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inFOCUS Quarterly

Summer 2014

America's Global Withdrawal

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Articles by the JPC

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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The Doctrine of Proportionality

by Shoshana Bryen
July 20, 2014 | Gatestone

Proportionality in international law is not about equality of death or civilian suffering, or even about [equality of] firepower. Proportionality weighs the necessity of a military action against suffering that the action might cause to enemy civilians in the vicinity.

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The "Long War" Strategy: Israel's War of Attrition Against Hamas

by Gabriel Scheinmann and Raphael Cohen
July 17, 2014 | The National Interest

In the provocative documentary The Gatekeepers, Avraham Shalom, former director of Israel's internal security agency, the Shin Bet, articulated the common critique of Israeli security policy: "there was no strategy, just tactics." He is not alone. For the Obama administration and much of the Israeli political left, the absence of a two-state solution constitutes a lack of strategic foresight. As Secretary of State John Kerry derisively warned, "the alternative to getting back to the talks is the potential of chaos. . . .I mean does Israel want a third Intifada?" Likewise, outspoken Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman bemoaned, "every minister in the government has a strategy, but the Israeli government has no strategy." For him, as well as many on the Israeli right, a true strategy consists of Israel "go[ing] all the way" and "eradicat[ing] the Hamas regime in Gaza." Superficially, the fact that Operation Protective Edge is Israel's fourth in nine years against Hamas reinforces the "tactics, but no strategy" assessment.

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China Hacks US Think Tanks

by Stephen Bryen and Shoshana Bryen
July 14, 2014 | American Thinker

Shifting its focus from spying on the countries on its periphery, cyber experts say China has moved to interests farther afield. Specifically, China's leaders have apparently been trying to figure out what the United States is going to do about the emerging chaos in Iraq after ISIS seized over a third of Iraqi territory. In an operation called "Deep Panda," Chinese cyber spies targeted the top strategic think tanks and policy organizations in Washington for answers.

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How Does Israel End Up the Bad Guy?

by Shoshana Bryen
July 10, 2014 | American Thinker

It is a terrible irony that Israel, revolted first by the murder of three of its teenage citizens and then by the revenge attack on a Palestinian teen, is the object of riots, bombs, and demands.

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