Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Land-for-Peace Hoax

by Caroline Glick

Camp David 2.jpg
The rise of the forces of jihadist Islam in Egypt places the US and other Western powers in an uncomfortable position. The US is the guarantor of Egypt's peace treaty with Israel. That treaty is based on the proposition of land for peace. Israel gave Egypt the Sinai in 1982 and in exchange it received a peace treaty with Egypt. Now that the Islamists are poised to take power, the treaty is effectively null and void.

The question naturally arises: Will the US act in accordance with its role as guarantor of the peace and demand that the new Egyptian government give Sinai back to Israel? Because if the Obama administration or whatever administration is in power when Egypt abrogates the treaty does not issue such a demand, and stand behind it, and if the EU does not support the demand, the entire concept of land-for-peace will be exposed as a hoax.

Indeed the land-for-peace formula will be exposed as a twofold fiction. First, it is based on the false proposition that the peace process is a two-way street. Israel gives land, the Arabs give peace. But the inevitable death of the Egyptian-Israeli peace accord under an Egyptian jihadist regime makes clear that the land-for-peace formula is a one-way street. Israeli land giveaways are permanent. Arab commitments to peace can be revoked at any time.

Then there are the supposedly iron-clad US and European security guarantees that accompany signed treaties. All the American and European promises to Israel - that they will stand by the Jewish state when it takes risks for peace - will be exposed as worthless lies. As we are already seeing today, no one will stand up for Israel's rights. No one will insist that the Egyptians honor their bargain.

As it has become more apparent that the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist parties will hold an absolute majority in Egypt's democratically elected parliament, Western governments and media outlets have insistently argued that these anti-Western, and anti-Jewish, movements have become moderate and pragmatic. Leading the charge to make the case has been the Obama administration. Its senior officials have eagerly embraced the Muslim Brotherhood. Indeed, the spiritual head of the Muslim Brotherhood Yusuf Qaradawi is reportedly mediating negotiations between the US and the Taliban.

Qaradawi, an Egyptian who has been based in Qatar since 1961, when he was forced to flee Egypt due to his jihadist politics, made a triumphant return to his native land last February following the overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak. Speaking to a crowd of an estimated two million people in Cairo's Tahrir Square, Qaradawi led them in a chant calling for them to invade Jerusalem.

Over the years, Qaradawi has issued numerous religious ruling permitting, indeed requiring, the massacre of Jews. In 2009, he called for the Muslim world to complete Hitler's goal of eradicating the Jewish people.

As for the US, in 2003, Qaradawi issued a religious ruling calling for the killing of US forces in Iraq.

BOTH THE Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists are happy to cater to the propaganda needs of Western journalists and politicians and pretend that they are willing to continue to uphold the peace treaty with Israel. But even as they make conditional statements to eager Americans and Europeans, they consistently tell their own people that they seek the destruction of Israel and the abrogation of the peace deal between Egypt and Israel.

As the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs' Jonathan D. Halevi documented last week in a report on Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist positions on the future of the peace between Egypt and Israel, while speaking to Westerners in general terms about their willingness to respect the treaty, both groups place numerous conditions on their willingness to maintain it. These conditions make clear that there is no way that they will continue to respect the peace treaty. Indeed, they will use any excuse to justify its abrogation and blame it on Israel. And they will do so at the earliest available opportunity.

It is possible, and perhaps likely, that the US will cut off military aid to Egypt in the wake of Cairo's abrogation of the peace treaty. But it is impossible to imagine that the Obama administration will abide by the US's commitment as the guarantor of the deal and demand that Egypt return Sinai to Israel. Indeed, it is only slightly more likely that a Republican administration would fulfill the US's commitment as guarantor of the peace and demand the return of Sinai to Israel after Egypt's democratically elected Islamist regime finds an excuse to abrogate the peace treaty.

It is important to keep this sorry state of affairs in mind when we assess the prospects for a land-for-peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. This week, following months of intense pressure from the US and the EU, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met face to face for the first time in 16 months. According to Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, who hosted the meeting, the Palestinians submitted their proposal on security and border issues to Israel. The sides are supposed to meet again next week and Israel is expected to present its proposals on these issues.

There are several reasons that these talks are doomed to failure. The most important reason they will fail is that even if they lead to an agreement, no agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is sustainable. Assuming for a moment that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas goes against everything he has said for the past three years and signs a peace deal with Israel in which he promises Israel peace in exchange for Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, this agreement will have little impact on the Palestinians' view of Israel. Abbas today represents no one. His term of office ended three years ago. Hamas won the last Palestinian elections in 2006.

And Hamas's leaders - like their counterparts in the Muslim Brotherhood - make no bones about their intention to destroy Israel. Two weeks ago at a speech in Gaza, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh proclaimed, "We say today explicitly so it cannot be explained otherwise, that the armed resistance and the armed struggle are the path and the strategic choice for liberating the Palestinian land, from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river, and for the expulsion of the invaders and usurpers [Israel]... We won't relinquish one inch of the land of Palestine."

In his visit with his Muslim Brotherhood counterpart, Mohammad Badie, in Cairo this week Haniyeh said, "The Islamic resistance movement of Hamas by definition is a jihadist movement by the Muslim Brotherhood, Palestinian on the surface, Islamic at its core, and its goal is liberation."

WITH HAMAS'S Brotherhood colleagues taking power from Cairo to Casablanca, it is hard to imagine a scenario in which supposedly peaceseeking Fatah will win Palestinian elections. It is in recognition of this fact that Abbas has signed a series of unity agreements with Hamas since May.

So the best case scenario for a peace deal with the Palestinians is that Abbas will sign a deal that Israel will implement by withdrawing from Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and expelling up to a half a million Israeli citizens from their homes. Hamas will then take power and abrogate the treaty, just as its brethren in Cairo are planning to do with their country's peace treaty.

This leads us to the question of what the diplomatic forces from the US, the EU, and the UN who have worked so hard to get the present negotiations started are really after. What are they trying to achieve by pressuring Israel to negotiate a deal that they know will not be respected by the Palestinians?

In the case of some of the parties involved it is fairly obvious that they want to weaken Israel. Take the UN for example. In 2005, Israel withdrew all of its military forces and civilians from Gaza. Rather than reward Israel for giving up land with peace, the Palestinians transformed Gaza into a launching pad for missile attacks against Israel. And in June 2007, Hamas took over the territory.

Despite the fact that Israel is wholly absent from Gaza, and indeed is being attacked from Gaza, no one has called for the Palestinians to give the territory back to Israel. The UN doesn't even recognize that Israel left.

