May 11/14


Bible Quotation for today/This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
John 21,1-14/After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, ‘I am going fishing.’ They said to him, ‘We will go with you.’ They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, ‘Children, you have no fish, have you?’ They answered him, ‘No.’He said to them, ‘Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’ So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the lake. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off. When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.’ So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, ‘Who are you? ’ because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

Pope Francis's Tweet For Today

A family enlightened by the Gospel provides a school for Christian living! There one learns faithfulness, patience and sacrifice.
ape François
Une famille illuminée par l’Évangile est une école de vie chrétienne. Là, on apprend la fidélité, la patience et le sacrifice.


Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For May 11/14
Khamenei’s Nuclear Fatwa Shows the Way Forward/By: Seyed Hossein Mousavian/May 11/14

A U.S. global strategy in search of an author/Hisham Melhem/Al Arabiya/May 11/14


Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For May 11/14

Lebanese Related News

The Higher Islamic Council Slams Iranian Comments on Southern Border, Calls for 'Lebanese' Election of New President

Geagea says vacuum better than Hezbollah rule

IMF says Lebanon economy to grow by 4 percent in medium term
Lebanon, U.N. consider settlements for Syrian refugees

Nasrallah criticized Syria Intelligence: WikiLeak

Hospitals on high alert, ready for MERS virus

Rifi slams al-Jadeed, says STL cooperation ongoing

STL hearing of journalists to protect witnesses

Police thwart prisoner's escape attempt in Nabatieh

Time for an election or a whole new system?
Hariri tells Aoun premiership not on the table: MP
Cabinet makes 13 civil service appointments

Adwan urges strikers to accept reduced wage hike
IMF: Lebanon economy to grow by 4 percent

Miscellaneous Reports And News

Question and answer: "How can it be said that we have everlasting life when we still die?"

Canada: National Day of Honour commemorates mission in Afghanistan

Israel assails latest allegations of brazen spying on US

100,000 civilians flee jihadist clashes in Syria

Tensions soar in east Ukraine ahead of referendum

West Warns Russia ahead of 'Illegal' East Ukraine Referendums

100,000 Civilians Flee Jihadist Clashes in Syria  

Mothers's Day: Love, Sacrifices and Commitment
By: Elias Bejjani
In Christianity Virgin Merry is envisaged by many believers and numerous cultures as the number one role model for the righteous, devote, loving , caring, giving, and humble mothers. Today while in Canada we are happily and joyfully celebrating the Mothers' Day, let us all pray that Almighty God will keep granting all mothers all over the world the needed graces of wisdom, meekness and faith to highly remain under all circumstances honoring this holy role model and to stay as Virgin Merry fully devoted to their families.
In all religions and cultures all over the world, honoring, respecting and obeying parents is not a favor that people either chose to practice or not. No not at all,  honoring, respecting and obeying parents is a holy obligation that each and every faithful individual who believes in God MUST fulfill, no matter what.
Almighty God in His10 Commandments (Exodus 20:2-17 ) made the honoring of both parents (commandment number five) a holy obligation, and not a choice or a favor.
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you".  (Exodus 20:12)
Reading the Bible, both the Old and New Testament shows with no doubt that honoring parents is a cornerstone and a pillar in faith and righteousness for all believers. All other religions and cultures share with Christians this holy concept and obligation.
“Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God commanded you, so that your days may be long and that it may go well with you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 5:16)
"You shall each revere your mother and father, and you shall keep my Sabbaths: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:3).
Back home in Lebanon we have a popular proverb that says: "If you do not have an elderly figure in your family to bless you, go and search for one"
How true is this proverb, because there will be no value, or meaning for our lives if not blessed and flavored by the wisdom, love and blessings of our parents and of other elder members. He who does not honor the elderly, sympathize and empathize with them, especially his own parents is a person with a hardened heart, and a numbed conscience, who does not know the meaning of gratitude.
History teaches us that the easiest route for destroying a nation is to destroy, its cornerstone, the family. Once the family code of respect is belittled and not honored, the family is divided and loses all its Godly blessings. "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls" (Luke 11-17"
One very important concept and an extremely wise approach MUST apply and prevail when reading the Holy Bible in a bid to understand its contents and observe the Godly instructions and life guidelines that are enlisted. The concept needs to be a faith one with an open frame of mind free from doubts, questions and challenges.
Meanwhile the approach and interpretation MUST both be kept within the abstract manner, thinking and mentality frame, and not in the concrete way of  interpretation.
We read in (Matthew 15/04: "For God said, Respect your father and your mother, and If you curse your father or your mother, you are to be put to death).
Do we have to read this verse concretely and take it merely in its verbatim content?
I posted this verse in both English and Arabic on my Face Book page last year and the kind of comments that it generated shocked me. Below are three of these comments:
1-"I pray that this does not apply to teenagers?"
2-"Who else would it apply to? From teenagers to adults to parents...Until their own parents die; then they weep and wail"
3- "Thank goodness because I think we would all be dead if it applied to teenagers at some point, just learning about the "teenage years" with my oldest"
This verse simply dwells on The Fifth Biblical Commandment: "Honor your Father and Mother". To grasp its meaning rightfully and put it in its right faith content one should understand that death in the Bible is not the death of the body as we experience and see on earth. DEATH in the Bible means the SIN that leads to eternal anguish in Hell.
The Bible teaches us that through His crucifixion, death and resurrection Jesus defeated death in its ancient human, earthly concept. He broke the death thorn and since than, the actual death became the sin. Those who commit the sin die and on the judgment day are outcast to the eternal fire. Death for the believers is a temporary sleep on the hope of resurrection.
Accordingly the verse "If you curse your father or your mother, you are to be put to death", means that those who do not honor their parents, help, support and respect them commit a deadly sin and God on the Judgment Day will make them accountable if they do not repent and honor their parents.
God is a Father, a loving, passionate and caring One, and in this context He made the honoring of parents one of the Ten Commandments.
In conclusion: The abstract and faith interpretation of Matthew 15/04 verse must not be related to children or teenagers who because of an age and maturity factors might temporarily repel against their parents and disobey them.
Hopefully, each and every one of us, no matter what religion or denomination he/she is affiliated to will never ever ignore his parents and commit the deadly SIN of not honoring them through every way and mean especially when they are old and unable to take care of themselves.
For all those of us whose mothers have passed away, let us mention them in our daily prayers and ask Almighty God to endow their souls the eternal rest in His heavenly dwellings.
Happy Mothers' Day to all mothers

Nasrallah criticized Syrian Intelligence: WikiLeaks
May 10, 2014 /The Daily Star
BEIRUT: A WikiLeaks document published Friday quoted Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah as lashing out at Syrian Intelligence services during a meeting with former President Amine Gemeyal years ago. According to the cable, Gemayel briefed then U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman on his meeting with Nasrallah a day after it happened on Dec. 3, 2006. “Searching for a word and sounding several out, Gemayel eventually settled on ‘unenthusiastic’ to describe Nasrallah’s attitude about the Syrians. The Syrian secret police only want women and money; they are without morals,” the document said. Gemayel also told Feltman that he was surprised by Nasrallah’s hatred of then Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, Future Movement leader Saad Hariri and Feltman.
The cable was translated to Arabic and published on the Lebanese Forces website Friday. Many view the move as an attempt to deal a blow to Gemayel’s bid for presidency. Gemayel told Lebanon’s MTV television that he “does not remember” he had the conversation with Nasrallah. Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea is also a presidential hopeful.

Geagea says vacuum better than Hezbollah rule
May 10, 2014/The Daily Star /BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said in comments published Saturday that a vacuum in the presidential post would be better than placing the country under Hezbollah’s control. “We do not have a lot of options [in case of a vacuum]; we would either hold on to our stance or surrender the country to Hezbollah and its allies,” Geagea told pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat. “A vacuum is easier and a better choice than losing Lebanon for good," he said. "I prefer we face some hard times over giving up the country to Hezbollah."
Geagea, the March 14 presidential candidate, reiterated that he is ready to withdraw from the presidential race for the sake of another March 14 candidate who shares his platform and ideas and is accepted by the March 8 camp. “If there is another candidate, who has the same program that I have suggested, and the other camp accepts him, then I am willing to discuss the matter,” he said. “The presidency is not a personal issue for me; my candidacy has an objective and serves a vision of Lebanon,” he added. The LF leader also said that former Prime Minister Saad Hariri would not accept a deal to elect Free Patriotic Movement chief Michel Aoun as a consensus president in return for presiding over the new Cabinet. “Hariri’s comeback is not up to Aoun nor can he grant the post of prime minister to Hariri,” said Geagea. “Hariri has the largest Sunni bloc in Lebanon from the north of the country to its south. He would not be gaining anything from such deal,” he added. Lebanon has so far failed in three consecutive sessions to elect a successor for President Michel Sleiman, whose term expires on Ma 25. In his presidential campaign platform, Geagea said he would seek the place all arms under the control of teh state, in a direct reference to Hezbollah's arsenal.

The Higher Islamic Council Slams Iranian Comments on Southern Border, Calls for 'Lebanese' Election of New President
Naharnet/The Higher Islamic Council on Saturday urged lawmakers and political parties to meet and elect a new president within the constitutional timeframe, stressing that the polls must remain “Lebanese.”
"We discussed with great concern the inability of the parliament to reach an accord on the election of a new president, especially because this is a matter that has a huge role in promoting stability and security in Lebanon,” the HIC said in a released statement after a meeting chaired by its deputy chief Omar Misqawi.
"We call on parliamentary blocs and political parties in the country to meet and elect a new president before the constitutional deadline, and to assure that this vote remains Lebanese,” the statement added.
The parliament failed again for the third time last Wednesday to elect a new head of state over disagreements between the rival March 8 and March 14 camps on a candidate for office.
March 14 has announced its support for Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, who was able to gather 48 votes in the first round of elections.
But the required quorum for electing a new president was not secured in the second and the third rounds of votes due to the absence of March 8 lawmakers, except for Speaker Nabih Berri's Liberation and Development bloc.
The HIC slammed after its meeting the latest Iranian remarks on its influence in southern Lebanon, considering it an “unacceptable interference in Lebanese affairs, and a violation of the country sovereignty.”
The conferees also stressed the necessity of expanding the security plan, which is being implemented in the North and the Bekaa, to include Beirut, its suburbs and the rest of Lebanese territories.
Separately, the HIC referred to legislative decree 18/1955 to stress that its decisions are binding.
"When Grand Mufti (Mohammed Rashid) Qabbani vetoed HIC's decision number 46/2012 before the State Council, he thus clearly recognized the Council's authority to deal with the administrative matters of Dar al-Fatwa and of the HIC,” the statement explained.
Hence, the Mufti is obliged to respect “these legal decisions, whether he recognized the legitimacy of the HIC or not,” the statement added.
"We also warn those who are claiming to be members of the HIC that they can be subjected to criminal prosecution if they hold any activities or announce any statement under this title,” it said.

