Thursday, September 10, 2015

But how do Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson feel?

More than 50 intelligence analysts working out of the U.S. military's Central Command have formally complained that their reports on ISIS and al Qaeda’s branch in Syria were being inappropriately altered by senior officials, The Daily Beast has learned.
The complaints spurred the Pentagon’s inspector general to open an investigation into the alleged manipulation of intelligence. The fact that so many people complained suggests there are deep-rooted, systemic problems in how the U.S. military command charged with the war against the self-proclaimed Islamic State assesses intelligence.
“The cancer was within the senior level of the intelligence command,” one defense official said.
Two senior analysts at CENTCOM signed a written complaint sent to the Defense Department inspector general in July alleging that the reports, some of which were briefed to President Obama, portrayed the terror groups as weaker than the analysts believe they are. The reports were changed by CENTCOM higher-ups to adhere to the administration’s public line that the U.S. is winning the battle against ISIS and al Nusra, al Qaeda’s branch in Syria, the analysts claim.
That complaint was supported by 50 other analysts, some of whom have complained about politicizing of intelligence reports for months. That’s according to 11 individuals who are knowledgeable about the details of the report and who spoke to The Daily Beast on condition of anonymity.
The accusations suggest that a large number of people tracking the inner workings of the terror groups think that their reports are being manipulated to fit a public narrative. The allegations echoed charges that political appointees and senior officials cherry-picked intelligence about Iraq’s supposed weapons program in 2002 and 2003.
The two signatories to the complaint were described as the ones formally lodging it, and the additional analysts are willing and able to back up the substance of the allegations with concrete examples.
Some of those CENTCOM analysts described the sizeable cadre of protesting analysts as a “revolt” by intelligence professionals who are paid to give their honest assessment, based on facts, and not to be influenced by national-level policy. The analysts have accused senior-level leaders, including the director of intelligence and his deputy in CENTCOM, of changing their analyses to be more in line with the Obama administration’s public contention that the fight against ISIS and al Qaeda is making progress. The analysts take a more pessimistic view about how military efforts to destroy the groups are going.
The large number of analysts who complained to the Pentagon inspector general hasn’t been previously reported. Some of them are assigned to work at CENTCOM, the U.S. military’s command for the Middle East and Central Asia, but are officially employed by the Defense Intelligence Agency.
The complaints allege that in some cases key elements of intelligence reports were removed, resulting in a document that didn’t accurately capture the analysts’ conclusions, sources familiar with the protest said. But the complaint also goes beyond alleged altering of reports and accuses some senior leaders at CENTCOM of creating an unprofessional work environment. One person who knows the contents of the written complaint sent to the inspector general said it used the word “Stalinist” to describe the tone set by officials overseeing CENTCOM’s analysis.
Many described a climate in which analysts felt they could not give a candid assessment of the situation in Iraq and Syria. Some felt it was a product of commanders protecting their career advancement by putting the best spin on the war.
Some reports crafted by the analysts that were too negative in their assessment of the war were sent back the chain of the command or not shared up the chain, several analysts said. Still others, feeling the climate around them, self-censored so their reports affirmed already-held beliefs.
Yet another example of incredible stupidity by Barack Obama and his laughably named "national security" team. Jazz Shaw:
This will no doubt come as shocking news… to Barack Obama and his press secretary.
A new report claims that scores of intelligence analysts (read: spies) have begun talking out of school and are complaining that their reports on major terror groups have been “inappropriately altered” to paint a brighter picture before being passed on to the President and other leaders. Who could have possibly suspected that this was going on? (Well, aside from everyone else, I suppose.) Either way, the details are troubling.
Plenty of independent journalists on the international beat have been, shall we say, a bit skeptical about the sunny reports we were hearing in the fall and winter of 2014. Our airstrikes were definitely doing some damage and occasionally taking out some leaders, but without hard intel data it was tough to document. Still, how many hints did we really need? [...]
If we were anywhere near having ISIS under control the world wouldn’t be dealing with the worst refugee crisis since World War 2 right now. That’s not to say the fight is over, but perhaps the Leader of the Free World should be getting some slightly less filtered information. Of course, that’s assuming that he really wants to hear it.
And he does not. Because he would then have to acknowledge that the crisis is his doing:

The worst European refugee crisis since the end of World War II is taking place before our eyes.  The news on television is filled with horrible images, but the one most shocking and symbolic of what is going on is that of a three-year-old Syrian boy who washed up on a Turkish beach. Europe, with its fluid borders, is woefully unprepared to deal with the situation.  In Germany, Angela Merkel has agreed to open the gates, and says that Germany will let in 800,000 asylum seekers this year alone. Austria says that it too will allow some in. Hungry tried refusing to allow refugees to board trains to reach these destinations, but had to reverse its policy.

While many foreign leaders have spoken out, there is one who has said not a word. That leader, as you most probably can guess, is Barack Obama. And how could he? His policies, after all, have ended in this tragedy. It is, as Michael Gerson writes in a powerful Washington Post column, the result of his failure in Syria.

Obama said a “red line” in Syria could not be crossed; then Bashar Al-Assad crossed it—and nothing happened except for temporarily harsher rhetoric from the president. Now, Assad drops barrel bombs on his own people, filled with supposedly outlawed chemical weapons. Obama, of course, had plenty of measures which he could have ordered that would have stopped or limited Assad’s war on his own people.  Instead, he ignored the advice of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and CIA chief Gen. David Petraeus, who favored using screened moderate forces of the Sunni majority willing to fight and supplying them with shoulder-to-air missiles that would have brought down the helicopters Assad uses to carry out the bombings.  Instead, he did nothing.

The reason is simple. Obama apparently believes that the way to achieve stability in the Middle East is to move towards an alliance with Iran. Achieving a nuclear deal with the terrorist state was paramount and the president did not want anything to interfere with it. Attacking Assad, who is backed by Iran, might upset Ayatollah Khamenei and hence kill the deal.  So all we got from Obama were toothless statements that Assad had to go and that he should “step aside,” which Mr. Assad ignored without any consequences.

Yet more people -- many, many more people -- sacrificed on the altar of this utterly stupid Iran Deal. As I said in an earlier post:
To get this deal -- easily the stupidest foreign policy initiative in my lifetime and the most disastrous Western initiative in Iran since at least Marcus Crassus' invasion of Parthia in 56 BC (in which he decided to invade a land famous for its horse archers with an immense army of little more than heavy infantry) -- Obama had to get Russia on board with sanctions. Vlad Putin's Russia -- the same people selling the mullahs SA-300 missile systems to defend their nuclear sites. So he had to do things to make nice to Vlad Putin -- like pull our missile defense out of Poland and not stand up for Ukraine. So now Putin has invaded Ukraine and is threatening to invade Poland, the Baltic republics, and Moldova to re-establish the Russian Empire. Lord knows what Obama promised to give China to get them on board.
So, to get this deal that screws the US and empowers the evil, barbaric Iranian mullahs who believe in imposing shari'a law, Obama was willing to sacrifice not just the people of the United States and Israel, but of Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Moldova. Not to mention the Middle Eastern states the mullahs have in their sights: Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman, countries that will now have to get nuclear weapons of their own to protect themselves against the Iranian mullahs.
All of these people sacrificed at the altar of Blame America First. All of it -- all of it -- just so Obama and Kerry could blame America first just one more time.
Moe Lane puts it more succinctly:
Although contra the Daily Beast, this situation is not particularly like what happened in 2003. What happened in 2003 was, essentially, that George W. Bush decided to take no chances in trusting the good intentions of an uncontrollable dictator. What’s happening now is that the military cadre that interacts with the Executive Branch is too ready to tell the Executive Branch what it wants to hear, and the Executive Branch is collectively too arrogant – or just too stupid – to realize that this is happening.
The cure?  Go out and vote next year. And for the love of God, don’t vote in a way that elects another Democrat.  There’s wet rot in that party’s support beams at this point**.
*Barack Obama is proving to be a quite useful baseline at what blithering incompetence at foreign affairs actually looks like. I mean. Slave markets. Sacrificial altars. We were supposed to be past that sort of thing.
**No, the Republicans are not as bad. Slave markets. Sacrificial altars. Take. This. Seriously.

