Commentary Magazine


Posts For: September 27, 2012

AP, Reuters Reportedly Post Bibi “Heil” Photos

The Weekly Standard’s Daniel Halper flags two photos of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu at the UN, which were reportedly pushed out on the AP and Reuters wires. They show Netanyahu waving his hand, but the camera caught him mid-hand gesture, making it appear that he’s doing the Nazi salute (except with his left arm). Halper writes:

Two shocking photos coming off the wire of Benjamin Netanyahu addressing the United Nations moments ago.

Of the hundreds of professional photos taken at this speech, the AP and Reuters decided to push these onto the wire.

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The Weekly Standard’s Daniel Halper flags two photos of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu at the UN, which were reportedly pushed out on the AP and Reuters wires. They show Netanyahu waving his hand, but the camera caught him mid-hand gesture, making it appear that he’s doing the Nazi salute (except with his left arm). Halper writes:

Two shocking photos coming off the wire of Benjamin Netanyahu addressing the United Nations moments ago.

Of the hundreds of professional photos taken at this speech, the AP and Reuters decided to push these onto the wire.

Maybe the Associated Press and Reuters didn’t catch the inference of the photos before blasting them out, though you would think it would be obvious that these pictures are offensive on multiple levels.

Netanyahu’s persistence on Iran isn’t making things easy for Obama right before the election, so there’s sure to be a big media push in the coming days to dismiss Bibi as a warmonger, a reckless saber-rattler, an extremist and so on. Get ready for plenty more where this came from.

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The Iranian Red Line (in One Chart)

At the United Nations this afternoon, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu sought to clarify an issue that has confounded President Obama for months — where to place “red lines” on Iran’s nuclear program — by using one simple, easy-to-read chart:

As you can see, that is a drawing of a bomb. It is divided into three stages. Iran has completed the first stage (amassing enough 70 percent-enriched uranium for a bomb), and, according to Netanyahu, can complete the second stage (amassing enough 90 percent-enriched uranium) as soon as next summer. The key here — and this is important — is to stop Iran before it enters the final stage, i.e. the completion of the bomb. Let’s hope the White House was paying attention.

Of course, the bomb drawing got its share of criticism on Twitter, as BuzzFeed reports:

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At the United Nations this afternoon, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu sought to clarify an issue that has confounded President Obama for months — where to place “red lines” on Iran’s nuclear program — by using one simple, easy-to-read chart:

As you can see, that is a drawing of a bomb. It is divided into three stages. Iran has completed the first stage (amassing enough 70 percent-enriched uranium for a bomb), and, according to Netanyahu, can complete the second stage (amassing enough 90 percent-enriched uranium) as soon as next summer. The key here — and this is important — is to stop Iran before it enters the final stage, i.e. the completion of the bomb. Let’s hope the White House was paying attention.

Of course, the bomb drawing got its share of criticism on Twitter, as BuzzFeed reports:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu punctuated his attempt to rally the international community against Iran’s nuclear program with a crude illustration of a bomb in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York today — a move that drew him an immediate wave of mockery, but also reflected an astute grasp of the changing media climate.

The chart wasn’t unserious, it was simple. And it’s precisely what the public needs to see at this point. The White House has been able to drag their feet on the debate, in part, because they’ve portrayed it as murky and complicated. It isn’t. There will be debates, if and when the time comes, over whether Iran has actually reached the red line, and whether the intelligence is accurate or complete. But there’s no question that a clear and firm line needs to be drawn.

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John Podhoretz, Jonah Goldberg and Rob Long….

still need to name their podcast. Our John Podhoretz, Jonah Goldberg of National Review, and Rob Long of Ricochet have another installment of their monthly podcast for your enjoyment today and they’re discussing an incredible array of topics: the malaise over the polls, why this campaign cycle isn’t nastier (and therefore more entertaining), the trouble with the undecideds, the fact that Google is now a moody teenager, Apple’s map fiasco, the new movie The Master, and much, much more.

Carve out some time (it’s a super-sized edition), get comfortable and enjoy. You can listen below or directly on Ricochet’s website here.

still need to name their podcast. Our John Podhoretz, Jonah Goldberg of National Review, and Rob Long of Ricochet have another installment of their monthly podcast for your enjoyment today and they’re discussing an incredible array of topics: the malaise over the polls, why this campaign cycle isn’t nastier (and therefore more entertaining), the trouble with the undecideds, the fact that Google is now a moody teenager, Apple’s map fiasco, the new movie The Master, and much, much more.

