Category: War on Terror

The Outline of a Deal

It’s not official, yet. Right now it’s just the framework. But the basics of the nuclear deal with Iran look … not that bad, actually. Iran will cut down it’s centrifuges by two-thirds and not enrich uranium past 3.67 percent. They’ll cut their stockpile of enriched uranium by 97% and not build any new facilities for 15 years. IAEA will have access to all of their facilities. This is the most important part:

U.S. and E.U. nuclear-related sanctions will be suspended after the IAEA has verified that Iran has taken all of its key nuclear-related steps. If at any time Iran fails to fulfill its commitments, these sanctions will snap back into place.

Sanctions related to support of terrorism will remain in place.

Israel is unhappy, but Israel will be unhappy with just about any deal. The GOP and many Congressional Democrats are objecting, but they’ll object to almost any deal. Obviously a better deal would eliminate their nuclear facilities completely. But Ed Krayewski makes a good point:

That’s the reality a lot of critics of the Iran deal don’t want to admit. President Obama even briefly touched on it yesterday—a country won’t do something just because America wants it to. For starters, the country’s political leadership would have to be historically illiterate to even consider it. Following American diktats provide no guarantee of not becoming a target of American ire in the future (i.e. Qaddafi giving up WMDs and then getting regime-changed by the West anyway). Could the U.S. continue sanctions against Iran? Certainly. The Israeli government would appear to consider that a better option. But sanctions aren’t effective at compelling compliance. Cuba’s been the subject of sanctions for more than half a century—neither did the sanctions break the communist regime nor were they even able to accomplish the more limited goal of extracting reimbursements for property seized by the Cuban government. And, most importantly, sanctions rarely hurt the ruling class of a country. The Ayatollahs, the Castros, the Kims, they’re all authoritarians of very different stripes, but none have known hunger or deprivation because of the sanctions their actions may have triggered.

While I agree that our ability to force Iran’s hand is limited, I’d disagree that the sanctions haven’t been a big factor here. Iran is much closer to a democracy than Cuba is and the bad Iranian economy has clearly put the leadership in jeopardy of popular uprising. I don’t think Iran would be at the table at all had it not been for the sanctions. This is good: it indicates a sliver of pragmatism laced within the fundamentalist dipshittery that infests Iran’s leaders.

As always, the devil is in the details. We’ll see how the final deal looks and how the inspections go down. But so far … this doesn’t look half bad … if the inspections and the conditional nature of withdrawing sanctions are as strong as the State Department is claiming.

Surviving the New Cold War

As you have probably heard, Yemen has collapsed into chaos. The President we were backing had fled the country and Iran-backed Shia rebels appear to be establishing control. Saudi Arabia is intervening and it looks like Egypt may get involved as well.

All this is a sign of Obama’s failed foreign policy according to … holy crap … Vox?:

Read more… »

Bergdahl To Be Charged

Well, knock me over with a feather:

On Wednesday, the Army announced that it was charging Sergeant Bergdahl with misbehavior before the enemy and desertion, raising the possibility that he could be imprisoned again, this time for life.

In announcing the charges against Sergeant Bergdahl, the military reignited the political firestorm that took place last summer after the sergeant was released in a swap for five Taliban detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

For President Obama, it reopens the contentious political question of whether the United States should have agreed to the exchange. Administration officials have steadfastly maintained that even if Sergeant Berdahl did voluntarily walk off his remote base in Afghanistan, it was the duty of the United States to take all appropriate steps to free him.

The president’s national security adviser, Susan E. Rice, was harshly criticized when she said last summer that Sergeant Bergdahl had served “with honor and distinction” at the same time that his former platoon members were appearing on television accusing him of deliberately leaving the base, an act that they said put in danger the lives of the American military members who searched for him.

Sergeant Bergdahl is charged with misbehavior before the enemy, which carries a maximum sentence of up to life in prison, and with desertion, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. He could also face a dishonorable discharge, reduction in rank and forfeiture of the pay he was owed while in captivity if he is tried and convicted, Army officials said during a news conference in Fort Bragg, N.C.

