It Takes a Rogue Nation to Stop a Rogue State Posted By Daniel Greenfield

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The international community looked into Putin’s eyes and blinked. Multilateralism has failed as badly as it did in the days of the League of Nations, but then again it never actually worked.

The international order that everyone pretends is a real force in world affairs is really the United States and a few partners doing all the work and letting the diplomats and bureaucrats of the world pretend that they matter. Without America, the United Nations would be just as useless as the League of Nations. With America, the United Nations is only a deterrent when the United States puts its foot down and the rest of the world doesn’t get in the way.

It has become fashionable to denounce the United States as a rogue state. A military intervention, even with the backing of its Western allies, but outside the framework of the organizations of the international order, was deemed unilateralism and cowboy diplomacy.

And then Obama rode in on a three-speed bike and won a Nobel Peace Prize for his commitment to doing nothing.

Two new films explore the complexity of Israeli-Arab and Palestinian identity. One is propaganda, the other much more artful. Which do you think got the Oscar nod?
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ rules for Best Foreign Language Film provide that each “country” makes a single submission. This year there were 76 submissions—a record. An Academy committee reduced them to a nine-film shortlist, and a second committee chose five nominees, from four countries and one non-country: Belgium (The Broken Circle Breakdown), Cambodia (The Missing Picture), Denmark (The Hunt), Italy (The Great Beauty), and “Palestine” (Omar). The rules also require that a film be first released in the country submitting it. In the past year, Omar has been released in Europe and the United States, but not in “Palestine.”

The Academy bent its rules in the case of Omar, but the nomination presents issues even more important than the rule violations. This essay examines why Omar is characterized as a “Palestinian” film, and what it shows about whether “Palestine”—if it ever actually becomes a country—can live side by side in peace and security with Israel. It also takes a look at a second new film, Bethlehem, which is nearly identical in plot, quality, and in the questions it raises, and whose exceptional artistic merit makes the specific choice of Omar all the more unfathomable.
The synopsis of Omar by Adopt Films, the movie’s U.S. film distributor, is as follows:
Omar is accustomed to dodging surveillance bullets to cross the separation wall to visit his secret love Nadia. But occupied Palestine knows neither simple love nor clear-cut war. On the other side of the wall, the sensitive young baker Omar becomes a freedom fighter who must face painful choices about life and manhood. When Omar is captured after a deadly act of resistance, he falls into a cat-and-mouse game with the military police. Suspicion and betrayal jeopardize his longtime trust with accomplices and childhood friends Amjad and Tarek, Nadia’s militant brother. Omar’s feelings quickly become as torn apart as the Palestinian landscape. But it’s soon evident that everything he does is for his love of Nadia.

In evaluating Omar as a Palestinian film, consider these facts: The film’s screenwriter and director is Israeli. The actor playing the lead role was born in Israel and attended Tel Aviv University before moving to New York. The actress playing the beautiful Nadia is a 16-year-old born in Israel. The actor playing the key role of Omar’s friend Amjad is another 16-year-old born in Israel. Most of the movie was made in Israel (six of the eight weeks of filming). Moreover, Israel allowed the filmmaker to shoot wherever he wanted—he says “we managed to get permission for all of the places, even the wall,” which functions as a virtual character in the movie (featured prominently in the film’s poster, symbolically holding the young lovers apart).

The very existence of this film is a tribute to Israel—a country where a movie about “occupied Palestine” (a.k.a. the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria), and the “separation wall” (a.k.a. the “security barrier” that in most places is not a wall but a fence) can be made freely, not only without governmental opposition, but with explicit governmental permission.


Call them — us — paleos, isolationists, libertarians, non-interventionists, peaceniks, or what you will, a broad coalition touching left, right, and center precipitated out of the cloud of regrets and recrimination floating around the Iraq War specifically and the Bush foreign-policy legacy generally. The Left and the Buchananite Right reiterated their favorite conspiracy theories (respectively, war for oil and corporate profits and war for Jewish interests), but there was a realignment in less feverish quarters, too, as many on the post-Bush right recoiled from the final cost/benefit analysis of the so-called democracy project. The new non-interventionists might not have been entirely sure what we wanted, but we knew what we didn’t want more of, and that was the sort of foreign policy that has come to be fairly or unfairly synonymous with neoconservatism. Are we anti-neocons? Maybe, though that would imply a more adversarial position than is always the case. Perhaps we are only chastened post-neocons.

The Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine in prelude to effective annexation — and let us not pretend that it is something less than that — has presented us with the first great foreign-policy test of the post-neocon era. We are not handling it convincingly.

Senator Rand Paul, the most prominent of the anti-neocons and someone I admire greatly, was typical in his tepid, incoherent response to the Russian invasion. He wrote that we should “make it abundantly clear to Russia that we expect them to honor the December 1994 Budapest Memorandum,” and explained to the Russians, as though they had not considered the question, that “economic incentives align against Russian military involvement in Ukraine.” He hinted in the vaguest possible way about economic retaliation through the World Trade Organization.


Obama’s Pseudo-Scientism

President Obama came to California. He saw a drought. He announced the cause to be global warming and left. How accurate was the president’s diagnosis of harmful, man-made climate change in stopping rain and snow? First, a bit of a reminder about what the president has called “settled science.”

Until 1982 “settled science” decreed that stomach ulcers were a result of bad diet, too much gastric acid, or undue stress. Then Australian scientists Barry Marshall and Robin Warren shocked the medical community with an unlikely thesis: The real culprit for peptic ulcers more often was infection by the Gram-negative bacterium H. pylori, a common but sometimes dangerous agent in the gut that could be treated with antibiotics. The practice of gastroenterology was turned upside down.

Settled science insisted that annual mammograms were necessary to reduce the morbidity from breast cancer, on the logical hypothesis that only early detection could allow successful treatment of a disease whose contours were so poorly understood. Now, a new comprehensive Canadian study finds that there is no statistical evidence that a breast scan every year is any more efficacious in preventing morbidity than more sporadic testing.

In other words, nothing scientific is ever quite settled. Scientists debate the proper protocols through still more study and investigation in the arena of empirical give-and-take.

In similar fashion, the vast majority of the 19th-century medical community insisted that postoperative infections were due to bad air. Surgeons once prided themselves on their filthy bloody gowns as proof of their industriousness, convinced that airing out hospital miasmas would alone stop gangrene and other wound-related diseases. Then the surgeon Joseph Lister proved that Louis Pasteur’s theories of micro-organisms causing disease also applied to wounds — and that the use of antiseptics amid sterile conditions in the operating room and in hospitals generally could vastly curtail postoperative deaths. Soondek hospital whites, bleaches, and chronic washing became the new orthodox protocols, and Lister became canonized whereas he had formerly been dismissed as eccentric.

There is a long tradition dating back to Galileo — and beyond, to Democritus — of scientific heresy suddenly becoming orthodoxy, as “settled” doctrines cannot stand the light of free discussion, critique, and investigation.

Despite the Western inductive method and freedom of expression, however, human nature remains tribal. Scientists, like everyone else, find comfort in what is familiar, orthodox, and shared by their peers. Often they have invested lives and careers in ensuring that status-quo theories become unquestioned. They can be deeply suspicious of what is not institutionalized, and on occasion wildly intolerant of the nonconventional.

Such homogeneity also becomes wrapped up in religion, government, and culture. Skeptics like Galileo or Lister are often hounded, censored, and ridiculed. Plato so disliked the unorthodox, but prescient, atomic theory of Democritus that he dreamed of having his written work burned.

Just as, in the distant past, the dissident scientist was often dubbed atheistic or subversive, today the skeptic of man-caused global warming is dismissed as fundamentalist, illiberal, or anti-democratic. For many elite critics of Western culture and society, global warming has become central to a larger critique about the frenzied pace of capitalistic production, wealth creation, and consumption. Or rather, global-warming orthodoxy has become a partisan tool to stop things deemed bad, like fracking, horizontal drilling, or the Keystone Pipeline.

Often there is the flavor of elitism, as those with capital, secure jobs, and good salaries are less likely to suffer from the very real consequences of their own ideologies. A tenured climatologist, a Hollywood star, or a government bureaucrat, for example, is certainly not so immediately vulnerable to radical shifts away from a carbon-based economy as are truckers, well drillers, or construction workers. In the case of the now-billionaire Secretary of State John Kerry, who has a propensity for collecting carbon-spewing recreational vehicles and luxury boats, his lecturing poor Indonesians on limiting carbon use seems especially galling.

