Obama’s Statement of Support for Lebanon Shows His Lack of Support for Lebanon

November 23, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

The following post by Barry Rubin is reposted here with permission

Obama’s Statement of Support for Lebanon Shows His Lack of Support for Lebanon

By Barry Rubin

Even when you say the right thing it can only highlight the fact that you haven’t been doing it. Take President Barack Obama’s statement on Lebanon. The wording is all correct, yet it only makes the fact that this has nothing to do with actual U.S. policy stand out even more vividly.

Thus, when Obama said that he is committed to keeping Lebanon free of “terrorism,” the fact is that—in part due to weak U.S. policy—the country is largely under the control of Hizballah, a terrorist group. Right now, Hizballah doesn’t have to make many terrorist attacks since it has already used terrorism successfully to gain veto power over state policy.

Obama’s statement was timed for Lebanon’s Independence Day, but that is only all the more ironic because Lebanon has once again lost its independence to Iranian and Syrian control. The message was also prompted by growing tension over the special tribunal investigation into the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005.

Pretty much everyone in Lebanon knows the Syrians killed Hariri and it seems increasingly demonstrated by the tribunal investigation that Hizballah was involved. But what a hollow joke it is to speak of this when the Syrians and Hizballah hold such overwhelming power as to intimidate anyone else in Lebanon from doing anything about it.

Probably, even if the tribunal issued a report saying that Syria and Hizballah were guilty, Hariri’s own son—Said, leader of the Sunni Muslims and the Sunni-Christian moderate alliance—would denounce it as false. That’s tragic and one major reason why he would have to defend his own father’s murderers is that he knows he cannot rely on the United States.

“I am committed to doing everything I can,” said Obama, “to support Lebanon and ensure it remains free from foreign interference, terrorism, and war.”

-Why, then, has not the U.S. government broken off its engagement with Syria—which has been leading nowhere—to protest Syria’s growing interference in Lebanon (not to mention involvement in killing American soldiers in Iraq and other misdeeds)?

-Why doesn’t he mention the U.S. pledges in 2006 to support a strong UN force capable of keeping Hizballah out of the south, stopping arms smuggling, and even helping the Lebanese government disarm that militia? Obama has not lifted a finger to get tough on these issues. He has stood by and watched while the UN force has been intimidated into passivity by Hizballah. In a real sense, Hizballah took on the entire world, supposedly under U.S. leadership, and won total victory.

– Syria and Iran have given their side lavish financial and military support. They have helped commit acts of violence to intimidate those favoring a sovereign and independent Lebanon. Where is the U.S. counter-effort, including covert operations and behind-the-scenes funding? The Saudis—not Obama-tried their best to fight the radical Islamist axis without help from Obama.

And so, Obama has not done “everything I can,” he has done almost nothing at all. The moderates tremble and the radicals rejoice at this fact. Is there anyone in Lebanon, or even the Middle East, who doesn’t know this?

And then there’s this statement which in theory sounds good but is actually a disaster:

“The only way ahead is for all Lebanese to work together, not against each other, for a sovereign and independent Lebanon that enjoys both justice and stability.”

To preach everyone working together, while it may enhance stability, also reinforces the status quo which is what’s making a sovereign and independent Lebanon impossible. Only if the United States had given the Sunni-Christian-Druze alliance had stood up to Hizballah and not worked together in a national unity government would there have been hope.

The Druze saw the writing on the wall and dropped out. Their leader went from praising America and damning Syria, to praising Syria and damning America because he had no faith in Obama backing his people and keeping him alive in the face of the other side’s terrorism. His allies caved in also. Can you blame them?

You can practically hear the dictators sneer in Damascus, Tehran, and the terrorists chime in at Hizballah headquarters:

Ha! You are isolated. No one cares. No one will help you. Do you think America and Obama are going to come to your rescue? We will kill you and your families without the United States doing anything. Surrender or else!

And so they did.

Thus, it sounds a bit disgusting to hear Obama opine: “Lebanon and its children need a future where they can fulfill their dreams free of fear and intimidation.”

Sad to say, they aren’t going to get it with your policy.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). You can read more of Barry Rubin’s posts at Rubin Reports.

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Daled Amos

Obama’s Statement of Support for Lebanon Shows His LACK of Support for Lebanon

November 23, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

By Barry Rubin

Even when you say the right thing it can only highlight the fact that you haven’t been doing it. Take President Barack Obama’s statement on Lebanon. The wording is all correct, yet it only makes the fact that this has nothing to do with actual U.S. policy stand out even more vividly.

