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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Clinton’

You Can’t Outleft the Left

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Originally published at Sultan Knish.

The dominant struggle of the 20th Century was the attempt to reconcile the growth of industrial economies with the social welfare demands of the left. The various attempts to “Steal the Thunder” of the left by adopting its social programs led to horrors such as Nazism on the one hand and the growth of the welfare state on the other.

Communism was finally defeated by adopting its program. The national battle against a Russian Communist empire was won while the domestic struggle against the left was lost.The welfare state created a fifth column of bureaucrats and recipients to act as the left’s electorate. Instead of stealing the left’s thunder, they subsidized the triumphant long march of the left.

The liberal Republican prescription is still to Outleft the left, adopting some of its more popular ideas and social policies in a more sensible fashion. And they have never understood that the strategy, even when it succeeds in the short term, is doomed. You don’t win by making your enemy stronger. The left understands that. That is why it’s strategies once in power involve deepening and expanding its institutional power while destroying those of the right.

The temptation to Outleft the left is always there and always doomed because adopting the ideas and positions of the left means that you have already lost.

Mastering the craft of political expediency only gets you through an election. But if you adopt enough expediencies, moving left to win battles, the day will come when there are no more elections because the war has been lost.

Allying with the far left against the left on national security can be as tempting for some libertarians as bending on social welfare and amnesty is for some liberal Republicans. But it’s equally a dead end.

The media has begun conniving in the downfall of Obama because the election is over and the next election will require a Democrat who will run against Obama in the same way that Gore ran against Clinton and McCain ran against Bush.

In 2008, Obama ran to the left of Clinton on national security. There are signs that this time around Hillary Clinton will try to run to the left of Obama on national security taking advantage of the national dissatisfaction with multiple wars to push a return to a 9/10 Clinton Administration era of ignorance and inaction.

The ultimate beneficiary of the NSA outrage will be Hillary Clinton. And even if that we’re not the case, trying to Outleft the left still fails even when it appears to work. Mainstreaming the ideas of a Glenn Greenwald because at a given time he makes a useful club to beat Obama with will only ensure a future version of Obama who is even further to the left.

Outlefting the left only radicalizes it and then the left radicalizes the country. Defeating Obama by empowering the left would be as pyrrhic a victory as winning the Cold War while empowering the welfare state.

What distinguishes conservatives within a party whose political operatives all too often sacrifice principles to political expediency are those principles. It is often said that those who hold to their principles lose sight of the bigger picture. But principles are the bigger picture.

Either we fight for principles or for power and it’s easy to tell the difference. Principles are consistent regardless of who is in power. Everything else is political expediency.There can be a conservative case made against NSA data mining, but the case had to be consistent. Treating drones as an ingenious weapon under Bush but an evil death machine under Obama is not a principled position. If the NSA is bad, it was bad under Bush. If drones are bad, they were bad under Bush.

There is a fundamental difference between opposing a political targeting program in the IRS under Obama and jumping on the left’s side of any national security issue because it allows us to hit Obama even when the issue did not originate under Obama.

Not all scandals are created equal. Some scandals are an outrage because they violate our principles and because they are a declaration of war against us. Others are a scandal because a bunch of international left wing activists who oppose every conceivable American military action say that they are.

A conservative case on any issue does not rely on the likes of Glenn Greenwald for support. If what we truly fear is the tyranny of the left, then what possible good can come from empowering the far left?

That’s not allying with Stalin against Hitler, it’s allying with Stalin against Socialists.

If you go into a struggle of ideas, you should know what your principles are and derive solutions from them. Greenwald and the rest of the far left does. Their principles lead them to reject terrorism as anything other than a response to American foreign policy. Their solution would be total surrender and appeasement. Imagine a policy that makes Obama look like a militarist and exceptionalist and you’re there.

Many believe that there can be nothing worse than Obama. History suggests otherwise. There can always be worse and the seeds of that are here today.

The Democrats embraced the anti-war movement to bring down Bush and the end result of that alliance was Barack Obama. If Republicans embrace the anti-war movement to bring down Obama, forcing the Democrats to go even further to the left, what political monsters will be spawned from that mating?

