Syria

PopeWatch: Father Benoka

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCEThe Cavalry that Christians throughout the Middle East, and particularly in Syria and Iraq have been undergoing continues unabated:

Pope Francis telephoned a priest serving refugees at a camp in northern Iraq last month after receiving a heartfelt letter from him about the suffering of Christians there.

Fr Behnam Benoka, who received the call, told the Zenit news agency that the Pope expressed his closeness to persecuted Christians and his gratitude at the work of volunteers. He also promised to do his utmost to relieve their suffering, the priest said.

Fr Benoka had sent a message via Viber to Rome-based journalist Alan Holdren, who handed it to the Pope on his return from South Korea.

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Syria and Iraq

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More from Strategy Page on the situation in Iraq and how it relates to the winding down of the revolt in Syria:

 

Currently ISIL is trying to gain complete control over eastern Syria and western Iraq. That is proving difficult because of continued resistance in Syria by government forces and Kurds as well as some rival Islamic terrorist groups (mainly al Nusra). In Iraq the Shia controlled government sent so many of their best units to Anbar that the security forces in Mosul collapsed and handed ISIL an unexpected victory. That appears to be backfiring because now the Shia government of Iraq has given in to years of Kurd demands that the autonomous Kurds of northern Iraq be allowed to take control of Mosul and Kirkuk and nearby oil fields. At this point the Iraqi government doesn’t have much choice. The Kurds will have to fight hard for Mosul and Kirkuk, but the Kurdish army (the Peshmerga) have been defeating Sunni Islamic terrorists for a long time. In this fight, the ISIL is the underdog. ISIL can afford to give up Mosul and Kirkuk because these are not historically Bedouin lands but rather Kurdish. The Kurds will be fighting harder for them. Ultimately ISIL wants to control their own homeland to the south. Once that is done ISIL believes their Holy Warriors can gain control of all of Syria and Iraq and then the world. This has never worked, in large part because of the extreme brutality these Holy Warriors use against their opponents. ISIL has been deliberately murdering Shia, Christian and Kurdish civilians in an effort to terrorize their groups into surrender. That is not working and rarely has in the last few centuries. All these groups have powerful foreign allies who work hard to help their kinsmen fight back.   

Despite these problems ISIL is real and dangerous. There’s a reason for that. Islamic terrorists have long been depicted in Arab culture as noble and pure warriors fighting to protect Islam. This is partly religion and partly culture but the reality is no Islamic radicals have ever managed to do any permanent good for the Moslem world. This truth gets realized and accepted eventually and then forgotten again. For example after the 2008 defeat of al Qaeda in Iraq, and the 90 percent decline in al Qaeda attacks there it was believed that Islamic terrorism was on the ropes once more and many Arabs were visibly relieved. But the Arab Spring changed all that. Terrorist attacks worldwide, most of them by Moslem religious radicals, more than doubled from 7,200 in 2009 to 18,500 in 2013.    

There have been many outbreaks of Islamic terrorism in the past but his time around the chief cause was state sponsored Islamic terrorism by Pakistan and a recent boost by the Arab Spring uprisings and continued financial support by wealthy Arabs in the Persian Gulf and fanatic young men throughout Arabia. The Pakistani policy of covertly supporting and encouraging Islamic terrorist groups began in the late 1970s and after September 11, 2001 there Islamic terrorists were increasingly out of Pakistani control. Thus Pakistan found itself in the position of continuing to support Islamic terrorists who attacked India and Afghanistan while fighting a growing number of disaffected terrorist groups at home that had declared war on Pakistan. The result was a huge spike in Islamic terrorist violence. For the Arab Spring countries it meant prolonged unrest and more Islamic terrorist deaths. Worse, it isn’t over, especially in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and Algeria. Over 200,000 have died so far in the Arab Spring countries, and millions more wounded, imprisoned or driven from their homes. Continue reading

Speak Loudly and Carry No Stick

 

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Obama, the anti-Theodore Roosevelt:

U.S. and Russian negotiators reached an agreement Saturday calling for an  inventory of Syria’s chemical weapons program and seizing all of its components  within a year. The plan includes imposing penalties if Syrian President Bashar  Assad’s government fails to turn over its stockpile.

Mr. Obama called it “an important step” toward ridding the world of chemical  weapons. But critics in Congress said the deal was toothless because the  administration agreed to withdraw from a proposed U.N. resolution the threat of  military action if Syria fails to comply.

“It’s not a matter of trust. It’s a matter of whether it will be enforced or  not,” Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”  “[Russia] will not agree to the use of force no matter what Bashar Assad  does.”

Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican and chairman of the House Permanent  Select Committee on Intelligence, said the U.S. gave up an important bargaining  chip.

“Not one ounce of chemical weapons came off the battlefield, but we’ve given  up every ounce of our leverage when it comes to trying to solve the broader  Syrian problem, because we’ve taken away a credible military threat,” the Mr.  Rogers said on CNN. Continue reading

Obama is Charlie Brown to Putin’s Lucy

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Well that didn’t take long.  Putin makes Obama look completely like a clown by reeling back the lifeline he tossed to him on Syria:

 

 

 

Russia is not keen at this stage for a binding U.N. Security Council resolution that would provide a framework to control Syria’s chemical weapons’ stocks, France’s foreign minister said after talks with his Russian counterpart on Tuesday.

“As I understood, the Russians at this stage were not necessarily enthusiastic, and I’m using euphemism, to put all that into the framework of a U.N. binding resolution,” Laurent Fabius told French lawmakers after a telephone conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Continue reading

Rank Amateurs

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I didn’t think the Syrian fiasco could get much worse.  Now it has.  Fearing the near certainty that Congress would not authorize an attack on Syria, Obama has supported a Russian proposal to have Assad turn over his chemical weapons to an international agency, presumably all of this to be supervised by Russia.  Actually the proposal first came out of the mouth of the Metternich of this administration:  John “Reporting for Duty!” Kerry, sans any Russian involvement, in an off hand response to a question. What is wrong with this:

1.  Assad will Cheat-Assad is fighting a life and death struggle to hang on to power.  The idea that he will not hang on to, and use, any chemical weapons he deems necessary to prevail is rubbish, and is a tribute to policy-as-make-believe that infests this administration and its supporters.

2.  Putin-Yeah, we can always rely upon this ex-KGB thug to act in the best interests of America.

3.   War Goes On-The Syrian opposition will not stop fighting until they are all dead or Assad is a corpse or fled.  Chemical weapon use is a symptom of a desperate civil war and that will go on.

4.  Russian influence in the Middle East-Obama has opened the door to renewed Russian influence in the Middle East, helping to ensure that future conflicts in the Middle East will have the possibility of a US-Russian clash.

5.  Paper Tiger-Mao in 1956 on the US:  “In appearance it is very powerful but in reality it is nothing to be afraid of; it is a paper tiger. Outwardly a tiger, it is made of paper, unable to withstand the wind and the rain. I believe that is nothing but a paper tiger.” 

In a very dangerous part of the world Obama is making sure that our enemies treat with complete contempt US threats and warnings, at least so long as he is President. Continue reading

Biden Predicted War in Syria!

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Our Veep and Beloved National Clown, on September 2, 2012, predicted the war against Syria.  He just was mistaken about the name of the man who wanted to go to war in Syria:

 

Vice President Joe Biden said Sunday that Republican rival Mitt Romney is  “ready to go to war in Syria and Iran” while hurting the middle class.

The warning came during a campaign stop in York, Pa., designed to promote  President Barack Obama’s economic policies  among white, working-class voters. The thrust of Biden’s pitch has been that  America is digging out from the 2008 economic collapse and that Romney would  take the country backward. But Biden, a foreign policy heavyweight, also  cautioned voters that Romney would adopt policies that favor confrontation over  cooperation.

“He said it was a mistake to end the war in Iraq and bring all of our  warriors home,” Biden said of Romney. “He said it was a mistake to set an end  date for our warriors in Afghanistan and bring them home. He implies by the  speech that he’s ready to go to war in Syria and Iran.”

Biden made the claim about Syria and Iran without offering specifics; his  campaign did not immediately respond to a request for details and he did not use  similar language on Syria and Iran at a later stop in Green Bay,  Wis.

Romney’s campaign dismissed the criticism. “It’s no wonder that a politician  who has been wrong about every major foreign policy question of the last 30  years is wrong on every count about Gov. Romney’s strategy to restore America’s  leadership role in the world,” spokeswoman Amanda Hennenberg said.

Romney has said he would consider military action in Syria if the war-torn  country’s chemical weapons were at risk of falling into the wrong hands. Obama,  who has opposed military action in Syria, has made similar remarks, calling it a “red  line” for the U.S. if Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime were to use  chemical or biological weapons. Continue reading

Profiles in Obama

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What an Obama like Senatorial delegation Massachusetts has.  Ed Markey, a truly worthless machine pol from Massachusetts, voted present on the Syrian resolution.  Fauxcahontas  Elizabeth Warren, the other seat warmer in the Senate from the Bay State, has indicated she has not yet determined how she is going to vote when the Resolution comes before the whole Senate.  I understand the dilemma.  Obama is the closest thing to a god that many liberals worship, and default pacifism is their lockstep answer to any foreign conflict.  What to do, what to do when the god and the dogma come into conflict?  Run and hide!  (A lot more Democrats than Markey and Warren will be doing just that before this Syrian debacle runs its course.)

Various & Sundry, 9/4/13

The Priest’s Side of the Confessional

When Simcha Fisher wrote last week about reasons to go to Confession, someone protested that Priests would be feel burnt out from hearing too many Confessions.

Well scratch that excuse off the list because Priests actually get quite a lot out of administering the Sacrament.

Permits for Baptism

Elaine mentioned this in the comments of yesterday’s post.

A few weeks ago my office in Rolla received a phone call from church members who expressed concern about the Park Service requiring permits for Baptisms in the rivers of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. Yes, you read that correctly, the Park Service was actually requiring churches and pastors to get a permit in order to perform Baptisms.

After learning of this ridiculous rule, I immediately contacted Bill Black, the Superintendent of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. In a letter, I expressed my serious concerns about the permit requirement and need for a 48-hour notice. I told Superintendent Black that the permit requirement would hurt church ceremonies that have happened in our region for generations and the condition also would infringe upon the religious liberties of the families living in the Eighth District.

The Superintendent reversed this silly rule, but this is just the beginning.

Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens to Promote Obamacare in Maryland

And just when the thug Ray Lewis was no longer a member of the team, now there’s another reason to despise the franchise located 35 miles to my north.

It’s the first official partnership formed with a sports franchise to encourage participation in President Obama’s signature healthcare law.

The White House had sought national partnerships on ObamaCare with the NBA and the NFL, but both leagues backed away under pressure from congressional Republicans.

Obama’s Last Intervention Has Really Worked Out Well

Hey, remember our last efforts at helping out that Arab Spring? The results aren’t so hot.

Yet now Libya has almost entirely stopped producing oil as the government loses control of much of the country to militia fighters.

Mutinying security men have taken over oil ports on the Mediterranean and are seeking to sell crude oil on the black market. Ali Zeidan, Libya’s Prime Minister, has threatened to “bomb from the air and the sea” any oil tanker trying to pick up the illicit oil from the oil terminal guards, who are mostly former rebels who overthrew Muammar Gaddafi and have been on strike over low pay and alleged government corruption since July.

As world attention focused on the coup in Egypt and the poison gas attack in Syria over the past two months, Libya has plunged unnoticed into its worst political and economic crisis since the defeat of Gaddafi two years ago. Government authority is disintegrating in all parts of the country putting in doubt claims by American, British and French politicians that Nato’s military action in Libya in 2011 was an outstanding example of a successful foreign military intervention which should be repeated in Syria.

The Buck Stops Way, Way Over There

Every now and then I reflect on what a cowardly, petulant individual we have in the White House, and I just weep.

Enough of Woody Allen Catholicism

Pat Archbold thinks it’s time we have a bit more John Wayne and little bit less Woody Allen.

Alert Jody Bottum

Even noted non-social conservative Ace of Spades is getting sickened by the bullying of Christian businesses.

But what we see here in Oregon — as we saw earlier in New Mexico, and as we will see everywhere, unless we do not pass a law sharply delimiting people’s right to sue people for unamerican, subversive crime of nonconformity with the current temporary government’s ephemeral cultural allegiances — is the attempt of a group of people who have long contended that they merely wish to be left alone to live their lives in peace suddenly feeling a little power and deciding that now that they have a short-term burst of political muscle, they may now indulge in the bullying and coercion they once thought was kind of a bad thing.

Northern California County Votes for Secession

Not gonna happen, but still amusing.

Jack Won’t Be Back

Nicholson is done with acting. While many will no doubt remember him most for scenes from The Shining and A Few Good Men, this is my favorite Nicholson role.

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Top Ten Reasons Syria Differs From Iraq

 

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President Obama was an ardent critic of the war in Iraq.  Here are suggestions for arguments to be made explaining how intervention in Syria is completely different from intervention in Iraq.

1.  Assad has used chemical weapons on Syrians which is a terrible crime against humanity, unlike Saddam who used chemical weapons against Iraqis which is permissible.

2.  The US intervention into Syria will be a proud go it alone venture by the US, unlike Bush who mucked up the Iraqi intervention with lots of allies.

3.  Obama is a Nobel Peace Prize winner, so we can trust him unlike that cowboy Bush.

4.  Michele Obama is proud of this intervention.

5.  John Kerry is onboard with this intervention unlike Iraq which he supported until he changed his  mind. Continue reading

Various & Sundry, 9/3/13

Tonight’s V&S has a Syria-heavy theme. It’s pretty much what everyone’s talking about, so I apologize in advance.

Not so Smart Power

If there’s a sub-theme to tonight’s post it’s that everything you heard Democrats say a few years vis a vis foreign policy has basically been discredited within the past few weeks – if not more. Jim Geraghty discussed this in his Morning Jolt, parts of which he highlighted on NRO.

As we await Congress’s decision on authorizing the use of U.S. military force in Syria, Democrats are suddenly realizing that their foreign-policy brain-trust completely misjudged the world.

Being nicer to countries like Russia will not make them nicer to you. The United Nations is not an effective tool for resolving crises. Some foreign leaders are beyond persuasion and diplomacy. There is no “international community” ready to work together to solve problems, and there probably never will be.

You can pin this on Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Susan Rice, but most of all, the buck stops with the president. Those of us who scoffed a bit at a state senator ascending to the presidency within four years on a wave of media hype and adoration are not quite so shocked by this current mess. We never bought into this notion that getting greater cooperation from our allies, and less hostility from our enemies, was just a matter of giving this crew the wheel and letting them practice, as Hillary Clinton arrogantly declared it, “smart power.” (These people can’t even label a foreign-policy approach without reminding us of how highly they think of themselves.) They looked out at the world at the end of the Bush years, and didn’t see tough decisions, unsolvable problems, unstable institutions, restless populations, technology enabling the impulse to destabilize existing institutions, evil men hungry for more power, and difficult trade-offs. No, our problems and challengers were just a matter of the previous hands running U.S. foreign policy not being smart enough.

The President Must Make His Case Directly

Kurt Schlicter, meanwhile, argues that the President must make his appeal for war directly to the people. His column is worth reading if only for the first few paragraphs.

The grossly obese Syrian officer was coming in the door of the King Khalid Military City exchange while I was coming out. I saw instantly that this was no soldier; this was a thug, a threat only to the unarmed civilians that are his kind’s prey. My eyes fell downward from his cruel face to the piece of flair gracing his olive green fatigues.

“Nice Assad button,” I sneered. Real warriors don’t wear pictures of dictators on their uniform. He glared back at me with his dark, rat eyes, not understanding my words but fully appreciating my contempt. Though Syria was a putative coalition partner, I knew I was staring at an enemy.

Not much has changed since Operation Desert Storm. The Syrian regime’s “soldiers” are still just punks fit only to oppress the defenseless, unable to even hold their own against a ragged band of barely-armed insurgents. But like the vast majority of Americans, I have grave concerns about attacking them.

Guess Who Came to Dinner

Yes, I know there’s a limit to these gotcha games, but in light of all the mileage the left got out of the picture of Donald Rumsfeld shaking Saddam’s hand, this is delightful.

Speaking of shaking hands, heh.

Russia’s False Concern for Children

Not directly related to Syria, though it does concern its BFF.

 

Syria: Never Mind!

 

 

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After coming under intense criticism for his decision to intervene in Syria,  Obama stunned his aides by at the last moment deciding to consult with Congress after all:

 

 

 

After a 45-minute walk Friday night, President Barack Obama made a fateful decision that none of his top national security advisers saw coming: To seek congressional authorization before taking military action in Syria.

The stunning about-face after a week of U.S. saber rattling risked not only igniting a protracted congressional fight, which could end with a vote against strikes, but a backlash from allies in the Middle East who had warned the White House that inaction would embolden not only Syrian President Bashar al-Assad but his closest allies, Iran and Hezbollah.

Aides said the decision was made by Mr. Obama and Mr. Obama alone. It shows the primacy the president places on protecting his hoped-for legacy as a commander in chief who did everything in his power to disentangle the U.S. from overseas wars. Until Friday night, Mr. Obama’s national-security team didn’t even have an option on the table to seek a congressional authorization.

The only real discussion was a plan to punish Mr. Assad for what the U.S. and others have called a chemical-weapons attack amid Syria’s grinding civil war. The final question, policy makers thought, was how many targets to hit and when to tell the Navy destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean to open fire. Continue reading

Ditto

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Some of the best analysis of political issues on the net is contained at the site Baseball Crank.  The site owner loves baseball and has many posts about it.  I, to put it mildly, do not share this passion.  However, I do read each of his non-sports post with keen interest.  In regard to his perspective on the situation in Syria I found myself nodding repeatedly as I read it:

 

There are many good reasons to wish to be rid of the brutal Assad regime, long an Iranian proxy, sponsor of Hezbollah, supporter of the insurgency against the U.S. in Iraq, shelterer (and maybe backer) of culprits in the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing that killed 241 U.S. Marines, oppressor of Lebanon and assassin of its prime minister, enemy of Israel and perpetrator of serial massacres against its own people.  But it seems increasingly likely that the alternatives to Assad would be even worse, ranging from domination of Syria by Al Qaeda and its Sunni extremist allies to splintering into an anarchic failed state.  As it stands, the Syrian civil war is a proxy battle between Assad’s backers (Iran and Russia) and the backers of the rebel resistance (Saudi Arabia and Turkey).  It doesn’t need more combatants who intend to show up, lob in a bunch of missiles and leave without resolving anything, and for the U.S. to control the post-Assad situation to our advantage would require a huge and for many reasons infeasible commitment of ground troops.  We did that in Iraq in part so we would not have to do it again every time there was an opportunity to topple a dictator in the Greater Middle East – we can leave the locals to resolve these things themselves.  Recent experiences in Egypt and Libya show that the public in the region hungers for change and a greater voice in how their countries are governed, but hardly inspire confidence that the results will be less anti-American or more respectful of individual liberty.  The fact that Syria affects the interests of the U.S. and its allies does not mean that we currently have any options on the table that would advance those interests. Continue reading

Various & Sundry, 8/30/13

Kevin William’s Modest Proposal

Kevin Williamson thinks Allison Benedikt is right – rich liberals have a moral obligation to send their kids to public school. And he has a way to make it fair.

People hold capital in the form that brings them the best returns, and for the modestly affluent professional class, your lawyers and high-school principals and such, holding capital in the form of a nice house in a neighborhood with good schools provides the maximum return. Ms. Benedikt, savvy social observer that she is, concedes that “rich people might cluster.” (Might?) That the main trend in socioeconomic migration over the last few centuries or so seems to have escaped her here is not my particular concern, but it should be pointed out that the enemies of private education generally fail to consider the extent to which that rich-guy clustering provides advantages beyond high-quality schools. The development of social and professional networks, prestige, learning high-status habits and manners, etc., all are enormously important perks associated with living among the well-to-do. (I believe it was WFB who observed that a sufficiently motivated student could get a Yale-quality education practically anywhere, but that’s not what Yale is for.) The difference between a summer job answering phones at your neighbor’s law firm and a summer job mowing grass (or, more common, no summer job at all) is considerable. Redistributing funds is not sufficient; we have to redistribute people.

What we obviously must do, therefore, is turn rich white liberals out of their homes.

Ideally, they would relocate to the very worst neighborhoods, where, applying the Benedikt principle, they would do the most good. But I do not really care where they go, so long as they go.

Why a medieval peasant got more vacation time than you

They didn’t transfer feasts to Sunday, that’s why.

That said, I wouldn’t volunteer to change places.

Good to see fascism is still alive in Germany

At 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, August 29, 2013, in what has been called a “brutal and vicious act,” a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, forcibly removing all four of the family’s children (ages 7-14). The sole grounds for removal were that the parents, Dirk and Petra Wunderlich, continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were taken to unknown locations. Officials ominously promised the parents that they would not be seeing their children “anytime soon.”

Just Timberlake as the Riddler?

Couldn’t be any worse than the choice for the next Batman.

Ya Think?

A House panel says that Obama needs Congressional approval before attacking Syria. What, do they think this is a constitutional republic with clearly delineated lines of  authority?

Hot Summer Snark

Larry D announced the winner of the summer’s hottest contest.

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