Weekly Briefing, April 12-18, 2014

By ACD Staff
Friday, April 18th, 2014 @ 11:06PM

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Blaming the Jews. AgainRachel Ehrenfeld –  Blaming the Jews, is a tradition in the borderlands of East Europe, where numerous governments and insurgency groups felt free to “use the Jews,” as the saying goes, blame them for whatever real or often trumped-up economic or other problem they failed to resolve, to divert their critics’ attention, while massacring the Jews and often resettling the survivors against their will. So entrenched is this “tradition” that when there were no Jews to blame, others, non -Jews, were accused of hiding their Jewish identity and punished for that.  “Using the Jews” as sacrificial lambs has become a characteristic feature of totalitarian regimes there and elsewhere.…more

Misreading Russia Rachel Ehrenfeld and Kenneth D.M. Jensen —  “Revisionism,” as in adjusting the borders of states to suit the ambitions of some at the expense of others, has been the historical norm. The hopeful events of 1989-91 lasted only short while, until Russia detached South Ossetia and Abkhazia from independent Georgia in 2008. We should have expected Russian attempts to revise borders, especially with Putin at the helm. We didn’t. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the West, including the U.S., decided to pretend “revisionism” had disappeared from in international politics. We embraced the Velvet Revolutions in East Europe, and the fall of Communism in Russia, as a return of oppressed and aggressive states to something we foolishly believed was international “normalcy.” There were also talks about “peace” and “peace dividends” as if such things had occurred in the history of international relations. Even the dullest policymakers might have remembered the maxim that “nature abhors a vacuum.”…more

Hezbollah’s Involvement in the Civil War in Syria – the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center —  Thus Hezbollah was able to rack up another achievement in its involvement in the civil war in Syria without suffering significant losses. According to an ITIC name count of Hezbollah operatives killed in Syria in March 2014, 28 operatives were killed, most of them in the campaign for Yabrud.[2] In comparison, 120 Hezbollah operatives died in the campaign for Al-Qusayr, most of them (114) in the two weeks of fighting inside the city, until it was conquered (June 5, 2013). Hezbollah’s death toll in the takeover of Yabrud and in the fighting in the Qalamoun region (which is still ongoing) raise the overall number of deaths of Hezbollah operatives during the Syrian civil war to 337. That is the number of names the ITIC has identified. There were several dozen additional deaths the ITIC did not identify or were not reported by Hezbollah in the media (for example, MIAs). Therefore, in our assessment the overall number of Hezbollah operatives who have died in Syria so far is about 360 (updated to April 1, 2014).…more

Ideology/IncompetenceSol W. SandersBelatedly in this instance, in our search to solve the mystery of the Obama Administration’s policy formulation process, the highly touted The New Yorker extended interviews by David Remnick are found wanting. A little more Obama, a little less Remnick should have been the order of the day! But there must be anecdotal origins to these quotes. In fact, for the most part they hardly seem “quotable” and suggest having gone through the mill of the White House speechwriters. Still, as with reading during the 2008 presidential primary the President’s autobiography, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, one looks for the kernel that set off Remnick’s ubiquitous fawning. The question posed is whether the motivation behind the Obama Administration’s disasters is ideological or sheer lack of knowledge/executive experience?…more

News and commentary:

US. Exceptionalism and the Moses Legacy – Amb. Yoram Ettinger — –3,400 years ago, the Moses legacy was shaped during the first clash of civilizations (Passover) between faith and responsibility-driven liberty (Moses) on the one hand, and paganism and subjugation-driven repression (Pharaoh) on the other hand. The victory of the Moses legacy established a dramatically new world order for millennia. In 1623 and 1630, the mindset of the “Mayflower” and “Arabella” Pilgrims was: a departure from modern day Egypt (England), the parting the modern day Red Sea (the Atlantic Ocean), culminating with the landing in modern day Promised Land (USA).  They laid the foundations for the morally, industrially, scientifically and militarily exceptional Judeo-Christian American culture, based upon the Moses legacy.…more

A Secret Fight over Russia in the Obama Administration –  William KristolThe Obama administration has scheduled a deputies committee meeting this week—tentatively set for Tuesday—to resolve a bitter inter-agency dispute over a request from Russia with respect to the Open Skies program. Informed sources believe the White House is likely to side with the State Department, which wants to accommodate Russia, over the objections of the Obama administration’s Defense Department and intelligence agencies. The Open Skies treaty allows the United States and Russia to fly over each other’s territory with planes loaded with certain agreed-upon sensor packages, in order to ensure compliance with arms control agreements and to provide assurance against preparations for various military surprises. Russia has asked the U.S. to agree to an upgrade in the sensor package their planes can carry.…more

The Palestinians Are to Blame for the Failed Peace TalksBut Not for the Reason You Think – Abbas is facing an internal challenge to his leadership, and that—not Israeli housing plans—is why he’s bailing on Kerry , Lee Smith —  For Abbas, staying in power requires keeping his rivals at bay. In particular, there’s Mohamed Dahlan, the former Gaza-based Fatah strongman who’s been licking his wounds ever since Hamas routed his men from the Strip in 2007. At just 52, Dahlan is still young. For the past four years, he has been living in the United Arab Emirates; my sources in the region tell me he recently spent a month in Marrakesh with Saudi intelligence chief Bandar bin Sultan, the former ambassador to Washington, who was in Morocco recovering from shoulder surgery.  The leaders in the Gulf states are more worried about Iran and its nuclear program than about the Israelis. Their objective, right now, is to find a Palestinian version of Egypt’s new strongman, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi—someone who can take on Hamas and other Islamist factions, block Iranian influence, and keep his nation united, stable, and, most important, quiet.…more

Library named in honour of Bin Laden –   Lal MasjidThe Jamia Hafsa seminary for women in Islamabad has renamed its library in honor of former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laen.  The seminary is run by hardline claric Marulana Abdul Azis, the iman of the city’s Lal Masjid.  The mosque was the scene of a week-long military siege against radicals in 2007 which left more than 100 people dead.…more

‘Core’ Al Qaeda Gathering in Yemen –  Thomas JoscelynA video of a large al Qaeda gathering in Yemen has raised eyebrows in the press. Nasir al Wuhayshi, the head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), as well as general manager of al Qaeda’s global network, can be heard saying to a crowd of more than 100: “We must eliminate the cross. … The bearer of the cross is America!” CNN’s Barbara Starr first reported on the brazen meeting, pointing out that “the CIA and the Pentagon either didn’t know about it or couldn’t get a drone there in time to strike.” When Obama administration officials and some within the U.S. intelligence community speak about al Qaeda its sounds like the group’s senior leaders are cowering in fear somewhere, waiting for the next missile to strike. They are not supposed to be openly hosting a large anti-American rally.…more

North Korea’s Nuclear Fallout –  Claudia Rosett —  For a rogue state under international sanctions, what is the penalty for threatening to carry out an illicit nuclear test? As North Korea is demonstrating, and Iran is no doubt closely observing, there is no serious cost. Last month, North Korea’s government stated that it would not rule out “a new form of nuclear test.” That threat, conveyed in a March 30 article by Pyongyang’s state-run Korean Central News Agency, was followed on April 4 by a North Korean press conference at the United Nations in New York, at which North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the U.N., Ri Tong Il, confirmed that his government is planning to carry out a new test. Asked for details of what form it might take, he said: “Wait and see.”…more

NATO: Conventional Deterrence is the New Black –  Henrik Ø. Breitenbauch —  In 2014 and beyond, conventional deterrence will similarly be bound and shaped as much by political as by military concerns. How will contingency planning and concomitant military preparations address the new political and military geography of the Alliance, especially in the Baltic? Will the Alliance now plan for significant, permanently deployed forces, or for residual forces and quick response forces? Does the Baltic space call for new amphibious capabilities? Will there be political consensus to develop and manage the implementation of such plans? Will NATO and its member nations be able to comprehend, communicate and coordinate such a military move within a larger grand strategy framework that both deters and engages with Russia in the long term? Will NATO and EU nations be able to coordinate such a framework? No matter how the broader strategy plays out, issues of conventional deterrence are sure to be at the heart of the discussions – both in terms of the theory and practice, and the political and military strategy, of conventional deterrence…America’s global alliance relationships are at stake. Taipei and Tokyo will watch closely how the U.S. and NATO deals with Tallinn, Riga, and Vilnius. As the American security establishment returns to the intricacies of conventional deterrence it will also remember the painful predicaments of making policy for the sake of credibility while having to solve the problems at hand.…more

I hope I’m wrong but historians may look back and say this was the start of World War III –  Edward Lucas —  Deep in the flat and featureless landscape of eastern Ukraine, it is all too ­possible that the outline of World War III is taking shape. Whipped up by the Kremlin ­propaganda machine and led by Russian ­military intelligence, armed men are erecting road blocks, storming police stations and ripping down the country’s flag. They are demolishing not just their own country — bankrupt, ill-run and beleaguered — but also the post-war order that has kept most of Europe and us, here in Britain, safe and free for decades. Vladimir Putin is striking at the heart of the West.…more

Russian Anti-Americanism Today Very Different and Much Worse than Soviet-Era Variant, Mirsky Says –  Paul Goble —  Some see the rising tide of anti-Americanism and anti-Western attitudes in Russia as a recrudescence of the Cold War, but in fact, the attitudes that the Putin regime is promoting now are very different and much worse than those which his Soviet predecessors sponsored, according to Georgy Mirsky. In Soviet times, the Moscow historian points out, Soviet propaganda sought to promote hatred of  “Wall Street, the Pentagon, and the CIA,” but now Putin’s regime is promoting Russian hatred toward “everything American and consequently toward Western” societies as a whole.…more

Russian Diplomats Are Eating America’s Lunch – James BrunoWhether or not Putin has expanded his tools of persuasion, he’s got good help in the influence department. In the lead-up to four-way talks over Ukraine and Secretary of State Kerry’s consultations with European leaders this week, Russian ambassadors are using their many close connections with continental elites to press Putin’s case, to seek to stifle or limit economic sanctions and to foster divisions between Washington and its allies. In most cases these Russian envoys have spent the bulk of their diplomatic careers dealing with the countries to which they are posted and have extensive decades-long contacts with whom they can speak, often in the latters’ native languages. This gives them a decided edge.…more

Putin’s New Kind of War – Forget D-Day or “shock and awe.” The Kremlin is reinventing invasions with thugs, criminals, and lies – Anne ApplebaumIn the Western imagination, the words “war” and “invasion” carry clear connotations. From books, movies, and television, we know that such events involve tanks, airplanes, and artillery, as well as soldiers in uniform, advanced weaponry, and sophisticated communications. They look like the invasion of Iraq or, to go back in time, D-Day. So far, the Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine looks nothing like these battles. This war involves not soldiers but local thugs and volunteers, some linked to the ex-president, Viktor Yanukovych, some from criminal gangs, and some who mistakenly think they are fighting for some form of benign local autonomy. They are being led not by officers in uniform but by men from Russian military intelligence and special operations forces, some wearing camouflage without insignia, some communicating with “activists” by telephone. They are supplied with Russian logistics and a few Russian automatic weapons, but not tanks or planes. There is no “shock and awe” bombing campaign, just systematic, organized attacks on police stations, city councils, airports.…more

Putin’s Fabricated Anti-Semitism in UkraineVictor Davidoff — For centuries Ukraine has had the reputation of being one of the epicenters of anti-Semitism. Many Ukrainians took part in the genocide of Jews during World War II. But since becoming an independent state, Ukraine is a showcase of how Jews and other nationalities can live peacefully and productively. The Maidan revolution, however, created a new situation where nationalistic radicals were able to take the stage, and Ukraine’s Jewish community has been fearfully awaiting outbreaks of violence against them. This was expected in Moscow, too. During his press conference on March 4, President Vladimir Putin said, “We see neo-Nazis, nationalists, and anti-Semites on rampages in parts of Ukraine, including Kiev.” And as if by command, on March 14 in Kiev there was an attack on Rabbi Hillel Cohen, the head of the Ukrainian branch of the Hatzalah emergency services organization. The two perpetrators beat Cohen up and stabbed him, shouting insults with the word “kike” — in Russian, not Ukrainian. Cohen is, incidentally, a supporter of Maidan and even spoke on the stage there during the ecumenical prayer service led by leaders of Ukraine’s religious confessions.…more

Capitol Hill news:

Chairman Carper’s Statement on the One Year Anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombing, April 15, 2014

Corker Urges President Obama to Impose New Sanctions on Russia to Deter Further Intervention in Ukraine, April 12, 2014

Since 2001, the American Center for Democracy has exposed and monitored threats to our right to speak freely and our political and economic freedoms. The ACD does more than identify individual, isolated threats; it also analyzes their synergistic effects on the economic security of the nation. The ACD’s projects and publications focus on early warning systems that alert the public and policy makers to prevent and mitigate threats.

Categories: ACD/EWI Blog, Latest News, Russia and East Europe, U.S. Foreign Policy, Ukraine

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