Commentary Magazine


Posts For: April 8, 2010

Uh Oh, Here Come the “Smart” Sanctions

Whenever diplomats use the word “smart” these days, something dumb is going on. From the START-signing ceremony, AP reports:

Looming over the celebration was Iran, which in the face of international pressures continues to assert that its uranium enrichment program is for peaceful purposes, not for weapons as suspected. Six powers — the US Russia, Britain, France, Germany and now China — are in talks in New York about a fourth set of United Nations sanctions to pressure Iran into compliance.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to this,” Medvedev said in a show of solidarity. But he said he was frank with Obama about how far Russia was willing to go, favoring only what he called “smart” sanctions that might have hope of changing behavior.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov later elaborated by saying, for example, that Russia would not endorse a total embargo on the delivery of refined petroleum products into Iran. Such products might be targeted in other ways, or sanctions on Iran’s energy sector might be avoided altogether to avoid running into deal-breaking opposition from Russia or China.

Like the Obami’s “smart” diplomacy, there is nothing “smart” about nibbling sanctions that don’t present the mullahs with a real choice: their own political survival or the pursuit of nuclear weapons. Only when the former is put at risk by severe sanctions and/or other pressure will they give up the latter. The Russians have apparently been enlisted in (or is it the other way around?) Obama’s scheme to go through the motions of sanctions, without any serious hope of affecting the mullahs’ nuclear ambitions. This is simply engagement in another guise — a grand stall putting off the moment when the U.S. must finally decide if “unacceptable” is really all that unacceptable.

Whenever diplomats use the word “smart” these days, something dumb is going on. From the START-signing ceremony, AP reports:

Looming over the celebration was Iran, which in the face of international pressures continues to assert that its uranium enrichment program is for peaceful purposes, not for weapons as suspected. Six powers — the US Russia, Britain, France, Germany and now China — are in talks in New York about a fourth set of United Nations sanctions to pressure Iran into compliance.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to this,” Medvedev said in a show of solidarity. But he said he was frank with Obama about how far Russia was willing to go, favoring only what he called “smart” sanctions that might have hope of changing behavior.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov later elaborated by saying, for example, that Russia would not endorse a total embargo on the delivery of refined petroleum products into Iran. Such products might be targeted in other ways, or sanctions on Iran’s energy sector might be avoided altogether to avoid running into deal-breaking opposition from Russia or China.

Like the Obami’s “smart” diplomacy, there is nothing “smart” about nibbling sanctions that don’t present the mullahs with a real choice: their own political survival or the pursuit of nuclear weapons. Only when the former is put at risk by severe sanctions and/or other pressure will they give up the latter. The Russians have apparently been enlisted in (or is it the other way around?) Obama’s scheme to go through the motions of sanctions, without any serious hope of affecting the mullahs’ nuclear ambitions. This is simply engagement in another guise — a grand stall putting off the moment when the U.S. must finally decide if “unacceptable” is really all that unacceptable.

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Why Are Americans Pro-Israel? They Hate Muslims

M.J. Rosenberg is a leading light in the “progressive” scene. He was formerly at the Israel Policy Forum and today posts embarrassing rants at the Talking Points Memo blog and is a “Senior Foreign Policy Fellow” at Media Matters. His new obsession is calling people racists. Here he is today saying in one short post that Jeffrey Goldberg, Lee Smith, and Rob Satloff are all racists (and Smith’s latest Tablet piece is “Islamophobic neocon claptrap,” an interesting charge coming from someone who has barely spent any time in the Islamic world against someone who has spent much of the past several years living in Cairo and Beirut).

A couple of weeks ago he appeared on a New America Foundation panel to discuss “American perceptions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Here is Rosenberg’s analysis:

The whole south shifts to the Republican Party over one issue, they don’t like black people…so you have the racism thing, the fact that we’ve eradicated the separation of church and state essentially, which started I have to say when Jimmy Carter was first elected. As a Jew I noticed it — first president who talked about Jesus Christ, and that was sort of like, “whoa, presidents don’t talk about Christ!”…and now you have the modern Republican Party that has to cater to these racists and that gets me to my fundamental point, it is not that they are pro-Israel. They are anti-Muslim. They do not like Muslims. They are on the side of Israel because Israel is — they don’t like Jews that much to start out with, either — but compared to Muslims, they like Jews fine.

They’re infatuated with the Israeli army. Why? Because the Israeli army kills Muslims. I mean, this is what it’s all about….When you hear them talk to the, I don’t want to say the average American, but certainly the average American south of the Mason-Dixon line, “these Muslims” — well, someone said to me the other day, “how’s Keith Ellison doing?” Because he’s a Muslim member of congress, with all these crazy wackos wandering around, I said “how’s Keith Ellison doing?” and he said, “oh, they don’t bother with Keith Ellison, he’s just Al-Qaeda.” …

And that’s what we saw on Saturday, the sheer hatred that has infused our politics, and the strongest strain in it right now, and one you are allowed to get away with, is the anti-Muslim strain. So I just don’t buy into the pro-Israel thing so much as it’s anti-Muslim.

There you have it, folks. Watch it in all its glory below. He starts getting warmed up around the 23-minute mark.

M.J. Rosenberg is a leading light in the “progressive” scene. He was formerly at the Israel Policy Forum and today posts embarrassing rants at the Talking Points Memo blog and is a “Senior Foreign Policy Fellow” at Media Matters. His new obsession is calling people racists. Here he is today saying in one short post that Jeffrey Goldberg, Lee Smith, and Rob Satloff are all racists (and Smith’s latest Tablet piece is “Islamophobic neocon claptrap,” an interesting charge coming from someone who has barely spent any time in the Islamic world against someone who has spent much of the past several years living in Cairo and Beirut).

A couple of weeks ago he appeared on a New America Foundation panel to discuss “American perceptions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Here is Rosenberg’s analysis:

The whole south shifts to the Republican Party over one issue, they don’t like black people…so you have the racism thing, the fact that we’ve eradicated the separation of church and state essentially, which started I have to say when Jimmy Carter was first elected. As a Jew I noticed it — first president who talked about Jesus Christ, and that was sort of like, “whoa, presidents don’t talk about Christ!”…and now you have the modern Republican Party that has to cater to these racists and that gets me to my fundamental point, it is not that they are pro-Israel. They are anti-Muslim. They do not like Muslims. They are on the side of Israel because Israel is — they don’t like Jews that much to start out with, either — but compared to Muslims, they like Jews fine.

They’re infatuated with the Israeli army. Why? Because the Israeli army kills Muslims. I mean, this is what it’s all about….When you hear them talk to the, I don’t want to say the average American, but certainly the average American south of the Mason-Dixon line, “these Muslims” — well, someone said to me the other day, “how’s Keith Ellison doing?” Because he’s a Muslim member of congress, with all these crazy wackos wandering around, I said “how’s Keith Ellison doing?” and he said, “oh, they don’t bother with Keith Ellison, he’s just Al-Qaeda.” …

And that’s what we saw on Saturday, the sheer hatred that has infused our politics, and the strongest strain in it right now, and one you are allowed to get away with, is the anti-Muslim strain. So I just don’t buy into the pro-Israel thing so much as it’s anti-Muslim.

There you have it, folks. Watch it in all its glory below. He starts getting warmed up around the 23-minute mark.

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From the Annals of Politics and the English Language

Laura Ingraham, as guest host of the O’Reilly Factor, takes on the Obama administration’s possible ban on the term “Islamic extremism” in our national-security strategy. She does a very nice job of carving up former Clinton NSC adviser Nancy Soderberg, a woman who is both ignorant and tendentious. Over on Special Report with Bret Baier, Charles Krauthammer offers some intelligent and insightful comments on this subject. But I’ll report; you decide.

Laura Ingraham, as guest host of the O’Reilly Factor, takes on the Obama administration’s possible ban on the term “Islamic extremism” in our national-security strategy. She does a very nice job of carving up former Clinton NSC adviser Nancy Soderberg, a woman who is both ignorant and tendentious. Over on Special Report with Bret Baier, Charles Krauthammer offers some intelligent and insightful comments on this subject. But I’ll report; you decide.

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Welcome Back, MAD

The New START treaty signed today does what critics have feared: it gives Russia an out should it conclude that any evolving situation is destabilized by America’s missile defenses, and it prohibits the U.S. from expanding our missile-defense capability by converting decommissioned ICBM silos in North America.

The language in the ninth paragraph of the treaty preamble gives the Russians whatever latitude they choose to object to U.S. missile defenses:

Recognizing the existence of the interrelationship between strategic offensive arms and strategic defensive arms, that this interrelationship will become more important as strategic nuclear arms are reduced, and that current strategic defensive arms do not undermine the viability and effectiveness of the strategic offensive arms of the Parties.

As Keith B. Payne points out in the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has already clarified the Russian interpretation of this passage:

[Lavrov] stated at a press conference in Moscow on March 26 that “The treaty is signed against the backdrop of particular levels of strategic defensive systems. A change of these levels will give each side the right to consider its further participation in the reduction of strategic offensive armaments.”

Meanwhile, Paragraph 3 of Article V, on page 10, specifically prohibits either side from converting ballistic-missile launchers (including silos) to missile-defense launchers. There was no valid reason to accept this unconscionable restraint on our national defense: a limitation that will bind us while the treaty is in effect no matter where threats may emerge.

Obama’s September 2009 cancellation of the Bush missile-defense deployment in Europe has already shown us how he reacts when Russia objects to U.S. missile-defense plans. Moreover, last fall’s decision was made without any implied threat of Russia’s opting out of its arms treaties. Now that such a threat hovers expressly over Moscow’s commitment to the New START treaty, it seems unlikely we can expect more backbone in Obama’s missile-defense posture.

This passage from the Obama Nuclear Posture Review (page 16) is certainly suggestive about our prospects:

A strategic dialogue with Russia will allow the United States to explain that our missile defenses and any future U.S. conventionally-armed long-range ballistic missile systems are designed to address newly emerging regional threats, and are not intended to affect the strategic balance with Russia.

But the premise of this is false. An effective missile defense is, in fact, intended to affect the strategic balance, not just with Russia but also with any other nuclear power. The purpose of missile defense is precisely to obviate the old calculations of Mutual Assured Destruction. This was the reason George W. Bush withdrew from the ABM treaty in 2002 and divorced the negotiation of the Moscow SORT treaty from any haggling over missile defense. His intent was to predicate our security and that of our allies on defense, not on the mutual hostage situation — what we used to call the “balance of terror” — inherent in MAD.

Russian leaders have repeatedly rejected America’s offers to cooperate and share technology for strategic missile defenses. They have remained determined instead to hold American and allied populations at risk as the guarantee of Russian security. With the New START treaty, they have prevailed on that point, placing America’s missile-defense program under limitations both implicit and explicit. Obama is effectively returning us to the MAD regime.

The New START treaty signed today does what critics have feared: it gives Russia an out should it conclude that any evolving situation is destabilized by America’s missile defenses, and it prohibits the U.S. from expanding our missile-defense capability by converting decommissioned ICBM silos in North America.

The language in the ninth paragraph of the treaty preamble gives the Russians whatever latitude they choose to object to U.S. missile defenses:

Recognizing the existence of the interrelationship between strategic offensive arms and strategic defensive arms, that this interrelationship will become more important as strategic nuclear arms are reduced, and that current strategic defensive arms do not undermine the viability and effectiveness of the strategic offensive arms of the Parties.

As Keith B. Payne points out in the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has already clarified the Russian interpretation of this passage:

[Lavrov] stated at a press conference in Moscow on March 26 that “The treaty is signed against the backdrop of particular levels of strategic defensive systems. A change of these levels will give each side the right to consider its further participation in the reduction of strategic offensive armaments.”

Meanwhile, Paragraph 3 of Article V, on page 10, specifically prohibits either side from converting ballistic-missile launchers (including silos) to missile-defense launchers. There was no valid reason to accept this unconscionable restraint on our national defense: a limitation that will bind us while the treaty is in effect no matter where threats may emerge.

Obama’s September 2009 cancellation of the Bush missile-defense deployment in Europe has already shown us how he reacts when Russia objects to U.S. missile-defense plans. Moreover, last fall’s decision was made without any implied threat of Russia’s opting out of its arms treaties. Now that such a threat hovers expressly over Moscow’s commitment to the New START treaty, it seems unlikely we can expect more backbone in Obama’s missile-defense posture.

This passage from the Obama Nuclear Posture Review (page 16) is certainly suggestive about our prospects:

A strategic dialogue with Russia will allow the United States to explain that our missile defenses and any future U.S. conventionally-armed long-range ballistic missile systems are designed to address newly emerging regional threats, and are not intended to affect the strategic balance with Russia.

But the premise of this is false. An effective missile defense is, in fact, intended to affect the strategic balance, not just with Russia but also with any other nuclear power. The purpose of missile defense is precisely to obviate the old calculations of Mutual Assured Destruction. This was the reason George W. Bush withdrew from the ABM treaty in 2002 and divorced the negotiation of the Moscow SORT treaty from any haggling over missile defense. His intent was to predicate our security and that of our allies on defense, not on the mutual hostage situation — what we used to call the “balance of terror” — inherent in MAD.

Russian leaders have repeatedly rejected America’s offers to cooperate and share technology for strategic missile defenses. They have remained determined instead to hold American and allied populations at risk as the guarantee of Russian security. With the New START treaty, they have prevailed on that point, placing America’s missile-defense program under limitations both implicit and explicit. Obama is effectively returning us to the MAD regime.

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Into the Danger Zone

More bad news for Democrats, courtesy of Gallup:

A record-low percentage of U.S. voters — 28% — say most members of Congress deserve to be re-elected. The previous low was 29% in October 1992.

The trend for previous midterm elections reveals that the 28% re-elect figure puts the sitting majority party in a danger zone. In the two recent midterm elections in which the congressional balance of power changed (1994 and 2006), the percentage of voters saying most members deserved to be re-elected fell below 40%, as it does today. By contrast, in 1998 and 2002, when the existing Republican majority was maintained, 55% or better held this view.

Additionally, 65% of registered voters — the highest in Gallup history, and by far the highest in any recent midterm year — now say most members of Congress do not deserve re-election.

This strong rebuke of congressional incumbents comes from a March 26-28 USA Today/Gallup survey. The same poll finds 49% of voters, a near-record low, saying their own member of Congress deserves to be re-elected. This marks only the second time since Gallup began asking this question in 1992 that the figure has dipped below 50%, and the first on the doorstep of a midterm election.

For Gallup, a notably measured and understated outfit, to declare that the results of this poll put “the sitting majority party in a danger zone” ought to put the sitting majority party into a panic zone. But I imagine many of them are, if not quite there, at least inching up to it. Call it the bitter fruit of Obamaism and ObamaCare.

More bad news for Democrats, courtesy of Gallup:

A record-low percentage of U.S. voters — 28% — say most members of Congress deserve to be re-elected. The previous low was 29% in October 1992.

The trend for previous midterm elections reveals that the 28% re-elect figure puts the sitting majority party in a danger zone. In the two recent midterm elections in which the congressional balance of power changed (1994 and 2006), the percentage of voters saying most members deserved to be re-elected fell below 40%, as it does today. By contrast, in 1998 and 2002, when the existing Republican majority was maintained, 55% or better held this view.

Additionally, 65% of registered voters — the highest in Gallup history, and by far the highest in any recent midterm year — now say most members of Congress do not deserve re-election.

This strong rebuke of congressional incumbents comes from a March 26-28 USA Today/Gallup survey. The same poll finds 49% of voters, a near-record low, saying their own member of Congress deserves to be re-elected. This marks only the second time since Gallup began asking this question in 1992 that the figure has dipped below 50%, and the first on the doorstep of a midterm election.

For Gallup, a notably measured and understated outfit, to declare that the results of this poll put “the sitting majority party in a danger zone” ought to put the sitting majority party into a panic zone. But I imagine many of them are, if not quite there, at least inching up to it. Call it the bitter fruit of Obamaism and ObamaCare.

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Cameron Willing to Take Obama’s Shilling to Be a Loyal Soldier Against Israel

Jewish Ideas Daily provides a brief guide to the upcoming British elections for supporters of Israel, but the short answer to the question of which of the three contending political parties will be friendlier to the Jewish state is “None of the Above.” The current Labour government has shown itself to be no friend to Israel, and the Liberal Democrats who hope to play the spoilers on May 6 is home to an even greater proportion of Israel-haters than is the Labour hard-Left. As for the Conservatives, JID gives them some credit: “The tone of party pronouncements on Israel are notably sympathetic. William Hague, a former party leader and now Shadow Foreign Secretary, criticized Labor for not voting against the Goldstone Report.”

However, Melanie Phillips points out in her Spectator blog that Tory leader David Cameron, whom she prefers to call “David Obameron,” is promising to line up as a loyal soldier in the Obama administration’s diplomatic war on Israel. As evidence she cites the following in an interview with Cameron in the Financial Times published on March 31 (subscription required):

FT: Yes. You managed to tell Mr. Netanyahu that he might want to revise his position on settlements.

DC: I have. Unlike a lot of politicians from Britain who visit Israel, when I went, I did stand in occupied East Jerusalem and actually referred to it as occupied East Jerusalem. The Foreign Office bod who was with me said, most ministers don’t dare say. So, yes, I thought I had quite an argument when I was in Israel with Tzipi Livni about settlements and I think Obama is right to take a robust line. I think we have to but it is depressing how little progress is being made right now.

So Cameron — whose skimmed-milk New Age version of conservatism may wind up pulling defeat from the jaws of victory in the coming ballot — not only brags about his disdain for a united Jerusalem and his disagreement with the leader of the opposition to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government on the fate of Jerusalem but expresses support for Obama’s diplomatic offensive against the Jewish state. It may well be that trying to identify himself with Obama may be good British politics right now, but this stand seems to conform with the rest of Cameron’s worldview, which is anything but friendly to Israel or the long-term interests of the West. Barack Obama may well be able to count on him in his campaign against Israel while doing nothing about the nuclear threat from Iran.

The bottom line: while some American conservatives may instinctively favor the defeat of a Labour government by the party of Margaret Thatcher, David Cameron is no Thatcher. As for friends of Israel, they’ve no rooting interest at all in the outcome.

Jewish Ideas Daily provides a brief guide to the upcoming British elections for supporters of Israel, but the short answer to the question of which of the three contending political parties will be friendlier to the Jewish state is “None of the Above.” The current Labour government has shown itself to be no friend to Israel, and the Liberal Democrats who hope to play the spoilers on May 6 is home to an even greater proportion of Israel-haters than is the Labour hard-Left. As for the Conservatives, JID gives them some credit: “The tone of party pronouncements on Israel are notably sympathetic. William Hague, a former party leader and now Shadow Foreign Secretary, criticized Labor for not voting against the Goldstone Report.”

However, Melanie Phillips points out in her Spectator blog that Tory leader David Cameron, whom she prefers to call “David Obameron,” is promising to line up as a loyal soldier in the Obama administration’s diplomatic war on Israel. As evidence she cites the following in an interview with Cameron in the Financial Times published on March 31 (subscription required):

FT: Yes. You managed to tell Mr. Netanyahu that he might want to revise his position on settlements.

DC: I have. Unlike a lot of politicians from Britain who visit Israel, when I went, I did stand in occupied East Jerusalem and actually referred to it as occupied East Jerusalem. The Foreign Office bod who was with me said, most ministers don’t dare say. So, yes, I thought I had quite an argument when I was in Israel with Tzipi Livni about settlements and I think Obama is right to take a robust line. I think we have to but it is depressing how little progress is being made right now.

So Cameron — whose skimmed-milk New Age version of conservatism may wind up pulling defeat from the jaws of victory in the coming ballot — not only brags about his disdain for a united Jerusalem and his disagreement with the leader of the opposition to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government on the fate of Jerusalem but expresses support for Obama’s diplomatic offensive against the Jewish state. It may well be that trying to identify himself with Obama may be good British politics right now, but this stand seems to conform with the rest of Cameron’s worldview, which is anything but friendly to Israel or the long-term interests of the West. Barack Obama may well be able to count on him in his campaign against Israel while doing nothing about the nuclear threat from Iran.

