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November 26, 2014 / 4 Kislev, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘national security’

Bibi and Obama Growing Apart on Iran while Rouhani Is All Smiles

Monday, October 21st, 2013

The Associated Press reported that Israel and the U.S. have been growing apart on the Iran nuclear threat, so much so that there appears to be a rift between them these days. Essentially, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to sound the alarm tirelessly and at a high pitch, while the West sees genuine Iranian compromises in the Geneva talks.

The different views are only growing more so, threatening to leave Israel in isolation, as the talks between six global powers and Iran appear to be gaining steam, the AP surmises. western negotiators were upbeat after last week’s talks, going into the next round of negotiations, Nov. 7.

If you wanted a Munich moment – this is it, with the Czech ambassador sitting nervously in the waiting room while the British and French prime ministers and the Axis brutes decided his country’s fate.

Most references to the Munich moment usually show PM Neville Chamberlain waving a piece of paper and announcing "peace in our time." But the really scary Munich moment took place hours earlier, when these dubious characters signed on to the deal. It was about the West's willingness to knowingly embrace the lies of the thugs it was dealing with, leaving Czechoslovakia to pick up the tab. From left to right, Chamberlain, French PM Daladier, Hitler, Mussolini and Italian Foreign Minister Count.

Most references to the Munich moment usually show PM Neville Chamberlain waving a piece of paper and announcing “peace in our time.” But the really scary Munich moment took place hours earlier, when these dubious characters signed on to the deal. It was about the West’s willingness to knowingly embrace the lies of the thugs it was dealing with, leaving Czechoslovakia to pick up the tab. From left to right, Chamberlain, French PM Daladier, Hitler, Mussolini and Italian Foreign Minister Count.

In fact, the louder Netanyahu cries out, the more shrill he is bound to sound in the face of the smiling Iranian president Hassan Rouhani.

“I think that in this situation as long as we do not see actions instead of words, the international pressure must continue to be applied and even increased,” Netanyahu told his Cabinet on Sunday. “The greater the pressure, the greater the chance that there will be a genuine dismantling of the Iranian military nuclear program.”

The statement may reflect more how out of touch Bibi is with the winds blowing in Washington DC right now, than a practical strategy. Over the weekend, U.S. officials said the White House was going to offer Iran a chance to recoup billions of dollars in frozen assets—sitting there since the 1979 Islamic revolution—if it scales back its nuclear program. The sanctions will stay in place for now, but Iran would suddenly receive a windfall.

In other words, Iran will receive between $50 and $75 billion, tax free, not for eliminating its nuclear weapons program, but for merely slowing it down.

This is vintage Rouhani, incidentally – the man was the architect of Iran’s winning strategy of fooling the world while flashing many winning smiles. One gets the feeling the Rouhanis wanted their boy to go into modeling for toothpaste ads, instead of running one of the three most evil regimes on the planet, but one thing led to another.

Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said it was “premature” to talk about easing sanctions, but he did not endorse Netanyahu’s tough line, saying the U.S. is planning a more “incremental” approach in response to concrete Iranian gestures.

It’s 2005 revisited, and Rouhani knows he’s already won this round. He managed to separate Netanyahu from his American benefactors, and isolate Israel which now looks like it’s frothing at the mouth while Iran is all pleasantries and pragmatism. All he has to do from this point on is keep talking, host a couple UN inspectors, mess with their inspections a little, nothing serious, make it impossible to get a real read of what goes on in those plants – but keep on smiling, denying, and never say anything hostile or aggressive against israel or the West.

Bibi cannot win this one, any more than Czechoslovakia could win the diplomatic war against Hitler. Few people know today that on paper the Czechs were superior militarily to the Germans. If they had decided to strike against the Germans, they could have altered world history. They didn’t need British or French protection, they were completely self sufficient in manufacturing their military arsenal. Indeed, it was his bloodless conquest of Czechoslovakia that turned Hitler unstoppable.

Recognizing the Wrong People

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt [FDR], reversing the policy of four presidents and six of their Secretaries of State not to recognize the Soviet government, in 1933 extended “normal diplomatic relations” to the Soviet Union, the totalitarian slaughterhouse of Josef Stalin. As meticulously researched by Diana West in her new book, “American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character,” the reasoning behind Roosevelt’s decision was never made clear; what was clear, however, since the 1917-1919 Bolshevik seizure of the Russian government by force, was the Soviet reign of blood and terror. According to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, author of The Gulag Archipelago, by the late 1930s, Stalin’s regime was shooting tens of thousands of people per month. Yet, for reasons that remain murky, FDR was influenced, inspired, or somehow persuaded to normalize U.S. relations with Stalin, in exchange for a page of Soviet concessions, not worth the paper they were written on, which pledged that the USSR “would not attempt to subvert or overthrow the U.S. system.”

What West documents is the subsequent process of infiltration, influence, and “occupation” by an army of communist agents and fellow travelers; here, however, the focus is on what that original 1933 decision has meant for future generations, most especially our own, when confronted with decisions about whether or not to recognize enemies who make no secret of their enmity and intention to destroy us.

Whatever FDR’s thinking, West points out that this decision — not just to recognize the blood-soaked communist regime, but to keep on recognizing it — fundamentally transformed what Robert Conquest, the great chronicler of Stalin’s purges, called “the conscience of the civilized world.” And perhaps not just our conscience: as West writes, “[b]ecause the Communist regime was so openly and ideologically dedicated to our destruction, the act of recognition defied reason and the demands of self-preservation.” In other words, quite aside from the abdication of objective morality represented by FDR’s decision, there was a surrender of “reality-based judgment,” the implications of which on the ability of U.S. national leadership to make sound decisions involving the fundamental defense of the Republic resonate to the current day.

Fast forward to late September 2010, when Mohammed Badi, the Egyptian Supreme Guide of the openly, avowedly jihadist Muslim Brotherhood [MB], literally declared war on the United States (and Israel and unfaithful Arab/Muslim rulers). Badi spoke plainly of “jihad,” “force,” and “a jihadi generation that pursues death just as the enemies pursue life.” There was no ambiguity in his message: it anticipated the “demise” of the U.S. in the face of Muslim “resistance.” Even as the Muslim Brotherhood, from the earliest years after its 1928 founding, has always been forthright about its Islamic supremacism and objectives of global conquest, a caliphate, and universal shariah [Islamic Law], Badi’s pronouncement was as clear and menacing as Usama bin Laden’s 1996 “Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places,” or his 1998 declaration of “Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders” – and garnered about as much understanding from the U.S. and Western political leadership of the time – which is to say, very little.

As explained, in fact, in a series of masterful online lectures for the Center for Security Policy [CSP] by Stephen Coughlin, a former Major in the U.S. Army and one of this country’s foremost scholars of Islamic Law, Badi’s October 2010 declaration of jihad against the U.S. followed in direct response to al-Qa’eda’s call to war as published in the inaugural issue, in July 2010, of its online Inspire magazine. This was the alignment of forces that shortly would plunge the Middle East and North Africa [MENA] region into chaos and revolution.

The third and final element to fall into place came in January 2011, in the form of a fatwa from Cairo’s al-Azhar University, the pre-eminent seat of Sunni learning in the Islamic world for over 1,000 years. That landmark declaration, issued at the IslamOnline.net website by Dr. Imad Mustafa, Professor of Fiqh and Its Origins, at the Universities of al-Azhar and Umm al-Qary, made clear that “offensive jihad is permissible in order to secure Islam’s border, to extend God’s religion to people in cases where the governments do not allow it…and to remove every religion but Islam from the Arabian peninsula…”

As Egypt Nears Civil War, Israel on High Alert

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Originally published at Gatestone Institute.

The dramatic escalation in Egypt’s domestic conflict between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military is being accompanied by an upsurge in the activities of jihadi organizations in the Sinai Peninsula.

Since Morsi’s ouster, extremist Salafi and jihadi organizations have launched waves of attacks on Egyptian security forces, and provoked this week’s extensive counter-terrorism operation by the Egyptian army.

These Al-Qaeda-affiliated forces are also seeking to strike Israel — both to satisfy their ideological demand for jihad against Israelis, and to try and force Israel and Egypt into a confrontation, thereby undermining the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.

The Israel Defense Forces are therefore on high alert in the event of further attacks by terrorists in Egypt, while also facing the dilemma of how to safeguard its own national security without infringing on Egyptian sovereignty at this most sensitive time.

Two unprecedented incidents on the southern border in just the last few days, however, served as markers for the rapidly changing situation.

First, according to international media reports, an Israeli drone struck an Al-Qaeda-affiliated organization in Sinai, as it was making final preparations to fire rockets at Israel.

While Israeli defense officials have not confirmed or denied the reports, if true, they represent the first preemptive counter-terrorism strike on Egyptian soil.

If Israeli intelligence receives word of an imminent attack taking shape in Sinai, with little time to coordinate a response with Egyptian military forces, such action might be expected.

Islamists across Egypt were quick to seize on the incident to accuse the Egyptian military of being complicit in an Israeli breach of Egyptian sovereignty.

Although this incident was quickly forgotten by Egyptians as both Egypt proper and Sinai descended into turmoil, there is evidence that further attacks by Sinai terrorists against both Egyptian security forces and Israel are being planned.

An additional signal of the deteriorating security situation in Sinai was the rocket fired by a terrorist organization at the Red Sea tourist resort city of Eilat over the weekend.

Anticipating the attack, the IDF stationed an Iron Dome anti-rocket battery in the city. The prior preparation paid off: the system fired an interceptor that successfully stopped the rocket from hitting the city.

The rocket failed to hurt anyone, but it did trigger an air-raid siren and frighten tourists, sending them scatting for cover. Unlike the cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon, which are used to Palestinian rocket terrorism, Eilat, a resort town, is not used to living under rocket fire.

Today, a shadow of uncertainty hangs over the future of the city’s tourist industry. For now, Israeli visitors to the city are displaying trademark resilience, and are continuing to pack the city’s hotels and beaches.

Nearby, however, the IDF continues on high alert, watching every suspicious movement in the desert sands near the Egyptian border for signs of the next attack.

Saudi Nat’l First Questioned in Boston Bombing to Be Deported

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Steve Emerson broke the shocking news last night that the Saudi national, Abdul al-Harbi, who was first questioned in the Boston bombing, is going to be deported on “national security grounds.” He is from a very powerful Saudi family with many terrorist ties. Abdul al-Harbi is a devout Muslim from Medina.

I said that it takes longer than 15 hours to investigate all of Abdul al-Harbi’s relatives, friends, acquaintances, and business and school friends.

Perhaps a quick look at the Arabic sources should raise the eyebrows of every American relative to the extent of the problem at hand. Many from Al-Harbi’s clan are steeped in terrorism and are members of Al-Qaeda. Out of a list of 85 terrorists listed by the Saudi government shows several of Al-Harbi clan to have been active fighters in Al-Qaeda[.]

When I heard he was from a very powerful Saudi family, I worried about this kind of thing happening.

Secretary of State Kerry’s meeting with the Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal was abruptly closedto the press the day Abdul al-Harbi was being questioned. There is no doubt in my mind that this was discussed.

Today’s embarassing display of rolling incompetence and badly mangled leaks led to numerous cancellations of press conferences, mis-identified suspects, promises of imminent arrest, walking back the arrest announcement, and more. They said they would release a statement and then said they wouldn’t.

Very smelly.

Visit Atlas Shrugs.

Understanding Israel’s National-Security Policy

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Most of my Jewish Press columns deal with Israel’s most urgent national security problems, especially those that have, or have had, a real or prospective nuclear component. What I have never dealt with on these pages, however, are the important and corollary issues of how Israel actually makes its national security policy.

Now, auspiciously, Charles D. Freilich, a senior fellow at the Belfer Center at Harvard and a professor at Tel Aviv University, has written Zion’s Dilemmas: How Israel Makes National Security Policy (Cornell University Press), an authoritative and authentically magisterial answer to this vital question. There is much here for the reader to learn.

Let me start with the author’s conclusion, because, paradoxically, it represents an ideal place for me to begin. “The Lord is my shepherd,” quotes Freilich from the Book of Psalms, “and fortunate this is, for the decision-making process in Israel is deeply flawed.” Following 256 pages of meticulous and systematic investigation – an investigation that proceeds with all of the best architecture of modern social science, including appropriately careful delineations of “‘independent” and “dependent” variables – Freilich is intent to call all things by their correct names.

This is no narrowly partisan exegesis. This is no attempt to present a uniformly positive or contrived picture of Israel’s national security establishment. To the contrary, the author offers an entirely honest and open consideration that is often conspicuously less than visceral praise. To be sure, there is also a good deal of praise in Freilich’s book for the Israeli DMP, or decision-making process, but it is correctly based on a dispassionate and detached assessment.

What we learn is that needed changes in the DMP have simply not kept up with the growing complexities and synergies of Israel’s always-hostile external environment:

“Nearly sixty-five years after independence, the same basic political processes, which so successfully gave rise to the nation in its formative years, are still largely intact.”

Especially troubling to the author, the reader will discover, is that Israel’s DMP is more “chaotic” and “politicized” than in other countries, not by any means an intrinsically fatal disadvantage, but one, nonetheless, that has still managed to generate injurious “pathologies.”

Worth noting, at this point, is that Freilich has served as a senior analyst in the Israeli Ministry of Defense, and also as Israel’s deputy national security adviser. His assessments, therefore, are not simply an expression of outstanding academic scholarship, but the well-reasoned product of a distinguished and astute observer, one who has already had an important seat at the government table.

As a political scientist, I can admire the graceful way the author moves effortlessly between fashioning general theory and tendering elucidations of pertinent history. Combining the perceptual strengths of Isaiah Berlin’s “hedgehog” and “fox,” Freilich helps us see both one big decisional canvas and also many smaller, constituent elements.

Shaping a consciously nuanced model of national security decision-making in Israel, he applies it to assorted and carefully selected events of the past thirty years, ranging from Camp David I to the “disengagement” from Gaza in 2005 to the Second Lebanon War one year later.

The result is plainly disconcerting, as these seven cases reveal many critically lost opportunities, flagrantly unpardonable decisional errors, and an always highly politicized decisional context. While Freilich underscores the liabilities of Israel’s too-informal planning process, he also notes that this flawed process has allowed a relatively high degree of latitude or flexible response, as well as a gainfully self-serving sensitivity to pragmatic solutions.

Particularly helpful to the serious reader is the author’s continuous emphasis on “existential decision-making” as a critical component of Israel’s national security environment. Undoubtedly, this particular component is indispensable to understanding what drives the country’s DMP at its very core. In this connection, however, I would have liked to see greater attention paid to important details of Menachem Begin’s decision to attack Iraq’s nuclear reactor on June 7, 1981.

Of course, each reader will choose to assess the author’s selection of case studies differently according to his or her own personal hierarchy of concerns. But the connections between Operation Opera and the current threat of a nuclear Iran are unambiguously of the very highest urgency. Jurisprudentially, the attack on the Iraqi reactor was treated by Israel as a permissible expression of “anticipatory self-defense.” One may surmise that any future Israeli preemption against Iranian nuclear assets and infrastructures would have to be cast in very similar legal terms.

Iran’s Unhidden Plan For Genocide: Israel’s Decision (Third of Three Parts)

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Published in the print edition under the title, “Iran’s Unhidden Plan For Genocide: A Legal Assessment (Third of Three Parts).” Click here for part one and here for part two.

In the post-Holocaust and post-Nuremberg international system, the right of individual states to defend themselves against genocide is overriding, and thoroughly beyond legal question.

This right does not stem directly from the language of the Genocide Convention, which does not explicitly link genocide to aggressive war, but it can still be extrapolated from (1) the precise legal language of anticipatory self-defense, including an 1837 case known as The Caroline; and (2) all subsequent authoritative reaffirmations of law identifiable at Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice. The right of anticipatory self-defense to prevent genocide can also be deduced from certain basic principles of self-protection codified at the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, and, more generally, from the confluence of persistently anarchic international relations with now-obligatory norms of basic human rights.

Should Israeli decision-makers finally determine they do have a compelling right to act first against Iran to prevent genocidal aggression, any resultant Israeli resorts to preemptive force would still have to be consistent with the laws of war of international law, or the law of armed conflict. In detail, this would mean, for Israel, respecting the always indisputable primary belligerent requirements of “distinction” (avoiding injury to noncombatants), “proportionality,” and “military necessity.”

What about the future? What happens next concerning a steadily nuclearizing Iran? What about anticipatory self-defense in this particular case?

International custom is one of several proper sources of international law listed at Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice. Where it is understood as anticipatory self-defense, the customary right to preempt has its modern origins in an incident known in appropriate jurisprudence as The Caroline. During the unsuccessful rebellion of 1837 in Upper Canada against British rule, The Caroline had established that even a serious threat of armed attack may justify militarily defensive action.

In an exchange of diplomatic notes between the governments of the United States and Great Britain, then-U.S. Secretary of State Daniel Webster outlined a framework for self‑defense which did not require a prior attack. Here, military response to a threat was judged permissible, but only so long as the danger posed was “instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means and no moment of deliberation.”

Strategic circumstances and the consequences of strategic surprise have changed a great deal since The Caroline, thereby greatly (and sensibly) expanding legal grounds for anticipatory self-defense. Today, in an age of chemical/biological/nuclear weaponry, the time available to any vulnerable state under attack could be only a matter of minutes. From the special standpoint of Israel, soon to face an Iran armed with nuclear weapons, an appropriately hard-target resort to anticipatory self-defense could be both lawful and law-enforcing.

Before the start of the Atomic Age, any justification of anticipatory self-defense would have to have been limited to expected threats of aggression from other states, not genocide. Today, however, the conceivable fusion of nuclear weapons capacity with aggression could transform war into genocide. Although there are no true precedents of resorting to preemption as a law-enforcing means of preventing genocide or “conspiracy to commit genocide” by one state against another, the pertinent right to such pre-attack self-defense is rooted, inter alia, in The Caroline.

After all, if it was already legal, long before nuclear weapons, to strike preemptively in order to prevent entirely conventional aggressions, how much more permissible must it be to strike preemptively to defend against a potentially genocidal nuclear war?

Nonetheless, some legal scholars argue that the right of anticipatory self‑defense expressed by The Caroline has been overridden by the more limiting language of the United Nations Charter. In this view, Article 51 of the Charter offers a far more restrictive statement on self‑defense, one that relies on the strict qualification of a prior armed attack. This very narrowly technical interpretation ignores the larger antecedent point, that international law is never a suicide pact.

Sensibly, law can never compel a state to wait until it has absorbed a devastating or even genocidal first strike before acting to protect itself. Both the Security Council and the General Assembly correctly refused to condemn Israel for its 1967 preemptive attacks. Incorrectly, however, whether or not it had then accepted the existence of a formal state of war between Israel and Iraq – a condition of belligerency openly insisted on by Baghdad – the UN did condemn Israel for Operation Opera in 1981. Of course, this legally incorrect condemnation was the direct result of regionally recurrent circumstances, conditions wherein an exterminatory power politics or geopolitics trumps law.

Netanyahu: Excess Exposure on ‘Prisoner X’ Hurts National Security

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

Prime Minister Netanyahu on Sunday responded for the first time to the scandal that shook up Israel and Australia, over the suicide of former Mossad member Ben Zygier in an isolation cell in Israel, as Netanyahu’s own office was futilely attempting to block its publication.

Netanyahu emphasized the importance of security – even at the expense of freedom of expression. “Over-exposure of security and intelligence activities may seriously harm state security,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu chose to refer mainly to the public debate that surrounded the attempt to silence the story at first, and the sweeping gag order imposed on the entire affair.

“I would like to say that I completely trust the security forces of the State of Israel,” he said. “They are completely dedicated and committed to ensure that we can live in this country. I also trust absolutely the legal authorities in Israel.”

The Prime Minister said that “the security and intelligence forces of Israel operate under the full supervision of the legal authorities, which are completely independent. This combination of maintaining security and maintaining the law, also preserves the freedom of expression.”

He emphasized the special security conditions of the state of Israel, saying: “We are not like all the other countries. We an exemplary democracy and maintain the rights of detainees and human rights not less than any other country, but we are also more threatened and challenged, and so we must take care to maintain the proper operation of our security forces.”

He concluded: “And so I ask everyone, do let the security forces continue to work quietly, so that we can continue to live in security and peace in Israel.”

Meanwhile, Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said he was seeking answers from Israel over the 2010 death of “Prisoner X” in an Israeli jail, as part of its own probe into the case.

“We have asked the Israeli government for a contribution to that report,” Carr told reporters. “We want to give them an opportunity to submit to us an explanation of how this tragic death came about.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/netanyahu-excess-exposure-on-prisoner-x-hurts-national-security/2013/02/17/

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