Last September, the UN published yet another report labeling Israel as the occupier of Gaza. And in accordance with this fiction, the UN - along with the EU and the US - continues to hold Israel responsible for Gaza's welfare.

Ironically, Hamas itself denies that Gaza is under Israeli occupation. In an interview with the Ma'an news agency on Tuesday, Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar openly admitted that Gaza is not under occupation. Speaking of Fatah's plan to launch massive demonstrations against Israel, Zahar said, "Against whom could we demonstrate in the Gaza Strip? When Gaza was occupied, that model was applicable."

Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and Fatah can all freely tell the truth about Israel and their commitment to its destruction without fear of any repercussions. They know that the Western powers will not listen to them. They know that they will never have to pay a price for their actions. Indeed, they know they will be rewarded for them.

Since the inauguration of the land-for-peace process between Israel and the PLO 19 years ago, the Palestinians have repeatedly demonstrated their bad faith. Israeli land giveaways have consistently been met with increased Palestinian terrorism. Since 1996, US- and European- trained Palestinian security forces have repeatedly used their guns to kill Israelis. Since 1994, the PA has made it standard practice to enlist terrorists in its US- and European-funded and trained security forces.

The US and Europe have continued to train and arm them despite their bad faith. Despite their continued commitment to Israel's destruction and involvement in terrorism, the US and the EU have continued to demand that Israel fork over more territory. At no point have either the US or the EU seriously considered ending their support for the Palestinians or the demonstrably fictitious land-for-peace formula.

As Israel bows now to still more US and EU pressure and conducts land-for-peace talks with Fatah, our leadership may be seduced by the faint praise they receive from the likes of The Washington Post or even from the Obama administration. But this praise should not turn their heads.

To understand its feckless emptiness, all they need to do is direct their attention to what happened this week in Cairo, as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists secured their absolute control over Egypt's parliament. Specifically, our leaders should note the absence of any voices demanding that Egypt respect the peace treaty with Israel or return Sinai.

The time has come for Israel to admit the truth. Land-for-peace is a confidence game and we are the mark.

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.

Caroline Glick


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Islamism at UCLA Law School

by Jamie Glazov

My guest today is George Aaron, an alumnus and graduate of the 1976 class of the UCLA School of Law. He practices Social Security disability law in Tarzana, California. He is starting a public campaign for alumni to withhold donating money to the UCLA School of Law.

Glazov: George Aaron, thank you for taking the time out to talk about your public campaign.

Tell us about this effort you are starting to convince alumni to withhold donating money to the UCLA School of Law. It is connected to Prof. Khaled Abou El Fadl, a champion of sharia law, presently being a law professor at your law school, yes?

Aaron: That is correct, Jamie. I first found out about Dr. El Fadl when I read his story in a 2003 L.A. Times article. The picture painted was of a "moderate" Muslim legal scholar courageously fighting the jihadis. I bought the puff-piece profile hook, line, and sinker. Later on, I read an article (containing 62 footnotes!) by Daniel Pipes, claiming that the professor was a stealth jihadist. I read other devastating critiques by Pipes regarding the double-talking El Fadl, all meticulously footnoted, such as a 2003 essay entitled "Khaled Abou El Fadl's Disastrous Interview."

G: Tell us some more about Dr. Abou El Fadl and his "scholarship."

A: Around December of 2010, I read an exposé by Pipes on El Fadl that made my blood boil. Entitled "Answering Khaled Abou Fadl," Pipes recounted the totally false smears El Fadl lobbed at his critics Steven Emerson and Robert Spencer (as detailed in "UCLA's Professor of Fantasy" by Cinnamon Stillwell and Eric Golub) and opined that he should be "sacked" for his lies about Emerson and Spencer. I read a withering critique of Dr. El Fadl's arguments by the indomitable Andrew Bostom, a true scholar and walking encyclopedia on Sharia Islam. The last straw was when I read Campus Watch's May 2011 column "Pushing 'Islamaphobia' at UCLA" by Judith Greblya," strongly critical of the deceptions, obfuscations, and meritless claims deployed by El Fadl in a lecture on sharia.

G: What was the upshot of this "last straw"?

A: I wrote to the dean of the law school, pointing out that Prof. El Fadl was assiduously whitewashing and soft-soaping Sharia Islam, that in so doing he [El Fadl] was committing academic/scholastic misfeasance and malfeasance, and that these well-documented improprieties should be rigorously looked into by the law school. I pointed out that the belief system and values undergirding Sharia Islam are the antithesis of American/Western beliefs and fundamental values, and therefore Dr. Fadl's scholarship relentlessly sanitizing sharia was "deceptive and dishonest."

G: How did the dean respond?

A: She responded immediately by e-mail that considerations of "academic freedom" would be of no value "if a faculty member were to be sanctioned every time he or she expresses controversial ideas or makes statements with which people disagree or find fault." I wrote back that I was not upset about El Fadl's championing of a retrograde, totalitarian, and fascistic legal system -- it goes without saying he has every right to put that out in the free marketplace of ideas. But it is one thing for a legal scholar to cause controversy and debate by taking an unpopular position; it is quite another when the scholar obfuscates rather than clarifies a subject of study by engaging in subpar scholarship and outright deception (known by the sharia as taqqiyah, a legal term of art meaning sacred lying or deception in the cause of Islam, which, by the way, has no cognate in any other legal system, secular or religious). She never replied to my second e-mail.

G: What would you posit is the fundamental difference in the worldview of Sharia Islam and Western civilization?

A: Rabbi Hillel famously said that the whole of Jewish Law, the Torah, could be summed up by the Golden Rule. Jesus said essentially the same thing a generation later, citing as authority the Torah ("The Law") and the prophets. From this flows all other Judeo-Christian/Western fundamental beliefs: the universal brotherhood of man ("Love thy neighbor as thyself"), the equality before God of all humankind, a God-given absolute moral code for all peoples (that is where the "ethical" comes into play in the phrase "ethical monotheism"), and freedom of ideas. Also, since both the Jewish and Christian God loves the individual, individual rights, liberties, and freedoms are the natural and logical manifestation of this outlook. That is why Thomas Jefferson used the word "self-evident" in the Declaration of Independence -- to a people brought up on such teachings, it is obviously self-evident that all men are created equal and that they are endowed by the deity with "inalienable" rights.

