The Five Worst Foreign Policy Statements at Last Night’s GOP Debates

AP_153485696464-640x427Breitbart, by Frances Martel, Aug. 7, 2015:

As Republicans wake up from their first taste of a crowded and extremely accomplished field of 2016 candidates, many will praise the candidates for what will likely be remembered as one of the more substantive and combative debates in recent memory.

As foreign policy tends to be one of the issues on which Republicans agree the most– Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) notwithstanding– it serves as one of the best metrics for which to judge aspiring presidential candidates. After all, they will mostly be saying the same thing, so judging them on how they say it results much easier. While the candidates were much more eager to discuss immigration and the economy last night, viewers did get a taste of the urgency of the Republican Party to tackle radical Islamist terrorism. Some, like former Hewlett Packard executive Carly Fiorina, excelled by virtue of proposing real initiatives to combat both conventional and cyber-terrorism. Others, mostly thanks to a frustrating lack of specificity, floundered.

Below, the five most disappointing comments in both of Fox News’ Republican debates last night.

5. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX):

What we need is a commander in chief that makes — clear, if you join ISIS, if you wage jihad on America, then you are signing your death warrant… We need a president that shows the courage that Egypt’s President al-Sisi, a Muslim, when he called out the radical Islamic terrorists who are threatening the world.

Left to its own devices, this is a great soundbite for the campaign trail. We will kill the terrorists! We will be like Egyptian military strongman Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who ousted his Muslim Brotherhood predecessor before his country became another Libya! But what does any of this mean? Sen. Cruz did offer one bit of concrete policy: he would revoke the citizenship of any Americans fighting with the Islamic State. This is a necessary move and a welcome suggestion from Cruz but, the truth is, most ISIS terrorists aren’t American citizens, and the ones who attempt acts of terror on American soil have mostly been killedbefore revoking their citizenship would make a difference.

Calling radical Islamist terror what it is is a necessary first step that the White House has routinely refused to take, and it is reassuring that Sen. Cruz has no qualms about it. But then what?

4. Sen. Rand Paul:

I’ve been fighting amidst a lot of opposition from both Hillary Clinton, as well as some Republicans who wanted to send arms to the allies of ISIS. ISIS rides around in a billion dollars worth of U.S. Humvees. It’s a disgrace. We’ve got to stop — we shouldn’t fund our enemies, for goodness sakes.

This was, bafflingly, a major applause line at last night’s primetime debate, likely because the situation in which ISIS was born is so complicated many in the audience believed the American military was simply buying the Islamic State Humvees on the taxpayers’ dime.

Yes, the United States gave arms to Syrian rebels opposing President Bashar al-Assad, and destabilizing Syria further allowed for the expansion of the Islamic State. But much of the bulk of U.S. weaponry that has fallen into their hands has been captured from the Shiite Iraqi army operating out of Baghdad– that’s where the Humvees came from. The Shiites are not ISIS’s allies; they are “rafidi infidels.” The Iraqi army is largely a failure, yet, largely out of a desire to see the state of Iraq continue existing, America continues to fund Baghdad.

Solving the ISIS problem would be much easier if all we had to do was stop giving ISIS money.

3. Gov. Mike Huckabee:

The purpose of the military is kill people and break things.

This comment, especially provocative when out of context, was an attempt to reject the idea of allowing servicemen and women to receive sex change treatments on the taxpayers’ dime while in active service. Not spending more money on sex changes may resonate with Republican voters, but reducing the vital and extremely complex services our troops provide the world over to killing people and breaking things?

The Army Corps of Engineers employs 37,000 servicemen dedicated to constructing facilities for both military and emergency purposes, to protect from natural disasters and protecting the nation’s nature areas. Military medical professionals specialize in a wide variety of fields and work to keep our troops healthy as they serve. American soldiers have been pivotal in aiding those harmed by the southeast Asian tsunami in 2004, fighting the Ebola outbreak in west Africa, and cleaning up after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Our troops are not the hordes of Genghis Khan. They do much more than kill people and break things.

2. Gov. Bobby Jindal:

We’re going to take the political handcuffs off the military. We will arm and train the Kurds. We will work with our Sunni allies. They know we will be committed to victory.

“Arming the Kurds” has become a popular shorthand for many conservatives who want to show they are serious about fighting ISIS, despite the fact that Kurdish groups have not had much success outside of Kurdish areas, and the odds of a successful mission in an Arab Sunni territory is very low. Kurdish forces have been without a doubt the most successful ground troops in fighting the Islamic State, particularly given that the most the Iraqi army has done to fight them is run away and hand them our Humvees. The problem with Gov. Jindal’s statement, particularly in light of the NATO member Turkey’s air campaign against multiple Kurdish factions, is that it is too vague. Which Kurds?

There’s the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a US-designated terrorist group of Marxist stripes that Turkey considers its arch nemesis. There are the People’s Protection Units of Syria– the YPG and YPJ– which have been among the most successful troops against ISIS. And there are the Peshmerga of Iraq, which have also conducted successful operations and made of Erbil the largest Iraqi city safe for Christians and Yazidis.

The YPG/YPJ wear the red star proudly and support the PPK; the Peshmerga under President Masoud Barzani do not.

Without specifying, Jindal may have just committed to arming a group whose propaganda looks like this:

 1. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC):

According to the generals that I know and trust, this air campaign will not destroy ISIL. We need a ground force in Iraq and Syria, and America has to be part of that ground force. According to the FBI and the director of national intelligence, Syria’s becoming a perfect platform to strike our nation. I’ve got a very simple strategy as your president against ISIL. Whatever it takes, as long as it takes, to defeat them.

It is perhaps the greatest failure of last night’s debate moderators that this comment went unchallenged. Graham got away with casually proposing a ground invasion of Syria using American troops that would last “as long as it takes.”

When the United States began its military actions in Iraq, there was a clear villain in power: Saddam Hussein. That nation’s leader was our enemy and an ally of our enemies, and we went in to take him out. Syria has a nominal leader, Bashar al-Assad, who is a mortal enemy of the Islamic State and is embroiled in a bitter, years-long civil war. Many of Syria’s religious minorities, the Christian Assyrians and Alawites, view Assad as the last line of defense against ISIS. An American ground invasion of Syria may very well force us into an alliance with Assad, a mass murderer who has used chemical weapons against civilians– and, by proxy, an alliance with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei. How does Sen. Graham square his opposition to the Iran deal with a plan to keep the Ayatollah’s favorite puppet dictator in power?

And if he wants to take down ISIS and Assad simultaneously– how, specifically, would we do that? And what is going to fill the resulting power vacuum? For all we know, Sen. Graham may have a strong answer to this; unfortunately, no one at Fox News cared to ask.

Also see:

Rand Paul Has a Point about Republicans and ISIS

pic_giant_053015_SM_Surge-Troops-GNRO by Andrew C. McCarthy, May 30, 2015:

Seems like Rand Paul always goes too far.

He could have made a perfectly respectable argument that the NSA’s metadata program is illegal because it exceeds the Patriot Act’s authority. Instead he speciously insists that the Patriot Act shreds the Fourth Amendment and the program is akin to Nixon-era “domestic spying.”

He could also have made a perfectly respectable — I would say, irrefutable — argument that there was strong bipartisan support for some reckless policies that significantly contributed to the rise of the Islamic State — the jihadist organization that now controls much of Iraq and Syria. Instead, the Kentucky Republican speciously claims that “hawks” in his own party “created” ISIS.

ISIS is a creation of Islamic-supremacist ideology, which is drawn directly from Muslim scripture. Part of the reason that Senator Paul is no improvement over the Republicans he often derides is that he is just as wrong as they are about the threat we face.

In their infatuation with Muslim engagement, Beltway Republicans imagine a monolithic, smiley-face Islam — a “religion of peace” that seamlessly accommodates Western liberalism . . . except where it has been “hijacked” by “violent extremists.” Indeed, long before President Obama came along, it was the Bush administration that endeavored to purge terms like “jihadism” from our lexicon, even assuring us: “The fact is that Islam and secular democracy are fully compatible — in fact, they can make each other stronger.”

