Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler
Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Friday, January 26.
1) False friend Cohen
In Israel's True Friends, Roger Cohen wrote argued that Israel's "'true friends' ... are in facts true friends only of the Israeli right:"
... propels Israel into repetitive miniwars of dubious strategic value.
(Apparently he needed some editing as the verb "propels" doesn't seem to match its antecedent.)
According to a recent paper, Operation Pillar of Defense: Objectives and Implications:
From a military standpoint, Operation Pillar of Defense was different
from Operation Cast Lead in several significant ways. Since 2008, Hamas
and other Gaza factions have expanded their rocket arsenals to include
longer-range rockets. In 2008, Israeli intelligence estimated that all
factions in Gaza possessed around five thousand rockets; by the outbreak
of Pillar of Defense they were estimated to have ten to twelve
thousand, including, for the first time, rockets that could reach Tel
Aviv. Indeed, those rockets were used during the recent conflict, albeit
in a symbolic fashion.
Israel, however, did not sit idly by between these two operations, and
the cardinal development of this conflict was the amazingly successful
performance of the Israeli-manufactured Iron Dome rocket-defense system.
The deterrence achieved by Operation Cast Lead afforded Israel some
time, and Israel used this time to develop Iron Dome with its remarkable
85-percent success rate achieved during Operation Pillar of Defense,
providing both security and a sense of security to the Israeli
population. That, moreover, was one of the major reasons Israel did not
ultimately feel it had to launch a ground operation into Gaza. In the
absence of Iron Dome, the pressure in Israel – in response to casualties
and damage – may well have pushed the government into such an
operation, as occurred during Cast Lead.
Cast Lead and Pillar of Defense weren't propelled by an false friends of
Israel. They were in response to growing terrorist threats.
Elder of Ziyon notes:
It has been over two months since the last rocket was launched from Gaza into Israel.
As far as I can tell, there has never been a two-month period without
rockets into Israel since the first Qassam was shot into Israel in
Given the obvious falsity of his claim, Cohen loses any credibility to
designate others to be friends of Israel or claim to be one himself.
2) The Hillary watchdogs
The Washington Post has a bewildering editorial, Hillary Clinton’s clarity on threats in North Africa. Why is it bewildering?
The outgoing secretary’s statements were particularly striking when
compared with President Obama’s inaugural address Monday, which promised
to end “a decade of war” in favor of nation-building at home, and with
the White House’s current approach to Mali. France sent troops there
this month to prevent jihadists linked to al-Qaeda who are entrenched in
Mali’s northern deserts from taking over the rest of the country.
For one thing, while the Post's editors clearly prefer Secretary
Clinton's views to those of the White House, there's nothing more here
than an implicit criticism of the President.
But as the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, Mr. Obama and his
advisers have taken a skeptical view of the need for U.S. involvement.
French requests for air refueling and surveillance help are still on ice
two weeks after being made; the administration grudgingly agreed to
transport some French troops to the country but only after trying to
stick Paris with the bill. The Journal reported that while the Pentagon
has wanted to target the leaders of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb
(AQIM), which was involved in the Benghazi attack as well as last week’s
assault on a gas field in Algeria, White House policymakers argue that
the group doesn’t pose a direct threat to the United States.
But there's a question here. If Secretary Clinton is at such odds with
the President's foreign policy why did she serve the whole first term?
This isn't some minor disagreement, but one about the fundamental
direction of the country's foreign policy. Even if she's a loyal
soldier, how could she have possibly represented the administration if
she holds view so different from President Obama?
The editorial continues:
Ms. Clinton evidently doesn’t agree. “People say to me all the time,
well, AQIM hasn’t attacked the United States,” she said. “Well, before
9/11, 2001, we hadn’t been attacked on our homeland since, I guess, the
War of 1812 and Pearl Harbor. So you can’t say, well, because they
haven’t done something they are not going to do it.”
There's some wisdom in these words, but is this what she truly believes?
Talking tough is not the same thing as acting in accordance with those
This brings us to the other puzzling aspect of the editorial. The
editorial omits any mention of the Secretary's "What difference does it make?" (Not that she took that approach when the subject was Iraq during the Bush administration.)
After explaining what difference the cause of the attack made, Barry Rubin observes:
The outgoing secretary’s point about U.S. leadership — and the results
of its absence — doesn’t apply just to Mali. It is equally true of
Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and other “unstable environments.” If Mr. Obama
continues to eschew an active U.S. role in those places, or to retreat
from one, there will be, as Ms. Clinton said, “consequences.”
The Obama Administration wants to bury this analysis because it calls
attention to the threat of revolutionary Islamism and, in the last
case, to the negative aspects of its own Libya policy. Whether or not
that initiative of overthrowing Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi was a
good idea the fact remains that such a policy has costs. Whether or not
unilateral actions and the use of force is a good idea or not in any
specific case, standing aside and doing nothing while Americans were
killed will also have its costs. Whether or not America has made
mistakes in its past policies, apologies and concessions will only
persuade the Islamists and a large sector of the local population that
the United States is weak, can be defeated, and therefore attacks should
It would appear that Secretary Clinton's tough talking was just words.
Possibly she's trying to maintain her viability as a candidate in 2016.
But the Washington Post took her empty words as promises of action.
(Similarly, I heard Bob Schieffer previewing Face the Nation on the
radio this morning, saying "She acquitted herself well.") Our tough
watchdog media has apparently decided that boosting Hillary Clinton is
its primary duty at this time.
Aside from the irrelevance of motive, the other point Clinton made was
to emphasize that the most important thing was to punish those
responsible. While that sounds impressive, virtually nothing has been
done to achieve that goal. In general, of course, the problem is
identifying and finding the terrorists, especially if they are located
in a country which provides a safe haven to terrorists. The United
States never effectively punished, for example, those who attacked the
Marine barracks in Beirut in the 1980s.
Labels: al-Qaeda, Barack Hussein Obama, Benghazigate, Hillary Clinton, Middle East Media Sampler, Roger Cohen's obsession with Israel, Soccer Dad