Friday, August 29, 2014

Obama tries damage control on Isis and Ukraine while Isis and Putin just keep doing damage.

In a pre Labor Day press conference that he probably wishes he had never called,   fielding questions related to the two most current and pressing foreign policy issues at the moment, Isis and Russia's continued armed invasion of eastern Ukraine Obama announced, as has now been widely reported, that in dealing with Isis in Syria, something that had been called to his attention more than a year ago, he has no strategy. Yet.

That led to a lot of damage control by the White House in trying to explain that statement and almost everything else Obama said in his press conference which reeked of an inadaquacy  that seemed to stun even the usually compliant media, though Jim Acosta at CNN managed to call Obama's announcement of inaction with either Isis or Putin as "cautious".

But for the most part Obama couldn't stop the criticism and head shaking at just how ineffective and tepid his statements were and the more Obama spoke the worse it got as he tried to explain his strategy in dealing with Isis in both Syria and Iraq and with Putin and his continued invasion of Ukraine.

Obama's statement that they haven't decided on a course of action against Isis in Syria was met with incredulity since Obama had been told about the threat more than a year ago even though Isis has now erupted into a full blown crisis.

Syria was where Isis started and where they might have been nipped in the bud had Obama taken Hillary Clinton and then Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta's  recommendation at the time to arm the moderate groups of Syrian rebels.  But that would have meant Obama would have had to make a  decision beyond " dont do stupid stuff". Instead Obama did do stupid stuff by deciding to do nothing and now, Isis has become the threat he was warned against and  is on the march and getting stronger and is now even threatening attacks against the U.S.

In response to that, in Iraq, Obama says his strategy against Isis is to degrade and disrupt Isis as well as protect U.S. assets on the ground.   But in talking about degrading and disrupting,  Obama left out the one word that starts with a "d" that anyone cared about, the one word that starts with a "d" that is the only word that really matters when it comes to Isis. And the only word that amounts to a real strategy of any consequence.  And that word is "destroy". And that word was missing from Obama's strategy even in Iraq.

Which, as Barbara Starr pointed out on CNN was a message Obama sent to Isis that for the moment,  probably made them throw a party thinking they have nothing to fear from the U.S.  That message has also been pointed out and criticized by almost everyone except the most loyal and blind Obama sycophants of which there seems to be fewer and fewer.

A former member of the Joints Chiefs of Staff was quoted anonymously saying Obama's failure to mention "destroy" as part of the strategy against Isis in Iraq  demoralized the U.S. military and it also sent a message to Isis that they have nothing to fear from the U.S. which will only embolden them.

The same not so coincidentally, has been  true for Putin who also knows he has nothing to fear from Obama as he's known from the beginning. In dealing with the Russian insurgence in Ukraine,  it's only been the election of Poroshenko who, once he came to power,  rejected Obama's weak and ineffective approach and did what Obama seems incapable of, taking decisive military action which changed everything and resulted in the Ukraine military retaking much of the territory the rebels were able to seize while the interim government under Obama's guidance, capitulated.

Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark returned from a trip to Ukraine in March and  in an interview at the time said that the interim government had been given "guidance" by the Obama administration in dealing with Crimea to avoid bloodshed at all costs and to do nothing that might provoke Putin into invading. That led to a series of humiliating surrenders by the Ukraine military and ulimtately to the Russian annexation of Crimea. It also led to the expansion of the rebels into eastern Ukraine and a wider war with Putin's interference.

Just as Isis could have been nipped in the bud with decisive action a year ago in Syria, the war in eastern Ukraine could have been avoided with decisive military action in standing up to Putin and the rebel forces in Crimea in the first place -- exactly what Obama advised against.

In his press conference Obama reiterated that there would be no military aid to Ukraine  even as Putin has been sending in more tanks, thousands of troops and the Buk missiles that brought down MH-17. It has resulted in recent heavy losses for the Ukrainian army which is now fighting against Russian troops and heavy weapons supplied by Putin. Obama's head in the sand idea of helping Ukraine has been with "non-lethal aid",  which led a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, disgusted with Obama's response, to call Obama's aid to Ukraine as  " nothing more than camping equipment".  Which, as with Isis, also let Putin know he has nothing to fear from the U. S. in helping  the Ukrainian military.

Then  in response to a question about Russia's military intervention in Ukraine and the lack of U.S. military help,  Obama's answer, incredulously, were that  the sanctions were working. This is an answer which can only be described as either self deluded or selling snake oil from the back of a horse drawn wagon.  The sanctions had only one purpose. To deter Putin from annexing Crimea, to deter Putin from massing troops on Ukraine's border, and to deter Putin from sending Russian troops and heavy armor and weapons into Ukraine to help the rebels. That's how well the sanctions have been working. The sanctions have done none of those things because Putin doesn't care about the sanctions. He wants Ukraine. And sanctions aren't going to stop him. Putin has dreams of reconstituting the old Soviet Union. He has sent Russian troops into Ukraine who have been killed in the process and is sending more. Does anyone think he cares if interest rates go up, unemployment goes up or the ruble goes down?

Yet for Obama, the sanctions are working. Leading anyone to conclude that Obama is unable to grasp the difference between sanctions having some effect on the Russian economy which to a small degree they are, and having any effect on Putin and his actions which to a total degree they aren't.

What's needed for Ukraine as Wesley Clarke pointed out,  is military help from the U.S. and other NATO countries in the form of weapons both offensive and defensive, intelligence capabilities, and any other help, including advisors on the ground, to help the Ukrainian military trying to defend the freedom of 45 million Ukrainians from Russian dominance. And to let Putin know that if he continues arming the rebels NATO will view that as a threat to Europe and begin military aid to Ukraine. Instead Obama talks about the obvious,that  Russian military aid is streaming into Ukraine but offers nothing else.

