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Posts Tagged ‘SEptember the 11th’

Libya: Not Just a Tragedy, but Another Endless War for America

Friday, September 14th, 2012

Visit Barry Rubin’s blog, Rubin Reports.

Yahoo highlighted two “amazing” stories shortly after the murder of five American diplomats in Libya and the attack on the U.S. embassy in Egypt that tell us a lot about the intersection between American reality and Middle East reality.

The first article insisted that American officials thought the terror attack on the U.S. embassy was planned (yeah, I don’t think the terrorists were passing by and just happened to have a rocket with them). The other asked tentatively whether maybe the “Arab Spring” hadn’t worked out so well. It’s almost the end of 2012 and these people are still in kindergarten!

Libya tells the story with a terrible irony but we should understand precisely what is going on and how the situation in Libya differs from that in Egypt. For it is proof of the bankruptcy of Obama policy but perhaps in a different way from what many people think.

So far the U.S. ambassador, four diplomats, and two U.S. soldiers trying to rescue the rest of the staff have been killed. According to a Libyan officer whose unit was helping the American rescue effort, the terrorists seemed to know precisely where the staffers were hiding. Might they have been tipped off by sources in the Libyan government or military? Probably, yes.

What happened in Libya has nothing to do with an obscure video from California, it has everything to do with the question of which side rules Libya. And the relationship of the attacks to the September 11 anniversary was meant to show that the Libyan terrorists supported September 11 and wanted to continue that battle.

In one sentence: the problem in Libya is that Obama got what he wanted and thus set off all the usual Western policy dilemmas—that he always denounced—which had existed in the region for a century. But Obama is not only ill-equipped to deal with these problems, he either cannot even recognize them or interprets them in ways disastrous for U.S. interests. For whatever reason you would like to attribute, he wants to make nice with people who want to destroy his country. That might have been a forgivable naivete in early 2009 but by this point it is clear that Obama will never change, and that four more years in office will not improve him and his administration by one millimeter.

Obama decided, although only after what we are told was a titanic inner struggle, to kill Usama bin Ladin because bin Ladin launched a direct attack on American soil. But he sees no need to battle those trying to take over the Middle East and crush its people (including women, Christians, homosexuals) and wipe Israel off the map. Nor does he see the need to wage effective struggle with governments that stand and deliberately do nothing while the American embassy is invaded or the American ambassador is murdered.

President Barack Obama and U.S. NATO allies got rid of a terrible dictatorship in Libya. Of course, there were dreadful murders and human rights’ abuses by the rebels—even racist murders of people because they had black skin, and were thus presumed to be supporters of the old dictator!–but Libya was too obscure a place and the mass media either didn’t care or wouldn’t hold Obama responsible for these things.

Then Obama had a second success in the election, where his client politician won over the Islamists. True, the new regime gives lip service to Sharia law but it is not a radical regime but precisely the kind of government, given the limiting conditions of Libyan society, that the West would want in Libya.

And now the problem begins. For the great “anti-imperialist” Obama has set up a classical “imperialist” situation. In Iran, for example, the Eisenhower Administration helped an existing, legitimate regime stay in power in 1953 and this supposedly led to Iranian radicalism and seizure of the U.S. embassy a quarter-century later. In Libya, the process may just take a few months.

The Islamists of various factions, ranging from the Muslim Brotherhood to al-Qaida supporters, loathe the new government and the fact that the United States is behind it. In other words, Obama has just done what he has been denouncing his whole life: he interfered in another country and “bullied” it into submission to America’s will. Now he has sent two American warships to Libya’s coasts. Obama’s friends call this “gunboat diplomacy.”

One special feature of this situation, of course, is that some of those he helped were anti-American terrorists, armed and trained by NATO. Some of these people have entered the new military, others are now trying a stage-two revolution to overthrow the regime and institute a real Islamist revolution.

Otherwise, though, it follows the usual pattern. The Islamist revolutionaries have not accepted the status quo and hope to seize state power and drive out the Americans.

Obama has fallen into precisely the trap he has denounced in all his books and speeches. True, America is not claiming Libya as its territory but Obama’s friends call this “neo-colonialism” and “post-colonialism.” He is now the patron of the Libyan government. If it is incompetent, corrupt, or oppresses the people, Obama shares responsibility.

Moreover, as it does all these things and refuses to implement serious Sharia law lots of Libyans will blame those arrogant, imperialist Americans. Why shouldn’t they want to kill the American diplomats who “supervise” the status quo and prevent them from turning Libya into Afghanistan under the Taliban; Iran; Gaza under Hamas; or, somewhat more mildly, Lebanon under a mainly Hizballah government, and maybe what will happen in Syria at some point in the future.

What are the Libyan government’s options? It can try to appease the opposition by more Islam. But that won’t work really. It can try to appease the opposition by distancing itself from the United States, but given its weakness that won’t work. And it can try to repress the rebels but since it cannot depend on its own military forces–which are riddled with jihadists–that won’t work either.

That is the real lesson in Libya. For once, Obama took sides against the revolutionary Islamists. We are seeing in Egypt and the Gaza Strip that appeasement doesn’t work; we are seeing in Libya that engaging in conflict has its high costs, too. Obama claims to have “liberated” Libya but to many Libyans he has enslaved it to infidels.

So what next? American military aid to the Libyan government and U.S. military advisors? An endless war against the jihadists? And what if the government in Libya, which is pretty fragile and cannot fully depend on its own military, starts to fall? In Somalia, the local al-Qaida branch didn’t win only because Ethiopia and other African nations sent in thousands of troops. In Bahrain—a complicated situation in which there is a mistreated Shia population whose opposition has both moderates and radicals—the government was only saved by Saudi troops and against the will of the White House.

Treating what has happened in Libya as an isolated tragedy misses the point. Viewing it as generalized proof of Obama’s terrible policy doesn’t get us to the solution. There is a battle going on in the Middle East that will continue for decades. Obama has largely helped the enemy side. In Libya while he gave some help to the Islamists, his basic policy supported the moderates for once. Now the price must be paid or one more country fall to revolutionary Islamist rule and U.S. influence and credibility decline even further.

This is a war, not a misunderstanding. It is a battle of ideologies and a struggle for control of state power, not hurt feelings over some obscure video.

PS: I have a lot of friends in the Foreign Service, now and retired, and I was very upset about the deaths of five American diplomats and two American soldiers in Libya. I know this person was a colleague, too. But my goodness, how horrifyingly revealing is this quote:

“They got the wrong guy,” said a friend of the slain Ambassador Christopher Stevens at the [notoriously anti-Israel, BR] U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, “If there was someone who cared about the Arab and Muslim world, it was Chris,” who had previously served there as chief of the political section. “He spoke Arabic, he was dedicated to the cause of the Arabs.”

Perhaps this diplomat should give al-Qaida a list of approved Americans they should be assassinating. In other words, what? It would have been better to have killed a Foreign Service officer more friendly to Israel? To have murdered some Republicans or Jews? I’m afraid that this is very frankly how these people think. And what is “the cause of the Arabs?” Which Arabs? To wipe Israel off the map? To have radical nationalist dictatorships? To have Sharia states? At least define your “Arabs” as the genuine moderates, genuine democrats, genuine liberals or even–since there aren’t so many of those people–those who feel their self-interests basically coincide with those of the United States.

I find this person’s statement even more shocking than the apology over the mysterious little you-tube film. And yes I have heard this before in private. OK, an anecdote. I’m sitting with about a dozen U.S. military officers doing a briefing a couple of years after September 11 and my co-briefer–a medium-high State Department official in the Middle East section–starts visibly panicking as he’s speaking. “Other issues might threaten you,” he tells them looking really scared, “but only the Israel issue can endanger your life.” I can only report that the looks of contempt on the face of the officers made me proud of the U.S. army.

Note: I don’t mean this as a criticism of all Foreign Service Officers. There are many good ones. But this reaction from a Jerusalem-based American diplomat to the death of Ambassador Stevens, plus four diplomats and now two U.S. soldiers rescuing the rest of the embassy staff is all too revealing. Perhaps he’s just too confused about what country’s capital he’s in.

Visit Barry Rubin’s blog, Rubin Reports.

Remembering and Forgetting on 9/11

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Eleven years after the tragedy, 9/11 events are happening across the United States today and in other places where the memories of that most dramatic of turning-points still resonate.

In Washington this afternoon, the president of the United States promised Americans in a speech from the Pentagon (“Obama says victims will never be forgotten as 9/11 remembrances begin“( that the September 11 victims would be remembered “no matter how many years pass“. The whole country shares their loss, he said.

This is never an easy day, but it is especially difficult for all of you, the families of nearly 3,000 innocents who lost their lives… But no matter how many years pass, no matter how many times we come together on this hallowed ground, know this: That you will never be alone, your loved ones will never be forgotten. They will endure in the hearts of our nation…

The breadth of his solemn undertaking lost some of its majesty, in our view, when Obama  added that

I’ve always said our fight is with al Qaeda and its affiliates, not with Islam or any other religion… This country was built as a beacon of freedom and tolerance.

The problem with that is that no one serious or sane is claiming America is, or ought to be, at war with Islam, whatever such a statement might mean.

But to assert that the threat comes from this amorphous thing called al Qaeda, and then to silence suggestions to the contrary with a reminder of America’s devotion to freedom, is to miss the point. Terrorism is a vast, growing threat today. It’s more than a threat; it steals the innocent lives of ordinary people’s children literally every day of the year. Plainly, the terrorists are not all Moslems. And Islam does not equate to terrorism. But to ignore the ties between myriads of exponents of Islam and of Islamism on one hand, and the proliferating network of lethal and hideously well-armed terrorist groups on every continent on the other hand, is simply foolish. Or dishonest.

Still, it’s good to hear one of the world’s most influential voices speaking about the enduring nature of a nation’s memory of its terror victims.

Here in Israel, we (the bloggers behind This Ongoing War) waged a campaign for years to require the city fathers in the most important, the most central, Jewish city in the world to remember Jerusalem’s victims of terror. Here is a shortened version of an essay Frimet published seven years ago. We hope you agree that it still makes some strikingly relevant points in 2012.

Keeping Murdered Israeli Children in Our Hearts Frimet Roth  FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, May 12, 2005

Not since the Holocaust have so many innocent Jewish children been murdered as in the last four and a half years. Not a handful or a few dozen, but hundreds of precious children, targeted by an enemy who saw in their murders nothing but an effective political tactic.

Once a year on Israel’s official Day of Remembrance, the Jewish people accord these children a moment or two of attention. At other times, it seems to me, little thought is given to them and to their deaths. The parents and siblings they left behind—left to grapple for eternity with the daily, grinding pain of loss—get even less.

Some would argue that this is natural and normal. Would I prefer for everyone to pause once every day to remember them? Perhaps that would be asking too much. But there are reasons to think more often of those children, holding no rocks in their hands, having no explosives strapped to their waists, harboring only kindness in their hearts.

This is a particularly appropriate time to do so with Palestinian and Western pressure mounting daily for Israel to release even more Palestinian prisoners.The advocates of prisoner releases like to equate the situation here with South Africa and Ireland. They too “had blown each other up for years” as we have, was the way Amit Leshem, of Jerusalem’s Van Leer Institute, put it. Once released those terrorists embarked on peaceful, productive paths, he wrote recently.

Then there are the expectations of the Palestinian people who demand that Abu Mazen deliver the goods—meaning that every last prisoner goes free, or else. Israel, it is maintained, must bolster Abu Mazen’s regime with a full release or else face the overthrow of Abu Mazen and an end to the current calm.

Towers of Twilight: Reflections on the Attacks of September 11th

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

In the first few years it seemed as if they were still there, stark lines rising into the sky, tall shadows falling on the streets, a missing space that your eyes filled in without even thinking. You walked past, and your eyes said, “Of course they’re there. They’re always there” and for a moment you saw them as they were, grey ghosts of steel rising above the rubble. You saw the city as it was and then you remembered that city is gone.

Manhattan, that far down, is a lonely place. It is not a human place, but a huddle of buildings where men and women commute to and from, its stores are there for office workers to shop at, its sidewalks go dark when the trains head out to New Jersey again turning it dangerously low rent. That is what made the pretense of a Ground Zero Mosque, in a neighborhood where you can hardly find enough Muslim residents to start a game of Buzkashi, so nakedly dishonest.

But the site has always attracted its share of exploiters. On a good day you can see South American and African vendors peddling commemorative patriotic knickknacks and on a bad day the Truthers show up howling their contempt for the site. Tourists stop by and pose for snapshots with their families. Office workers walk by without thinking. The site, like the towers, is just something that’s there. And lately even the vendors and Truthers hardly bother showing up anymore. Like so many others, they have already moved on to exploiting the next tragedy and the next outpouring of grief.

The neighborhood had grown less grim over time. The 99-cent stores and shops selling used clothing have given way to cafes and chain stores. The months during which the entire area was closed down, in part or in whole, took its toll on local businesses, but over time they bounced back. And so has the city.

Tonight and the night before as the towers of light cast blue beams across the sky, we remember but memory is a destructive medium. Each year the memories grow fainter. At lunch counters people ask each other where they were that day and exchange stories. But the stories grow fainter each year and the memories of walking across the Brooklyn Bridge or stumbling through the ash or handing out sandwiches to rescue workers have grown dimmer too.

This was the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. How many people are still moved by that date, how many less so than were in 1822 or 1862? The anniversaries that we hold on to are the ones that mean something to us. And what does September 11 mean to us? What did it mean to us eleven years ago and what does it mean to us now?

The fundamental narrative of war is, “We were attacked and we fought back.” It’s the same story for everyone regardless of how true it may be. But it is mostly true in this case. We were attacked and we tried to fight back. But we weren’t attacked on September 11. We were attacked long before then. That was just the date when one of the attacks got out undivided attention and the enemy elevated itself above a petty nuisance.

To walk through the darkness toward the towers of light is to pass through a city of shadows. In a stray glimmer of light reflecting from a storefront or a puddle you can still see the old MISSING posters and see khaki trucks tearing apart the street asphalt. You can still see glimpses of a city that was still reeling from the incomprehensibility of what had happened to it. It isn’t reeling anymore, instead the incomprehensibility has become routine.

New York City is used to tragedy. Terrible things happen here all the time. The oldest photos of the city show the same stunned faces, the legs lying in a puddle of blood, the gawking children and the police frowning at something we cannot see. And relentlessly the blood is washed away, the tears are dried and the city moves on. September 11 left behind more blood, more broken legs and more frowning police than ever before… but the ashes have still been dumped in a landfill, the tears dried and the city moved on.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/towers-of-twilight-reflections-on-the-attacks-of-september-11th/2012/09/11/

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