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Daily Briefing: WILL BIDEN RETURN TO THE JCPOA?

Jews Of No Religion And The War On Hanukkah Jonathan Tobin, JNS,Dec. 8, 2020 Why should anyone care that a woman who describes herself as “not Jewish” doesn’t think it’s worth the bother to teach her children about Hanukkah?
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Cropped official portrait of Vice President Joe Biden in his West Wing Office at the White House, Jan. 10, 2013. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann) (Wikipedia)

Table Of Contents:

Israel’s Role in Helping the Biden Administration Set Policy Towards Iran:  Maj. Gen. (ret) Yaacov Amidror, JISS, Nov. 24, 2020


Mideast Allies Fear Return Of ‘Obama Doctrine’: Vivian Bercovici, National Post, Nov. 26, 2020

Susan Rice Returns:  Jed Babbin, The Spectator, Dec. 13, 2020


Trump’s Black and Latino Voters:  Mario Loyola, WSJ, Nov. 12, 2020

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Israel’s Role in Helping the Biden Administration Set Policy Towards Iran
Maj. Gen. (ret) Yaacov Amidror
JISS, Nov. 24, 2020

Action is Needed Now

Strategic decisions and orientations which emerge during presidential transition periods often have a formative effect on key policy issues. Thus, President Obama’s transition team decided in 2008-2009 to abandon the obligations contained in the 2004 Bush letter to Sharon; a move which set the stage for a serious breach with Israel on Palestinian issues for years to come.

Policy on Iran will be among Biden’s first challenges. Therefore, it is of vital importance for Israel to engage already now with key members of the incoming Biden team, such as Ron Klain, Anthony Blinken, Michelle Flournoy, and Jake Sullivan.

To the greatest extent possible, such approaches should be made jointly, or in very close coordination with, Israel’s new partners in the Gulf. These countries share Israel’s perspectives on the Iranian regional threat and on the need to block Tehran’s path to nuclear weapons.

This should be done under the general rubric of engaging with the US on the need for a viable negotiating position. After all, even in his controversial congressional speech of March 2015, Prime Minister Netanyahu made it clear that Israel does not rule out an agreement with Iran, and that an agreement significantly better than the JCPOA is possible.  

The Immediate Task: Retaining the Leverage of Sanctions

For Israel, for Iran skeptics in Washington, and for her partners in the region, the first operational priority is to persuade the incoming US national security team to maintain full leverage on Iran.

Sanctions against Iran should not be lifted as a “gesture” without a verified Iranian return to the status quo ante (at least) in terms of LEU stockpiles and ongoing enrichment activities.

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif’s siren song (as published in The New York Times) must not be listened to. Zarif speaks of engagement only if the US first removes sanctions. This would be the one sure way to bring about the collapse of any meaningful negotiations. A failure to sustain the current significant pressures on Iran will dramatically reduce, rather than enhance, the chances of reaching and implementing an acceptable agreement.

The Biden-Harris campaign has spoken of a return to the JCPOA; albeit, as Tony Blinken has suggested, in a “stronger and longer” version. This does not and should not commit the President-elect to accept Tehran’s terms and demands. Iran is now in undeniable breach of its obligations under the JCPOA, particularly in terms of the size of its enhanced uranium stockpile. The removal of this stockpile, and an end to all enrichment beyond JCPOA limits, must be a precondition for the easing of sanctions.

In parallel, this point should also be made by Congressional action, through legislation if possible or at least via a “Sense of the Congress” resolution underlining the need to negotiate from strength. Given the collapse of demand (and of prices) in the energy markets, the opportunity costs of retaining the sanctions are not too steep, and Europe can be encouraged to follow suit. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
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Mideast Allies Fear Return Of ‘Obama Doctrine’
Vivian Bercovici
National Post, Nov. 26, 2020

While North America endures U. S. President Donald Trump’s protracted swan- song tantrum, the Middle East is bracing for the likelihood of a sharp turn in foreign policy that may disrupt whatever stability there is in the region.

