Monday, March 17, 2014

Welcome to the 19th Century. WSJ Editorial.

Welcome to the 19th Century. Editorial. The Wall Street Journal, March 17, 2014.

“You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext,” declared John Kerry on March 2 as Russia began its conquest of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. Though he didn’t intend it, the U.S. Secretary of State was summing up the difference between the current leaders of the West who inhabit a fantasy world of international rules and the hard men of the Kremlin who understand the language of power. The 19th-century men are winning.
Vladimir Putin consolidated his hold on Crimea Sunday by forcing a referendum with only two choices. Residents of the Ukrainian region could vote either to join Russia immediately or to do so eventually. The result was a foregone conclusion, midwifed by Russian troops and anti-Ukraine propaganda. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed Mr. Kerry's pleas for restraint on Friday in London, and Russia vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution denouncing the Crimean takeover a day later.
Next up for conquest may be eastern Ukraine. Russian troops are massed on the border, and on Saturday its soldiers and helicopter gunships crossed from Crimea and occupied a natural gas plant on the Ukrainian mainland. Scuffles and demonstrations in the eastern Ukrainian cities of Donetsk and Kharkiv, egged on by Russian agitators, could create another “trumped up pretext.”
And what is to stop Mr. Putin? In the two weeks since Russian troops occupied Crimea, President Obama and Europe have done little but threaten “consequences” that Mr. Putin has little reason to take seriously.
The U.S. has refused Ukraine’s request for urgent military aid, and it has merely sent a few NATO planes to the Baltic states and Poland. The Russian strongman might figure he’s better off seizing more territory now and forcing the West to accept his facts on the ground. All the more so given that his domestic popularity is soaring as he seeks to revive the 19th-century Russian empire.
Left in shambles are the illusions of Mr. Obama and his fellow liberal internationalists. They arrived at the White House proclaiming that the days of U.S. leadership had to yield to a new collective security enforced by “the international community.” The U.N. would be the vanguard of this new 21st-century order, and “international law” and arms-control treaties would define its rules.
Thus Mr. Obama’s initial response to Mr. Putin's Crimean invasion was to declare, like Mr. Kerry, that it is “illegal” because it violates “the Ukrainian constitution and international law.” As if Mr. Putin cares.
The 19th-century men understand that what defines international order is the cold logic of political will and military power. With American power in retreat, the revanchists have moved to fill the vacuum with a new world disorder.
Backed by Iran and Russia, Bashar Assad is advancing in Syria and may soon crush the opposition. Iran is arming the terrorist militias to the north and south of Israel. China is pressing its regional territorial claims and building its military. And Mr. Putin is blowing apart post-Cold War norms by carving up foreign countries when he feels he can.
The question now is whether Mr. Obama and his advisers will shed their 21st-century fantasies and push back against the new Bonapartes. Jimmy Carter finally awoke after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, but Mr. Obama hasn’t shown the same awareness of what is happening on his watch.
We’ve written about the need for broad economic and financial sanctions against Russia and its elites. Skeptics reply that Europe will never go along. Even if that’s true—and that would mean a failure of U.S. diplomacy—it shouldn’t deter the U.S. from imposing its own banking and financial sanctions. The world’s banks can be made to face a choice between doing business with Russia or doing business in America. We know from the Bush Administration's experience with North Korea that such sanctions bite.
The West must also meet Mr. Putin’s military aggression with a renewed military deterrent. This does not mean a strike on Russia or invading Crimea. It should mean offering military aid to Ukraine to raise the price of further Russian intervention. Above all it means reinforcing NATO to show Mr. Putin that invading a treaty ally would lead to war.
The U.S. and Europe should move quickly to forward deploy forces to Poland, the Baltic states and other front-line NATO nations. This should include troops in addition to planes and armor. Reviving an updated version of the Bush-era missile defense installation in Eastern Europe is also warranted, including advanced interceptors that could eventually be used against Russian ICBMs.
Russia’s revanchism should also finally awaken Europeans to spend more on their own defense. The 19th-century men know that nationalism isn’t dead as a mobilizing political force. Western Europe’s leaders will have to relearn this reality or their dreams of European peace will be shattered. They need more modern arms of their own in addition to America’s through NATO.
In response to the Crimean referendum Sunday, the White House issued a statement declaring that, “In this century, we are long past the days when the international community will stand quietly by while one country forcibly seizes the territory of another.” We shall see, but Mr. Obama first needs to understand that America’s adversaries reject his fanciful 21st-century rules.

Lying About Abbas Won’t Bring Peace. By Jonathan S. Tobin.

Lying About Abbas Won’t Bring Peace. By Jonathan S. Tobin. Commentary, March 17, 2014.

Obama’s Middle East fallacy. By Jackson Diehl. Washington Post, March 16, 2014. Also here.


Two weeks ago President Obama took time off from the crisis in Ukraine to pursue the foreign policy cause that, together with nuclear disarmament, has been closest to his heart: Israeli-Palestinian peace. Having invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House, Obama welcomed him by publicly declaring to Bloomberg View’s Jeffrey Goldberg that Israel “could face a bleak future — one of international isolation and demographic disaster — if [Netanyahu] refuses to endorse a U.S. drafted framework agreement for peace,” as Goldberg summed it up.
Fair enough, you might say: An April 29 deadline for obtaining agreement to the framework is getting close, so it’s time for a little presidential arm-twisting. It follows that when Mahmoud Abbas troops into the Oval Office for his meeting on Monday, he should be met with equally dire predictions of Palestinian doom if he fails to accept the framework.
So far, there’s no sign of it: no presidential interviews, no statements by Secretary of State John Kerry, no leaks of potential U.S. punitive measures if Abbas — repeating a long personal and Palestinian history — says no. Therein lies the fallacy that has hamstrung Obama’s Middle East diplomacy for the past five years.
Obama, as he made clear in the Goldberg interview, perceives Abbas as the golden key to Mideast peace — “the most politically moderate leader the Palestinians may ever have,” as Goldberg paraphrased it — and Netanyahu as the potential spoiler. “I believe that President Abbas is sincere about his willingness to recognize Israel and its right to exist,” the president said. “You’ve got a partner on the other side who is prepared to negotiate seriously ... for us not to seize this moment I think would be a great mistake.
But is Obama right about Abbas? Netanyahu, like most Israelis, doesn’t think so — and with some reason. The Palestinian president — who was elected to a four-year term in 2005 and has remained in office for five years after its expiration — turned down President George W. Bush’s request that he sign on to a similar framework in 2008. In 2010, after Obama strong-armed Netanyahu into declaring a moratorium on Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank, Abbas refused to negotiate for nine of the designated 10 months, then broke off the talks after two meetings.
Abbas agreed to Kerry’s proposal for another nine-month negotiating window last year in exchange for Israel’s release of more than 100 Palestinian prisoners, including many convicted of murdering civilians. Abbas hailed them as heroes. Then he embarked on a public campaign to deep-six the two principal provisions Israel has sought in the U.S. framework, both of which have had Washington’s support. One would allow Israeli soldiers to remain along the Palestinian-Jordanian border during an extended transition period; the other would involve Palestinian recognition that Israel is a Jewish state.
The “Jewish state” question is hard for many non-Israelis to understand: Who cares what Arabs call Israel, so long as they accept it? But for Netanyahu and his followers, the question is essential. Arab leaders have never conceded that a non-Arab state can hold a permanent place in the Middle East, they say. Until they do so, there will be no real peace, because Palestinians will keep pressing to weaken and eventually eliminate Israel’s Jewish majority.
Obama and Kerry have endorsed the Jewish-state principle; their hope was to use it to leverage Netanyahu’s acceptance of framework language stipulating that the territory of a Palestinian state would be equal to, if not exactly the same as, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Some in the Israeli media are betting that Netanyahu most likely would accept that outcome — albeit with many reservations — even at the risk of losing his right-wing governing coalition. After all, the price of saying no, repeatedly underlined by Kerry and Obama, is daunting: more boycotts, more anti-Israel initiatives at the United Nations, perhaps even another violent Palestinian uprising.
In short, Netanyahu has resigned himself to the likelihood that the U.S. framework will include provisions he’s not ready to endorse. Abbas has not. “There is no way. We will not accept,” the Palestinian news agency quoted him as saying of the Jewish-state principle on March 7. Two days later, Abbas persuaded the moribund Arab League to adopt a resolution backing him up. He’s said much the same about Israeli troops on the border.
Why does Abbas dare to publicly campaign against the U.S. and Israeli position even before arriving in Washington? Simple: “Abbas believes he can say no to Obama because the U.S. administration will not take any retaliatory measures against the Palestinian Authority,” writes the veteran Israeli-Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh. Instead, Abbas expects to sit back if the talks fail, submit petitions to the United Nations and watch the anti-Israel boycotts mushroom, while paying no price of his own.
Perhaps Obama will disabuse him of that notion at their meeting Monday. If not, another “peace process” breakdown is surely coming.

Indivisible Anti-Semitism. By Caroline Glick.

Indivisible anti-Semitism. By Caroline Glick. Jerusalem Post, March 14, 2014. Also at FrontPage Magazine.


For Europe’s elite, radical and increasingly, violent anti-Zionism has become the anti-Semitism of choice. Among other things, anti-Zionists believe that Israel is inherently illegitimate and necessarily, and purposely, evil. For them, Israel is Nazi Germany.
And supporters of Israel are for them the greatest evildoers in the world. They should be accorded no courtesy, and be treated as human scum.
This has been made clear, most vividly in recent years on college campuses where pro-Israel supporters are run off campuses, shouted off stages and barred from presenting their views.
One recent episode of this sort occurred on March 5 at the National University of Ireland, Galway, where British professor Alan Johnson tried to speak in opposition to an initiative to get the university to join the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.
A YouTube video of the event showed how a mob of BDS supporters prevented him from speaking. They shouted curses at him and his colleagues and demanded they “get the f*** off our campus!” Writing of the experience and the hate movement that stands behind it in The Times of Israel, Johnson reported that the student leading the effort to silence him is the head of NUIG’s Palestine Solidarity Society named Joseph Loughnane.

In 2008, Loughnane said, “The Jews run the American media and push their agenda.”
Johnson wrote that “the border between being radical and transgressive [toward Israel] and being anti-Semitic is now porous.”
Although accurate, Johnson’s assertion understates the problem.
Opposing Judaism and Jews, denying Jewish rights to education and ritual observance, and attacking Jews; and opposing the Jewish state, denying Jews their right to self-determination and attacking supporters of the Jewish state, are two sides of the same coin. There is no border – porous or solid between them. They are one and the same.
And all anti-Semites know it.