“We will not accept any such violation”

Tensions continue to rise on the Golan Heights after Israel shot down a Syrian fighter jet, which crossed into its airspace.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said the following on the incident:

“Our air defense systems identified a Syrian Air Force jet that took off from the T-4 Syrian Air Force base and penetrated Israeli airspace. This is a gross violation of the 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement with Syria. I have reiterated and made clear that we will not accept any such violation. We will not accept any such penetration of, or spillover into, our territory, neither on the ground nor in the air. Our forces acted appropriately. We insist that the Syrians strictly abide by the Separation of Forces Agreement between us and them.”

With the rebel collapse in the Syrian occupied Golan Heights, regime soldiers as well as Iranian and Hezbollah forces are closing in on Israel’s territory.


Iran Takes Lebanon, War is Coming to Israel’s North

Initial results from Lebanon’s first election in 9 years shows Hezbollah, the Iranian backed radical Shiite militant group winning 67 out of the 128 member parliament.  If these results hold then Lebanon will be effectively controlled by Iran, giving it unfettered access to the north of Israel.

With President’s Trump’s announcement on the Iran deal due tomorrow at 2pm EST, the Middle East is on high alert for Iran responding to Israel’s attack on the T-4 base in Syria. With Lebanon now squarely in the hands of Iran, Israel is beginning to openly talk of decisive action in the coming weeks, if not sooner.

Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot of the Israel Defense Forces said on Monday evening, “Efforts by our enemies to strengthen themselves and Iran’s attempts to deepen its hold close to our borders require us to take the initiative, act with determination and strengthen our preparedness and preparedness vis-à-vis any scenario.”

Although there was an assumption that the Iranian leadership would thwink twice before attacking Israel, this is not the case. Iran may have had other plans and would have ideally waited for another two to three years before attacking Israel, but it cannot wait any longer.  The regime in Tehran wants payback for the T-4 attack as well as deflecting the embarressment from the successful operation undertaken by Israel to remove Iran’s nuclear archives.

With Lebanon now controlled by Iran, expect the Mullahs to finally get their chance to take on Israel directly.


Notes on our next war

Originally Published in Abu Yehuda.

There is a feeling of calm before the storm here in Israel. Everyone thinks war is unavoidable, and most people understand, at least on an intellectual level, that this war is going to be one of the toughest in Israel’s history.

I’ll say at the outset that I’m convinced that we will survive this one too, and even achieve a measure of victory. But the cost will be very high in soldiers, civilians and property, and the price we will have to exact from our enemies will be even higher. As in the past, they have worked themselves into a frenzy, listening to their own propaganda. And as in the past, they will be sorry. But there’s no stopping them, particularly since the Iranian regime thinks it will be able to destroy us by proxy, without getting its own hands dirty.

Our government and military will do their best to deter the various actors. Don’t join in, and nothing will happen to you, they will say, as they said to King Hussein of Jordan in 1967. But our enemies’ lack of understanding of our capabilities, their misconceptions about the nature of the Jewish people in Israel, and their incandescent hatred for us will continue to dazzle them.

We are facing some 130,000 rockets in Lebanon which can hit almost all of Israel, and some of which can be accurately guided to their targets. There is also an unknown number of missiles in Syria, which can carry chemical weapons. And Iran herself has missiles that can strike Israel from her territory. There are battle-hardened Hezbollah fighters and Shiite militias in Lebanon and Syria, prepared to bring the war to our territory. And unlike the IDF, they will not spare civilians that they encounter.

Hamas has also built up its missile forces since the last war, and have hardened their launchers and buried them underground. There is a threat from ISIS in the northern Sinai. Once the war begins we can expect an upsurge in terrorism from Arabs in Judea and Samaria, and possibly even from terrorist cells based in the Triangle area. How many fronts does that make?

The IDF expects incursions in the North and has made plans for evacuation of areas threatened by fighting or heavy rocket barrages. Possibly there may also be evacuations in the area around Gaza.

The enemy’s first act will probably be massive rocket attacks from Lebanon, perhaps with precision-guided missiles aimed at military targets and sensitive infrastructure. Only some of the incoming rockets will be intercepted by our anti-missile systems, which can be overwhelmed by the sheer number of projectiles. I expect that there will be incursions by elite enemy forces at the same time, in order to create panic and jam the roads with people moving south. Thousands of rockets a day will be fired at first, until our forces can destroy the launchers and stockpiles.

The IAF and artillery will hit the launch areas in southern Lebanon, causing massive damage and probably great loss of life to civilians among whom the rocket launchers are placed. IDF ground troops will enter Lebanon to root out the launchers that can’t be destroyed from the air. Heavy fighting is expected in an area that is honeycombed with tunnels and bunkers. Casualties to both the home front and the IDF in this phase may be quite high.

I can’t estimate how long it will take for the rocket fire from Lebanon to be stopped, but in 2006 it continued for an entire month until a cease-fire was signed. The IDF says that it has learned its lessons from that war, but then so has Hezbollah. I think it is true that this time we have far better intelligence and will know how to hit more targets in less time. We may even succeed in decapitating Hezbollah by killing its top leadership early on. But it is impossible to predict what will happen in a four- or five- front war. There are credible estimates of thousands of civilian and military casualties on our side. The war will probably be the most painful of any of Israel’s previous wars (at least in the sheer number of casualties).

