“Just exactly how many articles on Syria and Iraq can you actually churn out?” a friend of mine asked me recently. “You were only over in Damascus for five freaking days. And you haven’t been to Iraq since 2008. So what makes YOU such an expert on these two countries?”
Even after less than a week spent in Damascus and after only having been to Iraq four-and-a-half times, I apparently already know more about Syria and Baghdad and Al Ambar than all those dingbats in the U.S. State Department, the Pentagon and the CIA combined. Unfortunately.
Washington neo-cons and their neo-con counterparts in Tel Aviv have really gotten the Arab world totally wrong.
So, even though I would really rather be writing about almost anything else right now, it is still my civic duty to set these fools straight. Sorry about that.
What I really want to be writing about this week is the exciting new Freedom Summer 50th-anniversary conference in Jackson, Mississippi, where a bunch of folks are getting together to celebrate having survived the heroic summer of 1964 when so many civil rights workers poured their hearts out in an attempt to finally bring justice to the Ol’ South — and some of them lost their lives while doing it too .
But apparently justice in the Ol’ South will have to wait a bit longer. Right now we need to talk about justice in the Middle East first.
After the fall of the U.S.S.R., Washington neo-cons needed a new boogeyman to scare Americans into handing over our hard-earned tax dollars to the military-industrial complex. And so the military-industrial complex came up with the idea of making Islam the bad guy. But then apparently Washington neo-cons actually began to believe their own hype — and even went so far as to actually start creating and financing “Islamic Militants” where none had existed so far.
According to journalist Fenian Cunningham, “The biggest recruitment office for such groups [as ISIS] is the British government and its criminal militaristic foreign policy, which has been destroying countries for years, overtly and covertly. That same destructive British state-sponsored terrorism, alongside that of its American and other NATO allies, is also why millions of Syrians and Iraqis are living in tents, unable to feed their families.”
The thumbscrews were not only put onto various Islamic countries until “militants” actually did start to emerge, but then Wall Street and War Street — bound and determined to sell as many weapons as possible — actually started creating “Islamic Militants” themselves (and of course all the while praying for another “Pearl Harbor”)
According to an article in Information Clearinghouse, “Key members of ISIS it now emerges were trained by US CIA and Special Forces command at a secret camp in Jordan in 2012, according to informed Jordanian officials…Former US State Department official Andrew Doran wrote in the conservative National Review magazine that some ISIS warriors also hold US passports.”
Neo-cons began manufacturing these Frankenstein monsters left and right, actually paying thousands of poor unfortunate souls in the Middle East to go on “jihad”. http://veracityvoice.com/?p=20684
Even way back in the 1970s I could have warned the military-industrial complex that these acts of folly would eventually start leading to blow-back — not to mention the sky-rocketing cost of gasoline as a result of all this footsie-playing in the Middle East.
According to journalist Juan Cole, “During the past ten years, American drivers have seen their gasoline bill go up tremendously – though not as much as it by all rights should have – and stay there.” http://readersupportednews.
Apparently, The M-IC’s money-making scheme in the Middle East was that various U.S. and Israeli neo-cons would be constantly stirring up the pot there, turning Arab against Arab until they all freaking started to butcher each other like so many crabs in a barrel. And then the U.S. and Israeli neo-cons would steal everything that wasn’t nailed down while no one over there was looking. It sounded like a good plan. Until the rest of us Americans and Israelis finally began to realize that there was nothing in this witches’ brew for the rest of us except danger to ourselves.
According to me, ISIS is nothing but a bunch of pirates, the Taliban are murdering wife-beaters, the idiots in charge of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Iraq are dictators and Libya is overrun by barbarians. And who created all these proto-zombies? Neo-cons in Israel and the U.S. Of course.
According to Franklin Lamb, who seems to be legendary in Damascus for fabricating stories and mooching off of the Syrian government, ISIS, Syria’s arch enemy, is practically a freaking benevolent organization who succors the poor, has nukes of its own and whose goal is to unite all the downtrodden Arabs in the Middle East into one coherent version of the freaking Red Cross and then liberate Palestine and wash Israel into the sea. http://veracityvoice.com/?p=20664 .
However, Palestinians in Syria did not support ISIS’s brutality and refused to be drawn in — so ISIS bombed the crap out of them instead. And the Palestinians in Israel already have neo-cons killing their kids — and don’t need any more neo-con-backed pirates adding even more “creative chaos” to the mix.
Huh? No. Forget about the sparkling clean Red Cross wannabe image. These ISIS guys are down and dirty pirates. And that’s “all she wrote” about that. And apparently we American taxpayers are paying for all of ISIS’s new Toyotas, rocket-launchers and Nikes as well.
“You talk as though the military-industrial complex may finally be starting to get its comeuppance for generating such a devious plot — but, frankly, it is not,” you might comment at this point.
No, it is not. Not yet. But if Wall Street and War Street continue to play their cutesy little “Divide and Conquer” games in the Middle East, keep on messing with its political eco-system, breaking down its civil society in this bad way, and creating and financing even more Al Qaedas, Talibans and ISISs and driving world gas prices sky-high, then eventually it will suck to be you! http://www.veteranstoday.com/
Even against all odds and proof, I still have faith that the rest of us Americans, us average decent salt-of-the-earth types, will finally put a stop to all these nefarious neo-con schemes and finally start bringing our money and our troops home from the Middle East instead — and stop picking on all these poor Arabs before they end up going completely freaking nuts as they see their parents, wives and children constantly being blown to bits before their very eyes by these neo-con monsters.
Not sure why I keep holding out hope that this will happen. But do I really have any other choice?
Did Obama Know that ISIS Planned to Invade Iraq?
“I think we have to understand first how we got here. We have been arming ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) in Syria. ISIS, an al Qaeda offshoot, has been collaborating with the Syrian rebels whom the Obama administration has been arming in their efforts to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.” – Senator Rand Paul, Interview CNN
Today’s head-scratcher: How could a two-mile long column of jihadi-filled white Toyota Land rovers barrel across the Syrian border into Iraq–sending plumes of dust up into the atmosphere –without US spy satellites detecting their whereabouts when those same satellites can read a damn license plate from outer space? And why has the media failed to inquire about this massive Intelligence failure?
Barack Obama is a big proponent of “inclusive democracy” which is why he wants Iraqi prime minister Nouri al Maliki to either include more Sunnis in the government or resign as PM. In an interview with CNN, Obama said, “We gave Iraq the chance to have an inclusive democracy, to work across sectarian lines to provide a better future for their children and unfortunately what we’ve seen is a breakdown of trust…There’s no doubt that there has been a suspicion for quite some time now amongst Sunnis that they have no access to using the political process to deal with their grievances, and that is in part the reason why a better-armed and larger number of Iraqi security forces melted away when an extremist group, Isis, started rolling through the western portions of Iraq.
“Part of the task now is to see whether Iraqi leaders are prepared to rise above sectarian motivations, come together, and compromise. If they can’t there’s not going to be a military solution to this problem … There’s no amount of American firepower that’s going to be able to hold the country together and I’ve made that very clear to Mr Maliki and all the other leadership inside of Iraq (that) they don’t have a lot of time.” (New York Times)
Anyone who thinks Obama gives a rip about sectarian problems in Iraq needs his head examined. That’s the lamest excuse for a policy position since the Bush administration announced they were sending troops to Afghanistan to “liberate” women from having to wear headscarves. If Obama was serious about “inclusive democracy” as he calls it, then he’d withhold the $1.3 billion from his new dictator buddy, Generalissimo al Sisi of Egypt who toppled the democratically-elected government in Cairo, installed himself as top-dog in conspicuously rigged elections, and is now planning to execute 200-plus Egyptians for being members of a party that was legal just a few months ago. Do you think Obama is pestering al-Sisi to be “more inclusive”? No way. He doesn’t care how many people are executed in Egypt, anymore than he cares whether al Maliki blocks Sunnis from a spot in the government. What matters to Obama and his deep-state puppetmasters is regime change, that is, getting rid of a nuisance who hasn’t followed Washington’s directives. That’s what this is all about. Obama and Co. want to give al Maliki the old heave-ho because he refused to let US troops stay in Iraq past the 2012 deadline and because he’s too close to Tehran. Two strikes and you’re out, at least that’s how Washington plays the game.
So Maliki has got to go, and all the hoopla over sectarian issues is just pabulum for the News Hour. It means nothing. The real goal is regime change. That, and the partitioning of Iraq. In fact, the de facto partitioning of Iraq has already taken place. The Sunnis have basically seized the part of the country where they plan to live. The Kurds have nailed down their own territory, and the Shia will get Baghdad and the rest, including Basra. So, the division of Iraq has already a done deal, just as long as al Maliki doesn’t gum up the works by deploying his army to retake the parts of the country that are now occupied by ISIS. But the Obama team probably won’t allow that to happen, mainly because the bigshots in Washington like things the way they are now. They want an Iraq that is broken into smaller chunks and ruled by tribal leaders and warlords. That’s what this is all about, splitting up the country along the lines that were laid out in an Israeli plan authored by Oded Yinon 30 years ago. That plan has already been implemented which means Iraq, as we traditionally think of it, no longer exists. It’s kaput. Obama and Co. made sure of that. They weren’t satisfied with just killing a million Iraqis, polluting the environment, poisoning the water, destroying the schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, and leaving them to scrape by on meager rations, foul water and a tattered electrical grid. They had to come back and annihilate the state itself, erase the lines on the map, and remove any trace of a nation that was once a prosperous Middle East hub. Now the country is gone, vanished overnight. Poof. Now you see it, now you don’t.
Of course, al Maliki could try to reverse the situation, but he’s got his own problems to deal with. It’s going to be hard enough for him just to hold onto power, let alone launch a sustained attack on a disparate band of cutthroats who are bent on wreaking havoc on oil wells, critical infrastructure, pipelines, reservoirs, etc as well as killing as many infidels as humanly possible. No matter how you cut it, al Maliki is going to have his hands full. Obama has already made it plain, that he’s gunning for him and won’t rest until he’s gone. In fact, Secretary of State John Kerry is in the Middle East right now trying to drum up support for the “Dump Maliki” campaign. His first stopover was Cairo. Here’s a wrap-up form the Sunday Times:
“Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo on Sunday morning on the first leg of a trip that is intended to hasten the formation of a cross-sectarian government in Iraq. In his swing through Middle East capitals, Mr. Kerry plans to send two messages on Iraq. One is that Arab states should use their influence with Iraqi politicians and prod them to quickly form an inclusive government. Another is that they should crack down on funding to the Sunni militants in the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The group is largely self-sustaining because of success in extortion and its plundering of banks in Mosul, Iraq. But some funding “has flowed into Iraq from its neighbors,” said a senior official on Mr. Kerry’s plane.” (Kerry Arrives in Cairo on Trip to Push for New Iraqi Government, New York Times)
How’s that for priorities? First we get rid of al Maliki, says Kerry, then we move on to less important matters, like that horde of jihadi desperados who are descending on Baghdad like a swarm of locusts. Doesn’t that seem a little backasswards to you, dear reader?
And why isn’t Obama worried about a jihadi attack on Baghdad? Think of it: If they did attack Baghdad and the capital fell into jihadi hands, then what? Well, then the Dems would take the blame, they’d get their butts whooped in the upcoming midterms, and Madame Hillary would have to take up needlepoint because her chances of winning the 2014 presidential balloting would drop to zero. So, the fallout would be quite grave. Still, Obama’s not sweating it, in fact, he’s not the least bit worried. Why?
Could it be that he knows something that we don’t know? Could it be that US Intel agents have already made contact with these yahoos and gotten a commitment that they won’t attack Baghdad if they are allowed to remain in the predominantly Sunni areas which they already occupy? Is that it? Did Obama offer the Baathists and Takfiris a quid pro quo which they graciously accepted?
It’s very likely, mainly because it achieves Obama’s strategic objective of establishing a de facto partition that will remain in effect unless al Maliki can whip up an army to retake lost ground which looks doubtful at this point.
But, here’s the glitch; al Maliki is not a quitter, and he’s not going anywhere. In fact he’s digging in his heels. He’s not going to be blackmailed by the likes of Obama. He’s going to this fight tooth and nail. And he’s going to have help too, because young Shia males are flocking to the recruiting offices to join the army and the militias. And then there’s Russia; in a surprise announcement Russian president Vladimir Putin offered to assist al Maliki in the fight against the terrorists, a move that is bound to enrage Washington. Here’s a clip from the Daily Star:
“Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday offered Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki Moscow’s total backing for the fight against jihadist fighters who have swept across the Middle East country.
“Putin confirmed Russia’s complete support for the efforts of the Iraqi government to speedily liberate the territory of the republic from terrorists,” the Kremlin said in a statement following a phone call between the two leaders…
Russia is one of the staunchest allies of Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad and has helped prop up his regime during three years of fighting against a hotchpotch of rebel groups, including the ISIL.” ( Putin offers Iraq’s Maliki ‘complete support’ against jihadists, Daily Star)
That makes a third front in which Russia and the US will be on opposite sides. It’s just like the good old days, right? Putin seems to be resigned to the idea that Moscow and Washington are going to be at loggerheads in the future. He’s not only opposed to a “unitary world order”, he’s doing something about it, putting himself and his country’s future at risk in order to stop the empire’s relentless expansion and vicious wars of aggression. Needless to say, proxy wars like this can lead to rapid escalation which is always a concern when both parties have nuclear weapons at their disposal. Now check this out from the Oil Price website:
“Here’s why the threat goes beyond Iraq and Syria…Modern Syria is bordered by Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan and Israel to the south and Lebanon to the west.
‘Greater Syria’ incorporates most of the territories of each.
This is what ‘Syria’ means in the mind of Middle Easterners, says Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, and author of the respected blog SyriaComment.com
‘If we can teach people that so many Arabs still think of Syria as Greater Syria, they will begin to understand the extent to which Sykes-Picot remains challenged in the region,’ said Landis.
Sykes-Picot, of course refers to the secret agreement drawn up by two British and French diplomats — Sir Mark Sykes and Francois George-Picot — at the end of Word War I dividing the spoils of the Ottoman Empires between Britain and France by drawing straight lines in the sand.
To this day, many Arabs refuse to accept that division and think of ‘Syria’ as ‘Greater Syria.’ Some go so far as to include the Arab countries of North Africa – which from the Nile to the Euphrates forms ‘the Fertile Crescent,’ the symbol of many Muslim countries from Tunisia to Turkey. And some even go as far as including the island of Cyprus, saying it represents the star next to the crescent.
Given that, anyone who thinks ISIS will stop with Iraq is delusional.” (Insiders reveal real US aims in redrawing map of ME: Greater Syria, oil price)
Interesting, eh? So, if Mr. Landis is right, then the fracas in Iraq and Syria might just be the tip of the iceberg. It could be that Washington, Tel Aviv and Riyadh –who we think are the driving force behind this current wave of violence–have a much more ambitious plan in mind for the future. If this new method of effecting regime change succeeds, then the sky’s the limit. Maybe they’ll try the same stunt in other countries too, like Turkey, Tunisia, Cyprus, and all the way to North Africa. Why not? If the game plan is to Balkanize Arab countries wholesale and transform them into powerless fiefdoms overseen by US proconsuls and local warlords, why not go on a regime change spree?
