For months I’ve been reporting here at PJ Media about the ongoing cooperation between US-backed “vetted moderate” Syrian rebel units and designated terrorist groups ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria. This includes U.S.-backed rebel units who have defected wholesale to ISIS and Al-Qaeda.
Despite multiple reports of this cooperation, in September the congressional GOP leadership jumped on board with Obama’s proposal to spend an additional $500 million to arm and train the “vetted moderates” just weeks before the Obama administration abandoned the Free Syrian Army that had been the primary beneficiary of U.S. support for the past three years.
Now reports this weekend indicate growing cooperation between U.S.-backed rebels and Jabhat al-Nusra operating in southern Syria.
According to the LA Times:
Opposition activists reported intensified government bombardment in and around Sheik Maskin and the arrival of battle-tested loyalist reinforcements.
Fighting along with U.S.-backed rebels were elements of Al Nusra Front, the official Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria.
In a Facebook posting, Al Nusra supporters reported “vicious battles” in the Sheik Maskin area. Earlier posts also eulogized a prominent Al Nusra commander, Abu Humam Jazrawi, who was killed in the fighting.
Al Nusra’s participation illustrates how Western-supported rebel groups often cooperate with the Al Qaeda franchise, though both sides try to play down the extent of coordination. Recent clashes between Al Nusra Front and U.S.-backed rebels in northwestern Syria do not appear to have broken the de facto alliance between the Al Qaeda affiliate and West-backed fighters in the south. (emphasis added)
Meanwhile, in northern Syria as “vetted moderate” groups were forming an umbrella with hardcore jihadist groups, such as Ahrar al-Sham, other U.S.-backed units were surrendering to Jabhat al-Nusra (a trend I noted last month) and turning over their CIA-provided arms to Ahrar al-Sham, McClatchy reports:
On Friday, as the groups were meeting here, the Nusra Front stormed the bases of two moderate rebel groups in Syria’s north: the Ansar Brigades in Idlib and the Haqq Front in Hama. The two groups, both of which were receiving U.S. support through a covert CIA program, surrendered to Nusra, delivered their weapons to Ahrar al Sham and returned to their homes. (emphasis added)
And today Syria analyst Aron Lund noted that the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army signed an agreement last week with Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham for the Qalamoun area near the Lebanese border guaranteeing the imposition of sharia and creating a mutual defense pact.
The “vetted moderate” follies continue.
Our latest contest photo and headline come to us from the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, who wrote at “The Fix” blog:
But, all of the reporting on the departure suggests that it was not really Hagel’s decision at all. And, judging from the body language and facial expressions on display at the announcement this morning, the reporting is right. Big time.
And to that I say, “Who needs a secretary of Defense anyway when we have such a strong commander in chief — winner of the Nobel Peace Prize?”
Caption-contest fans will find my declaration very comforting because we know a “Peace Through Strength” sign hangs in the Oval Office. (Shhhhh, Obama does not want you to know that he crossed out “Through Strength” with his famous “red line” using a Sharpie.)
For more on why Hagel “resigned” be sure to read Bridget Johnson’s report here at PJ Media. Here is my favorite line:
“You’ve always given it to me straight and for that I’ll always be grateful,” said Obama.
Now for more “straight” talk, click to the next page to find out the winners of our last contest, which posed the question:
“Is Our King Playing with a Full Deck?”
How about taking a look at your hosts…
QOM, Iran (AP) — Shiite and Sunni clerics from about 80 countries gathered in Iran’s holy city of Qom on Sunday to develop a strategy to combat extremists, including the Islamic State group that has captured large parts of Iraq and Syria.
Shiite-majority Iran has been helping Iraqi, Syrian and Kurdish forces battle the Sunni extremist group on the ground while the U.S.-led coalition has been bombing it from the air. The Islamic State group views Shiites as apostates deserving of death and has massacred hundreds of captured Syrian and Iraqi soldiers, as well as Sunni rivals.
Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi, the chief organizer of the conference, appealed for consensus among Islam’s two main branches, urging all Muslim clerics to work to discredit groups espousing extremism.
Such as, the regime that routinely calls the United States the “Great Satan,” Israel the “Little Satan,” and calls for the latter to be wiped off the face of the earth? No?
Some of the clerics there said helpful things about taking ISIS down. Others…not so much.
Others repeated widely-circulated conspiracy theories holding that the United States and Israel created the Islamic State group to sow discord in the Muslim world.
“IS is a pawn whose job is to deepen divisions among Muslims,” said Mahdi Alizadeh Mousavi, a lower-level Iranian Shiite cleric.
Yahoo news helpfully notes that Iran isn’t really the model state for combating terrorism.
Iran is a strong backer of the Lebanese Hezbollah — viewed as a terrorist group in the West — and supports Iraqi Shiite militias that rights groups say have abducted and killed scores of Sunni civilians in reprisal attacks.
Iran also kept the Iraqi insurgency going for years. So there’s that.
Departing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel may have sealed his exit in this interview with Charlie Rose last week. Rose conducted the interview at the Pentagon.
In the interview, Hagel made two key points that serve as accusations that President Barack Obama is mismanaging the United States military and the ISIS threat.
Rose asked Hagel to elaborate on comments that he made in a speech at the Reagan Library last weekend. In that speech, Hagel said that America’s military capability, while still the best in the world, is being threatened.
Hagel re-iterated that to Rose, but also left viewers to wonder about the direction that President Obama is taking the military.
“I am worried about it, I am concerned about it, Chairman Dempsey is, the chiefs are, every leader of this institution,” Hagel said, including Pentagon leadership but leaving both President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden’s names out of his list of officials who are worried about the U.S. military’s declining capability. Hagel said that the Congress and the American people need to know what while the U.S. military remains the strongest, best trained and most motivated in the world, its lead is being threatened because of policies being implemented now.
Hagel went on to note that a good leader prepares their institution for future success, saying that “the main responsibility of any leader is to prepare your institution for the future. If you don’t do that, you’ve failed. I don’t care how good you are, how smart you are, any part of your job. If you don’t prepare your institution, you’ve failed.”
In the past couple of years, Hagel has warned that defense budget cuts implemented under President Obama were hurting readiness and capability. The “how smart you are” line may be a veiled shot at President Obama, who basks in a media image that he is a cerebral, professorial president.
In the same interview, Hagel also commented on the rise of ISIS and how it must be fought. Hagel charged that Obama’s handling of the ISIS threat is now indirectly assisting Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.
While President Obama has downplayed the ISIS threat, even calling the group “jayvee” as it rose to power, Hagel warned last week that it is a threat unlike any other we have ever faced.
“We’ve never seen an organization like ISIL that is so well-organized, so well-trained, so well-funded, so strategic, so brutal, so completely ruthless,” Hagel said. “We have never seen anything quite like that in one institution.
“And then they blend in ideology — which will eventually lose, we get that — and social media. The sophistication of their social media program is something that we’ve never seen before. You blend all of that together, that is an incredibly powerful new threat.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) today released a “declaration of war against the Islamic State” with the intention of introducing when Congress comes back into session after Thanksgiving.
The resolution would kill the 2002 Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force and put a one-year expiration date on the 2001 Afghanistan AUMF. The administration has been leaning upon those war on terror statutes to conduct current operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
It notes that “the organization referring to itself as the Islamic State has declared war on the United States and its allies” and “presents a clear and present danger to United States diplomatic facilities in the region, including our embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.”
“The state of war between the United States and the organization referring to itself as the Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has been thrust upon the United States, is hereby formally declared pursuant to Article I, section 8, clause 11, of the United States Constitution,” the resolution states.
“The President is hereby authorized and directed to use the Armed Forces of the United States to protect the people and facilities of the United States in Iraq and Syria against the threats posed thereto by the organization referring to itself as the Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).”
It clarifies that it can’t be “construed as declaring war or authorizing force against any organization” except ISIS or direct affiliates.
It limit the use of ground forces except “as necessary for the protection or rescue of members of the United States Armed Forces or United States citizens from imminent danger posed by the organization referring to itself as the Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS); for limited operations against high value targets; or as necessary for advisory and intelligence gathering operations.”
The lame duck Senate, still under Democratic control, has at least one major national decision to make: confirming departing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s successor. That is, if President Obama nominates Hagel’s successor before the session ends.
The Senate could and should take up an important national security bill before the 113th Congress’ clock runs out. That bill is S.2329, the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act of 2014. The bill directs the president to designate Hezbollah,up to now viewed primarily as a terrorist group and national security threat, as a significant narcotics trafficker and a significant transnational criminal organization.
Hezbollah has American blood on its hands. The terrorist group bombed the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon on October 23, 1983, killing 241 American personnel. The group was founded in 1982 and has been an officially designated terrorist group for nearly 20 years. But it has flourished, thanks to its Iranian patronage and to its extensive criminal activities. In addition to launching numerous attacks against Israel, Hezbollah has killed civilians in attacks all over the world.
S.2329 was introduced by Sen. Jean Shaheen (D-NH) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in May 2013. There has been no Senate action on it since.
The House version passed unanimously on July 22, 2014. It has 321 co-sponsors in the House, including conservatives like Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) and liberals like Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL).
In the Senate, in addition to Shaheen and Rubio, the bill has 55 co-sponsors from both parties. Those co-sponsors include conservative Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and liberal Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). It has support across the ideological divide, in both houses of Congress, and for good reason: It would enable the United States to bring new law enforcement firepower to bear against a major international terrorist group, in two key ways.