Carve out some time (it’s a super-sized edition), get comfortable and enjoy. You can listen below or directly on Ricochet’s website here.

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How Irrelevant Are the Palestinians? Very.

The key phrase in Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly today didn’t mention Israel. He had promised Jewish leaders he would recognize Jewish rights to the land that is disputed by Israelis and Palestinians. He moved a little closer to such recognition with his mention of the ties of the three monotheistic religions to the country and did say he didn’t want to delegitimize Israel–though much of his speech was clearly aiming at just such a goal. But the most important sentence was the one where he complained about the Palestinians being moved “to the bottom of the global agenda.” He then went on to claim that the PA alone was the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinians and that there could not be two such bodies.

It was those sentences, in which he vainly banged his head against the wall of world indifference to his cause, that were telling. The fact is the Palestinians are at the bottom of the world agenda. That’s because, contrary to his boast, the PA is a corrupt, ineffective state which doesn’t control all of the territory it claims since Gaza is ruled by Hamas. Thus, while much of the world applauds Abbas’s imprecation of Israel as a racist, colonialist state and his outright lies about the fomenting of hatred that his government promotes, they have no interest in supporting him. It was for that reason that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu gave Abbas’s speech barely a mention as he went on to concentrate on his country’s real problem: a nuclear Iran.

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The key phrase in Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly today didn’t mention Israel. He had promised Jewish leaders he would recognize Jewish rights to the land that is disputed by Israelis and Palestinians. He moved a little closer to such recognition with his mention of the ties of the three monotheistic religions to the country and did say he didn’t want to delegitimize Israel–though much of his speech was clearly aiming at just such a goal. But the most important sentence was the one where he complained about the Palestinians being moved “to the bottom of the global agenda.” He then went on to claim that the PA alone was the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinians and that there could not be two such bodies.

It was those sentences, in which he vainly banged his head against the wall of world indifference to his cause, that were telling. The fact is the Palestinians are at the bottom of the world agenda. That’s because, contrary to his boast, the PA is a corrupt, ineffective state which doesn’t control all of the territory it claims since Gaza is ruled by Hamas. Thus, while much of the world applauds Abbas’s imprecation of Israel as a racist, colonialist state and his outright lies about the fomenting of hatred that his government promotes, they have no interest in supporting him. It was for that reason that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu gave Abbas’s speech barely a mention as he went on to concentrate on his country’s real problem: a nuclear Iran.

Abbas’s unhappy acknowledgement of the world’s opinion of the PA summed up exactly why the “diplomatic tsunami” that was supposed to engulf Israel last fall never happened. The global community may not like Israel and is not enraged by the anti-Semitic incitement that the Palestinians routinely produce. But they know that Abbas can’t make peace with Israel and won’t negotiate with it to create a state that will, as Netanyahu said, recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state. They also know the PA is incapable of governing such a state and that Abbas, in the eighth year of his current four-year term as president, fears that Hamas will supplant him if given the chance.

The Palestinian issue is one that the world cares about. But it doesn’t care about the PA. That is why they are on the bottom of the global agenda and will stay there so long as they produce leaders such as Abbas.

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Will the World Heed Netanyahu’s Warning?

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations today centered on trying to convince the world that a red line needs to be drawn to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. To do that he literally drew a red line on a cartoon picture of a bomb. To the chattering classes following the speech on Twitter, this was a joke. But the reaction to the simplistic bomb diagram illustrated Netanyahu’s problem perfectly. Iran is getting closer every day to achieving its nuclear ambition. In response, world leaders, like President Obama, talk about the need to stop Tehran and even pledge not to contemplate containment of a nuclear Iran. But unless they make it as clear as that red marker line on the diagram, they will fail.

That is the key issue. Netanyahu thanked President Obama for his promises on Iran, but pointed out that without a red line that will make it clear that Iran will not be allowed to accumulate enough uranium to build a bomb, such pledges are meaningless. The Israeli’s frustration stems from the fact that an international consensus about an Iranian bomb being a bad thing won’t stop it from happening. The complacent attitude that always thinks failed diplomacy and ineffective sanctions can be given more time is a guarantee of such failure.

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Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations today centered on trying to convince the world that a red line needs to be drawn to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. To do that he literally drew a red line on a cartoon picture of a bomb. To the chattering classes following the speech on Twitter, this was a joke. But the reaction to the simplistic bomb diagram illustrated Netanyahu’s problem perfectly. Iran is getting closer every day to achieving its nuclear ambition. In response, world leaders, like President Obama, talk about the need to stop Tehran and even pledge not to contemplate containment of a nuclear Iran. But unless they make it as clear as that red marker line on the diagram, they will fail.

That is the key issue. Netanyahu thanked President Obama for his promises on Iran, but pointed out that without a red line that will make it clear that Iran will not be allowed to accumulate enough uranium to build a bomb, such pledges are meaningless. The Israeli’s frustration stems from the fact that an international consensus about an Iranian bomb being a bad thing won’t stop it from happening. The complacent attitude that always thinks failed diplomacy and ineffective sanctions can be given more time is a guarantee of such failure.

Critics will claim that Netanyahu’s description of Iran’s enrichment process doesn’t tell the whole truth because they believe that the uranium accumulated so far isn’t of weapons grade material. But, as the UN’s own investigative body, the International Atomic Energy Agency has reported, the progress made in the last year makes the advances Netanyahu discussed quite realistic.

The wiseacres can laugh all they like about Netanyahu’s cartoon. But the facts that it represents cannot be dismissed with witticisms. Talk about Iran not backed up with clear warnings is exactly what the ayatollahs are counting on.

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Greatest Foreign Policy President? The Case for Harry Truman

With the presidential debates coming up and foreign policy emerging as an issue in the election, CNN’s Global Public Square blog has asked a panel of historians and writers to weigh in on the following question: “Who was the best foreign policy president?” There are not many surprises–Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush appear prominently. (Realists love Herbert Walker, and their votes for him can best be understood as a begrudging acceptance of the success of the Reagan administration he served without having to actually grit their teeth and name him.)

FDR and Reagan are fairly obvious choices, and not bad ones: Nazism and Communism are generally considered the twin evils of the 20th century, and each presided over the defeat of those ideologies. But there is someone else who deserves at least honorable mention, if not a nomination for the top spot himself. For although FDR and Reagan served decades apart, one president played a significant role in the achievements of both men, and whose foreign policy outlook eventually became the consensus: Harry Truman. This year marks the 65th anniversary of the Truman Doctrine, and it’s worth taking a stroll through his presidency and its legacy.

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With the presidential debates coming up and foreign policy emerging as an issue in the election, CNN’s Global Public Square blog has asked a panel of historians and writers to weigh in on the following question: “Who was the best foreign policy president?” There are not many surprises–Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush appear prominently. (Realists love Herbert Walker, and their votes for him can best be understood as a begrudging acceptance of the success of the Reagan administration he served without having to actually grit their teeth and name him.)

FDR and Reagan are fairly obvious choices, and not bad ones: Nazism and Communism are generally considered the twin evils of the 20th century, and each presided over the defeat of those ideologies. But there is someone else who deserves at least honorable mention, if not a nomination for the top spot himself. For although FDR and Reagan served decades apart, one president played a significant role in the achievements of both men, and whose foreign policy outlook eventually became the consensus: Harry Truman. This year marks the 65th anniversary of the Truman Doctrine, and it’s worth taking a stroll through his presidency and its legacy.

It’s true that FDR got the U.S. involved in, and then successfully prosecuted, the Second World War, and there’s no reason to diminish that accomplishment. But it’s worth noting that FDR’s dismissal of Poland at Yalta opened the door to the spreading of Soviet influence that was only stemmed by Truman first at Potsdam and then in Greece. Truman’s decision to use the atomic bomb on Japan will probably always be the most famous wartime decision of his presidency. But it was Truman’s resolve to use the bomb immediately upon hearing of its readiness while at Potsdam that stopped him from even considering giving Stalin the foothold in Turkey he wanted in return for Soviet engagement in the Pacific.

While Truman certainly is given most of the credit for the doctrine bearing his name, he is rarely considered the visionary that he was. A certain snobbishness had always greeted Truman in Washington; he was our last president not to have a college degree, and he was always viewed as something of an accidental president. (This is surely unfair to Truman, since the decision to drop Henry Wallace from the final Roosevelt presidential ticket was made with succession in mind. FDR was dying.) Additionally, Truman had the blessing and the curse of being surrounded by what was an all-star team of advisers and diplomats. Many of these men believed that Secretary of State Jimmy Byrnes should have been president. Byrnes, who fashioned himself a kind of co-president to the ailing, but still globetrotting, FDR, certainly believed this. As such, Byrnes ran State as if it were the Executive Branch. Truman quickly reasserted his authority, but the underlying conflict sent Byrnes packing soon after.

