A reader asks: “I agree that democracy and economic development are not panaceas for the Middle East, just as they are not for any other location on the planet. But aren't they a start? And since it is possible to chew gum and walk at the same time, does it hurt to at least pay lip service to doing things to bring the rest of the Middle East into the 21st century? And what would those things be in your opinion?” As you noted, both candidates in the presidential election spoke of economic development as a top priority in their Middle East policy. This sounds good to voters but is pretty meaningless.
The short announcement by the two men last night—there were no questions from the reporters in the room—described a logical union of Likud, with its 27 seats in the outgoing Knesset, and Yisrael Beitenu, with its 15 seats, to create a powerful new party with the potential to attract more seats than its sum total of 42.
One of President Barack Obama’s main themes has been to convince Middle Eastern Islamists and Arabs generally that America is not their enemy. But the reason this strategy never works is that the radicals, be they Islamists or nationalists, know better. They see the United States as their enemy and they are right to do so.
In the early dawn of 24 October, an arms factory in Sudan was attacked in the Yarmouk Industrial Complex approximately 6 miles south of central Khartoum. Video of the exploding building makes it clear that it was an arms factory, with an extended series of powerful secondary explosions characteristic of ammunition dumps. A Sudanese official claims that four Israeli aircraft conducted a strike on the factory.
Romney sees the Navy as a core element of our enduring strategic posture. For national defense and for the protection of trade, the United States has from the beginning sought to operate in freedom on the seas, and, where necessary, to exercise control of them. We are a maritime nation, with extremely long, shipping-friendly coastlines in the temperate zone and an unprecedented control of the world’s most traveled oceans, the Atlantic and Pacific.
A full analysis of the foreign policy aspects of the third debate between President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Remember that the idea that someone “won” the debate in terms of an outside observer’s standpoint or even based on a poll is misleading. The only important thing is whether either candidate swayed additional voters to his side.
The news keeps getting worse. The Washington Free Beacon reports today that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has “blocked” four senior military officers from answering questions on the Benghazi attack posed by Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC).
Are supposed negotiations with Iran the “October Surprise” intended to win the election for President Barack Obama, an Iranian trick for buying time, or both? The answer is both. It’s an incredibly transparent ploy though with the cooperation of the mass media such a gimmick might well have some effect.
Perhaps you remember an incredibly sensational story from back in October 2011 that after a brief period in the headlines disappeared completely. The U.S. government arrested an Iranian-American citizen in Texas and charged him with being an agent of the Iranian government who planned at Tehran’s behest to hire a Mexican drug gang to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in a fiery terrorist attack in Washington D.C. It would have been another September 11, albeit on a far smaller scale. Knowing about such an operation should have been a real game-changer for U.S. Middle East policy.
We’ve reached a watershed here, where we either live in our own heads affirming reality, regardless of spurious inputs from demagoguery or sentiment, or we give up on reality and let demagoguery and sentiment take over at the decision table. Did the president pull off a performance last night, in terms of sounding passionate and full of conviction? To some extent, yes. Does that mean he won the debate, or even achieved a draw with Romney? No.
While foreign policy did not figure large in the second presidential debate, the Middle East again emerged as the overwhelmingly main international issue. In the beginning of the debate, President Barack Obama claimed that he put a high priority on energy independence, an assertion well refuted by Governor Mitt Romney. A president who wanted energy independence, from the unreliability of Middle East supplies, could easily expand oil drilling on federal land; the use of new technology to produce oil and gas; a major pipeline from Canada; and the continued production and use of coal for generating power. To do none of these things and put his effort into restricting traditional energy sources and push hard for untested, long-term, and failed “green energy” schemes subverts energy independence. But the main emphasis in the debate was on the Benghazi assassinations.
The short answer is: because he’s got nothing. There is no record to run on, no argument to make for four more years. The ideology that drives him is outdated and bankrupt. He has, in fact, implemented his policies – Republicans have had little means of stopping him – and those policies are the problem. But there’s a slightly longer answer too.
One argument we will be increasingly hearing is that President Barack Obama couldn’t have done anything to change events in the Middle East. This is ironic of course because when things were going well he wanted to take credit as the inspiration for the "Arab Spring."
Recently, on this stage we have dealt with the increasing tension between the Sunnis and the Shi'ites in the Middle East. The coalitions, which are hostile to each other, reflect this inter-ethnic tension: on one side is the Shi'ite coalition that comprises Iran, Iraq and Hizb'Allah, which support the bloody, Shi'a-aligned Alawite regime, and on the other side is the Sunni coalition whose members are Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as well as a few other countries who offer background support, principally Jordan and Egypt. The war of Gog the Shi'ite against Magog the Sunni has been in progress since March 2011 on the soil of Assyria, modern Syria. Today we will focus on the Turkish-Kurdish-Egyptian triangle.
The Obama Administration's Middle East errors are deepened and the lessons of experience once again rejected in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s latest defense of these wrong-headed policies in a speech given at my first employers, the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C. Her argument is that the United States should ignore violence and extremism while helping to build democracies. The problem is that most of the violence and extremism comes from forces that the Obama Administration supports or groups basically allied with those forces. The violence and extremism is the inevitable outcome, not a declining byproduct, of this process.
In other words, bad developments are sometimes reported though there is an attempt to explain it away. This does leave some margin for readers and viewers to use their brains. Are these explanations credible? Why do things keep getting worse? If Obama is such a big supporter of Israel why does he keep subverting its interests? If Obama has made people in the region love America why do they keep hating America? Come to think of it, if Obama is such a big supporter of America why does he keep subverting U.S. interests?
Mitt Romney gave a speech at the Virginia Military Institute today which focuses on U.S. Middle East policy. There are some good points in this speech that are definite steps forward. Romney sounded like a president should, someone who grasps power politics, deterrence, credibility, supporting allies and opposing enemies, and all the basic principles that have been largely vanished by the Obama Administration in exchange for unworkable and dangerous concepts. (Watch video)
Hamas's rocket barrage against Israel on Monday marked an escalation in the group's ongoing war against Israel, both quantitatively in the amount of rocket fire, and qualitatively in Hamas's willingness to claim responsibility for the attack.
The Obama-Romney debate has been analyzed from many angles, especially about who won. Yet in the course of the event, Obama said what might be the most revealing slip he has ever made. This one phrase tells more about Obama and the ideology of his left-wing supporters than every other word they have spoken in the last four years.
Instead of sticking with our commitment to a new Libya, one in which Americans have friendship and influence – one in which we can walk free, and so can Libyans – we have closed our post in Benghazi and drawn down our embassy staff in Tripoli to “essential” personnel only. It will be of some interest to see how long it takes al Qaeda or other terrorist savages to attack us in Tripoli.