One, it would “prevent Hezbollah’s global logistics and financial network from operating in order to curtail funding of its domestic and international activities.” Two, it would “utilize diplomatic, legislative, and executive avenues to combat Hezbollah’s criminal activities in order to block that organization’s ability to fund its global terrorist activities.”
The bill would also go after Hezbollah’s broadcasting operations and its worldwide logistics network. By choking off its finances and its propaganda, the U.S. may eliminate Hezbollah as a threat both to our country and to our allies. Doing so would weaken Iran’s hand as the U.S. and our allies look to curb Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions.
The U.S. has had some important successes in choking off Hezbollah’s criminal funding streams over the past few years, by prosecuting banks and individuals found to be assisting Hezbollah’s financial operations. But more tools are needed to fight Hezbollah.
The bill is needed, in short, because it would add Hezbollah’s criminal activities to its its ideological-terrorism activities as crimes which the U.S. government and our allies would vigorously fight worldwide. The fact is, while Hezbollah receives funding from Iran to conduct its operations primarily against Israel, it is also a major worldwide drug trafficking network and money laundering operation. Hezbollah is both an Islamic terrorist group and a violent drug cartel. Its cartel activities fund its mass murder attacks. But its criminal activities mostly take a back seat to its ideological activities, in terms of national security priorities and its overall treatment by the United States.
S.2329 would change that, and bring significant law enforcement tools to bear against Hezbollah. These tools will help close off the terrorist group’s finance streams all over the world, and put countries that host Hezbollah on notice that they are harboring a group that the United States now considers a major global criminal network as well as an ideological foe.
All the Senates needs to do is pass the bipartisan bill. Then it would go to President Obama’s desk for his signature, and the United States would significantly ramp up the fight against Hezbollah terrorism, all over the world.
Breaking news today: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is leaving the Obama administration. The NY Times reports that Hagel is the first casualty from the Democrats’ massive defeat on Nov. 4.
WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is stepping down under pressure, the first cabinet-level casualty of the collapse of President Obama’s Democratic majority in the Senate and a beleaguered national security team that has struggled to stay ahead of an onslaught of global crises.
The president, who is expected to announce Mr. Hagel’s resignation in a Rose Garden appearance on Monday, made the decision to ask his defense secretary — the sole Republican on his national security team — to step down last Friday after a series of meetings over the past two weeks, senior administration officials said.
Hagel has “struggled to fit in” with Obama’s close circle of advisers, according to the Times, and initiated talks over his future in October.
Hagel’s departure will be announced in the White House Rose Garden this afternoon.
Hagel was the lone Republican left in Obama’s national security team. He got off to a disheartening start at Defense, in incoherent confirmation hearings. Hagel has presided over a sharp rise in the Islamic State threat, a threat that he and President Obama publicly saw very differently.
He raised the ire of the White House in August as the administration was ramping up its strategy to fight the Islamic State, directly contradicting the president, who months before had likened the Sunni militant group to a junior varsity basketball squad. Mr. Hagel, facing reporters in his now-familiar role next to General Dempsey, called the Islamic State an “imminent threat to every interest we have,” adding, “This is beyond anything that we’ve seen.” White House officials later said they viewed those comments as unhelpful, although the administration still appears to be struggling to define just how large is the threat posed by the Islamic State.
Possible replacements include former undersecretary of defense Michèle Flournoy, Democrat Sen. Jack Reed (RI), and former deputy defense secretary Ashton Carter, according to the Times.
Earlier this month I reported here at PJ Media on the surrender and defections of U.S.-backed Syrian rebel troops to Jabhat al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda’s official affiliate), most notably the Syrian Revolutionaries Front, which the DC foreign policy establishment was hailing as “the West’s best fighting chance against Syria’s Islamist armies,” and Harkat al-Hazm, the first group to receive heavy weaponry from the U.S. earlier this year.
Now Mona Mahmood of the Guardian reports that elements of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are defecting to ISIS:
US air strikes in Syria are encouraging anti-regime fighters to forge alliances with or even defect to Islamic State (Isis), according to a series of interviews conducted by the Guardian.
Fighters from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Islamic military groups are joining forces with Isis, which has gained control of swaths of Syria and Iraq and has beheaded six western hostages in the past few months.
Some brigades have transferred their allegiance, while others are forming tactical alliances or truces. Support among civilians also appears to be growing in some areas as a result of resentment over US-led military action.
“Isis now is like a magnet that attracts large numbers of Muslims,” said Abu Talha, who defected from the FSA a few months ago and is now in negotiations with other fighters from groups such as the al-Nusra Front to follow suit.
As the article notes, rebels perceive the U.S. airstrikes against ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra as a “war on Islam”:
[FSA fighter Murad] and his fellow fighters were awaiting the arrival of Isis militants in Homs, he added. “The moment Isis fighters touch the soil of the Homs countryside, we will be the first to fight with them at the front. This [US-led] military coalition is not against Isis, it is against entire Islam.”
This sentiment is hardly aberrant among the so-called “vetted moderate” Syrian rebels. As I reported back in September, the U.S.-backed Harakat al-Hazm issued a statement at the outset of the U.S. anti-ISIS bombing campaign saying it was ”an attack on the revolution.”
And I’ve also previously reported that many of these U.S.-backed and armed “vetted moderate” groups have shifting alliances that include fighting with ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra.
As far back as July there were reports that large groups of FSA units were defecting to al-Qaeda and ISIS, surrendering their U.S.-provided weapons along the way, and that other FSA units were forging peace deals and fighting alongside al-Qaeda and ISIS in some areas.
While most of the D.C. foreign policy establishment was promoting the arming of the so-called “vetted moderate” FSA, a few of us were openly skeptical of any effort to back so-called “moderate jihadists.” Whether by Republicans or Democrats, such efforts in the past have always ended in tears for the U.S. and led to increased threats to our national security.
This policy in Syria has been so disastrous the Obama administration has been openly distancing themselves from their “vetted moderate” Syrian rebel partners.
Remarkably, as I noted earlier this month, congressional Republican leadership jumped on board with Obama’s policies at the very moment he was abandoning them, voting to spend another $500 million to arm and train the “vetted moderates.” Meanwhile, some GOP figures who supported Obama’s policies of supporting and arming the FSA since 2011, namely John McCain and Lindsey Graham, have been unapologetic in the face of the collapse and defections of their “vetted moderate” friends.
It remains to be seen whether the new Congress that will be seated in January will follow the folly of the current Congress in providing training, money and weapons to the FSA. But expect these defections by the FSA and other U.S.-backed groups to ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra to continue.
Last week I had the honor of attending the FIDF (Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces) gala in San Francisco. My invite was completely unplanned yet still eye-opening. I happened to casually meet an FIDF officer’s wife who was displaying her handcrafted jewelry at a Greek festival, and after chatting with her for sometime her husband invited my spouse and I to be their guests at their $10,000 table. So we there you have it.
One word capped the evening best: Heartstrings. I was so moved by the evening that I needed a week of respite to digest the effect the powerful evening had on me. In fact, looking back the evening holds even more importance after news broke of the recent ISIS (ISIL) beheading of American Peter Kassig. Once again, proving how important our Middle East allies are and how we must treat them with the upmost respect.
Note to Obama: LIKE Israel, Respect Netanyahu
More beheadings brings home a renewed awareness of how critical our ties with Israel and Egypt are to the US. For starters, Israel is known as the “Little Satan” and of course the USA is considered the “Big Satan.” Egypt after all is the most open of the Middle East countries. It’s known for its great philosophers and for leading the pack. It was and still is the only Middle East country that signed a peace treaty with Israel. It holds an important key to the future of the Middle East. For those who don’t follow Middle East politics closely, Egypt is the game changer. Egypt must flourish with its great scholars and liberalism to lead the rest of its neighbors. And just in case it went unnoticed, ISIS is doing its best to be the game changer. The well-funded, well-organized group of 8 million strong (supported by 40 million last year) is baiting the USA to send even more boots to fight them then the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. This call marks a new phase in war where our mad-masked enemy is not only unafraid of us, they taunting us into ground bloody assaults. Their call signals a type of bravado that we have yet to witness by any other terrorist group. I guess they think the head-rolling hobby they have going on is all that. Guess again.
Hearting Israel Stateside
Back to the gala. I’m one of those unique pro-Israel advocates who has never stepped foot in the Jewish nation-state let alone the Middle East. Closest I’ve come to Israel is Tunisia. Yet to my credit I’m likely one of the best layman’s experts on the Jewish nation-state you’ll ever meet. How so? Let me explain.
I not only converted to Judaism in 2008, launched a blog on Israel and world politics in 2009 on my jenniferhanin.com, co-founded Act For Israel, coauthored Becoming Jewish: the Challenges, Rewards and Paths to Conversion (Rowman and Littlefield, 2011) with then senior rabbi of Kehlliat Israel aka ‘rabbi to the stars’, Steven Carr Reuben, PhD, I also and coordinated a media fellowship to Israel with the Israeli MFA in 2012. Unfortunately, months later I had to pass on the fellowship as the second edition of my first book was due the same week.
Other ties to Israel? I communicate with my cousins via marriage on Facebook, and I can always count on their smiles to put a permagrin on my face. And I’m not talking about zealots who are complaining about incoming missiles but about incredible people living extraordinary lives.
