Defenseless

October 1, 2012

How badly did the administration screw up the security at the Benghazi consulate? Pretty much as badly as possible:

An intelligence source on the ground in Libya told Fox News on Friday that no threat assessment was conducted before U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and his team began “taking up residence” at the Benghazi compound — describing the security lapses as a “total failure.”

The source told Fox News that there was no real security equipment installed in the villas on the compound except for a few video cameras.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst, the intelligence source said the security lapses were a 10 — a “total failure” because Benghazi was known to be a major area for extremist activity.

The revelation that no threat assessment was conducted directly contradicts the State Department’s claim (cue to 5:04 here):

We did evaluate the threat stream. And we determined that the security at Benghazi was appropriate for what we knew.

The article goes on to explain the security measures that should have been in place. A waiver from Washington was required to proceed without the minimum security, so who issued that waiver, and why?

(Previous post.)

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The intelligence, and the insulting of ours

October 1, 2012

Within 24 hours of the 9/11/2012 consulate attack, US intelligence knew that Al Qaeda was likely responsible. (This should not surprise us, since that information leaked almost immediately.) But for some reason (despite the concerns of wiser officials), the Obama administration for days peddled nonsense about how the attack was a spontaneous response to a YouTube video.

The Washington Post has collected a chronology of the administration’s nonsense, and Fox News assembled it into a devastating special report:

UPDATE: Eli Lake has a partial explanation of how this might have come to pass. It seems that the CIA issued a “talking points” document that suggested that the attack was spontaneous, and the administration was using that. Still unanswered: how it happened that the CIA put out a document that was at odds with everything they knew, and why the White House and State Department were so unskeptical about a story that contradicted everything that was being reported.

(Previous post.)


The diary

October 1, 2012

The kerfuffle over Ambassador Chris Stevens’s diary is emblematic of the Obama administration’s meltdown over the Benghazi consulate attack. CNN recovered the diary from the compound where he died (astonishingly, it seems that no US personnel searched the premises), and they used it, reporting that Stevens was concerned about growing Al Qaeda activity in Libya and was concerned that he might be on a hit list.

The diary made a mockery of the State Department’s contention that there was no advance information to suggest that maybe the consulate should have some security. So, the Obama administration being the Obama administration, they counter-attacked, saying that CNN should not have used the diary. Now, I have no love lost for CNN, but they were just doing their jobs. Given a scoop of this importance, no self-respecting reporter would sit on it.

Some reporters refused to be distracted, and asked questions about the journal. Byron York asked:

Is fact that US govt didn’t know about Amb. Stevens’ diary indication US investigators didn’t get on case as quickly as White House claimed?

Indeed it was such an indication. In fact, we now know that (at least as of Saturday), the FBI investigators still have not reached Benghazi.

But the reporter who really got under their skin was BuzzFeed’s Michael Hastings, who asked Assistant Secretary of State Philippe Reines (Hillary Clinton’s spokesman):

Why didn’t the State Department search the consulate and find AMB Steven’s diary first? What other potential valuable intelligence was left behind that could have been picked up by apparently anyone searching the grounds? Was any classified or top secret material also left? Do you still feel that there was adequate security at the compound, considering it was not only overrun but sensitive personal effects and possibly other intelligence remained out for anyone passing through to pick up? Your statement on CNN sounded pretty defensive–do you think it’s the media’s responsibility to help secure State Department assets overseas after they’ve been attacked?

These are all very good questions, and Reines didn’t like being asked them. After a contentious exchange (in which Hastings was the first to use a mild profanity), Reines exploded:

I now understand why the official investigation by the Department of the Defense as reported by The Army Times The Washington Post concluded beyond a doubt that you’re an unmitigated [expletive].

How’s that for a non-[expletive] response?

Now that we’ve gotten that out of our systems, have a good day.

And by good day, I mean [Expletive] Off

Why would Reines lose his cool to the extent of spewing profanity? Because Hastings’s questions were unanswerable: Why didn’t they search for intelligence? Do they still maintain they had no reason for security? Is it the media’s job to collect this stuff for them? And why, as Hastings asked in exasperation during their exchange, don’t they give some answers that “aren’t [expletive] for a change?”

(Previous post.)


Benghazi security failed minimum standards

September 28, 2012

Security at the Benghazi consulate was below minimum standards, which was permitted only because of a waiver from Washington:

The U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, was operating under a lower security standard than a typical consulate when it was attacked this month, according to State Department officials.

The mission was a rented villa and considered a temporary facility by the agency, which allowed a waiver that permitted fewer guards and security measures than a standard embassy or consulate, according to the officials. . .

Allowing a waiver would have been a decision made with input from Washington, Libyan officials and the ambassador, according to diplomatic security experts.

(Via Hot Air.) (Previous post.)


Smart diplomacy

September 26, 2012

For the first time since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took office in 2005, the United States did not walk out during his speech to the UN.

(Via Instapundit.)


Trouble in Sudan

September 24, 2012

Sudan won’t allow us to reinforce our Khartoum embassy with marines:

Sudan has rejected an offer by the United States to send Marines to increase security at the U.S. embassy in Khartoum, amid protesters and police clashing.

The announcement Saturday follows the United States saying it was sending Marines to Sudan to bolster security at the embassy, where Sudanese police reportedly fired on protestors trying to scale the compound walls.

“Sudan is able to protect the diplomatic missions in Khartoum and the state is committed to protecting its guests in the diplomatic corps,” Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti told the state news agency SUNA, which Reuters reported Saturday.

As a result, the deployment has been delayed and possibly curtailed, said a U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to disclose details on the troop movement.

Even more troublingly, there is no indication to suggest that we’re not taking this lying down. If they won’t let us defend it, we ought to close the embassy.


Obama to release one-third of Guantanamo detainees

September 24, 2012

What could go wrong?

President Barack Obama is about to release or transfer 55 Gitmo prisoners, despite reports that the Libyan believed to be behind the killing of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens was a former Guantanamo inmate transferred to Libyan custody.

The large percentage of those scheduled to be released are Yemeni, according to a list made public by the Obama administration.

The administration will argue (with the blessing of the “fact checkers”) that these guys aren’t being released, they’re just being transferred to a Yemeni prison. However, Yemen is curiously unable to keep Islamic militants in prison. (Note that those are three separate links, to three distinct jailbreaks.)

But at least released Guantanamo prisoners never do much. Oh.


Intel warned of embassy attacks

September 21, 2012

Prior to the 9/11/2012 embassy attack, US intelligence warned of attacks against embassies, but no action was taken:

According to senior diplomatic sources, the US State Department had credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo, that American missions may be targeted, but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert and “lockdown”, under which movement is severely restricted.

After this report came out, the administration vigorously denied it, sort of. Actually, they issued very carefully worded non-denial denials. The National Intelligence Director’s office said:

This is absolutely wrong. We are not aware of any actionable intelligence indicating that an attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi was planned or imminent.

The White House said:

The story is absolutely wrong. We were not aware of any actionable intelligence indicating that an attack on the US mission in Benghazi was planned or imminent. That report is false.

Note that both these statements use almost exactly the same words: there was no actionable intelligence that an attack in Benghazi was planned or imminent.

What neither said is that there was no intelligence that an attack against US embassies in general was likely, which (as you can see quoted above) is what the report actually said. Given that the administration’s phrasing was so precise, and given that they surely would have liked to make a broader claim, we have to take this as more of a confirmation than a denial.

And, in fact, later developments confirm that impression. Days later, Reuters reported:

A U.S. intelligence cable warned the American Embassy in Cairo of possible violence in response to Arabic-language broadcasts of clips from an anti-Muslim film, U.S. government sources said on Monday.

The cable, dispatched from Washington on September 10, the day before protests erupted, advised the embassy the broadcasts could provoke violence. It did not direct specific measures to upgrade security, said the sources. . .

Copies of the cable were not sent to other U.S. outposts in the region, including the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, where violence took the life of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

We’ve also learned that there were several attacks against western targets in Benghazi leading up to 9/11/2012, and just three days before, a local security official says he warned US officials of deteriorating security in Benghazi. Despite all that, the consulate was left nearly undefended.

UPDATE: I’m not the only one to notice the non-denial nature of the denial; John Hinderaker observed it too. So why isn’t anyone in the press asking for clarification of this key point?

(Previous post.)


No feck whatsoever

September 21, 2012

Another US embassy apologizing for criticism of Islam:

The American Embassy in Islamabad, in a bid to tamp down public rage over the anti-Islam film produced in the U.S., is spending $70,000 to air an ad on Pakistani television that features President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton denouncing the video.

(Previous post.)


Administration contemplates releasing WTC bomber

September 21, 2012

What could go wrong?

The U.S. State Department is actively considering negotiations with the Egyptian government for the transfer of custody of Omar Abdel-Rahman, also known as “the Blind Sheikh,” for humanitarian and health reasons, a source close to the Obama administration told TheBlaze.

In case it’s not obvious, these prisoner transfers often don’t work out very well.

For what it’s worth (to my mind, just about nothing) the Justice Department denies the report. The State Department hasn’t responded to requests for comment.


Defenseless

September 21, 2012

One aspect about the 9/11/2012 attacks that has been neglected (probably because of the administration’s absurd effort to deny that they were planned terrorist attacks) is the fact that the Benghazi consulate was left largely defenseless by State Department policy:

According to a source close to Breitbart News and high up in the intelligence community, the Obama administration’s policy following Muammar Gaddafi’s death has been to keep a “low profile” during a chaotic time.

For this reason, according to the source, American Marines were not stationed at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli or the American mission in Benghazi, as would typically have been the case. In the spirit of a “low profile,” the administration didn’t even want an American company in charge of private security.

The story also refers to a “no bullets” rule imposed on the security contractor. It’s not clear who the rule applied to. The Wall Street Journal’s account makes it clear that some of the security were armed, and others were not. The State Department’s refusal to answer any questions will make it difficult to find out.

