Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Israel "apartheid" is a malicious slander

From JPost, 25 Aug 2015:

Boycott Israel sign
Boycott Israel sign. (photo credit:REUTERS)

A South African member of parliament said in an interview with Channel 10 Monday that Israel does not resemble the apartheid regime he grew up under, and spoke out against the BDS movement in the wake of a recent controversy involving Matisyahu.

Kenneth Rasalabe Joseph Meshoe, President of the African Christian Democratic Party, who is currently on a week-long visit to Israel, expressed his great admiration for the Jewish State in a brief interview with channel 10 and explained why it was inaccurate to call Israel an apartheid state.

"There are many Christians that support Israel, but they don't come out...Those who know what real apartheid is, as I know, know that there is nothing in Israel that looks like apartheid," Meshoe said, adding that those who voice support for Israel are usually faced with threats and "intimidation."

Meshoe went on to say that calling Israel an apartheid state "is an empty political statement that does not hold (any) truth," adding,"You see people of different colors, backgrounds and religions," interacting with each other everyday.  

The topic of conversation then touched upon the recent controversy concerning American Jewish singer Matisyahu, who was disinvited then reinvited to perform at a Spanish reggae concert after BDS organizers attempted to block the artist from performing.

"The BDS movement is a real pain... to us in South Africa who love the truth, (the) BDS movement is not a democratic movement; they are a movement of intimidation, a movement that performs hatred," the parliamentarian said. "People who don't believe in hatred should not allow the BDS movement to stop them from doing the right thing."

Meshoe is a well-known advocate of Israel in South Africa, battling the the narrative purported by the BDS movement that the Jewish State is an apartheid regime, and recently released a short video claiming that "slander" against Israel as an apartheid state is "malicious." 

"There is a widespread allegation, really a slander, that Israel is an apartheid state. That notion is simply wrong. It is inaccurate and it is malicious."

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

New Israel Fund: still demonising Israel

On August 20, NGO Monitor published an analysis of the latest available financial reports from the New Israel Fund (NIF), dealing with the facts and figures from 2014. 

...approximately 18% of NIF funding goes to 28 advocacy NGOs that are active, to varying degrees, in political campaigns that involve demonization of Israel, including BDS and lawfare.

....NIF funding for political advocacy NGOs such as Adalah, B'Tselem, Breaking the Silence, and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel increased significantly. These NGOs were also featured in the report of the United Nations Human Rights Council's Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza War (the Schabas-Davis report). (See here for more details on the involvement of NIF-funded NGOs in the UN commission.) 

Funding also continued to a number of radical fringe NGOs such as Social TV, +972 Magazine, and Human Rights Defenders Fund.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Jewish demographic tailwind

From The Ettinger Report, 1 August 2015, by Yoram Ettinger:


In 1898, the top Jewish demographer, Simon Dubnov, projected 0.5mn Jews in Israel in 2000. He was off by 5.5mn Jews. 

In 1944, the founder of Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, Prof. Roberto Bacchi, projected 2.3mn Jews in 2001, a 33% minority. He was wrong by 3.7mn Jews. 

In 2015, there are 6.5mn Jews and 3.4mn Arabs in the combined area of Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel: a 66% majority, benefitting from a fertility and migration tailwind.

In June 2015, there is a 1.1mn gap between the real number of Arabs in Judea & Samaria (1.7mn) and the number claimed by the Palestinians (2.8mn).

The 1.1mn excess consists of the inclusion of 400,000 Arabs living abroad for over a year, in defiance of internationally accepted standards, which stipulate their inclusion in the count of their new country of residence.

The 300,000 Jerusalem Arabs are doubly-counted as Israeli Arabs, by Israel, and as Palestinians by the Palestinian Authority.

A 32% excess in the number of births claimed by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics was documented by The World Bank in a September 7, 2006 study.

While the Palestinians claimed net annual immigration, annual net-emigration of Judea & Samaria Arabs has been documented since 1950. For example, a 25,000 net-emigration was documented in 2014, 20,000 in 2013, 17,000 in the four prior years.  

Over 100,000 Palestinians, who received Israeli ID cards as a result of marrying Israeli Arabs, are doubly-counted as Israelis and Palestinians. 

The Arab population growth rate, in Judea & Samaria, trends sharply downward as a result of surging modernity: expanded education among women, declining teen pregnancy, higher wedding age, shorter reproductive age, intensified use of contraceptives, rapid urbanization and youth emigration. Judea & Samaria Arab fertility rate was 5 births per woman in 2000 and 2.76 births in 2015. Median age was 17 in 2000 and 22.4 in 2015.

Westernization of fertility rate characterizes all Muslim countries other than the sub-Sahara: Iran – 1.8 births per woman, Saudi Arabia – 2.3, Syria – 2.5, Egypt – 2.9, North Africa – 1.8, Jordan – 3.4.

In 2015, Israel's fertility rate (above 3 births per woman) is higher than all Arab countries other than Yemen, Iraq and Jordan.

A 68% increase in the annual number of Jewish births has occurred from 1995 (80,000) to 2014 (136,000), despite a moderate decline in the Ultra-Orthodox fertility rate. Modernity (integration) has lowered Israeli Arab fertility rate, stabilizing the annual number of Arab births at 40,000 during the same period.

The Arab-Jewish gap of fertility was reduced from 6 births in 1969 to 0.3 in 2015. 

The current potential of a 500,000 Aliyah wave (Jewish immigration) in five years - preconditioned upon a pro active Israeli Aliyah policy, which has been absent since 1992 - further bolsters the future of Jewish demography west of the Jordan River.

Demographic reality sheds light on the systematic squandering of the American taxpayers' money by the Palestinian Authority, which receives annual foreign aid, based - partly - on highly inflated numbers.

Once again, conventional so-called wisdom is refuted by reality. The demographic trend is Jewish. Anyone claiming that Israel must concede geography (Judea & Samaria), in order to secure demography is either dramatically mistaken or outrageously misleading.

What do Palestinian Arabs REALLY want?

From Fikra Forum, 21 Aug 2015, by David Pollock:

....In a mid-June poll conducted by the Palestine Center for Public Opinion (based in Beit Sahour, the West Bank), 52 percent of Palestinians living in Israeli-ruled East Jerusalem said they would prefer to be citizens of Israel with equal rights – compared with just 42 percent who would opt to be citizens of a Palestinian state.

This remarkable result confirms and extends a trend first observed five years ago.

In a similar poll in September 2010, one-third picked Israeli over Palestinian citizenship; by September 2011, that proportion had risen to 40 percent. As of today it has risen again to just over half. This is dramatically different from results in the West Bank or Gaza, where a mere 4 percent and 12 percent, respectively, would prefer Israeli citizenship. The latest poll was based on personal interviews by local survey professionals of a representative, geographic probability sample of 504 East Jerusalem Palestinians and comparable samples in the West Bank and Gaza, with a statistical margin of error of approximately 4.5 percent in each area.

