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November 21, 2014 / 28 Heshvan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Foreign Affairs’

Israel and Japan Celebrate 60 Years of Diplomatic Relations

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Israel and Japan celebrated 60 years of diplomatic relations on Tuesday, kicking off a series of special events commemorating the occasion.  On May 21, the Israeli embassy in Tokyo will stage a special gala concert marking the occasion, joining the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra with leading Israeli musicians.

In 2011, bilateral trade between the countries totaled $3.3 billion.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted the “Japanese contribution to stability in our region,” including Japanese military forces deployed with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan, Japanese financial support for the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) deployed in Sinai, and Japanese investment in a Peace Corridor agro-industrial park being developed near Jericho with the partnership of Jordan, and in coordination with Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

PM Netanyahu Talks Sanctions, Palestinians to Knesset Committee

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Speaking at a Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting in the Knesset, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said: “The sanctions employed thus far are ineffective, they have no impact on the nuclear program. We need tough sanctions against the central bank and oil industry. These things are not happening yet and that is why it has no effect on the nuclear program.”

Netanyahu also discussed the recent talks with the PA, expressing frustration that the Palestinians “will not budge a nanometer” in their demand that Israel halt construction in Judea and other preconditions for direct negotiations to commence.

Iran Rattles Saber At US in Strait of Hormuz

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

The Islamic Republic of Iran rattled its saber at the United States last week during an Iranian naval warfare exercise in the Persian Gulf. A United States aircraft carrier, named as the USS John C. Stennis by various news outlets, left the Gulf by way of the strategic Straight of Hormuz during the war games, a move which precipitated a military threat by the Iranian leadership.

“Iran will not repeat its warning … the enemy’s carrier has been moved to the Sea of Oman because of our drill. I recommend and emphasize to the American carrier not to return to the Persian Gulf….we are not in the habit of warning more than once,” stated Iranian military commander Ataollah Salehi in a statement.

The United States has indicated that it intends to continue patrolling international waters in the Gulf. American officials also trivialized Salehi’s statement, saying that such warnings only serve to emphasize the degree to which American sanctions targeting financial institutions that do business with Iran’s Central Bank have rattled the regime in Tehran.

”We are not seeking a confrontation, but we will make sure that the role we play in ensuring global freedom of navigation continues,” stated State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

The United States maintains a carrier strike group centered around the John C. Stennis in Bahrain, which is located in the Persian Gulf just off of the coast of Saudi Arabia.

Western politicians have been pushing for harder sanctions against Tehran of late, due to its continuing nuclear program, which many suspect is aimed at producing nuclear weapons. Iran, however, claims that its nuclear aspirations are peaceful and do not violate the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

While China and Russia would provide an economic lifeline to Iran should the West impose sanctions against the country’s petrochemical industry, Tehran has shown itself to be extremely worried. This anxiety has manifested itself in a recent threat to blockade the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation for any moves against Iran’s oil exports.

The Strait, which joins the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, is only 34 miles wide at its narrowest point and carries 35% of all seaborne oil shipments, which amounts to one fifth of all oil traded worldwide, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

While China has expressed its desire to continue buying oil from the Iranians, it has not refrained from using Iran’s growing economic isolation as a bargaining chip to obtain lower fuel prices.

According to media reports from within the country, citizens worried over American and European sanctions have made runs on banks and money changers to change their Iranian Rials into harder currencies, such as the Dollar. In response, Iran’s Central Bank moved swiftly to prop up the faltering currency, leading it to strengthen by 20% on Wednesday.

The current round of sanctions, which President Obama has indicated that he may soften to a degree, may hamper Iranian oil sales abroad, according to Reuters.

Iran recently put a proposal for a new round of multi-lateral negotiations regarding its nuclear program on the table, but added several caveats, including the easing of sanctions, a move interpreted by some western observers to indicate that the ruling regime is feeling pressured by western economic warfare.

The Iranian threats come on the heels of a massive national program aimed at self-sufficiency in the realm of weapons. Many new military offensive and defensive systems have been developed by Iranian engineers, seeking to reduce reliance on outside military technology.

New missiles, ships and aircraft have been coming off the native Persian assembly lines in a military buildup that has neighboring nations worried.

Media reports describing Saudi Arabia’s interest in medium-sized American warships began surfacing in early 2010, highlighting the fears of the Saudi Royal family, Persian Iran’s traditional rival.  This interest, UPI reported, is “a key element in Riyadh’s program known as Saudi Naval Expansion Program II, worth as much as $23 billion over 10 years, which saw the light of day after the 1990-91 Gulf War triggered by Iraq’s conquest of Kuwait.”

Any ships purchased from the United States by Saudi Arabia would most likely be intended for use in shallow waters such as those in the Persian Gulf.

Jonathan Rue, a senior research analyst at the Institute for the Study of War in Washington DC, wrote in Foreign Affairs that the Iranian navy now has the “operational reach to visit countries that do not share a border with Iran.”

This reach, Rue contended, allows for visits that “help foster good political relations” and “provide a foundation for military-to-military ties that can also yield operational benefits.”

This increased range could force American military strategists to place forces in bodies of water, such as the Red Sea, previously thought to be calm, in an effort to counter the Iranians’ expanding reach.

A Linkage Still Unrecognized: Palestinian Statehood and Jihadist Terror

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

In these pages, I have written occasionally about dangerous cartographies. Oddly, even now, the so-called road map to peace will not go away quietly. If implemented, President Barack Obama’s plan for a “Two-State Solution” in the Middle East will sorely degrade both U.S. and Israeli security. This is because the twisted roadmap to Palestinian statehood still misses a decidedly crucial understanding: Jihadist terror has little to do with territory or politics or military strategy or tactics. In essence, it is a ritualistic and longstanding expression of religious sacrifice.

My readers already know that Hamas, with its still-growing ties to al-Qaeda, would quickly dominate any Palestinian state. In keeping with its primary commitment to terror, this Islamic Resistance Movement would soon launch visibly expanded forms of “freedom fighting” and “national liberation.” Because such violence would express Shahada, or Death For Allah, there would be no room for any further negotiations over “Palestine.” To be sure, there would be absolutely no serious attention to Palestinian demilitarization, whatever Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama might have been expecting in pre-state diplomacy.

Fundamental links between sacrifice and political violence have a genuinely pertinent history. To begin, President Obama could look with real benefit to ancient Greece. There, Plutarch’s Sayings Of Spartan Mothers revealed the exemplary female parent as one who had reared her sons for civic sacrifice. This mother was always relieved to learn that her son had died “in a manner worthy of his self, his country and his ancestors.” Significantly, those Spartan sons who had failed to live up to this standard were very conspicuously reviled.

One woman, whose son had been the sole survivor of a military engagement, killed him with a tile. Culturally, it was the only correct punishment for his apparent cowardice. Later, the eighteenth-century Swiss (Genevan) philosopher, Jean Jacques Rousseau, citing Plutarch, described another citizen-mother’s tale: “A Spartan woman had five sons in the army and was awaiting news of the battle. A Helot (slave) arrives trembling; she asks him for the news. `Your five sons were killed.’ `Base slave, did I ask you that?’ The slave responds: `We won the victory.’ The mother runs to the temple and gives thanks to the gods.”

The roots of still-impending Jihadist terror from Palestine originate, in part, from cultures that embrace similarly primal views of sacrifice. In these cultures, the purpose of sacrifice always goes beyond civic necessity. Here, sacrificial practice becomes a genuinely sacred expression ofreligion. More precisely, such sacrifice always derives, ultimately, from a deeply hoped-for conquest of personal death, that is, for immortality.

There is no greater power in world politics than power over death. Considered carefully, this point is not really difficult to understand, as more or less compelling promises of immortality underlie great varieties of human religious belief. Strangely, however, this plainly core point is not truly understood in either Washington or Jerusalem.

The Jihadist terrorist claims to “love death,” but this claim is a boldfaced lie. Paradoxically, he (or she) kills himself/herself and innocent others only to ensure that he/she will not die, that he/she will live forever. The so-called “death” that he/she expects to suffer in “suicide” is anything but final. It is, instead, a merely momentary inconvenience on the unstoppable trajectory to glorious life everlasting.

Martyrdom operations have always been connected with Jihad. These planned spasms of violence are based upon a long-codified scripture. For example, unequivocal and celebratory invocations for such operations can be found in the Koran (9:111), and, even more explicitly, in the canonical hadith.

For the U.S. and Israel, the security implications of any enemy doctrinal fusion involving religion and violence warrant careful consideration. Convinced that Shahada violence against the U.S. or Israel will lead to martyrdom, the Hamas or al-Qaeda terrorist will never be deterred by ordinary threats of military reprisal or retaliation. It follows that our current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as calculated forms of counter-terrorism, are literally and incontestably beside the point.

Truth can sometimes emerge from paradox. It is the Jihadists’ terror of death that leads them quite “logically” to suicide. It is precisely because any short-term “dying” in the act of killing infidels and apostates is presumed to buy their freedom from the penalty of real death that these terrorists aim to conquer mortality by self-immolation.

In the end, America’s and Israel’s terrorist enemies have very distinctively different orientations to peace. This stark asymmetry puts us at a foreseeable and grievous disadvantage. While these enemies manifest their expectations for immortality, individual and collective, by the doctrinal slaughter of heathen, our own leaders remain unaware of these enemies’ systematic fusion of violence and the sacred.

We now face a steadily expanding mega-threat of unconventional war and unconventional terrorism. Faced with adversaries who are not only willing to die, but who paradoxically seek their own “deaths” in order to live, President Obama should promptly understand the inevitable limits of military remediation and homeland defense.

For our common Palestinian Jihadist enemies in West Bank (Judea/Samaria) and Gaza, killing Americans and Israelis offers them an optimal reprieve from personal death. In psychological terms, the death fear of the ego is lessened by the killing, the sacrifice, of the infidel. Generically, this idea is best captured by Ernest Becker’s famous paraphrase of Nobel laureate Elias Canetti: “Each organism raises its head over a field of corpses, smiles into the sun, and declares life good.”

Our Jihadist enemies do not intend to do evil. Rather, they commit to the killing of Americans and Israelis with an absolute purity of heart. Though mired in blood, their search for infidels is always tranquil and self-assured, born of the certain knowledge that the immutable goals of Holy War are never shameful, but always heroic.

To weaken and defeat Jihadist terrorists, the president must first acknowledge that any Palestinian state would be contrary to our national interest. For the sake of indispensable and interpenetrating American and Israeli security, it is now high time to replace the self-defeating cartography of a road map to nowhere with a more thoughtful and culturally-informed route to effective counter-terrorism. At its starting point, this promising path should direct followers toward a sober understanding of violence and the sacred.

LOUIS RENÉ BERES, Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press, was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971), and publishes widely on world politics, terrorism and international law. Born in Zurich, Switzerland on August 31, 1945, he is the author of some of the earliest major books on nuclear war and nuclear terrorism, and also of articles in Parameters: The Journal of the U.S. Army War College; Special Warfare; International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence; International Security (Harvard); The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists; World Politics (Princeton) and The Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs. Professor Beres’ columns have also appeared in The New York Times; Christian Science Monitor; Washington Times; Washington Post; Boston Globe; Chicago Tribune; Los Angeles Times; U.S. News & World Report; The Jerusalem Post and Ha’aretz (Israel).

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/louis-bene-beres/a-linkage-still-unrecognized-palestinian-statehood-and-jihadist-terror-2/2010/07/21/

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