I think that the Israel of massive construction projects and burgeoning economy will suffer a severe setback from this war, because of the human and financial costs. The “golden age” that we are experiencing today will not continue, or at least will be suspended for some years. The worldwide hate machine will go into overdrive, holding us responsible for the deaths of thousands or even tens of thousands of human shields in Lebanon and Gaza. There will be demonstrations against Israel and Jews everywhere.

What can we do to reduce the impact of the war? It seems to me that there are several possible strategies:

One is to wait for the enemy to attack and then hit them as hard as possible. This has one main advantage – at least, its proponents claim that it does – which is that world opinion and the diplomatic climate would be more favorable, since we would not be viewed as the aggressor. Our enemies would have violated international law by attacking us, and theoretically a  negotiated settlement would favor us.

The main disadvantage of this strategy is that a huge amount of damage can be done before we respond. Especially if critical infrastructure is destroyed, our response could be delayed, and the difference could be measured in thousands of deaths. Since ground troops would be required to deal with incursions and hardened rocket launchers, we would be in a difficult spot until the reserves could be called up, especially if we have been attacked on multiple fronts.

But the truth is that our diplomatic isolation stems from other nations’ perceptions of their national interest and by their prejudices, and not on the true moral or legal nature of our actions. World opinion is manipulated by governments and media and is also not reality-based. Therefore I doubt that any such abstract advantages would justify the price we would pay for it. And the price would be high.

The second strategy is to preempt and attack first. Martin Sherman has done a good job in arguing for preemption:

Given the assumption that, bolstered by its patron’s pervasive physical presence, Hezbollah will in all likelihood, eventually, use the vast arsenal at its disposal, the inevitable question is: Will Israel allow its deadly adversary to choose the time, place and circumstances for a major attack against it? Indeed, more to the point, can Israel afford to allow Hezbollah such a choice?

Sherman goes on to show that Israel cannot, particularly because the small size of the country and her technological sophistication make her especially vulnerable to destruction of critical infrastructure, such as power plants, desalination facilities, refineries, natural gas platforms, and similar facilities. A preemptive strike might not be quite as effective as it was in 1967, but it would certainly reduce the damage that Israel would need to absorb. If done properly it might result in a quick end to the war. I’ve argued the same thing hereand here.

Sherman argues correctly that the idea that Israel has been successful in deterring its enemies is wrong. Rather, our restraint has been exploited to allow our enemies to build up and harden their capabilities. The choice, says Sherman, is “between incapacitating the enemy while you can; or continuing to deter the enemy—until you can’t!”

A third strategy is to continue as we have been doing, preventing Iran from establishing bases in Syria and arming Hezbollah by means of limited strikes. But this is a delaying tactic that is only partially effective, and, Sherman notes, “it is liable to lead not only to the hardening of targets— for example by converting them from surface to underground sites—but to familiarizing the enemy with Israel’s methods and capabilities.”

There is always the question “what will the great powers do?” That means, of course, the US and Russia. The rest of the world will talk, but does not have the power to act (the Sunni Arabs will condemn us in public but smile in private). It is hard to predict what the Trump Administration will do, but it is certain that a Democratic administration would be worse, which argues for taking action sooner rather than later.

Will the Americans insist on prior knowledge of the operation? Can we take the risk of telling them? What will happen if we don’t?

As far as Russia is concerned, part of our plan will have to include guaranteeing Russia’s interests in the region. What this would mean in detail would have to be worked out, but I don’t think our interests and Russia’s have to contradict each other.

The problem is that time is not on our side. The longer we wait, the more expensive in lives and money the inevitable war becomes. The comforting argument that because of our strength our enemies will continue to be deterred falls apart with every new report that Iran has built this or that facility, or introduced this or that militia into Syria.

Sherman asks: do we want a triumph like 1967 or a trauma like 1973? I don’t know if we can achieve a victory as total as 1967, but only preemption will save us from an outcome that could be much worse than 1973.

The perils of postponing preemption

Israel is approaching a point when it must decide to destroy enemy capabilities, rather than attempting to deter the enemy from using them.

To remain at peace when you should be going to war may be often very dangerous…Let us attack and subdue…that we may ourselves live safely for the future.
– Thucydides (c. 460–395 BCE)

No government, if it regards war as inevitable, even if it does not want it, would be so foolish as to wait for the moment which is most convenient for the enemy.
– Otto von Bismarck (1815–1890)

…it is possible that the dangers into which we are steadily advancing would never have arisen. But the world and the Parliaments and public opinion would have none of that.. When the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand we apply too late the remedies which then might have effected a cure…

Winston Churchill (1874-1965), House of Commons, May 2, 1935.

In the past few days, senior IDF officers have publicly warned that the chances of war on Israel’s northern border in 2018 are growing significantly –see for example here and here.

100,000 missiles just for show?

The specter of renewed fighting presents Israel with a daunting dilemma.

Since the end of the 2006 Lebanon War, poorly conducted—and even more poorly concluded—by the Olmert government, the arsenal of the Iranian terror proxy, Hezbollah has grown exponentially in both the quantity and quality of its weaponry—now reportedly over ten times its pre-war size, and vastly enhanced in terms of its precision and destructive capacity.

Indeed, no one even vaguely familiar with the brutal nature of the organization—its gory past, and chilling proclamations of future intent—could even remotely entertain the hopelessly naïve belief that it was stockpiling over 100,000 missiles just for show.

Accordingly then, the working assumption underlying Israel’s strategic planning must be that, at some stage, they will in fact, be used against Israel and its civilian population centers. Certainly, any policy discounting such a possibility as implausible would be wildly irresponsible.

As Israeli military sources point out—the likelihood of such a grim scenario has been increased by several other factors—over which Israel has little to no control.

The one is the winding down of the civil war in Syria, in which Hezbollah has been embroiled to support their ally, Bashar al-Assad, who appears to have regained control of much of the country. This allowed Hezbollah forces to begin disengaging from the fighting and to refocus their attention on the hated “Zionist entity” to the south. The other is the undisguised efforts of Iran to establish a permanent military presence in both Syria and Lebanon—including the deployment of troops and the production of weapons in these two client states—and the completion of a Shia crescent, creating an effective land bridge from Iran to the Mediterranean coast.

Who decides when?

Given the assumption that, bolstered by its patron’s pervasive physical presence, Hezbollah will in all likelihood, eventually, use the vast arsenal at its disposal, the inevitable question is: Will Israel allow its deadly adversary to choose the time, place and circumstances for a major attack against it? Indeed, more to the point, can Israel afford to allow Hezbollah such a choice?

To grasp the consequences of permitting Hezbollah the chance of a large-scale first-strike, it is necessary to understand that the organization now poses a much graver threat than that of an asymmetric war with a guerrilla army, as it did in the past. Thus, a study published in July 2017 by a well-known security studies institute warned:
“…military buildups by Iran and Hezbollah – in Syria, and the production of high quality weapons in Lebanon – could mark the start of a new era… and could be seen as an attempt by Iran and Hezbollah to create a symmetrical strategic equation with Israel, if not more than that, i.e., achieving the capability to inflict significant damage to critical military and civilian systems in Israel”.

Accordingly, Hezbollah has become as a strategic danger to Israel, and while on its own it is clearly unable to invade and conquer large tracts of territory, it is eminently capable of wreaking massive damage on Israel’s civilian population and its strategic infrastructure.

“Unprecedented threat to infrastructure…”

Both the sheer numbers and greatly improved precision of Hezbollah’s weaponry, relative to 2006, could pose an almost insurmountable challenge to Israel’s missile defense systems. For now, not only would a far greater number of missiles be launched, but far fewer would be off target, and could therefore be left to fall un-intercepted, causing neither damage nor casualties…

Thus, the previously cited study cautions: “the threat represented by even a small number of precision missiles that breach Israel’s countermeasures and strike critical systems, such as electricity generation, could be unprecedented. The picture is similar with regard to other critical systems, such as national electricity management; natural gas infrastructure; sea water desalination (only five facilities supply about half of Israel’s drinking water); and many other examples from civilian and military fields.”

As the authors, former government minister, Gideon Sa’ar, and experienced Israeli air force veteran, Ron Tira, point out: “Israel is exceptionally vulnerable to attack by precision weapons, as on the one hand it is an advanced Western country dependent on sophisticated technologies, and on the other it is small, with very concentrated infrastructures and very little redundancy.”

The effects of the accompanying civilian casualties, the disruption of vital services and socio-economic routine—and consequent corrosive impact on public morale of such an assault are difficult to overstate. Indeed, there are certainly liable to be far-reaching and irreversible ramifications for the future resilience of the county—which must be averted at all costs.

Degrading deterrence?

Moreover, if a surprise precision missile attack were launched at Israel’s major air bases, even if the aircraft were left unscathed, damage to runways and infrastructure could render them inoperative—thus crippling, or at least severely curtailing, Israeli ability to retaliate.

After all, the very perception of the feasibility of such a scenario on the part of the enemy could, in itself, erode Israeli deterrence, based as it is—at least in conventional contexts—largely on airpower. This might well prompt the enemy to launch such an attack, in the belief that, if successful, it could then proceed to bombard the country with relative—albeit temporary—impunity.

Indeed, the very concept of ongoing deterrence, as the term has been used in the enduring Arab-Israeli conflict, in which large-scale military clashes flare up regularly, typically after a tense interbellum of several years, should be critically examined. In the intervening period between fighting, Israeli sources attributed the relative calm to the effectiveness of Israeli “deterrence”.

However, Israel’s adversaries, whether Hamas or Hezbollah, have not been deterred in the sense that they have had their will to engage in combat broken. Quite the reverse. Not only have they emerged from each engagement still spoiling for a fight, but after a period, they have emerged with new and vastly enhanced capabilities to be employed in the next round of battle.

So rather than being deterred, both Hamas and Hezbollah have merely been forced to regroup, rearm and redeploy—ready to attack when the time appears opportune.

But for the grace of God?

Certainly, with regard to Hezbollah, claims that it has been deterred, rather than compelled to regroup, rearm and redeploy—seem, to be charitable, unpersuasive. After all, what adversary, if deterred, proceeds immediately to expand their offensive capabilities by over a thousand percent?!

Indeed, it is an open question as to whether Hezbollah—had it not been enmeshed in the Syrian civil war in 2014—would have joined Hamas during Operation Protective Edge in a coordinated bombardment of Israeli cities to overwhelm the defensive capabilities of the Iron Dome anti-missile system.

It is an equally open—and ominous—question as to whether it will do so in a fourth round of fighting in Gaza—something numerous pundits consider unavoidable.

Regarding the situation on the northern border, several pundits have advocated a process of limited strikes on specific targets to foil the Iranian buildup, and convey the message that Israel will not tolerate such developments—and will not finch from escalation to prevent them.