It was clear from the beginning that Putin was using Hitler's strategy of taking the Rhineland and the Sudetenland by concocting a phony need to defend  German speaking people and used the same pretext for invading Crimea and then successfully annexing it, thanks to Obama's weakness. Having steamrolled, intimidated and essentially bullied Obama in Crimea,  Putin, predictably, has been moving on eastern Ukraine again counting on Obama's weakness and inability to stand up to him. And so far Obama has not disappointed. And we know from Syria and Assad's use of chemical weapons, that if Obama draws a line in the sand he will draw it at the water's edge where even a low tide will wash it away. It has only been Poroshenko's resolve and use of his military that has kept Putin from overrunning eastern Ukraine.

There is no doubt that Putin wants Ukraine and has dreams of re-creating the old Soviet Union. He is counting on Obama and NATO which is U.S. led, to let it happen and not have the backbone to stand up to him militarily. So far he's been right with Obama, sounding more like Neville Chamberlin every day, proclaiming " the sanctions are working".  They are not working.

There is that old adage that those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Putin has invaded eastern Ukraine as surely as Hitler invaded the Rhineland and the Sudentland. And with a U.S. president who has already proved he can't or won't stand up to Putin (or anyone else for that matter)   and a NATO alliance and EU not doing any better, it's now an open question as to whether they will  let Putin take Ukraine the way Hitler took Poland. Because sanctions will not stop it.

But  when you're a president that has been as ineffective as Obama has been on all fronts, with his actions as well as his statements on Isis and Putin making him look clueless, maybe being able to say anything is working is an achievment. Even if its the plumbing.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Israel, Gaza and the myth of the disproportionate response.

With the five day Gaza cease fire at an end, ended with rocket fire from Hamas even before the cease fire expired, Israelis and Hamas have already begun another round of military exchanges with the same results as before.

Which almost assures that, along with the usual inadequate,sometimes mindless, coverage by the news media who can't get enough of Hamas controlled, supplied or approved video of casualites or destruction used as propaganda which the media runs on a loop,the previous exercise in journalistic absurdity from those like JD Tapper at CNN  others will begin again: the issue of the "disproportionate response".

The "disproportionate response" issue began before the last cease fire as a visceral response to the Hamas approved video of emergency rooms and rubble. But it's starting again. You see it in the reporting of journalists like Laura Carlsen in an opinion piece at  Al-Jazeera, where she has defined Israel's response to Hamas' terrorist rocket attacks as the "Israeli offensive" ( it's actually her reporting that's offensive) and defines the Gaza war as an Israeli offensive solely based on the disparity between Palestinian casualties and Israeli  and the failure of Hamas to cause more. Which is what makes  the idea of disproprtionate response in war not just mindless but with no basis in reality or morality and no relation to anything taking place in Gaza as a military response.

In matters of life of death there is no such thing as a disproportionate response. What matters is putting an end to an attack. That is true on an individual level, a law enforcement level and a military level. In fact the Powell Doctrine used in the first Gulf War was predicated on the use of overwhelming force against an enemy.

A disproportionate response is if someone takes your parking space and you shoot them. The space that Hamas wants to take, according to their charter, is the entire state of Israel which they regard as "the occupation".  Using all the force necessary to stop or defeat a state enemy that is attacking you militarily with rockets and other offensive weapons with the intent to cause mass casualties is never and can never be disproportionate.

To highlight the stupidity of the "disproportionate  response" argument, especially as it pertains to the Israeli military action to destroy attack tunnels and rockets in Gaza,  those who bring up "disproportionate response" always  point to the disproportionate casualties as the crux of their argument. A few journalists have made this simple minded comparison, among them JD Tapper, and Nick Schiffren,  a journalist for Al-Jazeera. 

Its disproportionally stupid to think that the difference in casualty figures has anything to do with disproportionate response. Hamas launched 3500 rockets into Israel, each capable, if they landed in the  heavily populated areas Hamas was trying to hit, of killing at least 10 people if it hit a crowd, and wounding many more. (see the above image of the cows killed by a single Hamas rocket hitting an Israeli dairy farm).A simple hand grenade thrown into a crowd would kill 5 or 6. If the Hamas rockets had hit their targets in cities like Tel Aviv, Haifa or Jerusalem and  Israel didn't have it 'a warning system or the Iron Dome, the rockets would have had the potential to kill 35,000 Israelis and wound tens of thousands more. That they didn't is no cogent argument that Israel's military response  to take out those rockets was disproportionate.

What those who bring up a disproportionate response are really complaining about ( if complaining is what they're doing)  has nothing to do with disproportionate response but Israel having disproportionate success both offensively and defensively. Which,if that's what they  really mean, is a morally bankrupt argument. Which is why Hamas also makes it. 

To further expose the absurdity of the number of casualties as the criteria for a disproportionate response,  imagine if a group of 20-30  terrorists piled out of a van in Times Square and opened fire with automatic weapons shooting at people indiscriminately with bullets flying wildly and civilians diving for cover.And imagine that only two or three civilians were actually hit.  And imagine an NYPD Swat Team arriving and killing all the terrorists.  What would happen to JD Tapper or any other journalist who tried to raise the issue of whether the NYPD response was disproportionate in killing all  the terrorists because only two bystanders were hit in the attacks?  It would be the end of their careers as journalists. And probably still should be.

It is no different on a personal level. If you are asleep in your bedroom with a gun on a night table for self defense and an intruder kicks in your door and enters with a knife, what are you doing to do?  Try and get to the kitchen to get your own knife so your response is proportionate? Or pick up the gun and shoot? 

Even in terms of  casualty figures the numbers offered by the UN have already proved to be bogus and not to be trusted since they are  given to the UN by Hamas and the Hamas controlled Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza. That includes  the percentage of civilian casualties which the UN keeps parroting and journalists keep reporting, ignoring the fact that the UN has no way of checking the figures or the percentages, that Hamas would never be truthful about the number of their fighters killed, and that their  percentages are at disproportionate odds with the IDF figures of Hamas fighters killed which the UN ignores. According to the IDF over 900 Hamas fighters have been killed. That would put civilian casualties at 50% not the ever changing 70-80% Hamas and the UN keep reporting. 

