Bombing, revolution, and other jihad-related news breaking out, so let’s dust off this old headline category and throw up some links.
Archive for the ‘Foreign Policy’ Category
That’s the headline on this Hisham Melhem piece on the comprehensive failure of the entire Arab world.
The jihadists of the Islamic State, in other words, did not emerge from nowhere. They climbed out of a rotting, empty hulk—what was left of a broken-down civilization. They are a gruesome manifestation of a deeper malady afflicting Arab political culture, which was stagnant, repressive and patriarchal after the decades of authoritarian rule that led to the disastrous defeat in the 1967 war with Israel. That defeat sounded the death knell of Arab nationalism and the resurgence of political Islam, which projected itself as the alternative to the more secular ideologies that had dominated the Arab republics since the Second World War. If Arab decline was the problem, then “Islam is the solution,” the Islamists said—and they believed it.
At their core, both political currents—Arab nationalism and Islamism—are driven by atavistic impulses and a regressive outlook on life that is grounded in a mostly mythologized past. Many Islamists, including Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood (the wellspring of such groups)—whether they say it explicitly or hint at it—are still on a ceaseless quest to resurrect the old Ottoman Caliphate. Still more radical types—the Salafists—yearn for a return to the puritanical days of Prophet Muhammad and his companions. For most Islamists, democracy means only majoritarian rule, and the rule of sharia law, which codifies gender inequality and discrimination against non-Muslims.
And let’s face the grim truth: There is no evidence whatever that Islam in its various political forms is compatible with modern democracy.
A few pieces of Melhem’s piece are erroneous: “As terrorist organizations, al Qaeda and Islamic State are different from the Muslim Brotherhood, a conservative movement that renounced violence years ago, although it did dabble with violence in the past.” That’s only because the Egypt’s military forced them to refrain from large-scale violence on pain of death. We saw how quickly this restraint was cast aside when Morsi assumed power. The only differences between al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood are of degree, tactical choice, and certain Islamic Eschatological doctrinal differences as to exactly what sort of oppressive Islamic theocracy imposing Sharia law are the ideal end-state.
But those flaws aside, it’s still an admirably clear-eyed distillation of the horrific, bloody, dysfunctional nature of the Arab world. Read the whole thing.
This piece in Foreign Policy has been making the rounds. It talks at length, in an inside-baseball manner, of how the Obama Administration’s feckless and incompetent behavior has damaged America’s interests around the world.
The problem is that in seeking to sidestep the pitfalls that plagued Bush, Obama has inadvertently created his own. Yet unlike Bush, whose flaw-riddled first-term foreign policy was followed by important and not fully appreciated second-term course corrections, Obama seems steadfast in his resistance both to learning from his past errors and to managing his team so that future errors are prevented. It is hard to think of a recent president who has grown so little in office.
That’s why many in the right wing of the blogsphere have been singing its praises. And indeed, many of the criticisms leveled are devastatingly on-target. However, I have a somewhat orthogonal take on the piece, and what it’s actually trying to do.
Consider all of the foreign policy debacles either not covered by the piece at all, or else only mentioned in passing:
Broadly speaking, two viewpoints run through the piece, each of which acts, in their own way, as exercises in blame-shifting:
As an example of the latter, take this sentence:
“Concentrating power in the White House increases the likelihood of groupthink, especially in second terms like this one, when many of the stronger and diverse voices in the administration have left and have not been replaced by equally strong and diverse successors.”
Hear that, John Kerry? That’s the sound of Hillary shoving a shiv right between your ribs.
The groundwork for most (if not all) of the foreign policy failures of the Obama Administration’s second term were laid in its first. Clinton’s emphasis on “soft power” over the military, the premature withdrawal from Iraq, the failure to obtain a status-of-forces agreement there, the counterproductive-to-disastrous regime change in Libya, the lack of any strategy for the “Arab Spring” (and subsequent failure to stem the entirely predictable turn toward radical Islamization several Arab Spring countries took), the failure to foresee a post-Mubarak Egypt, the asinine embrace of Morsi’s obviously despotic Muslim Brotherhood government, the obvious failure of the “reset” with Russia; all occurred or had their seeds planted when Hillary was Secretary of State, and all have contributed mightily to America’s global loss of prestige and respect.
But the whitewashing of Hillary Clinton’s record is no surprise, given that the author, David Rothkopf, “joined the Clinton Administration in 1993 as Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Policy and Development.”
