Saturday, June 15, 2013

SMART DIPLOMACY: Even leftist Joschka Fischer, of all people, grieves about “the loss” of America’s role as the world’s “indispensable nation”

These days, he grieves about what he sees as “the loss” of America’s role as the world’s “indispensable nation” — the only country able to say to outrage and oppression enough is enough — as demonstrated by “its absence” as the decisive element in the fight against Bashar al-Assad in Syria. 
Thus writes John Vinocur, the most conservative commentator working for the New York Times, in the International Herald Tribune, quoting Joschka Fischer: “even inveterate anti-Americans will be crying out in the future for the old global order-maker.”
The situation is not just an historical footnote-to-be. Last week, Fischer wrote in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, “What we’re watching is a post-American world take shape, not involving some new order, but replaced by ambivalent power-politics, instability and, yes, chaos.”

Syria, in relation to America’s response, has been the scene of several events that point to Fischer’s concerns. 

In contrast to Russia’s function as arms supplier and chief diplomat for Syria, and Iran’s and Hezbollah’s battlefield presence, the Obama administration is stuck in facing more than 80,000 dead with a two-year record of indecision. 

Ambivalence? America’s projected nonlethal assistance to Assad’s opponents includes, according to The Associated Press, military vehicles — but not night vision goggles or body armor. 

 … In conversations in London and Paris with high British and French officials, there were expressions of concern about how the Obama administration aims to prevail in the Syria crisis, showing a kind of determination in the process meant to cow Iran from its rush to nukes. 

No one advocates American or allied boots on the ground in Syria. But when it comes to other serious military assistance for the rebels, the French and British experience is not positive

The allies, who favor supplying arms, were told by the White House last October that such U.S. lethal assistance was in preparation. It was urged by Hillary Clinton, Leon Panetta, and Gen. Martin Dempsey. But the allies were left hanging when the White House withdrew the plan following Barack Obama’s re-election

For one French official, American indecision has left the Russians in a position of strength in relation to Syria.

 … The French also puzzle about a possible deal on Syria. In opposing an Iranian presence at Geneva, advocated by Russia, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has warned of a Tehran-engineered bargain in which Iran would “keep the atomic bomb while making concessions on Syria.” If the “international community” can’t stop Assad, he asked, “where’s the credibility of our assurances Iran will not get nuclear arms?” 

In this situation, what is clear is that Russia has bet the farm on Syria, aiming to thwart the United States there, while profiting from American unwillingness to link Russia’s on-going provocation to any countermeasure

America, in contrast, is standing at the $2 bettors’ window. It has no real horse in the race, not supporting moderate fighters with weapons while having insisted Assad was sure to fall in the coming weeks. 

The substance of the Geneva meeting hardly looks favorable. Assured of Russia’s wherewithal, why would Assad come to it to acknowledge, as proposed, that he will give way to a transitional government? 

It is here that a real measure of British and French concern enters about Barack Obama’s seeming movement away from his announced red lines on the use of chemical weapons. In April, when Britain tested samples from victims of a Syrian chemical attack, a statement from Prime Minister David Cameron asserted that the results indicated “a war crime.” 

France’s announcement last Tuesday that it is now “certain” Syria used the nerve agent sarin was meant, I was told, to stir U.S. engagement at a juncture when the rebels’ overall defeat was becoming a possibility.

Of course, Iran could make a gesture of enormously misplaced overconfidence and meet with a U.S. military response, the French official said. Otherwise, the Middle East faced on-going disruptions without the assured support of an American rampart

While the notion of America’s global indispensability goes back to World War II, an assertion of it came in 1996 with President Bill Clinton’s explanation, after years of dawdling, about why the United States was getting involved in Bosnia. He spoke then of America as “the indispensable nation” and said, “There are times when America, and only America can make a difference between war and peace.” 

For Joschka Fischer, a man of the left, the perspective of the Obama administration having turned away from a U.S. role as stability’s ultimate recourse was so dangerous, that “even inveterate anti-Americans will be crying out in the future for the old global order-maker.”
Related: Europeans Hardly Impressed by Obama's Position (or Lack Thereof) on Syria and Its WMD

Friday, June 14, 2013

Europeans Hardly Impressed by Obama's Position (or Lack Thereof) on Syria and Its WMD

Neither Le Monde's Plantu nor Le Monde's Serguei seem very impressed with Barack Obama's stance (or lack of stance) on Syria's chemical weapons…

(In defense of Obama, it's true that the Apologizer-in-Chief is far more occupied with "nation-building at home " and having to deal — thanks, IRS and FBI — with that true enemy of mankind, those despicable American conservatives!)

• Le Monde:
Chemical Warfare in Syria
• BHO: Somebody hold me back
or I swear I will do nothing!


The West's Limits, by Serguei
• The Europeans:
The red line has been crossed, Obama
• BHO:
I can't manage to cross my own!

Update: SMART DIPLOMACY — Even leftist Joschka Fischer, of all people, grieves about “the loss” of America’s role as the world’s “indispensable nation”: “even inveterate anti-Americans will be crying out in the future for the old global order-maker.”
Related: With all those articles on Syria's WMD, meanwhile, Le Monde is being accused of working in tandem with France's secret services, leading Le Monde ombudsman Pascal Galinier to devote an entire column to the subject. All we can say is that's what happens when you can't stop repeating that believing in Saddam's possession of WMD can only be ridiculous and that George W Bush can be described as nothing less than an outright liar. (Needless to say, our old friend Rémy Ourdan has to step in and repeat the mantra that Saddam's WMD were a lie of Dubya's, while Assad's WMD are plainly and mainfestly nothing of the sort…)
Le Monde appartient-il aux services secrets français ?" En voilà une question ! Cela n'est pas un courrier de lecteur. Pas tout à fait. Cette interrogation en forme d'accusation est le titre d'un courriel en bonne et due forme, envoyé au médiateur le 28 mai, au lendemain des révélations de notre journal sur l'usage de gaz toxiques par le régime syrien. Le dénommé "Do" y cache son identité mais pas ses idées. …

"Do" ne pose de questions que pour mieux asséner ses réponses. Un grand classique du conspirationnisme, phénomène déjà évoqué dans ces colonnes, notamment lors de l'affaire Merah ou des printemps arabes. Une chronique du médiateur fut même titrée "Conspirationnite" (Le Monde daté 16-17 septembre 2012).

Deux autres lecteurs, dans leurs courriels, relaient sans ambages les soupçons véhiculés par un site qui a fait du Monde une de ses cibles favorites, Investig'Action. "De plus en plus de lecteurs, en France comme en Belgique, se demandent à la solde de qui vous travaillez ou par qui vous êtes muselés", affirme le premier, Bernard Van Muy, de Bruxelles. "Le quotidien de référence est devenu le quotidien des mensonges éhontés et de la manipulation otano-qatariote", assène le second, un certain Bruno Drweski...

N'en jetez plus !

Inutile de dire que la confirmation par Laurent Fabius, mardi 4 juin, de l'utilisation de gaz sarin en Syrie, après analyse des échantillons rapportés par nos journalistes, relance la machine à soupçons à notre égard...

Votre médiateur a d'abord hésité entre ironie et cynisme : si même nos contempteurs nous aident à refaire du Monde le bon vieux "journal de référence"... Un peu facile. Et pas si simple. D'autres lecteurs s'interrogent. Dont plusieurs habitués de cette page Dialogues. Ils posent des questions qui méritent des réponses. Que nos amis complotistes ne trouveront évidemment ni sincères, ni convaincantes, ni honnêtes, ni pertinentes - rayer la mention inutile...

"Le travail de journaliste est-il fiable dans la recherche de la preuve militaire ?, se demande le fidèle Igor Deperraz (Bully, Seine-Maritime). Demain, deux journalistes russes pourraient échantillonner sur des populations civiles des pseudo-neurotoxiques de l'autre côté de la barricade..." "Dans un vieux pays démocratique comme le nôtre, l'empathie n'est-elle pas le plus grand danger pour un journaliste professionnel ?", observe Bernard Lart (Nages, Gard). "Le journal Le Monde vient de préparer le terrain pour une initiative française en Syrie, s'inquiète Heinz Mundschau, d'Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen, Allemagne). Vraie ou pas, l'histoire de ces armes chimiques nous rappelle les fameuses armes de destruction massive de M. Bush junior en Irak..."

"C'est tout le contraire, répond au médiateur Rémy Ourdan, le directeur adjoint des rédactions, qui a supervisé l'opération Syrie. En 2002 et 2003, l'administration Bush ment, invente de fausses "preuves" sur la présence d'armes de destruction massive, et intoxique des médias à New York et Washington, loin du terrain. Là, on est dans le cas inverse : les journalistes vont sur place, rapportent des échantillons qui permettent d'établir la preuve, et les Etats se prononcent ensuite..."

Certes, admet M. Deperraz, mais "si l'on exclut la possible appartenance aux services de renseignements français de ces professionnels de l'info, on ne peut exclure une manipulation politique d'une des parties au conflit. Le journaliste peut témoigner de ce qu'il perçoit, il ne peut se substituer aux organismes de contrôle internationaux pour "échantillonner" un théâtre de guerre. Il y a donc dans cette volonté de porter la preuve au niveau de la responsabilité d'un Etat comme un soupçon de confusion des genres."

Le Monde a précisément pris toutes les précautions pour éviter ce soupçon, rappelait Natalie Nougayrède dans son deuxième éditorial sur le sujet (Le Monde du 6 juin) : "C'est en constatant sur place l'ampleur de l'utilisation de gaz toxiques que nos journalistes ont décidé qu'ils devaient tenter de sortir du pays des échantillons, destinés à être expertisés." Si lesdits échantillons ont été confiés aux autorités françaises, c'est "pour une raison simple : le seul laboratoire en France habilité à établir de manière incontestable la nature des substances transportées dépend de la Délégation générale de l'armement".

"Il y a eu un échange de lettres recommandées avec les autorités françaises, qui se sont engagées à nous remettre les résultats des analyses de nos échantillons, indique Rémy Ourdan. C'est une situation très inhabituelle, mais c'était le seul moyen dont on disposait pour compléter notre travail d'information. Le gouvernement nous a aussi remis les résultats des analyses des autres éléments de preuve qu'il possède, qui confirment l'usage de gaz sarin par les troupes d'Assad."

Pour autant, ajoute-t-il, "le journal ne défend pas un camp, il fait du journalisme. Si nos reporters avaient eu des éléments montrant que des rebelles avaient utilisé des gaz toxiques, ils l'auraient évidemment dit !".

Et maintenant ? "Nous sommes quelques-uns à attendre un reportage symétrique, tout aussi spectaculaire et susceptible de médiatisation : celui qui nous ferait vivre, avec la même empathie, le quotidien des populations restées sous la tutelle des autorités gouvernementales, prévient Alain Coulon (Paris), membre de la Société des lecteurs du Monde. Nous pourrions apprécier leur appétence à vivre dans une Syrie gérée par les différentes factions de l'ASL, l'Armée syrienne libre, sous l'égide des Saoudiens et des Qataris, avec la bénédiction des Occidentaux..."

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

How About the Computer Nerds Who Helped Obama Win in 2012? Did Also They Get Help From the IRS and the FBI, as Well as Their Computers?

 Obama was elected, twice, by the American people.
writes Ann Althouse (thanks to Instapundit).
We studied him. We listened to him. He is surrounded by advisers and checked by Congress and the press.
Remember election night, when conservatives the country over — not least Mitt Romney himself — became increasingly flabbergasted about how badly the Republican candidate was faring?

It turns out that Obama was elected with the help of a double-standard-wielding mainstream media, along with, it is becoming increasingly clear, help from places such as the FBI and the IRS.
We studied him. We listened to him.
Did we study Obama and listen to Obama? Or did we study and listen to the MSM's take on Obama (along with their takes on Romney, Bush, Cheney, etc etc etc), to the MSM's narrative?

And how about those computer nerds who somehow devised algorithms to help Obama win? Any chance that they had help in developing those programs from, say, IRS honchos (sorry, IRS low-level employees, I meant to say) and their government computers?
that's the kind of thought pattern I suspect is developing out there in the minds of these computer technicians. Look at the contempt, the grandiosity, and the recklessness.
I am 100% — one hundred percent — against Snowden; at the same time, do not confuse him with those who support him: there are times when contempt is the natural response — the natural thought pattern — to those in power and when, indeed, it is outright called for…

To conclude: Yes, Ann, it's good to give those who govern us respect; it's also good for those who govern us to respect us, the citizenry, in return, and for us to make a note of it when they — consistently — fail to do so.

Update: From the comments — Radegunda adds:
Did Ann Althouse really not notice that anyone who made a serious effort to "study" Obama or "check" his record was loudly and insistently branded a racist?
Update: Glenn Reynolds adds:
WHEN WOMEN COMPLAIN ABOUT THE DISAPPEARANCE OF CHIVALRY, I’m prone to point out that chivalry was a system, one that imposed obligations of behavior on women and girls as well as on men. Likewise, when David Brooks complains that Edward Snowden is an unmediated man, I must note that in the civil society Brooks invokes, Presidents and other leaders were also mediated; they were not merely checked by Congress, courts, etc., but they were also checked by themselves, and a sense of what was proper that went beyond “how much can I get away with now?” Obama, too, is unmediated in that sense. That Brooks couldn’t see beyond his sharply-creased pants to notice that when it was apparent to keen observers even before the 2008 election is not to his credit. If the system of civil society has failed, it is in no small part because its guardians — notably including Brooks — have also failed.

In France, Second Thoughts About Obama (Albeit Slowly, Slowly)

Suddenly, Barack Obama ain't that hot any more in France, as testified by a Plantu cartoon on Private Life in the USA, an Jean-Pierre Stroobants and Frédéric Lemaître article on how Washington spies electronically on Europeans, and a Le Monde editorial entitled The Old Continent Face to Face with Big Brother

And yet: not once does the Le Monde editorial mention Obama's name; how much are the odds that that would have occurred had the scandal erupted under a Bush administration?

Meanwhile, in an article entitled Syria — Putin 1, Obama 0, Alain Frachon writes that Washington gives iutself neither the means to pressure Moscow nor that to intimidate Damascus:
La Russie défend un allié, le régime de Bachar Al-Assad, avec détermination ; les Etats-Unis défendent quelques principes, pas toujours avec conviction. Jeu inégal. Au milieu, les Syriens sont entrés dans la troisième année d'une guerre intérieure qui, chaque jour, déborde un peu plus à l'extérieur.

Les Russes savent ce qu'ils veulent. Ils ont une stratégie. Dans la guerre de Syrie, ils appartiennent à un camp. Le régime de Damas est leur allié au Proche-Orient, héritage d'une alliance passée du temps de la guerre froide. La Russie de Vladimir Poutine se retrouve dans la forme de dictature affairiste, aux services de sécurité omniprésents, que représente le régime Al-Assad.

Elle protège des intérêts commerciaux et militaires en Syrie. Elle y dispose de son unique base navale en Méditerranée, à Tartous. Elle équipe l'armée syrienne – du fusil d'assaut aux missiles balistiques en passant par les Migs.

 … L'ensemble dessine une politique claire, poursuivie avec constance et détermination. Le Kremlin n'a jamais cru que les rebelles étaient en passe de renverser le régime syrien. Et a tout fait pour que ceux-ci n'y arrivent pas. Non seulement la Russie n'a cessé de livrer des armes à Damas, mais elle envisage de fournir au régime des Migs dernier cri et des missiles de plus en plus sophistiqués.

