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Social Media Is Killing Discourse Because It’s Too Much Like TV

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We need more text and fewer videos and memes in the age of Trump.

Hossein Derakshan writes: If I say that social media aided Donald Trump’s election,
you might think of fake news on Facebook. But even if Facebook fixes the algorithms that elevate phony stories, there’s something else going on: social media represents the ultimate ascendance of television over other media.

I’ve been warning about this since November 2014, when I was freed from six years of incarceration in Tehran, a punishment I received for my online activism in Iran. Before I went to prison, I blogged frequently on what I now call the open Web: it was
decentralized, text-centered, and abundant with 51kxbo1vo8l-_sl250_hyperlinks to source material and rich background. It nurtured varying opinions. It was related to the world of books.

[Order Neil Postman’s book “Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business” from Amazon.com]

Then for six years I got disconnected; when I left prison and came back online, I was confronted by a brave new world. Facebook and Twitter had replaced blogging and had made the Internet like TV: centralized and image-centered, with content embedded in pictures, without links.

[Read the full story here, at technologyreview.com]

Like TV it now increasingly entertains us, and even more so than television it amplifies our existing beliefs and habits. It makes us feel more than think, and it comforts more than challenges. The result is a deeply fragmented society, driven by emotions, and radicalized by lack of contact and challenge from outside. This is why Oxford Dictionaries designated “post-truth” as the word of 2016: an adjective “relating to circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than emotional appeals.”

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Neil Postman provided some clues about this in his illuminating 1985 book, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show BusinessThe media scholar at New York University saw then how television transformed public discourse into an exchange of volatile emotions that are usually mistaken by pollsters as opinion. One of the scariest outcomes of this transition, Postman wrote, is that television essentially turns all news into disinformation. “Disinformation does not mean false information. It means misleading information—misplaced, irrelevant, fragmented or superficial information—information that creates the illusion of knowing something but which in fact leads one away from knowing … The problem is not that television presents us with entertaining subject matter but that all subject matter is presented as entertaining.” (Emphasis added.) And, Postman argued, when news is constructed as a form of entertainment, it inevitably loses its function for a healthy democracy. “I am saying something far more serious than that we are being deprived of authentic information. I am saying we are losing our sense of what it means to be well informed. Ignorance is always correctable. But what shall we do if we take ignorance to be knowledge?” Read the rest of this entry »

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[VIDEO] 5 Issues for Trump on Radical Islam 

Clarion Project‘s Ryan Mauro examines some of the key challenges a president Donald Trump will likely face in office.

Iranian demonstrators hold anti-US slogans and portraits of supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a rally in Tehran's Azadi Square (Freedom Square) to mark the 34th anniversary of the Islamic revolution on February 10, 2013. Hundreds of thousands of people marched in Tehran and other cities chanting "Death to America" and "Death to Israel" as Iran celebrated the anniversary of the ousting of the US-backed shah. AFP PHOTO / BEHROUZ MEHRI

Iranian demonstrators hold anti-US slogans and portraits of supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a rally in Tehran’s Azadi Square (Freedom Square) to mark the 34th anniversary of the Islamic revolution on February 10, 2013. Hundreds of thousands of people marched in Tehran and other cities chanting “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” as Iran celebrated the anniversary of the ousting of the US-backed shah. AFP PHOTO / BEHROUZ MEHRI

A member of jihadist group Al-Nusra Front stands in a street of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on January 11, 2014. Fighting pitting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) against other rebel groups -- including Al-Nusra Front, which is also linked to Al-Qaeda but is seen as more moderate -- broke out in Syria last week. AFP PHOTO / BARAA AL-HALABI

A member of jihadist group Al-Nusra Front stands in a street of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on January 11, 2014. Fighting pitting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) against other rebel groups — including Al-Nusra Front, which is also linked to Al-Qaeda but is seen as more moderate — broke out in Syria last week. AFP PHOTO / BARAA AL-HALABI

Professor Ryan Mauro is the National Security Analyst for the Clarion Project, a nonprofit organization that educates the public about the threat of Islamic extremism and provides a platform for voices of moderation and tolerance within the Muslim community. Clarion Project films have been seen by over 50 million people. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] U.S.-China Relations: Three Things to Watch

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping spoke late Sunday and set a tone of “mutual respect.” But if Mr. Trump’s earlier campaign rhetoric is put in motion, U.S.-China relations look set for a significant shift. WSJ’s Niki Blasina explains.

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Champagne Memories: Celebrating Barack Obama and Ben Rhodes’ Proudest Achievement

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Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei on Monday said the United States cannot “do a damn thing” about the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile program.

“They have engaged in a lot of hue and cry over Iran’s missile capabilities, but they should know that this ballyhoo does not have any influence and they cannot do a damn thing,” Khamenei said, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.

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[ALSO SEE – The Iran Deal Wasn’t About Nukes At All – thefederalist.com]

Iran in March tested ballistic missiles, including two with the words “Israel must be wiped off the earth” emblazoned on them, according to the US and other Western powers. Under a nuclear deal signed last year between world powers and Iran, ballistic missile tests are not forbidden outright but are “not consistent” with a United Nations Security Council resolution from July 2015, US officials say.

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According to the UN decision, “Iran is called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology,” until October 2023.

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“The US and other powers are extremely sad at this issue and they have no other option; that is why they made huge efforts in order to bring the country’s decision-making and decision-taking centers under their control, but they failed and God willing, they will continue to fail,” Khamanei said on Monday.

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The supreme leader, who has final say on state matters, lambasted the “arrogant” Western powers, arguing that efforts to shut down its nuclear program and missile tests were a pretext to meddle in Iran’s affairs. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Iranians Mark Anniversary of Tehran’s U.S. Embassy Takeover

TEHRAN — American flags and effigies of President Barack Obama were set ablaze on Wednesday as thousands gathered to mark the anniversary of the 1979 takeover of the Iranian capital’s U.S. Embassy.

New and large anti-U.S. propaganda posters — including one mocking the raising of the American flag at Iwo Jima — were spotted in Tehran….

…Students stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on Nov. 4, 1979 and took dozens of Americans hostage. The hostages were held for more than 400 days and the crisis prompted the U.S. to sever ties with Iran….(read more)

Source: NBC News

From the YouTube video (above)

Iranians hold nationwide rallies, marking the 36th anniversary of the 1979 takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran. In the capital Tehran, people are gathering outside the building of the former American Embassy to chant slogans against US policies. November fourth is known as Student Day in Iran. 36 years ago today, a group of university students stormed the embassy building. Documents retrieved from the embassy showed the building had turned into a center of spying aimed at overthrowing the establishment following the victory of the Islamic Revolution just months earlier.

 


No Biggie For Bambi: Key Sanctions Relief Provision of Iran Deal Violates Federal Law

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Inconveniently, Sanctions Relief Provision Conflicts with Federal Statutes that were Signed into Law by President Obama.

Some senior U.S. officials involved in the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal have privately concluded that a key sanctions relief provision – a concession to Iran that will open the doors to tens of billions of dollars in U.S.-backed commerce with the Islamic regime – conflicts with existing federal statutes and cannot be implemented without violating those laws, Fox News has learned.

“What’s more, ITRA contains language, in Section 605, requiring that the terms spelled out in Section 218 shall remain in effect until the president of the United States certifies two things to Congress: first, that Iran has been removed from the State Department’s list of nations that sponsor terrorism, and second, that Iran has ceased the pursuit, acquisition, and development of weapons of mass destruction.”

At issue is a passage tucked away in ancillary paperwork attached to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, as the Iran nuclear deal is formally known. Specifically, Section 5.1.2 of Annex II provides that in exchange for Iranian compliance with the terms of the deal, the U.S. “shall…license non-U.S. entities that are owned or controlled by a U.S. person to engage in activities with Iran that are consistent with this JCPOA.”

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In short, this means that foreign subsidiaries of U.S. parent companies will, under certain conditions, be allowed to do business with Iran. The problem is that the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act (ITRA), signed into law by President Obama in August 2012, was explicit in closing the so-called “foreign sub” loophole.

“Additional executive orders and statutes signed by President Obama, such as the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, have reaffirmed that all prior federal statutes relating to sanctions on Iran shall remain in full effect.”

Indeed, ITRA also stipulated, in Section 218, that when it comes to doing business with Iran, foreign subsidiaries of U.S. parent firms shall in all cases be treated exactly the same as U.S. firms: namely, what is prohibited for U.S. parent firms has to be prohibited for foreign subsidiaries, and what is allowed for foreign subsidiaries has to be allowed for U.S. parent firms.

What’s more, ITRA contains language, in Section 605, requiring that the terms spelled out in Section 218 shall remain in effect until the president of the United States certifies two things to Congress: first, that Iran has been removed from the State Department’s list of nations that sponsor terrorism, and second, that Iran has ceased the pursuit, acquisition, and development of weapons of mass destruction. Read the rest of this entry »


Ann Has a Fan in Tehran: Khamenei Joins Coulter in Lamenting GOP Pandering

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[Also see David French‘s Ann Coulter Panders to ‘Cuckservative’-Obsessed White Nationalists — While She Denounces GOP Pandering]

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Source: The Times of Israel


[VIDEO] BREAKING: Khamenei Threatens America in New Video, Bombs US Navy 

Ayatollah Khamenei released this threatening video six hours ago—“If Any War Happens”.

The video contains images of Iranian bombs raining down on a US battleship.
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Read more…

Source: The Gateway Pundit


Khamenei on The Future of Israel

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Israel will not survive the next 25 years, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Wednesday, making a series of threatening remarks published online.

“After negotiations, in Zionist regime they said they had no more concern about Iran for next 25 years; I’d say: Firstly, you will not see next 25 years; God willing, there will be nothing as Zionist regime by next 25 years. Secondly, until then, struggling, heroic and jihadi morale will leave no moment of serenity for Zionists.”

In a quote posted to Twitter by Khamenei’s official account, Khamenei addresses Israel, saying, “You will not see next 25 years,” and adds that the Jewish state will be hounded until it is destroyed.

The quote comes against a backdrop of a photograph apparently showing the Iranian leader walking on an Israeli flag painted on a sidewalk.

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. AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

“Khamenei’s statements also reaffirmed his view that the US is a “Great Satan” and that there would be no detente with Washington beyond the nuclear talks.”

“After negotiations, in Zionist regime they said they had no more concern about Iran for next 25 years; I’d say: Firstly, you will not see next 25 years; God willing, there will be nothing as Zionist regime by next 25 years. Secondly, until then, struggling, heroic and jihadi morale will leave no moment of serenity for Zionists,” the quote from Iran’s top leader reads in broken English.

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The quote was apparently taken from a speech given earlier in the day.

The remarks came as US lawmakers began to debate supporting a recent nuclear agreement between Tehran and six world powers. Critics of the deal have pointed to fiery anti-US and anti-Zionist rhetoric as proof that the regime should not be trusted. Read the rest of this entry »


Farewell to the Era of No Fences 

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Europe’s openness rests on America’s strength—you can’t have one without the other.

Bret Stephensrenocol_BretStephens writes: This was supposed to be the Era of No Fences. No walls between blocs. No borders between countries. No barriers to trade. Visa-free tourism. The single market. A global Internet. Frictionless transactions and seamless exchanges.

In short, a flat world. Whatever happened to that?

In the early 1990s, Israel’s then-Foreign Minister Shimon Peres published a book called “The New Middle East,” in which he predicted paradwhat was soon to be in store for his neighborhood. “Regional common markets reflect the new Zeitgeist,” he gushed. It was only a matter of time before it would become true in his part of the world, too.

[Order Robert Kagan’s book “Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order” from Amazon.com]

I read the book in college, and while it struck me as far-fetched it didn’t seem altogether crazy. The decade from 1989 to 1999 was an age of political, economic, social and technological miracles. The Berlin Wall fell. The Soviet Union dissolved. Apartheid ended. The euro and Nafta were born. The first Internet browser was introduced. Oil dropped below $10 a barrel, the Dow topped 10,000, Times Square became safe again. America won a war in Kosovo without losing a single man in combat.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

Would Israeli businessmen soon be selling hummus and pita to quality-conscious consumers in Damascus? Well, why not?new-middle-east

[Check out Shimon Peres’s bookThe New Middle East: Protest and Revolution in the Arab World at Amazon.com

Contrast this promised utopia with the mind-boggling scenes of tens of thousands of Middle East migrants, marching up the roads and railways of Europe, headed for their German promised land. The images seem like a 21st-century version of the Völkerwanderung, the migration of nations in the late Roman and early Medieval periods. Desperate people, needing a place to go, sweeping a broad landscape like an unchanneled flood. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] John Kerry: Lawyer to the Mullahs

Secretary of State John Kerry goes to bat for Iran as he tries to sell the legitimacy of the nuclear deal.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani laughs as he speaks during an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Asia Society in New York, September 26, 2013. REUTERS/Keith Bedford (


Why Are They Cheering in Tehran?

cheer-Iran-WSJ

Frederick Kagan writes: The nuclear agreement with Iran announced Tuesday is an astoundingly good deal, far surpassing the hopes of anyone . . . in Tehran. It requires Iran to reduce the number of centrifuges enriching uranium by about half, to sell most of its current uranium stockpile or “downblend” it to lower levels of enrichment, and to accept inspections (whose precise nature is yet to be specified) by the International Atomic Energy Agency, something that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had wanted to avoid.

“The main achievement of the regime’s negotiators is striking a deal that commits the West to removing almost all sanctions on Iran, including most of those imposed to reduce terrorism or to prevent weapons proliferation.”

But the agreement also permits Iran to phase out the first-generation centrifuges on which it now relies and focus its research and development by exclusively using a number of advanced centrifuge models many times more efficient, which has been Tehran’s plan all along. The deal will also entirely end the United Nations’ involvement in Iran’s nuclear program in 10 years, and in 15 years will lift most restrictions on the program.

“Experts will debate the value of the concessions Iran has made on the nuclear front, but the value to Iran of the concessions the U.S. has made on nonnuclear issues is immeasurable.”

Even that, though, is not Tehran’s biggest win. The main achievement of the regime’s negotiators is striking a deal that commits the West to removing almost all sanctions on Iran, including most of those imposed to reduce terrorism or to prevent weapons proliferation. Most of the sanctions are likely to end in a few months. Thus the agreement ensures that after a short delay Iran will be able to lay the groundwork for a large nuclear arsenal and, in the interim, expand its conventional military capabilities as much as the regime pleases. The supreme leader should be very proud of his team.

“The Obama administration seems to be betting that lifting sanctions will cause Iran to moderate its behavior in both nuclear and nonnuclear matters. The rhetoric and actions of the regime’s leaders provide little evidence to support this notion and much evidence to the contrary.”

The agreement consists of 159 pages of opaque prose, and key sections are referred to but are not clearly marked. Even figuring out the timeline embodied in the deal is hard, but it appears to run about as follows:

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

“Finalization Day” was July 14. The agreement stipulates that a resolution will be submitted to the United Nations Security Council “promptly after the conclusion of the negotiations . . . for adoption without delay” that will “terminate” all preceding U.N. Security Council resolutions against Iran. The document doesn’t mention the 60-day window for review by the U.S. Congress, and the language in this section suggests that action in the U.N. will not await any congressional vote. Read the rest of this entry »


Israel and Saudi Arabia Present United Front over Iran Deal

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Iran’s enemies unsettled by its deal with the West, but Bashar al-Assad of Syria says it is ‘a great victory’

 writes: The nuclear deal with Iran caused fury in Israel and consternation around the region at the likely increase in influence and resources of a newly enriched Iran.

Most telling was the loudest expression of support. “I am happy that the Islamic Republic of Iran has achieved a great victory by reaching an agreement,” President Bashar al-Assad of Syria said in a message to his Iranian opposite number, Hassan Rouhani.

“In the name of the Syrian people, I congratulate you and the people of Iran on this historic achievement.”

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Benjamin Netanyahu during an earlier, tense press conference (Reuters)

Israel and the Sunni Arab world have set aside old grievances to stand together against the West’s engagement with Iran.

The more strident denunciations came from Israel, which regards Iran as a direct threat. Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, said the country would not be bound by what he called a “stunning historic mistake”.

“Israel is not bound by this deal with Iran,” he said in a televised address hours after the conclusion of the accord. “Iran continues to seek our destruction and we will defend ourselves.”

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

Mr Netanyahu, who had condemned the deal even before it had been announced, said its terms failed to achieve the goal of denying Iran the capacity to build a nuclear bomb while, by lifting sanctions, enabled its theocratic rulers to increase their support for groups Israel considers terrorists.

“The bottom line of this very bad deal is exactly as Iran’s President Rouhani said today – the international community is removing the sanctions and Iran is keeping its nuclear programme,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »


CENSORSHIP: She’s 28. She Drew a Cartoon. Now She’s On Trial in Iran. #freeAtena

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Iranian cartoonist Atena Farghadani stands trial for charges that include insulting members of parliament and spreading propaganda against the system.

Mahsa Alimardani reports: First, Iran’s leaders restricted access to contraception. Then artist Atena Farghadani wrote a cartoon depicting them as animals.

“The image that led to her arrest came while Iran sought to outlaw IUDs and vasectomies, as Iran’s leaders pushed to increase the nation’s population.”

What came next for the 28-year-old artist? Arrest. Solitary confinement. A heart attack. And on Tuesday, the start of her trial on charges of spreading anti-Tehran propaganda and insulting the country’s lawmakers and supreme leader.

The image that led to her arrest came while Iran sought to outlaw IUDs and vasectomies, as Iran’s leaders pushed to increase the nation’s population.

She was initially jailed for five months in 2014 at the notorious Evin prison. She was released in December, but was detained again after publicly discussing her mistreatment by prison guards.

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“She was initially jailed for five months in 2014 at the notorious Evin prison. She was released in December, but was detained again after publicly discussing her mistreatment by prison guards.”

Three weeks after her second confinement, Atena went on a hunger strike to protest the poor prison conditions. The move led to a heart attack and a brief loss of consciousness in February, her lawyer told Amnesty International. Atena Farghadani has since been moved to another detention center and stopped her hunger strike, the human rights group reports, but advocates remain concerned about her health. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Hey Bitches, There’s No Need to Spin Using ‘Fact Sheets’ So Early On’: Iran Smacks Down U.S. with Accusations of Lying

Javad Zarif New York

Following the signing of an interim agreement with Iran aimed at scaling back its nuclear work, Iran accused the United States of lying about details of the agreement

LAUSANNE, Switzerland —  reports: Just hours after the announcement of what the United States characterized as a historic agreement with Iran over its nuclear program, the country’s leading negotiator lashed out at the Obama administration for lying about the details of a tentative framework.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused the Obama administration of misleading the American people and Congress in a fact sheet it released following the culmination of negotiations with the Islamic Republic.

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Zarif bragged in an earlier press conference with reporters that the United States had tentatively agreed to let it continue the enrichment of uranium, the key component in a nuclear bomb, as well as key nuclear research.

Zarif additionally said Iran would have all nuclear-related sanctions lifted once a final deal is signed and that the country would not be forced to shut down any of its currently operating nuclear installations.

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Following a subsequent press conference by Secretary of State John Kerry—and release of a administration fact sheet on Iranian concessions—Zarif lashed out on Twitter over what he dubbed lies.

“The solutions are good for all, as they stand,” he tweeted. “There is no need to spin using ‘fact sheets’ so early on.”

Zarif went on to push back against claims by Kerry that the sanctions relief would be implemented in a phased fashion—and only after Iran verifies that it is not conducting any work on the nuclear weapons front.

Zarif, echoing previous comments, said the United States has promised an immediate termination of sanctions.

“Iran/5+1 Statement: ‘US will cease the application of ALL nuclear-related secondary economic and financial sanctions.’ Is this gradual?” he wrote on Twitter.

He then suggested a correction: “Iran/P5+1 Statement: ‘The EU will TERMINATE the implementation of ALL nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions’. How about this?”

The pushback from Iran’s chief diplomat follows a pattern of similar accusations by senior Iranian political figures after the announcement of previous agreements. Read the rest of this entry »


Derby Murdock: Iran’s Tentacles of Destruction Dim Confidence in a Nuclear-Arms Deal

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Terrorists You Can Trust

Deroy Murdock writes: ‘Death to America,” Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei told a screaming crowd in Tehran Saturday. “The politics of America is to create insecurity.”

“Far scarier than Khamenei’s words are Iran’s actions. Its long record of support for Islamic terrorism demonstrates why it cannot be trusted to comply with anything its leaders endorse.”

With U.S.-Iranian atomic-bomb talks in full swing, Khamenei’s crack was not exactly what diplomats call a confidence-building measure. Of course, Khamenei offered no olive branch. Realizing that Obama is desperate for any deal to burnish his leaden legacy — even one so flimsy that White House chief of staff Dennis McDonough admits it’s “a non-binding agreement” — Khamenei can say whatever he wants.

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Obama will keep begging the mullahs to sign a piece of paper that he will probably slip past Congress and send to the United Nations for approval — the Constitution be damned.

Far scarier than Khamenei’s words are Iran’s actions. Its long record of support for Islamic terrorism demonstrates why it cannot be trusted to comply with anything its leaders endorse. Read the rest of this entry »


Eliana Johnson: Rabbi Shmuley’s Full-Page Ad in Washington Post Slamming Iran Deal

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Eliana Johnson writes: Shmuley Boteach, the outspoken Orthodox rabbi, is going up with a full-page advertisement in Tuesday’s Washington Post blasting the president for negotiating with Iran and pleading with him not to strike a deal with the ayatollah.

Shmuley Boteach

“Fighting al-Qaeda made you like Churchill,” the ad’s headline reads. “Appeasing Iran will make you like Chamberlain.” A photograph of former British prime minister Neville Chamberlain, waving the infamous Munich agreement over his head, along with the New York Times’s coverage of the moment in 1938, are superimposed over Obama’s face. The Times, the ad notes, endorsed the Munich agreement as “the price of peace.”

“We look to you as the leader of the free world and our friend. to understand that Jews today are being murdered around the globe. We need you to stand up for us.”

“The price of peace,” it says, “turned out to be 60 million lives.”

The ad, which is paid for by the World Values Network, an organization founded by Boteach and intended to foster Jewish values, also says that even those awed by the president’s resolve in foreign affairs are now “mystified” by his “willingness to appease” Iran. 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.

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“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.

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“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 »


HOAX: ‘Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei Has Issued a Fatwa Against the Development of Nuclear Weapons’

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Why the Phantom Fatwa?

I wrote about President Obama’s March 19 statement on the Persian new yearin “Our Supreme Leader is a Supreme Fool.” In the statement Obama asserted: “Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons, and President Rouhani has said that Iran would never develop a nuclear weapon.”

It Doesn’t Exist

Obama’s assertion follows closely on Secretary of State Kerry’s assertion to the same effect. I quoted Kerry’s citation of the fatwa in “Of fatuity and fatwas.”

The fatwa, however, doesn’t exist. It has never been seen. As Andrew McCarthy explains, the fatwa is a patent hoax. Andy writes (emphasis in original): “The invaluable Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) has done extensive research into compilations of Khamenei’s published fatwas…No such fatwa has ever been published.” Andy links to MEMRI’s two 2013 posts in search of the fatwa in the omitted sentence.

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In a post at the Weekly Standard, Tom Joscelyn now simply asks of these gentlemen to whom the protection of our national security has been entrusted: “Produce the fatwa.” This is a perfectly reasonable request.

We heard the incessant yammering of the left about President Bush’s scrupulously accurate “16 words” in the 2003 State of the Union Address. The deal the Obama administration is about to produce with the Islamic Republic is enormously consequential. Obama and Kerry would have us believe that the fatwa they cite carries some significant weight in their case, otherwise why the repeated references to it? Yet it doesn’t exist. Read the rest of this entry »


President of Iran Questions Obama Citizenship; Halts Nuclear Talks

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 reports: Nuclear negotiations came to a halt Friday as Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, demanded to see President Obama’s long-form birth certificate before continuing discussions. Khamenei’s decision came after a letter sent by 47 Senate Republicans revealed that any deal signed with the President would be null and void because of a law requiring that he be born in the United States.

 “Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, demanded to see President Obama’s long-form birth certificate before continuing discussions.”

The letter, signed by the entire Republican leadership, expressed concern that Khamenei may trust Obama simply because they are both Arabs.

“It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations that you may not fully understand our government, specifically Article 2, Section 1 of the Declaration of Independence,” the Senators explained in the letter. “It states that the president must be born in the United States and not in a foreign country such as Kenya, Indonesia or Hawaii. Since Barak Hussein Obama is not the real president, there’s no point in negotiating with him.”

Since Barak Hussein Obama is not the real president, there’s no point in negotiating with him.”

Khamenei, who ignored a previous correspondence from the Senators saying a deal must be approved by Congress, admitted his faith was shaken by the latest letter. After hearing about a statement from Obama’s paternal grandmother saying the president was born in Kenya, the supreme leader decided it would be imprudent to continue with the negotiations.

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“On the positive side, Khamenei noted that he was pleased to learn that Obama is secretly a devout Muslim.”

“While my concerns were temporarily alleviated when I found a copy of the long-form birth certificate online, I was dismayed to read a Drudge Report article revealing it to be a forgery,” Khamenei explained. “I then contacted a prominent U.S. businessman, real estate mogul Donald Trump, who told me his investigators had made shocking discoveries about Obama’s country of birth.” Read the rest of this entry »


Peggy Noonan: ‘It’s Not Really Hunger That’s Propelling Hillary Now, it’s Newton’s 1st law: Objects in Motion Tend to Stay in Motion’

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Hillary Seems Tired, Not Hungry

Peggy Noonan writes: Maybe we’re not stuck in Scandal Land.

For a while I’ve assumed Hillary Clinton would run for her party’s nomination and be a formidable candidate in the general election. After Tuesday’s news conference I’m not so sure.

Did she seem to you a happy, hungry warrior? She couldn’t make eye contact with her questioners, and when she did she couldn’t sustain it. She looked at the ceiling and down at notes, trying, it seemed, to stick to or remember scripted arguments. She was shaky. She couldn’t fake good cheer and confidence. It is seven years since she ran for office. You could see it.

“This wasn’t the work of a national, high-grade political-response team, it was the thrown-together mess of someone who knew she was guilty of self-serving actions, who didn’t herself believe what she was saying, who didn’t think the press would swallow it, and who didn’t appear to care.”

Her claims—she stayed off the State Department email system for “convenience,” she thought “it would be easier to carry just one device,” her server “contains personal communications from my husband and me”—were so transparent, so quickly disprovable. Minutes later journalists were posting earlier statements in which she said she carries two devices, and The Wall Street Journal’s report saying Bill has sent only two emails in his life.

“She didn’t look hungry for the battle, she looked tired of the battle.”

This wasn’t high-class spin. These were not respectable dodges. They didn’t make you grudgingly tip your hat at a gift for duplicity. I could almost feel an army of oppo people of both parties saying, “You can do better than that, Hillary!”

This wasn’t the work of a national, high-grade political-response team, it was the thrown-together mess of someone who knew she was guilty of self-serving actions, who didn’t herself believe what she was saying, who didn’t think the press would swallow it, and who didn’t appear to care.

She didn’t look hungry for the battle, she looked tired of the battle.

“Defenses of Mrs. Clinton were ad hoc, improvised, flat-footed. It all looks disorderly, as if no one’s in charge, no one has drawn clear lines of responsibility or authority. We hear about loyalists, intimates, allies, pals, hangers-on, Friends of Hill. People buzz around her like bees on random paths to the queen.”

Everyone knows what the scandal is. She didn’t want a paper trail of her decisions and actions as secretary of state. She didn’t want to be questioned about them, ever. So she didn’t join the government’s paper-trail system, in this case the State Department’s official email system, which retains and archives records. She built her own private system and got to keep complete control of everything she’d done or written. She no doubt assumed no one outside would ask and no one inside would insist—she’s Hillary, don’t mess with her.

“Is this thing really happening? Is the much-vaunted campaign coming together?”

She knew the story might blow but maybe it wouldn’t, worth the chance considering the payoff: secrecy. If what she did became public she’d deal with it then. When this week she was forced to, she stonewalled: “The server will remain private.”

Is it outrageous? Of course. Those are U.S. government documents she concealed and destroyed. The press is not covering for her and hard questions are being asked because everyone knows what the story is. It speaks of who she is and how she will govern. Everyone knows it.

She knows it too. Read the rest of this entry »


Representing the 1%: Michelle Obama Celebrates Iranian Holiday at White House

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John Nolte writes: Why did God invent New Media? Because when the First Lady of the United States appeases a lunatic Islamic regime like Iran, the mainstream media is going to cover that fact up. The fact here is that Wednesday at the White House the First Lady celebrated Nowruz, which White House Dossier describes as the “Iranian festival of spring that marks the beginning of the Persian new year.”

There is absolutely nothing wrong with honoring the many events celebrated within this magnificent e pluribus unum melting pot of ours. The problem is that this is not about honoring a group of people who make up less than 1% of our population. When the Obama White House celebrates the Amish holiday of “Old Christmas” be sure to fire me up a flare.

That spectacle wasn’t about anything other than kissing up to the women-oppressing, homosexual-murdering Islamic theocrats in Iran who have only three goals: 1) Get a nuclear weapon. 2) Use that weapon to wipe out Israel. 3) Jump into a pile of 72 virgins. Read the rest of this entry »


Byron York: A War of Obama’s Making

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Just in case there’s any confusion, the Republicans remind Iran that the next U.S. president will be inaugurated in January 2017, about 22 months from now, while at least some of the GOP senators who signed the letter will remain in office for many years to come

Byron YorkFeatured Image -- 64100 writes: The White House and some Democrats are livid over congressional Republican attempts to circumvent President Obama’s authority to make a nuclear arms deal with Iran. They have a right to be angry — but not to be surprised.

There’s a war going on between the executive and legislative branches in which Obama has shown contempt for Congress‘ constitutional powers, and now, in response, Congress is showing contempt for the president’s constitutional powers. It’s an unfortunate situation, but it’s what Obama has wrought.

“It should go without saying that the reason Republicans are doing these things is because they are deeply concerned about a possible Iran deal. But another reason they’re acting is because they can. On Iran and before that on immigration, healthcare, and other matters, Obama has pushed his executive authority beyond its proper limits…”

The latest development is an open letter to Iranian leaders written by GOP Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and signed by 46 other Senate Republicans. Released Monday morning, the letter reminds Iran that Obama is negotiating with them on his own, without the formal approval or support of Congress. Obama is not pursuing a treaty, which would have to be agreed to by the Senate, or a joint executive-congressional agreement, which would also require Congress’ approval.

“It is not good to invite a foreign leader to address Congress in a campaign against the U.S. president. It is not good to undermine the president’s authority to conduct foreign policy. But it’s not a good thing to undermine Congress’ authority to make laws, either. And to threaten even more undermining in the future, as Obama has done.”

“We will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei,” the Republican senators write. “The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”

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Just in case there’s any confusion, the Republicans remind Iran that the next U.S. president will be inaugurated in January 2017, about 22 months from now, while at least some of the GOP senators who signed the letter will remain in office for many years to come.

The Cotton letter comes on the heels of House Speaker John Boehner‘s decision to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress in what amounted to an extended attack on Obama’s Iran negotiations.

It should go without saying that the reason Republicans are doing these things is because they are deeply concerned about a possible Iran deal. But another reason they’re acting is because they can. On Iran and before that on immigration, healthcare, and other matters, Obama has pushed his executive authority beyond its proper limits, on the flimsy pretense that he is entitled to act unilaterally if Congress does not pass bills he wants. Could anyone fail to anticipate that in response Congress would stretch its own authority, too? Read the rest of this entry »


Iran’s Leading Film Critic Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Reviews ‘American Sniper

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Nasser Karimi reports: Iran’s supreme leader has criticized the film “American Sniper,” saying the movie about a U.S. soldier fighting in Iraq encourages violence against Muslims, a state-run newspaper reported Tuesday.

The comments by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, published in the daily IRAN Farsi newspaper, come amid renewed criticism of the West by the leader as his country negotiates with world powers over its contested nuclear program.

“The movie ‘Sniper’ that is made by Hollywood encourages a Christian or non-Muslim youngster to harass and offend the Muslims as far as they could…You are seeing what sort of propaganda there are against Muslims in Europe and the U.S.”

— Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

The newspaper quoted Khamenei as saying he hadn’t watched the film directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper, but had heard about its plot from others. The film focuses on the life of U.S. Navy SEAL marksman Chris Kyle, who with 160 confirmed kills is considered the most lethal sniper in American military history.

“The movie ‘Sniper‘ that is made by Hollywood encourages a Christian or non-Muslim youngster to harass and offend the Muslims as far as they could,” the newspaper quoted Khamenei as saying.

Khamenei also reportedly discussed neo-Nazis attacking Muslims in Germany, saying Muslims have no safety in the West.

“You are seeing what sort of propaganda there are against Muslims in Europe and the U.S.,” he reportedly said.

The newspaper said Khamenei made the comments while meeting representatives of Iranian religious minorities in the country’s parliament three weeks ago. The newspaper did not explain why it was publishing the comments now. Read the rest of this entry »


Iran Publishes Plan to ‘Eliminate’ Israel

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 reports: Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei published early Sunday a 9-step plan to “eliminate” Israel, prompting Israel’s prime minister to file a formal complaint with Western negotiators involved in nuclear talks with Tehran.

Khamenei’s official Twitter account on Sunday tweeted out the 9-step plan explaining “the proper way of eliminating Israel.”

“The only means of bringing Israeli crimes to an end is the elimination of this regime.”

— Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

“Why should & how can #Israel be eliminated? Ayatollah Khamenei’s answer to 9 key questions,” Khamenei tweeted, along with a graphic illustrating the plan to annihilate Israel.

“There is no moderation in Iran. It is unrepentant, unreformed.”

— Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

“The only means of bringing Israeli crimes to an end is the elimination of this regime,” Khamenei wrote. “And of course the elimination of Israel does not mean the massacre of the Jewish people in the region. The Islamic Republic has proposed a practical and logical mechanism for this to international communities.”

Khamenei accuses “the fake Zionist regime” of committing acts of “infanticide, homicide, violence, and iron fist while boasts about it blatantly [sic].”

Israel’s enemies must commit to “armed resistance” until Israel is eliminated, Khamenei says. Read the rest of this entry »


Ferguson: Said Who? Global Panic of 2014 Tweet of the Month: Ayatollah Khamenei

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Reality Check: Iranian University Students Are ‘Cyber-War Agents’, Says Ayatollah Khamenei

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Frances Martel  writes:  The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei, released a statement this week urging university students to “refine your souls and to approach God,” but also to prepare for “cyber-war.” According to Iran’s Mehr News Agency, the Ayatollah released a message urging students to “ready for such war wholeheartedly.”

The Mehr report includes a number of disjointed messages about self-improvement and the future of the nation, telling students that they should strive for achievement but never forget their duty to the nation. “You are the cyber-war agents and such a war requires Ammar-like insight and Malik Ashtar-like (two Prophet’s Companions in early Islamic history) resistance,” the Ayatollah’s message reads, “get yourselves ready for such war wholeheartedly.”

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Yes They Can! Hassan Rouhani Music Video: Iran’s answer to Obama Personality-Cult Presidency

An MTV-style video shows Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, riding high after 100 days in office

, and Naeim Karimi report: With its gentle acoustic guitar and message of tolerance and world peace, the MTV-style video has the feel of a celebrity charity song. But as a succession of young men and women sing in front of the microphones, the presence of a sombre, white-turbaned cleric shows that this is no routine pop production.

Still triumphant from his recent nuclear deal with the West, Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, got a new starring role last week – this time in a music video marking his 100th day in office. Given that musical instruments are banned on state television, its depiction of a male guitarist an d female drummer would itself be enough to annoy the Islamic Republic’s hardliners. But the lyrics, too, could not be further from the “Death to America” rhetoric associated with Iran during the last 30 years.

“Let our hearts be cleaned of resentment, let conciliation and friendship substitute animosity,” the song goes. “The road ahead is long and I am a new traveller.” Shot by the team that did Mr Rouhani’s summer election campaign, the video, entitled “New Traveler”, attracted nearly half a millions viewers in its first day online, many of them noting its clear similarities to Barack Obama’s 2008 “Yes We Can” film.

And much though Iran’s hardliners may resent it, right now the comparison seems justified.

For 100 days in, Mr Rouhani is riding high on the same kind of popularity that Mr Obama enjoyed at the start of his first term, with reform-minded Iranians finally hopeful that the country is heading for better times.

Read the rest of this entry »


When Mark Steyn columns include Johnny Cash song lyrics, we know we’re in trouble…

Surrender in Geneva

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Iran got everything it wanted

Mark Steyn writes: ‘Iran, U.S. Set to Establish Joint Chamber of Commerce within Month,” reports Agence-France Presse. Government official Abolfazi Hejazi tells the English-language newspaper Iran Daily that the Islamic Republic will shortly commence direct flights to America. Passenger jets, not ICBMs, one assumes — although, as with everything else, the details have yet to be worked out. Still, the historic U.S.–Iranian rapprochement seems to be galloping along, and any moment now the cultural-exchange program will be announced and you’ll have to book early for the Tehran Ballet’s season at the Kennedy Center (“Death to America” in repertory with “Death to the Great Satan”).

In Geneva, the participants came to the talks with different goals: The Americans and Europeans wanted an agreement; the Iranians wanted nukes. Each party got what it came for. Before the deal, the mullahs’ existing facilities were said to be within four to seven weeks of nuclear “breakout”; under the new constraints, they’ll be eight to nine weeks from breakout. In return, they get formal international recognition of their enrichment program, and the gutting of sanctions — and everything they already have is, as they say over at Obamacare, grandfathered in.

Many pundits reached for the obvious appeasement analogies, but Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal argued that Geneva is actually worse than Munich. In 1938, facing a German seizure of the Sudetenland, the French and British prime ministers were negotiating with Berlin from a position of profound military weakness: It’s easy to despise Chamberlain with the benefit of hindsight, less easy to give an honest answer as to what one would have done differently playing a weak hand across the table from Hitler 75 years ago. This time round, a superpower and its allies accounting for over 50 percent of the planet’s military spending was facing a militarily insignificant country with a ruined economy and no more than two to three months’ worth of hard currency — and they gave it everything it wanted.

Read the rest of this entry »


Cause for Celebration?

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In a speech in Tehran this past week to a crowd of thousands that was was broadcast live, Iranian Supreme leader Khamenei attacked the U.S., France, and Israel, saying that “Zionist officials cannot be called humans, they are like animals,” that “the Israeli regime is doomed to failure and annihilation,” that the “Zionist regime” is the “rabid dog of the region.”

A Bad and Morally Indefensible Deal | National Review Online


Lucy and the Nuclear Football

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If you grew up any time in the last half-century, chances are you have fond memories of Charles Schulz’s iconic “Peanuts” comic strip and its hard-luck protagonist, Charlie Brown. Each week brought a new misfortune for the unhappy Charlie, but never more so than when his crafty friend Lucy offered to play football — a game that, no matter how many times it was attempted, invariably ended with Charlie flat on his back.

These days, that little vignette is a particularly apt analogy for the Obama administration’s Iran policy. Time and again, the Iranian regime has succeeded in frustrating the White House’s earnest attempts at diplomatic “engagement.” So it was last week, when — on the heels of a very public diplomatic charm offensive aimed at the West — Iran’s new, ostensibly moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, struck a familiar tone during his visit to the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York.

Ahead of Rouhani’s visit, hopes in Washington had run high for some sort of meeting between him and President Obama. But Rouhani’s entourage snubbed an offer from the White House for just such a symbolic “encounter,” deeming the logistics to be “too complicated.” And when Rouhani took to the podium at Turtle Bay last Tuesday, his address contained the same tired litanies about Western imperialism and injustice that have become de rigueur excuses for the Iranian regime’s anti-Americanism and nuclear drive. Read the rest of this entry »


Israel Must Be ‘Eliminated’

Netanyahu has to take Iran’s words seriously. Why doesn’t Obama?

“To see what is in front of ones nose needs a constant struggle.”—George Orwell

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the United Nations today, which also happens to be Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. The timing is apt because when it comes to Iran and Israel, the hardest thing for some people to see or hear is what Iranian leaders say in front of the worlds nose.

“Iran has been around for the last seven, 10 thousand years. They [the Israelis] have been occupying those territories for the last 60 to 70 years, with the support and force of the Westerners. They have no roots there in history,” Mr. Ahmadinejad told reporters and editors in New York on Monday.

“We do believe that they have found themselves at a dead end and they are seeking new adventures in order to escape this dead end. Iran will not be damaged with foreign bombs. We dont even count them as any part of any equation for Iran. During a historical phase, they [the Israelis] represent minimal disturbances that come into the picture and are then eliminated.”

Note that word—”eliminated.” When Iranians talk about Israel, this intention of a final solution keeps coming up. In October 2005, Mr. Ahmadinejad, quoting the Ayatollah Khomeini, said Israel “must be wiped off the map.” Lest anyone miss the point, the Iranian President said in June 2008 that Israel “has reached the end of its function and will soon disappear off the geographical domain.”

He has company among Iranian leaders. In a televised speech in February, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei called Israel a “cancerous tumor that should be cut and will be cut,” adding that “from now on, in any place, if any nation or any group that confronts the Zionist regime, we will endorse and we will help. We have no fear of expressing this.

“Major General Hassan Firouzabadi, chief of staff of the armed forces, added in May that “the Iranian nation is standing for its cause that is the full annihilation of Israel.”

This pledge of erasing an entire state goes back to the earliest days of the Iranian revolution. “One of our major points is that Israel must be destroyed,” Ayatollah Khomeini said in the 1980s.

Former Iranian President Akbar Rafsanjani—often described as a moderate in Western media accounts—had this to say in 2001: “If one day, the Islamic world is also equipped with weapons like those that Israel possesses now, then the imperialists strategy will reach a standstill because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality.”

So for Iran it is “not irrational” to contemplate the deaths of millions of Muslims in exchange for the end of Israel because millions of other Muslims will survive, but the Jewish state will not.The worlds civilized nations typically denounce such statements, as the U.S. State Department denounced Mr. Ahamadinejads on Monday. But denouncing them is not the same as taking them seriously…

via Review & Outlook– WSJ.com