The sad truth about Obama's foreign policy

From Glenn Reynolds:
In the Middle East, everything Obama has touched has failed disastrously — and he’s had help in this failure from Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. With 2016 coming, will that provide an opening for Democratic candidates — like Webb, perhaps, or Bernie Sanders — who are untouched by these failures? Maybe so. But a bigger question is what burdens will America, and the world, have to bear because of this awful record. I fear that they will be very heavy indeed.

He stole my Lando Calrissian meme!

Stephen Green: This Iran Deal (still) keeps getting worse all the time.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Why is Donald Trump so popular?

Because the leadership of the national Republican Party is worthless. Utterly worthless. Corrupt. Incompetent. Dishonest. Greedy. And above all stupid.

When they can't even stop the disastrous, incredibly stupid Iran Deal from going through ... heck, when they enable the Iran Deal to go through ...

Never have so many been so stupid on so serious and so obvious an issue. I'm with AllahPundit on this one:
Thus ends a breathtaking performance of Republican failure theater. Once upon a time, knowing that your party controlled both chambers of Congress would have given you great comfort that a terrible treaty negotiated with a terrorist power could never become law in the United States.
I think this makes it official: I’m on the Trump bandwagon. Hail Caesar.
Trump certainly can't do any worse.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Obama at his most vile

President Obama went to American University to deliver a defense of his proposed deal with the Iranian mullahs. Bridget Johnson at PJ Media gives the highlights. Or, more accurately, the lowlights. In a presidency filled with a preference for using American power against the American people rather than for them (see, eg, Lois Lerner, EPA, etc.), this was, as Hot Air's Allahpundit calls it, "probably the lowest speech of his presidency -- so far," while Power Line's John Hinderaker wonders if it was "Barack Obama's lowest moment yet?"

Hinderaker gives a devastating takedown of the speech, which, as he notes, "was the usual exercise in deception and demagoguery, and (Obama) skated up to the edge of accusing opponents of the deal–a majority of Americans, apparently–of treason."

Of course, the question becomes "Treason against whom?" Treason against the US doesn't matter to Obama. See, e.g. Bowe Bergdahl, Edward Snowden, or, for that matter, Bill Ayers.

I can't do Hinderaker's piece justice. You'll have to read it all yourself. But I'll try to give a few of the best parts:
After some initial reminiscence about the Cold War, Obama leaped right into misrepresenting the agreement’s terms:
After two years of negotiations, we have achieved a detailed arrangement that permanently prohibits Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
The “prohibition” consists of a pious declaration by Iran which it can repudiate at any time. The agreement contains no provisions that will permanently impede Iran’s ability to acquire nuclear weapons. The provisions that (if adhered to) would materially impede Iran’s nuclear weapons program expire in no more than 15 years.
Plenty more where that came from:
Obama recites Iraq’s recent history, but leaves out a key point:
Today, Iraq remains gripped by sectarian conflict, and the emergence of al Qaeda in Iraq has now evolved into ISIL. And ironically, the single greatest beneficiary in the region of that war was the Islamic Republic of Iran, which saw its strategic position strengthened by the removal of its long-standing enemy, Saddam Hussein.
Obama neglects to mention his own role: in 2011 he prematurely withdrew all American troops from Iraq, crowing that Iraq was then “sovereign, stable and self-reliant,” a fact that Vice-President Joe Biden hailed as one of Obama’s “great achievements.” Iraq was sovereign and stable but not, as military leaders warned, entirely self-reliant. It was Obama’s needless withdrawal of the last American troops that allowed Iraq to spiral toward chaos and permitted ISIS–the Islamic State in Syria–to move into Iraq. But Obama has never once in his life taken responsibility for anything.
The numbers don't lie:
Who is to blame for Iran’s nuclear program? Why, President Bush, of course!
When the Bush administration took office, Iran had no centrifuges — the machines necessary to produce material for a bomb — that were spinning to enrich uranium. But despite repeated warnings from the United States government, by the time I took office, Iran had installed several thousand centrifuges….
IAEA reports indicate that Iran’s Natanz facility had around 5,500 centrifuges when Obama took office, and over 15,000 by May 2015. With the Fordow facility, Iran now has around 19,000 centrifuges operating. But it’s all Bush’s fault!
And the kicker:
No doubt the worst portion of Obama’s speech is the one that has gotten the most attention. Note how Obama walks right up to the line of accusing Republicans in Congress of treason:
Just because Iranian hardliners chant “Death to America” does not mean that that’s what all Iranians believe. (Applause.)
No, but it is what Iran’s rulers believe. Iran’s Supreme Leader frequently leads mobs in chants of “Death to America.” Does Obama think he is kidding?
In fact, it’s those hardliners who are most comfortable with the status quo. It’s those hardliners chanting “Death to America” who have been most opposed to the deal. They’re making common cause with the Republican caucus. (Laughter and applause.)
If Obama had said that the Republican caucus is making common cause with Iran’s hardliners, it would have been an unambiguous accusation of treason. By phrasing it the other way around–the hardliners are making common cause with Republicans–Obama gives himself a slight margin of deniability. But either way, it is a disgusting slander.
It is also delusional. Iran’s hardliners are the regime in power. The mullahs are not aligning themselves with Republicans; on the contrary, they are trumpeting the fact that they got everything they wanted in their negotiations with John Kerry and Barack Obama. But Obama can’t, and won’t, confront that reality. He will just go on slandering his political opponents and lying to the American people.
Hinderaker's conclusion: "Barack Obama is a terrible president, but he is a worse man."

