Sunday, June 25, 2017

Health Care Hypocrisy. Israel Will Not Tolerate Wanton Attacks. Elliot Abrams Discusses Israeli-American Relations.

More evidence regarding Iran's long term goal and working through Hezbollah. (See 1 and 1a below.)
Democrats argue the Republican health bill is a tax program to reward the wealthy and penalize the poor..

Since 50% of Americans pay no income taxes their argument is spurious because any reduction in taxes only benefits the wealthier because they are the only ones who pay taxes.  Meanwhile, the Democrats built an entire constituent base through growing entitlements so, if there is a desire to restrain our building deficits, some unsustainable health care benefits must be curtailed.

Democrats do not acknowledge Obama Care has exploded health care costs and is bankrupting the nation. They also are totally and purposely unwilling to work with Republicans on a compromise bill.

It is all politics and Democrats know Republicans now own Obamacare so their strategy is to sit on the sidelines, criticize everything Republicans do, drag their feet and hope this will cause Republicans to lose the House in 2018.

Their strategy may work but it is the height of cynicism and contempt for the health of the nation  but, as I said, that is politics at its dirtiest.

Possibly voters in 2018 will come to their senses, reject the Democrats by sending them a message they do not support their hypocrisy.

Meanwhile, the five current Republican insurrectionists need to recognize their President deserves their support and should relent in their obdurate stance.

As long as government intrudes into our personal health decisions no bill will satisfy everyone. Once again, whatever government touches it generally makes worse at a higher cost.
Israeli and American relations according to Elliot Abrams. (See 2 below.)
1) Israel Responds to Rocket Attack

Backpacker and hikers evacuated from the area. Israel will not tolerate any violation of its security on any front, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday shortly after the IDF retaliated against Syria for the firing of 10 projectiles onto the Golan Heights.

“With the IDF action today, we are making our policy clear again,” Netanyahu said. “We are not willing to accept any ‘drizzle’ [of fire] or ‘spillover’ on any front. We will react with force to any firing on our territory.”

According to Arab media sources, the IDF attack reportedly left two Syrian Army soldiers dead after Israeli Air Force jets struck tanks belonging to the regime of President Bashar Assad. It also hit another position from which one of the projectiles were fired on the Golan.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman also issued a statement saying Israel would not tolerate any breach of its sovereignty and would react forcefully even if the firing on Israel is the result of “spillover” from fighting between the rebels and the Syrian regime.

“We react with force, determination and discretion to every such incident, as the IDF did [today] on the Golan Heights. As far as we are concerned, the Assad regime is responsible for what is happening in its territory, and it will continue to bear the consequences if such events repeat themselves,” he said.

The IDF said spillover from the Syrian civil war is treated with the utmost severity and noted that it “will not tolerate any attempt to harm the sovereignty of the State of Israel and the security of its residents.”

It noted as much in a protest letter sent swiftly to UN Disengagement Observer Force following the incident.

Spillover fire from Syria this Saturday was reported by Israeli authorities less than an hour before Israel responded, the IDF confirmed.

Although no casualties or damage to property were reported in the incident, the IDF issued instructions to farmers and civilians near the Quneitra border crossing into Syria to avoid open fields.

Backpackers and hikers – who flock to the Golan at this time of year – were also evacuated from the area.

In April, Israel fired a Patriot anti-ballistic missile, reportedly intercepting a drone that entered Israel’s airspace from Syria. In February, an explosion, which occurred in open territory on the Golan Heights, led to an IDF attack on a Syrian Army post, claimed Lebanese TV network Al Mayadeen.

1a) 5 reasons why Nasrallah’s threat to use Iraq and Iran fighters against Israel is alarming

The following are five reasons that Hezbollah’s latest statement has ramifications for Israel and the region. In a startling revelation on Friday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said the next war with Israel could see thousands of Shi’ite militia fighters join forces with Hezbollah to fight Israel.

“This could open the way for thousands, even hundreds of thousands of fighters from all over the Arab and Islamic world to participate – from Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan,” he said in a television speech.

This threat marks a major development and turning point in Hezbollah’s threats against Israel. The following are five reasons that Hezbollah’s latest statement has ramifications for Israel and the region.

1. The threat confirms what security experts and commentators have predicted.

In recent years, Iran has been accused of attempting to create a route to the sea via Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. This would link Tehran with its allies in Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut. These allies include the Iraqi based Shi’ite militias called the Popular Mobilization Units (Hashd al-Shaabi), which became an official arm of the Iraqi government in 2016. Iran is also the main backer of Syria’s Bashar Assad and Hezbollah in Lebanon. It has transferred missiles and other weapons, as well as training and technology to Hezbollah.

As Iran’s influence grew in the region and it strengthened its relations and power in Iraq and Syria, it seemed destined to control a swath of territory that would provide a physical link by land to the sea. Although Israeli and foreign experts warned about this “road to the sea,” few Iranian or Hezbollah officials discussed it openly. After Syrian regime soldiers reached the Iraqi border near Tanf and the Popular Mobilization Units reached the Syrian border near Sinjar earlier this month, the ability of a physical “link-up” came closer to being fulfilled.

2. Hezbollah’s threat builds on the model used in Syria.

In Syria, a weakened regime has relied on foreign soldiers, many of them recruited by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah’s fighters, to bolster its manpower shortages in the six-year war to defeat the rebellion. These include thousands of recruits from Shi’ite Hazara communities in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

When Nasrallah specifically mentioned Afghanistan and Pakistan he was referencing the recruits that helped prop up Assad. Hezbollah has suffered thousands of casualties in Syria and it knows in any war with Israel it lacks the manpower to fight the IDF. It makes up for that with a missile threat of some 100,000 missiles.

By bringing together an alliance of Shi’ite militias throughout the region, Hezbollah hopes to make up for its losses in the Syrian conflict and use the successful model that saved Assad to save Hezbollah in any future war with Israel.

3. Nasrallah wants to drag Israel into a regional war with multiple states and provoke Russia and the US.

Now Nasrallah is indicating that any war with Israel will involve frontlines in Syria and Lebanon and that it has strategic depth that it never had in Lebanon, which is a small country, by relying on Shi’ite militia allies from far and wide and the vastness of Syria and Iraq.

Hezbollah wants to drag Israel into a large conflict spanning a crescent from Beirut to Tehran, where Israel’s advantages, such as its air force and technology, will be less useful. Israel will be forced to contend with striking Hezbollah allies in Syria, Iraq and potentially Iran and Yemen, leading to a regional conflict. Hezbollah hopes Israel would be dragged into attacking the Syrian regime that would provoke Russia. A previously acknowledged Israeli raid near Palmyra was challenged by Syrian air defenses.

Russian “de-confliction” with Israel that has worked well near the Golan would not necessarily exist for Israel if it had to deal with enemies deeper in Syria. Similarly the US would oppose any Israeli military activity confronting Shi’ite militias in Iraq, who are part of the Iraqi government, which is allied with the US. The US has invested heavily in Baghdad’s central government and its Prime Minister Haider Abadi. Involvement of Iraq’s Shi’ites militias in a conflict with Israel would strain relations with Washington.

4. Nasrallah is engaged in a war of words with Israel.

Israeli politicians and generals have been in a war of words with Hezbollah in the last few months, trying to stave off a conflict. At the Herzliya Conference at the Interdisciplinary Center IAF Commander Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel said on Wednesday that the Israel Air Force could crush Hezbollah in 48 hours. He said Israel would do more damage in 48 hours than it did in 34 days in the 2006 Lebanon war.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett said in March that a war with Hezbollah would involve all of Lebanon because Hezbollah is so deeply entwined with the Lebanese state.

Hezbollah has responded to these threats with threats of its own. Because Israel claims it can destroy Hezbollah infrastructure in Lebanon, Nasrallah is indicating that such a war won’t be so easy or go according to Israel’s plans.

The “surprise” in store for Israel, Nasrallah claims, is that up to 100,000 or more fighters will come from afar to aid Hezbollah. These numbers are likely exaggerated since the Revolutionary Guards has only been able to recruit 30,000 fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan to fight in Syria, and there are only 100,000 members of the Popular Mobilization Units in Iraq, they can’t all be brought to the Golan to help Hezbollah. But even a small contingent of fighters coming from Iraq and Iran complicates a war with Hezbollah.

5. A silver lining? Will the US wake up to the Shi’ite militia threat in Iraq and will Nasrallah’s comments bring Israel closer to Saudi Arabia?

The bombastic threats from Beirut mean Israel’s common interests with Sunni Arab powers, such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia, are once again reinforced. Nasrallah’s mention of Yemen puts Israel on the same side as these governments who are fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen, which are allied with Iran and Hezbollah.

The US supports the Iraqi government, which includes Shi’ite militias and which is close to Tehran. The statements by Nasrallah reveal the reality of the Iranian threat of a “road to the sea” and should encourage US policy makers to see the implications of the powerful Popular Mobilization Units in Iraq. This means the US may finally wake up to the danger that Iranian influence in Iraq and beyond means in the post-Islamic State era that is forming.

Israeli policy makers and experts who have been warning the US about Iran for years, may find more open ears in Washington in the wake of Nasrallah’s comments.
2) U.S.-Israel Relations in the Trump Era
A briefing by Elliott Abrams

Elliott Abrams, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, served as deputy national security advisor under George W. Bush, supervising White House policy for the Middle East. Mr. Abrams briefed the Middle East Forum in a conference call on May 30, 2017.

Unlike past U.S. presidents' "inside out" approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict (i.e., resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would lead to wider Arab-Israeli peace), Trump has subscribed to the "outside in" strategy whereby improved Israeli-Arab relations could broker an Israeli-Palestinian deal.

This approach has its merit given the strong convergence of interests between Israel and the Sunni Arab states vis-à-vis the Iranian-led Shiite threat. Yet the covert relationship between Israel and the Gulf Arab states is highly fragile and might well be derailed should the negotiations bog down over such issues as Jerusalem and the "right of return."

Nor do the Arab states have the ability to goad the Palestinians into an agreement at all costs. The tragedy of the Palestinian people has been their leaders' adamant rejection of compromise, and Mahmoud Abbas is no exception to this rule. With the Palestinian population in the territories brainwashed into ineradicable hatred for Israelis and Jews, Abbas would not risk being branded a traitor, especially when the legitimacy of his presidency has been largely eroded over the years.

Elliott Abrams
This in turn makes the Palestinian Authority (PA) more interested in evading blame for the likely failure of the peace process than in bringing it to fruition. This, however, may not be such a negative development.

Since the prospective Palestinian state is bound to be a failed and repressive entity, and a permanent danger to its Israeli and Jordanian neighbors, a two-state solution should not necessarily be touted as the only desirable and acceptable solution.

As the administration publicly embraces the PA as a peace partner, it risks confrontation with Congress over the Taylor Force Act, now supported by the Israeli government.

At a time when a growing number of Western governments (e.g., Britain, Norway, Denmark) are willing to openly criticize the PA's incitement and terror glorification, it is important for 
Washington, at the very least, to take this position and squeeze the PA, whose survival depends on foreign aid, to desist from this reprehensible practice.Memorializing a U.S. soldier murdered by Palestinian terrorists while touring Israel, the act would defund the PA for its relentless anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement, terror glorification, and making payments to terrorists and their families.

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