Sunday, September 29, 2013

Prof. Gary Burge wrong on the Palestinian/Israel conflict

Prof. Gary Burge teaches the Bible on Israel incorrectly

Its the Muslims killing the Christians Prof. Gary Burge, not the Jews

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Obama's speech to UN and Israel impact

Posted: 25 Sep 2013 05:08 AM PDT
(Scott Johnson)
The White House has posted the text of President Obama’s speech to the United Nations yesterday here. Paul has ably extracted the highlights, so to speak, and explicated them here.
Obama’s speech should be read in its entirety. The speech represents a comprehensive map of misreading, to borrow Harold Bloom’s phrase. It takes us on a tour of American interests focused on the Middle East and advertises the cluelessness that emanates from the top of the Obama administration. The speech deserves a knowledgeable line by line annotation exposing its errors and fatuities.
I find this to be incredibly offensive: “The ban against the use of chemical weapons, even in war, has been agreed to by 98 percent of humanity. It is strengthened by the searing memories of soldiers suffocating in the trenches; Jews slaughtered in gas chambers; Iranians poisoned in the many tens of thousands.” If this were a multiple choice test, we would ask: which of these doesn’t belong?
Or take this stray thought regarding Syria, for example: “It’s time for Russia and Iran to realize that insisting on Assad’s rule will lead directly to the outcome they fear: an increasingly violent space for extremists to operate.” Don’t you love it when Obama tells the mullahs what they want? It helps them understand the extent of their good fortune to be dealing with such a man.
Or this stray thought regarding Iraq: “Iraq shows us that democracy cannot be imposed by force.” I thought Iraq’s politics were developing in a positive manner. They certainly represent an improvement over Saddam Hussein. Obama presents the lesson of Iraq as a universal rule. What, I wonder, do Germany and Japan show us?
“Meanwhile,” according to Obama, “the Supreme Leader [sic] has issued a fatwa [sic] against the development of nuclear weapons, and President Rouhani has just recently reiterated that the Islamic Republic [sic] will never develop a nuclear weapon.” So what’s all the shouting about? (More on that supposed “fatwa” here.) Fresh from his diplomatic “triumph” in Syria, Obama is directing John Kerry to serve up one more, this time with respect to Iran nuclear program.
And that’s not all! Obama is also “determined to resolve the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.” There is the testy problem of the permanent Palestinian war on Israel, but it doesn’t exist in the world according to Obama. Obama ascribes the wish for “peace” to the Palestinians: “[T]hey recognize that two states is [sic] the only real path to peace…” Although the evidence to the contrary is abundant, Obama finds it in his meeting with young Palestinians in Ramallah. So no problem.
And then there is this: “Friends of Israel, including the United States, must recognize that Israel’s security as a Jewish and democratic state depends upon the realization of a Palestinian state.” I doubt it, but this is a weird formulation in any event. Obama is speaking for the United States and this assertion is one of many errors that he “recognizes” to be true. Doesn’t the United States recognize it? I guess he is directing that statement to the likes of me.
Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Obama sees Israel as the key to the conflicts roiling the Middle East: “All of us must recognize that peace will be a powerful tool to defeat extremists, and embolden those who are prepared to build a better future.” What unadulterated claptrap.
If the White House speechwriters had inserted a thematic cue like “Message: I care” into the speech, it would have been “Message: I am a chicken ripe for the plucking.”

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Obama- Kerry take a week to destroy US Middle East policy

Obama- Kerry take a week to destroy US Middle East policy
World Jewish Digest
The United States spent nearly seven decades building a Mideast foreign policy that attempted to limit Russia's influence in the region. President Obama and John Kerry have destroyed all that in a week.
Writing for the National Interest, academics Tom Nichols and John R. Schindler agree the recent decision to allow Syria to avoid attack by acceding to a plan that will supposedly see them give up their chemical weapons is one of the worst foreign policy decisions of the past few decades.
In less than a week, an unguarded utterance by a U.S. Secretary of State has undone those efforts. Not only is Moscow now Washington’s peer in the Middle East, but the United States has effectively outsourced any further management of security problems in the region to Russian president Vladimir Putin.
It will be nearly impossible to move chemical weapons anywhere in the midst of a pitched civil war; moreover, the idea that the Putin regime cares anything for international norms or global citizenship beyond its own crudely defined interests is laughable on its face. By gaining American certification of the most important role Moscow has ever played in the Middle East, Putin has achieved in a week what no Soviet or Russian leader managed to do in a century. There should be little wonder that Putin pressed his advantage with a shameless lecture to America in the pages of The New York Times in one of the most appalling and hypocritical public relations stunts by a Kremlin boss since the Soviet era.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Israel wants Assad gone