Nevertheless, the Pentagon confirms that no Marines were stationed at the consulate:

Libya:
-Contrary to open source reporting, there are no Marines currently stationed at the Embassy in Tripoli, or the Consulate in Benghazi.

POSTSCRIPT: Reports that the Marines at the Cairo embassy were unarmed appear to be false. (Although it is curious that only the far left Mother Jones seems to have the memo. I can’t find it anywhere else.) But it’s important to remember there were two different outputs; it was Benghazi where the ambassador was murdered. The left would like to use the reporting error regarding Cairo to make the disaster in Benghazi disappear.

Moreover, the Free Beacon’s reporting on the matter seems to have been entirely responsible, despite what its critics would like to suggest. The article clearly attributes the information to “reports” and equivocates appropriately: “If true, the reports indicate . . .” Furthermore, the Free Beacon sought comment from official sources, who refused to answer. The Pentagon’s answer didn’t come out until after the Free Beacon published. It might have come out only because of their reporting. (The memo’s timestamp indicates it was issued 15 minutes later.)

POST-POSTSCRIPT: As noted above, the State Department has announced that it will not be answering any more questions about Benghazi, even to the point of leaving inaccurate reports uncorrected. Their official justification for clamming up is the fact that an investigation is ongoing, which is complete nonsense.

UPDATE: The State Department initially denied this report, before later admitting it was true. (I’m not sure why they violated their announced policy of not correcting misinformation.)

(Previous post.)


Gitmo detainee linked to Benghazi attack

September 20, 2012

Fox News reports:

Intelligence sources tell Fox News they are convinced the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was directly tied to Al Qaeda — with a former Guantanamo detainee involved.

That revelation comes on the same day a top Obama administration official called last week’s deadly assault a “terrorist attack” — the first time the attack has been described that way by the administration after claims it had been a “spontaneous” act. . .

Sufyan Ben Qumu is thought to have been involved and even may have led the attack, Fox News’ intelligence sources said. Qumu, a Libyan, was released from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2007 and transferred into Libyan custody on the condition he be kept in jail. He was released by the Qaddafi regime as part of its reconciliation effort with Islamists in 2008.

I don’t understand the released-on-condition-he-be-kept-in-jail idea in the first place, but expecting Qaddafi to honor the agreement was truly foolish.

Once the Obama administration gets past its cock-and-bull story about how the attack was spontaneous, the result of a YouTube video, expect them to start playing the Bush-did-it line. They will hope that people forget who it was that wanted to shut Guantanamo down entirely.

(Previous post.)


Was the Benghazi attack planned?

September 19, 2012

Despite the considerable evidence that the attack on our Benghazi consulate was pre-planned and that the anti-Islam film was just a pretext, the White House denies it. More than that, the White House press secretary says the attack was “obviously” not directed at the United States or (ahem) the Obama administration, but was a response to the video. Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, echoed that line, saying in several appearances that the attack was “spontaneous” and “not a pre-planned, pre-meditated attack”.

This is utterly idiotic. I hope they are lying, because the alternative — that the people in charge of national security actually believe this nonsense — is too scary to contemplate.

These people either believe, or want us to believe, that these protests over a YouTube video that had been out for months just happened to fall in 9/11. The “protesters” just happened to have stored away mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, and they just happened to have penetrated the consulate’s security.

The details of the attack certainly sound coordinated:

Fox News was told that the assault on the consulate came without warning and included RPGs and mortars — including at least one round that hit the consulate roof.

There were two waves to the assault, Fox News was told. According to the intelligence source, in the first wave, the attackers were heard to say “we got him” — a reference to Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was killed in the attack. Word spread, the attackers regrouped and the second wave went after the motorcade and support personnel.

It’s even been reported that there were no demonstrations before the attack began, although other reports contradict this. (Via Hot Air.) Al Qaeda announced that the attack was staged as revenge for the latest killing of Al Qaeda’s #2 man.

The Libyan president says the attack was pre-planned, and that the notion that the whole thing was spontaneous is “completely unfounded and preposterous”. Of course, it’s in his interest to say that, but the Libyans have also arrested several people in connection with the attack. They could be just rounding up the usual suspects, but isn’t this the sort of thing we should be taking a close look at, rather than dismissing out of hand?

Now Jay Carney has backed off his earlier statement, saying “we’re not making declarations ahead of the facts here.” It’s a bit late to be saying that now.

Even stranger than the administration’s position that the attack was spontaneous, is the White House’s apparent belief that it is better if it was spontaneous. They think that means the United States and (more importantly) the Obama administration are off the hook.

That’s more nonsense. It’s much worse if the attack was spontaneous, at least for America. It’s no secret that there are terrorists out there who want to attack us, but we can fight terrorists. If the general public in the Muslim world will spontaneously rise up and stage sophisticated attacks against us, with no more provocation than an obscure video, the situation is quite hopeless.

UPDATE: Added a few additional points.

UPDATE: The White House is now reversing its idiotic position:

The Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was in fact “a terrorist attack” and the U.S. government has indications that members of al Qaeda were directly involved, a top Obama administration official said Wednesday morning.

“I would say yes, they were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy,” Matt Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said Wednesday at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. . .

“We are looking at indications that individuals involved in the attack may have had connections to al Qaeda or al Qaeda’s affiliates; in particular, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb,” he said.

I can’t fathom why they thought it made sense to promote such an idiotic line.

(Via PJ Tatler.)

(Previous post.)


Capitulation

September 17, 2012

As bad as he is, I never thought Barack Obama would make a serious run at the title of worst American president, with Woodrow Wilson and James Buchanan having staked such strong claims. But then this happened:

That’s Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies bringing in for questioning Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the man who apparently made the film as the center of anti-American riots throughout the Middle East. A man who, to be clear, is guilty of no crime.

As Glenn Reynolds puts it:

WHY BARACK OBAMA SHOULD RESIGN. Just for the record, this is what it looked like for a man who made a film that made the Obama Administration uncomfortable . . .

When taking office, the President does not swear to create jobs. He does not swear to “grow the economy.” He does not swear to institute “fairness.” The only oath the President takes is this one:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

By sending — literally — brownshirted enforcers to engage in — literally — a midnight knock at the door of a man for the non-crime of embarrassing the President of the United States and his administration, President Obama violated that oath. You can try to pretty this up (It’s just about possible probation violations! Sure.), or make excuses or draw distinctions, but that’s what’s happened. It is a betrayal of his duties as President, and a disgrace. . . By these actions he is, I repeat, unfit to hold office.

That’s right. The US government is doing the bidding of Islamist rioters.

Just to make a few points clear: This was not LA County’s doing. It was the United States Justice Department that investigated the filmmaker and revealed his identity. And once the deputies brought him in, he was interviewed by Federal authorities.

The authorities say that Nakoula came in for a voluntary interview. Take another look at that picture. Does that look voluntary to you? Do you think the man really wanted to be perp-walked with a scarf on his head in the middle of the night? They could have interviewed him in his own home during the day, but they didn’t.

Finally, this is not about probation violations. (Nakoula is reportedly barred by his probation from using a computer.) You don’t send five deputies in the middle of the night to pick someone up for a technical probation violation. In fact, liberals generally don’t care about probation violations at all.

Moreover, we should never have even known about Nakoula’s probation in the first place! He has no involvement with the attacks on our embassies and never should have been investigated in the first place. We shouldn’t even know his name.

Is it now US government policy to investigate anyone whom the Arab street hates, to see if maybe he happens to have some outstanding warrants? This is absolutely appalling.

But wait, they didn’t stop there. Just hours after Obama pledged to “uphold the rights for individuals to speak their mind”, his administration asked YouTube to censor the video:

Obama administration officials said Thursday that they have asked YouTube to review the video and determine whether it violates the site’s terms of service, according to people close to the situation but not authorized to comment.

To their credit, Google refused to do so. (Although they are censoring it in India and several Muslim countries.)

We must be clear. This isn’t the usual self-censorship by mob veto. This is the sovereign power of the United States government being used to censor what the Islamists considered blasphemy.

Of course, all this is exactly what the Islamists want. It ought to be obvious, but apparently is not, that this sort of capitulation only promotes violence and additional demands.

Indeed, the Muslim Brotherhood isn’t satisfied:

We further call for criminalization of assaults on the sanctities of all heavenly religions. Otherwise, such acts will continue to cause devout Muslims across the world to suspect and even loathe the West, especially the USA, for allowing their citizens to violate the sanctity of what they hold dear and holy. Hence, we demand that all those involved in such crimes be urgently brought to trial.

In light of all this, it would be appropriate for the Obama administration categorically to rule out ever criminalizing blasphemy. Unfortunately, less than two months ago, the administration pointedly refused to do so. UPDATE: Given a second chance later in the session, he did seem to rule it out. That’s good. Still, it oughtn’t be hard to get this question right the first time.

UPDATE (9/28): Nakoula has now been arrested and is being held without bond.

(Previous post.)


Smart diplomacy

September 15, 2012

President Obama says that Egypt is not an ally of the United States. (The White House has since “clarified” that he didn’t mean it.) It’s surely idiotic to say it publicly, but, to be fair, I think that’s true now.

(Previous post.)


Benghazi and Cairo

September 15, 2012

At first I was too outraged to comment on the 9/11/2012 attacks against our embassy in Cairo and consulate in Benghazi. Then it took time to write out how truly horrible the whole mess is. There are three different aspects of the story, each demanding a different sort of outrage at different people.

The terrorists

The first is the terrorists themselves. We now know that the attacks were planned in advance, and the street protests against an anti-Islam movie were merely a pretext. We also know that the diplomats in Libya were betrayed by Libyan security. (The story doesn’t make clear whether “Libyan security” refers to security forces of the Libyan government, or just Libyan nationals hired by the consulate.)

These people are evil, and they need to be destroyed. But there is little else to say on the matter. Despite all the promises of justice, we know that nothing will be done. The history of attacks against our embassies and consulates in such places as Tehran in 1979, Beirut in 1983, Tel Aviv in 1990, Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998, and Beijing in 1999, among others, shows clearly that attacks against our embassies will always be forgotten when pursuing justice is inconvenient.

The diplomats

But since those people are evil, we don’t expect any better of them. The same is not true of the pusillanimous fools at the US embassy in Cairo, who condemned the anti-Islam movie that the attackers used as their pretext. They reiterated the statement multiple times, and it was later echoed by the Secretary of State and by the President.

The embassy originally issued the statement before the attacks, and the attacks took place anyway, which demolishes any pragmatic defense that might be offered for their attempted appeasement. And as a matter of principle, their statement is a disaster:

Our entire message regarding any criticism leveled against Islam or anything else should be this: The United States government is not in the business of approving or disapproving anyone’s speech. This should not be hard!

Not only did the embassy’s statement give short shrift to the value of free speech, it was simply untrue. They said “we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions”. Well, no, actually you don’t!

We don’t condemn offense to Mormons, Catholics, Evangelicals, or Orthodox Jews. Those people and their beliefs are insulted all the time. This is true every day, but especially during election season: Our president’s re-election campaign is running a whisper campaign targeting Mormons; attacking Catholicism gets you a prime-time slot at the Democratic convention; and our president famously denigrated Evangelicals and conservative Catholics as bitter clingers. No, it’s only Muslims whom it is forbidden to offend.

Moreover, there is nothing wrong with denigrating a religion (or all religions), at least as a general matter. We call that debating ideas! Religious ideas are important, and should be debated openly. To suggest that religious ideas, unlike others, are not worthy of open debate is simply demeaning.

On the film in question, I have no opinion. I have not seen it, nor have I seen the trailer. Many people who have seen the trailer say it doesn’t look very good. That does not matter one iota. Freedom of Speech is not limited to skilled craftsmen.

The press

Finally there’s the Obama campaign and the press (who are one and the same). On the day after terrorists attack our embassy and consulate, killing our ambassador and three others, with Obama’s foreign policy lying in smouldering wreckage, Romney holds a press conference and these tools don’t ask about foreign policy. No, they want to talk about whether Romney committed a gaffe by criticizing the Embassy’s aforementioned craven statement:

It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.

ASIDE: We actually get here a rare glimpse of how the press coordinates its anti-Republican message. On an open microphone we can hear reporters from NPR and CBS discussing how to phrase a question to make Romney look bad, and how to ensure that question gets asked no matter whom Romney calls on.

It’s true that Romney got one fact wrong: the Embassy first issued its apology before the embassy attack, not after. But since the Embassy reiterated its apology multiple times after the attack, that really makes no difference.

Beyond that, I honestly don’t understand what they see wrong with Romney’s statement. It can’t be that the Embassy’s statement was right. It was terrible for all the reasons I discussed above, but even if you don’t agree with a single word of that, the Obama administration itself also repudiated the Embassy’s statement:

The statement by Embassy Cairo was not cleared by Washington and does not reflect the views of the United States government.

It is suggested that he commented too soon; that by rushing to comment he missed the chance to adjust the tone for the murders that became public later. But that makes no sense. By that reasoning,  you would never comment on anything, lest something else happen afterwards. Moreover, Romney’s statement wasn’t released from embargo until the Obama administration had already repudiated the Embassy’s statement.

It’s suggested that it was unfair for Romney to blame the Obama administration for the actions of the Cairo embassy. I find this maddening. These people refuse to hold President Obama accountable for any action of his administration. Our economic woes aren’t his fault. Trafficking guns to Mexican drug cartels isn’t his fault. He apparently doesn’t even control his own administration’s policy toward Jerusalem.

ASIDE: Mitt Romney, on the other hand, is answerable for every stupid comment made by any Republican anywhere. He’s even somehow responsible for the death of a woman who is six degrees of separation from even a flimsy connection to Romney.

No. The Embassy is part of his administration. That doesn’t mean that every action is his personal responsibility, but it’s perfectly fair to refer to it as part of the “Obama administration”.

Finally, there’s the notion that Romney shouldn’t have weighed in at all. “Politics should end at the water’s edge.” “Playing politics while people are dying.” This is such a load of crap it’s awfully hard to take.

Perhaps politics should end at the water’s edge. But if it ever did, which I doubt (is there even a single example of Democrats ever supporting a war or military action initiated by a Republican president?), that notion was killed during the Reagan administration, and its corpse was dismembered during the Bush 43 administration.

The centerpiece of John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign was opposition to the war in Iraq. And here’s Barack Obama attacking President Bush (and John McCain) for the conduct of the War on Terror, in which he explicitly cites a “brazen attack on a US base where nine servicemen were killed”:

(Via Hot Air.)

Clearly, this suggestion that one should refrain from criticizing the administration while people are dying overseas is completely disingenuous. Or perhaps they think it should only apply to Republicans.

What you have here is a disgusting display of appeasement, set against the backdrop of the complete failure of Obama’s policy toward the Muslim world. Obama said his inauguration would end the hostility of the Muslim world toward America. Instead, his weakness has exacerbated it. The media, in their role as praetorian guard for Obama’s image, naturally need to distract from that.

Their vigor in doing so has led them to coordinate at attack against Mitt Romney that makes no sense. And it has also led them to tell outright lies. On Thursday morning, I heard NPR try to isolate Romney from other Republicans, saying that other Republicans had refused to join Romney’s criticism. (This isn’t the story I heard, but late in the piece it makes the same allegation.)

This is grossly misleading on its face; they failed to note that a lot more information had come out since Romney and the White House issued their statements. Of course Congressional Republicans were going to be more circumspect. But it’s also an outright lie. At the very least, Senator Kyl (R-AZ), the number two Republican in the Senate, and Senator Blunt (R-MO) both echoed Romney’s criticism. I’m sure others did as well.

In short, we have a ruthless enemy determined to hurt us, a feckless and pusillanimous foreign service incapable of dealing with the threat, and a dishonest media determined — for narrow partisan reasons — to do all it can to obscure those facts. What a horrible, horrible affair.

UPDATE: Some have been defending the embassy, saying that its statement was not an apology. That’s actually true; it’s worse. An apology would identify with the society that permitted the video (which is to say, us). They were expressing solidarity with the Islamists.

UPDATE: Patterico says that CBS’s Jan Crawford (the one coordinating the Romney questions) is getting a bum rap. If so, she should explain herself.

UPDATE: The White House has refused to respond to calls for them to condemn a notorious anti-Christian “art” display. Well, it’s not like Christians are likely to attack any embassies.

(Previous post.)


Obama snubs Netanyahu

September 12, 2012

While Debbie Wasserman-Schultz prattles on about President Obama’s “stellar” record on Egypt, the Israelis’ far different perspective keeps being confirmed by events. In the latest snub, Obama just can’t find any time to meet with Benjamin Netanyahu during Netanyahu’s upcoming visit to the United States:

An Israeli official, who declined to be identified, said the White House had refused Netanyahu’s request to meet Obama when the Israeli leader visits the United States to attend the U.N. General Assembly, telling the Israelis, “The president’s schedule will not permit that.”

And this spin is just pathetic:

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor denied that Netanyahu’s request had been spurned, insisting instead that the two leaders were attending the General Assembly on different days and would not be in New York at the same time.

Obviously they don’t have to meet in New York. Netanyahu is travelling halfway around the world; he can take a half-hour flight to Washington. But don’t take my word for it:

One well-placed Jewish-American leader told Fox News that the White House has not yet fully ruled out moving things around on the schedule to accommodate Netanyahu. But as of now, Obama is scheduled to be on the campaign trail during the window of time when Netanyahu can make it to Washington.

UPDATE: No time for Netanyahu, but he has time to chum around with Beyonce, Jay-Z, and David Letterman.


Feckless

September 11, 2012

Islamists mark 9/11 by storming the US embassy in Cairo and the US consulate in Benghazi. The Islamists hoist the Al Qaeda flag over our embassy. One diplomat is dead. The Cairo embassy responds by apologizing to the Islamists.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: Make that four diplomats that are dead, including the ambassador to Libya. This Arab Spring is going just great.

UPDATE: The apology was actually sent out before the attack on the embassy, but they reiterated it after the attack.


Dangerous times

August 30, 2012

Oh my, the deputy head of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is now running Egypt, says that the Camp David Accords are unfair to Egypt. Here’s Wikipedia’s summary of the agreement, as it relates to Egypt and Israel:

Israel agreed to withdraw its armed forces from the Sinai, evacuate its 4,500 civilian inhabitants, and restore it to Egypt in return for normal diplomatic relations with Egypt, guarantees of freedom of passage through the Suez Canal and other nearby waterways (such as the Straits of Tiran), and a restriction on the forces Egypt could place on the Sinai peninsula, especially within 20–40 km from Israel. This process would take three years to complete. Israel also agreed to limit its forces a smaller distance (3 km) from the Egyptian border, and to guarantee free passage between Egypt and Jordan. With the withdrawal, Israel also returned Egypt’s Abu-Rudeis oil fields in western Sinai, which contained long term, commercially productive wells.

The agreement was entirely one-sided. Israel agreed to give Egypt the Sinai and the Suez Canal, in exchange for which Egypt promised only (1) not to militarize the Sinai and (2) to allow Israel to use the canal. Moreover, Israel recently has (foolishly) allowed Egypt to remilitarize the Sinai, leaving the second as the only Egyptian concession in the accord still active.

Is the Muslim Brotherhood really upset that Israel gets to use the Suez Canal? Not likely. More likely, they are upset with the accord’s implicit agreement that Egypt would not keep attacking Israel.