Hinderaker's partner at Power Line, Scott Johnson, torpedoes Obama's (possibly willful) misunderstanding of history:
Obama’s potted history of the Cold War includes this revealing nugget: “With Kennedy at the helm, the Cuban Missile Crisis was resolved peacefully.” The Cuban Missile Crisis was resolved, of course, by the American naval blockade of Cuba that brought us to the brink of war and led to the capitulation of the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union’s capitulation included the dismantling and removal of the nuclear facility that American intelligence had found under construction in Cuba. Surely there is a lesson here somewhere for our present predicament with Iran, though it runs counter to the one Obama draws. As always, when he is not ignorant of the relevant history himself, Obama prefers to exploit the ignorance of his audience.
Johnson then draws out the binding thread -- what he calls "The Obama Method":
Obama does not seek to persuade the loyal opposition. He seeks to punish. He likens the opposition to the enemies of the United States in Iran. This isn’t much of an argument and it is implausible on its face.
Obama’s discussion of Iraq is particularly painful in this context. He chose to throw away the precarious victory achieved at long last by President Bush by the time he left office. “And ironically,” Obama says, “the single greatest beneficiary in the region of that war was the Islamic Republic of Iran, which saw its strategic position strengthened by the removal of its long-standing enemy, Saddam Hussein.” Here there is a glimmer of truth, but it is Obama who has brought Iran’s goals to fulfillment in Iraq, first by withdrawing American troops and then by injecting Iranian forces directly into Iraq. Obama supports the strengthening of Iran’s strategic position.
Referring to the imposition of sanctions on Iran, Obama states: “Winning this global buy-in was not easy — I know. I was there.” What was Obama’s position on the imposition of sanctions? He doesn’t say.
More on that in a minute. Johnson concludes:
As with Israel, so with America. Obama always professes to understand the true interests of his opponents better than they do. He is a man for all reasons. The arrogance, dishonesty and hatred with which this speech is shot through are the hallmarks of the Obama method.
Professor Glenn Reynolds says it simply and succinctly with "Worst President Ever." Amy Miller at Legal Insurrection asks Obama, "What don’t you understand about 'Death to America?'" Meanwhile, Professor Elizabeth Price Foley is on a roll. First, "In President Obama’s narcissistic quest to achieve a legacy of “diplomacy” with America’s enemies abroad, he is remarkably incapable of evincing any diplomacy at all domestically, with fellow Americans who dare to criticize him." That's just the appetizer. Here's the meal:
Lame duck Obama no longer cares about even the appearance of civility with Republicans, or any Democrat who dares to oppose him. His gloves are now off, it’s all personal to him (and his worshippers), and his radical ideological agenda is on full display. It’s full Orwell, replete with blatant lies, rewriting of history, and assault on the fabric of society itself. Obama is a bully, with a bully pulpit, and he doesn’t give a damn about the Constitution or its founding principles, which he thinks is deeply flawed. He has done more to damage the Constitution, the economy, and societal unity than all prior presidents combined.
January 2017 cannot come fast enough.
But James Taranto has a full buffet. It's behind a Wall Street Journal paywall, but Instapundit has a nice excerpt:
Rather than enumerate every flaw of Barack Obama’s defense of his Iran deal yesterday, we’d like to look deeply at the most glaring one, namely this passage:
Just because Iranian hard-liners chant “Death to America” does not mean that that’s what all Iranians believe. In fact, it’s those hard-liners who are most comfortable with the status quo. It’s those hard-liners chanting “Death to America” who have been most opposed to the deal. They’re making common cause with the Republican caucus. . . .
Obama’s “common cause” argument rests on several factual premises that seem to us obviously false, and that certainly are not obviously true—among them, that Republicans desire war, that there is a meaningful distinction between “Iranian hard-liners” and the Iranian regime, and that those hard-liners would prefer American military action to American appeasement.
But there is an even more basic objection to Obama’s statement. Assume for the sake of argument that the “Iranian hard-liners” and the Republicans really do want an all-out military confrontation. Now, consider an example from history when such a result actually obtained. On Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. On Dec. 8, Congress declared war on Japan. Would it make any sense to say that the Japanese and the U.S. Congress had made “common cause”?
Obama is equating mutual antagonism with its opposite, “common cause.” Again, Orwell put it more pithily: War is peace.
If Republicans who oppose the deal are “making common cause” with “Iranian hard-liners,” does it not follow that so are the Israelis—as well as those Democratic lawmakers who’ve announced opposition to the deal (seven so far, all in the House, according to the Hill), and 57% of the American public (including 55% of independents and 32% of Democrats), according to the latest Quinnipiac poll?
Senator Bob "Treaty Clause? We don' need no stinkin' Treaty Clause" Corker (R-TN), whose stupidity helped put us in this mess with Obama not needing a supermajority to approve the deal, rightly took offense at Obama's remarks:
At the start of the hearing focusing on whether political favors bumped up the rankings of Cuba and Malaysia on the State Department’s human trafficking report, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) quipped, “I wonder if we have questions about trafficking if it throws us into the category of bad people.”
Corker noted that “up until an hour and a half before” the 19-0 committee vote passing the bill to require congressional approval of the Iran deal, the White House had a veto threat on the legislation “because they did not want the issue debated.”
“We are being compared to the hardliners in Iran because we have concerns that we are trying to have answered,” he said. “Just a few months ago the president was talking about what a thoughtful, principled person I was.” And now, “he’s trying to shut down debate by saying those who have legitimate questions are somehow unpatriotic, are somehow compared to hardliners in Iran.”
Corker added that, after a frustrating closed-door meeting yesterday with the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, he called Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman this morning to ask for “at least” her notes from the meetings between the IAEA and Iran that forged the confidential agreements.
But the chairman had a theory on why the IAEA is being so hush-hush about the inspections details.
“I don’t think it would stand the test of late-night comedy, if people understood how the Parchin thing was being done,” Corker said.
Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who was pulled into a meeting with Obama last night, said to Corker, “I think you are and continue to always be a thoughtful and principled person.”
“Hopefully if I disagree with you once you won’t compare me to the hardliners in Iran,” Corker replied.
As IowaHawk says, "Remember when dissent was the highest form of patriotism? Good times[.]"