So what thoughts did walk away with from the FIDF gala? Too many to report here yet suffice to say it was a uplifting evening that delivered warm fuzzies to anyone in attendance. Good friend Israeli Consul General of the Pacific Northwest Dr. Andy David was the keynote. Radio host, political lecturer and coauthor John F. Rothman MC’d the gala. Most touching? The FIDF dedicated the evening to lone soldiers who leave their countries with great pride to enlist in the IDF.
This tribute came to an obvious pinnacle when an attractive, young female soldier shared her testimonial and poured her heart and soul to dressed up strangers occupying a myriad of tables. She lost her soulmate in combat when she least expected it. Her American boyfriend was none other than Nissim Sean Carmeli who hailed from South Padre Island, Texas.
About twenty minutes later it was hard to find a dry eye in the soldout sea of tables as she graciously exited her tear-stained microphone. Why? Terrorists unceremoniously ambushed both Carmel and fellow lone soldier Max Steinberg who hailed from San Fernando, California while patrolling Gaza.
Surprisingly, Carmel’s Israeli funeral drew 20,000 many of which most were complete strangers. Likewise, Steinberg’s Israeli funeral drew 30,000 including US Secretary of State and failed Middle East diplomat John Kerry. Carmel (like Steinberg and other lone soldiers) didn’t receive a draft. Nor was he paid to pay the ultimate price for another country. He certainly was coerced into winning the affection of the brave Middle Easterner who shared her fleeting moments with her beloved before so many. Carmeli like Steinberg and other lone soldiers make a monumental sacrifice, and a colossal impression on locals who understand what it means to sacrifice it all.
Obama: ‘Our bond with Israel is Unshakable”
So president Obama made good on a cornerstone of his promise to Israel. He was part of funding the air defense system, the Iron Dome. I’ll give him that. It’s a godsend and a rockstar yet with all its hype its still far from boss as it boast an impressive but imperfect accuracy of about 85 percent. And despite the efforts to find and confiscate every short and long-range Iranian missile, Israelis are a lot of things but short of being psychic.
So what can we do to assure Obama stops embarrassing our ally and starts putting ‘leaders’ like Syria’s Assad, Turkey’s Erdogan, and Iran’s ayatollah on the hot seat? Plenty. Criticize Obama. Take it online. Keep the pressure on him. But don’t stop there. Go to bat for Israelis. Support the FIDF or any one of the laundry list of Jewish organizations out there. Need a list? Follow America’s most influential Jew who I’m proud to call my friend William Daroff, Vice President for Public Policy and Director of the Washington office of the Jewish Federation of North America (JFNA) via @daroff on Twitter or Capital Hill friend Eli Gold, Vice President of the London Center for Public Policy, and you’ll soon learn the network.
Israel suffered yet another murderous terror attack today. The government has responded by electing to relax gun control laws.
Let that soak in for a minute.
America suffers a horrific school shooting and the gun control lobby is out in full force before the bodies are cold, screaming about stricter gun control laws. Israel suffers a bloody synagogue terror attack and
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch pledged to ease controls on carrying weapons for self-defense after a gruesome terrorist attack at a Jerusalem synagogue that left four dead Tuesday.
It was not clear exactly what new measures would be put in place, but it was reported that the move would apply to anyone licensed to carry a gun, such as private security guards and off-duty army officers.
Aharonovitch added that “we have instructed synagogues to place security guards at their entrances.”
Israel’s gun laws are strict and the Israeli attitude towards carrying firearms differs greatly from the almost comedic depictions of gun ownership in America. A 2012 article published after the Sandy Hook massacre detailed:
“There is an essential difference between the two. In America the right to bear arms is written in the law, here it’s the opposite… only those who have a license can bear arms and not everyone can get a license.”
Amit said gun licenses are only given out to those who have a reason because they work in security or law enforcement, or those who live in settlements “where the state has an interest in them being armed.”
He added that former IDF officers above a certain rank can get a license.
Anyone who fits the requirements, is over age 21 and an Israeli resident for more than three years, must go through a mental and physical health exam, Amit said, then pass shooting exams and courses at a licensed gun range, as well as background checks by the Public Security Ministry.
Once they order their firearm from a gun store, they are allowed to take it home with a one-time supply of 50 bullets, which Amit said they cannot renew.
The gun owner must retake his license exam and testing at the gun range every three years. As of January, Amit said, a new law will go into effect requiring gun owners to prove that they have a safe at home to keep their weapon in.
The relaxed restrictions may relate to regulations imposed after a 2013 shooting in Be’er Sheva:
One day after a Be’er Sheva man shot dead four people in a local bank before turning his gun on himself, the Public Security Ministry on Tuesday announced new rules to limit the number of guns in circulation. School security guards will have to turn in their weapons, which guarding firms will reissue at the start of the new school year. Licensed gun owners will have to store their weapon in a safe at home. Security companies must obtain special exemptions from being required to store a weapon when its bearer is off duty, only one gun license will be issued to any single individual and anyone applying to renew a gun license must show why they need a weapon.
What “relaxed” means is yet to be seen. But for Americans weary of gun control arguments that continue to be completely irrelevant to the situations at hand, Israel’s response to gun ownership in the face of terror is refreshing and worthy of further examination by our own government and pro-gun lobby.
Any situation short of the Islamic State obtaining nuclear weapons, and the United States knowing about that, appears to mean that President Obama will not order American ground troops into battle to destroy the terrorist group.
Over the weekend, ISIS beheaded a third American, former Army Ranger turned aid worker Peter Kassig. But a day before that news broke, President Obama outlined an extreme scenario under which he would order troops to fight ISIS on the ground in Iraq and Syria. The president made his remarks at the G20 Summit in Australia Saturday.
Obama says that he would send ground troops into the fight, if ISIS gets its hands on a nuclear weapon.
Obama said, “There are always circumstances, in which the United States might need to deploy US ground troops. If we discovered that ISIL had gotten possession of a nuclear weapon, and we had to run an operation to get it out of their hands, then yes, you can anticipate that not only would Chairman Dempsey recommend me sending U.S. ground troops to get that weapon out of their hands, but I would order it.”
Obama chuckled as he spoke about ISIS obtaining nuclear weapons.
ISIS has beheaded three Americans and two Englishmen. It has murdered thousands of Iraqi and Syrian civilians and military. ISIS has sold women into sex slavery and has destroyed historical monuments and sites. ISIS has also threatened to attack Americans in the United States itself.
Reuters reports that the Islamic State claims that it has beheaded American Peter Kassig. The terrorist group has published a video that does not show the act itself, but shows a man’s head. On the 15-minute video, a British-accented terrorist says that Kassig has been killed and will be buried in Dabiq, Syria.
“This is Peter Edward Kassig, a U.S. citizen,” the terrorist says in the video while standing over the severed head. “Here we are burying the first American crusader in Dabiq. Eagerly waiting for the remainder of your armies to arrive.”
Kassig was a former Army Ranger and veteran of the war in Iraq. The 26-year-old from Indiana went to Syria as a medic and treated people who had been wounded in Syria’s civil war. He was reportedly captured by ISIS on October 1, 2013. Kassig is the third American beheaded by ISIS, following James Foley and Steven Sotloff. ISIS has also beheaded two British men, David Haines and Alan Henning.
Kassig reportedly converted to Islam while in captivity, and had adopted the name Abdul Rahman Kassig.
The video, which has not been authenticated by U.S. intelligence yet, also shows several beheadings of Syrians captured by ISIS. Those killings are carried out in mass-killing style and shown in the video.
The video included a direct ISIS threat to kill Americans in the United States:
“To Obama, the dog of Rome, today we are slaughtering the soldiers of Bashar and tomorrow we will be slaughtering your soldiers,” the terrorist says in the video.
“And with Allah’s permission … the Islamic State will soon … begin to slaughter your people in your streets.”
The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee warned today that President Obama can’t let his “Global Zero” disarmament aims get in the way of Pentagon observations and recommendations on the “sobering state of our nuclear force.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters this morning that both internal and external reviews found “a consistent lack of investment and support for our nuclear forces over far too many years has left us with too little margin to cope with mounting stresses.”
The reviews found “evidence of systematic problems that if not addressed could undermine the safety, security, and effectiveness of the elements of the force in the future,” including “manning, infrastructure and skill deficiencies; a culture of micro-management; and over-inspection and inadequate communication, follow-up, and accountability by senior department in nuclear enterprise leadership.”
“The root cause has been a lack of sustained focus, attention, and resources, resulting in a pervasive sense that a career in the nuclear enterprise offers too few opportunities for growth and advancement,” Hagel said.
The secretary stressed that “our nuclear deterrent plays a critical role in ensuring U.S. national security, and it’s DOD’s highest priority mission.”
“No other capability we have is more important… Consistent with President Obama’s guidance, our policy is to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our nation’s security strategy and to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. We’ll continue to do both, but that doesn’t diminish our responsibilities.”
Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said the findings underscore the “urgent investment needed” to ensure the “future effectiveness” of the nuclear force.
“Deterrence is the cornerstone of our national security strategy – as Chairman Dempsey has testified, it’s our No. 1 priority because it guarantees the ‘survival of the nation’. But, the Nuclear Enterprise has suffered from neglect for too long,” McKeon said. “Insufficient resources, indifferent leadership, and poor morale have taken their toll. I commend the Secretary for his leadership and for prioritizing the resources necessary to make sure our deterrent remains safe, secure and reliable.”
He noted that the Department of Energy also needs to get in the game to “re-prioritize its nuclear mission, correct for years of underfunding, and restore morale.”