The bottom line: while some American conservatives may instinctively favor the defeat of a Labour government by the party of Margaret Thatcher, David Cameron is no Thatcher. As for friends of Israel, they’ve no rooting interest at all in the outcome.

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RE: Obama’s Nuclear Nonproliferation Fantasy

Hillary Clinton declared of the new START treaty, “The treaty also shows the world — particularly states like Iran and North Korea — that one of our top priorities is to strengthen the global nonproliferation regime and keep nuclear materials out of the wrong hands.” Sigh. One hopes they really don’t believe this gibberish — that small reductions in the stockpiles of two nuclear powers have any impact on the mullahs’ determination to get their hands on just one bomb. But, alas, they seem to be sincere, and that’s the danger.

Turning to the other nuclear news of the week, John Noonan contends that the Nuclear Posture Review could have been a lot worse. Thanks to Defense Secretary Gates:

It preserved both the structure and readiness of America’s nuclear force, as the missile-bomber-submarine triad will remain intact, and there will be no “de-alerting” of ICBMs. Additionally, the NPR acknowledged that rapidly developing security scenarios may require a nuclear first strike. First strike, alerted ICBMs, and a three-system nuclear triad were all key bugaboos that the go-to-zero egalitarians wanted gone. Gates left them disappointed.

No doubt to their eternal annoyance, the secretary took the NPR a step further. He acknowledged that missile defense will play a critical role in America’s security future. He called for follow-ons to the Ohio Class ballistic missile submarine and the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (which has been on alert since the Nixon administration). Gates also clearly dictated the need for significant life extension to the current inventory of nuclear weapons, a proposal that prompted nose turning from the Obama White House.

But it also — because this is the sort of thing Obama cannot be dissuaded from doing — included the goofy renunciation of nuclear weapons that allows us to use nuclear weapons only to defend ourselves against a biological or chemical attack against a country that is not in compliance with the NPT. (Imagine the inane conversation after such a strike — “Hmm, is Syria in compliance? Does Hezbollah count, as it’s not a country at all?”) On one level, it’s nonsense because in all likelihood, NPT signatories aren’t going to attack us, and if they did — and a million Americans were dead — no president is going to take any option off the table. But on another level, like Clinton’s inanity on START, it projects foolishness and removes strategic ambiguity that is useful in deterring all manner of rogue states. As Noonan comments:

The problem is the fact that Obama has tampered with a simple, effective nuclear policy that keeps the bad guys in check. That is, use a WMD of any sort on the U.S. or her allies and the response will be apocalyptic in its devastation. That doesn’t necessarily have to be true, it just has be to perceived as true by potential adversaries. Deterrence is predicated on fear of force, not force itself. It’s classic Sun Tzu — “to subdue your enemies without fighting is supreme excellence.”

Taking military force off the table with Iran, hoping the START treaty impresses the mullahs, and forswearing a nuclear response to defend the country — these are unserious and unhelpful gestures that are recognized by our enemies as evidence of a feckless administration reluctant to use force or even the threat of force. We are less safe because of it.

Hillary Clinton declared of the new START treaty, “The treaty also shows the world — particularly states like Iran and North Korea — that one of our top priorities is to strengthen the global nonproliferation regime and keep nuclear materials out of the wrong hands.” Sigh. One hopes they really don’t believe this gibberish — that small reductions in the stockpiles of two nuclear powers have any impact on the mullahs’ determination to get their hands on just one bomb. But, alas, they seem to be sincere, and that’s the danger.

Turning to the other nuclear news of the week, John Noonan contends that the Nuclear Posture Review could have been a lot worse. Thanks to Defense Secretary Gates:

It preserved both the structure and readiness of America’s nuclear force, as the missile-bomber-submarine triad will remain intact, and there will be no “de-alerting” of ICBMs. Additionally, the NPR acknowledged that rapidly developing security scenarios may require a nuclear first strike. First strike, alerted ICBMs, and a three-system nuclear triad were all key bugaboos that the go-to-zero egalitarians wanted gone. Gates left them disappointed.

No doubt to their eternal annoyance, the secretary took the NPR a step further. He acknowledged that missile defense will play a critical role in America’s security future. He called for follow-ons to the Ohio Class ballistic missile submarine and the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (which has been on alert since the Nixon administration). Gates also clearly dictated the need for significant life extension to the current inventory of nuclear weapons, a proposal that prompted nose turning from the Obama White House.

But it also — because this is the sort of thing Obama cannot be dissuaded from doing — included the goofy renunciation of nuclear weapons that allows us to use nuclear weapons only to defend ourselves against a biological or chemical attack against a country that is not in compliance with the NPT. (Imagine the inane conversation after such a strike — “Hmm, is Syria in compliance? Does Hezbollah count, as it’s not a country at all?”) On one level, it’s nonsense because in all likelihood, NPT signatories aren’t going to attack us, and if they did — and a million Americans were dead — no president is going to take any option off the table. But on another level, like Clinton’s inanity on START, it projects foolishness and removes strategic ambiguity that is useful in deterring all manner of rogue states. As Noonan comments:

The problem is the fact that Obama has tampered with a simple, effective nuclear policy that keeps the bad guys in check. That is, use a WMD of any sort on the U.S. or her allies and the response will be apocalyptic in its devastation. That doesn’t necessarily have to be true, it just has be to perceived as true by potential adversaries. Deterrence is predicated on fear of force, not force itself. It’s classic Sun Tzu — “to subdue your enemies without fighting is supreme excellence.”

Taking military force off the table with Iran, hoping the START treaty impresses the mullahs, and forswearing a nuclear response to defend the country — these are unserious and unhelpful gestures that are recognized by our enemies as evidence of a feckless administration reluctant to use force or even the threat of force. We are less safe because of it.

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Peace Plan No. 6

Asked about the Washington Post story in which it was reported that the administration is considering its own Middle East peace plan, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley issued a non-denial/denial yesterday, in which the operative words were “at this point”:

I would steer you away from the idea that we are — we’re going to try to, at this point, impose a particular view on the parties … our focus right now is getting them into the proximity talks, into negotiations, and then we’ll see what happens after that. [Emphasis added]

The “peace process” has not suffered from an insufficient number of plans. In the past decade, we have had five of them: (1) the Israeli two-state plan presented at Camp David in July 2000 — rejected by the Palestinians; (2) the Clinton Parameters presented in December 2000 — rejected by the Palestinians; (3) the 2003 Roadmap, calling for the dismantlement of Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups as Phase I — ignored by the Palestinians; (4) the 2005 Gaza disengagement, giving the Palestinians a Judenrein Gaza to start their state — which produced a rocket war on Israeli civilians; and (5) the 2007-08 Annapolis Process, a plan for year-long final-status negotiations resulting in still another Israeli offer of a state — rejected by the Palestinians.

Even a casual observer can spot the problem here, and it is not the absence of a plan.

The Gaza disengagement was the result of a deal in which Israel withdrew every soldier and settler from Gaza (and dismantled four settlements in the West Bank to demonstrate it would be Gaza first, not Gaza last) in exchange for explicit American promises about the future of the peace process. The first of those promises was that the U.S. would neither impose its own plan nor allow others to do so.

The U.S. letter memorializing the deal assured Israel that the U.S. would do its utmost to “prevent any attempt by anyone to impose any other plan” than the Roadmap (emphasis added). Sharon was concerned that Israel might eventually be pressured to accept something like the Geneva Accord (then being touted by Jimmy Carter), pushing Israel back to the indefensible 1967 borders. The second promise was a reiteration of the “steadfast commitment” by the U.S. to “defensible borders” for Israel.

The coming U.S. plan will violate both of those promises, and the prospect of such a plan will eliminate any incentive for the Palestinians to do anything other than wait for it — secure in the knowledge that the current U.S. administration does not feel bound by any prior commitments to Israel.

Asked about the Washington Post story in which it was reported that the administration is considering its own Middle East peace plan, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley issued a non-denial/denial yesterday, in which the operative words were “at this point”:

I would steer you away from the idea that we are — we’re going to try to, at this point, impose a particular view on the parties … our focus right now is getting them into the proximity talks, into negotiations, and then we’ll see what happens after that. [Emphasis added]

The “peace process” has not suffered from an insufficient number of plans. In the past decade, we have had five of them: (1) the Israeli two-state plan presented at Camp David in July 2000 — rejected by the Palestinians; (2) the Clinton Parameters presented in December 2000 — rejected by the Palestinians; (3) the 2003 Roadmap, calling for the dismantlement of Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups as Phase I — ignored by the Palestinians; (4) the 2005 Gaza disengagement, giving the Palestinians a Judenrein Gaza to start their state — which produced a rocket war on Israeli civilians; and (5) the 2007-08 Annapolis Process, a plan for year-long final-status negotiations resulting in still another Israeli offer of a state — rejected by the Palestinians.

Even a casual observer can spot the problem here, and it is not the absence of a plan.

The Gaza disengagement was the result of a deal in which Israel withdrew every soldier and settler from Gaza (and dismantled four settlements in the West Bank to demonstrate it would be Gaza first, not Gaza last) in exchange for explicit American promises about the future of the peace process. The first of those promises was that the U.S. would neither impose its own plan nor allow others to do so.

The U.S. letter memorializing the deal assured Israel that the U.S. would do its utmost to “prevent any attempt by anyone to impose any other plan” than the Roadmap (emphasis added). Sharon was concerned that Israel might eventually be pressured to accept something like the Geneva Accord (then being touted by Jimmy Carter), pushing Israel back to the indefensible 1967 borders. The second promise was a reiteration of the “steadfast commitment” by the U.S. to “defensible borders” for Israel.

The coming U.S. plan will violate both of those promises, and the prospect of such a plan will eliminate any incentive for the Palestinians to do anything other than wait for it — secure in the knowledge that the current U.S. administration does not feel bound by any prior commitments to Israel.

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Obama’s Karzai Miscalculation

With the relationship between the American and Afghan presidents in tatters, it’s worth noting just how far back Barack Obama’s mishandling of Hamid Karzai goes. This revealing Washington Post article from May 6, 2009 relates a story about a meeting between the two men in July of 2008, when Obama was still a presidential candidate.

