For the first time in the 1,000-day civil war, the Americans find themselves in greater sympathy with Russia, Iran, Assad and Hizballah than the rebel cause.
According to DebkaFile, Bashar Assad is winning the civil war (or uprising against his dictatorship). So the Obama administration has stopped supporting the rebels to the extent, and in whatever way they ever did, and is now romancing Bashar Assad. The new policy follows naturally from the exciting new love-in Obama is having with the Shia tyrants of Iran.
The conquest Sunday, Dec. 8, of Nabuk in the Qalamoun Mountains on the Syrian-Lebanese border is a signal strategic breakthrough for Bashar Assad’s army, climaxing a row of battleground successes that have cast the rebel forces into deep disarray. Nabuk fell after a two-week siege by the combined forces of Syria, Hizballah, Iraqi Shiite units and the Iranian Al Qods Brigades. The Qalamoun range which separates central Syria from central Lebanon is at their mercy.
Assad and his allies, Hizballah’s Hassan Nasrallah and Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, can chalk up four major war gains:
1. The highway from Damascus to Syria’s two port towns, Latakia and Tartus on the Mediterranean coast, is now open through the wayside town of Homs.
2. The last remaining rebel supply routes from Lebanon are cut off. Syrian rebels can no longer use Lebanon as a supply base for reinforcements and new recruits or as a destination for their casualties to receive treatment.
3. The Damascus-Beirut highway is now under Hizballah control, providing its Beirut headquarters vitally direct access to the forces posted to Damascus, and easing liaison and communications among Iranian, Syrian and Hizballah military units in the field.
4. Pushing the rebels out of their Qalamoun strongholds was the last step before loosening their two-year grip on the eastern suburbs of Damascus. Under relentless Syrian army siege, many rebel commanders holding on to those suburbs are crossing the lines and handing sectors over to Syrian army officers.
The Assad regime has reached a stage in the civil war at which the rebels no longer pose a military threat to his hold on power and have lost the capacity for more more than terrorist attacks or sporadic mortar shelling.
The Syrian rebel movement has lost its coherence as a fighting force. In desperation, they are releasing a stream of false claims of successes and unfounded accusations that Assad has reverted to chemical warfare. …
Since the only anti-Assad forces still in fighting shape are the two Al Qaeda affiliates, Jabhat al Nusra and the Iraqi branch, Washington is turning its back on the Syrian rebel movement as a whole and instead [is] ready to talk indirectly to Syrian army elements loyal to Assad as well as Hizballah. …
Indeed, in consideration of Hizballah’s military kudos and rising political clout in Beirut, the Obama administration has opened up a back channel to its leaders, mostly through British diplomats.
It turns out that the same coalition which contrived the nuclear deal in Geneva on Nov. 24 – the US, Russia and Iran – is going into action again on the Syrian issue with a favored spot for Iran’s Lebanese Shiite pawn [Hizballah].
We think this DebkaFile report is likely to be true in its main thrust: that US policy has changed, and America is now in alliance with Russia and Iran and in negotiation with one of the world’s most savage terrorist organizations.
And if it is true, it is an enormity – an extreme wrong.
It is not that the rebels are any better than Assad. Both sides are evil. Both sides seem to be peopled by vicious murdering torturing cannibals. Neither should be supported. But Assad is Iran’s client. Hizballah is Iran’s creation. What matters here is the colossal boost to Iranian power. The US has conceded the territory to the mullahs.
Under a pretense by their traitorous leaders that it is better to negotiate than risk a war with belligerent enemies, the American people are being led into capitulation.
Iran will be nuclear armed. Hizballah can claim legitimacy, and the cost to Lebanon and Israel is dreadful to think of. Russia’s power and prestige is being enhanced with each disastrous move Obama makes in the region of the Middle East.
And the US is no longer the protector of the free world. The erstwhile free world no longer has a protector.
America honors her heroes in recognizing Veterans Day, including our brave SEALs.
Mark Baisley spells out what “SEALs” stand for – their name and their cause:
That virtuous moniker is actually an acronym for Sea, Air, And Land, indicating that these guys cover every quarter and every dimension. Members of the United States Navy SEALs are a special kind of human, incredibly smart athletes with unthinkable endurance and unimaginable tolerance for pain. The greatest attribute of a SEAL is devotion.
But in a brand new book, a tragic truth is revealed about the Obama Administration’s unrequited devotion from our most selfless of heroes. Aaron Carson Vaughn is honored by his heartbroken dad in Betrayed, The Shocking True Story of Extortion 17 as told by a Navy SEAL’s Father. The book chronicles the events that led to the death of Aaron Carson Vaughn and was authored by Billy Vaughn, with co-authors Monica Morrill and Cari Blake.
Aaron Carson Vaughn “once wrote a note of assurance to his concerned parents about his chain of command saying, ‘They won’t let me die‘. But they did.
The book details the events of August 6, 2011 in Afghanistan surrounding the shooting down of an American Chinook helicopter that held the evocative name of “Extortion 17″.
A high-value Al-Qaeda leader was pinned down in a village by U.S. Army Rangers. Three hours into the intense ground engagement, Extortion 17 was tasked to carry seventeen SEALs into the battle with the onerous task of capturing the Al-Qaeda leader alive.
The Chinook was operated by a crew of five from the National Guard and carried an additional 22 Navy personnel in support of the elite SEAL team. One Afghan interpreter was also on board and, just before taking off, seven Afghan commandos were curiously assigned to the final flight of Extortion 17.
As the Chinook approached its destination, the enemy could be seen running into a building with a tower that gave them an advantageous shooting position. The two Apache escort helicopters had all the visibility and firepower to resolve the battle before Extortion 17 delivered the SEAL team. But the Apaches were denied permission to attack.
Under the Obama Administration’s new rules of engagement, no strike could be made on that building without assurance that no civilians were inside. The enemy knows these rules, which is why they run into buildings where civilians may be located.
Just as in Gaza, where Hamas terrorists do the same. And PLO fighters in Lebanon used to place their guns on the roofs of schools and hospitals, and use UNRWA schools as arsenals. Such is the honor of the Muslim warrior.
Under the protection of Obama rules, the enemy set up on the tower of the building and shot down Extortion 17 using three rocket-propelled grenades. The Chinook fell to the ground in a tremendous explosion, killing all 30 people on board.