I do not know whether there is such a thing as deleterious man-made global warming, but I do know that it has become the new orthodoxy to such a degree that its adherents are now trying to silence their critics and would make the grand inquisitors of the past proud. Recent examples include a campaign to censor a Washington Post column by Dr. Charles Krauthammer, a Los Angeles Times protocol of not publishing letters skeptical of global warming, and a lawsuit to discredit the brilliant satirist Mark Steyn, who, as humorists are wont to do, mocked a pompous proponent of global warming.

But, as in the heterodox examples of H. pylori and antiseptics, critics of the theory of man-caused global warming point to a number of inconsistencies with the new climate-change orthodoxy. Some question the basic assertion that the planet itself has been recently warming up. They cite the incongruity of record-high carbon emissions over the last 17 years, accompanied by no evidence of increased global temperatures. And they point out that accurate weather record keeping is such a relatively recent phenomenon that there are not enough precise data to monitor long-term trends. Indeed, just four decades ago, the consensus of climatology was fears of a new little Ice Age, not of melting polar ice caps.


Gone are the days when the American president was capable of articulating the American interest.

V ladimir Putin seized Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula on Thursday, and Barack Obama delivered a short statement about it on Friday. The former tells us nothing we didn’t know already about Russia’s strongman. The latter tells us everything we need to know about a weak president’s feckless foreign policy.

Let’s take a look at what Mr. Obama had to say:

“I also spoke several days ago with President Putin, and my administration has been in daily contact with Russian officials.”

OK, but why? What’s the point of talking if you won’t even make use of what’s said?

On Oct. 18, 1962, Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko visited President Kennedy in the Oval Office and told him that the Soviet Union would never deploy offensive military capabilities in Cuba. This was a lie, as Kennedy already knew, and four days later he called Gromyko out on the lie in his famous “quarantine” speech, usefully embarrassing the Soviets and rallying U.S. public opinion at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Fifty-plus years later, Mr. Putin told Mr. Obama that Russia had intervened in Crimea because “the lives and health of Russian citizens and the many compatriots” were at imminent risk. That, too, was a transparent lie, as every report out of Crimea attests. The difference this time is an American president who registers no public complaint about being brazenly lied to by a Russian thug.

“We’ve made clear that they can be part of an international community’s effort to support the stability and success of a united Ukraine going forward, which is not only in the interest of the people of Ukraine and the international community, but also in Russia’s interest.”

In case Mr. Obama hadn’t noticed, Mr. Putin isn’t exactly keen on “the stability and success of a united Ukraine going forward.” It is precisely because a stable, successful and united Ukraine is inimical to Russia’s ethnic,


As a freshman U.S. senator in 2002, Hillary Clinton reveled in the freedom of her new position outside the White House.

Being first lady “is more of a vicarious responsibility in that you are, like everyone in the White House, there because of one person, the president,” she told The Washington Post at the time. In the Senate, “there’s a lot more opportunity to express my own opinions, to work through what I would do and how I would do it.”

Twelve years later, Clinton is inextricably tied to another administration over which she yielded only partial influence. And as President Barack Obama grapples to resolve the expanding crisis in Ukraine, the situation underscores Clinton’s dilemma as she looks toward a potential presidential run in 2016: Separating from the White House is a very difficult proposition, if it’s possible at all.

As secretary of state through Obama’s first term, Clinton was in many ways the face of the administration’s “reset” policy with Russia, an effort to establish a new relationship that focused heavily on fostering the relationship with then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

The administration’s allies argue that some positives emerged from the reset, and that trouble began with Vladimir Putin’s returned to the Russian presidency in 2012. Skeptics of the “reset” believe Putin never actually left the stage.


With Russian armed forces seizing control of the Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, President Putin has sent a loud and clear message to President Obama. In effect, Putin contends the U.S. support for the political upheaval that dislodged a Kremlin ally, means little in the face of the Russian bear clearly intent on reacquiring “the near-abroad” – those nations lost with the dismemberment of the Soviet Union.

In fact, Putin said the breakup of the Soviet Union was “the great tragedy of the twentieth century.” He is intent on repairing that “damage” even if it means a “breach of international law,” as President Obama noted. The Ukraine is the linchpin in the Putin scenario. But the question is how does the Obama administration respond. So far, a pattern has emerged in deliberations over Syria, Libya or Iran. The administration tests two extreme hypotheses: let events unfold on their own without direct U.S. intervention or military action. Invariably, the national security team opts for the former.

