to lead in turning threats into opportunities.
The international community faces many challenges in this new world — terrorism, extremism, foreign military interference, drug trafficking, cybercrime and cultural encroachment — all within a framework that has emphasized hard power and the use of brute force.
Yes, it does say “terrorism”. And “extremism” and “foreign military interference”. Iran is the biggest financier of terrorism in the world. If the mullahs who run Iran are not “extreme”, nobody is. And not only did Iran launch Hezbollah in Lebanon, its Revolutionary Guards are training Shia rebels in Syria. You see, the Post is quite as capable of poker-faced irony as the Times.
We must pay attention to the complexities of the issues at hand to solve them. Enter my definition of constructive engagement. In a world where global politics is no longer a zero-sum game, it is — or should be — counterintuitive to pursue one’s interests without considering the interests of others. A constructive approach to diplomacy doesn’t mean relinquishing one’s rights. It means engaging with one’s counterparts, on the basis of equal footing and mutual respect, to address shared concerns and achieve shared objectives. In other words, win-win outcomes are not just favorable but also achievable. A zero-sum, Cold War mentality leads to everyone’s loss.
Sadly, unilateralism often continues to overshadow constructive approaches. Security is pursued at the expense of the insecurity of others, with disastrous consequences. …
We must work together to end the unhealthy rivalries and interferences that fuel violence and drive us apart. We must also pay attention to the issue of identity as a key driver of tension in, and beyond, the Middle East.
At their core, the vicious battles in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria are over the nature of those countries’ identities and their consequent roles in our region and the world. The centrality of identity extends to the case of our peaceful nuclear energy program.
Interpretation: “We’re big and important and we want you to say we are, and because we ‘e big and important we must have nuclear … energy.”
To us, mastering the atomic fuel cycle and generating nuclear power is as much about diversifying our energy resources as it is about who Iranians are as a nation, our demand for dignity and respect and our consequent place in the world. Without comprehending the role of identity, many issues we all face will remain unresolved. …
“If you don’t say we’re big and important and as entitled to develop nuclear energy as you are, we won’t talk to you, so there!”
First, we must join hands to constructively work toward national dialogue, whether in Syria or Bahrain. …
“We’re unclenching our fist, Obama, as you asked us to, and we’ll clasp the hand you hold out to us, if you say we’re big and important.”
We must create an atmosphere where peoples of the region can decide their own fates.
“Except Israel, of course.”
As part of this, I announce my government’s readiness to help facilitate dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition.
“We, Russia, and you. And we and Russia will be calling the shots.”
Second, we must address the broader, overarching injustices and rivalries that fuel violence and tensions.
“By overarching injustices we mean the existence of Israel. By rivalries we mean no more stopping us being a nuclear power too.”
A key aspect of my commitment to constructive interaction entails a sincere effort to engage with neighbors and other nations to identify and secure win-win solutions. …
After 10 years of back-and-forth, what all sides don’t want in relation to our nuclear file is clear. The same dynamic is evident in the rival approaches to Syria.
This approach can be useful for efforts to prevent cold conflicts from turning hot.
“You’ll force us to use our bomb when we get it if you don’t say we’re big and important now.”
But to move beyond impasses, whether in relation to Syria, my country’s nuclear program or its relations with the United States, we need to aim higher. Rather than focusing on how to prevent things from getting worse, we need to think — and talk — about how to make things better. To do that, we all need to muster the courage to start conveying what we want — clearly, concisely and sincerely — and to back it up with the political will to take necessary action.
“What we want is for you to say we’re big and important. And to annihilate Israel.”
This is the essence of my approach to constructive interaction.
Rouhani wrote that op-ed like your great-grandmother wrote “War and Peace”. It could not be more glaringly obvious that it was an American Obama-supporting professional political writer (very possibly an Obama speech writer or two) who plonked down all the clichés. Or are such as these common in Persian parlance? – “constructive engagement”; “zero-sum game”; “counterintuitive”; “win-win outcomes”; “unilateralism”; “a key driver”; “diversifying our energy resources”; ”about who Iranians are as a nation”; “facilitate dialogue”; “commitment to constructive interaction”; “the same dynamic” …
The version in his own language, which was read to him for his approval, would have been close to the interpretations we’ve given in italics. So he approved, of course.
“Yes. Let the Americans think I want to clasp the hand and everything. As long as they understand they must first admit we’re … Sure. You can say I said all that. “
Rouhani once boasted that he could deceive the West into thinking he was against nuclear arms while his country went ahead building a nuclear arsenal. He spoke the truth that time.
This is our compressed version, posted on our Facebook page, of a part of Victor Davis Hanson’s column at PJ Media today. We repeat it here promptly and enthusiastically because it sums up (at least in part) the case against a Hillary Clinton presidency - the very thought of which makes us shudder.
Kerry is played hourly by the Russians and Syrians. He seeks to lecture and pontificate, not persuade and inspire. He ends up doing neither well. The secretary freelances into embarrassment. At times Kerry warns of imminent bombing; at times he champions sober negotiation; at times both and again neither. He talks ponderously and long. Even the Russians cannot stand the pomposity. Kerry inherited and made worse this mess, but did not create it. It was Hillary Clinton, not Kerry or even Obama, who first issued empty red lines that she either had no intention of enforcing or should have known that Obama had no desire to honor. It was Clinton who grandly announced to the world that Kerry and other senators were right in declaring Assad a “reformer” and a “moderate.” It was Hillary who oversaw, along with Samantha Power and Susan Rice, the debacle in Libya. It was Hillary who explained why Gaddafi — the clever monster in rehabilitation doing all that he could do to massage Western oil-hungry and petro-dollar-grabbing elites — had to go, but why the suddenly now satanic Assad should be left alone to reform. It was Hillary who was the architect of “lead from behind,” which proved nothing. Hillary thundered callously “what difference does it make?” over the four dead in Benghazi. Her State Department both stonewalled the Benghazi inquiry and, before the attack, refused to consider requests for more security. It was Hillary who chortled in crude fashion “we came, we saw, Gaddafi died,” and in cruder fashion lied to the families of the dead that a right-wing video, not Islamist militias attacking a poorly defended consulate engaged in secretive arms smuggling, had led to the deaths of their sons. And, yes, it was Hillary who jumped ship to avoid the consequences of her own disastrous tenure, while she hit the lecture circuit to cash in and prep for her 2016 presidential run. Kerry is incompetently cleaning up the wreckage of Hillary Clinton’s disastrous tenure.
The column needs to be read in full.
Until the end of World War I, the states of Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan did not exist. The territory they now cover had been part of the Empire of the Ottoman Turks for some 400 years. The names Syria and Mesopotamia designated Middle Eastern regions of the Ottoman Empire, roughly where Syria and Iraq are now.
In World War I the Turks were allies of Germany. The Arabs were loyal to their Ottoman overlords, and were also on Germany’s side.
But the British incited sedition among some of them, bribing a man in high religious office to head a rebellion. The inducement they offered him was power and glory: rule of an Arab independency of undefined dimensions.
The man was Hussein Ibn Ali, of the clan of the Hashemites and the tribe of the Quraish, Sharif of the Holy City of Mecca, putatively a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad.
The British gave him arms, supplies, subsidies and advisers. When he asked also for a firm definition of his dream-kingdom, the British High Commissioner in Cairo, Sir Henry McMahon, sent him a “clarification” in a letter dated 24 October 1915, in which he made it clear that he could not make it clear. The British, he explained, could not promise territory to Hussein which the French might claim, and they did not know what the French might claim.
In 1916 the British and French agreed, in a secret document known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement, on how they would divide up the territory between them once they had conquered it from the Turks. It was against the spirit of the times, when high principles were asserted against the old ideas of empire; principles which President Wilson of the United States set out in 14 points and became enshrined on the Covenant of the League of Nations. The new ideal was that never again would great powers impose their will on smaller nations.
In 1918, the British made another promise to the Arabs. It is known as The Declaration to the Seven. The “Seven” were from the Syrian region. They went to Cairo to ask the British what their intentions were in the Middle East. They were given a pledge that Britain would recognize “the complete and sovereign independence of any Arab area emancipated from Turkish control by the Arabs themselves”. It was an uncharacteristically precise promise.
It prompted the self-dramatizing Englishman, Colonel T.E.Lawrence, who had a highly romantic view of the Arabs (a view that has polluted the atmosphere of the British Foreign Office ever since), to exert himself to lead Hussein’s forces to a decisive victory. He marched them to Damascus, but the Australian Light Horse Brigade got there first, and took the city from the Turks. Lawrence persuaded the British to pretend that his Arabs had conquered the city. So the British ordered the Australians to drift out and let the Arabs march in. This set a really bad precedent by which the Arabs expected always to have a fictional version of reality replace any facts on the ground which inconvenienced them. It also gave the Arabs as a whole a false understanding of their own military power and achievements. (If they had beaten the mighty Turks at Damascus, how could they not be victorious against the new little Jewish state of Israel in 1948?)
When the British, French, and Americans won the Second World War, the British set about fulfilling – more or less – their promise to Hussein.
Hussein himself already ruled the Hejaz. His son Ali was his heir to that kingdom. (They were, however, to lose it in 1924,when Abdul Aziz al Saud conquered it. Saud was to join the Hejaz and the Nejd together and found a new state, Saudi Arabia, named after himself, in 1932.) But new kingdoms were created by the British for Hussein’s other sons, Abdullah and Faisal. They were to be called Syria and Iraq.
They made Faisal King of of the new state of Syria, and proposed to put Abdullah on the throne of a new state of Iraq.
Faisal ruled Syria only from March to April, 1920. The French knocked him off his throne and threw him out of the country, whose destiny they claimed was rightfully in their hands. (The French were granted mandates over Syria and Lebanon.)
The British had to find another throne for Faisal, so they made him King of Iraq instead of his brother, and then considered what they could for Abdullah.
What remained in their power to give away – or so they made out – was an area of the Ottoman Empire to which the ancient Romans had given the name Palestine when it was still part of their empire. In July 1922, the League of Nations granted Britain a mandate (also agreed on at the San Remo peace conference in 1920) over the Palestine region. The British pleaded that they needed it in order to carry out a promise they had made, in the Balfour Declaration of 1917, to let the region become a National Home for the Jews. According to the terms of the Mandate they were to “settle Jews closely on the land”. But when they were confronted by the problem of Abdullah being kingdom-less, they found that there was no need to let Jews settle closely on all the land. So they presented three-quarters of it, stretching eastward from the River Jordan to a chosen line in the desert, to Abdullah and called it the Emirate of Transjordan.
All the newly created Arab states fell short of Arab dreams. One was to flourish fairly well as a monarchy: the Emirate of Transjordan renamed itself the Kingdom of Jordan in 1949, when the Arab armies had failed to crush the new state of Israel, but the Transjordanian forces – known as the Arab Legion, under the able command of a British officer, John Bagot Glubb, better known as Glubb Pasha - had advanced across the River Jordan and taken control of what has ever since been called the “West Bank”. (Israel conquered it in its defensive war of 1968.)
The French held a mandate over Syria until July 1941. In September 1936, a treaty of independence was negotiated, but the French Legislature would not ratify it. Only when the British and Free French beat the forces of Vichy France in Syria and Lebanon in the Second World War, did Syria become an independent republic. But coups and attempted coups followed hot on each other, and the state was extremely unstable.
The Kingdom of Iraq also had a history of instability with numerous uprisings, massacres and assassinations. In 1958 the monarchy came to an end. The king, Faisal II, was eleven years old. His uncle, Abd al-Ilah, was regent. He was an ambitious man. He had plans to dominate an Arab unity embracing Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Kuwait. In February 1958 he achieved a union between Iraq and Jordan, the two remaining Hashemite kingdoms. This was intolerable to the president of Egypt, Jamal Abd al-Nasser, who had just created a union of Egypt and Syria in the same month. The union of Egypt and Syria under Nasser’s domination was intolerable to Abd al-Ilah.
Nasser had nationalized the Suez canal. Britain and France, who were joint shareholders in the Canal, lost their ownership of it. Nasser closed it to Israeli shipping. Israel saw this as a cause for war. Britain and France arranged with Israel that Israeli forces would strike into the Sinai on 29 October 1956, and they would invade Egypt on the pretext of restoring peace between the belligerents. President Eisenhower – unwisely – put a stop to the invasion when it had only just begun. America’s intervention allowed Nasser to pretend that he had won a victory, and felt encouraged to pursue his pan-Arab dream.
On February 1 1958, the union of Egypt and Syria as the United Arab Republic (UAR) came into being, with Cairo as its capital and Nasser as its president. Yemen was added a month later to form a confederation called the United Arab States.
Nasser’s agents and sympathizers went to work throughout the Middle East to spread his national socialist ideology. In Baghdad officers sympathetic to “Nasserism” plotted the destruction of the Iraqi monarchy. In 1958, under pro-Nasserite leadership, a contingent of Iraqi troops despatched by the Regent to quell a pro-Nasser uprising and civil war in Lebanon (actually put down by US forces) turned instead on their own ruling house. At dawn on 14 July 1958, the boy-king Faisal was murdered, along with his grandmother, his aunt, and others in the palace, including a helpless harmless orphan boy who lived with them.
Abd al-Ilah was dragged through the streets of Baghdad tied with ropes to the back of a truck, then – whether still alive or not when the tuck stopped – his body was dismembered with axes and his limbs and head tossed about by the hysterical mob. His trunk was hung from a balcony and chunks of its flesh were sliced off and thrown to the crowd below. The Prime Minister, Nuri al-Said, disguised himself as a woman and tried to escape, but he was caught and killed, and his body flung down on a busy street to be driven over, squashed and broken by the cars full of exulting motorists. His successor too was murdered after five years in power, and his body was fed to dogs.
In 1961, Syria revolted against Egypt’s domination and reasserted its independence. So the UAE was dissolved, and Yemen released. Hafez Assad became president of Syria in 1971. Under his dictatorship, and after him the dictatorship of his son Bashar Assad, rebellion has been put down with ruthless massacres.
Or not put down, as is the case now that civil war rages; or war waged by numerous militias and terrorist groups against the forces of the state. There is no reason to expect a peaceful or stable Syria to emerge out of the chaos, whether Great Powers intervene or not. The Syrians have no precedent for peace and stability in their young unhappy country.
Jillian Becker September 9, 2013