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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘lebannon’

Israel’s Red Line in Syria

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

The picture is not clear yet about what happened, and has been happening, up north today, but there’s plenty of speculation around. There were reports of Israel having carried out some attacks on something on the ground near Syria’s Lebanese border. When one of the parties makes an official statement, we may have a basis for being better informed. So far there is mainly silence from everyone except the news reporting media.

There’s a background: Israeli officials have been warning for months, using language that has been growing clearer and more explicit, that any transfer of Syria’s advanced weapons, chemical and biological weapons in particular, to terrorist organizations will just not be tolerated. Syria’s government is falling apart in front of the world’s cameras, but still possesses the largest arsenal of ‘non-conventional’ weapons on the globe. The air strike this morning may indicate (according to this source) that the Assad regime is testing Israel’s resolve on its red line.

Much earlier in the day today (Wednesday) in Jerusalem, a well-informed Israeli official, Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Amnon Sofrin addressed journalists about where Israel’s red line is drawn. Sofrin established – and between 2000 and 2003 led – the IDF’s combat intelligence corps. Few media experts will have his authority in interpreting what’s on the mind of Israeli security officials.

For Israel, according to Sofrin, the red line is crossed with the transfer of any of Syrian non-conventional weapons to Hezbollah. Non-conventional weapons? There’s Sarin, an extremely potent nerve gas; that’s the one that worries him less. The other is VX. Wikipedia calls it “an extremely toxic substance that has no known uses except in chemical warfare as a nerve agent. As a chemical weapon, it is classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations in UN Resolution 687. The production and stockpiling of VX was outlawed by the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993“. For a sense of their devastating effects, take a look a recent piece in, of all places, New Yorker: “The Case of Agent 15: Did Syria Use a Nerve Agent?

Assad, who controls “hundreds of warheads”, might decide that his regime’s days are running out and think, as Sofrin put it: “If I go down and I leave my chair, at least one of the heritage I will leave will be that Hezbollah will have capability to hit Israel very bad. Is it something that you can rule out, I can’t.

According to Sofrin, an Israeli failure to prevent such a Syrian transfer to Hezbollah would leave Israel in the very difficult position of having to

build up a new equation of deterrence against Hezbollah and to make it clear to Hezbollah that if you are going to make any attempt to even think about using it, the price will be very, very high and very painful.”

Israel remains conscious of the burdens it carries. The Australian newspaper quotes Sofrin saying this morning that

Israel was unlikely to carry out air strikes on chemical weapons stocks because of the environmental risks. “When you go and attack a… chemical weapons depot, you’re going to do unwarranted damage, because every part will leak out and can cause damage to many residents… But if you know of a convoy leading these kind of (chemical) weapon systems from Syria to Lebanon, you can send a unit to the proper place and try to halt it” on the ground.

Those comments were made, as we noted above, before today’s reports of an air attack by the IDF emerged. But they came after a series of reports like one from the New York Times ["Hints of Syrian Chemical Push Set Off Global Effort to Stop It"] three weeks ago which spoke of Syrian troops appearing to be mixing chemicals – probably Sarin - at two storage sites and filling dozens of 500-pounds bombs that could be loaded on airplanes and be “airborne in less than two hours.

Visit This Ongoing War.

Noxious Nominations: The Four Horsemen of the American Foreign Policy Apocalypse

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

I did a lot of soul-searching before writing yesterday’s article, “After the Fall: What Do You Do When You Conclude America is (Temporarily or Permanently) Kaput?” Of course, I believed every word of it and have done so for a while. But would it depress readers too much? Would it just be too grim?

Maybe U.S. policy will just muddle through the next four years and beyond without any disasters. Perhaps the world will be spared big crises. Possibly the fact that there isn’t some single big superpower enemy seeking world domination will keep things contained.

Perhaps that is true. Yet within hours after its publication I concluded that I hadn’t been too pessimistic. The cause of that reaction is the breaking story that not only will Senator John Kerry be the new secretary of state; that not only will the equally reprehensible former Senator Chuck Hagel be secretary of defense, but that John Brennan, the president’s counterterrorism advisor, will become CIA chief.

About two years ago I joked that if Kerry would become secretary of state it was time to think about heading for that fallout shelter in New Zealand. This trio in power—which along with Obama himself could be called the four horseman of the Apocalypse for U.S. foreign policy—might require an inter-stellar journey.

Let me stress that this is not really about Israel. At the end of Obama’s second term, U.S.-Israel relations will probably be roughly where they are now. Palestinian strategy–both by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas–has left the United States no diplomatic or “peace process” option on that front. The problem is one of U.S. interests, especially the American position in the Middle East but also in other parts of the world.

You can read elsewhere details about these three guys. Here I will merely summarize the two basic problems:

–Their ideas and views are horrible. This is especially so on Middle Eastern issues but how good are they on anything else? True, they are all hostile to Israel but this isn’t the first time people who think that way held high office. Far worse is that they are pro-Islamist as well as being dim-witted about U.S. interests in a way no foreign policy team has been in the century since America walked onto the world stage.

Brennan is no less than the father of the pro-Islamist policy. What Obama is saying is this: My policy of backing Islamists has worked so well, including in Egypt, that we need to do even more! All those analogies to 1930s’ appeasement are an understatement. Nobody in the British leadership said, “I have a great idea. Let’s help fascist regimes take power and then they’ll be our friends and become more moderate! That’s the equivalent of what Brennan does.

–They are all stupid people. Some friends said I shouldn’t write this because it is a subjective judgment and sounds mean-spirited. But honest, it’s true. Nobody would ever say that their predecessors—Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates, and David Petraeus—were not intelligent and accomplished. But these guys are simply not in that category. Smart people can make bad judgments; regular people with common sense often make bad judgments less often. But stupid, arrogant people with terrible ideas are a disaster.

Brennan’s only life accomplishment has been to propose backing radical Islamists. As a reward he isn’t just being made head of intelligence for the Middle East but for the whole world! Has Brennan any proven administrative skill? Any knowledge of other parts of the world? No. All he has is a proximity to Obama and a very bad policy concept. What’s especially ironic here is that by now the Islamist policy has clearly failed and a lot of people are having second thoughts.

With Brennan running the CIA, though, do you think there will be critical intelligence evaluations of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizballah, or even Hamas? Is the CIA going to warn U.S. leaders about the repression against women, Christians, and moderates? Will there be warnings that Islamists are taking over Syria or reports on Islamist involvement in killing Americans in Benghazi? Can we have confidence about U.S. policy toward Iran?

To get some insight into his thinking, consider the incident in which a left-wing reporter, forgetting there were people listening, reminded Brennan that in an earlier private conversation he admitted favoring engagement not only with the Lebanese terrorist group Hizballah but also the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. Ask yourself this question: when an American intelligence chief told Congress that the Muslim Brotherhood was a moderate, secular group who approved that line of argument?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/noxious-nominations-the-four-horsemen-of-the-american-foreign-policy-apocalypse/2013/01/09/

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