Yet another “deadline” for the concluding of a deal with Iran passes today, so a new “deadline” will be set, and that one too will pass, and so another …
Or if a deal is made -
The impending deal is an embarrassment: the world’s greatest power prostrate before the world’s most patently expansionist, terror-sponsoring, anti-American theocracy.
So Stephen Hayes writes at the Weekly Standard.
He’s right, of course. It is an embarrassment. But what matters a lot more is that it will be a catastrophe. A huge unprecedented historic catastrophe.
It will ensure that Iran has nuclear weapons and that none of the major powers will do a thing about it.
The article goes on:
One week before the June 30 deadline for a nuclear deal with Iran, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made a series of demands about the final terms. Among them: He called for an immediate end to all United Nations Security Council and U.S. economic sanctions on Iran; he said Iranian military sites would not be subject to international inspections; he declared that Iran would not abide a long-term freeze on nuclear research; and he ruled out interviews with individuals associated with Iran’s nuclear program as part of any enforcement plan.
The New York Times headline read “Iran’s Supreme Leader, Khamenei, Seems to Pull Back on Nuclear Talks.” That’s one explanation. The more likely one: Khamenei understands that Barack Obama is desperate for this deal and will agree to just about anything to make it a reality. In private remarks caught on tape, top White House foreign policy adviser Ben Rhodes likened the Iran deal to Obamacare in its importance to the administration. And on April 2, the president held a press conference to celebrate the preliminary “historic understanding with Iran” that, he said, was “a good deal, a deal that meets our core objectives.”
But the impending deal is not a good one. It legitimizes a rogue state, shifts regional power to the world’s most aggressive state sponsor of terror, strengthens the mullahs’ hold on power, and guides Iran to nuclear threshold status. Those are not our “core objectives.” They are Iran’s.
A steady stream of news reports in the weeks before the deadline has brought into sharp focus the extent of the administration’s capitulation. Among the most disturbing new developments: the administration’s decision to offer relief on sanctions not directly related to Iran’s nuclear program and its abandonment of hard requirements that Iran disclose previous nuclear activity, without which the international community cannot establish a baseline for future inspections.
From the beginning of the talks, the Obama administration has chosen to “decouple” negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program from the many other troubling aspects of Tehran’s behavior. It was a bit of self-deception that allowed the United States and its negotiating partners to pretend that concerns about the Iranian regime’s possessing nuclear weapons had everything to do with nuclear weapons and nothing at all to do with the nature of the Iranian regime; it was an approach that treated Iran as if it were, say, Luxembourg. The Obama administration simply set aside Iran’s targeting of Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, its brutal repression of internal dissent, its provision of safe haven and operational freedom for al Qaeda leadership, and its support for terrorists sowing discord throughout the region and beyond.
Now we learn that the administration is effectively ending this decision to “decouple” nuclear talks from broader regime behavior, not in order to hold Iran to account for its many offenses but as something of a reward for its supporting a nuclear deal. It is a swift and stunning reversal. …
Likewise, the U.S. capitulation on Iranian disclosure of previous nuclear activity is both hasty and alarming. As recently as April, Secretary of State John Kerry suggested that Iranian disclosure of past activity was a red line for U.S. negotiators. “They have to do it. It will be done. If there’s going to be a deal, it will be done. It will be part of a final agreement. It has to be.” But on June 16, Kerry cast aside those demands. “We’re not fixated on Iran specifically accounting for what they did at one point in time or another. We know what they did. We have no doubt. We have absolute knowledge with respect to the certain military activities they were engaged in. What we’re concerned about is going forward.”
We can’t yet know all the concessions the United States has made in order to secure a deal, but the list of those that are known is long and embarrassing.
Iran has conceded and will concede nothing. The US administration concedes everything.
On decoupling nuclear negotiations and sanctions relief on nonnuclear items
Then: “We have made very clear that the nuclear negotiations are focused exclusively on the nuclear issue and do not include discussions of regional issues.”
March 10, 2015, Bernadette Meehan, National Security Council spokesman,
email to The Weekly Standard
“Other American sanctions on Iran for its support of terrorism, its human rights abuses, its ballistic missile program, will continue to be fully enforced.”
April 2, 2015, Barack Obama, statement in the Rose Garden
“Iran knows that our array of sanctions focused on its efforts to support terrorism and destabilize the region will continue after any nuclear agreement.”
June 7, 2015, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, remarks to Jerusalem Post conference, New York City
Now: “Administration officials say they’re examining a range of options that include suspending both nuclear and some non-nuclear sanctions.”
June 9, 2015, Associated Press
On the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program and disclosure of past activities
Then: “They have to do it. It will be done. If there’s going to be a deal, it will be done. . . . It will be part of a final agreement. It has to be.”
April 8, 2015, Secretary of State John Kerry interview with The NewsHour
“The set of understandings also includes an acknowledgment by Iran that it must address all United Nations Security Council resolutions—which Iran has long claimed are illegal—as well as past and present issues with Iran’s nuclear program that have been identified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This would include resolution of questions concerning the possible military dimension of Iran’s nuclear program, including Iran’s activities at Parchin.”
November 23, 2013, White House fact sheet, First Step: Understandings Regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program
Now: “World powers are prepared to accept a nuclear agreement with Iran that doesn’t immediately answer questions about past atomic weapons work. . . . Instead of resolving such questions this month, officials said the U.S. and its negotiating partners are working on a list of future commitments Iran must fulfill.”
June 11, 2015, Associated Press
“We’re not fixated on Iran specifically accounting for what they did at one point in time or another. We know what they did. We have no doubt. We have absolute knowledge with respect to the certain military activities they were engaged in. What we’re concerned about is going forward.”
June 24, 2015, Secretary of State John Kerry, remarks at a press availability
On shuttering the secret nuclear facility at Fordo
Then: The Obama administration and its partners are “demanding the immediate closing and ultimate dismantling” of the nuclear facilities at Fordo.
April 7, 2012, New York Times
“We know they don’t need to have an underground, fortified facility like Fordo in order to have a peaceful program.”
December 6, 2013, Barack Obama, remarks at the Saban Forum
Now: “Under the preliminary accord, Fordo would become a research center, but not for any element that could potentially be used in nuclear weapons.”
April 22, 2015, New York Times
“The 1044 centrifuges [at Fordo] designated only for non-nuclear enrichment will remain installed, so they could potentially be reconverted to enriching uranium in a short time regardless of technical or monitoring arrangements.”
June 17, 2015, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Olli Heinonen, former IAEA deputy director-general for safeguards, and Simon Henderson, director
of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at WINEP
A draft copy of the final agreement allows Fordo to remain open, “saying it will be used for isotope production instead of uranium enrichment.”
June 24, 2015, Associated Press
On suspension of enrichment
Then: “Our position is clear: Iran must live up to its international obligations, including full suspension of uranium enrichment as required by multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions.”
April 7, 2012, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor, New York Times
Now: “Agreement on Iran’s uranium enrichment program could signal a breakthrough for a larger deal aimed at containing the Islamic Republic’s nuclear activities.” The tentative deal imposes “limits on the number of centrifuges Iran can operate to enrich uranium” but allows Iran to continue enrichment.
March 19, 2015, Associated Press
On ballistic missile development
Then: Iran’s ballistic missile program “is indeed-something that has to be addressed as part of a comprehensive agreement.”
February 4, 2014, Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
“They have to deal with matters related to their ballistic missile program that are included in the United Nations Security Council resolution that is part of, explicitly, according to the Joint Plan of Action, the comprehensive resolution negotiation.”
February 18, 2014, White House spokesman Jay Carney, White House press briefing
Now: “We must address long-range ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. So, it’s not about ballistic missiles per se. It’s about when a missile is combined with a nuclear warhead.”
July 29, 2014, Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee
These specific concessions matter. So do the ones we’ll learn about in coming days. Together they make the path to an Iranian nuclear weapon easier and the prospect of preventing one ever more remote.
But we don’t have to wait until Iran’s first nuclear test to see the damage done by the negotiations. Last week, the New York Times reported that the administration resisted confronting China on its authorship of the hacking of sensitive U.S. personnel information partly out of concern about China’s role as a negotiating partner on the Iran deal.
