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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

David Brooks, "The Alienated Mind": Can We Swat Donald Away à la Melania?

"All hope abandon, ye who enter here."

― Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy

Yeah, we're f**ked.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Alienated Mind," David Brooks concludes:

"Impeached or not, it’s hard to see how Trump recovers as an effective governing force. Now is the moment for a new establishment to organize, to address the spirit of alienation that gave rise to Trump, but which transcends him."

David is right: Trump cannot recover as an effective governing force, any more than he can recover from his narcissistic personality disorder. But that being the case, how do you convince him to quietly abandon the Oval Office for the good of the country?

Can you swat him away, as did Melania on the Ben Gurion tarmac? I don't think so.

A "new establishment" that transcends the Donald? Brooks fails to grasp that it was the spirit of alienation that also gave rise to Obama, who embittered White Americans throughout the Rust Belt, thereby bringing Trump to power.

Get used to it, we've entered an age of darkness, rudeness, intolerance and alienation, which is not going anywhere anytime soon.

New York Times Editorial, "President Trump’s Mideast Contradictions": Rouhani a "Moderate"?

In an editorial entitled "President Trump’s Mideast Contradictions," The New York Times observes with respect to Trump's initial stopover in Saudi Arabia on his first overseas trip:

"The Saudi human rights record is no better than Iran’s."

The Times is correct in this regard: Iran stones to death women accused of adultery and hangs gay men, while Saudi Arabia lashes and imprisons women who have been gang-raped and beheads persons accused of witchcraft. However, having established that Saudi Arabia is no better than Iran concerning human rights, the Times editorial goes on to lavish praise upon Iran's recently re-elected president:

"Even as Mr. Trump reaffirmed America’s partnership with the conservative Saudi royals, Iranians were re-electing a moderate, Hassan Rouhani, as president and reaffirming their interest in engagement with the West."

Ah yes, Rouhani the "moderate." Who cares if Iran, under Rouhani's leadership, executes more persons per capita than any other country in the world? Moreover, as reported by Iran's Fars News Agency in December 2015:

"Iran's President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday ordered Defense Minister General Hossein Dehqan to enhance and accelerate development of the country's missile capability in response to the United States' new sanctions against Tehran's defense program.

President Rouhani noted the United States' "hostile policies and illegal and illegitimate meddling against Iran's right to develop its defensive power", and ordered the defense minister to accelerate production of various types of missiles needed by the Iranian Armed Forces more powerfully.

'As the United States seems to plan to include the names of new individuals and firms in its previous list of cruel sanctions in line with its hostile policies and illegitimate and illegal meddling in the Islamic Republic of Iran's right to reinvigorate its defense power, the program for the production of the Armed Forces' needed missiles is required to continue more speedily and seriously,' President Rouhani's written order to the Defense Minister read.

President Rouhani's decree came in reaction to the US Treasury Department's announcement that it is preparing sanctions on two Iran-linked networks helping develop the missile program.

The presidential decree also required the defense ministry to think of new missile production programs at a much wider scale in case Washington continues its sanctions policy against Iran's defense industries."

Have you any doubt as to whom those missiles will be directed against? Rouhani declared in 2013, "The Zionist regime is a wound that has sat on the body of the Muslim world for years and needs to be removed."

 And as reported by Iran's Fars News Agency in August 2015:

"'We will purchase weapons from wherever we deem necessary and we are not waiting for anyone's permission; if we deem necessary we will sell our weapons and we will do this without paying attention to any resolution,' President Rouhani said, addressing a ceremony held to commemorate the National Defense Industry Day in Iran on Saturday." 

Or stated otherwise, Iran will continue to import whatever arms systems they desire and freely transfer them to Hezbollah and Hamas for use against Israel.

Seeking a more nuanced approach to Iran, the Times editorial concludes:

"Mr. Trump’s determination to forge an anti-Iran alliance with the Sunni Arab states and isolate Iran could drift into military confrontation. The nuclear agreement negotiated between Iran and the United States could unravel, causing a split with America’s European allies. These are consequences that Mr. Trump, in his enthusiasm for Saudi Arabia, seems to have thought little about."

Apparently unbeknownst to the author of this editorial, such a confrontation already occurred last week in southern Syria, when US warplanes attacked an Iranian-commanded Hezbollah convoy which was approaching US, British and Jordanian special forces. Also apparently unbeknownst to the author of this editorial with respect to Obama's sacrosanct unsigned nuclear deal, a "moderate" Rouhani informed Iran's Supreme Cultural Revolution Council in 2004:

"While we were talking with the Europeans in Tehran, we were installing equipment in parts of the facility in Isfahan. . . . in fact, by creating a calm environment, we were able to complete the work in Isfahan. Today, we can convert yellowcake into UF4 and UF6, and this is a very important matter."

Bottom line, with "moderates" like Rouhani, who needs "radicals"?

Friday, May 19, 2017

Michael Doran, "A Trump Doctrine for the Middle East?": A Must Read

You will recall that on Wednesday, I wrote:

"Currently, unbeknownst to most Americans, US, British and Jordanian special forces are on a collision course with Iranian-commanded Hezbollah troops in southern Syria, who are seeking to extend Khamenei's suzerainty over Syria's borders with Jordan and Israel, all with Russian approval."

Well, we have now seen the first confrontation between the two opposing sides, although limited in nature. US warplanes attacked an approaching Hezbollah convoy, and destroyed several vehicles and one tank. Now we must wait and see if the warning is heeded. Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov labeled the air strikes "completely unacceptable."

Separately, I can't remember the last time I enjoyed reading a New York Times op-ed; however, Mr. Michael Doran's "A Trump Doctrine for the Middle East?" is an exception to the rule. It is a must read for anyone interested in the Middle East.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Margaret Sullivan, "Trump’s wish to jail reporters is more than possible. Ask his international friends.":

In a Washington Post article entitled "Trump’s wish to jail reporters is more than possible. Ask his international friends.," Margaret Sullivan writes that "President Trump warmly welcomed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the White House." She continues:

"New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet told me he found appalling Trump’s suggestion [to jail journalists] (which surfaced in a leaked memo from former FBI director James B. Comey), but not entirely surprising.

'He doesn’t understand our role. He wants ‘Fox & Friends’ coverage instead,' Baquet said.

Trump’s embrace of Erdogan — who may be the leading jailer of journalists in the world — should come as no surprise."

But hey, didn't President Obama declare Erdogan to be one of his five best overseas friends?

And as reported in a May 20, 2013 WaPo article entitled "Justice Department’s scrutiny of Fox News reporter James Rosen in leak case draws fire" by Ann E. Marimow, wasn't it Obama's Justice Department that "investigated the newsgathering activities of a Fox News reporter as a potential crime in a probe of classified leaks"?

Don't get me wrong: Trump, a poster boy narcissist, is entirely unqualified to serve as president of the United States; however, Obama's conduct paved the way for this buffoon.

David Brooks, "When the World Is Led by a Child": Giving Trump Too Much Credit

With every passing day, the Middle East becomes more of a powder keg. Currently, unbeknownst to most Americans, US, British and Jordanian special forces are on a collision course with Iranian-commanded Hezbollah troops in southern Syria, who are seeking to extend Khamenei's suzerainty over Syria's borders with Jordan and Israel, all with Russian approval. Who blinks first? Let's wait and see.

Meanwhile, Assad is operating a crematorium, built north of Damascus beside Sednaya prison, in order to dispose of thousands of bodies of executed detainees. As reported by Karen DeYoung in a Washington Post article entitled "U.S. says Syria built crematorium to handle mass prisoner killings":

"Accusations of mass murder and incinerated bodies, evoking the Holocaust, contrasted with last week’s Washington visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. They were pictured shaking hands and broadly smiling with President Trump before an Oval Office meeting in which discussions centered on Syria."

A Trump meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak at this juncture? Hard to fathom. As declared by acting US assistant secretary of state Stuart Jones, "We believe that the building of a crematorium is an effort to cover up the extent of mass murders taking place in Sednaya prison." Jones went on to say, "These atrocities have been carried out seemingly with the unconditional support from Russia and Iran."

Worse still, we are now learning that Trump divulged to Lavrov and Kislyak highly classified information, provided by Israeli intelligence, concerning an ISIS plot to blow up a US-bound passenger plane, by means of a laptop laden with explosives. This, in turn, has jeopardized the life of the Israeli spy embedded in ISIS, who provided the data.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "When the World Is Led by a Child," David Brooks responds to Trump's leak of intelligence secrets by observing:

"We’ve got this perverse situation in which the vast analytic powers of the entire world are being spent trying to understand a guy whose thoughts are often just six fireflies beeping randomly in a jar."

Six? That's about five too many.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

New York Times Editorial, "A Syrian Plan Worth a Look": Who Cares If Iranian Forces Are Placed on the Border With Israel

In an editorial entitled "A Syrian Plan Worth a Look," The New York Times declares that "the Trump administration would be derelict if it did not give serious consideration to a plan for a cease-fire and safe zones [in Syria] brokered by Russia, with the backing of Turkey and Iran." The editorial goes on to say:

"The plan would allow displaced or embattled Syrians to relocate to the designated safe areas, still held by rebels unaffiliated with the Islamic State, and enable aid deliveries to some 4.5 million people at risk. It also calls for all parties to fight jihadists like the Islamic State and the Qaeda-linked group once known as the Nusra Front."

Nowhere in this editorial is there any mention of Israel, but why should there be? After all, the plan provides for Iranian troops on the Syrian border with Israel in the Golan Heights.

Excuse me, but isn't it Iran that regularly calls for the annihilation of Israel?

And how wonderful that the plan "also calls for all parties to fight jihadists," but is the Assad regime, which continues to drop sarin gas on its own people, any better than these other monsters?

Who writes this drivel for the Times?

Sunday, April 30, 2017

New York Times Editorial, "Israel Sees Critics as Enemies": More Obsessive Israel Bashing

In an April 28, 2017 editorial entitled "Israel Sees Critics as Enemies," The New York Times begins by observing:

"The refusal of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to receive the German foreign minister because of a meeting the German held with a veterans’ peace group is not in itself a major incident in Israeli-German relations. Germany’s history alone ensures it will remain Israel’s staunch supporter. What is troubling, rather, is Mr. Netanyahu’s increasingly illiberal pattern of treating critics of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands — domestic and foreign — as enemies.

The flash point in this case was a meeting Germany’s foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, held with some nongovernmental groups while on a visit to Israel. One of these groups, called Breaking the Silence, is particularly reviled among right-wing Israelis because it gathers anonymous testimonies from Israeli soldiers about their service in occupied territories, often highlighting hardships imposed on the Palestinians. So Mr. Netanyahu canceled his meeting with Mr. Gabriel, proclaiming that he would not welcome diplomats who met with organizations that, he said, 'slander' Israeli soldiers."

Got it: Breaking the Silence is an Israeli "veterans' peace group." After all, according to the Times editorial, "Breaking the Silence has support from former high-ranking Israeli military officers." Unfortunately, it's not so simple...

As reported by Israel Hayom in a January 17, 2017 newsletter entitled "Breaking the Silence: Shooting soldiers is not terrorism":

"According to a Channel 20 report, [Breaking the Silence's] public relations coordinator, Nadav Weiman, told activists, 'If you shoot at soldiers, you are trying to kill soldiers. You are not a terrorist.'

Weiman made the statements to two activists for right-wing organization Ad Kan who were posing as radical leftists to penetrate Breaking the Silence.

'If there is another country that is conquering your country, the area where you live, you are allowed to use violent means to fight the conquering entity, only ... against soldiers and police officers, but if you stab a soldier at a checkpoint, that is not a terrorist attack,' Weiman said."

As reported by The Algemeiner in a June 15, 2016 article entitled "Newly Released Footage Reveals Controversial Whistle-Blower Breaking the Silence Telling Tourists That Israeli Settlers Poisoned Palestinian Wells":

"A newly released video reveals a co-founder of the NGO Breaking the Silence (BtS) telling tourists that Israeli settlers poisoned Palestinian wells, the Hebrew news site nrg reported on Tuesday.

According to the report, the clip was filmed by an undercover member of the right-wing 'Ad Kan' group, which seeks to expose activities of left-wing Israeli organizations which receive foreign funding.

In the video, which was filmed less than two years ago, Yehuda Shaul can be heard addressing a group of foreign visitors to the southern Hebron Hills in Judea (the West Bank). Speaking in English, he tells the visitors that residents of the Palestinian village of Susiya had only recently returned to their homes after being forced to leave several years earlier, when settlers poisoned their drinking water supply system."

Poisoned wells? Yeah, right.

And also as reported by The Algemeiner in a January 1, 2016 article entitled "How Breaking the Silence Lost Israel’s Trust":

"Breaking the Silence (BtS), which has been controversial for more than 10 years, gained real notoriety following the 2009 Gaza War. BtS — knowingly or unknowingly — questioned Israel’s inherent right to self-defense, and supported efforts to prosecute Israeli officials and soldiers (because allegations published by BtS resonated internationally and were used as ammunition by those siding against Israel). It also emerged at the time that several BtS funders conditioned their donations on obtaining minimum numbers of incriminating “testimonies” against the Israeli army from former soldiers. For instance, a document obtained by NGO Monitor from the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits shows similar demands from the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, the Dutch church-based aid organization ICCO (primarily funded by the Dutch government), and Oxfam Great Britain (funded by the British government).

Israelis quickly recognized that these so-called testimonies were serving a political objective, one that increasingly was seen as helping defame and demonize Israeli soldiers. In the left-wing daily Haaretz, Amos Harel wrote: “Breaking the Silence…has a clear political agenda, and can no longer be classified as a ‘human rights organization.’”"

Claiming that Breaking the Silence is "is particularly reviled among right-wing Israelis," the Times editorial concludes:

"Israel’s vibrant democracy has always been one of its great strengths, and it is in open and democratic debate — and not in a threatening “with us or against us” posture — that issues as critical to Israel’s future as the occupation must be discussed."

However, as observed by Yair Lapid, chairman of the centrist Israeli political party Yesh Atid in December 2015:

"Criticism is constructive for our society, but there is a significant difference between criticism and defaming IDF officers and soldiers abroad. That is not criticism; that is undermining the foundations of the state. Organizations like Breaking the Silence have crossed the red line between criticism and subversion."

Bottom line: This is just one more obsessive attack upon Israel, lacking any objectivity, coming from The New York Times.