Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Obama Exploits Navy Seals

Ed Lasky

For a basketball player, Barack Obama sure can stoop low.

Leif Babin, a much-decorated Navy Seal, takes President Obama to task for exploiting Navy Seal operations to gain votes. This is not harmless credit-hogging by Barack Obama for the heroism and tough decision-making by our military. Babin -- joining a range of others -- writes in today's Wall Street Journal that Barack Obama is endangering the lives of Navy Seals for cheap political points:
America's premier Special Operations force is once again in the headlines after a team of Navy SEALs rescued two hostages from captivity in Somalia last week. Elite U.S. forces have carried out such operations periodically over the past decade, always with skill and bravery. The difference in recent months is that the details of their work haven't remained secret. On the contrary, government officials have revealed them for political gain -- endangering our forces in the process.

The floodgates opened after the raid that killed Osama bin Laden last May, and the Obama administration's lack of discretion was on display again at last week's State of the Union address. As President Obama entered the House chamber, in full view of the cameras, he pointed to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and exclaimed: "Good job tonight, good job tonight." Clearly something had happened that he wanted the world to know about.

After delivering his speech, which included multiple references to the bin Laden raid, the president again thanked Mr. Panetta. "That was a good thing tonight," he said as if to ensure that the viewing public, if they missed it initially, would get it a second time around.

Sure enough, shortly thereafter, the White House announced the successful rescue of the hostages in Somalia by U.S. Special Operations forces. Vice President Biden appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America" to highlight the success the next morning, and Mr. Panetta also publicly praised it. Then came the "anonymous U.S. officials" to provide extensive details of who conducted the raid and how. As with the bin Laden operation, the top-secret unit that carried it out was again front-page news, as were its methods and tactics.

Babin noted that the work of special ops teams are highly classified for good reasons that make it illegal for military personnel to divulge details to anyone. However, President Obama and his team have opened the floodgates -- virtually every detail of the bin Laden raid was widely publicized and is now available to anyone with the click of a mouse. The Defense Secretary added to the problems when he disclosed the name of a Pakistani doctor who was key to discovering the whereabouts of bin Laden. That doctor is now is a Pakistani prison and Panetta's disclosure will undoubtedly make his life worse.

These disclosures endanger lives and will make future operations that much riskier. Babin, who has put his life at stake numerous times in battle, knows the game being played with him and his fellow soldiers serving the roles of pawns in a political farce:

It is infuriating to see political gain put above the safety and security of our brave warriors and our long-term strategic goals. Loose lips sink ships.

Babin, as noted above, is not the only observer to question Obama's priorities.

J.D. Gordon, a retired navy commander, writes in the Washington Times about Obama's deadly new PR firm:

The dramatic rescue of an American aid worker and her Danish colleague in Somalia by Navy commandos was a terrific encore to the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan nine months ago. However, all the White House-driven publicity for both events has helped turn the once-secret SEAL Team 6 into a household term, with likely negative consequences...

The military still avoids discussion of the unit and its highly classified missions...

The one and only reason why there has been so much recent publicity on SEAL Team 6 rests with the commander in chief.

Casting aside decades of careful leadership to keep these stealth warriors out of the public eye, away from would-be revenge-seekers and assorted far-left protesters, Mr. Obama has discussed their exploits to such an extent that their mystique is largely diminished - and their identities closer to being disclosed.

Gordon sharpened his focus and characterizes Obama's unwanted publicizing of Navy Seals missions for what it is: a political ploy:

The first problem with Mr. Obama singling out our elite units is that they all live and train somewhere. High-profile discussions draw more attention to them personally, their families, their bases and their local communities. That presents force-protection concerns in our open society, where the Sept. 11 hijackers lived freely and the "Occupy" protesters have run amok.

The second problem is that heaping such praise on a select few in uniform can be deceiving. Instead of Americans focusing on how Mr. Obama is weakening the military with a projected $1 trillion in defense cuts over the next decade, the elimination of 100,000 ground troops, cuts in personnel incentives such as tuition assistance for college, and raised retiree health care costs, many might mistakenly conclude that he actually is a strong, pro-military leader. Thus, voters might be tempted to give him a second term, while in reality, he is slashing defense budgets, as Mr. Carter did.

Who would have guessed that Navy Seals -- among the most courageous of our soldiers -- have been drafted to serve as Obama reelection campaign volunteers?

Ironically, the Pentagon spending cuts that the administration is planning will put even more demands on special operation forces. Thousands of combat troops will be eliminated from the Army and Marines Corps. The Obama team is trying to allay fears regarding our weakness by suggesting that Special Operations can pick up the "slack." However, the members of Special Forces are selected from a larger pool of personnel in regular forces. By reducing the strength of those units, the pool of good recruits gets smaller. Also, Special Forces operate in conjunction with larger units in the Army, Navy, and Marines Corps. By reducing the strength of those forces, Special Operations units may not be as potent. Even more impactful and damaging that at the same time the administration is stating its goal is to rely more on Special Forces, its own actions are endangering future missions.

But, of course, the exploitation get worse. Obama is allowing his Hollywood donors to coin a profit from the heroic bin Laden mission the Seals undertook. Obama supporters in Hollywood are rushing to make a film about the raid originally scheduled to be released one month before the election. Apparently, the administration is greasing the way for the people behind the film/campaign spot to have high-level access to speed along the production.

Congressman Peter King, chairman of the House Security Committee, has called for an investigation, as Caroline May of the Daily Caller has noted:

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee has called for an investigation into reports that the Obama administration is granting Sony Pictures and director Kathryn Bigelow "high-level access" for a film about the Navy SEAL operation which killed Osama Bin Laden. The movie is scheduled for release one month before the 2012 presidential election. By the time it hits the screen, will Obama be portrayed as a heroic commander-in-chief in the way that John F. Kennedy and Dwight Eisenhower were? Hollywood is one creative town.

New York Republican Rep. Peter King sent a letter Tuesday to Defense Department Inspector General Gordon Heddell and CIA Inspector General David Buckley, expressing his concern about declassifying sensitive information for pure entertainment.

Obama is masking with photo-ops the fact that he is eviscerating our military to fund programs that reward his base. Obama has previously defined politics as all about rewarding friends and punishing enemies. He has been sending hundreds of billions of dollars to his base (government workers, crony capitalists, environmentalists -- the list goes on and on) while slashing funds for our military. He rewards his friends in Hollywood by using the powers of his office to aid them in producing a film that will undoubtedly reflect well on him. Cleverly, the Hollywood cast of characters behind this film do not even have to declare the millions spent on this film as a campaign contribution. Barack Obama is cynically using our soldiers as political props for his campaign.

When the Commander-in-Chief exploits the heroic work of our military he not only degrades the office but endangers the lives of our soldiers.

This is a dereliction of duty on his part-and he should suffer the political equivalent of a court martial come November.

Hamas and the Washington establishment

Caroline Glick

To date, the Republican presidential primary race has been the only place to have generated any useful contributions to America's collective understanding of current events in the Middle East. Last month, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich became the first major political figure in more than a generation to pour cold water over the Palestinian myth of indigenous peoplehood by stating the truth, that the Palestinians are an "invented people."

As Gingrich explained, their invention came in response to Zionism, the Jewish national liberation movement. Since they were created somewhere around 1920, the Palestinians' main purpose has not been the establishment of a Palestinian state but the obliteration of the Jewish state.
For his truth telling, Gingrich was attacked by fellow politicians and policy hands on both sides of the ideological divide. To his credit, Gingrich has not backed away from the truth he spoke. Rather he has repeated it in two subsequent Republican candidates' debates.

The second important contribution that Republican presidential candidates have made to the discourse on the Middle East was undertaken by Texas Gov. Rick Perry during a candidates' debate in South Carolina on January 17, shortly before he pulled out of the race. When asked about Turkey, Perry said that country "is being ruled by what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists." He went on to say that the US ought to be having a debate about whether Turkey should continue to serve as a member of NATO.

Like Gingrich, Perry was pilloried by all right thinking people in the US foreign policy elite. And like Gingrich, Perry was right. The hoopla his statement generated showed just how destructive so much of America's received wisdom about the Middle East has become. Moreover, it demonstrated the extent to which the US has adopted Middle East policies that are inimical to its national interests.

After Hamas won the Palestinian elections in January 2006, Turkey was the first country to invite Hamas's terror master Khaled Mashal to Ankara. Turkish Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan's move provoked criticism from the Bush administration. But Erdogan just shrugged it off. And he was right to do so. By 2006, then secretary of state Condoleezza Rice had come to view Erdogan as the US's indispensable ally in the Muslim world. As she saw it, he was proof that Islamist parties could be democratic and moderate.

The fact that Erdogan embraced Hamas could not get in the way of Rice's optimistic assessment. So, too, the fact that Erdogan embarked on a systematic campaign to stifle press freedom, curb judicial independence and imprison his political critics in the media and the military could not move Rice from her view that Erdogan personified her belief that moderate jihadists exist and ought to be embraced by the US.

Rice's starry-eyed view of Erdogan set the stage of US President Barack Obama's even stronger embrace of the increasingly tyrannical Turkish Islamist. Since Obama took office, not only has Ankara stepped up its support of Hamas, and ended even the pretense of a continued strategic alliance with Israel that it maintained during the Bush years. Turkey began serving as Iran's chief diplomatic protector while vastly expanding its own strategic and economic ties with Tehran.

