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What we can learn from the twentieth century’s greatest diplomatic disaster – the Munich conference

by Speranza ( 152 Comments › )
Filed under Afghanistan, France, Germany, History, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Japan, John Kerry, Nazism, Syria, UK, World War II at January 16th, 2014 - 5:00 pm

As the author states, democracy was introduced into Japan and Germany at the point of a gun after those two nations were utterly devastated and had to submit to foreign occupations. No such thing has ever happened to any Islamic nation.  “Nation building” in Iraq and Afghanistan never had a chance in hell of succeeding. The analogies to Munich 1938 are interesting but often misleading.

by Bruce Thornton

During the recent foreign policy crises over Syria’s use of chemical weapons and the Obama administration’s negotiations with Iran, the Munich analogy was heard from both sides of the political spectrum. Arguing for airstrikes against Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, Secretary of State John Kerry warned that the nation faced a “Munich moment.” A few months later, numerous critics of Barack Obama’s diplomatic discussions with Iran evoked Neville Chamberlain’s naïve negotiations with Adolph Hitler. “This wretched deal,” Middle East historian Daniel Pipes said, “offers one of those rare occasions when comparison with Neville Chamberlain in Munich in 1938 is valid.” The widespread resort to the Munich analogy raises the question: When, if ever, are historical analogies useful for understanding present circumstances?

  what economic recovery
Photo credit: Anna Newman

Since the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans, one important purpose of describing historical events was to provide models for posterity. Around 395 B.C., Thucydides wrote that his history was for “those inquirers who desire an exact knowledge of the past as an aid to the understanding of the future, which in the course of human things must resemble if it does not reflect it.” [........]

Both historians believed the past could inform and instruct the present because they assumed that human nature would remain constant in its passions, weaknesses, and interests despite changes in the political, social, or technological environment. As Thucydides writes of the horrors of revolution and civil war, “The sufferings . . . were many and terrible, such as have occurred and always will occur as long as the nature of mankind remains the same; though in severer or milder form, and varying in their symptoms, according to the variety of the particular cases.”  [.........]

In contrast, the modern idea of progress––the notion that greater knowledge of human motivation and behavior, and more sophisticated technology, are changing and improving human nature––suggests that events of the past have little utility in describing the present, and so every historical analogy is at some level false. The differences between two events separated by time and different levels of intellectual and technological sophistication will necessarily outweigh any usefulness. [......]

An example of a historical analogy that failed because it neglected important differences was one popular among those supporting the Bush Doctrine during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Bush Doctrine was embodied in the president’s 2005 inaugural speech: “The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.” Promoting democracy and political freedom in the Middle East was believed to be the way to eliminate the political, social, and economic dysfunctions that presumably breed Islamic terrorism. Supporters of this view frequently invoked the transformation of Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union from aggressive tyrannies into peaceful democracies to argue for nation building in the Muslim Middle East.

Natan Sharansky, a former Soviet dissident and political prisoner, used this analogy in his 2004 book The Case for Democracy, which was an important influence on President Bush’s thinking. Yet in citing the examples of Russia, Germany, and Japan as proof that democracy could take root in any cultural soil, including in Iraq and Afghanistan, Sharansky overlooked some key differences. Under Soviet communism, a highly religious Russian people were subjected to an atheist regime radically at odds with the beliefs of the masses. Communism could only promise material goods, and when it serially failed to do so, it collapsed. As for Germany and Japan, both countries were devastated by World War II, their cities and industries destroyed, the ruins standing as stark reminders of the folly of the political ideologies that wreaked such havoc. Both countries were occupied for years by the victors, who had the power and scope to build a new political order enforced by the occupying troops. As political philosopher Michael Mandelbaum reminds us, in Germany and Japan, democracy was introduced at gunpoint.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, neither of these important conditions existed when U.S. forces invaded. The leaders of these countries are Muslim, thus establishing an important connection with the mass of their people. Unlike Nazism and communism, which were political fads, Islam is the faith of 1.5 billion people, and boasts a proud, fourteen-centuries-long history of success and conquest. For millions of pious Muslims, the answer to their modern difficulties lies not in embracing a foreign political system like democracy, but in returning to the purity of faith that created one of the world’s greatest empires. Moreover, no Muslim country has suffered the dramatic physical destruction that Germany and Japan did, which would illuminate the costs of Islam’s failure to adapt to the modern world. Finally, such analogies downplay the complex social and economic values, habits, and attitudes––many contrary to traditional Islamic doctrine––that are the preconditions for a truly democratic regime.

More recently, people are invoking the Munich analogy to describe the Syria and Iran crises. But these critics of Obama’s foreign policy misunderstand the Munich negotiations and their context. The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens, arguing that Obama’s agreement with Iran is worse than the English and French betrayal of Czechoslovakia, based his assessment on his belief that “neither Neville Chamberlain nor [French prime minister] Édouard Daladier had the public support or military wherewithal to stand up to Hitler in September 1938. Britain had just 384,000 men in its regular army; the first Spitfire aircraft only entered RAF service that summer. ‘Peace for our time’ it was not, but at least appeasement bought the West a year to rearm.”

Stephens, however, is missing an important historical detail that calls into question this interpretation. France in fact did have the “military wherewithal” to fight the Germans. The Maginot line had 860,000 soldiers manning it––nearly six times the number of Germans on the unfinished “Western Wall” of defensive fortifications facing the French—and another 400,000 troops elsewhere in France. Any move east by the French would have presented Germany with a two-front war it was not prepared to fight. Nor would Czechoslovakia have been an easy foe for Hitler. As Churchill wrote in The Gathering Storm, the Czechs had “a million and a half men armed behind the strongest fortress line in Europe [in the mountainous Sudetenland on Germany’s eastern border] and equipped by a highly organized and powerful industrial machine,” including the Skoda works, “the second most important arsenal in Central Europe.” Finally, the web of military agreements among England, France, Poland, and the Soviet Union was dependent on England backing France, which would not fight otherwise, and without the French, the Poles and the Soviets would not fight either. Had England lived up to its commitment to France, Hitler would have faced a two-front war against the overwhelming combined military superiority of the Allies. And he would have lost.

The lessons of Munich, and its value as a historical analogy, have nothing to do with a material calculation. Rather, the capitulation of the British and the French illustrates the perennial truth that conflict is about morale. On that point Stephens is correct when he writes that Chamberlain and Daladier did not have “public support,” and he emphasizes the role of morale in foreign policy. A people who have lost the confidence in the goodness of their way of life will not be saved by the material superiority of arms or money. And, as Munich also shows, that failure of nerve will not be mitigated by diplomatic negotiations. Talking to an enemy bent on aggression will only buy him time for achieving his aims. Thus Munich exposes the fallacy of diplomatic engagement that periodically has compromised Western foreign policy. Rather than a means of avoiding the unavoidable brutal costs of conflict, diplomatic words often create the illusion of action, while in reality avoiding the necessary military deeds. For diplomacy to work, the enemy must believe that his opponent will use punishing force to back up the agreement.

This truth gives force to the Munich analogy when applied to diplomacy with Iran. Hitler correctly judged that what he called the “little worms” of Munich, France and England, would not use such force, and were only looking for a politically palatable way to avoid a war. Similarly today, the mullahs in Iran are confident that America will not use force to stop the nuclear weapons program. Iran’s leaders are shrewd enough to understand that the Obama administration needs a diplomatic fig leaf to hide its capitulation to their nuclear ambitions, given his doubts about the rightness of America’s global dominance, and the war-weariness evident among the American people.  [........]