However bad this sounds, it just gets worse and worse. Remember when the question was asked supra about what Obama's position was in these negotiations? Especially concerning those "secret side deals" the mullahs have with the IAEA. Well ...
Under questioning from a Senate Democrat today at a Banking Committee hearing on the Iran deal, the lead State Department negotiator said they never bothered to ask Iran if there are any other side deals floating around out there.
Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman came under intense bipartisan questioning about Iran’s agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Last week, Secretary of State John Kerry told lawmakers that he thought the only administration official who might have seen the agreement was Sherman.
Today, Sherman had a few explanations.
“I did see the provisional documents, I didn’t see the final documents,” she told Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.).
To Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Sherman said: “I have seen — I have — I have seen the document, as I said, as we were going through the technical discussions with the IAEA. But what is important here, Senator, ultimately what we are talking about here is the credibility of the International Atomic Energy Agency, whether, in fact, we believe that they are credible, independent verification organizations, which it is.”
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) asked, “In the final deal from the IAEA, have you seen it and read it?”
“Let me be very clear. I have seen the documents that the IAEA and Iran discussed to create the final arrangements for the modalities that underpin the road map, the road map document being a public document that Congress has a copy of,” Sherman replied.
“Can you assure us that this access will be physical access? IAEA inspectors will be physically walking into these sites and taking samples or installing equipment?” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) asked of the deal.
“I think that every situation is different, Senator, and that the IAEA has the capability, the expert knowledge to make sure that whatever they do can be technically authenticated,” Sherman replied.
Sherman said a “handful” of U.S. experts — “I’d have to stop and think” — saw the documents are “very short” and defended the confidentiality agreement — if the U.S. gets confidential IAEA agreements, Iran should too.
“Under the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement, to which we are also a party, we have confidential safeguards, confidential documents and protocols with the IAEA between the United States and the IAEA, as does — do all of the countries that are under the CSA,” she said. “The IAEA has committed to keeping them confidential, and so, therefore, they are committed to keeping these protocols under CSA confidential as well.”
“Is there reason to believe there’s any other documents out there?” Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) asked.
“No. If there are, I don’t know about them,” Sherman replied. “I have not asked them explicitly.”
“Have you asked the Iranians who you’ve had these discussions with, do you have any other agreements with anybody else at this time that we don’t know about?” Donnelly asked.
“I have not asked that question explicitly, but given the hours and hours we have spent together, I do not believe there are any other documents,” Sherman said.
Of course, Obama and John Kerry may not have cared about the lack of specificity. Or considered it not a bug but a feature. In a piece in The Federalist, Robert Tracinski exposes the real goal of the Iran Deal, and it is a familiar refrain espoused by both Democrats and Ronulans -- Blame America First:
What is President Obama’s deal with Iran really, essentially about? I just realized that John Kerry has been trying to tell us all along, and it’s only yesterday that he finally said it clearly enough to make it register.
In last week’s Senate testimony, he first established the theme, warning that if Congress doesn’t approve the deal, “we will have proven we’re not trustworthy.” Get that? We have a Secretary of State who conducted negotiations from the premise that we, not the Iranians, are the ones who have to prove we can be trusted.
But that wasn’t just a gaffe or an isolated observation. Kerry expanded on it in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg that was published yesterday:
“The ayatollah constantly believed that we are untrustworthy, that you can’t negotiate with us, that we will screw them,” Kerry said. “This”—a congressional rejection—”will be the ultimate screwing.” He went on to argue that “the United States Congress will prove the ayatollah’s suspicion, and there’s no way he’s ever coming back. He will not come back to negotiate. Out of dignity, out of a suspicion that you can’t trust America. America is not going to negotiate in good faith. It didn’t negotiate in good faith now, would be his point.”
Have you ever seen a clearer case of Stockholm Syndrome, with Kerry so assiduously taking up the cause of his opponents in the negotiations?
Kerry also said that his chief Iranian interlocutor, the foreign minister, Javad Zarif, and Zarif’s boss, the (relatively) reformist president, Hassan Rouhani, would be in “serious trouble” at home if the deal falls through. Zarif, Kerry told me, explicitly promised him that Iran will engage with the United States and its Arab allies on a range of regional issues, should Congress approve the deal. “Zarif specifically said to me in the last two weeks, ‘If we get this finished, I am now empowered to work with and talk to you about regional issues.'” Kerry went on, “This is in Congress’s hands. If Congress says no, Congress will shut that down, shut off that conversation, set this back, and set in motion a series of inevitables about what would happen with respect to Iranian behavior, and, by the way, the sanctions will be over.”
On top of the incredible naiveté of believing Zarif’s assurances that Iran will suddenly become much nicer after the deal is signed (and we have lost all leverage), notice how fully he has bought into a perspective that could only be found in Iranian propaganda: that anything bad the Iranians do from now on will be our fault because we alienated them and failed to negotiate in good faith. As if the Iranian regime has not spent the last 35 years gleefully fanning the flames of conflict across the Middle East.
This warped, blame-America-first perspective is not just an argument Kerry is citing in support of the deal with Iran. It is the actual point of the whole deal.
Every negotiation with Iran in the past, and every public debate out it, has proceeded from the assumption that the Iranians are dangerous fanatics who need to be reined in, that they can’t be trusted and will have to make big concessions and reforms and agree to a lot of scrutiny before we welcome them back to the ranks of civilized nations.
But the idea behind this deal, and the theme of Kerry’s defense of it, is to get the United States to accept responsibility for causing conflict with Iran through our own belligerence and bad faith.
There is a lot of talk about how Kerry and Obama want this deal as part of their “legacy,” and the usual assumption is that this is about wanting awards and peace prizes, that it’s about accolades and ego trips. But there is another kind of legacy leaders seek, a far more important kind: the legacy of changing a whole process, changing the terms of the debate, and doing so in a way that programs their preferred policies into the system, making any alternative impossible.
This is indeed consistent with the "America is Evil" worldview of both Obama and Kerry:
From this perspective, we can see why John Kerry’s statement on Iran is so important. The point of the Iran deal is to put America in the position of being the bad guy who needs to be reined in, the rogue nation, the dishonest deal-breaker, the one who will be blamed if the deal falls apart and who will be responsible for every bad consequence that follows.
We’re the ones who are assumed to “not negotiate in good faith,” and who will “set in motion a series of inevitables about what would happen with respect to Iranian behavior.” Isn’t that last part great? We will be responsible for “Iranian behavior.” This is a regime motivated by a fanatical, totalitarian ideology, for which they have imprisoned, tortured, and killed their own citizens; they’re one of the world’s leading state sponsors of terror, from Lebanon to Gaza to Iraq and even all the way to Argentina; they routinely issue genocidal threats against Israel, and they’re practically running Bashar Assad’s brutal war of extermination in Syria. But no, no, no. If Congress doesn’t vote for a deal that accomplishes nothing, then we will be responsible for everything that happens from here on out.
It’s an insolent inversion of reality, of course, but it’s consistent with the worldview from which Kerry and President Obama emerged. 
And, indeed, lately John Kerry has spent more time defending the Iranian mullahs than he has the United States, which is, you know, his job. Reacting to the same Jeffrey Goldberg interview, Hot Air's Ed Morrissey explains why we should have none of it:
Old and busted, nat-sec edition: You don’t screw with America. New hotness, smart-power edition: Don’t screw the Ayatollah! The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg sat down with Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss the seven-nation nuclear deal with Iran, and Kerry warned Congress that a rejection of the deal would destroy the faith that Ayatollah Ali Khameini had put into negotiations with the United States.
No, really, that’s his argument for approving the deal. If Congress blows up the deal, they will give Khameini “the ultimate screwing[.]”
Actually, the “ultimate screwing” will come when Iran conducts its first test of a nuclear device. Since when is the US’ trustworthiness on the line in this issue? Iran hid its pursuit of nuclear weapons for years from the IAEA, and only began negotiating on nuclear development after it got caught. It has routinely cheated on inspections, hid its military research, and continually refused to negotiate in good faith. For the past twelve years, whenever the P5+1 (or E3+3, whatever the Western formulation is at the moment) got close to an agreement with Iran, the Ayatollah and his henchmen would demand a significant concession on top of what had already been agreed, and the deal would fall apart.
Let’s not forget that, on top of this track record of bad-faith diplomacy, Khameini runs the world’s biggest terror-supporting state. It sponsors, funds, and arms terror networks throughout the region, including those in Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria that are aimed in direct opposition to Western aims and key regional allies. Khameini and his mullahcracy have chanted “Death to America” for 36 years straight. And Congress is supposed to worry that Khameini may lose faith in American diplomacy?
What color should we assume the sky is in Kerryworld, anyway?
If Kerry’s entire pitch to Congress is that they must keep faith with Ali Khameini or he might end up disliking and distrusting us, this deal might be even worse than we think. This is a sorry state of affairs, when America’s top diplomat ends up as an apologist for a dictator that routinely declares “Death to America,” and says our only hope is to trust in his good faith. It’s absurd on its face.
In a post titled "Someone is getting screwed, but it’s not the Ayatollah," Professor William Jacobson breaks down the mullahs' continuing crimes:
There John Kerry goes again.
Jeffrey Goldberg, the go-to person when the Obama administration wants to get its position out because Goldberg is pro-Israel, landed an interview with John Kerry. The topline storyline is that Kerry is warning the U.S. Congress not to screw (with?) Ayatollah Ali Khamenei:
Seriously, we are afraid of ruining the expectations of an Ayatollah who defends calling for the death of America and Israel;
And who just published a book on how to defeat the U.S. and destroy Israel?
And who openly threatens Israel?
Would this be the same Ayatollah who tweeted out an image of Obama holding a gun to his own head?
Well, let’s be sure not to offend HIM. 
Don’t worry about what the Iranians say, says Kerry, they don’t really mean it: 
Though he says he is in tune with this set of Israeli fears, he does not endorse a view widely shared by Israelis—and by many Americans—that Iran’s leaders, who have often said that they seek the destruction of Israel, mean what they say. “I think they have a fundamental ideological confrontation with Israel at this particular moment. Whether or not that translates into active steps to, quote, ‘Wipe it,’ you know …” Here I interjected: “Wipe it off the map.” Kerry continued: “I don’t know the answer to that. I haven’t seen anything that says to me—they’ve got 80,000 rockets in Hezbollah pointed at Israel, and any number of choices could have been made. They didn’t make the bomb when they had enough material for 10 to 12. They’ve signed on to an agreement where they say they’ll never try and make one and we have a mechanism in place where we can prove that. So I don’t want to get locked into that debate. I think it’s a waste of time here.”
We are now the weak horse, being trained by our masters.
John Kerry is dangerously naive.
But ... well, remember the 2009 Green Revolution? When there was hope of removing these barbarians from power? Well ...
His boss isn’t naive, this is all part of the “Grand Bargain” strategy with Iran Obama has been pursuing since he took office, something we highlighted back in June 2009, when Obama abandoned the uprising against the Mullah regime:
During the campaign and after assuming the presidency, Barack Obama repeatedly stated his willingness to engage in negotiations with Iran without any preconditions. But that was and is not true.
The events of the past two weeks, including the revelation that Obama sent a letter in May to “Supreme Leader” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reveal that there is one precondition to negotiations which Obama willingly embraces: United States acceptance of Mullah rule in Iran in perpetuity.
Acceptance of Mullah rule, notwithstanding what the people of Iran may want or basic human rights, is the key to the Grand Bargain the Obama administration seeks to strike with Iran. In fact, U.S. help to perpetuate the Mullahtocracy appears to be the ONLY precondition.
Someone is going to get screwed here, and it’s not the Ayatollah.
Indeed. But wait! That's not all. It just gets worse and worse. If you want a graphic representation of just who won and who lost in this deal, check out the hand-dandy chart prepared by the American Friends of Ateret Cohanim, a non-profit organization located in Jerusalem. Li'l hint: the US and Western Civilization are not among the winners.