In the face of Turkey's openly anti-American behavior and actions, Obama clings to Erdogan even more strongly than Rice did. Obama reportedly views Erdogan as his most trusted foreign adviser. According to the media, Obama speaks with Erdogan more often than he speaks to any other foreign leader. In a recent interview with Time magazine, Obama listed Erdogan as one of the key foreign leaders with whom he has formed a friendship based on trust.

Over the past few weeks, Turkey has emerged as Hamas's largest financier. During an official visit in Turkey, Hamas's terror master in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh received a hero's welcome. Erdogan pledged to finance the jihadist movement to the tune of $300 million per year.

COMMENTATORS CLAIM that Turkey's sponsorship of Hamas was necessitated by Iran's abandonment of the terror group. Iran, it is claimed, cut Hamas off in August due to the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood's refusal to actively assist Iran's other Arab client - Syrian President Bashar Assad - in massacring his domestic opponents.

These analyses are problematic for two reasons. First, it is far from clear that Iran cut Hamas off. Iran's rulers have invited Haniyeh to Tehran for an official visit. This alone indicates that the mullahs remain committed to maintaining their relationship with the jihadist movement that controls the Gaza Strip.

And why would they want to cut off that relationship?

By serving as Hamas's chief sponsor since 2006, Iran has won enormous credibility in the Arab world. This credibility has bought Tehran influence with the likes of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and beyond. Particularly now, with the Brotherhood taking over Egypt and much of the Arab world, Iran would only stand to lose by cutting off Hamas.

The second problem with these assessments is that it makes little sense to believe that Turkey has replaced Iran as Hamas's main state sponsor since Iran and Turkey are not necessarily competing over Hamas. Given the interests shared by Tehran and Ankara, it is far more reasonable to assume that they are coordinating their moves regarding Hamas.

Iran became Hamas's chief financier and weapons supplier the same year that Erdogan emerged as Hamas's most important political supporter. And in the six years since then, Iran and Turkey have become strategic allies. Even with regards to Syria, the fact that Assad remains in power today is due in no small measure to the fact that Erdogan has used his influence over Obama to ensure that the US has remained on the sidelines and so effectively supported Assad's survival.

In light of Erdogan's enormous influence over leaders in both US parties, it is little wonder that Perry's factual statement about the nature of the Turkish government and the need for the US to reassess its strategic alliance with Turkey provoked such an across the board outcry. Erdogan's close relationship with Obama - like his previously close relationship with Rice - renders it well nigh impossible for US government officials and inside-the Beltway "experts" to make the kind of commonsense assessments of Turkey's counterproductive regional role that an outsider like Perry was able to make from his perch in Austin, Texas.

CONTRARY TO what several leading commentators have argued since the onset of the Syrian popular rebellion against Assad, Hamas has not been seriously damaged by the events. True, its leaders are looking for a new place to station their headquarters. But there is no law that requires terrorist organizations to have one central office. The families of Hamas's leadership have decamped to Jordan. Hamas leaders have close relations with the Qataris - who remain major funders - as well as with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the Sudanese regime.

In addition to these state supporters, through its relations with Turkey and Fatah, Hamas has Washington as well. To understand how Washington acts as Hamas's protector, it is necessary to consider not only the corrosive impact of Washington's relations with Turkey, but also the nature of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

Since its inception in 1993, the peace process has been predicated on Israeli concessions to the Palestinians. To the extent that Israel makes concessions, the peace process is seen as advancing. To the extent that Israel fails to make concessions, the peace process is seen as collapsing. True, at certain times, the Bush administration blamed the Palestinians for the failure of the peace process, but the blame owed to the fact that Palestinian terrorism made Israel less amenable to concession making.

Palestinian terrorism was not in and of itself blamed for the demise of the peace process. Rather it was perceived as the means through which Israel avoided making more concessions. And at certain times, the US supported Israel's avoidance of concession making.

Since Israeli concessions to the Palestinians are the only tangible component of the peace process, the US, as the chief sponsor of the peace process, requires the Palestinian Authority - run by Fatah - to be accepted as a credible repository for Israeli concessions regardless of its actual nature. Consequently, despite Fatah's two unity deals with Hamas, its sponsorship of terrorism, its incitement of terrorism, its refusal to accept Israel's right to exist, its adoption of negotiating positions that presuppose Israel's demise, and its conduct of political warfare against Israel, neither the Bush administration nor the Obama administration ever showed the slightest willingness to consider ending their support for the PA.

If Israel has no peace partner, then it can't make concessions. And if it can't make concessions, there is no peace process. And that is something that neither the Bush administration nor the Obama administration was willing to countenance.

It is true that under Obama the US has become far more hostile towards Israel than it was under Bush. The most important distinction between the two is that whereas George W. Bush sought to broker a compromise deal between the two sides, Obama has adopted Fatah's negotiating positions against Israel. As a consequence of Obama's actions, the peace process has been derailed completely. Fatah has no reason to compromise since the US will blame Israel no matter what. And Israel has no reason to make concessions since the US will deem them insufficient.

Noting this distinction, Washington Post commentator Jennifer Rubin wrote this week that for the benefit of the peace process, it is important for a Republican administration to be elected to replace Obama in November. As she put it, "If history is any guide, progress is made in the 'peace process' when the Israeli prime minister operates from a position of strength and has the full support of the US president. We might get there, albeit not until 2013."

The problem with her analysis is that it is of a piece with the insiders' attacks on Gingrich and Romney alike. That is, it is based on the false assumptions of the peace process and the generally accepted wisdom embraced by the American foreign policy elite on both sides of the aisle that the PA is a reasonable repository for Israeli concessions.

Here it is worth noting that this week Fatah-controlled PA TV aired a sequence venerating the murderers of the Fogel family. Udi and Ruth Fogel and their children Yoav, Elad and Hadas were brutally murdered in their home last March.

Fatah's glorification of their murderers is yet further proof that the foundations of the peace process are false. Peace cannot be based on appeasing societies that uphold mass murderers as role models. It can only be based on empowering free societies to defeat societies that embrace murder, terror and in the case of Hamas, genocide.

And this brings us back to the Republican primaries and Gingrich's and Perry's statements. For the US to secure its interests in the Middle East, it requires leaders who are willing to reassess what passes for common wisdom on both sides of the aisle.

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.

Response to Ron Paul: Did U.S. Policy Make Today's Islamist Iran Hate America?

Barry Rubin

Presidential candidate Ron Paul has said repeatedly that Iranians hate America because of its role in the 1953 coup overthrowing Prime Minister Muhammad Mossadegh. Like his frequent claims that the September 11 attack was a response to a supposed decade-long U.S. bombing of Iraq.

In fact, about the only intense bombing of Iraq done by the United States in the last twenty years was for two weeks at the start of the 2003 war and one time in retaliation against an assassination plot against former president George Bush. From time to time, U.S. planes also hit Iraqi radar defenses, not likely as a source for the September 11 attacks. The picture that Paul's statement implies is some sort of constant attack targeting Iraqi civilians.

But people know far less about the 1953 case, though it has long been a source of complaint by left-wing critics of U.S. foreign policy. I was the first scholar to see the U.S. government records for the crisis hen writing my book, Paved with Good Intentions: The American Experience and Iran, in 1979. Here is a brief summary of the key points. The nationalist government of Muhammad Mossadegh had nationalized the British oil company. While a well-intentioned democratic-minded modernizer, Mossadegh was also a personally erratic and incompetent prime minister. And the social base for parliamentary democracy in Iran was clearly not strong enough. In the face of a British embargo on Iran selling its oil--the British argued that it was "stolen property"--and many domestic problems, the country was spiraling into chaos. While the British were interested in getting the oil company back, the United States was worried about a Communist takeover. A group of pro-Shah Iranians teamed up with the British to propose a "counter-coup" in which the Shah would break openly with Mossadegh and the monarch's supporters would overthrow the prime minister.

First, the pressure for the coup came from the British. The Truman Administration, which left in office in January 1953, opposed American involvement. However, the situation worsened and the Eisenhower Administration changed U.S. policy on the issue.

Mossadegh was an extremely unstable person and leader. He was clearly losing control of the country and the Communist Party, which backed him, was gaining power steadily. A close examination of the documents shows that whether it was correct or not U.S. fear of a Communist takeover was based on serious evidence. This was the midst of the Cold War and the USSR was Iran’s northern neighbor. The Soviets had occupied northern Iran from 1941 to 1946, to secure the country’s oil during World War Two, set up puppet regimes inside the country, and only withdrew under intensive U.S. pressure.

On balance, and after long consideration, I think the coup was a proper move for U.S. policy. One can say that it denied Iran a democratic regime but the way things were going, that was about to collapse into anarchy, a coup, or a Communist takeover anyway.

What is especially interesting in retrospect is that one of the main supporters of the move were the Iranian Muslim clerics, including Ayatollah Kashani, the man who would be a role model for Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. I saw how he and his colleagues met with U.S. officials and urged a coup, since they also feared a Communist regime. It is ironic for Islamists to complain about a U.S. policy that they actively backed at the time.

Second, in legalistic terms the U.S. argument was that this was actually a “counter-coup” because the shah had the right to dismiss Mossadegh. The regime—as opposed to a particular prime minister—was not being overthrown by a coup but rather it was being saved from a coup by Mossadegh. This case is not rock-solid but has some standing. The situation was not like a Latin American military overthrowing a democratic government.

