Thursday, January 29, 2015

Clash of Civilizations. Can Israel Survive? What's With Hezbollah? Beyond SOTUS!

The clash of civilizations analyzed in Stratfor.  (See 1 below.)
AH! Just as I have been predicting!  The cabal is surfacing and is alive and well!(See 2 and 2a below.)

More Obama hypocrisy is justification for Netanyahu speaking before Congress, to the American people and the world's. (See 2b below.)
What is going on with Hezbollah? (See 3 and 3a below.)
Post SOTUS, has the ball now moved away from Obama? (See 4 below.)
Former intelligence general blasts Obama! (See 5 below.)
Hanson poses a legitimate question - Can Israel Survive?  (See 6 below.)
How Dark Were The Dark Ages?

Go to: Prager University Dark Ages.Com and find out!

Very revealing!!!!
This was prepared before I left to go to Athens for a GMOA Board Meeting followed by our annual Fund raising Black Tie Bash. Excuse this memo's length but there is much on which to comment.

Lamar, the founder of UGA's Art Department, was a very dear friend and on his 80th birthday he attended the Elegant Salute Affair, which was in his honor, in a tuxedo wearing new tennis shoes!

Lamar was a foxy and beloved character and a fabulous artist and gifted administrator.  I was fortunate to have known him for over 30 plus years, to have had the pleasure of spending many hours visiting him in his Athens studio, to have had him as our guest in our Atlanta home and to have purchased from him some of his wonderful art which he would never let me frame because he insisted he do so.

Every time I go to Athens, Lamar's presence is there and it will be the same this weekend.

I have been very fortunate to have known many wonderful people who have enhanced my life, who have been my mentors and I will always remain grateful.

As for myself, I do not claim to be the equivalent of a Jewish Paul Revere, but I have a viewpoint which has been shaped by my life's experiences and observations and it causes me to think differently than most other mortals.  I am not always correct in my judgement or predictions but my level of concern and knowledge of history drive my thinking and I see serious war clouds on the ascendancy because the world seems not to have learned from the lessons of the past,and far too many believe appeasement works. (See 7 and 7a below - Phillipine's President urge his citizens to accept a terrorist enclave and Putin sets his eyes on  Mariupol..)
Henninger comments about Obama's "Peter Pan Economics." (See 8 below.)
In last week's memo I wrote about Dodd, "Fwank" and Greenspan's contributions to our previous housing bust and GW's ignored warnings.  Is there a repeat looming caused by much the same misguided thinking on the part of Obama and those on the Left who believe there is a free lunch and 'fairness entitlement' buried in our Constitution.  (See 9 below.)
1) Mind the Gap

The Charlie Hebdo attack and its aftermath in the streets and in the press tempt one to dust off Samuel Huntington's 1996 book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. Despite the criticisms he provoked with that book and his earlier 1993 article in Foreign Affairs, recent events would seem to be proving him prescient.

Or was he?

While I am not about to deny the importance of religion and culture as drivers of geopolitical dynamics, I will argue that, more important than the clashes among the great civilizations, there is a clash within each of the great civilizations. This is the clash between those who have "made it" (in a sense yet to be defined) and those who have been "left behind" — a phrase that is rich with ironic resonance.

Before I make my argument, I warn that the point I'm trying to make is fairly subtle. So, in the interest of clarity, let me lay out what I'm not saying before I make that point. I am not saying that Islam as a whole is somehow retrograde. I am not agreeing with author Sam Harris' October 2014 remark on "Real Time with Bill Maher" that "Islam is the mother lode of bad ideas." Nor am I saying that all religions are somehow equal, or that culture is unimportant. The essays in the book Culture Matters, which Huntington helped edit, argue that different cultures have different comparative advantages when it comes to economic competitiveness. These essays build on the foundation laid down by Max Weber's 1905 work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. It is only the "sulfuric odor of race," as Harvard historian David Landes writes on the first page of the first essay in Culture Matters, that has kept scholars from exploring the under-researched linkages between culture and economic performance.

Making It in the Modern World

The issue of the comparative advantages or disadvantages of different cultures is complicated and getting more so because with modernity and globalization, our lives are getting more complicated. We are all in each other's faces today in a way that was simply not the case in earlier centuries. Whether through travel or telecommunications or increasingly ubiquitous and inexpensive media, each and every one of us is more aware of the cultural other than in times past. This is obvious. What is not so obvious are the social and psychological consequences of the inevitable comparisons this awareness invites us to make: How are we measuring up, as individuals and as civilizations?

In the modern world, the development of the individual human, which is tied in part to culture, has become more and more important. If you think of a single human life as a kind of footrace — as if the developmental path from infancy to maturity were spanning a certain distance — then progress over the last several millennia has moved out the goal posts of maturity. It simply takes longer to learn the skills it takes to "make it" as an adult. Surely there were skills our Stone Age ancestors had to acquire that we moderns lack, but they did not have to file income taxes or shop for insurance. Postmodern thinkers have critiqued the idea of progress and perhaps we do need a concept that is forgivingly pluralistic. Still, there have been indisputable improvements in many basic measures of human progress. This is borne out by improved demographic statistics such as birth weight, height and longevity, as well as declining poverty and illiteracy. To put it very simply, we humans have come a long way.

But these historic achievements have come at a price. It is not simple for individuals to master this elaborate structure we call modern civilization with its buildings and institutions and culture and history and science and law. A child can't do it. Babies born into this world are biologically very similar to babies born 10,000 years ago; biological evolution is simply too slow and cannot equip us to manage this structure. And childhood has gotten ever longer. "Neoteny" is the technical term for the prolongation of the period during which an offspring remains dependent on its parent. In some species, such as fish or spiders, newborns can fend for themselves immediately. In other species — ducks, deer, dogs and cats — the young remain dependent on their mothers for a period of weeks. In humans, the period of dependency extends for years. And as the generations and centuries pass, especially recently, that period of dependency keeps getting longer.
As French historian Philippe Aries informed us in Centuries of Childhood, "in medieval society, the idea of childhood did not exist." Prior to modernity, young people were adults in miniature, trying to fit in wherever they could. But then childhood got invented. Child labor laws kept children out of the factories and truancy laws kept them in public schools. For a recent example of the statutory extension of childhood known as neoteny, consider U.S. President Barack Obama's announcement that he intends to make community college available for free to any high school graduate, thus extending studenthood by two years.

The care and feeding and training of your average human cub have become far greater than the single season that bear cubs require. And it seems to be getting ever longer as more 20-somethings and even 30-somethings find it cheaper to live with mom and dad, whether or not they are enrolled in school or college. The curriculum required to flourish as an adult seems to be getting ever longer, the goal posts of meaningful maturity ever further away from the "starting line," which has not moved. Our biology has not changed at anywhere near the rate of our history. And this growing gap between infancy and modern maturity is true for every civilization, not just Islamic civilization.

The picture gets complicated, though, because the vexed history of the relationships among the world's great civilizations leaves little doubt about different levels of development along any number of different scales of achievement. Christian democracies have outperformed the economies and cultures of the rest of the world. Is this an accident? Or is there something in the cultural software of the West that renders it better able to serve the needs of its people than does the cultural software called Islam?

Those Left Behind

Clearly there is a feeling among many in the Islamic world that they, as a civilization, have been "left behind" by history. Consider this passage from Snow, the novel by Nobel Prize-winning Turkish author Orhan Pamuk:
"We're poor and insignificant," said Fazul, with a strange fury in his voice. "Our wretched lives have no place in human history. One day all of us living now in Kars will be dead and gone. No one will remember us; no one will care what happened to us. We'll spend the rest of our days arguing about what sort of scarf women should wrap around their heads, and no one will care in the slightest because we're eaten up by our own petty, idiotic quarrels. When I see so many people around me leading such stupid lives and then vanishing without a trace, an anger runs through me…"
Earlier I mentioned the ironic resonance of this phrase, "left behind." I think of two other recent uses: first, the education reform legislation in the United States known as the No Child Left Behind Act; the second, the best-selling series of 13 novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins in which true believers are taken up by the Rapture while the sinners are "left behind." In both of these uses, it is clearly a bad thing to be left behind.

This growing divide between those who have made it and those who are being left behind is happening globally, in each of the great civilizations, not just Islam. To quote my fellow Stratfor columnist, Ian Morris, from just last week:
Culture is something we can change in response to circumstances rather than waiting, as other animals must, for our genes to evolve under the pressures of natural selection. As a result, though we are still basically the same animals that we were when we invented agriculture at the end of the ice age, our societies have evolved faster and faster and will continue to do so at an ever-increasing rate in the 21st century.
And because the fundamental dynamics of this divide are rooted in the mismatch between the pace of change of biological evolution on the one hand (very slow) and historical or technological change on the other (ever faster), it is hard to see how this gap can be closed. We don't want to stop progress, and yet the more progress we make, the further out the goal posts of modern maturity recede and the more significant culture becomes.

There is a link between the "left behind" phenomenon and the rise of the ultra-right in Europe. As the number of unemployed, disaffected, hopeless youth grows, so also does the appeal of extremist rhetoric — to both sides. On the Muslim side, more talk from the Islamic State about slaying the infidels. On the ultra-right, more talk about Islamic extremists. Like a crowded restaurant, the louder the voices get, the louder the voices get.

I use this expression, those who have "made it," because the gap in question is not simply between the rich and the poor. Accomplished intellectuals such as Pamuk feel it as well. The writer Pankaj Mishra, born in Uttar Pradesh, India, in 1969, is another rising star from the East who writes about the dilemma of Asian intellectuals, the Hobson's choice they face between recoiling into the embrace of their ancient cultures or adopting Western ways precisely to gain the strength to resist the West. This is their paradox: Either accept the Trojan horse of Western culture to master its "secrets" — technology, organization, bureaucracy and the power that accrues to a nation-state — or accept the role of underpaid extras in a movie, a very partial "universal" history, that stars the West. In my next column, I'll explore more of Mishra's insights from several of his books.


NGO Monitor's swift analysis of B'Tselem's publication alleging Israeli violations of international law resulted in major media impact.

Yesterday, January 28, B'Tselem published a simplistic and distorted report declaring Israel's guilt for strikes during the 2014 Gaza conflict, and excuse Hamas's moral and legal responsibility for civilian deaths in Gaza. B'Tselem's publication follows those of Amnesty International, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, and other NGOs, contributing to the campaign surrounding the UN Human Rights Council by William Schabas, as well as the Palestinian Authority efforts focused on the International Criminal Court.

NGO Monitor's detailed analysis was quoted widely in the media, showing that B'Tselem lacks clear evidence and lacks the necessary information for a serious investigation.

NGO Monitor Impact:

2a) Obama Squirms to Dodge the Truth

We don’t want war; but war has been declared on us.

That is the dilemma of the political elites, and their string of puppets in the media.

Obama is the dance-away politician. He has always danced away from the consequences of his actions. But this time he can’t. The French, by facing the truth of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, are actually more honest and courageous in facing reality. America is lagging.

The reality that everybody secretly knows is that the Iranians have been chanting “Death to Israel! Death to America!” every single day since 1979, when Jimmy Carter allowed Ayatollah Khomeini to take over Iran, to throw out our ally the Shah, and to grow into a war making aggressor against all its theological enemies, including the Saudis. Now Obama has allowed Iran to take over the Iraqi regime in Baghdad along with Yemen, and Syria, creating a strategic pincer that points to Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Iran’s theologian rulers are aiming for Mecca and Medina, the holy cities of Islam, which will give them control over the entire Muslim world. But they will have to fight the 80% majority Sunnis to get the holy cities.

This is what the Saudis are facing, and this is why the succession struggle for the head of state in Saudi Arabia has implications for the entire Arab and Muslim world, and therefore the rest of the world also. Iran is on the verge of nuclear weapons and Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs). Obama is pretending it aint’ so, so he can sign his totally phony “peace agreement” with the mullahs. But Israel’s Netanyahu won’t sign on to a treaty that will give the genocidal cult of Iran all the power in the world. That is why Obama hates Netanyahu, and wants to destroy him. Obama is therefore making exactly the same move made by the appeasers of Hitler and Stalin in Europe. He is gambling on a losing game of appeasement, but nobody, certainly not the Arabs, believes a word. They know who the totalitarian aggressor is, and they know he has to be defeated decisively. Meanwhile Obama, who is the most mentally rigid politician outside of Moscow, is publicly raging and ranting -- not at the mullahs, who are the plain and obvious aggressor, but at the scapegoat.

Jesus was a scapegoat for the fearful collaborators with the Romans in Israel at the beginning of the Common Era. The Jews were scapegoats for every tyrant since that time, except where Christians were the scapegoats for Romans, Vikings, Muslim invaders, and all the aggressive forces from that time to the Nazis and Communists. Scapegoats are needed when a politician needs to deny responsibility and blame the nearest victim who cannot escape. Scapegoating is the mark of mob politics.

In 1200 CE the first wave of Muslim invaders conquered India, and immediately started to wipe out all the Buddhist monasteries, which were vulnerable because the monks were pacifists who often did not defend themselves. Buddhism, a pacifist creed, was soon destroyed in its land of origin, and it has never come back in full flower. It is now practiced in China, Japan, and South East India. But not in most of India, where Vedanta philosophy flowered instead. Multiple Muslim invasions killed off Buddhism, because Vedanta, as a family and community creed, was able to withstand the multiple massacres imposed by wave after wave of Muslim jihadists. The last Indian-Muslim war was the Partition of India in 1948, which killed three million people, and led to the split between Muslim Pakistan and majority-Hindu India. Since then Pakistan keeps up a terrorist war against India, but it has not been able to mount a full-scale Muslim invasion of India. India has a thousand years of resistance against wave after wave of jihad invasion, and every citizen of India knows in his or her bones that peace is good, but survival is better, if you must choose. Hinduism is not as aggressive as jihadist Islam. Neither is Buddhism. But over the centuries they have learned to defend themselves.

But not the West. Our superficial and self-deluded political elites pretend that jihadi Islam is peaceful, just like early Buddhists did before all the monasteries were destroyed. Muslim forces have bought up our political and media class, which is why they keep lying to us about a clear and present danger.

So Obama is blaming the victim, along with his Eurosocialist buddies in Europe. If only Israel would surrender to the phony “Palestinians” everything will be okay. For Hitler it was Czechoslovakia that had to be his to prevent war, and once he swallowed the Sudetenland he would never, ever, be nasty again. Then it was Poland. Then it was all of Europe, and ultimately it would have been America, because the Nazis had a world-conquering ideology. So did Stalin.

At some point the lies became clear to every sentient person in the West, and reluctantly, very slowly and reluctantly, Western politicians and media types began to see how trapped they were. It was surrender or fight. No other choice.

Today, after the Charlie Hebdo massacre showed the French and other Europeans that this was a stand-or-die moment, the French people poured into the streets to show how well they got it. Forty political leaders jumped on the bandwagon, because their jobs were on the line. But Obama remained aloof, thinking that he could still dance away from the choice. Obama has long proclaimed delusional lies as the truth, and maybe he really believes he can still get away with it. But Canada, Australia, and Britain don’t think so. The French don’t think so. Most normal Europeans don’t think so. And Obama will be out of power soon.

This is the Phony War, the time of indecision and of desperate efforts to fake a solution to a dwindling chance of true peace. The only people who are bound and determined to have their way are the Jihadists, the Iranian mullahs on the Shi’ite side, and the ISIS fanatics on the Sunni side. Everybody else is trying to dodge the problem, hoping against hope. Obama may not believe he can walk on the water and create a peace agreement between all the players: Not just Israel and the Pals (a totally phony scapegoating conflict), but between Iran and Sunni tribes in Iraq and Syria, who support ISIS, between the Saudis who are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, backed by Egypt and Pakistan. The jihadist aggressors are gambling that audacity and mass murder will win. Overall, Obama has been backing them whenever possible, including Al Qaeda in Libya, the Taliban in Afghanistan, and (through Turkey) even ISIS. Obama keeps thinking he can clever his way out of this trap, but he’s dealing with Persian and Arab rug sellers who have seen this game for a thousand years. They can tell a coward when they see him.

In the upshot, Obama does not want the china shop to fall apart before he leaves office. Like Bill Clinton, he cares less about the fate of the country and the world than he does about himself. Clinton dodged four chances to get Bin Laden, and when he left office the Twin Towers were bombed, right at the start of the Bush Administration. So George W. was stuck with the problem, and Clinton danced away from of blame (at least as far as his own media buds were concerned). That is Obama’s goal, too. He wants to be able to blame the next president for the messes he made, and which he allowed to go out of control, during his eight years. Obama is therefore trying to pin the blame on Netanyahu, who wants to save his country from nuclear genocide. This is a disgusting, cynical, mean-spirited game.

In the last few days Obama left his own trip to India, skipping the Taj Mahal, to fly to Riyadh and lobby the new leadership -- the new king is believed to suffer from dementia, and he had to talk to younger politicians, including probably Bandar El Sultan, who is jockeying for power along with the rest. The Saudis’ top pols were complicit in the Al Qaeda attack on this country in 9/11/01, and excused themselves to the Americans by saying their shaky failed state would not survive if the real fanatics, the Wahhabi theocrats, took over. We had a choice between supporting the Saudi villains to keep even worse characters from taking over. Both Bush and Obama went along, because OPEC controlled the international price of oil and could destroy our economy. It was a bargain with the 

When 90-year-old King Abdullah died Obama went on an emergency trip to Saudi, to figure out how he could keep Saudi Arabia’s Rube Goldberg contraption going long enough to finish his term in office. More than anything else Obama wants that Jimmy Carter photo op with the Israelis on one side, the Pals on the other, and the New York Times piously proclaiming Peace in our Time. The Obama goes home and allows the whole fake tower of cards to crumble, no matter who gets hurt. He has saved his reputation, at least among his True Believers (who will believe anything he says). Now he can blame whoever comes next. The Democrats and their fake media will scream and yell long enough until everybody believes the next president is a warmongering Republican. That’s how Clinton got away with it, and that’s how Obama wants to do it.

