The ancient theatre of Palmyra
This is from GOPUSA:
The historic city of Palmyra has fallen almost entirely under the control of Islamic State, after forces loyal to the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, collapsed under a seven-day siege that has left the magnificent ruins there exposed to near-certain destruction by the terror group.
Not so much a “terror group” – terrifyingly savage though it is – as an Islamic army on the warpath for conquest, subjugation, destruction and loot.
The ancient city, once a Silk Road hub and one of the cultural centres of the ancient world that occupies mythological status in Syria, is home to some of the most beautiful and well-preserved ruins of antiquity, including the Temple of Bel, built in the first century.
Isis considers the preservation of such historical ruins a form of idolatry and has destroyed temples and historic artefacts, as well as ancient Assyrian sites in Nineveh in Iraq, after conquering the province in a lightning offensive last year.
The group has profited from looting historic treasures, in addition to scoring propaganda victories by the wanton destruction of archaeological sites, and Palmyra is likely to face a similar fate now. …
Experts say the group benefits from its destruction of cultural heritage because it shows the militants can act with impunity and exposes the impotence of the international community in the face of the provocations.
Valley of the Tombs: The Royal Necropolis of Ancient Thebes was located south-west of Palmyra in an area called the Valley of the Tombs. This image shows an underground burial chamber for three wealthy brothers
Sunday May 18, the Islamic State (IS/ISIS/ISIL) seized Ramadi, capital of Anwar province in Iraq. The Iraqi forces that had been weakly defending the city, fled along with many civilians – some 8,000 in all. About 500 people, many of them civilians, were killed immediately by the invaders. Newsmax reports: “Bodies, some burned, littered the city’s streets … Online video showed Humvees, trucks and other equipment speeding out of Ramadi, with soldiers desperate to reach safety gripping onto their sides.”
In 2008, Anbar Province – of which Ramadi is the capital – was taken from Saddam Hussein’s forces during Operation Iraqi Freedom. But victory came at a high price: 1,335 U.S. soldiers were killed, and another 8,205 soldiers were wounded and maimed.
All for nothing.
Obama pulled all US troops out of Iraq in 2011. And the Islamic State has come in.
But Obama’s press secretary says the policy towards the Islamic State and Iraq is a success.
This exchange is between ABC’s Jon Karl and a thoroughly dishonest Josh Earnest.
Q Now, on the overall track record of military operations of the President’s strategy on this, you said we’ve seen periods of progress and success. Would you say that overall, this strategy has been a success?
EARNEST: Well, Jon, yes. Overall, yes. It doesn’t mean that there haven’t been areas of setback, as we saw in Ramadi.
Q I mean, is exporting terror to Libya, taking over the capital of Iraq’s largest province — this is overall success?
EARNEST: What we’ve also seen is we’ve also seen a coalition of 60 nations both in the region and around the world join the United States in this fight. We’ve seen a new Prime Minister take office in Iraq and unite that country and deploy a multi-sectarian security force against ISIL that has succeeded in liberating important areas of Diyala and Babil and Nineveh and the Kirkuk Provinces. We’ve seen important Iraqi security force gains in Tikrit and Ramadi. [!] We’ve also seen strategic areas like Sinjar Mountain and Mosul Dam where Iraqi security forces have emerged victorious. So we have seen a lot of success. But we’ve also seen significant periods of setback. And that’s part of what a military conflict is going to be, particularly when it’s going to be a long-term proposition like this one.
For the US, the fall of Ramadi is a failure and a loss, and Josh Ernest is lying about it. The new Prime Minister of Iraq has not united the country. The pathetic charade of “democracy” in that benighted land deceives no one.
But for Obama himself, the loss, the chaos, the slaughter, the destruction is a success.
His foreign policy – the advancement of Islam – is succeeding, perhaps even beyond his own wildest dreams, in Iraq, Afghanistan, and above all in Iran.
Nearly a hundred years ago, the Ottoman Empire was brought to an end when the German-Turkish alliance was defeated in the First World War. Its former territories in the Middle East became independent states or temporary mandates of European powers.
Efraim Karsh, reviewing a new book* on the subject, corrects errors of fact on which its author relies – and which have been all too generally accepted.
The corrections are important, so we reproduce the entire article:
A century after the catastrophic blunder that led to the destruction of the then longest-surviving empire on earth, culpability is still ascribed to the European powers. Rather than view the Ottoman entry into the First World War on the losing side for what it was – a failed imperialist bid for territorial aggrandizement and reassertion of lost glory – the Muslim empire has been portrayed as the hapless victim of European machinations, driven into the world conflict by overbearing powers eager to expedite its demise and gobble up its lands.
Emblematic of the wider tendency to view Middle Easterners as mere objects, whose history is but a function of their unhappy interaction with the West, this conventional wisdom has proved remarkably resistant to the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and Eugene Rogan’s The Fall of the Ottomans is no exception to this rule.
To begin with, in an attempt to underscore the Ottoman Empire’s untenable position on the eve of the war, Rogan reproduces the standard depiction of the protracted period preceding the empire’s collapse, or the Eastern Question as it is commonly known, as the steady European encroachment on Ottoman territory. “The looming prospect of a European general war”, he writes, “raised the imminent threat of a Russian annexation of Istanbul, the straits, and eastern Anatolia – and the ultimate dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire among the Entente Powers. France was known to covet Syria, Britain had interests in Mesopotamia, and Greece wished to expand its grip over the Aegean.”