“Most importantly, I hope the president will listen to his senior civilian and military national security leaders, take this as seriously as they do, and cast aside his Global Zero vision that is in reality unilateral disarmament,” McKeon said. “We can work together to follow the blueprint established by Secretary Hagel and his review and show the leadership our men and women in uniform deserve.”
Hagel’s recommendations include “changes in organization, policies, and culture,” while “others require an increase in resources, allocated to the nuclear mission.”
“We must restore the prestige that attracted the brightest minds of the Cold War era, so our most talented young men and women see the nuclear pathway as promising in value,” he said. “That’s why I have granted the Air Force authority to elevate Global Strike Command to a four-star billet and Air Staff’s head of strategic deterrence and nuclear integration to a three-star billet. They will no longer be outranked by their non-nuclear counterparts, giving the nuclear Air Force the second-to-none leadership it deserves.”
The first 25 nuclear deterrence operations service medals were awarded last week.
The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee declared this morning at a hearing to review the Obama administration’s strategy against ISIS that any authorization for military force that excludes boots on the ground will not make it through the House.
Before lawmakers left for the campaign recess, the White House was busy assuring Capitol Hill that they were already covered for the strikes against ISIS by the 2001 and 2003 AUMFs.
In his press conference the day after midterm elections, President Obama said he wanted Congress to pass a new AUMF — but wasn’t clear on a timetable of this Congress or the next.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey appeared before this morning’s hearing.
Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said an Overseas Contingency Operations budget amendment received by the committee on Monday “pays for the air campaign and adds more advisers, but it does not appear to reflect any changes in strategy.”
“However, we know that targeting and airstrikes are getting harder as ISIL changes tactics. And limiting our advisors to headquarters buildings will not help newly trained Iraqi and Syrian opposition forces hold terrain, much less defeat ISIL in the field. Yet the president has doubled down on his policy of ‘no boots on the ground,’ despite any advice you give him,” McKeon said.
“So my fundamental question is: how can you successfully execute the mission you’ve been given – to ‘degrade and ultimately destroy’ ISIL – when some of your best options are taken off the table? Mr. Secretary, both of your predecessors, Bob Gates and Leon Panetta, have stated that we need boots on the ground if there’s to be any hope of success in the strategy. Even Coach K – Duke’s basketball coach – told an Army conference last month that declaring we won’t use ground forces is like telling your opponent you’re not going to play your best players.”
McKeon noted that Congress “may very well be considering a new AUMF in the near future.”
“But I would offer a warning that, should the AUMF proposed by the president contain such limitations, it will be D.O.A. in Congress,” the chairman warned. “I will not support sending our military into harm’s way with their arms tied behind their backs.”
Dempsey said the administration was using the strategy of “a modest footprint.”
“Any expansion of that, I think, would — would be equally modest. I just don’t foresee a circumstance when it would be in our interest to take this fight on ourselves with a large military contingent,” Dempsey said.
“Could there be an exception? I mentioned assumptions in my — in my prepared statement. One of our assumptions is that the government of Iraq will be inclusive. One of the assumptions is that the Iraqi security forces will be willing to take back Al Anbar Provinces and Nineveh Province,” the general continued. “If those assumptions are rendered invalid, I will have to adjust my recommendations.”
Another concern McKeon brought up in his opening statement was terrorists once detained by the U.S. returning to the battlefield — including “caliph” al-Baghdadi.
“There are reports of former Gitmo detainees returning to the fight and recruiting militants for ISIL. Despite these disturbing trends, we’ve seen an increase in notifications regarding detainee transfers from Gitmo,” he said.
“Mr. Secretary and General Dempsey, you shoulder an immense responsibility each time you sign off or concur on these releases, and I understand you’re under pressure to release even more. But the roughly 150 detainees that are left are the worst of the worst. To continue these releases – just as we have had to open a new front in the war on terror – is unwise.
Hagel said if he can “get the assurances required by the host governments and the mechanisms, and I go into detail, that it substantially mitigates the risk, then I will assign it.”
“Every certification that I make, bottom line, with all the other requirements by law that I have to comply with — and I do comply with every part of the law — in my best judgment, the best judgment of our intelligence community, of our joint chiefs, of the interagency of our — of our secretary State, Homeland Security, has to be unanimous before I will seriously entertain it,” he said of signing off on releases.
A Democratic member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said the Obama administration’s fear of bringing an authorization for military force in Iraq and Syria before Congress is exactly why it should come before Congress.
Before lawmakers left for the campaign recess, the White House was busy assuring Capitol Hill that they were already covered for the strikes against ISIS by the 2001 and 2003 AUMFs.
Secretary of State John Kerry told the Senate committee in mid-September that they determined they have authority because “good lawyers within the White House, within the State Department, who have examined this extremely closely, have come to the conclusion across the board that the 2001 AUMF, which says all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations or persons responsible for 9/11, those who harbored such organizations or persons, to prevent future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such persons or organizations. It includes al-Qaeda… ISIL began as al-Qaeda.”
“I appreciate your ability as a former prosecutor and a gifted attorney to try to make the case,” Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) responded. “I will tell you that, at least from the chair’s perspective, you’re going to need a new AUMF.”
However, in his press conference the day after midterm elections, President Obama said he wanted Congress to pass a new AUMF — but not necessarily in the lame duck.
“I’m going to begin engaging Congress over a new Authorization to Use Military Force against ISIL. The world needs to know we are united behind this effort, and the men and women of our military deserve our clear and unified support,” Obama said.
“…And it will be a process of listening to members of Congress, as well as us presenting what we think needs to be the set of authorities that we have. And I’m confident we’re going to be able to get that done. And that may just be a process of us getting it started now. It may carry over into the next Congress.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) wrote for The Daily Beast on Monday that “this war is now illegal.”
“It must be declared and made valid, or it must be ended,” Paul said. “Congress has a duty to act, one way or the other.”
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told MSNBC last night that “there’s a growing recognition on both sides of the aisle” that an AUMF debate “must happen.”
“In the lame duck session. Mainly for two reasons. One, it’s impossible at this point to ignore the constitutional imperative. The Constitution in Article I grants war-making power to the United States Congress and the United States Congress only. There is no existing authorization that permits this president to essentially deploy another several thousand troops to fight an enemy that has not been named yet by the United States Congress,” Murphy argued.
“And, so, we have a constitutional responsibility. But, second, Secretary Hagel referenced, it is incumbent upon us as a nation to make sure that we do not go into war, that we never go into war divided. We have a responsibility as Congress to debate this. And to authorize it so that we’re standing together.”
But, Murphy added, “if the executive is been holding off on bringing an authorization to Congress because it’s hard, because it might not pass, then actually that’s the reason why it must come before Congress.”
“Because the worst thing to have happen is for the president to authorize a major new deployment of troops without the support of the Congress, which is representing American people. I think we’re going to vote on this.”
Murphy said he expects the Foreign Relations Committee to take up the AUMF “this week.”
The panel meets this evening behind closed doors for a hearing to examine the ISIS fight.
From A Call to Rights website:
Exposing Islam’s New War On Christians
Forget what the history textbooks told you about martyrdom being a thing of the past. Christians are being persecuted and slaughtered today.
Raymond Ibrahim unveils the shocking truth about Christians in the Muslim world. Believers in Jesus Christ suffer oppression and are massacred at the hands of radicals for worshipping and spreading the gospel of the Lord.
Discover the true-life stories that the media won’t report in Ibrahim’s Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians.
Our new contest photo is from Drudge with the headline “Odd Couple” – “Tense.”
Here is my favorite paragraph from the Reuters report linked to by Drudge with the headline “Obama and Putin are odd couple at Beijing summit”:
When the summit opened in a sprawling convention centre at a lake outside Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping walked in with Obama and Putin, both unsmiling, on either side of him.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” Putin was overheard saying in English in Obama’s general direction, referring to the ornate conference room.
“Yes,” Obama replied, coldly, according to journalists who witnessed the scene.
Well, at least they were talking and making nice-nice, but what were they thinking?
That is your mission — to go inside their brains and reveal their true thoughts. In addition, tell us what they really wanted to say aloud to each other besides this polite non-dialog, dialog.
Also, caption the photo because I know you can do better than Drudge with “Odd Couple” and “Tense.”
Here is my conversation entry:
Putin: “Ha ha ha ha.… loser.”
Obama whispers off to side: “Valerie, what I should I say?”
Now, speaking of painful moments, here are the winners of our post-election contest,
RockThisTown took the grand prize with two winners:
OUCH. I’m feeling pain in all 57 states.
OUCH. We were finally shovel-ready . . . and got buried.
JRSWINE won with:
OUCH! Honey, I shrunk the Party.
OurUnitedStates won for:
Ouch, Michelle, they cut my Harry off.
Have fun with this new contest and remember you can be as sweet and nice as Putin is to those who disagree with him.
I don’t really care who you are or what you’ve done. Richard Overton is someone you don’t want to mess with.
From The Houston Chronicle in November 2013: ”He drives and walks without a cane. During a television interview in March, he told a reporter that he doesn’t take medicine, smokes cigars every day and takes whiskey in his morning coffee. The key to living to his age, he said, is simply ‘staying out of trouble.’
“I may drink a little in the evening too with some soda water, but that’s it,” Overton told Fox News. “Whiskey’s a good medicine. It keeps your muscles tender.”
You have to keep supple when you’re sporting a Tommy gun.
Mr. Richard Overton, the oldest living veteran. Kids, do not play on his lawn. pic.twitter.com/VQ0twXRdi1
— Patrick Chovanec (@prchovanec) November 10, 2014
Overton served in the Army in World War II and now lives in Austin.
Sgt. Jim McMaster heard the jeep, and looked up from the winch he was wrangling. Three stars on the bumper meant straighten up and acknowledge.
Gen. George S. Patton returned McMaster’s salute.
“What’s the hold up, Sargent?” Patton barked.
A truck hauling a Sherman tank had slid from the rutted frozen slurry, but still blocked the road and thus the convoy. McMaster told the General he’d get the tank off of the truck and use it to pull the truck back onto the road.
“Carry on, Sargent,” Patton said, snapping a salute before ordering his driver onward. And that was that.
Mac and his men got the tank off, the truck out, the convoy moving again.
Not a lot of celebrity moments like that in World War II, although McMaster did meet actor Jimmy Stewart, then a captain or a major, late one night over drinks during a Channel crossing.
No, war is more mud than stars.
Jim McMaster, my Pop, wound up raising his four grandsons, and we hung on his words when he told us war stories.
Setting out for the Normandy invasion, McMaster grabbed the ship’s rail to vault into the landing craft. The next soldier, also vaulting, accidentally kicked his wrist, sending McMaster sprawling on the deck, and his wristwatch sailing into the drink. He’s headed to fight the Nazis, but at the moment, he’s ticked about losing the new watch. Sixty years later, he tells his great-grandchildren about the watch. It was a good watch, and new.
As they approached the Normandy beach on D+4, the landing craft pilot, eager to avoid underwater obstacles, idled the engine and said, “Here’s where you get off.” McMaster looked out at the distance to the beach and knew the water was too deep.
“Take us in closer,” he said. The skipper refused. McMaster laid a hand on his sidearm.
“Take us in.”
The motor revved and the boat moved closer to the beach. When McMaster dropped from the craft into chest-high water something heavy landed on his pack. As he was about to swing an elbow and tell the soldier to find another ride to the beach, when he realized it was a woman — a Red Cross nurse. He waded in, with her on his back, until she could safely walk on her own. He stayed in touch with her by letter for a while. Then the letters stopped. He later learned that the Germans bombed her Red Cross hospital. And that was that.
When McMaster enlisted, he hoped to fly. Instead, he wound up in a tank, with engines originally designed for aircraft that used high-octane, highly-flammable gasoline.
One day, a Panzer surprised him from behind a barn, and shot a track off his Sherman. Able to move only in circles, with no place to hide the tank, he ordered his men to abandon. Two went out the turret hatch, under withering machine-gun fire from the Panzer. McMaster finally leaped free of the crippled tank, losing a piece of his knee to a machine gun round. Before the two men in the belly could escape through the hatch between the fuel tanks, the Panzer lit it up. McMaster watched his fuel-soaked buddies burn. The Sherman exploded, sending the entire turret to high heaven.
This wasn’t a frickin’ movie where the stars all get to go home at day’s end to drink chardonnay.
These were American farmers, mechanics and clerks — boys — shredded, severed, bloodied and burned.
Veterans Day ceremonies tend to be calm, somber, clean and peaceful.
Let’s remember the men who climbed from the mud to the stars to make it so.
Onetime Vietnam War POW Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said President Obama’s “gradual escalation” of the war in Iraq reminds him of Vietnam.
“We need to have a strategy. There is not a strategy,” McCain told Fox this morning. “And frankly, this graduation escalation that we’re going through — remember, the president, for years, has said ‘tell everybody what we’re not going to do rather than what we’re going to do.’”
“And as this gradual escalation reminds me of the Vietnam conflict, we have to have a strategy. The Congress and American people need to know that,” he continued. “But it puts us in a difficult situation. Are we going to abandon this effort to defeat ISIS?”
McCain is poised to take the helm of the Senate Armed Services Committee in January as the new GOP majority moves in.
“We’re going to have hearings, and we’re going to have the secretary of Defense up and chairman of the Joint Chiefs and others explain to us what — how we’re going to achieve the president’s stated goal of degrading and ultimately defeating ISIS. Right now, they are not doing that,” he said.
The senator said Obama is leaning on “sort of incremental victories along the way.”
“We’re still fighting over Kobani, using the full weight of American air power,” he said. “Fact is we’re not using the full weight of American air power.”
“You can’t just defeat an enemy just by bombing them from the air. You have to have a ground component, but you also have to have forward air controllers who are identifying these targets, particularly when the combatants are in such close proximity to each other.”
McCain said he’d also add to the strategy weapons to the Kurds, a no-fly zone in Syria, and no separation of Syria and Iraq in planning. “They’re all ISIS,” he noted.
“Look, the reason why we’re separating Syria and Iraq is because of this incredibly misguided idea that if we get a nuclear agreement with Iran, which will be totally flawed, then therefore, the Iranians will cooperate with us,” he said. “So what’s happening is we’re bombing ISIS. Meanwhile, Bashar Assad is barrel-bombing the Free Syrian Army. That’s immoral.”
“We’ve got 3.5 million refugees and 200,000 dead, 150,000 in Bashar Assad’s prisons. I mean, this idea that somehow, the — having some kind of working relationship with Iran, who fund Hamas, who have brought Hezbollah into the fight, who have orchestrated terrorist attacks all over, including the latest destabilization of Yemen, is so delusional that it’s hard to imagine.”
Since President Obama promised that there would be “no boots on the ground” to fight ISIS in Syria and Iraq, he has ordered two major increases in the number of boots on the ground in Iraq. American forces’ numbers jumped up to 3,000 so-called “advisers” shortly after the mid-term elections.
The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart has noticed. In a monologue Monday night, he ripped Obama from the anti-war left and called the president’s promises “bullsh*t.”
In the segment, Stewart plays clips of Obama promising not to put “boots on the ground” to fight ISIS, and juxtaposes them with announcements that more troops are being sent into Iraq to serve as “advisers” to the Iraqi military. Stewart then skewers that.
“Oh, I’m sorry, that was my mistake,” Stewart mocked. “I’m sorry. So it’s not 3,000 troops, it’s 3,000 advisers. Okay. Well, you know, that’s a lot of advisers. (laughter) I feel like after the first 2,000 give their input, it’s mostly going to be like ‘I just want to reiterate what Tony said.’”
At one point, Stewart jokes that at the rate Obama keeps increasing the number of U.S. “advisers” in Iraq, “By 2016, everyone on earth will be in Iraq fighting ISIS!”
Stewart’s angry comedic riff helps explain why Obama delayed announcing the troop increase until after the elections. Had it come before the elections, the Democrats’ base would have been infuriated, and the nationwide bloodbath that saw Republicans re-capture the Senate may have been even worse for the Obama Democrats.
The Age reports that Hizballah has admitted that an ambush outside Damascus, Syria on Sunday has left five nuclear scientists dead. The five men were killed by machine gun fire while riding in a van on the outskirts of Damascus. The attack may have been carried out by Syrian rebels on Israel’s behalf.
One of the dead was reportedly Iranian. The nationalities of the other four have not been revealed.
In years past, Syrian is known to have accepted nuclear expertise from Iran and North Korea.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the deaths of the five scientists. That group is based in London but has operatives all over Syria, according to The Age.
The Syrian government has confirmed the deaths, and that one was Iranian.
Terrorist group Hizballah said that the “five scientific experts were martyred by terrorists as part of the ongoing plots of the Zionist entity,” Israel.
Israel launched a surprise raid on a previously unknown Syrian nuclear facility in 2007, and destroyed it.
The report of the killing of five nuclear scientists in Syria, and Hizballah’s public angry reaction to it, raises all kinds of questions about Syria’s ongoing nuclear ambitions and the terrorist group’s connections to that. Israel fears that should Iran develop a nuclear weapon, it could hand that off to the terrorist group for a devastating attack on Israel’s people.
Writing in the Daily Beast, Sen. Rand Paul lands on a new position on the war against ISIS.
It’s the right war, but being done by Obama in the wrong way, rendering it illegal.
The Constitution, Paul correctly writes, puts the power to declare war not with presidents but with Congress.
Congress has not actually declared war on anyone since World War II. Since then US forces have been engaged in conflicts from Korea to Vietnam to the Middle East to Central America and Europe, but not once has it actually declared war. The closest that we have gotten to a full declaration of war is probably the Authorization for the Use of Military Force against Saddam Hussein.
Obama has engaged US forces in Libya and now Iraq without bothering to take it to Congress, before or after the limits imposed by the War Powers Act. That, plus Paul’s contention that the US is not under attack by ISIS, is where Paul says the problem is.
In a war with transnational terrorists on the other side, though, when are we under attack and when are we not? It’s not as cut and dried as a group of terrorists crossing the porous border and wreaking havoc. They’re not going to roll across the border in an armored column and they’re not going to launch sorties of bombers over our cities. That’s not how it works. ISIS has beheaded two Americans and has shown that it can recruit other Americans to its cause using social media. It is building a base from which it says it intends to strike us.
If the Constitution were not enough, the War Powers Act reiterates the legislature’s prerogative. The War Powers Act does not allow for any military action to take place that is not authorized by Congress or to repel imminent attack. Period. The only exception is military action to repel an imminent attack. In that case, the president has 60 days to report to Congress. Obviously, it’s an exception that doesn’t apply to any of our current wars.
This administration has allowed, as Professor Michael J. Glennon writes, “nothing less than a collapse of the equilibrium of power, the balance expected to result from ambition set against ambition, the resistance to encroachment that was supposed to keep the three branches of the federal government in a state of equilibrium and to protect the people from the government.”
