President Obama’s 2014 State of the Union Address

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 30th, 2014

Politics 101

Democrats offered Enthusiastic Applause for Unsound Policy Proposals that have no Basis in Reality

President Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address was a little longer than an hour.  But if you didn’t look at a clock it felt a lot longer.  For it was the same tripe you hear all the time from this administration.  And the political left.  It was full of misleading statements.  Inaccurate facts and figures.  And some lies.  The usual stuff you expect from the liberal left.  But what was really disturbing was the enthusiastic applause for some really unsound policy proposals that have no basis in reality.  Showing either how clueless these enthusiastic Democrats are about economics, business, national security, etc.  Or how amoral they are in their quest for power.  As they judge and implement policy not by how it will improve the lives of Americans.  But how it will improve their lives in government.

Some Big Reasons why Businesses export Jobs are Taxes, Regulations and Labor Costs

If there was ever an example of what people not to have in power this state of the union theater was it.  Following are excerpts from President Obama’s speech (see FULL TRANSCRIPT: Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address posted 1/28/2014 on The Washington Post).  Comments and analysis follow each excerpt.

And here are the results of your efforts: the lowest unemployment rate in over five years; a rebounding housing market — (applause) — a manufacturing sector that’s adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s — (applause) — more oil produced — more oil produced at home than we buy from the rest of the world, the first time that’s happened in nearly twenty years — (applause) — our deficits cut by more than half; and for the first time — (applause) — for the first time in over a decade, business leaders around the world have declared that China is no longer the world’s number one place to invest; America is.

The total number of people who left the civilian labor force since President Obama took office is 11,301,000 (see The BLS Employment Situation Summary for December 2013 posted 1/13/2014 on PITHOCRATES).  Which means the unemployment rate is meaningless.  The only reason why it’s falling is that the BLS doesn’t count unemployed people who gave up looking for jobs that just aren’t there.  Oil production on private land may be up.  While overall oil consumption is down because of the Great Recession that just won’t end.  Which is helping to keep gas prices down.  Unemployed people just don’t have the money to buy gas.  So they don’t.  Greatly reducing the demand for gas.  Thus reducing gas prices and oil imports.  George W. Bush’s last deficit was $498.37 billion.  President Obama’s first deficit was $1,539.22 billion.  And it was over $1 trillion in 2010, 2011 and 2012.  It fell to $680 billion in 2013 thanks to the sequester.  But the deficit is larger now than when President Obama assumed office.  The only reduction in the deficit is a reduction in the amount he increased it.

Now, as president, I’m committed to making Washington work better, and rebuilding the trust of the people who sent us here.

Really?  You’re committed to rebuilding the trust of the people?  Mr. “If you like your health insurance you can keep your health insurance.  Period.”  Otherwise known as the lie of the year.  You’re going to rebuild the trust of the people?  Good luck with that.  What with your pants on fire and all.

Today, after four years of economic growth, corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better. But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled. The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by; let alone to get ahead. And too many still aren’t working at all.

Well, finally something Republicans can agree with the president about.  Yes, his economic policies have benefitted Wall Street.  While hurting Main Street.  Finally some bipartisan agreement.

So let’s make that decision easier for more companies. Both Democrats and Republicans have argued that our tax code is riddled with wasteful, complicated loopholes that punish businesses investing here, and reward companies that keep profits abroad. Let’s flip that equation. Let’s work together to close those loopholes, end those incentives to ship jobs overseas, and lower tax rates for businesses that create jobs right here at home. (Cheers, applause.)

There are only a few reasons why businesses export jobs.  And the big three are taxes, regulations and labor costs.  The Obama administration wants to raise taxes.  They’ve increased regulatory costs.  And they support costly union labor.  So everything they stand for encourages businesses to export jobs.

But — but I’ll act on my own to slash bureaucracy and streamline the permitting process for key projects, so we can get more construction workers on the job as fast as possible. (Applause.)

So how’s that approval for the Keystone XL pipeline coming along?  That thing you’ve been studying since 2010?  Which by the laws of arithmetic is approximately 4 years ago.  Is this slashing bureaucracy and streamlining the permitting process?  At this rate it would probably be quicker to elect a Republican president in 2016.  You know, someone who, when it comes to economic activity, walks it while the Democrats only talk it.

We also have the chance, right now, to beat other countries in the race for the next wave of high-tech manufacturing jobs. And my administration’s launched two hubs for high-tech manufacturing in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Youngstown, Ohio, where we’ve connected businesses to research universities that can help America lead the world in advanced technologies.

Universities are in the grant business.  They want as many grants as they can get to help bring money into the university.  And to do so they will study anything the government wants them to.  No matter how wasteful it is.  While some of the biggest high-tech companies started in garages.  Apple, Google, Hewlett Packard and Microsoft.  To name a few.  Yes, there is a lot of university-driven research.  But the big innovation is more entrepreneurial.  Created by people thinking up new stuff no one thought of yet.  Which is the last thing you want government involved in.  That same government that can’t build a website using 1990s technology.

Let’s do more to help the entrepreneurs and small business owners who create most new jobs in America. Over the past five years, my administration has made more loans to small business owners than any other. And when 98 percent of our exporters are small businesses, new trade partnerships with Europe and the Asia-Pacific will help them create even more jobs. We need to work together on tools like bipartisan trade promotion authority to protect our workers, protect our environment and open new markets to new goods stamped “Made in the USA.” (Applause.)

You want to help entrepreneurs and small business?  Get rid of Obamacare.  And slash tax rates.  This will provide incentive.  And allow them to reinvest more of their earnings to grow their business.  Allowing them to create those jobs.

Now, one of the biggest factors in bringing more jobs back is our commitment to American energy. The “all the above” energy strategy I announced a few years ago is working, and today America is closer to energy independence than we have been in decades. (Applause.)

‘All of the above’ as long as it isn’t coal, oil or nuclear.  But if it’s solar power and wind power they are committed to giving more tax dollars to their friends and bundlers in the green energy industry.

Meanwhile, my administration will keep working with the industry to sustain production and jobs growth while strengthening protection of our air, our water, our communities. And while we’re at it, I’ll use my authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations. (Applause.)

You can’t sustain production and jobs growth by strengthening protection of our air, water and pristine federal lands.  That’s just more regulatory costs.  And raising energy costs by not allowing any oil or natural gas production on those pristine federal lands.  Raising energy costs by restricting supply.  Which raises business costs.  In addition to those new regulatory costs.

Every four minutes another American home or business goes solar, every panel pounded into place by a worker whose job can’t be outsourced. Let’s continue that progress with a smarter tax policy that stops giving $4 billion a year to fossil fuel industries that don’t need it so we can invest more in fuels of the future that do. (Cheers, applause.)

That says it all.  Fossil fuels don’t need subsidies because their costs are affordable.  While solar (and wind power) are so costly that they are unaffordable.  Unless government heavily subsidizes them.

But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. (Applause.) And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did. (Cheers, applause.)

There is no such thing as settled science.  Only science that has yet to be disproved.  Besides, once upon a time glaciers stretched down from the poles to near the equator.  And then receded back to where they are now.  All without any manmade carbon in the atmosphere to warm the planet.  As we were still simple hunter and gatherers then.  So if the glaciers moved more before there was manmade global warming they’ll move again regardless of what man is doing to warm the planet.

Finally, if we’re serious about economic growth, it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, law enforcement — and fix our broken immigration system. (Cheers, applause.) Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have acted, and I know that members of both parties in the House want to do the same. Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades. And for good reason: When people come here to fulfill their dreams — to study, invent, contribute to our culture — they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everybody. So let’s get immigration reform done this year. (Cheers, applause.) Let’s get it done. It’s time.

Funny how that argument doesn’t apply to birth control and abortion.  The reason we need to “fix our broken immigration system.”  For if we were having babies at the rate when government created the welfare state we could pay for that welfare state today.  But thanks to the Sixties, birth control, abortion and feminism women stopped having babies.  Which is fine if a woman doesn’t want to.  But the progressives designed the welfare state based on them being baby machines.  Creating a greater number of taxpayers with each generation.  So more people pay into the welfare state than collect from it.  The way it must be for a Ponzi scheme to work.

That’s why I’ve been asking CEOs to give more long-term unemployed workers a fair shot at new jobs, a new chance to support their families. And in fact, this week many will come to the White House to make that commitment real.

When you raise the cost of labor (union labor, Obamacare, etc.) businesses tend to look at automating production instead of hiring that costly labor.  They may not be able to do anything about the higher regulatory costs but they can do something about higher labor costs.  Use more machines than people.  If you want CEOs to create new jobs stop making labor so costly.  And you can start with getting rid of Obamacare.

Of course, it’s not enough to train today’s workforce. We also have to prepare tomorrow’s workforce, by guaranteeing every child access to a world-class education. (Applause.)…

Five years ago we set out to change the odds for all our kids. We worked with lenders to reform student loans, and today more young people are earning college degrees than ever before. Race to the Top, with the help of governors from both parties, has helped states raise expectations and performance. Teachers and principals in schools from Tennessee to Washington, D.C., are making big strides in preparing students with the skills for the new economy — problem solving, critical thinking, science, technology, engineering, math.

Yes, more kids are going to college than ever before.  But they’re going there to have fun.  And to facilitate their fun many are getting easy, worthless degrees in the social sciences and humanities.  Costly degrees that universities sold them promising them future riches.  Enriching the university.  While impoverishing their graduates.  For a high-tech company has no use for these degrees.  Which is why a lot of these people end up in jobs they didn’t need that costly degree to do.  And our high-tech companies are using the visa program to get foreigners who have the skills they want.  Problem solving, critical thinking, science, technology, engineering and math.

It requires everything from more challenging curriculums and more demanding parents to better support for teachers and new ways to measure how well our kids think, not how well they can fill in a bubble on a test. But it is worth it — and it is working.