Lebanon in uproar over Maronite patriarch's planned visit to Jerusalem
By JPOST.COM STAFF /05/10/2014 17:02
Patriarch Beshara al-Rai reportedly stood defiant this week as news editorials attacked him for the planned trip.
Lebanese Maronite patriarch
The Lebanese news media have been in a frenzy this past week after it became apparent that the leader of the Maronite Church in Lebanon is set to visit Israel as part of a delegation of clergy that will welcome Pope Francis to the Holy Land later this month, Israel Radio reported on Saturday. Patriarch Beshara al-Rai, who was elected head of the Maronite Church in 2011, reportedly stood defiant this week as news editorials attacked him for the planned trip. It will be the first time ever that the head of the Maronite Christian community in Lebanon will visit Jerusalem.
“The pope is coming to the Holy Land and I am the one who should welcome him ... it is part of my prerogative as a patriarch of the Antioch and the Levant to go there,” he is quoted as saying by the English-language newspaper The Daily Star.“I consider myself going to my home and to my people ... Jerusalem existed and was our home long before Israel was created,” he said. “I realize Lebanon considers Israel an enemy ... which is why I asked not to meet with [Israeli] officials there,” he said The popular Lebanese daily As-Safir, a publication with a pan-Arabist bent, said the visit would constitute “a historic sin.” Another newspaper, Al Akhbar, warned that al-Rai’s visit would set a dangerous precedent that may encourage Christians in Lebanon to also visit Israel.
With Israel and Lebanon still technically at war, Lebanese citizens are not permitted to visit Israel, nor are Israelis allowed to cross the border to the north. The only exception is Maronite clergy, who are permitted to travel as part of their function within the Church. Hezbollah, the Shi’ite militia that has become a key power broker in Lebanese politics, said it would seek to dissuade the patriarch from going ahead with the visit. “The pope is going to the Holy Land and Jerusalem,” al-Rai told AFP. “He is going to the diocese of the patriarch, so it’s normal that the patriarch should welcome him.”
“It is a religious visit, and in no way a political one,” the patriarch said to AFP. According to AFP, al-Rai will not meet any political figures in Israel. He is, however, scheduled to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The Daily Star noted that al-Rai’s predecessor, Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, declined to accompany Pope John Paul II during his trip to Israel. Instead, he joined the pontiff’s delegation in Jordan.

Lebanon, U.N. consider settlements for Syrian refugees

By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News/Saturday, 10 May 2014
The United Nations and Lebanese authorities are looking into establishing settlements for refugee camps in Lebanon for refugees who have fled the violent war in neighboring Syria, Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star reported Saturday. “We have been holding talks among ourselves as well as with the United Nations regarding the establishment of official refugee camps for Syrians,” Lebanese Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbes told the news website. Lebanese officials suggested establishing camps in safe areas within Syria, but U.N. officials argued keeping them away from the border was necessary for security reasons. “This is one of the problems we are facing… and we still need to reach a Lebanese consensus about the issue,” Derbes said.
According to the official, there are currently over 1,100 informal tents housing Syrian refugees across the country. Basic sanitation is absent in many of these. A ministerial committee for Syrian refugees in Lebanon is scheduled to meet next week to discuss the issue, the minister said, according to The Daily Star. There are 1,056,089 Syrian refugees based in Lebanon, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) data. The actual number of refugees, including those unregistered in official data, is estimated to be much higher. Syria’s civil conflict, now well into its third year, has killed hundreds of thousands, and forced millions to flee their homes and seek refuge elsewhere. Other countries housing Syrian refugees include Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, among other.

Opinion: Khamenei’s Nuclear Fatwa Shows the Way Forward

By: Seyed Hossein Mousavian /Saturday, 10 May, 2014
Since reaching an interim nuclear deal last November, Iran and the world powers have been attempting to finalize a comprehensive nuclear deal by late July.
The Iranian stance on the prohibition of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction was clearly expressed through a fatwa issued by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Addressing more than 120 heads of state and officials at the 16th Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran on August 30, 2012, he stated: “The Islamic Republic—logically, religiously and theoretically—considers the possession of nuclear weapons a grave sin and believes the proliferation of such weapons is senseless, destructive and dangerous.” Ayatollah Khamenei added that Iran “proposed the idea of a Middle East free of nuclear weapons, and we are committed to it.”Iran has already declared its willingness to secularize that fatwa. Such a move would facilitate and expedite a final nuclear deal between Iran and the world powers. However, the fatwa, with its strong roots in Islamic belief, could also play a constructive role far beyond resolving the Iranian nuclear crisis.
As a first step, there could be concerted efforts to have prominent Islamic leaders from both the Sunni and Shi’a sects speak in unison on the issue of banning weapons of mass destruction. Iran could facilitate the process by inviting thinkers and community leaders from across the world to convene, discuss and collectively endorse a ban on all WMDs.
As a next step, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation could approve and submit the decree to the UN General Assembly. Such a move would create a historic opportunity for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to propose the creation of a forum where religious leaders from all Abrahamic faiths could endorse the ban on the production, stockpiling and use of WMDs. The endorsement from religious leaders representing billions of the faithful would go a long way towards creating harmony and unity among the leading world faiths and accelerate efforts to end WMD proliferation.
Following the endorsement of the ban of all WMDs by the world’s religious leaders, the UN General Assembly could pass a resolution on non-proliferation. Once the General Assembly passes that resolution, it could be further strengthened by convening a committee of experts at the International Atomic Energy Agency—the UN nuclear watchdog—to address loopholes and shortcomings in current WMD treaties.
More than four decades of WMD conventions and a decade of nuclear negotiations between Iran and world powers have brought the limitations of non-proliferation treaties into view. Further measures to internationalize the fatwa against WMDs and address current challenges and shortcomings of nuclear safeguards could include the universalization of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty’s (NPT) Additional Protocol, further intrusive monitoring mechanisms, additional transparency measures with robust verification practices, the introduction of mechanisms for the multilateralization of uranium enrichment facilities, and, finally, placing a 5-percent cap on uranium enrichment levels, which safeguards against possible weaponization.
The sequence of steps outlined above could be a path to use the fatwa to generate renewed impetus for a comprehensive international initiative addressing current and future WMD challenges. It would also pave the way for the UN Security Council to take multilateral measures to introduce new international and national arrangements to strengthen and expand current WMD conventions. Not only would internationalizing the fatwa provide leverage for Iran to contribute immensely to non-proliferation, it would also have positive ramifications on multiple regional and international fronts.
The implementation of NPT by Iran’s government and the upholding of the fatwa by religious figures inside Iran can and would pursue the current objective of ensuring Iran’s peaceful use of nuclear technology. However, transforming efforts to internationalize the fatwa into a legally binding document through international venues such as the UN would bring several major benefits.
First, it would strengthen the NPT and assist in efforts towards the eradication of all nuclear weapons worldwide. Second, it would advance efforts towards the creation of a WMD-free zone in the Middle East. Third, with the religious, social and international endorsements of the concept, all Muslim countries in the region would be obliged to implement national legislation banning all WMDs, which would place added pressure on Israel to join the movement. Finally, it would shed light on WMD proliferation by Western countries, members and non-members of the NPT, as in the case of the provision of technology and know-how for Israel’s construction of nuclear weapons and Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons, which were used against Iran in the 1980s.
Such a new international movement towards the dream of a world without nuclear weapons would place additional and specific pressure on all governments to take robust measures backed by national legislation to prevent any form of WMD proliferation.
The significance of the recent nuclear interim deal indicates the world powers have finally given up resisting Iran’s right to uranium enrichment within the framework of the NPT—and given up threatening it with further sanctions. Therefore, it is an opportune moment for the world powers to utilize the huge potential of Ayatollah Khamenei’s fatwa and the possible comprehensive deal with Iran as a model for contributing to non-proliferation. Such a step would bring us a little closer to the goal President Barack Obama outlined during a speech at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin: “Peace with justice means pursuing the security of a world without nuclear weapons.”

IMF says Lebanon economy to grow by 4 percent in medium term
Reuters, Beirut/Saturday, 10 May 2014
The International Monetary Fund forecasts Lebanon's economy will grow by 2 percent in 2014 and a "modest 4 percent over the medium term," despite two years of violence, political paralysis and a huge refugee influx. But with heavy pressures weighing on the economy, the IMF also said in a report published on Friday that Lebanon should "urgently strengthen policies" and its fiscal priority should be to "put public debt on a sustainable downward path". Political jockeying and sectarian tensions have slowed or stalled action needed to tackle Lebanon's financial problems. Public sector wage strikes and widespread power cuts continue in Lebanon, causing further strain on government spending. Lebanon's primary budget turned negative in 2012 and deteriorated further in 2013 to 141 percent of GDP as the government came under pressure to spend and economic activity dropped, the IMF report said. It added that policy decisions, such as a VAT exemption of gasoline and a cost of living adjustment for public sector employees, had also contributed to the rising deficit. The IMF called for salary scale adjustments to be contained with no retroactive payments, something public sector workers have been calling for in regular protests.The Fund further said the small Mediterranean coastal country was losing competitiveness and should focus on reducing electricity subsidies. "Plans to strengthen generation capacity, switch to natural gas and increase electricity tariffs should be implemented without further delay." Lebanon, still struggling to recover from its own 1975-1990 civil war, has found its internal rifts aggravated by the conflict in Syria, whose sectarian divisions mirror its own. Lebanon's economic growth dropped to about 1.5 percent in 2013 from an average of eight percent a year from 2007 to 2010.
A million Syrian refugees have entered Lebanon, whose own population is four million, and rebels have moved into border regions to take refuge from forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
In February, divided politicians in Lebanon ended a year-long government vacuum by forming a cabinet. But another political vacuum looms this month as Lebanese lawmakers have failed in three attempts to choose a president. "Given the political impasse, the lack of reforms has amplified the macroeconomic imbalances. The fiscal position, in particular, has worsened, with adverse consequences for public debt," the report said. "It is therefore important to urgently strengthen policies and make progress on key structural reforms."

A U.S. global strategy in search of an author

Saturday, 10 May 2014 /Hisham Melhem/Al Arabiya
Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Empire, U.S. presidents, National Security Advisors, and the strategists who roam the hallways of Think Tanks and Academe have been searching for an overarching strategy to explain and tackle a rapidly changing world, with new shifting centers of power; what to do with the rising economic and political influence of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), how to combat International Terrorism in the era of Globalization and the proliferation of the new media as well as the rogue states that sponsor them. Old questions such as when the U.S. should intervene militarily, unilaterally or with its allies, in conflicts that do not pose direct threats to its core interests gained new urgency, given the mass killings in the Balkans, the Rwandan Genocide, the horrors of Darfur, the slaughter in Syria and the recent Russian takeover of Crimea.
Presiding over the decline of American deterrence
Watching “Putin the Conqueror” strutting mightily in Sevastopol, being saluted by his navy on his first visit to Crimea since its annexation, oblivious and dismissive of U.S. and European protests, and observing Syrian President Assad’s total disregards of U.S. demands not to stage sham elections on the bodies of more than 160,000 thousand Syrians, and looking at Iran spreading its corrosive influence in the Eastern Mediterranean, one cannot but conclude that President Obama is stoically, but wilfully presiding over the decline of American deterrence. For almost seven decades, deterrence was the cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy.
“For almost seven decades, deterrence was the cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy. ”
In recent years, I found myself while engaging friends and colleagues, liberals and conservative, about foreign policy challenges and demonstrations of either the abuse of the use of military power, or the limits of American power asking the question: Who was the last National Security Advisor with strategic heft? A large number would say Brent Scowcroft, who served in President George H.W Bush’s Administration. Others would mention Zbigniew Brzezinski who served in President Jimmy Carter’s Administration. Some would even go back to President Richard Nixon’s Administration by naming Henry Kissinger. NO one ever mentioned any National Security Advisor since Scowcroft. My unscientific survey, says something about the dearth of strategic thinking among U.S. “strategists” in almost a quarter of a century.
Doctrines and visions
American presidents are prone to articulating ‘Doctrines’ to explain and conduct foreign policy, particularly following major crises or wars. Some of these doctrines were well defined and pursued by more than one president, from the Monroe doctrine aimed at preventing European colonization and/or intervention in the Western Hemisphere, to the Truman Doctrine which committed the U.S. to helping states threatened by Soviet power or communists insurgencies, and later George Kennan’s doctrine of Containment, of the Soviet Union which guided American presidents from Truman until the end of the Cold War. After WWII, almost every U.S. president articulated a doctrine or a grand strategy in various degrees of coherence, and some of them were followed through by succeeding presidents. One could say that the decision by President George Herbert Walker Bush to ‘stand up’ against Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait was in the spirit of implementing the ‘Carter Doctrine’ which stated that the U.S. will use military force if necessary to defend its national interests in the Gulf.
The ‘Reagan Doctrine’ which dominated the last decade of the Cold War aimed at ‘rolling back’ regimes supported by the Soviet Union in Latin America, Africa and Asia. The way that doctrine was applied in Afghanistan, had devastating impact on the Soviet Union and contributed to its ultimate demise.
Bush’s A-team
President George H.W Bush, who had one of the best foreign policy teams in recent decades, benefitted greatly from the strategic heft and political dexterity of his two close advisors and friends, James Baker his Secretary of State, and Brent Scowcroft, as well as Colin Powell his Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. During that phase of his life, then Secretary of Defense Dick Chaney was a team player, and in fact Cheney supported Bush’s decision in 1991 not occupy Baghdad and topple Saddam Hussein following the liberation of Kuwait. Cheney, as the chief executive of the oil company Halliburton opposed sanctioning Iran and pushed for U.S. oil interests in the Islamic Republic.
“The president has become very sensitive to criticism of his policies towards Syria or the Ukraine. ”
Hisham Melhem
President Bush and his team used limited military force judiciously in Panama in 1989, and built the best and most effective international military coalition since WWII to drive Iraqi forces from Kuwait in 1991. Watching and covering Secretary Baker building the international coalition, negotiating with the Iraqis, convincing and cajoling Arab leaders including “ Saddam’s buddy (Ali Abdullah) Saleh in Yemen to vote against him at the Security council” as he once told me, was like watching a slow moving tsunami that is not going to be stopped by any obstacle. President Bush’s handling of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany was a milestone in the history of American Diplomacy.
President Bush however, could not use his successes in foreign policy to articulate a coherent Grand Strategy that can explain and guide the U.S. in a changed world. He saw the liberation of Kuwait as a prelude to a “New World Order” for future generations, a “world where the rule of law, not the law of the jungle, governs the conduct of nations”. President Bush did not fully articulate the goals of this concept or how they could be accomplished, and allowed others, particularly critics and foes abroad to paint it as the new form of American hegemony. Most likely, in hindsight the “New World Order” was more of a wishful thinking on the part of Bush or an attractive catchphrase he could not resist.
Madeleine's War
President Bill Clinton’s attempts at articulating a doctrine or a grand strategy were rudimentary and tentative. He could not even come up with an attractive name for his doctrine, known as the “doctrine of enlargement”, which he based on the concept of enlarging the community of market democracies around the world, including the new emerging states following the breakup of the Soviet Union, and embracing free trade, and a greater reliance on multilateral cooperation in handling crisis through peacekeeping missions, and a vague commitment to intervening in international crises if the price is not high. The doctrine of enlargement included also a sub-doctrine to contain and to confront a number of “outlaw states” that not only refuse to join the new family of states “but also assault its basic values.” This doctrine was articulated by Anthony Lake, Clinton’s National Security Advisor in an article he penned in 1994, titled “Confronting Backlash States”, published in Foreign Affairs, the same Journal George Kennan used to publish his famous X article about containing the Soviet Union. The "backlash" states were: Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Iraq and Libya.
President Clinton, resisted intervention in Rwanda, much to his chagrin later, and he was pushed to intervene to stop the mass killings in Bosnia and Kosovo by an outraged world and the strong urging of some of his senior aides particularly his Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Secretary Albright’s identification with the war option was so strong to the point that when things went wrong during the fighting, critics within the Clinton’s Administration would called it “Madeleine's War."
George W. Bush’s Freedom Agenda
In his Second Inaugural Address, President George W. Bush pledged America to the extremely unrealistic goal of “ending tyranny in the world”. Spreading the “Freedom Agenda” was the antidote to “terrorists' ideology of hatred”. While it was commendable that Bush admitted that the U.S. in the past was in bed with the nasty dictators of the Arab and Muslim world during the Cold War, and did so in the name of stability, the free flow of oil and confronting the Soviet Union, and that he will put an end to this misguided approach, his actual policies undermined his outlandish vision. The whole Freedom and Democracy promotion was irretrievably tarnished because of its identification with the Iraq invasion and subsequent blunders. The dream of building a democracy in Iraq was to be buried later in the harsh Iraqi desert, just as the dream of promoting representative governments throughout the Arab World through multi-party elections, was to be highjacked by the Islamists (including armed factions in Lebanon and Iraq) who kept winning the elections that the Bush Administration were pushing in the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq. After these electoral gains by the Islamists, the rhetoric of the Freedom Agenda in Washington began to disappear.
Obama’s inheritance
President Obama won the nomination of his party because of his opposition of the Iraq war, and the election because of the worst economic crisis since the great depression. Obama’s leadership style in managing international crisis and challenges to U.S. interests is colored by his visceral opposition to the use of force except in extreme cases, (and when it is relatively safe and not costly, as we see in his reliance of the use of drones) and most importantly by the lessons that it seems he has overlearned from the two wars he inherited from his predecessor, particularly the Iraq war.
The president, a cautious, contemplative man by nature, would become during tough crisis immobilized by his reluctance to be decisive, and by his tendency to overanalyze risks and options. His disastrous handling of the horrific war in Syria is a case in point. Last summer Obama broke a cardinal rule most American presidents lived by; the President always deliver on his threats. When the Syrian dictator Assad crossed Obama’s infamous “red line “and gassed his own people, the failure of Obama to deliver on his public threat that he will use force to punish the Assad regime, was tantamount to an act of capitulation. This monumental blunder, more than anything else is the reason why Obama’s standing in the Middle East has suffered an irrevocable setback. An American President unsheathes his sword, but would not dare use it against a small time despot engaging in the wholesale murder of his people and turning the Eastern Mediterranean region into a killing zone.
Syria and Iraq
In few days the president will hear the pleas from Mr. Ahmad al-Jarba the leader of the Syrian opposition coalition for more robust support and lethal weapons including shoulder held anti-aircraft missiles. But it is very unlikely that the President will provide such supplies, and will limit the support to logistics, communication gear, food and medicine. There were reports that the US did provide the opposition with American TOW anti-tank missiles, but informed sources said the number was very limited, and the U.S. does not intend to provide any support that could shift the balance of power to the opposition. A cynical view that cannot totally be discredited says that the U.S. would like to see the “moderate” rebels use their guns against the Extremists killers of groups such as ISIS and al-Nusra Front.
Obama was so eager to get out of Iraq that he did not try very hard personally to reach an agreement with the Nuri al-Maliki’s government to keep a U.S. residual force to help check Iraq’s descent towards autocracy or civil strife and to help combat terrorism. That goal was worthy, even for someone who opposed the war. Today, the U.S. is arming an autocrat, who is beholding to Iranian and not American influence, and who is brazenly allowing Iran to arm the Assad regime, and sending Iraqi militiamen to fight along his side against the rebels that the U.S. is helping. Nowhere is the perception, that the President of the United States is timid, tentative, and unfocused as strong as in the Middle East. And yes it is painful but true that some Arab and Israeli leaders treat the American president with contempt, something that I have never heard regarding any previous president.
Words, words, words
Some of president Obama’s speeches on national security and the foreign policy goals he would like to accomplish are memorable and certainly moving. His speeches in 2009 in Oslo when he received the Nobel peace prize, and in Cairo when he called for “a new beginning” with the Arab and Muslim worlds were well received internationally. But the president, when faced with the tough demands of dealing with a whole Arab world in tumult following the beginning of the season of popular uprisings, he flinched and limited his role in that crucial region. Initially the president wanted to engage former enemies like Iran and Syria, pursue peace between the Palestinians and Israel and a “reset” of the policy with Russia. Later, he wanted to “pivot” towards East Asia from the nightmares of the Middle East. Most of these hopes have been dashed, although it is too early to say whether the nuclear talks with Iran will succeed. Some of Obama’s critics would say that he will either accept a deal that may not be accepted by Congress, or he will kick the can down the road, just to avoid a military confrontation.
Will that tight circle be unbroken?
President Obama, notwithstanding his lofty speeches, where he set unrealistic expectations, never managed to articulate a coherent strategic vision for America’s role in a more complex world. One get the impression that the president feels that he has to deal with foreign policy issues, and that his inclination is to ignore the hot crisis or deny their urgency as we see in his lackadaisical approach to Syria. For example the lack of a coherent strategy in Syria that links a resolution of that conflict to the situation in Iraq, that has a component to stem Iranian influence and meddling in Lebanon and Iraq, and the lack of a forceful U.S. leadership in Europe to punish Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, is the reason why the Obama Administration is pursuing a reactive muddling through policies from the Middle East to Ukraine.
Unlike President George H.W Bush, Obama never surrounded himself with strategists from outside his tight circle of advisors who worked with him before he was elected. He values loyalty more than strong unvarnished advice from his aides. Last year when Susan Rice, Obama’s National Security Advisor supervised a policy review to determine America’s future in the Middle East, which ended up with setting a lower profile for the United States, she did so with only about half a dozen of aides from the National Security Council and the White House. She would brief separately both secretaries of State and Defense. This would have been unthinkable for President George H. W Bush, or other president for that matter. President Obama or his staff at the White House kept officials with strategic stature like the late Richard Holbrook and George Mitchell outside the tight little circle of former congressional staffers with little experience in foreign affairs.
The president has become very sensitive to criticism of his policies towards Syria or the Ukraine. He always frame the issues in Manichaean terms; either the use of American military forces, or doing nothing. When he was asked during his recent Asia trip a question about America’s “weakness” he snapped “why is it that everybody is so eager to use military force”, while in fact no serious expert on Syria or Ukraine advocating dispatching American troops.
Recently the President was thinking out loud during a visit to California about his frustration because of the plight of the ”young girls in Nigeria or the children caught up in the conflict in Syria” and how he would like to save them, and what levers and powers to use to do so. Then he added that the use of American power is not enough and it is not the only option. Then, remarkably, Mr. Obama said “by keeping memories alive, by telling stories, by hearing those stories, we can do our part” to save lives.
Mr. President, this is catharsis, not a solution, and definitely not leadership.

Canada: National Day of Honour commemorates mission in Afghanistan
CBCCBC – Fri, 9 May, 2014.
Stephen Good and Mark Pusztai have marked Jan. 7 as a day of remembrance since 2009.
That was the year their brother, Trooper Brian Richard Good, was killed by roadside bomb north of Kandahar at the age of 42.
"I always worried about him, right. But it's one of those things," Good said. "I didn't think it would end like this. Nobody ever thinks that."
The National Day of Honour on May 9 gives Good and Pusztai another day to pay tribute to their brother — and all the other men and women who were killed or wounded during Canada's 12-year military mission in Afghanistan. The 40,000 who fought and the 158 who died will be honoured during a national ceremony on Parliament Hill.
"It's not an every year event. It's a one time — and that's what I kind of like about it," Good said. "It seals the mission."
Brian Good was a brother, husband and father of two.
"He was a loving family man who was taken from us too soon," Pusztai said.
"There's a family behind every soldier," Good said. "I think it's important that people realize the sacrifice of all of our troops, whether it's military or police or paramedics, diplomats or [members] of Foreign Affairs — everybody who was out there trying to help out."
Good has a message for his brother: "You'll always be remembered. And I love you."
Brian Good Avenue in Ottawa's Riverside South community will make sure of that, he said.
"The Brian Good name will stick around for a while, which is nice," he said.
The National Day of Honour also pays tribute to a Canadian diplomat, a Department of National Defence contractor, an embedded Canadian journalist and more than 40 United States Armed Forces members who were killed while under Canadian command in Afghanistan.
A team of injured veterans will also arrive on Parliament Hill on Friday at the end of a trek from Canadian Forces Base Trenton. Members of the Solider On relay have been carrying a specially constructed baton that holds the last Canadian flag to fly at ISAF Headquarters in Kabul. It will be presented to Prime Minister Stephen Harper during the ceremony.
The parade is set to begin at 12:30 p.m. ET in front of the Canadian War Museum and proceed along Wellington Street all the way to Parliament Hill. It will include Canadian Armed Forces personnel, RCMP members, local police officers and civilians who took part in the mission in Afghanistan.
Governor General David Johnston will receive the parade at 1 p.m., along with a vice-regal inspection and a 21-gun salute.
At 1:30 p.m., a single gun shot will signal two minutes of silence, which will be capped off with a Royal Canadian Air Force flyby.

Question: "How can it be said that we have everlasting life when we still die?"

Answer: The Word of God assures us that all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ will have everlasting life (John 3:16; 6:47; 1 John 5:13). The Greek word translated “everlasting” means “perpetual, eternal, forever.” Perhaps the word perpetual best explains the biblical concept of everlasting life; it is life that, once begun, continues perpetually into eternity. This speaks to the idea that man’s life is not merely physical. Rather, the true life of human beings is spiritual, and while the physical life ends, the spiritual continues throughout eternity. It is perpetual.
When God created Adam and Eve, He put them in the Garden with the tree of life, intending that they would live joyously forever, both physically and spiritually, but they sinned and brought physical and spiritual death to themselves and to all subsequent generations (Romans 5:12–14). God then sent Adam and Eve from the Garden and stationed cherubim to guard the way to the tree of life, and He did so because in His mercy He did not want man to live forever under the weight of sin. But sin must be punished and the only acceptable punishment to a holy God is everlasting punishment (Mark 9:43–44). However, our merciful God sent His Son as a perfect sacrifice to suffer, once for all time, the punishment due mankind for sin, thereby providing a perfect way to the tree of life for anyone and everyone who believes in Him (1 John 5:12; Revelation 22:14).
We receive everlasting life by dying to our own efforts and receiving Christ Jesus into our hearts as our Lord and Savior, and, when we do, we are instantly reborn and made alive in Christ. We may not feel any immediate change, but there has in fact been a rebirth in the heart (John 3:6–7), and we are now free of the fear of death; we have the promise of God that we will never die spiritually, but instead will live forever with our Lord Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:9–10). Later, when we die physically, our soul will immediately be with the Lord, and still later, when He returns, the Lord will resurrect our bodies to meet Him in the air. As for those Christians who are alive at His return, their bodies will be changed “in the twinkle of an eye,” and they will not experience even physical death (1 Corinthians 15:51–52).
Jesus Christ instructed the Apostle John to write the last book of the Bible, and therein we again read about the tree of life: “To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God'” (Revelation 2:7b). The tree of life in Revelation is symbolic of Jesus Christ. It is in Christ that all Christians trust, and it is in God’s power that we rest, assured of our everlasting life (1 Peter 1:3–5). The one true God who created all things, including life and death and rebirth, will keep His Word. Our God is all-powerful and full of grace and truth (John 1:14), and He wants us to know that our eternal state is assured: Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies” (John 11:25).