I don’t think the Saudis believed a word of it. Nobody in the know believes Obama any more. The Saudis are furious at him for allowing their worst enemies, the infidel Shi’ites of Iran, to build nukes and missiles. They live right in Iran’s bull’s eye. They are getting ready for the worst by bringing in Egyptian and Pakistani troops to man their borders (they don’t have a big enough population or military themselves), and to keep the option of buying off-the-shelf nukes from Pakistan. They just built a 600-mile military barrier to keep ISIS out. They are outraged at Obama for empowering their most deadly enemies, and some, like Prince Bandar, have already built mansions in the West. (Bandar’s exile mansion overlooks Aspen, CO).

Obama wanted America to withdraw from the world, and our political elites went along. Conservatives have understood very well that China, Russia, Iran, and other aggressors would instantly fill the vacuums created by American retreat. That is exactly what happened. Everywhere in the world, our closest allies are in big, big trouble, and they are rearming as quickly as they can.

In the Muslim world the thousand-year-old split between Sunnis and Shi’ites is devolving into war. In Iraq, the Baghdad regime is controlled by Iran, the new Persian caliphate. In Turkey, Sunni radicals led by Recip Erdogan are trying to re-create the Ottoman Empire -- including the old uniforms with the pointy helmets. In Lebanon Iran’s proxy terror group Hizb’allah is in control, and sending troops to support Syria’s Assad, who is a sort of Shi’ite. Egypt has managed to throw out Obama’s favorite Muslim Brotherhood puppet, and El Sisi sounds like the sanest voice in the Muslim Middle East. But he, too, is fighting a revolt by radical Islamofascists.

What a mess. Six years ago there was still a precarious balance in the Middle East, based in good part on Egypt, the “pillar of peace.” Today, Egypt’s Mubarak has been purged, but another military man, El Sisi has taken over. So the pillar survives, so far.

As for the rest, almost every single Muslim regime in the ME is gone or in trouble. Iran’s proxy just overthrew our guy in Yemen. Libya is at war, entirely due to Obama’s brainstorm of overthrowing Gadaffi and using his 
armaments to support the rebels in Syria.

This is how community agitators work. They don’t “organize” communities. They agitate to disorganize them, so they can pick up the pieces when things fall apart. Most of the world understands Obama by now, and they are afraid. But Americans can’t believe that our own president would be so utterly destructive. Ordinary Democrats think the chaos in the Middle East is just bad luck. But it’s not. It’s all part of Obama’s Grand Design, a narcissistic overreach so bizarre and improbable that it was bound to fail.

This is how Marxists always end up: grand ambitions ending in an enormous mess.
(Venezuela today is finally understanding that, and even the Washington Post has belatedly told them to give up on a centralized command economy).

The next president will have a lot of apologizing to do -- for Obama, not for the United States. But more important, the next administration will try to save what can be saved from the six decades of Pax Americana, when our allies could trust our word. Obama has killed off the most important single ingredient in any defensive alliance, real trust that the alliance would hold under pressure.

Nobody trusts us anymore, and there is no reason they should. We were the lynchpin of world security for six decades, but once trust it lost, it may never be restored.

Isn’t it great to have our first black president? Now the Democrats will try to repeat that trick, and foist on us a president merely because she is female. Or merely because s/he is LGBT. Or merely because… et. bs cetera.
With Obama our voters got suckered but good. The same thing happened with Bill Clinton and the Arkansas twins. Jimmy Carter, in retrospect, sold out to Muslim influence peddlers way back in 1979, when the Ayatollah took over our U.S. embassy and all its diplomats, and Jimmy did next to nothing. That was the first proof to the Muslim world that the United States was the weak horse, and they have been trading on that ever since. Even today, Carter and his foreign policy gurus still claim they were right to let the radical Islamists take over in Iran. That is why the mullahs show such utter contempt for this administration. Obama is a round-heeled pushover, like Jimmy Carter, and they are beating us hollow.

Today immense amounts of money from Muslim sources are going to Democrats, and probably some Republicans as well. On the R side, we have to demand a clear accounting of who is paying for what. The Democrats are a lost cause.

2b)  Do they talk this way about Iranian President Hassan Rouhani?
 By Marc A. Thiessen

After learning that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had accepted an invitation to address a joint session of Congress about the need for new sanctions to stop Iran’s nuclear program, the Obama administration went . . . well, nuclear.

One “senior American official” threatened Netanyahu, telling the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that “Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency, and that there will be a price.” Meanwhile a “source close to [Secretary of State John] Kerry” told The Post that the “secretary’s patience is not infinite” and that “playing politics with that relationship could blunt Secretary Kerry’s enthusiasm for being Israel’s primary defender.”

Oh, please. No wonder Netanyahu is going around these people to Congress for support. Is Kerry defending Israel as a favor to Netanyahu, or because it is in the United States’ vital interests to stand with our closest ally in the Middle East? Just the threat of withdrawing that support validates Netanyahu’s suspicion that the Obama administration does not have Israel’s back in its negotiations with Iran.

Using anonymous officials to attack Netanyahu is nothing new. Unnamed officials have called him “chickens---,” “recalcitrant,” “myopic,” “reactionary,” “obtuse,” “blustering,” “pompous,” and “Aspergery” — all to one journalist(Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, who keeps a running list).

Obama won’t meet Netanyahu in March visit.

President Obama will not meet with Benjamin Netanyahu when the Israeli prime minister visits the U.S. in March as the invited guest of Republican congressional leaders.

The Obama team’s outrage is a bit overwrought. Clearly, it is not a breach of protocol for a foreign leader to lobby Congress. After all, Obama himself deployed British Prime Minister David Cameron to lobby lawmakers to oppose new sanctions on Iran. It seems Netanyahu’s crime is not so much a breach of diplomatic protocol, but rather, opposing the administration’s position.

The fact that Netanyahu felt compelled to speak directly to Congress in order to oppose the administration’s position speaks poorly, not of Netanyahu, but of Obama. If the leader of one of our closest allies is so worried about the deal Obama is going to cut with Iran that he is willing to risk a diplomatic rift with the administration to speak out, perhaps the problem is not with Israel, but with the Obama administration. And it is not just Israel that opposes Obama’s deal with Iran; Arab leaders have made clear that they share Israel’s view.

No doubt politics plays a role in Netanyahu’s decision to address Congress. His speech will come just two weeks before the Israeli elections. But is it wrong for a politician to use the foreign stage of an ally to buttress his electoral case back home? If it is, then Barack Obama — who gave a campaign speech in Berlin before 200,000 adoring Germans who could not vote for him — is the wrong man to level that criticism.

Obama claims that new sanctions on Iran “will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails.” If the mere threat of sanctions is enough to derail Iran’s nuclear talks, then whatever deal is in the works is not worth having. It means that Obama is far more desperate for a deal than Tehran is — which is a sure-fire way to guarantee a bad agreement.

Obama wants a nuclear deal with Iran because it would be a major feather in his political cap at a time when his foreign policy is imploding across the world, from Yemen to Syria to Iraq. For Israel, Iran’s nuclear program is not a political challenge; it is an existential one.

Obama can afford a bad deal because, as that anonymous official put it, he has a year and a half left to his presidency. The people of Israel, on the other hand, will have to live with the consequences long after Obama is gone.

Netanyahu understands this — which is why it is good that he is coming to Washington, and why House Republicans deserve credit for inviting him.

