Friday, February 20, 2015

The Real Threat to Europe - Bassam Tawil

by Bassam Tawil

Commentators in Europe voicing opinions on the terrorist attacks at Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket in Paris, reverentially discussed the motivation of the terrorists, but showed distressingly little understanding of the meaning of jihad.
Europe, hedonist and dishonest, is apparently willing to cut a deal with any violent dictator, including the most potentially violent: a nuclear-threshold Iran.
To understand the fate awaiting Europe, it is necessary to listen seriously to what the upper echelons of Islam say to each other about their intentions -- in Arabic. These messages are quite different from those on Western television. What they say to each other is that the mission of Islam is to lead the whole world and eradicate all other religions, as they have been made irrelevant by the Qur'an.
Charlie Hebdo's cover after the attacks illustrates the very weakness exploited by the Islamists. The cover shown Muhammad, with a tear, aligning himself with humanism. To every Muslim on the planet, it shouted France's weakness, its increasing surrender to the Islamist threat, and the growing strength of Islam.
The real threat to Europe does not come from local Muslims who went to fight in the ranks of ISIS. The real threat comes from Muslims already in the enclaves in Europe. Their doctrine appears openly and without reservation, in books and on websites. It is spread in local languages in mosques by the imams in their communities. These communities command immigration; then the forming of enclaves in the host country, then the eventual violent takeover of the host.

The late Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, predicted that Islam would conquer Europe without even firing a shot. To understand and explain the fate awaiting Europe, it is necessary to listen seriously to what the upper echelons of Islam say to each about their own intentions -- in Arabic. These messages are quite different from those on Western television. What they say to one another is that the mission of Islam is to lead the whole world and eradicate all other religions, as they have been made irrelevant by the Qur'an.

Their doctrine appears openly and without reservation in books and on websites. It is spread in local languages in mosques by the imams in their communities throughout Europe. These communities operate according to an ancient Islamic code: They command immigration; then the forming of enclaves in the host country, then the eventual violent takeover of the host.

Once this process is complete, all the Islamic communities will unite to form the Islamic Caliphate. It will have no borders and no other identity. Then there will be Peace. This, they say, was the state of affairs under Muhammad and this will be the state of affairs in the future.

It is markedly apparent to us, however, that the world refuses to listen to what the Islamists are saying. Anyone who dares to issue a warning is called, among other names, an alarmist or a racist.

On the rare occasion when an expert does warn of the coming danger, the global media turn him into an object of scorn and derision. There seems to be less than no wish even to look at Islamist ideology. Al Jazeera, run by the Emir of Qatar to promote radical Islam, has instructed its American division not to use the words "terrorist," "militant," "extremist," "jihad" and "Islamist." Does anyone seriously think they are doing that to promote transparency?

Throughout history, society has disregarded -- and often even persecuted -- any messenger who says things it does not like, such as Giordano Bruno, burned at the stake in 1600 for wounding the world's narcissism by proposing that stars were other suns that could have other planets. Recently, global terrorism expert Steven Emerson, who made the 1994 documentary "Terrorists Amongst Us: Jihad in America," about the dangers the U.S. would face from radical Islam, has been vilified and ridiculed for an exaggerated comment about Birmingham. His apology may have reflected an error about the facts, but his central message was right. It did not negate his warning about the future danger these Muslim enclaves will present to Europe. Paris is not the only city with areas off-limits to police. Every tourist who goes to Marseilles, Köln, Berlin and Frankfurt is warned by local inhabitants about places to be bypassed.

The same is true of Stephen Coughlin, who was a Major in a Military Intelligence unit of the U.S. Army. Asked, as a lawyer, to prepare a report on Islamic sharia law, he delivered, in July 2007, the most meticulous, painstaking, thoroughly-documented report: "To Our Great Detriment": Ignoring What Extremists Say about Jihad." He was promptly fired. He had apparently come up with the "wrong" answer. The U.S. Army, it seems, had expected to hear that sharia law was not much different from the Magna Carta.

Commentators in Europe all had opinions about the terrorist attacks at the Charlie Hebdo office and the kosher supermarket in Paris. They reverentially discussed the motivation of the terrorists, the anti-Muslim atmosphere in Europe and concern over additional global jihad attacks, but showed distressingly little understanding of the meaning of jihad. If jihad is an inner struggle, and the people who practice it are mujahideen, there are a dizzying number of bloodthirsty, cut-throat, knife-wielding men out there waging inner struggle.

There has been collaboration between European governments and terrorist organizations in cynical deals, supposedly to prevent attacks on European soil, writes Bassam Tawil. What will France and Europe receive in return for their stupidity, apart from the perpetually broken promise of "no further attacks"? Pictured above, one of the Kouachi brothers murders a wounded policeman outside the office of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, on 7 January 2014.
Charlie Hebdo's cover after the attack illustrates the very weakness of Europe that is exploited by the Islamists. The cover shows Muhammad, with a tear, aligning himself with European humanism. To every Muslim on the planet, it shouted France's weakness, its increasing surrender to the Islamist threat, and the growing strength of Islam.

The real threat to Europe does not come from local Muslims who went to fight in the ranks of ISIS and have already been returning. The real threat comes from the Muslims already in their enclaves in Europe, who are about to attack their host countries. They have seen that their riots, arson, vandalism and robberies result in frightening away the Westerners, the fire department and the police. Last New Year's Eve alone in France, "only" 940 cars were torched – down, the French Interior Ministry proudly announced, from 1,067 the year before.

This tendency -- either to kill the messenger or scorn him -- also often results in blaming the victim. The Jews must have "done something," the notion goes, for the Nazis to want to exterminate all of them; they "should have fought back," and "it must have been their own fault."

Radical Islamists assure the world that the attacks in Paris on Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket were just a Zionist plot. They claim that the motive for the attack on the kosher supermarket was to convince Jews to immigrate to Israel, to help Benjamin Netanyahu win the upcoming Israeli election. Iran's accomplice, Argentina's President Cristina Fernández Kirchner, tried the same tactic, hinting that the Jews were behind the recent murder of Alberto Nisman, the federal prosecutor who was about to testify how Argentina's leaders covered-up Iran's responsibility for the 1994 bombing of the Jewish community center (AMIA) in Buenos Aires.

There has also been collaboration between European governments and terrorist organizations in cynical deals, supposedly to prevent attacks on European soil. This collusion is most likely the reason France has refused to designate Hezbollah a terrorist organization for so long. It is also most likely the reason Hassan Nasrallah was so ridiculously quick to condemn the terrorist attacks in Paris, despite his relentless support for killing "infidels" and those who "disrespect" Islam. This list includes such international "criminals" as Salman Rushdie for his book, Satanic Verses; Anwar Sadat, who made peace with Israel, and Yasser Arafat for signing the Oslo Accords.

Another suspicious example of "cozy" international relations is the "temporary" EU removal of Hamas from its list of designated terrorist groups, despite it being crystal-clear that Hamas is devastating its own people as well as the Palestinian Authority and Israel, and that it never misses a chance to sabotage any attempt to reach a peace agreement.

What is not clear so far is what France and the rest of Europe will receive in return for their stupidity, apart -- as we keep seeing -- from the perpetually broken promise of "no further attacks."

Europe, hedonist and dishonest, is apparently willing to cut a deal with any violent dictator, including the most potentially violent: a nuclear-threshold Iran.

Today's apologists for terrorist organizations are tomorrow's victims.

Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East.

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

Moral Madness in the Campus War Against Israel - Dr. Richard L. Cravatts

by Dr. Richard L. Cravatts

When the cause is Palestinianism, and the enemy is Israel, no moral compass or rational thought applies and academic progressivism descends into moral madness.

In the campus war against Israel, the all too familiar refrain from anti-Israel activists, many of whom form the loose coalition of groups and individuals spearheading the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, is that their quarrel is only with Israelis and their government’s policies, not with Jews themselves. 

That specious defense has fallen away of late, revealing some caustic and base anti-Semitism, representing a seismic shift in the way that Jews now are being indicted in colleges not just for supporting Israel, but merely for being Jewish.

It was not without some historical irony, then, when student council leaders at Durban University of Technology (DUT) in South Africa in early February floated a proposal that suggested, apparently without shame, that Jewish students should be expelled from the institution, that, as the student body’s secretary, Mqondisi Duma, put it, “We took the decision that Jewish students, especially those who do not support the Palestinian struggle, should deregister.” This is, one would think, a rather shocking sentiment from students who themselves benefited from a world-wide campaign in the 1970s and 1980s to end South Africa’s racist apartheid system.

Also in February, at UCLA, several council members on the USAC Judicial Board, UCLA student government’s highest judicial body, grilled Rachel Beyda, a second-year economics student, when she sought a seat on the board. The focus on her candidacy was not her qualifications for the position (which no one seemed to doubt), but on the fact that she was Jewish and how her “affiliation with Jewish organizations at UCLA . . . might affect her ability to rule fairly on cases in which the Jewish community has a vested interest in the outcome, such as cases related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” as the student newspaper described it.

“Ruling fairly” in this case, of course, meant that she was likely not to support the increasingly virulent anti-Israel campaign on the UCLA campus, so she failed to pass the political litmus test that so-called progressive students see as their default position: namely, being pro-Palestinian.

It was the same thinking that inspired a similarly discriminatory proposal last May by two members of UCLA’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine which attempted to bar Jewish candidates from filling council positions if they had taken trips to Israel subsidized by the Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Committee, or other organizations, which, according to the brazen SJP students, “have openly campaigned against divestment from corporations that profit from Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights.”

Of course, there was no mention in this debate of trips paid for to send students to Israel or the territories on propaganda excursions designed to malign Israel and teach visitors an alternate, anti-Israel narrative. Once again, in addition to trying to stack the deck against the pro-Israel argument, this grotesque and inequitable proposal took as a given that anyone not committed to the anti-Israel Palestinian cause was by default not to be trusted, morally compromised, and unworthy of even having pro-Israel opinions.

Self-identified progressive students on campus are also enthralled by pursing “social justice” on the part of the Palestinians precisely because Third-world victimism parallels the identity politics of the same student groups who fuel the promiscuous BDS resolutions being proposed on campuses around the country.

Thus, African-American student groups frequently rally in support of divestment when they are attracted to the narrative in which Israel is positioned as a racist, apartheid regime that suppresses an indigenous colored people and deprives them of human rights.

And it is similarly manifested in such Orwellian-named groups as the anti-Israel “Queers for Palestine,” whose very name is so ironic—given the treatment that homosexuals receive in the Middle East anywhere except Israel—that it is difficult to believe the group’s own members can keep a straight face while parading with signs in support of the Palestinian cause.

In January, a student group at DePaul University, Feminist Front, produced a short video in which they proclaimed their support for a petition being circulated by DePaul Divests that asked the university to “uphold its Vincentian values by divesting from [companies that profit from] the Israeli occupation of Palestine.” Members of the Feminist Front, who, if they were living in Hamas-controlled Gaza would be subjugated into silence and persecuted for their alternative sexual orientation, have also decided that divestment is “a feminist issue” and “a queer issue.” Why?  Because, they contend, “Israeli forces target queer folks with blackmail . . ,” and because Israeli “methods of occupation historically target women, through violence, kidnapping, and rape.”

These assertions are not only grotesque, counter-factual libels, but a precise inversion of the truth. In fact, Israel is so gay-friendly that its detractors have had to undertake mental contortions in order to put a negative spin on what normally would be seen as a cultural virtue: tolerating alternative sexual lifestyles. Instead, Israel’s academic defamers, such as Sarah Schulman, a professor of humanities at CUNY, who normally would applaud a tolerant state, accuse Israel of what Schulman termed “pinkwashing,” as she put it in a notorious 2011 New York Times op-ed, “a deliberate strategy to conceal the continuing violations of Palestinians’ human rights behind an image of modernity signified by Israeli gay life.”

Nor is the Feminist Front’s assertion that the Israeli occupation is linked to targeting women through rape accurate, either. In fact, the complete opposite is true: among militaries of the world the IDF is noteworthy for the extremely low incidence in its ranks of rape of Arab women.

That finding was brought to light, oddly enough, in a master’s thesis written by a Hebrew University graduate student who actually wished to use these findings to indict the Israeli military, not applaud it. The student, Tal Nitzan, who received a prize from the University’s Shaine Center for the “scholarly” study she wrote, and which the Center eventually published, came to the breathtaking and intellectually perverse conclusion that Israeli soldiers were racist because of the fact that they did not rape Arab women. The “lack of IDF rapes of Palestinian women is designed to serve a political purpose,” Nitzan wrote. “In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it can be seen that the lack of military rape merely strengthens the ethnic boundaries and clarifies the inter-ethnic differences―just as organized military rape would have done.”

Progressive students have decided, in their own "moral" self-righteousness, that the Palestinians and their campaign for self-determination is such a sacred cause that anyone who questions it or speaks for the Israeli point of view is a moral retrograde. To even support Israel’s narrative is to risk being deemed a racist, an imperialist, a tacit supporter of apartheid.

And more than that: now, if you are Jewish and even a student in South Africa—nowhere near or involved in the affairs of Palestinian Arabs and Israelis—if you have not publicly proclaimed your allegiance to the Palestinian cause and denounced the Israeli one, you can be deemed morally unworthy of attending a particular university.

The moral arrogance of the South African student’s proposal is breathtaking, not only because of its grotesque version of the anti-Semitic practice of making any and all Jews responsible for the political actions of Israel; more serious than that, it reveals that the pro-Palestinian movement is so enthralled with the righteousness of its cause that anyone who harbors or expresses other views is considered a pariah, unworthy to even express his or her ideas in the marketplace of ideas.

Supporters of boycotts contend that they have answered the call of solidarity from “Palestinian civil society,” a call issued in July of 2005 to wage a cognitive war against Israel “until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law.”

Students and faculty who support BDS campaigns regularly admit, with pride, that they have responded to this call merely because they were asked, as if it is perfectly normal to respond affirmatively to support a cause which has a blighted history of terror, corruption, social fragmentation, and internecine conflict.

When the American Studies Association, for instance, voted to institute an academic boycott against Israel it gave as its motivation the fact that it was answering the call from Palestinian civil society to advance a BDS campaign, and that, as Curtis Marez, ASA president, disingenuously put it, “one has to start somewhere,” so why not with Israel?

Which Palestinian civil society exactly is it these pro-Palestinian campus activists are recognizing and committing themselves to support?

The civil society of Hamas in Gaza, which degrades and suppresses women, kills gays, and is committed to its genocidal charter which calls for the random murder of Jews wherever they can be found?

A culture which inspires Jew-hatred at an early age, so Palestinian children are inculcated, nearly from birth, with seething, blind, unrelenting, and obsessive hatred of Jews and the ‘Zionist regime’?

Kindergartners who have performed at graduation exercises with blood-soaked hands while toting plastic AK-47s and dedicating their lives to jihad?

Older children recruited to hide explosives on their bodies to transform themselves into shahids―a new generation of kindling for radical Islam's cult of death?

A society in which town squares and summer camps are named after suicide bombers, who have chosen to immolate themselves by murdering Jews in the name of jihad?

Or the essence of the implacable Palestinian movement itself, which has adamantly refused repeated offers for statehood —in 1937, 1947, 1967, and 2000, among other times—and instead has remained unmoved in its demands that only a new Arab state should exist, at the expense of, and in place of, Israel?

Any movement can make a world-wide call for support, but that obviously does not mean that individuals, or groups, have to heed that call without examining the motives and aspirations of the cause. None of these self-righteous moral narcissists who give unqualified support to the Palestinian cause on campus would answer similar calls from the Aryan Brotherhood, Minuteman Project, Ku Klux Klan, or Westboro Baptist Church for support of their various nefarious causes, and would, and do, breathlessly and indignantly denounce these groups for what they are—organizations animated with homophobia, xenophobia, racism, and violence against targeted, maligned groups. But when the cause is Palestinianism, and the enemy is Israel, no moral compass or rational thought seem to apply.

There is no other explanation for why educated, well-intentioned and humane individuals, experiencing paroxysms of moral self-righteousness in which they are compelled to speak out for the perennial victim, can loudly and publicly advocate for a movement that promotes and condones the murder of Jews—who already have created and live in a viable sovereign state—on behalf a group of genocidal enemies of Israel whose tragic condition may well be their own doing, and, at any rate, is the not the sole fault of Israel’s.

That these campus activists are willing, and ready, to sacrifice the Jewish state, and Jewish lives, in the name of social justice and a specious campaign of self-determination by Palestinian Arabs, shows how morally corrupt and deadly the conversation about human rights has become.

Dr. Richard L. Cravatts, PhD, the author of Genocidal Liberalism: The University’s Jihad Against Israel & Jews, is president of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.


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

Seven Problems with John Kerry's Iranian Nuclear Clock - Gary C. Gambill

by Gary C. Gambill

The assumption that Tehran can be made to have second thoughts after beginning a headlong sprint for the bomb flies in the face of everything we know about the Iranian regime.

According to Secretary of State John Kerry, Iran's "breakout time" will be five times longer under a prospective agreement.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has repeatedly pledged that the prospective nuclear agreement being hammered out between the P5+1 world powers and Iran will extend the Islamic Republic's "breakout time" – how quickly it can produce sufficient fissile material for an atomic bomb should it make a rush to build one – from "about two months" to "a minimum of a year."[1] While U.S. officials have been tight-lipped about details of the talks, this seemingly tangible metric is clearly going to be the big selling point when Kerry seeks to win support for an agreement from a skeptical Congress.
Kerry gets his numbers by calculating how long it would take Iran to produce a bomb's worth (around 25 kg) of weapons grade uranium (WGU) given the number and types of centrifuges it currently has installed (18,458 first generation IR-1s and 1008 IR-2s) and operating (around 10,180 IR-1s) at its two enrichment plants,[2] and the amount of under 5% low enriched uranium (LEU) it has on hand to use as feedstock. Cap these variables at whatever levels are needed to lift the other side of the equation to a year, put in place an augmented inspections regime to make sure Iran isn't cheating, and voila … ten months back on the clock.

Well, not exactly. A multitude of "ifs", "ands", and "buts" render Kerry's pledge all but meaningless.

There is No Clock

While nominal breakout time,[3] a simple function of overall enrichment capacity and available feedstock, is convenient shorthand for a country's ability to produce a weapon, it isn't a meaningful threshold in a real-world breakout attempt. Producing one bomb's worth of WGU – what the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) terms a significant quantity (SQ)[4] – wouldn't be much of an achievement, as the Iranians can't put it on a warhead (assuming they've designed one) without first conducting a nuclear test (lest no one believe they've split the atom), while carrying out a test without having stockpiled enough material for at least one weapon would announce their aggressive intentions to the world without simultaneously acquiring a nuclear deterrent. To be sure, an Iranian dash to produce one SQ of WGU would be a proliferation threat, but that doesn't mean it would make sense for the Iranians (unless their objective is to deliberately provoke military intervention).
Nominal breakout time isn't a meaningful threshold in a real-world breakout attempt.
Iran's effective breakout time[5] – to enrich enough WGU to be reasonably certain of ending up with a deployable nuke – depends on how certain the Iranians want to be.

Two bomb-loads of WGU would be sufficient to acquire a modicum of nuclear deterrence only if the test is successful, but that's hardly a sure thing (North Korea had two failed tests in a row, albeit with plutonium bombs). Even three would be a crapshoot given Iran's poor track record of getting things right the first time around in its nuclear program.

This is an important distinction because the Obama administration's public rationale for accepting an inferior deal feeds off of the common misconception that Iran is eight weeks away from a nuclear weapon (almost anything looks better than that). The Iranians are portrayed as too close to the finish line to be pushed or prodded most of the way back. Press too hard, Kerry has suggested, and Iran might "rush towards a nuclear weapon."[6] In fact, it's not too late for the international community to deny Iran a viable chance of succeeding in a future breakout attempt.

Untested "Disablement"

Kerry's post-agreement breakout time calculations assume that Iran does not bring more centrifuges into operation for a whole year after kicking out inspectors and beginning its sprint for a nuke. Dismantling the large majority of Iranian centrifuges that fall outside of the agreed-upon quota could ensure this, but Iran has long insisted that it will never destroy any of them.

A bank of centrifuges at Natanz
Instead, the White House is proposing that excess centrifuges and associated equipment merely be disconnected, removed to IAEA-monitored storage offsite, and disabled in some way that cannot be quickly reversed (but without removing components that would render them permanently inoperable).[7]

Although U.S. nuclear scientists are said to have studied a range of technical measures designed to make the process of reconnecting centrifuge cascades and piping more time-consuming, "disablement" is not an exact science. The only real-world application of such measures thus far was in North Korea, which "was able to reverse many of these steps faster than expected," according to the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS).[8] In the case of Iran, analysts at ISIS were unable to identify even a hypothetical disablement process that would take more than six months to reverse.[9] Considering that the Iranians would be sure to immediately begin training personnel to reverse the disablement steps, there's little reason to be confident that such technical speed bumps can prevent a ramp up of Iranian enrichment capacity for an entire year if excess centrifuges are left intact.

Unknown Inventories

Even a perfectly functioning disablement regime won't suffice unless the international community has an accurate count of Iran's centrifuges, particularly those it possesses beyond the 19,466 installed at its Natanz and Fordow enrichment plants. The latter include around a thousand, non-operating IR-2m centrifuges at Natanz, which have an average enrichment output three to five times greater than the IR-1.[10] Olli Heinonen, the former deputy chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), recently said that Iran could have thousands of additional IR-2m centrifuges, or the components for assembling them, stored outside of these declared facilities.[11]

As Lee Smith has warned,[12] there's little indication that the Obama administration is demanding the kind of invasive inspection regime that would be needed to verify Iran has no appreciable stockpile of undeclared centrifuges. Given the administration's unwillingness to demand full disclosure of past nuclear weapons research,[13] this is unlikely to change.

Limitations of an LEU Cap

Although the Obama administration initially proposed a limit of 1,500 IR-1 centrifuges,[14] it is widely reported to have agreed to let Iran operate somewhere in the neighborhood of 4,000 to 6,500 IR-1 centrifuges under the terms of a prospective agreement, and may yet settle for an even higher number.[15] There are only two ways to produce a nominal breakout time of one year with this many centrifuges running.

The first is to reduce the amount of LEU the Iranians can accumulate at any one time. LEU, as Frank von Hippel and Alex Glaser put it, is essentially "stored enrichment work."[16] Reducing LEU supplies below the roughly 1,000 kg needed to produce one SQ would lengthen nominal breakout time by forcing the Iranians to enrich some quantity of natural uranium all the way up to WGU. According to ISIS calculations, for example, 6,000 IR-1 centrifuges and 500 kg of LEU would correspond to a one-year breakout time.

A many-centrifuges-little-LEU cap requires Iran to continuously surrender material it already possesses.
U.S. officials have proposed achieving this by requiring Iran to either convert the LEU normally produced by its centrifuges into an oxide form (unlikely, as this can be reversed in a matter of months) or have it shipped to Russia,[17] in exchange for specialized fuel rods for its Bushehr power plant that cannot easily be weaponized.[18]
The problem with a many-centrifuges-little-LEU cap is that it requires Iran to continuously surrender or reprocess material it already possesses for its extended breakout time to remain constant. But suppose it simply stopped doing this? If the Iranians were going to attempt a breakout, they would likely begin by "feigning problems in the conversion plant or delays in transporting" the LEU, notes ISIS President David Albright.[19] By the time it would be unmistakably clear to the outside world that a breakout was underway, they would have substantially exceeded whatever LEU cap is established. With a few-centrifuges cap, a "creepout" is impossible, as Iran would have to install more centrifuges to narrow its breakout time, not merely fake an industrial accident.

The Iranians could also stop surrendering LEU, while otherwise abiding by a prospective agreement, as a means of wresting additional concessions from the West, calculating that no one will start a war in response to inaction.

Moreover, having a larger number of centrifuges in operation would make it easier for Iran to build centrifuges in secret and hide illicit procurements for a covert facility,[20] particularly if the Obama administration drops the longstanding P5+1 demand for substantial curbs on centrifuge research and development. Iran has built and tested prototypes of advanced centrifuges with even higher enrichment capacities than the IR-2, most notably the IR-8, with an annual SWU capacity anywhere from seven to 16 times that of the IR-1.[21] Because far fewer are required to produce a given output, advanced centrifuges allow for the construction of smaller, harder-to-detect clandestine enrichment facilities.

Limitations of an SWU Cap

Solid uranium oxide concentrate, also known as yellowcake, is converted to uranium hexafluoride gas at Iran's Isfahan plant.
Unfortunately for the Obama administration, the Iranians have insisted on keeping such a high number of centrifuges in operation that a practical LEU cap alone can't extend Iran's nominal breakout time to a year. In recent months, U.S. officials have warmed to an Iranian proposal to instead cap the net output of its centrifuges, measured in separative work units (SWU). Several prominent NGOs endorsed an SWU cap last year, including the Arms Control Association and the International Crisis Group.[22]

The Iranians initially proposed that the SWU cap be enforced by reducing the rate of spin on the centrifuges. But this process can be quickly reversed.[23]
US officials have instead proposed that the SWU cap be enforced by limiting the amount of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas that is fed into the centrifuges.[24] But this begs the question of how quickly Iran can ramp up production of UF6 once it begins a breakout, and what new, untested disablement regime will be needed to slow this process. Elaborate mechanisms to limit gas supplies simply cannot provide the same degree of confidence as dismantling the centrifuges they feed into.

Wrong Enrichment Plant

However much the limited centrifuge, LEU, and SWU caps the Obama administration has in mind may extend Iran's nominal breakout time, this figure won't mean much in a contested breakout. Iran isn't likely to get very far trying to produce fissile material for a bomb at its main Natanz enrichment facility, where all post-agreement enrichment is to be carried out – the site is too vulnerable to outside air strikes that would likely follow such brazen defiance of the international community.[25]

A contested breakout can only succeed at Iran's smaller Fordow plant, which is buried sufficiently deep underground to likely survive Israeli, perhaps even American, air strikes. This route to the bomb will take longer to achieve than an uncontested breakout at Natanz. Since Iran has pledged to discontinue industrial enrichment at Fordow once an agreement is signed, it will first have to get centrifuges back up and running, and even then its output will be a fraction that of Natanz.

A bird's eye view of Iran's Fordow enrichment facility
According to Albright, a full complement of 3,000 IR-1 centrifuges at Fordow would take about a year to produce a bomb's worth of WGU using only natural uranium, and "significantly" less if a substantial quantity of LEU is available (which, as underscored above, will likely be the case) or if more advanced centrifuges are available for installation (ditto).[26] But time doesn't matter as much when the centrifuges are spinning deep underground.

The more interesting question is how long it takes to restart and ramp up enrichment at Fordow – or at least move centrifuges and other vital equipment inside the subterranean fortress. That is when the process is most vulnerable to outside disruption.

Naturally, the Iranians are adamant that this timeline be as short as possible. They have refused to demolish, strip down, or even close the Fordow bunker, insisting that it remain in operation as "research and development and back-up site for Natanz."[27] After initially insisting that Fordow be shut down completely, the Obama administration has agreed that Iran will merely be required to suspend enrichment and accept unspecified provisions that "constrain the ability to quickly resume enrichment there," in the words of one senior American official.[28]

But the timeline for stage one of a Fordow-centered breakout is difficult to quantify, let alone delimit, reflecting such myriad factors as the number and competency of Iranian scientists and technicians, how much they've drilled, the availability of relevant equipment, etc. – all of which are sure to improve for Iran in the years ahead.

Moreover, Iranian actions during the vulnerable stage of a Fordow breakout aren't likely to be regarded as a clear casus belli by the international community. While this path to the bomb can be readily obstructed when centrifuges are being moved back into the facility, simply moving equipment around in violation of treaty isn't likely to trigger decisive external military intervention. Just to be sure, Iranian clerics could simultaneously summon thousands of women and children to the site to act as human shields. Named after a nearby village known for having the largest martyrdom rate during the Iran-Iraq war,[29] Fordow would be ideally suited for such a stunt.

Although details concerning the status of Fordow remain unresolved,[30] it's clear that the facility will remain operational under a prospective agreement, subject to untested technical provisions to obstruct the rapid resumption of industrial enrichment, and its status as a symbol of Iranian resistance thus formally consecrated.

Time Isn't Everything

Finally, Kerry's breakout time argument – and the Obama administration's Iran counter-proliferation policy as a whole – is predicated on the widespread, but hardly self-evident, assumption that having as much time as possible to stop a future breakout in progress is the touchstone of a "good" agreement.

Kerry may be right that, all else being equal, more "time to act" if Iran reneges and starts racing to enrich WGU is better than less.[31] But how much better? The U.S. and/or Israel won't need more than a few weeks to flatten Iran's enrichment facilities as best they can if it comes to that.

The assumption that Tehran can be made to have second thoughts after beginning a headlong sprint for the bomb flies in the face of everything we know about the Iranian regime.
Of course, military intervention isn't certain to succeed. The problem with a short breakout time, according to the prevailing conventional wisdom, is that it doesn't allow for a peaceful, negotiated restoration of the status quo ante (which everyone agrees is a more reliable fix than bunker busters). "If Iran were to make the decision to make a weapon, military intervention would be the only available response," explains Albright.[32]

Fair enough. But why should we expect a diplomatic resolution to be possible in the midst of a breakout attempt? The assumption that Tehran can be made to have second thoughts after beginning a headlong sprint for the bomb flies in the face of everything we know about the Iranian regime – a product, perhaps, of anti-proliferation specialists accustomed to dealing with mercurial dictators like Moammar Qaddafi and Kim Jong-il.

The challenge is giving the Iranians second thoughts before they begin a breakout. Might not the perception that prompt military intervention will be the only response available to Washington do more to deter an Iranian breakout attempt than the expectation that the international community will have all the time in the world deliberating how to respond and bargaining for Iranian concessions?


Although Kerry has stopped publicly promising a one-year breakout time since negotiators failed to reach an agreement before their self appointed deadline in November, by all accounts it remains a key focus of the U.S.-led negotiating team.[33]

Why this fixation with a number that doesn't mean anything? Because a one-year nominal breakout time "is what they need to have in order to sell the deal to Congress and U.S. allies," according to Gary Samore, White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction during Obama's first term.[34] At this stage in the game, the Obama administration's red lines in the negotiations have more to do with politics at home than with preventing the Islamic Republic from going nuclear.

Although the administration's efforts to frame the Iran nuclear debate as foremost a question of how far from the "finish line" Iran is and will be under a prospective nuclear agreement have been fairly successful thus far (critics of its Iran posture who complain that a year is not enough unwittingly play along), the White House is giving short shrift to a host of other factors critical to thwarting Iran's nuclear ambitions, such as the status of an underground enrichment bunker purpose-built for a contested breakout, the ability of inspectors to fully account for Iranian inventories, and curbs on research and development. At the end of the day, neither Congress nor American allies are likely to be very impressed when the particulars of the impending nuclear accord become known.

Gary C. Gambill is a frequent contributor to The National Post, FPRI E-Notes, The Jerusalem Post, Foreign Policy, and The National Interest. He is a Shillman-Ginsburg fellow at the Middle East Forum and was formerly editor of Middle East Intelligence Bulletin andMideast Monitor.


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Is This the Way to Run a War? - Shoshana Bryen

by Shoshana Bryen

How does a government "get beyond the crisis" without a plan to resolve the crisis?
The Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) is an odd document, not yet debated Congress. Among other points, it prohibits "enduring offensive ground operations," but without defining them.
President Obama seems to want it both ways -- to oppose American participation in large-scale battles in Iraq, but to have the "flexibility" to order them; to prohibit ground operations but to have American troops in place to carry them out.
The administration thus appears to remain without an articulated strategy to prosecute the war IS launched against us, our allies and a broad range of civilian non-combatants.

A Jordanian, 21 Egyptians and 4 Americans – sounds like the start of a bad joke, but it is not.

They, along with thousands of others, have been murdered by the Islamic State (IS, ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh) in the Middle East, and by Boko Haram in Nigeria. The victims are Muslim, Christian (Nigerian Christians, Egyptian Copts beheaded in Libya, plus Yazidis, Chaldeans and 45 members of smaller sects in Iraq burned alive), and others (Japanese hostages and some who professed no religion). They are killed in places where governments have lost control of their territory to bands of increasingly well-armed Islamic radical forces.

There is a war going on in a far part of the world, and increasingly IS finds fellow travelers -- thus far in France, Britain and Denmark -- willing to attack in the West. The U.S. has had citizens killed at home -- kudos to Congress for finally making it possible for the Army to award Purple Hearts to the casualties of the jihadi attack at Ft. Hood -- but a connection to IS is not established.

On the other hand, at the same time, 300 graves in a Jewish cemetery in France were desecrated, and more than 30 homes in Madison, WI were spray-painted with anti-Semitic graffiti.

The Obama administration, which has said it would "degrade and destroy" IS, has put forward two documents to help explain America's strategic posture toward organizations wedded to "violence against unbelievers" and the insufficiently enthusiastic.

First came the "Authorization for the Use of Military Force" (AUMF), then a new "National Security Strategy" (NSS).

But there is more. 

The AUMF is an odd document, not yet debated in Congress. Among other points, it prohibits "enduring offensive ground operations," but without defining them. The language suggests the U.S. would remain committed only to air strikes, training and Special Operations. Ground troops, however, are often essential in warfare across wide-open spaces such as the western Iraqi desert. Kurdish Peshmerga were on the ground in the battle for Kobane, but Kurdish forces are limited and remain in their own areas, and have not been equipped. Beyond them, there are no trained and ready troops except, perhaps, Iranian or Hezbollah, both of which have acknowledged having forces in Iraq. Neither should make Iraqis, or Americans, comfortable, especially in light of Iran's desire to spread extremist Shi'ite, Persian control over the Middle East to restore the Persian Empire.

To complicate matters, the AUMF has broad exceptions to its prohibition on "enduring ground offensive operations." The current 3,000 ground troops in Iraq are explicitly excluded from any new restrictions. In addition, according to at least one report, Special Operations forces; Joint Terminal Attack Controllers, the experts who pinpoint targets for air strikes; and search and rescue personnel can be deployed by the President without returning to Congress for an amended authorization. Together, they could amount to thousands more troops.

Those who believe that an American-led ground war in the Middle East is necessary call the AUMF too rigid and limited; others fear it has the potential for an expanded war, to which they object.

Appearing to weigh in on the side of those who do not want the U.S. committed to large-scale military operations against IS, the NSS counsels "strategic patience." National Security Council Advisor Susan Rice explained, "We are committed to seizing the future that lies beyond the crisis of the day [emphasis added], and pursuing a vision of the world as it can and should be." She added that the U.S. will "look at the world with a long-term perspective, influencing the trajectory of major shifts in the security landscape today in order to secure our national interests in the future."

There is no way to take such pronouncements as "the future that lies beyond the crisis of the day" or "visions" seriously as policy-making tools. How does a government get "beyond the crisis" without a plan to resolve the crisis? Regardless of the "long term perspective," which the administration has committed to paper, the "crisis of the day" appears to be what she is, in fact, talking about. And the "crisis of the day" appears to require ground troops. 

While the administration was saying it had not identified "moderates" to receive American arms, the CIA, it turns out, had trained more than 5,000 Syrian rebels. Maybe they were not really "moderate." That would account for why thousands of them appear to have defected to IS at the end of last year. While others continue to arm and train Syrians, one quarter of the U.S.-approved brigades have since been dropped from the list of "acceptable" militias, and money for others has been cut.

You can trust American troops, though, right? Now, some 4,000 members of the American 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division from Ft. Carson are being dispatched to Kuwait where they will be the first heavy brigade to fight in Iraq if that becomes the Commander in Chief's decision.


Yes, 3,000 already in Iraq and another 4,000 in Kuwait would amount to 7,000 pairs of "boots on the ground." The 3rd Brigade Combat Team, which was deployed to Iraq four times, is equipped with tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles. For more than a year, its soldiers have trained primarily in armored combat skills, applied in ground battles against an opposing army. From a military perspective, this is appropriate as certain combat skills have been degraded or lost in the past decade of mostly small-unit urban warfare or anti-terrorist operations.

But the AUMF specifically prohibited "enduring offensive ground operations."

Keep this in mind because the letter sent by President Obama to lawmakers with the AUMF said, "Local forces, rather than U.S. military forces" should be used for large-scale operations. "The authorization I propose would provide the flexibility to conduct ground combat operations in other, more limited circumstances, such as rescue operations involving U.S. or coalition personnel or the use of special operations forces to take military action against (Islamic State) leadership."

Rescue operations rarely require tanks, and Special Operations never do.

The 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division conducts a fire coordination exercise with Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles at Fort Carson, Colorado, in September 2014. (Image source: 3rd Brigade Combat Team Facebook Page)

President Obama seems to want it both ways -- to oppose American participation in large-scale battles in Iraq but to have the "flexibility" to order them; to prohibit ground operations but to have American troops in place to carry them out.

The administration thus appears to remain without an articulated strategy to prosecute the war IS has launched against us, our allies and a broad range of civilian non-combatants. It remains to be seen whether the President is posing as the sleeping giant of American military might, or whether he is truly on a quest for the "future that lies beyond the crisis of the day" and his "vision of the world as it can and should be."

Shoshana Bryen


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Haaretz: Labor Candidate Encourages Violence - Gil Ronen

by Gil Ronen

'It is permissible to strike people in a struggle for democracy...and worthwhile to be arrested,' Eldad Yaniv is quoted as saying.

Eldad Yaniv
Eldad Yaniv
Yonatan Sindel / Flash 90
Attorney Eldad Yaniv, number 30 on Labor-Hatnua's Knesset list, is quoted by leftist Haaretz as encouraging the use of violence “in the struggle for democracy,” at an election event with voters.

Haaretz's Roi Arad was present at a Labor-Hatnua event in which candidates met voters in a “speed date” style session in a Tel Aviv bar. The voters moved from table to table to speak with the different candidates simultaneously.

A voter named Arik came up to Yaniv's table, reported Arad, and asked him: “Where are our hilltop youth? Where is the 'saison'? Someone needs to leave in a stretcher, we need to see blood.”

The saison is the name of the "hunting season" in which leftists turned over right-wing activists to the British authorities during the British Mandate. 

Arad reports that he expected Yaniv to express reservations, but the candidate surprised him: “It is permissible to strike people in the struggle for democracy,” he said.