No doubt the Iran negotiations contributed to Obama’s reluctance to confront Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine. And to Obama’s tacit acceptance of continued Iranian support for the Taliban and al Qaeda; his passivity as he watched the unfolding slaughter in Syria; his acquiescence in [Iran’s] expansive role in Syria, Iraq, and beyond; and his refusal to provide arms directly to the Kurds and to the Sunnis.
Obama is begging Iran to sign a deal. He is paying Iran to sign a deal. He is holding Secretary of State John Kerry’s nose to the conference table until Iran signs a deal. Any deal. At any cost.
What will the representatives of the American people in Congress do about it?
Obama, through his lackey John Kerry, continues to woo the hellish regime of the Iranian Ayatollahs. He longs for a “deal” at any cost.
He is doing everything possible to help them become a nuclear-armed power.
This really is, without exaggeration, the worst threat, the gravest danger, the world as a whole has ever faced. The threat of the imposition of world control by Communist Russia was grave, but the Russians were not willing to die in massive numbers when a retaliation to their attack descended on them. The Muslim Iranians “love death”, and reckon that Muslims would be happy to die and go to their brothel in the sky; and that, however heavy the retaliation, there would still be a lot of Muslims left alive to dominate – perhaps exclusively occupy – this world.
Either Obama does not realize that he is putting the world in extremest danger, or he must want what the Ayatollahs want.
What is that? The destruction of Israel, certainly,and he’s cool with that. But he cannot believe that Israel is the Iranians’ only target. They continue to scream “Death to America!” loud and clear while the charade of “negotiations” for the “deal” is in progress. He must be cool with that too. Do his P5+1 claques feel the same way? Seems so.
Their latest move is to HELP Iran get “the bomb”.
George Jahn writes at AP:
Western powers are offering Tehran high-tech reactors under a proposed nuclear agreement, a confidential document says, but a defiant speech by Iran’s supreme leader less than a week before a negotiating deadline casts doubt on whether he’s willing to make the necessary concessions to seal a deal. …
Iran’s top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Tuesday rejected a long-term freeze on nuclear research and supported the idea of barring international inspectors from military sites. Khamenei, in comments broadcast on Iranian state television, also said Iran would sign a final deal only if all economic sanctions on the country were first lifted. The preliminary deal calls for sanctions to be lifted gradually after an agreement is finalized.
Secretary of State John Kerry dismissed Khamenei’s remarks, saying Wednesday they were [only] for “domestic political consumption”. …
In another sign the Islamic Republic may be toughening its stance, Iran’s Guardian Council on Wednesday enacted legislation banning access to military sites and scientists, according to state TV. …
The West has held out the prospect of providing Iran peaceful nuclear technology in the nearly decade-long effort to reduce Tehran’s ability to make nuclear weapons. But the scope of the help now being offered in the draft displeases U.S. congressional critics who say Washington is giving away too much.
“These continued concessions only emboldened Iran’s leaders to press for more,” Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement. “The way these negotiations are moving, it is increasingly difficult to see the administration striking a meaningful, lasting agreement that would be acceptable to Congress.” …
[A draft annex] entitled Civil Nuclear Cooperation, promises to supply Iran with light-water nuclear reactors instead of its nearly completed heavy-water facility at Arak, which could produce enough plutonium for several bombs a year if completed as planned. …
Outlining plans to modify that heavy-water reactor, the draft, dated June 19, offers to “establish an international partnership” to rebuild it into a less proliferation-prone facility while leaving Iran in “the leadership role as the project owner and manager.”
The eight-page draft also promises “arrangements for the assured supply and removal of nuclear fuel for each reactor provided,” and offers help in the “construction and effective operation” of the reactors and related hardware. It offers cooperation with Iran in the fields of nuclear safety, nuclear medicine, research, nuclear waste removal and other peaceful applications. …
[But] because isotope production uses the same technology as enrichment and can be quickly re-engineered, the compromise has been criticized by congressional opponents of the proposed deal.
Scott Johnson comments at PowerLine:
This is no longer a deal to stop the Iranian nuclear program. It’s a deal to let the Iranians perfect their nuclear program with international assistance and under international protection. …
Some country in the P5+1 will be helping the Iranians develop next-generation centrifuges in a facility impenetrable to American and Israeli bombs. Conversely, any country that wants to sabotage that development will be unable to do so, because the program will be protected and maintained by a major power.
As the centrifuges are being developed they’ll be spinning non-nuclear elements, but once they’re perfected the Iranians will be able to use them to enrich uranium. The international community will literally be investing in helping Iran achieve a zero breakout.
A couple of obvious points. First, it means the P5+1 will be actively providing the Iranians with the tools to break out while a deal is in place. The Iranians will already have 300kg of 3.67% uranium on hand, and they’ll be able to scale up production as they need because the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] lets them keep 5,000 centrifuges enriching uranium at Natanz and lets them keep another 10,000 centrifuges in storage available to be installed. They can bring low enriched material to Fordow and quickly enrich it to weapons-grade levels in the next-generation centrifuges they’ll have developed with P5+1 assistance. Second – again – it means that the P5+1 will be actively ensuring that Iran will have the technology to go nuclear at will the instant the deal expires. The technology the Iranians learn to develop at Fordow will be applied on a mass scale.
To that end, the draft, entitled Civil Nuclear Cooperation, promises to supply Iran with light-water nuclear reactors instead of its nearly completed heavy-water facility at Arak … [and] offers to “establish an international partnership” to rebuild it into a less proliferation-prone facility while leaving Iran in “the leadership role as the project owner and manager.”
Light-water reactors are significantly more proliferation-resistant than heavy-water reactors (in fact there’s no reason to build a heavy water reactor – of the type that the Iranians have been working on – unless you want to produce plutonium for a nuclear weapon). But even LWRs are not proliferation proof, and a plutonium bomb isn’t the only concern.
Imagine that 15 years from now the Iranians have built a dozen LWRs with help from a P5+1 nation. One concern is indeed that they’ll kick out inspectors, keep the spent fuel, and start reprocessing on the way to creating a plutonium bomb. But a more subtle concern is that they will use the existence of the LWRs as a pretext for industrial-scale uranium enrichment – because they’ll say they need the uranium fuel for their plutonium plants – which can serve as a cover for breaking out with a uranium bomb. The P5+1 would be actively providing the Iranians with diplomatic leverage to use against the P5+1 in the future.
Iran will concede nothing. Obama will concede everything.
The most reliable and accurate reporter of what is going on at the US-Iranian talks to “prevent” Iran becoming a nuclear power is Omri Ceren. Read his reports here.
This is what went on today when an AP reporter questioned the State Department about the latest news from the scene of -
The Great Humiliation of the US at the Hands of the Mullahs of Iran
The administration is trying to move the goalpost from “the Iranians have to resolve past issues” to “the Iranians have to provide the access that could be used to resolve past issues”. And instead of trying to sell the collapse as necessary they’re trying to insist that their stance has never changed. State Department Press Office Director Jeff Rathke tried to convince the State Department press corps at today’s briefing that the Obama administration never promised lawmakers and journalists that the Iranians would have to resolve the PMD issue before they got sanctions relief.
What followed was a 10 minute back-and-forth …
The videos are here – http://www.c-span.org/video/?c4540775/state-dept-vs-associated-press-iran-disclosure-12 – and here – http://www.c-span.org/video/?c4540777/state-dept-vs-associated-press-iran-disclosure-22. There are 2 parts because at first the discussion sort of ended with Rathke telling the Associated Press’s Matthew Lee that the administration has never changed its position, but then later Lee brought the conversation back to the topic and literally read Kerry’s PBS interview out loud off his phone.
LEE: But does your unwillingness to even characterize the –you know, where the talks are and that they’re at a difficult phase with 2-1/2 weeks left, does that extend to not commenting on various reports that have come out this week and the last about concessions that the P5+1 appear to be making to Iran in terms of both sanctions relief and on the PMD issue?
RATHKE: Well, I think we’ve spoken a bit to this yesterday. But on the PMD issue, you know, we’re — we’ve seen the reports that — I think that you’re referring to. You know, I think our position on this hasn’t changed. We’ve always made clear to the Iranians that they will have to reach agreement with the IAEA on providing the necessary access to address the concerns about the possible military dimensions of their program. And without that agreement, you know, we will not be able to move forward with sanctions relief. That’s been our position throughout these negotiations.
LEE: Right. But that means — that suggests that the actual questions don’t have to be answered and the concerns resolved in order to get the deal, correct?
