The first lady of the United States will be sitting with a Syrian refugee at this week's State of the Union Address. The refugee's name is Refaai Hamo.
"Growing up in Syria, Refaai Hamo lived what seemed to be the kind of life associated with the American Dream – the son of a farmer and housewife, he worked construction at night to pay his way through college on his way to a PhD, married his college sweetheart and built a family together. This life and happiness changed forever when a Syrian government anti-personnel missile tore through the complex Refaai designed and where his family lived; in total seven of his family members died, including his wife and one daughter," the White House explains in an announcement.Read more
"Suddenly there was a hand on my bottom . . ." was the rather atypical headline that ran in Germany's ordinarily conservative daily newspaper Die Welt on January 4. It described a riot-like series of sexual assaults and robberies carried out on New Year's Eve in the center of Cologne on the Domplatz, the plaza between the city's train station and its world-famous cathedral. The assailants were mostly described as Arab-looking. Thus far 120 victims have filed criminal complaints, two of them for rape. Descriptions of the assaults have appeared in newspapers across Germany. The stories are varied and shocking. ("They made a kind of wall around us," one of two high-school girls surrounded by a gang of youthsRead more
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
"The United States and our partners are not seeking regime change in Syria," John Kerry said in Moscow this week. The announcement that the White House is fully in line with the position of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's Russian and Iranian sponsors caught some by surprise. Others argue that it's the second time the White House has failed to enforce a red line regarding Syria. Just like the president said it would change his calculus if Assad used chemical weapons, Obama said in August 2011 that Assad should step aside. However, when Obama didn't blink after Assad had slaughtered his first 100,000, White House policy was pretty clear.Read more
Should the United States militarily defeat jihadist outfits in the Middle East? After 9/11 the answer seemed easy, but after the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Barack Obama is not alone in arguing that large-scale offensive campaigns against radical Muslim movements aren't worth the cost. Even if the president's go-slow approach is actually more likely to provoke more terrorism, is it the sensible policy for America? And can Western governments actually defeat the Muslim radicals who live in the West and are a nightmare for domestic intelligence services to find, let alone stop? These questions are as much about Europe as the Middle East.Read more
The head of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, believes the Syrian refugees of today are like the European Jews of 1939. Wasserman Schultz made the claim in a conference call to explain how "out-of-touch" Republicans are with the Jewish community.
The DNC chair also called the war the U.S. is currently engaged in "the war on terror."
Here's an excerpt of Wasserman Schultz's remarks, as released by the DNC:
"For some, their version of Middle East foreign policy is pandering to our community about supporting Israel, without fully grasping the deep values and history that drive our relationship. But – if you can believe it – this new crowd is even worse than President Bush.Read 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
President Barack Obama is beginning to use tougher rhetoric when discussing ISIS. The leader of the free world, today at a press conference at the Ritz Carlton in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, vowed to destory ISIS and to take the land they are currently occupying.Read more
It is not for an economist to adjudicate between the president of the United States, who feels he is appealing to our better angels by asking our blessing for his plan to grant 10,000 refugees from the Syrian wars entry into our country, and his critics who fear that the wave might include immigrants coming not for refuge but to do us harm, not here to assimilate but to retain the customs and laws that have brought their homelands chaos and penury. The dispute, in short, is between Barack Obama who contends he is following a long-standing, humane American tradition of accepting the world’s tired, poor, huddled masses, and equally well-intentioned congressmen and governors who respond that he is ignoring his first obligation – to keep America and its citizens safe from harm. They add that it is inappropriate to argue that America must not repeat the moral error of turning away Jews who sought to escape Hitler’s death camps by turning away Syrians, among them some pledged to destroy the values fleeing Jews were attempting to come here to enjoy.Read more
The Islamic State executed a series of devastating attacks in Paris last Friday night. President Obama responded angrily by delivering some effective precision-guided strikes. At the Islamic terrorist organization that murdered 129 and wounded hundreds of others in Paris? Of course not; he calmly described this atrocity as a mere “setback” in his successful efforts to contain IS and vowed to bring those guys “to justice.” Instead, he directed his fusillade at Republicans, his favorite kinetic target.Read more
The Lexington Herald-Leader published an editorial cartoon Thursday mocking the Republican governor-elect Matt Bevin's position against allowing refugees from Syria to settle in Kentucky. The cartoon, drawn by Joel Pett, shows a cowering Bevin underneath his desk, while an aide points to the framed photos of four dark-skinned children on top.Read more
Walter Russell Mead has a terrific piece in the American Interest on "President Obama's Cynical Refugee Ploy."
To see the full cynicism of the Obama approach to the refugee issue, one has only to ask President Obama’s least favorite question: Why is there a Syrian refugee crisis in the first place?Read more
THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with Elliott Abrams, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, on President Obama's politically correct foreign policy.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
THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with Foundation for the Defense of Democracies Senior Fellow and frequent contributor Thomas Joscelyn on the fight against terrorism in the Middle East.Read more
The governor of Arkansas joined the governor of Alabama and others in saying that Syrian refugees can't come to his state. Governor Asa Hutchinson made the announcement this morning on Twitter.
"As Governor I will oppose Syrian refugees being relocated to Arkansas," said Hutchinson.
As Governor I will oppose Syrian refugees being relocated to Arkansas.Read more
Alabama governor Robert Bentley is refusing to allow Syrian refugees to relocate to Alabama.
“After full consideration of this weekend’s attacks of terror on innocent citizens in Paris, I will oppose any attempt to relocate Syrian refugees to Alabama through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. As your Governor, I will not stand complicit to a policy that places the citizens of Alabama in harm’s way,” Governor Bentley says in a statement released by his office.Read more
During the Democratic debate Saturday night, Hillary Clinton said that ISIS "cannot be contained, it must be defeated." She also said, not once but twice, that this "cannot be an American fight" (while adding, "although American leadership is essential").Read more
Since the terrorist attacks in Paris Friday that killed more than 120 people and injured hundreds more, world leaders from President Barack Obama to newly elected Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, and from U.K. prime minister David Cameron to German chancellor Angela Merkel, have expressed their solidarity with France. An exception is Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, who sees mass murder as an opportunity to say I told you so.Read more
During Saturday night's Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton was asked about bringing in Syrian refugees.
"I think that is the number one requirement. I also said that we should take increased numbers of refugees. The [Obama] administration originally said 10 [thousand]. I said we should go to 65 [thousand], but only if we have as careful a screening and vetting process as we can imagine, whatever resources it takes. I do not want us to in any way inadvertently allow people who wish us harm to come into our country."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
Last week, the Obama White House moved to ensure Hezbollah’s ability to point 100,000 missiles at Israel. That’s not how they would describe it, of course. But it was the Obama administration—as U.S. officials are quietly letting on—and not Russia that invited Iran to participate in talks in Vienna to resolve the Syrian civil war. By doing so, the White House legitimized the Islamic Republic as a “stakeholder” whose interests in Syria must be respected.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
Last week an Obama administration official bragged that the White House’s Syria policy is working out just as planned. Special envoy for Syria Michael Ratney said that the “Russians wouldn’t have to help [Bashar al-]Assad if we didn’t weaken him.”Read more
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