With all the excitement over who will be the next president, the man in the office is getting little or no attention, even from his toadies in the media.
Victor Davis Hanson turns his thoughts to him, and sees him as the lamest of lame ducks.
He writes at PJ Media:
President Obama is boxed in a state of paralysis — more so than typical lame-duck presidents.
His hard-left politics have insidiously eroded the Democratic Party, which has lost both houses of Congress and the vast majority of the state legislatures, state elected offices, and governorships. Obama has redefined the black vote, as a necessary, no-margin-of-error 95% bloc majority to offset his similar creation of an increasingly monolithic 65% bloc white vote. We are no longer individual voters, but, in Chicago-politics style, merely faceless “Latinos”, “Asians”, “African-Americans”, “gays”, “women”, and now “whites”.
Obama issues a new initiative — and the nation snoozes. He wastes the day on the golf links — and the nation snoozes. He smear his critics, invites a rapper to the White House whose latest album cover has a dead white judge lying in front of the White House — and the nation snoozes. He cozies up to America’s enemies and snubs our friends — and the nation snoozes. For the nth time, he blusters about closing down Guantanamo — and the nation snoozes. He opens the border even wider to welcome in more illegal aliens and future constituents — and the nation snoozes. Lame duckestry means not even being able to wake up your opponents.
There is so far no Obama legacy, except the creation of Donald Trump, a $20 trillion debt and zero interest rates …
Almost every major bureaucracy is awash in scandal or charges of incompetence. The common theme of the disasters at the GSA, EPA, ICE, IRS, NASA, Secret Service, and VA is ideological subversion and ingrained hostility to meritocracy. Would anyone be surprised that another government official pled the 5th, created fake email personas, resigned at 5 PM on a Friday afternoon, declared a foremost mission Muslim outreach, or withheld subpoenaed documents?
Obamacare, borne of rank partisanship and serial mendacity, can survive until 2017 only by bailouts and executive-order manipulations. We now call health care affordable by ignoring the new astronomical deductibles: we pay premiums of $6,000 a year and forget that an annual $4,000 “deductible” ensures no one thinks the real cost is $10,000. Is that a small price to pay to ensure granny has contraceptive coverage?
Americans shrug that Obama has left the world abroad a far scarier place. Libya has been destroyed. We can see in Iraq what Obama would have done to South Korea had he been in Eisenhower’s shoes. Syria’s death toll is nearing Saddam Hussein’s. We gave up our golden special relationship with Israel for one of dross with an Islamist and roundly disliked Turkey that, logically, now dislikes us.
What was astonishing about Obama’s empty red lines that finished off any lingering sense of U.S. credibility and deterrence in the Middle East was that after issuing such threats and then ignoring them, Obama then blamed the UN and the U.S. Congress for setting them!
But then again, he blamed congressional Republicans for opposing the Iran deal and compared House members to Iranian theocrat hardliners, in a way his team earlier had compared them to suicide bombers. …
In a tragic sort of way, Obama has reminded us how savage is human nature, by demonstrating that a vicious thug like Putin won more of an amoral world’s respect for his savagery than a whining Obama earned pity for his diffidence.
While the Middle East is aflame, China is marking out new atolls to control, like toll pirates of the 17th century, European-Asian sea traffic. Russia is eyeing neighbors, unsure only whether gratuitously embarrassing Obama is worth the hassle of another annexation. Is the solution to global tensions really a trip to Cuba or shutting down Guantanamo by executive order? When Castro soon harangues Obama in Havana for his country’ sins, will he, as he did after Daniel Ortega’s April 2009 dressing down in Trinidad, sheepishly reply with, “I’m grateful that President Castro did not blame me for things that happened when I was three months old”?
Obama cannot address the massive debt he has run up. He cannot address entitlement reform. He has neither the imagination to offer solutions, nor the disposition to share accomplishment with any other than himself — even if he had the political clout to compromise and reach consensus.
For the next nine months the Obama presidency will be mostly teeth-gnashing and petulance. He will offer executive orders and do his best to incite division and rancor from a somnolent public, the more the better to please his hard-core base, and to pave the way for a lucrative (and iconic) post-presidency among leftwing foundations, universities, non-profits, foreign governments, sports, Hollywood, Goldman Sachs progressives, and the media.
But at least Obama … transformed racial relations? Not really. Perhaps no single individual has done more to erode racial reconciliation than did Barack Obama. The racialism of the 2008 campaign — the nativist clingers of Pennsylvania, his “typical white person” grandmother who did so much to ensure his own upper-middle-class prep-school existence, the savage anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism of consigliore Rev. “audacity of hope” Wright, the childish calls to “get in their faces” and “bring a gun to a knife fight” – really was the foundation for the next eight years of Trayvon Martin as the lost Obama son, the Ferguson mythologies, racism explains all opposition to Obama, the beer summit, “punish our enemies”, and Eric Holder’s “nation of cowards” and “my people”.
