Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference this morning that he intends to raise three issues with President Obama on his visit later this month: Iran’s nuclear program, instability in Syria, and the “need to find a responsible way to advance the peace with the Palestinians.”
On the last, he cautioned “a peace you cannot defend will not hold for five minutes.”
Netanyahu couldn’t be in Washington for AIPAC this year as he’s embroiled in the “fun” of forging a governing coalition after January elections.
“Don’t adopt Israel’s system of government,” he advised Americans, noting the difficulty of trying to build consensus among nine parties instead of two.
“I look forward to express our appreciation for what he has done for Israel,” he said of Obama’s visit.
On Islamic Republic, he reiterated that “we cannot allow Iran to cross that red line.”
“The Jewish people know the cost of being defenseless against those that would exterminate us,” he said. “We will never let that happen again.”
On Syria, he warned again of the danger of the Assad regime’s stockpile of chemical and anti-aircraft weapons falling into the wrong hands. “They’re like a pack of hyenas feeding off a carcass and the carcass isn’t even dead yet,” he said of terror groups hoping to exploit the situation.
And on the peace process, which Obama has deemed a failure of his first term, “Israel is prepared for a meaningful compromise but as Israel’s prime minister I will never comprise on our security.”
“I know Obama hereto fully appreciates Israel’s need to defend itself,” Netanyahu said.
Vice President Joe Biden tried to pave the way for his boss’ first presidential trip to Israel with a high-volume defense of the Obama administration’s policy toward and relationship with the Jewish state.
Addressing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee this morning, Biden gushed about his upbringing with a “righteous Christian” father who taught his children about the phrase that’s “not used meaningfully enough — ‘never again.’”
The veep called the AIPAC community “my teachers, my mentors, and my educators.”
“President Obama shares my commitment,” Biden said. “We both know that Israel shares new threats… they have changed as the world and the region have changed over the past decade.”
He said the administration “especially” understands that if it makes a mistake on reining in Iran “it’s not a threat to our existence … but could be a threat to Israel’s existence.”
Biden said “our deep commitment” to Israel’s security “will not change as long as I and he are president and vice president of the United States.”
“While me may not always agree on tactics… we’ve always disagreed at some point or another on tactic,” he quipped, looking back to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who greeted the VP with a bear hug, for a nod to his assertion that the U.S. and Israel have “never disagreed on the strategic imperative.”
Biden added with “certitude” that of the past eight presidents, there have not been as many meetings between the two countries’ security officials as in the Obama White House. “We’re getting tired of traveling back and forth across the ocean,” he quipped, looking back at Barak again.
“No president has done as much to physically secure the state of Israel as President Barack Obama,” Biden said. “…Wherever he goes in the world he makes clear that even though we want better relations with Muslim countries … Israel is not a matter of debate — don’t raise it with us.”
He boasted about Iron Dome funding and other assistance “to buy Israel valuable time in the event of an attack.”
He continued to brag about the United States’ lone vote against a UN Human Rights Council resolution to establish a fact-finding mission on settlements, even though the Obama administration reversed the Bush White House’s course of boycotting the council in order to not legitimize the anti-Israel body.
Biden pitched the new secretary of State, currently on his first overseas trip, to the audience. “By the way, he’s a good man,” he said. “You’re going to be happy with Kerry.”
His voice rising to a shout, the veep said the administration’s policy “is to prevent — not contain –prevent.”
“Presidents of the United States cannot and do not bluff and President Barack Obama is not bluffing,” Biden said. “We’re not looking for war… our strong preference, the world’s preference, is for a diplomatic solution.”
“God forbid, if we have to act, it’s important that the rest of the world is with us,” he added.
Biden gave a few preview hints at Obama’s trip to Israel later this month, but stopped short of revealing too much. “I learned it’s never a good idea to steal the president’s thunder,” he said.
(Also read: “ Netanyahu: A Peace You Cannot Defend“.)
Broke, Nearly Bankrupt Country Reeling from Devastating Budget Cuts…Hands Muslim Brotherhood Government $250,000,000
The Obama government is set to hand the Egyptian government a massive $250 million, while it is going out of its way to inflict pain on US citizens and taxpayers.
Secretary of State John Kerry announced Sunday that the United States would provide $250 million in assistance to Egypt after Egypt’s president promised to move ahead with negotiations with the International Monetary Fund over economic reforms.
In a statement issued after his two-hour meeting with President Mohamed Morsi, Mr. Kerry said the aid decision reflected Egypt’s “extreme needs” and Mr. Morsi’s assurance that Egypt would reach an agreement with the I.M.F. after more than a year of talks over a $4.8 billion loan package.
The statement issued by Mr. Kerry noted that he and Mr. Morsi had discussed the need to ensure the fairness of Egypt’s coming elections, but it did not mention any specific political commitments the Egyptian president had made to receive the aid.
The $250 million is part of a $1 billion package that the broke, budgetless US government will hand over to Egypt’s rising Islamist state.
The Obama regime treats a radical foreign government better than it is treating our own people.
Israel Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren promised at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee annual conference opening today that “Israel will not remain silent” if the Syrian regime passes “game-changing weaponry” to Hezbollah.
“We have a red line and we will keep that red line, I assure you,” Oren said at a foreign policy roundtable. “All I can say is thank God – thank God – the Golan Heights is in the hands of Israel.”
Oren said the Israel government has “long wanted Bashar al-Assad to depart,” especially because while his father, Hafez, was considered ruthless yet still predictable the son is “ruthless and reckless.”
“He tried to create a secret nuclear facility, which does not exist anymore, thank goodness,” he said in reference to Israel’s 2007 Operation Orchard.
On Iran, Oren believes no progress will be made at the P5+1 nuclear talks in Kazakhstan.
“We’ll keep all options on the table,” he said. “We have the greatest skin in the game.”
The ambassador said Tehran is just using the resumption of talks to buy time for its nuclear program.
“This is the regime that is the largest state sponsor of terror,” Oren said. “The world has to gather and prevent Iran from getting these weapons.”
The only point of progress in a “small window of diplomacy” would be Iran ceasing enrichment, he said.
“Imagine if they had that nuclear weapon – what is the price of inaction?”
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference begins Sunday in Washington, with Vice President Joe Biden speaking Monday and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking via satellite.
While the key topics among attendees are expected to be Iran’s nuclear program and opinion over the appointment of Chuck Hagel as Defense secretary, Turkey’s prime minister just earned his Islamist government in the secular republic a spot in the talking points.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was speaking at the Fifth Alliance of Civilizations Forum, a UN event in Vienna’s Hofburg Palace, on the rising trend of fascism across the Europe, according to Anatolia News Agency.
“Aside from countries indifferent to Muslim countries, disrespectful attitudes toward Muslims living in certain countries continue to hurt consciences,” said Erdoğan.
“Just like Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, it becomes unavoidable that Islamophobia must be regarded as a crime against humanity,” he said.
Erdoğan slammed “certain politicians’ defamation of a religion or a sect by mass communication tools” for deepening gaps between cultures.
The prime minister also defended the Islamist rebels who have terrorized residents of Mali by forcibly trying to impose Sharia law on towns like Timbuktu, which suffered under occupation for 10 months before liberation by French forces.
