Monday, January 28, 2013

Biting Your Own Hand While Feeding Your Enemy!

An Analysis of the recent Israeli 
election and what it means. 
(See 1 below.)

I recently had lunch with a 
former Israeli, now an American 
citizen, who served in the same 
specia IDF unit with Netanyahu 
and Bennett. He pretty much 
validated the essence of this
My own impression of 
Netanyahu versus Obama. 

The former is a battle testedIDF
Captain and the latter is a 
social activist.

The former believes in the fruits 
of  'Cappletalism' the latter in 

Their economic and social 
philosophies are worlds apart.
More regarding Hillary's 
testimony.(See 2 and 2a below.)

Case for her being a great
Secretary of State seen as weak. 
(See 2b below.)

Yet case for her being
president is strong if she
wants it.  

The press and media
drumbeat has begun!(See 2c 
Iran continues to prepare. 
Tensions increase in northern 
Israel(See 3 and 3a below.)
Egypt's Democracy Muslim 
Brotherhood Style
See 4 below.)

Biting your own hand as you
feed your enemy.  (See 4a 
Excuse margins!

1)Israel Shows Her True Colors

A New York Daily News Column
January 27, 2013

Americans and Europeans who will hold out hope for an agreement should now say this to the Palestinians and their rejectionist allies: "Look at what the Israeli elections just revealed. They're not going to compromise their security (Netanyahu). But now, something has changed. Time is not on your side. If you do not deal, they're eventually going to permanently annex the land you want (Bennett). 
But for now, they're still willing to talk (Lapid). 

Israeli voters went to the polls last week with a sense of impending crisis. How they responded tells us a great deal not only about Israelis themselves, but about what how the international community ought to respond if it still harbors hope for peace in our region.

Though pundits predicted a ho-hum election, the results were dramatic. The two major stories were the significant weakening of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party, which lost considerable ground, and the rise of the previously unknown Yair Lapid, who is a staunch centrist and, suddenly, a major player.

All the predictions had been that Israelis would move to the right. They did precisely the opposite.

Why did observers assume Israel would swing right? The Jewish state faces threats from every direction. Iran, declaring that Israel is a cancer, gets ever closer to a nuclear weapon. While Israelis appreciate America's support, they give little credence to President Obama's assurances that Iran will not be allowed to get a bomb. His second inaugural address, in which he said that "a decade of war is now ending," confirmed their intuition that when it comes to Iran, Israel is on its own.

Closer to home, Egyptians elected the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi, who makes no secret of his disdain for Jews or of the fact that if only he could, he would annul the peace treaty with Israel. So blatant is Morsi's anti-Semitism that when a group of American senators went to meet with him, he launched a diatribe about Israeli policies that had the lawmakers "physically recoil[ing]," according to the account of Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.).

Are 35 years of peace about to end?

In Gaza, Hamas rules with an iron fist and is equally determined to destroy Israel. In Lebanon, Hezbollah essentially controls the country, and, like Hamas, is hell-bent on Israel's destruction.

Then there's Syria, where, if Bashar Assad is defeated, it will likely be by forces no less hostile to Israel but much less predictable than he was. 

And what about Jordan? Will King Abdullah survive? Should he fall, is there any doubt that he will be replaced by forces more religious and thus, more anti-Israel? Is Israel's treaty with Jordan also vulnerable?

The single largest conflict, of course, is with the Palestinians. Israelis intuit that Netanyahu lost the international public relations game by not reaching out to the Palestinians, but they also doubt that President Mahmoud Abbas is serious about negotiating.

They remember: When Netanyahu agreed to President Obama's first request for a settlement building freeze, Abbas refused to come to the table. Abbas still insists that he will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state; he recently claimed that the "Zionists" had collaborated with the Nazis.

Finally, there's Israel's own economy. It has weathered the economic slowdown better than many countries, but cutbacks are inevitable, and citizens worry that our stratospherically high taxes might rise further.

Given all these dangers, pundits predicted that Israel, fearful for its future, would lurch to the right, which is seen as being more reliable on security issues. That assumption was fueled by the campaign's main story until Election Day: Naftali Bennett. An unknown, Bennett took the National Religious Party and reshaped it as the Jewish Home Party, reaching out to religious and secular voters alike, many of them young.
The most famous line from Bennett's web video was, "There are certain things we simply know aren't going to happen. 'The Sopranos' are not coming back for another season, and there's not going to be a peace deal with the Palestinians." Bennett advocated annexing part of the West Bank to Israel, thus ending the pretense of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations once and for all.

Bennett horrified the international community. Netanyahu at least pretended to want a deal, they said, even if he did nothing. Suddenly, Bennett was the hottest item in Israeli politics. Obama snidely opined that "Israel doesn't know what its best interests are." The American press and many American Jewish leaders moaned that the Jewish state was about to stumble off a cliff into a hell of its own making.

But those prognostications were based on a fundamental misreading of Israeli society.

While Bennett did well, he did not do as well as had been expected, with his party receiving only 12 seats of the 120 seats in the Israeli Knesset.

That slight rise was completely overshadowed by the exceptional showing of a rising star and his fundamentally hopeful message: Yair Lapid's new Yesh Atid ("There Is a Future") party. Lapid's party received 19 Knesset seats, making him the second largest party, and almost certainly a key partner in whatever coalition Netanyahu manages to cobble together.

This is a profound statement about the very nature of Israel. Surrounded by enemies, beset by internal anxieties, the people did not take the bait of extremists. Nor would they validate the status quo.

To the contrary, Israelis chose to embrace the center. They heard Bennett and were not sure that he was wrong, but they were unwilling to declare peace dead. Instead, they decided to give negotiations one more try, weakening Netanyahu by heaping votes on a new, third way.

Who is Lapid?

Long known to Israelis as a smart, trendy and handsome TV journalist, he is a newcomer to the political scene. He ran as a hopeful pragmatist, neither naïve nor hardline. A secular Jew with personal ties to Judaism's liberal Reform movement, the members of Knesset from his party will also include Orthodox rabbis.

By no means naïve about the Palestinian refusal to compromise, Lapid still believes Israel needs to talk to them, if only to avoid being perceived as the obstacle. Unlike Israel's left-wing Labor Party, which ran on a nearly socialist agenda, Lapid is a committed capitalist but nonetheless wants to address issues of economic inequality.
Netanyahu appears to have survived as prime minister, but is more than a bit beaten up. Having performed much more poorly in the elections than he had hoped, he must cobble together at least 61 seats of the 120 Knesset seats to have a majority. Meaning he will likely need both Bennett and Lapid, as well as a few others, to form a true governing coalition.

Taken as a whole, then, what did Israelis do? They reelected Netanyahu, because Iran still looms, and they trust him more than anyone else to make the right life-and-death decisions. But at the very same time, voters are clearly tired of Netanyahu's bravado. Those convinced that there's no deal to be had with the Palestinians prefer Bennett's lack of pretense; those not yet certain clipped Netanyahu's wings with Lapid's scissors, hoping that will force the prime minister to give it a serious try.

Jewish tradition is fundamentally deliberative; its central religious text, the Talmud, is a 20-volume conversation, in which both the winning and losing positions are revered and studied. The Jewish state is similarly deliberative; Israeli society is fundamentally "both-and" rather than "either-or." Israelis want both capitalism and a social conscience. They demand both hard-nosed security and the openness to negotiating. They know that Israel needs both the freedom to defend itself and restored standing in the international community.

Israelis do not give up on hope; in fact, "Hatikvah," our national anthem, means "The Hope."

Netanyahu offered no vision for a different future. Both Bennett and Lapid did. Netanyahu paid the price; Bennett and Lapid collected the spoils.

The question now turns to Israel's neighbors - which, in far too many cases, are her enemies. The Jewish state has proven its moderation, even in moments of great distress. But what about the Egyptians? Gazans? Palestinians?
Americans and Europeans who will hold out hope for an agreement should now say this to the Palestinians and their rejectionist allies: "Look at what the Israeli elections just revealed. They're not going to compromise their security (Netanyahu). But now, something has changed. Time is not on your side. If you do not deal, they're eventually going to permanently annex the land you want (Bennett). But for now, they're still willing to talk (Lapid).

"So stop the evasion. And while you're at it, look at the country those Israelis have created. You see their freedom of the press? Their attitude to women (more in this Knesset than ever before)? Their openness to gays and lesbians?

"We Americans believe in all those things. Their election has reminded us that they are our natural allies. You want our support, too? Drop the fundamentalism. Stop the hatred. Work with Israel."

Will they, or will they continue to put disproportionate pressure on Israel to bring about change that it simply cannot accomplish on its own?

Time will tell. But let there be no doubt: Everything now depends not on Israel, but on those very governments that dreaded what Israelis might have done, but didn't.
2)Hillary's First Big Lie
By Jack Cashill

