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Posts Tagged ‘Tunisia’

Tunisian Opposition Leader Assassinated

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

The leader of the Tunisian opposition party and a fierce critic of the ruling Islamist regime was assassinated by armed killers shooting from a motorbike outside of his home in the capital of Tunis on Thursday.

Mohammed Brahmi, leader of the nationalist Movement of the People party, was the second opposition party leader to be assassinated this year. In February, Chokri Belaid was also shot outside his house in Tunis.

Eleven bullets were fired at Brahmi, whose party has been winning support because of popular unrest over the Ennahda party, which is accused of encouraging Islamist violence

The Art of Building Things

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Creativity is an individual act. The act of building something, whether with hammers, blueprints, words, boards or plans is individualistic. Collectives can build, but not creatively. A mass has no vision because it has no personality. It can follow rules but not dreams.

American exceptionalism emerged out of a society which empowered the creative talents of the individual, not through grants, regulations, instructional pamphlets, inspectors and guidelines, but through the simple virtue of leaving men alone to do their work.

Freedom is the greatest creative force because it liberates the individual to build and as freedom diminishes within a society so does its creativity. Progress in restricted areas dwindles to a trickle as collectives expend a thousand times the money and effort, and still fail to equal the achievements of individuals operating on shoestring budgets.

The Soviet Union fell because its Communist collectives were not able to equal the West in the military or the economic arena. The only technique that Communist states ever had was to create a heavily regulated top-down infrastructure and when a crisis occurred, a mass of people would be thrown at the problem.

The collective approach allowed the Soviet Union to construct massive infrastructure projects; building roads, power stations and housing. But these were flawed imitations of Western projects and were poorly designed and implemented. The same pattern repeated itself across the Communist sphere. The collective could inefficiently mobilize armies of workers to carry out a project, but the planning and design of the project was grandiose, derivative and poorly adapted to the task at hand. Communist projects were mechanically conceived, mechanically implemented and unfit in the way that any project purely designed by machines would be for human use.

The Soviet Union, China, North Korea and Vietnam all won their engagements with enemies in the same way; by throwing so many men at the problem that the enemy would become bogged down and eventually forced to retreat. Their military victories did not emerge from strategy or heroism, but the mechanical willingness to sacrifice numberless individuals for the goals of the collective.

The few bits of genuine scientific progress came from scientists like Pavlov and Sakharov who were open critics of Communism and the Soviet Union. They did not come out of the collective that collectively crippled Russian science and ensured the collapse of its efforts at military parity with the United States. Ultimately the collective destroyed its own rule.

The seduction of the collective as builder however is not limited to countries that flew the red flag.  When Obama and Warren proclaimed that there were no monads, that no man was an island, but that we were all part of one great economic collective to which we owed an eternal debt, they were following up on some very old ideas.

Obama’s interpretation of individual creativity occurring only within the context of state institutions is a natural outgrowth of a political philosophy that views those institutions as the essence of the country and the true foundation of its national greatness. This “Institutionalism” is the dominant liberal mindset which sees individualism as a chaos that must be ordered by the state.

Institutionalism says that individuals are not creative, only institutions are creative. Individuals who create are harnessing the creative energy of institutions. In the liberal institutionalist view, the state must create the conditions that make creative acts possible and those who fail to acknowledge their debt to the state are “free riders” who exploit the system without paying back to it.

21st century America is institutionalist, though it derives the greater part of its economic energy from individual creativity. The official philosophy emphasizes the virtues of committeedom; of agencies, corporations, governments and mass determinants which slowly move forward, consuming any form of progress and transforming it into mulch. The official debate is not over the virtues of this rank institutionalism, but over which forms of institutions are best and who should be running them.

To the east and the south, the core of the Muslim world has finally gotten around to adopting the democracy that their Western friends had insisted would be their salvation. And the essence of their experiment with democracy was to reaffirm a collective identity based on Islam. What the masses of individuals in Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey and Iraq, not to mention the Palestinian Authority, wanted was an Islamic state that would eliminate any individuality.

In the face of chaos, Muslims chose not liberal institutionalism but Islamic institutionalism.  What this means in practice, beyond women with covered faces and more bombs going off on buses, is that the state and its economic monopolies will be in the hands of the devout who will nobly take care of the needs of the people. The practical difference between Islamism and Socialism is that the former is more backward, more tyrannical and more violently disposed toward us. But these are distinctions in degree, not in essence. Both Islamists and Socialists institute tyrannies based on theorists from the last few centuries that recreate a more ancient feudalism in the name of an absolute call for justice.

