Posts Tagged ‘US State Department’

Wikileaks: A weak presidency, made weaker UPDATED

Monday, November 29th, 2010

The Wikileaks story is front and center in today’s news, and the deleterious consequences will linger for a very long time.

At first glance, the point of Wikileaks is to weaken America’s stance as the only superpower. That it has: as Der Speigel (via both Gateway Pundit and PowerLine) points out,

The development is no less than a political meltdown for American foreign policy.

Never before in history has a superpower lost control of such vast amounts of such sensitive information — data that can help paint a picture of the foundation upon which US foreign policy is built. Never before has the trust America’s partners have in the country been as badly shaken. Now, their own personal views and policy recommendations have been made public — as have America’s true views of them.

The leak occurred during the Obama administration. Allahpundit:

Under Dubya, this sort of mega-clusterfark could be spun internationally as further evidence of his personal incompetence, recklessness, malignancy, etc, but under Obama — who famously framed his foreign policy as, er, “smart power” — it’ll be proof that, as a systemic matter, U.S. national security isn’t nearly as secure as it should be. If you’re a foreign diplomat of whatever level, but especially among the higher ranks with political exposure at home, I don’t know how you’d trust the State Department to keep your confidence after this. Remarkable impotence indeed.

Considering that the Obama administration focuses its foreign policy on going through diplomatic channels and the State Department, this is catastrophic. Jeff Dunetz:

Whether or not someone gets killed because of these Wikileaks disclosures, the damage to our country is severe, as allies and sources among enemies will stop cooperating with us for fear of exposure, our diplomats will be hesitant to speak openly with headquarters, and our intelligence on al-Qaeda and others will be compromised.

The fact that it really was that easy to get to diplomatic cables strains credulity. The guy was allowed to carry a rewriteable CD into a secured communications area?? Are you pulling my leg?!

And what is the Obama administration’s response to Wikileaks? Jeff again,

We are the laughingstock of the world, we look impotent. The United States is supposedly a superpower whose only response to the Wikileaks disclosure is pathetically, a sternly worded letter.

William Jacobson spells it out, Wikileaks Completes Obama’s Transformation Into Jimmy Carter.

UPDATE

James Carafano on damage control:

The administration can, however, do two things to repair the damage wrought by WikiLeaks. First, it can embrace a foreign policy that our adversaries fear and our friends respect. Nobody gets more cooperation than a winner. For starters, the president should dump the New START treaty — its one-sidedness makes the U.S. look like a lousy negotiator in the eyes of the world… and a patsy in the eyes of the Russians. He should also reject out of hand calls to gut the defense budget and just flat out declare that America will stick it out in Iraq and Afghanistan until the job is done. And while he’s at it, he could stand up to China and stop extending the hand of friendship to regimes interested in a world without freedom or America.

Second, the administration can hunt down any American connected with these leaks, try them for treason, and seek the death penalty. They deserve nothing less. Ordered liberty rejects the notion that any one citizen can jeopardize lives and give away America’s secrets — just because they feel like it.

Both approaches would require spine.

Drudge verses, under the top story CYBER MONDAY: WIKILEAKS TURNS ON OBAMA with photo of Obama with fat lip,

CLASSIFIED NO MORE: USA RACES TO LIMIT DAMAGE...
250,000 State Dept. cables cover Iran, NKorea, Putin... MORE
Reveal: Iran 'smuggled arms' to Hezbollah on ambulances...
Reveal: Clinton Orders Diplomats to Spy on Other Countries at UN...
Reveal: Iran obtained missiles from NKorea -- capable of striking Europe...
WIKILEAKS: We've been hit with 'mass distributed denial of service attack'...
MOST EMBARRASSING, DAMAGING DISCLOSURE IN DECADES...
Reveal: China conducting computer sabotage...
Saudis are chief financiers for al Qaeda...

Reveal: Saudis repeatedly urge US attack on Iran...
SENATORS: PROSECUTE THE LEAKERS!
NYT EXPLAINS: DECISION TO PUBLISH...
Now Australian police investigate WIKILEAKS founder...
France says leaks threaten democracy...

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Wikileaks: The Middle East, part 1

Monday, November 29th, 2010

(part 1 because there surely will be more, much more on the Middle East)

Barry Rubin summarizes how the information leaked by Wikileaks confirms points he has made over the years,

1. Iran steadily smuggled arms to Hizballah using various means including in ambulances and medical vehicles during the 2006 war. This violates the laws of war. At times, the media has condemned Israel for attacking ambulances though it showed Hamas was also using such vehicles for military and arms-smuggling operations. Moreover, the postwar UN force proved consistently ineffective in stopping smuggling while the U.S. government did not denounce Iran, Syria, and Hizballah for breaking the ceasefire arrangements.

2. Israeli leaders have repeatedly made clear in diplomatic discussions their acceptance of a two-state solution but warned that the Palestinian leadership sought Israel’s destruction.

3. Arab states have constantly been warning the United States about the threat from Iran as their highest priority, even urging the United States to attack Iran itself. Note that Arab leaders did not condition their oppositon to Iran or call for a U.S. attack on settling the Arab-Israeli or Israel-Palestinian conflicts. This is contrary to what Administration officials, academia, and parts of the mass media who argue these issues are basically linked and that is why the conflicts must be ”solved”  before doing much else. As I’ve told you, the Arab regimes worry first and foremost about Iran and have greatly downgraded their interest in the conflict or antagonism toward Israel.

4. Iran and North Korea cooperated to provide Tehran with long-rang missiles that were shipped to Hizballah.

5. One week after President Bashar al-Asad promised a top State Department official that he would not send “new” arms to Hizballah, the United States complained that it had information that Syria was providing increasingly sophisticated weapons to the group. Yet the U.S. government did not take strong action.

(Reminds me of how Bashar promised the Bush Administration that he would stop buying oil from Iran in violation of UN sanctions but continued doing so; and how Yasir Arafat promised that he had nothing to do with terrorism and arms smuggling from Iran and then was shown to have lied. Is there a pattern here?)

6. Israel has been warning the United States about how Iran obtaining nuclear weapons would destabilize the region, not just create a danger of an Iran-initiated attack on Israel.

7. U.S. Officials in Turkey think that the current government is in fact an Islamist one, though the U.S. government (and media) keeps insisting it is some kind of democratic-reform-minded centrist regime.

8. The U.S. government ignored repeated pleas from Israel to press Egypt to block smuggling of military equipment into the Gaza Strip.

Indeed, Anti-Israel Foreign Policy Experts Got Saudi Arabia, Other Arab Countries 100% Backward On Iran Attack.

And, yes,

It’s quite a blow to conspiracy theorists, is it not, that the combined weight of two of their favor bogeymen, “the Zionists” and “the Arabs” haven’t been able to get the U.S. to take military action against Iran.

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Ground Zero Imam Heading to Saudi Arabia, UAE …

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

Claudia Rossett is on the trail of the traveling Imam,
News Flash: Ground Zero Imam Heading to Saudi Arabia, UAE ….

Indeed, the Cordoba Imam’s packing in more frequent flyer miles than Michelle Obama on her trip to Cordoba, Spain, but what’s shocking is that it’s at US taxpayer’s expense (emphasis added)

Next stops for Feisal Abdul Rauf, imam of the plan for a mosque and Islamic center near Ground Zero: Courtesy of the U.S. State Department, Rauf — a.k.a. Imam Feisal – is scheduled to spend the rest of the summer on a swing through the petro-dollar palaces of Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bahrain, and Qatar.

The State Department ain’t talking freely, either

As for the State Department: After three days of my repeated questions and phone calls, State by Friday’s close of business had yet to provide any response to my request for confirmation of Rauf’s trip, Khan’s trip, or details about their State-sponsored summer outreach excursions to the Middle East. Apparently, it takes quite a while at State to get “clearance” for disclosure to the American public of such basic details as who, exactly, is engaging in public outreach at our expense and on our behalf.

As for the State Department: After three days of my repeated questions and phone calls, State by Friday’s close of business had yet to provide any response to my request for confirmation of Rauf’s trip, Khan’s trip, or details about their State-sponsored summer outreach excursions to the Middle East. Apparently, it takes quite a while at State to get “clearance” for disclosure to the American public of such basic details as who, exactly, is engaging in public outreach at our expense and on our behalf.

Claudia’s Forbes article, Further Travels Of Imam Feisal
After Malaysia, a swing through the Middle East.
also explains,

At the State Department, which presumably will be spending taxpayer money on Rauf’s tour, I have yet to receive confirmation or any other information about his program, despite three days of my repeated requests by phone and e-mail. Apparently it is taking a while for State’s Bureau of Public Diplomacy to get “clearance” to release any details of this particular public outreach effort, though Rauf’s wife says it has been in the works for months.

All this comes at a moment when Rauf and his partners in New York are preparing to raise $100 million to build a 13-story Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero. A Manhattan Landmarks committee gave the necessary approval on Aug. 3 to tear down the old Burlington Coat Factory building already purchased for $4.85 million by a real estate developer partnering with Rauf. That building is so close to Ground Zero that on the morning of the Sept. 11 attacks parts of one of the hijacked planes damaged its roof. On that lot, the Islamic center project is now cleared to roll forward, once the money rolls in.