By the way, according to the Telegraph, Obama and friends knew what ISIS was up to, and knew that the terrorist group was going to launch attacks on cities in the Sunni territories, just as they have. Get a load of this:
“Five months ago, a Kurdish intelligence “asset” walked into a base and said he had information to hand over. The capture by jihadists the month before of two Sunni cities in western Iraq was just the beginning, he said.
There would soon be a major onslaught on Sunni territories.
The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (Isis), a renegade offshoot of al-Qaeda, was about to take its well-known cooperation with leftovers of the regime of Saddam Hussein, and his former deputy Izzat al-Douri, to a new level.
His handlers knew their source of old, and he had always proved reliable, officials told The Telegraph. So they listened carefully as he said a formal alliance was about to be signed that would lead to the takeover of Mosul, the biggest city north of Baghdad, home to two million people. …
‘We had this information then, and we passed it on to your (British) government and the US government,’ Rooz Bahjat, a senior lieutenant to Lahur Talabani, head of Kurdish intelligence, said. ‘We used our official liaisons.’
‘We knew exactly what strategy they were going to use, we knew the military planners. It fell on deaf ears.’ (How US and Britain were warned of Isis advance in Iraq but ‘turned a deaf ear, Telegraph)
I’m not buying it. I think the intelligence went straight to the top, where Obama and his neocon colleagues came up with the plan that is unfolding as we speak. They figured, if they just look the other way and let these homicidal madhatters seize a few cities and raise a little Hell, they’d be able to kill two birds with one stone, that is, get rid of al Mailiki and partition the country at the same time. But, it’s not going to work out like Obama expects, mainly because this is just about the dumbest plan ever conjured up. I would give it an 80 percent chance blowing up in Obama’s face in less than a month’s time. This turkey has failure written all over it.
As for the sectarian issue, well, Iraq was never a sectarian society until the war. The problems arose due to a deliberate policy to pit one sect against the other in order to change the narrative of what was really going on the ground. And what was really going on was a very successful guerilla war was being waged by opponents of the US occupation who were launching in excess of 100 attacks per day on US soldiers. To change the storyline–which was causing all kinds of problems at home where support for the war was rapidly eroding–US counterinsurgency masterminds concocted a goofy plan to blow up the Golden Dome Mosque, blame it on the Sunnis, and then unleash the most savage, genocidal counterinsurgency operation of all-time. The western media were instructed to characterize developments in Iraq as part of a bloody civil war between Shia and Sunnis. But it was all a lie. The bloodletting was inevitable result of US policy which the Guardian effectively chronicled in a shocking, but indispensable hour-long video which can be seen here. James Steele: America’s mystery man in Iraq – video
The US made every effort to fuel sectarian animosities to divert attention from the attacks on US soldiers. And due to a savage and deceptive counterinsurgency plan that employed death squads, torture, assassinations, and massive ethnic cleansing, they succeeded in confusing Iraqis as to who was really behind the daily atrocities, the human rights violations and the mountain of carnage.
You’d have to be a fool to blame al-Maliki for any of this. As brutal as he may be, he’s not responsible for the divisions in Iraqi society. That’s all Washington’s doing. Just as Washington is entirely responsible for the current condition of the country and for the million or so people who were killed in the war.
Not What the Neocons Planned…
One need not be prescient to understand the unfolding “Jihadi Spring” is fueling the plans and perhaps destiny of ascendant Islamists in this region with the increasing help of in-country nationalists, including remnants of the Iraqi Baath Party. This, according to more than a dozen ardent supporters of The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), known locally as DAASH whose representatives allowed this observer over the past six months to interview some of its supporters to discuss what they found inaccurate in a piece I wrote about DAASH actions in Raqqa, Syria. In that article I claimed that DAASH was selling Syria’s archeological treasures, just as they are selling Syria’s oil and in some instances, food warehouse contents, to the highest foreign bidder. There is no paucity of the latter.
The final “S” in the acronym “ISIS” relates to the Arabic word “al-Sham” which itself is variously used to refer to the Levant, Syria or even Damascus. But DAASH (ISIS) means the Levant or Eastern Mediterranean including Cyprus, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, and southern Turkey. ISIS has just announced that Raqqa, the only one of 14 Governorates its controls in Syria, is now the “Capital” of their emerging “Caliphate” which so far is a swathe of territory encompassing much of eastern and northern Syria and western and northern Iraq. The Emir is to be their military strategist and leader and successor of Abu Mus‘ab Zarqawi, Dr. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Those interviewed at length include sympathizers, students of politics and of the Islamist ‘spring’ in Syria and Iraq, as well as a few shadowy claimed jihadist recruiters, some working with a claimed new specialized DAASH unit organized at the beginning of 2013 and which focuses exclusively on destroying the Zionist regime occupying Palestine. DAASH’s “Al Quds Unit” (AQU) is currently working to broaden its influence in more than 60 Palestinian camps and gatherings from Gaza, across Occupied Palestine, to Jordan, and Lebanon up to the north of Syria seeking to enlist support as it prepares to liberate Palestine.
DAASH believes, according to one of its claimed academic advisers, that the ummat al-Islamiyah (Islamic community), as a US Foreign Relations staffer, on 6/18/14 advised this observer, that the White House estimates that approximately six million Iraqi Sunni have recently become supportive of the armed action by DAASH. The support excludes its strict, indeed anti-social societal mores and abhorrence of current harsh realities of life in DAASH territory. The Islamist organization believes it currently has massive regional support for it rapidly expanding “revolution of the oppressed.” Large numbers in this region do appear to appreciate its recent successes, despite its history of calculated brutality for political purposes. DAASH urges the public to study its remarkable history that reaches back to 2003 when Abu Mus‘ab Zarqawi got out of prison in Jordan and headed to Afghanistan, gained valuable experience from if the trust of Osama Bin Laden, and then crossed over to Iraq to wage jihad against America. DAASH appears to be using sectarian appeals in Iraq and Syria much the same way Zawqawi did when he confronted the ascendant Shia militia following the US invasion and occupation.
DAASH supporters claim that it has been joined by more than a dozen Sunni groups such as one called Men of the Army of the Naqshbandia Order.” JRTN as it is known locally, was established in 2007 following the execution of Saadam Hussein and is made up of former Hussein regime loyalists, including intelligence officers and soldiers from his Republican Guards. If its alliance with DAASH holds, JRTN can contribute thousands of fighters with strong social roots in the community. One JRTN interlocutor explained to this observer, “As Sunni Muslims, DAASH can resolve differences between its views of Islam and those of the Ummah. First we need victory and to achieve that we need each other and if our Baathist partners decide to position themselves to be secular guardians of Sunni Arab nationalism that can be discussed later. The official website of the Naqshbandi Army includes a 1/1/2014 announcement: “To all our brothers and families of the tribes and factions we tell you, you are not alone in this battlefield.”
DAASH insists that it has become less active in killing anyone who works for the government of Syria or Iraq including rubbish collectors, a barbaric practice that alienated the Sunni population and that their support is growing as they increasingly provide the essential social services in the forming proto-Caliphate. “Zionists call us masked, sociopathic murderers but we are much more complicated and representative of those seeking justice than they portray us. Are we more barbaric than the Zionist terrorists who massacred at Dier Yassin, Shatila twice at Qana, and committed dozens of other massacres? History will judge us after we free Palestine.” A few years ago the CIA and others estimated that the Zionist occupation of Palestine will collapse in less than a decade. DAASH claims it can do the job in 72 months.
With respect to events surrounding its takeover of Mosel and other social media broadcast exhibitions of mass brutality, ISIS claims it was done for a purpose, the same purpose that other state and non-state actors have used over the past two decade and that is for 90% of the world 1.5 billion Muslims (Sunni) to free themselves from the oppression of the 10% (Shia).
Several reasons were given as to why Palestinians should hold out hope for ISIS succeeding in their cause when all other Arab, Muslim, and Western claimed Resistance supporters have been abject failures and invariably end up benefiting the Zionist occupation regime terrorizing Palestine. “All countries in this region are playing the sectarian card just as they have long played the Palestinian card but the difference with ISIS is that we are serious about Palestine and they are not. Tel Aviv will fall as fast as Mosul when the time is right”, a DAASH ally explained. Another gentleman insisted, “DAASH will fight where no one else is willing.”
ISIS appears uniformly contemptuous of the Zionist regime and its army and also appears eager to fight them in the near future despite expectation that the regime will use nuclear weapons. “Do you think that we do not have access to nuclear devises? The Zionists know that we do and if we ever believe they are about to use theirs we will not hesitate. After the Zionists are gone, Palestine will have to be decontaminated and rebuilt just like areas where there has been radiation released.”
DAASH supporters claim that it reaches out to local notables and tribal leaders and discuss their differences and seek their tribal counsel. DAASH claims that the Roman Catholic Vatican supports its own claims that when they captured Mosul last week they did not harm Christian residents or desecrate churches. In this they are supported by Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, the Apostolic Nuncio (Pope’s envoy) in Iraq who this week told the media: “The guerrillas who are in control of Mosul have to date not committed any violent act or damaged the churches there.”
It is becoming clear that DAASH has set up well organized local administrations in areas it controls, including an Islamic court system and a local non-hostile police force which support public safety with measures such as closing shops for selling poor products in the souks and supermarkets and on the street, destroying cigarettes and whipping some individuals for disrespecting and insulting their neighbors, confiscating counterfeit medicines in addition to some death sentences for apostasy.
DAASH supporters claim that as soon as they ‘liberate” an area they invest in public works such as the new souk in Raqqa, installs new power lines and conducts training sessions on how citizens can do-it-yourself for more self-reliance with fixing infrastructure problems. In addition DAASH claims that it quickly fixes potholes, runs a low fare bus system, has established a ‘green’ program to build parks and plant trees and flowers, helps farmers with harvests and runs a zakat (alms-giving) organization. Moreover, ISIS has established a number of religious schools for children, including ones for girls where they can memorize the Koran and receive awards if successful, while also holding ‘fun days’ for kids including all the ice cream they can eat and inflatable slides. For their older counterparts, ISIS has established training sessions for new imams and preachers. Schedules for prayers and Koran lessons are posted at mosques. In a more worrisome development, ISIS runs training camps for “cub scouts” and houses these recruits for ‘instruction’. Several social media reports and a few eyewitness accounts appear to confirm that DAASH has developed health and welfare programs, operates bread factories and distributes free fruits and vegetables to needy families, passing the goods out personally as well as setting up a free food kitchen in Raqqa and an adoption agency to place orphans with families in their areas. Unlike the Taliban and some other regimes which exhibit paranoia about vaccination campaigns, DAASH claims to be more ‘modern” and actively promotes polio-vaccination in its areas to try stop its spread.
The social services that DAASH provides obviously do not ameliorate the deadly violence it carries out, but does suggest it is well-organized and has caught the interest of the Sunni Muslims who feel besieged by Shia. According to an al-Bagdadi relative, nearly the half a billion dollars that was snatched from Mosul’s central bank this month will help to win hearts and minds and correct some of its “bad press”. DAASH appears to ascribe to the cliché that half of any war is a rumor. It condemns the project of many satellite channels and claims that they do not objectively report the news but mainly spread rumors with sectarian instigation as the goal. On this point who can refute them?
DAASH supporters deny any interest in training and directing foreign fighters to attack Europe and other places, claiming that their goals are to establish an al-Sham Caliphate and liberate Palestine. With respect to exactly how DAASH intends to liberate Palestine, the Iraqi’s and now the Obama administration ar3 in possession of an encyclopedia of information about detailed DAASH plans, and tactics it will confront the Zionist occupiers with, according to a congressional staffer via email with this observer. Reportedly the employment of large numbers of militarily untrained foreign volunteers as suicide bombers, moving on foot wearing suicide vests, or driving vehicles packed with explosives is just the tip of a deep iceberg of what DAASH is planning.
The trove reportedly came from Iraqi intelligence sources that came upon it less than 48 hours before Mosul fell. Apparently a fellow known as “Abu Hajjar” a captured trusted DAASH messenger broke under Iraqi torture and turned over more than 160 computer flash sticks which contained the most detailed information to date about DAASH. The US intelligence community are still decrypting and analyzing the flash sticks.
Predictably, no sooner that this information reached the US Congress, than Congresswoman and Israeli agent, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen former Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and her partners at AIPAC went to work trying to get ahold copies of the flash sticks and share them with the Israeli Embassy and no doubt the Mossad. The current sense on Capitol Hill is reported to be that the Obama administration in not in the mood to share anything with Israel these days and certainly not with the Netanyahu regime which it loathes.
Time will reveal if DAASH achieves one or both of its objectives. Many believe if they eject the Zionist regime from Palestine, the expanding Islamist group will set in motion historic currents that in all likelihood will be rather different from the Ehud Omert-Condeleeza Rice fantasy of “a New Middle East.”
In any event, it is unlikely that Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Lebanon, among other countries in this region, are going to look much like what George Bush and Dick Cheney and their still active neocon advisers had in mind when they were beating the drums for a U.S. invasion of Iraq, Libya, and now Syria and Iran.
Last Tuesday’s sudden capture of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city (population 1.8 million), by a coalition of Sunni forces led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant was swiftly followed by the fall of Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s home town. By Thursday morning the insurgents were reported to have advanced to the city of Samarra, only 80 miles north of Baghdad. Their lightning success has thrown the U.S. policy in the region into disarray. It creates a new global flashpoint at a time when the Obama administration has its hands full trying to manage regional emergencies, mostly of its own making, in Ukraine and in the Far East.
The most remarkable feature of the ongoing rebel offensive is that the Iraqi army and police units, although superior to the attackers in numbers and equipment, are melting away without a fight. The collapse of their morale, and especially the apparent inability of the government in Baghdad to maintain any semblance of command and control, is without precedent in an even semi-functional modern state. (Mali comes to mind, but sub-Saharan Africa is in a dysfunctional league of its own.) In Mosul, the insurgents captured a vast treasure-trove of U.S.-supplied arms abandoned by the Iraqi army soldiers as they fled. Last January’s fall of Falluja and Ramadi – for which hundreds of U.S. Marines gave their lives in the first decade of this century – now appears to have been a mere dress rehearsal for Mosul. After hundreds of taxpayer billions and thousands of American lives wasted on the war in Iraq before the withdrawal, it is now evident that the additional $14 billion that the United States has spent on arming, training and equipping the Iraqi security forces since December 2011 were also wasted. Even before the latest rebel advance the Iraqi army was ineffective and plagued by mass desertions, especially among its Sunni soldiers. Now that army can be seen for what it is: a sectarian Shi’ite militia, very well armed and equipped but atrociously trained and even worse led. Its top brass is uninterested in defending Sunni-majority areas in the northwest of the country, and its rank-and-file is deeply divided along sectarian lines. Unable and unwilling to develop any sense of loyalty or common purpose among its non-Shia recruits, NCOs and officers, the Iraqi army effectively does not exist.