Obama’s racial legacy is the strange phenomenon of whiny, wealthy black elites — whether a Skip Gates, Spike Lee, Melissa Harris-Perry, Will Smith, or Chris Rock — acting hurt and oppressed if rewards to elites such as themselves are not doled out on the basis of racial percentages. … America is now supposed to work on a strict 13 percent racial spoils system, everywhere except in non-disparate impact professional sports or federal employment. …
Cairo-speech mythohistories pass for foreign policy. Euphemisms about terrorism only empower radical Islam. The mythologies of Ferguson are canonized at the UN. All that can be said for all this and more is that our enemies were put off guard and confused that a president of the United States seemed so intent on deprecating his own country and traditions, and thus could think Obama’s sermonizing might really be some elaborate hoax, con, or Trojan Horse.
Nothing in the last eight years is sustainable or can be emulated.
Race relations will change after Obama for the simple reason that if they were to continue on his segregationist trajectory we would quite soon end up like Bosnia or Beirut.
Fiscal policy will change, because if we followed Obama’s all “by his lonesome” Bank of China credit-card binge borrowing of another $10 trillion in the next eight years, the country would implode.
Monetary policy will change because eight more years of zero interest would wipe out the age-old idea of the wisdom of saving money altogether. Government policy will change because the bureaucracy cannot endure legions of more Lois Lerners, Lisa Jacksons, Kathleen Sebeliuses, Hilda Solises, or Eric Holders.
Health care will change after Obama, because if Obamacare were to persist, the entire country would turn to cash-only concierge medicine.
Foreign policy will change after Obama, because to persist with his policies would lead to four or five major theater wars, a nuclear Middle East, Russia in the Baltic states, and Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan as client states of China.
Immigration will change, because to follow Obama’s open borders policy is to arbitrarily declare federal law null and void, and to establish the roots of a new third world country, neither American nor Mexican, along the border, but inside the United States.
The media will change after Obama because it is about to be enshrined as an embarrassing government Ministry of Truth. It cannot again proclaim that the next president is the smartest person in the history of the presidency, a veritable god, a wizard that can lower the seas and cool the planet or send tingles down our legs or make us wish to press our pants just like the commander in chief. At some point, journalists will get back to sniping that the next president should know that there are not 57 states, that “corpseman” is not the proper pronunciation, that the trilled politically correct name for the Falklands is not the Maldives, and that presidents do not normally make fun of the Special Olympics.
We are witnessing the lamest of the lame-duck presidencies, with the power neither to act nor inspire — nor even to shock or surprise.
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”.
Muammar Qaddafi was a tyrant. Little good can be said of him. He was probably one of the worst Arab heads of state – a class that lends itself to only very small degrees of comparison.
But two things were in his favor.
One was that he wanted friendly relations with America. Or at least he did not want to give America reason to invade his country. President Bush launched an invasion of Iraq in March 2003 largely because (it was generally believed) Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Colonel Qaddafi had an arsenal of such weapons; but in December of that year, a few days after the defeated Saddam Hussein was captured, the dictator of Libya declared that he would abandon his WMDs. (In fact he kept quantities of chemical weapons right up to the day of his death in October 2011, but the 2003 declaration was nevertheless a white flag.)
The second thing – Qaddafi was the enemy of al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood, both of which were active dangers to the West.
It would seem, therefore, that the interests of the US and Europe would best be served by his staying in power.
Why then did President Obama go to war against him?
Diana West writes at Townhall:
More than Benghazi skeletons should haunt Hillary Clinton’s expected 2016 presidential bid. It now seems that the entire war in Libya – where thousands died in a civil war in which no U.S. interest was at stake – might well have been averted on her watch and, of course, that of President Obama’s. How? In March 2011, immediately after NATO’s punishing bombing campaign began, Muammar Qaddafi was “ready to step aside,” says retired Rear Admiral Charles R. Kubic, U.S. Navy. “He was willing to go into exile and was willing to end the hostilities.”
What happened? According to Kubic, the Obama administration chose to continue the war without permitting a peace parley to go forward.
Kubic made these extremely incendiary charges against the Obama administration while outlining his role as the leading, if informal, facilitator of peace feelers from the Libyan military to the U.S. military. He was speaking this week at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., where the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi was presenting its interim report. Kubic maintains that to understand Benghazi, the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks in which four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed, “you have to understand what happened at the beginning of the Libyan revolt, and how that civil war that created the chaos in Libya could have been prevented.” …
A short chronology sets the stage:
On March 19, 2011, Hillary Clinton, then secretary of state, made a dramatic announcement from Paris on behalf of the “international community.” Eyes steady, voice freighted with dignity and moment, Clinton demanded that Qaddafi – a post-9/11 ally of the U.S. against jihadist terror-armies such as al-Qaida – heed a ceasefire under a newly adopted United Nations resolution, or else.
