The first casualty of war is truth, especially when the war is in the Middle East

The first casualty of war is truth . . . and truth is never more at risk than in a war against an Islamo-Leftist enemy.  Since the Israeli offensive began, social media and major news and television sites have been overrun with faked images purporting to show Israeli soldiers caught in the act of brutalizing children or simply showing dead children.

For decades, Israel never took this disinformation war seriously, only to wonder in the war’s aftermath why she had won the actual battles, but continued to lose ground in the war of public opinion.  This year is different.  For the first time that I can remember, the Israeli Defense Forces are taking the disinformation war as seriously as the war itself.  From the first air raid, they explained why they were doing what they were doing, used video footage to show how surgically precise their air raids are and, most importantly, didn’t apologize.  If you act craven, people will assume you’re craven.  This time around, Israel has been behaving as a righteous combatant.

What Israel is also doing is acting aggressively to stem the swift flow of disinformation.  A good example is the IDF’s own website, which debunks a photo purporting to show an Israeli soldier with his foot on a tragic little girl’s stomach and an automatic weapon aimed at her body.  In fact, the whole thing is just as staged as it looks.  It comes from a rally in Bahrain.  The people in the image are actors in the peculiar passion play of the Islamic world, one that has the true child killers attempting to project their own vile practices on the Israelis who work so hard to avoid civilian deaths.

Here’s the heartrending “innocent child” photo:

Pull the camera out a little, and you see that this is nothing but play-acting, with Muslims in both major and minor roles:

Even Leftist water-carrier Richard Cohen is beginning to figure this one out:

Of all the points of disagreement between Israel and Hamas, maybe the most profound is this one: Israel cares more about sparing innocent lives — including those of Palestinians — than does Hamas. Not only have Hamas and other militant groups this year sent more than 700 rockets crashing haphazardly into southern Israel, but also Hamas instigated yet another war where the chief loser will certainly be its own people. If hell has a beach, it’s located in Gaza.

The Gaza Strip is a congested, fetid place. It is densely populated and in the slums and housing blocks, Hamas has hidden its weapons, explosives and rocket launchers. Israel has gone out of its way to avoid civilian casualties. Its air force has used new, highly accurate ammunition aiming for rocket-launching sites and government installations. For the most part, it has succeeded.

For Hamas, civilian casualties are an asset.

Let’s see, though, if Cohen can convince his own employer — the Washington Post — to stop lavishing it’s paper and cyber pages with lovingly delineated photos (many faked) of dead Palestinian children.  Somehow I doubt it.  The narrative is in place, and the MSM is running with it.

I’m posting these debunkings my real-me Facebook page, where 90% of my Facebook friends, culled from my years as a student, lawyer, and parent, are liberal.  I don’t include nasty comments with the post, because there’s no mileage in calling my friends blind or stupid.  Instead, I preface them with the well-known statement that the first casualty of war is truth.  I trust them to be smart enough to draw their own conclusions, I hope that they are honest enough to make the effort.

Obama — enemy to Israel, and to peace and stability in the Middle East

I’ve never doubted Obama’s fundamental anti-Israel beliefs, nor have I ever thought he’s on a right, or even a sane, track in the Middle East. As much as anything, though, my feelings regarding Obama’s Israel/Middle East attitudes were predicated on a gut attitude resulting from his pre-presidency friendships and his execrable Cairo speech. Now, though, after almost three years of his presidency, the evidence is in, and Barry Rubin explains that my instincts (and yours too) are born out by the facts:

In a major address on U S. Middle East policy to the Brookings Institution, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta gave us a clear picture of the Obama Administration’s view of the region. When taken along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent speech on the same subject, we now know the following regarding Obama’s policy:

It is dangerously and absurdly wrong. This administration totally and completely, dangerously and disastrously for U.S. interests misunderstand the Middle East. They are 180 degrees off course, that is heading in the opposite direction of safety.

Despite the satisfactory state of relations on a purely military level, the Obama Administration is not a friend of Israel, even to the extent that it was arguably so in the first two years of this presidency.

It is now an enemy; it is on the other side.  Again, the issue is not mainly bilateral relations but the administration’s help and encouragement to those forces that are Israel’s biggest enemies, that want to rekindle war, and that are 100 percent against a two-state solution. And I don’t mean the Palestinian Authority, I mean the Islamists.

And the Obama Administration is also a strategic enemy of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Morocco, and Jordan. It is also a strategic enemy to the democratic opposition forces in Iran, Syria, Turkey, Tunisia, and Egypt.

Having analyzed and studied the Middle East for almost four decades I say none of this lightly. And these conclusions arise simply from watching what the administration says and does.

