It was a great year for the Obama administration’s foreign policy . . . says the Obama administration. The State Department even created a new hashtag to celebrate the White House's annus mirabilis—#2015in5Words. "Protecting Arctic Climate and Communities" and "Protecting Health of Our Ocean" are among two of the administration's big wins.
A few of the claims are of course questionable, like "Winning Fight Against Violent Extremists." Okay, congratulations to the White House for hosting a conference on countering violent extremism in February.Read more
Russia's aggressive moves in the Middle East have raised speculation about a new Cold War. A more accurate description would reference the geopolitical, historical, and cultural factors underpinning Russia's imperial ambitions in the south—ambitions that preceded the Cold War and took root in the czarist era.
In terms formulated by the renowned British geopolitician Halford Mackinder in his 1904 article "The Geographical Pivot of History," Russia occupies the "heartland" of Eurasia, that is, the central position on the Eurasian landmass. According to Mackinder, "who rules East Europe commands the Heartland. Who rules the Heartland commands the World Island [encompassing all of Eurasia, including Asia, Europe, the MiddleRead more
In July the Obama administration and its European and Russian partners met with Iran in Vienna to sign the so-called nuclear deal. The general idea was to at least delay nuclear proliferation in an already volatile part of the world. No doubt the White House was hoping for much more—that the Islamic Republic of Iran could be welcomed back into the community of nations, bringing stability to a violent Middle East. But it is now clear that Obama’s great diplomatic endeavor has had the opposite effect: Sectarian war is engulfing the Middle East.Read more
In a move that has sent shockwaves throughout Egypt, the Coptic Pope, Tawadros II, travelled to Jerusalem Thursday at the head of a distinguished delegation of bishops from the Coptic Church. The short flight from Cairo to Tel Aviv can be measured in minutes; the psychological distance stretches back decades.Read more
Sources in Beirut are confirming reports from various Middle East media outfits that Qassem Suleimani, the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ expeditionary unit, was wounded in the fighting in the Syrian city of Aleppo recently. Fighters from Hezbollah, according to sources close to the party of God, believe the Quds Force commander may be in a hospital in Tehran, or already dead.Read more
Obama Calls Helping Christian Refugees 'Shameful,' While State Claims That’s Exactly What It’s Doing
In remarks a few days ago in Turkey, President Obama said this:
when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefitted from protection when they were fleeing political persecution -- that’s shameful. That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.Read more
In his press conference in Turkey on Monday, President Obama called “shameful” the proposals to give special treatment to Christian refugees from the Middle East. Here’s some of what he said:Read more
Before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, my friend Ahmad Chalabi would often carry fat tomes about America’s occupations of Germany and Japan. An Iraqi exile after 1958 who lived mainly in London and Georgetown and maintained an off-and-on, love-hate relationship with Western intelligence agencies, he was blessed with a voracious, curious, and sensitive mind. He had a prodigious memory, too, and was well-schooled beyond mathematics, in which he held a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. But knowledge ultimately failed Chalabi.Read more
President Obama does not believe ISIS is getting stronger. At least, that's what he said this morning in an interview that aired on ABC News:
"I don't think they're gaining strength," Obama said of ISIS. "What is true is that from the start our goal has been first to contain and we have contained them. They have not gained ground in Iraq and in Syria ... you don't see the systematic march by ISIL across across the terrain."Read more
Democratic senator Tim Kaine admitted this morning on national TV that the U.S. has no strategy in Syria:
"The problem is, we don't have a comprehensive strategy," said Senator Kaine.
Kaine went on to blame Congress for the lack of strategy. "It's time to really have a strategy between Congress and the president. And that involved Congress being wiling to engage. And Congress hasn't been welling to do that."Read more
The chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Rep. Michael McCaul (R., TX), is trying to get the White House to pay attention to what Iran is doing around the Middle East. Earlier in the week, McCaul wrote a letter to Obama arguing that the clerical regime “has demonstrated hostility towards the United States and our allies through a series of increasingly provocative actions.”Read more
With the war in Syria becoming ever more complex and murderous, it’s worthwhile to revisit a guiding principle of Barack Obama: The use of American military power is likely to do more harm than good in the Middle East, and even in the region’s violent struggles, soft power is important, if not decisive, in resolving conflicts. If Islamic militancy is to be defeated, better ideas, advanced by Muslims, backed up if necessary by Muslim soldiers, must be the principal means.Read more
The Yom Kippur liturgy, just followed in synagogues around the world, repeats several times references to God as one who rescues captives. The central daily Jewish prayer as well refers to God who “supports the fallen, heals the sick, sets captives free.” And throughout Jewish history, the redemption of captives has been considered an important commandment. This is the background to the repeated decisions by the state of Israel to free a hundred or a thousand Arab prisoners in exchange for one single captive Jew.Read more
The United States, President Obama said at the U.N. General Assembly last week, “worked with many nations in this assembly to prevent a third world war—by forging alliances with old adversaries.” Presumably, the president was not referring to his deeply flawed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the recent agreement that the White House has marketed as the only alternative to war with a soon-to-be-nuclear Iran.Read more
Antisemitism has never been an easy subject for America’s foreign-policy establishment. Read through State Department telegrams and Central Intelligence Agency operational and intelligence cables on the Middle East and you will seldom find it discussed, even though Jew-hatred—not just anti-Zionism—has been a significant aspect, if not a core component, of modern Arab nationalism, Islamic fundamentalism, and what usually passes for critical thought among sophisticated Arab elites.Read more
Until mid-September, the half-million migrants who had been marching northwards into central Europe seemed like the Old World equivalent of Hurricane Sandy survivors. Families uprooted by the war in Syria were seeking safety, according to this view of things. It was sad to see little girls sleeping by the side of the road, but inspiring to see European volunteers, with their clipboards and their bags of snacks, their water bottles and Port-a-Potties, showing such compassion and logistical expertise.Read more
A photograph of a drowned 3-year-old boy washed up on a Turkish beach after his family failed to find refuge from the war in Syria seems to have finally gotten the world’s attention. The conflict has been an unfolding humanitarian catastrophe for more than four years. A quarter of a million are dead, and millions have been driven from their homes, either displaced within Syria or moved to flee abroad, where they take their chances on reaching shelter.Read more
Senator Marco Rubio explained foreign policy in Russia and Syria concisely during Wednesday's Republican Debate. Putin is "trying to replace us as the single most important power broker in the Middle East and this president is allowing it." Watch the full clip here:Read more
Radio host Hugh Hewitt interviewed Donald Trump Thursday and asked the Republican frontrunner some details on foreign policy. After Trump confused some terminology, he accused Hewitt of asking "gotcha questions."Read more
In May, President Barack Obama donned a yarmulke and spoke in a Washington, D.C., synagogue. He reminded his audience that Jeffrey Goldberg, a member of the congregation, once called him the “first Jewish president.” He claimed to be flattered by the characterization. And perhaps he was—most Jews, after all, voted for him for president, and many Jews of Obama’s acquaintance have sometimes seemed to care more about the well-being of Planned Parenthood than about the survival of the state of Israel.Read more
General Ray Odierno, the outgoing chief of staff of the Army, blamed President Obama's disengagement from Iraq for the country falling apart. He made the comments in an interview tonight on Fox News:
"Well, it's frustrating to watch it," Odierno said of the collapse of Iraq. "I think a lot of hard work into that. And we thought we had it going exactly in the right direction. But now we watch it fall apart--it's frustrating."Read more
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