The parents of those SEAL Team members who died were gathered for a briefing and were given hundreds of pages of information from the investigation of the event. Betrayed includes many pages of that original material; material that raised enough unsettling questions that Billy Vaughn wrote a book.
One question asked at the briefing was why, even in the minutes following the shoot-down of Extortion 17, America’s massive firepower was withheld.
Three-star Admiral Robert Harward explained to the parents that a drone strike wasn’t used because, “we need to win their hearts and minds”.
Can a three-star admiral actually believe in such a goal? Did he manage to say it with a straight face?
What the Commander-in-Chief was really after becomes terribly clear only with the knowledge that he put Afghans in command of American troops who were in Afghanistan to defeat Afghans:
Evidently, this policy of social politeness on the battlefront motivated the Obama Administration to relegate authority over American troops under Afghan command one year before the Extortion 17 crash, the greatest loss of U.S. military SEALs in a single incident.
Social politeness? It may look like that. But a commander-in-chief who puts his troops under enemy command is not just being socially polite. He is not trying to “win hearts and minds” like a missionary. He is helping the enemy to win. He is making sure that the enemy will win.
All knowledge, forethought, and mission planning for American troops within that country are under the joint oversight of the Operational Coordination Group, a command of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
And win the enemy did:
While George W. Bush was in office, we were treated to a steady drumbeat of casualty reports. But the silence of American media over the past five years has covered up the fact that far more of our troops have been killed and injured under the Obama Administration’s rules of engagement.
It could not have been otherwise. That’s what those rules of engagement were designed to do.
During the seven years of war in the Bush Administration, 630 Americans died in Afghanistan and 2,638 were wounded in action. During the first four years of the Obama Administration, 1,544 Americans have died in Afghanistan and 15,036 have been wounded in action.
Obama supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. He has invited Muslim Brotherhood members into his administration as advisers and consultants. He is letting Muslim-theocratic Iran become nuclear-armed. He has had all critical references to Islam purged from army training materials. He withdrew all American forces from Iraq so letting Iran become a force of influence in that land whose soil is soaked with American blood. And his crippling rules of engagement have allowed the Taliban back into power in Afghanistan.
But today he will be seen honoring American veterans, in the posture of mourning for the heroic dead:
It seems that Obama views the civil war in Syria and the threats that it involves – including the use of chemical weapons, the growth of Russian influence, Iranian power projection, and the plight of refugees pouring into neighboring Arab countries – chiefly as a nuisance to himself personally. He excuses his inability to grasp the issues and decide on a policy by alleging that all presidents must be similarly baffled and annoyed by foreign affairs.
A New York Times report reveals this – though the reporters don’t seem to realize the implications. Relating the long dismal story of Obama’s vacillations over several years whenever he had to consider what if anything should be done about the Syrian bloodbath, they write:
In private conversations with aides, Mr. Obama described Syria as one of those hellish problems every president faces, where the risks are endless and all the options are bad.
Someone who fully realizes the implications of all such information that leaks out of the White House about what sort of president Barack Obama is, and what sort of man, is Daniel Greenfield. He comments scathingly at Front Page:
Barack Obama, Nobel Peace Prize winner, takes going to war every bit as seriously as you would expect.
Even as the debate about arming the [Syrian] rebels took on a new urgency, Mr. Obama rarely voiced strong opinions during senior staff meetings. But current and former officials said his body language was telling: he often appeared impatient or disengaged while listening to the debate, sometimes scrolling through messages on his BlackBerry or slouching and chewing gum.
Obama slept while Americans died in Benghazi because he was prepping to go party in Vegas with Jay-Z. And if Americans weapons fall into the hands of Al Qaeda and end up being used to kill Americans, then while that was being discussed we can take comfort in the fact that the man at the top was taking the time to chew gum, roll his eyes and scroll through his radical pals’ latest Facebook updates.
What did Obama say about Putin again?
The New York Times is reporting that an anonymous source described Russian President Vladimir Putin as “infuriated” when Obama described Putin’s body language “like the bored kid in the back of the classroom.”
Right back atcha, Putin might have said.
Our ridiculous foreign policy is supervised by a ridiculous man-child with more self-esteem than brains who can’t be bothered to pay attention when lives are on the line because his own entertainment comes first.
It’s no surprise that the parents of the Americans murdered in Benghazi have yet to receive a straight answer from Obama. He doesn’t care. That gets in the way of his “Me Time” playing golf and vacationing and partying with music stars and celebs.
War? He’ll show up and play with his phone and then say, “Yes” or “No” or “Let’s think about this some more” and hit the links.
We do not think the US should interfere directly in Syria. There is no good side in that internecine turmoil. But we think America should have a Middle East policy that treats Iran as a threat, Russia as a danger, the Muslim Brotherhood and all its offshoots including al-Qaeda and Hamas as enemies, and Israel as an ally.
Until the end of World War I, the states of Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan did not exist. The territory they now cover had been part of the Empire of the Ottoman Turks for some 400 years. The names Syria and Mesopotamia designated Middle Eastern regions of the Ottoman Empire, roughly where Syria and Iraq are now.
In World War I the Turks were allies of Germany. The Arabs were loyal to their Ottoman overlords, and were also on Germany’s side.
But the British incited sedition among some of them, bribing a man in high religious office to head a rebellion. The inducement they offered him was power and glory: rule of an Arab independency of undefined dimensions.
The man was Hussein Ibn Ali, of the clan of the Hashemites and the tribe of the Quraish, Sharif of the Holy City of Mecca, putatively a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad.
The British gave him arms, supplies, subsidies and advisers. When he asked also for a firm definition of his dream-kingdom, the British High Commissioner in Cairo, Sir Henry McMahon, sent him a “clarification” in a letter dated 24 October 1915, in which he made it clear that he could not make it clear. The British, he explained, could not promise territory to Hussein which the French might claim, and they did not know what the French might claim.
In 1916 the British and French agreed, in a secret document known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement, on how they would divide up the territory between them once they had conquered it from the Turks. It was against the spirit of the times, when high principles were asserted against the old ideas of empire; principles which President Wilson of the United States set out in 14 points and became enshrined on the Covenant of the League of Nations. The new ideal was that never again would great powers impose their will on smaller nations.