In a long struggle it is easy to lose sight of your principles. The question is have we lost sight of our principles in fighting terrorists, as the left insists, or after fighting a long bitter war against Obama for so long are we losing sight of the fact that our larger struggle is not against Obama, but the ideas and institutions of the left that he is a part of?The enemy isn’t just Obama or his flunkies. It’s also Glenn Greenwald and Michael Moore. It’s the entire transnational idea that denies the right of nations to defend themselves and indicts them endlessly for imaginary crimes against the Third World.

The only way to make a conservative case against tactics like the NSA wiretapping is to reject that premise and the likes of Greenwald. Unless that is done, the case belongs to the far left and adopting it is not an act of principle but expediency. Trying to beat Obama with the ideas of the left by undermining America will only give the left an even bigger victory.

PA Strikes Out again; Boulder Nixes Making Nablus ‘Sister City’

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

The Boulder City Council Monday night decided to leave the “peace process” for those with less common sense and overwhelmingly nixed a controversial proposal to adopt Nablus, the Arab version of the Biblical city of Shechem, as a sister city.

The council voted 7-2 against the proposal, according to the local ABC outlet Denver Channel, while the Boulder Daily Camera reported that the vote was 6-3.

Twinning cities is an international project, and even Israel cities have “sisters’ in the Palestinian Authority.

The problem with American and European cities twinning with those in the Palestinian Authority  is the political overtone.

Boulder has seven sister cites, in non-sensitive places – Kenya, Tajikistan, Nicaragua, Tibet, Mexico, Japan and Cuba.

The Palestinian Authority, of course, is not even a country, and that would not be an obstacle to its being twinned by an American city if it were not for the fact that twinning gives PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas the very ground support he has been trying to drum for more than eight years with a single minded aim.

He wants to create a new independent Arab country within Israel’s borders, which the international community insists do not exist.

Any city that has the lofty aim of generating peace with Arabs in Judea and Samaria cannot escape the fact it is involving itself with foreign affairs, even if unintentionally.

Being against twinning with Nablus does not mean taking a stand against the Palestinian Authority. It simply means that understanding culture and creating friendships in Tibet, Kenya and Japan is not the same as doing so in Palestinian Authority cities.

The Boulder-Nablus Sister City Project has been around for two years. Its stated mission sounds ideal.

“Both Arabs and Muslims are misrepresented and maligned by negative stereotyping in the US and we hope, through meaningful exchanges, to offer citizens of Boulder the opportunity to form friendships and to put a human face to the people of Palestine,” according to its website.

Isn’t that nice?

Of course, it is true. Arabs and Muslims are misrepresented. So are Jews. So are blacks, whites, Israeli settlers, Puerto Ricans, homosexuals, terrorists, clowns, Samantha Power and The Good Humor Man.

It is very nice that some well-meaning Americans in Colorado want to discover the truth about Arabs in the Palestinian Authority, but twinning with Nablus is not the way.

Americans, from Condoleezza Rice, to Hillary Clinton, her hubby Bill, John Kerry, President Obama and just about every other American citizen who “knows about the Middle East – the whole bunch of them really don’t have a clue.

If they did, they would not embark on peace processes and twining projects. You will never get to know Israel culture or Arab culture by eating a felafel with a Sabra or smoking a water pipe with an Arab.

In the political atmosphere that has suffocated the Arab-Jewish atmosphere ever since the creation of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the truth sounds like a lie and the lie sounds like the truth.

In this context, the “human face” that the good citizens of Boulder want to find in the Palestinian Authority would come at the expense of Jews and Israel. No matter what happens in the Palestinian Authority, it is Israel’s fault.

If the Palestinian Authority  economy sags, it is because of Israel checkpoints. If the economy improves, it is despite Israel checkpoints.

If Arabs are not happy, it is because of the occupation. If they are happy, it proves their endurance in the face of the Occupation.

The Intermountain Jewish News wrote, “At best the supporters are idealistic and naive, enamored with the Palestinian underdog status. But the leaders of the underdogs are haters, and stand in opposition to everything Boulder stands for.”

“I’m not sure I want to attach Boulder’s name to it,” Boulder Mayor Matt Appelbaum,  told the Boulder  Daily Camera.

“This is not going to be a decision that resolves the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is a bleeding wound,” said Boulder City Councilman Macon Cowles.

The city council heard four hours of testimony from 70 speakers before voting against the idea.

“It is dividing our Boulder community, rather than uniting us to work for peace,” said Beth Ornstein, a member of Bonai Shalom.

Terrorism? What terrorism?

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

This is just beyond belief.

Patrick S. Poole, a freelance writer, has published a long, detailed, and exhaustively documented article exposing the American government’s schizophrenia regarding radical Islamists, “Blind to Terror: The U.S. Government’s Disastrous Muslim Outreach Efforts and the Impact on U.S. Middle East Policy.”

Expect to read and hear denunciations of Poole as an extremist and Islamophobe, and the article dismissed as right-wing craziness. Neither is true. Read the article and check the references (most are official documents or mainstream journalism).

During the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations the US government has actively courted Muslims who have overt connections to terrorism, who have publicly espoused violent jihad or who have raised funds for terrorist groups. These Muslims, sometimes at the same time that they were under investigation by law enforcement agencies for illegal activities, have been invited to the White House, employed by the FBI and Defense Department as trainers, and consulted by government officials on issues relating to Islam and terrorism. An early example was the case of Abdul Rahman al-Amoudi:

Al-Amoudi’s case is perhaps the best example, because he was the conduit through much of the U.S. government outreach that was conducted following the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Not only was he asked by the Clinton administration to help train and certify all Muslim military chaplains (his organization being the first to certify such),[13] he was later appointed by the State Department in 1997 as a civilian goodwill ambassador to the Middle East, making six taxpayer-funded trips.[14]

Further, with the assistance and encouragement of then-First Lady Hillary Clinton, al-Amoudi arranged the first White House Iftar dinner in 1996, personally hand-picking the attendees.[15] Thus, he was regularly invited to the White House during both the Clinton and Bush (II) Administrations. In 1992 and 1996, al-Amoudi’s American Muslim Council hosted hospitality suites at both the Democratic and Republican conventions.[16] It is fair to say that during this period, Abdul Rahman al-Amoudi was the most prominent and politically connected Muslim leader in America.

As is now known, and the U.S. government has admitted, at the time that he was being courted by Democrats and Republicans alike, he was a major fundraiser for al-Qa’ida according to the Department of the Treasury.[17] However, it isn’t as if the U.S. government was not aware of al-Amoudi’s attachments. As far back as 1993, a government informant told the FBI that al-Amoudi was funneling regular payments from Usama bin Ladin to the “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman, who was convicted for authorizing terror attacks targeting New York landmarks.[18]

In March 1996, al-Amoudi’s association with Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook was exposed in the pages of the Wall Street Journal.[19] Two years later, the State Department came under fire by the New York Post for inviting al-Amoudi to official events despite his known statements in support of terrorism and terrorist leaders.[20] Even then the Post noted the problem with the government’s policy of reaching out to the wrong Muslim leaders:

The problem is that such groups have been legitimized–both by government and the media–as civil-rights groups fighting anti-Muslim discrimination and stereotyping. Unfortunately, their definition of such discrimination consists of anyone who writes about the existence of–or tries to investigate–radical Islamic terrorist groups and their allies on these shores.[21]

A more embarrassing episode occurred in October 2000, when al-Amoudi appeared at an anti-Israeli rally where he was cheered by the crowd for his support for terrorists. “I have been labeled by the media in New York to be a supporter of Hamas. Anybody support Hamas here?” he asked the crowd three times to the roar of attendees. “Hear that, Bill Clinton?” he continued. “We are all supporters of Hamas. I wish they added that I am also a supporter of Hezbollah. Does anybody support Hezbollah here?” Again, he was met with the cheers of the crowd.