I have stated things here briefly and have not done justice to the complexity of the situation. A real argument can be mounted against U.S. policy at the time but in the end I don't find it convincing and this is certainly not a case of an unjustified action aimed against someone because he was a liberal reformer or moderate nationalist.

But the most important point for today is the question of how this action reverberated over time: the Shah ruled for a quarter-century and basically did about as good a job as anyone was going to do there. He was a dictator, the regime had a high level of corruption, and the secret police used torture. Yet in many ways the succeeding regime has been even worse.

For U.S. policy, the two key questions were: did a better alternative exist and is a quarter-century success a failure because it comes to an end. I’d say a better alternative didn’t exist at the time and that if a policy works for 25 years that policy isn’t a failure.

As for the coming to power of a radical Islamist regime—as we are now seeing in countries like Egypt and Libya—that isn’t due to American backing for the previous ruler but to the nature of the societies involved.
All of this, however, only leads up to responding to Ron Paul’s claim. Liberal nationalist Iranians have blamed the United States for overthrowing Mossadegh, who after all was their leader. Yet these people have never been in power in Iran and only comprise a small portion of its population (though a larger portion of the exiled intelligentsia, the people who write book on the subject).

One of the very first acts of the Islamist regime—whose predecessors in the 1950s supported U.S. policy by the way—was to repress the followers of Mossadegh. Consequently, a country whose rulers supported a coup and then repressed the opponents of the coup can scarcely be said to hate America for supporting the coup.

There is one more point that doesn’t fit well with the currently hegemonic radical ideology expressed by the supporters of both Obama and Ron Paul but it must be included if one is ever going to understand Iran. Power is respected; weakness is not. In 1978 and 1979 the Carter Administration basically refused to support the Shah in the belief that this diffidence would win Iranian’s love. In fact it led to disaster.

The Clinton Administration in effect tried to do the opposite of what American policy had been in 1953. You can see the results for yourself. Many Iranians, especially those unhappy with the Islamist regime, believe that the United States put Khomeini in power the way that it returned the Shah to power a quarter-century earlier. In short, American power is exaggerated by Iranians who are either going to jump on the U.S. bandwagon or blame the United States no matter what happens.

Why is Ron Paul so much like Barack Obama on foreign policy? Because both men tend to blame America first and neither have a firm grasp of the realpolitik principles that must usually guide international policy. They also both overstate the role of things like popularity in global affairs.

In Paul's case this makes him an isolationist, arguing that if the United States doesn't bother other countries they will leave America alone.

In Obama's case, he believes that America is bad for the world, mistakes America's enemies as the good guys, and rejects U.S. interests in the belief that it is better to please other countries believing it will make them leave America alone. .

They also have something else in common: they ignore or misunderstand the internal realities of other countries. The Islamist regime in Iran doesn't hate America because of its past policy toward Iran but because it stands in the way of Tehran's program: Islamist revolutions everywhere; the destruction not only of Israel but of virtually all regimes in the region; and their replacement by Iran-style governments and societies.

The issue--as with the USSR and the fascist states--is not hatred of either U.S. policies or freedom but the fact that America is a geopolitical enemy, making it harder or impossible for their radical ideology to conquer the world or at least their part of it.

Barry Rubin's latest book, Israel: An Introduction, has just been published by Yale University Press.

For further reading on this issue, see:
Barry Rubin, Paved with Good Intentions: The American Experience and Iran, hardcover: Oxford University Press; paperback: Viking/Penguin. Published in Persian in Tehran as The War for Power in Iran.

“Regime Change and Iran: A Case Study,” Washington Quarterly, 2003, and published as "Lessons from Iran," in Alexander T. J. Lennon and Camille Eiss,Reshaping Rogue States: Preemption, Regime Change, and U.S. Policy toward Iran, Iraq, and North Korea, (Boston, MIT Press, 2004), pp. 141-156.

Palestinian kids created as "fertilizer," to saturate the land with blood

Fatah: "Our children... were created to be fertilizer
for the land of Palestine, and for our pure land
to be saturated with their blood"

PA children sing: "My pure land, I shall saturate you
with my blood... redeem you with my life"

by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik

Dying for the sake of "Palestine" as an ideal, even for Palestinian children and youth, remains part of Palestinian discourse.

This week, official Palestinian Authority TV reported from a Fatah celebration in a refugee camp in Lebanon and chose to focus on the following slide shown at the celebration. Fatah's message was that children are created so that their blood will be "fertilizer" to saturate the land: "Our children are our glory and honor,
they were created to be fertilizer for the land of Palestine,
and for our pure land to be saturated with their blood."

Earlier this month, a PA-Fatah celebration in Ramallah featured a performance with the same message. In front of senior PA leaders, including Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, young children and youth performed a song that included the following words:
"My pure land, I shall saturate you with my blood...
redeem you with my life."

Palestinian Media Watch has reported extensively on the PA's teaching of children to die as Martyrs for "Palestine." During the PA's terror campaign (the "Intifada," 2000-2005), the PA encouraged children to aspire for Martyrdom death as a central part of its message to children. Today, the message that children should die for "Palestine" is less prominent, but still found in PA schoolbooks and is expressed in cultural settings through song and dance.

During the terror campaign, PA TV videos presented martyrdom death for children as "sweet." One PA TV music video broadcast hundreds of times from 2001 to 2004, showed a young boy falling dead on the ground to the words: "How sweet is Shahada (Martyrdom), when I am embraced by you, my land!"
As a result, children presented death for kids as "sweet" in TV interviews. In 2002, at the height of the terror campaign, an 11-year-old Palestinian girl said on PA TV: "Of course Shahada is sweet. We don't want this world, we want the Afterlife."

As a result of the many years of PA urging children to become Martyrs, Palestinian adults and children still see Martyrdom death as an ideal. Parents speak with honor of their "heroic" children who fell as Martyrs, and children talk of becoming Martyrs.

The following is the text displayed at a Fatah event in a refugee camp in Lebanon, shown on PA TV:

PA TV narrator: "In the refugee camp Ein Al-Hilwe [in Lebanon], a rally was held in celebration of the [47th] anniversary [of Fatah]. A political symposium was also held on the occasion of the event."
Text on slide at event:
"Our children are our honor and glory,
they were created to be fertilizer for the land of Palestine,
and for our pure land to be saturated with their blood"
[PA TV (Fatah), Jan, 24, 2012]

The following is an excerpt of a song performed by children at an event marking the 47th anniversary of the Fatah movement. PA leaders applaud kids sing "I shall saturate you with my blood... redeem you with my life":

Present at the ceremony: Prime Minister Salam Fayyad; Secretary General of the Presidential Office, Al-Tayeb Abd Al-Rahim; Secretary of the PLO Executive Council, Yasser Abd Rabbo; District Governor of Ramallah and El-Bireh Laila Ghannam; Fatah spokesman Ahmed Assaf.

Song by the Raji'in group (children and youth):

"How beautiful you are, my country
The love in my heart for you is great
You have brought up and educated
generation after generation,
You waited patiently and discovered your heroic children
Oh, my pure land, I shall saturate you with my blood
I shall live and die upon your green ground
Your ground satiates us, your goodness satisfies us
I shall redeem you with my life, oh my land
Your embrace warms us
Your ground satiates us, your goodness satisfies us
I shall redeem you with my life, oh my land
Your embrace warms us"
(emphasis added)

Applause by PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Secretary General of the President's office Tayeb Abd Al-Rahim and PLO Secretary General Yasser Abd Rabbo.
[Live PBC broadcast from Ramallah, PA TV (Fatah), Jan. 5, 2012]
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American Tyrants

Sultan Knish

When Elizabeth Warren went on MSNBC to deny that she was a member of the 1 percent despite her nearly 15 million dollar net worth, the denial had a cultural element to it. Despite being a millionaire, Warren did not see herself as "wealthy".

The current debate over the 1 percent and the 99 percent is notable mainly for the shifting boundaries that are not based on economics, but on identity. For all its 'Power to the People' antics American liberalism is not a movement of struggling people, there is a reason why the word limousine so often comes before liberal. Its roots lie in an upper class New England strata that relentlessly fought against Southern Baptists and working class Catholic immigrants. Those roots define modern day liberals much more so than the Jacksonian populism that they occasionally try to imitate. The American liberal is not a populist, he is still a New England preacher, but without a religion to preach. He has a great faith in the virtues of an ordered moral society, even if that ordered moral society would have been completely incomprehensible and unacceptable to his forebears. It is a society based on the virtues of tolerance and the rule of the enlightened.

The inflow of the European left has brought in a strain of power to the people populism, but that has not made the American liberal take seriously the notion that the people whose rights he defends are his intellectual or social equals, no more than the 19th century New York Republicans patting African-Americans on the head while stomping on the Irish viewed either group as equals.

American liberalism has traveled a slightly altered road to get to the same place. But its place is still at the top and everyone else's place is still at the bottom. Its persistent denial of this basic truth leads to the perennial absurdity of millionaires like Elizabeth Warren playing class warrior when the only class they represent is the class of people who work for the government.

The oligarchy which is busy bleeding the country dry does not represent any group of working people anywhere in the country. Not Protestant or Catholic, black or white, or of any other creed or identity. Like every ideology incarnated in a system, it represents its own interests. The Democratic Party is the government party. It exists to create jobs in government, to dispense government subsidies and to expand the power and scope of its organization. It is not fundamentally any different than Putin's United Russia or Israel's Kadima or similar political creatures around the world.

