Recently in International Affairs Category
After repeated humiliations by the Russians and Syrians, the Obama administration is again "discussing" strikes directly against the Assad regime.
U.S. military strikes against the Assad regime will be back on the table Wednesday at the White House, when top national security officials in the Obama administration are set to discuss options for the way forward in Syria. But there's little prospect President Obama will ultimately approve them. ...
The options under consideration, which remain classified, include bombing Syrian air force runways using cruise missiles and other long-range weapons fired from coalition planes and ships, an administration official who is part of the discussions told me. One proposed way to get around the White House's long-standing objection to striking the Assad regime without a U.N. Security Council resolution would be to carry out the strikes covertly and without public acknowledgment, the official said.
Above all, President Obama wants to protect his own ego by avoiding any Bush-like behavior -- better to strike covertly and deny responsibility than to admit that his predecessor wasn't as evil as portrayed. Better for hundreds of thousands to die than for Obama to admit a mistake.
Obama and Hillary's bungling of the Middle East will go down in history as one of this century's greatest failures. There may have been no great options, but Obama and Hillary's cowardice and pride led them to erratic passivity that was perhaps the worst possible course.
Would Trump be better? I certainly don't know, but at least there's a chance. Unlike Obama, Trump's ego seems to push him towards action rather than inaction. An active America constrains the options of our foes -- as long as we are doing something they have to watch their toes. When we do nothing, they have freedom of action.
It's obviously fine for President Obama to campaign for Hillary and to express a strong preference for her victory in November, but he crosses the line when he meets with world leaders and denigrates Trump as unfit for office. Lots of people say that, lots of people believe it, but President Obama has a responsibility to the office and to America not to undermine a potential successor. Even if Obama is right, if Trump wins the election he will be the next President, and he'll have a tough enough job without this condemnation hanging over his head.
On many occasions, Obama has been explicit about the fact that his words are intended specifically about Trump. He's said questions about the GOP nominee come up in every meeting with a foreign leader, and he's emphatically declared Trump to be unfit to inhabit his role as commander in chief.
Andrew C. McCarthy says it well: Relations between governments are best handled through diplomacy, not legal proceedings.
Why, when the Republican-controlled Congress is finally willing to fight President Obama to the point of forcing and potentially overriding a veto, do they pick an issue on which Obama is right?
In a grandstanding exhibition, Congress has enacted legislation that would enable private litigants -- the most sympathetic imaginable, the families of 9/11 victims -- to sue the government of Saudi Arabia. Obviously, even if it is sued successfully, the Saudi government is never actually going to pay any judgments. More to the point, legislation of this kind will spur other countries to enact laws allowing their citizens to sue the United States -- and maybe even criminal laws allowing the arrest of current and former American government officials (including military personnel) -- for actions taken in defense of our country and pursuit of our interests.
Since we have interests throughout the world and a military that acts globally (and lethally), our nation has far more to lose than most nations by playing this game. Consequently, while I get the populist zeitgeist, it is disappointing to see people who ought to know better claiming that a veto would represent Obama's prioritizing of Saudi interests over American interests. It would do nothing of the sort.
President Obama isn't solely at fault for the systematic collapse of American foreign policy over the past eight years, but there sure have been a lot of failures.
The Era of Hope and Change has been one prolonged act of suicide. If anyone had said that Obama would manage to alienate Israel and the Philippines, lose Turkey, pay Iran a hundred billion dollars, preside over the loss of a won war in Afghanistan, lose billions of dollars in military equipment to ISIS, watch a consulate burn, restart the Cold War with Russia, cause Japan to re-arm and go the knife's edge with China would you have believed it? If someone had told you in 2008 millions of refugees would be heading for Europe and that the UK would leave the EU after Obama went there to campaign for them to remain would you not have laughed?
Michael J. Totten argues that paying ransom to Iran for the four Americans they kidnapped is bad enough, but we shouldn't ever transfer any money to countries that are openly hostile to us.
Even so, let's just say for the sake of argument that this didn't even resemble a ransom payment. Let's pretend, for the sake of discussion, that Iran released its hostages because it had a guilty conscience and that the arrival of the 400 million in cash was a total coincidence. And let's also pretend--while acknowledging that we're venturing deep into an alternative universe here--that the 400 million shouldn't have gone to the American victims of Iranian terrorism and hostage-taking.
Washington was still wrong to pay Iran the 400 million.
Because the United States shouldn't give money to any nation for any reason that we aren't at peace with. Would Washington have paid back a loan to Nazi Germany in 1943? Of course not. Would the US have given diddly-squat to the Taliban after 9/11? No way. Nor were Osama bin Laden's 100 million dollars in assets ever unfrozen.