Karzai was fairly obsequious and Obama was mistrustful. The former talked up progress in Afghanistan and offered, “I’m at your disposal, Senator Obama.” Yet, “Obama voiced concern that the situation was worse than Karzai had acknowledged, [Sen. Chuck] Hagel recalled. He ‘was not taken in,’ Hagel said, ‘by all of the happy talk.’”

Which is to Obama’s credit. But surely there was a productive way to exploit the Afghan president’s declaration of obedience. Karzai might well have been embellishing, but if Obama was truly interested in a fresh start in Afghanistan he could scarcely have hoped for a better opening. Instead, once he was elected, he threw Karzai’s offer back in his face:

Ten days before Obama’s inauguration, Karzai told Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. during a private meeting in Kabul that he looked forward to building with Obama the same sort of chummy relationship he had with Bush, which included frequent videoconferences and personal visits.

“Well, it’s going to be different,” Biden replied, according to a person with direct knowledge of the conversation. “You’ll probably talk to him or see him a couple of times a year. You’re not going to be talking to him every week.”

It’s hard to make a sensible person feel bad for Hamid Karzai, but the above exchange just about does the trick. There is no question that Obama was working what he thought of as an effective angle to bring accountability to a deeply problematic government. But there is also no question that this approach was informed by a reactive dismissal of everything George W. Bush did during his time in office. According to the Post, “Obama advisers believe the relationship that Bush developed with Karzai masked the Afghan leader’s flaws and made it difficult to demand accountability.”

But accountability cannot simply be demanded. It must be cleverly finagled. And so, things devolved steadily, while Karzai struggled to save face in his own country. Obama rarely dealt with him and the White House rejected his request for a bilateral meeting in Washington.  The Afghan president acknowledged the tension in the relationship but claimed, “the fundamentals are strong and steady.” At the same time, administration figures, most notably, special envoy for Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke was pushing for Afghans to challenge Karzai in the then-upcoming elections.

Of course, since the Post story, things have gone from bad to worse. Last December, when Obama announced that some 30,000 additional U.S. forces would be heading to Afghanistan, he diluted his message of support with a vow to pull out in 18 months. This itself constituted a new and potent disaster, quite apart from all the snubbing. For the only thing that keeps leaders on America’s side in that part of the world is the assurance that we are all in and there for the duration. Sunni sheiks in Iraq would not have dreamed of joining up with Americans against al Qaeda unless they knew we weren’t leaving prematurely. That reasoning now risks an Afghan-style inversion. Karzai wouldn’t make noise about joining the Taliban unless he had doubts about America’s willingness to outlast them.

On top of Obama’s mixed message, the administration leaked that Karzai’s brother was a drug dealer and then publicly—and impotently—berated Karzai about the non-transparent elections that returned him to power.

The point here is not that Karzai is a paragon of trustworthiness and good governance. He is a very flawed and, in some ways, compromised figure. The issue is how best to keep him from actively obstructing our mission and how to lay the foundation for a genuine tilt toward a stable and accountable representative government in Afghanistan. That’s achieved first by backing up a rock-solid commitment to defeat the Taliban and staying on for institution building. At the same time, Karzai should be intelligently coerced in private, not undermined in public.

For a president who has invested so much in style over substance, and dwelled so incessantly on the virtues of listening over dictating, Obama has achieved a strikingly ill conceived tone on Karzai. What’s more his penchant for the perfect compromise has not served him well on Afghanistan. We cannot at once be committed to fighting and winding down the same war. Nor can we treat a partner as both an ally and an antagonist. For all Obama’s talk of Bush’s failures in Afghanistan, the president could learn a few things from his predecessor.

With the relationship between the American and Afghan presidents in tatters, it’s worth noting just how far back Barack Obama’s mishandling of Hamid Karzai goes. This revealing Washington Post article from May 6, 2009 relates a story about a meeting between the two men in July of 2008, when Obama was still a presidential candidate.

Karzai was fairly obsequious and Obama was mistrustful. The former talked up progress in Afghanistan and offered, “I’m at your disposal, Senator Obama.” Yet, “Obama voiced concern that the situation was worse than Karzai had acknowledged, [Sen. Chuck] Hagel recalled. He ‘was not taken in,’ Hagel said, ‘by all of the happy talk.’”

Which is to Obama’s credit. But surely there was a productive way to exploit the Afghan president’s declaration of obedience. Karzai might well have been embellishing, but if Obama was truly interested in a fresh start in Afghanistan he could scarcely have hoped for a better opening. Instead, once he was elected, he threw Karzai’s offer back in his face:

Ten days before Obama’s inauguration, Karzai told Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. during a private meeting in Kabul that he looked forward to building with Obama the same sort of chummy relationship he had with Bush, which included frequent videoconferences and personal visits.

“Well, it’s going to be different,” Biden replied, according to a person with direct knowledge of the conversation. “You’ll probably talk to him or see him a couple of times a year. You’re not going to be talking to him every week.”

It’s hard to make a sensible person feel bad for Hamid Karzai, but the above exchange just about does the trick. There is no question that Obama was working what he thought of as an effective angle to bring accountability to a deeply problematic government. But there is also no question that this approach was informed by a reactive dismissal of everything George W. Bush did during his time in office. According to the Post, “Obama advisers believe the relationship that Bush developed with Karzai masked the Afghan leader’s flaws and made it difficult to demand accountability.”

But accountability cannot simply be demanded. It must be cleverly finagled. And so, things devolved steadily, while Karzai struggled to save face in his own country. Obama rarely dealt with him and the White House rejected his request for a bilateral meeting in Washington.  The Afghan president acknowledged the tension in the relationship but claimed, “the fundamentals are strong and steady.” At the same time, administration figures, most notably, special envoy for Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke was pushing for Afghans to challenge Karzai in the then-upcoming elections.

Of course, since the Post story, things have gone from bad to worse. Last December, when Obama announced that some 30,000 additional U.S. forces would be heading to Afghanistan, he diluted his message of support with a vow to pull out in 18 months. This itself constituted a new and potent disaster, quite apart from all the snubbing. For the only thing that keeps leaders on America’s side in that part of the world is the assurance that we are all in and there for the duration. Sunni sheiks in Iraq would not have dreamed of joining up with Americans against al Qaeda unless they knew we weren’t leaving prematurely. That reasoning now risks an Afghan-style inversion. Karzai wouldn’t make noise about joining the Taliban unless he had doubts about America’s willingness to outlast them.

On top of Obama’s mixed message, the administration leaked that Karzai’s brother was a drug dealer and then publicly—and impotently—berated Karzai about the non-transparent elections that returned him to power.

The point here is not that Karzai is a paragon of trustworthiness and good governance. He is a very flawed and, in some ways, compromised figure. The issue is how best to keep him from actively obstructing our mission and how to lay the foundation for a genuine tilt toward a stable and accountable representative government in Afghanistan. That’s achieved first by backing up a rock-solid commitment to defeat the Taliban and staying on for institution building. At the same time, Karzai should be intelligently coerced in private, not undermined in public.

For a president who has invested so much in style over substance, and dwelled so incessantly on the virtues of listening over dictating, Obama has achieved a strikingly ill conceived tone on Karzai. What’s more his penchant for the perfect compromise has not served him well on Afghanistan. We cannot at once be committed to fighting and winding down the same war. Nor can we treat a partner as both an ally and an antagonist. For all Obama’s talk of Bush’s failures in Afghanistan, the president could learn a few things from his predecessor.

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Jewish Voters Deceived

Those disturbed by President Obama’s habit of saying one thing in the campaign and doing another while in office have another example, this one on foreign policy. And those disturbed by the talk of the president issuing his own Arab-Israeli peace plan have another, related question to ponder: what is Carter-administration official Zbigniew Brzezinski doing in the room? During the presidential campaign, candidate Obama addressed the issue of Brzezinski’s role directly at least twice when asked about it by concerned Jewish voters. Relations between Brzezinski and the Obama campaign were already an issue, with Alan Dershowitz having publicly called on Obama to repudiate Brzezinski when he met with about 100 members of the Cleveland Jewish Community on February 24, 2008. Here’s what he said:

I know Brzezinski. He’s not one of my key advisors. I’ve had lunch with him once, I’ve exchanged e-mails with him maybe 3 times. … I do not share his views with respect to Israel. I have said so clearly and unequivocally….

Then, on April 16, 2008, candidate Obama met with Jewish leaders from the Philadelphia area. This is how the New York Sun reported the April 16 meeting:

Rabbi Neil Cooper of Beth Hillel-Beth El Synagogue came away skeptical. He said he buttonholed the candidate as he was leaving the event and asked him about the connection between Mr. Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and the Obama campaign. “From my perspective, the devil here is going to be in the details,” Rabbi Cooper said. “The questions I have have to do with his very pronouncements on Israel on the one hand, which are positive, and then he seems to attract all kinds of other people who have a different agenda on Israel, like Brzezinski. I said, ‘Why don’t you get rid of Brzezinski?’ He says he listens to Brzezinski on certain things but not when it comes to Israel. (Emphasis added.)

Now comes a report in the New York Times according to which, at a White House meeting, President Obama asked Mr. Brzezinski for his advice on whether to put forward an American plan for Arab-Israeli peace. Worse, present at this same meeting was Brent Scowcroft, whom, back during the campaign, Obama proxies were criticizing Senator McCain for listening to. President Obama says consumers need a new regulatory agency to protect them from being conned by greedy bankers. But as far as fraudulent sales jobs go, the one that the Democrat pulled on Jewish voters in 2008 is one for the ages.

Those disturbed by President Obama’s habit of saying one thing in the campaign and doing another while in office have another example, this one on foreign policy. And those disturbed by the talk of the president issuing his own Arab-Israeli peace plan have another, related question to ponder: what is Carter-administration official Zbigniew Brzezinski doing in the room? During the presidential campaign, candidate Obama addressed the issue of Brzezinski’s role directly at least twice when asked about it by concerned Jewish voters. Relations between Brzezinski and the Obama campaign were already an issue, with Alan Dershowitz having publicly called on Obama to repudiate Brzezinski when he met with about 100 members of the Cleveland Jewish Community on February 24, 2008. Here’s what he said:

I know Brzezinski. He’s not one of my key advisors. I’ve had lunch with him once, I’ve exchanged e-mails with him maybe 3 times. … I do not share his views with respect to Israel. I have said so clearly and unequivocally….

Then, on April 16, 2008, candidate Obama met with Jewish leaders from the Philadelphia area. This is how the New York Sun reported the April 16 meeting:

Rabbi Neil Cooper of Beth Hillel-Beth El Synagogue came away skeptical. He said he buttonholed the candidate as he was leaving the event and asked him about the connection between Mr. Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and the Obama campaign. “From my perspective, the devil here is going to be in the details,” Rabbi Cooper said. “The questions I have have to do with his very pronouncements on Israel on the one hand, which are positive, and then he seems to attract all kinds of other people who have a different agenda on Israel, like Brzezinski. I said, ‘Why don’t you get rid of Brzezinski?’ He says he listens to Brzezinski on certain things but not when it comes to Israel. (Emphasis added.)

Now comes a report in the New York Times according to which, at a White House meeting, President Obama asked Mr. Brzezinski for his advice on whether to put forward an American plan for Arab-Israeli peace. Worse, present at this same meeting was Brent Scowcroft, whom, back during the campaign, Obama proxies were criticizing Senator McCain for listening to. President Obama says consumers need a new regulatory agency to protect them from being conned by greedy bankers. But as far as fraudulent sales jobs go, the one that the Democrat pulled on Jewish voters in 2008 is one for the ages.

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ObamaCare Is a Selling Point — for the GOP

Since the passage of Obamacare we’ve observed a decided lack of enthusiasm for the “historic bill.” The polls show that a substantial majority still oppose it. Democrats running for office are reticent to mention it and to appear with the president. And vulnerable freshmen are more vulnerable than ever. The AP reports:

Tough votes for Obama’s health care plan have further complicated the re-election prospects of dozens of already vulnerable freshman and second-term Democrats. There’s even a chance the party could lose control of one or both houses in the midterm elections.

Lawmakers are weary of facing uncontrolled gatherings as they did last August when mere citizens had the nerve to appear and call out their representatives for supporting a fiscally irresponsible bill. So naturally they are trying to clamp down on spontaneous outbursts: “In districts and states where the overhaul was most controversial, town-hall meetings have been replaced with tightly controlled business round-tables and other gatherings with voters.” I bet.

The telltale sign of ObamaCare’s political toxicity: Republicans seem eager to discuss it while Democrats hunker down:

Republicans dismiss the notion that voters opposed to the new law can be sold on it. They equate the overhaul to a “government takeover” of health care and blame it on one-party arrogance. The theme is central to House Republicans’ plan to cast the GOP as the party that will listen to what voters want, not pass bills the people oppose. . “They’re just hunkering down and hoping it blows over, that people will move on to a new subject. But I don’t know if it’s working,” said Republican David Schweikert of Scottsdale, Ariz., who unsuccessfully ran against [Rep. Harry] Mitchell in 2008 and seeks a rematch.

The 2010 election — much as the Democrats would like it to be about  Sarah Palin or George W. Bush — will be a referendum on the Democratic majority and on Obama himself — especially their record on unemployment and the deficit and their prized health-care bill. No wonder they want to change the topic.

Since the passage of Obamacare we’ve observed a decided lack of enthusiasm for the “historic bill.” The polls show that a substantial majority still oppose it. Democrats running for office are reticent to mention it and to appear with the president. And vulnerable freshmen are more vulnerable than ever. The AP reports:

Tough votes for Obama’s health care plan have further complicated the re-election prospects of dozens of already vulnerable freshman and second-term Democrats. There’s even a chance the party could lose control of one or both houses in the midterm elections.

Lawmakers are weary of facing uncontrolled gatherings as they did last August when mere citizens had the nerve to appear and call out their representatives for supporting a fiscally irresponsible bill. So naturally they are trying to clamp down on spontaneous outbursts: “In districts and states where the overhaul was most controversial, town-hall meetings have been replaced with tightly controlled business round-tables and other gatherings with voters.” I bet.

The telltale sign of ObamaCare’s political toxicity: Republicans seem eager to discuss it while Democrats hunker down:

Republicans dismiss the notion that voters opposed to the new law can be sold on it. They equate the overhaul to a “government takeover” of health care and blame it on one-party arrogance. The theme is central to House Republicans’ plan to cast the GOP as the party that will listen to what voters want, not pass bills the people oppose. . “They’re just hunkering down and hoping it blows over, that people will move on to a new subject. But I don’t know if it’s working,” said Republican David Schweikert of Scottsdale, Ariz., who unsuccessfully ran against [Rep. Harry] Mitchell in 2008 and seeks a rematch.

The 2010 election — much as the Democrats would like it to be about  Sarah Palin or George W. Bush — will be a referendum on the Democratic majority and on Obama himself — especially their record on unemployment and the deficit and their prized health-care bill. No wonder they want to change the topic.

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Petraeus, Israel, and Facts Not in Evidence

Andy McCarthy is a great prosecutor — and a great writer on subjects related to the legal treatment of terrorists. But I fear he is misguided in his critique of American counterinsurgency strategy, which has been so effective in Iraq and can be effective again in Afghanistan, and in his larger contempt for what he calls (with mocking capitalizations) the “Islamic Democracy Project.”

Personally I side with President Bush, who realized that we had no choice but to shake up the sclerotic Middle East in our own interest. I have been greatly encouraged to see how nascent democracy has begun to take hold in Iraq and, to a lesser extent, in Afghanistan; I see very little evidence that, as McCarthy has it, “we are building sharia states hostile to American interests.”

But rather than debate our broader Middle East policy with McCarthy, I want to offer a short comment on his attempt to attack General David Petraeus for the canard — which I thought I and others had already shot down — that the general is somehow anti-Israel. In National Review, McCarthy writes in high dudgeon about a “surpassingly foolish statement in which Gen. David Petraeus cast Israel as the source of all America’s woes in the Middle East.”

His basis for this claim is an already discredited blog item by terrorist groupie Mark Perry. But McCarthy claims not to be convinced by Petraeus’s statements that he didn’t say what Perry claims he said. He insists that I am spinning away Petraeus’s true views, which are exposed on page 12 of the Central Command “posture statement” submitted to Congress. That statement lists 11 “cross-cutting challenges to security and stability,” including “insufficient progress toward a comprehensive Middle East peace.”

There is one whole paragraph on Israel in this 56-page report, and here is what it has to say in its entirety:

The enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests in the AOR. Israeli-Palestinian tensions often flare into violence and large-scale armed confrontations. The conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the AOR and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilize support. The conflict also gives Iran influence in the Arab world through its clients, Lebanese Hizballah and Hamas.

That’s it. Even if you discount everything that Petraeus has publicly said on the topic, and you look simply at the text of this statement, I am puzzled to see how McCarthy can infer that Petraeus “cast Israel as the source of all America’s woes in the Middle East.” The statement does not blame Israel for the lack of progress on peace negotiations, much less for “all America’s woes” in the region. It simply doesn’t. Suggesting it does is to assume — as the lawyers like to say — “facts not in evidence.”

Andy McCarthy is a great prosecutor — and a great writer on subjects related to the legal treatment of terrorists. But I fear he is misguided in his critique of American counterinsurgency strategy, which has been so effective in Iraq and can be effective again in Afghanistan, and in his larger contempt for what he calls (with mocking capitalizations) the “Islamic Democracy Project.”

Personally I side with President Bush, who realized that we had no choice but to shake up the sclerotic Middle East in our own interest. I have been greatly encouraged to see how nascent democracy has begun to take hold in Iraq and, to a lesser extent, in Afghanistan; I see very little evidence that, as McCarthy has it, “we are building sharia states hostile to American interests.”

But rather than debate our broader Middle East policy with McCarthy, I want to offer a short comment on his attempt to attack General David Petraeus for the canard — which I thought I and others had already shot down — that the general is somehow anti-Israel. In National Review, McCarthy writes in high dudgeon about a “surpassingly foolish statement in which Gen. David Petraeus cast Israel as the source of all America’s woes in the Middle East.”

His basis for this claim is an already discredited blog item by terrorist groupie Mark Perry. But McCarthy claims not to be convinced by Petraeus’s statements that he didn’t say what Perry claims he said. He insists that I am spinning away Petraeus’s true views, which are exposed on page 12 of the Central Command “posture statement” submitted to Congress. That statement lists 11 “cross-cutting challenges to security and stability,” including “insufficient progress toward a comprehensive Middle East peace.”

There is one whole paragraph on Israel in this 56-page report, and here is what it has to say in its entirety:

The enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests in the AOR. Israeli-Palestinian tensions often flare into violence and large-scale armed confrontations. The conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the AOR and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilize support. The conflict also gives Iran influence in the Arab world through its clients, Lebanese Hizballah and Hamas.

That’s it. Even if you discount everything that Petraeus has publicly said on the topic, and you look simply at the text of this statement, I am puzzled to see how McCarthy can infer that Petraeus “cast Israel as the source of all America’s woes in the Middle East.” The statement does not blame Israel for the lack of progress on peace negotiations, much less for “all America’s woes” in the region. It simply doesn’t. Suggesting it does is to assume — as the lawyers like to say — “facts not in evidence.”

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Obama’s Nuclear Sideshow

So Presidents Obama and Medvedev have signed a new nuclear-arms reduction accord. Big deal. The actual cuts called for under the treaty are modest because of accounting tricks that allow a B-52 bomber, which can carry 20 nuclear warheads, to be counted as one “weapon.” The treaty doesn’t affect at all the thousands of tactical nuclear warheads or strategic warheads in storage.

During the Cold War this no doubt would have been hailed as a “breakthrough” but today the treaty seems like an anachronism — a throwback to the world of rotary-dial phones, cars with tail fins, and superpower confrontations. What, one wonders, is the point?

Perhaps Obama hopes this will somehow push the “reset” button on U.S.-Russia relations. If so, I suspect he is deceiving himself; Russia is willing to sign the treaty but not sign off on truly tough sanctions on Iran. Perhaps Obama simply revels in diplomacy for its own sake. If so, this is one of the less harmful manifestations of that proclivity. And perhaps this is part of his larger project to eliminate nuclear weapons in general.

That is a superficially alluring proposition, which is simply impossible to implement in this imperfect world: How would you ever make sure that rogue regimes don’t hide nukes or build new ones in the future? The answer is you can’t, so the U.S. has no option but to keep its nuclear deterrent robust. I don’t think the recent moves by Obama, from the Nuclear Posture Review to the START treaty, jeopardize our deterrent — so I, unlike some on the Right, am not unduly alarmed by them.

I do think, however, that it would be good if he were to commit to doing more for modernizing our nuclear forces, including holding out the possibility of building new nuclear weapons in the future — something that he has rejected for the moment and that perhaps Senate Republicans can force him to reconsider as the price of START ratification. But as I have indicated before, I think all of this is basically a sideshow. The real action isn’t happening in Prague. It’s in Tehran, where the mullahs are getting ever closer to a nuclear weapon — and they won’t be convinced to give up their atomic ambitions because the U.S. is willing to cut is own arsenal. If anything, American concessions embolden Iran into thinking that we are a “weak horse” that can be defied with impunity.

So Presidents Obama and Medvedev have signed a new nuclear-arms reduction accord. Big deal. The actual cuts called for under the treaty are modest because of accounting tricks that allow a B-52 bomber, which can carry 20 nuclear warheads, to be counted as one “weapon.” The treaty doesn’t affect at all the thousands of tactical nuclear warheads or strategic warheads in storage.

During the Cold War this no doubt would have been hailed as a “breakthrough” but today the treaty seems like an anachronism — a throwback to the world of rotary-dial phones, cars with tail fins, and superpower confrontations. What, one wonders, is the point?

Perhaps Obama hopes this will somehow push the “reset” button on U.S.-Russia relations. If so, I suspect he is deceiving himself; Russia is willing to sign the treaty but not sign off on truly tough sanctions on Iran. Perhaps Obama simply revels in diplomacy for its own sake. If so, this is one of the less harmful manifestations of that proclivity. And perhaps this is part of his larger project to eliminate nuclear weapons in general.

That is a superficially alluring proposition, which is simply impossible to implement in this imperfect world: How would you ever make sure that rogue regimes don’t hide nukes or build new ones in the future? The answer is you can’t, so the U.S. has no option but to keep its nuclear deterrent robust. I don’t think the recent moves by Obama, from the Nuclear Posture Review to the START treaty, jeopardize our deterrent — so I, unlike some on the Right, am not unduly alarmed by them.

I do think, however, that it would be good if he were to commit to doing more for modernizing our nuclear forces, including holding out the possibility of building new nuclear weapons in the future — something that he has rejected for the moment and that perhaps Senate Republicans can force him to reconsider as the price of START ratification. But as I have indicated before, I think all of this is basically a sideshow. The real action isn’t happening in Prague. It’s in Tehran, where the mullahs are getting ever closer to a nuclear weapon — and they won’t be convinced to give up their atomic ambitions because the U.S. is willing to cut is own arsenal. If anything, American concessions embolden Iran into thinking that we are a “weak horse” that can be defied with impunity.

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McDonnell Untangles Himself

Bob McDonnell, who had been off to a virtually error-free start as governor of Virginia, got himself tangled up in the Civil War:

After a barrage of nationwide criticism for excluding slavery from his Confederate History Month proclamation, Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) on Wednesday conceded that it was “a major omission” and amended the document to acknowledge the state’s complicated past.  day earlier, McDonnell said he left out any reference to slavery in the original seven-paragraph proclamation because he wanted to include issues he thought were most “significant” to Virginia. He also said the document was designed to promote tourism in the state, which next year marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War.

However, Wednesday afternoon the governor issued a mea culpa for the document’s exclusion of slavery. “The proclamation issued by this Office designating April as Confederate History Month contained a major omission,” McDonnell said in a statement. “The failure to include any reference to slavery was a mistake, and for that I apologize to any fellow Virginian who has been offended or disappointed.”

To his credit, he defused the controversy within 24 hours, managing to soothe all but the perpetually and intentionally aggrieved, who remained miffed that there should be any month studying the state’s Confederate past. The contrast between McDonnell’s quick-extraction-from-the-quicksand-of-racial-politics and Obama’s Gatesgate is instructive. McDonnell’s apology was direct, swift, and profuse. Obama never managed — at least not in public — such a confession of error and allowed the incident to fester for days.

Politicians, even smart and competent ones, still manage to ensnare themselves in the politics of race. The best they can do when it happens is to follow McDonnell’s lead — cut your losses, apologize, and move on. The racial-grievance mongers will most likely be disappointed that the incident came to an abrupt end, but for those weary of the feigned outrage that surrounds these incidents, McDonnell’s prompt mea culpa comes as a relief.

Bob McDonnell, who had been off to a virtually error-free start as governor of Virginia, got himself tangled up in the Civil War:

After a barrage of nationwide criticism for excluding slavery from his Confederate History Month proclamation, Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) on Wednesday conceded that it was “a major omission” and amended the document to acknowledge the state’s complicated past.  day earlier, McDonnell said he left out any reference to slavery in the original seven-paragraph proclamation because he wanted to include issues he thought were most “significant” to Virginia. He also said the document was designed to promote tourism in the state, which next year marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War.

However, Wednesday afternoon the governor issued a mea culpa for the document’s exclusion of slavery. “The proclamation issued by this Office designating April as Confederate History Month contained a major omission,” McDonnell said in a statement. “The failure to include any reference to slavery was a mistake, and for that I apologize to any fellow Virginian who has been offended or disappointed.”

To his credit, he defused the controversy within 24 hours, managing to soothe all but the perpetually and intentionally aggrieved, who remained miffed that there should be any month studying the state’s Confederate past. The contrast between McDonnell’s quick-extraction-from-the-quicksand-of-racial-politics and Obama’s Gatesgate is instructive. McDonnell’s apology was direct, swift, and profuse. Obama never managed — at least not in public — such a confession of error and allowed the incident to fester for days.

Politicians, even smart and competent ones, still manage to ensnare themselves in the politics of race. The best they can do when it happens is to follow McDonnell’s lead — cut your losses, apologize, and move on. The racial-grievance mongers will most likely be disappointed that the incident came to an abrupt end, but for those weary of the feigned outrage that surrounds these incidents, McDonnell’s prompt mea culpa comes as a relief.

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How Do You Impose Peace?

This report explains the latest Palestinian celebration of terrorism:

The future Palestinian Authority presidential compound will be built along a street named for an infamous Hamas arch-terrorist, Channel 10 reported on Wednesday.

The Ramallah street was named for notorious Hamas suicide bomb mastermind Yihyeh Ayyash, also known as the “engineer,” who was the architect of multiple attacks, including a 1994 bombing of a Tel Aviv bus, which killed 20 people, and injured dozens.

Ayyash was killed in 1996 in what was most likely an Israeli assassination, after his cell phone exploded in his Beit Lahia home, in the Gaza Strip.

Last time, the Palestinians pulled this – naming a square in Ramallah for terrorist Dalal al-Mughrabi, who killed 38 Israelis — Hillary Clinton tried to pass it off as the doing of Hamas, despite ample evidence that the PA joined in the festivities. It’s going to be even harder for the Obami to make excuses for the PA this time:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement in response to the naming, saying it was an “outrageous glorification of terrorism by the Palestinian Authority.”

“Right next to a Presidential compound in Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority has named a street after a terrorist who murdered hundreds of innocent Israeli men, women and children,” the statement said, adding that “the world must forcefully condemn this official Palestinian incitement for terrorism and against peace.”

So does the Obama team manage to get out a simple declaratory sentence this time — “We condemn this behavior,” for example? But more important, given this is the behavior and mentality of the PA — the supposedly reasonable Palestinian party to negotiations — how do the Obami intend to impose a peace deal? If one party is still caught in the grip of the cult of death, what reason is there to suppose that it is prepared to sign and then live up to an agreement by which they disarm and renounce terrorism?

At the AIPAC conference, Tony Blair laid out the challenge:

Until the year 2000, and with the heroic attempts of President Clinton, we attempted to achieve an agreement first and then shape reality around it. But it was not to be. After that came the Intifada. Thousands died. Then came the withdrawal from Gaza. Israel got out. It took 7000 settlers with it. In Israeli eyes, it received violence and terror in return.

The occupation deepened. Gaza was isolated. Faith in peace collapsed.

Ten years on, that faith has to be restored.

It can’t be done in a summit.

It has to be done patiently, and over time on the ground.

It can’t only be negotiated top-down.

It has also to be built bottom up.

Peace now will not come simply through an agreement negotiated; it must come through a reality created and sustained.

It means building institutions of Palestinian Government: not just well equipped, loyal security forces, but civil police, courts, prisons, prosecutors, the whole infrastructure of the rule of law.

It means treating those who commit acts of terror not only as enemies of Israel but enemies of Palestine.

Obviously, we are not remotely at that juncture – a point utterly lost or ignored by the Obami. So they imagine a pristine paper agreement will create peace — a  notion so divorced from experience and so blind to the realities occurring daily that one is tempted to conclude, “They can’t be serious!”  Blair got it when he declared: “The mentality has to move from resistance to governance. There can be no ambiguity, no wavering, no half heart towards terrorism. It is totally and completely without justification and we will never compromise in our opposition to it or those that practice it.” The Obami don’t.

It therefore follows that the Obami’s indifference to that fundamental requirement for peace disqualifies them as competent interlocutors. They are neither “honest” nor “brokering” — they have become henchmen for the Palestinians who await deliverance of the Jewish state — or what remains of it — without need to root out and renounce violence, without cultivation of the Palestinian institutions that can sustain peace. Israel and its supporters should be clear: there is no role for this administration in any peace process — they are, in fact merely, establishing incentives for violence and Palestinian rejectionism.

This report explains the latest Palestinian celebration of terrorism:

The future Palestinian Authority presidential compound will be built along a street named for an infamous Hamas arch-terrorist, Channel 10 reported on Wednesday.

The Ramallah street was named for notorious Hamas suicide bomb mastermind Yihyeh Ayyash, also known as the “engineer,” who was the architect of multiple attacks, including a 1994 bombing of a Tel Aviv bus, which killed 20 people, and injured dozens.

Ayyash was killed in 1996 in what was most likely an Israeli assassination, after his cell phone exploded in his Beit Lahia home, in the Gaza Strip.

