A Week Of Squirrels And Nuts Continues . . .

I’ve stayed away from the whole “Donald Trump wants to ban Muslims” thing, but this story is just too good to pass up. Anything that causes human cyborg Dick Cheney to have a human reaction is a rare and wondrous thing indeed.

Former vice president Dick Cheney was one of many who condemned Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States.

“I think this whole notion that somehow we can just say no more Muslims, just ban a whole religion, goes against everything we stand for and believe in,” Cheney told Hugh Hewitt on Hewitt’s conservative radio show Monday. “I mean, religious freedom has been a very important part of our history and where we came from. A lot of people, my ancestors got here, because they were Puritans.” He added: “There wasn’t anybody here then when they came,” leaving him open to criticism for dismissing the existence of Native Americans.

Way to ruin it there at the end, Mr. Cylon. But for a brief moment you really did have me believing you were an actual human.

And then in the very next paragraph, the warm Dick Cheney moment was blown to smithereens. Literally.

Cheney then made the case for re-invading parts of the Middle East to destroy the Islamic State, which he referred to by the acronym “ISIS.”

“What’s going on in the Middle East is the result of a U.S. vacuum,” Cheney said. “It’s the result of the rise of ISIS, civil war in Syria. I’ve heard proposals that I think make sense that we ought to establish safety zones, if you will, in the northern part of Syria where you’ve got them secured, you’ve got sufficient forces, hopefully of locals that would be there to protect, the area, but that’s where people who are fleeing the terrible tragedy that’s going on inside the caliphate, a place where they could reside.”
Pointing out that the Islamic State is “far bigger than al Qaeda ever was by itself,” he added: “I think you have to go back, ultimately, and if you’re going to be successful in ultimately defeating ISIS, and destroy ISIS, which I think has to be your objective, you’re going to have to shut down the caliphate.”

It was a nice moment while it lasted, but now it’s just a memory. Sigh.

OMG, Ben Carson Has A Plan

Today’s Post op-ed page has an amazing piece on what to do about ISIS. It’s amazing for two reasons.

First and foremost, why would the Post put a foreign policy article by a retired pediatric neurosurgeon in the prime real estate of its most coveted space? As others have written, who Fred Hiatt puts on that page says more about the Post than it does the author.

Second and related, the article claims to be Carson’s “plan to defeat the Islamic State.” But it’s not. It’s a one stop bazaar to catch as many platitudes and buzzwords as possible. It’s such an overstuffed extra large grande burrito of stupid that Chipotle would fire the guy who made it.

Let’s take a stroll through the piece, shall we?

“We are at war.” I’m not sure we’re going to be out of this war until after I’m gone, and I’m not that old.

“An evil state of consciousness.” Dr. Ben won’t be exchanging holiday cards with ISIS, clearly. But why must US foreign policy always be about good and evil?  Can’t we just once have a war without invoking the Book of Revelations?

So now, on to the plan! Yay! Um, what?

To lead this fight, the United States must dramatically increase its efforts to appeal directly to the moderate Kurds, Syrians and Iraqis. We must convince them that the Islamic State poses a fundamental threat to their existence. And we must equip them with the means to convey that message to their people. This will require a multi-pronged communications strategy that leverages our strengths in media production and messaging, combined with cutting off traditional access routes to social media for radical Islamist groups.

We have in place both the technical and legal capabilities to prohibit the widespread dissemination of hate-based propaganda disguised as religious teaching. We can monitor social media by expanding the search algorithms already in place to safeguard against inappropriate behavior, including religious hate speech. Once flagged, we can notify platform providers and encourage them to censor communications (and block users) that violate the terms of constructive discourse. The hacker group Anonymous has already provided a model for accomplishing this. We should use every tool at our disposal to root out and destroy the global online recruitment efforts of these extremist organizations. We must not allow their macabre murder videos and threats to be promoted anywhere.

Win the war with Facebook?!? And Twitter? First off , it’s a preposterous idea. Second, good luck getting these companies to sign up for a war. They’re not going to help, and in many cases they can’t.

The rest is meaningless babbling.

“Islamic State poses a fundamental threat”

And my favorite sentence of the whole thing: “multi-pronged communications strategy that leverages our strengths in media production and messaging, combined with cutting off traditional access routes to social media for radical Islamist groups.”

Some young guy who thinks he’s hot shit because he has an MBA in management and can create a kickass PowerPoint presentation wrote that twaddle, which packs more bullshit per square inch than a large cow pasture. If there’s anything resembling a plan in those words, I’m not seeing it.

So what’s next? Back to the platitudes, of course.

The Islamic State is on the offensive, and we must do more to counter their fighters and eviscerate their infrastructure. But this also means identifying and cutting off their sources of supply and funding — namely the oil fields along Syria’s eastern border. We need to either destroy the fields with airstrikes or take them and hold them with a coalition of local (Iraqi, Turkish and Kurdish) ground troops and Western military advisers and Special Operations forces. The United States can lead the way in developing a political framework and military strategy that enables this to happen. Ongoing military and economic development assistance to these nations would have to be tied to their cooperation in securing the Syrian oil fields.

Blow up the oil fields? Doesn’t say how, and doesn’t say what kind of environmental catastrophe that would cause. See Kuwait, 1990. And honestly, from what I can tell, ISIS’ funding is largely based on foreign contributions, not black market oil sales.

“The United States can lead the way in developing a political framework and military strategy that enables this to happen.” I thought that was what Carson is supposed to be doing in this article? All I’ve heard so far is freeze out their Twitter accounts and blow up the oil fields.

Last point here. Suggesting that we “take and hold [the oil fields] with a coalition of local (Iraqi, Turkish and Kurdish) ground troops and Western military advisers and Special Operations forces.” News flash, doc, the Turks and the Kurds? They hate each other. The Turks have been trying to wipe out the Kurds for centuries, up to and including RIGHT NOW, when they are allegedly on the SAME SIDE. That won’t be a coalition – our Special Ops guys will be sitting between two armies who want to kill each other more than they want to bring down ISIS. Nothing could possibly go wrong there.

We also need enhanced security on our borders. We need to take additional steps to ensure that terrorists from the Middle East do not infiltrate and use refugee status to slip into the United States, which is among the countries that the Islamic State wants desperately to strike directly. But it can’t simply end with defending our borders. As a leader in the fight against Islamist extremism, the United States has certain responsibilities toward the millions of Syrians and Iraqis who have been terrorized by the Islamic State.

While we should not open U.S. borders to refugees at this time, we should encourage the establishment of sanctuary zones in the contested areas of Iraq and Syria. These zones would be administered and controlled by local moderate forces, with financial support and military coordination provided by Western countries. This would not involve a significant on-the-ground presence of Western armies. But we would provide humanitarian aid in the form of shelter, food, water and medical care to fleeing refugees.

Much shorter version, could have saved words: “build a wall that has nothing to do with the Middle East, and keep those icky brown people over there in sanctuary cities.”

Big finish (jargon in bold):

Now, more than ever, the United States must be willing to lead the free world. We need to restore America’s standing by winning over the hearts and minds of populations affected by radical Islamist violence. And to do that we need to create a winning strategy to dismantle and destroy the Islamic State while planting seeds for a more peaceful, healthy and cohesive society in the war-torn regions of the Middle East.

Did he say “hearts and minds“? No, I must have misread that. He did not say “hearts and minds.” OMG, he DID.

I bet the MBA whiz kid probably envisioned making a nice tag cloud and then spending months refining and improving it. Alas, he was sent to Cedar Rapids last week to deliver yard signs. Them’s the breaks sometimes.  

So to recap: freeze their social media, blow up the oil fields, get the Turks and the Kurds to work together, and win the hearts and minds of Iraqis, Turks, and Kurds, ??????????, win. Good plan. Let’s put this article aside and discuss it again in a couple of weeks, okay? Thanks for your input. 

Bigoted, Stupid – And Illegal

So we have our first wave of concerted efforts by Republicans to respond to the terror attacks in Paris last Friday. I’m sure it’s going to be very thoughtful, taking into account all of the competing interests at stake.

Ha ha. No. 14 states, all but one with a Republican governor, have announced that they will attempt to stop the repost ion of Syrian refugees within their states.

Governors across the country are scrambling to close off their states to resettled Syrian refugees in the wake of the deadly terror attacks in Paris that are linked to Islamic State extremists.

The list of states climbed quickly to 14 by Monday afternoon, after President Obama said that the U.S. would continue to accept refugees and denounced efforts to stop those fleeing violence from coming to the United States as “shameful.”

Governors of Illinois, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Arizona, Indiana, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Michigan, Alabama, Texas, Georgia and Arkansas — a majority of them Republican — have said that they are seeking to stop the relocation of new Syrian refugees to their states out of fear that violent extremists posing as refugees might gain entry to the country.

Hey, Washington Post, 13 out of 14 is not best described as a “majority,” unless the word “overwhelming” is put in front of majority. Both sides do not do it, mmmkay? That is false reporting by any stretch of the imagination.

Republicans also are calling for Muslim refugees from Syria to be barred from coming to the US, but Christians are OK.

Sen. Ted Cruz Sunday continued to call for Muslim refugees from Syria to be barred from entering the United States but opening the borders to displaced Christians, arguing there is not a “meaningful risk” that Christians will commit terrorist acts.

“There is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror. If there were a group of radical Christians pledging to murder anyone who had a different religious view than they, we would have a different national security situation,” Cruz (R-Tex.) told reporters in a middle school gym here.

“But it is precisely the Obama administration’s unwillingness to recognize that or ask those questions that makes them so unable to fight this enemy. Because they pretend as if there is no religious aspect to this,” he said.

Presidential candidates Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson and Bernie Sanders all spoke about strategies to confront terrorism in the wake of the attacks in Paris.
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush also said Sunday that any assistance going to refugees from the Middle East should be concentrated on Christians.

“We should focus our efforts as it relates to refugees on the Christians that are being slaughtered,” he told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Cruz did not say how he would determine that refugees were Christian or Muslim. He reiterated his assertion that it is “lunacy” to allow Muslim refugees into the United States, asserting that there is no way to know if they are aligned with the Islamic State.

Here’s the problem, apart from the immorality of the twin pillars of intolerance suggested by the bigoted GOP candidates: there’s no ability for the states to bar immigrants lawfully admitted to the US from coming to their state. Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U.S. 52 (1941).

So they’re proposing a moronic and stupid policy, that demonstrates bigotry on both a cultural and religious level, and it’s one they have no power to enact. All in less than 72 hours.

We’re off to a great start. Anyone wanna bet how long it takes for someone to propose using nuclear weapons? Right now I’d give it about a week.

What To Do About ISIS – And What Not To Do

A hundred million years ago, I was an undergraduate international relations major, primarily focusing on US-Soviet relations, Russian history and security studies. Isn’t it great that two out of the three became totally obsolete within five years of my graduation in 1985? (My parents were so pleased with their investment that I paid for law school myself. That investment worked out just a bit better). Russian history is always going to have some relevance (if nothing else as a good excuse to drink security studies came back in vogue after 9/11, but trust me, what I learned and what the authoritarian daddy yahoos are teaching today bear no resemblance to each other.

But I also learned about general concepts, like how states relate to each other in the international arena, what are the rules and norms of international law, and a smattering of intelligence concepts like blowback, unintended consequences and the problems presented by American exceptionalism in the modern age. And when we talked about “non-state actors” in the 1980s, we were thinking about multinational corporations that acted across international boundaries. “Terrorism” meant the German Baader-Meinhoff gang, or the Red Brigades in Italy. What we call terrorism today didn’t exist, nor did the idea of a non-state entity like ISIS having de facto sovereignty over parts of several countries.

I think these new developments in the past 15 years have utterly flummoxed the world of international relations. We can’t use traditional descriptions or norms to analyze ISIS and al-Qaeda and other groups, because they aren’t playing by the rules the world has developed over many decades and even centuries. And in the case of the United States, the fact that fundamentalist factions in the Arab countries we call “allies” have been funding and encouraging the development of these non-state actors has been completely ignored. We ignored that inconvenient fact after 9/11, we continued to ignore it in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and we continue to ignore it today.

So when we talk about “what to do now” and “how do we respond,” this time we have to put all the facts in play, and not just deploy bombs and planes and other traditional military resources. We’re not going to defeat ISIS that way. So it’s time to tell Dick Cheney and that whole crew of soulless vampires to go back to the land of the dead, and try something different.

As usual, Charles Pierce says all these things better than I can.

These are a few things that will not solve the terrible and tangled web of causation and violence in which the attacks of Friday night were spawned. A 242-ship Navy will not stop one motivated murderous fanatic from emptying the clip of an AK-47 into the windows of a crowded restaurant. The F-35 fighter plane will not stop a group of motivated murderous fanatics from detonating bombs at a soccer match. A missile-defense shield in Poland will not stop a platoon of motivated murderous fanatics from opening up in a jammed concert hall, or taking hostages, or taking themselves out with suicide belts when the police break down the doors. American soldiers dying in the sands of Syria or Iraq will not stop the events like what happened in Paris from happening again because American soldiers dying in the sands of Syria or Iraq will be dying there in combat against only the most obvious physical manifestation of a deeper complex of ancient causes and ancient effects made worse by the reach of the modern technology of bloodshed and murder. Nobody’s death is ever sacrifice enough for that.

Abandoning the Enlightenment values that produced democracy will not plumb the depths of the vestigial authoritarian impulse that resides in us all, the wish for kings, the desire for order, to be governed, and not to govern. Flexing and posturing and empty venting will not cure the deep sickness in the human spirit that leads people to slaughter the innocent in the middle of a weekend’s laughter. The expression of bigotry and hatred will not solve the deep desperation in the human heart that leads people to kill their fellow human beings and then blow themselves up as a final act of murderous vengeance against those they perceive to be their enemies, seen and unseen, real and imagined. Tough talk in the context of what happened in Paris is as empty as a bell rung at the bottom of a well.
Francois Hollande, the French president who was at the soccer game that was attacked, has promised that France will wage “pitiless war” against the forces that conceived and executed the attacks. Most wars are pitiless, but not all of them are fought with the combination of toughness and intelligence that this one will require. This was a lesson that the United States did not learn in the aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001. There are things that nations can do in response that are not done out of xenophobic rage and a visceral demand for revenge. There are things that nations can do in response that do not involve scapegoating the powerless and detaining the innocent. There is no real point in focusing a response on the people whose religion makes us nervous. States should retaliate against states.
It is long past time for the oligarchies of the Gulf states to stop paying protection to the men in the suicide belts. Their societies are stunted and parasitic. The main job of the elites there is to find enough foreign workers to ensla…er…indenture to do all the real work. The example of Qatar and the interesting business plan through which that country is building the facilities for the 2022 World Cup is instructive here. Roughly the same labor-management relationship exists for the people who clean the hotel rooms and who serve the drinks. In Qatar, for people who come from elsewhere to work, passports have been known to disappear into thin air. These are the societies that profit from terrible and tangled web of causation and violence that played out on the streets of Paris. These are the people who buy their safety with the blood of innocents far away.

It’s not like this is any kind of secret. In 2010, thanks to WikiLeaks, we learned that the State Department, under the direction of then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, knew full well where the money for foreign terrorism came from. It came from countries and not from a faith. It came from sovereign states and not from an organized religion. It came from politicians and dictators, not from clerics, at least not directly. It was paid to maintain a political and social order, not to promulgate a religious revival or to launch a religious war. Religion was the fuel, the ammonium nitrate and the diesel fuel. Authoritarian oligarchy built the bomb. As long as people are dying in Paris, nobody important is dying in Doha or Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest source of funds for Islamist militant groups such as the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba – but the Saudi government is reluctant to stem the flow of money, according to Hillary Clinton. “More needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups,” says a secret December 2009 paper signed by the US secretary of state. Her memo urged US diplomats to redouble their efforts to stop Gulf money reaching extremists in Pakistan and Afghanistan. “Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide,” she said. Three other Arab countries are listed as sources of militant money: Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. The cables highlight an often ignored factor in the Pakistani and Afghan conflicts: that the violence is partly bankrolled by rich, conservative donors across the Arabian Sea whose governments do little to stop them. The problem is particularly acute in Saudi Arabia, where militants soliciting funds slip into the country disguised as holy pilgrims, set up front companies to launder funds and receive money from government-sanctioned charities.
It’s time for this to stop. It’s time to be pitiless against the bankers and against the people who invest in murder to assure their own survival in power. Assets from these states should be frozen, all over the west. Money trails should be followed, wherever they lead. People should go to jail, in every country in the world. It should be done state-to-state. Stop funding the murder of our citizens and you can have your money back. Maybe. If we’re satisfied that you’ll stop doing it. And, it goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway – not another bullet will be sold to you, let alone advanced warplanes, until this act gets cleaned up to our satisfaction. If that endangers your political position back home, that’s your problem, not ours. You are no longer trusted allies. Complain, and your diplomats will be going home. Complain more loudly, and your diplomats will be investigated and, if necessary, detained. Retaliate, and you do not want to know what will happen, but it will done with cold, reasoned and, yes, pitiless calculation. It will not be a blind punch. You will not see it coming. It will not be an attack on your faith. It will be an attack on how you conduct your business as sovereign states in a world full of sovereign states.

The last paragraph is critical. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States are not our friend. That’s 1980s thinking, it’s Bush family dogma, and it’s no more relevant in 2015 than my expertise in US-Soviet relations. If I could come to terms with that, so can our country’s foreign policy and defense leadership. One would think, anyway.

It Begins

France has undertaken what is being described as “massive” air attacks against the Islamic State in Syria, less than 48 hours after the horrific events in Paris on Friday night.

PARIS — French warplanes struck Islamic State militants in Syria on Sunday, a French government official said, two days after attackers linked to the terrorist group carried out a coordinated assault on Paris that killed 129 people.

Prior to the attack on Paris, France had been sparing in its strikes against targets in Syria.

News reports in France said the airstrikes were focused on Raqqa, the city in northern Syria that is the self-proclaimed capital of the Islamic State.

The attackers in Friday’s terrorist assault in Paris communicated at some point beforehand with known members of the Islamic State in Syria, officials on both sides of the Atlantic say, adding evidence to the assertions that the radical group coordinated or helped carry out the attacks rather than simply inspired them.

I agree that Friday’s events were an act of war, and I get that Francois Hollande felt like he needed to do something, but that doesn’t mean that indiscriminate bombing in Syria is the answer. There are so many competing forces there right now that it’s impossible to know what effect a massive bombing campaign will have on the situation there. 

Clearly, nobody has learned anything from us. I just can’t help but think that this is going to end badly – if not right away, then years from now. You’d think after we armed the mujaheddin in Afghanistan in the ’80s and screwed up in Iraq in the ’90s and blew it in the ’00s in Afghanistan and Iraq, that some of those lessons might have been learned. Alas no. I hope I’m wrong but I don’t think so.

Paris: Awful, And Going To Get Worse

The death toll is now over 150, and likely to rise substantially. It’s mind-numbing to read and to watch and to hear. One of the world’s great cities is under attack, and we don’t even know whether it’s over yet. In the meantime, the only thing worse than the coverage is contemplating what tomorrow will bring. Charles Pierce was on a plane to Des Moines for the debate tomorrow, but still captured the dread of what’s coming. As he usually does.

​There is no question that it will get worse as they move toward dawn in Paris. There is no question that it will get worse as the days turn into months and the months into years. Barbarians have laid siege to an entire European city for one of the first times since Rome fell. The body count will climb. The retribution will be swift and harsh, as will the inevitable reaction, and as will the retribution for the reaction. And the events of the day will be fed into the armored, blind triviality of the ongoing American election, and into the utterly corrupted American political system, and into the carefully cultivated timidity and faithlessness that all of these things have combined to make out of the American democracy over the past 15 years. Something awful has happened in Paris. Out of it will be born something awful in the collective mind and the collective heart and the collective soul. I wish I weren’t so sure of this, but the planet looks awfully black from up here, and it doesn’t look any different if you close your eyes.​

I think it’s time to put a blanket over my head and go to sleep. Some days that’s all you can do.

Vive la France.

Congressional Letter To Palestinian Authority

369 members of Congress recently wrote to Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, “urging him to condemn the recent violence in Israel and end incitement to violence within the Palestinian Authority.” Seven out of eight Maryland congresscritters signed the letter. The only holdout was Donna Edwards.

The text of the letter is set forth below.

November 3, 2015

His Excellency Mahmoud Abbas
Palestinian National Authority

Dear President Abbas:

We are writing to express our deep concern over the recent wave of Palestinian violence in Israel and the West Bank. Unless immediate action is taken to end incitement and bring the situation under control, this escalating violence – including stabbings, shootings and other terrorist acts — will undermine the prospects of a two-state solution.

There have been some efforts to curb the violence and protect the peace. But statements made by you, other political figures, clerics and official PA media have undoubtedly served to inflame the current situation. False claims about changing the status quo on the Temple Mount or accusations of Israel executing an attacker — when, in fact, he is being treated in an Israeli hospital — only encourage more acts of terror. The abhorrent and deadly rhetoric – including calls for knife attacks on Israelis – must stop.

Now is the time for the Palestinian Authority to take concrete steps to avoid further violence. This starts with a sustained effort to publicly and officially repudiate these attacks, ending the unacceptable incitement to violence emanating from Palestinian Authority officials and institutions, continuing important security cooperation with Israel and agreeing to unconditionally renew direct talks with the Israelis.

The stakes are high. Now is the time for responsible and sustained leadership on these critical issues.



Ranking Member

The signed copy of the letter can be found here.

Bombing In Turkey

Hard as it is to believe, things are getting even more violent and destabilizing in the Middle East. Today comes news of a terrorist attack in Ankara, the capital of Turkey.

Two devastating explosions struck Saturday morning in the heart of Ankara, the Turkish capital, killing more than 80 people who had gathered for a peace rally and heightening tensions just three weeks before snap parliamentary elections.

At least 86 people were killed and 186 were wounded, said the health minister, Mehmet Muezzinoglu.

The blasts, which appeared to be the deadliest terrorist attack in modern Turkey’s history, occurred near Ankara’s main train station just as groups of Kurds and leftists planned to march to protest the recent resumption of armed conflict between the Turkish state and Kurdish militants. It is a conflict that has been waged for nearly three decades, but in recent times the two sides seemed on the path to peace.

The Turks are fighting the Iraqi Kurds (again), but Turkey has also agreed to cooperate with the US against the Islamic State and the Assad regime, providing air bases, among other things. In addition to the Iraqi Kurds, their Syrian counterparts are also allies of the US, and the Syrian Kurds have come under Tuekish attacks as well. This will be on your final exam, so pay attention.

This would all be really funny if wasn’t for the thousands of deaths and millions of refugees that this clusterfuck of a situation has created, which have resulted in great instability in otherwise stable places like – Turkey, for example. Thanks Dick Cheney!

Europe And Refugees

The Post has been churning out a fascinating set of articles by Europe-based reporter Rick Noack about the ongoing crisis of refugees reaching Europe from Iraq and Syria. Here’s a series of links with a brief description of each. This doesn’t begin to cover all the relevant articles, but hits on what I think are the deeper issues in play as Europe struggles to develop a coherent and unified policy with respect to the refugees. It’s the kind of reporting we used to be able to count on from national papers like the Post and  the Times, but which has been sorely lacking as international coverage is cut back.

So, some links for breakfast.

An analysis of the differing European policies regarding refugees and immigration, tying the responses to internal population trends and job prospects, is here. (9/8)

The reasons are many, but one stands out: demographics. In Germany, for instance, a rapidly aging population is becoming increasingly aware of the need to welcome foreigners. Other countries, where the aging trend is much less severe, have fewer incentives to welcome newcomers.

A closer look at the following maps, which compare demographic trends across Europe between 2001 and 2011, helps explain some of the reasons Europe is so divided on how to deal with refugees. The maps not only offer explanations: They also show which nations might be missing out on an opportunity for future growth.

Why German enthusiasm for accepting refugees might not last. (9/14)

When the German government closed its border to Austria on Sunday and reinstated controls and identity checks, some who oppose the influx felt vindicated. Germany’s interior minister, Thomas de Maiziere, said on Sunday that the measures had been taken for security reasons. However, he added that the move was also a warning to other E.U. countries to take in more refugees.

In taking those steps, Merkel is trying to balance the interests of her coalition partner, the Christian Social Union (CSU), which tends to be less supportive of accommodating refugees than the Social Democrats. The CSU, which is based in Bavaria close to the Austrian border, had sharply criticized the chancellor for her decision to allow tens of thousands of Syrians to cross the border in recent days.

Timo Lochocki, a fellow at the German Marshall Fund, a transatlantic think tank, expects that Merkel and her coalition government will be able to preserve the public’s positive feelings about the influx at least until next spring. “Many Germans have enormous trust in the current government because they think it has mastered the Greek crisis perfectly,” Lochocki said. Germany’s tough stance toward Greece earned the country a reputation abroad as a  brutal enforcer of financial discipline. But that benefited Merkel at home. “After having been tough on Greece, she can now pursue an open arms policy for refugees.”

Denmark, “wonderland” of Scandinavia, is apparently not a very welcoming place (9/11), but migrants have to go through it in order to get to Sweden, where there are already established communities of refugees from Iraq and Syria. The politics are bad, too:

The Danish government’s current strategy will probably make it harder for Denmark to collaborate with other E.U. countries. Germany and Sweden have had harsh words for their neighbor: “Denmark is a rich country and is able to take care of the refugees,” the Swedish justice minister said, responding to demands from the Danish government that Sweden accept some of the refugees in Denmark.

“The strong anti-refugee stance of Denmark is not a surprise, given the new government that is in place since June,” said Astrid Ziebarth, a migration fellow at the German Marshall Fund, a political think tank. Ziebarth was referring to the center-right minority government that has governed the Scandinavian country for the last three months, backed by the populist anti-immigrant Danish Peoples Party, which won 21 percent of the votes.

Why Germany suspended its obligations under the Schengel treaty reestablishing immigration controls on the Germany/Austria border (9/14)

Hungary finally had some words of praise for Germany after weeks of rising tensions between the two countries: The Hungarian government applauded Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to reinstate border controls between Germany and Austria.

The Eastern Europeans in particular might regard the border controls as an indication that Germany is taking a harder line toward refugees. But that’s not case.

Here are five reasons that Germany really decided to temporarily suspend the Schengen treaty, which ensures free movement in 26 European countries, 22 of which belong to the European Union.

A couple of non-Noack analysis pieces are worth a read, too.

With Hungary closing its borders to new refugees, the Post reports this morning that the net effect is to shift attention from Hungary to other front-line countries such as Serbia and Greece. And refugees who have reached Serbia intending to move on to Hungary are now moving in the direction of EU member Croatia.

After being blocked by Hungary’s new border fence, the river of migrants and refugees on Wednesday began to change course and move west toward Croatia, in a desperate gambit to forge a new route to Western Europe.

Thousands spent the night in the wet grass here along frontier with Hungary, as Serb officials warned the European Union that their cash-strapped country could not host large numbers of destitute travelers.

Local reporters discovered that regional bus companies had begun offering refugees a trip from the Macedonian border in the south directly to Croatia, bypassing Hungary.

Reuters reported one of its cameraman saw at least 100 migrants walk through cornfields into European Union member Croatia. Most traveled by bus from Macedonia; others pulled up in taxis, the news agency said.

Reaction from Croatia has been swift but mainly positive, reports the Post in the dark of early morning here in the U.S.

“Barbed wire in Europe in the 21st century is not an answer, it’s a threat,” complained Croatia’s prime minister, Zoran Milanovic, in a direct jab at the blockades by neighboring Hungary.

He told lawmakers in Zagreb that Croatia would “accept and direct” the migrants to transit the country — comments that are likely to ripple through the social media networks used by the refugees and increase the march toward Croatia.

Want to know how to solve the refugee problems? Michael Birnbaum in the Post has some ideas (five of them, in fact), most of which have no chance of happening. (9/8)

She may have been callous towards immigrants in July, but she’s now “Europe’s conscience.” (9/11)

Less than two months later, the German leader is getting raves for her moral leadership regarding the refugee crisis. She is being called “Europe’s conscience” not only for her country’s willingness to take in hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers, but for stepping up to push for a Europe-wide response to the crisis.

Merkel has denounced xenophobic protests over the refugees, saying, “there is no tolerance toward those who question the dignity of other people.” Migrants pose for her with selfies and express their appreciation in images shared on social media. Refugees are calling her “Mama Merkel” and naming their babies after her.

That’s enough for now. I’m critical of much of the Post’s domestic coverage, but this stuff his first rate. Read them all, please. There will be a quiz soon.

GOP Iran Resolution Fails 

Republicans brought up the disapproval resolution on the Iran deal on a motion to proceed, and the motion fell two votes short of the 60 needed on a 58-42 vote.

Senate Democrats on Thursday blocked a Republican effort to scuttle the Iran nuclear deal, delivering the Obama administration a long-awaited, major foreign policy victory.

But with Republicans in both chambers dead set on taking further shots to eviscerate the deal, and potentially even dragging it to court to block its implementation, the Iran deal debate may not be over.

The vote on the procedural motion was 58 to 42, falling two votes short of the 60 votes  needed to consider the resolution attacking the agreement.

Stay tuned – Republicans immediately vowed to bring the disapproval resolution back for further votes next week.