While world suffers, Biden lets millions of vaccine doses expire

June 30, 2021

The United States has hundreds of millions of extra doses of Covid vaccine, and we seem to have reached the point where nearly everyone willing to be vaccinated has been, so it’s a no-brainer that we should share our extra vaccine with the rest of the world. Beyond the direct human toll of the pandemic, it is breeding variants and there’s a possibility that it might breed a variant that our mRNA vaccines won’t protect against.

Basically everyone agrees with this. So why does the Biden administration seem to be unable to do it? We have millions of doses expiring right now:

Millions of J&J Covid-19 Vaccines Are at Risk of Expiring in June

Hospitals, state health departments and the federal government are racing to decide how to use up millions of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine doses that are set to expire this month. The prospect of so many doses going to waste in the U.S. when developing nations are desperate for shots would add pressure on the Biden administration to share stockpiled vaccines.

Instead of just putting the vaccine on planes and shipping it out somewhere — anywhere! — the administration spent weeks dithering about a plan for who should get our excess vaccine and how. And then once they announced the plan that they had worked so hard on, the plan was to give most of the vaccine to COVAX (a branch of the WHO, a UN agency), and let them decide. It took weeks to decide to let someone else decide.

On June 3, we finally saw this optimistic headline, from NPR:

The White House Says It Has Started Shipping Surplus COVID-19 Vaccines Abroad

Alas, the article didn’t really back up the headline:

The United States will send its first shipments of surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses abroad on Thursday [June 3], spelling out for the first time how it will share its wealth of vaccines with parts of the world struggling to get shots in arms. . .

“We expect a regular cadence of shipments around the world across the next several weeks. And in the weeks ahead, working with the world’s democracies we will coordinate a multilateral effort, including the G-7, to combat and end the pandemic,” [White House Covid coordinator] Zients said.

It seems that NPR’s headline writer looked at the calendar, saw that it was the day the Biden administration had promised to start shipping out vaccine, and assumed it must have happened. There’s no reporting in the story to suggest that it actually did.

I’ve been watching all month, looking for any news to suggest that any actual vaccine shipments had taken place. Finally, this week, there was some news:

1.5 Million COVID-19 Vaccine Doses Delivered To Honduras Via COVAX

A fleet of refrigerated trucks emblazoned with the flag of Honduras lined up to receive an air shipment of 1.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines at Armando Escalón Espinal Air Base, San Pedro Sula Airport, Honduras on June 27, 2021.

(Oddly, the story doesn’t actually say that the vaccine arrived and was loaded onto those trucks, but we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.)

Did shipments begin earlier, and I just missed them? I don’t think so. This story says a shipment to Peru at about the same time was the first:

U.S. Ships First Coronavirus Vaccines Abroad, Donating 2 Million to Peru

The United States will begin shipping its first doses of the coronavirus vaccine to other countries on Monday [June 28].

The story does appear to be a little bit wrong, as the Honduras shipment appears to have been one day earlier, but that’s a minor error. Clearly, Honduras and Peru are part of the same effort, which US News says was the first.

So what about about those millions of J&J doses that expire (optimistically) today? Those aren’t the doses we sent Honduras and Peru; we sent them Pfizer and Moderna. We appear to be letting all those doses expire.

Moreover, we have a lot more excess vaccine that isn’t about to expire, but we aren’t going to use. (Notably, 60 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine which isn’t approved in the US.) We may get all that shipped out eventually, but people are dying right now. We already missed the opportunity to help India when they badly needed it.

In the room where it didn’t happen

July 17, 2020

Danny Ayalon, formerly deputy foreign minister in Israel, tells the story of the day, exactly 20 years ago, when Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat everything. He offered East Jerusalem and three-quarters of the Old City, holding back only the Jewish Quarter and the Wailing Wall. But:

Everyone in the room stared at Arafat, who didn’t know what to say. He hadn’t envisioned or prepared for such a scenario. Finally he spoke: “I am sorry but I cannot accept this offer. There was never a Jewish Temple, so I cannot accept any Israeli presence. Not even underground.”

There was no way Arafat was making peace under any circumstances.

The tragedy of Venezuela

August 2, 2017

Dedicated to all the socialists who have defended Chavism (some on this very site):

Venezuela had been a rising nation, buoyed by the world’s largest oil reserves, but by the time I arrived, even high global oil prices couldn’t keep shortages and rapid inflation at bay. . .

Over the course of three years, I said good-bye to most of those friends, as well as regular long-distance phone service and six international airline carriers. I got used to carrying bricks of rapidly devaluing cash in tote bags to pay for meals. We still drove to the beach, but began hurrying back early to get off the highway before bandits came out. Stoplights became purely ornamental because of the risk of carjackings.

There was no war or natural disaster. Just ruinous mismanagement that turned the collapse of prices for the country’s oil in 2015 into a national catastrophe.

POSTSCRIPT: I do have to point out that she contradicts herself between the first and last line. The fall in oil prices hastened Venezuela’s collapse, but it wasn’t the cause, as she recognizes in the first line. Today, the price of oil hardly matters, as Venezuela is mostly incapable of producing oil any more.

Iran deal is illegal

October 9, 2015


Some senior U.S. officials involved in the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal have privately concluded that a key sanctions relief provision – a concession to Iran that will open the doors to tens of billions of dollars in U.S.-backed commerce with the Islamic regime – conflicts with existing federal statutes and cannot be implemented without violating those laws, Fox News has learned.

But so what if it’s illegal? Does that still matter any more?


September 28, 2015

Barack Obama clearly has no idea what motivates Iran’s rulers:

Chanting death to America does not create jobs.

Judging not only by this clip, but from the entire speech, it seems never to have occurred to Obama that economic prosperity might not be their aim.

This always seems to be our problem with this bunch: We assume that they think like we do. This was the central folly of the Oslo agreement. It seemed to us like a really fair and reasonable agreement. I confess that I too was taken in. But it assumed that the Palestinians wanted peace. In the years since 1993, we’ve learned that they (and all the Islamist fundamentalists) want peace only after the complete annihilation and/or subjugation of their enemies.

What was an excusable error in 1993 is sheer idiocy now.

Smart diplomacy

September 18, 2015

It seems that the Russians offered to dump Bashar Assad in 2012. The Obama administration refused the offer because they were sure the Assad would fall soon without Russian assistance.


Feel good story of the day

August 6, 2015

According to this article at the Telegraph, your favorite terrorist-supporting, woman-oppressing monopolists are screwed:

Saudi Arabia may go broke before the US oil industry buckles
It is too late for OPEC to stop the shale revolution. The cartel faces the prospect of surging US output whenever oil prices rise

I sure hope this is true. But if economic means have failed, it just means that the Saudis and their gang will redouble their efforts to stop fracking by political means. Matt Damon, call your office.

POSTSCRIPT: This chart is really interesting:


Wow, how badly is Venezuela run?

John Kerry really is an idiot

July 20, 2015

One of the serious concerns about the Iran nuclear deal — other than the fact that now Iran will have nuclear weapons soon — is the possibility (nay, inevitability) Iran will take the money it’s getting and use it to fund terrorism. And we’re not talking chump change; it’s over a quarter of Iran’s GDP. That kind of money can murder a lot of people.

When Judy Woodruff asked John Kerry about this, he stammered a bit and then said:

They’re not allowed to do that. They’re not allowed to do that.

Kerry then went on to explain that there are already UN resolutions that prohibit Iran from funding terrorism, apparently without realizing that that admission completely vitiates his point. (Dear John Kerry: If the UN resolutions already aren’t stopping Iran, why would they stop Iran now?)

This fool is our Secretary of State. Can you imagine if he had been president?

UPDATE: National Security Adviser Susan Rice contradicts Kerry:

We should expect that some portion of that money would go to the Iranian military and could potentially be used for the kinds of bad behavior that we have seen in the region up until now.

The past ain’t what it used to be

July 20, 2015

So now we’re told that meaningful inspections weren’t ever on the table in the first place:

On April 7, 2015, President Barack Obama’s National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told CNN’s Jake Tapper, “under this deal, you will have anywhere, any time 24/7 access as it relates to the nuclear facilities that Iran has.”

Now, on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Secretary of State John Kerry said, “This is a term that, honestly, I never heard in the four years that we were negotiating. It was not on the table. There’s no such thing in arms control as any time, anywhere.”

Did they lie then, or are they lying today?

This is why we didn’t join the ICC

July 17, 2015

Five years ago, Turkish anti-Israel militants on a flotilla purporting to carry humanitarian supplies to Gaza ambushed Israeli soldiers who boarded their ship. A battle ensued in which a few of the thugs were killed, and a predictable international outrage followed.

The prosecutor at the International Criminal Court looked into it and found no grounds to bring charges. (ASIDE: Astonishingly, given its history of hostility to Israel, the UN issued a report that fully exonerated Israel.) In a sane world, the matter would be over, but we do not live in a sane world.

The ICC itself has now ordered the prosecutor to reopen the investigation, and refers to crimes having been committed. Gee, I wonder what the outcome of the case will be when the judges themselves are directing the prosecution?

Under the circumstances, there could be no real doubt about whether the proceedings will be fair, but nevertheless the order makes it even more clear. It explicitly orders the prosecutor to take public outrage (i.e., politics) into consideration in his investigation.

(Previous post.)


July 7, 2015

Fox News reports:

International negotiators have extended their deadline once again as they struggle to reach a nuclear deal with Iran.

Negotiators had been running up against a Tuesday deadline, after initially extending a June 30 deadline amid lingering differences. On Tuesday morning, the State Department said the new deadline is now Friday, as talks continue.

Amazingly, they still haven’t figured out what’s going on here. They have left mere stupidity behind, and are in willful-blindness territory now.

Obama administration threatens reporter with arrest for attending press conference

June 29, 2015

The Washington Free Beacon reports:

Officials with the Department of State threatened to call security Monday on a Washington Free Beacon reporter who was attempting to report on a briefing held by senior Obama administration figures in Vienna on the eve of an expected nuclear agreement with Iran.

Two State Department officials booted the Free Beacon from a room where Wendy Sherman, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, was talking to reporters, despite the Free Beacon’s being credentialed by the Austrian government for the ongoing Iranian nuclear talks.

Western observers present in Vienna for the talks linked the State Department’s behavior to jitters over media coverage revealing a still growing list of concessions being made to Iran by the Obama administration. . .

“You have a press pass from the [European Union], not from me,” Turley said, after being informed that the Free Beacon was officially credentialed to cover the event.

Turley and her colleagues then threatened the reporter, instructing him to leave the room or be dealt with by “security.”

Taking such an extreme step to exclude a reporter from a press briefing does not indicate confidence. It also speaks poorly of the rest of the press that they accepted this.

(Via Instapundit.)