Anti-semitism rises in Germany

August 27, 2012

I would have thought that Germans, in particular, would want to avoid this sort of thing:

Jewish groups and Israeli politicians on Wednesday lashed out at German authorities after Bavarian prosecutors filed criminal charges against Rabbi David Goldberg for performing a circumcision.

The rabbi has been slapped with charges of committing bodily harm, in the first known case to arise from an anti-circumcision ruling in May. . .

“It has been many decades since a Jew was charged for practicing Judaism openly and is reminiscent of far darker times. We hope that in Germany, of all places, the authorities would remain far more sensitive to this issue,” [said the president of the European Jewish Congress].

(Via Bench Memos.)


Dangerous times

August 20, 2012

Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood figure elected president of Egypt, is taking over the military.


No more defectors

August 20, 2012

Apparently, our national security brain trust thinks it would be better if no one ever defected from China again:

China’s communist government is preparing to file treason charges against a former official who sought political asylum at the U.S. consulate in Chengdu but was turned away to avoid upsetting U.S.-China relations. . .

U.S. officials said Wang provided information and documents on the case of British national Neil Heywood, who was found dead in a Chongqing hotel the previous November.

The Free Beacon reported May 1 that the office of Vice President Joe Biden was behind the administration’s decision to turn Wang away from the consulate, in particular Biden national security aide Antony Blinken.

Blinken, according to administration officials, overruled State and Justice Department officials who favored granting Wang political asylum and working to get him out of China.


Obama on Jerusalem

August 4, 2012

Broken promise? Sure, but Jews were truly naive if they believed he ever meant any of it.

(Via Instapundit.)


Iraq to destroy remaining chemical weapons

July 31, 2012

This story must be awfully confusing to people who believe that Saddam Hussein had no chemical weapons:

Britain will help the Iraqi government dispose of what’s left of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons, still stored in two bunkers in north of Baghdad, the British embassy in Baghdad announced Monday.

The British Defense Ministry will start training Iraqi technical and medical workers this year, an embassy statement said. The teams will work to safely destroy remnants of munitions and chemical warfare agents left over from Saddam’s regime. He was overthrown in 2003 following an American-led invasion.

Saddam stored the chemical weapons near population centers so that he could access them quickly, despite the danger to his civilian population. . .

The head of the Iraqi National Authority, Mohammed Al Sharaa, said the remnants “represent a great challenge to the Iraqi experts to safely dispose.” He called the agreement with British authorities “a good opportunity for Iraqi experts to benefit from the well-known expertise of U.K. experts.”

(Via Instapundit.)


China cooks the books

July 28, 2012

I can’t say I find this the least bit surprising:

As the Chinese economy continues to sputter, prominent corporate executives in China and Western economists say there is evidence that local and provincial officials are falsifying economic statistics to disguise the true depth of the troubles.


Awwwwkward

July 28, 2012

The White House refuses to name the capital of Israel. Seriously; the White House spokesman refuses to answer the question:

When you can’t bear to answer such a simple question, that might be an eency weency hint that something is wrong with your foreign policy.


OMG

July 23, 2012

Kindergarten graduation in Gaza.


Good for them

June 6, 2012

The US embassy and consulates in China are reporting air quality data, presumably providing more accurate information than official Chinese reports. Naturally, China wants them to stop.


No special relationship

June 5, 2012

The Obama administration is continuing to side with Argentina over Britain in the Falklands dispute.


Thanks Pakistan!

May 28, 2012

Well, this is revealing:

A Pakistani doctor who helped the U.S. track down Usama bin Laden was sentenced to 33 years in prison on Wednesday for conspiring against the state, officials said, a verdict that is likely to further strain the country’s relationship with Washington

Shakil Afridi ran a vaccination program for the CIA to collect DNA and verify bin Laden’s presence at the compound in the town of Abbottabad where U.S. commandos killed the Al Qaeda chief last May in a unilateral raid. The operation outraged Pakistani officials, who portrayed it as an act of treachery by a supposed ally. . .

“He was working for a foreign spy agency. We are looking after our national interests,” said a Pakistani intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with the agency’s policy.

This doesn’t make sense if Pakistani intelligence viewed Bin Laden as a hostile hiding out in Pakistan. This only sense if they saw his presence, free, in Pakistan as in line with their “national interests”.

Also, I can’t help wonder how Pakistani intelligence identified Afridi.

POSTSCRIPT: This article in the Pakistani press is the top Google completion for Shakil Afridi. If it’s as influential as the Google ranking suggests, I think it’s revealing. The author compares Afridi to Julius Rosenberg (the American traitor who gave the atomic bomb to the Soviets). The comparison only makes sense if they see Afridi’s actions as hostile to Pakistani interests.


Why I don’t care about the French election

May 7, 2012

For decades, the central principle behind French foreign policy has been opposition to America. Arguably that’s been one of its central principles since the 1790s. Twice now I’ve been deluded to believe that the election of a conservative President in France might change that attitude. They even called Sarkozy “Sarko the American”. It all came to naught.

Hollande’s election will surely be a disaster for France. So what? I won’t quite say that’s a good thing, but I don’t much care. They’d just better not come to us looking for a bailout.


Diplomacy is hard. Apparently, so is geography.

April 16, 2012

The latest in President Obama’s “smart diplomacy”:

  1. Rather than side with our British friends and allies in their never-ending dispute with Argentina over the Falkland Islands, Obama proclaims that the United States is neutral.
  2. Rather than use the standard name Falkland Islands, Obama refers to them as the Malvinas — the name preferred by the Argentine government — thereby moving past neutrality to a pro-Argentine position.
  3. Obama botches the name Malvinas, and actually refers to the islands as the Maldives. The Maldives are an island nation in the Indian Ocean, on the other side of the world.

Seriously, how did people get the idea that this guy was competent to be president?


No free speech in Denmark

April 11, 2012

In Denmark you can be tried on “hate speech” charges for remarks made in private. Truth is not a defense, and if you’re acquitted, prosecutors can just try you again. This is what happened to Danish journalist Lars Hedegaard.

Put more succinctly, Denmark is not a free country.

UPDATE: The Danish Supreme Court has reversed Hedegaard’s conviction, but it did so without overturning the law that was used to persecuted him.


Argentina circling the bowl

March 31, 2012

Argentina must be nearing its final descent into fascism with this development: The Argentine government has banned all foreign books.

The pretext is that foreign books are unsafe, because their ink might contain high quantities of lead. You can still bring a book into Argentina if you can prove its ink is sufficiently low in lead. This is totally reasonable, because all books come with a certificate of low-lead ink, just in case you might want to bring them into a Peronist banana republic.

(Via Volokh.)


“After my election I have more flexibility”

March 26, 2012

Didn’t know that President Obama has been moderating his agenda? Beware, the reckless liberal you’ve known for four years is the cautious one who still needs to face re-election:

The exchange was picked up by microphones as reporters were let into the room for remarks by the two leaders. . .

President Obama: On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.

President Medvedev: Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you…

President Obama: This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.

President Medvedev: I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.

Once Obama needn’t care about the voters, the mask comes off.

UPDATE: Good question:

Why does Obama feel the President of Russia is entitled to know more about Obama’s plans than the American public?


Norks renege, again

March 21, 2012

In the least surprising story you’ll see this year, North Korea is reneging on its latest deal to suspend its nuclear program.

How do we keep falling for this? Is there a special school where they train diplomats to be stupid?


Disarming Venezuela

March 12, 2012

Venezuela takes another step toward tyranny with a complete ban on the sale of guns and ammunition.

The Chavistas are looking forward to the day, coming soon, when they will need force to stay in power. When that day comes, they want the opposition disarmed.

(Via Instapundit.)


Obama offers Israel bribe

March 11, 2012

The New York Post reports:

The US offered to give Israel advanced weaponry — including bunker-busting bombs and refueling planes — in exchange for Israel’s agreement not to attack Iranian nuclear sites, Israeli newspaper Maariv reported Thursday. President Obama reportedly made the offer during Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington this week.

Under the proposed deal, Israel would not attack Iran until 2013, after US elections in November this year.

Interesting that Obama feels that an Israeli attack would hurt him at the polls. He must feel that his response would not be well received by the American public, which tells you something about what his response would be.

From Israel’s perspective, the deal could be worth it. All that equipment would make at attack against Iran more effective, provided 2013 isn’t too late. By they need to be sure to get the deal in writing.


Socialist management

March 5, 2012

Venezuela continues to provide an object lesson on socialist management. Last month, Venezuela suffered a devastating oil spill (subscription required):

[On February 4], a pipeline carrying pressurised oil fractured in the state of Monagas. The crude soared 25 metres (82 feet) into the air and flowed for a full day. Anywhere from 40,000-120,000 barrels poured into a river that supplies drinking and irrigation water. Some 550,000 people now lack water at home. . . It may take months to clean the supply.

The spill exemplified the decline of Venezuela’s state oil company after Hugo Chavez fired everyone who knew anything and replaced them with his cronies:

PDVSA has struggled under Mr Chávez. In 2002 its workers went on strike to try to force him from office. In response, he fired 18,000 PDVSA employees, including senior managers. He then stuffed the company with tens of thousands of loyalists from what would later become his United Socialist Party (PSUV).

Since then oil output has stagnated, and accidents are on the rise. According to Eddie Ramírez, one of the sacked managers, the “old” PDVSA averaged less than two accidents per million man-hours. In 2010 there were 9.4 accidents and almost six deaths per million man-hours.

Chavez also got rid of the independent contractors in 2009, so it’s no surprise that he has no one left who can run an oil company.


Administration ignored Iran opposition memo

February 29, 2012

The Washington Examiner reports:

Documents obtained by The Washington Examiner suggest the Obama administration missed at least one major opportunity to help opposition groups in Iran that has not previously been reported. In November 2009, leaders of the Green party, which had staged a revolt on the streets of Tehran in June of that year, sent a long memo through channels to the Obama administration that some analysts said was a clear call for help.