The congressional hearings on Benghazi last week led me to question just when it was that public integrity ceased to matter. After some research, I came to an unexpectedly specific answer -- January 26, 1992, the day America first met Hillary Clinton.
Earlier that month, Arkansas state employee Gennifer Flowers confessed to a tabloid that she and Bill Clinton had engaged in a 12-year affair. In a desperate attempt to save Bill's candidacy for president, the Clintons agreed to be interviewed by Steve Kroft on CBS's 60 Minutes.
Upon watching this interview, I was struck by how forcefully Kroft stuck it to the Clintons. I had all but forgotten that in days gone by news people expected the truth from public officials, even Democratic front-runners for the presidency. Starting with this interview, the Clintons would dramatically lower that expectation.
When Kroft asked Bill if he had an affair with Flowers, he answered, "That allegation is false." Hillary, her hands lovingly intertwined with Bill's, nodded in affirmation. Of course, they were both lying, Bill with much greater skill. Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey would later immortalize Bill as "an unusually good liar."
At this point in the interview, Hillary tried to explain how these allegations emerged. "When this woman [Flowers] first got caught up in these charges," she said, "I felt as I've felt about all of these women: that they had just been minding their own business and they got hit by a meteor, and it was no fault of their own."
It was Hillary's next thought that caused me to hit the pause button and replay the video. "We reached out to them," said Hillary. "I met with two of them to reassure them they were friends of ours." This was the only sentence for which I marked the time -- roughly 3:28 in the video clip -- and wrote down the quote verbatim.
Something provocative, perhaps historic, had caught my attention. No, it was not the use of "friends of ours," mob shorthand for "made guys." Rather, it was that on no other occasion had Hillary admitted an active role in silencing Bill's women. She continued, "I felt terrible about what was happening to them."
Hillary had reason to feel terrible. Among the people the Clintons reached out to that year -- in this case, through a proxy -- was Sally Perdue, a former Miss Arkansas and Clinton paramour. "[The proxy] said that there were people in high places who were anxious about me and they wanted me to know that keeping my mouth shut would be worthwhile," Perdue would later relate. "Worthwhile" meant a GS-11 or higher job with the federal government. If she turned down the offer and talked to the media, "He couldn't guarantee what would happen to my pretty little legs."
Perdue was the least of the Clintons' problems in 1992. More potentially troublesome were the women that Clinton had criminally assaulted or humiliated -- Juanita Broaddrick, Elizabeth Ward Gracen, and Paula Jones among others. Jones, though not raped like Broaddrick or attacked like Gracen, would prove Bill Clinton's undoing.
Later in the 60 Minutes interview, Bill swore, "I have absolutely leveled with the American people." Of course, he did no such thing, and Kroft knew it. Skeptically, Kroft asked Bill if he thought the interview would help quiet the furor. Clinton answered, "That's up to the American people and to some extent up to the press. This will test the character of the press. It is not only my character that has been tested."
By Clinton standards, the media would pass the test, ace it even, and at their prompting, so would the public. Clinton had given the media just enough cover to "move on." This was their turning point. After twelve years of Reagan and Bush, they embraced their inner liberal and abandoned their role as watchdogs. America has always had scoundrels, but never before had the media collectively championed them.
For the next six years, and more recklessly still after the disastrous 1994 mid-terms, Hillary lied as necessary to protect the Clinton brand. At every turn, her co-dependents in the major media enabled her. Appalled by her performance, William Safire famously designated Hillary "a congenital liar" in a 1996 New York Times op-ed, but Hillary was just learning the art of the lie.
In 1998, she had plenty of opportunity to hone her craft. That year the story of Bill's sordid sexual history broke into public view despite the major media's best efforts to conceal it. The intrepid reporting of the American Spectator and the emergence of the Internet, the Drudge Report in particular, made containment impossible.
Unwilling to abandon the Clintons, the major media savaged the truth tellers -- the whistleblowers, the prosecutors, the "bimbos" that erupted -- and shifted their protective embrace to Hillary as the future progressive torchbearer. Almost to a person, in ways big and small, they helped her survive this ordeal.
Six years and a day after she lied on 60 Minutes to protect Bill's candidacy, Hillary lied on the Today Show to protect his presidency. "There isn't any fire," she told Matt Lauer about the "smoke" surrounding her husband, and unlike Steve Kroft in 1992, Lauer allowed her to lie.
He shifted his inquiry from whether Bill had a sexual liaison with Monica Lewinsky to whether independent counsel Ken Starr's "thirty million dollar" investigation had unfairly targeted the president. This set-up allowed Hillary to establish the media narrative going forward. ''The great story here," she said for the ages, "is this vast right-wing conspiracy that been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president."
The media helped in less obvious ways as well. In 1998, the Washington Post ran an historical series on Bill's sexual misadventures. One day the Post included a transcript of the 1992 60 Minutes interview. What follows is an excerpt from that transcript.
[These women] had just been minding their own business and they got hit by a meteor . . . . I felt terrible about what was happening to them.
The ellipsis conceals from the reader the most significant quote in the interview: "We reached out to them. I met with two of them to reassure them they were friends of ours." This was the only passage of any substance edited out of the transcript. In 1998, there was no YouTube. Readers relied on transcripts. By this time, much of the public was aware that the outreach to "these women" had not been at all friendly. A Post editor had chosen to scrub Hillary's sordid role in that outreach from the record.
Hillary would later claim to have learned about Bill's affair with Monica just before his August 1998 grand jury testimony. In fact, however, it was Hillary, working through her acolytes, who had Monica booted from the White House before the story went public and branded as a stalker after it did. The media chose not to know. They allowed the smartest woman in the world to play innocent victim, and this improbable role immunized her from scandal and burnished her political star.
By 2012, the major media had become so comfortable with Clinton lies that not a single one among them pointed out the grotesque irony of having an unrepentant sexual predator keynote a Democratic Convention whose theme was the "Republican war on women."
So accustomed had Hillary grown to having her lies glossed over that she grew increasingly indignant even at the timid questions Congress threw her way at last week's Benghazi hearing. When asked by Senator Ron Johnson about her version of events, Hillary exploded in an outburst destined to be at least as famous as her "vast right wing conspiracy" jeremiad.
Said Hillary, summing up the state of public integrity in 2013, "What difference at this point does it make?" Say what you will, but today, that is a legitimate question.