“If we evaluate the current developments in Mali as if they were based on religion, it would be a historic mistake,” Erdoğan said. “Members of different religions in Mali are not fighting against each other. There could be acts of terrorism in Mali but to define such violence as part of a religion would not be correct since no monotheistic religion encourages terrorism. Islam means ‘peace.’ We can never accept arguments that a religion of peace, Islam, encourages or approves terrorism.”
Turkish opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, chairman of the Republican People’s party, warned earlier this month that Erdoğan is determined to upend the country and plunge the republic into constitutional crisis because of his lust for power.
“The prime minister is more and more authoritarian, unfortunately,” Kilicdaroglu said. “The sovereignty of fear is ubiquitous. No one can talk with ease on the telephone. Civil society is under pressure. The universities cannot express their view. The labour unions are completely silent. The media are fearful.
“There is not one single dissenting voice within his own party. The attempt to create an executive presidency is all about the concentration of power in a single hand. It will be a disaster for Turkey. It will cancel all the democratic gains Turkey has made.”
The Turkish Republicans are the next largest party in the Grand National Assembly after the Islamist AKP (Justice and Development Party). Erdogan is running for president in 2014, but so far has 41 percent support in the polls with no confirmed challenger.
Palestinian unrest spread Tuesday to the Gaza Strip, where militants fired a rocket into southern Israel, shattering one of the longest periods of quiet along that border in recent memory.
It was the first rocket fired since the signing of a November cease-fire agreement between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas, ending their eight-day clash.
How do you say “emboldened” in Arabic?
The latest round of P5+1 talks over Iran’s nuclear program have begun in Almaty, Kazakhstan, for the first time since June — with Secretary of State John Kerry declaring that the window for negotiations won’t be open forever, “but it is open today.”
“As we’ve said again and again, an Iran with a nuclear weapon in that region, and given all that has happened, is simply unacceptable. And we have stated that they will not obtain a nuclear weapon. President Obama has been crystal clear about this,” Kerry said Monday from London.
“And as we’ve repeatedly made clear, the window for a diplomatic solution simply cannot by definition remain open forever. But it is open today. It is open now. And there is still time, but there is only time if Iran makes the decision to come to the table and to negotiate in good faith. We are prepared to negotiate in good faith, in mutual respect, in an effort to avoid whatever terrible consequences could follow failure,” he continued. “And so the choice really is in the hands of the Iranians, and we hope they will make the right choice.”
But Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), chairwoman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said “we’ve seen this movie before, and we know how it ends.”
“I expect this week’s talks in Almaty to yield the same results as previous nuclear talks with Iran have: the members of the P5 +1 talks will try to coax Iran into giving up its nuclear weapons program without success, and Iran will continue to advance its enrichment process unimpeded. In fact, just this past weekend Iran announced that it has selected 16 new locations upon which to build nuclear plants,” Ros-Lehtinen said.
“The Six-Party talks aimed at bringing to an end North Korea’s nuclear program had the same dismal fate and failed to stop North Korea’s third nuclear detonation. North Korea has been cooperating with Iran on nuclear and military technology for decades now and the Administration still has not learned its lesson,” she continued. “Just like North Korea, Iran has forfeited all its rights under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by pursuing its covert nuclear ambitions and violating many U.N. Security Council resolutions.”
Negotiating with Iran are the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States – plus Germany.
“President Obama needs to realize that the time for talking and diplomatic niceties is long gone. The Administration must fully and vigorously enforce sanctions against Iran and those who assist Tehran in furthering its nuclear weapons program,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “The Administration should also realize anything short of that will unfortunately lead to a nuclear armed Iran sooner rather than later.”
But not for anyone connected to the 9-11-12 attack that killed four Americans.
Four foreigners have been arrested in Libya on suspicion of being missionaries and distributing Christian literature, a charge that could carry the death penalty.
The four – a Swedish-American, Egyptian, South African and South Korean – were arrested in Benghazi by Preventative Security, an intelligence unit of the defence ministry, accused of printing and distributing bible pamphlets in the city.
Libya retains a law from the Muammar Gaddafi era that makes proselytising a criminal offence potentially punishable by death.
The few Christians who do live in Libya live as dhimmis.
Tripoli’s Anglican Church of Christ the King held its normal Sunday service on Sundaywith the priest, Reverend Vasihar Baskaran, saying that, as during the Gaddafi era, the authorities placed no restrictions on worshippers.
But he said the five Christian churches in Tripoli have a tacit agreement with the authorities not to proselytise. “We don’t distribute literature, so we don’t have any problems,” he told the Guardian. “It is better not to indulge in these activities because we respect Libyans. We respect their religion.”
But, they don’t respect yours.
So far, no comment from Secretary of State John Kerry.
Chuck Hagel will be confirmed. Let’s put that to rest right now. However, given his confirmation, what will the Defense Department look like under Hagel’s leadership. Additionally, how will he execute Obama’s foreign policy during his second term? His disastrous confirmation hearing, which Slate’s Dave Weigel aptly called a Fluster Chuck, shocked his former colleagues in the Senate. I’m sure it made many commentators to wonder why President Obama didn’t pick the undeniably qualified Michele Flournoy, who served as Undersecretary of Defense for Policy from 2009-2012.
Nevertheless, we’re saddled with Hagel, and I’m sure the supporters of Israel are more on edge now that his confirmation is inevitable. Where do we go from here? National Review’s Daniel Foster wrote on February 19 that:
Maybe the best way to illustrate what the far left, far right, and dead center are missing about Hagel is with the following dilemma: Hagel’s foreign-policy views are clearly to the left of the president’s rhetoric for the last couple of years. That’s not even debatable. In practice, that will mean one of two things. Either the views expressed in Obama’s rhetoric of the last couple of years will continue to be the policy of the United States, in which case Hagel will be frustrated and constrained as defense secretary, and relegated to the role of mere bureaucrat-in-chief of the Pentagon. That, needless to say, does not appear to be his strong suit. The other possibility is that a second-term Obama will pursue a foreign policy closer to the one Hagel has avowed in speeches and writings over the last several years: a considerably smaller military, a net reduction in global power projection, especially in the most dangerous parts of the world, generous détente with Iran, skeptical neutrality or even hostility toward Israel, and so on. In that case, Hagel will be free to foolishly pursue his boss’s foolish vision.
Hagel can thus incompetently execute a decent strategy or competently execute an indecent one. So flip a coin. Heads they win, tails we lose.
Yeah, that’s not reassuring at all. Then again, when has this administration been reassuring at solving anything in the past four years?
The State Department said it intends to discuss with Israel its award of a permit to an American company to drill for oil in the southern Golan Heights.
Genie Energy, which has oil shale initiatives in Colorado and Israel, announced this week the award from the Israeli government for the exclusive petroleum exploration license in a 153 square mile area.
“The Company believes, based on its preliminary analysis and interpretation of existing geological data, that the newly issued license area may contain significant quantities of conventional oil and gas in relatively tight formations, the development of which would entail significantly different technical approaches and project timelines than the other projects,” Genie said in a statement. “Genie Energy intends to conduct an exploration program to further investigate the size and quality of the resource in the new license area.”
Oil permits in the region have been frozen for 20 years, when Israel and Syria were negotiating the future of this area annexed in the Six-Day War.
