President Obama’s Security Speech

Remarks by the President on the Administration’s Approach to Counter-terrorism

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release-December 06, 2016

MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, Florida

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much! (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you so much, everybody. Thank you. Everybody, please have a seat. Have a seat. Well, thank you so much.

Good afternoon, everybody. I was just told that was going to be the last “Hail to the Chief” on the road, and it got me kind of sentimental. I want to first and foremost say thanks to all of you. Just before I came here, I was able to visit with some of the men and women from MacDill Air Force Base, Central Command, our Special Operations Command to thank them for their extraordinary service. And so to you and your families, and to the extended family of American servicemembers, let me say that our nation owes you an unbelievable debt of gratitude. We are grateful for you, and will be praying for you over the holidays. (Applause.)

As you know all too well, your mission — and the course of history — was changed after the 9/11 attacks. By the time I took office, the United States had been at war for seven years. For eight years that I’ve been in office, there has not been a day when a terrorist organization or some radicalized individual was not plotting to kill Americans. And on January 20th, I will become the first President of the United States to serve two full terms during a time of war. (Applause.) Now, we did not choose this fight, but once it came to us, the world saw the measure of our resolve.

Continue reading “President Obama’s Security Speech”

A little history

The White House Fleeting Hope: From left, Israels Yitzhak Rabin, Egypts Hosni Mubarak, Hussein, Clinton and PLO leader Yasir Arafat in 1995
Newsweek

Barack Obama said virtually nothing last week about the fighting in Gaza. We only have “one president at a time,” his aides argue, and he has already called for a robust American peacemaking effort. Still, as the bombs began falling it must have been tempting for the president-elect to simply avert his eyes. Cries of “all-out war” make the risks to U.S. credibility abroad and the political costs at home seem infinitely more acute. Fighting in the Holy Land has been raging for thousands of years, the familiar reasoning goes; it would be hubris to think America could end it.
Yet three excellent recent books suggest that such logic is seriously flawed. In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, particularly, diplomatic distance virtually guarantees the status quo. Because Israel is so much stronger, power dynamics in the conflict are “deeply unbalanced,” write Daniel Kurtzer and Scott Lasensky in their trenchant guidebook, “Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace” (191 pages. U.S. Institute of Peace. $16.50). “Left on their own, the parties cannot address the deep, structural impediments to peace.” Over the past half-century, the price of a generally desultory American policy has been compounded.
That’s the takeaway from Patrick Tyler’s ambitious new history, “A World of Trouble: The White House and the Middle East—From the Cold War to the War on Terror” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 628 pages. $30). The bottom line, according to Tyler: “After nearly six decades of escalating American involvement in the Middle East, it remains nearly impossible to discern any overarching approach to the region such as the one that guided U.S. policy through the Cold War.” Still, starry-eyed naiveté is no way to solve one of the world’s most intractable conflicts. Martin Indyk’s nuanced new memoir of his tenure as a Clinton-era peace negotiator, “Innocent Abroad: An Intimate Account of American Peace Diplomacy in the Middle East” (494 pages. Simon ;Schuster. $30),demonstrates how hard the balancing act can be.

American diplomacy in the region wasn’t always so feeble. Back in the fall of 1956, intelligence reached Washington that Israel was massing troops near Gaza in the Negev Desert. U.S. officials discovered that Israel had conspired with Britain and France to seize the Suez Canal, which popular Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser had nationalized the summer before. The Americans were furious at their allies’ back-room plan. Israel’s then foreign minister, Golda Meir, made an argument much the same as what Defense Minister Ehud Barak has said since then: “Imagine attacks from enemies camped on the Mexican and Canadian borders inflicting those kinds of casualties in America.” But President Eisenhower wasn’t buying. As Tyler recounts, Ike went on television and demanded a withdrawal, later withholding oil shipments and loans to Britain. The conspirators were forced to comply.

“Special relationship” with one side

Obama got a birds-eye view of the Holy Land with Livni, right, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak
newsweek

If Obama Is Serious He should get tough with Israel by Aaron David Miller, NEWSWEEK, from the magazine issue dated Jan 12, 2009
Jews worry for a living; their tragic history compels them to do so. In the next few years, there will be plenty to worry about, particularly when it comes to Israel. The current operation in Gaza won’t do much to ease these worries or to address Israel’s longer-term security needs. The potential for a nuclear Iran, combined with the growing accuracy and lethality of Hamas and Hizbullah rockets, will create tremendous concern. Anxiety may also be provoked by something else: an Obama administration determined to repair America’s image and credibility and to reach a deal in the Middle East.
Don’t get me wrong. Barack Obama—as every other U.S. president before him—will protect the special relationship with Israel. But the days of America’s exclusive ties to Israel may be coming to an end. Despite efforts to sound reassuring during the campaign, the new administration will have to be tough, much tougher than either Bill Clinton or George W. Bush were, if it’s serious about Arab-Israeli peacemaking.
The departure point for a viable peace deal—either with Syria or the Palestinians—must not be based purely on what the political traffic in Israel will bear, but on the requirements of all sides. The new president seems tougher and more focused than his predecessors; he’s unlikely to become enthralled by either of Israel’s two leading candidates for prime minister—centrist Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, or Likudnik Benjamin Netanyahu. Indeed, if it’s the latter, he may well find himself (like Clinton) privately frustrated with Netanyahu’s tough policies. Unlike Clinton, if Israeli behavior crosses the line, he should allow those frustrations to surface publicly in the service of American national interests.

A little history

(The White House-Getty Images) Fleeting Hope: From left, Israels Yitzhak Rabin, Egypts Hosni Mubarak, Hussein, Clinton and PLO leader Yasir Arafat in 1995
(The White House-Getty Images) Fleeting Hope: From left, Israel's Yitzhak Rabin, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, Hussein, Clinton and PLO leader Yasir Arafat in 1995
Newsweek
MIDEAST

How We Got to This Point

By Kevin Peraino, NEWSWEEK, From the magazine issue dated Jan 12, 2009

Three recent books chart the winding path from Kermit Roosevelt with his suitcases stuffed with cash to George W. Bush’s gloomy Nobel Prize prospects.

Barack Obama said virtually nothing last week about the fighting in Gaza. We only have “one president at a time,” his aides argue, and he has already called for a robust American peacemaking effort. Still, as the bombs began falling it must have been tempting for the president-elect to simply avert his eyes. Cries of “all-out war” make the risks to U.S. credibility abroad and the political costs at home seem infinitely more acute. Fighting in the Holy Land has been raging for thousands of years, the familiar reasoning goes; it would be hubris to think America could end it.

Yet three excellent recent books suggest that such logic is seriously flawed. In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, particularly, diplomatic distance virtually guarantees the status quo. Because Israel is so much stronger, power dynamics in the conflict are “deeply unbalanced,” write Daniel Kurtzer and Scott Lasensky in their trenchant guidebook, “Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace” (191 pages. U.S. Institute of Peace. $16.50). “Left on their own, the parties cannot address the deep, structural impediments to peace.” Over the past half-century, the price of a generally desultory American policy has been compounded.

That’s the takeaway from Patrick Tyler’s ambitious new history, “A World of Trouble: The White House and the Middle East—From the Cold War to the War on Terror” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 628 pages. $30). The bottom line, according to Tyler: “After nearly six decades of escalating American involvement in the Middle East, it remains nearly impossible to discern any overarching approach to the region such as the one that guided U.S. policy through the Cold War.” Still, starry-eyed naiveté is no way to solve one of the world’s most intractable conflicts. Martin Indyk’s nuanced new memoir of his tenure as a Clinton-era peace negotiator, “Innocent Abroad: An Intimate Account of American Peace Diplomacy in the Middle East” (494 pages. Simon &Schuster. $30), demonstrates how hard the balancing act can be.

American diplomacy in the region wasn’t always so feeble. Back in the fall of 1956, intelligence reached Washington that Israel was massing troops near Gaza in the Negev Desert. U.S. officials discovered that Israel had conspired with Britain and France to seize the Suez Canal, which popular Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser had nationalized the summer before. The Americans were furious at their allies’ back-room plan. Israel’s then foreign minister, Golda Meir, made an argument much the same as what Defense Minister Ehud Barak has said since then: “Imagine attacks from enemies camped on the Mexican and Canadian borders inflicting those kinds of casualties in America.” But President Eisenhower wasn’t buying. As Tyler recounts, Ike went on television and demanded a withdrawal, later withholding oil shipments and loans to Britain. The conspirators were forced to comply.

Continue . . .

. . . or Mexico

Gaza Is Not Toronto: It Has Been Under Full Occupation For Over 40 Years

user-pic

“I ask any of my colleagues to imagine that happening here in the United States. Rockets and mortars coming from Toronto in Canada, into Buffalo New York. How would we as a country react?”

It is hard to believe that the Democratic Senate majority leader would parrot that ridiculous line.

But it is in all the “information” packages that the lobby is distributing, changed to reflect geography. In California, the question is what the people of Chula Vista, CA would do if they were being shelled from Tijuana, Mexico. In Burlington, Vermont, the missiles come from Montreal, Quebec. The info packets can apply the analogy to any two places located on an international border.

And the average Joe is supposed to ignore the huge difference in the two situations. The United States does not occupy Mexico or Canada, If we did, the missile attacks on Buffalo or Chula Vista or whatever might not be considered bolts out of the blue. Millions of Americans would demand that rather than bombing Ottawa or Mexico City, we consider ending our occupation of Canada/Mexico.

Continue . . .

A fight to the death?

Why Israel went to war in Gaza by Chris McGreal in Jerusalem, The Observer, Sunday 4 January 2009
‘Are you a target if you voted for Hamas?’ Last night Israel sent its ground forces across the border into Gaza as it escalated its brutal assault on Hamas. As a large-scale invasion of the Palestinian territory appears to be getting under way, Chris McGreal reports from Jerusalem on Israel’s hidden strategy to persuade the world of the justice of its cause in its battle with a bitter ideological foe




Why Israel went to war in Gaza by Chris McGreal in Jerusalem, The Observer, Sunday 4 January 2009

‘Are you a target if you voted for Hamas?’ Last night Israel sent its ground forces across the border into Gaza as it escalated its brutal assault on Hamas. As a large-scale invasion of the Palestinian territory appears to be getting under way, Chris McGreal reports from Jerusalem on Israel’s hidden strategy to persuade the world of the justice of its cause in its battle with a bitter ideological foe

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It is a war on two fronts. Months ago, as Israel prepared to unleash its latest wave of desolation against Gaza, it recognised that blasting Hamas and “the infrastructure of terror”, which includes police stations, homes and mosques, was a straightforward task.

(Photograph by Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images) Israeli activists wave banners during an antiwar demonstration in Tel Aviv
(Photograph by Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images) Israeli activists wave banners during an antiwar demonstration in Tel Aviv

Israel also understood that a parallel operation would be required to persuade the rest of the world of the justice of its cause, even as the bodies of Palestinian women and children filled the mortuaries, and to ensure that its war was seen not in terms of occupation but of the west’s struggle against terror and confrontation with Iran.

After the debacle of its 2006 invasion of Lebanon – not only a military disaster for Israel, but also a political and diplomatic one – the government in Tel Aviv spent months laying the groundwork at home and abroad for the assault on Gaza with quiet but energetic lobbying of foreign administrations and diplomats, particularly in Europe and parts of the Arab world.

A new information directorate was established to influence the media, with some success. And when the attack began just over a week ago, a tide of diplomats, lobby groups, bloggers and other supporters of Israel were unleashed to hammer home a handful of carefully crafted core messages intended to ensure that Israel was seen as the victim, even as its bombardment killed more than 430 Palestinians over the past week, at least a third of them civilians or policemen.

The unrelenting attack on Gaza, with an air strike every 20 minutes on average, has not stopped Hamas firing rockets that have killed four Israelis since the assault began, reaching deeper into the Jewish state than ever before and sending tens of thousands of people fleeing. Last night Israel escalated its action further, as its troops poured across Gaza’s border, part of what appeared to be a significant ground invasion. And a diplomatic operation is already in full swing to justify the further cost in innocent lives that would almost certainly result.

Continue . . .

How not to win a war

Report Spotlights Iraq Rebuilding Blunders By JAMES GLANZ and T. CHRISTIAN MILLER

BAGHDAD — An unpublished 513-page federal history of the American-led reconstruction of Iraq depicts an effort crippled before the invasion by Pentagon planners who were hostile to the idea of rebuilding a foreign country, and then molded into a $100 billion failure by bureaucratic turf wars, spiraling violence and ignorance of the basic elements of Iraqi society and infrastructure.

The history, the first official account of its kind, is circulating in draft form here and in Washington among a tight circle of technical reviewers, policy experts and senior officials. It also concludes that when the reconstruction began to lag — particularly in the critical area of rebuilding the Iraqi police and army — the Pentagon simply put out inflated measures of progress to cover up the failures.

In one passage, for example, former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell is quoted as saying that in the months after the 2003 invasion, the Defense Department “kept inventing numbers of Iraqi security forces — the number would jump 20,000 a week! ‘We now have 80,000, we now have 100,000, we now have 120,000.’ ”

Continue . . .

“Gonna be a Bumpy Ride”

The Central Virginia Progressive-The DAVISReport sends us

Foreshadowing the “R” Word- A Day Late and Many Dollars Short

Our Government is finally admitting what seems to surprise only them, that we are in a recession and have been for some time. “Duh”?! The following is a re-posting of a previous entry on this blog originally dated July 11,2008. Read in today’s light it seems like a 1,000 years ago and a lot more unsettling . . .

I just got back from a trip to California, going from Mexico to San Francisco, and other than the shore line, it is one big brown state. And the smoke, when you see all that dry dessert grass on the mountains, you get an understanding of their fire risk and why that state won’t stop burning.

In Mexico I learned two things I didn’t know. First California was named by early Mexican natives and it means “hot oven” and second it is a statement of accepted fact there that the U.S. is in a recession. My personal, though admittedly limited, international focus group collection data revealed that our international neighbors throw the fact of our recession around pretty comfortably and seem unaware that our own administration states we aren’t in one.

(“Oh Amigo, tourism is down due to American recession”; “The artisans will barter as business is down due to the American recession”). Is it important what the rest of the world observes about our economic health? I think so.

Continue reading ““Gonna be a Bumpy Ride””

Worth a try, right?

You’ve got to give these folks credit for trying:

Victory in Iraq
On this November 22, 2008, join us in observing Victory in Iraq Day.

Let us honor the sacrifice, dedication and sheer determination of American, coalition and Iraqi troops who have brought freedom to the nation and people of Iraq.

Although our governments have chosen to not name any official day marking the end of this war, we the people have taken it upon ourselves to commemorate November 22, 2008 as the day of victory over the forces of tyranny, oppression and terror in Iraq.

And, of course, the raping and pillaging of our civil liberties and our national treasury really didn’t happen.

I say four years too late.

Worth a try, right?

You’ve got to give these folks credit for trying:

Victory in Iraq
On this November 22, 2008, join us in observing Victory in Iraq Day.

Let us honor the sacrifice, dedication and sheer determination of American, coalition and Iraqi troops who have brought freedom to the nation and people of Iraq.

Although our governments have chosen to not name any official day marking the end of this war, we the people have taken it upon ourselves to commemorate November 22, 2008 as the day of victory over the forces of tyranny, oppression and terror in Iraq.

And, of course, the raping and pillaging of our civil liberties and our national treasury really didn’t happen.

I say four years too late.

Watching catastrophe

Photo: Yasuyoshi Chiba/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images via The New York Times

The United Nations warned today of “humanitarian black holes” in the North Kivu region of Congo as continued fighting has forced aid agencies to halt operations in some areas. At a camp for internally displaced people, a girl huddled near a fire in Kibati, just north of the provincial capital of Goma.

I trudged through Goma in late summer 1994. I was chronicling another human catastrophe, the outbreak of cholera and other disease in the wake of the Rwandan genocide that claimed over a million lives. You would think that lesson would be enough for the world to never let it happen again.

It is happening. Again. As the world watches.

Tony's Nobel grovel

I don’t remember who started it, or when it started, so let’s blame it on Jimmy Carter. The former president rehabilitated his public service record by becoming a world do-gooder in chief.

He built homes for the homeless, cured elections, and generally did whatever he could to expunge from the public mind, his four years of failure as president of the United States.
Today, more people remember Carter for his Nobel than for his presidency. Which is just as well. Carter was a decent man who was ill-suited for the presidency.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is another case. Blair had noticeable successes and following until he crawled into the lap of George W. Bush. He went to incredible lengths to help Bush sell a fraudulent war, eternally damning himself in the process. His once stratospheric popularity in England evaporated. He was soon chased from office.

Blair now wants to reconcile the world’s religion in the service of . . . globalization? What a crock. This effort might still win him the Nobel Peace Prize. It’ll still be stupid and fraudulent.