The strange intermarriage of New England moralists, New York merchants and European radicals eventually led to a system of pushing immigrants into government service, mandating tolerance and running every aspect of human life through Washington D.C. It took a while to get there, but the system is a decade or two away from being complete. When it is complete then all our lives will be run in every possible way by the Elizabeth Warrens who will smile condescendingly at us, nudge us in the direction we are supposed to go, and when we don't go there, then the fines and the tasers come out.

No matter how far back you go, the roots of American liberalism lie in a fear of the people, a distrust of the great unwashed. American liberals have championed voting rights, so long as they were confident that those voting were their inferiors and could be herded into voting the right way. They have always distrusted the instincts of the public, no matter how much pious ink they spilled fighting on their behalf.

That view of man's sinful nature still informs their deepest thinkers, and the sins are still the same, the failure of fellowship, the refusal to consider the welfare of others and march in lockstep to create that ideal society. The New Jerusalem of universal brotherhood. Those ideas have been dressed up in modern clothing, transmitted as denunciations of racism and bigotry, immigration advocacy and hate crime laws, but underneath is the same notion that a society of good will to all can be forced through rigorous regimentation by the truly enlightened.

The populism of the American liberal is a cynical dumbshow where representatives of the oppressed gather in conclaves to demand more oppression by their liberal oppressors. This spectacle is at the heart of a political oligarchy, which like every oligarchy is built on government subsidies and special access to power for the privileged. And like all oligarchies it must disguise its nature by playing the protector of the people. Unlike them it must also disguise its true nature from itself.

The convergence of the ideal society and the government society was inevitable from the start. It took a while to overcome the technological and cultural barriers to running an entire country from a central point. Those barriers have never been truly overcome, but the technocratic mirage makes it seem as if they have been. And the ongoing faith in a perfectible society run by the saints makes it seem as if it must be.

The American liberal would still like to play at being humble, a 99 percenter fighting against the chimera of a 1 percent oligarchy. But the entire 99 percent theme is that the 1 percent isn't paying enough taxes. And whom do those taxes go to but to the administration and employment of the professional class warrior millionaires.

It is the very Everest of hypocrisy for the members of the oligarchy to be bemoaning all the extra tax money that could be used to pay their six figure salaries, while passing off their naked greed as a crusade on behalf of the oppressed.

There is nothing of working class advocacy in a government party looking to shovel more tax revenues into the insatiable gaping maw of its bureaucratic machinery. The idea that those monies will be used to help the downtrodden is a delusion that a brief glimpse at how much money went to connected companies and to the expansion of the government bureaucracy should easily cure. This isn't any 99 percent at work here. It's the 9 percent against the 63 percent.

Warren thinks of herself as not wealthy because despite her millions, she is engaged in the pious practice of public service. However big her financial resources may be, they are part of the collective whole of the oligarchy and in a different category altogether from the wealth that is earned or inherited.

To the American liberal, riches are not a matter of economics, but of identity. Wealth is a moral entity, not an economic one. What distinguishes pious millionaires like Warren from the heathens who make their money the old fashioned way is that the former achieve it through the moral pursuit of the public good, which is all the more pious for taking them to a Harvard professorship or a job in government, while the latter achieve it through economic transactions in the private sector. The former is a form of public service, the latter is public exploitation.

But a closer look at the bones and carcass of this system turns those definitions on their head. It is the Warrens who are the exploiters, consuming the wealth of a nation and spawning more committees, regulations and regulatory committees to keep on feeding off the wealth. What they give to us in exchange for what they take is not a service, it is oppression masquerading as feudal protectionism.

The American liberal is eager to protect us from powerful interests, but who will protect us from his protection, and who will turn off that protection and the money it costs us to pay for it, and worse still the freedoms that are consumed in order that we may be properly protected from ourselves.

No tyrant looks in a mirror and sees an oppressor. Tyrants are always protectors of the people. And our own American Tyrants are equally certain that they are the protectors of a people who would otherwise run off cliffs, throw lawn darts at each other, tear the tags off mattresses, make racist jokes, open pill bottles too easily, have inappropriate opinions and reinforce the oppressive heteronormative patriarchy which they have thoughtfully replaced with a vast echoing bureaucratic state in which everyone is free to be different in the same way.

The American liberal does not like the people very much. Most disguise it a bit better than Elizabeth Warren but that discomfort is always there. And the discomfort comes with a distrust. They don't like us and they don't trust the sort of shenanigans we might get up to when they aren't looking. Instead they are always looking, always nudging, always telling us what to think and how to live and otherwise protecting us from ourselves.

The tyrannical impulses were always there in American liberalism and like water on lilies, power brought them forth. Now we live under a system which strangles us to protect us from ever getting rid of it. The men and women strangling us smile awkwardly and tell us that it is for our own good. This tyranny for our own good requires that they toss aside our laws and replace them with their own. It requires that they spend us into bankruptcy, with much of the proceeds going to them, but in the name of a higher cause. And it demands that we praise them and if we won't do that, then it demands that we shut up and stop broadcasting our dissatisfaction. There is no place in their ideal national community for people like us.

The Pragmatics of Lebanon's Politics

Hilal Khashan
Middle East Quarterly
Winter 2012 (view PDF)


Lebanese society has had a remarkable ability to overcome deep-rooted sectarian and religious divides that could readily have imploded less problematic countries. This has been largely due to its pragmatic political system, which avoids acting upon polarizing issues on principle, opting instead for pragmatic loopholes. Given their confessional political system, Lebanese are conditioned to think pragmatically even when the issue at hand is divisive and does not lend itself to resolution. In Lebanon, pragmatism is a necessity and not an option as failure to accommodate other sects might ruin the country's delicate fabric.

Three vivid illustrations of this dynamic can be seen in the handling of the issues preoccupying Lebanese decision-makers these days: Hezbollah's continued militarization, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), and the Syrian connection Hezbollah's Militarization

Demands to disarm Hezbollah have grown since its 2006 war with Israel from Sunni as well as from some Shiite politicians only to be countered by other leaders in the patchwork politics that is Lebanon.
Most non-Shiite Lebanese find it difficult to accept Hezbollah's armament and have not missed an opportunity to express displeasure with the fact that, while the 1989 Ta'if agreement called for the demilitarization of all Lebanese militias, Hezbollah was exempted on the grounds that it was resisting Israel's presence in southern Lebanon. As much as they disapprove of Hezbollah's behavior, Lebanese find it politically correct to praise its "resistance." The proverb "kiss the hand you cannot bite" seems to fit the way many Lebanese view the militant Islamist group.

Against this backdrop, it is hardly surprising that Hezbollah's military buildup and its rivals' intensifying demand for its disarmament have been the most divisive issue since Israel's withdrawal from its security zone in south Lebanon in May 2000. This demand for disarmament gained considerable momentum after the July 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war as the eviction of Hezbollah from its bases south of the Litani River and the deployment of the Lebanese army in its place led critics to question the need for the group's continued militarization.

Thus, for example, the pro-Hariri member of parliament (MP) Ahmad Fatfat argued that Hezbollah's primary concern had shifted from confronting Israel to controlling Lebanon "and transforming it into a forward base on the Mediterranean for Iran."[1] His parliamentary peer Sami Jemayyil compared "Hezbollah's expansionist behavior in Lebanon" to that of the Zionists, while former Lebanese president Amin Jemayyil noted that "Hezbollah seems preoccupied these days with controlling the site of the Lebanese government in Beirut and the Special Tribunal's location in [the] Hague."[2] Addressing his supporters on the sixth anniversary of the March 14 coalition, former prime minister Saad Hariri criticized "the supremacy of [Hezbollah's] arms and the manner in which it is influencing the formation of the country's forthcoming cabinet [of Najib Miqati]."[3]

Even Nabih Berri, speaker of parliament and leader of the Shiite Amal movement—who showered Hezbollah with praise and defended its right to resist "the Israeli occupation" as "nonnegotiable"[4]—was paraphrased by a released Wikileaks cable as having privately said that "he supported Israeli military action against Hezbollah in 2006 as long as it did not backfire and create more public support for the party."[5]

It makes eminent sense for Berri to wish the demise of Hezbollah, whose rise to prominence among Lebanese Shiites came at Amal's expense. This does not seem to be the case with Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, who has perfected the shadowy art of doublespeak, rejecting Hezbollah's use of arms for domestic purposes while refusing "to expose Lebanon to Israeli aggression."[6] Jumblatt won notoriety for continuously vacillating from one political camp to another. His ambivalent statement above suggests that he does not preclude the possibility of returning to the March 14 coalition should Hezbollah's fortunes wane.

But most surprising and perplexing was the change of heart of Bishara Boutros Rai since his appointment as Maronite patriarch in March 2011. In his previous capacity as archbishop of Byblos, he voiced deep concern over Hezbollah's arsenal.[7] Once appointed to the top religious post, however, he expressed understanding of the group's reluctance to disarm: "The international community has not pressured Israel to pull out of Lebanese territory. Hezbollah also wants to help armed Palestinians in Lebanon who want to be granted the right of return to their lands. … When this happens, we will tell Hezbollah to disarm."[8] Ibrahim Amin Said, head of Hezbollah's politburo, concurred: "The issue has nothing to do with the manner in which the resistance uses its arms as some would like to argue; the issue pertains to the justification of the very existence of the resistance, and whether Lebanon should have a defense force capable of deterring the Israeli enemy."[9]
Special Tribunal for Lebanon

The issue of the U.N. Special Tribunal is even more divisive than Hezbollah's militarization. While Hezbollah takes pride in its weapons, presented as a deterrent to Israel, its implication in the 2005 assassination of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri brings shame to the organization. It seems that Hezbollah is more concerned about the moral blow to its image and prestige attending an association with the assassination than the arrest of its indicted members and their surrender to the U.N. Special Tribunal. The tribunal for its part scaled down the scope of its investigation, choosing to indict individuals in Hezbollah rather than the organization itself.