The move, a month before President Obama’s trip to the region, is likely to irk the Obama administration as it has accused Israel of provocative development on disputed territories.
“We are aware of press reports regarding the award and do not have any further information regarding the license,” the State Department said in a statement. “We intend to discuss this issue with the Israeli Government. We refer you to the Israeli Government for further information regarding the award.”
NPR’s Ari Shapiro — nope, I’d never heard of him before either — has written a nice little tidy story on how Republicans are politicizing Benghazi. That’s the first and most obvious evidence of bias. The entire point of his story is to downplay the event’s significance, even though he has this juicy quote up near the top.
On Tuesday night in Rock Hill, S.C., Republican Rep. Mick Mulvaney met with his constituents. When he opened the floor for questions, one man brought up Benghazi, and Mulvaney spoke about it with passion.
“There were times in our nation’s past where, if our ambassador was killed, it was cause for going to war,” he said. “We’re treating it like it was a cause to, you know, go down and order a pizza. And that’s just not — that’s not right.”
That’s meaty, and it is a fact that the Obama administration so far has held no terrorist to account for the attack. It’s also a fact that the Obama administration initially didn’t even call it an attack. It was a response to a movie that offended Muslims. Never mind that hardly anyone saw the movie before the attack.
First, Shapiro follows the money, in a way that suggests the whole furor over Benghazi is political.
Now Benghazi helps Republicans raise money, fire up the base and take a whack at the guy in charge.
Then he puts good-guy and good-government hats on the Democrats.
And in this case, unlike with Obamacare or Solyndra, the administration acknowledges it screwed up.
“We need to make sure that never happens again,” says Tommy Vietor, a White House spokesman. “We all have a role in this. And when the focus gets politicized — when words like ‘cover-up’ are used, when we’re focused only on talking points, not what do these individuals need to keep them safe — that’s when I think we kind of miss the runway.”
Then he pits Republican against Republican, to cast anyone who still cares about Benghazi as a crank.
Beyond the pressure cookers of Congress and AM talk radio, even many Republicans agree that the debate over Benghazi has moved away from substance into a political hall of mirrors.
“I missed the meeting among Republicans where it was decided this would become an angry cause célèbre that should be pursued at all costs and with no holds barred,” says Republican strategist Ed Rogers.
Whoever he is. Now, he’s in the position of being the Reasonable Respectable Republican.
Here’s another one.
Juan Zarate, who was a counterterrorism adviser to President George W. Bush, says people could be asking meaty questions about the nature of the evolving terrorist threat, but they’re not.
“I think it’s been substance that’s lost amidst the debate about talking points and the way that the administration portrayed the incidents in the early days after the attacks,” Zarate says.
Then Shapiro goes in for the kill.
There was a substantive investigation into the attacks. Retired Ambassador Thomas Pickering co-chaired the independent commission. The State Department accepted all of his recommendations and fired four people. That was two months ago.
That paragraph is the heart of the mainstream media’s Benghazi narrative. It’s also a huge lie.
Pickering was Hillary Clinton’s hand-picked investigator. It’s like allowing Bernie Madoff to choose his own prosecutor. They’re not very likely to get to the bottom of the story, and Pickering didn’t. His board didn’t even determine where Clinton was or what she was doing during the attack. Ditto for the president. We still don’t know. As for the four who Shapiro reports were fired, they weren’t. Clinton herself acknowledged that during her testimony. Shapiro must have been absent the day she ranted “What difference, at this point, does it make?” And indeed, now, what difference does any of it make? Obama is re-elected, and Clinton will command $200,000 per speech to go out there and tell more lies. She’ll make more from lying in one shot than most Americans make in a couple of years of honest work. What that says about the state of our country, I don’t even want to contemplate.
You can read the rest if you want, since you paid for it with your tax dollars. To the average NPR consumer out there, who likely has not been paying much attention to Benghazi, Shapiro’s is a definitive account. Republicans are politicizing a story to raise money despite the nice Democrats admitting fault and firing people.
The “al Qaeda is on the run” lie is never discussed. The blame for a movie is never discussed. The assault on free speech, and the fact that a man remains in jail as a result of that assault, is never discussed. The stand down during the battle is never discussed. The president’s and Clinton’s absence during the battle is never discussed. The fact that those responsible remain at large, and are laughing at us, is never discussed.
And in all likelihood, it never will be. Benghazi isn’t like ordering a pizza now. To most Americans, it’s even less significant than that. At most, it’s a reason for some liberals to oppose any federal budget cuts. Beyond that, it’s nothing. Four people including a US ambassador died, the president did nothing to help them, he and his team lied about the attack to save his election afterward, and it’s all not even really yesterday’s news. And Ari Shapiro is living off your tax dollars making sure it stays that way.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) showed two more signs that he’s prepping for a presidential run this week: First, he traveled to the Middle East to meet with world leaders. Second, he again made light of his State of the Union water sip.
Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, met with King Abdullah II in Jordan on Monday, as well as former Syrian Prime Minister Riad Hijab, who defected to Jordan.
Today Rubio met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem.
“There is no more important relationship for the United States, perhaps in the world but certainly in the region, than Israel,” said Rubio. “It’s one that has bipartisan support and I’m proud to say that Republicans and Democrats are united on that. We remain deeply committed, above all else, to Israel’s security. Like every nation, like every sovereign people, the people of Israel have the right to be safe.”
He then toured the Iron Dome missile defense system with Israeli Maj. Gen. Noam Tibon, Commander of Northern Formation in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), during a helicopter flight over the West Bank.
President Obama visits Israel for the first time in his presidency in March. Peres announced Obama will be awarded the presidential medal of distinction on his visit for his “unique and significant contribution to strengthening the State of Israel and the security of its citizens.”
Before Obama leaves, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat is quietly visiting Washington this week. “While in Washington, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat will meet with Special Envoy David Hale,” the State Department said today. “Other meetings may also be arranged. We refer you to the Palestinian Authority for more details on his travel.”
Rubio’s office provided this picture of an excellent H2O toast between Netanyahu and Rubio.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he hopes some Democrats will come forward in opposition to the Chuck Hagel nomination after a report surfaced that the Defense secretary hopeful called the State Department an adjunct of the Israeli foreign minister’s office.
Hagel supporter George Ajjan summarized the Rutgers speech in a 2007 blog post, including the “bold statement” about the U.S. being controlled by Israel. “Hagel mentioned this theme several times – comprehensive, he said, in the sense that all tools should be used to achieve American foreign policy objectives (diplomatic, political, economic, and military), but also comprehensive in the James Baker sense of addressing the Arab-Israeli conflict holistically as both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have proved too lazy and too incompetent to do,” Ajjan wrote.
On Fox last night, Graham called Hagel’s words a “breathtaking statement.”
“Senator Hagel said that he doesn’t recall making that statement and would disavow it. This latest report, I’m trying to absorb it,” the senator said. “But the bottom line for me, if he, in fact, said something like that, that the State Department was controlled by the Israeli foreign minister’s office, I think that would undermine his ability to serve as secretary of defense, and I hope some Democrats would come forward in light of all the other things he said.”
“If he says that the State Department’s under the thumb of the Israeli foreign minister’s office, that would show an edge about Israel and a view of the Israel-U.S. relationship that’s so far out of the mainstream, I don’t think he could effectively serve,” Graham added.