Naturally not those chemical weapons

June 29, 2015

While America focuses its attention on domestic concerns, the rest of the world keeps getting more dangerous:

U.S. intelligence agencies believe there is a strong possibility the Assad regime will use chemical weapons on a large scale as part of a last-ditch effort to protect key Syrian government strongholds if Islamist fighters and other rebels try to overrun them, U.S. officials said.

That’s strange, because Syria doesn’t have any chemical weapons any more. Barack Obama told me so:

The reason we did not [take military action] was because Assad gave up his chemical weapons. And that’s not speculation on our part. That, in fact, has been confirmed by the organization internationally that is charged with eliminating chemical weapons.

How is there a strong possibility Assad will use chemical weapons — on a large scale, no less — when he gave them all up? It almost sounds like our president wasn’t telling the truth.

(Via Morning Jolt.)

I wonder why our allies don’t trust us?

June 28, 2015

Our treaty with the Marshall Islands (formerly part of the US Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, and independent since 1986) provides that the United States takes full responsibility for their defense. In the words of the State Department:

The United States has full authority and responsibility for security and defense of the Marshall Islands, and the Government of the Marshall Islands is obligated to refrain from taking actions that would be incompatible with these security and defense responsibilities.

But when a Marshall Islands ship was seized by Iran, the Pentagon announced:

You thought that treaty meant something to the Obama administration? Think again.

UPDATE: David Kopel gives the Pentagon’s position more thorough consideration than it deserves, and finds it wanting.

(Via Hot Air.)

Iran lies, Obama hides

December 10, 2014

Time and time again, the Obama administration has promised that it would impose further sanctions on Iran if it violated agreements to end its nuclear weapons program. Power Line has a list of many such announcements, including this one from the president himself;

So I’ve heard arguments, well, but you know, this way we can assured and the Iranians will know that if negotiations fail even new and harsher sanctions will be put into place. Listen, I don’t think the Iranians have any doubt that Congress would be more than happy to pass more sanctions legislation. We can do that in a — in a day, on a dime.

“In a day, on a dime.” This is a clear statement.

Alas, it’s a clear statement from Barack Obama, who rarely means anything he promises. Consistently, he utters strong words that sound good to get himself past whatever controversy he faces, but those strong words are forgotten as soon as the matter fades from the front pages. No serious action is contemplated, much less undertaken.

And this is no exception. We have known for over a month that Iran is cheating on its latest agreement, more than enough time for sanctions that can be impose “in a day, on a dime.” But we have done nothing except complain in secret. In secret, so that the matter won’t hit the front pages and thereby require more strong words from Obama.

Washington has evidence that Tehran is trying to buy new equipment for a key nuclear facility. But the White House isn’t willing to say anything publicly about it.

The United States has privately accused Iran of going on an international shopping spree to acquire components for a heavy-water reactor that American officials have long feared could be used in the production of nuclear weapons-grade plutonium.

A U.S. delegation informed a U.N. Security Council panel of experts monitoring Iranian sanctions in recent months that Iranian procurement agents have been increasing their efforts to illicitly obtain equipment for the IR-40 research reactor at the Arak nuclear complex.

The American allegations, which have never before been reported, come more than a year after the Iranian government pledged . . . to scale back Iran’s most controversial nuclear-related activities. . . They stand in stark contrast to recent remarks by Secretary of State John Kerry, who has repeatedly credited Tehran with abiding by the terms of the November 2013 pact. . .

The U.S. allegations were detailed in a confidential Nov. 7 report by an eight-member panel of experts that advises a U.N. Security Council committee that oversees international compliance with U.N. sanctions on Iran. The report, which cites an unnamed state as the source of the allegation, doesn’t identify the United States by name. But diplomatic sources confirmed that the United States presented the briefing.

The allegations were formally made on November 7, so the facts have been known even longer. But the White House has hushed the whole matter up.

This all makes sense, if you remember that Barack Obama can’t “even fake an interest in foreign policy.” Nothing he says on foreign policy is in earnest; whatever he says is only an effort to make the subject go away. Any action — such as following through on threats — that might make a foreign policy matter gain attention is forbidden.


November 12, 2014

The NYT reports:

In his first year as secretary of state, Mr. Kerry joined with the Russians to push Syria to turn over its chemical weapons, persuaded the Israelis and Palestinians to resume direct peace talks, and played the closing role in the interim nuclear agreement with Iran. But while the public’s attention has been on his diplomacy in the Middle East, behind the scenes at the State Department Mr. Kerry has initiated a systematic, top-down push to create an agencywide focus on global warming.

An agency-wide focus on global warming. I guess all that other stuff must be finished. Glad to hear the world’s a safe enough place now that we can waste our time on such things.

Still, based on Clinton’s and Kerry’s records at State, maybe an agency-wide focus is the best possible way to prevent agreement on global warming.

(Via Instapundit.)

Smart diplomacy

October 29, 2014

This, from the administration that proclaims its foreign policy doctrine to be “don’t do stupid [expletive]”:

The other day I was talking to a senior Obama administration official about the foreign leader who seems to frustrate the White House and the State Department the most. “The thing about Bibi is, he’s a [expletive],” this official said. . .

This comment is representative of the gloves-off manner in which American and Israeli officials now talk about each other behind closed doors, and is yet another sign that relations between the Obama and Netanyahu governments have moved toward a full-blown crisis. . .

Over the years, Obama administration officials have described Netanyahu to me as recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and “Aspergery.” (These are verbatim descriptions; I keep a running list.)

And this:

The bad thing about him is that he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states. The only thing he’s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He’s not [Yitzhak] Rabin, he’s not [Ariel] Sharon, he’s certainly no [Menachem] Begin. He’s got no guts.”

Which is to say that Netanyahu is unwilling to make any more pointless concessions to an enemy who has no interest in peace. Begin had a legitimate partner (Egypt). Rabin’s Oslo accord seemed like a good idea at the time, but turned out to be a historic blunder which, by allowing the PLO to take charge of Gaza and the West Bank, incalculably harmed Israeli security. Sharon unilaterally disengaged from Gaza and southern Lebanon. The jury is still out on whether that helped or hurt. If Netanyahu had “guts”, he’d be willing to damage Israeli interests.

And this:

For their part, Obama administration officials express, in the words of one official, a “red-hot anger” at Netanyahu for pursuing settlement policies on the West Bank, and building policies in Jerusalem, that they believe have fatally undermined Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace process.

There’s some projection going on here. Israeli settlements have fatally undermined Kerry’s peace process (note: if it were working, it would be Obama’s) because Obama unwisely and unnecessarily decided to link negotiations to his demand for a settlement freeze.

And finally this:

This official agreed that Netanyahu is a [expletive] on matters related to the comatose peace process, but added that he’s also a “coward” on the issue of Iran’s nuclear threat. The official said the Obama administration no longer believes that Netanyahu would launch a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities in order to keep the regime in Tehran from building an atomic arsenal. “It’s too late for him to do anything. Two, three years ago, this was a possibility. But ultimately he couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it’s too late.”

Way to bury the lede! The Obama administration pressured Israel not to act against Iran’s nuclear program? This isn’t surprising, but I don’t think it’s been confirmed before.

And Netanyahu is a “coward” for yielding to the administration’s pressure. Let this be noted by everyone who deals with this administration: If you do what Obama demands, you will only earn his contempt.

UPDATE: John Hinderaker makes an important observation that actually casts this in an even worse light:

But consider: the “senior Obama administration official” made the comment in a conversation with a reporter, Goldberg, who was working on a story about the strained relationship between the Obama and Netanyahu governments. He must have known that the “chickenshit” characterization would be quoted, albeit anonymously. He must have wanted it to be quoted. He must have known that it would garner a great deal of attention.

Stupid [expletive] indeed.

UPDATE: David Bernstein has an insightful post on how Obama severely misjudged Israeli politics:

The Obama Administration came in to office thinking it could either force Netanyahu to make concessions, or force his government to fall. Both the Shamir and the first Netanyahu governments made concessions and ultimately got tossed out by the voters after tensions rose with the U.S., so this was not a completely unreasonable  assumption. . .

The very popular (in Israel) Bill Clinton confronting an only mildly popular Netanyahu in 1998 played very differently in Israel than a very unpopular Obama confronting a popular Netanyahu over the last several years. . .

Instead, Netanyahu has managed to stay his own course, and still is in no danger of losing his parliamentary majority. Hence administration frustration and “[expletive].”

Why is Obama so unpopular in Israel? Because Israelis have paid attention to a lot of things that Americans have not. Bernstein lists lots of examples. It’s not for no reason that Israeli opinion on whether Obama is friend of Israel is within the margin of error of zero.

Fisking the president

September 22, 2014

Let me say first that I support military action against ISIS (or ISIL or the Islamic State, if you prefer). But I think that whatever we do ought to be serious and have a good chance of success. Otherwise, it looks like the president is just pretending to action because he’s suffering in the polls.

That exactly how President Obama’s ISIS speech looks. It’s so full of idiocy and mendacity, we have to go through it line-by-line:

My fellow Americans, tonight I want to speak to you about what the United States will do with our friends and allies to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.

First line, first lie. He doesn’t want to do anything of the sort; he’s being forced to do it by the weight of public opinion.

As Commander-in-Chief, my highest priority is the security of the American people. Over the last several years, we have consistently taken the fight to terrorists who threaten our country. We took out Osama bin Laden and much of al Qaeda’s leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Oh, that again. By now, boasting about Bin Laden, Obama sounds like a middle-aged man bragging about how he scored the touchdown that won the big game in high school.

We’ve targeted al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, and recently eliminated the top commander of its affiliate in Somalia. . .

Actually, the situation in Yemen looks very bad. But I guess it’s true that we’ve targeted them.

Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not “Islamic.” No religion condones the killing of innocents.

ISIL’s interpretation of Islam is incorrect, according to the President of the United States. A presidential fatwa, as it were.

President Bush started this line in 2001, when he tried to assure the Muslim world that the war on terror was not a war on Muslims. That was probably the right thing to do in 2001, and it worked to some extent. But 13 years later, opinions in the Muslim world are made up, and aren’t going to be changed by a line in a speech. And anyway, this speech is directed to the domestic audience, not to the Muslim world.

For years we’ve been told that Islam is peaceful, and the Islamic doctrine of jihad — “holy war” — doesn’t refer to war at all, but to a peaceful inner struggle. Mohammed certainly did not see it that way, but since I’m personally uninterested in fidelity to Mohammed, I would love it if Muslims everywhere adopted the peaceful interpretation. But as an outsider, the peacefulness of Islam is primarily an empirical question. I think Jonah Goldberg is right that it’s time they started convincing us, rather than the other way around.

No religion condones the killing of innocents.

Yes, I had to repeat this line, because it’s so breathtakingly stupid. Let’s agree, arguendo, that this is true in regard to Islam. No religion at all condones the killing of innocents? Various cultures have been practicing human sacrifice for millenia. The Aztecs were famous for it. Parts of India still practiced suttee in the 1980s. ISIS absolutely is religious, even if their religion is not true Islam.

