Syrian ‘Moderate’ Rebels Flocking to Al-Qaeda After CIA Halts Weapons Pipeline By Patrick Poole

A few of us have been predicting for several years now that the so-called “moderate” rebels in Syria backed by the CIA would inevitably collapse into the surging camp of Sunni extremists.

And now that is exactly what has happened, thus signaling the beginning of the end of any pretension of a “moderate opposition” to back in Syria.

In September 2013, the belief that the “moderates” vastly outnumbered the extremists of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra was taken as gospel by the Obama administration, both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, and the D.C. foreign policy establishment. Those of us challenging that conventional wisdom were a pretty small circle.

Now, the so-called “vetted moderates” are flocking to the banner of the rebranded al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, as the CIA halts their weapons pipeline while the smaller “moderate” groups fall willingly or unwillingly into the extremist camp.

So much for all that “vetting” by the CIA.

Reuters reported earlier this week:

CIA-coordinated military aid for rebels in northwest Syria has been frozen since they came under major Islamist attack last month, rebel sources said, raising doubts about foreign support key to their war against President Bashar al-Assad.

Rebel officials said that no official explanation had been given for the move this month following the jihadist assault, though several said they believed the main objective was to prevent arms and cash falling into Islamist militant hands. But they said they expected the aid freeze to be temporary.

The halt in assistance, which has included salaries, training, ammunition and in some cases guided anti-tank missiles, is a response to jihadist attacks and has nothing to do with U.S. President Donald Trump replacing Barack Obama in January, two U.S. officials familiar with the CIA-led program said.

As I have reported extensively here at PJ Media for several years, the “vetted moderates” have always played a double-game with jihadists groups. And now the Washington Post reports today that it has finally caught up with them. CONTINUE AT SITE

Walker Compares Today’s ‘Angry Mobs’ to 2011 Wisconsin Protesters By Bridget Johnson

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker compared the 2011 protests against his government to the protesters at town hall meetings and “angry mobs” blocking campus speakers, calling them “defenders of the status quo” trying to stop elected leaders from implementing their agenda.

Speaking to the Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington, Walker did not mention his former challenger in the GOP primary — President Trump — and focused heavily on his record in Wisconsin.

Walker said the current wave of protests across the country is “exactly” like what happened when thousands protested at the state capitol in Madison and elsewhere against the governor’s plan to limit collective bargaining. They culminated in a failed recall effort against Walker in 2012.

Walker said he called Education Secretary Betsy DeVos after she was recently blocked by protesters from entering a D.C. school. “You know what?” he said he told her. “Been there, done that.”

He recalled protesters gluing the doors to an elementary school shut when he was heading there to read to children. He entered the school after the door hinges were removed.

Walker said his programs in Wisconsin prove “common sense conservative reforms work.”

In a nod to the progressive platform of free college, Walker noted he has frozen tuition fours years in a row and guarantees “actual free speech for everyone” including conservative students, teachers and speakers at state colleges.

While slamming his 2011 protesters and drawing parallels to today’s demonstrations, Walker emphasized, “This is America; anyone can say what they want about the government.”

“I wasn’t going to let the noise of the protests drown out the voices of the majority who elected us to do the things we were going to do,” he said.

Truth, Terror and Nikki Haley’s Challenge at the UN By Claudia Rosett

Bravo yet again to Nikki Haley, America’s new ambassador to the United Nations. Speaking at an informal meeting of the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, Haley called out Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism, saying:

The United States will not hesitate to stand against the forces of terrorism, and that includes standing against the states that sponsor it, in particular the Islamic Republic of Iran.

This follows Haley’s refreshingly direct comments last week to the press — aptly praised by the New York Sun under the headline “Haley’s Comet” — in which Haley denounced the UN’s obsessive attacks on the democratic state of Israel. In those remarks, Haley lambasted the UN’s “double standards” as “breathtaking,” and threw in a mention of Iran as “the world’s number-one state sponsor of terror.” Here’s an excerpt:

Incredibly, the UN Department of Political Affairs has an entire division devoted to Palestinian affairs. Imagine that. There is no division devoted to illegal missile launches from North Korea. There is no division devoted to the world’s number one state-sponsor of terror, Iran. The prejudiced approach to Israeli-Palestinian issues does the peace process no favors. And it bears no relationship to the reality of the world around us.

With such remarks, Haley is bringing to the UN a voice of truth, decency, and plain old common sense that is a desperately needed departure from the usual diplomatic doubletalk. Credit her also for blocking the ploy by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to name as his special envoy to Libya a former prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, which is not a UN member state. The PA has been maneuvering for decades to obtain that status without keeping its promises to negotiate in good faith a lasting peace with Israel.

Haley is salvaging for the U.S. a role of integrity that, under President Barack Obama and his successive UN ambassadors, was all too often lamentably absent (recall Ambassador Susan Rice leading from behind on Libya, and Ambassador Samantha Power, who this past December abstained from vetoing Resolution 2334, with which the Security Council savaged Israel).

Both Haley and President Trump — who chose her — deserve credit for Haley’s stellar performance so far at the UN. On a number of vital issues not only has Haley hit the ground running, but in contrast to her predecessors of the past eight years, she has been heading in the right direction.

All that said, a warning is in order. This is the UN we are talking about — a mountain of unaccountable bureaucracy and moral sludge, where even for the best and brightest the job of trying to bring about any kind of genuine reform is like trying to clear a mudslide with a teaspoon.

Haley’s latest denunciation of Iran’s terror-sponsoring ways came in the context of a proposal by Guterres to create within the UN secretariat a new office devoted to combating terrorism. Like most reform proposals that originate within the UN itself, the thrust here — unfortunately — is to try to improve a rotten UN system by creating yet more of it.

Guterres is urging that to head this proposed new counterterrorism office, the UN — which is already rife with scores of senior officials — should create a post for yet another under-secretary-general. The idea, basically, is to consolidate an array of UN counterterrorism initiatives under a counterterrorism czar. In theory (I stress, in theory, not necessarily in practice), this would consolidate and streamline UN counterterrorism efforts, leading to better results.

Haley, amid her otherwise sterling remarks at Wednesday’s informal consultations of the General Assembly, was endorsing this proposal, urging that the UN expand its counterterrorism assistance to member states, and saying:

The United States supports the Secretary-General’s proposals to reform the UN’s counterterrorism architecture. These changes can start with the appointment of an Under-Secretary-General to oversee and coordinate the numerous entities whose work with the UN relates to counterterrorism. This new Under-Secretary-General will need to set clear priorities to implement the UN’s Global Counterterrorism Strategy.

That sounds good, but it almost certainly won’t work.

The basic flaw in the UN’s counterterrorism “architecture” is not lack of a yet another office, headed by yet another under-secretary-general. We’ve been here before, with proposals to streamline, consolidate, fortify, mobilize, and better manage UN counterterrorism efforts. Please see, for instance (if you can make any sense out of it), the UN web page on the CTITF 2005 coordination framework, which was supposed to solve the problems that the proposed new architecture is now supposed to solve. (The record suggests that terrorists, worldwide, are unimpressed.)

The basic failing here is built into the design of the UN itself, which welcomes as members not only freedom-loving democratic states, but also states that sponsor terrorism, or at least don’t mind terrorism as long as it is directed at others (especially if they can profit by abetting such activities as sanctions-violating arms smuggling). Typically, such UN member states strive to stymie or subvert UN offices and initiatives that are meant to help clean up the world. Thus does the UN Human Rights Council end up stacked with human-rights violators. Thus does the misogynist regime of Iran secure for itself a seat on the governing board of the UN’s agency for Women.

Bad grammar? It’s all good! By Henry Percy

Correct grammar is apparently just a social construct, much like gender, to judge from the sage commentary of the vice chancellor at the University of Washington Tacoma:

The university’s Vice Chancellor, Jill Purdy, claimed that the Writing Center’s new statement is a great example of how academia can fight back against racism. “Language is the bridge between ideas and action,” she claimed. “So how we use words has a lot of influence on what we think and do.”

Ms. Purdy was praising the leadership of Asao B. Inoue, Ph.D., Director, Writing Center, UW Tacoma: “I do research that investigates racism in writing assessments.” The title of one of the professor’s books indicates the scrupulously fair and even-handed approach he brings to the subject: Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies: Teaching and Assessing Writing for a Socially Just Future. The blurb is instructive:

To explain how and why antiracist work in the writing classroom is vital to literacy learning, Inoue incorporates ideas about the white racial habitus that informs dominant discourses in the academy and other contexts. Inoue helps teachers understand the unintended racism that often occurs when teachers do not have explicit antiracist agendas in their assessments. Drawing on his own teaching and classroom inquiry, Inoue offers a heuristic …

“White racial habitus… dominant discourses… heuristic” — if that isn’t enough to put you off your feed you have a stronger stomach than I.

The mission statement for the writing centers sounds noble enough: “The University of Washington’s writing centers are staffed by knowledgeable tutors who provide students with customized guidance on writing projects.”

For those unfamiliar with academicese, writing centers are for those “students” (“enrollees” would be more apt) who cannot even perform in freshman English. I’m not certain about the UW, but at a certain Big 10 campus it works like this, or it did several years ago.

High school seniors test out of freshman English if they can. Those who cannot must take freshman English. Those who cannot even perform at that level must take up to three quarters of remedial English without credit. But even that is not sufficient, so writing centers provide tutors to meet one-on-one with the students. Students who complete the remedial, noncredit classes must then take freshman English.

I know this because I taught freshman English. One of my students was writing at the level of a sixth grader, at best. It was not just the broken grammar, missing punctuation, and mangled spelling, there was no logic whatsoever, not even a wisp of an argument. After I got back his second writing assignment I took his paper to the director of writing, who suggested we look up the student’s records. He had taken two quarters of remedial English, receiving Ds. The director remarked that those were probably social passes. He then looked up the man’s ACT scores: fours and sixes. “My God! An ape could have done better!” I burst out laughing. “It’s true,” he said seriously. “You would get higher scores by guessing randomly. I think this person should not be at university.” I asked what I should do. “Give the paper the grade it deserves.”

I assigned an F, and the man dropped out a few weeks later. Was he well served by a chance to go to a large public university and collect another failure?

Trump Flushes Obama’s Transgender Restrooms By Daniel John Sobieski

It is ironic that liberals who insisted we stay out of the bedrooms of homosexuals and lesbians now insist that transgendered people should not stay out of the wrong bathroom

Let me be so indelicate as to suggest that the issue is common sense simple — where you pee ought to be determined by what you pee with. Period. This nonsense about self-identifying as a woman so a man can use the same restroom as someone else’s daughter is just that — nonsense. Just as it is nonsense about the Almighty putting you in the wrong body. You might be confused, but God is not. Male and female He created them and I’m quite sure He knew the difference.

So it was welcome news that President Trump has revoked the Obama administration’s “guidance” to educational institutions that requiring bathroom use based on birth gender and genitalia constitutes sex discrimination:

The Trump administration revoked an Obama-era mandate compelling public schools nationwide to permit restroom and locker room access on the basis of gender identity — a move that could have significant ramifications for a case before the Supreme Court concerning transgender rights.

The Departments of Education and Justice issued a joint guidance Wednesday evening rolling back the order. The two-page “Dear Colleague Letter” said the Obama administration had failed to substantiate the claim that Title IX’s prohibition on “sex” discrimination in education also applies to gender identity.

“In these circumstances, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice have decided to withdraw and rescind the above-referenced guidance documents in order to further and more completely consider the legal issues involved,” the order reads. “The Departments thus will not rely on the views expressed within them.”

