Posts Tagged ‘terrorism’

Is Islam a religion ?

Saturday, December 12th, 2015

As usual, Richard Fernandez gets to the heart of the matter with the least number of detours.

The important thing to remember about rebellions, even small ones, is that everyone who thinks they can control the forces unleashed — can’t. That goes for Obama and that goes for Trump. A friend who was a veteran of the Anbar Surge wrote that democracy was scary and to calm himself down he repeated to himself Winston Churchill’s soothing words: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”

Yes, I think we are on the threshold of a revolution. Whether it is a Revolution, with a capital R, is yet to be seen.

Fernandez begins with the incident of Gessler’s Hat.

in 1307 Gessler raised a pole in the market square of Altdorf, placed his hat atop it, and ordered all the townsfolk to bow before it. Tell, whose marksmanship and pride were legendary, publicly refused. Gessler’s cruel wrath was tempered by his curiosity to test Tell’s skill, so he gave Tell the option of either being executed or shooting an apple off his son’s head in one try. Tell succeeded in splitting the apple with his arrow, saving his own life. When Gessler asked why he had readied two arrows, he lied and replied that it was out of habit. After being assured that he wouldn’t be killed, Tell finally admitted that the second was intended for the tyrant if his son was harmed.

Yes, it is best not to put all your cards on the table until they are needed.

Gessler, enraged, had Tell arrested and taken by boat across Lake Lucerne to Küssnacht to spend the life he had saved in a dungeon. A sudden fierce storm made the crew terrified, and since William Tell was a better sailor, they handed the wheel to him. But instead of heading towards the dungeon, he escaped to shore. There he ambushed and killed Gessler with an arrow, launching the young Confederacy’s rebellion against Austrian rule.

The result was freedom that still endures. What does this tell us ? Not much but Andrew McCarthy has some ideas.

Donald Trump’s rhetorical excesses aside, he has a way of pushing us into important debates, particularly on immigration. He has done it again with his bracing proposal to force “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” I have no idea what Mr. Trump knows about either immigration law or Islam. But it should be obvious to any objective person that Muslim immigration to the West is a vexing challenge. Some Muslims come to the United States to practice their religion peacefully, and assimilate into the Western tradition of tolerance of other people’s liberties, including religious liberty — a tradition alien to the theocratic societies in which they grew up. Others come here to champion sharia, Islam’s authoritarian societal framework and legal code, resisting assimilation into our pluralistic society.

Now what ?

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What else do we not know ?

Monday, December 7th, 2015

President-Obama-oval-office.sized-770x415xt

I was reading one of my favorite blogs this morning and saw this comment.

We just came from church service where we have San Bernardino police attending. We were told and I think it is important to share that the terrorists screamed “alahu akbar” several times while they were shooting; the FBI are preventing the police from going public with this information as well as the witnesses. BTW: My husband and I just got back from Washington, DC and were told by retired secret service that Obama has a Muslim prayer room in the White House. Not sure if this is well known. I had no idea.

The news media and the FBI, of all people, seem to be suppressing information.

Obama’s speech last night was weird. First, he was standing. Second, the only new information it contained was his statement.

That does not mean denying the fact that an extremist ideology has spread within some Muslim communities. This is a real problem that Muslims must confront, without excuse. Muslim leaders here and around the globe have to continue working with us to decisively and unequivocally reject the hateful ideology that groups like ISIL and al Qaeda promote; to speak out against not just acts of violence, but also those interpretations of Islam that are incompatible with the values of religious tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity.

This sounds like he is finally recognizing that Islam has problems.

His proposed solutions are nonsense. One of them is delusional and no one will permit this to occur.

To begin with, Congress should act to make sure no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun. What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semi-automatic weapon? This is a matter of national security.

The “No Fly List” is a list of people with no legal justification who are not permitted to fly on US airplanes. So far, we know that about half of them are there by mistake. We also know that 72 persons on that list work in the Department of Homeland Security. This is ridiculous. There is no incidence of a person on the no fly list who has committed a terrorist act or used a gun in a crime. The terrorists of San Bernardino were not on the list, or on any list of suspected persons.

