BEN WEINGARTEN

Reader. Writer. Thinker. Commentator. Truth Seeker.

Tag: Syria (Page 1 of 2)

azaz_syria_during_the_syrian_civil_war_missing_front_of_house

3 Lessons From Syria for an American-First Foreign Policy

On a bipartisan basis, America’s foreign policy establishment has championed a progressive, Wilsonian internationalist agenda that has served to our great detriment over the last 30 years.

Syria presents an ideal case study illustrating the pitfalls of this stultifying status quo.

In a new piece at Conservative Review, I analyze three aspects of that situation worth exploring as we look to build a framework for a new national interest-oriented foreign policy, focusing on the familiar themes of (i) Deposing relatively secular authoritarian dictators, (ii) Arming Islamic “rebels” and (iii) Picking sides in the Sunni-Shia war.

I close my piece with the following assertion:

…[E]very situation in the Middle East, and indeed the world, must not be viewed parochially. Strategic thinking requires understanding all of the players on the ground both immediately and as proxies for other forces, as well as understanding the different goals, strategies and tactics of each of the players. Often, the U.S. is going to be left with a series of bad options and outcomes, and near-term interests that may conflict with longer-term goals. In the case of ISIS for example, America must defeat them. As with the victory over any enemy however, we must also be looking downfield at who might fill ISIS’ vacuum. For the destruction of ISIS would not only represent the elimination of our jihadist foe, but the elimination of a Sunni competitor to Iran in its quest for hegemony. Such complexity underscores the significance of Sun Tzu’s urging that we know our enemies, but also know ourselves.

For decades policymakers have eschewed such analysis. Our leaders have often failed to articulate a basic explanation for why their decisions are in our national interest. They have failed to present a sober cost-benefit analysis for such actions based on a clear understanding of the nature of the enemy. They have failed to think thought through the knock-on effects of such actions on the broader world chessboard. Most pernicious of all, they have allowed politics and political correctness to inform decision-making, rather than forthrightly dealing with the world as it is.

The U.S. has the greatest assets in the world. But they have been misused thanks to a lack of knowledge, judgment, and strategic thinking. The Trump administration provides an opportunity to change this dynamic, an opportunity that we must seize.

You can read the whole thing here.

Read More

cropped-shot-3

Salon: A Spirited Discussion on Syria, the Sunni-Shia Battle for the Middle East and Russia

Salon gave me the opportunity to come on as the token conservative panelist in a discussion with host Carrie Sheffield of Bold and longtime national security/foreign affairs correspondent Courtney Kealy.

Check out our conversation on Syria, the Sunni-Shia battle for the Middle East and the broader proxy war going on between Russia and the U.S.

Carrie Sheffield sits down with Benjamin Weingarten and Courtn…WATCH LIVE: What is Aleppo? Don’t be like Gary Johnson. Here’s all you need to know about the crisis in Aleppo.

Posted by Salon on Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Featured Image Source: Salon/Facebook Live

1-Tqq27fJNbZFu5F9eABAsaA

My Interview With Cruz National Security Advisor Dr. Victoria Coates on ‘David’s Sling’

I recently had the opportunity to speak at length with Republican Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz’s national security and foreign policy brain trust, Dr. Victoria Coates, on behalf of Encounter Books in connection with the release of her intellectually stimulating and compelling new David’s Sling: A History of Democracy in Ten Works of Art.

During our extensive interview — which you can listen to in full or in parts per the below — we discuss the indelible link between democracy and creativity, the significance of great works of art and architecture in the history of freedom from Michelangelo’s David to the Parthenon and Picasso’s Guernica, why the entrepreneurial art community endorses political stances anathema to the freedom that sustains it, and everything you would ever want to know about Sen. Ted Cruz’s foreign policy vision. On this latter point, among other subjects, Dr. Coates and I discuss the principles that form the Cruz Doctrine, who in the foreign policy sphere truly carries the mantle of Jeanne Kirkpatrick, what “winning” in the Middle East would look like for America under a President Cruz, Saudi Arabia vs. Iran, whether America has a responsibility under NATO to defend an Islamic supremacist Turkish regime against Russia, how a President Cruz would handle an ascendant Russia, the long-term threat posed by China and how to counter her, the greatest threat to America’s national interest we are most underestimating or ignoring, and much more.

