Sunday, December 25, 2016

Underhanded! Trump and Thoughts on Ways To Balance. Obama's True Legacy.

Trump's Daughter's Family at Hanukkah.

This is an ad for John Lewis dept. stores in UK. Watch it first.

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Then watch this one.

#2 /11/buster-boxer-paroday/

I listened to a talk by Netanyahu to his nation and he stated publicly he had a specific commitment from Obama, given in 2011, not to do what Obama just authorized and Bibi called Obama's perfidy "underhanded." (See 1,1a  and 1b below.)
When Trump finally takes The Office, as he indicated, matters will change with respect to The U.N.

Personally, I hope he cuts funding of the U.N. significantly and continues to fund only those agencies that accomplish good according to and after our valuation and assessment.

Many in Congress are calling for the same but unless they are given support their knees will eventually bend and/or buckle.

There is a great deal of balancing that Trump must undertake in order to get what he wants from even a Republican controlled Congress because they will be opposed to and fearful of adding to an already crippling deficit.

Though I have no specific dollar amounts here is how I would begin to implement trade-offs as follows:

Close two departments ( Dept. of Education and Energy) and transfer any meaningful responsibilities to other departments and de-fund The U.N. (See 2 below.)

Implement the cuts that even Speaker Ryan has called for.

Conduct an audit of The Pentagon and implement what it reveals when it comes to wasteful spending.

Recognize any tax cuts will, initially, result in increasing the budget deficit but recognize simpler and more rational tax policies will eventually stimulate the economy, increase employment and thus tax revenues will increase over time. Four percent GDP goes along way towards curing some of our fiscal ills.

Finally, just as you audit the Pentagon you must do the same with every welfare program and close those that overlap, look for the fraud and close those loopholes as well as legally pursue those so engaged.

These steps alone should produce sufficient funds and increase efficiency and help fund the increase cost of rebuilding our military.

Trump's "$ trillion" infrastructure proposal is being hyped and mis-portrayed by the anti-Trump crowd.

Much of the capital spending should come from private sources as a consequence of the rationalization of our regressive tax system.  Some of the public spending on infrastructure can also be paid for by fee based usage.

There are many things Newt is going to be working on which are in concert with Trump's thinking and which will be new by way government has historically been conducted.

Stay tuned because I continue to believe Trump's approach will remain unorthodox , thus, lead to a lot of carping and negative thinking but looking back it should prove interesting, though, akin to being on a roller coaster ride. However, over-all. it should produce positive results and help restore faith in government. Will it make America great again?  Probably that is too high a goal to expect but it could move us in the right direction and lay the foundation for needed and positive changes going forward.  How refreshing that could be as we move away from the stigma and negativity of 8 Obama years.
Nothing matters more to Obama than his legacy.  Most presidents want history to treat them fairly and some shape their actions purposely with that thought in mind and thus, pursue roads that lead to questionable consequences.

Because of Obama's narcissistic personality and many poor decision,s which resulted in tragic failure and high human cost, I suspect his legacy will read something like this:

Foreign Policy Agenda: Allowed Russia's re-entry into  The Middle East at the cost of multitudes of refugees who invaded Europe and began the disintegration of The E.U.

Stabbed America's strongest and most faithful, and dependent ally in The Middle East - Israel, in the back, because of personal pique with its Prime Minister.

Not only failed to name Radical Islam but failed to identify ISIS by name preferring to call it ISIL, in order to give it nation status.

Began his initial term in office by apologizing for America's past history which set in motion policies which favored The Muslim Brotherhood and allowed Iran to proceed with its nuclear ambitions.

Domestic Policy Agenda:  Presided over the weakest economic recovery in recent history resulting in the largest accumulation of deficits of all prior presidents combined.

Increased the number of citizens on Food Stamps and other welfare assistance resulting in a surge in permanent unemployment in the black community.

Failed to protect America's borders resulting in a flood of illegal immigration and total disregard of The Rule of Law, one of the founding principles of our nation..

End ran Congress and  America's Constitutional form of government, through the use of Executive Orders, which allowed him to impose, on the nation, untold costs and misery, most importantly causing a radical change in health care delivery  under the guise of Obamacare.

During his eight years in office his policies and rhetoric accompanied the rise in racial tensions and public discord, heightened animosity toward police resulting in an increase in outright assassinations of officers.

Saw the decimation of the number of office holders in The Democrat Party.

Military Preparedness and America's Standing in The World:  Though he pledged to keep America safe, as with all presidential inaugural swearing in oaths ,he presided over a significant decline in America's military capabilities, reduced the number of those in service, the number of seaworthy ships while China's fleet and sea power grew and lost the confidence and trust of many of our allies throughout the world whether in The Middle East The Pacific or  Europe.

He did receive recognition for his campaign style and promise of "Hope and Change" by receiving The Nobel Peace Prize.
Every nation , ultimately, must stand alone and defend itself.  The history books are filled with broken commitments. (See 3 below.)
Some interesting statistics.  At least I think so.  (See 4 below.)
1) Prime Minister Netanyahu speech to Israelis  

Citizens of Israel, I would like to reassure you. The resolution that was adopted yesterday at the United Nations is distorted and shameful but we will overcome it. The resolution determines that the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem is ‘occupied territory’. This is delusional.

The resolution determines that the Western Wall is ‘occupied territory’. This too is delusional. There is nothing more absurd than calling the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter occupied territory. There is also an attempt here, which will not succeed, to impose permanent settlement terms on Israel. You might recall that the last one who tried to do this was Carter, an extremely hostile president to Israel, and who just recently said that Hamas is not a terrorist organization. Carter passed sweeping decisions against us at the UN of a similar kind, and this was also unsuccessful. We opposed this and nothing happened.
All American presidents since Carter upheld the American commitment not to try to dictate permanent settlement terms to Israel at the Security Council. And yesterday, in complete contradiction of this commitment, including an explicit commitment by President Obama himself in 2011, the Obama administration carried out a shameful anti-Israel ploy at the UN.
I would like to tell you that the resolution that was adopted, not only doesn’t bring peace closer, it drives it further away. It hurts justice; it hurts the truth. Think about this absurdity, half a million human beings are being slaughtered in Syria. Tens of thousands are being butchered in Sudan. The entire Middle East is going up in flames and the Obama administration and the Security Council choose to gang up on the only democracy in the Middle East – the State of Israel. What a disgrace.
My friends, I would like to tell you on the first night of Chanukah that this will not avail them. We reject this resolution outright, just as we rejected the UN resolution that determined that Zionism was racism. It took time but that resolution was rescinded; it will take time but this one will also be rescinded. Now I will tell you how it will be rescinded. It will be rescinded not because of our retreats but because of our steadfastness and that of our allies. I remind you that we withdrew from Gaza, uprooted communities and took people out of their graves. Did this help us at all at the UN? Did this improve our relations at the UN? We were hit with thousands of rockets and at the UN we were hit with the Goldstone report!
So I will tell you what is clear, I know, to the vast majority of Israeli citizens: We learned this lesson, and we will not go there. But I also want to tell you something else: We are not alone. I spoke last night with many American leaders. I was pleased to hear from members of the American Congress, from Democrats and Republicans alike, that they will fight an all-out war against this resolution with all the power at their disposal. I heard the exact same things from our friends in the incoming administration, who said that they will fight an all-out war against this resolution. And I heard this from across the spectrum of American public opinion and American politics – Republicans, Democrats, Jews and non-Jews. As I spoke yesterday with leaders in Congress and the incoming American administration, they told me unequivocally: ‘We are sick of this and it will not continue. We will change this resolution. We will not allow anyone to harm the State of Israel.’ They are declaring their intention to pass legislation to punish countries and bodies that try to harm Israel. They say that this will also include the UN itself. I remind you that the UN receives a quarter, 25%, of its budget from the US alone.
In my most recent speech to the UN, in September, I said that a storm was expected in the UN before it gets better there. We knew that this is possible and we expect that it will come. The resolution that was passed at the UN yesterday is part of the swan song of the old world that is biased against Israel, but, my friends, we are entering a new era. And just as President-elect Trump said yesterday, it will happen much sooner than you think. In the new era there is a much higher price for those who try to harm Israel, and that the price will be exacted not only by the US, but by Israel as well.
Two countries with which we have diplomatic relations cosponsored the resolution against us at the UN; therefore, I ordered yesterday that our ambassadors be recalled from, Senegal and from New Zealand. I have ordered that all Israeli assistance to Senegal be halted, and there’s more to come. Those who work with us will benefit because Israel has much to give to the countries of the world. But those who work against us will lose – because there will be a diplomatic and economic price for their actions against Israel. Additionally, I have instructed the Foreign Ministry to complete, within a month, a reassessment of all of our contacts with the UN, including Israeli financing of UN institutions and the presence of UN representatives in the country. But I am not waiting; already now I have ordered to halt approximately NIS 30 million in financing for five UN institutions, five UN bodies that are especially hostile to Israel. I have already ordered that this be stopped, and there is more to come.
We are on a campaign of improving our relations with the nations of the world. And it will take more time, and I have said this as well, until our improved relations with countries on five continents are also reflected in their decisions in UN institutions. But I would like to tell you something else, and listen closely to what I’m saying. Contrary to what you might expect, it is very likely that last night’s scandalous resolution will accelerate this process, because it is the straw that broke the camel’s back. Last night’s resolution is a call to arms for all of our many friends in the US and elsewhere around the world, friends who are sick of the UN’s hostility toward Israel, and they intend to bring about a fundamental change in the UN.Therefore, this evening I tell you in the language of our sources, the sweet will yet come forth from the bitter and those who come to curse will yet bless.
Here, on the first night of Chanukah, I stand next to the Maccabees of our times, IDF soldiers and wounded IDF heroes. I salute you and I say to you clearly: The light will dispel the darkness. The spirit of the Maccabees will overcome. Happy Chanukah.

1a)  Obama pulls a bait-and-switch on anti-Israel Security Council vote

By Alan M. Dershowitz, contributor

The Obama administration pulled a bait and switch in refusing to veto the recent Security Council resolution against Israel. In attempting to justify its abstention – which under Security Council rules has the same effect as a vote in favor – the administration focuses on “new” settlement building, especially in areas deep into the West Bank. 
In her speech to the Security Council, Ambassador Samantha Power explained the administration’s vote this way: 
“Today, the Security Council reaffirmed its established consensus that settlements have no legal validity.... President Obama and Secretary Kerry have repeatedly warned – publically and privately – that the absence of progress toward peace and continued settlement expansion was going to put the two-state solution at risk, and threaten Israel’s stated objective to remain both a Jewish State and a democracy ... This resolution reflects trends that will permanently destroy the hope of a two-state solution if they continue on their current course.”(emphasis added) 
Likewise Ben Rhodes, Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor, said: 
Netanyahu had the opportunity to pursue policies that would have led to a different outcome today.... In the absence of any meaningful peace process, as well as in the accelerated settlement activity, we took the decision that we did today to abstain on the resolution.” (emphasis added) 
In a press release, the pro-Obama advocacy group J. Street welcomed America’s abstention, citing a poll showing “that 62 percent of Jewish voters believe the United States should either support or abstain from voting on a United Nations Security Council resolution calling on Israel to stop building settlements in the West Bank.”(emphasis added) 
And the media – from CNN, to the New York Times, to the Wall Street Journal – also reported that the resolution was only about the expansion of new settlements. 
But the text of the resolution itself goes well beyond new building in these controversial areas and applies equally to historically Jewish areas that were unlawfully taken by Jordanian military action during Israel’s War of Independence and liberated by Israel in a war started by Jordan in 1967. 
The text of the Security Council Resolution says that “any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem,” have “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.” This means that Israel’s decision to build a plaza for prayer at the Western Wall – Judaism’s holiest site – constitutes a “flagrant violation of international law.” If it does then why did President Obama pray there and leave a note asking for peace? 
Under this resolution, the access roads that opened up Hebrew University to Jewish and Arab students and the Hadassah Hospital to Jewish and Arab patients are illegal, as are all the rebuilt synagogues – destroyed by Jordan – in the ancient Jewish Quarter of the Old City.
Is it really now U.S. policy to condemn Israel for liberating these historically Jewish areas in Jerusalem? Does Obama really believe they should be made judenrein again, as they were between 1949 and 1967?
If so, why didn’t the administration openly acknowledge that it was changing half a century of bipartisan support for Israel’s claims to these sacred areas? If not, why did it not demand changes in the language of the resolution to limit it to new building in disputed areas of the West Bank?
The Obama administration can’t have it both ways. It must now declare where it stands on Israel’s right to allow prayer at the Western Wall, access to Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital, and the repair of destroyed synagogues to the Jewish Quarter.
J Street, as well, has an obligation to its members – many of whom pray at the Western Wall and have deep connections to Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital and the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem – to advise them whether the organization supports Israel's abandoning these Jewish areas until Palestinians agree to a negotiated settlement.
The media, as well, should clarify the impact of the resolution beyond new building in the West Bank, so that all Americans well know what their President supported.
President-elect Donald Trump and Congress can make it clear that it is not U.S. policy that all changes “to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem” are in violation of international law. The new president can immediately recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and begin the process of moving our embassy there.
The justification for keeping it in Tel Aviv was not to change the status quo, but that justification no longer exists because this resolution does precisely that: it declares the status quo – the reality on the ground that acknowledges Israel’s legitimate claims to its most sacred and historical Jewish areas – to be flagrant violations of international law. Congress can legislate no funding to implement the Security Council’s troubling resolution.
If the Obama administration refuses to announce that it supports the language of the resolution that applies to the Jewish areas discussed above, then the entire resolution should be deemed invalid because the U.S. did not cast its abstention – the equivalent of a yes vote – in good faith.
Alan M. Dershowitz is Professor Emeritus at the Harvard Law School and author of “Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law” and “Electile Dysfunction: A Guide for Unaroused Voters.”


Will the UN resolution bring down a full ICC war crimes probe on Israel?

How does the U.N Security Council resolution declaring Israel’s settlements and buildings in the West Bank and east Jerusalem as illegal impact International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s decision about whether to dive deeper into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

First, the context. Bensouda opened a preliminary examination into alleged war crimes relating to the 2014 Gaza war and to the settlement enterprise in January 2015.

The million-dollar question has been whether she would move from a preliminary review to a full criminal investigation.

The concerns were not only potential actual war crimes trials.

They were also about the lasting diplomatic and public relations damage such an investigation would do to Israel. The problems could be both big-picture and specific to Israeli officials who might suddenly be unable to travel to 120 countries who are members of the ICC (including Europe) without risking arrest.

Further, there was a concern that such an investigation, if it was into the 2014 Gaza war, could negatively impact Israelis volunteering for combat units, or combat units fearing to defend themselves lest they might find themselves in the dock at The Hague.

It is clear that UNSC Resolution 2334 was a disaster diplomatically, as well as from a public relations angle, and that Israel is living in a new more hostile world than it was prior to Friday.

In fact, one might say that one of the worst case scenarios of impacts from an ICC full criminal investigation has already happened because of the resolution, ironically making the ICC issue less high stakes.

Simply put, diplomatically, such a UNSC resolution might be worse than any ICC criminal case.

But even in the worst case scenario and this new hostile world, the damage legally is also far more contained than people may realize.

While the non-judicial UNSC calls the entire settlement enterprise of hundreds of thousands of people illegal, Bensouda’s examination from the start has been limited to events which occurred after November 29, 2012 – when the UNGA declared “Palestine” a state.

In place of hundreds of thousands of settlers’ residences being in play, the numbers suddenly drop to thousands or somewhere in the 10,000 range.

Also, individual settlers would not be on the hook before the ICC. At worst, the defendants would include key ministers involved in settlement approvals, such as the defense and housing ministers, and possibly also local settlement officials.

It is also possible that aspects of the legal proceedings could be avoided, mitigated or defended if specific residences built after November 29, 2012 were removed or if they became legalized in a future peace agreement.

Moreover, the decision may be far away. In multiple exclusive interviews with The Jerusalem Post in February and October, both Bensouda and her office’s head of jurisdictional issues, Phakiso Mochochoko, signaled that they were far from decided about the war crimes issue and also would likely take years to decide.

After setting the stage, how much did the UNSC resolution move the dial toward a full criminal investigation?

The Jerusalem Post spoke and was in contact with the Foreign Ministry, former IDF international law division head Col. (res.) Pnina-Sharvit Baruch, former IDF international law division head Col. (res.) Liron Libman, former foreign ministry top legal adviser Robbie Sabel, former Hebrew University Law School Dean and Israel Democracy Institute Senior Researcher Yuval Shany and others.

The Foreign Ministry is not giving much at this time, saying it is studying the issue, and might be unlikely to give its opinion even if it had one, lest its opinion damage Israel’s tactical options.

Beyond that, there is no consensus with the dust just starting to settle from this diplomatic earthquake. But the overall trend appears to be that the UNSC resolution at most will give Bensouda a political headwind if she was already going to go after the Israeli settlements, but changed very little in a strict legal sense.

Libman pointed out that all of the worst language against the settlements in the UNSC resolution is basically word-for-word from three UNSC resolutions from 1979-1980. Saying the settlements have “no legal validity” are “flagrant violations” and are against both international law and “international humanitarian law” are not new.

In that sense, if Bensouda wanted to go after the Israeli settlements as war crimes, she had a case based on prior UNSC resolutions as well as the 2004 International Court of Justice opinion declaring the settlements illegal.

Critically, the UNSC resolution was not passed in the context of Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which is the most binding under international law and is the main mechanism for wide-based international sanctions. This means it was weaker than it could have been.

In that sense, legally, there is “nothing new under the sun” here.

However, until now, the UNSC resolutions condemning the settlements as illegal were around 35 years old. They had not been repealed, but the Oslo Agreements had intervened, Camp David II had set out a vision of Israel keeping settlement blocs and all attempts to repeat such unequivocal settlement language had been vetoed by the US.

Now those arguing that the settlement enterprise should be prosecuted as war crimes can connect the dots between the 1979-1980 resolutions, the 2004 ICJ decision and the 2016 resolution.

More critically, the 2016 resolution comes out in the middle of an ICC examination. If Bensouda wants to point to what the most current trend of thinking is regarding the settlements of international law, the resolution could be a body blow for Israel.

But all of this misses maybe the most important potential defense for Israel, among many possible defenses.

Flying through another country’s air space for a few seconds is a violation of international law. But it is a low grade violation. It is not a war crime. None of the UNSC resolutions nor the ICJ decision say that the settlements are a “grave” (the use of “flagrant” violation as opposed to “grave” is likely not a coincidence) violation of international law, let alone label them a war crime.

Still, that does not end the debate, as the ICC’s Rome Statute does include language that both direct and indirect actions of population transfer are war crimes. The late addition of “indirect” was perceived as focused on Israel’s settlements and was the reason Israel never ratified the ICC’s Rome Statute, despite being deeply involved in trying to establish the ICC.

At the end of the day, the question is whether Bensouda will decide to be the first one in history to prosecute people for building houses and laying water pipes, as opposed to being focused on genocide, mass killings and mass rape – which many conceive of as the ICC’s true purpose.

No one can know for sure, but Shany said he believes Bensouda will order a full criminal investigation. He noted that the settlement enterprise “is not just one porch sitting in Gilo” and that, along with the UNSC resolution, its immensity will be too big to ignore from its perspective.

Sharvit-Baruch has different views than Shany and believes no decision is close to imminent, but overall also believes that Bensouda will move to a full criminal investigation.

Sabel said he believes Bensouda will not order a full criminal investigation. He noted that it would be difficult for her to explain what she was investigating, since even after the UNSC declared the settlements illegal, and she recognized Palestine, “Palestine” has no borders.

This exposes that the whole issue is a political one of setting the borders between the Israelis and the Palestinians, Sable says.

Libman says it is too close to call and that most of the evidence which shows how Bensouda will act could cut either way.    

A case in point is a few African countries withdrawing from the ICC because they accuse it of being too focused solely on Africa. Will their withdrawal encourage Bensouda to take risks, such as with the Israelis and Palestinians to address the criticism, or will it discourage her, as their withdrawal may make her more risk averse.

Israel lost a significant battle on Friday. But the war over the ICC is still in play.  
2)Obama's Israel Vendetta Opens the Door for Trump to Defund the UN


325 miles to Aleppo, Syria. Hard lessons for Israel : David Collier

“There are three major lessons for Israel in the ruins of Aleppo:
1. Ignore international promises
2. Strength is the best deterrent
3. Israel needs to trust only itself when it comes to its long-term security

And those who still follow the ‘new Middle East’ argument. Who suggest Israel should make large concessions because, well, it has worked so well for them before. Some parts of Israel are only 250 miles from Aleppo in Syria. In the comfort of London and New York, it is easy to tell others to take risks for peace.”

…….It is difficult not to be moved by events in Syria. Images from Aleppo, Syria are heart-breaking. It is also fair to say, most of us in the west, despite vocally shouting that ‘something needs to be done’, haven’t got much idea about exactly what. Syria is a tale of 1000 trenches with 2000 armies.

During the ‘Arab spring’ in 2011, I remember being engaged in debate over events in Libya. As ‘interventionists’ were encountering difficulty co-ordinating international support for anti-Gaddafi action, I was pointing towards Syria, worried international impotence was signaling to Assad he could act with impunity. Action in Libya was the ‘easy’ choice.

At the time, most commentary over the ‘Arab Spring’ was positive. Thousands of experts, mostly liberal elites listening to the sound of their own echo, applauding the ‘rising up’ of the Arab street. This policy brief from the European Policy Centre discusses how Europe should ‘open up’ to ‘democracies in the making’. Brian Whitaker in the Guardian suggested on 14/3/2011 that “the Arab spring is brighter than ever”.

My pessimism in conversations on the topic was unwelcome. Nobody wanted the input of the doomsayer. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri in the Guardian led with a headline “Arabs are democracy’s new pioneers”. They asked “what these new experiments in freedom and democracy will teach the world over the next decade?” It is now 2016, we are half way into that ‘next decade’. This piece is in answer to that puzzle.

In the beginning

To do this I must start this story 20 years earlier. To be precise at 3.30am on 18th January 1991.
At that time, I was huddled inside a ‘sealed room’. In reality this was just a room specially decorated with masking tape and plastic sheeting, designed to increase my chance of surviving a chemical attack. I didn’t speak Hebrew, and the information given on the radio was linguistically out of my reach. One of my neighbours kept their dog leashed outside their house and I’d frequently sneak over to let it run free for a while.  So when the sirens came, I first ran to free ‘Lady’, to share my protection against chemical attack. So, there we sat in the sealed room, two loners, taking our chances together.

The reason I mention Iraq is because Arab response to Saddam’s belligerency, coupled with Israel’s restraint, were taken as early signals of what Shimon Peres would begin to call the ‘New Middle East’. Regardless of how foolish such thought looks in 2016, the underlying pillars of these ‘believers’ have been the central drivers of the global strategy towards Israel for the last three decades.

Within three years of Iraq, and to loud international applause, Israel was importing terrorists from Tunis. Just months later, buses were exploding in Israel’s cities. As Yitzhak Rabin sought ways to act against the rise in terror, Israel was asked to act with restraint.

International applause

Israel often hears international applause when it lowers its guard and is swiftly criticised when it reacts to aggression from within the new reality. In early 1995, as bus bombs in Israel threatened to unseat Rabin and the Labour party, pressure was applied on Israel to deliver the concessions to make peace with Syria. The price – the Golan Heights.  The UK Foreign Secretary in 1995 suggested ‘historic opportunities could be missed’, if the parties seeking peace were ‘over cautious’.

Imagine now, The Golan Heights being part of the catastrophe that is Syria. Rather than a minor border confrontation between states, Israel would find itself embroiled in a global strategic fight with Russia, Iran and Turkey pulling strings as 1000 different armed factions could use Israelis at target practice. In 1995 this deal was sold as a way of *ensuring* Israel’s long term security.

In 1999 Israel’s Lebanon withdrawal was marketed as a sign of weakness and as a Hezbollah success. Southern Lebanon became a terrorist fortress and the conflict in 2006 became inevitable.  When war did break out, as a sign that stupid ideas rarely die off quickly, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice described the conflict as “the birth pangs of a new Middle East”.

After Israel was heavily criticised for its reaction to attacks and rocket fire, the end of the conflict brought guarantees, set out in UN resolution 1701, about “the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon”. Today Hezbollah are considered “the most capable non-state armed group in the Middle East”. This, less than 10 years after the international community had pledged to disarm them as part of an agreement with Israel.

No rockets on Ashkelon

Gaza tells a similar tale. In 2005 when Israel dismantled all the settlements in Gaza and withdrew its forces, the action was met with international acclaim. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas described the withdrawal as an “historic and joyful day for his people”. Within weeks, rockets were being fired against Israel.

It is a simple truth. Since 1990, every time that Israel has been pushed towards making sacrifices for peace, it is rewarded with violence and an international community, that are politically incapable of following through with their promise of action or support.

Every time that ‘doom merchants’ promised attempts at peace making would only bring further violence, they were chased from the room. Yitzchak Rabin, suggested the Likud were scared only ‘of peace’ and promising there would be no rockets from Gaza (in Hebrew). These failures, persistent, repetitive failures, they form the central pillars of those determined to prove peace is within reach, however much the reality argues against them.

Cause to fight

Outgoing Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon acknowledges anti-Israel Bias at UN, yet there are no lessons learned from such an admission.  The UN, has perpetuated rather than sought a solution to the Israel /Arab conflict. Some times, for people involved in conflict “war is a safer bet“.  Conflict resolution expert James Schear in 1997:
“Peace, on the other hand, is a leap into the unknown. It involves bargaining concessions, contingent exchanges of promises that can come undone. . . . Most of all peace involves loss of political control and cohesion. It tends to dissolve the glue that cements wartime coalitions together whether on the political left in El Salvador or among the non-communists in Cambodia or as we see today among the nationalist Serbs in Bosnia.”
Now consider Israel. The coalition, or rather industry, that has an interest in perpetuating the conflict around Israel is huge and sustains hundreds of thousands of people. All dependent on there not being peace. What would the reality of millions be, including the ‘refugees’ in places like Lebanon, were this to be settled?
A Palestinian state would be a pauper state. Forgotten, unmentioned and dependent without cause. Today they are on everyone’s lips, on everyone’s top table, the first item on every agenda. Peace would bring reality, political and economic oblivion. Conflict brings the illusion of cohesion, peace only promises internal factions fighting amongst themselves. What price then, a low intensity conflict that claims so few lives and sustains so many?

Aleppo, Syria

Which brings us back to Aleppo.  In the reality of a brutal world, Aleppo is what happens when the international community cannot agree on a response to humanitarian disaster. When strategic aims of the global powers differ. Israel lives in a global world that shifts quickly. Help doesn’t come and self-interest drives all diplomacy. Massacres of civilians, however large, cannot be addressed if strategic differences exist. Ambassadors are still shot at point blank range, lorries are driven at people shopping for Christmas. The veneer of control is an illusion.

Suggestions of peace are empty talk made against the backdrop of a moment in time. An unseen tsunami may be on the way even as the pressure to make concessions is applied. Long term strategic planning is undertaken by those who foolishly think history is predictable when viewed forwards.Today’s powers, today’s friends, cannot promise anything for tomorrow.

It is far more logical, far more supported, to suggest that in the next 50 years, millions of innocent people will die in conflict and the world will just shrug its shoulders, than to suggest a new era of peace is coming.

AUSA's Five Things: A Weekly Tip Sheet for AUSA Members
1 Mostly Under 30
The average age of Regular Army soldiers is 29 years, two months, 12 days and 22 hours, according to the Defense Department’s 2015 demographic profile. Officers average just over 35 years of age, while enlisted members are just under 28 years old. Army National Guard and Army Reserve troops are older, on average. The average age in the Guard is just under 30, and the Army Reserve has an average age of slightly more than 32.
What to watch: Slightly younger on average than those in the Air Force but older than those in the Navy and Marine Corps, the average age of soldiers has changed only a few months in the last 15 years, and there is no reason to think the trend will not continue.

2 UAS Extended Reach
The MQ1-C Gray Eagle, the unmanned combat aerial vehicle that has become an important aviation asset, has been limited to about 30 hours of flying at 150 knots at an altitude of about 29,000 feet, a considerable distance for a medium-altitude aircraft. A newer version with extended range and more payload capacity is in flight testing.

What to watch: The Gray Eagle is proving useful in Operation Inherent Resolve, which is why the Army continues to budget for more of the aircraft. Deliveries of new vehicles are planned through 2018.
3 Veterans Recommend Military Service
Veterans and their families are more likely than current service members and their families to recommend that their children join the military, according to a survey conducted by Blue Star Families, a nonprofit organization. Fifty-seven percent of veteran families would recommend military service only to their children while 57 percent of active-duty families would not recommend serving in the military to their children.
What to watch: An unusual wrinkle in the survey found 66 percent of active-duty families would recommend military service for other people’s children, just not their own.
4 Big Test Drive Coming

A hydrogen fuel cell vehicle known as the ZH2, unveiled in October at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition, holds the promise of almost silent operation, reduced pollution and less maintenance because of fewer moving parts and low heat transmission. Based on a stretched chassis of the Chevrolet Colorado pickup, the vehicle is the product of joint development by General Motors and the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center.

What to watch: Army field testing of the vehicle is expected in the spring to see how it operates on various terrain and also to get feedback from soldiers.
5 Installations of the Future

Aging installations are a problem for the Army. Most facilities are 35 to 40 years old, requiring significant expense for upkeep. The Army expects to depend on contractors to provide much of the support.

What to watch: Technology could be the friend of installation managers in the future, especially for controlling heating and air conditioning systems. Embracing smart technology, though, will add to the complexity and the Army anticipates problems keeping pace with new technology.

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