It’s time for conservatives to say enough is enough. Obama’s commandeering of Congress’s powers—from making war, to remaking our health-care system—has to stop. There needs to be an across-the-board, consistent defense of the constitutional separation of powers. Nothing less will win the day. That should include this current battle in the Middle East. Taking military action against ISIS is justified. The president acting without Congress is not.
On this question, Sen. Paul is probably right. He gets there in a strange way though, decrying the unlimited geographical scope and timeline of fighting terrorism.
That’s not the choice of any American leader. 9-11, London, Madrid, Fort Hood, Boston, beheading Americans in what used to be Syrian territory…how many times do terrorists have to attack us on our own soil and our allies’ soil and elsewhere before the likes of Rand Paul figure out that the enemy isn’t bound by any of our norms, notions or ideas about anything? We hold ourselves to the Geneva Conventions regarding how we treat terror masterminds while they kidnap schoolgirls, behead reporters and sell Christian women into sex slavery — and tweet images of themselves flying their flag right outside the White House.
It would be nice to put some geographical and time limits on this war. The enemy won’t abide by any limits, though.
This is Paul’s third or fourth position on what to do about ISIS. He mused that there may be no solution (May) has had mixed feelings while taking a dovish posture (August) and in September allowed that he was coming around to a more hawkish stance. At that time, he quoted Reagan and wrote that he would have acted “more decisively and strongly against ISIS” than Obama has.
Which wouldn’t be all that difficult. Obama has trickled troops in while signaling ISIS that while they have to duck US air power they will never have to face the true might of the American military on the ground. Obama isn’t even drawing fake red lines. The president is slow-rolling America into fighting ISIS in a way that is hauntingly similar to the way US forces were slow-rolled into the war in Vietnam.
Paul’s own stances don’t really bear out the claim that he would have been more decisive than Obama. He just probably would not have been any less decisive.
That’s not much to put on the resume for someone who wants to be commander-in-chief.
In the newest Prager University course, I discuss Muslim persecution of Christians. From the Prager University website: “The most persecuted and victimized people in the world today are Christians in the Middle East. The perpetrators of the widespread destruction of that region’s Christian community? Islamists. Middle East expert Raymond Ibrahim lays out the grim details.”
According to Haaretz, Gen. Martin Dempsey, U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made some helpful and conciliatory comments toward Israel. The nation’s top military officer lauded Israel for going to “extraordinary lengths” to avoid civilian casualties during the latest round of fighting with the Palestinians.
Dempsey’s comments come after unknown figures within the Obama administration blasted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “chickensh*t” and a coward. Relations between the U.S. and its ally, already shaky, were made shakier by those comments, and by the administration’s refusal to investigate who made the comments and reprimand them.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was asked to react to Dempsey’s diplomatic comments during today’s press conference, by the AP’s Matt Lee. Psaki had the choice of agreeing with Gen. Dempsey, refusing to offer an opinion, or disagreeing with him — the latter, carrying the possibility of opening up another argument with Israel.
Psaki chose the latter.
Lee asked Psaki to comment on whether the Obama administration believes that the Israelis lived up to their own “high standards” on civilian casualties.
Psaki undiplomatically replied, “It remains the broad view of this administration that they could’ve done more. And they shouldv’e taken feasible precautions to prevent more civilian casualties.”
Psaki’s comment here sets the United States up for criticism on the question of civilian casualties should we get more deeply involved on the ground fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. She has also singled out Israel for criticism that is ultimately unfair and impossible to satisfy. One can always “do more” to avoid civilian casualties, but the Israelis are fighting Hamas, which goes out of its way to increase civilian casualties and use them for propaganda.
Yahoo News/Reuters is running this cryptic little number on the Friday after pivotal mid-term elections.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military has drawn up plans to significantly increase the number of American forces in Iraq, which now total around 1,400, as Washington seeks to bolster Iraqi forces battling the Islamic State, U.S. officials told Reuters on Friday.
It’s an anonymously sourced report, making it tough to evaluate. Did it come from the Joint Chiefs of Staff or a lower-level planner, SecDef Hagel or someone else? The source matters quite a bit.
It’s also missing an awful lot of detail, such as, how many troops are we talking about — a few hundred, tens of thousands, what? Did Obama order this plan, or is it an ordinary contingency plan of the type that the Pentagon draws up for every possibility, or is this more of an action plan that is in some stage of deployment? The story just doesn’t go into any of that.
Its timing raises the possibility that the Obama administration did not want to go public with any possibility of escalating the war against ISIS until after the election, lest he further alienate the hard left Democrat base.
Update: NBC gets some more detail. Post-election, the Obama administration is looking to double the number of American troops in Iraq, but not in actual ground combat roles. They will be “advisers” to the Iraqis and the Kurds.
We’ve seen this war before. It’s not the last couple of Iraq wars, in which the U.S. went in big to win quickly, and succeeded.
It’s the slippery slope war that we lost in Southeast Asia.
Update: The cryptic story has turned into an authorization to double forces in Iraq, and a request for $5.6 billion more to fund the operation. That’s less than Obama requested to fight Ebola. It’s quite fascinating that this news is hitting on the Friday following the election. It has clearly been in the works for a while.
On Fox a few minutes ago, Chris Wallace said that this slow-drip approach has “the scent of Vietnam.” That seems to be the prevailing reaction today.
My opinion on all this is that fighting ISIS on the ground is inevitable. They are recruiting about 1,000 new fighters a month, and despite the airstrikes they are still hauling in buckets of money every day. Some of our allies on the ground in Syria have already switched sides to join ISIS. The Kurds continue to fight with amazing capability and bravery, but they are not enough to defeat ISIS. At this point, they are holding ISIS in place, which is good, but they’re not rolling ISIS back. Likewise, the less capable Iraqi security forces.
We can choose to fight ISIS hard now, and win, or we can continue with the current approach, which allows ISIS to strengthen to the point that they actually become entrenched and we may not be in a position to take them on (not with Russia menacing Europe, which may require our attentions through NATO). Obama continues to pursue the latter approach, which he admits will not defeat ISIS. That’s what he is saying when he holds up Yemen and Somalia as successful counter-terrorism.
The artistic value of new Russian propaganda is way below its glorious Soviet predecessor, but the paranoid, attack-dog mentality remains the same.
According to Gazeta.ru, last Friday, at the “Flakon” art factory in Moscow, a pro-Putin group of nationalist youth called “Young Guard” together with the “patriotic artists and well-known graphic designers” organized an exhibition of over 100 political cartoons glorifying the policies of President Vladimir Putin. The politically “correct” organizers must have been too dead-serious about their sycophancy to notice the grotesque irony of the event’s title, “Without Filters.”
Forget the filters. The exhibited artists had to be wearing blindfolds not to notice the dangerous cusp to which the current Russia’s regime has taken the country by whipping the nationalistic fervor, xenophobia, and paranoia. They have portrayed Putin as a hero, a winner, and savior of the nation at a time when Russia’s ruble is crumbling, the country’s international standing has hit a new low, and the falling oil prices threaten to knock out Russia’s oil-oriented economy, which Putin had a chance to diversify, but didn’t.
Instead, the Russian president is shown as a winner who knocks out a bloodied man resembling Vitali Klitschko — a heavyweight boxing world champion from Ukraine, who became a politician leading his own country towards independence.
Another drawing pictures Putin on top of a tank, addressing two peasant girls to ask if they had seen any fascists around. The girls have the faces of Barack Obama and Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, whom the artist apparently considers to be “fascists” and who had disguised themselves out of fear of being caught.
The event organizer, “Young Guard,” is to Vladimir Putin’s puppet political party “United Russia” what the Soviet Young Communist League was to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Not coincidentally, it is named after a glorified, if mostly fictional, underground militia group who fought the Nazis on the occupied territories during WWII. Decades after the Nazis had been defeated, the Soviet and now Russian government has continued to steep generations of young people in the same Stalinist war-time mythology – keeping alive the memory, the hatred, and the eagerness to throw themselves under the tanks and die defending the Motherland against the fascists
When your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Similarly, just about every opponent of the regime has become a fascist. Putin only needs to point a finger. Today, his finger is pointing at Ukraine – and thus the fascists and the Nazis are now all those Ukrainians, from politicians to common citizens, who want to join the West and are defending their country against Russia’s aggression.
Putin’s finger is further pointing to the United States and other Western countries that oppose Putin’s corrupt regime and his militaristic policies. Hence the self-righteous anti-American, anti-Western, and “anti-fascist” hysteria that is sweeping today’s Russia, causing many, including famous actors and writers, to come out with shrill anti-Western rhetoric. Some of them go as far as to travel to the “historic Russian territories” controlled by the puppet pro-Russian “separatists” and shoot some Ukrainians.
Once again, they are so dead-serious about their “anti-fascist” delusion that they fail to notice it’s their own rhetoric and their own actions that quite accurately resemble the rhetoric and the actions of the German Nazis on the brink of WWII, complete with militant nationalism, cult of the strong leader, resurrection of Aryan mythology, and popular support for Hitler’s annexation of “historic German territories” in France, Poland, and Czechoslovakia.
The “patriotic” exhibition in question is a fair reflection of such a mindset — from glorification of blood and violence to fascistic symbolism and dehumanization of the opponent to conspiracy theories and the supremacy of Russia “uber alles.”
