Short takes: Assad, Iran, Nidal Hasan, Barack Obama

How Assad negotiates

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris last week that he wanted to launch talks with Damascus without preconditions, according to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s top aide Bouthaina Shaaban…

However, she said that Assad had responded by saying that before talks could start, he wanted guarantees that Israel would return “Syria’s land” and restore the country’s “rights.”

According to Shaaban, Sarkozy replied, “That will be the result of negotiations,” to which Assad retorted, “No, that will result in negotiations, and the result of negotiations will be peace.” — Jerusalem Post

Brilliant, isn’t he? Here’s the plan:

  1. You give me everything I want
  2. Then we talk about me giving you something


The West is “disappointed” over Iran’s failure to respond positively to a UN-brokered nuclear deal, diplomats said in a statement Friday following a meeting of the UN Security Council’s five permanent members plus Germany. However, no new sanctions were discussed during the meeting, according to an EU source.

“We urge Iran to reconsider the opportunity offered by this agreement … and to engage seriously with us in dialogue and negotiations,” the statement said, noting that Teheran had not responded positively to the proposal of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

An EU official said there was no mention of imposing further sanctions against Iran at the meeting. “These things are a matter of timing, and this was not the right time for it,” said the official who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The Western officials said they would hold a follow-up meeting around Christmas. — Jerusalem Post

The impossible-to-understand deal in which Iran would send its uranium somewhere for some reason has fallen apart. Big surprise. How much time was wasted on that one? But this isn’t the “right time” for sanctions!

Nope, that will have to wait for Christmas. It’s pretty much a certainty now that Iran will become a nuclear power unless somebody bombs them.

The Ft. Hood Jihadist

The Army, Secretary of Defense Gates and the President have all refused to say that Maj. Hasan was motivated to murder by his radical Islamic belief. Daniel Pipes presents the argument for ideological motivation here, and Barry Rubin shows how Hasan more or less told us what he was going to do far in advance.

Asking “is he crazy or was it ideological” misses the point. Anyone who takes an action like Hasan’s for ideological reasons is abnormal by our standards. Possibly his difficulty in dealing with what was going on in his life or even a chemical imbalance in his brain weakened the inhibitions which usually prevent someone raised in a Western culture from behaving as he did (although in a different setting, like a battle zone, we think it’s normal to shoot people). But nothing is more clear, as Pipes and Rubin have shown, that he had a clear reason for what he was doing, and that reason was to engage in Islamic jihad.


Yesterday’s post brought me a lot of mail, much of it saying that I was too hard on Obama, that an enemy is someone like Nasrallah. Here is part of something I wrote in response to one of my correspondents:

I thought long and hard about this post and its title. As I wrote I’ve criticized particular actions and statements made by Obama before, but I never joined the chorus of the right wing here that called him an enemy, until now.

What pushed me over the edge was not so much his statement that continued building in E. Jerusalem was ‘dangerous’, although it’s disheartening to see him taking the Palestinian line and repeating their threats. It was that he used the phrase ‘settlement construction’ in connection with this, inflaming the issue by suggesting that 900 apartments in Gilo are no different from occupying a hilltop in Samaria and expropriating land that is being cultivated by Palestinians to do this!

Indeed, someone who doesn’t understand the issue (like most Americans) hears ‘settlement construction’ and thinks “they are building new settlements.” So he is actually doing Arab propaganda.

This line — that Israel is responsible for the failure of negotiations because “it keeps building settlements” — is entirely false and damaging. Here in the USA it leads people to withdraw support from Israel because they believe that Israel is expanding its occupation of “Palestinian land”. This is not something a friend would say.

No, Obama isn’t Nasrallah, but I do think that he is turning out to be the least friendly American President since 1948. And he’s not moving in the right direction: I had hoped that he would learn something from the behavior of the Palestinians and the other Arab nations, but instead of learning that he needed to get tough with them, he ‘learned’ that he had to push harder on Israel!

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2 Responses to “Short takes: Assad, Iran, Nidal Hasan, Barack Obama”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    Unfortunately on the critical Iranian issue I believe you are right. No one is stopping the Iranians and they continue to enrich uranium, and do the other work required for them to have a nuclear option. The only way to stop this is for a direct military strike upon their installations. The United States is not ready to go it alone, or with Israel to do this. They are bogged down in Afghanistan- Pakistan and to a degree in Iraq. The last thing they want is another major confrontation with an Islamic state.
    The consequence of this is to put it mildly extremely troublesome for Israel, and for other American allies, including the far from virtuous Saudi Arabia.
    It seems to me more and more that the risk of Israel going it alone to take out the Iranian installations is just too great, in many ways, to be taken. Of course I can be completely wrong. But it seems to me that without the United States wholly backing us the other side’s military response plus the condemnation and possible sanctions and isolation we would face would be too great a price.
    I hope I am wrong and there is a piece or many pieces of the puzzle I simply am not seeing.

  2. Robman says:

    Vic, you are absolutely right about Obama. In some ways, he is worse than Nasrallah because he has far more power and influence than Nasrallah.

    As an illustration of my point, many Jews get all up in arms when there is some rally somewhere of neo-Nazi cretins. While I myself find this annoying as well, I don’t get nearly as perturbed over these occurrences, since there really aren’t that many neo-Nazis, and most people don’t take them that seriously.

    What I get far more upset about is credible, respected journalists/pundits who engage in the far more insidiuos and sophisticated Israel bashing we find in much major media today. I’m talking about the Gwynne Dyer-types who may be nationally or internationally syndicated columnists. They don’t wear swastikas. They don’t deny the Holocaust. If they are in a generous mood, they might even grant Israel’s “right to exist” (how big of them!). But in the end, the effects they have on mass informed opinion are far more potentially deadly than any Goebbles wannabe on a city streetcorner handing out leaflets.

    And so it is with Obama. Most reasonable observers in Western societies can readily perceive the likes of a Nasrallah for the bloody-minded thug he is. But a president of the United States, who professes on the one hand that the bonds between Israel and the U.S. are “unbreakable” (subtext: since I said that, if they DO break, then it must be YOUR fault, Israel), who then goes on to act essentially as a lawyer for the murderous thugs of the PA, who can lend enourmous cerdibility to the narrative that says that the lack of peace can be laid at “intransigent” Israel’s doorstep, that does more damage to Israel than any half-wit Islamist gangster.

    As to Iran, yes, I expect an Israeli strike any time in the next six months, and we have to hope it works. I still hold out the possibility – as elaborated in other posts – that the U.S. even under Obama will act (mostly for the sake of Gulf Arabs, not Israel). Failing that, we all better hope the mullahs are overthrown before they can amass an arsenal of a couple dozen or so deliverable warheads, because if not, it is a virtual certainty that there will be a regional nuclear holocaust in SW Asia.