For once, @statedeptspox Jen Psaki and I agree

December 5, 2014

Jen Psaki hashtag

We’ve met Jen Psaki before, when she and her deputy, Marie Harf, became the public faces of “Hashtag Diplomacy,” bringing the conduct of American foreign affairs to an embarrassing new low.

Now, I have to admit, I have some sympathy for Ms. Psaki; it can’t be easy to day after day repeat the fatuous talking points she’s given in defense of the administration’s incompetent foreign policy. And, in fact, the strain may be getting to her; after giving another non-answer to a reporter’s question, she admitted the talking point was ridiculous.

Only she forgot the mic was open:

After Associated Press reporter Matt Lee pressed her to comment on Egypt’s decision to clear former President Hosni Mubarak of murder, Psaki gave one of her typical non-answers read straight from the page:

“Generally, we continue to believe that upholding impartial standards of accountability will advance the political consensus on which Egypt’s long-term stability and economic growth depends,” Psaki said.

Lee was astonished at the response, and took the opportunity to point out that the answer was meaningless.

“Wow, I don’t understand that at all,” Lee said. “What you said says nothing. It’s like saying, ‘We support the right of people to breathe.’”

Psaki declined to give any further comment to reporters during the briefing. However, as the lights dimmed, Psaki was exasperated and told Lee how she really felt, not realizing her microphone was still on.

“That Egypt line is ridiculous,” Psaki said.

Ooops…

Check the Free Beacon for video of this unintentional moment of public candor.

via American Thinker and sodagrrl


Is Russia behind the European anti-fracking demonstrations?

December 2, 2014
Drill, baby, drill!

Drill, baby, drill!

Plunging oil prices are hurting Russia natural-resources-dependent economy, threatening to throw it into recession along with a collapsing ruble. That’s not a good thing to have happen, but especially not when Moscow’s aggressive behavior has brought them into conflict with the West and earned them economic sanctions.

Part of the problem (from the Kremlin’s point of view) is that the hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) technological revolution has lead to a renaissance in US oil production — we’re now one of the largest oil producers in the world, with vast reserves. We even export more than we import. And this revolution has just begun. Other nations are very interested in using fracking to bring down drilling costs, promising a larger supply on the market and concomitantly bringing crude prices down, to almost everyone’s benefit.

Well, everyone except Vladimir Putin, that is. A deep fall in Russian revenues thanks to fracking would threaten his glorious plans, the Russian economy, and maybe the stability of his rule. Consequently, we shouldn’t be surprised when people start to wonder if those anti-fracking demonstrations in Europe aren’t being ginned up in Moscow:

PUNGESTI, Romania — Vlasa Mircia, the mayor of this destitute village in eastern Romania, thought he had struck it rich when the American energy giant Chevron showed up here last year and leased a plot of land he owned for exploratory shale gas drilling.

But the encounter between big business and rural Romania quickly turned into a nightmare. The village became a magnet for activists from across the country opposed to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Violent clashes broke out between the police and protesters. The mayor, one of the few locals who sided openly with Chevron, was run out of town, reviled as a corrupt sellout in what activists presented as a David versus Goliath struggle between impoverished farmers and corporate America.

“I was really shocked,” recalled the mayor, who is now back at his office on Pungesti’s main, in fact only, street. “We never had protesters here and suddenly they were everywhere.”

Pointing to a mysteriously well-financed and well-organized campaign of protest, Romanian officials including the prime minister say that the struggle over fracking in Europe does feature a Goliath, but it is the Russian company Gazprom, not the American Chevron.

Gazprom, a state-controlled energy giant, has a clear interest in preventing countries dependent on Russian natural gas from developing their own alternative supplies of energy, they say, preserving a lucrative market for itself — and a potent foreign policy tool for the Kremlin.

“Everything that has gone wrong is from Gazprom,” Mr. Mircia said.

This belief that Russia is fueling the protests, shared by officials in Lithuania, where Chevron also ran into a wave of unusually fervent protests and then decided to pull out, has not yet been backed up by any clear proof. And Gazprom has denied accusations that it has bankrolled anti-fracking protests. But circumstantial evidence, plus large dollops of Cold War-style suspicion, have added to mounting alarm over covert Russian meddling to block threats to its energy stranglehold on Europe.

Via Power Line, where you can read a healthy reminder that this wouldn’t be new behavior for the Russians, as anyone who remembers the nuclear freeze movement of the 1980s knows.  (Hint: All those innocent no-war types were being played for suckers by the KGB.)

If we had an administration interested in the intelligent development of America’s resources and also undercutting Putin where’s he’s most vulnerable –and hopefully we will in a couple of years– we could do a lot to jump-start our own economy and “encourage” Vlad to settle down by shutting off his money at the tap.

Still, that the Russians feel a need to break out the old KGB playbook shows how worried they are. And that sound you hear is me weeping in sympathy.

No, wait. It’s not. Not at all.

What you hear is me laughing.


Obama Ignored US Embassy’s Warnings On Climate Change Speech

November 23, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Our petulant man-child president strikes again, this time insulting a close ally in order to push his climate-change claptrap. The only word to describe such a performance is “juvenile.”

Originally posted on Watts Up With That?:

US_Embassy_Seal[1]Obama’s Climate Fiasco Drives Aussies Closer To India & China

Barack  Obama defied the advice of his embassy in Canberra to deliver a stinging attack on the Abbott government’s climate policies in Brisbane last weekend. The US embassy, under the leadership of ambassador John Berry, advised the President, through his senior staff, not to couch his climate change comments in a way that would be seen as disobliging to the Abbott government, sources have revealed. Historians of the US-Australia relationship are unable to nominate a case of a visiting president making such a hostile speech for the host government. — Greg Sheridan, The Australian, 23 November 2014

The United States embassy in Canberra advised President Barack Obama not to make the provocative, anti-Abbott speech on climate change which he made at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. That the President acted against the advice of his own embassy reveals a…

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Why an Iran nuclear deal probably won’t happen

November 17, 2014
c

Islamic Bomb

November 24th is the formal deadline for a “nuclear deal” between Iran and the group of nations, lead by the United States, that for some reason doesn’t want a government that sees its role as bringing about the Islamic “End Times” and destroying Israel to get its hands on nuclear weapons.

I know, I know. “Islamophobes.”

Anyway, the assumption has been that the Obama administration is desperate for a deal for several reasons: Obama himself wants his “Nixon to China” moment, something he can’t tout a a rare foreign policy success; the administration wants Iranian cooperation against the even more psycho ISIS and has decided that allowing Iran to get a bomb is the price it will have to pay — the agreement is then a sham cover for this; and perhaps that Obama and his national security team think that Iran having a nuclear weapon is unstoppable (they’ve even bragged about preventing Israel from doing something about it), but that the problem can be managed.

But Michael Ledeen, a sharp observer of the Iranian regime for many years, doesn’t think a deal will happen. He offers several reasons, but here are the two I think most salient:

–On the other hand, we also know that Khamenei does NOT want a deal with the Great Satan, and he has no interest in securing Obama’s legend. He is sick, he may well believe that he has limited time left on this earth, and he doesn’t want his legacy to read: he came to terms with Satan;

–So why would Khamenei make a deal? Answer: he’d make one that plainly humiliated the United States. And what does that look like? Answer: sanctions get nullified, he keeps his nuclear program, and Obama doesn’t get a visa to Iran;…

But he won’t sign, because…

Sanctions are crumbling anyway, and he’s got his nuclear program running along. Nothing happens when he tells the UN inspectors to go away without conducting their inspections. And he doesn’t think Obama will ever do anything seriously mean to him or his country.

I agree; Khamenei and his allies allies are getting everything they want, so what incentive does he have to give up on a project that’s been their dream since Khomeini seized power? Sanctions? Bah. They only hurt the common people, and Khamenei couldn’t care less about them. Besides, the mullahs are doing Allah’s Will. And there is absolutely no chance Barack Obama would ever try to use force to enforce them or stop the program, so… Why not just string us along until he can, again, leave us with egg dripping down our national face? They’ll get us to give them everything, then Tehran will renege at the last second and dare us to do something about it. After testing a bomb to prove their point.

Every president since Reagan has thought he could reach a grand bargain with Iran, but Iran has seen itself as being at war with us since 1979. We’ve only fitfully acknowledged that, even when they’ve been killing our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and launching terror attacks worldwide.

Unless we open our eyes, they’re going to keep playing us for suckers until that lovely bomb is finally in their hands.


Naval officer punished for speaking honestly about China?

November 13, 2014
"A short, sharp war?"

“A short, sharp war?”

(Photo credit: AP)

This seems more like a chain-of-command discipline or “speaking out of turn” issue (in other words, don’t publicly contradict your bosses), but it is worrisome to think that Captain James Fannell may have been punished for holding an unpopular view of the threat from China:

A senior Navy intelligence leader whose provocative comments this year about Chinese bellicosity stirred an international controversy has been shelved in the wake of an investigation into his conduct, Navy Times has learned.

Capt. James Fanell, the director of intelligence and information operations at U.S. Pacific Fleet, has been removed from that position by PACFLT boss Adm. Harry Harris and reassigned within the command, Navy officials confirmed.

What did Captain Fannell say that landed him in hot water? Speaking at a naval conference earlier this year, he voiced his opinion that China was preparing for “a short, sharp war with Japan,” one that  would inevitably involve us:

“[We believe] the [People’s Liberation Army] has been given the new task to be able to conduct a short, sharp war to destroy Japanese forces in the East China Sea following with what can only be expected [as] a seizure of the Senkakus or even southern Ryukyu [islands],” Fanell was quoted as saying.

Fanell has also stated that China is at the center of virtually every maritime territorial dispute in the Asia-Pacific and that the Chinese were engaging in a blatant land-grab of islands that would enhance their exclusive economic rights to fishing and natural resources.

“I do not know how Chinese intentions could be more transparent,” he said, adding that when Beijing described its activities as the “protection of maritime rights,” this was really “a Chinese euphemism for the coerced seizure of coastal rights of China’s neighbors,” the Financial Times reported.

Fanell’s views have supporters inside naval intelligence, and he has become a high-profile spokesman for a more alarmist view of the rise of China than those espoused by Navy senior leadership, an intelligence source who spoke to Navy Times said. Fanell’s articles on China have been published by Hoover Digest, Naval Intelligence Professionals Quarterly and the U. S. Naval Institute’s Proceedings.

Trouble is, this time his remarks placed senior officers on the spot with China, at a time when the US Navy is trying to build better relations with its Chinese counterparts, part of the Obama administration’s Asia policy. Army Chief of Staff General Odierno, for example, was peppered with questions from journalists in China and had to disavow Fannell’s remarks. I’m sure he wasn’t happy. One hopes this is a case of an officer being reprimanded for a lack of command discipline, rather than for speaking uncomfortable but honest opinions his superiors don’t wish to hear.

That doesn’t mean he was wrong, however. Even if Captain Fannell overstates Chinese intentions, the thrust of their rearmament, including their naval buildup, is clear: they want to displace the United States as the preeminent power in the Western Pacific and bring the nations to its east and south, including its old foe Japan, into Beijing’s sphere of influence. Whether this involves a shooting war to seize the Senkakus and even the southern Ryukyus, or simply aggressive diplomacy meant to take advantage of a declining America, the point is that China is a powerful strategic competitor to the United States: the risk of conflict is real and we cannot afford to blind ourselves to it in pursuit of “building bridges.”

Especially when the other side may have an interest in blowing them up, someday.

via The Daily Caller


Is a Top American Diplomat a Russian Agent?

November 3, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Helluva scandal, if true. And a dramatic story, regardless.

Originally posted on The XX Committee:

Today the Ukrainian news website GORDON ran an interview with the Russian businessman and sometime politician Konstantin Borovoy. A harsh critic of Vladimir Putin — he recently said Russia’s president is “mentally unstable” while a year ago he pronounced the collapse of Putin’s corrupt dictatorship to be “inevitable” — Borovoy is something of a gadfly. A parliamentarian of independent views in the Yeltsin era, he served as an intermediary between Moscow and the rebels in the First Chechen War, and was assessed as “a respected and influential Duma deputy” by one savvy Western expert, in part due to his staunch opposition to the takeover of Russia by the “special services,” especially the Federal Security Service (FSB), during the Putin years.

Hence Borovoy’s statements are not to be rejected out of hand as the ravings of a madman. In the GORDON interview, he lambasts Ukraine’s government for having faith…

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Poland Prepares for Russian Invasion

October 30, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Poland has had sad experience of Russian aggression several times over the centuries, and now again they’re worried — with justification. But it’s not just Putin who worries them: read through to the end for absolutely brutal comments from Polish officials about Obama and his administration.

Originally posted on The XX Committee:

As Vladimir Putin’s Russia continues to threaten Ukraine, having stolen Crimea in the spring and exerted de facto Kremlin control over much of the Donbas this summer, war worries are mounting on NATO’s eastern frontier. New reports of Russian troop movements on the Ukrainian border this week are not reassuring to those Atlantic Alliance members who suffered Soviet occupation for decades, and still live in Moscow’s neighborhood.

Neither are Russian air force incursions into Western airspace calming nerves with their reborn Cold War antics: yesterday, NATO fighters intercepted no less than nineteen Russian combat aircraft, including several heavy bombers. No NATO countries are more worried about Kremlin aggression than the Baltic states, with their small militaries and lack of strategic depth, which are frankly indefensible in any conventional sense without significant and timely Alliance assistance.

But Poland is the real issue when it comes to defending NATO’s exposed Eastern…

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