Reality, however, was quite different. Far from setting their sights on Ottoman lands, the European powers had consistently shored up the ailing Muslim empire for well over a century, saving it time and again from assured destruction – from Muhammad Ali’s imperialist bid of the 1830s, to the Balkan crises of the 1870s, to the Balkan war of 1912–13. And it was none other than Russia that acted as the Ottoman Empire’s latest saviour, halting its former Bulgarian subject at the gates of Istanbul, not once but twice: in November 1912 and March 1913. Several months later St Petersburg joined London and Berlin in underscoring “the necessity of preserving the Turkish Realm in its present form”.
All this means that by the outbreak of the Great War, the Ottoman Empire was scarcely a spurned and isolated power in danger of imminent destruction. Rather, it was in the enviable position of being courted by the two warring camps: the German-Austro-Hungarian Central Alliance wished its participation in the war, while the Anglo-French-Russian Triple Entente desired its neutrality. So much so that on August 18, 1914, less than a month after the outbreak of hostilities, the Entente’s ambassadors to Istanbul assured the Grand Vizier of the empire’s continued survival were it to stay out of the war, while the British Foreign Secretary vowed the preservation of Ottoman territorial integrity “in any conditions of peace which affected the Near East, provided she preserved a real neutrality during the war”. Five days later, at Ottoman request, the three powers put down this pledge in writing.
Had the Ottomans accepted this guarantee and kept out of the war, their empire would have readily weathered the storm. But then, by the time the Entente made its far-reaching proposal, Istanbul had already concluded a secret alliance with Germany that had effectively transformed it into a belligerent. This, nevertheless, didn’t prevent it from maintaining the false pretence of neutrality vis-à-vis the Entente, or even feigning interest in joining its ranks, while at the same time laying the groundwork for war and exploiting Berlin’s eagerness for the immediate initiation of hostilities to extract substantial military and economic benefits.
Preserving the myth of immaculate Turkish victimhood, Rogan claims that “the Ottoman leadership had no wish to enter a general European conflict” and was grudgingly driven to the German embrace by the Entente’s indifference, if not hostility, to its predicament. His proof is the supposed French rebuff of an alliance proposal, allegedly made during a visit to Paris in July 1914 by the military leader Djemal Pasha, as well as the British requisition of two warships commissioned by the Ottomans. “The British decision to requisition the ships was treated as a national humiliation in Turkey and ruled out the possibility of any accord between Britain and the Ottoman Empire”, Rogan writes. “The very next day, 2 August 1914, the Ottomans concluded a secret treaty of alliance with Germany.”
The problem with these well-worn stories is that there is no shred of evidence of Djemal’s alleged overture (its only mention is in his memoirs, written after the war and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire with the clear aim of exonerating himself from responsibility for this calamity), while the requisition announcement was made on August 3 – a day after the conclusion of the secret Ottoman-German alliance.
But even if the announcement had been made a few days earlier, it would have made no difference whatsoever for the simple reason that the terms of the Ottoman-German alliance had already been agreed on July 28. Moreover, it was the Ottomans rather than the Germans who had opted for an alliance within days of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914 – weeks before the outbreak of hostilities; who were the driving force in the ensuing secret negotiations; and who largely prevailed over their German counterparts in deciding the alliance’s broad contours. As Kaiser Wilhelm ordered his more sceptical negotiators: “A refusal or a snub would result in Turkey’s going over to Russo-Gallia, and our influence would be gone forever … Under no circumstances whatsoever can we afford to turn them away”.
The truth of the matter is that the Ottoman Empire was neither forced into the First World War in a last-ditch attempt to ensure its survival, nor manoeuvred into it by an overbearing German ally and a hostile Entente, but rather plunged head on into the whirlpool. War, for the Ottoman leaders, was not seen as a mortal danger to be averted, but a unique opportunity to be seized. They did not seek “an ally to protect the empire’s vulnerable territory from the consequences of such war” but a powerful underwriter of their imperialist ambitions; and apart from their admiration for Germany and their conviction that it would ultimately be victorious, the Entente had less to offer by way of satisfying these ambitions, first and foremost “the destruction of our Muscovite enemy to obtain a natural frontier to our empire, which should include and unite all branches of our race” (in the words of the Ottoman declaration of war).
Just as the fall of the Ottoman Empire was not the result of external machinations but a self-inflicted catastrophe, so the creation of the modern Middle East on its ruins was not an imperialist imposition but the aggregate outcome of intense pushing and shoving by a multitude of regional and international bidders for the Ottoman war spoils in which the local actors, despite their marked inferiority to the great powers, often had the upper hand.
While Rogan occasionally alludes to this reality, these allusions are far too sparse and timid to break from the standard misrepresentation of the post-war regional order as an artificial Western creation. He aptly notes that “the map drawn by Sykes and Picot bears no resemblance to the Middle East today”, yet reiterates the standard depiction of the agreement as a colonial imposition rather than a British effort “to reconcile the interests of France with the pledges given to the [Arabs]” (to use Albert Hourani’s words), or indeed – the first-ever great power recognition of Arab right to self determination (well before President Woodrow Wilson turned this principle into a driving force of international politics). He similarly observes that Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia (or the Hijaz, as it was then known) “achieved independence within frontiers of their own devising”, yet parrots the conventional wisdom that the imperial powers outlandishly “imposed the borders and systems of governments of most states in the region”.
In fact, most states in the region were established pretty much as a result of local exertions. The modern state of Iraq, to give a prominent example, was created in its present form (rather than divided into three states in accordance with the existing realities of local patriotism and religious affinities) on behalf of Emir Faisal of Mecca and at his instigation, while Jordan was established to satisfy the ambitions of Faisal’s older brother Abdullah. Likewise, the nascent Zionist movement exploited a unique convergence of factors to harness British support to its national cause, to have this support endorsed by the international community and incorporated into the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, and to cling tenaciously to these achievements until their fruition in the establishment of the State of Israel in May 1948.