A few things to unpack here:

First, getting Bergdahl back was justified. We don’t leave men behind and the idea, currently promulgating in liberal circles, that Republicans would rather he have been left to rot, is garbage. The criticism that Obama faced was for the way this went down — releasing five Taliban detainees in exchange for Bergdahl, not informing Congress of the deal, trying to pretend that Bergdahl served with honor and, in the case of one Administration official, branding his accusers as psychopaths.

Second, it’s amazing to watch the pretzels the sufferers of Obama Defense Derangement Syndrome are twisting themselves into. When Bergdahl was first released and the criticisms of his conduct emerged, the Left took the “how dare you!” narrative. When he was returned to active duty, they pilloried Republicans for having had the temerity to have questioned his honor. Republican criticism of the deal was labelled as placing party above country (even though many Democrats agreed that Obama broke the law in brokering the deal). Now that he’s been charged, we’re back to, “we don’t leave a man behind.”

Berdahl is innocent until proven guilty, obviously. But let’s not pretend the Republicans are the only ones who used his release as a political football. And let’s not pretend that this was a great deal. As David Burge noted on Twitter the other day, it’s becoming clear that this Administration couldn’t negotiate a 99-cent deal with a dollar store.

Tunisia Attack

Here we go again:

At least 17 people — most of them tourists — were killed in an attack Wednesday at the Bardo museum in Tunisia’s capital, Tunisian Prime Minister Habid Essid said.

Two attackers were also killed, while three attackers are at large, according to Essid.

Tunisia hasn’t been as chaotic as Libya but ISIS has been getting a toehold there. I would be surprised if there wasn’t a connection.

Trying Their Hand at Diplomacy

Barack Obama has been negotiating with Iran for a potential deal that would delay their nuclear ambitions while lightening sanctions. We’ve been debating the wisdom of this in the comments for a while. The Republicans oppose any deal without more sanctions and invited Netanyahu to address Congress without consulting the President, an unusual move (although I found Netanyahu’s speech itself to be reasonable and conciliatory).

But this week, things took an interesting turn:

A group of 47 Republican senators has written an open letter to Iran’s leaders warning them that any nuclear deal they sign with President Barack Obama’s administration won’t last after Obama leaves office.

Organized by freshman Senator Tom Cotton and signed by the chamber’s entire party leadership as well as potential 2016 presidential contenders Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, the letter is meant not just to discourage the Iranian regime from signing a deal but also to pressure the White House into giving Congress some authority over the process.

“It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand our constitutional system … Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement,” the senators wrote. “The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”

As a matter of law, the Republicans are right. Any deal will not be a formal treaty ratified by Congress. As a matter of practical politics, however, I find this meaningless. If, two years from now, Iran is violating the terms of the deal, there will no problem in revoking it. However, if the deal is working, I don’t see how a Republican President could possibly revoke it and basically put Iran on a faster path to a nuclear weapon. If we were to unilaterally back out, Iran would be able to resume a nuclear program without international sanctions, which is a worse situation than we have right now. In fact, I would argue that issuing this threat at this time is likely to make the Iranian situation worse. Doug Mataconis:

First of all, as several observers have noted since the letter was released yesterday, the threat that an agreement reached with the Obama Administration might not be honored by the next President, or that it could be undermined by Republicans in Congress through a variety of methods is likely to reinforce the position of Iranian hardliners who are against any agreement at all. This letter reinforces exactly what they already believe, that the United States cannot be trusted and that Iran must move forward with a nuclear program to protect its national interests. Second, the current sanctions regime is working largely only because the other major nations in the world are on board with it because they believe that it will help in the ongoing negotiations in Geneva to persuade the Iranians that there could be a benefit to agreeing to limits on their nuclear program, namely the gradual lifting of sanctions. Even the Russians and Chinese have signed on to this strategy, for now. If these other nations start to see the U.S. as taking a hard line position that makes diplomacy impossible, though, it’s unlikely that they are going to stick with the program or that they will agree to the kind of tougher sanctions that Republicans, and the Israeli Prime Minister favor. If the international sanctions regime is undermined, then there goes the pressure on Iran to come to the negotiating table. Finally, the simple fact of the matter that these Republicans seem to be ignoring is that Iran is not going to give up its nuclear program the way that nations like Libya and South Africa, to pick two examples that Senator Cotton cited this morning, did simply because history has shown them what happens to regimes who give up their WMD programs, such as Libya and Iraq, and those that do not, such as North Korea. Rather than aiming for an impossible objective, then, it strikes me that the best alternative is to try to get the Iranians to agree to confine their research to peaceful uses of nuclear technology. Senator Cotton and his colleagues just helped to undermine that objective.