Well, one might think, that was then. But it continued after 9/11:

The U.S. government’s success with Muslim outreach since September 11 hasn’t fared any better. One of the first Muslim leaders that the government turned to was Anwar al-Awlaki, the al-Qa’ida cleric who was in direct contact with at least three of the September 11 hijackers.[41] Awlaki, who had been placed on the CIA’s “kill or capture” list, was killed on September 30, 2011 in a CIA-led drone strike on the al-Qa’ida cleric’s convoy in Yemen, which President Obama hailed as a “milestone” in the fight against al-Qa’ida.[42]

As the cleanup from the terrorist attack on the Pentagon continued, Awlaki was invited by the Pentagon’s Office of Government Counsel to speak at a lunch in the building’s executive offices as part of the government’s new Muslim outreach policy.[43] Ironically, one of the September 11 terrorists who had helped hijack American Airlines Flight 77 that was flown into the Pentagon had described Awlaki as “a great man” and his “spiritual leader.”[44] Yet concerns had been raised about Awlaki long before the September 11 attacks.

A joint congressional inquiry in the September 11 attacks found that law enforcement had been investigating Awlaki’s contacts with terrorism suspects as far back as 1999.[45] Further, just two days after September 11, Awlaki had described the terror attacks as an “accident” in an interview with a local television station.[46] Also prior to his appearance at the Pentagon the New York Times had noted Awlaki’s fiery anti-American rhetoric prior to the attacks, and in November 2001, he had defended the Taliban in an online chat about Ramadan on the Washington Post website.[47] Thus, despite claims that Awlaki had been “vetted” before the Pentagon event, abundant evidence of Awlaki’s extremist views was more than readily available before he appeared at the Pentagon event.[48]

Needless to say, nobody does political correctness better than the present administration:

To emphasize the Obama administration’s new Muslim outreach policy, the White House issued a directive in August 2011 ordering law enforcement to engage “community partners” to help combat “violent extremism.”[155] This White House policy, signed by President Obama, effectively granted highly questionable official status to extremist groups, like ISNA and MPAC, who even now claim previously unknown oversight to law enforcement training and investigations. One example of the effect of this new policy are the Shari’a-compliant guidelines that federal law enforcement officials must now comply with when conducting raids related to Islamic leaders or institutions.

This was exhibited in May 2011, when the FBI raided a South Florida mosque and arrested its imam and his son for financially supporting the Taliban. The rules required law enforcement officials to remove their shoes before entering the mosque and prohibiting police canines from the property.[156] The common sense of these new rules undoubtedly would have been put to the test had the subjects tried to flee to be pursued by shoeless federal agents. There is also no indication that such sensitivity rules have been established by the FBI for any other religion but Islam, raising serious constitutional questions.

There is more, much more. You might ask, “how can we detect radical Muslims who might engage in or support terrorism against the US when the ‘experts’ we turn to share their ideology?” Good question.

From the outset, the Obama administration has followed a course to blind government agencies to the international and domestic jihadi threat and tie the hands of law enforcement investigators to identify such activity. One of the first steps in 2009 was for the Obama administration to remove any reference to “radical Islam” from the National Security Strategy, a move that was hailed by CAIR and other Muslim groups.[139] In fact, many of the U.S. government’s outreach partners had a direct hand in demanding the language purge from national security protocol and agency lexicons in recent years, going as far back as MPAC’s vehement criticism of the 9/11 Commission Report for the use of the words “Islamist,”,” “jihad,” and other such terms to describe the motivations, influence, and ideology of al-Qa’ida and the September 11 terrorists.[140] Undoubtedly, the Obama administration’s move was part of the recent justification by the Associated Press to purge the same language from their stylebook.[141]

More recently, Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX) challenged the removal of these terms from the FBI’s “Counterterrorism Analytical Lexicon,” including “jihad,” “Islam,” and even “Hamas,” “Hizballah,” and “al-Qa’ida,” in a floor speech in the House of Representatives.[142] The very next day, FBI representatives contacted Gohmert’s staff, claiming that the lexicon he cited didn’t even exist. Those same representatives quickly retreated when it was confirmed that hard copies had been distributed to all counterterrorism agents in the field, electronic copies resided on the FBI’s intranet, and after the current author reported the matter and posted an electronic copy of the FBI’s lexicon online.[143]

Finally, there are the foreign policy implications:

Did the fact that their top outreach partners on Islamic and Middle East issues are known fronts for the Muslim Brotherhood–identified as such by federal prosecutors in federal court–contribute to the Obama administration’s naïve and ultimately false [view] of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East? Was there any reflection by anyone in the administration when these same outreach partners, very close to the White House, began openly meeting with their Middle East counterparts following the toppling of longtime U.S. allies and even hosting them in Washington, D.C. (such as the dinner MPAC hosted for Tunisian Muslim Brotherhood leader Rachid Ghannouchi, who had been banned from the United States for nearly 20 years)?[204]

More good questions.