Quite a few pictures ridicule Barack Obama, who is being spanked, pulled by the ear, and even has a barrel of a gun stuck in his bloodied face by Vladimir Putin. In one such poster, Putin and Obama are watering a tree. On Putin’s side the tree is green, while on the U.S. president’s side it’s dead, with human skulls showing through the roots. Without defending Obama’s policies, it would be fair to say that in this metaphor Putin’s side of the tree would really be on fire.
Back in August, I suspected that we would be where we are today. That expectation led me to shake off the musical cobwebs and do something I haven’t done since I’ve been old enough to vote, and to do something else I had never done before: write a song and produce a music video, respectively.
Here, with the help of a tremendous singer and a first-rate recording engineer, is the result: “It Matters.”
I encourage readers (and now, viewers) to show “It Matters” to people who don’t think their vote matters, and persuade them to get out and vote. Because it does:
Anyone could have predicted a midterm elections pushback against an incumbent president. Just as easy to predict was that an establishment press completely invested in the status quo would, as soon as a possibly strong version of that result became imminent, begin claiming that these are “Seinfeld elections” — that is, they’re supposedly about nothing.
But what I was really worried about has almost come to pass — and it’s appalling.
After six-plus years of in-your-face governance against their will — dating at least back to the TARP fiasco — the electorate should be three times as upset as they were back in 2010. Instead, what I see are polls indicating that turnout may actually be lower among those who oppose the establishment’s agenda than it was four years ago.
I wrote the song and produced the video in hopes of influencing that.
As Stephen Hayes writes at the Weekly Standard, this batch of midterms is really “About Everything”:
… it is being fought over exactly the kinds of things that ought to determine our elections.
It’s about the size and scope of government. It’s about the rule of law. It’s about the security of the citizenry. It’s about competence. It’s about integrity. It’s about honor.
Make no mistake. This election also needs to be about shaking up the political establishment — and that includes the need to rattle even the winners. Too many of them have become too comfortable coexisting with an unnaccountable, out-of-control, all-encroaching government which can’t even perform its most basic functions, but still finds the resources to spy on and harass its citizens.
The best argument against this ending up as a “Seinfeld election” — not that there aren’t others, as noted — would be anti-establishment voter turnout which far surpasses all expectations.
Hayes is right. PJM’s Roger Kimball is right. These midterm elections matter like no other midterms have. As the song says, “There may not be a chance like this again.”
One of the last acts Congress undertook before leaving Washington, D.C., in September for the midterm election break was to add $500 million in new funding to arm and train the so-called “vetted moderate” Syrian rebels. The $500 million in funding had been an agenda item for Obama since June, when ISIS began making quick gains in an offensive push back into Iraq.
But the political net effect of this vote was to get the GOP leadership in Congress to publicly buy into Obama’s rapidly crumbling Syria policy. Led by Boehner in the House and McConnell in the Senate, the congressional GOP leadership allowed Obama to walk them off the Syrian rebel cliff.
As I reported here at PJ Media yesterday, the most important “vetted moderate” rebel groups are in retreat, having surrendered or defected to Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria.
This development should come as no surprise to any member of the congressional GOP. In the week before the rebel amendment funding vote, I was asked to brief a number of GOP members and prepared a presentation on the collapse of the U.S.-backed Syria rebels that was widely circulated amongst both the House and Senate GOP conferences.
Among the chief trends I noted in these briefings — and that I was concurrently reporting on here — was that large groups of Free Syrian Army (FSA) units were defecting to al-Qaeda and ISIS, surrendering their U.S.-provided weapons along the way, and that other FSA units were forging peace deals and fighting alongside al-Qaeda and ISIS in some areas.
Even before the votes on the rebel funding, there was growing evidence that these “vetted moderate” forces were not moderate at all, and certainly would provide little assistance in fighting against ISIS.
Obama was hinting at where his policy was headed, too. Just a month before those congressional votes, in an interview with Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, Obama said that the belief that arming the Syrian rebels would have changed the situation had “always been a fantasy”:
With “respect to Syria,” said the president, the notion that arming the rebels would have made a difference has “always been a fantasy. This idea that we could provide some light arms or even more sophisticated arms to what was essentially an opposition made up of former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth, and that they were going to be able to battle not only a well-armed state but also a well-armed state backed by Russia, backed by Iran, a battle-hardened Hezbollah, that was never in the cards.”
Even now, the president said, the administration has difficulty finding, training and arming a sufficient cadre of secular Syrian rebels: “There’s not as much capacity as you would hope.”
Again, this was more than a month before congressional GOP leadership took up the cause of sending $500 million more to the Syrian rebels, even though there were reports that the FSA had already lost at least $500 million in arms to ISIS and other jihadist groups.
GOP leaders also bought in on another highly controversial element to Obama’s Syrian rebel policy. In September 2013, it was reported that Obama had signed a waiver circumventing a federal law intended to prohibit aid from going to terrorist groups. But when GOP leadership rolled out their amendment to fund the “vetted moderate” Syrian rebels, it contained hardly any substantial limits to Obama’s waiver policy.
Reports the past two days indicate that two “vetted moderate” Syrian rebel groups, Harakat Hazm and the Syrian Revolutionaries Front (SRF), have surrendered, with some even defecting, to Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria.
Ruth Sherlock reports today at The Telegraph:
Two of the main rebel groups receiving weapons from the United States to fight both the regime and jihadist groups in Syria have surrendered to al-Qaeda.
The US and its allies were relying on Harakat Hazm and the Syrian Revolutionary Front to become part of a ground force that would attack the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
For the last six months the Hazm movement, and the SRF through them, had been receiving heavy weapons from the US-led coalition, including GRAD rockets and TOW anti-tank missiles.
But on Saturday night Harakat Hazm surrendered military bases and weapons supplies to Jabhat al-Nusra, when the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria stormed villages they controlled in northern Idlib province.
The development came a day after Jabhat al-Nusra dealt a final blow to the SRF, storming and capturing Deir Sinbal, home town of the group’s leader Jamal Marouf.
The attack caused the group, which had already lost its territory in Hama to al-Qaeda, to surrender.
A couple important points to note based on other reporting.
First is that al-Nusra was reportedly aided in the attack on the SRF by ISIS. According to a McClatchy report:
Even more ominous was that that the Islamic State, now far stronger and claiming to run a Caliphate in Syria and Iraq, reportedly had joined Jabhat al Nusra in the attack on the village of Deir Sinbul…
If Islamic State fighters in fact joined Nusra in the attack, it will have major repercussions for the war in Syria, for the two groups have been divided since April 2013, when Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the Iraq-based leader, announced the creation of the Islamic State. Nusra had supported the rebel war against Assad until very recently and also was at war with the Islamic State.
The second point is that reports indicate that one contributing factor to SRF’s collapse was the defection of some of their “vetted moderate” fighters:
In the past few days, the Nusra Front captured several villages in the Jabal al-Zawiya region of Idlib province and on Saturday it entered the village of Deir Sonbol, the stronghold of the Revolutionaries’ Front, forcing Maarouf to pull out.
“Dozens of his fighters defected and joined Nusra, that is why the group won,” Rami Abdulrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Reuters.
A Nusra fighter confirmed the report, saying: “They left him because they knew he was wrong and delusional.”
“He left his fighters in the battle and pulled out. Last night, we heard them on the radio shouting ‘Abu Khaled (Maarouf) escaped, Abu Khaled escaped’,” he added.
One Arabic language report indicates that 600 Hazm fighters defected, with 400 in Qalamoun and 200 up north (HT: Aymenn al-Tamimi). Whoever is doing the vetting of the “vetted moderates” for the State Department is clearly not doing a good job.
But perhaps more important is that both SRF and Hazm were armed and trained by the U.S., with those weapons now falling into the hands of Al-Qaeda.
As the Telegraph report cited above indicates, SRF had been armed with GRAD rockets and TOW missiles. Another report indicates that SRF tanks and other arms were captured following SRF’s retreat.
I reported here at PJ Media that Hazm had publicly condemned U.S. airstrikes on ISIS and al-Nusra as “an attack on the revolution.”
Both groups also received the hearty support of the Washington, D.C., foreign policy establishment, with Harakat al-Hazm being praised as “rebels worth supporting” and “a model candidate for greater U.S. and allied support, including lethal military assistance,” and SRF being hailed as “the West’s best fighting chance against Syria’s Islamist armies.”
Those chances are looking pretty bleak at the moment.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has reportedly blasted President Obama’s Syria policy. Behind the scenes, Hagel sent a two-page memo to Obama national security adviser Susan Rice. In it, he assailed the dysfunctional policy toward Syria.
The memo was sent last week to President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, a defence official said on Thursday, confirming a New York Times report.
The memo was cited in the Times article by Hagel’s aides as an example of how the Pentagon chief is more assertive behind the scenes than his reserved public performance might suggest.
Hagel warned that the Syria policy was “in danger of unraveling” due to confusion over the US stance toward Assad, the paper wrote.
The Obama administration has focused on defeating the Islamic State group in Iraq first, and described US-led air strikes in Syria as a way of disrupting the jihadists’ supply lines.
Washington also plans to arm and train a group of 5,000 “moderate” Syrian rebels, but has not committed to attacking Assad regime forces that threaten moderate rebel fighters.
Obama’s Syria policy is a mess, but the decision not to attack Assad isn’t its main problem at this point. And frankly, now that the ISIS horse is out of the barn, we don’t really have any good options.