Thankfully, Senator Paul does not seem to have gulped that Kool-Aid. Yet, his anti-government populism leads him to maintain — just as his father did in less guarded rhetoric — that it is American policy, not Islamic-supremacist ideology, that induces jihadists to attack the United States.

It’s undeniable that Republican policy contributed to the Islamist bedlam now exploding across the Middle East.

Paul appears to grasp that jihadism is evil, rooted in Islamic doctrine, and anti-American. The conclusion he draws from this premise, however, is that it should be given a wide berth rather than confronted and defeated. This is not materially different from the “blame America first” cast of mind that Jeanne Kirkpatrick diagnosed and Barack Obama instantiates. Nor is it far from the mindset that blames Pamela Geller or Charlie Hebdowhen Islamists respond to mere taunts with lethal violence — as if sharia gives Muslims a special mayhem dispensation that American law must accommodate.

All that said, if Paul’s point was that Republican policy contributed to the Islamist bedlam now exploding across the Middle East and northern Africa, that ought to be undeniable.

Because the senator hyperbolically claimed that the GOP “created” ISIS, the indignant rebukes raining down on him from Republican leaders and sympathizers focus on Iraq. It was there that the organization was born as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), eventually rebranding as ISIS upon breaking away from the mother ship and declaring its caliphate.

Selectively mining facts, the Republican establishment claims that, thanks to the 2007 troop surge, President Bush annihilated AQI before there ever was an ISIS. The latter arose, so the story goes, because Obama reversed Bush’s policies and refused to keep a residual force in Iraq after 2011. In point of fact, the GOP fingerprints on the sweeping Middle East disaster transcend Iraq. But even if we just stick to Iraq, the Republican story is woefully incomplete.

Having been created by Islamic supremacism, AQI/ISIS was nurtured by Iran. Notwithstanding the internecine bloodletting that now pits Sunnis against Shiites across the region, Shiite Iran has been the key supporter of both Shiite and Sunni jihadist groups since its revolutionary incarnation as “the Islamic Republic” in 1979. It has backed Sunni al-Qaeda and Hamas, as well as Shiite Hezbollah and a network of Shiite terror cells in Iraq. Its only requirement has been that jihadists of whatever stripe advance Iran’s interests by taking the fight to the U.S. and Israel.

In that vein, Iran harbored al-Qaeda operatives after the 9/11 attacks and facilitated the anti-American insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq. This involved collaboration with Abu Musab Zarqawi, the formative figure of AQI who was eventually killed by U.S. forces in Iraq after he had fomented civil war there.

Iran helped Zarqawi even though AQI’s strategy involved killing Shiites. Of course, the regime in Tehran kills plenty of Iranians, so it has no qualms about killing Shiites. It helped Zarqawi kill them in Iraq because its interests were advanced by chaos in Iraq, which enabled the mullahs to spread their influence and their Shiite terror network.

Although this was obvious, as was the fact that Iran was behind the killing of thousands of American troops, the Bush administration treated Iran as if it had an interest in Iraqi stability. The Republican administration ignored Iran’s fueling of the jihad; negotiated with Iran (ostensibly through intermediaries) on its nuclear-weapons program; and disaggregated the nuke negotiations from Iran’s terror promotion — just as Obama has done — despite the fact that the United States was Iran’s top terror target. Bush even backed as Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, a pro-Iranian Shiite Islamist who, predictably, drew Baghdad ever closer to Tehran while exacerbating the rift with Iraqi Sunnis. This increased an already teeming recruiting pool for AQI and, later, ISIS.

It is a gross exaggeration to claim, as Republicans do, that the surge “won” the war in Iraq.

The surge did indeed tamp down on the violence and inflict withering losses on AQI. Still, it is a gross exaggeration to claim, as Republicans do, that the surge “won” the war in Iraq. If we judge matters by Bush’s stated objective — a stable, democratic Iraq that would be a reliable Americancounterterrorism ally — Iraq was already a failure by 2007. The surge killed many jihadists and gave the warring Iraqi factions yet another opportunity to reconcile. But it was always known that (a) our jihadist enemies backed by Iran were a regional (in fact, a global) threat, so the war could not be won in Iraq alone; and (b) the surge was a temporary measure, not a permanent solution.

The latter problem was exacerbated by the status-of-forces agreement (SOFA) to which Bush reluctantly agreed. In lashing out against Paul, Republicans and their apologists emphasize that Obama changed Bush’s policies. This is true, but it conveniently omits mentioning that Bush’s policies were first changed by . . . Bush.

For years, President Bush envisioned that all our sacrifice on Iraq’s behalf would yield a permanent working alliance with a sizable post-war American presence that would help us project power and protect our interests in the region. But, despite the administration’s smiley-face-Islam depiction of the Iraqis, they in fact despise infidel Americans and wanted our forces out of their country — to the point that the free Iraqi elections our government liked to brag about became contests over which candidate could spew the most venom about the United States. With the clock running out on the U.N. use-of-force mandate, Bush agreed with the Iranian-controlled Maliki to a SOFA that called for all American troops to leave the country by the end of 2011.

By that point, it was already clear that Barack Obama would be the next president. There is no doubt that, in driving a hard bargain with Bush, Maliki leveraged Obama’s strident opposition to the Iraq war and his vow to pull Americans out. Bush may have hoped that Obama would grow into the job, be guided by America’s interests instead of his ideological leanings, and strike a new deal with the Iraqis before the 2011 deadline based on whatever conditions on the ground were at the time. But hope is not a strategy.


Republicans are now claiming that it was blindingly obvious in 2011 that pulling out troops was a blunder that guaranteed the resurgence of jihadists in Iraq. If that is the case — and it surely is the case — then it was also blindingly obvious in late 2008 that the terms of the SOFA to which Bush agreed would, if complied with, guarantee the resurgence of jihadists in Iraq.

This is not to excuse the unmitigated mess Obama made of things. So determined was he to be done with Iraq, so dismissive was he of all America had sacrificed to drive our Sunni enemies from Iraq, that he was heedless of conditions on the ground as he drew our forces down. By 2011, after a steady draw-down, things were so much worse that Obama could have pressured Maliki to renegotiate the withdrawal deadline; a sizable presence of American forces would likely have prevented the advance of ISIS. Obama resisted this because he was determined to pull out at any cost, and because he calculated that abandoning Iraq would appease Iran, with which he was (and remains) desperate to negotiate a nuclear deal.

Nevertheless, the road was paved for Obama because of Bush’s withdrawal agreement. It is disingenuous for Republicans to contend that remaining in Iraq was the “Bush policy” when the president assented to a SOFA that unambiguously reads: “All United States Forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory no later than December 31, 2011.”

As already noted above, Iraq is not the half of the problem for the GOP. Why is it, do you suppose, that we do not know by now why our government had personnel stationed in Benghazi, Libya, one of the most dangerous places in the world for Americans, when four of them — including the U.S. ambassador — were massacred on September 11, 2012? After all, the Obama policy of empowering Islamists to overthrow the Qaddafi regime was spearheaded by Hillary Clinton, the then–secretary of state who is the Democrats’ presumptive 2016 presidential nominee. The Republicans presumably want to beat Mrs. Clinton, so why isn’t the Congress they control exploiting what, on the surface, seems like a powerful political argument against her competence?

Because influential Beltway Republicans were enthusiastic proponents of this disastrous policy from the start. On Libya, they are joined at the hip with Clinton and Obama.

Beltway Republicans were enthusiastic proponents of our disastrous Libya policy from the start.

The State Department had observed in 2009, when GOP senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham were about to lead a congressional delegation to Tripoli for meetings with Qaddafi, that “Libya has acted as a critical ally in U.S. counterterrorism efforts, and Libya is considered one of our primary partners in combating the flow of foreign fighters.” Yet no one was more ardent than McCain and Graham in calling for Qaddafi’s overthrow and for accomplishing that end by arming “rebels” who were known to be rife with top al-Qaeda figures.

The policy has rendered Libya a failed state in which jihadists control swaths of territory, a situation ISIS has now exploited, building a growing presence. The policy also led to an arms windfall for Libyan jihadists. It is now clear that some of those arms made their way to jihadists in Syria. What remains murky is whether the United States government facilitated that arms traffic. The State Department, the CIA, and administration spokesmen have been cagey about what our government did, and senior Republican lawmakers have thwarted efforts to probe the issue at at least one public hearing. But at the very least, American officials knew about arms transfers from Libyan jihadists to Syrian jihadists.

Of course, back in the first Obama term, before ISIS became a juggernaut, senior Republicans were keen to arm the Syrian “rebels” in order to overthrow the Assad regime. In essence, they wanted a redux of the Libya strategy that they and Hillary Clinton were proud to take credit for . . . right up until the Benghazi massacre and the disintegration of Libya into a failed state. But you don’t hear them speak much about overthrowing Assad anymore, just like you no longer hear much bragging about Qaddafi’s ouster. That is because it is now clear that the Syrian “rebels,” like the Libyan “rebels,” prominently included jihadists from al-Qaeda, ISIS, and the Muslim Brotherhood. When Republicans were calling for these anti-Assad “rebels” to be armed and trained (mainly through Islamist governments), that is where much of the arming and training was going.

It was no surprise. After all, when the rabidly anti-American Muslim Brotherhood took over the Egyptian government, Republicans supportedObama in providing arms and aid for them, too — an initiative that Senator Paul vigorously but unsuccessfully opposed.

Toward the conclusion of the 2012 presidential campaign, there was a candidate debate on foreign policy. It was Mitt Romney’s chance, in the wake of the Benghazi terrorist attack, to separate himself from the catastrophic, pro-Islamist policies of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Instead, Romney permitted little or no daylight between himself and the president — to the point that it sometimes seemed he was poised to endorse Obama.

It is fair to say that Romney was simply following a flawed strategy to narrow the election to a referendum on the economy, on which he figured Obama was most vulnerable. But Romney was able to follow the strategy with ease because, on foreign policy, there really wasn’t much daylight between Beltway Republicans and a president who makes Jimmy Carter look like Winston Churchill.

If that was what Rand Paul was trying to say, he has a point.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute. His latest book is Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment. 

Jindal’s Message To Rand Paul Was Incompetently Delivered, But He Was Correct In His Assessment

Rand Paul2The Hayride, by MacAoidh, May 28, 2015:

It brings me no pleasure to make the assertion in the headline, because I like much of what Paul says about domestic policy and he’s correct in his view that the George W. Bush vision of the Middle East as a collection of millions of would-be Americans was dangerously naive. There is some truth in Paul’s assessment that the John McCains and Lindsey Grahams of the world, who couldn’t love Hillary Clinton’s plan to bomb Muammar Qaddafi out of existence enough while finding just the right bunch of Syrian jihadist rebels to slather with weapons, were wrong.

There are points to be made in those arguments. The GOP needs to present a different view of what an engaged foreign policy looks like from that of McCain and Graham – who perfectly represent The Stupid Party in all its glory. For example, sending in troops to rout ISIS out of Iraq and Syria and then coming home, even if the aftermath results in turning the areas retaken from them over to local warlords, is a perfectly acceptable use of American troops. It’s time to start thinking along those lines.

But had Paul articulated that and gone no further, he might have made a case for himself as a potential president. That isn’t what he said, though.

What Paul said was that the neocons and the hawks created ISIS.

Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul is blaming his own party for the rise of the Islamic State group.

The freshman senator from Kentucky said Wednesday that the GOP’s foreign policy hawks “created these people.” That assertion led potential 2016 rival Bobby Jindal, Louisiana’s governor, to say Paul was unqualified to be president.

The Islamic State group, commonly referred to as ISIS, has seized one-third of Iraq and Syria and in recent days made gains in central Iraq.

“ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately,” Paul said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” He continued: “They created these people. ISIS is all over Libya because these same hawks in my party loved – they loved Hillary Clinton’s war in Libya. They just wanted more of it.”

There is a great deal wrong with such a statement, and when Jindal attacked it as “taking the most liberal Democrat position” on the question of jihadist Islam in the Middle East he’s correct. He just violated the Louisiana constitution in saying so on his official Louisiana government letterhead and with his official, rather than proto-campaign, staff issuing the release.

First of all, ISIS and Al Qaeda spring from the same ideological source, but they are not the same. In fact, they are rivals. And it’s Al Qaeda who’s all over Libya; ISIS has a presence there but they’re not running anything. And it wasn’t ISIS who massacred our people in Benghazi, it was Al Qaeda.

Second of all, ISIS is what became of the former Al Qaeda in Iraq. That group, which was kicked out of Al Qaeda because of the way it treated Sunni Muslims in that country, was also kicked out of the Sunni areas of Iraq during the surge in 2007 and 2008. The surge – which was an idea brought forth from George W. Bush and his neocons (along with our military on the ground) and supported by the McCains and Grahams of the world – created an opening for the Sunni Awakening, in which the regular people in Anbar Province who were being abused by AQI (in a similar manner to the way ISIS abuses people living in areas they control now) rose up against them and, in concert with the American military presence there, drove AQI out of Anbar.

AQI was thus forced into exile in Syria, where they ultimately wrested territory away from the Assad regime as part of the civil war there.

The flow of weapons to AQI as a result of what the U.S. government did after the fall of Libya helped it grow into ISIS. But it is naive in the extreme to believe that ISIS couldn’t have gotten its hands on weaponry any other way. ISIS was supported from the beginning by oil sheikhs in the Arab gulf states and in Saudi Arabia; they could easily have bought weapons elsewhere. Understand that most of ISIS’ army is made up of “technicals” – pickup trucks with machine guns mounted on them – and infantry with small arms. What heavy weaponry they have they looted from vanquished enemies. Machine guns and small arms are readily available on the world market.

Even if you agree that U.S. government policy aided the rise of ISIS, which is a tenuous case but one with valid arguments to support it, it’s not John McCain and Lindsey Graham who set that policy. It was the Obama administration who set it, not Republicans. It was Obama who pulled American troops out of Iraq and allowed the Shiite Maliki government to persecute Sunnis, thus creating a power vacuum ISIS could re-fill in Anbar. It was the Obama administration which started the war in Libya which led to Qaddafi’s stockpiles being transferred to Syrian rebels ultimately aligning with ISIS. It was the Obama administration which refused to directly arm the Kurds who could have routed ISIS before they took Mosul. It was the Obama administration who decided not to engage in a robust campaign of airstrikes to keep ISIS out of Ramadi and Tikrit. McCain and Graham and the other GOP hawks might have supported some of those early mistakes but the inaction creating the power vacuum ISIS has grown to fill is owned by Obama, not the party Paul belongs to.

And we should also back this analysis out to 30,000 feet and recognize, as PJ Media’s Roger L. Simon does, that events in places like Iraq and Syria do not depend on decisions made in Washington. ISIS exists because there are lots of jihadist Muslims in the world who want a caliphate and are willing to kill and die to create one as a vehicle for Islamic world supremacy as laid out in the Quran and the hadith. There is nothing we can do about that; it is a reality which has persisted for 1400 years and it will not go away. Rand Paul, like his father, refuses to recognize that this evil predates America and will threaten us regardless of what foreign aid we give or don’t give and what military actions we take or don’t take.

To understand the history of ISIS and to say it was created by the Bushies and/or John McCain and Lindsey Graham is to lie. Paul has a perfectly legitimate argument in saying that Bush was wrong to engage us in Iraq, and that McCain is wrong in wanting to bomb and invade a country like Libya where we had established normal relations with Qaddafi. He went far further, and irresponsibly so. And in doing that, he demonstrated that he’s either fundamentally ignorant of how the world works or he’s not moored to the truth.

Or both.

