Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Victor Davis Hanson: Five mistakes Democrats made in the Middle East

This National Review article is by military historian Victor Davis Hanson.

Here are the 5 mistakes:

  1. Iran
  2. Iraq
  3. Libya
  4. Egypt
  5. Israel

All of the areas are important, but I want to focus on the one that I think is going to hurt us the most: Iran.

Dr. Hanson writes:

Sanctions were starting to squeeze Iran, which had been unable to absorb Shiite-dominated Iraq. Unrest in Iran was rising, spearheaded by pro-Western young reformers. Less than a month after Barack Obama’s inauguration, over a million Iranians hit the streets to protest their country’s rigged elections. The Europeans were beginning to understand that a nuclear Iran posed a greater threat of nuclear blackmail to the EU than to the U.S.

Poland and the Czech Republic had agreed to partner with the U.S. in creating an anti-ballistic missile system to deter Iran’s growing missile program. The U.S. and its friends occasionally sent armadas slowly through the Strait of Hormuz to remind Iran that we were determined that international waters would always remain international.

So what happened?

The new Obama administration kept silent as the pro-Western Iranian protests deflated. In herky-jerky style, Obama at first upped the sanctions as Tehran ignored his serial empty deadlines on curbing enrichment. Then, unilaterally and without much warning, Obama relaxed sanctions. He reopened negotiations, even as Iran’s centrifuges multiplied. Currently, Iran is on the cusp of nuclear acquisition, and it quietly advises its supporters that the U.S. is both weak and naïve — and will soon be gone from the region.

Tehran is creating a sort of Co-Prosperity Sphere at the expense of Sunni and Western interests, as it sabotages Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon. There is no longer talk of regional U.S.-led missile defense.

In brilliantly diabolical fashion, Iran has maneuvered a deer-in-the-headlights U.S. into an embarrassing de facto alliance with it against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The partnership was designed by Tehran to save the pro-Iranian Assad government, to bolster Hezbollah, to relieve diplomatic pressures on its own nuclear-enrichment program, and to increase tensions between the U.S. and the Sunni moderate states like Jordan and the Gulf monarchies.

There has never been a greater likelihood than there is now, under Obama, that Iran will get the bomb, that it will create a radical theocratic Shiite alliance from Yemen to Iraq to Syria to Lebanon, and that it will direct Hamas and Hezbollah to start another war against Israel — this time backed by an Iranian nuclear deterrent.

Right now, people are making a lot of noise about Islamic State, and that is a significant threat in the near term. But that will not be nearly as bad as the development of nuclear weapons by Iran. They have already stated that they want to wipe Israel off the map. With our porous southern border, we should expect to be targeted as well. Iran has had their Al Quds special forces deployed to Venezuela for years now.

The Washington Times reported this in 2010:

Iran is increasing its paramilitary Qods force operatives in Venezuela while covertly continuing supplies of weapons and explosives to Taliban and other insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to the Pentagon’s first report to Congress on Tehran’s military.

The report on Iranian military power provides new details on the group known formally as the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), the Islamist shock troops deployed around the world to advance Iranian interests. The unit is aligned with terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, North Africa and Latin America, and the report warns that U.S. forces are likely to battle the Iranian paramilitaries in the future.

The Qods force “maintains operational capabilities around the world,” the report says, adding that “it is well established in the Middle East and North Africa and recent years have witnessed an increased presence in Latin America, particularly Venezuela.”

[…]The report gives no details on the activities of the Iranians in Venezuela and Latin America. Iranian-backed terrorists have conducted few attacks in the region. However, U.S. intelligence officials say Qods operatives are developing networks of terrorists in the region who could be called to attack the United States in the event of a conflict over Iran’s nuclear program.

[…]The report links Qods force operatives and the larger IRGC to some of the deadliest terrorist attacks of the past 30 years: the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut in 1983, the bombing of a Jewish center in Argentina in 1994, the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia and many insurgent attacks in Iraq since 2003.

That was 2010, but fast forward to 2011, and we have Iran attempting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador on U.S. soil.

The radically leftist Huffington Post reported this in 2011:

When Attorney General Holder announced today that federal authorities had thwarted a “made for Hollywood” murder-for-hire plot by alleged Iranian-linked operatives tied to Mexico drug cartels to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S, it came as no surprise to counter-terrorism experts familiar with Iran’s terrorist activities in Latin America. Iran’s terror plotting south of the border has been a well-known fact — orchestrated by the Al Quds paramilitary wing of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a terrorist organization very well versed in the the art of the tango and tortillas for some time.

For over two decades, Al Quds operatives and their proxies from terrorist organizations throughout the Middle East have been deployed throughout Iran’s embassies in Latin America — most recently in Venezuela and Mexico.

Starting in the late 1980s and early 1990s, using Hezbollah as initial cover, Al Quds masterminds began populating the “failed state” region in Latin American known as the Tri-Border Area (TBA) of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay as a base from which to train Islamic extremists. The 1992 and 1994 attacks against Jewish and Israeli interests in Buenos Aires originated in the TBA. A veritable Star Wars bar scene of terrorists have reportedly been trained by Al Quds in the TBA and have taken shelter at one time or another there, including Iran proxy terrorists belonging to Hezbollah, Hamas, and al-Gama al Islamiya — all under the watchful patronage of Iran’s Al Quds operatives.

The TBA is ideal for laundering terrorist identities because once an operative enters Paraguay he/she can just drive into Brazil and return without the need for showing a passport.

Obama has been as serious about this threat from Iran as he has been about prosecuting the IRS for targeting Tea Party organizations, as he has been about defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court, as he has been about lowering the costs of health care, and so on. He wants to be on the golf course or giving speeches where he jabs his Republican opponents.

With respect to this Iran problem, Obama’s policy has been to effectively tell them go ahead and build the nuclear weapons. We are not going to be able to just make 8 years of clowning around disappear. This is going to hurt. People are going to die.

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

Obama says that 99.9% of Muslims worldwide reject radical Islam, is he right?

That video is from The Weekly Standard, here’s the text:

President Obama told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria that 99.9 percent of Muslims reject radical Islam. He made the comments in response to a question about the White House avoiding using the phrase “Islamic terrorists.”

“You know, I think that the way to understand this is there is an element growing out of Muslim communities in certain parts of the world that have perverted the religion, have embraced a nihilistic, violent, almost medieval interpretation of Islam, and they’re doing damage in a lot of countries around the world,” said Obama.

“But it is absolutely true that I reject a notion that somehow that creates a religious war because the overwhelming majority of Muslims reject that interpretation of Islam. They don’t even recognize it as being Islam, and I think that for us to be successful in fighting this scourge, it’s very important for us to align ourselves with the 99.9 percent of Muslims who are looking for the same thing we’re looking for–order, peace, prosperity.”

Now, let’s take a look at apostasy and blasphemy laws in Muslim countries, with some help from the left-leaning Pew Research.

They write:

In 10 of 20 countries where there are adequate samples for analysis, at least half of Muslims who favor making sharia the law of the land also favor stoning unfaithful spouses.

Some of the highest support for stoning is found in South Asia and the Middle East-North Africa region. In Pakistan (89%) and Afghanistan (85%), more than eight-in-ten Muslims who want Islamic law as their country’s official law say adulterers should be stoned, while nearly as many say the same in the Palestinian territories (84%) and Egypt (81%). A majority also support stoning as a penalty for the unfaithful in Jordan (67%), Iraq (58%). However, support is significantly lower in Lebanon (46%) and Tunisia (44%), where less than half of those who support sharia as the official law of the land believe that adulterers should be stoned.

In Southeast Asia, six-in-ten Muslims in Malaysia consider stoning an appropriate penalty for adultery. About half hold this view in Thailand (51%) and Indonesia (48%).

Muslims in Central Asia as well as Southern and Eastern Europe are generally less likely to support stoning adulterers. Among those who favor Islamic law as the official law of the land, only in Tajikistan do about half (51%) support this form of punishment. Elsewhere in the two regions, fewer than four-in-ten favor this type of punishment, including roughly a quarter or fewer across the countries surveyed in Southern and Eastern Europe.

And:

Compared with attitudes toward applying sharia in the domestic or criminal spheres, Muslims in the countries surveyed are significantly less supportive of the death penalty for converts. Nevertheless, in six of the 20 countries where there are adequate samples for analysis, at least half of those who favor making Islamic law the official law also support executing apostates.

Taking the life of those who abandon Islam is most widely supported in Egypt (86%) and Jordan (82%). Roughly two-thirds who want sharia to be the law of the land also back this penalty in the Palestinian territories (66%). In the other countries surveyed in the Middle East-North Africa region, fewer than half take this view.

In the South Asian countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan, strong majorities of those who favor making Islamic law the official law of the land also approve of executing apostates (79% and 76%, respectively). However, in Bangladesh far fewer (44%) share this view.

A majority of Malaysian Muslims (62%) who want to see sharia as their country’s official law also support taking the lives of those who convert to other faiths. But fewer take this position in neighboring Thailand (27%) and Indonesia (18%).

In Central Asia as well as Southern and Eastern Europe, only in Tajikistan (22%) do more than a fifth of Muslims who want sharia as the official law of the land also condone the execution of apostates. Support for killing converts to other faiths falls below one-in-ten in Albania (8%) and Kazakhstan (4%).

Now there is one little problem with this Pew Research data that causes them to understate the real numbers who favor adultery-stonings and apostasy-killings.

Andrew McCarthy explains in National Review:

But what is striking is that the depressing state of affairs is manifest despite Pew’s best efforts to make things seem better than they are. Principally, the survey is about Muslim views about sharia, Islam’s legal system and framework for society. It is intimated that Pew’s study is exhaustive, involving interviews with 38,000 Muslims across 39 countries. But, as my friend Andy Bostom pointed out to me this morning, guess which countries are not included in the survey? That would be Saudi Arabia, Iran and Sudan — perhaps the three most sharia compliant countries in the world, home cumulatively to nearly 150 million Muslims.

[…]In point of fact, sharia is the law of Saudi Arabia and Iran. These countries profess themselves as reflections of the true Islam (Saudi Arabia from the Sunni perspective, Iran from the Shiite) in which no law but sharia is necessary and no departures from sharia are permissible. Sudan (a Sunni Muslim country) is already close to the Saudis and Iranians in this regard and is sure to be more so when it finally adopts a new constitution (which it has been threatening to do for several years).

Iran has about 87 million people, Sudan has about 42 million people, and Saudi Arabia has about 31 million people. These are strict Islamic countries and they were left out of the survey.

So, what are we to make of Obama’s comments now? Are Democrats like Barack Obama, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton accurate enough in their beliefs about the world that we should have confidence in their foreign policy? If they really believe these obvious false assertions, and they are making decisions based on these delusions, then how much does that set back the causes of freedom and democracy in the world? It seems to me that the first rule of protecting the good and fighting against evil is to be able to identify which is which.

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

Yemen rebels eject pro-Western government, Russian troops seize Donetsk airport

Everything is fine! Obama said what a great job he was doing during his State of the Union speech, right?

Middle East Map

Middle East Map

Let’s start with Yemen and the Associated Press:

Yemen’s U.S.-backed president quit Thursday under pressure from rebels holding him captive in his home, severely complicating American efforts to combat al-Qaida’s powerful local franchise and raising fears that the Arab world’s poorest country will fracture into mini-states.

Presidential officials said Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi submitted his resignation to parliament rather than make further concessions to Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, who control the capital and are widely believed to be backed by Iran.

The prime minister and his cabinet also stepped down, making a thinly veiled reference to the Houthis’ push at gunpoint for a greater share of power. Houthis deployed their fighters around parliament, which is due to discuss the situation on Sunday.

Yemeni law dictates that the parliament speaker – Yahia al-Rai, a close ally of former autocratic ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh – will now assume the presidency. Saleh still wields considerable power and is widely believed to be allied with the Houthis.

There were conflicting reports suggesting that authorities in Aden, the capital of southern region of Yemen, would no longer submit to the central government’s authority. Even before the Houthis’ recent ascendance, a powerful movement in southern Yemen was demanding autonomy or a return to the full independence the region enjoyed before 1990. Southerners outrightly reject rule by the Houthis, whose power base is in the north. The Houthis are Zaydis, a Shiite minority that makes up about a third of Yemen’s population.

This BBC article explains more about why this is bad news for the United States. Maybe they will try to blame this one on a Youtube video, again?

Oh, but there is more good news. Thanks to Obama’s fabulous leadership in foreign policy, the Russians have seized control of a Ukrainian airport.

Map of Ukraine

Map of Ukraine

The Wall Street Journal explains:

Shelling killed at least eight people at a bus stop in Donetsk on Thursday, hours after government forces withdrew from the ruins of the city’s airport following months of relentless bombardment.

With government forces in apparent retreat in several spots, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization offered indirect backing for the Ukrainian government’s claims of a fresh influx of Russian troops into eastern Ukraine.

A military spokesman in Kiev said 10 government troops also had been killed in the prior 24 hours—one of the highest single-day totals in weeks.

Separatist forces captured 16 wounded soldiers during the battle overnight at Donetsk airport—then brought the captives to the site of the bus-stop shelling, where they were forced to kneel before a crowd of outraged locals.

[…]Earlier this week, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko said Russia had sent more than 1,000 troops across the border to fight alongside the separatists, putting the total on Ukrainian territory at 9,000.

[…]On Wednesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg had reported “an increase in Russian equipment inside eastern Ukraine,” such as tanks, artillery, armored vehicles and advanced air-defense systems.

With fighting intensifying along the so-called line of contact, Gen. Breedlove said the Russia-backed forces have shown “a renewed capability now to bring pressure on the Ukrainian forces,” gaining ground “in several places.”

While the airport, about 10 kilometers (6 miles) northwest of the city, is in ruins, the government’s withdrawal from the main terminal was a significant blow, at least to morale, after months of dogged resistance.

“Last night we took a decision to leave the terminal and pull back to new lines,” military spokesman Vladislav Seleznyov said. He said the terminal had been damaged to such an extent that it could no longer be defended, but that fighting around the airport was continuing.

Another spokesman, Col. Andriy Lysenko, said some buildings were still standing and being defended, such as the remnants of the airport tower and fire station.

Remember when Obama ridiculed Romney for thinking that Russia was a threat to world peace? Obama said to Romney “The 1980s Are Now Calling to Ask for Their Foreign Policy Back”. I think that was a mistake.

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

Is Obama’s portrait of the state of the world realistic or delusional?

CNS News compares Obama’s words to reality.

Excerpt:

President Obama is “living in a dream world” if he believes the U.S. is “stopping ISIL’s advance” in Iraq and Syria, says former Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton.

In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, Obama said: “In Iraq and Syria, American leadership — including our military power — is stopping ISIL’s advance.  Instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, we are leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group. We’re also supporting a moderate opposition in Syria that can help us in this effort, and assisting people everywhere who stand up to the bankrupt ideology of violent extremism.”

[…]”I think the ISIS threat is growing,” Bolton continued. “They have consolidated control over the territory. They have seized, going back a year now, a year since they took Fallujah, seven months since they took Mosul. And they see weakness on the American side. They think it’s winning support among colleagues in the region.”

Bolton disagreed with Obama’s assertion that the U.S.-led coalition is stopping ISIL’s advance with air strikes.

“No,” he said. “The president is living in a dream world. The fact is, we have no effective way of containing ISIS.”

Bolton said terrorist groups in North Africa, the Middle East, and as far away as Afghanistan and Pakistan are beginning to declare loyalty to ISIS.

“I think moderate Arab regimes in the region, the king of Jordan, the oil-producing monarchies of the Iranians Peninsula, are in fear of what ISIS will do. The president’s notion that we have got opportunities is belied by the continued Iranian progress towards a deliverable nuclear weapons capability. The Middle East is descending into chaos and we are watching.”

Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) told MSNBC on Wednesday morning that Obama “is living in a make-believe world when it comes to our national security.”

Cotton, like Bolton, disagrees that the U.S.-led coalition is stopping ISIS/ISIL’s advance: “That’s simply not the case,” Cotton told “Morning Joe.” “We may have arrested their progress somewhat in Iraq, but you don’t win the war on defense — you win on offense.”

Cotton also mentioned Yemen, cited by Obama just four months ago as an example of a successful counter-terrorism strategy. But Yemen’s government is now dealing with an apparently successful coup attempt.

Powerline blog describes a few more crises Obama failed to speak about accurately. We have problems with Iran continuing their progress towards nuclear weapons. Russia has occupied Crimea and continues to attack targets in Ukraine using regular Russian troops. In Yemen, Shia rebels are attempting a coup against the president, and the U.S. Navy is heading there to evacuate the U.S. embassy if necessary.

Meanwhile, Obama assures us that the real threat we should be worried about is global warming.

CNS News again:

Not radical Muslim terrorism, not an unsecured border, not an ever-growing federal debt that now exceeds $18 trillion, not the fact that 109 million live in households on federal welfare programs. These are not the greatest threats facing us today.

“No challenge–no challenge–poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change,” President Obama declared in his State of the Union Address on Tuesday night.

That’s the top priority of the Democrat party.

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Should we use waterboarding to stop terrorist attacks against schools in Pakistan?

Map of the Middle East

Map of the Middle East

Let’s use a real example to assess whether harsh interrogation techniques are ever justified.

The Wall Street Journal:

Taliban gunmen stormed a military-run school in northwestern Pakistan and killed at least 141 people, methodically shooting schoolchildren in the head and setting fire to some victims in a horrifying 9-hour rampage.

Shahrukh, a 17-year-old survivor of Tuesday’s attack in Peshawar, said many students were assembled in the school auditorium when the gunmen burst in and started spraying bullets. He was shot in both legs and fell to the ground.

“I saw them set one of our teachers on fire in front of me,” he said.

The scale and level of brutality in the massacre marked a grim milestone in Pakistan’s seven-year battle against Islamist insurgents. Of the 141 killed, 132 were schoolchildren. Fifteen bodies of students were burned so badly they couldn’t be immediately identified when they were brought to the city’s Combined Military Hospital, security officials said.

Amir Ameen, 18 years old, said he and 11 other students were taking an exam when two gunmen entered their classroom. They shot students one by one, mostly in the head, he said from his bed at Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital.

The attackers shouted “Allahu akbar” or “God is great” over and over as they shot each student, Mr. Ameen said. They spoke Pashto—the language of Pakistan’s Pashtun ethnic majority in northwest Pakistan and southern Afghanistan.

[…]“The dead children we transported were shot in the head and in the face, some in the eye, as if the gun was close to them,” he said. “The children who were injured had gunshot wounds on the back of their legs and arms. They were in shock, but told us they were hit as they ran away from the attackers.”

[…]“They have attacked funerals and mosques, for them there is no limit. They are operating outside human values,” said Mehmood Shah, a retired security official in Peshawar. “They want to terrorize the population into submission.”

So that’s an example of a terrorist attack. This is 100% OK with people on the left, including self-proclaimed “Christians” who think that coddling terrorists is much better than saving innocent children from terrorists. They consider themselves moral – that’s why we need to see what they celebrate by opposing tough interrogation techniques.

One quick note: Barack Obama failed to blame the Taliban for the attack. It’s just workplace violence. Fort Hood was workplace violence. The attack on the Parliament was senseless violence. It’s never Islamic terrorism, because that would insult the terrorists and make them feel bad about what they did.

Now let’s have a defense of enhanced interrogation techniques with that example in mind.

This is also from the Wall Street Journal.

Bret Stephens writes:

I am not sorry Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the operational mastermind of 9/11, was waterboarded 183 times. KSM also murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Danny Pearl in 2002. He boasted about it: “I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew,” he said after his capture.

I am sorry KSM remains alive nearly 12 years after his capture. He has been let off far too lightly. As for his waterboarding, it never would have happened if he had been truthful with his captors. It stopped as soon as he became cooperative. As far as I’m concerned, he waterboarded himself.

[…]I am not sorry Osama bin Laden died by an American bullet. John Brennan , the CIA director, delivered a master class in rhetorical obfuscation masquerading as epistemology when he waffled last week about the quality of intelligence yielded by the interrogations of KSM and other high-value detainees. But several former directors and deputy directors of the CIA have all attested to the link between KSM’s interrogation and the identification of bin Laden’s courier.

I am sorry that the Feinstein Report, which failed to interview those directors and thus has the credibility of a Rolling Stone article, seeks to deny this. Maybe Sabrina Rubin Erdely, author of the discredited University of Virginia gang-rape story and a pro at failing to interview key witnesses, will find a new career in Sen. Feinstein’s office.

[…]I am sorry that Mr. Cheney, and every other supporter of enhanced interrogation techniques, has to defend the practices as if they were torture. They are not. Waterboarding is part of the military’s standard course in Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape, or SERE. Tens of thousands of U.S. servicemen have gone through it. To describe this as “torture” is to strip the word of its meaning.

In my previous post on this, I wrote about how waterboarding KSM also prevented a 9/11-style attack on Los Angeles.

Economist Thomas Sowell reminds us of the consequences of attacking the CIA, the military and the police.

He writes:

One of the most obscene acts of the Obama administration, when it first took office, was to launch a criminal investigation of CIA agents who had used harsh interrogation methods against captured terrorists in the wake of the devastating September 11, 2001 aerial attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Right after those terrorist attacks, when there were desperate fears of what might be coming next, these CIA agents were trying to spare fellow Americans another attack that could take thousands more lives, or perhaps millions more. To turn on these agents, years later, after they did what they were urged to do, as a patriotic duty in a time of crisis, is both a betrayal of those who acted in the past and a disincentive to those in the future who are charged with safeguarding the nation.

[…]The ease with which politicians are willing to pull the rug out from under people whose job is to safeguard our lives — whether they are CIA agents, the police or the military — is not only a betrayal of those people but a danger to us all.

People who are constantly denouncing the police, including with demonstrable lies, may think they are showing solidarity with people in the ghettos. But, when police hesitate to go beyond “kinder and gentler” policing, that leaves decent people in black communities at the mercy of hoodlums and thugs who have no mercy.

When conscientious young people, of any race, who would like to help maintain peace and order see that being a policeman means having race hustlers constantly whipping up mob hostility against you — and having opportunistic politicians and the media joining the race hustlers — those young people may well decide that some other line of work would be better for them.

High crime areas need not only the most, but the best, police they can get. Taking cheap shots at cops is not the way to get the people who are needed.

When people who volunteer to put their lives on the line in the military to defend this country, at home and abroad, see their buddies killed on the battlefield, and sometimes themselves come back minus an arm or a leg, or with severe physical and mental damage that they may never get over — and then see some headstrong politician in the White House throw away everything they fought for, and see enemy forces take back places for which Americans shed their blood, that can be galling to them and a deterrent to others who might otherwise take their place in the future.

If we cannot see beyond the moment today, we will pay dearly tomorrow and in many more tomorrows.

How about you? Would you be tough on a terrorist in order to prevent an attack like the one on the Pakistan school? Toughness deters future aggression. Or would you rather let the children die? I don’t have any trouble assessing these alternatives.

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

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