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inFOCUS Quarterly

Summer 2014

America's Global Withdrawal

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Articles by the JPC

We Already Built an Iraqi Army Once, Now What?

by Shoshana Bryen
September 12, 2014 | American Thinker

Secretary of State Kerry is in the Middle East, looking for regional allies for President Obama's proposal to deal with the threat of the Islamic State (IS). That is entirely appropriate -- IS poses a more immediate and dire threat to regional players than it does to the United States. Convincing Turkey and Qatar to stop funding and supporting jihadists, for example, would be an excellent start.

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The Conditions of Victory and Peace

by Shoshana Bryen
September 9, 2014 | Gatestone

The Israeli public is in a notably bad mood. The Hamas rockets have, for the time being, stopped; the current cease-fire is holding. The tunnel threat, a strategic one most Israelis had not understood until several days into the war, has been alleviated; many Hamas rocket manufacturing facilities have been destroyed; a substantial percentage of the Hamas arsenal has been used up; and Hamas achieved none of its strategic goals.

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North Korea's Hamas Connection: "Below" the Surface?

by Gabriel Scheinmann and Victor Cha
September 4, 2014 | The National Interest

Since the recent conclusion of the war between Hamas and Israel in Gaza, the United States and Israel have begun pointing fingers at the Islamist terrorist group's usual benefactors: Iran, Syria, Qatar and Turkey. However, there's an additional, somewhat-oddball patron about five thousand miles away—North Korea. As then secretary of defense Robert Gates asserted in August 2010, "The fact is that North Korea continues to smuggle missiles and weapons to other countries around the world—Burma, Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas—and they continue with their development of their nuclear program." A recent report in The Telegraph highlighting an arms deal between North Korea and Hamas only grazes the tip of a much deeper relationship. Below the surface, Hamas' vast tunnel architecture and its tactical use of tunnels to conduct surprise assaults behind Israeli lines suggest an even more nefarious North Korean role.

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The Grim Lessons of "Protective Edge"

by Gabriel Scheinmann and Raphael Cohen
August 31, 2014 | The American Interest

After nearly two months of fighting, Israel and Gaza have agreed to an open-ended ceasefire, and for the third time in six years, Israel finds itself looking back at its attempt to stop the barrage of rockets fired at its citizens from the Hamas-controlled enclave of Gaza. Ever since withdrawing from Gaza in 2005, Israel has sought to prevent the smuggling of weaponry into the coastal territory and to deter militants from firing rocketry by exacting significant tolls on Hamas and other terrorist organizations operating in the Strip. While many have highlighted Protective Edge's technological innovations and the calls for radical changes to the status quo—be it in the reoccupation of Gaza, the international demilitarization of Hamas, or a jump-start to a true peace negotiation—in the end, most of the operation's tactical and strategic lessons were quite traditional. For all the attempts to find technological quick fixes or enforce a permanent settlement, Operation Protective Edge has highlighted that a war of attrition, known as a "long war", remains the only viable strategy in the current environment.

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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

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. IThe 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 just the impression.

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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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Palestinian Poverty is not a Plague or an Earthquake

by Shoshana Bryen
August 11, 2014 | Gatestone Institute

Does Palestinian poverty obligate Israel to provide aid to Hamas and Fatah governments? Warfare against Israel is the best predictor of Palestinian economic difficulty. The best aid is a job. But Hamas remains in open war with the people best able to employ its people -- Israel. And war has consequences.

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"Gotcha"

by Stephen Bryen and Shoshana Bryen
August 6, 2014 | American Thinker (blog)

Der Spiegel, the German newsmagazine, reported that Israel spied on Secretary of State John Kerry's phone calls while Kerry was in Paris with representatives of Qatar and Turkey, trying to arrange a ceasefire for Gaza. It appears straightforward. Oddly, though, there is no source for the story, no confirmation, just the old standby of "reliable sources." And the story isn't actually about Israel.

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Why a Cease Fire Doesn't Help

by Shoshana Bryen
July 28, 2014 | American Thinker

The Israeli Cabinet unanimously rejected the terms of a Gaza ceasefire proposed by Hamas front men Qatar and Turkey. Secretary of State Kerry expressed surprise and chagrin at the vote. The Israelis expressed surprise and chagrin at Kerry's support for a document that offered Hamas "arrangements to secure the opening of crossings, allow the entry of goods and people and ensure the social and economic livelihood of the Palestinian people living in Gaza, transfer of funds to Gaza for the payment of salaries for public employees and address all security issues."

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