It is equally noteworthy that Islamic militants have now joined forces with the Baathist leaders and military commanders from Saddam’s era (“Former Regime Elements,” FREs). Most prominently they include former vice-president Izzat al-Douri, who has evaded capture by the “Coalition” and by the Iraqi government for over a decade. Prior to 2003, people like al-Douri – a Baathist secularist – and various hard-core jihadist movements trying to undermine Saddam’s regime were mortal enemies. Their present ability to join forces is entirely due to their shared disdain for the sectarian Shia government in Baghdad. Of course they will not be able to offer a joint “vision” for a Sunni state carved out of what remains of Iraq, but they are eminently able to ensure that one-third of this once-prosperous Arab state will no longer be controlled from the center. The majority-Shia regions – approximately one-half of the territory and two-thirds of the population – will become even more closely linked to Iran, thus making a mockery of Geroge W. Bush’s post-WMD rationale for starting the war.
Particularly ironic is the fact that ISIS is the main fighting force battling Bashar al-Assad in Syria. The ISIS-affiliated jihadists in Aleppo and Raqqa (under whatever temporary label) are to this day aided and abetted by the U.S. government. The arms and equipment shipped via Turkey and Jordan and meant for the elusive Syrian “moderates” invariably end up in extremist hands. Across the border, in Iraq, these same people are the enemy of America and her chosen regime in Baghdad. All along, the group’s ideology and objectives are the same. They are openly proclaimed: there is nothing secretive about the ISIS goal of establishing an Islamic caliphate in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and southeastern Turkey.
There is no coherent U.S. strategy in Iraq, or by inevitable association, in Syria. Both have been pushed to the back-burner in recent months, and both have been based either on wishful thinking or on pig-headed mendacity. The current chaos in Iraq reminds us of the extent to which U.S. interventions abroad are bad in principle if no vital American security and economic interests are involved. Malaki has asked for American air strikes, and even the return of boots on the ground, but this must not happen. No American interest is at stake in the ongoing Iraqi mess, and therefore no U.S. involvement is justified. It never was. Foreign intervention becomes inexcusable if its likely outcome is worse than the status quo. In Iraq the U.S. should not become an active ally of the sectarian Shia regime that cannot and will not either co-opt or corrupt its Sunni co-nationals. In Syria, it is clear that the only likely alternative to Bashar is a nosedive into terrorist jihadist mayhem. Both outcomes would be far worse from the vantage point of U.S. interests, geopolitically as well as morally, than letting things be as they are. The Bush administration, the U.S. government was a problem in creating the bloody Iraqi mess in 2003 and managing it thereafter. Washington’s evil and insane “foreign policy community” cannot be a solution to Iraq’s problems now, and never will be.
President Barack Obama’s commencement address at West Point on May 28 managed to displease pretty much everyone in the nation’s commentariat. Before making an overall assessment of its significance, it is necessary to examine the validity and implications of Obama’s individual statements.
“[B]y most measures America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world. Those who argue otherwise – who suggest that America is in decline or has seen its global leadership slip away – are either misreading history or engaged in partisan politics.”
This key assertion, made at the beginning of the President’s address, does not stand to empirical scrutiny. In economic terms, America was far stronger vis-à-vis the rest of the world in 1945 than she is today. In more recent times, U.S. share of world GDP peaked in 1985 with just under 33 percent of global GDP (nominal). Between 2004 and 2014, United States’ share of global gross domestic product (GDP) adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP) has fallen from 22.5 percent to 18.5 percent, and it is expected to continue falling. By the end of this year China will overtake the United States in gross domestic product, which had originally been projected to happen by the end of this decade. Analysts concede will gradually shift the ability to confer advantages or disadvantages on other countries – in other words, power – in China’s favor.
In military terms, while America enjoyed the nuclear monopoly in 1945-49, her period of undisputed unipolar dominance was between 1991 (the collapse of the USSR) and 2008 (Russia’s counterattack in South Ossetia). Although the Pentagon budget will drop from $600 billion this year to $500 billion in 2015, it will continue to account for over a third of the global total. The unsatisfactory outcomes in Iraq and Afghanistan and dented America’s image of military invincibility. As the Economist commented on May 3, “The yawning gap between Uncle Sam and his potential foes seems bound to shrink.” The prevailing view among most critical analysts is that over the past decade the U.S. has suffered military reverses, and now faces severe global competition.
As for the “global leadership,” it is unclear what exactly Obama had in mind. Russia and China are creating a powerful Eurasian counterweight to what they rightly perceive as Washington’s continuing bid for the global hegemony. India’s new prime minister is a potential partner at best, and certainly loath to acknowledge America’s “leadership.” In the Islamic world, Obama’s attempts at appeasement – which started with the Cairo speech in 2009 – have not worked: The U.S. is now even more unpopular in the Muslim world than it was under George W. Bush. America is heartily disliked even in Turkey and Jordan, presumably our allies, not least because of the continuing drone strikes. American influence in Latin America is weaker now than at any time since Theodore Roosevelt, as manifested in the unanimous rejection of Washington’s efforts to effect a regime change in Venezuela. Members of the American elite class are hard pressed to name a single country with which the U.S. has better relations today than five years ago. The NSA global spying network has infuriated even some otherwise reliable American friends in Western Europe. Most “Old Europeans” are remarkably resistant to U.S. pressure to agree to serious sanctions against Russia.
On balance it appears that Barack Obama is the one misreading history and engaging in partisan politics.
“Meanwhile, our economy remains the most dynamic on Earth, our businesses the most innovative.”
In reality, by most value-neutral parameters the American economy is chronically weak and insolvent:
- Far from growing, the economy contracted in the first three months of this year at the annualized rate of one per cent, and it is unclear where future growth would come from. Gross domestic income is also falling sharply, for the first time in years.
- There are fewer workers, they are less efficient than a decade ago, and new employment is mostly in low-paying part-time jobs. Labor force participation (the percentage of Americans at work) is low, at levels not seen since the stagnant economy of the 1970s. One-fifth of 80 million American families do not have a single employed member.
- Government dependence has reached epidemic levels: the number of Americans getting money or benefits from the federal government exceeds the number of full-time workers in the private sector by more than 60 million. Welfare spending and entitlement payments account for 69 percent of the federal budget.
- One-third of all American households are living hand-to-mouth, one paycheck from poverty. The median annual income is 7.5 percent lower than in January 2008.
- The inflation-adjusted S&P500 is back to where it was in 2007. The single biggest buyer of stocks are the companies of the S&P500 itself. At $4 trillion, stock buybacks account for one-fifth of the total stock market value. The biggest buyback in market history added zero productive value to the companies concerned.
- The mountain of debt is nearing $17.5 trillion. The drivers of growing deficits and debt in the future are unfunded entitlement programs that are designed to transfer resources from working people to retirees. When the government pension and health care commitments which are missing from official budget figures are accounted for, the total national debt is nearly $95 trillion, more than seven times the published figure.
- The dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency is almost over. Russia and China have joined forces in “de-dollarization” of their mutual transactions and are looking for a more productive and safe use for their monetary reserves. Their recent gas deal is the beginning of the end for the petrodollar. Eventually Washington will have to choose between an outright default and hyperinflation, and the rest of the world is waking up to that fact.
Some “dynamism,” some “innovation”…
“America continues to attract striving immigrants.”
Obama’s statement is correct. It does not illustrate America’s alleged strength as was his intent, however; it underscores this country’s major weakness. Illegal immigration is spiraling out of control, the Border Patrol is overwhelmed. If the influx continues at current high levels, the U.S. population will increase to almost half a billion in 2060 – more than a 50 percent increase. New immigrants – mostly from the Third World, unskilled, uneducated, and a net drain on American resources – and their descendants will account for over one hundred million of that increase. On current form, English-speaking Americans of European origin will become a minority in their own country four decades from now. They will inhabit an increasingly overpopulated, polluted, lumpenproleterized, permanently impoverished country. America unfortunately does continue “to attract striving immigrants,” mostly illegal ones and of poor quality. This is far greater threat to the survival of the United States in a historically or culturally recognizable form than terrorism or any conceivable alliance of foreign powers. Barack Obama does not understand this, or does not care, or – just as likely – cherishes the prospect.
“The values of our founding inspire leaders in parliaments and new movements in public squares around the globe.”
By “public squares” Obama was probably alluding to Kiev’s Maidan. Indeed, it has propelled some “new movements” to global prominence, such as the Svoboda party and the Right Sector. The Founding Fathers would be horrified to learn that, in the opinion of the President of the United States, their values have inspired Messrs. Tyahnybok, Yarosh, and other blood-soaked heirs to Stepan Bandera. This is on par with Senator Joseph Lieberman saying, “The United States of America and the Kosovo Liberation Army stand for the same values and principles. Fighting for the KLA is fighting for human rights and American values.”
“And when a typhoon hits the Philippines, or schoolgirls are kidnapped in Nigeria, or masked men occupy a building in Ukraine, it is America that the world looks to for help.”
Obama is mixing apples (natural disasters) and pears (man-made ones). The problem of Islamic terrorism in Nigeria was exacerbated by the refusal of the Department of State under Hillary Clinton to place Boko Haram (“Secular Education is Sinful”) on the list of foreign terrorist organizations in 2011, despite the urging of the Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA, and over a dozen Senators and Congressmen. The de facto protection thus given to Boko Haram has enabled it to morph into a state-within-the-state with an estimated 300,000 followers.
It would be ironic if “the world” were to look to America for help in Ukraine (which in any event it does not), since the course of crisis there has been, overwhelmingly, of Washington’s own making, as manifested in Victoria Nuland’s famous phone call to Ambassador Pyatt. The new Drang nach Ostenmakes sense from the point of view of the liberal globalist-neoconservative duopoly: there is no better way to ensure U.S. dominance along the European rimland in perpetuity than drawing Europe back into NATO (i.e. U.S.) security orbit in general and subverting the Russo-German rapprochement in particular. The “masked men” in buildings are a direct consequence of American meddling.
“So the United States is and remains the one indispensable nation. That has been true for the century past, and it will be true for the century to come.”
It has never been true, it is not true now, and it never will be true. Madeleine Albright’s famous dictum was an arrogant statement by an immigrant ignorant of American history and a sign of her well-attested instability. It was reiterated in Bill Clinton’s 1996 speech, where he explained why he intervened, disastrously, in Bosnia: “The fact is America remains the indispensable nation. There are times when America, and only America, can make a difference between war and peace, between freedom and repression, between hope and fear.” That Obama has chosen to recycle such rubbish is a sign of intellectual and moral bankruptcy. “Indispensable” to whom, exactly? It is unimaginable for the leader of any other country in the world – Vladimir Putin, say, or Xi Jinping – to advance such a claim. It is tasteless at best and psychotically grandomaniac at worst, a latter day “Manifest Destiny” on steroids. The problem is that such hubristic delusions easily translate into non-negotiable foreign policy objectives. Resisting the will of the “indispensable nation” is ipso facto evil: Susan Rice’s condemnation of Chinese and Russian vetoes of the U.S.-supported UN Security Council resolution on Syria as “disgusting,” “shameful” and “unforgivable” comes to mind.
“Russia’s aggression towards former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe while China’s economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors.”
Quite apart from the genesis of the crisis in Ukraine, to which “Russia’s aggression” hardly applies, Obama’s use of the term “former Soviet states,” plural, implies that in his opinion Ukraine is not the only “victim of Russia’s aggression.” Presumably he means Georgia, the only “former Soviet state” with which Russia has had a conflict since the collapse of the Soviet Union. If so, and there is no other explanation for his turn of his phrase, Obama has a dangerously flawed understanding of the August 2008 Georgian crisis.
Georgian then-President Mikheil Saakashvili’s order to attack South Ossetia’s capital, Tskhinvali, was a breathtakingly audacious challenge to Russia, to which she was bound to react forcefully. That response was promptly exploited, for the first time since Gorbachev, by the American mainstream media machine and the foreign-policy community in Washington to paint Russia as a rogue power that is not only dangerous but intrinsically malignant. The vehemence of that rhetoric exceeded anything ever said or written about jihad, before or after September 11. To be fair, Saakashvili was led to believe that he was tacitly authorized to act as he did. President George W. Bush had treated Georgia as a “strategic partner” ever since the Western-engineered “Rose Revolution” five years earlier, and in early 2008 he strongly advocated NATO membership for Georgia. Washington had repeatedly supported Georgia’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity,” which implied the right to use force to bring South Ossetia and Abkhazia to heel, just as it is supporting “resolute action” in Donetsk and Lugansk today. Saakashvili may be forgiven for imagining that the United States would have bailed him out if things went badly. It is noteworthy that he was not disabused of such notions. The calculus in Washington appears to have been based on a win-win scenario, not dissimilar to the current Ukrainian strategy. Had Georgian troops occupied South Ossetia in a blitzkrieg operation modeled after Croatia’s “Operation Storm,” while the Russians remained hesitant or ineffective, Moscow would have suffered a major strategic and (more importantly) psychological defeat after almost four years of sustained strategic recovery. If Russia intervened, however, she would be duly demonized and the U.S. would push for NATO consolidation with new vigor. “Old” Europeans – the Germans especially – would be pressed to abandon their détente with Moscow. A resentful Georgia would become chronically anti-Russian, thus ensuring a long-term American presence in the region.
In the event, like the Ukrainian army today, the Georgian army performed so poorly that a military fait accompli was out of its reach. Excesses against Ossetian civilians – just like the shelling of schools in Slavyansk today – made the “victim of aggression” narrative hard to sell, Obama’s “aggression” rhetoric notwithstanding.
“The question we face… is not whether America will lead but how we will lead, not just to secure our peace and prosperity but also extend peace and prosperity around the globe.”
It is unclear how, if at all, America will secure her own “peace and prosperity” in the years and decades to come, let alone how she can extend it “around the globe.” If this is a statement of Obama’s grand strategy, it is flawed in principle and unfeasible in detail. In this statement there is not a hint of an overall blueprint for action that matches our country’s resources to her vital interests. A sound grand strategy enables a state to deploy its political, military, economic, and moral resources in a balanced and proportionate manner, in order to protect and enhance its security and promote its well-being, never mind “the globe.” In Obama’s universe, however, there are no brains behind “indispensable,” heavy-handed diplomacy and military power. Obama creates a false dilemma (“the question we face”) unsupported by facts. China, India, Russia, the Muslim world and Latin America do not want to be “led,” quite the contrary. Old Europe is reluctant at best. Subsaharan Africa is an irrelevant mess. The question we face is not global leadership, but national survival.
“Regional aggression that goes unchecked, whether in southern Ukraine or the South China Sea or anywhere else in the world, will ultimately impact our allies, and could draw in our military. We can’t ignore what happens beyond our boundaries.”
This simultaneous dig at Russia and China reflects a hubristic world view that is unmatched by conflict-management resources. A sane American relationship with Moscow demands acceptance that Russia has legitimate interests in her “near-abroad.” Obama’ four-nation tour of East Asia last Aprilescalated existing U.S. military commitments to the region, created some new ones, deeply irritated China, and emboldened American allies and clients to play hardball with Beijing. Obama does not understand that it is extremely dangerous for a great power to alienate two of its nearest rivals simultaneously. The crisis in Ukraine is going on, but the situation in Asia is potentially more volatile. Dealing with both theaters from the position of presumed strength and trying to dictate the outcomes is perilous, as many would-be hegemons (Philip II, Louis XIV, Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm, Hitler), blinded by arrogance, have learned to their peril. Obama has continued the hegemonist habit of instigating crises at different spots around the world, even though the resources are scarce and the strategy is fundamentally faulty. An overtly anti-U.S. alliance between Russia and China is now in the making. U.S. overreach led to the emergence of a de facto alliance in the Eurasian Heartland, embodied in the gas deal signed in Shanghai. Russia and China are not natural allies and they may have divergent long-term interests, especially in Central Asia, but they are on the same page when it comes to resisting U.S. hegemony, pardon, “leadership.” In the early 1970’s Dr. Henry Kissinger wisely understood the benefits of an opening to Beijing as a means of pressuring Moscow on the Cold War’s central front. Back then the USSR was far more powerful than the People’s Republic. Today, by contrast, China is much more economically and demographically powerful than Russia, and for the United States the optimal strategy would dictate being on good terms with the weaker party in the triangle. America does not have a policymaker of Kissinger’s stature today, who would understand the potential of a long-term understanding with Moscow as a tool of curtailing Chinese ambitions along the Pacific Rim.
“America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will. The military that you have joined is, and always will be, the backbone of that leadership.”
The notion that “the world stage” demands a “leader” is flawed. It is at fundamental odds with the balance-of-power paradigm, which has historically secured the longest periods of peace and unprecedented prosperity to the civilized world. Today’s world is being multipolarized, whether Obama the Exceptionalist likes that or not. The very idea of the self-awarded “world leadership” would appear absurd in the days of Bismarck or Metternich. Washington has neither the resources nor the minds for such a role, even if it were called for.
“The United States will use military force, unilaterally if necessary, when our core interests demand it — when our people are threatened; when our livelihoods are at stake; when the security of our allies is in danger.”
None of the above applied in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, or Libya… but enough of Obama. There was more rhetoric at West Point, including an ode to American exceptionalism and further references to America’s global leadership, but it just as tedious, vacuous and intellectually wanting as the first ten minutes of his address.
Overall, it is evident that the United States in Barack Obama’s final term has not given up the hegemonist habit of instigating crises at different spots around the world, even though the management resources are scarce and the strategy is fundamentally faulty. An overtly anti-U.S. alliance between Russia and China is now in the making. It will be a belated equivalent of the Franco-Russian alliance of 1893 – the predictable result of an earlier great power, Wilhelm’s Kaiserreich, basing its strategy on hubristic overestimation of its capabilities. U.S. overreach has led to the emergence of a de facto alliance in the Eurasian Heartland, embodied in last month’s energy agreement signed in Shanghai. Russia and China are not natural allies and they may have divergent long-term interests, especially in Central Asia, but they are on the same page when it comes to resisting U.S. hegemony.
In the early 1970’s Dr. Henry Kissinger wisely understood the benefits of an opening to Beijing as a means of pressuring Moscow on the Cold War’s central front. Back then the USSR was far more powerful than the People’s Republic. Today, by contrast, China is much more economically and demographically powerful than Russia, and for the United States the optimal strategy would dictate being on good terms with the weaker party in the triangle. It is unfortunate that America does not have a policymaker of Kissinger’s stature today, who would understand the potential of a long-term understanding with Moscow as a tool of curtailing Chinese ambitions along the Pacific Rim.
Judging by the West Point address, for the remaining two and a half years of Obama’s term U.S.-initiated global confrontations will continue as before. Instead of de-escalating the bloody mess to which she has made a hefty contribution, Victoria Nuland will continue encouraging her blood-soaked protégés in Kiev to seek a military end-game in the East. Instead of calming the South China Sea, Washington will continue encouraging its clients to be impertinent. And Putin and Xi will draw their conclusions: that they do have a powerful common enemy, a rogue regime not amenable to reason or rational calculus.
It cannot be otherwise, considering the Obama Administration’s 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance, which is but a rehash of the strategic assumptions of the Bush era. In Obama’s words from two years ago, our “enduring national interest” is to maintain the unparalleled U.S. military superiority, “ready for the full range of contingencies and threats” amid “a complex and growing array of security challenges across the globe.” The Guidance itself asserts that the task of the United States is to “confront and defeat aggression anywhere in the world.” This is not a grand strategy but a blueprint for disaster—especially when combined with the interventionists’ urge to “confront and defeat” not only aggression as such but also “aggression” resulting from internal conflicts irrelevant to the American interest (Syria, Ukraine) and putative threats to regional stability (Iran).
Obama is a more reluctant interventionist than McCain or Romney would have been, but he, too, does not recognize the limits of American power and does not correlate that power with this country’s security and prosperity. He fails to balance military and nonmilitary, short and long-term capabilities. He rejects the fact that the world is becoming multipolar again, while the relative power of the United States is in steady decline. Obama’s absence of a viable grand strategy produces policies that are disjointed, nonsensical, and self-defeating. He is prone, no less than his predecessor, to equate any stated political objective in some faraway land with America’s vital interests, without ever offering a coherent definition of those “vital” interests.
On both sides of the duopoly, the ideology of American exceptionalism and the doctrine of global dominance reign supreme. At a time of domestic economic weakness and cultural decline, foreign policy based on the American interest requires prudence, restraint, and a rational link between ends and means. Abroad, it demands disengagement from distant countries of which we know little; at home, a sane immigration policy.
It will not happen.
Sometimes I just want to pimp slap people.
Last summer, I was at dinner during a sales convention. The conversation didn’t get political until someone mentioned the NSA.
There is one in every crowd. Someone piped up and said, “They can spy on me all they want. I am not doing anything wrong.”
They sang this song in Germany in 1933. And they sang it with unprecedented gusto in the months following 9/11, all in the name of “security” and “keeping us safe”.
We were at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the world’s second largest hotel. Nothing in the post-9/11 “national security” apparatus would prevent a terrorist from walking in, setting off a bomb, and killing hundreds or even thousands of people.
The more important questions are: How do you know you are doing nothing that could be construed as wrong by some state functionary? How do you know you are not breaking some law somewhere? And why are you so implicitly trusting that your government would never do anything evil with the information it has collected on you?
This is not purely an academic matter. The practical implications are profound.
I give you several examples.
1. Niakea Williams went to her son’s St. Louis-area elementary school one day to pick up her son, who has Asperger’s. The school was put on lockdown and Mrs. Williams was escorted out in handcuffs.
2. Adrionna Harris was almost expelled from her middle school in Virginia Beach after taking a razor blade away from a fellow student who was trying to harm himself.
3. Read what Houston police did to this man who gave 75 cents to a homeless person.
4. A little known Denver parking ordinance can get you a $25 fine even if you haven’t exceeded the two-hour limit.
5. Police in Iowa City, Iowa, seized $50,000 from this couple without charging them with a crime.
6. Alberto Willmore lost his teaching job in Manhattan over a totally bogus marijuana arrest. Even though he was never convicted of anything, he was unable to get his job back.
7. Norman Gurley was arrested in Lorain County, Ohio, because a compartment in his car could have been used to transport drugs.
8. Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies shot and killed 80-year-old Eugene Mallory in his own bed during a meth raid. No meth, or any other illegal drugs, was discovered.
9. Paul Valin contacted police to report that he found a backpack full of what he believed to be meth-making equipment 15 miles from his home near Des Moines. As a result, the DEA placed his house on its list of meth labs.
11. New York police seized Gerald Bryan’s cash in a nighttime raid in 2012. Even though Bryan was cleared of any wrongdoing, the stolen cash was deposited in the NYPD pension fund.
12. Robert Duncan is currently serving two years in a California prison, even though the business in which he worked was legal in California.
13. Jordan Wiser spent 13 days in jail after Jefferson, Ohio, police found a pocketknife during a warrantless search of his car.
14. During a school lockdown in Clarksville, Tennessee, David Duren-Sanner gave police permission to search his car as he had “nothing to hide”. Police found a fishing knife. Duren-Sanner, who previously had never been to the principal’s office, was suspended for 10 days and then sent to an alternative school for 90 days.
15. Look what happened to these parents in Napa, California, even though the medical marijuana prescriptions they had were completely legal.
16. Eileen Ann Bower of suburban Pittsburgh had her newborn child taken from her for 75 days because of a false positive drug test.
17. Jerry Hartfield of Bay City, Texas, has spent the majority of his life in prison, even though hisconviction was overturned in 1980.
18. Jason Dewing of update New York was found guilty of violating a law that did not exist.
19. Don Miller of Waldron, Indiana, had his home raided by FBI agents who seized hundreds of cultural artifacts from around the world. Miller was neither arrested nor charged with anything.
20. This San Diego couple was pepper-sprayed and tasered by police who had erroneously identified their vehicle after being stolen.
21. The good news is that Brian Aitken of Mount Laurel, New Jersey, had his prison sentence commuted.The bad news is that he was originally sentenced to seven years behind bars for possessing two legally purchased guns.
22. This special needs student in McDonald, Pennsylvania, was charged with felony wiretapping for recording other students who were bullying him mercilessly.
23. Abner Schoenwetter of Miami served over six years in prison for – you can’t make this stuff up – violating Honduran fisheries law.
24. Read what happened to John Filippidis of Hudson, Florida, when he was pulled over by state policewhile driving unarmed through Maryland.
25. In a case of mistaken identity, Lewis James of Durham, North Carolina, “was handcuffed and later jailed under a $1.425 million bond” after he had contacted the police to notify them of a dead body in the middle of the road. As someone put it on Facebook, “Don’t call the cops. Ever. Even if you find a dead body. Just don’t ever call the cops.”
26. Read what happened to Diane Avera of Meridian, Mississippi, when she went to Alabama to buy Sudafed, even though she did not know that this was illegal.
27. Andy Johnson of Uinta County, Wyoming, faces EPA fines of $75,000 per day for building a pond on land that he owns.
28. Douglas Zerby of Long Beach was shot and killed by police while watering his lawn because some idiot neighbor thought the hose nozzle was a gun.
29. Darien Roseen was arrested and had his vehicle searched by sheriff’s deputies in Payette County, Idaho, simply because his Colorado license plates led them to believe that he could have been carrying marijuana.
30. Brian Banks of Long Beach spent five years in prison and five more years as a registered sex offenderas a result of a rape conviction. And then his accuser changed her story.
These are not “isolated incidents.” There are no doubt countless other examples of people who were doing nothing wrong, yet were harshly punished.
Also, consider the following:
• The Internal Revenue Code is 73,955 pages and millions of words long. No one has read it cover-to-cover and no one knows every aspect of it. Yet if anyone violates any of its provisions it can mean fines, prison or even death.
• We are often told that “ignorance of the law is no defense.” To the right is a picture of the Yale Law Library. Do you know every law contained within these tomes?
- Read what various emissaries of the Amerikan police state have done to these veterans who went all over the world to “fight for our freedom.”
• Seventy-two types of Americans are classified as terrorists in various government documents. Senator Harry Reid has now added a seventy-third category.
• Read how police have used asset forfeiture laws to seize millions of dollars from people without charging them with any crimes.
- Read this list of eight ways people commit felonies without even knowing it.
• Read this article and pay special attention to these words from former NSA official William Binney: “The problem is, if they think they’re not doing anything that’s wrong, they don’t get to define that. The central government does.”
• Read how the Innocence Project has helped exonerate over 300 wrongfully imprisoned people, many of whom were on death row.
• Attorney Harvey Silverglate argues that the average American commits three felonies a day without even knowing it.
• This Ford executive claims that, thanks to GPS, “we know everyone who breaks the law.”
• Although it has been estimated that there are over 3000 types of federal criminal offenses, no one knows the exact number for sure.
So, do you still feel you have nothing to fear?
Never let a racial crisis go to waste is, I suppose, the credo of the Machiavellian mainstream media. Since the release of the Don Sterling audio, liberals haven’t missed a chance to play the race card for all its worth. One of the worst offenders is a New York Daily News columnist named Harry Siegel, who — in a piece of pablum bearing a picture of NBA owners portrayed as Klansmen — bemoans the lack of Diversity™ in league ownership and management. Unfortunately for Siegy, his points, which start with the Klan hoods, only get worse from there.
A man with a conscience (malformed though it is), Siegel laments that the NBA is “a league where three-quarters of the players are black, but fewer than half the coaches and not even a fifth of the league office staff are black, as of October, 2013, and every majority team owner except Michael Jordan is white.” But there’s an easy remedy.
Institute a quota ensuring that whites, and other races, get proportionate representation among NBA players.
This would make the league approximately 63 percent white, 17 percent Hispanic, 13 percent black and 6 percent Asian. The remaining one percent can be represented by Clint Eastwood’s empty chair on the sidelines, and we can throw in a primordial dwarf if it makes the Diversity™ didacts feel better.
And why not? Why should proportionality go only one way? The bias here lies in self-righteously bloviating about Diversity™ when whites dominate an area while acting as if you don’t even notice it when blacks do.
Of course, liberals would say that the players have earned their positions. But how do we know the owners haven’t? After all, some individuals definitely seem to have a gift for building financial empires. This isn’t to say that every rich person makes his fortune through respectable means. Heck, some people even make millions dribbling a ball around.
But it seems that liberals, prejudiced to the core, only have a problem with it when the “wrong” groups succeed. With the contraception con spent, Barack Obama (PBUH) has used his Teleprompter recently to rail against the male/female wage gap — and he wasn’t talking about the one where young urban women earn 8 percent more than their male peers (because they’re 50 percent more likely to graduate college; I don’t think ol’ Barry mentions this gap, either). Libs could also cite how NBA owners are inordinately Jewish, but that narrative won’t work yet. And the highest-earning religious group in the nation is Hindus, but, last I heard, colleges weren’t schooling mush-head kids in “Hindu privilege.”
But talking about those things might be “publicly toxic”; you know, in the sense that Siegel said he’s sure that Sterling is “not the only owner whose private thoughts are publicly toxic.” No doubt. And I’m certain this is limited to rich white NBA owners, or at least white people in general. It also occurs to me, however, that people can develop a tolerance for certain toxins, such as when black ex-basketball players suggest all-black leagues or black civil-rights hustlers call a city “Hymietown.” And, in keeping with the toxicological principle “The dose makes the poison,” tolerance for toxins disgorged by whites stands at about .010 parts per million.
Then there are the millions, of dollars, that Siegel laments the NBA players are not getting, writing that theirs is a “league where the 360 or so athletes who, in fact, make the game, split its proceeds about 50-50 with ownership.” Note that he also dismissed the owners, who allegedly believe they make the game, as “[w]ealthy men…[who] think highly of their own contributions.”
Now, some might say that the fans make the game; after all, you earn zilch without a market. But what is Siegel’s point? Wouldn’t the proceeds split be much the same in the virtually all-white NHL? And how is that different from any corporation or successful business? A person doesn’t invest his heart and soul and risk capital in a venture without the carrot of a possibly handsome return; not even liberals such as Little Big Gulp (a.k.a. Michael Bloomberg), Warren Buffet and Donald Sterling do that.
So it sounds as if Siegel is lamenting economic freedom, as if he’d prefer a Marxist model (this certainly would have the upside of not enriching men who dribble balls and pundits who dribble ideas). Of course, nothing is stopping the players from pooling their resources and trying to buy into their team.
But perhaps most telling about Siegel’s article is what could be akin to a Freudian slip. A recurrent theme of his is that “we” can feel good about ourselves for taking the principled stand against Sterling, but there is much work yet to do. He writes, “We can all take a moment and pat ourselves on the back for not being as horrible as this appalling old man,” and later, “Once we’re done feeling good about not being Sterling…,” it’s time to beat the Diversity™ drum. But he also self-righteously states that Sterling’s “obscene behavior…has been well documented” and asks, “how could this have gone on for so long?”
What this gets at is the phoniness of the left. Let’s be clear on something: the “we” here isn’t me. It’s not most of you readers, the Heritage Foundation, Catholic Church or Southern Baptist Convention.
It is the left.
Notoriously liberal Mark Cuban, who now calls Sterling “abhorrent,” said in 2009, “I like Donald. He plays by his own rules.” (Translation: a lib who becomes a liability to the cause is “abhorrent.” A lib who is getting away with it “plays by his own rules.”) Black actor Leon Isaac Kennedy called Sterling “a prince among men.” The NAACP gave him an award and was set to bestow another. And ex-NBA commissioner David Stern, who some libs now criticize for not only tolerating the owner but even rewarding him, is, like Sterling, a Democrat donor.
The “we,” libs, is you.
It’s not conservatives. It’s not white people. It’s you.
You anointed yourselves arbiters and overseers of acceptable racial commentary; “racism” is your hang-up, your defined One Deadly Sin, your great litmus test. Don’t blame “society” — upholding yourprinciples is your responsibility.
So most of the lib outrage over “racism” is, when not downright phony, motivated by selectively triggered emotion. It’s a ploy used to tear down tradition and traditionalists on specious grounds and win the culture war. It’s not for lib-enablers, such as late Senator Robert Byrd, who’d been in the KKK; blacks such a Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton; Bill Clinton with his Obama-coffee remark; or fat cats who make big donations — until it’s time to throw them under the bus.
As for Siegel, if he’s so concerned about Diversity™, perhaps he could turn his columnist slot over to a minority. After all, the vast majority of columnists are white, Siegy, and you wouldn’t want some future writer to have to lament, “how could this have gone on for so long?”
According to The Salt Lake Tribune, “It’s time for Western states to take control of federal lands within their borders, lawmakers and county commissioners from Western states said at Utah’s Capitol on Friday.
“More than 50 political leaders from nine states convened for the first time to talk about their joint goal: wresting control of oil-,timber-and mineral-rich lands away from the feds.
“‘It’s simply time,’ said Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, who organized the Legislative Summit on the Transfer for Public Lands along with Montana state Sen. Jennifer Fielder. ‘The urgency is now.’
“Utah House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, was flanked by a dozen participants, including her counterparts from Idaho and Montana, during a press conference after the daylong closed-door summit. U.S. Sen. Mike Lee addressed the group over lunch, Ivory said. New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming, Oregon and Washington also were represented.
“The summit was in the works before this month’s tense standoff between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management over cattle grazing, Lockhart said.
“‘What’s happened in Nevada is really just a symptom of a much larger problem,’ Lockhart said.”
See the report here:
Now we are getting somewhere!
The western states have been used as both playground and sugar stick for big-government politicians since before most of the western states became states. Compare the percentage of State land owned by the federal government in the western states to that of the eastern states.
Here is the percentage of land owned by the federal government in seven eastern states:
New York: 0.8%
Rhode Island: 0.4%
By contrast, here is the percentage of land owned by the federal government in seven western states:
The situation with the Bundys in Nevada highlights the heavy-handed tactics that the federal government employs against anyone who dares to challenge the manner in which the feds are attempting to kick hard-working, productive citizens off of federal lands. Remember that ranchers and farmers such as Cliven Bundy were promised access to these federal lands in perpetuity back in the nineteenth century when all of these land deals were being negotiated between the states and the federal government. Beyond that, ownership of the land by the federal government was supposed to preserve and protect the land for the people, not for the federal government.
A few years ago, there were dozens of successful and prosperous ranchers in the area around the Bundys. But since the BLM was given legislative mandates when Congress enacted the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) in 1976, Cliven Bundy is now the only rancher in the area still standing.
The BLM has grown into a totalitarian monster.
Today, the BLM regulates hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, boating, hang gliding, shooting, off-highway vehicle driving, mountain biking, bird watching, and visiting natural and historical sites. The BLM also regulates logging, mining, fracking and other activities. What ranchers such as Cliven Bundy are going through loggers and miners are also experiencing. In fact, it is no hyperbole to say that, for all intents and purposes, the ranching, logging, and mining industries in the western states are being systematically regulated out of existence.
And in the case of Cliven Bundy, it is not about saving the Desert Tortoise or grazing fees or anything of the sort. It is all about letting fat-cat politicians such as Harry Reid negotiate lucrative solar energy deals with Communist China. Hey, folks: if the land doesn’t belong to Cliven Bundy, it doesn’t belong to Harry Reid, either!
The BLM’s evil twin sister is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which was established in 1970. These two federal agencies have become the Wicked Witch of the East and Wicked Witch of the West in what used to be a beautiful land paved with yellow brick roads.
I dare say that if the eastern states were enduring the haranguing and harassment that the western states are enduring, the BLM would have been brought under control years ago. Absent national unity from eastern states on the matter, it is time for the western states to take matters into their own hands.
The legislative action being contemplated by the above-mentioned State legislators who assembled in Salt Lake City last Friday is a terrific first step. It is absolutely time for the western states to use their eminent domain authority to reclaim the lands within their borders that are currently owned by Washington, D.C. With the exception of National Parks, states should serve notice that they are taking back the land owned by the federal government–land that should never have been ceded to the central government to begin with.
The second problem that the siege against Cliven Bundy illustrates is the unconstitutional police powers assumed by federal agencies such as the BLM. Originally, the only federal agency that was lawfully allowed to make arrests on behalf of the U.S. government was the U.S. Marshals Service, which was created back in 1789–the year that the U.S. Constitution was ratified. Today, there are scores of alphabet agencies of the federal government who carry a badge and a gun and are allowed to enforce law at bayonet point. And the vast majority of these agencies are acting on assumed authority–authority not granted them constitutionally. Among these, there is no greater culprit than the BLM.
“You don’t send the Seventh Cavalry to collect a bill, and that’s exactly what happened,” Pat Buchanan told Sean Hannity on his radio show last Monday.
Buchanan went on to say, “And when they put all those forces out there-that’s what attracted all the others, the history of what happened at Waco, Ruby Ridge. And so these folks came to that rancher’s defense. But the initial problem here is [the] sending of all the force of arms out there to that ranch, which was a provocation to which these folks responded.”
See the report here:
The Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
The Constitution delegates only three crimes to the federal government: treason, piracy, and counterfeiting. That’s it. No other crimes are mentioned. That means that all other crimes are the purview of the states–including local and State police, sheriff’s deputies, and citizen militias and posses.
Of course, the problem is the Congress (and Court) in Washington, D.C., has used the “Necessary and Proper Clause” of Article. I. Section. 8. to justify all sorts of federal law enforcement enactments.
The result of this unconstitutional federal expansion of police powers is we now have scores of federal agencies that are using unchecked and unbridled power–power that is turning the United States into a giant police state.
The states must push back!
Not only must states reclaim millions of acres of land within their borders that are now controlled by the federal government, they must also pass legislation requiring federal bureaucracies such as the BLM to obtain the consent of county sheriffs in order to execute arrest warrants. States must make it clear in unmistakable terms that only the U.S. Marshals Service may execute federal warrants within their states; otherwise, only the county sheriff is authorized to execute arrest warrants within their states.
Furthermore, the U.S. Congress needs to disarm the countless federal bureaucracies that are currently terrorizing the American people. In truth, very few federal agencies need to carry guns. The politicians in Washington, D.C., love to try to disarm the American people, but the ones they should be disarming are most of the federal alphabet agencies.
Why do employees of the federal Department of Education need to carry guns? Why do postal employees need to carry guns? Why do agents of the BLM need to carry guns? Why do employees at NASA need to carry guns? Why do employees of the EPA need to carry guns? Why do employees at NOAA need to carry guns? Why do employees of the National Weather Service need to carry guns? Why do employees of the Social Security Administration need to carry guns? Why do employees at the Department of Agriculture need to carry guns? Why do employees of the National Marine Fisheries Service need to carry guns?
Ladies and gentlemen, law enforcement is mostly the responsibility of State and local governments. Why are so many federal bureaucracies carrying guns? Agencies of the federal government are not soldiers; and they are not even policemen. Furthermore, the American people are not the enemy!
Pat Buchanan is right: had not BLM agents marched onto the Bundy ranch like Nazi Stormtroopers, none of the events that are still playing out in the Nevada desert would have taken place. The memory of Waco and Ruby Ridge are still very vivid in the collective memory of the people of the United States. If anything burns deep in our collective conscience, it is that THERE MUST NEVER AGAIN BE ANOTHER WACO OR RUBY RIDGE. And that is exactly why those Americans have put themselves between the federal government and the Bundy family down in Bunkerville, Nevada.
The events in Salt Lake City, Utah, conducted by dozens of legislators from the western states last Friday were as monumental as the events in Bunkerville, Nevada, conducted by the citizen militia the previous Saturday.
Free and independent states and “We the People” have always been the guardians of liberty in this land. And if freedom is going to be preserved for our posterity, it is going to take the combined effort of both the individual sovereign states and individual citizens to arise and stand in the gap once again. It would also seem that the rise has already begun. Praise God! The only thing missing now is the patriot pulpit.
P.S. I have been inundated with requests from pastors and laymen alike to help them establish non-501c3, unaffiliated, unorganized, unincorporated churches. I have heard their pleas; and I have a very important announcement regarding this matter coming in the very near future. Stay tuned.
If a famine befell us and you couldn’t save everyone, would you withhold the food you had and let every citizen starve rather than endure the inequality of just saving some? If recent history is any guide, certain leftists just might say yes.
A good example of this phenomenon involved a multiple sclerosis patient in Gothenburg, Sweden, who was denied a more effective and expensive medication — even though he was willing to pay for it — because, wrote columnist Walter Williams in 2009, “bureaucrats said it would set a bad precedent and lead to unequal access to medicine.” No wonder Winston Churchill said that socialism’s “inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”
And another example just reared its ugly head in Plymouth, Michigan, where the locality’s high school is tearing down newly constructed bleachers in deference to the equality police. MyFoxDetroit.com reports on the issue, writing:
A new set of seating is being torn down outside the Plymouth Wildcats varsity boys’ baseball field, not long before the season begins, because the fields for boys’ and girls’ athletics must be equal.
A group of parents raised money for a raised seating deck by the field, as it was hard to see the games through a chain-link fence. The parents even did the installation themselves, and also paid for a new scoreboard.
So what happened? Some unnamed malcontent lodged a complaint with the feral government, at which point U.S Education Department Office for Civil Rights overlords decreed that the seating must go. Ain’t equality grand?
Except that equality is simply a ruse. And think about it with respect to this issue: the principle is that facilities “for boys’ and girls’ athletics must be equal,” but are boys’ and girls’ athletics equal? The striking contradiction in these male/female sports equality controversies is that calls for “equality” are deferred to within the context of the acceptance and promotion of an inherently unequal system. That is to say, if equality is the guiding principle here, why have separate leagues, teams and tours — protected from the best competition — for girls and women?
The solution, whether it’s the Plymouth situation or calls for equal prize money in tennis, is simple. If a lightweight boxer wants the purses the heavyweights get, he needs to fight and succeed in the heavyweight class; likewise, if feminists want what the boys/men have, they should try to compete in their arena. And I do advocate this: eliminate separate categories for women, and let the sexes compete together on a level playing field. After all, to echo what Lincoln said about laws, the best way to eliminate bad social policy is to enforce it strictly. If you believe in equality, practice it.
And live with it.
And since the boys’ American high-school mile record is considerably faster than the women’s world record — and since this gap appears, with some variation, across sports — my proposal would provide some necessary “policy clarification.”
The education department’s decree is also an attack on charity. The message is that pursuing good works just might be a waste of time because, inevitably, they’ll conflict with some government regulation or mandate. It’s in addition a quasi-Marxist assault on the market. After all, the Plymouth community’s interest in building new baseball bleachers was no doubt driven by there being greater fan turnout for the boys’ games. And the market renders such verdicts all the time. It’s said that female fashion models earn three times what their male counterparts do, bars may offer women free drinks or entry without a cover charge, and no one troubles over women-only health clubs. It’s only when market determinations seem to benefit boys or men that the equality ruse is trotted out.
The truth is that equality dogma is a fiction of modern times. As for the timeless, the word “equality” appears in only 21 biblical verses, mostly referring to matters such as weights and measures. There’s good reason for this, and don’t blame it on the supposed “backwardness” of religion because a devout evolutionist would have to be the staunchest believer in hierarchies born of natural inequality. As G.K. Chesterton pointed out, “[I]f they [people] were not created equal, they were certainly evolved unequal.” Look around you at the world of nature and man, which, if the evolutionists are correct, are certainly one and the same. How much equality do you see? Rams butt heads, and one ram wins and the other loses; wolves have alphas and one male lion dominates and leads a pride. Then, there are 3.1 billion possible combinations when a couple has a child. And, oh, what combinations they can be. How many of us can play golf like Tiger Woods, defy gravity and shoot baskets like Michael Jordan or compose music at four years of age as did Mozart? People have greatly varying IQs, physical capabilities, personalities, inclinations toward virtue and gifts. Equality is a pipe dream.
This variation exists among groups, too. Ashkenazi Jews have the world’s highest average IQ, while Asians enjoy that status insofar as major groups go. And disease and conditions have no regard for equality, either: the Pima Indians have the highest rate of diabetes on Earth, breast cancer afflicts mainly women, the incidence of Tay-Sachs disease is highest among Jews, black men suffer from prostate cancer at twice the rate whites do, while sickle-cell anemia is found almost exclusively among blacks. I guess reality is “racist.”
Reality is actually this: it’s completely illogical and contradictory for a person to claim on one hand that he believes in classical, cosmic-accident evolution, but on the other that all groups somehow, quite accidentally, wound up the same in capacity, inclination and worldly abilities. After all, since evolution holds that groups lived and developed separately for millions of years — subject to different environments, stresses, adaptive requirements and to the luck of the draw — their winding up “equal” was, for all intents and purposes, a mathematical impossibility.
Earlier evolutionists recognized and accepted this reality, mind you, and in fact became eugenicists. Note here that the term “eugenics” was coined by Charles Darwin’s cousin Sir Francis Galton. Also note that the concept greatly predates the term: Greek philosopher Plato advocated murdering weak children, and the Spartans had actually done it.
This doesn’t mean I embrace eugenics or classical evolution (my views on the latter are found here). The point is that whether you believe we’re accidentally different or that, as St. Therese learned, there are even divinely ordained hierarchies in Heaven, equality is certainly not a thing of this world.
This helps explain why entities prescribing “equality” — such as the early French republic and all the Marxist killing-field regimes — become the worst tyrannies. Since equality is wholly unnatural, its mullahs must violate man’s nature, must trump it and twist it, in an effort to pound their sinister square peg into the round hole of reality. And woe betide he who defies their self-deified will.
