Recently in International Affairs Category

Daniel Greenfield writes that President Obama is more interested in changing American than defeating ISIS. I hope our next president is less nuanced.

When reporters ask Obama how he plans to win the war, he smirks tiredly at them and launches into another condescending explanation about how the situation is far too complicated for anything as simple as bombs to work. Underneath that explanation is the belief that wars are unwinnable.

Obama knows that Americans won't accept "war just doesn't work" as an answer to Islamic terrorism. So he demonstrates to them that wars don't work by fighting wars that are meant to fail.

So who are Obama's enemies? Well, he doesn't seem to like America that much.

Obama responded to ISIS by denying it's a threat. Once that stopped being a viable strategy, he began to stall for time. And he's still stalling for time, not to beat ISIS, but to wait until ISIS falls out of the headlines. That has been his approach to all his scandals from ObamaCare to the IRS to the VA.

Lie like crazy and wait for people to forget about it and turn their attention to something else.

This is a containment strategy, but not for ISIS. It's a containment strategy for America. Obama isn't trying to bottle up ISIS except as a means of bottling up America. He doesn't see the Caliph of the Islamic State as the real threat, but the average American who watches the latest beheading on the news and wonders why his government doesn't do something about it. To the left it isn't the Caliph of ISIS who starts the wars we ought to worry about, but Joe in Tennessee, Bill in California or Pete in Minnesota.

That is why Obama sounds bored when talking about beating ISIS, but heats up when the conversation turns to fighting Republicans. It's why Hillary Clinton named Republicans, not ISIS, as her enemy.

The left is not interested in making war on ISIS. It is too busy making war on America.

Walter Russell Mead eviscerates President Obama's moral posturing on Syria. Obama calls opponents of his plans to bring tens of thousands of Syrians to America as racist zenophobes, but he's one of the people most responsible for the crisis in the first place!

To think that conspicuous moral posturing and holy posing over a symbolic refugee quota could turn President Obama from the goat to the hero of the Syrian crisis is absurd. Wringing your hands while Syria turns into a hell on earth, and then taking a token number of refugees, can be called many things, but decent and wise are not among them. You don't have to be a xenophobe or a racist or even a Republican to reject this President's leadership on Syria policy. All you need for that is common sense and a moral compass. ...

For no one, other than the Butcher Assad and the unspeakable al-Baghdadi, is as responsible for the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria as is President Obama. No one has committed more sins of omission, no one has so ruthlessly sacrificed the well-being of Syria's people for his own ends, as the man in the White House. In all the world, only President Obama had the ability to do anything significant to prevent this catastrophe; in all the world no one turned his back so coldly and resolutely on the suffering Syrians as the man who sits in the White House today--a man who is now lecturing his fellow citizens on what he insists is their moral inferiority before his own high self-esteem.

Let's stop pretending the Palestinians want peace. All the pleas for peace are made by outsiders to the Israelis because everyone knows two things: Israel is the vastly more powerful party, and Israel is the vastly more rational party. No one begs the Palestinians for peace or denigrates them when they launch yet another attack -- the world basically treats the Palestinians as children. It somehow offends global sensibilities that Israel is both right and powerful.

(Not that Israel is unambiguously "good" or without fault, of course.)

Back in the real world, Daniel Polisar, the Provost and Executive Vice President of Shalem College in Jerusalem, has written an important essay in which he lays out in detail polling data on Palestinian attitudes about Israel and Jews over the past two decades. The data is appalling. Palestinians blame Israel for all their problems, view the Jewish state as an illegitimate colonial presence on their land, believe that violence against Israelis is justified and even laudable, believe that Jews are bloodthirsty and dishonest, and are predisposed to take at face value even the most absurd accusations against these uniquely evil enemies. Read through the essay and ask yourself how anyone could be expected to make peace with such people.

So here is the unfortunate truth: the Palestinians do not want and are not prepared to make peace with Israelis. That's not my opinion. It's theirs. All I did was listen to them. Unless and until that fact changes, there is no peace to be had.

It's hard to read this without laughing, but apparently Obama can denounce Iranian perfidy while still proclaiming their trustworthiness. How gullible is President Obama?

"In contrast to the repeated violations of the U.N. Security Council resolution that pertains to their ballistic missile activities, we've seen that Iran over the last couple of years has demonstrated a track record of abiding by the commitments that they made in the context of the nuclear talks," [White House press secretary Josh] Earnest said.

Russian President Putin once again creates facts on the ground while America dithers. Obama is a man of words, never action. The world knows his words mean nothing.