The guidance also said the federal government must recognize “the primary role of the States and local school districts in establishing education policy.”

This nod to states’ rights as well as common sense is hopefully a sign that the federal government under President Trump is ending the abuse of federal power to social engineer society along progressive and liberal lines. It is good news and legal ammunition for states that have resisted this absurd form of political correctness, like North Carolina

North Carolina rightly resisted the politically correct federal bully challenging its commonsense law, HB 2, which says restrooms should be limited to people with the appropriate plumbing, and that cross dressers sharing the facilities with your daughter, wife, and daughter is not a good, or safe idea.

Eyeless in Gaza? No, clueless in Australia :Daniel Mandel

It is something of an event when a long-standing friend of Israel chooses to publicly criticize it and recommend recognising Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority (PA) (but not Hamas-controlled Gaza) as a sovereign ‘Palestine.’ In the case of former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, writing recently in the Australian Financial Review (14 Feb.), this was always going to be newsworthy, given his long role in passionately standing up for Israel in the labor movement at home and abroad amidst the radical furies of the 1970s.

Accordingly, Mr Hawke’s views command attention and their provenance can have an impact on an ALP seeking to define its stance. In fact, it probably has: since his piece appeared, former Labor Foreign Ministers Gareth Evans and Bob Carr have felt called upon renew their own calls for recognising ‘Palestine’ and they now been joined by former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd.

Mr Hawke was once an eloquent proponent of the view that Israel could not relinquish territories to forces inimical to its existence. Yet his views began to alter, perhaps as early as the late 1970s, but certainly by the mid-1980s. It is not unreasonable to suppose that his Israeli Labor counterparts, who were increasingly adopting the view that a Palestinian state might defuse the conflict, exerted an influence on his thinking. Witnessing a seemingly unending sequence of bloodshed and uneasy respites over decades inclines people of goodwill to suppose that a bold initiative might break the tragic logjam. And indeed, the Israeli Labor Party did eventually embrace this point of view, chartering in 1993 the Oslo peace process with Yasser Arafat and his Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), upon whose probity its ultimate success depended.

It did not work out as intended, at least on the Israeli side. The PA regime established in Gaza and Jericho in 1994, later progressively extended to other major population centers in the West Bank, proved a corrupt and violent entity which, far from fostering a renovation of Palestinian society away from terrorism and conquest towards peace and accommodation, actually incubated the jihadist terror organizations of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Children within the PA became hostage to an educational system replete with incitement to hatred and murder. One need only view a few video clips of Palestinian classrooms, with their pupils interviewed openly and proudly on PA television, extolling the religious and national duty of murdering Israelis, to see the bloodcurdling effectiveness of this sort of pedagogy.

None of this was altered or ameliorated by the transfer by Israel of territory, funds and, tragically, even arms, to Arafat’s forces, to say nothing of the vast inflow of foreign capital: in the Oslo era, Palestinians became the largest per capita recipients of international aid while, for example, tragically destitute Niger, with one doctor per 33,000 people, got peanuts.

Ambitious peace plans, going beyond what most Israelis before, then and since regarded as prudent, the first brokered by US President Bill Clinton in 2000-1, the second proposed by then-Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008, were rebutted without counter-offer by the PA.

U.K. Conservative Party Wins Key Local Election Trudy Harrison’s victory in Copeland is boost for Prime Minister Theresa May before Brexit talks By Jenny Gross

LONDON—The Conservative Party won a key local election in northern England after a Thursday vote, dealing a blow to the center-left Labour Party which had held the seat for decades, and giving Prime Minister Theresa May a boost weeks before she formally starts Britain’s negotiations on leaving the European Union.

Election results released early Friday showed the Conservative candidate Trudy Harrison took 44% of votes in Copeland, a constituency in northwest England, while Labour’s Gill Troughton came in second with 37% of more than 31,000 votes cast. The election marked the first time a governing party has taken a seat from a rival since 1982 in a byelection.

The Conservative Party wrote in a tweet: “Welcome to Trudy Harrison: Copeland’s first Conservative MP since 1935!” Ms. Harrison said the victory was a “truly historic event.”

The loss of Copeland, which had been a Labour stronghold, is a sign of how far the political landscape in the U.K. has shifted in the wake of Britain’s movement to leave the EU. Labour, which supported remaining in the EU, has struggled to hold on to working-class voters that once made up its support base.

In another race on the same day, Labour held on to a seat in another heartland, Stoke-on-Trent, a former coal-mining and pottery-making hub in the English Midlands. The anti-EU, anti-immigrant UK Independence Party, came in second, with the Conservatives in third.

Labour’s defeat in Copeland raises questions about whether its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has wide enough appeal to win in a general election and could spark a renewed movement to oust him. Mr. Corbyn, a leftist leader, has deepened rifts within an already divided party. While he has drawn support and big crowds with attacks on the wealthy and big business, his opponents will likely seize on this election as a sign that his appeal is too narrow.

Under his leadership, the party has been split over its approach to Brexit. In Stoke-on-Trent, roughly 70% of voters supported Britain’s exit from the EU, breaking with Labour’s pro-EU stance. Many former Labour voters say they feel increasingly disenchanted with the party’s Londoncentric view. CONTINUE AT SITE

Decoding the Zimmermann Telegram, 100 Years Later Trump should learn from Woodrow Wilson: Staying aloof from world affairs can’t keep America safe. By Arthur Herman

One hundred years ago, on Feb. 26, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson learned about the telegram that would pull the U.S. into World War I. The Zimmermann Telegram—a secret offer by Germany to help Mexico reconquer the American Southwest—not only compelled Washington to end a tradition of neutrality, but transformed the balance of world power for the next century. It’s a historical episode with important lessons as President Trump contemplates how to conduct international politics in the 21st century.

In 1914 Germany had launched its U-boat campaign, using submarines to sink ships without warning, including those from neutral nations. In May 1915 a German sub torpedoed a British civilian liner, the Lusitania, killing 128 Americans. Wilson threatened military action if it happened again, which forced Germany to impose restrictions on its U-boats.

As the war ground on, however, Germany began to view submarine warfare as its route to victory. By 1917 the German high command believed it could bring Britain and France to their knees in six months by sinking neutral ships and depriving the Allies of food and supplies. Yet the Germans knew this would arouse the ire of Wilson, who had won re-election only months earlier, running on the slogan “he kept us out of war.”

How to counter America’s potential response? On Jan. 19, 1917, Germany’s foreign minister, Arthur Zimmermann, sent a coded telegram to his ambassador in Mexico. The ambassador was instructed to offer the Mexican president, Venustiano Carranza, an alliance: If America entered the war, Germany proposed that Mexico open a second front against the U.S. The Germans would then help “regain by conquest her lost territory in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.”

In some ways, it was a clever move. Carranza was still smarting from President Wilson’s decision three years earlier to send an American force to occupy Veracruz, as well as Gen. John J. Pershing’s 1916 expedition against the bandit Pancho Villa. If there was a country in the Western Hemisphere ready to ally with Germany against the U.S., it was Mexico.

But if anything was set to turn American public opinion against neutrality, it was a secret plan to invade the U.S. The British, who had intercepted the diplomatic cable, knew this. So once they had fully decoded the Zimmermann Telegram, they made sure it landed on Wilson’s desk. They gave it to the U.S. ambassador in London on Feb. 24.

When Wilson released it to the public, the telegram rallied patriotic sentiment like nothing since the burning of the White House during the War of 1812. Yet the president remained hesitant. He still believed American neutrality was the best way to promote peace. Even after Zimmermann confirmed the authenticity of the message on March 3, Wilson waited nearly a month before asking for a declaration of war.

Fellow Democrats, Your Effort to Destroy the President Is Abnormal ‘How Can We Get Rid of Trump?’ asks one headline. You can’t—except by defeating him in 2020. By Ted Van Dyk


My own political involvement dates to 1948, when I canvassed door to door for President Truman. I subsequently was active in civil-rights, anti-Vietnam War and antipoverty causes and served in two Democratic administrations. In all that time I have never seen such a concerted effort to discredit and destroy a new administration.

Before 2017 not only the opposition party but media gave the incoming president leeway. Nearly every modern president has had to withdraw one or more cabinet nominations. Nearly all have had cabinet or White House staff shake-ups. Presidents Carter, Clinton and Obama all made embarrassing early stumbles, which were forgiven. The media overlooked “R-rated” personal conduct by Kennedy and Mr. Clinton and properly focused instead on their public duties.

You need not be a Trump supporter to conclude that the present anti-Trump media tirades are something new and disturbing. Free and independent media are vital to our democracy. But freedom must be accompanied by responsibility. President Trump came to office with the complicity of now-critical media, and riding a populist wave that also carried Mr. Sanders far into the Democratic nominating process.

Mr. Trump is demonstrating in office what was apparent from the day he announced his candidacy: He lacks experience, knowledge and governing temperament. But he deserves the same chance to govern that his predecessors were afforded. The manufactured rage in the media and political opposition is taking us to even angrier polarization in the country, and it will last longer than four years.

Mattis’s Pyrrhic Personnel War The defense secretary clashes with the White House about staffing the Pentagon. By Kimberley A. Strassel

Every military tactician fears the Pyrrhic victory—winning a battle but losing the war. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis might want to brush up on his Plutarch, as he continues to fight a one-man personnel skirmish.

President Trump promised to rebuild our hollowed-out military, a cause as urgent as any domestic priority. Years of Obama budget cuts and neglect slashed force sizes and provoked a readiness crisis. Over half the Navy’s aircraft are grounded. Of 58 Army brigade combat teams, only three are ready to immediately join a fight. The Air Force is short pilots and aircraft maintenance workers.

Mr. Trump chose a man singularly gifted to take on such a huge challenge. “Mad Dog” Mattis is a highly intelligent and revered Marine, whose time on the battlefield has made him intimately familiar with the needs of a fighting force. He’s a steely-eyed warrior who’ll fight for the rebuild mission, and who is willing to speak truth to his boss and Congress about what it will require. That is, if he will stand down long enough to get the project started.
Because right now, Mr. Mattis is fighting alone in the Pentagon, a situation of his own design. He was confirmed on Inauguration Day, yet as March approaches the White House hasn’t nominated a single subcabinet position in the Defense Department. No deputy secretary. No undersecretaries. No assistant secretaries. This is because Mr. Mattis is battling with the White House over who gets the jobs.

A soldier first—a politician only by presidential request—Mr. Mattis hews to the honest belief that defense should always be a bipartisan cause. He wants to choose his own team based on the strength of their views, political affiliations be damned. He wanted, for instance, former Obama undersecretary Michèle Flournoy for a top post. He’s looked to recruit from Ms. Flournoy’s liberal-hawk think tank, the Center for New American Security. And he’s pushed for some names who hail from Never Trump backgrounds, including Mary Beth Long, an official in George W. Bush’s Pentagon.

Perhaps only to make a point, Mr. Mattis is blocking some rock-star conservative talent. One is Mira Ricardel, a former Boeing executive and Bush Pentagon alum who helped with the Trump transition. Mr. Mattis continues to nix a long list of names offered by the White House team.

This defense secretary has one of the biggest jobs in the administration, and he’s right to want to be consulted and to have a team he trusts. There’s also nothing wrong with looking outside the partisan box.

At the same time, Mr. Mattis surely understands the chain of command. This isn’t just a question of choosing random “staff.” These are presidential appointments for consequential positions, with authority over budgets, personnel and operations. The Trump White House has a right to want people it trusts as much as it trusts Mr. Mattis. The former Marine is accorded influence. The president is accorded the call. CONTINUE AT SITE