By Dan Williams
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel wants to see Syrian President Bashar al-Assad toppled, its ambassador to the United States said on Tuesday, in a shift from its non-committal public stance on its neighbor's civil war.
Even Assad's defeat by al Qaeda-aligned rebels would be preferable to Damascus's current alliance with Israel's arch-foe Iran, Ambassador Michael Oren said in an interview with the Jerusalem Post.
His comments marked a move in Israel's public position on Syria's two-and-1/2-year-old war.
Though old enemies, a stable stand-off has endured between the two countries during Assad's rule and at times Israel had pursued peace talks with him in hope of divorcing Syria from Tehran and Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah guerrillas in neighboring Lebanon.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had long avoided openly calling for the Syrian president's fall. Some Israeli officials now worry that radical Sunni Islamist insurgents fighting Assad will eventually turn their guns on the Jewish state.
But with Assad under U.S.-led condemnation for his forces' alleged chemical attack on a rebel district of Damascus on August 21, Oren said Israel's message was that he must go.
"We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren't backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran," Oren said in the interview, excerpted on Tuesday before its full publication on Friday.

Obama dithers and hezbollah gets the chemical weapons

Nightmare Scenario?

Arab media reports Assad smuggling his chemical weapons to Hezbollah

8:30 AM on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 - Tishrei 13, 5774
Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is smuggling his chemical weapons stockpile to Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah, Arab media outlets reported on Monday.
According to the Jerusalem Post, an official from the Syrian opposition, Kamal Labwani, has told a Saudi newspaper that large amounts of Assad's stockpile of chemical weapons are being transferred to Lebanon in "trucks carrying vegetables."
They are to be given to Hezbollah, which has long been allied, funded, and armed by Assad, and then "stored in Hezbollah-controlled mountain areas of Lebanon, where it will be difficult to find and monitor them."
Assad's goal, of course, is to preserve his chemical weapons arsenal despite his recent agreement to dismantle it and hand it over to international inspectors.
There is no confirmation of the report from other sources, but if true, the move would represent what Israeli officials have long described as a nightmare scenario.
Hezbollah controls the south of Lebanon and is positioned on Israel's northern border. It controls a large stockpile of long-range missiles and has used them in the past to attack the Galilee region. It is now believed that the terrorist group may have missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Should Hezbollah prove capable of fitting these missiles with chemical warhead, it would represent an intolerable threat to the Israeli population, and would likely precipitate a massive military retaliation.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Dershowitz to Newsmax: Israelis Have Lost Trust in America

Dershowitz to Newsmax: Israelis Have Lost Trust in America

Wednesday, 11 Sep 2013 02:39 AM

By Paul Scicchitano

Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz tells Newsmax .. he believes the Syrian crisis will have a negative effect on U.S. relations with Israel.

“I think the Israelis have basically lost trust in the Americans when it comes to Iran,” the famed attorney said in an exclusive interview following the president’s speech. “I think this increases the likelihood that Israel will have to go to it alone. What it says to the Israelis is that the president can’t declare red lines and can’t respond to the crossing of red lines.”

Dershowitz, a Newsmax contributor, urged Congress to pass its own “red line” — not only in the case of Syria’s use of chemical weapons, but also with respect to the ongoing Iranian nuclear threat.

“If it turns out this is all a fake — and they’re just buying time — the president then gets the authority to strike at any time he and the military feel it’s essential [in Syria],” Dershowitz explained. “And the same must now be true with Iran. Congress must establish a red line — the Iranians getting close to having nuclear weapons —and the president has to be authorized to decide when — and how — to respond to that red line.”

He said Congress rarely authorizes military action on its own “when it doesn’t directly involve the United States” or in the absence of a clear timeframe to act.