And the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim. . .

This is true in exactly the same way as it is true that the vast majority of Stalin’s victims were Russian or Ukrainian. That’s who he was able to lay his hands on.

Last month, I ordered our military to take targeted action against ISIL to stop its advances. . . These strikes have protected American personnel and facilities, killed ISIL fighters, destroyed weapons, and given space for Iraqi and Kurdish forces to reclaim key territory. . .

Yeah, the Kurds are great. Our airstrikes might have helped them somewhat. You know what really helps them? Letting them buy weapons! I’m glad we finally seem to be doing that. We should have done it years ago.

But this is not our fight alone. American power can make a decisive difference, but we cannot do for Iraqis what they must do for themselves, nor can we take the place of Arab partners in securing their region. . .

Fair enough, but let’s remember it wasn’t so long ago that the official Democratic position was that we should never, ever outsource our security to the locals.

In June, I deployed several hundred American servicemembers to Iraq to assess how we can best support Iraqi security forces. Now that those teams have completed their work –- and Iraq has formed a government –- we will send an additional 475 servicemembers to Iraq. As I have said before, these American forces will not have a combat mission –- we will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq.

We’ll see about that. Indeed, by ruling out the possibility of that we might go in there and crush them, we may well embolden them, making a full ground war all the more necessary. These people have never learned the virtue of being coy about how far you might go.

But they are needed to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces with training, intelligence and equipment. . .

Two words here, “Kurdish” and “equipment”, are far more important than everything else in this speech. At least he mentioned them.

Across the border, in Syria, we have ramped up our military assistance to the Syrian opposition. . .

Years ago, this likely would have made a difference. Today, all of Assad’s enemies who were friendly to us are dead. In the unlikely event that the Syrian opposition manages to overthrow Assad, we’re just going to see a replay of the Libya debacle. (Interesting tidbit: the word “Libya” appears nowhere in this speech.)

Who’s left fighting Assad? People like this: “Syrian rebels and jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria have agreed a non-aggression pact for the first time. . .”

Third, we will continue to draw on our substantial counterterrorism capabilities to prevent ISIL attacks. . . And in two weeks, I will chair a meeting of the U.N. Security Council to further mobilize the international community around this effort.

I’m sure ISIS is shaking in fear of UN action.

Fourth, we will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians who have been displaced by this terrorist organization. This includes Sunni and Shia Muslims who are at grave risk, as well as tens of thousands of Christians and other religious minorities. We cannot allow these communities to be driven from their ancient homelands.

What? Humanitarian assistance is well and good, but it won’t get those refugees back in their homes.

So this is our strategy.

Here’s the tl;dr version: (1) airstrikes, (2) ground forces who will absolutely not have a combat mission, (3) counterterrorism, (4) humanitarian aid.

And in each of these four parts of our strategy, America will be joined by a broad coalition of partners.

I can’t let this go. Who, exactly, is part of the “broad coalition”? Forty nations deployed troops to Iraq, and that coalition was proclaimed a sham because it didn’t include France and Germany. We don’t know who will be in this coalition, because it doesn’t exist yet. The Obama administration is working frantically to assemble it.

We do know that the coalition won’t have Germany, and Britain (who always supported us before we discarded the special relationship) is vacillating.

My administration has also secured bipartisan support for this approach here at home.

Indeed he has. And Obama is unfortunate that he is a Democrat. Were he a Republican, not only would his bipartisan support evaporate at the first sign of difficulty, they would actually pretend that they never supported it in the first place.

I have the authority to address the threat from ISIL . . .

Wow. Exactly where that authority derives from is left unsaid, and for good reason. The 2001 AUMF directed at Al Qaeda doesn’t seem to apply, since ISIS did not collaborate in 9/11 and is not affiliated with Al Qaeda.

The 2002 Iraq War Resolution may provide authority. It gives the president the power to “defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq”, which won’t do, even if you set aside “continuing”, since ISIS is not Iraq. But it also authorizes the president to “enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq”. There are so many UN resolutions concerning Iraq that some of them arguably apply. Of course, this slender reed relies on ignoring the fact that the Iraq War was over. (The White House said in June that the Iraq War resolution “is no longer used for any U.S. government activities.”)

But at the time at which he said this, the White House had not yet figured out where that authority would come from. The New York Times reports “public and background briefings for reporters this week mentioned only the 9/11 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, or A.U.M.F., and not the Iraq authorization, as did a statement the White House released after Mr. Obama’s speech,” but within days they were citing the Iraq War resolution as well.

Ironically, the White House called for the repeal of both resolutions just a few months ago. In May, the president announced “So I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the [9/11] AUMF’s mandate.” And in July, the National Security Adviser wrote the House Speaker “we believe a more appropriate and timely action for Congress to take is the repeal of the outdated 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq. . . With American combat troops having completed their withdrawal from Iraq on December 18, 2011, the Iraq AUMF is no longer used for any U.S. government activities [Scofflaw: there’s that phrase again] and the Administration fully supports its repeal. Such a repeal would go much further in giving the American people confidence that ground forces will not be sent into combat in Iraq.”

Now, the president certainly has the innate Constitutional power to deal with ISIS. That power is statutorily limited by the War Powers Act, but after Obama ran his Libya campaign in flagrant violation of the War Powers Act, it has to be considered a dead letter. But it’s awfully hard for them to make that case after all the Democratic caterwauling over the unitary executive theory, and Joe Biden’s threats to impeach President Bush if he dealt with Iran without Congressional authorization.

but I believe we are strongest as a nation when the President and Congress work together. So I welcome congressional support for this effort in order to show the world that Americans are united in confronting this danger. . .

That’s a reversal of his pledge in May, “I will not sign laws designed to expand this mandate [the AUMF] further.” Obviously, positions must change when situations change. But ISIS was certainly already active in May; they captured Fallujah in January. (Days before Obama derided ISIS as a “JV squad.”) The only change is public opinion forced Obama to start paying attention.

It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. . .

Yeah, we get it. We’re ruling out any possibility that we just might launch an effective campaign.

Next week marks six years since our economy suffered its worst setback since the Great Depression. . .

This again. He always goes back there whenever he’s in trouble.

Energy independence is closer than it’s been in decades. . .

Thanks to fracking. And it could be even closer if Obama doesn’t succeed in forcing Canada to send their oil overseas.

It is America that has rallied the world against Russian aggression, and in support of the Ukrainian peoples’ right to determine their own destiny. . .

What?! We did nothing of the sort! I wish we had.

It is America that helped remove and destroy Syria’s declared chemical weapons so that they can’t pose a threat to the Syrian people or the world again.

This is a great lawyerly statement. Yes, we helped destroy the weapons that Syria declared. Of course, the ones that Syria didn’t declare, those they still have.

And it is America that is helping Muslim communities around the world not just in the fight against terrorism, but in the fight for opportunity, and tolerance, and a more hopeful future. . .

How exactly? I saw America stand back and watch the Arab Spring turn sour. A once-in-history opportunity, and we blew it.

When we helped prevent the massacre of civilians trapped on a distant mountain, here’s what one of them said: “We owe our American friends our lives. Our children will always remember that there was someone who felt our struggle and made a long journey to protect innocent people.”

Good for us. But how did those civilians get trapped on the distant mountain in the first place? We did nothing as, month after month, ISIS steadily gained territory. We did nothing as ISIS drove those civilians from their homes. We did nothing as those civilians fled to that mountain. Then, when those people faced massacre, the public finally noticed, which forced Obama to take notice. Even now, have those people been able to return home? The media has moved on, but I doubt it.

How we got here

September 12, 2014

The following are required reading to understand how Iraq, quiescent in 2009 (so much so that the Obama administration was actually taking credit in February 2010), got into the terrible state it’s in today:

  1. Why we stuck with Maliki — and lost Iraq” details how the United States acquiesced to Nouri al-Maliki’s coup (supported by Iran) in 2010.
  2. Obama’s Disastrous Iraq Policy: An Autopsy” gives the sequel, how Iraq disintegrated under Maliki’s increasingly tyrannical rule, while US policy was “Let Maliki do whatever he wants so long as he keeps Iraq off the front page.”
  3. Finally, when the New York Times’s Baghdad bureau chief was asked to evaluate the Obama administration’s Iraq policy:

    Q. How do you rate the Obama administration’s actions in Iraq? What did they do right? What did they get wrong?

    A. It’s not my job to rate the Obama administrations actions in Iraq. But I will tell you that after 2011 the administration basically ignored the country. And when officials spoke about what was happening there they were often ignorant of the reality. They did not want to see what was really happening because it conflicted with their narrative that they left Iraq in reasonably good shape. In 2012 as violence was escalating I wrote a story, citing UN statistics, that showed how civilian deaths from attacks were rising. Tony Blinken, who was then Biden’s national security guy and a top Iraq official, pushed back, even wrote a letter to the editor, saying that violence was near historic lows. That was not true. Even after Falluja fell to ISIS at the end of last year, the administration would push back on stories about Maliki’s sectarian tendencies, saying they didn’t see it that way. So there was a concerted effort by the administration to not acknowledge the obvious until it became so apparent — with the fall of Mosul — that Iraq was collapsing.

    (Capital letters added, and emphasis mine.) (Via Hot Air.)

If we are going to re-engage with Iraq now; well, it’s necessary. But we need to do it on the basis of reality, not Obama administration fantasy, and I have little confidence that we will.

$#*! my president says

September 11, 2014

Even the New York Times is noticing that Barack Obama is out of touch with reality:

When President Obama addresses the nation on Wednesday to explain his plan to defeat Islamic extremists in Iraq and Syria, it is a fair bet he will not call them the “JV team.”

Nor does he seem likely to describe Iraq as “sovereign, stable and self-reliant” with a “representative government.” And presumably he will not assert after more than a decade of conflict that “the tide of war is receding.”

As he seeks to rally Americans behind a new military campaign in the Middle East, Mr. Obama finds his own past statements coming back to haunt him. Time and again, he has expressed assessments of the world that in the harsh glare of hindsight look out of kilter with the changed reality he now confronts. . .

“I don’t think it is just loose talk, I think it’s actually revealing talk,” said Peter H. Wehner, a former adviser to President George W. Bush now at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. “Sometimes words are mistakes; they’re just poorly put. But sometimes they’re a manifestation of one’s deep belief in the world and that’s what you really get with President Obama.”

Asked for comment, the White House fell back on their old, tired, “what about the WMDs?!” They’ve got nothing else.

I actually think it’s worse than Wehner suggests. I don’t think Obama’s statement reveal his deep beliefs; on the contrary, I think they confirm that he can’t “even fake an interest in foreign policy” (as a prominent Democrat put it). Obama is a purely political animal; everything he says in regard to foreign policy is an effort to dispense with it, so he can return to what really drives him, which is advancing his domestic agenda.

(Via Instapundit.)