And George Kennan, author of the famous “long telegram,” is widely credited with the American policy of containment toward the Soviet Union. This credit is an egregious and outstanding overestimation of Kennan’s contribution. He correctly diagnosed the political situation in the Soviet Union and even correctly predicted how it would act, and how and why conflict would arise in the future. He was a pessimist of the highest order, but he was no saber-rattler. Had Kennan been in charge of policy the Truman Doctrine would have been much weaker, and so would have been Truman and the U.S. As Elizabeth Edwards Spalding has shown, the Truman Doctrine’s ideas were Truman’s. Reading Spalding’s account, in fact, it seems that if anyone deserves more credit than he receives, it is (and I can already hear the groans in contempt) the self-styled “wise man of Washington” Clark Clifford.

The following year brought another momentous decision when Truman immediately recognized the new state of Israel. The significance of this recognition by the world’s new democratic major power (and emerging superpower) cannot be understated. As we now know, this decision not only was Truman’s call, but it seems there were scant few who even agreed with it around the president.

It is often noted that the Korean War was unpopular. But the legacy of South Korea speaks for itself. Truman’s dismissal of General Douglas MacArthur was controversial to say the least; “The Kremlin should give you a 21-gun salute,” a woman from Texas told Truman, according to Stanley Weintraub. But Truman’s decision served to fend off the last serious challenge to civilian control of the military, which thus reasserted by Truman became a prerequisite for democratic governance.

Truman forged a friendship with Winston Churchill and permitted Churchill to speak for the Western world on the evils of Soviet Communism–something Truman was under no obligation to do, since Churchill was no longer prime minister, and something which, as I have written, Truman went out of his way to do.

He oversaw the Marshall Plan for European recovery, the gold standard of foreign aid. And he oversaw the creation of NATO–though of course Dean Acheson (another of Truman’s all-stars) would play an important role in that as well. FDR worked hard to oversee the inauguration of the United Nations, but this week’s UN General Assembly should tell you all you need to know about which multinational organization is still upholding the defense of democracy, and which is undermining it.

None of this is to suggest that Truman didn’t make mistakes, but the crucial and successful implementation of American policy from the last stages of World War II through the early stages of the Cold War were Truman’s. More than half a century later, it’s Truman’s world we’re living in.

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Obama’s Dishonest Second-Term Plan

NBC is calling Obama’s latest commercial his “closing ad,” even though there’s 40 days to go until election day. After running a brutally negative campaign for most of the summer, Obama appears to be shifting into “above the fray” mode, now that the media has taken over the job of pummeling Romney. With a few notable exceptions, Obama’s proposals in the ad sound fine. Produce more American-made energy, create one million new manufacturing jobs, and focus on cutting the deficit — no complaints here. Of course, Obama has had nearly four years to do all of these things and done none of them. Instead, he played politics by blocking the Keystone XL pipeline construction, and relegated deficit reduction and job creation to the back burner.

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NBC is calling Obama’s latest commercial his “closing ad,” even though there’s 40 days to go until election day. After running a brutally negative campaign for most of the summer, Obama appears to be shifting into “above the fray” mode, now that the media has taken over the job of pummeling Romney. With a few notable exceptions, Obama’s proposals in the ad sound fine. Produce more American-made energy, create one million new manufacturing jobs, and focus on cutting the deficit — no complaints here. Of course, Obama has had nearly four years to do all of these things and done none of them. Instead, he played politics by blocking the Keystone XL pipeline construction, and relegated deficit reduction and job creation to the back burner.

Notice there’s nothing in this ad about immigration reform. Kind of an odd omission, considering Obama’s claim at the Univision forum that his lack of progress on immigration was the “greatest failure” of his presidency.

Then there’s this line, twinned with an image of U.S. service members stepping off a plane:

As we end the war in Afghanistan, let’s apply half the savings to pay down our debt and use the rest for some nation building right here at home.

Why is the war “ending”? Certainly not because we won it. It’s ending because Obama’s preset timeline ran out, and now he can finally apply the “savings” to pay down our debt and do some nation building at home. Well, if that was what Obama felt was more important all along, why did we send a surge of troops in to risk, and in many cases lose, their lives? Why did we ask their families to make the sacrifice? The intentional dishonesty about the status in Afghanistan is infuriating.

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Libel Suit Highlights Abbas Corruption

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will address the General Assembly of the United Nations today. In doing so he will resume his disastrous campaign to get the world body to enable him to avoid peace negotiations with Israel by recognizing Palestinian independence. Though he will get more applause than Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who will follow him at the podium, he will not succeed. There are many reasons why the so-called “diplomatic tsunami” flopped last year and why the same thing will happen at this session. But high on the list is the fact that the rest of the world knows that the PA doesn’t control all the territory it claims (Gaza is ruled by Hamas), survives only by foreign charity, and is utterly corrupt and dysfunctional. That corruption again came to the notice of the American media in the days prior to Abbas’s speech. That the issue was highlighted through an initiative undertaken by Abbas’s family rather than friends of Israel is ironic but telling.

The Blog of Legal Times reported earlier this week (h/t Politico), that Abbas’s son Yasser has filed a $10 million lawsuit against Foreign Policy magazine and author and COMMENTARY contributor Jonathan Schanzer for his June 2012 article “The Brothers Abbas,” about the way that Yasser and Tarek Abbas have become wealthy in the Palestinian territories through the use of their contacts and legal monopolies awarded to them by their father’s government, as well as from foreign aid from countries like the United States. The truth of Schanzer’s assertions is self-evident because of the circumstances of the Abbas family’s hold on such lucrative deals as the monopoly on selling American cigarettes and being awarded numerous public works contracts by the PA. But given the widespread corruption that began under his father’s predecessor Yasir Arafat, the only question to be posed about the lawsuit is why the Abbas clan would bother to sue in an American court when the only thing such a proceeding could possibly do is to shine a brighter spotlight on their shady activities.

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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will address the General Assembly of the United Nations today. In doing so he will resume his disastrous campaign to get the world body to enable him to avoid peace negotiations with Israel by recognizing Palestinian independence. Though he will get more applause than Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who will follow him at the podium, he will not succeed. There are many reasons why the so-called “diplomatic tsunami” flopped last year and why the same thing will happen at this session. But high on the list is the fact that the rest of the world knows that the PA doesn’t control all the territory it claims (Gaza is ruled by Hamas), survives only by foreign charity, and is utterly corrupt and dysfunctional. That corruption again came to the notice of the American media in the days prior to Abbas’s speech. That the issue was highlighted through an initiative undertaken by Abbas’s family rather than friends of Israel is ironic but telling.

The Blog of Legal Times reported earlier this week (h/t Politico), that Abbas’s son Yasser has filed a $10 million lawsuit against Foreign Policy magazine and author and COMMENTARY contributor Jonathan Schanzer for his June 2012 article “The Brothers Abbas,” about the way that Yasser and Tarek Abbas have become wealthy in the Palestinian territories through the use of their contacts and legal monopolies awarded to them by their father’s government, as well as from foreign aid from countries like the United States. The truth of Schanzer’s assertions is self-evident because of the circumstances of the Abbas family’s hold on such lucrative deals as the monopoly on selling American cigarettes and being awarded numerous public works contracts by the PA. But given the widespread corruption that began under his father’s predecessor Yasir Arafat, the only question to be posed about the lawsuit is why the Abbas clan would bother to sue in an American court when the only thing such a proceeding could possibly do is to shine a brighter spotlight on their shady activities.

While Yasser Abbas may have a degree in civil engineering from Washington State University, the notion that firms that he is associated with have won tens of millions of dollars of contracts from his father’s government solely on the virtue of his expertise is ludicrous. The world knows that the Palestinian leadership has already stolen a large portion of the billions of dollars in aid from the European Union and the United States that have been lavished on the territories since the Oslo Accords were signed.

Some of that corruption takes the form of outright theft and bribery and the senior Abbas is believed, like his predecessor Arafat, to have socked away vast riches (perhaps as much as $100 million) in foreign back accounts. But much of it comes in the form of crony capitalism by which family members are given control of product distribution or construction businesses that live off the public purse. The idea that Schanzer has damaged Abbas’s reputation is the stuff of satire, not law.

It isn’t likely that the United States District Court where Abbas filed his suit will take it seriously. Or at least his father should hope so. Should the suit be allowed to go forward, it would give Foreign Policy and Schanzer the opportunity to dig deep into the PA’s finances and records and expose even more wrongdoing. That might even help give those fighting to make U.S. aid to the Palestinians dependent on ridding themselves of the sort of corruption that the Abbas clan and other ruling families there embody.

That’s something to remember today when you hear the senior Abbas, who is currently serving the eighth year of his four-year PA presidential term, blame all of his people’s problems on Israel.

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That FBI Investigation in Benghazi Hasn’t Even Started Yet

For over a week, the Obama administration has tried to dodge questions on the Benghazi attack by saying it’s waiting for information to come in from the FBI. But apparently the FBI still hasn’t made it to Benghazi — at least not as of last night. Instead, CNN reports that the bureau just arrived in Tripoli, and hasn’t been to the scene of the attack that happened over two weeks ago:

More than two weeks after four Americans — including the U.S. ambassador to Libya — were killed in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, FBI agents have not yet been granted access to investigate in the eastern Libyan city, and the crime scene has not been secured, sources said.

“They’ve gotten as far as Tripoli now, but they’ve never gotten to Benghazi,” CNN National Security Analyst Fran Townsend said Wednesday, citing senior law enforcement officials.

Last Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters that an FBI team had reached Libya earlier in the week.

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For over a week, the Obama administration has tried to dodge questions on the Benghazi attack by saying it’s waiting for information to come in from the FBI. But apparently the FBI still hasn’t made it to Benghazi — at least not as of last night. Instead, CNN reports that the bureau just arrived in Tripoli, and hasn’t been to the scene of the attack that happened over two weeks ago:

More than two weeks after four Americans — including the U.S. ambassador to Libya — were killed in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, FBI agents have not yet been granted access to investigate in the eastern Libyan city, and the crime scene has not been secured, sources said.

“They’ve gotten as far as Tripoli now, but they’ve never gotten to Benghazi,” CNN National Security Analyst Fran Townsend said Wednesday, citing senior law enforcement officials.

Last Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters that an FBI team had reached Libya earlier in the week.

Just as shocking, CNN reports that the State Department apparently hasn’t secured the consulate since the attack, despite requests from the FBI. That means any investigation might be meaningless at this point, since evidence could have been removed or tampered with or compromised over the past two weeks. The more that comes out about the attack, the more it sounds like the administration has been stringing along reporters and the public since day one.

Then there is the next piece of the puzzle, one which the Obama administration may not want answered until after the election. Did the U.S. embassy riots in Egypt and Yemen coincidentally erupt on the same day as the terrorist attack at our Benghazi consulate, or were they coordinated in advance? As the Weekly Standard noted recently, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri’s little brother, fresh out of prison in Egypt, has claimed credit as an organizer of the Cairo protest. The timing is certainly suspect — that anti-Islam film was available on YouTube months before the riots, and yet it didn’t become an issue until days before the attack.

Keep in mind that what we call the “Arab Spring,” the jihadists call the “Islamic awakening.” Unfortunately for al-Qaeda, there’s been no evidence that the public in Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Tunisia, etc. have embraced their twisted ideology. Hence, the need to manufacture some.

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Lugar Proves His Critics Right

Richard Mourdock’s decisive Republican primary victory over six-term Indiana Senator Richard Lugar was fretted by the D.C. foreign-policy establishment as yet another death knell for comity in Washington. But it turned out that it was Lugar, not Mourdock, who eschewed civility and grace with an angry and bitter response to the election.

Politico reports that time has not yet healed Lugar’s wounds or his ego. In his last months in the Senate, he has turned his attention to cementing his legacy abroad while Mourdock is locked in a close, and “costly,” general election fight. It’s true that Lugar has left at least one important legacy: his efforts, along with Democratic Senator Sam Nunn, to gain control of the collapsing Soviet Union’s nuclear material. But that was two decades ago, and in the foreign policy community the phrase “Nunn-Lugar” is a household term, and as such his legacy is in no need, and arguably cannot even really benefit, from his farewell tour. Instead, there is another legacy Lugar can cement in the coming months, and it isn’t a good one. From Politico:

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Richard Mourdock’s decisive Republican primary victory over six-term Indiana Senator Richard Lugar was fretted by the D.C. foreign-policy establishment as yet another death knell for comity in Washington. But it turned out that it was Lugar, not Mourdock, who eschewed civility and grace with an angry and bitter response to the election.

Politico reports that time has not yet healed Lugar’s wounds or his ego. In his last months in the Senate, he has turned his attention to cementing his legacy abroad while Mourdock is locked in a close, and “costly,” general election fight. It’s true that Lugar has left at least one important legacy: his efforts, along with Democratic Senator Sam Nunn, to gain control of the collapsing Soviet Union’s nuclear material. But that was two decades ago, and in the foreign policy community the phrase “Nunn-Lugar” is a household term, and as such his legacy is in no need, and arguably cannot even really benefit, from his farewell tour. Instead, there is another legacy Lugar can cement in the coming months, and it isn’t a good one. From Politico:

Mourdock “will achieve little as a legislator” if he pursues his goal of pushing partisanship in Washington, Lugar wrote in a 1,425-word statement. And he has insisted for months that he has no plans to campaign for Mourdock. In an interview with POLITICO, the lame-duck senator declined to say why he won’t stump for Mourdock or whether the nominee has even requested his help.

But Lugar recently told an Indiana blogger: “I’ve not been a factor in the campaign and I don’t intend to do so.”

This behavior will ensure that Indiana voters won’t regret voting Lugar out no matter how the general election turns out. Lugar’s behavior has, in fact, proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that voters’ complaints about Lugar were spot-on, and Lugar’s defenders way off the mark.

The two most common complaints about Lugar were that he has become too comfortable and embedded in D.C. culture and far removed from those he is supposed to represent, and that he no longer possesses loyalty to the Republican Party—something that may earn him bipartisan plaudits from the media and his peers in Washington, but which would certainly concern, if not perturb, Republican Party voters to whom Lugar owes his cozy spot in the nation’s capital.

Lugar’s bitterness and refusal to help the candidate voters chose to serve in his place has shown the very sense of entitlement and disregard for the wishes of the voters that elites often settle into. And Lugar’s decision not to help his state party’s Senate candidate, in a year in which any race could theoretically make the difference between a Democratic Senate and a Republican one, shows that he does not feel any obligation to help his party. It doesn’t much matter to him whether a Democrat or Republican wins in November. The “No Labels” crowd loves this sort of thing, but it proves correct the Republican voters who sensed they were becoming indistinguishable, in Lugar’s mind, from their Democratic counterparts.

Lugar’s foreign-policy experience is something the GOP, whose congressional candidates are getting ever younger and focused on fiscal issues, should not dismiss in and of itself. Indeed, both parties will always need experienced hands on deck. But the policies matter too. We’re a long way from Nunn-Lugar, and despite that policy’s success Lugar can’t expect to trade on that legacy forever. And the presence of John Kerry at the helm of the Senate’s foreign relations business shows that some lifelong senators never learn a thing, no matter how much time they spend on Capitol Hill.

Lugar may have been hailed by his peers as a model of civility in an increasingly uncivil age, but he is now establishing a second legacy—as a man of dispiriting bitterness, entitlement, and haughty elitism who simply cannot let go.

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Liberal Overconfidence Helps Romney

The 2012 election is once again proving that having most of the mainstream media in your pocket is a huge advantage for a presidential candidate. President Obama’s re-election effort has been materially aided by being largely able to set the narrative of the race as the year unfolded. Mitt Romney’s gaffes were treated as game-changers, while Obama’s misstatements and scandals, like the security leaks from the White House, were often treated like footnotes rather than major stories. Media spin helped turn his convention into a hit and the Libya disaster, combined with Romney’s “47 percent” gaffe, has seemed to produce a genuine surge for the president in the last weeks. Conservatives may dispute the accuracy of polls that may be based on samples skewed to the Democrats or based on expectations of a repeat of the “hope and change” turnout figures of 2008. But after months of the race being seen as a dead heat, there’s little doubt that Obama is ahead right now. However, the glee on the left contains within it the possibility of a reversal.

The media narrative of the election having been largely decided in the last month is so strong that, as I wrote earlier this week, prominent outlets are openly expressing shock that the GOP hasn’t already conceded the election. Some are speaking as if Romney must not just win the first debate next week but mop the floor with the president if he is to have a chance in November. But the problem with this triumphalism on the left is that it can breed a fatal overconfidence. As encouraging as the president’s current poll numbers may be, his margins are still too small and there is still too much time left before Election Day for the left to assume the thing is in the bag. Even more to the point, it can breed a backlash against the media that can energize Romney’s camp and help fuel a competing comeback narrative. The president may not only have peaked too soon, but the overkill on the part of his journalistic cheerleading squad could be just the shot in the arm Romney needed.

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The 2012 election is once again proving that having most of the mainstream media in your pocket is a huge advantage for a presidential candidate. President Obama’s re-election effort has been materially aided by being largely able to set the narrative of the race as the year unfolded. Mitt Romney’s gaffes were treated as game-changers, while Obama’s misstatements and scandals, like the security leaks from the White House, were often treated like footnotes rather than major stories. Media spin helped turn his convention into a hit and the Libya disaster, combined with Romney’s “47 percent” gaffe, has seemed to produce a genuine surge for the president in the last weeks. Conservatives may dispute the accuracy of polls that may be based on samples skewed to the Democrats or based on expectations of a repeat of the “hope and change” turnout figures of 2008. But after months of the race being seen as a dead heat, there’s little doubt that Obama is ahead right now. However, the glee on the left contains within it the possibility of a reversal.

The media narrative of the election having been largely decided in the last month is so strong that, as I wrote earlier this week, prominent outlets are openly expressing shock that the GOP hasn’t already conceded the election. Some are speaking as if Romney must not just win the first debate next week but mop the floor with the president if he is to have a chance in November. But the problem with this triumphalism on the left is that it can breed a fatal overconfidence. As encouraging as the president’s current poll numbers may be, his margins are still too small and there is still too much time left before Election Day for the left to assume the thing is in the bag. Even more to the point, it can breed a backlash against the media that can energize Romney’s camp and help fuel a competing comeback narrative. The president may not only have peaked too soon, but the overkill on the part of his journalistic cheerleading squad could be just the shot in the arm Romney needed.

It should be conceded that with 40 days to go, it is a lot better to be ahead — no matter how large or small the margin — than behind. The president’s good month has encouraged Democrat donors and depressed those of the Republicans. Such a state of affairs could, if the GOP misplays its hand in the coming weeks, theoretically snowball into a repeat of the party’s 2008 debacle.

But the notion that Romney is already so far behind that he will never be able to catch up is risible. For all of his missteps, he remains within striking distance of the president. The economy is still poor and the idea that the patent collapse of his foreign policy vision as our embassies are attacked in the Middle East will help rather than hurt him among voters is highly debatable.

Moreover, Americans hate being told that an election is over when they know it is still close. That gives Romney a clear opening to spend the remaining weeks running hard against the media as well as the president. Nobody may like a heartless plutocrat — the false image that the left has foisted on Romney — but everyone likes an underdog who is being undercut by a chattering class telling voters that all has been decided even before they vote. If Romney can tap into this sentiment, dissatisfaction with the president’s performance in office can still be the decisive factor in determining the outcome.

Liberals have spent the last several weeks telling themselves that they can’t lose. But this sort of talk can breed resentment. It remains to be seen whether Romney is able to take advantage of this opening but if he does, Democrats will regret the way their media amen corner attempted to declare the game over when there was still so much time left on the clock.

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Military Needs Accountability at the Top

Military prosecutors have filed a battery of charges, including forcible sodomy and engaging in inappropriate relationships with subordinates, against Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, the former deputy commander of the famed 82nd Airborne Division. The case is newsworthy primarily because it is so rare for a general officer to face court-martial proceedings. Usually when a general or admiral does something wrong he or she is quietly retired–not hauled into court.

One of the few recent precedents was the case of Maj. Gen. Dave R.E. Hale who was hauled out of retirement in 1998 so he could be court-martialed. Not surprisingly his case also involved sex charges–in his case accusations that he had slept with the wives of several subordinates. Hale’s punishment was a reduction in rank to colonel.

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Military prosecutors have filed a battery of charges, including forcible sodomy and engaging in inappropriate relationships with subordinates, against Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, the former deputy commander of the famed 82nd Airborne Division. The case is newsworthy primarily because it is so rare for a general officer to face court-martial proceedings. Usually when a general or admiral does something wrong he or she is quietly retired–not hauled into court.

One of the few recent precedents was the case of Maj. Gen. Dave R.E. Hale who was hauled out of retirement in 1998 so he could be court-martialed. Not surprisingly his case also involved sex charges–in his case accusations that he had slept with the wives of several subordinates. Hale’s punishment was a reduction in rank to colonel.

There is nothing wrong with these prosecutions even though such conduct would not be considered criminal in the civilian world; military personnel are proud to be held to a higher standard. But what is jarring is that generals are so seldom held to account for non-sexual misconduct–whether it is outright scandals such as those at Abu Ghraib or Walter Reed Army Center, or merely losing wars as in Iraq from 2003 to 2006. As then-Lt. Col. Paul Yingling wrote in 2007, “As matters stand now, a private who loses a rifle suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war.”

This is an issue that Tom Ricks discusses at greater length in his forthcoming book The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today–and it is an issue that the military leadership should be asking themselves about. Accountability is imperative if the military is to continue to perform at a high level, but there is a widespread perception that accountability is lacking for those who wear stars on their shoulders.

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