Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Obama’s decision to retreat in Iraq is a disaster for American foreign policy

Let’s see what everyone thinks about Obama’s decision withdraw 40,000 troops from Iraq, effectively handing control of much of the Middle East to Iran.

Disregards the advice of his own generals

From the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

No doubt this will be politically popular—at least in the short-term. Mr. Obama can say he honored a campaign pledge, Congress will move to spend the money on domestic programs, and a war-weary American public will be relieved to carry fewer overseas burdens. Or at least Americans will feel such relief as long as this total withdrawal doesn’t cost the hard-fought political and strategic gains that our intervention has won.

There are serious risks in this complete withdrawal. Iraq has made great progress in providing its own security, with some 600,000 Iraqi troops gradually taking the handoff from U.S. forces. But the Iraqis still lack vital military assets in intelligence and logistics, not to mention naval and air power. Mr. Obama said the U.S. will continue to discuss “how we might help Iraq train and equip its forces,” but this is no substitute for a more robust, long-term presence of the kind we retain in South Korea and Japan 60 years after the end of the Korean War.

The U.S. commander in Iraq, General Lloyd Austin, had requested between 15,000 and 18,000 troops, before reducing it to 10,000 under pressure. Such a U.S. presence would reassure Iraq and its neighbors of our continuing commitment to the region. It would help play the role of honest broker among Iraq’s ethnic factions as it continues to build a more durable political system.

And above all it would reduce Iran’s ability to meddle in Iraq, building local militias on the Hezbollah model with a goal of making its neighbor a Shiite vassal state. Iran’s Quds force—the same outfit that wanted to assassinate a Saudi ambassador on U.S. soil—is the biggest winner from Mr. Obama’s pullout.

Bungled negotiations

From Foreign Policy magazine. (H/T The Washington Post)

Excerpt:

“Iraq is not a normal country, the security environment is not normal, the embassy is not a normal embassy,” said Marisa Cochrane Sullivan, managing director at the Institute for the Study of War, who traveled to Iraq this summer and has been sounding the alarm about what she saw as the mishandling of the negotiations ever since.

For more evidence that the administration actually wanted to extend the troop presence in Iraq, despite today’s words by Obama and McDonough, one only has to look at the statements of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

In July, Panetta urged Iraqi leaders to, “Dammit, make a decision” about the U.S. troop extension. In August, he told reporters that, “My view is that they finally did say, ‘Yes.'” On Oct. 17, he was still pushing for the extension and said, “At the present time I’m not discouraged because we’re still in negotiations with the Iraqis.”

Sullivan was one of 40 conservative foreign policy professionals who wrote to Obama in September to warn that even a residual force of 4,000 troops would “leave the country more vulnerable to internal and external threats, thus imperiling the hard-fought gains in security and governance made in recent years at significant cost to the United States.”

She said that the administration’s negotiating strategy was flawed for a number of reasons: it failed to take into account Iraqi politics, failed to reach out to a broad enough group of Iraqi political leaders, and sent contradictory messages on the troop extension throughout the process.

“From the beginning, the talks unfolded in a way where they largely driven by domestic political concerns, both in Washington and Baghdad. Both sides let politics drive the process, rather than security concerns,” said Sullivan.

Emboldens Syria and their puppet-master, Iran

From National Review.

Excerpt:

The announcement of our total withdrawal comes just weeks after the revelation of an Iranian plot to execute the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. on our soil. It comes as Iran’s key Arab ally, the Assad regime in Syria, is rocked by a revolt. Just as Tehran’s dangerousness is put in stark relief and as events in Syria threaten to deal it a strategic setback, it gets this windfall.

[…][Obama’s] commanders on the ground wanted to keep more than 20,000 troops in Iraq (the administration had bid this number down to several thousand, perhaps convincing Iraqi political players that cutting a painful deal on immunity wouldn’t have enough of a corresponding upside). Such a force would have enhanced our political leverage in Baghdad, checked Iran’s already considerable influence, ensured against a return of al-Qaeda, and helped keep a lid on Arab–Kurdish tensions in the north. Now, we’ll simply have to hope for the best. Deputy National Security Advisor Dennis McDonough said Iraq is “secure, stable, and self-reliant.” It is none of these things. Its government is still inchoate and it is not capable of defending itself from Iran in the air or on the ground.

Our pullout is a bonanza for Tehran. Its militias were already active in Iraq. Now, it can use Iraq for bases for its proxy forces to spread its tentacles in the rest of the Persian Gulf. Independent ayotollahs in Iraq will have an incentive to keep their heads down. Political decisions of the Iranian-influenced Shiite bloc running the country are sure to begin to tilt more and more Iran’s way. Our diplomatic leverage will diminish, even as maintain our largest embassy in the world in Baghdad. The Iranians will crow in Iraq and throughout the region that they were right that the Americans would eventually leave.

We expended a great deal of blood and treasure to topple Saddam Hussein, and then to establish enough order so that George W. Bush’s successor would only have to consolidate our gains. President Obama is careless enough to risk throwing it all away, and shameless enough to call it success.

For those who are not aware of the looming storm in the Middle East, you should read in full this article from the Washington Times. It is authored by Frank Gaffney, the President of the Center for Security Policy. He covers several troubling data points in Libya, Egypt, Afghanistan, Iraq, China, Russia and Mexico. As if that were not bad enough, it looks as if the debt limit super-committee is now deadlocked in negotiations, which will trigger automatic cuts to our defense budget, at the worst possible moment.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Michael Brown explains five simple truths about the Middle East conflict

Map of Israel

Map of Israel

Mary sent me this article from TownHall.

Here’s the introduction:

Is there any subject more controversial than the question of the legitimacy of the modern State of Israel? Is it the eternal home of the Jewish people, promised to them by God Himself? Or is it the illegitimate home of violent Jewish occupiers, an apartheid state guilty of ethnic cleansing? Or is it something in between? In the midst of the often emotional arguments on both sides, it is helpful to review five simple truths about the Mideast conflict.

And the list of 5 points:

  1. There is no such thing as a historic “Palestinian people” living in the Middle East.
  2. There were anti-Jewish intifadas in Palestine two decades before the founding of the State of Israel in 1948.
  3. Jewish refugees fleeing from Muslim and Arab countries were absorbed by Israel after 1948; Arab refugees fleeing from Israel after 1948 were not absorbed by Muslim and Arab countries
  4. Only one side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is truly committed to peaceful co-existence.
  5. The current uprisings throughout the Muslim and Arab world today remind us that Israel cannot fairly be blamed for all the tension and conflicts in the region.

And what I think is the most significant point:

4. Only one side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is truly committed to peaceful co-existence.It is often stated that if the Palestinians put down their weapons, there would be no more war but if the Israelis put down their weapons, there would be no more Israel. This is not to say that all Palestinians are warmongers and all Israelis are doves. But the vast majority of Israelis are not driven by a radical ideology that calls for the extermination of their Arab neighbors, nor are they teaching their children songs about the virtues of religious martyrdom.

Israel does not relish spending a major portion of its budget on defense, nor does it relish sending its sons and daughters into military service. It simply will not surrender Jerusalem, its historic and religious capital, and it will not commit regional suicide by retreating to indefensible borders. In return it simply asks the Palestinians to say, “We embrace your right to exist.”

I think point #4 tells you everything you need to know.

 

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Government troops shooting protesters in Syria

Now that violence has broken out in Jordan and Syria, countries where we have much more vital strategic interests, will Obama open up a fourth and a fifth military front as well?

Excerpt:

Even as the Obama administration defends the NATO-led air war in Libya, the latest violent clashes in Syria and Jordan are raising new alarm among senior officials who view those countries, in the heartland of the Arab world, as far more vital to American interests.

Deepening chaos in Syria, in particular, could dash any remaining hopes for a Middle East peace agreement, several analysts said. It could also alter the American rivalry with Iran for influence in the region and pose challenges to the United States’ greatest ally in the region, Israel.

In interviews, administration officials said the uprising appeared to be widespread, involving different religious groups in southern and coastal regions of Syria, including Sunni Muslims usually loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. The new American ambassador in Damascus, Robert Ford, has been quietly reaching out to Mr. Assad to urge him to stop firing on his people.

As American officials confront the upheaval in Syria, a country with which the United States has icy relations, they say they are pulled between fears that its problems could destabilize neighbors like Lebanon and Israel, and the hope that it could weaken one of Iran’s key allies.

The Syrian unrest continued on Saturday, with government troops reported to have killed more protesters.With 61 people confirmed killed by security forces, the country’s status as an island of stability amid the Middle East storm seemed irretrievably lost.

For two years, the United States has tried to coax Damascus into negotiating a peace deal with Israel and to moving away from Iran — a fruitless effort that has left President Obama open to criticism on Capitol Hill that he is bolstering one of the most repressive regimes in the Arab world.

[…]Indeed, the crackdown calls into question the entire American engagement with Syria. Last June, the State Department organized a delegation from Microsoft, Dell and Cisco Systems to visit Mr. Assad with the message that he could attract more investment if he stopped censoring Facebook and Twitter. While the administration renewed economic sanctions against Syria, it approved export licenses for some civilian aircraft parts.

The Bush administration, by contrast, largely shunned Damascus, recalling its ambassador in February 2005 after the assassination of a former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri. Many Lebanese accuse Syria of involvement in the assassination, a charge it denies.

When Mr. Obama named Mr. Ford as his envoy last year, Republicans in the Senate held up the appointment for months, arguing that the United States should not reward Syria with closer ties. The administration said it would have more influence by restoring an ambassador.

Diplomacy only works when it is backed by the CREDIBLE threat of FORCE. For two years, Obama didn’t show that he was willing to use force, and it emboldened the Iran-backed Syrian government to behave violently. Look at how Obama fumbled the Iranian election, where civilians were being shot down in the streets. That’s what causes violence – appeasement of evil. If evil people thought that they were going to have to pay a price for being evil, then they wouldn’t be evil. Obama made friends with bad people – he emboldened them to do bad things.

What is the strategic advantage of war in Libya?

From ABC News.

Excerpt:

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that Libya did not pose a threat to the United States before the U.S. began its military campaign against the North African country.

On “This Week,” ABC News’ Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper asked Gates, “Do you think Libya posed an actual or imminent threat to the United States?”

“No, no,” Gates said in a joint appearance with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “It was not — it was not a vital national interest to the United States, but it was an interest and it was an interest for all of the reasons Secretary Clinton talked about.  The engagement of the Arabs, the engagement of the Europeans, the general humanitarian question that was at stake,” he said.

Why didn’t the Obama administration go to Congress before engaging in military action in oil-rich Libya?

During his campaign for the Presidency, in December, 2007, Barack Obama told The Boston Globe that “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

Earlier in 2007, then-Senator Hillary Clinton said in a speech on the Senate floor that, “If the administration believes that any — any — use of force against Iran is necessary, the President must come to Congress to seek that authority.”

Bush debated the war in Iraq for 6 months and got permission from Congress before going in. Why couldn’t Obama do it? Why does Obama have to rush to war?

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Anti-Israel union thug assaults Blazing Cat Fur ON CAMERA

Story at Blazing Cat Fur, because he’s the cameraman. (H/T The Other McCain via ECM)

Blazing Cat Fur writes:

Ali Mallah a notorious Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Union Thug Assaults intrepid blogger Blazingcatfur! Mallah, who is also a Vice President of the virulently anti-semitic Canadian Arab Federation, is well known for his anti-Israel derangement and is shown in the video as he attempts to prevent Blazing from filming an anti-Netanyahu protest sponsored by the Leftist Islamofascist alliance in Toronto. The thugs were there to protest Netanyahu’s appearance at the annual Walk with Israel event. More on the protest here.

CUPE is a hard-left anti-Israel union. Every government worker in Canada has to be a member and pay dues to this group of socialist thugs. Blech! They oppose good policies like free trade, traditional marriage and reform of the single-payer health care system.

Remember this is a government union thug attacking a private citizen – it’s worse than the SEIU stuff I posted before. Public sector people don’t actually work for a living (military excluded), so really they just lobby government for pay raises and beat up people who get in their way. Another reason to push for smaller government – we don’t need to have people paid to do nothing except hold protest signs.

Public sector unions should be abolished. Heck, all unions should be abolished.

Gates of Vienna points out that there is a useful comment thread going on at Michael Coren’s blog. Apparently the police didn’t do anything to the Muslim union guy, but instead warned BLAZING CAT FUR to “keep things peaceful”.

Filed under: Videos, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Muslim father forces 10-year-old daughter to marry 80-year-old man

Story from Fox News. (H/T The Western Experience)

Excerpt:

A Saudi Arabian father forced his 10-year-old daughter to return to her 80-year-old husband Sunday, after she was found hiding at the home of her aunt for 10 days, Arab News reported.

The young girl’s husband, who denies he is 80 despite family claims, accused the aunt of violating the terms of his marriage, allowed by Sharia Law.

“My marriage is not against Sharia. It included the elements of acceptance and response by the father of the bride,” he told a local newspaper.

This is the same Sharia law that the secular left is trying to introduce as a parallel society in the UK and Canada. It’s multi-culturalism, they say.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , ,

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