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

The Art of “Gray-Hull Diplomacy”

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

I received a question last week from a correspondent:

I was wondering if you could suggest some manners in which the US could make the military option more credible against Iran.

To my request for clarification, the correspondent replied that this question was more about how to credibly intimidate Iran than about how to effectively interdict Iran’s nuclear program with military force.

It’s a very good question.  How should an American president use the military in an intimidating, persuasive manner, to induce Iran to give up her nuclear-weapons purpose?  Very little has been discussed on this topic in the forums of punditry; virtually all treatments focus on the feasibility or proper method of a military attack campaign.  Is there an “intimidation option,” short of a shooting war?  And if so, what would it look like?

The first principle in answering these questions is that intimidation is personal, not mechanical.  There is no force package that is more effectively intimidating than another, if the will to carry out one’s threats is not considered credible.  The short and non-flippant answer to my correspondent’s question is, “Get another president in the White House.”  Changing an opponent’s intentions through intimidation is entirely about credibility, and credibility comes from the threatener’s history and perceived character.

This is especially true as regards the United States.  We have three aircraft carrier strike groups in the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf right now, something no other nation can possibly do.  (We won’t have three a few weeks from now; two of the carriers are swapping out on station, and thereafter our two-carrier presence will be maintained.)  We have Air Force strike-fighters in the Gulf, about 15,000 US Army troops in Kuwait, and tens of thousands of soldiers in Afghanistan, along with air assets.  We have an amphibious group with a Marine battalion in the Gulf region as well.  In spite of our drawdown over the last 20 years, we retain forces in Europe and Turkey, as well as the still-large package of permanently-stationed forces we have in the Far East.

We have the conventional forces to be intimidating with.  The question about our credibility is not related to the believability of our military capacities.  It’s about the leadership and will behind them.

But from a methodological standpoint, leadership and will can produce different courses of action, and they are not all equally effective.  Presidents Bush and Obama have chosen not to use the US military to increase the pressure on Iran, and the “escalation” path adopted by the Perm-5 + 1 has been selected for its extreme slowness and incremental nature.

It’s worth taking a moment to clarify the point that we aren’t using military power to increase pressure on Iran.  The US forces in Southwest Asia have been drawn down absolutely since 2008, and outside of Afghanistan, what we have kept or sent to the theater since then has been purely defensive.  Incremental defensive preparations, such as the introduction of additional minesweepers or anti-missile batteries around the Gulf, are not a means of intimidation.  They are not attack assets.  The current mix of US forces in the Gulf region indicates that we believe Israel and/or Iran might mount a military initiative.  It does not indicate that we intend to.  The US force posture around the Gulf is a defensive one, indicating our intention to have the option of reacting.

The UN and US sanctions on Iran have, meanwhile, been incremental and very slow-acting.  The issue for our purposes is not whether that is “good” or “bad,” but whether it is effective.  Objectively, the sanctions in place are not discouraging or usefully delaying Iran’s progress toward nuclear weapons.  Nations like China, India, and Germany continue to do robust business with Iran, not only supplying Iran with hard currency by buying her oil, but selling her technology and materials for her nuclear program.  In spite of the annoying impediments created by the international community, Iran continues to expand her uranium-enrichment operations and to deny IAEA access to suspect facilities.  The program of multilateral talks with Iran merely serves Iran’s purpose of dragging out the current situation, which is favorable for her objectives.

The mere presence of military forces is not automatically intimidating, nor is there an intimidation formula that prescribes levels or combinations of force.  What intimidation boils down to in this case is Iran’s perception of what we intend to do with our forces, on an operationally significant timeline.

Jihadi Tourism Hits Europe

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Increasing numbers of Muslims in Europe are travelling to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and other conflict zones to obtain training in terrorist methods.

Although intelligence agencies have been following the trend since the July 2005 bombings of the London commuter system, which were perpetrated by four home-grown Islamic terrorists, the scale of the problem has come into greater focus in recent weeks.

European security officials are especially concerned about reports that al-Qaeda is recruiting and training Western operatives who have “clean” criminal records and have the ability to travel freely and blend in with European and American cultures.

In Norway, for example, an ethnic Norwegian convert to militant Islam who has received terrorist training from al-Qaeda’s offshoot in Yemen, is awaiting orders to carry out an attack on the West, officials from three European security agencies said on June 25.

European officials have confirmed that the man is “operational,” meaning he has completed his training and is about to receive a target. Although the terrorist-in-waiting is believed to still be in Yemen, even if he is found he cannot be extradited: under Norwegian law it is not a crime to attend a terrorist training camp.

The London-based newspaper Sunday Times, quoting intelligence services, published a story on July 1 that said the Norwegian jihadist had been trained by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula [AQAP] to evade airport security and is plotting to hijack an American passenger plane and, in a suicide mission, crash it. The newspaper portrayed the plot as an attack on the upcoming London Olympics, to be held from July 27 to August 12, but said the target was specifically supposed to be an American aircraft.

The paper described the recruit as being a Norwegian citizen in his 30s, with no immigrant background, but who calls himself Abu Abdulrahman. The man, who converted to Islam in 2008, has apparently in recent months been undergoing training at AQAP bases in Yemen.

According to a detailed report in the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet, on July 5, the individual is a 33-year-old Norwegian who, in his youth, was associated with Oslo’s far-left Blitz movement. Despite his one-time radical credentials, he later worked as a babysitter at a daycare center in Oslo, the city where he was born and raised. He did not have a history of violence, the paper said.

Dagbladet went on to report that eventually he became a member of the Green Party; a source close to the suspect said that, after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, he had come to be viewed as an easily-influenced conspiracy theorist.

His ideological priorities shifted, according to the paper, after he married the daughter of a diplomat from an unspecified North African country. In 2008, he converted to Islam and underwent a change of lifestyle: he gave up alcohol and broke off almost all contact with his earlier friends. The newspaper stated that he recently became a father, and that his wife had travelled to her home country with their child.

Jonathan Evans, the head of MI5, Britain’s domestic security service, recently provided important context to the threat posed by would-be jihadists. In a rare public address on June 25, Evans said the Olympic Games in London “present an attractive target for our enemies and they will be at the center of the world’s attention in a month or so. No doubt some terrorist networks have thought about whether they could pull off an attack.”

“In back rooms and in cars and on the streets of this country there is no shortage of individuals talking about wanting to mount terrorist attacks here,” Evans continued. “It is essential that we maintain pressure on al-Qaeda.”

Evans also said that al-Qaeda militants are using the countries which toppled their leaders in the Arab Spring as bases to train radical Western youths for potential attacks on Britain: “This is the completion of a cycle. Al-Qaida first moved to Afghanistan in the 1990s due to pressure in their Arab countries of origin. They moved on to Pakistan after the fall of the Taliban. And now some are heading home to the Arab world again.”

“Today,” Evans added, “parts of the Arab world have once more become a permissive environment for al-Qaeda. A small number of British would-be jihadis are also making their way to Arab countries to seek training and opportunities for militant activity, as they do in Somalia and Yemen. Some will return to the UK and pose a threat here. This is a new and worrying development and could get worse.”

NJDC Removes Adelson Petition

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

The National Jewish Democratic Council, citing peace among Jewish groups, has taken down a petition calling on Republicans not to accept money from Sheldon Adelson.

“Regarding our recent campaign surrounding Sheldon Adelson, we don’t believe we engaged in character assassination; we stand by everything we said, which was sourced from current, credible news accounts. Accusations against Mr. Adelson were made not by us, but by others, including Senator John McCain (R-AZ). Nonetheless, we regret the concern that this campaign has caused. And in the interest of shalom bayit (peace in our home / community), we are going to take down our petition today. Moving forward, we’ll continue to work hard to fight against the unique threat posed by the outsized influence of certain individual megadonors, which rightly concerns most Americans and most American Jews.”

The petition based the call on allegations by a former employee suing Adelson for firing him that Adelson agreed to allow prostituion at his casinos in Macau, China; on the claim by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that Adelson, with the tens of millions of dollars he has infused into the Republican side of this year’s elections, was effectively introducing Chinese money into the campaign; and on federal investigations into allegations that Adelson has paid bribes in China.

A number of Jewish groups and figures, including the Jewish Federations of North America, the Anti-Defamation League, the Republican Jewish Coalition and Alan Dershowitz called the allegations unconscionable, noting that all had yet to be proven.

Adelson is a major giver to Jewish causes, especially the Birthright program bringing young people to Israel and Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, and has given to causes associated with or favored by those who defended him in this case.

“Accusations against Mr. Adelson were made not by us, but by others, including Senator John McCain (R-AZ),” Harris and Stanley said. “Nonetheless, we regret the concern that this campaign has caused. And in the interest of shalom bayit (peace in our home / community), we are going to take down our petition today. Moving forward, we’ll continue to work hard to fight against the unique threat posed by the outsized influence of certain individual megadonors, which rightly concerns most Americans and most American Jews.”

Reb Elimelech M’Lizhensk (Part X)

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

To the misnaged-opponent, chassidus was not perceived as a different strand of normative Judaism, nor as a movement to uplift downtrodden Jews – but as an existential threat to Judaism itself. And the threat was no longer viewed as a futuristic potentiality; it was a real and imminent danger, for the movement was no longer limited to just the commoner but had infiltrated the ranks of scholars.

Accordingly, the opponents and their leadership concluded that the time had no longer come to halt the proliferation of the aberrant chassidic movement – but to annihilate it. If there was anything they had learned from the Sabbetai Zvi and Jacob Frank debacles, it was how important it was to crush false prophets at the very first signs, before affording a chance to influence and spread.

Those that had decided upon issuing a cherem (excommunication) against chassidim meant they had decided upon war. Any other move would be too little and too late.

The first stage occurred in 1771 when letters circulated regarding the heresy of chassidus. By 1772 full-fledged excommunication was in the works under the direction of no less a spiritual giant than the Vilna Gaon. The result was that the chassidim were ostracized and excommunicated in Lithuania and Galicia, and a rift had been wedged into the Jewish community.

The war against the chassidim continued to rage after the death of the maggid on 19 Kislev, 1772. With the master’s passing the chassidim concluded that it was time to formulate a counterstrategy. Until then, the battle had remained isolated enough that a single leader was capable of guiding the situation. But this was no longer the case. The battlefront stretched from Sokolov to Vilna, from Slutzk to Pinsk, and from Brisk to Brodi.

The chassidic camp universally felt that there was a need for leaders that were richly endowed with energy and charisma, those who would know how to guard chassidic interests and even be prepared to engage in battle. The candidate who they felt best filled this description was Reb Elimelech, who was to assume the mantle of leadership in Galicia and Poland.

Reb Elimelech was the son of Reb Eliezer Lipman, a leaseholder in the township of Lapachi, near Tiktin. Tradition maintains that Eliezer Lipman was an individual wholly committed to the sake of G-d and His people, outstanding in his love for all Jews. For this reason, chassidic folklore attributes the “crown of charity” to Reb Eliezer Lipman who was known to work sedulously to redeem the imprisoned and repay the debts of poor tenants incarcerated by their rapacious landowners. Everything he did was performed with complete anonymity.

Eliezer Lipman’s wife, Mirish, was also a holy personality who devoted her days to good deeds. Every Erev Shabbos she would travel to Tiktin to dispense alms. One story relates how a group of poor people came to her home. Among them was a leper covered in boils. Everyone avoided this poor soul, but Mirish did not shy away from the opportunity. She exerted herself on his behalf and cared for his needs. Just before the group’s departure, the leper blessed her by saying, “May your children be like me.”

Mirish was frightened, indeed in no small measure revolted by the blessing. But before she could respond, the entire entourage of poor people disappeared. She then understood that she had been subjected to a Heavenly test to gauge her resolve and commitment. Accordingly, the blessing that she received was G-dly in nature and intended for her good.

Mirish was illiterate and did not even know how to read from a siddur. Yet Reb Zusha would testify that when his mother would recite the blessings (which she obviously knew by heart) the Shechinah would hover there. (Obviously only an angel such as Reb Zusha could make such an assertion.)

This pious couple, who lived initially in destitution, were pained that their children were not learned in Torah. As they agonized over their plight, the Baal Shem Tov came to their town. This unknown itinerant would gather crowds of simple folk and regale them about the value of holy and pure prayer and the value of donating to places of worship. The couple was mesmerized by what this man had to say.

Peres: Settlements a threat to Israel

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Israeli President Shimon Peres called Judea and Samaria settlements a threat to Israel.

The remarks were made on Tuesday at the annual ceremony in memory of Zionism founder Theodor Herzl, and addressed a report released Sunday that said “Israel does not meet the criteria of ‘military occupation’ as defined under international law” in the West Bank, and that therefore settlements and West Bank outposts are legal.

“It is doubtful that a Jewish state without a Jewish majority can remain Jewish,” Peres said, inferring that settlements would lead to the inextricable inclusion of the Palestinians living on the West Bank.

The Obama administration criticized the findings of the Levy Committee report.

“We do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity and we oppose any effort to legalize settlement outposts,” State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters Monday evening in answer to a question about the Levy Committee report. Ventrell added that the State Department is “concerned about it, obviously.”

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns could bring up the report during meetings this week in Israel. Burns will be there with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit to the region.

The Levy Committee, which was formed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and headed by former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, called in its 89-page report for the legalization of all outposts and allowing people who built homes on Palestinian-owned land to pay compensation to the alleged owners, recommends changing the legal regulations concerning Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria in the areas of zoning, demolitions and building.

Leftist Jewish groups in the United States criticized the report.

Americans for Peace Now in a statement called on the government of Israel “to repudiate the findings of the commission it appointed to address the problem of illegal outposts in the West Bank.” APN added that Israel “would cause terrible damage to its international standing, to its relationship with the United States, and to prospects for peace with the Palestinians and the Arab world” if the government adopted the report.

J Street called on the Israelis “to reject the committee’s recommendations and to choose instead a path that leads to two states, thereby securing both Israel’s Jewish and democratic future.”

The findings of the committee are subject to the review and approval of Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.

Netanyahu established the committee in January after settler leaders called for a response to the 2005 Sasson Report on illegal outposts, which concluded that more than 100 West Bank settlements and outposts constructed from the 1990s and forward were illegal.

A Helping Hand

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

Soldiers from the Home Front Command Search and Rescue Unit practice saving civilians trapped under a collapsed building in Zikim, the Home Front Command’s training base.

The Israeli Home Front Command (Hebrew: Pikud Ha’Oref) is an IDF regional command, created in February 1992 following the Gulf War, in which civilian population centers faced significant enemy threat.

It is currently headed by General Eyal Eisenberg.

Letter from Imprisoned Turkish Journalist Baris Pehlivan

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

My dear colleagues, I have been imprisoned for 17 months with the Odatv case, the clearest proof of the pressure on the freedoms of press and expression in Turkey. Hidden behind the prevarication of a “terror organization,” journalism itself is being tried. Indeed: in the 134-page indictment, the word “news” appears 361 times; the word “book,” 280 times; the words “column/editorial ” 53 times; the word “interview,” 26 times, and the word “article,” 5 times. These are the most common words used to accuse the detained journalists in the Odatv indictment.

Along with these, in the 134-page indictment, the words “Fethullah Gülen” and “Cemaat”[1] were used 111 times. These figures clarify the essence of the indictment. News reports, books, and articles have been presented as “criminal evidence.”

The foundation of the Odatv case is based on fraudulent digital documents proven to have been planted on our computers by hackers. Three Turkish universities (Yıldız Technical University, Middle East Technical University, and Bosphorus University) and one USA-based IT company have verified that these digital data did not belong to us and were uploaded by viruses. Nevertheless, my detention continues.

My dear colleagues,

In conclusion, due to my activities as a journalist, I am unfortunately deprived unlawfully of freedom in my own country. I have been sitting in prison for 17 months without any final verdict. Journalism is a universal profession. Wherever a journalist is arrested and thrown into prison for doing his or her job, all of the world’s journalists are under threat. Within this context, I hope the sensitivity you have shown against the trial of journalism in Turkey will continue until the end.

Thank you very much for your attention and support.

Sincerely,

Baris Pehlivan Odatv.com Editor in Chief

[1] “Cemaat’ is an Arabic word, used in Turkish, which translates to “community.” It is the word used to describe the followers and supporters of Fethullah Gülen, a very controvesial figure in Turkish society.

Originally published by Gatestone Institute  http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

Maj. Gen. Turgeman: IDF Combat Soldiers Will Get Miniature Iron Dome Devices

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Ground Forces Commander Maj. Gen. Shlomo (Sami) Turgeman,  speaking at the Air and Land Jointness in a Complex Environment conference in the town of Zichron Yaakov, near Haifa, this week, presented the IDF Ground Force’s future project to supply soldiers in the field with equipment capable of intercepting rockets, similar to the successful anti-rocket defense system, the Iron Dome.

“Our vision is to utilize soldiers in order to combat the threat of high-trajectory missiles,” Maj. Gen. Turgeman explained. “We can use our maneuvering power at the front for advanced interception of rockets, as a sort of small Iron Dome.”

He elaborated that the new system, which soldiers can carry with them, will enable rocket interception on enemy territory and will provide a quick method of accurately locating launch sites.

“In addition to preventing casualties among civilians and soldiers, the new system will provide information in real time on what the enemy is firing and from where. This way of locating rockets will let us close the fire circle in seconds.”

Maj. Gen. Turgeman also discussed a new organizational method establishing a firepower headquarters.

“In order to accommodate our growing fire capabilities to the crowded, urban battle environment, we must take the same weapons that so far have been concentrated at the division level, and move them to a firepower headquarters in each brigade,” he said. “The brigade firepower headquarters will know how to utilize the advanced capabilities that we have built over the course of decades, while harnessing comprehensive intelligence that will reach the fire headquarters. This will be a very effective body – a shrunken and efficient command.”

The ground forces commander also discussed the threat of anti-tank fire, which he said posed “the challenge that most influences our maneuvering tactics.” In coping with this threat, he said, “the forward battle crews, which so far have been relatively visible on the battlefield, will receive new capabilities. We will greatly expand the intelligence power of the combat soldiers. In real time, they will receive information from all levels – visual intelligence, field intelligence, intelligence from wiretaps, and information assembled everyday. It will all reach the soldiers in the field.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/maj-gen-turgeman-idf-combat-soldiers-will-get-miniature-iron-dome-devices/2012/05/25/

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