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    Obama Foreign Policy Tag

    Commemorating Iran's National Nuclear Day, President Hassan Rouhani announced that the Islamic Republic would soon make advanced centrifuges operational, the Washington Free Beacon reported Thursday. Rouhani, according to the report, which was based on a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), not only announced the installation of 20 IR-6 centrifuges but seemingly threatened, "If yesterday you feared our IR-1 centrifuges—well, here you go!" He also boasted that during the past year "we have acquired missiles and weapons that you could not have imagined."

    Then-president Obama's Iran Nuclear Deal was widely condemned on the right and by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who referred to the deal as a "bad" and "very bad deal."  One of then-candidate Trump's campaign promises was to extract the the U.S. from this very bad deal, and he did so in the second year of his presidency. Much to the chagrin of Democrats, the DNC, and the former Obama administration, this withdrawal from the Iran deal has been far more successful in stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear capabilities and from sponsoring worldwide terrorism than the original, bad deal was sold to accomplish.

    In December 2017, investigative reporter Josh Meyer broke a story in Politico Magazine which exposed how the Obama administration allowed Hezbollah to run drugs, including into the U.S., for fear that a crackdown would upset Iran during the nuke deal negotiations. We covered that report in Obama allowed Hezbollah cocaine running into U.S. in quest for Iran nuke deal:

    Holy cow. The Associated Press has reported that former President Barack Obama's administration attempted to give Iran access to U.S. banks despite sanctions in place and lied to Congress about said plans. In 2016, a license issued by the Treasury Department gave Iran permission "to convert $5.7 billion it held at a bank in Oman from Omani rials into euros by exchanging them first into U.S. dollars."

    More details are emerging about the Iranian drone launched from central Syria that was brought down over Israeli territory, and the resulting Israeli attack on the Iranian base near Palmyra that launched and controlled the drone. In that attack on the Iranian base, an Israeli F-16 was brought down, though the precise circumstances are not yet clear based on public information. Differing news accounts have the F-16 hit by shrapnel, or alternatively being ditched when the pilots realize a Russian-made surface-to-air missile (SAM) had locked on to the plane.

    For almost a week, Iranians have been protesting against their oppressive regime. The demonstrations have been unfolding on social media since Iran has no free press and the state press have been told not to report on it. For some odd reason, officials from President Barack Obama's administration have advised people to ignore this uprising. Gee, could it be because their celebrated Iranian nuclear deal looks REALLY bad now? That deal was supposedly the most important foreign policy decision during the administration.

    Two years ago, former President Barack Obama agreed to the Iran Nuclear Deal and told The New York Times that "Iran will be and should be a regional power." He also said that Iran has "that ability now to take some decisive steps to move toward a more constructive relationship with the world community." Obama encouraged Iranian leaders "to seize that opportunity." Well, Obama, you got your wish. Iran seized that opportunity and has taken over Iraq. Goods from Iran fill up the Iraqi markets. Not to mention that Iranian militias had a hand in dispelling ISIS from Mosul and other areas.

    The Iranian Nuclear Deal included many pieces, but one of the least reported items of the deal has been the prisoner swap. Iran agreed to release four Americans while we handed over seven prisoners and dropped charges and investigations against 14 others. Professor Jacobson profiled these prisoners after the exchange occurred. But a Politico investigation has revealed the anger and frustration within former President Barack Obama's administration over the release of these men:
    “They didn’t just dismiss a bunch of innocent business guys,” said one former federal law enforcement supervisor centrally involved in the hunt for Iranian arms traffickers and nuclear smugglers. “And then they didn’t give a full story of it.”

    Surprising consensus on today's Morning Joe that Barack Obama blew it bigly in Syria by punting on his redline. Even Obama fan Mike Barnicle admitted, "Syria was a serious mistake that the Obama administration made." Foreign policy honcho Richard Haass said "history's going to be rough on this. This is going to be the defining moment for the Obama presidency." It wasn't just the panel that trashed Obama's mishandling of Syria. Joe Scarborough noted that not only did leading Dems like John Kerry and Hillary quickly come out in support of Trump's strikes, but that Dems were saying things that were "almost disloyal to Barack Obama, saying we could have never moved this quickly."

    On Tuesday, almost 60 people died in Syria after warplanes dropped bombs filled with chemicals. The number includes women and children. Many suspect President Bashar al-Assad's regime for the attack. President Donald Trump condemned the attack, but also ripped into former President Barack Obama for not sticking to his "red line" on Syria:
    “Today’s chemical attack in Syria against innocent people including women and children is reprehensible and cannot be ignored by the civilized world,” Mr. Trump said in a statement.

    Last week Gen. (ret.) Michael Herzog (brother of Israel's opposition leader Isaac Herzog) wrote a remarkable article (.pdf) in The American Interest. Herzog, who has been involved in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations since 1993 didn't write his article to place blame (though he does) for the failure of the 2013-2014 talks overseen by then-Secretary of State John Kerry but "it is my sincere hope that this analysis will inform a meaningful policy debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." But if you Google Herzog's name for the past week, precisely one news organization covered the article: The Times of Israel. Some blogs such as The Tower and Yaacov Lozowick have written about it too. One would think that an insider's view of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians would draw a lot of attention, but it didn't. Presumably that is because Herzog didn't blame Bibi first.

    Barak Ravid, the diplomatic correspondent for the Israeli daily Haaretz, has a reputation of getting great scoops, especially of the sort that makes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu look bad. In a story with a sensational headline that has lit up anti-Netanyahu social media, Ravid reported, Exclusive Kerry Offered Netanyahu Regional Peace Plan in Secret 2016 Summit With al-Sissi, King Abdullah. The sub-headline read, "Kerry's outline included Arab recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Netanyahu claimed he couldn't get his coalition to back it."

    Obama is ending his presidency not only with a flurry of commutations, but also with appointments to various commissions and governmental entities. One of those entities is the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, to which Obama just appointed Ben Rhodes. The Jerusalem Post reports:
    With only three days left in office, US President Barack Obama announced several key administration posts on Wednesday, including the placement of Benjamin Rhodes, one of his top foreign policy advisers, on the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.

    In a call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, January 15, 2017, Secretary of State John Kerry assured the prime minister that there would be no further United Nations Security Council action taken against Israel in the wake the Paris peace conference. That conference brought 70+ nations together to discuss terms of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, without either party being present. United Nations Security Council resolution 2334, passed in late December 2016, when the United States abstained and failed to protect Israel from a resolution that stated that the Israeli presence in all lands captured in 1967, including parts of Jerusalem, constituted a flagrant violation of international law. The immediate effects of the resolution was to encourage boycotts of Israel and increase Palestinian violence, mostly rock throwing, against Israel.

    The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approves House Resolution 11 (full embed at bottom) which criticizes not only anti-Israel UN Security Council Resolution 2334, but also the U.S. abstention. It was the criticism of the abstention that split Democrats, with several speakers claiming Republicans were politicizing support for Israel in Congress. Several speakers claimed the Resolution was a swipe at Obama as he was leaving office. Potential DNC Chair Keith Ellison voted No.

    Probably the one columnist I have critiqued more than any other in my blogging career is Thomas Friedman of The New York Times. Friedman, one-time NY Times Jerusalem bureau chief, is considered The Times' go-to expert on the Middle East, globalization and environmental issues. However, when reading Friedman's columns, it's easy to see that rather than being an expert on any of these topics, he holds certain beliefs and uses all of his observations to support his deeply held beliefs. He often conveys his convictions using superficial metaphors that sound clever, but are meaningless or misleading.
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