In 1918, the British made another promise to the Arabs. It is known as The Declaration to the Seven. The “Seven” were from the Syrian region. They went to Cairo to ask the British what their intentions were in the Middle East. They were given a pledge that Britain would recognize “the complete and sovereign independence of any Arab area emancipated from Turkish control by the Arabs themselves”. It was an uncharacteristically precise promise.
It prompted the self-dramatizing Englishman, Colonel T.E.Lawrence, who had a highly romantic view of the Arabs (a view that has polluted the atmosphere of the British Foreign Office ever since), to exert himself to lead Hussein’s forces to a decisive victory. He marched them to Damascus, but the Australian Light Horse Brigade got there first, and took the city from the Turks. Lawrence persuaded the British to pretend that his Arabs had conquered the city. So the British ordered the Australians to drift out and let the Arabs march in. This set a really bad precedent by which the Arabs expected always to have a fictional version of reality replace any facts on the ground which inconvenienced them. It also gave the Arabs as a whole a false understanding of their own military power and achievements. (If they had beaten the mighty Turks at Damascus, how could they not be victorious against the new little Jewish state of Israel in 1948?)
When the British, French, and Americans won the Second World War, the British set about fulfilling – more or less – their promise to Hussein.
Hussein himself already ruled the Hejaz. His son Ali was his heir to that kingdom. (They were, however, to lose it in 1924,when Abdul Aziz al Saud conquered it. Saud was to join the Hejaz and the Nejd together and found a new state, Saudi Arabia, named after himself, in 1932.) But new kingdoms were created by the British for Hussein’s other sons, Abdullah and Faisal. They were to be called Syria and Iraq.
They made Faisal King of of the new state of Syria, and proposed to put Abdullah on the throne of a new state of Iraq.
Faisal ruled Syria only from March to April, 1920. The French knocked him off his throne and threw him out of the country, whose destiny they claimed was rightfully in their hands. (The French were granted mandates over Syria and Lebanon.)
The British had to find another throne for Faisal, so they made him King of Iraq instead of his brother, and then considered what they could for Abdullah.
What remained in their power to give away – or so they made out – was an area of the Ottoman Empire to which the ancient Romans had given the name Palestine when it was still part of their empire. In July 1922, the League of Nations granted Britain a mandate (also agreed on at the San Remo peace conference in 1920) over the Palestine region. The British pleaded that they needed it in order to carry out a promise they had made, in the Balfour Declaration of 1917, to let the region become a National Home for the Jews. According to the terms of the Mandate they were to “settle Jews closely on the land”. But when they were confronted by the problem of Abdullah being kingdom-less, they found that there was no need to let Jews settle closely on all the land. So they presented three-quarters of it, stretching eastward from the River Jordan to a chosen line in the desert, to Abdullah and called it the Emirate of Transjordan.
All the newly created Arab states fell short of Arab dreams. One was to flourish fairly well as a monarchy: the Emirate of Transjordan renamed itself the Kingdom of Jordan in 1949, when the Arab armies had failed to crush the new state of Israel, but the Transjordanian forces – known as the Arab Legion, under the able command of a British officer, John Bagot Glubb, better known as Glubb Pasha - had advanced across the River Jordan and taken control of what has ever since been called the “West Bank”. (Israel conquered it in its defensive war of 1968.)
The French held a mandate over Syria until July 1941. In September 1936, a treaty of independence was negotiated, but the French Legislature would not ratify it. Only when the British and Free French beat the forces of Vichy France in Syria and Lebanon in the Second World War, did Syria become an independent republic. But coups and attempted coups followed hot on each other, and the state was extremely unstable.
The Kingdom of Iraq also had a history of instability with numerous uprisings, massacres and assassinations. In 1958 the monarchy came to an end. The king, Faisal II, was eleven years old. His uncle, Abd al-Ilah, was regent. He was an ambitious man. He had plans to dominate an Arab unity embracing Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Kuwait. In February 1958 he achieved a union between Iraq and Jordan, the two remaining Hashemite kingdoms. This was intolerable to the president of Egypt, Jamal Abd al-Nasser, who had just created a union of Egypt and Syria in the same month. The union of Egypt and Syria under Nasser’s domination was intolerable to Abd al-Ilah.
Nasser had nationalized the Suez canal. Britain and France, who were joint shareholders in the Canal, lost their ownership of it. Nasser closed it to Israeli shipping. Israel saw this as a cause for war. Britain and France arranged with Israel that Israeli forces would strike into the Sinai on 29 October 1956, and they would invade Egypt on the pretext of restoring peace between the belligerents. President Eisenhower – unwisely – put a stop to the invasion when it had only just begun. America’s intervention allowed Nasser to pretend that he had won a victory, and felt encouraged to pursue his pan-Arab dream.
On February 1 1958, the union of Egypt and Syria as the United Arab Republic (UAR) came into being, with Cairo as its capital and Nasser as its president. Yemen was added a month later to form a confederation called the United Arab States.
Nasser’s agents and sympathizers went to work throughout the Middle East to spread his national socialist ideology. In Baghdad officers sympathetic to “Nasserism” plotted the destruction of the Iraqi monarchy. In 1958, under pro-Nasserite leadership, a contingent of Iraqi troops despatched by the Regent to quell a pro-Nasser uprising and civil war in Lebanon (actually put down by US forces) turned instead on their own ruling house. At dawn on 14 July 1958, the boy-king Faisal was murdered, along with his grandmother, his aunt, and others in the palace, including a helpless harmless orphan boy who lived with them.
Abd al-Ilah was dragged through the streets of Baghdad tied with ropes to the back of a truck, then – whether still alive or not when the tuck stopped – his body was dismembered with axes and his limbs and head tossed about by the hysterical mob. His trunk was hung from a balcony and chunks of its flesh were sliced off and thrown to the crowd below. The Prime Minister, Nuri al-Said, disguised himself as a woman and tried to escape, but he was caught and killed, and his body flung down on a busy street to be driven over, squashed and broken by the cars full of exulting motorists. His successor too was murdered after five years in power, and his body was fed to dogs.
In 1961, Syria revolted against Egypt’s domination and reasserted its independence. So the UAE was dissolved, and Yemen released. Hafez Assad became president of Syria in 1971. Under his dictatorship, and after him the dictatorship of his son Bashar Assad, rebellion has been put down with ruthless massacres.
