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During TV Interview, Muslim Fighter Hears ODD Whistling … Seconds Later, He Vanishes

A jihadist fighter in Syria was in the middle of giving an interview to a TV reporter when his efforts in the war were suddenly brought to an end.

The fighter, believed to be a part of the Damascus-based Ajnad al-Sham Syrian rebel group fighting against the Bashar al-Assad regime, was in the middle of a seemingly routine propaganda report while the battle raged all around.

However, the fighter soon heard a boom off in the distance and knew what it was, but was unable to do anything about it.

As the distinctive whistling sound of an incoming mortar round grew louder, the jihadi attempted to turn and run, to no avail.

The mortar round, most likely fired by a Syrian Army unit, landed behind the fighter and enveloped him in the subsequent explosion, sending the cameraman flying backward and burying him in debris.

Amazingly, the camera was not damaged and continued to run for a moment, showing nothing but debris in front of the lens and capturing the sounds of screaming and men scrambling through the wreckage to search for survivors and unearth the victims.

Unfortunately, it is believed that the Syrian media activist involved in the interview of this jihadist fighter was also killed in the blast, making it that much more difficult for those trying to get information out of the war-torn region.

A Net Assessment of the Middle East

map-middle-east-jordanMiddle East,

By George Friedman

The term “Middle East” has become enormously elastic. The name originated with the British Foreign Office in the 19th century. The British divided the region into the Near East, the area closest to the United Kingdom and most of North Africa; the Far East, which was east of British India; and the Middle East, which was between British India and the Near East. It was a useful model for organizing the British Foreign Office and important for the region as well, since the British — and to a lesser extent the French — defined not only the names of the region but also the states that emerged in the Near and Far East.

Today, the term Middle East, to the extent that it means anything, refers to the Muslim-dominated countries west of Afghanistan and along the North African shore. With the exception of Turkey and Iran, the region is predominantly Arab and predominantly Muslim. Within this region, the British created political entities that were modeled on European nation-states. The British shaped the Arabian Peninsula, which had been inhabited by tribes forming complex coalitions, into Saudi Arabia, a state based on one of these tribes, the Sauds. The British also created Iraq and crafted Egypt into a united monarchy. Quite independent of the British, Turkey and Iran shaped themselves into secular nation-states.

This defined the two fault lines of the Middle East. The first was between European secularism and Islam. The Cold War, when the Soviets involved themselves deeply in the region, accelerated the formation of this fault line. One part of the region was secular, socialist and built around the military. Another part, particularly focused on the Arabian Peninsula, was Islamist, traditionalist and royalist. The latter was pro-Western in general, and the former — particularly the Arab parts — was pro-Soviet. It was more complex than this, of course, but this distinction gives us a reasonable framework.

The second fault line was between the states that had been created and the underlying reality of the region. The states in Europe generally conformed to the definition of nations in the 20th century. The states created by the Europeans in the Middle East did not. There was something at a lower level and at a higher level. At the lower level were the tribes, clans and ethnic groups that not only made up the invented states but also were divided by the borders. The higher level was broad religious loyalties to Islam and to the major movements of Islam, Shiism and Suniism that laid a transnational claim on loyalty. Add to this the pan-Arab movement initiated by former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who argued that the Arab states should be united into a single Arab nation.

Any understanding of the Middle East must therefore begin with the creation of a new political geography after World War I that was superimposed on very different social and political realities and was an attempt to limit the authority of broader regional and ethnic groups. The solution that many states followed was to embrace secularism or traditionalism and use them as tools to manage both the subnational groupings and the claims of the broader religiosity. One unifying point was Israel, which all opposed. But even here it was more illusion than reality. The secular socialist states, such as Egypt and Syria, actively opposed Israel. The traditional royalist states, which were threatened by the secular socialists, saw an ally in Israel.

Aftershocks From the Soviet Collapse

Following the fall of the Soviet Union and the resulting collapse of support for the secular socialist states, the power of the traditional royalties surged. This was not simply a question of money, although these states did have money. It was also a question of values. The socialist secularist movement lost its backing and its credibility. Movements such as Fatah, based on socialist secularism — and Soviet support — lost power relative to emerging groups that embraced the only ideology left: Islam. There were tremendous cross currents in this process, but one of the things to remember was that many of the socialist secular states that had begun with great promise continued to survive, albeit without the power of a promise of a new world. Rulers like Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, Syria’s Bashar al Assad and Iraq’s Saddam Hussein remained in place. Where the movement had once held promise even if its leaders were corrupt, after the Soviet Union fell, the movement was simply corrupt.

The collapse of the Soviet Union energized Islam, both because the mujahideen defeated the Soviets in Afghanistan and because the alternative to Islam was left in tatters. Moreover, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait took place in parallel with the last days of the Soviet Union. Both countries are remnants of British diplomacy. The United States, having inherited the British role in the region, intervened to protect another British invention — Saudi Arabia — and to liberate Kuwait from Iraq. From the Western standpoint, this was necessary to stabilize the region. If a regional hegemon emerged and went unchallenged, the consequences could pyramid. Desert Storm appeared to be a simple and logical operation combining the anti-Soviet coalition with Arab countries.

The experience of defeating the Soviets in Afghanistan and the secular regimes’ loss of legitimacy opened the door to two processes. In one, the subnational groupings in the region came to see the existing regimes as powerful but illegitimate. In the other, the events in Afghanistan brought the idea of a pan-Islamic resurrection back to the fore. And in the Sunni world, which won the war in Afghanistan, the dynamism of Shiite Iran — which had usurped the position of politico-military spokesman for radical Islam — made the impetus for action clear.

There were three problems. First, the radicals needed to cast pan-Islamism in a historical context. The context was the transnational caliphate, a single political entity that would abolish existing states and align political reality with Islam. The radicals reached back to the Christian Crusades for historical context, and the United States — seen as the major Christian power after its crusade in Kuwait — became the target. Second, the pan-Islamists needed to demonstrate that the United States was both vulnerable and the enemy of Islam. Third, they had to use the subnational groups in various countries to build coalitions to overthrow what were seen as corrupt Muslim regimes, in both the secular and the traditionalist worlds.

The result was al Qaeda and its campaign to force the United States to launch a crusade in the Islamic world. Al Qaeda wanted to do this by carrying out actions that demonstrated American vulnerability and compelled U.S. action. If the United States did not act, it would enhance the image of American weakness; if it did act, it would demonstrate it was a crusader hostile to Islam. U.S. action would, in turn, spark uprisings against corrupt and hypocritical Muslim states, sweep aside European-imposed borders and set the stage for uprisings. The key was to demonstrate the weakness of the regimes and their complicity with the Americans.

This led to 9/11. In the short run, it appeared that the operation had failed. The United States reacted massively to the attacks, but no uprising occurred in the region, no regimes were toppled, and many Muslim regimes collaborated with the Americans. During this time, the Americans were able to wage an aggressive war against al Qaeda and its Taliban allies. In this first phase, the United States succeeded. But in the second phase, the United States, in its desire to reshape Iraq and Afghanistan — and other countries — internally, became caught up in the subnational conflicts. The Americans got involved in creating tactical solutions rather than confronting the strategic problem, which was that waging the war was causing national institutions in the region to collapse.

In destroying al Qaeda, the Americans created a bigger problem in three parts: First, they unleashed the subnational groups. Second, where they fought they created a vacuum that they couldn’t fill. Finally, in weakening the governments and empowering the subnational groups, they made a compelling argument for the caliphate as the only institution that could govern the Muslim world effectively and the only basis for resisting the United States and its allies. In other words, where al Qaeda failed to trigger a rising against corrupt governments, the United States managed to destroy or compromise a range of the same governments, opening the door to transnational Islam.

The Arab Spring was mistaken for a liberal democratic rising like 1989 in Eastern Europe. More than anything else, it was a rising by a pan-Islamic movement that largely failed to topple regimes and embroiled one, Syria, in a prolonged civil war. That conflict has a subnational component — various factions divided against each other that give the al Qaeda-derived Islamic State room to maneuver. It also provided a second impetus to the ideal of a caliphate. Not only were the pan-Islamists struggling against the American crusader, but they were fighting Shiite heretics — in service of the Sunni caliphate — as well. The Islamic State put into place the outcome that al Qaeda wanted in 2001, nearly 15 years later and, in addition to Syria and Iraq, with movements capable of sustained combat in other Islamic countries.

A New U.S. Strategy and Its Repercussions

Around this time, the United States was forced to change strategy. The Americans were capable of disrupting al Qaeda and destroying the Iraqi army. But the U.S. ability to occupy and pacify Iraq or Afghanistan was limited. The very factionalism that made it possible to achieve the first two goals made pacification impossible. Working with one group alienated another in an ongoing balancing act that left U.S. forces vulnerable to some faction motivated to wage war because of U.S. support for another. In Syria, where the secular government was confronting a range of secular and religious but not extremist forces, along with an emerging Islamic State, the Americans were unable to meld the factionalized non-Islamic State forces into a strategically effective force. Moreover, the United States could not make its peace with the al Assad government because of its repressive policies, and it was unable to confront the Islamic State with the forces available.

In a way, the center of the Middle East had been hollowed out and turned into a whirlpool of competing forces. Between the Lebanese and Iranian borders, the region had uncovered two things: First, it showed that the subnational forces were the actual reality of the region. Second, in obliterating the Syria-Iraq border, these forces and particularly the Islamic State had created a core element of the caliphate — a transnational power or, more precisely, one that transcended borders.

The American strategy became an infinitely more complex variation of President Ronald Reagan’s policy in the 1980s: Allow the warring forces to war. The Islamic State turned the fight into a war on Shiite heresy and on established nation states. The region is surrounded by four major powers: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Turkey. Each has approached the situation differently. Each of these nations has internal factions, but each state has been able to act in spite of that. Put differently, three of them are non-Arab powers, and the one Arab power, Saudi Arabia, is perhaps the most concerned about internal threats.

For Iran, the danger of the Islamic State is that it would recreate an effective government in Baghdad that could threaten Iran again. Thus, Tehran has maintained support for the Iraqi Shiites and for the al Assad government, while trying to limit al Assad’s power.

For Saudi Arabia, which has aligned with Sunni radical forces in the past, the Islamic State represents an existential threat. Its call for a transnational Islamic movement has the potential to resonate with Saudis from the Wahhabi tradition. The Saudis, along with some other Gulf Cooperation Council members and Jordan, are afraid of Islamic State transnationalism but also of Shiite power in Iraq and Syria. Riyadh needs to contain the Islamic State without conceding the ground to the Shiites.

For the Israelis, the situation has been simultaneously outstanding and terrifying. It has been outstanding because it has pitted Israel’s enemies against each other. Al Assad’s government has in the past supported Hezbollah against Israel. The Islamic State represents a long-term threat to Israel. So long as they fought, Israel’s security would be enhanced. The problem is that in the end someone will win in Syria, and that force might be more dangerous than anything before it, particularly if the Islamic State ideology spreads to Palestine. Ultimately, al Assad is less dangerous than the Islamic State, which shows how bad the Israeli choice is in the long run.

It is the Turks — or at least the Turkish government that suffered a setback in the recently concluded parliamentary elections — who are the most difficult to understand. They are hostile to the al Assad government — so much so that they see the Islamic State as less of a threat. There are two ways to explain their view: One is that they expect the Islamic State to be defeated by the United States in the end and that involvement in Syria would stress the Turkish political system. The other is that they might be less averse than others in the region to the Islamic State’s winning. While the Turkish government has vigorously denied such charges, rumors of support to at least some factions of the Islamic State have persisted, suspicions in Western capitals linger, and alleged shipments of weaponry to unknown parties in Syria by the Turkish intelligence organization were a dominant theme in Turkey’s elections. This is incomprehensible, unless the Turks see the Islamic State as a movement that they can control in the end and that is paving the way for Turkish power in the region — or unless the Turks believe that a direct confrontation would lead to a backlash from the Islamic State in Turkey itself.

The Islamic State’s Role in the Region

The Islamic State represents a logical continuation of al Qaeda, which triggered both a sense of Islamic power and shaped the United States into a threat to Islam. The Islamic State created a military and political framework to exploit the situation al Qaeda created. Its military operations have been impressive, ranging from the seizure of Mosul to the taking of Ramadi and Palmyra. Islamic State fighters’ flexibility on the battlefield and ability to supply large numbers of forces in combat raises the question of where they got the resources and the training.

However, the bulk of Islamic State fighters are still trapped within their cauldron, surrounded by three hostile powers and an enigma. The hostile powers collaborate, but they also compete. The Israelis and the Saudis are talking. This is not new, but for both sides there is an urgency that wasn’t there in the past. The Iranian nuclear program is less important to the Americans than collaboration with Iran against the Islamic State. And the Saudis and other Gulf countries have forged an air capability used in Yemen that might be used elsewhere if needed.

It is likely that the cauldron will hold, so long as the Saudis are able to sustain their internal political stability. But the Islamic State has already spread beyond the cauldron — operating in Libya, for example. Many assume that these forces are Islamic State in name only — franchises, if you will. But the Islamic State does not behave like al Qaeda. It explicitly wants to create a caliphate, and that wish should not be dismissed. At the very least, it is operating with the kind of centralized command and control, on the strategic level, that makes it far more effective than other non-state forces we have seen.

Secularism in the Muslim world appears to be in terminal retreat. The two levels of struggle within that world are, at the top, Sunni versus Shiite, and at the base, complex and interacting factions. The Western world accepted domination of the region from the Ottomans and exercised it for almost a century. Now, the leading Western power lacks the force to pacify the Islamic world. Pacifying a billion people is beyond anyone’s capability. The Islamic State has taken al Qaeda’s ideology and is attempting to institutionalize it. The surrounding nations have limited options and a limited desire to collaborate. The global power lacks the resources to both defeat the Islamic State and control the insurgency that would follow. Other nations, such as Russia, are alarmed by the Islamic State’s spread among their own Muslim populations.

It is interesting to note that the fall of the Soviet Union set in motion the events we are seeing here. It is also interesting to note that the apparent defeat of al Qaeda opened the door for its logical successor, the Islamic State. The question at hand, then, is whether the four regional powers can and want to control the Islamic State. And at the heart of that question is the mystery of what Turkey has in mind, particularly as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s power appears to be declining.

Hamas Apologist Appointed to High Mideast National Security Post

by Joseph kleinsegment_11641_460x345-450x338

In yet another crass attempt to register its anger at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s courageous and truthful speech on Iran to a joint session of Congress last week, the Obama administration promoted an Israel basher to serve as the Special Assistant to the President and White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf Region. His name is Robert Malley, who most recently has been serving as National Security Council (NSC) Senior Director for Iran, Iraq, Syria and the Gulf States. Effective April 6, 2015, he will, in his new position, have responsibility for an area encompassing Israel, Palestinian territories, North Africa and the Persian Gulf.

National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice, who publicly blamed Prime Minister Netanyahu for conduct “destructive” of the historic relationship between the United States and Israel, made the appointment announcement last Friday. She called Malley “one of my most trusted advisers” and “one of our country’s most respected experts on the Middle East.”

Robert Malley’s relationship with Barack Obama goes back to at least 2007, when he served as a foreign policy advisor for then Senator Obama’s presidential campaign. However, after Malley’s Israel bashing and meetings with Hamas officials received some negative publicity, Obama’s campaign team dumped the hot potato. After his re-election, Obama decided that it was safe to bring Malley back on his team.

Malley’s previous government service was during the Clinton administration, including participating in the failed Camp David peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. In fairness, President Clinton had no reason at the time to be aware of Malley’s anti-Israel bias, which evidenced itself after Malley’s service in the Clinton administration ended. Obama does, but he is not concerned at all. Why should he, now that Obama does not have to run for office again? In fact, Obama has no compunctions about using the Malley appointment to poke Israel’s prime minister in the eye.

After Malley’s stint in the Clinton administration, he served as director of the Middle East Program at the International Crisis Group, which has received funding from the leftwing, George Soros-supported Open Society Institute. Malley felt free to go into full gear with his Israel bashing. In 2001, for example, Malley co-authored with a Palestinian activist and former advisor to Yasser Arafat, Hussein Agha, an op-ed piece for the New York Times presenting their view of the reasons for the breakdown of the Camp David talks. They refused to lay the principal blame where it belonged, on the terrorist Yasser Arafat. Instead, Malley and his Palestinian co-author claimed that Israel had not been sufficiently flexible in what it was willing to offer the Palestinians. President Clinton, who was personally involved in the summit negotiations, begged to differ. As Clinton explained during a 2004 PBS interview with Jim Lehrer: “So a couple of days before I leave office, Arafat says, calls to tell me what a great man I am. And I just said, ‘No, I’m not. On this I’m a failure, and you made me a failure.’”

Malley did not stop with his defense of Arafat. For years he has written positively about Hamas. A Hamas-Fatah reconciliation unity government is a good idea, he opined, which the United States should support “regardless of whether Hamas recognizes Israel or formally renounces violence.” Though Malley stated in another article co-authored in 2012 with Hussein Agha that Hamas has “never truly deviated from its original view—the Jewish state is illegitimate and all the land of historic Palestine is inherently Islamic,” he and his co-author did not see that as a problem. They claimed that “the Islamists alone offer a familiar, authentic vision for the future.” Hamas’s “true calling,” they wrote, is “its social, cultural, and religious agenda.”

Malley walked the walk, so to speak, by engaging in his own discussions with Hamas. Such actions help legitimize the jihadist terrorist group, whose “true calling” is genocide against the Jewish people and the destruction of Israel. Here is the “true” Hamas in the words of its founding charter, which it has refused to revoke:

“…our fight with the Jews is very extensive and very grave, and it requires all the sincere efforts. It is a step that must be followed by further steps;…”(Hamas Charter, Preamble)

“The Prophet, Allah’s prayer and peace be upon him, says: “The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones, and each tree and stone will say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,’ except for the Gharqad tree, for it is the tree of the Jews.” [Recorded in the Hadith collections of Bukhari and Muslim]. (Hamas Charter, Article Seven).”

In a televised 2011 rally, Hamas’ Al Aqsa TV broadcast the following exhortation to Palestinians to kill the Jews:

“You [Allah] have made our killing of the Jews an act of worship through which we come closer to you….our beloved Prophet Muhammed, You have made your teachings constitutions for us…the fire with which we harvest the skulls of the Jews.” (translated by MEMRI)

The constant barrage of hate-filled rhetoric and threats have been matched by Hamas’s launching of thousands of rockets targeted against Israeli civilians and its terror tunnels.

In addition to engaging with the Hamas jihadists whom Malley thinks are really not so bad after all, he believes that there is nothing to really worry about if Iran does get a nuclear bomb. He believes that a viable option is to simply contain them. He wrote in a 2012 Foreign Policy article that “Israelis, not for the first time, likely are exaggerating the Iranian threat and its imminence.” He expressed disdain for what he called “Netanyahu’s 15-year obsession” with Iran. And he praised President Obama for having “by far the better of the argument” with Prime Minister Netanyahu over how best to deal with Iran. Ignoring the Iranian regime’s long record of state-sponsored terrorism all over the world, its killing of American military forces directly or through proxies in Iraq and Lebanon, its repeated threats to annihilate Israel, and its record of deceptions regarding its nuclear program, Malley put himself in the regime’s shoes. He said that, as seen through the regime’s eyes, its “stubbornness is easy to understand.”

This is the man whom President Obama and Susan Rice, for their own good reasons, have promoted to the most highly sensitive White House national security position in the Middle East. Malley is entirely in synch with Obama’s own anti-Israel bias and his willingness to make concession after concession to Iran in the current negotiations as he continues to see the nuclear issue “through the regime’s eyes” rather than act in America’s best interests.

EU to vote to suspend U.S. data sharing agreements, passenger records amid NSA spying scandal

by Jack Whittaker
eu-bunny-620x414EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding listens to MEPS on matters relating to the NSA spying on EU citizens and politicians. Sat next to her, an EU-branded bunny, given as a “gift” by one member of the House. (Image: European Union)
The European Parliament will vote on Thursday to adopt a resolution on measures against the U.S. government over the mass surveillance operation conducted by the National Security Agency.

In a plenary sitting in Strasbourg, numerous members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have called for the suspension of EU-U.S. trade talks, which are currently under way, until the picture surrounding the activities of the U.S.’ intelligence activities becomes clearer. Also on the cards is the suspension of crucial EU-U.S. agreements, such as the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP) and the Passenger Name Records (PNR), which could see flights suspended between the two continents.

The U.S. government has been embroiled in an international diplomatic crisis over its intelligence agencies’ spying on foreign nationals. Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden blew the whistle on a number of programs the U.S. employs to acquire masses of data on citizens around the world, including those in the European Union.

The U.K. government was embroiled in the NSA spying saga after it’s Cheltenham-based listening station GCHQ was found to have tapped under-sea fiber optic cables, in an operation codenamed Tempora.

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding told the parliament that she had sent U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague a letter seeking clarification on Tempora.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that the European Commission is examining if the U.K. broke EU law, which could lead to an infringement procedure against the British government. This could lead to financial sanctions imposed by the European Court of Justice.

British MEP Sarah Ludford warned that other EU member states “also need to look at their cooperation with the NSA,” and noted that Westminster had been “deafeningly silent” on the matter, and hoped the U.K.’s parliamentary committee on security and intelligence “did a better job.”

PNR suspension could ground flights between EU, U.S.
In the resolution, submitted to the Parliament on Tuesday, more than two-dozen politicians from a range of political parties call the spying “a serious violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” and call on the suspension of the Passenger Name Records (PNR) system.

Prior to leaving the airport, airlines must make passenger data available to the U.S. Names, dates of birth, addresses, credit or debit card details and seat numbers are among the data — though critics say the information has never helped catch a suspected criminal or terrorist before.

Should the PNR system be suspended, it could result in the suspension of flights to the U.S. from European member states.

MEPs mixed on suspension of free trade discussions
One of the options available to the EU is to suspend discussions on the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, otherwise known as the TTIP, is thought to be worth billions of dollars for both continents on each side of the Atlantic. It will help to eliminate tariffs on trade, and open up the doors to transatlantic partnerships and a boon to the technology and science industries, among other sectors.

German MEP Axel Voss said the Obama administration should be “adequately explained,” demanding that the delegations on the TTIP should be suspended, as did French MEP Marie-Christine Vergiat‎, who was one of two MEPs who called on the EU to give Snowden asylum in the 28 member state bloc.

EU to vote to suspend U.S. data sharing agreements, passenger records amid NSA spying scandal
Summary: The European Parliament will vote — ironically of all days, on U.S. Independence Day on July 4 — whether existing data sharing agreements between the two continents should be suspended, following allegations that U.S. intelligence spied on EU citizens.

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding listens to MEPS on matters relating to the NSA spying on EU citizens and politicians. Sat next to her, an EU-branded bunny, given as a “gift” by one member of the House. (Image: European Union)
The European Parliament will vote on Thursday to adopt a resolution on measures against the U.S. government over the mass surveillance operation conducted by the National Security Agency.

In a plenary sitting in Strasbourg, numerous members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have called for the suspension of EU-U.S. trade talks, which are currently under way, until the picture surrounding the activities of the U.S.’ intelligence activities becomes clearer.

Read this

Amid NSA spying scandal, the gloves are off for EU’s justice chief

Read more
Also on the cards is the suspension of crucial EU-U.S. agreements, such as the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP) and the Passenger Name Records (PNR), which could see flights suspended between the two continents.

The U.S. government has been embroiled in an international diplomatic crisis over its intelligence agencies’ spying on foreign nationals. Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden blew the whistle on a number of programs the U.S. employs to acquire masses of data on citizens around the world, including those in the European Union.

The U.K. government was embroiled in the NSA spying saga after it’s Cheltenham-based listening station GCHQ was found to have tapped under-sea fiber optic cables, in an operation codenamed Tempora.

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding told the parliament that she had sent U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague a letter seeking clarification on Tempora.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that the European Commission is examining if the U.K. broke EU law, which could lead to an infringement procedure against the British government. This could lead to financial sanctions imposed by the European Court of Justice.

British MEP Sarah Ludford warned that other EU member states “also need to look at their cooperation with the NSA,” and noted that Westminster had been “deafeningly silent” on the matter, and hoped the U.K.’s parliamentary committee on security and intelligence “did a better job.”

PNR suspension could ground flights between EU, U.S.
In the resolution, submitted to the Parliament on Tuesday, more than two-dozen politicians from a range of political parties call the spying “a serious violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” and call on the suspension of the Passenger Name Records (PNR) system.

Prior to leaving the airport, airlines must make passenger data available to the U.S. Names, dates of birth, addresses, credit or debit card details and seat numbers are among the data — though critics say the information has never helped catch a suspected criminal or terrorist before.

Should the PNR system be suspended, it could result in the suspension of flights to the U.S. from European member states.

MEPs mixed on suspension of free trade discussions
One of the options available to the EU is to suspend discussions on the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, otherwise known as the TTIP, is thought to be worth billions of dollars for both continents on each side of the Atlantic. It will help to eliminate tariffs on trade, and open up the doors to transatlantic partnerships and a boon to the technology and science industries, among other sectors.

German MEP Axel Voss said the Obama administration should be “adequately explained,” demanding that the delegations on the TTIP should be suspended, as did French MEP Marie-Christine Vergiat‎, who was one of two MEPs who called on the EU to give Snowden asylum in the 28 member state bloc.

Read this

EU ‘assessing U.S. relationship’ amid PRISM spying claims

In a letter obtained by ZDNet, the EU justice chief hints at consequences to come for the U.S. government if European citizens were targeted by the NSA’s PRISM program.

Read more
Spanish MEP Juan Fernando López Aguilar, who chairs the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committee, also called on the suspension of the free trade agreement negotiations.

But other MEPs speaking in the Parliament on Wednesday instead suggested the suspension of exchange of data between the two continents.

“The U.S. systematically comes into our homes, our embassies, and our institutions,” said Italian MEP Salvatore Iacolino. “But it would be wrong to block EU-U.S. negotiations which have just gotten under way, as this would penalize EU citizens twice over,” he noted, instead pointing the figure at the “exchange of data” with the United States.

His comments were in regard to reports in the German media, which claimed EU institutions and embassies in the U.S. had been bugged by U.S. law enforcement.

Dutch MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld, a strong advocate of privacy and data protection rights in the EU, said she was against suspending the trade talks, but said the EU should make it “absolutely clear we cannot sign an agreement with a partner we cannot fully trust.”

She told her colleagues: “I do not want to hear the argument of national security anymore,” she added. “Sorry, bugging the EU offices in Washington is a matter of ‘national security’? Blanket surveillance of millions of innocent citizens is a matter of ‘national security’? I do not buy that anymore.”

A number of MEPs specifically called on U.S. President Barack Obama to meet with the Parliament to explain his government’s actions. PRISM began during President George W. Bush’s administration after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

EU justice chief: Citizen redress, or no deal
Reding, in spite of the parliamentary resolution on deck for an upcoming, she will not sign off on an “umbrella agreement” between the U.S. and the EU, a decision that was met with a round of applause for the European vice-president.

The agreement is designed to make it much easier for the U.S. and EU to share data that will cover future transfer arrangements for anti-terror operations between the two continents, from banking data and passenger name records, for instance.

Citing reciprocity between the two continents, “some progress was made on around half of the provisions,” she told members on Wednesday.

“But it is now time to address key issues on the equal rights of EU and U.S. citizens, and effective judicial redress,” Reding said. “I can not understand why a U.S. citizen has the right to redress in the EU, but an EU citizen does not have the right to redress in the U.S. We continue to negotiate because I keep that on the table. If we had given up that right, we would have already signed the agreement.”

“And I will not sign the agreement so long as we do not have the reciprocity. And as long as we have not found the solutions in accordance with EU law on difficult issues, such as data retention.”

War What is it Good For

The President of Afghanistan, the man we installed and the leader of a land that is a nation in name only recently accused the United States of colluding with the Taliban to keep the war going. According to his spokesman, “The people of Afghanistan ask NATO to define the purpose and aim of the so-called war on terror… (They) consider this war as aimless and unwise to continue.”

I am a supporter of our troops.  I believe they are patriots and America’s best.  It is not the bravery or skill of our troops that I question; it is the imperial foreign policy which sends them as sacrifices on the altar of political ambition that I question.  The cruel calculations of political elites using our service men and women as pawns on their partisan game board are shameful.  The most shocking example of this is President Obama’s announcing a surge in troops at the same time he announced the exit strategy for leaving the country.  What could be more counterproductive than telling an asymmetrical partisan enemy that if they hang on long enough we leave and you win?

