“For in a Republic, who is ‘the country?’ Is it the Government which is for the moment in the saddle? Why, the Government is merely a servant — merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn’t. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them.” — Mark Twain[Samuel Langhorne Clemens] (1835-1910
On Tuesday, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps forcibly commandeered the Maersk Tigris as navigated its way through the Straits of Hormuz. Iran controls the strategic waterway through which 40 percent of seaborne oil and a quarter of seaborne gas transits to global markets.
The Maersk Tigris is flagged to the Marshall Islands. The South Pacific archipelago gained its independence from the US in 1986 after signing a treaty conceding its right to self-defense in exchange for US protection. According to the treaty, the US has “full authority and responsibility for security and defense of the Marshall Islands.”
Given the US’s formal, binding obligation to the Marshall Islands, the Iranian seizure of the ship was in effect an act of war against America.
In comments to Bloomberg hours after the ship was seized, Junior Aini, chargé d’affairs at the Marshall Islands Embassy in Washington, indicated that his government’s only recourse is to rely on the US to free its ship.
Immediately after the incident began, the US Navy deployed a destroyer to the area. But that didn’t seem to make much of an impression on the Iranians. More significant than the naval movement was the fact that the Obama administration failed to condemn their unlawful action.
If the administration continues to stand by in the face of Iran’s aggression, the strategic implications will radiate far beyond the US’s bilateral ties with the Marshall Islands. If the US allows Iran to get away with unlawfully seizing a Marshall Islands flagged ship it is treaty bound to protect, it will reinforce the growing assessment of its Middle Eastern allies that its security guarantees are worthless.
As the Israel Project’s Omri Ceren put it in an email briefing to journalists, “the US would be using security assurances not to shield allies from Iran but to shield Iran from allies.”
But President Barack Obama apparently won’t allow a bit of Iranian naval piracy to rain on his parade. This week Obama indicated that he feels very good about where his policy on Iran now stands. And he has every reason to be satisfied. With each day that passes, the chance diminishes that his nuclear deal with the mullahs will be scuppered.
On the one hand, the Iranians are signaling that they are willing to sign a deal with the Great Satan. And this makes sense. For them the deal has no downside.
First there’s the money. Last week the State Department indicated that it won’t rule out paying Iran a $50 billion “signing bonus.” The $50b. would be an advance on Iranian funds that have been frozen in Western banks under the terms of the sanctions regime that would be lifted in the event a deal is concluded.
Iran can do a lot with $50b.
Iran is spending $3b. a month to finance its war in Syria. With $50b. in their pockets the ayatollahs can fight for another year and a half without selling a barrel of oil.
According to a report earlier this week on Channel 10, during Syrian Defense Minister General Fahd al-Freij’s visit to Tehran this week, he was instructed to enable Hezbollah to open a front against Israel on the Golan Heights. Iran’s “signing bonus” would pay for Iran’s new war against Israel.
As for their nuclear weapons program, even Obama admitted that when his deal expires in 10 years, Iran will have the capacity to build nuclear weapons at will.
Iran can get around the ideological issue of signing with its theological foe by focusing its hatred on the US Congress, something Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif did effortlessly at a press conference in New York on Wednesday.
At home as well, Obama no longer faces serious opposition to his Iran policy. The Iranian Nuclear Agreement Review Act, the bill now being debated on the Senate floor, ensures that Congress will have no ability to stand in the way of the deal. In contrast to the provisions of the US Constitution that require a two-third Senate majority to approve an international treaty, the Senate bill requires a two-third majority of senators to block the implementation of Obama’s nuclear deal with the greatest state sponsor of terrorism.
Obama has successfully bullied centrist Democrat senators into abandoning their concern for US national security and supporting his deal.
They in turn have convinced centrist Republicans – and AIPAC – to push forward the legislation and so turn Congress into partner in Obama’s nuclear gambit.