You can also read the transcripts to both parts of our interview here (Part I on David’s Sling) and here (Part II on Foreign Policy/National Security.

Return to Winter

My Interview with Longtime Democratic Strategist Doug Schoen on ‘Return to Winter: Russia, China, and the New Cold War Against America’

Check out my latest interview on behalf of Encounter Books with longtime Democratic strategist and friend Doug Schoen, in connection with the newly released edition of his Return to Winter: Russia, China, and the New Cold War Against America.

During the interview, which you can listen to below, Doug and I discuss the acceleration of the Russia-China strategic partnership against America and the West, their aims in Syria, the threat of cyberwarfare, how the next American president can fix the mess President Obama has created, Doug’s predictions for Russian action in 2016, Trump and Cruz vs. Rubio, Hillary Clinton, and the one thing people are discounting that could play an outsized role in the upcoming U.S. presidential election:

Featured Image Source: Encounter Books.

PJ Media: Serial Islamic Supremacist Enabler Lindsey Graham’s Laughable Attack on Ted Cruz

Check out my latest at PJ Media, where I delve into the long overdue foreign policy battle between the “right-wing” Wilsonianism espoused by Sen. Lindsey Graham et al, and in my opinion the superior policy articulated best by Jeane Kirpatrick, and I believe being represented most faithfully by Sen. Ted Cruz.

A taste:

[Sen. Lindsey] Graham may be a marginal figure in the polls, but his comments come in context of a critical and long overdue battle that has broken out within the Republican Party to define a conservative foreign policy superior to the “right-wing” Wilsonianism of George W. Bush, and left-wing Wilsonianism of Barack Obama under which mortal enemies have ascended.

In particular, a spat has broken out between Cruz and what may prove his stiffest competition, Sen. Marco Rubio. Graham, though perhaps less articulate and more impolitic than Rubio, serves as something of a stalking horse given that their positions on issues in the Middle East are largely indistinguishable.

Graham’s attack was in fact reminiscent of similar rhetoric we have seen from those in the Rubio camp in recent days.

For my money, I take Cruz’s judicious and clear-eyed policy over a third and fourth term of George W. Bush’s well-intentioned but ultimately detrimental democracy spreading.

And if Graham or Rubio for that matter takes issue with Cruz’s foreign policy in Syria in particular, one would be interested to hear what they would say to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for whom what goes on in Syria has direct consequences. Netanyahu said recently:

If I see a situation where I don’t have a clear concept, I don’t charge in. In Syria, I do not see a simple concept because you choose here between a horrible secular dictatorship or the two other prospects that would be buttressed by Iran, and you would have Iran run Syria, a horrible prospect for us, or Da’ish, which is also touching our borders on the Golan. When two of your enemies are fighting each other, I don’t say strengthen one or the other. I say weaken both, or at least don’t intervene, which is what I’ve done. I’ve not intervened.It is hard to argue with that.

Read the whole thing here.

No, Islamic Supremacism is not ‘Nihilistic,’ and Syrian Refugees Aren’t Like Jews in World War II

Recently I had the chance to appear on SiriusXM’s “Steele & Ungar” to take up a spirited debate with my lefty pal Rick Ungar and ally Ron Christie on American policy vis-à-vis Syrian refugees, Ungar’s contention that to bar such refugees from America is akin to FDR preventing Jews fleeing Europe from entering the country during World War II and Islamic supremacism more broadly.

Because it’s always good to attack the callers, this was one of my favorite parts of the show in which I challenge the idea that Islamic supremacism is a “nihilistic” ideology:

My appearance began with a back-and-forth between myself and Rick on what is in America’s national interest with respect to the Syrian refugees, and why I take issue with his World War II analogy:

We later continued that debate:

Lastly, here is what I think the most compassionate thing we can do for refugees in the Middle East is:

Newsmax Malzberg

Me to Malzberg: Remove Violent Extremist Right-Wingers and Replace Them With Refugees

Just kidding!

Last night (11/24) I had the opportunity to speak with Newsmax host Steve Malzberg and former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) on the topic of Syrian refugees and the global jihad more broadly.

Check out our conversation below:

Newsmax Foreign Policy Clip

Obama’s Jihad Empowering Foreign Policy and America’s National Interest in Syria

On Friday 10/31, I sat in as a guest again on Newsmax TV’s “The Daily Wrap.”

During the episode, we had the chance to discuss a variety of issues including Obama’s deployment of a limited number of American Special Forces members to Syria to help Syrian “rebels” (read: “good” jihadists) in the fight against ISIS, reaction to the CNBC GOP Debate and proposals for improving future ones, Hillary Clinton’s crude politicization of the VA, and more!

You can watch the show in full, along with some particularly pertinent clips below.

Full Episode

Obama’s Foreign Policy, Syria and ISIS

GOP Anger with the CNBC Debate

Read More

Participants in Tehran's Quds Day rally burn U.S. and Israeli flags, on July 10, 2015. (Image source: ISNA)

Apropos John Kerry’s ‘Emotional’ Jews, the Holocaust and Iran

Matti Friedman, he of some truly exceptional reporting on blatant anti-Israel bias in the media, has written a book review highly relevant in a time in which those who oppose President Obama’s Iran Deal are derided as “emotional” by the likes of Secretary of State John Kerry and others.

Describing Padraig O’Malley’s theories about Israeli Jews in The Two State Delusion, Friedman writes:

The “bonding, primal element” of the Jewish psyche, we learn, is the Holocaust. Israelis are in thrall to weapons because of the Holocaust; they are obtuse to the suffering of others because of the Holocaust; and in general they are sort of crazy because of the Holocaust. Actually, half of the Jewish population in Israel has roots in the Islamic world. Their families were displaced by Muslims, not Nazis. Israelis think many of their neighbors are out to destroy Israel not because of the Holocaust, but because many of their neighbors say they are out to destroy Israel. Israel’s actions in the Middle East, in other words, have to do with its experience in the Middle East. The country’s objective success against long odds would have to indicate that at least some of its decisions have been reality-based, if not quite reasonable.

The idea that a collective memory renders Jewish judgment defective seems to be something acceptable to say aloud these days in connection with Israel, which is why I’ve dwelled on it. It’s important to point out not only that this observation is wrong, but that it is a patronizing ethnic smear. I don’t like the careless generalizations in Mr. O’Malley’s book or his shaky grasp of the facts. But I don’t think they have anything to do with the potato famine.

One would expect an exercise in conflict resolution to end with a few suggestions on resolving the conflict. Friends of the author who read the manuscript shared this expectation, we learn, and wondered about the absence of constructive ideas. If not two states then what? “But why should I be so presumptuous as to dare provide a vision for people who refuse to provide one for themselves, not just in the here and now, but in the future too?” he replies. “For people who have no faith in the possible? Who themselves believe the conflict will take generations to resolve? Who are content to live their hatreds? Who are so resolutely opposed to the slightest gesture of accommodation? Who revel in their mutual pettiness?”

On behalf of my Holocaust-addled, Uzi-wielding countrymen and—if I may—on behalf of our intellectually depleted neighbors, I would like to express gratitude for being led to common ground: our mutual pettiness.

“The Two-State Delusion” illustrates a strange aspect of our current intellectual moment: At a time when the Middle East has achieved a truly surreal level of awfulness, many in the West have become even more acutely fixated on the Jewish minority enclave in one corner of the region. The death toll in Syria alone in four years is more than double the Israel-Arab death toll in a century. That being the case, it should be clear that believing Israel’s conflict to be the most important in the Middle East is, and always has been, a delusion—one that unconsciously underpins this treatise about the delusions of others.

Read More

10 Troubling Aspects of President Obama’s ‘Countering Violent Extremism’ Summit

The White House’s “Countering Violent Extremism” summit is barely underway, yet the message is already clear: the conference is politically correct — and far worse — a charade.

And that is a charitable interpretation.

Its sponsors are engaging in intentional obfuscation (e.g., saying “violent extremism” is the enemy), as well as peddling ineffective and ill-considered policy proposals (more community “empowerment”). The conference will effectively aid and abet America’s increasingly ascendant jihadist foes.

