Responding to Iran: Americans are not fooled by Khamenei’s lies. But what troubles us most is President Obama’s “feckless” policy towards Iran. He is presiding over the systemic collapse of American credibility around the globe.

MEME-SecondHolocaust-small(New York City, New York) — An Iranian official this week attacked an op-ed I recently wrote with Senator Santorum for CNN.com as “ludicrous, counterproductive and unfortunate.”

You can read our original op-ed here, and the Iranian official’s op-ed here.

Here is Senator Santorum’s and my response:

The American people are not fooled by the lies of Ayatollah Khamenei and his regime. Americans understand that Iran’s illegal nuclear program poses a grave danger to U.S. national security, to Israel, to NATO, and to our Arab allies in the Middle East.  

As we stated in our column, a new poll shows that 80% of Americans fear a “Second Holocaust” if the world allows Iran to build nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them. Given that the Khamenei regime is one of the world’s worst state sponsors of terror, Americans are right to be so deeply concerned.

 

The regime’s response to our column would be laughable if its intent wasn’t so diabolical. Tehran is trying to use Hitler-esque spin as part of its charm offense. The mullahs are saying they just want peace and are hoping the West will surrender and ease off — or dismantle — the sanctions, even as they steadily develop the ability to annihilate their enemies.

 

What troubles us most, however, is the feckless, rudderless foreign policy of President Obama. Do our enemies fear him? Do our friends trust him? To the contrary, Mr. Obama is presiding over the systematic collapse of American credibility around the globe, from the Middle East to Russia to Asia. This vacuum of leadership is creating a very dangerous global environment and must be corrected quickly.

 

We believe in a bipartisan approach to American foreign policy. The challenges we face are serious but manageable if we unite as a country around a policy of peace through strength. That said, we also believe in the important role of a loyal opposition that warns the government when it is heading in the wrong direction.

 

In the 1930s, Winston Churchill warned the world that Adolf Hitler and the Nazis represented a gathering storm that had to be stopped early and decisively lest disaster ensue. A new gathering storm is brewing, as dangerous as the last, if not more so. We need an honest, strong, principled American foreign policy now more than ever, especially when it comes to the Iranian nuclear threat.

The stakes are too high for miscalculation.

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Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog

Israel takes step towards becoming a gas exporter.

Israel-naturalgasplatform“Israel has taken a step closer to becoming a natural gas exporter after Australia’s Woodside Petroleum Ltd signed a deal to take a 25 percent stake in the huge East Mediterranean Leviathan gas field,” reports Ynet News. “The Australian company, considered a leader in the booming liquefied natural gas (LNG) sector, signed a preliminary agreement on Thursday to buy a quarter of the Leviathan field off the coast of Israel for up to $ 2.55 billion.”

Excerpts from the article:

  • Leviathan is estimated to hold about 19 trillion cubic feet (540 billion cubic meters) of natural gas, enough to supply all of Europe for over a year.
  • The field is being developed by US-based Noble Energy Corp, which will remain the project’s lead partner with a 30 percent stake, while the other groups involved, Israel’s Delek Group, Avner Oil Exploration and Ratio Oil Exploration, will each sell one-quarter of their stakes to Woodside.
  • “Woodside is one of the leading companies in the world in the … development of LNG facilities. The company brings with it rich experience … and will be a significant boost for the Leviathan partnership,” Delek Drilling and Avner said in a statement. 
  • Woodside sees the Leviathan project as an important part of its strategy to diversify outside of Australia. It is also considering projects in Myanmar and Ireland. 
  • Despite the prospect of lucrative gas exports, analysts said Leviathan would initially serve Israel’s domestic market.
  • “Leviathan will be initially developed as a domestic gas project with gross production of 800 million cubic feet per day and first gas expected in 2017,” Bernstein research said on Friday in a research note. 
  • Once domestic supplies are up and running, Bernstein said that Woodside’s involvement in the project meant that exports in form of LNG would become more likely. 
  • “There will be up to 9 trillion cubic feet of gas exports. Although it remains uncertain whether gas exports will be as LNG or pipeline, Woodside’s involvement increases the probability of a floating LNG scheme.” 
  • Analysts said the Leviathan field may also hold significant oil reserves of up to 720 million barrels, and that drilling was expected to begin in 2015.