Look at Iraq.  We went to war to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction which even President Bush eventually admitted were never there.  We went to war because our leaders intimated that Iraq had a hand in the sneak attacks of 9-11 based on a rumored meeting between an Iraqi agent and Mohamed Atta another claim that has since been repudiated.  Did we go to war to correct the partial victory we gained in Gulf War I under George I?  Did we go to war as George II later claimed to make the Mideast safe for democracy?  Whatever the reason for invading Iraq, a nation we supported for years, a nation which had not and was not planning to attack us, what did we accomplish and what do we have now that we are gone?

What about Afghanistan?  After the sneak attacks on 9-11 we had every legal and moral right to attack the nation that harbored and protected Al-Qaeda.  However, to keep faith with the Constitution a declaration of war should have been obtained.  Our armed forces waged a brilliant campaign that dismantled the Taliban regime in short order.  Then instead of saying, if it happens again we will come back again, and leaving we have stayed for more than ten years squandering hundreds of billions building a nation for people who don’t see themselves as a nation.  They are a collection of tribes grouped together by the necessities of international politics surrounded by a porous border and a history of ungovernable conflict.

Does anyone doubt that after we leave Kabul the Taliban will return?  Does anyone doubt that the training and weapons that we have given to our Afghan allies which are turned against us on a regular basis will form the bedrock of future Taliban strength?

The Constitution gives Congress the exclusive right to declare war.  This limitation on the prerogative of our chief executive to commit America to war without the consent of the citizens was considered one of the most important strengths of the document.  The founders of our nation came from a society in which autocratic kings had often plunged their nations into wars based on their own desires, whims, and political machinations.  Those who wrote the Constitution to be the framework for a new type of nation were determined that we should never go to war unless it was the expression of the people through their elected representatives.

There hasn’t been a declared war since World War II and yet our sons and daughters have fought and died in countless battles around the world.  With the war in Afghanistan set to wind down the Neocons and Progressives are beating the war drums daily for intervention in Syria and war with Iran.

I believe once the truth is known America, in keeping with the Obama Administration’s on-going policy of supporting Islamic Radicals, has been supplying weapons to the Al-Qaeda led Syrian rebels for years.  I contend that the Mission in Benghazi and its satellite CIA Safe-House was in reality a conduit for transferring untraceable weapons from the captured Libyan arsenal through Turkey to the rebels.  So when it comes to Syria we are already there, and now our Neo-con cheerleaders want us to directly intervene.

The same goes for Iran.  There is a shadow war that has been raging for years between Israel with American support and Iran.  This shadow war consists of assassinations of nuclear scientists, bombing nuclear facilities and uploading computer viruses into computers used to control the cyclotrons used to enrich uranium on the part of the allies.  The response has
been attacks against Israeli citizens around the world and even a bombing attempt in WashingtonD.C.

This is not enough.  America has been goaded into imposing draconian sanctions against Iran.  Sanctions which if imposed on us we would be consider acts of war.  Once again this is not enough.  The Neocons are working day and night to get us to deliver some shock and awe all over Iran all in the name of peace.

Iran has not attacked another country in the memory of anyone who is alive today.  Or in the lives of the ancestors going back hundreds of years.  America’s intelligence agencies unanimously tell us, Congress, and the Administration that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program.  Iran is a signer of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, and as a part of that treaty it is guaranteed the right to develop nuclear power for peaceful means.

As part of the big push to get us into another war we are told “Containment is off the table.”  Usually soon after we are told “All options are on the table.”  Why is containment off the table?  It worked during the Cold war when we faced off with an enemy many times larger with thousands of nuclear weapons on delivery systems aimed at our cities.  Why won’t it work against a nation that at this point has no nuclear weapons?

Why is it acceptable for North Korea to have nuclear weapons but not Iran?  Does anyone think the Ayatollahs are crazier than the new boy dictator of the Kim dynasty?  There is no doubt that the United States military has the ability to destroy Iran’s conventional defensive and offensive resources within a short time.  It is obvious we could, “Bomb them back to the stone age” as the saying goes.  However that wouldn’t necessarily mean that some of the stones thrown later in the contest might not hurt.  Iran has an unknown asymmetrical war capability.

It is believed that their allies in Gaza and Lebanon would immediately attack Israel.  The Iranians would also do all they could to interrupt the supply of the oil upon which we continue to allow ourselves to need.  They would attempt to attack the oil fields of their neighbors, to close the Straits of Hormuz, attack nearby American bases, and possible stir up rebellions in Sunni ruled countries with either sizable Shiite minorities or in some cases majorities.  We might even face terrorist attacks here in the Homeland.  This war would not be a cake walk.  The military and economic consequences would be immediate and they would be dire.

However, as dire as these consequences would be these are not potentially the most troubling. War opens the door for domestic changes that would not be possible during normal times.  While we have been and are engaged in a multi-generational seemingly endless series of wars this war might be different.  While all our other wars have been fought over there the civilian population continued to live as if Americans were not in harm’s way even though they were.  In other words we managed to have both guns and butter, war overseas and peace at home.  In the case of a war with Iran we might face a situation that could bring the war home to America in multiple ways.

Economically gas could skyrocket causing dislocation in our fragile economy.  On the military front terror sleeper cells could be activated in America or terrorists could come in through our porous southern border.  Both the economic impact and terrorist activities would open the door for drastic government action which could well negatively impact our lives.  Rights are often curtailed in times of emergency.   The cost of war is often seen in the growth of government power and the loss of freedom at home.

Our worldwide military presence is not keeping us safe and in many ways it is provocative.  Peace and equitable trade with all is the course recommended by our founders.  It was the foreign policy of every administration until McKinley and the default position until FDR.  Let us return to our traditions and reject these endless wars for peace.  Let us quit supporting other economies with our foreign bases.  Let us end the many entangling agreements that bind us to fight for others who should instead fight for themselves.

With real peace we could perhaps deal with the domestic issues that are tearing us apart and driving us into bankruptcy.  Every patriot should recognize the danger new fronts in our never-ending war will have on our current battle to maintain personal liberty, individual freedom, and economic opportunity here at home.  Consequently patriots should do everything in their power to stop the stampede to war.  Stand up for real peace and not for more wars for a peace that never comes.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2013 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

 

 

Brown: Is This The Scandal That Will Bring Obama Down?

By Floyd and Mary Beth BrownBenghazi

It’s even worse than we previously thought. A retired four-star admiral is now claiming that Barack Obama intentionally conspired with America’s enemies to stage a bogus attack and the kidnapping of an American ambassador so he could “negotiate” the release of a “hostage” and bolster his mediocre approval ratings just prior to the election?

The Washington Examiner, quoting retired Four-Star Admiral James Lyons, writes: “the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi… was the result of a bungled abduction attempt…. the first stage of an international prisoner exchange… that would have ensured the release of Omar Abdel Rahman, the ‘Blind Sheik’…”

But something went horribly wrong with Obama’s “October Surprise.” Although the Obama Administration intentionally gutted security at the consulate prior to the staged kidnapping, former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty disobeyed direct orders to stand down, saved American lives, single-handedly killed scores of attackers…and the attackers, believing that the Obama had betrayed them, tortured Ambassador Chris Stevens and dragged his body through the streets.

Some will say that Admiral Lyons’ accusation is not a smoking gun. We agree, that’s exactly why Congress must investigate Benghazi-gate.

Moreover, we firmly believe the problem with Admiral Lyons’ assertion is that he is only scratching the surface the full and complete truth may be much, much worse.

Benghazi-gate is not about a bogus YouTube video series of lies. It’s not about the Obama Administration’s foreign policy ineptitude. We are dealing with something much more sinister… something potentially treasonous… and the following questions, posed in an article in The New American, go to the heart of the matter:

1. “What was the Obama administration’s full role in helping violent Jihadists, self-styled al Qaeda terrorists, and Western-backed “revolutionaries” take over Libya in the first place?

2. Did that half-baked scheme to arm Jihadist leaders, who… had previously fought U.S. troops in Iraq, contribute to the attack, as countless experts and officials have suggested?

3. What was actually going on at the compound in Benghazi, which as the report states, was never a “consulate” despite establishment media claims?

4. Was Ambassador Stevens recruiting and arming Jihadists and terrorists to wage war on the Syrian regime after what Obama called the “success” in Libya, as a growing body of credible evidence suggests?

5. Why did the administration claim for so long that the attack was just a “protest” over a YouTube video gone awry, even when it knew definitively that was not the case?

6. Was the lack of security at the compound a political ploy to conceal the extent of the lawlessness and utter chaos left in the wake of Obama’s unconstitutional “regime change” war on Libya, as even members of Congress have alleged?”

It’s clear. Benghazi-Gate is only a small piece of a much larger operation, an attempt to conceal what The New American calls; “the Obama administration’s full role in helping violent Jihadists and self-styled al Qaeda terrorists.”

Prior to the election Barack Obama continually told us that “Osama bin-Laden is dead and GM is alive,” but the sad truth is that Osama bin-Laden’s organization is alive and well and the Obama Regime may be giving aid and comfort to this terrorist network.

And prior to the election, Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera pontificated that Republicans shouldn’t “politicize” Benghazi-gate. Swaggering onto the set of Fox and Friends Rivera bloviated: “I think we have to stop this politicizing” and Rivera issued the following veiled warning to Republicans: “Do we want to try and influence the election with a tragedy that happened in North Africa?”

Ironic, isn’t it? Barack Obama played politics with the lives of Americans, like Rivera, the media covered Obama’s rear and threatened to accuse anyone and everyone who mentioned it of “playing politics.”

Weak-willed Republicans apparently took Rivera’s threat to heart as Rivera also said that Republican Senators John Barrasso, James Inhofe and Bob Corker, who all sit on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee “all agree that the supercharged atmosphere around the story — prudence dictates that these hearings be postponed until” after the election.

Well, the election has come and gone. Congress now has no excuse. The American people needed the truth before the election, but now that Obama is back in the White House real conservatives must demand answers.

The American people deserve to have those questions answered and moreover the American people deserve justice.

© 2013, Floyd and Mary Beth Brown. The Browns are bestselling authors and speakers. Together they write a national weekly column distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Floyd’s latest book is “Obama’s Enemies List, How Barack Obama Intimidated America and Stole the Election.” See more of their writings at www.WesternJournalism.com.

WHITE HOUSE OPPOSED TO NEW IRAN SANCTIONS – WHY – ANYTHING CONNECTED TO ISRAEL

Posted By Josh Rogin
The White House announced its opposition to a new round of Iran sanctions that the Senate unanimously approved Friday, in the latest instance of Congress pushing for more aggressive punitive measures on Iran than the administration deems prudent.

On Thursday, Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) introduced the amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, which the Senate passed 94-0. The new legislative language would blacklist Iran’s energy, port, shipping, and shipbuilding sectors, while also placing new restrictions on Iran’s ability to get insurance for all these industries. The legislation would also vastly expand U.S. support for human rights inside Iran and impose new sanctions on Iranians who divert humanitarian assistance from its intended purpose.

“The window is closing. The time for the waiting game is over,” Menendez said on the Senate floor Thursday night. “Yes, our sanctions are having a demonstrable effect on the Iranian economy, but Iran is still working just as hard to develop nuclear weapons.”

But the White House told several Senate offices Thursday evening that the administration was opposed to the amendment. National Security Spokesman Tommy Vietor sent The Cable the administration’s official position, explaining the White House’s view the sanctions aren’t needed and aren’t helpful at this time.

“As we focus with our partners on effectively implementing these efforts, we believe additional authorities now threaten to undercut these efforts,” he said. “We also have concerns with some of the formulations as currently drafted in the text and want to work through them with our congressional partners to make the law more effective and consistent with the current sanctions law to ensure we don’t undercut our success to date.”

An e-mail from the NSC’s legislative affairs office to some Senate Democrats late Thursday evening, obtained by The Cable, went into extensive detail about the administration’s concerns about the new sanctions legislation, including that it might get in the way of the administration’s efforts to implement the last round of Iran sanctions, the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act (TRA), to which it flatly objected at the time.

“We do not believe additional authority to apply more sanctions on Iran is necessary at this time,” read the e-mail, which the NSC legislative affairs office said represented the entire administration’s view. “At the same time, we are concerned that this amendment is duplicative and threatens to confuse and undermine some of the TRA provisions.”

One of the White House’s chief concerns is that Congress is not providing the administration enough waivers, which would give the United States the option of negating or postponing applications of the sanctions on a case-by-case basis.

The White House also said that secondary sanctions should apply only to those Iranian persons and entities that are guilty of aiding Iran’s nulear and missile programs. The new legislative language would designate entire categories of Iranian government entities to be sanctioned — whether or not each person or entity is directly involved in such activities.

The new sanctions too broadly punish companies that supply materials, such as certain metals, that could be used in Iran’s nuclear, military, or ballistic missile programs, the White House worries. The bill allows those materials to be sold to Iranian entities that intend to use them for non-military or nuclear-related purposes, but the administration said that the ambiguity in that part of the legislation will make it hard to implement.

Finally, the White House doesn’t want to implement the part of the new legislation that would require reports to Congress on the thousands of boats that dock at Iranian ports and the dozens of Iranian planes that make stops at airports around the world. Those reporting requirements “will impose serious time burdens on the Intelligence Community and sanctions officers,” the White House said in the e-mail.

The Obama administration often touts the Iran sanctions it once opposed. In the final presidential debate Oct. 22, President Barack Obama said his administration had “organized the strongest coalition and the strongest sanctions against Iran in history, and it is crippling their economy.”

The new Iran sanctions still must survive a House-Senate conference over the defense authorization bill, during which conferees may try to change certain portions of the new sanctions regime. Hill aides predict the White House will try to alter the new sanctions during that process, in what they would likely see as an effort to water them down.

“The truth is that the U.S. Congress continues to lead a comprehensive and unrelenting international sanctions program against the Iranian regime despite a comprehensive and unrelenting campaign by this administration to block or water down those sanctions at every move,” a senior GOP Senate aide told The Cable. “We beat them 100-0 last year and while they tried to kill this amendment more quietly this time, we beat them again 94-0. Hopefully House and Senate negotiators will stay strong and resist the administration’s strategy to dilute these sanctions in conference.”

IT STARTS NOW WITH OBAMA’S FRIEND -Morsi: Don’t expect Egypt to live by America’s rules

On the eve of his first visit to the United States as Egypt’s president, Islamist Mohammed Morsi said he will demonstrate more independence from the U.S. in decision-making than his predecessor Hosni Mubarak and told Washington not to expect Egypt to live by its rules.
Morsi sent that message in an interview with the New York Times after a wave of violence erupted across the Muslim world over an amateur film produced in the U.S. that was deemed offensive to Islam and its prophet Muhammed. The film raised news tensions between Washington and Egypt.
Morsi criticized U.S. dealings with the Arab world, saying it is not possible to judge Egyptian behavior and decision-making by American cultural standards. He said Washington earned ill will in the region in the past by backing dictators and taking “a very clear” biased approach against the Palestinians and for Israel.
“Successive American administrations essentially purchased with American taxpayer money the dislike, if not the hatred, of the peoples of the region,” he told the paper in the interview published late Saturday, drawing a clear distinction between the American government and the American people. Those administrations “have taken a very clear biased approach against something that (has) very strong emotional ties to the people of the region that is the issue of Palestine.”
He stressed that unlike his predecessor, Mubarak, he will behave “according to the Egyptian people’s choice and will, nothing else.”
Morsi, who was sworn in on June 30 after the first democratic elections in Egypt’s modern history, has been cautious not to sharply depart from Mubarak’s foreign policy path, particularly the longstanding alliance with the United States.
But with an Islamist president at the helm of the Arab world’s most populous country, there are already differences and changes of focus. Morsi has been expected to distance himself from what many Egyptians saw as Mubarak’s compliance with Washington’s agenda in the Middle East, especially because his Muslim Brotherhood group has been a vocal critic of U.S. policy in the region and in the Muslim world.
In the interview, Morsi dismissed criticism that he responded too slowly when protesters managed to scale the walls of the heavily fortified U.S. Embassy in Cairo on Sept. 11. The demonstrators replaced the American flag with a banner carrying the Islamic declaration of faith.
Morsi said he needed to deal with the situation “wisely” and took time to avoid a backlash from an angry but small crowd of protesters.
While he praised President Barack Obama for moving “decisively and quickly” to support Arab Spring uprisings against longtime authoritarian leaders, he said Arabs like Americans want to live “free in their own land, according to their customs and values, in a fair and democratic fashion.”
To this end, Morsi urged the U.S. to live up to its commitments to support an independent Palestinian state.
Since taking office, Morsi, 61, has been immersed in largely foreign policy issues. He has strongly criticized the Syria regime for violently repressing the uprising there, tried to warm relations with the Palestinians, and has dealt with tensions between the Middle East and the West over the anti-Islam film.
Reflecting the tension with Washington over the protests, Obama was asked about Egypt a day after anti-U.S. protests broke out in Egypt on Sept. 11 and he said he does not consider it an ally or an enemy.
The Times asked Morsi if the U.S. was an ally, to which he replied with a laugh by saying: “That depends on your definition of ally.”
But he quickly followed by saying he wants a real friendship with the U.S.
“I think what I am trying seriously (is to) look into the future and to see that we are real friends.”

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/09/23/morsi-dont-expect-egypt-to-live-by-america-rules/#ixzz27PplPlg8

Collapse of the Cairo Doctrine

by Charles Krauthammer
In the week following 9/11/12 something big happened: the collapse of the Cairo Doctrine, the centerpiece of President Obama’s foreign policy. It was to reset the very course of post-9/11 America, creating, after the (allegedly) brutal depredations of the Bush years, a profound rapprochement with the Islamic world.

Never lacking ambition or self-regard, Obama promised in Cairo, June 4, 2009, “a new beginning” offering Muslims “mutual respect,” unsubtly implying previous disrespect. Curious, as over the previous 20 years, America had six times committed its military forces on behalf of oppressed Muslims, three times for reasons of pure humanitarianism (Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo), where no U.S. interests were at stake.

But no matter. Obama had come to remonstrate and restrain the hyperpower that, by his telling, had lost its way after 9/11, creating Guantanamo, practicing torture, imposing its will with arrogance and presumption.

First, he would cleanse by confession. Then he would heal. Why, given the unique sensitivities of his background — “my sister is half-Indonesian,” he proudly told an interviewer in 2007, amplifying on his exquisite appreciation of Islam — his very election would revolutionize relations.

And his policies of accommodation and concession would consolidate the gains: an outstretched hand to Iran’s mullahs, a first-time presidential admission of the U.S. role in a 1953 coup, a studied and stunning turning away from the Green Revolution; withdrawal from Iraq with no residual presence or influence; a fixed timetable for leaving Afghanistan; returning our ambassador to Damascus (with kind words for Bashar al-Assad — “a reformer,” suggested the secretary of state); deliberately creating distance between the United States and Israel.

These measures would raise our standing in the region, restore affection and respect for the United States and elicit new cooperation from Muslim lands.

It’s now three years since the Cairo speech. Look around. The Islamic world is convulsed with an explosion of anti-Americanism. From Tunisiato Lebanon, American schools, businesses and diplomatic facilities set ablaze. A U.S. ambassador and three others murdered in Benghazi. The black flag of Salafism, of which al-Qaeda is a prominent element, raised over our embassies in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Sudan.

The administration, staggered and confused, blames it all on a 14-minute trailer for a film no one has seen and may not even exist.

What else can it say? Admit that its doctrinal premises were supremely naive and its policies deeply corrosive to American influence?

Religious provocations are endless. (Ask Salman Rushdie.) Resentment about the five-century decline of the Islamic world is a constant. What’s new — the crucial variable — is the unmistakable sound of a superpower in retreat. Ever since Henry Kissinger flipped Egypt from the Soviet to the American camp in the early 1970s, the United States had dominated the region. No longer.

“It’s time,” declared Obama to wild applause of his convention, “to do some nation-building right here at home.” He’d already announced a strategic pivot from the Middle East to the Pacific. Made possible because “the tide of war is receding.”

Nonsense. From the massacres in Nigeria to the charnel house that is Syria, violence has, if anything, increased. What is receding is Obama’s America.

It’s as axiomatic in statecraft as in physics: Nature abhors a vacuum. Islamists rush in to fill the space and declare their ascendancy. America’s friends are bereft, confused, paralyzed.

Islamists rise across North Africa from Mali to Egypt. Iran repeatedly defies U.S. demands on nuclear enrichment, then, as a measure of its contempt for what America thinks, openly admits that its Revolutionary Guards are deployed in Syria. Russia, after arming Assad, warns America to stay out, while the secretary of state delivers vapid lectures about Assad “meeting” his international “obligations.” The Gulf states beg America to act on Iran; Obama strains mightily to restrain . . . Israel.

Sovereign U.S. territory is breached and U.S. interests are burned. And what is the official response? One administration denunciation after another — of a movie trailer! A request to Google to “review” the trailer’s presence on YouTube. And a sheriff’s deputies’ midnight “voluntary interview” with the suspected filmmaker. This in the land of the First Amendment.

What else can Obama do? At their convention, Democrats endlessly congratulated themselves on their one foreign policy success: killing Osama bin Laden. A week later, the Salafist flag flies over four American embassies, even as the mob chants, “Obama, Obama, there are still a billion Osamas.”
A foreign policy in epic collapse. And, by the way, Vladimir Putin just expelled the U.S. Agency for International Development from Russia. Another thank you from another recipient of another grand Obama “reset.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/charles-krauthammer-collapse-of-the-cairo-doctrine/2012/09/20/72fb7f62-035f-11e2-91e7-2962c74e7738_story.html

No One Wins

Sometimes the unknown can be turned to good.

In Athens Paul of Tarsus the Apostle to the Gentiles encountered the altar to an unknown god.  In a city of 10,000 with approximately 30,000 alters, temples, and statues to gods this only made sense.  As people obsessed with making sure they didn’t insult their temperamental and vengeful gods they had to cover all their bases just in case they’d left one out.  To a man dedicated to spreading the Good News that the one true God of all creation had come to Earth as a man and paid the price for our sins, this flock of gods and their multitude of altars culminating in an altar to an unknown god could have been the cause of anxiety.

Instead Paul saw it for what it was: the emblem of a people who did not know God. And he used it as a launching pad for a teaching moment.  He stood in the market place of ideas and expounded upon the salvation message, “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things.”  Thus an unknown was turned to good.

In ArlingtonNationalCemeterystands the Tomb of the Unknowns.  This monument to heroes holds the remains of American soldiers who gave their lives and the last full measure of those lives, their identity, to protect our nation from foreign enemies.  These unknown sons, brothers, and husbands stand forever as the anonymous symbol of American bravery and self-sacrifice.  In their loss we have gained much: freedom, independence and inspiration.  The unknown heroes still guard and protect the last best hope of man.  Thus the unknown is turned to good.

On December 7, 1941 airplanes from the navy of the Japanese Empire struck without warning against theUnited Statesnaval base atPearl Harbor,Hawaii.  The next day an enragedAmericacheered as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt asked and received a declaration of war againstJapan.  Please note that he did not ask for a declaration of war against sneak attacks.

On September 11, 2001 theWorldTradeTowersinNew York Citywere hit by two hijacked jets in what has been and will hopefully remain the largest and most deadly attack against the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave by a foreign enemy on American soil.  The next day was there a declaration of war sought by our president?  Was the enemy ever determined?  Has a declaration of war ever been sought by our leaders or passed by our Congress?

President G. W. Bush did not ask for a declaration of war.  Of the 19 hijackers fifteen were citizens ofSaudi Arabia while the rest were one Egyptian, one Lebanese, and two from the Union of Arab Emirates.  All of them were followers of Osama bin Laden the founder of al-Qaeda. All of them were radical fundamentalist Muslims.  No declaration of war was ever sought against al-Qaeda. Instead we were told thatAmerica was no in a War on Terror.

Yes, President Bush did seek and obtain the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) from Congress which was passed on September 14, 2001.  While this gave the president the authority “to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons” it was not a declaration of war.

According to Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, only Congress has the power to declare war.  It also has the power to pass laws and the AUMF is a law and thus it is valid and binding yet after eleven years perhaps we should ask ourselves why hasn’t a war ever been declared?  And if it was who should we declare war upon?

Americahas not declared war since December 8, 1941, and yet we have fought the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the First Gulf War, and now the War on Terror.  We are also fighting a War on Poverty, a War on Drugs, a War on Illiteracy, and even a War on Obesity.   Ask yourself, are we winning any of these wars?

When you fight against a general opposed to a specific enemy it is like trying to herd snakes or nail jello to the wall. You might expend quite a bit of effort and you might feel like your accomplishing something; however, in the end the snakes go where they want and the jello ends up on the floor.

Everyone in Americaknows who attacked us on 9-11, and everyone knows who we are at war with: radical fundamentalist Islam.  Not the religion of Islam but one virulent branch of it that has declared war on us and is straining every resource to bring about our destruction.  Some may say this is a broad-brush statement; however, it can be easily made more specific.  Our perennial negotiation partners, the Islamic Republic of Iran, declared war on America in 1979 and has been at war with us ever since even if we haven’t bothered to notice. Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda declared war on America twice, once in 1996 and again in 1998.  And our new friends and allies the Muslim Brotherhood declared war on America in 2010.

If everyone knows who we are at war with why can’t our leaders say so?  Why doesn’t our government declare war and marshal the vast power of theUnited Statesand its people to win?

The Bible tells us “The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is servant to the lender.” America under the rule of the Progressives and their Environmental Religion have decreed that we cannot use our own energy and so we are eternally destined to stand in line for the oil of theMideast. Saudi Arabia is one of our largest suppliers of oil so we couldn’t blame the Saudis just because the founder of al-Qaeda, the majority of the hijackers, and most of their funding are Saudi in origin.  We can’t blame the Afghans even though they harbored bin Laden and provided him with a base to launch his attacks.

President Bush couldn’t bring himself to name our attackers or declare war on our enemies.  Instead he followed in the footsteps of Truman who called the Korean War a police action and Johnson who said we could have guns and butter as he sent hundreds of thousands of America’s finest to fight a war based on a resolution not a declaration.

Then along came Barack Obama.  He began the foreign policy of his administration with a ritual prostration before Islam in his Cairo speech which began the process of our surrender in a war against no one.  He followed up by going to Turkey, an Islamic nation, and declaring America is not a Christian nation.  Then he went to Saudi Arabia where he bowed to their king.   Although this is just one in a series of bows he regularly makes to world leaders it is significant because we are supposedly at war with the very people the Saudis support.

After Navy seals killed Osama bib Laden the Obama Administration did make a declaration.  They declared that the War on Terror is over.  Of course they hadn’t been able to see acts of Islamic Terrorism since arriving in Washington.  His Secretary of Homeland Security wasn’t even able to say the word terrorism instead she replaced the word with man-caused disaster.  And although he calls the murders in Aurora, Colorado terrorism when Army Maj. Nidal Hasan climbs on a table and shouts “Allah Akbar!” as he methodically killed thirteen people and wounded forty three, Mr. Obama instead says Hasan  cracked under stress.  He explained, “everybody understands how outstanding the young men and women in uniform are under the most severe stress. There are going to be instances in which an individual cracks.”  At the memorial speech at Fort Hood he refused to call this obvious terrorist attack what it was saying, instead, “hard to comprehend the twisted logic that led to this tragedy.”

Now the attacks on our embassies and consulates throughout the Islamic world are not terrorism they are instead a vocal movie review.  The preplanned and coordinated attack that killed our Ambassador and three others in Libya is spontaneous.   Iraq has been liberated and it now funnels Iranian men and material to support the Syrian regime.  Afghanistan has also been liberated and hundreds chant anti-American slogans in the street, as theirU. S. trained military use our soldiers for target practice and everyone in the world knows they will kick out the corruptocracy of Kahrzai and welcome back the Taliban the day we leave.

Unless and until you admit you have a problem there is no hope for a solution.  You can’t wrestle the fog.  If we fight a war against no one we expend our most precious treasure: the lives of our heroes chasing rumors and killing time.  And if we aren’t careful, if we don’t call our so-called leaders to account, this might end up as a war no one wins.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2012 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens