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inFOCUS Quarterly

Summer 2014

America's Global Withdrawal

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The Beheading of James Foley and Other Unintended Consequences

by Shoshana Bryen
August 21, 2014 | Gatestone Institute

There is a reason the American military asks of its civilian commanders, "Don't tell us what to do, tell us what you want done." Giving the military an executable military mission to accomplish is the most important responsibility of civilian command. A strategic plan helps the military respond quickly to the unintended consequences that result from every mission, without sliding into incremental and often unplanned escalation.

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What is ISIS, Where did it Come From, and When Did the US Know it was There?

by Shoshana Bryen and Michael Johnson
August 20, 2014 | Jewish Policy Center

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also known as the Islamic State in the Levant (ISIL), currently controls about one-third of Iraq. It is a combination of a non-al-Qaeda revival of the al-Qaeda-sponsored Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) organization that tried to take over western Iraq 2003—2006, and Sunni Syrian rebel groups including the Nusra Front (Jabhat al Nusra), which also has ties to al Qaeda.

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Memorable visit to the Yazidis shows promise of a modern Middle Eastern society

by Gabriel Scheinmann
August 18, 2014 | The Washington Post

The city of Lalish, as many refer to the holy center of the Yazidi faith, is a bit of a misnomer. Wedged into the side of a small hill several hours' drive north of Irbil in Kurdistan, the hamlet is remote and modest and has only one entry point, a partially paved strip that was guarded, at the time of my visit, by Kurdish pesh merga troops. The small group looked and acted more like parking attendants than hardened fighters. In the small valley between the hills, gas flares dotted an otherwise tranquil landscape seemingly undisturbed by modernity.

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The "Disengaged" President Punishes Israel

by Shoshana Bryen
August 15, 2014 | American Thinker (blog)

Google "president disengaged" and 1,290,000 entries pop up. Okay, fair enough. Google is not the best way to take the measure of President Obama's active engagement in the workings of the world. So note that today is the funeral of Maj. Gen. Harold Greene, USA, the highest-ranking American military officer killed in Afghanistan, and the first Major General killed in combat since 1970.The president will be in Martha's Vineyard, not at Arlington Cemetery.

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The Arab-Israel War

by Shoshana Bryen
August 13, 2014 | American Thinker

To the president, the problem is Gaza poverty and the lack of a Palestinian State. That being the case, Israel has to "find a way" to live in peace with the neighbors; the neighbors have no reciprocal obligation. Israel has to legitimate Palestinian claims to land for a country, but Israel's claim to land for a state recognized as legitimate by the neighbors remains unaddressed. Missing from the president's understanding is that Israel still faces the century-long Arab determination to deny it as a permanent, legitimate part of the region. The wars of 1948, 1956, 1967, and 1973 were not about Palestinians; they were Arab attempts to destroy Israel. Smaller wars with non-state actors supported by Arab states -- 1982 and 2006 in Lebanon, 2001-4 in the West Bank, and 2008/9, 2012 and 2014 with Hamas in Gaza -- changed the impression of Israel from a small state facing large states to a militarily superior state facing ragtag guerrillas and poor refugees. But not the reality.

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U.S. Surprised at Egyptian and UAE Airstrikes in Libya

by Michael Johnson
August 27, 2014 at 10:46 am

Unnamed American officials voiced surprise on Monday over a series of airstrikes commenced by U.S. allies last week in Tripoli, according to a report by the BBC. Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) launched the attacks on pro-Islamist militias that had recently gained ground in Libya's capital.

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Protesters Gather in Islamabad as Talks Fail

by Michael Johnson
August 21, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Imran Khan, the leader of Pakistan's largest opposition party, pulled out of talks with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday, calling on him to resign. Khan's actions set the stage for continued political turmoil as thousands of anti-government activists gathered outside government buildings in Islamabad.

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Hamas Fires at Israel, Jerusalem Responds

by Michael Johnson
August 20, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Terrorists in Gaza violated a ceasefire on Tuesday, launching rockets at Israel eight hours before a the temporary truce was set to expire. The IDF responded with renewed airstrikes on Hamas terror targets.

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Erdogan Wins Turkish Presidency

by Michael Johnson
August 12, 2014 at 4:53 pm

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan won Turkey's first direct election for President on Sunday, allowing him to embark on further constitutional reform. The polarizing Prime Minister will be sworn into his new role on August 28th, with his ruling Islamist AK party nominating a successor.

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New Turmoil in Baghdad While IS Advances

by Michael Johnson
August 11, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Troops and tanks surged into Baghdad's Green Zone over the weekend, following new infighting between Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and recently elected President Fuad Masum. The latest political turmoil in Iraq came as Islamic State (IS) militants took control of Jalawla, near the Iranian border.

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Russia Bans Some Food Imports from Europe

by Yael Rein
August 7, 2014 at 4:49 pm

Moscow banned certain food imports from the West on Thursday in retaliation for recently imposed U.S. and EU sanctions on Russia. The move escalates the Kremlin's row with the West over the Russian government's arming of Ukrainian separatists.

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