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Posts Tagged ‘Iran’
November 8th, 2012 at 4:17 pm
Oh, By the Way …
Posted by Troy Senik Print

You know, things got so busy in those last few days before the election — the hurricane, the swing state stops, the basketball game — that the President may have forgotten to tell you a thing or two. Like:

Two Iranian Su-25 fighter jets fired on an unarmed U.S. Air Force Predator drone in the Persian Gulf last week, CNN has learned.

The incident raises fresh concerns within the Obama administration about Iranian military aggression in crucial Gulf oil shipping lanes.

The drone was in international airspace east of Kuwait, U.S. officials said, adding it was engaged in routine maritime surveillance.

Although the drone was not hit, the Pentagon is concerned.

Four years and counting. Surely that unclenched fist is just around the corner.

October 15th, 2012 at 4:39 pm
In Iran, a Blueprint for Chaos
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Der Spiegel today carries a chilling profile of General Mohammad Ali Jafari, Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, that includes this provocative piece of intelligence:

… [Amongst Iranian hardliners] Jafari, 55, is seen being particularly unyielding. In 2009, for example, he declared that Iran would fire missiles at Israel’s nuclear research center in Dimona if the Israelis attacked Iran’s nuclear facilities — knowing full well that such an attack would result in several thousand deaths on both sides.

Now Jafari and his supporters are allegedly preparing new potential horrors. Western intelligence agencies have acquired a plan marked “top secret” and code-named “Murky Water.” Together with Ali Fadawi, an admiral in the Pasdaran, Jafari is thought to have proposed a senseless act of sabotage: to intentionally cause an environmental catastrophe in the Strait of Hormuz.

The goal of the plan seems to be that of contaminating the strait so as to temporarily close the important shipping route for international oil tankers, thereby “punishing” the Arab countries that are hostile to Iran and forcing the West to join Iran in a large-scale cleanup operation — one that might require the temporary suspension of sanctions against Tehran.

I don’t know which is the more disturbing thought: that a senior official in the Iranian military would be willing to consider such gratuitous environmental destruction — or that it might be the only thing that gets the left interested in the evils of the Iranian regime.

July 27th, 2012 at 1:15 pm
UN Gun Treaty Treats Dictatorships and Democracies Equally

Last week my column discussed the disastrous legal consequences likely to emerge from the ongoing negotiations to create the Arms Transfer Treaty at the United Nations.

Fox News reports that with the conference coming to a close, a draft text has been released that has everyone not working for a dictatorial regime hopping mad:

While critics say U.S. gun owners and interests would be left exposed by the draft, it has drawn criticism on other fronts. Activists on the political left say it is a gift to illicit gunrunners around the world, and the only group that seems to like it is the rogue states leading talks, say critics.

“The talks … are now being dominated by skeptical governments including Iran, Syria and Cuba, intent on having a weak treaty, or no treaty at all,” Control Arms, a global movement that says illicit gunrunning is fueling conflict, poverty and serious human rights violations worldwide, said in a statement. Other activists named North Korea, Egypt and Algeria as additional spoilers of the UN’s stated aims for the treaty: to keep conventional weapons out of the hands of rogue regimes, terrorists and criminals.

Heritage expert Ted Bromund says it’s no surprise why the draft text of the ATT treaty is benefiting bad actors while stymieing liberals’ good intentions:

Any conceivable ATT, simply because it is being negotiated through the U.N., will be based on recognizing that all members of the U.N. are equal and sovereign states and thus have equal rights. The inevitable result of this, in the context of the ATT, will be a treaty stating that Iran and Venezuela have the same rights to buy, sell, and transfer weapons as do the U.S. and Japan. The U.N. already contains far too many dictatorships; negotiating a treaty that enshrines their equality of status in the realm of arms transfers is inherently a bad and dangerous idea.

As I noted in my column, the push for the ATT at the UN arose because gun control groups could not get legislation they favored passed in the United States Congress.  But instead of getting the hint that the political marketplace was unreceptive to their ideas, gun controllers threw in their lot with a body that treats every government the same, even those willing to turn a gun control treaty into a mechanism that oppresses citizens at home and abroad.

It will be a form of perverse justice that when the ATT becomes an international law protecting Iran and Venezuela’s ability to kill their own people and arm other dictatorships like Syria that the constituency most responsible for enshrining those rights will be gun control groups.

June 11th, 2012 at 1:44 pm
Senator Feinstein Feisty Over National Security Leaks

Kudos to U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) for putting politics aside and directly challenging the Obama administration to investigate what she calls “an avalanche of leaks” harming national security.

Feinstein’s public offensive began last week with a press release where she acknowledged sending “a classified letter to the president outlining my deep concerns about the release” of information “regarding alleged cyber efforts targeting Iran’s nuclear program.”

On Sunday, Feinstein said on CBS’ Face the Nation that the effectiveness of two recently appointed federal prosecutors to investigate the leaks about covert U.S. efforts to combat threats from Iran and terrorist groups linked to al-Qaeda would be judged on whether it was “nonpartisan,” “vigorous,” and able to “move ahead rapidly.”

But if Attorney General Eric Holder has proved anything during his tenure – as the face of the Fast and Furious scandal, non-enforcement of the Defense of Marriage Act, and refusing to prosecute voter intimidation by the New Black Panthers – it’s that he is incapable of being nonpartisan in the administration of justice.

Feinstein isn’t waiting on Holder to change his spots.  In her press release last week she promised to include new disclosure requirements to her Select Committee on Intelligence so that administration officials can be held accountable for leaks that put at risk the lives of Americans and American allies – even if it might help President Obama look tough on foreign policy.

Feinstein’s reaction thus far is pure commonsense.  Conservatives should support her push back against the Obama administration, and open up avenues for her to do more.

March 8th, 2012 at 4:03 pm
The UN: Feckless on Syria
Posted by Troy Senik Print

In my new column this week, I profile President Obama’s manifest weakness in responding to Syria and Iran — a weakness that belies the reputation for hawkishness that he seems to have been cultivating in the press for the last week.

If the president is in the market for a foil to make him look like a saber-rattler by comparison, he couldn’t do much better than the United Nations, as the Washington Post reports today:

A UNESCO panel on Thursday avoided tackling the issue of whether Syria should be ousted from a committee that deals with human rights.

Instead, the commission of the executive board of the U.N. cultural agency voted 35-8 Thursday to condemn the crackdown on civilians in the Arab state.

The U.S. and several other countries want to unseat Syria from the Committee on Conventions and Recommendations, which has a strong human rights component. But there apparently is no precedent to remove a nation from a UNESCO committee.

Syrian President Bashar Assad’s crackdown on an opposition movement has left thousands dead in the past year.

So beware, Syria, the UN is unsheathing its weapon of choice: parchment.

The depths of intellectual and moral dishonesty in the United Nations would be funny if the subject matters to which they are applied weren’t so gravely serious. The body can’t oust Syria from a human rights committee? This is the nation where the Assad regime stacks political prisoners in shipping containers and dumps them at sea.

It’s a good thing the UN is intrinsically powerless. Otherwise it’d be an accessory to murder.

February 28th, 2012 at 1:53 pm
Some “Reset” – Only 8% of Iranians Approve of U.S. Leadership
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

So much for Barack Obama’s “Reset” foreign policy doctrine.

Presumably, the potential payoff from Obama’s constant prostrate manner, his willingness to meet dictators like Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “without preconditions,” his repeated apologetics and public disparagement of allies like Israel would at least be improved perceptions of America abroad.  Four years after introducing that doctrine, however, we’re still awaiting the payoff.  Russia and China continue to obstruct U.S. policy, Israel is more endangered each day and the Iranians dislike us as much as ever.  According to a new Gallup survey, only 8% of Iranian respondents approve “of the job performance of the leadership of the United States,” while 67% disapprove.

This should prompt recalibration within the White House, because its foreign policy weakness is not showing results.  Meanwhile, time is running out to halt Iran’s nuclear ambition.

February 23rd, 2012 at 2:06 pm
How Many Times Does Iran Have to Tell Us They’re Serious?
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Over at the Daily Caller, Jamie Weinstein has a piece today regarding the grave seriousness with which the Iranian regime approaches the prospect of wiping Israel off the face of the planet. The column opens by citing the widow of one of the recently-assassinated nuclear scientists working on the Iranian bomb, who says that her husband’s “ultimate goal was the annihilation of Israel.”

The intellectual balm of choice for foreign policy sophisticates has been to tell themselves that this sort of language out of Tehran is purely for domestic consumption, empty rhetoric aimed at consolidating support for the regime. At last night’s Republican debate in Arizona, Newt Gingrich rejected that line of thought, saying “I’m inclined to believe dictators. It’s dangerous not to.” (lest that quote sound a bit strange, it should be noted that Gingrich was saying it’s important to take threats from dictatorial regimes at face value).

Weinstein riffs on that theme at length and does a fine job of fleshing out Gingrich’s point:

They’re just posturing or joking or have been misinterpreted, we’re told. Israel and the West can live with a nuclear Iran, foreign policy intellectuals in New York, London and Berlin proclaim.

But if you’re the tiny, embattled State of Israel, it is hard to see how you can afford to take the chance that the Iranian leadership is merely joshing with their eliminationist rhetoric. Even if the odds are only 5 percent that the Iranian regime is apocalyptic and would act to bring back the hidden Imam through a nuclear holocaust, a five percent chance of a second holocaust is five percent too much for Israel to tolerate. (And let’s forget entirely for a moment the dire strategic problems of dealing with a nuclear-armed Iran even if the Islamic Republic doesn’t immediately use the bomb once it obtains the capability to strike. Try handling Hezbollah when they have a nuclear shield.)

Quite so. The higher the stakes, the lower our tolerance of ambiguity should be. It’s becoming increasingly clear that — regardless of how Iran uses a bomb — the cost will be prohibitively high for the U.S. and our allies. We still have a limited window in which we can set back and ultimately undo the threat with means short of war. Should we fail, the remaining options will be as unpalatable as they are necessary.

February 21st, 2012 at 8:59 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Why Gas Prices Are So High
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

February 6th, 2012 at 11:59 am
Ramirez Cartoon – WH: “We Must Stop Them…”
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

January 31st, 2012 at 5:12 pm
Head of U.S. Intelligence: Iran’s Appetite for Terror Strikes in the U.S. Growing
Posted by Troy Senik Print

James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, was on Capitol Hill earlier today to brief lawmakers on the biggest national security threats facing the nation in the year ahead. While there was some good news (Al Qaeda, for instance, has been substantially weakened by the death of Osama bin Laden and many of its other senior leaders), Clapper’s warnings about Iran were ominous. As the Washington Post reports it:

U.S. intelligence agencies believe that Iran is prepared to launch terrorist attacks inside the United States in response to perceived threats from America and its allies, the U.S. spy chief said Tuesday.

Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. said in prepared testimony that an alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington that was uncovered last year reflects an aggressive new willingness within the upper ranks of the Islamist republic to authorize attacks against the United States.

That plot “shows that some Iranian officials — probably including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei — have changed their calculus and are now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States in response to real or perceived U.S. actions that threaten the regime,” Clapper said in the testimony, which was submitted to the Senate Intelligence Committee in advance of a threat assessment hearing Tuesday. “We are also concerned about Iranian plotting against U.S. or allied interests overseas.”

Bracing stuff. It should now be clear that Iran poses a greater immediate national security threat to the U.S. than any other nation on earth. And our response — to the extent that we’ve had one — has been woefully inadequate.

One of the great ignominies of President Obama’s tenure in office was his decision not to side with the Iranian dissidents who rose up against the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009, missing an opportunity not only to advance our strategic interests in the region but also to put our moral capital on the line for a people yearning to throw off the hand of oppression. At the time, the president was more concerned with preserving his diplomatic options with the mullahs’ regime, even though their actions proved exactly why such overtures would be fruitless.

Though the White House now seems to have a slightly more acute sense of the dangers posed by Iran, the upshot has not been a more effective foreign policy. The current response of choice is to step up economic pressure through the widespread use of economic sanctions by the U.S. and our allies. This will fail to stem the tide of Iranian radicalism. Sanctions and their corresponding decline in economic growth only serve to make life less bearable for workaday citizens. That may make the regime less popular, but in an undemocratic system that’s a development that comes with little cash value.

Khamenei and his ilk are true believers, convinced that history is winding inevitably towards an outcome ordained for them by God. There’s not an instrument of policy sufficient to change that orientation — other than regime change.

January 11th, 2012 at 2:55 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: The Department of Wishful Thinking
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

January 3rd, 2012 at 5:00 pm
Tyranny, Thy Name is Syria
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Over the weekend, Nick Cohen in the UK Guardian provided halting testimony to just how macabre the  abuse of human rights by the Assad regime in Syria has become. From the piece:

To grasp the scale of the barbarism, listen to Hamza Fakher, a pro-democracy activist, who is one of the most reliable sources on the crimes the regime’s news blackout hides. “The repression is so severe that detainees are stacked alive and kicking in shipping containers and disposed off in the middle of the sea,” he told me. “It is so bad that they’ve invented a new way of torture in Aleppo where they heat a metal plate and force a detainee to stand on it until he confesses; imagine all the melting flesh reaching the bone before the detainee falls on the plate. It is so bad that all demonstrators have opted for armed resistance. They know it is about survival now, not about freedom any more. This needs to be highlighted: Syrians are fighting for their lives now, not for freedom.”

Looking back on 2011, remember that the Obama Administration pressured Hosni Mubarak to step down in Egypt despite the fact that it was clear that the upshot would damage American national security interests. We also intervened in Libya despite the fact that our interests there were peripheral at best. Now comes Syria: an ally of Iran, a sponsor of terrorism, and, as this article attests, an utterly wicked regime. Rarely is the confluence of our strategic interests and our moral interests so unambiguous. Let us hope that the administration doesn’t miss this opportunity, as it did in Iran in 2009.

November 18th, 2011 at 8:11 am
Podcast: Iran, GOP Presidential Field, ObamaCare and More
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Ken Blackwell, American Civil Rights Union Senior Fellow and contributing editor for Townhall.com, discusses the potential for an Israeli strike against Iran, the strengths and weaknesses of GOP presidential candidates and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to review ObamaCare.

Listen to the interview here.

October 18th, 2011 at 6:06 pm
How to Eviscerate a Pundit
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Regular readers of the blog know that there is a small gallery of Washington pundits that I simply cannot abide; not because I disagree with their views, but because I despise the predictability of their positions, the ballast of their prose, and the intellectual laziness of their work.

That’s a group that includes Tom Friedman, Joe Klein, and E.J. Dionne, amongst others. But there’s a special place in pundit hell for the professional joiner: the columnist who always has to march in lockstep with Beltway fashion. That’s why it’s so delightful to see the once-respectable Fareed Zakaria get noted in the New Republic’s list of over-rated DC thinkers. The précis is priceless:

Fareed Zakaria is enormously important to an understanding of many things, because he provides a one-stop example of conventional thinking about them all. He is a barometer in a good suit, a creature of establishment consensus, an exemplary spokesman for the always-evolving middle. He was for the Iraq war when almost everybody was for it, criticized it when almost everybody criticized it, and now is an active member of the ubiquitous “declining American power” chorus. When Obama wanted to trust the Iranians, Zakaria agreed (“They May Not Want the Bomb,” was a story he did for Newsweek); and, when Obama learned different, Zakaria thought differently. There’s something suspicious about a thinker always so perfectly in tune with the moment.

Indeed. Fareed Zakaria is a man who writes Gallup polls in paragraph form. Nice to see the media take notice.

September 23rd, 2011 at 3:21 pm
Top 10 Craziest UN Speeches

Foreign Policy offers a Top 10 list of the “craziest things ever said during a United Nations speech,” to help give context to today’s request for statehood recognition by the Palestinian Authority.

Among the leaders contributing to the list are Russia’s Nikita Khruschev (shoe banging and epithet); Palestine’s Yassir Arafat leading a “Zionism = racism” movement; Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez comparing President George W. Bush to Satan; and Iran’s Mahmoud  Ahmadinejad blaming the South Ossetia war on Israel.

Of the top ten, three include racist criticisms of Israel.  If Palestine gets statehood status and speaking privileges, expect that number to rise.

June 13th, 2011 at 10:30 am
Ramirez Cartoon – Iran’s Ahmadinejad: Look! Weiner!!
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

May 24th, 2011 at 3:21 pm
Pouring Cold Water on the Arab Spring
Posted by Troy Senik Print

The always-provocative strategist George Friedman (head of Austin-based STRATFOR) is out with a new analysis of President Obama’s Middle East policy today on RealClearWorld (caveat: Friedman is always provocative, but not always accurate. He wrote a 1991 book titled “The Coming War with Japan”). As usual, Friedman’s work is rife with insight, but no single passage deserves quotation as much as his dispassionate diagnosis of the Arab Spring:

The central problem from my point of view is that the Arab Spring has consisted of demonstrations of limited influence, in non-democratic revolutions and in revolutions whose supporters would create regimes quite alien from what Washington would see as democratic. There is no single vision to the Arab Spring, and the places where the risings have the most support are the places that will be least democratic, while the places where there is the most democratic focus have the weakest risings.

The piece deserves reading in its entirety for its thorough analysis of the region, but this is perhaps its most important point. The Middle East needs real change before hope becomes an appropriate response. Newsroom revolutions are not adequate.

February 18th, 2011 at 7:27 pm
Iran Tells Israel Not to Worry, Warships Sailing Past to Train in Syria

Who says Iran’s leaders don’t know how to lighten the mood?  With tensions in the Middle East boiling over – and Iran rumored to be behind many of the region’s revolutionary protests – the Islamic Republic is trying to downplay the threat of its decision to send two warships through Egypt’s Suez Canal and emerge off the coast of Israel.

Hard to blame Israeli officials in Tel Aviv for fearing the truth of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinijad’s repeated promises to destroy the Jewish state after getting the news about his navy’s surprise trip.  But as proof of Iran’s peaceful intentions the government offered two assurances.  First, the ships won’t carry any weapons or nuclear or chemical material.  Second, the duo is headed to Syria for training.

Unfortunately for Iran, its dishonest record of nuclear enrichment and ties to terrorist organizations in Syria and elsewhere aren’t fooling anyone – except the weakened Egyptian government looking to avoid a confrontation.

It’s worth noting that an Iranian warship going through the Suez Canal under the Mubarak reign is unthinkable.  Now, Israeli officials must consider more unthinkable scenarios with its sworn enemy soon sailing within sight of the Jewish homeland.

January 28th, 2011 at 2:31 pm
Mid East Situation Tests Obama’s Foreign Policy Leadership

If drawing a word picture of the increasingly uncivil unrest in the Middle East – and especially Egypt – the image would be dominated by the words “democracy,” “protest,” “youth,” and “change,” among others.  If the on-the-ground reporting and television pictures are to be believed, the one word uniting these themes is “hope.”  Specifically, hope in an end to corrupt government that robs people of wealth and ambition, as well as freedom and justice.

Writers of all stripes are focusing on the importance of President Barak Obama’s administration to ‘get it right’ on its position towards the protests in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Algeria, Lebanon, and Jordan.  To date, Obama’s only foreign policy precedent in this realm is the lack of solidarity he showed towards pro-reform forces in Iran.  Could this week’s much wider conflagration see the implosion of Obama’s claim to be the worldwide symbol of change-hope-youth-democracy-uplift?

The complicating factor in all this is an American strategic interest that supports secular dictators over Islamist radicals.  Continuing that choice makes sense if those are the only options, but the remarkable thing about the protests is that Islamist groups (like Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood) are not (yet) at the forefront of the movements.  Right now, it seems like most people are rebelling against the type of Mafioso government that keeps vast swaths of citizens repressed.

If nothing else, the knowledge and skill required at this level of foreign policy should serve as a warning to any 2012 presidential contenders (including the man likely to want a second term).  In these situations, you only get one chance to make the right decision, so you’d better be prepared.

October 19th, 2010 at 2:05 pm
From Tehran, With a Warning

A parallel alliance between the world’s governing thugs continues to follow a James Bond movie scenario: buffoonish villains pursuing absurdly dramatic evil.  Other than a shared penchant for casual clothing and over-the-top rhetoric, however, there’s nothing funny about the increasingly close alliance between Venezuela, Iran and Russia.

This week, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez is traveling to Russia and Iran to secure cooperation agreements on nuclear enrichment, oil production and other stick-in-the-eye measures to America and its allies.

At some point, Americans will wake up to a clutch of hostile nations that have nuclear weapons in volatile regions.  Hopefully, the Obama Administration is doing much more strategic planning than waiting for a Felix Leiter-type CIA operative to save the day.