Sharia Islam teaches that the world is divided between the Muslims and the Kafirs. "Kafir" is a sharia term of art with connotations far worse than the N-word in American usage. Kafirs are infidel subhumans who are predestined for Jahunum (Hell) by Allah, per the Koran and the Sunna. All Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, animists, pagans, and secular humanists are categorized as Kafirs. They are nejis, an Arabic Sharia term of art meaning spiritually (and in Shia Islam, also physically) unclean and filthy. Even "moderate" mainstream Islamic clerics teach this revolting doctrine.

Sharia Islam divides the world into Dar-al-Harb/The Domain of War and Dar al-Islam/The Domain of Islam, Bilad-al-Kufr/Lands of the Kafir and the Ummah/Islamic world community. According to scholars such as Robert Spencer, there is no equivalent of the Golden Rule in Islam. Thus, Sharia Islam espouses what we nowadays call "situational ethics" -- if a course of action helps Islam, the end justifies the means.

According to Bill Warner, the ethical system of Sharia Islam is dualistic, as to how a person is treated depends on his being a Muslim or a Kafir. There is one set of ethics for the Kafir, another for one's fellow Muslim. Deceit, violence, and force are okay to advance Islam, since good is what advances Islam, and evil is whatever resists Islam.

G: What threat do you think Prof. El Fadl represents?

A: First some background. The 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) -- and by the way, when have you heard of an international organization of Christian-majority states promoting a political agenda? -- has been attempting to cancel the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, written by a French-Jewish lawyer, and replace it with the thoroughgoingly intolerant 1990 Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, which is a monstrous anti-human rights manifesto based on mainstream Sharia Islam -- not "radical" Islam, not "fundamentalist" Islam, mind you. Then there is the worldwide "Insult Law," which the OIC is pushing at the U.N., that would perforce end freedom of speech, ideas, and expression -- the wellsprings of Western Enlightenment values -- by implanting thought-control sharia legal norms into international law.

Per Daniel Pipes, Dr. El Fadl has been associated with an effort that is pushing an anti-blasphemy amendment to the U.S. Constitution. According to the Constitutional Rights Foundation website, under "Blasphemy Salman Rushdie," the proposed amendment reads: "The First Amendment shall not be interpreted to protect blasphemous speech. States shall be free to enact anti-blasphemy laws as long as they prohibit offensive speech against all religions." Such an amendment would of course destroy the American Bill of Rights.

G: Why aren't Dr. El Fadl's fellow law professors talking about any of this?

A: The brilliant liberal thinker Paul Berman wrote a thoughtful book that explains this: Flight of the Intellectuals. When it comes to Islamism, the intellectuals have failed Western civilization miserably. Today all too many are tolerant of the intolerant. They stand silent while a wolf in sheep's clothing -- under cover of a pervasive academic climate of political correctness, moral and cultural relativism, and stultifying careerism -- spreads his poisonous piffle touting a Nazi-like (I don't use this descriptive lightly) legal system amongst our law students and trusting laypersons via faux scholarship and smear tactics against those who call him out on his deceptive double-talk and attempt to set the record straight.

To the dean of the UCLA School of Law and to its esteemed law professors, I ask that you speak out on this subject. That you stand up for the values of American and Western civilization, the same values that undergird the common law legal system, and that you confront the lies, deceptions, and doublespeak of Dr. El Fadl on behalf of Sharia Islam, a supremacist medieval-obscurantist belief system that has brought pain, misery, and darkness to the world for 1,400 years and counting (ask the Copts of Egypt).

"Qui tacet consentire" -- Silence is consent, and your silence so far has been deafening.

G: George Aaron, thanks for sharing your time and best of luck in your campaign.

Jamie Glazov


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Iran’s Bluff?

by Kenneth R. Timmerman

Iranian leaders are threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz to international traffic, and on Wednesday the parliament passed a law “forbidding” foreign warships to enter the Persian Gulf.

These moves came as the United States and Europe consider moves that will dramatically increase the economic and diplomatic pressure on Tehran – moves that already have caused the Iranian currency to lose more than half of its value, plunging from 10,500 rials to the U.S. dollar last month to around 18,000 rials on Monday, before recovering to around 15,500 on Wednesday.

On Dec. 31, President Obama signed a Defense Authorization bill that includes comprehensive new sanctions against Bank Markazi, Iran’s Central Bank. Existing sanctions against Iranian commercial banks have forced Iran over the past two years to increasingly take payment for its oil exports – the overwhelming hard currency income for the regime – through Bank Markazi.

While loopholes in the legislation exist that Obama has pledged to exploit, the National Iranian American Council – a group that consistently reflects the concerns and policy goals of the Iranian regime – lobbied hard against it.

Most significant among NIAC (and Tehran’s) worries is the potential that “Tehran could find itself unable to execute oil sales,” a NIAC briefing paper warned.

But that is precisely the reason Congress finally took the step of imposing a worldwide ban on Iran’s Central Bank after years of hand-wringing that such a move would drive up oil prices and impinge upon the president’s ability to conduct foreign policy.

“Without immediate and serious action, the Islamic Republic of Iran will have a nuclear weapons capability in the near future,” Senator Mark Kirk said when he filed the amendment in November. “As the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, it’s quite likely that the Iranian regime would transfer its nuclear weapons to terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas. And we can be sure that an Iranian bomb will set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East – from Saudi Arabia to Egypt. We must act now or face the consequences of a nuclear Iran.”

So what will Iran really do if push comes to shove? And how will the increased tensions affect the price of oil?

Scenario 1: Iran attempts to close the Strait of Hormuz.

The Iranian navy could attempt to use its Russian-made Kilo-class diesel-electric subs and smaller home-made Ghadir-class boats to torpedo ships entering the narrow sea lanes of the Strait, or try a repeat of its 1988 effort to mine the Strait.

Iranian leaders have made many threats recently that this is what they will do, boasting like drunken sailors that closing the Strait is a simple matter they could undertake with no preparation that would devastate world oil markets and exacerbate the international economic downturn.

But most analysts believe such a move would provide an acceptable excuse for the U.S. Navy to unleash its overwhelming firepower against Iran, sinking the majority of Iran’s major surface ships, knocking out its coastal artillery and anti-shipping missile batteries, and perhaps sinking offshore oil platforms, as during Operation Praying Mantis in April 1988.

“If the Islamic Republic wants to commit suicide, then by all means, close the Strait of Hormuz right away,” the Washington Times editorial page remarked recently.

Consequence: oil prices increase sharply for several days, then drop like a rock. Iran loses.

Scenario 2: Iran uses “swarming” attacks against U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf.

When the USS John C. Stennis or another U.S. carrier attempts to re-enter the Persian Gulf (which the U.S. Navy sometimes refers to as the “Arabian” Gulf), Iran could carry out its threat to attack – not using large surface ships or missile boats, but with swarms of small “go-fast” boats armed with Revolutionary Guards troops and shoulder-launched weapons.

