Obama’s Sophomoric Foreign Policy

Obama’s Foreign Policy Blunders to Explode

Obama's Foreign Policy
Published Thu, Jan 8, 2015 | Floyd Brown, Chief Political Analyst

When it comes to foreign policy, 2014 might have seemed unstable. But the actual shooting wars were well contained.

As we look forward to 2015, however, the landscape looks more chaotic than ever.
Let’s take a tour through the top five foreign policy blunders that are about to erupt over the coming months…

Blunder #1: Iran. When Obama entered office, the containment of Iran was a primary objective of American policy. Iran was using Russian and North Korean technology to become a nuclear power with a stated objective of ending the “Jewish” occupation of Palestine.

Iran’s nuclear program is an existential threat that Israel cannot (and should not) allow. 2015 is the year Israel moves unilaterally to end this threat.

Obama has been trying to coax Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions through diplomacy. This has been an adventure in naivety. To his surprise, Obama’s coaxing has only given Iran the time and ability it needed to consolidate its technological gains.

Expect Iran to become a flashpoint in 2015.

Blunder #2: Syria. Next up is Syria. (Iran and Russia are involved here, also.) Bashar al-Assad has hung on as Syrian President against all odds. His civil war, which began as a legitimate democracy movement, metastasized into the Islamic State.

If Obama had left well enough alone and not encouraged jihadi warriors with his support of the Arab Spring, then Assad would have likely never seen his country disintegrate. We’re now in Syria fighting – essentially, with Assad – because of Obama’s earlier bloopers.

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Blunder #3: Iraq. The Islamic State also was greatly helped by Obama’s premature withdrawal from Iraq. Iraq has suffered under unbelievable incompetence by both Bush and Obama.

Bush should have never dissolved the Iraqi Army. And just as a new one was finally taking shape, Obama left the field, and they disintegrated (this time on the battlefield).

Blunder #4: Ukraine. Circle around to Ukraine, and you see Obama pushing Russia up against the wall with economic sanctions and military aggressiveness within sight of their border. How would America feel if Russia made a deal with Mexico to station Russian tanks on our southern border?
Ukraine deserves freedom, but real freedom will result not from economic sanctions and blustering talk. The country has suffered horribly in 2014. Its currency has lost half of its value. Food and medicine are scarce, and in parts of the country, a live shooting war is taking place.

Vladimir Putin shouldn’t shoulder all of the blame. Putin has been aggressive and has tried to look strong, but he’s Russian and proud. The way to deal with Russia is how Reagan handled the situation. Be firm, but also extend the hand of friendship. Eternal economic sanctions only hurt the lower classes. The elites never feel the pain.

Blunder #5: Asia. Asia also has some really urgent problems. Rhetoric is heating up between India and Pakistan. These two nuclear powers just can’t keep from fighting. Essentially, it boils down to a religious war between Islamic Pakistan and the Hindu-influenced Indian government.

Obama has ignored Pakistan and encouraged instability there by using a highly destabilizing drone policy in which the United States insists it has the right to kill people inside of other sovereign nations. This is a policy fraught with unintended future consequences (none of them good).

Bottom line: I hope you’re prepared… Any of these Obama failures has the ability to spin out of control and strike U.S. financial markets – creating uncertainty, which limits economic growth and the future of peace.

Your eyes on the Hill,
Floyd Brown

Floyd Brown boasts a lifetime of political involvement, ranging from political appointee in the Reagan campaigns and consultant to the Bush, Dole and Forbes presidential campaigns – to his current role as the President of the Western Center for Journalism, a nonprofit dedicated to informing and equipping Americans who love freedom. Learn More >>

IAEA Is Not Equipped To Police An Iran Deal

The IAEA can’t guarantee any nuclear program is peaceful
IAEA inspectors barred from nuclear site_634655870263373836_main
By Yousaf Butt
January 8, 2015

Having failed to reach an agreement on a comprehensive nuclear accord in November, Tehran and the six world powers set a new deadline — July 1, 2015. The diplomats are to meet again on Jan. 18, though prospects for a rapid breakthrough remain thin. One big roadblock is that the International Atomic Energy Agency has set for itself the impossible goal of verifying the “purely peaceful” nature of Iran’s nuclear program.

The agency, however, cannot do this. Not for Iran — not for any country. By holding Iran to this impossible standard, the agency undercuts the likelihood of a nuclear deal.

No matter how stringent the agency’s oversight, for example, some Iranian scientist or engineer could always idly doodle bomb designs — with or without the knowledge of the government. So no one can prove that all nuclear activities in Iran are purely peaceful.

As long as actual nuclear materials are not involved, such weapons research is not against the letter of the law. Even running computer simulations of nuclear bombs would be consistent with the (rather lax) requirements of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and those of the IAEA nuclear safeguards agreement.

Yet after the previous round of talks ended, the head of the agency, Yukiya Amano, said on CNN that his group “cannot yet give the assurance that all nuclear activities in Iran are for peaceful purposes.” By repeating the phrase four times in the short interview, he suggested this is a key role of his agency. But it is not.

Amano also failed to mention that Iran is not unique in this. The agency cannot vouch for the purely peaceful nature of nuclear activities in Argentina, Brazil and 51 other states as well.

The agency has admitted that its “legal authority to pursue the verification of possible nuclear weapons-related activity is limited” unless nuclear material is involved. The organization can seek the voluntary cooperation of a signatory state to go beyond this standard. But it does not have either the legal basis or the technical capability to verify that “all nuclear activity” is peaceful in any nation.
Former U.N. arms inspector Hans Blix speaks during a lecture in Hamburg
A former agency director, Hans Blix, recently explained this point. “There could always be small things in a big geographical area that can be hidden,” Blix said, “and you can never guarantee completely that there are no undeclared activities.”

The atomic energy agency was designed as an apolitical technical organization. It was set up to take regular accounting of member states’ nuclear materials, ensuring that none is diverted to weapons use. The agency has executed this mission well. Over the decades, for example, it has repeatedly confirmedthat declared nuclear material in Iran has not been diverted to any military program.

Contact with member states is governed by bilateral safeguards agreements, whose sole purpose is to confirm this nuclear material accountancy. But nowhere does it state the agency’s job is to monitor “all nuclear activities,” or that it is responsible for ensuring the purely peaceful nature of any nation’s nuclear program.

The reason is simple: The agency also does not have the manpower, budget and specialized technical skills to carry out nuclear-weapons investigations in signatory states.

By suggesting it can prove all Iran’s nuclear activities are peaceful, the agency is overselling its capabilities. There are actually few nuclear-weapons experts at the agency, and those few are banned by Iran from working on its inspections file.

So the agency’s material-accountancy experts are trying to make technical judgments on weaponization work they are unfamiliar with. And they appear to be getting things wrong.
After the latest round of talks ended in November, for example, Iran provided evidence that supported its claims that the agency’s reports describing the “possible military dimensions” of its nuclear program are “full of errors.” There may be technical merit to Tehran’s assertion.

My assessments of these charges show that either the agency is concerned about hardware that has legitimate civil (or conventional military) uses or else it seems to be doing poor technical analysis. It doesn’t help that a hawkish Washington think-tank is also painting Iran as having violated its interim nuclear agreement.

A major bone of contention between Iran and the atomic agency is about access to the military site at Parchin, where the agency has looked twice and found nothing of concern. But the agency now says an anonymous source has informed it that a conventional explosive-containment chamber — possibly relevant to nuclear weapons research – is on that site. So it wants to revisit Parchin.

Whatever happened in the past, however, U.S. Intelligence Director James Clapper has confirmed he has a “high level of confidence” that Tehran is not now weaponizing.

In addition, a former inspections director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Robert Kelly, who is a 35-year veteran of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, has found weaknesses in the agency’s reasoning. He criticized the organization’s refusal to take up Iran’s offer to inspect another site where the agency alleges Iran also may have conducted nuclear weapons-relevant research.

Blix is also skeptical of the agency’s handling of intelligence. He noted that there is “as much disinformation as information” in the reports on Iran’s alleged weaponization efforts.

The fact is that the agency is skilled at nuclear-materials accountancy, but not properly outfitted for the nuclear-weapons investigations it is being called on to conduct. Meanwhile, its rhetoric has influenced leaders worldwide that Iran deserves to be singled out because it alone has a nuclear program that cannot be proven to be purely peaceful.

Consider, for example, that President Barack Obama in his 2010 address to the United Nations General Assembly said, “Iran is the only party to the NPT that cannot demonstrate the peaceful intentions of its nuclear program.”

If deeper investigations into possible past nuclear weapons research in Iran — or any other country — are desired, the world powers should form an organization that has the technical nuclear weapons knowledge, as well as the legal mandate, to be able to do this.

The IAEA now has neither.

Antichrist’s Men Must Protect The Holy City

Islamic State Launch Pre-Dawn Assault on Iraq’s ‘Sacred City’

Great-Mosque-of-Samarra

January 8, 2015 | 11:01 am

An early-morning assault by the Islamic State on Iraqi security forces has killed three people and injured 41 more in the contested city of Samarra, just some 80 miles from Baghdad, officials said.
Two policemen and a civilian were killed when water trucks carrying explosives were detonated at Iraqi forces roadblocks in a series of five suicide bombs on a motorway to the west of the city. The pre-dawn attacks were followed-up by a barrage of mortar fire and an assault by militant gunmen. After several hours of battle the Islamic State fighters retreated, the BBC reported.

The Islamic State surrounded Samarra in June 2014 but so far Iraqi government forces and allied Shia militias have managed to hold the city. Their grip, however, is tenuous.

In December, Iraq’s powerful Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr told his “Peace Brigade” militia to be on high alert in Samarra as an assault by Islamic State was expected. In statement to the fighters dated December 11, al-Sadr said there was “imminent danger to the sacred city” and ordered his men to be “fully prepared to answer the call of jihad within 48 hours.”

That assault never came, however, and in recent weeks US-led coalition airstrikes in the area to the south of the city have reportedly helped government-backed forces wrest back control of towns and villages to the south of the city.

Samarra, a predominantly Sunni city, is home to al-Askari shrine, a place of worship and pilgrimage for Shia Muslims; making it a historical flashpoint for violence.

In a pre-cursor to the recent fighting, in 2006 and 2007 two bomb attacks at al-Askari — also known as the “Tomb of the Two Imams” — destroyed the shrine’s minarets and golden dome. The destruction of al-Askari is widely considered a pivotal moment in Iraq, tipping the country into years of bloody sectarian violence which has killed tens of thousands of people.

In 2007, UNESCO added Samarra to both the World Heritage List and the List of World Heritage in Danger, and years of reconstruction work to restore al-Askari is now nearly complete. But with mortar shells landing within 50 feet of the shrine the latest assault has ignited speculation that the Islamic State is seeking to destroy it again.

According to the puritanical reading of Sunni Islam adopted by the Islamic State, tombs are sacrilegious and the group has repeatedly targeted Shia places of worship — both in Iraq and neighboring Syria.

Al Nusra Front militants — a group linked to al Qaeda — blew up the 13th century tomb of a revered Islamic scholar in Syria’s Deraa province near the Jordanian border, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Wednesday. Al Nusra, like the Islamic State, also sees tombs as sacrilegious.

In October, UNESCO called the recent destruction of cultural heritage in the region as “intentional” and “systematic.”

Follow Harriet Salem on Twitter: @HarrietSalem

East Coast Still Unprepared For The Sixth Seal in 2015 (Rev 6:12)

Posted: 08/25/2011 8:43 am EDT
monument-crack-1

WASHINGTON — There were cracks in the Washington Monument and broken capstones at the National Cathedral. In the District of Columbia suburbs, some people stayed in shelters because of structural concerns at their apartment buildings.

A day after the East Coast’s strongest earthquake in 67 years, inspectors assessed the damage and found that most problems were minor. But the shaking raised questions about whether this part of the country, with its older architecture and inexperience with seismic activity, is prepared for a truly powerful quake.

The 5.8 magnitude quake felt from Georgia north to Canada prompted swift inspections of many structures Wednesday, including bridges and nuclear plants. An accurate damage estimate could take weeks, if not longer. And many people will not be covered by insurance.

In a small Virginia city near the epicenter, the entire downtown business district was closed. School was canceled for two weeks to give engineers time to check out cracks in several buildings.

At the 555-foot Washington Monument, inspectors found several cracks in the pyramidion – the section at the top of the obelisk where it begins narrowing to a point.

A 4-foot crack was discovered Tuesday during a visual inspection by helicopter. It cannot be seen from the ground. Late Wednesday, the National Park Service announced that structural engineers had found several additional cracks inside the top of the monument.

Carol Johnson, a park service spokeswoman, could not say how many cracks were found but said three or four of them were “significant.” Two structural engineering firms that specialize in assessing earthquake damage were being brought in to conduct a more thorough inspection on Thursday.
The monument, by far the tallest structure in the nation’s capital, was to remain closed indefinitely, and Johnson said the additional cracks mean repairs are likely to take longer. It has never been damaged by a natural disaster, including earthquakes in Virginia in 1897 and New York in 1944.
Tourists arrived at the monument Wednesday morning only to find out they couldn’t get near it. A temporary fence was erected in a wide circle about 120 feet from the flags that surround its base. Walkways were blocked by metal barriers manned by security guards.

“Is it really closed?” a man asked the clerk at the site’s bookstore.

“It’s really closed,” said the clerk, Erin Nolan. Advance tickets were available for purchase, but she cautioned against buying them because it’s not clear when the monument will open.

“This is pretty much all I’m going to be doing today,” Nolan said.

Tuesday’s quake was centered about 40 miles northwest of Richmond, 90 miles south of Washington and 3.7 miles underground. In the nearby town of Mineral, Va., Michael Leman knew his Main Street Plumbing & Electrical Supply business would need – at best – serious and expensive repairs.

At worst, it could be condemned. The facade had become detached from the rest of the building, and daylight was visible through a 4- to 6-inch gap that opened between the front wall and ceiling.

“We’re definitely going to open back up,” Leman said. “I’ve got people’s jobs to look out for.”

Leman said he is insured, but some property owners might not be so lucky.

The Insurance Information Institute said earthquakes are not covered under standard U.S. homeowners or business insurance policies, although supplemental coverage is usually available.

The institute says coverage for other damage that may result from earthquakes, such as fire and water damage from burst gas or water pipes, is provided by standard homeowners and business insurance policies in most states. Cars and other vehicles with comprehensive insurance would also be protected.

The U.S. Geological Survey classified the quake as Alert Level Orange, the second-most serious category on its four-level scale. Earthquakes in that range lead to estimated losses between $100 million and $1 billion.

In Culpeper, Va., about 35 miles from the epicenter, walls had buckled at the old sanctuary at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, which was constructed in 1821 and drew worshippers including Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart. Heavy stone ornaments atop a pillar at the gate were shaken to the ground. A chimney from the old Culpeper Baptist Church built in 1894 also tumbled down.

At the Washington National Cathedral, spokesman Richard Weinberg said the building’s overall structure remains sound and damage was limited to “decorative elements.”

Massive stones atop three of the four spires on the building’s central tower broke off, crashing onto the roof. At least one of the spires is teetering badly, and cracks have appeared in some flying buttresses.

Repairs were expected to cost millions of dollars – an expense not covered by insurance.
“Every single portion of the exterior is carved by hand, so everything broken off is a piece of art,” Weinberg said. “It’s not just the labor, but the artistry of replicating what was once there.”
The building will remain closed as a precaution. Services to dedicate the memorial honoring Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. were moved.

Other major cities along the East Coast that felt the shaking tried to gauge the risk from another quake.
A few hours after briefly evacuating New York City Hall, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city’s newer buildings could withstand a more serious earthquake. But, he added, questions remain about the older buildings that are common in a metropolis founded hundreds of years ago.
“We think that the design standards of today are sufficient against any eventuality,” he said. But “there are questions always about some very old buildings. … Fortunately those tend to be low buildings, so there’s not great danger.”

An earthquake similar to the one in Virginia could do billions of dollars of damage if it were centered in New York, said Barbara Nadel, an architect who specializes in securing buildings against natural disasters and terrorism.

The city’s 49-page seismic code requires builders to prepare for significant shifting of the earth. High-rises must be built with certain kinds of bracing, and they must be able to safely sway at least somewhat to accommodate for wind and even shaking from the ground, Nadel said.
Buildings constructed in Boston in recent decades had to follow stringent codes comparable to anything in California, said Vernon Woodworth, an architect and faculty member at the Boston Architectural College. New construction on older structures also must meet tough standards to withstand severe tremors, he said.
It’s a different story with the city’s older buildings. The 18th- and 19th-century structures in Boston’s Back Bay, for instance, were often built on fill, which can liquefy in a strong quake, Woodworth said. Still, there just aren’t many strong quakes in New England.

The last time the Boston area saw a quake as powerful as the one that hit Virginia on Tuesday was in 1755, off Cape Ann, to the north. A repeat of that quake would likely cause deaths, Woodworth said. Still, the quakes are so infrequent that it’s difficult to weigh the risks versus the costs of enacting tougher building standards regionally, he said.

People in several of the affected states won’t have much time to reflect before confronting another potential emergency. Hurricane Irene is approaching the East Coast and could skirt the Mid-Atlantic region by the weekend and make landfall in New England after that.

In North Carolina, officials were inspecting an aging bridge that is a vital evacuation route for people escaping the coastal barrier islands as the storm approaches.

Speaking at an earthquake briefing Wednesday, Washington Mayor Vincent Gray inadvertently mixed up his disasters.

“Everyone knows, obviously, that we had a hurricane,” he said before realizing his mistake.
“Hurricane,” he repeated sheepishly as reporters and staffers burst into laughter. “I’m getting ahead of myself!”
___

Associated Press writers Sam Hananel in Washington; Alex Dominguez in Baltimore; Bob Lewis in Mineral, Va.; Samantha Gross in New York City; and Jay Lindsay in Boston contributed to this report.