Following Killing Of Hizbullah Operative Jihad Mughniyah, New Information Comes To Light Regarding Hizbullah, Iranian Activity In Syrian Golan On Israeli Border
By: E. B. Picali*
The death of six Hizbullah operatives in a January 18, 2015 airstrike in the Syrian Golan, including two senior organization members – Muhammad Ahmad 'Issa, known as Abu 'Issa, and Jihad Mughniyah, the son of 'Imad Mughniyah, Hizbullah's chief operations officer who was killed in 2008 – placed the issue of Hizbullah's military presence in the Syrian Golan, its character, and its purpose, back in the spotlight. Also killed in the airstrike were operatives from the Qods Force in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), among them Gen. Mohammed 'Ali Allahdadi.[1]
Hizbullah and IRGC forces are known to have been assisting the Syrian regime in fighting the rebels since an early stage of the Syrian uprising. Initially this help was extended in secret, but gradually it became open, despite criticism and objections from various elements in Lebanon. Hizbullah and its patron Iran consider their presence in Syria crucial, not only in order to assist the Syrian regime but also in order to defend the resistance axis at large. Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah emphasized on several occasions that the war against Bashar Al-Assad is not a popular uprising against his regime but rather a war declared by the Islamists, the West, and Israel against the resistance axis, which is fighting for its life. In a May 25, 2013 speech, he said: "...Syria is no longer an arena for a popular rebellion against a political regime, but rather an arena for imposing a political plan led by the U.S., the West, and their lackeys in the region... Syria is the backbone and mainstay of the resistance, and the resistance cannot stand by with its hands tied when its backbone is exposed and its mainstay is broken."[2] He said further: "Any strike on Syrian soil is a strike against the entire resistance axis... and the entire resistance axis has the right to respond, not just Syria."[3]
Reports in the Arab media – especially the media affiliated with opponents of Hizbullah and the resistance axis – provide numerous details on Hizbullah's presence in Syria and in particular its military activity in the Syrian Golan. For example, reports have it that Hizbullah dispatched its Druze Lebanese operative Samir Al-Quntar to Druze villages in the Mount Hermon area in Syria to form a pro-Assad militia there.[4] A former pro-Syrian Lebanese minister, the Druze Wiam Wahhab, said that the six Hizbullah operatives killed in Quneitra had "helped the Druze in Syria, [and] had trained people to defend themselves and armed them. They did a lot to defend the Druze, along with the brothers from the IRGC."[5]
Some reports revealed that Hizbullah's activity in the Golan was not aimed exclusively at assisting Assad against the rebels, but also to consolidate the organization's presence there in preparation for opening up a new front against Israel. In this context, Syrian opposition elements reported in October 2014 that Jihad Mughniyah had been appointed as Hizbullah's commander of operations against Israel in the Golan.
However, despite Syrian, Iranian, and Hizbullah threats regarding the opening of a front in the Golan,[6] Nasrallah has recently been trying to downplay the importance of Hizbullah's presence there. In a January 15, 2015 interview with the Al-Mayadeen channel, he said that Hizbullah had no military presence in the Golan but was only assisting the Syrian resistance: "What is happening in the Golan is Syrian resistance. Hizbullah has no military force carrying out resistance operations there... We may be helping, assisting or training some of the [Syrian] resistance groups, or providing some of their needs."[7] However, Lebanese media close to Hizbullah, as well as Syrian opposition elements, have revealed much information to the contrary.  This information includes further details on Hizbullah's activity and preparations in the Golan and the establishment of a force that would act against Israel from this region and from the Syrian Mount Hermon area. It was also reported that IRGC officers were present in bases on the Israeli border. These reports shed light on the scope of the involvement of Iran and the IRGC, and of organizations they sponsor, such as Hizbullah, in Syria and especially in the Golan.[8]      
This article reviews the numerous details that have recently come to light regarding the activity of Hizbullah and the IRGC in the Syrian Golan.
'Al-Akhbar' Journalists: Hizbullah Establishing Syrian Force In Golan For Attacks On Israel; Resistance Frontline Stretches From Mediterranean To Syrian Golan

Firas Al-Shoufi, a columnist for the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, which is close to Hizbullah, referred to the organization's activity in the Golan in an article he published on January 19, 2015, one day after the airstrike in which the Hizbullah operatives and Iranian general were killed. According to him, Hizbullah and the Syrian regime are working in concert to establish a military force to carry out resistance operations against Israel. He wrote: "It is no secret that, over the past year, the resistance [Hizbullah] and Syrian security apparatuses have been trying to establish [in the Syrian Golan] a well-trained and well-equipped force comprised of Golan  villagers, in order to defend villages close to the border with the occupied Golan and occupied Palestine against terrorist attacks; as well as another force for carrying out resistance operations from the Golan and Mount Hermon against the Israeli enemy only. Incidentally, [these operations] are not restricted to the Syrian side of Mount Hermon, since reports coming from the Lebanese side of the mountain indicate that [the towns of] Hasbaya and Shab'a [in the Lebanese Golan] will also be part of any future campaign with Israel,[9] as will the villages in the central and western [parts] of South Lebanon [that border the Galilee]." Al-Shoufi cited security sources in Quneitra as saying that "eliminating a number of field commanders on the ground will not weaken the activity in the Golan. On the contrary, the blood of the martyrs will only strengthen the resolve of the resistance fighters... Israel can no longer separate the fronts stretching from Ras Nakura [Rosh HaNikra, the westernmost point on the Israel-Lebanon border]  to the Golan and Al-Suwayda [in southwestern Syria]."[10]
A January 19 article in the Lebanese daily Al-Safir likewise stated that the airstrike had contributed to the formation of "Israel's [new] northern border, [stretching] from Ras Nakura south [of Lebanon] to Quneitra in the Golan... which means widening the geographical margins of the resistance activity."[11]
Two days later, Al-Shoufi published another article, in which he wrote that at least six months before Hizbullah had announced its intention to establish a resistance force in the Golan, Assad had given it permission to "start organizing a ground force comprised of residents of the [Syrian] Golan that would carry out attacks against the [Israeli] occupation forces."[12]
Another Al-Akhbar columnist, Wafiq Qansawa, also wrote on the day following the attack that this operation had provided the resistance with "the justification to continue working with the Syrians to create a supportive and active Syrian environment that would [facilitate] the establishment of a resistance movement in the Golan – [work] which had already been underway and even at advanced stages [at the time of the attack]. The attack will catalyze steps in this direction and even increase them twofold."[13]
Jordanian Al-Akhbar columnist Nahed Hattar claimed that the first step towards reestablishing what he called "natural Syria" (i.e. greater Syria or Al-Sham) was "unifying the resistance in South Lebanon and the Golan, [a step] which is [now] being taken in practice."[14]
Jihad Mughniyah – Hizbullah's Commander Of Operations In Golan

As noted, one of the senior Hizbullah operatives who were killed in the January 18, 2015 airstrike was Jihad Mughniyah, in his early twenties, the son of ‘Imad Mughniyah, Hizbullah's chief operations officer who was killed in 2008 in central Damascus. Jihad was reportedly close to the Hizbullah leadership and the IRGC. In October 2014, it was reported that he had been appointed Hizbullah's commander of operations in the Syrian Golan. Moayyed Ghazlan, a member of the general secretariat of the oppositionist Syrian National Council, told CNN Arabic on October 12, 2014 that Mughniyah had been placed in charge of the Golan dossier, and that he had begun mobilizing elements from Hizbullah, as well as local elements in the Golan, in order to strengthen Hizbullah's presence in Syria. Ghazlan also stated that Mughniyah had been appointed to this role thanks to his close ties with Nasrallah, with Mustafa Badr Al-Din, who is considered to be Hizbullah's current chief operations officer, and with the IRGC, and that his appointment "indicates that Hizbullah is planning a security and strategic escalation in Syria in the coming period."[15] 
In a eulogy published in Al-Akhbar two days after the attack, Hadi Ahmad wrote: "There are widespread rumors regarding your role, including that you were  appointed commander of operations in the occupied Golan [meaning in Israeli territory]."[16]
According to a January 19, 2015 report in Al-Arabiya, Mughniyah attended the American University in Lebanon and became active in Hizbullah in 2008, following his father's death. The report claimed further that he had undergone military training in Lebanon and Iran, and was a protégé of Nasrallah and of IRGC Qods Force commander Qasem Soleimani.  Unlike other reports, this one claimed that Abu 'Issa, the other Hizbullah operative killed in the attack, was the organization's commander of operations in the Golan, rather than Mughniyah himself, and that Mughniyah was the commander of a Hizbullah company in the Quneitra area, under Abu 'Issa.[17]
A report published in Al-Akhbar on January 18, one day after Jihad Mughniyah's death, possibly provides some indication regarding his plans in the Golan. According to the report, during a party held by Mughniyah's extended family one week before he was killed, young family members were asked to mention some of their plans for the new year. According to the daily, Mughniyah himself refused to speak and merely said: "I will announce my plans to you next week."[18]
Jihad Mughniyah with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei (image:, January 20, 2015)

Left: Jihad Mughniyah with Hassan Nasrallah; right: Jihad Mughniyah with his father, ‘Imad Mughniyah (images:, October 13, 2014)
Jihad Mughniyah with IRGC Qods Force commander Qasem Soleimani (image:, October 13, 2014)
Syrian Opposition Sources: Capture Of Tel Al-Harrah Exposed Hizbullah's Deep Involvement In Golan

Extensive information on Hizbullah's presence in the Golan and on the nature of its activity there was revealed in early October 2014 by the Syrian opposition, after various Syrian rebel groups, including the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Jabhat Al-Nusra fighters, captured Tel Al-Harrah, a strategic hill in the Quneitra area.[19] The strategic importance of Tel Al-Harrah lies not only in the fact that it overlooks a wide area of the Syrian Golan, stretching as far as Rif Dimashq. It is also the location of a large intelligence base of the Syrian army, which reportedly served the Russian army as well. In a video posted on the Internet, FSA officers reported on what they had found in the base after they captured it. The findings indicate that it was a joint Syrian-Russian intelligence and espionage post for collecting information on Israel.[20] Other videos of the base after its capture, released by the FSA and Jabhat Al-Nusra, also show Hizbullah flags and the bodies of Hizbullah soldiers, indicating that operatives from this organization were likewise present there in recent months.[21] 
In addition, according to Syrian opposition elements, the FSA captured many Hizbullah intelligence documents that shed light on the organization's activity and plans in the Golan. Moayyed Ghazlan told CNN Arabic: "In capturing the strategic Tel Al-Harrah, we exposed Hizbullah's massive involvement in the Golan. We discovered [evidence] that Hizbullah has many posts there [in the Golan], as well as evidence tying it to plots concerning the Golan... The evidence uncovered in Tel Al-Harrah... proves that Hizbullah has long-term plans for this area."[22] Firas Al-Shoufi claimed that materials seized at the base were transferred to Israel in broad daylight via the Quneitra crossing.[23]
Syrian Opposition Sources: Hizbullah, IRGC, Russian Experts, Stationed In Several Bases In Syrian Golan, Are Independently Directing Campaign Against Rebels