For the news media or those who insist on using casualty figures to keep score like it was a game, Hamas had sent human bombers into Israel who killed 1400 from 2006-2007 but are not taken into account perhaps because the images of those casualties arent recent enough. But it's those casualties that are at the heart of the border closings and blockade that is at the crux of the current war.  It was the intention of Hamas to tunnel into Israel to cause more of those casualties while they now fire rockets with the irrational  idea that  they can force  the reopening of those borders. 

Which again shows there is no such thing as a disproportionate response to force Hamas to end their attacks and if necessary, destroy Hamas militarily if they refuse to stop voluntarily. 

The "disproportionate response" argument  also keeps citing  the number  of "innocent civilian" casualties as fuel for the disproportionate response argument. The term is  bandied about by the media as if "innocent" and "civilian" automatically go together. Certainly the children in Gaza are innocent having been victimized by the adults in Gaza who brought this all on.  But are the adult civilians who support Hamas really that innocent?  As Hillary Clinton pointed out  Hamas is responsible for all of the civilian casualties in Gaza. And it was the civilian adults in Gaza who elected Hamas, a psychopathic collection of terrorist killers to be their government and act on their behalf when they could have elected Abbas and the Palestinian Authority. Had Abbas been controlling Gaza there would be no blockade or border closings. And no war. But the Palestinians in Gaza elected Hamas in 2007 knowing full well what Hamas is.And in that way makes them as responsible as Hamas for causing the circumstances they have been enduring that they want to see end. 

There is more evidence that many of these "innocent civilians" are not so innocent.  Rockets have been stored in the homes of these "innocent" civilians, assembled in the homes of these "innocent" civilian and fired from the homes of these "innocent civilians". And every terror tunnel had its entrance started in a civilian home with the help and support of the civilians who lived in those homes.Which is why those homes were destroyed.

The Institute for Palestinian Studies issued a shocking report in 2012 on these tunnels and reported that, with information supplied by Hamas, 160 Palestinian children being used by Hamas to dig those tunnels were killed digging those tunnels. And that doesn't count all the children Hamas used that survived. Children who were used with the permission of their parents to help Hamas dig tunnels whose sole purpose was to kill Israelis and their children . Which also doesn't sound very innocent. 

Before the cease fire ended there was a rally in Gaza attended by thousands of Palestinians who,  according to reports, were showing their support for Hamas and calling for more rocket fire and attacks on Israel if Hamas demands were not met while at the same time refusing Israeli demands that Gaza be demilitarized. There was talk that Israel might agree to an easing of the blockade with international supervision at the crossings to inspect what goes in and out. But that wasn't good enough for Hamas.

Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas official who led the rally in Gaza said Hamas would never give up its arms under any circumstances and demanded Israel open its borders and lift the blockade.

Mushir told the crowd. "Our fingers are on the trigger and our rockets are trained on Tel Aviv, Lod and beyond".

This is the organization the Palestinians in Gaza elected to be their representative government and to act on their behalf. Again, they could have elected Abbas and the Palestinian Authority and there would be no blockade or border closings. And no war. But they didn't.

Now, as the cease fire has ended Palestinian negotiators in Egypt who want the blockade lifted say that Palestinians in Gaza deserve to live like normal people. Maybe they do but first they should start acting like it.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

How Hamas can have the Gaza blockade lifted: Leave Gaza.

With Hamas ending the cease fire by resuming the firing of rockets into Israel  as a result of Israel refusing to meet it's demands and the Israeli delegation leaving Cairo, negotiations which never had a chance in the first place are at an end.

The conventional wisdom in the current Israeli-Palestinian-Hamas conflict is that it's a complicated situatation. Conventional wisdom is never wise, precisely because its conventional and almost always misses the point, the simple and the obvious. And it does again.

The demand that Hamas has made is that Israel lift the blockade and border crossings that it put in place in 2007 after Hamas used those crossings to send human bombers into Israel to blow up buses, restarants, hotel dining rooms to kill Israeli civilians. They killed 1400 Israelis and wounded thousands more.

The sea blockade is to keep Hamas from being resupplied with rockets by Iran. The Egyptian border closing is to keep Hamas and Palestinians out of Egypt which the government there has always considered a threat and to keep Hamas from importing material that can be used for offensive purposes into Gaza.

It should be noted the UN has said the sea blockade is legitimate, legal and appropriate under international law.

Which makes the whole issue pretty simple. If Hamas really cares about the Palestinians in Gaza, if they really want them to be able to resume a more normal life and engage in trade and be able to freely enter into Israel, Hamas can get everything it wants for the Palestinians in Gaza. All they have to do is leave. As in lay  down their arms, let Israel or international monitors go in and destroy the rest of their rockets, then get out.

No Hamas, no rockets, no tunnels, no human bombers, no problem. The borders open, the blockade lifts, security forces from the Palestinian Authority and perhaps other international peace keepers prevents Hamas and the other terrorist groups like Islamic Jihad from returning and rearming  and things in Gaza get back to normal.

Its not complicated at all. Its simple. And easy. And there's precedent.  It wouldn't be the first time a ruler or a government stepped down for the good of its people. Even the Pope resigned when he thought he could no longer be effective.

But the Palestinians and their leadership who never wants to take responsibility for anything, who began the conflict in 1948 by refusing to accept the UN resolution that created the state of Israel and instead started 5 wars and multiple terrorist attacks since, who reneged on agreements like the Oslo Accords, then claims victimhood, sees everything in reverse to suit their own purposes. 

The Palestinian chief  negotiator issued a statement saying that the rockets " would stop if Israel lifted the blockade immediately".  The reality for everyone else is that the border crossings would reopen if Hamas left immediately. Or at the very least lived up to the Oslo Agreement which required the demilitariazation of Gaza. If Hamas is no longer a threat, the borders would reopen. When the Palestinian negotiators figure that out, then progress can be made. Not before.

 That Hamas refuses to agree to leave or disarm in return for the border crossings reopening is all anyone needs to know about Hamas' true motives and goals which has nothing to do with the Palestinians in Gaza or their well being but only to use Gaza as a base for attacking Israel. No more no less. It also reveals the "it's not our fault" attitude of Palestinians and their negotiators.

 The response from the Palestinian side  to Israel's demand that Hamas give up it's weapons is that Israel has no right to demand  a soverign elected government, which Hamas is in Gaza, to give up their military capabilities. Yet the Palestinian negotiators who live in their own world,   think Hamas has a right to demand that Israel , a soverign government, do what they demand with their borders and who Israel lets in to its own country. This is why the Palestinians are in the same place they've been for decades -- starting wars, losing them,  then making one sided demands -- also ignoring that Hamas is a terrorist organization who has no rights, moral standing or legitimacy.

Which is why Hamas could care less about civilian casualties most of whom, except for the children of Gaza, are supporters of Hamas and their actions anyway, have allowed their homes to be used to store rockets, build rockets, and launch rockets at Israel and allowed their homes to be used to dig the tunnels that Hamas planned to use  to attack Israeli civilians, something the news media chooses to ignore and why many homes were destroyed. And when it comes to children, there is an independent report by the Institute For Palestinian Studies, that documented in 2012 that Hamas used Palestinian children, clearly with the permission and support of their parents, to initially dig the attack tunnels until the tunnels were large enough for adults to continue the work. In the process, according to the report from the Institute For Palestinian Studies,  160 Palestinian children were killed digging those tunnels.  That is who Hamas is, that is who many of the Palestinians in Gaza are who let their children be used to dig tunnels to kill Israelis and their children and what the Israelis are dealing with. 

The demilitarization of Gaza, which is another way of saying de-fanging and declawing Hamas,  is non-negotiable for Israel and everyone knows it. And is provided for in the Oslo Accords. Except it seems Palestinian negotiators think that there is only the obligation for one side to live up to agreements and it isnt the Palestinians continuing to  ignore the requirements in the Oslo Accords. 

As long as the military wing of Hamas is armed and remains in Gaza there will be no lifting of anything. Except maybe lifting of the fascade Hamas uses that ending the blockade has anything to do with a better life for Palestinians in Gaza.

If Hamas wants the borders reopened and the sea blockade lifted, they could get it immediately.All they have to do is leave Gaza. And not let the door hit them on the way out.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Israeli Gaza conflict images CNN doesn't show.

Hamas has started still another war and has been firing rockets into Israel for three weeks demanding that Israel open the border crossings from Gaza into Israel.  The pictures above show why the border crossings have been closed since 2006.

They show the aftermath of Hamas human bombers sent into Israel to kill and maim Israeli civilians and women and children at a time the border crossings were open.

While CNN continues to show the Hamas fed and authorized video that Hamas uses as propaganda showing the rubble and civilian casualties that Hamas itself does everything it can to cause for their own propaganda purposes, to listen to CNN journalists showing the footage over and over again and lamenting the civilian casualties you would think that nothing related to the Israeli-Hamas conflict occurred before last Wednesday. They forget the carnage that occurred in Israel a few years ago caused by Hamas and their human bombers which is what led to the border closings in the first place. It's ignored by CNN so they can bring you the up to the minute video of rubble and casualties taking place in Gaza now, the result of Israel going after the tunnels and rockets Hamas has been firing for three weeks in trying to cause mass casualties. And going after  Hamas fighters themselves.

CNN and other news outlets have conveniently ignored the carnage in Israel which was caused by Hamas that is directly linked to what is happening in Gaza now. And why? Because it happened years ago and doesnt make as good television as what's happening in Gaza now?  Or maybe because it gets in the way of their other storyline, that the rockets fired by Hamas are really not doing that much damage while the Palestinians who support the rocket fire are really suffering. So the intent of Hamas to cause mass casualties is, for the news media, besides the point. It's only success that counts. Keeping score. 

Except the pictures above show the suffering Hamas caused in the past and would do again if it was able (there are images that are much worse than what you see here if youre inclined to do your own search).

Those pictures show what  Hamas did before the border closings and it's part of the reason the borders from Gaza into Israel are closed which Hamas has fired 2600 rockets to stupidly try and force Israel to re-open. But CNN forgets all that too. CNN also forgets that Hamas is in power in Gaza because the Palestinians who live there elected them, chose them in an election over the Palestinian Authority and Abbas knowing full well who Hamas was and what they do.

So while CNN  shows nothing but video of the casualties and rubble  in Gaza  they've forgotten about the casualties in Israel caused by Hamas and their human bombers  blowing up buses, a Sbarros crowded with mothers having lunch with their children, a Passover seder at a large Israeli hotel, or a crowded street, cafeteria, or school, in Israeli cities like Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa.

For weeks CNN and some other news outlets having been showing the Gaza video either provided by Hamas or with their permission and  the civilian casualties, something CNN eats up judging by how many times they show the same footage over and over again until they get something new. They show destroyed homes in Gaza but barely giving passing lip service to the fact that Hamas uses those civilian homes and structures to build rockets, store rockets, fire rockets and also to dig their tunnels. All with the permission or help of the Palestinian civilians living in those homes.  

And while CNN and others parade the casuality figures like it's a soccer match  (supplied only by Hamas and with UN cooperation though the UN has no way to confirm the truthfulness of the reports) they forget, as the photos above remind us,  that more than 1400 Israeli civilians were killed in those Hamas human bombings and tens of thousands more maimed and wounded. 

For perspective in terms of deaths and injuries it would be equal to the United States being subjected to 1,000 Boston Marathon bombings in American cities across the country.  That would be one Boston marathon type  bombing  either at an event, or a shopping mall, or a school  or on a bus and the attendent deaths and injuries, once a day, every day 7 days a week for 3 years.

Now imagine it was all the work of  single a foreign government and we knew who that government was and where.  There would not be a U.S. president, not even Obama, would not be compelled to use all the might of the U.S. military to attack that country and not stop until that government and their capability to conduct those attacks were completely destroyed. We would not just have boots on the ground but all the boots necessary to get the job done. No doubt many of their civilians, most of whom supported or aided or abetted the government doing the attacking would be killed or arrested. Just as most of the Palestinians in Gaza support, aid and abet Hamas, a small issue the journalists bringing you the awful pictures in Gaza refuse to bring up with the Palestinians on the street they interview. Not once has any journalist in Gaza ever asked a Palestinian if they voted for Hamas.

