Category Archives: Foreign Affairs

John Bolton weighs in on Netanyahu’s Invitation

There has been much ado about the supposed audacious over-reach by House Speaker John Boehner in inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before a joint meeting of Congress.  My view is to favor the speech, because we will not hear the truth from President Obama on the full extent of the bind we have put Israel in.

However, here’s some thoughts from former UN Ambassador John Bolton as expressed in his recent op-ed published in the Pittsburh Tribune:

The stakes are as high as they come.  But Obama cannot be candid about the terms of the ongoing discussions, especially now.  The inevitable consequences of his dangerous position already are provoking widespread bipartisan disapproval in America.

The White House most fears the effect Netanyahu will have on congressional consideration of further Iran sanctions if no deal is reached.  Obama is worried with good reason.  Although Iran and the West have been negotiating since 2003, only Obama has made the massive concessions to Tehran that have brought a deal close at hand.  And it is not just what Netanyahu will say in Washington but also his timing that set off Obama and his acolytes.

In fact, Netanyahu previously addressed a joint session of Congress on May 24, 2011, demonstrating, among other things, his gaping differences with Obama regarding Israel’s ultimate borders, under negotiation with the Palestinians.  The New York Times reported that “Mr. Netanyahu received so many standing ovations that at times it appeared that the lawmakers were listening to his speech standing up.”  Even worse, from Obama’s perspective, The Times said Netanyahu’s “speech had many of the trappings of a presidential State of the Union address.”

Ironically, Obama touched off the current controversy when he persuaded or allowed British Prime Minister David Cameron to lobby members of Congress against the pending Iran sanctions proposals.  At a joint Obama-Cameron news conference in Washington, the British leader answered forthrightly that he had spoken with senators and would likely speak to more, to convey “the opinion of the United Kingdom” that sanctions legislation would impair the ongoing negotiations.

Although publicly admitting Cameron’s lobbying effort was highly unusual, they [Senators] were hardly shocked in a day when foreign countries hire Washington lobbying firms to influence Congress, the executive branch and even U.S. public opinion.  And even less shockingly, we do the same to foreign governments.

What likely irritated Obama more was that Netanyahu’s star power will almost certainly eclipse Cameron’s and that the arguments in favor of sanctions legislation are more persuasive than the Obama-Cameron view has been thus far.  Moreover, British parliamentary elections are set for May 7, so Cameron’s timing obviously does not differ in principle from Netanyahu’s.

For the full article, click HERE.

The Consequences of Falling Oil Prices

The website that tracks the daily prices for the two main types of crude oil consumed in the United States is saying that the price of WTI is now at $59.95 per barrel.  As many readers will know, crude oil is priced in terms of 42-gallon barrels, and the main domestic price standard is for West Texas Intermediate (WTI), a type otherwise known as “light, sweet” crude oil.  An alternate standard is known as Brent Crude, which is the average price of oil pumped out of the fifteen oil fields in the North Sea.  The price of Brent Crude is typically a bit higher than WTI, as the price of extraction is higher for undersea deposits.

I posted before, HERE, about the problems that falling crude oil prices pose for fracking producers, and on the day of the post (October 10th) the WTI price was about $87/barrel.  At today’s $59.95/barrel, the per-gallon price of WTI crude is $1.43, and we’re now seeing $2.53 at the pump.  There are almost no fracking operations in the United States that can produce crude for $60/barrel, not even close.

The ramifications of this price drop will be many, and worldwide.  Some are writing that the implications for revenue to the Russian government may imperil the Putin regime.

Keith Naughton joins the fray with a piece at the Daily Caller about the effects on the already-wobbly Venezuelan government.  Writes Naughton:

For over 15 years Hugo Chavez and his successor Nicolas Maduro have pursued absurd socialist economic policies liberally mixed with heavy-handed repression, and an anti-American foreign policy.  Private property has been expropriated.  Political opponents have been harassed and jailed.  The crime rate is soared.  Essential items have disappeared from store shelves.  Maduro himself flat-out stole the last presidential election (of course the leftist leaders in Latin America just shrugged it off — showing yet again that the left only likes democracy when they win).

Now Venezuela is at the end of its financial rope.  Tens of billions of dollars in oil revenue have been wasted away and now that the price of oil has cratered, the country’s fiscal deficit is unsustainable.  Maduro is cutting spending, unloading debt at cut-rate prices, and arresting his political opponents.  Tension is rising between the armed forces and the Maduro’s Chavista paramilitary thugs.

The article goes on to list five ways in which a collapse of the Venezuelan economy and government would impact the United States and its allies.  Read the full article, HERE, to get the details of the five ways, and what the Obama administration is planning to do about the potential crisis.

Chinese Economy bigger than U.S.? Not so fast.

Earlier in the week a new assessment of international economies was released by the World Bank’s ICP, or International Comparison Program, and China was said to have come out on top.  But the people at MarketWatch are saying, HERE, that the ICP was doin’ it wrong, and that it will be a decade, more or less, for China to surpass the United States economy.  The article is brief, so read the whole thing.

On the Crimean Border, Putin Rattles the Nuclear Sabre

As I have written previously, HERE, Russian President Putin views the incorporation of the western Ukraine as a key part of his long-range plan to gather many of the former Soviet satellite states around the motherland once more.  Like many others, I also think that he recognizes the weakness of President Obama, and will therefore press his territorial ambitions before the end of Obama’s term.

In the current issue of the online Financial Times, Gideon Rachman has up an article about the escalations in recent months of Russian rhetoric as regards their nuclear capabilities.  He also quotes the current commander of European NATO forces, U.S. General Philip Breedlove, as saying that Putin’s military had moved to the Crimea “forces that are capable of being nuclear”.

From his article, this telling excerpt:

Last week, Pravda – the Soviet mouthpiece during the cold war – ran an article headlined, “Russia Prepares Nuclear Surprise for Nato”.  It crowed that Russia has parity with the US in strategic nuclear weapons and boasted: “As for tactical nuclear weapons, the superiority of modern-day Russia over Nato is even stronger.  The Americans are well aware of this.  They were convinced before that Russia would never rise again.  Now it is too late.”

The recent elections in the U.S. have drawn attention away from the situation in the Ukraine, but it is by no means resolved.

For the entire article, click HERE.

Five Key Implications if Baghdad Falls to ISIS

That’s the title of an article from earlier this month by Patrick Poole, PJ-Media’s national security and terrorism correspondent. Since it appears Saigon_Evacuationthat it may be only a matter of time before ISIS takes the city, in spite of the Obama administration’s air campaign, Poole’s points, HERE, are worth considering.

Let’s all hope that our Green Zone troops and other Americans in Baghdad don’t end up being evacuated like the Saigon evacuees, pictured at right.

Clinton’s Folly, Twenty Years On

Tuesday, October 21st, marked the twentieth anniversary of the nuclear reactor agreement that the Clinton administration signed with North Korea, in which the Clinton negotiators, acting on behalf of a new, young, and inexperience President, recklessly and foolhardily agreed to the North Korean demands.

First and foremost, North Korea demanded that, in exchange for stopping work on their domestic development of nuclear power plants (which the west knew could produce weapons-grade fissile material), the United States and the international community would supply them with two light-water reactors (which could not), each of 1-gigawatt capacity.  But also, in addition to the reactors, the Norks demanded that, while the two new reactors were under construction, the US was to supply them with one-half million tons of heavy fuel oil each year until construction was completed.  These shipments, along with the reactor construction efforts, continued until, in 2002, it became manifestly apparent that the North Koreans were cheating in multiple ways, and the deal feel apart.

In an article yesterday from Commentary Magazine, HERE, author Michael Rubin writes in detail about the deal the Clinton minions struck (known as the Agreed Framework, as it was not a formal treaty), and their motives in striking it.  And what did South Korea, our allies, think of the deal?  An excerpt:

On October 7, 1994, President Kim Young Sam of South Korea blasted Clinton’s deal with the North, saying, “If the United States wants to settle with a half-baked compromise and the media wants to describe it as a good agreement, they can.  But I think it would bring more danger and peril.”  There was nothing wrong with trying to resolve the problem through dialogue, he acknowledged, but the South Koreans knew very well how the North operated.  “We have spoken with North Korea more than 400 times.  It didn’t get us anywhere.  They are not sincere,” Kim said, urging the United States not to “be led on by the manipulations of North Korea.”  While Kim Young Sam was right to doubt Pyongyang’s sincerity, his outburst drew Clinton’s ire.  The administration did not want any complications to derail a deal, and Clinton was willing to ignore evidence that might undercut the initiative.  Two weeks later, Gallucci and Kang signed the Agreed Framework.

Does any of this sound familiar?  Can you say “eye-ran”?

For more on the Agreed Framework, THIS link is to the WikiPedia page.

The “China Creep” Continues Apace in the South China Sea

A new report from the defense analysts at Strategy Page details the process by which China continues their encroachment on areas of the South China Sea (SCS).  An excerpt:

For over three decades China has been carrying out a long-term strategy that involves first leaving buoys (for navigation purposes, to assist Chinese fishermen) in the disputed water, followed by temporary shelters (again, for the Chinese fishermen) on islets or reefs that are above water but otherwise uninhabited.  If none of the other claimants to this piece of ocean remove the buoys or shelters, China builds a more permanent structure “to aid passing Chinese fishermen”.  This shelter will be staffed by military personnel who will, of course, have radio, radar, and a few weapons.  If no one attacks this mini-base China will expand it and warn anyone in the area that the base is Chinese territory and any attempts to remove it will be seen as an act of war.  The Vietnamese tried to get physical against these Chinese bases in 1974 and 1988 and were defeated both times in brief but brutal air and sea battles.  The Chinese will fight, especially if they are certain of victory.  All of this could end badly, with a major war no one wants.  That’s how these things develop.

The full article is HERE.

Is North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un out?

The British newspaper Daily Mail is reporting that 31-yo North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has not been seen in public for almost a month, and offers this as well as other reasons to think he may have been ousted as the secretive nation’s head of state.

The speculation seems to be that there is a power struggle between the recent leadership and a dissenting faction that wants to emulate China and move the country toward capitalism.  From the article:

A former North Korean counter-intelligence officer has claimed that Kim Jong-Un is no longer in control of the nation and is now just a ‘puppet leader’.

Jang Jin-sung, who used to be an influential officer in Kim Jong-il’s propaganda division, made the sensational assertion at a September conference in Holland attended by several elite exiles, it’s been reported.

The capital, Pyongyang, meanwhile, has been placed into lockdown with even the elite banned from entering or leaving, according to a respected news site.  This adds weight to Jin-sung’s claim, as a North Korean expert said that this kind of measure is only put in place when a coup has taken place – or is suspected.

The full article is HERE.  Now the question is, will President Obama rush Dennis Rodman over immediately to get the scoop, or will he wait for the New York Times account?

Doctors and Generals agree: Sending US soldiers to Africa to fight Ebola a Bad Idea

As most readers will know, about a week ago President Obama announced his intention to deploy about 3,000 American soldiers to Liberia to help manage that country’s Ebola outbreak.  If that struck you Troops4Ebolaas a mis-use of the U.S. military, you are not alone.  Chelsea Schilling of World News Daily reports these reactions:

Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, has warned that the U.S. must “treat Ebola as a wake-up call.”

“What African troops are doing is shooting people who cross borders or violate quarantine,” Orient told WND, reacting to news of the U.S. troop deployment.  “Is that what we plan to support?”  She added, “Africans are already very suspicious of us.  How will they react to an army setting up hospitals?”

Orient called the planned U.S. deployment a “dubious mission,” warning that the nightmarish scenario could bring Ebola to America.  “There is definitely a risk,” she said.  “It seems irresponsible to send more people there when the ones already there are having trouble leaving.  Probably anyone who has been exposed should be quarantined for 25 days since the last exposure.”

Orient echoed the concerns of Elaine Donelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, who told WND, “I’m just appalled.  Judging from this, the United States seems to have a very confused vision of what ‘national security’ means.”

“But whether 3,000 American troops should be sent into that area of the world to deal with that problem, I do not see the justification,” Donelly said.  “Surely there are alternatives in the international health-care networks.”

WND also reported when retired Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin charged that sending American troops to combat Ebola in Liberia is “an absolute misuse of the U.S. military.”

The complete article is HERE.  And in related news, there is THIS detailed article on the severity of the problem in neighboring Sierra Leone.

Brainstorming Ways To Isolate the Gaza Strip

Back on July 25th, I posted about the efforts of the Israeli Defense Forces (HERE) to find and destroy the numerous cross-border HAMAS tunnel system.  In that post, I advocated for some sort of “no-mans land” perimeter around Gaza on which Israel could install tunneling detection equipment such as vibration detectors, ground imaging radar, or other technologies.

This morning, in THIS interview with the Jerusalem Post, Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni discusses similar options with reporters Gil Hoffman and Julie Steigerwald.  Some excerpts:

Israel is considering physically separating itself from the Gaza Strip, using some sort of underground barrier to ward off remaining threats from Hamas, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said Monday.  Speaking on Army Radio, Livni responded to criticism that Israel was taken by surprise by the vastness of the network of Hamas tunnels from Gaza into Israel.  She revealed that creative ideas were being considered to counteract the threat when Operation Protective Edge concludes.

“There are ways of doing it [separating Gaza from Israel],” she said.  “The [barrier] may not need to be visible from above ground.  There are of course also technological means that are being checked that could be effective.”

and

A source close to Livni said did not know which barrier Livni preferred.  She said she was not aware of whether Livni favored building a moat between Israel and Gaza.

A moat?  Hadn’t really considered that one, but now that I do, the idea sorta grabs me.  A moat.  Yeah, that’s the ticket, a moat, with acid instead of water, and acid-resistant dragons!  And snakes!

The HAMAS Rocketeers: What Is To Be Done?

UPDATE

Earlier this evening on FoxNews’ Hannity show, guest host Eric Bolling interviewed one of the regular FoxNews military advisors on the situation in the Gaza Strip.  During that interview, two things were discussed that bear on this post.  First, the military advisor put the cost of each Tamir missile used with the Iron Dome system at $40K, not the $50K that I got from another source.  Secondly, and more importantly, the advisor pointed out that Israel is, at present, letting 14 out of each 15 rockets fired by HAMAS from Gaza come to earth unimpeded, because the Iron Dome system is so good at projecting the landing spot of a rocket based on radar tracking that the Tamir missiles can be reserved only for the 1 out of 15 that will hit an important target.  Therefore, if the targeting accuracy of HAMAS rocketry does not improve, defending against the portion of the 5,000 rockets that Israel is anticipating over the long term would require only about 333 Tamir missiles, not 5,000.  Both of these factors combined would greatly reduce the aggregate cost of using Iron Dome over the long run.

ORIGINAL POST

In an ongoing effort that began on July 8th, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are busily looking for and destroying tunnels running from the Gaza Strip into Israel, a task that is apparently going to take considerably longer than expected.  Last week it was reported that the IDF had found 13 tunnels.  In an article on FoxNews, Middle East reporter Paul Alster now reports that the current count is 28 tunnels leading to about 60 outlets, and he elaborates in these excerpts:

IDF officials initially expected that most of the tunnels would be destroyed within days, but once on the ground learned there were more than intelligence sources knew.  And on Tuesday, a U.S. intelligence source revealed that American satellite imagery had suggested that as many as 60 tunnels might have been built underneath Gaza.

The maze of tunnels and access shafts appears to weave its way throughout much of the Gaza Strip.  Access points are reportedly found in homes, mosques, public buildings, and more …

and

The tunnels vary in length, height, and width, but some are well-constructed using concrete blocks.  Some have electricity feeds and sewage channels, suggesting they are designed for terrorists to remain inside for long periods, possibly days at a time.  The materials used to construct the tunnels appear most likely to have been diverted by Hamas from the building materials allowed into Gaza by Israel for civilian construction.

Israel simply cannot tolerate these mechanisms that enable HAMAS terrorists to surreptitiously cross the boundary between Israel and the Gaza Strip at will.  I think that, after the current operations are concluded, the Netanyahu government should consider widening the unofficial 300-foot “no-mans” zone into a 1500-foot strip running the entire length of the boundary between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, as well as the entire length of the boundary with Israel, extending for a distance into the Mediterranean.  This narrow land area, which would be roughly 40 miles in length, should have two fences separated by an exclusionary zone that would contain nothing but tunneling detection devices, such as vibration detectors and underground radar imaging.

There would be enormous resistance from the usual human rights groups, of course, as such a zone would encompass about 15% of the agricultural land in the Gaza Strip, which in its entirety, covers about 139 square miles.  In my view, however, even this hardship to the Gaza Palestinians is justified in order to reduce the danger to Israel, as the one-kilometer wide post-Intifada buffer zone created by Israel in 2001 seems to be largely ineffective against tunneling.

This would do nothing to prevent HAMAS from launching rockets across the Gaza border into Israel, I know, but it would prevent the rockets from coming into the Gaza Strip from Egypt in the first place.  As to funding, the Tamir missiles that the Israeli “Iron Dome” system uses cost $50,000 each, and the Iron Dome batteries themselves each cost about $45-million.  Israel now has about 15 batteries, and is contemplating, long term, having to launch as many as 5,000 Tamir missiles.  Five thousand Tamir missiles at $50K each is $250-million bucks, to say nothing of the cost of the Iron Dome batteries.  For that kind of money, I think the Israelis could fund quite a bit of tunnel-detection infrastructure.

For the FoxNews article, click HERE.  For information on underground imaging technology, click HERE, and for a way-cool interactive video that illustrates what the technology can reveal, click HERE.

Behind the success of Iron Dome

We have all seen and read much lately about the great success the Iron Dome system has proved to be in protecting Israel from HAMAS rocketry.  The folks at the military blog Strategy Page put up an article last week that goes into quite a bit of detail about the system, it’s effectiveness, it’s costs, and the frantic efforts of the Israelis to get more batteries up and running when they first learned of the impending attacks.

An excerpt:

The latest war with Hamas began on July 7th as Hamas ceased even pretending to halt the rocket attacks (by non-Hamas Islamic terrorists) on Israel coming out of Gaza.  Hamas began firing a lot more rockets and the seven Iron Dome batteries in service were the primary defense against a rocket hitting an inhabited area.  One additional battery had already been delivered but was not activated yet.  [The] Israelis wanted more Iron Dome batteries, so the air force and the manufacturers went to work.  Inventory was checked and it was found that there was enough equipment in stock (newly manufactured, used for development work or almost completed) to quickly equip two more batteries.  Because there were already seven batteries active and personnel had been selected, trained, and assembled for the new eighth battery, it was calculated that by prying away a few key people from each of the eight existing batteries, activating reservists with Iron Dome experience, using some contractor personnel (civilians who had worked on Iron Dome even if they had not done so while in the military), and calling in some military personnel with similar skills (maintenance, operations) to those used by Iran Dome crews … [more could be put online].  By speeding up the training and certification of the eighth battery as well as the newly formed two batteries, all could be in action soon (as in a week or less).  The eighth and ninth batteries went online by the 11th and the tenth battery was active by the 15th.  Military and contractor personnel, instructors, and the new crews had to work round the clock for over a week to make it happen.

and

So far Iron Dome has shot down 85 percent of the rockets it calculated were headed for a populated area. The Tamir missiles used by Iron Dome weigh 90 kg and have a range of 70 kilometers against rockets, mortar shells, and artillery shells up to 155mm.  Iron Dome can also shoot down aircraft and helicopters (up to 10 kilometers/32,000 feet altitude).  Iron Dome is the principal defense against short range rockets fired from Gaza or Lebanon.  Work is underway to increase Iron Dome range from 70 to over 200 kilometers.

Hamas has already (in 2012 and 2014) tried to defeat Iron Dome by firing a lot of long range missiles simultaneously at a few cities.  In theory this could overwhelm one or two Iron Dome batteries.  But Israel is able to keep 24/7 UAV watch on Gaza and spot attempts at large scale simultaneous launchers.  This enables Israel to bomb or shell many of the launch sites.  This results in many rockets [being] destroyed on the ground or launching erratically, and [then] landing within Gaza or nowhere near where they were aimed.  Because Iron Dome can track hundreds of incoming missiles, quickly plot their trajectory and likely landing spot, and ignore the majority that will not land near people, Hamas needs to put hundreds of larger (long range) missiles into the air at the same time to be sure of causing lots of Israeli casualties.  So far Hamas has … been unable to get enough rockets into the air at the same time to make this work.

Much more to read, HERE.

HAMAS tries to forge it’s version of MSNBC

Headquartered in Washington, DC, the non-profit 501(c)(3) Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an organization founded in the late 1990s with the objective of monitoring and reporting to the Western world, in English, reports from Middle Eastern media outlets that were originally published in the Persian, Turkish, Pashto, Arabic, or Urdu languages.

Late last week, MEMRI reported on some guidelines that HAMAS had issued via their website to activist social media users/reporters operating out of the Gaza Strip, where the Israeli Defense Forces are now working to demolish the HAMAS rocketry and tunnel structures.  According to the MEMRI translations, the website “… has instructed activists on social media websites, particularly Facebook, to correct some of the commonly used terms as they cover the aggression taking place in the Gaza Strip.  The following Information Department video calls on all activists to use the proper terminology, in order to play their part in strengthening the home front and in properly conveying information worldwide.”

And what would constitute the “proper terminology”, you may wonder.  Well:

Anyone killed or martyred is to be called a civilian from Gaza or Palestine, before we talk about his status in jihad or his military rank.  Don’t forget to always add ‘innocent civilian’ or ‘innocent citizen’ in your description of those killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza.

Begin [your reports of] news of resistance actions with the phrase ‘In response to the cruel Israeli attack,’ and conclude with the phrase ‘This many people have been martyred since Israel launched its aggression against Gaza.’  Be sure to always perpetuate the principle of ‘the role of the occupation is attack, and we in Palestine are fulfilling [the role of] the reaction.’

Beware of spreading rumors from Israeli spokesmen, particularly those that harm the home front.  Be wary regarding accepting the occupation’s version [of events].  You must always cast doubts on this [version], disprove it, and treat it as false.

Avoid publishing pictures of rockets fired into Israel from [Gaza] city centers.  This [would] provide a pretext for attacking residential areas in the Gaza Strip.  Do not publish or share photos or video clips showing rocket launching sites or the movement of resistance [forces] in Gaza.

To the administrators of news pages on Facebook: Do not publish close-ups of masked men with heavy weapons, so that your page will not be shut down [by Facebook] on the claim that you are inciting violence.  In your coverage, be sure that you say: ‘The locally manufactured shells fired by the resistance are a natural response to the Israeli occupation that deliberately fires rockets against civilians in the West Bank and Gaza’…

Ed Schultz and Al Sharpton, move over.  When it comes to slanting the news, there’s a new contender in town.

The MEMRI post is HERE, by way of Scott Johnson at PowerLine.

New WikiLeaks documents validate the Bush/Cheney view

The editors of the military blog Strategy Page are reporting, HERE, on some new evidence revealed as a result of WikiLeaks, this time dealing with the extent of the Iraqi chemical weapons program (aka WMD) prior to the US invasion in 2003.

From the article:

… these documents deal with the evidence of chemical weapons U.S. troops found in Iraq after 2003.  This is all part of an ongoing, largely ideological, media battle over exactly what happened to Iraqi chemical weapons after 1991.  Up until early 2003, the conventional wisdom was that Saddam had chemical weapons, and just would not give them up.  Some thought Saddam’s strategy was dumb.  All he had to do was let the UN inspectors do their job and get Iraqi out from under the embargo.  All Saddam had to do was destroy all his chemical weapons …

What no one brought up was what Saddam was actually doing.  He was pretending to have chemical weapons in order to keep the Iranians at bay.  Horrendous casualties from Iraqi chemical weapons had forced the Iranians to end the 1980s war in an ignominious (for the Iranians) draw.  In 2003 the Iranians still wanted Saddam’s head on a pike, and Saddam saw his imaginary chemical weapons as a primary defense against Iranian attack.

This deception was not revealed until after Saddam was out of power and some of his key aides could talk.  Saddam kept the real situation (no real chemical weapons programs) secret even from most of his closest aides and military commanders.  Saddam trusted very few people.

and

Between the time of his capture (December 2003) and execution three years later Saddam was interrogated extensively about the 39 years he ruled Iraq and especially about his WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) programs.  He freely admitted his chemical weapons deception but by then many in the West were obsessed with the idea that the United States had invented the myth of an Iraqi chemical weapons program to justify the invasion of Iraq.  Actually, Saddam invented that myth and most intel analysts, journalists and just about everyone else believed it until 2003.  This is a matter of public record.  When the post 2003 search for the chemical weapons program came up empty many pundits and journalists seized on the idea that there was a secret conspiracy involved and that the CIA and other intelligence agencies must have known about the Saddam scam.  There has never been any proof of this conspiracy, but it has attracted many believers.

So there.  Now, everyone go apologize to Dick Cheney and George W. Bush.

Netanyahu’s Coalition Threatened over Gaza Attacks

UPDATE

The Times of Israel, HERE, and Bloomberg News, HERE, are both reporting that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, ostensibly in a move to placate Avigdor Lieberman and the members of Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party, has ordered the Israeli Defense Forces to ramp up the intensity of their military strikes at targets in the Gaza Strip.  Some sources are also reporting that Netanyahu has hinted at the possibility of boots on the ground.  The graphic below, from the Times Of Israel piece, shows the types of missiles being fired by Hamas and their penetration into Israel.

Hamas_Rocketry

ORIGINAL POST

Reporter Robert Tait has up an article at the online London Telegraph newspaper outlining the current state of the dispute between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli Foreign Minister and the leader of one of Israel’s many political parties, the Yisrael Beiteinu.  Lieberman is an outspoken advocate of more extensive reprisals against the Hamas element in Gaza that is responsible for the recent wave of rocket attacks, a wave that closely paralleled the discovery of the bodies of three murdered Israeli teenagers.

An excerpt from Tait’s article:

Mr. Lieberman – an uneasy ally of Mr Netanyahu who is also believed to covet his job – clashed with the prime minister after publicly reiterating his belief that Israel should stage a military takeover of Gaza in response to a recent hail of missile fire from the territory.  He has been backed by Naftali Bennett, leader of the far-Right Jewish Home party and another rival of the prime minister, who said that Israeli restraint in the face of the rocket fire “was not power”.

While Israel has met the rocket fire with raids against militant targets most nights for the past few weeks, Mr Netanyahu and Moshe Ya’alon, his defence minister, have opposed getting involved in a wider confrontation.

For the full article, click HERE.

Maliki, the Iraqi Albatross

Ali Khedery is a stellar young American, a 2003 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, with a major in Government, History, and Economics and an emphasis on international law and politics.  During his senior year, he was a Fellow in Texas Governor Rick Perry’s Council on Science and Biotechnology Development.  Soon after graduation he went to work for Exxon-Mobile as a negotiator of their contracts with the Iraqi Kurds for oil exploration rights in the region, then later joined Dragoman Partners, a Middle East consulting firm.  Fluent in Arabic, he also has a history that includes quite a bit of government service in Iraq, serving there in various capacities for the bulk of the Bush administration.  From the website of Dragoman Partners:

Khedery also served as special assistant to five American ambassadors in Iraq and as senior adviser to three four-star commanders of U.S. Central Command, the authority which oversees operations in 20 nations from Egypt to Pakistan.  Khedery was the longest continuously-serving American official in Iraq; a member of the U.S. government’s Senior Executive Service; and recipient of the Secretary of Defense’s Medal for Exceptional Public Service, the Secretary of State’s Tribute, and the Joint Civilian Service Achievement Medal for his contributions to American national security.

All of the foregoing is prelude to my recommendation of his current piece in the Washington Post, HERE, in which he explains in detail how the Bush and Obama administration’s persistence in allying themselves with Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki has been a significant factor in how we got into the predicament in which we now find ourselves.

After helping to bring him to power in 2006, I argued in 2010 that Maliki had to go. I felt guilty lobbying against [Maliki], but this was not personal.  Vital U.S. interests were on the line.  Thousands of American and Iraqi lives had been lost and trillions of dollars had been spent to help advance our national security, not the ambitions of one man or one party.  The constitutional process had to be safeguarded, and we needed a sophisticated, unifying, economics-minded leader to rebuild Iraq after the security-focused Maliki crushed the militias and al-Qaeda.

and

Desperate to avert calamity, I used every bit of my political capital to arrange a meeting for Jeffrey and Antony Blinken, [Vice-President Joe] Biden’s national security adviser and senior Iraq aide, with one of Iraq’s top grand ayatollahs.  Using uncharacteristically blunt language, the Shiite cleric said he believed that Ayad Allawi, who had served as an interim prime minister in 2004-05, and Abdul Mahdi were the only Shiite leaders capable of uniting Iraq.  Maliki, he said, was the prime minister of the Dawa party, not of Iraq, and would drive the country to ruin.

I strongly recommend a read of the entire article for a better understanding of how the Iraqi deterioration has progressed.

Islamic Terrorists Search for the Untraceable Bomb

Con Coughlin writes at the online London Telegraph about Ibrahim al-Asiri, a leading light in today’s world of Islamic terrorism, who is considered by many to be their foremost bomb designer.  Al-Asiri seems to lend new emphasis to the word “fanatic”, if this excerpt is any indicator:

Asiri’s fanaticism is such that he even blew up his own brother, Abdullah, in a failed attempt to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s head of security.  Asiri built a device that was concealed in his brother’s rectum and detonated by remote control from a mobile phone.  Abdullah was killed instantly, although the Saudi official suffered only minor injuries.

Intelligence officials believe Asiri is now trying to develop a device that will escape detection by even the most sophisticated scanning equipment.  His latest technique is to use an explosive known as pentaerythritol tetranitrate, or PETN, which has no odour, and therefore foils sniffer dogs and X-ray machines.

Am I the only one who wonders what the odds are of these cellphone detonators being triggered by some guy who dials a wrong number?  (Feel free to make up your own punchline.)  Anyhoo, the full article, fairly short, is HERE.

World War One was Triggered a Century Ago in Bosnia

Tomorrow will mark the 100th anniversary of Archduke Ferdinand’s assassination by a Serbian nationalist, an event which rapidly escalated into the start of the first World War.  Of course, until World War Two actually happened, the first world war was known simply as the Great War, the very bloody Great War.

Earlier this week, author and retired Army Reserve Colonel Austin Bay published an educational account of the conditions that existed at the time of the assassination, and draws some parallels to show how today’s situation in the Middle East could develop along similar lines.  A short excerpt:

In 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has proclaimed jihad in Syria and Iraq.  The ISIL wants to re-combine political and religious rule.  Re-establish a global Sunni Muslim Caliphate.  The ISIL’s pitch is utopian.  The ISIL’s Caliphate will secure God’s favor, and Muslims will rule the world — Muslims led by the ISIL’s political, self-interested commanders.

In summer 1914, political instability, institutional decline, fear and bitter grievance gripped Europe.  In 2014, the same afflictions vex the globe.  Perhaps World War One isn’t over; it is just entering another phase.

The full article, on the military blog Strategy Page, is HERE.

The Benghazi Video: Deceiving the Nation in the service of the Hildebeast’s Presidential Aspirations

I have not read it, but Edward Klein, author and erstwhile editor-in-chief of the New York Times Magazine, has written a new book centered on the uneasy political relationship between the Clintons and the Obamas.  The word I use in the title to this post (Hildebeast) is an alternate spelling to the “Hildebeest” moniker that Klein, in one of the several book Hillary_2_ItWasTheVideoexcerpts he published this week at the New York Post, HERE, says Michelle Obama and Valerie Jarrett came up with to disparage Hillary Clinton in their numerous discussions of Hillary and former President Bill Clinton.

To me, the most disturbing of Klein’s revelations, based on another of his book excerpts, HERE, is that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton decided, after consulting with Slick by telephone in the late hours of September 11, 2011, that she would collude with President Obama in an enormous and prolonged deception of the American public, with the personal goal of furthering her 2016 Presidential aspirations.  Some crucial excerpts that, in my mind, lead inexorably to that conclusion:

She had no doubt that a terrorist attack had been launched against America on the anniversary of 9/11.  However, when Hillary picked up the phone and heard Obama’s voice, she learned the president had other ideas in mind.  With less than two months before Election Day, he was still boasting that he had al Qaeda on the run.  If the truth about Benghazi became known, it would blow that argument out of the water.

“Hillary was stunned when she heard the president talk about the Benghazi attack,” one of her top legal advisers said in an interview.  “Obama wanted her to say that the attack had been a spontaneous demonstration triggered by an obscure video on the Internet that demeaned the Prophet Mohammed.”  This adviser continued: “Hillary told Obama, ‘Mr. President, that story isn’t credible.  Among other things, it ignores the fact that the attack occurred on 9/11.’  But the president was adamant.  He said, ‘Hillary, I need you to put out a State Department release as soon as possible.’”

and, after thoroughly discussing her options with her husband, former President William Jefferson Clinton, they both realized that:

Obama had put Hillary in a corner, and she and Bill didn’t see a way out.  And so, shortly after 10 o’clock on the night of September 11, she released an official statement that blamed the Benghazi attack on an “inflammatory (video) posted on the Internet.”

To both the Clintons and the Obamas, the end justifies the means, and no malfeasance is too great if it serves those ends.

The Ongoing Iraqi Tragedy and the role of Obama

A great deal is being shown and written in recent days about the events in Iraq, with all concerned lamenting the wasted lives of not only the thousands of American soldiers, but also the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, both soldiers and civilians.  Most readers will remember the surge ordered by President George W. Bush, and that fact that the result was the passover to incoming President Obama in January 2009 of a largely pacified Iraq, with the foundations for a stable government.

The country was Obama’s to lose, and lose it he has.  Among the recent consequences of the ISIS surge is the takeover of Mosul, which netted the insurgents over $400 million in gold that was stored in the central bank there.  Many are apprehensive about the potential for ISIS acquisition of other assets of the Maliki government, including the 140 Abrams tanks that were sent to Iraq in late 2011, and the more recent transfer of two dozen Apache attack helicopters.

But the devil, as they say, is in the details, and back in late April, Pulitzer Prize winner Dexter Filkins wrote an expansive article for publication in The New Yorker magazine about the disintegration of Iraq, the origins of the present predicament, and the principle players.  Filkins has the cred to write on the subject, as he was a Middle-East reporter for the New York Times, and he was based in Iraq from 2003 through 2006.

The following is a lengthy excerpt from Filkins’ article, but it is important for the reader to understand that the piece was written in late April, just days before the May 2, 2014 Iraqi elections in which Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki won his third term.  In addition, some named persons should be further identified, as follows:  Sky refers to Emma Sky, a civilian advisor to the American military forces;  Suleimani refers to Qassem Suleimani, the head of the Iranian Quds Force;  and Sadr refers to Moqtada al-Sadr, the Iranian-backed guerrilla who made Basra his stronghold.

In this excerpt, Filkins writes that, in the Iraqi parliamentary elections of March, 2010, over a year after Obama’s inauguration:

Maliki’s Shiite Islamist alliance, the State of Law, had suffered an embarrassing loss.  The greatest share of votes went to a secular, pro-Western coalition called Iraqiya, led by Ayad Allawi, a persistent enemy of the Iranians.  “These were election results we could only have dreamed of,” a former American diplomat told me.  “The surge had worked.  The war was winding down.  And, for the first time in the history of the Arab world, a secular, Western-leaning alliance won a free and fair election.”

But even though Allawi’s group had won the most votes, it had not captured a majority, leaving both him and Maliki scrambling for coalition partners.  And despite the gratifying election results, American officials said, the Obama Administration concluded that backing Allawi would be too difficult if he was opposed by Shiites and by their supporters in Iran.  “There was no way that the Shia were not going to provide the next Prime Minister,” James Jeffrey, the American Ambassador at the time, told me.  “Iraq will not work if they don’t.  Allawi was a goner.”

Shortly after the elections, an Iraqi judge, under pressure from the Prime Minister, awarded Maliki the first chance to form a government.  The ruling directly contradicted the Iraqi constitution, but American officials did not contest it.  “The intent of the constitution was clear, and we had the notes of the people who drafted it,” Sky, the civilian adviser, said.  “The Americans had already weighed in for Maliki.”

But it was the meeting with Suleimani that was ultimately decisive.  According to American officials, he broke the Iraqi deadlock by leaning on Sadr to support Maliki, in exchange for control of several government ministries.  Suleimani’s conditions for the new government were sweeping.  Maliki agreed to make Jalal Talabani, the pro-Iranian Kurdish leader, the new President, and to neutralize the Iraqi National Intelligence Service, which was backed by the C.I.A.  Most dramatic, he agreed to expel all American forces from the country by the end of 2011.

The U.S. obtained a transcript of the meeting, and knew the exact terms of the agreement.  Yet it decided not to contest Iran’s interference.  At a meeting of the National Security Council a month later, the White House signed off on the new regime.  Officials who had spent much of the previous decade trying to secure American interests in the country were outraged.  “We lost four thousand five hundred Americans only to let the Iranians dictate the outcome of the war?  To result in strategic defeat?” the former American diplomat told me.  “Fuck that.”  At least one U.S. diplomat in Baghdad resigned in protest.  And Ayad Allawi, the secular Iraqi leader who captured the most votes, was deeply embittered.  “I needed American support,” he told me last summer.  “But they wanted to leave, and they handed the country to the Iranians.  Iraq is a failed state now, an Iranian colony.”

American diplomats made one last effort to preserve their influence.  In a meeting, Jeffrey asked Maliki to commit to several goals in his second term: granting amnesty to thousands of Sunnis who had been detained without charges; dismantling prisons where American officials believed that Iraqis were being tortured; and signing an agreement that would allow American troops to stay in the country.  Later that year, the U.S. brokered a deal to bring Allawi and other members of his coalition into the government.  In time, Maliki either ignored or jettisoned every promise.  “He looked us straight in the eyes and lied,” the former diplomat told me.

The consequences became clear when negotiations began over the crucial question of withdrawing American troops after 2011.  The leaders of all the major Iraqi parties had privately told American commanders that they wanted several thousand military personnel to remain, to train Iraqi forces and to help track down insurgents.  The commanders told me that Maliki, too, said that he wanted to keep troops in Iraq.  But he argued that the long-standing agreement that gave American soldiers immunity from Iraqi courts was increasingly unpopular; parliament would forbid the troops to stay unless they were subject to local law.

President Obama, too, was ambivalent about retaining even a small force in Iraq.  For several months, American officials told me, they were unable to answer basic questions in meetings with Iraqis — like how many troops they wanted to leave behind — because the Administration had not decided.  “We got no guidance from the White House,” Jeffrey told me.  “We didn’t know where the President was.  Maliki kept saying, ‘I don’t know what I have to sell.’ ”  At one meeting, Maliki said that he was willing to sign an executive agreement granting the soldiers permission to stay, if he didn’t have to persuade the parliament to accept immunity.  The Obama Administration quickly rejected the idea.  “The American attitude was: Let’s get out of here as quickly as possible,” Sami al-Askari, the Iraqi member of parliament, said.

The last American combat troops departed Iraq on December 18, 2011.  Some U.S. officials believe that Maliki never intended to allow soldiers to remain; in a recent e-mail, he denied ever supporting such a plan, saying, “I am the owner of the idea of withdrawing the U.S. troops.”  Many Iraqi and American officials are convinced that even a modest force would have been able to prevent chaos — not by fighting but by providing training, signals intelligence, and a symbolic presence.  “If you had a few hundred here, not even a few thousand, they would be co-operating with you, and they would become your partners,” Askari told me.  “But, when they left, all of them left.  There’s no one to talk to about anything.”

I have always had doubts about the idea of nation-building, particularly if the conditions are not right.  They were right in Japan and Germany in the mid-1940s, because the military forces of both countries were in abject defeat.  In Iraq, the American Army fought their enemy to a standstill, but President Obama’s assurances to the contrary, Al-Qaeda and the other extreme Islamist factions were never soundly defeated and disarmed.  And even more telling, the U.S. government maintained occupational forces in both Japan and Germany for decades after the end of hostilities, a historical precedent that apparently suggested nothing to our Nobel Peace-Prize winning Commander In Chief.

The full article, HERE, is long but very informative.

Iranian Nuke Talks — The Charade Resumes

Top-level staffers in both the Bush-43 and Obama administrations have said that both Presidents are in agreement that Iran cannot be allowed to possess nuclear weapons.  So, as diplomats assemble in Austria this week to continue going through the motions of negotiating an end to the Iranian effort to develop that capability, the underlying question looms larger with the passage of time.  After the negotiations fail, as they most certainly will fail, and there is consensus among the experts that Iranian success is inevitable, as there is already, what will President Obama do to stop them?

Matthew Kroenig is associate professor of government at Georgetown University, and a former advisor on middle eastern policy in the offices of the Secretary of Defense.  He is also the author of the just-released book A Time to Attack, which details the history of the Iranian nuclear program and explains why it’s termination is so vital to the west, and to the middle east as well.

To promote the release of his book, Kroenig has up an article at the online Spectator magazine, HERE, in which he states his belief that Obama will eventually bomb the Iranian nuclear facilities.  The article is well worth reading, but I have my doubts as to Kroenig’s conclusion.  I think that the end result of the negotiations will be, as another writer recently characterized it, that the Iranians will pretend to discontinue their nuclear weapons program, and Secretary of State John Kerry will pretend to believe them.  What seems certain is that President Obama will take no action, nor aid the Israelis in taking action, until after the fall elections.

For a full hour after the start of the Japanese air attack on Pearl Harbor in December, 1941, the Japanese diplomats in Washington continued the pretense to US Secretary of State Cordell Hull that they were still engaged in efforts to forestall an armed conflict between the two nations.  We can only hope that Israel does not experience a repeat of that scenario.

Benghazi: If this gun ain’t smokin’, it’s definitely getting hot.

In response to Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) requests from Judicial Watch, the Obama administration has, after nineteen months of hedging Hillary_2and stone-walling, released some new e-mails that shed light on how the White House went about damage control in the period between the attacks in Libya and the appearance of Susan Rice on the Sunday talk shows.  At the moment, I think the most informative of the several articles written today about the e-mails is one posted yesterday afternoon by John Hindraker on the PowerLine blog, HERE.  The article is informative, even containing screenshots of the incriminating messages.

UPDATE:  Sharyl Attkinson has a post up, HERE, that contains more information, including this bit:

Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) told me today that the government apparently tried to keep the Rhodes email out of Congress and the public’s hands by classifying it after-the-fact.

“They retroactively changed the classification,” Chaffetz says.  “That was an unclassified document and they changed it to classified.” 

Ah, yes, the cover-up.

Sec’y of State Kerry Gets No Love From the Palestinians

It seems that the foolish Obama/Kerry gambit to bring peace to the Middle East has gone down in flames, preventing the further consideration, fortunately, of an even more foolish offer to release Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in an attempt to entice the Netanyahu government into rolling over and exposing their under-belly to the Palestinians.

At the online New York Post, John Podhoretz has up an opinion piece about the debacle.  From the article, this key portion:

On Tuesday, the Palestinians took eight months of relentless work by Kerry and threw it in the garbage.  Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced he will seek membership for “Palestine” in various international forums and treaties as the equivalent of a sovereign nation.

That move violates the central concept of the so-called “two-state solution,” according to which the Israelis and Palestinians need to come to mutual agreement on the borders of a Palestinian state.

In response, Kerry canceled his bazillionth trip to the region.  And yet he couldn’t admit what the cancellation implicitly acknowledged.

“It is completely premature tonight to draw any kind of judgment, certainly any final judgment,” Kerry said.  “The important thing is to keep the process moving and find a way to see whether the parties are prepared to move forward.”

To borrow one of President Obama’s favorite expressions, let’s be clear:  the Palestinians do not really want peace.  The Palestinians do not REALLY WANT peace.  The Palestinians DO NOT REALLY WANT PEACE.  So why don’t we just quit wasting our time with this b/s, already?

It has been said before that by the time Obama leaves office the perception that his presidency was as inept as was Jimmy Carter’s will be seen as a “best case” scenario.  This episode will only fuel that flame.  

For the full article, click HERE.

Why Is Trouble Still Brewing In The South China Sea?

In another example of an American military leader tacitly acknowledging how the perception of American weakness is inviting foreign adventurism, the Chief of Naval Intelligence for the U.S. Pacific Fleet said this in recent weeks:

… the PLA [the Chinese “Peoples Liberation Army] has been given the new task to be able to conduct a short sharp war to destroy Japanese forces in the East China Sea following with what can only be expected [to be] a seizure of the Senkakus or even a southern Ryukyu [islands] …

And earlier this week, Army General Curtis Scaparrotti, the commander of U.N. and U.S. forces in South Korea, also questioned whether U.S. forces would be able to quickly counter a sudden large-scale offensive in the region, saying this before a Congressional hearing:

“I am concerned about the readiness of the follow-on forces in our theater … Given the indications and warnings and the nature of this theater and the threat that we face, I rely on rapid and ready forces to flow into the peninsula in crisis.”

And also from earlier this week, Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Command, weighed in:

… the reality is, is that to get Marines around effectively, they require all types of lift.  They require the big amphibious ships, but they also require connectors (meaning landing craft and other amphibious vehicles).  The lift is the enabler that makes that happen, so we wouldn’t be able to [successfully carry out a contested amphibious assault without additional resources] …”

So, why so much concern over what may be brewing in a region surrounding an oceanic basin half a world away?  The answer can be summarized into three basic points of contention, illustrated by this first map of the area, below.  The three points of contention overlap, but can be thought of as first, the maritime claims, meaning the national claims to fishing rights for a body of water; second, the national claims over resources on or beneath the sea-bed, primarily petroleum and natural gas deposits, and; third, rights of navigation.  In today’s world, the claims to fishing rights and sea-bed rights are most often combined under the term Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which typically extends out to 200 nautical miles (nm) from a national coastline.  In this map, I have used the map scale to superimpose two red arrows that approximate the extent of the 200nm limit, and a red line across the arrow tips to approximate the outer terminus of the zone.

SouthChinaSea_MapAt this point it may be useful to note that the word “boundary” (as in international boundary) refers to a point behind which a nation has complete sovereignty, and such “coastal waters” boundaries extend out to three miles from a shoreline.  Points that go beyond the boundary are referred to as “limits” in order to avoid confusion.  The EEZ terminus is a zonal limit, as is the Territorial Sea (out to 12nm) and the Contiguous Zone (out to 24nm).  A nation may not restrict the international rights of navigation beyond it’s Territorial zone.  Also, a nation generally cannot exceed the other limits noted above except by treaty.

SouthChinaSea_MaritimeClaimsThe most important line on the second map (above) is the red line, as it encompasses the maritime and resource claims of the Peoples Republic of China (China, or PRC), and increasingly, claims to exclusive rights of navigation as well.  Most authorities (and reasonable people) would agree with the posture of the United States on these claims, which is that they are outrageously over-reaching, and a serious threat to peace in the region if and when they are enforced by the Chinese military.

And there have been numerous examples in recent months of such enforcement measures, from Chinese gunboats harassing fishing vessels from Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, and the Philippines, to Chinese announcements that commercial airliner overflights would require advance permission, to intimidating behavior aimed at U.S. Navy vessels transiting the passage, to renewed territorial claims on islands claimed by Japan and other nations.  Considering that the South China Sea is the second most busy sea lane on the planet, China’s attempts at limiting the rights of navigation there are especially troubling.

All of this combined seems to strongly indicate that China is itching for an armed confrontation in the area.  However, their ambitions are not directed at the United States, but primarily toward Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines.  In years past, these ambitions have been held in check by the determination of every American president since World War I to preserve, and enforce if necessary, international rights in this critical region.

So, forgive a little metaphor mixing when I ask, does President Obama “walk softly and carry a big stick”?  Or does he just “talk the talk”?  By now, I think Vladimir Putin has clearly figured out the answer to that question, as have the Iranian mullahs, and maybe the Chinese leadership as well.  And, if the Chinese do seize the Senkakus and/or the Ryukyus, and if they are allowed to get away with it, how long before they decide that the time is ripe for a takeover of Taiwan, and then a move on the Japanese home islands?

I Liked Ike

I liked Ike, but being a pre-teen at the time, I never got to vote for him.  My parents did, however, despite being registered Democrats.  It was hard not to like the man who had commanded all the allied forces in the European theater in World War II, directing the largest assemblage of armed forces that the world had ever seen toward their eventual victory.

Nowadays, the image of Eisenhower is being burnished by, somewhat incongruently, the Democrats and the liberal mainstream media.  Their purpose in doing so is to favorably liken President Obama to President Eisenhower, in that both seemed reluctant to engage in foreign wars, and especially reluctant to expend American blood and treasure in the Middle East.  To a substantial degree, however, these are views seen through rose-colored glasses.  As young as I was, I still remember the many heated discussions between my Dad, his brother, and other family members over Ike’s authorization of the CIA engineered overthrow of Iranian leader Mossadegh in favor of the Shah (1953), his failure to support the British against the Egyptians in the 1956 Suez Canal crisis (which strengthened the hand of Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser, a Soviet acolyte), and his blatant lie to the American people (in a national television address, no less, presaging Bill Clinton by decades) denying the overflights of the Soviet Union by American U2 spy planes after the Russki’s shot down Francis Gary Powers in 1960.

At the online National Review this week, military historian Victor Davis Hanson has up a piece that presents far more detail about the “Eisenhower era” and how it is being reframed.  He writes:

The Eisenhower administration formulated the domino theory, and Ike was quite logically the first U.S. president to insert American advisers into Southeast Asia, a move followed by a formal SEATO defense treaty to protect most of Southeast Asia from Communist aggression — one of the most interventionist commitments of the entire Cold War, which ended with over 58,000 Americans dead in Vietnam and helicopters fleeing from the rooftop of the U.S. embassy in Saigon.

Eisenhower’s “New Look” foreign policy of placing greater reliance on threats to use nuclear weapons, unleashing the CIA, and crafting new entangling alliances may have fulfilled its short-term aims of curbing the politically unpopular and costly use of conventional American troops overseas.  Its long-term ramifications, however, became all too clear in the 1960s and 1970s.  Mostly, Ike turned to reliance on nuke-rattling because of campaign promises to curb spending and balance the budget by cutting conventional defense forces — which earned him the furor of Generals Omar Bradley, Douglas MacArthur, and Matthew Ridgway.

The whole article is instructional and well worth reading, HERE.

If only Obama & Kerry had Sarah Palin’s magic Crystal Ball

President Obama’s disappointing reaction to Russian President Putin’s seizure of the Ukrainian Crimea calls to mind Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s warning, during the 2008 presidential campaign, of Barack Obama’s tendency toward hesitancy and moral equivocating, saying this during a campaign stop in Reno, Nevada:

After the Russian Army invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama’s reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence, the kind of response that would only encourage Russia’s Putin to invade Ukraine next.

Want proof?  Here’s the video:

And by the way, although the Bering Strait is 58 miles wide, the international boundary between the United States and Russia actually runs between two small islands situated more or less in the middle of the Strait.  The islands are named Big Diomede and Little Diomede, and belong to Russia and the US (as a part of Alaska), respectively.  The distance between the two uninhabited islands is about two miles, so on a clear day, each island can be easily seen from the other.  So, suck it, Tina Fey.

North Korea’s Proletariat Paradise — NOT !

On Monday, the United Nations Human Rights Council released a new 400-page report on living conditions in North Korea, and AEI political economist Nicholas Eberstadt has a post up on the Wall Street Journal discussing the findings in the report.  An excerpt:

The report is a careful but shocking document, the result of a year-long investigation, based on public hearings in Seoul, Tokyo, London and Washington, public testimony from more than 80 witnesses and an additional 240 private interviews.  Much of the material is based on firsthand testimony of escapees from this hell on Earth.

“The gravity, scale and nature of these violations . . . does not have any parallel in the contemporary world,” the report says.

The full article is HERE.

A Hard Right: Ukrainian Opposition Leader Vitaly Klitschko

The press is reporting today that fires are burning in the Ukrainian capital city of Kiev in the second night of violent clashes between police and dissident demonstrators.  Among the goals of the dissidents is the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych, who has ties to and is backed by Russian President Putin.  Putin sees the Ukraine, perhaps the richest of the former Soviet satellite nations, as the key to rebuilding what has been called a new mini-Soviet.  Vitaly Klitschko has announced that he will run for President of Ukraine next year against Yanukovych.  As it happens, Klitschko is a very interesting guy.  An excerpt from John Hindraker’s recent article about him on Powerline:

Vitaly Klitschko is one of the more interesting figures in world politics.  He first earned fame as a boxer: Vitaly and his younger brother Wladimir have dominated the heavyweight division for the last 15 years, and have played a major role in Europe’s boxing renaissance.  Vitaly held one or more heavyweight belts on and off between 1999 and 2013, when he retired to focus exclusively on politics.  His record in world title bouts is 15-2.  At 6-feet, 7-inches and 240 pounds, Klitschko is an imposing force.

and

Vitaly Klitschko has the second highest knockout ratio in the history of the heavyweight division — second to Rocky Marciano.  But Klitschko is much more than a Hall of Fame boxer.  The son of a major general in the Soviet Air Force, he is a very smart guy.  He has a PhD and is an excellent chess player.

And on top of that, the guy has an 80-inch reach!  Here is a video with highlights of Klitschko’s matches in the United States before he retired to engage full-time in Ukrainian politics.  He fights in the heavyweight division, of course, and the heavyweights always have the potential for spectacular damage, including knockouts,

For more on the troubles in Ukraine and the underlying causes, check out THIS article from CNN.