RATHKE: Well, again…
LEE: They only have to agree to — at some point, whatever that might be, but at some point — after an agreement is reached, to, to deal with this. Is that correct?
RATHKE: Well, the point is that Iran has to provide the necessary access to the IAEA for them to address these concerns.
LEE: Yeah, but does that have to happen to get to a deal? Or can that happen after a deal?
RATHKE: Without — without — without agreement on the access, we will not — needed to resolve this, we won’t be able to reach, you know…
LEE: So if Iran agrees to give access to the sites that the IAEA wants, but doesn’t actually — but hasn’t actually given the access by June 30th, that’s still OK. Is that correct?
RATHKE: Well, there I think we’re getting into details that I will leave in the negotiating room. I think what I’m trying to convey, though, is that our — our position on the possible military dimensions issue and the necessity of Iran working with the IAEA, that position remains the same and hasn’t changed.
LEE: Is it — is it correct that there is a difference between me, if I’m Iran, saying to you: “OK, you can have access in 50 years,” and me as Iran saying, “OK, come on in now and give — and ask all the questions you want, and we’ll — we’ll address your concerns.” There’s a difference between those two, correct?
RATHKE: But the distinction you’re trying to say is 50 years versus zero?
LEE: Well, when does Iran have to give the access?
RATHKE: Again, those — those are details that…
LEE: Well, they shouldn’t be. They shoudn’t, I didn’t…
RATHKE: …in the negotiating room, and I’m not going to speak to those.
LEE: Well, but they shouldn’t be up for negotiation, because the whole idea in the JPOA was that Iran would resolve these issues in order to get to — in order to get to a comprehensive deal. And now you’re saying they don’t have to resolve them at all. All they have to do is say, “OK, at some point in the future, and we don’t know when that might be, that we’ll give access.” And giving access doesn’t mean that you’re — that the IAEA or yours — your concerns have been resolved or addressed.
RATHKE: Our position on this hasn’t changed, Matt. And you can go back and look at what we said at the time. But our position remains that, you know, it’s about the access that the IAEA needs to address our concerns.
LEE: But that’s not what it was at the beginning. At the beginning of this, it was they have to resolve the PMD issue to the satisfaction of the IAEA or there isn’t going to be a deal.
RATHKE: Again, I’m saying there’s not a — there’s not a difference.
LEE: Well, that’s a big difference between that and saying that they just have to agree to at some point down the road give access, and not even resolve the concerns.
RATHKE: Again, the…
LEE: There is a difference there. I mean, am I wrong?
RATHKE: Look, the focus is on addressing — addressing these concerns and that’s one of the issues that we’re dealing with in the negotiating room.
QUESTION: So would the IAEA first have to resolve this, well, would the deal have to include that the IAEA has resolved this already before we sign it. I mean, because if you sign the deal without that being resolved, isn’t it just something left open?
RATHKE: Again, I go back to what I said initially in response to Matt’s question. That it has consistently been our position that Iran has to reach agreement with the IAEA to provide the necessary access to address the concerns about the possible military dimensions of their program. That’s been our position throughout the negotiations. And without that agreement, you know, we’ll not be able to move forward with sanctions relief. And, you know, the — the discussions in the room, I will leave in the room. But that’s been our position and that’s — and it remains.
LEE: So it has never been the U.S. position that Iran must resolve the PMD concerns to get to an agreement. That’s never been — that’s never been a condition?
RATHKE: Look, if we want to go back and — and look at what was said at the time, again, our position on this.
LEE: I wish this wasn’t, I mean.
RATHKE: It remains the same.
LEE: It doesn’t remain the same, Jeff. It’s — it’s — it’s changed. I mean, Secretary Kerry even said that it had — they had to be resolved in order for there to be a deal.
RATHKE: You’re trying to draw a distinction between the words address and resolve.
LEE: No. You’re lowering it — you’re lowering the bar even further from address to just agree to give access to, which means, I mean, if they give access…
LEE: If they give access and the IAEA — your version now says that if they give access, the IAEA goes in and finds some huge secret bomb-making thing, that’s OK. Then — they’ve given access and that’s alright.
RATHKE: I think you were listening to what I said.
LEE: I was.
RATHKE: I said that Iran has to provide the necessary access to address the concerns about the possible military dimensions of their program.
LEE: But what if the concerns aren’t addressed? What if the access that they give doesn’t address the concerns? You’ve already got the deal, they’re already getting sanctions relief. Or are you saying that if the concerns aren’t addressed at some point down the road, then they’re not going to get the sanctions relief that they would’ve gotten for that
RATHKE: I’ve laid out our position clearly, Matt. It hasn’t changed.
LEE: Alright, well, I’m very confused, because it does seem that — that — that — that the goal posts seem to be moving.
RATHKE: No. The goal posts haven’t moved.
LEE: I want to go back to Iran and this whole PMD thing. All right. In April, the secretary was on PBS Newshour with Judy Woodruff. And she asked him: “The IAEA said for a long time that it wants Iran to disclose past PMDs. Iran is increasingly looking like it’s not prepared to do this. Is the U.S. prepared to accept that?”
Secretary Kerry: “No. They have to do it. It will be done. If there’s going to be a deal, it will be done.”
Woodruff: “Because it’s not there right now.”
Kerry: “It will be done.”
Woodruff: “So that information will be released before June 30th. It will be available?”
Secretary Kerry: “It will be part of the final agreement, it has to be.”
Now you’re saying that all they have to do is to agree to provide access at some date in the future to address that? That certainly — that’s…
RATHKE: No, that’s…
LEE: That’s a walk-back…
LEE: Or am I completely misunderstanding what the secretary said?
RATHKE: Our position remains, as Secretary Kerry outlined it, that — and, you know, as you quoted from the secretary’s…
LEE: He said there, in a response to a question, “Does Iran have to disclose its PMDs?”, in other words, do they have to address the — address the concerns or resolve the concerns, and he said, “Yes, before June 30th.” Was he wrong?
RATHKE: He said yes, that’s part of — that would have to be part of the — part of the deal.
LEE: And now you’re saying it doesn’t have to be part of the deal.
RATHKE: No, I’m not saying it’s part of the deal (sic), Matt. You’re trying to draw distinctions here where there aren’t distinctions. What Secretary Kerry in that — in that interview…
RATHKE: … is consistent with our policy…
LEE: There is no distinction between them having to open up and…
RATHKE: No, see — you’re offering your interpretation of what these words […] mean. What the secretary said in that interview, what I’ve said, and what our position’s been throughout these talks is entirely consistent.
The prevarication on the part of the State Department is so obvious and shameful that this exchange should be used as an example of “How to Slither Out of Answering a Question” in all Schools of Diplomacy from now on.
An Iranian Guards commander sends a message to Obama and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA):
“You would be wrong to dare to want to inspect our military centers and whoever does look at IRGC centers we will fill his throat with molten lead.” - Gholamhossein Qeybparavar, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps Commander, Fars Province, Iran.
And here’s a picture of a pathetic John Kerry (who has now put himself out of the insane negotiations with Iran by “breaking a leg”) bending over to persuade a skeptical, relaxed, unimpressed Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif that the US really loves Iran and wants nothing more than to make it happy (or something along those lines):
The US-Iran “agreement” … “can’t actually be an ‘agreement’ in the normal sense of the word [because] there is no prospect of Iran complying with it, and it’s quite possible that it will be proclaimed by the Obama administration regardless of whether Iran has even ostensibly ‘agreed’ to it .
So writes the splendid military-political analyst, Commander J. E. Dyer here.
The following also comes from her article:
Marie Harf is back, smacking down a mildly critical article in the New York Times about a looming problem with Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium (LEU at 3.5% purity), and the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) undertaken in November 2013 as the basis for continued negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program.
The gist of the concern is that the Iranian stockpile has grown 20% since the JPOA was agreed on. This is a problem partly because it indicates non-compliance with the JPOA, under which Iran’s stockpile was supposed to be frozen.
But it’s also a significant problem because it’s not clear how Iran will be able to comply, on a meaningful timetable, with the stockpile allowance under a long-term deal. Iran is supposed to get down to an LEU stockpile of 300 kg, and keep it there. When IAEA completed its most recent inspection, Iran had 8,714 kg of LEU stock in uranium hexafluoride gas form (the form in which it is fed into centrifuge arrays for enrichment).