Now, when digesting all this sunshine and good cheer, keep one last thing in mind:

To get this deal -- easily the stupidest foreign policy initiative in my lifetime and the most disastrous Western initiative in Iran since at least Marcus Crassus' invasion of Parthia in 56 BC (in which he decided to invade a land famous for its horse archers with an immense army of little more than heavy infantry) -- Obama had to get Russia on board with sanctions. Vlad Putin's Russia -- the same people selling the mullahs SA-300 missile systems to defend their nuclear sites. So he had to do things to make nice to Vlad Putin -- like pull our missile defense out of Poland and not stand up for Ukraine. So now Putin has invaded Ukraine and is threatening to invade Poland, the Baltic republics, and Moldova to re-establish the Russian Empire. Lord knows what Obama promised to give China to get them on board.

So, to get this deal that screws the US and empowers the evil, barbaric Iranian mullahs who believe in imposing shari'a law, Obama was willing to sacrifice not just the people of the United States and Israel, but of Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Moldova. Not to mention the Middle Eastern states the mullahs have in their sights: Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman, countries that will now have to get nuclear weapons of their own to protect themselves against the Iranian mullahs.

All of these people sacrificed at the altar of Blame America First. All of it -- all of it -- just so Obama and Kerry could blame America first just one more time.

And Obama has the gall to accuse opponents of his Iran deal of treason.

Of all the arrogant, stupid, incompetent, and downright evil policies and activities of Barack Obama, this is the most vile.

Professor Foley just one more time:
Lame duck Obama no longer cares about even the appearance of civility with Republicans, or any Democrat who dares to oppose him. His gloves are now off, it’s all personal to him (and his worshippers), and his radical ideological agenda is on full display. It’s full Orwell, replete with blatant lies, rewriting of history, and assault on the fabric of society itself. Obama is a bully, with a bully pulpit, and he doesn’t give a damn about the Constitution or its founding principles, which he thinks is deeply flawed. He has done more to damage the Constitution, the economy, and societal unity than all prior presidents combined.
January 2017 cannot come fast enough.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Archaeologists find the hometown of Goliath

One thing I keep telling people is that The Bible and other ancient works like The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Iliad, and The Odyssey may distort, they may omit, they may condense, they may misinterpret, they may twist, etc., but one thing they do not do is lie. Like Schliemann finding Troy, we have more confirmation of the ancient epics, in this case The Bible:
A massive gate unearthed in Israel may have marked the entrance to a biblical city that, at its heyday, was the biggest metropolis in the region.
The town, called Gath, was occupied until the ninth century B.C. In biblical accounts, the Philistines — the mortal enemies of the Israelites — ruled the city. The Old Testament also describes Gath as the home of Goliath, the giant warrior whom the Israelite King David felled with a slingshot.
The new findings reveal just how impressive the ancient Philistine city once was, said lead archaeologist of the current excavation, Aren Maeir, of Bar-Ilan University in Israel.
"We knew that Philistine Gath in the 10th to ninth century [B.C.] was a large city, perhaps the largest in the land at that time," Maeir told Live Science in an email. "These monumental fortifications stress how large and mighty this city was."
The gates were uncovered in Tell es-Safi, which was occupied almost continuously for nearly 5,000 years, until the Arab village at the site was left in 1948, Maeir said. Though archaeologists have been excavating at the site since 1899, it wasn't until the past few decades that they realized how massive the Iron Age remains really were.
Both the impressive settlement size and mentions in biblical accounts suggest to scholars that the site is the historic city of Gath, which was ruled by the Philistines, who lived next to the Jewish kingdoms of Judah and Israel. Most scholars think that Gath was besieged and laid to waste by Hazael, King of Aram Damascus, in 830 B.C., Maeir said.
Gath (or Geth) was one of the five cities of the Philistine Pentapolis, the others being Ascalon (or Ascalan or Ashquelon), Azotus (or Ashdod), Accaron (or Akron or Ekron), and Gaza (or Gaza) From PJ Media:
The book of 1 Samuel describes Goliath this way:
4 Then a champion stepped out from the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. [9 feet, 9 inches] 5 He had a bronze helmet on his head and a breastplate of scale armor; the weight of the bronze breastplate was 5,000 shekels. [125 pounds] 6 He also had bronze shin-guards on his legs and a bronze javelin slung between his shoulders. 7 The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and the head of his spear weighed 600 shekels of iron,[15 pounds]; and his shield-bearer was marching ahead of him.
Osmar Schindler portrayed Goliath this way:

I'm curious, though, if Gath ever posted signs at the city limits reading "WELCOME TO GATH: THE PROUD HOME OF GOLIATH."

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The biggest (notice I did not say "only") flaws in the Iran deal

Today the Senate Foreign Relations Committee heard testimony on the Iran deal from Dr. Robert G, Joseph. Commentary Magazine describes Dr. Joseph as currently Senior Scholar at the National Institute for Public Policy, and formerly Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, and the person who in 2003 led the nuclear negotiations with the Gadhafi regime in Libya.

What did Dr. Joseph say?
He testified the Iran deal is a “bad agreement” with “five fatal flaws”: (1) it does not effectively detect cheating unless Iran decides to do it openly, and Iran is more likely to cheat at military bases where it has cheated in the past and has ruled out inspections in the future; (2) it leaves a large‐scale nuclear infrastructure in place that could be used to break out, or more likely “sneak‐out,” and then permits a significantly expanded program with a “virtually zero” breakout time; (3) it has “snap‐back” provisions that are illusory; (4) the purported 12-month breakout time is ineffective, since, unless Iran breaks out openly, we will not even know when the clock begins,and months will go by while the U.S. debates internally what to do; and (5) Iran is permitted to continue work on long-range ballistic missiles that have no use other than eventual deployment of nuclear weapons.
Brutal. Absolutely brutal.

