Last August, President Obama declared that the Syrian regime's use of chemical weapons was a "red line." About four months later, Aljazeera released unconfirmed reports that a gas attack killed seven civilians in a rebel-held neighborhood of Homs. Last April, the UK, France, and Israel each claimed that there was evidence that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons in Aleppo, Homs, and/or Damascus. By April 25th, the U.S intelligence assessment was that the Assad regime had likely used sarin gas, but President Obama dodged his red line by announcing that a thorough investigation was still needed (as if the Syrian government would ever allow one). Meanwhile, reports from foreign intelligence agencies and journalists continued to corroborate the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime. So why did Obama's requirement of a thorough investigation to confirm the crossing of his red line suddenly vanish last Friday?
Viewed through the lens of domestic politics, Obama's Syria epiphany looks conveniently timed to deflect attention from an ever-swelling wave of scandals: Benghazi-gate, IRS-gate, AP/Fox-gate, and now NSA-gate and State Department prostitution-gate. As the film "Wag The Dog" highlights, international crises are great at diverting attention from domestic scandals.
But from the perspective of the Syrian rebels, the timing and nature of U.S. military assistance may be viewed as either too little, too late, or a cynical attempt to ensure a perpetual stalemate. After all, the outgunned rebels have needed lethal weapons from the U.S. for over two years. Chemical weapons use by the Assad regime is old news. So what has changed? The Syrian regime recently defeated rebel forces at the crucial battle in Qusayr, a town providing a strategic supply conduit for rebel forces in Homs. After the military gains enabled by the robust battlefield support of Iran-backed Hezbollah, the Syrian regime is now preparing for a major offensive to retake Aleppo. With another crushing blow to a key rebel stronghold, the regime could ultimately prevail in the conflict, unless the U.S. provides just enough rebel support to restore the pre-Qusayr stalemate. more >>
Republican Sen. James Risch of Idaho has sent the Iranian people a message ahead of the presidential elections on Friday, reminding them of the imprisoned Pastor Saeed Abedini and pledging America's support in their search for freedom and democracy.
"An American citizen from my hometown of Boise, Idaho, Pastor Saeed Abedini, is currently being held in the Evin prison for practicing his faith and helping children in your country," Idaho's 28th Senator says in a 54-second video, which is also dubbed in the Farsi language. "For this and many other reasons, the citizens of America support your hope for freedom and democracy and wish you well as you find the path to a brighter future."
Pastor Abedini has been held in an Iranian prison ever since being arrested in September 2012 while he was working on an orphanage for children. He was later sentenced to 8 years in prison, supposedly for endangering national security. But the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which represents his wife, Naghmeh, and two children back in the U.S., has said that the sentence has more to do with the pastor's Christian faith. more >>
My alma mater, The University of Chicago, was recently in the news for an overtly politically correct act for replacing its historic Bond Chapel's pews for Muslims to worship. This act is raising hackles reminiscent of the university's other, recent, tone-deaf decision to demolish the childhood home of former President Ronald Reagan, on its campus, and replace it with a parking lot and a commemorative plaque.
The school, founded by the Rockefeller family in the late 19th century as a Baptist-affiliated institution of higher learning, with an English-style undergraduate college, and German-style graduate research school, today positions itself as completely non-denominational research university.
However, being a non-denominational organization means that the organization is Christian, in terms of values, but does not express its Christianity in a particular form, welcoming all baptized Christians, regardless of denomination. more >>
Political Islam is the major force shaping the Middle East region today, and a dangerous one at that. The real question is if it can be tamed, and, more pointedly, what the West can do to bring about positive change during this pivotal time in history.But first, we have to understand what we're dealing with.
Political Islam, or "Islamism" as it's called in the West, is an armed political ideology similar to Bolshevism and Maoism. It's essentially religiosity cloaked as a movement that operates as a virulent ideology of warfare (jihad). It demands radical reorientation of Muslim societies to comply with Sharia Law that repudiates modernity in all its forms, bringing death and devastation both in and outside of the Muslim world.
In some ways, Islamism is more dangerous than outright terrorism, as terrorism can be identified by violence, while Islamism is a war of ideas. more >>
The filmmaker behind the controversial "Innocence of Muslims" film, the trailer for which was initially blamed for the violence that led to four Americans being killed at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in September 2012, has said that he is not anti-Muslim and wants to finish up his movie. His mission is to fight terrorism.
"It is not [a] religion movie," Nakoula Basseley Nakoula shared with Fox News. "I have a lot of Muslim friends and not all the Muslims believe in the terrorism culture. Some of them believe in this culture. That's why we need to fight [against] the culture, not the Muslims. My enemy is the terrorism culture; this is my enemy."
In September 2012, Muslim extremists stormed the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, killing U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. After Anti-American protests ranged in front of other Western embassies in the Middle East, reports came out linking a trailer for "Innocence of Muslims" as a motive behind the attacks. more >>
Tel Aviv just hosted its 15th annual Gay Pride Festival, attended by a record-breaking 100,000 spectators and participants, including some of Israel's most powerful politicians. Here is The Times of Israel report on the event:
"Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai kicked off the festivities with a speech that reflected on the journey since the first annual Pride Parade, which he emceed in 1998...[T]he finance minister [said] that every couple, gay or straight, has the right to get married and have children [and mentioned] his…party's 'deep indebtedness' to the LGBT community.
"Also addressing the crowd, US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro [said] 'There's no better place to celebrate than in Tel Aviv, the friendliest city in the world to the LGBT community,' he said. 'We learned from Israel to let our troops serve in the military without having to hide who they love,' Shapiro added… more >>