Archive for the ‘middle east’ Category

Trump has to choose a strategy.

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

There has been a huge uproar over President Trump’s Executive order to limit immigration from seven Middle East countries that are in turmoil. A Seattle federal district judge issued a restraining order to block the immigration “pause.”

The result is widely hailed by Democrats and the usual open borders advocates.

Still, there is some trepidation about the Democrats’ vulnerability on this issue.

Democratic arguments about immigration mostly aren’t arguments. The party has relied on opposing Trump’s more outrageously exaggerated claims about the criminality and all-around character flaws of immigrants. That’s fine, as far as it goes — but as November showed, it doesn’t go far enough.

The core problem is that Democrats didn’t really make an affirmative argument for an overhaul to U.S. immigration policy that might appeal to voters. Instead, they talked a lot about what great people immigrants are, and how much they benefit from migration. Unfortunately, the clearest group of beneficiaries from this policy — people who want to migrate, but haven’t yet gotten a green card — can’t vote.

Most of this is, like the British Labour Party, an attempt the replace one voting group with another.

However, aside from the implications for employment for American citizens, there is the question of terrorism.

We are conducting a war with radical Islam in the Middle East.

How do we fight that war ?

One of the problems facing the Trump administration is the lack of an overall strategy to defeat radical Islamism. The one left over from the Obama administration consists of a schizophrenic blend of attempting to solve “root causes” incongruously combined with a program of targeted assassination. “The U.S. dropped an average of three bombs an hour in 2016 — a total of 26,171 explosive devices dropped in seven countries in the past year” according to a report published at the close of President Barack Obama’s second term, not counting thousands of air strikes which went unreported according to the Military Times. This vast campaign of targeted aerial assassination was accompanied by what the Nation called “the secret nation-building boom of the Obama years”. By 2014 Obama had doubled “nation-building spending from $24.3 billion to $51.3 billion”.

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What are George Soros motives?

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

George Soros is a Hungarian born billionaire who seems to be funding a lot of malicious mischief around the world. Why ?

Soros was born in Hungary in 1930.

That Wiki article is very favorable to Soros and does not mention a few things.

There is considerable discussion of Soros’ role under the Nazis.

It has been alleged that he was a collaborator. Apparently, he did admit doing some things that could be criticized although the role of a 14 year old is pretty weak.

It was a tremendous threat of evil. I mean, it was a — a very personal experience of evil.

KROFT: My understanding is that you went out with this [Christian] protector of yours who swore that you were his adopted godson.

Mr. SOROS: Yes. Yes.

KROFT: Went out, in fact, and helped in the confiscation of property from the Jews.

Mr. SOROS: Yes. That’s right. Yes.

KROFT: I mean, that’s — that sounds like an experience that would send lots of people to the psychiatric couch for many, many years. Was it difficult?

Mr. SOROS: Not — not at all. Not at all. Maybe as a child you don’t — you don’t see the connection. But it was — it created no — no problem at all.

KROFT: No feeling of guilt?

Mr. SOROS: No.

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The Turkish Coup Attempt

Sunday, July 17th, 2016

The attempted coup d’etat in Turkey has failed and the repercussions will follow.

Edward Luttwak has an important column on why it happened and why it failed.

The failure was so sudden and the coup was so poorly organized that some have questioned whether it was a false flag operation.

A US-based Turkish cleric accused of plotting a coup to overthrow the Ankara government has claimed President Recep Erdogan staged the rebellion himself to justify a major clampdown on opposition forces.
Fethullah Gulen, who was a former key ally of Erdogan has been blamed by the politician of using his contacts to develop a ‘parallel structure’ to overthrow the state.
Erdogan has called on US President Barack Obama to extradite Gulen, who is based in Pennsylvania.

Erdogan has requested the US turn over the imam who has been living in Pennsylvania. Why ?

Luttwak has a pretty good explanation.

The country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was left free to call out his followers to resist the attempted military coup, first by iPhone and then in something resembling a televised press conference at Istanbul’s airport. It was richly ironic that he was speaking under the official portrait of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of Turkey’s modern secular state, because Erdogan’s overriding aim since entering politics has been to replace it with an Islamic republic by measures across the board: from closing secular high schools so as to drive pupils into Islamic schools to creeping alcohol prohibitions to a frenzied program of mosque-building everywhere — including major ex-church museums and university campuses, where, until recently, headscarves were prohibited.

When we were in Istanbul ten years ago, Hagia Sophia, the original Christian church that has been converted to a mosque after Constantinople fell to the Turks in 1453, was being converted to a museum.

INSIDEHAGIASOPHIA2

The huge panels of calligraphy were being removed and, beneath the panels, the workmen were finding that the previous workmen in 1453 had carefully preserved the mosaics being covered, possibly anticipating the city would be retaken by the Byzantines.

Mosaic at entrance

Few of the mosaics survived but a few could be seen. That one is above a door into the church.

Will the restoration continue under Erdogan ? I wonder. I also wonder how many tourists there will be to see it if it continues.

More from Luttwak.

Erdogan has been doing everything possible to dismantle Turkey’s fragile democracy: from ordering the arrest of journalists who criticized him, including the outright seizure and closure of the country’s largest newspaper, Zaman, to the very exercise of presidential power, since Turkey is not a presidential republic like the United States or France, but rather a parliamentary republic like Germany or Italy, with a mostly ceremonial president and the real power left to the prime minister. Unable to change the constitution because his Justice and Development Party (AKP) does not have enough votes in parliament, Erdogan instead installed the slavishly obedient (and mustachioed) Binali Yildirim as prime minister — his predecessor, Ahmet Davutoglu, had been very loyal, but not quite a slave — and further subverted the constitutional order by convening cabinet meetings under his own chairmanship in his new 1,000-room palace: a multibillion-dollar, 3.2 million-square-foot monstrosity (the White House is approximately 55,000 square feet), which was built without authorized funding or legal permits in a nature reserve.

I think Turkey is lost to the West and modern civilization. I saw those angry young men when we were entering mosques, like the Blue Mosque, where they kept angry and careful watch to see that we took off shoes and women wore head scarves. Now, they are running the country,

What is going on in Syria ?

Saturday, May 7th, 2016

Rhodes

Our feckless president has been lecturing the US public about various topics he considers important but what has actually been going on ? We do know that a Navy SEAL named Charles Keating was killed in Iraq.

(CNN)When a team of less than a dozen U.S. military advisers came under attack in Iraq Tuesday from more than 100 ISIS fighters, Navy SEAL Charles Keating IV was part of the force sent in to rescue them.

All the advisers made it back. Keating, a decorated combat veteran and star athlete who decided to enlist after the 9/11 attacks, did not.
Providing new details Wednesday about the operation that took the life of the grandson of prominent financier and World War II pilot Charles Keating Jr., Coalition spokesman Col. Steve Warren said that the clash between ISIS and the Kurdish Peshmerga forces the advisers were assisting was “a big fight, one of the largest we’ve seen recently.”

That’s Iraq, where Obama pulled out all US forces but is now sneaking a few back in, hoping no one notices.

In Iran, Obama’s foreign policy “advisor” named Ben Rhodes, admits it was all a lie.

“I immediately developed this idea that, you know, maybe I want to try to write about international affairs,” he explained. “In retrospect, I had no idea what that meant.” His mother’s closest friend growing up ran the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which then published Foreign Policy. He sent her a letter and included what would wind up being his only piece of published fiction, a short story that appeared in The Beloit Fiction Journal. It was titled “The Goldfish Smiles, You Smile Back.” The story still haunts him, he says, because “it foreshadowed my entire life.”

From writing short stories, Rhodes now writes fiction as national policy.

Rhodes strategized and ran the successful Iran-deal messaging campaign, helped negotiate the opening of American relations with Cuba after a hiatus of more than 50 years and has been a co-writer of all of Obama’s major foreign-policy speeches. “Every day he does 12 jobs, and he does them better than the other people who have those jobs,” Terry Szuplat, the longest-tenured member of the National Security Council speechwriting corps, told me. On the largest and smallest questions alike, the voice in which America speaks to the world is that of Ben Rhodes.

Is the policy that Rhodes writes working ? Better not to know.

Iran has been supporting Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. They have spent a lot of money and lives defending him against his people and the Russians. How is that working out ?

The Russians are back in Palmyra, which the ISIS types tried to destroy.

The orchestra played pieces by Johan Sebastian Bach and two Russian composers, Sergei Prokofiev and Rodion Shchedrin, in a second-century Roman amphitheater, the set for a 2015 film produced by the Islamic State that featured the execution of 25 people.

The contrast was intended to underscore what Russia sees as its underappreciated role in helping Syrian forces liberate Palmyra from zealots and fighting on the side of civilization against barbarism.

The Russians were so eager to make that point that they flew a group of reporters from Moscow to Syria and then bused them to Palmyra to see the performance. The production, attended by a heavily guarded V.I.P. guest list, was broadcast live on Russian state television.

Does Obama know about this ? Probably not. Ash Carter seems to be running foreign policy these days.

Rhodes’s opinions were helpful in shaping the group’s [Iraq Study Group] conclusions — a scathing indictment of the policy makers responsible for invading Iraq. For Rhodes, who wrote much of the I.S.G. report, the Iraq war was proof, in black and white, not of the complexity of international affairs or the many perils attendant on political decision-making but of the fact that the decision-makers were morons.

One result of this experience was that when Rhodes joined the Obama campaign in 2007, he arguably knew more about the Iraq war than the candidate himself, or any of his advisers. He had also developed a healthy contempt for the American foreign-policy establishment, including editors and reporters at The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker and elsewhere, who at first applauded the Iraq war and then sought to pin all the blame on Bush and his merry band of neocons when it quickly turned sour. If anything, that anger has grown fiercer during Rhodes’s time in the White House. He referred to the American foreign-policy establishment as the Blob.

How is Iran, Obama and Rhodes ally, doing ?

They seem to be having trouble as they are recruiting child soldiers, as they did in the Iraq-Iran War.

Iran’s regime has done this before. During the Iran-Iraq War, which killed around a million people between 1980 and 1988, the Basij recruited thousands of children to clear minefields.

After lengthy cult-like brainwashing sessions, the poor kids placed plastic keys around their necks, symbolizing martyrs’ permission to enter paradise, and ran ahead of Iranian ground troops and tanks to remove Iraqi mines by detonating them with their feet and blowing their small bodies to pieces.

Children have been fighting in wars as long as there have been wars, but shoving them into the meat grinder in the 21st century is a war crime expressly prohibited and sometimes even punished by all civilized governments. The International Criminal Court in The Hague, for instance, convicted Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga Dyilo of war crimes in 2012 for “conscripting and enlisting children under the age of fifteen years and using them to participate actively in hostilities.”

The Basij is a paramilitary branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, or Pasdaran, and it’s commanded by the iron-fisted head of state, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. It’s mostly used for internal repression and provided many of the shock troops who brutally suppressed non-violent demonstrations during the Green Revolution in 2009.

Why are they now going back to the tactics of 1988?

“Second,” he continued, “the war in Syria and keeping the dictator Bashar Assad in power is so crucial for the Iranian regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei that he is willing to pay any price for this objective. In February in a meeting with the families of the regime’s forces who were killed in Syria, Khamenei said that if we did not fight in Syria, we would have had to fight with our opposition in major Iranian cities. Resorting to the tactic of mobilizing teenagers only leads to one conclusion, the mullahs are facing a deadly impasse in Syria.

So, the Russians seem to be winning and the Iranians are losing and who does Obama ally with ?

Rhodes’s innovative campaign to sell the Iran deal is likely to be a model for how future administrations explain foreign policy to Congress and the public. The way in which most Americans have heard the story of the Iran deal presented — that the Obama administration began seriously engaging with Iranian officials in 2013 in order to take advantage of a new political reality in Iran, which came about because of elections that brought moderates to power in that country — was largely manufactured for the purpose for selling the deal. Even where the particulars of that story are true, the implications that readers and viewers are encouraged to take away from those particulars are often misleading or false. Obama’s closest advisers always understood him to be eager to do a deal with Iran as far back as 2012, and even since the beginning of his presidency. “It’s the center of the arc,” Rhodes explained to me two days after the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was implemented.

And some people think Trump will be a foreign policy disaster.

What I saw at the Revolution.

Monday, March 21st, 2016

Zulu Dawn

News from the front today. First, Glenn Reynolds explains where Trump came from.

The thing is, we had that movement. It was the Tea Party movement. Unlike Brooks, I actually ventured out to “intermingle” with Tea Partiers at various events that I covered for PJTV.com, contributing commentary to the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Examiner. As I reported from one event in Nashville, “Pundits claim the tea partiers are angry — and they are — but the most striking thing about the atmosphere in Nashville was how cheerful everyone seemed to be. I spoke with dozens of people, and the responses were surprisingly similar. Hardly any had ever been involved in politics before. Having gotten started, they were finding it to be not just worthwhile, but actually fun. Laughter rang out frequently, and when new-media mogul Andrew Breitbart held forth on a TV interview, a crowd gathered and broke into spontaneous applause. A year ago (2009), many told me, they were depressed about the future of America. Watching television pundits talk about President Obama’s transformative plans for big government, they felt alone, isolated and helpless.

Bingo !

Now, we have Act Two. Will Hillary’s “Thin Blue Line of rust belt states hold ?

Lt William Vereker, on a routine patrol from the British camp at Isandlwana looked down into the Ngwebeni valley to find it boiling with the hitherto unseen main Zulu Army of 20,000 men.

As in 1879 the political scouts are rushing back to inform the camp of the unanticipated development. Shocked but still undaunted, the pundits remain confident that the threat can be stopped by the Democrat “Blue Wall” in the industrial and upper Midwest. There, media artillery and the technologically superior liberal ground game are expected to hold the line against the angry white voter.

Read the rest, as Glenn says.

Now, we have the horrified GOPe. To Peter Wehner, Trump is the scary black face in the forest.

It is stunning to contemplate, particularly for those of us who are lifelong Republicans, but we now live in a time when the organizing principle that runs through the campaign of the Republican Party’s likely nominee isn’t adherence to a political philosophy — Mr. Trump has no discernible political philosophy — but an encouragement to political violence.

Mr. Trump’s supporters will dismiss this as hyperbole, but it is the only reasonable conclusion that his vivid, undisguised words allow for. As the examples pile up, we should not become inured to them. “I’d like to punch him in the face,” Mr. Trump said about a protester in Nevada. (“In the old days,” Mr. Trump fondly recalled, protesters would be “carried out in a stretcher.”)

OMG! What happened to “hit back twice as hard!” or “Bring a gun to a knife fight?” Rudeness will not be tolerated in the GOPe.

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More on where Trump came from.

Monday, March 7th, 2016

There is increasing panic among the GOPe about the possibility that Trump could win the nomination. The “Anyone But Trump” fixation is obsessing the usual suspects.

Megan McArdle: As I see it, there are basically three strategies you can follow:

Anyone but Trump: It doesn’t matter, as long as you vote against Trump. Democrats in open primary states can play, too.
Vote the leader: Pick the winner in your state, and force the nomination selection to the convention.
Attempt to generate an actual alternative front-runner by voting for the national poll leader, or the most plausible candidate — probably Marco Rubio, given that he seems to have the most support from the highest number of GOP coalitions, but possibly Ted Cruz, since he appears to be the next most appealing to Trump voters.
I’ll just start by asking: Which of these would someone follow if their main priority is to defeat Trump? Or am I thinking about it all wrong?

Sean Trende: No, I think you have it basically right. I actually think that, for now, their best chance lies behind Door No. 2.

Why are the elites so obsessed with keeping Trump away from the levers of power ? This is not limited to the USA. Germany is having its own voter revolt.

The anti-immigrant AFD – Alternative for Germany – party has scored massive gains in municipal weekend elections which reflect growing public anger at the refugee policies of Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The polls for councils in the state of Hesse saw the AFD make significant inroads on the two main established parties – Merkel’s conservative CDU and the centre-left SPD – to come in third with 13.2 percent of the vote, knocking the environmental Greens into fourth place.
Frankfurt CDU politician Markus Frank said: ‘The preliminary result of the AfD is frightening. I had expected a maximum five percent.’

Where does this voter anger come from ?

Maybe it is one manifestation of the Principle Agent Problem.

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The next war.

Sunday, February 21st, 2016

Richard Fernandez, as usual, has a good thought on where we are likely to be at the end of Obama’s presidency.

Even as America’s rivals are probing its defenses all across the globe, the Pentagon seems decidedly leery over taking on any new missions in the Middle East. “The Obama administration and the Iraqi government are eager to retake Iraq’s second-largest city from the Islamic State, which would allow President Barack Obama to claim a major victory over the terror group before he leaves office. But the top U.S. military brass says not so fast.”

The debate over the timetable for taking Mosul … highlights the competing pressures of an administration seeking to craft its legacy and military professionals worried about rushing into a bloody urban war.
It may also suggest an implicit consensus that it would be best to avoid risky undertakings for the remainder of the Obama administration and prepare instead for the serious threats that the administration’s mistakes have unleashed.

I just finished Robert Gates Memoir of his time as Sec Def for both Bush and Obama.

My own review of his book is here and I consider it excellent. He liked and respected Obama although some of that may be diplomacy. He disliked and did not respect Obama’s staff, who probably reflected his disinterested attitude toward governing. Obama told Gates that he liked making decisions but Gates believed he showed little interest in making them work.

Foreign Policy writes, it’s “crunch time for Washington and Beijing in the South China Sea” as satellite photos showed China fortifying its new island bastions with missiles.

“Is there anything Washington can do to slow China’s land grab?” it rhetorically asks? The answer is: probably not with the current leadership of the free world. Nobody really wants to follow president Obama into a crisis.

There is about the current international situation the atmosphere of fiasco. The Russia/Iran buildup continues, fueled as the Free Beacon notes by cash the Obama administration gave Tehran itself. Russia is now increasingly in command of the Syrian Army fighting beside an Iranian “foreign legion”, eliciting nothing more than a squeak from the president. There are warnings it is now time to start preparing for the collapse of Saudi Arabia without the expectation of being able to prevent it.

No solutions appear possible for the present. Plans appear to focus on the world after Obama.

This is exceedingly dangerous. The collapse of Saudi Arabia is one crisis that faces us.

For half a century, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been the linchpin of U.S. Mideast policy. A guaranteed supply of oil has bought a guaranteed supply of security. Ignoring autocratic practices and the export of Wahhabi extremism, Washington stubbornly dubs its ally “moderate.” So tight is the trust that U.S. special operators dip into Saudi petrodollars as a counterterrorism slush fund without a second thought. In a sea of chaos, goes the refrain, the kingdom is one state that’s stable.

But is it?

In fact, Saudi Arabia is no state at all. There are two ways to describe it: as a political enterprise with a clever but ultimately unsustainable business model, or so corrupt as to resemble in its functioning a vertically and horizontally integrated criminal organization. Either way, it can’t last. It’s past time U.S. decision-makers began planning for the collapse of the Saudi kingdom.

Fortunately, and contrary to the policies of Obama, the US is now self-sufficient in energy. The Obama aid to Iran has further destabilized the Saudis.

Everyone is making shift for themselves because that is all that is possible. But the most significant actions have been undertaken by the Pentagon itself. It has proposed the largest budget in years for the express purpose of rebuilding the deterrent force against Russia. The New York Times reported plans to “fortify” Eastern Europe. Real Clear Defense reports a crash program called the Third Offset Strategy to boost up the combat power of the US military in the short term. The current Defense Budget is a tacit mea admission of a need to make up for ground squandered in the last 7 years.

Gates has high praise for Ash Carter so Defense is probably in as good hands as is possible now.

It seems clear there is widespread consensus there will be a major period of instability or conflict after Obama leaves office, perhaps even before he departs. Conflicts in Eastern Europe, Turkey, the Middle East, North Africa, China, etc. are not only possible, they have actually started and each is escalating.

What is still unclear is how bad it will get. That depends on two things: the extent to which Western defenses can be rebuilt and the judiciousness with which foreign and security policy leadership is exercised. Political events in 2016 are crucial not only in America, but all over the world because they will determine, more or less, who is in charge when the balloon goes up. If the West can prepare in time and uses its assets properly, the worst of the crisis can still be avoided and a general peace might still be preserved. If nothing intelligent replaces the last seven years of foolishness then the embers now smoldering may burst into open flame, merge and threaten everybody with the major conflict Dmitry Medvedev warned against.

There will still be some calls in the next few months for president Obama to “do something” but there will be fewer than you would expect. The word is out, even among allies. He’s a busted flush. For the moment, the consensus appears to sit tight, get ready, take no chances and wait out Obama’s term.

That seems to be all we can do.

The end of Obama’s Syria policy.

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

aleppo.sized-770x415xc

The US foreign policy conducted by the Obama administration has been a disaster all along. He abandoned Iraq and the rise of ISIS has followed. I have read “Black Flags,” which describes how the al Qeada organization of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has morphed into ISIS after Obama pulled US forces out of Iraq. Now, as Richard Fernandez explains in another masterful analysis, Assad is about to rout the last of the non-ISIS opposition.

Reuters reports that Bashal al-Assad’s forces have made major advances behind a major Russian air offensive and are now poised to destroy the non-ISIS rebels opposing the Syrian government is rocking the foreign policy establishment. “After three days of intense fighting and aerial bombardment, regime forces, believed to include Iran-backed Shia militias, broke through to the formerly besieged regime enclaves of Nobul and Zahra.”

The Russians have been surprising US military leaders in ways that are very unpleasant.

The performance of the miniature, “rust bucket” Russian air force has formed an invidious baseline to what the USAF has achieved. The Independent reported:

Their army’s equipment and strategy was “outmoded”; their air force’s bombs and missiles were “more dumb than smart”; their navy was “more rust than ready”. For decades, this was Western military leaders’ view, steeped in condescension, of their Russian counterparts. What they have seen in Syria and Ukraine has come as a shock.

Russian military jets have, at times, been carrying out more sorties in a day in Syria than the US-led coalition has done in a month.

We are not serious and the US military has to wonder what will happen if Putin decides to take the Baltic republics.

All this is happening alongside the weak consequences of Hillary Clinton’s massive breach of security in her “e-mail server.”

Remember, Mrs. Clinton reviewed her e-mails before finally surrendering them to the State Department, and she initially insisted there was no classified information in them. Now, it turns out they were so threaded with classified information that the State Department and intelligence agencies have fallen hopelessly behind the court’s disclosure schedule: The task of reviewing the e-mails and redacting the portions whose publication could harm national security has proved much more complicated than anticipated. Thousands of remaining e-mails, and any embarrassing lapses they contain, will be withheld from voters until well into primary season.

From the level of disinterest in this matter shown by Politico in its piece about Clinton’s “vulnerabilities” in the Democrat primary race, there seems to be no interest at all in foreign policy by Democrats. That may change if the Baltic republics are in jeopardy but, perhaps not. Democrats seem to believe that the US is the root of all evil, not our enemies.

As America’s foes gain in the Middle East, the confusion surrounding the administration’s goals correspondingly grows. If Aleppo falls, and its defenders and inhabitants massacred it will prove that Obama cannot protect anyone. A huge humanitarian disaster whose spillover Europe must inevitably endure will ensue. There is genuine international cooperation. Russia generates refugees and Germany absorbs them.

And as for Geneva, well what of it?

Someone has to ask: what goal does America still have in the Middle East beyond defending the tattered political image of president Obama?

I wonder ?

The Western Spring.

Sunday, January 10th, 2016

migrants

Belmont Club and Richard Fernandez have come up with a good term to describe what is happening now.

It’s on, the long awaited fight against PC orthodoxy is finally on. Trump is unlikely to apologize, CAIR even more unlikely to back down. With 3 million Middle Eastern and African refugees due to arrive in Europe this year the clashes between German protesters are only likely to intensify.

The commotion you hear is not going to stop, it will only get worse. The Western Spring is finally here, and before it’s done it threatens to change everything.

The “Arab Spring” has proved a disaster for the Middle East. Much of that disaster was midwifed by Obama and Hillary. Obama hleped The Muslim Brotherhood overthrow our ally, Mubarak. The Washington Post was very optimistic.

CAIRO – It was sparked on social-networking sites, and inspired by a revolution in Tunisia. In 18 days, it grew into something astounding – a leaderless people’s movement that at every turn outsmarted a government with an almost unblemished 30-year record of suppressing dissent.

Of course, it didn’t turn out the way they expected.

Despite the government’s efforts to sow violence that could be pinned on the demonstrators, the vast majority did not take the bait.

In the first days of the protests, they were attacked with high-pressure water hoses, tear gas, birdshot, rubber bullets and live ammunition. Protesters responded with rocks, but also with pamphlets instructing demonstrators to appeal to the police as fellow Egyptians.

When police withdrew from the streets and prisoners were released from their cells, Egyptians formed security committees to protect their neighborhoods. And when pro-Mubarak forces – many of them thought to be paid thugs and undercover police – attacked anti-government demonstrators, the protesters fought back but did not escalate the violence.

More than 300 people were killed over the past 18 days, with each death giving the movement more momentum. In Tahrir Square, posters of the dead grace every corner. A curly haired girl named Sally, a man named Hassan, a boy named Mohammed.

The leftist innocence drips from the article. Mubarak believed that the US conspired to bring him down. Knowing Obama, he was probably correct. Of course, we should follow Napoleon’s rule, “Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence.”

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The Sunni war on America.

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

Angelo Codevilla, who has some of the most interesting things to say about America has a new column out in Asia Times.

For more than a quarter century, as Americans have suffered trouble from the Muslim world’s Sunni and Shia components and as the perennial quarrel between them has intensified, the US government has taken the side of the Sunni. This has not worked out well for us. It is past time for our government to sort out our own business, and to mind it aggressively.

To understand why hopes for help from the Sunni side are forlorn, we must be clear that jihadism in general and Daesh in particular are logical outgrowths of Wahhabism, Saudi Arabia’s (and the Gulf monarchies’) official religion, about how they fit in the broader conflict between Sunni and Shia, as well as about how the US occupation of Iraq exposed America to the vagaries of intra-Muslim conflicts.

I have believed this for some time and am happy to see him agree with me. I spent an evening listening to him talk about our foreign policy and how the War on Terror became a war on Americans.

The U.S. government does not understand how to combat international terrorism or respond to its threats. In an exclusive interview with Ginni Thomas of The Daily Caller, Codevilla highlighted the failure of both administrations to understand the enemy, explaining that it makes national security decisions based on a flawed paradigm.

“After 9/11, the U.S. government instituted a system of homeland security based on the proposition that any American is as likely as anyone in the world to commit terrorist acts — and that therefore, all Americans must be screened and presumed to be terrorists until the screening clears them,” Codevilla said.

Certainly, the government has been engaged in a faux security system with the TSA that pretends it will stop an airline hijacking or bomb threat, while allowing 90% of false bombs and guns to escape surveillance.

“These people who attacked us had reasons, which are widely supported — in fact, vigorously promoted by the regimes from which they came,” Codevilla said. “The Saudi regime, which we count as an ally, does in fact harbor the most virulent strain of Islam, the Wahhabism. This movement inspired most of the hijackers in 9/11. The others, some of the leaders, were inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, which the Obama administration has been courting and favoring.”

Rather than confronting the movement of Islamic radicalization, Codevilla says that both Barack Obama and George W. Bush blamed acts of terrorism on the perpetrators themselves, instead of viewing them as the incarnations of a murderously ideological movement.

I am a little less conspiracy minded but I agree that we face a militant ideology that is as yet unacknowledged.

US foreign policy in the Middle East had moved to the Sunni side in 1979 after the Shia Islamic Republic’s overthrow of Iran’s secular Shah. For the previous quarter century, the Shah’s Iran had taken care of US interests in the region while muting its Persian Shia people’s perennial tensions with the Sunni Arab world.

But Iran’s Islamic Republic has been as aggressively Shia and Persian as it has been anti-American. Fatefully, rather than answering in kind the Islamic Republic’s warfare on America, all presidents since Jimmy Carter have searched the Sunni Arab world for counterweights to Iran, as well as for the kind of support that the Shah had given us.