That means Paul can’t say he’d be any different or any better than what we currently have in the White House where foreign policy is concerned, or that he’s a fundamental improvement over Hillary Clinton.

And Jindal was correct in saying Paul isn’t qualified to make American foreign policy as a result of his statements. He simply should have said so on his campaign letterhead rather than that of his current elected position.

Presidential Race 2016 Candidate Profile – Rand Paul, Republican

Presidential-Profile-Rand-Paul-HPClarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, April 8, 2015:

The Presidential race for 2016 is gearing up and candidates are preparing themselves for the upcoming campaign. On April 7, 2015, Senator Rand Paul became the second candidate to announce his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. He follows Ted Cruz, whose profile by Clarion Project can be viewed by clicking here.

As each candidate announces their intention to run, Clarion Project will provide a summary of each candidate’s positions on issues relating to Islamic extremism, in order to help our readers make the most informed possible choice come voting day. Should there be any significant changes, we intend to update our readers on the positions of any given candidate.

As Clarion is a bipartisan organization, we will not be endorsing any party or any candidate. All information provided is intended as informative only and should not be taken as evidence of Clarion’s preference for any given candidate.

Relevant Experience

Single-term Republican Senator from Kentucky (2011-Current). Serves on Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Senate Homeland Security Committee

 Son of Rep. Ron Paul, who ran for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008 and 2012. (Ron Paul was known for characterizing Islamic extremism as a response to U.S. foreign policy and hostility towards Israel. He opposed the raid in Pakistan that killed Osama Bin Laden. He recently suggested that the U.S. government knew Bin Laden’s location and did not take action because it needed an “excuse” for “invading various countries.”)

Record on Islamic Extremism

 There is a “worldwide war on Christianity” by a “fanatical element of Islam.”

 “Radical Islam will only end when Islam begins to police Islam” and an Islamic enlightenment happens.

 Islamic extremism is a product of  both anger over U.S. foreign policy and radical ideology.

 “We must understand that a hatred of our values exists,and acknowledge that interventions in foreign countries may well exacerbate this hatred,” he says.

 “Some anger is blowback, but some anger originates in an aberrant and intolerant distortion of religion that wages war against all infidels. We can’t be sentimental about neutralizing that threat, but we also can’t be blind to the fact that drone strikes that inadvertently kill civilians may create more jihadists than we eliminate.”


 Stated in a 2007 interview on the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones Show that, “it’s ridiculous to think they [the Iranian regime] are a threat to our national security” or to Israel’s. He urged activism to stop military action against Iran.

 Blocked bipartisan legislation to sanction Iran in 2012 because he wanted an amendment that spelled out that it shall not be interpreted as authority for using military force. He later voted for sanctions on Iran.

 Voted against a Senate resolution ruling out a policy of containment towards a nuclear-armed Iran. However, he said the U.S. should have a plan to contain a nuclear Iran, but it should remain private:

“I think it’s not a good idea to announce that in advance. Should I announce to Iran, well, we don’t want you to, but we’ll live with it? No that’s a dumb idea to say that you’re going to live with it. However, the opposite’s a dumb idea, too.”

He later clarified that he opposes a containment policy, but that the option should not be ruled out.

 Opposes implementing new sanctions on Iran during nuclear negotiations. He said he’d support new sanctions if a deal is not reached.

 It is “imperative” that the U.S. and Iran engage diplomatically to reach a deal for “limiting” its uranium enrichment.

 Favors cultural engagement with Iran as an alternative to military action.

“Iran has a large undercurrent of people who like the West. They like our music, our culture, out literature, and so I think we can influence people in those ways. I’d rather do that than go to war with Iran.”

Iraq and ISIS

 Opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq and toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime, which he blames for the rise of the Islamic State terrorist group (ISIS).

 In 2008, accused the U.S. government of dishonestly invading Iraq in order to enrich the multinational corporation Halliburton. He said that “9/11 became an excuse for a war they already wanted in Iraq.” The depiction of the U.S. government as waging war for money is a common Islamist theme.

 Supports U.S.-led military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. He supports a limited role for U.S. ground troops in Iraq for securing diplomatic facilities, advising, intelligence-gathering and operations against high-value targets. However, says direct combat with the Islamic State should be done by Arabs and not American soldiers.

 U.S. should involve Turkey and the Syrian and Iranian regimes in fighting the Islamic State.

 U.S. should create an independent Kurdistan to encourage them to “fight like hell” against the Islamic State. Paul explicitly said, “I would go one step further: I would draw new lines for Kurdistan [in Iraq], and I would promise them a country.”

Muslim Brotherhood & Egypt

 Opposed U.S. military aid to the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt and tried to stop the sale of F-16s.

 Advocated the complete severing of U.S. aid to Egypt in response to the popularly-supported overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood. He criticized the Obama Administration for not calling it a “coup,” which would require the stopping of aid. Paul described the new Egyptian government as a “military junta.”


 In a 2011 op-ed, he criticized President Obama for not withdrawing from Afghanistan quickly enough. He said that combat troops should be removed by 2013, not 2014.


 Opposed U.S. support for Syrian rebels and favors neutrality in the Syrian civil war because “there is no clear U.S. national interest in Syria.”

 U.S. policy should be to pursue a negotiated settlement that involves the removal of Syrian President Bashar Assad but retaining parts of the regime so Islamist rebels cannot threaten the Christian minority.

 Opposed potential U.S. airstrikes on the Syrian regime in retaliation for using chemical weapons.


 Opposed the U.S.-led military intervention in Libya that led to the overthrow of dictator Muammar Gaddafi, saying that it created a safe haven for Islamist terrorists.

Saudi Arabia

 Wants Americans to boycott Saudi Arabia, but not the U.S. government. He said the country should be treated like apartheid South Africa.

Ryan Mauro is’s national security analyst, a fellow with Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio. Read more, contact or arrange a speaking engagement.


Also see:

47 Senators Warn Iran–and Obama–that Deal Must Pass Congress

AFP PHOTO / The White House / Pete Souza

AFP PHOTO / The White House / Pete Souza

Breitbart, by Joel B. Pollak, March. 9, 2015:

Forty-seven U.S. Senators have released an open letter to the Iranian government warning that any nuclear deal signed by President Barack Obama could be revoked by a subsequent U.S. president unless it is ratified by the Senate. The letter, while addressed to the “Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” is really a warning to Obama not to bypass Congress.

The president has vowed to veto the “Corker-Menendez-Graham” bill, also known as theIran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, currently pending in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had prepared the bill for a vote this week, following last week’s stirring address by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but delayed the vote under pressure from Democratic supporters of the bill who want to wait for the administration’s March negotiation deadline to expire first.

The letter (full text here) is a response to that threat, and informs Iranian leaders that they “may not fully understand our constitutional system…while the President negotiates international agreements, Congress plays the significant role of ratifying them.”

It concludes: “…we will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei. The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen…”.

Harvard Law School professor Jack Goldsmith, who worked on terrorism issues in the Bush administration, raps the Senators for a technical error, noting that while the Senate may pass a resolution of ratification, it is still the President who ratifies a treaty. However, he adds that the legal error does not effect the overall argument of the letter, which is that any nuclear deal signed with Iran may be invalid after 2016.

There are another two possible loopholes: the nuclear deal may not, in fact, be a “nuclear-weapons” deal, but a deal covering nuclear technology more generally; and Ayatollah Khamenei is rumored to have died or may be dead by the time any agreement is reached.

The letter, Josh Rogin of Bloomberg News reports, was organized by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), a Harvard Law School graduate and veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Aside from its content, it may cause controversy for the rhetorical ploy of drawing attention to a domestic separation-of-powers dispute in correspondence with a foreign power, essentially inviting a theocratic regime in the Middle East to endorse the prerogatives of a democratically-elected legislature in the United States.

However, in doing so it may also strengthen the Obama administration’s hand at the negotiating table by demonstrating to the Iranian regime that the president has very little room for compromise.

The Jerusalem Post notes that the signatories include possible 2016 presidential contenders Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Rand Paul (R-KY).