Iran thus has to convert to other forms, and/or render non-weaponizable, 96% of her current LEU stockpile in order to comply with the terms of the proposed final “agreement”. Yet Iran has spent the last 18 months enlarging this stockpile, and has claimed technical difficulties with her plan to turn much of the stockpile into fuel elements for nuclear reactors.
An administration official reportedly acknowledged the issue:
“How are they going to do it?” one senior American official said recently when asked about the negotiations, details of which Mr. Kerry and his team are trying to keep confidential. “We’re not certain. It’s their problem, not ours. But it’s a problem.”
The Institute for Science and International Security, moreover, in its analysis of the latest IAEA report, repeated its warning from April 2015 that Iran still has a substantial stockpile of uranium hexafluoride, in oxide form, enriched to the higher 19.75% purity. Although it would require re-conversion to be enriched further as weapons-grade material, doing that would more than double Iran’s post-“agreement” stockpile of LEU.
The warning about these real problems came to a head with the NYT article on Monday. Reporters at the State Department’s daily briefing taxed Marie Harf with it; she described the State Department as “perplexed” by it, claiming that the article’s “main contentions are totally inaccurate”. But she proceeded to both misidentify and misstate one of these “main contentions” in her explanation:
“First, the notion in the story that western officials or U.S. officials involved were unaware of this issue or not understanding of what this entails is just absurd,” Harf said.
The article doesn’t say any such thing, so Harf is just arguing against a straw man here. Her other comments shed no additional light on the issue. She merely alludes to Iran’s “commitment” to reducing the LEU stockpile to 300 kg.
“What matters is that they [Iran] have committed already, and we said [it] publicly, to reducing their stockpile whenever this implemented 300 kilograms,” Harf said. “The notion that this is some big issue of concern of negotiation is more manufacturing a controversy than actual reality. Everyone who read that story this morning was totally perplexed by it.”
This comes from PowerLine, written and assembled by Scott Johnson:
Intelligence Squared US arranged one of its excellent debates on the upper West Side of Manhattan this week. The debate had as its subject the merits of President Obama’s pending arrangement with Iran. Addressing the proposition that the deal is good for the United States, the debate matched Philip Gordon and Amb. Thomas Pickering (for the affirmative) with Michael Doran and Mark Dubowitz (for the negative), with moderator John Donovan cracking the whip in impressive fashion. The audience votes on the proposition before and after the debate; the team that maximally moves the dial is declared the winner.
We think the case for the “agreement” or “arrangement” as made by Gordon and Pickering is extremely weak.
Doran and Dubowitz bring some strong arguments to the debate, and in our opinion win it overwhelmingly. But then, we start off thinking the “agreement” is merely a cover for Obama’s intention to let Iran become a nuclear-armed power.
What is unique about American foreign policy today is not just that it is rudderless, but how quickly and completely the 70-year postwar order seems to have disintegrated — and how little interest the American people take in the collapse, thanks to the administration’s apparent redeeming message, which translates, “It’s their misfortune and none of our own.”
We quote from an article by Victor Davis Hanson in the National Review.
He sets before us a picture of what passes for US foreign policy under Obama, and the disasters that have ensued from it – and continue to get worse.
ISIS took Ramadi last week. …
On a smaller scale, ISIS is doing to the surge cities of Iraq what Hitler did to his neighbors between 1939 and 1941, and what Putin is perhaps doing now on the periphery of Russia. In Ramadi, ISIS will soon do its accustomed thing of beheading and burning alive its captives, seeking some new macabre twist to sustain its Internet video audience.
We in the West trample the First Amendment and jail a video maker for posting a supposedly insensitive film about Islam; in contrast, jihadists post snuff movies of burnings and beheadings to global audiences.
We argue not about doing anything or saving anybody, but about whether it is inappropriate to call the macabre killers “jihadists”. When these seventh-century psychopaths tire of warring on people, they turn to attacking stones, seeking to ensure that there is not a vestige left of the Middle East’s once-glorious antiquities. I assume the ancient Sassanid and Roman imperial site at Palmyra will soon be looted and smashed. …
As long as we are not involved at the center of foreign affairs and there is no perceptible short-term danger to our security, few seem to care much that western North Africa is a no-man’s-land. Hillary Clinton’s “lead from behind” created a replay of Somalia in Libya.
The problem with Turkey’s Recep Erdogan is not that he is no longer Obama’s “special friend,” but that he was ever considered a friend at all, as he pressed forward with his plan to destroy Turkish democracy in the long march to theocracy.
There was never much American good will for the often duplicitous Gulf monarchies, so the general public does not seem to be worried that they are now spurned allies. That estrangement became possible because of growing U.S. self-sufficiency in oil and gas (thanks to fracking, which Obama largely opposed). Still, let us hope the Gulf States remain neutral rather than becoming enemies — given their financial clout and the availability of Pakistani bombs for Sunni petrodollars.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has it in for Israel. Why, no one quite knows, given that the Jewish state is the only democratic and liberal society in the Middle East. Perhaps it resembles the United States too closely, and thus earns the reflected hypercriticism that so many leftists cultivate for their own civilization.
Theocratic Iran has won more sympathy from the Obama administration. No neutral observer believes that the current policy of lifting sanctions and conducting negotiations will not lead to an Iranian bomb; it is hoped only that this will be unveiled on the watch of another president, who will be castigated as a warmonger if he is forced to preempt its rollout.
The current American foreign policy toward Iran is baffling. Does Obama see the theocracy as a valuable counterweight to the Sunni monarchies? Is it more authentic in the revolutionary sense than the geriatric hereditary kingdoms in the Gulf? Or is the inexplicable policy simply a matter of John Kerry’s gambit for a Nobel Peace Prize or some sort of Obama legacy in the eleventh hour, a retake of pulling all U.S. peacekeepers home from a once-quiet Iraq so that Obama could claim he had “ended the war in Iraq”?
Hillary Clinton has been talking up her successful tenure as secretary of state. But mysteriously she has never specified exactly where, when, or how her talents shone. What is she proud of? Reset with Russia? The Asian pivot to discourage Chinese bellicosity? The critical preliminary preparations for talks with Iran? The Libyan misadventure? Or perhaps we missed a new initiative to discourage North Korean aggression? Some new under-appreciated affinity with Israel and the Gulf monarchies? The routing of ISIS, thanks to Hillary’s plans? Shoring up free-market democracies in Latin America? Proving a model of transparency as secretary? Creating a brilliant new private-public synergy by combining the work of the State Department, the Clinton Foundation, and Bill’s lecturing –as evidenced by the Haitian renaissance and nation-building in Kazakhstan?
He also considers the administration’s domestic failures:
Meanwhile, no one seems to much care that between 2009 and 2017, we will have borrowed 8 trillion more dollars. Yet for all that stimulus, the U.S. economy still has staggering labor non-participation rates, flat GDP growth, and stagnant household income. As long as zero interest rates continue, the rich make lots of money in the stock market, and the debt can grow by $500 billion a year and still be serviced. Financial sobriety is now defined as higher taxes bringing in record revenues to service half-trillion-dollar annual additions to an $18 trillion debt.
The liberal approach to the underclass continues as it has been for the last 50 years: The elites support huge, unquestioned redistributionist entitlements for the inner city as penance for avoiding it. Minorities are left to run their own political affairs without much worry that their supposed benefactors live apartheid lives, protected by the proof of their caring. The public is left with the lie “Hands up, don’t shoot” as a construct that we will call true, because the made-up last-seconds gasps of Michael Brown perhaps should have happened that way. As an elite bookend, we have a Columbia coed toting around a mattress as proof of society’s insensitivity to sexual violence, which in her case both her university and the New York City police agree never occurred. In theory, perhaps it could have and thus all but did.
As far as scandals go, no one much cares any more about the implosion of the Veterans Administration. In the public’s defense, though, how does one keep straight the multitudinous scandals — Lois Lerner and the rogue IRS, the spying on and tapping of Associated Press journalists, the National Security Agency disclosures, Fast and Furious, the serial lying about needless deaths in Benghazi, the shenanigans at the General Services Administration, the collapse of sobriety at the Secret Service, the rebooting of air-traffic controllers’ eligibility to be adjudicated along racial and ethnic lines, and the deletions from Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server, which doubled as her government server.
