PART II: Michael Rubin on Obama: ‘He is Constructing an Imaginary Iran’

unnamed1-640x480Breitbart, by Adelle Nazarian, April 17, 2015:

Breitbart’s Adelle Nazarian had the opportunity to speak with renowned Middle East expert and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Dr. Michael Rubin recently. Dr. Rubin provided his analysis on U.S.-Iran relations under the Obama Administration and provided a look into the future through the periscope of the past.

This is Part II of a two-part series. For the first installment, click here.

BREITBART: Why didn’t the Obama administration look back at Khomeini’s letter from 1988 calling for nuclear weapons and compare it to Khamenei’s supposed nuclear fatwa today when approaching the nuclear talks?

RUBIN: You’ve got a situation where the Obama Administration is cherry picking dishonestly. And frankly, if Obama acted this way as a university professor, he would be dismissed. He is constructing an imaginary Iran. Take the case of the fatwa.

Does the fatwa actually exist? According to open source center there was something delivered in 2014 that purports to  be the text of the fatwa to the United Nations. But in that text — according to the open source center of the United States — it doesn’t use the word “never.”

Here’s another problem. It’s Diplomacy 101 to know that you don’t rely on anything that’s not written down. Even with North Korea, we got the North Koreans and the Americans to agree on a piece of paper.

I’m not sure John Kerry is even competent to negotiate with a 5-year-old over chocolate or vanilla ice cream. I mean how could you not get something in writing? It’s the same thing with Obama and the fatwa. Get it in writing. How come Obama can’t put this up on the White House website? He puts up everything else.

BREITBART: Is it true that a fatwa, either verbalized or written, can be changed at any time?

RUBIN: Yes. It can. And Obama is operating in a vacuum.

It’s like Groundhog Day. In 2003, Mohammaed Javad Zarif negotiated with the Americans with regard to non-interference in Iraq. According to the Iranian press, the Iranians proceeded to break that agreement and inserted 2,000 Revolutionary Guardsmen into Iraq.

Now the question is, did Zarif lie? Or was he sincere but he didn’t have the power to ensure that all aspects of the Iranian government would abide by the agreement? And why is it that, 12 years later, we’re having the same discussion about the same man? Either Zarif is a liar, in which case we never should have sat down with him again. Or he’s powerless and a conman, in which case we should have never sat down with him again.

There is a major misconception under the current administration– with Obama and Kerry– that it was due to a lack of diplomacy under the Bush Administration that the number of centrifuges skyrocketed in Iran.

#1: Between 2000-2005, the European Union almost tripled its trade with Iran and sat down with them regularly. That directly corresponds to the rapid increase in Iranian centrifuges. It was because of diplomacy, not because of coercion.

#2. During that same period, the price of oil almost quintupled and the bulk of hard-currency windfall went into Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. That was under the so-called “reformists,” and this is why the so-called reformists like to claim that they are responsible for the success of the nuclear program. But this raises questions about why Obama would again repeat the same issue.

The Iranian economy, according to Iran’s Central Bank, had declined 5.4% in the year before we sat down to negotiate the joint plan of action. Now, Iran’s economy is in the black because we’ve given them an infusion of cash. But if we hadn’t given them that infusion of cash in conjunction with the halving of the price of oil, then we could literally force Iran to drink from the chalice of poison.

Those were the words that Khomeini said when he ended the Iran-Iraq War after swearing he would never do it until Jerusalem was liberated.

Giving someone $12 billion is not forcing them to drink from a chalice of poison. What Obama did was the equivalent to giving a five-year-old dessert first and then asking him to eat his spinach.

BREITBART: What has to be done strategically to stop Iran from expansion?

RUBIN: It’s the same thing with Putin and any other expansionist dictators. The more you appease, the more you show that your red lines are drawn in pink crayon and the more they are going to test you. What we forget is when Iran tested the U.S. under Reagan, Reagan responded with Operation Praying Mantis. He sank the Iranian Navy which gave way to a joke from that time. “Why does the Iranian Navy have glass bottomed-boats? So they can see their air force as well.”

Operation Praying Mantis was the largest surface naval engagement since WWII and it taught the Iranians that you don’t mess with the United States. Obama doesn’t understand that the Middle East isn’t a neighborhood to organize. He doesn’t understand that he’s the leader of the free world and not a zoning commissioner. In effect, the bad guys are running all over him. And the problem is, he’s too naive or too arrogant to care.

BREITBART: Should the next President of the United States of America be an expert on Iranian issues?

RUBIN: What you need in a presidential candidate is not someone that knows the Iran issue inside and out. What you need is someone that is true to their values, can provide moral leadership, is not afraid of moral clarity and understands the following:

#1. The importance of individual liberty, because individual liberty is a character which no dictatorship can withstand. You need someone who isn’t afraid of understanding that we should not live in a morally and culturally equivalent world.

#2. The United States is not the equal to countries like Iran or Russia. We are their moral superiors and as such it is important that we win and our adversaries lose. It’s important that freedom and liberty triumph.

You don’t need to be an expert in Iran to understand that. But you need to be someone who is not going to calibrate their foreign policy to the latest poll. Principles have to trump polls and I think that’s where Bush and Clinton are going to be disasters.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz

EXCLUSIVE: Michael Rubin: Obama Enabling Iran in Middle East, Economic Coercion Is the Answer

unnamed1-640x480Breitbart’s Adelle Nazarian had the opportunity to speak with renowned Middle East expert and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Dr. Michael Rubin recently. Dr. Rubin provided his analysis on U.S.-Iran relations under the Obama Administration and provided a look into the future through the periscope of the past.

He is the author of Dancing With the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes and a former Pentagon official. With a June 30 deadline for a final nuclear deal swiftly approaching, Rubin draws upon heightened concerns surrounding President Obama’s destructive handling of this most pivotal moment in international relations and national security with regard to U.S.-Iranian relations.

BREITBART NEWS: Do you think President Obama, John Kerry and the American team of negotiators were aware of how the Iranians operated?

RUBIN: No. I honestly think they were in a bubble and they were also blinded by their own personal ambition. Obama is arrogant. He thinks that all the problems with diplomacy were because of his predecessors rather than with his adversaries. Therefore, he has repeatedly gotten us into trouble with dictators and rogue regimes like Russia ad now Iran. They play the United States.

Obama is willfully naive and he doesn’t understand that evil exists in the world and that it wants to destroy the United States.

BREITBART: Considering he has former NIAC employee Sahar Nowrouzzadeh and Valerie Jarrett advising him, wouldn’t you think he would be better prepared to deal with the Iranians?

RUBIN: He surrounds himself with people who tell him what he wants to hear. But a low-level and a c-staffer is hardly someone that you could say advises the president accurately.

BREITBART: Many in the media and on the left have suggested that the conservatives see war and bombing Iran as the only option should the nuclear deal fail. What viable alternatives could you offer?

RUBIN: That’s just such nonsense and what we see is that, when it comes to diplomacy, the only people who you can trust are the conservatives. President Obama likes to credit sanctions — both United Nations sanctions and otherwise — despite the fact that he was consistently against sanctions whenever he had the chance. He’s too busy making John Bolton into a straw cartoon to recognize that John Bolton was the man who crafted the Untied Nations sanctions.

And whether it was John Bolton as under secretary of state or ambassador to the United Nations, it was Bolton who rallied the international community and gave us unanimous or near-unanimous U.N. security council resolutions that ultimately brought Iran to its knees.

BREITBART: So what do we do with Iran?

RUBIN: Economic coercion. When Hillary Clinton came into office as secretary or state she almost lectured Republicans and said, if you’re not going to talk to your enemies, who are you going to talk to? And she cited Ronald Reagan who sat down with Mikhail Gorbachev to end the Cold War. But she didn’t understand the importance of leverage to Reagan.

Reagan had prefaced his diplomacy with Gorbachev with a military buildup in order to negotiate from a position of strength. In order to bring Iran to the table and have them adhere to their international agreements, you have to maximize your leverage. Obama agreed to give Iran $11.9 billion in sanctions relief in unfrozen assets just to sit at the table and talk to the American team.

To put this in perspective, the annual, official budget of the Revolutionary Guard is about $5.6 billion. In order to get the Iranians to sit at the table, Obama gave Iran enough money to pay the salaries of a group responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans for two years.

BREITBART: It has been suggested that up to $150 billion in frozen Iranian assets could be released to the Iranian regime. Would this guarantee the regime’s longevity?

RUBIN: Yes. The Soviet Union ultimately fell due to an unstable economy. The analogy would be that, instead of bankrupting the Soviet Union, Ronald Reagan decided to flood them with cash. What Obama is doing with the potential release of those funds, is taking a hateful, racist regime and throwing it a lifeline.

The IRGC dominates the Iranian economy. The revolutionary foundation and what’s called Khatam al-Andia control perhaps 40% of Iran’s economy, including anything involved with import and export. So rather than allowing reformism to flourish inside of Iran, the net impact of the rush to do business inside Iran and to bring Iranian oil into the market will be to empower the Revolutionary Guard even further. It would allow them to consolidate control.