As any expert will tell you, Hamas is conducting a guerrilla war. As any expert will  also tell you its impossible for a fighting force to conduct a guerrilla war without the complete support of the civilian population who aid and abet them. And most of the adult civilians in Gaza do.

It must always be kept in mind that the adult civilians in Gaza are not hostages of Hamas. If the election results are valid ( and no one ever bothered to find out if they were), Hamas , a psychopathic group of killers and terrorists were duly elected as the  government of Gaza by the Palestinians in Gaza who knew just who they were. And this is the group they elected to represent them and act on their behalf.  That is about as innocent as the German people electing Hitler and supporting the Nazi party. Hamas has always and is now, acting for Hamas' own ends with the support and protection of the Palestinians in Gaza. Those civilians allow Hamas to store rockets in their homes. To build rockets in their homes. To fire rockets from their homes . And dig tunnels from their homes into Israel to kill Israelis and Israeli children. And now those Palestinian adults are having to deal with the consequences of who they chose to support. The children of course are innocent. Many of the adults are not.

When Wolf Blitzer interviews Osama Hamdan, the spokesman for Hamas and gives air time and equal weight and credibility to the people who caused the carnage in the pictures above and lets them lie as Blitzer always does, without challenge, (Don Lemon didn't ) he gives them legitimacy. And fuels their rocket fire. If he did that with a terrorist group who caused  equal damage in the U.S.  he'd be out of a job.  And probaby still should. Blitzer has proved to be a complete fool as a journalist, consistantly played for a fool by Hamas who uses him as nothing more than an official conduit for their lies and propaganda which he listens to, accepts, and can't muster the courage or integrity to stand up to or challenge during his interviews.

After looking at the pictures of what Hamas caused in Israel before the borders were closed, and watching the Hamas fed footage of casualties including tragically, the child casualties that Hamas loves and that  CNN runs on a loop, then watching Wolf Blitzer who thinks thinks he's being noble by giving the spokesman for the killers who caused whats in those pictures equal time for their point of view, repeating himself contantly as the video from Gaza plays, talking about the "horrible, horrible, terrible, terrible, awful awful,  " things happening in Gaza to ingratiate himself with Hamas so they'll do more interviews,  the Wolf Bltizer with a short memory, or maybe no memory at all or more likely no integrity, after having watched more video of the rubble and collapsed buildings in Gaza and  thinking yes, war is hell, now, after looking at those pictures above and remembering why the borders are closed and that Hamas is still firing rockets into Israel trying to cause mass casualites and demanding those borders reopen,  its easy to understand why 97% of Israelis support the military offensive and why every time there is a huge explosion in Gaza caused by the Israeli military, it gives a lot of people a reason to cheer. At least as big a cheer as the media reports of cheers going up in the streets from the innocent civilians in Gaza every time they see Hamas launch another rocket.

NOTE: In terms of truth and honest reporting, the UN had been reporting for weeks that 80% of the casualties in Gaza are civilian. At first blush, the number was always preposterous and probably dishonest for a number of reasons. First, the UN has no direct access to the IDF figures of Hamas fighters killed, which the IDF announces periodically. Second, there is no way for the UN to independently confirm the percentage of civilian casualties to Hamas fighters for precisely that reason. And third, the civilian casualty figures are given to the UN by the Hamas controlled Health Ministry.

 More than a week ago when the death toll was 600, the UN said 80% were civilians. That would mean the Israelis killed 120 Hamas fighters.  But the IDF said independently at the time they had killed 246 Hamas fighters twice the number the UN claimed. If the IDF number is accurate (and its probably more accurate than the UN since the UN has no access to the number of Hamas fighters killed)  then the civilian toll would be 60% not 80%. Yes, still high although as pointed out above, many civilians have been actively engaged in aiding and abetting Hamas in the fighting and Hamas has widespread support for the rocket attacks. 

The UN is now backtracking to a degree on the percentage of civilian casualties and  now, instead of giving out that number as definitive they qualified it by saying they "think"  the civilian casualties are 80% no longer willing to give that percentage as a certainty.Which shows how  irresponsible the UN can be since if they weren't sure, if they couldnt really confirm the percentage of civilian casualites they had no business announcing inflammatory figures like that in the first place. And other figures say those numbers are wrong.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

It's not a Palestinian state Hamas wants but to win. Even if they can't.

As Hamas continues to send rockets into Israel after starting yet another war and the violence in Gaza rages,  it's important to remember that for more than five decades, the goal of the Palestinians was not to have their own state but to destroy Israel. It was never about creating but about destroying.

It was the Palestinians who violated international law in 1948  by rejecting the UN resolution that created the state of Israel and instead went to war with its allies to destroy it. They lost.

They  tried again in 1956,1967 and 1973. And again lost each war.  Then resorted to terrorism to try and achieve the same goal.  And, after some successes with terrorism, were thwarted at that too. It was only after all these attempts to destroy Israel failed, that their leadership decided to try and negotiate a peace arrangement which would give them their own state.

The problem is and has been they continue to make demands and insist on conditions only under which they will accept their own Palestinian state but most of those conditions are the same goals they couldn't get through war.

So instead of  negotiating their own state, instead of agreeing to peace proposals, the Palestinians have either tried to achieve their goals through terrorism, or have insisted on making demands that would never be met. 

In so doing they refuse to accept or acknowledge any responsibility for any of their own actions which have led, not to a Palestinian state, but the state they are in. And have been in for decades. 

One has to wonder what it is that makes Palestinian leadership think they are in a position to make demands in the first place. Their  leadership still refuses to accept that when you start five wars with the intention of destroying your neighbor and you lose every time, when you resort to terrorism to achieve the same goal and are eventually  thwarted there too,  when you refuse every peace proposal made for decades and instead resort to violence and lose,  it's not up to you to make the rules.  And you aren't in a position to make demands. As losers of the wars you start which had no moral justification, you're not in a position to  insist on the conditions that the other side, the winners, must accept in order to get what you want. Because the winner of wars, in this case Israel, will just say no to all the demands it won't accept. Which is what Israel has been doing for a long time. Which doesn't seem to stop the Palestinians from continuing to make them. And Israel from continuing to say no. Which is why the Palestinians have stayed in the same rut for decades. 

