Commentary Magazine


Posts For: November 26, 2012

Obama’s Silence on Egypt Speaks Volumes

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi may be backing down a bit on his attempt to seize dictatorial powers. The Muslim Brotherhood leader agreed to a limited compromise on his assertion of supremacy over the courts in which he would allow the judiciary to exercise review over his edits. This development testifies to the strength of the protests against Morsi’s attempt to acquire as much power as Hosni Mubarak had during his reign in Cairo. But even if Morsi’s putsch is contained for the moment, there is little doubt that he is determined to neutralize any possible competition for control over the country. This is, by any objective measure, a real defeat for an Obama administration that has publicly embraced Morsi and the Brotherhood and publicly disparaged his authoritarian predecessor. It is especially embarrassing since just last week President Obama was heaping praise on Morsi for his role in brokering a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, even though it was the Egyptian’s support for Hamas that helped foment the crisis.

But perhaps the most telling thing about the way Egypt is heading back down the road to dictatorship is the relative silence from Morsi’s new buddy in the White House and the State Department. At today’s White House press briefing, spokesman Jay Carney stayed clear of anything that could possibly be considered criticism of Morsi or the Brotherhood’s power grab, saying merely: “We have some concerns about the decisions and declarations that were announced on November 22.” Carney also denied that the president felt “betrayed” by the way Morsi used Washington’s fulsome praise for him as a platform from which he sought to expand his ability to rule by fiat. Given the way the administration dumped Mubarak and then publicly scolded and threatened the Egyptian military when it tried to act as a brake on the Brotherhood’s drive for hegemony, the White House’s unwillingness to say anything more than that speaks volumes about the way Morsi is viewed in Washington these days.

Read More

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi may be backing down a bit on his attempt to seize dictatorial powers. The Muslim Brotherhood leader agreed to a limited compromise on his assertion of supremacy over the courts in which he would allow the judiciary to exercise review over his edits. This development testifies to the strength of the protests against Morsi’s attempt to acquire as much power as Hosni Mubarak had during his reign in Cairo. But even if Morsi’s putsch is contained for the moment, there is little doubt that he is determined to neutralize any possible competition for control over the country. This is, by any objective measure, a real defeat for an Obama administration that has publicly embraced Morsi and the Brotherhood and publicly disparaged his authoritarian predecessor. It is especially embarrassing since just last week President Obama was heaping praise on Morsi for his role in brokering a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, even though it was the Egyptian’s support for Hamas that helped foment the crisis.

But perhaps the most telling thing about the way Egypt is heading back down the road to dictatorship is the relative silence from Morsi’s new buddy in the White House and the State Department. At today’s White House press briefing, spokesman Jay Carney stayed clear of anything that could possibly be considered criticism of Morsi or the Brotherhood’s power grab, saying merely: “We have some concerns about the decisions and declarations that were announced on November 22.” Carney also denied that the president felt “betrayed” by the way Morsi used Washington’s fulsome praise for him as a platform from which he sought to expand his ability to rule by fiat. Given the way the administration dumped Mubarak and then publicly scolded and threatened the Egyptian military when it tried to act as a brake on the Brotherhood’s drive for hegemony, the White House’s unwillingness to say anything more than that speaks volumes about the way Morsi is viewed in Washington these days.

One of the interesting nonevents of the past year has been the way the administration has been able to avoid any debate about its attitude toward Morsi and the Brotherhood. Part of that stems from the unfortunate decision by Michele Bachmann and some other conservative members of the House of Representatives to center any complaints on the personal loyalty of Huma Abedin, a longtime aide to Secretary of State Clinton and the wife of disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner. The pushback against Bachmann was bipartisan and the question was transformed from a reasonable debate that needed to be held about Washington’s embrace of the new Egyptian government to one of whether the House GOP was attempting to subject Abedin to a McCarthy-like inquisition based on anti-Arab prejudice.

Once Abedin was enshrined as a victim of bias, critiques of a policy shift in which Washington had made its peace with Morsi were effectively silenced. And with Morsi being portrayed as a peacemaker between Hamas and Israel, it seemed as if the new regime was being elevated to the same sort of friendly status with which the president views the Islamist government in Turkey.

Morsi’s relentless drive to rule without a parliament, and now without a judiciary able to restrain him, makes that embrace look strikingly similar to past American embraces of dictators. Only this time, the dictator isn’t a pro-U.S. authoritarian but a dedicated Islamist allied with terrorists and determined to limit American influence in the region.

This ought to have been a moment when President Obama would speak up on behalf of a cause that he had been vocal about in the last two years: democracy in the Arab world and in particular in Egypt, where a popular uprising discarded a pro-American, though unsustainable, leader. Instead, all we get from the White House is silence that effectively negates the president’s past embrace of the cause of freedom in the Muslim world. Mubarak and the Egyptian military must be wondering now why it is that their misdeeds were unacceptable in the eyes of Obama but Morsi’s cynical actions are OK. Americans who care about the billions of their taxpayer dollars that are being sent to Egypt should be asking the same thing.

Read Less

The Washington Post’s Dreams of Dixie

Criticism of UN Ambassador Susan Rice and opposition to her possible nomination as secretary of state has generally divided into two camps. One camp, concerned by Rice’s handling of the administration’s response to the Benghazi terrorist attack, in which she presented talking points officials knew were false, believes her role in the misdirection must be accounted for. In other words, this group of critics has focused on Rice’s professional responsibilities.

A second group agrees Rice isn’t the best choice for secretary of state, but has aimed its fire at Rice’s supposed personality flaws, attitude problems, career ambitions, and stories of craven political cynicism. In other words, it has made it personal. Liberal news outlets are up in arms over one of these two camps–and it isn’t the one you would think. The first camp includes John McCain and Lindsey Graham, as well as a group of about 100 Republican members of the House. The second includes Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank and New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. Yet the Washington Post editorial board published over the holiday weekend a shameful attack on the House Republicans, who had written a letter to President Obama urging him not to nominate Rice. The editors wrote:

Read More

Criticism of UN Ambassador Susan Rice and opposition to her possible nomination as secretary of state has generally divided into two camps. One camp, concerned by Rice’s handling of the administration’s response to the Benghazi terrorist attack, in which she presented talking points officials knew were false, believes her role in the misdirection must be accounted for. In other words, this group of critics has focused on Rice’s professional responsibilities.

