Beyond the Cusp

February 18, 2013

Obama Appointments Should Pose No Surprises

Some of my fellow Jewish friends and acquaintances have expressed surprise, possibly some cases of actual shock, at some, if not all, of President Obama’s choices for the main three appointments for his second term. It appears as John Kerry was the least controversial among them as Secretary of State but even this was at the least somewhat problematic. The seeming arrogance with which Secretary Kerry announced that he had ideas which would very likely restart the peace talks and guide them to a definitive conclusion was somewhat over the top. There have been numerous people with many more years experience with the problems and machinations of the Middle East who remain stymied by the Israeli Palestinian negotiation challenges yet Kerry is going to walk in cold and solve everything. The last neophyte to attempt to solve this problem with their grand and simplistic schemes was his boss, President Obama, and he made a catastrophe with his mechanisms and imposed conditions which we will discuss later in this article. Anybody looking into Senator Kerry’s record on votes affecting Israel in particular and the Middle East in general will note that his record of Israel favorable voting patterns appeared to be spaced with four years being questionable followed by two years of fairly pro-Israel voting which were then followed by reelection and the cycle restarting. But, the three appointments of John Kerry for Secretary of State, Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense, and John Brennan to be Chief of the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) are all problematic for individual and overlapping reasons.


Now on to Senator Chuck Hagel who is still being debated but is extremely likely to have his appointment ratified by the Senate as there will be at least eight and probably many more Republican Senators who will vote in favor ending any serious filibuster as has been promised by Senator Inhofe of Oklahoma. Condemning Senator Hagel’s voting record on all things concerning Israel in any manner would be repetitively redundant. Yes, it has been that bad and that much noted since his appointment as to demand such wording. What does deserve noting with an explanation has been his grand denial of ever voting to harm Israel. He made a very carefully crafted and misleading statement concerning his voting record. He claimed, “There is not one shred of evidence that I’m anti-Israeli, not one (Senate) vote that matters that hurt Israel.” Making sure that I am being honest and not casting aspersions where none apply, Chuck Hagel made an absolutely valid statement when taken in the context of it being spoken in politispeak, the form of newspeak used in Washington DC to avoid taking responsibility for one’s past actions. So, why don’t we transcribe Hagel’s masterful use of politispeak into every day common English and reveal his actual meaning. His statement does not refer to how he voted on items and legislation which concerned Israel. His statement renders his vote meaningless as he refers to the vote outcome and not his participation. His claim is no legislation on which he voted either passed or failed due to his vote that then resulted in harm to Israel. To make his statement accurate, he would have had to say, No legislation which I voted against supporting Israeli needs or wishes ever was defeated, they all passed and every vote I cast in favor of legislation and other items that would have been deleterious to Israel all never passed but my intention, votes, desire and heart really were placed in using every effort at my disposal to damn Israel and anything favorably relating to Israel but was denied my victories as I was in the minority on every vote. Now, that is a bit longwinded but gives a far more accurate appraisal of the truth behind Senator Hagel’s mendacity. Truth be told, President Obama chose Senator Hagel for the same reason he chose Senator Kerry, they both share his animus towards Israel and the United States Military and her standing as the leading nation in the world. They both support his desire to denude America’s nuclear weapons stores, unilaterally if possible, while diminishing the American standing Navy, Air Force, and Army while leaving the United States at the mercy of the rest of the world and both have a particular dislike for Israel. Thankfully, the last appointee poses mostly different problems.


Somehow, even after John Brennan decided to opt out of being appointed as CIA Chief at the beginning of President Obama’s first term due to expected difficulties over his record from the work he performed legitimizing the Bush Presidency’s numerous presumed irregularities in interrogation techniques and rendition usage as being within legal and acceptable standards, but now we have Mr. Brennan being appointed to be Chief of the CIA not only with the Bush record but also of having been one of the lead persons responsible for the use of drones in order to take out terror suspects even to include citizens of the United States. As I mentioned last week or so, I have to give Code Pink recognition and credit for consistency as they protested Mr. Brennan’s hearings holding him responsible for both his actions in the service of President Bush as well as his service of President Obama. But even if his involvement with both of these questionable utilizations of American forces, personnel, and their treatment of prisoners or Jihadists without judicial oversight, there are other reasons to be suspect of Mr. Brennan. During hearings before the Congress Mr. Brennan stated the following in a presentation when referencing Jerusalem calling it, “al-Quds,” the Islamic name and not its Jewish, Christian or common referenced name. Mr. Brennan also shares another set of values which correspond very closely to those of his boss, President Obama. Some of their shared views may be a result of both men spending parts of their youth growing up and attending schools in dominant Muslim areas of Indonesia. They both look to the Islam practiced during their youth in Indonesia which was open, peaceful, and largely influenced by the earliest passages of the Koran which were part of the Mecca Koran. The fact that the Middle Eastern and North African Islamists operate under the influence of the later written passages from the Koran as written in Medina to fit the life and practices of a society based on caravan raiding, protection schemes and based on a warlord mentality appears to have totally eluded them. Instead, they believe what they see is a Muslim world that suffers from ailments resulting from European colonialism, Western intolerance towards Islam, Westerners complete misunderstanding of the Islamic meaning of Jihad, Western misgivings of Muslim culture, and Western prejudice. They both believe that in order to repair the disconnects between the Islamic world and Western countries that Islam is not in need of making any changes in their lack of tolerance of other cultures or religions and that all of the problems are strictly found with the Western countries and especially Israel who need to learn more about Islam and be more understanding, less supercritical, and understandably accept that they are responsible for any intolerance or violence which emanates from the Muslim world. Despite their use of drone targeting of known Jihadists, even despite collateral casualties, they are likely to increase such attacks while calling on everyone else to change their rhetoric and adopt a more conciliatory approach to any problems with Islamic entities. Their disconnect between their demands and their actions is simply astounding. The one last shared view is that despite anything else, Israel is a separate and totally unique problematic situation which requires a completely different set of rules and actions. Everything that causes the Palestinian leadership to complain must be caused by Israeli intolerance, insensitivity, aggression and mere existence. No sacrifice demanded of Israel can be considered unreasonable while every point made by Israel is of no consequence.


And that leads us to why it was absolutely no surprise that President Obama chose three candidates who all believe that the solution to much of what ails the Middle East can be solved by crushing Israel with demands of complete and total sacrifice and surrender to the Palestinians and all of Islam. All we need to do is return to the early years of President Obama’s first term when he was the new man with all the answers that would forge peace between Israel and the Palestinians. It was in these early times that President Obama came forth with his new approach and fresh ideas that were to produce a final solution to this impossible problem. President Obama did indeed have a revolutionary set of ideas, or at least he must have since his first two suggestions had never before been even considered, let alone proposed. Even in their wildest demands, the Palestinians had never demanded of Israel what President Obama was to propose. His first groundbreaking proposal was for a building freeze in all of the contested lands. Prime Minister Netanyahu eventually complied with a ten month building freeze on all such areas except within Jerusalem. This led to one meeting between President Obama, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and President Abbas where there was one handshake, a bunch of pictures, three very short speeches, and then nothing until three weeks before the freeze was to end when
President Abbas demanded the freeze be extended or else he would not talk. Well, he met one last time with Netanyahu and demanded a new freeze with no ending and walked out never since to return. Fresh off his rousing defeat, President Obama plowed ahead and suggested that the negotiations should use the 1967 lines as the starting point for borders. Another ground shaking proposal which has since joined the building freeze as Mahmoud Abbas’s opening preconditions thanks exclusively to their originator, President Obama. Now you likely understand why these three, John Kerry, Chuck Hagel, and John Brennan were chosen to lead the international Obama team for his second and final term. The gloves are off and Israel has been sighted in and they are ready to fire for effect. G0d help Israel, she needs every bit of help she can get.


Beyond the Cusp


February 12, 2013

The Big Three Obama Appointments

Three of the most important nominations a President makes, as the Administrative Branch of the government is primarily responsible for foreign affairs, are Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and Director of the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency). President Obama could have made appointments which would have been uncontroversial, middle of the spectrum, and well versed in their fields and received quick Senate approval with little confrontational debate. But that was not his intent. The President cast cares aside and chose three candidates who were at best problematic.

For Secretary of State he chose Senator Kerry who originally made his name making outlandish and adversarial accusations before Congress demeaning his fellow soldiers with whom he had served side by side with in Viet Nam. He accused them of committing horrific atrocities comparing them with Genghis Kahn and the Mongol hordes. Since being elected to the Senate Kerry had castigated the State Department who served under Republican Presidents and was never really much of a defender of the state on the international stage. Still, of the three Senator Kerry was likely the least controversial and due to his relations with the members of the Senate received an easy confirmation hearing. Senator Kerry becoming Secretary of State was never in doubt and, by comparison with the other two appointees, was the least troubling.

Next is the President’s appointment for Secretary of Defense, former Senator Hagel. Senator Hagel’s hearings have had a grand display of ruffled feathers and looks to be flailing and headed to defeat. His hearings were a relief in many ways, none to Mr. Hagel’s credit. He was unprepared for answers which any competent appointee for Secretary of Defense would have known would be asked. His lack of having even a basic grasp of President Obama’s foreign policy positions was appalling and shocking. His admission after receiving corrections and admonitions from even Senators with whom he had served surprised and shocked even those who initially had supported his appointment. When even Senator McCain, who had been a friend and cosponsored legislation with Senator Hagel, appeared to lose his temper at Hagel’s’ evasions and prevarications was seen as shocking and a telling problem which evidenced the downturn of any possibility for Hagel to be approved. What may have been the final nail in the Hagel appointment coffin came when the senior committee member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, announced he planned to filibuster the appointment should it be brought before the Senate for confirmation. Seldom do we get to witness such a display of animosity shown publicly for a former Senator when brought before the Senate for confirmation. Partial proof of the deference shown by the Senate to former Senator during confirmation hearings was the easy and rapid approval given Senator Kerry just weeks prior when considered for Secretary of State.

The final appointment was the President appointing John Brennan to be the Director of the CIA. Any candidate for such a sensitive position is required to possess many varied and crucial qualifications. One of the most vital is the trust of both the employees of the CIA and the President while being able to display same before the Senate. Another would be a high sense of morality and a solid moral breadth to guide him in a position where temptations to go afield of the straight and narrow are numerous. That is where there may be some difficulty with the Brennan appointment. This was evident with his first appearance before the Senate where the hearings were disrupted repeatedly by demonstrators. What was amazing is that I have to give Code Pink credit for their consistency on this matter. Code Pink had problems with Mr. Brennan when he was instrumental in defending the use of enhanced interrogation techniques. Since then Mr. Brennan has been neck deep in President Obama’s use of drones for targeted assassinations including that of Americans overseas who have been identified of ties to terrorism. This too has troubled Code Pink and their demonstration against him as a President Obama appointee was something not often found in politics in the United States, a consistent and independent sense of morality that is applied without regards to political party. Code Pink was right on target about Mr. Brennan who has demonstrated that he has no internal morality and will simply take his orders and perform whatever he is assigned to without regards to legality or righteousness. He has uncanny ability to find justifications for any actions no matter their actual morality. That combined with Mr. Brennan’s tendency to be a simple yes man makes him problematic at best and a disaster waiting to happen at worst as Director of the CIA. Unfortunately, the Senate is very likely to allow Mr. Brennan to be confirmed as it is rare for the Senate to refuse two senior Presidential appointments so close together, but we can pray.

Beyond the Cusp

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