Over on Ace of Spades HQ, DrewM is pessimistic that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech accomplished anything. While his central premise is correct (the deal won’t prevent the Obama Administration from making a criminally stupid deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran that will actually make it easier for them to obtain nuclear weapons), the speech actually did accomplish several positive things:
Archive for the ‘Foreign Policy’ Category
Here’s the complete video of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking before the United States Congress (minus a handful of petulant Democrats) today:
Skip to four minutes into the speech to miss the thunderous applause/walking in portion…
“The remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States has always been above politics. It must always remain above politics.”
I’m standing here in Washington, D.C. and the difference is so stark. America’s founding document promises life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Iran’s founding document pledges death, tyranny, and the pursuit of jihad. And as states are collapsing across the Middle East, Iran is charging into the void to do just that.
Iran’s goons in Gaza, its lackeys in Lebanon, its revolutionary guards on the Golan Heights are clutching Israel with three tentacles of terror. Backed by Iran, Assad is slaughtering Syrians. Back by Iran, Shiite militias are rampaging through Iraq. Back by Iran, Houthis are seizing control of Yemen, threatening the strategic straits at the mouth of the Red Sea. Along with the Straits of Hormuz, that would give Iran a second choke-point on the world’s oil supply.
Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam. One calls itself the Islamic Republic. The other calls itself the Islamic State. Both want to impose a militant Islamic empire first on the region and then on the entire world. They just disagree among themselves who will be the ruler of that empire.
In this deadly game of thrones, there’s no place for America or for Israel, no peace for Christians, Jews or Muslims who don’t share the Islamist medieval creed, no rights for women, no freedom for anyone.
The difference is that ISIS is armed with butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube, whereas Iran could soon be armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs. We must always remember — I’ll say it one more time — the greatest dangers facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons. To defeat ISIS and let Iran get nuclear weapons would be to win the battle, but lose the war. We can’t let that happen.
But that, my friends, is exactly what could happen, if the deal now being negotiated is accepted by Iran. That deal will not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It would all but guarantee that Iran gets those weapons, lots of them.
Ladies and gentlemen, history has placed us at a fateful crossroads. We must now choose between two paths. One path leads to a bad deal that will at best curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions for a while, but it will inexorably lead to a nuclear-armed Iran whose unbridled aggression will inevitably lead to war.
The second path, however difficult, could lead to a much better deal, that would prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, a nuclearized Middle East and the horrific consequences of both to all of humanity.
Welcome to the Friday LinkSwarm, where two themes are jihadis enjoying the benefits of the welfare state, and Hillary Clinton enjoying treating campaign finance laws as “optional suggestions.”
— BattleSwarm (@BattleSwarmBlog) February 26, 2015
Greece has suspended their top soccer league due to violence:
The new Greek government suspended competition in the top-flight Super League indefinitely after violence at a weekend match between the top two football clubs in the country.
Sunday’s game between bitter Athens city rivals Panathinaikos and away team Olympiakos was marred by a pitch invasion despite a heavy police presence.
The players and officials of Super League leader Olympiakos were also pelted with various projectiles and flares amid ugly scenes.
Good thing Europeans aren’t completely soccer crazy, or that Greeks aren’t already pissed off at the continuing economic crisis or successive governments telling them precisely the lies they want to hear.
(An aside: This is an actual sentence on CNN.com: “Following these incidents, the ruling Syriza Party has made its decision to impose a suspension, which will be the third team [sic] this season that Greek football has been halted.” That’s some mighty fine proofreading, CNN…)
I think this is footage from the scene:
Evidently Greek government is as incompetent at maintaining a “heavy police presence” as it is at everything else except deficit spending.
Soccer hooliganism is hardly a novel phenomena in Europe, but I suspect this incident gives us a glimpse of the widespread simmering anger in Greece over the perpetual debt crisis. Having been brought to power by that anger, it looks like Syriza is badly underestimating its depth and how to manage it. If they were smart, they’d be far wiser to let some of it boil off in soccer brawls rather than let it keep building without an outlet.
In a country that can no longer afford bread, it’s deeply unwise to start banning circuses…
With Russia still fighting it’s thinly disguised proxy war in Ukraine, other former Soviet states have to be nervous. That’s why Lithuania is reintroducing conscription.
To my mind, all of the Baltic countries should go to a universal service model like Switzerland or Israel: Everyone does a stint in the military, and everyone has an assault rifle at home (with a good smattering of handheld antitank weapons amidst the civilian populace as well).
The Baltic countries should all make it as hard as possible for Russia to occupy any parts of their country. Indeed, I would suggest that right now, disguised Ukrainian special forces units should be attacking critical infrastructure (rail lines, bridges, transmission lines, pipelines, etc.) all across Russia.
Evidence suggests that Putin regards the economic damage being done to Russia by sanctions as an acceptable cost for digesting part of the Ukraine. That cost needs to keep rising to deter both present and future aggression.
Greece two weeks ago: “We will not negotiate this people’s pride and dignity.”
Greece today: “Yes, Master! We’d love to grovel some more if you continue tossing pennies into our cup!”
“As far as we can tell, the Greek government hasn’t achieved even a single one of its aims so far. The bailout was extended by four months, but in spite of a few cosmetic changes to the wording accompanying it (e.g. the ‘troika’ has been renamed ‘the institutions’), it is still precisely the same bailout agreement as before.”
This is an event completely unforeseen by everyone except anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to previous installments of Greek Bailout Kabuki. For all the bluster, it’s not like Greece had many options other than to get down on all fours and really lick boot, since it was slated to run out of cash tomorrow.
Naturally anyone who was foolish enough to believe Syriza’s promises (the technical term for such people is “rubes”) is hopping mad. “It’s as if [Greek PM Alexis] Tsipras, [Greek Finance Minister Yanis] Varoufakis and the others are telling me: ‘We believe that you are stupid…and you will believe whatever lie we tell you.’” The fact Syriza was elected at all is pretty much testament to the well-grounded accuracy that belief. That, and, oh, every single piece of news out of Greece since the Euro debt crisis struck, as long as that lie involved Greece continuing to spend money like drunken sailors with a stolen credit card and never having to pay their debts back.
The open secret, of course, is that Greece will never repay its debt. “We have to be realistic here. Greek debt is now 175 percent of gross domestic product (GDP); it’s higher than it was when this whole business first started.” (Well, by one measure. Another puts Greek debt at 317% of GDP.) Yeah, that’s what happens when you continue to run huge deficits even under your “austerity” budgets.
As I previously wrote:
I’m sure Syriza would love to implement their pie-in-the-sky big spending socialism, but their real goal is to lie to the Greek people long enough for the EU to write at least one more check, and lie to the EU about implementing reform long enough to cash it. Since Syriza only recently came to power, they probably want keep the farce rolling long enough to feather their own nests with Euros before engineering a grexit. After all, center-right parties got their turns at the public graft trough; why not the far left?
And back on December 29 I wrote:
So we’ll see another election, and if Syriza wins we’ll see another round of demands for more bailouts and debt writedowns, with Greece threatening yet again to exit the Euro. We’ve seen this movie before. The most likely outcome is that another cabal of EU-phillic insiders in the Greek government will engineer a last-minute cave-in to demands from Brussels and Frankfurt, ram another toothless austerity measure through parliament in exchange for still more credit (and perhaps even a small symbolic measure of debt forgiveness), dissolve the government again following the inevitable public outrage, then have the Greek bureaucracy ignore even those woefully inadequate reforms, setting the stage for the farce to repeat itself in another 12-18 months, or until mean old Aunt Angela finally cuts up the credit card.
Behold The Amazing Person’s uncanny powers of prophecy! Like Groundhog Day, it’s gotten remarkably easy to predict exactly what’s going to happen. Different people may occupy the Prime Minister’s office, but all them invariably wake up to the political equivalent of Sonny & Cher singing “I Got You Babe.”
It looks like the only I thing I was off on was the piddling four month extension rather than twelve, and the fact that Syriza didn’t even get the tiny fig-leaf of symbolic debt reduction. I guess that request for reparations from Germany rubbed Angela Merkel the wrong way. Too bad Greek PM Alexis Tsipras failed to heed Basil Fawlty’s eminently sensible advice…
A Friday LinkSwarm for your edification:
Your standard progressive activist has really done nothing very interesting, so he or she needs to get proper credentials, to show that he or she knows what’s what, and that progressivism is what the world needs to deal with “problems”–after all, isn’t life just a series of problems calling for progressive intervention? They want to see what they believe.
We, hence, have progressives making up the sort of stuff that puts them, the elite, in the center of the battle, on the ramparts, in the muddy trenches and downed helicopters with the common schlubs–the sort of worldly experience that allows progressives to tell us how to live our lives.
Not to mention the fact that they doubt anyone will ever call them on their BS. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
— David B. Cohen (@DavidBCohen1) February 19, 2015
I hope to have time to put up a separate post on the ruling against Obama’s illegal amnesty Real Soon Now…
This extensive Graeme Wood Atlantic piece on the Islamic State is must reading. Though many of the points Wood addresses about Koranic scriptural justifications for Islamic State actions (including its most horrific atrocities) have been covered here and in places like Jihad Watch, they have not been heretofore covered to the depth and breadth they are here in any mainstream American publication.
The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.
Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail.
When a masked executioner says Allahu akbar while beheading an apostate, sometimes he’s doing so for religious reasons.