If you want kids to do better we need to champion marriage and family more.  And they should embrace religion a little more.  Instead of encouraging our young women to use birth control and abortion to avoid marriage and family.  And pulling every last vestige of religion from our lives.  Kids growing up in a household with a mother and a father who go to church do far better on average than kids growing up in a single-parent household and don’t go to church (see Strong families steeped in Conservative Values and Traditions do Well in America posted 1/11/2014 on PITHOCRATES).

Research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high-quality early education. (Applause.) Last year, I asked this Congress to help states make high-quality pre-K available to every 4-year-old. And as a parent as well as a president, I repeat that request tonight.

Actually, research doesn’t show that.  Yet they keep saying that.  For it’s like that line in the musical Evita, “Get them while they’re young, Evita.  Get them while they’re young.”  The sooner they can take them away from their parents the sooner they can start turning them into Democrat voters.  Such as teaching them to blame their parents for the manmade global warming that is killing the polar bears as they have no ice to rest on while eating their baby seals.

You know, today, women make up about half our workforce, but they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment.

Women deserve equal pay for equal work. (Cheers, applause.)

Actually, it’s closer to 91 cents (see The White House’s use of data on the gender wage gap by Glenn Kessler posted 6/5/2012 on The Washington Post).  And the small difference is not due to discrimination but personal choice.  When you look at aggregate wages women will make less than men.  Because more women are teachers (with 3 month off without pay) than men are.  Some women work fewer hours at work to spend more time with their children. While men tend to work more overtime.  Men also work the more dangerous and higher paying jobs.  And are more likely to belong to a union.  When you compare childless, single men and women with a college degree some women are actually earning more than men.  Figures don’t lie but liars figure.  And for the contortions the Obama administration did here The Washington Post’s The Fact Checker gave the president one Pinocchio.

Now, women hold a majority of lower-wage jobs, but they’re not the only ones stifled by stagnant wages. Americans understand that some people will earn more money than others, and we don’t resent those who, by virtue of their efforts, achieve incredible success. That’s what America’s all about. But Americans overwhelmingly agree that no one who works full-time should ever have to raise a family in poverty. (Applause.)

In the year since I asked this Congress to raise the minimum wage, five states have passed laws to raise theirs.

You’re not going to have a lot of upward mobility when you pay people more to remain in the jobs they hate.  All the talk about making college more affordable and bringing employers and community colleges together to help give people the skills they need to fill the jobs employers have is all for nothing if they just pay people more for doing an entry-level job.

Let’s do more to help Americans save for retirement. Today most workers don’t have a pension. A Social Security check often isn’t enough on its own. And while the stock market has doubled over the last five years, that doesn’t help folks who don’t have 401(k)s. That’s why tomorrow I will direct the Treasury to create a new way for working Americans to start their own retirement savings: MyRA. It’s a — it’s a new savings bond that encourages folks to build a nest egg.

Once upon a time people opened a savings account at their local bank and they saved to buy a house.  And they saved for their retirement.  That’s how people saved when they didn’t have a pension or a 401(k).  They can’t do that today because of the Federal Reserve destroying the banking industry by keeping interest rates at zero.  If the Fed stopped printing money and let investment capital come from our savings like they did before the Keynesians gave us the Federal Reserve people would be saving like we once did.  And we’d stop having Great Depressions, stagflation and Great Recessions.  Created by their prolonging the growth side of the business cycle.  Which raises prices higher than they normally would go.  Making the contraction side of the business cycle that much more painful.  As those prices have a much longer way to fall than they normally would.  Thanks to the Fed’s meddling with interest rates.

MyRA guarantees a decent return with no risk of losing what you put in. And if this Congress wants to help, work with me to fix an upside-down tax code that gives big tax breaks to help the wealthy save, but does little or nothing for middle-class Americans, offer every American access to an automatic IRA on the job, so they can save at work just like everybody in this chamber can.

You know why they want these MyRAs?  Because they can’t stand people saving money.  They love Social Security.  Because they can borrow from the Social Security Trust Fund.  Which is what they will do with these MyRAs.  They will take this money and spend it.  Filling the MyRA Trust Fund with a bunch of IOUs.  Just like they do with the Social Security Trust Fund.  And then provide a retirement benefit like Social Security.  That is too small to live on.  Whereas if we saved the money ourselves our retirement nest-egg will be much larger.  And it will provide for our retirement.  Unlike Social Security.

And since the most important investment many families make is their home, send me legislation that protects taxpayers from footing the bill for a housing crisis ever again, and keeps the dream of homeownership alive for future generations. (Applause.)

It was Bill Clinton that set the stage for the subprime mortgage crisis with his Policy Statement on Discrimination in Lending (see Bill Clinton created the subprime mortgage crisis with his Policy Statement on Discrimination in Lending posted 11/6/2011 on PITHOCRATES).  Using the heavy hand of government to get lenders to qualify the unqualified.  Then the Fed’s artificially low interest rates were the bait for the trap.  Enticing people to borrow huge sums of money because those interest rates were just too good to pass up.  Even if they weren’t planning to buy a house to begin with. The subprime mortgage crisis and the resulting Great Recession were government made.  If we want to prevent the taxpayers from footing the bill for another housing crisis we need to get the Keynesians out of government.

Already, because of the Affordable Care Act, more than 3 million Americans under age 26 have gained coverage under their parents’ plans. (Applause.)

More than 9 million Americans have signed up for private health insurance or Medicaid coverage — 9 million. (Applause.)

The Washington Post gave this lie three Pinocchios (see Warning: Ignore claims that 3.9 million people signed up for Medicaid because of Obamacare by Glenn Kessler posted 1/16/2014 on The Washington Post).  For they’re counting some 3.9 million who would have signed up anyway for Medicaid regardless of the Affordable Care Act.  Also, the government was counting people who put a health care plan into their shopping cart as if they signed up for it.  Which many couldn’t.  As they haven’t programmed the back end of the health care website yet to actually accept payment or to pass that information on to the insurers.

And here’s another number: zero. Because of this law, no American, none, zero, can ever again be dropped or denied coverage for a pre-existing condition like asthma or back pain or cancer. (Cheers, applause.) No woman can ever be charged more just because she’s a woman. (Cheers, applause.) And we did all this while adding years to Medicare’s finances, keeping Medicare premiums flat and lowering prescription costs for millions of seniors.

That’s right.  Women with reproductive systems that men don’t have won’t pay more for their health insurance than men pay for theirs.  How can they do that?  Simple.  They just are charging men more.  To cover the cost of a reproductive system they don’t have.

Citizenship means standing up for the lives that gun violence steals from us each day. I have seen the courage of parents, students, pastors, and police officers all over this country who say “we are not afraid,” and I intend to keep trying, with or without Congress, to help stop more tragedies from visiting innocent Americans in our movie theaters and our shopping malls, or schools like Sandy Hook. (Applause.)

If you take away guns from law-abiding gun owners that won’t keep dangerous people with mental health issues that want to harm people out of our movie theaters, our shopping malls or schools like Sandy Hook.  For there are other ways to harm people.  Just look at the Boston Marathon bombers.  The people he’s talking about not only had mental health issues but they were also smart.  Many were even college students.  Who probably could think of other ways to hurt people.  And you just can’t take away everything they might use to harm people.  But you can place these people somewhere where they can’t harm anyone.

You see, in a world of complex threats, our security, our leadership depends on all elements of our power — including strong and principled diplomacy. American diplomacy has rallied more than 50 countries to prevent nuclear materials from falling into the wrong hands, and allowed us to reduce our own reliance on Cold War stockpiles.

Since President Obama assumed office he did nothing to support the Green Revolution in Iran.  Which kept the hard-line Islamists in power there.  He gave Egypt to the Muslim Brotherhood by telling Hosni Mubarak that he had to go.  Removing the stable anchor of the Middle East.  And moved Egypt closer to Iran.  (The Egyptian people eventually rose up to overthrow the oppressive Muslim Brotherhood).  He went to war in Libya and helped to overthrow Colonel Muammar Qaddafi.  Who at the time was a quasi ally in the War on Terror.  After the Iraq invasion frightened him into believing he may be next.  President Obama was thanked for his Libyan war by al Qaeda with 4 dead Americans in Benghazi on the anniversary of 9/11.  He waited too long to act in the Syrian civil war.  Which only brought al Qaeda into the conflict.  He failed to attain a status of forces agreement in Iraq.  So he pulled all U.S. forces out of Iraq which has only invited al Qaeda in.  And it looks like this will be repeated in Afghanistan.  He blamed George W. Bush’s wars as recruitment tools for al Qaeda.  While his extensive drone use is doing the same thing.  Especially in Yemen.  The hotbed of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.  All that his diplomacy and leadership has done was to make the world a more dangerous place.

American diplomacy, backed by the threat of force, is why Syria’s chemical weapons are being eliminated. (Applause.) And we will continue to work with the international community to usher in the future the Syrian people deserve — a future free of dictatorship, terror and fear.

His diplomacy with Bashar al-Assad in Syria only gave his oppressive regime legitimacy in the civil war he was raging against his people.  Making it easier for Assad to kill Syrians with conventional arms while he gives up a token amount of his chemical weapons.  While also making Russia who brokered the deal the dominate player in the region.

And it is American diplomacy, backed by pressure, that has halted the progress of Iran’s nuclear program — and rolled back parts of that program — for the very first time in a decade. As we gather here tonight, Iran has begun to eliminate its stockpile of higher levels of enriched uranium.

It’s not installing advanced centrifuges. Unprecedented inspections help the world verify every day that Iran is not building a bomb. And with our allies and partners, we’re engaged in negotiations to see if we can peacefully achieve a goal we all share: preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. (Applause.)

All Iran is doing is pausing their program.  And chemically altering some of their enriched uranium to meet the requirements of this diplomatic deal.  But this chemical process is reversible.  And they will reverse it once they get what they want.  This deal makes the world no safer.  If anything it makes it more dangerous.  For it does not diminish the Iranian nuclear program in the least.  But gives them more time to work on it as they prop up their regime with much needed supplies thanks to a relaxation of the sanctions against them.

These negotiations will be difficult; they may not succeed. We are clear-eyed about Iran’s support for terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, which threaten our allies; and we’re clear about the mistrust between our nations, mistrust that cannot be wished away. But these negotiations don’t rely on trust; any long-term deal we agree to must be based on verifiable action that convinces us and the international community that Iran is not building a nuclear bomb. If John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan could negotiate with the Soviet Union, then surely a strong and confident America can negotiate with less powerful adversaries today. (Applause.)

The sanctions that we put in place helped make this opportunity possible. But let me be clear: if this Congress sends me a new sanctions bill now that threatens to derail these talks, I will veto it. (Applause.) For the sake of our national security, we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed.

The Soviet Union never attacked U.S. soil.  And there was a reason they didn’t.  They were rational.  And knew they would lose a great deal in a war with America.  Especially a nuclear one.  Which is why they never used their nuclear weapons.  But Iran giving a nuclear weapon to a shadowy group that is not a state?  With little to lose in using a nuclear weapon?  If it’s not a nuclear missile there will be no way in knowing where the nuclear bomb came from.  We can have our suspicions that Iran made it and gave it to someone.  But do we nuke Iran over that?  What if there are more nukes in the hands of al Qaeda, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, etc.?  You could nuke Iran back to the Stone Age but it won’t stop those others being used.  The president insists this will not happen as Iran signed an agreement.  The only problem with that is the Iranians are liars.  And they call the United States the Great Satan.   These two facts suggest that replacing those sanctions with a promise not to build nuclear bombs was probably not a wise trade.

But for more than two hundred years, we have put those things aside and placed our collective shoulder to the wheel of progress: to create and build and expand the possibilities of individual achievement; to free other nations from tyranny and fear; to promote justice and fairness and equality under the law, so that the words set to paper by our founders are made real for every citizen.

Use our collective shoulder to expand individual achievement?  The president believes in the former more than the latter.  He didn’t help the Iranians get free from tyranny when he had the chance.  And he turned the Egyptian people over to tyranny.  The Muslim Brotherhood.  Who were oppressing women and Christians.  Fairness and equality under the law?  Ask those Tea Party groups who were targeted by the IRS about fairness and equality under the law.  The Constitution?  That document of negative rights?  The left hates it.  And insists it’s a living document that can evolve over time to suit the needs of an expanding government.  So they can do exactly what the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution to prevent from happening.

The Left endorses Unsound Policy Proposals with no Basis in Reality to improve their Chances of Winning Elections

The country is more conservative than liberal (see Liberal Self-Identification Edges Up to New High in 2013 by Jeffrey M. Jones posted 1/10/2014 on Gallup).  Which is why liberals want state-funded pre-K to start indoctrinating our children as soon as possible.  To get them away from their parents so they can begin the process of turning them into Democrat voters.  It’s why kids are getting worthless social science and humanities degrees.  To further indoctrinate them.  Because their views are minority views.  So they need to play loose with the facts.  And lie.  Which is easier to do with indoctrinated kids than educated adults.  You’ll even hear Democrats talk about lowering the voting age.  To get a few more years of voting out of these kids before they grow old and wise.  And begin voting conservative.  So they do what they can to dumb down education.  Lie.  Cheat.  And buy as many votes as they can by giving away free stuff.  And the thing they really want to give away is citizenship for illegal aliens.  Who they are sure will be forever grateful.  And show it by voting Democrat.

This explains the enthusiastic applause for unsound policy proposals that have no basis in reality.  For the left is not interested in improving the lives of Americans.  They just want to improve their chances of winning elections.

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The Syrian Rebels tell us what they think about the Russians by firing a Mortar on their Embassy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 22nd, 2013

Week in Review

President Obama warned the Syrian regime that if they use chemical weapons that they will have crossed a red line.  And if they did the president warned the Assad government that he would be indecisive and dither.  Well, someone used chemical weapons.  And the president true to form was indecisive and dithered.  Until the Russians stepped in.  And told the world that they would take care of everything so the Syrian regime does not use chemical weapons against the rebel forces again.  Something that was guaranteed to please all parties concerned (see Mortar fired at Russian embassy in Damascus by Associated Press posted 9/22/213 on The Guardian).

A mortar round landed in the Russian embassy compound in Damascus on Sunday, Syria’s state news agency said. There was no immediate report of casualties.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based activist group, reported that the embassy had been the target of several previous failed rocket attacks by rebels. Russia is a leading backer of Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president.

Guess the rebels don’t like the Russians as much as President Obama.  And probably won’t be pressing a ‘reset button’ any time soon.

It is rather ironic.  The country responsible for the brutal attacks by the Assad regime on the rebel forces—Russia—is the country President Obama has entrusted the safety of the rebels to.  In fact, there is a good chance Assad got his chemical weapons from the Russians to begin with.  At least those not gifted to him by Saddam Hussein on the eve of the Iraq War.

Way to go, President Obama.  That’s showing Assad and his sponsor.  Russia.  Telling them that if they don’t stop their brutal attacks on the opposition then he’ll have no choice but to help Assad and Russia win the Syrian civil war.  Your pull numbers may be falling here.  But Vladimir Putin must love you.  He doesn’t respect you but a former KGB officer couldn’t think of a better president to be in office during Russia’s ascendancy to past Soviet domination.

Who would have ever imagined that when Hillary Clinton pressed that reset button with the Russians it would take things back to like they were during the Cold War?

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The Soviet Union, Cold War, Middle East, Egypt and Syria

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 12th, 2013

Politics 101

Once the Soviet People experienced Communism they discovered they did not like Communism

The Soviet people won World War II.  For no matter how many Soviets the Nazis killed on the Eastern Front they just kept coming.  The Nazis killed 10 Soviets for each Nazi the Soviets killed.  But it wasn’t enough.  They slowed down the Nazi war machine.  Then the rains came.  Then the Russian winter.  Slowing them down at the gates of Moscow.  And stopping them in Stalingrad.  Halting the Nazi advance.  And turning the tide in the war.

The Nazis were brutal to the Soviet people.  Following the Wehrmacht into the Soviet Union was the Einsatzgruppen.  Mobile killing squads.  To do what the death camps did later.  Hitler wanted the Russian land for food.  And its resources.  But he didn’t want the Soviet people.  Except those he could use for forced-labor.  That’s how cruel the Nazis were to the Soviets.  Which wasn’t necessary to topple the Soviet regime.  For the Soviet people would have embraced the invading Nazis as liberators.

Once the Soviet people had experienced communism following the Russian Revolution they discovered that they did not like communism.  There were shortages of everything.  And brutal state oppression.  Which a communist state needs.  For if they don’t oppress their people they may challenge the regime.  Or try to escape.  So it was Hitler’s brutality that allowed the Allies to defeat Nazi Germany.  For it was only his brutality that made the Soviets rally around the Soviet state that they hated just as much at the time of the Nazi invasion.

The Russian Naval Facility in Tartus is the only Remaining Naval Facility outside of the Former Soviet Union

The Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, was a cruel man.  When it comes to killing your own people he tops the list in the sheer numbers killed.  He’s right there with another communist dictator.  Mao Zedong of the People’s Republic of China.  But when it comes to killing the largest percentage of your own people the communist Pol Pot of Cambodia tops that list.  So communist states are cruel and serious offenders of human rights.  With Joseph Stalin being the cruelest and the greatest offender of them all.  The man was as evil as Adolf Hitler.  But you know who admired Stalin?  Vladimir Putin.  The Russian president.

Vladimir Putin is former KGB.  That’s the secret police that put the fear of God into the Soviet people.  They did what the Gestapo did to Germans in Nazi Germany.  All powerful and above the law they could do anything to the ordinary Soviet.  And did.  Those in power liked it that way.  Vladimir Putin admired the Soviet Union.  And thought its collapse was the greatest tragedy of the 20th century.

Following World War II the Soviet Union started adding countries to the Soviet sphere.  Eastern Europe.  North Korea.  North Vietnam.  Cuba.  And countries in the Middle East.  Including Egypt.  And Syria.  Where Russia still has a naval base.  The Russian naval facility in Tartus.  Established in 1971.  And is the only remaining Russian naval facility outside of the former Soviet Union.

Since the Fall of the Soviet Union Vladimir Putin has wanted to make Russia a Superpower Again

Israel is an American ally.  During the Cold War the Soviet Union used this to agitate the Arab states into the Soviet sphere.  The Soviets fomented radical Islam in the Arab states.  To extend their hatred of Jewish Israel to the Judeo-Christian United States.  Ally and sponsor of Israel.  Christian Crusaders.  And the Soviets were successful.  They had Egypt.  And Syria.  Who fought Israel in the Six Day War (1967).  And again in the Yom Kippur War (1973).  A hot war in the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States.

Then a dark period followed for the Soviet Union.  Egypt swapped their alliance from the Soviet Union to the United States.  And the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.  When Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat made peace with Israel.  Breaking up the great anti-Israel alliance that it worked so hard to promote.  A devastating 1-2 body blow for the Soviets.  Allowing their Cold War adversary greater hegemony in the Middle East.  Tipping the balance of power in the Cold War.  Which the Americans went on to win.

This is history Vladimir Putin did not much care for.  Ever since the fall of the Soviet Union this former KGB officer wanted one thing.  To make Russia a superpower again.  He’s helping the Iranians with their nuclear program.  And he’s supporting Assad in Syria.  Bringing these Middle East nations into the Russian sphere.  Outside of the American sphere.  This history puts the politics of the Russian offer to take Syria’s chemical weapons into a different light.  For that offer comes with the caveat that there shall be no U.S. military action against Assad.  In other words, we will punish the Assad regime for using chemical weapons by helping it.  And will help the opposition in their fight against the Assad regime by strengthening its enemy.  To return to the status quo.  A Syria strongly allied to Russia and Iran.  Growing Russian hegemony in the Middle East.  And an America in decline on the world stage.

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Human Rights Violations are Worse in North Korea but Liberals would rather punish Syria for Theirs

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 7th, 2013

Week in Review

The Syrian civil war began in March of 2011.  And is still ongoing.  Some two and a half years later.  And over 100,000 killed.  While displacing close to 3 million refugees.  It is a devastating conflict.  But President Obama made no attempt to help the opposition topple the Assad government.  Despite it being a close ally of Iran.  No, President Obama did nothing to intervene just as he chose to sit out Iran’s Green Revolution.  Another regime that can be pretty cruel to its people.  Yet President Obama told Hosni Mubarak that he had to leave Egypt.  And he used U.S. airpower to help topple Colonel Gaddafi from power in Libya.  Both men were U.S. allies at the time when President Obama helped unseat them from power.  Yet two countries that can’t be considered friends of the United States in any way (Iran and Syria) he does nothing.  Odd.

The Syrian civil war has been going on for so long that al Qaeda joined in.  Looking to fill that power vacuum should the Assad regime fall.  As the civil war intensified and the opposition begged for foreign aid President Obama stood firm.  Not wishing to get involved.  Unless the Syrians crossed the red line.  And used chemical weapons.  Well, someone used chemical weapons.  We’re not sure who did.  It may well have been the opposition to get the U.S. to bomb a stubborn Assad government out of power.  But people died from the use of chemical weapons.  Perhaps as many as 1,500.  Of which about 500 have been children.  A tragedy too great to even contemplate.  And one that made President Obama go to Congress to get permission to wage war on those responsible.  With many on the left supporting his call for a military response.  Which is highly unusual to say the least.

Now chemical weapons are horrible and frightening.  But an additional 1,500 dead after 100,000 already lost their lives?  Those chemical deaths are only about 1.5% of the total dead.  When Saddam Hussein killed 3,200-5,000 Kurds and Iranians in a Chemical attack on the town of Halabja there wasn’t quite the same response from the left.  In fact, when Saddam Hussein failed to document the destruction of his chemical stock piles per the treaty that ended the Gulf War they still showed little concern.  Though they did vote to give George W. Bush permission to wage war against Iraq as the polls showed they were on the wrong side of the issue when they at first opposed the measure.  Even calling for a second vote to get their vote on the record.  But when no weapons of mass destruction were found they were both embarrassed and elated.  Saying that Bush lied to get the country into war.  Due to flawed intelligence reports.  And a strong desire to go to war.  To finish what his dad started in the Gulf War.  They have attacked Bush mercilessly ever since.  But now the shoe is on the other foot.  And here they are wanting to go to war because of weapons of mass destruction.  Many of which could be from Iraq.  Delivered on trucks seen leaving Iraqi weapons dumps on the eve of war.  Or flown to Syria (see Syria’s Chemical Weapons Came From Saddam’s Iraq posted 7/19/2013 on IBD).

But none of that matters now.  What does is that someone in Syria crossed the red line.  And because innocent men, women and children died from poison gas we have to do something.  Even though we haven’t done a damn thing to help people suffering under worse tyrants for about half a century in North Korea (see Up to 20,000 North Korean prison camp inmates have ‘disappeared’ says human rights group by Julian Ryall posted 9/5/2013 on The Telegraph).

There are fears that up to 20,000 may have been allowed to die of disease or starvation in the run-up to the closure of the camp at the end of last year…

The report, North Korea’s Hidden Gulag: Interpreting Reports of Changes in the Prison Camps, reveals that two camps have been shut down in the last year but that 130,000 individuals are still being held in penal labour colonies across the country.

“Through this vast system of unlawful imprisonment, the North Korean regime isolates, banishes, punishes and executes those suspected of being disloyal to the regime,” the report states.

“They are deemed ‘wrong-thinkers’, ‘wrong-doers’, or those who have acquired ‘wrong-knowledge’ or have engaged in ‘wrong-associations’…”

Reports suggest that a severe food shortage meant that little was passed on to inmates and that numbers dwindled rapidly from 30,000 to 3,000…

“North Korea’s 2009 currency devaluation (whereby camp authorities were reportedly unable to purchase food in markets to supplement the crops grown in the camps), combined with bad harvests, resulted in the death of large numbers of prisoners after 2010,” the report states…

Inmates – who can be imprisoned for life, along with three generations of their families, for anything deemed to be critical of the regime – are forced to survive by eating frogs, rats and picking corn kernels out of animal waste.

Activists say that as many as 40 percent of inmates die of malnutrition, while others succumb to disease, sexual violence, torture, abuse by the guards or are worked to death. Men, women and children are required to work for up to 16 hours a day in dangerous conditions, often in mines or logging camps.

Things are bad in Syria.  But North Korea has just about the poorest record on humans rights in the world.  And this has been going on for decades.  You almost have to go back to Nazi Germany to see oppression on this scale.  But do we attack North Korea?  More women and children have suffered and died in North Korea than they have in Syria.  So why Syria and not North Korea?

North Korea does have nuclear weapons.  And a border with China.  Are these the things that eliminate principles?  Killing women and children is wrong in Syria but it’s okay in North Korea?  Is this all it takes to devalue the lives of women and children?  If so God help the women and children of the Middle East when Iran gets their nuclear weapons.

A lot of liberals hate the military.  And jocks.  As these people bullied a lot of liberals back in high school.  Which is why a lot of them go into government.  To have power over other people that they never had before.  But they’re still that kid in high school.  They’ll push around Egypt and Libya when it seems everyone in the area is against them.  Nations they feel they can bully without any repercussions.  But an Iran or a North Korea?  That’s like walking up to and punching the big bully in high school.  Something they were too frightened to do in High School.  And are still too frightened to do now.

Except in Syria.  Which is now more of a religious conflict along the great Sunni-Shia divide of Islam.  With the extreme elements of both sides fighting it out in Syria.  Perhaps this is why the president and the left are willing to intervene now.  Because whoever wins now in Syria will likely be anti-American.  Just like Libya turned out with four dead Americans in Benghazi.  And just like Egypt fell to the Muslim Brotherhood after President Obama told Hosni Mubarak he had to go.  Perhaps they’ll feel safer because they helped our enemies a little.  And because of that our enemies will now like us.  And they will stop giving us wedgies and noogies.  Figuratively, of course.

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Salafists, Jihadists and other Islamist Extremists are Joining the Syrian Rebels

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 14th, 2012

Week in Review

During the Democrat National Convention two of the main themes were that GM is alive.  And Osama bin Laden is dead.  Over and over they hammered home how President Obama killed Osama bin Laden.  No doubt angering the Islamist world with excessive spiking of the Osama bin Laden football.  The only thing the president didn’t do was some taunting end zone dance.  And an ‘In your face, al Qaeda” from the president to the Islamist extremist world.  The president wanted to sound tough to dispel rumors that he’s too soft on national security.  So they made it clear to the people watching the Democrat National Convention, and to the world, that President Obama killed Osama bin Laden.

Shortly after this terrorists killed the American ambassador in Benghazi on the anniversary of 9/11.  Was there a connection?  Well, the Islamist extremists hated America to begin with.  And rubbing the killing of Osama bin laden in their faces probably didn’t help soften their seething hatred of Americans.  It may have played a part.  But being that it was on 9/11 and they used heavy weapons suggests that the attack was in the planning for awhile.  However the protests at embassies throughout the world following the Benghazi attack may have been inflamed by the spiking of the Osama bin Laden football.  Or the publicity of a YouTube video to blame the violence in Benghazi on that people in the Islamic world did not even see until the Obama administration brought it to their attention.

Of course, this Islamist reaction completely baffles the Obama administration.  For they have gone out of their way to be nice to these people that hate us.  When there were protests against our staunch ally in Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, President Obama was quick to call for Mubarak to step down from power.  At the beginning of the Arab Spring.  Yes, he was a dictator.  Like most are in that region.  But he was a dictator that promoted regional stability.  That suppressed Islamist extremism.  Kept Iran in its place.  Prevented the flow of arms to Hamas in the Gaza Strip.  Made the Suez Canal safe for all shipping.  Kept the anti-Western Muslim Brotherhood out of power.  And made it safe for Western tourists to travel to Egypt.  But President Obama said Mubarak had to go.  He did not help him.  Did not try to broker a peace deal leaving him in power.  Or one with Mubarak in exile to live out his life.  So Mubarak stepped down.  The Muslim Brotherhood stepped up.  They threw open their border with the Gaza strip.  And talked about abandoning their peace treaty with Israel.  Causing great instability in the region.

When Libya erupted in civil war the Obama administration supported the rebels.  Even though no one knew who the rebels were.  Other than including members of al Qaeda.  Libya was no longer an active enemy of the United States.  And not even a major oil supplier to the United States.  They had even begun to clamp down on Islamist extremists in their country following the US invasion of Iraq.  Yet we supported the rebels with US air power.  Because if we didn’t the war could spill over their borders.  Leading to Libyans fleeing their country and causing a humanitarian crisis.

The Assad regime in Syria was not a friend of the US.  Saddam Hussein may have hidden his chemical weapons in Syria when the US invaded Iraq.  They are a supporter of terrorism.  A client of Iran.  They support Hezbollah in Lebanon.  So they are no friend to the US or regional peace.  Yet when they erupted in civil war the Obama administration did not help these rebels.  And the things they said would happen in Libya if they didn’t get involved there are happening in Syria.  And now because the US (as well as the international community) didn’t help the rebels someone else is (see Syria despatch: rebel fighters fear the growing influence of their ‘Bin Laden’ faction by Ruth Sherlock posted 10/13/2012 on The Telegraph).

Standing on a patch of muddy scrubland just inside Syria’s broken border fence with Turkey, the rebel commander watched glumly as the group of jihadists crossed into his country.

Scruffy, with long beards, some wearing khaki jackets and each clutching a black travel bag, the six men walked silently through the crowd of refugees who had assembled and were waiting to leave Syria. A driver in a pick-up truck quickly greeted the men and drove them away into the countryside.

“Libyans”, muttered the rebel Free Syria Army leader under his breath, shooting the men a dirty look. “We don’t want these extremist people here. Look at them; we didn’t have this style in Syria – who is this? Bin Laden?”

Even before President Bashar al-Assad has been defeated, a war within the civil war is brewing in Syria. It is a battle of ideas, a struggle for the overall direction of the insurgency that is pitting moderate-Muslims against Salafists, jihadists and other Islamist groups.

Syria’s most powerful Islamist brigades have united under a new “liberation front” to wage jihad against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and turn the country into an Islamic state.

President Obama’s foreign policy has not been much of a success.  In fact, he has made the Middle East, North Africa, the United States and the world a less safe place.  If he had purposely tried to help the Islamist extremist he probably could not have done a better job.  The Arab Spring was less about replacing dictatorships with democracy than replacing one kind of dictatorships with another.  A dictatorship of Islamist extremists.  Salafists, jihadists and other Islamist groups.

None of this is spontaneous.  And none of this had to do with a YouTube video.  Not even the spiking of the Osama bin Laden football.  But the spiking of the Osama bin Laden football is no doubt working as a recruiting tool to bring more jihadists into these extremist groups.

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No Arab Spring Democracy in Yemen yet, just All Out War

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 29th, 2011

Week in Review

Still no democracy in breaking out in the Arab Spring.  Just more violence.  And a preview of violence to come (see Yemen’s Embattled Government Calls Cease-Fire That So Far Fails to End Violence by LAURA KASINOF posted 10/25/2011 on The New York Times).

The northern part of the capital city has turned into a virtual war zone in recent days, and even as the government announced a cease-fire on Tuesday, explosions boomed across the city.

The failure to end the bloodshed was another sign that fighting has intensified between the nation’s elites, a dynamic that began to unfold when antigovernment protests began months ago, inadvertently aggravating longstanding rivalries between heavily armed groups. The largely peaceful protesters still camped out in the streets, calling for democracy, remain a vulnerable backdrop to an armed conflict that has defied resolution…

Then, The Associated Press reported that Mr. Saleh had met with the United States ambassador to discuss stepping down, a statement that, like the cease-fire announcement, may prove to lead nowhere.

Why would he step down?  Bashar al-Assad saw what happened to Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.  No exile.  Only jail.  If he’s lucky.  So Assad has no incentive to step down in Syria.  And neither does Saleh in Yemen.  Of course, if he doesn’t step down, the images of a dead Muammar Gaddafi must surely come to mind.

Also, if he’s talking to the Americans you just know that it won’t end well for him.  Because it hasn’t helped our other allies in the Middle East and North Africa.  Unless you call these countries going Islamist a good thing.  Lest you forget, the Islamists are the ones who have been trying to kill Americans and Jews wherever they can.

The Arab Spring is not being very good to America.  Or Israel, for that matter.

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The Arab Spring may be the Israeli Winter

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 15th, 2011

The Arab Spring may not be all Sunny and Bright

Before anyone tried to win Ben Stein’s money, he was a speechwriter for the Nixon administration.  And the Ford administration.  So Ben Stein is a pretty smart guy.  Though controversial at times.  And he’s been wrong on occasion.  Like about the subprime mortgage market in 2007.  He didn’t think there was a problem.  Of course, there was.  A big one.  Putting people into houses who couldn’t afford houses gave us the worst recession since the Great Depression.  Especially when all the derivatives backed by the subprime mortgages became worthless.  But that’s another story.

So he knows a thing or two about history.  Foreign policy.  And the Middle East.  Looking at what’s going on now in the Middle East, he’s not seeing the “Arab Spring” a lot of others are seeing (see Ben Stein: “Arab Spring” is a fraud by Ben Stein posted 5/15/2011 on CBS News).

First, the “Arab Spring” as a force for democracy, human rights and peace in Egypt seems to me to be a fraud.

The dictator and his entourage who were kicked out in Egypt were pro-West, a bit restrained on Israel, open to free enterprise, and resistant to Iranian-sponsored terror.

Egypt is now rapidly becoming anti-Israel, pro-Iran, pro the Iranian-sponsored terrorist group Hamas, and very far from being pro-human rights. They are arresting businessmen right and left in Egypt just for the crime of being successful. They have arrested Mubarak’s sons, and have said they plan to try Mubarak.

It would seem that their democracy movement is resulting in less democracy than they had under Mubarak‘s dictatorship.  Funny.  You’d thought it’d be the other way around.

The most potent of the political forces in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, hates the United States, loathes Israel, condemns the killing of bin Laden (whom they praised as a martyr), and have been wedded to terror for their entire existence.

Oh, P.S, they are closely connected with Adolph Hitler.

They will probably take over Egypt completely sooner or later.

So the worst political element is also the strongest political element.  Saudi Arabia rejected the offer to bury bin Laden in Saudi soil.  Perhaps if the U.S. asked the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt they would have accepted that offer.  Even built a shrine to honor this ‘martyr’.

Has anyone noticed that the common denominator of all the successful Arab street movements is that they are sympathetic to Iran? When the dust settles, Iran is going to own the Middle East – except for maybe Saudi Arabia, if we have the guts to help them (which I very much doubt).

We are going to lose our pals in Bahrain – not nice guys, but pals of the U.S.A. anyway – and we are going to lose our pals in Yemen, and it will possibly have an actual al Qaeda government.

There is a gigantic regional coup by Iran taking place. We are doing very little, if anything, to stop it.

Yes, Iran is everywhere in these movements.  Wherever there is a Shiite population they are there.  Supporting these democracy movements.  Of course, when Iranians put on a little democracy movement themselves, the Iranian government sees that differently.  And brutally suppresses it.  But they’re all for democracy.  Everywhere but in Iran.

We are going to regret helping the Egyptians kick out Mubarak as much as we regret helping Khomeini force out the Shah.

You can call it “Arab Spring” if you want. But with Iran now the regional superpower, it is a lot more like an extremely bleak Mideast winter.

The Egyptian policy of the Obama administration may prove to be the greatest blunder in U.S. history.  Losing Iran was big.  But it was one country.  If the U.S. loses Egypt, they may very well lose the Middle East.  And the first thing on the Muslim Brotherhood’s agenda when they ascend to power no doubt will involve Israel.  Who will be by then completely surrounded.  With a nuclear option.  Faced by an enemy that will no doubt also possess a nuclear option.  Thanks to the Iranian nuclear program.

An extremely bleak Mideast winter indeed.

Egypt becomes more Islamist

So how are things in Egypt these days?  How is that democracy working out for them?  Not bad.  As long as you’re not in the minority (see Egypt’s top Christian leader calls for end of sit-in after demonstrators attacked overnight by Associated Press posted 5/15/2011 on The Washington Post).

Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s population, have felt increasingly insecure since 18 days of street protests brought down Mubarak, who led the country for nearly 30 years until he was forced to resign on Feb. 11.

The Christians, many of whom are Coptic, have complained that the interim government and security forces have failed to protect them and have allowed extremist Islamic groups to attack with impunity.

Earlier this month, mobs of Muslims, apparently urged on by the ultraconservative Salafi sect of Islam, stormed the Virgin Mary Church in the Cairo neighborhood of Imbaba and set it ablaze. The attack was sparked by a rumor that a Christian woman planned to marry a Muslim, which some religious purists consider to be forbidden.

If Salafi Muslims are cracking down on Christians in Egypt, that can’t bode well for Israel.  Because the Jewish state of Israel is probably less popular with the ultraconservatives rising in Egypt than this Christian minority. 

Put yourself in Israel’s place.  And take a look at the map around you.  The Palestinian West Bank to the east.  Syria to the north. Lebanon to the north.  As well as Hezbollah.  And running down the Mediterranean coast you have the Gaza Strip.  Ruled by Hamas.  That borders Egypt.  Where ultraconservative Salafi Islamists are attacking Christians.  While the ascendant political party, the Muslim Brotherhood, no doubt sides with the Islamists and may be pressuring the army to allow these attacks.  In other words, Israel is surrounded.  Not just by opposing armies.  But by a people who seek the destruction of the state of Israel.  And never before were they in such a position to make this happen.

An extremely bleak Mideast winter indeed.

The Arab Spring turns to Winter over Israel

And speaking of Israel, how are things going for them amidst this “Arab Spring” (see 9 Killed as Israel Clashes With Palestinians on Four Borders by Ethan Bronner posted 5/15/2011 on The New York Times)?

Israel’s borders erupted into deadly clashes on Sunday as thousands of Palestinians — marching from Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank — confronted Israeli troops to mark the anniversary when Arabs mourn Israel’s creation. As many as nine Palestinians were reported killed and scores injured in the unprecedented wave of coordinated protests.

It doesn’t sound like the Israeli spring is as ‘springy’ as it is in the Arab world.  In fact, one could say this is more of a bleak winter.

Every year in mid-May many Palestinians mark what they call Nakba, or the catastrophe, the anniversary of Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948 and the start of a war in which thousands of Palestinians lost their homes through expulsion and flight.

But this is the first year that Palestinian refugees in Syria and Lebanon tried to breach the Israeli military border in marches inspired by recent popular protests around the Arab world. Here too, word about the rallies was spread on social media sites.

“The Palestinians are not less rebellious than other Arab peoples,” said Ali Baraka, a Hamas representative in Lebanon.

So the “Arab Spring” is flowering throughout the Arab world.  In places that have been relatively peaceful.  Such as in southern Lebanon.  And southern Syria.  Especially in the once peaceful Golan Heights.

Yoni Ben-Menachem, Israel Radio’s chief Arab affairs analyst, said it seemed likely that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria was seeking to divert attention from his troubles caused by popular uprisings there in recent weeks by allowing confrontations on the Golan Heights for the first time in decades.

Incidentally, even though Assad did something Mubarak never did, turn the army on his people, it was Mubarak that the Obama administration said had to go.  Not Assad.  Funny, too, because the world probably had less to lose with the fall of Assad than they did with the fall of Mubarak.

The day’s troubles began when an Israeli Arab truck driver rammed his truck into cars, a bus and pedestrians in Tel Aviv, killing one man and injuring more than a dozen others in what police described as a terrorist attack.

Later, hundreds of Lebanese joined by Palestinians from more than nine refugee camps in Lebanon headed toward the border, around the town of Maroun al-Ras, Lebanon, scene of some of the worst fighting in the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah.

They passed posters that had gone up the past week on highways in Lebanon. “People want to return to Palestine,” they read, in a play on the slogan made famous in Egypt and Tunisia, “People want the fall of the regime.”

So the “Arab Spring” is flowering among the people of Hezbollah and Hamas.  The enemies of Israel.  Friends of the Muslim Brotherhood.  And Iran.  And it was the ‘democracy’ movements in Tunisia and Egypt that have inspired them.  Imagine that.  The “Arab Spring” inspired political movements that would be anything but democratic to Israel.  Because, perhaps, to them “Arab Spring” has the same meaning as “Israeli Winter.”

An extremely bleak Mideast winter indeed.

Anything is Possible in the Middle East these Days

Even though Ben Stein was wrong about the Subprime Mortgage Crisis, it’s hard to fault him on what’s happening in the Middle East.  At least, based on the facts.  And the underlying history.  Oh, and let’s not forget how the Iranian Revolution went down.  It, too, started off as a democratic movement.  And ended in one of the harshest, Islamist theocracies the world has seen. 

Iran may soon be the regional power in the Middle East.  When that happens, life will change.  For everyone.  More terrorism.  More war.  And probably some higher prices at the gas pump.  You know, the late Saddam Hussein is looking better and better in hindsight.  Sure, he was a pain in the ass.  But he was also Iran’s pain in the ass.  And the enemy of our pain in the ass is our friend.  Of course, the wild card is what will happen to Iraq when the U.S. leaves.  Will it just be another domino to fall to Iran?  I hope not.  But anything is possible in the Middle East these days.

An extremely bleak Mideast winter indeed.

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What we Fear in Syria already happening in Egypt?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 30th, 2011

The Islamist Muslim Brotherhood Ascendant in Egypt

The death toll in Syria has exceeded 500.  But we’re not calling for Assad to step down.  And we’re not bombing Syria.  Even though Syria is very friendly with Iran.  And supports Hezbollah and Hamas.  No.  We’re acting cautiously with Syria.  Because Assad is a man the Obama administration is banking on to reform Syria.  He’s the moderate.  Friend of the Christian community in Syria.  Holding the Muslim Brotherhood and their Islamism at bay.  Because Iran is bad.  Hezbollah is bad.  Hamas is bad.  And the Muslim Brotherhood is especially bad.  So we’re going to tread lightly in Syria. 

This is exactly the kind of caution the Obama Administration did NOT exercise in Egypt.  Pity, because everything the world is worried about in Syria may be happening in Egypt (see Muslim Brotherhood to contest half of Egypt parliament by Reuters posted 4/30/2011 on The Jerusalem Post).

The Muslim Brotherhood said on Saturday it will contest up to half of Egypt’s parliamentary seats in elections scheduled for September.

But the group said it will not field a candidate for the position of president in an election due to held after the parliamentary vote.

The Muslim Brotherhood was no secret in Egypt.  Or their ties to Iran and Hamas.  But the Muslim Brotherhood wasn’t involved with the democracy protests.  Sure, they were the only organized, albeit illegal, opposition party.  But that was nothing to worry about.  Because this was an outpouring of young people and their yearning for democracy.  Much like those young people who yearned in Iran in 1979.

The Muslim Brotherhood is regarded as the most organized political force in Egypt after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in February and the dissolution of his National Democratic Party…

The Brotherhood is an Islamist group founded in the 1920s and has deep roots in Egypt’s conservative Muslim society.

So what is there to worry about?  This spontaneous yearning for democracy by the young will no doubt triumph.  Unlike a well organized movement that goes back to 1920.  And that has deep roots in Egypt’s conservative Muslim society.  There is no reason that the Egypt revolution will be just like the 1979 Iranian Revolution.  Just because it parallels the Iranian Revolution doesn’t mean it will end up like the Iranian Revolution.  In theocracy.

The Islamist Muslim Brotherhood denies being Islamist

As if to assuage this very concern, the Muslim Brotherhood is telling their critics that their Islamist party is not a theocratic one.  That they will gladly cooperate with the secular powers (see Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood sets up new party posted 4/30/2011 on the BBC).

It has sought to allay fears of an Islamist parliamentary majority, and said it would be willing to co-operate with secular parties.

Mohammed al-Mursi, the head of the new Freedom and Justice Party, told reporters in Cairo: “It is not an Islamist party in the old understanding, it is not theocratic.”

Just like Ayatollah Khomeini assured the young revolutionaries in Iran not to worry.  Their government would be a secular government.  And it was.  Until it became a theocratic one.  You see, he lied.  He told everyone what they wanted to hear.  All the while making Iran a theocracy.

But that won’t happen in Egypt.  Because the people who want to turn Egypt into a theocracy are telling us they don’t want to turn Egypt into a theocracy.  So there’s nothing to worry about.

Egypt Reopens Gaza Border Crossing, Hamas Cheers

Or is there?  The Muslim Brotherhood is not exactly what one would call fans of the state of Israel.  No.  They would fall more into the anti-Israel camp.  Like Iran.  And Hamas.  With Gaza bordering both Israel and Egypt, and with Hamas in power in Gaza, what happens in Gaza vis-à-vis Egypt would be a good indicator of things to come.  So let’s take a look at what’s happening in Gaza (see Egypt intends to reopen Gaza crossing by Michael Birnbaum posted 4/29/2011 on The Washington Post).

Egypt plans to reopen a border crossing with the Gaza Strip as soon as possible, a spokeswoman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said Friday, worrying Israel and bringing an end to a blockade of the territory that had been deeply unpopular inside Egypt…

Access to Gaza from Egypt had been severely restricted at Israel’s request after the Islamic movement Hamas took control of the territory in 2007. Israel and the United States consider Hamas a terrorist organization, and Israel imposed a blockade on the territory because officials said they were concerned about weapons and explosives being transported across the border.

If one didn’t know any better, one would think that Egypt may be moving away from Israel and towards Iran/Hamas.  Because their action will help weapons get into Gaza where Hamas can fire them on Israel.  Which is sort of their thing.  Launching weapons into Israel.  So maybe there’s something to worry about here with this new Egyptian direction.

Egypt has moved in recent days to bolster its relationship with Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was banned in Egypt during Mubarak’s reign. The change reflected popular sentiment and helped Egyptian diplomats broker a deal this week between Fatah and Hamas that will unify the two main factions in the Palestinian territories. Egyptian diplomats have also announced their intention to increase ties with Iran.

Okay, so they’re throwing open the border crossing between Gaza and Egypt.  They’re improving relations with Hamas.  And Iran.  I think we’re past ‘maybe’.  I think it may be time for someone to start worrying.  For despite all of their denials about their theocratic intentions, their actions speak louder than their words.  It’s beginning to look a lot like Poland in 1939.  A country surrounded.  Flanks secured.  Good propaganda.  And a burning desire to launch a war of annihilation.  I’d be surprised if Israel wasn’t worried.

Israel isn’t Feeling the Love

Oh, come on, you say.  That’s just ridiculous.  The Palestinians are just a peace loving people.  And Hamas is just a political party.  Comparing them to Nazi Germany is a bit extreme to say the least.  Besides, what have they ever done to suggest that they want to annihilate the state of Israel (see Barak to UN chief: Hamas must recognize Israel by Haaretz Service and Reuters posted 4/30/2011 on Haaretz)?

Defense Minister Ehud Barak spoke with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday and expressed concerns about the unity agreement that was recently reached between Fatah and Hamas.

“Hamas is a terrorist organization that fires rockets at Israeli towns and recently used an anti-tank missile against a school bus,” Barak said.

“Therefore, we expect that world leaders, including, of course, the head of the UN, to make cooperation with such a joint government, if it is established, conditional on the government accepting the Quartet’s conditions, which are the recognition of Israel, the abandonment of the path of terror and the acceptance of all previous agreements with Israel,” Barak continued.

Well, yeah, there’s all of that.  A long history of violence towards Israel.  And the refusal to recognize them as a sovereign state.  But other than that, what has Hamas ever done to suggest that they want to annihilate Israel?

One thing for sure, Israel isn’t feeling the love these days.

Democracy Losing in Egypt 

Democracy may lose in Egypt.  Just as it did in Iran following the 1979 Revolution.  Which will empower Hamas.  And that open border crossing between Egypt and Gaza will greatly help Hamas in their struggle against Israel.  With an able assist from the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.  Pity we didn’t think this through better before saying Mubarak had to go.

Things are so bad with an ascendant Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt that we’re backing off on the crimes against humanity in Syria.  There the price of innocent civilians killed is an acceptable cost to keep the Muslim Brotherhood at bay.  But not in Egypt.  And Mubarak didn’t even set the army on his people.  But he had to go.  No ifs, ands or buts about it.  But Assad is okay.  He just needs to tone it down a little.  Kill a few less people.

All the while Israel sits and waits.  Their world is changing.  And there’s little they can do about it.  They hope for the best.  And no doubt plan for the worse.  Like in 1973 during the Yom Kippur War.  When the tide of war was going against them and defeat looked imminent.  They had suffered great losses and desperately needed U.S. aid.  Which was not forthcoming.  So Israel began preparing some nuclear weapons to stave off defeat.  This got the attention of the U.S.  Who replaced Israeli’s material losses.  Which kept them in the war.  Kept them from going nuclear.  And allowed them to win a favorable peace.  And the Arab world has hated the U.S. ever since.

So much hatred in the Middle East.  And so many old scores to settle.  It’ll probably get worse before it gets better.  And all I can say is that I’d sure hate to be in our shoes.

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What would Jesus think about the Assault on Christianity?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 24th, 2011

Who would Jesus Vote For?

One thing I learned about demons and vampires from watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer is that they lay low on Halloween.  Except for the few that like to bother the Scooby Gang, that is.  But for the most part, the evil beings don’t like Halloween.  It’s just a bit silly for them.  So the evil and undead stand down on this day.  When the non-evil dress up and pretend to be evil.  A bit of professional demon/vampire courtesy.  They let the people play their scary games.  Then resume their bloodlust the following day.

You’d think those on the Left would extend the same courtesy to Christians on Easter Sunday, the most holy day on the Christian calendar.  Let up on their Christian disdain for this one day.  So Christians can worship this special day in peace.  But no.  Someone has to invoke Jesus Christ in the budget debate (see The Democrats’ secret budget weapon: Jesus by Brad Martin posted 4/24/2011 on Salon).

There are signs that the 2010s could be a fertile ground for using Christian ideals to pursue goals of social justice…

If the moral test of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable, the emergence of What Would Jesus Cut? may be the flashlight leading us out of the dark cave of budgetary wrangling. But it should also provide progressives with a model for marrying religion to politics in a way that reinvigorates their agenda, rather than simply leaving the field wide open to often intolerant evangelicals and social conservatives.

Why, this is a fascinating concept.  And practical.  Especially at Easter.  The day of the Resurrection.  When Christ rose from the grave He was sent to after dying for our sins.  Yes, what a fine day it is to politicize Jesus Christ.  But I’m game.  Hmmm.  Let me think. 

What would Jesus cut?  The defense budget?  Well, if we did that we couldn’t stop the genocide Muammar Gaddafi is perpetrating against the Libyan people.  That’s bad.  So bad that liberals who champion social justice sent our military to Libya to stop that genocide.  Cutting defense spending will leave us little more than an observer of these crimes against humanity.  Much like the rest of the world that isn’t a superpower.  So I don’t know if Jesus would cut defense spending.  Not when we’re using it for humanitarian reasons.  So, could there be something else to cut?

Would He cut programs like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?  These programs are very kind to those who can’t afford to buy a house.  By putting them into a house that they can’t afford.  Hmm.  That didn’t end too well in 2008, what with the subprime mortgage crisis and all.  No, putting people into houses they can’t afford turned out to be a bad thing.  It gave us the worst recession since the Great Depression.  And this hit art and charitable foundations especially hard.  With record unemployment, no one has any money to donate to the needy.  So, yes, I think Jesus would cut programs like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Anything else?

Oh, here’s a no brainer.  Planned Parenthood.  Because I’m pretty sure Jesus Christ would oppose anything remotely connected to abortion.

How could no one on the Left see this coming?  What would Jesus cut?  Number one on the hit parade would be abortion.  And any public spending that could provide ‘aid and comfort’ to the abortion providers.  This is Jesus we’re talking about.  And I just don’t see Him being pro-choice.  Sure, Planned Parenthood’s abortion unit is only a small part of their business (3%).  But government funding pays the overhead where they provide their real services.  Breast exams.  Pap smears.  Pelvic exams.  AIDS screening.  Birth control.  Etc.  That’s why they don’t have stand alone abortion clinics.  Doing so few abortions makes the unit cost per abortion too high to recover the overhead.  But if the overhead is already being paid by Uncle Sam, why, then that’s a different story.

The Left should stop talking about Jesus.  For they’re going to hurt themselves with the political contortions necessary to make their case.  Besides, if you asked who would Jesus vote for, I’m guessing he or she would have an ‘r’ after their name.  The bitter God-clingers they are.  So why even bother?  They should just take a lesson from the evil/undead and show a little magnanimity on this day.  If they had it in them.  Like the evil/undead do at Halloween.

Syria and Egypt, Similar yet Different

Egypt and Syria are very similar countries.  Both are in the Middle East.  Both are secular nations with Christian minorities.  And both outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood.  The main difference between the two is that one is an ally of the United States.  The other is an enemy.  Another difference is U.S. foreign policy.  They abandoned the ally.  And showed patience with the enemy.

Some are urging caution in Syria.  Worried about what may replace the current regime should it fall.  The Israelis for one.  And possibly the Obama administration.  For now, at least.  Interesting, because they had no such reservations with our ally.  And how are things in Egypt?  Suffice it to say there is cause for concern (see Crowds protest Christian governor in south Egypt by Maggie Michael, Associated Press, posted 4/22/2011 on MSNBC).

Since President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster in February after an 18-day popular uprising, ultraconservative Islamist groups have been flexing their muscles and vowing to take a more active political role as Egypt charts its transition to democracy…

Coptic Christians make up an estimated 10 percent of Egypt’s population of nearly 80 million and complain of discrimination. Relations between the two faiths plunged to new lows after a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a Coptic church in Alexandria on Jan. 1, killing 21 people and injuring 100 others.

Salafis, who seek to emulate the lifestyle of Islam’s early days in the seventh century, have for the past year played a key role in fueling sectarian tensions, spearheading protests against the Orthodox Christian church.

Salafis?  One of their Islamic theologians was Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab.  As in Wahhabi.  As in Saudi Arabia.  As in al Qaeda.  As in Osama bin Laden.  Yes, bin Laden is a Wahhabi.  This is old school Islam.  The way it was mean to be.  In Salafi eyes.  As the Taliban thought, too, the world should be.

The only upside to this is that the Salafis are Sunnis.  Who don’t much care for the Shiites.  Which is what the Iranians are.  So, to recap, the Salafis are not Shiites.  Which may place them out of the Iranian orbit.  Which is good.  The bad news is this.  It was the Wahhabi that attacked us on 9/11.

So maybe we should have encouraged more reform in Egypt and less ‘Mubarak has to go’.  Perhaps we learned our lesson.  Perhaps that’s why we’re not pushing our enemy in Syria (see For Syrian Christians, protests are cause for fear by The Washington Post posted 4/23/2011 on The Washington Post).

For decades, the government of President Bashar al-Assad has protected Christian interests by enforcing its strictly secular program and by curbing the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood. In recent years, Assad has visited the town of Maaloula and other Christian communities to pray and pass on messages of goodwill. At Christmas, he addresses Syria’s Christians, carrying similar tidings. Assad is himself from the minority Alawite sect, a branch of Shia Islam, and many Christians feel they can relate to him…

Many Christians interviewed said their biggest fear was the growth of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is banned in Syria. About half as many worshipers as usual attended Good Friday church services this year because people are afraid to leave their homes.

Maybe these ruthless despots know something we don’t.  Maybe their tyrannical and oppressive rule is the only way to keep things secular in the Middle East.  And peaceful.  At least, under them, the few Christians in their countries could live in relative peace.  Whereas it’s looking a bit harder these days.

Happy Easter

So on this Easter Day, we can reflect on Jesus Christ and His message.  Such as judge not lest ye be judged.  Pity we rushed to pass judgment on Hosni Mubarak.  Perhaps that wasn’t the Christian thing to do.  But we did.  And now Christians in Egypt are getting worried.  And Christians are nervously sitting out the protests in Syria.  Afraid of what their future may hold.  But instead of showing genuine concern for the oppressed (and possibly the soon to be oppressed), some instead think of politicizing Jesus Christ to advance a political agenda.

I wonder what Jesus would think about that.

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Obama’s Incoherent Policy on Egypt, Libya and Syria

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 23rd, 2011

Syrians not as worthy to Save as Libyans?

President Assad is killing innocent Syrians in the streets.  In an effort to squelch their yearning for liberty.  A contagion spreading through the Arab world.  TunisiaEgyptBahrainYemen.  Libya.  And now Syria.  The international community is shocked at Assad’s brutality.  And they issued a stern ‘you better stop doing that or we may tell you to stop a second time’.  Whereas we demanded Mubarak to step down in Egypt.  And bombed Libya.  But in Syria all we got is a wag of the finger (see Obama’s Middle East Head Spin by Christopher Dickey posted 4/22/2011 on The Daily Beast).

From Washington’s vantage, every Friday is becoming Black Friday in the Middle East… This Friday, the shock came in Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad runs one of the Middle East’s most repressive regimes. Across the country, protesters have grown ever more emboldened in recent weeks, and on Friday they poured into the streets by the tens of thousands to face the deadly fusillades of Assad’s security forces. More than 70 died. What did the White House have to say? From Air Force One: “We call on all sides to cease and desist from the use of violence.”

Pity the president didn’t add, “Don’t make me turn this car around.”  For children know it’s serious when Dad threatens to turn that car around.  Of course, Obama isn’t their dad.  But he expects everyone to listen to him as if he were.  And if that’s all we got going for our foreign policy, I say use it.  Can’t hurt.

Then again, perhaps the president just doesn’t know what to do.  He had no governing experience before running for president.  He never had a real job.  It’s rather baffling why so many championed the guy when he was in fact so utterly unqualified.  But they did.  And here he is.  What was it that Rush Limbaugh called him?  Man child?  Pretty strong criticism.  But is it true?

The drama—the tragedy—increasingly apparent at the White House is of a brilliant intellect who is nonetheless confounded by events, a strategist whose strategies are thwarted and who is left with almost no strategy at all, a persuasive politician and diplomat who gets others to crawl out on limbs, has them take big risks to break through to a new future, and then turns around and walks away from them when the political winds in the United States threaten to shift. It’s not enough to say the Cabinet is divided about what to do. Maybe the simplest and in many ways the most disturbing explanation for all the flailing is offered by veteran journalist and diplomat Leslie H. Gelb: “There is one man in this administration who debates himself.” President Obama.

A brilliant intellect who is not allowed to think brilliantly.  Because of all this stuff going on in the world.  This isn’t what he signed on for.  He wanted to pontificate great things.  Not govern.  It’s not fair.  He wanted to provide a laser-like focus on job creation.  Build a stronger economy.  Lower the sea levels.  Instead he failed.  Everywhere.  As he is failing in his foreign policy.  Or, rather, flailing.  With a policy that is utterly incoherent.

At the Pentagon, which bears the brunt of much of this hesitation and vacillation, the mood is one of not-so-quiet desperation. Said one longtime friend of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates: “They think it [the Libyan operation] is just nuts. We are destroying our credibility with this situation, and there is really no answer to it.”

This is what happens when you have people who hate the military (i.e., liberals) use the military.  The military has a constitutional role.  To defend the United States.  And protect vital national security interests.  There is no constitutional clause that says, oh, and by the way, if a sovereign nation is being mean to her people we should commit U.S. military force without a clear objective or exit strategy.  Just to feel good.  But we can’t do that.  For feeling good is a poor national strategy. 

So Vice President Joe Biden has been left to handle the file, and he’s seemed none too happy about it. In an interview with the Financial Times, he argued that America’s real strategic interests were elsewhere, notably in helping to stabilize Egypt, while continuing to try to deal with Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and North Korea. “We can’t do it all,” said Biden. NATO and the Europeans should do more, he insisted. But NATO is run by consensus, and when its most powerful member refuses to lead, hard decisions are hard to come by. France and Britain, for their part, have taken the initiative in Libya from the beginning and crossed a new threshold last week by announcing publicly that they would send military advisers into Libya to help the rebels organize. (One firm decision by the U.S.: It will not put its troops on the ground in Libya under any circumstances.)

Of course when we say ‘by consensus’ we mean ‘by the United States’.  For any international effort is weak and ineffective without the full weight and force of the United States.  It goes with being a superpower.  But we have to pick and choose our fights.  For even a superpower’s might is finite.  There are national security interests (Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and North Korea, for example).  And there are non-national security interests.  Such as Libya.  And look where we are.  The non-national security interest.  Why? 

The United States got involved “because of the worry that Gaddafi could destabilize the fledgling revolutions in both Tunisia and Egypt, with Egypt being central to the future of the region; and, second, to prevent a humanitarian disaster.” Then the clincher: “A third reason was that, while it was not a vital interest for us, our allies considered it a vital interest. And just as they have helped us in Afghanistan, we thought it was important, the president thought it was important, to help them in Libya.”

All right, let me see if I understand this right.  Our allies joined us in the fight against international terrorism.  Because international terrorism is international.  It’s not only America at risk.  Everyone is.  So they helped us in Afghanistan.  Where we’ve taken the lead role.  Because it was in our national security interest.  As it was in theirs.  So, to thank them for joining the fight against international terrorism, we joined their fight to keep their supply of oil cheap and plentiful.  Got it.

There is no question, for instance, that what happens in Syria is of vital interest to Israel, which is America’s strategic partner; nor is there any question that Assad is watching Gaddafi’s brutal tactics for precedents that will serve the Syrian’s own savage regime…

The fundamentally important American alliance with Saudi Arabia, which holds the keys to the global oil market, was shaken badly by what King Abdullah saw as Obama’s betrayal of Hosni Mubarak. Add to that the king’s bitter disappointment with American course corrections, and reversals, on the Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative. A European envoy who met with Abdullah in early March described him as “incandescent” with rage at Obama. Yet the Saudis backed the intervention in Libya—only to see the Americans fumble their leadership once again.

As for Iran, ever since the regime there confronted and crushed huge pro-democracy protests in 2009, nothing threatens it more than successful revolutions in the Arab world. And nothing gratifies Iran’s leaders more than to see the United States dithering about whether Arab democracy is in American interests. The ripple effects are felt even in East Asia, where a former U.S. ambassador says he’s heard that the North Koreans are telling the Chinese “if this is the best the Americans can do in Libya, we’ve got nothing to worry about.”

Well, if Obama’s foreign policy strategy is to placate our enemies and infuriate our allies, he’s succeeded.  If that wasn’t the strategy you’d then have to say those in charge of foreign policy are in over their heads.  Or just incompetent.

Israel Looks at Syria and sees Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran

The world’s superpower can suffer bouts of incompetence.  Because it takes time to bring down a superpower.  We have the world’s largest economy.  And the most powerful military.  It takes a lot to disrupt our daily lives.  So people don’t really fear the outside world.  Except the occasional terrorist attack.  And when something like that happens, people rally around the grownups.  George W. BushRudy Giuliani.  But can you imagine if it was that way all of the time?  To be under attack all the time?  To be in a perpetual state of war?  The Israelis can.  They can’t afford the luxury of incompetence.  There, the grownups are in charge.  And they’re looking at all the developments in the Middle East a little differently than the Obama Administration (see Israel in a quandary over turmoil in Syria by Joel Greenberg posted 4/22/2011 on The Washington Post).

Syria has long been a bitter enemy of Israel’s, a key player in a regional alliance with Iran, a backer of the militant Hezbollah group in Lebanon and host to the political leadership of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. Yet it has also been a reliable foe, keeping its cease-fire lines with Israel quiet for decades through periods of war and confrontation in Lebanon and Gaza, and it has participated in U.S.-mediated peace talks.

A power shift in Damascus could alter those dynamics. But there is no clear sense in Israel of where that might lead, and there are a range of views here on the most preferable scenario. Experts speculate that Syria could dissolve into anarchy and civil war, Libya-style, or that a new authoritarian leadership could emerge, backed by the army and security forces, or a government dominated by the long-banned Muslim Brotherhood.

So Syria is a lot like Egypt in a sense.  Peaceful and secular.  The only difference is that they’re in tight with Iran.  And Hezbollah and Hamas.  Who have a penchant for killing Jews in Israel.  And share a common objective with Iran.  The destruction of Israel.  But it could be worse.  They’re not Islamist.  They may be the client of an Islamist state (Iran).  But they’re not Islamist.

“We prefer the devil we know,” said Ephraim Sneh, a former deputy defense minister, referring to Assad. “Although the Islamist forces are not the majority in the opposition, they are better organized and politically competent. And if we fantasize today that one day we’ll be able to take the secular regime in Syria outside the Iranian orbit, it may be more difficult, if not impossible, if the regime is an Islamist one.”

Dore Gold, a former foreign policy adviser to Netanyahu who heads the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, also emphasized the importance to Israel of monitoring “who the opposition is” in Syria to see whether “what looks like a sincere desire for freedom ends up being hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood.”

“Israel views a lot of the current developments through the prism of the Iranian threat,” Gold added. “It would be unfortunate if Iran becomes the beneficiary of the developments across the Middle East. Iran could face a tremendous strategic loss if the Syrian regime falls and is replaced by a more Western-oriented leadership.”

How wise.  If only Obama viewed developments through the prism of the Iranian threat.  Perhaps he would have moved slower on Egypt.  Until we knew who the opposition was.  And whether the Muslim Brotherhood would hijack their democracy movement.  Maybe we could have persuaded Mubarak to implement reforms.  Like the Israelis are willing to do with Assad.  Because sometimes the known devil is easier to deal with than the unknown one. 

Still, a change of leadership in Syria or a weakened Assad regime could present opportunities that the United States and Israel should explore when the dust settles, according to Uri Sagi, a former chief of military intelligence who headed the Israeli negotiating team in talks with the Syrians from 1999 to 2000.

“I would suggest that the Americans take advantage of this crisis in order to change the balance here, namely to get the Syrians out of their intimate relationship with Hezbollah on the one hand and the Iranians on the other,” Sagi said.

The Syrian policy would probably be a little less complicated had it not followed the collapse of our ally in Egypt.  Had the Syrian uprising happened first, there would have been more room for risk taking in Syria.  We would have had the opportunity to shut down Hezbollah and Hamas.  By severing the link to Iran via Syria.  But Egypt happened first.  And the great unknown now is the Muslim Brotherhood.  They’re there.  Lurking in the background.  In Egypt.  And in Syria. 

Egypt is our ally.  Syria is not.  If we’re hesitating to act in Syria, then we should have hesitated in Egypt.  This may prove to have been a big mistake.  Forcing Mubarak out.  We’re sending mixed messages to our allies and enemies.  And losing all credibility by flailing about in Libya sure doesn’t help matters either.

Obama Looks at Syria and sees the 2012 Election

Yes, American foreign policy has not been President Obama’s shining moment.  But I’m sure there’s a good reason for that.  After all, he’s president.  He must have a lot of things to worry about.  Important things.  More important than turmoil in the Middle East.  I mean, how can that compare to his reelection campaign (see Obama’s 2012 Campaign: What’s the Strategy? by Daniel Stone posted 4/22/2011 on The Daily Beast)?

Staffers declined to disclose how many people are currently working for Obama in Chicago, and how fast the operation has been taking in money. But so far, campaign events hosted by the president himself have had high yields. At several fundraisers this week in San Francisco and Los Angeles, some supporters donated up $35,800 per couple, the maximum allowed by federal election laws.

Sure they’re shooting Syrians down in the street.  But it’s not all bad news for Obama.  His fund raising is doing very well.

Despite the clear advantage of having all the trappings of the presidency—Air Force One, a support staff of hundreds, guaranteed press coverage—Obama’s challenges may be new and unique. “Last time he was an underdog and outsider and really led a movement,” says Tad Devine, a senior adviser to Al Gore’s 2000 and John Kerry’s 2004 campaigns. “This time is different. He’s the president. His campaign will have to take advantage of all the things they did last time, coordinating and using technology. It’s hard not to be institutional.”

You can say many things about Obama.  Criticize him for his disastrous economic policies.  The lack of transparency in his administration.  His abysmal foreign policy.  But one thing for sure.  He’s a man that his priorities in order.  Reelection first.  Everything else is a distant second.

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