Ron Radosh

Ron Radosh

Will Hillary Succeed in Burying the Latest Scandal?

April 23rd, 2015 - 9:33 am

This morning, too late for its print edition, the New York Times broke a major story about Hillary Clinton that is likely to grow and haunt her for the duration of her campaign. The story documents the millions of dollars donated to the Clinton Foundation by Canadian company Uranium One, which was seeking to sell American uranium mines to the Russians. The deal required approval by the Department of State — while Hillary Clinton was secretary of State.

The Times reports:

[T]he sale gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States. Since uranium is considered a strategic asset, with implications for national security, the deal had to be approved by a committee composed of representatives from a number of United States government agencies. Among the agencies that eventually signed off was the State Department, then headed by Mr. Clinton’s wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well … Whether the donations played any role in the approval of the uranium deal is unknown. But the episode underscores the special ethical challenges presented by the Clinton Foundation, headed by a former president who relied heavily on foreign cash to accumulate $250 million in assets even as his wife helped steer American foreign policy as secretary of state, presiding over decisions with the potential to benefit the foundation’s donors.

Shortly after the Russians announced that they intended to acquire a majority interest in the company, Bill Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank — that had links to the Kremlin — which was promoting the firm’s stock.

The story is not going away, and this time the mainstream media is on the case.

Moreover, the reporters writing the Times’ story, Jo Becker and Mike McIntire, give full credit in the article to the research of and material detailed in the new book by Peter Schweizer, the Hoover Institution’s former fellow and author of Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich. The reporters noted that Schweizer “provided a preview of material in the book,” and then encouraged them to scrutinize his information and build upon it with their own reporting.

As usual, the response of the Clinton team is to go with the old “great right-wing conspiracy” scenario used by Hillary Clinton during the impeachment drama surrounding her husband’s presidency.

On Morning Joe today, former Governor of Vermont and presidential hopeful Howard Dean used that tactic, arguing that the Schweizer story was just another right-wing hit job, although he acknowledged that as yet he had not even read the Times report, which had just gone online.

Dean, instead of arguing with Schweizer’s facts and research, emphasized that part of Schweizer’s funding came from an individual who was a major contributor to Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign. Jeremy Peters, the paper’s Washington, D.C. bureau chief, let him know that he was quite angry at Dean’s insult to his colleagues. Dean, he said, had no evidence that they had not done their job well.

And last night, Rachel Maddow took the same tack on her MSNBC program, as her website notes that “Peter Schweitzer (sic) … has a history of producing partisan misinformation and wonders why otherwise legitimate news outlets are giving him any credulous treatment.”

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Obama Forgets the Past at Our Peril

April 20th, 2015 - 9:34 am

Every day brings more evidence that President Obama is conducting his foreign policy under a kind of delusion. He believes that making concessions to tyrants, making deals with them, will bring about a peaceful world. He thinks this will earn him a legacy he can be proud of, thus saving him from leaving office with a disastrous foreign policy record.

At last week’s Pan-American Conference, Obama met with Cuban dictator Raul Castro and expressed his desire to forge a new U.S. policy towards Cuba. “This is obviously an historic meeting,” the president said to Fidel Castro’s brother. Castro responded: “We are willing to discuss everything, but we need to be patient, very patient. … We might disagree on something today on which we could agree tomorrow.”

Indeed, he expects that Obama will eventually accept many, if not all, of the Cuban regime’s demands.

Even before the two met, Castro publicly demanded that the United States hand the Guantanamo naval base to Cuba and stop interfering in Cuba’s internal politics. He listed all the affronts to Cuba for which the U.S. had to apologize before any real progress could occur. Indeed, the Cuban dictator demanded that the U.S. embargo be formally suspended, that broadcasts to Cuba from Radio and T.V. Marti from the United States end, and that the U.S. give “just compensation to our people for the human and economic damage that they’ve suffered.”

In a move to show Castro that he was listening, our president took Cuba off of the State Department’s list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.

He removed them even as the leaders of Colombia’s Marxist narco-terrorists violated their agreement to a ceasefire and resumed fighting and killing Colombians; he removed them while these leaders were sitting in Cuba as honored guests of the regime. And, as James Kirchick reminds us, Cuba also has been smuggling valuable munitions into North Korea.

What did we get in return? It appears we got nada. Cuba did not agree to honor human rights, end the constant arrests and persecution of dissidents, or institute democratic procedures leading eventually to nationwide free elections.

The president’s constant refrain is that the Cold War “has been over for a long time, and I’m not interested in having battles that, frankly, started before I was born.”

His statement is reminiscent of his statements during the 2008 campaign, when he was charged with associating with terrorists like Weather Underground leader Bill Ayers, and candidate Obama responded that what Ayers did took place long ago.

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Domestic critics of the Iranian nuclear “framework” are gaining ground. One problem is that John Kerry and the administration’s version of what is in the framework differs from Iran’s understanding.  As Michael Gordon wrote in a front page story in the New York Times, “there are two versions,” or as he put it, “noteworthy differences” between the U.S. and the Iranian version of what transpired. Indeed, Iran’s chief negotiator, Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif, denies that any agreement has been reached.

As a result of these discrepancies, Obama is going to have an even harder time selling it to Congress than he had before the announcement of the framework. This poses a problem for both the Democratic Party and his administration. The president assumed that he would be able to bypass Congress altogether or render them ineffectual in obtaining a final nuclear deal with Iran.  He did not seem to take into account that Republicans won a majority of both houses in 2014.  Nor did he grasp the fact that many in Congress, both Democrat and Republican, resented being bypassed and ignored for seven years and having their constitutional responsibilities usurped. Congressional pushback came in the form of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Act of 2015, put forth with bipartisan support by the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn). Congressionally mandated sanctions helped bring Iran to the table, Corker argues, and so Congress must have a say in removing them as well as a role in overseeing Iranian compliance with any agreement.

Obama also miscalculated his handling of Netanyahu and Israel and the ramifications of his hostility toward Jewish voters. After Netanyahu appeared before Congress, Obama and others in his administration decided to wage a virtual war against Israel. An anonymous top administration official called Israel’s prime minister a “chicken…t” and a “coward,” and Obama himself ignored Netanyahu’s just concerns, and accused all those opposed to his policies of desiring a Middle East war. The attacks continued even after Netanyahu won the election and in spite of the administration’s efforts to defeat him.  Obama appears to have been living under the illusion that J Street, a group he has been touting, is representative of American Jewry. In fact, J Street, which purports to be a “pro-Israel, pro-peace” organization, has from its start functioned as a surrogate for the White House in the Jewish community. It opposed and lobbied against any sanctions on Iran when they were first proposed, and just this week, signed a joint statement on behalf of the announced framework with both the Arab American Institute and the National Iranian American Council, calling it a “historic agreement.”

Since the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jewish Americans have been counted on to be loyal Democrats, but that might be beginning to change. As a result of the administration’s attacks on Israel’s prime minister, the very real threat that Iran poses towards Israel, and the backdrop of growing anti-Semitism in Europe, there seems to be a backlash. Suddenly fearing a revolt of Jewish Democrats, Obama’s national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, was dispatched to meet with some Jewish members of Congress. He was told, Politico reported, that Obama and his aides had to stop blaming Netanyahu for holding up the peace process, while saying nothing about the role Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had played in its failure.  The administration’s attacks on Netanyahu were perceived as being vindictive and gratuitous. One of the congressmen said, “You want us to go out and say the administration’s got Israel’s back.  How are you going to get us to say that when our constituents believe that the administration is stabbing Israel in the back?”

According to Peter Nicholas, writing in the Wall Street Journal, Obama’s policies and hostility towards Israel “are creating a rift in the durable alliance between Jews and the Democratic Party in the run-up to the 2016 elections.” When Jewish Democratic House members met with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, they told him that Obama had to do something to increase his popularity among Jewish voters. They urged that he tell his boss to “soften his tone” towards Netanyahu. Rep. Nita Lowey, a New York Democratic member of Congress, told McDonough that she was “extremely disturbed” by “overheated” rhetoric coming from the White House. The election returns showed that in the 2006 midterm elections, 87% of Jewish voters supported House Democratic candidates; while in 2014, the figure dropped to 66%. A shift like this, the story continues, could make a difference in parts of Florida, as well as the Philadelphia and Chicago suburbs, and have an impact on Senate races as well. A Democratic fundraiser, Leonard Barrack, told Rhodes that “many fellow Democrats of the Jewish faith were appalled” that members of Congress didn’t show Netanyahu “the respect and courtesy of being in the audience” when he spoke to both houses of Congress.

It is for that reason that President Obama has shifted his tone measurably in the past few days, trying to make it appear that he really cares about Israel and believes in doing everything he can to protect it and provide the umbrella of U.S. power for that purpose. This was revealed clearly in Obama’s April 5 interview with Thomas Friedman, appearing in the New York Times.

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Obama and the Democrats

March 30th, 2015 - 6:23 pm

The Obama offensive to garner support ahead of a possible deal with Iran has run into some headwinds.  The administration’s intensive lobbying campaign directed towards Democrats in Congress is, according to the Wall Street Journal, based on the argument “that opposing President Barack Obama would empower the new Republican majority.” Apparently there are reports that the administration has come to the realization that Congress will have to have a say, no matter how minimal, and is trying to come up with something to assuage a lot of congressional ruffled feathers.

The administration is also relying on liberal and progressive groups to do outreach in support of a deal.  Their pitch is that to oppose a deal, even a bad one, would mean going to war with Iran.  At the forefront of this effort is Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, who has appeared frequently on major TV talk shows speaking on behalf of negotiations and acceptance of a deal. His group has invested over $7 million over the past few years in think tanks, activist groups and friendly media that favor the administration’s position.  Also working as a shill for the administration is J Street, which had even lobbied against sanctions altogether a few years ago. At their recent convention, the keynote was delivered by James Baker, who, as George H.W. Bush’s secretary of State, developed a strong anti-Israel policy and who famously said at the time, “f*** the Jews. They don’t vote for us anyway.” By featuring Baker, the Obama front group is trying to make it appear that to oppose Israel is bipartisan.

Unlike J Street’s peculiar way of being a “pro-Israel” organization, Obama is finding that the majority of American Jews and the leadership of Jewish organizations are not happy with his treatment of Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel.  This is causing problems for Jewish Democrats in Congress and those who have significant numbers of  Jewish constituents.  Ben Rhodes was sent out to meet with them and bring them in line.  At the meeting, according to Politico, he was told that the president’s “aggressive approach” to Netanyahu was a problem.  As one congressmen said, “you want us to go out and say the administration’s got Israel’s back.  How are you going to get us to say that when our constituents believe that the administration is stabbing Israel in the back?” Describing the meeting as “tense,” the report summed up how the Democrats felt:

Obama and his aides, they said, had to stop acting as if the Israeli prime minister’s comments are the only thing holding up a peace process that’s been abandoned for a year while not expressing a word of disappointment about Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas — and openly toying with allowing the Palestinians their provocative recognition bid at the United Nations. The swipes at Netanyahu felt vindictive, and gratuitous.

Some Senate Democrats are saying that despite their opposition on tactical grounds to Tom Cotton’s letter to Ayatollah Khamenei, they, too, are wary about any administration deal signed with Iran.

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Almost immediately after Benjamin Netanyahu’s dramatic electoral victory, Barack Obama and his administration announced that they were going to reconsider U.S. policy towards Israel. If Israel was going to withdraw its support for a two-state solution, American would find ways to bring it about without them.  This new policy might cause the U.S. to “reevaluate” its position on Palestinian statehood at the United Nations, perhaps dropping its opposition to the UN recognizing Palestine as a nation, as well as not opposing Israel being brought before the International Court at The Hague for committing war crimes in the recent Gaza war.

These threatened measures are in response to Netanyahu’s strength and Obama’s inability to bring about his defeat.  Now, Netanyahu will most likely have the ability to put together a coalition resulting in a new Israeli government of the center/right with himself as the prime minister.  That must really irk Obama.  It also puts Netanyahu in a stronger position to oppose a weak deal with Iran.  In order to weaken and neutralize him, it makes sense to paint him as a right-wing extremist with whom there can be no accommodation.

For that task, the compliant defenders of Obama in the press must paint a portrait of Netanyahu in the darkest of colors.  To these writers of the mainstream liberal press, anything is fair game when it comes to demonizing Bibi. They suffer from what I call Bibi Derangement Syndrome (BDS).

First, they inevitably begin their argument by claiming that before the election he had cynically switched his position on the two-state solution from pro to con and that he had definitively stated that there would be no two-state solution and Palestinian state while he was prime minister.  In doing this he had repudiated his 2009 speech in which he publicly stated that he favored two states living peacefully side-by-side.

In fact, Netanyahu had not changed his position nor repudiated his earlier statement. In 2009 he said at Bar-Ilan University that “in my vision of peace, there are two free peoples living side by side in this small land, with good neighborly relations and mutual respect, each with its flag, anthem and government, with neither one threatening its neighbor’s security and existence.” The key is the last part of his statement, noting “mutual respect” and neither threatening each other, which is mandatory for any such treaty.

He sought to clarify his position after the election in a much-discussed interview with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, telling her:

I think that anyone who moves to establish a Palestinian state today, and evacuate areas, is giving radical Islam an area from which to attack the State of Israel. This is the true reality that has been created in past years. Those that ignore it are burying their heads in the sand. The left does this, buries its head in the sand, time and again.

Here, in his very first sentence, Netanyahu does not say he is opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state, but that today conditions in Palestinian society and the Middle East make it impossible to achieve and foolhardy to attempt.  Netanyahu made it quite clear, as The Times of Israel reported, that he had not changed his policy or retracted his 2009 position at all. What has changed, he told  Mitchell, “is the reality.” The PA united with Hamas, refuses to recognize the Jewish state, and insists on the right of return; hence, a “sustainable, two-state solution” is not on the horizon no matter how many offers Israel makes and land it is willing to hand over.

Despite Netanyahu’s clarification of his position, and his assurances in an interview with Fox News that he would continue to cooperate with the United States, the official U.S. position has not changed.  Instead, White House press spokesman Josh Earnest harped back to the prime minister’s pre-election statements, and told the assembled media that “words matter” and that the administration would not back down on the charge that Netanyahu used “divisive rhetoric” and opposed a two-state solution.

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Obama: The Chamberlain of Our Time?

March 15th, 2015 - 4:31 pm

In recent weeks, it has become clear that the Obama administration’s policy is to regard Iran as an ally in the fight against ISIS, and to overlook its goal of attaining hegemony throughout the Middle East. Iran essentially controls Baghdad and the Iraqi army fighting ISIS, Lebanon, and Assad’s Syria. We no longer hear Obama pronouncing that “Assad must go.”

The Iranian expansion is described in a Wall Street Journal editorial, in which the editors write:

The strategic implications of this Iranian advance are enormous. Iran already had political sway over most of Shiite southern Iraq. Its militias may now have the ability to control much of Sunni-dominated Anbar, especially if they use the chaos to kill moderate Sunnis. Iran is essentially building an arc of dominance from Tehran through Baghdad and Damascus to Beirut on the Mediterranean.

Iran’s actions threaten the Sunni states of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Gulf states, all of whom fear that an emerging alliance of the U.S. with Iran poses a great threat to their own national interest. Writing in the Lebanese paper The Daily Star, columnist Michael Young further explains this new reality:

As Iran expands its power throughout the Middle East, it is seeking to reshape the political landscape in ways designed to enhance its leverage and that of its allies. Nor is anybody successfully hindering this. On the contrary, it has become increasingly apparent that the United States has no intention of challenging Iran’s sway in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Gone are the days when the American priority was containment of Iran in the region. Under Barack Obama, the U.S. appears to favor a new regional order in which Iran will be granted a choice role.

A few days ago, Bloomberg columnist and  The Atlantic national correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg tweeted an article in Foreign Policy  by Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.  If Lewis represents the viewpoint of nonproliferation experts, they should stop wasting their time.  According to him, the most nonproliferation efforts can achieve is to delay Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear bomb.  As he argues in his piece, any delay is beneficial.

Lewis skewers Tom Cotton for putting together the letter to Ayatollah Khamenei signed by 47 Republican senators, and its threat that the Senate could later undo any agreement signed by Obama. Calling the letter “a violation of the Logan Act,” Lewis continues to argue that “no agreement…would satisfy the president’s opponents.”  Then comes his main argument, “that there is no good deal.” Our only option is to “buy time” until Iran gets the bomb. He fully understands that the U.S. and the West have made “one concession after another” which failed, since by the time they made them, Iran had moved so far along the path to a bomb that “the concession had no value.”

Rather than understand that this actually is an argument for being firm before Iran moves forward, Lewis concludes that no sanctions will work,  that Iran will not respond to any form of pressure, and hence a tough policy will end “with a half-assed airstrike against Iran…and eventually an Iranian nuclear weapon.” Lewis avoids entirely another option favored and advanced by PJ Media’s Michael Ledeen: aid Iran’s beleaguered youth, dissenters and others who would support regime change.  In the past, during the uprising of the Green movement, Obama — as we know — chose to ignore them. We also know that this strategy was adopted by the Reagan administration to aid the emerging Solidarity movement in Poland, and led to its successful challenge to the Communist regime.

Instead, Lewis writes that the U.S. will be blamed by Europe if the negotiations fail and all sanctions will collapse, and that military action against Iran would be a mistake and would only set its nuclear program back by a few years. It is foolhardy to demand, as Republicans do, the dismantling of Iran’s nuclear capability; better Lewis says an “imperfect freeze on plutonium programs.”

To Lewis, North Korea’s violation of a treaty it signed in 1994 is not a reason to oppose another foolhardy agreement.  The “Agreed Framework” with North Korea to freeze its plutonium production infrastructure was readily violated and meant nothing.  Somehow Lewis concludes that it showed “even an imperfect freeze on plutonium programs put the United States in a stronger, safer position to manage the problem.” That, of course, is a statement that makes no sense whatsoever. How does allowing North Korea to go nuclear in its weapons stash make anyone safer?

Finally, he argues that Republicans are fibbing, and that once in power, they would do precisely as Obama is doing. He thinks they would negotiate with Iran in the same manner and eventually end up with the same agreement Obama will obtain, “with all its flaws and shortcomings.” So his conclusion:

Iran is still going to engage in all kinds of regional aggression that threatens our allies and interests. It will still treat its citizens terribly. But it might not have a bomb- at least, not for the moment.

Obviously, the Obama administration sees things exactly that way. No longer is our policy “a bad deal is worse than no deal,” but the opposite: “A bad deal is far better than no deal at all.”

Lewis wrote his article before the appearance in yesterday’s Washington Post of an op-ed by Joshua Muravchik, who makes a cogent case for the possibility that, contrary to most assertions, war and military action would actually work, and could be limited in scope. I am not entirely convinced of his argument, since he believes sanctions can never work, and hence he believes that a military strike against Iran is the only serious option that could force Iran’s hand. But his argument that “force is the only way to block Iran from gaining nuclear weapons” should be debated and taken seriously as a possible alternative.

Like the Nazis and the Soviets, the Iranian mullahs, Muravchik says, are legitimized by ideology, which motivates every step they take. He believes “an air campaign targeting Iran’s nuclear infrastructure would entail less need for boots on the ground than the war Obama is waging against the Islamic State, which poses far smaller a threat than Iran does.”

Perhaps that is the rub. Iran does indeed pose a far greater threat to the U.S. and the West than does ISIS. Yet the administration is in effect accepting and perhaps favoring a de facto alliance with Iran that will be only to the mullahs’ benefit. Some of us charge the administration with pursuing a Chamberlain-like policy of appeasement. Lewis and the Obama administration see appeasement as beneficial, much like elite liberal and left-wing opinion viewed Chamberlain’s Munich agreement he negotiated with Hitler. Rather than prevent World War II as  Chamberlain thought it did, it made war inevitable and it came at a time when Germany was much stronger.

Muravchik is saying in effect that we should strike before it is too late, and not act like the British did at Munich.   In one sense, Ben Rhodes, the key White House adviser to Obama, agrees with Muravchik that sanctions will not work, which would leave the United States only with a military option to use against Iran.

In an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, Rhodes explained that the White House position is to avoid war by doing the only thing possible: negotiate a nuclear agreement. As Rhodes and obviously Obama see things, Iran will not give up its nuclear power and will not change the nature of its oppressive regime. And since war must be avoided at all costs, that leaves only an agreement, even if some see it as imperfect or even meaningless.

Obama and Ben Rhodes may think a U.S.-negotiated deal with Iran will boost the president’s  legacy, but the way things are going, Obama may go down as the Chamberlain of our time.

rosenbergs_3-7-15-1

Mr. and Mrs. Julius Rosenberg, center, shown in this 1951 file photo, commited espionage against the US government by transmitting national secrets to Soviet Russia. (AP Photo/File)

It is mind-boggling that there still is a lack of understanding the truth about the Rosenberg case.  I was reminded of it today thanks to RealClearHistory, which noted that March 6 was the anniversary of the first day of their 1951 trial. For the occasion, the editors chose to reprint an op-ed that I wrote in 2008, some 55 years after the couple’s execution for “conspiracy to commit espionage.” The points I made are not only still relevant, but perhaps more so now.

There is also a great deal of misinformation about what happened during the 1950s, which the Left has managed to institutionalize in our memories as the “age of McCarthyism,” when supposedly many Americans were hounded by Senate and House committees investigating subversion, when scores lost their jobs, and when many dissenters, like the Hollywood Ten, were sent to prison for asserting their constitutional right to express their opinions freely.

Was it really a “reign of terror”? The truth is that a small minority of Americans actually lost their jobs, very few were actually sent to prison, and, most importantly, many who were truly guilty of being Soviet agents were seen as innocent because of the Left’s successful propaganda apparatus.

The term “witch hunt” is the other phrase used most often to describe life in post-war America. Of course, in the colonial era, there were no witches, but in America of the ’50s there were indeed communists. And quite a few of them were recruited from the ranks of the Communist Party U.S.A. to spy on their country and engage in what the party called “special work.”  I wrote about the Rosenberg case and its aftermath in my article:

The end has arrived for the legions of the American left wing that have argued relentlessly for more than half a century that the Rosenbergs were victims, framed by a hostile, fear-mongering U.S. government.  Since the couple’s trial, the left has portrayed them as martyrs for civil liberties, righteous dissenters whose chief crime was to express their constitutionally protected political beliefs. In the end, the left has argued, the two communists were put to death not for spying but for their unpopular opinions, at a time when the Truman and Eisenhower administrations were seeking to stem opposition to their anti-Soviet foreign policy during the Cold War.

Nowhere was this false view expressed more succinctly than by Columbia University historian Eric Foner, who wrote that the Rosenbergs were prosecuted out of a “determined effort to root out dissent,” part of a broader pattern of “shattered careers and suppressed civil liberties.” In other words, it was part of the postwar McCarthyite “witch hunt.” To this date, Professor Foner, long after he must have known that what he wrote was totally false, has still not corrected his specious claim.

In February, a group of historians who have written about communism and Soviet espionage spoke at a forum held in the National Archives, to discuss what we have learned in the past two decades about the extent of the damage done to America’s national security by the Rosenbergs. (You can watch the video on C-SPAN if you did not catch last weekend’s broadcast, or at the website of the National Archives.) I was on the panel along with John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr, Steven Usdin, Allen Hornblum and Mark Kramer.

These Cold War cases that seem irrelevant to so many of our contemporaries are important for two major reasons. First, the use of them by the left to paint the recent American past as one of repression and hysteria depends on the belief that people like the Rosenbergs, Alger Hiss, Harry Dexter White and others were all innocent victims hounded because of their private political beliefs. As someone once quipped, just because J. Edgar Hoover or Sen. Joe McCarthy said that someone was a communist did not necessarily make the charge untrue.

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As Benjamin Netanyahu prepares for his speech on Monday night to AIPAC, and his historic speech to both houses of Congress on Tuesday, the Obama administration and its acolytes have increased their attacks on the prime minister for supposedly tearing apart the long-standing special relationship between the United States and Israel.

The truth is that it is the Obama administration, and not Benjamin Netanyahu, that has been working around the clock to weaken America’s support for Israel–all for the purpose of putting into effect a very bad nuclear deal with Iran. Obama is doing this by trying to change the issue from the nature of the forthcoming Iran deal to whether or not Netanyahu should have accepted John Boehner’s offer to speak before Congress. Obama’s goal has been explained best by Matthew Continetti:

America is about to give away a lot. This week the AP reported on what an agreement with Iran might look like: sanctions relief in exchange for promises to slow down Iranian centrifuges for 10 years. At which point the Iranians could manufacture a bomb—assuming they hadn’t produced one in secret. Iran would get international legitimacy, assurance that military intervention was not an option, and no limitations on its ICBM programs, its support for international terrorism, its enrichment of plutonium, its widespread human rights violations, and its campaign to subvert or co-opt Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, and Syria. Then it can announce itself as the first Shiite nuclear power.

Even if one argues that Netanyahu should have turned down Boehner’s offer and did his part to  inflame the U.S.-Israel alliance, as does The Times of Israel editor David Horovitz, the focus should be on Obama and Kerry’s forthcoming deal with Iran, which will amount to appeasement. And on that issue, it is Netanyahu, not Obama and Kerry, who is correct. Horovitz writes:

The US-led international community has failed Israel, and failed itself, in its handling of Iran’s drive to nuclear weapons. It is on the point of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. And Netanyahu has been trying desperately to warn against this misguided course of action… .Netanyahu has incessantly stressed that a good deal — a deal, that is, that denies Iran the capacity to break out to the bomb — is infinitely preferable to the resort to military action. He has campaigned relentlessly for a deal that dismantles Iran military nuclear infrastructure, highlighting that energy-rich Iran has no need whatsoever for its claimed “peaceful” nuclear program, that it has repeatedly misled the world about the program, and that it can be guaranteed to continue lying and manipulating and deceiving all the way to the bomb if it is left with the opportunity to do so.

Obama has spared almost no effort to undermine Netanyahu.  He has allowed a former aide to work in Israel as a campaign strategist for Netanyahu’s main opponent, Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog. He has had Susan Rice appear on the talk shows, where she accused Netanyahu of endangering the U.S.-Israeli alliance, and has allowed John Kerry to publicly insult and condemn the Israeli prime minister. In addition, an unnamed member of the White House staff told the press that Netanyahu was “chickenshit,” a man who sought war with Iran instead of working with Washington on behalf of an agreement with Iran.

The sharpest attack on Obama himself was that made a short time ago by the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez. Menendez’s call for sanctions if there is no deal with Iran is particularly odious to the president. Menendez’s position undermines the argument of the White House that only Republicans oppose the administration’s policies.

At a Senate Democratic Issues Conference meeting in mid-January, Obama argued with senators who were at the closed-door meeting to withdraw their support of sanctions as a way to pressure Iran. The New York Times reported:

The president said he understood the pressures that senators face from donors and others, but he urged the lawmakers to take the long view rather than make a move for short-term political gain, according to the senator. Mr. Menendez, who was seated at a table in front of the podium, stood up and said he took “personal offense.”

Menendez responded that he had worked for over 20 years “to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions,” and that if the talks collapsed, sanctions could not be imposed quickly. As for those “donors” whom Obama blamed, everyone knew what the president was implying — that Jewish donors from the Israel lobby were responsible for the senators’ decision to not stand with the administration.

This past Friday, Sen. Menendez and Sen. Bob Corker introduced a bi-partisan bill that would have Congress review any nuclear deal that the Obama administration strikes with Iran. The bill would institute a 60-day waiting period, during which time Congress would review the deal’s terms. It does not mandate that Congress then vote on it, although it could. Nevertheless, Kerry is urging that it not be supported, and Obama has made it clear that he would veto it should the bill pass the Senate and House.

The administration and its supporters in the press are not only blaming Netanyahu for driving a wedge in the U.S.-Israeli relationship, but they would have us believe that his speech is going to destroy bi-partisan support for Israel and tear apart the Jewish community.  But who exactly are they talking about? Many of the Democrats who have announced they are going to boycott the speech were never supporters of Israel. That list includes 23 congressmen who have previously taken money from groups opposed to Israel such as CAIR, and who in 2010 signed a letter penned by Rep. Keith Ellison opposing Israel’s blockade of Gaza, a stance that in effect was support of Hamas’ own demands.

Other supporters of Obama in the American Jewish community include J Street, which has gone all out in opposition to Netanyahu. Their actions include a full-page ad in the New York Times attacking Netanyahu, instructing Netanyahu that “Congress is not a prop in your election campaign.” Nowhere does J Street acknowledge, as David Horovitz has, that Netanyahu is right about Iran and the goals of the mullahs.

That is not surprising. J Street has lobbied against sanctions on Iran and, although purporting to be “pro-Israel and pro-peace,” always acts as a front group for Obama’s anti-Israel policies. Even Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman pointed out on February 11th that “at the height of the controversy surrounding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s scheduled speech to Congress, J Street’s petition campaign that attempts to distance itself and American Jews from Israel’s duly elected prime minister is inflammatory and repugnant. It exacerbates an already heated and politicized moment for U.S. Israel relations at a critical juncture in the West’s negotiations with Iran.” Foxman, it should be noted, had previously criticized Netanyahu’s decision to accept the Boehner invitation.

The truth is clear for anyone who pauses to examine the trajectory of the past few weeks. It is Barack Obama, and not Benjamin Netanyahu, that has done everything possible to put a monkey-wrench into the U.S.-Israeli alliance. As Jonathan Tobin writes in Commentary, “ AIPAC activists who will be descending on Washington … aren’t in any doubt about who’s the one who is working to undermine the alliance and the bipartisan pro-Israel consensus: President Obama.” It is the president who has inserted partisanship into the alliance with Israel throughout his time in office and, as Tobin points out, reneged on his campaign pledge to put an end to Iran’s nuclear program, “and instead embarked on a path of appeasement whose goal is a misguided effort to make the Islamist regime a partner on a whole range of political and economic issues.”

And make no mistake. The charge of appeasement may have been used too many times,  but this is not one of them. There is a very strong case that Obama’s actions and policies meet the criterion for a comparison. The argument that the analogy is appropriate  has been put forth by Victor Davis Hanson in National Review and by Michael Makovsky in the Weekly Standard. By giving in to Iran and abandoning our most important ally–Israel–Obama is choosing to make the United States the kind of power that bends U.S. policy to its enemy Iran, and which alienates its most reliable ally in the Middle East, Israel.

Democrats who understand the stakes at hand should do their part to make support of Israel a bi-partisan policy, and both attend and listen carefully to the arguments Benjamin Netanyahu will make in his speech to Congress.

 

 

 

Has there ever been an American president as inept and clueless as Barack Obama? It was not so long ago that he said ISIL — as he calls ISIS — was nothing but a JV team, and that al-Qaeda was defeated and in retreat.

He responded to ISIS’s recent barbarities by arguing that the Crusades proved Christianity was once just as evil. No worries — they got over it. Strangely, he has continued in W’s footsteps by insisting there is only a war on terror, and not one against radical Islam. Obama, like Bush, refuses to state who is guilty.

His views have been reinforced by Eric Holder, who said:

We spend more time, more time, talking about what you call it, as opposed to what do you do about it. You know? I mean really. If Fox didn’t talk about this they’d have nothing else to talk about. You know, radical Islam, Islamic extremism, you know … I’m not sure an awful lot is gained by saying it. It doesn’t have an impact on our military posture …

Those damn talking heads on Fox News. If not for them, no one would be talking about radical Islamic extremism. As for tactics and military strategy, the same president who said last year that the Syrian rebels should not be armed because they were disorganized, ineffectual, and we would not know in whose hands the arms would end up, is now floating the idea of arming them. This might have helped three years ago, but it may be too little, too late. And at the same time, the promise to arm the Kurds has been slow and bogged down in red tape.

All of the above, and Obama’s apparent desire to ally with Iran to fight ISIS, is made clear by Eric Edelman, former under secretary of defense and ambassador to Turkey. He writes the following in his summary of a forthcoming book by Colin Dueck:

[Obama’s] strategy is twofold: retrenchment, and accommodation. Retrenchment means liquidating some of what Obama construes to be overinvestments the U.S. has made around the world, particularly in the Middle East, while also reducing the strength of the U.S. military — since, in his view, our temptation to resort to military force has itself been responsible for many of the world’s ills. Accommodation, in turn, means reaching out and “engaging” America’s adversaries, thereby turning them, in the common phrase, from part of the problem into part of the solution.

Recent statements made by State Department spokesperson Marie Harf are in sync with the White House. She argues that the root cause of terrorism has to be addressed. She implies that finding jobs for alienated and poor Muslim youth in the European cities in which they live would be a meaningful solution. As she said to Chris Matthews: “We cannot kill our way out of this war.”

In the longterm, finding a way to reach disaffected Muslim youth should be addressed, especially in Europe. In the short term, ISIS is brutally murdering whomever they can get their hands on and must be stopped. Terror, fear, and intimidation have gotten them far. The next target, they say, is Italy.

Why are they doing it? Eli Lake in Bloomberg News explains:

No amount of small-business loans, education scholarships or political reform can compete with the toxic temptation of being part of a movement that claims to be changing history.

That temptation is the dream of restoring a caliphate. Moreover, contrary to what Harf says, we know that many radical Islamists who go to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS, like those who joined al-Qaeda before, are not poor, uneducated, and without jobs. They seek to be part of history, to achieve something grand and pure and to leave their mundane lives behind. The groups they join give their lives meaning, and the more brutal they are proves their seriousness. Lake interviews Shiraz Maher, a former Islamist who had joined a group named Hizb ut Tahrir  after 9/11. The group was something like a political wing of the global jihad movement, akin to what Sinn Fein in Ireland was to the IRA.  He wanted to become part of history. ISIS, he told Lake, is “actually achieving a caliphate that we were only philosophizing about.”

The first day of the White House conference concentrated on themes like the one that Lake cites, such as “Vectors of radicalization.” They discussed the concept in general, and avoided the religious component because — as Obama keeps stressing — the jihadists are not real Muslims. As the president said to Matthew Yglesias in his Vox interview, “we don’t have military solutions to every problem in the 21st Century.” Instead, he seeks to win the “hearts and minds” of young people who join the jihad out of both “demographic problems and economic problems.”

How do you win “hearts and minds” if you refuse to address the ideas which are attracting so many to join ISIS?

Many U.S. and foreign diplomats are skeptical about what the Preventing Violent Extremism conference will accomplish.  As John Hudson writes in Foreign Policy:

The more substantive internal issue at play … is the summit’s emphasis on a broad approach to countering extremism that risks yielding few actionable goals. From poverty, corruption, and girls’ education to unemployment and building “resilient communities,” the State Department leadership is bent on mashing together a variety of potential drivers of extremism into its part of the conference.

In America, the issue will most likely be treated as crime prevention. Hence the new “Preventing Violent Extremism” policy advocated by Sarah Sewall, Undersecretary of State, who said in a speech that instead of seeking how to counter radical Islamist ideology, the State Department will concentrate on addressing “alienation and anger that drives communities to align or tolerate the violent extremists.”

Quoting President Obama in May 2013, when he stated that the U.S. should “be addressing the underlying grievances and conflicts that feed terrorism,” Sewall made it quite clear that anything but addressing the religious ideology of the Salafists and the jihadists will be taken up — the very concepts that should be addressed in the place of social work gobbledygook.

To do that, of course, would quickly lead to charges of “Islamophobia.” Don’t be surprised if after the three days of meeting, the 60 nations represented will agree on one thing: Islamophobia must be prevented, because it is alienating the Muslim community.

Today, the world is mourning the death of Kayla Mueller, the supposed humanitarian aid worker who was captured by ISIS. They claim that she was killed in a Jordanian airstrike. The Jordanian military authorities say that the building they bombed was an ISIS weapons storage facility, and hence a legitimate target. In any case, the blame rests with ISIS, who kidnapped her and put her in harm’s way.

Her family and friends, the New York Times reported, described her as “a deeply idealistic young woman eager to help those less fortunate.” President Obama sent condolences to the family, and at an emotional statement made on the Senate Floor, John McCain mourned the loss of a young woman who was a native of Prescott, Arizona:

After graduating from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff in 2009, Kayla committed her life to helping people in need around the world – first in India, then Israel and the Palestinian territories and back home in Prescott, where she volunteered at an HIV/AIDS clinic and a women’s shelter. (my emphasis)

William Turnbull, a 66 year-old Vietnam veteran who lives nearby, told the Times:

 [Kayla Mueller] represented everything good about being an American. In the outgoing battle between good and evil, she represented the best of the good. She took great risk to help other people.

Our nation’s commander-in-chief  said much the same. She represented, he said, “the best of America.” President Obama described her in these glowing terms:

Kayla dedicated her life to helping others in need at home and around the world. In Prescott, Arizona, she volunteered at a women’s shelter and worked at an HIV/AIDS clinic. She worked with humanitarian organizations in India, Israel, and the Palestinian territories, compelled by her desire to serve others. Eventually, her path took her to Turkey, where she helped provide comfort and support to Syrian refugees forced to flee their homes during the war. Kayla’s compassion and dedication to assisting those in need shows us that even amongst unconscionable evil, the essential decency of humanity can live on.

We must, of course, mourn the loss of any American who, for whatever reason, finds himself or herself a captive of ISIS. In this case, Kayla Mueller was leaving Syria and was abducted as she was boarding a bus with a man she knew, possibly a boyfriend or colleague. When Mueller had first arrived at the Doctors Without Borders office in Aleppo, their staff was “flabbergasted” since, according to the New York Times report, she was in a “no-go zone for most international aid workers.”

The problem with the tributes, especially that made by President Obama, is that Mueller was not a simple human rights worker. Nor was she, as Mr. Turnbull said, “the best of the good.”

The truth is that Kayla worked in Israel and the Palestinian territories with the International Solidarity Movement, the same group that the late Rachel Corrie was part of.

The ISM placed Corrie in a dangerous situation, and falsely told the world that Israel’s IDF had purposefully killed her in order to scare off foreigners coming to aid the Palestinian people.

The ISM, as anyone can easily find out, supports Israel’s enemies, including Hamas, Hezbollah, and those in the Palestinian Authority who work for Israel’s destruction.

Like Corrie, Ms. Mueller’s work in the Middle East was not that of a humanitarian and non-partisan aid person, but rather, as the ISM statement put it, she “worked with Palestinians nonviolently resisting the confiscation and demolitions of their homes and lands.” She bragged in her internet posts of working in anti-Israel demonstrations in East Jerusalem, in an area which an Israeli court decision recognized as one in which Israelis had a legal right to build homes in. She also supported the throwing of rocks by Palestinians at Israelis, viewing that as a just tactic of the oppressed.

She bought into the narrative that the Israelis were the oppressors and the Palestinians and others who opposed them, the heroes. These are her own words in a post of Oct. 29, 2010:

 Oppression greets us from all angles. Oppression wails from the soldiers radio and floats through tear gas clouds in the air. Oppression explodes with every sound bomb and sinks deeper into the heart of the mother who has lost her son. But resistance is nestled in the cracks in the wall, resistance flows from the minaret 5 times a day and resistance sits quietly in jail knowing its time will come again. Resistance lives in the grieving mother’s wails and resistance lives in the anger at the lies broadcasted across the globe. Though it is sometimes hard to see and even harder sometimes to harbor, resistance lives. Do not be fooled, resistance lives.

Those words are not that of a humanitarian aid worker, but of a propagandist for the supporters of worldwide jihad who seek Israel’s destruction.

So, as Israeli writer and activist against the ISM Lee Kaplan accurately writes:

This is another Rachel Corrie propaganda story in the making, and the western media is falling for it again, or embracing it on purpose.

Thus Ms. Mueller died not only at the hands of ISIS, but by her own work in the region on behalf of a terrorist support group that regularly put her in harm’s way.

Her work was on behalf of the supporters of Hamas, and it is not surprising to find that she wrote propaganda against Israel on the ISM’s website. To her, throwing rocks at Israelis was a “nonviolent” act, and like Rachel Corrie, Kayla also slept in front of homes that were to be demolished and waited “for the one night when the bulldozers come to finish them off.”

One of her letters claimed that the IDF used phosphorous along with tear gas that poisoned one woman’s lungs, a victim who shortly died at home from asphyxiation. That the IDF does not use phosphorous is simply a fact that did not get in the way of her hateful propaganda. She somehow also failed to mention that the IDF destroyed homes that either were munitions storage facilities or in which a known terrorist who had been involved in specific acts against Israel lived.

The tragedy of Kayla Mueller’s life is that out of an idealistic urge to do good, she went to work on behalf of supporters of terrorism and violence who believe openly in a revolutionary route to salvation. Like so many others, back in the United States she fell prey to the overtures of leftist revolutionaries, who are adept at using the aims of young and innocent students who yearn only to build a better world.

In taking that path, she died on behalf of those who believe in violence and world-wide revolution, beginning with the destruction of Israel.