Thus, when Obama said that he is committed to keeping Lebanon free of “terrorism,” the fact is that—in part due to weak U.S. policy—the country is largely under the control of Hizballah, a terrorist group. Right now, Hizballah doesn’t have to make many terrorist attacks since it has already used terrorism successfully to gain veto power over state policy.

Obama’s statement was timed for Lebanon’s Independence Day, but that is only all the more ironic because Lebanon has once again lost its independence to Iranian and Syrian control. The message was also prompted by growing tension over the special tribunal investigation into the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005.

Pretty much everyone in Lebanon knows the Syrians killed Hariri and it seems increasingly demonstrated by the tribunal investigation that Hizballah was involved. But what a hollow joke it is to speak of this when the Syrians and Hizballah hold such overwhelming power as to intimidate anyone else in Lebanon from doing anything about it.

Probably, even if the tribunal issued a report saying that Syria and Hizballah were guilty, Hariri’s own son—Said, leader of the Sunni Muslims and the Sunni-Christian moderate alliance—would denounce it as false. That’s tragic and one major reason why he would have to defend his own father’s murderers is that he knows he cannot rely on the United States.

“I am committed to doing everything I can,” said Obama, “to support Lebanon and ensure it remains free from foreign interference, terrorism, and war.”

-Why, then, has not the U.S. government broken off its engagement with Syria—which has been leading nowhere—to protest Syria’s growing interference in Lebanon (not to mention involvement in killing American soldiers in Iraq and other misdeeds)?

-Why doesn’t he mention the U.S. pledges in 2006 to support a strong UN force capable of keeping Hizballah out of the south, stopping arms smuggling, and even helping the Lebanese government disarm that militia? Obama has not lifted a finger to get tough on these issues. He has stood by and watched while the UN force has been intimidated into passivity by Hizballah. In a real sense, Hizballah took on the entire world, supposedly under U.S. leadership, and won total victory.

– Syria and Iran have given their side lavish financial and military support. They have helped commit acts of violence to intimidate those favoring a sovereign and independent Lebanon. Where is the U.S. counter-effort, including covert operations and behind-the-scenes funding? The Saudis—not Obama-tried their best to fight the radical Islamist axis without help from Obama.

And so, Obama has not done “everything I can,” he has done almost nothing at all. The moderates tremble and the radicals rejoice at this fact. Is there anyone in Lebanon, or even the Middle East, who doesn’t know this?

And then there’s this statement which in theory sounds good but is actually a disaster:

“The only way ahead is for all Lebanese to work together, not against each other, for a sovereign and independent Lebanon that enjoys both justice and stability.”

To preach everyone working together, while it may enhance stability, also reinforces the status quo which is what’s making a sovereign and independent Lebanon impossible. Only if the United States had given the Sunni-Christian-Druze alliance had stood up to Hizballah and not worked together in a national unity government would there have been hope.

The Druze saw the writing on the wall and dropped out. Their leader went from praising America and damning Syria, to praising Syria and damning America because he had no faith in Obama backing his people and keeping him alive in the face of the other side’s terrorism. His allies caved in also. Can you blame them?

You can practically hear the dictators sneer in Damascus, Tehran, and the terrorists chime in at Hizballah headquarters:

Ha! You are isolated. No one cares. No one will help you. Do you think America and Obama are going to come to your rescue? We will kill you and your families without the United States doing anything. Surrender or else!

And so they did.

Thus, it sounds a bit disgusting to hear Obama opine: “Lebanon and its children need a future where they can fulfill their dreams free of fear and intimidation.”

Sad to say, they aren’t going to get it with your policy.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict, and Crisis (Palgrave Macmillan), Conflict and Insurgency in the Contemporary Middle Eastand editor of the (seventh edition) (Viking-Penguin), The Israel-Arab Reader the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria(Palgrave-Macmillan), A Chronological History of Terrorism (Sharpe), and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).     




YID With LID

UN Human Right Council adopted nine anti-Israel resolutions this month; Obama’s U.S. delegation opposed none of them

November 23, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Obama continues on his relentlessly anti-Israel, pro-jihad course. “Obama’s UN Officials Silent on Nine Anti-Israel Resolutions,” by Chana Ya’ar for Israel National News, November 22 (thanks to Weasel Zippers):

The United Nations Human Rights Council this month adopted nine resolutions against Israel. The United States opposed nothing….

Other UNHRC members responded with a verbal assault against the Israeli diplomat, which was also not stopped by the Obama administration representative.

“There is no other terrorism on the surface of the planet like the terrorism committed by Israel,” claimed the Syrian delegate. “This entity was established on the basis of terrorism.”…

Jihad Watch

NRA Opposes Obama’s ATF Nominee Because They Googled Him (VIDEO)

November 23, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

President Barack Obama’s nominee to take over the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) faces a pretty big hurdle to securing his confirmation by the Senate: opposition from the National Riffle Association.

It didn’t take long for the NRA to come out against Andrew Traver once his nomination was announced by the White House last Monday night. Less than two business days later, the NRA was out with a release not only opposing Traver’s nomination, but calling for Obama to withdraw the nomination altogether. ATF, the agency charged with enforcing the nation’s gun laws, has been without a permanent director since 2006.

“They might as well put an [arsonist] in charge of the fire department,” NRA’s top lobbyist Chris Cox told two radio hosts on an NRA-sponsored program in a clip posted on the NRA website.

“The nomination of Andrew Traver is more proof that Barack Obama has complete disregard for the Second Amendment and the rights of firearms owners,” Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms Chairman Alan Gottlieb said in a statement.

NRA’s opposition to Traver is driven by an interview he gave to a local television station and his attendance at a meeting called by the International Association for the Chiefs of Police (IACP).

The NRA contends that the “Gun Violence Reduction Project,” which was run through a partnership with the Joyce Foundation and IACP, shows that Traver is against the 2nd amendment. “Both IACP and the Joyce Foundation are names synonymous with promoting a variety of gun control schemes at the federal and state levels,” they said in a statement.

“That’s just guilt by association to the first degree,” Paul Helmke of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence told TPM. “If you sit down in a room with the chiefs of police that the Joyce Foundation put on, you’re automatically suspect. They didn’t even go to the content of what was in any of these recommendations.”

As for the television interview, “Who knows what was left on the cutting room floor,” Helmke said.

According to his interview with the NRA-sponsored radio program, Cox’s opposition to Traver is based on Internet searches from when Traver’s name was first floated over the summer.

“I sat at my computer when this guy’s name was first brought up and Googled him,” Cox said, encouraging listeners to do so themselves.

Cox argued that Obama has surrounded himself with people like Attorney General Eric Holder and Vice President Joe Biden who have a “hatred and disrespect for our most basic fundamental rights.”

“We’re going to do everything we can to make sure he’s not confirmed,” Cox said.

As TPM has reported, gun control advocates are themselves upset over what they say is lack of action from the administration on their key issues. They contend the administration is loathe to act or speak about any gun control issues because of how politically sensitive gun rights are .

The last confirmed director was Carl Truscott, who was very concerned with the aesthetics of ATF’s headquarters and wanted to purchase a $ 65,000 table for the director’s suite. President George W. Bush’s nominee, Michael Sullivan, faced oppositions from the gun lobby and was in an acting position until his resignation on Jan. 1, 2009.

Obama had Kenneth Melson take over the agency as acting director early on in his term, but he was demoted to deputy director due to a law limiting how long acting chiefs can head up federal agencies.

Meanwhile, legislation has been proposed that critics contend would weaken the ATF even further. That’s despite the fact that a recent Justice Department Inspector General report concluded that weak U.S. gun laws were making it more difficult for the agency to stop gun trafficking on the Mexican border.

A Justice Department spokeswoman referred requests for comment to the White House. Messages left with the White House and Traver’s office in Chicago were not immediately returned. The NRA had no immediate comment beyond their statement.

Watch the interview with Chris Cox below:








TPMMuckraker

Double standard in reporting on Obama’s TSA’s feeler-uppers

November 22, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Newsbusters reports on the double-standard in the reporting of the Obama administrations “feeler-uppers” versus the more negative, in regards to President Bush, coverage of the Patriot Act.

Media bias? Why am I not surprised?

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Marathon Pundit

Barack Obama’s message to the world

November 22, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

(Scott)

The Obama administration has a message for the world. The message is something along these lines: The United States is very bad, but Barack Obama is very good. He seeks to redeem America from its evil.

Eye on the UN has compiled the disgusting video below of the United States abasing itself before the some of the most reprehensible regimes in the world. I believe this is what the goes under the name of “smart diplomacy” in the Obama administration.

The video depicts in condensed form the three-hour appearance of the United States in the dock at the UN Human Rights Council to present its first-ever universal periodic review report and receive recommendations for improvement from council members. Eye on the UN’s Anne Bayefsky explained at the time that 56 countries lined up for the opportunity to have at the U.S. representatives, many standing in line overnight a day ago in order to be near the top of the list. Making it to the head of the line were Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, Iran, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and North Korea.

Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner (Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor) made an appearance to play his designated role demeaning the United States on behalf of the Obama administration. Posner replies “thanks to very many of the delegations for thoughtful comments and suggestions” shortly after Cuba said the U.S. blockade of Cuba was a “crime of genocide,” Iran “condemned and expressed its deep concern over the situation of human rights” in the United States, and North Korea said it was “concerned by systematic widespread violations committed by the United States at home and abroad.”

Carl in Jeruslam aptly comments: “The key foreign policy goal of the Obama administration is to destroy the notion that America is an exceptional nation, and to cut it down to the same size as brutal dictatorships around the world. Trying to cut down America’s most feisty ally by forcing it into a situation where it will have to fight for its very existence is part of the same ‘strategy.’”

Warning: If you have anger management issues related to the Obama admnistration, avoid this video.

The formal response of the United States to the criticisms tendered by the likes of Cuba and Iran is posted here.




Power Line

Obama’s small ball approach to blocking offshore drilling and killing jobs

November 22, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 
Small ball works too.

It ended before the Democrats’ Election Day debacle-their “transformational change” stage, which  involved ramming unpopular legislation such as cap and trade and ObamaCare through Congress.

The White House is in its “small ball” phase of damaging the economy. Again, fossil fuels, an energy source Obama administration has been at war with since January 20, 2009, are under attack.

Successfully using small ball can be just as effective-or more accurately as damaging, as hitting home runs.

Last month the White House lifted its deep-water offshore drilling moratorium; it dropped the shallow water moratorium in May. But NPR is reporting this morning that while historically 10-15 offshore drilling permits are issued a month, that number is close to zero now.

Smaller energy firms are taken are suffering the most. Such as Herculues Offshore:

About 25 miles from Aransas Pass, Texas, the huge Hercules 205 shallow-water jack-up rig is sitting in about 100 feet of water. It’s not drilling any wells right now because Hercules’ customers can’t get permits.

Workers are performing maintenance — spraying away rust and old paint on the drill floor. Down below, welders are repairing some steel plating, and work will begin soon to replace showers in the bathroom.

In the galley, assistant driller Bobby Waguspack says this is an uncertain time.

“If you don’t know you [are] going to have a job the next week, it affects your mind, you know?” he says.

Obama’s bean balls have already cost Americans thousands of jobs.

This sneaky approach to governing is troubling to me and it is certainly not “Change I can believe in.”

Related post:

Obama’s war on fossil fuels

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Marathon Pundit

Obama’s foreign policy time warp

November 22, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

(Scott)

The Washington Post’s Jackson Diehl notes that Obama’s foreign policy is in crucial respects stuck in the 1980′s, when Obama was a Columbia undergraduate faithfully peddling the Soviet Union’s line on the nuclear freeze (my words, not Diehl’s). Diehl argues that Obama is stuck in a time warp with respect to his focus on Russian nuclear arms and his approach to the Arab conflict with Israel.

Earlier this year I took a long look at Obama’s undergraduate thoughts on the Soviet Union in “A look back at Obama’s useful idiocy.” My look back was consistent with Diehl’s placement of Obama’s foreign policy thinking in the 1980′s. As a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, however, Obama pronounced a disarmament credo of a somewhat older vintage:

I will cut investments in unproven missile defense systems…

…I will not weaponize space…

…I will slow development of future combat systems…

…and I will institute an independent “Defense Priorities Board” to ensure the quadrennial defense review is not used to justify unnecessary spending…

…I will set a goal of a world without nuclear weapons…

…and to seek that goal, I will not develop nuclear weapons…

…I will seek a global ban on the production of fissile material…

…and I will negotiate with Russia to take our ICBMs off hair-trigger alert…

…and to achieve deep cuts in our nuclear arsenals…

Diehl to the contrary notwithstanding, It’s a kind of McGovernite credo that situates Obama back in the 1970′s, if not earlier, but Diehl’s point regarding Obama’s time warp is nevertheless a good one.

What about Obama’s opposition to “unproven missile defense systems”? I interpreted that formulation to be redundant. In Obama’s mind, all “missile defense systems” seemed to be “unproven.” Obama’s verbiage recalled the Democratic opposition to Ronald Reagan’s missile defense program, derided by the deep thinkers of the time as Star Wars. On this point Obama’s thinking was stuck in the 1980′s, consistent with the thesis of Diehl’s column. Is it still?

Obama’s opposition to “unproven missile defense systems” included the one the United States had committed to install in Poland, a commitment which Obama abrogated to please the Russians. What about the missile defense system NATO leaders agreed to last week? Has that one been “proven”? Someone who covers the Obama administration for a living really ought to ask him about it.

Via RealClearPolitics.




Power Line

Among Obama’s Failures, Look At How Syria Is Thriving

November 21, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

[Syria’s behavior] “has not met our hopes and expectations” and has “not met its international obligations.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Funny, it seems like the Muslim world has no problem with Syria. In fact, despite the Obama administration’s frustration with Syria, it seems to be doing quite well:

Damascus played a role in helping Iraq’s fractious politicians agree this month to form a new government after eight months of deadlock. Now with Lebanon’s factions heading for a possible new violent collision, Arabs have had to turn to Syria in hopes of ensuring peace, even as Damascus backs Lebanon’s heaviest armed player, the Shiite militant group Hezbollah.

…Since 2005, Washington — along with its Arab allies — hoped to squeeze Syrian influence out of its smaller neighbor Lebanon. But Arab powers that once shunned Damascus, particularly Saudi Arabia, have had to acknowledge its regional weight.

This month, Syrian and Saudi officials have been holding talks trying to avert an explosion in Lebanon. It’s a remarkable turnaround from several years ago, when the two countries were locked in a bitter rivalry and an outright personal feud between their leaders, Syrian President Bashar Assad and Saudi King Abdullah.

Isn’t it great to see how successful Obama has been in bringing the Muslim world together?

Of course, the Syria that is now thriving in the Middle East is not the one that Obama thought he would be able to encourage. Syria’s success has come despite Obama’s best efforts:

It has done so while ignoring incentives from Washington. President Barack Obama has made repeated overtures to Damascus this year, nominating the first U.S. ambassador to Syria since 2005 and sending top diplomats to meet with Assad, in hopes of swaying it away from its alliance with Iran and regional militant groups.

What a difference 4 years can make. It seems that Assad has taken the motto of “Hope and Change” and has effected a real turnaround from where Syria was not so long ago:

Syria’s emergence as a regional heavyweight is a reversal from just a few years ago. Rafik Hariri’s assassination prompted a wave of anti-Syrian protests that forced Damascus to withdraw its military from Lebanon and end its long control there. In 2006, relations with some Arab states took a dive when Assad called Saudi King Abdullah and other Arab leaders “half men” over their disapproval of Hezbollah’s capture of two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid, which sparked a 34-day war between Hezbollah and Israel.

Syria could benefit from improved ties with Washington, which would boost its economy and end sanctions first imposed by President George W. Bush. Assad also wants U.S. mediation in indirect peace talks with Israel — a recognition that he needs Washington’s help to win the return of the Golan Heights, seized by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war.

But after rebuilding its regional status, it may feel less of a need to pay the price for better ties.

At least now we know why Iran feels they can ignore the sanctions that Obama has thrown at them.
And if Syria can thumb its nose at the US and thrive, you know that Ahmadinejad thinks he has nothing to worry about-and why.

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Daled Amos

Make the Obamas go through a TSA Pat-Down

November 21, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Doug Mataconis:

In the face of outrage over Americans being groped by TSA agents, children being man-handled in a bizarre procedure that makes no logical sense, and people being exposed to the humiliation of having prosthetic breasts removed or being covered in their own urine, Obama’s “Too bad, you’ve gotta do it anyway” response is a sign of how far removed from reality the Presidency makes a person. If the President or members of his family had to subject themselves to TSA screening on a regular basis, one would think his opinion on the matter w0uld be quite different.

I continue to believe that the best way to handle the controversy would be for the Obamas-all of them, including the kids-to have to go through a public pat down.




ProfessorBainbridge.com

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