Act II. Tuesday, Sept. 29th, at the UN in New York. Obama continues appealing to the collective. He convenes a "Leaders' Summit on Countering ISIL and Violent extremism." In his opening remarks, he welcomes the "representatives from more than 100 nations, more than 20 multilateral institutions, some 120 civil society groups from around the world, and partners from the private sector." He reminds them that a year ago he gave them some homework: he challenged countries to return to the General Assembly this year "with concrete steps that we can take together." This year he is convinced that "what we have here today is the emergence of a global movement that is united by the mission of degrading and ultimately destroying ISIL." Together, he tells them, "we're pursuing a comprehensive strategy... ." He repeats his desire for a new leader in Syria, "an inclusive government... . This is going to be a complex process." Part way through the meeting Obama turns over the chair to Vice President Joe Biden.

Putin does not attend this summit at which scores of leaders are talking about the complex process. He has left the UN to return to Moscow.

Act III. Wednesday, Sept. 30. In the Middle East, Russia makes its move. In Baghdad a Russian general delivers a demarche to the U.S. embassy, informing the U.S. that Russian planes are about to begin air strikes in Syria. Russia's message is not one of cooperation with the U.S., nor is it seeking the permission of Tuesday's UN-conferencing multitude of envoys, civil society groups and so forth. Russia, which has been moving troops and military equipment into Syria, is asking U.S. war planes to get out of its way.

To put it more accurately, Russia is telling the U.S. -- not asking. In Syria, that same day, Russian war planes carry out strikes, not against ISIS, but against areas which The Wall Street Journal reports are "primarily held by rebel forces backed by the Central Intelligence Agency and allied spy services."

I've been pretty engaged with the events in Afghanistan since America invaded after 9/11, but the extent of the child sexual abuse described in this article is shocking to me. How could American soldiers be expected to tolerate this evil?

Rampant sexual abuse of children has long been a problem in Afghanistan, particularly among armed commanders who dominate much of the rural landscape and can bully the population. The practice is called bacha bazi, literally "boy play," and American soldiers and Marines have been instructed not to intervene -- in some cases, not even when their Afghan allies have abused boys on military bases, according to interviews and court records.

The policy has endured as American forces have recruited and organized Afghan militias to help hold territory against the Taliban. But soldiers and Marines have been increasingly troubled that instead of weeding out pedophiles, the American military was arming them in some cases and placing them as the commanders of villages -- and doing little when they began abusing children. ...

The policy of instructing soldiers to ignore child sexual abuse by their Afghan allies is coming under new scrutiny, particularly as it emerges that service members like Captain Quinn have faced discipline, even career ruin, for disobeying it.

Russia proposed an opportunity for Syria's dictator to step down in 2012 and President Obama refused.

Ahtisaari held talks with envoys from the five permanent members of the UN security council in February 2012. He said that during those discussions, the Russian ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, laid out a three-point plan, which included a proposal for Assad to cede power at some point after peace talks had started between the regime and the opposition.

But he said that the US, Britain and France were so convinced that the Syrian dictator was about to fall, they ignored the proposal.

The American Interest puts the blame on Obama.

f true, this was a staggering missed opportunity. The President's string of misjudgments on the Middle East--on the peace process, Erdogan, withdrawal from Iraq, Libya, ISIS as the "J.V. team", and Syria--is one of the most striking examples of serial failure in the annals of American foreign policy.

Generally speaking, what the President seems worst at is estimating the direction in which events are flowing. He thought Erdogan was taking Turkey in one direction; Erdogan was going somewhere else. He thought there was a transition to democracy in Egypt; there never was a prospect of that. He has repeatedly been caught flatfooted by events in Syria. And Putin keeps running rings around him.

Worst President Ever.

Reason captures a collection of reactions in the Arab press to the ongoing wave of migration into Europe from the Middle East. There's no doubt that the migration will forever change the host countries, but perhaps the countries-of-origin will change also?

Adnan Hussein, writing in Iraq's Al-Mada, condemned the Middle East by praising the West's values (choosing to overlook, for example, the anti-refugee rhetoric and actions in Hungary, to say nothing of the ethnic- and religion-based Balkan conflicts of a generation ago, much less Europe's appalling 20th century). "The lofty [value of] human sentiment is rooted in cultured societies from Japan to the US," he wrote on September 4. "In Europe and other civilized countries a sharp sense of humanity is inculcated from early childhood...

"We too could be like them and our countries could be like their countries, which do not persecute the citizens and do open their arms to the victims of natural and political disasters. Yes, we could be like them if we thoroughly examined our barbaric political regime, our backwards social order, our obsolete curricula, our media that operates without professional norms, and our religious establishment that interprets the texts in a barbaric fashion, inciting to hatred and to abuse of the other, even members of the Islamic faith! This situation clearly mandates a velvet revolution that the educated [sector] must launch."

More reactions collected and translated by MEMRI.

Saudi journalist 'Ali Sa'd Al-Moussa in his column for the government Saudi daily Al-Watan leveled scathing criticism at the Arab and Muslim nation: "Let us analyze things as clearly and transparently as possible. After the criminal terror attacks on the Twin Towers in New York, on the train [system] in Madrid, and on the London Underground, it took a long time for some [Muslim] religious institutions to issue confused and sheepish condemnations of these crimes. [And] let me state clearly and honestly: were it not for the pressure exerted by the political [echelon], the religious [establishment] would not have issued [even] these condemnations. Conversely, [only] hours after the tragic incident in Hungary in which 70 immigrants were killed in a truck, the Pope appeared and said: 'This is a crime against morality that contravenes the human values of compassion, tolerance and coexistence, and Europe must apologize and feel shame over this disaster...'

"Without a moment of hesitation, let me say... that we are a primitive nation that has lost its sense of humanity. Consider the following image: Syrian immigrants flee their land in order to save the lives of their children from the mass killings perpetrated by ISIS, [Jabhat] Al-Nusra, Liwa Al-Tawhid, Jabhat Al-Sham, and Hizbullah. We are a nauseating nation that kills people for their opinions or affiliation. Compare [this] to the parallel image: in the central train station in Munich, dozens of German citizens gather to welcome the first train arriving from Budapest carrying hundreds of immigrants...

UK Home Secretary Theresa May and French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve write a joint piece about the importance and difficulty of controlling what they call a "global migration crisis". They explicitly oppose illegal immigration motivated by the prospect of economic gain.

What we are currently facing is a global migration crisis. This situation cannot be seen as an issue just for our two countries. It is a priority at both a European and international level. Many of those in Calais and attempting to cross the Channel have made their way there through Italy, Greece or other countries. That is why we are pushing other member states - and the whole of the EU - to address this problem at root.

The nations of Europe will always provide protection for those genuinely fleeing conflict or persecution. However, we must break the link between crossing the Mediterranean and achieving settlement in Europe for economic reasons. Together, we are currently returning 200 migrants every month who have no right to asylum. ...

Ultimately, the long-term answer to this problem lies in reducing the number of migrants who are crossing into Europe from Africa. Many see Europe, and particularly Britain, as somewhere that offers the prospect of financial gain. This is not the case - our streets are not paved with gold.

Does anyone believe that the new Greek deadline is for real? We've heard about "deadlines" for five years. There are no such things as real deadlines in international politics. (Daily Mail, as always, has the best pictures illustrating the ongoing unraveling of Greece.) Greece is a mess. I'd love to hear the various presidential candidates describe what Greek policies -- not negotiating tactics -- have led to this sorry state of affairs.

The International Monetary Fund called last week for European states to accept longer repayment periods and lower interest rates on their loans to Greece. Many economists say that Greece's debt burden, at almost 180% of annual GDP, is unsustainable for a country its size.

Greece has been granted two bailout programmes worth a total of €240 billion euros (£172 billion) in loans from other eurozone countries and the IMF.

But the spending cuts and tax increases demanded as a condition for the loans have hit growth, sending the country into a six-year recession and pushing unemployment to 25%.

As talks broke down between the Eurozone countries and Greece in Brussels last night, European Council president Donald Tusk said: 'I have no doubt that this is the most critical moment in the history of the EU.

'The stark reality is that we only have five days left to find the ultimate agreement.

'Until now I have avoided talking about deadlines, but tonight I have to say it loud and clear that the final deadline ends this week.'

The Islamic State has conquered Ramadi in a stunning blow to American and allied forces. If we want to gift-wrap Iraq for Iran why don't we just say so and save some lives and money? What's the strategy? I don't understand what we're trying to accomplish, but it certainly doesn't look like victory.

Just a month ago, when the ISIS offensive against Ramadi began in earnest, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tried to reassure the world that it was no big deal. Ramadi, he claimed, "is not symbolic in any way.... I would much rather that Ramadi not fall, but it won't be the end of a campaign should it fall."

