Antoine Audo writes: Today, the first Sunday of Lent, will see churches crowded across the globe. But here in Syria, where St Paul found his faith, many churches stand empty, targets for bombardment and desecration. Aleppo, where I have been bishop for 25 years, is devastated. We have become accustomed to the daily dose of death and destruction, but living in such uncertainty and fear exhausts the body and the mind.
“It is dangerous work. Five months ago, two rockets hit our offices, and it was truly a miracle that no one was killed.”
We hear the thunder of bombs and the rattle of gunfire, but we don’t always know what is happening. It’s hard to describe how chaotic, terrifying and psychologically difficult it is when you have no idea what will happen next, or where the next rocket will fall. Many Christians cope with the tension by being fatalistic: that whatever happens is God’s will.
Until the war began, Syria was one of the last remaining strongholds for Christianity in the Middle East. We have 45 churches in Aleppo. But now our faith is under mortal threat, in danger of being driven into extinction, the same pattern we have seen in neighbouring Iraq.
“…I have to be careful walking around the city because of the risk of snipers and kidnapping.”
Most Christians who could afford to leave Aleppo have already fled for Lebanon, so as to find schools for their children. Those who remain are mostly from poor families. Many can no longer put food on the table. Last year, even amid intense fighting, you could see people in the streets running around endlessly trying to find bread in one of the shops. Read the rest of this entry »
Breitbart.com reports: At the same time the US State Department is relaxing entry requirements to visa applicants with Islamist terrorist connections, and reassuring President Putin of Russia that any sanctions against travel to the US placed upon those responsible for Russia’s invasion Ukraine will be limited to no more than a “few dozen” named individuals, it is dramatically increasing its rejection rate of Israelis seeking visas to visit the US.
While the State Department denies it, Israeli officials now suspect their country is being deliberately sanctioned as part of an unannounced administration policy to punish the Jewish state. This week their fears were publicly shared by none other than administration ally NY Senator Charles Schumer, who, in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, demanded an end to the “State Department policy of categorically denying young Israelis tourist visas that makes it nearly impossible for any young Israeli to visit the U.S.”
For The Weekly Standard, Stephen F. Hayes writes: On February 23, five days before Russia invaded Ukraine, National Security Adviser Susan Rice appeared on Meet the Press and shrugged off suggestions that Russia was preparing any kind of military intervention: “It’s in nobody’s interest to see violence returned and the situation escalate.” A return to a “Cold War construct” isn’t necessary, Rice insisted, because such thinking “is long out of date” and “doesn’t reflect the realities of the 21st century.” Even if Vladimir Putin sees the world this way, Rice argued, it is “not in the United States’ interests” to do so.
On February 28, Russian troops poured into Ukraine. As they did, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, his Russian counterpart. Kerry briefed reporters after their talk, plainly unaware of the developments on the ground. Kerry said that Russia wants to help Ukraine with its economic problems. Lavrov had told him “that they are prepared to be engaged and be involved in helping to deal with the economic transition that needs to take place at this point.”It was a remarkably transparent case of pretending the world is what we wish it to be, rather than seeing it as it is.
Hours later, television screens across the world displayed images of Russian soldiers infiltrating Crimea and Russian artillery rolling through Sevastopol. Obama administration officials told CNN’s Barbara Starr that the incursion was not “an invasion” but an “uncontested arrival” and that this distinction was “key” to understanding the new developments. Read the rest of this entry »
Getting the Cold War wrong since 1983
For NRO, Jonah Goldberg writes: Things are moving far too fast in Kiev, Moscow, and Crimea to write about events there. But the past isn’t going anywhere. Though you wouldn’t know that from the way the Obama administration talks about it.
Throughout this crisis — indeed, throughout all of Barack Obama’s presidency — the White House has been eager to insist that our long, unpleasant history with the Russians is behind us.
“…the truth is Obama’s hostility to Romney’s policies had little to do with their being outdated. Obama didn’t like America’s Cold War policies during the Cold War.”
Obviously, every administration wants a fresh start with long-time rivals. That’s why there have been four “resets” with the Russians since 1991, including George W. Bush’s famous soul-searching gaze into Vladimir Putin’s eyes and Hillary Clinton’s comic effort to give the Russians a “reset” button (that actually said “overcharge” on it).
Fresh starts are fine. But when Obama came into office, his administration implicitly blamed our poor relationship with Russia on Bush, as if Russia’s misdeeds were provoked by America.
Diplomatic Trash Talkin’ Quote of the Week
Since we’re often reminded by his admirers in academia, the media, and entertainment industry that President Obama is the most brilliant, analytical, nuanced, intellectually-gifted American President in history, we can only conclude that Masoud Jazayeri is a racist.
For The Times of Israel, Marissa Newman writes: President Barack Obama is a “low-IQ US president,” whose threat to launch a military offensive should nuclear talks fail is an oft-cited punchline in the Islamic Republic, particularly among children, an Iranian general said on Tuesday.
“The low-IQ US president and his country’s Secretary of State John Kerry speak of the effectiveness of ‘the US options on the table’ on Iran while this phrase is mocked at and has become a joke among the Iranian nation, especially the children…”
– General Masoud Jazayeri
Jazayeri was responding to the US president’s interview in Bloomberg on Sunday, in which Obama maintained that the Iranian leadership should take his “all options on the table” stance — including the warning of a potential military strike — seriously.
“…completely inexpert remarks far from the reality, and these statements can be used as the joke of the year.”
“We have a high degree of confidence that when they look at 35,000 US military personnel in the region that are engaged in constant training exercises under the direction of a president who already has shown himself willing to take military action in the past, that they should take my statements seriously,” the president told Bloomberg.
Jazayeri called Obama’s statements regarding the deployment of US troops “completely inexpert remarks far from the reality, and these statements can be used as the joke of the year.”
The Iranian news agency Tuesday published a political cartoon mocking the US president, calling it: “All Options on Table.” This Time for Russia.” In a jab at US non-intervention in Ukraine, the cartoon portrays Obama peering forlornly into an empty paint can with the label “Red Line” while Russian President Vladimir Putin walks away saying, “I think you used it all on Syria.” Read the rest of this entry »
The Democrats are vulnerable again on handling the world
Note: WSJ is getting funky with their headlines, don’t you think? Totally…
Daniel Henninger writes: Air-dropping himself into Kiev Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the Russian seizure of Crimea is “not 21st-century, G-8, major-nation behavior.” He said Mr. Putin should allow “international observers” to enter Crimea.
Dobbs: “If you’re the police, where are your badges?”
Chief bandido: “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges!”
We may assume Mr. Putin would say the masked Russians patrolling Ukrainian Crimea are “international observers.”
As of this week, it’s official. Vladimir Putin has turned Barack Obama totally into Jimmy Carter.
We may quibble over the timeline. Some might say it began when Mr. Obama whispered to then-Russian president Dmitry Medvedev he’d have “more flexibility” after the 2012 election; others that it set in when the U.S. president took Mr. Putin’s offer to let Bashar Assad escape the bombing of his airfields for using WMD against his own people.
A “Russia Today” anchor broke through the Iron Curtain.
This has been making the rounds..in case you haven’t seen it yet, here it is with video. Don’t you wish anchors and reporters from ABC News, CBS News, PBS, NBC News, or CNN would quit, live on the air? Take a stand in protest to the stream of lies and deceptions pouring out of the White House? Don’t hold your breath.
Liz Wahl, who was a Washington, D.C. correspondent for the state-owned television station, quit live on-air Wednesday because she does not agree with the network’s backing of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military intervention in Ukraine’s Crimea region.
“I’m proud to be an American and believe in disseminating the truth, and that is why, after this newscast, I’m resigning.”
Just spoke to grandparents who came to US as refugees escaping Soviets during Hungarian revolution. Amazing to hear amid new Cold War fears
— Liz Wahl (@lizwahl) March 5, 2014
The self-described “Filipina-Hungarian-American” said she faces several “ethical and moral challenges” as a reporter for the network. Wahl described herself as the daughter of a veteran who grew up in the United States. Her partner, she said, is a military-base physician “where he sees every day first hand accounts of the ultimate prices people pay for this country.”
“And that is why personally, I cannot be part of a network funded by the Russian government that whitewashes the actions of Putin,” she said as she went off-script on live TV. “I’m proud to be an American and believe in disseminating the truth, and that is why, after this newscast, I’m resigning.”
TOKYO—Yuka Hayashi reports: Japan plans to establish a 3,000-troop unit specializing in amphibious operations “as swiftly as possible,” the defense minister said, publicly outlining details of the new unit for the first time as tensions with China continue over disputed islands.
“Our nation has numerous remote islands and islands of various sizes, and they give us the basis for our exclusive economic zone that ranks sixth in the world…That makes it important to provide defense for islands over the coming years.”
Japan has undertaken an ambitious project to create a force similar to the U.S. Marine Corps, and Japanese Self-Defense Force Troops have been receiving increasingly frequent training from their U.S. counterparts in the past few years.
A plan to strengthen amphibious capabilities was laid out in Japan’s new defense guidelines released in December. In detailing some of the specifics Sunday, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said the new force is expected to include units specializing in handling types of equipment currently unfamiliar to Japanese troops, such as amphibious vehicles and the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.
I knew it…it was only a matter of time…only a few days…before the most senior figures from the Zombie Museum of Foreign Policy would pen Op-Eds, weighing in on the current developments in the Ukraine. A few days ago, Zbigniew Brzezinski was re-animated, today, we have none other than Henry Kissinger:
For the The Washington Post, Henry Kissinger writes: Public discussion on Ukraine is all about confrontation. But do we know where we are going? In my life, I have seen four wars begun with great enthusiasm and public support, all of which we did not know how to end and from three of which we withdrew unilaterally. The test of policy is how it ends, not how it begins.
“Foreign policy is the art of establishing priorities.”
Far too often the Ukrainian issue is posed as a showdown: whether Ukraine joins the East or the West. But if Ukraine is to survive and thrive, it must not be either side’s outpost against the other — it should function as a bridge between them.
Russia must accept that to try to force Ukraine into a satellite status, and thereby move Russia’s borders again, would doom Moscow to repeat its history of self-fulfilling cycles of reciprocal pressures with Europe and the United States.
Fox News’ Shepard Smith traveled to Crimea and filed a report today on exactly what life is like for people there right now. And the big takeaway is that while things “seem better” and relatively normal, Russia still has a hold on “every strategic position there” and so continues to have the upper hand.
He showed how at the airport gate in Crimea, there is scotch tape holding up a Russian flag. Smith said, “The changes are subtle. They are not, in any way, oppressive, but they’re here.” One Crimean woman said she was scared when she saw Russian troops, telling Fox “I thought that it was the beginning of maybe war.”
David Francis writes: As the eyes of the world and the media turn to Ukraine, Syrian President Bashar al Assad has quietly been making momentous gains in his three-year civil war with rebels that all but assure he will leave office on his own terms.
“He is still in power, and with negotiations stalled, it’s unlikely he’ll be removed. In short, he’s won.”
Assad’s army has taken Yabroud, the last major town held by Sunni Muslim rebels, located near the Lebanese border. On Tuesday, with support from Hezbollah fighters and local paramilitary groups, Assad’s forces bombarded the town until the rebels retreated.
Taking Yabroud is an important victory for Assad, who has been fighting for months to control the surrounding region.. He has now effectively cut off rebel supply lines from Lebanon.
At an impromptu press conference today, President Obama spoke about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The way that some of this has been reported, suggestions somehow that the Russian actions have been clever strategically…I actually think that this has not been a sign of strength.”
The Hammer couldn’t disagree more.
“Let’s review. Putin has taken over the Crimean peninsula. . . . He regains it without a shot fired in anger, without any consequences yet. I don’t think there are going to be any that are really going to hurt him. The Europeans are resisting any real sanctions. . . . He’s destabilized a regime in Ukraine that is intensely anti-Russian. He’s sitting in a seat where everybody has to come to him, holding a lot of cards, and it’s not clever?”
“When Obama says, and Kerry also did in Kiev, that this is a sign of weakness and not strength…you’ve got to wonder what cosmos our president and secretary of state are living in.”
Chriss W. Street writes: Russia’s invasion of Crimea is a tipping point event that will further spur the American oil boom. The European Union (EU) and United States in 2008 threatened to slap economic sanctions on Russia for invading Georgia. But after a while the criticism faded and threats of sanctions were quietly dropped, because the EU is almost entirely reliant on Russia for energy supplies.
While oil production cut America’s trade deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars, the greatest boon has been in tapping America’s immense natural gas reserves.
A similar situation is unfolding today as the EU and U.S. are again making empty threats that they will stop exports of Russian oil and gas as punishment for invading the Ukraine. But due to the latest humiliation by the Russians, a consensus is emerging that will demand the United States and its North American partners “drill, baby, drill” for national security.
Twenty years ago on January 1st, the United States, Mexico, and Canada implemented the North American Free Trade Agreement. The volatile Persian Gulf at the time supplied 35% of U.S. oil, and most “experts” argued the world was approaching “peak oil” extraction point where supply would then dwindle rapidly. Although many Americans label NAFTA a failure, it was highly successful in generating greater economic cooperation to prioritize and develop North America’s vast energy resources.