Belmont Club, as usual, has a better explanation of what is going on.

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Is Obama Losing It ?

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

Barack Obama is the least accomplished person to be elected president in American History. His “accomplishments” in office include spending trillions of dollars on worthless energy boondoggles and introducing a health plan that is collapsing under its own contradictions. The plan was sold, sort of, to the American people with lies like, “If you like your health plan you can keep it” and others similar in misdirection.

His initiatives in foreign policy included a “Reset” with Russia, now long gone. He supported a Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt after removing support for a long term US ally in Mubarek. He has presided over a ridiculous nuclear proliferation plan with US enemy Iran that is already collapsing. He abandoned Iraq only to see the appearance and growth of ISIS, a worse manifestation of the Sunni revolt ended by George Bush with the Surge.

The list of Obama’s failures is long and distinguished. The question now is, is he losing his mind ?

Is it now time to invoke Section 4 of the 25th Amendment?

Has our president officially lost his ability to discharge the powers and duties of his office?

Anyone who listened to President Obama speak to reporters in Paris on Tuesday would reasonably conclude it is high time to start drawing up the papers to transmit to Congress for his removal.

If you are one of the millions and millions of literate Americans out there who have simply tuned this president out the past three or four years, that is certainly understandable. But if you tuned in to the long, rambling, empty press conference, you would have been truly alarmed.

Without the use of the teleprompter, his speech can be described only as “halting.” It was impossible to count the number of times he seized up, able to deaden the silence with only a drawn-out “uh,” “um” or “ahhh.”

I tried to find an embeddable video of that speech but there is not one available.

It took the doddering president 47 minutes and over 5,000 words to answer just six questions. And by “answer,” I simply mean he unspooled a torrent of disjointed words and broken sentences.

Part of the looniness of it all stemmed from the giant scam he and other world leaders are trying to put over on advanced countries, punishing them for their industriousness by redistributing billions and billions of dollars from hardworking American taxpayers and handing it over to tin-pot dictators in disheveled Third World countries.

“You go down to Miami, and when it’s flooding at high tide on a sunny day fish are swimming through the middle of the streets,” he said at one point. As if this were some kind of evidence that high tides or flooding are somehow caused by global warming.

Never mind that a) the argument makes no sense; and b) local media refuted the canard.

But President Obama’s fevers went well beyond global warming hysteria.

Asked about the “mass shooting” where a nut job shot three people at a Colorado abortion clinic, President Obama once again became exasperated with the American people.

“I say this every time we’ve got one of these mass shootings: This just doesn’t happen in other countries.

He actually said this. In Paris. Not three weeks after gunmen mowed down 129 people enjoying freedom in the French capital.

What is going on ?

I think Al Gore went psychotic after losing the 2000 election. Before the election, I considered him approximately the equal of George Bush, who I was not that impressed with. I supported McCain in 2000. After the election, Gore got weird, not just in his fixation on climate “change” which predated the election and seemed a relatively harmless delusion shared by many. Until the revelations of the UEA emails and computer comments, I was just skeptical. Gore’s wife left him and he just got more and more strange.

Narcissistic personalities need feeding with some semblance of success. Looking at Donald Trump and his wild boasting shows one example but he has made billions in real estate and that must support his self love.

What is happening with Obama ? He came from nowhere and was given almost everything he accomplished with little effort on his own part. He did not even work to pass legislation that he is credited with.

Several months before Obama announced his U.S. Senate bid, Jones called his old friend Cliff Kelley, a former Chicago alderman who now hosts the city’s most popular black call-in radio ­program.

I called Kelley last week and he recollected the private conversation as follows:

“He said, ‘Cliff, I’m gonna make me a U.S. Senator.’”

“Oh, you are? Who might that be?”

“Barack Obama.”

Jones appointed Obama sponsor of virtually every high-profile piece of legislation, angering many rank-and-file state legislators who had more seniority than Obama and had spent years championing the bills.

None of this was his doing. It was handed to him.

Objections to his policies are met with accusations of racism by his supporters. I see very few examples of serious debate on his policy.

Now everything is collapsing. His “Climate” initiative is a fake and almost everyone knows it.

What next ? It is worrisome.

What is going on with Turkey?

Thursday, November 26th, 2015

istanbul

Turkish F 16s shot down a Russian SU 24, a bomber, after it entered Turkish airspace and did not respond to warnings.

A U.S. track of the Russian plane shot down by Turkey shows that the plane was inside Turkish airspace for 17 seconds, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports.

After 10 warnings without a response, a Turkish fighter jet shot the plane down Tuesday. U.S. officials said Wednesday that all of the warnings occurred before the plane entered Turkish airspace, Martin reports.

What remains unclear is whether the Russian plane was still in Turkish airspace when the F-16 fired, Martin reports. The explosion that brought the warplane down occurred when it was back in Syrian airspace, the U.S. officials said.

Why did Turkey do this ? One reason may be that the Russians were attacking Turkmen who are opposed to Assad.

Another is that Turkey is involved in oil trade with ISIS.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who canceled his planned trip to Turkey after the incident, described the shooting down of the Russian plane as a “planned provocation.”

He said the Turkish action came after Russian planes successfully targeted oil infrastructure used by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, alleging that Turkey benefited from the oil trade.

Lavrov also said that Turkish territory was used by “terrorists” to prepare attacks in other countries, but offered no details. He said that Russia “has no intention to go to war with Turkey,” but added that Moscow will re-consider its ties with Ankara.

Turkey has been trending to Islamism since Erdogan took over the government ten years ago.

President Erdogan also attended the summit, proceeding to speak at the event’s closing ceremony: “Muslim sailors reached the American continent 314 years before Columbus, in 1178. In his memoirs, Christopher Columbus mentions the existence of a mosque atop a hill on the coast of Cuba”. In this way, the Turkish President managed to cause a sensation, while ignoring the fact that mere notion of the ‘discovery of America’ is nothing but a linguistic ploy used to consecrate the European domination of the world from the 16th century onwards and to discount the achievements of the continent’s native populations.

Richard Fernandez has a theory about why this is happening.

Charles Krauthaummer argues that since the Turks could not have been spurred into action by such minor Russian intrusion into their airspace, their true motive must have been to signal Moscow to lay off one its proxies, the Turkmen. They were willing to violate the ‘no clash between principals’ rule to emphasize the point.

This I think sort of highlights that, the Turks are the most opposed to Assad of anybody on the ground. It wasn’t only that the Russian airplane went into Turkish air space. It’s that the bombing run was against Turkmen, who a minority in Syria, ethnically Turkish that the Turks have always felt they have to defend.

Remember that Turkey and ISIS are both Sunni Muslim and the entire ISIS movement began as a Sunni reaction to the extreme provocation of the Sunnis by the Pro-Iran government of Iraq.

The challenge has been Russia’s focus on propping up Assad rather than focusing on ISIL. … Until that happens, it’s very difficult. It’s difficult because if their priority is attacking the moderate opposition that might be future members of an inclusive Syrian government, Russia is not going to get the support of us or a range of other members of the coalition.

Putin’s reaction to the incident on the occasion of his meeting with the King of Jordan describes the same strategic picture, albeit viewed from the other side of the lines.

Obama is basically an ally of Iran and that may be why he withdrew US forces that might have imposed discipline on the Iraqi government. In that sense, ISIS was created by Obama as the Sunnis had nowhere else to go. Turkey has little incentive to fight ISIS as they share Sunni religious affiliation and have no love for the Kurds and other anti-Assad forces. They certainly have little love for Shia Islam, of which Alawite is a form.

The differences between Russia and the West are also a a major factor in our dilemma.

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The Democrats seem to be choosing Islam as their theme.

Sunday, November 22nd, 2015

Hillary

The Meet the Press program on November 22 seemed to set a new theme for the Democrats. First, Hillary this week declared, “Let’s be clear: Islam is not our adversary. Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.”

