We return to the subject of our yesterday’s post Curious and curiouser. Even our source, DebkaFile, now expresses puzzlement about the story. While it is certain that Israel did intercept and capture a ship carrying Iranian arms, there are things about the event and its aftermath that just don’t add up.
Our sources discount the overblown claims that this unquestioned IDF success in capturing dozens of Syrian-made 302mm rockets carried by the ship saved four million Israelis from attack.
For two years, the IDF refrained from cutting short the incessant stream of mobile Grad rockets and other weapons systems flooding into the Gaza Strip from Libya via Egypt. Those weapons had already imparted to Hamas, Jihad Islami and the al Qaeda affiliates in Sinai the ability to strike Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Rishon Lezion, an ability exhibited during Israel’s 2012 Gaza operation.
Two puzzling questions are raised by the Iranian missile ship episode suggesting that there was more to it than meets the eye.
The capture of a small merchant with a crew of 17 unarmed seamen scarcely warranted a naval commando force of the size employed, especially as it sailed without an Iranian naval escort; nor was there any sign of Iranian naval units based in Port Sudan coming to its rescue.
The original report indicated the size of the force, and the importance attached to the capture:
The operation was carried out under an air umbrella by hundreds of naval commandos without casualties.It was directly commanded by the IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz from high command headquarters and the Navy Chief Maj. Gen Ram Rottberg from a floating command post at sea.
Then there is the second puzzling question, the answer to which would probably explain the first:
It is also strange that, in their comments on the operation, neither Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon nor any Israeli general offered a word of thanks to Washington for its cooperation, after the White House spokesman Jay Carney described how the US military and intelligence had worked with Israel to track the missile ship and were even under orders to arrange its interception, should the Israeli Navy for some reason opt out.
Is this a sign that US cooperation was inconsequential – or even conjured up post factum?
We think it was made up after the event. What we cannot work out is why.
With the facts on the ground now established in Crimea — several thousand facts in the form of Russian troops — the question now becomes: Will sustained economic, political and military isolation of Russia work? Will it reverse Vladimir Putin’s adventurism and deter future aggression?
Michael Gerson asks these questions at the Washington Post – as if there would be any sustained economic, political and military isolation of Russia.
In any case, his answer is no.
He writes at the Washington Post:
One of [Putin's] primary foreign policy goals is to relitigate the end of the Cold War. His intervention in Ukraine will press toward that objective until serious resistance is met. Like international aggressors before him, Putin would prefer the fruits of war without its costs.
Does he have reason to believe the resulting isolation of Russia will be sustained? The history of the “reset” says no. The weariness of Congress and the American public with conflict — which Obama emphasizes and encourages in his own rhetoric — says no. America’s humiliating dependence on Russian influence in the Syrian crisis says no. The desire for Russian help in the Iranian nuclear negotiations says no. The dependence of Europe on Russian natural gas says no. European Union vacillation and disunity say no.
It is, perhaps, this confidence that has led Putin not only to intimidate but also to humiliate. To sponsor Edward Snowden. To follow a 90-minute telephone conversation with Obama with troop movements. Many Russian goals in Crimea might have been achieved by intelligence assets and paramilitary forces. The use of Russian troops was intended as a broader message to Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East: Don’t waste your hopes on the West.
Criticisms of the Obama administration’s foreign policy are now coming in waves. Its policy is improvised and feckless. Or it consists of cliches (“an interdependent world”) and condescension (“19th-century behavior”).
But Obama deserves more credit for good intentions and intellectual consistency.
Or no credit because of naivety and ignorance? Or – as we read him – an actual desire for America to lose, decline, and fall?
His foreign policy does have a theory. He believes that as U.S. power retreats from the world, a variety of good things will fill the vacuum. Allies and international institutions will take more responsibility. The United States will be better able to promote liberal norms, unburdened by discrediting military power.
If he believes that, then naivety and ignorance is right.
Gerson continues to give him the benefit of the doubt. He puts the best possibly interpretation on Obama’s actions: they may be mistaken but they’re benign.
This vision gives permission for drastic defense cuts, abandoned “red lines,” a scramble for the exits in Afghanistan and the ceding of leadership in crises such as Syria. It dovetails with domestic political imperatives — for Obama to be the ender of wars, focused on nation-building at home. …
The columnist himself has a better grasp of geopolitical realities:
The problem is this: When enlightened liberal norms are divorced from U.S. power, liberal norms do not win out. The vacuum is filled by:
●Radical Islamist groups such as al-Qaeda and Jabhat al-Nusra, which prosper in chaos. In an atmosphere like Syria, the most brutal are the most successful, and eventually become regional and global threats.
●Despots such as Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, who still believe in military solutions — such as using chemical weapons and “barrel bombs,” filled with oil and metal shards, on civilians — because these solutions are working for them.
●Nationalist powers such as Russia and China, which is now throwing its military weight around East Asia. Japan is experiencing an upsurge in nationalism.
In the 20th century, the United States was both unique and irreplaceable because it exercised great power without the blood-and-soil nationalism of Russia, Germany or Japan. It stood for universal, liberal, democratic ideals. We should not expect those humane ideals to thrive in the vacuum left by a retreating America.
He would seem to be using “liberal” in the real meaning of the word, and not as a euphemism for anti-Americanism, statism, and collectivism. In which case, his liberalism isn’t Obama’s liberalism. But he seems to think it is. Which is why, we suspect, he takes so mild a view of the president’s motives and intentions.
Charles Karuthammer, also writing at the Washington Post, is more scathing:
Vladimir Putin is a lucky man. And he’s got three more years of luck to come.
He takes Crimea, and President Obama says it’s not in Russia’s interest, not even strategically clever. Indeed, it’s a sign of weakness.
Really? Crimea belonged to Moscow for 200 years. Russia annexed it 20 years before Jefferson acquired Louisiana. Lost it in the humiliation of the 1990s. Putin got it back in about three days without firing a shot.
Now Russia looms over the rest of eastern and southern Ukraine. Putin can take that anytime he wants — if he wants. He has already destabilized the nationalist government in Kiev. Ukraine is now truncated and on the life support of U.S. and European money (much of which — cash for gas — will end up in Putin’s treasury anyway).
Obama says Putin is on the wrong side of history, and Secretary of State John Kerry says Putin’s is “really 19th-century behavior in the 21st century.”
This must mean that seeking national power, territory, dominion — the driving impulse of nations since Thucydides — is obsolete. As if a calendar change caused a revolution in human nature that transformed the international arena from a Hobbesian struggle for power into a gentleman’s club where violations of territorial integrity just don’t happen.
“That is not 21st-century, G-8, major-nation behavior,” says Kerry. Makes invasion sound like a breach of etiquette — like using the wrong fork at a Beacon Hill dinner party.
How to figure out Obama’s foreign policy? In his first U.N. speech, he says: “No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation.” On what planet? Followed by the assertion that “alignments of nations rooted in the cleavages of a long-gone Cold War” — like NATO? — “make no sense in an interconnected world.”
Putin’s more cynical advisers might have thought such adolescent universalism to be a ruse. But Obama coupled these amazing words with even more amazing actions.
(1) Upon coming into office, he initiated the famous “reset” to undo the “drift” in relations that had occurred during the George W. Bush years. But that drift was largely due to the freezing of relations Bush imposed after Russia’s invasion of Georgia. Obama undid that pushback and wiped the slate clean — demanding nothing in return.
(2) Canceled missile-defense agreementswith Poland and the Czech Republic. Without even consulting them. A huge concession to Putin’s threats — while again asking nothing in return. And sending a message that, while Eastern Europe may think it achieved post-Cold War independence, in reality it remains in play, subject to Russian influence and interests.
(3) In 2012, Obama assured Dmitry Medvedev that he would be even more flexible with Putin on missile defense as soon as he got past the election.
(4) The Syria debacle. Obama painted himself into a corner on chemical weapons — threatening to bomb and then backing down — and allowed Putin to rescue him with a promise to get rid of Syria’s stockpiles. Obama hailed this as a great win-win, when both knew — or did Obama really not know? — that he had just conferred priceless legitimacy on Bashar al-Assad and made Russia the major regional arbiter for the first time in 40 years.
(5) Obama keeps cutting defense spending. His latest budget will reduce it to 3 percent of GDP by 2016 and cut the army to pre-Pearl Harbor size — just as Russia is rebuilding, as Iran is going nuclear and as China announces yet another 12-plus percent increase in military spending.
Puzzling. There is no U.S. financial emergency, no budgetary collapse. Obama declares an end to austerity — for every government department except the military.
Can Putin be faulted for believing that if he bites off Crimea and threatens Kiev, Obama’s response will be minimal and his ability to lead the Europeans even less so?
Would Putin have lunged for Ukraine if he didn’t have such a clueless adversary? No one can say for sure. But it certainly made Putin’s decision easier. …
Next weekend’s Crimean referendum will ask if it should be returned to Mother Russia. Can Putin refuse? He can already see the history textbooks: Catherine the Great took Crimea, Vlad (the Great?) won it back. Not bad for a 19th-century man.