A second group agrees Rice isn’t the best choice for secretary of state, but has aimed its fire at Rice’s supposed personality flaws, attitude problems, career ambitions, and stories of craven political cynicism. In other words, it has made it personal. Liberal news outlets are up in arms over one of these two camps–and it isn’t the one you would think. The first camp includes John McCain and Lindsey Graham, as well as a group of about 100 Republican members of the House. The second includes Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank and New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. Yet the Washington Post editorial board published over the holiday weekend a shameful attack on the House Republicans, who had written a letter to President Obama urging him not to nominate Rice. The editors wrote:

Could it be, as members of the Congressional Black Caucus are charging, that the signatories of the letter are targeting Ms. Rice because she is an African American woman? The signatories deny that, and we can’t know their hearts. What we do know is that more than 80 of the signatories are white males, and nearly half are from states of the former Confederacy. You’d think that before launching their broadside, members of Congress would have taken care not to propagate any falsehoods of their own.

This follows the general belief of the mainstream media that criticism of the Obama administration is racist unless it is sexist, though in some cases it can be both. This, apparently, is such a case. William Jacobson has an important response to this editorial, reminding readers of the opposition to Condoleezza Rice’s nomination to serve as George W. Bush’s secretary of state, “which was led by former Klansman Robert Byrd.” Jacobson adds:

Rice, Condoleezza, received fewer favorable votes in her Secretary of State confirmation than any nominee in almost 25 years and more negative votes than any nominee in 180 years.  Twelve of the thirteen votes against Rice were from White Males, including the aforementioned former Klansman.

Jacobson also notes the explicitly race-based critiques of Condoleezza Rice, which have been absent in Susan Rice’s case. But actual racism isn’t necessary for the Washington Post editorial board to attempt to smear the names and careers of politicians it doesn’t like.

In addition to all of Jacobson’s points (and you should read his whole post), what the editors are suggesting is essentially that white (Republican) males refrain from criticizing non-white (non-Republican) non-males, or the WaPo will be back for them again. This is also revealing in and of itself. Though leftists often try to claim that Southern conservatives long en masse for the days of the Confederacy, it is the Washington Post that refuses to move on from those days.

To the Post, if you are from the South, your motivations are immediately suspect. If you are from the South, you don’t have quite the same right as others to engage in public debate.

This is not a particularly good sign for Susan Rice. Had her defenders been able to muster a case on her behalf, they would have presented it. Instead, they are conceding that she and the administration cannot be defended cogently in this case, but must be protected from criticism. Additionally, the Washington Post’s editorialists should consider reading the Washington Post (though I understand why they don’t). There, they’ll find liberal writers like Milbank whose criticism of Rice is personal rather than professional. Perhaps Milbank is not from the South, and therefore qualifies for the rights and privileges the Post has taken upon itself to award based on race, sex, and state of residence.

Read Less

Using Journalism as a Cover to Target Israel

In the New York Times today, David Carr claims that Israel is “using war as cover to target journalists” in Gaza. Of course Carr fails to mention that the “journalists” in question were terrorists:

On the same day as the Waldorf event, three employees of news organizations were killed in Gaza by Israeli missiles. Rather than suggesting it was a mistake, or denying responsibility, an Israeli Defense Forces spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, told The Associated Press, “The targets are people who have relevance to terror activity.”

So it has come to this: killing members of the news media can be justified by a phrase as amorphous as “relevance to terror activity.” …

Mahmoud al-Kumi and Hussam Salama worked as cameramen for Al-Aqsa TV, which is run by Hamas and whose reporting frequently reflects that affiliation. They were covering events in central Gaza when a missile struck their car, which, according to Al-Aqsa, was clearly marked with the letters “TV.” (The car just in front of them was carrying a translator and driver for The New York Times, so the execution hit close to our organization.) And Mohamed Abu Aisha, director of the private Al-Quds Educational Radio, was also in a car when it was hit by a missile.

As Carr notes, Al-Aqsa is a Hamas-owned TV station. What he leaves out is that Al-Aqsa TV has also been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. Treasury Department. So we already know these “cameramen” were working for a terrorist group.

Read More

In the New York Times today, David Carr claims that Israel is “using war as cover to target journalists” in Gaza. Of course Carr fails to mention that the “journalists” in question were terrorists:

On the same day as the Waldorf event, three employees of news organizations were killed in Gaza by Israeli missiles. Rather than suggesting it was a mistake, or denying responsibility, an Israeli Defense Forces spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, told The Associated Press, “The targets are people who have relevance to terror activity.”

So it has come to this: killing members of the news media can be justified by a phrase as amorphous as “relevance to terror activity.” …

Mahmoud al-Kumi and Hussam Salama worked as cameramen for Al-Aqsa TV, which is run by Hamas and whose reporting frequently reflects that affiliation. They were covering events in central Gaza when a missile struck their car, which, according to Al-Aqsa, was clearly marked with the letters “TV.” (The car just in front of them was carrying a translator and driver for The New York Times, so the execution hit close to our organization.) And Mohamed Abu Aisha, director of the private Al-Quds Educational Radio, was also in a car when it was hit by a missile.

As Carr notes, Al-Aqsa is a Hamas-owned TV station. What he leaves out is that Al-Aqsa TV has also been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. Treasury Department. So we already know these “cameramen” were working for a terrorist group.

In addition, the Free Beacon reports that “Hussam Salama,” one of the alleged cameramen mentioned in Carr’s article, is actually Muhammed Shamalah, a Hamas commander and head of its military training programs. In a November 20 blog post, the Israel Defense Forces recounted its successful attack against Shamalah, who had spray-painted “TV” on his car hood:

The “human shield” method, as it is commonly known, has forced the IDF to target seemingly non-military targets, resulting in some of the civilian casualties. It has also endangered all residents of the Gaza Strip who, without their consent, were unwittingly dragged into the conflict.

One such example came in today, when a senior Hamas operative was targeted while driving a press vehicle. Muhammed Shamalah, commander of Hamas forces in the southern Strip and head of the Hamas militant training programs, was targeted by an Israeli air strike while driving a car clearly labelled “TV”, indicating it to be a press vehicle, abusing the protection afforded to journalists. 

Elder of Ziyon has more details on another “journalist” mentioned in the story, Mohamed Abu Aisha, who also appears to be an officer in Islamic Jihad. 

Should Israel be expected to let any militant who paints “TV” on his car drive by under the radar? Samir Khan was the editor of al-Qaeda’s Inspire magazine until he was killed in a CIA drone strike, but the New York Times has yet to accuse the Obama administration of “using war as cover to target journalists.” Apparently, Israel is the only country that’s expected to treat terrorists-posing-as-reporters the same way it treats actual reporters.

Read Less

More Questions About the Pauls and Israel

Last week, Senator Rand Paul went to some lengths to try and convince readers of COMMENTARY that the qualms that I expressed about his record on Israel were unfounded. Suffice it to say that I think despite his expressions of friendship to the Jewish state, most Republicans, as well as most Americans, are going to have a hard time reconciling his opposition to military aid to Israel as well as support for defense cuts and a reduced role for America around the world with the idea that he supports the alliance. But if the senator is serious about convincing his party that he can be relied upon to have Israel’s back, he has a much bigger problem than anything I have to say about the issue: his father, Rep. Ron Paul.

Though Senator Paul has tried to carve out a different, more establishment-friendly niche for himself in Washington than his gadfly father, his support for the latter’s presidential runs and clear admiration for the man’s principles and positions are a matter of record. And in case anyone forgot about the erstwhile presidential challenger’s stands on Israel, he gave us a reminder today with a blog post on his official congressional website. Titled, “How to End the Tragedy in Gaza,” Rep. Paul does not blame Hamas for starting the latest fighting. Instead, he blames Israel and, more to the point, American backing for Israel, for enabling the conflict. Though his son has not said anything like that in recent years, this is the sort of false and destructive rhetoric that is catnip to many of the extremist libertarians who form the family fan base and who will, no doubt, be the foot soldiers in Rand Paul’s 2016 presidential run. While it may be unfair to expect any man to distance himself from his father, unless the senator makes a clear effort to disavow his father’s positions on the Middle East, his attempts to portray himself as a friend to Israel will flop.

Read More

Last week, Senator Rand Paul went to some lengths to try and convince readers of COMMENTARY that the qualms that I expressed about his record on Israel were unfounded. Suffice it to say that I think despite his expressions of friendship to the Jewish state, most Republicans, as well as most Americans, are going to have a hard time reconciling his opposition to military aid to Israel as well as support for defense cuts and a reduced role for America around the world with the idea that he supports the alliance. But if the senator is serious about convincing his party that he can be relied upon to have Israel’s back, he has a much bigger problem than anything I have to say about the issue: his father, Rep. Ron Paul.

Though Senator Paul has tried to carve out a different, more establishment-friendly niche for himself in Washington than his gadfly father, his support for the latter’s presidential runs and clear admiration for the man’s principles and positions are a matter of record. And in case anyone forgot about the erstwhile presidential challenger’s stands on Israel, he gave us a reminder today with a blog post on his official congressional website. Titled, “How to End the Tragedy in Gaza,” Rep. Paul does not blame Hamas for starting the latest fighting. Instead, he blames Israel and, more to the point, American backing for Israel, for enabling the conflict. Though his son has not said anything like that in recent years, this is the sort of false and destructive rhetoric that is catnip to many of the extremist libertarians who form the family fan base and who will, no doubt, be the foot soldiers in Rand Paul’s 2016 presidential run. While it may be unfair to expect any man to distance himself from his father, unless the senator makes a clear effort to disavow his father’s positions on the Middle East, his attempts to portray himself as a friend to Israel will flop.

Ron Paul’s position on Israel has been consistent. Though he, too, occasionally tries to paint his stand as one that is friendly to the Jewish state, he does more than just oppose military aid. He believes the U.S. is at fault for being Israel’s steadfast ally. The congressman’s belief in the moral equivalence of the two sides in the conflict is clear:

US foreign policy being so one-sided actually results in more loss of life and of security on both sides. Surely Israelis do not enjoy the threat of missiles from Gaza nor do the Palestinians enjoy their Israel-imposed inhuman conditions in Gaza. But as long as Israel can count on its destructive policies being underwritten by the US taxpayer it can continue to engage in reckless behavior. And as long as the Palestinians feel the one-sided US presence lined up against them they will continue to resort to more and more deadly and desperate measures. 

One needn’t waste time pointing out that the idea of “inhuman conditions in Gaza” is a myth fostered by Israel’s enemies or that there is nothing “reckless” about a nation reacting to the firing of hundreds of missiles on its citizens and sovereign territory with a counter-attack. But the most telling point about this piece is that the libertarian leader’s ideas about moral equivalence extend beyond his hostility to Israel. They also apply to American measures of self-defense against terrorists:

Last week, as the fighting raged, President Obama raced to express US support for the Israeli side, in a statement that perfectly exemplifies the tragic-comedy of US foreign policy. The US supported the Israeli side because, he said, “No country on Earth would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders.” Considering that this president rains down missiles on Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and numerous other countries on a daily basis, the statement was so hypocritical that it didn’t pass the laugh test. But it wasn’t funny.

This goes to the heart not only of Ron Paul’s hostility to the exercise of American power but also to that of his son. Plenty of so-called foreign policy “realists” share their prejudice against Israel and willingness to buy into Arab propaganda about the Middle East conflict. But both the Pauls have a problem with American efforts to combat al-Qaeda, or to restrain rogue Islamist regimes like the one in Iran. That puts them clearly outside the mainstream of the Republican Party and renders Rand Paul’s presidential hopes and growing influence a threat to any hopes of the GOP recapturing the White House in the future.

Rand Paul’s comments don’t usually come across as parodies of far-left rants the way his father’s usually do. But he has made it clear that he shares the elder politician’s core beliefs about American foreign policy. So long as the senator fails to clearly oppose his father’s ideas about the Middle East and the role of the U.S. in the world, friends of Israel won’t believe what he says about Israel. Nor should they.

Read Less

Poll: Public Would Blame GOP for Fiscal Cliff Talks’ Failure

The latest CNN/ORC poll finds a plurality would blame congressional Republicans if no agreement is reached before the U.S. hits the so-called fiscal cliff:

Forty-five percent surveyed in a new CNN/ORC poll said they would blame congressional Republicans if there is no agreement, with 34 percent pointing the finger at Obama.

Two-thirds say the U.S. would experience serious problems if the combination of tax rate increases and automatic spending cuts expected in January take effect.

One in four says the country would experience a crisis, with 44 percent expecting major problems if a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff is not found. One in four says the fiscal cliff would cause minor problems, with 7 percent saying there would not be any consequences.

Seventy-seven percent of Americans believe their personal situation would be affected if the U.S. fell over the cliff.

Read More

The latest CNN/ORC poll finds a plurality would blame congressional Republicans if no agreement is reached before the U.S. hits the so-called fiscal cliff:

Forty-five percent surveyed in a new CNN/ORC poll said they would blame congressional Republicans if there is no agreement, with 34 percent pointing the finger at Obama.

Two-thirds say the U.S. would experience serious problems if the combination of tax rate increases and automatic spending cuts expected in January take effect.

One in four says the country would experience a crisis, with 44 percent expecting major problems if a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff is not found. One in four says the fiscal cliff would cause minor problems, with 7 percent saying there would not be any consequences.

Seventy-seven percent of Americans believe their personal situation would be affected if the U.S. fell over the cliff.

Republicans will go into the negotiations at a disadvantage, since they have more of an incentive to cut a deal to avoid public backlash. But is the public more likely to blame Republicans because it disagrees with their positions, or because it has come to associate the party with obstructionism? Maybe a little of both. According to exit polling, a plurality of voters favor tax hikes for Americans making over $250,000 a year. But over the last three years the GOP has also been branded, unfairly, as the party of no compromises. I say unfairly not because Republicans are particularly open to compromise, but because Democrats are just as rigid. In fact, a growing number of liberal Dems claim they’d rather jump off the fiscal cliff than make concessions:

A growing bloc of emboldened liberals say they’re not afraid to watch defense spending get gouged and taxes go up on every American if a budget deal doesn’t satisfy their priorities.

Here’s what these progressives fear: an agreement that keeps lower tax rates for the wealthy, hits the social safety net with unpalatable cuts and leaves Pentagon spending unscathed. In other words, they’d rather walk the country off the cliff than watch President Barack Obama cave on long-held liberal priorities. …

If tax rates snap back to the higher levels from the 1990s and painful budget cuts start to hit the Pentagon, these Democrats — led by Washington Sen. Patty Murray — believe they would wield more leverage over the GOP to enact a budget compromise on their terms. And with a January deal, Republicans would technically avoid violating the no-new-taxes pledge that most of them have signed because they would then be voting to cut taxes.

Liberals see little downside to this scenario. Going off the cliff would trigger devastating defense cuts, which the left would love. And when tax rates would go up across the board, the public would blame the GOP for failing to reach a deal. But don’t expect to hear the media bemoaning destructive Democratic brinkmanship anytime soon.

Read Less

Is Cantor Backing Off Norquist Pledge?

Lindsey Graham, Saxby Chambliss, Bob Corker, and Peter King have already distanced themselves from Grover Norquist’s pledge not to increase taxes, and now it looks like House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is downplaying the pledge too:

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) appeared to take a step back from anti-tax champion Grover Norquist on Monday, suggesting that a “no new taxes” pledge coordinated by Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform group wouldn’t determine his legislative duties regarding ongoing fiscal cliff negotiations.

“When I go to the constituents that have reelected me, it is not about that pledge,” Cantor said on MSNBC. “It really is about trying to solve problems.”

Asked if he could foresee a situation in which he would be willing to directly renounce the anti-tax pledge, Cantor dodged specifics, saying that he didn’t know because he hadn’t talked to Norquist.

This is the strongest challenge yet to Norquist’s anti-tax pledge, but it’s unclear whether any Republicans would actually follow through on the threats. Graham, for example, has said he’d go against the pledge in return for extensive concessions on entitlement reform from Democrats, which are unlikely to happen.

Read More

Lindsey Graham, Saxby Chambliss, Bob Corker, and Peter King have already distanced themselves from Grover Norquist’s pledge not to increase taxes, and now it looks like House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is downplaying the pledge too:

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) appeared to take a step back from anti-tax champion Grover Norquist on Monday, suggesting that a “no new taxes” pledge coordinated by Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform group wouldn’t determine his legislative duties regarding ongoing fiscal cliff negotiations.

“When I go to the constituents that have reelected me, it is not about that pledge,” Cantor said on MSNBC. “It really is about trying to solve problems.”

Asked if he could foresee a situation in which he would be willing to directly renounce the anti-tax pledge, Cantor dodged specifics, saying that he didn’t know because he hadn’t talked to Norquist.

This is the strongest challenge yet to Norquist’s anti-tax pledge, but it’s unclear whether any Republicans would actually follow through on the threats. Graham, for example, has said he’d go against the pledge in return for extensive concessions on entitlement reform from Democrats, which are unlikely to happen.

But maybe it’s not just a bluff. Exit polls showed voters favor tax hikes on the wealthy, raising pressure on Republicans (especially ones like Graham, who are up for reelection) to consider it. Norquist promises he’ll target any member of congress who breaks the pledge:

Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist said Monday that his group, Americans for Tax Reform, would work to unseat Republicans who break their pledge to never vote for higher taxes.

His vow came after prominent GOP lawmakers said over the weekend they would consider breaking the Taxpayer Protection Pledge in order to reach a deal with Democrats and President Barack Obama to avoid tumbling over the fiscal cliff – the combination of sweeping spending cuts and tax increases that would go into effect at the end of the year if negotiators can’t reach a deal on reducing the federal debt.

Norquist said his group would “certainly highlight who has kept their commitment and who hasn’t” when it comes time for lawmakers like Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Peter King to run for re-election, though Norquist claimed voters generally decide on their own to oust elected officials who vote to raise taxes.

Most of Norquist’s influence in Congress stems from the pledge. But without enforcement, it’s just a piece of paper. If he can’t keep members in line, the pledge becomes meaningless. Then again, Republican leadership won’t appreciate him targeting pledge defectors in 2014, particularly when control of the Senate may again be up for grabs.

Read Less

What Ehud Barak Taught the Middle East

Today’s announcement that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak will not compete in the country’s upcoming election in January can’t be considered much of a surprise. Barak, who broke away from the Labor Party in 2011, knows that the odds are against his small Independence Party gaining enough votes to send him back to the Knesset. Thus, his statement that he is stepping down from electoral politics is more of a concession to reality than anything else. But this doesn’t mean he won’t continue in his current job.

Since the law allows the prime minister to appoint individuals who are not members of the Knesset to cabinet posts, it is more than likely that Barak will still be giving the orders at the Kirya in Tel Aviv next year. Yet, as Aluf Benn notes in Haaretz, even if Prime Minister Netanyahu does bring him back, his influence in the next government will be diminished since, unlike cabinet colleagues like Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, he will have no political constituency at his back. This means that although the 70-year-old former prime minister and chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces is probably not actually retiring from public life, it is an appropriate moment to ponder the significance of his career.

Barak is one of the most decorated soldiers in Israel’s history and his legacy as chief of staff and then later as defense minister is one that has generated wide and deserved praise. But he has also been the author of some of the biggest blunders in the country’s history without which his political failures would not have been explicable. While Barak will hope to be remembered chiefly for his exploits as a commando and then for successful military operations like the recently completed Operation Pillar of Defense, his role in ordering the IDF’s precipitate retreat from Lebanon and the diplomatic fiasco at Camp David in 2000 that led to the second intifada continue to loom large in his biography. Those who lament the demise of the peace process need look no further than Barak’s experiences as prime minister to understand why the country has rejected the policies of the left.

Read More

Today’s announcement that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak will not compete in the country’s upcoming election in January can’t be considered much of a surprise. Barak, who broke away from the Labor Party in 2011, knows that the odds are against his small Independence Party gaining enough votes to send him back to the Knesset. Thus, his statement that he is stepping down from electoral politics is more of a concession to reality than anything else. But this doesn’t mean he won’t continue in his current job.

Since the law allows the prime minister to appoint individuals who are not members of the Knesset to cabinet posts, it is more than likely that Barak will still be giving the orders at the Kirya in Tel Aviv next year. Yet, as Aluf Benn notes in Haaretz, even if Prime Minister Netanyahu does bring him back, his influence in the next government will be diminished since, unlike cabinet colleagues like Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, he will have no political constituency at his back. This means that although the 70-year-old former prime minister and chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces is probably not actually retiring from public life, it is an appropriate moment to ponder the significance of his career.

Barak is one of the most decorated soldiers in Israel’s history and his legacy as chief of staff and then later as defense minister is one that has generated wide and deserved praise. But he has also been the author of some of the biggest blunders in the country’s history without which his political failures would not have been explicable. While Barak will hope to be remembered chiefly for his exploits as a commando and then for successful military operations like the recently completed Operation Pillar of Defense, his role in ordering the IDF’s precipitate retreat from Lebanon and the diplomatic fiasco at Camp David in 2000 that led to the second intifada continue to loom large in his biography. Those who lament the demise of the peace process need look no further than Barak’s experiences as prime minister to understand why the country has rejected the policies of the left.

Barak is likely to be asked to stay on at the Defense Ministry next year for two reasons.

One is that his competence in military affairs stands head and shoulders above any of the politicians who would like to add the crucial post to their resumes. The example of Amir Peretz, a union hack whom Ehud Olmert appointed to the position in 2006, and whose incompetence materially contributed to the disasters of the second Lebanon War that year, means that no Israeli prime minister is likely to ever again treat the job as just a patronage plum.

The second is that Barak’s presence in the cabinet gives Netanyahu political cover. Barak makes the government, which is otherwise dominated by figures from Netanyahu’s Likud and other factions in the country’s national camp, appear more centrist. It also allows Netanyahu to fend off any initiatives from Lieberman or other right-wingers by letting Barak oppose them. Though Barak has at times been critical of the government’s stands on the Palestinians and has been notable for his friendly relationship with the Obama administration (especially when compared to the prime minister), he has been a good partner for Netanyahu and has generally acted in concert on the big issues. Without Barak, it is impossible to imagine that the prime minister would even contemplate a strike on Iran or other controversial military moves.

However, if we are to understand why Barak, who was once Netanyahu’s immediate commander in the army when they were both young men, wound up his subordinate in politics, we have to go back to his brief tenure as prime minister. In 1999, Barak routed Netanyahu in a direct election for prime minister. Netanyahu’s first term was not without its successes, but by the time he was defeated for re-election he had worn out his welcome. Barak was seen as a technocrat rather than a Labor Party ideologue and therefore better qualified to lead the country. But in just 20 short months (the shortest tenure of any prime minister in the country’s history), Barak conclusively proved that skeptics about the peace process were right.

Barak was applauded for bringing to an abrupt end Israel’s 18-year-old military presence in southern Lebanon in 2000. Israelis were as sick of the quagmire there as the Lebanese were. But by bugging out in a fashion that allowed Hezbollah to represent the move as a defeat for Israel and a victory for terrorism, Barak laid the foundation for future disasters such as the even more spectacularly disastrous pullout from Gaza that Ariel Sharon orchestrated in 2005.

However, Barak’s decision to try and end the conflict with the Palestinians in one stroke at the Camp David conference in July 2000 was even more problematic. Barak offered Yasir Arafat an independent state in Gaza, almost all of the West Bank and parts of Jerusalem, terms that most Israelis thought too generous. When Arafat rejected the offer, Barak sweetened it the following January in Taba only to get the same response. By then, Arafat had answered what he and the Palestinians thought was Barak’s weakness by launching a terrorist war of attrition known as the second intifada.

Though 12 years later many American Jews and most of the Washington foreign policy establishment still haven’t absorbed the lessons of this debacle, the overwhelming majority of Israelis drew conclusions about the Palestinians from these events that continue to shape Israel’s political future.

Barak taught the Palestinians to think that terrorism will cause Israel to back down and retreat, leading them to think that more violence and intransigence rather than moderation and negotiation will get them what they want. At the same time, he taught Israelis that retreats like his Lebanon bug-out and the Gaza withdrawal it inspired, as well as the concessions that he made at Camp David, only lead to more sorrow for the country. Almost single-handedly (though it must be conceded that he couldn’t have done it without Arafat and his successor Mahmoud Abbas), Barak inculcated in the Israeli public the understanding that they have no partner for peace and that the intractable conflict can only be managed rather than solved.

Though Barak is rightly seen as being as much a failure as a politician as he was a success as a soldier, his mishaps in office have probably done more to influence the country’s politics than anything any other Israeli has done. While he may continue at the Defense Ministry for years to come, it is these lessons that he taught both Israelis and the Palestinians that may be his most lasting legacy.

Read Less

The Cost of Diplomatic Goodwill

The press attaché at the U.S. embassy writes in response to my post to alert me to an embassy statement disputing Azerbaijani press accounts of U.S. Ambassador Richard Morningstar’s earlier comments. The correction comes 15 days after the story first appeared in the Azeri press. While the Azeri news agency has now removed the original report in English, it is still available in Azeri.

I will certainly take Ambassador Morningstar’s word against that of a regime that is less than democratic, but the episode highlights well another problem with American diplomacy: The tendency of undemocratic regimes to utilize visits by American diplomats and officials to imply endorsement where none is intended. The Azeris believed they could use Morningstar’s visit to the semi-autonomous Nakhchivan region to suggest American support for the decidedly undemocratic regional government. Likewise, when Secretary of State Clinton visited Armenia, she met with only government officials and gave the opposition a cold shoulder; that was a message that both the Armenian government and its opposition heard loud and clear, even if it was not a message Clinton intended to transmit. It is probably not a coincidence that Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi sought to eviscerate any remaining checks and balances immediately after Clinton visited Cairo and heaped praise upon the Egyptian leader.

Read More

The press attaché at the U.S. embassy writes in response to my post to alert me to an embassy statement disputing Azerbaijani press accounts of U.S. Ambassador Richard Morningstar’s earlier comments. The correction comes 15 days after the story first appeared in the Azeri press. While the Azeri news agency has now removed the original report in English, it is still available in Azeri.

I will certainly take Ambassador Morningstar’s word against that of a regime that is less than democratic, but the episode highlights well another problem with American diplomacy: The tendency of undemocratic regimes to utilize visits by American diplomats and officials to imply endorsement where none is intended. The Azeris believed they could use Morningstar’s visit to the semi-autonomous Nakhchivan region to suggest American support for the decidedly undemocratic regional government. Likewise, when Secretary of State Clinton visited Armenia, she met with only government officials and gave the opposition a cold shoulder; that was a message that both the Armenian government and its opposition heard loud and clear, even if it was not a message Clinton intended to transmit. It is probably not a coincidence that Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi sought to eviscerate any remaining checks and balances immediately after Clinton visited Cairo and heaped praise upon the Egyptian leader.

If Senator John Kerry really wanted to be secretary of state (or defense), perhaps he should not have referred to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad as “my dear friend” on several occasions, a hopefully unintended endorsement that made staffers cringe (as related by one). The problem is bipartisan: Iraqi Kurdish journalists—some of whom have survived assassination attempts and others who have been thrown in prison for their writing—lambaste Senators Joe Lieberman and John McCain for the praise they heap upon Masud Barzani, the Iraqi Kurdistan region’s increasingly authoritarian leader.

Engagement is not cost-free. Because dictators often twist words, it is even more important for American diplomats first to speak with moral clarity, never issue false praise under the guise of politeness, and always tie meetings with those in power to meetings with those in democratic opposition groups. Alas, careless diplomacy too often sets the American brand back years.

Read Less

Obama WH: No One but Obama Can Be Trusted with Such Power

President Obama begins his transition period to a second term by receiving some adorable but thoughtless advice from the New York Times editorial board: “Close Guantanamo Prison,” the editors declare. The advice is adorable because it seems frozen in time four years ago, when it was slightly conceivable that Obama would do anything other than concretize and expand executive power and privilege he railed against when it was in the hands of his predecessor. It is thoughtless because Obama doesn’t need Gitmo: rather than send prisoners to Gitmo, where they receive three squares a day (and reportedly get to keep pets), he is sending them to a Somali hell on earth, where skin disease runs rampant in the overcrowded, sun-scorched cells.

The editorial also suggests he veto the National Defense Authorization Act. Readers might recall that the NDAA, which Obama signed in late 2011, was the moment civil libertarians fully understood that Obama would, contrary to his campaign promises, spend his time in office accruing as much power as he could. The ACLU, with a heavy heart and the scales fallen from their eyes, released a statement: “President Obama’s action today is a blight on his legacy because he will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law,” pronounced ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero. “The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield.”

But of course by that time, Obama had ordered military action against Libya without bothering to go to Congress about it and rested his national security strategy on its most secretive element: the drone war. The use of drones to target anyone the Obama administration decides poses a threat has been effective, though it comes at the cost of the deaths of civilians the administration considers collateral damage. And it is in this aspect of Obama’s national security policy that he appears to believe that what he is doing is problematic but doesn’t particularly care. The New York Times reports on a cartoonishly cynical approach to targeted assassination coming from the White House:

Read More

President Obama begins his transition period to a second term by receiving some adorable but thoughtless advice from the New York Times editorial board: “Close Guantanamo Prison,” the editors declare. The advice is adorable because it seems frozen in time four years ago, when it was slightly conceivable that Obama would do anything other than concretize and expand executive power and privilege he railed against when it was in the hands of his predecessor. It is thoughtless because Obama doesn’t need Gitmo: rather than send prisoners to Gitmo, where they receive three squares a day (and reportedly get to keep pets), he is sending them to a Somali hell on earth, where skin disease runs rampant in the overcrowded, sun-scorched cells.

The editorial also suggests he veto the National Defense Authorization Act. Readers might recall that the NDAA, which Obama signed in late 2011, was the moment civil libertarians fully understood that Obama would, contrary to his campaign promises, spend his time in office accruing as much power as he could. The ACLU, with a heavy heart and the scales fallen from their eyes, released a statement: “President Obama’s action today is a blight on his legacy because he will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law,” pronounced ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero. “The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield.”

But of course by that time, Obama had ordered military action against Libya without bothering to go to Congress about it and rested his national security strategy on its most secretive element: the drone war. The use of drones to target anyone the Obama administration decides poses a threat has been effective, though it comes at the cost of the deaths of civilians the administration considers collateral damage. And it is in this aspect of Obama’s national security policy that he appears to believe that what he is doing is problematic but doesn’t particularly care. The New York Times reports on a cartoonishly cynical approach to targeted assassination coming from the White House:

The attempt to write a formal rule book for targeted killing began last summer after news reports on the drone program, started under President George W. Bush and expanded by Mr. Obama, revealed some details of the president’s role in the shifting procedures for compiling “kill lists” and approving strikes. Though national security officials insist that the process is meticulous and lawful, the president and top aides believe it should be institutionalized, a course of action that seemed particularly urgent when it appeared that Mitt Romney might win the presidency.

“There was concern that the levers might no longer be in our hands,” said one official, speaking on condition of anonymity. With a continuing debate about the proper limits of drone strikes, Mr. Obama did not want to leave an “amorphous” program to his successor, the official said. The effort, which would have been rushed to completion by January had Mr. Romney won, will now be finished at a more leisurely pace, the official said.

Obama wants to curtail the power he has accumulated for future presidents, believing as he does in accountability for everyone but him. When it looked like Romney might win the election, the White House feverishly undertook efforts to constrain his power. Now that Obama gets four more years, that effort “will now be finished at a more leisurely pace”–a phrase one hopes was typed out with a modicum of shame.

Will there be a liberal outcry? No, there won’t. What differentiates the antiwar movement of the Vietnam era and the left-wing Democrats of today is that the former believed what they said. Today’s left is an operational arm of the Democratic Party, and thus opposition to national security projects like Somali hell-prisons or drone warfare is simply a matter of partisan politics.

None of this is to suggest that what Obama is doing is unlawful–indeed, I highly doubt he is operating without legal advice and input every step of the way. But let’s remember that George W. Bush did as well, and this did nothing to quell his critics. Additionally, just because a program is secret doesn’t mean it’s nefarious; our national security depends on a great many classified and secret programs. Furthermore, Obama may be making the best of a difficult choice: drone warfare is quite probably a better option than either sending more troops into more countries or allowing a lapse in the vigilant defense of the homeland.

It’s just worth noting that Obama has made it fairly clear that he would be uncomfortable with this power in anyone’s hands but his own, yet continues wielding it. And it’s also worth noting that he will do so without any major challenge from his base.

Read Less

GOP’s Short-Lived Shift on Copyright Law

The Republican Study Committee, a conservative policy-focused organization in Congress, recently released a smart paper on copyright law that’s drawn some controversy. It was written by RSC staffer Derek Khanna (full disclosure: he is a college friend), and it makes the case that current copyright law does the opposite of what it was originally intended to do — instead of fostering innovation and intellectual growth, it’s hindering it.

The paper echoes reasonable arguments for copyright law reform that libertarians have been making for years. But shortly after it was published, it was mysteriously yanked from the RSC website, supposedly because it wasn’t properly reviewed.

Read More

The Republican Study Committee, a conservative policy-focused organization in Congress, recently released a smart paper on copyright law that’s drawn some controversy. It was written by RSC staffer Derek Khanna (full disclosure: he is a college friend), and it makes the case that current copyright law does the opposite of what it was originally intended to do — instead of fostering innovation and intellectual growth, it’s hindering it.

The paper echoes reasonable arguments for copyright law reform that libertarians have been making for years. But shortly after it was published, it was mysteriously yanked from the RSC website, supposedly because it wasn’t properly reviewed.

“This Policy Brief presented one view among conservatives on U.S. copyright law. Due to an oversight in our review process, it did not account for the full range of perspectives among our members,” said an RSC spokesperson. “It was removed from the website to address that concern.”

What makes that explanation even stranger is that there hasn’t been any backlash against the paper from the right — nobody clamoring (at least publicly) that their “perspective” wasn’t given due consideration. In fact, the paper received only positive reviews from various corners of the conservative sphere, including David Brooks, Red State, Reason, AmCon, Glenn Reynolds, and Volokh

The only real pushback seems to be coming from Hollywood lobbyists and “paid advocates” for the telecom industry. ArsTechnica reported the RSC pulled the paper under lobbyist pressure (although one of the top lobby groups denied involvement).

If the RSC did cave to industry pressure, that would be unfortunate. Not because the GOP is missing an opportunity to capture the youth vote, or get “revenge” against Hollywood, or anything that conniving. But because it’s a shame when lobbyists who profit from bad laws are able to block opportunities for reform. Under current copyright law, works don’t enter the public domain until 70 years after the author’s death (for corporate authors, the timespan is 120 years after creation). Authors should own the exclusive rights to their work for some time, or there would be little incentive to create anything. But at what point does the incentive taper off? If you knew you would only own the copyright to your work for the next 50 years, as opposed to the next 120 years, would you any have less incentive to write a book or compose a song or publish a scientific research paper? For the vast majority of authors, that probably wouldn’t even factor into their decision — but it makes a big difference for the general public.

Reforming copyright law could give the public freer access to books, scientific papers, music and art decades earlier than they otherwise would have. It would encourage online libraries, where people could access literature and scientific research as it enters the public domain. It would make learning less costly. And it would support innovation by fostering a society where ideas are more accessible, and easier to build upon. As the RSC paper pointed out, this is the explicit constitutional purpose of copyright law — encouraging innovation and scientific advancement, not ensuring indefinite compensation for authors.

Read Less

The Aircraft Carrier Drought Comes Early

During the third and final presidential debate, President Obama ridiculed Governor Romney’s arguments about the military. “Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines,” Obama quipped.

If Obama is not careful, he may soon need to revise his comments about aircraft carriers. While the Clinton administration found that the United States needed 12 aircraft carriers to adequately project power and fulfill both wartime and peaceful missions, that number slipped to 11 under the George W. Bush administration. Earlier this month, the USS Enterprise, the navy’s second-oldest ship, finished its final deployment and will be retired, leaving the Pentagon with 10. The problem is that when numbers dwindle, there is no room for error. The USS Nimitz, which has just come off of a major refurbishment, was supposed to deploy early next year, but now major mechanical problems reportedly will delay that by months, with an immediate impact on American force posture. Meanwhile, the USS Eisenhower will return to Norfolk for repairs to its flight deck before it can return to the Persian Gulf.

Read More

During the third and final presidential debate, President Obama ridiculed Governor Romney’s arguments about the military. “Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines,” Obama quipped.

If Obama is not careful, he may soon need to revise his comments about aircraft carriers. While the Clinton administration found that the United States needed 12 aircraft carriers to adequately project power and fulfill both wartime and peaceful missions, that number slipped to 11 under the George W. Bush administration. Earlier this month, the USS Enterprise, the navy’s second-oldest ship, finished its final deployment and will be retired, leaving the Pentagon with 10. The problem is that when numbers dwindle, there is no room for error. The USS Nimitz, which has just come off of a major refurbishment, was supposed to deploy early next year, but now major mechanical problems reportedly will delay that by months, with an immediate impact on American force posture. Meanwhile, the USS Eisenhower will return to Norfolk for repairs to its flight deck before it can return to the Persian Gulf.