Also see:


Rand-Paul-GOP-maine-apBreitbart, by DR. SEBASTIAN GORKA:

Clearly, for some, 2016 is just around the corner. For weeks now there is scuttlebutt about presidential candidate repeat-offender Mitt Romney running yet again, and now Rand Paul is drastically watering down his isolationist and conspiracy-laden past in the hopes of becoming a contender. The senator’s attempt to reinvent himself is largely superficial and points to deeper problems.

On Friday in New York, Paul gave his national security stump speech, unveiling as he did so his platform of “conservative realism,” and sounding in places as if he was reversing some of his key beliefs.

Like the “curates egg,” there were some bad parts and some positive elements to the speech. To begin with, when the politician most associated with the new version of libertarianism that favors a United States detached from the world says “America cannot disengage from the world,” that is news, indeed– and something to be welcomed by those who agree that we cannot realistically and safely disengage internationally.

But the omissions of the speech are strange and hard to fathom. No mention of Israel; no mention of the border or immigration; no mention of the NSA trammeling our privacy rights.

However, it is hard to disagree with the Senator that our forces were magnificent in the weeks after 9/11 as a small group of Special Operators with local assistance demolished the Taleban and routed Al Qaeda, and that afterward their success was progressively undermined by ever-increasing mission-creep.

And it is easy to agree with Paul’s utter contempt for the way in which, more recently, the Obama administration used force in Libya without a real strategy, let alone Congressional consent.

But then taken as a whole, the speech is neither an about-turn for the isolationist– sorry Paulites, I mean “non-interventionist”– politician, nor does it add up to a new plan under which the right will finally act coherently on national security issues.

On the contrary, it is confused and disingenuous. Let’s begin with the confusion.

In a week that saw two jihadist attacks in Canada and one in New York, one would expect a trenchant and forthright handling of the threat that has shaped our age. Instead Paul gave us this:

The world does not have an Islam problem, the world has a dignity problem, with millions of men and women across the Middle East being treated as chattel by their own governments.

Sorry? A dignity problem? Who denied Osama bin Laden or Major Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, their dignity? Perhaps the Boston bombers were denied their dignity, but not because they lived in a Middle Eastern nation where the government treated them as property. On the contrary, if their dignity was undermined it was in the form of the Massachusetts state subsidies they received without having to earn them (something the younger Tsarnaev actually boasted about on social media).

So where could this newfound concern for the downtrodden of the world come from for Senator Paul? In truth, the old Rand Paul is lurking just beneath the surface, as this line reveals: “Many of these same governments have been chronic recipients of our aid.” So, Islam is not to blame for jihadi terrorism. America is, because we support unjust regimes.

The fact that Paul uses this argument is not only disturbing in that it negates the responsibility of the jihadists – it’s their governments, and America that keeps them in power – but also because this is the fallacious reasoning behind the Obama’s administration’s counterterrorism strategy.

Senator Paul is not only channeling Chomsky with this speech, he has also reinforced the White House line that ideology is irrelevant in this war and that terrorism is understandably a result of the oppression of Muslims around the word.

Perhaps none of this should be a surprise. We are talking about a man who believes in Alex Jones’ one-world government conspiracy theories about the Bilderberg Group and thatevil masterminds want to create a unitary state out of America, Canada and Latin America. Hardly presidential material.

Sebastian Gorka PhD is the Matthew C. Horner Distinguished Chair of Military Theory, Marine Corps University, and National Security Affairs Editor for Follow him on Twitter at: @SebGorka.

More Wrong-Headed Criticism of the Targeted Killing of Anwar al-Awlaki

aaCSP, By Fred Fleitz:

On September 30, 2011, Anwar al-Awlaki, a senior official of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen. Yesterday, the Obama administration released a Justice Department memo justifying this drone strike in response to a lawsuit by the ACLU and New York Times.

Many on the left and a few on the right, such as Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) have objected to the killing of Awlaki since he was a Yemeni-American born in the United States.

The New York Times disputes that Awlaki was planning “imminent” attacks and claims that “the memo says only that Mr. Awlaki had joined Al Qaeda and was planning attacks on Americans, but that the government did not know when these attacks would occur.”

Such muddleheaded thinking on national security is breathtaking. How much evidence will it take to convince the Times that Awlaki was a serious threat?

After post-9/11 Bush administration counterterrorism programs and increased security put al-Qaeda on the run and made terrorist attacks on the United States much more difficult, Awlaki became the leading al-Qaeda leader of its Yemen franchise Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) by recruiting terrorists within the U.S. using the internet. Some in the U.S. intelligence community referred to him as an “e-iman” because of his internet savvy and ability to use other forms of electronic communications to spread his message and recruit followers.

Awlaki successfully inspired many home-grown radical Islamist terrorists in the UK and the United States. Former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra said in a 2009 op-ed:

“Al-Awlaki’s sermons have influenced would-be homegrown terrorists in the United States and the terrorists who launched the deadly 2005 London subway bombings. Mr. al-Awlaki, who was born in the U.S. and speaks perfect English, has been using his own Web page, social-networking sites such as Facebook, and e-mail to preach a message of violence to English speaking Muslims around the world.”

The men who planned to attack Fort Dix in 2007 had recorded copies of Awlaki’s sermons as did the Toronto-18 group that was arrested in 2006 for planning to attack the Canadian parliament and assassinate Canada’s prime minister. Army Major Nidal Hassan, who carried out a November 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, Texas which resulted in 13 killed and over 30 wounded, communicated with Awlaki over the internet. 2009 Christmas Day underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab almost certainly met Awlaki during a 2009 trip to Yemen and may have been recruited by him. Awlaki also may have inspired Faisal Shahzad’s May 1, 2010 attempt to set off a car bomb in Times Square and Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a 19-year old Somali-American who tried to bomb a Christmas tree lighting in Oregon in December 2010.

Awlaki also is believed to have inspired five American Muslims from the Washington, DC area who were arrested after arriving in Pakistan in December 2010 for terrorist training and Zachary Chesser who was arrested in New York in July 2010 before boarding a plane to travel to Somalia where he planned to join the al Shabaab Islamist terrorist group.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who with his brother Tamerlan staged the deadly 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, said he and his brother were influenced by Awlaki’s internet sermons. Tsarnaev also told the FBI that he and his brother learned how to the build the pressure cooker bombs they used to attack the marathon from AQAP’s English language internet magazine, Inspire, which promoted radical Islamist ideology and encouraged its readers to conduct terrorist attacks against the West. Inspire was founded by Awlaki and featured his sermons. It was edited by Pakistani-American Samir Khan who was killed by the same drone strike that killed Awlaki.

Add to all of this the fact that three 9/11 hijackers attended services in Awlaki’s Falls Church, Virginia mosque.

The Times, the ACLU and Senator Paul have asserted that the targeted killing of Awlaki violated the U.S. Constitution, specifically his due process rights as an American citizen, and required an independent review prior to the attack.

I agree with former CIA Director Michael Hayden who said in 2011 that Awlaki should not have been protected by his American citizenship from a targeted killing because he voluntarily became part of an enemy force.

Moreover, there was outside review of the proposal to kill Awlaki with a drone strike because the Presidential Finding approving the strike was briefed to Congress in advance and Congressional leaders were fully on board. That’s why no members of the intelligence committees or senior congressional leaders objected to the Awalki killing after it occurred.

The Obama administration was right about the Awlaki drone strike. By helping run the AQAP terrorist group in Yemen and recruiting terrorists to attack the U.S. homeland, Awalki should not have been protected from a targeted killing because he was an American citizen. Moreover, the Obama administration took the proper steps to obtain the necessary legal and political backing for this attack by a careful review by the Justice Department and by convincing Congressional leaders and the intelligence committees to support the drone strike because Awlaki was an active participant in an armed enemy force.

The drone strike that killed Anwar al-Awlaki is a rare example of the President and Congress working together to defend American national security. Rather than lodge dubious complaints that this attack violated the law, the New York Times, the ACLU , and Senator Paul should press the White House to engage in advance consultations with Congress on similar threats in the future.