The weakening faith in American goodness that afflicts millions of Americans, and the use of diplomacy to camouflage that failure of nerve and provide political cover for the leaders charged with protecting our security and interests, are a reprise of England and France’s sacrifice of Czechoslovakia in 1938. That similarity and the lessons it can teach about the dangers of the collapse of national morale and the risky reliance on words rather than deeds are what continue to make Munich a useful historical analogy.

Read the rest - The lessons of Munich

 

US and Iran both helping the Iraqi Regime

by Rodan ( 2 Comments › )
Filed under Al Qaeda, Headlines, Iran, Iraq at January 6th, 2014 - 11:24 pm

The US and Iran are both helping the Shia Regime of Iraq fight Anbar Tribal Fighters and al-Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.

TEHRAN — Even as the United States and Iran pursue negotiations on Tehran’s nuclear program, they find themselves on the same side of a range of regional issues surrounding an insurgency raging across the Middle East.

While the two governments quietly continue to pursue their often conflicting interests, they are being drawn together by their mutual opposition to an international movement of young Sunni fighters, who with their pickup trucks and Kalashnikovs are raising the black flag of Al Qaeda along sectarian fault lines in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen.

The United States, reluctant to intervene in bloody, inconclusive conflicts, is seeing its regional influence decline, while Iraq, which cost the Americans $1 trillion and more than 4,000 lives, is growing increasingly unstable.

At the same time, Shiite-dominated Iran, the magnetic pole for the Shiite minority in the region, has its own reasons to be nervous, with the ragtag army of Sunni militants threatening Syria and Iraq, both important allies, and the United States drawing down its troops in Afghanistan.

Why are we taking sides in the Iran vs. al-Qaeda fight? This is a fight between 2 evil forces who when allied, have killed thousands through terror. This is just a disgrace that we are getting involved in a terror fight.

The big question is what the US will do next time Israel and Hezbollah fight?

War On Christians – 37 Killed in Iraq on Christmas Day

by 1389AD ( 1 Comment › )
Filed under Christianity, Headlines, Iraq, Islamic Terrorism at January 5th, 2014 - 9:30 pm

On YouTube:

Published on Dec 26, 2013 by RightSightings

Human Rights are under siege again. Middle East expert, Lisa Daftari joins Fox & Friends’ Kelly Wright to discuss the continued violence against Christians throughout the Middle East, this time it’s in Baghdad and it’s 37 that are killed on Christmas Day.

How political correctness brought down three Navy SEALS

by Speranza ( 137 Comments › )
Filed under Iraq, Military, Socialism at January 1st, 2014 - 9:11 am

I cannot imagine anyone wanting to serve in the United States military as long as Obama is the commander-in-chief.

by Kyle Smith

The night of Sept. 1, 2009, Echo Platoon of Navy SEAL Team 10 headed out into the Fallujah night. Their goal: concluding a five-year search for the al Qaeda killer who had been responsible for the shocking 2004 murders of four American military contractors — one of them an ex-SEAL — whose bodies were then burned, dragged through the streets and hanged from a bridge.

Iraqis chant anti-American slogans as a charred boy hangs from a bridge over the Euphrates river in FallujahPhoto: Getty Images

This night the SEALs departed with these words from their commanding officer: “Gents, stay sharp, and expect a firefight.”

In the event, no shots were fired, but the SEALs faced another kind of ambush: a humiliating, baffling, infuriating struggle with the military-justice system that would end with an unsatisfying victory.

Because the man those SEALs captured — Ahmad Hashim Abd Al-Isawi, aka “the Butcher of Fallujah,” a man who lived for mayhem — somehow sustained a bloody lip on the night of his capture.

The contrast between the two instances of violence seems, like many of the details of the case, absurd.

On the one hand, four Blackwater contractors were murdered and beheaded as they pulled security in a convoy that was attempting to deliver food.

On the other hand, Al-Isawi had a small cut on his lip that a doctor would later testify appeared to have been self-inflicted.

Yet for this latter instance of bloodshed three SEALs were charged with serious crimes. All of them — Matthew McCabe, Jonathan Keefe and one known by the pseudonym “Sam Gonzales” — were cleared, but in “Honor and Betrayal: The Untold Story of the Navy SEALs Who Captured the ‘Butcher of Fallujah’ — and the Shameful Ordeal They Later Endured” (Da Capo Press), his follow-up to his previous Navy SEALs bestseller, “Lone Survivor,” author Patrick Robinson asks why they were court-martialed in the first place.

Fair question, as is this one: If McCabe (the man who actually apprehended Al-Isawi) had wanted to abuse the prisoner, why didn’t he do so during the raid?  [......]

After Al-Isawi’s capture, he was taken into detention at the nearby Camp Schwedler, where the military policeman on duty, Master at Arms Brian Westinson, twice left the prisoner alone for a few minutes.

When presented to Iraqi police hours later, Al-Isawi had blood on his dishdasha and lip and told a preposterous tale of having been beaten and stomped by several men in boots. (The off-duty SEALs were wearing flip-flops).

But the lip injury was the only harm found on his body, and as the al Qaeda training guide known as the “Manchester Manual” (after the English city where a copy of it was discovered) advises, detainees should “always complain of mistreatment or torture while in prison.”

Westinson, though, partially supported Al-Isawi’s story: He said he saw McCabe “half-punch” the prisoner, once, though all of the other SEALs present denied this. Gonzales had already berated Westinson for leaving his post, and the SEALs came to suspect that Westinson had fabricated the story to distract from his own behavior on that night.

For weeks, their request for legal counsel was denied and the SEALs were ordered to sign confessions to lesser charges — meaning they’d be busted in pay and rank. [........]

The evidence against the three SEALs was so thin that you have to wonder if there was a hidden motivation. That hidden motivation was, of course, the prison located 18 miles from where the camp where Al-Isawi was detained: Abu Ghraib, and all of the opportunism and hysteria that those words bring to mind.  [.........] All realized that any hint of unpunished abuse anywhere in their chains of command could be lethal to their careers.

In a climactic scene, Robinson recounts how the SEALs’ lawyer shredded the prosecution’s case in court. “MA3 Westinson,” said counselor Lt. Cdr. Drew Carmichael, “has told six different versions of his own story.”

(Version two, told to a superior officer a couple of hours after the bloody lip was discovered: “This is all my fault. I left my post and he got hurt. This is all going to come on me.”)

After their public humiliation, McCabe and Keefe, who are also credited as co-authors of the book, understandably no longer possessed the same fire to serve, and so the Navy and the SEALs lost two fine men who resigned with heavy hearts. (“Gonzales” remained in the Navy, which is why Robinson doesn’t reveal his name).

In an open letter to his admiral, Keefe wrote, “When I think of those complacent prosecutors and investigators, deaf to our protests, I’ll always feel that rising anger I used to reserve for the enemy.”

[.......]

Red the rest -  How political correctness took down two Navy Seals

 

 

 

Nusra video shows intense urban fighting in Deir ez Zor

by Rodan ( 1 Comment › )
Filed under Al Qaeda, Headlines, Hezballah, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Islamists, Lebanon, Syria at November 24th, 2013 - 2:18 pm

I saw this video on Twitter today by al-Nusra Front and was amazed of the intensity of urban combat showed in it. The video which was filmed in Deir ez Zor in Eastern Syria shows Nusra fighters taking on the Syrian Army, Hezbollah and Iraqi Shias in urban combat.

This shows how deadly and difficult an urban combat environment can be.