Even now the violence in Gaza which was started by Hamas launching missiles, continues because Hamas insists on making demands and refusing to stop unless their demands are met.  Demands which include opening the border crossings into Israel which Israel closed because Hamas sent human bombers through those crossings into Israel to kill civilians.

It is these security measures caused by the Palestinians themselves in trying to kill Israelis that now chafe  and anger them and  that Hamas demands be lifted. As if Hamas  themselves werent the reason for the border closings in the first place.

That Hamas started this latest round of violence is beyond question even though Palestinian spokesman are allowed to go on CNN and lie about it while Wolf Blitzer is happy to be their doormat. What has to be kept in mind is that Hamas is in Gaza because the Palestinians in Gaza elected Hamas to be their government by a  landslide margin. So they elect a virutally psychopathic group of terrorists to be their government who used the concrete Israel shipped to Gaza intended for building schools and homes to build terror tunnels, started another war, and now the Palestinians for the benefit of news cameras look at the Israeli offensive and yell "why"? 

Hamas has made clear for decades they have no interest in a two state solution but to defeat and destroy Israel. And every  Palestinian civilian in Gaza knew it when they elected Hamas. And now they try to blame Israel for what Hamas has brought them and for which they are complicit. 

This is the biggest problem with Palestinians and their leadership. They refuse to take responsibility for a single act that has put them in the position they are in. They refuse to take responsibility for a single war they started and lost.  They refuse to take responsibility for a single act of terrorism. The Palestinians in Gaza refuse to take responsibility for having elected psychopaths and terrorists to act on their behalf and who has brought them what they are living through now, knowing full well what Hamas stood for. 

They chafe under the conditions in Gaza and cry "seige"  but refuse to take responsibility for the human bomber attacks that killed Israelis and entered Israel through the border crossings. Which, in a display of arrogance and stupidty Hamas thinks they can force Israel to reopen. As if Hamas can demand what another country does with it's borders which remains close because of the attacks Palestinians made on Israel.

In 2000 Bill Clinton convinced prime minister Ehud Barak to destroy his own political career by making concessions to the Palestinians that no other prime minister before or since has been willing to make in the name of a peace settlement that would have created a Palestinian state which included partitioning part of East Jerusalem for the capitol of a Palestinian state, something most Israelis opposed,  and withdrawing from the West Bank. Arafat rejected it and answered with the Infitada, terrorist attacks to kill more Israelis.  Had that proposal been accepted, the Palestinians would now be in the 14th year of their own state. 

It was reported  years later, that on his death bed Arafat admitted he made a mistake and should have taken the deal. Which recalls the statement by Shimon Peres that Arafat never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

Arafat saying he made a mistake in rejecting the peace deal should be put on billboards all over the Palestinian territories and Gaza to remind the Palestinians of what they could have had and don't because of the obstinacy and rank  stupidity of their own leaders. That Arafat turned it down is no one's fault but the Palestinian leadership and those who supported them,  a responsibility Palestinian leadership even today still refuse to accept.

Saeb Erakat, the chief Palestinian negotiator and who was there in 2000 when the offer was made said as recently as this week in an interview on CNN amid the Israeli invasion of Gaza to destroy Hamas' ability to launch rockets into Israel,  that he wished Bill Clinton had been successful in 2000 in negotiating a peace settlement. This is the Palestinian reality and  obstinacy in refusing to accept responsibility for their own failures and by refusing 'to acknowledge that Bill Clinton was successful in negotiating a peace settlement. With  Ehud Barak and Israel. He twisted Barak's arm and got Barak to agree to concessions including the partioning of East Jerusalem  that no other prime minister before or since was willing to make. Or probably ever will. It was Arafat and the Palestinians and Erakat himself who was part of the negotiations at the time who rejected it then answered by launching the Infitada and more terrorist attacks. Something Erakat now refuses to face. What they do have to face is that in all probability no Israeli government will make the same concessions Barak was willing to make. It was an opportunity squandered by the Palestinians themselves  and it is up to them to acknowledge the opportunity they wasted, accept that it was their failure , accept that it is they who have to pay the price for their own failures and then maybe they will be more open to accepting what they can get now.

That Israel has been willing to negotiate at all is in and of itself a departure from what happens when a hostile entity starts wars and loses.  But Palestinian leadership is still trying to win by dictating demands, and insisting they be met before they will agree to a peace deal in which they will have the state they say they want. Just as Hamas says they will refuse to stop firing rockets unless Israel meets their demands, demands they have no moral standing to make or ability to enforce, to solve a problem of their own making.

After the Six Day War in which it was defeated, Egypt made a peace deal with Israel in return for Israel giving back the Sinai Peninsula which it captured during the war. The peace deal has held for 40 years. Egypt was able to do what the Palestinians have been incapable of doing.  Which, it seems,  they also want to blame on Israel.

People say the problem is complicated. It isn't. It's simple. If the Palestinians do exactly the opposite of what they've been doing for decades which has been to wage war and commit terrorist atrocities  they will achieve the opposite results.  Instead they make war, conduct acts of terror and then cloak themselves in victim hood when their demands are not met and Israel fights back.

Even now, its clear that  Hamas lives in a world of self delusion making demands they have no power, no leverage, no legitimacy and no moral standing to make. Every condition from which they say they demand relief is the result of Hamas and the Palestinians own making since every measure Israel has taken that angers them has been for security against their attacks against Israeli citizens. 

And even now Hamas continues to simply brazenly lie about the entire situation and does what they can to pile up as many Palestinian casualites as they can to use as propaganda that the news media eats up.

 Yet to those Palestinians, Hamas are heroes.  This is the lunacy of Palestinian leadership.

Its been the Palestinians who have rejected every peace proposal that's been offered because their "demands" are not being met.  Its not their idea of "winning".  Giving up their idea that a peace deal that doesn't include their demands is losing is the only way they can finally win. 

The Palestinians have only one legitimate grievance, the expansion of settlements in the West Bank. If  they agreed to every other condition most of which relates to security which is an issue solely because of Palestinian  past actions, and agree to it as long as the settlement expansion stops, Netanyahu would either have to agree or he would probably be replaced in the next election by a prime minister who would.

Abbas and the Palestinians  could have their own state tomorrow if that's what they really wanted. All they would have to do is go to Netanyahu and ask what it will take to have their own state right now. Not next month or next year. Now. Then accept the best deal they can get after  decades of trying to destroy Israel and failing, negotiate an end to the settlements, raise their flag wherever they are able, and start to build.   

But for now, for the Palestinian leadership  having their own state doesn't seem to be enough. And its nothing Hamas wants. Instead Hamas wants to be able to say they won. And force Palestinians to continue to live in the current two state solution -- the state of Israel and the state the Palestinians are in.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

After Malaysian shoot down will the world finally get tough with Putin and the rebels?

The thugs,criminals and  terrorists supported by Russia who have been trying to commit an armed robbery of eastern Ukraine on behalf of  their Russian bosses and have already defined themselves as criminals long before,  are now officially mass murderers after shooting down a commerical airliner and killing 295 civilians including 80 children.

They, as well as Putin have now become world pariahs. And they have made it worse for themselves with their lies and denials, and their attempts at keeping world investigators away from the crash scene. 

The separtists have now become and will always remain criminals and be looked on with contempt.  Sergov, the Russian foreign minister has become a world laughing stock with his attempts to pin the downing of the plane on the Ukrainian government. And the Russian backed terrorists have been engaged in, along with denying access to the crash site, obstructing justice by tampering and destroying evidence, treating the dead with no respect, and continuing to act like the thugs they are,  and insuring their place as objects of world derision.

The question is, how much will the world continue to put up with it? With the separtists denying free access to the crash site only compounding their crime, the Netherlands, who lost 189 nationals have called the rebel behavior "disgusting". And have given Putin a warning that this is his last chance to force the rebels to stand down and allow access to the site. The EU will meet Tuesday to discuss further sanctions which so far have been laughed at by both Putin and the rebels. And a UN resolution has no chance of being anything but tepid since Russia has veto power over any resolution. If the separtists continue to refuse unfettered access to the crash site, the Netherlands should consider using force if necessary to get the free access to the site they deserve. They should be ready to ask Kiev for permission to send troops to dislodge the separtists, gain access to the site and anything else investigators need if that's what its going to take.

The Royal Netherlands army numbers 21,500 full time troops. That doesnt sound like much but it is more than the separatist fighters. They should be prepared to send those troops to Ukraine and then, with the Ukraine military, commence a joint operation to get rid of the rebels, wipe them out and remove their control of the crash site.

Ukraine cant do it alone. Not because they dont have the fire power -- they do. And Porschenko may be regretting a decision -- an understandable one at the time, to deal with the separtists who retreated to Donesk by not bombing the city and destroying infrustructure which eventually might become inevitable if that's what it takes to defeat the Russian proxy fighters. But the site of the crash is too sensitive a place for Ukraine to commence a military operation on its own to dislodge and destroy the Russian terrorists controlling the area. But the Netherlands has the moral authority to do just that. And would have the backing of the whole world. As would the Ukrainian military in helping them.

As long as the separtists refuse to allow unfettered access to the crash  site, refuse to preserve the site and the evidence, no one would or could reproach the Netherlands for taking military action, in conjunction with Ukraine to attack and remove the separistists who are both responsible for shooting down the plane and now obstructing access to the site. In fact they would be cheered on.

And what would Putin do? Declare war on the Netherlands? Assist the separatists and send weapons and fighters into Ukraine to fight the coalition force from Ukraine and the Royal Dutch Army at the crash site after being an accessory to murdering 295 civilians? And become even more of a world pariah?

 Putin would do nothing.  If he tried to aid the separtists in their attempts at denying full and free access to the site, the world would have no choice but impose sanctions that would cripple Russia.And they still might.  And a Russian attempt to aid the separtists militarily now  is  something Putin would not gamble on doing.

Its time the rest of the world got tough with the separtists acting as a proxy for Moscow,  label them for what they are, and get tough with Moscow while Ukraine gets tough with the separtists who are now officially mass murderers.

The prime minister of the Netherlands has vowed that those who brought down the plane would be punished. There's no reason not to start right now.

NOTE: It's being reported that Ukraine has launched a major military offensive to retake the Donesk region where the rebels have been controlling checkpoints and the crash site. It is a smart move since undoubtedly the world will support it and Putin is now in no positon to do a thing to help the rebels either with fighters or equipment.

ADDITIONAL NOTE(7/25): It seems Putin thinks he is in a position to do something about it, continuing to send more heavy weapons to the rebels in Ukraine. But both Austrailia and the Netherlands have announced they are going to send armed police, 200 by Austrailia, 50 by the Netherlands to secure the crash site so investigators who still havent had unfettered access can do their work. It's not too late but it may be too little. Reports are that the rebels are getting "impatient" with the process. If they reach a point where they refuse access to investigators, then 250 armed police may not be enough and it will be time those countries who had victims aboard MH-17,  to send as many armed troops as neccessary with whatever weapons are neccessary to deal with the rebels.  And see what Putin decides to do about that.

Friday, July 11, 2014

How Obama lost Israel and the Palestinians before he was even elected.

With the relentless rocket fire continuing to come from Hamas in their futile but continuing attempt to cause mass casualites in Israel, and Israeli self defense forces using air strikes and a ground invasion to take out the capability of Hamas to fire them, John Kerry as Obama's representative has been virutally useless in getting a cease fire just as the Obama administration has been a vitual non-entity in getting anything accomplished in the Middle East fsince Obama's election.

The fault does not lie with Kerry. It goes back to even before Obama was elected and Obama's say anything at any time to whomever you have to say it to, no matter how reckless and irresponsible as long as there is some percieved political advantage for him.   And the consequences of that are,  even now,despite Kerry's shuttling, that  the United States has little or no credibility or influence on anyone in the  events currently unfolding in Israel and Gaza, or before.

