Bret Stephens: The Capitulationist

Obama-Haim-Saban-AFP:Getty

The Obama administration refuses to negotiate openly, lest the extent of its diplomatic surrender to Iran be prematurely and fatally exposed.

Bret Stephens writes: For a sense of the magnitude of the capitulation represented by Barack Obama’s Iran diplomacy, it’s worth recalling what the president said when he was trying to sell his interim nuclear agreement to a Washington, D.C., audience in December 2013.

“We know they don’t need to have an underground, fortified facility like Fordo in order to have a peaceful program,” Mr. Obama said of the Iranians in an interview with Haim Saban, the Israeli-American billionaire philanthropist. “They certainly don’t need a heavy-water reactor at Arak in order to have a peaceful nuclear program. They don’t need some of the advanced centrifuges that they currently possess in order to have a limited, peaceful nuclear program.”

An Iranian worker at the Uranium Conversion Facility at Isfahan, 410 kilometers, south of Tehran. The conversion facility in Isfahan reprocesses uranium ore concentrate, known as yellowcake, into uranium hexaflouride gas. The gas is then taken to Natanz and fed into the centrifuges for enrichment. (photo credit: AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

An Iranian worker at the Uranium Conversion Facility at Isfahan, 410 kilometers, south of Tehran. The conversion facility in Isfahan reprocesses uranium ore concentrate, known as yellowcake, into uranium hexaflouride gas. The gas is then taken to Natanz and fed into the centrifuges for enrichment. (photo credit: AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Hardly more than a year later, on the eve of what might be deal-day, here is where those promises stand:

Fordo: “The United States is considering letting Tehran run hundreds of centrifuges at a once-secret, fortified underground bunker in exchange for limits on centrifuge work and research and development at other sites.”—Associated Press, March 26.

[Read the full text here, at the Wall Street Journal]

Arak: “Today, the six powers negotiating with Iran . . . want the reactor at Arak, still under construction, reconfigured to produce less plutonium, the other bomb fuel.”—The New York Times, March 7.

Advanced centrifuges: “Iran is building about 3,000 advanced uranium-enrichment centrifuges, the Iranian news media reported Sunday, a development likely to add to Western concerns about Tehran’s disputed nuclear program.”—Reuters, March 3.

nypost-obama-islam-blind

But the president and his administration made other promises, too. Consider a partial list:

Possible military dimensions: In September 2009 Mr. Obama warned Iran that it was “on notice” that it would have to “come clean” on all of its nuclear secrets. Now the administration is prepared to let it slide.

“It was never especially probable that a detailed, satisfactory verification regime would be included in the sort of substantive framework agreement that the Americans have been working for.”

– The Economist

“Under the new plan,” The Wall Street Journal’s Jay Solomon and Laurence Norman reported last week, “Tehran wouldn’t be expected to immediately clarify all the outstanding questions raised by the IAEA in a 2011 report on Iran’s alleged secretive work. A full reckoning of Iran’s past activities would be demanded in later years as part of a nuclear deal that is expected to last at least 15 years.”

Verification: Another thing the president said in that interview with Mr. Saban is that any deal would involve “extraordinary constraints and verification mechanisms and intrusive inspections.”

Iran isn’t playing ball on this one, either. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] NBC’s Engel: U.S. Allies Fear Obama Administration Leaking Information to Iran

TIME-parody

Time Magazine Parody cover by punditfromanotherplanet

From Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey:

Just how badly has Barack Obama and his administration damaged relations with our allies in the Middle East? NBC’s Richard Engel reports that the Sunni nations in the region have begun to fear that the Obama administration leaks intel to Iran as part of its efforts at rapprochement with the mullahs, which is why the US got blindsided by the Saudi-led coalition’s operations in Yemen. The White House’s “incoherence” in policy, Engel reports, has most of them losing confidence in American leadership, according to Engel’s contacts. (via Free Beacon):

Initially, this looked like material for an update on my earlier post regarding the Saudi-GCC coalition and its decision to work around Obama, but it deserves its own thread for a couple of reasons. First, Engel reported this for NBC, and on MSNBC, the “Lean Forward” cable channel that usually acts as a clearinghouse for Barack Obama apologists (and the occasional slam on Middle America). Engel’s not among the apologists; he’s a first-class foreign correspondent whose reports follow no partisan agenda, and whose sources have usually provided him with highly accurate reporting.

[Read more at Hot Air]

More importantly, Engel’s report advances this to an allegation of betrayal, not just incompetence. Clearly, Saudi Arabia has little confidence left in the Obama administration; that much is evident from their actions to cut the US out of the loop on this coalition. Read the rest of this entry »


A Reminder from Alan Dershowitz: President is not Commander in Chief of Foreign Policy

US President Barack Obama attends a military briefing with US Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham (L) at Bagram Air Field, north of Kabul, in Afghanistan, May 25, 2014. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

To be sure, when politicians call our president the ‘Commander-in-Chief,’ they are using that term rhetorically. But it is a dangerous rhetoric, because it suggests a concentration, rather than a division, of power

images Alan M. Dershowitz writes: Politicians should stop referring to the President of the United States as “the Commander-in-Chief,” as he is often referred to. Most recently, Hillary Clinton, whom I admire, said the following about Republican senators who wrote an open letter to Iran:

“Either these senators were trying to be helpful to the Iranians or harmful to the Commander-in-Chief in the midst of high-stakes international diplomacy.”

But the president is not the Commander-in-Chief for purposes of diplomatic negotiations. This characterization mistakenly implies that President Obama — or any president — is our Commander, and that his decisions should receive special deference. This is a misreading of our constitution, which creates a presidency that is subject to the checks and balances of co-equal branches of the government. The president is only the commander in chief of “the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States.” This provision was intended to assure civilian control over the military and to serve as a check on military power.

Air-force1

“As President, he cannot even declare war, though he can decide how a war should be fought after Congress declares it. He cannot make a treaty without the approval of 2/3 of the Senate. He cannot appoint Ambassadors without the consent of the Senate. And he cannot terminate sanctions that were imposed by Congress, without Congress changing the law.”

The only people he is empowered to command are soldiers, sailors and members of the militia — not ordinary citizens.

This important limitation on the president’s power is highly relevant to the current debate about Congress having the authority to check the president’s decision to make the deal that is currently being negotiated with Iran. The Constitution is clear about this. The President is not the Commander-in-Chief of our nation’s foreign policy. When he is involved in “high-stakes international diplomacy,” his involvement is not as Commander-in-Chief of our armed forces, but rather as negotiator-in-chief, whose negotiations are subject to the checks and balances of the other branches.

commander-in-chief-Obama-photo

“Our Constitution separates the powers of government — the power to command — into three co-equal branches. The armed forces are different: power is vested in one commander-in-chief.”

As President, he cannot even declare war, though he can decide how a war should be fought after Congress declares it. He cannot make a treaty without the approval of 2/3 of the Senate. He cannot appoint Ambassadors without the consent of the Senate. And he cannot terminate sanctions that were imposed by Congress, without Congress changing the law. Were he the “Commander-in-Chief” of our country — as Putin is of Russia or as Ali Khamenei is of Iran — he could simply command that all of these things be done. But our Constitution separates the powers of government — the power to command — into three co-equal branches. The armed forces are different: power is vested in one commander-in-chief.

“The only people he is empowered to command are soldiers, sailors and members of the militia — not ordinary citizens.”

To be sure, when politicians call our president the “Commander-in-Chief,” they are using that term rhetorically. But it is a dangerous rhetoric, because it suggests a concentration, rather than a division, of power. Military metaphors are as inappropriate in a democracy as is martial law, which does empower the executive to act as the commander of all people, but only in cases of extreme emergency. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] State Dept. Again Refuses To Say Whether Clinton Signed Separation Agreement

State Dept. Again Refuses To Say Whether Clinton Signed Separation Agreement (March 16, 2015)

hillary-blackberry-narrow-horiz


Iran Unveils New Ground-Based Cruise Missile System

Iran Missile

Iran unveils newly developed long range cruise missile called Soumar that looks like a reverse engineered KH-55

“Soumar long-range ground-to-ground cruise missile system has been designed and built by experts of the defense ministry’s aerospace industries organization,” Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan told reporters after the unveiling ceremony.

“The designing and building of this weapon whose navigation and propulsion systems and its structure enjoy complicated and new technologies is seen as a wide stride taken to enhance the Islamic Republic of Iran’s defensive and deterrence power,” he added.

Dehqan also announced the mass delivery of Qadr and Qiyam long-range ballistic missiles to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)’s Aerospace Force, and said these missiles are capable of destroying IMAGE635614086663178000different types of targets under any type of conditions due to their tactical capability, sustainability in the battleground and radar-evading features.

He also announced that the defense ministry will deliver upgraded versions of these long-range and high-precision missiles to the Iranian military forces next year.

Also during the ceremony, IRGC Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh hailed Iran’s advancements in missile technology under the harshest sanctions imposed on the country, and underlined that Iran will never allow its defense program and cruise missiles become a topic in its negotiations with the world powers.

The Iranian Armed Forces have recently test-fired different types of newly-developed missiles and torpedoes and tested a large number of home-made weapons, tools and equipment, including submarines, military ships, artillery, choppers, aircrafts, UAVs and air defense and electronic systems, during massive military drills.

ogolf

Defense analysts and military observers say that Iran’s wargames and its advancements in weapons production have proved as a deterrent factor.

Iran successfully tested second generation of Sejjil missiles and brought it into mass production in 2013.

Sejjil missiles are considered as the third generation of Iran-made long-range missiles.

Also, Iran’s 2000km-range, liquid-fuel, Qadr F ballistic missile can reach territories as far as Israel. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] State Dept Spox Marie Harf: ‘Correct’ That We Can’t Know Clinton Provided All Emails Without Access to Her Server

State Dept: ‘Correct’ That We Can’t Know Clinton Provided All Emails Without Access to Her Server (March 6, 2015)

 


The White House Portrait of a Crumbling Terror Group is Contradicted by Documents Seized in the Bin Laden Raid

Bin-Laden-shot-lots

How America Was Misled on al Qaeda’s Demise

Stephen Hayes and Tomas Joscelyn write: In the early-morning hours of May 2, 2011, a small team of American military and intelligence professionals landed inside the high white walls of a mysterious compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The team’s mission, code-named Operation Neptune Spear, had two primary objectives: capture or kill Osama bin Laden and gather as much intelligence as possible about the al Qaeda leader and his network. A bullet to bin Laden’s head accomplished the first; the quick work of the Sensitive Site Exploitation team accomplished the second.

“The leadership down at Central Command wanted to know what were we learning from these documents. We were still facing a growing al Qaeda threat. And it was not just Pakistan and Afghanistan and Iraq. But we saw it growing in Yemen. We clearly saw it growing still in East Africa…The threat wasn’t going away, and we wanted to know: What can we learn from these documents?”

– Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency

It was quite a haul: 10 hard drives, nearly 100 thumb drives and a dozen cellphones. There were DVDs, audio and video tapes, data cards, reams of handwritten materials, newspapers and magazines. At a Pentagon briefing days after the raid, a senior military intelligence official described it as “the single largest collection of senior terrorist materials ever.”

[Also see – Stephen F. Hayes: Why Haven’t We Seen the Documents Retrieved in the Bin Laden Raid?]

The United States had gotten its hands on al Qaeda’s playbook—its recent history, its current operations, its future plans. An interagency team led by the Central Intelligence Agency got the first look at the cache. They performed a hasty scrub—a “triage”—on a small sliver of the document collection, looking for actionable intelligence. According to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, the team produced more than 400 separate reports based on information in the documents.

590671-pakistan-bin-laden

But it is what happened next that is truly stunning: nothing. The analysis of the materials—the “document exploitation,” in the parlance of intelligence professionals—came to an abrupt stop. According to five senior U.S. intelligence officials, the documents sat largely untouched for months—perhaps as long as a year.

[More – NYT: Despite our assurances, it turns out Benghazi was an al-Qaeda-linked attack – hotair.com]

In spring 2012, a year after the raid that killed bin Laden and six months before the 2012 presidential election, the Obama administration launched a concerted campaign to persuade the American people that the long war with al Qaeda was ending.

“At precisely the time Mr. Obama was campaigning on the imminent death of al Qaeda, those with access to the bin Laden documents were seeing, in bin Laden’s own words, that the opposite was true. Says Lt. Gen. Flynn: ‘By that time, they probably had grown by about—I’d say close to doubling by that time. And we knew that.’”

In a speech commemorating the anniversary of the raid, John Brennan , Mr. Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser and later his CIA director, predicted the imminent demise of al Qaeda. The next day, on May 1, 2012, Mr. Obama made a bold claim: “The goal that I set—to defeat al Qaeda and deny it a chance to rebuild—is now within our reach.”

BL-house-WSJ

The White House provided 17 handpicked documents to the Combatting Terror Center at the West Point military academy, where a team of analysts reached the conclusion the Obama administration wanted. Bin Laden, they found, had been isolated and relatively powerless, a sad and lonely man sitting atop a crumbling terror network.

“This wasn’t what the Obama White House wanted to hear. So the administration cut off DIA access to the documents and instructed DIA officials to stop producing analyses based on them.”

It was a reassuring portrayal. It was also wrong. And those responsible for winning the war—as opposed to an election—couldn’t afford to engage in such dangerous self-delusion. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] State Department’s Harf: ‘We Cannot Kill Our Way Out of this War’ with ISIS, ‘We’re Not in a Time of War’ Says Eric Holder

The Corner has an abundance of State Department media embarrassments today…here’s just a few samples:

From Andrew Johnson:

…on last night’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf stopped by to argue that the solution to defeating the Islamic State is finding economic opportunity for young Muslim men, because “we cannot kill our way out of this war.”

“If I were ISIS, I wouldn’t be afraid right now. Nothing we do right now seems to be directed at stopping this.”

– Chris Matthews

Harf’s appearance came after a weekend that saw 21 Coptic Christians beheaded and a gunman open fire at a free-speech debate in Copenhagen, as Brendan notes. Matthews pressed Harf on the lack of a strong and meaningful response to the growing threat of Islamic extremism worldwide.

[Also see – Majority Dissaprove of Obama’s Islamic State Approach – Andrew Johnson]

[More – The Conversation Obama Doesn’t Want to Have  – The White House seems to think its denial of radical Islam will stop people from believing the obvious – Jonah Goldberg]

“If I were ISIS, I wouldn’t be afraid right now,” Matthews said. “Nothing we do right now seems to be directed at stopping this.”

While Harf assured viewers that “a lot” of Islamic State fighters have been killed, she also claimed that force isn’t the most effective strategy for combatting ISIS. “We cannot win this war by killing them — we cannot kill our way out of this war,” she said.

Instead, she argued that…(read more)

Holder: ‘We’re Not in a Time of War’

Brendan Bordelon has this:

With 10,000 American soldiers patrolling the mountains and deserts of Afghanistan, thousands more deployed to Iraq, and U.S. military aircraft conducting daily strikes in both those countries and Syria, Attorney General Eric Holder claimed the nation is “not in a time of war.”

[See more — When Did Holder Stop Thinking We Were ‘In a Time of War’? – Andrew C. McCarthy]

Holder made the comments Tuesday during a talk to journalists at the National Press Club, broadcast on C-SPAN. Asked about the Obama administration’s zealous prosecution of reporters for allegedly endangering national security by publishing sensitive material or refusing to reveal sources, the nation’s top law enforcement officer inadvertently provided insight into how the White House views America’s overseas engagements….(read more)

Chris Matthews: America Being ‘Morally Humiliated’ by ISIS

Brendan Bordelon has more:

Liberal cable news host Chris Matthews called out American apathy in the wake of the latest Islamic State massacre, saying the United States is being “morally humiliated” by the terrorists.

Islamists associated with the Islamic State murdered 21 innocent Egyptian Christians in Libya on February 15, filming their mass beheading and posting the video online. The Egyptian government responded the following day, with warplanes striking targets in Libyan cities controlled by the Islamic State.

“I know, we all know we need a plan. We need a route that takes us to a destroyed ISIS, because the alternative is too sick, too un-American, too un-human. We can’t see people killed like this in our face and simply flip to the sports page or the financial news or what’s at the movies or who’s going to win the Oscars and act like America, our country, is not being morally humiliated.”

Often skeptical of American intervention, on Monday night Matthews expressed his desire that the latest atrocity not go unpunished. “Can we do nothing?” Read the rest of this entry »


Obama wants Congress to Endorse His Hesitant Anti-ISIS Strategy

Obama-presser

The War Irresolution

Napoleon famously said that in warfare if you vow to take Vienna—take Vienna. President Obama ’s version of that aphorism might be—on the way to Vienna stop to summer in Salzburg, only use air power, and if the fighting isn’t over in a couple of years call the whole thing off.

[Also see – ]

How else to interpret the amazing draft of a resolution that Mr. Obama sent to Congress Wednesday requesting an authorization to use military force against Islamic State? The language would so restrict the President’s war-fighting discretion that it deserves to be called the President Gulliver resolution. Tie me down, Congress, please. Instead of inviting broad obama-exec-opolitical support for defeating ISIS, the language would codify the President’s war-fighting ambivalence.

“Mr. Obama’s draft language fairly describes his current war strategy. But a flawed military strategy that is ambiguous is better than a flawed strategy written into law. Mr. Obama’s strategy can be changed by the next President—unless it is codified by a flawed authorization.”

The draft is especially notable for its disconnect between military ends and means. The preamble contains a long and accurate parade of horribles about the “grave threat” posed by Islamic State. These include “horrific acts of violence” against women and girls, the murder “of innocent United States citizens,” and its intention “to conduct terrorist attacks internationally, including against the United States, its citizens, and interests.” Really bad guys.

“The time limit alone is reason to oppose the resolution, as we’ve seen in Afghanistan. Mr. Obama’s deadline on U.S. operations there has given the Taliban confidence to wait us out. A time limit also tells our coalition allies that the U.S. commitment against ISIS could end no matter the state of war at the time. “

But then the resolution proceeds to inform these killers about the limits of what the U.S. will do to defeat them. Mr. Obama wants Congress to put into statutory language that it “does not authorize the use of the economist-mission-relaunched-obamaUnited States Armed Forces in enduring offensive ground combat operations”; and that “the use of military force shall terminate” in three years “unless reauthorized.”

“Rather than put shackles on his generals, Mr. Obama should be urging them to mount a campaign to roll back ISIS as rapidly as possible from the territory it holds.”

The time limit alone is reason to oppose the resolution, as we’ve seen in Afghanistan. Mr. Obama’s deadline on U.S. operations there has given the Taliban confidence to wait us out. A time limit also tells our coalition allies that the U.S. commitment against ISIS could end no matter the state of war at the time. Mr. Obama has said himself that degrading and destroying ISIS may take years, yet his draft would force the next President to seek a new authorization in 2018.

“That would be a genuine defeat—and the world would see it as one. It would also be a demonstration to potential ISIS recruits that if you join the jihad, you are likely to die, and soon.”

As for ground troops, Mr. Obama is asking Congress to endorse a military strategy that his own generals have said may be deficient. In a letter to Congress elaborating on the draft authorization, Mr. Obama says his draft “would provide the flexibility to conduct ground operations” in “limited circumstances, such as rescue operations” or “the use of special operations forces to take military action against ISIL leadership.” He says the resolution would only bar “long-term, large-scale ground combat operations” as in Iraq and Afghanistan. Read the rest of this entry »


After ISIS execution, Angry King Abdullah Quotes Clint Eastwood to U.S. Lawmakers

clint-eastwood

Byron York writes: Members of the House Armed Services Committee met with Jordan’s King Abdullah Tuesday not long after news broke that ISIS had burned to death a Jordanian pilot captured in the fight against the terrorist group.6-William-Munny

“He said there is going to be retribution like ISIS hasn’t seen. He mentioned ‘Unforgiven’ and he mentioned Clint Eastwood, and he actually quoted a part of the movie.”

– Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr., who was in the meeting with the king.

In a private session with lawmakers, the king showed an extraordinary measure of anger — anger which he expressed by citing American movie icon Clint Eastwood.

Abdullah

“He said there is going to be retribution like ISIS hasn’t seen,” said Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr., a Marine Corps veteran of two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, who was in the meeting 220px-DuncanHunterwith the king. “He mentioned ‘Unforgiven’ and he mentioned Clint Eastwood, and he actually quoted a part of the movie.”

“He’s angry. They’re starting more sorties tomorrow than they’ve ever had. They’re starting tomorrow. And he said, ‘The only problem we’re going to have is running out of fuel and bullets.”

Hunter would not say which part of “Unforgiven” the king quoted, but noted it was where Eastwood’s character describes how he is going to deliver his retribution. There is a scene in the picture in which Eastwood’s character, William Munny, says…(read more)

WashingtonExaminer.com


Suicide bomber kills at least 45 Afghans

Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide bomber attacked a volleyball tournament in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday, killing at least 45 people, officials said.

Dozens more were wounded when the bomber, who was on foot and mingling with the crowd, detonated his explosives, said Mokhis Afgha, the spokesman for the governor of Paktika province.

“There were too many people gathered in the one place to watch the game. Dozens of others are wounded and we have reports that many of them are in critical condition.”

He said the attack happened during an inter-district volleyball tournament attended by large crowed in Yahyakhail district late Sunday afternoon.

“We need urgent help from the central government because we might need to transfer wounded people to Kabul for treatment.”

“There were too many people gathered in the one place to watch the game. Dozens of others are wounded and we have reports that many of them are in critical condition,” Afghan said. Read the rest of this entry »


Obama’s Own JV Team: After the bin Laden Raid, the Deluge

obama-golf-sidebar

Max Boot writes: Last week brought a reminder of what the United States has lost since Bob Gates and Leon Panetta left the Obama cabinet. Both are straight shooters with a centrist, hardheaded sensibility.

“What happened? How did the centrist Obama of his early years in office give way to the dovish Obama of more recent times? “

Panetta has been making headlines with his criticism of Obama on 60 Minutes for pulling out of Iraq too soon (“I really thought that it was important for us to maintain a presence in Iraq”) and not doing more early on to aid the Syrian opposition (“we pay the price for not doing that in what we see happening with ISIS”).

“Obama suffers from the not uncommon defect of the intellectually able: He imagines that he is always the smartest guy in the room and thus has trouble taking advice that does not accord with his own predilections.”

Meanwhile, Gates has been critical of Obama for prohibiting U.S. “boots on the ground” to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria: “The reality imax-boots, they’re not gonna be able to be successful against ISIS strictly from the air, or strictly depending on the Iraqi forces, or the Peshmerga, or the Sunni tribes acting on their own,” he told CBS This Morning. “So there will be boots on the ground if there’s to be any hope of success in the strategy. And I think that by continuing to repeat that [the United States won’t put boots on the ground], the president, in effect, traps himself.”

[Check out Max Boot’s “Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present” at Amazon.com]

In retrospect, it is clear, the first Obama term—when Gates was at Defense (followed by Panetta), Panetta at CIA (followed by General David Petraeus), Hillary Clinton at State, Admiral Mike Mullen at the Joint Chiefs, and retired General Jim Jones at the National Security Council—was a golden age (by Obama standards) when there were grown-ups more or less in charge of U.S. foreign policy. Obama at first tended to accede to the advice of his more seasoned foreign policy hands because as a first-term senator he was acutely aware of his own lack of experience or credibility in the field. Read the rest of this entry »


The Juicebox Mafia’s Utopian Excess

From Commentary (read the whole thing here) by the Washington Free Beacon‘s Matthew Continetti:

Charles Fourier, the utopian socialist who lived from 1772 to 1837, has been on my mind. Long ago, Fourier was considered a deep, monumental, visionary thinker.

“Among Fourier’s more spectacular beliefs: One day the oceans will turn into pink lemonade. He wasn’t joking.”

His theories of social organization inspired the establishment of a communal society, the North American Phalanx, in Monmouth, New Jersey, in 1843. It collapsed a little more than a decade later.

Among Fourier’s more spectacular beliefs: One day the oceans will turn into pink lemonade. He wasn’t joking. “His temperament was too ardent, his imagination too strong, and his acquaintance with the realities of life too slight to enable him justly to estimate the merits of his fantastic views,” wrote the Scottish philosopher Robert Adamson.

Illustration+to+Charles+Fourier+social+utopia+View+to+a+Phalansterium+model-1024x768-5640

As with Fourier’s North American Phalanx in the 19th century, so it is with the Juicebox Mafia Phalanx in the 21st. The Juicebox Mafia, of course, is the dismissive term assigned to the Beltway clique of twenty- and thirtysomething journalists known for their love of President Obama, their hatred of conservatives, their opposition to the war on terror, their quasi-religious faith in social science, and, juiceboxabove all, their earnestness.

“The Juicebox Mafia arrived in Washington a little less than a decade ago, just as the progressive left assumed its upward trajectory. Everything seems to be going their way.”

The Juicebox Mafia arrived in Washington a little less than a decade ago, just as the progressive left assumed its upward trajectory. Everything seems to be going their way. A larger government, universal health insurance, cuts in military spending, withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, same-sex marriage, marijuana legalization—bliss it should be in this dawn for these ardent temperaments, these possessors of strong imaginations, to be alive.

And yet, reading liberal websites and magazines over the last few months, one cannot help but think that their acquaintance with the realities of life is growing increasingly slight.

Someone is filling those juiceboxes with pink lemonade. Read the rest of this entry »


REWIND: NY Times Op-Ed: ‘My Plan for Iraq’, by Senator Barack Obama, July 2008

obama-judgement-to-lead

CHICAGO — Senator Barack Obama writes: The call by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki for a timetable for the removal of American troops from Iraq presents an enormous opportunity. We should seize this moment to begin the phased redeployment of combat troops that I have long advocated, and that is needed for long-term success in Iraq and the security interests of the United States.

The differences on Iraq in this campaign are deep. Unlike Senator John McCain, I opposed the war in Iraq before it began, and would end it as president. I believed it was a grave mistake to allow ourselves to be distracted from the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban by invading a country that posed no imminent threat and had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. Since then, more than 4,000 Americans have died and we have spent nearly $1 trillion. Our military is overstretched. Nearly every threat we face — from Afghanistan to Al Qaeda to Iran — has grown.

In the 18 months since President Bush announced the surge, our troops have performed heroically in bringing down the level of violence. New tactics have protected the Iraqi population, and the Sunni tribes have rejected Al Qaeda — greatly weakening its effectiveness.

But the same factors that led me to oppose the surge still hold true. The strain on our military has grown, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated and we’ve spent nearly $200 billion more in Iraq than we had budgeted. Iraq’s leaders have failed to invest tens of billions of dollars in oil revenues in rebuilding their own country, and they have not reached the political accommodation that was the stated purpose of the surge.

Obama-2008

The good news is that Iraq’s leaders want to take responsibility for their country by negotiating a timetable for the removal of American troops. Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. James Dubik, the American officer in charge of training Iraq’s security forces, estimates that the Iraqi Army and police will be ready to assume responsibility for security in 2009.

Only by redeploying our troops can we press the Iraqis to reach comprehensive political accommodation and achieve a successful transition to Iraqis’ taking responsibility for the security and stability of their country. Instead of seizing the moment and encouraging Iraqis to step up, the Bush administration and Senator McCain are refusing to embrace this transition — despite their previous commitments to respect the will of Iraq’s sovereign government. They call any timetable for the removal of American troops “surrender,” even though we would be turning Iraq over to a sovereign Iraqi government. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] REWIND: George W. Bush’s ‘Frighteningly Accurate’ 2007 Warning on Iraq

Fox News host Megyn Kelly aired a warning issued by former President George W. Bush on Iraq Thursday night, calling it “frighteningly accurate.”

“To begin withdrawing before our commanders tell us we are ready…would mean surrendering the future of Iraq to al Qaeda. It would mean that we’d be risking mass killings on a horrific scale.”

The clip was taken from a 2007 press conference and features Bush warn that if the U.S. withdrew too early from Iraq, troops would eventually have to return to face a stronger enemy.

president-Bush

“It would mean we’d allow the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan.”

Here at punditfromanotherplanet, a similar reference, with video, was posted three months ago. [Bush’s Prediction Comes True: Warned This Would Happen in Iraq if Troops Are Withdrawn Too Soon – 

“It would mean increasing the probability that American troops would have to return at some later date to confront an enemy that is even more dangerous.”

Kelly aired the video ahead of a segment focusing on the growing threat from the Islamic State terror group. Read the rest of this entry »


D.O.D. Official: ‘The Facts Are In, And Obama’s Policy Is A Direct Danger To The United States’

obama-pentagon-DC

“What is the flexible response doctrine, and why is it so important?”

– Joseph Miller

Joseph Miller is the pen name for a ranking Department of Defense official with a background in U.S. special operations and combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has worked in strategic planning.

[Note: This is not a parody, satire, or reporting commented on by punditfromanotherplanet for humor purposes (yes we do that sometimes) this is from The Daily Caller, via Yahoo News, read the full report here.]

US President Barack Obama attends a military briefing with US Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham (L) at Bagram Air Field, north of Kabul, in Afghanistan, May 25, 2014. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

The report is in, and the review of the president’s foreign policy is clear: If there is not an immediate course-reversal, the United States is in serious danger.

In 2013, the United States Institute for Peace, “a congressionally-created, independent, nonpartisan institution whose mission is to prevent, mitigate, and resolve violent conflicts around the world,” was asked to assist the National Defense Panel with reviewing the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). The National Defense Panel is a congressional-mandated bipartisan commission that’s co-chairs were appointed by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

“Given the current state of affairs and the threats posed to our nation, the panel felt that the two-war doctrine was still required to meet our nation’s national security challenges.”

On July 31, the National Defense Panel released its long-awaited report on the effects of the QDR and delivered its findings to Congress. The panel pulled no punches — its findings were a scathing indictment of Obama’s foreign policy, national security policy, and defense policy. The panel found that president Barack Obama’s QDR, military force reductions, and trillion-dollar defense budget cuts are dangerous — and will leave the country in a position where it is unable to respond to threats to our nation’s security. This, the panel concluded, must be reversed as soon as possible. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] State Department Briefing’s ‘Routine Matters': Shepard Smith ‘Highly Inappropriate’

Good capture from The BlazeShepard Smith could not hide his disgust regarding how State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki began the agency’s daily press briefing on the heels of a Malaysian Airlines plane going down over Ukraine.

“Well this is just highly inappropriate I would say…”

Smith said. He was reacting to Psaki starting the press briefing going over normal business and talking bout elections in Afghanistan instead of starting with reaction to the breaking crash news.

[Also see – Video: Shep Smith incredulous as State Department opens briefing … by ignoring Ukraine plane crash]

“Each day the State Department has a briefing. Each day there are State Department reporters who are there, that is their beat, they are assigned to be there. And you get a long list of things that are going on over the world and then you get to ask questions…”

Read the rest of this entry »


What Kind of President Do We Need in 2016? A Boring One, Please.

WHITE-HOUSE

Kevin D. Williamson and George Will hit the nail on the head with columns questioning the outsized importance of the presidency. I’ve linked them together here because they share this theme, a subject that’s been on my mind. It’s particularly relevant today because of the Supreme Court’s decisive smackdown of presidential overreach.

It’s been observed, by Glenn Reynolds, P.J. O’Rourke, and others, that that life in America was better and freer when the Presidency wasn’t so important.  It almost didn’t matter which gang of crooks ran the White House, because most politics was local, not national, and the limitations on Presidential power insured that not much damage could be done. The Federal government was distant, and wonderfully irrelevant to the daily lives of most Americans. Local government mattered. Presidents could occupy themselves with foreign policy, negotiating trade agreements, responding to national emergencies, and making occasional speeches. Most of the time, the country can run itself pretty much on its own.

obama-and-senators

In the last few generations, presidential importance and power has quietly increased. Then, exploded. Presidential elections are all-consuming, winner-take-all contests that consume enormous resources, and draw undue attention. There’s an unseemly preoccupation with presidential spectacle, the wonder and majesty of it all.

My personal rant: Since when are presidents are expected to set a national agenda, drive the country in important new directions, hatch important new plans? Since when are presidents measured by the success or failure of  their grand vision for the country? (answer: the progressive era) Two phrases that illustrate this increasingly poisonous trend: “signature legislation”, and “historic legacy”. When we see or hear the phrase “signature legislation”, journalists and talking heads are stroking the president’s self-image, and indulging the malignant nationalist “great figure” hero fantasy. “Signature legislation” should be a banned phrase, it’s emblematic of this growing bubble of unrealistic expectations. As if the ego of the President is something we should all participate in helping to protect and preserve, for history. I’m sorry, but I’m not interested. Count me out.

Barack_Obama_and_Dmitry_Medvedev_in_Kremlin-1

That the presidency is increasingly imperial, and disturbingly monarchial, is not even a question. Economically, it’s self-evident. Kings and Queens live and travel more modestly than the president. Mark Steyn pointed out that the cost of presidential maintenance — Air Force One, the White House Staff, all the perks — now exceeds that of all the world’s monarchies combined.

Government service shouldn’t be so attractive, even at the executive level. President Clinton, when showing the Oval office to guests who had never seen it, jokingly referred to it as the “crown jewel of the American penal system”. Though Clinton enjoyed the benefits and survived the hazards of the outsized presidency, that was a rare moment of self-deprecating awareness about the burden of the presidency, and an appreciation for its limits.

I agree with Will, and Williamson. I’ve had my fill of presidential drama, give me a boring president. Please.

–The Butcher

calvin-cool

For National Review Online, Kevin D. Williamson begins:

As I was lunching with a few conservative political types earlier this week, the subject turned, as it does, to the 2016 field. When the name of a highly regarded former governor came up, the judgment was unequivocal: “He’s just so . . . boring.” That was not intended as an endorsement.

It should be.

“What greeted Barack Obama during his ascent was excitement that bled into reverence — it is easy to forget, with the demigod in his now diminished state, that his admirers were literally singing hymns to him. Exciting, in the same way that a head-on collision in a speeding Cadillac is exciting…”

Barack Obama has been anything but boring. “May you live in exciting times” may be a fake Chinese curse, but the wisdom communicated therein is real. Thought experiment: Consider the presidency of Barack Obama from the point of view of the sort of person who is likely to support such men. Having vanquished George W. Bush, he has now given us: a military mess in Iraq complete with the deployment of U.S. troops and a mission that is probably unachievable; the continuing disintegration of Afghanistan and its reversion to a jihadist safe haven; an economy that is shrinking significantly and probably is dipping back into recession; a defense and intelligence apparatus that is abusing its powers and the trust of the American people in ways that are not obviously related to defeating terrorist plots; millions without health insurance; millions out of work; corruption in our public institutions, ranging from the IRS to our universities; a self-aggrandizing political elite that is busy enriching itself through the vulgar exploitation of political connections while incomes for ordinary Americans stagnate or decline; etc. There has been a great deal of excitement, but if you voted for Obama because you were angry about the wars, the surveillance state, and the economy, things aren’t looking any better at all.

[Kevin Williamson’s book “The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome: How Going Broke Will Leave America Richer, Happier, and More Secure” is available at Amazon]

The most boring president of the modern era probably was Dwight Eisenhower, whose administration was marked by relative peace, prosperity, and confidence in the effectiveness and integrity of our institutions. The most boring president ever surely was Calvin Coolidge, who pinched pennies and kept at his plow, more or less leaving the country free to go about its own business, which turned out to be an excellent economic program. Our most exciting recent presidents? John Kennedy, who was privately corrupt and publicly inept; Richard Nixon, who was privately corrupt and publicly corrupt; Bill Clinton, who combined the worst features of Kennedy and Nixon, adding a distasteful dose of sanctimony to the mix…(read more)

Mirroring this sentiment, for The Washington Post, on May 23rd, George F. Will has his own humorous take on the outsized presidency:

“In a radio address to the nation, President Franklin Roosevelt urged Americans to tell him their troubles. Please do not tell me yours. Tell them to your spouse, friends, clergy — not to a politician…”

All modern presidents of both parties have been too much with us. Talking incessantly, they have put politics unhealthily at the center of America’s consciousness. Promising promiscuously, they have exaggerated government’s proper scope and actual competence, making the public perpetually disappointed and surly. Inflating executive power, they have severed it from constitutional constraints. So, sensible voters might embrace someone who announced his 2016 candidacy this way:

“I am ambling — running suggests unseemly ardor — for president. It is axiomatic that anyone who nowadays will do what is necessary in order to become president thereby reveals character traits, including delusions of adequacy and obsessive compulsive disorder, that should disqualify him or her from proximity to powers concentrated in the executive branch. Therefore, my campaign will initially consist of driving around the Obnoxiously Entitled Four — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — trying to interest their 3.8 percent of America’s population in a minimalist president. Read the rest of this entry »


Secret Documents Reveal ‘Warrior for Islam': Bergdahl Declared Jihad in Captivity

bowe-bergdahljpg

“…he became much more of an accepted fellow’ than is popularly understood. He even reportedly was allowed to carry a gun at times…”

For Fox News reports: U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl at one point during his captivity converted to Islam, fraternized openly with his captors and declared himself a “mujahid,” or warrior for Islam, according to secret documents prepared on the basis of a purported eyewitness account and obtained by Fox News.

FF-Islamic-Kingdom

“…a member of the Haqqani network, said to be close to Bergdahl’s captors, reported that the American prisoner had declared himself a ‘mujahid’…”

The reports indicate that Bergdahl’s relations with his Haqqani captors morphed over time, from periods of hostility, where he was treated very much like a hostage, to periods where, as one source told Fox News, “he became much more of an accepted fellow” than is popularly understood. He even reportedly was allowed to carry a gun at times.

shabaab-500x281

The documents show that Bergdahl at one point escaped his captors for five days and was kept, upon his re-capture, in a metal cage, like an animal. In addition, the reports detail discussions of prisoner swaps and other attempts at a negotiated resolution to the case that appear to have commenced as early as the fall of 2009.

captive

The reports are rich in on-the-ground detail — including the names and locations of the Haqqani commanders who ran the 200-man rotation used to guard the Idaho native — and present the most detailed view yet of what Bergdahl’s life over the past five years has been like. These real-time dispatches were generated by the Eclipse Group, a shadowy private firm of former intelligence officers and operatives that has subcontracted with the Defense Department and prominent corporations to deliver granular intelligence on terrorist activities and other security-related topics, often from challenging environments in far-flung corners of the globe. Read the rest of this entry »


Analysis: Could Bowe Bergdahl Really Forget How to Speak English?

Monika Schmid is a professor of linguistics at University of Essex.

For The ConversationMonika Schmid writes: When U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl was released after being held captive by the Afghan Taliban for five years, his father said his son was “having trouble speaking English.” Many will find this statement incredible: Is it really possible to forget your native language?

English-amnesia

The answer depends on many factors. The first is what we mean by “forgetting.” Would it, for example, be possible for a mother tongue to be completely forgotten, so that a person cannot understand, or even recognize it anymore? The answer is yes, but only if she or he lost contact with that language before puberty.

Studies of international adoptees show that they very rapidly and completely forget their mother tongue, even if they are as old as 8 at the time that they are adopted. As adults, they may no longer be able to recognize the simplest words of the language they had first learned, and if they try to learn it again, they have few, if any, advantages over novice learners. Read the rest of this entry »


War Is Peace: Obama’s Foreign Policy Legacy

US President Barack Obama attends a military briefing with US Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham (L) at Bagram Air Field, north of Kabul, in Afghanistan, May 25, 2014. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

For Reason  writes:

With just about two and a half years left of President Obama’s second term, it’s legacy-building time at the White House. Last week the president gave two foreign policy speeches, in Afghanistan on Memorial Day to announce that the U.S. war in that country was ending by the end of the year, and at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point where he announced 10,000 troops would be left behind in Afghanistan. The president told graduating cadets they could be the first class since 9/11 not to serve in Afghanistan or Iraq.CAUF

With the seemingly open-ended military commitment President Obama is making by leaving such a large residual force in Afghanistan, it may be just as likely that this class, like every class since 9/11, will serve in Afghanistan, or even Iraq.

Congressional Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) in Iraq is still in effect. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced a resolution to revoke that AUMF in January of this year, but it has still not been acted on by the Democrat-controlled Senate. And in the beginning of his first term, President Obama actually resistedthe George W. Bush-negotiated end to the war, insisting on a residual force of about 10,000 troops. The U.S. has been providing support to the Iraqi government in its campaign against Al-Qaeda, a campaign that began during the U.S. war in Iraq and has continued after the end of that war. Read the rest of this entry »


EXCLUSIVE: First News Photo of Hometown Celebration Parade For Bowe Bergdahl

parade

Laura Zuckerman reports:  U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl‘s hometown, feeling a backlash over allegations that he was a deserter, has canceled a rally planned for later this month celebrating his release from five years of Taliban captivity, city officials said on Wednesday.

“The family needs time to heal.”

In calling off the June 28 event, the officials cited concerns that they lacked the resources to safely manage the thousands of supporters and protesters who were expected to converge on the small mountain community of 8,000 residents.

“I’m not unhappy it’s been canceled.”

The decision came as pressure mounted to cancel the rally in the face of rising hostility, expressed in a torrent of emails and phone calls directed at city officials and businesses, over claims by Bergdahl’s onetime Army comrades that he deliberately abandoned his post in Afghanistan…(read moreReuters


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,951 other followers