Always there is the administration’s populist anthem of “You didn’t build that”; instead, you must have won the lottery from President Obama. If his economic programs are not working, there is always the finger pointing at those who are too well off. Michelle Obama lectured a couple of weeks ago on museum elitism and prior neglect of the inner city, in between recounting some slights and micro-aggressions that she has endured, presumably on jumbo-jet jaunts to Costa del Sol and Aspen. I think her point is that it is still worse to be rich, powerful, and black than, say, poor, ignored, and non-black. …
He concludes on a note of despondency not far off from despair:
The center of this culture is not holding. …
More Americans privately confess that American foreign policy is dangerously adrift. They would agree that the U.S. no longer has a southern border, and will have to spend decades and billions of dollars coping with millions of new illegal aliens.
Some Americans are starting to fear that the reckless borrowing under Obama will wreck the country if not stopped.
Racial tensions, all concede, are reaching dangerous levels, and Americans do not know what is scarier: inner-city relations between blacks and the police, the increasing anger of the black underclass at establishment America — or the even greater backlash at out-of-control violent black crime and the constant scapegoating and dog whistles of racism.
Whatever liberalism is, it is not working.
It’s certainly not “liberal” in the real meaning of the word. It is the opposite – dictatorial.
We call it Leftism. It has the Western world in its crushing grip.
Sunday May 18, the Islamic State (IS/ISIS/ISIL) seized Ramadi, capital of Anwar province in Iraq. The Iraqi forces that had been weakly defending the city, fled along with many civilians – some 8,000 in all. About 500 people, many of them civilians, were killed immediately by the invaders. Newsmax reports: “Bodies, some burned, littered the city’s streets … Online video showed Humvees, trucks and other equipment speeding out of Ramadi, with soldiers desperate to reach safety gripping onto their sides.”
In 2008, Anbar Province – of which Ramadi is the capital – was taken from Saddam Hussein’s forces during Operation Iraqi Freedom. But victory came at a high price: 1,335 U.S. soldiers were killed, and another 8,205 soldiers were wounded and maimed.
All for nothing.
Obama pulled all US troops out of Iraq in 2011. And the Islamic State has come in.
But Obama’s press secretary says the policy towards the Islamic State and Iraq is a success.
This exchange is between ABC’s Jon Karl and a thoroughly dishonest Josh Earnest.
Q Now, on the overall track record of military operations of the President’s strategy on this, you said we’ve seen periods of progress and success. Would you say that overall, this strategy has been a success?
EARNEST: Well, Jon, yes. Overall, yes. It doesn’t mean that there haven’t been areas of setback, as we saw in Ramadi.
Q I mean, is exporting terror to Libya, taking over the capital of Iraq’s largest province — this is overall success?
EARNEST: What we’ve also seen is we’ve also seen a coalition of 60 nations both in the region and around the world join the United States in this fight. We’ve seen a new Prime Minister take office in Iraq and unite that country and deploy a multi-sectarian security force against ISIL that has succeeded in liberating important areas of Diyala and Babil and Nineveh and the Kirkuk Provinces. We’ve seen important Iraqi security force gains in Tikrit and Ramadi. [!] We’ve also seen strategic areas like Sinjar Mountain and Mosul Dam where Iraqi security forces have emerged victorious. So we have seen a lot of success. But we’ve also seen significant periods of setback. And that’s part of what a military conflict is going to be, particularly when it’s going to be a long-term proposition like this one.
For the US, the fall of Ramadi is a failure and a loss, and Josh Ernest is lying about it. The new Prime Minister of Iraq has not united the country. The pathetic charade of “democracy” in that benighted land deceives no one.
But for Obama himself, the loss, the chaos, the slaughter, the destruction is a success.
His foreign policy – the advancement of Islam – is succeeding, perhaps even beyond his own wildest dreams, in Iraq, Afghanistan, and above all in Iran.
Nearly a hundred years ago, the Ottoman Empire was brought to an end when the German-Turkish alliance was defeated in the First World War. Its former territories in the Middle East became independent states or temporary mandates of European powers.
Efraim Karsh, reviewing a new book* on the subject, corrects errors of fact on which its author relies – and which have been all too generally accepted.
The corrections are important, so we reproduce the entire article:
A century after the catastrophic blunder that led to the destruction of the then longest-surviving empire on earth, culpability is still ascribed to the European powers. Rather than view the Ottoman entry into the First World War on the losing side for what it was – a failed imperialist bid for territorial aggrandizement and reassertion of lost glory – the Muslim empire has been portrayed as the hapless victim of European machinations, driven into the world conflict by overbearing powers eager to expedite its demise and gobble up its lands.
Emblematic of the wider tendency to view Middle Easterners as mere objects, whose history is but a function of their unhappy interaction with the West, this conventional wisdom has proved remarkably resistant to the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and Eugene Rogan’s The Fall of the Ottomans is no exception to this rule.
To begin with, in an attempt to underscore the Ottoman Empire’s untenable position on the eve of the war, Rogan reproduces the standard depiction of the protracted period preceding the empire’s collapse, or the Eastern Question as it is commonly known, as the steady European encroachment on Ottoman territory. “The looming prospect of a European general war”, he writes, “raised the imminent threat of a Russian annexation of Istanbul, the straits, and eastern Anatolia – and the ultimate dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire among the Entente Powers. France was known to covet Syria, Britain had interests in Mesopotamia, and Greece wished to expand its grip over the Aegean.”
Reality, however, was quite different. Far from setting their sights on Ottoman lands, the European powers had consistently shored up the ailing Muslim empire for well over a century, saving it time and again from assured destruction – from Muhammad Ali’s imperialist bid of the 1830s, to the Balkan crises of the 1870s, to the Balkan war of 1912–13. And it was none other than Russia that acted as the Ottoman Empire’s latest saviour, halting its former Bulgarian subject at the gates of Istanbul, not once but twice: in November 1912 and March 1913. Several months later St Petersburg joined London and Berlin in underscoring “the necessity of preserving the Turkish Realm in its present form”.
All this means that by the outbreak of the Great War, the Ottoman Empire was scarcely a spurned and isolated power in danger of imminent destruction. Rather, it was in the enviable position of being courted by the two warring camps: the German-Austro-Hungarian Central Alliance wished its participation in the war, while the Anglo-French-Russian Triple Entente desired its neutrality. So much so that on August 18, 1914, less than a month after the outbreak of hostilities, the Entente’s ambassadors to Istanbul assured the Grand Vizier of the empire’s continued survival were it to stay out of the war, while the British Foreign Secretary vowed the preservation of Ottoman territorial integrity “in any conditions of peace which affected the Near East, provided she preserved a real neutrality during the war”. Five days later, at Ottoman request, the three powers put down this pledge in writing.
Had the Ottomans accepted this guarantee and kept out of the war, their empire would have readily weathered the storm. But then, by the time the Entente made its far-reaching proposal, Istanbul had already concluded a secret alliance with Germany that had effectively transformed it into a belligerent. This, nevertheless, didn’t prevent it from maintaining the false pretence of neutrality vis-à-vis the Entente, or even feigning interest in joining its ranks, while at the same time laying the groundwork for war and exploiting Berlin’s eagerness for the immediate initiation of hostilities to extract substantial military and economic benefits.
Preserving the myth of immaculate Turkish victimhood, Rogan claims that “the Ottoman leadership had no wish to enter a general European conflict” and was grudgingly driven to the German embrace by the Entente’s indifference, if not hostility, to its predicament. His proof is the supposed French rebuff of an alliance proposal, allegedly made during a visit to Paris in July 1914 by the military leader Djemal Pasha, as well as the British requisition of two warships commissioned by the Ottomans. “The British decision to requisition the ships was treated as a national humiliation in Turkey and ruled out the possibility of any accord between Britain and the Ottoman Empire”, Rogan writes. “The very next day, 2 August 1914, the Ottomans concluded a secret treaty of alliance with Germany.”
The problem with these well-worn stories is that there is no shred of evidence of Djemal’s alleged overture (its only mention is in his memoirs, written after the war and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire with the clear aim of exonerating himself from responsibility for this calamity), while the requisition announcement was made on August 3 – a day after the conclusion of the secret Ottoman-German alliance.
But even if the announcement had been made a few days earlier, it would have made no difference whatsoever for the simple reason that the terms of the Ottoman-German alliance had already been agreed on July 28. Moreover, it was the Ottomans rather than the Germans who had opted for an alliance within days of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914 – weeks before the outbreak of hostilities; who were the driving force in the ensuing secret negotiations; and who largely prevailed over their German counterparts in deciding the alliance’s broad contours. As Kaiser Wilhelm ordered his more sceptical negotiators: “A refusal or a snub would result in Turkey’s going over to Russo-Gallia, and our influence would be gone forever … Under no circumstances whatsoever can we afford to turn them away”.