As the fleet ages—and with the uncertainty regarding on-time delivery of the USS Gerald Ford (due in 2015) and the USS John F. Kennedy (due in 2020)—the United States Navy may soon find itself in a real bind. We may have these things called aircraft carriers, as Obama condescendingly remarked, but someone ought to remind the president that there have got to be enough in working order if they are to serve the purpose for which they were built.

Read Less

Will Obama Duplicate Iraq Errors in Afghanistan?

Kim and Fred Kagan have a typically trenchant op-ed in the Washington Post today on the minimal force requirements necessary for post-2014 Afghanistan. Bottom line up front: They argue a force of at least 30,000 personnel will be needed for a bare-bones counterterrorism and advisory mission.

They begin by assuming that the U.S. will need three major bases outside Kabul–in Jalalabad, Khost, and Kandahar. Each base will require a battalion of ground troops, primarily for protection, and a battalion of combat-aviation to enable drone strikes and operations by Special Mission Units. That adds up to two brigades, or 10,000 troops. Add in 5,000 or so logisticians to keep those bases supplied and you’re up to 15,000. To prevent the areas around those bases from going to hell, it will also be necessary to send some advisors to the local Afghan army and police headquarters. That adds another 6,000 or so personnel. If you add in “the security forces for a base near Kabul, a theater headquarters, route-clearance packages, theater logisticians and other ancillary units,” you are pushing “the requirement above 30,000.”

Read More

Kim and Fred Kagan have a typically trenchant op-ed in the Washington Post today on the minimal force requirements necessary for post-2014 Afghanistan. Bottom line up front: They argue a force of at least 30,000 personnel will be needed for a bare-bones counterterrorism and advisory mission.

They begin by assuming that the U.S. will need three major bases outside Kabul–in Jalalabad, Khost, and Kandahar. Each base will require a battalion of ground troops, primarily for protection, and a battalion of combat-aviation to enable drone strikes and operations by Special Mission Units. That adds up to two brigades, or 10,000 troops. Add in 5,000 or so logisticians to keep those bases supplied and you’re up to 15,000. To prevent the areas around those bases from going to hell, it will also be necessary to send some advisors to the local Afghan army and police headquarters. That adds another 6,000 or so personnel. If you add in “the security forces for a base near Kabul, a theater headquarters, route-clearance packages, theater logisticians and other ancillary units,” you are pushing “the requirement above 30,000.”

That is not a grandiose objective; it is a bare minimum. As the Kagans write: “At that level U.S. forces in Afghanistan could do nothing beyond the minimum necessary to allow us to continue counterterrorism operations in South Asia: no nation-building, no effort to affect the Afghan political process or help the Afghans secure presidential elections in 2014, no development assistance; only defensive operations against the Taliban and other insurgent groups from three bases.”

Their math adds up. It is indeed similar to my own calculation that 25,000 to 35,000 troops would be needed–a figure echoed by other serious security analysts. So it is with some alarm that I read reports that the administration may have settled on keeping only 10,000 troops. Such a force would have trouble doing much beyond keeping itself supplied and secure; it would be hard-put to have much of an impact against the major terrorist networks that call Afghanistan and Pakistan home. If such a decision has indeed been made, it is hard to see how it can be justified on the merits: the Kagans’ calculations are hard to dispute. But sound as the Kagans’ strategic thinking may be, it does not accord with what passes for political wisdom in the White House, where war-weary politicos are eager to draw as many troops out as quickly as possible, without fully thinking through the consequences of their actions.

One consequence they should consider is that, given how little a force of 10,000 could contribute to the long-term security of the government of Afghanistan, it is by no means a sure thing that Hamid Karzai will make the necessary concessions, in particular granting U.S. troops complete immunity from Afghan prosecution, that are necessary to conclude a Status of Forces Agreement. We could in fact be heading for an Iraq Redux disaster, wherein the Obama administration squanders the goodwill of our local ally by not making a real commitment to its future, thereby torpedoing diplomatic negotiations on a long-term U.S. presence. If that were to happen in Afghanistan, it would be an even bigger disaster than in Iraq because Afghanistan remains our best–indeed virtually our only base–to strike into the heart of terror in Pakistan, as SEAL Team Six did with its raid on Osama bin Laden.

Read Less

Don’t Give Turkey Patriot Missiles

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu continues to lambaste Israel for fighting back against the barrage of rockets and missiles Hamas launched at Israel in recent weeks and months. “Turkey cannot agree with Obama’s saying that Israel was using its right of self-defense,” Davutoğlu told CNNTürk.

The foreign minister’s comments come against the backdrop of Turkey demanding that the United States provide Turkey with Patriot missiles to defend Turkey against the threat of Syrian rockets. It’s time for the White House to demand that Turkey be consistent. It is ridiculous for Turkey to complain about Kurdistan Workers Party [PKK] terrorism and expect others to isolate the group (which now fights a military insurgency) while it embraces and empowers Hamas. Likewise, it is ludicrous to condemn Israel for its refusal to tolerate terrorists launching missiles at it, while at the same time Turkey seeks the same right of self-defense.

Read More

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu continues to lambaste Israel for fighting back against the barrage of rockets and missiles Hamas launched at Israel in recent weeks and months. “Turkey cannot agree with Obama’s saying that Israel was using its right of self-defense,” Davutoğlu told CNNTürk.

The foreign minister’s comments come against the backdrop of Turkey demanding that the United States provide Turkey with Patriot missiles to defend Turkey against the threat of Syrian rockets. It’s time for the White House to demand that Turkey be consistent. It is ridiculous for Turkey to complain about Kurdistan Workers Party [PKK] terrorism and expect others to isolate the group (which now fights a military insurgency) while it embraces and empowers Hamas. Likewise, it is ludicrous to condemn Israel for its refusal to tolerate terrorists launching missiles at it, while at the same time Turkey seeks the same right of self-defense.

The only difference between Israel and Turkey, it seems, is that Israel seeks to minimize civilian casualties when it conducts counter-terror operations while Turkey has killed upwards of 40,000 Kurds. Until Turkey rectifies such inconsistencies in its policies, neither the United States nor NATO should provide them with further assistance.

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.