Then, Chuck Todd had a Muslim activist “American international human rights lawyer, Arsalan Iftikhar,” who bemoaned the Republicans “Islamophobia.”

Arsalan has also been an adjunct professor of religious studies at DePaul University and he is also a member of the Asian American Journalists Association –

He seems to be a professional Muslim. A few months ago, they had former basketball player Lew Alcindor, now named “Kareem Abdul Jabbar,” to make the same point about peaceful Muslims.

Abdul-Jabbar told host Chuck Todd that terrorists “do not represent the teachings of Islam” and that this misconception makes it “impossible for real Muslims to be understood.”

He continued by saying that he believes the majority of terrorists are a product of their environment, not their religion:

What is their environment ? What does the Koran say ? Another essay on Islam says something quite different.

The avoidance of analysis of Islam contrasts sharply with the excoriation accorded Christianity, Israel, and Western Civilization. The Catholic Church sex abuse crisis has received saturation coverage. Distinguished history professor Philip Jenkins, in a book published by Oxford University Press, claims that media coverage distorts the crisis and contributes to anti-Catholic bigotry. Israel’s very right to exist is questioned and, in high profile media, at times denied. Western Civilization is depicted as imperialist, racist, and Orientalist. This politically-correct selective outrage that lambastes the Judeo-Christian tradition and Western Civilization while emphasizing positive images of Muslims only serves further to inoculate Islam from critique.

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A very interesting explanation of Europe’s suicide.

Monday, October 26th, 2015
Pegida-Demonstranten haben sich am 19.10.2015 in Dresden (Sachsen) vor der Semperoper versammelt und tragen ein Plakat mit der Aufschrift «National Stasi Agency». Vor einem Jahr war Pegida (Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes) in Dresden erstmals auf die Straße gegangen. Foto: Michael Kappeler/dpa +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++

Pegida-Demonstranten haben sich am 19.10.2015 in Dresden (Sachsen) vor der Semperoper versammelt und tragen ein Plakat mit der Aufschrift «National Stasi Agency». Vor einem Jahr war Pegida (Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes) in Dresden erstmals auf die Straße gegangen. Foto: Michael Kappeler/dpa +++(c) dpa – Bildfunk+++

I am a fan of James C Bennett and his book, “The Anglosphere Challenge.” I have just come across an essay of his from 2003 that seems to have a lot to say about the current crisis in Europe.

His thesis is that this is a suicidal period for Europe that began with The Holocaust.

I have to agree with his premise.

Scholars such as Alan Macfarlane have found that individualistic social patterns (such as a preference for nuclear over extended families) have been very deep-seated in England, going back at least to the 14th century, while the reverse has been true in Continental Europe up to the Industrial Revolution.

This might suggest that both fascism and communism emerged on the European continent as a search for the lost security (at the expense of individual independence) of the extended family under the patriarchal rule of the paterfamilias in the traditional Continental society shattered by the Industrial Revolution.

Another explanation, not mutually exclusive with the above, may lie in seeing the Holocaust not as an isolated instance of social madness, but the latter half of a great historical cycle beginning with the emancipation of Europe’s Jews during the Napoleonic Wars.

I think this is a great insight. I also enjoyed his book, “America 3.0,” more for its history than for its optimistic view of the future.

His points are chiefly about the difference in family structure between England and America with nuclear family structure and the other countries which have an extended family structure that is so common in societies where trust and security is constantly threatened.

I wonder if the trust levels in those European countries from 2008 has changed? I think they have and this is evidence, at least for Germany.

“You’re as big of an asshole as that idiot Ralf Stegner,” a certain Birgit M. recently wrote in a letter to Thomas Kutschaty, justice minister of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It was a referrence to the deputy party leader of state chapter of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), who recently said the organizers of the weekly Pegida marches in Dresden and elsewhere should be investigated by intelligence services. “You should all be put in a sack and have a hammer taken to you,” Birgit M. wrote in her tirade.
Then there was the man who called Dorothea Moesch, a local SPD politician in Dortmund, late in the evening on June 30. “We’re going to get you,” he threatened. “We’re at your door.”