Did Hillary's "extremely careless" email practices lead to the execution of an Iranian nuclear scientist who had defected to America?
"The physicist that came out, he defected, he was a treasure trove of information, but the CIA and the Clinton State Department botched it while he was in the States, left him pretty much unsupported," Prince replied, calling it a major mistake to leave Amiri's family in Iran.
"The second time he calls home, the Iranian intelligence service answers the phone. Undoubtedly, they leveraged him. When the guy talks about psychological trauma here in the United States, I'm sure it's because the Iranians were telling him all the things they were going to do to his family if he didn't come home," said Prince.
"Once again, the administration screwed it up. He goes home; of course, he's arrested. And then Hillary's emails, which were in the open, certainly readable by foreign powers, were talking about Hillary's so-called friend, who was a defection, and not an abduction, as the guy was claiming," he added.
Brits vote today on whether to Leave or Remain in the European Union. I really have no idea which would be better for the UK, the EU, or America -- but my mischievous side hopes that Leave wins, just to watch the smug bureaucrats who run the EU suffer.
A lot of the focus today is on the weather:
Millions of Britons have defied the wet weather to queue in torrential rain and even wade through deep water to vote in today's historic EU referendum as a final poll revealed the result is on a knife edge.
Several polling stations were closed in London because of floods as Britain was finally having its say on whether to stay in the EU or cut our ties with Brussels after a gruelling 10-week campaign.
Thundery showers caused chaos across London and the south of England overnight and could potentially push the result towards a Brexit because polling data is clear that Leave voters are less likely to be put off by the bad weather than Remain voters.
Whatever the result, I wish the absolute best for our friends and allies in the UK.
With all the news about "improved" screenings for passengers, it's shocking to read about haphazard security measures for airport employees.
EgyptAir made stops in Tunisia and Eritrea before picking up passengers in Paris. Planes are swept by security at each stop, but former CIA Director James Woolsey told CNN it was "far more likely that someone who worked in one of those airports was able to get something into the plane."
Woolsey called the subcontracting at airports, in areas such as janitorial and maintenance, a "real vulnerability."
"We have to make sure that people are vetted extremely carefully... we haven't paid much attention to this," he said.
(Emphasis mine.) Seems like an obvious vulnerability, no?
The recently leaked Panama Papers reflect pretty well on America and "global capitalism". It's the corrupt, kleptocratic countries that look bad, but that's nothing new.
Consider the big names that have shown up so far on the list. With the notable exception of Iceland, these are not countries I would describe as "capitalist": Russia, Pakistan, Iraq, Ukraine, Egypt. They're countries where kleptocratic government officials amass money not through commerce, but through quasi-legal extortion, or siphoning off the till. This is an activity that has gone on long before capitalism, and probably before there was money. Presenting this as an indictment of global capitalism is like presenting Romeo and Juliet as an after school special on the dangers of playing with knives.
Since there are so few Americans named in the leak, some people have wondered if the American government is behind it. Who knows?
Putin continues to dominate world events despite his weak hand. Read the whole thing for a long analysis, but here's the nut. Don't forget: all this began under Hillary Clinton's watch as Secretary of State.
Already, Vladimir Putin looks to be one of the conflict's winners. When it comes to the war in Syria, he is now in control. Without his bombers, military advisors and special forces, the weakened Syrian army wouldn't be able to make any advances at all. Indeed, it was the looming defeat of Assad that pushed Putin to intervene at the end of September in the first place. At the time, Putin was still claiming that his goal was that of defeating IS -- and many Western governments hoped naively that perhaps Russia could finally impose order in Syria.
Since then, though, it has become clear that the opposite is true: In four-and-a-half months, Putin has reversed the momentum in the Syrian civil war in favor of dictator Assad and has increased the chaos -- all while largely ignoring Islamic State. What's more, Moscow has targeted exactly those rebels that the West had hoped would fight IS. Putin has embarrassed the US superpower, discredited the UN and transformed Russia into an influential power in the Middle East.
In addition, his brutal operation has driven tens of thousands of people to take flight, thus intensifying the conflict between the EU and Turkey, dividing Europe even further and propelling the Continent's right-wing populist parties to unprecedented heights. Those are all desired side-effects that conform to Moscow's calculus: Everything that hurts Europe makes Russia stronger.
Berlin, too, has become convinced that Putin's involvement in Syria is about more than merely providing support for his ally Assad -- and about more than just the Middle East. For Putin, it's about Europe, about ending the sanctions and about recognition of Russia's zone of influence. "Putin is intentionally aggravating the refugee crisis in order to destabilize the EU. That is part of Russia's hybrid war," says German parliamentarian Niels Annen, foreign policy spokesman for the Social Democrats (SPD).