The truth of the matter is that the Ottoman Empire was neither forced into the First World War in a last-ditch attempt to ensure its survival, nor manoeuvred into it by an overbearing German ally and a hostile Entente, but rather plunged head on into the whirlpool. War, for the Ottoman leaders, was not seen as a mortal danger to be averted, but a unique opportunity to be seized. They did not seek “an ally to protect the empire’s vulnerable territory from the consequences of such war” but a powerful underwriter of their imperialist ambitions; and apart from their admiration for Germany and their conviction that it would ultimately be victorious, the Entente had less to offer by way of satisfying these ambitions, first and foremost “the destruction of our Muscovite enemy to obtain a natural frontier to our empire, which should include and unite all branches of our race” (in the words of the Ottoman declaration of war).
Just as the fall of the Ottoman Empire was not the result of external machinations but a self-inflicted catastrophe, so the creation of the modern Middle East on its ruins was not an imperialist imposition but the aggregate outcome of intense pushing and shoving by a multitude of regional and international bidders for the Ottoman war spoils in which the local actors, despite their marked inferiority to the great powers, often had the upper hand.
While Rogan occasionally alludes to this reality, these allusions are far too sparse and timid to break from the standard misrepresentation of the post-war regional order as an artificial Western creation. He aptly notes that “the map drawn by Sykes and Picot bears no resemblance to the Middle East today”, yet reiterates the standard depiction of the agreement as a colonial imposition rather than a British effort “to reconcile the interests of France with the pledges given to the [Arabs]” (to use Albert Hourani’s words), or indeed – the first-ever great power recognition of Arab right to self determination (well before President Woodrow Wilson turned this principle into a driving force of international politics). He similarly observes that Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia (or the Hijaz, as it was then known) “achieved independence within frontiers of their own devising”, yet parrots the conventional wisdom that the imperial powers outlandishly “imposed the borders and systems of governments of most states in the region”.
In fact, most states in the region were established pretty much as a result of local exertions. The modern state of Iraq, to give a prominent example, was created in its present form (rather than divided into three states in accordance with the existing realities of local patriotism and religious affinities) on behalf of Emir Faisal of Mecca and at his instigation, while Jordan was established to satisfy the ambitions of Faisal’s older brother Abdullah. Likewise, the nascent Zionist movement exploited a unique convergence of factors to harness British support to its national cause, to have this support endorsed by the international community and incorporated into the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, and to cling tenaciously to these achievements until their fruition in the establishment of the State of Israel in May 1948.
Eugene Rogan acknowledges that “the borders of the post-war settlement have proven remarkably resilient”. Yet he fails to draw the selfevident conclusion that this state of affairs reflects their congruity with local realities, instead echoing the common refrain that ascribes the region’s endemic volatility to the supposed dissatisfaction with these boundaries.
Had this actually been the case, Arab leaders would have seized some of the numerous opportunities they had over the past century to undo the post-Ottoman order and unify the so-called Arab Nation; and they could have readily done this by peaceful means rather than incessant fighting. But then, violence has hardly been imported to the Middle East as a by-product of European imperialism; it was a part of the political culture long before. And if anything, it is the region’s tortuous relationship with modernity, most notably the stubborn adherence to its millenarian religiously based imperialist legacy, which has left physical force as the main instrument of political discourse to date.
But to acknowledge this would mean abandoning the self-righteous victimization paradigm that has informed Western scholarship for so long, and treating Middle Easterners as equal free agents accountable for their actions, rather than giving them a condescending free pass for political and moral modes of behaviour that are not remotely acceptable in Western societies. Sadly, The Fall of the Ottomans signals no such paradigm shift.
* The Fall of the Ottomans by Eugene Rogan. The review first appeared in the Times Literary Supplement and was reprinted in the Wall Street Journal.
A review of a book on ISIS at Commentary, by Michael J. Totten, is full of interest. It explains some of the Byzantine intricacies of Arab, middle eastern, and Islamic politics.
The book is titled ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror. It’s written by Michael Weiss & Hassan Hassan.
The review begins with two sentences with which we emphatically agree. We wish that all who report on ISIS would take note of them.
ISIS isn’t a terrorist organization. It’s a transnational army of terror.
And a very formidable army it is in its size and its armor.
The CIA claims it has as many as 31,000 fighters in Syria and Iraq, and Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government, thinks the number may be as high as 200,000. When ISIS fighters conquered the Iraqi city of Mosul last year, they stole enough materiel to supply three fighting divisions, including up-armored American Humvees, T-55 tanks, mobile Chinese artillery pieces, Soviet anti-aircraft guns, and American-made Stinger missile systems. ISIS controls a swath of territory the size of Great Britain and is expanding into Libya and Yemen.
The book relates the history ISIS. The midwife of its birth was Bashar Assad, the president of Syria.
ISIS began its life as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) after the United States demolished Saddam Hussein’s government in 2003. The Bush administration saw Arab democracy as the solution to the Middle East’s woes, and Syria’s tyrant Bashar al-Assad didn’t want to be the next Saddam. Assad waged a proxy war to convince Washington that participatory politics in the region would be perilous. Weiss and Hassan quote former Syrian diplomat Bassam Barabandi, who says candidly that “[Assad] started to work with the mujahideen.” He dispatched Syria’s homegrown jihadists to fight American occupation forces [in Iraq], and most of those jihadists would sign up with AQI. Assad pulled off a win-win scheme, purging Syria of potential enemies while teaching both the American government and citizenry a lesson they still haven’t forgotten: Occupying and democratizing an Arab land is a far messier and bloodier business than most in the West are willing to stomach.
It worked so well in Iraq that Assad would eventually replicate it inside his own country. When the uprising against him began in 2011, he framed the conflict as one between his secular regime and Islamist terrorists, even when the only serious movement against him consisted of nonviolent protests for reform and democracy. Few in the West bought Assad’s line at the time, so he then facilitated an Islamist terrorist opposition. His loyalists like to present a choice: “Assad or we burn the country.” And they are not kidding.
As Weiss and Hassan detail, Assad opened the jails and let Islamist prisoners free as part of an ostensible “reform” process, but he kept democracy activists in their cages. He knew perfectly well that those he let loose would cut a burning and bleeding gash across the country, casting him as the only thing standing between the rest of us and the abyss. …
ISIS is a terrible force; as terrible as any in history or fiction.
The first thing ISIS does when conquering a new city or town is set up the grisly machinery for medieval punishments in town squares. “Letting black-clad terrorists run around a provincial capital,” Weiss and Hassan write, “crucifying and beheading people, made for great propaganda.” It was all Assad could do to ensure the Obama administration wouldn’t pursue a policy of regime-change as it had in Libya and as the previous administration had in Iraq. …
Had Assad been forced into exile or dragged from his palace before the Arab Spring soured, Syria might look strikingly different today. Weiss and Hassan cite an International Republican Institute survey of Syrian public opinion in 2012 that found 76 percent of the country favored one kind of democratic transition or another. But Assad guarantees that bullets rather than ballots will decide political outcomes, and millions would rather flee to squalid refugee camps abroad than get caught between the anvil of Syria’s totalitarian state and the hammer of ISIS. …
ISIS’s founder, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, loved beheading hapless victims on camera as much as the new leadership does, and his grisly behavior earned him the nickname “Sheikh of the Slaughterers”. He hated no one on earth — not even Americans — more than he hated Shia Muslims who, in his view, were beneath even Sunni Muslim apostates. …
Abu Bakr Naji, one of ISIS’s intellectual architects, published a book online outlining its strategy and vision: The Management of Savagery. It is used today as a manual not only in Syria and Iraq but also by al-Qaeda affiliates in Somalia, Yemen, and Libya. “Jihad,” he writes, “is naught but violence, crudeness, terrorism, frightening [people], and massacring.”
The authors make a compelling case that ISIS “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is a would-be Saddam Hussein in religious garb…. Like Zarqawi before him, [he] is even more genocidal than Iraq’s former strongman. Al-Baghdadi has “so far demonstrated nothing short of annihilationist intention …” …
Annihilationist, that is, first and foremost of the Shi’a, who are “marked only for death”.