Attack Assad, you invite his allies Iran and Russia in to defend him one way or another, and if you take him out you may be creating a vacuum into which ISIS can move and grow stronger. So, you weaken Russia and Iran economically by dropping the price of oil. The Saudis are doing that, but so far, Iran and Russia haven’t gotten any less belligerent. They’re not any less likely to find ways to defend their ally, especially if doing so damages us.
Leave Assad alone, and he has a free hand to attack our allies on the ground. Arm the rebels, and odds are at least some of them are not so moderate, and are in fact Islamist, and have allied with ISIS — or soon will. The Kurds on the Syria-Turkey border are putting up a brave fight, but making them too strong invites action against them by Turkey. Not that Turkey would be in the right from our point of view.
So let’s attack both Assad and ISIS. They won’t work together, but soon enough we’re in the middle of Syria’s civil war, fighting ISIS on one hand and Assad (plus Iranian and Russian proxies or actual forces) on the other. That’s a recipe for us to get bogged down, while starting a world war. And that’s even if we don’t put boots on the ground.
Meanwhile, the Obama regime seems to be greenlighting Iran’s nuclear program while it alienates our strongest ally in the region, Israel.
Our best bet at this point seems to be to drive ISIS out of Iraq and keep it out. Its supply lines in Iraq are tenuous and can be disrupted. Its hold on most of its Iraqi territory is weak, though it does retain some popularity among the Sunni. You put Syria’s civil war back in Syria, preserve Iraq’s territorial integrity and build up Iraq against Iran and ISIS. Let ISIS and the rebels fight it out with Assad, take on the winner if that turns out to be ISIS. Or, maybe, if it turns out to be Assad. But the Russians and Iranians won’t just sit by on the sidelines for that. The Russians have been hacking White House computers and probing our air defenses from Europe to Alaska to Japan.
Driving ISIS out of Iraq is a long-term strategy that requires a significant number of American boots on the ground in Iraq to accomplish, since Iraq’s security forces have proven themselves incapable of defeating ISIS on their own. But, it’ll never happen. Obama doesn’t want to put more troops on the ground and he is obviously not gung ho to take on Islamist enemies. He and his lieutenants prefer to slam Israel.
When Obama held up Yemen and Somalia as examples of what he considers to be successful counterterrorism, he meant it, and that means that ISIS is here to stay. Al Qaeda operates fairly freely in both Yemen and Somalia, and what government there is in both countries is weak and tends to change hands. The way things are going, according to Obama’s stated strategy, ISIS will be a problem for the next president to deal with.
The New York Times often prints stories alleging Israeli racism, but never runs any pieces about Palestinian racism. This is despite overwhelming evidence that not only is Palestinian society deeply racist, it also teaches racism to its children, and explicitly ties that racism to hoping for genocide against Jews. Palestinian media also teaches Muslim supremacy. Examples are not difficult to find.
Yet the NYT, the alleged paper of record, doesn’t expose videos like the one above, or report on Palestinian racism. Why?
Editor Matt Seaton revealed why, in a tweet.
Times opinion editor Matt Seaton today provided a window into the mindset of the editors in his response to a query by this media analyst about whether readers “can expect two hit pieces on Palestinian racism in the next month” in keeping with the pace of the publication of (error-ridden) screeds about Israeli racism, both real and imagined.
Seaton, a former editor at the Guardian, known for its hostile treatment of Israel, tweeted back that The Times opinion pages would cover Palestinian racism as “soon as they have [a] sovereign state to discriminate with.”
There’s much more at the link, detailing just how many stories that the Times has recently run on so-called Israeli racism. The Old Gray Lady is being intentionally unfair and biased, and says it will only change its ways once the Palestinians have a state. The Times’ conscious decision not to report Palestinian society’s racism, Muslim supremacy and genocidal tendencies will have gone some way toward creating that state, of course. What kind of state will the New York Times have helped create?
The three female Marine officers who made it through the grueling first exercise of Infantry Officer Course at the start of October were asked to leave after falling out of two hikes, Marine Corps officials said this week.
The second lieutenant and two captains were dropped from the 13-week course held aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, about two weeks after it began. The Marines got further in the course than any other women since IOC opened to female volunteers on an experimental basis in late 2012. Only one other female officer has gotten past the notoriously difficult combat endurance test that kicks off the course; she was forced to drop out about a week later due to stress fractures in her foot.
Capt. Maureen Krebs, a spokeswoman for Headquarters Marine Corps, said the three officers were dropped from the course after failing to keep up on two long hikes while carrying a load of up to 120 pounds. The load represents a day’s meals, clothing, supplies and assault gear for a 20-mile march into combat, according to Krebs.
Infantry officers are required to maintain a pace of 24.8 miles in eight hours, or approximately three miles per hour, carrying their approach-march loads. Marines who fall more than 100 meters behind the unit and are unable to catch up are taken the remainder of the distance in a vehicle.
“The big thing in this is, they’re expected to lead that tactical movement as an infantry officer,” Krebs said.
During the training, units took two marches, one seven-mile march at Quantico followed by a nine-mile march the following week.
“Three men and three women failed to complete those two tactical movements,” Krebs said. They were all asked to leave the Infantry Officer Course (IOC).
This course was the first since the Marines began to allow female officers to volunteer for the IOC. The change came as a result of the Department of Defense ordering the Marine Corp to collect data on women in combat fields ahead of a 2016 deadline to make a decision on opening these fields to women. The goal is to find ways to integrate women into combat roles without lowering standards.
According to a report out this month from the Center for Military Readiness, “Researchers are finding this difficult (actually, impossible) to do, owing to naturally-occurring physical differences that make men significantly stronger. Androgenic hormones that are not going to change account for greater muscle power and aerobic capacity for endurance.”
Some of the findings of the Center for Military Readiness interim report show significant gender-related differences in physical strength. In 2013, the USMC Training and Education Command (TECOM) studied data from 409 male and 379 female volunteers, finding significant gender-related disparities on the Physical and Combat Fitness Tests (PFT and CFT) in events measuring upper-body strength and endurance, things that are essential for survival and mission success in direct ground combat, according to the report. The study found:
Over at The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg woke up from what must have been a self-imposed stupor and declared, “The Crisis in U.S.-Israel Relations is Here.” How did he come to this shock and awe (not) conclusion? A “senior Obama Administration official” called Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu a “chickensh*t” when speaking with Goldberg.
And apparently that’s the first time in history Goldberg’s heard a political official use a dirty word to describe another political official. Wait, actually, it’s not. Goldberg explains:
Over the years, Obama administration officials have described Netanyahu to me as recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and “Aspergery.” (These are verbatim descriptions; I keep a running list.) But I had not previously heard Netanyahu described as a “chickensh*t.”
Goldberg makes it clear that he agrees with the Obama administration on the infamous two-state solution, the issue that “sits at the core of the disagreement between Washington and Jerusalem,” making him an impartial source, indeed. His observations about Netanyahu’s “near-pathological desire for career preservation” aren’t anything new. Ask any Israeli you meet and they’ll tell you Netanyahu will forge a coalition with any party, including the Ultra-Orthodox, to avoid early elections. Perhaps Americans like Goldberg are just shocked at the idea of a politician actually having to work, not play golf, to maintain his position of power.
What Goldberg’s thesis really boils down to is this:
Much of the anger felt by Obama administration officials is rooted in the Netanyahu government’s periodic explosions of anti-American condescension.
In other words, Netanyahu’s boys don’t spare their own Jeffrey Goldbergs from hearing what’s on their minds. If they were a private enterprise, the Obama administration’s company logo would be “You’re mean.” And Abe Foxman over at the ADL would be wearing the t-shirt:
“The Israelis do not show sufficient appreciation for America’s role in backing Israel, economically, militarily and politically,” Abraham Foxman, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, told me.
More than 150 years after his death, President Obama will award the Medal of Honor to a Union soldier who took a stand on Cemetery Ridge during Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg.
First Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing died at age 22 during the battle. He’d been in the Army for two years at that point, and is buried at West Point.
On Nov. 6, cousins of the fallen soldier, Frederic Stevens Sater and Frederic Cushing Stevens III, will come to the White House for the medal ceremony.
Cushing was serving as commanding officer of Battery A, 4th United States Artillery, Artillery Brigade, 2nd Corps, Army of the Potomac during combat operations on July 3, 1863.
“During Longstreet’s Assault, also known as Pickett’s Charge, First Lieutenant Cushing’s battery took a severe pounding by Confederate artillery. As the Confederate Forces advanced, he manned the only remaining, and serviceable, field piece in his battery,” the White House said. “During the advance, he was wounded in the abdomen as well as in the right shoulder.”
“Refusing to evacuate to the rear despite his severe wounds, he directed the operation of his lone field piece continuing to fire. With the Confederate Forces within 100 yards of his position, Cushing was shot and killed during this heroic stand. His actions made it possible for the Union Army to successfully repulse the assault.”
Reps. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) authored legislation to finally honor Wisconsin-born Cushing. At the end of August, Obama said he would act on it.
“Even after more than 150 years, it’s never too late to do the right thing for our war heroes,” Kind said then. “Lt. Cushing richly deserves his Medal of Honor.”
Sensenbrenner said the award “culminates more than two decades of bipartisan work and is long overdue.”
“Lt. Cushing was a courageous leader who at just 22 years of age, gave his life to protect our sovereign nation at the Battle of Gettysburg,” Sensenbrenner said. “His exceptional bravery and determination on the battlefield should serve as an inspiration to us all.”