This, however, is a prescription that is very likely to fail, increasing dangers, rather than diminishing them. Indeed, given manifest Iranian resolve and proven difficulty in breaking Hezbollah’s will to fight, it is liable to lead not only to the hardening of targets— for example by converting them from surface to underground sites—but to familiarizing the enemy with Israel’s methods and capabilities.

So what then, should Israel do to confront the emerging strategic peril in the north?

Deterrence vs. preemption: the doctrinal clash

At the risk of sounding repetitive, I have been warning for years that successive Israeli governments have been backing away from confrontations in which Israel can prevail, thereby risking backing the country into a confrontation in which it may not—or only do so at exorbitant costs.

Such a situation may well be brewing on the northern border today—with Iran at the gates in Syria, with Hezbollah deploying in the Golan, with a massive arsenal in the Lebanon trained on much of the country, and with the possibility of a coordinated attack in the south from Gaza. And if Israel waits until Iran can spread an effective nuclear umbrella over its Judeocidal proxies….?

Simple common sense and survival-based logic would seem to mandate one course of strategic action to contend with these ominous developments: Massive preemption to destroy the enemies’ ability to attack, not deter them from doing so.

In this regard, it is important to gasp that there is a doctrinal clash between the ability to attain effective deterrence and to achieve successful preemption. After all, in order to deter adversaries, one needs to convince them that they will suffer unacceptable damage were they to attack. But to convey such a message, one needs to reveal one’s capabilities to wreak such devastation—for otherwise, how could one’s potential attacker be convinced not to attack?

By contrast, successful preemption typically calls for surprise to overwhelm the enemy with an unexpected assault—which requires concealing one’s capabilities so that the enemy cannot make preparations to thwart them.

The choice of which of these somewhat antithetical doctrines to adopt may soon be upon Israeli policy makers.

1967 triumph vs 1973 trauma

In weighing this strategic dilemma, Israel’s leadership will, in effect, have to decide whether they are willing to risk sacrificing Israeli lives to appease the deity of political correctness. For in the past, restraint has often proven ruinous.

So the choice is between incapacitating the enemy while you can; or continuing to deter the enemy—until you can’t!

In making this decision, it may well be instructive for today’s policymakers to look back at the nation’s history and compare the triumph preemption brought in 1967, to the trauma wrought by deterrence failure in 1973.

Seen in this light, the lesson seems unequivocal… Or is that just me?

Are the Golan Heights Ground Zero for the Coming Conflict with Iran and Syria?

The coming war between Israel and Iran is nearly a foregone conclusion.  The Iranian drone incident and F-16 downing now over 2 weeks old was not only the first direct clash between Israel and the Ayatollahs, it outlines the course of events now unfolding on Israel’s Golan.

For years, Israel’s armed forces and generals prepared for a missile war with Hezbollah.  Large budgets had been put together for missile defense.  The drone incident has scrambled the notion that it is Hezbollah that will fire the opening shot. Iran has moved close to Israel’s border and if reports are accurate the Iranian movements are supported by Russia.

The ceasefire in Ghouta unanimously passed by the UNSC and now implemented by Russia for 5 hours a day has the potential to send thousands of refugees to Israel’s Golan border.  Whether this was purpseful or not doesn’t quite matter.  The coming chaos on the Golan will enable Iran to send fighters into Israel and try to accomplish what Syria has failed to do for years; that is to recapture and occupy the Golan Heights.  If Israel fights back then Hezbollah will unleash its hundreds of thousands of missiles on Israel.

The Golan is now ground zero for the coming war.  The faster Israel prepares to hold back the flood of refugees and impending Iranian invasion the easier it will be to defend itself against a much wider conflict.

Is Russia Behind Hezbollah’s Threats to Israel’s Gas Fields?

In a live broadcast Hezbollah’s leader Hasan Nasrallah warned Israel to back off its claims over disputed oil and gas field just off the southern Lebanese coast, threatening that Hezbollah could “disable [Israel’s offshore oil installations] within hours.”

The dispute is over the Block 9 which is near Lebanon’s maritime boundaries, but not within.  in January, Lebanon put up bids for developing Block 9.  Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in late January, “They [Lebanon] are announcing a tender on the gas field, including Block 9, which is ours by any definition,” and Lebanese actions “very, very challenging and provocative conduct here.”

So whose right?

Given all international agreements, Israel has sole control over Block 9.  Even Hezbollah would be foolish to openly declare war against Israel’s gas installations.  With this in mind, it is worth connecting the dots between Russia’s goal of controlling Middle Eastern energy choke points as well as valuable assets.

In 2016 Globes reported the following:

“Gazprom negotiated for several months to buy up to 30% of the Leviathan reservoir. The initiative to recruit a strategic partner in the rights to the reservoir originated in the realization by the current partners that they lacked the financial capability, know-how, and connections needed to realize the huge reservoir’s potential as soon as possible. According to reports, other companies that expressed interest in a partnership in Leviathan included South Korean company Kogas, Chinese company CNOOC, and Australian company Woodside. Gazprom has apparently submitted the highest bid.”

Putin even insinuated that if Israel agreed to the deal then he would be able to protect it from Hezbollah.

The deal eventually went south after Noble energy (the other investor) of the USA struck it down due to Russia’s involvment. With Putin’s goal of control over the Leviathan gas reservoir stymied, Hezbollah is free to force Israel into a potentially far worse deal.  Of course, Noble Energy, being a US company should be able to pressure the Trump administration to help Israel to defend its holdings.  Yet, after taking a look at the tightening noose around Israel, it won’t be a surprise if the US drops the ball on this too.