Turkey betrays Israel; and a miracle and an outrage in D.C.

by Speranza ( 81 Comments › )
Filed under Holocaust, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Turkey, World War II at October 24th, 2013 - 7:00 am

By ratting out Iranians who were working for Mossad, the Turks have shown themselves to be one of more despicable governments  in the world. I wish we had a POTUS who would not be reluctant to call them out for their treachery and who would work to kick them out of NATO.

by Eli Lake

Last week, the Washington Post’s David Ignatius revealed that in early 2012, Turkey gave sensitive information about Israel’s spy operations to Iran—specifically, the names of up to ten Iranians who had been meeting with Israeli intelligence officers in Turkey.

To many people in the intelligence community, the news was seen as a grave betrayal. “The fact those ten spies were burned by the Turks by purposely informing the Iranians is not only a despicable act, it is an act that brings the Turkish intelligence organization to a position where I assume no one will ever trust it again,” said Danny Yatom, a former chief of Israel’s intelligence service, the Mossad, in an interview.

A retired senior CIA officer who spoke to The Daily Beast compared the incident to the betrayal of the Cambridge Five, a network of Soviet moles that provided highly sensitive intelligence to Moscow at the dawn of the Cold War.

All of which makes it especially surprising to some that Israel appeared to move on from the incident so quickly. This is evidenced by the fact that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu authorized a diplomatic outreach to Turkey to restore ties even after he learned about the alleged security breach. (While U.S. officials confirm the details revealed by Ignatius, the Turkish government has denied them.)

Israel believes Iran is determined to build a nuclear weapon, and it has justified its intelligence activities inside the country as crucial to delaying and sabotaging its enemy’s nuclear program. In January 2012, before the Turks informed Iran about the Israeli spy network, a magnetic bomb killed Mostafa Ahmadi Rohsan, an Iranian official in charge of procurement for the Natanz uranium enrichment facility. It was believed to have been carried out by the Mossad. And one U.S. official said Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was furious about the assassination.

Yatom, who did not confirm whether the Mossad had anything to do with Rohsan’s death, said the agency has traditionally informed its Turkish counterparts about meetings with its spies on Turkish soil. He said if Turkey were to give Iran any details about these meetings, it would compromise Israel’s intelligence operations against Iran

[......]

Nonetheless, Netanyahu in 2012 continued to try to mend diplomatic ties between the two countries. For example, Israeli and Turkish envoys continued to participate in a group of Syria’s neighbors to plan how to secure that country’s chemical weapons if the regime collapsed. Beginning in 2012, Israel also made arrangements with Turkey for trade shipments to Jordan and other countries in the Arabian Peninsula to travel through Israel and not Syria, where the civil war had worsened, according to Israeli diplomats familiar with the situation.

Netanyahu also later in 2012 instructed Joseph Ciechanover, an Israeli diplomat, to continue to probe for areas in which Turkey and Israel could cooperate. Ciechanover represented Israel on the U.N. panel known as the Palmer Commission that examined a 2010 incident when Israeli commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara, a flotilla that was attempting to break the embargo of Gaza. Nine activists on the ship were killed. Erdogan expelled Israel’s ambassador from Ankara in September 2011 after the report was released.

But the two countries’ relations weren’t severed altogether. “There were always contacts between the Turkish and Israeli side as part of the Palmer Report process and after this process.  [.......]

One Israeli diplomat familiar with the Israeli and Turkish diplomacy in 2012 said no real high level breakthroughs between the two sides happened until late August of that year.  [......]

The diplomacy in Geneva put in motion Netanyahu’s public apology to Erdogan at the end of President Obama’s visit to Israel in March 2013, according to Israeli diplomats. At the time, Netanyahu said on his Facebook page that he made the gesture in part because of the deteriorating situation in Syria. Turkey has provided support for the rebels in Syria, while the Assad regime is supported by Iran.

Another factor for Netanyahu in his diplomacy with Turkey has been his desire to stay on good terms with Obama, according to some observers. Elliott Abrams, who served under President George W. Bush as a senior director at the National Security Council for the Near East and North Africa, said, “I cannot believe that Netanyahu thought this effort with Turkey would work. I think like the current negotiations with the Palestinians, his main motivation is to remain very close to President Obama and the U.S. government.”

Despite Netanyahu’s apology in March, Turkey has not accepted a new Israeli ambassador in Ankara. The Turks have asked Israel for more compensation for the victims of families killed in the Mavi Marmara incident. Meanwhile, U.S. and Israeli officials say the Mossad will never trust their Turkish counterparts again.

Read the rest – Inside Israel’s Frenemy Diplomacy With Turkey

The U.S. government will always go out of its way to appease the Arabs. Those archives belong to the exiled former Jewish communities of Iraq.

by Caroline Glick

If you happen to be in Washington, DC, between now and January, you can see a piece of Jewish history that was never supposed to see the light of day. The National Archives is now exhibiting restored holy books and communal documents that belonged to the Jewish community of Iraq.

In 1940, the Iraqi Jewish community numbered 137,000 people. Jews made up more than a quarter of the population of Baghdad. A 2,500-year-old community, Iraq had for centuries been a major center of Jewish learning. The Babylonian Talmud was written there.

The yeshivot in Karbala and Baghdad were considered among the greatest in the world.

According to Dhiaa Kasim Kashi, a Shi’ite Muslim interviewed in the 2008 book Iraq’s Last Jews, by the 1930s, the Jews of Iraq had become leaders in every field. “All of Iraq’s famous musicians and composers were Jewish,” he said.

“Jews,” he continued, “were so central to commercial life in Iraq that business across the country used to shut down on Saturdays because it was the Jewish Shabbat. They were the most prominent members of every elite profession – bankers, doctors, lawyers, professors, engineers, etc.”

All of this began to end with the rise of the Nazis in the 1930s. Due to rampant Islamic Jew hatred, Arab leaders were drawn to the Nazis. For their part, the Nazis were quick to capitalize on their popularity. The German ambassador to Iraq, Fritz Grobba, cultivated Nazi sympathizers in the Iraqi military and organized a pro-Nazi military coup in April 1941.

On June 1, 1941, as Jews celebrated the festival of Shavuot, the pro-Nazi government carried out a massive pogrom. Estimates place the number of Jews murdered at anywhere between 180 and 900. Nine hundred Jewish homes were destroyed. Hundreds of Jewish shops and businesses were looted and burned.

The pogrom, which came to be known as the Farhud, or “violent dispossession,” marked the beginning of the end of the Iraqi Jewish community.

Iraq was one of the five Arab states that invaded Israel on May 15, 1948.

The immediate victims of Iraq’s unyielding rejection of Jewish national liberation were the Jews of Iraq. In 1950, the exodus began. By the end of 1952, when the government shut the remaining Jews in, 124,000 Jews had fled Iraq, mainly to Israel. Forced to abandon their private and communal property, their possessions became hostage to the regime.

The few thousand Jews left in Iraq lived in utter terror. But even in their reduced state, they tried to protect the property of their phantom community.

In Baghdad, only one synagogue remained in operation. The Jews brought all the communal documents and holy books there for storage.

But as Harold Rhode, a recently retired US Defense Department cultural expert, reported in August at PJM Media, in 1985 Saddam Hussein sent his henchmen to the synagogue with several trucks. They stole the documentary history of the community in broad daylight.

Rhode explained that Saddam ordered the theft of the Jewish community’s property both to humiliate the Jews and Israel and to impress his fellow Arabs. As he put it, from a local cultural perspective, “Humiliation – i.e., shaming another’s personal reputation – is more important and more powerful than physical cruelty.

“By capturing the Jewish archives, Saddam was humiliating the Jewish people. He was showing how powerless the Jews were to stop him.”

[......]

Rhode was deployed to Iraq shortly after the US-led overthrow of Saddam’s regime. By the time he arrived in May 2003, there were only a dozen Jews still living in Iraq.

Rhode was the first American official informed of the existence of the archive. It was stored in the cellar of the headquarters of Saddam’s mukhabarat, or secret police. When Rhode arrived at the building with a small detail of soldiers and New York Times reporter Judith Miller, the building had just been flooded by an unexploded shell that had punctured the water main.

When he realized the dimensions of the archive, now largely underwater, Rhode moved heaven and earth to save it. Due to Rhode’s action, and the support he received from Iraqi leader Ahmed Chalabi, vice president Dick Cheney and defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the archive – which included everything from school records to 500- year-old copies of the Bible – was saved on Shavuot 2003 and sent to the US.

Once the archive was safely in the US, the State Department spent $3 million restoring the 2,700 books and tens of thousands of documents. In the meantime, back in Iraq, there are still hundreds of Torah scrolls languishing in a government cellar, inaccessible to the public, and in a horrible state of disrepair.

The fact that the archive was rescued from Saddam’s vault and is now being shown to the public is a miracle.

But if nothing changes, on Shavuot 2014, the miracle will come to a tragic and scandalous end. In an act of cultural aggression, the US government has promised to return the Jewish communal archive – stolen from the Iraqi Jewish community by the Iraqi government – to the Iraqi government by June 2014.

The State Department insists that the archive is Iraqi government property, since it was found in an Iraqi government building. But if that is true, then all the Jewish property stored in the Gestapo’s dungeons should have remained German government property after World War II. And even the comparison to the Nazis is too facile.

[......]

The difference between Jewish property stolen by the Nazis and Jewish property stolen by Arab regimes is political. It is politically acceptable to acknowledge that the Nazis were criminals. But the Arabs have never had to pay a price for their persecution and eventual destruction of their Jewish communities. No one wishes to recognize the fact that it is anti-Semitism that drives the Islamic quest to destroy the Jewish state.

The only lawful owners of the Iraqi Jewish archive that is being shown in Washington are the Iraqi Jews and their descendants, who are now overwhelmingly Israelis. The only place the archive should be sent is the Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center in Or Yehuda, the only museum in the world dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage of the 2,500-year-old Jewish community of Iraq.

Yet for the American foreign policy establishment, besotted by a quasi-religious belief that the establishment of a Jew-free Palestinian state on Israeli land will cure everything from Islamic jihad to the common cold, recognizing this simple truth is a bridge too far. Restoring the Iraqi Jewish archive to its Israeli owners would be tantamount to recognizing that the cause of the Arab world’s conflict with Israel is Arab anti-Semitism.

A petition is now circulating demanding that the US government return the archive to its rightful owners in Israel.

At this point, it would be a great miracle if they would just agree to keep it safe in Washington until an American government comes along that decides to base its Middle East policies on the truth.

Read the rest – A miracle and an outrage in Washington

 

 

The Ike-Obama analogy is based on false premises

by Speranza ( 127 Comments › )
Filed under Barack Obama, Cold War, Egypt, History, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Libya, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Syria at September 25th, 2013 - 12:00 pm

Far from being the”amiable dolt” (the same term used on Ronald Reagan) that the Democrats liked to refer to him as, Dwight D. Eisenhower was a shrewd president with a  great grasp of foreign situations (although I felt that he handled Suez and the Hungarian Uprising – both in October 1956 badly). There is absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to Barack Obama’s  feckless and clueless foreign policy. Eisenhower did not have the overweening ego and self regard that Obama clearly possesses, and Eisenhower had developed great administrative and diplomatic skills through his military career as Allied commander-in-chief, commander of NATO and Columbia University President. In fact, I think that Eisenhower was a far better president than he was a battlefield manager, most military men make poor presidents but not Eisenhower.

by Michael Doran

“I remember some of the speeches of Eisenhower,” Hillary Clinton said during a joint interview with President Obama in January. “You know, you’ve got to be careful, you have to be thoughtful, you can’t rush in.” It seems likely her memories were jogged by the reviews of Evan Thomas’s recent book, Ike’s Bluff, which argued that Eisenhower’s experience as a soldier and general taught him the limitations of exercising power. That book and a spate of other recent studies have established Ike firmly in the public mind as the very embodiment of presidential prudence.

They have also turned him into a posthumous adviser to the Obama administration. Before becoming secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel bought three dozen copies of David A. Nichols’s study of the Suez Crisis and distributed them to (among others) the president, Hillary Clinton, and Leon Panetta, his predecessor as secretary of defense. At Suez, Ike refused to support Britain and France when they (in collusion with Israel) invaded Egypt, and he effectively killed the intervention. Hagel’s lesson was clear: Don’t let allies drag you into ill-advised military adventures.

In an influential essay published last year in Time entitled “On Foreign Policy, Why Barack Is Like Ike,” Fareed Zakaria argued that when the president showed a wariness to intervene in places like Syria, he was displaying an uncanny resemblance to Eisenhower. The key quality that the two share, Zakaria argued, is “strategic restraint.” In his recent book, Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era (Princeton University Press, 200 pages), Joseph S. Nye of Harvard takes the argument even one step further. Nye claims Eisenhower was actually an early practitioner of what an Obama aide, speaking of the administration’s role in the ouster of the Muammar Gaddafi regime in Libya, notoriously called “leading from behind.”

A cursory examination of Eisenhower’s actual Middle East policies reveals the hollowness of both this thesis and the notion that Eisenhower, as president, followed a strategy of restraint—especially as regards the Middle East. To be sure, he frequently exercised prudence in military affairs. He ended the war in Korea and did not intervene in 1956 when the Hungarians rose in revolt against their Soviet masters. Most notable of all, he refrained from intervention in Vietnam. But military prudence should not be confused with global strategy. Modern-day “restraintists” are quick to cite Eisenhower’s warning, in his farewell address, regarding the dangers of “the military industrial complex.” They typically forget, however, to quote his justification for it: “We face a hostile ideology—global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily the danger it poses promises to be of indefinite duration.” Eisenhower, in other words, zealously prosecuted the Cold War. Indeed, contemporary critics diagnosed his administration as suffering from “pactomania,” an irresistible urge to organize alliances against Communism. Many historians now regard his reliance on the CIA, which toppled regimes in Iran and Guatemala, as anything but restrained. And there are also more public examples of Eisenhower flexing his presidential muscles.

There was Syria, for one. Then, as now, the country was at the center of a regional power struggle. In the summer of 1956, when the Syrian government began to drift toward the Soviet Union, Eisenhower instructed the CIA to topple it. By summer 1957, the spy agency had attempted to stage two coups, both of which failed. No sooner had Syrian counterintelligence rolled up the second plot than Eisenhower formulated another plan: fomenting jihad. He instructed the CIA to position itself in order to stir up violent disturbances along Syria’s borders.  [........]

The trickiest part of the plan was convincing the Arab states to invade. In the hope that Saudi Arabia would help, Eisenhower wrote to King Saud. The letter expressed alarm over the “serious danger that Syria will become a Soviet Communist satellite.” It affirmed that “any country that was attacked by a Syria which was itself dominated by International Communism” could count on the United States for support. And then it closed with an appeal to Islam: “In view of the special position of Your Majesty as Keeper of the Holy Places of Islam, I trust that you will exert your great influence to the end that the atheistic creed of Communism will not become entrenched at a key position in the Moslem world.” The letter missed its mark. “Saud,” as the historian Salim Yaqub wrote, “had little interest in Eisenhower’s jihad.”

In praise of Ike’s pacific record, Zakaria notes that “from the end of the Korean War to the end of his presidency, not one American soldier died in combat.” The statistic is striking, but it creates a misleading impression. In truth, Eisenhower had the one quality all successful leaders have: He was lucky. Any number of his policies could easily have backfired, producing a much less impressive statistic. The Syrian crisis of 1957 is a case in point. While Eisenhower was attempting to generate a jihad, the Turkish government amassed 50,000 troops on the Syrian border. The move provoked the Soviets. In an interview with the New York Times, Nikita Khrushchev, then the Soviet premier, publicly accused the United States of fomenting the crisis and issued a warning to the Turks: “If the rifles fire,” he said bluntly, “the rockets will start flying.” Secretary of State John Foster Dulles immediately came to the aid of the Turks: “If there is an attack on Turkey by the Soviet Union,” he said, “it would not mean a purely defensive operation by the United States, with the Soviet Union a privileged sanctuary from which to attack Turkey.” [........]

Zakaria also happens to be factually wrong. A number of soldiers did die on Eisenhower’s watch—three, to be exact. One fell to an enemy sniper; the other two to friendly fire. All of them died in Lebanon during the 1958 intervention. Zero or three—either way the record is remarkable, but the fallen Marines should remind us of an important fact: Eisenhower, when the situation required, did not shrink from entering a messy conflict.

In the first half of 1958, Camille Chamoun, the Lebanese president, was battling an insurgency and strongly urged Eisenhower to come to his assistance. The insurgents were receiving support from Syria, which by this time had merged with Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Egypt to form the United Arab Republic. Eisenhower feared a quagmire and resisted calls to intervene. But overnight, his calculus changed.

When Eisenhower went to bed on Sunday, July 13, Iraq was an ally—“the country,” he wrote in his memoirs, “that we were counting on heavily as a bulwark of stability and progress in the region.” By the time he woke on Monday, the bulwark had collapsed. In the early morning hours, renegade army officers staged a successful coup, destroying Iraq’s Hashemite monarchy and replacing it with an Arab nationalist republic that Eisenhower feared might align with the United Arab Republic and its Soviet patron. In a mere instant, a Cold War ally had disappeared.

Fearing a push by Nasser and the Soviet Union against all Western-leaning states of the region, a number of American allies—including the Lebanese, Saudis, and Jordanians—called for immediate intervention by the United States. Cairo and Moscow, they argued, must be put on notice that the Americans would not let their remaining friends go the way of the Iraqi monarchy. If the United States failed to intervene, the Saudi king informed Eisenhower, it would be “finished” as a power in the region. [.......]

Almost immediately, Eisenhower invited a bipartisan group of congressional leaders to the White House for a briefing. Sam Rayburn, the speaker of the House, expressed concerns: “If we go in and intervene and our operation does not succeed, what do we do then?” He also worried that “the Russians would threaten general war.” Eisenhower replied that it was impossible “to prophesy the exact course of events. If we do or if we don’t go in, the consequences will be bad.” He calculated, however, that it was crucial to take “a strong position rather than a Munich-type position, if we are to avoid the crumbling of our whole security structure.” [........]

The Lebanon intervention, we now know, went as cleanly as any such operation in history. At the moment of decision, however, Eisenhower regarded the venture as highly risky—so dangerous, in fact, that it reminded him of giving the go order on D-Day, the most momentous event of his life. “Despite the disparity in the size of the two operations,” he wrote in his memoirs, “the possible consequences in each case, if things went wrong, were chilling.”  [.........]

Over the last year, a parade of America’s Middle Eastern allies have made their way through the White House, raising the alarm of Syria, and urging Obama to organize a more robust international response. Unlike Ike, Obama calculated that doing nothing was preferable to taking actions that have uncertain outcomes. As a result, when Obama finally decided that some response to Assad’s use of chemical weapons was necessary, he found himself almost bereft of allies.

And what about Nye’s favorable comparison of Obama’s foreign policy with Eisenhower’s? “An incautious comment by a midlevel White House official characterized the Libya policy as ‘leading from behind,’ and this became a target for political criticism,” Nye writes, but adds that “Eisenhower was a great exemplar of knowing that sometimes it is most effective to keep a low profile and to lead from behind.”

This is an act of rhetorical legerdemain. Nye’s use of the term gives the impression that two very different things are actually one and the same. With respect to Obama, “leading from behind” describes his administration’s policytoward Libyan intervention. With respect to Ike, it describes his management style, which Fred Greenstein famously called “the hidden-hand presidency.”

In Eisenhower’s day, intellectuals almost universally regarded him as an amiable dolt, more golfer than strategist. Before Greenstein (together with Stephen Ambrose and others) set the record straight in the 1980s, it was widely assumed that John Foster Dulles was the man who actually ran American foreign policy. Using declassified documents, Greenstein and his cohort showed that Eisenhower was resolutely in charge, a master of detail, fully in command of strategy and tactics. Eisenhower might have put Dulles out front and center stage, but he was always guiding him with a “hidden hand.”

The diary of Jock Colville, Winston Churchill’s right-hand man, provides a vivid example of Eisenhower’s skills at “gentle persuasion,” to use Nye’s phrase. After Stalin died in March 1953, Churchill, then in his final term as prime minister, perceived signs of moderation in Moscow. He began a campaign to convince Eisenhower to convene a summit with the USSR on the model of the great wartime conferences. Ike repeatedly rebuffed Churchill, who eventually made his differences with Eisenhower publicly known. Tensions came to a head in Bermuda in December 1953 at a conference attended by the leaders of the United States, Britain, and France.  [.........]

Now consider: The Islamic Republic of Iran recently elected a new president, Hassan Rouhani, whom many observers regard as a moderate. Those observers have been urging Obama to engage with him directly, just as Churchill urged Ike. Imagine a conference between Obama and a delegation of European leaders who argue eloquently for reaching out to Rouhani. Obama springs up, enraged. The veins in his forehead pop out, throbbing. He launches into a profanity-laced tirade. “Iran,” he thunders, “is a whore and we are going to drive her off the streets of the Middle East.”

[.......]

The popular association of the Eisenhower administration with “strategic restraint” is itself he product of historical revisionism. It was not the contemporary view. Until the 1980s, most pundits believed the opposite. Their view was perfectly distilled in Townsend Hoopes’s The Devil and John Foster Dulles (1973). The unstated goal of the book was to saddle the Republicans with responsibility for the Vietnam War—no mean feat, given that Democrats Kennedy and Johnson had made the key decisions to intervene. Nevertheless, Hoopes found an ingenious method to lay the responsibility squarely on Eisenhower’s shoulders—or, more precisely, on the shoulders of his secretary of state.

John Foster Dulles’s influence, Hoopes explains, was so immense that it extended beyond the Republican Party. Dulles managed to shape the zeitgeist by establishing in the broad culture the unassailable sanctity of “America’s posture of categorical anti-Communism and limitless strategic concern.” Once he successfully stamped the culture with anti-Communist zealotry, the Democrats had no choice but to follow its inexorable logic, which led to imperial overreach in Vietnam. “In early 1968,” Hoopes writes, “when the Tet offensive and Lyndon Johnson’s withdrawal from further political combat tore away the final veil hiding the misperception and failure of America’s freedom-defending and nation-building in South Vietnam, I faced, along with many others, the dawning of the realization that an era in American foreign policy had ended.”

This was hysterically overwrought, obviously, but in its day, intellectuals took the argument seriously. It’s worth considering why. Caricature, of course, exaggerates recognizable aspects of reality. In the 1970s, the very real anti-Communism of the Eisenhower era was still a part of living memory. “Mutual Assured Destruction,” “the domino theory,” “brinkmanship”—these 1950s catchphrases reverberated, testifying to the fact that Ike, even while steering clear of military adventures, took the fight to the enemy. By contrast, contemporary audiences know Ike only from history books such as Greenstein’s, which emphasizes Eisenhower’s pragmatism precisely in order to supplant the prevailing caricature of his stupidity.

[........]

Zakaria sees Ike and Obama as uncannily similar for exhibiting “strategic restraint” in their Middle East policies. That Obama has been restrained is undeniable. In what way, however, is his reluctance to use military force “strategic”? What larger plan does the policy serve? The best answer came last March from Tom Donilon, his former national-security adviser. The Obama administration, he explained in an interview, had determined that the United States was “over-invested in our military efforts in South Asia and in the Middle East.” At the same time, it was “dramatically under-invested” in Asia, which was “the most economically dynamic region in the world.” Therefore, it was “rebalancing” to Asia.

[........]

In May 2011, a few months after the Arab Spring first broke out, Obama identified a powerful movement toward freedom and democracy and reached out his hand in partnership. “The question before us,” Obama said at the time “is what role America will play as this story unfolds.” He answered with clarity: “There must be no doubt that the United States of America welcomes change that advances self-determination and opportunity.” Only two years later, he struck a less hopeful note. In the Middle East, he said, “there are ancient sectarian differences, and the hopes of the Arab Spring have unleashed forces of change that are going to take many years to resolve. And that’s why we’re not contemplating putting our troops in the middle of someone else’s war.”

[.........]

That was not true of Eisenhower’s policies. His eight years in office also coincided with a revolutionary wave. The old imperial and colonial order was crumbling. A new one, dominated by secular pan-Arab nationalism, was taking its place. Eisenhower saw it plainly and formulated a strategy to deal with it. His goal was to channel the nationalism of the region away from the Soviet bloc and toward the West by offering security and economic assistance. The United States was engaged in a delicate balancing act, supporting its European allies against the Soviet Union while simultaneously facilitating the rise of the independent nations of the Middle East, which were hostile to the Europeans.

It is impossible to understand any of Ike’s major moves without reference to this vision. Take, for instance, the Suez Crisis, which Zakaria cites as a prime example of “strategic restraint” and which Hagel holds up as a model for Obama. When Eisenhower turned against his allies, he did not do so out of any overarching commitment to “restraint.” He simply believed Britain and France were alienating Arab nationalists and destroying the prospect for a strategic accommodation between the Arab states and the West. He therefore shunted the Europeans aside—in what was actually the most dramatic assertion of American primacy of the Cold War.

In the midst of the crisis, he announced the Eisenhower Doctrine, a unilateral American commitment to defend the entire Middle East. His doctrine put the world on formal notice that the United States was replacing Britain as the dominant power in the region. The result of Ike’s “strategic restraint” was a massive increase in the global responsibilities of the United States. Obama’s restraint represents an attempt to shed those responsibilities.

The Ike–Obama analogy creates an illusion of commonality and historic continuity where none exists. It is bad history, because it depicts Eisenhower as a two-dimensional figure, entirely detached from his key associates and their core beliefs. At the same time, the analogy presents us with a distorted view of Obama. The Eisenhower Doctrine asserted American primacy in the Middle East, and every president since has regarded it a vital American interest to shape the international order of the region. Every president, that is, except the present one.

The old order in the Middle East is crumbling. The enemies and rivals of the United States—Russia, Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda—are working assiduously to mold the new order that benefits them. Their efforts, which are often in conflict, have ignited a great fire. Unlike his predecessors, Barack Obama has determined that the United States is best served by hanging back. This is a sharp break with the past—especially with Eisenhower. Those desperately looking to burnish Obama’s reputation when it comes to foreign policy by associating it with that of a successful presidency will have to look elsewhere.

Read the rest - Is Obama like Ike?

 

The inside story of Israel’s chemical and biological arsenal

by Speranza ( 71 Comments › )
Filed under Assassinations, Egypt, Hamas, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Middle East, Nuclear Weapons, Palestinians, Syria at September 19th, 2013 - 2:00 pm

Not only am I glad that Israel has chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, but I want to  know that Israel is prepared to use them in an emergency situation. It is nice to know about anti-missile systems such as Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow III yet they are purely defensive weapons but putting the fear of God (or Allah) into your enemies is even more important.

by Mitch Ginsburg

Syria’s consent to a deal that would catalogue, locate and eventually see the destruction of its vast chemical weapons arsenal has brought Israel and its various arms programs closer to the international spotlight, raising questions about what it does and does not possess and what strategic purposes its weapons serve.

Speaking to Russia’s state-run Rossiya-24 TV last week, Bashar Assad called on Israel to sign all relevant international treaties. “If we want stability in the Middle East, all the countries in the region should stick to [international] agreements,” said the Syrian president, who is believed to have gassed his own people on seven different occasions, according to a new report from the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism. “And Israel is the first state that should do so, since Israel possessed nuclear, chemical, biological and all other kinds of weapons of mass destruction.”

 Israel, built on the ashes of the Holocaust and with a sense of persistent persecution etched into its consciousness, has in fact been drawn, since the earliest days of its existence, to those sorts of weapons. In April 1948, before the state declared its independence, future prime minister David Ben-Gurion, according to Michael Keren’s “Ben-Gurion and the Intellectuals,” instructed a Jewish Agency official in Europe to seek out Jewish scientists who could “either increase the capacity to kill masses or to cure masses; both are important.”

The search began with biological weapons. Avner Cohen, a professor of Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and an outspoken critic of Israel’s policy of ambiguity as regards WMDs, put the date at February 18, 1948, when the Haganah’s chief operations officer, Yigal Yadin, sent a microbiology student named Alexander Keynan down to Jaffa to establish a unit called HEMED BEIT.

[..........]

This potential, at least in part, apparently existed even before the founding of the state. Abba Kovner, the famous poet and partisan fighter, is depicted in Dina Porat’s “The Fall of a Sparrow: The Life and Times of Abba Kovner” as having traveled to pre-state Palestine after the war and receiving poison from Katzir in order to kill incarcerated SS officers in Europe.

He was apprehended on board a British ship and threw the poison overboard before his arrest.

Several years later, in May 1948, forces from the Carmel Brigade of the Haganah allegedly used a biological weapon in the battle for Acre.

“I spoke to the company commander from Battalion 21 of the Carmel Brigade, who poured the stuff into the water supply,” said military historian Uri Milstein in a phone interview. Milstein, a controversial figure in Israel, said that the man had since died, that the material had been delivered to the battalion by Moshe Dayan, and that the container had been filled with the typhus bacterium.

[.......]

After the war, HEMED BEIT relocated to a building in an orange grove just outside Ness Tziona, where it has remained. Today it is called the Israel Institute for Biological Research, “a governmental, applied research institute specializing in the fields of biology, medicinal chemistry and environmental sciences.”

The institute publishes a great deal of defense-related research and is widely cited academically and is highly regarded.

In terms of possible offensive capacities, very little is known.

What is clear is that Israel has not signed the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention; that the deputy director of the biological institute, Professor Marcus Klingberg, was covertly arrested by the Shin Bet on January 19, 1983, and subsequently charged with spying for the KGB for more than three decades (Klingberg, perhaps the most damaging spy in Israel’s history, spent the first 10 years of his 20-year sentence in solitary confinement, under a pseudonym); and that on two occasions the Mossad attempted to assassinate people using biological weapons.

The first known Israeli assassination with biological weapons was Dr. Wadi Haddad, a Palestinian terrorist, who was the first to hijack an El Al plane, in July 1968, and one of the commanders of the Entebbe hijacking in 1976. One year later, he was given Belgian chocolate “coated by Mossad specialists with a lethal biological poison,” according to Aaron J. Klein’s “Striking Back.” [Full disclosure: this reporter translated the book.] He lost his appetite, he lost weight, and his immune system collapsed. On March 30, 1978, in an East German hospital, he died.

On September 25, 1997, shortly after 10 a.m., two Mossad combatants approached Hamas official Khaled Mashal and released into his ear a potentially fatal dose of a synthetic opiate called Fetanyl, according to foreign sources. ”I felt a loud noise in my ear. It was like a boom, like an electric shock. Then I had shivering sensation in my body like an electric shock,” Mashal told Alan Cowell of The New York Times.

Hamas leader Khaled Mashal, left, congratulates Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood party's leader for winning the biggest number of seats in parliamentary elections in Cairo, January 21, 2012 (photo credit: AP)

Within two hours he was close to respiratory collapse and would have died had Mishka Ben David, a senior Mossad officer, not provided the Jordanian authorities with the antidote.

Chemical weapons

In 1955, sure that war with Egypt loomed on the horizon, Ben-Gurion pushed the defense establishment to produce a nonconventional capacity to respond to any such assault from Egypt. “He ordered that this nonconventional capability be operationalized – i.e., weaponized and stockpiled – as soon as possible and before a war with Egypt broke out,” Cohen wrote in an article published in The Nonproliferation Review in the 2001 Fall-Winter edition. [........]

In June 1963 Egypt used chemical weapons in the Yemen civil war. The first usage was considered primitive. But in subsequent years and, most alarmingly from an Israeli perspective, in the months and days leading up to the Six Day War in 1967, Egypt fired chemical bombs on villages, killing hundreds; the last attack occurred on May 10, 1967, three weeks before the start of the war and four days before Egypt began amassing troops in the Sinai desert.

In July 1990, in perhaps the most straightforward indication of Israeli capacities, then-science minister Yuval Ne’eman was quoted in The New York Times as having told Israel Radio that if Saddam Hussein attacked Israel, ”In my opinion, we have an excellent response, and that is to threaten Hussein with the same merchandise.”

[...........]

Finally, last week Foreign Policy magazine discovered an old CIA document, which revealed that US spy satellites in 1982 located “a probable CW [chemcial weapon] nerve agent production facility and a storage facility… at the Dimona Sensitive Storage Area in the Negev Desert. Other CW production is believed to exist within a well-developed Israeli chemical industry.”

Syria and Israel

Presuming the CIA is correct and Israel has those weapons, or at least had them at one point and maintains the capacity to create them on demand, in what way does Syria’s recent agreement to destroy its chemical weapons change the picture?

The first element is time. Syria has agreed to list and locate its enormous chemical arsenal and for it to be destroyed by mid-2014. This is a highly optimistic timetable. “I’d say it’s somewhere between unreal and surreal,” said Ely Karmon, a senior research fellow at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism and the teacher of a masters course on WMDs.

[..........]

In Libya, another Middle East state that is a signatory to both the chemical and biological weapons conventions, a mustard gas facility was found in the Jufra district in late 2011, Karmon noted. Aside from the fact that the discovery points, yet again, to the limits of any inspection regime, even a highly regarded one such as the Chemical Weapons Convention, it also speaks to the timetable. “More than two years later,” he said, “and the Libyan experts are now in Germany studying. They haven’t even begun the work [of destroying the weapons].”

[.........]

That is the cautious method. In Syria, it remains to be seen whether the deal includes the conveyance of the weapons to a destruction facility in Russia or the US or whether the intent is to destroy the weapons in Syria. Both options have drawbacks.

In Syria, Karmon said, there would be no way to build a destruction facility so long as the war raged on. This would mean either crudely disposing of the weapons, as was occasionally done in Iraq, or transporting them out of the country, either by truck or ship, which Karmon said is “very complicated and very dangerous.”

[..........]

While the two experts basically agreed that implementation within Syria was highly unlikely during the war, they largely disagreed about Israel’s reaction to Syria’s moves. Shoham said that while Iran had signed and ratified the CWC in March 1997 and the Biologocal Weapons Convention in 1973, the Islamic republic has amassed significant covert stores of chemical weapons. “So long as Iran and Egypt maintain their arsenals, Israel should not change its position,” he said.

Israel has clung to a policy of ambiguity. But while it has not so much as spoken a single official word about the BWC — Syria and Egypt signed the treaty but didn’t ratify it, and the latter is suspected of possessing some such weapons — it did sign the CWC on January 13, 1993. When the treaty was put into force in 1997, though, Israel remained on the sidelines and refrained from ratifying it.

[..........]

This position was wholeheartedly endorsed by Cohen, the author of “Israel and the Bomb” and “The Worst-Kept Secret: Israel’s Bargain with the Bomb.”

He said he “strongly doubts” Israel has deployable chemical or biological weapons in its arsenal at this time. If Syria stays on the path of disarmament, he added, Israel would do well to itself, to the region and to the world to follow suit, and of its own volition. “Already now Israel should tell the world we will contribute our own share at the right time to the international effort,” he said.

Ambiguity about those weapons makes no sense, he contended, “especially because Israel probably doesn’t have any. It’s just posturing.”

Regarding Israel’s alleged nuclear capacity and the possibility that ratifying the CWC and the BWC might, as he wrote in his article in The Nonproliferation Review, “be abused to infringe on the sanctity of Dimona,” Cohen said that “there are various safeguards in place” and that the likelihood of such an eventuality was low.

Moreover, from a military perspective and from a deterrence standpoint, Israel, which today is said to possess 80 nuclear warheads, according to a recent report in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, “has all the reasons in the world,” he said, “to join the global consensus in abolishing both chemical and biological weapons from the face of the earth.”

Read the rest - ‘Should there be a need’: The inside story of Israel’s chemical and biological arsenal

 

America’s way of war: from shock-and-awe to forewarn-and-irritate

by Speranza ( 151 Comments › )
Filed under Iraq, Russia, Syria, Weapons at September 11th, 2013 - 12:00 pm

A more incompetent and clownish administration has not been seen by the world since the bad old days of Jimmy Carter. We knew we were in trouble in 2009 when we realized that the best case scenario was going to be a replay of the Carter administration.

by Bret Stephens

So much for John Kerry‘s “global test,” circa 2004. So much for Barack Obama slamming the Bush administration for dismissing “European reservations about the wisdom and necessity of the Iraq war,” circa 2007. So much for belittling foreign leaders who side with the administration as “poodles.” So much for the U.N. stamp of legitimacy. So much for the “lie/die” rhyme popular with Democrats when they were accusing George W. Bush of fiddling with the WMD intelligence.

Say what you will about the prospect of a U.S. strike on Syria, it has already performed one useful service: exposing the low dishonesty, the partisan opportunism, the intellectual flabbiness, the two-bit histrionics and the dumb hysteria that was the standard Democratic attack on the Bush administration’s diplomatic handling of the war in Iraq.

In politics as in life, you lie in the bed you make. The president and his secretary of state are now lying in theirs. So are we.

image

Charles Dharapak/Associated PressThe State of the Union address, Feb. 12, 2013.

And then some. All Americans are reduced when Mr. Kerry, attempting to distinguish an attack on Syria with the war in Iraq, described the former as “unbelievably small.” Does the secretary propose to stigmatize the use of chemical weapons by bombarding Bashar Assad, evil tyrant, with popcorn? When did the American way of war go from shock-and-awe to forewarn-and-irritate?

Americans are reduced, also, when an off-the-cuff remark by Mr. Kerry becomes the basis of a Russian diplomatic initiative—immediately seized by an Assad regime that knows a sucker’s game when it sees one—to hand over Syria’s stocks of chemical weapons to international control. So now we’re supposed to embark on months of negotiation, mediated by our friends the Russians, to get Assad to relinquish a chemical arsenal he used to deny having, now denies using, and will soon deny secretly maintaining?

One of the favorite Democratic attack lines against the Bush administration was that it was “incompetent.”  [.........]

[........]

The administration also touts the support of 24 countries—Albania and Honduras are on board!—who have signed a letter condemning Assad’s use of chemical weapons “in the strongest terms,” though none of them, except maybe France, are contemplating military action. Yet Mr. Bush assembled a coalition of 40 countries who were willing to deploy troops to Iraq—a coalition Mr. Kerry mocked as inadequate and illegitimate when he ran for president in 2004.

Then there’s the intel. In London the other day, Mr. Kerry invited the public to examine the administration’s evidence of Assad’s use of chemical weapons, posted on whitehouse.gov. The “dossier” consists of a 1,455-word document heavy on blanket assertions such as “we assess with high confidence” and “we have a body of information,” and “we have identified one hundred videos.”

By contrast, the Bush administration made a highly detailed case on Iraqi WMD, including show-and-tells by Colin Powell at the Security Council. It also relied on the testimony of U.N. inspectors like Hans Blix, who reported in January 2003 that “there are strong indications that Iraq produced more anthrax than it declared,” that his inspectors had found “indications that the [nerve agent VX] was weaponized,” and that Iraq had “circumvented the restrictions” on the import of missile parts.

The case the Bush administration assembled on Iraqi WMD was far stronger than what the Obama administration has offered on Syria. And while I have few doubts that the case against Assad is solid, it shouldn’t shock Democrats that the White House’s “trust us” approach isn’t winning converts. When you’ve spent years peddling the libel that the Bush administration lied about Iraq, don’t be shocked when your goose gets cooked in the same foul sauce.

So what should President Obama say when he addresses the country Tuesday night? He could start by apologizing to President Bush for years of cheap slander. He won’t. He could dispense with the talk of “global norms” about chemical weapons and instead talk about the American interest in punishing Assad. He might. [........]

In the meantime, Republicans should ponder what their own political posturing on Syria might mean for the future. When a Republican president, faced with a Democratic House, feels compelled to take action against some other rogue regime, will they rue their past insistence on congressional approval?

Read the rest - The bed Obama and Kerry made

Bashar Assad’s American ‘useful idiots’ have turned on him

by Speranza ( 110 Comments › )
Filed under Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton, Iraq, Joe Biden, Lebanon, Syria at September 3rd, 2013 - 4:00 pm

It is funny seeing folks such as Obama, Hagel, Biden, and Kerry who used to so vociferously criticize W. sound a lot like him today.  As the guys from Powerline have written “Kerry is a man of limited intelligence who loves money and glamour” – proof of that is Kerry’s visits as Senator to Damascus where he became one of Bashar Assad’s biggest boosters back home in America.

by Rowan Scarborough

The Obama national security team that wants to go to war with Syria and demonizes President Bashar Assad is the same group that, as senators, urged reaching out to the dictator.

As a bloc on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, President Obama, Secretary of State John F. Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Vice President Joseph R. Biden all opposed the George W. Bush administration’s playing tough with Mr. Assad.

None grew closer to Mr. Assad and promoted him in Washington more than Mr. Kerry.

“President Assad has been very generous with me in terms of the discussions we have had,” Mr. Kerry, as a senator from Massachusetts, told an audience at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in March 2011. He predicted that Mr. Assad would change for the better.

But that same month, pro-democracy demonstrations erupted in Syria that would lead to a civil war, unmasking Mr. Assad’s brutal tactics, including the Aug. 21 unleashing of nerve gas that killed more than 1,400 civilians.

Today, Mr. Kerry is a leading advocate for attacking Mr. Assad’s regime. On Friday, he called the man he once befriended a “thug and murderer.”

Mr. Hagel is assembling a small armada in the eastern Mediterranean Sea to launch scores of cruise missiles at the Assad regime as punishment for the gas attack. Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden are lobbying allies and Congress to approve an attack.

[......]

When Mr. Assad succeeded his late father, Hafez, as dictator in July 2000, there was hope in Washington that the young ophthalmologist who was trained in London would shift the country from its brutal ways in neighboring Lebanon and its deep association with Iran and terrorism.

‘Constructive behavior’

But in the Bush administration’s view, Mr. Assad proved as devious as his father. He increased ties to Hezbollah and Hamas, two U.S.-designated terrorist groups backed by Iran, and grew even closer to Iran, which used Syria to pass rockets to terrorists.

In 2005, the Assad regime rocked Lebanon by playing a role in Hezbollah’s assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who had led an anti-Syrian bloc in Beruit.

By that year, Mr. Assad had begun helping al Qaeda by opening his country to jihadists who passed through the Damascus airport on their way to safe houses and then across the border into Iraq, where they killed U.S. troops.

The Bush administration made repeated demands in Damascus for Mr. Assad to stop the flow of al Qaeda killers but saw no progress.

Noting that behavior, the Bush national security team refused to engage Mr. Assad in peace talks until he changed. That stance riled senators, especially Mr. Kerry, Mr. Hagel and Mr. Biden.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice explained the administration’s position on Mr. Assad to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in 2007.

[.......]

“But the problem is, they are not engaging in constructive behavior. And we don’t see how that would change, currently, by talking to them.”

Mr. Biden, then the committee’s chairman, scolded her and reminded her of her duties.

“I do not agree with your statement, Madame Secretary, that negotiations with Iran and Syria would be extortion, nor did most of the witnesses we heard in this committee during the last month,” Mr. Biden said. “The proper term, I believe and they believe, is diplomacy, which is not about paying a price but finding a way to protect our interests without engaging in military conflict. It is, I might add, the fundamental responsibility of the Department of State, to engage in such diplomacy, as you well know.”

[.......]

“Have you included in those conversations, whether second- or third-party conversations, Iran and Syria?” Mr. Hagel said. “Because I don’t know how we could come up with any kind of a plan or focus, working with the United Nations or anyone else, if Iran and Syria are not included in that.”

One of Mr. Obama’s major foreign policy positions as a senator was unconditional direct talks with the leaders of Iran over its quest for nuclear weapons.

He also favored talks with Mr. Assad. Once in office, Mr. Kerry became his main emissary to Damascus, engaging in talks there in 2009, a month after Mr. Obama took office, and 2010, marking his third and fourth visits as a senator.

A ‘reformer’

Before the 2009 visit, the U.S. Embassy in Damascus sent a cable to Mr. Kerry and other senators on the trip.

“You should expect an enthusiastic reception by government officials of the Syrian Arab Republic (SARG) and from the media, who will interpret your presence as a signal that the [U.S. government] is ready for enhanced U.S.-Syrian relations,” said the cable, published by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.  [........]

At the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in 2011, Mr. Kerry was full of praise for Mr. Assad as the civil war in Syria erupted, and he predicted that the dictator would become a good actor.

“So my judgment is that Syria will move,” he said. “Syria will change as it embraces a legitimate relationship with the United States and the West and economic opportunity that comes with it and the participation that comes with it.”

That month, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, another alumnus of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, told “Face the Nation” on CBS that lawmakers who had visited Mr. Assad considered him a “reformer.” The U.S., she said, did not need to contemplate military action against Syria.

“There’s a different leader in Syria now,” Mrs. Clinton said. “Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer.”

Conservatives wonder whether Mr. Assad, seeing that those who had scolded the Bush team for not talking to him are now in power, calculated he could put down the unrest in his country without U.S. interference.

[.......]

Read  the rest – Bashar Assad loses U.S. friends as Kerry, Hagel and Biden take Bush’s stance on Syria
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