Or not put down, as is the case now that civil war rages; or war waged by numerous militias and terrorist groups against the forces of the state. There is no reason to expect a peaceful or stable Syria to emerge out of the chaos, whether Great Powers intervene or not. The Syrians have no precedent for peace and stability in their young unhappy country.
Jillian Becker September 9, 2013
So it’s coming – war? The big one?
As the Syrian war rages on – now a religious battle between Sunnis and Shiites as much as an armed rebellion against Bashar Assad’s tyranny – the Russians have offered troops to replace the withdrawing Austrian contingent of the UN’s “peace keeping” force on the Golan border between Syria and Israel. It looks likely that Fijian troops will be preferred by the UN, but Putin is nevertheless going ahead and preparing a Golan brigade. He is committed to helping the Syrian dictator Bashar Assad by supplying advanced weaponry, and he has warships near the Syrian coast.
At this juncture, Obama has decided that the US must send military aid to the rebels, composed of al-Qaeda affiliated and Muslim Brotherhood Sunnis. Assad himself is an Alawite, but his main support comes from Shia Iran and Iran’s Shia proxy, Hezbollah.
We quote from the (British) Mail Online .
The chilling headlines:
Could Syria ignite World War 3? That’s the terrifying question as the hatred between two Muslim ideologies sucks in the worlds superpowers.
- Syrian conflict could engulf region in struggle between Sunni and Shia
- Already claimed 93,000 lives and made 1.6million people refugees
- UK, France and U.S. taken different side to China and Russia
The article proceeds:
The crisis in Syria may appear to be no more or less than a civil war in a country many people would struggle to place on a map.
But it’s much more than that: it is rapidly becoming a sectarian struggle for power that is bleeding across the Middle East, with the potential to engulf the entire region in a deadly power struggle between two bitterly opposed Muslim ideologies, Sunni and Shia.
Already, the war inside Syria has resulted in 93,000 dead and 1.6 million refugees, with millions more displaced internally. And those figures are escalating rapidly amid reports of appalling atrocities on both sides.
Fearing that Syria faced the kind of protests that had toppled the rulers of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya during the “Arab Spring”, Bashar al-Assad’s security forces used tanks and gunfire to crush the demonstrations. But it only stoked the fires.
The opposition developed into an armed insurgency, and now Syria has been engulfed in a civil war which has degenerated into a vicious sectarian conflict.
On one side are those who follow President Assad, who belongs to the Alawites — a splinter sect from Shia Islam.
On the other are a loose affiliation of insurgents drawn from the majority Sunni population, some of whom have close links to the Sunni jihadists of Al Qaeda.
The level of savagery is appalling. This week, up to 60 Shia Muslims were reported to have been slaughtered in an attack by opposition fighters in the eastern Syrian city of Hatla. …
Syria might fragment into three or four pieces on sectarian lines, with anyone marooned in the wrong enclave liable to face vicious ethnic cleansing.
And because the conflict is driven by religion, it could easily leap Syria’s frontiers to draw in regional powers.
So who is aligned with whom? Broadly speaking, Assad is supported by Iran (the main Shia power in the Middle East) and its militant Lebanese ally, the terrorist group Hezbollah.
The latter is Iran’s main weapon in any fight with Israel.
As a result, Assad is advised (and protected) by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, and there are also between 5,000 and 8,000 seasoned Hezbollah fighters inside Syria. …
The forces against Assad are joined by thousands of fighters flooding the country every week from across the region.
The rebels have also benefited from the ferocious will-to-die of an Islamist group called Jabhat al-Nusra, which is allied with Al Qaeda in Iraq.
Many more rebels are Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood persuasion.
They are supported with guns and money from Sunni states such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Such are the complex connections between modern nations, and the globalised nature of international politics, that repercussions could be felt around the world.
What happens in Syria affects Israel, with which it shares a militarised border on the Golan Heights. …
Although President Obama wants to downgrade America’s involvement in the Middle East now the U.S. can rely on reserves of cheap shale oil and gas at home, his own somewhat ostentatious concern for human rights keeps sucking him back in to side with the rebels.
We would correct that to (newly appointed Ambassador to the UN) Samantha Power’s and (newly appointed National Security Adviser) Susan Rice’s concern to be concerned gives Obama the excuse he needs to side with the rebels.
Why do we say “excuse”? In his role as pacifist and demilitarizer he is reluctant to have the US actively involved in another war so soon after the Iraq war ended and the Afghanistan war started winding down. But he is (we are convinced) on the side of the Arabs in their endless hostility to Israel, and he is a consistent supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood (sending, for instance, lavish aid to the MB government in Egypt). We guess he would not be sorry to see a Sunni victory – or an Israeli defeat. Regardless of his own prejudices, however, the US has commitments to NATO.
That ["concern for human rights"] is also broadly the position of Britain and France, whose leaders seem swayed by lurid and unverified social media footage of atrocities.
But while leading NATO nations line up in sympathy with the rebels, on the other side President Assad is being backed by Russia — a long-time friend of Syria — and by China.
Russia and China feel they were tricked by the West over the way the Libyan regime was overthrown with Western aid two years ago, and are determined Assad won’t be ousted and murdered like Gaddafi.
The war in Syria therefore has had a destabilising effect on the entire region, and could exert a terrifying domino effect as states disintegrate.
Whether such a nightmare scenario can be avoided — and global superpowers can be persuaded to keep their powder dry — we must wait to see with baited breath.
Obama, having said that if Assad used chemical weapons he would be crossing a “red line”, and having now acknowledged that sarin gas has been used, announced that the US will provide military aid to the Syrian rebels.
While there’s nothing new about the US aiding the Muslim Brotherhood (lavish aid to Egypt’s MB government is a case in point), it will be a strange development for the US to be allied with al-Qaeda. (How, we wonder will the survivors and bereft families of 9/11 feel about it?)
The most fearsome fact is that the powers are lined up now as the Mail reports: China and Russia on the side of the Shias, Britain and France and the US – which is to say NATO – on the side of the Sunnis. And the West cannot allow Russia and China to become dominant powers on the edge of the Mediterranean.
… instead of doing its job, defined by the UN as keeping southern Lebanon free of Hizbollah, and preventing that huge terrorist organization from re-arming.
The hobby lessons are paid for in large part by US tax payers.