Another local SPD politician in Hesse, district administrator Erich Pipa, has been similarly threatened. “We can have you taken out at any time,” he was informed in a letter.

The SPD, of course, is the Social Democratic Party which supports all the left wing causes including unlimited immigration.

Pipa became the target of hatred because he was recently awarded a Federal Cross of Merit, Germany’s highest civilian honor, for his longtime lobbying work on behalf of refugees. Finally, Stahl was the subject of denigration because of his public declaration that he wants refugees to feel welcome in his city.

Why would anyone be upset about that ? This will not end well, at least in continental Europe. Britain ? Who knows ?

Although the Anglosphere began the Industrial Revolution in the 17th century, the period roughly from 1830 through 1930 saw a very rapid expansion of that revolution in Western Europe, and most particularly in German-speaking Europe. This expansion resulted in the emergence of a brilliant and dynamic civilization.

Given the prominence of Jewish Europeans in that civilization, it must be asked whether one of its principal stimuli was not the excitement of mutual discovery, in which newly emancipated Jews brought their analytical skills honed by their tradition of scholarship and debate, while accessing the much wider world of Western science, literature, and scholarship from which they had previously been closed off?

How can we calculate how much more dynamism was added by the everyday interaction of people who had previously been kept in parallel and uncommunicative spheres? The Germanosphere, including not just the Second Reich, but Austria-Hungary, German Switzerland, and the German-speaking communities of Eastern Europe and the Americas, really might better be dubbed the Judaeo-Germanosphere during that period.

This seems to me to be major insight and I compare it with the book by Paul Johnson, “The History of the Jews.”

It is a bit fanciful but I compare this to the famous quote from Robert Heinlein,

“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded—here and there, now and then—are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
This is known as ‘bad luck’.”

– Robert A. Heinlein

How many of the “small minority” is made up of Jews I have no idea but there is an interesting parallel.

Gradually, however, Europe seemed to run out of creativity, in everything from arts, to academia, to demographic vigor, to the will to political reform. Endless rehashing of elsewhere-discredited Marxism replaced creative political thought. Overt fascism and national chauvinism were banned, but a new Euro-chauvinism took its place, loudly proclaiming the superiority of European ways over crude American ones — a new chauvinism on a wider scale, based like the old national chauvinism primarily on resentment.

It may be coincidence, but these new generations are the ones who grew up without the experience of studying, working and socializing with substantial numbers of Jews. Can this have no effect on politics?

Now, 12 years after this essay was written and after 7 years of the most anti-Semetic US president of modern times, I see that we are joining this moral poverty so typical of Europe. The Germans seem intent on importing a population of Muslims with no history of innovation or cultural development to take the place of the declining and judenrein population of native Germans. I should probably correct my use of the term “anti-Semetic” above as Obama seems very fond of Arabs, who are also “Semites.” The proper term would be “anti-Jewish.”

America 3.0 has a more optimistic outlook than I have. My own review of America 3.0 is less optimistic about the solution which I fear will be bloody and expensive and might end in a new dark age.

The analysis of American history is worth the price of the book and the time to read it. I wish the recommendations for recovery were more likely to be adopted. There are some excellent points about future trends, as in medicine for example. I like some of the suggestions for defense policy. The whole thing is a nice exercise in predicting the future. I just wish it would happen that way. I previously reviewed George Friedman’s The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century. I think I like this one better and highly recommend it.

As I watch what is happening, both here and in Europe, my fears overwhelm my remaining optimism. I hope I’m wrong.

Where are we bound ?

Sunday, October 11th, 2015

I watched the Sunday Talk Shows this morning and nothing was reassuring. Then I read the column from Richard Fernandez.

It makes sense. I have believed for some time that we are headed for a revolution. Maybe not an old fashioned bloody revolution but something is coming.

The anniversary of the U.S. war against the Islamic State passed with little notice. It was August 7 of last year that President Obama authorized the first airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq, a campaign he expanded a month later to include targets in Syria. So far this month, the president has delivered remarks on the Voting Rights Act, his deal with Iran, the budget, clean energy, and Hurricane Katrina. ISIS? Not a peep.

Obama’s quiet because the war is not going well … One of our most gifted generals predicts the conflict will last “10 to 20 years.” And now comes news that the Pentagon is investigating whether intelligence assessments of ISIS have been manipulated for political reasons.

His column today suggests that the Ship of State is drifting. He quotes Niall Ferguson’s article in the Wall Street Journal.

I have spent much of the past seven years trying to work out what Barack Obama’s strategy for the United States truly is. For much of his presidency, as a distinguished general once remarked to me about the commander in chief’s strategy, “we had to infer it from speeches.”

At first, I assumed that the strategy was simply not to be like his predecessor—an approach that was not altogether unreasonable, given the errors of the Bush administration in Iraq and the resulting public disillusionment. I read Mr. Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech—with its Quran quotes and its promise of “a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world”—as simply the manifesto of the Anti-Bush.

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Obama as the Godfather.

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

Richard Fernandez has an interesting take on Obama’s present foreign policy iteration. He sees himself as The Godfather negotiating among his capos and arranging the territories that each are allowed to possess.

The White House is also exploring what could be a diplomatic blockbuster: possible new limits and controls on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Such an accord might eventually open a path toward a Pakistani version of the civil nuclear deal that was done with India in 2005….

Pakistan prizes its nuclear program, so negotiations would be slow and difficult, and it’s not clear that Islamabad would be willing to accept the limitations that would be required. But the issue is being discussed quietly in the run-up to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Washington Oct. 22. Any progress would break a stalemate that has existed since the U.S. detected Pakistan’s nuclear program in the mid-1980s, and especially after Pakistan exploded its first weapon in 1998.

This is behind our negotiations with the Taliban, which seems just as intent on upsetting Obama’s applecart as they ever were. No matter. Obama will keep negotiating. As Woody Allan once said of stockbrokers, “They invest your money and keep investing it until it is all gone.”

David Ignatius seems to approve of this approach.

The U.S. recognized more than four years ago that the best way out of the Afghanistan conflict would be a diplomatic settlement that involved the Taliban and its sometime sponsors in Pakistan. State Department officials have been conducting secret peace talks, on and off, since 2011. That effort hasn’t borne fruit yet, as the Taliban’s recent offensive in Kunduz shows.

But the pace of negotiations has quickened this year, thanks to an unlikely U.S. diplomatic partnership with China. A senior administration official said Monday that “we’re hopeful that there will be a willingness on the part of the Taliban to resume negotiations,” despite the intense fighting in Kunduz and elsewhere. Beijing’s involvement is a “new dynamic” and shows an instance where “U.S. interests overlap with those of China.”

Yes, China will pull our chestnuts out of this particular fire. We can trust the Chinese. After all, we trusted them with the OPM database management.

It’s not just that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) failed to certify nearly a quarter of its IT systems as secure.

The real news is that outsourcing government IT tasks led to Chinese contract workers, and at least one person working in China, having root access to OPM systems.

Having root access, of course, means having access to any data you want in the system – regardless of any security application that may protect the data against “unauthorized” users.

Yes, we can trust the Chinese.

Meanwhile, Obama was lecturing Putin on his responsibilities.

Russia’s leadership is challenging truths that only a few weeks ago seemed self-evident, that in the 21st century, the borders of Europe cannot be redrawn with force, that international law matters, that people and nations can make their own decisions about their future. …

And that’s why Russia’s violation of international law, its assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, must be met with condemnation, not because we’re trying to keep Russia down, but because the principles that have meant so much to Europe and the world must be lifted up….

Understand as well this is not another Cold War that we’re entering into. After all, unlike the Soviet Union, Russia leads no bloc of nations, no global ideology. … I believe that for both Ukraine and Russia, a stable peace will come through de-escalation, a direct dialogue between Russia and the government of Ukraine and the international community, monitors who can ensure that the rights of all Ukrainians are protected, a process of constitutional reform within Ukraine and free and fair elections this spring.