This attempt to outsource America’s security concerns by entering into the Sunni-Shia conflict on the Sunni side has been counterproductive because the Sunni, 85% of the Muslim world, are also the nursery of its most contagious plagues — the Wahhabi sect and the Muslim Brotherhood. Above all, it has been disastrous because it has led the US government to lose sight of our own interests by confusing them with those of Sunni states and potentates.

Here, I agree completely. I think Bush’s attempt to see if an Arab country could rule itself was a reasonable thing to try. The disaster was turning the policy over to Arabist Paul Bremer who decided to become a viceroy and alienated the Sunnis of Iraq. Saddam began the crisis by invading Kuwait.

The main Sunni monarchies’ congenital worse-than-uselessness is why, in the decade after Iranian Islamic Republic’s establishment, US policymakers vigorously courted Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, who ruled mostly-Shia Iraq with a bloody hand through its Sunni minority. The US policymakers who helped Saddam prevail in his war against Iran believed that, by so doing, they could strike a blow at Iran while weaning Saddam away from his reliance on the Soviet Union.

Too clever. No sooner had Saddam established his power over the head of the Gulf than he used it to conquer Kuwait, after which the Gulf’s monarchs were helpless before his disciplined army and frightened by their own peoples’ support for Saddam. They asked the United States’ help.

I am a bit skeptical here but he might well be correct. What we have now is a president who has elected to join the Shia and Iranian side in this Muslim civil war.

But instead of choosing any version of America’s own interest, US statesmen confused that interest with the self-contradictory demands of the Saudis, etc. — the Sunni world’s weak reeds: Please, make war on Saddam, but not so hard as to break his Iraqi Sunni empire. This way we can all win without dealing with the consequences of victory. We can have our cake while eating it too.

Our bipartisan ruling class, from the Bush and Clinton families to the Dick Cheneys and Colin Powells to Washington’s think tanks considered this counsel to be sophistication, and themselves to be sophisticates for accepting it. Far too clever.

The ensuing bellum interruptus was meant to tweak the balance among the Mid-East’s Sunni forces. But the result was that Saddam, who’d not been an enemy of the United States, subsequently led the Muslim world to new heights of enmity to America. Few remember that the longest and most impassioned part of Osama bin Laden’s 1996 fatwa which preceded the wave of anti-American terrorism that crested on 9/11 was a denunciation of America’s actions against Saddam’s Iraq.

Here I tend to agree with Codevilla. Clinton was not immune to this misapprehension of our interests. “Foreign Affairs,” a journal that I used to subscribe to, ran a cover story during Bill Clinton’s feckless presidency on “Foreign Policy as Social Work.”

the Sunni states — which had opposed the invasion strenuously — convinced Bush 43 to occupy Iraq indefinitely. That involved taking care of their business. He agreed to confuse others’ business with America’s despite having been elected in part by promising never to engage in “nation building.”

Bush promised to build “a united, democratic Iraq.” That was always an absurdity because, since Iraq’s constituent groups loathed and feared each other, Iraq’s unity could result only from one group’s despotism over the others, whereas “democracy” — i.e. the will of the people — meant that Iraqis would go their separate ways.

The occupation’s day-to-day practical objective however, was to hold the 83% of Iraqis who were not Sunni into a state structure in which the Sunni would salvage at least some of the privileges they had held under Saddam. That is what the Sunni states wanted, and that is what they had convinced the US government was in America’s interest as well. It was also impossible. Immediately, the occupation started a Sunni war on America that is yet to end.

This is an interesting point of view and could explain why Bush chose Bremer over the far more capable Jay Garner.

He has another installment coming this week. I will read it with interest.

Here is a section I agree with.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, however, chose to make his country the Islamic State’s indispensable logistical partner out of a welter of reasons and through a calculation of risks that make sense only to him. Erdogan, a Sunni Islamist and member of the Muslim Brotherhood, sees support for Daesh/ISIS as serving his personal and sectarian opposition to Syria’s Bashar al Assad. This, along with his desire to reduce Kurdish enclaves on both sides of the Syria/Turkey border.

The kurds are our only friends, if any, in the middle east except Israel.