Although this article was written 3 months ago after Fidel Castro’s death, it is still very relevant today. Nancy
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
THE NEW YORK POST
The military fired me for calling our enemies radical jihadis
By Michael Flynn
July 9, 2016 | 11:26pm
Modal TriggerGen. Michael Flynn told Defense bosses the intel system was too politicized to defeat terror.
Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who is reportedly being vetted by Donald Trump as a potential running mate, was fired as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in the winter of 2014 after three decades in the military. Here he tells the real story of his departure from his post and why America is not getting any closer to winning the war on terror.
Two years ago, I was called into a meeting with the undersecretary of defense for intelligence and the director of national intelligence, and after some “niceties,” I was told by the USDI that I was being let go from DIA. It was definitely an uncomfortable moment (I suspect more for them than me).
I asked the DNI (Gen. James Clapper) if my leadership of the agency was in question and he said it was not; had it been, he said, they would have relieved me on the spot.
I knew then it had more to do with the stand I took on radical Islamism and the expansion of al Qaeda and its associated movements. I felt the intel system was way too politicized, especially in the Defense Department. After being fired, I left the meeting thinking, “Here we are in the middle of a war, I had a significant amount of combat experience (nearly five years) against this determined enemy on the battlefield and served at senior levels, and here it was, the bureaucracy was letting me go.” Amazing.
EXCERPT FROM THIS ARTICLE: Robert Kaplan called his regime “anarchy masquerading as tyranny. . . . Saddam was beyond ‘brutal.’ The word brutal has a generic and insipid ring to it . . . that simply does not capture what Iraq was like under his rule.” In 1980, he invaded Iran, starting a war that killed more than a million people and lasted eight years. In the aftermath, he gassed thousands of Kurds who tried to shake off his domination. In 1990, he invaded Kuwait, in an attempt to seize control of its oil fields, from which he was ejected months later by an American-led coalition assembled by the first President Bush. He spent the next decade in attempts to avoid the conditions of weapons inspections on which the cease-fire was based. (see more below)
Is the world better off than it was eight years ago?
Is the Middle East? Is Iraq? These questions, echoing the one asked by Ronald Reagan in his debate with Jimmy Carter just before the 1980 election, should be posed by all Republicans until the polls close in November 2016. Added to these are a few other things . . .
Is Ukraine better off? Do we have more allies? Are we more trusted by them? Of course some countries are better off now than they were before Barack Obama unleashed his transformative powers, but these include Iran, Russia, and Cuba, which may not be a good thing. (On the other hand, our relations with Israel, the Gulf Arabs, and the former possessions of the Soviet empire have hit a new low.) Is the Western world safer from terrorist violence? Since ISIS exploded, violent incidents triggered by it have taken place in countries as widespread as Denmark, Australia, and France. By contrast, since the shock of September 11, 2001, nothing of the sort has taken place again in America, which most at the time would have thought an unlikely development. In the weeks and months after, President Bush, in a very short time and under a great deal of pressure, constructed protocols for the containment of terror that prevented further attacks on this country, and that Obama, despite much complaining, once he was in office did nothing to change. It is a fact that after a brilliantly executed invasion in 2003, Bush let the occupation of Iraq begin badly, and become a catastrophe, but it is a fact too that at the very last moment he changed course dramatically, and—against the intense opposition of the Democrats—turned the situation around by the time he left office, so dramatically that in a few years the Democrats would be saying it had been their accomplishment.
Despite the complaints from the left (and from some on the right) that the Bush foreign policy had been a disaster, the facts are that his security policy was a success, and he left Iraq on a fairly sound footing and in the process of evolving into an imperfect democracy. (If you don’t believe that, see what the Democrats were saying circa 2010-2012, or just prior to our leaving that country.) The last two are facts, based on what did and what failed to happen, and the assessments made at the time, and not later in retrospect. On the contrary, the complaints made by critics—that the invasion of Iraq was unwise and unwarranted, and that the world would have been better off had Saddam stayed in power—are based on conjecture, and the creation of alternative outcomes in projected scenarios that have no basis in fact. (more…)
I interviewed Bashar al-Assad about Syria’s civil war. He’s still too delusional to end it.
By Jonathan Tepperman Washington Post January 30 2015
Jonathan Tepperman, the managing editor of Foreign Affairs magazine, is writing a book on how to solve the world’s toughest political and economic challenges.
In recent weeks, Western governments have begun subtly shifting their positions on Syria. The Obama administration seems to have quietly dropped its demand that President Bashar al-Assad resign as a precondition of peace talks. Instead, reports suggest it has embraced proposals that would allow Assad to be part of an interim deal. The new approach implies that the White House and its allies believe that the Syrian president might be open to a compromise that could end his country’s four-year civil war.
I met with Assad on Jan. 20 in Damascus — his first interview by an American journalist since 2013. And if there was one clear takeaway from our talk, which you can read in full in Foreign Affairs, it was this: Such hopes are a fantasy. Superficially, Assad said many of the right things, appearing conciliatory and eager to involve Western governments in his struggle against Islamist terrorism. But underneath the pretty words, he remains as unrepentant and inflexible today as he was at the start of the Syrian civil war four years ago. Assad seems to have no idea how badly the war is going, how impractical his proposals sound and how meaningless his purported overtures are. Which means that, whatever Western leaders might wish, the fighting in Syria will end in one of two ways. Either Assad will defeat the rebels. Or the rebels will defeat him — and string him up by his toes.
Visiting Syria today is a strange and unsettling experience. The signs of war are everywhere. Damascus is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and concentric rings of army checkpoints, manned by twitchy soldiers unsure how to respond when a solitary American — I traveled without security but hired a local driver — shows up. (Some were indifferent, others were hostile, and one grabbed my hand and declared, “The Syrian Arab Republic Army loves the American press!”) High concrete blast walls shield most buildings, red-and-white-striped gun turrets loom over intersections, posters of Assad in shades and black military dress hang from lampposts, United Nations aid workers fill the hotels, and the booms and pops of artillery and mortar fire echo from the front, just a few miles away.
Yet despite the siege, cafes and markets are bustling. The streets are thronged with families out shopping, with students heading to school — and with hundreds of thousands of refugees who have more than doubled the city’s population since the war began. (more…)
Elliott Abrams is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of Tested by Zion: The Bush Administration and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
EXCERPT FROM THIS ARTICLE: “America’s reputation suffers,” Obama said, and he is right. Certainly our inaction in Syria has been noted in Jerusalem, where our resolve to stop the Iranian nuclear weapons program is the critical concern. When Moscow judges what we will do as Russia presses Ukraine, and when Beijing estimates the American reaction to a new “air defense zone” in the East China Sea, the gap between words and actions in Syria must be high on the agenda.
But the reputation that will in the end suffer most is Obama’s. He is presiding over a humanitarian disaster where war crimes and atrocities occur each day and he responds with speeches. He is conceding a strategic victory to Iran and Hezbollah, who have decided to win in Syria and have rejected the administration line that “there is no military solution.” He has weakened our own alliances, for example dragging British prime minister David Cameron into a dispiriting defeat in the House of Commons when he rushed to join a military strike that Obama soon abandoned. He is endangering our safety by allowing jihadists to turn Syria into their world center of activity. And over the next three years, he is likely to reap what he has sowed. The problem is, so will we.
When the history of the Obama administration is written, there will be a long and damaging chapter on its immense humanitarian and strategic failure in Syria. With three years of Obama yet to come, we have not even seen the full humanitarian disaster play out—nor have we yet confronted the dangers that are arising there from the vast jihadist presence.
There are hard choices to be made when strategic and humanitarian interests diverge or even conflict. In Syria, they combined: The United States had an obvious interest in seeing the Assad regime replaced, and two and a half years ago Obama said Assad must go. After all, this was an enemy regime, tied to Iran and Hezbollah and brutal in its repression of all dissent, and it had a good deal of American blood on its hands because it had facilitated the travel of jihadists to Iraq to kill Americans in the previous decade. Assad’s departure would be a grave setback to Iran and Hezbollah and a great boon to the people of Syria, who would have a chance to establish a decent government. The population is 74 percent Sunni, so Assad as an Alawite was always going to have to rule by the gun; a Sunni-led government might be able to rely on the ballot box or at least on a less repressive system.
As part of the “Arab Spring,” a revolt had started—and Assad had tried to crush it by killing uninvolved civilians and peaceful protesters. Unlike Ben Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt, who gave up power, Assad had not flinched: His reaction was to crush the opposition with any force necessary. He used chemical weapons, air attacks on civilian neighborhoods, artillery assaults on medical facilities and dense civilian housing. His method of dealing with opposition was mass murder, and this was evident early. So the toll mounted, and today there are probably 200,000 dead—some estimates are double that—and one fourth of the population is homeless, now refugees or displaced persons.
Assad’s murders gave rise to an armed opposition, and there was some pressure to help it get organized. Assad, not the people of Syria, had chosen blood, and his killings were aided by Iran and Hezbollah—with arms supplied by Russia. America’s Gulf Arab allies (primarily Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE) and Turkey wanted Assad out and saw the battle for Syria as a critical security issue for the entire region. So did the French. So did key Obama administration officials: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then her successor John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates urged support for the rebels. The danger was not just that they would lose, but that they would become radicalized unless there were a serious effort to train and arm nonjihadist forces.
Without American leadership, the Arabs and Turks would be unable to put together a coherent program and might back groups we viewed as extreme and dangerous, and tied to al Qaeda. With American leadership, especially early on, we could have organized a coherent international effort to back nonjihadist Sunni rebels, make them stronger than their rivals, and enable them to fight against the regime and against al Qaeda-linked jihadists. Indeed the vacuum that sucked in jihadists from all over the world would never have been created. Nor is this 20-20 hindsight; there were plenty of people inside and outside the administration urging the more active policy for the United States. (more…)
Israel could be forgiven for having a siege mentality — given that at any moment, old frontline enemies Syria and Egypt might spill their violence over common borders.
The Arab Spring has turned Israel’s once-predictable adversaries into the chaotic state of a Sudan or Somalia. The old understandings between Jerusalem and the Assad and Mubarak kleptocracies seem in limbo.
Yet these tragic Arab revolutions swirling around Israel are paradoxically aiding it, both strategically and politically — well beyond the erosion of conventional Arab military strength.
In terms of realpolitik, anti-Israeli authoritarians are fighting to the death against anti-Israeli insurgents and terrorists. Each is doing more damage to the other than Israel ever could — and in an unprecedented, grotesque fashion. Who now is gassing Arab innocents? Shooting Arab civilians in the streets? Rounding up and executing Arab civilians? Blowing up Arab houses? Answer: either Arab dictators or radical Islamists.
The old nexus of radical Islamic terror of the last three decades is unraveling. With a wink and a nod, Arab dictatorships routinely subsidized Islamic terrorists to divert popular anger away from their own failures to the West or Israel. In the deal, terrorists got money and sanctuary. The Arab Street blamed others for their own government-inflicted miseries. And thieving authoritarians posed as Islam’s popular champions.
But now, terrorists have turned on their dictator sponsors. And even the most ardent Middle East conspiracy theorists are having troubling blaming the United States and Israel. (more…)
In the beginning, the Hebrew Bible tells us, the universe was all “tohu wabohu,” chaos and tumult. This month the Middle East seems to be reverting to that primeval state: Iraq continues to unravel, the Syrian War grinds on with violence spreading to Lebanon and allegations of chemical attacks this week, and Egypt stands on the brink of civil war with the generals crushing the Muslim Brotherhood and street mobs torching churches. Turkey’s prime minister, once widely hailed as President Obama’s best friend in the region, blames Egypt’s violence on the Jews; pretty much everyone else blames it on the U.S.
The Obama administration had a grand strategy in the Middle East. It was well intentioned, carefully crafted and consistently pursued.
Unfortunately, it failed.
The plan was simple but elegant: The U.S. would work with moderate Islamist groups like Turkey’s AK Party and Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood to make the Middle East more democratic. This would kill three birds with one stone. First, by aligning itself with these parties, the Obama administration would narrow the gap between the ‘moderate middle’ of the Muslim world and the U.S. Second, by showing Muslims that peaceful, moderate parties could achieve beneficial results, it would isolate the terrorists and radicals, further marginalizing them in the Islamic world. Finally, these groups with American support could bring democracy to more Middle Eastern countries, leading to improved economic and social conditions, gradually eradicating the ills and grievances that drove some people to fanatical and terroristic groups. (more…)