The Jihad According to Rand Paul

pic_giant_110713_SM_The-Jihad-According-to-Rand-PaulBy  Clifford D. May

Last month, at the Values Voter Summit, a gathering of conservative activists from around the country, Senator Rand Paul gave a speech on what he called “a worldwide war on Christians by a fanatical element of Islam.”

Anti-Christian persecution, violence, and “religious cleansing” have become common in many Muslim-majority countries. The media, as Paul pointed out, have turned a blind eye. So, too, have President Obama and European leaders.

The senator was careful not to paint all Muslims with the brush of fanaticism. He stressed that only a minority of Muslims read Islamic scripture as mandating an armed struggle against Christians and other “unbelievers.” But because the global Muslim population is so large — more than 1.5 billion — even a relatively small percentage translates into tens of millions of jihad supporters.

Paul cited a few of the atrocities not making the evening news: a priest shot in the head in Zanzibar; churches bombed in Kenya; the beheading of three girls on their way to a Christian school in Indonesia; converts to Christianity murdered in Cameroon; churches burned and worshipers killed in Egypt; a pastor in Iran tortured and ordered to renounce his faith.

In the ancient Christian city of Maaloula, in what is now Syria, “Islamic rebels swarmed into town” demanding everyone convert or die, he said. “Sarkis el Zakhm stood up and answered them, ‘I am a Christian and if you want to kill me because I am a Christian, do it.’ Those were Sarkis’s last words.”

Paul added: “These rebels are allies of the Islamic rebels President Obama is now arming.

American tax dollars should never be spent to prop up a war on Christianity. But that is what is happening right now.”

Well, not precisely: Almost three years ago, Syrians began to peacefully demonstrate against Bashar Assad. The brutality of the dictator’s response sparked a civil war that was led by nationalists — not jihadists. They asked for American support and were turned down, in part because the administration saw Assad’s fall as inevitable with or without U.S. assistance.

That analysis turned out to be dead wrong — and there are now more than 100,000 dead to date. Iran’s rulers — who, as Paul noted, persecute Christians at home and, as he did not note, were responsible for hundreds of American deaths in Iraq, and who scrawl “Death to America!” on their missiles — sent Assad battalions of reinforcements, including elite fighters from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. They also arranged for combatants from Hezbollah, Iran’s Lebanon-based foreign legion — the murderers of 241 American servicemen in 1983 — to come to Assad’s rescue.

While this has been going on, al-Qaeda forces, decimated during the American “surge” in Iraq, were taking advantage of America’s withdrawal from that troubled country to regroup and rebuild. Volunteers streamed in from Algeria, Chechnya, and other corners of the Islamic world. They soon became strong enough to cross the border, declaring the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Syrian Christians, more properly called Syriacs, are widely believed to be pro-Assad. But that’s not quite accurate. A recent newsletter of the European Syriac Union states proudly that they were among those asking Assad for “their rights.” As a consequence, they have been seen as “the enemies” of the regime that continues to “attack, arrest, torture and imprison Syriac people.”

Syrian Christians have appealed to the U.S. government for assistance and they, too, have been turned down. Paul argues: “We must work to ensure our country, our policies, our tax dollars, are on the side of ending this violence rather than encouraging those who perpetrate it.” But he never gets around to saying who or what he has in mind.

What he says instead: “How someone could believe that killing innocent people would further one’s cause is beyond me.” Is that really so hard to fathom? Both the Nazis and the Communists killed innocent people by the millions to further their causes. By now we should understand that totalitarianism is totalitarianism — whether it is based on race, class, or religion.

“Radical Islam will end only when Islam begins to police Islam,” Paul adds. Can you imagine Churchill saying Nazism will end only when Germans begin to police themselves? Can you imagine Reagan saying Communism will end only when Russians begin policing themselves?

Read more at National Review

Cruz Stakes Out Ground Between Rand Paul, John McCain on Foreign Policy

Texas CruzBY: :

Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) on Wednesday during an address at the Heritage Foundation said his foreign policy views are somewhere in between those of Sens. John McCain (R., Ariz.) and Rand Paul (R., Ky.) and that he opposes U.S. military intervention in Syria because it is not in America’s national security interests.

Cruz compared his stance on foreign affairs to that of former President Ronald Reagan and said he believed the United States should always focus directly on protecting America’s national security and interests, speaking with moral clarity, and fighting to win.

These principles represent a “balance” between the views of the anti-interventionist Paul and the more hawkish McCain and are encapsulated in Reagan’s mantra of “peace through strength,” Cruz said.

“I agree with Rand Paul that we should not intervene militarily in Syria,” Cruz said.

“But I also agree with John McCain: If Iran is on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons, we should intervene because it’s in the national security interests of the United States.”

“It has to be tied to that objective. Syria was not,” he added.

Cruz slammed a number of President Barack Obama’s policies but commended him for seeking congressional authorization before ordering limited strikes on the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Although the president has said as recently as May that al Qaeda’s core is “on a path to defeat,” Cruz said the “war continues” amid revelations that the diffuse terrorist network has expanded into new regions and plotted attacks on U.S. airliners and facilities overseas.

“Somebody didn’t tell the terrorists,” he said.

The firebrand senator, who is widely expected to be considering a run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, has drawn comparisons to other outspoken conservatives such as longtime Sen. Jesse Helms (R., N.C.). Cruz spoke about his admiration for the late senator, who served as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, at the Heritage Foundation’s fourth annual Helms Lecture.

“The willingness to say all these crazy things is a rare, rare characterization in this town,” Cruz said of Helms.

“It’s every bit as true now—we need a hundred more Jesse Helms.”

Cruz defended his opposition to strikes in Syria by arguing that reports suggest as many as seven of the rebel groups fighting Assad are linked to al Qaeda. The al Qaeda-affiliated groups Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which are Sunni Islamists, have poured into Syria in sectarian opposition to Assad, a member of the minority Alawite sect of Shiite Islam.

The presence of radical Islamists in Syria should give pause to administration officials planning a response to chemical weapons attacks in the suburbs of Damascus last month that U.S. intelligence analysts say killed more than 1,400 people, including more than 400 children, Cruz said. The public and his constituents overwhelmingly oppose intervention, he added.

“Even though Assad is a brutal, murderous thug, that doesn’t mean his opponents are any better,” he said.

“The predictable effect [of strikes] could well be enabling al Qaeda, al-Nusra, the Islamic radicals, to seize control of those [chemical] weapons.”

However, Cruz said he does not think the United States should “do nothing” in response to the attacks. Lawmakers and U.S. officials should move to cut off about half a billion in aid to Iraq if it continues to allow Syrian ally Iran to fly over its airspace and resupply Assad, as well as force a vote at the United Nations Security Council on a resolution condemning Assad and the chemical weapons attacks.

If Russia and China refuse to sign, the United States should counter by resuming construction of antiballistic missile stations in Eastern Europe near the Russians and approving the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Chinese adversary Taiwan.

Read more at Free Beacon



Stephens: A Policy on Egypt—Support Al Sisi

download (2)By Bret Stephens:

On the subject of Egypt: Is it the U.S. government’s purpose merely to cop an attitude? Or does it also intend to have a policy?

An attitude “deplores the violence” and postpones a military exercise, as President Obama did from Martha’s Vineyard the other day. An attitude sternly informs the Egyptian military, as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) did, that it is “taking Egypt down a dark path, one that the United States cannot and should not travel with them.” An attitude calls for the suspension of U.S. aid to Egypt, as everyone from Rand Paul (R., Ky.) to Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.) has.

An attitude is a gorgeous thing. It is a vanity accountable to a conscience. But an attitude has no answer for what the U.S. does with or about Egypt once the finger has been wagged and the aid withdrawn. When Egypt decides to purchase Su-35s from Russia (financed by Saudi Arabia) and offers itself as another client to Vladimir Putin because the Obama administration has halted deliveries of F-16s, will Mr. Graham wag a second finger at Moscow?

Perhaps he will. Our diminished influence in Egypt may soon be reduced to nil, but at least our hands will be clean.

Or we could have a policy, which is never gorgeous. It is a set of pragmatic choices between unpalatable alternatives designed to achieve the most desirable realistic result. What is realistic and desirable?

Releasing deposed President Mohammed Morsi and other detained Brotherhood leaders may be realistic, but it is not desirable—unless you think Aleksandr Kerensky was smart to release the imprisoned Bolsheviks after their abortive July 1917 uprising.

Restoring the dictatorship-in-the-making that was Mr. Morsi’s elected government is neither desirable nor realistic—at least if the millions of Egyptians who took to the streets in June and July to demand his ouster have anything to do with it.

Bringing the Brotherhood into some kind of inclusive coalition government in which it accepts a reduced political role in exchange for calling off its sit-ins and demonstrations may be desirable, but it is about as realistic as getting a mongoose and a cobra to work together for the good of the mice.

What’s realistic and desirable is for the military to succeed in its confrontation with the Brotherhood as quickly and convincingly as possible. Victory permits magnanimity. It gives ordinary Egyptians the opportunity to return to normal life. It deters potential political and military challenges. It allows the appointed civilian government to assume a prominent political role. It settles the diplomatic landscape. It lets the neighbors know what’s what.

And it beats the alternatives. Alternative No. 1: A continued slide into outright civil war resembling Algeria’s in the 1990s. Alternative No. 2: Victory by a vengeful Muslim Brotherhood, which will repay its political enemies richly for the injuries that were done to it. That goes not just for military supremo Abdel Fattah Al Sisi and his lieutenants, but for every editor, parliamentarian, religious leader, businessman or policeman who made himself known as an opponent of the Brotherhood.

Question for Messrs. Graham, Leahy and Paul: Just how would American, Egyptian, regional or humanitarian interests be advanced in either of those scenarios? The other day Sen. Paul stopped by the Journal’s offices in New York and stressed his opposition to any U.S. policy in Syria that runs contrary to the interests of that country’s Christians. What does he suppose would happen to Egypt’s Copts, who have been in open sympathy with Gen. Sisi, if the Brotherhood wins?

Read more at WSJ



Clinton-Petreausby KERRY PICKET:

Dozens of CIA operatives were involved in an arms smuggling operation on the ground in Benghazi, Libya during the deadly attack on the U.S. compound last September, reports CNN and the U.K. Telegraph. According to these outlets, the spy agency has gone out of its way to keep the information from the public through intimidation of CIA personnel.  

Four Americans were killed, including U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens that evening in Benghazi almost one year ago.

In light of this new information, either the Congress’ “Gang of Eight” knew about the operation and misled the public about what they knew, or the Obama administration may have been conducting an unauthorized gun-running operation. Fox News reported in October of 2012 about a Libyan ship, reportedly containing weapons for Syrian Rebels that may have been tied into the attack against the consulate and the CIA annex:

Through shipping records, Fox News has confirmed that the Libyan-flagged vessel Al Entisar, which means “The Victory,” was received in the Turkish port of Iskenderun — 35 miles from the Syrian border — on Sept. 6, just five days before Ambassador Chris Stevens, information management officer Sean Smith and former Navy Seals Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed during an extended assault by more than 100 Islamist militants.

On the night of Sept. 11, in what would become his last known public meeting, Stevens met with the Turkish Consul General Ali Sait Akin, and escorted him out of the consulate front gate one hour before the assault began at approximately 9:35 p.m. local time.

Although what was discussed at the meeting is not public, a source told Fox News that Stevens was in Benghazi to negotiate a weapons transfer, an effort to get SA-7 missiles out of the hands of Libya-based extremists. And although the negotiation said to have taken place may have had nothing to do with the attack on the consulate later that night or the Libyan mystery ship, it could explain why Stevens was travelling in such a volatile region on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

According to section 503’s Presidential Approval and Reporting of Covert Actions in the 1947 National Security Act, the President may not authorize covert CIA actions without informing the intelligence committees of Congress.

Legislation implemented in 1980 gave the president the authority to limit advance notification of especially sensitive covert actions to eight Members of Congress–the “Gang of Eight”: the chairmen and ranking minority Members of the two congressional intelligence committees, the Speaker and minority leader of the House, and Senate majority and minority leaders. These members are: House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA).

By law, such a covert weapons operation in Benghazi should have been known by all eight members. The disastrous results from the events of September 11, 2012 have not made it easy to get answers from these lawmakers regarding this point.

Many remember when Pelosi, a “Gang of Eight” member, found herself at odds with the Democratic base in 2009 and ridiculed by Republicans, when it was revealed she was actually briefed in 2002 by the Bush White House about the administration’s tactic to water-board terrorism suspects during interrogations. Pelosi denied this fact previously.

Radio host Laura Ingraham asked Boehner on January 24 about Senator Rand Paul’s questioning to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He asked if the secretary was aware of U.S. involvement in the procuring of weapons that were transferred, bought or sold to Turkey out of Libya. Clinton, seemingly confused, told Paul “nobody [had] ever raised” the issue with her before.

Boehner replied to Ingraham, “I’m somewhat familiar with the chatter about this and the fact that these arms were moving towards Turkey, but most of what I know about this came from a classified source and I really can’t elaborate on it.”

Boehner has refuses to appoint a House Select Committee to investigate the Benghazi attacks and previously refused to support a joint Select Committee to do the same late last year.

Four members of the “Gang of Eight” have told Breitbart News over the past six months they knew nothing about any CIA operation in Benghazi involving the smuggling of Libyan weapons into Turkey that may have been shipped to Syrian rebels, some of whom were affiliated to al-Qaeda groups.

Read more at Breitbart


Questions Surround U.S. Gunrunning To Syrian Rebels

rebels_mortar_reutersBy Kerry Picket:

The CIA is gearing up to send weapons to rebel groups in Syria through Turkey and Jordan, the Washington Post reported on Friday. This is an expanded program over the effort during the past year to maintain supply routes into the war torn country for nonlethal material, U.S. officials told the Post.

But U.S. officials involved in the planning of the new policy of increased military support announced by the Obama administration Thursday said that the CIA has developed a clearer understanding of the composition of rebel forces, which have begun to coalesce in recent months. Within the past year, the CIA also created a new office at its headquarters in Langley to oversee its expanding operational role in Syria.

“We have relationships today in Syria that we didn’t have six months ago,” Benjamin J. Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, said during a White House briefing Friday. The United States is capable of delivering material “not only into the country,” Rhodes said, but “into the right hands.”

The confidence conveyed by Rhodes’s statement is in contrast to the concerns expressed by U.S. intelligence officials last year that the CIA and other U.S. spy agencies were still struggling to gain a firm understanding of opposition elements — a factor cited at the time as a reason the Obama administration was unwilling to consider providing arms.

Although the Obama administration policy is touted as new, in January, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) asked then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her testimony on Capitol on the terrorist attack on the consulate in Benghazi if the CIA was involved in a gun-running operation through Turkey.

“Is the U.S. involved in any procuring of weapons, transfer of weapons, buying, selling, transferring weapons to Turkey?” he asked.

Senator Clinton responded, “To Turkey? I will have to take that question for the record. Nobody has ever raised that with me.”

“It’s been in news reports that ships have been leaving from Libya and that they may have weapons and what I’d like to know is the annex that was close by, were they involved with procuring, buying, selling, obtaining weapons and were any of these weapons being transferred to other countries, any countries, Turkey included?” the Kentucky Republican asked Clinton.

“Well, Senator, you’ll have to direct that question to the agency that ran the annex and I will see what information is available,” Clinton said.

“You’re saying you don’t know,” Paul clarified.

“I do not know. I don’t have any information on that,” Clinton answered.

Additionally, questions regarding Congress’ knowledge of any U.S. gunrunning going to the Syrian rebels prior the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi remain. Only members of the House and Senate’s “Super 8” (consisting of both parties’ leaders in both chambers, along with House and Senate Select Intelligence committee chairs and ranking members) would be required to be briefed on such an operation. Any information they receive from these briefings are classified.