Attempts by Republican senators, including presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, to attach amendments to the bill that would require Congress to either treat the deal as an international treaty, or at the very least require a simple majority to reject it, have been strenuously opposed not only by the Democrats, but by the Republican leadership as well.
OBAMA’S CONFIDENCE that his deal will go through has freed him up to mark the next target of his foreign policy in what he recently referred to as the “fourth quarter” of his presidency: Israel.
According to a report in Foreign Policy, the administration is now seeking to delay anti-Israel resolutions at the UN Security Council – including a French draft resolution that would require Israel to surrender all of Judea and Samaria and northern, southern and eastern Jerusalem to the Palestinians – until after the deal with Iran is concluded at the end of June. According to the report, the administration doesn’t want to upset pro-Israel Democrats while it still needs them to approve the deal with Iran.
But Obama has no problem with marking the target.
And so, on Monday, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman did just that.
In an address before Reform Jews, Sherman issued a direct threat against Israel. In her words, “If the new Israeli government is seen to be stepping back from its commitment to a two-state solution, that will make our job in the international arena much tougher… it will be harder for us to prevent internationalizing the conflict.”
In an apparent attempt to soften the harsh impression Sherman’s statement made on the Israeli public, on Wednesday US Ambassador Dan Shapiro gave an interview to Army Radio.
Although his American-accented Hebrew is always a crowd pleaser, Shapiro’s statements were simply a more diplomatic restatement of Sherman’s threat.
As he put it, “We are entering a period without negotiations [between Israel and the Palestinians] and this leads us to two important challenges.
“One – how do we make progress toward the two-states for two-peoples solution, and two – negotiations have always been critical to preventing the delegitimization of Israel.”
In other words, Shapiro signaled that the Obama administration expects Israel to make significant concessions to the Palestinians in return of nothing, in the absence of negotiations. And if we fail to make such unreciprocated concessions, we will have no legitimacy and the US will have no choice but to act against Israel at the UN.
That is, by Shapiro’s and Sherman’s telling, Israel’s unwillingness to bow to Palestinian and US demands for concessions to the Palestinians is what has caused and what feeds the international campaign to delegitimize its right to exist.
For anyone who entertains the thought that Shapiro and Sherman are correct to blame Israel for the movement to delegitimize it, this week we received new proof of its falsity.
This week, the leaders of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement condemned Israel not for failing to make concessions to the Palestinians. This week they condemned the Jewish state for helping Nepal earthquake victims.
Ever since the Israeli humanitarian aid mission set off for Nepal earlier this week, leading figures in the BDS movement have been working overtime to attribute ill and even demonic intentions to their mission.
Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, tweeted on his Twitter account, “Easier to address a far-away humanitarian disaster than the nearby one of Israel’s making in Gaza. End the blockade!”
Max Blumenthal, a Jewish anti-Semite who has risen to prominence in the BDS campaign, tweeted, “For a country responsible for so many man-made catastrophes, natural disasters can’t come often enough.”
Ali Abumiah, the editor of Electronic Intifada, intoned that Israel was racist to evacuate newborn infants born to surrogate mothers in Nepal and leave the surrogates behind. He also tweeted, “Propaganda operation goes into high gear to exploit Nepal earthquake to improve Israel’s blood-soaked image.”
These assaults, which attribute malign, exploitative designs to Israel’s humanitarian relief efforts, make clear that there is no connection between Israel’s actions and hostility toward Israel.
The purpose of the BDS movement is not to pressure Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians. Its purpose is to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist and delegitimize support for Israel’s right to exist.
If Israel is evil for sending hundreds of soldiers and relief workers to Nepal to rescue earthquake victims, clearly Israel will be attacked as evil for making concessions to the Palestinians that the Palestinians and the Obama administration will insist are insufficient.
Shapiro’s claim that negotiations between Israel and the PLO, or Israeli unilateral concessions to the Palestinians, protect Israel from its Western detractors is totally unfounded.
There is a thread that runs between Obama’s policy toward Iran and his policy toward Israel.