Such attacks could have dramatic success. U.S. planners have been worried about this since at least 2002, when they had to halt a war -gaming exercise after Iranian go-fast boats sank the majority of the U.S. fleet.

Since Iran’s naval forces were reorganized in 2007 and responsibility for inside the Persian Gulf handed over to the IRGC Navy, the Rev. Guards have been “adding and upgrading its inventory of high-speed vessels with missile and torpedo capabilities,” writes Navy Commander Joshua C. Himes.

In addition to a new domestic production line for Bladerunner go-fast boats, and a dozen Bazvar 2 stealth flying boats, Iran is now seeking to increase the top speed of existing go-fast boats “from 55 knots to 80-85 knots, along with increasing balance and maneuverability designed to enable cruise-missile and torpedo capabilities,” Cmdr. Himes writes.

A swarming attack that sank a major U.S. warship could have catastrophic consequences, undermining confidence in U.S. naval power and emboldening Iran to attempt a selective blockade of the Strait of Hormuz.

Consequence: oil prices increase dramatically. U.S. loses credibility. Iran wins.

Scenario 3: Iran is bluffing and does nothing

The most likely scenario, based on past experience, is that Iran is hoping that incendiary statements will scare Western countries to walk back sanctions against Iranian oil and against the Central Bank, or at least to not enforce them.

President Obama added fuel to such hopes in his signing statement on New Year’s Eve, when he indicated he didn’t intend to impose the sanctions on Bank Markazi because they infringed on the power of the executive to conduct foreign policy.

The Wall Street Journal has been touting just such a scenario in its reporting and online video analysis. In one clip, Dow Jones Reporter Benoit Faucon, discounted the U.S. and European moves. “In some way, it is a bluff, because nothing practical has happened yet,” he said. “It’s a formidable chess game between Obama and Khamenei.”

In a separate clip, the Journal’s Daniel Strumpf said he believed Iran would back down. Noting that nothing would happen in Europe until the Jan. 31 EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels, he expected the Iranians to back off to preserve the markets, since “the demand is not there for $4 gas.”

If the U.S. and the EU go through with sanctions on the Central Bank, oil prices will bump up and down following the trajectory of Iranian threats. After a few weeks prices will settle back to acceptable levels (around $100/barrel) once it becomes clear that Iran is not about to initiate hostilities.

As the months go by, however, an increasingly cash-strapped Iranian regime could face renewed domestic unrest, especially as Iranians prepare to go to the polls in March to elect a new parliament.

Consequence: Oil prices remain relatively stable; Iran loses.

Nervous Nellies who swallow the bluster from Tehran get hysterical whenever the U.S. has two aircraft carriers inside the Persian Gulf. For some reason, they believe the U.S. Navy would signal its intent to launch an imminent strike on Iran by making such an overt move.

On the contrary, I have always believed that the real opening to a military strike on Iran would be just the opposite: pulling our big warships out of the Persian Gulf into the relative safety of the Arabian Sea or the Indian Ocean.

That is precisely what the U.S. Navy did this week.

Is the U.S. about to attack Iran? If I knew the answer to that question, I couldn’t tell you.

But if I were a U.S. military planner, I would be analyzing events from Tehran’s eyes, as I tried to do in the three scenarios above. And out of an abundance of caution, I would be pulling my assets out of harm’s way – not because I had an intention to attack Iran, but because I believed the Iranian regime might calculate they had to strike first, or die.

Stay tuned.

Kenneth R. Timmerman


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Obama’s Disastrous Islamist Outreach

by Joseph Klein

For three years, Barack Obama’s engagement policy with Islamists, most notably in Iran, has proven dangerous. The Iranian regime exploited Obama’s show of weakness by moving ahead aggressively with its nuclear weapon program. Now the Obama administration is doubling down on its disastrous engagement policy. It is serving as the midwife to the takeover of Egypt by the Muslim Brotherhood and of Afghanistan by the Taliban. And there is a distressing link between the two.

A front page article in the New York Times on January 5th reported what has been obvious since Obama took office. The administration has sought to “forge close ties” with the Muslim Brotherhood – “an organization once viewed as irreconcilably opposed to United States interests.”

Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who is chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and recently joined with the ambassador to Egypt, Anne W. Patterson, for a meeting with top leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party, compared the Obama administration’s outreach to President Ronald Reagan’s arms negotiations with the Soviet Union. “The United States needs to deal with the new reality,” Senator Kerry said. “And it needs to step up its game.”

That is a ridiculous analogy. Reagan negotiated with the Soviet Union, but never wavered from his belief that the Soviet Union was an evil empire whose ideology must be defeated. The Obama administration’s outreach to the Muslim Brotherhood is based on its mistaken belief that it has reformed in a way that brings it much closer to the Western model of a pluralistic party committed to individual freedoms.

To the contrary, when push comes to shove, the Muslim Brotherhood’s dominance of the civil government in Egypt, by virtue of its parliamentary election victories, will mean the imposition of sharia law and jihad against infidels. Nothing the Obama administration is trying to do through its aggressive overtures, including recent high-level meetings with Muslim Brotherhood officials, will change that fact. Jihad is embedded in its history, as evidenced by the violent Islamic jihadist organizations such as Hamas that it spawned. And let’s not forget that it was the Muslim Brotherhood that gave Osama bin Laden’s former deputy and current leader of al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, his start.

Jihad remains in the Muslim Brotherhood’s DNA. Its motto includes the words: “Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.” The Brotherhood’s new offices are emblazoned with its emblem of crossed swords.

The Obama administration’s ostensible rationale for engaging with the Muslim Brotherhood is that it is simply bowing to political reality. Based on the results of Egyptian parliamentary elections so far, the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party looks set to play a dominant role in Egypt’s new parliament and in the civil government to which Obama administration officials are pressing Egypt’s military to hand over the reins of power. But, in fact, the Obama administration is not simply being reactive. It helped bring about what is now unfolding in Egypt by throwing Egyptian president Mubarak under the bus and lending its hand to legitimize the false image of the Muslim Brotherhood as some sort of alternative moderate advocate of peace, pluralistic democracy and freedom for all Egyptians.

At the same time, in order to find a face-saving way out of the quagmire in Afghanistan in which the Obama administration finds itself after escalating the war there while simultaneously announcing a timetable for withdrawal, the administration is pursuing talks with the Taliban. It is using an untrustworthy Muslim Brotherhood connection to do so.

According to a report appearing in the Indian newspaper Hindu, diplomatic sources have said that Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who is regarded as the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, has emerged as a key mediator in secret talks between the U.S. and the Taliban:

Mr. al-Qaradawi helped draw a road map for a deal between the Taliban and the United States, aimed at giving the superpower a face-saving political settlement ahead of its planned withdrawal from Afghanistan which is due to begin in 2014.

In return for the release of prisoners still held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay, the lifting of United Nations sanctions on its leadership and its recognition as a legitimate political group, the Taliban was expected to agree to sever its links to transnational organisations like al-Qaeda, end violence and eventually share power with the Afghan government.

But what can the Taliban negotiators really deliver, even if it were serious in wanting to reach a peaceful settlement? There is no indication that these negotiators are in a position to turn over the Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar and his inner circle, who harbored al Qaeda when the Taliban was in control of Afghanistan. Nor will they be able to diffuse the growing power of the new generation of Taliban commanders ideologically committed to al-Qaeda’s vision.

The Obama administration’s idea of negotiations is to consider releasing Taliban detainees who are likely to return to jihad against U.S. forces without even any commitment reported to date that the Taliban would return the U.S. soldier it kidnapped. The only concrete step the Taliban negotiators have reportedly agreed to undertake in the short term is to set up an office in Qatar for talks.

It’s bad enough that the Obama administration is even considering talks on such terms – a prescription for appeasement. The fact that the Obama administration is foolish enough to trust al-Qaradawi as an intermediary with the Taliban is mind-boggling. Have they not read what this jihadist has been preaching?

The Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader’s call for jihad extends not only to the conquest of Israel and the killing of Jews. It includes the conquest of Europe and beyond.

In 2003 al-Qaradawi issued a fatwa declaring that

Islam will return to Europe as a victorious conqueror after having been expelled twice. This time it will not be conquest by the sword, but by preaching and spreading [Islamic] ideology […] The future belongs to Islam […] The spread of Islam until it conquers the entire world and includes both East and West marks the beginning of the return of the Islamic Caliphate [.]

A 2009 State Department cable, published by WikiLeaks, quoted a sermon by al-Qaradawi in which he condemned Jews for spreading “corruption in the land” and called for “the revenge of Allah” upon them. And he didn’t spare the United States. He condemned the United States for acting “like a god in this world” and cautioned the U.S. and the West that “according to the law of Allah, they should collapse.”

Yet this is the man in whom the Obama administration places its trust to help mediate a peace with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Just as the Obama administration trusts al-Qaradawi, the spiritual guide for the Muslim Brotherhood, to help it escape the mess in Afghanistan, the Obama administration has come to believe in the good intentions of the Muslim Brotherhood itself in how it plans to govern in Egypt.

Interestingly, President Obama himself, during his 2011 Super Bowl Day interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, wanted viewers to know he was concerned “there are strains of their [Muslim Brotherhood] ideology that are anti-U.S.” But he dodged the question whether the Muslim Brotherhood represented a threat to the U.S., saying that they were only “one faction in Egypt” that lacked majority support.

Despite that brief glimmer of Super Bowl Day reality about the Muslim Brotherhood coming from Obama himself, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said just a few days before Obama’s interview that any new Egyptian government “has to include a whole host of important non-secular actors that give Egypt a strong chance to continue to be [a] stable and reliable partner,” a remark most likely directed at U.S. support for the inclusion of the Muslim Brotherhood in any future government.

In February 2011, U.S. director of National Intelligence James Clapper said during a House Intelligence Committee hearing that the Muslim Brotherhood “pursued social ends, a betterment of the political order in Egypt, et cetera….. There is no overarching agenda, particularly in pursuit of violence, at least internationally.” However, his characterization of the Brotherhood as “largely secular” went a bit too far, even for the Obama administration.

In June 2011, well before the recent parliamentary elections, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton explained the Obama administration’s decision to ignore the “anti-U.S.” strains in the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology and engage them in concert with its policy to deal with “peaceful” organizations. She said that “We welcome, therefore, dialogue with those Muslim Brotherhood members who wish to talk with us.”

Now, with the election results pointing towards a possible Muslim Brotherhood majority in the parliament, the Obama administration is throwing caution to the winds and wholeheartedly embracing the Muslim Brotherhood – “anti-U.S. strains” and all. It is willing to accept at face value assurances by Muslim Brotherhood officials that its lawmakers will reach out across the Egyptian political spectrum in order to build a modern democracy committed to the individual freedoms of all Egyptians.

The Obama administration evidently swallows the propaganda put out by the Muslim Brotherhood for the benefit of gullible Western governments and opinion leaders or does not care one way or the other whether it is true. For example, the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party head, Mohamed Mursi, said that while his Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated party uses “Islam as the basis of our party which means that our general framework is Islamic sharia,” they “don’t issue religious rules in individual cases.” Mursi also said that “All political forces and intellectuals in Egypt, regardless of their political and religious allegiances, will take part in writing the constitution.”

These are comforting words to the Obama administration, reinforced further by the Muslim Brotherhood agreement to an 11-clause declaration of principles known as the “Al-Azhar Document around the future of Egypt.” Al-Azhar is Egypt’s 1,000-year-old seat of Islamic scholarship, which Obama referred to as the “beacon of Islamic learning” during the 2009 speech he delivered there to the Muslim world. Muslim Brotherhood members attended Obama’s speech, by the way, at the invitation of the Obama administration.

The Al-Azhar Document is intended to serve as a guiding framework for the constituent assembly that will be in charge of drafting Egypt’s new constitution. This document, which was read on national television on June 20, 2011 by Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam, Shaykh Ahmad al-Tayyib, purportedly commits Egypt’s intellectual, religious and civil political elite to establishing an open democratic society in Egypt that respects the right of “other divine religions’ followers to appeal to their religions in their personal issues.”

But there is a big catch. The Al-Azhar Document’s first clause stipulates that “the modern and democratic state” it has in mind would operate “in accordance with the true Islamic aspects.” It goes on to say that “Islamic jurisprudence is the main source for the legislation.”

True democracy, which respects the freedom of all its citizens, is inherently inconsistent with “Islamic jurisprudence” that is based on Islamist supremacy and sharia law. While the Al-Azhar Document pays lip service to granting some measure of freedom of expression, it does so only within the strict confines of Islamic principles and morals.

The Al-Azhar Document also envisions an expansive role for Al-Azhar itself. It is to be the institution Egyptians must refer to “in order to define the way in which the state relates to religion (taḥdīd ‘alāqat al-dawla bi’l-dīn) and to clarify the foundations of the correct siyāsa shar‘iyya that it is necessary to pursue.”