Funny but sad

September 10, 2014

Jim Treacher:

“Knock knock.”
“Who’s there?”
“ISIL who?”
“ISIL have no idea what to do about this $#!+.”
— @BarackObama to WH Press Corps, 9/10/14

(Via Instapundit.)

Never mind

September 6, 2014

Just a few weeks ago, President Obama was proclaiming his success in destroying Syria’s chemical weapons:

Today we mark an important achievement in our ongoing effort to counter the spread of weapons of mass destruction by eliminating Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpile. The most lethal declared chemical weapons possessed by the Syrian regime were destroyed by dedicated U.S. civilian and military professionals using a unique American capability aboard the M/V Cape Ray – and they did so aboard that U.S. vessel several weeks ahead of schedule.

Or not:

The United States expressed concern on Thursday that Syria’s government might be harboring undeclared chemical weapons, hidden from the internationally led operation to purge them over the past year, and that Islamist militant extremists now ensconced in that country could possibly seize control of them.

(Via Instapundit.)

Obama missing at NATO summit

September 4, 2014

The prominent Democrat who said that President Obama can’t “even fake an interest in foreign policy” sure wasn’t joking. The NATO summit — at which western powers were supposed to reaffirm their commitment to collective security in the face of Russian agression — opened today. Obama didn’t even show up:

President Obama was nowhere to be found during the beginning of a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine commission in Wales on Thursday. Obama was “noticeably absent” from the start of the meeting, according to a White House pool report, although U.S. Ambassador to NATO Douglas Lute was in attendance.

Oh yeah, just send the ambassador. That’ll show Putin how serious you are.

If half of life is just showing up, Barack Obama isn’t even half a president.

(Via Instapundit.)

The middle ground

August 29, 2014

I meant to post this cartoon a month ago:



August 29, 2014

“We don’t have a strategy yet.”

I wish he would have just lied.

But worse than his admission that he has no strategy, was his position — classic too-clever-by-half Obama material — that it would somehow have been inappropriate to have a strategy for dealing with ISIS. That’s utter nonsense, as confirmed by the White House making the rounds today emphasizing that, despite what the president said, they absolutely, positively, really, really do have a strategy.

Obama foreign policy

August 6, 2014


On Wednesday, Qaraqosh, the largest Christian town in northern Iraq’s Nineveh province, came under assault from the Islamic State, and all 50 to 60,000 of its residents have fled to Erbil in Kurdistan. . .

The enormity of the humanitarian crisis of the cascading exodus from Nineveh was overshadowed, though, by the early reports indicating genocide is taking place against the people of Sinjar, who are mostly followers of the Yazidi religion but also include some Christians.

America’s response is to issue a statement:

We urge all parties to the conflict to allow safe access to the United Nations and its partners so they can deliver lifesaving humanitarian assistance, including to those Iraqi families reportedly encircled by ISIL on Mount Sinjar.

We urge them?! Does the administration think ISIS is doing this by accident?

And lest you think that the title, calling this Obama’s foreign policy, is too harsh, let’s remember that Obama specifically said that he would accept genocide as the price of leaving Iraq:

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Thursday the United States cannot use its military to solve humanitarian problems and that preventing a potential genocide in Iraq isn’t a good enough reason to keep U.S. forces there. . .

Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois, said it’s likely there would be increased bloodshed if U.S. forces left Iraq. . .

War on women

July 24, 2014

While the Democrats prattle on about how allowing a Christian employer to decline to supply abortion drugs somehow constitutes a “war on women”, Islamists in Iraq show what a real war on women looks like:

A top UN official in Iraq has said the Sunni Islamist group Isis controlling the city of Mosul is seeking to impose female genital mutilation. All females aged 11 and 46 in the northern city must undergo the procedure, according to an Isis edict, UN official Jacqueline Badcock said.

While Democrats see a fierce moral urgency to ensuring that every employer in America pays for abortion drugs, they are curiously indifferent to women and girls in Iraq having their genitals amputated. It would unfair to say that Democrats actually support Isis, but it is fair to say that they are ready to acquiesce to whatever Islamists want to do in Iraq.

This was obvious (to me, anyway) as far back as early 2008, when I posted this proposed ad:

(Video shows a teenaged Iraqi girl.) This is Amira. She lives in Iraq. She has had a difficult childhood: she saw her father and uncle carried away for speaking critically of Saddam Hussein. [Adjust details as appropriate.] But now Amira is free, and she has dreams for her life. She wants to travel, to study and become an artist, or a doctor.

(Video shifts to Al Qaeda thugs.) But there are some who don’t want Amira to realize her aspirations. Men who subscribe to a perverted form of Islam and wish to impose it on her country, and indeed the world. (Brief collage of Taliban and Iranian atrocities.) These men come into her country and set off bombs, hoping to terrorize her people into obedience. (Aftermath of a car bomb.)

(Screen splits, with Amira on one side and the U.S. Capitol on the other.) Will America continue to stand with Amira, or will we abandon her to her enemies? This November, you will help make that decision.

Alas, America did decide to abandon Amira to her enemies.

It took a long time for the chickens to come home to roost, since we went ahead and won the war before Obama came into office. Having defeated the Islamists in Iraq, it took years of American apathy before the Islamists were again strong enough to threaten to take power. Nevertheless, this outcome was nigh inevitable the day Obama failed to arrange a Status of Forces agreement that would have kept some American troops — and some American influence — in Iraq.

Indeed, Obama ensured that no one could misunderstand when he announced to the world in 2007 that even preventing genocide wasn’t a good enough reason to keep troops in Iraq.

Democrats love the “war on women” narrative because it advances their power and creates opportunity for graft. Preventing the actual war on women does nothing of the sort, so it doesn’t interest them.

There is no two-state solution

July 3, 2014

You can’t make peace in the Middle East with a two-state solution, because one of the parties — the Palestinians — doesn’t want it. A poll of Palestinians finds that only 27% favor a two-state solution. Even fewer (10%) favor a one-state solution in which Jews and Arabs have equal rights. The vast majority (60%) want all the Jews driven out.

The West persists in pushing a two-state solution because it seems really reasonable to us, but it’s doomed because the Palestinians don’t want it. Israel goes along with the negotiations in order to seem reasonable to us, but they know by now that those negotiations are pointless.

The only way Israel can have peace is to make the Palestinians unable to hurt them. One way to do that would be to wipe them out — that’s what 60% of Palestinians would do to Israel if they could — but the Israelis, being civilized people, won’t do that. Instead, they settle for a security fence and a blockade. Naturally, the Western left opposes the security fence and the blockade.

(Via ElderOfZiyon.)

The anti-Roosevelt

July 1, 2014

When you talk tough and carry no stick at all, this is what happens:

John Kerry Told Russia It Had ‘Hours’ to Back Off in Ukraine. That Was Five Days Ago.

This sounds ominous

June 10, 2014

The Telegraph reports:

Argentina’s President Cristina Kirchner has created a new post: secretary for strategic co-ordination of national thought.


The government hastened to explain that the post isn’t what it sounds like. Then why make it sound like that?

Coup in Thailand, no liberal freak-out

May 22, 2014

Fox News reports:

Thailand’s new military junta announced it suspended the country’s constitution Thursday. The news came a few hours after Thailand’s army chief announced a military takeover of the government, saying the coup was necessary to restore stability and order after six months of political deadlock and turmoil.

But, unlike the 2009 non-coup in Honduras, in which Democrats demanded that the ousted president be returned to office, no one seems to care much. Evidently coups (or, in Honduras’s case, extraordinary legal steps) are only a problem when communists are being turned out of office.

Ah, the red line again

April 30, 2014

I don’t understand how this can be happening. They told us John Kerry made Syria get rid of its chemical weapons!

Independent tests have confirmed that Syrian forces have used chemical weapons on civilians in several attacks over the past three weeks, a British newspaper reported Wednesday.

The price of weakness

March 1, 2014

Russia invades Ukraine, President Obama wags his finger. Satisfied that Obama will do nothing (if he had had any doubt at all), Putin is now preparing to escalate his invasion:

Russian President Vladimir Putin received permission Saturday from parliament to mobilize the country’s military in Ukraine.

Putin says the move is needed to protect ethnic Russians and the personnel of a Russian military base in Ukraine’s strategic region of Crimea. The request comes a day after President Obama warned Moscow that “there will be costs” if it intervenes militarily in Ukraine.

Putin move appears to formalize what Ukrainian officials described as an ongoing deployment of Russian troops in the strategic region of Crimea. His motion loosely refers to the “territory of Ukraine” rather than specifically to Crimea, raising the possibility that Moscow could use military force in other Russian-speaking provinces in eastern and southern Ukraine where many oppose the new authorities in Kiev.

Obviously Putin doesn’t need parliamentary permission to do anything, so this amounts to an announcement.

As it turns out, the United States is obligated by treaty to come to Ukraine’s aid:

A treaty signed in 1994 by the US and Britain could pull both countries into a war to protect Ukraine if President Putin’s troops cross into the country. Bill Clinton, John Major, Boris Yeltsin and Leonid Kuchma – the then-rulers of the USA, UK, Russia and Ukraine – agreed to the The Budapest Memorandum as part of the denuclearization of former Soviet republics after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Technically it means that if Russia has invaded Ukraine then it would be difficult for the US and Britain to avoid going to war.

Oh, please. Obama doesn’t even obey his own health care law that he advocated and signed himself. Do you think he’s going to war because of a treaty? Hardly.

POSTSCRIPT: Now we have to take a trip down memory lane. Remember this “gaffe”?

uh oh. New Romney gaffe. He just called Russia the “number one geopolitical foe” of the United States. @wolfblitzer called him out.

Ha ha, what a dope. To his credit, Romney stuck to his guns despite mockery from the liberal media.

And then there’s this:

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin warned that if Senator Barack Obama were elected president, his “indecision” and “moral equivalence” may encourage Russia’s Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine. . .

For those comments, she was mocked by the high-brow Foreign Policy magazine and its editor Blake Hounshell, who now is one of the editors of Politico magazine. . . Hounshell wrote then that Palin’s comments were “strange” and “this is an extremely far-fetched scenario.”

Far-fetched indeed. This reminds me of how Ronald Reagan understood the Soviet Union much better than any of the foreign-policy “experts” who mocked him.

Why we fight

January 6, 2014

BBC reports:

A young Afghan girl has been detained wearing a suicide vest in southern Afghanistan, officials say. She was held on Sunday night in Helmand province, as she tried to carry out an attack on border police, an interior ministry spokesman told the BBC.

The girl, reported to be as young as eight and thought to be the sister of a prominent Taliban commander, is said to be in a state of shock and confusion. Police told the BBC she was encouraged to carry out the attack by her brother.

His own eight-year-old sister.

The next time we get the idiotic idea of trying to negotiate with these barbarians, we need to remember that they are pure evil.

Arms cache found in Palestinian embassy

January 2, 2014

Maybe embassies for terrorist organizations isn’t such a great idea:

A large, illegal weapons stockpile was found Thursday at the home of the Palestinian ambassador in Prague, Jamel al-Jamal, Czech media reported, a day after al-Jamal was killed in an explosion there. Respekt, a Czech weekly newspaper, reported that the arsenal was enough to arm a unit of ten men. . .

Czech police spokeswoman Andrea Zoulova confirmed that arms had been found in the ambassador’s residence, which is located within a newly constructed Palestinian diplomatic mission in the city.

Al-Jamal, 56, was killed Wednesday when a safe at his home exploded. . . Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki said no foul play was suspected, and claimed that the safe had been left untouched for more than 20 years.

If you think that last sounds like a ridiculous lie, you’re right:

Later, however, El-Fahel told Czech radio that the safe had been in regular use. ”[The safe] was used on a daily basis at the embassy and it was opened and closed almost every day,” the embassy spokesman said.

Surprise, surprise

December 31, 2013

Syria will miss the deadline to give up its chemical weapons, and will face no consequences as a result.

Gross incompetence

December 16, 2013

John Kerry is talking about keeping North Korea from getting nuclear weapons, which will be hard since they already have them.

From the “horrifying, but predictable” file

December 11, 2013

What? Channeling military assistance to Islamist rebels in Syria hasn’t worked out well? Who could have predicted that such a thing might happen?

Oh, that’s right, everyone.

From the “sad, but predictable” fle

December 11, 2013

Cuba has successfully indoctrinated Elian Gonzalez to hate America. Since becoming a valuable propaganda tool, he’s led a very comfortable life quite unlike those of his countrymen:

Fidel Castro attended his 7th birthday party. His father went from being a waiter to being a member of the country’s national assembly. Now he studies engineering at a military school in Cuba and appears to be emerging as a new spokesman for the Cuban government.

“Appears to be emerging?” Of course he is; that was obviously the plan all along. Sheesh.

Even with what he’s become, I still feel for the poor fellow. He has a rude awakening in store for him when he outlives his usefulness.


October 24, 2013

Why is India fighting against anti-piracy efforts?

International buffonery

October 7, 2013

It didn’t take long. We have already reached the phase of the Syria affair in which we pretend that Syria is keeping up its end of the deal to destroy its chemical weapons:

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry praised Syrian President Bashar al-Assad Monday, saying that news that international disarmament experts had begun dismantling and destroying Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal and the equipment used to produce it represented “a good beginning,” and Assad deserved credit for honoring the terms of a deal reached last month to secure and destroy the regime’s weapons.

This, of course, is utter nonsense:

The ambitious U.S.-Russian deal to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons, hailed as a diplomatic breakthrough just days ago, hit its first delay Wednesday with indications that the Syrian government will not submit an inventory of its toxic stockpiles and facilities to international inspectors by this weekend’s deadline.

This was the deadline’s very first deadline; we can expect all future deadlines to be missed as well, since the administration has now shown it doesn’t care about them. They don’t might looking like buffoons internationally, so long as they can save face domestically. The media, of course, is happy to play along.

Venezuela fails to repeal supply and demand

October 2, 2013

It’s a case study suitable for a basic economics textbook: Hugo Chavez’s regime in Venezuela imposes price controls on toilet paper. Production of toilet paper plummets as producers decline to produce it at a loss, causing a severe shortage. The regime then nationalizes toilet paper production.

It’s sad watching Venezuela’s death spiral play out. If toilet paper is being nationalized, we can’t be far from the instigate-a-war phase now.

POSTSCRIPT: Of course, somehow it’s all America’s fault.

Obama pins Iran hopes on hoax

September 30, 2013

Fox News reports:

President Obama could be hanging his hopes for productive nuclear negotiations with Iran on a hoax, according to one Middle East-focused think tank.

On Friday, Obama cited a “fatwa,” or religious edict, from Iran’s all-powerful Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, banning the pursuit of nuclear weapons.

“I do believe that there is a basis for a resolution [because] Iran’s Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons,” Obama told reporters.

But although talk of such a fatwa has been around for at least eight years, there’s no evidence it was ever issued, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute, which flatly called the fatwa a hoax. MEMRI claims the phony fatwa is promoted by Iranian diplomats and Turkey’s Islamist prime minister, Recep Erdogan.

The supposed fatwa does not appear on a website of Khamenei’s fatwas maintained by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, and Khamenei didn’t mention it when asked a direct question.

Did Obama even bother to check before spouting this? (And would it be better if he did, or if he didn’t?) Too bad he’s not so feckless in his dealing with his domestic adversaries; he has identified his real enemy, and it’s not Iran.

Putin is just trolling us now

September 13, 2013

Fresh off his triumph over Barack Obama and John Kerry heading off even a token strike against Syria, Vladimir Putin has an op-ed in the New York Times rubbing it in. (Yes, the NYT is offering itself as a soapbox for hostile dictators.)

The Washington Post has a detailed fisking, but here’s all you really need to know: He actually has the chutzpah (is there a word for chutzpah in Russian?) to say that military action without UN approval is illegitimate. This coming from the man who invaded Georgia (and still has troops occupying parts of Georgia) and who made his career waging a scorched earth campaign in Chechnya.

For good measure, here’s Vladimir Putin’s NYT op-ed from 1999 (via Business Insider), explaining why he needed to attack Chechnya. It does not mention the United Nations.

The problem with showing weakness

September 13, 2013

Gosh, it’s not as though anyone could have seen this coming:

Seeming to no longer fear a U.S. attack, an emboldened Bashar Assad is adding to his list of demands in exchange for handing over Syria’s chemical weapons, fueling concerns in Washington that — with Russia’s backing — he’s succeeding in turning the tables on Secretary of State John Kerry’s negotiating effort in Geneva.

“They’re just kind of playing with us,” Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, told Fox News on Friday.

Obama is running a clinic on how to make yourself a laughingstock on the world stage.

Smart diplomacy

September 11, 2013

After the British House of Commons refused to support President Obama’s ill-considered action in Syria, the US military is shutting out the British from US military planning.

I guess these fools really don’t understand that this sort of pettiness can have long-term geopolitical consequences. I just hope that the British government is more grown-up than we are.

The unbelievably small president

September 11, 2013

For the record, I generally tend to support military action against our enemies abroad, provided that it is feasible and serves our interests to do so. But before we can say whether the action is feasible and serves our interests, we need to know the objective. What is the objective in military action against Syria? No one seems to know!

John McCain thinks that regime change should be the objective, and actually got that objective written into the resolution that passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (Strangely, the Democrats didn’t seem to care much what the resolution actually said.) But seeking regime change seems foolish now, since the only rebels still in action against Assad are Islamists who are more dangerous to us than Assad. Regime change would have been a good policy a year ago, when there were still elements in the Syrian civil war who were secular and friendly to the west. But thanks to President Obama’s inaction, those people are all dead or scattered now. Regime change now would serve only to replace an enemy with a worse enemy. (We could effect regime change by occupying the country and installing a new regime ourselves, but that’s obviously not in the cards.)

In any case, regime change is categorically not the aim of the Obama administration, who are pledging to wage an “unbelievably small” campaign. Yes, John Kerry, the Secretary of State (God help us), really did say that. Or, even more bizarrely:

A second senior official, who has seen the most recent planning, offered this metaphor to describe such a strike: If Assad is eating Cheerios, we’re going to take away his spoon and give him a fork. Will that degrade his ability to eat Cheerios? Yes. Will it deter him? Maybe. But he’ll still be able to eat Cheerios.

I won’t pretend to understand the Cheerios-with-a-fork analogy, but one thing is certain, if they had an actual objective (e.g., reverse the communist coup in Grenada, destroy Al Qaeda’s safe haven in Afghanistan, end Saddam Hussein’s regime), they would express it, and wouldn’t need to resort to this drivel.

Even a very limited objective such as “punish Bashar Assad” might serve, if the attack were to be directed at him personally, but that too is clearly not what they are planning. And, moreover, now that Assad has had weeks of advance warning, it can’t be done anyway. (As Mitch McConnell put it, you don’t send out a “save the date” card to the enemy!)

The bottom line of all of this is that we should not launch an attack against Syria, unless and until we figure out what the purpose for such an attack would be.

However, what Congress should do in regard to authorization is a different question. President Obama did not need to seek and should not have sought Congressional authorization for the kind of action he is contemplating. A limited strike is well within the powers of the commander-in-chief, even under the War Powers Act, which is a dead letter anyway.

But we are where we are. Obama did seek authorization, and Congress ought to grant it. We have only one president at a time, and we need that president’s words to have credibility abroad. We can’t do anything about the problem of President Obama damaging his own credibility with ill-considered, off-the-cuff threats, but we can make sure that he is not further undermined by his own government. (Yes, it’s true, when Democrats controlled Congress they did everything they could to undermine President Bush abroad, but the fact that Democrats did it first would make it no less irresponsible.)

This is not to say that Congress should pass a resolution in favor of an attack against Syria. As above, an attack is a terrible idea at this juncture, and Congress should not pretend otherwise. Instead, Congress should pass a resolution affirming the commander-in-chief’s constitutional authority to take necessary steps to protect US interests in regard to Syria. Basically, Congress should say, “you’re the president, do what you need to do.”

Such a resolution would maintain the president’s credibility abroad (so far as that’s possible) and also side-step the trap that Obama is trying to lay to Republicans. He knows that his policy is desperately unpopular, and he is trying to pass the buck. (Or, as NBC puts it, he is trying to “unilaterally widen the circle of responsibility.”) By affirming the president’s authority without approving of his policy, Congress passes the buck back to the president, where it belongs.

Unfortunately, it’s clear that that’s not going to happen. Feckless in all aspects of this crisis, Obama has done nothing to rally Congress to support him. The word from Capitol Hill is that he doesn’t have the votes either in the House, or even in the Democrat-controlled Senate. That, and not the ridiculous Russian peace proposal, is the reason Obama asked Congress to postpone voting on authorization.

I never said half the things I said

September 4, 2013

Obama says never set a “red line” in regard to Syrian chemical weapons. Is he trying to look like a fool?!

Smart diplomacy comes home to roost

August 30, 2013

Barack Obama, 2008:

Today, after five years of Obama restoring our image in the world, the British no longer think the “special relationship” is worth preserving. All this stuff, and particularly all this stuff, matters.

Thank God for the Atlantic Ocean

August 30, 2013

This is why you don’t give up your national sovereignty:

A triple murderer is appealing to the European Court of Human Rights to challenge his “life means life” sentence, the first Briton to do so. . .

It comes after three killers including Jeremy Bamber, who shot dead five members of his family, lodged a case with the court in Strasbourg which prompted it last month to rule it was “inhuman and degrading” for prisoners to face death in jail without the possibility of review.

Dangerous liason

August 30, 2013

Kim Jong-Un has his ex-girlfriend executed.