Last time, the Palestinians pulled this – naming a square in Ramallah for terrorist Dalal al-Mughrabi, who killed 38 Israelis — Hillary Clinton tried to pass it off as the doing of Hamas, despite ample evidence that the PA joined in the festivities. It’s going to be even harder for the Obami to make excuses for the PA this time:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement in response to the naming, saying it was an “outrageous glorification of terrorism by the Palestinian Authority.”

“Right next to a Presidential compound in Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority has named a street after a terrorist who murdered hundreds of innocent Israeli men, women and children,” the statement said, adding that “the world must forcefully condemn this official Palestinian incitement for terrorism and against peace.”

So does the Obama team manage to get out a simple declaratory sentence this time — “We condemn this behavior,” for example? But more important, given this is the behavior and mentality of the PA — the supposedly reasonable Palestinian party to negotiations — how do the Obami intend to impose a peace deal? If one party is still caught in the grip of the cult of death, what reason is there to suppose that it is prepared to sign and then live up to an agreement by which they disarm and renounce terrorism?

At the AIPAC conference, Tony Blair laid out the challenge:

Until the year 2000, and with the heroic attempts of President Clinton, we attempted to achieve an agreement first and then shape reality around it. But it was not to be. After that came the Intifada. Thousands died. Then came the withdrawal from Gaza. Israel got out. It took 7000 settlers with it. In Israeli eyes, it received violence and terror in return.

The occupation deepened. Gaza was isolated. Faith in peace collapsed.

Ten years on, that faith has to be restored.

It can’t be done in a summit.

It has to be done patiently, and over time on the ground.

It can’t only be negotiated top-down.

It has also to be built bottom up.

Peace now will not come simply through an agreement negotiated; it must come through a reality created and sustained.

It means building institutions of Palestinian Government: not just well equipped, loyal security forces, but civil police, courts, prisons, prosecutors, the whole infrastructure of the rule of law.

It means treating those who commit acts of terror not only as enemies of Israel but enemies of Palestine.

Obviously, we are not remotely at that juncture – a point utterly lost or ignored by the Obami. So they imagine a pristine paper agreement will create peace — a  notion so divorced from experience and so blind to the realities occurring daily that one is tempted to conclude, “They can’t be serious!”  Blair got it when he declared: “The mentality has to move from resistance to governance. There can be no ambiguity, no wavering, no half heart towards terrorism. It is totally and completely without justification and we will never compromise in our opposition to it or those that practice it.” The Obami don’t.

It therefore follows that the Obami’s indifference to that fundamental requirement for peace disqualifies them as competent interlocutors. They are neither “honest” nor “brokering” — they have become henchmen for the Palestinians who await deliverance of the Jewish state — or what remains of it — without need to root out and renounce violence, without cultivation of the Palestinian institutions that can sustain peace. Israel and its supporters should be clear: there is no role for this administration in any peace process — they are, in fact merely, establishing incentives for violence and Palestinian rejectionism.

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Obama’s Nuclear Nonproliferation Fantasy

There is something weirdly out of whack, almost otherworldly, about Obama’s approach to nuclear proliferation. As the Wall Street Journal editors point out:

If diplomatic activity equalled disarmament results, President Obama would soon be delivering a nuclear-free world.

On Tuesday, his Administration released its Nuclear Posture Review, setting new limits on the potential U.S. use of nuclear weapons. Today, the President is in Prague to sign an arms-control treaty with Russia, called New Start, which will reduce the U.S. arsenal by 30%. Next week, he’ll host a 47-nation summit on nuclear security in Washington. And next month it’s on to the U.N. conference on the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, or NPT.

But, of course, all of this is happening at the very moment when Obama’s own Iran policy has run aground, and the mullahs are edging closer toward acquiring their own nuclear weapons, which will render the NPT obsolete and, indeed, ludicrous. We’ve seen that the NPT has done nothing to deter North Korea or Iran, nor to slow down Syria. (The Israeli air force did the latter.) Yet Obama persists in a Leftist Cold War paradigm — that the weapons, themselves, not the despotic regimes that might use them, are the real threat. And he seems to earnestly believe that we’ll set an example — the inherent rightness of which will melt the hearts of the those who seek nuclear weapons as a means of solidifying their domestic rule and achieving international respect.

Obama’s speech in Prague last year was upstaged by a North Korean missile blast — the perfect metaphor for his foolishness. He talks; the despots shoot rockets. He signs agreements with other democracies; the rogue states build reactors. If you don’t feel safer you are not alone.

There is something weirdly out of whack, almost otherworldly, about Obama’s approach to nuclear proliferation. As the Wall Street Journal editors point out:

If diplomatic activity equalled disarmament results, President Obama would soon be delivering a nuclear-free world.

On Tuesday, his Administration released its Nuclear Posture Review, setting new limits on the potential U.S. use of nuclear weapons. Today, the President is in Prague to sign an arms-control treaty with Russia, called New Start, which will reduce the U.S. arsenal by 30%. Next week, he’ll host a 47-nation summit on nuclear security in Washington. And next month it’s on to the U.N. conference on the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, or NPT.

But, of course, all of this is happening at the very moment when Obama’s own Iran policy has run aground, and the mullahs are edging closer toward acquiring their own nuclear weapons, which will render the NPT obsolete and, indeed, ludicrous. We’ve seen that the NPT has done nothing to deter North Korea or Iran, nor to slow down Syria. (The Israeli air force did the latter.) Yet Obama persists in a Leftist Cold War paradigm — that the weapons, themselves, not the despotic regimes that might use them, are the real threat. And he seems to earnestly believe that we’ll set an example — the inherent rightness of which will melt the hearts of the those who seek nuclear weapons as a means of solidifying their domestic rule and achieving international respect.

Obama’s speech in Prague last year was upstaged by a North Korean missile blast — the perfect metaphor for his foolishness. He talks; the despots shoot rockets. He signs agreements with other democracies; the rogue states build reactors. If you don’t feel safer you are not alone.

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RE: Obama Strikes Out

Pete, Obama certainly has been butting into nearly every major sporting event since he’s been president. Last summer, we had to “listen to him blathering on with the moron twins, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver” during the all-star game. He insisted on dragging health-care reform into the Super Bowl. And, as you and others have pointed out, it doesn’t appear that he’s really all that devoted to some of the sports in which he has feigned interest.

It is pure ego, one suspects, that keeps him forever on the air. And yet it has, by all accounts, not helped him communicate effectively with the public. He has not persuaded the public of the merits of his key initiatives, and they simply don’t buy his arguments on health care. Despite all the face time, there’s no real benefit, other than the self-satisfaction he seems to derive from showing up and yucking it up with sportscasters who wouldn’t dream of asking him a tough policy question. To the contrary, he’s lost, perhaps faster than most presidents, the aura of the office, which is frittered away when the president is overexposed and, frankly, becomes a bore.

In contrast, one can’t help but remember perhaps the greatest presidential baseball moment in history– the narration (beginning at 5:13) by Fred Thompson is unforgettable. Now that’s a presidential appearance.

Pete, Obama certainly has been butting into nearly every major sporting event since he’s been president. Last summer, we had to “listen to him blathering on with the moron twins, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver” during the all-star game. He insisted on dragging health-care reform into the Super Bowl. And, as you and others have pointed out, it doesn’t appear that he’s really all that devoted to some of the sports in which he has feigned interest.

It is pure ego, one suspects, that keeps him forever on the air. And yet it has, by all accounts, not helped him communicate effectively with the public. He has not persuaded the public of the merits of his key initiatives, and they simply don’t buy his arguments on health care. Despite all the face time, there’s no real benefit, other than the self-satisfaction he seems to derive from showing up and yucking it up with sportscasters who wouldn’t dream of asking him a tough policy question. To the contrary, he’s lost, perhaps faster than most presidents, the aura of the office, which is frittered away when the president is overexposed and, frankly, becomes a bore.

In contrast, one can’t help but remember perhaps the greatest presidential baseball moment in history– the narration (beginning at 5:13) by Fred Thompson is unforgettable. Now that’s a presidential appearance.

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RE: No Condemnation Forthcoming

Well, we called that one. The State Department did not “condemn” the brutality of the Egyptian police or the detention of demonstrators (who were subsequently released). As this report explains, all that came was a gentle prod, an ever-so-diplomatic nudge, from Foggy Bottom:

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the United States was “deeply concerned” about the arrests and called on the Egyptian government to uphold the rights of its people “to express their political views peacefully.”

“The people of Egypt should be able to participate in the political process and ultimately determine who will run and win Egypt’s upcoming elections,” Crowley told reporters Wednesday.

Even Human Rights Watch, which usually reserves its fire for Israel, did considerably better than that:

At the demonstration, which called for an end to Egypt’s restrictive “emergency laws,” Human Rights Watch staff witnessed security officials beating and arresting the protesters, including two women. The state of emergency, which allows the authorities to restrict basic rights, has been continuously in effect for 29 years.

“The Egyptian authorities respond with lawless brutality to protesters peacefully demanding restoration of their human rights,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Let today’s beating and arrests of demonstrators remind countries that finance and arm the Egyptian government what their ally is really all about.” …

During the review of Egypt’s record by the UN Human Rights Council in February, Egypt once again promised to end the state of emergency, a commitment first made by President Mubarak in 2005. … “Egypt keeps promising to end the emergency law, but year after year, it’s one broken promise after another,” Whitson said.

The contrast between the namby-pamby response to Egyptian human rights abuses and the conniption displayed when a midlevel Israeli bureaucrat stamped a housing permit vividly encapsulates the Obama Middle East approach. Kid gloves and averted eyes for the Muslims; bullying for the Jewish state. It’s “change” certainly.

Well, we called that one. The State Department did not “condemn” the brutality of the Egyptian police or the detention of demonstrators (who were subsequently released). As this report explains, all that came was a gentle prod, an ever-so-diplomatic nudge, from Foggy Bottom:

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the United States was “deeply concerned” about the arrests and called on the Egyptian government to uphold the rights of its people “to express their political views peacefully.”

“The people of Egypt should be able to participate in the political process and ultimately determine who will run and win Egypt’s upcoming elections,” Crowley told reporters Wednesday.

Even Human Rights Watch, which usually reserves its fire for Israel, did considerably better than that:

At the demonstration, which called for an end to Egypt’s restrictive “emergency laws,” Human Rights Watch staff witnessed security officials beating and arresting the protesters, including two women. The state of emergency, which allows the authorities to restrict basic rights, has been continuously in effect for 29 years.

“The Egyptian authorities respond with lawless brutality to protesters peacefully demanding restoration of their human rights,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Let today’s beating and arrests of demonstrators remind countries that finance and arm the Egyptian government what their ally is really all about.” …

During the review of Egypt’s record by the UN Human Rights Council in February, Egypt once again promised to end the state of emergency, a commitment first made by President Mubarak in 2005. … “Egypt keeps promising to end the emergency law, but year after year, it’s one broken promise after another,” Whitson said.

The contrast between the namby-pamby response to Egyptian human rights abuses and the conniption displayed when a midlevel Israeli bureaucrat stamped a housing permit vividly encapsulates the Obama Middle East approach. Kid gloves and averted eyes for the Muslims; bullying for the Jewish state. It’s “change” certainly.

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Democrats Freak Over GOP Women — Again

Politico reports:

Two of the conservative movement’s biggest stars, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), lavished praise on each other Wednesday at a boisterous rally held at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Before a predominantly female crowd of more than 11,000 fans, the two high-profile Republicans ripped President Obama at an event that doubled as a fundraiser for Bachmann’s re-election campaign.

Alas, the fellas –  2012 presidential contender and now-Governor Tim Pawlenty and Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) — slunk into the background. Palin and Bachmann made hay out of Obama’s Nuclear Posture Review:

If, in fact, there is a nation who is compliant with all the rules ahead of time… if they fire against the United States a nuclear weapon, a biological weapon or maybe a cyber attack, we won’t be firing back with nuclear weapons,” Bachmann insisted.“Doesn’t that make us feel safe?” she asked to a laughing audience.

The Left does what it usually does when confronted with attractive conservative women: it goes bonkers. Greg Sargent tweets: “Dem talking points bashing Bachmann and Palin are really going to pay huge dividends this fall.” Huh? Let me get this straight: the Democrats in Congress are going to spend their time attacking two women with huge conservative and Tea Party followings, one of whom isn’t in office or on the ballot? Well, it makes about as much sense as running against George W. Bush, a strategy some have suggested is also in the offing.

These are not the tactics of a confident party that is secure in its record and aided by a popular president. It reeks of desperation. And just imagine if Republicans picked two women, neither of whom was in a leadership position, as the focal point of their attacks. They might be accused of having a “female” problem — by Politico, for example.

Politico reports:

Two of the conservative movement’s biggest stars, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), lavished praise on each other Wednesday at a boisterous rally held at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Before a predominantly female crowd of more than 11,000 fans, the two high-profile Republicans ripped President Obama at an event that doubled as a fundraiser for Bachmann’s re-election campaign.

Alas, the fellas –  2012 presidential contender and now-Governor Tim Pawlenty and Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) — slunk into the background. Palin and Bachmann made hay out of Obama’s Nuclear Posture Review:

If, in fact, there is a nation who is compliant with all the rules ahead of time… if they fire against the United States a nuclear weapon, a biological weapon or maybe a cyber attack, we won’t be firing back with nuclear weapons,” Bachmann insisted.“Doesn’t that make us feel safe?” she asked to a laughing audience.

The Left does what it usually does when confronted with attractive conservative women: it goes bonkers. Greg Sargent tweets: “Dem talking points bashing Bachmann and Palin are really going to pay huge dividends this fall.” Huh? Let me get this straight: the Democrats in Congress are going to spend their time attacking two women with huge conservative and Tea Party followings, one of whom isn’t in office or on the ballot? Well, it makes about as much sense as running against George W. Bush, a strategy some have suggested is also in the offing.

These are not the tactics of a confident party that is secure in its record and aided by a popular president. It reeks of desperation. And just imagine if Republicans picked two women, neither of whom was in a leadership position, as the focal point of their attacks. They might be accused of having a “female” problem — by Politico, for example.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

You don’t say: “The trademark suit sported by North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il is now in fashion worldwide thanks to his greatness, Pyongyang’s official website said Wednesday. Uriminzokkiri, quoting an article in communist party newspaper Rodong Sinmun, said the modest-looking suits have gripped people’s imagination and become a global vogue. … Kim and his deceased father Kim Il-Sung are at the heart of a personality cult that borders on religion, with near-magical powers ascribed to the younger Kim. Rainbows supposedly appeared over sacred Mount Paekdu where Kim Jong-Il was allegedly born, and he is said once to have scored 11 holes-in-one in a single round of golf.”

ObamaCare seems not to have helped: “A record-low percentage of U.S. voters — 28% — say most members of Congress deserve to be re-elected. The previous low was 29% in October 1992.”

It might be more satisfying for Republicans to beat him at the polls, but forced retirement would be a fitting end: “Amidst growing speculation he might retire, Rep. Bart Stupak’s (D-Mich.) office declined to rule it out on Wednesday.”

It might have something to do with the 14.1 percent unemployment rate: “A new poll of Michigan voters’ preferences in the governor’s race has troubling results for Democrats. The two leading Democratic candidates would lose to any of the three top Republican challengers if the election were held today. … That indicates a more energized Republican voter base, just two years after Democrat Barack Obama’s historic election as president had increased the number of voters identifying with the Democratic Party. In 2008, the number of self-described Democrats in Michigan was as much as eight percentage points above the Republican number.”

Jobs do appear to be a popular campaign theme for Republicans: “Delaware businesswoman Michele Rollins announced Wednesday she will run for the at-large House seat currently held by Republican Rep. Mike Castle, landing the GOP a credible recruit in a tough open-seat race. In an e-mail soliciting contributions from supporters, Rollins blasted Democrats for putting job creation on ‘the back burner’ and acknowledged the campaign would be ‘difficult and challenging.’”

You knew this was coming: “White House adviser Paul Volcker said the United States may need to consider raising taxes to control deficits. He also said a European-style value-added tax could gain support. The former chairman of the Federal Reserve who is an outside adviser to President Barack Obama, said the value-added tax ‘was not as toxic an idea’ as it has been in the past, according to a Reuters report.”

Marco Rubio’s star keeps rising: “Ex-FL House Speaker Marco Rubio (R) has seen a fundraising surge over the last 3 months, pulling in $3.6M in what was once an insurgent bid against an insurmountable foe. Rubio’s jaw-dropping figure likely puts him atop, or near the top, of the list of most successful candidates over the first quarter.”

The Orthodox Union writes to Bibi, praising his defense of a unified Jerusalem: “Mr. Prime Minister, we cannot state strongly enough our belief that the Government and people of the State of Israel hold Yerushalayim in trust for the Jewish People no matter where they may live, for we all have a share in the holy city. We applaud your faithfulness to this trust, which realizes the ancient Jewish dream of ascending the foothills of Jerusalem, and keeps alive the hopes of millions of Jews who, for centuries, could not set foot in Jerusalem, yet raised their voices at the end of innumerable Pesach sedarim gone by to say, as we all did last week, with full conviction and deep longing la-shana ha-ba’a bi-Yerushalayim.”

You don’t say: “The trademark suit sported by North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il is now in fashion worldwide thanks to his greatness, Pyongyang’s official website said Wednesday. Uriminzokkiri, quoting an article in communist party newspaper Rodong Sinmun, said the modest-looking suits have gripped people’s imagination and become a global vogue. … Kim and his deceased father Kim Il-Sung are at the heart of a personality cult that borders on religion, with near-magical powers ascribed to the younger Kim. Rainbows supposedly appeared over sacred Mount Paekdu where Kim Jong-Il was allegedly born, and he is said once to have scored 11 holes-in-one in a single round of golf.”

ObamaCare seems not to have helped: “A record-low percentage of U.S. voters — 28% — say most members of Congress deserve to be re-elected. The previous low was 29% in October 1992.”

It might be more satisfying for Republicans to beat him at the polls, but forced retirement would be a fitting end: “Amidst growing speculation he might retire, Rep. Bart Stupak’s (D-Mich.) office declined to rule it out on Wednesday.”

It might have something to do with the 14.1 percent unemployment rate: “A new poll of Michigan voters’ preferences in the governor’s race has troubling results for Democrats. The two leading Democratic candidates would lose to any of the three top Republican challengers if the election were held today. … That indicates a more energized Republican voter base, just two years after Democrat Barack Obama’s historic election as president had increased the number of voters identifying with the Democratic Party. In 2008, the number of self-described Democrats in Michigan was as much as eight percentage points above the Republican number.”

Jobs do appear to be a popular campaign theme for Republicans: “Delaware businesswoman Michele Rollins announced Wednesday she will run for the at-large House seat currently held by Republican Rep. Mike Castle, landing the GOP a credible recruit in a tough open-seat race. In an e-mail soliciting contributions from supporters, Rollins blasted Democrats for putting job creation on ‘the back burner’ and acknowledged the campaign would be ‘difficult and challenging.’”

You knew this was coming: “White House adviser Paul Volcker said the United States may need to consider raising taxes to control deficits. He also said a European-style value-added tax could gain support. The former chairman of the Federal Reserve who is an outside adviser to President Barack Obama, said the value-added tax ‘was not as toxic an idea’ as it has been in the past, according to a Reuters report.”

Marco Rubio’s star keeps rising: “Ex-FL House Speaker Marco Rubio (R) has seen a fundraising surge over the last 3 months, pulling in $3.6M in what was once an insurgent bid against an insurmountable foe. Rubio’s jaw-dropping figure likely puts him atop, or near the top, of the list of most successful candidates over the first quarter.”

The Orthodox Union writes to Bibi, praising his defense of a unified Jerusalem: “Mr. Prime Minister, we cannot state strongly enough our belief that the Government and people of the State of Israel hold Yerushalayim in trust for the Jewish People no matter where they may live, for we all have a share in the holy city. We applaud your faithfulness to this trust, which realizes the ancient Jewish dream of ascending the foothills of Jerusalem, and keeps alive the hopes of millions of Jews who, for centuries, could not set foot in Jerusalem, yet raised their voices at the end of innumerable Pesach sedarim gone by to say, as we all did last week, with full conviction and deep longing la-shana ha-ba’a bi-Yerushalayim.”

Read Less




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