“I think a lot of Israelis are today thinking — as many have thought in the past — that they can’t outsource the defense of their own people, that they have to make their own decisions, make their own judgments and take their own actions as they did when they destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981 and various Syrian reactors more recently,” Dershowitz asserted.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Why Israel prefers jihadists to Assad in Syria

Most observers agree that from Israel's perspective, the al-Qaida-affiliated organizations in Syria pose a very real and growing threat, but one which is significantly smaller in scope and more easily contained than the threat posed by a far more powerful axis: Iran, the Assad regime, and Hizballah.
This view is based on the fact that the Syrian regime forms a central component in the Iranian bloc. It is this bloc, on the verge of obtaining nuclear weapons, and with access to unconventional weapons and state-sponsored conventional weaponry, that is the No. 1 threat to Israel's security.
Syria is the bridge connecting Tehran to Hizballah in Lebanon. Bashar Al-Assad has brought Syria closer to Iran and Hizballah, and today relies on them for his survival. Assad is facilitating the transit of advanced Iranian arms to Hizballah, as well as supplying it with Syrian-made weapons.
Syria is viewed by the Iranian regime as its critical forward base and springboard to eventual regional domination.
With Syrian help, Iran has armed Hizballah with 70-80,000 rockets that are pointed at Israeli cities. Hizballah's firepower has the potential to paralyze the Israeli home front in a future war.
The most critical threat is the Iranian nuclear weapons program, which is edging forward all the time.
If Iran isn't stopped, Hizballah, and other terrorist semi-states like Hamas in Gaza, could try to attack Israel while enjoying protection from an Iranian nuclear umbrella.
The same pattern can repeat itself on an even larger scale in the future. Iranian-sponsored terrorist networks might attack Western cities with impunity if they are emboldened by a nuclear-armed Iran.
The collapse of the Assad regime would deal a serious blow to Tehran and Hizballah, while significantly improving Israel's strategic situation.
Furthermore, a Syrian regime that is only weakened by a U.S. strike, yet deterred from deploying a chemical weapon again, could in turn deter the entire Iranian network, and give Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini pause before considering further progress on his nuclear program.
According to former military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin,"Iran has all of the capabilities it needs to decide to create a nuclear weapon. The day of the decision could be tonight, when they might choose to break out of the Non-Proliferation Treaty."
U.S. influence and deterrence has never been more needed in the region, and it has never been more lacking.
If Iran, the world's most radical state – whose leaders have publicly declared their desire to see Israel destroyed – gets hold of humanity's most destructive weapons, the effect on regional security would be devastating.
Sunni Arab countries, made up of Gulf states and secular countries like Jordan and Egypt, are all deeply concerned about the potential of nuclear weapons in the hands of Shi'ite Iran.
It is impossible to divorce Syria's use of chemical weapons from the Iranian nuclear weapons program. The Islamic Republic's Revolutionary Guards Corps is the Syrian army against the rebels, while thousands of Hizballah fighters are in Syria too, fighting alongside Assad's forces.
The Iranian-led axis views Syria as a battleground where it can experiment with unconventional weapons and push the boundaries on international prohibitions against weapons of mass destruction.
An indecisive response to August's chemical massacre in Damascus runs the risk of emboldening Iran and its allies. They in turn will continue in their scheme to emerge as leaders of the Muslim Middle East, acquire nuclear weapons, and confront Israel and the moderate Sunni states.
None of these concerns negate the dangers from a revitalized al-Qaida network in Syria.
Estimates vary about the number of radical Islamists among opposition fighters. The fact remains that jihadi groups are growing quickly there. They make up some of the most effective fighting units, and are thriving in the power vacuum and deadly battlegrounds of Syria.
The jihadi presence in Syria has begun infecting neighboring states too, such as Lebanon and Iraq, and is likely to spread to other territories experiencing power vacuums, like Egypt's troubled Sinai Peninsula, while threatening stable countries such as Jordan. A spillover of terrorists to other lands is inevitable.
While the Sunni radical threat is very real, it is also limited in scope at this time, as far as Israel is concerned.
Small terrorist groups can fire rockets and mortars at Israel, and launch cross-border attacks. But this is a threat the IDF can contain, and for which it has spent many months preparing.
In contrast, a war with the Iranian axis would take on a significantly higher magnitude.
When weighing the extent of the danger presented by pro-al-Qaida groups in Syria, one might also factor in the likelihood that they will be engaged in a power struggle, sectarian warfare, and battles with more moderate elements of the Free Syrian Army for years to come.
This subsequent conflict could hamper their ability to organize serious attacks.
To be sure, the security problem posed by jihadis is no laughing matter. As they continue to raid weapons storehouses once owned by the Syrian army, Israel must think ahead about a scenario involving a raid by al-Qaida on a chemical weapons facility controlled by the Assad regime.
A reality in which al-Qaida is armed with chemical weapons can never be accepted.
But right now, Iran is just a few months away from a working nuclear weapon, should it decide to obtain one. Its ally in Damascus massacred over 1,400 civilians with sarin gas, and its ally in Lebanon stockpiles more rockets and missiles than any arsenal in the hands of most modern militaries.
For all of these reasons, a failure to deter the Iran-Syria-Hizballah axis now could result in a future security deterioration, the outcome of which would be more extensive than any immediate threat posed by jihadis in Syria.
Yaakov Lappin is the Jerusalem Post's military and national security affairs correspondent, and author of The Virtual Caliphate (Potomac Books), which proposes that jihadis on the internet have established a virtual Islamist state.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Oslo at 20 years

Oslo 20 Years Later: Lessons Learned?

In my previous post, I noted the upcoming 20th anniversary of the signing of the Oslo Accords this week. Though the agreement has been a disaster for Israel, I speculated that though these results were eminently predictable—and were by critics of the Labor government that negotiated and signed the accords on the White House Lawn on September 13, 1993—it might have been inevitable that sooner or later Israel would test the intentions of the Palestinians. The question now is whether the Israelis and their American allies are prepared to draw the appropriate conclusions from the experiment.
What happened in the 1990s as the post-Oslo euphoria first receded and was then replaced by the horror of the terror war called the Second Intifada was the gradual realization that Western illusions about Palestinian nationalism were misplaced. Though Arafat signaled at the time that he viewed Oslo as merely a diplomatic ruse intended to help continue the conflict on more advantageous terms rather than a permanent peace, this was something that was largely ignored by those pushing the peace process. Though there is no going back to the pre-Oslo world, as Secretary of State John Kerry’s attempt to revive peace talks continues those who are calling for pressure on Israel to make concessions to Arafat’s successor need to wake up and stop making the same mistakes.

First among them is to stop pretending that the Palestinian leadership has embraced the cause of peace. The fact remains that Palestinian nationalism was born in the 20th century as a reaction to Zionism and the effort to reverse the verdict of history on 1948 remains their focus today. Until that changes, Israeli leaders and their American allies must understand that a conclusion to the conflict is not in the cards.
Throughout the 1990s as Oslo unraveled, American diplomats and even some Israeli politicians persisted in ignoring not only Palestinian violations of the accords but the campaign of incitement and hate against the Jewish state that was orchestrated by the Palestinian Authority in their media and the educational system they were given control of by the treaty signed on the White House Lawn. Turning a blind eye toward Arafat’s support for terrorism did not enhance the chances of peace. Doing so merely convinced the Palestinians they would pay no price for their intransigence and set the stage for the war of terrorist attrition that put an end to the illusion of Oslo. Repeating that error today as the incitement continues will only replicate those bloody results.
They must also stop buying into the myth that Israeli settlements remain the obstacle to peace. Both Oslo and the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza (not to mention the peace treaty with Egypt) have proved that Israeli governments are prepared to give up territory including the uprooting of longstanding Jewish communities. But doing so merely encouraged the Palestinians to believe that they could oust every settlement, if not the Jewish state itself, if they only hung tough. Rather than negotiate a compromise solution in good faith, they remain trapped in the idea that the Jewish presence on the land is the problem rather than face up to the need to abandon the century-old war on Zionism.
Prior to Oslo, both Americans and some Israeli leaders fundamentally misread Palestinian political culture. The late Yitzhak Rabin thought Arafat would be so eager for a state that he would fight Hamas without the hindrances of concern for human rights and legal niceties that hampered Israeli counter-terrorist strategies. That was a mistake since it not only wrongly attributed a desire for peace to Arafat but also underestimated the hold that a desire for Israel’s destruction had on both the people of the territories and the descendants of the 1948 refugees. Secretary Kerry seems locked in the same misapprehensions about Mahmoud Abbas and the current PA, fueled in no small measures by the same tactic of Palestinians saying one thing about peace to Western diplomats and media and something different to their own people.
So long as American diplomats remain focused on talks with Palestinian leaders who lack the will or the ability to negotiate a permanent end to the conflict rather than on the culture that makes such intransigence inevitable, we are doomed to both a cycle of Palestinian-initiated violence and diplomatic frustration.
If there is a disconnect between the myths about Palestinian intentions on the part of Americans (including many Jews) and the cynicism about the subject on the part of the overwhelming majority of Israelis it is because the latter have been paying attention to events in the last 20 years while the former have clung to their ill-informed illusions. That realistic attitude is a sign of sanity in an Israeli political system that often seems lacking in rationality. But Israelis need to understand something else that has happened since Oslo.
Israel has spent most of the last 20 years continually making concessions to the Palestinians starting with the Oslo empowerment of Arafat and climaxing in the Gaza withdrawal. But it has received scant credit from a world. The irony is that rather than these retreats (as well as a variety of other measures including the release of terrorist murderers such as the one that was extracted from the Netanyahu government in order to give Kerry the negotiations he craved) being rightly interpreted as a sign that Israel wanted peace and was willing to offer generous terms, they were viewed by most of the world as a sign of a guilty conscience. While many Israeli diplomats have believed that arguing for Jewish rights to the West Bank and even Jerusalem was counterproductive, a dispute between a party that only talked of its security rather than its rights is one that is bound to be lost.
This has fed a trend in which Israel’s delegitimization has increased since Oslo rather than diminishing. After Arafat turned down an independent state in almost all of the West Bank, Gaza, and part of Jerusalem, some Israelis thought their negative image would change. They were wrong. Palestinian intransigence, repeated twice more as they rejected even more generous offers in the years that followed, has not harmed their image or strengthened sympathy for Israel.
If that tide is to be stemmed, let alone reversed, it will require Israelis and their friends to stop playing defense about territorial disputes. They must cease merely discussing their desire for peace (genuine though it is) and begin again asserting the justice of their cause.
Should a sea change in Palestinian culture ever occur allowing a new generation of pragmatic leaders to make peace, they will find Israelis willing to deal. But until that happens, both Americans and Israelis would do well to lower their expectations. That is especially true for leaders like Kerry who seemed to have learned nothing from recent history. The euphoria about peace that followed the signing of the Oslo Accords was a trap that led to years of unnecessary bloodshed. In the years that follow this anniversary the test of statecraft in the Middle East will be in avoiding the pattern of self-deception that not only led to Oslo but also worsened its consequences

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Bibi's greetings

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ushered in the Jewish new year on Wednesday with a message of strength and unity.

In a video issued by the Prime Minister's Office, Netanyahu said that the Jews "defied the laws of history" and "Jewish unity is a major part of our collective strength."

He expressed confidence "that Jewish communities will continue to stand by Israel" and Israel would do the same for them.

He also touched on some of the hot button issues of the moment, saying that Iran's nuclear program must be stopped, and any peace with the Palestinians must be "real and enduring." In the face of regional upheaval, he said, "we remain an oasis of democracy, stability, tolerance, and liberty."

More than anything, Netanyahu's message was one of faith in Israel and the Jewish people's capacity to survive and prosper. "Together," he said, "we can continue to achieve great things for Jewish people and the world.... Shana tova umetuka. It means a good year and a sweet new year. I hope you have both." 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Israel dismayed by Obama, his gross incompetence

Israel dismayed by Obama, his gross incompetence

Israeli leaders largely held their tongues after President Obama announced Saturday that he would seek congressional approval before striking Syria.
But privately, as David Horovitz reports at Times of Israel, Israeli leaders are stunned and deeply worried that Obama's decision to put off action in Syria means no future attack in Iran.
the president has set a precedent, in seeking an authorization from Congress that he had no legal requirement to seek — and that Congress was not loudly demanding — that may complicate, delay or even rule out credible action to thwart a challenge that dwarfs Assad’s chemical weapons capability: Iran’s drive to nuclear weapons.
At the very least, Obama has given Assad more time to ensure that any eventual strike causes a minimum of damage, and to claim initial victory in facing down the United States. At the very least, too, Obama has led the Iranians to believe that presidential promises to prevent them attaining nuclear weapons need not necessarily be taken at face value.
Horovitz concludes that Israeli leaders hope that Barack Obama wakes up and remembers that America is the most powerful military force in the world and has acted out of moral duty to prevent carnage in the world before.
But that maybe asking too much of a president who looks to Europe, and not America's great traditions, for his guidance.

Obama's staggering incompetence
Thinking Through Our Syrian Options
Peter Wehner | @Peter_Wehner 09.01.2013 - 12:15 PM

On the lead-up to a likely strike against Syria by the United States, there are some things most of us can agree on.

One is that Bashar al-Assad is a malevolent figure. Two, a de minimis strike–one that is mostly symbolic and does nothing to alter the course of the war–is worse ...than doing nothing. And three, President Obama has handled the Syrian situation with staggering incompetence.

The list of mistakes by Mr. Obama includes, but is by no means limited to, declaring two years ago that Assad must go (and doing nothing to achieve that end); declaring one year ago that if Syria used chemical weapons it would be crossing a “red line” that would constitute a “game changer” (Assad crossed the “red line,” for months nothing happened, and whatever Obama does, he’s made it clear it will not constitute a “game changer”); signaling to our enemies, in advance, the details of our expected operation–thereby making a strike, if it occurs, the most telegraphed and reluctant military action in American history; doing a miserable job building a coalition to support a military strike (Obama’s “coalition of the willing” might include all of two nations); doing a miserable job building support among the American people (they are decidedly unenthusiastic about a military intervention in Syria); and signaling he was going to bypass congressional authorization for military use of force before reversing course and declaring on Saturday that he would seek authorization–but only after Congress returns from its summer recess (thereby sending the message to Congress, the American public, and the world that there’s no real urgency to a strike, despite the secretary of state saying that what Syria has done is “morally obscene”). This is Keystone Cops material.

That said, where there is a real difference of opinion, including among conservatives, is whether an effective show of force that would alter the balance of power in Syria would be worthwhile.

Some military analysts, like (retired) General Jack Keane, believe the more moderate and secular rebel forces (like the Free Syrian Army) are in fairly strong shape and, if given the training and arms they need, could emerge as a powerful force in a post-Assad Syria. Others, like Colonel Ralph Peters, believe the rebel forces that are strongest in Syria right now and most likely to emerge as dominant in a post-Assad Syria are al-Qaeda affiliates like Jabhat al-Nusra. I will admit it’s unclear to me–and I suspect fairly unclear to almost everyone else–what would happen if Assad left the scene. Which makes knowing what to do, and what to counsel, difficult.

So what is the best outcome we can reasonable hope for? What is the worst outcome we should be most prepared for? What are the odds of each one happening? How likely, and in what ways, will Syria retaliate? How reliable is the FSA? Is Jabhat al-Nusra (an al-Qaeda affiliate) “generally acknowledged to be the most effective force fighting al-Assad,” in the words of CNN’s Peter Bergen? If the (relatively) moderate rebels did receive the aid they need, what are their chances of success? And what would success look like? Taking control of Syria (which is hardly likely)? Taking control of parts of Syria? Participating in a coalition government? Comprised of whom?

These are just some of the difficult, and largely unknowable, questions one has to ask prior to endorsing a military strike.

There would be a significant cost to doing nothing in Syria. There could be significant benefits if we act militarily (including delivering a damaging blow to Syria’s sponsor states, Iran and Russia, as well as to Hezbollah). And it’s also possible that things could be worse–from the standpoint of America, Israel and the region–if Assad is attacked and/or overthrown and jihadists emerge in a dominant position. “The hard truth is that the fires in Syria will blaze for some time to come,” according to Ambassador Ryan Crocker. “Like a major forest fire, the most we can do is hope to contain it.”

In all of this I’m reminded of what Henry Kissinger wrote in his memoir White House Years:

Statesmanship requires above all a sense of nuance and proportion, the ability to perceive the essential among a mass of apparent facts, and an intuition as to which of many equally plausible hypotheses about the future is likely to prove true.

Barack Obama has no such perception and intuition; he has proved to be singularly inept at such presidential decision-making. But we cannot unwind what has happened. We are where we are. Syria is a nation that has been ripped apart. The window for a useful American intervention may have closed. And even if it hasn’t, it would require a strategic thinker and statesman of remarkable skill to deal with a dozen moving parts, all which need to be carefully calibrated, in order to help Syria heal; in order for a stable, non-sectarian and non-virulent regime to emerge.

It’s much clearer to me what we shouldn’t do than what we now should do. I suppose that’s sometimes where we find ourselves living in this most untidy world. And when it comes to predicting the course of events and anticipating various contingencies, especially in the Middle East, modesty is probably more appropriate than certitude