The IRGC is involved with the military aspects of the nuclear program, which of course aren’t included in this framework yet. And they are also in charge of export of revolution. And we see that this isn’t mere rhetoric when we look at what is happening in Gaza and Yemen. Simply put, if Obama and his national security team were to sit down and ask themselves what a strategy to enable Iran’s destabilizing influence in the Middle East would look like– I hate to say it, but it would not look any different from the strategy they are now pursuing.

BREITBART: What are the Iranian mullah’s plans in the region? Now that not only Tehran but Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and even Sanaa are under their control, what is their ultimate goal?

RUBIN: This is something else Obama simply doesn’t understand or he ignores. Iran is not a status quo state. It is an ideological revisionist state. Its goal is to export revolution. Ordinary Iranians may not subscribe to this, but in any dictatorship it’s the guys with the guns that matter. And in this case, the Iranians used to describe themselves as a regional power. Then about four years ago, they began describing themselves as a pan-regional power, meaning the Persian Gulf and the North Indian Ocean.

Well, this past November they started talking about themselves in terms of having strategic boundaries in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf of Aden. And again, we see that this wasn’t mere rhetoric when we look at the weapons shipments to Syria and to Hamas. And when we look at Iranian activities in Yemen.

BREITBART: Is it then safe to say that Iran’s goal is not very different from the goal of ISIS, which is to establish an Islamic Caliphate and regional hegemony, except that they have two different fundamental Islamic ideologies?

RUBIN: Correct.

BREITBART: What do you think will happen when Khamenei passes away?

RUBIN: We only have one example of this happening before and that was when Khomeini died. On paper, you have an 86-member particle body called the Assembly of Experts which decides who replaces him. In reality, from 1989 we know thats not the case. What happened in 1989 with Khomeini’s death was that all the power centers got together and basically came to a consensus. That consensus was Khamenei.

Now who that consensus figure will be, I don’t know. But it is possible to have a council. And that is the Iranian way of kicking the can down the road. But this is what concerns me; and this is also where Obama’s outreach is so short-sighted. Any strategy which empowers the Revolutionary Guard gives the Revolutionary Guard additional powers to impose its will as the next choice. After all, if they’re powerful, they’re not going to subordinate themselves to someone with whom they disagree.

The important thing about this is you have a cycle of radicalization in which the supreme leader picks the most radical, ideologically pure officers to staff the highest levels of the Revolutionary Guard. Those same officers then have predominant influence in choosing the next supreme leader. And so President Obama is not only pursuing a deal which is bad for the United States and Iranians in the short term. He is pursuing a deal which is going to perpetuate this radicalization for at least another generation or two.

Beyond Bombing Iraq: Obama Needs an ISIS Strategy

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Obama’s willingness to reengage in Iraq is admirable, but until he crafts a coherent strategy, he will be doing little more than using American pilots to kick the can down the road.

By Michael Rubin:

During his weekly radio address on August 9, President Barack Obama explained his decision to launch airstrikes on Iraq. First, he said, American airpower was necessary to keep the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) from sweeping into Erbil, where many American diplomats, officials and businessmen reside, and second, he declared force necessary to provide humanitarian relief for displaced Yezidi stranded and besieged on a mountaintop. Obama, however, cautioned that military power could not alone resolve the situation. “There’s no American military solution to the larger crisis there,” he said, urging “Iraqi communities to reconcile, come together and fight back against these terrorists.” Fine words, but they reveal more confusion than clarity in the White House about Iraq, ISIS and the nature of terrorism.

In 2005, Robert Pape published a seminal book, Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, which argued against the backdrop of 9/11’s aftermath that it was grievance—specifically, occupation and the quartering of troops among resentful populations—and not religion that primarily motivated terrorism. Subsequent studies found Pape’s statistics massaged and questioned his conclusions, but Pape’s thesis remains popular among both diplomats and academics. After all, it is comforting to see terrorism as rooted in grievance because that means that diplomacy, incentive or compromise can resolve such conflicts. Unfortunately, however, ideology remains the key motivator for Islamist terrorism. Forget poverty or lack of education: most suicide bombers are educated and middle class. Nor can forcing concessions or seeking compromise work when uncompromising Islamist ideology is the problem: In an ideal world, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki might have been more magnanimous toward Sunni tribal leaders, but no matter how many concessions he might have given, it would not have changed the murderous ideology and outlook of ISIS.

It is an irony of Washington that those who consider themselves most sensitive to multiculturalism and diversity ignore the fact that different peoples think in different ways. Reconciliation may be a worthy goal, but it is important to recognize that many in the Middle East do not interpret reconciliation in the same manner as do Americans. While South Africa’s “Truth and Reconciliation” Commission is a model American diplomats may recommend, many in the Middle East associate reconciliation with Manichean notions of justice: Instead of “truth and reconciliation,” think “truth and execution.”

While Obama’s reengagement in Iraq is a welcome acknowledgement that the price of Iraq’s failure would undercut American security interests, cognitive dissonance also infuses Obama’s recent remarks. U.S. administrations often compartmentalize problems. They develop one Iran policy, another Iraq policy and a separate Syria policy, each independent of the other. There is no grand strategy. But when Al Qaeda and offshoots like ISIS operate in countries, they conduct not traditional insurrections, but rather transnational insurgencies. American strategy, however, remains constrained by borders. If the United States is to be effective, Obama should explain why he is taking action in Iraq, but not in Syria. After all, ISIS conducts the same atrocities in both countries. Nor is it clear why Obama would act to protect the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Erbil, but not Baghdad. Maliki and Iraqi Kurdish president Massoud Barzani are mirror images of each other: Both countenance corruption and seek to rule beyond their mandate. With tanks and pro-Maliki security forces taking up positions across Baghdad yesterday, diplomats may fret at Maliki’s decision to seek a third term, but they forget that Barzani addressed a constitutional two-term limit simply by extending his second term beyond its legal limit.

Read more at The National Interest

Michael Rubin (@mrubin1971) is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Also see:

BREITBART EXCLUSIVE: EXPERT INTERVIEW: ‘WE CAN FORGET ABOUT IRAQ, BUT IRAQ ISN’T GOING TO FORGET ABOUT US”

 

Anthony Furey – Israel battles Hamas

Published on Jul 9, 2014 by AlohaSnackbar01

Anthony Furey and guest Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute discuss the Islamofascist attacks on Israel and the Left’s support for the former.

Dancing with the Devil

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Many books have been written about the cost of war. Far fewer have been written about the cost of diplomacy.

Diplomacy, diplomats assume, is always a good thing. There can be no harm in talking to an enemy. Talking, talking and then talking some more. It’s the myth that Obama has built his entire foreign policy around, broadcasting his eagerness for unconditional dialogue with totalitarian states, and it is a myth that Michael Rubin challenges with a combination of hard facts, historical accounts and bigger ideas in Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes.

Despite the presence of “Rogue Regimes” in the title, a favorite buzzword of the post-Cold War diplomatic establishment, Rubin analyzes and challenges the term “rogue” and many of the other comforting clichés of modern diplomacy whose real goal is to avoid coming to terms with reality.

The biggest of these clichés is that talking is a sign of progress. As Rubin demonstrates, enemy states use diplomacy to buy time or intimidate an opponent as summed up in the famous aphorism about diplomacy being the art of saying nice doggie while picking up a rock. Except we’re the doggie and the rock is radioactive.

In Dancing with the Devil, Rubin shows how totalitarian states like North Korea, Iraq and Iran used negotiations as levers for achieving their own goals without giving up anything in return. Totalitarian states have learned that a combination of diplomacy with aggressive threats leads to a rewards cycle as Western diplomats struggle to sustain diplomacy with more generous concessions of appeasement.

For Western diplomats, success means bringing an enemy to the negotiating table and keeping him there, but as Rubin’s book quotes Kissinger as saying in regard to negotiations with the USSR, “When talks become their own objective, they are at the mercy of the party most prepared to break them off.”

That is the phenomenon that we are seeing in the latest round of negotiations between Israel and PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas who has to be bribed with an escalating series of freebies just to stay at the negotiating table to negotiate the pre-negotiating process.

It was also the response of Obama to any talk of sanctions on Iran as the negotiations process became something that Iran offered as a reward to America in exchange for ‘good’ behavior… instead of the other way around.

Diplomats take the grievances of totalitarian states seriously and seek to appease them which only encourages them to cultivate further grievances. Rather than stabilizing the conflict, appeasement further escalates it as totalitarian states find more things to be angry about and more grievances to threaten war over.

Western diplomats, Rubin writes, are content to negotiate endlessly and to treat these serial negotiations as signs of success. Enemy diplomats however want instant benefits for their regime while offering worthless long term promises that they intend to break at the first opportunity having learned that this will only lead to more negotiations. They can’t lose and we can’t win.

Rogues continue to “go rogue” while negotiating with multilateralists. The multilateral diplomacy fetish perversely punishes fellow mulilateralists while rewarding rogues thereby incentivizing rogue behavior and disincentivizing membership in the multilateral club.

Western governments that commit to the diplomatic route become practiced at ignoring threats and aggressive activities as mere “provocations” so that Obama’s interlocutors dismiss Iran’s threats of war as a negotiating strategy rather than statements of intent.

Rubin documents how Russian espionage under Obama in 2010 was quickly resolved by releasing the spies to avoid disrupting the ephemeral “reset”. Bill Clinton ordered a cover up of the Khobar Towers bombing to avoid ruining diplomatic outreach to Iran. Arafat’s links to terrorism were likewise covered up to avoid the end of foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority and the end of the peace process.

By positioning war and diplomacy as opposites on a spectrum representing a range from hostility to peace, the false perception was maintained that any move toward negotiations was also a move away from war. Negotiations however are not the opposite of conflict. Sometimes they are an extension of it.

As Chinese Communist leader Zhou Enlai said, “All diplomacy is a continuation of war by other means.”

*****

The final cost of diplomacy may be military, but the first cost of diplomacy is moral as Western countries look the other way at the abuses and atrocities of the tyrannies they are engaging diplomatically.

Rubin points out that Iran actually began executing more people during Clinton and Obama’s bouts of outreach to the Islamist theocracy in its so-called moderate phases. Bill Clinton ignored Assad’s bloody track record in the hopes of getting him into a peace process with Israel.

Negotiations with totalitarian states don’t save lives. They cost lives. They cost honor. And they take away the peace that might have been possible and substitute for it a state of endless negotiated war.

Obama’s foreign policy has demonstrated once again the timeless truth that appeasement does not secure peace.

Read more at Front Page

Terror Tweets

Omar-Hammami-YouTube

Omar-Hammami-YouTube

BY:

Twitter and YouTube accounts claiming to be operated by a suspected al Qaeda terrorist who is listed on the FBI’s most wanted list have been disseminating jihadi propaganda, according to terrorism experts.

A user claiming to be Omar Hammami, an American citizen who joined forces with the al Qaeda-aligned al-Shabaab terror group in 2006, has been tweeting about “martyrdom” and U.S.-led operations against terror cells in Africa via his Twitter account, “abu m.”

The 102 users who follow the virtual Hammami, who is also known as Abu Mansoor al-Amriki, have access to an ongoing stream of unfiltered radical thoughts and possible tips about clandestine U.S. operations taking place in Somalia, where al-Shabaab is based.

Users are also directed to view a YouTube page, which features videos about jihad starring Hammami sitting before al-Shabaab’s black war flag and an automatic weapon.

Hammami’s purported social media presence has raised red flags among terrorism experts who cite both YouTube and Twitter for promoting such radical figures.

“It’s pretty outrageous that someone on the FBI’s most wanted list can communicate on a Twitter page and a YouTube account and no one has removed it,” said Steven Salinsky, executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

Twitter spokesman Jim Prosser told the Washington Free Beacon that the organization does not “comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons.”

He also cautioned “against reporting an account’s ownership with such certainty unless you’ve independently verified it with the supposed owner themselves or they have a Verified account,” meaning that Twitter has confirmed the user’s identity.

Critics of the social media sites said that even if the account in not operated by Hammami, the sites should proactively take steps to remove users who post terror-related material.

“If you look at the words, it’s singular voice of ‘I’ when referring to questions and he has a long history of being on these jihadi forums,” Salinsky said. “He definitely communicates and even if it’s not him, it’s pretending to be a terrorist. So are they afraid to remove the page of someone who says they’re a terrorist, who a few months ago was put on the FBI most wanted list?

“It says a lot about a company when they will close a user account for violating some vague notion of political correctness or criticizing the excesses of militant Islamism, but will open their floodgates to calls for genocide and incitement to mass murder,” said Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser who has written extensively on terrorists.

The Twitter user claiming to be Hammami routinely engages with a wide variety of Twitter users who reach out to him for insights or advice about al-Shabaab and its terrorist activities. He was placed on the FBI’s most wanted list in mid-November.

Al-Shabaab also has an official and highly active Twitter account.

As of Friday afternoon Hammami’s supposed account was still active, with his last tweet being sent out on Monday.

MEMRI has reported extensively on Hammami’s sophisticated social media use.

Twitter has long treaded a fine line between free speech and the promotion of terror-related activities.

Read more at Free Beacon