These are extracts from a Washington Times report of an interview it had in Moscow with Edward Snowden, the man who “betrayed” the secrets of the National Security Agency (NSA):
Snowden is an orderly thinker, with an engineer’s approach to problem-solving. He had come to believe that a dangerous machine of mass surveillance was growing unchecked. Closed-door oversight by Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was a “graveyard of judgment” he said, manipulated by the agency it was supposed to keep in check. Classification rules erected walls to prevent public debate.
Toppling those walls would be a spectacular act of transgression against the norms that prevailed inside them. Someone would have to bypass security, extract the secrets, make undetected contact with journalists and provide them with enough proof to tell the stories.
The NSA’s business is “information dominance”, the use of other people’s secrets to shape events. … Snowden upended the agency on its own turf. …[and] succeeded beyond plausible ambition. The NSA, accustomed to watching without being watched, faces scrutiny it has not endured since the 1970s, or perhaps ever.
The cascading effects have made themselves felt in Congress, the courts, popular culture, Silicon Valley and world capitals.
The basic structure of the Internet itself is now in question, as Brazil and members of the European Union consider measures to keep their data away from U.S. territory and U.S. technology giants including Google, Microsoft and Yahoo take extraordinary steps to block the collection of data by their government.
For months, Obama administration officials attacked Snowden’s motives and said the work of the NSA was distorted by selective leaks and misinterpretations.
On Dec. 16, in a lawsuit that could not have gone forward without the disclosures made possible by Snowden, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon described the NSA’s capabilities as “almost Orwellian” and said its bulk collection of U.S. domestic telephone records was probably unconstitutional.
The next day, in the Roosevelt Room [at the White house], an unusual delegation of executives from old telephone companies and young Internet firms told President Obama that the NSA’s intrusion into their networks was a threat to the U.S. information economy. The following day, an advisory panel appointed by Obama recommended substantial new restrictions on the NSA, including an end to the domestic call-records program. …
In the intelligence and national security establishments, Snowden is widely viewed as a reckless saboteur, and journalists abetting him little less so. …
It is commonly said of Snowden that he broke an oath of secrecy, a turn of phrase that captures a sense of betrayal. NSA Director Keith B. Alexander and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., among many others, have used that formula. …
Snowden noted matter-of-factly that Standard Form 312, the classified-information nondisclosure agreement, is a civil contract. He signed it, but he pledged his fealty elsewhere.
“The oath of allegiance is not an oath of secrecy,” he said. “That is an oath to the Constitution. That is the oath that I kept that Keith Alexander and James Clapper did not.” …
Beginning in October 2012, he said, he brought his misgivings to two superiors in the NSA’s Technology Directorate and two more in the NSA Threat Operations Center’s regional base in Hawaii. For each of them, and 15 other co-workers, Snowden said he opened a data query tool called BOUNDLESSINFORMANT, which used color-coded “heat maps” to depict the volume of data ingested by NSA taps.
His colleagues were often “astonished to learn we are collecting more in the United States on Americans than we are on Russians in Russia,” he said. Many of them were troubled, he said, and several said they did not want to know any more.
“I asked these people, ‘What do you think the public would do if this was on the front page?’ ” he said. He noted that critics have accused him of bypassing internal channels of dissent. “How is that not reporting it? How is that not raising it?” …
By last December, Snowden was contacting reporters, although he had not yet passed along any classified information. He continued to give his colleagues the “front-page test”, he said, until April. …
Just before releasing the documents this spring, Snowden made a final review of the risks. He had overcome what he described at the time as a “selfish fear” of the consequences for himself.
“I said to you the only fear [left] is apathy — that people won’t care, that they won’t want change.” …
The documents leaked by Snowden compelled attention because they revealed to Americans a history they did not know they had. …
With assistance from private communications firms, the NSA had learned to capture enormous flows of data at the speed of light from fiber-optic cables that carried Internet and telephone traffic over continents and under seas. According to one document in Snowden’s cache, the agency’s Special Source Operations group, which as early as 2006 was said to be ingesting “one Library of Congress every 14.4 seconds”, had an official seal that might have been parody: an eagle with all the world’s cables in its grasp.
Each year, NSA systems collected hundreds of millions of e-mail address books, hundreds of billions of cellphone location records and trillions of domestic call logs.
Most of that data, by definition and intent, belonged to ordinary people suspected of nothing. But vast new storage capacity and processing tools enabled the NSA to use the information to map human relationships on a planetary scale. Only this way, its leadership believed, could the NSA reach beyond its universe of known intelligence targets.
In the view of the NSA, signals intelligence, or electronic eavesdropping, was a matter of life and death, “without which America would cease to exist as we know it”, according to an internal presentation in the first week of October 2001, as the agency ramped up its response to the al-Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
With stakes such as those, there was no capability the NSA believed it should leave on the table. The agency followed orders from President George W. Bush to begin domestic collection without authority from Congress and the courts. When the NSA won those authorities later, some of them under secret interpretations of laws passed by Congress between 2007 and 2012, the Obama administration went further still. …
In the Moscow interview, Snowden said, “What the government wants is something they never had before,” adding: “They want total awareness. The question is, is that something we should be allowing?”
Snowden likened the NSA’s powers to those used by British authorities in Colonial America, when “general warrants” allowed for anyone to be searched. The FISA court, Snowden said, “is authorizing general warrants for the entire country’s metadata.”
“The last time that happened, we fought a war over it,” he said.
Technology, of course, has enabled a great deal of consumer surveillance by private companies, as well. The difference with the NSA’s possession of the data, Snowden said, is that government has the power to take away life or freedom.
At the NSA, he said, “there are people in the office who joke about, ‘We put warheads on foreheads.’ Twitter doesn’t put warheads on foreheads.”
Privacy, as Snowden sees it, is a universal right, applicable to American and foreign surveillance alike.
“I don’t care whether you’re the pope or Osama bin Laden,” he said. “As long as there’s an individualized, articulable, probable cause for targeting these people as legitimate foreign intelligence, that’s fine. I don’t think it’s imposing a ridiculous burden by asking for probable cause. …
When it comes to spying on allies, by Snowden’s lights, the news is not always about the target.
“It’s the deception of the government that’s revealed,” Snowden said, noting that the Obama administration offered false public assurances after the initial reports about NSA surveillance in Germany. “The U.S. government said: ‘We follow German laws in Germany. We never target German citizens.’ And then the story comes out and it’s: ‘What are you talking about? You’re spying on the chancellor.’ You just lied to the entire country, in front of Congress.” …
In hope of keeping focus on the NSA, Snowden has ignored attacks on himself.
“Let them say what they want,” he said. “It’s not about me.”
Former NSA and CIA director Michael V. Hayden predicted that Snowden will waste away in Moscow as an alcoholic, like other “defectors.” To this, Snowden shrugged. He does not drink at all. Never has.
But Snowden knows his presence here is easy ammunition for critics. He did not choose refuge in Moscow as a final destination. He said that once the U.S. government voided his passport as he tried to change planes en route to Latin America, he had no other choice. … “I have no relationship with the Russian government. I have not entered into any agreements with them.”
“If I defected at all,” Snowden said, “I defected from the government to the public.”
We don’t think it likely that the NSA will stop its surveillance of the whole earth and your and our emails. It’s a power beyond the wildest dreams of all governments ever to be able to know everything about everyone, and now that it has become possible, and is being used, it will never be given up. No court judgment will stop it. No act of Congress. Preventing terrorist attacks is the excuse. Power is the reason.
At least we know about it now. For that we have to thank Edward Snowden.
Proof that Saudi Arabia sponsored 9/11 is still being covered-up.
Paul Sperry (of the Hoover Institution) reports and comments in the New York Post:
After the 9/11 attacks, the public was told al Qaeda acted alone, with no state sponsors.
But the White House never let it see an entire section of Congress’s investigative report on 9/11 dealing with “specific sources of foreign support” for the 19 hijackers, 15 of whom were Saudi nationals.
It was kept secret and remains so today.