I would also add that it endangers the cooperation Iran is giving us in fighting ISIS, which I regard as the greater of two evils at the moment.

Iran’s foreign minister has responded to the letter quite forcefully, indicated the letter is having the effect of encouraging Iranian hardliners. And parts of the Left Wing is accusing the Republicans of sabotaging Obama on foreign policy. I’m inclined to somewhat agree.

Foreign policy is one of the few arenas where the President has primary authority. Congress has some say — funding the President’s initiatives and ratifying treaties and so on. But it is not the job of Congress to act like amateur diplomats. Acting like amateur diplomats is the job of Obama’s bumbling State Department. I said as much when Nancy Pelosi went to Syria to meet with Assad: that was not her damned job. It was not the job of Congressmen to undermine the President’s foreign policy then; it’s not the job of Congressmen to undermine the President’s foreign policy now.

As is their wont, the Left is taking a reasonable point and becoming absurd, accusing the Republicans of “treason” for this. This isn’t treason, no matter what you think of it. I’d reserve that to … say … a sitting Senator negotiating with a hostile foreign power to influence an American election.

It’s one thing for Congress to influence policy through the power of the purse or the power of law. But this sort of direct communication with a foreign government during negotiations is a bridge too far. They need to cut it out. If they want to cancel any deal with Iran, they can try to pass a law over Obama’s veto. Or they can the election in 2016 and abrogate it then. But they need to leave off the theatrics. The situation with Iran is delicate enough without 47 senators barging into it.

Islamists of the World, Unite

You know, it’s so great to have real professionals in the State Department again, running terrorism into the ground, preventing the rise of dangerous Islamist states and … oh:

With thousands of fighters and some parts of northeastern Nigeria under its control, Boko Haram is believed to be the largest jihadi group to pledge fidelity to the Islamic State. But terrorism experts say that the practical significance of the move announced Saturday is as yet unclear.

Some experts say that the pledge, or “bayat,” made by the leader of Boko Haram is a spiritually binding oath, which indicates that the Nigerian Islamist group has agreed to accept the authority of the Islamic State.

It’s easy for Boko Haram to pledge allegiance to something thousands of miles away. This doesn’t necessarily move us closer to a caliphate but it does lay the groundwork for a larger and more global terrorist network that can wreck havoc from Africa to the Middle East. And yet another sign that the world has become more under dangerous under Barack Obama, not less.

Hottest Ticket In Town

About an hour to go before the big show and the High School girl’s penchant for cyber bullying is in full flourish. A packed house, sans the petulant Democrats, awaits the Benjamin Netanyahu address to the full Congress. No one from the Obama Administration will be present, no State folks, no Israeli ambassador, the President can’t even be bothered to watch, butt hurt indeed.

Netanyahu went out of his way yesterday, while addressing the folks at AIPAC, to dispel any rumors of a rift between the two governments, as if. They don’t call it “diplomacy” for nothing. But the folks, both here and in Israel, know better.

How funny, the guy that threw our most valued ME ally under the bus ( or thrown them to the wolves, pick your own metaphor), the guy that started his presidency with the most wild eyed pie in the sky notion of eliminating all nuclear weapons world wide, just guaranteed every kid in the ME block going nuclear themselves.

So now we have a bad deal in the works, with the school yard bully, the same bully that continually bloodys our nose even after taking our lunch money, yet we still think that the biggest sponsor of world wide terrorism can be trusted to honor a treaty, a treaty btw that no one knows the particulars of, and with a party that has never honored treaties in the past, this is the Chicago way.

TBH, I am surprised that the Israeli AF has not taken out the Iranian nuclear factories ala Osirak, long before now. To put your very existence in the hands of Obama and his ability to deal, or in the IAEA and their inability to accurately monitor the cheaters in Tehran? Ridiculous.