But this didnt happen overnight. It happened in 2008, while Obama was running for president and became hoisted on his own petard over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,  and in the process destroyed his credibility as a peace broker  with both for all time.

It happened in 2008 when Obama gave a campaign speech to AIPAC - - the American -Israel Public Affairs Committee, in Washington D.C.  That speech and it's most controversial statement, designed purely for political purposes to gain the votes he believed he needed to win an election,  had serious consequence at the time, and even more now,  highlighted again  by the events raging in Israel and Gaza.

Though it had been 8 years earlier, Florida in the 2000 presidential election with it's  hanging chads and hand counted ballots which ultimately gave the presidency to George W. Bush it was something still fresh in the minds of most Democrats in 2008 and the conventional wisdom was that Florida again could be decisive in winning or losing the presidency in 2008.

Mindful of Florida's importance and its significant  Jewish population, Obama scheduled a campaign speech to be made to the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee  in Washington in June of 2008.

Obama spoke to a packed house, and in that speech Obama declared his unequivocal support for a single, undivided, unified Jerusalem to be now and always,  the capital of Israel. He stated that any agreement with the Palestinians " must preserve Israel's identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognizable and defensive borders, and Jerusalem will remain the capitol of Israel and it must remain undivided".

With Jerusalem being the most contentious issue in peace negotiations, with all of Jerusalem being the current capitol of Israel, including East Jerusalem captured during the Six Day War, and with Palestinians claiming East Jerusalem as a future capitol for a Palestinian state, Obama's statement gave him what he wanted. A standing ovation from the 7,000 +  Jewish-American attendees in the audience and the prospect of winning the all important Jewish vote in all important Florida.

But Obama also got something he didn't bargain for. But should have.  The following day, when the Palestinian leadership and the Arab world heard about his speech they went predictably ballistic.

Because in the long and tortuous road to trying to find an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement, the issue of  the final status of Jerusalem and East Jerusalem was the single most contentious, divisive, and controversial of all the issues to be resolved.

Because of this, every negotiator or team of negotiators in every administration over the last 50 years attempting to forge a peace deal, even those who privately supported a unified Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel,  insisted that the final status of Jerusalem be saved for last.

The reasoning was simple --  if negotiations between both sides could get to the point where all  other issues had been resolved and compromises made and the final issue to be resolved, the last hurdle, was the final status of Jerusalem and East Jerusalem in particular, both sides would be more inclined to make whatever compromises might be necessary to seal a deal and make the elusive two state solution a reality rather than see all the concessions, compromises, hard work and agreements previously made fall by the wayside.

So for Obama to essentially render negotiations useless from the very beginning as far as the Palestinians were concerned and to publicly proclaim before even being elected much less before a single negotiating session was scheduled, that the Palestinians had no chance of gaining even a sliver of East Jerusalem as the capitol of a Palestinian state, not only infuriated and enraged the Palestinians and the Arab world, but  by any measure,considering the seriousness and importance of that single issue, how contentious and emotionally charged it is for both sides, and vital to a peace deal,  Obama's speech could rightly be called, incompetent,  reckless, self serving, negligent, irresponsible, even stupid. It was said purely for his own political gain which showed how unqualified he really was for the office he was seeking.

For Obama or any presidential candidate to have made such a public declaration even if he believed it privately, and do it in a campaign speech over such a contentious issue, one that had bedeviled so many for so long,  especially since the United States needed to be seen as an honest broker between the parties even in light of its alliance with Israel, betrayed an incompetence and lack of an ability to grasp the seriousness of a major foreign policy issue left everyone in disbelief.  Even if that proved in the end to be the final status of Jerusalem, he couldnt have said anything to undermine the United States role in the peace process that any more incompetent.

Yet Obama managed to make things worse.

Less than 24 hours later, after Obama learned of  the Palestinian reaction which should have been no surprise, Obama tried to do what he has done many times before and since and has become famous for --  he reversed himself and backed away from his statement in a way that he thought would allow him to save face,  reverse course,  do damage control or undo the damage he did,  and hope others would swallow his explanation.

Obama claimed that everyone, the news media, the Israelis, the Palestinians, everyone,  simply misunderstood him.   He claimed that when he said he supported a unified single undivided Jerusalem,  he didn't mean a single Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel after all. Instead he claimed he meant  " a Jerusalem with no barbed wire".Which once again proved that Obama believed in nothing and his words are only designed to get whatever personal advantage he thinks his words might bring at the time. 

As everyone knew there hadn't been any barbed wire in Jerusalem since 1967 when East Jerusalem was captured by the Israelis in the Six Day War. So Obama trying to claim that he only meant that he was supporting something that had already been a reality for 41 years was met with more disbelief and even derision than his original statement. And mocked.

And made matters even worse. 

Obama's backtracking infuriated many Jews in the United States and Israelis and even before his election soured his future relationship with Netanyahu for all time which continues to this day. He also soured his relationship with Abbas.  And as a result of alienating both sides  it's understandable that Obama has had less influence over the Israeli-Palestinian issue than any president before him. He began with no credibility with either side even before he was elected and he still has no credibility. It was also the beginning of the end of Obama's credibility in the Middle East on any level  and, as the world has seen, eliminated any chance to broker a peace deal.

Obama's two faced approach was even more solidfied when, as recently as Sept. 2012 the State Department refused to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel in a complete about face from Obama's 2008 speech,  and stated that "the status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in final status negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians". 

With Hamas firing hundreds of rockets a day into Israel and Israel retailiating by destroying Hamas' ability to make war, Obama, almost feebly, claimed he was ready to broker a peace deal. It was, predictably ignored by everyone, including Netanyahu, Abbas, even leaders of other countries since it was accepted reality that Obama had no leverage and no credibility with anyone. And if anyone needs more proof that Obama himself knows he has no leverage, its how conspicuoulsy absent he is from both any negotiations and any public statements leaving it all up to Kerry.

If  Obama accomplished anything in that 2008 speech, it's that he did manage to do something that no other president has been able to do and it has continued throughout his presidency.  And that is, he united the Israelis and the Palestinians on one important issue.  Their mutual contempt for him. And distrust.