[But] Syrians and Iraqis aren’t the only ones threatened by all this, of course. ISIS aspires to wage its exterminationist war beyond the Middle East, not only in the United States but also in Europe. “We will raid you thereafter,” it boasts in its online magazine, Dabiq, “and you will never raid us. We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women, by the Permission of Allah, the Exalted. This is His promise to us.”
And that, since ISIS became the enemy of Assad – the despot who brought it into the world – puts the US and Europe “tacitly on the side of Assad”. And as Assad is kept in power by Iran, they are also tacitly on the side of Iran and “their joint Lebanese proxy Hezbollah”.
It is a state of affairs that the Iranian rulers delight in.
Tehran can hardly contain itself. “One of the world’s leading state sponsors of terrorism,” Weiss and Hassan write, “now presents itself as the last line of defense against terrorism.”
[But] the idea that a state sponsor of terrorism could ever be a reliable partner against international terrorism is ludicrous. “Whatever Washington’s intentions,” Weiss and Hassan write, “its perceived alliance of convenience with the murderous regimes of Syria and Iran is keeping Sunnis who loathe or fear ISIS from participating in another grassroots effort to expel the terrorists from their midst.”
ISIS continues to grow at an alarming rate and has so far recruited thousands of members from Europe. “What draws people to ISIS,” the authors write, “could easily bring them to any number of cults or totalitarian movements, even those ideologically contradictory to Salafist jihadism.” Indeed, its ranks are swollen with tribal sectarians, thrill seekers, former “socialist infidels”, foreign losers looking for meaning and community, and psychopaths pining for butchery. Many find the execution videos of “Jihadi John” — a modern version of what 19th-century Italian revolutionary Carlo Pisacane called propaganda of the deed — darkly compelling. For the most dangerous ISIS recruits, what the rest of us see as bad press is seductive.
Many, however, are painfully naive. Savvy ISIS recruiters do an outstanding job convincing the gullible that its notoriety is unjustified. “Don’t hear about us,” they say. “Hear from us.” Weiss and Hassan dig up comments from some of ISIS’s obtuse fans in online Western forums who have bought the sales pitch: “Does the Islamic State sell hair gel and Nutella in Raqqa?” “Should I bring an iPad to let Mom and Dad know that I arrived safely in caliphate?”
The foolish recruits are more likely to become victims themselves than to victimize others — in March, ISIS forced a 12-year-old boy to execute an Israeli Arab man for trying to flee — but ISIS will continue to attract newcomers as long as it’s permitted to thrive. And thrive it will until it faces a more determined resistance force and as long as radical Sunni Muslims around the world feel galvanized by the perceived American-Iranian axis against them.
As the authors say in their book’s stark conclusion, “the army of terror will be with us indefinitely”.
Ben Shapiro writes at Breitbart:
On Sunday [April 19, 2015] a migrant ship from Libya carrying 950 people sank in the Mediterranean … The reports of the sunken migrant ship came on the heels of a story just days before that 15 Muslims had thrown 12 Christians overboard on a migrant voyage from Libya.
The problem of migration from Libya springs from the chaos that has filled that country in the wake of the US-led Western invasion of the country – a policy championed first and foremost by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Ably assisted, we like to point out, by her two fellow round-the-cauldron witches. One was Samantha Power, then Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights and First Advocate of Pity, whose doctrine is that the US must intervene wherever she directs it to protect her selected underdogs (only). The second was Susan Rice, then US Ambassador to the UN and Liar-in-Chief for the Obama administration. The Weaving of the Spells was as always overseen from a distance by the Queen of the Witches who reigns in the White House: President-Whisperer Valerie Jarrett.
Clinton pushed regime change in Libya, and pushed it hard. In February 2011, an uprising against then-dictator Muammar Qaddafi broke out; President Obama quickly pushed for sanctions, and the United Nations voted for a no-fly zone above the country. In March, ABC News reported that Obama had signed a presidential finding to send covert aid to the Libyan rebels. In September 2011, Obama called for Qaddafi’s forces to surrender. In October 2011, Hillary visited Tripoli and pledged millions to the Libyan opposition, gushing, “I am proud to stand here on the soil of a free Libya.” Two days later, Qaddafi was sodomized with a knife and then killed; Hillary was caught on camera crowing and laughing, “We came, we saw, he died!”
The Libyan opposition, as it turns out, was honeycombed with terrorists, who promptly threw the country into total chaos. …
Hillary knew about the relationship between terrorist groups and the Libyan opposition and had no plan for what came next – an amazing fact given her own 2008 critique of President Bush’s Iraq invasion along the same lines.
According to The Washington Times:
U.S. intelligence did not support the story that Mrs. Clinton used to sell the war in Libya, mainly that there was an imminent danger of a genocide to be carried out by the Gadhaafi regime. The intelligence community, in fact, had come to the opposite conclusion: that Gadhafi would not risk world outrage by killing civilians en masse even as he tried to crush the rebellion in his country … The Pentagon and a key Democrat so distrusted Mrs. Clinton’s decision-making on Libya that they opened their own secret diplomatic conversations with the Gadhafi regime, going round the State Department.
Obama and Hillary, of course, never bothered to get Congressional authorization for offensive military action in Libya. Then, after terrorists took over the country, they refused security requests from Ambassador Chris Stevens for the American annex in Benghazi, [a failure] ending in the murder of four Americans, including the ambassador, by the terrorists we had helped take over the country.
After Qaddafi’s ouster, the country has turned into a haven for terrorists, from Al Qaeda to ISIS. Instead of facing up to Western responsibility for the chaos in Libya, however … President Obama stood by and said nothing.
Which is precisely what you would expect. Every aspect of the Obama administration’s foreign policy, as helped along by Hillary Clinton, has ended with innocent bodies in its wake. Those floating in the Mediterranean today are no exception.
The same writer, on the same subject, reports and comments in an article at Truth Revolt:
Headless bodies lie in the sand. Above those corpses stand the black-clad minions of ISIS, outlined against the coastline of Libya. This is the second video in three months depicting Islamic terrorists cutting the heads off of Christian captives.
Bodies float in the Mediterranean Sea, face down. Twelve Christian bodies, thrown from a rubber boat by 15 Muslims. Their launch point: Libya.
Approximately 700 more bodies float face down in the Mediterranean, victims of a smuggling operation gone wrong when their rickety craft sunk as it made its way to Italy. Its source location: Libya.
Four American bodies in Benghazi, Libya.
These are the wages of Hillary Clinton’s war.
In June 2006, as then-Senator Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., prepared a run for president, she stated that President George W. Bush had “rushed to war” in Iraq. A few months later, Hillary spoke of her opposition to Bush’s surge in Iraq, stating that it was a “losing strategy.” Iraq, a war for which Hillary voted, had been conducted on the back of flawed intelligence estimates and without a clear plan.
Five years later, Secretary of State Clinton rushed to war … manufacturing evidence to do so, and with no plan whatsoever for victory. According to The Washington Times, Clinton “was the moving force inside the Obama administration to encourage US military intervention to unseat [dictator Moammar Gadhafi] in Libya”. Clinton claimed that if the West did not intervene in Libya, Gadhafi would pursue a genocide against his enemies; in March 2011, she imagined a scenario in which “Benghazi had been overrun, a city of 700,000 people, and tens of thousands of people had been slaughtered, hundreds of thousands had fled. …” That genocide never materialized, nor did the best intelligence estimates support that argument.
Not only that: Hillary also ignored all available evidence suggesting that the Libyan opposition was honeycombed with terrorists.
She ignored Admiral James Stavridis, NATO Supreme Commander for Europe, who admitted “flickers in the intelligence of potential al Qaeda, Hezbollah.” Al-Qaida backed the Libyan uprising. There was a reason that neither Hillary nor President Obama risked going to Congress for approval of the Libyan adventure: they would have been rejected. …
Hillary’s war ended with terrorist chaos in Libya: a full-scale terror takeover of regions of the country including Benghazi, the exile of the legitimate government, a massive refugee crisis growing day-by-day amidst the upheaval. That refugee crisis has grown significantly worse since Hillary’s war.
As Vox.com, a leftist outlet, points out, 1,600 migrants “have drowned in the Mediterranean this year.” Why? Again, according to Vox.com, when Moammar Gadhafi “ruled Libya, his government had an agreement with Italy to try to intercept and turn back ships leaving for Europe. … And in the utter chaos that’s engulfed Libya over the past few years, there’s no government entity really capable of patrolling the Mediterranean.”
Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy has promoted chaos around the world. Nowhere is that better illustrated than in her signal foreign policy legacy, the collapsed state of Libya.
And Daniel Greenfield writes at Front Page:
Obama lied and claimed that his illegal Libyan War was necessary to stop a genocide. There was no genocide, at least until Obama achieved his regime change goals and put Jihadists from Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood in control of Libya.
Ironically the very Jihadists on whose behalf Obama was waging an illegal war from the air were Arabs targeting and murdering his fellow Africans.
“Reports for many months have stated that Libyan rebels have been killing and persecuting black Africans in Libya once areas came under their control. The number of reports highlighting this continues to grow and many images have been shown which show Africans being mutilated and having their bodies abused and mocked by non-black African Libyans. …
So much for Black lives mattering.
On the road between Misrata and Tawergha, rebel slogans like “the brigade for purging slaves, black skin” have supplanted pro-Gadhafi scrawl.
And as with every Obama accomplishment, the situation just keeps getting worse and worse.
One 17-year-old Eritrean named Brahane spoke of his ordeal at the hands of militias and gangs, who he said killed dozens of fellow migrants. “The traffickers took drugs and were always high,” he said. “I saw them spray people with petrol and set fire to them. …
While the media has done its best to wipe away a little factual tidbit, in his speech to Americans, Obama claimed that Benghazi was facing genocide.
If we waited one more day, Benghazi, a city nearly the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.
It’s a lie. It’s a lie that Republicans have miserably failed to call Obama on. But Obama’s actions certainly made it true.
Benghazi did suffer a massacre … of Americans.
Daniel Greenfield writes again at Front Page:
Hundreds of people just died because of Obama and Hillary’s illegal Libyan war.
In particular he is alluding to the hundreds drowned in the Mediterranean, including the Christians who were pushed into the water by Muslims.
The Libyan War was based on a lie about genocide that is turning out to be real as ISIS beheads African Christians captured in Libya, as migrants claw their way abroad boats out of Libya, killing each other along the way, as a civil war between the legal government and the Muslim Brotherhood drags on.
The strange thing about left-wing wars is that we don’t talk about them. … The left has done its best to turn Benghazi into a contemptuous meme and the murder of four Americans into a joke. …
Libya was never paradise, but Obama opted for regime change, while lying about it, and then took no responsibility for the consequences.
The CIA backed Jihadist rebels, allowed Qatar, a state sponsor of terror, to smuggle weapons to terrorists right past NATO, then it made a futile effort to get them back.
Obama did not have a plan for Libya except to let the terrorists win. And the terrorists have won.
Instead of ending the civil war, Obama perpetuated it. Libya is fragmented between a coalition of Al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood Jihadists and what is left of the elected government. …
The administration criticized Egypt for carrying out air strikes against Jihadists who beheaded Coptic Christians, and [Libyan] General Haftar for trying to fight the same Islamic terrorists who murdered four Americans in Benghazi, even though they’re doing what we should be.
The costs of Obama’s Libyan adventure have been high. They include an Al Qaeda franchise nearly capturing Mali and the resulting French intervention. They include the murder of Africans and Christians in Libya. They include an ongoing civil war that shows no signs of ending. And a number of Americans killed along the way …
And yet, … this is the war that never existed. Obama and his people refused to call it a war. The media, which would never have reported on the troubles in Iraq without linking it to the war, doesn’t call it a war or mention that we might have had something to do with what’s going on.
Type in “Iraq War” and you’ll get plenty of results, but Obama’s Libyan bombing campaign is obscurely buried inside the country’s civil war, a development as odd as sandwiching the Iraq War within the Shiite uprising and the ISIS aftermath. And yet there’s a consistent pattern to these cover-ups. [Bill] Clinton’s own bombing campaign in Yugoslavia was likewise buried within a civil war. …
And was surely the most unnecessary war that America has ever fought.
But unlike Yugoslavia, Libya isn’t going away. It’s only getting bloodier. Like Iraq, where the media perpetuated the myth of a successful withdrawal until the genocide began, Libya keeps getting worse.
And sooner or later we’re going to have to talk about it.
Unlike Iraq, there is no one else to blame. And Hillary Clinton can’t shrug it off as Obama’s doing. Not when she was an aggressive champion of intervention.
The false claim of genocide which was used to justify a no-fly zone that served as a cover for regime change came from Hillary Clinton.
The Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff all opposed the war. In a reversal of the usual clichés about warmongers, the Pentagon was highly skeptical and attempted to negotiate a truce with Libya.
Hillary’s State Department rejected a peace venture by the military and forced a war.
For any Republican administration, the fact that an armchair warrior Secretary of State with presidential ambitions had illegally started a war over the objections of the military would be the ultimate story.
Instead it’s the Hillary story that cannot be told.
And yet it would be nice, if in between gushing over her highly scheduled visits to major brand name eateries and photogenic meetings with her own party’s staffers passed off as ordinary folks, someone in the media would ask Hillary why she wanted this war and what it was meant to accomplish.
But no such questions will be asked and no answers will be forthcoming.
The same media that incessantly manufactured Iraq War scandals seems utterly uninterested in the admission of former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, a Clinton loyalist, that the administration had lied … to the American people and that its real goal had been regime change.
An editorial at Investor’s Business Daily deals with the same subject, with similar indignation:
As refugees flood the Mediterranean, Europe is in a crisis. But the issue is not about how many lifeboats to send; it’s the failed state of Libya. Why isn’t Hillary Clinton, the architect of U.S. Libya policy, answering questions?
The European Union is being hit with a refugee crisis of unprecedented proportions as another boat loaded with emigres capsized near the Italian island of Lampedusa on Saturday. Nearly all of its 900 passengers drowned …
The Mediterranean, now known as “a cemetery without graves,” will be crossed by some 500,000 refugees this year, up from about 220,000 last year.
At the same time, a second round of beheadings of Christians by Islamic State terrorists on Libya’s beaches over the weekend drives the point home: Terrorists are on the rise, and a strong base of their operations is in Libya, a failed state that was taken over by a vile menagerie of pirates, slavers and smugglers in the rubble of the toppled Gadhafi regime.
Who’s responsible here? None other than Hillary Clinton, who served as President Obama’s secretary of state during the overthrow of the longtime dictatorship of Muammar Gadhafi in 2011.
And that raises again the valid questions on what really happened in Libya.
At that time, the U.S. was partnering with Europe, chiefly France, in a supposedly easy operation to get rid of the annoying dictator and then watch what the alliance thought would be the flourishing of democracy. It was called “leading from behind.”
The U.S. withdrew support from Gadhafi — who, by the way, had voluntarily renounced his nuclear program in the interest of preserving himself — only to be waylaid by mobs and killed.
Instead of democracy, what flourished was barbarism with absolutely no state emerging from what had been a largely tribal society.
The brazen murder of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans on Sept. 11, 2012, showed what was ahead for the country …
Who let that happen? And who was it who allowed their killers to get away with it with no fear of being hunted down and brought to justice? One suspect sipped on a strawberry frappe in a fancy hotel while being interviewed by the New York Times. He was at ease because he knew nobody was looking for him.
Weapons go unguarded and fall into the hands of terrorists. Islamic radicals destroy ancient cultural treasures [in Mali]. An even more menacing element takes advantage of the U.S. failure to support Egypt by attacking the country on its western flank …
A disaster this complete is the result of foreign policy incompetence on an untold scale, and demands answers from the policymakers behind it. But instead of calling on Clinton to answer questions, the press gives her a pass, and the Obama administration watched approvingly as she destroyed a gigantic cache of emails that might have shed light on what kind of trouble she was opening the country to during her service as secretary of state.
The only point on which we disagree is IBD’s putting it all down to the “incompetence” of Obama and Hillary. Not that we think First Witch Hillary is competent. Hell no!
Our contention is that North Africa and the Middle East are in flames, millions of people are suffering horrible deaths or enslavement or are scattering over sea and land, and worse is yet to come when Iran gets its nukes, because Obama wants the Islamic jihad to triumph.
All that has happened is the result of Obama’s policy, not his mistakes.
Hillary – cold and ruthless and hypocritical – was cluelessly one of his tools. But that fact, far from exonerating her, shows all the more plainly that she is unfit for any government office, let alone the highest in the land.