Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

58 Democrats boycott Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress on Iran

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke before the U.S. Congress on Tuesday, and below you can find a round-up of reactions.

Here’s The Daily Signal summarizing why Netanyahi opposes the deal:

Netanyahu made the case before Congress that the White House’s efforts to negotiate a deal with Iran have about as much in common with the Camp David Accords as an SNL skit has with a State of the Union Address. The administration’s proposal is anything but a realistic plan for peace.

A real peace plan would demonstrate that all sides were committed to not adding more nuclear weapons powers to the Middle East. The deal as it stands does the opposite—it preserves the nuclear option for Iran—and as result will prompt other regional powers to hedge their bets and prepare to go nuclear as well rather than live in Tehran’s nuclear shadow.

The proposed multi-year moratorium doesn’t end concerns that Iran will build a bomb and put nuclear warheads on long-range missiles. Rather, under the agreement, Tehran can walk up to the edge of becoming a declared armed-nuclear state with a robust missile force and sit there. That hardly sets the condition for sure peace in our time.

Meanwhile, even the shaky stalemate proposed by the agreement rests on the assumption that Tehran won’t follow North Korea’s path to breakout status by cheating on the agreement and then abrogating the deal when it no longer suits the regime.

At the same time the price for Obama’s peace comes pretty high. Tehran demands significant and immediate sanctions relief. That means more money for a corrupt regime with one of the world’s worst human records to perpetuate strangled hold over the people of Iran.

Obama’s deal also means more money for Tehran to prop-up the likes of Hezbollah, Assad, Hamas, the Houthi rebels in Yemen and murderous unaccountable Shia militias in Iraq (which are as big a threat to the future of the country as ISIS). As one of the world’s premier state-sponsors of terrorism, enabling and emboldening Iran’s efforts to reshape the region by force of arms and slaughtering innocents doesn’t make the prospects for peace in the region any brighter.

All the partisan controversy and vitriol over Netanyahu’s speech cannot obscure that the White House has no good answers to the legitimate concerns he raised.

Breitbart News summarizes how the speech was received:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a passionate, inspiring, thoughtful, and “game changing” speech before the American Congress which lasted for about 45 minutes, during which time he was applauded 43 times, often for 15 seconds at a time. His words elicited many standing ovations.

The only other foreign leader to have spoken to Congress three times was Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister. In honor of that, Speaker of the House, John Boehnerplans to present Netanyahu with a bust of Churchill.

Netanyahu received wild applause when he said: “The world should demand that Iran do three things. First, stop its aggression against its neighbors in the Middle East. Second, stop supporting terrorism around the world. And third, stop threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state.”

Israel’s Prime Minister again received rather thunderous applause and a standing ovation when he noted that Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel was in the audience—and when he said: “My friend, standing up to Iran is not easy. Standing up to dark and murderous regimes never is. Elie, your life and work inspires to give meaning to the words, ‘never again!’ And I wish I could promise you, Elie, that the lessons of history have been learned. I can only urge the leaders of the world not to repeat the mistakes of the past.”

At this point Congress outdid itself in term of applause and a standing ovation.

PM Netanyahu was greeted with a thunderous ovation when he first arrived and again after he was introduced.

And here’s Dennis Prager, writing at Investors Business Daily, explaining why Obama refused to meet with Netanyahu:

The prime minister of Israel is at the forefront of the greatest battle against evil in our time — the battle against violent Muslims. No country other than Israel is threatened with extinction, and it is Iran and the many Islamic terror organizations that pose that threat.

It only makes sense, then, that no other country feels the need to warn the world about Iran and Islamic terror as much as Israel.

That’s why, when Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the United Nations about the threat Iran poses to his country’s survival and about the metastasizing cancer of Islamist violence, he unfortunately stands alone.

Virtually everyone listening knows he is telling the truth. And most dislike him for it. Appeasers hate those who confront evil.

Given that this president is the least likely of any president in American history to confront evil — or even identify it — while Benjamin Netanyahu is particularly vocal and eloquent about both identifying and confronting evil, it is inevitable that the former will resent the latter.

Here is the list of 58 Democrats (House and Senate) who walked out of the speech.

And a number of top Democrats — including Vice President Joe Biden, whose job description includes the title President of the Senate — didn’t attend.