“So now, at this pivotal point in time, it is up to the countries of the free world to make up their mind,” states the opposition memo dated Nov. 30, 2009. “Will they continue on the track of wishful thinking and push every decision to the future until it is too late, or will they reward the brave people of Iran and simultaneously advance the Western interests and world peace.” . . .

The administration claimed in 2009 that the Green party in Iran did not want American help. And the State Department repeated that this week. “Most leaders in the Green movement made clear they did not desire financial or other support from the United States,” a State Department senior official said.

This is typical of the lack of reality with which this administration approaches foreign policy. The Obama administration thought they knew what the Iranian opposition wanted, even though the opposition itself was saying the opposite.

Or perhaps the administration was simply lying to us.

(Via Instapundit.)


Easiest way to lie with statistics: Just lie

February 24, 2012

Argentina’s ruling Peronists continue (subscription required) their war on inflation statistics:

Since 2007, when Guillermo Moreno, the secretary of internal trade, was sent into the statistics institute, INDEC, to tell its staff that their figures had better not show inflation shooting up, prices and the official record have parted ways. Private-sector economists and statistical offices of provincial governments show inflation two to three times higher than INDEC’s number (which only covers greater Buenos Aires). Unions, including those from the public sector, use these independent estimates when negotiating pay rises. . .

The government has gone to extraordinary lengths, involving fines and threats of prosecution, to try to stop independent economists from publishing accurate inflation numbers. The American Statistical Association has protested at the political persecution faced by its Argentine colleagues, and is urging the United Nations to act, on the ground that the harassment is a violation of the right to freedom of expression.

Here’s why they don’t want accurate inflation figures:


Interpol: the long arm of Sharia?

February 20, 2012

On Mohammed’s birthday, a Saudi journalist named Hamza Kashgari tweeted some very mild criticism of the Muslim prophet:

“On your birthday, I will say that I have loved the rebel in you, that you’ve always been a source of inspiration to me, and that I do not like the halos of divinity around you. I shall not pray for you,” he wrote in one tweet.

“On your birthday, I find you wherever I turn. I will say that I have loved aspects of you, hated others, and could not understand many more,” he wrote in a second.

“On your birthday, I shall not bow to you. I shall not kiss your hand. Rather, I shall shake it as equals do, and smile at you as you smile at me. I shall speak to you as a friend, no more,” he concluded in a third.

Having been led to believe that Muslims venerated the Koran, not Mohammed, I would have thought this sounded like good Islam to me, but obviously I’m not a good judge. As the death threats rolled in, Kashgari fled the country. He was trying to reach New Zealand, but was arrested in Malaysia, and extradited back to Saudi Arabia (probably illegally), where he faces the death penalty.

It’s troubling that Malaysia would do this, which I had thought to be a fairly civilized country, by the standards of that part of the world. Officially Malaysia recognizes freedom of religion, and, although it has Sharia courts, they apply only to Malaysian Muslims. (According to Wikipedia.)

But the most troubling part of the story for us in the west is the alleged involvement of Interpol in Kashgari’s arrest:

Police in Kuala Lumpur said Hamza Kashgari, 23, was detained at the airport “following a request made to us by Interpol” the international police cooperation agency, on behalf of the Saudi authorities.

Interpol denied that it was involved, which leaves it unclear what happened. It’s hard to see why the Kuala Lumpur police would lie about this, while Interpol, if it were involved, would have every reason to cover up its involvement. Moreover, there is recent precedent for Interpol abusing its red notices (international arrest warrants) in southeast Asia.

But it seems like it should be possible to get to the bottom of this, if some enterprising reporter decides to look into it.


Doing the Putin thing

February 15, 2012

Having extracted South Ossetia from Georgia by military force, Putin certainly isn’t going to let some measly election get in his way:

The opposition movement leader in the mountainous enclave of South Ossetia had planned to be inaugurated as its rightful president on Friday in an unauthorized ceremony. Instead, she lay unconscious in a hospital with a possible rifle-butt blow to the head, her aides were under arrest and her organization was in disarray, crushed by police officers apparently acting on the Kremlin’s orders. . .

Russian-backed candidates had recently lost elections in both South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which are the separatist regions in Georgia that were a cause of the war between Russia and Georgia in 2008. Another Russian-backed candidate was defeated in Transnistria, a breakaway territory in Moldova.

The Russians had harbored some hope in South Ossetia, but Ms. Dzhioeva unexpectedly defeated the Kremlin-backed candidate in November. In December, the region’s Supreme Court annulled the election results, citing campaign violations.

(Via The American Interest.)


Meir had it right

February 12, 2012

Golda Meir once reportedly said, “Peace will come when the Arabs start to love their children more than they hate us.” I thought of that when I read that in 21 of 22 Samarian villages, Palestinians would rather see untreated sewage flow into their water source than accept help from Israel.

(Via Power Line.)


Human-rights hypocrisy

February 11, 2012

Baltasar Garzón, the celebrated (by some) Spanish judge and supposed human-rights crusader, has been convicted of wiretapping.

You may have heard of this guy before. He was the darling of the left when he sought to use universal jurisdiction to prosecute Bush administration officials for war crimes.

More here. (Via Instapundit.)


Twitter sells out

February 8, 2012

ABC News reports:

Twitter has announced a new plan that will allow it to censor users’ tweets on a country-by-country basis if governments object to them. It says the policy is an attempt to keep doing business in countries, such as China, that do not welcome all expression.

On the company’s blog Twitter said it will now withhold offending content within the specific country that censors the language, while leaving it unaltered for the rest of the world. It will also post a censorship notice whenever a tweet is removed.


Bolivia legalizes lynching

January 19, 2012

When you put socialists in charge, due process goes out the window (subscription required):

The new constitution drawn up by Mr Morales’s party and approved in 2009 has legalised traditional justice dispensed by village elders. Community justice can sometimes resemble legalised lynching, featuring stoning, strangulation or burning with petrol. The police do not keep separate records of these acts. Carlos Valverde, an investigative journalist, chronicled 16 such killings in 2009 and 13 in the first half of 2010, including the kidnap, torture and murder of four policemen.


Chutzpah

January 18, 2012

Argentina, which launched a war of aggression in 1982 and lost it, says that Britain should seek a peaceful solution:

Argentina’s foreign minister Héctor Timerman said: “Instead of convening its National Security Council, Great Britain should call Ban Ki-moon and accept the multiple resolutions of the [UN] organisation urging a dialogue on the Malvinas [Falklands] question to reach a peaceful solution.”


What’s the word for undoing a “reset”?

January 2, 2012

The essence of the Obama administration’s “reset” of relations with Russia is this: Before the reset, Russia aggressively fought against western interests, we opposed them, and relations were bad. After the reset, Russia aggressively fights against western interests, we don’t oppose them, and everybody smiles. That’s great, if the smiles are what matter, as opposed to the substance.

Case in point, sanctions against Iran have been starting to bite, and so Russia is trying to get them lifted. Their justification? They have proof, proof!, that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons.

“We have verified data showing that there is no reliable evidence for the existence of a military component” in Iran’s nuclear programme, said Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. . .

“Sanctions have gone way too far. They heavily outweigh what is being done in the sphere of talks. We must push harder on the negotiating track.”

(Via the Corner.)


Muslim Brotherhood to scrap peace treaty

January 2, 2012

As expected, the Muslim Brotherhood has announced plans to scrap Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel. They plan to do it with a shrewd gimmick:

The Muslim Brotherhood comes up with a neat trick to break the peace treaty with Israel without formally doing so. Egypt’s next likely ruling party says it simply will hold a plebiscite and let the people do it.

I would like to hear what all those people in the liberal intelligentsia who said the Muslim Brotherhood was moderate and non-violent have to say for themselves now. I wish it were true, but wishing never makes it so.

(Via the Corner.)


Good question

December 31, 2011

Why is the Defense Department outsourcing the next-generation Light Air Support program to a Brazilian company with close ties to Iran?


Persecution of Christians spikes

December 29, 2011

The Arab Spring has been just as bad for Christians as we feared.


Joe Biden: idiot

December 26, 2011

Someone needs to glue this man’s mouth shut:

The White House on Monday defended Vice President Joe Biden for saying that the Taliban isn’t an enemy of the United States despite the years spent fighting the militant Islamic group that gave a home to Al Qaeda and its leader Usama bin Laden while he plotted the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Jay Carney’s attempted defense doesn’t even make sense:

“It’s only regrettable when taken out of context,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said of the vice president’s remarks in an interview published Monday.

“It is a simple fact that we went into Afghanistan because of the attack on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. We are there now to ultimately defeat Al Qaeda, to stabilize Afghanistan and stabilize it in part so that Al Qaeda or other terrorists who have as their aim attacks on the United States cannot establish a foothold again in that country,” Carney continued.

This is nonsense. After 9/11, the Taliban was given a choice: side with us or Al Qaeda. They chose Al Qaeda. They are the enemy.

What’s worse, the world is looking for signs as to whether we will stay the course in Afghanistan. This sort of talk doesn’t help; in fact it costs lives. That’s the “context” that matters.


Figures may not sum to 100%

December 22, 2011

In one Russian town, 146% of the electorate voted. In another, 127%.


Hezbollah in trouble?

December 22, 2011

Daniel Pipes thinks Hezbollah might be in trouble. Here’s hoping.


Smart diplomacy

December 19, 2011

The Obama administration pushed for early elections in Egypt even though they knew they would likely put the Islamists in charge. That worked out great, guys, thanks.

Is there any way we could have played the Arab Spring worse than we have?

(Via Instapundit.)


1920

December 19, 2011

As Daniel Pipes explains, Palestinian nationalism was invented in 1920. When Newt Gingrich cited this historical fact — with his usual tact — a week ago, he was predictably attacked by those whose ideology depends on a long-suffering Palestinian people (and who therefore have done everything they can to ensure that the Palestinian people continue to suffer). But that doesn’t change the historical facts.

