Publicado: 05-07-2012 09:19 AM
The Orwellian Atrocities Prevention Board, Part I
Posted By David Meir-Levi On May 4, 2012 In Daily Mailer,FrontPage
On Monday, April 23, President Obama officially announced the creation of the “Atrocities Prevention Board” (APB): a comprehensive strategy to prevent and respond to atrocities. On the same day, the APB Board of Directors held its first meeting, chaired by Samantha Power, who declared that the APB would “coordinate action across the entire government on stopping genocide and liaise with the NGO communit....” And on that same day, President Obama appeared at a ceremony at the Washington Holocaust Museum, a most fitting place to announce the inauguration of the APB, in respond to criticism about Obama’s having not done enough to stop the atrocities in Syria, and against earlier administrations that sat idly by during the war crimes and genocide in Rwanda and Darfur.
Obama spoke in forceful language there, promising:
“The Syrian people have not given up, which is why we cannot give up. So with partners and allies we will keep increasing the pressure so that those who stick with Assad know that they are making a losing bet.”
“In short, we need to do everything we can to prevent these kinds of atrocities, because national sovereignty is never a license to slaughter your own people,” Obama said. “Remembrance without resolve is a hollow gesture. Awareness without action changes nothing.”
Inspiring words, superficially. But before we celebrate a new “never again” broadcast from Washington, it is important to look at some of the details of this new government initiative.
The first problem is Syria[i] (we will examine the second problem, APB leadership, in part II of this article).
Numerous critics have asked why innocent blood spilt by Qaddafi in Libya warranted military intervention but many thousands more innocents dead and dying in Syria do not. Thus Wiesel asked poignantly, in his introductory words to Obama, “So in this place we may ask: Have we learned anything from it [the Holocaust]? If so, how is it that Assad is still in power? How is it that the Number 1 Holocaust denier Ahmadinejad is still a president? He who threatens to use nuclear weapons to destroy the Jewish state.”
And Obama answered as he has in the past, with a non-answer: “The United States would continue increasing diplomatic, political, and economic pressure on the Assad regime, but said the U.S. commitment to end atrocities “does not mean we intervene militarily every time there is an injustice in the world.”
Obama’s lame assertion that the US does not need to intervene does not really answer the question. We did not need to intervene in Libya either, but we did.
But perhaps the President had purposely chosen a lame and almost risible response (we do not need to so we won’t, and instead we’ll do things that we know will not work, like tighten sanctions even though they are not working) precisely in order to avoid an honest answer. Perhaps the President does not want the honest answer made public…at least not until after his victory in the coming election.
The honest answer may be more akin to something like this. Libya was an easy mark, little risk, good PR. Syria, however, is different. Its army is more formidable than Qaddafi’s. It is known to be heavily armed with shoulder-fired missiles obtained from Russia and China. And perhaps most important, it is closely allied with Russia and Iran. Obama does not want to alienate either. It is likely that he is preparing for some post-election agreements with Russia concerning nuclear disarmament and elimination of our missile defense systems (remember that “hot mic” incident with Russian president Medvedev?), so he does not want friction with this future partner now.
And regarding Iran, Syria is closely allied with Iran too, and serves as Iran’s proxy in the non-Shiite part of the Fertile Crescent. Obama does not want to precipitate another major armed conflict, especially not with Iran, prior to the elections. If the U.S. were to strike Syria, Iran would probably be forced to take some sort of action, not only to support its proxy and ally, but also to protect its base of operations in Syria and Lebanon, a base which it has been building for more than 30 years. Moreover, Assad’s enemies include the Muslim Brotherhood whose ultimate goal is the creation of a Sunni Caliphate – obviously in competition with Iran for global Muslim domination. So Iran could not stand idly by as the USA intervenes on behalf of Iran’s enemies to bring about the demise of Iran’s ally, and thus an Iranian counter-response would be almost assured. It is also important to recall that Obama has been venting jeremiads against Israel for the very thought of a military strike against Iran. Obama would then be in the untenable **noallow** of striking Iran to protect Syrian Arab Muslim civilians from Assad’s massacre, but not striking Iran to protect Israeli Jewish (and Muslim and Christian) civilians from Iran’s nuclear massacre[ii].
Obama doesn’t want voters to think he’s indifferent. So he creates the APB in order to show that he is doing something; but it is also something that Assad and Ahmadinejad can easily ignore. Even with the best of intentions and impressive names and the imprimatur of our President, it is obvious to even the most naïf that boards and committees and NGOs do not stop men with guns. So no harm is done to Obama’s plans to avoid confrontation with Iran and to maintain good relations with Russia, good relations being needed for reasons that Obama does not want to reveal until after his re-election.
In fact, Obama has worked hard over the past year or so to make sure that he can continue to avoid confrontation while maintaining plausible deniability. First, the Syrian opposition was deemed too fragmented, so how could Obama know whom to back? Then, the White House warned the opposition not to take up weapons, lest it forfeit the moral high ground that Secretary Clinton claimed it had captured. Then there was the problem of al-Qaeda infiltrating the Syrian rebels’ ranks; but Obama failed to note that it was Assad who first made common cause with al-Qaeda, causing Obama no consternation. And now, with his new APB, Obama has created plausible deniability for his inaction, even though it means losing an opportunity to advance American vital interests by helping to bring down Iran’s chief regional ally.
And perhaps worst of all, Obama’s endorsement of the doomed Annan initiative means that the US **noallow** is effectively the same as Moscow’s. The White House has even told its own allies, especially Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, not to arm the opposition, thus aligning the USA with the Russians.
So the Iranians continue working on a nuclear bomb, and the White House warns Israel against bombing the reactors where the bomb is being made. Bashar al-Assad continues to kill Syrian civilians with Russian weapons and Iranian money, and Obama warns our allies not to interfere and aligns us with Russia and Iran; and just to make sure that no one thinks he is soft, our President unleashes — an advisory board.
As Sen. John McCain recently observed, “… good bureaucratic organization may be necessary to stop mass atrocities and gross human rights abuses, but it is not sufficient. Ultimately, ending violations of conscience requires the political will and moral courage of world leaders, especially the President of the United States. Unfortunately, that will and leadership are lacking in the case of Syria today.”
[i] For good summaries of the problems and contradictions in Obama’s Syrian policy see “Syria: It’s Not Just About Freedom“; “While Syria Burns“; “What’s Wrong with Having an Atrocities Czar?“; and “The Spirit of Kellogg-Briand.”
[ii] Special acknowledgement to *beep* Nelson, USNA ’64, for part of this analysis.
Publicado: 05-07-2012 09:22 AM
The Orwellian Atrocities Prevention Board, Part II
By David Meir-Levi On May 7, 2012 In Daily Mailer,FrontPage
As discussed in Part I of this article, Russia flies planeloads of weapons to Damascus. Iran supplies Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad with money, trainers, agents, and more weapons. With that kind of backing, Assad can flip the finger at the UN’s Obama-endorsed cease-fire plan and continue the carnage, with more than 10,000 dead at last count. And what does Obama do? After months of ignoring or dithering, he forms a committee to look in to the Syrian atrocities. But not just any committee: no, a committee with multi-agency participation!
If Obama really wanted to bring Assad down, a major defeat for the USA’s regional enemy, Iran, then why not set about organizing, training and arming the Syrian rebels in their sanctuaries in Turkey? He would have Turkey’s blessing and Saudi Arabia’s cooperation. But instead, a committee: the Atrocities Prevention Board (APB).
Obama’s political motivations for forming this committee prior to his re-election campaign, to diffuse criticism regarding his inactivity in the face of Iran’s nuclear threat and Syria’s mass murder of unarmed protesters, have been discussed in Part I. Now a look at the APB’s future is in order, and its future is defined by its leaders.
The statistically most accurate predictor of 11th grade behavior in high school students is their 10th grade behavior. The same is often true of adults. A review of the two most prominent APB leaders’ recent past is likely to offer insight as to the direction in which they may take the APB in the future.
Dr. Samantha Power, the new chairperson of the APB, announced its formation last year. She is the academic and political power-house who won a Pulitzer Prize for her book A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, and now advises the Obama administration on the subject of international atrocities. She convened the first meeting of the APB Board of Directors on Monday, April 23, as Obama delivered his speech about American support for human rights at the Holocaust Memorial Museum.
While Dr. Power is clearly well versed in issues relating to mass murder, war crimes, and genocide, her ability or willingness to deal objectively with global or regional issues relating to such atrocities must be called in to question, given her past statements and recommendations. She has a long record of antipathy toward Israel and has argued that America’s relationship with Israel “has often led foreign policy decision-makers to defer reflexively to Israeli security assessments, and to replicate Israeli tactics.”
During a 2002 interview with Harry Kreisler, director of the Institute for International Studies at UC Berkeley, Power said that even if it meant “alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import” (i.e., American Jews), the United States should stop investing “billions of dollars” in “servicing Israel’s military” and invest the money instead “in the new state of Palestine.” Moreover, she accused Israel of perpetrating “major human-rights abuses” and suggested that the United States had brought terrorist attacks upon itself by aping Israel’s violations of human rights.
“What we need is a willingness to actually put something on the line…and putting something on the line might mean alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import. It may more crucially mean…investing literally billions of dollars not in servicing Israeli military, but actually investing in the new state of Palestine…”
She went on to suggest a rather revolutionary solution[i] to the Arab-Israel conflict, US “external intervention” using American military force against Israel:
“…in investing (the) billions of dollars it would probably take also to support, I think, what would to be (sic!), I think, a mammoth protection force…a meaningful military presence because it seems to me at this stage — and this is true of actual genocides as well and not just major human rights abuses which we’re seeing there — but is that you have to go in as if you’re serious. You have to put something on the line and unfortunately the **noallow** of a solution on unwilling parties is dreadful, it’s a terrible thing to do, it’s fundamentally undemocratic.”
Publicado: 05-07-2012 09:23 AM
So the chair of President Obama’s new Atrocities Prevention Board once called publicly for the United States to impose by means of military force an essentially anti-Israel resolution to end the conflict by sending a meaningful military presence, a mammoth force of American troops, to invade Israel in order to end the putative abuses that she said were being committed there by Israel against Palestinians!
Let’s recall that she made this pronouncement at a time when the 2nd intifada was at its height, with Israeli buses being blown up by suicide bombers almost daily and Arafat screaming “Jihad, jihad, jihad” into PA television.
In March 2011, Glenn Beck covered Dr. Power on his radio show, and in a subsequent article he concluded that Samantha Power is probably the most dangerous woman in America, and a real threat to Israel. He also noted that “[UN official Richard Falk] has been pushing for the right to protect or the Responsibility to Protect to be used against Israel and they’ve been trying this now for the last couple of years, and that’s what this is really all about, period. This is about going after Israel.” Beck concluded by reiterated his pro-Israel stance and said that there are many forces that are making moves against Israel. Samantha Power, who is clearly a force within the Obama administration, stands among them.
It is, in sum, not unwarranted to suggest that Dr. Power may be influenced by her anti-Israel predisposition as she takes the helm of the APB.
The same concerns apply to Susan Rice (no relation to Condoleezza Rice), US Ambassador to the UN and another Obama appointee to the APB Board of Directors. She too has displayed an open hostility to the state of Israel.
During the 2004 presidential campaign, she was a foreign-policy advisor to Democrat candidate John Kerry. According to The American Thinker, she advised Kerry to appoint two of the most virulent of America’s anti-Israel political figures to a negotiating panel that would engage Israel and the Palestinians: James Baker and Jimmy Carter .
According to the Weekly Standard, in June of 2010 Rice played an important role in pushing the Obama administration to support a United Nations investigation of a deadly May 31 flotilla fiasco, when a gaggle of Turkish ships tried to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza strip. The ships were intercepted by Israeli naval commandos when they refused to comply with Israeli requirements that all cargo be submitted for inspection. According to Israel, approximately 40 of the 600-plus people aboard the vessels were Turkish jihadists who instigated the violence, and several were known to have ties to Islamic terrorism.
In February 2011, in one of the most extraordinary statements ever made by an American official about Israel, Rice bitterly complained about having to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israel and its settlement policy. She deliberately undercut the impact of the veto by saying, “For more than four decades, [Israeli settlement activity] has undermined security … corroded hopes for peace and security … it violates international commitments and threatens prospects for peace.” During her testimony before Congress several months later, Rice reiterated that sentiment, adding “Israeli settlement activity is illegitimate.”
So with two anti-Israel power-houses at the helm, a host of anti-Israel political and academic voices cheering them on, many on the left in mainstream media pandering to the Arab line with its routine accusations of Israel’s atrocities and genocidal intentions, and the President with the worst track record on Israel ever having intentionally chosen them to direct the APB, it will be all too easy for them to accept Arab accusations at face value, prioritize Palestinian so-called victims over legitimate victims of atrocities elsewhere, and declare the West Bank or Gaza Strip an “atrocity zone.” Then Powers and Rice can use the APB to go after Israel. They will see their wishes fulfilled: American armed forces invading Israel to protect Palestinian terrorist “victims” from Israeli defensive “atrocities.”
Perhaps Glenn Beck is right. Perhaps that is why Obama chose them to run his new APB.
[i] The only other American political figure to place such a notion on record is former Chief Warrant Officer/counterintelligence special agent, US Army, retired, *beep* McManus, Democrat, of Everett/Mill Creek, WA, who is running for Congress, 2nd CD-WA.
*beep* McManus: “It is time for America to use our military to force Israel to return the occupied territories…If we care about the long-term security of Israel it is time for America to use our military force to return the occupied territories to the Palestinians.”