Monday, July 27, 2015

In the words of Lando Calrissian

"This deal is getting worse all the time." This Iran deal, that is. Marc Thiessen:
President Obama promised that his nuclear deal with Iran would not be “based on trust” but rather “unprecedented verification.” Now it turns out Obama’s verification regime is based on trust after all — trust in two secret side agreements negotiated exclusively between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that apparently no one (including the Obama administration) has seen.
Worse, Obama didn’t even reveal the existence of these secret side deals to Congress when he transmitted the nuclear accord to Capitol Hill. The agreements were uncovered, completely by chance, by two members of Congress — Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) — who were in Vienna meeting with the U.N.-releated agency.
In an interview, Pompeo told me that he and Cotton were meeting with the deputy director of the IAEA and the agency’s two top Iran negotiators just days after the nuclear accord was announced, when they asked how the agency will carry out verification at the Iranian military complex at Parchin. IAEA officials told them, quite casually, that the details were all covered in agreements negotiated between the IAEA and the Iranian government. It was the first they had heard of the side deals.
Pompeo says they asked whether they could see those agreements. He says IAEA officials replied, “ ‘Oh no, of course not, no, you’re not going to get to see those.’ And so everybody on our side of the table asked, ‘Has Secretary Kerry seen these?’ ‘No, Secretary Kerry hasn’t seen them. No American is ever going to get to see them.’ ”
It turns out that only the two parties — the IAEA and Iran — get to see the actual agreements (though you can see a picture of Iranian and IAEA officials holding up what appear to be the secret accords here).
In other words, Obama is gambling our national security and handing over $150 billion in sanctions relief to Iran, based on secret agreements negotiated between the IAEA and Iran that no U.S. official has seen.
“We need to see these documents in order to evaluate whether or not verification is ample to make such a big concession to the Iranians,” Pompeo says. “No member of Congress should be asked to vote on an agreement of this historic importance absent knowing what the terms of the verification process are.”
In fact, the Obama administration’s failure to transmit these side deals to Congress is a violation of the law. The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which Obama signed into law, explicitly states that the president must transmit the nuclear agreement along with “all related materials and annexes.” That clearly covers any side agreements covering the verification of Iran’s compliance.
Susan Rice told reporters the administration “provided Congress with all of the documents that we drafted or were part of drafting and all documents shared with us by the IAEA.” Sorry, that’s not what the law requires.
Law, schmaw. Since when has Obama cared about obeying the law?
But the administration cannot hand over what it apparently does not have. For Pompeo, that raises even more troubling questions. “Why on earth is the president letting the negotiations [on verification] be negotiated by someone other than us?” he asks. How can it be that the administration would “do a deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, that’s spent its entire existence cheating, and we would sign off on a deal with them whose core provisions are completely unknown to our side? It’s remarkable.”
Elizabeth Price Foley at Instapundit has a word for it:
Cutting a nuclear deal with Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, without either realizing or revealing that there are “side deals” with the IAEA is treasonous. Members of Congress who now vote to support it without knowing the full terms of these side deals are likewise traitors.
Careful, Professor Foley. Talk like that might get you called "uncivil." Then again, what else could you call it?

Stopping the Iran deal

Michael Ledeen has an idea for a PR campaign to stop this abomination Obama and Kerry have negotiated with the Iranian mullahs:
I think most of those trying to stop the approval of the Iran Deal are going about it wrong.  I don’t believe you can stop this thing by going through the text and pointing out its myriad flaws, nor do I think it’s good enough to expose the many lies Obama, Kerry, Rhodes et. al. told us along the way, nor even to uncover secret deals.  Kerry and Zarif spent 27 hours alone during the negotiations, and we’re not going to get a transcript of those conversations, nor will either of them tell us what they may have agreed.  And even if they did, I don’t think it would produce enough public political rage to stiffen the wobbly spines of our elected leaders.
The critics are quite right for the most part: it’s an awful agreement, the administration has behaved abominably, and the deal should be rejected.  I’m just talking about the best way to do it, the best tactics to use.  Obama understands how to do it:  reduce the issue to a simple choice.  He does that when he says that Congress must either approve the Grand Bargain or plunge the Middle East–or is it the world?–into war.
We should answer it:  Iran has been at war with us for 36 years, and this deal–the latest of its kind–gives Iran lots of money to kill even more Americans.  Indeed, we’ve been doing it for quite a while.
In a single phrase:  the war is already ON, and we’re paying the Iranians to kill us.  You want to pay them even more?  Apparently that’s what Obama wants.
That’s the essence of the matter, but we’re all wrapped up in on-site inspections, complicated annexes and a steady flow of information that’s been withheld from us.  That won’t work.  Just stick to the one-liner.  Americans don’t like our guys getting murdered by Iranians and their proxies, and we don’t like being shaken down by our own killers.
Remember when comrade Lenin remarked that the capitalists would eventually buy the rope and supply it to their hangman?  Well here we are.
Let's repeat the key phrase here:
Iran has been at war with us for 36 years, and this deal–the latest of its kind–gives Iran lots of money to kill even more Americans.  Indeed, we’ve been doing it for quite a while.
In a single phrase:  the war is already ON, and we’re paying the Iranians to kill us.  You want to pay them even more?  Apparently that’s what Obama wants.
Of course, those of us who have been paying attention are well aware Iran has been at war with us for 36 years. That's why we oppose this deal. Those who have not been paying attention tend to support this deal, and, in fact, negotiated it.

Shout this loud and long, far and wide. This deal must be stopped.

Coming soon to America

The Islamic Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. It is in France already:
Social networks across France responded angrily to the news a 21-year-old woman was beaten up by a gang of girls and young women for the crime of wearing a bikini in a park. Authorities are yet to have identified the attackers but The Independent reports commentators assume they were Muslims.
According to police the young victim was sunbathing with two friends in the Parc Léo Lagrange in Reims, northern France, last Wednesday when one of her five female attackers verbally abused her for “immorally” exposing so much flesh in a public place. The sunbather shouted back at which point the other girls and young women moved in, slapping and punching her.
Passers-by intervened to protect the badly bruised victim.
The attackers, aged 16 to 24, were soon arrested. The three oldest were remanded to appear in court in September, the remaining two girls, aged 16 and 17, face further questioning.
Authorities have not named the assailants but have said they all come from housing estates with large Muslim populations. Although police told L’Union newspaper that the victim was unable to confirm her assailants were motivated by “religious opinions”, bloggers in France have cited the incident as the latest example of the radical Islamic threat to French values.
If my visit to France last month is any indication, the French are far from being the "rude, cheese-eating surrender monkeys" we Americans usually believe them to be. Far from it. The response to this incident gives us more evidence of French backbone. First we have the Mayor of Reims:
The mayor of Reims, Arnaud Robinet, said: “We have to be very careful not to jump to conclusions. All the same, I can understand why people have assumed that this attack had religious motives. If that turns out to be the case, it is a very serious incident.
This is far more intelligent than what we usually get here in the US these days: remember that they still consider the motive for the attack at the Chattanooga recruiting office "unknown" and seem at great pains to avoid acknowledging even the possibility of an Islamist element. Remember, too, the "workplace violence" at Fort Hood.

But there's more:

In response to the attack a demonstration was organised. Wearing bikinis and other bathing costumes protesters rallied in the park where the beating took place.

Faced with drizzle and cold winds only small number showed up, but across France hundreds responded to a Twitter appeal by the anti-racist organisation SOS Racisme to post images of themselves or others wearing skimpy bathing costumes in public places using the hashtag ‘#jeportemonmaillotauparcleo’ (I wear my swimsuit in Park Leo).

One Lorine (@LorineTinti) has a particularly note-worthy tweet:

#jeportemonmaillotauParcLeo #peaceandlovelesgars #bisousbisous 
Good for her.

Not to be outdone, Grégory Herpe Photo (@GregoryHerpe69) comes back with a message of defiance:
#jeportemonmaillotauParcLeo ! La France est un pays libre. Les femmes y sont libres. ça te gêne? Change de pays. 
Which translates to:
“France is a free country. Women there are free. It annoys you? Change country.” 
John Hinderaker at Power Line ominously adds: "She probably has no idea how out of fashion that sentiment is with opinion elites in her country, and ours."

This is how they will operate: Islamists seeking to impose their version of shari'a law on non-Muslims through fear. We have already seen efforts at doing so in places like Minneapolis. We will see more of it in the days ahead until we come to grips with our barbaric enemy.

The rope with which to nuke us

German business interests helped drive the Iran nuclear deal:
Before the ink could barely dry on the Iran Deal, Germany’s Economy Minister Sigmar Garbiel flew to Tehran, making him the first leading Western figure to do so after the nuclear agreement was reached Vienna earlier this month.
Gabriel who is also Germany’s Vice-Chancellor met with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and other top Iranian leaders described the moods of the visit as “being with old friends.”
The German weekly Die Welt reported [translation by Legal Insurrection]:
[Not just in streets of Tehran] but also in German board rooms there was great elation over the [Iran] deal: The German economy is electrified at the prospect of again doing business with the Islamic country. German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) (…) estimates that German exports to Iran could be doubled to €5 billion in coming two years.
Another leading trade body, the Federation of German Industry (BDI), is even more bullish on Iran and foresees the trade volume cross the €10 billion-mark in next few years. Eric Schweitzer, DIHK-President told Die Welt that as far as the German business goes, “the doors [in Tehran] are very, very wide open”. Industry players in Germany are counting on the great prestige attached to the “Made in Germany” label in Iran–which is synonymous with high-quality and reliability.
The clerics in Tehran could not agree more with German industry’s assessment.
Could we soon expect Iranian Regime using “reliable” German construction cranes to hang dissidents and homosexuals – having been forced to make do with other substandard options for far too long?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Required reading but missing the point

Paul Bracken in The American Interest. Here's the intro:
Commentary on the agreement with Iran has focused too much on the “art of the deal” and how it was struck. The real focus should be on the long-term consequences for nuclear proliferation in the Middle East.
This is a great piece as far as it goes -- with one critical exception. I'll give you Bracken's take in this extended excerpt (emphasis mine):
The Iran agreement is one development in this long process. It’s like negotiating an end to a long war where each side gets to keep its forces intact. Here, the “war” is the American-led effort to prevent Iran’s atomic bomb. A “surrender” was never accepted by Iran, in the agreement itself or in the behavior that surrounds it. It wasn’t a strategic surrender of its bomb program in the sense that Iran has foresworn nuclear weapons. At best it was a tactical surrender of those parts of it, like old centrifuges, that leaders thought they could shed without too much political loss at home. In sum, Iran’s residual nuclear capability is largely untouched.
Ending the Vietnam War was hardly settled once the United States signed an agreement in Paris with the government of North Vietnam. The agreement didn’t terminate the war—far from it. Rather, the Paris peace accord was an important development that shaped what followed. What was critical then is what’s critical now. North Vietnam wasn’t required to stand down any of its forces. They remained in place. This gave Hanoi freedom of action to exploit the post-Paris peace agreement situation. Hanoi never agreed to abandon its long-term goal of conquering South Vietnam, and that’s exactly what they did over the next two years.
There’s a more general lesson here. Instead of focusing on what is agreed to in a document, we need to focus on the surviving capability that was central to the conflict in the first place. If that capability remains, the details over verification and implementation of any agreement are radically changed, because the side with it has the power to use its residual capability to wreck the deal, or dance around the edges to change it, alter its scope, or any of a number of other strategies.
Iran has only accepted an armistice—a tactical, temporary suspension of some aspects of its nuclear program. It retains a capability to conduct other parts of its atomic program openly. Iran’s nuclear technology system has not been reduced, let alone dismantled. The knowhow, organizational structures, staffs, and systems (for example, advanced centrifuges and missiles) remain essentially intact.
Let’s put Iran’s residual nuclear program in the Middle East context. Iran’s Sunni rivals, such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, are organizing against it. These rivals have a lot of money, and they’ve recently crossed a major escalation threshold, using military force in Bahrain and Yemen. Even Israel has joined this coalition in a de facto way.
Nearby, a civil war in Syria has reached brutal levels of violence. Yet it goes on, putting paid to arguments that large-scale war is some kind of obsolete or improbable development. Some 300,000 people killed with all manner of outside states and subnational groups intervening for their own narrow purpose. That the result is apparent stalemate, or that many of the interventions look ill conceived, doesn’t change the fact that Iran can easily see something like this happening to them. Especially for Iran, this is an important fear; Iran suffered large-scale chemical warfare attack in its war with Iraq in the 1980s. I have yet to meet any Iranian who doesn’t believe that this was at least tacitly approved of by the United States and Israel.
Finally, U.S. military capability is not appreciably any less than it was a few years ago. The United States is trying to get out of the area in terms of its deployed forces in theater. But the whole shift to maritime and cyber power in announced American plans points to exerting military force from a distance and from off shore.
Absent some deterrent, the United States can destroy a large part of Iran’s military, opening it up to the kind of catastrophe Syria is now suffering. This really would shut down Iran’s nuclear program if it happened. The point here isn’t to make the case that the Middle East is a dangerous place. Everyone knows that. It’s to make the point that Iran’s residual nuclear program exists in this strategic environment.
Two conclusions follow from this. First, no amount of negotiating skill on the West’s part was going to alter this strategic environment. No personal relations between negotiators could reverse the strategic realities that Iran faces. That members of the two teams went to MIT and swapped gifts for their grandchildren is all very nice. But it doesn’t come close to altering Iran’s dangerous situation.
Second, even if the mullahs were to pass from the scene, Iran’s strategic situation doesn’t change. I would say that even the disestablishment of the Iranian Guards wouldn’t make a difference. The Iranian state needs something to keep the forces of chaos at bay. It has a nuclear capability because it did everything in its power to build it—in the face of an economic siege, cyber attack, targeted killing of its scientists, and the P5+1 negotiations.
Iran isn’t going to give this capability up easily; moreover, no side promise from the United States or others that they will not strong arm Iran if they do give up their nuclear effort is likely to carry much weight in Tehran.
This is the big problem that advocates of negotiations with Iran, including those who somehow draw a moral equivalency between the US and Iran, fail to understand, perhaps willfully -- and Bracken, while not advocating the deal, makes the same mistake: the issue is not Iran having nuclear weapons so much as the Iranian mullahs having nuclear weapons.

This is a huge distinction. You cannot treat the mullahcratic government the same way you would treat, say, a secular parliamentary government. This is not Austria getting nukes. The issue in the 1930s was not so much Germany getting the Wehrmacht but Hitler controlling that Wehrmacht.

The mullahs want regional hegemony based on Shari'a law arising out of Shia Islam -- and an interpretation of Islam that has an apocalyptic element to it -- that is not in the interest of the US. The mullahs have acted in furtherance of that goal, including support for Hezbo'allah, Hamas, Shi'ite rebels in Iraq who fought US troops, and others. That hegemony includes removal of Israel. This is not a rational strategic goal, but a religious goal. Remember that historically the Persians and Jews have had good relations -- it was Cyrus the Great who ended the Babylonian Captivity, after all. Iran was not in the thrall of Arab Nationalism because Iran is not Arab; it is Persian.

Note that Iran had good relations with Israel until 1979; when the mullahs took power Iran immediately became a sworn enemy of Israel intent on its destruction. Iran's strategic outlook ever since has driven largely by the interests of the mullahs, not the country as a whole.

That means Iran is not the problem; the mullahs are. To solve the problem, one must remove the mullahs from the equation.The US could have argued that Iran can have nukes, but the mullahs cannot. But in yet another testament to the stupidity of the Obama administration and his laughably-named "national security" team, Obama refused to aid the 2009 Green Revolution in its goal of the removal of the mullahs.

This agreement does nothing to advance peace in the Middle East because there can be no peace as long as the mullahs are in power. They will not allow it until they get what they want. In fact, it makes a nuclear attack by the mullahs more likely -- one to which the US would have difficulty responding.

How? All the mullahs have to do is slip a nuke to one of their terrorist proxies like Hezbo'allah. Hezbo'allah already has agents in the US. Detonate the nuke. The mullahs celebrate it but do not accept responsibility. And idiots like John Kerry and Barbara Boxer will argue that without proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the US could not retaliate in kind.

That was the threat in Iraq with Saddam Hussein, a threat the leftists never acknowledged. And that is the threat from the Iranian mullahs, a threat they still do not acknowledge.

Because they trust pieces of paper.

This is what you get when you have idiots running your foreign policy establishment, like we do now.

And ultimately we will all pay the price for the stupidity of people who should have known better but willfully refused to learn.

Intelligence is in short supply here.

Bob Corker tells John Kerry "You've been fleeced" by the Iranian mullahs:
It all started off so well for Secretary of State John Kerry. At the beginning of his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the deal he crafted with Iran, Kerry got a hero’s welcome from a group of observers to the hearing. Granted, it was from the deep thinkers of Code Pink, but you gotta take what you can get, amirite?
Kerry told the committee that he could guarantee this deal would prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon during the term of the agreement, which prompted chair Bob Corker (R-TN) to reply, "You’ve been fleeced[.]"
Corker was not the only one. Senator James Risch (R-ID) said "With all due respect, you guys have been bamboozled and the American people are going to pay."


Kerry did have some defenders, though. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA):
“I support the right of my colleagues to say anything they want, but you’ve sat there and you’ve heard two of my colleagues go after you with words that I am going to repeat. You were fleeced, one said. The other said you have been bamboozled,” she said.
“So putting aside the fact that I think that’s disrespectful and insulting, it — that’s their right to do. There are other ways to express your disagreement, but that goes to the — your core as a human being and your intelligence, and I think you are highly intelligent.”
Boxer then added, “My colleagues think that you were fleeced, that you were bamboozled, that means everybody was fleeced and bamboozled, everybody, almost everybody in the world.”
That Barbara Boxer thinks you are "highly intelligent" is ... not much of an endorsement. When Kerry was in the Senate, Boxer might have been the only senator dumber than he was. Now that Kerry has become the Single Dumbest Senior Government Official since - at least - the horse the Emperor Caligula made Roman consul, Boxer now takes the top spot in the Senate.

Of course, Corker himself is a bit of an expert in getting fleeced:
Oh, Kerry got fleeced? Because I thought a bunch of dumbass, sell-out, go-along-to-get-along Republican Senators got fleeced by Obama and Kerry into approving this treaty before it was even finished.
So now we're in the "I just can't believe the outrageous things I already voted for" phase of the Failure Theater performance.
This public service message has been brought to you by the makers of sodium pentothal, who remind you that "The truth hurts."

Friday, June 19, 2015

Did Ebola doom Periclean Athens?

Unfortunately timed plagues can have a major effect on history. The so-called Plague of Justinian in the 6th century -- now believed to have been bubonic plague -- killed some 40 percent of the population of Constantinople, a quarter of the population of the Eastern Mediterranean, and permanently crippled Roman military power, effectively ending Emperor Justinian's efforts to recapture the Western Roman Empire and leaving the Romans vulnerable to the Muslim invasions a century later. The catalyst for release of the plague is believed to have been the so-called Climate Crisis of the 6th Century, in which most of the earth suffered from unseasonable weather, causing crop failures and famines worldwide. The political effects were devastating, leading to the fall of Teotihuacan, Sassanid Persia, and the Gupta Empire, among others, and the rise of Islam. 

Another plague that had a major effect on history was The Plague of Athens in 430 BC. Just as Athens was getting the upper hand in the Peloponnesian War, Athens was crippled by this plague. The city was made more vulnerable by the overcrowding caused by refugees fleeing Spartan troops in the Attic countryside. Athens lost one-third to two-thirds of its population, including its best general Pericles and both of his sons. Athens never fully recovered from this plague, and went on to lose the Peloponnesian War. 

This plague has never been identified. Now, one researcher believes it was none other than the Ebola virus:
Could the first recorded Ebola outbreak have occurred not in Africa less than 40 years ago, but rather, more than 2,400 years ago, in ancient Greece? That's what one professor of infectious diseases and history now suggests.
In the new paper, (University of Michigan history and infectious diseases Professor Powel) Kazanjian suggests that an Ebola virus may have been the culprit in the infamous Plague of Athens, a five-year epidemic that began in 430 B.C., whose cause has long been a matter of conjecture among physicians and historians. The famed historian Thucydides, who chronicled the Peloponnesian War between the rival city-states of Athens and Sparta, was not only an eyewitness to the Athenian disease, but also contracted it himself and survived.
"The Athenian epidemic in 430 B.C. has had a fascinating attraction for researchers of communicable diseases for a long period of time," said William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Athenian illness, also called Thucydides syndrome, began with an abrupt onset of fever, headache, fatigue, and pain in the stomach and extremities, accompanied by furious vomiting. Those who survived after seven days of illness also experienced severe diarrhea. Additional symptoms included reddened eyes, hiccups and bleeding from the mouth. Stricken individuals also sometimes experienced cough, seizures, confusion, rashes, pustules, ulcers, and even loss of fingers and toes, possibly due to gangrene.
As the disease progressedin those afflicted, Thucydides noted that people became so dehydrated that some plunged themselves into wells in futile attempts to quench their unceasing thirst. The disease often ended in death, typically by day seven to nine of the illness. Medical treatment was useless against the disease's severity and bleak outcome.
"Thucydides' vivid description allows present-day historians and clinicians to speculate about the cause of prior epidemics and the historical roots of our epidemics we know about today," Kazanjian said.
The Athenian disease began south of Egypt in a region Thucydides called "Aethiopia," a term that ancient Greeks used to refer to regions in sub-Saharan Africa, where modern Ebola outbreaks have occurred, Kazanjian said. In the ancient world, sub-Saharan Africans migrated to Greece to work as farmers or servants, thereby providing a potential human vector for Ebola.
Kazanjian argued that the symptoms, mortality rate and origin in sub-Saharan Africa that characterize the Plague of Athens are consistent with what is known about Ebola. He added that physicians were among the first victims of the Athenian disease in Thucydides' account, just as modern health care workers have proven especially vulnerable to Ebola, with nearly 500 dying from the virus in the current outbreak as of January, according to the World Health Organization.
"Diseases like Ebola, which we sometimes lump into the category of a new or emerging disease, may actually be much older than we realize," Kazanjian said. His paper was published June 1 in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.
A number of other possible causes of Thucydides syndrome have been suggested over the years, including typhus, smallpox, measles, anthrax, the bubonic plague and toxic shock syndrome. Kazanjian argued that no other disease matches the features of the Athenian disease as well as Ebola does; however, he said, "my study does not answer this question definitively. …
The actual cause remains elusive, he said."
"We may never know what caused the Athenian epidemic," said Schaffner, who did not take part in Kazanjian's paper. "I think it's a bit far-fetched that the plague of Athens was Ebola, but I think it's great fun that new people have become engaged in what I call studious speculation of the subject."