This will invest the unelected Al-Azhar Imam Shaykh Ahmad al-Tayyib with significant power, since his institution will be arbiter of “the true Islamic aspects” governing Egypt going forward. Secularist writer Salah Elissa argues that “if new laws need the consent of al-Azhar, then that immediately means we are in a religious (not civil) state.” The power of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party in the new parliament will help ensure that al-Azhar’s decisions do not stray too far from the Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamist agenda.

Where does al-Azhar Imam Tayyib stand on core democratic freedoms such as freedom of expression? As one indication, he praised Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s landmark fatwa banning insults to early historical Islamic figures, particularly the first two Muslim caliphs and A’isha, child-wife of Prophet Muhammad.

Indeed, Tayyib admires the Iranian regime and its terrorist proxy Hezbollah. “I hope relations between Iran and the Arab countries will improve, and the good neighbor policy as well as brotherly ties on the one hand and the fight against the common threat against Muslim nations on the other hand will improve these relations,” al-Tayyib said after meeting with Iranian and Hezbollah officials last July.

The Muslim Brotherhood leadership agrees with Tayyib. Kamal al-Halbavi, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, expressed gratitude to the Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei for his support of the Egyptian revolution and said he hoped that Egypt would have a “good government, like the Iranian government, and a good president like Mr. Ahmadinejad, who is very brave.”

The Obama administration is trying to deceive the American people into thinking that Islamism – whether the Taliban or Muslim Brotherhood flavor – is anything other than our ideological enemy. The administration may not be able to stop either the Taliban or the Muslim Brotherhood from eventually taking control of Afghanistan and Egypt, respectively. But actively helping them along, as the administration is doing, recklessly jeopardizes the security of the American people and the cause of freedom everywhere.

Joseph Klein


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The "Confusing" Messages of Mahmoud Abbas

by Khaled Abu Toameh

Many Palestinians are finding it increasingly difficult to understand what Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas really wants. Some say they are even confused because of Abbas's contradictory messages to the Palestinians and the rest of the world.

On the one hand, Abbas has been telling the Palestinians that he has no intention to run for another term. On the other hand, some of his aides and advisors are now saying that Abbas is Fatah's only candidate for president in the next election, slated for next May.

Abbas used to say that he would never strike a reconciliation deal with Hamas unless the Islamist movement ceded control over the Gaza Strip. But in recent months Abbas has been talking to Hamas about reconciliation and unity with Hamas, whose forces staged a violent coup against Fatah in the Gaza Strip in 2007.

Abbas says he has reached understandings with Hamas to "open a new page" in relations between the two parties and end divisions in the Palestinian arena. But despite the talk about reconciliation and unity, Abbas's security forces in the West Bank continue to detain Hamas supporters and activists.

Abbas has repeatedly affirmed his strong opposition to a third intifada against Israel. But this has not stopped him and many of his senior officials from urging Palestinians to prepare for a "popular intifada" against Israel - an uprising similar to the one that erupted in 1987 where Palestinians mostly resorted to throwing stones and firebombs at Israeli soldiers and settlers. In other words, Abbas wants an intifada only against soldiers and settlers because he believes that suicide bombings inside Israel have caused huge damage to the Palestinians.

Earlier this week, Abbas further confused Palestinians when he agreed to direct talks in Jordan between Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and Israeli envoy Yitzhak Molcho under the auspices of the Jordanian monarch and Quartet members - the US, EU, UN and Russia. Until last week, Abbas had been telling the Palestinians that he would never return to direct negotiations with Israel unless the Israeli government froze all construction in the settlements and east Jerusalem and accepted the pre-1967 lines as the basis for a two-state solution.

Abbas's repeated threats to dismantle the Palestinian Authority have further confused the Palestinians. Until recently, Abbas's position was that if the UN Security Council does not approve his application for full membership in the international body, he would either resign or dissolve the Palestinian Authority. His hope was that such a move would seriously embarrass Israel and force it to replace the Palestinian Authority in managing the day-to-day affairs of the Palestinians.

Likewise, many Palestinians are confused about Abbas's real stance on core issues such as the idea of land swaps with Israel and the problem of the refugees. In the past, the Palestinian president was quoted as expressing his opposition to land swaps in a final deal with Israel.

Now, however, some of his negotiators are saying that they don't rule out the idea. And while he has declared that the "right of return" for Palestinian refugees is a "sacred" matter for Palestinians, some of his negotiators have indicated readiness to make far-reaching compromises not only on the issue of the refugees, but also with regards to the future of Jerusalem. Documents leaked by Wikileaks last year provided evidence that Abbas was prepared to make serious concessions to Israel in sharp contrast to his public statements and positions.

Abbas's conflicting messages are one of the main reasons why many Palestinians no longer take him or the Palestinian Authority seriously. Why should Israel or the West take him seriously if his only people find it hard to believe him?

Khaled Abu Toameh


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U.S., E.U. Spearhead Islamic Bid To Criminalize Free Speech

by Soeren Kern

The European Union has offered to host the next meeting of the so-called Istanbul Process, an aggressive effort by Muslim countries to make it an international crime to criticize Islam.

The announcement comes less than one month after the United States hosted its own Istanbul Process conference in Washington, DC.

The Istanbul Process – its explicit aim is to enshrine in international law a global ban on all critical scrutiny of Islam and/or Islamic Sharia law – is being spearheaded by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a bloc of 57 Muslim countries.

Based in Saudi Arabia, the OIC has long pressed the European Union and the United States to impose limits on free speech and expression about Islam.

But the OIC has now redoubled its efforts and is engaged in a determined diplomatic offensive to persuade Western democracies to implement United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) Resolution 16/18, which calls on all countries to combat "intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of … religion and belief." (Analysis of the OIC's war on free speech can be found here and here.)

Resolution 16/18, which was adopted at HRC headquarters in Geneva in March 2011, is widely viewed as a significant step forward in OIC efforts to advance the international legal concept of defaming Islam.

However, the HRC resolution – as well as the OIC-sponsored Resolution 66/167, which was quietly approved by the 193-member UN General Assembly on December 19, 2011 – remains ineffectual as long as it lacks strong support in the West.

The OIC therefore scored a diplomatic coup when the Obama Administration agreed to host a three-day Istanbul Process conference in Washington, DC on December 12-14, 2011. In doing so, the United States gave the OIC the political legitimacy it has been seeking to globalize its initiative to ban criticism of Islam.