Americans with Obama, like the Egyptians with Morsi, chose a collective leader who would inspire and take care of them. A leader who would make them feel united into one single group. The promise of transcendence lingered over Tahrir Square and the United States Capitol, a promise that individual differences and divisions would melt away leaving only a perfect collective that would be capable of doing anything it set its mind to.

Even if Obama had been genuinely well-intentioned, the project of collective creativity was doomed from the start. Institutions excel most at their own construction. In their early stages they can fund creative works, but with the passage of time they become incapable of meaningfully interacting with the outside world.

The longer an institution exists the more likely it is to develop its own groupthink, its collective mentality and culture that allows for internal consistency, but makes creative work impossible. Like the Soviet Union, these collectives can draw up grandiose plans that are inefficient, have no purpose and are implemented without regard to actual conditions on the ground.

These collectives can envision masses of wind farms, without taking into account what will happen when winter comes or whether there is enough wind to make the project worthwhile. They can pay foreign architects and foreign workers to create symbols of Islamic grandiosity, such as the Dubai Burj and Saudi Arabia’s Royal Mecca Clock Tower, and symbols of Socialist grandiosity such as North Korea’s Ryugyong Hotel or the USSR’s Palace of the Soviets; but these are not signs of creativity, only pyramids representing the entombing of creativity within a display of mindless power.

Creativity brings new things into the world, but new things are the bane of institutions which already have too many things to deal with and see such creativity as elementally disruptive. Institutionalism strives to repress creativity by forcing everyone into a collective plan, a mandate to follow the central program of the collective. And the only thing that the institutions of the collective are interested in creating are monuments to themselves.

An individual building things according to his own plan is disruptive. Even when following tested techniques and using standard tools to complete the same task that he has already done ten thousand times before, the individual can still find easier and better ways to do something. The individual can also find that a thing might be better done in an entirely different way or that there is no reason to do it at all.

This expression of creative energy is what tyrants like Obama or Morsi fear because it upsets their goal of using institutional power to maintain a completely ordered society. Institutionalist societies believe that bigger is better, that the individual is wrong and the rule book is right, and that a difference is a danger. They may talk up their commitment to progress, but what they truly do is accept a lack of progress in exchange for order and control. They would rather own everyone and everything than have a society that actually moves forward and creates things worth owning.

It is not the state that builds things, it is individuals who build the state. Once the state is built it begins by protecting individual creativity and ends by consuming it. Institutionalism does not unleash creativity, it suppresses it in the name of its own consensus.

Institutionalists like Obama do not believe in the individual, they believe that the individual is the root of all evil. They see him as an exploiter, a free rider, a breaker of commitments, a smasher of idols and a disruptor of their plans. They wrongly believe that the individual owes them something for the privilege of living under their rule and they are wrong in this. It is they who are indebted for their parasitism, for their free ride on his back, for the muzzle they have put in his mouth and the spurs they have planted in his side.

The art of building things is a simple art. It is the art of learning about the world as it is, of learning what one’s own hands and mind are capable of. And above all else it is the art of being free.

Originally published at Sultan Knish.

Why Expanded Government Spying Doesn’t Mean Better Security

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

What is most important to understand about the revelations of massive message interception by the U.S. government is this:

In counterterrorist terms, it is a farce.

There is a fallacy behind the current intelligence strategy of the United States, the collection of massive amounts of phone calls, emails, and even credit card expenditures, up to 3 billion phone calls a day alone, not to mention the government spying on the mass media. It is this:

The more quantity of intelligence, the better it is for preventing terrorism.

In the real, practical world this is—though it might seem counterintuitive—untrue. You don’t need–to put it in an exaggerated way–an atomic bomb against a flea. And isn’t it absurd that the United States can’t finish a simple border fence to keep out potential terrorists, can’t stop a would-be terrorist in the U.S. army who gives a power point presentation on why he is about to shoot people (Major Nadal Hassan), can’t follow up on Russian intelligence warnings about Chechen terrorist contacts (the Boston bombing), or a dozen similar incidents must now collect every telephone call in the country? A system in which a photo shop clerk has to stop an attack on Fort Dix by overcoming his fear of appearing “racist” to report a cell of terrorists or brave passengers must jump a would-be “underpants bomber” from Nigeria because his own father’s warning that he was a terrorist was insufficient?

And how about a country where terrorists and terrorist supporters visit the White House, hang out with the FBI, advise the U.S. government on counter-terrorist policy (even while, like CAIR) advising Muslims not to cooperate with law enforcement, and are admiringly quoted in the media yet a documented, detailed  revelation of this behavior in MERIA Journal by Patrick Poole, which should bring down the government, “Blind to Terror: The U.S. Government’s Disastrous Muslim Outreach Efforts and the Impact on U.S. Middle East Policy.” does not get covered by a single mass media outlet?
Imagine this scene:
 
“Sir, we have a telephone call about a potential terrorist attack!”
 
“Not now, Smithers, I’m giving a tour of our facility to some supporters of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.” 

Or how about the time when the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem had a (previously jailed) Hamas agent working in their motor pool with direct access to the vehicles and itineraries of all visiting US dignitaries and senior officials.
 
Instead of this kind of thing the two key tasks of counterterrorism are as follows:

First, it is not the quantity of material that counts but the need to locate and correctly understand the most vital material. This requires your security forces to understand the ideological, psychological, and organizational nature of the threat.

Second, it is necessary to be ready to act on this information not only in strategic but in political terms.

For example, suppose the U.S. ambassador to Libya warns that the American compound there may be attacked. No response. Then he tells the deputy chief of mission that he is under attack. No response. Then the U.S. military is not allowed to respond. Then the president goes to sleep without making a decision about doing anything because communications break down between the secretaries of defense and state and the president, who goes to sleep because he has a very important fund-raiser the next day. But don’t worry because three billion telephone calls by Americans are daily being intercepted and supposedly analyzed.

In other words, you have a massive counterterrorist project costing $1 trillion but when it comes down to it the thing repeatedly fails. In that case, to quote the former secretary of state, “”What difference does it  make?”

If one looks at the great intelligence failures of the past, these two points quickly become obvious. Take for example the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. U.S. naval intelligence had broken Japanese codes. They had the information needed to conclude the attack would take place. Yet a focus on the key to the problem was not achieved. The important messages were not read and interpreted; the strategic mindset of the leadership was not in place.

Or, in another situation, the plan of Nazi Germany to invade   the USSR in 1941 or of the time and place of the Allied invasion of Normandy beach in 1944 was not assessed properly, with devastating results. Of course, the techniques were more primitive then, but so were the means of concealment.

For instance, the Czech intelligence services, using railroad workers as informants, knew about a big build-up for a German offensive against the USSR. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin overrode the warnings. Soviet analysts predicting a Nazi invasion were punished. Nothing would have changed if more material was collected.

So what needs to be in place, again, is to focus on the highest priority material, to analyze correctly what is available, to have leaders accept it, and to act. If the U.S. government can’t even figure out what the Muslim Brotherhood is like or the dangers of supporting Islamists to take over Syria, or the fact that the Turkish regime is an American enemy, or can’t even teach military officers who the enemy is, what’s it going to do with scores of billions of telephone call traffic to overcome terrorism? It isn’t even using the intelligence material is already has!

If, however, the material is almost limitless, that actually weakens a focus on the most needed intelligence regarding the most likely terrorist threats. Imagine, for example, going through billions of telephone calls even with high-speed computers rather than, say, following up a tip from Russian intelligence on a young Chechen man in Boston who is in contact with terrorists or, for instance, the communications between a Yemeni al-Qaida leader and a U.S. army major who is assigned as a psychiatrist to Fort Hood.

That is why the old system of getting warrants, focusing on individual email addresses, or sites, or telephones makes sense, at least if it is only used properly. Then those people who are communicating with known terrorists can be traced further. There are no technological magic spells. If analysts are incompetent, blocked from understanding the relationship between Islam and terrorism, bound up by Political Correctness and fear of career costs, and leaders unwilling to take proper action, who cares how much data was collected?

At a time when American leaders and the social atmosphere are discouraging citizens from reporting potential terrorism (the photo store clerk; the flight school instructor back before September 11, the brave passengers who jumped a hijacker and then had to worry about lawsuits because they violated someone’s civil rights, the attempts to take away guns that wouldn’t stop terrorists), why is a giant facility in Utah going to do a better job?

Decision-makers and intelligence analysts only have so many hours in the day. There can only be so many meetings; only so many priorities. And the policymaking pyramid narrows rapidly toward the top. There is a point of diminishing returns for the size of an intelligence bureaucracy. Lower-priority tasks proliferate; too much paper is generated and meetings are held; the system clogs when it has too much data.

Note the parallelism between this broader terrorism policy and the current philosophy of airport security. In both cases, everyone is considered equally suspect. Profiling is minimized. Instead of focusing on the, let’s say one hundred of those who might be of special interest, a great deal of time, attention, and resources has been spent on ten million others. This has got to reduce effectiveness.

The increased costs of security, Obama has told us, amounts to a cost of $1 trillion. Of course, people would say that such money was well spent. Yet in security as in every other aspect of government, money can be spent well or badly, even counterproductively.

Al-Qaida is even saying openly that it is switching to a strategy of encouraging isolated attacks. Within 24 hours a British soldier is murdered on a street in London after he seeks and fails to obtain terrorist training in Somalia, and a French soldier is attacked. In Toulouse, France, a terrorist kills or cripples soldiers and Jewish schoolchildren. There are dozens of examples.

Vast amounts of money and resources, though, are being spent in preparing for an exact reply of September 11.
And remember that the number of terrorists caught by the TSA hovers around the zero level. The shoe, underpants, and Times Square bombers weren’t even caught by security at all and many other such cases can be listed. In addition to this, the U.S.-Mexico border is practically open.

The ultimate problem is that the number of terrorists is very low and the fact is that for anyone who isn’t insane their characteristics are pretty clear, that is they are about 99 percent revolutionary and violent Islamists.
Obama has now admitted three very important things.

First, the war on terrorism has not been won.

Second, the war on al-Qaida has not really been won, since its continued campaigning is undeniable and it has even grown in Syria, partly thanks to U.S. policy.

Third, the biggest threat on the American homeland is autonomous terrorists who have been inspired by al-Qaida but are not technically part of the nomination. (That allows Obama to claim to be winning the war on al-Qaida).
What he has not yet admitted is that the Muslim Brotherhood and other terrorist groups or sponsors are controlling Egypt, Tunisia, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Turkey, Sudan, Syria, and Iran, while terrorists run free in the Palestinian Authority, Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, is not conducive to the protection of America against terrorism. The fact that his policy promotes some of these problems makes things even worse.

Yet the new, expensive, expansive, and time-consuming technological methods are relatively ineffective against the current priorities of anti-American terrorist groups.

Incidentally, Obama policy has been disastrous against a four factor, radical Islamists—though not al-Qaida taking over places. Compared to the time Obama came to office, the Islamists who support violence against America now rule Egypt, Tunisia, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, and perhaps soon Syria. Offenses have been stepped up in Somalia, Yemen; are being maintained in Iraq; and of course still rule over Syria and Iran. In Turkey, an Islamist terror-supporting regime has been embraced by Obama.

This represents a massive retreat even if it is a largely unnoticed one.

So the problem of growing government spying is three-fold.

–First, it is against the American system and reduces liberty.

–Second, it is a misapplication of resources, in other words money is being spent and liberty sacrificed for no real gain.

–Third, since government decisionmaking and policy about international terrorism is very bad the threat is increasing.

If you don’t get value for money or enhanced security while freedom is being reduced and the enemy is getting stronger it certainly isn’t a bargain.

Topless Anti-Jihad Activist Hunted Down and Arrested

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Gender apartheid.  A Muslim woman who wants to be free will be jailed for it under the sharia.

Back in March I reported deep concern for a young Tunisian Muslima who had disappeared after she posted topless photos of herself to protest the Shariah oppression and subjugation she suffered as a Muslim girl. One controversial image showed the young Muslimah, Amina Tyler, smoking a cigarette, baring her breasts, with the message in Arabic written across her chest: “My body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone’s honour.”

A Muslim cleric in moderate Tunisia called for her stoning death. Tunisian newspaper Kapitalis quoted preacher Almi Adel, who heads the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, saying:

The young lady should be punished according to Shariah, with 80 to 100 lashes, but [because of] the severity of the act she has committed, she deserves be stoned to death.” And: “Her act could bring about an epidemic. It could be contagious and give ideas to other women. It is therefore necessary to isolate [the incident]. I wish her to be healed.

Amina was on the run solely because she wanted to be free. She was caught and arrested. Even more heinous is Muslim women who enable this misogyny and oppression.

“Amina Tyler, Tunisia’s ‘topless jihad’ activist, caught and under arrest” Al Arabiya, May 21, 2013After months of reportedly going into hiding, the outspoken Tunisian feminist who sparked a trend of “topless jihad” has been found and arrested by Tunisian authorities earlier this week and may be charged for conducting “provocative acts.”

Amina Tyler, 19, was found in the midst of police scuffles with hardline Salafist group Ansar al-Shariah in the central Tunisian city of Kairouan on Sunday.

Tyler previously described herself as a member of the Ukrainian feminist group Femen, which uses nudity in protests.

Witnesses said she allegedly scrawled “Femen” on the wall near the main mosque and may have intended to hang a banner on the building before an angry crowd gathered and started shouting at her to leave, according to The Associated Press.

Video posted by the Tunisian online Nawaat news site shows Tyler, with dyed blonde hair, clutching a banner and being hustled away by police and put into a van as residents chased her.

A local resident shouts at the camera: “She is dishonoring us. We will protect our town, but a dirty girl like her shouldn’t come among us.”

In March, Tyler posted pictures of her topless body with the phrase “my body is my own” scrawled on it, and she went into hiding after receiving death threats. Her family took her to stay with relatives outside the capital before she escaped and hid with friends.

A month later, Tyler had been trying to leave Tunisia, her former lawyer said after a video surfaced in which the woman recounted being drugged and given virginity tests by relatives.

Visit Atlas Shrugs.

How Revolutions Work: Turkey, America and the Arab World

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

A fascinating article on Islamism in Turkey that also reflects on the situation in Arabic-speaking countries was written last month by Soner Cagaptay, director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Turkish research program. I’m a fan of his analysis so nothing in the following article should be taken as criticism but rather as an exploration of his article’s themes.

There’s also a very interesting parallel here with domestic events in the United States. But first, Cagaptay’s theme is as follows:

There are strong limits on how far Islamism can go in Turkey and the Arabic-speaking states are very different from Turkey in lacking a strong secularist (or at least anti-Islamist) sector that is deeply embedded in the country’s culture and history.

I think he is right on both points but let’s look more into the details.

Cagaptay’s article was prompted by a personal experience in Istanbul. In a café he saw a group of Salafists, who had just finished prayers in a near-by mosque, interact politely with a waitress who had tattoos and wore a short-sleeved shirt. He writes that in both words and body language one could see there were no real “tensions between the two opposing visions of Turkey brought into close encounter for me to witness.”

He continues that while “Turkey’s two halves…may not blend, neither will [either one] disappear. Turkey’s Islamization is a fact, but so is secular and Westernized Turkey.” After a decade of Islamist rule—I should note here that few Western experts, journalists, or political leaders acknowledge or understand that the regime ruling Turkey is Islamist in a real sense—there has been, “a rising tide of Islamization in Turkey.” He mentions, for example, a recent law that mandates teaching Islam in public schools and a shift in Turkey’s professed identity from European to being Muslim and Middle Eastern.

But, Cagaptay adds, there are limits in a country “so thoroughly westernized that even the AKP and its Islamist elites cannot escape trappings of their Western mold.” As examples he cites the role of women and Turkey’s membership in NATO. He explains that “Turkey’s Islamization is meeting its match” because, for example, there was a consensus that Turkey deploy NATO Patriot missiles on its territory to defend itself from a possible attack by Syria. “The Turks have lived with NATO too long to think outside of its box.”

Now there is no question that in the broader sense Cagaptay is correct. Turkey is not going to be another Saudi Arabia or Iran. And yet beside that glass is half-full argument is a shocking glass is half-empty counterpart. As Cagaptay notes, Islamist or semi-Islamist parties received 65 percent of the vote in the 2011 elections. That means, he continues:

[Thirty-five] percent of the population, totaling twenty-five million people, did not vote for the [Islamist regime]. These voters stand for secularism, and they will never buy into the religious movement in Turkey. This block will constitute the domestic limitation of Turkey’s Islamization. After ten years in power, and likely to run the country for another term with a humming economy boosting its support, the AKP is making Turkey in its own image. But the new Turkey will have a uniquely distinct flavor: a bit Islamist, a bit secularist, a bit conservative, and a bit Western.

That’s absolutely true. And yet who would have believed twenty years ago that about two-thirds of the people would vote for Islamist candidates, even after a decade of Islamist rule? Will that 35 percent ever be able to get the Islamists out of power and reverse the process? And what about the process itself? Revolutions, even quiet ones, keep on going. Will 35 percent of the nine-year-olds now likely to get Islamic teaching (which may well amount to Islamist indoctrination) vote for secular parties when they grow up? And doesn’t much of Turkish foreign policy on regional issues under the AKP look like Iran or Egypt today? The attitude toward Israel, Iran (despite competition in Syria), the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and Hizballah are all in line with an assessment of it as a radical Islamist policy.

And how real is the current regime’s commitment to democracy? Not that much deeper than that of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Prime Minister Erdogan’s latest remarks have stirred a controversy in Turkey but haven’t even been reported in the West. In a speech in Konya, Erdogan said: “Separation of powers is hindering service to the people. We have to do something about it.” In other words, having now laid the foundation for beginning the Islamizing of the courts, he’s now going to go after parliament.

The Secret Document that Set Obama’s Mideast Policy

Monday, March 18th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

“We have to confront violent extremism in all of its forms.… America is not — and never will be — at war with Islam. We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security — because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women, and children. And it is my first duty as president to protect the American people.” –President Barack Obama, Cairo, June 2009.

“The United States is now experiencing the beginning of its end, and is heading towards its demise….Resistance is the only solution. [Today the United States] is withdrawing from Iraq, defeated and wounded, and it is also on the verge of withdrawing from Afghanistan. [All] its warplanes, missiles and modern military technology were defeated by the will of the peoples, as long as [these peoples] insisted on resistance.” –Muslim Brotherhood leader Muhammad al-Badi, Cairo, September 2010.

WHAT DID THE PRESIDENT know and when did he know it? That’s a question made classical by the Watergate scandal. Now it is possible to trace precisely what Obama knew and when he knew it. And it proves that the installment of the Muslim Brotherhood into power was a conscious and deliberate strategy of the Obama Administration developed before the “Arab Spring” began.

In February 2011 the New York Times ran an extremely complimentary article on President Obama by Mark Landler, who some observers say is the biggest apologist for Obama on the newspaper. That’s quite an achievement. Landler praised Obama for having tremendous foresight, in effect, predicting the “Arab Spring.”

According to Landler,

President Obama ordered his advisers last August [2010] to produce a secret report on unrest in the Arab world, which concluded that without sweeping political changes, countries from Bahrain to Yemen were ripe for popular revolt, administration officials said Wednesday.

Which advisors? The then counter-terrorism advisor and now designated CIA chief, John Brennan? National Security Council senior staffer Samantha Power? If it was done by Obama’s own staff, rather than State and Defense staff, it’s likely that these people or at least one of them was the key author.

So should U.S. policy help allies avoid such sweeping change by standing firm or by helping them make adjustments? No, explained the report, it should get on the side of history and wield a broom to do the sweeping.

Lander’s article continued:

Mr. Obama’s order, known as a Presidential Study Directive, identified likely flashpoints, most notably Egypt, and solicited proposals for how the administration could push for political change in countries with autocratic rulers who are also valuable allies of the United States, [emphasis added] these officials said.

The 18-page classified report, they said, grapples with a problem that has bedeviled the White House’s approach toward Egypt and other countries in recent days: how to balance American strategic interests and the desire to avert broader instability against the democratic demands of the protesters.

As I noted, the article was quite explicitly complimentary (and that’s an understatement) about how Obama knew what was likely to happen and was well prepared for it.

But that’s precisely the problem. It wasn’t trying to deal with change but was pushing for it; it wasn’t asserting U.S. interests, but balancing them off against other factors. In the process, U.S. interests were forgotten.

If Landler was right then Obama did have a sense of what was going to happen and prepared for it. It cannot be said that he was caught unawares. This view would suggest, then, that he thought American strategic interests could be protected and broader instability avoided by overthrowing U.S. allies as fast as possible and by showing the oppositions that he was on their side. Presumably the paper pointed out the strength of Islamist forces and the Muslim Brotherhood factor and then discounted any dangers from this quarter.

One could have imagined how other U.S. governments would have dealt with this situation: by helping friendly governments retain control, encourage them to make reforms, and if they fall, work  to ensure the triumph of moderate, pro-democratic forces that would be able to prevent the formation of radical Islamist dictatorships.

Such an approach would have been easy and in line with historic U.S. policy. We have every reason to believe that the State Department and the Defense Department favored such an approach.

IDF Intelligence Chief: Terror Organizations on the Rise

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Head of the Military Intelligence Directorate Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi spoke at the 13th annual Herzliya Conference on Thursday, where he delivered a comprehensive review of the strategic changes currently shaping the Middle East and the threats that such changes pose to Israel’s national security. THE IRANIAN THREAT

Maj. Gen. Kochavi related to the Iranian nuclear program, and was explicit in describing the great threat that Iran poses to the security of the State of Israel, describing it as Israel’s “primary threat”.

“We estimate that they will continue to advance their nuclear program,” he said, explaining that “Iran does not see a high chance of a military attack by the international community on [their] nuclear facilities.”

Maj. Gen. Kochavi said that the Iranian government is in possession of the necessary infrastructure to procure nuclear weapons. “Right now [Iran] has ten thousand spinning centrifuges and another five thousand have been installed,” he said, adding that “should the [President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] decide to move forward towards a bomb, they already have enough material for five or six bombs.”

Despite the progress of Iran’s nuclear program, Maj. Gen. Kochavi said, the international community still has the power to stop them. “The [international] pressure on Iran is intensifying and the economic sanctions are influencing Iran in the most significant way,” he said, adding that such sanctions will become an ever-more influential factor in the decision making in Iran. CHANGING MIDDLE EAST

The intelligence chief stated the IDF’s Intelligence Directorate has identified three central pillars around which the most significant changes influencing the region revolve: the economic situation, social upheaval and Islamization.

“The social upheaval is here to stay,” Maj. Gen. Kochavi said, referring to the massive political and social changes that have occurred throughout the Middle East in recent years. “It will continue to seethe and bubble and remain the central determining factor in the Middle East,” he said.

He explained that the social upheaval has removed many of the Middle East’s traditional power structures from authority, leaving room for radical Islam to take over. “[The upheaval] is becoming more violent every day, and it is creating a vacuum which is being filled with Islamist and Jihadist political factions,” he warned.

The Head of Military Intelligence said that while political turmoil abounds, governance has vanished and borders are being breached, leaving Israel surrounded by increasingly lawless areas. The lack of control, he says, is leading to the unfettered passage of weapons and munitions. “For the first time in decades Israel has four active borders which could open up from terror attacks,” Maj. Gen. Kochavi said. THE RISE OF TERROR IN SYRIA

Maj. Gen. Kochavi related to the sustained political turmoil in Syria, saying that there too radical Islamism has risen up to fill the void left by political instability. “For some of the [new terror] organizations, Israel is not the focus, but the moment they accomplish their Plan A – the fall of Assad, for instance – they will turn their energy towards Israel,” he said.

Elaborating on the situation in Syria, Maj. Gen. Kochavi said that “it is necessary to think of Syria not as a complete state, but as Assad’s state and the rebels’ state – which includes two thirds of Syria’s populated area.” He added that there are rebel enclaves camped all along the border in the Golan Heights from where they lead the day to day fighting.

“11 of 17 crossings [from Syria into the demilitarized UNDOF zone] are in the hands of the rebels, which enables the passage of refugees, weapons and even Jihadist elements,” Maj. Gen. Kochavi said.

The Head of Military Intelligence went on to say that Hezbollah, a traditional ally of Assad, is concerned that should he lose power, Iran may lose free passage through Syria to arm the Lebanese terror organization – a concern which has caused them to become involved in the conflict.

“Assad is intensifying cooperation with Hezbollah and Iran, which maintain a presence in Syria, and are the primary supports of his regime,” Maj. Gen. Kochavi said. “The damage of Syria’s demise would be very grave for them. Iran would lose its only Arab ally which borders Israel and thus lose the capability to open fire on Israel from Syria,” Maj. Gen. Kochavi said.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/idf-intelligence-chief-terror-organizations-on-the-rise/2013/03/15/

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