Thursday, March 28

How serious are disagreements between Washington and Berlin?

Before delving into the weighty question we turn to an educational Pundita quiz:  What are two instant ways to tell if you're one of the Kremlin's useful idiots? 

1.  You think this photo is funny.

Associated Press/Even Vucci

2. You saw the photo at Sputnik, which is the only place you're going to see it outside the AP photo archives.

If you want to know why Chancellor Merkel is deciding what she'll have for dinner while President Trump makes a goldfish face at her, you'll just have to read Sputnik to find out. Oh all right; from Sputnik March 2

US-Germany Rift Set To Blow

This is going to get very ugly. Germany is openly defying US President Trump's demands to spend more on its NATO budget. Already the American ambassador to the country is crying foul, prompting German calls for his expulsion.

Of all the countries in the European Union, it is Germany that's been mostly on the receiving end of Trump's wrath since he entered the White House. In two years, bilateral relations between Washington and Berlin have plummeted under the weight of Trump's withering verbal attacks.

The American president has assailed Germany for unfair trading practices over its lucrative auto exports; and he has virtually accused Berlin of treason in its dealings with Russia for natural gas supply, threatening to slap economic sanctions on German firms over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project under the Baltic Sea.

Germany has vehemently rejected Trump's accusations, saying its auto industry is a big investor in creating American jobs, and that its energy policies are a sovereign matter based on objective market principles.

But above all his complaints, Trump has continually rebuked Germany for not spending enough on NATO commitments, sniping that the country is freeloading on American military protection. At a NATO summit last year, Trump hectored German Chancellor Angela Merkel to raise her country's annual military budget to the designated NATO target of 2 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

For many years, especially after the end of the Cold War, German military spending has lagged at around 1 percent of GDP. Trump contends that, as Europe's largest national economy, Berlin should at least double its defence budget.

Latest figures, however, show that German military spending is nowhere near reaching the 2 percent target that Trump has been fulminating about. Indeed, the trend appears to be one of declining expenditure by Berlin on the military, not increasing.

That caused earlier this week US ambassador Richard Grenell to decry Germany's "failure" to live up to its NATO commitments.

Grenell is something of a Trump cypher. It is not the first time the envoy has harangued Germany in terms that his boss in the White House could have almost written for him. Grenell has been slamming Berlin over the Nord Stream 2 gas project with Russia and in its dealings with Chinese telecoms giant Huawei.

His condemnations this week regarding Germany's military budget have again sparked furore among the country's politicians and media, eliciting further public calls for the envoy to be expelled owing to his alleged gross interference in Berlin's internal affairs. 

"An ambassador is not supposed to act like the spokesman of an occupying power," said Wolfgang Kubicki, the deputy leader of the Free Democrat Party.

The New York Times this week reported "the timing couldn't be worse" for US-German relations. Next month marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the NATO alliance. A major celebration is due to take place in Washington DC for the occasion. The atmosphere will be severely chilled by Germany's truculent defiance of Trump to boost its commitment to NATO.

Out of some 30 members in the US-led NATO bloc, only seven countries have managed to raise their military budgets to the 2 percent of GDP target that Trump has clamoured for. That target figure predates Trump's presidency. But since the end of the Cold War, many European members of NATO have reduced military spending.

From that point on Finian Cunningham -- a Kremlin useful idiot if there ever was one -- engages in outright anti-US propagandizing. Well, Sputnik was established by a news agency owned by the Russian government, so one has to be prepared for propaganda along with the news, especially when it's clearly labeled "OPINION."

But American readers need to ask themselves this: Have they seen any mainstream U.S. news outlets in the past week headlining the latest furor in Germany's political establishment about American actions in the country?  

So the best answer to the question I asked in the title of this post is that you'll be the last to know if you get your news from only one side of a serious matter. 

Looked at from both sides, Germany and the U.S. will likely patch things over for the 70th-anniversary celebration of NATO's founding. Beyond that, the worst of the disagreements between the German and American government is rooted in Washington's not-unrealistic concern that Berlin and Moscow will draw closer together on key issues. The concern arose during the Obama administration's ham-handed meddling in Ukraine, which gave Berlin a not-unrealistic fright.  