Read the rest here.

The view from the Gulf

One of the things we frequently bemoan here is the fact that American foreign policy tends to be naive.  Perhaps because our culture is a fluid melting pot in which citizens, until quite recently, willingly changed themselves to assimilate into the broader culture, we’re very poor at understanding that other cultures not only have different behaviors, which is a superficial thing, but different mores and values, many of which run almost intractably deep.

The Obama administration has added to that already dangerous naiveté a definitely anti-American bent.  First, Obama seems to care very little for foreign policies that, no matter how misguided, are at least intended to advance American interests abroad.  Second, Obama has abandoned an American foreign policy goal that goes back almost one hundred years, which is to advance individual freedom abroad.  Advancing individual freedom rests upon two prongs, the first of which has an airy-fairy, elementary school sweetness, and the second of which is grounded in hard common sense.  On the sweet side, valuing our own freedom, we like to share it with others.  More pragmatically, nations that rank high on the individual liberty scale seldom go to war with other, similarly situated nations.

The Bush administration perfectly exemplified both America’s traditional goal of pushing freedom and her naiveté.  The Bush crowd understood that free nations are stable nations, and they truly wanted to see the Iraqi and Afghani people freed from tyranny.  As history shows, however, the Bushies had absolutely no idea how very different Middle Eastern culture and values are from those in the West.  They assumed that, if we gave Middle Eastern Muslims freedom, they’d act like free people.  Boy were they wrong.  It turns out that, while people may value freedom, older, more firmly entrenched behaviors (tribalism, misogyny, religious fervor) will trump nascent democracies just about every time.  Change, if it comes, is gradual, often at a glacial pace.  Nor did the Bushies seem to understand that we were able to rush the freedom process in Germany and Japan only because we reduced them to rubble, rebuilt them from the ground up, and then stuck around for 60 years to keep an eye on things.

All of which gets me to a fascinating article from Bahrain’s Gulf Daily News, which a friend sent me.  Although most decided a Muslim country, Bahrain is also moderate by Muslim standards, and it prides itself on that fact.  I doubt I’d be comfortable living there, but it’s no Saudi Arabia or Iran.  Iran, however, would like it to be an Iran.  The article focuses on Bahraini fears that Iran is attempting to control it, and to bringing it in line with Iran’s fanatic, medieval Shia practice of Islam:

BAHRAIN is a victim of Iran’s expansionist policies, which will not be allowed to succeed, it was declared last night. It has been the ideology of Iran over the last many centuries to interfere in the affairs of its neighbours and pursue its policies of suppression, said Akhbar Al Khaleej Editor-in-Chief Anwar Abdulrahman.

He said 65 per cent of the people in Bahrain were the “moderate silent majority” who did not speak while 35pc were the “vocal anti-government” people who shouted and their voices were heard.

“We are one people and we are moderates. There is no way we can be violent and there is no way we can be like Iran,” said Mr Abdulrahman.

The article goes on to complaint in greater length about the risk an expansionist Iran poses for the Gulf states, and I urge you to read it.  Two things in the article really jumped out at me, one about the nature of Iran, and the other about the nature of America:

“These policies have been with the Iranians since 600BC, even though the regimes and rulers have changed,” said Mr Abdulrahman.

“There were all kinds of rulers, but they have always been dictators who have repeatedly suppressed their own people.

[snip]

He also spoke about the US role in the region and about its double standards.

“They have a policy to play a role in every part of the world, regardless of how disastrous it might be,” said Mr Abdulrahman.

“Whether it was Vietnam in the 60s or in the modern-day Iraq and Afghanistan, they have never won. It is only a matter of time they will withdraw from Afghanistan as well.

“Wherever they go, it turns into a disaster. Their policies are like fast food – they change every day.”

Mr. Abdulrahman is right on both counts.  Unlike America, which is a new nation, old nations have deeply entrenched behaviors.  Iran, whenever it’s had strength, has sought regional domination, whether the ruler was Darius, Xerxes or the Mullahs.  (In the same way, Russia, the Soviet Union and now Russia again, have always sought warm water ports.  It’s just what the rulers of that land do.)

As for Abdulrahman’s complaints about America, he’s right on that too.  America has always had a tug of war between isolationists and those who seek to advance freedom and democracy.  World War II put us firmly on a democracy seeking path right through 1968.  It was then that the McGovern/Obama wing of the Democratic party denounced America as a country too evil to offer salvation to other nations.  Since then, we’ve see-sawed back and forth between government powers that have viewed America alternately as a Lightbringer and as Satan incarnate — all with a good deal of naiveté thrown in to keep things interesting.