However, the very establishment of this paradigm is false. There are many alternatives between appeasement and war, alternatives that seemingly are ignored by Obama policymakers.

For example, a show of force may be desirable in letting an enemy know what you are prepared to do. In the Ukraine, the president might consider the deployment of the Sixth Fleet in the Black Sea. Provocative? Yes, but it does demonstrate U.S. resolve in a matter of utmost seriousness.


As we watch the events unfolding in Ukraine there is one theme I continue to hear presented by the pundits in the news media – the United States has no options. It is unconscionable that we find ourselves in a foreign policy situation where there are no viable courses of action to be implemented. What is even more disturbing is that Russian President Vladimir Putin was fully aware of this going into his standoff.

America, the erstwhile superpower, finds itself outmaneuvered in a resurging Cold War-type showdown. It seems former GOP presidential candidate Governor Mitt Romney was right after all. I just wish he had defended his assertion with a tad more vigor.

Thanks to the announcement by US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, I do not see us committing any military forces in support of Ukraine. And Pentagon officials confirm they are not working on any contingency plans in that regard. Hagel’s force reduction announcement was made the beginning of last week – it didn’t take the Russian president long to see a gap to exploit.

We telegraphed our intent starting in 2008 allowing Putin to make his incursion into the former Soviet state of Georgia.

SYDNEY WILLIAMS-“The Month That Was – February 2014”
“The most serious charge that can be brought against
New England is not Puritanism, but February.”
Joseph Wood Krutch (1893-1970)
American writer and environmentalist
Snow, cold weather, the Olympics and the deaths of celebrities were the main takeaways for the month of February. The month lived up to Joseph Krutch’s characterization. The blizzard of February 11-12 caused massive traffic jams from Atlanta to Boston. California had a drought, followed by mud slides. Twice, our flights to Florida were cancelled. Most schools in my neck of the woods have had seven snow-days this year, all of which must be made up before the little darlings are released in June. Even today, February 28, the thermometer read ten degrees.
As remarkable as many of the individual athletic feats were, the Olympics, in the opinion of this duffer, have become too commercial. Worse, we and other nations pay our athletes for the medals they receive – and then, of course, tax them. The opening and closing ceremonies have little to do with the spirit of amateur Olympics. Instead, they are an advertisement for the mythical wonders of the host country. Even in today’s world of outlandish excess, $51 billion is a lot of money – two or three times what the previous two Olympics combined cost. And with all that money, reports were that toilets didn’t work! Putting that $51 billion in perspective, Russia’s GDP per capita is roughly one fourth of ours. Modesty does not define this age.
The month began with the ascendancy of Janet Yellen to the chairmanship of the Federal Reserve. With her assertion that the economy was sluggish, markets sensed that tapering would cease or be done at a slower pace, thereby assuring that asset prices would continue to rise. The month ended with the scowling, scolding and outrageous Harry Reid calling out as liars poor souls who had lost their insurance because of ObamaCare. He sounded like an ill-tempered Senator McCarthy pouncing on Army Secretary Robert Stevens. If only some Democrat Senator, with the moral courage and innate decency of a Joseph Welch, would call him out. But the blood lines of politics seem stronger than decorum and respect. One must presume that Mr. Reid has no conscience; else he would have faded away in shame.

Crimea River Obama is Irrelevant to Putin’s Next Moves.

Sometime last Thursday, our intelligence community was telling its bosses that there was little or no chance that Russian President Putin would order his troops to seize control of Ukraine. These are the same guys that are telling us that Iran isn’t building nuclear weapons.

Fortunately, I have better sources. My friend Matt Keegan is a Russia expert and a serious student of their military. On Friday, Matt emailed me to point what should be in the front of the minds of President Obama and the other naïfs trying to figure out what was (and is) going on.

First, he said, Russia wants to control Ukraine because it believes it needs a land bridge to its strategic naval base at Sevastopol on the Black Sea. (The base has been there for about 200 years. When the Evil Empire fell apart, Russia began renting it from Ukraine.) He also pointed out that there are about eight major gas pipeline routes from Russia through Ukraine to reach Europe and Sevastopol. Without controlling Ukraine, Russia risks Ukrainian tariffs on gas or even pipeline sabotage. All of which meant, he said, that the Russians would send military forces into Ukraine to control some or all of that nation.