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Benghazi’s Lesson

Monday, May 20th, 2013

I haven’t written about the Benghazi affair before. I’m not in a position to judge whether the State Department or military could have intervened in time to save Ambassador Stevens, or why the consulate wasn’t reinforced, etc.  I’m sure the disaster could have been prevented, and someone is responsible for it. But I’m not the one to explain how and who.

What I am competent to discuss is the politics of the decision to present the attack as something that it was not and that the relevant people knew at the time it was not.

Some of President Obama’s opponents have been saying that it was all about the election. Obama’s claim was that he had more or less ended the terrorist threat — after all, he killed bin Laden! So the truth that an American ambassador was murdered on the anniversary of 9/11 by al Qaeda linked terrorists would not be helpful. Therefore, the story that the attack grew out of a spontaneous demonstration over an anti-Islam video was pushed instead.

This is true as far as it goes. But it doesn’t go far enough. The fact is that the video story was part of a theme that has run through Obama’s presidency from the beginning. This is the idea that the policy of the United States toward the anti-Western jihad should have two dimensions: we will kill overt anti-American terrorists, while at the same time try to placate the Muslim world through diplomacy and propaganda.

Every effort is made to relate positively to Muslims here and abroad. Aid programs are established to Muslim countries. NASA administrators are asked to reach out to the Muslim world. Less benignly, ‘Islamophobia’ is presented as a more dangerous phenomenon than domestic jihad, the administration embraces the Palestinian cause, supports Islamists in Egypt, falls in love with the Islamist prime minister of Turkey, etc.

This policy, which started immediately before Obama’s inauguration when he pressured Israel to withdraw from Gaza, found full expression in his Cairo speech of June 4, 2009. Although I was initially shocked by his obscene equation of the Holocaust with the way the “Palestinian people … have suffered in pursuit of a homeland,” the most alarming thing about the speech taken as a whole is its obeisance to the Arab and Muslim historical narrative, the story that is told to justify aggression against the U.S. and the West (and Israel is only a small part of this).

For example, he said,

The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.

In other words, it’s all our fault. Never mind the cultural and political backwardness that made Muslim nations hellholes for all but a tiny privileged minority, never mind the cynical behavior of kleptocratic Muslim leaders who sold themselves to whomever would supply the most weapons for them to use in their wars and intrigues against each other and Israel — their problems are all because of those Western colonialists!

Compare them to Israel, which freed itself from British domination to become the most successful nation in the Middle East, or Vietnam, or many other formerly colonized peoples. And keep in mind that many Arab countries, like Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, went rapidly from Ottoman domination to independence, suffering little, if at all, from Western exploitation.

Obama’s approach extended to the way we respond to ideologically-motivated terrorism in the U.S. The administration seems to have taken the true statement “not all Muslims support terrorism” and quite invalidly inferred from it that “Islam can never be the motive for terrorism.” So Major Nidal Hassan’s mass murder at Ft. Hood is explained as workplace violence, other terrorists are defined as mentally disturbed, the Department of Homeland Security issues a directive that such words as “jihad” and “Muslim” cannot be used in connection with terrorism, and the NYPD is criticized for carrying out surveillance of mosques.

In the view of the Obama administration, the enemy is not an ideology. It is only specific organizations (whose motives are not discussed) that attack us.

Any disagreement with this position — anyone who suggests that there is a dangerous ideology of political Islam out there which often finds violent expression in terrorist acts — is stigmatized as an Islamophobe, a kind of racist, a designation which places the person so vilified outside the pale of discourse, and justifies denying him or her the right to speak publicly.