Accommodation and pragmatism have been extended even to the pursuit of justice where a delicate balance was struck between law enforcement and public peace. At least in their public pronouncements, Hezbollah spokesmen were still dissatisfied with the tribunal, even in its reduced scope. In a press conference held by Muhammad Raad, head of Hezbollah's parliamentary bloc, he described the tribunal as a "creation that serves international interests at the expense of the will and interests of the Lebanese people and their constitutional institutions" and called upon "all free, honorable, and nationalist Lebanese, regardless of their affiliations and positions, to boycott the tribunal's requests."[10] Nabil Qawuq, deputy chair of Hezbollah's Executive Council, derided the indictment of Hezbollah personnel as "an effort by the U.S. to compensate for its political defeats in Lebanon and the rest of the region."[11] Hashim Safieddine, chair of the council, ridiculed the Special Tribunal as "a political and media farce totally divorced from the pursuit of justice."[12]

Despite the overwhelming evidence implicating Hezbollah in the assassination, Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah and his allies have never ceased to plead the group's innocence. As soon as the tribunal indicted four Hezbollah members in the assassination, Nasrallah described them as honorable men who resisted Israel's occupation and, instead, laid the blame on the Jewish state, which had allegedly plotted the indictments.[13] When the tribunal revealed the names of these operatives shortly afterward and requested the Lebanese government to turn them in within thirty days to stand trial, Nasrallah responded disdainfully: "They cannot find them or arrest them in thirty days, or sixty days, or in a year, two years, thirty years, or three hundred years."[14] Nasrallah advised the leaders of the March 14 opposition not to expect the government of Prime Minister Najib Miqati to do in connection with the tribunal "what the government of his predecessor Saad Hariri couldn't do."[15]

For his part, Miqati emphasized Beirut's commitment to fulfill its international commitments, which included "paying its share of $32 million toward the cost of the STL operations,"[16] yet refused to "talk about solutions now, because I want the government efforts to succeed."[17] He also disregarded U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's concern about the Lebanese government's reaction to the deepening crisis in Syria, noting that he would not "endanger Lebanon by violating the rules of the international legitimacy."[18]

This did not escape Hezbollah's eye. Though repeatedly voicing his disapproval of financing the tribunal, Nasrallah and his colleagues were sympathetic to Miqati's predicament, claiming that the prime minister "must not be embarrassed by the reaction of the international community and his own constituency if he reneges on Lebanon's commitments."[19] They understand all too well that there is nothing they can do to stop the working of the tribunal. They can resent it and plead their innocence with their Shiite constituents—the main target audience of Hezbollah's rhetoric. As far as Hezbollah's leadership is concerned, what matters is how the Shiite community perceives them; the tribunal's activities are of far lesser concern as they seem to believe that its eventual impact will be minimal.
The Syrian Nexus

Lebanon's government finds itself in an unenviable position of having to accommodate Syrian interests and sensitivities, on the one hand, and the positions of its own divided communities vis-à-vis Syria, on the other. Ever since Lebanese independence, Damascus has been a constant political actor in its neighbor's affairs, forcing successive Lebanese governments to play a delicate game of appeasing everyone. Thus, for example the Lebanese government has recently stated that it cannot support a U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria, but it will abide by international resolutions, irrespective of what it thought of them.[20]

For their part, the Syrians have never reconciled themselves to Lebanon's creation on what they perceive as part of their territory. They also resented Beirut's development during the French Mandate from a slumbering provincial city into a business, medical, and educational hub, and it did not take long for relations to sour after the French departed in 1946. In 1950, the Syrian regime unilaterally dissolved the bilateral customs union and instigated the practice of closing down passenger and trade routes at will. Since then, bilateral relations have been characterized by envy, suspicion, resentment, and hate. It took the entry of the Syrian army into Lebanon in 1976 to finally give the Damascus regime a sense of vindication. Damascus's hegemony in Lebanon lasted until 2005 when the Syrian army pulled out shortly after Hariri's assassination.

Given their intense involvement in Lebanese affairs, the Syrians could always count on Lebanese allies. Certainly, any government in Beirut, irrespective of its relations with Damascus, understands the inherent mindset of the regime, which views the Lebanese as unappreciative of the selfless sacrifices of the Syrians on their behalf. Because Syrian officials seem to believe that retribution follows ingratitude, their Lebanese counterparts have been especially careful to avoid incurring their wrath. This has been particularly the case since the beginning of the Syrian uprising in mid-March 2011. The simultaneous inception of the Syrian protests with the decision of the March 14 coalition to boycott the Miqati cabinet gave ammunition to Damascus's official claim that "the security of the two countries is inseparable."[21] The Bashar al-Assad regime immediately accused the Future Trend party of providing material support for anti-regime elements. The secretariat general of the March 14 coalition responded by issuing a denouncement of the Baath regime's "baseless accusations of intervention in Syrian affairs, including support for saboteur networks."[22]

There is no denying that many Lebanese, especially Sunni Muslims, have expressed jubilation about the Syrian uprising, criticizing the Miqati government's decision to refrain from providing relief for the thousands of refugees fleeing Syrian army reprisals. Tripoli MP Muhammad Kabbara urged the Lebanese people to take the side of the Syrian people: "I hurt because the brotherly Syrian people are subjected to a systematic massacre, and I am ashamed because we are letting them down. We are under history's watchful eye. We must take political, moral, and humanitarian action to lend support to the Syrian people."[23] As in most protest organizing in Arab countries, the mosques played a key role in galvanizing Lebanese support for the anti-Assad movement. One hundred Sunni clerics convened in a Tripoli mosque to "express solidarity with the glorious popular uprising in Syria and to condemn the brutality of the Assad regime against unarmed protesters." They took issue with the regime's "labeling of demonstrators as foreign lackeys."[24]

In response to a call by the militant Hizb al-Tahrir al-Islami (Islamic Liberation Party)[25] for a pro-rebel demonstration in downtown Beirut, Lebanon's Arab Youth Party (a Syrian intelligence creation with no active membership) organized a counter rally in support of Assad. Party head Nadim Shimali condemned the anti-Assad rally as a violation of the 1989 Ta'if agreement, which stipulated that Lebanon would not allow itself to provide a base for any force, state, or organization seeking to undermine Syria's security. He urged the Lebanese authorities to crack down on anti-Syrian activities, threatening that otherwise his party would be forced to take matters into its own hands.[26] "The security forces complied with Shimali's warning and ensured that no activity would take place in Beirut or Tripoli to support the Syrian protest movement," lamented a communiqué issued by Hizb al-Tahrir. "They threatened to prevent any show of support outside mosques. In contrast, the [Lebanese] authorities allowed a handful of the Syrian regime's gangsters to demonstrate."[27]

However, this complaint was not entirely true. The government tried to strike a middle-of-the-road approach to the Lebanese divide vis-à-vis the Syrian upheavals. Lebanon's open political system did not interfere with the free expression of opinion on the Syrian situation. The Phalange Party, for example, announced that its branches in northern Lebanon were providing humanitarian and social aid "to Syrian families seeking refuge there."[28] The Future Trend party and Islamist groups threw themselves into providing humanitarian aid to several thousand Syrian refugees despite protests by the Syrian government and Hezbollah on the grounds that the refugees included subversive elements. The Lebanese military simply pulled out from the border area and allowed the Syrian army to chase defectors while, at the same time, it did not attempt to prevent sympathetic Lebanese groups from providing them with shelter. The Beirut government did all within its power to minimize the damage to its relations with Damascus as a result of the strong support among most Lebanese for the Syrian uprising. Foreign Minister Adnan Mansur made it clear that Beirut would not vote in favor of a Security Council resolution condemning Damascus.[29] This position was hardly defensible or consistent given that Lebanon's ambassador to the U.N. had proposed that the Security Council implement a no-fly zone over Libya to protect its people from the excesses of the Qaddafi regime.

The spread of protests inside Syria coincided with the deterioration of the security situation in Lebanon, including several attacks against the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in the south of the country. According to Fares Said, coordinator of the secretariat of the March 14 coalition, the surge of violence in Lebanon appears to be tied to statements from Damascus. Said was specifically alluding to the attacks on the French and Italian contingents in UNIFIL, the abduction of seven Estonians in the Bekaa Valley, and the Marun al-Ras incident where the Israelis opened fire on demonstrators who attempted to climb the border fence.[30] Indeed, Assad's cousin Rami Makhluf had warned that Israelis could not expect to live in peace while Syrians suffered from turmoil whereas Syrian foreign minister Walid Muallem threatened that EU sanctions against Damascus were bound to have an adverse impact on Europe's security.[31]

Small wonder that the Assad regime exhibited anger at expressions of solidarity with the protesters, especially by the Lebanese armed forces and the Phalange. Phalange MP Nadim Jemayyil made a statement that particularly infuriated the Syrian regime: "We cannot but side with the Syrian people in their confrontation of the repressive and dictatorial regime. We are willing to open a new chapter with the Syrian people and join hands to build a new Middle East founded on freedom and democracy."[32] Assad's people expected nothing less than such statements as Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlallah asserted that Washington was punishing Damascus by promoting the Syrian protest movement "in order to settle historical scores with the country that has always stood on the side of the forces of opposition to Israeli and American occupation."[33]

President Assad seemed in no mood for advice, certainly not from mercurial Druze chief Jumblatt who exhorted him "to think differently and recognize his people's legitimate demands in order to prevent Syria from slipping into chaos." Speaking carefully to avoid triggering a defensive reaction, Jumblatt explained that "the best advice he could give to the Syrian president had to be motivated by truthfulness, and not flattery."[34] When the Druze leader would not cease his repeated calls on Assad to reform, the Syrian authorities finally informed him that he was unwelcome in Damascus.[35] For Assad, his late father's brutally repressive practices of the 1970s and 1980s appeared fully appropriate in the second decade of the twenty-first century. He may have believed that his Tunisian and Egyptian counterparts fell too soon because they did not use sufficient force to suppress the opposition. Among his many repressive measures, Assad instructed his Beirut ambassador Ali Abdulkarim to chase and apprehend Syrian enemies of the regime in Lebanon. Indeed, Abdulkarim was singled out for U.S. and EU sanctions for his role in abducting opposition members in collusion with Lebanese authorities.[36]

The Lebanese government clamped down on Syrian opposition in Lebanon because of heavy pressure by the Assad regime to do so. Yet it showed leniency in dealing with the anti-Assad Lebanese protesters. Members of the Syrian opposition in Lebanon are not part of the country's political process and can be readily controlled. Dealing with the Lebanese groups and sects, by contrast, is a different matter altogether as they have a veto power and can bring the country's political system to a standstill.
Rational Polemics

Lebanon is not a failed state. Though its self-steering capability is grossly wanting, it is perfectly capable of making waves. Its political system may be akin to a person paralyzed below the waist but with functioning arms and intact vocal abilities. The creation of Greater Lebanon may not have been an entirely happy historical accident, yet it appears to be quite capable of dealing with its disabilities. It cannot make its own sovereign decisions, but it can almost always modify them to fit the exigencies of its unique political formula. For some countries, controversy can be politically debilitating; in Lebanon, it is a means of survival.

Hilal Khashan is a professor of political science at the American University of Beirut.

[1] An-Nahar (Beirut), Mar. 14, 2011.
[2] Ibid., Sept. 2, 2011.
[3] Al-Liwa (Beirut), Mar. 14, 2011.
[4] As-Safir (Beirut), Sept. 3, 2011.
[5] "No One Likes Them," Now Lebanon (Beirut), Sept. 15, 2011.
[6] Al-Hayat (London), Mar. 28, 2011.
[7] Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (Beirut), Feb. 9, 2010.
[8] As-Safir, Sept. 9, 2011.
[9] Al-Manar TV (Beirut), Mar. 21, 2011.
[10] An-Nahar, Mar. 5, 2011.
[11] Al-Jarida (Beirut), Mar. 6, 2011.
[12] An-Nahar, May 15, 2011.
[13] BBC World News, July 3, 2011.
[14] Ibid., July 29, 2011.
[15] As-Safir, July 4, 2011.
[16] As-Siyasa (Kuwait), Sept. 6, 2011.
[17] The Daily Star (Beirut), Sept. 12, 2011.
[18] An-Nahar, Sept. 3, 2011.
[19] Ukaz (Riyadh), Sept. 7, 2011.
[20] Ar-Rai (Kuwait), Oct. 4, 2011.
[21] Al-Jarida, May 28, 2011.
[22] An-Nahar, Apr. 21, 2011.
[23] Ibid., May 17, 2011.
[24] Al-Akhbar (Cairo), May 9, 2011.
[25] Committed to the reintroduction of the worldwide caliphate, this party rejects the existing order in all Arab and Islamic states and advocates its violent overthrow.
[26] The Daily Star, June 4, 2011.
[27] An-Nahar, June 4, 2011.
[28] Al-Anwar, May 27, 2011.
[29] As-Siyasa, Sept. 18, 2011.
[30] An-Nahar, May 29, 2011.
[31] Ibid.; al-Akhbar, Apr. 11, 2011.
[32] Al-Liwa, May 31, 2011.
[33] An-Nahar, May 9, 2011.
[34] Ibid., May 24, 2011.
[35] Al-Anba (Fallujah), Sept. 24, 2011.
[36] Ukaz, Sept. 7, 2011.

Rick Santorum Shows Us the Strong and Weak Points of Republican Foreign Policy Thinking

Barry Rubin

As Republican candidates begin to define a foreign policy alternative to President Barack Obama, it’s useful to analyze an international affairs’ speech given by presidential candidate Rick Santorum.

I am not writing to praise or criticize him as an individual—I’m not backing any candidate—but to show where strategic ideas are going and where they should be going. Everything said regarding Santorum also applies to Newt Gingrich and Mitch Romney.

Santorum is the most conservative. Note that this speech was given to an Orthodox Jewish synagogue audience in all-important Florida before the primary there. Thus, Santorum might be expected to pander by proving that he’s the most extreme and militant candidate supporting Israel and on the Iran issue. In fact, he doesn’t do so but rather proposes a policy that Democrats and real liberals should also support. Note well that he explicitly rejects a military attack on Iran There has been much foolish talk either about how an attack is a great idea or that it is a terrible notion that those crazy, warmongering Republicans eagerly embrace. That’ wrong on both counts.

Actually, Santorum proposes the kind of policy that Democrats and real liberals should support, too. At the same time, though, it shows how conservatives and Republicans are often careless when talking about foreign policy.

Santorum begins:

“The president says `the threat of war is receding’ but he’s wrong. The war is on, and its front lines are advancing towards us and our allies, above all toward Israel.”

But that’s not what Obama said but rather the “tide of war is receding” at the Pentagon recently, referring to direct U.S. engagement in Iran and Afghanistan. Santorum’s basic concept is right but the quote is taken out of context. He could have found a better one. That might not seem important to you but later in a campaign the mass media would have a field day ridiculing Santorum.

He continues:

“We're facing a global alliance that includes Russia, North Korea, China, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador and of course Cuba. They are outspoken in their desire to weaken us and drive us out of their regions. Some of them-- Iran, and the radical Islamists whose rise to power has been facilitated by this president--speak eagerly of destroying us, and our allies, especially Israel.”

Again, this is the kind of carelessness could be easily ridiculed by Obama’s supporters. Are these countries in a ‘global alliance”? Of course not. Is there evidence of a Chinese attempt to drive America out of Asia? No. Does the United States want to treat both Russia and China as enemies despite some real problems with conflicting policies? Dangerous adventurism.

On substance, though, Santorum is correct: there are powerful radical forces attacking U.S. interests and subverting its allies. This is the number one issue to which the United States must respond. Santorum says it perfectly when he continues: “We have no strategy to deal with this gathering storm. Indeed, our leaders act as if things are getting better every day.”

Unfortunately, Santorum doesn’t evince any broad counter-strategy that would be better but it isn’t hard to articulate one in clear terms the public can understand:

Recognize and define the threat; form a broad international coalition under U.S. leadership to combat it; back U.S. allies; wage appropriate struggles everywhere to stop the radicals’ advance and if possible push them back.

Santorum also barely mentions a critical issue where Obama is vulnerable: the gains made by revolutionary Islamism during the last year in Arabic-speaking lands.

That doesn’t mean he lacks some good, sophisticated arguments:

“President Obama seems to believe that sanctions on Iran will compel the fanatical rulers in Tehran to abandon their nuclear weapons program, fearing they will lose power if our sanctions continue and intensify. Has he considered the case of North Korea? Fanatical rulers do not care…about their people at all….And then they laugh at us, and organize thousands of people to chant `Death to America!’"

He adds that one reason radical regimes—largely a euphemism for revolutionary Islamists, right?--are so bold is that “we have yet to make them pay a price for the slaughter.”

Santorum really shows the right stuff in saying: “Indeed, our political leaders never talk about that. They talk about nukes and nukes alone, as if that were the only issue. But it isn't.” Yes, but bringing down the Iranian regime—largely because it is developing nuclear weapons?—is also not the only issue.

Here is something especially newsworthy from Santorum:

“Some say that this means we have to launch a military attack against Iran. I don't believe that. I think most Iranian people want to be free of their evil regime, and millions of them have taken to the streets, in the face of security forces all too happy to kill them, to show their contempt for their leaders. It's a revolutionary force, and we should support it.

“We defeated the Soviet Union without using military means. We supported the Soviet dissidents and refuseniks, and the Soviet regime collapsed. I believe we can do the same thing in Iran.

“Supporting those who fight for freedom in Iran is both strategically smart and morally just, and any president with moral and strategic vision would do it.”

While I agree with him about not attacking Iran militarily and the importance of supporting the Iranian opposition, Ronald Reagan could tell Santorum that the United States largely defeated the Soviet Union was by economic means, wearing it out in an arms’ race and through sanctions, too. Economic pressures certainly have an important role to play also.

Santorum ends with a six-point program for an Iran policy:

“1. First and foremost, publicly embrace the opposition, and call for regime change. We need a president and a secretary of state with the political courage to say, `Khamenei and Ahmadinejad must go. The Iranian people must freely choose their form of government and freely choose their leaders.’"

This makes sense because of the specific situation within Iran where there is strong opposition. Critics would respond that Iranian patriotism and the regime’s calling the opposition foreign agents would make such a policy counterproductive. This deserves serious discussion but since the regime does that anyway there is less to lose by such a strategy than it might appear.

Of course, Iran is not Libya. The United States is not going to bring the opposition to power, certainly not by military means. In my opinion, the regime is not about to fall either. But a declaratory policy—like sanctions—signals that the regime has provoked the United States to a point endangering their survival. Iranian political culture overstates U.S. power and influence within Iran and the rulers would take such a declaration seriously.

While avoiding any direct military activity that might lead to war, U.S. interests would benefit from more regime fear and less arrogance. Of course, as with current policy, it can also be made clear that if the regime changes course the United States would take that into account.

“2. Publicly condemn the regime's repression, the ghastly human rights violations, the systematic misogyny, the censorship of press, internet, access to international broadcasting (including VOA, Farda, etc.).”

The Obama Administration can argue that this has already been done but it has not been emphasized and the Iranian regime—with good reason--doesn’t take Obama seriously.

“3. We must publicly support freedom for Iranian workers, and then work with international trade union organizations to build a strike fund, just as we did for the Solidarity trade union in Poland in the last years of the Cold War.”

That policy seems more relevant to Poland than to Iran.

4. “We must help members of the opposition to safely communicate with one another. During the Cold War, we provided fax machines to Solidarity and Soviet dissidents; today the equivalent technologies include anti-filtering software built into cell phones and computers.”

“5. We have to talk to the dissident leaders. This is tricky. The Green Movement insists that they have no spokesmen or representatives outside the country. We need to establish reliable channels into Iran. It is best to do this without public attention, obviously, but it can be done.

“6. We need a campaign of public support for Iran’s political prisoners. We must identify them individually, by name. American diplomats attending international meetings and conferences should have a list of political prisoners, and call for their release and humane treatment.”

These last three are good ideas but what is glaringly missing here is a regional strategy of countering Iran’s efforts in Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain, and elsewhere. Saying you favor regime change and helping the opposition is fine but isn’t going to change much.

If Santorum and others want to look to U.S. Cold War strategy fine but let them comprehend what that means. It wasn’t only about backing Soviet dissidents by any means. Even in the dissident department, it was far more about helping Eastern European dissidents. In the Middle East case this means the real democratic oppositions in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey. But we should also be aware that even this is no magic solution because these forces tend to lose elections. Supporting electoral “democracy” is not a panacea as last years’ experience (and Palestinians and Lebanese politics, too) clearly indicates.

Santorum closes with a good theme but one more problematic than it seems at first glance. Referring to an article suggesting Obama led from behind, Santorum said: “I will lead from the front, which is America's mission.”

But he and the other Republican candidates should study the foreign policy sections of Obama’s State of the Union message. The president’s case is that he has led: I got bin Ladin; I stopped al-Qaida; I put together an international coalition to strengthen sanctions against; I won in Iraq and Afghanistan and am now withdrawing; I made America respected again.

Isn’t that at least a claim of having led from the front? Won’t a lot of Americans accept those claims?

A lot more work on the substance and message of foreign policy and national security strategy is needed if Obama is going to be defeated on that issue.

Professor Barry Rubin, Director, Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center http://www.gloria-center.org
The Rubin Report blog http://rubinreports.blogspot.com/
He is a featured columnist at PJM http://pajamasmedia.com/barryrubin/.
Editor, Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal http://www.gloria-center.org

Why does the ailing west aid its Islamist enemies?

The Australian

Was there ever a more perverse and self-destructive society than the contemporary West? In its attitude to the Middle East and the Islamic world, it appears to suffer from the political equivalent of auto-immune disease: turning on its allies while embracing its enemies.

One year ago, the US and Britain helped street protesters to overthrow president Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. Hailing the revolutionary tumult of the "Arab Spring" as the equivalent of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the West went on to help armed Libyan rebels remove president Muammar Gaddafi by military force. This regional strategy was promoted even though it was obvious from the start that the people who were best organised to take advantage of any elections in the Arab world were Islamists of one stripe or another - religious extremists all, united by their hostility to the West.

And so it has proved. The Islamists are coming to power in Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Tunisia, and in turn are being increasingly empowered elsewhere. In Libya, sickening atrocities, including the torture and killing of Gaddafi himself by a lynch mob, have been carried out by those brought to power with the assistance of British and US bombing raids.

Yet Western politicians are even now hymning the brave new dawn of democracy throughout the Muslim world. British Foreign Secretary William Hague conceded earlier this month that the regional violence and votes for Islamism were a "setback", but he insisted: "Greater freedom and democracy in the Middle East is an idea whose time has come."

And the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist organisation now in the ascendancy, which uses violence and political manipulation to advance its aim of world domination for Islam, is suddenly being hailed by Western leaders as the acme of moderation.

Yet in helping to get rid of Mubarak and Gaddafi, Britain and the US have managed the signal feat of ousting oppressive regimes that were at least helpful to the West, and replacing them with oppressive regimes that are acutely hostile to the West.

One immediate result is that the Sinai desert, neutralised as a trouble spot ever since Israel made peace with Egypt in 1979, has now become an acute threat to Israel's southern border. Hamas is now building arms-manufacturing facilities in Sinai, including those for building rockets, and other Islamic extremists are piling in.

Arms are being smuggled from Egypt into Gaza without interruption. Oh, and Libyan weapons, including Russian-made anti-plane rockets, are now making their way into the Gaza Strip. Well done, Britain and America!

And then there's Iran. Ever since the Islamic revolution in 1979, when the ayatollahs declared war on the West, Iran has been involved in many acts of terrorism against the US and Western interests. Tehran regularly threatens to wipe Israel off the map, and is now racing to develop nuclear weapons to realise its infernal goals.

Yet despite all this, the West has refused to fight back or even to acknowledge the Iranian war against the West, with President Barack Obama advertising US weakness by extending his hand in friendship to the regime.

Obama's catastrophic strategy has given Iran the one thing it needed above all else: time to bring its nuclear weapons program to fruition.

Only now, with the hands on the doomsday clock pointing to midnight, have Britain, the US and Europe finally imposed tough sanctions against Iran. But what use are these when they will almost certainly be busted by Russia and China?

Sanctions are supposed to force Iran to ‘come to its senses’ and stop its nuclear energy program from producing weapons. But the Tehran regime is dominated by fanatics who believe the Shia messiah, the Mahdi, will return to earth either as result of or to bring about the apocalyptic end of days.

That is why the argument that "They wouldn't dare launch a nuclear attack because they know half of Iran would be obliterated as a result" is fatuous. They would be happy if this were to occur.

But despite all this, Western leaders still behave as if the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is the dominant issue in the Arab world, and that the expansion of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land is the dominant issue in the Arab-Israel conflict.

Barely a week goes by without Western politicians or the media blaming "Israeli intransigence" in general, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in particular, for blocking the Israel-Palestinian peace process.

British Prime Minister David Cameron says time is running out for the two-state solution to the conflict because of "facts on the ground" - code for the Israeli settlements.

His deputy, Nick Clegg, went further, claiming the "illegal" settlement-building amounted to "an act of deliberate vandalism" that jeopardised a peaceful two-state solution.

Yet this was to ignore the fact it is the Palestinians, not Israel, who refuse to negotiate without preconditions. It ignores the fact that Israel has twice offered the Palestinians a state on most of the West Bank, to which the Palestinians have merely responded by terrorist campaigns.

And it ignores the absolutely fundamental fact that Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas has said the Palestinians will never accept Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.

So why does the West fail to see what is under its nose? There are several reasons, including prejudice, ideology, strategic short-sightedness and simple funk.

But the deeper reason is surely the Western belief that the world is basically governed by rationality. So all conflicts arise from grievances, and all parties can be persuaded to settle a quarrel in their own interests.

Refracting everything in the world through the prism of its unshakeable faith in universal reason, the West is incapable of recognising or understanding religious fanaticism, and insists instead on treating the fanatic as a rational actor.

The ghastly irony is that in making a fetish of reason, the West is behaving irrationally by refusing to acknowledge the mortal threat posed to its own existence by the Islamic world.

In other words, this could be the point in history at which the West simply disappears up its own arrogant backside.

Dr. Sowell on the occupiers

Thomas Sowell (born June 30, 1930) is an American economist, social theorist, political philosopher, and author. A National Humanities Medal winner, he advocates laissez-faire economics and writes from a libertarian perspective. He is currently a Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Sowell was born in North Carolina, but grew up in Harlem, New York City. He dropped out of high school, and served in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War. He had received a bachelor's degree from Harvard University in 1958 and a master's degree from Columbia University in 1959. In 1968, he earned his doctorate degree in economics from the University of Chicago. Dr. Sowell has served on the faculties of several universities, including Cornell and University of California, Los Angeles, and worked for "think tanks" such as the Urban Institute. Since 1980 he has worked at the Hoover Institution. He is the author of more than 30 books.

The following is written by Dr. Sowell, and I quote:

"The current Occupy Wall Street movement is the best illustration to date of what President Barack Obama's America looks like. It is an America where the lawless, unaccomplished, ignorant and incompetent rule. It is an America where those who have sacrificed nothing pillage and destroy the lives of those who have sacrificed greatly.
"It is an America where history is rewritten to honor dictators, murderers and thieves. It is an America where violence, racism, hatred, class warfare and murder are all promoted as acceptable means of overturning the American civil society. "It is an America where humans have been degraded to the level of animals: defecating in public, having sex in public, devoid of basic hygiene. It is an America where the basic tenets of a civil society, including faith, family, a free press and individual rights, have been rejected. It is an America where our founding documents have been shredded and, with them, every person's guaranteed liberties.

"It is an America where, ultimately, great suffering will come to the American people, but the rulers like Obama, Michelle Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, liberal college professors, union bosses and other loyal liberal/Communist Party members will live in opulent splendor.

"It is the America that Obama and the Democratic Party have created with the willing assistance of the American media, Hollywood, unions, universities, the Communist Party of America, the Black Panthers and numerous anti-American foreign entities. "Barack Obama has brought more destruction upon this country in four years than any other event in the history of our nation, but it is just the beginning of what he and his comrades are capable of.

"The Occupy Wall Street movement is just another step in their plan for the annihilation of America. "Socialism, in general, has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.""
Thomas Sowell

We Must Lead From The Front

Speech as Prepared to Be Given

The Orthodox Union Presidential Forum
The Boca Raton Synagogue

The president says "the threat of war is receding" but he’s wrong. The war is on, and its front lines are advancing towards us and our allies, above all toward Israel.

We're facing a global alliance that includes Russia, North Korea, China, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador and of course Cuba. They are outspoken in their desire to weaken us and drive us out of their regions. Some of them--Iran, and the radical Islamists whose rise to power has been facilitated by this president--speak eagerly of destroying us, and our allies, especially Israel.

We have no strategy to deal with this gathering storm. Indeed, our leaders act as if things are getting better every day. President Obama seems to believe that sanctions on Iran will compel the fanatical rulers in Tehran to abandon their nuclear weapons program, fearing they will lose power if our sanctions continue and intensify. Has he considered the case of North Korea? Fanatical rulers do not care if their people go hungry. Indeed they do not care about their people at all. If their people complain, they go to prison or to the torturer or the hangman. And then they laugh at us, and organize thousands of people to chant "Death to America!"

What does President Obama think they mean? It certainly doesn't mean "yes, America, you are right, let's reason together."

It means, we're going to keep killing your men and women wherever we can, from Iraq to Afghanistan. And why not? We have yet to make them pay a price for the slaughter.

Indeed, our political leaders never talk about that. They talk about nukes, and nukes alone, as if that were the only issue. But it isn't.

The Iranians and their creatures throughout the Middle East and deep into our hemisphere are killing and wounding Americans every day. And even as the president preens himself for sanctions that he reluctantly accepted when Congress demanded them, and which he delays whenever he can, Hezbollah is training and indoctrinating terrorists to our south, Iran and its allies are assembling weapons--including drones and missiles--in Venezuela, and a steady flow of Iranian military and intelligence personnel flows into hostile Latin nations on direct flights from Tehran.

A couple of weeks ago Univision presented an excellent documentary on “The Iranian Threat,” which told one frightening story after another about Iranian-Venezuelan-Cuban plans to attack the United States. The most famous of these was the plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Washington, but another one—a two-step operation for a cyber attack, and then a physical assault, against American targets—precipitated the expulsion of Venezuela's consul general in Miami.

That’s a rare event, and it shows the gravity of the crisis we face. That global network weakens us in many ways, and threatens our security very directly. That network enables Iran and Syria to mitigate many of our sanctions. Money flows east, to Chinese banks, as the Europeans join us in blocking transactions with the Iranian Central Bank. Money gets laundered through Russia and Latin America. Weapons move from Russia to Venezuela, and then to Iran and Syria, enabling the Russians to pretend they are not arming the Middle Eastern fanatics.

And yet the president says the tide of war is receding.

Any concerned American looking at the facts must conclude that the tide of war is swelling. Iran has been at war with us since 1979, and is planning to escalate. That is why the global anti-American alliance was created. Shi'ite mosques in Venezuela are not the reflection of the religious convictions of the Venezuelan people; they are there so that Iranian agents can plan attacks against America.

When President Ahmadinejad recently toured the capitals of Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Ecuador, it was not a form of cultural diplomacy; it was primarily to increase the tempo of preparations for the war against America.

It is long past time for us to respond, but instead our president declares imminent victory.

We must respond, and even the Washington Post knows what is at stake: if you want an end to the Iranian nuclear weapons program, the Post's editorialists recently wrote, you have to bring down the regime in Tehran. This regime is not going to give up the dream of becoming a nuclear power. And everyone here knows what the Iranian leaders intend to do with the atomic bombs: they intend to remove Israel from the map, and then bring their jihad to the United States.

Some say that this means we have to launch a military attack against Iran. I don't believe that. I think most Iranian people want to be free of their evil regime, and millions of them have taken to the streets, in the face of security forces all too happy to kill them, to show their contempt for their leaders. It's a revolutionary force, and we should support it.

We defeated the Soviet Union without using military means. We supported the Soviet dissidents and refuseniks, and the Soviet regime collapsed. I believe we can do the same thing in Iran.

Supporting those who fight for freedom in Iran is both strategically smart and morally just, and any president with moral and strategic vision would do it.

But we don't. On the contrary, at the crucial moment a couple of years ago, President Obama reached out to the regime, not to the Iranian people. That was a shameful moment, and the shame continues. Neither the president nor the secretary of state, indeed not a single Administration official, has said "the regime must go." That language was reserved for long-time American friends like Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. Even in Syria, an enemy, the president reluctantly called for a new government only after the slaughter had reached such a level that even the Arab League said change seemed necessary.

Paradoxically, President Obama’s constant call for open negotiations with Iran only convinces them that they can do anything they wish—even kill Americans, or take them hostage, or frame them for espionage, as they have just done with a young Marine, and we will do nothing to threaten their rule. So our failure to move against the regime itself actually makes military conflict more likely.

What would a serious president do about Iran? What would I do?

I would do six things right away:

1. First and foremost, publicly embrace the opposition, and call for regime change. We need a president and a secretary of state with the political courage to say, "Khamenei and Ahmadinejad must go. The Iranian people must freely choose their form of government and freely choose their leaders."

2. Publicly condemn the regime's repression, the ghastly human rights violations, the systematic misogyny, the censorship of press, internet, access to international broadcasting (including VOA, Farda, etc.).

We need a president who will deliver the contemporary equivalent of President Reagan’s “Evil Empire” speech, which inspired a generation of Soviet dissidents and freedom fighters. And we need a president with the political courage to take action against the Iranian regime.

For example, we should take action to end the jamming of our (and other free countries') broadcasts. Meanwhile, we should deny Iran the ability to broadcast to the United States. A president who really understood the gravity of the crisis would shut down Press TV on the basis of reciprocity, just as the British Government has.

3. We must publicly support freedom for Iranian workers, and then work with international trade union organizations to build a strike fund, just as we did for the Solidarity trade union in Poland in the last years of the Cold War.

4. We must help members of the opposition to safely communicate with one another. During the Cold War, we provided fax machines to Solidarity and Soviet dissidents; today the equivalent technologies include anti-filtering software built into cell phones and computers. They may also include safe portals for Iranians to enter...these technologies will change constantly; we need to work with the smartest techies to stay ahead of the Iranian/Chinese censors and listeners.

5. We have to talk to the dissident leaders. This is tricky. The Green Movement insists that they have NO spokesmen or representatives outside the country. We need to establish reliable channels into Iran. It is best to do this without public attention, obviously, but it can be done.

6. We need a campaign of public support for Iran’s political prisoners. We must identify them individually, by name. American diplomats attending international meetings and conferences should have a list of political prisoners, and call for their release and humane treatment.

Even the Nazis found it more difficult to kill prisoners who were publicly named. It's easier to kill those who are anonymous, who don't receive mail, who aren't publicly supported. Once again, our strategic and moral imperatives coincide. We only lack a president with the courage to do what is right and necessary.

I want to close with a reiteration of what I said at the debate; not only does our President not have the courage to do what is right and necessary, in his efforts to appease our enemies he actually has sided with them against our allies.

Our policy in Central and South America under this administration has been abysmal. Take Honduras as an example. When the country’s legislature and judiciary exercised their constitutional right to protect the integrity of their democracy, President Obama said that their efforts were “not legal and that President Zelaya remains the president of Honduras.” This is after Zelaya, an ally of Chavez and outspoken critic of America, tried to abrogate its constitution and change it to seek re-election beyond his four-year term.

Instead of standing behind the parliament we sided with the despots in region who have been aligned with Iran. This administration has had a consistent policy of siding with the leftists and appeasing those who threaten our security. We haven’t stood up for our friends like Colombia, we haven’t undertaken the effort necessary to build the relational capital and trust necessary to develop a regional economic alignment to compete with the European Union. The EU understands in a global economy the only way to compete it to build economic alliances, why has this escaped our leadership?

I am committed to one of my first trips abroad as President to be to Central and South America, and I am committed to visiting it repeatedly. With the threat of radical Islam growing in the region, the parallels with the Cold War are even clearer. And with this radical ideology comes a new virulent strain of anti-Semitism that is taking hold in our hemisphere. We need a President who understand this threat and takes it seriously.

In closing, instead of leading the forces of democracy, this president lags behind the course of events. "Leading from behind"; waiting for others to make the hard choices and take the hard actions, and then jumping on board. We see this in the Middle East. We see this in Central and South America.

I reject this. I don't think we should wait until Israel is attacked, or until Israel, out of desperation and despair that the United States will not act, moves against Iran. We can’t with until a missile is placed in Venezuela that can reach our soil and then cry fowl.

We can’t wait for our friends to do the hard things, when we are better placed, have greater power, and have better options.

I will lead from the front, which is America's mission.