I’m also guessing that Susan Rice was among the sources for the piece, given that he follows criticism of her for calling the German Foreign Minister a “M@therf@cker” with the softball “It is a particularly frustrating Achilles’ heel for someone who is well known among her friends as having the capacity to be very warm, humorous, and engaging,” which just reeks of assuaging a source. (Really, has any serious policy profile of any high Republican administration official every used the phrase “very warm, humorous, and engaging”?)
I also get the impression from this and other bits of Hillary apologia that she really, really has it in for former Deputy National Security Adviser and current White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough (he’s the guy that looks like Lurch in that “watch us kill Bin Laden” photo). Note that I’m not taking sides in this dispute; it’s entirely possible that both of them suck…
The piece is worth reading for showing that even the long-time deep state apparatchiks at Foggy Bottom feel embarrassed at the Obama Administration’s gross foreign policy incompetence. But it also needs to be taken with several grains of salt as yet-another piece of battlespace preparation for Hillary 2016…
Tomorrow is the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorists attacks on World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Thanks to the Obama Administration’s feckless and spineless responses to terrorism both here and abroad, Americans feel less safe than ever:
The exclusive poll reveals that 47% of Americans believe the country is less safe now than before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. That’s a significant increase from even a year after the twin towers fell when in September 2002 just 20% of the country said the nation was less safe. The level of fear across America also is up substantially from last year when 28% felt the same way. In fact, just 26% of Americans now feel the nation is safer than before 9/11.
Americans are worried about America’s safety because Obama seems manifestly disinterested in national security concerns. Americans are being killed by jihadists abroad and Obama can barely trouble himself to break away from his golf game to address the issue.
Tonight Obama is going to give a speech (in Obama’s Big Pop-Up Book of Governing America, “Give A Speech” provides the same universal panacea as “Shoot” does in the Far Side’s book on equine medicine) on ISIS.
Here’s one thing I don’t expect to hear addressed: What is the Obama Administration doing to protect America tomorrow on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. America’s jihadist enemies have frequently observed this anniversary by launching attacks, such as the 2012 embassy attacks on Benghazi and elsewhere.
This is especially worrisome given reports of missing Libyan airliners possibly in the hands of jihadists.
When it comes to foreign policy (or, really, anything beyond electoral politics and advancing a left-wing agenda), Obama shows a distinct inability to learn from his own mistakes. Will there be heightened security at American embassies tomorrow? While their be fighter planes in the air flying CAP, or at least fueled and ready for takeoff on the ground, in case of another 9/11 attack? This piece suggests that government officials are “bracing” for possible attacks, but fails to give any details. If there is another attack, are we going to see another roundup of all the security lapses like we did after the Benghazi attack?
The most essential job of government is protecting the lives, liberty and property of its citizens from enemies both here and abroad. What I want to known is: What is the Obama Administration actually doing on Job 1?
A Monday LinKSwarm to kick off your week with:
“Obama says what he has to say to make reporters stop asking about it.”
#ExplainAFilmPlotBadly Respected archaeology professor has secret life where he indulges his taste for wearing leather and using whips.
— BattleSwarm (@BattleSwarmBlog) September 6, 2014
In addition to not having a clue, when it comes to ISIS, Obama says that “we don’t have a strategy yet.” I’m sure if someone asked Franklin Roosevelt in early 1942 what his plans were for dealing with Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany, he would have had a strategy. Then again, FDR’s polio probably severely curtailed his golfing…
Russian forces in two armored columns captured a key southeastern coastal town near the Russian border Thursday after Ukrainian forces retreated in the face of superior firepower, a Ukrainian military spokesman said.
The two Russian columns, including tanks and armored fighting vehicles, entered the town of Novoazovsk on the Sea of Azov after a battle in which Ukrainian army positions came under fire from Grad rockets launched from Russian territory, according to the spokesman, Col. Andriy Lysenko.
Well, thank God for Hillary Clinton’s reset button, and Obama’s “flexibility” and smart diplomacy. Who knows what sort of mess that bungler Bush would have made of the situation.
And the UN Security Council is meeting. Since Russia still has a Security Council veto, don’t expect even the usual strongly worded letter.
Just making it to Friday coming back from vacation to Texas in the middle of August seems like it’s own victory condition…
His bored-bird-in-a-gilded-cage attitude, the article said, “has left him with few loyalists to effectively manage the issues erupting abroad and at home and could imperil his efforts to leave a legacy in his final stretch in office.”
The extraordinary candidate turns out to be the most ordinary of men, frittering away precious time on the links. Unlike L.B.J., who devoured problems as though he were being chased by demons, Obama’s main galvanizing impulse was to get himself elected.
The sad part is that this is an ugly, confusing and frightening time at home and abroad, and the country needs its president to illuminate and lead, not sink into some petulant expression of his aloofness, where he regards himself as a party of his own and a victim of petty, needy, bickering egomaniacs.
The two things ISIS seems to be most successful at are butchery and rape. Since there have been plenty of media reports of the former, let’s look at the latter:
“Muhammad Karim, one of the soldiers, said that when they arrived at the first abandoned militant checkpoint, they discovered a woman, naked and bound, who had been repeatedly raped. Farther into the neighborhood, the Iraqi forces discovered another woman in the same state.”
Sadly, this is not an isolated incident
Yezidi Kurds women are pleading for other people to kill them after barbaric rape conducted by the ISIS.”
A mother painfully spoke of her daughters’ predicament following barbaric and savage rape conducted by the ISIS.
She said that three of her daughters were abducted by the ISIS and were raped savagely, but were eventually freed to come back to their family.
When her daughters came back, they were pleading for people to kill them.
“My daughters were calling on people to kill them, but no one wanted to do that. So they jumped from the mountain and ended their bitter life,”
But surely these are extremists, and mainstream Islam doesn’t condone sexual slavery, does it?
Don’t be so sure. From Islamqa.info:
Islam allows a man to have intercourse with his slave woman, whether he has a wife or wives or he is not married.
A slave woman with whom a man has intercourse is known as a sariyyah (concubine) from the word sirr, which means marriage.
This is indicated by the Qur’aan and Sunnah, and this was done by the Prophets. Ibraaheem (peace be upon him) took Haajar as a concubine and she bore him Ismaa’eel (may peace be upon them all).
Our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) also did that, as did the Sahaabah, the righteous and the scholars. The scholars are unanimously agreed on that and it is not permissible for anyone to regard it as haraam or to forbid it. Whoever regards that as haraam is a sinner who is going against the consensus of the scholars.
Robert Spencer of JihadWatch elaborates on the issue:
Take, for example, the recent revelation that, according to the UN News Centre, “some 1,500 Yazidi and Christian persons may have been forced into sexual slavery.” A similar kidnapping by Islamic jihadists in Nigeria recently horrified the world, but much overlooked was the fact that such behavior is sanctioned by the Qur’an. According to Islamic law, Muslim men can take “captives of the right hand” (Qur’an 4:3, 4:24, 33:50). The Qur’an says: “O Prophet! Lo! We have made lawful unto thee thy wives unto whom thou hast paid their dowries, and those whom thy right hand possesseth of those whom Allah hath given thee as spoils of war” (33:50). 4:3 and 4:24 extend this privilege to Muslim men in general, as does this passage. “Certainly will the believers have succeeded: They who are during their prayer humbly submissive, and they who turn away from ill speech, and they who are observant of zakah, and they who guard their private parts except from their wives or those their right hands possess, for indeed, they will not be blamed” (Qur’an 23:1-6).
These passages have not gone unnoticed. The Egyptian Sheikh Abu-Ishaq al-Huwayni declared in May 2011 that “we are in the era of jihad,” and that meant Muslims would take slaves. In a subsequent interview he elaborated:
Jihad is only between Muslims and infidels. Spoils, slaves, and prisoners are only to be taken in war between Muslims and infidels. Muslims in the past conquered, invaded, and took over countries. This is agreed to by all scholars—there is no disagreement on this from any of them, from the smallest to the largest, on the issue of taking spoils and prisoners. The prisoners and spoils are distributed among the fighters, which includes men, women, children, wealth, and so on.
When a slave market is erected, which is a market in which are sold slaves and sex-slaves, which are called in the Qur’an by the name milk al-yamin, “that which your right hands possess” [Koran 4:24]. This is a verse from the Qur’an which is still in force, and has not been abrogated. The milk al-yamin are the sex-slaves. You go to the market, look at the sex-slave, and buy her. She becomes like your wife, (but) she doesn’t need a (marriage) contract or a divorce like a free woman, nor does she need a wali. All scholars agree on this point—there is no disagreement from any of them. [...] When I want a sex slave, I just go to the market and choose the woman I like and purchase her.
There is a real “War on Women” going on, but it has nothing to do with forcing American employers to subsidize abortifacients…
Whoa. Edgy site Vice News managed to place an embed with the Islamic State (AKA ISIS). That’s sort of like Playboy managing to embed a reporter with the Viet Cong in 1968.
Here are the five video segments, which I’m still working my way through:
It appears to be legit, but I’d still take it with a few (or more) grains of salt.
Hat tip: Michael Totten.)