The Cold War is not over. Russia is winning it the only way it could, by America choosing to lose it.
From this Investor’s Business Daily editorial we get a clear understanding of how drastically and easily Obama and his clique are sabotaging the United States.
As Russia test-fires new, updated ICBMs on the heels of its Ukraine invasion, Obama’s top arms negotiator is busy downsizing and mothballing America’s nuclear arsenal and destroying our deterrent.
Thanks to Undersecretary of State Rose Gottemoeller, a left-wing peacenik and old Soviet apologist, Russian strongman Vladimir Putin is inching dangerously closer to first-strike capability.
Gottemoeller, a longtime anti-nuke activist, is the architect of the disastrously one-sided 2010 U.S.-Russia New Start deal that slashes America’s nuclear arsenal from 5,000 deployable warheads to just 1,550.
One-sided is right. Ms Gottemoeller is only anti-nuke when the nukes are in the arsenal of the US. She loves them when they are in the hands of KGB officer Putin.
In a major concession to Moscow, the deal also limits our development of missile defense interceptors.
The administration won’t even certify to Congress that Russia is complying with its end of the deal (the requirement was removed from the last budget deal). That’s because it’s not. And while we’re gutting our nukes, Russia is upgrading its arsenal.
Moscow’s nuclear modernization program includes new warheads and delivery systems, both missiles and bombers. Yet, “We are not developing new nuclear weapons or pursuing new nuclear missions,” Gottemoeller recently clucked.
Worse, the administration has agreed not to even test our aging nukes for reliability. Gottemoeller is pushing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty as a top priority.
Despite her overtures — or perhaps because of them —
Perhaps? Precisely because of them!
Moscow has toughened its posture toward the U.S. and is no longer interested in arms control talks.
No matter, Gottemoeller is fine with disarming America unilaterally, if necessary.
She proposes cutting our strategic warheads to as low as 300. Next, she wants to cut tactical or battlefield nukes, both deployed and non-deployed, even though Russia has a massive 10-to-1 advantage in such weapons. She even wants to ban fuel production.
How can she do that without a treaty? Easy. Obama can make an executive agreement, bypassing the difficult Senate ratification process.
Like her boss, Gottemoeller thinks America is a global “bully” and that its nuclear superiority has created a global arms race. She argues the U.S. must show humility by signing nuclear disarmament treaties and become strategically equal with Russia.
Not even equal. Inferior.
… Most Cold War babies grew up hating the Soviet Union. Not “Rosie” Gottemoeller.
She admired the former communist superpower. Her father told her the Soviets were better at science, so she studied Russian and immersed herself in Soviet propaganda. She’s visited Moscow so many times she now considers it her “second home”.
Second home? If home is where the heart is, Moscow is her first and only home.
Where are you, Joe McCarthy, when we need you?
With her sitting across the negotiating table -
No wonder Moscow is thumbing its nose at arms reduction.
No wonder a Russian general recently threatened to take preemptive military action against U.S. and allied missile defenses in Europe.
No wonder Russian strategic nuclear bombers are flying so close to Alaska and California.
No wonder Putin has no problem marching into Ukraine. He knows nothing will happen.
Even the IBD does not see what is staring it in the face, the fact that its own story makes blindingly obvious. It concludes:
His Soviet-style power play shows just how dangerously naive Obama and his nutty no-nuke advisers are. Gottemoeller’s ambitious plans for further denuclearizing the U.S. will only invite worse military aggression.
He and they are not naive. No one except a baby or a lunatic could be that naive. They are deliberately giving America to the Russians – to Putin, who wants to restore the Soviet Union and its empire. Why can’t the opposition forces see what’s happening and take every step necessary to stop it? Is it because they are naive – or lunatic? Or is it because they cannot bring themselves to believe the evidence so plainly set before their own eyes?
What sense can be made of this story?
Syria flies rockets to Iran: Iran loads them on a ship and sends it sailing down the Gulf, south-west on the Arabian Sea, and north up the Red Sea.
Israel intercepts the ship, commandos board it, find the rockets, re-route the vessel to the Israeli port of Eilat.
Where was it bound for? For whom were the rockets intended? Gaza? How the hell would they get there?
Look at the map showing the path of the arms to the point of interception, search and capture:
Next we are told that the Israelis didn’t accomplish the whole feat alone – gathering the intelligence, setting up the capture. No, suddenly Jay Carney claims that it was a US-Israeli joint venture.
In an unusually frank disclosure, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday night, March 5, that US intelligence services and military had worked with Israel to track the Iranian Panama-flagged ship KLOS C, which was apprehended by Israeli naval commandos on the Red Sea earlier that day carrying missiles for Gaza via Sudan. The ship was boarded by the Israeli elite Shayetet 13 (Flotilla 13) and found to be carrying dozens of 302mm rockets with a range of 150 km made in Syria. It is now on its way to Eilat.
Just how would they get from Port Sudan to Gaza? Through Sinai? Then through tunnels? Isn’t the Egyptian army patrolling Sinai? Hasn’t Egypt closed the arms-smuggling tunnels? Why would Egypt allow arms to reach Hamas, the rulers of Gaza and a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood when the MB is the present Egyptian government’s enemy?
And even more curious, why would Obama suddenly co-operate with Israel against Iran when his whole policy towards those two countries for at least the last four years has been to co-operate with Iran against Israel?
Has he had a sudden change of heart and mind? If so, what will his party, his base, his hurrah-chorus the mainstream media, say to this 180 degree turnabout?
It’s really very hard to believe.
The White House spokesman said that Washington worked with Israeli through intelligence and military channels, and at the national security adviser level, as soon as it knew the shipment was on the move. He said that President Barack Obama also directed the US military to work out contingencies in case it became necessary to intercept the vessel (therebysanctioning military action).
Obama? Military action?
“Our Israeli counterparts ultimately chose to take the lead in interdicting the shipment of illicit arms,” Jay Carney said. …
This was the first time in four years that the US and Israel have collaborated in an operation against Iran – ever since the Stuxnet virus attack in 2010 on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Until now, the Obama administration steadfastly refused to act against Iran for fear of jeopardizing the international diplomatic track for curbing its nuclear program.
The unusual frankness with which the Obama administration announced its coordination with Israel is both dramatic in itself and a road sign pointing the way to a radical change in its Iran policy.
The US and Israel appear to be lining up – in their military policies as well – against the Iranian-Syrian-Hizballah bloc.
This radical turnabout was most probably the high point of the conversation between the US president and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the White House Monday, March 3, after which Netanyahu raised comment by showering Obama with praise during his speech to the AIPAC conference in Washington the next day. …
Whereas Obama had shown impatience, irritation, and antipathy towards Netanyahu in an interview just one day before the meeting.
US and Israeli intelligence sources report that both countries are braced for a swift and stinging response from Tehran … As Carney put it: “We will continue to stand up to Iran’s support for destabilizing activities in the region in coordination with our partners and allies.These illicit acts are unacceptable to the international community and in gross violation of Iran’s Security Council obligations.”
Israel’s elite Shayetet 13 (Flotilla 13) early Wednesday, March 5, boarded [the] Iranian Panama-registered cargo vessel KLOS C. Concealed in its hold under sacks of cement were dozens of 302mm rockets with a range of 150 kms, manufactured in Syria and destined by Iran for the Gaza Strip after being offloaded in Sudan.
The Israeli commandos seized the vessel in open sea on the maritime border of Sudan and Eritrea, 1500 km south of Israel, and have set it on course for Eilat.
Sudan has [become] in the last two years … a major Iranian weapons manufacturing and logistic depot, which supplies Syria, Hizballah and Hamas. Port Sudan is the hub for the smuggling of Iranian arms to various Middle East locations.
The IDF [Israeli Defense Force] said the Iranian missile cargo was destined for the Palestinian Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip. If this is so, it would mean that Iran had gone back to arming Hamas with missiles and rockets after a two-year pause during which the Palestinian extremists were cold-shouldered by Tehran for their animosity to Syria’s Bashar Assad. …
[But] it is hard to believe the Assad would consent to relay Syrian-made missiles to this antagonist.
Some Middle East military sources believe the shipment was not destined for Palestinian terrorists for use against Israel, but rather for Muslim Brotherhood activists fighting the Egyptian army from their forward base in the Gaza Strip.
They don’t rule out the possibility of Al Qaeda affiliates fighting in Sinai as being the address. Western intelligence has recorded instances of Iran entering into ad hoc operational collaboration with al Qaeda elements when it suits Tehran’s book. …
The rockets were flown from Syria to Iran, then loaded on [the] ship where they were concealed under sacks of cement inside containers. From the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, the ship headed into the Red Sea bound for Sudan where it was intercepted by Israeli commandos.
The Iranian arms ship’s progress was tracked all the way.
By Israel, apparently. By the US, easily if that’s what Obama wanted. But why suddenly does he want to “jeopardize the international diplomatic track for curbing Iran’s nuclear program“?
Will Jay Carney, standing there among the flying pigs, do something he has never done before – tell the truth and explain everything?
That’s not very likely, but then much is not very likely in these bizarre events.
We are in principle against intervention in the internal affairs of other countries. But we are not for isolationism or pacifism – we regard either philosophy as a formula for national suicide. If other countries become belligerent, build up their armed strength, send their warships towards our shores, establish bases in countries on our borders, and declare their aggressive intentions towards us, the politics of those countries become our business. That is happening now. We are under threat – because Obama is deliberately weakening America. And his reaction to the result is to weaken America even more.
The conditions for major war develop much more easily when the U.S. is too weak. They are developing as we speak.
To a meaningful extent, the significant increase we’ve seen in unrest around the globe since 2010 has been made possible, and inevitable, by the retraction of American power. Even where we still have power in place, it has become increasingly obvious that we aren’t going to use it.
We quote from a website interestingly named Liberty Unyielding. The article on the extreme folly of the Obama administration’s moves to weaken America is by Commander Jennifer Dyer, now retired from the US navy. (Her own blog is at Theoptimisticconservative.wordpress.com):
The collapse of order in the Arab nations in 2011 was the first significant stage of the process. The perception that the United States would do nothing about a Hezbollah coup in Lebanon was tested in January of that year. The perception proved to be true, and when protests erupted in Tunisia and Egypt, for causes both natural and manufactured, a set of radical Islamist actors – the “establishment” Muslim Brotherhood, Sunni jihadists, Iran – saw an opportunity. The establishment Muslim Brotherhood has largely won out in Tunisia, but the battle still rages among these radical actors for Egypt, Syria, and now Iraq. Lebanon is being incrementally sucked into the maelstrom as well.
In multiple venues, Russia has watched the U.S. and the West effectively back Islamists in Russia’s “near abroad”: in Turkey (with support for the now struggling Erdogan government); in the Balkans, especially Bosnia and Kosovo; and in Syria. …
There was a time when the implicit determination of the U.S. to enforce the “Pax Americana” order – the post-World War II alignments of the region – held Russia in check. The Russians still derived some security benefit from that order, after all … It appears to me, however, that 2014 will be the year in which it becomes clear that, according to Russians’ perception, they no longer benefit from the old order. If we’re not going to enforce it, Russia will do what she thinks she has to.
In fact, Moscow’s pushback against the plan for Ukraine to affiliate with the EU constitutes just such a blow for perceived Russian interests. It is of supreme importance for Westerners to not misread the recent developments. The EU and the U.S. did back down when Russia pushed hard last fall. The only ones who didn’t back down were the Ukrainian opposition. I predict Vladimir Putin will try to handle the opposition factions cleverly, as much as he can, and avoid a pitched battle with them if possible. He respects what they are willing to do. But he has no reason to respect Brussels or Washington.
And that means he has more latitude, not less, for going after the regional props to the old order, one by one. As always, Russia’s inevitable competition with China is a major driver, along with Russia’s concern about Islamism on her southern border. The whole Great Crossroads – Southwest Asia, Southeast Europe, Northeast Africa, the waterways that snake through the region – is, if not up for grabs, at least in ferment. Look wherever you like: there are almost no nations where there is not a very present menace from radicalism, or where governments and even borders are not gravely imperiled by internal dissent.
Israel is the chief standout for politically sustainable stability and continuity. Romania and Turkey seem likely to at least retain their constitutional order in the foreseeable future, but Turkey’s geopolitical orientation, in particular, is less certain. Greece and Kosovo – even Bosnia – have serious internal problems. Egypt, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia all remain in crisis at various levels. Jordan and Saudi Arabia are relatively stable, and the Arab Persian Gulf states relatively so as well. But their neighborhood is going downhill fast. Iran is riding a wave of radical confidence, and the Taliban are resurgent in Afghanistan.
In this tumultuous region, it’s actually a little funny that Pakistan looks stable and staid compared to Iran, Afghanistan, and neighbors west. We can hope that Islamabad’s perceived need to maintain a symmetrical stance against India will keep Pakistan’s loose federation of intransigents federated, and the nukes under central control. But as we move across South Asia, we near another boiling pot. Thailand – long an American ally and pillar of stability in the region – has been rocked in recent months by national unrest of a kind not seen in Southeast Asia for decades. Islamist radicalism is a growing threat in Indonesia, and an unpacified one in the Philippines, after more than a decade of U.S.-Philippines collaboration in fighting it.
And, of course, China is making real, transformative moves against regional security with her proclamations about air space and maritime rights off her southeast coast.
This disruptive process, like the battles for many of the Arab nations, is already underway. We’re not waiting for something to happen; it’s started.
China assumes, quite correctly, that there will be no effective pushback from the United States. But two other nations with power and means will regard it as intolerable for China to dictate conditions in Southeast Asia: Japan and Russia. The dance of realignment among these nations has implications for everyone in Central Asia and the Far East. The day may be on the horizon sooner than we think when maintaining a divided Korea no longer makes sense to at least one of the major players. The day is already here when Chinese activities in Central Asia are alarming the whole neighborhood, just as Chinese actions are in the South China Sea. …
Russia and Iran are advancing on the US through Central America:
It’s no accident that as radical leftism creeps across Central America (falsely laying claim to a noble “Bolivarian” political mantle), the maritime dispute between Nicaragua and American ally Colombia heats up – and Russia shows up to back Nicaragua and Venezuela – and so does Iran – and unrest turns into shooting and government brutality and violence in Venezuela – and Hezbollah shows up there to openly support the radical, repressive Maduro government.
Now Iran has a naval supply ship headed for Central America, very possibly with a cargo of arms that are not only prohibited by UN sanction, but capable of reaching the United States if launched from a Central American nation or Cuba.
We’re not still waiting for the shocks to start to the old order. They’ve already started. I haven’t surveyed even the half of what there is to talk about …
She looks at the latest defense cuts with dismay and considers what the consequences will be:
This is the world in which the United States plans to reduce our army to its lowest level since before World War II, and eliminate or put in storage much of its capabilities for heavy operations abroad (e.g., getting rid of the A-10 Warthogs, moving Blackhawk helicopters into the National Guard). It’s in this world that DOD proposes to cease operating half of our Navy cruisers, while delaying delivery of the carrier-based F-35 strike-fighter to the Navy and Marine Corps. These cutbacks come on top of cuts already made to training and maintenance expenditures in the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force that will affect unit readiness for years to come. …
Then comes what should be a shocking observation:
By cutting back on defense so drastically, America is deciding, in essence, to “fight fair”: to give whatever opponents emerge more of a chance to kill our soldiers, damage our interests, and drag out conflicts. …
That would be hard to believe of any American leadership – until now. It is ludicrous. Worse, it is lunatic. But Obama has never concealed or disguised his wish to weaken America’s military capacity.
The decision “to further limit our capabilities to use power in politically relevant ways” will result in “even more global unrest: more conflict, more shooting, more blood, more extortion and political thuggery menacing civil life in the world’s poorer and more vulnerable nations”, and that cannot be good for America. The point is that -
These unpleasant trends will spill over into civil life in the wealthier nations soon enough …
As it has, she points out, in Ukraine, Thailand, and Venezuela, “whether directly or through second-order consequences”.
Peace and freedom have to be tended constantly; they are not the natural state of geopolitical indiscipline, but its antithesis. …
We’re extraordinarily unprepared for the world that is shaping up around us. …
[And] a world that doesn’t want quiescent trade conditions, tolerance of dissent, the open flow of ideas, and mutual agreements, peacefully arrived at, will not have them.
That’s the world we are sentencing ourselves, for now, to live in. Perhaps we will learn from the consequences how to think again: about what it takes to guard freedom, and indeed, about what freedom actually is.
It is Obama who needs to think again, but there is no reason to hope that he will. It could hardly be more obvious that he does not care for freedom.
George Will, at the Washington Post, sees the civil conflict in the Ukraine as the last battle – or “final episode” – of the Cold War.
How pathetic is the plight of the Ukrainians. Their choice is between membership of the corrupt, socialist, failing EU (which is what the people want), or - worse, far worse – domination by Russia (which is what the government wants). Under the Russian boot they would not be much better off than they were when Russia was called the USSR.
So the EU is a haven for them. Rather like sheltering from a volcanic eruption in a cave full of vipers.
The bodies of Ukrainian protestors laid out on the street – sleeping or dead?
Picture from PowerLine, where you can find more.
Continuing the theme of the post immediately below, here’s a story of how the big Shiite terrorist organization Hizballah is terrified of being attacked by terrorists.
This comes from DebkaFile:
The Lebanese Shiite Hizballah, itself a listed terrorist group, was forced Thursday, Feb. 13 to cancel its most solemn annual event in memory of fabled “special security chief” Imad Mughniyeh, over an inability to keep the event safe from terrorist attacks. …
Hizballah and its Shiite following in Lebanon live in fear of devastating suicide bombing attacks by al Qaeda and other Sunni extremists. Since last July, they have staged 10 attacks and claimed scores of lives in Beirut and other parts of Lebanon over Hizballah’s participation in the Syrian war. In a single attack last year, the bombing of the Iranian embassy, 25 people were killed.
Its Syrian expedition has left the Hizballah short of manpower for self-protection. This situation has become more acute since an intelligence tip was received disclosing that the terrorists were now gunning for Nasrallah [present leader of Hizballah] and other top operatives. This has necessitated doubling up security on their persons.
A special counterterrorism command center has begun operating at the Iranian embassy in Beirut. …
This center was set up by a high-ranking Iranian intelligence delegation … [which] had arrived in Beirut to tackle the terrorist threats to their Lebanese proxy. It was composed of senior IRGC Al Qods Brigades [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Jerusalem Brigades] operatives and high officials of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS).
The decision to cancel the Mughniyeh memorial assembly was taken by the new counterterrorism center at the Iranian embassy for four reasons:
1. Iranian undercover agents in Syria discovered that al Qaeda elements were plotting to hit the assembly for mass casualties.
2. This information was confirmed Wednesday, Feb. 12, by three women captured in the Lebanese Beqaa on their way to conduct suicide bombings at the Beirut event. Under interrogation, the captives revealed that several more female suicide bombers were heading for Shiite targets across Lebanon.
3. Hizballah is in the middle of a campaign to raise additional Shiite volunteers for the different Syrian warfronts … A new wave of anti-Shiite terrorism in Lebanon would quickly derail this effort, especially in view of the hundreds of Hizballah fighters who have already laid down their lives in Syria. The organization is intent on concealing the real figure, but cannot hide all the funerals.
4. Its Iranian bosses understand that … Hizballah’s manpower resources cannot be stretched both for providing security at home and for augmenting its fighting personnel input for the Syrian war.
Is an even more radical, more terrifying terror group than Hamas now establishing itself in Gaza and “throwing Palestinians into a panic”?
It seems that ever more “extreme” groups emerge daily or even hourly into our purview out of the chaos of Islam’s internecine strife.
The death-dealing monsters in this picture, belonging to an al-Qaeda affiliate called DAESH, are jittering the master-terrorists of Hamas itself.
The Arabic acronym DAESH stands for the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant”. They have produced a YouTube video in which they fiercely announce their plans to wage jihad against “infidels, traitors and Crusaders”.
The picture and our quotations come from a Gatestone Institute article by Khaled Abu Toameh:
The announcement is seen as a challenge to the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which has been in control of the Gaza Strip since July 2007.
Palestinian Authority security officials in Ramallah expressed fear that the Al-Qaeda-affiliated group would try to establish terrorist cells also in the West Bank.
[These] 10 heavily-armed masked terrorists declare allegiance to DAESH, whose men are responsible for most of the atrocities in Syria and Iraq over the past few years.
Most? Surely that’s impossible to know. But we can believe they have committed a great many atrocities.
In the video, a spokesman for the group announces that in addition to Syria and Iraq, DAESH now has “lions and armies in the environs of Jerusalem.”
Lions? We guess they mean human beasts of prey.
The spokesman says that the group’s goal is to restore the dignity of Muslims who have been “humiliated” by their enemies. He urges Muslims to rally behind his group and support its members in their jihad against the enemies of Islam and “Arab tyrants.”
Palestinians have reacted with panic to the emergence of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated group in the Gaza Strip.
According to reports from the Gaza Strip, Palestinians are worried that the DAESH terrorists will perpetrate atrocities against those who oppose their ideology and activities.
“This group is much more dangerous and radical than Hamas,” said a Palestinian journalist from Gaza City. “The presence of Al-Qaeda in the Gaza Strip is bad news not only for Hamas, but for all Palestinians. Palestinians see the crimes and massacres perpetrated by Al-Qaeda in Iraq and Syria and fear that they could be repeated in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”
Hamas leaders, for their part, have reacted with skepticism to the announcement by DAESH, describing it as another attempt to “distort” Hamas’s image and “resistance”.
Salah Bardaweel, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, said that the Gaza Strip was a “small area with no room for Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups”.
Hamas has not hesitated in the past to confront tiny jihadi groups whose members had openly challenged its rule. Like DAESH, these groups believe that Hamas is too “moderate” and is no longer committed to the “armed struggle” against Israel.
In one of the deadliest confrontations, Hamas security forces killed and arrested a number of jihadi terrorists who found shelter in a mosque in the town of Rafah in the Gaza Strip. At least 28 jihadi terrorists were killed and 120 wounded during the 2009 raid on members of a group called Jund Allah [Soldiers of God].
It now remains to be seen whether Hamas will be able to crush the new Al-Qaeda-affiliated group, whose members are also operating in the neighboring Sinai Peninsula.
The enemy of Islam is modernity itself. Until Muslims realize that, they will never recover from humiliation.
This map and the text come from an article by Katie Pavlich at Townhall:
Government watchdog Judicial Watch has released an unclassified map showing the military fleet positions the night of the 9/11 Benghazi terror attack. The map shows dozens of military ships, including two aircraft carriers and 13 destroyers, were stationed in the North Africa Area of Responsibility when radical Islamic militants stormed the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, killing four Americans including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. Diplomatic Security agent David Ubben, a survivor of the attack, waited severely wounded on a roof with Navy SEALS Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty for 20 hours before help arrived. Woods and Doherty were killed during the waiting period.
Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Randall R. Schmidt supplied Judicial Watch with the map and has been investigating the Benghazi attack for more than a year. Based on his experience as a fighter pilot, Schmidt has repeatedly said there is no reason why military forces could not have responded more efficiently to the attack.
“Destroyers could have responded to the attack,” Schmidt told Judicial Watch, adding that forces in the area are trained to do rapid response. “There were enough forces to respond.”
You may find it hard to believe this, but Secretary of State John Kerry’s ”peace talks” for Syria have failed.
This is from the (Kerry-sympathetic) New York Times:
The first round of the Syria peace talks ended on Friday without achieving even its most modest goal: easing the Syrian government’s blockade on the delivery of food and medicine to besieged communities.
Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov of Russia raised expectations in January at a joint news conference in Paris that a way would be found to open humanitarian aid corridors and possibly establish local cease-fires in Aleppo and other cities and towns.
But to the dismay of the United Nations and other humanitarian organizations, even those basic steps proved elusive.
What a surprise!
Now what? Can anything at all be done for non-combatant victims of the Syrian civil war?
There is this:
Physicians for Human Rights urges Israel to allow wounded Syrian refugees to stay for continued care.
Wounded Syrians are treated at this Israeli field hospital on the Golan Heights. Photo: REUTERS
Humanitarian help pleaded for from the “Nazi-like”, “apartheid state” of Israel?
This is from the Jerusalem Post:
With the collapse of peace talks on Friday between President Bashar Assad’s regime and the opposition, the prospect of more wounded Syrians seeking treatment and refuge in Israel will continue to rise.
UN special representative Lakhdar Brahimi delivered a harsh verdict for Syrian civilians confronted with spectacular levels of violence: “We’ve had just eight days of negotiations in Geneva…. I’m sorry to report there was no progress.”
The Jerusalem Post obtained Israel Health Ministry correspondence showing the tensions and dilemmas among medical professionals and advocates for the refugees.
In one letter from the ministry, the agency defended its care of Syrians, but added that “the medical establishment does not have the tools to ensure continuity of care after discharge, nor to protect patient from risk to his life.”
The NGO Physicians for Human Rights (PHR)-Israel has urged Israeli governmental agencies to ensure “availability of continuity of care” following the discharge of hospitalized Syrians.
Israeli medical centers, including a military field hospital in the North, have provided healthcare services to roughly 700 refugees since 2013. The Post reported last week the first known case of a Syrian – a 17-year-old female – requesting asylum. The High Court of Justice rejected her petition and sent her back to Syria in late January. All of this helps to explain the growing involvement of Israel’s legal and medical personnel on the edges of the Syrian civil war.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 136,227 people have been killed since protests broke out against Assad in 2011. More than 2.4 million Syrians are defined as refugees.
Yossi Melman, a leading national security analyst who has written extensively about Syria, told the Post, “Zionism would not collapse if we accept 200 refugees. Why not?’”
Only 200? And then stop? The population of Syria is about 22 million.
Hadas Ziv, public outreach director for PHR-Israel, told the Post last week that Israel should press the UN to set up a safe haven in Syria, near the Israeli border, to create a humanitarian escape corridor.
Gerald Steinberg, a professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, told the Post that the Syrian refugee crisis is “another example of the bankruptcy of the international humanitarian system.” There is “no UN mechanism” to address the problem, he stressed. The UN is “entirely politicized and has nothing to offer.”
Steinberg, who has an expertise in the inner workings of NGOs in the Middle East, said the Syrian refugee situation “leaves Israel completely on its own without the capacity to deal with the issues in a coherent manner. Israel would not get international assistance [even] if it would increase aid.”
Israel is in a “very complex position,” because it is technically in a state of war with Syria and the potent presence of al-Qaida there has added another threat, he said.
Well, maybe John Kerry will come up with a solution.