He said the “sum total of all the things he said and all the votes he’s taken” should make Hagel an “unacceptable” candidate.
Republicans blocked Hagel’s nomination in a cloture vote before the Presidents Day recess, but have indicated to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that a vote on the floor may be allowed after the break.
“If there is some evidence that he said at any time something akin to the State Department being controlled by the Israeli foreign minister’s office, in light of the other statements, the Jewish lobby statement, and the votes he’s taken and the attitude he’s exhibited toward Iran and Israel, that would be it for me,” Graham said. “And I hope some Democrats at that point would come forward and ask the president to nominate somebody new.”
Since the “Arab Spring” came to Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood assumed power, sexual harassment, abuse, and rape of women has skyrocketed. This graph, which shows an enormous jump in sexual harassment beginning around January 2011, when the Tahrir revolts began, certainly demonstrates as much. Its findings are further supported by any number of reports appearing in both Arabic and Western media, and from both Egyptian and foreign women.
Hundreds of Egyptian women recently took to the streets of Tahrir Square to protest the nonstop harassment they must endure whenever they emerge from their homes and onto the streets. They held slogans like “Silence is unacceptable, my anger will be heard,” and “A safe square for all; Down with sexual harassment.” “Marchers also shouted chants against President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood group from which he hails,” wrote Al Ahram Online
The response? More sexual harassment and rapes.
One woman recently appeared on Egyptian TV recounting her horrific experiences. On the program, she appeared shaded, to conceal her identity—less because she felt personal shame or guilt at what happened and more to protect her and her family from further abuses. She recounted how she had seen a Facebook notice that Egyptian women were going to protest the unsafe conditions for women on the Egyptian street and decided to join them on their scheduled march in Tahrir Square on January 25, the anniversary of the revolution. “I did not realize I would become the victim,” she lamented. When it started to get dark, her group heard that “strange looking men” were appearing and that it was best to leave the area.
During some chaos she was lost from her group. One man told her “this way,” pretending to help her to safety—“I was so naïve to believe him!”—only to lead her to a large group of men, she estimated around 50, who proceeded to encircle and rape her. “This was the first time someone touched me” quietly recounted the former virgin: “Each one of them attacked a part of my body.” Several pinned her down while others pulled off her pants and stripped her naked, gang-raping her for approximately 20 minutes. She explained how she truly thought she was going to die, and kept screaming “I’m dying!” In response, one of her rapists whispered in her ears: “Don’t worry. Take it,” even as the rest called her derogatory names she would not recite on the air…. Continue reading.
BuzzFeed‘s Andrew Kaczynski has dug up the prepared remarks that former Sen. Chuck Hagel delivered at Rutgers University in March 2007. Hagel’s speech was co-sponsored by the controversial American Iranian Council. In Q&A, Hagel said that the US State Department had become controlled by Israel. No transcript or video of those remarks has turned up yet.
But in his prepared remarks, Hagel called for cooperation with Iran on rebuilding Afghanistan.
Iran has cooperated with the United States on Afghanistan to help the Afghans establish a new government after the Taliban was ousted. Iran continues to invest heavily in the reconstruction of western Afghanistan.
On Afghanistan, the United States and Iran found common interests – defeating the Taliban and Islamic radicals, stabilizing Afghanistan, stopping the opium production and the flow of opium coming into Iran. From these common interests emerged common actions working toward a common purpose. It was in the interests of Iran to work with the U.S. in Afghanistan. It was not a matter of helping America or strengthening America’s presence in Central Asia. It was a clear-eyed and self-serving action for Iran.
Iran was engaged in another clear-eyed, self-serving action at the time, which Hagel does not admit. Iran was waging war against the United States via terrorist proxies in Iraq. Hagel had opposed the 2006 surge of troops into Iraq, which eventually defeated the insurgency and won the war.
In his full, prepared remarks, Hagel says that Iran “will be a key center of gravity…a significant regional power” in the Middle East over the next 25 years. He adds that Iran’s regime is “dangerous, destabilizing and threatening,” that it is a “state sponsor of terrorism and that it “publicly threatens Israel.” True, but not quite accurate, as Iran has been threatening Israel with annihilation for years. Hagel then turns to Iraq, and acknowledges that “Iran has not helped stabilize the current chaos in Iraq and is responsible for weapons and explosives being used against US and Iraqi military forces in Iraq.”
Hagel calls for holding Iran “accountable for its actions” in Iraq, yet also for cooperation with Iran in Afghanistan.
Hagel’s 2007 remarks address the potential rise of a new generation of pro-American activists and leaders in Iran. Hagel says:
Two-thirds of Iran’s population is under the age of 30. Iran is undergoing a generational shift that will shape Iran’s outlook…and its opinions of the United States…for decades to come. Iran’s young people use the internet in large numbers, wear American jeans, listen to American music and are positive about America and the West. We do not want to lose this pro-American generation by turning them away from us. They are the hope of Iran. They bristle under the heavy yoke of the Ayatollahs’ strident limitations of personal freedom.
Two years later many of them rose up against the mullahs, and cried out for support from America. Barack Obama turned his back on them.
In the 2007 speech, Hagel called for dialogue with both Iran and Syria, and that the United States must be clear that we do not seek “regime change” in Iran.
The fact that those young, pro-American Iranians do seek regime change makes no visible impression on Hagel or his would-be boss. The fact that the revolutionary Iranian regime is implacably hostile to the United States also appears not to matter to Hagel’s understanding.
Later in the speech, Hagel says that “without a wise and integrated strategy, we risk drifting into conflict with Iran,” ignoring the fact that Iran has been waging war against the US and our allies since 1979.
The 2007 speech was among those Hagel was required to disclose to the Senate Armed Service Committee as part of his confirmation process. Hagel failed to disclose it and at least one other speech.
When Krystal Ball was beaten in her bid to unseat incumbent Republican Congressman Rob Wittman in 2010, I thought it was due to his congressional district being Republican-leaning. It’s voted Republican for president since 1996. Wittman has been representing the district since 2007. Some people can point to her photo scandal, which showed some sexually suggestive poses from a Christmas party. Ball later said that the scandal was “devastating,” and “played into her insecurities about not being taken seriously as a female candidate.” Yes, that’s an obvious observation. Another reason she lost could be for statements like this:
“I voted for President Obama because I trust his values and his judgment, and I believe that he is a fundamentally responsible actor,” she added. “Without gratuitously slamming ex-President Bush, I think he displayed extraordinary lapses in judgment in executing his primary responsibility as commander-in-chief, and put troops in harm’s way imprudently.”
“President Obama would have exercised better judgment and he has exercised better judgment,” Ball said. “What would George W. Bush do? That’s our standard? We would never allow a power to the presidency that we wouldn’t feel comfortable giving to George W. Bush?”
Ball said that, for perspective, Obama has the “unilateral power to drop nuclear bombs and destroy the entire planet.” “Do you feel the same about George W. Bush having the nuclear codes as you do about President Obama?” Ball asked in conclusion. “Call me a hypocrite, but I sure don’t.”
On Wednesday the Senate canceled a vote on the confirmation of former Sen. Chuck Hagel to become the next Secretary of Defense. Today, Ben Shapiro reports on a possible reason for that delay.
On Thursday, Senate sources told Breitbart News exclusively that they have been informed that one of the reasons that President Barack Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, has not turned over requested documents on his sources of foreign funding is that one of the names listed is a group purportedly called “Friends of Hamas.”
Breitbart called the White House to ask about this development. White House Associate Communications Director Eric Schultz went silent, then hung up. Repeated attempts to call him back went to voicemail.
Even more disturbing than the possibility that Hagel has accepted funding from Friends of Hamas (Hamas is the terrorist group that governs the Palestinian territories), is the possibility that President Obama knew of the connection, but nominated Hagel to the nation’s top defense post anyway.
“How I Learned To Love The Drones” was the headline/caption Drudge Report used for the subject of our latest Tatler Photo Caption Contest.
Am I being presumptuous when I state that our photo caption contest fans are capable of writing much better ones? If so, prove me right!
This whole Obama Administration drone controversy with the leaked White Paper, not informing Congress of their policy, and the total lack of outrage by the mainstream media is perfectly timed for John Brennan’s confirmation hearing as CIA Director and sure to be non-stop cable catnip.
Of course there is great irony that drone strikes are being used with much greater frequency, and as the weapon of choice by our Nobel Peace Prize winning president, than by that “war criminal” President George W. Bush, but the level of vitriol towards President Obama is only polite quiet noise.
Now, as I write this, a breaking story has developed revealing that two major news outlets were complicit in helping Obama keep Saudi Arabian drone bases secret for the last year. If you ever doubted that the mainstream media is in bed with the Obama Administration this should put an end to that.
Just imagine if President George W. Bush had a similar secret memo with the legal justification for killing Americans with drones and hid it from the public and Congress, how quickly would the word impeachment have been tossed about? Then, if Bush had secret drone bases in Saudi Arabia, these same news outlets would have leaked it in a nano-second.
Thus, if you need to express some outrage at the double standard and hypocrisy in the media and on Capitol Hill between a Democrat president and a Republican president, this Tatler Photo Caption Contest is the place where you can unleash your rage against the machine. However, please try to stay within the rules of “be nice and stay classy because the media is watching.”
Now, if you need some clever examples of our rules in action, be sure to check out the winner’s of our last contest.
Good luck, have fun and rage on!
To date, the Obama White House has released very little information regarding the president’s whereabouts and actions on the night of 9-11-12, when the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya was under terrorist assault. Today, outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta shed some light on the president’s actions, but his testimony before the Senate raises more questions.
Under questioning from Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) Panetta says that President Obama knew “generally” what US military assets were deployed in the region, but did not ask for specifics. He left the strategy, according to Panetta, “up to us,” meaning himself and military leadership. Panetta says that after the initial briefing, which took place at about 5 pm Washington time, he had no further communications at all with President Obama that night. The president never even called to ask how the attack was progressing. No one from the White House ever called later that night, according to Panetta, to inquire about the attack. President Obama went to bed that night not even knowing whether the Americans under assault had survived the attack.
US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died in the assault, which the Obama administration later blamed on an obscure YouTube movie.
Penatta’s testimony appears to resolve one mystery. After the attack, the White House came under criticism for failing to release any photographs of the president taken during the attack. The White House eventually released a single photo, which it says shows the president receiving his initial briefing on the attack, from Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough. That is probably the briefing that Panetta mentioned as taking place at 5 pm local time. The attack went on for several more hours. Many have questioned why there have been no photos released of Obama monitoring the attack from the White House situation room. The answer appears to be that he never went to the situation room, and was not monitoring the attack.
In a tale of two memos, with the DOJ and Bybee documents respectively, news outlets, like the New York Times, seem to have a varying degree of outrage. We all know the Times is biased, however, I never thought they would go noticeably lighter on a Democratic president. Then again, who am I kidding? In 2001, when then-Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee approved of John Yoo’s Torture Memos when he worked in the Office of Legal Counsel – the Times called for Bybee’s impeachment by Congress when those documents were revealed by the Obama administration in 2009. He’s currently serving as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, a position he’s held since his appointment in 2003. However, the Times thought that:
[T]hese memos make it clear that Mr. Bybee is unfit for a job that requires legal judgment and a respect for the Constitution. Congress should impeach him. And if the administration will not conduct a thorough investigation of these issues, then Congress has a constitutional duty to hold the executive branch accountable. If that means putting Donald Rumsfeld and Alberto Gonzales on the stand, even Dick Cheney, we are sure Americans can handle it.
After eight years without transparency or accountability, Mr. Obama promised the American people both. His decision to release these memos was another sign of his commitment to transparency. We are waiting to see an equal commitment to accountability.
Now, with the DOJ memo that details how to legally kill an American abroad with drone strikes, the Times’ response is one of self-restraint.
The memo could and should have been released months ago. The administration could and should have provided a select number of lawmakers with the specifics on the killing of Mr. Awlaki and his son. The president could and should have acknowledged that decision and explained it.
Going forward, he should submit decisions like this one to review by Congress and the courts. If necessary, Congress could create a special court to handle this sort of sensitive discussion, like the one it created to review wiretapping. This dispute goes to the fundamental nature of our democracy, to the relationship among the branches of government and to their responsibility to the public.
So, one memo deals with the legality of simulated drowning, while the other details why it’s justified to kill Americans abroad. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that “these strikes are legal, they are ethical, and they are wise.” So, the Times called for the impeachment of a sitting judge, who signed off on a method that probably gave us the lead on bin Laden, but told the president that he should consult Congress the next time he wants to kill an American abroad. The disproportionate outrage couldn’t be more overt.
As ABC News’ Jon Karl put it succinctly in last night’s broadcast.
As soon as he became President, Barack Obama stopped CIA tactics like wateboarding that he considered torture. But this justifies outright killing a suspected terrorist. How does dropping a bomb on an American citizen without any judicial review, any trial, not raise any human rights questions, or more human rights questions, than something like waterboarding?
I’m not saying drone strikes are bad, or that targeting American-born terrorists violates due process. On the contrary, siding with the enemy and committing treason revokes your citizenship in my eyes, and therefore fire away Mr. President. However, Obama campaigned against the anti-Bush policies, and kept most of them in place. I’m just wondering when news outlets, like the Times, will finally convince themselves that it’s business as usual, and that Obama is being hypocritical in the extreme.
The inability of women in rural Egypt to clean their breasts is causing a diarrhoea epidemic, according to the country’s Prime Minister Hisham Qandil.
Qandil was speaking about the spate of recent epidemics in Egypt’s rural communities. During the address, he said he had witnessed children suffering from diarrhoea immediately after they have been breastfed because their mothers were unable to clean themselves probably.
Qandil made his remarks during an address at a cabinet meeting. Women members present were noticeably uncomfortable as Qandil made the comments.
Qandil previously caused widespread anger by offering a bizarre solution to Egypt’s power crisis. He urged the Egyptians to wear cotton clothes and gather in a single room to conserve power.
Our government helped pave these people’s path to power. And we just sent these people a fleet of F-16s.
- John Brennan and His Drone War, by Ron Radosh. The memo that would have had the Left raging, had it been Bush. More from Scott Ott: American Citizens Fair Game Under Obama Doctrine.
- USS Cole Suspect Complains of Marks on Wrist; Victims Describe Their Torture, by Bridget Johnson. “If al-Nashiri believes what he did is within his belief and that’s what Allah wanted or his god, well then man up, per se …and stop hiding behind our Constitution.”
- How a Mammogram Can Kill You, by Theodore Dalrymple. Nobody wants to talk about the lethal consequences of the misdiagnosis.
- ‘Muslim Patrols’: Sharia Enforcers Hit Britain’s Streets, by Mike McNally. Several videos posted online show gangs terrorizing random pedestrians.
- British Lawmakers Back Gay Marriage Plans, by Mike McNally. Change.
- Pete Sessions, and the Unbearable Disconnect of the GOP, by Mark Stuertz. It isn’t hard to see why the GOP is in sorry shape. Just spend a few moments talking with party leadership.
After Chuck Hagel’s shockingly bad confirmation hearing last week, will Republicans filibuster the vote to confirm him as our next Secretary of State? As Ed Morrissey wrote today on Hot Air, it’s unlikely – and John McCain said so.
“I do not believe that we should filibuster,” McCain told POLITICO. “To vote against is entirely the judgment of each individual senator, but a filibuster I think would be inappropriate.”
Asked if he would vote for cloture if a filibuster were mounted, McCain answered, “Yes.”
The White House and Democratic leadership are already confident that a solid majority exists for the Hagel to be confirmed on a simple majority vote. McCain’s opposition to a filibuster should make it easier to get the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture.
Republican Sens. Mike Johanns of Nebraska and Thad Cochran of Mississippi have already announced they would support Hagel, meaning that Democrats appear to have at least 57 senators ready to support his nomination if they can keep their caucus united.
So, Hagel will probably be confirmed, but not after a hearing that was, as Slate’s Dave Weigel aptly noted, a Fluster Chuck of epic proportions. From flubbing his response on the surge to being unable to name one detrimental policy initiative advocated on behalf of the so-called “Jewish/Israel lobby,” the next Secretary of Defense looked amazingly unprepared. Heck, he even admitted he wasn’t qualified for the job. Nevertheless, Morrissey noted former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Michele Flournoy, as being “more on the ball” on the dynamics of DoD than Hagel.
She wrote in The Wall Street Journal today that:
[U]nfortunately, the United States has an abysmal record of managing postwar drawdowns of defense spending. Almost all have resulted in a “hollow force”—too much force structure with too little investment in people, readiness and modernization.
Why? Because the easiest way to reduce Defense Department spending quickly is to enact across-the-board cuts in military end-strength, operations and maintenance, and procurement—solving the budget problem on the back of the force rather than on the department writ large.
In past drawdowns after World War II, Vietnam and the Cold War, American planners assumed a period of peace. But as the U.S. transitions in Afghanistan, no such calm appears on the horizon. From instability in the Middle East to al Qaeda’s resurgence in northern Africa, North Korea’s continued provocations and Iran’s dogged pursuit of nuclear weapons, the global security environment remains dangerous and volatile.
In this context, the U.S. must take care to preserve the military capabilities it needs to protect America’s interests now and in the future. The armed forces must retain the ability and agility to respond rapidly and effectively to a broad range of contingencies. Deep cuts to force structure, readiness and modernization should be the last resort, not the default course of action.
She also names a few areas where we can trim the fat in the Pentagon.
So where should policy makers reduce spending?
• First, eliminate unnecessary overhead in the Pentagon, defense agencies and headquarters staffs. Since 2001, these have grown like weeds. Over the past decade, the number of DOD civilians increased by more than 100,000, to roughly 778,000 in 2010, while the number of contractors also ballooned.
• Second, take steps to reduce the costs of military health care without sacrificing quality of care. The current trajectory of the Pentagon’s health-care spending is unsustainable. DOD’s medical costs have more than doubled since 2001, to more than 10% of the defense budget from roughly 6%, and they are growing faster than any other federal health-care program: 10.6% per year, compared with 9% for the Veterans Administration and 8.5% for Medicare. Overall, U.S. health-care costs are rising 6.3% per year.
• Third, cut excess infrastructure. Since the last Base Realignment and Closure Commission in the late 1990s, Congress has prevented the Defense Department from closing bases it no longer needs or consolidating infrastructure to better support evolving missions. This inability to shed or realign facilities hangs like an albatross around the department’s neck, consuming billions of dollars that could otherwise go to readiness and modernization. Congress should grant DOD’s request for another Base Realignment and Closure Commission round this year.
Yes, Flourney is a Democrat, but she obviously has a better understanding of our defense policy, which begs the question why didn’t Obama nominate her in the first place? It’s not like he didn’t now her. According to Karen DeYoung at the Washington Post, she was on his national security transition team, and “one of the most senior women civilians ever to serve at the Pentagon” DeYoung, who wrote this piece in December of 2011, added that Flournoy decided to step down to spend more time with her family, and assist in President Obama’s re-election campaign.
She’s not a Republican, but now it’s a question of who’s qualified – and Chuck Hagel is certainly not the one to replace Panetta. Concerning Flournoy, she probably should have been picked. There was plenty of media supporting her nomination here, here, and here.
Also, if she was asked, who would turn down the chance to serve the president, and be the first woman to head the Department of Defense? Sure, it can be seen as pandering, but all levels of politics has that element. While I might not agree with her on some areas of policy, Flournoy surely has the leadership capabilities,the institutional acumen, the respect of the military, and the ability to foster productive relationships needed to keep the Pentagon an effective slice of government.
Instead, Obama selected another Vietnam veteran, who is more or less, averse to interventionism, says silly things about Jewish people, and knows little about the department he’s been chosen to run.
Four years and a few insults and slights later, Barack Obama is going to Israel.
President Obama will travel to Israel next month, the White House confirmed Tuesday. According to Israeli media Obama is scheduled to arrive March 20.
White House officials would not confirm the date. But Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the National Security Council, said Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed a possible visit in a phone call last month. It will be Obama’s first trip to Israel as president, and comes as Israeli and Palestinian leaders are at odds over how to restart peace negotiations that have been dormant for more than two years.
Yeah, they’re at odds. The Palestinians still want to eradicate Israel, and the Israelis aren’t keen on the idea. Obama wants Israel to retreat to indefensible borders, Israel isn’t keen on that either. These are among the little sticking points in the peace negotiations.
Besides that, Obama and Netanyahu will have the Iranian nuclear program – containment, confusion, let’s call the whole thing off — and the rise of Islamism in Egypt to discuss. So it should make for an interesting trip.
A Defense Department white paper, likely leaked by a Senator on the Intelligence Committee, advocates killing U.S. citizens abroad who are working with terrorist groups…no news there. But it also loosens up the definition of what justifies a drone-launched hellfire hit to the point where Americans will have to trust that the president killed him because some men just need killin’.
Call it the Obama Drone Doctrine, the white paper — which is not classified and does not carry the weight of law — actually expands on previous statements made by White House Counterterrorism Director John Brennan, and Attorney General Eric Holder. Brennan is Obama’s nominee for CIA director, facing Senate confirmation hearings this week.