Cries for equality are today the second-to-last refuge of a scoundrel (shouts of “racism” are the absolute last). Contrary to what Churchill said, however, they don’t actually visit upon us an equal sharing of misery. Rather, the pigs more equal than others will dispense the ever-diminishing pork to the peons, as they feed at the trough of modern man’s sloth, envy and error.
Syrian Regime Solidifies Recent Gains…
Damascus – Since around Valentine Day and aided by truly magnificent warm weather for this time of year, the dozens of parks in Damascus have been receiving unusually large numbers of visitors, not least of whom are Syrian soldiers on leave, enjoying the green space with girlfriends, families and friends. At the large garden with dozen of benches and sculptures, called Al-Manshia (Presidents Bridge) public park, and located between two five-star hotels, the Dama Rose and the 4-Seasons, some soldiers, presumably from out of town and with many appearing utterly exhausted, can be seen simply laying on the grass fast asleep under the warm healing sunshine.
Soldiers joke, laugh and seem pleased when citizens approach them to offer their thanks for the army’s service to the Syrian Arab Republic and to inquire about how things are going personally and if there is some help the citizen might offer the soldier. Such is the nature of Syrian nationalism and connection with Mother Syria that this observer has remarked about before and is strikingly rare from his experience. I love my country but frankly do not feel the pride and deep connection that Syrians appear to exhibit about their country’s 10,000 year history as the cradle of civilization. I would defend my country and fight for it if there were to be a legitimate war which frankly has not been the case in my lifetime.
Over the past 30 months of frequent visits to Damascus, the city has never appeared more ‘normal’ Last night this observers was up all night reading and there was not one bombing run or mortar or artillery fire to he heard, a first for more than two years. For many months, I used to avoid the historic Al-Hamidiyah Souk, the largest and the central souk in Syria located inside the old walled city of Damascus next to the Umayyad Mosque, despite its hundreds of interesting shops. The reason I tended to stay away was because I was one of very few people meandering among the warren of stalls and felt self-conscious when shopkeepers would plead with me to buy something-anything to help feed their families many of whom lived near the labyrinth.
Today, Al-Hamidiyah Souk, if not frequented with the numbers of shoppers and visitors as it was before March 2011, it is nonetheless very crowded such that foreigners can pass unnoticed…well, sometimes for at least the first hundred yards or so. In Damascene neighborhoods, no longer do citizens quickly disappear into their homes at the first sign of dusk but the streets and many cafes are crowded well past 9 p.m.
“Quo Vadis Syrie”, (‘where is Syria heading’) one Damascus University classics major, turned international law student, asked this visitor as we both sat on the steps of the Law Faculty while enjoying a bit of sun yesterday afternoon. “Is our crisis nearly over so we can start re-building Mother Syria or do our enemies have other plans to destroy us? I worry that today’s calm will soon disappear with an arriving hurricane.” His comment was perhaps triggered by a certain sense here and more widely elsewhere that a forming “coalition of the willing” appears to be pressing for a ‘humanitarian’ No Fly Zone. Some American allies envisage and are making plans to implement, a NFZ stretching up to 25 miles into Syria which would be enforced using aircraft flown from Jordanian bases and flying inside the kingdom, according to Congressional sources.
Any NFZ would be very different from what is currently being promoted and advertised by certain war-mongers in Washington, Tel Aviv and several European capitals as well as among elements of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the League of Arab States. Post Round Two of Geneva II, the White House and the usual “bomb the bastards” coterie in Congress and among the US Zionist lobby, are said to be re-thinking the idea of a No Fly Zone (NFZ) for Syria. It would be planned and executed with US and a yet to be specified, “Coalition of the willing” using aircraft now at the ready in Jordan and Turkey to begin with.
Ranking with the fake “non-lethal aid” concept, in terms of cynical deception (virtually all “non-lethal” aid is indeed lethal for its facilitates certain forces killing others including night goggles, telecommunication equipment, GPS equipment, salaries, fake IDs and much else), a limited, ‘humanitarian’ NFZ would almost certainly became a bomb anything/person that moves ‘turkey shoot’ as was the case in Libya in 2011 as was studied and witnessed first-hand by this an many other observers. What we observed in the then, but no more, Al Jamahiriya (state of the masses), was that the misnomer ‘limited humanitarian Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P) promoted by Obama Administration UN Ambassador Susan Rice for Libya and now by her predecessor Samatha Power for Syria, was that a NFZ means essentially an all-out war for regime change at all costs in terms of expendable lives and treasury.
The Libya experience, conceding many differences between the two countries and their governments and quality of each country’s military, may be prologue for Syria. Backed by a U.N. Security Council mandate, NATO charged into Libya citing its urgent “responsibility to protect” civilians threatened by claimed bloody rampages occurring across the country. Within days, we witnessed the ‘limited carefully vetted’ targets bank turn from a promoted ‘several dozen purely military targets” into more than 10,000 bomb runs using over 7,700 ‘precision guided bombs” and from the ground and what we learned during weeks in Libya by victims and eye-witnesses it seemed at times that the targets were basically anything that moved or looked like it might have a conceivable military purpose of some sort.
Human Rights Watch documented nearly 100 cases of civilians being bombed and killed as part of the R2P campaign. Other estimates are several times the HRW published figures. To this day Libyan civilians and demanding to know from NATO, “Why did you destroy my home and kill my family?” No answer has to date been provided to the Libyan victims’ families despite investigations that showed NATO pilots frequently disregarded instructions and “we essentially bombed at if we were playing video games” according to post-conflict contrite British airman.
Susan Rice, now Obama’s national security adviser, met with Saudi officials last week to discuss a NFZ and related strategy despite White House claims that it is still skeptical. Rice told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee late last month that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia are working together again on Syria policy after a year of occasional bitter disagreement.
Among those currently petitioning the Obama Administration for a NFZ, which would quickly devolve into thousands of bomb runs across Syria that would likely decimate its air force and tank corps are the so-called ‘rebels.’ They tend to agree with France that problems lay ahead for them given April’s fast approaching Presidential election, in which the incumbent President, Bashar Assad, is likely to seek and win re-election.
In addition, Israel, according to a Congressional source, has offered to help ‘behind the scenes” with airbases if needed and certain activities along the southern Syrian border with occupied Palestine. A majority of Arab League countries, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) plus Turkey, France, the UK and some members of the EU also support the NFZ idea. Saudi Arabia has already approved large quantities of Chinese man-portable air defense systems or Manpads as well as antitank guided missiles from Russia and more cash to help rebels oust the Assad regime, according to an Arab diplomat. Meanwhile, the US has upped its contribution to pay the salaries of preferred rebel fighters.
Ominously, the U.S. has already positioned Patriot air defense batteries and F-16 fighter aircraft in Jordan, which would be integral to any no-fly zone. The U.S. planes have air-to-air missiles that could destroy Syrian planes from long ranges. But officials have advised Congress that aircraft may be required to enter deep into Syrian air space if threatened by advancing Syrian planes. This could easily lead to all-out war with Syria and if Russia decides to provide advanced, long-range S-300 air defense weapons to Syria, it would make such a limited no-fly zone far more risky for U.S. pilots and it’s anyone’s guess what would happen next.
President Obama so far is keeping his own counsel as his Secretaries of Defense and State, current and former, and many other officials and politicians offer their advice for the White House ordering a NFZ. Hilary Clinton and General David Petraeus reportedly both favor a NFZ to ‘end this mess” in the words of the retired CIA Director.
To his great credit, Barack Obama appears so far to many on Capitol Hill to be reluctant to give formal approval to another NFZ as he was last summer when he resisted calls to launch a war against Syria as well as Congressional war-monger demands to go to war with Iran on behalf of the Netanyahu government. This week Mr. Obama acknowledged that diplomatic efforts to resolve the Syrian conflict are far from achieving their goals. “But the situation is fluid and we are continuing to explore every possible avenue including diplomacy.”
If President Obama extends his record of putting American interests first to three key decisions over the past six months, and if he sticks with diplomacy rather than launch all-out war with Syria, and potentially the allies of Damascus, via a NFZ, he just may be on his way to earning his prematurely awarded Nobel Prize.
Al Nebek, Syria – Who authored the seemingly designed-to-fail UN Security Council Draft Resolution on delivering urgent humanitarian aid into the Old City of Homs and other besieged areas of conflict-torn Syria? When we know this, much may become clearer with respect to the cynical politicization of the continuing civilian suffering.
The draft resolution was put forward by Australia, Luxembourg, and Jordan, and according to a UN/US congressional source—one who actually worked on rounding up the three countries to front for the US and its allies—none was pleased with the decidedly raw and undiplomatic pressure they received from the office of US UN Ambassador Samantha Power.
When this observer inquired how such a poorly drafted, one-sided, adversary-bashing draft resolution could actually have seen the light of day and been submitted to the UN Security Council, the reply he received was terse: “Ask Samantha.”
Suspicions are being raised in Geneva, in Syria, and among certain UN aid agencies, in Homs and elsewhere, that efforts on behalf of those they are trying to save from starvation were ‘set-up’ to fail as a result of power politics and influences emanating from Washington and Tel Aviv.
This observer is not a big fan of conspiracy theories. No doubt it’s a personal congenital defect of some sort that makes him want to hear at least a modicum of relevant, prohibitive, material, non-hearsay evidence to support some of the wilder and internet-fueled claims ricocheting around the globe. However, some things are becoming clear as to what happened at the UNSC last week and why certain specific language was included in the resolution.
Ms. Power, it has been claimed by two Hill staffers who monitor AIPAC, owes her position as UN Ambassador to Israeli PM Netanyahu, who views her and her husband, AIPAC fund raiser, Cass Sunstein, as Israel-first stalwarts. Congressional sources claim the White House went along with her appointment so as not to provoke yet another battle—either with AIPAC’s congressional agents or the wider US Zionist lobby. As part of her continuing gratitude for her “dream job,” as she told an American Jewish Committee convention on 2/10/14 in New York, Ms. Power assured the AJC that the United States “strongly supports Israel’s candidacy for a seat on the UN Security Council, and we have pushed relentlessly for the full inclusion of Israel across the UN system.” Ms. Power is said to have assured AIPAC officials in private that evening that “one of Israel’s few survival reeds may be to grasp, in the face of rising anti-Semitism, a seat on the council.” Insisting that “there is growing and rampant hostility towards Israel within the UN, where a large number of member states are not democratic,” Ms. Power, continued” “I will never give up and nor should you.”
Following the standing ovation from her adoring audience, she repeated, according to one eye witness: “We have also pushed relentlessly for the full inclusion of Israel across the UN system.” What the Zionist regime still occupying Palestine knows, as does no doubt Ms. Power, is that the American public and increasingly even the US Congress is finally pulling back from the regime in favor of justice for Palestine. Thus the lobby’s strange reasoning that the UN system, where the American public is essentially absent, is increasingly important.
So what’s the problem with the US-mission-spawned Security Council draft resolution on Syria so dutifully submitted by three chummy and faithful allies?
Well, for starters, the resolution is DOA, as presumably every sophomore poli-sci, civics, or governance student would have recognized from the outset. The aggressive language—demanding the UNSC immediately take action by targeting only one claimed violator with yet more international sanctions—would have caused chaff and cringing among many, probably most. But even beyond that, Moscow, with a UNSC veto ready to use, sees the US-initiated draft as a bid to lay the groundwork for military strikes against the Syrian government, interpreting the language as an ultimatum: that if all this isn’t solved in two weeks then the Security Council will automatically follow with sanctions against the Syrian government.
As Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov told the media on 2/10/14, “Instead of engaging in everyday, meticulous work to resolve problems that block deliveries of humanitarian aid, they see a new resolution as some kind of simplistic solution detached from reality.”
The draft text, obtained by this observer from Reuters, expresses the intent to impose sanctions—on individuals and entities obstructing aid—if certain demands are not met within the next two weeks.
“It is unacceptable to us in the form in which it is now being prepared, and we, of course, will not let it through,” said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov.
One diplomat in Syria, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s permanent representative to the UN, had told the Security Council on 2/11/14 that Moscow opposes some 30 percent of the original draft, but did not specify what which parts. He added, “We’re not aiming for a Russian veto, we’re aiming for a resolution that everybody can agree. That is what we want.”
For his part, President Obama, speaking at a joint news conference in Washington with French President Francois Hollande, kept up the pressure for the Security Council to accept the US resolution. He insisted that there is “great unanimity among most of the Security Council” in favor of the resolution and “Russia is a holdout.” Secretary of State John Kerry and others have “delivered a very direct message” pressuring the Russians to drop their opposition.
“It is not just the Syrians that are responsible” for the plight of civilians, but “the Russians as well if they are blocking this kind of resolution,” Kerry claimed. “How you can object to humanitarian corridors? Why would you prevent the vote of a resolution if, in good faith, it is all about saving human lives?”
Among international observers, the draft resolution is widely viewed as one-sided, condemning rights abuses by Syrian authorities, demanding Syrian forces stop all aerial bombardment of cities and towns as well as indiscriminate use of bombs, rockets and related weapons. It also, parenthetically and somewhat obliquely, condemns “increased terrorist attacks,” and calls for the withdrawal of all foreign fighters from Syria, but the latter language is believed to be aimed mainly at Hezbollah. Sources in Syria claim that the draft heaps all the blame on the Syrian government without devoting the necessary attention to the humanitarian problems created by the actions of the rebels.
These gratuitous draft elements are not only aggressive, but frankly appear calculated to end serious discussion and to undermine a solution of the problem.
Being new on the job is one thing for Ms. Power (she has served as UN ambassador only since August of last year), but politicizing relief from starvation for a besieged civilian population is quite another. Likewise for promoting a draft resolution focusing all blame on one side. Such things violate a broad range of applicable and mandatory international norms, and if Ms. Power is hazy on this subject, the State Department’s Office of International Organization Affairs is not—or at least was not when this observer interned there following law school years ago.
Language that would have stood a much better chance of ending the siege of Homs, Yarmouk and other areas under siege was drafted this week by a Syrian law student at the Damascus University Faculty of Law. The widely esteemed university witnessed the death of 17 of its students, along with the serious injuring of more than 20 others, when rebel mortar bombs, on 3/28/13, targeted the canteen of the College of Architecture. Those responsible for the shelling later admitted they were trained and armed by agents of the US government.
The DU law student’s draft resolution on unfettered humanitarian aid into besieged areas of Syria will hopefully be widely discussed over the weekend at a news conference tentatively scheduled on campus. Perhaps the next UN draft resolution will reflect the student’s homework assignment.
The starving victims besieged in Syria, and all people of goodwill, are demanding immediate, non-politicized humanitarian aid without further delay. Virtually every American voter is in a position to pressure his or her congressional representative, and would possibly achieve much good by making the White House aware of their demands to end playing international ‘gotcha’ politics, and to cooperate to end the needless deaths by starvation that continue today.
A trend is beginning among families with sick children: more and more are moving to Colorado to find a cannabis-based treatment that works wonders on seizure disorders. As more and more families find out about the cure, the company that manufactures it is struggling to keep up with the demand.
“We just have so much demand,” Jordan Stanley, one of the brothers who owns the Realm of Caring Foundation, told WBTV. “We need more space to keep growing these plants.”
The Stanley brothers founded the company when they succeeded in making a cannabis compound that was free of THC, the chemical that causes a “high” feeling in the user. The drug, called “Charlotte’s Web,” after the first child it worked on, only contains high anounts of therapeutic cannabidiol, or CBD.