2a)Hillary Gives Away the Game
By Daren Jonescu

Hillary Clinton's angry flip-out at Senator Ron Johnson during her Benghazi testimony was a charmed moment.  All at once, before the whole world, one of the highest ranking progressive authoritarians on the planet spilled the beans -- all of them -- about the left's modus operandi. 
The revelation might be overlooked, however, if we focus too closely on Clinton's easily quotable "What difference does it make?"  The line as quoted merely shows Clinton to be a trapped liar trying to fake her way through an awkward moment with pomposity and bravado.  In truth, however, "What difference does it make?" is merely a media-friendly ellipsis of her actual words.  What she actually said, without the convenient editing, is far more telling.
Here is the exchange:
Johnson: We were misled that there were supposedly protests and then... an assault sprang out of that.  And that was easily ascertained that that was not the fact, and the American people could have known that within days -- and they didn't know that.
Clinton (shouting, glaring, and waving her arms): With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans.  Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they'd go kill some Americans?  What difference -- at this point -- does it make?  It is our job to figure out what happened, and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator.
Note in passing the obvious contradiction in saying that it makes no difference what happened, and then immediately saying that "our job" is "to figure out what happened."  Clearly, in her flustered state, Clinton confused her talking points, the intended gist of which was presumably that the job of finding out what happened is the responsibility of the administration's own internal investigatorsalone, because only the administration itself will be able to construct a tale that "gets to the bottom of things" without incriminating anyone in the administration.
All contradictions aside, however, let us turn to Clinton's central point.  Johnson's question was a straightforward one, and the one people have been asking since the first days after the attack, when, thanks to foreign media sources, Americans were learning that there was no evidence of any video protest anywhere in Libya on September 11.  That question gained force and significance when the world learned that the assault had lasted for seven hours, and that throughout the battle, administration officials in Washington were receiving live communications from those under attack, as well as real time images from a U.S. drone on the scene.  It gained further urgency when Clinton promised Tyrone Woods' father that the government would hunt down... no, not the terrorists who killed his son, but the maker of the video that supposedly ignited the non-existent protests. 
The simple question Senator Johnson revived gained a fever pitch of relevance when President Obama went on television, and to the United Nations, to condemn an anti-Islamic video which by that time he had to know was in no way related to the attacks.  (See here.)  And of course the precise context which heightened the relevance of this "video protest" lie was on display when, during a debate, Obama refused to answer questions about what he had done to help the Americans under attack, instead glaring condescendingly at Mitt Romney while delivering a carefully prepared (and frequently repeated) diatribe about his supposed "three orders," none of which addressed the actual question as to what he had done during the assault to rescue the victims.
The context, and the brazenness of the lie, provoked many speculations as to what the Obama administration was hiding, and why.  The kindest, most generous interpretation, given what we now know, is that the administration was running a sophisticated smokescreen operation to evade damage to the Obama campaign's talking point that by "getting bin Laden" while endorsing the "democratic elements" of the Muslim Brotherhood, Barack the Avenger was freeing America from the threat of Islamic extremism.  The video protest story, tarted up by the administration as "understandable outrage" about a "disgusting" case of "religious intolerance," was (minimally) designed to deflect blame from a foreign policy that, with its projection of weakness and its moral support for the global caliphate movement, was an invitation to aggression.
It is in this light that we must view Clinton's angry outburst, and particularly her most revealing declaration: "Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they'd go kill some Americans?  What difference -- at this point -- does it make?"
Notice that her first question carefully avoids the true option, namely "a planned assault by well-armed Islamists affiliated with al-Qaeda."  Had she included that one among her list of hypotheticals, the absurdity of her rhetorical question would have been crystal clear, even to her.  Obviously, in the immediate aftermath of the attack, the answer to this question -- why were the men killed? -- made all the difference in the world.  The administration's lies, obfuscations, and contradictory half-stories about the events were the crux of the issue -- at that time.
But that was months ago.  As Clinton so pointedly says, "What difference -- at this point -- does it make?"  Clinton, the administration official most closely linked to this catastrophe, chose not to be available for questioning in September, when Susan Rice, who (conveniently) had nothing to do with any of it, was sent out to the Sunday talk shows to deliver the administration's lies.  Clinton chose not to be available the first time she was asked to testify before Congress, due to an urgently important trip to Australia.  And then, of course, she was unavailable for her second invited appearance, due to having reportedly hit her head after fainting. 
Now, four and a half months after the murderous assault on a woefully under-defended diplomatic staff by a well-known terrorist group; two and a half months after the presidential election was won by the man who made the unthinkably brutal decision to leave American government employees under attack for hours without taking any action to help them; months after the administration's point-man in its initial cover-up, Rice, was safely cordoned off from scrutiny on the inscrutable grounds that she was a complete naïf "just delivering the information that was given to her" (by whom?) -- after all this time, Clinton can simply bury the central question, and the main reason for the congressional investigation itself, by wailing, "What difference -- at this point -- does it make?"
"At this point."  That is, and has always been, the underlying strategy of the Obama administration on Benghazi: stall for time until they've reached a safe distance from the horrors they perpetrated on the ambassador and his brave defenders, on the American people, on an insignificant amateur video maker, and on the many Arab Muslims killed during real protests stoked by the administration's repeated citing of an "outrageous," "disgusting," "intolerant" video which in fact had nothing to do with anything.  From this distance, they hoped, all the important questions would begin to seem less urgent, and all the ugly facts begin to drift into the dark recesses of public consciousness. 
Had Hillary Clinton, during any of those September Sunday shows she avoided, said "What difference does it make what actually happened?" even her mistresses of the robes in the mainstream media would have had a hard time carrying her train.
Had Obama himself, during his re-election campaign debates, said "What difference does it make what really happened?" even Candy Crowley would have been hard pressed to leap to his defense.
Now, at last, believing they have successfully run out the clock on the public's infantile attention span, the progressives can offer their only real defense of their terrifying inhumanity -- the argument they undoubtedly used privately from the beginning, but which they dared not utter in public while many were still disturbed about the details of the attack: "What difference does it make?"  What's done is done.
Furthermore, Hillary Clinton's angry blurting out of the truth is applicable to much more than just the Benghazi fiasco.  With that revealing little qualification -- "at this point" -- she actually gave away the entire progressive game that has been played on Western civilization for more than a hundred years, and has now all but shut the door on the five hundred year adventure the West has dubbed "modernity."
This is the big secret at the core of the progressives' conception of "progress": You cannot justify the unjustifiable in advance, or persuade people of the rationally unpersuasive.  Rather, you must simply push "forward" into ever-deepening waters, repeatedly building reserves of social pressure and then releasing them in little thrusts of propelling energy to carry civilization ever nearer the vortex -- all the while promising to save men from the frightening depths, if only they will hold on tight, and follow you, the progressive, just a little farther forward, just a little farther forward.
The key to the progressive "ratchet," as it is often, correctly, called, is that no step forward may ever be retraced.  Each stage of degradation is to be rationalized after the fact, precisely by the means exemplified in Hillary Clinton's stark question: "What difference -- at this point -- does it make?"
Was modern public education conceived as a tool for preventing the development of individualism and exceptional men, in favor of a morally and intellectually stunted "workforce" of the compliant to support an entrenched oligarchy?  "What difference -- at this point -- does it make?" say the defenders of public education.  "After all, we can't just abolish an education system we've come to depend on for generations to raise our children."
Would ObamaCare's individual mandate stand up to the judgment of the framers of the U.S. Constitution?  "What difference -- at this point -- does that make?" says the Supreme Court.  "After all, it was passed by a duly elected Congress and president of today, so who's to say James Madison himself would not have approved, had he seen Barack Obama's well-creased pant leg?" 
FDR rammed New Deal legislation through an intimidated Supreme Court, and against strong Republican and public outcries that it betokened the thin edge of the socialist wedge.  "What difference -- at this point -- does it make?" say subsequent generations of Americans when the question of "Social Security reform" is tentatively raised.  "After all, we can't just unravel programs that have come to be taken for granted by generations of Americans, even if they are bankrupting the country."
Throughout the dilapidated West, the same now goes, or soon will go, for wealth redistribution, government-controlled medicine, abortion, affirmative action, the abolition of private property, government-ordered euthanasia, gay/transgender/bi-species marriage, a ban on private gun ownership, anti-industrial "green" legislation, restrictions on soft drink serving sizes, government-mandated molestation at airports, the outlawing of all forms of private education, and mental health assessments for those showing excessive reverence for individual liberty.
The key to the success of Western socialism's "progress" is not the periodic lurches toward the abyss.  It is the art of effective stalling.  All of today's political and moral outrages will be rationalized with a shrug tomorrow: "What difference -- at this point -- does it make?"

