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.

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American Sniper thrills audiences – in Baghdad, Iraq!

Chris Kyle, Navy SEAL

Chris Kyle, Navy SEAL

This is a very funny story from the Washington Times.

Excerpt:

Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” has wowed American audiences, but for one short week it also thrilled crowds in Baghdad.

Iraq’s upscale Mansour Mall played the film for one week before the controversy surrounding the film prompted management to end showings.

“Some people watching were just concentrating, but others were screaming ‘[expletive], shoot him! He has an IED, don’t wait for permission!’” said moviegoer Gaith Mohammed, the Global Post reported Wednesday. “I love watching war movies because especially now they give me the strength to face [the Islamic State].”

[…]Mr. Mohammed, asked by the newspaper if he agreed with some Western reviews that labeled the movie racist, replied, “No, why? The sniper was killing terrorists, the only thing that bothered me was when he said he didn’t know anything about the Koran!”

A government ministry employee told the Post he didn’t enjoy the film, taking umbrage with the first scene and what he considered the movie’s overall anti-Muslim overtones.

“The sniper, he has a chance to hit the child and his mother in their foot or anywhere without killing them, but he didn’t because he’s bloodthirsty like all the American troops,” said Wael, who declined to give his last name, the newspaper reported. Wael added that he had seen the film three times.

“American Sniper,” which stars Bradley Cooper, has made $257 million worldwide in two weeks of release. The film, which has garnered six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, was made on a budget of $58 million.

Hilarious that Iraqis are less consumed by race than leftists on an American university campus.

I do have a point to make about this. I wonder if people realize that the reason why so many Muslim countries don’t like us is because they are forming their impressions from anti-morality made by immoral Hollywood secular leftists? If you put out a decent movie that looks realistic and shows Americans taking care of evildoers, people in other countries are going to like us a lot more.

If you haven’t seen American Sniper, what are you waiting for? Go see it!

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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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Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” shows why America goes to war

Chris Kyle, Navy SEAL

Chris Kyle, Navy SEAL

John Nolte explains why so many people are going to see it.

He writes:

“American Sniper” opens during the worst days of Fallujah in Iraq. Kyle (Bradley Cooper) is the eye in the sky watching his fellow warriors through a sniper scope and protecting them when necessary with the kind of precision shooting that will quickly make him a legend (and target).

Through a door, an Iraqi woman emerges with a boy who can’t be older than 10. They walk towards a group of Marines. She hands the boy a large grenade. Kyle has been told by his superiors that what happens next is his call.

Before Kyle can make what seems like an impossible choice (“I’ve never seen such evil,” Kyle says later), Eastwood and his screenwriter Jason Hall take us back in time with one of the best flashback sequences you’ll ever see. The economy is brilliant, and in just a few minutes we see what made Chris Kyle Chris Kyle: His Christian father’s strict but loving moral code, his days as a rodeo rider, his romance with Taya (a terrific Sienna Miller) — the woman who will become his faithful wife, and why two pre-9/11 terrorist attacks on American embassies led Kyle to become a Navy SEAL at the ripe old age of 30.

The rest of the story, which is every bit as compelling (this might be the best-paced film Eastwood has ever made), centers on Kyle’s harrowing four tours of duty and his troubled home life. This is a man deeply in love with his country (“I’d die for this country. America is the greatest country in the world.”) and his young family. He can only be truly faithful to one. “God, country, family,” are the man’s priorities.

“American Sniper” is refreshingly told only from Kyle’s point of view. He reminds a doubting comrade that we’re fighting these “evil f*****g savages” (terrorists) in Iraq so we don’t have to fight them in San Diego. And Eastwood doesn’t flinch from showing these evil f*****g savages for the evil f*****g savages they are. You won’t soon forget watching terrorist mastermind Zarqawi’s chief enforcer, a monster nicknamed The Butcher, slowly torture and murder a young boy with a power drill.

War is ugly and it’s not pretty watching our guys kick in doors. But there are bad guys behind those doors, and no matter how bad those guys might be, Eastwood makes sure the audience knows Americans don’t carry power drills or take lives out of any motive other than self-defense.

There is nothing even close to moral equivalence in “America Sniper,” only the truth: that there is no equivalence between the barbarians who target the innocent and the American heroes who target those who target the innocent.

[…]The Big Emotional Question that drives much of “American Sniper” is whether or not, after it’s all over, Kyle still believes in who he is and what he’s done. The film’s best moment comes when that question is answered, when we learn just what is that is tearing Kyle up inside. “I will stand before my Creator and justify every shot,” he tells a military therapist.

You see, it’s not Iraq or Bush or the military or the mission or even those 160 confirmed kills. What’s eating Kyle alive is that he didn’t do more — didn’t save more United States Marines.

This movie made $90 million on its opening weekend. Why aren’t there more movies like this made in Hollywood?

I’m a big fan of war movies – have been since I was a kid. I like war movies that tell the stories of famous battles a lot, but my favorites are movies that show why we have to fight, and the fundamental goodness of fighting evil on the battlefield, when we are threatened by enemies who cannot be dealt with any other way. My favorite war movies are the ones where there are clear-cut villains, like the German Nazis or the Japanese Imperialists or the North Korean communists. I think Islamic extremists belong in there. Why are people so cautious about celebrating our armed forces for confronting evil as clear-cut as any we have had to face in the past?

I really don’t know what’s gone wrong with this country when we celebrate artists, musicians, actors and athletes more than people in the military, the police and the clandestine services. When I was a young man, I would spend hours making and building model jet fighters and drawing pictures of all kinds of military vehicles. Model jet fighters hung from my ceiling. I had maps of all the allied advances during World War 2 on my wall. I read books like this one, which tells the story of every man who won the medal of honor in World War 2. And when I got older, I read military history and military biographies. For me, the idea of stopping a violent evil person has always been a good thing.

You can read more about Chris Kyle on military.com.

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Eight predictions for 2015

These are from The Federalist.

The list:

  1. The oil stimulus
  2. The EPA’s war on energy
  3. The Supreme Court gets another shot at ObamaCare
  4. Republicans will have just enough power to fight over it
  5. Will anyone challenge Hillary?
  6. A police rebellion
  7. Russia will be in trouble and will be trouble
  8. Did anybody tell the enemy the war is over?

Here’s the one I want to highlight, because it’s the one that concerns me most, at least until we get a Republican President:

7) Russia will be in trouble and will be trouble.

One of the most enjoyable consequences of the oil price collapse is seeing how it takes the wind out of the sails of a whole collection of evil regimes.

Oil is the dictators’ best friend. It is a steady source of revenue that can be maintained and controlled by the government, often with the help of foreign subcontractors, even when government controls, corruption, and cronyism have crushed the rest of the economy. So a collapse in the price of oil is a disaster for the bad guys.

Nobody is getting hit worse than the regime in Venezuela, which is now on the verge of defaulting on its debt. Since Venezuela has been a big economic sponsor of the regime in Cuba, you can see how a Venezuelan collapse will affect Cuba—and may well be the reason the Castros are seeking a lifeline from President Obama.

But the big geopolitical implications will come from the impact of the oil collapse on Russia. For years, the conventional wisdom has been that Europe is dependent on buying Russian oil and gas; now we’re about to see to what extent Russia is dependent on selling its oil and gas to Europe.

The downside is, as Megan McArdle puts it, “Russia’s Problems Are Everyone’s Problems.” “[T]he world is about to experience a major financial crisis in a country that seems to deal with its internal troubles by slicing off bits of neighboring countries.” Like its leader, Vladimir Putin, Russia is a country with a Napoleon complex: the smaller and weaker it gets, the more belligerent it becomes, as a form of overcompensation.

But shirtless macho posturing only gets you so far when you don’t have the cash to back it up. There is some speculation that a financial crisis could lead to defections in Russia’s “near abroad,” its ring of former Soviet republics and fellow kleptocracies. Then there’s the fact that Putin’s aggression has permanently alienated Ukraine, which is now taking steps toward joining NATO. Meanwhile, the Baltic states are increasing their defense budgets. One hopes that other European nations will follow, at a time when Russia is not in a position to match their spending.

I think Russia is weak enough that Putin would slink away with his tail between his legs, if we had an American leader with the guts to call his bluff. But that’s not going to happen, so in 2015, look for a volatile mix of greater belligerence and diminished capability.

When I hear about the collapse of the Russian currency, it makes me worry that we could a lot of scary scenarios as Putin tries to hold his state together.

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