Quote of the Day

An anonymous U. S. senior official, speaking about Israeli P. M. Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu and Iran’s nuclear program,  quoted by Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic:

“It’s too late for him to do anything. Two, three years ago, this was a possibility. But ultimately he couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it’s too late.”

Not to be confused with another senior U. S. official who called Bibi “a chickenshit.”

I would say it wasn’t just our pressure on Bibi, but also our assurances, which today look pretty hollow.

To me, the scariest thing right now is not Ebola or ISIS, but that we seem to be on the verge of doing a disastrous deal with Iran.

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The Cornhusker Wears Prada

Those who oppose former GOP Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel’s appointment as Secretary of Defense and want to avoid the whole anti-Semitism thing have come up with a whole new line of attack — he was mean to his staff when he was a senator.  He couldn’t possibly have had more turnover than Michele Bachmann does, and yet I don’t recall these conservatives saying that was an impediment to her running for president.

Anyway, this is what those on the right who feel Hagel isn’t hawkish enough in terms of supporting Israel, going to war with Iran, and not cutting the defense budget are saying.  From “Rejecting Chuck Hagel,” Adam Kredo, The Washington Free Beacon:

“‘But above all, he’s not a nice person and he’s bad to his staff,’ said a senior Republican Senate aid who has close ties to former Hagel staffers.

“‘Hagel was known for turning over staff every few weeks — within a year’s time he could have an entirely new office because nobody wanted to work for him,’ said the source.  ‘You have to wonder how a man who couldn’t run a Senate office is going to be able to run an entire bureaucracy.’

“Others familiar with Hagel’s 12 year tenure in the Senate said he routinely intimidated staff and experienced frequent turnover.

“‘[H]e was the Cornhusker wears Prada to his staff, some of whom describe their former boss as perhaps the most paranoid and abusive in the Senate, one who would rifle through staffers’ desks and berate them for imagined disloyalty,’ said Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser on Iran and Iraq.

“Multiple sources corroborated this view of Hagel.

“‘As a manager, he was angry, accusatory, petulant,’ said one source familiar with his work on Capitol Hill.  ‘He couldn’t keep his staff.’

“‘I remember him accusing one of his staffers of being ‘f___ing stupid’ to his face,’ recalled the source who added that Hagel typically surrounded himself with those ‘who basically hate Republicans.'”

Come on, when has the choice of a Secretary of Defense ever turned on whether he was “nice”?  All these folks in Congress have huge egos and tend to be screamers who are extremely hard on staff.  The soft-spoken, considerate boss is the exception, not the rule. 

If we want to fight about Hagel’s appointment, let’s do it on his views, on policy.  Let’s have that serious fight, not a preposterous middle-school one.

New Maps for a New Middle East

I have long believed that there should be a Kurdistan.

From “Letter from Syria,” Thomas Friedman, NYT:

“Syria is the keystone of the Middle East.  If and how it cracks apart could recast this entire region.  The borders of Syria have been fixed ever since the British and French colonial powers carved up the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire after World War I.  If Assad is toppled and you have state collapse here, Syria’s civil war could go regional and challenge all the old borders — as the Shiites of Lebanon seek to link up more with the Alawite/Shiites of Syria, the Kurds of Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey try to link up with one another and create an independent Kurdistan, and the Sunnis of Iraq, Jordan and Syria draw closer to oppose the Shiites of Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.”  Emphasis added.

Certainly a messy and difficult process, but one that’s worth going through to try to get it right a hundred years later.

Mitt Sorry We Left Iraq, Wants to Stay in Afghanistan

In his foreign policy speech today at Virginia Military Institute, Mitt showed how out of touch he is with American voters, not just on economic issues, but on military ones as well.

He said that he would have stayed longer in Iraq, when the country as a whole is glad to be out of there:  “America’s ability to influence events for the better in Iraq has been undermined by the abrupt withdrawal of our entire troop presence.”

Strategically, we’d be better off today with Saddam Hussien in power as a bulwark and counter-weight to Iran.  The problem isn’t that we left, it’s that we went there in the first place.

Mitt said that he won’t be bound by Obama’s promise to get out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014, when the country as a whole would like to get out even sooner: “I will evaluate conditions on the ground and weigh the best advice of our military commanders.”

If Mittens thinks we want to lose more lives and limbs and healthy brains, thinks we want to waste more money we don’t have in either Iraq or Afghanistan, he has no clue how the American people feel about these wars.

The terrorists who threaten us have long since moved on from Afghanistan — across the border to Pakistan, north to Yemen and Somalia — and a big ground war there makes absolutely no sense.  This is a war for special forces and drones.

As for Iran’s nuclear quest, where Mitt has criticized Obama for not being tough enough, he spoke of sanctions, not military action:  “I will not hesitate to impose new sanctions on Iran and will tighten the sanctions we currently have.”  Iran has made it clear that sanctions won’t deter their nuclear ambitions.  So Mitt’s saying he’d do more of a failed policy.

Quote of the Day

“The world tells Israel wait, there is still time.  And I say, wait for what?  Wait until when?  Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

One of the things we should remember today is that neither the Clinton Administration nor the early Bush Administration took Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda seriously enough.  The saddest thing about 9/11 is that it could have and should have been prevented.

Our Frenemy Iraq

We freed the Iraqis from Saddam Hussein, and they pay us back by letting Iran fly over their territory to arm the Syrians.  Thank you, George W. Bush.

Under Hussein, the minority Sunnis ruled Iran.  Now the majority Shiites have taken over to form a powerful coalition with Shiite Iran, a major supporter not just of the brutal Assad regime but of terrorists like Hamas and Hezbollah.

Not the outcome we were looking for, but one we should have seen coming once Hussein was gone.