This is from PJ Media, by Claudia Rosett – the most reliable authority on all things UN:
The news is full of reports that Israeli air strikes have targeted Iranian-supplied missiles in Syria, which Israeli officials believe were intended for Hezbollah — Iran’s satellite terrorist organization in Lebanon. Midway through a New York Times story on this development comes a reminder that:
“Hezbollah is now believed to have more missiles and fighters than it had before its 2006 battle with Israel, when Hezbollah missiles forced a third of Israel’s population into shelters and hit as far south as Haifa.”
“More missiles” may be putting it modestly. In 2011, Israeli authorities said that Hezbollah had rearmed to the extent of amassing more than three times the weapons it had prior to the 2006 war. Supplementing their allegations with detailed maps, Israeli officials charged that Hezbollah had created a network across southern Lebanon of almost 1,000 rocket and missile facilities, including 550 bunkers and 100 weapons storage units.
All of which raises the question of what’s going on with the UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, known as UNIFIL (UN Interim Force in Lebanon). UNIFIL was beefed up, at significant cost, after the 2006 war, with the professed aim of ensuring that Hezbollah would not rearm. As spelled out in 2006 in UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which was supposed to secure peace, UNIFIL’s mandate included helping Lebanon’s armed forces ensure that southern Lebanon, bordering on Israel, would be — to quote from the UNIFIL web site — “an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL deployed in the area.” …
Obviously … that mandate for ensuring an area free of Hezbollah munitions has not worked out. …
UNIFIL remains in southern Lebanon, on an annual budget now totaling almost $550 million (more than 27% of that funded by U.S. taxpayers), with more than 11,000 peacekeeping troops. …
“So,” Claudia Rosett asks rhetorically, “what is UNIFIL doing?” And she tells us:
Well, they are embodying diversity, with troops from 38 countries. They have put out a 2013 calendar featuring “Women of UNIFIL.” And according to UNIFIL’s web site, they have been providing quite an array of services to the local community:
“UNIFIL contingents provide free medical, dental, veterinary and such other assistance to the local population.” Beyond that. they have been providing training programs for the locals, “in such fields as computers, languages, bread making, knitting, yoga, taekwondo and so on.”
So, while UNIFIL has proved unable to stop Hezbollah from amplifying its previous military facilities into a warren of hundreds of bunkers stuffed with thousand of rockets and missiles, UNIFIL has been toiling away to provide everything from computer instruction to free medical care to yoga, knitting, and taekwondo lessons to the local population that hosts these Hezbollah weapons facilities. Should we really call this peacekeeping? Sounds more like free services for Hezbollah.
The UN must be destroyed.
What is Israel doing about the massive arming of Hezbollah?
The following paragraph is a digest of quotations from this article, and was first posted on our TAC Facebook page:
[Yesterday, May 5, 2013] Israel conducted a second round of strikes in three days on advanced weapons including Iranian F-110 weapons bound for Hizballah in transit at Damascus international airport. Syrian TV reported only an attack on the Jamraya military research center just north of Damascus. This was the same facility which Israeli planes attacked in January. Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said that the strike on Syria overnight represented a “declaration of war” by Israel. Russian and Iranian media earlier predicted full-scale Middle East hostilities involving Israel erupting in the coming hours, in the wake of Israel’s renewed strikes against Iranian missiles bound for Hizballah and other targets around Damascus. Russian sources reported rumors that President Bashar Assad was on the point of declaring war on Israel. Russia Today claimed that an Israeli rocket strike caused heavy Syrian casualties – according to rumors, at least 300 members of the Syrian Army’s 501st Unit dead and hundreds filling four Damascus hospitals. If this is confirmed, then the unit which operates the chemical weapon facility at the Barzeh district north of Damascus at the foot of Mt. Qassioun was hit. Israel’s security cabinet holds emergency session.
Here is Bret Stephens delivering a captivating speech.
The video runs for over 40 minutes, and deserves to be watched for every moment of it.
Jillian Becker comments on just one point:
“It is a cruel misunderstanding of youth to imagine that the heart of man’s desire is to be free. The heart of man’s desire is to obey.”
Bret Stephens quotes this aperçu from Thomas Mann’s huge novel The Magic Mountain. It is spoken by one of the characters, and Stephens believes it to be true.
Yes, many people – even most perhaps – like to be told what to do. They seek leaders, authorities who can and will instruct and direct them, and take responsibility for what then happens; who will give them purposes and causes and reasons, a meaning for their existence.
But it is also true that there is in human nature a perpetual, irrepressible longing for freedom, for self-determination; an impulse to shake off shackles and restrictions, to spread wings and fly.
The contradictions within human nature contend with each other in The Magic Mountain. It is the great novel of the twentieth century, and I endorse what Stephens says about its relevance to our time. A monumental achievement, it is one of the rare works of fiction to which the word “profound” can be – must be – applied.
The story is set in and around a Swiss alpine sanatorium for the treatment of tuberculosis.
The most important themes Thomas Mann deals with are raised in a debate, carried on day after day through many seasons, between two men who have come to the mountain to be cured of the disease: an Italian rationalist named Settembrini and a Jewish Jesuit (sic) named Naphta. They argue in the presence of the protagonist of the novel, a young man who comes in good health to visit a cousin undergoing the cure at the sanatorium, but stays too long and becomes infected. Settembrini and Naphta vie with each other to win him over, each to his own vision. Their argument is a dialogue of reason with faith, of humanism with nihilism, of science with mysticism, of candor with dissimulation, of restraint with voluptuousness, of classical skepticism with romantic passion, of Life with Death. The statement Stephens quotes is made by Naphta. Youth “feels its deepest pleasure in obedience”, he opines. He means obedience not to the benign orders of a just elder, but to a sinister force: “The order for the day is terror.” Finally, their altercations and rivalry lead them to a duel with pistols. Settembrini, unwilling to kill, fires into the air, upon which Naphta is convulsed with fury and turns his gun on himself. It is the completely logical, only possible, denouement.
Naphta is not, of course, the author’s mouthpiece, though Mann provides him with powerful arguments. Settembrini’s case, though a far better one, is not allowed to be indisputably right in every respect – idealism and reality never being in perfect harmony.
The book ends with the outbreak of the First World War. The reader is brought to ponder the idea that that vast slaughter was an outcome of a deep Settembrini-Naphta conflict in the heart of European man. A failure of reason and an infection of incurable depravity prepared a feast for Death.
A final note: Thomas Mann based Naphta on Georg Lukács, the Hungarian Communist, literary critic, theatre director, and Commissar for Education and Culture in the short-lived red republic set up in Hungary in 1919. In my own slight satirical novel L: A Novel History, I based my anti-hero Louis Zander also on Georg Lukács. My fascination with him was aroused in the first place by the character of Naphta. This post is linked to the Facebook page of L: A Novel History, where much more about the book may be found.
Bashar Assad, Dictator of Syria, is a cruel man. Most dictators are. He’s a cool mass murderer, as his father was before him. Holding on to power seems to be his only aim, however small the Syrian nation may be that eventually remains for him to exercize power over.
A part of the oppressed nation is now rebelling against him in diverse fighting factions, not a co-ordinated force under a single command. For some reason we cannot figure out, the Western powers want this rabble of rebels to succeed in overthrowing Assad. They must imagine that whichever faction leader supplants Assad will be a better dictator. They surely cannot expect him not to be a dictator at all. As with the rebel rabbles in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya they spoke of the insurgent masses as aspiring democrats, thirsting for liberty. They helped rebels to topple sitting dictators. They applauded when, the old dictators gone, temporary authorities smiling like crocodiles presided over Western-style elections. It was a grand show, a political charade. The result has been new oppressors coming to power in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya.
Why do we of little faith suppose that the same result will come about in Syria? Might there not be a faction among the rebels there which has a humane, tolerant sort of leader, one who respects human life, abominates torture, wants more nursery schools, cleaner hospitals, a better transport system, and genuine friendship with the West?
What is known about the rebel groups? Anything at all? We’ve heard that there are al-Qaeda affiliates among them. How big? Growing or shrinking? How armed and by whom?
We found some answers in an article by Jackson Diehl, deputy editor of the editorial page of the Washington Post. (Surprisingly, it is critical of President Obama.)
For more than a year, the Obama administration has been assuring the world that the downfall of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad is “a matter of time.” Yes, its own Middle East experts warned, but how much time matters. The longer the fighting goes on, they said, the more likely it is that what began as a peaceful mass opposition movement would be hijacked by extremists, including allies of al-Qaeda.
President Obama ignored that advice, ruling out measures that could have quickly brought down the regime — such as a no-fly zone — in favor of a year of feckless diplomacy. But it turned out the experts were right. So now the consequence of Obama’s passivity has a name, one that will surely haunt the occupant of the White House in 2013: Jabhat al-Nusra.
Actually, the full name of the Middle East’s latest jihadist terror movement, announced on an al-Qaeda-linked Web site last January, is Jabhat al-Nusra li-Ahl al-Sham Min Mujaheddin al Sham fi Sahat al Jihad, which means “Support Front for the People of Syria from the Mujaheddin of Syria in the places of Jihad.”
It was dismissed at first as a hoax, or maybe as a concoction of Assad’s intelligence service. Now its black flag is recognized, and often cheered, across Syria, and its bearded, baggy-pantalooned fighters are at the forefront of the critical battle for the city of Aleppo.
In the spring Jabhat al-Nusra had maybe 50 adherents, most of them in hiding, and had claimed credit for only a handful of attacks. Now it may have close to 1,000 core followers, and fighting units around Syria have begun openly claiming to belong to it. On YouTube, videos show the residents of areas taken over by the rebels waving its flag and chanting its name.
“They have been able to take an extremist identity and really give it a popular following in a context of bloody civil war,” says Elizabeth O’Bagy, the author of a sobering study of Syria’s jihadists for the Institute for the Study of War. “They have become the most significant threat to long-term stability in Syria.”
“Stability in Syria.” There was stability of a kind under Assad dictatorship. One of the abiding mysteries is why persons in the West want stability at any cost in regions of wretchedness such as the Arab Middle East. Whether stable or in the throes of revolution, wretchedness is the norm and survival is precarious. But we value Elizabeth O’Bagy’s information that this al-Qaeda affiliated faction has become most significant.
Was it to them the murdered US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and the large CIA operation set up in Benghazi, were organizing the shipment of arms through Turkey? (See our post Obama the arms broker to al-Qaeda, October 26, 2012.) To what extent has aid and encouragement from the Obama administration helped Jabhat al-Nusra to grow?
Jackson Diehl anticipates our question and replies:
No, Barack Obama’s policies alone did not create this monster. [Our emphasis.] It is, first of all, a creature of Assad’s own regime, blowback from his years of sponsoring terrorist networks in Lebanon, Iraq and the Palestinian territories. For more than a decade, Syrian intelligence allowed al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups to establish bases and logistical networks to support attacks on American troops in Iraq, anti-Syrian politicians in Lebanon, and Israel. Now many of those rat lines have been reversed, and the extremists are targeting Assad.
He sponsored their training and arming. Now the beast he has fattened is turning on him. It’s a perfect vignette of Middle Eastern chaos.
They do so because they were never his natural allies — Assad’s Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, is considered heretical by the Sunni jihadists — and because they see an opening to rebuild a movement that was shattered in Iraq and Afghanistan.
One of the first contingents to bolster Jabhat al-Nusra, O’Bagy found, came from Fatah al Islam, a former Syrian intelligence client that launched a battle in 2007 to take over a Palestinian refugee camp near Tripoli, Lebanon. “These individuals,” O’Bagy writes, “received training in weapons and insurgency tactics from the Syrian government and gained experience using them in Iraq and Lebanon. They also have knowledge of and connections to the Syrian intelligence and security apparatus.”
In fact, the group has specialized in attacks on intelligence facilities. On Oct. 9, it staged a sophisticated, three-stage assault on an air force intelligence compound outside Damascus. Earlier in the month, it claimed credit for a string of bombings in Aleppo that targeted an officer’s club and other government-held facilities, reportedly killing dozens.
The rebel groups are not even willingly co-operating with each other. Only for the moment they fight together because they have the common aim of toppling the tyrant Assad.
Leaders of the Free Syrian Army, the mainstream rebel force that emerged from the original protest movement, don’t support the jihadists or their tactics. But as the war in cities like Aleppo becomes more desperate, Jabhat al-Nusra has provided precious reinforcements. Thanks to generous support from sources in Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states, its units are often better-armed than secular forces …
We note in passing that this al-Qaeda linked faction is generously supported by the Saudis. But we stop to consider what O’Bagy says next -
… which have been starved by Obama’s ban on U.S. weapon supplies.
“Obama’s ban on U.S. weapon supplies.” So to whichever factions Ambassador Stevens and the CIA were getting or trying to get arms, whether to the “secular” forces or the al-Qaeda affiliates or both, Obama was subverting his own policy? If that is so, it can be no wonder that he is trying to cover up the disaster in Libya.
The result, says O’Bagy, is that the character of Syria’s opposition has changed. “It’s no longer a pro-democracy force trying to bring down a dictatorship. It no longer holds the moral high ground. They have muddied the waters.”
“No longer a pro-democracy force”. Was it ever?
The Washington Post article ends on a note of dire warning:
If the war drags on, Jabhat al-Nusra will surely grow stronger. … It could try to get hold of Syria’s abundant stocks of chemical weapons. And it could start looking beyond Syria for targets. You might say it’s a matter of time.
Does Obama have the faintest idea of what he has got America into? Does Defense Secretary Panetta? Or CIA chief General Petraeus? Or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton?
We very much doubt it.
More US embassies were attacked today by Muslim mobs.
Muslim leaders deliberately stoked up the flames of riot on 9/11 and again today. They needed a pretext and by a stroke of luck they found one in a movie. It was sent as a gift to the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt, through the Egyptian media, by a brainless American member of the minority it is persecuting, Coptic Christians. (Will not the Copts in Egypt pay dearly for it?) Others of the group made the film – and maliciously alleged that it was made by Jews.
This is from (Glenn Beck’s) The Blaze:
Protests in the Middle East that are being blamed on an anti-Islamic and anti-Muhammad film continue to rage. And as details unfold about the shadowy figures behind the film, the plot thickens. This morning, The Blaze provided more details about Steve Klein, a man who served as a spokesman for the film. And last night, we learned more about Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the filmmaker involved who has a criminal past.
Now, information is coming out about the man who is said to have intentionally translated and sent the video to Egyptian media, thus allegedly sparking a portion of the outrage. Since the initial violent reaction to the video emerged on September 11, many have wondered how the film came to the attention of Middle Eastern media and citizens, alike.
Religion News Service (RNS) is reporting that Morris Sadek, an Egyptian-born Coptic Christian, translated the movie into Arabic and sent it to Egyptian journalists. He also allegedly promoted it on his web site and through social media, the outlet reports. RNS has more about his background:
Morris Sadek describes himself as a human rights attorney and president of a small group called the National American Coptic Assembly, based in Chantilly, Va. Sadek says on his website that he is a member of the Egyptian and District of Columbia bar associations who has “defended major human rights cases” …
But fellow Copts depict Sadek as a fringe figure and publicity hound whose Islamophobic invectives disrupt Copts’ quest for equal rights in Egypt.
The film is very badly made and acted, but at least it denigrates Islam. And neither its quality nor intention are important. Everyone in America is free to make a good or bad film with any intention whatsoever. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula the film-maker, Steve Klein the “spokesman for the film”, and Morris Sadek who translated the dialogue into Arabic and sent the thing to Egyptian journalists are very small fry indeed in the drama of chaos and destruction that is unfolding.
It is the use of the film by Islamic leaders to arouse Muslim mobs to riot, burn, wreck, assault and murder that is evil. Those leaders are guilty of the havoc, the fire and the spilt blood, but they could only do what they’re doing because the present American leadership prepared the way for them.
The events that are shaking the pillars of the world would have happened anyway, because Obama and his administration have over and over again by actions and by words, from his first speech abroad as president in Cairo in 2009 to Hillary Clinton’s speech yesterday, impressed on Muslims the world over that they have been injured by America. And this despite the fact that Islam initiated war on America and is relentlessly pursuing it.
There could be no stronger reason to impeach and severely punish a president of the United States. It almost certainly won’t happen, but it should.
UNRWA, The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, is an organization that exists solely to keep millions of Palestinians as stateless dependents, or as cossetted beggars to put it more bluntly. This cruel policy was decided upon by Arab leaders way back in the late 1940s, in order to bludgeon Israel and the West with their own sense of compassion – the Arabs themselves having no such bothersome thing – and the Western powers have gone along with it ever since. How many more generations must be condemned to this fate?
Mark Kirk, the Republican US Senator from Illinois, recently decided it was time for questions to be asked about the ever-growing numbers of Palestinian “refugees”.
Cliff May wrote on May 31, 2012, at the National Review:
Last week the Senate Appropriations Committee, on a unanimous and bipartisan basis, approved legislation requiring the State Department to tell Congress how many of the five million Palestinians currently receiving assistance from UNRWA were among the approximately 750,000 individuals displaced during the war against Israel, and how many are their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A statement from Kirk’s office explained that, “With U.S. taxpayers providing more than $4 billion to UNRWA since 1950, the watershed reporting requirement will help taxpayers better understand whether UNRWA truly remains a refugee assistance organization or has become a welfare agency for low-income residents of the Levant.”
Kirk’s legislation was strenuously opposed not just by UNRWA but also by the State Department.
- And by Patrick Leahy, Democratic Senator from Vermont.
Daniel Greenfield writes at Canada Free Press:
“I always look at what is in the United States’ interest first and foremost, and this would hurt the United States’ interests,” Senator Leahy stated firmly.
It is of course difficult to find as compelling a national interest as the UNRWA, a refugee agency created exclusively for the benefit of five million Arabs, approximately 30,000 of whom are actual refugees, but all of whom hate the United States.
Senator Leahy, who could not discover a national interest in the Balanced Budget Amendment, drilling for oil in ANWR or detaining Muslim terrorists, all of which he voted against, finally discovered a binding national interest 5,500 miles away in Jordan, where “refugee camps” like Baqa’a (pop. 80,000), which are virtually indistinguishable from local towns and cities, complete with block after block of residential homes, stores and markets, multi-story office buildings, schools, hospitals and assorted infrastructure, must not be looked at too closely.
In Jordan, Palestinians from West of the River do actually have citizenship and are not, like the other “refugees”, stateless. (Some two-thirds or maybe even three-quarters of the population of Jordan is native to the region of Palestine as defined under the post World War One British mandate. Jordan is, in fact, the Arab state of Palestine.)
As a city which will soon celebrate its 50 year anniversary, Baqa’a is older than many modern Israeli cities and is as much a refugee camp as any of them. … [But in] Baqa’a no one does anything for themselves because they are all eternal refugees with an entire UN agency dedicated to wiping their bottoms for them. A unique and singular honor in a world full of authentic refugees who have been driven out by rape squads and genocide, without getting their own minders in blue.
Senator Mark Kirk’s heretical proposal to begin reforming the UNRWA by distinguishing between people who could have some claim on being refugees from the vast majority who cannot, met with Leahy’s declaration that … “it would hurt the United States’ interests.”
It is no doubt in the best interests of the denizens of Baqa’a and their Jordanian rulers, who need to spend that much less money taking care of their people, but ignorance certainly doesn’t do the United States and its interests any good. A refusal to seriously examine the books does, however, benefit the UNRWA and politicians like Leahy who continue to support this boondoggle. …
Where exactly is the compelling national interest in standing behind the UNRWA’s 1.23 billion dollar biennial budget, and not just the budget, but a refusal to reform the methodology for accounting where all that money is going to? Before Washington D.C. cuts another quarter-of-a-billion dollar check to one of the biggest wastes of money in an organization that excels at wasting money, even more than D.C., it’s entirely sensible to ask whom the money is going to and how long we will be making out these checks?
There are currently five million people living off the UNRWA dole. Sooner or later there will be fifty million. Jordan’s government has done everything possible to inflate the UNRWA welfare rolls and keep cities like Baqa’a and their people on the Western dole. …
Thomas R. Nides, the Deputy Secretary of State, took a position against the amendment, calling the number of refugees a “Final Status Issue” that can only be resolved when Israel and the PLO militias complete their negotiations, at some unknown date. Diplomats have developed a bad habit of insisting on a dysfunctional status quo tilted toward the Muslim side, until the messiah of final status finally comes. There can be no Jewish housing in Jerusalem, because it’s a final status issue, we can’t count the refugees because it’s a final status issue, and we can’t question the final status, because that too is a final status issue.
After twenty years of negotiations, that have led to nothing except a rump terrorist state that is one big Baqa’a inside Israel, it’s ridiculously clear that there will never be any final status negotiations …
Final status, for all intents and purposes, means forever. It’s an excuse for maintaining Baqa’a and the United Nations budget, and nothing else. But suppose that we might one day look forward to final status negotiations, there is no reason why an objective [question] like what makes one a refugee, cannot be addressed by the nation funding the refugees. Final status agreements cannot defer the dictionary or common sense. And unless we are expected to keep on funding Baqa’a on its 100 year anniversary or its 200 year anniversary, sooner or later the numbers have to be added up, and people whose only claim to the bottomless aid bucket is that their great-grandfather was on the losing side of a war of conquest, started by their side, will have to get a job. …
What conceivable national interest has there ever been in picking up Soviet leftovers like the PLO, and pouring billions of dollars into a sewer, which only spits up more terrorism, hate and chaos? When Senators and Deputy Secretaries talk about national interests, what they really mean is the interest of Muslim monarchies in the Gulf …
The UNRWA, Baqa’a and the PLO aren’t an American interest — they’re a Muslim interest. What Leahy and Nides really mean is that it’s in America’s national interest to cater to Muslim interests. Nides comes closest to saying that, when he writes that cutting UNRWA aid would place a heavy burden on our allies in the region, who despite their billions in oil wealth and their passionate feelings on the subject, somehow can’t be bothered to cover the cost of feeding, teaching and caring for Baqa’a.
The King of Jordan found 1.5 billion dollars to build the Red Sea Astrarium, a local version of Disneyland, but the Hashemite monarchy, like the House of Saud, the Al-Thanis, the House of Sabah, and every other bunch of burnoosed tyrants with palaces and investments across the world, can’t be asked to care for their own people in their 50 year old refugee camps, who are kept that way because it’s an easy way to sock the gullible West for another few billion dollars to fund their terrorist training bases.
Even if there were a valid reason for the United States to champion Muslim interests by carving up Israel in order to create yet another Sunni Muslim state, it would not be a national interest, it would be appeasement. … A foreign policy of feeding other people to the beast, in the hopes that he won’t feed on us, is not a national interest — it’s craven cowardice that has no hope of succeeding. …
The future of the United States will not be secured by turning Washington D.C. into the front office for a bunch of medieval tyrannies that have no future. …
To return to Cliff May’s article, he reports and comments:
There are 1.8 million Palestinians who hold Jordanian citizenship and yet are counted as refugees, despite the fact that under international law — specifically, the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (Article 1C, the “Cessation” Clause) — a person stops being a “refugee” once he “has acquired a new nationality, and enjoys the protection of the country of his new nationality.”
Would anyone suggest that a Pakistani citizen, the descendant of a Muslim who left India following the post–World War II partition of the subcontinent into two states, should be classified as a refugee?
It should be obvious that UNRWA’s beneficiaries are being used as cannon fodder.
- To be kept as beggars forever if the Arab leaders continue to have their way.
Incredible as it must seem to the logical Western mind, the Arab plan is to keep the Palestinian refugees as refugees dependent on hand-outs from the charitable democracies even if they attain a Palestinian state.
They have been told by their own leaders that they will be denied Palestinian citizenship even in a future Palestinian state. “They are Palestinians, that’s their identity,” Abdullah Abdullah, the Palestinian ambassador to Lebanon, stated last year, “but … they are not automatically citizens. … Even Palestinian refugees who are living in [refugee camps] inside the [area of a projected Palestinian] state, they are still refugees. They will not be considered citizens.”
Why not? Because statelessness makes them more lethal weapons of war. Ambassador Abdullah explained: “When we have a state accepted as a member of the United Nations, this is not the end of the conflict. This is not a solution to the conflict. This is only a new framework that will change the rules of the game.”
The end of the “game” being the liquidation of the State of Israel – the goal of the Arabs to which the State Department closes its ears and mind, because to acknowledge it would be to confess that the whole notion of a “peace process” is nothing but a game, a farce, a protracted stupidity. As a policy, the State Department’s obstinate stance helps neither the refugees nor Israel. It prolongs the misery of the one and the insecurity of the other. How it serves the real long-term interests of the United States is impossible to see.