Brexit Status March 28, 2023

PM Theresa May has again agreed to step down if MPs still can't agree on any one of the 200 proposed Brexit deals that have resulted in 58 motions already shot down at Westminster. 

"I am prepared to leave this job earlier than I intended in order to do what is right for our country and our party," Mrs May said during an impromptu press conference outside No. 10.

For the status of Brexit proposals circa March 2019, see this helpful scorecard, courtesy The Sun:


Wednesday, March 27

Why not find you guilty of a crime that might never happen? Russiagate Hoax, Continued

Of all the attorneys who've studied Robert Mueller's Special Counsel investigation of President Trump's relations with the Russian government, Andrew McCarthy, a former Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, has been the most careful, the most cautious, in his criticism of the Special Counsel. But last night on the John Batchelor Show McCarthy, in his explanation of a "novel" interpretation of the legal term "obstruction," made explicit what has only been implicit in Mueller's approach to the investigation. 

What McCarthy revealed harks to the 'pre-crime' legal system in Philip K. Dick's 1956 science fiction story, "The Minority Report," in which it's routine to arrest a person who hasn't committed a crime on the suspicion that he might commit a postulated crime.  

This dystopian concept of a criminal justice system goes further than Franz Kafka's horrific tale of a man found guilty of an unspecified crime. It can be argued that the whole of civilization, and certainly the whole of Western law, is to ward off humanity's descent into the darkest, most irrational, concept of justice. But here is just that irrationality, put into practice by Robert Mueller, a man who at least on cursory inspection represents the best of the American criminal justice system. Put into practice against a sitting U.S. President.  

How did this happen in today's America? How did we end up back at the Salem Witch Trials? Listen to McCarthy's careful summary of the Mueller probe's findings to date. Listen as if your life depended on it. Here's the podcast.


John Batchelor and Matt Taibbi dissect the corpse of US journalism. Russiagate Hoax, Continued

"The liberal media Russiagate failure and what is to be done?" with Matt Taibbi. The John Batchelor Show, March 25. Podcast, Part 1 and Part 2.

For background to the discussion, read Matt's It's official: Russiagate is this generation's WMD - "The Iraq war faceplant damaged the reputation of the press. Russiagate just destroyed it."

The article, actually a chapter from a self-published book (Hatc, Inc.: "How the Press Makes Us Hate One Another"), has been the shot heard round the news media world since it was published on March 23. It's provoked any number of defenses of the news media's handling of Russiagate and at least one thinly-disguised rant against Matt. (Joe Scarborough of MSNBC's Morning Joe.)


Tuesday, March 26

Russiagate's winding road started from Barack Obama's desk

Yesterday morning Washington legal legend Joseph DiGenova spelled it out in plain English for the Inside the Beltway crowd that listens to WMAL radio's Mornings on the Mall broadcasting from Washington, DC. (Podcast

DiGenova mentioned President Obama's key role in perpetuating Russiagate almost in passing because everyone who's closely followed the story most assuredly believes it was Obama who cooked up the hoax, which was designed to put a crimp in Donald Trump's campaign for the presidency and if worst came to worst, eject him from White House if he won the election.

But Americans would want to listen closely to DiGenova's discussion of fallout from the Attorney General's summary of the Special Counsel's report, which has dominated the news in the United States since it was released on March 24. In a few words, DiGenova conveyed the scope of the rot that has eaten away at the American justice system. The rot was there even before Barack Obama took office; all Obama did was take advantage of the rot, which under his watch also ate away at the top echelon at the FBI.

So where do we go from here?

We await the publication of the Special Counsel's full report, which several congressional Democrats and Republicans are calling for, although it's iffy whether this will include all the documentation, including grand jury testimony, that Robert Mueller's team collected. (At the moment the Senate majority leader is blocking a nonbinding resolution calling for the immediate release of the full report, citing national security concerns.) But the AG's summary of the report has already made clear that conspiracy and collusion charges against Trump are off the table, meaning the Democrats can kiss goodbye to their hope of impeaching Trump. 

All the Democrats are left with is the straw of cooking up an obstruction of justice charge against Trump. But this straw is more a ghost of a straw, given that there is no underlying crime to obstruct and that Trump was acting well within his authority when he fired FBI Director James Comey.  

The best the Democrats can do is use their control of the U.S. House of Representatives to launch investigations that will lead nowhere but will give the Democratic Party-controlled news media yet more fodder with which to continue crapping up the U.S. news cycle with Russiagate stories. This could continue all the way up to the 2020 presidential election and beyond if voters return Trump to the White House.

The Republicans for their part are waiting for the next report from the Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General. From an op-ed for Fox News, March 25, by a former FBI Assistant Director, Chris Swecker:
Now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s highly anticipated report on Russian collusion is complete, it is time to focus on the other half of the equation: Did members of the intelligence community [more to the point, the domestic justice community] “weaponize” their powers for the purpose of discrediting a political campaign and a sitting president? Fortunately, there is an ongoing Office of the Inspector General (OIG) investigation that addresses this and other important questions.
It is critical for this country to know if a small cadre of Justice Department and FBI executives abused and violated U.S. laws and guidelines on the conduct of investigations when former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe rushed to open an investigation into a sitting president for obstruction of justice.
McCabe was angry and reacting to the president’s firing of his boss, former FBI Director James Comey, for insubordination and violating well-established DOJ procedures and possibly U.S. laws in exonerating Hillary Clinton in a grandstanding press conference in July 2016.

The OIG is also looking at the role played by a seedy “dossier” [the Steele Dossier] containing opposition research that was paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign. That unsubstantiated document found its way into an FBI FISA warrant application to spy on the Trump campaign, which was granted just weeks before the 2016 election.
Rather than conduct more kangaroo investigations, as House Democrats seem intent to do, Congress should spend our taxpayer dollars designing remedial legislation to fix the systemic problems within the Department of Justice that we have seen play out over the last two years.

There is plenty of material to work with, as the DOJ OIG has already completed and published two extremely thorough investigations. The results of a third significant inquiry will soon be released, which may well be the most important and potentially impactful.
Is the Democrats' sturm and drang in the wake of the AG's summary of the Special Counsel's findings an attempt to distract national public attention from the OIG's next report? That could be part of it. But they could always say that Barr is a Trump go-fer and that Barr tainted the Justice Department's OIG.  (Different federal agencies have their own OIGs to handle complaints of misconduct.)

However, the Republicans could also launch counter-investigations in response to Democratic-led investigations, including naming another Special Counsel to investigate the role of Hillary Clinton and other top officials in the Obama administration in instigating and sustaining Russiagate, which was already been shown to be nothing more than a political hoax. The hoax turned on what's called in the political industry "opposition research," in this case famously constructed by a 'former' British MI6 operative named Christopher Steele. 

Could a new Special Counsel reach as high as investigating Obama himself? On paper, yes, but somehow I don't envision him having to answer questions from the FBI or any Special Counsel or congressional committee. Obama is untouchable, although this might change if he decides to put his wife into the running for the Democratic Party's nominee for U.S. President in 2020.   

In short, we now have what Americans call a Mexican Standoff, with Democrats and Republicans making threats, calling each other bad names, and challenging each other to shoot first.  

As to whether the standoff will continue after the publication of some version of the Special Counsel's report, due maybe sometime in April, cooler heads on both sides are saying, 'Can we just please move on from Russiagate and focus on the business of governing?'

The problem with this commonsense suggestion is that for two years the Americans who believed Trump must have somehow stolen the presidency from Hillary Clinton were strung along by Democratic Members of Congress and the Democratic Party-controlled news media. These kept holding out the hope to Americans devastated by Clinton's loss that any day now Trump would be charged with treason for helping Vladimir Putin throw the American presidential election in his favor -- an impossibility, by the way, given that the election is governed the Electoral College, which is a state-by-state process.

The vast majority of such Americans remain to this day completely unaware that Donald Trump won the presidency because his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, orchestrated an absolutely brilliant "ground game" as it's called in the political industry, and Trump had the intelligence to appreciate that Kushner was on the right track. 

Hillary Clinton either ignored Kushner's ground game or discounted it. She and her closest aides were living in a bubble; they were certain she had the presidency locked in. 

As to why the majority of Americans don't know about the brilliant ground game, because it was only reported to the public once to my knowledge, in one publication, a financial magazine, and the Democratic National Party and its media flunkies refused to discuss the report. They and Clinton preferred to blame a conspiracy between Trump and Putin for her loss.      

What might resolve the standoff is if Democratic Party bosses concede that keeping Russiagate limping along is not a winning strategy for the 2020 election.

As to the rest, namely trying to ward off a repeat of a massive political hoax, house-cleaning is needed in key American federal agencies. With regard to Russiagate, the rot was pretty much confined to the top floors of the FBI and Justice Department as Swecker's op-ed indicated, and the CIA. The lower echelons are filled with many 'lifers' -- people who make careers out of staying with one U.S. agency and take pride in avoiding political partisanship in their jobs. But the top slots are political appointees. There are regulations governing all U.S. federal agencies that are designed to guard against the worst abuses of these positions but clearly, these collapsed during the Obama years.

In any case, it will be up to Barr in his role as Attorney General to get control of the upper echelon of the Justice Department, which he's already given evidence he's doing. 

And as Joe DiGenova pointed out yesterday, it will also be up to Barr to get control of the U.S. District Federal Courts, which have long been run like duchies, and with the Southern District of New York Court seemingly functioning as Obama's go-fer. Barr can do this by strongly reminding these district courts that they are not local and they're under the jurisdiction of the federal U.S. Department of Justice.   

As to cleaning up the 'secret' FISA court, which played a key role in getting Russiagate off the ground by accepting as evidence the Steele Dossier in signing off on at least one warrant to secretly surveil Trump's campaign -- I don't know whether the AG's authority extends to that court; if not, it might take an Act of Congress or even the Supreme Court stepping in if only to publicly wag a finger at the court. 

As to shutting down the FISA Court entirely, there have been calls to do this ever since Edward Snowden blew the lid off secret surveillance of American citizens in the USA. I think all we can know at this time is that some kind of action will be taken to rein in the FSIA Court in the wake of the Special Counsel's Russiagate findings, although this might occur behind closed doors if the court remains.

Regarding the CIA, if what happened at the U.S. Department of State when Trump first came to the White House is any guide, my assumption is that he put Mike Pompeo in charge at the CIA to gut departments and/or factions at the division levels that had confused loyalty to Barack Obama with loyalty to the United States of America. In any case, when Trump transferred Pompeo to State, he replaced him at the CIA with a tough-minded woman who by all accounts (so far) does things "by the book."

Regarding the FBI -- the worst offenders in the top echelon are already gone from the agency, leaving the demoralized lower echelons to pick up the pieces. But they are doing this under the AG's watchful eye; the FBI reports directly to the Department of Justice. As to the present FBI director, I will assume he was chosen because he also does things by the book and doesn't bump into the furniture.

To sum, Barack Obama famously said in October 2008, in the closing days of his first run for the White House, "We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America."  

Although he backed away from the statement in 2014 in reply to a direct question from a Fox News TV host, only Americans who wend their way through a "wilderness of mirrors" to study Russiagate will ever know how close Obama came to keeping his word.


Sunday, March 17

Turks rat out American help to Islamic State in E. Syria. Hah!

No honor among scoundrels, that's for sure. Israeli, French and British special services are reportedly also involved, according to state-controlled Turkish media. 

 "An interesting observation is that the [Turkish regime] ... which in the previous years of war conspired with ISIS, allowing its foreign recruits to enter Syria and buying smuggled oil from the terrorists, has now become one of the most active exposers of alleged US ties with ISIS elements."

March 16, 2019
SouthFront (March 13 video report)


The CIA is conspiring with ISIS commanders in northeastern Syria supplying them with fake documents and then transferring them to Iraq, according to reports in Turkish pro-government media.

About 2,000 ISIS members were questioned in the areas of Kesra, Buseira, al-Omar and Suwayr in Deir Ezzor province and at least 140 of them then received fake documents. Some of the questioned terrorists were then moved to the camps of al-Hol, Hasakah and Rukban, which are controlled by US-backed forces. The CIA also reportedly created a special facility near Abu Khashab with the same purpose.

Israeli, French and British special services are reportedly involved.

An interesting observation is that the media of the country, which in the previous years of war, used to conspire with ISIS allowing its foreign recruits to enter Syria and buying smuggled oil from the terrorists, has now become one of the most active exposers of the alleged US ties with ISIS elements.

Another issue often raised in Turkish media is the poor humanitarian situation in the refugee camps controlled by US-backed forces. These reports come in the course of other revelations. According to the International Rescue Committee, about 100 people, mostly children, died in combat zones or in the al-Hol camp controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces just recently.

In its turn, the Russian Defense Ministry released a series of satellite images revealing the horrifying conditions in the al-Rukban camp. The imagery released on March 12 shows at least 670 graves, many of them fresh, close to the camp’s living area. The tents and light constructions used to settle refugees are also located in close proximity to large waste deposits.

A joint statement by the Russian and Syrian Joint Coordination Committees for Repatriation of Syrian Refugees said that refugees in al-Rukban are suffering from a lack of water, food, medication and warm clothing, which is especially important during winter. According to the statement, members of the US-backed armed group Maghawir al-Thawra disrupt water deliveries to the camp, using this as a bargaining chip for blackmailing and profiteering purposes.

Tensions are once again growing between Syria and Israel. Earlier in March, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad submitted an official letter to the head of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) Kristin Lund that Damascus ”will not hesitate to confront Israel” if it continues refusing to withdraw from the Golan Heights.

Israeli media and officials responded with a new round of allegations that Hezbollah is entrenching in southern Syria, therefore justifying a further militarization of the Golan Heights.



Assad to the West: Take your reconstruction money and stuff it!

March 18, 2019, Sputnik:

DAMASCUS (Sputnik) - The Syrian Foreign Ministry responded to the statement issued by the US-led coalition partners that refused to take part in the reconstruction of Syria noting that these states are not invited to contribute to the reconstruction after war crimes they committed against the Syrian people.

"These countries that killed and destroyed have never been interested in the reconstruction [of Syria] and they are not invited to contribute to the reconstruction. These states should only pay compensations for the killing and destruction committed as a result of their heinous crimes and stop their blatant interference in internal affairs", the statement obtained by Sputnik read.

The ministry noted that counterterrorism methods of the US-led coalition constitute war crimes and violations of international law.

The United States, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom said in a joint statement on Friday that they will not consider providing reconstruction assistance to Syria until a credible political process is underway in the country.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry called this statement historical evidence of "lies, hypocrisy, deception, and falsification".
As the armed conflict in Syria seems to be nearing its end and Damascus has regained control over the vast territories that were previously controlled by terrorist groups and rebels, Syria has already launched the reconstruction process and started welcoming back refugees.
The US-led international coalition of more than 70 members has been engaged in counterterrorism operations in Syria since 2014 without the permission of Syrian authorities or the UN Security Council. The United States has, in particular, supported the Kurdish-led militia controlling the territories to the east of the Euphrates River.
US President Donald Trump announced last December that the US troops would leave Syria. However, no exact deadline for the withdrawal of US soldiers has been unveiled yet.  [Pundita note: The deadline is when pigs fly]

May you be in Heaven a full half hour before the Devil knows you're dead!

Happy Saint Patrick's Day, everyone! 

What? I can't wish you Happy St. Patrick's Day at 10:30 at night? Does this mean the next 90 minutes doesn't belong to the Irish?


Sunday, March 10

It seems God is not terribly fond of locust hors d'oeuvres

"Also, a Midrash in Shemot Rabba describes how God is so annoyed with the Egyptians for responding to the plague of locusts by whetting their appetites, He sends a magical wind which blows away every single tasty morsel, even those already salted and pickled."

MARCH 4, 2019
The Jerusalem Post

The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned that an infestation of desert locusts in Sudan and Eritrea is rapidly swarming along both sides of the Red Sea towards Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

According to an agency press release, heavy rains triggered two generations of breeding since October, leading to a substantial increase in the locust population.

Earlier this year, the insects evoked biblical times when they showed up at holy sites in Mecca, covering some areas in darkness and sparking a thunderstorm of hail and fire on social media.

If the swarms reach Israel in time for Passover, one man is ready for them - Rabbi Natan Slifkin, director of the Biblical Museum of Natural History in Beit Shemesh.

Slifkin organized and led the Feast of Biblical Flora and Fauna in 2016, at which the tasty insects [dipped in chocolate and served with a handy toothpick] were served alongside the more traditional roasted whole venison.

The flesh of these small edibles is pareve (considered neither meat or dairy), which means they can be served with either cheese or meatballs, according to your preference. Some Jewish rabbis assert that it's permissible to eat them live, according to Breaking News Israel.

While Slifkin is not a Yemenite Jew [the only Jewish community with a tradition of eating locusts] he is famous for his passion for biblical history and slightly occult themes in Jewish culture. His 2007 book Sacred Monsters was featured in the 2017 film "I Kill Giants" as one of the books the protagonist is reading.

Jewish tradition doesn't seem to view eating locusts in an overly positive light. The author of Aruch HaShulchan points out that they were eaten by the poor as an option only slightly better than starvation.

Also, a Midrash in Shemot Rabba describes how God is so annoyed with the Egyptians for responding to the plague of locusts by whetting their appetites, He sends a magical wind which blows every single tasty morsel away, even those already salted and pickled.

Media Line contributed to this article



Bravo, Richard Engel

America's NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel (very smart, very fluent in Arabic) interviewing captured Islamic State fighters

From his Twitter page, March 8:
Surrendering ISIS men tell me they were just cooks, cleaners and bottle-washers. I said, “With so many cooks you must have had great food.” Got No laughs.
Meanwhile, soon-to-retire General Joseph Votel, chief of U.S. Centcom, told Congress last Thursday that while Islamic State has suffered major defeats in Syria the survivors are  "unrepentant, unbroken," as they go underground. 

Translation: The U.S. will just have to stay on in Syria to ferret the rats from their tunnels.



"Sometimes we outsmart ourselves"

Yes, that was something I pointed out on the first day of this blog's existence in November 2004. I put up three posts on that day: one of them a sendup of the Chinese military's new obsession with a college degree; one to contrast the morals-based American viewpoint with the amoral 'multipolar' foreign policy initiatives of the West Europeans; and one to warn Washington's Cold War holdovers that in this fishbowl era it was critically important to play it straight. 

One can indeed be too clever by half -- a warning that American defense strategists and administrations have ignored since the end of World War Two. As to where being that clever led, one place was Vietnam. The complete story of the Vietnam War is still not fully told but last week John Batchelor, with the help of a documentary producer and a man who had 'eyes on the ground' in the runup to Tet, presented some little-known history to John's radio show audience. ("Agents Unknown:" A Vietnam War military intelligence analyst, adviser, and operative for the U.S. Army, CIA, and South Vietnamese intelligence services tells his story.)

Their discussion does not make for easy listening. As John said about the documentary, "It's not a popcorn movie." But Americans, in particular, should steel themselves and take heed. (JB Show Podcast Part 1 and Part 2.)   

Turning to the mess in the Middle East made by smarty pants in several governments, on March 5 a Middle East old hand, Colonel Pat Lang, who also had eyes on the ground in Vietnam, wrote up some of his recollections for his Sic Semper Tyrannis website (What is HAMAS?) in response to a discussion at Al Masdar News:

I was the head of liaison between DoD (DIA) and IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] General Staff intelligence for nine years (1985-1994).  As such I was the "minder" for the IDF reps in Washington based in their embassy.  The CIA tried continuously to acquire this task but without success.  They were not content to nurture their longstanding relationship with Mossad, the Israeli civilian intelligence service.  In Israel, IDF intelligence is the senior service and the national estimator.
The brigadiers who seriatim were the chief military attache in the embassy spent a lot of time in my office consulting, being given guidance as to their sometimes arrogant and unacceptable behavior with regard to the DC police, and just chatting.  There were a lot of lunches and dinners with wives.  It was a very friendly set of relationships.  I used to take them to WBS battlefields both for the educational benefit for them concerning the US and to have a day in which to study them as individuals.
One day, sitting in my Pentagon office, the head man from the embassy began to tell me of his concern with regard to what was happening in the 2nd Intifada, then ongoing.  He told me that Israel had sponsored the growth of Hamas as a rival to the PLO, then in exile in Tunisia, believing that a religiously based resistance movement would attract many Palestinians, splitting them off from the PLO and generally weakening the Palestinian resistance.  Instead, the al-Qassem Brigades of Hamas were proving to be daunting opponents in the rebellion. "Sometimes we outsmart ourselves," he said with a sad smile.
He was a very skilled man.  He was one of a small number of IDF officers trained as an Arab affairs specialist from secondary school onward. At one point he was Military Governor of the occupied West Bank.  I believe him.  pl