In the earlier polls, East Jerusalem respondents mostly cited practical reasons for this preference: better jobs, income, health care and other social benefits, freedom of travel, and the like. Their Israeli residence permits (“blue identity cards”) already provide such advantages over West Bank residents, and they increasingly want to retain those advantages as the Israeli economy prospers while the West Bank stagnates. Similarly, in the current poll, around half (47 percent) say they would take a good job inside Israel. But since such benefits are available to them today even without Israeli citizenship, social taboos and the great practical difficulties of applying for that citizenship mean that only a very small proportion have actually acquired that full formal status to date.

Their everyday access to Israel has probably also made Jerusalem’s Palestinians more sanguine about that country’s long-term future. A majority (62 percent) think Israel will still exist, as either a Jewish or a bi-national state, in 30 or 40 years – compared with just 47 percent of West Bankers and 42 percent of Gazans who think so. They are also somewhat more aware of the city’s history, if perhaps not so much as might be expected. Thirty percent of East Jerusalem’s Palestinians, as against a mere 18 percent of West Bankers, say that there were Jewish kingdoms and temples in Jerusalem in ancient times.

In some other respects, too, East Jerusalem Palestinians have acquired relatively moderate attitudes toward Israel. A stunning 70 percent say they would accept the formula of “two states for two peoples – the Palestinian people and the Jewish people.”

In the West Bank, the comparable figure is 56 percent; in Gaza, 44 percent. An equally noteworthy 40 percent in East Jerusalem say that “Jews have some rights to the land along with the Palestinians” – as against just 13 percent in the West Bank or 11 percent in Gaza. And concerning Jerusalem itself, only 23 percent of its Palestinian residents insist on Palestinian sovereignty over the entire city – just half the percentage with that view in either the West Bank or Gaza.

This does not mean that Jerusalem’s Palestinians are moderate in every respect. For example, 55 percent say that even after a two-state solution, they would still want to “liberate all of historic Palestine,” though not necessarily to expel or disenfranchise Israeli Jews. Combined with their comparatively widespread preference for Israeli citizenship, this may indicate a drift among East Jerusalem Palestinians toward a “one-state solution.” Meanwhile, however, a majority (61 percent) also offer at least verbal support for “armed struggle and car attacks against the occupation.” This figure is somewhat lower than among West Bankers or Gazans, but not by much.

Most surprising of all in this connection are the findings about partisan affinity. Fully 39 percent of East Jerusalem Palestinians say that Hamas “most closely represents your political affiliation.” Possibly this is in part because they are relatively religious; 37 percent pick “being a good Muslim” as their first or second personal priority, from a list of ten diverse options. But even more (47 percent) East Jerusalemites say they are politically “independent.” These numbers may also be somewhat skewed by the reality that Fatah and the Palestinian Authority (PA) are not allowed to operate officially in Jerusalem.

Interestingly, declared support for Hamas is only half as high in Gaza, whose residents have had to live under actual Hamas rule since 2007. And in the West Bank, where the PA rules and sometimes arrests Hamas activists, a mere 11 percent openly affiliate with that party. A plurality of 44 percent identify as “independent.”

Beyond the intrinsic interest of these surprising survey findings, there may be several broader political lessons here.

First, the findings suggest that benefits from practical coexistence may produce a more moderate mindset.

Second, partisan affiliation may not be a good guide to underlying attitudes.

And third, most important, those who care about both democracy and peace would do well to pay more attention to the desires of the Palestinians who actually live in Jerusalem, not just of those who claim to speak on their behalf from outside the city.

Obama's "strategy"

John Kerry introduces Admiral Ace Lyons to speak at a private meeting



James Aloysius "Ace" Lyons, Jr. (born September 28, 1927) is a retired Admiral in the United States Navy who served as Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet.

On Obama's "strategy"
...It's anti-American, anti-Western...
...it's pro-Islamic, pro-Iranian, and pro-Muslim Brotherhood

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

700,000 Jews presently resident in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, reside there legitimately

From

July 30, 2015
Mr. Ban Ki-Moon,
Secretary-General of the United Nations
1st Avenue and 44th Street
New York, NY 10017

Excellency,

Re:  Your declaration that: "Settlements are illegal under international law"

On Wednesday July 29, you responded to Israeli government decision to build 300 new apartments in Beit -El, by saying that " The Settlements are illegal under international law".

As the chairman of the Legal forum for Israel, that includes attorneys from across the world , involved in international law, as well as being closely concerned with the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, I want to clearly point out, that your declaration has no basis in international law, and the time has come to tell the world the truth.

The legal basis for the establishment of the State of Israel was the resolution unanimously adopted by the League of Nations in 1922, affirming the establishment of a national home for the Jewish People in the historical area of the Land of Israel. This included the areas of Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem, and Jewish settlement throughout such as Beit-El, an ancient Jewish village mentioned several times in the Bible. This was subsequently affirmed by both houses of the US Congress.

Article 80 of the UN Charter determines the continued validity of the rights granted to all states or peoples, or already existing international instruments (including those adopted by the League of Nations). Accordingly the above-noted League resolution remains valid, and the 700,000 Jews presently resident in the areas of Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, reside there legitimately.

"The 1967 borders" do not exist, and have never existed. The 1949 armistice agreements entered into by Israel and its Arab neighbors, establishing the armistice demarcation lines, clearly stated that these lines "are without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines or to claims of either party relating thereto".

The Palestinians entered into the various agreements constituting what is known as the "Oslo Accords" in the full knowledge that Israel's settlements existed in the areas, imposing no limitation on building new homes in Judea, Samaria or Jerusalem, for Arabs or Jews, especially in a place like Beit-El, that was re-established as a modern Jewish community, 20 years prior to the Oslo accords.

Eugene Rostow, former Dean of Yale University law school, and the US undersecretary of state, who worded UN resolution 242, stated that "The Jews have a right to settle in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria just as they have the right to settle in Haifa or Tel Aviv".

We trust that you will protect the UN and its integrity and retract your declaration regarding the "illegality" of the settlements, because it is simply not true.

Sincerely,

Yossi Fuchs, Adv.
Chairman of Legal forum for Israel



Cc: Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister
Mrs. Ayelet Shaked, Minister of Justice
Mrs, Tzipi Hotoveli, Deputy Minister of foreign Affairs
Dr. Dori Gold, CEO Ministry of foreign Affairs
Ambassador Ron Prosor, Israel's Permanent Representative to the United Nations

Monday, August 17, 2015

Congrees must act NOW

From The Washington Times, Sunday, August 16, 2015 b




Illustration on the loss of U.S. military options after the Obama/Iran nuclear arms deal takes effect by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times
Illustration on the loss of U.S. military options after the Obama/Iran nuclear arms deal takes effect by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times
Defending the Iran nuclear deal he negotiated in Vienna, Secretary of State John Kerry has repeatedly asserted ... that all options which the United States possesses today to stop Iran going nuclear will be there for a future U.S. president in 10 years.

Similarly, President Obama breezily assures us, “The same options that are available to me today will be available to any U.S. president in the future.”

Were it only true.

The major options available to the president in the face of an Iranian nuclear threat are covert (sabotage, cyberwarfare) and military (precision airstrikes with bunker-busting bombs). 

Mr. Obama has these at his disposal today. But his successor is unlikely to have them in 10 years.

Why? For seven reasons.

First, amazingly, the Vienna nuclear agreement requires the Europeans to assist Iran with training and technology in protecting its nuclear sites and program against sabotage. It is no coincidence that, in 2013, when Mr. Obama deviated from his earlier insistence on Tehran ceasing uranium enrichment in favor of negotiating a deal permitting continued enrichment, the CIA and NSA “drastically curtailed its cooperation with Israel.” This cooperation, aimed at disrupting the Iranian nuclear project, had enjoyed “significant successes over the past decade,” according to veteran military and intelligence analyst Ronen Bergman.

The nuclear deal thus renders future sabotage and cyberwarfare against Iran — such as the Stuxnet virus, which wrecked a fifth of Iran’s centrifuges in 2010 — more difficult; perhaps, in time, even impossible.

Second, Mr. Obama has himself admitted the possibility that, at the deal’s expiration, “the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero.” (So much for his current claim that “Iran [would be] further away from a weapon” in 10-15 years). This means there might not be time to act even militarily, since Iran may well already have one or more nuclear weapons.

Third, Tehran will have had the time to reinforce existing underground facilities and build new, deeper ones that might be impervious to airstrikes. This means that the 30,000-pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator, the bunker-busting bombs which can penetrate Iran’s underground nuclear facility at Fordow, might not be enough to do the job.

Fourth, Russia is already set to sell Iran its upgraded S-300 anti-aircraft system. The S-300 system is believed to have the capacity to knock out the latest American aircraft. The best weapon in the world is useless if the planes carrying it can’t get through.

Fifth, the nuclear deal permits Tehran continued research, development and production of its own missiles, including Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), the means of delivery for nuclear weapons. This particularly should have been rejected by the White House: Iran already has the missiles to strike Israel, but ICBMs will enable Iran to hit the United States, not now, but certainly in 10 years.

Sixth, the nuclear agreement will award Iran $150 billion in unfrozen assets and tens of billions annually in sanctions relief, enabling it to develop faster its military capabilities and lavishly fund its terror proxies around the globe. This means tens of thousands of new missiles for Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and for the Shia Houthis taking over Yemen and threatening commerce through the Suez Canal. The existing Iranian potential to retaliate against and harm American allies in the Middle East will be vastly magnified in 10 years, making any U.S. strike on Iran more complicated.

Seventh, this agreement terminates international sanctions and, if the Congress approves it or fails to override a presidential veto, U.S. sanctions will also be ended. Failing internationally-recognized Iranian violations, the United States will not be able to reimpose sanctions in the face of the now-UN Security Council-approved nuclear deal that lifts them. And even if sanctions are reimposed, it will take years for these to have any real impact on Iran.

In other words, today, America has the ordnance, the capability and the time to destroy Iranian nuclear facilities without fear of anti-ballistic missiles or nuclear retaliation. It is likely to lack all of these advantages in 10 years.

So much for President Obama’s “same options” being “available to any U.S. president in the future.” So much for Secretary Kerry’s claim that U.S. options remain the same for 10 years.

Mr. Obama’s and Mr. Kerry’s flat-earth, rosy assertions about America’s future capacity to deal with an Iran headed for nuclear weapons warrant the Congress to oppose this deal. 

A future president could well use the moral, political and legal authority of Congressional rejection — as well as the consequent impediments this will create for other countries lifting their sanctions — to have a stronger hand in dealing with the nightmare President Obama is bequeathing us.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Israel has every right to criticise Iran N-deal

From: The AustralianAugust 15, 2015, by Alan Dershowitz:


Barack Obama’s condemnation of Israel ‘is an absurd and dangerous accusation that should
Barack Obama’s condemnation of Israel ‘is an absurd and dangerous accusation that should be universally condemned’.
Source: AFP

US President Barack Obama has accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of improperly interfering in US foreign policy by actively opposing the Iran nuclear deal.
In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, Mr Obama said he couldn’t recall a similar example where a foreign head of government had injected himself into an American political debate. He continued: “The Prime Minister is wrong on this. And I think that I can show that the basic assumptions that he’s made are incorrect.”
This is an absurd and dangerous accusation that should be universally condemned. From Lafayette to Churchill, foreign leaders have tried, with varying degrees of success, to influence US foreign policy, as well they should when their national interests are at stake. Indeed, earlier this year, British Prime Minister David Cameron was personally lobbying senators regarding the Iranian nuclear negotiations; so, too, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Israel has a considerable stake in the Iran deal, a stake far greater than the members of the P5 plus one that negotiated the deal, yet it was excluded from the negotiation. It would be irresponsible for any democratically elected leader of Israel not to try to influence the congressional debate over the deal. Israel is the primary intended target of an Iranian nuclear arsenal.
This was made clear in 2004 when its former president, Hashemi Rafsanjani, a supposed moderate, boasted that were Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, it would kill as many as five million Jews. He later elaborated that “the dropping of one atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel”. Despite Iran’s participation in negotiations, such rhetoric has continued unabated.
In May, General Yahya Rahim Safavi, a military adviser to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, stated that Iran and its allies had more than 80,000 rockets ready to fire and that “Iran, with the help of Hezbollah and its friends, is capable of destroying Tel Aviv and Haifa”. This was followed last month by Khamenei himself stating “Israel’s security will not be ensured whether there will be an Iran deal or not.”
Britain, Germany, France, Russia and China have little to fear from a nuclear Iran. The US does have something to fear but not as much as Israel. The risk- benefit ratios are very different for each country.
Yet Israel, which has had little or no input into the negotiations or final deal, is being asked by Obama to silently accept the consequences of what it regards as a bad and dangerous deal. Imagine if the shoe were on the other foot: if other countries had negotiated a deal involving our security but we had been excluded from the negotiation. Would we silently accept a bad deal as a fait accompli? Of course not. We would be aggressively trying to protect our legitimate interest. Any American leader who failed to do that would be justly condemned.
Nor can Israel be content with the Obama administration’s promises never to let Iran develop a nuclear weapon. Indeed, much of the opposition to the deal is based on the fact it crosses Obama’s own red lines. Rather than preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, it may merely postpone and legitimate this catastrophic outcome. It does not assure the immediate inspections that Obama originally demanded, nor does it provide the transparency he promised. We know that in a worst-case scenario, international inspectors would need 24 days to access a site.
The administration also has not released the content of side agreements between International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors and the Iranian government regarding the conduct of inspections.
Rather than attacking Netanyahu for advancing his nation’s legitimate national security interests, the Obama administration should stand by its own promise to encourage a substantive discussion about this important issue. Instead of attacking critics of the deal, the administration ought to welcome a spirited national debate.
With that in mind, let me propose a series of TV and radio debates between supporters and opponents of the agreement. I challenge any administration defender to debate me, or other opponents of the deal, on its merits and demerits.
The American public has the right hear all sides of this issue without Obama’s bully pulpit being used to bully loyal Americans and close allies who oppose the deal into silence.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

The US Congress can do something about the greatest evil of our time

From Prager University, 3 August 2015: 

Jew-baiting in the White House



Chuck Schumer, senior Senator from New York announced that he is opposing the Administration’s nuclear deal with Iran.

Some of us support the deal, because—like a majority of American Jews—we support the president, and we sympathize with his aims of ending Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons while keeping America out of another Middle Eastern war. Some of us oppose the deal because we believe that it falls very short of the criteria for meaningful limits on and inspections of Iran’s nuclear research programs that the Administration itself repeatedly promised to America and the world. Some of us are less concerned with the specifics of the deal than with the prospect of an American alliance with the theocratic Iranian regime, which the deal appears to be designed to cement.

As heated as the arguments between us can get, we can all agree that all of these positions, and their many variants, are entirely within the bounds of legitimate political debate

What we increasingly can’t stomach—and feel obliged to speak out about right now—is the use of Jew-baiting and other blatant and retrograde forms of racial and ethnic prejudice as tools to sell a political deal, or to smear those who oppose it. Accusing Senator Schumer of loyalty to a foreign government is bigotry, pure and simple. Accusing Senators and Congressmen whose misgivings about the Iran deal are shared by a majority of the U.S. electorate of being agents of a foreign power, or of selling their votes to shadowy lobbyists, or of acting contrary to the best interests of the United States, is the kind of naked appeal to bigotry and prejudice that would be familiar in the politics of the pre-Civil Rights Era South.

This use of anti-Jewish incitement as a political tool is a sickening new development in American political discourse, and we have heard too much of it lately—some coming, ominously, from our own White House and its representatives. Let’s not mince words: Murmuring about “money” and “lobbying” and “foreign interests” who seek to drag America into war is a direct attempt to play the dual-loyalty card. It’s the kind of dark, nasty stuff we might expect to hear at a white power rally, not from the President of the United States—and it’s gotten so blatant that even many of us who are generally sympathetic to the administration, and even this deal, have been shaken by it.

We do not accept the idea that Senator Schumer or anyone else is a fair target for racist incitement, anymore than we accept the idea that the basic norms of political discourse in this country do not apply to Jews. Whatever one feels about the merits of the Iran deal, sales techniques that call into question the patriotism of American Jews are examples of bigotry—no matter who does it. On this question, we should all stand in defense of Senator Schumer.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

The Iranian mullahs are crazy, for good reason

Someone should tell the mullahs in Tehran that there’s no way Hitler could have lost that war, if only he had had the Jews on his side. There’s more than a modicum of truth in the joke. Killing six million Jews diverted resources from the German war effort. More importantly, Jewish physicists, including Leo Szilard, Eugene Wigner, Robert Oppenheimer, David Bohm, Rudolf Peierls, Otto Frisch Felix Bloch, Niels Bohr, Otto Hahn, and Edward Teller, led the American effort to build an atom bomb. Enrico Fermi, whose wife was Jewish, left Italy for America after Mussolini imposed race laws in 1938. Albert Einstein had spent the First World War in Berlin; at the outbreak of the Second, he helped persuade Franklin Roosevelt to fund the Manhattan Project.
100,000 German Jews had served in World War I, 12,000 died on the battlefield, and 35,000 were decorated for bravery, a higher proportion than the general population. Jewish loyalty to Germany was not in question in 1933. The Jews of Eastern Europe, moreover, were in general more sympathetic to Germany than to Russia. Killing Jews served no rational German objective. Yet no-one can argue that Jew-hatred was merely incidental to the Nazi regime. On the contrary, it was the raison d’etre of National Socialism.
Hitler was crazy, if by crazy we mean that his obsessions caused him to act repeatedly against self-interest. He made costlier mistakes in the conduct of war to be sure, for example, declaring war on America after Pearl Harbor, as Andrew Roberts observes in his 2011 study The Storm of War.  But his Jew-hatred defined a deluded mind. In 1933, the vast majority of German Jews (including the Orthodox Jewish leadership) thought Hitler’s raving were just rhetoric. They learned better.
In the Nazi mind, race theory replaced the old religious notion of national election. Germany was the last of Europe’s great nations to arrogate unto itself the status of Chosen People, three centuries after Richelieu’s France and Olivares’ Spain fought it out during the Thirty Years War. For Germany to be the Master Race, the historic exemplar of national election had to be eliminated, namely the Jews. That is a big assertion, to which I devoted the much 2011 book How Civilizations Die.  After 1930, Germany’s total fertility rate fell below replacement for the first time in its history, to just 1.7 children per female when Hitler took power in 1933. His apocalyptic fears of the disappearance of the Germans were not unfounded. Germany had begun to die, and Hitler proposed a messianic, megalomaniac vision to restore it. Hitler may have been crazy, but even paranoids have things to worry about. Germany’s total fertility rate is shown below.
Germany: Total Fertility and Replacement Rate (Source: Kenzia and Zimmermann, IZA DP No. 6355)
Germany: Total Fertility and Replacement Rate (Source: Kenzia and Zimmermann, IZA DP No. 6355)
Source: Kenzia and Zimmermann, IZA Discussion Paper No. 6355
 
Source: UN

Source: UN
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A fortiori, Iran’s self-interest would dictate cordial relations with the State of Israel. Israel was Iran’s ally under the Shah, and the alliance continued covertly during the first years of the Iran-Iraq War. By some accounts, Iran obtained 80% of its weapons imports from Israel at the onset of the war, and bought a total of $500 million in weapons from Israel between 1981 and 1983. Israeli technicians kept Iran’s Phantom F-4’s flying after America cut off spare parts. It did so with American sanction, to be sure. The Reagan administration wanted to forestall a decisive victory by either Iraq or Iran.
The last thing Iran should want is an alliance between Israel and its Sunni opponents—Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, but potentially Turkey and Pakistan as well. An open alliance between the House of Saud and the State of Israel is improbable in the extreme, but in the fluid and opaque fields of perpetual warfare that stretch from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf, there is ample room for covert collaboration. Shia communities from South Lebanon to central Iraq are vulnerable, and the last thing Iran should want is an Israeli role in the Sunni-Shia war.
But Iran’s leaders talk about the destruction of the State of Israel obsessively. The veteran Iran analyst Amir Taheri last week reviewed a new Persian-language book under the signature of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei that offers an intricate scenario for Israel, which he calls “a cancerous tumor” subject to “annihilation” and “effacement.” No land that once belonged to the Ummah may be left in infidel hands, Khamenei insists, much less a “hostile infidel” who has waged war on Muslims. He proposes a low-intensity war that will make life in Israel so unpleasant that most Israelis will leave. Taheri reports that “Khamenei boasts about the success of his plans to make life impossible for Israelis through terror attacks from Lebanon and Gaza. His latest scheme is to recruit ‘fighters’ in the West Bank to set-up Hezbollah-style units…Khamenei describes Israel as ‘a cancerous tumor’ whose elimination would mean that “the West’s hegemony and threats will be discredited” in the Middle East. In its place, he boasts, ‘the hegemony of Iran will be promoted.’
Iran’s national megalomania trumps rational self-interest. This is not a uniquely Muslim characteristic, nor a peculiarly Shi’ite one. Persian identity is imperial. It has been since Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon in B.C.E. 539. There is a scenario under which Persia might become a shrinking but successful nation of modest regional importance, but that is not accessible to the Persian psyche.
Khamenei’s existential problem is to persuade the Persians to continue to exist at all. The collapse of Iran’s fertility rate from 7 children per female in 1969 to between 1.6 and 1.8 children at present ranks as one of history’s great examples of genosuicide.
Iran’s reality is galloping demographic decline. Between 2010 and 2020, the number of Iranian females between the ages of 20 and 24 – prospective young mothers – will fall from 4.595 million to only 2.583 million, that is, by 43%. The number of women aged 25-29 will fall from 4.63 million to 3.47 million. That is the result of the unprecedented collapse of Iranian fertility after 1990. Iran’s present fertility rate is estimated at 1.6 to 1.8 children per female, and the number of Iranian women between 20 and 30 will fall by a third over just 10 years.
Source: UN
Source: UN
Nonetheless, the Tehran regime now says it wants to double its population, to 150 million by 2050. At current fertility, Iran’s population will reach about 80 million by mid-century, but 30% of Iranians will be over the age of 60, against only 8% today. To produce another 70 million Iranians by 2050 would require every Iranian woman between 20 and 40 to have between 5 and 6 children. The regime now offers incentives to prospective parents and has withdrawn public subsidies for birth control. It is probably much too late.
Before him, Ayatollah Khamenei visualizes a Shia revival and a reborn Persian empire; behind him, he observes what may be the most demoralized people in the world. Looking into the Persian future, Khamenei sees what Hitler saw in 1933.
Between 23% and 25% of Iranian couples claim to be infertile, which might be an excuse not to bear children. It also might be the result of the world’s highest reported rates of venereal infection, associated with Shi’ite “temporary marriage,” or clerically-approved prostitution. Iranian studies report Chlamydia infection rates of 12.6% in Tehran and 21.25% in Isfahan, vs. 0.6% in the United States and 4.3% worldwide.
Iran also has the worst drug problem of any country in the world. According to Iran’s interior minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, six million Iranians (20% of the population over age 15) have been affected by drug abuse, and 1.3 million (or 4.3% of Iranians over age 15) are addicts, using heroin as well as crystal meth. Only 36.7% of Iran’s population is economically active, one of the lowest counts in the world.
The clerical regime has ruined Iran and reduced its people to despair. It has nothing to lose and nowhere to retreat, because to continue in the present direction means that gradual extinction is inevitable. Asia Times’ Chan Akya observes that there is a precedent for the self-extinction of Persians, namely the Zoroastrian, or Parsi, community in India, whose numbers have fallen by half since 1940, and will fall again by half by 2020 as the aging community dies out.
The mullahs are crazy, and will act like crazy men. Like Hitler, they have good reason to do so.

There are alternatives to this bad deal with Iran

From Times of Israel, 16 July, by Raphael Ahren:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the press following the nuclear deal with Iran, at the PM's Office in Jerusalem, on July 14, 2015. (Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the press following the nuclear deal with Iran, at the PM's Office in Jerusalem, on July 14, 2015. (Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Israel forcefully rejected...US President Barack Obama’s assertion that critics of the nuclear agreement with Iran have failed to present better options, arguing that a good deal is still possible if the international community, led by Washington, maintains the sanctions regime on Tehran.
 
“We have consistently laid out an alternative, which is a better deal that actually blocks Iran’s path to the bomb and links the lifting of restrictions on Iran to tangible changes in Iranian behavior,” a senior Israeli official said.
The official also disputed Obama’s contention that the entire international community backs the Vienna agreement, which the United States and five world powers signed with Iran on Tuesday. He also indicated that the Israeli government is convinced it can persuade US lawmakers to oppose the deal. “We believe we can win on the substance,” he told The Times of Israel.
 
Defending the deal at a lengthy press conference Wednesday, the president argued that critics of the agreement have not produced a better proposition on how to deal with Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “For all the objections of Prime Minister Netanyahu, or, for that matter, some of the Republican leadership that’s already spoken, none of them have presented to me, or the American people, a better alternative,” Obama said.
 
The president added that he had yet to hear about a better solution to the Iranian nuclear standoff, arguing that there are only two options: the nuclear standoff can either be resolved diplomatically, through the deal the P5+1 world powers negotiated, or through war. “Those are the options,” Obama said.
 
But the senior Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, contested that argument, saying that the international community should have “held out for a better deal” by maintaining and even intensifying the sanctions in Iran and insisting they only be lifted after Iran demonstrates compliance with the P5+1’s demands.
 
The official also disagreed with Obama’s reasoning that it would have been impossible to keep up the international sanctions regime against Iran.
 
“We don’t believe that sanctions would collapse; on the contrary,” the official said, “we sincerely believe that the sanctions can be maintained in place, if there is American leadership on this matter.”
Because of the United States’ global economic power, its sanctions directly affect international economic behavior, he reasoned. “If you’re a German or a Swiss company and want to do business in Iran but in so doing have to give up on the American market, it’s a no-brainer. If forced to choose between the American or the Iranian economy, what are most rational people going to do?”
President Barack Obama answers questions about the Iran nuclear deal during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. The president defended his high-stakes nuclear accord with Iran as a sign of American leadership that will make the world safer. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
US President Barack Obama answers questions about the Iran nuclear deal at a news conference in the White House, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
 
During his press conference Wednesday, Obama said it is “absolutely not true” that it was possible, in the absence of a deal, to “keep sanctions in place with the same vigor and effectiveness as we have right now.”
 
The international sanctions regime required the cooperation of countries all around the world, “many of whom really want to purchase oil from Iran,” Obama said. “The imposition of sanctions — their cooperation with us — has cost them billions of dollars, made it harder for them. They’ve been willing to do that because they’ve believed we were sincere about trying to resolve the nuclear issue peacefully.”
 
If, however, the international community saw the US walk away from the agreement, the sanctions regime would fall, the president argued. “And so we could still maintain some of our unilateral sanctions, but it would be far less effective — as it was before we were able to put together these multilateral sanctions.”
‘Iran’s neighbors — those who know Iran the best — are united in opposition to the deal’
The senior Israeli official also challenged Obama’s assertion that “99 percent of the world community” believes that the Vienna agreement satisfactorily resolves the Iranian nuclear threat.
“The entire international community is not backing the deal. There is a lot of opposition to it, especially from countries in the region,” the official said. “Iran’s neighbors — those who know Iran best — are united in opposition to the deal.”
 
Israel is widely expected to lobby the US Congress against the deal, but the official refused to reveal whether Jerusalem intends to dispatch officials to Capitol Hill or whether the prime minister plans to conduct phone conversations with congressmen. “We will be making our case to all those who are in interesting in hearing it,” the senior official said. “We believe we can win on the substance.”
 
The official also reflected on UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond’s assertion that Israel would have opposed any deal with Iran. “These comments are coming from someone who was part of the decision-making process in Vienna. He has the task of justifying the deal, when it is becoming increasingly apparent to people studying the details that this deal is increasingly difficult to justify.”
Hammond, who is set to meet with Israeli officials in Jerusalem Thursday, told British lawmakers on Wednesday that “Israel doesn’t want any deal with Iran.” Rather, he said, “Israel wants a permanent state of standoff, and I don’t believe that’s in the interests of the region.”

We don’t have to choose between ISIS and Iran’s revolutionary regime.

From World Affairs journal, Summer 2015, by Michael J Torrent:

... Hardly anyone aside from the Saudis ...seems to recognize that the Iranian government’s ultimate goal is regional hegemony and that its nuclear weapons program is simply a means to that end.
The Middle East has five hot spots—or “shatter zones,” as Robert D. Kaplan called them in his landmark book, The Revenge of Geography—which are more prone to conflict than others, where borders are either unstable or porous, where central governments have a hard time keeping everything wired together, and where instability is endemic or chronic. 
 
  1. Gaza, where Hamas wages relentless rocket wars against Israel, is one such shatter zone.
  2. The Lebanese-Israeli border, where Hezbollah does the same on a much more terrifying scale, is another.
  3. Yemen, which is finally falling apart on an epic scale, has been one for decades.
  4. Syria and
  5. Iraq have merged into a single multinational shatter zone with more armed factions than anyone but the CIA can keep track of.  
What do these shatter zones have in common? The Iranian government backs militias and terrorist armies in all of them. As Kaplan writes, “The instability Iran will cause will not come from its implosion, but from a strong, internally coherent nation that explodes outward from a natural geographic platform to shatter the region around it.”
 
That’s why Iran is a problem for American foreign policy makers in the first place; and that’s why trading sanctions relief for an international weapons inspection regime will have no effect on any of it whatsoever. 
 
Iran has been a regional power since the time of the Persian Empire, and its Islamic leaders have played an entirely pernicious role in the Middle East since they seized power from Mohammad Shah Reza Pahlavi in 1979, stormed the US Embassy in Tehran, and held 66 American diplomats hostage for 444 days.
 
In 1982, they went international. When the Israelis invaded Lebanon to dislodge Yasir Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Army, Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commanders forged a network of terrorist and guerrilla cells among their coreligionists in Lebanon’s Shia population.
 
Hezbollah, the poisoned fruit of these efforts, initially had no name. It was a hidden force that struck from the shadows. It left a hell of a mark, though, for an organization of anonymous nobodies when it blew up the American Embassy in Beirut and hit French and American peacekeeping troops—who were there at the invitation of the Lebanese government—with suicide truck bombers in 1983 that killed 368 people.
 
When Hezbollah’s leaders finally sent out a birth announcement in their 1985 Open Letter, they weren’t the least bit shy about telling the world who they worked for. “We are,” they wrote, “the Party of God (Hizb Allah), the vanguard of which was made victorious by God in Iran . . . We obey the orders of one leader, wise and just, that of our tutor and faqih [jurist] who fulfills all the necessary conditions: Ruhollah Musawi Khomeini. God save him!”
 
The Israelis fought a grinding counterinsurgency against Hezbollah for 18 years in southern Lebanon before withdrawing in 2000, and they fought a devastating war in 2006 along the border that killed thousands and produced more than a million refugees in both countries. Hezbollah was better armed and equipped than the Lebanese government even then, but today its missiles can reach Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and even the Dimona nuclear power plant all the way down in the southern part of the country. 
 
Until September 11, 2001, no terrorist organization in the world had killed more Americans than Hezbollah. Hamas in Gaza isn’t even qualified as a batboy in the league Hezbollah plays in.
 
Hezbollah is more than just an anti-Western and anti-Jewish terrorist organization. It is also a ruthless sectarian Shia militia that imposes its will at gunpoint on Lebanon’s Sunnis, Christians, and Druze. It has toppled elected governments, invaded and occupied parts of Beirut, and, according to a United Nations indictment, assassinated former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
 
Hezbollah is, for all intents and purposes, the foreign legion of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. The parts of the country it occupies—the northern Bekaa Valley, the Israeli border region, and the suburbs south of Beirut—constitute a de facto Iranian-controlled state-within-a-state inside Lebanon. 
After the United States demolished Saddam Hussein’s Sunni-dominated regime in 2003, Iran’s rulers duplicated their Lebanon strategy in Iraq by sponsoring a smorgasbord of sectarian Shia militias and death squads that waged war against the Iraqi government, the American military, Sunni civilians, and politically moderate Shias. 
 
Unlike Lebanon—which is more or less evenly divided between Christians, Sunnis, and Shias—Iraq has an outright Shia majority that feels a gravitational pull toward their fellow Shias in Iran and a revulsion for the Sunni minority that backed Hussein’s brutal totalitarianism and today tolerates the even more deranged occupation by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. 
 
The central government, then, is firmly aligned with Tehran. Iran’s clients don’t run a Hezbollah-style state-within-a-state in Iraq. They don’t have to. Now that Hussein is out of the way, Iraq’s Shias can dominate Baghdad with the weight of sheer demographics alone. But Iran isn’t content with merely having strong diplomatic relations with its neighbor. It still sponsors sectarian Shia militias in the center and south of the country that outperform the American-trained national army. They may one day even supplant Iraq’s national army as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps has more or less supplanted the Iranian national army. Iraq’s Shia militias are already the most powerful armed force outside the Kurdish autonomous region and ISIS-held territory.
 
When ISIS took complete control of the city of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province, in May of 2015, the Iraqi soldiers tasked with protecting it dropped their weapons and ran as they had earlier in Mosul, Tikrit, and Fallujah. So Iraq’s central government tasked its Iranian-backed Shia militias with taking it back. 
 
On the one hand, we can hardly fault Baghdad for sending in whatever competent fighting force is available when it needs to liberate a city from a psychopathic terrorist army, but the only reason ISIS gained a foothold among Iraq’s Sunnis in the first place is because the Baghdad government spent years acting like the sectarian dictatorship that it is, by treating the Sunni minority like second-class citizens, and by trumping up bogus charges against Sunni officials in the capital. When ISIS promised to protect Iraq’s Sunnis from the Iranian-backed Shia rulers in Baghdad, the narrative seemed almost plausible. So ISIS, after being vomited out of Anbar Province in 2007, was allowed to come back.
 
Most of Iraq’s Sunnis fear and loathe ISIS. They previously fought ISIS under its former name, al-Qaeda in Iraq. But they fear and loathe the central government and its Shiite militias even more. They’d rather be oppressed by “their own” than by “the other” if they had to choose. But they have to choose because Iran has made Iraq its second national project after Lebanon.
 
It doesn’t have to be this way. At least some of the tribal Sunni militias would gladly fight ISIS as they did in the past with American backing. If they did, residents of Ramadi, Fallujah, and Mosul would view them as liberators and protectors rather than potential oppressors, but Tehran and Baghdad will have none of it.
 
“All attempts to send arms and ammunition must be through the central government,” Adnan al-Assadi, a member of Parliament, told CNN back in May. “That is why we refused the American proposal to arm the tribes in Anbar. We want to make sure that the weapons would not end up in the wrong hands, especially ISIS.”
 
That may appear reasonable on the surface, but ISIS can seize weapons from Shia militias just as easily as it can seize weapons from Sunni militias. The real reason for the government’s reluctance ought to be obvious: Iraq’s Shias do not want to arm Iraq’s Sunnis. They’d rather have ISIS controlling huge swaths of the country than a genuinely popular Sunni movement with staying power that’s implacably hostile to the Iranian-backed project in Mesopotamia. 
 
The catastrophe in Iraq is bad enough, but the Iranian handiwork in Syria is looking even more apocalyptic nowadays. ISIS wouldn’t even exist, of course, if it weren’t for the predatory regime of Bashar al-Assad, and the close alliance that has existed between Damascus and Tehran since the 1979 revolution that brought the ayatollahs to power.
 
Syria’s government is dominated by the Alawites, who make up just 15 percent of the population. Their religion is a heterodox blend of Christianity, Gnosticism, and Shia Islam. They aren’t Shias. They aren’t even Muslims. Their Arab Socialist Baath Party is and has always been as secular as the Communist Party was in the Soviet Union (and it was in fact a client of the Soviet Union). A marriage between an aggressively secular Alawite regime and Iran’s clerical Islamic Republic was hardly inevitable, but it’s certainly logical. The two nations had a common enemy wedged between them in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and both have been threatened by the region’s Sunni Arab majority since their inception. 
 
Hezbollah is their first child, and the three of them together make up the core of what analyst Lee Smith calls the Resistance Bloc in his book, The Strong Horse. The Party of God, as it calls itself, wouldn’t exist without Iranian money and weapons, nor would it exist without Damascus as the logistics hub that connects them. And it would have expired decades ago if Syria hadn’t conquered and effectively annexed Lebanon at the end of the Lebanese civil war in 1990.
 
Every armed faction in Lebanon, including Hezbollah, signed on to the Syrian-brokered Taif Agreement, which required the disarmament of every militia in the country. But the Assads governed Lebanon with the same crooked and cynical dishonesty they perfected at home, and as the occupying power they not only allowed Hezbollah to hold onto its arsenal, but also allowed Hezbollah to import rockets and even missiles from Iran.
 
“For Syria,” historian William Harris wrote in The New Face of Lebanon, “Hezbollah could persist as both a check on the Lebanese regime and as a means to bother Israel when convenient.”
 
The Party of God is now a powerful force unto itself, but it rightly views the potential downfall of the Assad regime as the beginning of its own end. The fact that Assad might be replaced by the anti-Shia genocidaires of ISIS compelled its fighters to invade Syria without an exit strategy—with the help of Iranian commanders, of course—to either prop up their co-patron or die.
 
Rather than going all-in, the Iranians could have cut their losses in Syria and pressured Assad into leaving the country. ISIS would be hiding under rocks right now had that happened. Hardly any Sunnis in Syria would tolerate such a deranged revolution if they had no one to revolt against. But the Resistance Bloc will only back down if it’s forced to back down. If ISIS devours Syria and Iraq as a result, then so be it.
 
And while the Resistance Bloc is fighting for its survival in the Levant, it’s expanding into the Arabian Peninsula.
 
The Shia-dominated Houthi movement took control of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, earlier this year following the revolution that toppled former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and its fighters are well on their way to taking the port city of Aden, in the Sunni part of the country.
The Houthis, of course, are backed by Iran.
 
They’re no more likely to conquer every inch of that country than Iran’s other regional proxies are to conquer every inch of anywhere else. Shias make up slightly less than half of Yemen’s population, and their natural “territory” is restricted to the northwestern region in and around the capital. Taking and holding it all is likely impossible. No government—Sunni, Shia, or otherwise—has managed to control all of Yemen for long. 
 
And the Saudis are doing their damnedest to make sure it stays that way. Their fighter jets have been pounding Houthi positions throughout the country since March.
 
Saudi Arabia is more alarmed at Iranian expansion in the region than anyone else, and for good reason. It’s the only Arab country with a substantial Shia minority that hasn’t yet been hit by Iranian-backed revolution, upheaval, or sectarian strife, although events in Yemen could quickly change that.
In the city and province of Najran, in the southwestern corner just over the Yemeni border, Shias are the largest religious group, and they’re linked by sect, tribe, and custom to the Houthis.
 
Not only is the border there porous and poorly defined, but that part of Saudi Arabia once belonged to Yemen. The Saudis conquered and annexed it in 1934. Najran is almost identical architecturally to the Yemeni capital, and you can walk from Najran to Yemen is a little over an hour. 
 
Will the Houthis be content to let Najran remain in Saudi hands now that they have Iranian guns, money, power, and wind at their back? Maybe. But the Saudis won’t bet their sovereignty on a maybe.
 
Roughly 15 percent of Saudi Arabia’s citizens are Shias. They’re not a large minority, but Syria’s Alawites are no larger and they’ve been ruling the entire country since 1971. And Shias make up the absolute majority in the Eastern Province, the country’s largest, where most of the oil is concentrated. 
 
Support among Yemen’s Sunnis for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula—the most dangerous branch of al-Qaeda on earth—is rising for purely sectarian reasons just as it has in Syria and Iraq. Iran can’t intervene anywhere in the region right now without provoking a psychotic backlash that’s as dangerous to Tehran and its interests as it is to America’s.
 
If Iranian adventurism spreads to Saudi Arabia, watch out. Everywhere in the entire Middle East where Sunnis and Shias live adjacent to one another will have turned into a shatter zone. 
The entire world’s oil patch will have turned into a shatter zone.
 
US foreign policy in the Middle East is focused on two things right now:
  • containing ISIS and
  • preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
These are both worthy goals, but if sanctions are lifted on Iran as part of a nuclear deal, whether or not it gets the bomb, Tehran will certainly have more money and resources to funnel to Hezbollah, the Assad regime, Iraq’s Shia militias, the Houthis in Yemen, and—perhaps—to Saudi Arabia’s disaffected Shia minority. The region will become even less stable than it already is. ISIS and al-Qaeda will likely grow stronger than they already are.

We’re kidding ourselves if we think that won’t affect us. It’s not just about the oil, although until every car in the world is powered by green energy we can’t pretend the global economy won’t crash if gasoline becomes scarce. We also have security concerns in the region. What happens in the Middle East hasn’t stayed in the Middle East now for decades. 
 
The head-choppers of ISIS are problematic for obvious reasons. Their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, said, “I’ll see you in New York,” to American military personnel when they (foolishly) released him from Iraq’s Camp Bucca prison in 2004. But the Iranian-led Resistance Bloc has behaved just as atrociously since 1979 and will continue to do so with or without nuclear weapons.
 
US involvement in Syria and Iraq is minimal now, but even the little we are doing makes little sense.

We’re against ISIS in both countries, which is entirely fine and appropriate, but
  • in Iraq we’re using air power to cover advances by Shia militias and therefore furthering Iranian interests, and
  • in Syria we’re working against Iranian interests by undermining Assad and Hezbollah.
  • Meanwhile, the nuclear deal Washington is negotiating with Tehran places a grand total of zero requirements on Iran’s rulers to roll back in their necklace of shatter zones. 
 
We don’t have to choose between ISIS and Iran’s revolutionary regime. They’re both murderous Islamist powers with global ambitions, and they’re both implacably hostile to us and our interests. Resisting both simultaneously wouldn’t make our foreign policy even a whit more complicated. It would, however, make our foreign policy much more coherent.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Iran Debacle

    From the Daily Alert, prepared for the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 17 July 2015:

    • Unplanned Results of the Iran Deal - Danielle Pletka
      Right or wrong, the perception of many in the Middle East is that Iran is looking to impose Shiite hegemony wherever possible. Expect the region's Sunni powers to do all they can to push back. In Shia-majority states dominated by Sunnis like Bahrain, or where there are substantial Shia minorities like in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Yemen, there has always been suspicions that Shiites are fifth columnists for Iran. With those governments convinced that the nuclear deal empowers Iran, Shia life there is going to only get worse.
          Only financial constraints have limited Iran's support for Hizbullah and other proxies like Hamas. With cash washing in, these groups will receive the full benefit of Iranian military advances. In addition, the flow of fighters, weapons and money fueling the devastating conflict in Syria will only worsen.
          Once, a country that hid behind the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to violate safeguards agreements and work on nuclear weapons faced the certainty of international punishment. Iran is now being pardoned, rehabilitated and allowed to keep its nuclear infrastructure. We can expect other countries - especially those most worried about Iran's rising power - to emulate Iran in using the NPT as cover for advancing their own nuclear weapons programs. The writer is senior vice president of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. (Politico)
    • A Deal with Gaping Failures - Yaakov Lappin interviews Dr. Emily Landau
      Dr. Emily Landau, head of the arms control and regional security program at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, is one of Israel's keenest expert observers of the Iranian nuclear program. Landau told the Jerusalem Post she was at a loss to understand Washington's enthusiasm to conclude a deal with such gaping failures in it. The first of those problems, she said, is the deal's built-in sunset clause, making restrictions placed on Iran's nuclear program temporary.
          "This deal was supposed to add very strict verification measures that should have lasted forever." Instead, U.S.-led negotiators have agreed to a sunset clause "without any strategic indication that Iran has backed away from nuclear weapons, like Libya did 10 years ago. Why in the world would they lift restrictions in such conditions?" Only a clear strategic U-turn by the Islamic Republic could justify a sunset clause, Landau stated, "But we don't have that."  (Jerusalem Post)
    • Trusting the Iranians? - Yair Lapid
      When the Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Zarif, goes on Charlie Rose and says, without batting an eyelid, that "Iran never called for Israel's destruction," he knows it's a lie (and so does Charlie). Iran has called for Israel's destruction hundreds of times, at all levels starting from the Supreme Leader Khamenei in recorded conversations, through to General Qasem Soleimani who is charged with the destruction of Israel in the Revolutionary Guards.
          Iran lied about building the enrichment complex in Natanz, lied about the plutonium reactor in Arak, lied constantly to IAEA inspectors about everything, and lied when they told the world that they weren't trying to develop nuclear weapons.
          In my conversations in Washington last month, I said, "Like most Israelis, from the opposition and coalition alike, I think this is a terrible deal which threatens the peace of the world. But even if you disagree, you have to find a way to protect yourselves from the possibility that the Iranians are signing only to get an easing of the sanctions and then use the money which will flow to them to build nuclear weapons behind the world's back."
          After all, they have experience. They built two reactors without anyone noticing (it was the Iranian opposition which told the world about Arak and Natanz), they built second-generation centrifuges without the world suspecting, enriched uranium to a high degree in Fordow without the world knowing, and built missiles which can carry nuclear warheads at Parchin without the world guessing. The writer, chairman of the opposition Yesh Atid party, is a former Israeli finance minister. (Times of Israel)
    • The Iran Agreement Is Worse than the U.S. Deal with North Korea - Bandar Bin Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud
      Mr. Obama made his decision on the Iran nuclear deal aware that the national intelligence information and intelligence from U.S. allies in the region predict a worse outcome than in North Korea - and Iran will have access to billions of dollars. This deal will wreak havoc in the Middle East. People in my region now are consolidating their local capabilities and analyses with everyone except our oldest and most powerful ally. The writer was Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the U.S. from 1981 to 2005. (Washington Post)
    • Iran Deal Worse than We Could Have Imagined - Charles Krauthammer
      Who would have imagined we would be giving up the conventional arms and ballistic missile embargoes on Iran? In nuclear negotiations? When asked Wednesday at his news conference why there is nothing in the deal about the American hostages being held by Iran, President Obama explained that this is a separate issue, not part of nuclear talks. Are conventional weapons not a separate issue?
          Congress won't get to vote on the deal until September. But Obama is taking the agreement to the UN Security Council for approval within days. Approval there will cancel all previous UN resolutions outlawing and sanctioning Iran's nuclear activities, dismantling the legal underpinning for the entire international sanctions regime against Iran. Ten years of painstakingly constructed international sanctions will vanish overnight, irretrievably. (Washington Post)
    • Instead of Turning the Screw, the U.S. Relieved the Pressure - Bret Stephens
      Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is an irascible and violent revolutionary bent on imposing a dark ideology on his people and his neighborhood. If there is evidence of an Iranian trend toward moderation it behooves proponents of a deal to show it.
          Serious sanctions were only imposed on Iran in November 2011. They cut the country's oil exports by half, shut off its banking system from the rest of the world, sent the rial into free fall and caused the inflation rate to soar to 60%. And that was only the first turn of the economic screw: Iran's permitted oil exports could have been cut further; additional sanctions could have been imposed. Instead of turning the screw, Mr. Obama relieved the pressure by signing on to the interim agreement. (Wall Street Journal)
    • We Should Not Let Euphoria about the Iran Nuclear Deal Cloud Our Judgment - Michael Herzog
      While the P5+1 negotiators celebrate the nuclear deal with Iran, in Israel, coalition and opposition are now united in deep concern about its long-term implications. Israel was not a participant in these negotiations, but its national security will be impacted more than anybody else's. After all, Iran combines ideological commitment to Israel's destruction with nuclear ambitions and the ability to project violence through proxies on Israel's borders. It is Israel that is targeted by tens of thousands of rockets supplied by Iran to armed groups on our borders, including Hizbullah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Brig.-Gen. (res.) Michael Herzog, a former chief of staff to Israel's minister of defense, is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Guardian-UK)
    • Understanding the Argument for the Iran Deal - John Podhoretz
      At his press conference Wednesday, President Obama's argument boils down to this (these are my words, not his): "We wanted to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. We've done it. And if you say otherwise, you either don't know what you're talking about or you want war."
          The key to understanding the president's argument is his conviction that the Iranians will hold to its terms, and that the methods it lays out to ensure it holds to the terms are sufficient to make them do so even if they want to cheat. Those who oppose the deal do not believe the Iranians will hold to its terms, and do not believe its enforcement mechanisms will prevent them from doing whatever they feel they must.
          There is literally no way to resolve this difference. That's why the president can and will argue that, hey, it's at least worth a try; someone else can bomb them later, and that someone will have more international support if he or she does. (Commentary)
    • Netanyahu's Warnings Apt on Iran Nuclear Deal - Editorial
      Diplomacy is certainly preferable to war. But the stakes - a nuclear armed Iran, with all the danger and destabilization that would imply for the region and the world - are simply too high to accept just any deal, at any price. It is assumed that Iran will, in fact, honor the undertakings it has made. Yet its track record in this regard is not encouraging.
          The bottom line is this: the agreement assumes a desire on Iran's part to become a constructive member of the international community. Yet there is precious little evidence of this, from a regime that continues to destabilize the region and to threaten Israel, and gives every sign of doing so in future - only now with the status of a nuclear threshold state. If the U.S. won't work to contain Iran, you can't blame the locals for taking matters into their own hands. (National Post-Canada)