Mockery looking likely

August 29, 2013

Lord help us:

A U.S. official briefed on the military options being considered by President Obama told the Los Angeles Times that the White House is seeking a strike on Syria “just muscular enough not to get mocked.”

“They are looking at what is just enough to mean something, just enough to be more than symbolic,” the official told the paper, giving credence to similar reports describing a limited military strike in the aftermath of last week’s alleged chemical weapons attack.

“Just enough to be more than symbolic”? What does that even mean?

If it’s not symbolic, which is to say substantive, that means that we have an objective and allocate sufficient force to achieve it. You can’t just say your objective is “not to be symbolic,” that’s just circular reasoning.

(Via Hot Air.)


Attempting to quell criticism of his proposal for a limited military mission in Syria, President Obama floated a more modest strategy today, saying that any U.S. action in Syria would have “no objective whatsoever.”


They never, ever learn

August 28, 2013

The Washington Post is deeply clueless:

Analysts worry that its members, bitter and angry after the deaths of more than 1,000 Morsi supporters in the past week, could abandon the Brotherhood’s decades-long commitment to nonviolence . . .

(Emphasis mine.)

Power skips UN emergency meeting

August 22, 2013

Samantha Power, who never should have been appointed or confirmed as the ambassador to the UN, doesn’t seem to care much about the job herself. With less than a month on the job, she skipped the UN’s emergency meeting on Syria’s latest use of chemical weapons:

Samantha Power, America’s new ambassador to the United Nations, skipped a major Security Council meeting Wednesday on the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria, a move that drew sharp criticism considering her past comments denouncing the council’s inaction on the violence.

The strike early Wednesday could stand as the deadliest such incident since the country’s civil war began, with reports of hundreds dying. The U.N. Security Council called an emergency meeting Wednesday afternoon to debate the allegations, but ended up issuing a statement that fell far short of what the U.S. and its allies wanted.

Yet Power herself did not attend the emergency meeting. She was instead represented by career diplomat Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo. . .

“Samantha Power has been on the job exactly 19 days. In that time, she’s already traveled from New York to Los Angeles to deliver a speech. Her absence from the UN on Wednesday sends a terrible message at a time when U.S. credibility in the region is suffering,” Richard Grenell, a former U.N. spokesman under the George W. Bush administration, wrote in an online column.

The UN, being what it is, probably wouldn’t have taken satisfactory action even with our ambassador present, but it might have helped. I guess she had other priorities than representing the United States at the UN.

UPDATE: Power was on a personal trip.

Iraq wants us back

August 19, 2013

AP reports:

A resurgence of violence and a renewed threat from al-Qaida have recently revived flagging U.S. interest in Iraq, officials said Friday as Baghdad asked for new help to fight extremists less than two years after it forced American troops to withdraw.

I can understand the temptation to say to hell with you people, but that would be petty. We should make a serious effort to work out an agreement in which we can do this: First, because we still want to crush Al Qaeda. Second, because we still have a vested interest in Iraq not collapsing. Third, because it might develop into greater influence for ourselves in Iraq. And fourth, because if we don’t it might develop into greater influence for Russia.

All that said, I fear we won’t, because I doubt President Obama has enough (or any) interest in developing such an agreement. He didn’t care enough to work out a status of forces agreement before, and I don’t see that anything has changed.

Everyone hated them back then, now

August 12, 2013

In the full light of history, with the monstrosity of the Nazi regime clear in retrospect, everyone wants to pretend that they were against the Nazis all along. The left even likes to pretend that national socialism was actually somehow a right-wing ideology. Jonah Goldberg wrote an entire book on what nonsense that is, but new examples are dribbling out all the time. Let’s look at a few:

Megrahi release tied to arms deal

July 30, 2013

The Telegraph reports:

The release of the Lockerbie bomber was linked by the Government to a £400 million arms-export deal to Libya, according to secret correspondence obtained by The Sunday Telegraph. An email sent by the then British ambassador in Tripoli details how a prisoner transfer agreement would be signed once Libya “fulfils its promise” to buy an air defence system.

The disclosure is embarrassing for members of the then Labour government, which always insisted that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi’s release was not linked to commercial deals.

(Via Instapundit.)

Amateur hour

July 27, 2013

Secretary of State John Kerry refers to Palestine as a country. Then:

When asked later Thursday about his comments, Kerry reportedly asked, “Did I say that?”

The people running our foreign policy are desperately in need of adult supervision.

(Via the Corner.)

EU blacklists Hezbollah

July 23, 2013

I guess this is a good thing, but I’m horrified that this didn’t happen decades ago.

Iran’s fake election

June 14, 2013

We obviously can’t expect anyone decent to win today’s Iranian election. If there had been any doubt, the 2009 election proved that that wasn’t allowed. But we shouldn’t expect anyone decent to make a good showing either. The regime is making sure of that:

Iran’s feared Revolutionary Guards have set up a network of secret prisons after the leadership issued a set of orders to prepare for a security crisis in the aftermath of Friday’s presidential election.

The security preparations have been put in place as it emerged that the most moderate candidate in the field of seven candidates to replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was attracting a wave of support.

Western diplomatic sources told The Daily Telegraph that the intelligence division of the Revolutionary Guards had established a new network of secret detention facilities in residential areas. The Revolutionary Guards, which report directly to the country’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is using the prisons to hold anti-government activists to prevent them from participating in tomorrow’s presidential election contest.


June 14, 2013

Despite all the damage Hugo Chavez has done, I honestly didn’t expect to see a nation with as much natural wealth as Venezuela entering its death spiral this soon:

New App Helps Venezuelans Find Toilet Paper

The fast path to promotion

June 5, 2013

Following the established Obama administration policy of promoting the key figures in its scandals (e.g., IRS, Gunwalker), Susan Rice — a central figure in the administrations lies about Benghazi — is being moved up to national security adviser.

Replacing her at the UN will be Samantha Power, who can be expected to weaken the Obama administration’s already-lukewarm support for Israel. In 2002 she bizarrely advocated a US invasion of Israel, in order to impose a settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.

(Previous post.)


June 4, 2013

Claire Berlinski’s account of what is going on in Istanbul is a must-read.

Tyrannies go through phases and I’ve wondered when Turkey’s Islamists would move from the popular phase to the repressive phase. It looks like that is happening now. I worry that it’s too late. Erdogan has had years to consolidate his power; a peaceful revolt is unlikely to dislodge him now.

Stingers for Al Qaeda?

May 27, 2013

One persistent question regarding the Benghazi debacle is what Ambassador Chris Stevens was doing in Benghazi in the first place. Now whistleblowers have stepped forward to answer the question, and their story, if true, is extremely troubling:

Stevens’ mission in Benghazi, they will say, was to buy back Stinger missiles from al-Qaeda groups issued to them by the State Department, not by the CIA. Such a mission would usually be a CIA effort, but the intelligence agency had opposed the idea because of the high risk involved in arming “insurgents” with powerful weapons that endanger civilian aircraft.

I hope this isn’t true. Most obviously because I hope Al Qaeda doesn’t have Stingers, but also because I hate the idea that our government could be this naive, even with Obama in office. I supported overthrowing Qaddafi, but certainly not giving high-tech weapons to Islamist militias with ties to Al Qaeda.

(Previous post.)

Worst. Idea. Ever.

May 16, 2013

The Obama administration wants to give technical information on our missile defense to the Russians?!

This isn’t stupid. Stupid doesn’t begin to cover it. Treason is more apt.

The left has always opposed missile defense. Why, I’m not quite sure. They like to say it’s because missile defense can’t work, which they might actually believe but isn’t true. But here you have something quite different. Here you have Obama taking steps to make sure it doesn’t work.

He doesn’t want us to have a missile defense! For heaven’s sake, why?

IRS targeted pro-Israel groups too

May 14, 2013

It wasn’t just the Tea Party and limited-government groups who were targeted by the IRS, they also targeted pro-Israel groups. One such organization reported being questioned regarding its religious views toward Israel:

“Does your organization support the existence of the land of Israel? Describe your organization’s religious belief system towards the land of Israel,” the IRS asked in a letter sent to the religious group, which asked not to be named.

The IRS admitted applying special scrutiny to pro-Israel groups, but that admission was later retracted by the Justice Department. (ASIDE: Note that the IRS is part of the Treasury Department, so this scandal now spans departments.)

Now, pro-Israel groups are very different from Tea Party groups, but they do have one thing in common: The Obama administration is hostile to both.

UPDATE (5/28): More here.

(Previous post.) (Via Instapundit.)

Chinese censors

May 13, 2013

Chinese government censors are censoring Hollywood movies now:

Hand in hand with playing to Chinese viewers comes working with Chinese censors. While experts say that the navigating Chinese rules and mores is still more of an art than a science, it’s generally accepted that red flags are raised when you disparage the image of the People’s Army or police, show obscene or vulgar content, feature ghosts or the supernatural, show mistreatment of prisoners, advertise religious extremism, display excessive drinking or smoking, or oppose the spirit of law.

And if you dare go off script while shooting in China, prepare for punishment. According to Cain, during a shoot a few years ago in Shanghai, the director decided to change things up a bit and film a take with an extra holding a camcorder pretending to tape a movie at a theater. Sensitive to their reputation as the source of a large chunk of the world’s movie piracy, China told the team their movie would be shut down.

“We begged and pleaded and promised to keep the film on track,” Cain told us. “The lesson there was that there is always someone watching.”

Oughtn’t this concern us?

Paper tiger

May 10, 2013

I saw this coming. Last August, President Obama said:

We cannot have a situation in which chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people . . . We have been very clear to the Assad regime but also to other players on the ground that a red line for us is, we start seeing a whole bunch of weapons moving around or being utilized.

This was clearly taken as a threat of force. (NYT headline: “Obama Threatens Force Against Syria”).

Unfortunately, it was just as obvious that he didn’t mean it.  Alas, it was obvious not just to me, but also to Assad. So when Assad started moving his chemical weapons around, the administration claimed it wasn’t clear that he was doing it.  When we learned he was using them, they claimed it wasn’t clear that he was using them. And, when the evidence finally became undeniable, they were forced into a humiliating backpeddle.

The bottom line is that Obama is just really bad at this. This is a guy who actually says things like “don’t call my bluff.” In this case, the president’s aides had carefully developed a position that was supposed to scare Assad but not mean anything. But then Obama went and ad-libbed a new policy at the podium:

Moving or using large quantities of chemical weapons would cross a “red line” and “change my calculus,” the president declared in response to a question at a news conference, to the surprise of some of the advisers who had attended the weekend meetings and wondered where the “red line” came from.

This is a president who manages, on the fly, to invent a policy even worse than his intended policy of meaningless talk.

But his weakness goes so much further than that. When trying to develop a response to Assad disregarding Obama’s threats, the White House felt its hands were tied:

Mr. Obama’s advisers also raised legal issues. “How can we attack another country unless it’s in self-defense and with no Security Council resolution?” another official said, referring to United Nations authorization. “If he drops sarin on his own people, what’s that got to do with us?”

Well, that’s the problem with giving foreign dictators a veto over US policy, isn’t it? But what about “what’s that got to do with us”? A year ago Obama thought it had something to do with us, when he vowed to prevent foreign atrocities in a speech at the Holocaust Memorial Museum:

And finally, “never again” is a challenge to nations.  It’s a bitter truth — too often, the world has failed to prevent the killing of innocents on a massive scale.  And we are haunted by the atrocities that we did not stop and the lives we did not save.

These too are shown to be empty words. In April 2012 he was running for election and had to pretend to be strong, when in fact he is anything but. (See also, Benghazi.)

POSTSCRIPT: Remember this, from Joe Biden?

We’re going to face a major international challenge, ’cause they’re going to want to test him, just like they did John Kennedy, they’re going to want to test him, and they’re going to find out this guy’s got steel in his spine.

Tested he was, but steel in his spine? Not so much.

Love them Saudis

May 6, 2013

NBC reports:

A case of “possible human trafficking” at a Saudi diplomatic compound in Virginia is under investigation, the Department of Homeland Security confirmed to News4.

Homeland Security Special-Agent-in-Charge John Torres, who is leading the probe, said Fairfax County Police responded to a tip Tuesday night citing a possible case of modern slavery.

U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement/Homeland Security Investigations were called to a home in the 6000 block of Orris Street in McLean and — in the words of a source familiar with the investigation — “rescued” two women. One woman reportedly tried to flee by squeezing through a gap in the front gate as it was closing. . .

The investigation is in its very early stages and complicated by the possibility that some of those involved may have diplomatic immunity, said a State Department spokesperson.

We need to send a strong message to the Saudis and whomever else that bringing your slaves into America won’t be tolerated. We need to, but we won’t.

The cover-up unravels

May 6, 2013

The Benghazi cover-up is finally unraveling. A well-reported piece in the Weekly Standard exposes the process by which the intelligence estimate on Benghazi was laundered to remove all mention of Islamic militants. The claims that the drivel put out by the administration were the intelligence community’s best estimate are an outright lie.

The piece really needs to be read in its entirely, but a graphic illustrating the laundering process is extracted here. And here is the reason why:

The talking points were first distributed to officials in the interagency vetting process at 6:52 p.m. on Friday. Less than an hour later, at 7:39 p.m., an individual identified in the House report only as a “senior State Department official” responded to raise “serious concerns” about the draft. That official, whom The Weekly Standard has confirmed was State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland, worried that members of Congress would use the talking points to criticize the State Department for “not paying attention to Agency warnings.”

There, in black and white: the estimates were laundered for political reasons.

In other developments: The Benghazi whistleblowers have been identified and will testify before the house committee. Second:

On the night of the Benghazi terror attack, special operations put out multiple calls for all available military and other assets to be moved into position to help — but the State Department and White House never gave the military permission to cross into Libya, sources told Fox News.

We don’t know who the sources are, I hope they are among the whistleblowers so we can get them on record. But we already know that the CIA operators who defended the consulate personnel were ordered twice to leave them to die, so this is entirely plausible.

Third, the Benghazi attack was an Al Qaeda attack. While we ponder that entirely unsurprising development, think of what transpired the morning after the Benghazi attack: Our feckless diplomats responded to a terrorist attack (one we now know, but always suspected, was an Al Qaeda attack) by apologizing. Mitt Romney said (paraphrasing) maybe we shouldn’t be apologizing to terrorists while we are still burying our dead, and virtually the entire media attacked Romney for it!

All of this shows massive malfeasance on the part of the administration, and the media that covers for them, but it misses the true scandal. The administration put a filmmaker in jail over the Benghazi attack, and he is still there. I can scarcely imagine a greater dereliction of presidential duty than jailing a man for exercising his free speech because it offended foreign Islamists. (Glenn Reynolds isn’t letting this go either.)

ASIDE: Please, no nonsense about how Nakoula Nakoula is in jail for parole violations. Yes, those were the charges they used to jail him, but they never would have cared about a minor parole violation if not for him making the video that they claimed was responsible for the Benghazi attack. In fact, they never would have known his identity if not for a federal investigation that pierced his pseudonym. We need to know who ordered that investigation and why (although we can guess). Efforts to get to the bottom of Benghazi won’t have even begun until we know that, as far as I’m concerned.

(Previous post.)

A tale of two “coups”

March 15, 2013

What is a coup d’etat? I would say it refers to a seizure of power unjustified by country’s constitution or customs. A few years ago there was a great hue and cry over the supposed coup in Honduras, in which the Honduran supreme court ousted the president for violating the constitution. Even though the action complied with the Honduran constitution, and was acknowledged not to be a coup by the US Secretary of State, the Obama administration pressed ahead with sanctions against Honduras to try to force them to restore the socialist, would-be dictator to power.

However, this month we’ve seen a coup staged in Venezuela without a peep from the Obama administration or the legacy media. When Hugo Chavez died in Cuba earlier this month, he had been elected to a new term in office but had not been inaugurated. The Venezuelan constitution makes clear who assumes the presidency in such a case:

When an elected president becomes permanently unavailable to serve prior to his inauguration, a new election by universal suffrage and direct ballot shall be held within 30 consecutive days. Pending election and inauguration of the new president, the president of the National Assembly shall take charge of the presidency of the Republic.

The president of the National Assembly is Diosdado Cabello, but instead Nicolas Maduro — Chavez’s handpicked successor — has been sworn in as acting president. This is plainly a coup.

So why is the Obama administration silent about an actual coup in Venezuela, when it got so exercised over a non-coup in Honduras? It’s hard not to see it as politics. This administration likes Hugo Chavez’s brand of socialism, and in Honduras, a chavista was ousted, while in Venezuela a chavista was installed.

Quoted without comment

March 12, 2013

The Telegraph reports:

The United Nations Human Rights Council, now chaired by Cuba, held a minute’s silence in tribute to Mr Chavez.

(Via Ricochet.)

Chavez moves on to warmer climate

March 6, 2013

Hugo Chavez is dead. It’s a pity he didn’t go the way of Nicolae Ceausescu, but I suppose this will have to do.

Unfortunately, I’m not optimistic about Venezuela’s future. During the last year, even while denying his ill health, he was planning for his death, and his people are fimly entrenched in Venezuela’s supreme court, electoral council, and other key government institutions. They will be difficult to evict without a revolution.

Then there’s our national disgrace that is James Earl Carter:

Rosalynn and I extend our condolences to the family of Hugo Chávez Frías.  We met Hugo Chávez when he was campaigning for president in 1998 and The Carter Center was invited to observe elections for the first time in Venezuela.  We returned often, for the 2000 elections, and then to facilitate dialogue during the political conflict of 2002-2004.  We came to know a man who expressed a vision to bring profound changes to his country to benefit especially those people who had felt neglected and marginalized.  Although we have not agreed with all of the methods followed by his government, we have never doubted Hugo Chávez’s commitment to improving the lives of millions of his fellow countrymen.

It’s appalling that this idiot was once president of the United States.

Don’t cry for me IMF

February 9, 2013

Argentina has been reprimanded by the IMF for its phony-baloney economic reporting.

Dangerous times

January 30, 2013

Another milestone in the annals of the “Arab Spring”: Egypt has re-legalized slavery.

Palestinian ambassador rules out two-state solution

January 23, 2013

This keeps happening, but for some reason the media still portrays the Israelis as the intransigent party.

POSTSCRIPT: This part is kind of funny:

If Israel is a democracy I would claim that the Palestinians are also a democracy.

Well, democracies have, you know, elections and stuff.

Fighters for Egypt

January 23, 2013

What do you do with Egypt, a former ally that is rapidly turning into an Islamist hell-hole and is talking seriously of repudiating its peace treaty with Israel? Send them state of the art fighter jets, of course.

I guess they call that “smart diplomacy”.

The truth hurts

January 23, 2013

Pakistan doesn’t like that the latest Call of Duty game portray’s Pakistan’s intelligence agency as sympathetic to Al Qaeda. Well, boo freakin’ hoo.

Palestinian Authority admits to terrorism, but never mind

January 19, 2013

Everyone knows that the Palestinian Authority engages in terrorism against Israel, so it’s interesting but not so surprising that there exist legal documents proving that:

The document — accidentally handed over to lawyers suing the [Palestinian Authority] for $300 million on behalf of the teens’ parents — reveals a “close relationship” between the bomber and a captain in the Palestinian Authority security forces who planned the terror attack, court papers say.

The two-page memo, written in April 2012 by Maj. Ziad Abu Hamid of the authority’s General Intelligence Service, also details “at least six other critical facts” about the 2002 bombing and “clearly establishes the defendants’ material support and liability.”

But from there the story gets weird:

But Washington, DC, federal Judge Richard Leon ordered the memo returned or destroyed after the authority’s lawyers claimed it was “privileged and protected” information.

(Via the Corner.)

Taking no for an answer

January 14, 2013

In the West, including Israel, we long believed that there could be peace between Israel and the Arabs on a land-for-peace formula. We believed so because it seemed so reasonable. But the enemy is not reasonable. They want the Jews dead and will never make peace. They have said so, explicitly (even the so-called moderates).

The upcoming Israeli election will confirm that land-for-peace is dead. Even the Israeli left has figured it out, because:

The “dramatic imminent shift” is not a shift, but a realization; not imminent, but rather what happened over many years; and not dramatic, but rather the slow accumulation of many events: (1) the barbaric terror war against Israeli civilians, commenced after the first Israeli offer of a state; (2) the Palestinian rejection of the Clinton Parameters, after Israel formally accepted them; (3) the Palestinian failure to carry out even Phase I of the three-phase Roadmap; (4) the transformation of Gaza into Hamastan after Israel withdrew every settler and soldier; (5) the election of Hamas in 2006 and the Hamas coup in 2007; (6) two rocket wars from Judenrein Gaza, and the continuing prospect of more; (7) the year-long negotiation in the Annapolis Process that produced still another offer of a state, from which Abbas walked away; (8) Abbas’s announcement in 2009 that he would do nothing without a construction freeze, followed by his doing nothing after he got one; (9) the continual “reconciliation” attempts by Abbas with the terrorist group he promised to dismantle; (10) his failure to give a Bir Zeit speech to match Netanyahu’s Bar-Ilan one; (11) the inability of the Palestinians to hold an election, much less build the institutions of a peaceful democratic state; (12) the violation of their express Oslo commitments with repeated end-runs at the UN; (13) a Palestinian society, media and educational system steeped in anti-Semitism; (14) et cetera.

The Palestinians could have had an independent state at peace with Israel, but they’ve made clear they don’t want it. This underscores the foresight of the Arabs who deliberately created the Palestinian refugee problem after Israel’s war of independence by refusing to resettle the refugees, for the explicit purpose of preventing future generations from making peace with Israel.

POSTSCRIPT: Unfortunately, the American and European left has not figured it out yet, either because they are too far from the carnage, or (especially in the European case) because they are simply anti-Semitic.

(Via Power Line.)

Cuban health care saves millions

January 8, 2013

Here’s the feel-good story of the week: Hugo Chavez may have killed himself by getting his cancer treatment in Cuba, rather than at a competent hospital.

(Via Power Line.)

Dangerous times

December 21, 2012

Egypt hurries down the path toward becoming an Islamist hell-hole:

A campaign of intimidation by Islamists left most Christians in this southern Egyptian province too afraid to participate in last week’s referendum on an Islamist-drafted constitution they deeply oppose, residents say. The disenfranchisement is hiking Christians’ worries over their future under empowered Muslim conservatives.

Around a week before the vote, some 50,000 Islamists marched through the provincial capital, Assiut, chanting that Egypt will be “Islamic, Islamic, despite the Christians.” At their head rode several bearded men on horseback with swords in scabbards on their hips, evoking images of early Muslims conquering Christian Egypt in the 7th Century.

They made sure to go through mainly Christian districts of the city, where residents, fearing attacks, shuttered down their stores and stayed in their homes, witnesses said.

Meanwhile, our practitioners of “smart diplomacy” are content to watch it happen, without applying even the tiniest bit of pressure.

But don’t call it a cover up

December 18, 2012

Hillary Clinton is refusing to testify on the Benghazi debacle, for the second time. The first time she had to be out of the country on the proposed date. This time, she bumped her head and can’t possibly testify. No word on rescheduling.

But we do have additional information on where the administration’s cock and bull story about the attack being a spontaneous demonstration about a video came from. (This is old news, but it came out during my post-election vacation so I haven’t yet noted it here.)

President Obama himself was notified of the nature of the attack within 72 hours, long before Susan Rice’s infamous Sunday misinformation appearances. (Via Jennifer Rubin.) The CIA’s original talking points said Al Qaeda was responsible for the attack, but that fact was removed by the White House. Specifically, the office of the Director of National Intelligence was responsible for the change. Also, Susan Rice would have been privy to the original, accurate information (although it’s impossible to know if she was paying attention).

Intelligence sources say that the links to Al Qaeda were deemed too tenuous to be made public (although Petraeus disagreed). Regardless of whether that decision was necessary or wise, it does not explain how the administration (and especially Susan Rice) decided to adopt the exact opposite as the official story.

(Previous post.)

Dangerous leadership in dangerous times

December 12, 2012

Mohammed Morsi proclaims himself above the law, and his Muslim Brotherhood is rampaging against anyone who dares protest against him.

But the Obama administration denies that Morsi is an autocrat, and is sending him twenty F-16s. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that those guys are really this stupid.

“You’re really going to get it!”

December 10, 2012

When an ineffective parent responds to defiance only by threats of punishment for further defiance, kids figure out pretty quickly they can do anything. And I doubt Syria’s Bashar Assad is any less savvy:

When President Obama first warned Syria’s leader, President Bashar al-Assad, that even making moves toward using chemical weapons would cross a “red line” that might force the United States to drop its reluctance to intervene in the country’s civil war, Mr. Obama took an expansive view of where he drew that boundary. . .

But in the past week, amid intelligence reports that some precursor chemicals have been mixed for possible use as weapons, Mr. Obama’s “red line” appears to have shifted. His warning against “moving” weapons has disappeared from his public pronouncements, as well as those of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The new warning is that if Mr. Assad makes use of those weapons, presumably against his own people or his neighbors, he will face unspecified consequences.

(Via the Corner.)

No free cities

December 10, 2012

It’s disappointing, but not surprising, to see the effort to create free cities in Honduras fail. I wanted it to succeed, but it wasn’t at all clear that Honduras was the right place.

US appoints anti-Semite to human rights forum

October 17, 2012

For a president who wants to convince Jewish voters that he is not hostile to Israel, this is a peculiar move:

An outspoken critic of Israel who once said the Jewish state should be added to the list of 9/11 terror suspects was recently selected by the Obama administration to participate in an international forum on human rights — sparking outcry from watchdog groups.

The participant, Muslim Public Affairs Council founder Salam al-Marayati, was tapped to be part of the U.S. delegation to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe forum in Poland.

Al-Marayati’s first reaction on 9/11 was that Israel was responsible, and he has insinuated that Israel runs US foreign policy. He defends terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah. His organization (the Muslim Public Affairs Council) engages in the crudest blood libels, such as accusing Israel of harvesting organs from Palestinians. More here.

But the State Department assures us that he’s no anti-Semite. That’s a relief.

POSTSCRIPT: No wonder that approximately zero percent of Israelis believe that Obama is friendly to Israel.


October 15, 2012

The Telegraph reports new details on the ineffective security at the Benghazi consulate:

A small British firm based in south Wales had secured a contract to provide security for American diplomatic facilities in Benghazi despite having only a few months experience in the country.

Sources have told the Daily Telegraph that just five unarmed locally hired Libyans were placed on duty at the compound on eight-hour shifts under a deal that fell outside the State Department’s global security contracting system.

Blue Mountain, the [British] firm that won a $387,000 (£241,000) one year contract from the US State Department to protect the compound in May, sent just one British employee, recruited from the celebrity bodyguard circuit, to oversee the work. . .

Other firms in the security industry expressed surprise that Blue Mountain had won a large, high profile contract from the US government. One industry executive said the level of service Blue Mountain provided did not appear adequate to the risks presented by a lawless city. . .

The New York Times last week reported that major security firms with a track record of guarding US premises elsewhere had made approaches to undertake work in Libya but were rebuffed.

The story goes on to say that in addition to having little experience, Blue Mountain was on bad terms with the local authorities. On the eve of the attack, relations between Blue Mountain and its local partners had broken down.

No wonder the State Department originally denied hiring Blue Mountain.

(Previous post.)

We never believed any of that stuff we said

October 15, 2012

The State Department now says they never believed that that Benghazi consulate attack was a protest that spun out of control. They have no explanation for why they kept saying otherwise:

When asked to explain the discrepancy, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said she was too “dumb” to explain it. Yes, she really did.

(Previous post.)

The “investigation”

October 15, 2012

Remember how the Obama administration said it couldn’t give out accurate information on the 9/11/2012 attack because the investigation was ongoing? (ASIDE: The excuse, employed countless times by the Obama administration, that they can’t give out accurate information with an investigation ongoing, is complete nonsense, but never mind that.) They have a funny idea of “ongoing”.

The investigators didn’t arrive in Benghazi until October 4. That’s 23 days after the attack.

And recall that they didn’t even secure the compound in the meantime. I’m not sure why the investigators bothered to go at all.

(Previous post.)


October 15, 2012

The Benghazi scandal keeps getting worse. According to congressional testimony, when State Department security officer Eric Nordstrom requested more security for the Benghazi consulate on two separate occasions, the State Department didn’t even respond.

Instead, the consulate was left to depend on a local militia for protection, a militia that had not been paid in months:

(Previous post.)

No protest at Benghazi consulate

October 15, 2012

For days after the 9/11/2012 attack, the Obama administration peddled this asinine story about how the attack on the Benghazi consulate was a protest that spun out of control. We knew that wasn’t true on the very first day, and so did the administration, but it it took them over a week to admit it.

But it’s far worse than that. Not only was the attack not a protest that spun out of control, there was no protest. The incident began with an explosion and gunfire.

I saw it suggested, somewhere in the alternative media, that this was the case, but it sounded implausible. If the administration was claiming that the attack was a protest that spun out of control, surely there must at least have been a protest! Surely no one could be so dishonest as to make up such a story without at least having some elementary facts to build on. As it turns out, yes, these people are that dishonest.

POSTSCRIPT: There’s an interesting coda to this development. Why did the administration finally tell the truth? ABC News explains in the video linked above:

A big part of this, Diane, is because you have this major congressional hearing tomorrow, and they wanted to get this out now.

(Previous post.) (Via Instapundit.)

Smart diplomacy

October 13, 2012

Barack Obama wanted to rid the world of nuclear weapons. A laudable goal, perhaps, but his strategy for achieving that goal was for America to show weakness. The idea was that our weakness would set a good example for other countries to emulate. Obama’s critics said this was dangerous nonsense; weakness never breeds conciliation in our enemies, but aggression.

Well, we now know who was right. Sigh.

Turkey intercepts Russian passenger plane

October 12, 2012

By the way, the world keeps turning while our election season plods on:

Turkey’s confrontation with Syria spread on Thursday to include Russia, Syria’s principal military ally, when Turkey’s prime minister said Russian munitions intended for Syria’s government had been impounded from a Syrian commercial jetliner forced to land in Turkey.

Syria and Russia protested the interception and grounding of the jetliner. Turkish warplanes forced it to land on Wednesday on suspicion of transporting war matériel while en route from Moscow to Damascus with 35 passengers, including a number of Russians.

Oh my.

(Via Via Media.)

Benghazi update

October 8, 2012

The Obama administration didn’t actually believe the spontaneous-riot story they were using publicly:

In a briefing to Capitol Hill staffers delivered the day after the deadly Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the killings appeared to be the result of a terrorist attack. . .

That a State Department official of Kennedy’s rank . . . reached so swiftly the conclusion that the attacks were premeditated and coordinated stands in stark contrast to the opposing narrative pressed at that time, and for several days afterward. . .

Three days after Kennedy’s conference call, for example, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice appeared on five Sunday morning talk shows to insist that the attacks were neither coordinated nor premeditated, but were rather the result of a spontaneous mob action. . . Rice has since told lawmakers that her comments reflected “the intelligence community’s best, current assessment as of the date of my television appearances. . .”

I actually find this reassuring. I hate dishonesty, but I think I prefer it to the kind of incompetence it would have taken actually to believe their story.

(Previous post.)

Not just a river in Egypt

October 8, 2012

Mohamed Morsi commemorates Egypt’s 1973 “victory” over Israel.

Benghazi scandal deepens

October 4, 2012

It keeps getting worse: The State Department has reportedly been cutting security in Benghazi for the last six months, even as the mission requested increased security.

(Previous post.)

The world keeps turning

October 4, 2012

Turkey’s parliament has authorized the Prime Minister to invade Syria.


October 4, 2012

Hugo Chavez endorses Barack Obama:

“If I were American, I’d vote for Obama,” Mr Chavez said in a televised interview that aired Sunday.

Actually, if Chavez were an American, we would have kept him in prison after he attempted to overthrow the government by force.

(Via Instapundit.)

China attacks White House

October 4, 2012

This is troubling:

Hackers linked to China’s government broke into one of the U.S. government’s most sensitive computer networks, breaching a system used by the White House Military Office for nuclear commands, according to defense and intelligence officials familiar with the incident.

We need to take this sort of thing seriously. We aren’t.