Thursday, October 22, 2015

Has Vladimir Putin shown Obama how to do it?

Democracy has always been a rare thing on the world scene.  The Athenian and Roman democracies did not last.  Its only lasting base of support has been in North-Western Europe and its derivative societies.  Even Southern Europe has a poor record of democracy.  I mention Mussolini in Italy, Franco in Spain, Salazar in Portugal the Colonels in Greece, Tito in Yugoslavia and Petain in France.  That's the whole of S. Europe and all those ruled at various times during the C20.  Contrast that with Iceland's Althing, a parliament with a continuous history going back over 1,000 years.  And we all know about King John and the Magna Carta of 1215.

So the idea that democracy should be encouraged everywhere is laudable but seems unrealistic.  It just has no roots in most of the world and certainly does not in the Middle East.  "Choose your dictator" seems to be the only choice in the M.E.  The current chaos in Iraq, the rest of the M.E. and North Africa is surely ample testimony to that.  Where one dictator is not promptly replaced by another, great chaos, not democracy, seems to result.

And American foreign policy used to recognize that.  Conservative Latin American dictators were routinely supported as a preferable alternative to a Communist insurgency. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt said about Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza—“He may be a bastard, but he's our bastard”.

But Obama's "fundamental transformation" of America includes ditching as much of America's traditional wisdom and values as possible and we now see the results.  America should have supported Assad in Syria but instead undermined him -- and offered nothing as a replacement other than pious hopes.  The world can therefore probably be grateful that Vladimir Vladomirovich has shown more sense.  Only his intervention seems likely to eliminate the totally foul Islamic State -- an outcome hoped for among people of goodwill worldwide

RUSSIA’S power play in Syria appears to be paying off with the superpower making inroads against Islamic State and other extremist groups, leaving its American rivals looking ineffective and highlighting US failures in the region.

When Russia decided to involve itself in the war in Syria, American officials accused it of “pouring gasoline on the fire” in Syria and being “unprofessional” for only giving the US an hour’s notice of its intention to launch air strikes.

But just weeks later, Russia’s provocative move seems to be paying off.

Professor Clive Williams of Macquarie University’s Centre for Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism told that Russia’s support had helped Syrian armed forces make advances in some contested areas and “clearly it has made a difference for them”.

Earlier this year, commentators were writing off the Syrian army and suggesting that the government’s days were numbered.

With Russian air support, Syrians have been able to hit back against Islamic State in central and north-western regions, in a war that has stretched out for four years under the US’s watch.

The US is opposed to the Syrian regime headed by brutal President Bashar al-Assad and has so far refused to help its troops, but Prof Williams said it was better for the Assad regime to be in power, than for the likely alternative of jihadist groups Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra to prevail.

“We know what Islamic State is capable of, they are obviously ruthless and clearly have an agenda to dominate other opposition groups,” he said.

He said Russia’s success highlighted the US’s lack of strategy.

“America doesn’t really have a strategy but Russia’s is clear cut,” he said, adding that Russia aimed to support Assad’s regime and its own strategic interests.

While the US’s aim was to support Iraq and counter Islamic State, Prof Williams said what it was doing “was not really making much of a difference on the ground”. This was partly because the US did not want to put American boots on the ground and was limited in what it could achieve through air strikes.

Iraqi forces backed by the US had corrupt leaders and were poorly motivated, and seemed to be militarily incapable of making advances against Islamic State.

“They rely mainly on the Kurds to do the ground fighting and they are really only interested in establishing their own state,” Prof Williams said.

Earlier this month, US President Barack Obama admitted that his efforts to help resolve the Syria crisis had so far failed, but defended his strategy and dismissed assertions that Russian President Vladimir Putin was now the dominant world leader.

But this week former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger argued in The Wall Street Journal that Russia’s military action was the latest symptom of the “disintegration of the American role in stabilising the Middle East order”.

He said the geopolitical alliances in the region were now in “shambles” and that four countries — Libya, Yemen, Syria and Iraq — had ceased to function.

“American policy has sought to straddle the motivations of all parties and is therefore on the verge of losing the ability to shape events,” Kissinger wrote.

“The US is now opposed to, or at odds in some way or another with, all parties in the region: with Egypt on human rights, with Saudi Arabia over Yemen, with each of the Syrian parties over different objectives.”

He said the US wanted to remove Assad but had been unwilling to generate effective political or military leverage to achieve that aim, or to put forward an alternative political structure to replace him. This had allowed Russia, Iran, Islamic State and other terrorist organisations to move into the vacuum.

Overall if you looked at American involvement in the Middle East since the 1990s, Prof Williams said: “it has all been pretty disastrous in terms of long term outcomes”.

He said that America’s best move to combat Islamic State could actually be to withdraw from the conflict and let regional countries sort out what is essentially a regional problem.



Israel Fights Terror and Moral Relativism

There are a number of insidious aspects that form the heart of progressive ideology. But none are more insidious than the Left’s love affair with moral relativism. And nowhere is that contemptibly bankrupt notion pursued with more vigor than the ongoing attempt to blame both sides in what is looking more and more like a Palestinian-incited third intifada taking shape in Israel.

Unsurprisingly, the latest campaign of murder, assaults and stabbings perpetrated by thugs and wannabe terrorists was engendered by a lie. “Arabs are convinced that Israel is set on destroying, desecrating or ‘Judaizing’ Haram al-Sharif, the Jerusalem compound that includes al-Aqsa, Islam’s third-holiest site,” explains New York Post columnist Benny Avni. “As [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas indelicately put it in a mid-September speech, the Jews are trying to ‘defile al-Aqsa with their filthy feet,’ and must be stopped.”

Thus, it doesn’t matter that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denied that assertion, banned both Arab and Jewish Israeli officials from visiting the site, and offered to meet with Abbas to defuse the violence. It doesn’t matter that Jewish officials have pointed out the same arrangement in place since 1967, giving the Jordanian Waqf (Islamic trust) de facto control of the site, remains intact.

Nor does it matter that Abbas, who continues to spread that rumor, has also been caught in another vicious lie. In a speech Wednesday, Abbas claimed Israelis “executed” an innocent 13-year-old boy, Ahmad Mansara, “in cold blood.” First, Mansara is hardly an innocent. He and his 15-year-old cousin were captured on video stabbing an Orthodox Jew and a Jewish child. The 13-year-old then attempted to attack two policemen and was shot. “I went there to stab Jews,” he told investigators about his crime spree. As for his “execution,” here is a picture of Mansara recovering from his wounds — in a Jewish hospital.

And it certainly doesn’t matter that during this latest terror campaign, Palestinian assailants have assaulted more than 50 Jews, killing eight. That includes 60-year-old Rabbi Yeshayahu Krishevsky, run over by a thug who drove his car into several people waiting at a bus stop and then emerged with a cleaver and hacked the man to death.

All that matters is the kind of fecklessness demonstrated by Secretary of State John Kerry, who insisted (before it was walked back) the latest murder campaign is due to a “massive increase in settlements over the course of the last years” (they are the same number with more population), or the equally disgusting comment by State Department spokesman Mark Toner, who stated the Obama administration was trying to “drive home the point that both sides need to take affirmative actions that reduce tensions.” He added, “I don’t think it’s necessarily saying that we’re blaming one side or another.”

Another State Department spokesman, John Kirby, upped the moral relativist ante. “Individuals on both sides of this divide are — have proven capable of, and in our view, are guilty of acts of terrorism,” he declared.

Both sides are equally at fault? Perhaps the conglomeration of moral cowards that inhabit the Obama administration can enlighten us regarding an Israeli effort that is “more or less” equal to the torching by Palestinians of the highly revered Joseph’s Tomb in the West Bank Thursday night, or a Palestinian diagram displayed by Israel’s UN Ambassador at the United Nations on Friday entitled, “How to stab a Jew.” Perhaps they could point to a Jewish campaign similar to Palestinian calls for a “Friday of revolution” aimed at precipitating additional violence.

Obama condemned the violence perpetrated against Israel, but couldn’t leave moral relativity out of the equation. “It’s important for both Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israeli elected officials and President Abbas and other people in positions of power to try to tamp down rhetoric that may feed violence or anger or misunderstanding,” he insisted.

Misunderstanding? What Obama ignores Netanyahu has clearly understood for decades. “The root cause of terrorism lies not in grievances but in a disposition toward unbridled violence,” he stated back in the ‘80s. “This can be traced to a worldview which asserts that certain ideological and religious goals justify, indeed demand, the shedding of all moral inhibitions.”

Shedding morality itself is also a staple of the left-wing media, led by The New York Times and its shameless attempt to question Jewish history regarding the location of the Temple Mount, insisting that certainty remains “elusive” — before adding a subsequent correction that stated the article does not “directly challenge Jewish claims to the Temple Mount.” Leftmedia behavior is best explained in one sentence by The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens: “In the Middle East version [of media-covered violence], a higher Palestinian death toll suggests greater Israeli culpability.” Stephens deftly sums up the current state of affairs, writing, “Today in Israel, Palestinians are in the midst of a campaign to knife Jews to death, one at a time. This is psychotic. It is evil. To call it anything less is to serve as an apologist, and an accomplice.”

Unfortunately, there is no shortage of morally equivocating accomplices in the Obama administration, the UN or all the other countries and media outlets that constitute “world opinion.” World opinion that reflexively blames Jews for having the temerity to defend themselves from people like Hamas, whose charter of existence calls for the extermination of the Jewish State, or Palestinians who broadcast TV shows in which cartoonish characters teach young Palestinian children to embrace Jew-hatred.

CNN, long a champion of moral equivalence, published a column on Friday by Yoav Schwartz, CEO of a Tel Aviv tech company. Schwartz, who took the hand-wringing approach to the current violence, noted that immediately after the Boston Marathon was bombed, the fear that gripped that city was similar to the way things felt in Israel this week. Yet he wondered what was in the hearts of the Tsarnaev brothers that drove them to that act, noting Israelis ask the same questions. He then descended into the mindless drivel that drives the moral relativists. “We have to believe there is a solution,” he writes. “But as time marches on, it gets harder to accept, so I have to ask my Palestinian brothers and sisters, what’s really in your heart, 1948 or 1967?”

Schwartz and CNN got the answer less than 24 hours later. Five more knife attacks occurred Saturday, praised by Hamas. On Sunday, an Israeli policeman was killed and 10 others wounded when a man opened fire at a bus station. In the meantime, so-called human rights organization like Amnesty International and the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories insisted police and soldiers are “too quick to shoot to kill.” They also criticized the idea that Israelis should carry weapons to protect themselves.

Ever since 9/11, the American Left has been determined to figure out why terrorists hate us, even as leftists remain utterly blind to the most obvious answer: Terrorists hate us because evil exists, and they are animated by that evil. And those who embrace moral relativism embrace cultural suicide, be it in in Israel, Europe — or the United States.



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