And so we come back to Benghazi. What better explanation could be given for the disaster than an Islamophobic video? Not only does the randomness of the outburst excuse everyone involved for the failure — who could have known this would happen? — and not only does it hide the fact that even the acknowledged war against al Qaeda hasn’t been going as well as they would like us to think, it casts blame precisely on those intolerant opponents of the administration’s policy of trying to placate the Muslim world!

Thus the schmuck who made the video is imprisoned for a year for a parole violation, after Hillary Clinton tells the parent of one of the U.S. personnel murdered in the attack that she would see to it that the filmmaker was arrested and prosecuted.

The dual policy — killing overt terrorists while expressing love and respect for Islam — is both unfortunate for our real allies, like Israel, which sees itself pressured into concessions to the PLO or Hamas as a way to show that Obama cares about Palestinian Muslims, as well as a failure.

The reason for the failure is a misunderstanding of the messages we send as they are received in Arab and Muslim cultures. The message of caring and respect that we are trying to send is perceived as weakness. Muslims understand that non-Muslims can either fight or submit to Islam — it’s not possible to admire Islam while at the same time refusing to submit. So Obama’s gestures are either ignored or indicate that he is not strong enough to fight.

At the same time, the drone strikes and the war in Afghanistan kill Muslims, and it is the duty of Muslims to avenge these killings. The fact that the perpetrators are non-Muslims makes them obscene in these cultures, the reversal of the natural order.

In the meantime, the morale of our police forces on the home front is weakened, the tools necessary to discover and prevent jihadist terrorism are taken out of their hands, and aggressive Islamic ideologues in our mosques and college campuses are encouraged.

A better policy would be to stop pretending to admire the people who hate us. We should say to the Muslim world, “look, we have a system that’s different from yours, we think it’s better, and we intend to defend it. Anyone who hurts us or our allies will get it back ten times over.” We don’t need to ‘declare war on Islam’ to do that, as apologists for the present policy claim.

Our leaders have become so used to lying, that they haven’t considered simply being honest and standing up for what we believe.

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With Blood on their Hands

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

Lady Macbeth may have been one of literature’s most famous villains, but at least she had the guilty conscience to eventually try and wash the blood off her hands. Even if by then it was much too late.

It is doubtful that Hillary Rodham Clinton will start hallucinating bloody spots on her palms during the book tour for her upcoming 14-million-dollar book or compulsively washing her hands during the 2016 campaign.

If she does make it into the White House, it is even more doubtful that she will wonder it at night in a nightgown crying out for the blood that can never be washed away.

Lady Macbeth may have cried out, “Here’s the smell of the blood still; all the perfumes of Araby will not sweeten this little hand.” But the black perfumes of today’s Araby are more than enough to sweeten a multitude of appeasements and cover the blood that flows out from them.

Real life villains are closer to Richard III than Lady Macbeth, offering to trade their stolen kingdom for a horse to the very end, rather than seeking some intangible repentance in a fit of remorse. They are more likely to ask what difference it makes; the solipsistic query of the sociopath to whom the feelings of others are abstract things.

The Benghazi hearings featured more hypocritical and trite eulogies than anything Richard III could have imagined. Congressman Elijah Cummings told witnesses that “death is a part of a life.” A fact that they were surely unaware of. His colleague, Eleanor Holmes Norton asked, “What’s the big deal here?”

“We had Benghazi I with Susan Rice, now we’re having Benghazi II with Hillary Clinton. Enough Benghazi,” Norton declared. It’s not quite “Out, damned spot!” or “What, will these hands ne’er be clean?” and more “What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account?”

The latter is a timeless villain’s truth, whether in a fictional 11th century Scottish castle or in the all too real 21st century Capitol Hill.

For Lady Macbeth, power was not a sufficient defense against conscience. A thousand years later, in Foggy Bottom, Capitol Hill and at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue; there is no conscience, only power. The arrogance of an Obama, a Clinton or a Norton comes from their confidence that none can call their power to account.

Norton and Clinton have more of a point than critics give them credit for. Benghazi isn’t a big deal. Not compared to the rivers of blood they shed in Afghanistan. In Benghazi, four Americans were abandoned. In Afghanistan, it was over 1500 soldiers killed and nearly 15,000 wounded many of them denied air support and the ability to fight back under rules of engagement that likely also played a part in the betrayal at Benghazi.

Iosif Vissarionovich (Joseph) Stalin, a Shakespearean villain, if there ever was one, who helpfully wrote his own soliloquies, once said that while a single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic. The four deaths in Benghazi are also a tragedy. Though we must of course, as Congressman Cummings told us, put them into the context of death being a part of life. Afghanistan however is just a statistic.

The day after Benghazi, the parents of Navy SEALS from Seal Team Six, along with military experts and former military officials, appeared at the National Press Club to demand a congressional investigation. The media responded with a collective shrugs and resumed providing non-stop coverage of the Jodi Arias case. Some Lady Macbeths go to prison. Others are meant to go to the White House.

“Why was there no pre-assault fire?” Karen Vaughn, the mother of Navy SEAL Aaron Vaughn, asked. “We were told as families that pre-assault fire damages our efforts to win the hearts and minds of our enemy. So in other words, the hearts and minds of our enemy are more valuable to this government than my son’s blood.”

“Why didn’t they take them out with a drone,” Charles Strange, the father of Michael Strange asked. “The Admiral told me, to win the hearts and minds. I says, to win the hearts and minds? How about my heart? How about my mind?” But not all hearts and minds are created equal. And not all blood is valued the same.

Why the Benghazi Affair is Still so Important

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

There is something terribly and tragically and importantly symbolic about the Benghazi attack that may be lost in the tidal wave of details about what happened on September 11, 2012, in an incident where four American officials were murdered in a terrorist attack. This point stands at the heart of everything that has happened in American society and intellectual life during the last decade.

And that point is this: America was attacked once again on that September 11, attacked by al Qaeda in an attempt to destroy the United States—as ridiculous as that goal might seem. Yet the U.S. government blamed the attack on America itself.

Other reasons can be adduced for the official position that what happened that day was due to a video insulting Islam rather than to a terrorist attack, but this is the factor of overwhelming importance. It transformed the situation in the following ways:

–Muslims were the victims of American misbehavior, a point emerging from the administration’s wider worldview of U.S. aggression and Third World suffering, as in the lectures of all those left-wing anti-American academics and the sermons of Jeremiah Wright.

–“Hate speech” and racism (as “Islamophobia” is often reconfigured) was the cause of troubles, with the implication that while freedom of speech and such liberties should be defended they must be limited in some ways to prevent further trouble.

–America’s proper posture should be one of apology, as in the advertisements that Secretary of State Hilary Clinton made for the Pakistani and other media.

–The “misblaming,” to coin a word, on the video showed terrorist groups that not only can they attack Americans but they can do so without fear of punishment or even of blame! As the House of Representatives’ hearings show, the misattribution of responsibility also delayed the FBI’s investigation, perhaps conclusively so.

–The exercise of American power has been the cause of America’s problems and not an excess of appeasement. The chickens—in Wright’s phrase—are merely coming home to roost. Yet once the video—which nobody in the Middle East was aware of—appeared there were in fact further anti-American riots in different countries, now over the video which Clinton and others made known, and in which dozens of people died. This showed that appeasement and apology caused worse problems.

–The solution to these Middle East conflicts required a change in U.S. policies in order to avoid further offense. This meant distancing from Israel and even historic Arab allies, showing respect and encouragement even for “moderate” Islamist movements, and other measures.

In short, this is the stance of blaming America and exonerating its enemies that has seized hold of the national consciousness.

Of course, parallel responses met the Boston bombing as the mass media and academics scrambled to give alternative explanations to the terrorists’ motives.

The truth is, however, extremely simple: The United States faces a revolutionary Islamist movement that will neither go away nor moderate itself. To understand this movement and its ideology, how it is and is not rooted in Islam, its weaknesses and divisions, the forces willing to help combat it, and ways to devise strategies to battle it is the prime international need for the moment.

It is as necessary to do these things for revolutionary Islamism today as it was to do the same things regarding Nazism in the 1930s and 1940s; and for Communism in the 1940s and 1950s.

Yet the U.S. armed forces and other institutions are forbidden from holding this inquiry.

There are, of course, additional issues raised, though many of them also have far deeper significance:

–The failure of the Obama Administration to defend and rescue Americans in Benghazi is equivalent to its failures to defend American interests around the world.

–The fear of using American power in Libya that day parallels the overall retreat from the traditional bipartisan policies of credibility, deterrence, and all the other things in a great power’s lexicon.

–The standpoint that it is better to let Americans die than to risk offending certain groups. That might seem harsh but when it was decided not to send a rescue mission that was precisely what was happening.

–A lack of competence by a president who didn’t know his duty and by high-ranking subordinates who would not remind him of that duty.

One Strike and You’re Out?

Monday, April 29th, 2013

The news over the last few weeks of the sockpuppet scandal of Rabbi Michael Broyde is disturbing, but not for the reasons you might imagine. On the face of it, this is the story of a Rabbi regarded as brilliant and erudite, both in Jewish and secular law, who destroyed his career by using an alias to engage in online Rabbinical conferences and discussions. Furthermore, his denial of the alias sealed his fate. He was forced to resign from the Beth Din of America, where he was one of its most prominent judges, and his name has become sullied.

I do not know Rabbi Broyde and cannot recall if we ever formally met. But I do know this. The growing American and Jewish culture of “one-strike-and-your-out” is tragic and disturbing.

Say a Rabbi like Broyde makes a terrible mistake. He assumes an invented identity on the internet and even uses it – so it is alleged – to promote his candidacy as potential Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom. Does that mean he has nothing left to contribute? That because we discover he can be deceitful that it negates any good thing he may have done? Does he really now have nothing more to teach us? And should this be the end of an otherwise distinguished career?

Whatever happened to the idea of repentance, predicated as it is on the larger idea that a man is not merely the sum total of his most recent actions. That there is something that lies beneath his mistakes, a plane of innocence, into which he can tap in and resume his course on the path of righteousness.

By all accounts Broyde was a pathfinder in areas of Jewish law. By all means, let him be censured and punished for his error. Rabbis must act with ethical excellence. Let us also encourage him to go for counseling so that he can heal from his mistakes. But then let us allow him, should his repentance be complete, to resume his communal offerings and be restored to a position of significance.

New York is right now speculating whether Anthony Weiner will run for Mayor. His poll numbers are growing stronger. That gives me hope. He had a sex scandal where he tweeted pictures of his crotch to women who were strangers. He then denied it and was caught. He paid a huge price, losing his congressional seat and faced public disgrace. I personally have never cared much for Weiner or his politics. I am a Republican and he is a partisan Democrat. But enough is enough. Stop punishing the man. He has suffered enough. Allow him to contribute, now, to the public good and stop reminding him always of his failures. I do not wish to live in a world where a man is only remembered only for his mistakes and never for his virtue.

I am a Jew and as such I am part of a religion that has no perfect Jesus figures. In Judaism no woman is divine and no man is the son of God. In the Hebrew Bible everyone is flawed and everyone makes mistakes. Moses, the greatest prophet that ever lived, was so imperfect that God denied him entry into the Holy Land, the only personal wish the lawgiver ever had. Yet we Jews do not remember him for his errors, but for the glorious deliverance he gave our people from Egypt and for the even more glorious Ten Commandments.

Three years ago I traveled with a Christian evangelical organization to Zimbabwe to distribute food and medicine. In Harare I met three young doctors who were volunteering. They spoke of the difficulties of treating AIDs patients in one of the poorest, most oppressive societies on earth. “But what about medicines?,” I asked them. “Do you have any antiretrovirals?” “Oh,” they said, “those we have in abundance, teeming from the shelves, thanks to the Clinton Global Initiative.” And yet some want to remember the former President just for Monica Lewinsky.

I for one never focused my ire on President Clinton for his sex scandal and saw it more as a sad and private matter. I was much more interested in his failure to stop the Rwandan Genocide and I am pleased to see that he is attempting to repent of that monumental failure with his focus on saving as many African lives as possible.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/america-rabbi-shmuley-boteach/one-strike-and-youre-out/2013/04/29/

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