It’s not an illegal assassination, according to the 16-page white paper, even if the uncharged, unconvicted U.S. citizen doesn’t seem to be planning any specific, imminent attack on U.S. interests. The president can order a citizen killed even if he thinks it might be too risky to capture him.
Even the chattering Left acknowledges that this would have been a huge controversy if it had come up during the Bush administration.
But I’m tired of saying and hearing: “Can you imagine what they would have said if Bush did this?” The Bush v. Obama comparisons get us nowhere.
Let’s examine this on its own merits. Bush is not the benchmark for appropriate exercise of presidential power, the Constitution is.
The real question: “Can you imagine if a president of the United States did this?”
- Oppose Brennan for CIA Director, by Andrew C. McCarthy. A country that was serious about its national security would never put John Brennan in charge.
- What Do You Do with a Broken Party? By Stephen Green. Saving the GOP — from itself.
- GOP Realists vs. the True Believers, by Rick Moran. Victory in 2014 seems farther away today than it did yesterday.
- Author of UN Torture Document to be Expert in Gitmo USS Cole Trial, by Bridget Johnson. The taxpayer price tag so far for Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri’s experts is more than half a million dollars; his lawyer claims accused mastermind has torture PTSD.
- Why Chuck Hagel Is So Frightening: He’s Typical, by Barry Rubin. Anti-Americanism, the hallmark of the “in crowd.”
- Going to Court in the Allen West Contest, by J. Christian Adams. Cleaning up the voter rolls: first, filing suit regarding PJ Media’s Allen West and his 2012 race. (Click here for Allen West at PJ Media’s Next Generation TV.)
- Super Bowl XLVII: Lights Out for Today’s Nihilistic Pop Culture, by Ed Driscoll. America needs a pop culture that lives up to the quality of the game on the field.
- 7 Types of Dudes Who Annoy Everyone Just By Their Very Existence, by John Hawkins. Know when people say, “Just be yourself?” Well, don’t.
The exchange appeared to mark several firsts in Iranian politics—the first time an Iranian president has used a public forum to launch potentially criminal allegations about another official, especially incorporating incriminating documents, which is another rarity in Iranian politics. In a political culture that places much stock in public politeness, it was also appeared to be the first time a parliament speaker has levied insults and counteraccusations in the face of a sitting president.
The exchange suggests an erosion in the authority of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final word on all state matters. Mr. Khamenei has repeatedly warned rival political factions not to publicize their spats. In October, he said that anyone who creates divisions in the run-up to June presidential elections has committed treason.
It’s a little frightening to think of Ahmadinejad as more than just a puppet for Khamenei, as he seems to be the crazier of the two. On the other hand, it’s nice to know the psycho is cracking under pressure.
Pleasant place, that Iran, no?
A Republican congressman called Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) racist for making a joke about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s space ambitions.
Fresh off the Islamic Republic swearing that it really did send a monkey into orbit, the president has volunteered to go to space himself, reported Mehr News Agency this morning.
“I am ready to be the first human to be sent to space by Iranian scientists,” Ahmadinejad said.
“So Ahmadinejad wants to be first Iranian in space – wasn’t he just there last week? ‘Iran launches monkey into space,’” McCain tweeted.
Some 20 minutes later, after multiple replies accusing him of making a racist slur, the senator followed up with, “Re: Iran space tweet – lighten up folks, can’t everyone take a joke?”
In response to his explainer, Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) tweeted, “Maybe you should wisen up & not make racist jokes.”
If only disposal of all tyrants was this voluntary.
Fresh off the Islamic Republic swearing that it really did send a monkey into orbit, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has volunteered to go to space himself, reports Mehr News Agency this morning.
On the sidelines of a visit to a space exhibition, Ahmadinejad said “sending living things to space is the result of Iranian efforts and dedication of thousands of Iranian professional scientists.”
“I am ready to be the first human to be sent to space by Iranian scientists,” the president said.
“We should admit that some do not tolerate Iranian greatness and growth. Iranians has incited devils’ hatred by Iranian idealism, perfectionism, and being human.”
Yesterday, Mehr decried the U.S. for not believing that it had launched a monkey into space.
“When White House Spokesperson appeared quite nervous and agitated before reporters and expressed US concerns over Iranian astronaut monkey’s health, it was quite revealing,” the Mehr report said, adding illustrative space monkey photos to prove the Iranian government’s point.
- The Limits of Self-Criticism: Israel’s Oscar-Nominated The Gatekeepers, by Roger L Simon. Israel as political Rorschach test.
- Guns in America: A Question of Trust, by Alex Joffe. More guns are being sold in America now than at any point in history, precisely because Americans are being told they cannot be trusted with guns.
- Neutered: Radical Feminism Hits the Military, by Kayleigh McEnany. Legislating away gender differences.
- The Boomer Moment: Esiason Doesn’t Buy Ray Lewis’ Excuses in Double Murder, by Bridget Johnson. Lewis to CBS: I buy everyone off, NBD.
- The Source of Both Infinite Happiness and Meaning, by Dave Swindle. A very square, geeky, somewhat embarrassing solution. Too bad it works.
- 5 Ideas You Need to Rise From Poverty to the Middle Class, by Walter Hudson. Getting ahead requires leaving some things behind.
- Why I’m Canceling My Sports Illustrated Subscription, by Andrew Klavan. This week’s SI, with its smarmy and poorly reported article on religion in football, isn’t an offense to God, it’s offense to journalism.
- Put Aside Cynicism: Glory in the Super Bowl Hype and Embrace the Overkill, by Rick Moran. The Super Bowl is part of what makes America exceptional. A very square, geeky, somewhat embarrassing solution. Too bad it works.
- Thirteen Ideas for the 2013 GOP, by Patrick Reddy. Advice for a directionless party.
- Navy SEAL who wrote American Sniper Murdered at Charity Event in Texas, by Ed Driscoll. Chris Kyle, 38, the most lethal sniper in US history, had 160 confirmed kills in Iraq. He was shot on Saturday at a shooting range, apparently by a fellow vet, who was reported to be possibly suffering from PTSD.
- The UN Bigotry Machine, by Claudia Rosett. Still obsessively savaging Israel …
- The 3 Best Monty Python Sketches (Aren’t Necessarily the Funniest), by Kathy Shaidle. Monty Python saved my life. Their best sketches stand up today because they’re such accurate portraits of human nature.
- A Hill To Fight On — Not a Desk to Die Under, by Michael Walsh.
- For once, the battle over the Second Amendment is a fight conservatives can actually win. More: Is the NRA Winning the Influence Battle?
- What Near-Death Experiences Tell Us, by P. David Hornik. What happens when science demonstrates consciousness can exist outside the body?
- Muhammad Morsi’s Islamic Jew-Hatred, Bernard Lewis’ Islamic Negationism, by Andrew G. Bostom. Why do the media’s Middle East pundits ignore the Jew-hatred intrinsic to Islamic doctrine?
- Modern Democratic ‘Fire-Eaters,’ by Clayton E. Cramer. The outrageous rhetoric and threats coming from some Democrats demonstrate the necessity of the Second Amendment.
Bridget Johnson reported earlier on WH spokesman Jay Carney’s positive take on former Sen. Chuck Hagel’s nomination hearings Thursday. According to Carney, Hagel answered the questions put to him “appropriately” and that overall, he did just fine.
