Archive for the ‘Michael Oren’ category

Exclusive Interview – Former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren

July 17, 2015

Exclusive Interview – Former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, Blackfive, July 16, 2015

Why do some in the press want to discredit Oren’s roots?  Possibly because the Ambassador is publicly warning that the Obama Administration is setting a dangerous precedent concerning the Iranian nuclear deal.  As Daniel Silva profoundly wrote in his latest book, The English Spy, “Now the president’s confronted with a world gone mad, and he doesn’t have a clue as to what to do about it.”

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The following interview and book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category on the right side bar.

Former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s latest book Ally is a riveting description of the relationship between Israel and the United States.  Readers get a behind the scenes look at how the Obama Administration has a one sided point of view. Through his numerous notes and direct insight he tells of the struggles Israel has had with the Obama Administration, especially regarding the Iranian nuclear deal.  He warns that Israel is in existential danger, that his only agenda is a reality check regarding this administration’s policies toward Israel. Blackfive.net interviewed him about his book and the Iranian nuclear deal.

He gave an exclusive to Blackfive.net, stating that he only tells those people “who come to work with me about this clip.  I ask them to watch it so that they will understand me.”  The clip (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImtrifoxW4c) is about the Battle of the Bulge with interviews from participants including Oren’s father, Lester Bornstein, a US Army Corps Engineer whose duty was to clear roads and build bridges during World War II.  Yet, in the Ardennes Forest in France on December 16, 1944, Lester along with his friend Jimmy Hill became infantrymen to help fend off the German advance, which had taken the American military off guard.  He and his friend bravely disabled the first German tank in line, forcing a halt in the advance.

Oren, born in America, feels a kinship with America’s culture, principles, and spirit.  He remembers his father telling the family war stories and during his first combat mission in the war, Operation Peace for the Galilee, thought of his father’s experience, wondering “how I would conduct myself under fire.”

Throughout the book Oren emphasizes the closeness he feels with both America and Israel.  Yet, some in the media like Newsweek’s Jonathan Broder attempt to discredit him by writing, “The American-born Oren, who renounced his U.S. citizenship and now serves as a lawmaker in Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition, transforms from a measured historian into a breathless polemicist.” This is anything but the truth. Oren noted, “By Federal law any American who officially served a foreign county had to renounce their US Citizenship. My loyalties to the United States and the Jewish State are mutually validating.”

He wrote in the book how his love for America is filled with gratitude. “From the time that all four of my grandparents arrived on Ellis Island, through the Great Depression, in which they raised my parents, and the farm-bound community in which I grew up, America held out the chance to excel. True, prejudice was prevalent, but so, too, was our ability to fight it. Unreservedly, I referred to Americans as ‘we.’ The United States and Israel, are both democracies, both freedom-loving, and similarly determined to defend their independence. One could be — in fact, should be — a Zionist as well as a patriotic American, because the two countries stood for identical ideals.” Except now Israel is being thrown under the bus with the Iranian nuclear deal.

Why do some in the press want to discredit Oren’s roots?  Possibly because the Ambassador is publicly warning that the Obama Administration is setting a dangerous precedent concerning the Iranian nuclear deal.  As Daniel Silva profoundly wrote in his latest book, The English Spy, “Now the president’s confronted with a world gone mad, and he doesn’t have a clue as to what to do about it.”

Oren noted to blackfive.net about another irrational period in history and compared it to the current situation; “Lets remember one infamous example, when the Nazis pursued their insane ends.  Even during the last days of World War II, as the Allied armies liberated Europe, they diverted precious military resources to exterminating Jews.  The Israeli position is that this Iranian regime is irrational. Unlike Israel, which is in Iran’s backyard, the US is not threatened by the proximity of national annihilation. This is about our survival as a people. It’s about our children and grandchildren. What may look like an academic debate here in America is for us in Israel a matter of life and death.”

Asked if he agrees with the quote from former CIA Director Michael Hayden, who said of Iran, “the enemy of our enemy is still our enemy,” Oren told blackfive.net, that Americans should not forget that Iran “wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, something they have been calling for the last thirty years.  Let’s not forget they also attempted to blow up the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC and assassinate the Saudi Ambassador. Iran and its terrorist groups have killed more Americans than any other terrorist group outside of Al Qaeda.  This does not even include those in the American military who were killed by Iran during the Iraq War.  They are not friends.”