100,000 Civilians Flee Jihadist Clashes in Syria
Naharnet/More than 100,000 civilians have fled the eastern Syrian province of Deir Ezzor because of fierce clashes between rival jihadist groups, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday.
The British-based monitoring group also said the clashes between al-Qaida affiliate Al-Nusra Front and the rival Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) had killed 230 militants in the last 10 days.
Of those, 146 were members of Al-Nusra and other Islamist brigades, including some who were executed by ISIL. The clashes between the two groups in the oil-rich province began at the end of April and come after a wider backlash against ISIL that started in January. ISIL, which grew from al-Qaida's Iraq branch, has been the target of a joint campaign by moderate and Islamist rebels as well as Al-Nusra since early January. The campaign has pushed it out of much of Aleppo and Idlib provinces, though it has strengthened its presence in the provincial capital of Raqa province. ISIL was initially welcomed by some of the Syrian opposition, but its abuses of civilians and rebel forces sparked the backlash that begin this year. In February, ISIL withdrew from most of Deir Ezzor under pressure, but in recent weeks it has advanced once again, the Observatory said, regaining territory in the west of the province.
Source/Agence France Presse
West Warns Russia ahead of 'Illegal' East Ukraine Referendums
Naharnet /France and Germany Saturday threatened Russia with "consequences" if Moscow disrupts Ukrainian presidential elections later this month, stepping up diplomatic pressure on the eve of "illegal" referendums the West fears will split the country apart.
In a joint statement, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also urged Ukraine's security forces to stop their offensive on rebel-held positions in the run-up to the planned May 25 presidential part.
The warnings suggested the West might soon move to broaden its sanctions regime to include whole sections of the recession-threatened Russian economy.
But the call for the pro-Western government in Kiev to roll back its military action echoes a similar statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, who set that as his condition for backing the presidential election.
"If the internationally recognized presidential elections do not take place on May 25, this would destabilize the country further. France and Germany believe that in this case, appropriate consequences should be drawn," indicating tougher sanctions, Hollande and Merkel said.
Paris and Berlin said "proportionate" force should be used to protect people and buildings as Kiev battles to wrest back control of more than a dozen towns and cities in eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russian insurgents.
However, they stressed that "the Ukrainian security services should refrain from offensive actions before the election".
The two leaders also called for a "visible" withdrawal of Russian troops from the Ukrainian border after NATO disputed Putin's claims he had pulled back his estimated 40,000 servicemen.
Ukraine's interim president Oleksandr Turchynov said that Kiev was "ready for negotiations" with representatives from the eastern region but "not terrorists whose mission is to destroy the country".
He said voting for independence would be a "step into the abyss" for these regions and lead to the "total destruction" of the economy there.
But the head of the separatists in the flashpoint eastern town of Slavyansk, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, told reporters that "if the junta (the Ukrainian government) doesn't withdraw its troops, there will be no discussions".
The crisis "for now" would not prevent France selling two Mistral warship to Russia, Hollande said.
Meanwhile, preparations were in full swing for the disputed referendums in the two eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, home to 7.3 million of Ukraine's total population of 46 million.
Merkel and Hollande dismissed the referendums as "illegal", amid Western fears they will hasten the break-up of Ukraine and could lead to all-out civil war on Europe's fringes.
Voters in Sunday's referendums will be asked if they support the creation of two independent republics that many see as a prelude to joining Russia, as happened in Crimea.
"I think that the turnout will be 100 percent," Ponomaryov told reporters in Slavyansk.
Immediately after the referendum, "the Republic of Donetsk will begin to function" and cultivate "friendly relations" with Russia, he added.
But another rebel leader, Roman Lyagin from Donetsk, said: "If the answer is yes, it does not necessarily mean that we will be joining Russia."
A poll released Thursday by the Pew Research Center in the United States suggested 70 percent of Ukrainians in the east want to stay in a united country, while only 18 percent back secession.
In a sudden about-face Wednesday that stunned the world, Putin called on the rebels to postpone the referendums to allow dialogue to take place to ease the worst East-West crisis since the end of the Cold War. But the insurgents immediately snuffed out the brief glimmer of hope, vowing to press ahead with the votes. One rebel manning barricades in Donetsk where there was a sign reading "the referendum is the will of the people", told Agence France Presse his job was to stop pro-Kiev "provocateurs" from spoiling the vote. "We are going to kill them, we are going to cut them, they are bastards, we are going to kill them and hang them from the lamp posts," said the man, who gave his name as Nikolai.
Underscoring the tensions, rebels briefly detained a group of Red Cross staff in Donetsk, believing them to be spies. Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague said that recent events had shown that Putin had lost his grip on the Ukrainian situation.
Putin "seems to have unleashed forces that he cannot control. Armed thugs with modern weapons are stirring old tensions and stoking new hatreds," Hague said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.
While the diplomatic pressure on Russia intensified, the situation on the ground in Ukraine remained combustible as the southern city of Mariupol observed a day of mourning for up to 21 people killed in clashes on Friday between Ukrainian authorities and pro-Russian separatists.
An AFP reporter in Mariupol said passions were running high as the rebels set alight a captured Ukrainian army armored vehicle, causing the ammunition inside to explode.
A crowd of several hundred pro-Russians had gathered around the town hall and smoke billowed from a barricade of burning tires.
Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on his official Facebook page that the chief of the city's police force had been captured and snipers had been active during Friday's violence, which occurred as Ukraine commemorated the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.
He put the death toll from the near-two-hour combat at 20 rebels and one policeman, while another four policemen were wounded and four rebels were captured. That sent the death toll from recent unrest to more than 100.
In addition to the 21 dead in Mariupol, some 14 troops have been killed and 66 servicemen wounded in Ukrainian army assaults on the rebels.
The fighting has also claimed the lives of more than 30 insurgents. Clashes that resulted in a horrific inferno in the southern port city of Odessa last week claimed another 42 lives, most of them pro-Russian activists.
Source/Agence France Presse