How the Obama Administration Turned its Back on South Sudan – The Country George W. Bush Helped CreatePosted: February 26, 2015
Unmade in the USA
Less than three years after independence, South Sudan collapsed into bloody civil war. Could the United States, a crucial backer of the young African state, have prevented the violence?
To the outside world, the reference might have seemed cryptic. But in South Sudan, the message was crystal clear: 1991 was the year Machar broke away from the main southern guerilla movement, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), that was fighting against the Sudanese government in Khartoum. The move nearly brought about the SPLA’s demise. Now, Machar was again estranged from the flock and about to mount a new rebellion from the bush. By linking the two events, Kiir was invoking an old and powerful grudge. “It was not in the spirit of reconciliation,” Lam Akol, who led the breakaway SPLA faction with Machar in 1991 and later served as Sudan’s foreign minister, told me. “It was a declaration of war.”
“When South Sudan finally hoisted its own flag in Juba on July 9th, 2011, someone waved a sign that read ‘Thank you George Bush’.”
During and after Kiir’s press conference, forces loyal to the president rounded up and executed hundreds of male Nuers, the ethnic group to which Machar belongs. The soldiers reportedly identified the men by asking their names in Dinka, the language of Kiir’s ethnic group; inability to answer could be a death sentence. In one neighborhood, according to Human Rights Watch, between 200 and 300 men were detained in a building used by police and then murdered by gunmen, alleged to be members of the South Sudanese armed forces, who fired on the prisoners through windows.
Machar denied the coup allegation, but as Juba descended deeper into violence, he quickly took up arms against the government. Soon, blood was flowing across the northeastern portion of the country: in Bor, the capital of restive Jonglei state, and then in Bentiu and Malakal, two major cities in the heart of South Sudan’s oil country. Reports of war crimes committed by both sides followed.
Over the next year, somewhere between 10,000 and 50,000 people would be killed and another 2 million forced to flee their homes. Farmers missed their planting season, and aid agencies warned of an impending famine. According to the United Nations, the humanitarian crisis created by South Sudan’s civil war is now on par with those in Syria, Iraq, and the Central African Republic. “I never thought I’d see the day when people would be fleeing to Darfur,” Toby Lanzer, the top U.N. aid official in South Sudan, told me in August. “But that’s the situation we’re in.”
“These tensions have come to the fore in the Obama era. Unlike Bush, who one senior White House official told me ‘could have been the desk officer’ because he was so engaged on southern Sudan, Obama has preferred to leave details to his staffers, who have not always seen eye to eye with one another.”
A few days after my meeting with Lanzer, I boarded a U.N. plane in Juba packed with peacekeepers and other humanitarians and flew several hundred miles north over swampland and jungle to Malakal, roughly tracing the path of the violence that had exploded across the country. Control of the city had changed hands between the government and Machar’s rebels six times in nine months, and some of the worst atrocities of the civil war had been committed there. The last time rebels overran the city, they burned so much of it that satellite imagery revealed charcoal smudges where whole neighborhoods once stood. Now, the government was back in charge, and it was flooding troops and equipment in ahead of the dry season, when fighting in South Sudan has historically taken place. Rumors abounded of an impending rebel attack.
After a brief stop at the U.N. base near Malakal, where roughly 20,000 civilians were waiting out the violence in overcrowded displacement camps, I caught a ride with UNICEF employees down the rutted dirt track to what used to be South Sudan’s second-largest city. The closer we got, the fewer civilians there were. In the center of town, where abandoned market stalls sat bleakly on patches of scorched earth, the only humans in evidence were government soldiers, most of them carrying AK-47s. When we passed the sagging bungalow that used to serve as UNICEF’s living quarters, half a dozen armed men grinned out at us. Like most structures that hadn’t been destroyed, the building was occupied by the South Sudanese army.
We drove past looted warehouses, shelled government buildings, and rows of thatched huts that had been put to the torch. Not far from the obliterated central market, the ruins of a teaching hospital spilled out into the street: smashed vials, soiled bandages, and now-useless medical equipment. In February 2014, at least 14 people were murdered there when rebels swept into Malakal. The day before our arrival, I was told, staff members discovered a body rotting on the roof of one of the hospital’s annex buildings. While we toured a gutted pediatric complex across the street, I nearly stepped on a skull that was hidden in the grass.
Slogging through what was left of Malakal, it was difficult to imagine that South Sudan was once considered a major U.S. foreign-policy success. Over a span of nearly two decades, three different U.S. administrations worked to bring the new nation into being. Bill Clinton was the first to signal support for the southern separatists battling Khartoum in the Second Sudanese Civil War, which lasted more than 20 years and left an estimated 2 million people dead; his administration unlocked military support for neighboring countries that was then funneled covertly across borders. George W. Bush later made Southern Sudan a centerpiece of his foreign policy, helping broker a landmark north-south peace deal in 2005 that ended the civil war and paved the way for southern independence. The Obama administration carried the ball across the goal line, ensuring that an independence referendum went ahead as planned in early 2011 and pouring hundreds of millions of dollars in development aid into the new country.
When South Sudan finally hoisted its own flag in Juba on July 9, 2011, a delegation of Bush and Obama administration officials was in attendance. In the crowd, the New York Times reported, someone waved a sign that read, “Thank You George Bush.”
Now that South Sudan has imploded in spectacular fashion, however, it offers a case study in the limits of American power: Not only have its tremendous state-building efforts failed to bear fruit, but the U.S. government now finds itself with virtually no ability to shape events on the ground. “We’re at an all-time low in terms of influence,” said Cameron Hudson, who worked on South Sudan policy in both the Bush and Obama administrations.
“There are those who feel that Obama saw little benefit from engaging with the young and troubled nation. Certainly, they say, he did not share the same political incentives as Bush, whose evangelical base championed the southern cause.”
To be sure, the new nation faced long odds. At independence, it had virtually no civil institutions, about 120 doctors for a population of roughly 9 million, and a total of 35 miles of paved roads spanning a territory the size of France. It was also landlocked, ethnically diverse, and entirely dependent on oil revenue. In other words, it faced every major challenge identified by social scientists as a predictor of state failure.
Yet there are American officials who have worked closely on Sudan and South Sudan policy who still feel the situation could have played out differently, and that brutal war could have been avoided. The story of how the South Sudan project came unhinged — pieced together over six months from more than two dozen interviews with current and former U.S., U.N., and South Sudanese officials — is one of extraordinary challenges faced down and enormous errors made by leaders in Juba. It is also the story of how tensions between and within U.S. administrations alienated the South Sudanese government, reduced American leverage, and blinded U.S. officials to warning signs that the new nation’s ruling party was breaking apart.
“The cumulative effect of all these factors was that the United States began to distance itself from South Sudan at a time when the young nation, long supported by Washington, was arguably at its most vulnerable.”
These tensions have come to the fore in the Obama era. Unlike Bush, who one senior White House official told me “could have been the desk officer” because he was so engaged on southern Sudan, Obama has preferred to leave details to his staffers, who have not always seen eye to eye with one another. Key administration posts, including the special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, ambassador to South Sudan, and assistant secretary of state for African affairs, have remained vacant for extended periods during his presidency. “Through the crucial part of the time that the relationship between [South Sudanese] factions deteriorated, the U.S. had nobody in office,” said John Prendergast, a former Clinton administration official who co-founded the Washington-based Enough Project, a group that works to end genocide around the world.
There are those who feel that Obama saw little benefit from engaging with the young and troubled nation. Certainly, they say, he did not share the same political incentives as Bush, whose evangelical base championed the southern cause. (The people in the north — present-day Sudan — are generally Arab and Muslim, while the southern population is mostly African and either Christian or animist.) But if ideology and politics mattered, so did personality: Due to a fateful meeting at the United Nations in 2011, at which Kiir reportedly lied to the U.S. president about military action along his country’s northern border, Obama’s relationship with the South Sudanese president was “poisoned from the start,” according to Princeton Lyman, who served as the special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan from 2011 to 2012.
“We have a community organizer dealing with a commando; they’re not on the same wavelength. There’s a kind of culture clash between this administration and the administration of a country that lives in a dangerous neighborhood.”
Will said the Obama administration….(read more)
Originally posted on TIME:
(BOSTON) — A federal judge has qualified enough prospective jurors in the trial of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (joh-HAHR’ tsahr-NEYE’-ehv) to move on to the final stage of jury selection and opening statements next week.
A court official says the process of identifying a sufficient number of qualified jurors was completed Wednesday. Next week, prosecutors and Tsarnaev’s lawyers will be allowed to eliminate 23 jurors each for strategic reasons. A final panel of 12 jurors and six alternates will then be seated for the trial.
Opening statements from both sides are expected on March 4. Testimony will begin immediately after opening statements.
Tsarnaev is charged in the 2013 attack that killed three people and injured more than 260. He faces the possibility of the death penalty if convicted.
Jury selection began Jan. 5.
NEW YORK — The FBI has arrested three men who allegedly attempted to fly from New York to Turkey in hopes of eventually joining ISIS in Syria, according to a complaint unsealed in Brooklyn federal court Wednesday.
The suspects — identified as Abdurasul Jaraboev, 24; Akhror Saidakhmetov, 19; and Abror Habibov, 30 — face charges that include providing material support for terrorists, authorities said.
The men allegedly discussed staging attacks in the United States, according to court papers. Read the rest of this entry »
On Tuesday’s Special Report, Charles Krauthammer said the United States’ ongoing negotiations with Iran are misguided and make President Obama’s other foreign policy blunders look favorable by comparison.
“It is an unbelievably bad deal. It makes the Cuba deal look like a really good bargain.”
“This [deal] will mean a lifting of the sanctions, so Iran will be with a very strong economy, undeterred, nothing in any way holding it back; it’s simply catastrophic…”(read more)
Charlie Hebdo resumes regular publication after attack
Muslim Boy Writes on Mosul Wall — At Great Personal Risk: ‘My Christian Brothers, You Shall Return to Your Churches’Posted: February 24, 2015
An increasing number of French Jews are turning to Marine Le Pen’s Front National, despite the party’s past reputation for anti-Semitism, as they now see Muslims as a bigger threat.
Roger Cukierman, the Chairman of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions, said the party was no longer violent and that its current leader had never used anti-Semitic language, The Times reports.
The statement comes as at least 14 percent of France’s half a million Jews look set to support Mrs Le Pen in the country’s Presidential elections in 2017.
“Many Jews now see second and third generation Muslim immigrants, rather than the far-right, as the biggest threat to their community’s safety.”
The feisty blonde daughter of Jean-Marie has been consistently rising in national polling, but has seen a surge of support following the Charlie Hebdo and kosher supermarket terrorist attacks earlier this year which left 20 dead.
Many Jews now see second and third generation Muslim immigrants, rather than the far-right, as the biggest threat to their community’s safety.
“The National Front is a party for which I would never vote but it’s a party which today doesn’t commit violent acts. Let’s be clear: all the violence [against Jews] is now committed by young Muslims,” Mr Cukierman said.
His comments sparked a row among French Jews, some of whom see the Le Pen family as political descendants of the Vichy regime which collaborated with the Nazis following the occupation in 1940.
Serge Klarsfeld, the celebrated French Nazi-hunter, whose father was among the 75,000 Jews deported from France to the death camps in the East, remains sceptical of the party.
Radical Islamists may soon gain a foothold on the Mediterranean. The U.S. Navy must be ready
Mr. Cropsey, the director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for American Seapower, served as a naval officer and as deputy undersecretary of the Navy in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
Seth Cropsey writes: The slaughter of 21 Egyptian Christians by Islamic State militants on Feb. 15 took place on the Libyan shore of the Mediterranean. Former Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan recently told the Times of London that unless order is restored in his country, ISIS will secure territory on Libya’s Mediterranean coast within two months. This would increase its potential for attacks in Italy, Greece and elsewhere in Europe. An October ISIS publication pictured St. Peter’s Square under a black flag, and ISIS’s sentiments about Christians are clear.
Greater ISIS access to the Mediterranean would be deeply troubling to the region and a large strategic advance for the terrorist group. ISIS’s prospects for significant naval power are remote. But small boats, fishing vessels, smugglers, and merchant craft that carry concealed weapons could hijack, sink, or rake commercial shipping including cruise liners in the central Mediterranean. This would divide the eastern part of the inland sea from its west and expose Europe’s southern littoral to attacks and kidnappings.
Tehran today wields considerable power over two landlocked capitals of the region, Baghdad and Damascus. Its sea control is more expansive. Besides Iran’s border on the Persian Gulf it is now the major power in Beirut on the Mediterranean and San’a, the capital of Yemen, on the Bab El-Mandeb, the narrow strait that sits astride the southern gateway to and from the Suez Canal.
Turkish naval combatants’ current incursion in the Eastern Mediterranean—to escort a natural gas exploration vessel operating without permission in Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone—has ended the stability that existed in the region since the Cold War standoff between U.S. and Soviet naval forces. And in 2013 Russian President Vladimir Putin announced plans to establish a permanent squadron in the Mediterranean. Read the rest of this entry »
Sources say at least 90 have been abducted – mainly women and children. Up to 3,000 people are said to have been ‘displaced’ as a result of the raid
The abductions are said to have taken place after ISIS seized two Assyrian villages from Kurdish forces in the northeast province of Hassakeh.
Dawn raids are reported to have happened on Monday in villages inhabited by the ancient Christian minority near the town of Tel Hmar, a mainly Assyrian town, in the western countryside of the city.
The kidnappings were revealed by the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The latest offensive coincides with a push by Syrian Kurds in northeastern Syria near the Iraqi border since Sunday that had compounded losses for the militant group in Syria.
Sources are reported to have told the human rights watchdog that jihadists swooped to abduct dozens of civilians from the village of Tal Shamiram.
Initial reports put the figure at 56 – but others said the number was much higher.
The International Business Times quoted Nuri Kino, founder of A Demand for Action (ADFA), as saying the Syrian villages had been attacked at 5am with 3,000 people ‘displaced’. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo/AFP Norwegian Muslims create a human peace ring around the synagogue in Oslo, Norway on February 21, 2015. More than a 1,000 joined a peace vigil in Oslo Saturday, hosted by young Norwegian Muslims in a show of solidarity with Jews a week after fatal shootings in Denmark targeted a synagogue and free speech seminar.
“We want to show our support to the Jews after what happened in Copenhagen.”
As the small mainly elderly Jewish congregation filed out of the synagogue after Shabbat prayers, a group of young Muslims, many of them teenage girls wearing headscarves, formed a symbolic ring outside the building to roaring applause from a crowd of more than 1,000 people.
“This is the best possible response we can give to the polarisation we’ve seen in debates after the attacks in France and Denmark.”
“This shows that there are many more peacemakers than war-makers,” 37-year-old Zeeshan Abdullah, one of the organisers told the crowd.
“There is still hope for humanity, for peace and love across religious differences and background,” he added, before a traditional Shabbat ceremony was held in the open air with many demonstrators adding their voices to the Hebrew chants.
Norway’s chief rabbi appeared visibly moved when he said it was the first time the ceremony had taken place outdoors with so many people.
“It is unique that Muslims stand to this degree against anti-Semitism and that fills us with hope… particularly as it’s a grassroots movement of young Muslims,” said Norway’s Jewish community leader Ervin Kohn, adding that the rest of the world should “look to Norway”.
“Working against fear alone is difficult and it is good that we are so many here together today.”
There was a heavy police presence at the event and sharp shooters placed on surrounding buildings but no incidents were reported. Read the rest of this entry »
Random Violence, Legitimate Grievances, and High Horses: ISIS Burned Up To 40 People Alive, Says Iraqi OfficialPosted: February 21, 2015
Anbar provincial council chairman Sabah Karkhout said he was advised by his field commanders near the al-Baghdadi front line that ISIS militants killed at least 40 police officers and tribesman, and that most of the victims were “burned to death.”
ISIS seized control of most of the town last week. It’s just nine miles north of the Ayn al-Asad airbase, where some 400 U.S. military personnel are stationed to train Iraqi pilots in the fight against ISIS.
CNN cannot independently confirm that the people were burned to death.
Don’t get on your high horse people. http://t.co/67xtTRgMO9
— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahNRO) February 21, 2015
Iraqi Security Forces have given accounts in situation reports obtained by CNN that speak of Iraqi forces and tribesmen killed by ISIS, but it was not clear whether their bodies burned before or after their deaths.
ISIS has not published any images of the reported killings as they have frequently done in the past.
At a news briefing Wednesday, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said he’d heard about the reported killings, adding that the United States had purported images of the incident that were being analyzed. Read the rest of this entry »
Not Exactly Like Going To Summer Camp
“Fighters include people not only picking up a gun, but also going to support Islamists, in some way, including young women who have been attracted to the fight for various reasons and in some cases children.”
The three school friends from East London’s Bethnal Green, ages 15 to 16, left their homes before 8:00 a.m. local time Tuesday and met at Gatwick airport in London where they boarded a Turkish Airlines flight, according to a policenews release.
“We are reaching out to the girls using the Turkish media and social media, in the hope that they hear our messages, hear our concerns for their safety and have the courage to return now, back to their families who are so worried about them.”
– Britain’s Counter-Terrorism Commander Richard Walton
Should the girls see news reports about themselves, Walton said he hopes they’ll listen to such a “direct appeal.”
“Clearly if these three girls travel to Syria, they’re in grave danger,” he said. “We are aware as many people of the treatment of girls and women currently in that part of Syria. You know the prospect is not good and we want to prevent them from getting there.”
“Clearly if these three girls travel to Syria, they’re in grave danger. We are aware as many people of the treatment of girls and women currently in that part of Syria. You know the prospect is not good and we want to prevent them from getting there.”
Statements attributed to one major terror group in the region, ISIS, purportedly described the way its fighters treat women -– from buying and selling young girls as slaves to justifying rape of “non-believers.”
The U.S Senior Adviser for Foreign Fighters, Ambassador Thomas Krajeski, said during a news briefing today that young girls traveling to Syria and Iraqwere being considered as problematic as those traveling to fight.
“Fighters include people not only picking up a gun, but also going to support Islamists, in some way, including young women who have been attracted to the fight for various reasons and in some cases children,” he said, adding the prospect of fighters returning to their home countries to conduct attacks is of “great concern.” Read the rest of this entry »
Neil Munro writes: President Barack Obama says 300 million Americans must accept a fractured and diverse America if they want to defeat Muslim terrorists.
“If extremists are peddling the notion that Western countries are hostile to Muslims, then we need to show that we welcome people of all faiths,” he said Wednesday, while quoting a letter he said he received from an 11-year-old Muslim girl living in the U.S.
“Since his inauguration in 2009, Obama has strenuously defended Islam from criticism, and justified his concessions to Muslim advocacy groups in the United States as vital to persuade immigrant Muslims from implementing the Koran’s repeated calls for warfare against non-Muslims.”
The Muslim girl “is our hope … [and] our future,” he said, without mentioning the roughly 4 million Americans who are born each year.
“We discredit violent ideologies, by making sure her voice is lifted up; making sure she’s nurtured; making sure that she’s supported … [by] us staying true to our values as a diverse and tolerant society even when we’re threatened, especially when we’re threatened,” he said.
“Obama, like many other progressives, supports government-imposed social variety, dubbed diversity, because it breaks up evolved social practices, such as live-and-let-live federalism, self-reliant independence from government, Christian social norms and solidarity, child-focused marriage, and traditional norms of sexual caution.”
When Muslims are “succeeding and thriving” in the United States, “it reminds us all that hatred and bigotry and prejudice have no place in our country,” he told his audience of administration officials, Islamic advocates and foreign officials gathered at the White House for a conference on “Countering Violent Extremism.”
— jimgeraghty (@jimgeraghty) February 19, 2015
Obama, like many other progressives, supports government-imposed social variety, dubbed diversity, because it breaks up evolved social practices, such as live-and-let-live federalism, self-reliant independence from government, Christian social norms and solidarity, child-focused marriage, and traditional norms of sexual caution.
The imposed variety boosts social conflict, and reduces informal, non-government civic cooperation, according to a huge study of diversity’s impact on 30,000 people, by a Harvard professor, Robert Putnam.
American support for diversity is needed to refute jihadi claims that Americans mistreat Muslims, Obama said. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Obama’s Poker Skillz: Bad Bet? Double Down! President Barack Obama Doubles Down on Bizarre Refusal to Call Islamic Terrorists Islamic TerroristsPosted: February 19, 2015
Holding a Losing Hand, The President Goes All In
President Barack Obama affirmed on Wednesday his administration’s belief that the religion of violent extremists savaging Iraq and Syria is not relevant and should not matter.
There is ‘no one profile of a violent extremist or terrorist,’ Obama said at the White House’s summit on counter-terror measures. ‘There is no way to predict who will come radicalized.’
‘We are not at war with Islam,’ Obama asserted. ‘We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.’
The White House on Wednesday was blitzed by reporters demanding to know when it believes that religion is meaningful in violent attacks.
The Obama administration has been loathe to refer to ISIS as ‘Islamic radicals,’ arguing that the terrorist group’s religion doesn’t matter.
Furthermore, it has at times failed to mention the religion of victims of barbaric assaults while at other times featuring it front and center.
As foreign officials descended on Washington for the White House summit taking place next door, new life was given to the controversy and it threatened to overshadow the administration’s confab.
A statement sent to reporters on Sunday evening in which White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest condemned the ‘despicable and cowardly murder of twenty-one Egyptian citizens in Libya by ISIL-affiliated terrorists’ jump started the debate.
Notably, Earnest did not mention that the 21 Egyptians were Christians and were killed by terrorist because of their faith.
But two days before, after three, Muslim students were murdered in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, reportedly over an altercation involving a parking space, Obama said in a statement, ‘No one in the United States of America should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship.’
The statement implied that the students’ religion and the assault were linked, even though local authorities had not yet come to that conclusion.
At Wednesday’s press briefing Fox News correspondent Ed Henry implored Earnest to explain why he did not say in his statement that the slaughtered Egyptians were also Christians and asked if the White House doesn’t believe that information is ‘relevant’ to the crime.
‘It sure is,’ Earnest replied, ‘because the ISIL extremists who carried out this attack indicated that the reason that they were killing them, wasn’t just because they were Egyptian, but also because they were Christian.’
Then why not say that? pressed Henry.
‘I can’t account for that specific line in the statement,’ Earnest said, but we’ve been clear ‘that we condemn the outrageous murder of these Egyptian citizens because of their Christian faith.’
He pointed to an op-ed from the president that ran in the Los Angeles Times today as proof of the administration’s position.
In it Obama specifically states that ‘the terrorist group we call ISIL has slaughtered innocent civilians and murdered hostages, including Americans, and has spread its barbarism to Libya with the murder of Egyptian Christians.’
But why, Henry asked, did the White House feel it was necessary to immediately invoke religion when it came to the Muslim students even though the case is still under investigation.
The White House has a principle, Earnest said that ‘regardless of the faith of the individual in question, that people should not be targeted because of their religion, and what they look like or what their last name is or how they worship.’
Obama said that last Friday, Earnest said, to articulate its own believes – and one the White House believes ‘the vast majority of Americans should be able to support.’
“It just seems like you’re tiptoeing through the tulips here.”
– CNN’s Jim Acosta
‘I think we’ve been very clear about what we call it and why we approach it in this way,’ he said before moving on.
Obama’s spokesman was forced to revisit the topic of radical Islamism several times throughout the briefing, with CNN’s Jim Acosta at one point saying to him, ‘It just seems like you’re tiptoeing through the tulips here’ during a back and forth about the religious undertones of the White House’s counterterrorism summit. Read the rest of this entry »
Obama’s Brutal Foreign Policy
The Democratic left’s worldview was defined forever by the Vietnam War. LBJ’s budget got caught between guns for Vietnam and butter for the Great Society. Barack Obama is refusing to be trapped by this dilemma. The Obama legacy will be about butter…
We have reached that point. They are not enough.
In just the past few weeks, the following events have happened. They are a blur of chaos and brutality.
Islamic State videotaped its beheading of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya and Egypt’s bombed Islamic State camps in retaliation. An ISIS sympathizer sprayed bullets into a free-speech meeting in Copenhagen. A 4,000-man army post in Yemen was overrun by fighters from al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula. Russian-supported rebels in Ukraine commenced an artillery barrage on Kiev’s forces inside the city of Debaltseve after the grand cease-fire brokered by Germany and France.
Jordan’s King Abdullah asked the U.S. to send aircraft parts and munitions after ISIS immolated a caged Jordanian pilot. Nigeria’s homicidal Islamic jihadist group, Boko Haram, extended its assaults into Niger and Chad. Both Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi separately called on the United Nations, of all things, to organize a coalition to clean up Libya. A Jewish cemetery in France was smashed to pieces.
The reaction of the U.S. government to all this?
The White House this week assembled a “summit” on “countering violent extremism,” where on Wednesday Mr. Obama restated the difference between Islam and the perversion of Islam.
Ukraine’s embattled army, encircled in the strategic railway city of Debaltseve by rebels using Russian artillery and tanks, desperately needed defensive military equipment from the U.S. They didn’t get it. On Tuesday Vladimir Putin said they should surrender. On Wednesday, hours before Mr. Obama spoke to the extremism summit, they gave up.
“Before I go through the elements of this strategy, I want to note how our approach may differ from what others may recommend. We believe in the importance of economic growth, but we insist upon investing in the foundations of American power: education and health care; clean energy and basic research.”
– National Security Adviser Susan Rice
Islamic State’s videotaped barbarism expands, but the U.S. commitment against them in Iraq and Syria will not move beyond limited airstrikes.
Nigeria, like Libya and Iraq, is a nation of vast oil revenue for whoever controls it. Nigeria’s chance of getting support from the Obama administration before it falls into chaos is zero, no matter how many girls Boko Haram kidnaps.
“Leftist realpolitik—melting guns so it can churn more butter—may survive a pullout from the world in normal times. But it’s not going to hold for the next two years, not at this pace, not with Islam’s jihadists using social media to make all of us party to the de-civilizing of the world.”
It is a mistake to think that Mr. Obama’s passivity or indecision are sufficient explanation. What is on offer here is the American left’s version of realpolitik. The decision by the Obama White House not to deploy American resources is thought-out, brutal and unapologetic.
“Eventually Barack Obama will be forced to act, or his presidency will erode politically, taking many Democrats with him.”
President Obama in his Feb. 6 national-security statement explained what he is doing—or not doing. He was precise and clear:
“We have to make hard choices among many competing priorities and we must always resist the overreach that comes when we make decisions based upon fear.”
Short version: He’s not spending real money on any of this. Get over it. Read the rest of this entry »
President Obama opened this week’s White House Conference on Violent Extremism with a speech about community-based counter-radicalization efforts, and his Administration is being roundly mocked for its refusal to use terms like “Muslim terrorism” or “Islamism.” The mockery is deserved. Foreign policy is not a Harry Potter tale of good versus He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. And war cannot be won against an enemy we refuse to describe except in meaningless generalities.
“Their version of jihad is gaining adherents precisely because it is motivated by an idea that challenges the values and beliefs of moderate Islam, the West and modernity. The free and non-fanatic world won’t win this deeper struggle if the Obama Administration refuses even to acknowledge its nature.”
But there is a deeper problem with the Administration’s semantic dodges. Al Qaeda, Islamic State, Boko Haram and other jihadist groups are waging more than a military conflict. They are also waging an increasingly successful ideological war for the soul of Islam and its 1.6 billion followers.
“Qutb argued that humans can choose only between Islam and jahilyya….No middle ground exists…All Muslims—as he defined them—therefore must take up arms in this fight. Any Muslim who rejects his ideas is just one more nonbeliever worthy of destruction.”
Their version of jihad is gaining adherents precisely because it is motivated by an idea that challenges the values and beliefs of moderate Islam, the West and modernity. The free and non-fanatic world won’t win this deeper struggle if the Obama Administration refuses even to acknowledge its nature.
[Also see – What Isis Really Wants — The Atlantic]
“Communist ideology lost its appeal when it was seen to fail against the prosperity and freedom of the West. Islamic State will lose its allure when it is defeated and humiliated in the arena it cares about most, which is the battlefield.”
The 9/11 Commission Report put this front and center. Its second chapter, “The Foundation of the New Terrorism,” traces what it calls “ Bin Ladin ’s Appeal in the Islamic World.” It discusses the late al Qaeda leader’s faith in “a return to observance of the literal teachings of the Qur’an and the Hadith.” It underscores bin Laden’s reliance on Muslim theologians, from Ibn Taimiyyah in the 14th century to Sayyid Qutb in the 20th. And it explains how bin Laden turned Islam into a licence for murder. Read the rest of this entry »