That common threat is mendacity. Obama’s actual goals in both have little to do with his stated ones.
Obama claims that he wishes to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. But as we see from his willingness to allow Iran to become a nuclear threshold state while running wild in the Straits of Hormuz, committing mass slaughter in Syria, building an empire that includes Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, and threatening its Arab neighbors and Israel, the purpose of the administration’s negotiations with Iran is not to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.
The purpose of the negotiations is to build an American-Iranian alliance on Iran’s terms.
So, too, Obama says his goal is to advance the cause of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
But his pressure and hostility toward Israel does nothing to achieve this goal. The goal of a policy of acting with hostility toward Israel is not to promote peace. It is to distance the US from Israel and align America’s Israel policy with Europe’s preternaturally hostile treatment of the Jewish state.
Three days after a ship sailing under their flag was seized by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, citizens of the Marshall Islands discovered that their decision to place their security in America’s hands is no longer the safe bet they thought it was 29 years ago.
Anyone who entertains the belief that Israel will gain diplomatic acceptance or even a respite from American pressure if it makes concessions to the Palestinians is similarly making a high risk gamble.
Few notes on what we have learned about law, race, order and the media after Baltimore, the largest city in my home state of Maryland, whose gleaming white stoops once stood for a city’s pride in its law and order and self-discipline.
First, Marilyn Mosby should not be allowed to be a law clerk, let alone a state’s attorney/prosecutor. To prosecute police officers EXPLICITLY to please a mob (“I have heard your cries about ‘no justice, no peace’…”) is exactly the opposite of what a prosecutor should do. That is, to prosecute only when the facts and law demand it. To press charges because a gang of thugs loots liquor stores and promises to loot more liquor stores if charges are not pressed is exactly lynch mob justice. It has nothing to do with the sacred rule of “innocent until proven guilty.”
Usually prosecutors will show at least hint of impartiality in an important case. Ms. Mosby went straight for the jugular and basically said, “The thugs are my bosses and I answer to them and not to the Constitution.” This is a dangerous woman. She bears watching.
Next, the death of Mr. Freddie Gray cannot possibly have been solely an act of white racism. Three of the six officers charged in his death were black. One was a black woman. Maybe a case of police brutality. Surely a case of serious misconduct. But racism?
So, why all the hullabaloo about racism in the first place? The officers are black. The police chief is black. The mayor is black. Where is the racism?
Third, the media is endlessly up in arms about the number of black men in confrontations with the police. Maybe this is not racism. Maybe this is because black men, especially young black men, seek out high risk, law-breaking forms of amusement at a rate per thousand many times higher than white men. Maybe the blame for all of the conflicts between young black men and police officers lies at the feet of the young black men. Maybe the blame for crime lies at the feet of the criminals. Is that possible?
Fourth, Mrs. Clinton and the New York Times talk about “one and a half million missing black men.…” They are not missing. We know where they are. They are in jail or prison for committing crimes. They haven’t been taken away by space aliens. They’re here, in prison. When they learn to work and participate in the labor force in an honest way, they won’t be missing anymore.
By the way, I fully agree with the protesters that treatment and recovery are far better for the drug plague than prison. But the law is the law for blacks and for whites until the day we as a nation endorse turning to God as a replacement for iron bars.
Next, I was uplifted by many of the men and women of the poor parts of Baltimore. They were sensible. They were prayerful. They didn’t play games around calling a thug a thug. Impressive. The “leaders” are morally far behind the rank and file.
Next, I turn to the greatest cure all for the problems of Baltimore and Ferguson. WORK. People with honest jobs are not robbing liquor stores. People who work all day long are too tired to loot. The people who get ahead in every society are not the ones who throw Molotov cocktails. They are the ones who actually work, study, add to their human capital and make a life for themselves and their families. Have you ever seen Vietnamese immigrants rioting? Or Chinese immigrants? No, because they are working. There is a lesson here about idle hands and the devil’s playthings. The Asians’ kids will be at Harvard. The rioters’ kids will be “missing.”
Meanwhile, the media should be ashamed for using their power to kowtow to the mob, to tell young thugs that if you throw bricks at cops we will not call you thugs, and we will make you stars on TV. Shame. Turn off the cameras, lock up the vodka, and we will see how many turn out for “political protest.”
Source: American Spectator.org
If a person happens to point out that Baltimore’s criminally inept government has been run exclusively by Democrats since 1967 (with one Republican mayor since 1947) and features not a single city councilor who isn’t a liberal, he may be called a lazy apparatchik. Because not everything, you see, is reducible to mere party politics.
Now, if an economic renaissance sparked by the progressive policies of Stephanie Rawlings-Blake had lifted Baltimore from poverty, I imagine Democrats would be eager to claim credit for the accomplishment. Entire political debates are predicated on the effectiveness of partisan ideas. We blame presidents for recessions they probably have little to do with, yet according to liberal pundits, the party overseeing a city riddled with poverty, failing schools, high crime rates and racial tension bears no responsibility for what’s happening.
The president disagrees. Sort of. After a night of violence and looting in Baltimore, Barack Obama spoke to the press and said that “we, as a country, have to do some soul-searching” — by which he meant “they,” as in conservatives, need to get on board.
Obama said that solutions to mend Baltimore’s suffering are sitting right there in Washington — unpassed because of ideologically inflexible Republicans. “And there’s a bunch of my agenda that would make a difference right now,” Obama claimed before going on: “Now, I’m under no illusion that out of this Congress we’re going to get massive investments in urban communities, and so we’ll try to find areas where we can make a difference, around school reform and around job training and around some investments in infrastructure in these communities and trying to attract new businesses in.”
What piece of legislation have Republicans obstructed that would have helped keep families together in Baltimore — right now? Which proposal would have created jobs to turn the city around? What law has Obama lobbied for that would have made Baltimore’s police department — which has been answering to one party for decades — more compassionate or effective? Is there a criminal-justice reform effort that Obama’s been spearheading all these years that we’ve all forgotten about?
Yes, the war on drugs is a disaster. But Democrats are complicit in that war, too. And Democrats are also in charge of a city school system that has huge failure rates, despite the fact that Baltimore’s school district also has consistently ranked in the top five among the nation’s 100 largest school districts in spending per pupil. Like most big city districts, there is no accountability. It’s Democrats who consistently sink conservative education reform ideas (ones that in many cities are popular among African-American parents) for their union patrons.
For that matter, when did the president ever offer comprehensive legislation that would have brought “massive investments” to inner cities or reformed how government functions in urban communities? Was it when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the White House? Or was it after?
As Obama noted, the citizens of Baltimore (and all of us) have an alternative. They can care more, just as he does. “But that kind of political mobilization, I think, we haven’t seen in quite some time,” he explained. Rather than resort to counterproductive violence — the kind of violence numerous leftist pundits were justifying — Baltimore can vote for candidates who reflect and act on their concerns, candidates who will demand the police be accountable to civilian oversight. There are African-Americans in elected office and power positions throughout the city, so surely, there is no active racist faction undermining the ability of blacks to participate in democracy. Right now, they need better Democrats in Baltimore.
Where does the blame for the civil unrest lie? In plenty of places. Some of those places have absolutely nothing to do with politics and can’t be fixed by any Washington agenda — imagined or otherwise. The tribulations plaguing cities such as Baltimore are complex, having festered for years. But does that excuse the bungling of Democratic Party governance? Does it change the fact that massive amounts of spending have done little in the war on poverty?
And if Democrats claim that they are uniquely sympathetic toward the poor and weak, that welfare programs can never be reformed, only expanded, and that perpetually pumping “investments” into cities is the only way to alleviate the hardship faced by citizens, it’s more than fair to gauge the effectiveness — not to mention the competence — of those allocating and overseeing those policies. Because Republicans may be horrible, but they aren’t running Baltimore.
Source: Patriot Post