Reviewing the Obama administration’s summit preview, here are its 10 most disturbing aspects:

1. Contrary to its big government ethos, the Obama administration asserts that national security should be driven by the people, not the state.
Image source: BuzzFeed

(Image source: BuzzFeed)

According to the White House preview [emphasis mine]:

Really at the core of our approach is that the government does not have all the answers in combatting violent extremism. It is, at its core, a bottom-up approach. It puts communities with civic leaders, with religious authorities, with community power brokers, teachers, health providers, et cetera, in the driver’s seat. They know their citizens best. They are the first line of defense to prevent or counter radicalizing forces that can ultimately lead to violence. And so our approach is to really embrace and empower what local communities can do. So we’ve been working with our federal partners and our local partners to put in place this approach over the past couple of years.

Further:

Again, this is not about government, especially the federal government. The federal government doesn’t have all the answers. This is about building a comprehensive network to fight back against violent extremism. And we are explicitly recognizing the role that civil society plays, the private sector plays, and that families, et cetera, can play in countering violent extremism.

Who knew the Obama administration had so much respect for and faith in civil society?

Yet of course, this faith turns out to be dangerously misplaced as…

2. The groups the president wants to empower are those who may pose the biggest threat.

As Patrick Poole noted in an extensive report for TheBlaze:

In December 2011, the White House issued the “Strategic Implementation Plan for Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States” – the local partners, of course, being Islamic organizations, including those cited by the Justice Department as working to aid foreign terrorist organizations. All national security and law enforcement agencies on the federal, state and local level would now have to consult these groups and rely on “local partners” as a matter of policy. And as made clear in Salam al-Marayati’s Los Angeles Times op-ed, Islamic groups complaining about counter-terrorism policies or training would disrupt government efforts to “counter violent extremism” gave them an implicit veto over counter-terrorism policies. [Los Angels Times link added for context]

Why should we care about this 2011 report?

A senior Obama administration official noted in previewing the summit that the report details the very efforts the administration will be hawking during the three-day event.

Local partners such as the Council on American-Islam Relations — an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest Hamas funding trial in history — has advised members of the Muslim community not to work with the FBI, and religious leaders to lawyer up as opposed to working together with law enforcement when it comes to potential jihadists. On the eve of the summit, CAIR is reportedly calling for the Department of Justice to “protect those who act in good faith to prevent violent extremism by engaging with [Muslims] considering it in order to dissuade them.”

A partner of perhaps higher standing is the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB), a group linked to numerous jihadis and jihadi-sympathizers, that is reportedly the primary liaison between the Muslim community and law enforcement in countering violent extremism. The Boston  program will be one of the three held up as a success story during the summit, despite the ISB’s Islamic supremacist efforts.

Looking to the heart of Muslim communities, according to the Mapping Sharia project, imams in over 80 percent of 100 randomly surveyed representative mosques in America recommended the study of violence-positive texts. The correlations with these texts are disturbing, as illustrated below:

Sharia Adherence Mosque Survey: Correlations between Sharia Adherence and Violent Dogma in U.S. Mosques (Image Source: http://www.terrorismanalysts.com/pt/index.php/pot/article/view/sharia-adherence-mosque-survey/html)

(Image Source: Sharia Adherence Mosque Survey: Correlations between Sharia Adherence and Violent Dogma in U.S. Mosques)

In Pew’s extensive 2011 report on Muslims in America, 21 percent of those polled indicated there was a great deal or fair amount of “support for extremism among Muslim American;” 19 percent did not indicate that “suicide bombing/other violence against civilians is justified to defend Islam from its enemies;” only 70 percent indicated that they viewed Al Qaeda “very unfavorably.”

As leaked Department of Homeland Security documents reveal, the second highest concentration of people designated as “known or suspected terrorists” by our government reside in Dearborn, Michigan. Dearborn’s population is 96,000, and it has the highest percentage of Arab-Americans of any city in the country.

In light of these figures, and the fact that jihadist groups worldwide claim they are at war with America, having committed over 25,000 attacks in the name of Allah since Sept. 11, 2011, one must ask, what exactly is the rationale behind leaving self-policing to Muslim communities when these are the very places from whence jihadists spring?

Such a policy of course is only baffling if you are of the belief that jihad is an Islamic tenet, and that Islamic supremacist ideology is what animates the vast majority of the world’s “violent extremists.”

But of course…

3. According to the administration there is no profile of a “violent extremist.”

Continue reading at TheBlaze…

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén