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November 21, 2014 / 28 Heshvan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Optimistic Conservative’

Israel, Hamas, PA Encounter the Paradigm Shift

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Not all the news was good today, but some of it was heartening.  In response to days of rocket attacks by Hamas on Israel, and targeted attacks – with anti-tank missiles – on Israeli infantry patrols near the fence between Israel and, the IDF launched an operation on Wednesday 14 November to eliminate terrorists in Gaza and destroy weapons caches.  One of Operation Pillar of Defense’s first achievements was taking out multifarious Hamas terrorist Ahmed Jabari.

Here’s the video of the pinpoint strike on Jabari – who, it is to be remembered, is responsible for attacks over the last two decades in which dozens of Israelis were killed.  Jabari organized Hamas for the Second Intifada and for the Hamas coup in Gaza in 2007, as well as overseeing the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.  Jabari and at least three other Hamas terrorists have been killed in Pillar of Defense, which is also targeting rocket launch sites in Gaza and weapons storage facilities.

According to the IDF blog, as of the time of this writing, Iron Dome has been used to intercept 25 rockets since the operation in Gaza began.  This indicates that the rocket barrage has been extensive.  Iron Dome isn’t used to intercept rockets that will fall harmlessly in unpopulated areas, nor can it intercept shorter-range rockets with a low-altitude trajectory.   Its intercepts typically represent a small percentage of the total rockets launched.

IDF image: Hamas rocket launch site in Zeitoun, Gaza Moreover, it was reportedly confirmed that four rockets were launched into southern Israel from the Sinai Peninsula (Egyptian territory).  These rockets were probably launched by Hamas operatives, but may have been launched by other jihadis in the Sinai.

It’s too early to predict how extensive this will become, but it can be said that in the first day of Pillar of Defense, Hamas (and possibly another terrorist group) has kept firing.

Mohammed Morsi recalled his ambassador to Israel over the new military operation, and summoned Israel’s ambassador in Egypt for a dressing down.  I don’t think Morsi is prepared right now to exploit an unstable situation in Gaza and the Sinai – and in any case, he’s not interested in bolstering Hamas’s political fortunes, because he’s got his own vision for Jerusalem and the land of Israel.

A little-noted event this week tended to confirm that.  Foreign ministers from the Arab League and the European Union, meeting in Cairo this week,failed on Tuesday to offer endorsement for the Palestinian Authority’s unilateral statehood bid in the UN, which Mahmoud Abbas plans to take up on 29 November.  The foreign ministers agreed that a two-state solution needs to be negotiated, but fell short of endorsing the unilateral statehood bid.

For the Arab ministers, the reluctance to endorse a bid their nations were keen on only a year ago is due to the paradigm shift in the wake of the Arab Spring, something I wrote about in August.  The “Palestinian narrative” is being sidelined, because of the new prospect of Islamized nations – e.g., Egypt – prosecuting a radical-Islamist vision involving Jerusalem.

The European ministers are a separate issue.  Some of them may have been eager to endorse the unilateral statehood bid, but the truth is that the paradigm shift has reduced its importance.  Europeans are worried about Syria, and a posture on Syria is what they agreed on in Cairo.  As long as Israel can defend herself and remain the enduring fact of her region, the most proximate concern for Europe is who gets hold of Syria.  EU bureaucrats may see Syria through a silly ideological lens, but most of the foreign ministries are undeceived about the quality of much of the Syrian opposition.  The point of working with it is pragmatic: to gain leverage by supporting it, and possibly be a moderating influence. Several of the Arab nations – Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq – want the same thing the Europeans do.

There is a post-American air to the whole series of events in the last two days.  There is no noticeable expectation that American influence will be an active factor in the unfolding of this crisis.  The US State Department posted an interesting statement on the events in Gaza, condemning Hamas but referencing no US policy stance.  It is gratifying, of course, to see State endorsing Israel’s right to self defense.  It’s not clear that the final two sentences, which form a lecture to Hamas, were worth saying.

Panetta Stonewalls House Committee Chairman McKeon on Benghazi

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

The news keeps getting worse.  The Washington Free Beacon reports today that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has  “blocked” four senior military officers from answering questions on the Benghazi attack posed by Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC).

McKeon asked the officers to provide answers to questions about security threats by the close of business Friday…

McKeon asked each of the four officers in separate letters whether prior to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi anyone under their command had notified the State Department or other agencies about growing dangers in Libya.

He also wants to know if there were any requests to increase security in Libya for U.S. personnel. … [T]he letters to the four officers asked whether any military officers under their command had recommended “deployment of additional U.S. military forces to Libya due to the threat environment.

Other questions focused on determining if the officers were aware that officers under their command recommended increasing security in Libya prior to the deadly attack.

To your knowledge, has the Department of State or any other federal agency requested additional U.S. military forces to augment security for U.S. personnel in Libya?” McKeon asked.

Said a HASC aide:

It is nearly unprecedented that the office of the secretary of defense would prohibit a member of the uniformed military from answering direct questions posed by the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Indeed.  But what, if anything, about the Benghazi incident does have a precedent – outside of the other actions of the Obama administration, such as Fast & Furious?  We have reached the point at which the cynical behavior of this administration can’t be reinterpreted or spun.  There is no honest purpose for refusing to answer these questions from the House.  If the Obama executive is running an actual investigation, we’re at day 39 now after the 9/11/12 attack, and it’s past time to have answers.  There is no excuse for the administration’s behavior.

Why would Panetta and the White House use the stonewalling tactic with the House?  Presumably because the Democrat-held Senate has given them until after the election to answer its questions.  The calculating character of this reprieve from the Senate is obvious.

Many readers probably saw Bret Baier’s Fox News special Friday night on the Benghazi attack and its aftermath (video linked here).  For those who missed Lt. Col. Andrew Wood in the recent Congressional hearing – Wood, deployed through the National Guard, led a special security team for the US missions in Libya, until the team was withdrawn earlier this year by a State Department functionary (video of his testimony here) – Baier’s interview with him brings out clearly that State decided to cut the already-inadequate security force in Libya.  Wood advocated keeping his team in place, but State decided against it – even though the Defense Department was actually paying for it.

So McKeon’s questions to the Department of Defense are right on point, and the American people are owed the answers.  There is a certain pragmatism at work on both sides of the aisle right now; Democrats want to get through the election, and Republicans are likely to take a more perfunctory approach to the Benghazi issue if Mitt Romney wins on the 6th.  The public appetite for details – at least, any details we still don’t know this point – will probably wane once the people know the Obama administration is on the way out.

The gingerly treatment of the Obama administration by the MSM on this matter is a timely reminder that the MSM are not peopled with objective journalists.  If a Republican administration were backing and filling after the Benghazi fiasco, it would find no rest anywhere.  The attacks on it would be relentless.  We may say, “And rightly so!” – but the MSM seem incapable of calibration here: either they are in a frenetic feeding frenzy, hammering their own narratives as they “cover” the activities of a Republican administration, or they are declining to cover stories that obviously matter about a Democratic administration.  Too seldom anymore do we see from them the middle ground of sober, fair-minded, carefully assembled reporting.

But the most important take-away from the Benghazi fiasco is the nakedly cynical, self-serving behavior of the Obama administration.  Four Americans were killed, in a terrorist attack on a facility that should have been protected better, but – because of decisions made by Obama’s appointees – was not.  Instead of manning up to what happened and providing the answers that are owed to the people, the administration first built a specious narrative about why the attack was launched, as if that was what mattered, and then spent weeks claiming that it was too early to answer questions on almost any aspect of the topic.

Now the administration has directed senior military officers not to answer questions from Congress.  There is no conceivable reason for this, other than to stymie progress on the House’s inquiry.

Originally published at the Optimistic Conservative.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/j-e-dyer/panetta-stonewalls-house-committee-chairman-mckeon-on-benghazi/2012/10/22/

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