“Yesterday, President Obama said very clearly that if Qaddafi failed to comply with these terms, there would be consequences,” Clinton said. “Since the president spoke, there has been some talk from Tripoli of a cease-fire, but the reality on the ground tells a very different story. Colonel Qaddafi continues to defy the world. His attacks on civilians go on.”
That same day, NATO air and sea forces went to war to defeat the anti-al-Qaida Qaddafi and bring victory to Libya’s al-Qaida-linked rebels. Uncle Sam … joined the jihad.
Through Libyan intermediaries whom he knew in his post-naval career as an engineer and businessman, Kubic was hearing that Qaddafi wanted to discuss his own possible abdication with the U.S. “Let’s keep the diplomats out of it,” Kubic says he told them. “Let’s keep the politicians out of it, let’s just have a battlefield discussion under a flag of truce between opposing military commanders pursuant to the laws of war, and see if we can, in short period of time, come up with the terms for a cease-fire and a transition of government.”
The following day, March 20, 2011, Kubic says he relayed to the U.S. AFRICOM headquarters Qaddafi’s interest in truce talks as conveyed by a top Libyan commander, Gen. Abdulqader Yusef Dubri, head of Qaddafi’s personal security team. Kubic says that his AFRICOM contact, Lt. Col. Brian Linvill, a former U.S. Army attache in Tripoli then serving as point man for communications with the Libyan military, passed this information up his chain of command to Gen. Carter Ham, then AFRICOM commander. AFRICOM quickly responded with interest in setting up direct military-to-military communications with the Libyans.
On March 21, 2011, Kubic continued, with the NATO war heating up, a senior aide to Qaddafi, Gen. Ahmed Mamud, directly submitted a set of terms for a 72-hour-truce to Linvill at AFRICOM. The Benghazi commission made the basic text of these terms available to press.
During a follow-up telephone interview I had with Kubic, he underscored the show of good faith on both sides that created hopefulness that these flag-of-truce negotiations would come to pass. On the night of March 21, Gen. Ham issued a public statement on Libya in which he noted the U.S. was not targeting Qaddafi.
By March 22, Qadaffi had verifiably begun pulling back troops from the rebel-held cities of Benghazi and Misrata. The cease-fire Hillary Clinton said the “international community” was seeking only days earlier seemed to be within reach, with the endgame of Qaddafi’s abdication and exile potentially on the table.
Then, shockingly, Kubic got what amounted to a “stand down” order from AFRICOM – an order that came down from “well above Gen. Ham,” Kubic says he was told – in fact, as Kubic said in our interview, he was told it came from outside the Pentagon.
The question becomes, who in the Obama administration scuttled these truce talks that might have resulted in Qaddafi handing over powers without the bloodshed and destruction that left Libya a failed state and led to Benghazi?
Had talks gone forward, there is no guarantee, of course, that they would have been successful. Qaddafi surely would have tried to extract conditions. One of them, Kubic believes, would have been to ensure that Libya continue its war on al-Qaida. Would this have been a sticking point? In throwing support to Islamic jihadists, including al-Qaida-linked “rebels” and Muslim Brotherhood forces, the U.S. was changing sides during that “Arab Spring.” Was the war on Qaddafi part of a larger strategic realignment that nothing, not even the prospect of saving thousands of lives, could deter? Or was the chance of going to war for “humanitarian” reasons too dazzling to lose to the prospect of peace breaking out? Or was it something else?
Kubic, the military man, wonders why the civilian leadership couldn’t at least explore a possibly peaceful resolution. “It is beyond me that we couldn’t give it 72 hours — particularly when we had a leader who had won a Nobel Peace Prize, and who was unable basically to ‘give peace a chance’ for 72 hours.”
Obama favored the Muslim Brotherhood’s coming to power in Egypt. He welcomed some of its members into advisory positions in his administration. Did the possible “larger strategic realignment” involve the Muslim Brotherhood? Did the Obama administration want it in power in Libya as well as in Egypt? What advice was Obama and Hillary Clinton getting on Libya and Egypt during the violent upheavals of the so-called “Arab Spring”, and from whom? Is there a clue in the fact that Hillary Clinton’s closest adviser was Huma Abedin, whose family has close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood? Isn’t there at the very least grounds for suspicion in the light of all this? (See our posts, Extreme obscenity, July 27, 2013, and Hillary of Benghazi, August 27, 2013.)
