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.
In this short video, Ezra Levant demonstrates how dangerously silly is this president of the United States.
Charles Krauthammer’s column today in the Washington Post says what needs to be said about a stupid question that “gotcha” journalists are asking presidential candidates.
And he tells them what the right question should be.
Ramadi falls. The Iraqi army flees. The great 60-nation anti-Islamic State coalition so grandly proclaimed by the Obama administration is nowhere to be seen. Instead, it’s the defense minister of Iran who flies into Baghdad, an unsubtle demonstration of who’s in charge — while the U.S. air campaign proves futile and America’s alleged strategy for combating the Islamic State is in freefall.
It gets worse. The Gulf states’ top leaders, betrayed and bitter, ostentatiously boycott President Obama’s failed Camp David summit. “We were America’s best friend in the Arab world for 50 years,” laments Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief.
Note: “were,” not “are.”
We are scraping bottom. Following six years of President Obama’s steady and determined withdrawal from the Middle East, America’s standing in the region has collapsed. And yet the question incessantly asked of the various presidential candidates is not about that. It’s a retrospective hypothetical: Would you have invaded Iraq in 2003 if you had known then what we know now?
First, the question is not just a hypothetical but an inherently impossible hypothetical. It contradicts itself. Had we known there were no weapons of mass destruction, the very question would not have arisen. The premise of the war — the basis for going to the U.N., to the Congress and, indeed, to the nation — was Iraq’s possession of WMD in violation of the central condition for the cease-fire that ended the 1991 Gulf War. No WMD, no hypothetical to answer in the first place.
Second, the “if you knew then” question implicitly locates the origin and cause of the current disasters in 2003 . As if the fall of Ramadi was predetermined then, as if the author of the current regional collapse is George W. Bush.
This is nonsense. The fact is that by the end of Bush’s tenure the war had been won. You can argue that the price of that victory was too high. Fine. We can debate that until the end of time. But what is not debatable is that it was a victory. Bush bequeathed to Obama a success. By whose measure? By Obama’s. As he told the troops at Fort Bragg on Dec. 14, 2011, “We are leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people.” This was, said the president, a “moment of success.” Which Obama proceeded to fully squander. With the 2012 election approaching, he chose to liquidate our military presence in Iraq. We didn’t just withdraw our forces. We abandoned, destroyed or turned over our equipment, stores, installations and bases. We surrendered our most valuable strategic assets, such as control of Iraqi airspace, soon to become theindispensable conduit for Iran to supply and sustain the Assad regime in Syria and cement its influence all the way to the Mediterranean. And, most relevant to the fall of Ramadi, we abandoned the vast intelligence network we had so painstakingly constructed in Anbar province, without which our current patchwork operations there are largely blind and correspondingly feeble.
The current collapse was not predetermined in 2003 but in 2011. Isn’t that what should be asked of Hillary Clinton? We know you think the invasion of 2003 was a mistake. But what about the abandonment of 2011? Was that not a mistake?
Mme. Secretary: When you arrived at State, al-Qaeda in Iraq had been crushed and expelled from Anbar. The Iraqi government had from Basra to Sadr City fought and defeated the radical, Iranian-proxy Shiite militias. Yet today these militias are back, once again dominating Baghdad. On your watch, we gave up our position as the dominant influence over a “sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq” — forfeiting that position gratuitously to Iran. Was that not a mistake? And where were you when it was made?
Iraq is now a battlefield between the Sunni jihadists of the Islamic State and the Shiite jihadists of Iran’s Islamic Republic. There is no viable center. We abandoned it. The Obama administration’s unilateral pullout created a vacuum for the entry of the worst of the worst.
And the damage was self-inflicted. The current situation in Iraq, says David Petraeus, “is tragic foremost because it didn’t have to turn out this way. The hard-earned progress of the surge was sustained for over three years.” Do the math. That’s 2009 through 2011, the first three Obama years. And then came the unraveling. When? The last U.S. troops left Iraq on Dec. 18, 2011.
Want to do retrospective hypotheticals? Start there.
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.
Why would the government of a country bring large numbers of its sworn enemies to live in it, and forbid entry to its friends who are in dire need of asylum?
What possible explanation could there be?
This is from Moonbattery:
DHS Buses In Somali Colonists Who Enter US From Mexico
… The U.S. is bringing in 100,000 Muslims every year through legal channels such as the United Nations refugee program and various visa programs, but new reports indicate a pipeline has been established through the southern border with the help of the federal agency whose job it is to protect the homeland.
Turning over homeland security to the likes of Barack Obama and Jeh Johnson is the ultimate example of putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.
They are coming from Somalia and other African nations, according to a Homeland Security official who was caught recently transporting a busload of Africans to a detention center near Victorville, California.
For a variety of reasons, colonists from the failed state of Somalia are the least assimilable people on the planet. Importing Somalis means importing the three things Somalia is known for: poverty, chaos, and terrorism.
Somalia is the home base of al-Shabab, a designated foreign terrorist organization that slaughtered 147 Christians at a university in Kenya just last month. It executed another 67 at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2013, and has put out warnings that it will target malls in Canada and the U.S. Dozens of Somali refugees in the U.S. have been arrested, charged and convicted of providing support to overseas terrorist organizations over the past few years. …
So when Anita Fuentes of OpenYourEyesPeople.com posted a video of a U.S. Department of Homeland Security bus pulling into a Shell station in Victorville, on the night of May 7, admitting he had a busload of Somalis and other Africans who had crossed the southern border, it raised more than a few eyebrows among those concerned with illegal immigration and national security.
A man who appeared to be a Customs and Border Patrol agent was filmed at the gas station at 10:30 p.m. When questioned by Fuentes, he informed her that his large touring bus was full of Somalis and other Africans being transported to a nearby detention center. …
“Well they’re coming in asking for asylum,” he said.
“That’s what it is, that special key word huh? That’s a password now?” Fuentes said.
“That’s what the password is now,” he responds.
From that you can deduce how long the Somali welfare colonists will be incarcerated at the detention facility before being distributed throughout the country as part of Obama’s fundamental transformation of the American population. If DHS were doing the job it explicitly exists to perform, these people would be stopped at the border rather than brought into the country. How many of them are affiliated with ISIS — which is said to have a presence just over the border — is anyone’s guess.
Writing in April in USA Today about the murder of 12 Christian migrants thrown into the sea by Muslims for praying to Jesus instead of Allah, columnist Kirsten Powers stated that President Barack Obama “just can’t seem to find any passion for the mass persecution of Middle Eastern Christians or the eradication of Christianity from its birthplace.”
The president’s response appears to be United States policy. Evidence suggests that within the administration not only is there no passion for persecuted Christians under threat of genocide from the Islamic State, there is no room for them, period. In fact, despite ISIS’ targeting of Iraqi Christians specifically because they are Christians, and, as such, stand in the way of a pure, Islamic Caliphate in the Middle East (and beyond), the U.S. State Department has made it clear that “there is no way that Christians will be supported because of their religious affiliation”.
An Anglican bishop revealed that this policy position presented to him in his most recent interaction with State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM). The Rt. Rev. Julian M. Dobbs, bishop of the Diocese of CANA East (Convocation of Anglicans in North America) is an advocate for persecuted people worldwide. On this occasion, Dobbs was appealing on behalf of a group of Assyrian Christians desperately in need of rescue from northern Iraq.
The serious nature of the threat against these Assyrian Christians is evident because not only do they have permission from their own bishop to leave the country, they have his blessing and urging, as well. Until recently, church leaders have almost uniformly asked the people to remain, fearing that the Middle East will be emptied of Christians. But many church leaders have now concluded that the only way for Middle Eastern Christians to survive is to actually leave.
How bad is it for Christians in northern Iraq at present? In the words of Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, Northern Iraq:
Christianity in Iraq is going through one of its worst and hardest stages of its long history, which dates back to the first century. Throughout all these long centuries, we have experienced many hardships and persecutions, offering caravans of martyrs. Yet 2014 brought the worst acts of genocide against us in our history. …
In June 2014, with cooperation and assistance from local Sunni Muslim extremists, ISIS took over Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city and home to many Christians and other religious minorities. Christians, Yazidis, Mandeans and others were targeted for destruction, and within just the first week of ISIS’ occupation, more than 500,000 people fled the city. The homes of Christians were marked with the Arabic letter “nun,” standing for Nazarene. Christians were threatened with death if they did not convert to Islam, pay jizya and live as a subjected people — “dhimmi” — or flee immediately.
As dhimmi they would have to pay to live.
Nazarenes, to this day the Arabic word for “Christians”, was the name of the first followers of “Jesus”. They were all Jews, and did not cease to be Jews. They believed that he was the Messiah, was crucified by the Romans, rose from the dead, and would come again to save them from Roman domination. Non-Jews of the region made no distinction between them and later followers of “Jesus Christ” – the converts of St. Paul – whom we know as “Christians”. The Nazarenes died out. The Christians came to be a majority in the region of Mesopotamia until the Muslim conquests of the 7th. century. They have lived there continuously until now. Archbishop Warda says: “We now face the extinction of Christianity as a religion and as a culture from Mesopotamia [Iraq].”
Two months later, ISIS seized control of Qaraqosh, “the Christian Capital of Iraq,” and the neighboring Christian villages, all in the province of the Biblical landmark of Nineveh. Christianity Today reported that the siege displaced one-fourth of Iraq’s total Christian population. According to a March 26, 2015 article in Newsweek, as many as 1.4 million Christians lived in their ancestral home of Iraq prior to 2003. Now the number of Christians is estimated at anywhere from 260,000 to 350,000, with near half of that number displaced within the country. Newsweek explained that Iraq’s remaining Christians have mostly fled north to safer areas under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government. “But now ISIS is threatening them there, too.”
Dobbs … informed US State Department officials of a plan by one well-known Christian international aid agency to provide safer housing for Iraqi Christians. … The State Department advised him against setting up emergency housing for Christians in the region, saying it was “totally inappropriate”.
Also inappropriate, it seems, is the resettling of the most vulnerable Assyrian Christians in the United States. Donors in the private sector have offered complete funding for the airfare and the resettlement in the United States of these Iraqi Christians that are sleeping in public buildings, on school floors, or worse. But the State Department — while admitting 4,425 Somalis to the United States in just the first six months of FY2015, and possibly even accepting members of ISIS through the Syrian and Iraqi refugee program, all paid for by tax dollars – told Dobbs that they “would not support a special category to bring Assyrian Christians into the United States”.
The United States government has made it clear that there is no way that Christians will be supported because of their religious affiliation, even though it is exactly that — their religious affiliation — that makes them candidates for asylum based on a credible fear of persecution from ISIS. The State Department, the wider administration, some in Congress and much of the media and other liberal elites insist that Christians cannot be given preferential treatment. Even within the churches, some Christians are so afraid of appearing to give preferential treatment to their fellow Christians that they are reluctant to plead the case of their Iraqi and Syrian brothers and sisters. …
On April 30, The Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom director, Nina Shea, wrote about the State Department’s refusing a non-immigrant visa to an Iraqi Catholic nun. Sister Diana Momeka of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena was to come to Washington and testify about what ISIS is doing to Christians and other religious minorities (all the non-Christian members of the delegation were approved). She received a refusal letter saying, “You were not able to demonstrate that your intended activities in the United States would be consistent with the classification of the visa.” And she was told at the U.S. consulate in Erbil that she was denied “because she was an IDP [Internally Displaced Person]”. In other words, Sister Diana would use her non-immigrant visa to remain illegally in the United States. …
In a follow up article on May 3, Shea revealed that the State Department requested that she revise her article. Shea refused, and wrote, concerning the State Department’s actions:
Those who decided to block Sister Diana from entering this country on a visitor visa acted in a manner consistent with the administration’s pattern of silence when it comes to the Christian profile of so many of the jihadists’ “convert-or-die” victims in Syria, Libya, Nigeria, Kenya and Iraq. In typical U.S. condolence statements, targeted Christians have been identified simply as “lives lost”, “Egyptian citizens”, “Kenyan people”, “innocent victims”, or “innocent Iraqis”.
As such, don’t they have a better case for being granted asylum than Muslims, in the present state of the world?
The nun was finally let in on a visitor’s visa, and testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
I don’t suppose her testimony, or anything else, will change the immigration policy of the administration, which remains the puzzle of the age.
(Hat-tip for the Moonbattery article to our contributing commenter liz)
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.
The Pope has said something that has been interpreted as a probable reference to the on-going persecution of Christians in the Islamic world. He did it in the context of a speech recalling the genocide of Christian Armenians* by the Muslim state of Turkey a hundred years ago.
Today too, in fact, these conflicts at times degenerate into unjustifiable violence, stirred up by exploiting ethnic and religious differences.
That was it. That’s all. He added a suggestion that the heads of states and “International Organizations” might do something about it:
All who are Heads of State and of International Organizations are called to oppose such crimes with a firm sense of duty, without ceding to ambiguity or compromise.**
Uncountable numbers of Christians have been killed in this century by Muslims. In Nigeria, the Muslim organization Boko Haram shoots, hacks, burns its victims to death, buries them alive, enslaves them, and scatters them, destitute, from their homes. The Muslims cut off the limbs of living babies or throw them on fires. (See our post with pictures here.)
In Iraq and Syria, Christians are victimized in just such savage ways by the Islamic State (IS/ISIS/ISIL).
In Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, and in Judea under the government of the Palestinian Authority – notably in Bethlehem, the putative birthplace of the Christian God – Christians are mercilessly oppressed. The numbers of Christians in Muslim lands continually dwindle as those survivors escape who can.
What is the Christian world doing about it? Nothing.
Are Christian leaders speaking out in angry protest? No, except for the remark made in passing by Pope Francis a few days ago. Maybe another Pope will talk about it more fully in another hundred years.
So what is the good of Christianity? If ever in its history it has been put to the test, it is now.
And it fails.
But it does not recognize its failure.
Recently we had a Christian visitor to this site who called himself/herself “LilySmith”. (I’ll use the pronouns “she” and “her” since it is a woman’s name.) She commented in defense of Christianity under our post A perfect match. She wrote this about what her Christian group is doing about the victimization of Christians by the Islamic State:
Governments, not individuals, are responsible for law enforcement and going to war. Christianity isn’t a government. Instead we are taught as individuals to overcome evil with good. In that vein, we support the work of Christian friends living in Iraq serving the people there in any way needed. We also support those helping Christians in the ME who are under stress right now.
What form does that “help” for the victims of “stress” take which she and her friends “support”? Food, clothing, shelter, a secure refuge? Or just sympathy? She did not say.
Nor did she say anything about wanting to see justice done. Nothing about stopping and punishing the perpetrators. That sort of thing is the concern of governments not Christians, she says.
Thinking like that is as true to Christianity as savage cruelty is true to Islam. Both are true to their holy texts.
Christianity does not speak of justice. It orders Christians to love and forgive the evil-doer. “Resist not evil,” it commands.
Christian websites which report the sufferings of Christians at the hands of Muslims, dwell on the brave endurance of the victims.
Here again we quote from the Pope’s speech from the Vatican, April 12, 2015, on the centenary anniversary of the Armenian genocide:
As Saint John Paul II said to you, “Your history of suffering and martyrdom is a precious pearl, of which the universal Church is proud …” .
… Saint Gregory of Narek, an extraordinary interpreter of the human soul, offers words which are prophetic for us: “I willingly blame myself with myriad accounts of all the incurable sins, from our first forefather through the end of his generations in all eternity, I charge myself with all these voluntarily.” …
The Church thrives on suffering, on bloodshed, on agony. It invites persecution, and is thus a promoter of evil. And that makes it co-responsible for the atrocities Islam inflicts on Christians.
The Christians who are having their throats slit, their heads sawn off, their babies burnt alive, are martyrs, potential saints, and that is what matters; because Christianity is not a religion for the betterment of the life we live on this earth. Its concern is with an imaginary afterlife in an eternal heaven or hell.
So Christianity has not failed by its own lights.
By every measure of reason, by the yardstick of accustomed morality and the norms of civilization, by the judgment of common-sense, by the test of whether it serves good and opposes evil, Christianity has failed utterly.
* On the Armenian genocide, Dr. Ileana Johnson Pugh, writing at Canada Free Press, quotes Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, who “published in 1918 his personal account of the Armenian genocide”. ( A Personal Account of the Armenian Genocide, Henry Morgenthau, Cosimo Classics, New York, 2010). We extract a small part of the passages she quotes which describe the atrocities committed by the Turks.
Throughout the Turkish Empire a systematic attempt was made to kill all able-bodied men, not only for the purpose of removing all males who might propagate a new generation of Armenians, but for the purpose of rendering the weaker part of the population an easy prey.
When thousands failed to turn in weapons, the Turks ransacked churches, desecrated altars, marched the naked men and women through the streets, letting them be whipped by angry Turkish mobs. Those imprisoned who did not manage to flee into the woods and caves were subjected to the “bastinado” torture, the beating of the soles of the feet until they burst and had to be amputated.
Crucifixion, pulling of fingernails, of hairs, of eyebrows, tearing of flesh with red-hot pincers, and then pouring hot oil into the wounds were some of the barbaric methods of torture drawn from the records of the Spanish Inquisition.
Torture was just the beginning of the Armenian atrocities. What was to come was the actual destruction of “an entire Armenian race” by deporting it to the south and southeastern part of the Ottoman Empire, the Syrian desert and the Mesopotamian valley. …
The deportations took place through the spring and summer of 1915. The entire Armenian population of villages were ordered to appear in the main square, sometimes with little time to prepare, their homes and possessions confiscated for “safekeeping” and then divided among Turks. Once the deported Armenians had traveled several hours, they were attacked and killed in secluded valleys by Turkish peasants with clubs, hammers, axes, scythes, spades, and saws.
Out of a population of two million Armenians, only about 500,000 Armenians survived the genocide.
(Later in the twentieth century, Turkey was admitted as a member of NATO.)
** When the Inquisition condemned a heretic to be burnt at the stake, the Catholic Church handed the victim over to the secular authorities whom it compelled to carry out the atrocious deed, so the Church might keep itself clean of the sin of killing. The term used by the Church for the handing-over was that he or she was “relaxed”.
Obama has shown great favor to the Muslim Brotherhood. He has members of that appalling organization advising his administration on the security of the United States – which the Muslim Brotherhood is sworn to conquer! – and on foreign policy.
That is all outrageous. Why are Americans tolerating it?
Obama was delighted when the abominable Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood took power in Egypt, and was furious when he was bounced out again by the far preferable Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
The puzzle is this: since Obama is so obviously committed emotionally and in practice to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is a Sunni organization and movement, why is he helping Iran, which is Shi’a and everlastingly the enemy of the Sunnis, to become the dominant power in the Middle East?
It’s not as if he has forsaken the Muslim Brotherhood. On the contrary, he is still punishing Sisi for chucking Morsi out.
This is from PJ Media, by P. David Hornik:
Again, those disturbing questions about whose side the president is on.
A disturbing report by Avi Issacharoff, one of Israel’s leading Middle East analysts, notes that Egypt is now under assault by ISIS from two directions — from its own Sinai Peninsula to the northeast and from the state of Libya, or what’s left of it, to the West.
It was last month that 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians living in Libya were kidnapped by ISIS and subjected to a mass beheading on a beach. In response to that violent episode, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi ordered airstrikes against ISIS in Libya.
And in Sinai, Egyptian forces trying to tame the region have been hit by at least three ISIS terror attacks just last week. The trouble, Issacharoff notes, is that “precisely during these difficult days for the Egyptians, Washington is delaying military assistance deliveries to Cairo . . .”
The Obama administration has held a deep grudge against the government ever since Sisi, backed by a massive popular revolt, overthrew Egypt’s short-lived Muslim Brotherhood regime in July 2013. The administration reacted by embargoing arms — even though Egypt had been a longstanding U.S. ally and Sisi’s is a nonradical, anti-terror government.
It was Sisi who, when recently addressing an audience of Sunni clerics at Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, called for a more moderate Islam that would not “want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants.”
Soon after, Sisi took the unprecedented step for an Egyptian leader of attending mass at a Coptic church.
Sisi also appears likely to keep the peace between Egypt and Israel. The two countries are tacitly collaborating against terror both in Sinai and Gaza, as Sisi cracks down hard on a common enemy — Hamas.
None of this is meant to say that Sisi is an angel who has brought democracy to Egypt by waving a magic wand. Seemingly, though, he deserves better treatment from Washington.
Things did seem to be improving last September when Washington said it was going through with a sale of ten Apache helicopters to Egypt. But since then … [Obama] has been making it increasingly difficult for Cairo to make additional military purchases. For example, the US is delaying the shipment of tanks, spare parts and other weapons that the army desperately needs in its war against Islamic State.
So why is it? Why is an administration that seemingly has made fighting ISIS one of its missions choking off a would-be friendly state under ISIS assault?
The administration’s coziness with the Brotherhood — the incubus of modern Sunni terror, subject of a possible imminent crackdown in Britain — is well known (see, for instance, here and here). Thus, is the punishment for overthrowing a Brotherhood regime — even when that overthrow was backed by the most massive popular protest in history — getting thrown to the dogs amid an ISIS siege?
“According to an Egyptian official,” says Issacharoff, “the formal explanation [for the arms cutoff] is that Cairo does not respect human rights.”
As mentioned, Sisi has not transformed beleaguered Egypt into the Arab world’s first model democracy. Still, the idea that Egypt is being punished for human-rights failings is peculiar especially in light of reports of severe abuses by U.S.- (and Iran-) supported Shiite militias fighting ISIS in Iraq.
ABC now reports that “U.S.-trained and armed Iraqi military units, the key to the American strategy against ISIS, are under investigation for committing some of the same atrocities as the terror group…” Compared to such forces, let alone the Iranian regime itself, Sisi’s government is indeed a very mild human rights culprit (not to mention Egypt’s deposed Muslim Brotherhood regime, which was hardly a human rights beacon).
For a list of “human rights violations” in Egypt since the fall of Hosni Mubarak, first under the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), and then under the presidency of Mohamed Morsi, go here.
The situation is also parallel in some respects to the administration’s arms cutoff to Israel while it was fighting Hamas in Gaza last summer. … A similar message came through: that being a U.S.- and Western-aligned country that is fighting terror is no guarantee of sympathy from the Obama administration.
The administration’s strange behavior at present — supporting ISIS-fighting forces on one front that are just as barbaric as ISIS; denying support to much more moderate ISIS-fighting forces on another front — can perhaps be explained in terms of moral confusion, of difficulty distinguishing between friends and enemies.
Or perhaps in terms of something darker.