Yes, this is no Cold War. “The 1980s are now asking for their foreign policy back.”

Yes, very insightful. This is what passes for foreign policy in Obama’s last term.

David Petraeus testified last month to the Senate Armed Services Committee on U.S. policy in the Middle East. Regarding Syria, the former general and CIA director urged a credible threat to destroy Bashar Assad’s air force if it continues to bomb its own people. He also recommended “the establishment of enclaves in Syria protected by coalition air power, where a moderate Sunni force could be supported and where additional forces could be trained, internally displaced persons could find refuge, and the Syrian opposition could organize.”

But Barack Obama does not agree. At his Friday press conference, the president described such views as “mumbo-jumbo,” “half-baked ideas,” “as-if” solutions, a willful effort to “downplay the challenges involved in the situation.” He says the critics have no answers to the questions of “what exactly would you do and how would you fund it and how would you sustain it.”

America’s greatest living general might as well have been testifying to his shower drain for all the difference his views are going to make in this administration.

The “smartest man in the room” is in charge. What could go wrong ?

The Washington Free Beacon thinks it is no coincidence that “Obama’s top advisers on ISIS, Russia, and Cyber-Security have all resigned over the past two weeks”.

Last week, President Obama’s education secretary Arne Duncan announced that he was leaving at the end of the year. Far less attention has been paid to the string of other high-profile resignations that have rocked the administration since September 22, when Bloomberg reported that John Allen, the retired general Obama hand-picked to lead the U.S. war effort against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, was stepping down.

One week later, on September 29, POLITICO reported that Evelyn Farkas, the top Pentagon official responsible for overseeing U.S. relations with Russia and Ukraine, was leaving her post after five years. According to the site, the administration is expected to “have a hard time finding a replacement,” as Farkas’s resignation comes at a time of considerable division within the Obama administration over how to respond to Russian aggression in Ukraine and Syria.

The resignation of Ari Schwartz, the administration’s top adviser on cyber-security, was barely acknowledged. Schwartz stepped down on October 1, having served in the position since March of last year. His tenure coincided with a series of damaging cyber attacks believed to have been carried out by the Russian and Chinese governments, including the large-scale theft of sensitive employee information from the Office of Personnel Management.

He had yet to learn that the men who could rearrange the world over snifters of brandy could also beat each other to death with baseball bats. It will be interesting to learn from future histories (if any are written) exactly when Putin and other American enemies first realized that he was faking it. But when the moment of discovery came, Obama soon realized that running with wolves came at the price of terrible danger.

He doesn’t know it and probably never will.

Is Obama our punishment ?

Saturday, October 3rd, 2015

Obama was an unusual candidate for president in 2008. I had serious questions in 2008.

One criticism of Obama is that his portfolio is mighty thin. He has no record. Well, he actually does and and here it is. Pretty interesting.

It’s a lengthy record filled with core liberal issues. But what’s interesting, and almost never discussed, is that he built his entire legislative record in Illinois in a single year.

Why was that ? In 2002, the Democrats took over the Illinois legislature, not because of Bush as the reporter says, but because the Republican governor got caught selling drivers’ licenses to truckers with bad driving records. A disastrous truck accident splashed the whole story across the newspapers and the Democrats took over in the next election.

The white, race-baiting, hard-right Republican Illinois Senate Majority Leader James “Pate” Philip was replaced by Emil Jones Jr., a gravel-voiced, dark-skinned African-American known for chain-smoking cigarettes on the Senate floor.

Jones had served in the Illinois Legislature for three decades. He represented a district on the Chicago South Side not far from Obama’s. He became Obama’s ­kingmaker.

Several months before Obama announced his U.S. Senate bid, Jones called his old friend Cliff Kelley, a former Chicago alderman who now hosts the city’s most popular black call-in radio ­program.

I called Kelley last week and he recollected the private conversation as follows:

“He said, ‘Cliff, I’m gonna make me a U.S. Senator.’”

“Oh, you are? Who might that be?”

“Barack Obama.”

Obama ended up in the US Senate because the GOP Senator, Peter Fitzgerald, did not run for re-election. Why ?

While State Senator he was a member of a group of conservative state senators elected in 1992 who often challenged the leadership of the Illinois Republican Party and were dubbed the “Fab Five”, the group also included, Steve Rauschenberger, Dave Syverson, Patrick O’Malley and Chris Lauzen.

After a hard-fought primary victory against Illinois Comptroller Loleta Didrickson, in which the latter had the support of most national and state-level Republican leaders, Fitzgerald defeated first-term Democratic incumbent U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun in 1998, and served for one term in the U.S. Senate. He was the first Republican in Illinois to win a U.S. Senate race in 20 years, and the only Republican challenger in the country to defeat an incumbent Democratic senator in the 1998 election cycle. Although Moseley Braun was dogged by negative publicity of corruption charges, Fitzgerald defeated her by only 2.9%.

Fitzgerald is a staunch conservative on such issues as opposition to abortion (except to save the life of the mother), gun control, gay marriage and taxes, but on some issues, particularly environmental issues — he opposed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge throughout his tenure in the US Senate — he broke with conservative colleagues. He was one of only a handful of GOP Senators to support the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation.

He was a “maverick” and was not supported by “the Illinois Combine,” a term coined by columnist John Kass to describe the bipartisan corruption in Illinois politics that has brought the state to bankruptcy.

I called former U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, the Republican maverick from Illinois who tried to fight political corruption and paid for it. For this sin, he was driven out of Illinois politics by political bosses, by their spinners and media mouthpieces, who ridiculed him mercilessly.

Senator, what do you call that connection that Stuart Levine describes from the witness stand, you know that arrangement across party lines, with politically powerful men leveraging government to make money — what do you call it?

“What do you call that Illinois political class that’s not committed to any party, they simply want to make money off the taxpayers?” Fitzgerald said. “You know what to call them.”

What?

“The Illinois Combine,” Fitzgerald said. “The bipartisan Illinois political combine. And all these guys being mentioned, they’re part of it.”

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Where we are going and how we got here.

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

I have posted a number of previous opinions on how and why we invaded Iraq. The most recent is here.

There are other explanations that cover this question.

From late 1998 onwards, the sole inhibition on Saddam’s WMD programme was the sanctions regime. Iraq was forbidden to use the revenue from its oil except for certain specified non-military purposes. The sanctions regime, however, was also subject to illegal trading and abuse. Because of concerns about its inadequacy – and the impact on the Iraqi people – we made several attempts to refine it, culminating in a new UN resolution in May of this year. But it was only partially effective. Around $3bn of money is illegally taken by Saddam every year now, double the figure for 2000. Self-evidently there is no proper accounting for this money.

Because of concerns that a containment policy based on sanctions alone could not sufficiently inhibit Saddam’s weapons programme, negotiations continued after 1998 to gain re-admission for the UN inspectors. In 1999 a new UN resolution demanding their re-entry was passed and ignored. Further negotiations continued. Finally, after several months of discussion with Saddam’s regime this year, Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General, concluded that Saddam was not serious about re-admitting the inspectors and ended the negotiations. That was in July.

All of this is established fact. I set out the history in some detail because occasionally debate on this issue seems to treat it almost as if it had suddenly arisen, coming out of nowhere on a whim, in the last few months of 2002. It is an 11 year history: a history of UN will flouted, lies told by Saddam about existence of his chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programmes, obstruction, defiance and denial. There is one common consistent theme, however: the total determination of Saddam to maintain the programme; to risk war, international ostracism, sanctions, the isolation of the Iraqi economy, in order to keep it. At any time, he could have let the inspectors back in and put the world to proof. At any time he could have co-operated with the UN. Ten days ago he made the offer unconditionally, under threat of war. He could have done it at any time in the last eleven years. But he didn’t. Why?

This is from Tony Blair’s speech to Parliament.

There are too many people who don’t remember what happened. This really goes back to the end of the Ottoman Empire.

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