2b)Brit Hume: Case For Hillary Clinton "Being A Great Secretary Of State Is Exceedingly Weak"

WALLACE: Yeah, I want to pick up on that, Brit, because during the hearing, what struck me was the Republicans were tough on Hillary, on Benghazi and the Democrats weren't. But, both sides kept on saying what a great secretary of state she had been and to praise her service. And here's some of the points that have been brought up, some of her accomplishments. She helped assemble the bombing campaign in Libya to topple Muammar Qaddafi. She helped assembly the coalition that imposed the toughest sanctions ever on Iran. And, she established diplomatic ties with Burma.

Question, Brit, how do you rate Hillary Clinton's performance, record as our top diplomat?

HUME: I think those examples you cited would add up to a case for her competence. They do not add up to a case for greatness, after all, the groundwork on Burma had been done by the previous administration. And the administration properly followed through on it. You look across the world, now at the major issues. Are Arabs and Israelis closer to peace? How about Iran and North Korea and their nuclear programs? Have they been halted or seriously set back? Has the reset with Russia, which she so famously introduced with the photo-op in Moscow with the reset button, has they lead to a new and more cooperative relationship? Is there a Clinton doctrine that we can identify that she has articulated and formed as secretary of state? Are there major treaties that she has undertaken and negotiated through to a successful conclusion? I think the answer to all those questions is that she has not. And those are the kinds of things that might mark her as a great secretary of state.

She has certainly been industrious. She has visited 112 countries. Her conduct as secretary of state has been highly dignified. She does her homework. There have been no gaffes or blunders. So I think she has been a capable and hard working secretary of state, but I think the case for her being a great secretary of state is exceedingly weak.
President Hillary Clinton? If she wants it
By David Rothkopf

Editor's note:
 David Rothkopf is CEO and editor-at-large of the FP Group, publishers of Foreign Policy magazine, and a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He is the author of, among other books, "Running The World: The Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Power," served as deputy under secretary of commerce for international trade policy in the Clinton administration and for two years as managing director of Kissinger Associates.
(CNN) -- There are few certainties in American politics. But you can write it down: If Hillary Clinton wants to be the next nominee of the Democratic Party to be president, the job is hers.
Joe Biden, Andrew Cuomo, Mark Warner, Martin O'Malley and the others in the long list of commander-in-chief wannabes will go about their day jobs for the next couple years, but at the back of their minds will be only one question: Will she or won't she?
Because, as the most popular politician in America -- who also happens to be married to America's most popular ex-president and who has in place a nationwide network of donors, campaign staffers and committed supporters -- Clinton has the power to keep potential rivals from raising money or gaining political traction simply by saying, "I haven't decided what my plans are." She's in control.

That she should be in such a position at this moment is a remarkable achievement and an extraordinary testament to her grit, gifts and track record: She has been the most successful U.S. secretary of state in two decades. That outcome was hardly a foregone conclusion when Barack Obama made the bold decision to pick his former primary rival to assume the oldest and most senior post in the Cabinet.
She had, after all, lost a bruising campaign to him, there was tension between her team and his and no reason to assume the two ex-rivals would work together. She had never run a large organization before. Beyond that, the United States was facing massive crises at home and bewildering complexity abroad. Many of the issues she would be facing would be new to her.
Clinton was so famous already that she could easily be seen to be upstaging the president, something that would have undone her within the administration and made her look bad.
Her tour de force performance this week before Senate and House committees looking into the Benghazi tragedy illustrated how far she has come. In a charged political environment, she commanded the stage and deftly repulsed effort after effort by Republican partisans to shift the focus away from what the lessons of the attacks were and should be, turning aside their theories of conspiracy and devious motives for the missteps surrounding the event. She defended the president and revealed her character by accepting responsibility.

She had already set the stage with her swift embrace of a blue-ribbon investigation into the incident and her acceptance of its recommendations for avoiding such problems in the future. She was helped by the bipartisan recognition of her extraordinary tenure at State; her work ethic, miles traveled and commitment were praised throughout both hearings.
Most importantly, Clinton clearly knew her brief better than any of those questioning her. When Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin attempted to score political points with a cynical line of questioning, she showed her strength and stature as a leader with a direct, unwavering response urging him to focus on the bigger issues at hand.
When Sen. Rand Paul announced that had he been president he would have fired her, her response evinced an understanding of the issues and processes at play; it was evident that only one of the two of them had any chance of occupying the Oval Office in the future. When describing the return of the caskets of the American victims in the Benghazi attack, she showed her humanity. Frequently, she showed the comfort with the setting that comes from her experience not just at State but as a senator.
Clinton's virtuosity in such situations is no accident, nor is it a surprise to any who have watched her grow, first as a senator and then at State. Having been tested as few have been by the extraordinary stresses she faced as first lady, she famously earned her stripes in the upper chamber of our Congress by being "a workhorse not a show horse." Her close aides at State speak with some awe about her hours spent immersed in her briefing papers, her questioning of her staff and top experts to get up to speed, and her political skill in translating her conclusions into actions