Eugene Rogan acknowledges that “the borders of the post-war settlement have proven remarkably resilient”. Yet he fails to draw the selfevident conclusion that this state of affairs reflects their congruity with local realities, instead echoing the common refrain that ascribes the region’s endemic volatility to the supposed dissatisfaction with these boundaries.
Had this actually been the case, Arab leaders would have seized some of the numerous opportunities they had over the past century to undo the post-Ottoman order and unify the so-called Arab Nation; and they could have readily done this by peaceful means rather than incessant fighting. But then, violence has hardly been imported to the Middle East as a by-product of European imperialism; it was a part of the political culture long before. And if anything, it is the region’s tortuous relationship with modernity, most notably the stubborn adherence to its millenarian religiously based imperialist legacy, which has left physical force as the main instrument of political discourse to date.
But to acknowledge this would mean abandoning the self-righteous victimization paradigm that has informed Western scholarship for so long, and treating Middle Easterners as equal free agents accountable for their actions, rather than giving them a condescending free pass for political and moral modes of behaviour that are not remotely acceptable in Western societies. Sadly, The Fall of the Ottomans signals no such paradigm shift.
* The Fall of the Ottomans by Eugene Rogan. The review first appeared in the Times Literary Supplement and was reprinted in the Wall Street Journal.
A review of a book on ISIS at Commentary, by Michael J. Totten, is full of interest. It explains some of the Byzantine intricacies of Arab, middle eastern, and Islamic politics.
The book is titled ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror. It’s written by Michael Weiss & Hassan Hassan.
The review begins with two sentences with which we emphatically agree. We wish that all who report on ISIS would take note of them.
ISIS isn’t a terrorist organization. It’s a transnational army of terror.
And a very formidable army it is in its size and its armor.
The CIA claims it has as many as 31,000 fighters in Syria and Iraq, and Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government, thinks the number may be as high as 200,000. When ISIS fighters conquered the Iraqi city of Mosul last year, they stole enough materiel to supply three fighting divisions, including up-armored American Humvees, T-55 tanks, mobile Chinese artillery pieces, Soviet anti-aircraft guns, and American-made Stinger missile systems. ISIS controls a swath of territory the size of Great Britain and is expanding into Libya and Yemen.
The book relates the history ISIS. The midwife of its birth was Bashar Assad, the president of Syria.
ISIS began its life as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) after the United States demolished Saddam Hussein’s government in 2003. The Bush administration saw Arab democracy as the solution to the Middle East’s woes, and Syria’s tyrant Bashar al-Assad didn’t want to be the next Saddam. Assad waged a proxy war to convince Washington that participatory politics in the region would be perilous. Weiss and Hassan quote former Syrian diplomat Bassam Barabandi, who says candidly that “[Assad] started to work with the mujahideen.” He dispatched Syria’s homegrown jihadists to fight American occupation forces [in Iraq], and most of those jihadists would sign up with AQI. Assad pulled off a win-win scheme, purging Syria of potential enemies while teaching both the American government and citizenry a lesson they still haven’t forgotten: Occupying and democratizing an Arab land is a far messier and bloodier business than most in the West are willing to stomach.
It worked so well in Iraq that Assad would eventually replicate it inside his own country. When the uprising against him began in 2011, he framed the conflict as one between his secular regime and Islamist terrorists, even when the only serious movement against him consisted of nonviolent protests for reform and democracy. Few in the West bought Assad’s line at the time, so he then facilitated an Islamist terrorist opposition. His loyalists like to present a choice: “Assad or we burn the country.” And they are not kidding.
As Weiss and Hassan detail, Assad opened the jails and let Islamist prisoners free as part of an ostensible “reform” process, but he kept democracy activists in their cages. He knew perfectly well that those he let loose would cut a burning and bleeding gash across the country, casting him as the only thing standing between the rest of us and the abyss. …
ISIS is a terrible force; as terrible as any in history or fiction.
The first thing ISIS does when conquering a new city or town is set up the grisly machinery for medieval punishments in town squares. “Letting black-clad terrorists run around a provincial capital,” Weiss and Hassan write, “crucifying and beheading people, made for great propaganda.” It was all Assad could do to ensure the Obama administration wouldn’t pursue a policy of regime-change as it had in Libya and as the previous administration had in Iraq. …
Had Assad been forced into exile or dragged from his palace before the Arab Spring soured, Syria might look strikingly different today. Weiss and Hassan cite an International Republican Institute survey of Syrian public opinion in 2012 that found 76 percent of the country favored one kind of democratic transition or another. But Assad guarantees that bullets rather than ballots will decide political outcomes, and millions would rather flee to squalid refugee camps abroad than get caught between the anvil of Syria’s totalitarian state and the hammer of ISIS. …
ISIS’s founder, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, loved beheading hapless victims on camera as much as the new leadership does, and his grisly behavior earned him the nickname “Sheikh of the Slaughterers”. He hated no one on earth — not even Americans — more than he hated Shia Muslims who, in his view, were beneath even Sunni Muslim apostates. …
Abu Bakr Naji, one of ISIS’s intellectual architects, published a book online outlining its strategy and vision: The Management of Savagery. It is used today as a manual not only in Syria and Iraq but also by al-Qaeda affiliates in Somalia, Yemen, and Libya. “Jihad,” he writes, “is naught but violence, crudeness, terrorism, frightening [people], and massacring.”
The authors make a compelling case that ISIS “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is a would-be Saddam Hussein in religious garb…. Like Zarqawi before him, [he] is even more genocidal than Iraq’s former strongman. Al-Baghdadi has “so far demonstrated nothing short of annihilationist intention …” …
Annihilationist, that is, first and foremost of the Shi’a, who are “marked only for death”.
[But] Syrians and Iraqis aren’t the only ones threatened by all this, of course. ISIS aspires to wage its exterminationist war beyond the Middle East, not only in the United States but also in Europe. “We will raid you thereafter,” it boasts in its online magazine, Dabiq, “and you will never raid us. We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women, by the Permission of Allah, the Exalted. This is His promise to us.”
And that, since ISIS became the enemy of Assad – the despot who brought it into the world – puts the US and Europe “tacitly on the side of Assad”. And as Assad is kept in power by Iran, they are also tacitly on the side of Iran and “their joint Lebanese proxy Hezbollah”.
It is a state of affairs that the Iranian rulers delight in.
Tehran can hardly contain itself. “One of the world’s leading state sponsors of terrorism,” Weiss and Hassan write, “now presents itself as the last line of defense against terrorism.”
[But] the idea that a state sponsor of terrorism could ever be a reliable partner against international terrorism is ludicrous. “Whatever Washington’s intentions,” Weiss and Hassan write, “its perceived alliance of convenience with the murderous regimes of Syria and Iran is keeping Sunnis who loathe or fear ISIS from participating in another grassroots effort to expel the terrorists from their midst.”
ISIS continues to grow at an alarming rate and has so far recruited thousands of members from Europe. “What draws people to ISIS,” the authors write, “could easily bring them to any number of cults or totalitarian movements, even those ideologically contradictory to Salafist jihadism.” Indeed, its ranks are swollen with tribal sectarians, thrill seekers, former “socialist infidels”, foreign losers looking for meaning and community, and psychopaths pining for butchery. Many find the execution videos of “Jihadi John” — a modern version of what 19th-century Italian revolutionary Carlo Pisacane called propaganda of the deed — darkly compelling. For the most dangerous ISIS recruits, what the rest of us see as bad press is seductive.
Many, however, are painfully naive. Savvy ISIS recruiters do an outstanding job convincing the gullible that its notoriety is unjustified. “Don’t hear about us,” they say. “Hear from us.” Weiss and Hassan dig up comments from some of ISIS’s obtuse fans in online Western forums who have bought the sales pitch: “Does the Islamic State sell hair gel and Nutella in Raqqa?” “Should I bring an iPad to let Mom and Dad know that I arrived safely in caliphate?”
The foolish recruits are more likely to become victims themselves than to victimize others — in March, ISIS forced a 12-year-old boy to execute an Israeli Arab man for trying to flee — but ISIS will continue to attract newcomers as long as it’s permitted to thrive. And thrive it will until it faces a more determined resistance force and as long as radical Sunni Muslims around the world feel galvanized by the perceived American-Iranian axis against them.
As the authors say in their book’s stark conclusion, “the army of terror will be with us indefinitely”.
Is Obama’s realignment of US foreign policy so astonishing that it leaves Congress too stunned to act?
Has there ever before been such a clear case of high crimes and misdemeanors as now with the action of this president – selling out the country’s interests to its worst enemy?
Why have impeachment proceedings not begun?
Shawn Mitchell writes today, March 30, 2015, at Townhall:
Ponder the dire significance of the extraordinary story from MSNBC(!) last Friday, reporting on US “incoherence” in the Middle East, the exploding chaos there, and the shocking news Arab states like Egypt, the Saudis, and UAE are withholding intelligence and launching attacks without consulting the US. Why? Because they don’t trust Obama not to leak information to Iran. In seeking closer ties with Iran, Obama is threatening every other strategic US relationship in the region and candidly committing alliance-cide against America’s closest ally there, Israel.
The president, as chief executive and commander in chief may be the captain of foreign policy, but the Senate, representing the American public, has a Constitutional role, which Obama is deliberately evading.
What is happening is historically unprecedented. … Obama is pursuing a one-man foreign policy of realigning the US in the Middle East, ending our friendship with Israel, forging ties with Iran, and facilitating, or at least benignly accepting, the expansion of Iran’s interests, influence, and agents throughout the region.
Facilitating. Not “benignly accepting”.
This profound agenda is not one he ran on. It is not disclosed to, or understood by, the American people. It is not vetted or discussed in high circles of military and security leadership. It is contrary to long and widely held understandings of US security interests. It is a covert one man revolution.
In playing his chess pieces, Obama unsuccessfully pressed Egypt to submit to the Muslim Brotherhood; stiff-armed President al-Sisi who wants to move Egypt closer to America, keep peace with Israel, and move Islam closer to modernity; launched unprovoked missiles against Libya’s Qaddafi, lighting that nation on fire, delivering it to chaos and Iran-backed rebels; played patsy with Iran’s client Assad while Assad scorned Obama’s red lines and gassed civilians; and manufactured an escalating series of confrontations and crises with Israel, most recently exposing top secret details of its previously unacknowledged nuclear program. After Yemen fell to Iran backed rebels, the White House continues to insist its approach there is a “model of effective counterterrorism”.
… It’s becoming apparent the trade of five Taliban field leaders for one US deserter was not a “bad deal” but a head fake. Bergdahl was just cover for Obama to hand back five Jihadi leaders and move closer to his goal of closing Gitmo.
Did he swap the Taliban leaders for Bergdahl because he wants to close Gitmo, or is his spoken intention to close Gitmo an excuse for silently strengthening the Taliban? That one can even ask the question, that the suggestion is not implausible, shows how extraordinary are the circumstances in which it arises.
Recent reports of the surreal “negotiations” with Iran would make for farce if they weren’t terrifyingly real. Alone among the P5 + 1 world powers, the US is desperate to sweeten the pot to offer Iran whatever it takes. Obama originally set a redline of 500 high-speed centrifuges; we now shrug at 6,000. We’re good with Iran continuing operations at its reinforced, underground lab. It doesn’t have to reveal its ongoing research with military dimensions until after the world lifts sanctions … wink. Surprise inspections will be rare to never. Last week, the Associated Press astonishingly reported a final agreement may not even be in writing. Spokesman Josh Earnest failed to deny that unfathomable idea after three direct queries.
We recently witnessed the spectacle of France trying to put the brakes on this runaway concession train, complaining it’s a weak, bad, unenforceable deal and the US is still conceding. That’s something … the French accusing Americans of being burger eating surrender monkeys.
The president’s defenders might call his upheaval a matter of high stakes, high risk strategy to improve US standing in the Middle East by aligning it with the region’s strongest power. Other commentators might call it wrongheaded, reckless, and dangerous. And others, seeing what’s right in front of their face, might call it hostile to America’s interests and security, treacherous to America’s allies, and of great aid and comfort to America’s enemies.
Under a different Iranian regime, maybe a secular one, or a reformist product of the Green Revolution that Obama strangely spurned, it might make sense to support Iran as a stabilizing force. It’s the Mullacracy with its radical, bloody vision that makes Obama’s policy deranged. His defenders and critics alike speculate Obama is betting the regime can be enticed to make nice and join the community of nations during the limited lifespan of the agreement. But that surmise is incoherent. If Obama wanted a reformed Iran, he would have spoken up for millions of brave protesters who confronted the Mullahs and pled for his support. He stood mute as they were brutally crushed.
It’s an unresolved question if, or where, there is a redline that a president’s policies abroad become Constitutionally actionable. He leads in foreign policy. But, he also took an oath to protect American peace and security. If, for an extreme hypothetical, videotape emerged showing a president handing over US nuclear codes to Vladimir Putin, presumably, he would be dealt with as a treasonous traitor, his foreign policy authority notwithstanding.
Obama’s actions in the Middle East raise troubling questions about how fundamentally a president can contradict deeply rooted US understandings, policies, and alliances before he enters a danger zone. Cutting off the Senate’s voice adds to the gravity. To conclude any position a president holds, no matter how radical, must be the position of the US, is akin to embracing Louis XIV’s declaration: “”L’État, c’est moi” or Richard Nixon’s more recent formulation: “When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.”
Twenty months remain in this presidency. About a day is left till Obama’s contrived deadline to reach a deal with Iran. It may be one of the only lines he means to respect. Few imagined after the 2012 election how fast events would unfold in the Middle East and how fast Obama’s hand would emerge into view. It is going to be a dangerous and scary ride.
Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s unofficial co-president, was born in Iran. Does she have a sentimental attachment to it? With this administration that could be enough “reason” – silly as it is – for Obama to put its interests and ambitions above the interests of the United States.
Can anyone think of any other possible reason?
Ah, yes. If Iran is allowed to become nuclear armed, there is a high likelihood that it will destroy Israel. That’s a consummation the Muslim world devoutly wishes. And where the Muslim world leads, can Obama be far behind?
This is the second of three posts quoting serious articles that argue the case for impeaching President Obama.
From an article by (retired) Admiral James Lyons published March 25, 2015, by Breitbart:
The current Kabuki dance ongoing in Geneva between Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Jamad Zarif regarding an agreement on Iran’s nuclear weapons program is a sham. Its outcome was pre-ordained many years ago by President Obama in his secret communications with the Iranian mullahs in 2008 – at least according to one report.
These secret communications were exposed in a August 29, 2014 article written by Michael Ledeen in PJ Media and drew little attention then, but now must be addressed. According to Ledeen, shortly after Barack Obama clinched the Democratic nomination for president on June 3, 2008, he also opened a secret communication channel to the Iranian mullahs. The message was that they should not sign any nuclear agreement with the Bush administration on preventing Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon capability. He informed them that he would be much easier to deal with once he assumed the presidency. He further assured the mullahs that he was a “friend” of the Iranian theocracy and that they would be very happy with his policies.
Today, Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism that has been “at war” with the United States since the 1979 takeover of our Tehran U.S. Embassy. Since then, Iran has directed many “acts of war” against the United States that have cost the loss of thousands of American lives. Most importantly, Iran provided the key material and training support to the 9/11 hijackers, which cost the lives of 3,000 innocent Americans.
The secret channel was conducted through Ambassador William G. Miller, who previously served in Iran during the Shah’s reign. The Ambassador confirmed to Ledeen the aforementioned communications he personally held with the Iranian mullahs on behalf of candidate Obama during the 2008 campaign. The Iranian mullahs apparently believed the message since on July 20, 2oo8, the New York Times reported “Nuclear Talks with Iran End on a Deadlock.” The main reason was that Iran would not address the “international demands that it stop enriching uranium.” What a surprise!
The shocking fact is that candidate Obama secretly told the Iranian mullahs not to make a deal until he assumed the presidency, according to Ledeen’s report. They would then be able to make a much better agreement with him – and that’s exactly what’s happening. Some would consider what candidate Obama did was treason.
President Obama abandoned the requirement that Iran stop enriching uranium. The result has been that Iran’s nuclear program has been greatly expanded with more secret underground facilities and expanded capability during the course of the long, drawn out negotiations. When the interim agreement, called the “Joint Plan of Action,” was announced in late 2013, the Iranian president openly bragged that the West had finally acknowledged Iran’s right to its uranium enrichment program.
Iran’s chief negotiator, Foreign Minister Zarif, furthermore bragged that Iran “did not agree to dismantle anything; not its centrifuges; not its ballistic missile program; not its nuclear programs.” It also did not give up its role as the leading state sponsor of terrorism. By his cooperation with Iran in combatting the Islamic State, [Obama] is actually sanctioning de facto Iranian hegemony throughout the Persian Gulf region.
Andy McCarthy, in his book Faithless Execution, lays out a very detailed and logical case for President Obama’s impeachment. Even Liberal law professors are now talking about Obama’s many abuses of power, too many to list here. A summary of President Obama’s extensive violations of law and dereliction of duty are covered on pages 11-26 of Faithless Execution. President Obama’s use and abuse of power is clearly out of control. We are in a Constitutional crisis.
The Constitution vests in the House of Representatives “the sole power of impeachment”. With a Republican controlled House of Representatives, a simple House Majority can vote out articles of impeachment. However, successfully impeaching a president means removing him from office. Removal requires the president’s conviction on articles of impeachment by a two-thirds vote of the Senate. Even with a Republican controlled Senate, this will require much work.
Clearly the Speaker of the House of Representatives must start the process. If the current Speaker is unable to find the courage to start the impeachment proceedings, then he should resign. The House members should elect a new Speaker who is prepared to live up to his Oath of Office and protect the Constitution. The survival of America as we know it, as the shining city on the hill, must come first before any party politics.
And this is more from the 2014 article by Michael Ledeen at PJ Media:
They do have a strategy, but they prefer to appear indecisive. That’s because the strategy would likely provoke even greater criticism than the false confession of endless dithering.
The actual strategy is detente first, and then a full alliance with Iran throughout the Middle East and North Africa. It has been on display since before the beginning of the Obama administration. During his first presidential campaign in 2008, Mr. Obama used a secret back channel to Tehran to assure the mullahs that he was a friend of the Islamic Republic, and that they would be very happy with his policies. The secret channel was Ambassador William G. Miller, who served in Iran during the shah’s rule, as chief of staff for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and as ambassador to Ukraine. Ambassador Miller has confirmed to me his conversations with Iranian leaders during the 2008 campaign.
Ever since, President Obama’s quest for an alliance with Iran has been conducted through at least four channels: Iraq, Switzerland (the official U.S. representative to Tehran), Oman, and a variety of American intermediaries, the most notable of whom is probably Valerie Jarrett, his closest adviser. In recent months, Middle Eastern leaders reported personal visits from Ms. Jarrett, who briefed them on her efforts to manage the Iranian relationship. This was confirmed to me by a former high-ranking American official who says he was so informed by several Middle Eastern leaders.
The central theme in Obama’s outreach to Iran is his conviction that the United States has historically played a wicked role in the Middle East, and that the best things he can do for that part of the world is to limit and withdraw American military might and empower our self-declared enemies, whose hostility to traditional American policies he largely shares.
If we look at the current crisis through an Iranian lens, our apparent indecisiveness is easier to understand, for it systematically favors Iran’s interests. Tehran’s closest ally is Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. If Assad were to be overthrown by opposition forces hostile to Iran, it would be a devastating blow to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has committed tens of thousands of fighters (from Hezbollah, the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij) to shore up the Damascus regime. Everything Iran does in the region revolves around the necessity of preserving Assad’s tyranny.
Obama surely understands this. It therefore made no sense to bomb Syria in the otherwise baffling about-face on the “red line” a year ago. In like manner, the refusal to take decisive action today against the Islamic State caters to Iranian and Syrian concerns. Remember that ISIS was supported by Iran and Syria as a weapon against anti-Assad and anti-Iranian forces (from the Kurds to the FSA), none of whom is receiving serious American support.
It is exceedingly unlikely that Obama will do anything that would threaten Assad’s rule or Iran’s power. To do so would be tantamount to abandoning his core strategy of creating a U.S.-Iranian alliance that would make Tehran the major regional power …
To listen to the barbaric chant which is the background music to the slow destruction of our civilization by savage hordes coming out of the Dark Ages, go here.
The words are in French not Arabic.
We will not be beaten down
We wish to die for Allah
We will persist in fighting
And leave [this world] with a smile
Yes, Charlie Hebdo is dead, he mocked the prophets
Indeed we will kill without remorse those coming to provoke us
Why are you looking for a fight? You reap what you sow
For those with loaded weapons, it’s time to revolt.
We must strike France
It is time for it to be humiliated
We want to see suffering
And deaths by the thousand
The battle has begun. The revenge will be terrible
Our soldiers are enraged. Your end will be horrible.
Islam will prevail, it will be spread by the sword
Those who want to oppose it will never know peace
We came to dominate and our enemies will perish
We will annihilate them and let their bodies rot.
The song is titled On Va Pas Se Laisser Abattre (We Will Not Let Ourselves Be Beaten Down). It was posted on Sunday March 15, 2015, by the Islamic State (IS/ISIS/ISIL). The translation is by MEMRI.
With his usual perception and wit, Mark Steyn writes:
The Islamic State [IS] released a 22-minute video showing Flight Lieutenant Muath al-Kasasbeh of the Royal Jordanian Air Force being doused in petrol and burned to death. It is an horrific way to die, and Flt Lt al-Kasasbeh showed uncommon bravery, standing stiff and dignified as the flames consumed him. And then he toppled, and the ISIS cameras rolled on, until what was left was charred and shapeless and unrecognizable as human. …
Even by the standards of his usual rote cookie-cutter shoulder-to-shoulder shtick that follows every ISIS beheading of western captives, the President could barely conceal his boredom at having to discuss the immolation of Flt Lt al-Kasasbeh:
Aaand it, I think, will redouble [pause] the vigilance aaand determination on the part of our global coalition to, uh, make sure that they are degraded and ultimately defeated. Ummmm. [Adopting a whimsical look] It also just indicates the degree to which whatever ideology they’re operating off of, it’s bankrupt. [Suppressing a smirk, pivoting to a much more important subject.] We’re here to talk about how to make people healthier and make their lives better.
The lack of passion – the bloodlessness – of Obama’s reaction to atrocity is always striking. He can’t even be bothered pretending that he means it. …
Given the general halfheartedness of Obama’s “coalition”, King Abdullah [of Jordan] could have been forgiven for also deciding to head for the exit.
Yet he understood the necessity of action. Obama, by contrast … does nothing. His war against ISIS was supposed to be one in which the US would not put “boots on the ground”, but instead leave that to our allies. The allies have the boots, but they could use some weapons, too. Obama has failed to supply the Kurds or anybody else with what they need to defeat our enemies. It’s becoming what they call a pattern of behavior. …
Obama cannot react to atrocities committed by jihadis because he is emotionally (we cannot say intellectually, because unlike his Democratic fans we do not think he has much of an intellect), on their side; which means that, whether he realizes it or not, he is on the side of evil.
Mark Steyn clearly sees that IS is evil. He goes on to consider why it is that tens of thousands of volunteers go eagerly to join its army and help it carry out its atrocities.
You’ll recall Hannah Arendt’s tired and misleading coinage “the banality of evil”, derived from her observation of Adolf Eichmann at his trial in Jerusalem.
We explain when and why she said it, and why it is misleading, in our post The cultivation of evil, the sickness of Europe, July 20, 2010.
Mark Steyn quotes an earlier article of his:
Hitler felt obliged to be somewhat coy about just how final the final solution was. As Eichmann testified at his trial, when typing up the minutes of the Wannsee conference, “How shall I put it? Certain over-plain talk and jargon expressions had to be rendered into office language by me.” Even the Nazis were reluctant to spell it out.
The Germans didn’t have social media, but they had newsreels, and Hitler knew enough not to make genocide available to Pathé or “The March of Time”. He had considerations both domestic and foreign. Pre-Wannsee, in Poland and elsewhere, German troops had been ordered to shoot Jewish prisoners in cold blood, and their commanders reported back to Berlin that too many soldiers had found it sickening and demoralizing. So the purpose of “the final solution” was to make mass murder painless, at least for the perpetrators – more bureaucratic, removed, bloodless.
As for foreign considerations, Germany expected to be treated as a civilized power by its enemies, and that would not have been possible had they been boasting about genocide.
Seventy years on, the Islamic State has slipped free of even these minimal constraints. They advertize their barbarism to the world, because what’s the downside? Let’s say the guys who burned Flt Lt al-Kasasbeh are one day captured by Americans. They can look forward to a decade or two of a soft, pampering sojourn in the US justice system, represented by an A-list dream-team that’ll string things along until the administration figures it’ll cut its losses and ship them to Qatar in exchange for some worthless deserter.
As for the upside, “the banality of evil” may have its appeal for lower-middle-class Teuton bureaucrats, but the glamor of evil is a far more potent and universal brand. The Islamic State has come up with the ultimate social-media campaign: evil goes viral! At some level German conscripts needed to believe they were honorable soldiers in an honorable cause, no different from the British or Americans. But ISIS volunteers are signing up explicitly for the war crimes. The Islamic State burned Flt Lt al-Kasasbeh alive not only to kill him but to inspire the thousands of ISIS fanbois around the globe. …
For many of its beneficiaries, modern western life is bland, undemanding and vaguely unsatisfying. Some seek a greater cause, and turn to climate change or LGBTQWERTY rights. But others want something with a little more red meat to it. Jihad is primal in a way that the stodgy multiculti relativist mush peddled by Obama isn’t. And what the Islamic State is offering is Jihad 2.0, cranking up the blood-lust and rape and sex slavery and head-chopping and depravity in ways that make Osama-era al-Qaeda look like a bunch of pantywaists.
Success breeds success. The success of evil breeds darker evil. And the glamorization of evil breeds ever more of those “recent Muslim converts” and “lone wolves” and “self-radicalized extremists” in the news. That’s a Big Idea – a bigger idea, indeed, than Communism or Nazism.
Islam, as we know, means “submission”. But Xtreme-Sports Hyper-Islam, blood-soaked and baying, is also wonderfully liberating, offering the chance for dull-witted, repressed young men to slip free of even the most basic societal restraints. And, when the charms of the open road in Headchoppistan wear thin, your British and Canadian and Australian and European welfare checks will still be waiting for you on the doormat back home. …
As the world burns, Obama, uh, redoubles his, uh, vigilance, uh uh uh… Whatever.
Mark Steyn reminds us that “civilization is a fragile and unnatural state of affairs”. Its would-be destroyers now, in the early twenty-first century, are: the environmentalists; the world-government advocates and all the rest of the collectivists, whatever they call themselves – progressives or socialists or communists; and, above all, most dangerous, already destroying as much as they can of the heritage of civilization, and winning battle after battle, encountering no effective opposition – Islam.
Obama won’t name it, not even by using the polite form of its name that most politicians and commentators use, “Islamism”.
But be assured that against something or other, he is redoubling his vigilance.
Is it America’s moral duty to rescue victims of religious, ideological, racial, national, or tribal oppression, persecution, or genocide?
James Lewis writes at American Thinker:
Genocides happen when the civilized world shuts its eyes and does nothing while some gang of barbarians slaughters human beings by the thousands. Civilized silence promises safety to the killers and demoralizes their victims.
Samantha Power, Obama’s U.N. ambassador, has made a career criticizing U.S. government passivity in the face of genocide. She has written Pulitzer Prize-winning books like A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide.
Now [she is] U.N. ambassador – a major power position in the Obama administration, the most powerful political job she is ever likely to have to do what she wants.
What has Dr. Power done about genocide? What has she actually done to stop, or even to complain in public about, groups and regimes that thirst after genocide, like Iran, ISIS, the Taliban, the Wahhabi priesthood of Saudi Arabia, the mass killing rulers of the Sudan? What about Boko Haram killing, enslaving, and selling children in Nigeria? What about the Kenya massacres? What has she done?
Samuel Totten studies genocide as a disease of dysfunctional politics and has now written a report on Samantha Power’s actions against genocide.
They are zero, just like her boss’s achievements.
But let’s be more modest. It may be hard to get things done in the real world. So let’s just ask: what has Samantha Power even said in her highly public position as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations?
Has Power even spoken out, in private or public, against the horrors we can all see today?
Like Obama himself, Dr. Power refuses even to call the real thing by its proper name. Somehow, after a career of assaulting previous administrations for their moral failures to even name genocide, she is now struck deaf and dumb.
Samantha Power is symbolic of all the simple moral failures of the Obama years. She has sold her soul for a mess of pottage. Like her boss, Dr. Power talks a good game.
The Rwanda genocide happened because Kofi Annan, who was a U.N. “observer”, knew all about it but never made a public fuss.
Well, that’s not why it happened. It may have been why it wasn’t stopped, or prevented from happening.
The Armenian genocide of 1.5 million Christians happened because ethnic and religious genocide is what the Turks did during the four centuries of the Ottoman Caliphate, and nobody in the more civilized world wanted to even publicize it. The same is true of the Holocaust and Stalin’s Ukrainian starvation campaign. …
Again, the disregard of powerful nations by their governments and/or their newspapers was not a cause of those atrocities but – at most – a license to let them proceed.
But perhaps James Lewis means that if the civilized powers made it constantly known, by interfering even in small incidents of persecution when they occurred anywhere in the world – and so demonstrating that they would not allow such things ever to happen – the big events, the starving of millions, the attempts at genocide would not happen because interference would be expected and feared.
He argues that the “civilized world” should at least speak up against the evil that states and rebel armies do.
The civilized world is not obligated to sacrifice precious lives, even for a profoundly moral cause. We are not infinitely powerful. But we have an elementary right and duty to tell the truth, and to act on it when we can. Obama’s abandonment of millions and millions of people is a cruel defeat for elementary morality. Those who don’t get that are sociopaths, and those who twist it are liars. Abandoning Afghanistan is not, as the delusional left will say, some sort of victory. The rise of barbarian sadistic regimes, those who routinely oppress all women and girls because they can, is not – repeat: not – a wonderful moral victory.
But Obama and his media lackeys will try to paint it that way.
Today we don’t even allow ourselves to think that the Cold War was a noble and civilizing effort by the United States and its allies against the kind of barbarism that we see today being practiced by ISIS – and we know about ISIS only because social media make it impossible for the left to censor it. The left cares only about power, and the resulting millions of dead and wounded are simply the price to pay for Progress. …
Now Obama is willingly – maybe joyously – retreating from lands where we made a difference. We gave and sacrificed precious lives and treasure in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and elsewhere. It was the right thing to do after 9/11/01 for our national security, and it was the moral thing to do. Today Obama is turning Afghanistan over to the barbaric Taliban, just as we seem to be turning Iraq over to ISIS and an Iranian proxy regime in Baghdad.
Obama is knowingly running away from the worst war ideology in the world: war-making Islam.
But why? Could it be because he thinks it is the best ideology in the world? There have been many signs that he loves Islam. And not, we suspect, because he is deluded into thinking it other than it is, but because it is as it is.
Since he is constitutionally unable to tell the truth, he has to lie about it. Suddenly the Wahhabi torture theology of ISIS – identical to that of the Taliban – no longer makes for a “terrorist” gang. No, they are an “indigenous insurgency,” following the most shameful lie of the left today, the corrupt idea that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom-fighter. We should have realized that when Obama allowed the young people’s Green Revolution in Tehran to be killed and tortured into silence at the very beginning of this administration.
We have lost our moral bearings, and the left likes it that way.
Obama is a typical leftist horror story, just as merciless as Lenin, Chávez, and Pol Pot. Since we’ve exhausted the English vocabulary for describing him and his gang, I suggest we borrow his own lies to describe him.
He is Obama the Merciful, the Compassionate, the Servant of the most ruthless war theology in history.
He is not my president, and in a moral sense, he is not an American president at all.
But say we did have a president who would tell the truth and speak out against Islam, its ruthlessly destructive ideology, its unjust law, its cruelty to women, its extreme bigotry in allowing no apostasy – would the Taliban or ISIS be deterred?
And if not, would most Americans say they must be stopped by force – American military force?
Samantha Power has a highly selective bleeding heart. She and Hillary Clinton worked passionately to get American bombs falling on Libya; ostensibly to protect the people from massacre by the tyrant Qaddafi when they knew he was not actually threatening them – only to stand back when he was killed as a result of their interference, and let real massacres rip; including the one at Benghazi of the US ambassador and three other Americans.
Perhaps Dr. Power’s silence since then could be read as a sign that she learnt a lesson about “the responsibility to protect” which she had invoked in the case of Libya. That would give her the benefit of any doubt about her character and intelligence. But whether her silence on the daily atrocities being carried out, in the name of Allah, in Sudan, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, the Congo, and now the Cameroons – is the result of painfully acquired wisdom or merely conformity to Obama’s “policy” of complaisance, we cannot know.
Jonathan Tepperman, Managing Editor of Foreign Affairs, reports on his interview with Bashar Assad. Fascinating!
The best comes near the end.