To read the rest of the story, please click here.

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Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog

New polls find Americans prefer military strike to nuclear Iran, deeply skeptical of President’s approach towards Iran.

U.S. President Obama delivers remarks at the White House in Washington(Washington, D.C.) — Americans are losing confidence in President Obama’s policy towards Iran, and when push comes to shove prefer a military strike to allowing Tehran to acquire nuclear weapons.

Only 42% of Americans approve of the President’s approach towards Iran, a drop since December, finds a new AP poll released Tuesday.

What’s more, fewer than half the country believes the recent nuclear deal with Iran will work. A CNN anchor recently called the deal “a train wreck.”

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, President Obama insisted his Iran policy was working. He even vowed to veto a bill imposing new economic sanctions on Iran that is working its way through Congress.

“The sanctions that we put in place helped make this opportunity possible. But let me be clear: if this Congress sends me a new sanctions bill now that threatens to derail these talks, I will veto it,” the President told a Joint Session of Congress.

Yet another new poll released Tuesday finds that Americans strongly support sanctions on Iran, want more sanctions, are skeptical of the nuclear deal the President struck with Iran and don’t believe Iran will keep its end of the bargain.

“A new poll revealed Tuesday that one of the foreign policy achievements that US President Barack Obama is likely to tout – the interim agreement with Iran – may not enjoy broad support among the voting public,” reports the Times of Israel. “According to the study, conducted by the Mellman Group for the Israel Project, while a slim majority of Americans support the deal, a larger number of likely voters wish that sanctions relief had only been granted after Iran dismantles its entire nuclear program.”

“The poll also indicated that for most Americans, preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons is a ‘higher priority than preventing military action,’ said pollster Mark Mellman,” the Times noted. “The American public, he added, was “overwhelmingly negative in terms of how the administration handled Iran,” with 66% of likely voters polled giving the president a negative evaluation on his Iran policy. The poll surveyed 800 likely voters nationwide, and has a 3.5% margin of error.

  • When asked which is more dangerous for the US – allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapons or to carry out targeted military strikes against Iran — 54% answered that allowing Iran to develop nuclear capacity was a greater danger.
  • When asked again about which are most important goals for the US in dealing with Iran’s nuclear program, 68% selected “preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons even if it means launching military strikes” in comparison with slightly over 30% who answered avoiding military strikes even if it allows Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.
  • The interim agreement with Iran, considered by the administration to be a significant foreign policy milestone of Obama’s second term, was greeted by coolly by voters. When offered a description of the agreement, 55% said that they favored it, while 37% said that they opposed it. Among voters who said that they were already familiar with the agreement, opposition to the deal rose by about 10 points.
  • Despite the moderated support for the agreement, 57% of those polled said that US should have forced Iran to abandon its entire nuclear program before releasing sanctions.
  • Mellman also found that US voters were cynical as to the future of the agreement – only 35% thought it was at all likely that Iran would live up to the agreement.
  • Americans, Mellman found, overwhelmingly support economic sanctions against Tehran in a bipartisan manner – 83% of Democrats and 89% of Republicans said that they supported the sanctions. Fewer than 20% of respondents said that they wanted the sanctions reduced, while 38% said they wanted to see them strengthened….
  • Sixty-two percent of those polled said that they supported the demand that Iran dismantle its nuclear infrastructure before receiving any sanctions relief when that position was juxtaposed with the agreement currently in place, in which sanctions are lifted as part of a gradual process.

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Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog

In scathing memoir, former SecDef Bob Gates describes his “seething” anger against the President & his approach towards leadership and Mideast wars.

bobgates-book(Washington, D.C.) — “In a new memoir, former defense secretary Robert Gates unleashes harsh judgments about President Obama’s leadership and his commitment to the Afghanistan war, writing that by early 2010 he had concluded the president ‘doesn’t believe in his own strategy, and doesn’t consider the war to be his. For him, it’s all about getting out,’”  reports Bob Woodward in the Washington Post.

What’s striking to me about the excerpts that Woodward pulls from the book – Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary At War – is how angry Gates, 70, describes himself as being at President Obama, Vice President Biden, and the White House inner circle over their muddled, dysfunctional, confused and condescending approach towards leadership generally and towards national security policy in particular, especially  the wars in the Middle East.

At various points Gates — widely seen a calm, unflappable, non-ideological, bipartisan advisor to presidents going back to the Nixon administration – writes that he was “seething” and “angry” and “running out of patience on multiple fronts.”

Woodward calls the book a “highly emotional account.”

Notably, while Gates has gone public with his feelings and the reasons for them, I hear this same sense of deep frustration with the President and his national security team from a steady stream of generals, special forces operatives, intelligence operatives, and other national security officials up and down the line. They are leaving government service, or actively contemplating leaving. They are losing respect for the Commander-in-chief. They believe he is leading a retreat from America’s role as the world’s only superpower, and creating a vacuum in very dangerous places, the epicenter chief among them. Few of them want to speak publicly. Perhaps Gates is speaking not just for himself, but for them as well.

Looks like a book worth reading.

Excerpts from Woodward’s article, and from the book:

  • It is rare for a former Cabinet member, let alone a defense secretary occupying a central position in the chain of command, to publish such an antagonistic portrait of a sitting president.
  • The sometimes bitter tone in Gates’s 594-page account contrasts sharply with the even-tempered image that he cultivated during his many years of government service, including stints at the CIA and National Security Council. That image endured through his nearly five years in the Pentagon’s top job, beginning in President George W. Bush’s second term and continuing after Obama asked him to remain in the post. In “Duty,” Gates describes his outwardly calm demeanor as a facade. Underneath, he writes, he was frequently “seething” and “running out of patience on multiple fronts.”
  • Lack of trust is a major thread in Gates’s account, along with his unsparing criticism of Obama’s aides. At times, the two threads intertwine. For example, after the devastating 2010 Haitian earthquake that had left tens of thousands dead, Gates met with Obama and Donilon, the deputy national security adviser, about disaster relief.
  • Donilon was “complaining about how long we were taking,” Gates writes. “Then he went too far, questioning in front of the president and a roomful of people whether General [Douglas] Fraser [head of the U.S. Southern Command] was competent to lead this effort. I’ve rarely been angrier in the Oval Office than I was at that moment. . . . My initial instinct was to storm out, telling the president on the way that he didn’t need two secretaries of defense. It took every bit of my self-discipline to stay seated on the sofa.”
  • Though the book simmers with disappointment in Obama, it reflects outright contempt for Vice President Biden and many of Obama’s top aides. Biden is accused of “poisoning the well” against the military leadership. Thomas Donilon, initially Obama’s deputy national security adviser, and then-Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, the White House coordinator for the wars, are described as regularly engaged in “aggressive, suspicious, and sometimes condescending and insulting questioning of our military leaders.”
  • Leveling one of the more serious charges that a defense secretary could make against a commander in chief sending forces into combat, Gates asserts that Obama had more than doubts about the course he had charted in Afghanistan. The president was “skeptical if not outright convinced it would fail,” Gates writes.
  • Obama, after months of contentious discussion with Gates and other top advisers, deployed 30,000 more troops in a final push to stabilize Afghanistan before a phased withdrawal beginning in mid-2011. “I never doubted Obama’s support for the troops, only his support for their mission,” Gates writes.
  • As a candidate, Obama had made plain his opposition to the 2003 Iraq invasion while embracing the Afghanistan war as a necessary response to the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, requiring even more military resources to succeed. In Gates’s highly emotional account, Obama remains uncomfortable with the inherited wars and distrustful of the military that is providing him options. Their different worldviews produced a rift that, at least for Gates, became personally wounding and impossible to repair.

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>> New novel, “The Auschwitz Escape,” will release March 18th. Inspired by true story of the greatest escape of all-time.

>> Here’s my list of the Top Five most important events in the Mideast in 2013.

>> www.joshuafund.net


Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog