In Bertolt Brecht’s drama, The Good Person Of Sechwan, the Gods are looking for a kindhearted individual. Their search almost ends in failure. Finally, they meet the prostitute, Shen Te. Judging her to be kind and magnanimous, they give her a large sum of money. Shen Te decides to open a tobacco shop. The news about her good fortune spreads like wildfire throughout the town. In no time, people invade her shop and pillage it. In order to avoid going bankrupt and for the sake of remaining a good person, Shen Te invents an uncle, Shui Ta, who possesses the toughness of a seasoned businessman. Shui Ta stops the bleeding by employing capitalist methods and principles. Naturally, the townspeople miss Shen Te. They accuse Shui Ta of murdering her. In court, Shen Te proves that she and Shui Ta are the same person. The moral of the story is that whoever wants to do good in a bad world must be ready to get tough. Continue reading
by Kelly Cobiella, Yuka Tachibana, and Ben Adams • NBC
The grandmother lifted her face to heaven and let out a high wail.
“I pray for this hell to end,” the 64-year-old said before crumpling onto the floor of her hut.
Kimy Hassan Sayfo’s daughters and granddaughters have been held captive by ISIS. Two daughters recently escaped but extremist fighters have kept her young granddaughters “for themselves,” she said.
Her story echoes those of countless others across this vast tent city full of Yazidis, a tiny and ancient religious minority reviled and persecuted by ISIS. Continue reading
Just three years ago, President Obama famously ridiculed GOP opponent Mitt Romney’s statement that Russia remained America’s main geopolitical foe by taunting: “The 1980s are calling to ask for their foreign policy back.”
Four years before that, Obama stood at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate to declare that once he became president, all people would join him around a global campfire, hold hands and put an end to the world’s evils and miseries.
Well, seven years into Obama’s presidency, the promised worldwide Kumbaya is instead global chaos — caused in large measure by his willful retreat from America’s position of leadership. Continue reading
For the Obama administration, there’s always a surprise when it comes to the Middle East. Having pulled out of Iraq before Iraq was ready, they were taken unawares by the Islamic State’s rise. Now Russia’s strategic moves to be the big dog on the block in the Mideast have thrown them for another loop.
Russia has forged an alliance with Syria, Iran and Iraq to share intelligence to destroy the Islamic State — without inviting the U.S. The pact has a powerful moral rationale, given the monstrosity of the enemy and the U.S. lack of will to fight. But it also will permanently extend Russian power in the region, something that Russia had under the USSR but that is also a longstanding imperial ambition dating back to the days of Vlad the Great. Continue reading
Iran, Russia, Syria, Iraq form joint war room
by Adam Kredo • Washington Free Beacon
A senior Iranian military leader warned this weekend that “all U.S. military bases in the Middle East are within the range of” Iran’s missiles and emphasized that the Islamic Republic will continue to break international bans on the construction of ballistic missiles.
Much of this missile work, like the details of Iran’s advanced arsenal, remains secret, according to Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force. Continue reading
by Caroline Glick • RealClearPolitics
The US has striven to achieve peaceable relations between the states of the Middle East for nearly 70 years. Yet today, US government is disparaging the burgeoning strategic ties between the Sunni Arab states and Israel.
In a briefing to a delegation of visiting Israeli diplomatic correspondents in Washington last week, a senior Obama administration official sneered that the only noticeable shift in Israel-Arab relations in recent years is that the current Egyptian government has been coordinating security issues “more closely” with Jerusalem than the previous one did.
“But we have yet to see that change materialize in the Gulf.”
If this is how the US views the state of Israel’s relations with the Arabs, then Israel should consider canceling its intelligence cooperation with the US. Because apparently, the Americans haven’t a clue what is happening in the Middle East.
First of all, to characterize the transformation of Israeli-Egyptian relations as a mere question of “more closely” coordinating on security issues is to vastly trivialize what has happened over the past two years. Continue reading
By Shawn Macomber • Lawfare Tyranny
Via the Kurdish media network Rudaw:
Commemorating the Day of International Criminal Justice, Halabja civil society organizations, authorities, civil society activists and victims of chemical weapons renewed their call in a joint statement demanding Iraq ratify the Rome Statute and join the International Criminal Court.
“In order to stop future genocides or stop the repetition of past genocides, the Iraqi government, to reassure the people of Kurdistan, must sign the Rome Statute and become a member of the International Criminal Court,” the statement read.
After decade upon decade of watching the innocent suffer and die in Iraq, this grasping hope is painfully understandable.
Alas, does anyone seriously think the Kurds or any other oppressed minority within Iraq will be “reassured” by the supposed umbrella of protection offered by an institution which after more than a decade and $1 billion dollars has precisely two convictions of obscure African warlords? Are we to believe a wannabe Saddam or ISIS will tremble at the thought of facing an organization the mostly issues self-aggrandizing press releases and lectures the world on why it will not apologize for its failures?
No. The ICC is chasing atrocities not deterring them, as is readily apparent to anyone not already in the tank for the Court.
In response to the recent awful-yet-sadly predictable video of Islamic State fighters destroying irreplaceable ancient artifacts in Mosul, the head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has come up with a brilliant plan — refer members of the apocalyptic cult to the International Criminal Court!
“We are expecting some reaction from the International Criminal Court,” Irina Bokova told reporters in Paris. “It’s very important because it will mobilize a big part of the international community.”
To which one might reply, “Mobilize how?”
By Charles Krauthammer • The Washington Post
His secretary of defense says, “The world is exploding all over.” His attorney general says that the threat of terror “keeps me up at night.” The world bears them out. On Tuesday, American hostage Kayla Mueller is confirmed dead. On Wednesday, the U.S. evacuates its embassy in Yemen, a country cited by President Obama last September as an American success in fighting terrorism.
Yet Obama’s reaction to, shall we say, turmoil abroad has been one of alarming lassitude and passivity. Continue reading
by Peter Huessy
In 2012, Robert Kaplan wrote in the “The Revenge of Geography” that countries of the “Heartland” and “Rimland”, stretching from North Korea southward through South Asia and into the Middle East were locked into a “deathly geographical embrace of overlapping missile ranges” as they seek to bolster their military capability by building long range rockets capable of coercing, terrorizing or blackmailing their neighbors. [ (1) “Kaplan Elevates the Place” by Alan Cate, in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, on September 18, 2012.]
In the past year, we have seen Hamas, an agent of Iran, try a new kind of diplomacy, if you will, while launching over 4500 rockets at Israel. [ (2) “The hidden intelligence agendas behind Hamas’ 1,000-rocket barrage”, July 14, 2014 DEBKAfile, Exclusive Report.] Continue reading
Public support for the president’s foreign policy is waning—and he’s losing Democratic lawmakers
by William A. Galston • Wall Street Journal
In March my Brookings colleague Robert Kagan memorably observed that President Obama was giving the American people the foreign policy they wanted—and they didn’t much like it. Overseas events have only deepened public concern. A Pew Research Center survey released Aug. 28 found that only 35% of people approve of the president’s handling of the crises in Iraq and Ukraine. Only 15% think we play a more important and powerful role in the world than we did a decade ago, compared with 48% who think our role is less important. And 65% believe that we live in a world more dangerous than it was a few years ago.
The Pew study also finds compelling evidence that Americans are beginning to change their minds about what they want. The share of those who think the U.S. does too much in the world has fallen to only 39% today, from 51% in November, while the share who thinks it does too little has nearly doubled, to 31% from 17%. In the early months of the Obama presidency, only 38% thought the president was “not tough enough” on national security; today, 54% believe that—a figure that includes more than one third of all Democrats. Continue reading
by Rich Lowry • Politico Magazine
What this means, he hasn’t spelled out in great specificity. Presumably fewer beheadings. A slower pace of Western recruiting. Fewer genocidal threats against embattled minorities. A downgrading of the caliphate to a mini-state, or merely a large swath of territory in Syria and Iraq.
The evil of ISIL has stirred nearly everyone around President Obama to ringing statements of resolve. Vice President Joe Biden says, “We will follow them to the gates of hell.” Secretary of State John Kerry tweets, “ISIL must be destroyed/will be crushed.” Continue reading
On Sunday, Massoud Barzani, President of Iraqi Kurdistan, called on the international community to provide arms directly to the Kurdish Regional Government to enable it to combat the barbarically brutal Islamic State. Iraq’s Kurds are pro-American. They govern their territory effectively and peaceably, and they are among the most tolerant people in the Muslim Middle East—qualities demonstrated anew, as they provide refuge to the hundreds of thousands who have fled the advances of the Islamic State and who include members of Iraq’s ancient Christian and Yazidi communities, as well as Shi’ite, and even Sunni, Arabs. Arming the Kurds would seem to have been an obvious step long ago, but President Obama insisted on routing U.S. arms through Baghdad and did not change U.S. policy, until after Barzani’s public appeal. Continue reading
by Dr. Miklos K. Radvanyi
The plight of Iraq is a true political disaster and a real human catastrophe. The fatal error of all parties involved in the the ongoing saga of Iraq since World War I had been twofold: lack of appreciation for the complex challenges rooted in the difficult conflicts and tensions among contradictory ideas, forces and situations, and ignorance for what is beyond the political, military, economic and moral powers of men and states. Moreover, no attention at all had been paid to the moral condition of the people, the political and religious leaders, and the dysfunctional nation. Finally, the existence of an almost total disconnect between the past and present, and the future of Iraq as a nation-state had resulted in a political vacuum that had enabled ruthless individuals and groups to violate repeatedly the relative stability of the status quo with impunity. Continue reading
The president is focused on leaving Iraq, no matter the cost to freedom and security.
While Iraq burns to the ground – a major international problem – President Barack Obama has occupied his time fiddling with the fringes of U.S. domestic policy. Of recent note are his courageous decision to issue an executive order allowing domestic partners to be buried together at national military cemeteries and trying to push an immigration reform package through Congress by creating a camera-ready crisis on the U.S. border with Mexico that tugs at the heartstrings of every feeling American.
Iraq is serious business, maybe too serious for this administration to handle. No less than Tony Blair – the former British Prime Minister who was Bush’s ally in the war, but Obama’s ally as far as matters of ideology are concerned – says it would be a mistake to blame what is happening now on the way things were left when the current president came to office on an anti-war platform that included bringing the troops home. Continue reading