In his 2009 inaugural address, President Barack Obama declared, "To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."
Thus far, the toughest regimes "on the wrong side of history" -- Syria and Iran -- seem to be defying history rather well. They also have not unclenched their fists, except maybe to hold a gun.
In his speech to the Muslim world in Cairo on June 4, 2009, Obama made his conciliatory approach to Iran even more explicit: "For many years, Iran has defined itself...by its opposition to my country, and there is indeed a tumultuous history between us...Rather than remain trapped in the past, I have made it clear to Iran's leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward...It will be hard to overcome decades of mistrust, but we will proceed with courage, rectitude and resolve." more >>
As the Obama administration tries to unbury itself from snowballing scandals, my apocalyptic thriller steadily crawls from fiction to fact. The Middle East is an insane place. And it's going nuclear. Yet too many optimists, isolationists, and self-deluded analysts think that rationality will prevail and keep us all safe.
Is it rational to take out the organs of a man you just killed and eat them on camera, as a Syrian rebel recently did? How about a senior Palestinian Authority official who recently, on Lebanese television, declared that the PA would nuke Israel if it had nuclear weapons? Jibril Rajoub, the deputy secretary of the Fatah Central Committee and the chairman of the PA Olympics Committee, apparently doesn't mind that the nuclear mushroom he wants over Israel would also kill millions of Palestinians, just miles away – the main goal is that Israel be nuked.
At best, one can say that there is a "twisted rationality" in the Middle East, as exemplified by Iran's former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. In a December 2001 speech, Rafsanjani said, "If one day the Islamic world [acquires nuclear weapons], then the imperialists' strategy will reach a standstill because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality. Jews shall expect to be once again scattered and wandering around the globe the day when this appendix is extracted from the region and the Muslim world." more >>
Syria has been at civil war for the past two years, raging between Sunni rebels and hardline President Bashar al-Assad's Shiite-controlled government. More than 70,000 Syrians have been killed since March 2011, with millions more displaced. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Democratic chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, offered legislation earlier this month to allow the U.S. to provide arms to the Syrian opposition. Menendez's legislation includes $250 million for transitioning the government.
The U.S. is already supplying the Syrian rebels with food and medicine. In April, the U.S. started providing the rebels with defensive equipment like body armor, night vision goggles and other military equipment. The U.S. and several Western and Arab countries are part of a pro-opposition "Friends of Syria bloc," which is trying to broker peace in the country. Secretary of State John Kerry warned the Syrian government that if it does not negotiate in good faith during U.S. and Russian-brokered peace talks next month, the U.S. will increase its support to the rebels. Kerry has repeatedly said that Assad must go, "It is very, very clear as a starting point that mutual consent will never be given by any member of the broad opposition of Syria for Assad to continue to run that government," he declared.
But some members of Congress are speaking up against the legislation, which essentially picks sides between two radical Islamist factions. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) argued on CNN, "Unfortunately, to a large extent, al Qaeda elements have a lot of control within the rebel movements. My concern is that, by arming the rebels, we could be strengthening al Qaeda." Iranian-backed militias and al Qaeda affiliates are likely infiltrating the rebel opposition, and the weapons could end up in their hands. After the U.S. intervened on behalf of insurgents in Libya in order to topple Muammar Gaddafi, al Qaeda gained a stronghold in the country, and there are now signs of al Qaeda everything, such as an al Qaeda flag flying above the central courthouse in Benghazi. more >>
President Barack Obama spoke to 841 men and 206 women at the Naval Academy commissioning ceremony in Annapolis, Md., on Friday, telling them that sexual assault threatens the entire military and it should be stopped.
"Those who commit sexual assault are not only committing a crime, they threaten the trust and discipline that makes our military strong," Obama told the Navy grads. "That's why we have to be determined to stop these crimes, because they've got no place in the greatest military on earth."
Earlier this week, the Department of Veterans Affairs revealed that in 2012, more than 85,000 veterans were treated for injuries or illness stemming from sexual abuse in the military. Analysts said that the actual number is likely to be even higher, since many victims decide not to report abuse, for a variety of reasons. more >>
On November 21, 1864, President Lincoln wrote to a Mrs. Bixby of Massachusetts, who had lost five sons in the Civil War.
He wrote her, "I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save."
Then he added this beautiful prayer: "I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom." more >>
The Department of Veterans Affairs has revealed that more than 85,000 veterans last year were treated for injuries or illness stemming from sexual abuse in the military, highlighting a crisis that President Barack Obama has called "shameful and disgraceful."
"We will not stop until we've seen this scourge, from what is the greatest military in the world, eliminated," Obama told Pentagon officials last week at the White House. "Not only is it a crime, not only is it shameful and disgraceful, but it also is going to make and has made the military less effective than it can be."
The Associated Press reported on Monday that more than 85,000 veterans had been affected in 2012, based on information released by VA. Of those cases, most of the victims were women, but nearly 40 percent were men. Sexual abuse has been defined by VA as "any sexual activity where you are involved against your will," which can come in various forms – some have reported to have been raped, while others said they were groped or subjected to verbal abuse or other forms of sexual harassment. more >>