Obama, Hezbollah, and the End of Israel

As I currently sit in my house South of Jerusalem, there is a storm rising on Israel’s Northern border.  The storm is the Iranian axis made up of the Syrian regime, Hezbollah, and Iranian special forces.  This grouping is now a mere 4km from the Israeli Golan, an unthinkable situation just a few months ago.

It has become increasingly clear that the most potent menace out of the three antagonists is the Lebanese Hezbollah.  What was once just an Iranian proxy, has become a battle heartened army over the last few years of fighting to save Assad’s regime in Syria.  The Hezbollah now boasts over 100 thousand rockets aimed at Israel.  Their armed forces are not only situated North of Israel, but now buttress the Hermon, a strategic mountain that overlooks Israel’s Hula valley and Northern coastal areas.

How did this happen?  How did Hezbollah become such a threat to Israel?  Now, before I write further, I want to make it clear that the Israeli government going back to former Prime Minister Ehud Barak who hastily pulled out of Southern Lebanon, thus ceding control to Hezbollah deserves some of the initial blame for Israel’s current strategic situation.

Yet, it is becoming apparent thanks to Josh Meyer at Politico that the Obama administration had willfully shut down and blocked key parts of Project Cassandra, a secret program started in 2008 under the auspices of the DEA to target Hezbollah’s billion-dollar criminal enterprise and in many cases block it.  Hezbollah’s financing has been critical in allowing what was once just a terrorist organization to grow into a political movement and formidable army.

Meyer’s piece, which has become the focus of a cross-section of politicians and pundits since its publication on the 18th of December, essentially blew the lid off the fallout of Obama’s Iranian appeasement policy.

“In its determination to secure a nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, even as it was funneling cocaine into the United States, according to a POLITICO investigation,” Meyer starts his article.

“The Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah.”

Meyer’s article is thick with investigative research.  Despite push back by former Obama and Clinton officials, it is hard to dismiss his findings. There is no need to reproduce in this article what Meyer wove together over at Politico.

What is important to understand is that Israel’s most determined enemy was allowed to grow and build its army and weaponry with full knowledge and acceptance by former President Obama. This is not a small matter and the decision to allow this was clearly not taken without the understanding that doing so would essentially put Israel into mortal danger as it may very well be now.

The Iranian axis may still have captured Beit Jinn this past week, but its ability to inflict blow after blow against Israel would not be as potent if it were not for Obama’s reckless determination to reach a deal with the Iranian regime on the back of Israel’s safety.

The coming war between Israel and its mortal enemies is a direct consequence of the policy decisions in the Obama administration.  Without the chaos of the Arab spring, which Obama championed, nor the overtures to the Iranian regime, by the President himself, Iran would have never been able to reach to the Levant. Iran made the progress it did in large part due to the help of a well-financed Hezbollah.

The coming weeks are critical for Israel as war seems to be a foregone conclusion.  It is important that the truth be uncovered concerning the Obama administration’s role in railroading a program that was designed to weaken one of Israel’s and the USA’s most diehard enemies. It is also imortant that writer’s like Josh Meyer are championed instead of attacked as is happening now by public agents close to the Obama and Clinton teams.


WAR DRUMS: Syria-Hezbollah-Iran Moves Within 4km of Israel’s Golan

Arab sources and media are reporting that the combined strength of the Syrian Regime army and Iranian backed Hezbollah succeeded in cornering the Syrian rebels in the Beit Jinn enclave, located 4km from Israel’s Golan.  The rebels, seeing no help from Israel have now offered to surrender peacefully.

Once the regime and Hezbollah fully capture the enclave, they will have unfettered access to the Hermon, essentially surrounding the key area from both Lebanon and Syria.

Israel’s government has little time to decided how and when to stop the forward momentum of the Syrian-Hezbollah-Iranian forces before they are able to dig into fortefied positions along Israel’s Northeastern border.

While Israelis are disracted by news reports connected to the imminent police recommendation to charge Prime Minister Netanyahu with corruption, the danger on the country’s Northern border is growing.  Without a bold move soon, Iran and its Syrian and Hezbollah allies will achieve what Netanyahu pledged would never happen.  The Ayatollahs would be ready to pounce on Israel at a time of their choosing, that is unless Israel hits them first.

Obama: Worse than Chamberlain?

“Iran will become a nuclear power. The only mystery over how that will happen is whether Obama was inept or whether he deliberately sought to make the theocracy…strategic power.”- Victor Davis Hanson

In its determination to secure a nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, even as it was funneling cocaine into the United States…Meanwhile, Hezbollah — in league with Iran — continues to undermine U.S. interests in Iraq, Syria and throughout wide swaths of Latin America and Africa, including providing weapons and training to anti-American Shiite militiasJosh Meyer, The secret backstory of how Obama let Hezbollah off the hook, Politico, Dec. 18, 2017.

It is becoming clear that the liberal President Obama…in complete contradiction of his saintly statements, effectively gave a green light to an entire web of ongoing crimes, based on his perception – ridiculous in itself – that it was in America’s national interest to do soProf. Abraham Ben-Zvi,  No moral backbone Dec. 19, 2019,

The really chilling aspect of the Obama incumbency is that it is genuinely difficult to diagnose whether the abysmal results we see represent a crushing failure of his policies or a calculated success; whether they are the product of chronic ineptitude or purposeful foresight; whether they reflect myopic misunderstanding, moronic incompetence or malicious intent. – Into the Fray: Will the West Withstand The Obama Presidency?, Nov. 28, 2013.

Earlier this week, a scorching piece of investigative journalism in the widely-read political publication, Politico, catapulted the ill-conceived 2015 Iran nuclear deal, mendaciously railroaded through by the Obama administration, back into the center of media attention.

Well, sort of.

No record in “The paper of record”?

For although numerous media channels did swoop down on the report that, in order to secure some agreement with Tehran over its nuclear program, the Obama White House deliberately strove to obstruct an extensive Drug Enforcement Administration operation, codenamed “Project Cassandra”, targeting the Iran-backed terror group, Hezbollah–it appears to have been studiously ignored by several major Obamaphilic outlets.

Indeed, Google as I might, I could find nary a reference—even the most oblique or remote— in the New York Times to the almost 15,000 word investigation. Or in the LA Times. Or the Washington Post. Or on CNN. Or MSNBC…

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), on the other hand, did address the matter. In an editorial headlined “Obama’s Pass for Hezbollah”, it called for a Congressional investigation into the allegations that the Obama administration “had shut down, derailed or delayed numerous…Hezbollah-related cases with little or no explanation”—despite evidence that “Hezbollah had transformed itself…into an international crime syndicate that…was collecting $1 billion a year from drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering and other criminal activities”.

In fairness, it should be noted that the liberal-leaning National Public Radio (NPR) did air an interview with the exposé’s author, Josh Meyer. However, in a breathtaking example of politically partisan obfuscation, the host of NPR’s Morning Edition, Rachel Martin attempted to defend the indefensible.

Media mumbo-jumbo

Summing up Meyer’s deeply disturbing investigation, she concluded: “this was obviously a historic deal, the Iran nuclear deal.. It has become a central part of Barack Obama’s presidential legacy. [T]he premise was all about making the world safer.” Then transparently trying to minimize the gravity of Meyer’s revelations, Martin suggested: “The takeaway from your piece and your reporting seems to be that there were just more tradeoffs involved in this deal than the public knew about.

Just more tradeoffs involved than the public knew about???!!! Really?

Turning a blind-eye to tons of cocaine” smuggled into the U.S. by a Mexican cartel; rivers of dirty cash, traced to “the innermost circle of Hezbollah and its state sponsors in Iran”; procurement of deadly weapons used to “kill hundreds of U.S. soldiers” Just another trade-off???   Imagine if the American people had known!

In his closing comment, Meyer managed to dispense with Martin’s mumbo-jumbo of “making the world safer”: “It is somewhat ironic…that in their efforts to make the world a safer place they did allow a group that was a regionally focused militia-slash-political organization with a terrorist wing to become a much more wealthy global criminal organization that has a lot of money that can now be used to bankroll terrorist and military actions around the world.”

“Making the world safer…”?
Indeed, there could be little more ludicrous than the contention that Obama’s foreign policy made the world “a safer place”. For virtually in every corner of the globe, the opposite is clearly the case. Virtually, everywhere it was applied, the Obama-doctrine was dramatically and definitively disproven. Indeed, wherever the administration took action—or refrained from action—disaster followed debacle, leaving a gory trial of death, destruction and devastation. America’s traditional allies were alienated and abandoned; its traditional adversaries embraced and emboldened. Time and again, the US saw its prestige as a power degraded; its credibility as an ally drastically diminished.

Whether in Egypt, or Libya; in Yemen or Iraq; Syria or Turkey, Obama never failed in putting the wrong foot forward.

In Egypt, he embraced the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood but coldshouldered General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the man who managed to oust it, and save the county from plunging into an Islamist abyss. In Libya, Obama “led from behind” into ousting a chastened Kaddafi—and into the ongoing bloody turmoil that has engulfed the country ever since; In Syria, his reticence left the more moderate rebel forces without support, emboldened Russia and created a vacuum that Iran, with its capabilities greatly enhanced and its coffers greatly replenished by the 2015 nuclear deal, eagerly rushed to fill; In Iran, during the 2009 Green Revolution, he turned his back on the millions protesting against the incumbent tyranny, thus making the  prospects for any positive regime-change increasingly remote. In Iraq, his grave underestimation of the threat ISIS posed precipitated gruesome carnage of genocidal proportions…  

And so, under Obama, the world got safer and safer…

Puzzling, perturbing and perverse

It is against this backdrop of pervasive foreign policy failures that the fateful Iran deal should be scrutinized—together with the reasons for the exorbitant price the Obama administration was willing to pay for it, and the light this might shed on the motivations behind the US endorsement of it.

For as I pointed out in a previous INTO THE FRAY column (see introductory excerpts): “… it is genuinely difficult to diagnose whether the abysmal results we see represent a crushing failure of his policies or a calculated success; whether they are the product of chronic ineptitude or purposeful foresight… whether they reflect myopic misunderstanding, moronic incompetence or malicious intent.”

For, as more and more emerges as to what we know – and what we don’t– about the noxious deal brewed by Obama and his minions (e.g. the obstruction of Project Cassandra), it is becoming increasingly difficult to accept that negotiations with Iran were conducted in good faith.

Indeed, this very question is posed by Prof. Victor Davis Hanson of Stanford’s Hoover Institute. In in a scathing essay, Is Obamism Correctable?, he writes: “Iran will become a nuclear power. The only mystery over how that will happen is whether Obama was inept or whether he deliberately sought to make the theocracy some sort of strategic power.”

It is a question that cannot be skirted—for much that surrounds the actions of the previous administration regarding its policy towards Iran is puzzling and perturbing—even perverse.

From preventing to permitting proliferation

It would appear that, for Obama, there were good reasons to keep the US public in the dark as to the details of the nuclear deal. As I pointed out elsewhere (POTUS vs US),

not only was there significant—and increasing—opposition to the deal, but the more people knew about it, the more they opposed it- see here and here.

But beyond the question of duplicity and concealment, there lies the question of motivation.

After all, the deal with Tehran was in large measure, a dramatic point of inflection in US policy towards Iran. Rather than being a hard-won triumph, it was an unexplained, unnecessary capitulation, which not only departed from, but contradicted, long-held principles.


This is vividly illustrated in a WSJ article, The Iran Deal and Its Consequences, by two former Secretaries of State, Henry Kissinger and George Shultz. They point out that “For 20 years, three presidents of both major parties proclaimed that an Iranian nuclear weapon was contrary to American and global interests – and that they were prepared to use force to prevent it.”

However, under Obama, they warned: “…negotiations that began 12 years ago as an international effort to prevent an Iranian capability to develop a nuclear arsenal are ending with an agreement that concedes this very capability…”


In an earlier appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Kissinger reiterated the far-reaching weakening of US positions: “Nuclear talks with Iran began as an international effort, buttressed by six U.N. resolutions, to deny Iran the capability to develop a military nuclear option. They are now an essentially bilateral negotiation over the scope of that capability…The impact of this approach will be to move from preventing proliferation to managing it.”

Thus, under Obama, the US moved from a firm commitment to prevent proliferation to feebly consenting to permit it—hopefully somewhat delayed.

Untethered to America’s founding Judeo-Christian heritage

How is this radical sea-change to be accounted for?

As I have underscored in numerous previous INTO THE FRAY columns, Obama himself was in effect a point of inflection in the history if the US presidency.

Indeed, it is difficult for anyone—other than the willfully blind or the woefully biased—to deny that in the formative environment, in which Obama’s political credo coalesced, many of the influences, and many of the personalities/organizations that shaped his political consciousness, were, at least partially, sharply divergent from – even antithetical to – the ethos that made America, America.

Accordingly, only the overly naïve—or excessively partisan—could believe that these inputs would not color his political instincts and policy preferences. Consequently, under his administration, US national interests – and the manner in which they should be pursued – were perceived being fundamentally different from the way they were perceived by almost all his predecessors.

Indeed, Obama was the first US president who was explicitly and overtly untethered–cognitively and emotionally—from the moorings of America’s Judeo-Christian cultural heritage, and who genuinely conceived of Islam as not inherently opposed to American values or interests.

This –for anyone who understands that the US constitution is not a Sharia-compliant document—is likely to a problematic perspective

The Chamberlain analogy

The Chamberlain analogy has been applied to Obama; and the Munich analogy, to the Iran nuclear deal he was so eager conclude, as to reflecting a repetition of the kind of appeasement of tyranny that led to the horrors of World War II. Indeed, it has been invoked not only by his political adversaries, but concerned political supporters as well.

Thus, two-time Obama voter, Prof. Alan Dershowitz warned that, if as a result of the nuclear deal, Iran acquired nuclear weapons, Obama’s legacy would be similar to the disgraced British prime minister, whose capitulation to Nazi Germany precipitated arguably the greatest carnage in human history.

However, capitulation by Obama to Tehran is far more difficult to comprehend than Chamberlain’s to Hitler. For the disparity between the strength of the mighty US and the then economically emaciated and drought-ravaged Iran was vastly greater than the power differential between Britain and the resurgent Germany of the late 1930s.

After all, America’s  GDP outstrips Iran’s by a factor of more than 40, its per capita GDP is 10 times higher; it has over four times the population of Iran, and is six times its size.

But perhaps the most significant comparison concerns military prowess.

While the US defense budget is around $600 billion, most published estimates put Iranian defense expenditure at that time at around 2% -3% of that of the US.

Worse than Chamberlain?

Accordingly, with more than 40 times the resources devoted to military capabilities than Tehran, the claim, that some other more favorable deal could not be imposed on an impoverished Iran, rings decidedly hollow – if not manipulatively mendacious.

It certainly seems wildly implausible that the only other alternative was to allow Iran to pursue, with virtual impunity, all its other nefarious , non-nuclear malfeasance across the globe, while empowering it militarily, enriching it economically and entrenching it politically—thus  making any regime-change in the foreseeable future highly unlikely.

Clearly then, the question of whether Obama will be judged as worse than Chamberlain cannot be avoided.  But will America be able to muster the moral courage to contend with it honestly?

Congress to Investigate Obama Scheme to Nix Investigation into Hezbollah Terrorists

Originally Published in the Free Beacon

Investigation to focus on Rhodes, senior Obama officials

Lawmakers are launching an investigation into Obama-era efforts to thwart a longstanding U.S. investigation into the Iranian-backed terror group Hezbollah, according to multiple congressional officials and insiders who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

The Obama administration worked behind the scenes to thwart a decade-long Drug Enforcement Agency investigation into Hezbollah and its highly lucrative drug trade in Latin America, according to a report in Politico. These officials are believed to have run interference on the investigation in order to avoid upsetting Iran and jeopardizing the landmark nuclear accord.

Senior Obama officials in the Treasury and Justice Departments are said to have undermined the DEA’s investigation at multiple junctures in order to avoid angering Hezbollah’s patron Iran, which could have jeopardized the landmark nuclear agreement.

