Bill Katz: THE RESET BUTTON HAS POPPED OUT
When Obama came to town he made much of his "reset" of relations with Moscow. Indeed, Secretary Clinton even presented the Russian foreign minister with a little model of a "reset" button to mark the new day.
A funny thing happened to the reset button on the way to being pressed. It popped out. There is no reset. The Kremlin, under Vladimir Putin, is increasingly hard-line in its relations with the U.S. And it is putting on traditional show-of-forces demos for us to plainly see. From ace defense reporter Bill Gertz in the Washington Free Beacon:
Russian strategic nuclear bombers threatened U.S. airspace near Alaska earlier this month and F-15 jets responded by intercepting the aircraft taking part in large-scale arctic war games, according to defense officials.
The Russian war games began the same day President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a frosty summit meeting in Mexico June 18.
U.S. officials said the arctic exercises over the Russian Far East and Pacific appeared to be a further sign of Russia’s hardening posture toward the United States.
The Obama administration made no protest of the bomber intrusions, according to the officials, in line with its conciliatory “reset” policy of seeking warmer ties with Moscow.
About 30 strategic nuclear bombers and support aircraft took part in the war games that continued through June 25. The aircraft included Tu-95MS Bear H and Tu-160 Blackjack nuclear-capable bombers, along with Il-76 refueling tankers, A-50 airborne warning and control aircraft, and Su-27 and MiG-31 jet fighters. Some 200 troops also took part in the Russian Strategic Aviation forces exercise.
A spokesman for the joint U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense command in Colorado Springs, which monitors air defense intrusions, had no immediate comment. A Pentagon spokesman declined to comment.
U.S. and Canadian F-15 and F-16 jets were involved in the intercepts that took place near the Air Identification Zone surrounding Alaskan airspace over the northern Pacific.
The exercises are part of increasingly aggressive Russian military activities in the arctic region in both the eastern and western hemispheres, which have created security worries among governments in northern Europe and Canada.
One official said the failure to publicize the threatening bomber maneuvers might have been related to Obama’s overhead promise in March to Russian President Dmitri Medvedev of “more flexibility.”
According to the defense officials, the arctic bomber exercises are part of Russian efforts to assert control over vast areas of the arctic circle that are said to contain large mineral and oil deposits.
COMMENT: The threats to this country under Obama have increased, not decreased. And yet we are looking at cuts to our defense budget, and a general retrenchment around the world.
Russia is growing into a major power again. Don't be deceived by reports of its "weak economy." Even a weak economy, if focused on defense, can produce devastating power. The USSR fought World War II with a third-world economy, and yet defeated the Nazi armies invading its land.
And China's power is growing, despite some signs of a weakening of the Chinese economy.
Our power is not growing. We are in danger, and our president lacks the required sense of urgency.
FP: Weakness to the bully is like a red sheet to a bull.
And speaking of Russia:
Claire Berlinski: The Cold War’s Arab Spring (MUST READ)
The dominant narrative of modern Middle East history emphasizes the depredations visited upon the region by European colonization and accepts as a truism that the former colonial powers prioritized the protection of their material interests—in oil, above all—above the dignity and self-determination of the region’s inhabitants. Thus did botched decolonization result in endless instability. The most intractable of the regional conflicts to which this gave rise, that between the Arabs and Israelis, is attributed in this narrative to Israel’s unwillingness to accede to Palestinian national aspirations. Thus did the region become a breeding ground for radicalism, intensified by Cold War rivalry between the superpowers, who replaced the European colonizers as the region’s meddling overlords. Then came Mikhail Gorbachev—a Westernizing reformer. At last, the Cold War was over. A new world order was at hand.
What if this conventional wisdom is nonsense? Russian exile Pavel Stroilov argues just this in his forthcoming book, Behind the Desert Storm. “Not a word of it is true,” he writes. “It was the Soviet Empire—not the British Empire—that was responsible for the instability in the Middle East.”
Stroilov’s book about these documents, many only now translated into English, challenges the conventional wisdom that Western colonialists are to blame for the chaos in the region. All of its major conflicts, he argues, were caused by Soviet expansionism. Terrorism and the rabid anti-Israeli animus of the Arab world were Soviet inspirations. And the revolutions we are seeing now were inevitable, for the Soviet client states were socialist regimes, and sooner or later socialism exhausts economies and thus the patience of the people who live in them.
Stroilov focuses upon Gorbachev’s intrigues in the Middle East, explaining the Arab Spring as the “final act of the Cold War.” This thesis is overstated—Stroilov is a bit too enamored of his own collection to admit the complexity of these events—but there is nonetheless much in his archives to support this description. The documents clearly suggest that many contemporary conflicts in the Middle East were fomented by the Soviet empire, particularly in the final years before its break-up. And the events he describes have had a significant impact upon the current state of the region—from the conflict in Iraq to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, to the development of a de facto alliance between the European Union and the Arab states. Perhaps most significantly, there is much here to suggest that it is past time to reexamine Gorbachev’s reputation as a reformer and liberalizer. Stroilov’s book suggests that in the Middle East, Gorbachev’s policy was old-school Kremlin imperialism, all the way to the end.
What, then, was Plan B? It was “the subversion and eventual destruction of Israel.”
Though not as good as the Gulf oil fields, Israel would also be a big prize. It was the only democracy in the region, the strongest military power in the pro-Western camp and, indeed, the bridgehead of the Western world. Even more importantly, the very process of crusading (or jihadding) against Israel offered fantastic political opportunities. A besieged Israel effectively meant millions of Jewish hostages in the hands of the comrades, and the threat of genocide could intimidate the West into making great concessions in the Gulf or elsewhere. On the other hand, by making the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the central problem of the Middle East, the Soviets could exploit Arab nationalism, anti-Semitism, and even Islamic religious feelings to mobilize support for their policies. Indeed, under the banner of Arab solidarity, the socialist influence in the region grew far beyond the socialist regimes and parties.
The Soviets’ proudest accomplishment of the epoch, however, was the First Intifada. In April 1988, Yasser Arafat went to Moscow to explain his plan and seek approval. “Gorbachev acknowledged that he fully understood the PLO’s ‘tactics of using different forms of struggle.’ ” Arafat was quite clear what he meant by this:
ARAFAT. We also continue the struggle in other forms, on other fronts. The armed struggle does not stop in the South of Lebanon. Artillery fire, air raids, other actions take place on daily basis.
Stroilov’s archives closely detail the Soviet mediation of secret negotiations between Washington and Baghdad during the fall of 1990. The superpowers apparently came near to agreement on rather extraordinary terms: Saddam would withdraw from Kuwait in exchange for a scheme, proposed by the Soviets, to hold a U.N.-sponsored international conference designed to result in the disarmament and dismemberment of Israel.
The documents show that George H.W. Bush agreed to that deal in principle—so long as the linkage was kept secret…
Baroness Catherine Ashton was the treasurer for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament from 1980 to 1982. The CND was notoriously secretive about its sources of funding and refused to submit its accounts to independent audit; when it was finally forced to do so under immense pressure, the auditors discovered that 38 percent of their annual income could not be traced back to the original donors. Will Howard, a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain, was responsible for this part of the fund-raising.
Baroness Ashton is now the E.U. foreign policy chief, leading negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran.
FP: Fascinating. See also Ion Mihai Pacepa: Russian Footprints (MUST READ)
In a "Say No to Satan" campaign led by Bill Keller, who claims that he is "the world's leading Internet evangelist" because of his LivePrayer.com website, Christians are pledging to write in Jesus Christ for president this November.
Within days of Keller's press release announcing the campaign, around 14,000 people signed his online pledge committing to write in their savior's name on the presidential ballot. Keller claims that the current candidates represent "a two-headed coin with Satan on both sides" and that no Christian in good conscience can vote for President Obama, who he says is a "true enemy of God," or GOP presumptive nominee Mitt Romney, who he characterizes as "a 5th generation member and a priest in the satanically inspired Mormon cult."
In just a month's time, almost 120,000 people have signed Keller's petition, according to his website (see screenshot above).
Keller proclaims, "Now is the time, this is the moment. God may be done with this nation, but His people can make our stand for righteousness, say NO to satan, and help lead this nation back to the Almighty and His Truth!!!"
FP: About the same caliber of people who elected Obama.