We think there is. But why Obama and Hillary Clinton should want the Muslim Brotherhood in power in North Africa is another question – one to which there cannot be a reassuring answer.
Since Islam regards women as punch-bags, chattels, sex-slaves, at best worth only half as much as a man (as heirs to property or witnesses in a sharia court), it would not seem a sensible idea to send women ambassadors to Islamic countries. But when last did the State Department have a sensible idea?
April Glaspie was US ambassador to Saddam Hussein, and is charged or credited with giving the green light to that abominable tyrant to invade Kuwait in 1991, though whether she intended to or not remains unclear. Saddam probably didn’t give a fig what the woman said anyway.
Now there is a woman in Cairo, Anne Patterson, who represents the US to the Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt. How well is she doing?
This is from PowerLine, by Scott Johnson:
I’ve foolishly wondered why we’re giving Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood regime — you know, the one in which the President from the Brotherhood forced out the country’s top two military chiefs in order to consolidate his power over the armed forces — a slew of F-16s. If I’d only waited a few days, all would have become clear.
At a ceremony marking the delivery of the first four F-16s to Egypt on Sunday, US Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson explained:
“Today’s ceremony demonstrates the firm belief of the United States that a strong Egypt is in the interest of the U.S., the region, and the world. We look to Egypt to continue to serve as a force for peace, security, and leadership as the Middle East proceeds with its challenging yet essential journey toward democracy. … Our thirty-four year security partnership is based upon shared interests and mutual respect. The United States has long recognized Egypt as an indispensible [sic] partner.”
A pretty statement, typical of the Hallmark Card school of diplomacy, where charming dreamers, in select US embassies round the world, substitute their sentiments for reality .
Suitably rough comments by Daniel Pipes are quoted by Scott Johnson:
1) Is not anyone in the Department of State aware that Egypt is now run by an Islamist zealot from the bowels of the Muslim Brotherhood whose goals differ profoundly from those of Americans?
(2) Willfully ignorant, head-in-the-ground statements like this are the embarrassment and ruin of American foreign policy.
(3) What a launch for [new Secretary of State] Kerry, whose mental vapidity promises to make Hillary Clinton actually look good in retrospect.
This report by the (pro-Obama) Washington Post indicates just how much of “a force for peace and security” Egypt is and has been, and just how much its government deserves Americans’ respect:
A recent spate of police violence has highlighted what many Egyptians say is the unchanged nature of their country’s security forces two years after a popular uprising carried with it hopes for sweeping reform.
Long a pillar of Hosni Mubarak’s abusive regime, Egypt’s Interior Ministry, with its black-clad riot police, has increasingly become a sign of renewed repression under Islamist President Mohamed Morsi …
A series of clashes between anti-Islamist protesters and police that began on the second anniversary of Egypt’s revolt has snowballed into a much broader tide of anger toward the police force. Opposition leaders and rights groups say police used excessive force over 10 days of clashes that left more than 60 people dead across the country.
Two recent incidents have fanned the flames of popular dissent. And rights groups and analysts warn that if police reform does not come soon, the force’s brutal tactics are likely to spur more clashes in a cycle that could prove deeply destabilizing …
The death … of Mohammed al-Gindy, a member of the opposition Popular Current party, has driven some of that rage. Gindy’s colleagues said the 28-year-old was tortured to death in police custody after disappearing from a protest Jan. 27.
Sayed Shafiq, the head of investigations at the Interior Ministry, said that Gindy was hit by a car and that his body was found “far away from the area of the clashes,” citing hospital sources.
But Gindy’s ribs and skull had been smashed, and his back and tongue bore the burns of electrical shocks, a party spokesperson said Monday, citing Gindy’s autopsy report. His case follows three deaths by torture since Morsi came to power in June, according to a report on police abuse released last month by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), a Cairo-based watchdog group.
It was Ambassador Anne Patterson who issued this statement when the US embassy in Cairo was attacked on the anniversary of 9/11 last year:
The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others
John Tabin at the American Spectator aptly called it “a shameful statement” and further commented:
A stand against those who “abuse” their right to free speech is best suited to authoritarianism, and it’s absolutely grotesque to see American diplomats embracing it. The effort at appeasement was as inefficacious as it was depraved: The protests against the film in question turned more violent after the statement was issued, when the embassy wall was scaled and the American flag was torn down and burned.
By late this evening this was obvious at the White House: “The statement by Embassy Cairo was not cleared by Washington and does not reflect the views of the United States government,” [said] a source characterized as a “senior administration official” …
That’s all well and good; the statement does indeed look like it wasn’t carefully vetted (the missing period after “others” … [is] how it is on the embassy website). But a not-for-attribution walk-back is hardly sufficient here. Somebody needs to be fired. Given that the embassy’s Twitter account spent the day defending the statement, it’s likely to be more than one somebody that needs to go, perhaps including Ambassador Anne Patterson herself.
It’s not enough to say, after the fact, that a diplomatic statement isn’t the position of the government; if the same diplomats remain on the job, the views that led them to make that statement will lead them to make similar statements in the future. This is a case where personnel is policy, and the clarification of White House policy cannot be taken seriously unless it’s accompanied by a change in personnel.
Yes, a change of personnel above all in the White House itself.
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
– W. B. Yeats
We were for the war and regime change in Iraq. We were glad Saddam Hussein was deposed and hanged. We would like to see all despots brought to the same end.
But we never believed in Iraq’s becoming a true democracy, however many Iraqis cast their votes in however many elections. Nor is it.
The ritual imitation of democratic procedures is now being performed again.
Here’s a graphic report (perhaps a little too strained for emotional effect) on election campaigning Iraqi-style:
The slaughter of the al-Kaabi family last week horrified Iraqis who had prayed that the parliamentary elections next Sunday would be free from political violence.
Eight-year-old Ahmed was found hanging from a ceiling fan, blood dripping from slashed wrists tied behind his back. Little Rafel, her throat cut, was still in the purple and pink T-shirt she had worn to bed. The killers had gunned down Hussein al-Kaabi, 46, the children’s father, when he opened the front door last Monday night. They then appear to have gone methodically through the house in the Al-Wehdah district in southern Baghdad, knifing his wife and six children, some of them as they slept.
Photographs from the scene are shocking. Pretty nine-year-old Rafel looks almost peaceful, with locks of her dark hair hiding the wound on her neck. Seven-year-old Mais has a scarf wrapped around her mouth, obscuring the bloody wound on her neck. Ahmed looks painfully young and fragile, his football shirt evidence of his obsession with the game. Their mother, Widad, 36, was pregnant when she was shot and butchered. Family members said she appeared to have been running to help her husband.
Relatives said the only crime committed by Hussein, a guard for a wealthy farmer, was to have been hanging posters for Entifadh Qanbar, a candidate standing for the Shi’ite Iraqi National Alliance (INA). …
“It was a premeditated act of political terror,” said Abdullah al-Kaabi, 52, Hussein’s cousin. “The people who did this are trying to make people fearful of working for their candidates, or scared to vote.” …
Qanbar [the candidate] blamed members of Saddam Hussein’s [banned] Ba’ath party for the killings. …
Many Iraqis had hoped the vote would be an opportunity to move past the old divisions but the slaughter of the Kaabis suggest they are still raw.
Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, is running as head of a secular Shi’ite-led bloc … [His] support has waned as his claim to have brought security to Iraq was undermined, not only by the murder of the Kaabi family, but also by a series of spectacular bombings.
Last month suicide bombers mounted co-ordinated attacks just minutes apart on Baghdad hotels that had been expected to house foreign election observers, killing 36 people and injuring 71. Following in the wake of similar attacks in August, October and December, they wrecked what had been a fragile but growing sense of security in Baghdad.
Since last summer, army and interior ministry security forces have assumed sole responsibility for security after the withdrawal of American troops from patrolling Iraqi cities. Officials had already warned that violence would escalate in the run-up to the vote.
Survivors of the blasts blamed hardline Ba’athists, believed to be allied with Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a homegrown terrorist group linked to Osama bin Laden.
Maliki’s government, already under fire for a lack of tangible improvement in basic services, and allegations of corruption, is facing its toughest challenge from the INA, whose main partners are the pro-Iranian Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council and Moqtada al-Sadr, the anti-US cleric whose strength comes from the mostly poor Shi’ite majority.
‘Some are born to sweet delight,/Some are born to endless night’, wrote William Blake.
From UN Watch:
Last Monday, Ali Hassan Majeed, the Iraqi general known as “Chemical Ali” for ordering poison-gas attacks on Kurdish civilians, was hanged in Baghdad after a special tribunal handed him his fourth death sentence for crimes against humanity during the regime of his cousin, Saddam Hussein. Responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands of Kurds, Shiites, and other Iraqi minorities, Ali’s brutality stood out even amid a regime marked by brutality.
Meanwhile, at the Human Rights Council in Geneva last Monday, Halima Warzazi, the woman who personally shielded the Saddam regime from international censure over these gas attacks, received a different treatment altogether: she was seated at the dais, gavel in hand, as Chair of the 47-nation body’s Advisory Committee, solemnly presiding over a week-long session.
In other words, the same individual who initiated the “No Action” motion that killed a 1988 UN resolution which sought to condemn Saddam Hussein for failing to “ensure respect for human rights and fundamental freedom,” urge his regime to “immediately halt the use of prohibited chemical weapons,” and dispatch a special human rights investigator to Iraq, now serves as chief advisor to the highest UN body charged with protecting human rights.
The man who preceded Warzazi, and who is still a member of the advisory committee, is the Castro regime’s Alfonso Martinez, who in 1988 voted to support Warzazi’s protection of Saddam.
Last but not least is the man who today serves as Warzazi’s vice-chair, Jean Ziegler. A few months after a Libyan-planted bomb exploded Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people, Ziegler announced to the world the creation of the “Moammar Qaddafi Human Rights Prize.”
Ziegler went on to serve as vice-president of “North South 21,” the Libyan-controlled front group in Geneva which manages the award. He presided over its bestowal to a rogues’ gallery of dictators and Holocaust deniers, and eventually became the UN Human Rights Council’s most popular official.
With such advisors and such advice, it is little wonder that the UN council—whose dominant members include China, Cuba, Russia, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, and the same body that commissioned the Goldstone Report on Gaza—has routinely absolved the world’s most brutal murderers, rapists and perpetrators of terrorism.
The UN must be destroyed!
In our post Pacifists for jihad (January 13, 2010), we considered what might motivate the Code Pink women, suggesting ignorance, stupidity, and malice. On further thought, we would put hate at the top of the list.
Recently some Code Pink members tried to enter Gaza through Egypt. An Israeli woman journalist, Amira Hass, wrote a sympathetic account of the adventure which did not go quite according to plan.
(A note of passing interest: Hass is the German word for hate.)
Here’s Caroline Glick:
Last month, 1,300 pro-Palestinian activists from the US and Europe came to the region in the name of peace and social justice to demonstrate their solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza. Led by the self-declared feminist, antiwar group Code Pink, the demonstrators’ plan was to enter Gaza from the Egyptian border at Rafah and deliver “humanitarian aid” to the Hamas terrorist organization.
But it was not to be. Led by Code Pink founder and California Democratic fund-raiser Jodie Evans, the demonstrators were not welcomed by Egyptian authorities. Many were surrounded by riot police and barbed wire as they demonstrated outside the US and French embassies and the UN Development Program’s headquarters. Others were barred from leaving their hotels.
Those who managed to escape their hotels and the bullpens outside the embassies were barred from staging night protests in solidarity with Hamas on the Nile. In the end, as the militant Israeli pro-Palestinian activist Amira Hass chronicled in Haaretz last week, all but 100 of them were barred from travelling to Gaza. …
[Bernadine] Dohrn, the woman who has called for a “revolutionary war” to destroy the US, felt that the Egyptian authorities’ behavior was nothing but an unfortunate diversion from their mission…
Unfortunately for the lucky 100 who were permitted to enter Hamastan, the diversions didn’t end at the Egyptians border. Hamas immediately placed them under siege. The Palestinian champions had planned to enjoy home hospitality from friends in Gaza. But once there they were prohibited from leaving the Hamas-owned Commodore Hotel and from having any contact with local Gazans without a Hamas escort.
Rather than being permitted to judge the situation in Gaza for themselves, they were carted onto Hamas buses and taken on “devastation tours” of what their Hamas tour guides claimed was damage caused by the IDF during Operation Cast Lead. …
But they didn’t really mind. Reacting to her effective imprisonment in the Hamas-owned hotel, one of the demonstrators, an American woman named Poya Pakzad*, cooed on her blog that the Commodore Hotel was “the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed at, in my life.”
Pakzad did complain, however, about what she acknowledged was the “farce” devastation tour she was taken on. She claimed that her Hamas guides were ignorant. In her studied view, they understated the number of Palestinians rendered homeless by the IDF counterterror offensive last year by some 60 percent…
Hass’s participation in the pro-Hamas propaganda trip is a bit surprising. In November 2008, she was forced to flee from Gaza to Israel after Hamas threatened to kill her. At the time, Hass appealed to the Israeli military – which she has spent the better part of her career bashing – and asked to be allowed to enter Israel from Gaza, after sailing illegally to Gaza from Cyprus on a ferry chartered by the pro-Hamas Free Gaza outfit.
Hass’s behavior is actually more revealing than surprising. The truth is that Hass and her fellow demonstrators were willing to be used as media props by Hamas precisely because it isn’t the Palestinians’ welfare that concerns them. If they cared about the Palestinians they would be demonstrating against Hamas, which prohibited local women from participating in their march to the Israeli border, and which barred non-Hamas members from speaking with them. It would offend their sensitivities that Hamas goons beat women for not covering themselves from head to toe in Islamic potato sacks. It would bother them that Hamas executes its political opponents by among other things throwing them off the roofs of apartment buildings.
The demonstrators did not come to Gaza to demonstrate their support for the Palestinians, but rather their hatred for Israel and for their own Western governments that refuse to join Hamas in its war against Israel. As one of the organizers told Hass as she sat corralled by Egyptian riot police … “In our presence here, we are saying that we are not casting the blame on Egypt. The responsibility for the shameless and obscene Israeli siege on Gaza rests squarely with our own countries.”
By happily collaborating with Hamas in its propaganda extravaganza, these demonstrators demonstrated that the rights of Palestinians are not their concern. Their concern is waging war against their own societies and against Israel. They are more than happy to have their pictures taken with the likes of Hamas terror master Ismail Haniyeh…
The Free Gaza movement members are but a chip off the old psychopathic block of nearly a century of far-left Western activists whose hatred for their own countries motivated them to hide the crimes of mass murderers from Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong to Fidel Castro and Ho Chi Minh to Daniel Ortega and Saddam Hussein…
These fanatics are usually dismissed as fringe elements. But the truth is that … the distance between these true believers and the centers of state power has not been very great…
Code Pink … is welcome at the Obama White House. Its leader Evans was an official fund-raiser for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Evans visited the White House after travelling to Gaza last June. While there she met with Hamas leaders who gave her a letter for Obama. Evans met Obama himself at a donor dinner in San Francisco last October where, while standing in front of cameras, she gave him documents she received in Afghanistan, where she met with Taliban officials.
Then, too, among the board members of the Free Gaza movement is former US senator James Abourezk. Abourezk is reputedly close to Obama and according to knowledgeable sources has been a key figure in shaping Obama’s policy towards Israel… Dohrn and her husband [William] Ayres are also friendly with the president of the United States. Dohrn and Ayres have been Obama’s political patrons since he launched his first campaign for the Illinois state Senate in 1996. In White House visitors’ logs, Ayres is listed as having twice visited the building since Obama’s inauguration…
*We were in error quoting that Poya Pakzad is an American woman. Poya Pakzad is a Danish man. He has drawn our attention to the mistake in a comment. Our apologies to him. 1/19/2010
From a military point of view, the Iraq war was an American (or coalition) success. Bush’s surge gained a military victory. And it must be counted as a great good that the sadistic despot Saddam Hussein was overthrown and executed.
From an historian’s point of view, however, not much has been accomplished. There have been elections, yes, but they do not make Iraq a democracy. It is governed by sharia law, and sharia and Western liberal democracy are not only dissimilar, they are incompatible.
How much benefit has America itself reaped from its investment of dollars, lives, blood, sweat and tears ?
On December 18, Diana West wrote about the surge and its success:
Step One worked. Step Two didn’t. The surge, like an uncaught touchdown pass, was incomplete. The United States is now walking off the battlefield with virtually nothing to show for its blood, treasure, time and effort. In fact, another “success” like that could kill us. … When Iraq staged one of the biggest oil auctions in history last week, U.S. companies left empty-handed. Russia, China and Europe came out the big winners.
Today she writes:
So much for the lack of post-surge U.S. business benefits in Iraq, as I wrote last week. Now, what kind of post-surge ally is Iraq?
I write in wonder that the ultimate failures of the surge strategy — which include the failure of anything resembling a U.S. ally to emerge in post-Saddam Iraq — have never entered national discourse. Rather, the strategy that “won Iraq” has been mythologized as a “success” to be repeated in Afghanistan.
It’s not that there aren’t hints to the contrary — as when … 42 percent of Iraqis polled by the BBC in March 2008 still thought it “acceptable” to attack U.S. forces. Or when Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, as U.S. forces transferred security responsibilities to Iraqi forces in June, obstreperously declared “victory” over those same U.S. forces! …
Of greater consequence are the positions against U.S. interests Iraq is taking in world affairs.
Take the foundational principle of freedom of speech, continuously under assault by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in the international arena. The OIC includes the world’s 57 Muslim nations as represented by kings, heads of state and governments, with policies overseen by the foreign ministers of these same 57 nations. Describing itself as the “collective voice of the Islamic world,” the OIC strives to extend Islamic law throughout the world, and to that end, is the driving force at the United Nations to outlaw criticism of Islam (which includes Islamic law) through proposed bans on the “defamation of religions” — namely, Islam. This is a malignant thrust at the mechanism of Western liberty. Where does post-surge Iraq come down in this crucial ideological struggle?
An OIC nation, Iraq is, with other OIC nations, a signatory to the 1990 Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam. This declaration defines human rights according to Islamic law, which prohibits criticism of Islam. Indeed, Iraq’s U.S.-enabled 2004 constitution enshrines Islamic law above all. Little wonder Iraq consistently votes at the United Nations with the OIC and against the United States on this key ideological divide between Islam and the West, most recently in November.
Then there’s Iran.
Iran may be a menace to the West, but it is also Iraq’s largest trading partner. … This disastrous fact should dampen — at least enter into — assessments of the surge strategy’s “success”.
But it doesn’t. Not even the fact that Bank Melli — the Iranian terror bank outlawed by the U.S. Treasury as a conduit for Iran’s nuclear and terrorist programs — operates a branch in Baghdad gives pause to one-surge-fits-all enthusiasts. The Bank Melli example is particularly egregious because the bank funds Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Qods Force, which is responsible for innumerable American casualties in Iraq — American sacrifices on behalf of Iraq. Guess we’re supposed to look the other way. But that’s like applauding the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the United States and Iraq without noticing that the agreement prohibits the United States from attacking Iran (or any other country) from Iraq.
Iraq’s pattern of hostility to U.S. interests continues vis-a-vis Israel, a bona-fide U.S. ally against jihad terror. Whenever Israel strikes back at jihad — whether at Hamas in Gaza or Hezbollah in Lebanon — post-Saddam Iraq is quick to condemn the Jewish state, which, not incidentally, it also continues to boycott with the rest of the Arab League. …
… where, even if another military success were to be scored, the chance of that benighted land being transformed into anything significantly better is not just remote but less likely than a Yeti.
This is a way to lose a war –
Stephen Brown writes at Front Page:
It makes one wonder how the West is ever going to win the war against radical Islam. …
Three navy SEALs have been charged for allegedly abusing a terrorist leader they had captured in Iraq last September.
The SEALs’ long-sought target, Ahmed Hashim Abed, is believed to have been the mastermind behind one of the most infamous incidents of the Iraq war: the murder and mutilation of four Blackwater security personnel in Fallujah in 2004. The four men were attacked when transporting supplies and had their bodies burned and dragged through the streets. Two of the corpses were then hung from a Euphrates River bridge.
Abed, the alleged planner of this barbarism, claims the navy’s elite commandos had punched him after his capture and that “he had the bloody lip to prove it.”…
Most right-thinking people would feel that, in the middle of a war, three such brave and highly-skilled warfare specialists, whose expensive training the American taxpayer has funded, should not be facing a demoralizing criminal trial over such a relatively minor matter that may not even have happened.
As far as legality is concerned, terrorists like Abed are lucky to be left among the living after their capture. As conservative columnist Thomas Sowell rightly points out, Islamic terrorists have never followed the Geneva Convention regarding the rules of warfare, as can be easily discerned in the case of the Blackwater security guards alone. More importantly, however, the terrorists themselves are not covered by the Convention’s provisions.
“Neither the Constitution of the United states nor the Geneva Convention gives rights to terrorists who operate outside the law,” writes Sowell.
Legally, under the Convention’s terms, the American military in wartime has the right to shoot any captured enemy not in uniform. Sowell states, “There was a time when everyone understood this” and cites World War Two’s Battle of the Bulge as an example. German troops caught in American uniforms during that battle were shot almost immediately and without trial. Their executions were even filmed and shown years later on American television with no fuss ever made regarding legality.
But in the charges against the three Navy SEALs, one can detect the liberal media’s invisible hand. After the media-induced hysteria about the Abu Ghraib scandal, where American service personnel were rightly punished for subjecting detainees to abuse, some of it no worse than frat party pranks, the American military is supersensitive about the treatment of detainees. It knows the liberal media would love another prisoner mistreatment scandal that can sell papers or earn networks higher ratings as well as simultaneously be used as a stick to beat an American institution it has never liked.
And it is not as if liberals in the media have ever actually cared about Iraqi prisoners. Just the opposite. For 24 years they hypocritically ignored the real suffering of the thousands of people who were tortured and murdered under Saddam Hussein in Abu Ghraib. But that did not stop them from blowing up the scandal involving the American military into something that appeared to merit a second Nuremburg Trials.
This need for scandal that can be turned into a headline, however, has been of greater service to the Islamists in Afghanistan. There, the controversy about civilian deaths caused by American and NATO troops led to a change in their Rules of Engagement (ROE) this year. It is now much more difficult for western forces to drop smart bombs or missiles on targets where civilians may be present. One report states lawyers now have to be consulted and a casualty analysis made before every smart bomb or missile attack. …
Due to the ROE change, one military publication states the Taliban are making greater use of human shields. Taliban fighters spend time in villages or compounds where civilians are present and also bring civilians, whether willing or unwilling, with them as human shields when they go on operations. This has led to their avoiding attacks, in which they earlier would have been killed.
And with the fight becoming more difficult and dangerous for American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, this can only spell bad news.