Following the Obama Administration's lead, the European Union now wants to get in on the action by hosting the next Istanbul Process summit, tentatively scheduled for July 2012.

Up until now, the European Union has kept the OIC initiative at arms-length. But Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary-General of the OIC, says the EU's offer to host the meeting represents a "qualitative shift in action against the phenomenon of Islamophobia," according to the International Islamic News Agency (IINA), the OIC's official news/propaganda organ.

According to the IINA, "The phenomenon of Islamophobia is found in the West in general, but is growing in European countries in particular and in a manner different than that in the US, which had contributed to drafting Resolution 16/18. The new European position represents the beginning of the shift from their previous reserve over the years over the attempts by the OIC to counter 'defamation of religions' in the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly of the United Nations.

The IINA report continues: "Officials in the Cultural Affairs Department of the OIC said that the European Union's offer to host the third meeting (the first was in Istanbul in July and the second in Washington, DC in December) is considered a promising new possibility of solving this problem. The 'Istanbul Process' will have an added momentum by holding the meeting in Europe, which is more affected by the phenomenon of Islamophobia and hostility towards Islam."

The OIC is especially angry over its inability to silence a growing number of democratically elected politicians in Europe who have voiced concerns over the refusal of Muslim immigrants to integrate into their host countries and the consequent establishment of parallel Islamic societies in many parts of Europe.

According to the IINA, "Ihsanoglu said that the growing role of the extreme right in politics in several European countries has become stronger than the capacity of the Organization [OIC], explaining that the extreme right, who [sic] hates Muslims, became leverage in the hands of politicians. He added that the rise of the extreme right through elections has become an issue that cannot be countered, considering the democratic way in which these extremists reach their positions. He pointed out to the referendum held in Switzerland, as an example, which resulted in suspending the construction of minarets there following a vote by the Swiss people."

In other words, the OIC is now seeking the support of non-elected bureaucrats at the headquarters of the European Union in Brussels to enact pan-European hate speech legislation to limit by fiat what 500 million European citizens – including democratically elected politicians – can and cannot say about Islam.

To be sure, many individual European countries that lack First Amendment protections like those in the United States have already enacted hate speech laws that effectively serve as proxies for the all-encompassing blasphemy legislation the OIC is seeking to impose on the European Union as a whole.

In Austria, for example, an appellate court in December 2011 upheld the politically correct conviction of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, a Viennese housewife and anti-Jihad activist, for "denigrating religious beliefs" after she gave a series of seminars about the dangers of radical Islam. The ruling showed that while Judaism and Christianity can be disparaged with impunity in postmodern multicultural Austria, speaking the truth about Islam is subject to swift and hefty legal penalties.

Also in Austria, Susanne Winter, an Austrian politician and Member of Parliament, was convicted in January 2009 for the "crime" of saying that "in today's system" the Islamic prophet Mohammed would be considered a "child molester," referring to his marriage to Aisha. Winter was also convicted of "incitement" for saying that Austria faces an "Islamic immigration tsunami." Winters was ordered to pay a fine of €24,000 ($31,000), and received a suspended three-month prison sentence.

In Denmark, Lars Hedegaard, the president of the International Free Press Society, was found guilty by a Danish court in May 2011 of "hate speech" for saying in a taped interview that there was a high incidence of child rape and domestic violence in areas dominated by Muslim culture.

Hedegaard's comments, which called attention to the horrific living conditions of millions of Muslim women, violated Denmark's infamous Article 266b of the penal code, a catch-all provision that Danish elites use to enforce politically correct speech codes. Hedegaard has appealed his conviction to the Danish Supreme Court, where the case is now pending.

Also in Denmark, Jesper Langballe, a Danish politician and Member of Parliament, was found guilty of hate speech in December 2010 for saying that honor killings and sexual abuse take place in Muslim families.

Langballe was denied the opportunity to prove his assertions because under Danish law it is immaterial whether a statement is true or false. All that is needed for a conviction is for someone to feel offended. Langballe was summarily sentenced to pay a fine of 5,000 Danish Kroner ($850) or spend ten days in jail.

In Finland, Jussi Kristian Halla-aho, a politician and well-known political commentator, was taken to court in March 2009 on charges of "incitement against an ethnic group" and "breach of the sanctity of religion" for saying that Islam is a religion of pedophilia. A Helsinki court later dropped the charges of blasphemy but ordered Halla-aho to pay a fine of €330 ($450) for disturbing religious worship. The Finnish public prosecutor, incensed at the court's dismissal of the blasphemy charges, appealed the case to the Finnish Supreme Court, where it is now being reviewed.

In France, novelist Michel Houellebecq was taken to court by Islamic authorities in the French cities of Paris and Lyon for calling Islam "the stupidest religion" and for saying the Koran is "badly written." In court, Houellebecq (pronounced Wellbeck) told the judges that although he had never despised Muslims, he did feel contempt for Islam. He was acquitted in October 2002.

Also in France, Brigitte Bardot, the legendary actress turned animal rights crusader, was convicted in June 2008 for "inciting racial hatred" after demanding that Muslims anaesthetize animals before slaughtering them.

In The Netherlands, Geert Wilders – the leader of the Dutch Freedom Party who had denounced the threat to Western values posed by unassimilated Muslim immigrants – was recently acquitted of five charges of inciting religious hatred against Muslims for comments he made that were critical of Islam. The landmark verdict brought to a close a highly-public, two-year legal odyssey.

Also in The Netherlands, Gregorius Nekschot, the pseudonym of a Dutch cartoonist who is a vocal critic of Islamic female circumcision and often mocks Dutch multiculturalism, was arrested at his home in Amsterdam in May 2008 for drawing cartoons deemed offensive to Muslims. Nekschot (which literally means "shot in the neck," a method used, according to the cartoonist, by "fascists and communists to get rid of their opponents") was released after 30 hours of interrogation by Dutch law enforcement officials.

Nekschot was charged for eight cartoons that "attribute negative qualities to certain groups of people," and, as such, are insulting and constitute the crimes of discrimination and hate according to articles 137c and 137d of the Dutch Penal Code.

In an interview with the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant, Nekschot said it was the first time in 800 years in the history of satire in the Netherlands that an artist was put in jail. (That interview has since been removed from the newspaper's website.) Although the case against Nekschot was dismissed in September 2010, he ended his career as a cartoonist on December 31, 2011.