Soutien politique, diplomatique et militaire : en Syrie, Moscou a une ligne. Et pas de "ligne rouge". La Russie ne trouve rien à redire à l'emploi de Migs, de Scuds et de munitions chimiques à l'encontre de la population syrienne. Vladimir Poutine, l'ancien du KGB, ne pèche pas par sensiblerie, il croit dans les rapports de force.

Les Etats-Unis aussi ont choisi leur camp. Depuis le début, Barack Obama a accordé son appui politique à la rébellion syrienne. Les alliés arabes de Washington dans la région, l'Arabie saoudite et le Qatar, dispensent aide financière et militaire aux principaux groupes rebelles. La Maison Blanche exige que Bachar Al-Assad quitte le pouvoir – un jour.
Tragique incompréhension

 …M. Obama agit comme s'il jugeait que la crédibilité des Etats-Unis se jouait ailleurs qu'au Proche-Orient. Il a dit, redit et écrit que la capacité des Etats-Unis à conserver leur learship mondial se décidait à l'intérieur. Etre capable de projeter sa puissance suppose d'abord de la reconstruire : assainissement des finances et redressement de l'économie du pays. L'un des grands sachems de la diplomatie américaine, Richard Haass, président de l'éminent Council on Foreign relations, publie ces jours-ci un livre au titre révélateur : Foreign Policy Begins at Home ("La politique étrangère commence à la maison", non traduit). On ne peut pas faire moins interventionniste.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Holder has decided that Eric Holder did nothing wrong; Eric Holder is free to go now

Eric Holder is routinely tasked with investigating his own shenanigans and routinely determines that everything is on the level 
writes Benjamin Duffy in a post entitled Eric Holder Invokes the Doofus Defense.
People accused of malfeasance aren’t usually tasked with investigating themselves for obvious reasons. The guy caught with his hand in the cookie jar has a tendency to conclude that the cookies are all present and accounted for.

Attorney General Eric Holder, on the other hand, is routinely tasked with investigating his own shenanigans and routinely determines that everything is on the level. Amidst the furor concerning the DOJ’s spying on Associated Press and FOX News journalists, President Obama ordered the formation of a panel to “review existing Department of Justice guidelines governing investigations that involve reporters.” Heading up the panel will be AG Holder, hardly a disinterested party.

Apparently the DOJ investigates reporters for violations of the Espionage Act whom it never intends to prosecute. Either prosecuting Rosen was on the table or the investigation was a time-consuming fishing expedition pursued at great cost to the taxpayer. I suspect the former.

This is not the first time that America’s top law enforcement official has been caught telling fibs under oath and for the same purpose—so that he can feign ignorance about what happens in his own DOJ. His defense seems to be that he isn’t responsible for the department’s transgressions because he’s irresponsible and unaccountable. We’ll call this “the doofus defense.”

On May 3, 2011, he testified before Congress that he had only learned of Operation Fast and Furious, the ill-fated gunwalking scandal that placed American guns into the hands of Mexican mobsters, “for the first time in the past few weeks.” His testimony was contradicted by a July 2010 internal DOJ memo directed to Holder that outlined the program by name. Holder invoked the doofus defense, claiming that he doesn’t read many of his briefing memos.

But the memos kept coming.

 … Eric Holder has thus perjured himself on multiple occasions and never faced legal consequences. Obama’s AG is entirely above the law.

Not only is he entitled to lie but also to blow off congressional subpoenas. During the aforementioned Fast and Furious investigation, Holder was ordered to turn over documents relevant to the case. He initially refused, then backtracked. In hopes of staving off a contempt resolution, the AG promised to deliver them personally to Congressman Darrell Issa at a private meeting. When the day arrived, Holder delivered a briefing on the contents of the documents rather than the documents themselves. Congress then voted to find Holder in contempt, which he undoubtedly was.
   … Eric Holder has decided that Eric Holder did nothing wrong. Eric Holder is free to go now.

The man appointed to enforce the nation’s laws can’t be bothered to follow them himself. He spies on reporters and furnishes underworld figures with boatloads of guns, then lies under oath and stonewalls congressional investigators to cover his tracks. America’s top cop is a law unto himself, both untouchable and unashamed