"I asked if I had heard correctly, that it is OK to hit people. Eldad Yaniv repeated his words and said – 'It is permissible to strike people, five exclamation marks, and it is worthwhile to get arrested.' He said that before speeches by Ben Gurion, his grandfather, Avram, used to beat up people who were likely to disrupt the event. He asked him – 'grandfather, why did you hit people?', and Grandpa answered, 'We have to hit people so that they do not hit us.'”

Arik was “truly overjoyed” at Yaniv's reply, wrote Arad. In an apparent reference to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Arik said: “Some cheeky nobody comes along and says 'you are not Zionists.' I would put pictures of Ben Gurion and Rabin next to this nobody and ask – who isn't Zionist? They murdered Rabin, a bulldozer should come to Yitzhar at 9 a.m. They should receive an intifada.”

Gil Ronen


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Stanford senate passes Israel divestment measure - Judah Ari Gross

by Judah Ari Gross

Student senators had rejected bid last week, but say ‘hostile environment’ influenced the outcome
Stanford University's undergrad senate approved a measure to divest the institution's holdings in companies that operate in the West Bank, a resolution they had struck down just a week before. (Photo credit: Kazuhisa Otsubo/CC BY 2.0/Flickr)
Stanford University's undergrad senate approved a measure to divest the institution's holdings in companies that operate in the West Bank, a resolution they had struck down just a week before. (Photo credit: Kazuhisa Otsubo/CC BY 2.0/Flickr)

The Undergraduate Senate of Stanford University passed an Israel divestment bill Tuesday that had been defeated last week.

The resolution calls for Stanford University trustees to divest from companies that “violate international humanitarian law by: maintaining illegal infrastructure of the Israeli occupation… facilitating Israel and Egypt’s collective punishment of Palestinian civilians… [and] facilitating state repression against Palestinians by Israeli, Egyptian or Palestinian Authority security forces.” 

On February 11 Stanford students voted on a resolution that called for the university to cease investing in companies that operate out of the West Bank and Gaza. That measure was struck down when it failed to pass the necessary 66 percent of the vote, garnering just 64% with nine votes for, five against and one abstention.

Two student senators requested a motion to reconsider the resolution, saying the anti-divestment bloc had created a hostile environment that prevented them from voting “with clarity,” the group Stanford Out of Occupied Palestine said in a press release.

When that motion was approved and votes were recast Tuesday, the measure to divest from companies with holdings over the Green Line was passed with 10 students voting for the resolution, four against and two abstaining.

The Stanford Out of Occupied Palestine group claims that it is not connected to any international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, and “affirms both Israelis and Palestinians’ rights to life, safety, and self-determination.”

Recent weeks have seen several efforts to pass advance academic and cultural boycott measures against Israel.

Representatives of the University of California, Davis, passed a resolution that encourages its board of trustees to divest university funds from Israel and several other countries.

Last week, the student representative council at the Durban University of Technology in South Africa urged the institution’s management to expel its Jewish students, especially those who don’t support the Palestinian cause, and any student receiving support from Israel.

Earlier this week 100 British artists, actors and writers published a letter in The Guardian pledging and encouraging a cultural boycott of Israel.

Sophomore Ramah Awad, who is involved with the pro-divestment group at Stanford that championed the bill, said that the next step would be “to pressure the Board of Trustees to follow through.”

Judah Ari Gross


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At summit on 'violent extremism' (by nobody in particular) Obama stresses need to placate Muslims - Thomas Lifson

by Thomas Lifson

The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.

Fresh off his op-ed in the Los Angeles Times that spent as much space chronicling the “legitimate grievances” of Muslims as on attacks by Muslims, yesterday President Obama addressed his “Summit on Countering Violent Extremism” (transcript). As the New York Times reports:
The president said it was crucial that such efforts include input from Muslim-Americans, who he said have sometimes felt “unfairly targeted” by government antiterrorism efforts.
 “We have to make sure that abuses stop, are not repeated, that we do not stigmatize entire communities,” Mr. Obama said. “Engagement with communities can’t be a cover for surveillance.”
Ever since the day after 9/11, our leaders have been cautioning us against blaming all Muslims for the acts of terror done in the name of Islam. And the fact is that there have been remarkably few hate crimes against Muslims, to the great credit of the American people. Jews are far more risk of hate crime, in fact.

This disproportionate concern for “unfair target[ing]” and desire to exempt all Islamic institutions from scrutiny rests on the dogmatic assertion that there is absolutely nothing in Islam for infidels non-Muslims to worry about.
Mr. Obama said, “we are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”
This is perhaps the key doctrine of President Obama’s approach to Islam, pretending to speak authoritatively on the nature of Islamic theology. For a man who professes his belief in Jesus Christ as his savior, it is odd to insist that he knows the true nature of Islam so deeply. Others, including Graeme Wood, writing in The Atlantic (no right wing outlet) see it differently.
The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.
Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal.
The sad fact is that Islam is both a religious and a political system, inextricably bound together, and in its pure, original form, is utterly totalitarian and brutal. Anyone who reads the Koran, particularly Suras 9 – 14 can grasp this. Andrew Bostom, notably, has chronicled the application of Islamic doctrine to kuffars (infidels, i.e., the rest of us) throughout the history of Islam, whenever it had the upper hand, militarily.

It is probably true that most Muslims want to live in peace. But that is because they are not applying the original doctrines of Islam as laid down by its prophet. Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, a practicing Muslim, is much more realistic about the need for an Islamic reformation. Unfortunately, he does not receive the same sort of welcome by the Obama administration that CAIR and other extremist groups do.

Thomas Lifson


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