On January 24, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told talk radio host Laura Ingraham in response to Paul’s remarks on gunrunning, “I’m somewhat familiar with the chatter about this and the fact that these arms were moving towards Turkey, but most what I know about this came from a classified source and I really can’t elaborate on it.”

Read more at Breitbart

Metadata and the common defense

1170275555Center For Security Policy, By Frank Gaffney:

The revelation that the super-secret National Security Agency has been vacuuming up so-called “metadata” from foreign and American communications has lots of us in a full-scale flail.

The libertarian Right denounces it as an unacceptable abuse of government power.  Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is inviting millions of Americans to join him in bringing a class-action suit before the Supreme Court to stop this now-not-so-covert program.

Even the Left that normally, reflexively supports whatever President Obama does is up in arms.  The original story broke in Britain’s virulently anti-American Guardian newspaper and its flames have been fanned by some of Mr. Paul’s most liberal colleagues, like Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Here’s the question that must be addressed:  Is this effort to detect and counter patterns of behavior that may be associated with terrorists and their plots legitimate and necessary?  All three branches of government have agreed that it is legal and required – provided Team Obama is not doing as it has done elsewhere: namely, abusing its powers for political purposes.

Unfortunately, supporters of this program are being buffeted by growing evidence that the Obama administration continues to blur – if not actually brazenly to cross – the lines between constitutionally appropriate and legal actions and those that are beyond the pale.

Notably, the Daily Caller uncovered the fact that Douglas Shulman, the man who as acting IRS Commissioner presided over the Internal Revenue Service’s scandalous abuse of conservative, Tea Party and Jewish organizations seeking 501(c) status, visited the White House 157 times from September 2009 to January 2013. That’s more than any Cabinet officer and far more than his predecessor, who went to the White House only once in four years.

So much for Obama partisans’ insistence that there is no connection between President Obama and this outrageous misconduct.  It strains credulity that neither he nor his subordinates were involved in, or at least being kept apprized of, the politicization of the tax-collection apparatus.  While we probably won’t know for some time exactly who was responsible – let alone whether they will ever be held accountable, the evidence of such rot in the system inevitably justifies skepticism about other government activities susceptible to abuse.

This is particularly worrisome in light of the extent to which Team Obama has demonstrated, with expert guidance from the same information technology companies cooperating with the NSA, technical superiority in using to maximum political advantage personal data that is public or commercially available.  The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns describes how the Obama campaign (both its official and private sector apparatuses) identified and “nudged” prospective voters with micro-targeting and data profiling.

In the face of an administration that often refuses to use actual intelligence about our enemies’ intentions (as with Major Hassan) lest they “offend” leftist and Islamist constituencies, the national security-minded are going to see a continuing need for broad data surveillance.  That will necessitate continued safeguards and checks-and-balances, with better-informed congressional oversight from the intelligence committees and judicial review of the nature of and justification for future use of this capability.

Those committees are acutely aware of their responsibility not to impede our ability to ferret out enemy cells, through delays or leaks.  This is especially a concern since our foes have proven agile in adapting their covert operations when they learn, usually thanks to leakers, about our intelligence collection sources and methods.

For all these reasons, we require a debate that goes beyond the unfolding one about the wisdom and constitutionality of NSA data-mining.  We also need to address whether we now must focus our intelligence assets and energies squarely on those who are most responsible for the threat we face at the moment: adherents to the Islamic supremacist doctrine of shariah and the jihadism (or holy war) it impels.

Needless to say, this would require myriad changes in the way the U.S. government has been conducting what it euphemistically calls “countering violent extremism.”  For starters, we need to jettison that misleading term.  It’s the jihad, stupid. And we need to undo forthwith the insane November 2011 decision by the then-Homeland Security Advisor to the President, now-CIA Director John Brennan, to purge information in the files of the FBI, the military, the intelligence community and Homeland Security Department that connects the dots between shariah, jihad and terrorism – and resume training rooted in that causal linkage.

It is seductive to believe that our security can be assured cost-free.  It can’t.  In the event of another, even more horrific jihadist bloodletting in this country, civil liberties could be sacrificed in a way that will make what is afoot at the moment – as best we can tell – pale by comparison.  Our challenge is to keep the latter from happening while minimizing the infringement on the vast majority of Americans’ privacy.  It would help in this regard if we dispense with the “political correctness” that is making us vacuum up everyone’s communications lest we “offend” those who are the source of the real threat.

Moral relativism and jihad

Two events happened on Wednesday which should send a shiver down the spine of everyone concerned about the future of the American Jewish community. But to understand their importance it is important to consider the context in which they occurred.

On January 13, The New York Times reported on a series of virulently anti-Jewish comments Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi made in speeches given in 2010. Among other things, Morsi said, “We must never forget, brothers, to nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred for them: for Zionists, for Jews.” He said that Egyptian children “must feed on hatred; hatred must continue. The hatred must go on for God and as a form of worshiping him.”

In another speech, he called Jews “bloodsuckers,” and “the descendants of apes and pigs.”

Two weeks after the Times ran the story, the Obama administration sent four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt as part of a military aid package announced in December 2012 entailing the provision of 20 F-16s and 200 M1-A1 Abrams tanks.

The Anti-Defamation League, AIPAC, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and other prominent American Jewish groups did not oppose the weapons transfer.

With the American Jewish leadership silent on the issue, Israel found its national security championed by Sen. Rand Paul. He attached an amendment to a budget bill that would bar the US from transferring the advanced weapons platforms to Egypt.

Paul explained, “Egypt is currently governed by a religious zealot… who said recently that Jews were bloodsuckers and descendants of apes and pigs. This doesn’t sound like the kind of stable personality we [sh]ould be sending our most sophisticated weapons to.”

Paul’s amendment was overwhelmingly defeated, due in large part to the silence of the American Jewish leadership.

The Times noted that Morsi’s castigation of Jews as “apes and pigs” was “a slur for Jews that is familiar across the Muslim world.”

Significantly the Times failed to note that the reason it is familiar is because it comes from both the Koran and the hadith. The scripturally based denigration of Jews as apes and pigs is legion among leading clerics of both Sunni and Shi’ite Islam.

It was not a coincidence that the Times failed to mention why Morsi’s castigation of Jews as apes and pigs was so familiar to Muslim audiences.

The Islamic sources of Muslim Brotherhood Jew hatred, and indeed, hatred of Jews by Islamic leaders from both the Sunni and Shi’ite worlds, is largely overlooked by the liberal ideological camp. And the overwhelming majority of the American Jewish leadership is associated with the liberal ideological camp.

If the Times acknowledged that the Jew hatred espoused by Morsi and his colleagues in the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as by their Shi’ite colleagues in the Iranian regime and Hezbollah is based on the Koran, they would have to acknowledge that Islamic Jew hatred and other bigotry is not necessarily antithetical to mainstream Islamic teaching. And that is something that the Times, like its fellow liberal institutions, is not capable of acknowledging.

They are incapable of acknowledging this possibility because considering it would implicitly require a critical study of jihadist doctrine. And a critical study of jihadist doctrine would show that the doctrine of jihad, or Islamic holy war, subscribed to by the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates, as well as by the Iranian regime and Hezbollah and their affiliates, is widely supported, violent, bigoted, evil and dangerous to the free world.

And that isn’t even the biggest problem with studying the doctrine of jihad. The biggest problem is that a critical study of the doctrine of jihad would force liberal institutions like theNew York Times and the institutional leadership of the American Jewish community alike to abandon the reigning dogma of the liberal ideological camp – moral relativism.

Moral relativism is based on a refusal to call evil evil and a concomitant willingness to denigrate truth if truth requires you to notice evil.

Since pointing out the reality of the danger the jihadist doctrines propagated by the likes of the Muslim Brotherhood involves the implicit demand that people make distinctions between good and evil and side with good against evil, moral relativists – that is most liberals – cannot contend with jihad.