Reports in the Arab media also mentioned the IRGC's presence in the Syrian Golan. The London-based daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat cited Syrian opposition elements as saying that both Hizbullah and IRGC soldiers have been present in the Golan for some time. According to these sources, "Hizbullah's fighters and experts have been in Quneitra since May 2013, when Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah first announced that his organization would 'stand by the popular Syrian resistance and provide it with aid, coordination, training and cooperation in order to liberate the Syrian Golan.'" The sources also claimed that Hizbullah "has effectively been directing the military campaign in the Quneitra region since March [2014], assisted by Iranian officers.”[24]
Another report, by Syrian opposition official and director of the Syria Press Agency Maher Al-Hamdan, was published in the Lebanese daily Al-Nahar. According to him, the Syrian opposition forces that captured the base in Tel Al-Harrah seized advanced Russian-made systems that were found there. He claimed further that, since the capture of Tel Al-Harrah, the Syrian regime has reinforced other bases in the Golan, with the assistance of Hizbullah and IRGC forces. According to Al-Hamdan, Jihad Mughniyah was in charge of the Quneitra city center area, and according to some reports IRGC Qods Force commander Qasem Soleimani also stayed there a short while.
According to Al-Hamdan, the airstrike in which the Hizbullah and IRGC operatives were killed took place in the town Mazari' Al-Amal in the rural area north of Quneitra, and also targeted a military patrol base. Also in the region is a regime infantry base that houses Russian drone monitoring systems. Russian experts, as well as a Hizbullah-IRGC military contingent that provides security for these experts, are also stationed in the area. Al-Hamdan added that several dozen Hizbullah and IRGC operatives were killed in the airstrike and one Russian expert was lightly wounded.
Al-Hamdan provided a detailed list of the most important Hizbullah and IRGC bases in the Quneitra area, as follows:
"Tel Al-Sha'er regional [base] in the rural area north of Quneitra, or more precisely in the town of Ayouba. This is the main military stronghold remaining to the Assad forces in Quneitra. It serves Russian and Iranian experts, as well as Hizbullah soldiers, as the main base for directing the battles in [this region], and also houses advanced Russian-made espionage systems.
"Division 90 base, located in the northern Al-Koum area in the rural area north of Quneitra, is considered a major planning base for IRGC, Hizbullah and regime commanders, and for Russian military experts.
"Vanguard and infantry bases, both located near Mazari' Al-Amal, considered to be spy bases managed by military experts. They house Hizbullah and IRGC military units; Tel Al-Ahmar serves as their [main] base.
"Tel Al-Ahmar, located in the town 'Ain Al-Nouriyya east of Mazari' Al-Amal. This is the second strongest military stronghold in Quneitra [after Tel Al-Sha'er]. It houses advanced Russian-made systems and is a stronghold for Hizbullah units and IRGC and Russian experts, and is tasked with managing the battles in the rural area north of Quneitra. It is adjacent to Tel Al-Sha'er and the Division 90 [base].
"Patrol unit camp, located in the town of Al-Shuhada (Al-Ba'th), houses Hizbullah and Iranian IRGC units that do not exceed 75 troops [altogether], including high-ranking military commanders who oversee the battles against the rebels in the area of the [Quneitra] border crossing. They are responsible for defending the [Quneitra] city center so it does not fall into rebel hands."[25]
Article In Syrian Government Daily 'Teshreen': Hizbullah's Presence In Golan A Strategic Necessity

In an article published January 20, 2015, two days after the Golan airstrike, Salim Harba, a columnist for the Syrian government daily Teshreen, admitted that Hizbullah was present in Quneitra. He described its presence in the Golan as a strategic necessity, due to the need to protect Lebanon and Hizbullah against Syrian terrorists aided by Israel. He wrote: "It is no secret that Hizbullah is in Syria. The lord of resistance, Hassan Nasrallah, already said [in the past] that 'Hizbullah will be where it needs to be,' and it has indeed been [present] in Quneitra.
"If Hizbullah's presence in Syria is a strategic necessity, stemming from the need to defend Lebanon and the resistance against terror – following the principle that 'prevention is better than cure' and as part of the strategy of defense outside the fortified walls – then its presence in Quneitra is no less strategic and necessary than its presence in Al-Qusayr and Al-Qalamoun [in western Syria]."
Harba claimed that the Syrian terror organizations, headed by Jabhat Al-Nusra and with Israeli guidance and support, attempted to reach South Lebanon in order to fight Hizbullah. This, in order to "create a bridge between the terrorist organizations in Mount Hermon and those in Al-Qalamoun [to the north], so that the Zionist entity and its terrorist gangs would form a terrorist wedge dividing the resistance from the Syrian army and blocking the supply routes and the passages between Syria and Lebanon. Therefore, Hizbullah's presence in the rural area around Quneitra… was a strategic necessity as preventive defense for [Hizbullah] and for its surroundings..."[26]
Bashar Al-Assad In 2013: "The Golan Will Become A Resistance Front"

Nasrallah and Assad threatened in the past that the resistance front would expand from South Lebanon to the Syrian Golan. In May 2013, following airstrikes on Syrian soil that were attributed to Israel, targeting Iranian missiles intended for Hizbullah, Assad declared that the Syrian Golan would "become a resistance front".[27] Nasrallah threatened: "We in the Lebanese resistance announce that we will stand by the Syrian popular resistance and provide it with material and moral support, as well as coordination and cooperation, in order to liberate the Syrian Golan."[28]
In May 2013, Ibrahim Al-Amin, board chairman of Al-Akhbar, also referred to the resistance front expanding from Lebanon to Syria and even broached the idea of eliminating the border between the two states to create a single front with Israel. He wrote: "All must conduct themselves on the basis of an effective expansion of the northern front [from Lebanon towards Syria]. In the near future we may see continued calm on the Lebanese border [with Israel], while the hottest front will be on Palestine's border with Syria [in the Golan]... Simply put, we will witness a new level of unity between the Lebanese resistance and Syria... This means that the possibility of a total conflict [in the region], which will leave no borders between Lebanon and Syria, is very real."[29]
In a May 18, 2013 article, Al-Amin wrote in Al-Akhbar: "The front of active resistance against the enemy has expanded [to include the Golan]. Those who like to document [facts] must familiarize themselves in detail with the geography of the occupied Golan and grow accustomed to the names of the towns, sites, and centers of commerce, industry, and tourism [there], and prepare [to learn] different facts."[30] The same day Al-Akhbarpublished a map of the Golan marking various sites including the town of Katzrin, the Ski resort on Mount Hermon and an IDF listening post.
(Al-Akhbar, Lebanon, May 18, 2014)

The suggestion to unite the resistance front recurred in a recent Al-Akhbar article by Jordanian columnist Nahed Hattar, who wrote on January 23, 2015: "The Golan is neither South Lebanon nor Gaza, [but] a pan-Arab arena common to Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan and Iraq. From this day onward there is no place for partial resistance and partial national programs. There will be no victory no future without a unified resistance, a unified leadership and a unified purpose: an independent unified East without Israel, without reactionism and without sectarian and ethnic distinctions...”[31]

* E. B. Picali is a research fellow at MEMRI.


[1] Tabnak (Iran), January 18, 2015. Some reports had it that six IRGC operatives were killed in the strike, but Iran confirmed only the death of Allahdadi.
[2] See MEMRI reports: Inquiry& Analysis No. 916, "Struggle Between Forces Within Lebanon Is Reflected In Their Involvement In Syria," January 3, 2013; Inquiry & Analysis No. 980, "Lebanon Openly Enters Fighting In Syria," June 13, 2013.
[3] Al-Safir (Lebanon), January 15, 2015.
[4] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), November 8, 2014.
[5] LDC television channel (Lebanon), January 22, 2015.
[6] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5307, "Assad And His Allies Threaten To Open A Front In Golan Heights," May 21, 2013.
[7] Al-Safir (Lebanon), January 15, 2015.
[8] Reports in the Arab media indicate that Iran has established a "Syrian Hizbullah" comprising Syrian troops that receive orders directly from Iran and are loyal to Iran, similar to the Lebanese Hizbullah. A MEMRI report on this topic is forthcoming.
[9] In October 2014,  Al-Akhbar reported that Hizbullah had returned to operate openly in this area, in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5857, Daily Close To Hizbullah: In Violation Of UNSCR 1701, Hizbullah Has Resumed Operations South Of The Litani River, October 13, 2014.
[10] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), January 19, 2015.
[11] Al-Safir (Lebanon), January 19, 2015.
[12] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), January 21, 2015.
[13] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), January 21, 2015.
[14] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), January 21, 2015.
[15], October 12, 2014.
[16] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), January 20, 2015.
[17], January 19, 2015.
[18] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), January 19, 2015.
[19] Al-Sharq (Saudi Arabia), October 6, 2014.
[22], October 12, 2014.
[23] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), January 19, 2015.
[24] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), January 20, 2015.
[25] Al-Nahar (Lebanon), January 19, 2015.
[26] Teshreen (Syria), January 20, 2015.
[27] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London),, May 7, 2013.
[28] Al-Safir (Lebanon), May 10, 2013. See also MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5307, "Assad And His Allies Threaten To Open A Front In Golan Heights," May 21, 2013.
[29] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), May 27, 2013. See also MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 980, "Lebanon Openly Enters Fighting In Syria," June 13, 2013.
[30] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5307, "Assad And His Allies Threaten To Open A Front In Golan Heights," May 21, 2013.
[31] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), January 23, 2015.