Privately, though, the Obama White House is telling a very different story. According to a report in the New York Times, Hagel not only failed to answer appropriately, he failed to describe the Obama administration’s position on Iran coherently. Hagel told the committee that he agrees with the administration’s “containment” policy regarding Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The problem is, that’s not the Obama administration’s public position.
“It’s somewhere between baffling and incomprehensible,” a member of Mr. Obama’s own team of advisers on Iran said on Thursday night when asked about Mr. Hagel’s stumbling performance on the question during the all-day hearing. The worry was evident in the voice of the official, who would not speak on the record while criticizing the performance of the president’s nominee. For those who question whether the no-containment cornerstone of the Obama approach to Tehran is for real, or just diplomatic rhetoric, Mr. Hagel clearly muddled the message, he said.
Hagel got the position right in his prepared, pre-written opening remarks that had been vetted by the administration. Then he got it wrong under questioning. And then, he just made a hash of it all.
Mr. Hagel went down a different road. “I support the president’s strong position on containment,” he said, appearing, perhaps by imprecision, to suggest that the president’s view was that a nuclear Iran could be contained. (Mr. Obama has gone on to explain that containment would fail because other players in the neighborhood – probably led by Saudi Arabia – would race for the bomb as soon as Iran had one.)
Then an aide slipped a piece of paper to Mr. Hagel. He glanced at it, then said: “By the way, I’ve just been handed a note that I misspoke and said I supported the president’s position on containment. If I said that, it meant to say that obviously — on his position on containment — we don’t have a position on containment.”
The fact that Hagel got it right in the remarks that the administration had vetted, then got it wrong under questioning, suggests that he at best he simply doesn’t understand the administration’s policy — a policy he is being vetted to implement. At worst, “containment” is actually the Obama policy, and Hagel accidentally let the cat of of the bag.
The distinction is important. If containment really is the Obama policy, then the president fully intends to allow the Iranians to develop and acquire nuclear weapons. Then, the thinking goes, they could be “contained” in the way the Soviet nuclear arsenal was contained during the Cold War. The large gap in that thinking is in the nature of the two very different regimes. The secular Soviets could be expected to act rationally in order to preserve themselves. They wanted to take over the world, not destroy it or get themselves destroyed in the process. Some members of the apocalyptic Iranian regime have stated that it will use its nuclear weapons to wipe Israel off the map and usher in a war that would lead to the emergence of the Islamic messiah. “Containment” would not be effective, once such a genocidal regime obtains the weapons it seeks.
Hagel’s testimony has raised the possibility that containment really is his and Barack Obama’s policy, they just have no plans to tell the American people. Plus, Chuck Hagel is an awful secret keeper.
- Chuck Hagel Humiliates Chuck Schumer: Obama’s ‘Good Jews’ Revisited, by Roger L Simon. And what about Messrs. Dershowitz and Koch? How will they react to yesterday’s farce?
- Ten Years After Columbia, by Rand Simberg. A moment by moment review of how the Columbia space shuttle fell apart high above the western United States.
- Hagel Confirmation Hearing: The Mother of All Bombs, by Bridget Johnson. The would-be Defense secretary fumbled and bumbled his way through questions about budget, administration policy, and his rhetorical minefields. ALSO: CIA nominee didn’t review CIA report.
- Hey, Jews, the Joke’s on You! By Andrew Klavan. Ladies and gentlemen, the comedy stylings of Mr. Chuck Hagel.
- Can the GOP Find a Path Forward? By Rich Baehr. Republicans are in better shape than Democrats were following their 2004 debacle.
- PJTV’s Afterburner: What Difference Does It Make? (Video), by PJTV. Click to watch video.
- Misfire: Joe Biden’s ‘Shotgun vs. Rifle’ Comments, by Howard Nemerov. Another falsehood is fair game for gun-control advocates.
- The Distinction Between Sin and Crime, by Walter Hudson. Should unholiness be illegal?
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) got a vote today on his amendment to the debt limit bill that would prohibit the U.S. government from selling F-16 military aircraft, M1 tanks, and similar military weapons to the Egyptian government.
“I think it is a blunder of the first proportion to send sophisticated weapons to a country that allowed a mob to attack our embassy and to burn our flag. I find it objectionable to send weapons, F-16s and tanks, to a company that allowed a mob chanting ‘death to America’ to threaten our American diplomats,” Paul said in a floor speech.
That amendment failed 79-19.
So he molded the amendment into a standalone bill and introduced a bill “to prohibit the sale, lease, transfer, retransfer, or delivery of F-16 aircraft, M1 tanks, or certain other defense articles or services to the Government of Egypt.”
“I think this is particularly unwise since Egypt is currently governed by a religious zealot, a religious zealot who said recently that ‘Jews were bloodsuckers and descendants of apes and pigs.’ This doesn’t sound like the kind of stable personality we would be sending our most sophisticated weapons to,” Paul said.
“I think it is a grave mistake to send F-16s and tanks to a country that detained American citizens on trumped up political charges. On a country that currently is still detaining Egyptian citizens on trumped-up political charges.”
On 2016 watch, Paul will be delivering a “major foreign policy speech” on Feb. 6 at the Heritage Foundation here in Washington.
According to his office, “Sen. Paul’s speech, ‘Restoring the Founders’ Vision of Foreign Policy,’ will discuss his vision of a foreign policy that respects the plain language of our Constitution, the legal powers of Congress and the proper duties of the Commander-in-Chief, as well as outline a platform for which America can better avoid never-ending conflict and protracted commitments.”
Report: Israel’s Air Force Strikes Suspect Convoy Near Syrian-Lebanese Border (Update: Game-Changing Missiles?)
It has been reported–but not confirmed–that Israel’s air force hit a convoy near the Syrian-Lebanese border, presumably chemical weapons being shipped to Hizballah. This is NOT yet confirmed by Israel.
The Independent has more details.
If this pans out, it is a major development. Syria’s possession of chemical weapons has been long known, as has its alliance with Hizballah.
The Obama administration last year warned the Syrian regime against using chemical weapons in its ongoing civil war.
Update: The Jerusalem Post reports:
An unnamed security source told AFP: “The Israeli air force blew up a convoy which had just crossed the border from Syria into Lebanon.”
An activist in Syria who works with a network of opposition groups around the country said that she had heard of a strike in southern Syria from her colleagues but could not confirm.
The IDF has declined to comment on reports of a strike on the Syrian-Lebanese border. “We do not comment on reports of this kind,” an IDF spokeswoman said.
Update: YNet News reports:
The two officials did not say what the target was. But they said Wednesday that Israel had been making plans in the days leading up to the airstrike to hit a shipment of weapons bound for the anti-Israel militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon.
They said the shipment included sophisticated, Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles, which would be strategically “game-changing” in the hands of Hezbollah.
SA-17 missiles are self-propelled and have the capacity to hit jets at a low altitude. Its downside is its radar dependency.
Analysts estimate that Assad’s regime has a clear interest in transferring advanced “game-changing” weapons to Hezbollah in order to repay it for its assistance in Syria’s war against the rebels and to prevent the weapons from falling into rebels’ hands.
Hezbollah in turn could use the long-range Scud-D missiles to threaten Israel’s hinterland and defend itself against an Israeli airstrike.