obama’s doctrine: war or ignore

obama and putinThe continuation of Putin’s push into Ukraine makes it official.  The Obama Doctrine is to ignore an international crisis or go to war.  There is no in between.  And he’s been clear that he isn’t going to start any new wars.

The recent bipartisan push by Congress to help Ukraine, however, was the latest signal that President Obama’s foreign policy is unraveling and his doctrine of ‘war or ignore’ is making America less safe.  The bill had a huge majority in Congress (378-84 in the House, 98-2 in the Senate) pushing back against a slow and disinterested White House. Co-author and Tennessee Senator Bob Corker (R) said that the bill “allows Congress to speak with one voice in support of the Ukrainian people and against Russian aggression.” What he didn’t say, but didn’t have to, was that U.S. allies are worried that President Obama speaks with his own voice: one that absolves the U.S. of a response to Russian imperialism and aggression.  Allies throughout Eastern and Central Europe are justifiably worried about their futures because the once reliable U.S. is nowhere to be found as President Putin makes his moves.  Allies are worried the new and weaker U.S. wouldn’t be there for them should Putin continue.

President Obama campaigned throughout 2008 on the promise to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. His commitment to end the current wars and not start any new wars was, in and of itself, a political statement, not a national security strategy.  For many Americans, Obama’s political promise was a welcomed pendulum swing back from the days where many believed President Bush’s cowboy diplomacy was too aggressive.  The Bush doctrine was the freedom doctrine.  If democracy seekers anywhere around the world were looking for solidarity then President Bush believed America had a responsibility to help them.  His words were a political promise that a real red line had been drawn.  If opponents crossed it then our friends and enemies knew President Bush would act.

But Obama’s promise of a red line is now viewed very differently.  Like with Syria, Obama’s assurances of consequences for crossing his red line have a very different meaning.  His threat is empty.  And many U.S. enemies, and even some allies, like a U.S. president that walks loudly and carries no stick.

Obama, after all, is a professional community organizer and academic professor.  He is used to organizing protests and giving speeches to audiences that are getting graded on listening to his every word.  As an Illinois State and U.S. Senator, Obama briefly learned that political organizing could produce strong emotions, press releases and news stories.  But Obama has very little experience with evaluating the success of his actions.  A good speech can motivate people and Obama is clearly a very good speech giver.  But in the real world of multilateral diplomacy, Obama’s class room strengths are not strengths at all.  Obama forgets that every country acts according to its own needs and not the global goal of one world, one people.  While other countries may espouse the liberal utopian dream of a global community, it’s usually only to get the richer countries to pay more money for the world’s problems.

The Obama doctrine of ignoring international issues and claiming it’s none of the U.S.’ business is a philosophy that has allowed Russia, Iran and China to step up and take the lead.  And it has created uncertainty around the world.  In Poland, where Biden previously rushed to calm the uncertainties, 59% of the Polish people believe Russia is threatening their national security.  Poland, a close American ally, has doubts about America’s commitment to stopping Russian Imperialism.  In Saudi Arabia, there are concerns that the U.S. will allow Iran both to control Syria and to build a nuclear bomb.  Afraid of being abandoned, the Saudis have made the very dangerous move of trying to replace America’s friendship with Pakistan’s, recently giving the terrorist-haven a $1.5 billion “friendly gift.” The Israeli Defense Minister recently conceded that the Jewish state can no longer rely on the US to deal with Iran. He repeatedly used the word “weakness” to describe the perception of America not just in Israel and Iran but around the world. In Japan, fears of a weak U.S. in the face of Chinese aggression are leading to the first Japanese military buildup since World War II.  In Germany, a country that does not take Hitler comparisons lightly, the Finance Minister said of Putin’s Crimea gambit, “Those are the methods that Hitler has applied in the Sudetenland”—a warning not to Berlin, but to Washington.

The people of Venezuela understand the Poles’, Saudis’, Israelis’ and Japanese fears of not being able to count on the Obama Administration.  And so do the people of the Balkans and Georgia.  Obama’s war or ignore philosophy is causing real fears for the people around the world fighting for greater liberty, human rights and against aggression.  Congress looks worried and needs to take matters into its own hands.obama and putin

silicon valley’s intolerant left

silicon valleySilicon Valley liberals spent millions of dollars funding President Obama’s re-election and have been some of the left’s most ardent supporters of progressive causes.  And they are just getting started.  After helping give America Obamacare, medical marijuana and a feeble foreign policy, the young tech geniuses are now trying to purge conservatives and those who support conservative causes from corporate board rooms.  On the heels of calling for Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich to resign for the liberal sin of disagreeing with their view of gay marriage comes a campaign to pressure Dropbox to drop former Secretary of State Condi Rice from their board.  Rice’s sin, in Silicon Valley’s eyes, is serving as America’s Secretary of State and National Security Advisor to a Republican president.

For decades, the liberal media eviscerated the religious right and other conservatives for their own attacks against liberal social causes.  Over time, the media labeled anyone who didn’t agree with the left’s world view as intolerant.  Progressive journalists were quick to support the Democrats’ meme of their opponents as mean-spirited, bigoted, homophobic or racist. 

But the pendulum has now swung the other way.  Diversity is no longer about differing views.  The new bullies are the left.  Yesterday’s champions of diversity have become today’s intolerants.  Black, gay and Hispanic conservatives are labeled self-haters and considered sell-outs to their communities.  The left sees no place for differing opinions.  In fact, if you have a minority opinion from the majority liberal view then you will be run out.

Silicon Valley’s liberal media allies jumped on board with the Rice boycott almost immediately.  Wired Magazine’s Marcus Wohlsen, a Berkeley, CA resident, wrote this as his lead for the Dropbox announcement: “Condoleezza Rice — Stanford professor, Iraq War architect, alleged warrantless wiretap supporter — is joining the board at the rising tech startup.”  Wohlsen failed to mention that Dr. Rice was the former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State.  Wohlsen’s piece goes on to argue that Rice should be dropped from the board because Americans won’t trust her and therefore the company.  Wohlsen’s assumption that all Americans are Democrats leaves out the possibility that Republicans may not trust corporate America’s liberal board members.  Then there’s liberal Silicon Valley reporter Brian Feldman who laughably argues that Condi’s appointment to Dropbox is in the same category as Twitter not having a female board member and Mozilla hiring an anti-gay homophobe as its CEO. 

We all know that President Obama’s liberal NSC advisor Susan Rice would be perfectly welcome on a corporate board by the progressive scions of Silicon Valley. But that other black woman who made her own way to the top of the State Department and NSC isn’t acceptable to the mob.

Is any more proof needed that liberals are the new intolerants?

who represents us in Qatar?

qatar ambIf you’ve never heard of Susan Ziadeh, you’ve probably never been sentenced to prison in Doha, Qatar. For three years. Without a verdict. On trumped-up charges.

Ziadeh, you see, is the United States Ambassador to Qatar.  She works for the American people, whose taxes pay her salary and whose democratically elected president appointed her.  But instead of representing the interests of her employers, she is yucking it up in Doha with the Qatari elites.

The New York Times has been covering the unfolding tragedy of two U.S. citizens charged by Qatari officials with killing their adopted special needs daughter from Ghana, with the intent to sell her organs and perform medical experiments on her.  The story has received world-wide attention for the bogus accusations made by the fraudulent Qatari legal system.  The evangelical couple from Los Angeles, Matt and Grace Huang, have two other children adopted from Africa. Now in the U.S., those children are without the only parents they have ever known.

You would think the woman in charge of representing American citizens in Qatar would be outraged by the Orwellian trial, which has included manipulated autopsy reports, no medical or forensic evidence, and the total absence of due process.  But the Stalinesque charges and sentencing against a couple that obeyed every State Department law for adopting foreign children hasn’t earned a word of mention from Ambassador Ziadeh.  She has been very busy helping Qatar raise money to build world-class soccer venues for the 2022 Doha World Cup. Like all good ambassadors, she’s done an exemplary job of hosting receptions. No doubt money has been raised, toasts have been made, and good times had.

But Ziadeh is failing to fulfill the minimum requirement of her job: protecting the lives of U.S. citizens in Qatar. The precedent she’s set of subordinating the safety of Americans to the maintenance of smooth public relations bodes poorly for the 8,000 U.S. citizens living in Qatar. It should also worry the Qatari government—the failure of Ziadeh to protect the Huangs against a phony trial and outrageous sentencing could slow the rush of American tourists and investors to the country’s growing economy. If Americans come to feel that Qatar is a country in which their right to protection by the U.S. government is not duly observed, both Qataris and Americans will suffer.

The threat of that precedent is enough to call Ambassador Ziadeh’s job security into question. So is the undue suffering of Matt and Grace Huang, whose unlawful detention is in clear violation of the United Nations Charter on Human Rights. President Obama and Secretary Kerry should recall Ziadeh immediately, and replace her with an ambassador who understands that the Huangs, not the Doha elites, are her employers.

everything with russia is fine…they promise

russiaPresident Obama’s Administration is scrambling to contain Russia’s annexation of Crimea as a once-and-done event.  The Administration that re-set the two countries’ relations and offered missile defense flexibility after Obama’s “last election” is now promising the White House press corps that the Russia that sent military personnel into the Ukraine is not the Russia we deal with on Iran.   

“Senior Administration officials” (code words for “anonymous political operatives spinning reporters”) told the New York Times that despite Putin’s insurgence, Russia is still working just swimmingly with the Obama Administration on Iran’s nuclear issue.  They pinky swear. 

Days later, low and behold, Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post had the very same assessment from National Security Advisor Susan Rice.  In a YouTube video Susan Rice said, “We haven’t seen any evidence to the contrary,” when asked if Moscow will remain cooperative.  I am sure what she actually meant was…other than annexing Crimea, shutting down the free media, ignoring the international community’s demands and vetoing a UN resolution.

DeYoung’s Washington Post story, which appeared on the front page and above the fold, was titled “Nuclear accord unhurt by the crisis: Iran, Syria efforts also on track despite Crimea”.  The New York Times headline said, “West Sees Unity on Iran Despite Crisis in Ukraine”.   

I love how the main stream media already knows that the mess has already been contained.  That Obama team cleaned up the chaos in four days, ya’ll. 

What’s most interesting about the Washington media types falling for the White House spin is that the idea that Syria and Iran are on a successful path is laughable.  Doesn’t “on track” imply that the issues are being handled and we are in a good place?  Syria is a mess.  Assad has made America look incredibly weak, even the Saudis are furious with Obama’s weakness and the killings inside Syria continue.  It’s offensive that any reporter thinks Syria is on track.  It’s completely off track.  And what is on track about Iran?  The Islamic regime hasn’t actually done anything yet.

The political reporter types don’t have the capacity or the patience to cover complicated foreign policy stories.  And any reporter blindly taking what this Administration says on Russia, especially Russia, should be ignored.

the folly of obama’s ‘no war’ doctrine

President Obama’s rationale for not getting involved in conflicts around the world has been a consistent political argument: the American people are tired of war, he says.  In fact, candidate Obama campaigned on the fact that he would end the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and not start any new wars.  His unequivocal promises of ‘no war’ and ‘Americans are tired of international conflicts’, however, are dangerous and expedient political calculations, not national security strategies.  While it may be momentarily popular for a U.S. president to ignore international crises, it is a political scheme that is diminishing America’s power and influence.  

While U.S. political reporters gleefully accept the partisan pendulum swinging back as a natural reaction to the perceived meddling of George Bush, foreign policy experts see the dangers of a White House deciding America’s national security thru political and popular opinions as a real and growing problem.  

President Obama’s own Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, said of Obama, “I never confronted Obama directly over what I (as well as [Hillary] Clinton, [then-CIA Director Leon] Panetta, and others) saw as the president’s determination that the White House tightly control every aspect of national security policy and even operations.  His White House was by far the most centralized and controlling in national security of any I had seen since Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger ruled the roost.”