[…]At least 50 Democratic House members and eight senators who caucus with the Democrats said in recent weeks they wouldn’t attend the speech, many in protest to a move that they say is an affront to the president.

The full transcript of the speech has been posted by The Weekly Standard.

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John Bolton: U.S. deal with Iran is an “abject surrender”

Neville Chamberlain Obama: peace in our time

Neville Chamberlain Obama: peace in our time

The Weekly Standard featured a column by foreign policy heavyweight John Bolton.

Excerpt:

Negotiations for an “interim” arrangement over Iran’s nuclear weapons program finally succeeded this past weekend, as Security Council foreign ministers (plus Germany) flew to Geneva to meet their Iranian counterpart.  After raising expectations of a deal by first convening on November 8-10, it would have been beyond humiliating to gather again without result.  So agreement was struck despite solemn incantations earlier that “no deal is better than a bad deal.”

This interim agreement is badly skewed from America’s perspective.  Iran retains its full capacity to enrich uranium, thus abandoning a decade of Western insistence and Security Council resolutions that Iran stop all uranium-enrichment activities. Allowing Iran to continue enriching, and despite modest (indeed, utterly inadequate) measures to prevent it from increasing its enriched-uranium stockpiles and its overall nuclear infrastructure, lays the predicate for Iran fully enjoying its “right” to enrichment in any “final” agreement.  Indeed, the interim agreement itself acknowledges that a “comprehensive solution” will “involve a mutually defined enrichment program.”  This is not, as the Obama administration leaked before the deal became public, a “compromise” on Iran’s claimed “right” to enrichment. This is abject surrender by the United States.

In exchange for superficial concessions, Iran achieved three critical breakthroughs. First, it bought time to continue all aspects of its nuclear-weapons program the agreement does not cover (centrifuge manufacturing and testing; weaponization research and fabrication; and its entire ballistic missile program). Indeed, given that the interim agreement contemplates periodic renewals, Iran may have gained all of the time it needs to achieve weaponization not of simply a handful of nuclear weapons, but of dozens or more.

Second, Iran has gained legitimacy. This central banker of international terrorism and flagrant nuclear proliferator is once again part of the international club.  Much as the Syria chemical-weapons agreement buttressed Bashar al-Assad, the mullahs have escaped the political deep freezer.

Third, Iran has broken the psychological momentum and effect of the international economic sanctions. While estimates differ on Iran’s precise gain, it is considerable ($7 billion is the lowest estimate), and presages much more.  Tehran correctly assessed that a mere six-months’ easing of sanctions will make it extraordinarily hard for the West to reverse direction, even faced with systematic violations of Iran’s nuclear pledges.  Major oil-importing countries (China, India, South Korea, and others) were already chafing under U.S. sanctions, sensing President Obama had no stomach either to impose sanctions on them, or pay the domestic political price of granting further waivers.

Seven billion dollars in funding for a nation that is a known sponsor of anti-American terrorism. What kind of moron makes a deal with a regime that is on record for wanting to attack Israel with nuclear weapons? Some sort of reincarnation of Neville Chamberlain, that’s who.

Previously, the Obama administration had been accuesed of leaking details of a strike plan by Israel against Iranian nuclear facilities.

From ABC News.

Excerpt:

Two reports today about Iran’s nuclear program and the possibility of an Israeli military strike have analysts in Israel accusing the Obama administration leaking information to pressure Israel not to bomb Iran and for Iran to reach a compromise in upcoming nuclear talks.

The first report in Foreign Policy quotes anonymous American officials saying that Israel has been given access to airbases by Iran’s northern neighbor Azerbaijan from which Israel could launch air strikes or at least drones and search and rescue aircraft.

The second report from Bloomberg, based on a leaked congressional report, said that Iran’s nuclear facilities are so dispersed that it is “unclear what the ultimate effect of a strike would be…” A strike could delay Iran as little as six months, a former official told the researchers.

“It seems like a big campaign to prevent Israel from attacking,” analyst Yoel Guzansky at the Institute for National Security Studies told ABC News. “I think the [Obama] administration is really worried Jerusalem will attack and attack soon. They’re trying hard to prevent it in so many ways.”

[…]Thursday’s reports come a week after the results of a classified war game was leaked to the New York Times which predicted that an Israeli strike could lead to a wider regional war and result in hundreds of American deaths. In a column this afternoon titled “Obama Betraying Israel?” longtime defense commentator Ron Ben-Yishai at Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper angrily denounced the leaks as a “targeted assassination campaign.”

“In recent weeks the administration shifted from persuasion efforts vis-à-vis decision-makers and Israel’s public opinion to a practical, targeted assassination of potential Israeli operations in Iran,” Ben-Yishai writes. “The campaign’s aims are fully operational: To make it more difficult for Israeli decision-makers to order the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] to carry out a strike, and what’s even graver, to erode the IDF’s capacity to launch such strike with minimal casualties.”

Maybe in the next election, Jewish-American voters will think a little more about who to vote for, in view of these facts. Or maybe it will take the actual nuclear destruction of Israel by Iran to get over their prejudices. As a supporter of peaceful democracies like Israel, I hope it doesn’t come to that.

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Israel PM calls Democrats’ proposed deal with Iran “a very bad deal”

The Weekly Standard reports.

Here’s what BB Netanyahu said about a U.S. proposal on Iran’s nuclear ambitions:

“I met Secretary Kerry right before he leaves to Geneva,” said Netanyahu. “I reminded him that he said that no deal is better than a bad deal. That the deal that is being discussed in Geneva right now is a bad deal. It’s a very bad deal. Iran is not required to take apart even one centrifuge. But the international community is relieving sanctions on Iran for the first time after many years. Iran gets everything that it wanted at this stage and it pays nothing. And this is when Iran is under severe pressure. I urge Secretary Kerry not to rush to sign, to wait, to reconsider, to get a good deal. But this is a bad deal–a very, very bad deal. It’s the deal of a century for Iran; it’s a very dangerous and bad deal for peace and the international community.”

Foreign Policy Initiative says that the deal will weaken sanctions against Iran.

Excerpt:

As the United States and other world powers resume nuclear talks with Iran this week, a senior official in the Obama administration recently told reporters in Geneva that they seek a short-term interim agreement that gives Iran partial and reversible relief from U.S.-led international sanctions, with the goal of getting a package of short-term Iranian concessions that “stops Iran’s nuclear program from moving forward for the first time in decades” and “potentially rolls part of it back.” While this is a laudable goal, the potential package of Iranian concessions that has been discussed in the media would fail to fully freeze Iran’s nuclear program, let alone roll it back.

[…]If it costs the United States nothing to persuade Iran to implement the rumored package of short-term Iranian nuclear concessions, then we should welcome that outcome.   But while U.S. diplomats have not publicly said what they will offer in Geneva, they reportedly are considering relaxing restrictions on Iran’s oil revenues held in overseas accounts and perhaps also on trade in gold and petrochemicals.  Given the difficulties faced at times by the United States in getting allies and partners to support the sanctions regime against Iran’s nuclear program, the Obama administration’s potential forms of sanctions relief could be too dear a price to pay for the rumored package of Iranian concessions.

I was listening to the latest episode of the Weekly Standard podcast this morning and Lee Smith said the real reason that the Obama administration is doing this is to justify an American withdrawal from the Middle East and to abandon our allies in the region – not just Israel, but Saudi Arabia as well.

The Republicans are moving to block the Democrats from lifting sanctions on Iran.

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Chuck Hagel hammered for pro-Iran, anti-Israel statements

(Video H/T American Power Blog)

Fox News reports on the Senate hearings to confirm Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense.

Excerpt:

Defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel endured a barrage of criticism Thursday during his all-day confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill, challenged repeatedly by Republican lawmakers about his past positions on Israel, Iran, Iraq and other issues he’d be sure to confront at the helm of the Pentagon.

The former Nebraska Republican senator was compelled under questioning to walk back a series of past statements, including one in which he complained about the “Jewish lobby.” He had several sparring partners throughout the day, but was questioned perhaps most aggressively by fellow Vietnam War veteran Sen. John McCain and freshman Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, both Republicans.

Hagel was caught by surprise when Cruz played two tapes from appearances on Al Jazeera — one of which showed him not challenging a caller who accused Israel of war crimes, another in which he appeared to agree with the assertion that America is “the world’s bully.”

Of the Israel interview, Cruz said: “The caller suggests that the nation of Israel has committed war crimes, and your response to that was not to dispute that characterization.” He then asked Hagel directly whether he thinks Israel has committed war crimes.

“No, I do not,” Hagel said, while saying he wanted to see the “full context” of the interview.

Cruz called the war-crimes suggestion “particularly offensive given that the Jewish people suffered under the most horrific war crimes in the Holocaust.”

“I would also suggest,” he continued, “that for … a prospective secretary of Defense not to take issue with that claim is highly troubling.”

Cruz then played the tape of Hagel being asked about the perception and “reality” that America is the world’s bully. Hagel could be heard calling the point a “good one.”

Cruz said the answer is “not the conduct one would expect of a secretary of Defense.”

At other times in the hearings, Hagel was also asked about his previous opposition to sanctions against Iran, his desire to let Iran have nuclear weapons and then “contain” them, and his support for eliminating nuclear arms (note that ours are the only ones he could eliminate). In short, the man is a naive left-wing radical who makes Neville Chamberlain look like George S. Patton. Why would anyone vote for him to have control of our military?

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Can the Democrats be trusted to protect our national security?

A Washington Post editorial by three Republican senators highlights a persistent problem.

Excerpt:

Espionage is a dangerous business often seen only through a Hollywood lens. Yet the real-world operations, and lives, that inspire such thrillers are highly perishable. They depend on hundreds of hours of painstaking work and the ability to get foreigners to trust our government.

Sitting in a prison cell in Pakistan is one of those foreigners who trusted us. Shakil Afridi served as a key informant to the United States in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. This brave physician put his life on the line to assist U.S. efforts to track down the most-wanted terrorist in the world, yet our government left him vulnerable to the Pakistani tribal justice system, which sentenced him to 33 years for treason. The imprisonment and possible torture of this courageous man — for aiding the United States in one of the most important intelligence operations of our time — coincides with a deeply damaging leak in another case.

The world learned a few weeks ago that U.S. intelligence agencies and partners had disrupted an al-Qaeda plot to blow up a civilian aircraft using an explosive device designed by an affiliate in Yemen. This disclosure revealed sources and methods that could make future successes more difficult to achieve. The public release of information surrounding such operations also risks the lives of informants and makes it more difficult to maintain productive partnerships with other intelligence agencies. These incidents paint a disappointing picture of this administration’s judgment when it comes to national security.

[…]The problem stems in part from the media’s insatiable desire for real-world information that makes intelligence operations look like those of filmmakers’ imaginations. That is understandable, but this hunger is fed by inexcusable contributions from current and former U.S. officials.

For example, why did the Obama administration hold a conference call May 7 with a collection of former government officials, some of whom work as TV contributors and analysts, to discuss the foiled bomb threat? In doing so, the White House failed to safeguard sensitive intelligence information that gave us an advantage over an adversary. Broadcasting highly classified information notifies every enemy of our tactics and every current and future partner of our inability to provide them the secrecy that often is the difference between life and death.

[…]When they leave Capitol Hill, former members of Congress and their staff are, by law, prohibited from petitioning their former congressional colleagues for up to two years. Yet nothing restricts former security officials from using their government contacts and experience to provide live commentary on breaking news stories.

Furthermore, nothing limits current officials from using their media contacts to control a story — or to even promote a big-budget movie. We were shocked to learn that the White House has also leaked classified details of the bin Laden raid to Hollywood filmmakers, including the confidential identities of elite U.S. military personnel.

The authors:

Dan Coats, Richard Burr and Marco Rubio, all Republicans, represent Indiana, North Carolina and Florida, respectively, in the U.S. Senate and are members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Here’s my take: Democrats want to equalize influence between our country and countries like Iran, China and North Korea. One way they can do this is by undermining our ability to defend our interests abroad. It’s all part of the leftist dream of making everyone “equal” so that there are no disagreements. In a very real sense, leftists are responsible for enabling the human rights abuses and purges that go on in countries like Iran, China and North Korea. They don’t really think that things like shooting pro-Democracy protestors (Iran), coerced abortion (China) and executing Christians for distributing Bibles (North Korea), etc. should be opposed with American influence.

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