Weekly Briefing, February 8-13, 2015

By Rachel Ehrenfeld
Friday, February 13th, 2015 @ 10:34PM

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Deterring ISIL is Not EnoughRachel Ehrenfeld – “Muslims need to change the religious discourse and remove from it things that have led to violence and extremism.”… President Obama’s requested Congressional authorization to indefinitely use U.S. military forces in “systematic campaign of airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq and Syria” to “degrade and defeat” it. While ISIL may be degraded in that limited area, it will not be defeated in the rearguard war fought by the United States in the Middle East, because the organization’s core jihadist ideology cannot be defeated by non-Muslims…In the meantime, Shiite Iran, whose theocracy is similar to ISIL’s, is doing its best to fill the vacuum created by failing Sunni regimes in the region.…more

Bad Iran Deal in the OffingNorman A. Bailey – The US looks set to present its allies with a dangerous fait accompli on Iran’s nuclear program: The joint statement by Secretary of State Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif that there will be no extension of the talks between the six powers and Iran past the most recent deadline of March 24th means only one thing: a deal has been reached between the U.S. and Iran, which will be announced to the other five participants when the Obama Administration decides it is convenient to do so. This is the way this Administration operates… When the French foreign minister stormed out of the initial meeting of the two sides proclaiming “This is a fool’s deal”, he was subsequently informed that the deal was already sealed by the U.S…more

The History of HistorySol W. Sanders – Historians cheat. Mostly, they reconstruct the story of our past as a straightforward narrative with a beginning, middle, and sometimes even an end. What they don’t usually tell us is that a great deal more was going on than that single narrative of events–and, sometimes they have to flip back and pick up another strand instead to straighten it out. That’s why, at the moment, there is little that the historians can do to help us sort out the enormous chain of events that is deciding the future of the world and of the U.S. For the world is in the throes of vast developments, as perhaps it always is, which will profoundly affect the future of all of us. About all we can do is to be as clearheaded as possible about the various candidate strands for our attention. So here goes:…more

Dumping Riyadh For TehranRachel Ehrenfeld – The Oscar worth direction of Iran’s image-laundering campaign is drowning, as hoped by the Obama administration and Tehran, in media headlines about the “new” evidence of Saudi funding of al Qaeda. Documentation of the Desert Kingdom and its royals’ support of al Qaeda have been evident for years. However, Moussaoui allegations that the Saudi Royals funded al Qaeda, have “shocked shocked” the American media…In October 2014, the Justice Department granted a team of lawyers for the 9/11 victims the unusual access to Moussaoui who is held at the country’s the most secure prison in Florence, Colo. And last December, the Second Circuit effectively reversed itself and reinstated the kingdom as a defendant. Despite the Obama administration’s claim it wants to reset relations with the Royal Family, the timing couldn’t be better..…more

Southeast Asian Islam, gentle and ungentleClive Kessler – A “rage against history”: a bewildered and at times visceral sense, a disquiet in the soul and gut, that “history has gone wrong”, departed from its divinely ordained path. Religious “supersessionism”: or, underlying that sense of historical bewilderment, the conviction and doctrinal assertion that Islam completes and perfects —— but also shows up and casts off, incorporates yet negates —— the earlier Abrahamic revelations and faith communities of Judaism and Christianity with all their (or so it is claimed) vitiating defects and limitations. What has all this to do, I hear people asking, with today’s on-the-ground sociocultural dynamics and current political realities in Southeast Asia? And in Malaysia specifically? Well, quite a lot really..…more

Christians in ChinaJ. Millard Burr – In 1979 I spent some months prowling the State Department library in search of material for a study on the history of The United States’ concern with the narcotics trade in China. The final result, some 50,000 words, was submitted to Mathea Falco, the first U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. For reasons perhaps akin to mine — China in all its facets is after all a fascinating study — she enjoyed the report. She would later say that it was a valuable tool as she succeeded in arranging the first US Drug Enforcement Agency alliance with People’s Republic of China. Two elements of the paper I still recall, and I admit I recall with regret:…more

News & Analysis

America’s Strategic Trap: Increasing the Risk of Nuclear War, Farsnews

Netanyahu Must Absolutely Make that SpeechRabbi Prof. Dov Fischer

Why are They Converting to Islam?Dr.  Mordechai Kedar

At Minsk, Putin got ‘Everything He Wanted’ and Took No Responsibility for the Future, Illarionov and Piontkovsky SayPaul Goble

Why the White House is Getting Lonelier on IranWalter Russell Mead

Nigerian President Gambles on War Against Boko HaramBenny Avni

The Sad Death of Kayla Mueller: A ‘Useful Idiot’ of HamasRon Radosh

From Munich to Munich: How Germany chooses to remember its past has always been crucial to Europe’s future.Bret Stephens

The Last Trial Elizabeth Kolbert

UN Targets ISIL Funding Kylie Bull

German Court Rules Synagogue Firebombing an ‘Act of Protest’James Kirchick,

Obama’s in Bed With the Pope, Tony Blair, Ruth Benedict, the UN and Most UniversitiesMichael Ledeen

Scofflaws in the White House: Since the Cold War, championship of international law—not opposition to it—is the novel departure. Review of ‘The Assault on International Law by Jens David Ohlin.Samuel Moyn

Capitol Hill

House—

Hearing: Countering Violent Islamist Extremism: The Urgent Threat of Foreign Fighters and Homegrown Terror Homeland Security Committee

Hearing: Interior Immigration Enforcement LegislationJudiciary Committee,

Subcommittee Hearing: State Sponsor of Terror: The Global Threat of IranForeign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade,

Hearing: The Growing Strategic Threat of ISISForeign Affairs Committee

Subcommittee Hearing: Azerbaijan: U.S. Energy, Security, and Human Rights InterestsForeign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats

Joint Subcommittee Hearing: The Syrian Humanitarian Crisis: Four Years Later and No End in Sight Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa

Subcommittee Hearing: Emerging Threats and Technologies to Protect the HomelandHomeland Security Committee, Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies

Update on Detainee Transfers from GTMOArmed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

What Is The State of Islamic Extremism: Key Trends, Challenges, and Implications for U.S. PolicyArmed Services Committee,

Senate—

Hearing: Situation in AfghanistanArmed Services Committee

Hearing: Global Challenges and U.S. National Security StrategyArmed Services Committee

Hearing: The Connected World: Examining the Internet of ThingsCommerce, Science & Transportation Committee

Ending Modern Day Slavery: The Role of U.S. LeadershipForeign Relations Committee

Hearing/Meeting: Open Hearing: Intelligence MattersIntelligence Committee,

GAO Reports

Critical Technologies: Agency Initiatives Address Some Weaknesses, but Additional Interagency Collaboration Is Needed. GAO-15-288

CRS Reports

Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights – RS21968Kenneth Katzman,

Iran Sanctions – RS20871Kenneth Katzman

Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses – RL32048Kenneth Katzman

Cuba Sanctions: Legislative Restrictions Limiting the Normalization of Relations – R43888Dianne E. Rennack

Latin America and the Caribbean: Key Issues for the 114th Congress – R43882Mark P. Sullivan, February 10th, 2015

Nigeria’s 2015 Elections and the Boko Haram Crisis – R43881Lauren Ploch Blanchard, February 10th, 2015

H.R. 399, the Secure Our Borders First Act of 2015: Report in Brief – R43879 Lisa Seghetti, February 10th, 2015

Cybersecurity Issues and Challenges: In Brief – R43831Eric A. Fischer, February

Wartime Detention Provisions in Recent Defense Authorization Legislation – R42143Jennifer K. Elsea

Who Regulates Whom and How? An Overview of U.S. Financial Regulatory Policy for Banking and Securities Markets – R43087Edward V. Murphy, February 9th, 2015

Cybersecurity: Legislation, Hearings, and Executive Branch Documents – R43317Rita Tehan

Border Security: Immigration Inspections at Ports of Entry – R43356Lisa Seghetti,

Implementation of Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS): Issues for Congress – R43346Dana A. Shea

Bitcoin: Questions, Answers, and Analysis of Legal Issues – R43339Craig K. Elwell

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