But a true friend, an ally, is defined by Oren as assisting “in saving American lives on and off the battlefield. On an ideological level, an ally is a country that shares America’s values, reflects its founding spirit, and resonates with its people’s beliefs. And an ally stimulates the U.S. economy through trade, technological innovation, and job creation. The two countries I love need to unite on issues vital to both and yet they remain separated ideologically and even strategically. However, on issues of security, anybody in the Israeli military, in the intelligence community, will tell you that security relations between Israel and the United States are better now than probably any other time in the past.”

In the Middle East Israel is America’s staunchest ally. Even though the Obama Administration appears not to recognize this, Americans do. A recent Gallup Poll shows that two out of three Americans sympathize with Israel, with support for Israel in the United States rising, not declining.

Ambassador Oren wrote this book, Ally, to send a clear message, “A friend who stands by his friends on some issues but not others is, in Middle Eastern eyes, not really a friend. In a region famous for its unforgiving sun, any daylight is searing.” Ally is a must read, because it alerts people that Israel faces the greatest challenge they have faced since World War II.

How not to write about Iran

July 2, 2015

How not to write about Iran, The New York Times, Ishaan Tharoor, July 2, 2015

(The NY Times article is a good example of how not to write about Iran. History is important, but Iran’s more recent activities are even more important. That ancient Persia and its Islamic successors engaged in and supported terrorism is important, but that the Islamic Republic of Iran still does is more important. Please see also, Rouhani Threatens Nuclear Breakout. — DM)

In the Western imagination, Iran has long been a kind of bogeyman. It’s the land of hostage crises and headscarves. It was part of the Axis of Evil (whatever that was). Its leaders grouse about defeating Israel, an American ally. Its mullahs, say Iran’s critics, plot terror and continental hegemony.

Supporters of the ongoing talks in Vienna, where Iranian diplomats and their international counterparts are wrangling over a final agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program, are in part hoping to change this overwhelming narrative.

Rapprochement between Iran and the U.S., they argue, would signal a new era for U.S. relations in the Middle East — and, at the very least, put to rest fears of yet another American military escalation in the region.

But whether that changes the actual Western discourse around Iran is another matter. Every society or culture gets stereotyped in some way by others — but Iran, even before the rise of the Islamic Republic in 1979, has been a very conspicuous victim.

That’s in part a consequence of its history. As the inheritor of Persia’s ancient empires, Iran has been the Other — the enemy of the nominal “West” — since classical times and the famous wars with Greek city-states. In the 18th century, some European writers and thinkers popularized the image of a “decadent” and “despotic” Persia as an allegorical device to critique their own societies. A century later, as Europe’s empires gained in power, the Orientalist cliches hardened and served to bolster the West’s own sense of racial and moral superiority.

Even in the present day, many of the old tropes have been trotted out during the nuclear talks. While giving testimony to Congress in 2013, Wendy Sherman, a senior State Department official and lead negotiator with Iran, counseled caution when dealing with the Iranian regime because “deception is in their DNA.” The remarks, which infuriated Tehran, gestured at much older Western perceptions of Iranians as “wily” swindlers who cannot be trusted.

Sherman was hardly alone in conjuring up this stereotype: Those opposed to her efforts have also done the same. An editorial in the Wall Street Journal last year warned against “haggling in a Mideast bazaar” and embarking on a “Persian nuclear carpet ride.” This April, Michael Oren, Israel’s former U.S. ambassador, went on a cringe-worthy ramble about the crafty tricks of Persian rug salesmen.

“The Iranians are not just expert carpet merchants,” Oren wrote, stretching the ungainly metaphor to its frayed, tasseled edges. “They also deal in terror and endangering American allies.”

Other more nuanced assessments fall into similar traps, too. Earlier this week, James Stavridis, a retired U.S. admiral, top NATO official and the dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, painted a picture of the Iranian regime with the broadest brush he could possibly find.

“Tehran’s geopolitical strategy,” he wrote, “is taken directly from the playbooks of the first three Persian empires, which stretched over a thousand years.”

To no great surprise, this view of Iran as a mysterious realm, beholden to its past (and its vast store of carpets), irks some observers.

“Iran is an ancient civilization with a rich culture that definitely has roots in its old history,” Iranian-American journalist Negar Mortazavi tells WorldViews. “But to stereotype modern Iran and Iranians based on what happened thousands of years ago is wrong.”

Mortazavi argues that you would never see such simplistic, overreaching appraisals of American allies: “Do we view today’s Europe through the affairs of the Vikings? No. Do we look at Saudi Arabia through the lens of its old Islamic Empire when it was taking over the world? No.”

Arash Karami, the Iran editor of the Middle East news site Al-Monitor, dismisses the idea “that Iran has imperial ambitions in the Middle East simply because of its history.” He adds that “most Iranians only have a vague understanding” of the long-gone Achaemenid dynasty or the medieval Safavids.

The stereotypes in play seem to support the contention of some hawks that Iran is not a normal, rational state actor. Critics of the Islamic Republic may see nothing wrong with that, but these sorts of characterizations were being made well before the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the collapse of U.S.-Iran ties.

In a write-up published in January 1952, Time magazine named Iran’s democratically-elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh  as “Man of the Year.” The recognition was not particularly flattering. It sneeringly described Iran as “a mountainous land between Baghdad and the Sea of Caviar.” And it went on to attack both Mossadegh’s plan to nationalize Iran’s oil — at the expense of British and American energy interests — and the leader’s character.

Time actually called the Iranian politician “a strange old wizard.”

A year later, the Ivy League buddies of Time’s editors in the C.I.A. helped engineer a coup that ousted Mossadegh, scrapped Iran’s fledgling democracy, and re-installed the country’s monarchy as an American client. Memory of that event still informs the political conversation within Iran, but is rarely recognized in the West.

“In American media, it seems that either those wily Persians are calculating ‘chess masters’ outwitting the well-meaning Westerner,” says Karami, “or they’re bumbling idiots” who resent how “the West rules the Middle East.”

To be sure, there are many negative things that should be said about Iran’s political status quo — where a repressive theocratic government curbs dissent, jails journalists and actively supports armed proxies elsewhere in the Middle East. But you don’t need to start quoting Xenophon or Morier to get there.

“If you’re writing about a country of more than 77 million people,” says Kia Marakechi, news editor at Vanity Fair, “and the metaphors or signifiers you draw on come more from ‘Aladdin’ than a serious understanding of that nation’s politics and culture, you should probably hand the assignment to someone else.”

Oren blasts Iran nuclear deal: It’s not linked to changed Iranian behavior

June 30, 2015

Oren blasts Iran nuclear deal: It’s not linked to changed Iranian behavior, Washington Free Beacon via You Tube, June 29, 2015

 

The Iran scam worsens — Part III, Human rights and support for terrorism

June 22, 2015

The Iran scam worsens — Part  III, Human rights and support for terrorism, Dan Miller’s Blog, June 22, 2015

(The views expressed in this post are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of Warsclerotic or its other editors. — DM)

It is likely that the P5+1 nuke “deal” with Iran will be approved soon. Military and other nuke sites which Iran has not “disclosed” will not be inspected. Nor will Iran’s nuke ties with North Korea — which P5+1 member China seems to be helping, Iran’s massive support for terrorism and abysmal human rights record be considered because they are also deemed unnecessary for “deal” approval. Sanctions against Iran are moribund and will not be revived regardless of whether there is a “deal.” However, a bronze bust of Obama may soon be displayed prominently in Supreme Leader Khamenei’s office and one of Khamenei may soon be displayed proudly in Dear Leader Obama’s office.

Iran fenced in

Iranian support for terrorism

According to the U.S. State Department, The Islamic Republic of Iran continued its sponsorship of terrorism during 2014. The linked article observes,

Iran has increased its efforts to finance and carry out terrorist activities across the world and remains a top nuclear proliferation threat, according to a new State Department assessment. [Emphasis added.]

Iran is funding and arming leading terrorist groups in the Middle East and elsewhere, according to the State Department’s 2014 Country Reports on Terrorism, which thoroughly documents how Tehran continues to act as a leading sponsor terror groups that pose a direct threat to the United States.

The report comes as Western powers work to finalize a nuclear deal with Iran ahead of a self-imposed June 30 deadline, though it is unclear whether the new findings will come up in negotiations.

It seems clear that the new findings will not be considered.

Among many other terrorist organizations, Iran supports the Taliban.

Afghan and Western officials say Tehran has quietly increased its supply of weapons, ammunition and funding to the Taliban, and is now recruiting and training their fighters, posing a new threat to Afghanistan’s fragile security.

Iran’s strategy in backing the Taliban is twofold, these officials say: countering U.S. influence in the region and providing a counterweight to Islamic State’s move into the Taliban’s territory in Afghanistan. [Emphasis added.]

According to James Clapper, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, the intelligence community considers Iran to be the “foremost state sponsor of terrorism.”

The assessment came after criticism from the Senate that the information was omitted in a global threat assessment submitted to Congress [in February of this year.] Initially, Iran and Hezbollah were not included as terror threats in the intelligence community’s report to the Senate in February. [Emphasis added.]

Might the Obama administration have been trying to ignore Iran’s continuing support for terrorist activities because of its fixation on getting a “deal” with Iran in the ongoing P5+1 “negotiations?” Probably, but that was then. Now, it is apparently not a problem to report on Iran’s terrorist activities because they are deemed unworthy of consideration by the P5+1 negotiators. It’s terrible, but so what?

Iran is the world’s biggest sponsor of terrorism. Its tentacles have a hold on Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and the Gaza Strip. Its terrorist operations know no border and its proxies partake in mass killings and war crimes. But as it has been demonstrated time and time again, the West appears unperturbed by all that. It views Iran as a potentially constructive state actor, which, as long as it gets its way, could serve to stabilize the region. [Emphasis added.]

Iran could, of course, “stabilize” the region with its own military and its terror proxies in much the same way that Hitler tried to “stabilize” Europe — by gaining military control and forcing his ideology on subjugated residents. At first, there was some resistance but that was shown to be useless as Britain under Chamberlain gave Hitler Czechoslovakia. Eventually, Britain and later her ally, the United States, became sufficiently upset to intervene militarily.

As noted in an article at Asia Times on Line, the “free world” is unwilling to confront Iranian hegemony:

For differing reasons, the powers of the world have elected to legitimize Iran’s dominant position, hoping to delay but not deter its eventual acquisition of nuclear weapons. Except for Israel and the Sunni Arab states, the world has no desire to confront Iran. Short of an American military strike, which is unthinkable for this administration, there may be little that Washington can do to influence the course of events. Its influence has fallen catastrophically in consequence of a chain of policy.

. . . .

President Obama is not British prime minister Neville Chamberlain selling out to Hitler at Munich in 1938: rather, he is Lord Halifax, that is, Halifax if he had been prime minister in 1938. Unlike the unfortunate Chamberlain, who hoped to buy time for Britain to build warplanes, Halifax liked Hitler, as Obama and his camarilla admire Iran. [Emphasis added.]

The bountiful windfall soon to be given to Iran if the P5+1 “deal” is approved, via a “signing bonus” and other Sanctions relief, will help Iran’s terror sponsorship.

[S]hould the “treaty” with Iran be consummated, this sponsor of global terrorism will receive at least $100 billion in sanctions relief. Not only will this money be used for Assad, but it will bankroll Hezbollah and Hamas with a new generation of rockets and weapons.

For Tehran, money buys weapons, and weapons buy power and influence. President Obama is counting on an accommodative Iran that receives foreign assistance. But is there any reason to embrace this hypothesis? And even if someone does, at what point can the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), or any other relevant body, determine the turnabout in Iran’s nuclear program? How do we know when a genuine peace has arrived? [Emphasis added.]

Iranian leaders have made it clear that dreams of a Persian kingdom dance like sugar plums in their imagination. For that to happen, the money pump cannot run dry. There is a need to support their Houthi surrogates in Yemen; resupply Hamas rockets that were destroyed in the last war with Israel; continue to add to the Hezbollah war machine that is poised to attack Israel; and keep Assad afloat, the mechanism by which control of Lebanon is retained. [Emphasis added.]

Iran’s abysmal human rights record is getting worse

Executions in Iran

According to Iranian Human Rights,

[T]he Iranian regime has executed a prisoner every two hours this month.

“So far in 2015, more than 560 have been executed, and we are just in the first half of the year… What we are witnessing today is not so much different from what ISIS is doing. The difference is that the Iranian authorities do it in a more controlled manner, and represent a country which is a full member of the international community with good diplomatic relations with the West.” — Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, spokesman for Iran Human Rights. [Emphasis added.]

Now the West, with the possibility of a nuclear deal, stands to increase Iran’s diplomatic standing.

According to officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran,

Iran has “the best human rights record” in the Muslim world;[11] that it is not obliged to follow “the West’s interpretation” of human rights;[12] and that the Islamic Republic is a victim of “biased propaganda of enemies” which is “part of a greater plan against the world of Islam“.[13] According to Iranian officials, those who human rights activists say are peaceful political activists being denied due process rights are actually guilty of offenses against the national security of the country,[14] and those protesters claiming Ahmadinejad stole the 2009 election are actually part of a foreign-backed plot to topple Iran’s leaders.[15] [Emphasis added.]

Conclusions

Iran’s abysmal and already worsening records of human rights violations and support for terrorism will likely get even worse as it gets (or gets to keep) the bomb, along with a reward of massive further sanctions relief. None of that is deemed worthy of consideration by the P5+1 “negotiators,” lest Iran decline to sign a deal or lest its feelings be hurt — as they would be were IAEA inspections of “undisclosed” sites be demanded or if any Iranian demands were not met.

Iran and North Korea share not only nuclear weaponization technology; they also share a common contempt for human rights. Yet the North Korea – Iran nuclear nexus (denied by Iran) appears to be of no concern to the P5+1 “negotiators.”

Obama long ago “opened his heart” to the Muslim world.

“To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward based on mutual interest and mutual respect,” Obama declared in his first inaugural address. The underlying assumption was that America’s previous relations with Muslims were characterized by dissention and contempt. More significant, though, was the president’s use of the term “Muslim world,” a rough translation of the Arabic ummah. A concept developed by classical Islam, ummah refers to a community of believers that transcends borders, cultures, and nationalities. Obama not only believed that such a community existed but that he could address and accommodate it.

The novelty of this approach was surpassed only by Obama’s claim that he, personally, represented the bridge between this Muslim world and the West.

ALL of My policies are the best ever

ALL of My policies are the best ever

Obama does deserve some credit: His foreign policies are the most foreign in U.S. history to the security of the United States and of what’s left of the free world. Much the same is true of His domestic policies.

Israeli Ambassador: Obama “Worldview Not in Accord w/Any Israeli Government.”

December 14, 2014

Israeli Ambassador: Obama “Worldview Not in Accord w/Any Israeli Government.” Front Page Magazine, Daniel Greenfield, December 13, 2014

But it certainly is in accord with Iran.

Former ambassador Michael Oren provided a little reminder that the issue isn’t Netanyahu and that Obama’s radical politics would put him at odds with any Israeli government.

This is an administration which makes the racist claim that Jews living in Jerusalem are “settlers”, which funds terrorists and takes their side against Israel.

Michael Oren was the consummate diplomat. He was dignified, thoughtful, articulate, knowledgeable and tactful.

In a dialogue at The Plaza here last week at the annual Scholar-Statesman dinner of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Oren said that “this administration [in Washington] has a worldview that is not in accord with any Israeli government,” not just the current one.

Describing the Obama administration as “ideological” on the Mideast, with the president’s 2009 outreach-to-the-Arab-world Cairo speech as its source, Oren said the White House views east Jerusalem communities like Gilo, for example, as not necessarily part of the Jewish state, a position he said no Israeli government would accept.

(Gilo is over the Green Line but part of the Jerusalem municipality, with a largely Jewish population.)

After the March 17 elections, Israel’s next government “likely will move to the right,” Oren predicted, “and America may be going a different way.”

Though he said the U.S.-Israel relationship is crucial — “we [Washington and Jerusalem] have no choice but to be allies” — he asserted on several occasions that “Israel has to take responsibility for itself.”

Asked by moderator Robert Satloff, the executive director of the Washington Institute, about the West’s negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, Oren first noted that Israel’s “margin for error is exactly zero” on this issue, given Iran’s longstanding threat to destroy the Jewish state.

Then, his voice rising, he said that if you believe that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is indeed the moderate he claims to be, if you believe that Iran has reversed its policy of being the world’s leading exporter of terror, if you believe that its leaders have changed their long pattern of lying about the nuclear program, and if you believe the West is capable of and willing to respond militarily to prevent the production of a nuclear bomb, then yes, you should support the U.S. effort to reach an agreement with Iran.

“But if your children and grandchildren’s’ lives depended on it, you may reach a different conclusion,” he asserted, adding: “We [the Jewish people] have not come back after 2,000 years to disappear.”

And it goes without saying, that if you believe that you’ve chosen to completely ignore everything happening in the world.

I am not Oren’s biggest fan and what he is saying is simply common sense. Obama isn’t just at odds with Netanyahu or with Israel. He’s at odds with the remaining US allies in the Middle East. If Obama is at odds with Muslim allies of the US because he supports Muslim terrorists like the Muslim Brotherhood, it goes without saying that his relationship with Israel will be toxic.