Last fall, it was the White House that took the lead in making sure the U.S. government didn’t get involved in Ukraine’s power struggle between communism and capitalism.  President Obama purposefully ignored the warning signs when pro-Russian Ukrainian government officials including President Viktor Yanukovych abruptly cancelled a European Union integration pact and lurched toward Vladimir Putin’s Russia.  While outraged students, capitalists and other Ukrainians, who had for years struggled to move Ukraine away from Russia’s control, took to the streets in protests, the Obama team let reliably weak Europeans handle the issue.  Instead of jumping at the opportunity to engage the Ukrainian leaders and people on the merits of capitalism and liberty, President Obama let the socialists argue with the communists as to which direction was best to turn around the battered economy of Ukraine.  Yanukovych accepted a generous aid package from Putin while America stood back and watched.    

In Venezuela, similar unrest is unfolding now.  Years of stagnant growth, government corruption and socialism have finally moved Venezuelans to challenge the status quo and cry out for an alternative form of government.  With tempers boiling over and frustration mounting in a country hostile to America, President Obama should relish the debate unfolding in Venezuela.  The Speech Giver in Chief should be rushing to the discussion.  The State Department should be in over-drive and our diplomats should be organizing.  This is the moment many have waited for in Venezuela. 

But the Obama political philosophy of See No Evil has purposefully missed every world crisis by refusing to read the unfolding events.  Whether it was an issue directly impacting America’s security (Iran and Egypt) or confronting America’s morality (Syria) or challenging capitalism (Ukraine and Venezuela), Obama has willfully squandered the chance to forcefully debate and showcase capitalism and liberty.

The Obama team is so naïve to what robust U.S. action is, they think they have two options in foreign crises: send in U.S. troops or ignore the problem.  The political argument that Americans don’t want another war is a non sequitur.  If you don’t want war then you better be the advocate for diplomacy with muscle.     

It’s why the Hillary Clinton reset on Russian-U.S. relations and President Obama’s cancelling of the eastern European missile defense shield were such pivotal turning points.  She miscalculated her ability to bring Russian leaders to a greater appreciation for our way of life and he acquiesced to Russian demands to alter America’s power.  Their naivety encouraged the Russians to fill the void by asserting and peddling their world view in Syria, with Iran and now in Ukraine.  

When foreigners struggle for their freedoms, they’ve long expected the U.S. government to be the first to stand with them.  It’s more than speaking out via social media, it’s about aggressively wining the debate.  After all, liberty and democracy are morally superior ways of life and President Obama should be looking for opportunities around the world to push for both.

obama must weaken the UN resolutions to meet his standard on iran

President Obama’s Geneva proposal to the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council allowing Iran to enrich some uranium violates previous UN resolutions demanding the Islamic Republic stop “all” uranium enrichment activity.  To avoid a violation of current UN resolutions, the permanent members must ask the entire Security Council to vote to weaken and supersede their previous demands. 

The UN’s four rounds of hard-fought sanctions on Iran and several other resolutions demanding compliance call for a full suspension of all enrichment activities, including research and development, then full verification of that suspension before negotiations on a permanent diplomatic solution begin.  The sequencing was strategic.  It was designed to build international confidence in a secretive country’s deceitful past.

But in Geneva, President Obama scuttled previous work and abandoned skepticism.  He offered Iran diplomatic negotiations without meeting the UN’s demands.  His offer violated current Security Council resolutions by allowing the Islamic Republic to forego full and verified suspension before negotiations even begin.  President Obama caved further to the Iranians by agreeing to a deal that rewarded sanctions relief and other benefits without getting any actions from Iran first.  In trusting the Iranians to stop their secret enrichment activities and come clean to the IAEA inspectors at a later date, Obama shows his naivety. 

Previous UN Security Council demands were clear:

Demands, in this context, that Iran shall suspend all enrichment-related

and reprocessing activities, including research and development, to be verified by the IAEA;

 Expresses the conviction that such suspension as well as full, verified

Iranian compliance with the requirements set out by the IAEA Board of Governors,

would contribute to a diplomatic, negotiated solution that guarantees Iran’s nuclear

programme is for exclusively peaceful purposes, underlines the willingness of the

international community to work positively for such a solution, encourages Iran, in

conforming to the above provisions, to re-engage with the international community and

with the IAEA, and stresses that such engagement will be beneficial to Iran;


President Obama has simultaneously undercut and promoted the UN.  His schizophrenic views have destroyed the credibility of the Security Council by demanding that the global body be used only to not use it himself.  His overall foreign policy is manic and nauseous and highlights his failure to develop a real national security strategy.  Our friends can’t count on us and our enemies don’t fear us.  World leaders recognize that President Obama is winging it in the Middle East, a far cry from his Cairo speech.  Today, his inconsistencies on Syria and Iran serve as dramatic and emotional disappointments from his lofty speeches.     

Candidate Obama ridiculed President Bush for not getting enough international approval for the Iraq war in Resolution 1441; President Obama failed to get Russia behind his Syria policy.  Candidate Obama promised to make the U.S. Ambassador to the UN a cabinet position; President Obama calls UN resolutions hocus-pocus.

What’s said publicly is never actual policy.  It’s like finding out that Ryan Seacrest hates music.  The Obama Doctrine is the first presidential strategy in history that is exclusively about communicating – not implementing – policy.  The Obama Doctrine seems to be “tweet with overwhelming force”.

Obama has created a new world where countries ignore the U.S. without consequence.  It’s so bad that Saudi Arabia doesn’t even want to serve on the Security Council with the U.S. because it might ruin their reputation.  It makes you long for the days when President Bush was clear but roundly ridiculed by Democrats and the media for saying the U.N. was in desperate need of reform.

The world has watched Obama say one thing and do another on Egypt, Libya and Syria.  While supporting human rights in another country is important, fighting for our own safety is crucial.  When it comes to Iran, we must not accept Obama’s inconsistencies and weakness.  We must demand he put aside his incessant self-reflection and personal political calculations.  We can’t afford his trusting of Iran.

hollywood awards are political campaigns

red carpetHollywood awards season has long been a favorite tradition of the Los Angeles media.  Years ago, entertainment insiders looking for votes for their latest project quietly made their pitches to the members of the Academy.  It used to be passé to brag too much or lobby too often.  So instead, executives and publicists would use their influence to muster up a timely media profile for their favorite star, announce a large philanthropic donation to a high-profile charity or diligently work the holiday party circuit conveniently occurring right before nominations are announced. 

But times have changed since those subtle days of quiet lobbying.  Hollywood award campaigns have been on the same trajectory as government elections in how much they have evolved.  This year, studio heads and producers are using tactics from political campaigns like never before.  The Oscar season began when nomination ballots were mailed in December.  Nominations are announced on January 16 but the campaigns have already started.

 After all, Hollywood award marketing is big business.  The New York Times reports awards campaigns cost as much as $100,000.  And while that pales in comparison to the billions spent to re-elect President Obama in 2012 or the millions of dollars spent to win a seat in Congress today, hundreds of campaigns for dozens of awards are delivering tens of millions of dollars to Los Angeles businesses.  And unlike a presidential campaign every four years, the Hollywood political operations happen every year.

Hollywood executives are looking to Washington campaign experts for strategies on winning.  It’s not a coincidence that Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic candidate for President in 2016, attended a Los Angeles awards ceremony to not only raise campaign funds but to lend her star power to current Hollywood award candidates.  Many of the political world’s campaign tactics are now standard operating procedures for entertainment studios and producers:

-Constituent services:  Like in elections for politicians, stars suddenly become accessible to the media and the public around the first of every year.  Celebrities are traveling, doing media interviews, walking the red carpet, attending junkets, shaking hands and posing for pictures all at the same time. 

-Joe the Actor:  From Sandra Bullock sharing her experience Googling herself to Meryl Streep’s boxing moves, the campaigns are putting personality front and center.  The so-called Beer Test – a look at which political candidates are more like regular joes – is now transitioning to Hollywood, with stars being coached to open up with personal stories, tweet daily mundane activities and act like their fans.

-Opposition Research:  There’s nothing new about waging war on your opponents but the widely-reported attack on Lana Del Ray’s Oscar eligibility is a nod to the birther campaign that has hounded President Obama.  It’s been alleged that Academy members are receiving anonymous envelopes with fake news stories claiming Del Ray’s song has been deemed ineligible for the award.  It’s the first time in 10 years that smear campaigns have been launched against a song.

-Battlegrounds:  Much was made of the Obama campaign’s successful Get Out the Vote campaign, particularly compared to Romney’s infamous ORCA project, in winning the so-called battleground states.  As political primaries approach, national media attention focuses on Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.  Last week’s Palm Springs International Film Festival and this week’s Sundance Film Festival are Hollywood’s Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary.  If you can come out of the desert with momentum and pick up speed from the slopes of Park City then you are sure to be noticed by the Academy. 

Hollywood politicos can still learn from Washington’s campaigns, too:

-Don’t Peak too Early:   Hollywood campaigns are short and quick.  Publicists need to figure out how best to maximize a star’s exposure without losing credibility.  Suddenly seeing a star everywhere signals desperation and reminds us we haven’t seen them all year long.  Political campaigns are more thoughtful and lengthier and therefore are more realistic.  Sometimes running a more nuanced yet longer campaign builds deeper support…and a stronger shot at next year’s awards season.

-Top of the Ticket:  Many people vote straight party line from the President down to city council.  Hollywood publicists need to think long and hard about who they are putting forward to lead their awards season campaigns.  Woody Allen’s presence may ruin an accomplished actor’s chance of taking home an award as easily as Martin Scorsese may help an unknown actress win.  Guilt by association is part of campaigning.

-Third-Party Endorsements:  While some entertainment executives understand the power of having someone else speak for you, most Hollywood publicists don’t.  Having a credible voice in the conservative community or in military circles talk glowingly about your candidate gets you more attention and wider support than pitching yourself. 

Election Day for Hollywood is February 25th.  Who is your candidate?

will the Russians be at the Center for American Progress with Ambassador Power?

The left leaning NGO, Center for American Progress, has announced that Ambassador Samantha Power will be in Washington, DC tomorrow to speak to the them about Syria.

Will the Russians be there, too?

Why would Power leave New York and stop negotiating with the Russians on a UN Syria resolution at this crucial stage?

Power has already skipped the emergency UN meeting on Syria after being on the job for only 19 days because she was on vacation in Ireland to attend the Charlie Chaplin Film Festival.  Leaving New York and the UN at this critical phase in the negotiations process sends a terrible message to our friends and allies.

What Power is too naïve to realize is that speaking to liberal intellectuals in Washington, DC instead of working the Russians is no way to get a resolution.

From my personal experience, the Russians always say they aren’t willing to support a U.S. priority.  The Russians told us that for years during the Bush Administration – right before they voted five times for an Iran resolution they claimed to be against.  Power is too new to understand the Russian’s game.  She needs to stay in New York and do her job.  She also needs back up at the UN – and quick.


ambassador samantha power speaks to the press today:

Remarks by Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, at the Security Council Stakeout on Syria, September 5, 2013

Good afternoon.  It’s great to be here. As part of the United States’ ongoing consultations with international partners, allies, and the broader international community, today the U.S. Mission hosted a series of briefings for Member States regarding the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime on August 21st.  Today’s briefings presented our assessment regarding the events of August 21 in the suburbs of Damascus, which overwhelmingly point to one stark conclusion: the Assad regime perpetrated a large-scale and indiscriminate attack against its own people using chemical weapons. The actions of the Assad regime are morally reprehensible and they violate clearly established international norms. The use of chemical weapons is not America’s redline.

As President Obama said yesterday, “This is the world’s red line.” 189 countries, representing 98% of the world’s population, and all 15 members of the UN Security Council, agree that the use of chemical weapons is abhorrent and we have all collectively approved a treaty forbidding their use even when countries are engaged in war. Let me address now an issue on many on your minds. We in the United States agree with the view that – at times like this — the Security Council should live up to its obligations and should act.  That is why for two and a half years we have brought press statements, presidential statements, resolutions, and a whole host of Syria-related concerns to the UN Security Council, each time hoping that our common security and our common humanity might prevail, each time making the case that countries on the Council should be motivated by our shared interest in international peace and security, in protecting civilians, but also in preventing extremism, regional spillover, and chemical weapons use.

Unfortunately, for the past two and a half years, the system devised in 1945 precisely to deal with threats of this nature did not work as it was supposed to.  It has not protected peace and security for the hundreds of Syrian children who were gassed to death on August 21.  It is not protecting the stability of the region.  It is not standing behind now an internationally accepted ban on the use of chemical weapons.  Instead, the system has protected the prerogatives of Russia, the patron of a regime that would brazenly stage the world’s largest chemical weapons attack in a quarter century — while chemical weapons inspectors sent by the United Nations were just across town.  And even in the wake of the flagrant shattering of the international norm against chemical weapons use, Russia continues to hold the Council hostage and shirk its international responsibilities, including as a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention.   What we have learned – what the Syrian people have learned – is that the Security Council the world needs to deal with this crisis is not the Security Council we have.  Nonetheless, as the Secretary General himself has stressed, chemical weapons must “not become a tool of war or terror in the twenty-first century.” It is in our interest – and the interest of all member states of the UN – to respond decisively to this horrific attack.   I am happy now to take your questions.

Reporter: Ambassador Power, what is your response to Russian President Putin’s comment that he would consider, did not exclude, returning to the Security Council if he had definitive proof? And is there any way the Security Council can be relevant, in this, on this issue?

Ambassador Power: Thank you, I have seen Putin’s comments. I think we have to step back a little bit from those comments and again look at this pattern, not only over two and a half years, but even in the last couple months on chemical weapons. In July, in the wake of the G8, when Putin and the rest of the world’s leaders at the G8 had issued a statement condemning chemical weapons use, we and our colleagues sought here at the UN Security Council to enshrine the words in that statement in a Security Council resolution condemning chemical weapons use. Russia rejected this.  I believe that Ambassador Churkin appeared here and said that the Security Council was not the appropriate venue for discussing chemical weapons or condemning chemical weapons. On August 21, when all of us were watching those videos and seeing those children, we tried again in the Security Council to issue just a press statement condemning chemical weapons use, and again Russia blocked the issuance of a mere press statement. Not even identifying responsibility, but just condemning chemical weapons use. There is nothing in the pattern of our interactions with our colleagues in the Security Council, with our Russian colleagues, that would give us any reason to be optimistic, and indeed we have seen nothing in President Putin’s comments that suggest that there is an available path forward at the Security Council.  

Reporter: Thank you very much. Madame Ambassador, now that you have decided that the regime in Syria, the government in Syria is responsible for one of the most heinous crimes of the use of chemical weapons and there are efforts to bomb Syria, how can we envisage a Geneva Conference II to be held? Are you going to sit with these same people who you are accusing of the worst crimes of the 21st century, and most importantly would the opposition sit with them? Is there any chance of Geneva II being realized? And would this government that you are accusing of these crimes honor any agreement, do you have faith that they would honor any agreement? And second question quickly, since you don’t see the 1945 council rules — enough to carry a world consensus, are you going to double your efforts as the United States to reform the Security Council? Thank you.

Ambassador Power: Thank you so much. On your first question, there is no long term solution for Syria that does not entail a political solution. You are right of course to suggest that it would be extremely challenging in the wake of a monstrous gas attack of this nature for the parties to sit down, particularly as you say for the opposition to sit down with the regime. And that is what we found, and that is why the opposition pulled out of preexisting planned talks. And as you know, President Obama has formulated with some of our allies, through consultations with some of our allies, a planned response with regard, again, to this mass causality chemical weapons attack. But again, responding to this flagrant violation of the norm in a military way does not suggest that there is a military solution for this conflict. And that is why consistently the United States with many of our partners have pushed the parties to the table. We’ve used the leverage that we have with some of the opposition groups. We have urged our colleague on Security Council to use the leverage that they have with the regime. And that is what we will continue to do going forward. To suggest that there is a military solution overall, for the conflict in Syria, I think is to invite state failure. And the kind of breakdown and human suffering and regional spillover and set of pernicious consequences that we most fear. Let me just address the issue of the Security Council more generally. And you picked up on my reference to the spirit in which the Security Council was created back in 1945. And there have been occasions, and this is something President Obama made reference to yesterday, in the life of the Security Council, in the history of the Security Council, where paralysis has prevented the council from fulfilling its role. In this case, with regard to this mass casualty chemical weapons use and the risk of further use, the risk as the Secretary General said of this becoming a weapon of war, to stand back would be to endanger not only international peace and security, not only US national security, but we also believe the very international system that we have been working these decades to build. And, on occasions, as we had with Kosovo, as we would have had perhaps in the case of Rwanda, had different proposals been presented, and in this case, we cannot allow the patron of a party to the conflict, the patron of the actor that itself violated this international norm, to act with impunity simply because it has that patronage on the Security Council. That in no way reflects the spirit of the UN charter or the intentions of the founders or the intentions of any of us who come to work every day with the hope of promoting and enforcing international peace and security.

Reporter: The British delegation had submitted a resolution to the P5 calling for some kind of response to the chemical attack. They have not withdrawn that resolution, but they are no longer acting on it. Do you think that anyone else is going to pick up the baton on that or are you going to let it simply die because of the deadlock that you are speaking of?

Ambassador Power: I was present in the meeting where the UK laid down the resolution and everything in that meeting, in word and in body language, suggests that that resolution has no prospect of being adopted by Russia in particular.  And our view, again our considered view, after months of efforts on chemical weapons and after two and a half years on Geneva, on the humanitarian situation, is that there is no viable path forward in this Security Council. Thank you.


Syria: Samantha Power’s Skills Better Suited to Classroom than UN

powerU.S. academics and Upper East Side New Yorkers like to think of the United Nations as a place where foreign ambassadors have intellectual discussions about power and world peace.

Our own president and his representative Samantha Power, too, have a long history of talking philosophically about war, genocide and the international legality of action in a crisis.

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Where was Samantha Power?

power unFor the past several years, President Obama has presided over a U.S. policy on Syria that has made the collective support of the international community a condition of American action. Every answer the President gives on the crisis in Syria includes working through the United Nations. So when the United Nations Security Council called an emergency meeting on Wednesday about the use of chemical weapons inside Syria, it was perplexing that the newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to the UN was nowhere to be found.

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Why Christie and Paul Deserve Our Thanks

Originally published August, 2, 2013 on Fox News Online

A healthy debate is unfolding within the Republican Party on foreign policy and national security. While the national media pretends the same debate isn’t happening on the left, Republicans are openly engaging in an internal debate from the House floor to the editorial pages of our daily newspapers.
In a time of domestic belt-tightening to reign in government deficits topping $16 trillion, many are raising a critical question: can the United States continue to afford its status as a global leader, or can it not afford to lose it.

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Remarks by New US Ambassador to UN Samantha Power

U.S. Mission to the United Nations: Remarks by Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Before the Presentation of Credentials to the UN Secretary General

Ambassador Power: Hello everybody. I’m Samantha Power. I’m totally delighted to be here-so honored, so thrilled to have started work as the U.S. Ambassador to United Nations. As many of you know, I’m going to meet with the Secretary-General so as to present my credentials. I’ve worked with the Secretary-General over the last few years at the White House-worked very effectively with him-and I’m looking very much forward to a close working relationship now that I am up here in New York. Continue reading

Obama Bringing Syrians to the U.S.?

Despite two years of inaction, President Obama has now pledged increased military and humanitarian support for the Syrian rebel forces. After nearly 100,000 casualties, mostly civilian, the administration has finally been moved enough to intervene, going as far as extending the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Syrian Refugees to allow 9,000 undereducated and poverty-stricken Syrians into the U.S. Continue reading

Gannett Getting Dragged Down by Journal News

Gracia Martore, president and CEO of Gannett, probably doesn’t care too much about The Journal News in suburban New York.

Since assuming the position of Gannett CEO in late 2011, Martore went to work reorganizing the then struggling Gannett, launching a campaign to re-brand the age-old company with an aggressive digital strategy.

Martore’s sound leadership has also been rewarded by Wall Street with an increasing stock value – something rare for media properties these days.

During her tenure, however, not every cog of Gannett’s machinery has been on the upswing.  Foremost among the struggling parts is the once-popular suburban newspaper, The Journal News.  The paper’s increasingly liberal activism on a variety of issues, most notably gun control, is probably the reason for its declining readership and shredded reputation. Continue reading