Many mainstream Muslim organizations have gone so far as to say the Islamic State is, in fact, un-Islamic. It is, of course, reassuring to know that the vast majority of Muslims have zero interest in replacing Hollywood movies with public executions as evening entertainment. But Muslims who call the Islamic State un-Islamic are typically, as the Princeton scholar Bernard Haykel, the leading expert on the group’s theology, told me, “embarrassed and politically correct, with a cotton-candy view of their own religion” that neglects “what their religion has historically and legally required.” Many denials of the Islamic State’s religious nature, he said, are rooted in an “interfaith-Christian-nonsense tradition.”
According to Haykel, the ranks of the Islamic State are deeply infused with religious vigor. Koranic quotations are ubiquitous. “Even the foot soldiers spout this stuff constantly,” Haykel said. “They mug for their cameras and repeat their basic doctrines in formulaic fashion, and they do it all the time.” He regards the claim that the Islamic State has distorted the texts of Islam as preposterous, sustainable only through willful ignorance. “People want to absolve Islam,” he said. “It’s this ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ mantra. As if there is such a thing as ‘Islam’! It’s what Muslims do, and how they interpret their texts.” Those texts are shared by all Sunni Muslims, not just the Islamic State. “And these guys have just as much legitimacy as anyone else.”
All Muslims acknowledge that Muhammad’s earliest conquests were not tidy affairs, and that the laws of war passed down in the Koran and in the narrations of the Prophet’s rule were calibrated to fit a turbulent and violent time. In Haykel’s estimation, the fighters of the Islamic State are authentic throwbacks to early Islam and are faithfully reproducing its norms of war. This behavior includes a number of practices that modern Muslims tend to prefer not to acknowledge as integral to their sacred texts. “Slavery, crucifixion, and beheadings are not something that freakish [jihadists] are cherry-picking from the medieval tradition,” Haykel said. Islamic State fighters “are smack in the middle of the medieval tradition and are bringing it wholesale into the present day.”
If al-Qaeda wanted to revive slavery, it never said so. And why would it? Silence on slavery probably reflected strategic thinking, with public sympathies in mind: when the Islamic State began enslaving people, even some of its supporters balked. Nonetheless, the caliphate has continued to embrace slavery and crucifixion without apology. “We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women,” Adnani, the spokesman, promised in one of his periodic valentines to the West. “If we do not reach that time, then our children and grandchildren will reach it, and they will sell your sons as slaves at the slave market.”
It has already taken up what Islamic law refers to as “offensive jihad,” the forcible expansion into countries that are ruled by non-Muslims. “Hitherto, we were just defending ourselves,” Choudary said; without a caliphate, offensive jihad is an inapplicable concept. But the waging of war to expand the caliphate is an essential duty of the caliph.
Choudary took pains to present the laws of war under which the Islamic State operates as policies of mercy rather than of brutality. He told me the state has an obligation to terrorize its enemies—a holy order to scare the shit out of them with beheadings and crucifixions and enslavement of women and children, because doing so hastens victory and avoids prolonged conflict.
Choudary’s colleague Abu Baraa explained that Islamic law permits only temporary peace treaties, lasting no longer than a decade. Similarly, accepting any border is anathema, as stated by the Prophet and echoed in the Islamic State’s propaganda videos. If the caliph consents to a longer-term peace or permanent border, he will be in error. Temporary peace treaties are renewable, but may not be applied to all enemies at once: the caliph must wage jihad at least once a year. He may not rest, or he will fall into a state of sin.
Wood also goes into considerable detail about the fundamentally apocalyptic nature of the Islamic State’s vision for the world. Think The Late Great Planet Earth, but not nearly so warm and funny.
While I may not agree with every point Wood makes (I rather doubt there are enough “quietist Salafis” to provide anything resembling a theological counterweight to the Islamic State among the Ummah), it’s still a very important piece that I hope will open many eyes in our political establishment as to the nature of the foe we face.
Read the while thing.
Yesterday: The Islamic State releases a video in which they beheaded 21 Egyptian Copts in Libya. (Libya being the Obama foreign policy masterstroke that just keeps stroking.) Egyptian leader Sisi vowed revenge.
It didn’t take long in coming.
Today Egyptian planes hit ISIS targets in Derna, Sirte and Ben Jawad, in coordination with Libya’s own government.
So while Obama dithers and moves forward with plans to do just enough to keep reporters from asking him about ISIS, Jordan and Egypt have both carried out quick retaliatory strikes against ISIS.
At this point ISIS has managed to alienate almost all the other countries in the Middle East, and yet we see no signs that Obama or his State Department have forged an effective coalition among them to crush ISIS. Evidently he feels it’s more important to appease Iran and chase a chimerical Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty than to keep a radical Islamist terrorist state from metastasizing throughout the region.
It seems that Obama’s grand role in history is to make George W. Bush look like a foreign policy genius by comparison…