We can only watch and wait to hear what spin General Dempsey--who has increasingly defined his role as telling the president what he wants to hear, not what he needs to hear--will put on this latest catastrophe. It is, in fact, unspinnable. The fall of Ramadi is a sign of the abysmal failure of the misnamed Operation Inherent Resolve launched by President Obama in August 2014 to "degrade" and ultimately to "destroy" ISIS. Operation Uncertain Resolve is more like it.

There is no doubt that US bombing has succeeded in slightly degrading ISIS--Central Command helpfully puts out a long laundry list of all the buildings and vehicles its aircraft have blown up. But there is scant sign that ISIS is on the path to destruction. True, its offensive toward Baghdad has been blunted and it lost control of Tikrit. But the fact that the assault on Tikrit was led by Shiite militiamen under the effective control of Gen. Qassem Suleimani, commander of Iran's Quds Force, indicates the self-defeating nature of this offensive. Sunnis will never turn on ISIS, as they turned on AQI in 2007, if by doing so they will open themselves to domination by Shiite militias.

Congrats to the UK for awarding an outright majority to the Conservatives. I wonder if this stunning landslide makes American Democrats nervous? Prime Minister David Cameron had previously led a coalition government because the Conservatives didn't hold a majority of Parliament, but now he can form a majority government and lead much more freely.

Free and peaceful elections seem so routine to those of us in the West, but let's not forget how astounding they are.

David Cameron today vowed to make Great Britain 'greater still' as he set out how he will use his shock outright Tory majority to ensure the 'good life is in reach for everyone who's willing to work and do the right thing'.

The Prime Minister used a statement outside Number 10 to pay tribute to both Labour's Ed Miliband and his former Lib Dem deputy Nick Clegg who have both resigned after suffering heavy losses in one of the most unpredictable election results for a generation. ...

Mr Cameron had earlier walked out the doors of Number 10 to declare he was forming a majority Tory government after routing Labour and the Lib Dems in the biggest electoral shock in living memory.

It appears that some prominent scientists and researchers have been hired by the Global Warming Policy Foundation to look into the adjusted surface temperature records for the last 150 years or so. The GWPF is generally skeptical of anthropogenic global warming, but hopefully the inquiry will be rigorous and transparent enough that its conclusions, whatever they are, will be above reproach.

Their inquiry's central aim will be to establish a comprehensive view of just how far the original data has been "adjusted" by the three main surface records: those published by the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (Giss), the US National Climate Data Center and Hadcrut, that compiled by the East Anglia Climatic Research Unit (Cru), in conjunction with the UK Met Office's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction. All of them are run by committed believers in man-made global warming. ...

For this the GWPF panel is initially inviting input from all those analysts across the world who have already shown their expertise in comparing the originally recorded data with that finally published. In particular, they will be wanting to establish a full and accurate picture of just how much of the published record has been adjusted in a way which gives the impression that temperatures have been rising faster and further than was indicated by the raw measured data.

Happy Monday! If you're looking for some encouragement, check out this bullish article about imminent American energy dominance. We've got the right combination of geography and culture to harness oil and natural gas resources that no one else in the world can touch.

"We're just fifteen years into a 150-year process," said Steve Mueller, head of Southwestern Energy, the fourth biggest producer of gas in the US.

Our buddy Putin in Russia is worried.

Russian president Vladimir Putin warned at the St Petersburg economic summit last year that US shale gas was abruptly changing the international order, with serious implications for his country. The early effects have forced down global LNG prices, creating a rival source of gas supply in Europe.

Any future American cargoes would further erode Gazprom's pricing power in Europe, and erode the Kremlin's political leverage. The EU already has a large network of import terminals for LNG.

Lithuania has just finished its "Independence" terminal, opening up the Baltic states to LNG. Poland's new terminal should be ready this year.

Russia has the gepgraphy, but not the know-how or culture to support fracking.

Lukoil analysts say Russian extraction costs for shale are four times higher that those of US wildcat drillers. Sanctions currently prevent the Russians importing the know-how and technology to tap its vast Bazhenov basin at a viable cost.

John Hess, the founder of Hess Corporation, said it takes a unique confluence of circumstances to pull off a fracking revolution: landowner rights over sub-soil minerals, a pipeline infrastructure, the right taxes and regulations, and good rock. "We haven't seen those stars align yet," he said.

Above all it requires the acquiescence of the people. "It takes a thousand trucks going in and out to launch a (drilling) spud. Not every neighbourhood wants that," he said.

Certainly not in Sussex, Burgundy, or Bavaria.

The 21st Century will be another American Century.