Congress is now taking steps to formally investigate the reports, which multiple sources described to the Free Beacon as part of a larger Obama administration effort to overlook Iran’s global terror operations in order to cement the nuclear deal.

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), a member of the House Oversight Committee and chair of its National Security Subcommittee, told the Washington Free Beacon on Wednesday that he and other top lawmakers are examining evidence that could implicate top former Obama officials, including National Security Council official Ben Rhodes, the architect of the former administration’s self-described pro-Iran “echo chamber.”

“I’ve long believed that the Obama administration could not have done any more to bend over backwards to appease the Iranian regime, yet news that the Obama administration killed the investigation into a billion dollar drug ring that lined the terrorist group Hezbollah’s pockets in order to save its coveted Iran deal may very well take the cake,” DeSantis said.

“Hezbollah is a brutal terrorist group with American blood on its hands and it would be unconscionable for American policy to deliberately empower such a nefarious group,” he said.

Lawmakers will be paying particular attention to whether Rhodes or other senior officials accused of misleading Congress and the American public about the Iran deal played a role in thwarting the Hezbollah investigation.

“Congress will be investigating this thoroughly and my National Security subcommittee will be particularly interested in how such a decision came about and whether it was driven by key Iran deal architects such as Ben Rhodes,” DeSantis said.

Congressional investigators are already preparing letters to various U.S. government agencies in order to obtain greater information about the alleged interference, according to those with knowledge of the matter.

Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.), a chief national security voice in the House who fought against the nuclear accord, told the Washington Free Beacon that Congress must investigate the Obama administration’s actions and work to increase pressure on Hezbollah.

“The report alleging the Obama Administration turned a blind eye and allowed Hezbollah to pump drugs into the United States to fund its terror campaigns in the Middle East is not surprising,” Roskam said. “Hampering the DEA’s investigation of Hezbollah would be emblematic of the previous administration’s fixation to strike a nuclear accord with Iran at any costs.”

“This blind eye imperiled our efforts to combat Iran and its proxies’ malign behavior and left us with a cash-flush Iran on the warpath across the Middle East with a nuclear program legitimized by the JCPOA,” Roskam said, using the acronym for the nuclear deal’s official name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. “Congress needs to investigate this report and do what the Obama Administration refused to do, severely increase pressure on Hezbollah and hold the terrorist group, and its benefactor Iran, accountable for their crimes.”

U.S. drug enforcement agents who spoke to Politico about the matter accused the Obama administration of intentionally derailing an investigation into Hezbollah’s drug trafficking and money laundering efforts that began in 2008 under the Bush administration.

The investigation centered on Hezbollah and Iranian-backed militants who allegedly participated in the illicit drug network, which was subject to U.S. wiretaps and undercover operations.

Hezbollah is believed to have been laundering at least $200 million a month just in the United States, according to the report.

When U.S. authorities were ready to make the case against Hezbollah’s most senior leadership, Obama administration officials allegedly “threw an increasingly insurmountable series of roadblocks in its way,” according inside sources who spoke to Politico about the situation.

The Obama-led effort to block the investigation was “a policy decision, it was a systematic decision,” one source said. “They serially ripped apart this entire effort that was very well supported and resourced, and it was done from the top down.”

One senior congressional source apprised of the matter told the Free Beacon that while lawmakers have long known about the former Obama administration’s efforts to steamroll over Congress and ink the nuclear deal, the interference in the Hezbollah investigation could be a matter for law enforcement.

“Add this to the long list of concessions the Obama administration made in pursuit of the nuclear agreement with Iran,” said the source, who was not authorized to speak on the record about the matter. “The difference here is that this wasn’t just bad policy—it was potentially criminal. Congress absolutely has a responsibility to get to the bottom of this.”

Other sources described a long list of efforts by the Obama administration to downplay Iran’s terror efforts and turn a blind eye to its illicit efforts to skirt U.S. sanctions.

“The Obama administration started sucking up to Iran from Day 1, because they thought if they showed good faith the [Iranian] Supreme Leader would let Iranian diplomats negotiate with them,” according to a longtime congressional adviser who works on Middle East issues, including Iran.

The former administration “looked the other way at sanctions busting, fought Congress against new pressure, and did everything possible to slow roll enforcement,” the source said. “Meanwhile the Ben Rhodes echo chamber went into overdrive to sell that they were aggressively—that was the word they shopped around, ‘aggressively’—dealing with Iran. Now we know they were tearing down whatever parts of the federal government where still trying to stop Iran and its terrorists.”

Meanwhile, a delegation of lawmakers on the House’s Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere sent a letter to President Trump Wednesday urging greater action on Hezbollah in light of the Obama administration’s behavior.

The letter pushes the Trump administration to formally designate Hezbollah as a Transnational Criminal Organization (TCO) and as a Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficking Kingpin (SDNTK). It also demands an investigation into Hezbollah’s criminal enterprises under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.), chair of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa and a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said that Hezbollah’s illicit operations in Latin America are growing and threaten the U.S homeland.

“It’s no secret that, in its pursuit of the weak and dangerous nuclear deal, the Obama administration ignored Iran’s illicit activity and the threat the state sponsor of terror-regime posed to our national security and the security and stability of our allies,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “If recent reports of the size and scope of Hezbollah’s operations in Latin America are true, we should all be alarmed as it puts the terror group right in our own hemisphere.”

Originally Published in the Free Beacon