Monday morning headlines disclosed the pending nomination of Antony Blinken as president-elect Joe Biden’s choice for secretary of state, confirming speculation regarding one of the most important cabinet positions in the new U. S. government. An experienced diplomat, with clear partisan affiliation, Blinken is seen to be inclined to revive former president Barack Obama’s approach to foreign policy, which has many in the Middle East very concerned.

So concerned, in fact, that on Sunday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hopped on a private jet at Ben Gurion Airport with Mossad chief Yossi Cohen — setting off a minor scandal in Israel. Destination: Saudi Arabia.

Netanyahu, apparently, did not disclose to the Israel Defense Forces chief of staff — or any other key security or government officials — that he and Cohen were popping off to an enemy country for a tête- à- tête. Touching down for just over an hour on Sunday evening in the seaside town of Neom, the pair met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was wrapping up a quick sweep through the region to confer with key allies.

There is a view that Bibi and Cohen hoped to return with a commitment from MBS to formalize a normalization agreement with Israel before Biden’s inauguration, but that pipe dream was not to be.

Much more likely was that the Saudis and Israelis would share concerns — as they surely did — regarding a possible American policy shift and the immediate implications for regional security.

And that means one thing: containing Iran.

The polarization of American politics and foreign policy may have been exacerbated in the Trump years but by no means is it his legacy alone; he shares that distinction with his immediate predecessor, Barack Obama. In the Middle East, Trump’s character may not be admired but many of his policies are, whereas Obama’s administration was and is regarded with strong distrust.

Many regional powers — among them key U.S. allies — were threatened by the policy that became known as the “Obama doctrine.” In a nutshell, his Mideast foreign policy approach adhered to the view that America must re- channel its deployment of military and economic power in a more nuanced manner, and coax and tempt Iran with more carrots, fewer sticks. This, Obama was certain, would mellow the tyrannical ayatollahs and encourage them to rejoin the “family of nations.” … [To read the full article, click the following LINK– Ed.]
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Susan Rice Returns
Jed Babbin
The Spectator, Dec. 13, 2020

Presumptive president-elect Joe Biden is appointing a slew of Obama retreads to his cabinet and White House staff. Identity politics controls many of the choices: they will be “the first woman” or “the first black American” to hold a particular job, regardless of their personal merits.

By naming Susan Rice to be his chief domestic policy adviser, Biden is embracing — and rewarding — one of the worst.

As Obama’s UN ambassador and later his national security adviser, Rice stands alone as the worst and most consistent liar this side of Hillary Clinton.

In 1996 the late, great William Safire called Hillary a “congenital liar.” Rice is different. Her lies are pathological, not congenital.

To plumb the depths of Rice’s deceit, we need to go back to the September 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. embassy and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya, and then flash forward to her “unmasking” of Trump associates during the infamous “Crossfire Hurricane” counterintelligence “investigation” into Trump’s campaign and his 2017 transition.

In the March 2013 edition of The American Spectator magazine, R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. and I wrote a rather long piece setting forth the lies and failures of Rice and the Obama team in making the Benghazi attacks likely and then trying to spin their way out of blame for them. The following is a condensed version of what we wrote then.

There was an American consulate in Benghazi and a CIA annex less than two miles away. Unusually, the consulate was manned by a U.S. ambassador, Christopher Stevens, as well as staff including agents of the Diplomatic Security Service who were there to protect him. There was no detachment of Marines there to protect the consulate and the ambassador.

For months before the attacks, the CIA was warning that both facilities were vulnerable to attacks from the large terrorist cells, which numbered about a dozen, within the Benghazi city limits. The intelligence community warned then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of these circumstances and the local security force commander repeatedly requested reinforcements.

Clinton denied them. Her denial of reinforcements continued after even after the British ambassador’s car was attacked in June and other consulates were attacked over the summer.

What’s even worse, no nearby U.S. military forces were put on alert. However, the Obama administration tried to spin it, that failure was criminal negligence.

Because Islamic terrorists like to celebrate past attacks by making new ones on the anniversary of the first, it was likely that an attack would come on September 11, 2012. Because no military forces were alerted and positioned to respond to possible attacks on the Benghazi facilities, they were unprepared for the attacks.

No aircraft were on alert at either the U.S. Air Force base at Aviano, Italy (about 1,100 miles from Benghazi) or the Naval Air Station at Sigonella, which is even closer to Benghazi (about 480 miles). No tanker aircraft were positioned to refuel fighters coming out of Italy. No U.S. ground forces were put on alert. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
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Trump’s Black and Latino Voters
Mario Loyola
WSJ, Nov. 12, 2020

Trump supporters hold signs on the third day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, July 20, 2016. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)
He lost the election, but he has helped point the way to a big-tent GOP majority.

In the recent election, President Donald Trump lost Wisconsin by about 20,000 votes and Michigan by about 150,000. These are two states where his 2016 performance among working-class whites had shattered the supposed “blue wall” and helped him win an improbable victory. It will take some time to understand why his performance among that same demographic proved so anemic this time around, but whatever the reasons, they almost certainly cost him the presidency.

In fact, the result wouldn’t have been as close if not for Trump’s success courting blacks and Hispanics. He significantly improved his performance among blacks from 2016, winning some 18 percent of black male voters — a modern record for a Republican.

His success with Hispanics was even more astounding. Overall, he increased his support among Hispanics to 35 percent, significantly above his 2016 result, which was already surprisingly high. Among Hispanics whose families came to the U.S. fleeing socialist dictatorships (chiefly Cubans, Venezuelans, and Nicaraguans), support for Trump skyrocketed by almost 50 percent over his 2016 tally, enough to put Florida well out of reach for Democrats.

That made the 2020 election a bit dispiriting for many Democrats, despite their victory. On Election Night, best-selling writer Kurt Eichenwald worried that Cuban Americans who came to this country to escape a dictatorship might be plunging America into another dictatorship, “and only because they’ve been brainwashed to believe [D]emocrats are socialists.”

But one needs no brainwashing to associate today’s Democrats with socialism — they do that themselves. The most galvanizing candidate of the last two Democratic primaries was Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist who thinks Americans were unfair to Fidel Castro. Prominent young Democrats such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also identify as socialist. And that is not the only rhetorical flourish she shares with Venezuela’s socialist thugs; her critiques of capitalism are identical to those of Hugo Chávez.

Hispanics who fled such places know well enough that in a real dictatorship, the dictator dominates all the institutions of the state and brooks no opposition in the government. They know that in a real dictatorship, people are afraid to say what they think even to friends and family, and critics of the regime are taken away in the middle of the night. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
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For Further Reference:

Netanyahu: ‘Business As Usual With Iran’ Will Be Mistake WIN, Dec. 13, 2020 – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said it would be a mistake “to go back to business as usual with Iran,” signaling Israeli resistance to an expected push by President-elect Joe Biden to revive the international nuclear deal with Iran.

Biden May Stay Out Of JCPOA For Now, Leverage US Sanctions:  Ariel Kahana, Israel Hayom, Dec. 14, 2020 — Although president-elect Joe Biden’s foreign policy team has publicly said that the new administration would seek to re-enter the Iran nuclear deal and make it “longer and better,” according to new information obtained by Israel Hayom, several advisers to the future president have been pushing for a new approach that favors embracing some of President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy components.

Podcast:  The Democrats Have A Problem:  Commentary Magazine, Nov. 17, 2020 — 2020 Election Superstar Steve Kornacki joins our podcast today to discuss the fascinating and unprecedented political situation now facing Joe Biden—with what is likely to be a Republican Senate and a teeny-tiny Democratic majority in the House. How can he govern? Also, I complain about Nate Silver. Give a listen.

Georgia Senate Candidates Exchange Accusations Of Anti-Semitism And White Supremacy JTA, Dec. 7, 2020 — The two candidates in a critical runoff election for the U.S. Senate exchanged charges of associations with anti-Semites and white supremacists during a televised debate Sunday night.

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