President Bush inexplicably censored 28 full pages of the 800-page report. Text isn’t just blacked-out here and there in this critical-yet-missing middle section. The pages are completely blank, except for dotted lines where an estimated 7,200 words once stood. …
A pair of lawmakers who recently read the redacted portion say they are “absolutely shocked” at the level of foreign state involvement in the attacks.
Reps. Walter Jones (R-NC) and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) can’t reveal the nation identified by it without violating federal law. So they’ve proposed Congress pass a resolution asking President Obama to declassify the entire 2002 report, “Joint Inquiry Into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001″.
Some information already has leaked from the classified section, which is based on both CIA and FBI documents, and it points back to Saudi Arabia, a presumed ally.
The Saudis deny any role in 9/11, butthe CIA in one memo reportedly found “incontrovertible evidence” that Saudi government officials — not just wealthy Saudi hardliners, but high-level diplomats and intelligence officers employed by the kingdom — helped the hijackers both financially and logistically. The intelligence files cited in the report directly implicate the Saudi embassy in Washington and consulate in Los Angeles in the attacks, making 9/11 not just an act of terrorism, but an act of war.
The findings, if confirmed, would back up open-source reporting showing the hijackers had, at a minimum, ties to several Saudi officials and agents while they were preparing for their attacks inside the United States. In fact, they got help from Saudi VIPs from coast to coast:
LOS ANGELES: Saudi consulate official Fahad al-Thumairy allegedly arranged for an advance team to receive two of the Saudi hijackers — Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi — as they arrived at LAX in 2000. One of the advance men, Omar al-Bayoumi, a suspected Saudi intelligence agent, left the LA consulate and met the hijackers at a local restaurant. (Bayoumi left the United States two months before the attacks, while Thumairy was deported back to Saudi Arabia after 9/11.)
SAN DIEGO: Bayoumi and another suspected Saudi agent, Osama Bassnan, set up essentially a forward operating base in San Diego for the hijackers after leaving LA. They were provided rooms, rent and phones, as well as private meetings with an American al Qaeda cleric who would later become notorious, Anwar al-Awlaki, at a Saudi-funded mosque he ran in a nearby suburb. They were also feted at a welcoming party. (Bassnan also fled the United States just before the attacks.)
WASHINGTON: Then-Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar and his wife sent checks totaling some $130,000 to Bassnan while he was handling the hijackers. Though the Bandars claim the checks were “welfare” for Bassnan’s supposedly ill wife, the money nonetheless made its way into the hijackers’ hands.
Other al Qaeda funding was traced back to Bandar and his embassy — so much so that by 2004 Riggs Bank of Washington had dropped the Saudis as a client.
The next year, as a number of embassy employees popped up in terror probes, Riyadh recalled Bandar.
“Our investigations contributed to the ambassador’s departure,” an investigator who worked with the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Washington told me, though Bandar says he left for “personal reasons”.
FALLS CHURCH, VA.: In 2001, Awlaki and the San Diego hijackers turned up together again — this time at the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center, a Pentagon-area mosque built with funds from the Saudi Embassy. Awlaki was recruited 3,000 miles away to head the mosque. As its imam, Awlaki helped the hijackers, who showed up at his doorstep as if on cue. He tasked a handler to help them acquire apartments and IDs before they attacked the Pentagon.
Awlaki worked closely with the Saudi Embassy. He lectured at a Saudi Islamic think tank in Merrifield, Va., chaired by Bandar. Saudi travel itinerary documents I’ve obtained show he also served as the official imam on Saudi Embassy-sponsored trips to Mecca and tours of Saudi holy sites.
Most suspiciously, though, Awlaki fled the United States on a Saudi jet about a year after 9/11. …
The Saudi-sponsored cleric was briefly detained at JFK before being released into the custody of a “Saudi representative”. A federal warrant for Awlaki’s arrest had mysteriously been withdrawn the previous day. …
HERNDON, VA.: On the eve of the attacks, top Saudi government official Saleh Hussayen checked into the same Marriott Residence Inn near Dulles Airport as three of the Saudi hijackers who targeted the Pentagon. Hussayen had left a nearby hotel to move into the hijackers’ hotel. Did he meet with them? The FBI never found out. They let him go after he “feigned a seizure”, one agent recalled. (Hussayen’s name doesn’t appear in the separate 9/11 Commission Report, which clears the Saudis.)
SARASOTA, FLA.: 9/11 ringleader Mohamed Atta and other hijackers visited a home owned by Esam Ghazzawi, a Saudi adviser to the nephew of King Fahd. FBI agents investigating the connection in 2002 found that visitor logs for the gated community and photos of license tags matched vehicles driven by the hijackers. Just two weeks before the 9/11 attacks, the Saudi luxury home was abandoned. Three cars, including a new Chrysler PT Cruiser, were left in the driveway. Inside, opulent furniture was untouched.
Democrat Bob Graham, the former Florida senator who chaired the Joint Inquiry, has asked the FBI for the Sarasota case files, but can’t get a single, even heavily redacted, page released. He says it’s a “coverup”.
Is the federal government protecting the Saudis? Case agents tell me they were repeatedly called off pursuing 9/11 leads back to the Saudi Embassy, which had curious sway over White House and FBI responses to the attacks.
Just days after Bush met with the Saudi ambassador in the White House, the FBI evacuated from the United States dozens of Saudi officials, as well as Osama bin Laden family members. Bandar made the request for escorts directly to FBI headquarters on Sept. 13, 2001 — just hours after he met with the president. The two old family friends shared cigars on the Truman Balcony while discussing the attacks. …
Astonishing as [it] sounds, few lawmakers in fact have bothered to read the classified section of arguably the most important investigation in US history. …
But it’s critical they take the time to read it and pressure the White House to let all Americans read it. …
As the frustrated Joint Inquiry authors warned, in an overlooked addendum to their heavily redacted 2002 report, “State-sponsored terrorism substantially increases the likelihood of successful and more lethal attacks within the United States”.
Their findings must be released, even if they forever change US-Saudi relations. …
Members of Congress reluctant to read the full report ought to remember that the 9/11 assault missed its fourth target: them.
(Hat-tip Roger in Florida)
For the first time in the 1,000-day civil war, the Americans find themselves in greater sympathy with Russia, Iran, Assad and Hizballah than the rebel cause.
According to DebkaFile, Bashar Assad is winning the civil war (or uprising against his dictatorship). So the Obama administration has stopped supporting the rebels to the extent, and in whatever way they ever did, and is now romancing Bashar Assad. The new policy follows naturally from the exciting new love-in Obama is having with the Shia tyrants of Iran.
The conquest Sunday, Dec. 8, of Nabuk in the Qalamoun Mountains on the Syrian-Lebanese border is a signal strategic breakthrough for Bashar Assad’s army, climaxing a row of battleground successes that have cast the rebel forces into deep disarray. Nabuk fell after a two-week siege by the combined forces of Syria, Hizballah, Iraqi Shiite units and the Iranian Al Qods Brigades. The Qalamoun range which separates central Syria from central Lebanon is at their mercy.
Assad and his allies, Hizballah’s Hassan Nasrallah and Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, can chalk up four major war gains:
1. The highway from Damascus to Syria’s two port towns, Latakia and Tartus on the Mediterranean coast, is now open through the wayside town of Homs.
2. The last remaining rebel supply routes from Lebanon are cut off. Syrian rebels can no longer use Lebanon as a supply base for reinforcements and new recruits or as a destination for their casualties to receive treatment.
3. The Damascus-Beirut highway is now under Hizballah control, providing its Beirut headquarters vitally direct access to the forces posted to Damascus, and easing liaison and communications among Iranian, Syrian and Hizballah military units in the field.
4. Pushing the rebels out of their Qalamoun strongholds was the last step before loosening their two-year grip on the eastern suburbs of Damascus. Under relentless Syrian army siege, many rebel commanders holding on to those suburbs are crossing the lines and handing sectors over to Syrian army officers.
The Assad regime has reached a stage in the civil war at which the rebels no longer pose a military threat to his hold on power and have lost the capacity for more more than terrorist attacks or sporadic mortar shelling.
The Syrian rebel movement has lost its coherence as a fighting force. In desperation, they are releasing a stream of false claims of successes and unfounded accusations that Assad has reverted to chemical warfare. …
Since the only anti-Assad forces still in fighting shape are the two Al Qaeda affiliates, Jabhat al Nusra and the Iraqi branch, Washington is turning its back on the Syrian rebel movement as a whole and instead [is] ready to talk indirectly to Syrian army elements loyal to Assad as well as Hizballah. …
Indeed, in consideration of Hizballah’s military kudos and rising political clout in Beirut, the Obama administration has opened up a back channel to its leaders, mostly through British diplomats.
It turns out that the same coalition which contrived the nuclear deal in Geneva on Nov. 24 – the US, Russia and Iran – is going into action again on the Syrian issue with a favored spot for Iran’s Lebanese Shiite pawn [Hizballah].
We think this DebkaFile report is likely to be true in its main thrust: that US policy has changed, and America is now in alliance with Russia and Iran and in negotiation with one of the world’s most savage terrorist organizations.
And if it is true, it is an enormity – an extreme wrong.
It is not that the rebels are any better than Assad. Both sides are evil. Both sides seem to be peopled by vicious murdering torturing cannibals. Neither should be supported. But Assad is Iran’s client. Hizballah is Iran’s creation. What matters here is the colossal boost to Iranian power. The US has conceded the territory to the mullahs.
Under a pretense by their traitorous leaders that it is better to negotiate than risk a war with belligerent enemies, the American people are being led into capitulation.
Iran will be nuclear armed. Hizballah can claim legitimacy, and the cost to Lebanon and Israel is dreadful to think of. Russia’s power and prestige is being enhanced with each disastrous move Obama makes in the region of the Middle East.
And the US is no longer the protector of the free world. The erstwhile free world no longer has a protector.
In addition to allowing Iran to become a nuclear power, Obama is making the mullahs secret promises of power and glory, if this report from DebkaFile is true:
President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry secretly agreed to elevate Iran to the status of seventh world power, as a strong inducement for signing the interim nuclear accord in Geneva Sunday, Nov. 24 …
While Iran has always demanded respect and equal standing as a regional power, never in their wildest dreams had the ayatollahs expected to be granted big power standing, with an authoritative role recognized by the six big powers for addressing issues in a broad region spanning the Persian Gulf, the Middle East and Western Asia, including Afghanistan. …
President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif presented this awesome achievement Monday to their hard-line critics at home, who accused them of giving away too much in terms of Iran’s nuclear program for the sake of a deal with the West.
We come home from Geneva with recognition as a world power, they replied.
The small print of Iran’s new rating is not yet in place, but Western sources familiar with the new US-Iranian understandings say they would not be surprised to find President Rouhani sitting in future summits on the same side of the table as the six powers who faced Iran in the Geneva negotiations. Zarif would also attend future foreign ministers’ meetings as an world-class equal.
Jerusalem and Riyadh are aghast at this development. Our Jerusalem sources report that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has kept it back from his cabinet colleagues, has been holding back-to-back confidential consultations with the heads of Israel’s security and intelligence services and the high IDF command to decide how to handle Obama’s sudden replacement of Israel with Iran as America’s No. 1 ally in the region.
Most immediately, a hostile Iran with a role in the ongoing US-sponsored negotiations with the Palestinians does not bear thinking of.
The Saudi royal house is deep in similarly anxious and angry discussions.
The report states that -
Israel and Saudi Arabia both find Iran’s promotion to world status more shocking and deleterious even than its pretensions to a nuclear weapon. Neither had imagined the Obama administration capable of an about face so extreme.
The about face is not conjecture – it has happened.
It has happened because it seems unthinkable to most people that Obama would destroy the West if he could. However naive, incompetent, ignorant, deceitful he is, the very fact that no one would believe that that is what he is hoping to do, has made it possible for him to take such steps as this giant one in Geneva. Iran is obviously more likely to advance Islamic world-power than Saudi Arabia or the Muslim Brotherhood. So with Iran he has negotiated the great betrayal.
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.