The Realm of Caring headquarters, located in an innocuous cabin and greenhouses tucked away in the Colorado Rockies, gets about 500 calls a week from parents across America, according to Stanley. 150 children currently use the medicine.
The company is prudent about taking on patients.
“We won’t start a child on the medicine unless they’re approved as having other options not work,” said Stanley. “And unless we have enough medicine for them to last their entire lifetime. We don’t want to start a child, have this work, then have them depend on it and us run out of supply. That’s why we need to build. We need to have more so we can start more kids on what seems to be working.”
Liz Gorman, a mom from Charlotte, N.C, moved her family to Colorado in a last-ditch attempt to find a drug that would work for her 7-year-old daughter Maddie’s severe seizure disorder.
“She was going rapidly downhill when we moved,” Gorman told WBTV from her new home in Colorado Springs. “Things were getting worse by the week. We were at about 100 seizures a day. So to now see improvement — we can sometimes be at 10 a day — and improvement in cognition, it’s pretty impressive.”
Residents in states like Georgia and Tennessee have been lobbying lawmakers to pass legislation legalizing marijuana. Many are parents whose children are afflicted with similarly severe seizure disorders.
But state governments are reluctant to make the change, probably because “cannabis” has a bad rap.
“I think it’s about stigma,” Gorman said. “Having tried it now and having had to move across country to get it, I honestly feel this is ridiculous we can’t have it everywhere. Aside from the fact it comes from a cannabis plant, there’s nothing about it really that’s dangerous. Parents don’t need to be afraid that their children could get ahold of it and use it in an incorrect way.”
Source: Allison Geller | Opposing Views
U.N. mediator Lakhdar Brahimi wrapped up the first round of the “Geneva II” negotiations last Friday reporting little progress. No ceasefire was agreed, and talks on a transitional government never began. The next round is scheduled for February 10, but its prospects are dim. The opposing sides predictably blame each other for the stalemate, but in any event the talks were doomed to fail.
The first reason is John Kerry’s insistence—reasserted on the very first day of the meeting in Montreux, January 22—that Syria’s president can have no place in any future transition government. “We see only one option, negotiating a transition government born by mutual consent,” Kerry said. “That means that Bashar al-Assad will not be part of that transition government.”
Kerry’s position is absurd. No regime in history has negotiated its own demise, and the government of Syria is no exception. Any transition government “born by mutual consent” has to reflect the balance of forces on the ground. Therefore it will necessarily include Bashar, whose army has regained the initiative in the ongoing civil war. His forces control 13 out of 14 provincial capitals in the country and are steadily advancing in the rebel-held districts of Aleppo and Homs. In any event it is not up to the U.S. Secretary of State to decide who can or cannot be in charge in a faraway foreign land. Let it be recalled that his predecessor declared over two years ago that Assad’s regime was “dead man walking.”
It is possible that Kerry was serious when he declared that “there is no way, no way possible in the imagination, that the man who has led a brutal response to his own people can regain legitimacy to govern.” If so, then the U.S. policy will favor a drastic reversal of military fortunes on the ground—which may take years of hard fighting—rather than a negotiated settlement. This possibility is apparently supported by the secret Congressional approval of arms deliveries to “moderate” Syrian rebel factions. The definition of “moderate” has been stretched in Washington to the point where it includes hard-core jihadists, provided they are not affiliated to al-Qaeda. As if the Afghan blowback had never happened…
The second reason “Geneva II” had to fail is the lack of legitimacy of the rebel side. The opposition delegation, which was appointed by the self-styled “National Coalition,” was drawn from a narrow base of émigrés with minimal military clout. The men who came to Geneva have no authority over the large and powerful base of Islamist rebels. In December 2012 the anti-Assad group of foreign powers calling itself the “Friends of Syria” simply declared the Coalition to be the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, but it is nothing of the kind. The National Coalition’s minimal sway over fighters inside Syria means that its negotiators cannot guarantee that any deal reached in Switzerland would be implemented. The al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) are the most powerful anti-Assad groups, and their leaders would not have come to Geneva even if they had been invited. As the first round of talks ended on January 31, Russia insisted that the Syrian opposition delegation should be made more representative by including Bashar’s political opponents who have not resorted to arms. The Coalition is certain to reject this demand, thus further undermining its own credibility.
The third reason for the failure Geneva II is Iran’s exclusion from the talks. As a regional power deeply involved in the Syrian conflict, Iran should have been included—especially since Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Jordan—all of them staunchly anti-Assad—were represented, as well as a host of other countries. In fact Iran was belatedly invited to the conference by the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, and thendisinvited under American pressure. This was yet another sign that the Department of State is not interested in a negotiated settlement. As an Iranian analyst has noted, “the U.S. knows very well that if ever the day comes that Bashar al-Assad needs to go quietly, Iran is the only country capable of achieving that.” After the rebuff, Iran can now be expected to make sure it secures an even stronger hand in Syria—which will additionally strengthen Assad’s position.
John Kerry took charge of the State Department announcing his intention to change Assad’s “calculation” about his ability to hold on to power. A year later it is evident that Washington’s own calculations, rather than Assad’s, need to change. Syria’s president is stronger today than at any time since early 2012. The rebels are deeply divided, and hard-line jihadists—whether affiliated to al-Qaeda or not—are dominant among them. As an Aljazeera commentator noted on the first day of Geneva II, the fragmentation and radicalization of rebel fighting forces has been the opposition’s greatest weakness: “Had a unified political-military command emerged among the rebels in the first year of the uprising, at the height of optimism over the Arab Spring, the United States and Europeans might well have been persuaded to give direct military backing to the uprising. Today, such hopes have been dashed.” Infighting among rival rebel militias claimed over a thousand lives in January alone.
Six weeks ago, prompted by ex-CIA Director Michael Hayden’s blunt admission that Assad’s victory would be the least bad outcome in Syria, we argued in this column that Syria no longer exists as a single political entity and that its de facto partition should be condoned in preference to a zero-sum game in which neither side can hope to prevail. The U.S. policy should support this outcome, albeit behind a single-state façade. It is less risky for U.S. interests than arming some fictitious “moderate” rebels and insisting on preordained outcomes which Washington has neither the will nor the money to enforce.
In 1979, Iran shocked the world—and directly confronted America’s hegemonic ambitions in the Middle East — by charting its own revolutionary course toward participatory Islamist governance and foreign policy independence. Over the past thirty-five years the Islamic Republic of Iran has held dozens of presidential, parliamentary, and local council elections and attained impressive developmental outcomes—including more progressive results at alleviating poverty, delivering health care, providing educational access, and (yes) expanding opportunities for women than the last shah’s regime ever achieved. Furthermore, the Islamic Republic has done these things while withstanding significant regional challenges and mounting pressure from the United States and its allies. Below, Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett suggest that like 1979, 2014 is likely to be, in unique ways, another Year of Iran, when Tehran’s foreign policy strategy will either finally compel Western acceptance of Iran’s sovereign rights—especially to enrich uranium under international safeguards—or fundamentally delegitimise America’s already eroding pretensions to Middle Eastern hegemony.
Hassan Rohani’s election as Iran’s president seven months ago caught most of the West’s self-appointed Iran “experts” by (largely self-generated) surprise. Over the course of Iran’s month-long presidential campaign, methodologically-sound polls by the University of Tehran showed that a Rohani victory was increasingly likely. Yet Iran specialists at Washington’s leading think tanks continued erroneously insisting (as they had for months before the campaign formally commenced) that Iranians could not be polled like other populations and that there would be “a selection rather than an election,” engineered to install Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s “anointed” candidate—in most versions, former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili. On election day, as Iranian voters began casting their ballots, the Washington Post proclaimed that Rohani “will not be allowed to win”—a statement reflecting virtual consensus among American pundits.
Of course, this consensus was wrong—as have been most of the consensus judgments on Iran’s politics advanced by Western analysts since the country’s 1979 revolution. After Rohani’s victory, instead of admitting error, America’s foreign policy elite manufactured two explanations for it. One was that popular disaffection against the Islamic Republic—supposedly reflected in Iranians’ determination to elect the most change-minded candidate available to them—had exceeded even the capacity of Khamenei and his minions to suppress. This narrative, however, rests on agenda-driven and false assumptions about who Rohani is and how he won.
“The Islamic Republic aims to replace American hegemony with a more multi-polar distribution of power and influence. It seeks to achieve this by using international law and by leveraging participatory Islamist governance and foreign policy independence to accumulate real “soft power”.”
At sixty-five, Rohani is not out to fundamentally change the Islamic Republic he has worked nearly his entire adult life to build. The only cleric on the 2013 presidential ballot, Rohani belongs to Iran’s main conservative clerical association, not its reformist antipode. While he has become the standard bearer for the Islamic Republic’s “modern” (or “pragmatic”) right, with considerable support from the business community, his ties to Khamenei are also strong. After Rohani stepped down as secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council in 2005, Khamenei made Rohani his personal representative on the Council.
Backing Rohani was thus an unlikely way for Iranian voters to demand radical change, especially when an eminently plausible reformist was on the ballot—Mohammad Reza Aref, a Stanford Ph.D. in electrical engineering who served as one of reformist President Mohammad Khatami’s vice presidents. (Methodologically-sound polls showed that Aref’s support never exceeded single digits; he ultimately withdrew three days before Iranians voted.) The outcome, moreover, hardly constituted a landslide—not for Rohani and certainly not for reformism: Rohani won by just 261,251 votes over the 50-percent threshold for victory, and the parliament elected just one year before is dominated by conservatives.
The other explanation for Rohani’s success embraced by American elites cites it as proof that U.S.-instigated sanctions are finally “working”—that economic distress caused by sanctions drove Iranians to elect someone inclined to cut concessionary deals with the West. But the same polls that accurately predicted Rohani’s narrow win also show that sanctions had little to do with it. Iranians continue to blame the West, not their own government, for sanctions. And they do not want their leaders to compromise on what they see as their country’s sovereignty and national rights—rights manifest today in Iran’s pursuit of a civil nuclear program.
The Iranian Challenge
Iran’s presidential election and the smooth transfer of office to Rohani from term-limited incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stand out in today’s Middle East. Compared to Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Syria, and Tunisia, the Islamic Republic is actually living up to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s description of Iran as “an island of stability” in an increasingly unsettled region. And compared to some Gulf Arab monarchies, where perpetuation of (at least superficial) stability is purchased by ever increasing domestic expenditures, the Islamic Republic legitimates itself by delivering on the fundamental promise of the revolution that deposed the last shah thirty-five years ago: to replace Western-imposed monarchical rule with an indigenously generated political model integrating participatory politics and elections with principles and institutions of Islamic governance.
“Partnering with Tehran would require Washington and its friends in London and Paris to accept the Islamic Republic as the legitimate government of a fully sovereign state with legitimate interests.”
These strengths have enabled the Islamic Republic to withstand sustained regional and Western pressure, and to pursue a foreign policy strategy likely to reap big payoffs in 2014. This strategy aims to replace American hegemony, regionally and globally, with a more multi-polar distribution of power and influence. It seeks to achieve this by using international law and institutions, and by leveraging the Islamic Republic’s model of participatory Islamist governance, domestic development, and foreign policy independence to accumulate real “soft power”—not just with a majority of Iranians living inside their country, but (according to polls) with hundreds of millions of people across the Muslim world and beyond, from Brazil to China and South Africa. Such soft power was on display, for example, in the last year of Ahmadinejad’s presidency, when, during a trip to China, he won a standing ovation from a large audience at Peking University, where a representative sample of next-generation Chinese elites showed themselves deeply receptive to his call for a more equitable and representative international order.
In the current regional and international context, the West is increasingly challenged to come to terms with the Islamic Republic as an enduring entity representing legitimate national interests. In Tehran, the United States and its European allies could have a real partner in countering al-Qa’ida-style terrorism and extremism, in consolidating stable and representative political orders in Syria and other Middle Eastern trouble spots, and in resolving the nuclear issue in a way that sets the stage for moving toward an actual WMD-free zone in the region. But partnering with Tehran would require Washington and its friends in London and Paris to accept the Islamic Republic as the legitimate government of a fully sovereign state with legitimate interests—something that Western powers have refused to accord to any Iranian government for two centuries.
President Obama’s highly public failure to muster political support for military strikes against the Assad government following the use of chemical weapons in Syria on August 21, 2013 has effectively undercut the credibility of U.S. threats to use force against Iran. On November 24, 2013, this compelled an American administration, for the first time since the January 1981 Algiers Accords that ended the embassy hostage crisis, to reach a major international agreement with Tehran—the interim nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1—largely on Iranian terms. (For example, the interim nuclear deal effectively negates Western demands—long rejected by Tehran but now enshrined in seven UN Security Council resolutions—that Iran suspend all activities related to uranium enrichment).
But recent Western recognition of reality is still partial and highly tentative. The United States and its British and French allies continue to deny that Iran has a right to enrich uranium under international safeguards. They also demand that, as part of a final deal, Tehran must shut down its protected enrichment site at Fordo, terminate its work on a new research reactor at Arak, and allow Western powers to micromanage the future development of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. Such positions are at odds with the language of the interim nuclear deal and of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). They are also as hubristically delusional as the British government’s use of the Royal Navy to seize tankers carrying Iranian oil on the high seas after a democratically-elected Iranian government nationalised the British oil concession in Iran in 1951—and as London’s continued threat to do so even after the World Court ruled against Britain in the matter.
If Western powers can realign their positions with reality on the nuclear issue and on various regional challenges in the Middle East, Iran can certainly work with that. But Iranian strategy takes seriously the real prospect that Western powers may not be capable of negotiating a nuclear settlement grounded in the NPT and respectful of the Islamic Republic’s legal rights—just as Britain and the United States were unwilling to respect Iran’s sovereignty over its own natural resources in the early 1950s. Under such circumstances, more U.S.-instigated secondary sanctions that illegally threaten third countries doing business with Iran will not compel Tehran to surrender its civil nuclear program. Rather, Iran’s approach—including a willingness to conclude what the rest of the world other than America, Britain, France, and Israel would consider a reasonable nuclear deal—seeks to make it easier for countries to rebuild and expand economic ties to the Islamic Republic even if Washington does not lift its own unilaterally-imposed sanctions.
“Continuing hostility toward the Islamic Republic exacerbates America’s inability to deal with popular demands for participatory Islamist governance elsewhere in the Middle East.”
Likewise, Iranian strategy takes seriously the real prospect that Washington cannot disenthrall itself from Obama’s foolish declaration in August 2011 that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must go—and therefore that America cannot contribute constructively to the quest for a political settlement to the Syrian conflict. If the United States, Britain, and France continue down their current counter-productive path in Syria, Tehran can play off their accumulating policy failures and the deepening illegitimacy of America’s regional posture to advance the Islamic Republic’s strategic position.
How Will the West Respond?