POSTSCRIPT: For more uncomfortable history, take a look at the subsequent Palestinian history.


International Red Cross fights video games

December 14, 2011

The International Red Cross has too much time on its hands:

THE Red Cross is investigating whether 600 million gamers are violating the Hague and Geneva conventions when they kill and blow stuff up for fun.

Delegates at the 31st International Conference of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Red Crescent raised the concerns over the potential “International Humanitarian Law” violations during a workshop in Geneva.

I would just emphasize that the International Red Cross is a distinct organization from the American Red Cross. The latter is a valuable institution, the former isn’t good for much.

LONG POSTSCRIPT: Glenn Reynolds — where I first saw this story — has pulled back from it, posting a link to what he calls the ICRC response. It says:

[Q.] A few media reported that certain virtual acts performed by characters in video games could amount to serious violations of the law of armed conflict. Is this correct?

[A.] No. Serious violations of the laws of war can only be committed in real-life situations, not in video games.

Sounds pretty reasonable (although note the use of the word “serious”), but this is not a response to the story. It’s from a FAQ dated August 12, 2011. That’s over three months before the conference took place so it cannot address reports of what actually took place at the conference. Moreover, the conference’s daily bulletin issued December 1 reports this:

While the Movement works vigorously to promote international humanitarian law (IHL) worldwide, there is also an audience of approximately 600 million gamers who may be virtually violating IHL. Exactly how video games influence individuals is a hotly debated topic, but for the first time, Movement partners discussed our role and responsibility to take action against violations of IHL in video games. In a side event, participants were asked: “what should we do, and what is the most effective method?” While National Societies shared their experiences and opinions, there is clearly no simple answer. There is, however, an overall consensus and motivation to take action.

From their own report, it seems clear that the article is accurate. The organization’s actual response was appended to the article:

Update: After this story was published, Red Cross International said the organisation would not be discussing the matter any further beyond the initial workshop. . .

“Serious violations of the laws of war can only be committed in real-life situations, not in video games,” Mr Farnoudi told news.com.au.

Okay, I’m glad they’re backing away, but still note the use of the word “serious”. They are evidently sticking to the position that gaming can violate international law, just not in a “serious” way.


Tom Friedman, call your office

December 14, 2011

A Chinese town rebels against their tyrants:

For the first time on record, the Chinese Communist party has lost all control, with the population of 20,000 in this southern fishing village now in open revolt.

The last of Wukan’s dozen party officials fled on Monday after thousands of people blocked armed police from retaking the village, standing firm against tear gas and water cannons.
Since then, the police have retreated to a roadblock, some three miles away, in order to prevent food and water from entering. . .

Wukan’s troubles began in September, when the villagers’ collective patience snapped at an attempt to take away their land and sell it to property developers.

“Almost all of our land has been taken away from us since the 1990s but we were relaxed about it before because we made our money from fishing,” said Yang Semao, one of the village elders. “Now, with inflation rising, we realise we should grow more food and that the land has a high value.”

The villagers made the mistake of believing that the government would negotiate in good faith:

In the aftermath, the local government tried to soothe the bruised villagers, asking them to appoint 13 of their own to mediate between the two sides – a move which was praised. . . Last Friday, at 11.45 in the morning, four minibuses without license plates drove into Wukan and a team of men in plain clothes seized five of the village’s 13 representatives from a roadside restaurant.

One of the five later died in police custody.

I wish them well, but without much hope. The Communists can’t afford to let this stand. This won’t end well.

(Via Instapundit.)


US ambassador attacks Israel

December 5, 2011

President Obama’s ambassador to Belgium says that Muslim anti-Semitism is Israel’s fault:

“There is significant anger and resentment and, yes, perhaps sometimes hatred and indeed sometimes an all too growing intimidation and violence directed at Jews generally as a result of the continuing tensions between Israel and the Palestinian territories and other Arab neighbors in the Middle East,” Gutman told the group, according to a transcript of his remarks published in the European Jewish Press.

I’ve heard many leftists make this sort of argument, and, as always, the historical illiteracy is appalling. This has the casual relationship precisely backwards. The conflict between Israel and its surrounding enemies exists precisely because of Middle Eastern Arabs’ long-standing refusal to live alongside Jews.


Casus belli

December 5, 2011

Iran trained Al Qaeda on how to bomb embassies. (Via Instapundit.)

POSTSCRIPT: It will be good to remember this whenever some superficially knowledgeable nitwit claims that Sunni Al Qaeda could never collaborate with Shia Iran.


Swiss banks committing suicide?

November 27, 2011

As southern Europe looks like an increasingly scary place to keep your money, southern Europeans (particularly Greeks) are looking to get their money into safe havens abroad, such as Switzerland. But if this story is right, the European Commission is negotiating a deal with Switzerland in which Swiss banks would repatriate (that is, confiscate and turn over) funds they hold for Greek citizens.

Obviously this would be a horrible development for Europe (or, more precisely, for Europeans who want to hold assets that won’t be destroyed or stolen by their government), but it’s also astonishingly stupid for the Swiss banks: What is the primary selling point for Swiss banks? Your money is safe there. If your money is no longer safe in a Swiss bank, what purpose do they serve?

They don’t even need to conclude a deal, the mere fact (if it is a fact) that they are negotiating this is enough to destroy confidence in Swiss banks. Who would risk keeping their money there?

On the other hand, it’s great news for the Caymans, et al.


Oh, that’s just swell

November 2, 2011

Libyan rebels, now running the country, have been flying the Al Qaeda flag.

Also, a former member of Al Qaeda has been appointed commander of the Tripoli Military Council. I don’t know exactly what that is, but it doesn’t sound good.

UPDATE: More.

UPDATE: There is a video of a parade (reportedly in Benghazi, although I have no way of verifying that) filled with Al Qaeda flags. I certainly didn’t watch the whole 14-minute video, but I sampled it at random intervals and never failed to find plenty of them.


Our friends the Saudis

November 2, 2011

AP reports:

A member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family increased to $1 million a reward offered by a Saudi cleric to anyone who captures an Israeli soldier to swap him for Palestinian prisoners.

Prince Khaled bin Talal, brother of billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, told the kingdom’s al-Daleel TV station by telephone Saturday that he was raising a previous offer made by Sheik Awadh al-Qarani, a prominent Saudi cleric who promised $100,000 for capturing an Israeli soldier.

Also a reminder of the foolishness of bargaining with hostage takers.


South Africa in trouble

November 2, 2011

Will South Africa be the next Zimbabwe?

Julius Malema, the 30-year old leader of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) has attracted growing headlines since 2010 for his calls to nationalize South Africa’s mines, and to emulate Zimbabwe’s land redistribution program in order to rectify a wide wealth imbalance between the white minority, which accounted for 9% of the 50 million person nation according to a 2010 census. Malema proclaimed “The only option is to take the land without compensation, if you refuse to give us an alternative.”

Last month, he was convicted of hate speech for singing an inflammatory anti-apartheid song which translates into “Shoot the Boer” (Dubhula iBhunu) at a ANCYL rally. Are these the harmless ravings of an innocuous radical activist, or an ominous harbinger for South Africa’s future? Current President Jacob Zuma has previously referred to Malema as a future president.

Next year, the ANC will hold leadership elections, in which the next president of South Africa will likely emerge. . . Robert Mugabe turned the breadbasket of Africa into a dysfunctional, violent kleptocracy. If ANC moderates fail to stop Malema’s ascent, South Africa may never regain the optimism of 1995 and slip down the dangerous path Zimbabwe forged in 1987.

(Via Instapundit.)


Smart diplomacy

October 30, 2011

The White House describes Russia’s invasion of Georgia as a trade dispute.


Lights out in Pakistan

October 24, 2011

The Economist had an article (subscription required) earlier this month about Pakistan’s disastrous electricity shortage. In the middle of the article was a little hint as to why the shortage exists:

Insufficient capacity is not even the biggest problem. That is a $6 billion chain of debt, ultimately owed by the state, that is debilitating the entire energy sector. Power plants are owed money by the national grid and the grid in turn cannot get consumers (including the Pakistani government) to pay for the electricity they use. This week, the financial crunch meant that oil supply to the two biggest private power plants was halted, because the state-owned oil company had no cash to procure fuel.

(Emphasis mine.)

Suppliers aren’t being paid and a shortage results? Imagine that!


Dangerous times

October 24, 2011

The “Arab Spring” isn’t going well.


That’s two years too long

October 19, 2011

Fox News reports:

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez likely has less than two years to live, his former doctor said, as the ailing firebrand traveled to Cuba for a checkup following cancer treatment.

It’s good (if this is right) that there may be a light at the end of Venezuela’s tunnel, but Chavez can ruin a lot more lives in two more years.


Casus belli

October 19, 2011

We are at war with Iran. It’s time we noticed:

A key player in the Iran-backed plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the U.S. was a senior military commander linked to the slaughter of U.S. troops in Iraq, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

Abdul Reza Shahlai is the cousin of accused plotter Mansour Arbabsiar, 56, an Iranian-American currently in custody and charged with a string of offenses including conspiracy to commit murder and an act of international terrorism. . . The 54-year-old is a commander in Iran’s Quds Force, the body believed to have been behind the Saudi ambassador plot and described to the Post by a US official as “Iran’s arm for supporting terrorists and planning attacks.”

In 2007 Shahlai ran a group of elite killers within the Iraqi militia of the cleric Moqtada al Sadr, who dressed as US and Iraqi soldiers and launched an attack on official buildings in Karbala — a raid which left five Americans dead.


Smart diplomacy

October 14, 2011

The White House confuses South Korea with Japan. Thank goodness we have the smart kids running the country again.


Springtime in hell

October 12, 2011

The Arab Spring is looking worse and worse for Christians and Jews.


Obama to Japan: sorry about winning the war

October 12, 2011

How much of a fool is President Obama? Leaked cables reveal that he wanted to go to Japan to apologize for using nuclear weapons. The apology didn’t go forward because the Japanese government didn’t want it, fearing it would be exploited by opponents of Japan’s alliance with the US.

I’m not sure which is more breathtaking, his historical ignorance, his present-day ignorance, or his disdain for America.

(Via PJ Tatler.)


The fall of Ukrainian democracy

October 12, 2011

A Ukrainian judge has put Yulia Tymoshenko, who lost the last national election, in prison on trumped-up charges. The probably marks the end of the Ukraine’s experiment with democracy. Democracy only works when the candidates can afford to lose the election; if losing means prison or worse, a peaceful election is too great a risk. Viktor Yanukovych clearly plans not to lose any more elections.

 


Springtime in hell

October 10, 2011

The term “Arab Spring” for the revolutions in the Arab world evokes a sense of optimism, but are things really getting better? Not for Egypt’s Christians. A group of Christians assembled to protest a recent attack on a Church and were attacked by the army and Islamic thugs:

Deadly clashes between angry Christians, Muslims and security forces have dealt a serious setback to Egypt’s transition to civilian rule, the country’s prime minister said Monday, hours after 24 people were killed in the worst violence since the February ouster of Hosni Mubarak. . .

Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s 80 million people, blame the country’s ruling military council for being too lenient on those behind a spate of anti-Christian attacks since Mubarak’s ouster. As Egypt undergoes a chaotic power transition and security vacuum in the wake of the uprising, the Coptic Christian minority is particularly worried about the show of force by ultraconservative Islamists. . .

Egypt’s official news agency, meanwhile, reported that dozens of “instigators of chaos” have been arrested following Sunday’s violence, sparked by a recent attack on a church in southern Egypt.

The MENA news agency did not say whether those arrested were Christians or Muslims, but security officials said most of the 24 killed were Christians and that they may have included one or two Muslims. . .

State TV, which has increasingly become loyal to the military, appealed on “honorable” Egyptians to protect the army against attacks as news spread of clashes between the Christian protesters and the troops outside the TV building. Soon afterward, bands of young men armed with sticks, rocks, swords and firebombs began to roam central Cairo, attacking Christians. Troops and riot police did not intervene to stop the attacks on Christians.

Throughout the night, the station cast the Christian protesters as a violent mob attacking the army and public property. At one point, Information Minister Osama Heikal went on the air to deny that the station’s coverage had a sectarian slant, but acknowledged that its presenters acted “emotionally.”

At one point, an armored army van sped into the crowd, striking several protesters and throwing some into the air. . .

The Christian protesters said their demonstration began as a peaceful attempt to sit in at the TV building. Then, the protesters said, they came under attack by thugs in plainclothes who rained stones down on them and fired pellets.

“The protest was peaceful. We wanted to hold a sit-in, as usual,” said Essam Khalili, a protester wearing a white shirt with a cross on it. “Thugs attacked us and a military vehicle jumped over a sidewalk and ran over at least 10 people. I saw them.”

(Emphasis mine.)

There’s video of the armored car attacking the protesters:

As you can see, this is not a fight between protesters and the army, as state television claimed. This was the army driving through crowds of people just milling about.

By the way, the spark for all this bloodshed was outrage by Muslims over Christians building a church.

(Via Instapundit.)


British cops order bible display shut down

September 29, 2011

Alas, this sort of story seems to be becoming commonplace in the UK:

Police have threatened a Christian cafe owner with arrest –for displaying passages from the Bible on a TV screen. Jamie Murray was warned by two police officers to stop playing DVDs of the New Testament in his cafe following a complaint from a customer that it was inciting hatred against homosexuals.

The nation that invented individual liberty has abandoned the freedoms of speech and religion.

(Via Volokh.)


No free press in Australia

September 29, 2011

Is America the only country left with a free press? Australia doesn’t have one: an Australian court has found a collection of newspaper articles to be illegal. It violated Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act by expressing improper opinions about who constitutes an Aborigine. The judge also prohibited the republication of the articles, and said he would consider forcing the newspaper to print an apology.


Milder, please

September 29, 2011

Turkey’s “mildly Islamist” (as the Economist likes to put it) government is prosecuting a cartoonist for blasphemy.

I wonder what it will take for the AKP’s apologists in the West to wake up.

(Via Volokh.)

UPDATE: A look at Turkey’s slide into dictatorship.


UK Labour calls for abolition of the free press

September 28, 2011

What fundamental rights hasn’t the UK abolished yet? Trial by jury, check. Double jeopardy, check. Freedom of religion, check. Free speech, check. Self defense, check.

Freedom of the press hasn’t been exempt from attack by any means, but the British press has still been mostly free. The Labour party wants to change that:

The stupidest of [the Labour Party’s] proposals to date will be presented today, when Ivan Lewis, the shadow culture secretary, will propose a licensing scheme for journalists through a professional body that will have the power to forbid people who breach its code of conduct from doing journalism in the future.

They want the government to decide who is allowed to publish and who is not — and they explicitly mean to use the system to silence the people they don’t want publishing.

The real problem in the UK is structural. Since 1911, there have been no checks or balances in the British government. The House of Commons is all-powerful. If the party in power decides to scrap the Freedom of the Press, or any other freedom, no one can stop them.

(Via Instapundit.)


Obama authorized bombs for Israel

September 26, 2011

President Obama’s dealings with Israel have generally been dreadful, but I must give credit where credit is due. According to Newsweek (so you may want to take this with a grain of salt), Obama authorized the delivery of 55 bunker buster bombs to Israel in 2009. This affirmed a delivery schedule determined by the Bush administration.


The problem of Pakistan

September 26, 2011

Walter Russel Mead has a very interesting article on the problem of Pakistan, and why Pakistan may see that problem (or problems, really) as essential to their continued existence as a nation.


Opinion police

September 23, 2011

John Hinderaker coins the perfect phrase — “opinion police” — for the journalists who claim to be fact-checking, but really are evaluating opinions.  This is a pernicious phenomenon that is becoming far too prevalent.

In this particular instance, Hinderaker was complaining about a Washington Post column by Glenn Kessler called The Fact Checker, which reported Rick Perry’s “newbie mistake” on the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Kessler said Perry’s was factually incorrect when he said:

I certainly have some concerns. The first step in any peaceful negotiation for a two-state solution for the Palestinians is to recognize the right of Israel’s existence. They have to denounce terrorism in both word and deed. And they have to sit down and negotiate with Israel directly. Anything short of that is a non-starter in my opinion.

Kessler claimed Perry was wrong on all three points. On the first point, he says that Palestinians have indeed recognized Israel, but this is debatable.

For starters, many say that the Palestinians never really changed their charter to remove its anti-Israel language. They argue that merely voting to revoke the charter’s provisions is not the same thing as producing a new charter without those provisions. (Here’s an example of that school of thought.) Personally, I think that what Palestinian authorities did in 1996 or 1998 to revise a document written in 1964 is beside the point. What matters is what they say and do now. Just last month, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas denied the existence of Israel:

The Palestinian Authority will not be recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday, adopting a belligerent tone ahead of his planned statehood bid in September. . .

“Don’t order us to recognize a Jewish state,” Abbas said. “We won’t accept it.”

And this very day, the logo of the Palestinian mission to the UN denies Israel’s existence. In short, Perry’s position is, at the very least, a defensible opinion, not a factual error. Frankly, I think he’s right.

Kessler is even weaker on the other two facets of Perry’s statement. Perry says the Palestinians must denounce terrorism in word and deed. Kessler produces one example of the Palestinians denouncing terrorism in word. He does not produce any examples of the Palestinians denouncing terrorism in deed (okay, I’ll grant that that’s clumsy wording), because there are none to produce.

On the third point, that the Palestinians need to negotiate with Israel directly, Kessler seems to concede that Perry is right. The Palestinians are not negotiating with Israel directly, and haven’t since March 2010. But somehow this point too shows Perry’s ignorance. Kessler doesn’t explain how.

Nowhere in this “fact-checking” piece on Perry’s “newbie mistake” does Kessler demonstrate any factual errors. On the contrary, there is one difference in opinion, and two correct facts. But wait, Kessler talked to three anonymous “experts”, and all three said that Perry sounded remarkably uninformed. Oh, well then.

But wait, there’s more! Kessler concludes that Rick Perry’s campaign is a “fact-free zone” (no facts at all!) because they have never replied to any of his inquiries. Clearly, Kessler is using the word “fact” to mean something entirely different from what it means to me.


An essential history lesson

September 23, 2011

You can find the book here.

(Via Power Line.)

POSTSCRIPT: As a reminder that Palestinian rejectionism continues unabated today, note that the logo of the Palestinian delegation to the UN — the very same group seeking blessing for an independent state this week — denies the very existence of Israel.


Saudis to critics: shut up or else

September 20, 2011

The Saudis are trying to suppress criticism, in Canada:

Saudi Arabia has hired lawyers to threaten Canadian broadcasters who dare to run a TV ad critical of Saudi conflict oil. . .

Alykhan Velshi, who runs EthicalOil.org, produced a 30-second TV ad comparing the treatment of women in Canada with the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia. . . Saudi Arabia doesn’t like criticism like that, though. They are a fascist state without a free press or any opposition political parties. And now they’ve hired one of the world’s largest law firms, a 2,600-lawyer monstrosity called Norton Rose, to threaten Canada’s media into silence, too.

Rahool Agarwal, one of the lawyers at Norton Rose, has been contacting broadcasters across Canada, threatening them if they air the ad. Already two networks have capitulated in the face of such threats, including CTV, Canada’s biggest private broadcaster. Agarwal has also threatened EthicalOil.org with a lawsuit, too. He won’t say for what — he clearly has no legal case. But the point is silencing dissent. And it’s working.

POSTSCRIPT: The primary culprit here is Saudi Arabia, of course, but Canada has to take some blame for allowing this to happen. If Canada had a better record viz a viz free speech, such threats as these would be less likely to work. As it is, every Canadian broadcaster has to worry about being hauled into a “human rights” commission.

(Via Instapundit.)


Scary

September 14, 2011

The “mildly Islamic” (as the Economist likes to put it) government of Turkey is rattling its saber against Israel louder and louder. In just the last few days, Turkish newspapers have reported two belligerent announcements from the Turkish government. First, the government announced it was reprogramming its IFF systems to identify Israeli planes as hostile. Second, they reportedly announced that Turkish warships would accompany the upcoming humanitarian/terrorist flotilla to Gaza, and would attack any Israeli warships they encountered outside Israeli waters. The government quickly backpedaled from the second announcement, but it’s hard to be very reassured.

We must not forget that Erdogan’s fingerprints are all over the original humanitarian/terrorist flotilla that started this whole crisis. He wants this crisis; the only question is why. Does he really want war with Israel? If not, what does he expect to gain from his brinksmanship?

(Via Hot Air.)

UPDATE: David Warren is worried too.


Dangerous times

September 10, 2011

A mob in Egypt attacked the Israeli embassy in Cairo, apparently with the blessing of the Egyptian authorities. The mob worked for hours to break in, while police made no effort to stop them.

(Via Hot Air.)

UPDATE: More here, including some informative photos.

UPDATE: Egypt says it will try the perpetrators. We’ll see.


Turkey circles the drain

September 10, 2011

As an another example of the slow-motion collapse of Turkish civilization under Islamist rule, the Turkish government has ended the independence of the Turkish Academy of Sciences. The members of the academy (and its officers) will now be appointed by the government rather than being selected by merit. Also, in order that it not take years for the political appointees to dominate the academy, the government will more than double the academy’s membership immediately. It would have been better to dissolve the academy outright.

Glenn Reynolds adds, “To paraphrase Tom Wolfe, anti-science fundamentalism is forever descending upon the United States, but somehow it always seems to land on the Muslim world.”


Turkey threatens Israel with war

September 8, 2011

Well this is ominous:

Turkish warships will escort any Turkish aid vessels to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an interview with Al-Jazeera television on Thursday.

“Turkish warships, in the first place, are authorized to protect our ships that carry humanitarian aid to Gaza,” Erdogan said in the interview. “From now on, we will not let these ships to be attacked by Israel, as what happened with the Freedom Flotilla.”

Observet that the stronger the Islamists grow in Turkey, the worse become Turkey’s relations with Israel.


Dangerous times

September 5, 2011

One of the leaders of Libya’s new regime is a former member of al Qaeda. (At least, I hope he’s a former member.) And, if that’s not unsettling enough, the new regime is starting to round up blacks:

Yesterday also brought news via the Associated Press that rebel forces and armed civilians are rounding up thousands of black Libyans and migrants from sub-Sahara Africa, accusing them of fighting for ousted strongman Moammar Gadhafi and holding them in makeshift jails across the capital. The AP’s Ben Hubbard reports that all of the detainees say they are innocent migrant workers — not a great shock — and asserts that in most cases there is no evidence that they are lying.

I’m glad that Qaddafi is gone, but I wish we’d taken steps to ensure that we weren’t putting something worse in his place.

(Via Instapundit.)


An alternative theory of Gunwalker

September 3, 2011

It’s hard to guess what the government’s true intentions were in the Gunwalker scandal. The ATF claims that it was a strategy — gone horribly wrong — to track illegal guns to the leaders of Mexican drug cartels, but that claim doesn’t make sense since they didn’t actually try to track the guns.

Many have speculated that the ATF’s true purpose in trafficking illegal weapons to Mexico was to buttress the narrative that too many illegal weapons are being trafficked into Mexico (the old 90% lie), in an effort to promote additional gun control regulations in the United States. This theory is supported by a paper trail showing that the same people who ran the ill-fated operation were being asked to provide support for the anti-gun narrative. It’s also supported by the fact that the speculative aim of the strategy, more gun control, is exactly what happened, despite public exposure of the ATF’s misdeeds.

This speculation is increasingly seeming likely to be true, because of the lack of any other explanation for the ATF’s behavior. But Robert Farago has another theory. He says that we should assume that the government meant to do exactly what it did: arms Mexican drug cartels; in particular, the Sinaloa drug cartel.

According to his theory, the US government was concerned that the Mexican government might fall to the Zetas. (That’s the extremely dangerous drug cartel originally formed by mutinying Mexican special forces.) The ATF got the job of supplying weapons to the Zeta’s enemy, the Sinaloa cartel.

It’s an interesting theory. It strikes me as a little less reprehensible than the political theory (at least they would have had a legitimate aim in mind), but even more reckless.

Occam’s razor would seem to support Farago’s theory, but beyond that, there’s not any real evidence to support it. Also, the theory fails to explain why the State Department was also reportedly trafficking guns to the Zetas.

(Previous post.)


Iran to West: don’t exploit Arab Spring

August 31, 2011

The New York Times reports:

Iran’s supreme leader admonished the West and Israel on Wednesday not to seek advantage from the antigovernment uprisings convulsing the Arab Muslim world . . .

Ha. If only. I doubt the mullahs have anything to worry about on that score.


Do it right now

August 21, 2011

Is President Obama dishonest, or clueless?

Passing trade deals is something that “Congress can do right now,” remarked President Obama Monday at a town hall meeting in Cannon Falls, Minnesota.

Not so fast. The truth is that Congress can’t do anything on free trade agreements “right now,” because the President has yet to send the agreements to Congress for final approval, despite receiving recommendations on the agreements from Congress on July 7.

The President often mentions that in January 2009 he inherited a very difficult economic environment. He also inherited three negotiated and signed Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Korea, Colombia and Panama. The only step left for the Obama administration was to submit the agreements to Congress for ratification: a step yet to be taken.

(Emphasis mine.) (Via the Corner.)

POSTSCRIPT: At least in regard to Colombia, Congress does need to take some blame. President Bush did send the agreement to Congress for ratification in 2008, and the Democrats who ran Congress at the time refused to hold a vote, for no reason whatsoever.


Smart diplomacy

August 16, 2011

More of the Obama administration’s “smart diplomacy”:

The United States has apologised for controversial remarks made by a US diplomat who spoke of “dark and dirty” Indians, calling the comments “inappropriate”. US Vice-Consul Maureen Chao told Indian students on Friday that her “skin became dirty and dark like the Tamilians” after a long train journey, according to Indian media — referring to people from the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

(Via Instapundit.)


Rice skips key UN meeting

August 14, 2011

When the UN Security Council convened to discuss a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, Susan Rice — President Obama’s ambassador to the UN — didn’t bother to show up. (More here.)

According to Richard Grenell, Rice rarely shows up to these things.


UK protecting Iran suppliers

August 5, 2011

Why is the British government protecting companies supplying military technology to Iran?

It’s a pity our relationship with the UK has been damaged so much that we can’t just ask them to stop.

(Via Instapundit.)


The Arab Spring sours

August 2, 2011

Wow, it’s too bad no one saw this coming:

Mobs of ordinary Egyptians joined with soldiers to drive pro-democracy protesters from their encampment in Tahrir Square here Monday, showing how far the uprising’s early heroes have fallen in the eyes of the public.

Six months after young, liberal activists helped lead the popular movement that ousted President Hosni Mubarak, the hard core of these protesters was forcibly dispersed by the troops. Some Egyptians lined the street to applaud the army. Others ganged up on the activists as they retreated from the square that has come to symbolize the Arab Spring.

Squeezed between an assertive military and the country’s resurgent Islamist movement, many Internet-savvy, pro-democracy activists are finding it increasingly hard to remain relevant in a post-revolutionary Egypt that is struggling to overcome an economic crisis and restore law and order.

(Via the Corner.)


Smart diplomacy

July 6, 2011

The US ambassador to the United Kingdom skipped an official event commemorating President Reagan:

What could the Ambassador to England have on his schedule that is more important than attending a celebration and commemoration of a US president? Isn’t this, in part, part of the job? When a foreign country goes out of its way to honor your country, doesn’t that give you a unique leverage that should be capitalized on? Doesn’t it follow that the only way to capitalize on it is to actually be there?

From all reports, Susman was not sick, stricken with illness or involved in a really intense game of Farmville. He simply didn’t show up, as the representative of the United States, to an event honoring one of the greatest presidents in US history.

Glenn Reynolds adds:

A political hack, he acted in accordance with his nature — politically. He couldn’t imagine that this could matter to anyone serious. In that he showed the narrow worldview and lack of imagination that characterizes the Obama Administration’s diplomacy.

That sounds right to me. Susman got the job by being one of Barack Obama’s top fundraisers.


Good grief

June 29, 2011

North Korea is now chairing the UN Conference on Disarmament.


Dangerous times

June 28, 2011

Who ever could have seen this coming?

Sensing the revolution that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak is slipping from their grasp, activists and opposition groups are pressuring the ruling military council to postpone Egypt’s elections in September amid fears that Islamists and members of the former regime will gain too much power.

(Via Instapundit.)


Smart diplomacy

June 18, 2011

The Czechs have run out of patience with the Obama administration:

The Czech Republic is withdrawing from U.S. missile defense plans out of frustration at its diminished role, the Czech defense minister told The Associated Press Wednesday. . .

“I’m not surprised by the decision,” said Jan Vidim, a lawmaker in the lower house of the Czech Parliament. “The United States has been and will be our crucial strategic partner but the current administration doesn’t take the Czech Republic seriously.”

Vidim’s remarks reflected concern by many in Central and Eastern Europe that the U.S. interest in resetting ties with Moscow could come at their expense.

(Via Hot Air.)