Potpurri: Obama and Israel, Bibi’s Next Fight, and America’s Natural Gas Boom
I believe the President is absolutely sincere when his surrogates advise Israeli officials that, as The New York Times of June 7th described it, they “reiterate Mr. Obama’s readiness to use military action against Iran if diplomacy fails.” Along the same reassuring lines, the Times also reported “David S. Cohen, a Treasury Department under secretary who oversees financial sanctions, told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that if the next round of nuclear talks, in Moscow on June 18, break down, ‘there is no question we will continue to ratchet up the pressure.’ Israel and the United States, he said, are considering unspecified new measures that would build on the oil sanctions set to take effect at the beginning of next month.”
The Times article went on, “And their remarks followed a speech last month by the American ambassador to Israel, Daniel B. Shapiro, who said that the United States not only was willing to use force, but had also made preparations for a military operation.”
The U.S. hand has been strengthened as a result of our new found energy available in shale natural gas now recoverable through hydrofracking. The experts say that our shale natural gas reserves exceed the oil reserves of Saudi Arabia. Those natural gas reserves are already being brought to market in several states, including Pennsylvania and, with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo, hopefully will soon be flowing from New York wells. The experts believe it can be done safely without endangering our aquifers and wells. The legislature can help the monitoring by enacting legislation that will require as a matter of public policy that any alleged negligence and settlement never be closed to public view by court order and always be available for examination and publication in all detail by the media.
I ask the question again, what gives us the right to bomb (by drone) countries that are sovereign and with whom we are not at war? The Times reported on June 8th, “Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta brushed aside concerns on Wednesday that drone strikes against leaders of Al Qaeda in Pakistan violate that country’s sovereignty. ‘We have made clear to the Pakistanis that the United States of America is going to defend ourselves against those who attack us,’ Mr. Panetta said. ‘This is not just about protecting the United States. It’s also about protecting Pakistan. And we have made it very clear that we are going to continue to defend ourselves.'” And defend them, whether they like it or not.
When I raised my question on an earlier occasion, a reader wrote me that our right to do so fell under the doctrine of “hot pursuit.” I don’t think so. I believe “hot pursuit” means that you pick up the trail of the terrorist in Afghanistan and follow him into Pakistan. That is not what is happening here. Here, the trail starts in Pakistan.
I am delighted that our President and Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, are willing to protect us no matter what. Perhaps it’s a question not to be raised, but just support their continuing to protect us. I’ll go along with that. Pakistan is not our friend. Remember Osama bin Laden lived for years in Pakistan next to one of the latter’s largest military posts before he was killed by Navy Seals.
Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu’s hand has been strengthened by the addition to his cabinet of the Kadima Party led by Shaul Mofaz, bringing the government’s majority to 95 out of 120 Parliament (Knesset) members. The Times of June 7th reported, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel seemed headed for a showdown with hard-core Jewish settlers on Wednesday, after his ministers followed his instructions to vote against a draft bill that would have retroactively legalized illegally built settler homes in the West Bank. The bill was defeated 69 to 22 in the 120-seat Parliament, paving the way for the imminent removal of five apartment buildings housing about 30 families that were built on privately owned Palestinian land in an extension of an existing settlement. Israel’s Supreme Court has ordered the state to demolish the buildings by July 1. In the end, Mr. Netanyahu faced down the more right-wing elements within his government coalition and his own Likud Party, prevailing after intense discussions in the past few days and pledging to build housing for 300 families in the settlement itself, Beit El.”
The Prime Minister’s greatest battle is yet to come at the end of the year. Then the legislation providing draft deferments for ultra-orthodox men and women expires. He has conveyed that he intends to end it permanently. Hooray.
Those who are constantly seeking to tie the hands of the New York City Police Department and the Police Commissioner Ray Kelly should remember the successful attacks made upon the Tokyo subway system in 1995 by the terrorist group Aum Shinrikyo. As a result of the poison gas used, 13 commuters were killed and at least 5,000 were sickened.
We should be congratulating Ray Kelly for his success in preventing at least 14 terrorist plots from succeeding here in New York City since 9/11, they having been prevented as a result of intelligence activities on the part of the NYPD , undoubtedly assisted by the F.B.I., C.I.A. and Homeland Security.
The City of New York is now subject to the orders of Federal District Court Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg has directed the city to appeal a court order. The order pertains to the stop-and-frisk program, which uncovers guns and knives and on average 10 percent of those stopped and frisked are arrested or given summonses. In my opinion, the program has proven its value and made the city safer. The New York Post reported on May 25th, “Bloomberg — who obviously believes stop-and-frisk is having an impact on crime — made it clear he wasn’t about to cave in as Philadelphia did in fighting a similar federal lawsuit to one facing New York. ‘I can assure you we will not turn the Police Department over to the NYCLU,’ he said.”
The candidates for Mayor in 2013 are being tested on their courage to stand up and support the continuation of this program. Obviously, we are a nation of laws and the ultimate decision of the highest appellate court hearing the case will be enforced by the city. That has not yet occurred, and the question is, who among the mayoral aspirants supports the Mayor and Police Commissioner at this time with respect to the stop-and-frisk program?