Nobody’s Fault: Liberals make excuses for Obama
Noemie Emery writes: All of a sudden, people have noticed that we are in trouble, and many are saying it isn’t the president’s fault. All the bad news, from Iraq to Ukraine, from Libya and Syria to the Mexican border, just seems to have happened: Obama was standing there, golfing or shaking hands with donors, and, like a burst of bad weather, the winds blew, the skies opened, and things went to hell. Mysterious forces conspired against him, terrible setbacks occurred for no reason, and we were left with effects without a cause. His supporters commiserate with him and note his bad fortune at being in office at a time when events make his life difficult. Or they worry about the effect of all these misfortunes on his legacy. “Can Obama Weather the Current Geopolitical S—storm?” Mother Jones’s David Corn wondered recently. Judging from recent poll numbers—36 percent approve of his conduct of foreign relations—the answer appears to be “no.”
[Check out Noemie Emery's book "Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families", available at Amazon]
The reasons offered for why bad things aren’t his doing fall into three different categories: (1) The system is broken, the country is polarized, and the Republicans have become too insane to deal with; (2) stuff happens, and no one at all can do much about it; and (3) people think that the president ought to be Superman and solve all their problems, which is really expecting too much. As Joshua Keating wrote on July 21 in Slate: “There’s a tendency to judge U.S. foreign policy on the condition of the world at any given moment rather than the success of actual actions taken,” as if the condition and the actions can have no conceivable link. “U.S. leverage is limited,” wrote Robert Kuttner in the Huffington Posta day earlier. “U.S. projections of . . . bravado or prudence have little to do with” how recent events have come out.
Obama legacy @Will_Antonin: Militants swim in pool at US embassy in Libya; American press suddenly & strangely unconcerned with “optics.”
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) August 31, 2014
Added to this is the fact that we lack the easy simplicities of the good old days when Hitler and Stalin were murdering millions. “Republican jingoists scapegoat President Obama for all the world’s ills and try to impose a simple story of weakness and strength on events of stupefying complexity,” Kuttner added, complaining that today’s wars lack the grandeur and moral simplicity of the Cold War, and of course World War II. “Who are the good guys and bad guys in Syria and Iraq?” Corn concurred: “Barack Obama is in charge . . . at a time when the world seems to be cracking up more than usual. . . . There are no simple fixes to these nuance-drenched problems. . . . None of these matters are easily resolved.” Read the rest of this entry »
For City Journal, Myron Magnet writes: When a British-educated Muslim terrorist beheads an American journalist to display the sentiments of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria toward the United States; when photos of a Chicago office building and the White House appear on social media with hard-to-deny evidence in the pictures that ISIS is here in our own country with ill intent; when a peace-preaching imam in Canada reports that ISIS is recruiting among his flock; when an experienced U.S. senator warns of ISIS plans to blow up an American city; and when a top ex-intelligence officer cautions that ISIS terrorists have “very likely” entered the United States along with the flood of illegal immigrants surging through our southern border, what would a responsible president do?
[Check out Myron Magnet's book "The Founders at Home: The Building of America, 1735-1817" at Amazon]
Surely, for starters, he would use the National Guard to seal the border with Mexico, as a matter of national security, let alone national sovereignty. He would surely order the Transportation Security Administration to stop at once allowing illegal aliens to board commercial airliners without the usual government-issued identification, as is now reportedly happening routinely, perhaps allowing terrorists to move freely throughout the nation. Read the rest of this entry »
Two girls arrested last week were part of network of young Islamists monitored by authorities
Two teenage French girls, arrested last week in a crackdown on citizens who consider traveling to other countries to join “jihad,” were planning to attack a synagogue in Lyon with a suicide bomb, French media revealed Friday.
“These girls were part of a network of young Islamists who were being monitored by security services.”
The two, 15 and 17 years old, were detained and interrogated last week in Venissieux, a suburb of Lyon in southeastern France, and Tarbes, a town in the south, after French authorities uncovered a plan to bomb the Great Synagogue of Lyon. They were charged for conspiracy to commit terrorism.
Two had never met but communicated via social media, the investigation revealed. Read the rest of this entry »
Hint: this isn’t from the White House. Britain raised the terror threat level from substantial to severe, meaning that a terrorist attack is considered highly likely. The UK’s Prime Minister also said officials are trying to stop UK suspects from traveling by seizing their passports
Buried in a Dell computer captured in Syria are lessons for making bubonic plague bombs and missives on using weapons of mass destruction
Harald Doornbos and Jenan Moussa reporting, for Foreign Policy, ANTAKYA, Turkey — Abu Ali, a commander of a moderate Syrian rebel group in northern Syria, proudly shows a black laptop partly covered in dust. “We took it this year from an ISIS hideout,” he says.
“The ISIS laptop contains more than the typical propaganda and instruction manuals used by jihadists. The documents also suggest that the laptop’s owner was teaching himself about the use of biological weaponry.”
Abu Ali says the fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), which have since rebranded themselves as the Islamic State, all fled before he and his men attacked the building. The attack occurred in January in a village in the Syrian province of Idlib, close to the border with Turkey, as part of a larger anti-ISIS offensive occurring at the time. “We found the laptop and the power cord in a room,” he continued, “I took it with me. But I have no clue if it still works or if it contains anything interesting.”
As we switched on the Dell laptop, it indeed still worked. Nor was it password-protected. But then came a huge disappointment: After we clicked on “My Computer,” all the drives appeared empty.
Appearances, however, can be deceiving. Upon closer inspection, the ISIS laptop wasn’t empty at all: Buried in the “hidden files” section of the computer were 146 gigabytes of material, containing a total of 35,347 files in 2,367 folders. Abu Ali allowed us to copy all these files — which included documents in French, English, and Arabic — onto an external hard drive.
The laptop’s contents turn out to be a treasure trove of documents that provide ideological justifications for jihadi organizations — and practical training on how to carry out the Islamic State’s deadly campaigns. They include videos of Osama bin Laden, manuals on how to make bombs, instructions for stealing cars, and lessons on how to use disguises in order to avoid getting arrested while traveling from one jihadi hot spot to another.
The Islamic State runs a self-sustaining economy across territory it controls in Syria and Iraq, pirating oil while exacting tribute from a population of at least eight million, Arab and Western officials said, making it one of the world’s richest terror groups and an unprecedented threat.
“Can you prevent ISIS from taking assets? Not really, because they’re sitting on a lot of assets already.”
That illicit economy presents a new picture of Islamic State’s financial underpinnings. The group was once thought to depend on funding from Arab Gulf donors and donations from the broader Muslim world. Now, Islamic State—the former branch of al Qaeda that has swallowed parts of Iraq and Syria—is a largely self-financed organization.
Money from outside donors “pales in comparison to their self-funding through criminal and terrorist activities,” a U.S. State Department official said, adding that those activities generate millions of dollars a month.
“So you must disrupt the network of trade. But if you disrupt trade in commodities like food, for example, then you risk starving thousands of civilians.”
For Western and Arab nations that are striving to stop Islamic State, the group’s local funding sources pose a conundrum: A clampdown on economic activity that helps fund the group, counterterrorism officials and experts said, could cause a humanitarian crisis in the already stressed areas it controls. Read the rest of this entry »
Dark Media: The Islamic State’s Online Branding Efforts Show that they’re Waging a War Beyond the Grounds of Iraq and SyriaPosted: August 27, 2014
The Islamic State’s online branding efforts show that they’re waging a war beyond the grounds of Iraq and Syria: http://t.co/XdM9AxuzYw
— WSJ Live (@WSJLive) August 27, 2014
ISIS Makes Liberals Rediscover the Necessity of Hard Power
Bret Stephens writes: So now liberals want the U.S. to bomb Iraq, and maybe Syria as well, to stop and defeat ISIS, the vilest terror group of all time. Where, one might ask, were these neo-neocons a couple of years ago, when stopping ISIS in its infancy might have spared us the current catastrophe?
“Are we going to fight terrorists over there—or are we going to wait for them to come here? “
Oh, right, they were dining at the table of establishment respectability, drinking from the fountain of opportunistic punditry, hissing at the sound of the names Wolfowitz, Cheney, Libby and Perle.
And, always, rhapsodizing to the music of Barack Obama.
Not because he is the most egregious offender, but only because he’s so utterly the type, it’s worth turning to the work of George Packer, a writer for the New Yorker. Over the years Mr. Packer has been of this or that mind about Iraq. Yet he has always managed to remain at the dead center of conventional wisdom. Think of him as the bubble, intellectually speaking, in the spirit level of American opinion journalism.
UPDATED: Cache of Surface-to-Air Missiles? Islamic State Captures Major Government Air Base in Northeast SyriaPosted: August 24, 2014
— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) August 25, 2014
— Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) August 24, 2014
The Corner‘s Andrew Johnson: Former CIA deputy director Michael Morell called the Islamic State’s rapidly growing strength and control of territory in Iraq and Syria “the most complex terrorism problem that I have ever seen.”
While he said “there are no magic bullets” for dealing with the situation, he offered a potential strategy on Face the Nation. First, the United States must work towards taking the controlled territories in Iraq and Syria, which will require a political solution with the former’s government; doing so in Syria will likely be notably more difficult…(more) NRO
[VIDEO] House Homeland Security Committee Chairman McCaul: ISIS Presents the Greatest Threat We’ve Seen Since 9/11Posted: August 24, 2014
“This has been festering for the last year and now it’s culminating with the killing and beheading of an American journalist.”
The Corner‘s Ryan Lovelace reports: On ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, House Homeland Security Committee chairman Michael McCaul R., Texas said he thinks the beheading of American journalist James Foley by the Islamic State represents a turning point that will open the American people’s eyes to the Islamic State’s true nature. “Well, I do think they [ISIS] present the greatest threat we’ve seen since 9/11″
“We need to expand these air strikes so that we can ultimately defeat and eliminate ISIS because I would far prefer to eliminate them over here than have to deal with them in the United States.”
James Foley Murderer Identified: London Rapper Turned jihadist Believed to be Under Investigation for Beheading Journalist in SyriaPosted: August 24, 2014
The Independent‘s Lizzie Dearden reports: A former rapper fighting with the Islamic State (Isis) in Syria is believed to be one of several British jihadists under investigation following the beheading of James Foley.
Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, 24, was known as L Jinny or Lyricist Jinn at home in London, where his rising music career saw him appear in videos and have his singles played on BBC Radio in 2012.
He came to national attention earlier this year, when he posted a picture of himself holding a severed head on Twitter after resurfacing in Syria.
The gruesome picture, believed to have been taken in the Isis stronghold of Raqqa, was captioned: “Chillin’ with my homie or what’s left of him.”
Bary reportedly travelled to the country last year from Maida Vale, west London, where he lived with his mother and five siblings.
His father Adel Abdul Bary, an Egyptian refugee thought to be one of Osama Bin Laden’s closes lieutenants, was extradited from Britain to the United States on charges of terrorism in 2012 for his alleged roles in the bombings of two US embassies in east Africa in 1998. Read the rest of this entry »
Progressives can’t wish away human nature.
Charles C. W. Cooke writes: H. G. Wells’s famous prediction that the First World War would be the “war to end all wars” was met with skepticism by the British prime minister. “This war, like the next war,” David Lloyd George quipped in the summer of 1916, “is a war to end war.” History, he sighed, is not shaped by wishful thinking.
“The lessons of history endure, because human nature never changed.”
– J. Rufus Fears
Two decades later, Lloyd George would be proven right. And yet, in the intervening period, it was Wells’s sentiment that prevailed. The horrors of the trenches having made rationalization imperative, a popular and holistic narrative was developed. The Great War, Woodrow Wilson quixotically argued, had finally managed to “make the world safe for democracy” and, in doing so, had served an invaluable purpose. Henceforth, human beings would remember the valuable lesson that had been written in so much blood, coming together in mutual understanding to, as Wells rather dramatically put it,“exorcise a world-madness and end an age.” And that, it was thought, would be that. Read the rest of this entry »
Countering Radical Narratives Requires Understanding the Radicalized
Nimmi Gowrinathan writes: Reports that women have formed their own brigade within the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) have confounded experts — and worried them. For many, the idea of women as violent extremists seems paradoxical. After all, why should women want to join a political struggle that so blatantly oppresses them?
“In war zones across the world, women absorb a disproportionate amount of the fallout from conflict, including material deprivation in refugee camps, daily harassment and fear in militarized zones, and a constant vulnerability to rape.”
That question reveals more about the experts than the fighters. Those who ask it assume, first, that women are more peaceful than men by nature; and second, that women who participate in armed rebellion are little more than cannon fodder in a man’s game, fighting foolishly for a movement that will not benefit them. As the women of ISIS prove, both assumptions are false.
“Joining the fight is sometimes the only way to survive.”
To understand the women of ISIS and their motivations, it helps to place them in their historical context, among the legions of women in El Salvador, Eritrea, Nepal, Peru, and Sri Lanka who voluntarily joined violent movements and militias, sometimes even as highly ranked officers. In each of these cases, women joined for the same basic reasons as men. Living in deeply conservative social spaces, they faced constant threats to their ethnic, religious, or political identities — and it was typically those threats, rather than any grievances rooted in gender, that persuaded them to take up arms. Read the rest of this entry »
‘Flawless’ Except That the Hostages Weren’t There
“Was this a failure of intelligence? No…This operation, by the way, was a flawless operation, but…”
The group which killed American journalist James Foley have many more hostages
For the Telegraph, Gordon Rayner and David Chazan reporting: As well as the journalist Steven Sotloff, who was threatened with beheading by the same man who murdered Foley, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil) is holding a number of aid workers, thought to include Vanessa Marzullo, 21, and Greta Ramelli, 20, both Italian.
“Can you go back on all the teaching and the values you have tried to instill for a lifetime?”
Three aid workers employed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are also being held hostage after they were abducted last October.
“Can you change your daughter, who has these values and has strong ideals about solidarity and human empathy?”
– Ramelli’s mother, Antonella
As fears grew that Isil could make good on its threat to murder more hostages, families of those being held defended their loved ones’ decisions to travel to Syria.
Remember that ISIS guy who promised to raise Islamic flag over the White House? Me neither!
The Islamic State’s Press Officer Abu Mosa became a figure of international notoriety overnight when he took on a starring role in a captivating Vice News documentary about ISIS in Syria.
“We will humiliate them everywhere, God willing, and we will raise the flag of Allah in the White House.”
– The late Abu Mosa
Instead of doing that, according to the U.S. State Department, he’s just going to be dead.
— Think AgainTurn Away (@ThinkAgain_DOS) August 21, 2014
Mosa was reportedly killed near the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa in Syria, where much of Vice’s documentary was shot. His death comes as Islamic State forces mount a long-awaited assault on the Tabqa Syrian military airbase. Read the rest of this entry »
Reporters Released by Islamic State Say They Spent Several Months With Beheaded Journalist
PARIS - David Gauthier-Villars reports: Former French hostages in Syria said they spent several months in captivity with James Foley, the American journalist whose beheading was videotaped and posted on the Internet this week, and had shared the information with U.S. authorities.British Broadcasting Corp.
Didier François, a reporter with French radio Europe 1 who was kidnapped by Islamist insurgents in Syria in June of last year, said he shared a cell with Mr. Foley from September 2013 to April, when he was released by the group that calls itself Islamic State.
“He was an extraordinary man, an impressive journalist, an extremely strong man who never cracked down despite the incredibly difficult conditions.”
Mr. François told Europe 1. Upon his release with three other French reporters, Mr. François said he contacted Mr. Foley’s family, as well as U.S. authorities, to share information about the American correspondent.
U.S. Special Operations forces mounted an unsuccessful mission inside Syria earlier this summer to try to rescue Mr. Foley and other Americans held by the Islamic extremists, senior Obama administration officials have said. Read the rest of this entry »
President Bush said yesterday that he gave up golfing in 2003 “in solidarity” with the families of soldiers who were dying in Iraq, concluding that it was “just not worth it anymore” to play the sport in a time of war…(more)
NEW YORK TIMES HEADLINE: OBAMA VOWS TO ‘STAY ON COURSE’
The vacationing commander-in-chief returned to the golf course Wednesday after calling for justice in the brutal killing of an American journalist by ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) terrorists. …
The president zipped quickly from a local school to a Martha’s Vineyard golf course after his 12:45 p.m. media session. Obama delivered a short statement and took no questions from the assembled media.