It has become increasingly clear that Russia is not a partner in the fight against Islamic State, as some in Europe had hoped. Rather, Russia is an adversary that is willing to achieve its goals by way of violence if necessary.
The analysis writes itself. Filmmakers robbed by refugees they're advocating for.
Two Dutch, pro-immigration filmmakers published a video Saturday of themselves getting brutally robbed at a refugee camp in Calais, France, known as "The Jungle."
Journalist Maaike Engels and photographer Teun Voeten were attacked at knife point while obtaining footage for their documentary "Calais: Welcome to "The Jungle." The video shows Voeten getting tackled down by three masked men, before one man threatens Engels with a knife.
Nina Shea writes of the thousands of Christians being murdered in the Middle East by ISIS. Pray for these martyrs, and pray that the Gospel of Christ will work powerfully in the region for the salvation of millions. Pray that the rest of the world will wake up to this genocide and put an end to it.
On October 1, the grim details emerged of twelve other Christians murdered, this time explicitly for refusing to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ. Christian Aid Mission of Charlottesville, Va., received eyewitness reports from relatives of the victims that, outside Aleppo on August 28, ISIS militants crucified a twelve-year old Christian boy and his Syrian missionary father, along with two other men with the ministry. "All were badly brutalized and then crucified," the Protestant ministry director said. The boy had his fingertips cut off, in an attempt to force his father to convert to Islam. Their bodies were left hanging on the crosses for two days, under signs reading "infidels."
In a separate incident on the same day, ISIS militants publicly raped two Christian women, ages 29 and 33, in front of a crowd summoned by the jihadis, and then beheaded them, along with six men, when they refused to convert to Islam. "Villagers said some were praying in the name of Jesus, others said some were praying the Lord's prayer, and others said some of them lifted their heads to commend their spirits to Jesus," the ministry director, who had baptized some of the victims, said. According to the witnesses, "One of the women looked up and seemed to be almost smiling as she said, 'Jesus!'" Their bodies were then crucified.
Here's a sad tale about how anti-ISIS activists in the group Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS) view America under President Obama.
The members of R.B.S.S. are utterly frustrated with the efforts of the West to defeat both Assad, who has fended off the opposition so far, and ISIS, which has suffered recent losses in Iraq and Syria, but which has proved capable of exacting suffering from Sinai to Beirut to Paris.
"The problem the Syrian people have with the United States is that we are suffering for five years with barrel bombs," one R.B.S.S. journalist said. "Assad has killed so many innocents, and many people have lost hope. After Assad's chemical attack, when he crossed the so-called 'red line,' the U.S. just took the weapons. It made America look like a liar and weak.
We look that way because of President Obama.
President Obama wants more restrictions on gun ownership, and apparently he's willing to deceive people to get his way. He says that America has more mass shootings than other developed countries, but he completely neglects to account for our vastly larger population.
Let's look at mass public shootings from 2009 to the middle of June this year. To compare fairly with American shootings, I excluded attacks that might be better classified as struggles over sovereignty. For instance, I did not count the 22 people killed in the Macedonian town of Kumanovo last month.
Norway had the highest annual death rate, with two mass public shooting fatalities per million people. Macedonia had a rate of 0.38, Serbia 0.28, Slovakia 0.20, Finland 0.14, Belgium 0.14 and the Czech Republic 0.13. The U.S. comes in eighth with 0.095 mass public shooting fatalities per million people. Austria and Switzerland are close behind.
In terms of the frequency of attacks, the U.S. ranks ninth, with 0.09 attacks per million people. Macedonia, Serbia, Switzerland, Norway, Slovakia, Finland, Belgium and the Czech Republic all had higher rates.
It's not politically correct to say it, but Christians are the most persecuted group in the world. Kudos to European Parliament President Martin Schulz for calling attention to the plight of Christians around the world.
In Wednesday's meeting, EP President Martin Schulz said that the persecution of Christians is "undervalued" and does not receive enough attention, which has also meant that it "hasn't been properly addressed."
Schulz's concerns were echoed by EP Vice President Antonio Tajani, who warned that Europe sometimes "falls into the temptation of thinking we can ignore this task," referring to the protection Christians throughout the world who suffer persecution.
Speakers cited the work of Open Doors, a human rights organization that monitors the persecution of Christians, noting that 150 million Christians worldwide suffer torture, rape and arbitrary imprisonment. Christians in Iraq, Somalia, Syria, Pakistan, North Korea and Nigeria are among those hardest hit.
Jesus faced persecution to the point of death, and warned that his followers would also. Pray for safety and grace for persecuted believers, and pray that the gospel will be advanced by their suffering.
18 "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: 'They hated me without a cause.'"
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."