The New York Times builds on Peter Schweizer's book, "Clinton Cash", with an investigation into Russian nuclear giant Rosatom's purchase of American owned uranium supplies around the world. It's hard to summarize the details, because transactions like this are inherently complicated, so read the whole article if you want to really understand it. Conflicts of interest abound, but it doesn't look like there's a smoking gun quid pro quo. The appearance is bad enough.

As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One's chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.

And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.

At the time, both Rosatom and the United States government made promises intended to ease concerns about ceding control of the company's assets to the Russians. Those promises have been repeatedly broken, records show.

It's inconceivable to me that Hillary Clinton could win the presidency with a history like she has, but then I was shocked when Obama won re-election.

North African refugees frequently attempt to flee to Italy from Libya by boat. The crossing is extremely dangerous and hundreds to thousands of people seem to die each year making the journey. It's worse than it sounds though: apparently Muslim refugees are throwing Christians overboard to their deaths.

Italian police said Thursday that 15 African Muslim migrants have been arrested after witnesses said the refugees threw 12 Christians into the Mediterranean following a brawl. ...

During the crossing, the migrants from Nigeria and Ghana -- believed to be Christians -- were threatened with being abandoned at sea by some 15 other passengers from the Ivory Coast, Senegal, Mali and Guinea Bissau.

Eventually the threat was carried out and 12 were pushed overboard. The statement said the motive was that the victims "professed the Christian faith while the aggressors were Muslim."

The surviving Christians, the statement said, only managed to stay on board by forming a "human chain" to resist the assault.

Is this an isolated crime? Or do Muslim refugees commonly murder Christians at sea? Hopefully the investigation will look deeper than this single incident.

Update: President Obama has nothing to say about the persecution of Christians.

(HT: Stephen Green.)

Austin Bay rattles off a list of reasons that people don't trust President Obama -- using a weaving metaphor! What's not clear is whether the President intentionally or unintentionally over-promises and under-delivers.

Obama's "historic understanding" has the sad woof and warp of so many of his administration's domestic and international policy efforts: glowing, inspirational, dramatic rhetoric disguising episodic, hodge-podge, ill-considered, poorly planned and often hastily organized operations. "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor" is a domestic example. When Obamacare arrived, many Americans learned they could not keep their preferred doctor. Obama said Americans would eventually love the health care law. A substantial majority despises the legislative monstrosity. Now a foreign policy example: Obama's promise to "reset" U.S.-Russia relations. For Vladimir Putin, Obama's reset was a setup. Putin's Russia is now a neo-Fascist expansionary nuclear power slowing carving and digesting Ukraine. Obama's "red line" threat to punish Syria's Assad regime if it used chemical weapons against civilians, and his failure to do so when the Syrians used nerve gas, is another example.

Obama has an enormous trust problem; the man does not keep his word. But his obedient, word-mongering national media corps consistently fails to call him on this grand malfeasance.

Maybe American Millennials could get some tips from Kataguiri, Brazil's new libertarian superstar, who in turn seems to have been inspired by the older American Tea Partiers.

"What Lula and Dilma have done shouldn't just result in their being banned from politics. It should result in them being in jail!" Kim Kataguiri yelled, denouncing Rousseff and her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

The March 15 demonstration was the largest Sao Paulo had seen in more than three decades, since 1984 protests demanding democratic elections after a long dictatorship.

But more surprising than the crowd of more than 200,000, according to the Datafolha polling and statistics agency, was the fact it was being led by Kataguiri, a skinny, 19-year-old college dropout, and other young Brazilian activists inspired by libertarianism and conservative free-market ideals.

It's encouraging that it's not only the far-left that can use modern technology to organize and publicize.

I've read a few stories about individual Christians (like Brett Felton and Tim Locks), but here's the first report I've seen of an organized volunteer unit deploying to Syria.

This is a very small unit, but if it signals a trend then we are witnessing a significant challenge to the Westphalian nation-state system we've enjoyed since 1648. Up till now only Muslims have been organizing for violence outside the control of a recognized nation, but now Christians are getting into the game. We get so comfortable with the lines on the map that we're apt to forget that the lines are human constructs with no inherent meaning.

An eight-strong team of former British Army soldiers is preparing to leave Britain to join the fight against Islamic State in Syria, the Standard can reveal.

The team are training to fight as a single volunteer unit alongside the Kurdish militias on the front line in northern Syria.

Images on social media show members of the group posing in combat fatigues and clutching high powered assault rifles on a training exercise in Europe.

The caption to one image of a soldier with a machine gun reads: "Bad news delivery system, if you're ISIS!"

The former soldiers are believed to include a number who have Special Forces training.

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