The prevailing political narrative of the last few weeks has been all about how President Obama has seized the initiative back from the Republican victors in November’s midterms. But the president’s winning streak—at least as far as prevailing in the daily struggle to dominate the news cycle—may be over. Though most accounts of the State of the Union followed the White House talking points that claimed his proposals would help the middle class, the fact that one of them would have taken away a key college savings plan that helped ordinary taxpayers did not escape the attention of the public or his Republican foes. As a result of the anger the idea generated, the president waved the white flag on the idea today andwithdrew his proposal to eliminate 529 college savings accounts. Though much of the rest of his Robin Hood budget that is long on left-wing populist rhetoric and short on economic sense won’t be passed either, this particular defeat demonstrated just how disingenuous the president’s pose as defender of the middle class truly was.
s Seth Mandel noted last week, the elimination of the 529 accounts had little to do with helping middle-class taxpayers or promoting education. The point of the plan was to expand the power of government and its loan racket that exploits the students it purports to help.

Obama’s apologists at the New York Times tried to spin this attack on those trying to save for college as somehow a break for them since the administration claimed that other proposals would offset this loss. But what taxpayers know is that such deals always backfire. New breaks may or may not have worked out as the president claimed. But the elimination of the 529 accounts would have been permanent. In the game of tax breaks, citizens are always playing against the house in a government casino where the house always wins.

So it was little surprise that Republicans planned to resist the plan with Speaker John Boehner demanding that the president withdraw his proposal before the House even considered the rest of the budget. But what happened in the last week is that even Democrats understood that what Obama was trying to shove down the nation’s throat was a knife in the back to those trying to save for their children’s college education. In the end, the White House had no choice but to give up.

Obama’s executive orders on immigration and boasts about recent good economic news helped fuel an aggressive approach that has given the press the impression that the president can avoid being a lame duck in the last two years of his second term. But no amount of spin or high-handed extra-constitutional actions can enable the president to impose all of his agenda on the nation. Nor can the near unanimous applause of the media allow him to sell a measure that strips taxpayers of one of their few defenses against the ravages of the Internal Revenue Service as a gift to them.

This was more than what even the Times termed a “flubbed launch.” It was a crucial moment that exposed the presidential Merry Men as mere thieves preying on the middle class, not its saviors. Conservatives who have been back on their heels this month should take heart. The Obama comeback remains what it has always been: mere smoke and mirrors designed to spin the weakest recovery since the Second World War as a time of prosperity and an excuse for more liberal looting of the Treasury and citizens’ wallets. Boehner’s successful demand shows that he’s still in charge of the budget and Obama really is a lame duck.
5) Former Defense Intel Chief Blasts Obama


Lt. General Michael Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, blasted the Obama administration’s approach to the War on Terror in a hard-hitting speech to a meeting of intelligence professionals. “The dangers to the U.S. do not arise from the arrogance of American power, but from unpreparedness or an excessive unwillingness to fight when fighting is necessary,” Flynn said, in an unsparing critique first reported by the Daily Beast.
The Obama administration doesn’t understand the threat, Flynn said, noting that the administration refuses to use “Islamic militants” to describe the enemy. 

“You cannot defeat an enemy you do not admit exists,” he said.

The administration, he continued, wants “us to think that our challenge is dealing with an undefined set of violent extremists or merely lone-wolf actors with no ideology or network. But that’s just not the straight truth.”

Flynn left government last summer, a year before scheduled. He did not provide a reason for his early departure, but sources close to Flynn told THE WEEKLY STANDARD that he was forced out after years of making arguments the Obama administration did not want to hear.

Flynn, and many of the analysts who worked for him, consistently reported on the global nature of the jihadist threat and the interconnectedness of the groups driving it. They mapped overlapping networks of al Qaeda and its offshoots and rejected arguments, pushed primarily by the White House and the CIA, that killing leaders of “core al Qaeda” inevitably meant a diminishing threat. 

One key fight came over the analysis of the documents captured during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The CIA was responsible for the first scrub of the collection of more than 1 million documents and retained “executive authority” over the cache when it was completed. But the CIA stopped analyzing or “exploiting” the documents after that first quick and incomplete assessment and the Agency made no attempt to systematically examine and codify all of the intelligence included in the intelligence haul.

Flynn assembled a team at the DIA to do exactly that, but the CIA initially refused to share the documents. After a lengthy bureaucratic battle, DIA analysts were given limited access to the bin Laden documents and undertook an exhaustive exploitation. The documents provided the U.S. government with its best look at al Qaeda and its operations and challenges—from the inside. There were letters between Osama bin Laden and other terrorist leaders, plans for future attacks, details about fundraising successes and failures, descriptions of relationships between al Qaeda and governments in the region. The documents remain unexploited to this day.

Derek Harvey, a senior DIA official and former director of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Center of Excellence at CENTCOM, led the DIA team that exploited the documents. He recently told TWS that the U.S. government hasn’t “done anything close to a full exploitation.”

A full exploitation? No. Not even close. Maybe 10 percent,” he said. 

The Obama administration is choosing ignorance.  

Sources familiar with the documents tell TWS that they include troubling information about al Qaeda’s plans to empower its franchises, new details about the many relationships with Pakistan’s powerful intelligence service and, significantly, support that the group has received over the years from senior figures in the Iranian regime. 

In classified analyses based heavily on the documents, the DIA directly challenged the Obama administration’s claims that the threat from al Qaeda was diminished or fading. Flynn hinted at this in an interview he gave to James Kitfield of Breaking Defense shortly after he left government. “When asked if the terrorists were on the run, we couldn’t respond with any answer but ‘no.’ When asked if the terrorists were defeated, we had to say ‘no.’ Anyone who answers ‘yes’ to either of those questions either doesn’t know what they are talking about, they are misinformed, or they are flat-out lying,” Flynn said

When bin Laden was killed, said Flynn, there was a sense that maybe this threat would go away. We all had those hopes, including me. But I also remembered my many years in Afghanistan and Iraq [fighting insurgents]…We kept decapitating the leadership of these groups, and more leaders would just appear from the ranks to take their place. That’s when I realized that decapitation alone was a failed strategy.”

The arguments that Flynn and his analysts were making were unwelcome in an administration publicly arguing that the threat was diminished and that the wars were over. Those who challenged the administration’s claims were sidelined or, in the case of Flynn, forced out. Several sources described the efforts at the time as a “purge” and warned about the dangers of an administration so unwilling to hear dissenting views.

Today, of course, there is little question that Flynn and his analysts were correct. But the Obama administration isn’t listening. The president gave a State of the Union last week in which he didn’t even mention al Qaeda, in which he awkwardly characterized the enemy as “violent extremists,” and in which he pretended that United States was winning the battle against ISIS. 

Ignoring threats doesn’t make them go away. Refusing to accurately identify your enemies doesn’t change their nature. And announcing false victories makes real defeats more likely.

As Flynn put it: “Retreat, retrenchment and disarmament are historically a recipe for disaster.”

Can Israel Survive?

By Victor Davis Hanson

Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East and North Africa. Eight million Israelis are surrounded by some 400 million Muslims in more than 20 states. Almost all of Israel's neighbors are anti-Israeli dictatorships, monarchies or theocracies-- a number of them reduced to a state of terrorist chaos. 
Given the rise of radical Islam, the huge petrodollar wealth of the Middle East and lopsided demography, how has Israel so far survived? 

The Jewish state has always depended on three unspoken assumptions for its tenuous existence. 
First, a democratic, nuclear Israel can deter larger enemies. In the Cold War, Soviet-backed Arab enemies understood that Israel's nuclear arsenal prevented them from destroying Tel Aviv. 

Second, the Western traditions of Israel -- free-market capitalism, democracy, human rights -- ensured a dynamic economy, high-tech weapons, innovative industry and stable government. In other words, 8 million Israelis could count on a greater gross domestic product, less internal violence and more innovation than, say, nearby Egypt, a mess with 10 times more people that Israel and nearly 50 times more land. 

Third, Israel counted on Western moral support from America and Europe, as well as military support from the United States. 

Israel's stronger allies have often come to the defense of its democratic principles and pointed out that the world applies an unfair standard to Israel, largely out of envy of its success, anti-Semitism, fear of terrorism and fondness of oil exporters. 

Why, for example, does the United Nations focus so much attention on Palestinians who fled Israel nearly 70 years ago but ignore Muslims who were forced out of India, or Jews who were ethnically cleansed from the cities of the Middle East? Why doesn't the world worry that Nicosia is a more divided city than Jerusalem, or that Turkey occupies northern Cyprus, or that China occupies Tibet? 

Unfortunately, two of these three traditional pillars of Israeli security have eroded. 

When the United States arbitrarily lifted tough sanctions against Iran and became a de facto partner with the Iranian theocracy in fighting the Islamic State, it almost ensured that Iran will get a nuclear bomb. Iran has claimed that it wishes to destroy Israel, as if its own apocalyptic sense of self makes it immune from classical nuclear deterrence. 

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) summed up the Obama administration's current policy on Iran as "talking points that come straight out of Teheran." Obama has cynically dismissed Menendez's worries about negotiations with Iran as a reflection not of the senator's principles, but of his concerns over "donors" -- apparently a reference to wealthy pro-Israel American Jews. 

Symbolism counts, too. President Obama was about the only major world leader to skip the recent march in Paris to commemorate the victims of attacks by radical Islamic terrorists -- among them Jews singled out and murdered for their faith. Likewise, he was odd world leader out by skipping this week's 70-year commemoration of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. 

Obama is not expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will address Congress in March. An anonymous member of the Obama administration was quoted as calling Netanyahu, a combat veteran, a "coward" and describing him with a related expletive. Another nameless administration official recently said Netanyahu "spat in our face" by accepting the congressional invitation without Obama's approval and so will pay "a price" -- personal animus that the administration has not directed even against the leaders of a hostile Iran. 

Obama won't meet with Netanyahu, and yet the president had plenty of time to hold an adolescent bull session with a would-be Internet comedian decked out in Day-Glo makeup who achieved her fame by filming herself eating breakfast cereal in a bathtub full of milk. 

Jews have been attacked and bullied on the streets of some of the major cities of France and Sweden by radical Muslims whose anti-Semitism goes unchecked by their terrified hosts. Jewish leaders in France openly advise that Jews in that country immigrate to Israel. 

A prosecutor in Argentina who had investigated the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 -- an attack widely believed to have been backed by Iran -- was recently found dead under mysterious circumstances. 

Turkey, a country whose prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was praised by Obama as one of his closest friends among world leaders, has turned openly non-secular and is vehemently anti-Israel. 

Until there is a change of popular attitudes in Europe or a different president in the United States, Israel is on its own to deal with an Iran that has already hinted it would use a nuclear weapon to eliminate the "Zionist entity," with the radical Islamic madness raging on its borders, and with the global harassment of Jews. 

A tiny democratic beacon in the Middle East should inspire and rally Westerners. Instead, too often, Western nations shrug and assume that Israel is a headache -- given that there is more oil and more terrorism on the other side. 

Philippine President Urges Support for Peace Pact Despite Police Deaths

Deal Could Lead to End of Battles With Rebels and Creation of Autonomous Muslim Region

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, in a televised speech, warns against delaying the passage of a law that would implement a peace deal with Muslim rebels amid anger over the killings of 44 police officers in a clash on the weekend.ENLARGE
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, in a televised speech, warns against delaying the passage of a law that would implement a peace deal with Muslim rebels amid anger over the killings of 44 police officers in a clash on the weekend. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
MANILA—Philippine President Benigno Aquino III urged his country to support a peace deal with Muslim rebels despite a weekend in which dozens of elite commandos were killed staging an unannounced raid to capture terror suspects.
“We have already come such a long way in our quest to realize the peace that we have long desired for Muslim Mindanao. All sides exhibited great trust to reach this point,” Mr. Aquino said in a speech televised on Wednesday night.
“The incident in Mampasano has already given rise to those who want to take advantage of this tragedy to undermine that trust. They wish to derail the peace process,” he said.
The carnage, in which 44 of the country’s elite commando police force were killed, hasraised painful questions in the predominately Catholic country.
peace deal in the final stages with the Muslim Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the southern Philippines, which would pave the way for an autonomous Muslim region, now may be in jeopardy. The pact is hoped to end succession battles by Muslim rebel groups there that have left roughly 120,000 people dead.
The tragedy began with a predawn police action on Sunday, according to police and official accounts, in which 392 commandos of the Philippines’ elite Special Action Force converged on the remote village of Tukanalipao. The targets were Zulkifli bin Hir —a Malaysian also known as Marwan and affiliated with the al Qaeda-linked group Jemaah Islamiyah—and Abdul Basit Usman, described by U.S. State Department as a bomb-making expert.
As the police retreated under fire from another rebel group suspected of harboring the two terrorists, some of them came close to the rebels’ camp, triggering a gunbattle lasting several hours. The rebel group acknowledges firing on the police officers, but only to defend their camp after the police fired upon them.
Police claim Mr. Hir was killed, although they still need DNA confirmation, but that Mr. Usman escaped.
Photos of the tragedy have flooded social media—bodies of commandos riddled with bullets, some with gunshots to their heads—and these may have undermined public support for the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law that would create the autonomous Muslim region.
The Philippine National Police has launched an investigation into what happened, as has the rebel group.
The peace deal is one of Mr. Aquino’s hoped-for legacy achievements; he initiated negotiations with the Muslim rebels shortly after he took office in June 2010. He is term-limited and leaves office next year.
Not only is the peace pact now being questioned by some in the Senate, but Mr. Aquino faced questions after his televised statement about whether he gave clearance for Sunday’s disastrous operation.
“You’re asking if I was asked, ’Sir, can we proceed with the mission.’ I don’t think I was ever asked that question,” he responded to a reporter’s question.
Mr. Aquino said he knew of police efforts to serve standing warrants on Messrs. Hir and Usman. The president said actionable intelligence information has been available since May, but actual operations had been put off several times for reasons he didn’t specify.
Several lawmakers have withdrawn support for the draft bill, while others want those responsible to the deadly encounter to be identified and punished.
“We will gain justice, in time, through the right processes, and without letting go of our dreams to realize a widespread and lasting peace,” Mr. Aquino said.

7a) The Siege of Mariupol

Putin figures he can grab more territory and then talk the West down.

January 25 was declared mourning in Ukraine for those killed in the shelling of Mariupol. People fire hundreds of candles to commemorate the victims.ENLARGE
January 25 was declared mourning in Ukraine for those killed in the shelling of Mariupol. People fire hundreds of candles to commemorate the victims. PHOTO: NURPHOTO/ZUMA WIRE
President Obama took a foreign-policy bow during his State of the Union speech last week, boasting that “we’re upholding the principle that bigger nations can’t bully the small—by opposing Russian aggression, supporting Ukraine’s democracy, and reassuring our NATO allies.” Whereupon Russian-backed forces promptly expanded an offensive in Ukraine that has already claimed more than 5,000 lives.
On Saturday the Ukrainian port of Mariupol, strategically located on the Sea of Azov, came under indiscriminate rocket fire from positions controlled by the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, the Moscow-sponsored militia in eastern Ukraine. Some 30 people were killed in the attacks; another hundred or so were wounded. Aleksandr Zakharchenko, since November the Donetsk Republic’s “Prime Minister,” had earlier promised an offensive against Mariupol, though both his militia and Moscow were quick to deny responsibility for the massacre.
None of this is surprising, though most military analysts expected the rebels to wait until spring before resuming their onslaught. It also underscores the willful disbelief of Westerners, starting with President Obama, who imagined that the combination of light sanctions on Russia and a steep drop in energy prices would force Vladimir Putin to call an end to his Ukrainian adventure.
The opposite has happened. Russia put its name to a cease-fire signed in Minsk last September. Yet by November Gen. Philip Breedlove, NATO’s Supreme Commander, was reporting the movement of “Russian troops, Russian artillery, Russian air defense systems and Russian combat troops” into Ukraine. More recent sightings of “little green men” in insignia-less uniforms suggest the presence of Russian special forces fighting alongside the rebels.
The Kremlin’s likely aim for this latest offensive is to take Mariupol, which would consolidate rebel control over the Donetsk region and provide a better sea link between Russian-occupied Crimea and the Russian mainland. European leaders have lately been warning that Moscow will face a new round of sanctions should the rebel offensive continue. But given the noises French President François Hollande and others have been making about easing up on sanctions, Mr. Putin probably figures he can take Mariupol first and then bargain the West down.
It also doesn’t hurt Mr. Putin that the Ukrainian war has further boosted his popularity—88% approval, according to one opinion poll late last year—despite the economic turmoil. Russian nationalism runs deep, and dictators tend to benefit politically from splendid little wars, at least those they win.
Which is what makes it all the more imperative for the West to ensure that Russia does not win. The Ukrainian military has ringed Mariupol with a three-tiered defense, but a defeat there would put the defense of the rest of Ukraine into serious question. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has repeatedly asked the U.S. to assist his country with arms, but so far the Obama Administration has done nothing more than to offer limited nonlethal aid. Even Hillary Clinton, in post dove campaign mode, wants the U.S. to do more.
We’re all for sanctioning the Kremlin, especially in ways that directly affect Mr. Putin and his inner circle. But if the West wants to stop the Kremlin’s military offensive, military means are also required. Giving Ukraine the arms to defend its territory is the only chance of stopping Mr. Putin’s siege.
8)  Obama’s Peter Pan Economics

Other than the president, perfect fairness is an obsession mainly among children.

In the winter of his presidency, Barack Obama is touring the country—Idaho, Kansas—talking about something he calls “middle-class economics.” His Saturday radio address, a helpfully condensed version of his 59-minute, 57-second State of the Union speech, offered his definition of the idea:
“That’s what middle-class economics is—the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”
Let’s try to unbundle this sentence.
It sounds familiar, until one notices that Mr. Obama has added something—the word “fair.”
In the traditional version, everyone at least gets a shot and does their share. But what, exactly, does the President of the United States mean by a “fair” shot and “fair” share?
Other than the president, the one other slice of the American population that obsesses over fairness everywhere is children. Every parent knows that about the age of four, kids in groups start saying, “That’s not fair.”
If you have a birthday party and cut pieces of the cake for all, one of them will say, “Her piece is bigger than mine. Why is she getting a bigger piece? That’s not fair.”
And parents, ever since Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, have felt obliged to instruct their children on the reality. Life isn’t going to be “fair.” And the path into the future requires more than envy, tantrums and grabbing what belongs to others.
Cradle-to-grave fairness may be infantile, but the idea lives on, especially in politics and most of all in Mr. Obama’s mind.
He says middle-class economics means “two years of free community college, so we can keep earning higher wages down the road.”
How can community college be “free” for everyone? This isn’t middle-class economics. It’s Peter Pan economics. In the story of the boy who never grows up, Peter tells the Darling children they can fly if they “think lovely thoughts.”
In Mr. O’s world, tax revenue is sort of like Tinker Bell’s pixie dust. You just scoop up another handful and spread it wherever you want. As he said Saturday: Middle-class economics “means making it easier to afford childcare, college, paid leave, health care, a home, and retirement.”
Unraveling the Obama belief system is a challenge, so let’s take the lower, simpler road and agree with conventional wisdom that “middle-class economics” is mostly about where the votes are.
Mr. Obama is forcing Republicans to defend themselves against the undefinable progressive murk of “fairness,” and he is writing Hillary Clinton ’s campaign agenda before she starts selling him out. In short, the political class has decided that the middle class is ready for its close-up.
What we are about to learn, though, is that “middle class” is just a phrase, whose human reality is more complex and hard to pin down than the Peter Pans of politics believe.
The first indication that politicizing the American middle class carries peril for pols who claim to be its champion came this week when the White House deserted its plan to tax 529 college-savings accounts.
Across millions of kitchen tables since the plan to tax “upper-income” savers was announced, 30- and 40-something spouses said: “He wants to do what?” Even Nancy Pelosi , grandmother of six, went rogue and reportedly asked the White House to drop the idea.
The one datum driving the middle class into the spotlight of presidential politics is that median, inflation-adjusted household income has fallen, from about $54,000 in 2008 to below $52,000.
Beyond that, how does one define what is middle class? Sen. Ted Cruz , discussing the subject last weekend with Sens. Marco Rubio and Rand Paul at the Koch brothers’ California conference, described the middle class as “working men and women.”
U.S. elections are run on the conceit that America’s problems, including stagnant incomes, are unique to us. But we should look beyond the U.S. to see where we don’t want our politics to go.
China? The Wall Street Journal reported that two-thirds of middle-class college grads there want to work for a state-owned company or the government. Why? They say senior bureaucrats make all the important decisions. We’ve had that model in the U.S. recently, and economic growth collapsed.
What of Europe and its social-market economies so admired by Democratic progressives in the U.S.? Much of Europe’s educated, middle-class youth are permanently unemployed because subsidies that absorb half the continent’s GDP prop up and pay for the lifestyles of their parents. Call it jobless fairness.
When the middle-class sweepstakes begin, no conceivable Republican presidential candidate will be able to outbid or out-gripe Hillary Clinton. But they will need an alternative to the platitudes and magic dust of federal programs and tax credits that will float from her campaign.
If in our elections the subject is America, then Republican candidates need to search for their agenda inside the American experience. Forget fair. Start with work. The rest will come.

Building Toward Another Mortgage Meltdown

In the name of ‘affordable’ loans, the White House is creating the conditions for a replay of the housing disaster

The Obama administration’s troubling flirtation with another mortgage meltdown took an unsettling turn on Tuesday with Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt ’s testimony before the House Financial Services Committee.
Mr. Watt told the committee that, having received “feedback from stakeholders,” he expects to release by the end of March new guidance on the “guarantee fee” charged byFannie Mae and Freddie Mac to cover the credit risk on loans the federal mortgage agencies guarantee.
Here we go again. In the Obama administration, new guidance on housing policy invariably means lowering standards to get mortgages into the hands of people who may not be able to afford them.
Earlier this month, President Obama announced that the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will begin lowering annual mortgage-insurance premiums “to make mortgages more affordable and accessible.” While that sounds good in the abstract, the decision is a bad one with serious consequences for the housing market.
Government programs to make mortgages more widely available to low- and moderate-income families have consistently offered overleveraged, high-risk loans that set up too many homeowners to fail. In the long run-up to the 2008 financial crisis, for example, federal mortgage agencies and their regulators cajoled and wheedled private lenders to loosen credit standards. They have been doing so again. When the next housing crash arrives, private lenders will be blamed—and homeowners and taxpayers will once again pay dearly.
Lowering annual mortgage-insurance premiums is part of a new affordable-lending effort by the Obama administration. More specifically, it is the latest salvo in a price war between two government mortgage giants to meet government mandates.
Fannie Mae fired the first shot in December when it relaunched the 30-year, 97% loan-to-value, or LTV, mortgage (a type of loan that was suspended in 2013). Fannie revived these 3% down-payment mortgages at the behest of its federal regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA)—which has run Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac since 2008, when both government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) went belly up and were put into conservatorship. The FHA’s mortgage-premium price rollback was a counteroffensive.
Déjà vu: Fannie launched its first price war against the FHA in 1994 by introducing the 30-year, 3% down-payment mortgage. It did so at the behest of its then-regulator, the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This and other actions led HUD in 2004 to credit Fannie Mae’s “substantial part in the ‘revolution’ ” in “affordable lending” to “historically underserved households.”
Fannie’s goal in 1994 and today is to take market share from the FHA, the main competitor for loans it and Freddie Mac need to meet mandates set by Congress since 1992 to increase loans to low- and moderate-income homeowners. The weapons in this war are familiar—lower pricing and progressively looser credit as competing federal agencies fight over existing high-risk lending and seek to expand such lending.
Mortgage price wars between government agencies are particularly dangerous, since access to low-cost capital and minimal capital requirements gives them the ability to continue for many years—all at great risk to the taxpayers. Government agencies also charge low-risk consumers more than necessary to cover the risk of default, using the overage to lower fees on loans to high-risk consumers.
Starting in 2009 the FHFA released annual studies documenting the widespread nature of these cross-subsidies. The reports showed that low down payment, 30-year loans to individuals with low FICO scores were consistently subsidized by less-risky loans.
Unfortunately, special interests such as the National Association of Realtors—always eager to sell more houses and reap the commissions—and the left-leaning Urban Institute were cheerleaders for loose credit. In 1997, for example, HUD commissioned the Urban Institute to study Fannie and Freddie’s single-family underwriting standards. The Urban Institute’s 1999 report found that “the GSEs’ guidelines, designed to identify creditworthy applicants, are more likely to disqualify borrowers with low incomes, limited wealth, and poor credit histories; applicants with these characteristics are disproportionately minorities.” By 2000 Fannie and Freddie did away with down payments and raised debt-to-income ratios. HUD encouraged them to more aggressively enter the subprime market, and the GSEs decided to re-enter the “liar loan” (low doc or no doc) market, partly in a desire to meet higher HUD low- and moderate-income lending mandates.
On Jan. 6, the Urban Institute announced in a blog post: “FHA: Time to stop overcharging today’s borrowers for yesterday’s mistakes.” The institute endorsed an immediate cut of 0.40% in mortgage-insurance premiums charged by the FHA. But once the agency cuts premiums, Fannie and Freddie will inevitably reduce the guarantee fees charged to cover the credit risk on the loans they guarantee.
Now the other shoe appears poised to drop, given Mr. Watt’s promise on Tuesday to issue new guidance on guarantee fees.
This is happening despite Congress’s 2011 mandate that Fannie’s regulator adjust the prices of mortgages and guarantee fees to make sure they reflect the actual risk of loss—that is, to eliminate dangerous and distortive pricing by the two GSEs. Ed DeMarco, acting director of the FHFA since March 2009, worked hard to do so but left office in January 2014. Mr. Watt, his successor, suspended Mr. DeMarc o’s efforts to comply with Congress’s mandate. Now that Fannie will once again offer heavily subsidized 3%-down mortgages, massive new cross-subsidies will return, and the congressional mandate will be ignored.
The law stipulates that the FHA maintain a loss-absorbing capital buffer equal to 2% of the value of its outstanding mortgages. The agency obtains this capital from profits earned on mortgages and future premiums. It hasn’t met its capital obligation since 2009 and will not reach compliance until the fall of 2016, according to the FHA’s latest actuarial report. But if the economy runs into another rough patch, this projection will go out the window.
Congress should put an end to this price war before it does real damage to the economy. It should terminate the ill-conceived GSE affordable-housing mandates and impose strong capital standards on the FHA that can’t be ignored as they have been for five years and counting.
Mr. Pinto, former chief credit officer of Fannie Mae, is co-director and chief risk officer of the International Center on Housing Risk at the American Enterprise Institute.

Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East and North Africa. Eight million Israelis are surrounded by some 400 million Muslims in more than 20 states. Almost all of Israel's neighbors are anti-Israeli dictatorships, monarchies or theocracies-- a number of them reduced to a state of terrorist chaos.