Coming to terms with the Islamic Republic will require the United States to abandon its already eroding pretensions to hegemony in the Middle East. But, if Washington does not come to terms with the Islamic Republic, it will ultimately be forced to surrender those pretensions, as it was publicly and humiliatingly forced to do in 1979. Moreover, continuing hostility toward the Islamic Republic exacerbates America’s inability to deal with popular demands for participatory Islamist governance elsewhere in the Middle East. Less than a month after Rohani’s election, it was widely perceived that the United States tacitly supported a military coup that deposed Egypt’s first democratically elected (and Islamist) government. The coup in Egypt hardly obviates the fact that, when given the chance, majorities in Middle Eastern Muslim societies reject Western intervention and choose to construct participatory Islamist orders. Refusing to accept this reality will only accelerate the erosion of U.S. influence in the region.
The United States is not the first imperial power in decline whose foreign policy debate has become increasingly detached from reality—and history suggests that the consequences of such delusion are usually severe. The time for American elites to wake up to Middle Eastern realities before the United States and its Western allies face severe consequences for their strategic position in this vital part of the world is running out.
About the Authors
Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett are authors of Going to Tehran: America Must Accept the Islamic Republic of Iran (New York: Metropolitan, 2013), which has just been released in paperback, with a new Afterword. They had distinguished careers in the U.S. government before leaving their positions on the National Security Council in March 2003, in disagreement with Middle East policy and the conduct of the war on terror. They teach international relations, he at Penn State, she at American University.
Source: The World Financial Review
Damascus – As a new workweek begins here is Damascus many citizens across a fairly broad spectrum appear to be backing, and even exhibiting a kind of pride for their diplomatic team at the Geneva II conference. It might appear flippant for this observer to suggest that returning to Damascus after recent events in his neighborhood of Haret Hriek in Dahiyeh, South Beirut sort of feels like one has arrived in a peaceful holiday local rather stress free, but others have told me the same thing once they crossover from Lebanon. Damascus is currently the most quiet and ‘normal’ appearing that I have found this historic city for more than two years.
Damascenes to a person it appears, despite differing political views, are hoping for breakthroughs that just might bring an end to the carnage that has left virtually no one unaffected and has driven 9.5 million people from their homes, killed close to 140,000 and with more than 18,000 missing. These and many more tragedies creating a major humanitarian crisis both within Syria and among this birth place of civilization’s neighbors.
At the Set al Cham (Grandmother of Damascus) a home style cooking small restaurant around the corner from the Dama Rose hotel, close to where a rocket hit 30 yards outside the front entrance of the five star hotel last week and ignited half a dozen cars and shattered windows in this ‘security zone’, there are currently animated conversations about the Geneva II conference. They focus on the prospects for a ceasefire which all here apparently agree is the first essential step to ending the carnage ravaging this country for the past three years. The apparent imminent release of women and children from the more than 500 families who have for many months been trapped in the old city of Homs, Syria’s third largest city, has created some inchoate hope. According to UN Mediator, Lakhdar Brahimi , men also will be allowed to leave once their names are vetted to screen ‘terrorists’ from slipping out, a common security measure around this region during siege lifts and mass evacuations. The population allowed to exit Homs will be received immediately by volunteers from the courageous and deeply humanitarian Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society (SARCS) and other humanitarian organizations that have stockpiled a range of urgently required necessities close by. As in the case with Yarmouk Palestinian camp in south Damascus, itself still under tight siege this evening with snipers on rooftops scanning the streets and alleys below through their gun sites seeking targets, baby formula is one of the foodstuff items most in demand and urgently needed in order save infant lives since their starving mothers generally are no longer able to produce milk.
With respect to Yarmouk camp, which if of grave concern here in Syria as it is internationally, this observer had an informative three hour meeting today at UNWRA HQ on Mezzeh Autostrda with Chief Field Education Program Director, Mohammad Ammouri, and Abdullah Al Laham, Deputy Director of UNWRA in Syria. These gentlemen, Mr. Ammouri from Tantura village near Haifa, and Mr. Al Laham, from Bethlehem Occupied Palestine, devote their full schedules these days trying to get aid into Yarmouk, and to bring those under siege out. Both gentlemen gave this observer some reason to believe that finally an agreement, after more than half a dozen failed ones, might just stick tonight so that tomorrow UNWRA trucks, waiting nearby with more than 40,000 aid parcels can finally enter. Each aid box, contains rice, sugar, flour, dried milk, cooking oil and other basics and are designed to feed a family of five for two weeks (families up to eight in number will get one and one-half UNWRA boxes every two weeks) can finally enter. Syrians trapped in Yarmouk, who number more than 2000, will also receive the emergency parcels from UNWRA no questions asked. Mr. Al Laham raised his eyebrow a bit and did a sort of double-take when this observer asked him if like SARCS, UNWRA distributed the well-known World Food Program (WFP) or International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) or OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) family aid parcels. “No! No. My dear. You see, we at UNWRA have our own aid parcels, in fact ours are bigger and better” he quickly exclaimed and then smiled a bit sheepishly.
Three days ago UNWRA believed they would finally be allowed to enter Yarmouk with aid but at it turned out only about 3% of the aid parcels they were trying to deliver to the more than 18,000 starving Palestinian refugees and Syrians still trapped was able to be distributed because all aid is still being blocked by various militia who themselves appear to be rather well fed, financed, and armed. We should know by tomorrow (1/28/14) if substantial aid will be allowed into Yarmouk and whether dying residents can be evacuated. UNWRA literally has the engines of its trucks idling nearby tonight and ready to move into the besieged camp on less than a minutes notice if they get a green light, this observer has just been advised.
One senses in Damascus that much of the population believes that what is happening at Geneva, are admittedly “half-steps” to use UN envoy Brahimi’s description for the progress so far in the desperate effort to save Syria, just might result in a breakthrough of sorts and then move toward a cease-fire and the opening up of humanitarian aid corridors. A few hours ago, Syrian delegation member Dr. Bouthania Shaaban commented that today’s talks had been ‘professional’. This is a modest achievement even though both sides speak only to Envoy Brahimi and tend to avoid eye contact with their “negotiating partners” while entering and exiting the meeting room from doors at opposite ends.
Syria’s delegation in Geneva is led by a seasoned, smart, deeply knowledgeable formidable delegation that includes the power-house Foreign Minister Walid Muallum, a former Syrian Ambassador to Washington who has a reputation in the West and here as wily, profoundly intelligent, tough at times and no-nonsense. “If no serious work sessions are held by [Saturday], the official Syrian delegation will leave Geneva due to the other side’s lack of seriousness or preparedness,” state television quoted Muallum as telling UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi last Friday. Mr. Muallum is credited with brokering the deal with by Russia to remove Syria’s chemical weapons enabling the Assad regime to present his government as a partner in the project and thus to strengthen its claim to legitimacy.
Another delegation member is Syria’s Minister of Information Omran al- Zoubi. Mr al-Zoubi has been indefatigable these past many months and is well known to the international media for his personal warmth and direct talk and incisive articulations of his government’s interpretations of the crisis. During literally hundreds of media interviews Mr. Zoubi has earned a reputation internationally and in Syria as being an insightful political analyst and a skilled lawyer, who does not mince or sugar his words but who is respectful of his audience. From Derra next to the Jordanian where the crisis began and a Sunni Muslim, the Ministers commented late this afternoon that “We will stay here until we do the job. We will not be provoked. We will not retreat and we will be wise and flexible.” And he added, anyone at Geneva II expecting the President’s removal was living “in a mythical world, and let them stay in Alice in Wonderland.”
Syrian delegation member and FM Muallum’s Deputy, Feisal Mdkdad, was described to this observer by one of his colleagues today as a deeply knowledgeable, unflappable career diplomat with deep knowledge of foreign policy issues facing Syria. Mr Makdad explained at Geneva today that his administration has been trying to send essential supplies to help beleaguered residents but not as much as they would have liked had got through, for two reasons: “The armed groups had kept firing at those who tried to take in aid and the weather has not been conducive to making the movement.” He pledges that his government will persevere. He also insisted that “we don’t hold any children prisoners at all. We categorically deny that.” He claimed that the list supplied by the opposition was full of errors. “I have studied this list; 60 to 70 per cent of the names are not in prison, 20 per cent have already been freed. About the rest, we don’t know anything.”
In one sense, Syria’s diplomatic team in Geneva is anchored by Professor Bouthaina Shaaban who is Political and Media Adviser to Syrian President Assad. Syria’s former Minister of Expatriates, she is also a mother and recently a grandmother, writer and professor at Damascus University and earned her Ph.D. in English Literature from Warwick University in the UK. Dr. Shaaban was Hafez al Assad’s personal interpreter, is well known internationally and has studied and taught in the USA and earned her Doctorate at Warwick University in the UK. She has authorized several well received books including her latest volume on Syrian diplomacy. Many media critics concede that, as the New York Times wrote, that she is stellar when explaining Syrian governments views on foreign policy. Dr. Shaaban is the most sought after delegation member from either side for interviews partly because of her quality of humanizing the conflict and her obvious love of country and dedication to stopping the carnage while possessing a quality of connecting with interlocutors emotionally and intellectually.
It would not be shocking were the Syrian delegation were to feel a bit on the defensive given the lineup of those who want them to falter, but there is so far little sign that the Syrian delegation is exuding a temerity at all similar to the defense team in The Hague trying to hold its own before the Special Tribunal on Lebanon (STL). Rather it acknowledges that it has come to represent Syria and to struggle through a cumbersome, slow diplomacy to achieve a cease-fire, open corridors of humanitarian aid, participate in prisoner’s exchanges with various militia, hold a presidential election in the spring, and begin reconstruction of the massive war damage.
We will likely learn soon if Syria and indeed can work through a myriad of opposing deeply antagonistic negotiating adversaries to achieve a sustainable cease-fire, reconciliation, and reconstruction. Its long suffering population demand and deserve no less.
On Wednesday, January 15, 2014, the highly anticipated Senate Intelligence Committee report on the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attacks that killed four Americans was released. The primary investigative report, including redactions, consists of 42 pages with an additional 16 pages of appendices and another 25 pages of additional “majority views.” While the report validates much of what I’ve written well in advance of media reports, it also appears to be deliberately deficient in a number of critical areas.
The report acknowledges that there were no protests over an obscure internet video at this facility in Benghazi, which was neither an embassy nor a consulate. As I initially exposed, the report confirms on page seven that the Benghazi facility was an undercover CIA compound. It was only somewhat known to be a U.S. asset in the region, but had no U.S. flag flying anywhere on the property, and did not serve any diplomatic operational function as would an embassy or consulate. Therefore, no one “in the know” could reasonably believe or even suspect that this location would be the site of any protests about an obscure internet video. Yet, the deliberate mischaracterization of not only the site of the attacks, but the reason behind them, continued to be shamelessly peddled by the politicians and media alike. It was not only a lie, but a contemptible lie.
The critical issue of the actual function that CIA compound served remains the “third rail” of our elected leaders and their obedient media. The report focuses on accountability for the lack of security and later, the lack of response to a critical incident. However, it fails to address that the U.S., under the direction of Barack Hussein Obama in the Executive branch, and Hillary Rodham Clinton as the Secretary of State, were spearheading a weapons running operation to arm the anti-Assad factions in Syria by way of Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. As I detailed on November 5, 2012, reasonable estimates suggest that between 30-40 million pounds of missiles, guns and even chemical weapons (gas) had been confiscated in Libya and shipped to various prepositioning locations in Turkey and directly into Syria for use by anti-Assad “rebels.”
The function of this compound was far different than the legitimate function of the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli. The compound in Benghazi served as a logistics hub to arrange the crisscrossing supply lines of Gadaffi’s weapons, under the control of Muslim Brotherhood factions, to the Libyan port city of Dernah, the chokepoint of the arsenals. This was appropriately named the “Ho Chi Minh Trail of Muslim Brotherhood supply lines” as referenced in an October 5, 2012 article by Michael Reagan titled “Building on a kernel of truth.” Despite this exposure, senate and congressional investigators, whose job it is to uncover the truth, still don’t seem willing to ask the correct questions. Why?
While the political pundits and the corporate media will continue to shamelessly play political football with not only the bodies of four dead Americans, but with the future of all Americans and everyone in the West, Obama and his operational staff of globalists will continue to advance the U.S., and the world, on a certain course that will take us headlong into World War III. By not addressing the core issues of the larger agenda, the attention of the American people continues to be held captive by a single act of a larger play. As I’ve written before, the lies are much bigger.
As I have consistently maintained, the attacks in Benghazi were proxy attacks at a nation-state level in response to our arming the anti-Assad terror organizations. They were not the result of an angry protest over an Internet video, although understanding how that video was used provides insight into the role of the CIA and certain other key players in the cover-up. You will find that the video is directly tied to a CIA operation that was to be used as cover at an appropriate moment.
They were also not the result of some false flag operation with plans to kidnap an American ambassador to swap him for the blind sheikh, although kidnapping did played a role in the attacks as I previously detailed. The kidnapping to which I refer, of course, is related to the abduction of seven Iranian-citizen ICRC workers in Benghazi on July 31, 2012. At least that incident earned a footnote in the Senate report. The curiosity regarding the number of attacks on September 11, 2012, combined with the withholding of heavy artillery suggests that the attackers were looking to rescue their compatriots that were held captive until their mysterious release after the attacks.
Even as the merits of this report are debated in the fictional right-left paradigm and the captive press, the agenda for which this CIA compound served continues. The glee shown by former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in October 2011 when she laughed about the murder of Gaddafi and the destabilization of Libya will likely be absent when Assad falls. Syria remains the target of this game of Risk among the globalists.
The recent actions of new Secretary of State John Kerry are as insidious as his predecessor’s, although perhaps not as overt or easily identifiable in this hall of mirrors of Middle East politics. By stating that the U.S. would not militarily intervene in the take-over by al Qaeda and related terror groups of the Al Anbar Province of Iraq, where many Americans died for the ostensible cause of freedom for the Iraqi people, he has given them a green light to open another front against Syria. The opening a front to the southeast of Syria via Iraq is actually one of many contingency plans, as blaming the use of chemical weapons on Assad did not work as planned as enough people saw that for what it was.
As I have written many times, the goal has always been Syria. Now, if someone thinks that the Russians, Iranians and Syrians are going to be fooled about who’s actually behind this proxy eastern front being opened up against Assad, I’d like to ask now, a year-and-a-half later, do you think they were ever fooled about who was behind the arms running operation out of Benghazi and eastern Libya where this all started? No and HELL NO. This latest front, just as the first and now failed fronts in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, is all about plausible deniability, or PD as it’s known in the tradecraft. It’s the magic act where sleight of hand and deception rule the day in “the hall of mirrors” that is Mideast politics, a reference again to the aforementioned article written by Michael Reagan.
Syria will not implode and it will not succumb to some rag-tag army of militants. The anti-Assad operation needs Western and external assistance. Putin is aware of our machinations, as are other leaders. So, when all of this comes unraveled, and it will, look for it to explode eastward into Saudi Arabia, into the Arab sea, north into Iran and all the way to the Strait of Hormuz. And when, not if it does, that attack will not just damage shipping and the free flow of oil into Western markets, it will crush the dollar and with it the hopes and dreams not just of the U.S., but western civilization itself.
If you continue to sleep now America, sleep well. Because when you do wake up, it just might be a long while before you sleep well again. The prematurely darkening sky you see is not just the announcement of evening in America. Those are blustering storm clouds, and the claps of thunder will be along shortly. And they will most likely be hard to miss.
Source: Douglas J. Hagmann