Belmont Club

Belmont Club

Honor is Whatever You Can Still Betray

July 27th, 2015 - 7:14 pm

Everything old eventually becomes new again.  Time Magazine begins its description of the “no fly zone” the Obama administration will implement over Syria by recalling how the same concept was implemented over Iraq from 1991 to 2003.   Wikipedia notes  ”the Iraqi no-fly zones were a set of two separate no-fly zones (NFZs), and were proclaimed by the United States, United Kingdom, and France after the Gulf War of 1991 to protect the Kurds in northern Iraq and Shiite Muslims in the south.”  Though Time doesn’t mention it, readers may recall another “no-fly-zone” declared over Libya, ostensibly to “protect civilians” and to implement an “arms embargo”.

Retired Marine General Anthony Zinni, “who oversaw the Iraqi no-fly zones as chief of U.S. Central Command from 1997 to 2000″ thinks the nomenclature in this instance is inaccurate. “It’s not a no-fly zone—it’s a bombing campaign,” Zinni said.  Patrick Cockburn of the Independent actually believes its the Kurds who are about who’s going to get bombed by the Turks for the most part.  ”Whatever America was hoping for, initial signs are that the Turkish government may be more interested in moving against the Kurds in Turkey, Syria and Iraq than it is in attacking Isis. Ankara has previously said that it considers both the PKK and Isis to be ‘terrorists’.”

And indeed, not just the PKK but the YPG Turks complain they are now feeling the lash of Turkish might. The BBC reports: “the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) say Turkish tanks shelled their fighters near Kobane in northern Syria”.

If the claims are true, this will complicate matters for the coalition against IS as Western powers are co-operating with Syrian Kurds against the jihadists, says the BBC’s Mark Lowen in Istanbul.

The administration has denied they have traded access to Turkish airbases in exchange for greenlighting Anakara’s attacks on the Kurds, claiming it was all a coincidence.

Brett McGurk, Mr. Obama’s deputy special presidential envoy for the campaign against the Islamic State, tweeted over the weekend that “there is no connection between these airstrikes and recent understandings to intensify U.S.-Turkey cooperation against ISIL.”

State Department spokesman John Kirby went further Monday. “I understand the coincidence of all this, but it is just that,” he said.

Just a coincidence. Happenstance or not, it’s clear that Turkey effectively gets a piece of former Syrian territory, albeit under the control of proxies in the process of carving out its “safe zones”. A team from the New York Times describes what is known about the plan, which appears to extend Turkish control over Syrian territory being fought over by Assad and ISIS.

Turkey and the United States have agreed in general terms on a plan that envisions American warplanes, Syrian insurgents and Turkish forces working together to sweep Islamic State militants from a 60-mile-long strip of northern Syria along the Turkish border, American and Turkish officials say.

The plan would create what officials from both countries are calling an Islamic State-free zone controlled by relatively moderate Syrian insurgents, which the Turks say could also be a “safe zone” for displaced Syrians. …

That is an ambitious military goal, because it appears to include areas of great strategic and symbolic importance to the Islamic State, and it could encompass areas that Syrian helicopters regularly bomb. If the zone goes 25 miles deep into Syria, as Turkish news outlets have reported, it could encompass the town of Dabiq, a significant place in the group’s apocalyptic theology, and Manbij, another stronghold. It could also include the Islamic State-held town of Al Bab, where barrel bombs dropped by Syrian aircraft have killed scores, including civilians, in recent weeks.

American officials emphasized that the depth of the buffer zone to be established was one of the important operational details that had yet to be decided. But one senior official said, “You can be assured many of the principal population centers will be covered.”

The plan does not envision Turkish ground troops entering Syria, although long-range artillery could be used across the border. Turkish ground forces would work on their side of the border to stem the Islamic State’s ability to infiltrate foreign fighters and supplies into Syria.

According to the Institute for the Study of War, the coincidence Kirby refers to had its genesis in  Turkish worries that growing Kurdish gains in Syria could be turned against them, agreed to give the US airbase access in exchange for the right to bottle up the Kurds.

The outlines of this agreement between the U.S. and Turkey appear to have been laid during a visit to Turkey by Gen. John Allen (ret.) and U.S. Undersecretary of Defense Christine Wormuth on July 7-8. Unconfirmed reports at the time suggested that the talks had resulted in preliminary approval for the coalition’s use of Incirlik Airbase after Turkey received assurances that the U.S. would consider Turkish proposals for a buffer zone in northern Syria and block any attempt by Syrian Kurdish forces to move into areas along the Turkish border west of the Euphrates River.

These accounts suggested that Turkey had offered a major concession by dropping its long-standing insistence that the international coalition expand its air campaign against ISIS to include airstrikes against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. This rebalancing suggests that recent developments may have led the Turkish government to prioritize the internal security threats posed by ISIS and the PKK over Turkey’s regional concerns regarding Iranian expansionism and the enduring presence of the Syrian regime.

(more…)

Ringed By Fire

July 26th, 2015 - 6:13 pm

In recent article,  George Friedman called Turkey a country ringed by conflagrations: “four major segments of the European and Asian landmass were in crisis: Europe, Russia, the Middle East (from the Levant to Iran) and China.”

Sitting at the center of these crisis zones is a country that until a few years ago maintained a policy of having no problems with its neighbors. Today, however, Turkey’s entire periphery is on fire. There is fighting in Syria and Iraq to the south, fighting to the north in Ukraine and an increasingly tense situation in the Black Sea. To the west, Greece is in deep crisis (along with the EU) and is a historic antagonist of Turkey. The Mediterranean has quieted down, but the Cyprus situation has not been fully resolved and tension with Israel has subsided but not disappeared. Anywhere Turkey looks there are problems. As important, there are three regions of Eurasia that Turkey touches: Europe, the Middle East and the former Soviet Union.

Last week Anakara’s policy of keeping the fires at arms’ length started to break down. “Turkey has called a special meeting of Nato ambassadors to discuss military operations against the Islamic State (IS) group and PKK Kurdish separatists,” invoking NATO’s article 4.

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told BBC World TV the Turkish request was based on Article 4 of the Nato Treaty which allows members to request such a meeting if their territorial integrity or security is threatened.

“When Turkey requests for such a meeting I think it’s very right and very timely to have a meeting where we address the turmoil and the instability we see in Syria, Iraq and surrounding and close to Nato borders of Turkey.” …

Turkey launched air attacks against IS militants in Syria and resumed air raids against PKK camps in northern Iraq following recent attacks.

In one attack blamed on IS, 32 people were killed in a suicide bombing near the Syrian border on 20 July.

The PKK killed Turkish police in the wake of the bombing in retaliation for what they saw as Turkey’s collaboration with IS.

The raids against Kurdish separatist camps in northern Iraq in effect ended a two-year ceasefire. Turkish fighter jets launched a new wave on Sunday against PKK targets in northern Iraq, according to Turkish state media.

The situation is no longer stable; Assad is visibly on the ropes. Hugh Naylor of the Washington Post reports that Bashar Assad has confessed he no longer has the men to keep the old Syrian Arab state alive. Things are so bad that Assad has proclaimed an amnesty for deserters who return to their duties.  Unless Assad can refill the ranks he must withdraw to a rump state or get ready for the meat freezer.

As Martin Chulov of the Guardian notes, Anakara was like a juggler with a dozen plates spinning in the air. Now it must choose which plates to catch. Turkish airstrikes conducted in retaliation for a massive ISIS car bomb also threaten to undermine the secret deal between Ankara and the Jihadists in Syria.  Erdogan’s  resumption of hostilities on the Kurdish PKK party also ends a ceasefire that had been in place since 2013.

the peace process sputtered last month, prompting waves of small-scale violence as Kurds grew frustrated over what they saw as the government’s inadequate response to their demands. That sudden shift occurred as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was trying to bolster nationalist support before parliamentary elections in June.

Turkey’s resumption of raids on the P.K.K. in Iraq has heightened tensions even further — and has effectively ended the cease-fire.

“The truce has no meaning anymore after these intense airstrikes by the occupant Turkish army,” the P.K.K. said on its website on Saturday.

The offensive in Iraq was carried out as part of a double-pronged counterterrorism operation that simultaneously attacked Islamic State targets inside Syria. In a major tactical shift last week, Turkey assumed an active role in the United States-led campaign against the Islamic State, plunging into its first direct cross-border confrontations with the militants and granting the Americans access to air bases for carrying out sorties in Syria.

By calling a NATO meeting, Erdogan is passing the dilemma over to the Obama administration. Washington needs Turkish airbases to maintain its drone attacks on ISIS.  Yet to side with Anakara might mean selling out the Kurds, who have so far been Washington’s most reliable ally on the ground against ISIS. In recent a meeting with Kurdish leaders, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter called the peshmerga “the model of what we are trying to achieve”.

He said U.S. ground and air forces could defeat ISIS on their own, but the success would not last.

“We’re trying to get a defeat that sticks,” he told a group of several dozen troops. “And that can be delivered only by the people that live here,” adding, “that’s the secret sauce.”

Should Washington imperil the Turkish airbase support or give should it flush the “secret sauce” provided by the Kurds down the drain? To make things more complicated, the administration also needs Turkey’s help in its ongoing confrontation with Russia. Last week the Independent reported Washington threatened to “punish Russia by starving off its access to western credit if President Putin does not meet demands for peace in Ukraine.”  At the same time the administration tried to throw Putin a bone by supporting a Ukrainian constitutional amendment which might allow parts of the country to secede to Russia, in exchange for (it was believed in Kiev) Moscow’s support for Obama’s Iran deal.

Friedman believes that “the United States is constructing an alliance system that includes the Baltics, Poland and Romania … designed to contain any potential Russian advance [with] Turkey [as] the logical southern anchor”.  He forgot to add: “construct the alliance by buying everyone off with everyone else’s money”.   One example of a buy-off is the Washington Post‘s report that Jonathan Pollard might be released in November.

The prospect of Pollard’s release is likely to be seen as a major concession by the Obama administration to Israel at a time when the White House is lobbying intensely to prevent ­pro-Israel groups from derailing a recently negotiated agreement with Iran over its nuclear program.

Thus the Iran deal is paid for by skimming a little from Ukraine and Israeli public opinion is purchased by releasing Pollard.  Ironically this process the administration may inadvertently draw it into the very conflicts from which it is attempting to free itself.  For example, the Wall Street Journal’s Dion Nissenbaum and Emre Peker describe a  deal Washington struck with Ankara involving a “no fly zone” over parts of Syria and a “safe haven” for factions in the war.

(more…)

Round One

July 24th, 2015 - 5:20 pm

Something is setting the cat among the pigeons. The New York Times reported that a “Criminal Inquiry Is Sought in Clinton Email Account” in connection with the mishandling of classified material.   A reproof from the Clinton campaign caused the New York Times to issue what it called a correction.

In a correction appended to the Times article online, editors acknowledged having “misstated the nature of the referral” related to Clinton’s email use, which the paper had described as “criminal.” Though a Department of Justice official initially told reporters the referral was “criminal” in nature after the Times story was published, the agency reversed course and said it was not. Times editors also wrote that the referral from two inspectors general did not “specifically request an investigation” into Clinton.

By midday, the paper was under withering criticism from progressives online, who accused it of sparking a wave of outrage over ultimately faulty charges. Other nonpartisan sources were suggesting that Republicans on the Select Committee investigating the 2012 attacks on the compound in Benghazi were behind the inaccurate leak.

The Clinton onset included an attack by David Brock of Media Matters on the Times. “Media Matters founder David Brock is once again going after The New York Times for its reporting on Hillary Clinton, and today the Times hit back.”

In other instances earlier this year, Brock called out Times reports on how Clinton used private email as Secretary of State, and even said that the Times shouldn’t “outsource your journalism to Rupert Murdoch‘s publishing house.” Brock today released a public letter to the Times, calling them out for an “extraordinarily troubling pattern… of flawed reporting” when it comes to Clinton. He runs down a list of examples, including the aforementioned, before getting to the flap over their report today on an IG referral over Clinton’s emails. … The Times fired back in a brief statement to Washington Post media reporter Erik Wemple:

David Brock is a partisan. It is not surprising that he is unhappy with some of our aggressive coverage of important political figures. We are proud of that coverage and obviously disagree with his opinion.

The troubles are bipartisan. No one could have missed Ted Cruz pointing a finger at Mitch McConnell calling him a low down … purveyor of falsehoods.  Calling a fellow member a liar was formerly unheard of in the gentleman’s club that is the US Senate.  But for Cruz it was either that or accept being tarred by association.

Cruz voted for Obamatrade’s Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) the first go-around in the Senate based on McConnell’s word—and he famously turned against the fast-track trade authority later…. “My staff told that afternoon he’s lying to you,” Cruz said.

That’s what my staff said. We have been around the Senate a long time. He is not telling you the truth. And what I told my staff that afternoon, I said well, I don’t know if that’s the case or not, but I don’t see how when the Majority Leader looks me in the eyes and makes an explicit promise — and by the way, looks in the eyes of every other Republican Senator and says that to every other Republican Senator, I don’t see how I cannot take him at his word when he makes an explicit promise. As a result, I cast my vote in May in support of TPA because I support free trade and I felt I had no choice but to assume that when the Majority Leader spoke to 54 Republican Senators and made an explicit promise that he wasn’t lying to us.

Though it is less well publicized readers may nevertheless be aware that Cruz is involved in another attack on the leadership, this time with regard to Obamacare subsidies paid to the legislators based on what he believes is a fraudulent declaration that Congress is a “small business”.

Democrat against Democrat.  Republican against Republican. Pretty soon it’ll be Marvel vs DC. What’s driving this outbreak of conflict? Is there a highly contagious, rage-inducing virus in the district water supply? Or are we watching formerly stable political coalitions beginning to fall apart? Here’s the case for collapsing coalitions.

(more…)

Dependence Day

July 23rd, 2015 - 4:57 pm

This argument between Ted Cruz and Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin over the Iran deal is an interesting contrast in logical styles.  Cruz reasons the deal is bad because it gives Tehran $100 billion that it will use to continue its war against America.  By contrast, Benjamin says that since Obama and all the right thinking people think the deal is good then it must be.  How can you, Ted Cruz, think differently from all these super-smart people?

The debate reflects the age-old conflict between an argument from reason and an argument from authority.  It’s a real contest because while Western civilization pays lip service to “evidence based” policy, in practice most human beings rely on social proof to decide what to believe.

Social proof is a type of conformity. When a person is in a situation where they are unsure of the correct way to behave, they will often look to others for cues concerning the correct behavior.  …  and is driven by the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about the situation.

The search for “social proof” as a determinant of conviction is not wholly crazy. Few of us can say why a pharmaceutical works.  But if the doctor prescribes a pill, we drink it without question. Most of the world is preoccupied with making a living and consequently have a high level of rational ignorance. “Rational ignorance occurs when the cost of educating oneself on an issue exceeds the potential benefit that the knowledge would provide.”  It takes too long for us to figure things out from first principles, so we find a “smart man” and do what he tells us.

Many people spend 15 minutes every four years thinking about foreign policy or politics. Since it would take too much time for them to examine the issues themselves they rely on proxy indicators to inform their choice. Some people have faith in Donald Trump, others in Bernie Sanders. Medea Benjamin happens to believe in Barack Obama.

Ignorance about an issue is said to be “rational” when the cost of educating oneself about the issue sufficiently to make an informed decision can outweigh any potential benefit one could reasonably expect to gain from that decision, and so it would be irrational to waste time doing so. This has consequences for the quality of decisions made by large numbers of people, such as general elections, where the probability of any one vote changing the outcome is very small.

(more…)

Agent Provocateur

July 23rd, 2015 - 6:13 am

The secret to understanding Donald Trump’s appeal may lie in understanding Bernie Sanders’. The problem that political pundits are trying to explain is why Trump, who in their judgment should be anathema, is doing so well in the polls. Chuck Todd thinks it’s style. He’s “a refreshing figure who is unafraid to fight back”. But style doesn’t entirely explain why voters are willing to forgive his very real missteps. The Wall Street Journal’s Dante Chinni attempts to formulate a theory for his popularity in Iowa.

Iowa, home of the first presidential nominating contest every four years, is more than rolling cornfields. It’s a complicated mix of rural agriculture (the western half of the state), small-town union country (in the east), college towns (Iowa City and Ames) and a metropolitan center (Des Moines).

And for right now, wherever you go, it is all about Donald Trump. The brash businessman might seem an odd fit for the staid, pastoral Iowa that people see in their mind’s eye. But people across the state say his supporters here don’t seem dissuaded by his squabbling with much of the rest of the Republican field.

One clue to unraveling the mystery is the candidacy Bernie Sanders. Like Trump, the Democrat with no chance is doing surprisingly well in the polls against Hillary Clinton. In the elegant prose of Allen Rappeport of the New York Times, Clinton has “shown weakness” in the polling against her rivals.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is showing some signs of weakness against potential Republican rivals in three swing states, according to a poll from Quinnipiac University that could raise concern within the Democrat’s campaign.

The survey found that Mrs. Clinton is lagging behind Senator Marco Rubio, Gov. Scott Walker and former Gov. Jeb Bush in head-to-head matchups in Iowa, Colorado and Virginia, three swing states. Her favorability ratings have declined and voters are increasingly questioning her leadership abilities.

Perhaps the reason both are doing “unexpectedly” — this is the word of the decade for the Obama administration — well against the field is because both represent, in their own way, a rebellion against the status quo. In fact Chinni says Trump’s popularity remains high because of “Trump’s business background and his desire to say things others won’t”.  You could probably find a Democratic source willing to make an equivalent assertion about Sanders.

Both have decided to keep talking about what polite circles have deemed unspeakable. Trump is willing to say illegal immigration sucks and Sanders is not afraid to assert Obamacare is a disaster.  Both assertions are unsurprisingly, widely supported, probably because large numbers of people are thinking exactly the same thing, leading to the possibility that voters like both not so much for their platforms as much because they’ve found someone who is willing to actually fight back.

The disaffected have been waiting for someone to give voice to their secret resentments for so long they’re willing to forgive both men their rough edges. Against their better judgment the crowd is rising to its feet and cheering on the men who were supposed to lose. It’s like one of those moments in a boxing movie when the hero finally starts punching back against the merciless beating being administered by the hulking Drago and turns what everyone in the crowd had taken to be a foregone conclusion or a fixed fight  into a real bout.

(more…)

Worlds Lost and Found

July 21st, 2015 - 5:32 pm

Here are some news snippets from all around the world.

It’s a snapshot of  interesting but strange times.  Everything’s fine, but we seem just a step from disaster, trapped in a web of our own deceit, the prisoners of our own wishful thinking.   It’s as if our present civilization were engaged in a battle of wits against itself, in a kind of parody of the scene from the Princess Bride.  We poisoned a cup thinking to exterminate our enemies, now we can’t remember which cup it is.
(more…)

Dig Amigo

July 19th, 2015 - 5:46 pm

Although the recent draft nuclear pact is often called the P5+1 agreement with Iran, it is to a large extent  an agreement between the P5+1 (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus Germany, and the European Union)  themselves.   It sets out what the sanctions enforcers will not do, contingent on certain behavior by Iran.   If this were a movie the scene would would involve the Man with No Name and Tuco:

Man with No Name: Drop your gun and I’ll tell where the hundred billion dollars is buried. Then you can buy what you want from Vlad and Xi there, and mebbee from me. The only catch is you’re not allowed to buy the same kind of gun that you dropped.

Tuco: Tell me amigo, why are you doing this?

Man with No Name: ‘Cause you’re the only guy who can legally spend it.  And me and my partners here, let’s say that we think we can do business.

Tuco: Once I get the hundred billion in gold, then you don’t own me no more. With that kind of money, I will own you!!

Man with No Name: I never thought of that before.

Tuco: Too late amigo, I dropped my gun. You should have thought faster. Now you gotta let me go. You promised. And remember.  A gringo’s promise is a promise.

Once he drops the gun, the P5+1 group is bound by the agreement more strongly than Tuco.  And those bonds will grow even stronger once the bandido starts buying supplies from members of the coalition with the gold.  The frozen assets were a piggy bank just waiting to be busted open, as Defense News notes:

ABU DHABI — Arabian Gulf countries are closely watching Iran’s anticipated re-integration into the international community as it may develop into a Russian-Chinese-Western battleground for arms sales, regional experts said.

Since the announcement of the Lausanne agreement, Russia has lifted its weapons exports ban to Iran and announced it will supply the S-300 missile system purchased in 2010.

And on April 5, the head of the Iran-China Joint Chamber of Commerce, Asadollah Asgaroladi, announced that Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Iran in the “near future,” according to the Fars press agency.

Then it won’t be “Tuco” anymore, but Señor Tuco. And it won’t simply just be Christmas in July for the arms manufacturer either. The Associated Press writes, “After nuke deal, Iran may splurge on new Boeing planes”.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iran’s president has pointed to another possible windfall from the nuclear deal with world powers – his country may soon be able to buy badly needed new planes for its aging fleet, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Iran’s Transportation Minister Abbas Akhoundi has said there have been talks with Boeing and Airbus and that initial agreements will likely come in a few months’ time.

“We will provide new aircraft for Iran,” Akhoundi said.

Last month at the Paris Air Show, Akhoundi said Iran was prepared to spend about $20 billion to purchase about 400 new planes over the next decade.

(more…)

Two Doctors

July 18th, 2015 - 3:59 am

Two doctors, one Republican, the other a Democrat have expounded contrasting philosophies of medicine in two published articles.  The Democrat, Dr. Ezekiel Emmanuel, one of the main architects of Obamacare, authored a widely cited article in the Atlantic titled Why I Hope to Die at 75,  ”an argument that society and families—and you—will be better off if nature takes its course swiftly and promptly.”

In the other philosophical corner is Dr. Tom Coburn, former Senator from Oklahoma who testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness on the necessity of clearing a path through the bureaucracy to permit 21st century medicine to flourish.

The two articles emphasize different things, neither to the mutual exclusion of the other.  ”Why I Hope to Die at 75″ advocates providing a kind of mass produced, good-enough medicine for all, or at least for most.  Death and decrepitude he seems to argue, will win in the end.  The proper role of medicine is to give humanity a run of carefree life before the End.

Coburns testimony, by contrast, puts more weight on innovation.  Death and decreptitude may win — for the present — but his rule is not for always.  It is medicine’s task he seems to say, to force the Grim Reaper back, step by step, as far as he will yield.

Interestingly, Emmanuel though  quite content to live only a few more years, is himself seemingly well. “Today I am, as far as my physician and I know, very healthy, with no chronic illness. I just climbed Kilimanjaro with two of my nephews.” But that does not change his self imposed deadline. “I am sure of my position. Doubtless, death is a loss. It deprives us of experiences and milestones, of time spent with our spouse and children. In short, it deprives us of all the things we value.”

But here is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.

By the time I reach 75, I will have lived a complete life. I will have loved and been loved. My children will be grown and in the midst of their own rich lives. I will have seen my grandchildren born and beginning their lives. I will have pursued my life’s projects and made whatever contributions, important or not, I am going to make. And hopefully, I will not have too many mental and physical limitations. Dying at 75 will not be a tragedy. Indeed, I plan to have my memorial service before I die. And I don’t want any crying or wailing, but a warm gathering filled with fun reminiscences, stories of my awkwardness, and celebrations of a good life. After I die, my survivors can have their own memorial service if they want—that is not my business.

Coburn on the other hand, is a three time cancer survivor with an almost visceral grudge against death. Maybe this biases his point of view. “The battle is personal for me in many ways. As a physician, I see elderly patients suffering from symptoms of early dementia, and eventually Alzheimer’s, without a real treatment in sight. The burden of the disease falls not only on patients, but on their families and caregivers. Their plight is agonizing. And I can’t offer them any effective treatments.”

(more…)

The Noises in the Basement

July 16th, 2015 - 3:18 pm

In the last 24 hours the news has been dominated by president Obama’s outrage at an newsman for asking him about four US hostages left in Iranian custody despite his deal.  Someone was raining on his parade, ruining his moment of historic achievement and legacy.

But in other news, ISIS sank an Egyptian naval vessel, attacked France which thwarted a second attack on a military base, the Philippines has reopened the old US Naval base at Subic, the Japanese armed forces are now authorized for combat for the first time since World War 2.  Meanwhile, a person identified as Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez attacked a military recruitment depot in Chattanooga, killing four and wounding a police officer, before being killed himself. A website reports that an ISIS related site is tweeted “Chattanooga” at the same time as the attack.

An ISIS-related account tweeted “O American dogs soon YOU will see the wonders,” and used #Chattanooga, at 10:34 a.m., just about the same time police say the shooting began, according to JihadWatch.org.

The suspect in Chattanooga, like the man arrested in a plot to recreate the Boston Marathon bombing, is apparently the son of a police officer.  The Times Free Press has details.

Police in Hixson kicked a reporter out of the neighborhood that contained a house apparently owned by Abdulazeez. The reporter saw a SWAT team and FBI agents staging at a nearby strip mall. The house, which Hamilton County records is owned by Youssuf S. Abdulazeez, is appraised at $206,100 by the Hamilton County Assessor of Property.

Abdulazeez allegedly killed four Marines and shot one police officer in the attack at Amnicola Highway. A soldier and a police officer were wounded in the attack, according to the Associated Press. Dennis Pedigo, a Chattanooga police officer, is in stable condition.

Abdulazeez’s father, Youssuf Abdullazeez, was appointed as a “special policeman” for Chattanooga’s Department of Public Works in March 2005.

A woman who attended Red Bank High School with Abdulazeez said he was a quiet kid, but well-liked.

“He was friendly, funny, kind,” said Kagan Wagner. “I never would have thought it would would be him.”

She added that their whole family seemed normal.

“They were your average Chattanooga family,” she said.

The flurry of incidents is probably only coincidental, but the confluence of occurrences suggest that the world has suddenly turned some dreadful corner to come face to face with all the nightmares our politician’s fantasies, denials and lies have assured the public do not exist.  Before long the media will probably return the focus to really important news, like whether it is a crime to disagree with the Left on Twitter or the latest exploits of the former Bruce Jenner.

(more…)

Obama’s World

July 15th, 2015 - 5:16 am

Here is a round-up of media coverage of the recently concluded Iran deal. Various pundits try to predict what it effect it will have on America and the world.

What Key Players Are Saying About the Iran Nuclear Deal according to the NYT.

“We are confident that the world today breathed a sigh of relief.” — PRESIDENT VLADIMIR V. PUTIN, who emphasized Russia’s plans to be a major partner with Iran in the development of its “exclusively peaceful” nuclear program.

“We have no doubt that the coming days will see momentum for the constructive role of the Iranian Islamic republic to support the rights of the people and strengthen the bases of peace.” — PRESIDENT BASHAR AL-ASSAD, according to the Syrian state news service, SANA.

The deal is “a historic mistake for the world” and will allow Iran ‘‘to continue to pursue its aggression and terror in the region.’’ — PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, who has said that a deal will eventually pave the way for Iran to quickly produce multiple bombs and ultimately become a “terrorist nuclear superpower.”

The Dawn of Iranian Empire, Max Boot.

What this means is that Iran will soon have more than $100 billion extra to spend not only on exporting the Iranian revolution and dominating neighboring states (Gen. Soleimani’s job) but that it will also before long be free to purchase as many weapons — even ballistic missiles — as it likes on the world market. No wonder Vladimir Putin appears to be happy: This deal is likely to become a windfall for Russian arms makers, although you can be sure that Iran will also spread its largesse to manufacturers in France and, if possible, the UK so as to give those countries an extra stake in not re-imposing sanctions.

What Does the Iran Deal Mean for Syria? — Carnegie Endowment

Russia and China are now both angling to get into the Iranian arms market, which is sure to swell once oil money starts flooding back into government coffers in Tehran. Some commentators have estimated that Russia could be looking at $13 billion in arms export earnings and no one will be shocked to learn that the Kremlin has been pushing to lift arms sanctions immediately after an agreement. …

Still, in some ways, Iran’s military is already benefitting from the deal. In April, Russian President Vladimir Putin pointed to progress in the nuclear talks as his reason for lifting a ban on sales of the S-300, a powerful air defense system long sought by the Iranians as a means of offsetting Israeli and American air superiority.

In Arab World, Worries That Deal Will Boost Iran’s Power — Associated Press

The nuclear deal with Iran was met with a profound wariness in the Arab world, where concerns are widespread that the easing of its international isolation could tip the already bloody contest for power in the region toward Shiite-led Tehran.

Arab countries have deep fears of Iran gaining a nuclear weapon, and some have been skeptical that a deal will prevent that from happening. But equally high for key Sunni-dominated Gulf allies of the United States is the worry that a deal gives Iran the means — through an economic windfall — and an implicit green light to push influence in the region.

Iran: We Won — Daily Beast

Iran declared it won the decade-long struggle with the West to rein in its nuclear program after it signed an agreement with the U.S. and five world powers Tuesday. “To our neighbours: Do not be deceived by the propaganda of the warmongering Zionist regime. #Iran & its power will translate into your power,” President Hassan Rouhani tweeted. During a state TV address, Rouhani said Iran had achieved all of its objectives through negotiations. “All the sanctions, even arms embargoes and missile-related sanctions… would all be lifted,” he said.

(more…)