In Italy, the late Oriana Fallaci, a journalist and author, was taken to court for writing that Islam "brings hate instead of love and slavery instead of freedom." In November 2002, a judge in Switzerland, acting on a lawsuit brought by Islamic Center of Geneva, issued an arrest warrant for Fallaci for violations of Article 261 of the Swiss criminal code; the judge asked the Italian government either to prosecute or extradite her. The Italian Justice Ministry rejected this request on the grounds that the Italian Constitution protects freedom of speech.

But in May 2005, the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy (UCOII), linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, filed a lawsuit against Fallaci, charging that "some of the things she said in her book 'The Force of Reason' are offensive to Islam." An Italian judge ordered Fallaci to stand trial in Bergamo on charges of "defaming Islam." Fallaci died of cancer in September 2006, just months after the start of her trial.

Soeren Kern is Senior Fellow for Transatlantic Relations at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group.

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Obama to Shrink Armed Forces

by Rowan Scarborough and Sean Lengell

President Obama went to the Pentagon on Thursday to announce a military strategy that will usher in the largest defense cuts since the Cold War’s end and reduce the active force’s ability to carry out large land wars.

The strategy envisions different ways to deal with aggressors that rely more on special operations and counterterrorism, air and sea power, and building up and training foreign militaries.

If a lengthy, large ground operation is needed as well as an occupation, reserves would be mobilized, officials said.

“As we look beyond the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the end of long-term nation-building with large military footprints, we’ll be able to ensure our security with smaller conventional ground forces,” Mr. Obama said, noting that his briefing at the Pentagon was a first for a president.

In trumpeting the blueprint, “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership,” Mr. Obama said: “Our military will be leaner, but the world must know the United States is going to maintain our military superiority with armed forces that are agile, flexible and ready for the full range of contingencies and threats.”

The strategy, coupled with the fiscal 2013 budget coming next month, will shrink Army and Marine Corps ground forces, delay big-weapon production, and shift the U.S. global focus from Europe to the Middle East and Asia.

The reductions stem directly from a bipartisan budget law the Pentagon says will slash $487 billion in the next 10 years.

Not addressed was the next drama: The military faces another $500 billion in automatic cuts unless Congress reaches a deal this year to head off a process that Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has warned will produce a “hollow” force.

“The U.S. joint force will be smaller, and it will be leaner,” Mr. Panetta said Thursday, justifying the cuts by citing the federal deficit crisis, the end of the Iraq War and the winding down of the Afghanistan conflict.

At their peaks, the wars together required 270,000 American troops.

In a warning to potential enemies, the nation’s highest-ranking military officer pledged that the United States will be able to confront more than one foe.

“We can and will always be able to do more than one thing at a time,” said ArmyGen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “More importantly, wherever we are confronted and in whatever sequence, we will win. This is not a strategy for a military in decline.”

Mr. Panetta and Gen. Dempsey skirted specific questions about whether the military of the future will be able to fight two big wars at once, such as Iraq, from which troops exited last month, and Afghanistan, where forces are due to leave in 2014.

Mr. Panetta raised a more limited scenario: fighting North Korea and, at the same time, confronting Iran over control of the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

Critics say the strategy sends the wrong message to a more belligerent Iran, which in recent weeks threatened to shut down the strait and block a U.S. aircraft carrier from re-entering the Gulf.

Mr. Panetta talked of a force different from one focused on large-scale land wars. He used phrases such a “smaller footprint,” “innovative approach,” “military exercises” and “greater flexibility” to describe how the U.S. will maintain global reach.

“Make no mistake, we will have the capability to confront and defeat more than one adversary at a time,” he said.

Gen. Dempsey called the two-big-war requirement “a bit of an anchor” in trying to forge a force for 21st-century missions that the new strategy envisions as counterterrorism, cyberwarfare and shows of force in the Pacific, where China is emerging as a military power.

The defense chief did not release budget details. But officials have said the active-duty Army, now at 562,400 soldiers, will lose some of its core fighting units, the Brigade Combat Team and as many as 80,000 warriors. The Marine Corps, now at 203,000, may shed 30,000 troops.

The Pentagon’s 16-page strategy guidance lists 10 “primary missions.” What is significant is that fighting two wars at once has been replaced by the less-manpower-, less-hardware-intensive roles of counterterrorism and irregular warfare as the No. 1 priority.

The second listed priority, which replaces the two-war capability, is a complicated list of scenarios. The principal one: Fight a limited land war to defeat an aggressor, and mobilize more forces if needed for a protracted campaign. At the same time, deter a potential aggressor in another part of the world.

“Even when U.S. forces are committed to a large-scale operation in one region, they will be capable of denying the objectives of — or imposing unacceptable costs on — an opportunistic aggressor in a second region,” the strategy says.

The George W. Bush administration, like its predecessors, structured the force for two prolonged wars, envisioning that the military one day might have to defeat a North Korean invasion of the South while countering Iranian aggression against other Persian Gulf states.

Hawkish Republicans quickly criticized the new approach.

“The U.S. still faces the threat of global terrorism,” said Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, who fought in Iran and Afghanistan as a Marine officer. “China continues its rapid militarization. The leadership change in North Korea is creating uncertainty. And Iran showed again this week — after the incident with a U.S. aircraft carrier — that it has no plans of changing course.

“We really need to ask ourselves whether this is the right time for such a significant change in U.S. defense strategy, brought on by such severe and disproportionate budget cuts. For me, the answer is a resounding no.”

Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, commended the strategy.

“Not only does the strategic review clearly articulate the threats we face, but it also shows that simply spending more money on defense does not necessarily make us safer — spending more wisely and effectively does.

“Clearly, we do not have an endless amount of resources, and that should be taken into consideration, but it should not be the driving force behind our national security strategy. As demonstrated by the strategy laid out today, the administration fully understands this fact.”

Lawrence Korb, an analyst at the Center for American Progress, said: “The strategy adjusts to the realities of the post-Iraq era. It adjusts to the threats of the second decade of the 21st century. We now know the [National] Guard and reserves, they are no longer a strategic reserve, they’ll be an operational reserve you can rotate with the other troops.”

Military analyst James Carafano of the Heritage Foundation said: “This strategy is nothing more than a giant rubber stamp for Obama’s budget cuts. The strategy is basically, ‘There are four legs to the armed forces stool. Let’s saw off two of them, the Army and Marines, and stand on what is left.’”

The Pentagon is slated to spend about $650 billion this year.

Senior Pentagon officials said Thursday that the blueprint represents a significant shift at a pivotal time in U.S. military history.

“This is not a haircut,” said Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter.

The military strategists acknowledge that what they are doing is risky.

“We could get this wrong,” said Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, adding that the five-year budget plan can be changed if necessary.

Rowan Scarborough and Sean Lengell


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