Perhaps it’s coincidence that instead of haggling over financing in New York, Rauf–Imam Feisal, to his followers–will spend the rest of the summer touring some of the petro-dollar capitals of the planet, including such fonts of potential funding as Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. Rauf’s wife and partner in nonprofits, Daisy Kahn, told me in a phone interview this week that he will not be fundraising during these travels. Nor, said Kahn, will she be fund-raising when she makes a similar State-sponsored outreach trip later this month to Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Yes, you read it right: The State Department is paying (with taxpayer money, need I remind you?) for this guy’s fundraising trip to build the victory mosque at Ground Zero.

Angry yet?

Related:
A Muslim victim of 9/11: ‘Build your mosque somewhere else’

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Argentina’s angle

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

My latest article, Argentina’s Angle, is up at Real Clear World.

Please read it and leave a comment.

The international reaction to Honduras agreement: 15 Minutes on Latin America

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

mel_01ban

Today’s podcast at 11AM Eastern:

The Honduran deal – international reaction: 15 Minutes on Latin America

PDF file of the signed accord here, in Spanish.

Related articles:
Otto Reich writing at The Corner: Honduras & U.S.
Mary O’Grady at the WSJ: Hillary’s Honduran Exit Strategy
WSJ editorial: Honduras 1, Hillary 0
A Honduran compromise provides Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with an elegant diplomatic exit.

IBD editorial: ‘Dialogue’ Trumps Honduran Law
Spain’s El Pais editorial: La derrota de Zelaya
Jonathan Adler: Is the Honduran Political Crisis Over?
Honduras News: Manuel Zelaya Regretting Agreement
Venezuela’s Noticias 24/Agence France Presse: Zelaya teme alguna “manipulación y juego oscuro” de parte de Micheletti
Spain’s El País: EE UU pactó con garantías la vuelta de Zelaya al poder
Grupos de diputados se comprometen a apoyar al mandatario depuesto

La Gringa, posting from Honduras: Thomas Shannon, the US State Department ‘cleaner’
AP: Honduran Congress to review crisis accord Tuesday
Dan Miller: Zelaya Wins, Honduras Loses

Background post from last Friday: Honduran government caves into US pressure, agrees to Zelaya’s restitution

———————————-

At 12:15Eastern I’ll be on CNN Live‘s Blogger Bunch. Update Unfortunately, Skype kept cutting off all the bloggers, and there’s no video.

The Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean will be up later today.

Honduran government caves into US pressure, agrees to Zelaya’s restitution

Friday, October 30th, 2009

miche291ban

The BBC phrases it tactfully: Honduras rivals resolve deadlock

The interim leader of Honduras says he is ready to sign a pact to end its crisis which could include the return of ousted President Manuel Zelaya.

Roberto Micheletti said the agreement would create a power-sharing government and require both sides to recognise the result of November’s presidential poll.

Mr Zelaya said the deal, which requires the approval of the Supreme Court and Congress, would be signed on Friday.

The opponents had earlier been told by US Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon that they had to reach an accord in order to ensure international support for the election on 29 November.

Afterwards, Mr Micheletti announced that a power-sharing deal had been reached that included a “significant concession”.

“I have authorised my negotiating team to sign a deal that marks the beginning of the end of the country’s political situation,” the interim leader told a news conference.

“With regard to the most contentious subject in the deal, the possible restitution of Zelaya to the presidency” would be included, he said.

Mr Zelaya described the accord as a “triumph for Honduran democracy”, and said he was “optimistic” of returning to power.

Noticias 24, however, states it as it is: Micheletti sucumbe a la presión de EE.UU. y acepta la restitución de Zelaya (Micheletti caves under US pressure and agrees to Zelaya’s return). Noticias 24 lists the main points of the agreement (my translation: if you use this translation please credit me and link to this post):

1. The creation of a reconciliation government.
2. Rejection of political amnesty.
3. Recognition of the November 29 elections.
4. Transferring control of the Armed Forces from the Executive to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.
5. Creating a verification commission to enforce compliance with the agreement.
6. Creating a truth commission to investigate the events before, during and after June 28, the date of Zelaya’s removal.
7. Requesting that the international community end all sanctions against Honduras and that they send in observers to the presidential election.
8. Supporting the proposal for a vote of the National Congress with the approval of the Supreme Court of Justice to reinstate all the Executive Power prior to June 28, that is, restoring Zelaya to power.

Both sides signed the agreement.

La Gringa, who liveblogged last night’s news, posted

Worst news of all: supposedly Thomas Shannon has been pressuring the congressmen to vote for the restoration of Zelay or else! The exact words were that “Shannon scared the living hell out of everyone here including Micheletti.” Yeah, remember the press conference? “We’re just here to help. We aren’t going to intervene. We’ll respect any decision that the Hondurans make.” Yeah, right. Now they are even threatening elected Honduran officials that they won’t recognize elections unless they vote yes. I’m sure there must be economic threats as well.

El Heraldo (in Spanish) makes it clear that US State Dept. envoy for Latin America Thomas Shannon went to Honduras to twist arms: his position was that the November 29 elections would not be recognized unless Zelaya was returned to power. I guess nothing ensures democracy like restoring to power the guy who did his outmost to undermine democracy, at least in Shannon’s eyes.

Others reporting:
NY Times Deal Reached in Honduras to Restore Ousted President
WaPo: In Pakistan, Clinton announces resolution to Honduran crisis
The Guardian: Deal could lead to reinstatement of ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya
Agreement to create power-sharing government paves way for return of leader ousted in military coup

Here in the US, John Kerry wants Law Library report on Honduras retracted (the Library of Congress stands by its report), while yesterday in Honduras Zelaya warmly greeted Shannon in the room with the tin-foil curtains where he stays at the Brazilian embassy to protect himself from mind-altering radiation:

ZelayaShannon

Zelaya crowed

“The mere fact that Micheletti recognizes the need to rebring the state power to June 28 means a triumph for Honduran democracy.”

Related reading: Who’s behind the Obama Honduras policy?

Blog reaction
US crams Honduras agreement on return of Zelaya down government’s throat
Honduras Caves to US Interference
Zelaya returned to power
AN OBAMA ADMINISTRATION “TRIUMPH”
Scott Johnson

It is perfectly fitting that the signal diplomatic triumph of President Obama’s first year in office is the restoration to power of the lawfully deposed Honduran thug and friend of Fidel Castro, Daniel Ortega and Hugh Chavez. It is inimical to the national interest of the United States. it is a setback for the supporters of democracy in the beleaguered country of Honduras. And it is a defeat for those who believe in the rule of law. It is, in other words, a triumph of “smart diplomacy.”

Zelaya To Return As President Of Honduras, But Only To Sit On His Proktos
Ousted Leftist Zelaya & Honduran Government Sign Pact
Smart Diplomacy: Mrs. Clinton Helps Re-install Ousted Honduran Thug
Times of London:

The breakthrough came after renewed pressure from senior US officials who travelled to Honduras this week for a last-ditch effort to end the crisis.

Chicago comes to Honduras
Honduran Government Succumbs to the Obama Administration’s Pressure, Fellow Marxist Manuel Zelaya Will Be Returned to Power…..
Micheletti Caves in Honduras
Telling It as It Is — New York Times Style
Honduras Folds Part 2
Meanwhile, back in Honduras
Zelaya’s back!
Under U.S. Pressure, Bankrupt Honduras Agrees to Return Authoritarian Ex-President to Power
Obama Administration Forces Honduran Capitulation to Chaves Wanna-Be
The Rank Stench of Success
The Democrats in Honduras
A Settlement is Achieved in Honduras. Elections to be Respected, Zelaya’s future uncertain.
Travesty in Honduras
Who Came out of the Honduran Crisis Looking the Best? Hillary.
Ros-Lehtinen Comments on Developments in Honduras
Zelaya To Be Temporarily Restored to Office In Honduras; Recent Killings Definitely Not Related, No Sir
Finally: Obama gets a foreign policy success—unfortunately, it’s in Honduras, not Iran
US Makes Honduras Restore President
Fausta: “Honduran Government Caves” to US; Restores Zelaya
Everyone’s mighty confident about this Honduras deal
Obama Saves Face – Forces Honduran Congress To Go Through The Motions Of Restating Their Position On Zelaya
Honduras: Sold out
Don’t pack your bags yet, Mel
Reports of a Deal in Honduras Are Premature
Honduras: An Obama-Clinton disgrace
Return of the Honduran Prodigal

The U.S. embassy in Honduras did yeomen’s work watching out for the interests of the Zelaya clan, leaving many to wonder which side it was pulling for. In short, against a small, friendly, anti-Chávez ally, the administration mustered the sort of muscle it would never dare use against Iran, Russia, or Venezuela.

The accord requires implementation by the Hondurans, good behavior by Zelaya, and a quick infusion of international support for the elections. It requires hands-on U.S. diplomacy, not pre-June 28 complacency, to make sure Zelaya doesn’t yet derail the electoral process and steal Honduras from under the eyes of the Obama administration.

Potential Deal Reached In Honduras
Honduras agreement allows Zelaya return

Post re-edited to correct a broken link. Blog reaction roundup will be updated through the day.