Bibi will make a passioned case about the consequences, not only for Israel, but for everyone who fears a terrorists approach to nation building, and the need for real sanctions, the stick, to shape the manners of a nation who has shunned them in the past.

Obama has made this speech more than just historic, a not to be missed affair. Normally it is Boehner who gets manipulated with this type of alacrity.

As an aside, just heard that Boehner is now calling for a House vote on a clean DHS funding bill, he is such a playable light weight.

So, break out the popcorn, Bibi is about ready to rock the house.

The President and ISIL

With recent pushes into Kurdish territory and the beheading of 21 Christians in Libya, there is a growing fear that ISIL is growing more and more powerful. The President has asked for an authorization for the use of military force (finally). I’ll get to that in a moment. But my first concern is that he’s been making the argument, yet again, that ISIL doesn’t represent “real” Islam, even dragging out the old arguments about the Crusades as a moral equivalence.

The thing is that ISIL doesn’t agree with him. They are not like Al-Qaeda, which was an amorphous terrorist movement dedicated to bringing about the caliphate but operating within the modern world. ISIL wants to create the caliphate right now and the caliphate they want to create is violent, barbaric, medieval and based heavily on old-school Islam and literal interpretations of the Koran:

The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.

Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal.

(You really should read that entire article. Think Regress has posted a lame response that basically ignores Wood’s point: that while many Muslims don’t take the Koran’s more violent texts at face value, organizations like ISIL do.)

When the President says that violent extremists like ISIL are not the real face of Islam, he is both right and wrong. The face of Islam can be one of tolerance and peace. But it can also be one of intolerance and violence. Islam has gone through periods of enlightenment and gone through periods of horrific fundamentalism. At this point in history, it hangs in the balance caught between hundreds of millions of peaceful Muslims and violent sects that, while a minority, wields enormous power and influence. We’ve seen in pre-war Afghanistan and in the ISIL-controlled territory what these people want: beheadings, slavery, crucifixion, stoning. Their ideology recognizes no authority other than “pure” radical Islam. Whether they represent a minority or not is beside the point. The Nazis were never a majority in Germany. The Communists were never a majority in the countries they ruled with an iron fist. But they were able to control massive parts of the world and enormous armies through violence, intimidation and bloodshed.

The “most Muslims are good” argument, while based in truth, has no practical meaning. Most Germans are good people. We still had to defeat them in two wars. Most Russians are good people. We still had to fight a dangerous and tense Cold War against the Soviet Union. Most Japanese are good people. We still had to drop two atom bombs on them. It doesn’t really matter what the vast majority want when the monsters have the floor. The problem is that while most people are good, they are also easily persuaded or coerced to do bad things or stand aside while bad things are done. This is true of everyone in the world. There is not a religion or country that isn’t capable of doing horrible things. The question is: who is in charge? We’ve seen what happens when people like ISIL are in charge: entire regions of the world become unspeakably violent.

The President has finally asked Congress to recognize the semi-war we’ve been fighting for a while. I think they should do so, but with some limitations. A land war is not necessarily going to solve ISIL (although letting them overrun Baghdad or Kurdistan — as they’ve threatened to — would be a disaster). In fact, it could play right into their apocalyptic prophecies. But I do know that we can not disengage. It’s important that we keep ISIL and AQ from reconciling (which the President’s rescue attempt threatened to do). The longer ISIL survives and the more territory they conquer, the more legitimacy and power they will accumulate in the eyes of radical Muslims. Stopping them might mean air support, training, weapons and/or money to the forces opposing ISIL. If that means what we end up propping up one side in a bloody decades-long struggle for the soul of Islam … well, that’s what it means. We have a national interest in preventing the rise of ISIL to a real caliphate. The only way it will end is when this supposed peaceful majority rises up and ends it.

Keeping Their Feet To The Fire

One of the main reasons I was glad that the GOP took both house of Congress in the last election is that now Republicans will chair the various sub committees. A residual benefit is that congress critters (Harry Reid) will not be able to derail the process, run interference for the president, or sit on legislation that deserves at the very least a passing purview. But back to the sub committees, congress will now be allowed to remove itself from the personal bidding of the president and actually do it’s job, separately as was intended. With the GOP at the helm, the administration will not be allowed to sweep things under the carpet or hinder any attempt at fact finding. Although the president and his supplicants have turned manipulation and subterfuge into an art form, it is encouraging to know that folks like Eric Holder, Hillary Clinton, and Lois Lerner should not get too comfy or complacent, retribution (hopefully) is inching toward fruition.

A GOP packed Senate Armed Services committee will make it even harder for Obama to fulfill a 2009 promise that still gnaws at him, closing Gitmo. Even McCain has seen the light;

Just last month, Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) promised to help Obama close the detention center where terrorism suspects have been held for years without being charged. But on Tuesday, McCain and three other Republican colleagues introduced plans to sharply restrict the removal or transfer of detainees from the facility, which has served as a long-standing target of worldwide criticism.

Although it has not been for lack of trying. And no, we will not forget about the 5 high level AQ terrorists traded for the cowardly deserter, or allow them to delay the out come indefinitely. The final report is finished and from what I have read, desertion charges will be filed. Although I don’t expect Bergdahl to serve a single day behind bars, a conclusion to this whole sordid affair is owed, both to his fellow soldiers and the rest of the nation. And a further delay, orchestrated by WH pressure on the pentagon, should not be allowed to stand.

And speaking of Gitmo;

Tom Cotton just achieved Trey Gowdy status.

My opinion of Gitmo has evolved a bit over the years, not because of it’s need or relevancy in caging terrorists, but as with pretty much everything with Obama, we spend way too much money keeping these vermin housed. We all heard about the multi million dollar soccer field, the lavish buffets offered at every meal, and the palatial digs they use for their worship services. Whatever happened to prisoners making little rocks out of big ones, and eating only when they work? This Mottle Coddling of killers is infuriating.

I am starting to doubt the efficacy of keeping any bases open in Cuba and if a better (cheaper) solution can be found for housing captured terrorists, I am willing to listen. But for now Gitmo stays open for business, and bring on a top to bottom analysis of the costs. Prison should be a hardship, this should not be Clubmed.

I would not be surprised..

That Iran’s claim that the desperate pussies in the Obama administration are again acting like the pussies collectivist tend to always be, and then for clearly craven political reasons, is absolutely true. This administration is going to eventually be seen, when the historians finally actually get to look at the things they did, as one of the biggest failures ever. No amount of revisionist history, media cover for their fellow collectivists, or even sycophantic pandering by people willing to line up and suck Obama cock, just because of their “My Team,” feelings, will change that reality. They are desperate for something – anything – to show they are not the abject failures they are. Hence the constant stupidity and the dangerous display of absolute incompetence and weakness that leads to things like this. yeah, I bet they are begging Iran for a bone. Any bone.

I am going to rub it in. Back when the fucking leftards were telling us all how stupid Boosh’s cowboy diplomacy was and that what we needed was mature and capable collectivists to take over to fix things, I pointed out this was all bullshit. Leftards suck at foreign policy precisely because they hold such a high opinion of themselves that they believe they can do not just the improbable, but the impossible. Most people don’t remember the incompetence of the Carter years. Carter thought his good intentions and his willingness to do what feelers on the left think is the right thing would garner him the support of people not just with their own agenda, but of evil people. That’s why he was so butt-hurt when the Russians went into Afghanistan. Brezhnev had after all promised him that the USSR wouldn’t do that! Carter was a moron. And the bulk of people that share his idiotic and naive beliefs – which pretty much amounts to all collectivists and the democratic party as a singular entity these days – world view are always going to not only be surprised by the wolves in sheep’s clothing, but end up on the short end of any deal. Always.

Obama however has been far worse than Carter was. His administration has not only been more than willing to drop to their knees to suck the cocks of people that are clearly our enemies, but they have treated our allies, especially those that were considered our closest ones, with scorn and disdain on top of that. I have said it before and will say it again: At the risk of insulting amateurs, this administration’s foreign policy, and for that matter anything else other than their agenda to destroy the country, is amateur hour at the freak show. Not that these idiots will ever get called on it until long from now when historian take a look at the shit that went down and the damage it has caused will we finally understand how bad they were/are.