On this Thanksgiving day, November 27, 2014, we at The Atheist Conservative thank our readers and commenters – especially our frequent commenters – for helping so vitally to make our online magazine of analytical opinion the success that it is.
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Feast, drink deep, be merry!
We drink to your good health, happiness with much laughter, and enduring liberty.
There is no deal, and the evidence suggests there isn’t going to be one.
Michael Ledeen writes at the Weekly Standard:
He did it again, as we should have expected. Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei walked us right up to the finish line, spat on us, and walked away. Months and months of secret and public talks, letters, back channels, and gestures produced nothing of the sort the president, assorted foreign ministers, pundits, and politicians had been predicting. Instead we are to keep talking, and keep paying the Islamic Republic for the pleasure and privilege.
It’s not Barack Obama’s unique failure; the same thing happened to Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Both of them came to believe they had a deal with Khamenei, and both of them were rudely disabused of their error when the Iranians walked away. Bush’s secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, was so sure it was a done deal, and so intent on getting it signed and sealed, that she issued three hundred visas over a single weekend in September 2006, for passengers to travel on Ali Larijani’s plane to New York for a signing ceremony at the UN. She then flew to New York to await the Persians. But Larijani’s plane sat on the tarmac in Tehran, and neither he nor the 300 ever came. …
The basic conclusion: Khamenei does not want a deal with the United States (aka “The Great Satan”). Obama has been pursuing a strategic alliance with Iran since 2008, well before his inauguration and even before his election. During the election campaign he quietly dispatched retired Ambassador William Miller to Tehran to inform the mullahs that a new era in Iranian-American relations was about to begin, and the “dialogue” between Washington and Tehran has continued for more than six years. No sensible person doubts Obama’s willingness to be generous to the Iranians.
His “willingness to be generous to the Iranians”? We would say his longing to give them everything they want, including – or above all – the capacity to destroy Israel.
And if the US itself were to be attacked by a nuclear-armed Iran, is Obama more likely to hit it back or try to appease it?
Any lingering skepticism should be definitively eliminated by the latest “extension,” which reportedly bestows $700 million on Khamenei every month for continuing to talk.
So Iran is not continuing to seem to negotiate only in order to buy time to become a nuclear-armed power. It is also being paid to seem to do so by the US!
Khamenei could certainly have had a very good deal if he wanted it. If he didn’t take one, it’s because he doesn’t want it.
Why? Because it’s all about core convictions: he hates us, and he doesn’t want to go down — possibly quite soon, if reports of the gravity of his prostate cancer are accurate — as the ayatollah who came to terms with Satan.
Moreover, he doesn’t need to get in bed with the devil in order to achieve his basic objectives. The interim agreement gives him plenty of nuclear wiggle room, as we see from the rude treatment of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency. They insisted on visiting the suspected nuclear facilities at Parchin, the Iranians told them to go to hell, and nothing happened.
On the sanctions front, Khamenei certainly hates them, but he’s grinding down their enforcement, finding myriad ways to avoid them, and getting cash money in the bargain.
On the battlefield, he’s doing quite well, thanks in no small part to American cooperation in support of his (and his Russian ally’s) prime regional objective, namely the survival of the Assad regime in Syria. …
And the new Iraqi government leaders, whom we purport to trust and support, zipped off to Tehran within days of taking office. …
I can’t prove it, but I suspect that Zarif and Rouhani convinced Khamenei to approve the talkathon with The Great Satan because they had understood that Iran could get most anything it wanted from Obama. I don’t think they were dragged to the negotiating table by “biting sanctions”, even though the sanctions hurt the Iranian people and sensitive parts of the economy.
Their nuclear activity has increased as sanctions tightened, and Iranian military activity in Iraq and Syria is mounting. These matter much more to Khamenei than a chicken shortage in the markets.
Yet more lies from the Obama administration.
Kerry said on Monday, November 24, in Vienna – the “deadline” for the negotiations with Iran over it’s nuclear program:
I would say to those who are skeptical. Those who wonder whether we should rush ahead down a different course. I believe the United States and our partners have earned the benefit of the doubt at this point. Many were quick to say that the Joint Plan of Action would be violated; it wouldn’t hold up; it would be shredded. Many said that Iran would not hold up its end of the bargain. Many said that the sanctions regime would collapse. But guess what? The interim agreement wasn’t violated. Iran has held up its end of the bargain. And the sanctions regime has remained intact.
The following is by Omri Ceren from The Israel Project:
Violations of Nuclear Restrictions – Advanced Centrifuges
Under the Joint Plan of Action (JPA), Iran had committed to freeze its centrifuge activities at Natanz. Nevertheless, the latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) quarterly report noted that Iran was feeding uranium hexafluoride gas into it’s IR-5 centrifuges at Natanz.
Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA, Reza Najafi, said Iran considered the activities Research and Development (R & D) and said that it would continue feeding UF6 into its advanced centrifuges.
Violations of Nuclear Restrictions – Uranium Stockpiling
While Iran is allowed to continue enriching uranium to 5% under the JPA, it is not allowed to increase its overall stockpile of uranium during the JPA period. The IAEA’s report, released earlier this month, however, notes that Iran’s stockpile of LEU “has grown by 8 percent to nearly 8.4 tonnes in about two months.”
With the advanced IR-5 centrifuges that Iran continues to test, low-enrichment uranium (LEU) could easily be enriched up to 90%, making it usable for nuclear weapons.
Violations of Sanctions Restrictions – Oil Export Caps
The IEA reported this spring that Iranian crude exports were far exceeding the 1 million barrel-per-day limit set by the P5+1* as a key condition for the JPA. In reality, Iran was exporting more than 1.65 million barrels per day. While administration officials insisted that, on average, Iranian exports would remain around 1 million barrels per day, shipments of oil and condensate continued to increase throughout the summer.
Even though Asian importers bought less Iranian crude in October, shipments were still above the 1 million barrel per day limit, violating Iran’s JPA commitments.
*P5+1 = the five permanent members of the UN security Council (US, UK, France, Russia, China) plus Germany.
So Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has been chucked.
It will be called a resignation, but that’s the usual lie to save the pride of anyone chucked out of office.
What would he have done to offend the Obama gang? Why would he be chucked in the midst of a small war against the Islamic State?
Although a self-styled Republican, Chuck Hagel seemed tailor-made to serve in Obama’s cowering cabinet.
We repeat from a part of our post, Four men, four years – to disable America? (January 11, 2013), this quotation about Chuck Hagel from Front Page, by Joseph Klein:
Hagel … has espoused a deep kinship with the radical anti-war Left, advocated reckless foreign policy positions such as direct talks with terrorists and their leading sponsor, Iran, and demonstrated a nasty hostility to Israel … To have this kind of individual serving as the head of the U.S. Defense Department is to severely jeopardize the security interests of the U.S., our ally Israel and the rest of the free world. …
In August 2006, Hagel joined only eleven other senators in refusing to write the European Union asking them to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization. …
We are facing the prospect of a Secretary of Defense who goes out of his way to antagonize our only true ally in the Middle East and who cannot bring himself to treat Hamas and Hezbollah as the terrorist enemies of all freedom-loving countries that they surely are. …
Hagel … is caught in the time warp of the Vietnam syndrome, the national defense paralysis that stemmed from what Ronald Reagan once described as “feelings of guilt as if we were doing something shameful”. …
How would Chuck Hagel’s case of the Vietnam syndrome play out in his dealing as Secretary of Defense with the Iranian nuclear threat? In one word, appeasement. Like Obama, Hagel has called for “unconditional” talks with Iran. … He has opposed economic sanctions … He was one of two senators to oppose the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act in 2001. In 2008, Hagel was reported to have been “solely responsible” for blocking a bill that would have tightened economic sanctions in Iran …
Hagel appears willing to accept a nuclear-armed Iran as a fact of life that we will just have to learn to live with. … Hagel also thinks that the United States should offer to back off any declaratory support for regime change in Iran. While in the Senate, [he] even voted against designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization. …
Before President Obama officially announced his nomination of Chuck Hagel for the position of Secretary of Defense and John Brennan for director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Obama said that protecting the security of the American people was his number one priority. …
Our comment was:
Protecting the American people from what? From their own Constitution? From liberty?
There is nothing to regret about this man’s departure from office. There would be nothing to regret about the departure from office of anyone in the Obama administration. The going of the entire gang would be cause for the wildest national celebration.
Sheriff Scott Jones of Sacramento County, California, sends a sensible, temperate, but urgently important video message to President Obama about immigration reform:
Demonstrating how it is only the lesser of two evils, the Republican Party, so recently energized and savvy enough to win big in the elections, is lying back on it’s “go along to get along” couch. Or at least a significant section of it is.
President Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration hasn’t even been issued yet, and already congressional Republicans are desperately trying to come up with reasons why they’re powerless to do anything about it.
It would be “impossible to defund President Obama’s executive order through a government spending bill”, House Appropriations Committee spokeswoman Jennifer Hing said Thursday. …
We cannot, literally cannot, defund that agency in an appropriations bill because we don’t appropriate that agency. That agency is entirely-fee funded. As of right now, our understanding is the primary agency responsible for implementing any type of executive order is CIS and we don’t fund CIS. There are no appropriated dollars.
That is absolute nonsense. The notion that Congress can turn on a money spigot but is banned from turning it off is nonsense. And the worst part is that it’s willful nonsense. There is simply no law whatsoever that says that the House is only allowed to X and Y but not Z on an appropriations bill.
Now why would appropriators be so invested in pushing something completely false about the Congressional power of the purse? Easy. They don’t want another defund/shutdown fight. I get that. I understand that a lot of Republicans think the 2013 shutdown seriously hurt the long-term interests of the party. I don’t agree with it, but I understand that concern. But what’s happening right now is that rather than just saying, “We don’t want another defund/shutdown fight,” appropriators are dishonestly pretending that even if they wanted one, it’s impossible. Which is balderdash.
The excuse they’re trying to make is that because the USCIS, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, is funded primarily by mandatory, rather than discretionary spending, they have no way to whack it with an annual appropriations bill. …
It’s a clever little argument. Completely wrong, but clever. What these appropriators want you to believe is that “not subject to annual appropriations” and “cannot be changed via an appropriations bill” are synonymous. They’re not. …
The only thing that differentiates mandatory and discretionary spending is how often each must be re-authorized. Every single dollar spent by the federal government must be first appropriated by Congress.
Just because some spending is not subject to annual appropriation doesn’t mean it’s not subject to appropriation at all. Congress can’t block Obama’s executive order by shutting down the government, but it most certainly can defund it by law.
Congress adds riders and prohibitions to appropriations bills all the time. Why? Because it can. That’s kind of the whole purpose of Article 1, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution:
No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law.
And from that power of the purse come the most powerful words in federal law. [Congress can say:] “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no funds shall be appropriated or otherwise made available for ______.”
That’s it. That’s literally all it takes. …
Republicans can add defunding language to any bill whenever they so choose.
The issue is not that they can’t use the power of the purse to block Obama’s lawless power grab. The issue is that they don’t want to. The real shame is that they can’t even be honest about that.
At UC Berkeley, students are content to let the flag of ISIS be waved on their campus, and some even wish the flag-waver “Welcome!” and “Good luck!”.
When he switches to an Israeli flag, students shriek fury at him.
How much worse race relations have become since Barack Obama was elected (ludicrously) to the presidency. Of course he got elected because a great many whites voted for him for no better reason than that he is black. A totally racist reason. So the signs for the elimination of race as a divisive political issue were not good.
It was a very poor reason to vote for him, his skin color. In no way did he, although a black American, embody the experience and historical consciousness of most black Americans. Through his paternal line he is a member of the Luo tribe of East Africa. His (Muslim and Communist) Luo father was not even an immigrant in America, only a short-stay student visitor. So if some thought a vote for Obama was a vote to make amends to black Americans for the enslavement of their ancestors, they widely missed the mark.
In two of his columns syndicated today, Thomas Sowell deplores the latest measures Obama is taking to stress and exploit racial differences.
First he writes against a policy being implemented in Minneapolis to privilege black delinquent children by giving them lighter punishment than white children who commit the same offenses:
If anyone still has any doubt about the utter cynicism of the Obama administration, a recent agreement between the federal government and the Minneapolis Public Schools should open their eyes.
Under the Obama administration, both the Department of Education and the Department of Justice have been leaning on public schools around the country to reduce what they call the “disproportionate” numbers of black male students who are punished for various offenses in schools.
Under an implicit threat of losing their federal subsidies, the Minneapolis Public Schools have agreed to reduce the disparity in punishment of black students by 25% by the end of this school year, and then by 50%, 75% and finally 100% in each of the following years.
In other words, there are now racial quota limits for punishment in the Minneapolis schools.
If we stop and think — as old-fashioned as that may seem — there is not the slightest reason to expect black males to commit the same number of offenses as Asian females or any other set of students.
When different groups of human beings have behaved differently in all sorts of ways, in countries around the world, for thousands of years of recorded history, why would we accept as dogma that the only reason one set of students gets punished more than others is because the people who are doing the punishing are picking on them?
Politically — which is the way the Obama administration looks at everything — any time they can depict blacks as victims, and depict themselves as their rescuers, that means an opportunity to get out the black vote for Democrats.
On the surface, this may look like a favor to blacks. But only on the surface.
Anyone with common sense knows that letting a kid get away with bad behavior is an open invitation to worse behavior in the future. Punishing a kid for misbehavior in school when he is 10 years old may reduce the chances that he will have to be sent to prison when he is 20 years old.
Other schools in other cities, which have also caved under pressure from the federal government, and agreed to lighten up on black kids who misbehave, have reported an increase in misbehavior, including violence. Who would have thought otherwise?
Letting kids who are behavior problems in schools grow up to become hoodlums and then criminals is no favor to them or to the black community. Moreover, it takes no more than a small fraction of troublemakers in a class to make it impossible to give that class a decent education. And for many poor people, whether black or white, education is their one big chance to escape poverty.
Next, Sowell writes about the absurd policy of enforcing “racial quotas for academic performance” in public schools:
Just as school boards across the country scramble to meet new federal limits for punishing black students, Obama’s educrats now want them to hit racial quotas for academic performance, too.
Last month, slipping almost everybody’s notice, the Education Department’s office for civil rights issued a guidance letter to 14,000 local school districts that expands “racial equity” beyond school discipline into virtually every aspect of public education.
Breathtaking in its scope, the 37-page edict warns school boards that they have to reach the same equity, based on “disparate impact” statistics, in:
1) advanced placement courses;
2) gifted and talented programs;
3) distribution of funds;
4) school facilities;
5) technology; and,
6) teacher talent, experience and diversity.
Those who don’t get their numbers right risk forfeiting federal funding and being investigated for discrimination. It doesn’t matter if school policies provide black students equal access to fast-track programs and resources. Or if standards are color-blind.
If disproportionate numbers of African-Americans don’t avail themselves of those policies, schools can expect a visit from Obama’s diversity cops. …
From now on, racial imbalances in “advanced placement and international baccalaureate courses, gifted and talent programs” and other honors programs will be flagged by Obama’s racial bean counters. If your school has “too many” whites and Asians and “too few” blacks in those programs, you might want to lawyer up. …
Of course, most boards will not want to fight Washington and risk losing subsidies. So they’ll more than likely work to get their numbers right — even if it means lowering entrance standards and curving test scores.
Liability does not end there. The Obama regime also sees as racist disparities in the quality of facilities, resources and teachers. …
It blames these allegedly discriminatory disparities for lower black graduation rates. …
School districts that show statistical disparities by race will be aggressively investigated under the administration’s unconstitutional disparate impact theory and “be expected to put in place a clear plan for remedying the inequality in a timely fashion.” …
In effect, activist federal bureaucrats are micromanaging all local school decisions now, with the goal of massive redistribution of resources and outcomes.
The best way to ensure underprivileged kids have access to quality education is to give their parents better options through school choice facilitated by education vouchers. But Democrats and their school union donors fight such common-sense solutions and opt for race-baiting instead.
The incoming GOP majority in Congress ought to demand the administration rescind its draconian new school policy guidance.
Nowhere at this time is the result of Obama’s racist policies more starkly apparent than in Ferguson, Missouri.
Obama made an unscheduled visit to the black leaders of recent protest riots there and told them to “Stay on course”.
Seems they will.
Kerry Picket writes at Breitbart:
Protesters anxiously awaiting the St. Louis grand jury decision relating to the shooting death of 18-year-old Mike Brown have been training activists all weekend in preparation for the day the grand jury makes an announcement about whether to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for Brown’s death.
Regardless of the verdict, then, “activists” will protest.
In a small room located on South Jefferson Avenue … organizers like Rev. Osagyefo Sekou are instructing groups of individuals about tactics relating to resisting police commandsduring demonstrations. Sekou is a St. Louis native who grew up in the area but now lives in Massachusetts.
He’s come to Ferguson specially for the sport.
Topics covered by organizers like Sekou … included decentralized protest actions, jail support, first aid, legal issues, as well as staying safe on the streets during demonstrations. …
Sekou says to the group, “Our task in part is, in addition to all the information is get a sense as to why we are here. We are part of the guiding principles for this movement. It’s militant non-violent civil disobedience. Can you please say that?”
Attendees respond, “Militant non-violent civil disobedience.”
“Militant” but also “non-violent”?
Sekou continues, “And we use the word ‘militant’ as opposed to the word ‘passive’ non-violent civil disobedience, because we are about a direct encounter with the state to create drama to show that we are willing to take a risk in confronting the state because of injustice. Right?”
Attendees reply, “Right.”
The injustice is accepted as a fact.
“We break unjust laws, because it’s the morally right thing to do. That’s why we do it. And there’s a tradition of that,” Sekou says to the group of mainly white attendees – many who are at least 50 years old.
Elderly whites will be breaking the law to create drama to show that they’re willing to take a risk in confronting the state. If they do, there will be no outcry from the media. It’s not as if these were members of the Tea Party.
“And militant non-violent civil disobedience gave us the 8 hour work day. It gave us women’s right to vote. It gave us the possibility of me standing here in this room with you without the relative fear of arbitrary violence because this meeting would have been historically illegal 50 years ago. That’s what militant non-violent civil disobedience gave us. We are angry, but we will not allow the anger to have the last word,” says Sekou as the protesters-in-training answered him positively with rousing congregational “yeahs” after each sentence.
“So what militant non-violent civil disobedience allows us to do is to create a container that we can channel it directly at the state, because this is not about bad apples. This is about a rotten system,” Sekou tells the trainees.
“Because you can be a good cop who doesn’t shoot black people but if you give out more tickets in Ferguson than there are actually people in Ferguson, that’s an evil system.”
Sekou then starts, “So we are confronting an…”
The audience finishes his sentence stating back to him, “Evil system.”
He continues, “[This is] not about an individual police or about individuals. This is about confronting an evil system. And the thing that guides us is love — not the kind of love that you see somebody and you think they’re cute — not that — [but rather] deep abiding love. Say that.”
Attendees responded, “Deep abiding love.”
“That’s what guides us, because deep abiding love says you’re willing to go to jail for what you believe in. Deep abiding love says you’re willing to risk your life for what you believe in,” Sekou says. “That’s what deep abiding love does. Deep abiding love in the front of tanks and tear gas and pepper spray says you will not bow down.” …
At this point some attendees are asked to participate in an exercise involving locking arms while others play the police vociferously demanding they leave the area.
Sekou asks those who are locking arms how they felt after that experience.
“Did you tense up? In those instances what’s the guiding principles?”
They reply, “Deep abiding love.”
“So when you feel the person next to you, you hold the line. You hold the line. One of the toughest things to do is if you are being advanced upon, if you sit, it’s harder for you to be broken up, right? So as they come for you this time, I want you to sit and lock,” he says.
The topic of race came up briefly as Sekou points out, “Look at all these white folks putting their bodies on the line for black people, because this is not a separate struggle. It is one struggle.”
Another organizer, later in the training, tells the group there is indeed “mostly white folks here.”
The sort of white folks who approve of Obama no matter what he does because he is black. Racist white folks.
Under Attorney General Eric Holder the Department of Justice became an agency for enforcing discrimination against whites and patronizing blacks.
His probable successor is Loretta Lynch. Will she perpetuate Holder’s outrageously unjust policies, or will she try to use it for the purpose it was established for?
The nomination of Loretta Lynch to succeed Eric Holder as attorney general is a deft political decision by President Obama. Lynch’s nomination satisfies the racial interest groups yet doesn’t carry the toxic record that other possible nominees carried. … [and so] provides the false promise [that] the Justice Department may improve once Holder is gone.
That hope ignores the fact that Holder, while lawless as can be, was the symptom of an institutional problem when progressives wield power at the most powerful federal department. Holder may go, but hundreds who think just like him will still be managing affairs …
It’s worth noting one good thing about Lynch. She is coming from a United States attorney’s office. … [Her] most beneficial qualification is being an outsider in an era where the DOJ insiders have turned the department into a plaything to appease the most extreme elements of the Democratic Party. Her experience as a two-time U.S. attorney is the one bright spot in her nomination.
That’s where the good news about Lynch ends.
Most notably, she seems to be a devotee of the fable that Jim Crow is coming back, and that laws designed to ensure election integrity are really a plot to disenfranchise minorities. She specifically attacked voter identification laws. She called them an effort “to take back” what Martin Luther King had won.
Opposition to voter ID is designed to scare minority voters and help Democrats win turnout wars.
Her misplaced opposition to voter ID portends a broader problem. The department under Holder has undertaken racially selective law enforcement. While DOJ officials bluster about criminal civil rights cases that never happen, such as against George Zimmerman and in Ferguson, they brazenly refuse to prosecute civil rights cases when white victims are subject to racially motivated violence. Incident after incident after incident has occurred in the last few years, and Matt Drudge routinely catalogs them at the Drudge Report.
A single prosecution of these cases, nay, even an investigation, would deflate Holder’s critics, myself included. But these cases have not been prosecuted under Holder because the prosecutors oppose using civil rights laws to protect white victims of hate crimes. Holder even said so himself in congressional testimony – saying that hate crime laws are designed to protect traditional racial minorities.
That’s code for, if you aren’t one of “his people” the law won’t protect you. …
Will Lynch commit to keeping quiet about DOJ investigations, or will she stoke racial division, as Eric Holder did in Ferguson?
The Senate should bore into Lynch’s views on the same, and hard. There are plenty of skilled questioners on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Armed with the list of racially motivated attacks over the last few years, they should extract a commitment from her that she will break with Holder’s racially selective law enforcement.
Exhibit One can be the inspector general’s report on the Justice Department Civil Rights Division which documents the pervasive opposition at all levels to racially neutral enforcement of civil rights laws. Ask Lynch if she will implement the changes to hiring practices that former Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez refused to implement – namely hiring people other than ideological progressives to serve as lawyers.
Senators might also ask Lynch if she thinks blacks are less sophisticated voters than whites. After all, that’s what a paid Justice Department expert testified to in the attack on Texas voter identification laws. Does Lynch think it is appropriate for hundreds of thousands of dollars to line the pockets of hired DOJ experts who espouse such segregationist-style nonsense?
Senators might also ask Lynch if she has the spine to tell a president that he can’t simply suspend immigration laws by fiat. Or, does she believe he can?
Will Lynch’s on-the-ground understanding of the threats of Islamic terror in New York cause her to reassess the department’s queer biases? For example, will the department continue to employ lawyers in sensitive national security positions advising on terror policy when they represented Islamic terrorists at GITMO before coming to DOJ?
Some might rejoice at Holder’s departure, assuming a clean slate means a new approach. Beware. The Justice Department has suffered the same type of fundamental transformation the president promised for the country. Without stiff and sophisticated congressional oversight, Lynch may be Eric Holder 2.0.
… is not the same for the Coalition gander.
General Dempsey reported on Israel’s extraordinary efforts to avoid harming civilians.
The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, told an audience in New York that he believed the Israel Defense Force went to “extraordinary lengths” to limit civilian casualties in this past summer’s military conflict in Gaza.
The military leader was speaking to the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.
In addition to praising the IDF’s efforts to limit civilian casualties, Dempsey also said that the Pentagon sent a team to Israel to see what lessons could be learned from the IDF’s expertise during Operation Protective Edge. This included observing the measures taken by the IDF to prevent civilian casualties and the way in which the Israeli military dealt with the terror tunnels.
The reason this is such extraordinary news is that Israel was criticized harshly and repeatedly for failing to prevent the heavy loss of civilian life during the conflict, which saw more than a thousand Gazans die, including many civilians and children. Various human rights entities accused and continue to accuse Israel of committing war crimes. Even the White House and State Department repeatedly claimed Israel failed to do enough to prevent civilian casualties.
But when asked to address the alleged “callous indifference” by Israel to the extensive damage and civilian deaths, Dempsey told the audience that he thought the IDF “did what they could” to avoid civilian casualties.
“I actually do think that Israel went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties,” Dempsey told the group. “In this kind of conflict, where you are held to a standard that your enemy is not held to, you’re going to be criticized for civilian casualties,” he added.
Dempsey said Hamas had turned Gaza into “very nearly a subterranean society” with tunneling throughout the coastal enclave.
“That caused the IDF some significant challenges. But they did some extraordinary things to try and limit civilian casualties,” Dempsey said, which included “making it known that they were going to destroy a particular structure,” Dempsey said.
In addition to dropping warning leaflets, Dempsey said, the IDF developed a technique called “roof-knocking.” This involves dropping a low-yield explosive or non-explosive device on a rooftop. This “knocking” is a warning to residents to leave the building before it is shelled. Of course, even this effort to limit civilian casualties was criticized for not being gentle enough.
Dempsey said civilian casualties during the summer’s conflict were “tragic, but I think the IDF did what they could” to avoid them.
“The IDF is not interested in creating civilian casualties. They’re interested in stopping the shooting of rockets and missiles out of the Gaza Strip and into Israel,” Dempsey said.
(It should also be remembered that Hamas, the elected government of Gaza, used civilians – children in particular – as human shields, often forcing them to remain in the very buildings they had been warned were to be bombed.)
Whatever lessons the team from the Pentagon learnt from the IDF’s expertise at taking measures to prevent civilian casualties, were apparently not applied by the US when the Air Force bombed IS/ISIS/ISIL in Iraq.
US bombing kills children in Iraq.
Iraq’s prime minister on Wednesday ordered his first major shakeup of his military since taking office three months ago, relieving 26 army officers of their commands and retiring 10 others as a monitoring group said airstrikes by a U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group and other extremists in neighboring Syria have killed more than 860 people, including civilians, since they began in September. …
On Wednesday, three bombings in and around the Iraqi capital killed at least 17 people and wounded nearly 40, police and hospital officials said. …
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, meanwhile, said on Wednesday that at least 50 civilians, including eight children and five women, also have been killed in the airstrikes, the group said.
The mainstream media do not feature these deaths. The TV news screens of the West are not filled with images of these dead children. They are of less concern than the dead children of Gaza. Because the hearts of the hardboiled media bleed only when the Israelis are doing the bombing.
What did the Obama administration have to say about all this?
When Israel launched Operation Protective Edge to stop the flood of rockets being launched at its cities, and particularly when it mounted a short ground operation to locate and destroy infiltration tunnels under the border, there was the predictable response from the UN, the NGOs and Israel’s usual critics that it was causing ‘disproportionate’ civilian casualties in Gaza. Surprisingly (or not), the Obama Administration and State Department joined the chorus.
You probably recall John Kerry’s sarcastic remark that Israel had carried out a “hell of a pinpoint operation”. And you may remember that back in July, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said that “there’s more that could be done [by Israel]” to reduce civilian casualties. There are also reports of a particularly “combative” phone call from President Obama to PM Netanyahu during the war.
So [on November 8], the intrepid Matt Lee of the AP asked Psaki whether the Chairman of the JCS knew what he was talking about:
QUESTION: Yesterday, the ICC made its decision that there was no case to prosecute for war crimes in Gaza. But also yesterday – and you spoke about that very briefly here. But also yesterday, General Dempsey, who is no slouch when it comes to military things, told an audience in New York that the Israelis went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage during the Gaza war.
And I’m puzzled, because I thought it was the position of the Administration – or maybe it was just the position of the State Department and the White House – that Israel was not doing enough to live up to its – what you called its own high standards. Back on August 3rd, there was the statement you put out after the UNRWA school incident, saying that the U.S. “is appalled by today’s disgraceful shelling’. And that was some pretty fierce criticism.
How do you reconcile these two apparent divergent points of view? When this statement came out, the United States was appalled? Did that just mean the State Department was appalled?
- PSAKI: No, that is the position of the Administration; it remains the position of the Administration. As we made clear throughout the summer’s conflict, we supported Israel’s right to self-defense and strongly condemned Hamas’s rocket attacks that deliberately targeted civilians, and the use of tunnels, of course, of attacks into Israel. However, we also expressed deep concern and heartbreak for the civilian death toll in Gaza and made clear, as you noted in the statement you pointed to, that we believed that Israel could have done more to prevent civilian casualties, and it was important that they held their selves to a high standard. So that remains our view and position about this summer’s events.
QUESTION: Okay. But I’m still confused as to how you can reconcile the fact that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – who knows a bit about how military operations work, I would venture to guess; I don’t know him, but I assume that he wouldn’t be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff if he was – if he didn’t —
- PSAKI: Correct.
QUESTION: — says that the Israelis essentially did the best that they could and lived up to – by extension lived up to their high standards by taking – by going to, quote, “extraordinary lengths” to limit the collateral damage.
- PSAKI: Well, I would point you to the chairman’s team for his – more specifics on his comments. But it remains the broad view of the entire Administration that they could have done more and they should have taken more – all feasible precautions to prevent civilian casualties.
But the Coalition is not required to do the same? Apparently not.
So is there an element of special treatment for Israelis? Do anti-Semitic Europe and anti-Israel pro-Islam Obama set the moral bar higher for Israelis than for any others – or for themselves?
To borrow a saying: We report, you decide.