She has worked on forging not only a good working relationship with the president but also in building key alliances in the Cabinet, notably with former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and top officials in the military and the intelligence community. When the White House limited her brief and asserted control over key issues, from the appointment of ambassadors to a host of issues in the Middle East, she found alternative paths to make a difference.
The "pivot" to Asia was one concrete example of her success -- not as merely a policy concept but as an initiative made real by active, intensive diplomacy throughout the region. She helped restore U.S. relations worldwide that had been damaged by the bull-in-a-china-shop policies of the George W. Bush administration. Sheactively worked to reshape the American international agenda for the 21st century, focusing on emerging powers, new technologies and populations -- like the role of women worldwide -- long neglected by the U.S. foreign policy establishment.
She led the way for the United States to be more active in Libya, to manage unprecedented international sanctions against Iran, to stand up to the Chinese in the South China Sea. Indeed, perhaps most importantly, at a time when the U.S. faced distractions and new constraints at home and a national desire to avoid military entanglements worldwide, she recognized that our greatest tools going forward would be active diplomacy and repaired alliances, and she restored them to centrality in U.S. foreign policy.
It is a stand-out record, one that makes her the equal of the likes of James Baker, George Schultz or Henry Kissinger among our leading modern secretaries of state. What is more, she achieved her success by promoting a more humanist international agenda than her peers at the first ranks of American foreign policy leaders. At the same time, she maintained a centrist course more comfortable with the appropriate use of force than many of her more liberal colleagues in the Obama administration. Maintaining such a balance requires exceptional skill. To do so for four years under the conditions she faced is among the reasons she is so widely admired.
Hillary Clinton is likely to be the next Democratic presidential nominee because she is the best-known active Democratic politician, because she has repeatedly triumphed over adversity, because she has made herself well-liked at a time that politicians are typically viewed with contempt.
But she is likely to be the next president, the first woman to be president of the United States, because of the quality of her character and her work on behalf of the American people. With some luck she will use the next two years to restore her energy and prepare for what lies ahead. Because regardless of what political party in which you may find yourself, it is hard to deny that she elevates our political discourse in ways that few, if any, others do on the contemporary stage.


Iran actively weighs Syrian-Israeli clash. Iron Dome posted in N. Israel

Tehran is looking seriously at a limited Syrian-Lebanese clash of arms with Israel – possibly using Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons as a trigger, 
military and intelligence sources disclose.  Reacting to this news, Israel announced Sunday, Jan. 27, the deployment of Iron Dome anti-missile batteries some days ago to reinforce security in northern Israel and the key Haifa port. 

The Iranians see three strategic benefits in embroiling Israel in a limited war with its two allies, Syria and Hizballah:
1.  A new outbreak of armed violence would direct world attention away from the Syrian civil war:
2.   Israel would be sidetracked from a possible strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities – even a “surgical operation” such as Defense Minister Ehud Barak spoke of over the weekend – by being thrown into multiple battles with Iranian forces in Syria and Lebanon, the Shiite Hizballah and the Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihadi in the Gaza Strip.
The clash would be programmed to end without winners or losers like Israel’s war against Hizballah in 2006 and its two anti-terror operations the Gaza Strip in 2009 and 2012. But meanwhile Israel would have its hands too full with threats on three borders to pursue military action against a nuclear Iran.

3. Tehran would buy another year’s delay for spinning out its talks with the Six Powers (US, Russia, France, Britain, China and Germany) on their nuclear controversy.
At the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said “Israel faced some of the gravest threats in its existence” and they continue to run riot “in the east, the north and the south.”
Behind his words, was an immediate neighborhood beset in last couple of weeks by al Qaeda’s advance in Mali - now checked by French intervention; the Algerian gas field hostage siege; and the discovery of the strong interface among the various African Al Qaeda branches, including Egypt, in operations, logistics, shared arms suppliers and the pooling of jihadist manpower in the different arenas.
Israel’s prime minister and security chiefs are clearly troubled by the perceived danger of the jihadist networks based in Egyptian Sinai and al Qaeda affiliates fighting in Syria joining up to attack Israel from two directions, the north and the south. This would be in keeping with the multiple, multinational terrorist threats surfacing in Africa.

With regard to Syria’s chemical weapons, after convening an expanded security-diplomatic cabinet meeting last Wednesday, Jan. 23, the day after Israel’s general election, Netanyahu remarked: “We have to look around us… What’s happening in Iran and the lethal weapons in Syria, which is falling apart…”
He left the specifics to Deputy Prime Minister Sylvan Shalom, who said Sunday that if chemical weapons reached Hizballah or Syrian rebel hands, “Such a development would be a crossing of all red lines that would require a different approach, including even preventive operations.”

But even Shalom did not specify where the red lines would be – the handover of Syrian chemical weapons to Hizballah? And against whom would Israel take preventive action – Syria, Hizballah or both? And if they reached Syrian rebel hands, would Israel hit them or go straight for the poison gas arsenals?

Neither Netanyahu nor Shalom responded to the Iranian warning issued Saturday by Ali Akbar Velayati, a close adviser to Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that an attack on Syria would be tantamount to an attack on Iran.
This warning was intended to drive home to Israel the message that an offensive against Syria would be treated as a direct confrontation with Iran.

This warning aimed at holding Israel back from a military strike against Syria - Syria, not the Assad regime. This is because an Israeli attack on Syrian rebels armed with chemical weapons would also serve Tehran’s purpose very well:  Iranian forces in Syria and Lebanon would use the opportunity to unite the Syrian army and the rebels against the common enemy, Israel, and so start the process of winding down the anti-Assad revolt.
Velayati also avoided mentioning Iran’s key ally in Lebanon, Hizballah. In his warning, he said: "Syria has a very basic and key role in the region for promoting firm policies of resistance [against Israel]... For this reason an attack on Syria would be considered an attack on Iran and Iran's allies."
This high-ranking Iranian figure took care not to draw attention to Hizballah. According to military sources, parts of the Syrian chemical arsenal have already reached Hizballah and are stashed away in fortified bunkers in the terrorist militia’s Beqaa Valey strongholds, along with a lethal array of long- and medium-range ground-to-ground rockets that too were smuggled secretly across the Syrian border.
Some western intelligence sources – especially American – now believe Syrian chemical weapons were secreted to Hizballah during 2012. They were sent over in small packages to avoid attracting US or Israel notice.  By now Hizballah is thought to have accumulated a substantial supply of poison weapons.

Military sources report Israel’s military planners have long-range logistical plans ready for dealing with new situations such as this one. It has expanded its undercover penetration of Syria and Lebanon and is making rapid progress in erecting a sophisticated 57-kilometer security fence along the Syrian border. This project may take months to complete. But meanwhile, Iran is working on its own plans for jumping the gun before it is finished with a military adventure.


Increased Tension at Northern Israeli Border
Increased Tension at Northern Israeli Border

The IDF senior echelon holds discussions over possibility that Israel will
be forced to act to prevent the transfer of chemical weapons from Syria to
By Amir Rapaport

Tensions are increasing along the Israeli northern border, against the
backdrop of growing concerns that Syria will soon transfer chemical weapons
into the hands of Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the possibility that Israel will
attempt to prevent such a transfer.

A special debate by the Israeli forum of nine (which consists of the top
nine ministers) was held last Tuesday, and it has now been learned that
there are various deliberations among the IDF senior echelon, including
officials from the IDF Northern Command, the Home Front Command, and the
Home Front Defense Ministry.

A short while ago, the IAF deployed an Iron Dome battery in the Haifa
region, directed towards Lebanon. A series of improvements was recently
introduced to the system batteries, allowing them to deal with heavier and
longer-ranged missiles and rockets
4)And Democracy for all? Two years on, Egypt remains in state of chaos
By Nancy Youssef 

Muslim Brotherhood and its opponents in many ways cannot evolve past the movement that led to the fall of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak

FAIYUM, Egypt— (MCT) To mark the two-year anniversary of an uprising that led to their ascension, members of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood came to the town of Faiyum on Friday with a simple message: The government may not be providing services for you, but the powerful social organization supporting it still can.
They fanned out in this historic, impoverished town and picked up 2-week-old trash thrown between apartment buildings. Brotherhood doctors carried boxes of medicine into makeshift clinics to distribute to the ill. Merchants opened subsidized food, gas and clothing markets.
One hundred miles north down the Nile River and a world away, thousands gathered at Tahrir Square, a now international symbol of its literal name, liberation. The opposition, unable to coalesce around a political platform that can unseat the Brotherhood, was back protesting in the streets, battling police tear gas with rocks, stagnation with chants

But regular protests in Tahrir have done more to alienate voters than to topple Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. And the Brotherhood's social campaign no longer buys the votes it once did. There is a patina of disillusionment over millions of Egyptians like Faiyum resident Safa Ramadan, 43, who is too hungry to embrace the luster of revolutionary change, too humiliated to appreciate another handout.
Ramadan's husband does not make enough money to keep up with rising prices brought by near constant instability. So she pulled her 12-year-old son out of school and made him get a job as a garbage man, or perhaps more aptly, garbage boy. Friday, she stood over baskets of fruit and vegetables, swarmed by flies, and fretted over whether she could afford the extra 10 cents a kilo of tomatoes will cost her this week.
"The prices never go down. They always go up by a lot. What am I supposed to do? Should I pay for school or pay for food?" she asked, draped in a dark headscarf and gown. "Morsi has not done anything for us."
Two years after Egypt began an awe-inspiring campaign of change, two major groups that spurred that movement, the Brotherhood and its opponents, in many ways cannot evolve past the movement that led to the fall of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
In the absence of a government that can provide goods and services and salvage a deteriorating economy, Morsi's supporters on Friday fell back on the strength of their social movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, to pacify their base. Since Morsi's election, it has become increasingly blurry how independent the Brotherhood is of the government; the organization members make no apologies that their mission is to help Morsi's base.
Morsi's supporters, repeating a Brotherhood talking point, said democracy is the ballot box, and Egyptians should respect the results and allow Morsi to govern.
"The uprising is over. Let's start working on the nation. We would be happy if all the parties started joining this," said Abdel Tawab Moussad, 43, a 22-year member of the Brotherhood and an engineer who helped pick up trash. "We are trying to show the government how to work."
The opposition, which once had so many on the street that it forced the Egyptian military to tell Mubarak to step aside, was back out Friday. Comprised of liberals, moderates, remnants of the Mubarak regime and the elite, they again came to remind people they could still cause headaches for the leadership, but so far, not much more than that. Even if they had solid ideas, they are too disjointed to manifest them.
The nation has undergone the motions of reform. There have been four governments and a new constitution ushered in through five elections. Egypt now has its first democratically elected president and a constitution that seeks broad protections to both Egyptians and the nation's environment. And yet, five months after Morsi's election, much of the government institutions, the ones that led to Mubarak's fall, remain the same. There have been no major police reforms, a call that initially spurred the protests of Jan. 25, 2011. There have been no economic or infrastructure reforms. This year alone, there have been at least six major building collapses or train collisions, killing hundreds.
Around the nation Friday, hundreds of thousands chanted in the streets, clashing with police as they called for Morsi to step down or to do more. In every home in Cairo were the sounds of protests, either within earshot or over television screens that projected chaotic scenes around the country. State television reported that six protesters had died in Suez. By 9:30 p.m., 265 had been injured, the Health Ministry said; by 11 p.m., that figure jumped to 369.
Protesters cut access to the capital's main bridges and subway stations, trapping commuters. Some threatened to overrun the government's media building, which historically has marked the end of a government. Government tanks lined the highways, and police again charged at protesters.
"Bread, freedom, social justice," the demonstrators yelled, the defining chant of the protests two years ago.
Inside homes in places like Faiyum there was a quiet furor over the ongoing protests, which many attribute to the weakened economy. Tourism, which was once tied to as many as a third of all jobs here, will not return without stability, they argue. The economy cannot recover without security.
Earlier this week, the Muslim Brotherhood announced a national initiative to provide goods and services that the government has not — three months before a parliamentary election it hopes to dominate. Just as it did before the presidential election and the constitutional referendum, members turned the party headquarters into a free clinic run by doctors who support the Brotherhood. The 84-year-old Brotherhood, Egypt's best organized and most powerful group, bought food and clothing and sold them at discounted prices. Members slaughtered sheep in front of residents so they could see they were getting fresh, discounted meat.
According to government statistics, unemployment in Egypt is at 12.4 percent — though the actual figure is likely far higher. The Egyptian pound has fallen by 12 percent since Mubarak left office, but the price of everyday goods has climbed far more than that. Tomatoes, the telltale measure of food prices here, cost roughly 30 percent more. In a nation where the average Egyptian puts 46 percent of his income toward food, such rises have made things like fruit and cooking gas a luxury.
In Faiyum, government and non-governmental organizations, known as NGOs, used to pick up the trash. Residents could buy cooking gas for 5 pounds without Brotherhood help instead of 20 pounds on the black market. During Mubarak, there was no such thing as gasoline lines because the government could afford to subsidize fuel.
Outside one clinic, where boxes of medicines were stacked inside, Ahmed Yassin, a pediatrician and longtime member of the Brotherhood, wrote prescriptions to those visiting him on a pad with the Muslim Brotherhood Freedom and Justice Party logo. Patients carried his prescriptions outside, where another member gave them the medicines they needed for free.
It is perhaps because of such efforts by the Brotherhood that Faiyum endorsed the Muslim Brotherhood-approved constitution by 89 percent during last month's referendum, a far bigger margin than the 60 percent national average. It also overwhelmingly voted for Morsi.
Ramadan was among them, but she vowed to stay home for April's parliamentary elections, despite all the services Morsi's party showered around her.
"We don't want anything anymore. Yes, they are picking up our trash, but we want to eat," she said as she reached to pay for her tomatoes. "I will not vote."

When you arm Islamists, you become a willing participant in your own undoing.
By Andrew C. McCarthy
When Mohamed Morsi dehumanizes Jews as “the descendants of apes and pigs,” there’s an elephant in the room. We find it here:
Those who incurred the curse of Allah and His wrath, those of whom some He transformed into apes and swine, those who worshipped evil — these are many times worse in rank, and far more astray from the even Path!
You see, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood mahoff–turned–president did not conjure up the apes-and-pigs riff on his own. When Morsi fulminates that Muslims “must not forget to nurse our children and grandchildren on hatred towards those Zionists and Jews, and all those who support them,” he is taking his cues straight from the Koran. Or rather, from the Holy Koran, as “progressive” American politicians take pains to call it in the off hours from their campaign to drive every last vestige of Judeo-Christian culture from the public square.

The excerpt above is not from the Life and Times of Mohamed Morsi. It originates with that other Mohammed. Specifically, it is Sura 5:60 of the Koran, the tome Muslims take to be the immutable, verbatim commands of Allah, as revealed to the prophet. And as Andrew Bostomillustrates (with a disquieting amplitude of examples), the verse is not an outlier. It states an Islamic leitmotif.

Contrary to the fairy tale weaved by apologists for Islamists on both sides of America’s political aisle, Jew hatred is not a pathogen insidiously injected into Islam by the Nazis (with whom Middle Eastern Muslims enthusiastically aligned). Nor did the ummah come by it through exposure to other strains of anti-Semitism that blight the history of Christendom. Jew hatred is ingrained in Islamic doctrine. Consequently, despite the efforts of enlightened Muslim reformers, Jew hatred is — and will remain — a pillar of Islamist ideology.
You may recall hearing this little ditty from the Hamas charter — often echoed by ministers of the Palestinian Authority and in the preachments of Brotherhood jurist Yusuf al-Qaradawi, on whose every word millions hang weekly on al-Jazeera (or is it al-Gore?):
The Day of Resurrection will not arrive until the Muslims make war against the Jews and kill them, and until a Jew hiding behind a rock and tree, and the rock and tree will say: “Oh Muslim, Oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him!”
Again, these are not sentiments dreamt up by “violent extremists” waging a modern, purely political “resistance” against oppressive “Zionists.” The prophet’s admonition that Muslims will be spared the hellfire by killing Jews is repeated in numerous authoritative hadiths (see, e.g., Sahih Muslim Book 41, No. 6985; Sahih Bukhari Volume 4, Book 56, No. 791).

Hadiths, it is worth emphasizing, are the recorded actions and instructions of Mohammed, who is taken by Muslims to be the “perfect example” they are to emulate. And in case you suppose, after years of listening to Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Barack Obama, that the prophet must ultimately have come around on the Jews, you might want to rethink that one. Another hadith, relating Mohammed’s dying words, recounts his final plea: “May Allah curse the Jews and the Christians.” (Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 8, No. 427.)
Now of course, none of this is to say that it is impossible for Islam to evolve beyond anti-Semitism. As individuals, millions of Muslims want no part of the ancient hatreds. As scholars and activists, a number of Muslim reformers admirably endeavor to erase this legacy by limiting it to its historical context, reducing it to allegory, or casting doubt on its provenance. Let’s hope these efforts eventually bear fruit. After all, as noted above, anti-Semitism stains the West’s legacy, too; and as discussed in this space before, the history of Christianity in America is a history of evolving beyond punishments and practices akin to those we today presume to look down our noses at as if we were total strangers to invidious discrimination and assaults on freedom of speech and conscience.

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