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51  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Feiler: Moses on: October 14, 2014, 12:44:05 AM
Moses is America's prophet
By Bruce Feiler, Special to CNN
March 29, 2010 1:28 p.m. EDT

    Bruce Feiler calls this week, from Passover to Easter, Moses week in America.
    Feiler says U.S. and its leaders have referred to narrative of Moses for over 400 years
    Pilgrims, Jefferson, Statue of Liberty, spirituals, Superman refer to Moses, he says
    Moses represents courage, balance of freedom and law, ideal of justice, he says

Editor's note: Bruce Feiler is the author of "Walking the Bible," "Abraham" and "America's Prophet: Moses and the American Story." His new book, "The Council of Dads," will be published in April.
(CNN) -- This Saturday, millions of Americans will watch the annual spectacle of Charlton Heston acting the part of a Cold War hero in Cecil B. DeMille's "The Ten Commandments." The TV air date is no accident.

This week, beginning with Passover and ending with Easter, is "Moses week" in America. It's the one time of year when the biblical hero steps to the forefront of religious ritual, renewing the special bond that has existed between the great prophet and the United States for over 400 years.

Moses was an American icon long before there was an America. When the Pilgrims left England in 1620, they described themselves as the chosen people fleeing their pharaoh, King James. On the Atlantic, they proclaimed their journey to be as vital as "Moses and the Israelites when they went out of Egypt." And when they got to Cape Cod, they thanked God for letting them pass through their fiery Red Sea.

By the time of the Revolution, Moses had become the go-to narrative of American freedom. In 1751, the Pennsylvania Assembly chose a quote from the Five Books of Moses for its State House bell, "Proclaim Liberty thro' all the Land to all the Inhabitants Thereof -- Levit. XXV 10."

The future Liberty Bell was hanging above the room where the Continental Congress passed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Congress' last order of business that day was to form a committee of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams to design a seal for the new United States. The committee submitted its recommendation that August: Moses, leading the Israelites across the Red Sea. In their eyes, Moses was America's true Founding Father.
Two-thirds of the eulogies at George Washington's death compared him to Moses.
--Bruce Feiler

But escaping bondage proved to be only half the story. After the Israelites arrived in the desert, they faced a period of lawlessness, which prompted the Ten Commandments. The message: Freedom depends on law.

Americans faced a similar moment of chaos after the Revolution. Just as a reluctant Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and then handed down the Ten Commandments, a reluctant George Washington led the colonists to victory and then presided over the drafting of the Constitution. The parallel was not lost. Two-thirds of the eulogies at Washington's death compared him to Moses.

Although Moses was a unifying presence during the founding era, a generation later, he got dragged into the issue that most divided the country. The Israelites' escape from slavery was the dominant motif of slave spirituals, including "Turn Back Pharaoh's Army," "I Am Bound for the Promised Land" and the most famous, "Go Down, Moses," which was called the national anthem of slaves.

Yet as abolitionists used the exodus to attack slavery, Southerners used it to defend the institution. The War Between the States became the War Between the Moseses. It took America's most Bible-quoting president to reunite the country. Abraham Lincoln talked about the exodus at Gettysburg, and, when he died, he too was compared to Moses.

"There is no historic figure more noble than that of the Jewish lawgiver," Henry Ward Beecher eulogized. "There is scarcely another event in history more touching than his death." Until now. "Again a great leader of the people has passed through toil, sorrow, battle and war, and come near to the promised land of peace, into which he might not pass over."
The country's greatest icon, the Statue of Liberty ... even Superman [were] modeled partly on Moses.
--Bruce Feiler

Political figures weren't the only ones compared to Moses; national icons were, as well, including Uncle Sam and Old Glory. The country's greatest icon, the Statue of Liberty, was designed with spikes of light around her head and a tablet in her arms to mimic Moses' pose when he climbed down Sinai with shafts of light around his head and tablets of law in his hands.

Even Superman was modeled partly on Moses. The comic-book hero's creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, modeled their superhero on the superhero of the Torah. Just as baby Moses is floated down the Nile in a basket to escape annihilation, baby Superman is launched into space in a rocket ship to avoid extinction. Both Moses and Superman were picked up by aliens and raised in strange environments before being summoned to aid humanity. Superman's birth name was Kal-el, which is Hebrew for "swift god."

But it was Cecil B. DeMille who turned Moses into a symbol of American power in the Cold War. The 1956 epic "The Ten Commandments," the fifth highest-grossing movie of all time, opened with DeMille appearing onscreen.

"The theme of this picture is whether men ought to be ruled by God's law or whether they are to be ruled by the whims of a dictator," he said. "The same battle continues throughout the world today."

To drive home his point, DeMille cast mostly Americans as Israelites and Europeans as Egyptians. And in the film's final shot, Charlton Heston quotes the Liberty Bell (even though it comes from three books earlier in the Bible) and recreates the pose of the Statue of Liberty, forever securing America's place as the new Promised Land.

Today, 40 years after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. compared himself to Moses on the night before his assassination, the Hebrew prophet is as resonant as ever.

George W. Bush said in an Oval Office interview that he was inspired to run for the presidency by a sermon in Texas in which his preacher said Moses was not a man of words but still led his people to freedom. Barack Obama said in 2007 that the civil rights pioneers were the "Moses generation," and he was part of the "Joshua generation" that would "find our way across the river." And this week, Obama holds the second White House seder.

What explains this ongoing appeal?

First, Moses embodies the courage to escape hardship and seek a better world. He keeps alive the ministry of hope. "Not America," as W.E.B. DuBois put it, "but what America will be." Moses is the figurehead of "America will be."

Second, Moses encapsulates the American juggling act between freedom and law. "Since the exodus," German poet Heinrich Heine said, "freedom has always spoken with a Hebrew accent."

Finally, Moses is a reminder that a moral society is one that embraces the outsider and uplifts the downtrodden. "You shall not oppress a stranger," God says in Exodus 23, "for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt." Moses represents the ideals of American justice.

Yet he reminds us that we often fall short of our dreams. As King said, "I've been to the mountaintop. And I've looked over. I've seen the promised land. And I may not get there with you, but I want you to know that we as a people will get to the promised land."

These words capture what may be the most enduring lesson of Moses: The true destination of a journey of hope is not this year at all but next.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Bruce Feiler.
52  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / SW Browne: Heroes on: October 13, 2014, 09:33:25 PM
53  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: Buy! on: October 13, 2014, 01:42:47 PM
Monday Morning Outlook
Timing The Market Doesn't Work To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 10/13/2014

The stock market doesn’t owe anything to anyone. If you missed the bottom in 2009, no one owes you another chance to get in when stocks are that cheap. We may never see such historic lows again.
And even if markets did give us another chance, most investors would probably miss it all over again because they would be in such a panic – just like in 2009. Breathless, breaking-news would provide so much instantaneous, and conflicting, analysis of technical indicators, like “support levels,” “trading-volume,” “200-day moving averages,” and “new highs and lows” that investors wouldn’t be able to act with any confidence.
Fundamental analysts would talk of a “downward spiral in the wealth effect,” “a new normal,” “peak earnings,” “political gridlock,” or, “Fed inaction.” With this back-drop investors would expect even more declines.
But, even after the events of recent weeks, an investor that bought the S&P 500 on December 1, 2007, and held, would have made 6% per year (including dividends) through today. More recently, even after another 1.5% drop last Friday, the S&P 500 was 12.6% above its level of a year ago (14.9%, with dividends). How many people think of 2007, or last October, as a buying opportunity?
Believe it or not, we would argue that today is what a buying opportunity looks like. When stocks were rising just a few months ago, lots of investors were upset they hadn’t gone “long” in 2013. Now, with markets falling, and equity prices hovering near those same levels, they hesitate to buy.
Think about all the reasons for the market drop. One fear is a slowdown in Europe. But Europe has been a very sickly plow horse for several years, so much so that many serious economists were proposing a break-up of the Euro.
We’re not forecasting an economic boom in Europe, but with money easy, a collapse is not in the cards either. More like a slow motion continuation of very weak real growth as Euro-sclerosis continues.
Another fear is a slowdown in China. But goods exports to China are only 0.7% of US GDP, about half of what we export to Mexico, and if China gets in trouble our imports from China will cost less. When China is importing much more from the US, a slowdown there will be more significant. But for now, the concern is overdone.
Yet another fear is that “Abe-nomics” isn’t working in Japan. For the record, it won’t work. Free-markets, not government, save economies. Japan has been in decline for the past two decades, but the US has still grown. In other words, it’s nothing new.
The strangest fear is that a strong US dollar will hurt the market. But a strong dollar in the 1980s and 1990s coincided with a bull market, not a bust. King Dollar is good for investors.
We are not saying equities will go up today, or tomorrow, or even this week. Heck, for all we know the long-awaited correction may finally be upon us.

But, the Fed is not tight, trade protectionism is not in the wind, tax rates are not headed higher, and big government is checked by divided government. Profits are still rising, the US economy is accelerating, and our models show that equities are still cheap. It may not be the “mother of all buying opportunities,” but it ain’t the end of equities, either.
54  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Kurds getting fuct on: October 13, 2014, 11:38:30 AM

Leaving a U.S. Ally Outgunned by ISIS
A Kurdish official has written to Defense Secretary Hagel pleading for the U.S. to honor its promises of military aid.
By David Tafuri
Oct. 12, 2014 5:54 p.m. ET

In President Obama ’s Sept. 11 speech about combating Islamic State jihadists, he said that America “will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq.” But the president said that U.S. military advisers “are needed to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces with training, intelligence and equipment.”

If this is the plan, little in terms of weaponry or training has reached Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraq—and they are begging Washington to make good on its promises.

In the meantime, in the front-line town Khazar, between Islamic State-held Mosul and the Kurdish capital, Erbil, Peshmerga forces drive unarmored pickup trucks and carry AK-47s as they face off against Islamic State, aka ISIS, fighters armed with U.S.-made tanks, armored Humvees and heavy artillery. The imbalance is replicated across the entire border of almost 650 miles that Kurds share with ISIS in Iraq.

In three trips to the Kurdistan Region since ISIS invaded Iraq in early June, I have seen the situation improve as a result of U.S.-led airstrikes, but little has changed in terms of the supply of equipment and training for our Kurdish allies.

The coalition that supports the airstrikes should take immediate action to provide the Peshmerga with the offensive and defensive equipment they need to match the firepower of ISIS. Failing to do so increases the likelihood—despite President Obama’s vows not to involve U.S. forces—that America and other coalition countries, which include France, Australia and the U.K., will have to send in troops to defeat ISIS.

In a letter sent on Oct. 2 to U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that until now has not been made public, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Minister of Peshmerga Affairs Mustafa Sayid Qadir pleaded for help, saying that his forces still carry “outdated AK-47s, Soviet Dragunov rifles and other light arms.”

The letter, which I was given access to by the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs, tabulated the surprisingly small amount of equipment received from international allies. In addition to AK-47s, the U.S. has provided fewer than 100 mortars and just a few hundred rocket-propelled grenades, or RPGs. The Peshmerga haven’t received a single tank or armored vehicle from coalition countries. The problem is compounded by the fact that Iraqi security forces denied the Peshmerga access to the thousands of tanks and armored vehicles the U.S. left behind for Iraq when the military pulled out in 2011. Meanwhile, ISIS fighters have commandeered U.S.-provided tanks and Humvees abandoned by Iraqi forces fleeing from battle.

The U.S. effort to arm and train Peshmerga forces is hindered by at least three factors. First, U.S. diplomats continue to follow the so-called One Iraq Policy, which considers giving direct assistance to the Kurdistan Regional Government—whether military or nonmilitary—a potential blow to Iraqi national unity. Whatever U.S. interest this policy may have served in the years before ISIS emerged, it now endangers our closest ally in Iraq and puts Peshmerga forces at a significant disadvantage in their fight against ISIS.

Second, the U.S. continues to abide by the Iraqi government’s insistence that all shipments to the Kurds stop first in Baghdad, where Iraqi officials can delay or even block the shipments from ever reaching the Kurdisstan Region.

Third, State Department regulations prevent the Kurdistan Regional Government from purchasing American-made weapons and equipment without “end-user certificates” issued by Baghdad—certificates that the Iraqi government makes extremely difficult to obtain.

The Kurdistan Regional Government estimates it has more than 150,000 soldiers in the Peshmerga forces—about five times more than the highest estimates of ISIS fighters. The Peshmerga are committed to fighting ISIS and can be the “boots on the ground” that the U.S.-led coalition wants to avoid having to deploy. Yet they are struggling against ISIS because they lack even basic tactical equipment used by modern armies. Peshmerga Brig. Gen. Hazhar Ismail recently told me that less than 5% of the Peshmerga fighters even have helmets.

The U.S. can change this situation by: (1) supplying the Kurds with heavier weapons and needed defensive equipment, in particular armored Humvees, tanks and anti-armor rockets; (2) refusing to let Baghdad delay or block such shipments; (3) changing State Department regulations to permit issuance of end-user certificates by the Kurdistan Regional Government; and, (4) transferring to the Kurds some excess U.S. military equipment (including armored vehicles) stored on U.S. bases in the region.

In his Sept. 16 testimony to Congress, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey suggested that American ground troops may eventually be needed to fight ISIS. His message was met with criticism by those who oppose sending U.S. troops into combat in Iraq again. To reduce the chances of Washington having to confront that choice, the U.S. should make good on its promises and ensure that the Peshmerga are no longer outgunned by ISIS.

Mr. Tafuri, the U.S. State Department’s rule of law coordinator in Iraq from 2006 to 2007, is a partner at the Washington, D.C.-based law firm Squire Patton Boggs. He serves as legal counsel to the Kurdistan Regional Government.
55  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Obama plotting to close Guantanamo on: October 13, 2014, 11:35:30 AM
Obama Weighs Options to Close Guantanamo
Any Move to Override Congressional Ban on Bringing Detainees to U.S. Would Spark Fight
By Carol E. Lee and Jess Bravin
Oct. 9, 2014 8:02 p.m. ET

The U.S. facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, currently has 149 inmates detained in connection with the U.S. war on terrorism. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

The White House is drafting options that would allow President Barack Obama to close the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by overriding a congressional ban on bringing detainees to the U.S., senior administration officials said.

Such a move would be the latest and potentially most dramatic use of executive power by the president in his second term. It would likely provoke a sharp reaction from lawmakers, who have repeatedly barred the transfer of detainees to the U.S.

The discussions underscore the president’s determination to follow through on an early campaign promise before he leaves the White House, officials said, despite the formidable domestic and international obstacles in the way.

Administration officials say Mr. Obama strongly prefers a legislative solution over going around Congress. At the same time, a senior administration official said Mr. Obama is “unwavering in his commitment” to closing the prison—which currently has 149 inmates detained in connection with the nation’s post-9/11 war on terrorism—and wants to have all potential options available on an issue he sees as part of his legacy.

The White House has sought to make executive actions a centerpiece of its policy agenda, in areas including the minimum wage, antidiscrimination rules and, potentially, immigration. House Republicans, in response, are seeking to sue Mr. Obama, saying he overstepped his legal authority in bypassing Congress.

Unilateral action “would ignite a political firestorm, even if it’s the best resolution for the Guantanamo problem,” said American University law professor Stephen Vladeck. Republicans are sure to oppose it, while Democrats could be split, he said.

White House officials have concluded Mr. Obama likely has two options for closing Guantanamo, should Congress extend the restrictions, which it could do after the midterm elections.

He could veto the annual bill setting military policy, known as the National Defense Authorization Act, in which the ban on transferring detainees to the U.S. is written. While the veto wouldn’t directly affect military funding, such a high-stakes confrontation with Congress carries significant political risks.

A second option would be for Mr. Obama to sign the bill while declaring restrictions on the transfer of Guantanamo prisoners an infringement of his powers as commander in chief, as he has done previously. Presidents of both parties have used such signing statements to clarify their understanding of legislative measures or put Congress on notice that they wouldn’t comply with provisions they consider infringements of executive power.

The core obstacle standing in the White House’s way is Congress’s move in 2010 to ban the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the U.S. That legislation was passed after the administration sparked a backlash when it proposed relocating detainees to a maximum-security prison in Thomson, Ill.

The administration hopes to tamp down controversy by reducing the inmate population by at least half through quickly transferring Guantanamo detainees cleared for release.

On Thursday, Estonia, which Mr. Obama visited last month, announced it would accept one detainee. Officials said additional transfers are in the works.

“We are very pleased with the support from our friends and allies, and we are very grateful to them,” said Clifford Sloan, the State Department envoy for Guantanamo closure.

Nonetheless, administration officials say the detention center can’t be closed without sending at least some of the remaining inmates to the U.S. mainland.

Mr. Obama said in his 2014 State of the Union address that “this needs to be the year Congress lifts the remaining restrictions on detainee transfers and we close the prison at Guantanamo Bay.” The president now expects to miss that deadline, administration officials say, a departure from earlier this summer when White House aides were still saying it was possible.

Mr. Obama’s decision in May to exchange Guantanamo detainees for an American prisoner of war, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, without the required 30-day advance congressional notice drew a backlash on the Hill. The start of a U.S.-led fight against the Islamic State militant group has similarly overshadowed any appetite for a repeal of the ban.

A Gallup poll released in June said 29% of Americans support closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay and transferring detainees to U.S. prisons, while 66% oppose the idea.

Most of the nearly 800 men held at Guantanamo since it opened in 2002 were released during the George W. Bush administration. Of the 149 who remain, 79 have been approved for transfer by national-security officials but remain because of political or diplomatic obstacles in repatriating them.

Another 37 have been designated for continued detention without trial. These are men considered too dangerous to release, yet against whom the government lacks usable evidence. A further 23 have been referred for prosecution by military commission, where 10 detainees, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-defendants accused of orchestrating the Sept. 11 attacks, are in pretrial hearings.

Officials, who declined to say where detainees might be housed if taken to the mainland, said the U.S. has ample space in its prisons for several dozen high-security prisoners. The administration has reviewed several facilities that could house the remaining detainees, with the military brig at Charleston, S.C., considered the most likely.

Since winning re-election, Mr. Obama has made several moves designed to speed the prison’s closure. He named envoys at the State and Defense Departments to help secure the transfer of detainees to foreign countries. He lifted the administration’s moratorium on sending detainees to Yemen, which counts 58 nationals among those cleared for transfer.

Part of the administration’s strategy for reducing political opposition to lifting the ban on transferring detainees is to whittle the number in Guantanamo to the point where the cost of maintaining the installation is unpalatable. The annual cost per inmate is $2.7 million, in contrast with $78,000 at a supermax prison on the mainland, officials say.

“As the number becomes smaller at Guantanamo, the case for domestic transfers…becomes that much stronger,” a senior administration official said.

Prisoner transfers to foreign countries have slowed this year. A transfer of six Guantanamo Bay prisoners to Uruguay is tied up in that country’s Oct. 26 presidential elections. The current president has agreed to accept the detainees, while his opponent has said he wouldn’t.

Before the swap that led to Sgt. Bergdahl’s release, the administration completed the transfer of 12 detainees, a senior administration official said. No detainees have been transferred since.

The U.S. requires countries to meet certain criteria before allowing them to accept detainees. Countries, for instance, must provide the U.S. with assurances that the detainees won’t return to the battlefield and will be treated humanely. Many of the countries willing to take detainees are European, including France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Latvia and Slovakia. But there are a growing number in South and Latin America.
56  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Epidemics: Bird Flu, TB, AIDs, Superbugs, Ebola, etc on: October 13, 2014, 11:29:17 AM
Feds Underestimating How Easy It Is to Get Ebola

A nurse from one of the best health care systems in the world has contracted Ebola. The nurse cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, the man who traveled to Dallas from Liberia with the disease, and checked herself into her hospital's emergency room Oct. 12. This story challenges the Obama administration's narrative. In a September video message, Barack Obama told the people of Liberia it was safe enough to sit on the bus next to a person infected with the disease and still not contract Ebola. Cue the CDC, which issued a travel warning for the country, telling travelers to "avoid unnecessary travel." Now, doctors are saying it may be easier to contract the disease than previously assumed. Dr. Dennis Maki, an infectious diseases specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said, "Some of the garb the health worker takes off might brush against a surface and contaminate it. New data suggest that even tiny droplets of a patient's body fluids can contain the virus." The 3,000 American soldiers fighting Ebola in Liberia are in greater danger than Obama lets on.
57  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton, Federalist #1, 1787 on: October 13, 2014, 11:27:56 AM
"In politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution." --Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 1, 1787
58  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 40 years of safe fracking in CA on: October 13, 2014, 09:34:04 AM 
59  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson, 1823: Judiciary is the most dangerous of the branches. on: October 12, 2014, 04:04:26 PM
"At the establishment of our constitutions, the judiciary bodies were supposed to be the most helpless and harmless members of the government. Experience, however, soon showed in what way they were to become the most dangerous... In truth, man is not made to be trusted for life, if secured against all liability to account." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Monsieur A. Coray, 1823
60  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Canada hit by virus too on: October 12, 2014, 04:00:50 PM
second post

Guest Column: Terror's Virus on the Northern Border
by David B. Harris
Special to IPT News
October 7, 2014
Ever since full-blown cases of the disease hit the United States, Canadians have dreaded the contagion's arrival north of the 49th parallel.

Its effects: blindness and a deadly incapacity to recognize and adapt to reality.

The malady? The White House's refusal to identify the leading terrorist enemy by name and combatant doctrine.

President Obama began his administration by avoiding counterterror language likely to link Islam with violence. This reflected a civilized and practical impulse to avoid alienating Muslims at home and abroad.

But perhaps influenced by the demonstrable fact that President Obama, as former terror prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy put it, "made Islamic supremacists key administration advisors," this effort quickly got out of control. Now the White House fetishizes and enforces on its security agencies, a refusal to identify the doctrine underlying the bulk of the world's terrorism woes: radical Islamism.

Remarkable, considering that Muslims sounded the alarm years ago.

"Obviously not all Muslims are terrorists but, regrettably, the majority of the terrorists in the world are Muslims," wrote Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed in a 2004 Al-Sharq Al-Awsat article flagged by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

Despite this, the Obama White House banned words like "Islamists," "Muslims" and "jihad" from security documents, even from FBI and other government agencies' counterterror training manuals.

Lawyer and retired US military intelligence officer Major Stephen C. Coughlin exposed the censorship's extent at a February 2010 conference. In 2004, he noted, the 9/11 Commission Report made 126 mentions of "jihad," 145 of "Muslim," and used the word "Islam" over 300 times. No surprise.

But Washington later purged such terms completely from the FBI counterterrorism lexicon (2008), National Intelligence Strategy (2009) and even the 2010 panel reviewing jihadi Nidal Malik Hasan's 2009 Fort Hood massacre – except as unavoidable parts of names of terror organizations or the like. The practice seems to continue.


Understanding the threat – extremist Muslims, in this case – requires understanding their doctrine. If terrorists were invoking Christianity – it has happened – security and intelligence organizations would focus on problematic churches and related facilities connected to radical preaching, funding and recruitment. Christian holy literature would be scrutinized, in order to anticipate terrorists' plans, targets and attack-dates. Redouble the guard on Christmas or Easter? Could atheists, Muslims or Jews be targets? Regardless whether extremists' interpretations should, in any objective sense, be true or false representations of the ideology in question, serious intelligence must look at these things in order to understand and master the threats posed by all extremist strains of religion or other ideologies. Politicians and the public must discuss them. Public education, transparency, democracy and our defense, demand this. Anything else is misleading, self-deceiving and likely self-defeating.

Northern Exposure

So it was that, three years ago, the Canadian government published the first of its annual series of public threat reports. This straight-talking assessment pinpointed "Sunni Islamist extremism" as a primary menace to Canadians.

But, tragically, the D.C. disease had overtaken Canada's security bureaucracy by the time August brought the 2014 Public Report On The Terrorist Threat to Canada. This report expunges all direct references to Islamists, other than in terror-organization names.

Take, for example, the latest report's warning about Canadians joining terror outfits abroad. Gone are terms like "Islamist extremists" and even "violent jihad." The report's authors – apparently burdened by "advice" from misguided outreach to Canadian Islamists – slavishly substituted generic terms like "extremist travellers" for language revealing the religious claims, affiliations, motivations and doctrines of our enemies. "Extremist travellers" appears dozens of times to the exclusion of meaningful nomenclature – an editing embarrassment, on top of a national-security one. From the 2014 report:

Europol estimates that between 1,200 and 2,000 European extremist travellers took part in the conflict in Syria in 2013. There appears to be an increase in extremist travellers. This suggests that the threat posed to Europe by returning extremist travellers may be more significant than the threat facing North America because greater numbers of extremist travellers are leaving, then returning to Europe, than are leaving and later returning to North America. This difference between Canada and Europe in numbers of extremist travellers can be attributed to a variety of factors. Regardless, Europe and Canada face a common, interconnected threat from extremist travellers. [Emphasis added.]

In just one paragraph, Canada's self-censoring report says that many Europeans are "fighting abroad as extremist travellers"; "they attract extremist travellers … and continue to draw European extremist travellers"; there were "European extremist travellers in Syria and other conflict zones"; the "influx of these extremist travellers into Syria" increases the European terror risk; "an extremist traveller who returned from Syria" allegedly slaughtered several Belgians. (Emphasis added.)

This doubletalk undermines public awareness, public confidence in authorities and the ability of officials and citizens alike to recognize, assess and confront terrorist and subversive enemies and their doctrine.

We saw the absurd far reaches of this self-blinding mentality a few years ago when Canadian police officers at a terrorism news conference thanked "the community" for facilitating an Islamist terrorist take-down. When a journalist asked which community they meant, the officers – not daring to say "Muslim" – all but froze, thawing only enough to become caricatures of stymied stumbling. Because paralyzing PC protocols banned the M-word, the conference ended without the officers having been able explicitly to thank the deserving "Muslim community."

How has Canada come to this?

Among other sources, Canadian security officials get advice from their federal government's Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security. Prominent member Hussein Hamdani reportedly campaigned to drop language implicating things "Islamic." Meanwhile, Hamdani, the subject of a just-released report by Canada's Point de Bascule counter extremist research organization, remains vice-chair of the North American Spiritual Revival (NASR) organization. On its website, NASR boasts – as it has done for years – of sponsoring an appearance in Canada by U.S. Imam Siraj Wahhaj, frequently tagged a radical and a 1993 World Trade Center bombing unindicted co-conspirator. Fellow American Muslim Stephen Suleyman Schwartz, executive director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, once said of Wahhaj: "He's the No. 1 advocate of radical Islamic ideology among African-Americans. His stuff is very appealing to young Muslims who are on a radical path."

Hamdani's NASR also brought American Imam Ziad Shakir to Canada. His disturbing ideology, as I've written elsewhere, "was condemned by moderate American Muslim leader and retired U.S. naval Lt. Cmdr Zuhdi Jasser, and by the American Anti-Defamation League." Some have other concerns about Hamdani.

Now comes word that Hamdani, squired by Angus Smith, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) analyst sometimes linked to the censorship policy, will appear on a Montgomery County, Md. panel tomorrow to enlighten Americans about radicalism and the ISIS terror threat.


This isn't the least of it. Days before the scheduled visit, it was discovered that RCMP outreachers inconceivably had collaborated for months with the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) in producing "United Against Terrorism," an erstwhile counter-radicalization handbook. Inconceivably, because NCCM is the renamed Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN), the Canadian chapter of CAIR, a Saudi-funded U.S. unindicted co-conspirator group. (In its July 2013 name-change announcement, NCCM admitted, with respect to CAIR-CAN, that "We remain the same organization," leading to suspicions that the adjustment was a cosmetic attempt to kick over documented CAIR-CAN traces to radicalism.)

As for CAIR-CAN/NCCM's U.S. mother organization: "The [US] Government has produced ample evidence," concluded the relevant U.S. district court's decision, "to establish the associations of CAIR, ISNA and NAIT …with Hamas."

In addition, several senior CAIR staffers and affiliated persons – including CAIR's former national civil liberties coordinator – have done pen-time for terrorism-related offenses. But the Canadian chapter has yet to condemn publicly and by name the U.S. organization and these convicts, or reveal fully the nature of past or present financial and other dealings with CAIR.

The Islamic Social Services Association (ISSA), led by Shahina Siddiqui, joins the NCCM and RCMP in authorship on the handbook's cover. Canada's outreach counter-radicalization world seems to be a small, if not inbred, one, for Siddiqui happens also to be a member of both the NCCM's board, and the RCMP's national and Manitoba "diversity" committees.

Another curiosity of authorship involves the only named RCMP official identified in the book's "Consultants & Contributors" section: "TASLEEM BUDHWANI, PHD, C.PSYCH, Federal Policing Strategy, RCMP." A profile has this psychologist busy "enhancing partnerships between law enforcement and various sectors including NGOs … in the prevention of individual radicalization to violence." It is not known what Budhwani's views would be about national police force involvement with NGOs of the NCCM sort.
As for the handbook, it would ban all the usual terms, even declaring verboten the expression "moderate Muslims," because, said the authors, the expression is meant to imply that Muslims are not uniformly moderate. Parents are warned to be on the lookout for "External and overt expression of hyper-religiosity that is uncharacteristic of family culture," although one can only guess what to do, should this hyper-religiosity be altogether characteristic "of family culture." Elsewhere, the handbook seems a bit too eager to divorce radicalism and intense religiosity from the risk of religious violence. There was also rather too much emphasis, for some tastes, on Muslims' legal right to avoid cooperating with the RCMP. Readers would also recognize a continuation of the hallmarked NCCM/CAIR-CAN and CAIR campaign to push the generally unconvincing – and increasingly alienating and dangerous – Muslim victimhood narrative. This came replete with familiar attempts to propagate the word "Islamophobia," a term condemned by moderate Muslims as too-often wielded by Islamists to silence debate.

As Tarek Fatah, a well-known Pakistani-Canadian moderate, wrote, a few years ago:

Canada is a country where Muslims are respected and accommodated like in no other land on Earth, including Saudi Arabia and Iran. It is immoral for the Islamists to slander my country with the slur of Islamophobia. As Statistics Canada has shown, incidents of racism in Canada are far more likely to affect Christian black Canadians and Jewish Canadians than Muslims. …

"However," he concluded, "truth is the first casualty in this propaganda war being waged against Canada by its own Islamists."

For all this, the NCCM-ISSA-RCMP handbook then managed to go one better.

"Whom do we consult to gain an accurate understanding of our faith?" it asked. The answer was a list of scholar-interpreters of Islam who could apparently be relied upon in the delicate counter-radicalization context. The list reveals that it is not merely in the censorship department that Islamists have put one over on unduly compliant – and perhaps intimidated – RCMP outreach officers.

Among the recommended scholars, there's the startlingly hardline Ingrid Mattson (name misspelled in the handbook), former head of the Islamic Society of North America, an unindicted co-conspirator organization that was connected by the already-mentioned district court to Hamas. Mattson's Islamic chair at Huron University College, Ontario, notoriously benefits from significant radical-Islamic endowments. The scholar was last seen fending off complaints from a student claiming to have been jettisoned from Mattson's tax-funded classroom because he was non-Muslim.

Then there's the distinguished Imam Siraj Wahhaj, of the World Trade Center Wahhajs. His patchwork record involves alternately condemning violence and appearing to lust after it. Plus, the unappetizing Ziad Shakir. Not to mention the inevitable Jamal Badawi, former long-time CAIR-CAN/NCCM official. He's an unindicted co-conspirator his own right, someone who sat on ISNA's executive board (majlis). Badawi advocates light physical sharia discipline for errant wives. It remains unclear how the Badawi matrimonial approach aligns with the high-thinking and good works of handbooker Shahina Siddiqui and her Islamic Social Services Association.

Such are the moderate sherpas who guide the perplexed up counter-radicalization's gentle slopes.

No wonder many members of the public reacted with disbelief and disgust to the handbook fiasco. Or that RCMP ranks fell into a mass of post-publication panic and confusion. The day after the handbook's roll-out, a blushed-out RCMP, getting desperate enquiries from Canada's now-mortified Office of the Minister of Public Safety, scrambled out a news release. It said that the force was responsible for only one (benign) section of the handbook, and claimed improbably that the "tone" of some of the publication had caused the RCMP to pull out of the project at the last minute. Awfully "last minute," considering it was the day after launch that the RCMP news release emerged.

Thus, Mountie supremos regard bad "tone" as the actionable offense, rather than content prescribing self-hobbling wartime censorship and jihad-happy fire-breathers as counter-radical consultants. And no explanation why, days later, the handbook still bears the horsemen's name and logo. Or why the force hadn't publicly threatened legal action to have their name removed from it. Nor was there a commitment that RCMP HQ would at long last heed warnings, quit self-defeating, hardline-Islamist outreach, and publicly condemn the NCCM and its ilk – in the same way the Canadian prime minister's own director of communications had condemned NCCM for alleged Hamas-type connections, in January.

Especially in light of the contretemps between the prime minister's office and NCCM, there is floating over the handbook the unmistakable odor of a settling of accounts, an odor that might make the RCMP commissioner and his boss, the Public Safety minister, queasy about their continuing government employability. It was, after all, their diligence-free outreach that gave NCCM and ISSA the chance to make a fool out of the Prime Minister of Canada. For deep within the little handbook (p.34), comes a warning that law enforcement should never use the term "Islamicism." In Canada, this ungainly word – never in common use elsewhere, "Islamism" instead prevailing – is almost exclusively associated with a remark by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, one that was condemned by Islamists. "[T]he major threat," said Harper, in a headline-making 2011 CBC television interview, "is still Islamicism." The Islamists were riled up by Harper's effrontery, at the time, and so seem to have incorporated a touch of revenge in the handbook. This would not be the first RCMP outreach-driven embarrassment for a Canadian government, including a mess-up that may have involved an Iranian government operative.

In any event, the more nasty of observers looked at the RCMP's follow-on news release and wondered. Why, given the embarrassment and damage – and knuckle-rapping insult to their prime minister – did the release pull so many punches? Could this restraint mean that certain senior officials, compromised by outré outreach, were now scared to bear down? Was there a belief that Islamist "partners" should not be alienated, lest they be tempted to expose details of years of misguided interaction upon which certain RCMP executives had built careers?

The answer remains a mystery. But skeptical interpretations became more plausible to some, when the force's non-condemnatory news release came out more or less simultaneously with an NCCM release saluting RCMP cooperation with the Islamist group. Had all the loose liaising achieved the ultimate inversion, with the RCMP – and through it, the government – being turned into strange victims in a counter-radicalization Stockholm syndrome? Why, for that matter, are reliably moderate Canadian Muslim organizations like Muslims Facing Tomorrow and the Muslim Canadian Congress, enjoying hardly a fraction of the reinforcing, and capacity-building attentions splashed all over Islamists?

So, did the RCMP realize that it would be taken to the cleaners, and wind up helping NCCM and ISSA launder language and radicals via a counter-radicalization handbook? Maybe. But perhaps self-stifling in national security is now so internalized in the United States and Canada that it never occurs to some that certain people are radicals, and that radicals are not always our friends. Or the best guides to counter radicalization.

Burgeoning threats mean that citizens must press Washington and Ottawa to return to good sense, and put a stop to the deadly contagion of self-censorship and self-deceit – and worse – now hazarding national security and public safety.

Americans and Canadians must defeat the disease by curing their thinking.

A lawyer with 30 years' experience in intelligence affairs, David B. Harris is director of the International Intelligence Program, INSIGNIS Strategic Research Inc, Ottawa, Canada. The author is not responsible for the accuracy of, or views conveyed in, material in the links provided.
61  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: October 12, 2014, 01:55:40 PM
This article comes highly recommended to me by someone who was well outside the wire, working with Iraqi interpreters, during lively times.   I would quibble with some aspects of his description of the Bush strategy and of what Bush handed over to Obama, but on the whole I think this piece rather deep. 

Vainly I note that most of its recommendations parallel mine from August and last month. 
62  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Serious Read: How to defeat the Islamic State on: October 12, 2014, 01:24:47 PM
This article comes highly recommended to me by someone who was well outside the wire, working with Iraqi interpreters, during lively times.

I would quibble with some aspects of his description of the Bush strategy, but on the whole I think this piece rather deep.  Vainly I note that most of its recommendations parallel mine. 
63  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Estalilla at the IAMA on: October 12, 2014, 01:04:07 PM
64  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Serious Read: Qatar on: October 12, 2014, 11:46:56 AM
65  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The Dutch do it without smoke and mirrors on: October 12, 2014, 11:37:35 AM

Imagine a place where pensions were not an ever-deepening quagmire, where the numbers told the whole story and where workers could count on a decent retirement.

Imagine a place where regulators existed to make sure everyone followed the rules.

That place might just be the Netherlands. And it could provide an example for America’s troubled cities, or for states like Illinois and New Jersey that have promised more in pension benefits than they can deliver.

“The rest of the world sort of laughs at the United States — how can a great country like the United States get so many things wrong?” said Keith Ambachtsheer, a Dutch pension specialist who works at the University of Toronto — specifically at its Rotman International Center for Pension Management, a global clearinghouse of information on how successful retirement systems work.

Going Dutch, however, can be painful. Dutch pensions are scrupulously funded, unlike many United States plans, and are required to tally their liabilities with brutal honesty, using a method that is common in the financial-services industry but rejected by American public pension funds.

"Everybody wants safety and everybody wants an affordable system, and you can’t have both. It’s become a major public debate in the Netherlands,” said Keith Ambachtsheer, a Dutch pension specialist.

The Dutch system rests on the idea that each generation should pay its own costs — and that the costs must be measured accurately if that is to happen. After the financial collapse of 2008, workers and retirees in the Netherlands took the bitter medicine needed to rebuild their collective nest eggs quickly, with higher contributions from workers and benefit cuts for pensioners.

The Dutch approach bears little resemblance to the American practice of shielding the current generation of workers, retirees and taxpayers while pushing costs and risks into the future, where they can metastasize unseen. The most recent data suggest that public funds in the United States are holding just 67 cents for every dollar they owe to current and future pensioners, and in some places the strain is palpable. The Netherlands, by contrast, have no Detroits (no cities going bankrupt because pension costs grew while the population shrank), no Puerto Ricos (territories awash in debt but with no access to bankruptcy court) and nothing like an Illinois or New Jersey, where elected officials kicked the can down the road so many times that it finally hit a dead end.

About 90 percent of Dutch workers earn real pensions at their jobs. Their benefits are intended to amount to about 70 percent of their lifetime average pay, as many financial planners recommend. For this and other reasons, the Netherlands has for years been at or near the top of global pension rankings compiled by Mercer, the consulting firm, and the Australian Center for Financial Studies, among others.

Accomplishing this feat — solid workplace pensions for most citizens — isn’t easy. For one thing, it’s expensive. Dutch workers typically sock away nearly 18 percent of their pay, most of it in diversified, professionally run pension funds. That compares with 16.4 percent for American workers, but most of that is for Social Security, which is intended to provide just 40 percent of a middle-class worker’s income in retirement.

Dutch employers contribute to their system, too, but their payments are usually capped. While that may seem a counterintuitive way to make sure that pensions are well funded, it actually encourages companies to stick with pension plans. If the markets drop, Dutch employers do not receive urgent calls to pump in more money — the kind of cash calls that have prompted so many American companies to stop offering pensions. In the private sector, only 14 percent of Americans with retirement plans at work have defined-benefit pension plans — the ones that offer the most security — compared with 38 percent who had them in 1979. And if the markets rally and a Dutch pension fund earns more than it needs, the employers are not allowed to touch the surplus. In the United States, companies have found many ways to tap a pension surplus. The problem today is that there usually is no surplus left.

Dutch companies, as well as public-sector employers, typically band together by sector in big, pooled pension plans, then hire nonprofit firms to invest the money. Terms are negotiated sectorwide in talks that resemble American-style collective bargaining.

This vast collaborative process may sound too slow, too unwieldy and maybe even too socialist for American tastes. But standing guard over it is a decidedly capitalist watchdog, the Dutch central bank. More than a decade ago, after the dot-com collapse, a director of the central bank warned of a looming pension funding crisis. In response, the central bank in 2002 began to require pension funds to keep at least $1.05 on hand for every dollar they would have to pay in future benefits. If a fund fell below the line, it had just three years to recover.

American public pension funds have no such minimum requirement, and even if they did, there is no regulator to enforce it. Company pensions are bound by federal funding rules, but Congress has a tendency to soften them.

The Dutch central bank also imposed a rigorous method for measuring the current value of all pensions due in the future. Pensions are not supposed to be risky, so the Dutch measure them the same way the market prices very safe bonds, like Treasuries — that is, by discounting the future payments to today’s dollars with a very low interest rate. This method shows that a stable lifelong benefit is very valuable, and therefore very expensive to fund.

Notably, the Dutch central bank prohibited the measurement method that virtually all American states and cities use, which is based on the hope that strong market gains on pension investments will make the benefits cheaper. A significant downside to this method is that it lets pension systems take advantage of market gains today, but pushes the risk of losses into the future, for others to cope with. “We had lengthy discussions about this in the Netherlands,” said Theo Kocken, an economist who teaches at the Free University in Amsterdam and is the founder of Cardano, a risk analysis firm. “But all economists now agree. The expected-return approach is a huge economic offense, hurting younger generations.”

He explained that in the Netherlands, regulators believe that basing the cost of benefits today on possible investment gains tomorrow is the same as robbing tomorrow’s workers to pay for today’s excesses.

"The expected-return approach is a huge economic offense, hurting younger generations,” said Theo Kocken, a Dutch economist.

Most public pension officials in the United States reject this view, saying governments can wait out bear markets because governments, unlike companies, don’t go out of business.

For years, economists have been calling on American cities and states to measure pensions the Dutch way. And, in fact, California’s big state pension system, Calpers, sometimes calculates a city’s total obligation by that method. When Stockton went bankrupt, for instance, Calpers recalculated and found that the city owed it $1.6 billion. Of course, Stockton is insolvent and does not have an extra $1.6 billion, but Christopher Klein, a bankruptcy judge, has said that federal bankruptcy law permits it to walk away from the debt. Calpers disagrees, setting up a clash that seems destined for the United States Supreme Court.

But most of the time, when someone in the United States calls for Dutch-style measurements, pension officials suspect a ploy to show public pensions in the worst possible light, to make them easier to abolish.

“They want to create a false report, to create a crisis,” said Barry Kasinitz, director of government affairs for the International Association of Fire Fighters, after members of Congress introduced a bill to require the Dutch method.

The Dutch say their approach is, in fact, supposed to prevent a crisis — the crisis that will ensue if the boomer generation retires without fully funded benefits. Their $1.05 minimum is really just a minimum; pension funds are encouraged to keep an even bigger surplus, to help them weather market shocks. The Dutch sailed into the global collapse of 2008 with $1.45 for every dollar of benefits owed, far more than they appeared to need. But when the dust settled, they were down to just 90 cents. The damage was so bad that the central bank gave them a breather: They had five years to get back to the $1.05 minimum, instead of the usual three.

American public plans emerged from the crisis in worse shape, on the whole, and many allowed themselves 30 years to recover. But 30 years is so long that the boomer generation will have retired by then, and the losses will have been pushed far into the future for others to repay.

It’s a recipe for disaster if the employer happens to be a city like Detroit. The city’s pension system used a 30-year schedule to cover losses but reset it at “Year 1” every year, a tactic employed in a surprising number of places. In Detroit, it meant the city never replaced the money that the pension system lost. When Detroit finally declared bankruptcy last year, an outside review found a $3.5 billion shortfall, one of the biggest claims of the bankruptcy. Manipulating the 30-year funding schedule had helped to hide it.

“This happening in the Netherlands is totally out of the question,” Mr. Kocken said.

While the Netherlands has a stellar reputation for saving, that doesn’t mean pensions have been without controversy there; in fact, a loud, intergenerational debate is occurring about how to manage pensions. The financial crisis raised new calls for reform, Mr. Ambachtsheer said. Retirees were shocked and angry to have their pensions cut by an average of 2 percent after the crash. That had never happened before, and many had no idea that cuts were even possible. A new political party, 50Plus, sprang up to defend the interests of older citizens and won two seats in the national Parliament.

But something else happened: Dutch young people found their voice. No matter their employment sector, they could see that their pension money was commingled with retirees’ money, then invested that way by the outside asset management firms. In the wake of the financial crisis, they realized that they and the retirees had fundamentally opposing interests. The young people were eager to keep taking investment risk, to take advantage of their long time horizon. But the retirees now wanted absolute safety, which meant investing in risk-free, cashlike assets. If all the money remained pooled, young people said, the aggressive investment returns they wanted would be diluted by the pittance that cashlike assets pay.

“Now the question is, ‘How do you resolve this dilemma?’ ” Mr. Ambachtsheer said. “Everybody wants safety and everybody wants an affordable system, and you can’t have both. It’s become a major public debate in the Netherlands.”

It’s a debate that is rarely, if ever, heard in the United States.
66  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Foggy Bottom remains foggy on the threat on: October 12, 2014, 11:23:09 AM
67  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hawk takes out drone on: October 12, 2014, 12:02:15 AM
68  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Putin shows his hand on: October 11, 2014, 03:31:38 PM
69  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Govt of Baghdad striking deals w Sunni Tribes on: October 11, 2014, 03:18:30 PM
70  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH on Al Sisi on: October 11, 2014, 02:51:35 PM
71  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A new tact to dismantle Roe v. Wade on: October 11, 2014, 01:04:23 PM 
72  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / FSA seizes Syrian Russian outpost on Golan Heights on: October 11, 2014, 12:47:32 PM

Click here to watch: Syrian Rebels Overrun Intelligence base on Golan Heights used to spy on Israel
Syrian rebel forces fighting the government of President Bashar Assad overran a military intelligence base on the Golan Heights that served as a joint Russian-Syrian forward post for information-gathering on Israel. In a four-minute video clip which was posted on the Internet by the rebels, Free Syrian Army fighters are seen in a building in Quneitra, just near the boundary between Syria and the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. The footage shows pictures of Russian officers visiting the base as well as Russian-language maps of Israel. There are also photographs of the Russian defense minister’s top intelligence advisor as well as various other senior Russian defense and military officials having once visited the base. The base, which goes by the name “C,” is situated on the “Tel al-Hara” hill in Quneitra.

Watch Here

The footage and evidence found suggests that Russian and Syrian spies used the premises to analyze raw espionage data which was gathered by troops from both countries. One of the documents seized by FSA rebels and dated May 31, 2014 gives an order to intelligence officers at the base to “record all of the wireless conversations between the terrorist groups,” a reference to the coalition of organizations seeking to topple the Damascus government. The FSA officer seen in the footage appealed to “all the honorable people of Russia” to urge their government to cease all cooperation with forces loyal to Assad, “who are murdering children and women and using chemical weapons against civilians.”

Source: Jpost
73  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Turkey on: October 11, 2014, 11:34:04 AM

Welcome back Jeff!

Your point about the Turkish Constitution is a very interesting one.

All:  Jeff has some distinctive knowledge of the realities of the mid-east. 
74  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / ISIS with MPADs approaching Baghdad; airport on: October 11, 2014, 11:30:59 AM 

I have flagged the significance of the MPADs for two years now, beginning with all of Kadaffy's MPADs that were left to "disappear" in the wake of his overthrow, and the significance of their getting loose.  American close air support is about to become quite dangerous.

Perhaps my imagination is running away with me, but I can picture Baghdad getting to the point where we want to get non-essential personnel out of our embassy but not being able to use the airport because of the MPADs.
75  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 10/16/14: The border States documentary on: October 10, 2014, 09:05:17 PM
Hope this will be well done:
76  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US_Saudi Deal driving oil down on: October 10, 2014, 09:00:10 PM
This is interesting.  Hat tip to Jeff!

77  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington: Draft of first Inaugural, 1789 on: October 10, 2014, 11:11:29 AM
"No compact among men ... can be pronounced everlasting and inviolable, and if I may so express myself, that no wall of words, that no mound of parchment can be so formed as to stand against the sweeping torrent of boundless ambition on the one side, aided by the sapping current of corrupted morals on the other." --George Washington, draft of first Inaugural Address, 1789
78  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Meanwhile, where Iraq used to be , , , on: October 10, 2014, 11:07:06 AM
Even as the world's attention focuses on the Islamic State's advance in the northern Syrian town of Kobani, the jihadist group is threatening to overrun Iraq's western Anbar Province. The group has made major gains in the province recently, including capturing two Iraqi army bases and seizing the towns of Hit and Kubaisa. It is also advancing on the provincial capital of Ramadi. The U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State has struck more than 40 targets in the province, which is Iraq's largest, in what has been so far an unsuccessful effort to stem the group's advance.

The Islamic State is also making gains in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. The group's fighters recently entered one of the city's suburbs, Abu Ghraib, which lies only eight miles from the international airport - posing a potential threat for airliners. The jihadist group has partially encircled the capital, controlling the territory from due north of the city, extending to the west, and then down to the south.
79  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Turkey on: October 10, 2014, 10:19:44 AM
Worth taking a look at the piece that starts this thread back in 2007.
80  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Guess who is giving to charity , , , on: October 10, 2014, 09:21:13 AM
81  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Some thoughts , , , on: October 10, 2014, 01:04:41 AM
82  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Morris: Panetta's book is a contract hit by Hillary on: October 09, 2014, 09:19:21 PM
Panetta's Book Is A Contract Hit On Obama By Hillary
Published on on October 9, 2014
Leon Panetta, Bill Clinton's former Chief of Staff who was appointed with Hillary's blessing, has written a book with one clear motive: To bolster Hillary's narrative that the failures of the foreign policy that she designed were simply not her fault.

Everything was Obama's fault, not Hillary's and, of course, not Panetta's.

In the former Secretary of State's book Hard Choices, she criticized Obama's lack of strategic vision saying "not doing stupid stuff" is not an overarching foreign policy organizing principle.

Now Panetta echoes this criticism in his own book, Worthy Fights, describing a president who "avoids the battle, complains and misses opportunities."  He accuses Obama of "coordinating negotiations" to allow our troops to stay in Iraq to guard against an ISIS resurgence without "really leading them."
According to Panetta, the White House "seemed content to endorse an agreement if State and Defense could reach one" to keep our troops in Iraq, But, Panetta points out that without Obama's personal involvement, it became impossible to convince Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki to reverse his position and agree to let a garrison of American troops remain.  And Obama did not make the effort to persuade him.
Panetta amplifies the impact of the failure to leave troops there saying  "To this day, I believe that a small U.S. troop presence in Iraq could have effectively advised the Iraqi military on how to deal with al Qaeda's resurgence and the sectarian violence that has engulfed the country."

He said Obama had "kind of lost his way" and famously noted that the president too often "relies on the logic of a law professor rather than the passion of a leader."
Panetta's comments come as Hillary wrestles with a central threat to her candidacy.  She was Secretary of State for four years yet the foreign policy crafted then has proven to be an unprecedented failure.  Everything that she worked on has blown up in our face.  The Arab Spring has become a nightmare. 

We are on the verge of signing a phony deal with Iran that will let them enrich uranium far into the future so they can make a bomb anytime they want.

The reset button with Russia is a joke and we have made zero progress on human rights or fair trade with China.
Hillary realizes that this is not a record on which to predicate a presidential campaign.  So if the foreign policy she helped to craft is a fiasco, she has to blame someone else -- the president.
Panetta stepped into help frame the issue.  A Clintonista above all, he legitimized Hillary's efforts to distance herself from the president on foreign policy without having to attack him herself.  Now the negative points for disloyalty will accrue to Panetta not to Hillary.
The former defense secretary underscores the extent to which Obama's failure to act against Syria when it crossed the "red line" he had drawn against the use of chemical weapons.  He said "It was damaging."  Obama "sent a mixed message, not only to the Syrians, but to the world. And that is something you do not want to establish in the world: an issue with regard to the credibility of the United States to stand by what we say we're gonna do."

As our involvement in Iraq and Syria escalates into a full blown war -- as it must now that our airstrikes are failing to do the job -- the blame game will grow with it.  Panetta's comments are an attempt to swat the blame away from Hillary Clinton.

He will get his reward. Just wait.
83  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Turkey on: October 09, 2014, 02:38:21 PM
Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, once aspired to lead the Muslim world. At this time of regional crisis, he has been anything but a leader. Turkish troops and tanks have been standing passively behind a chicken-wire border fence while a mile away in Syria, Islamic extremists are besieging the town of Kobani and its Kurdish population.

This is an indictment of Mr. Erdogan and his cynical political calculations. By keeping his forces on the sidelines and refusing to help in other ways — like allowing Kurdish fighters to pass through Turkey — he seeks not only to weaken the Kurds, but also, in a test of will with President Obama, to force the United States to help him oust President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, whom he detests.

It is also evidence of the confusion and internal tensions that affect Mr. Obama’s work-in-progress strategy to degrade and defeat the Islamic State, the Sunni Muslim extremist group also called ISIS or ISIL. Kurdish fighters in Kobani have been struggling for weeks to repel the Islamic State. To help, the Americans stepped up airstrikes that began to push the ISIS fighters back, although gun battles and explosions continued on Wednesday.

But all sides — the Americans, Mr. Erdogan and the Kurds — agree that ground forces are necessary to capitalize on the air power. No dice, says Mr. Erdogan, unless the United States provides more support to rebels trying to overthrow Mr. Assad and creates a no-fly zone to deter the Syrian Air Force as well as a buffer zone along the Turkish border to shelter thousands of Syrian refugees who have fled the fighting.

No one can deny Mr. Assad’s brutality in the civil war, but Mr. Obama has rightly resisted involvement in that war and has insisted that the focus should be on degrading ISIS, not going after the Syrian leader. The biggest risk in his decision to attack ISIS in Syria from the air is that it could put America on a slippery slope to a war that he has otherwise sought to avoid.

Mr. Erdogan’s behavior is hardly worthy of a NATO ally. He was so eager to oust Mr. Assad that he enabled ISIS and other militants by allowing fighters, weapons and revenues to flow through Turkey. If Mr. Erdogan refuses to defend Kobani and seriously join the fight against the Islamic State, he will further enable a savage terrorist group and ensure a poisonous long-term instability on his border.

He has also complicated his standing at home. His hesitation in helping the Syrian Kurds has enraged Turkey’s Kurdish minority, which staged protests against the Turkish government on Wednesday that reportedly led to the deaths of 21 people. Mr. Erdogan fears that defending Kobani would strengthen the Syrian Kurds, who have won de facto control of many border areas as they seek autonomy much like their Kurdish brethren in Iraq. But if Kobani falls, Kurdish fury will undoubtedly grow.

The Americans have been trying hard to resolve differences with Mr. Erdogan in recent days, but these large gaps are deeply threatening to the 50-plus-nation coalition that the United States has assembled. One has to wonder why such a profound dispute was not worked out before Mr. Obama took action in Syria.
84  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Morris: ISIL War endangers Hillary's candidacy on: October 09, 2014, 02:05:06 PM
85  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: October 09, 2014, 10:02:17 AM
GOP Senate Majority? Then What?
It's Time for New Leadership
By Mark Alexander • October 8, 2014     
"If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions." --James Madison (1792)

If you've been holed up in some alternate universe for the last six weeks, you may have missed the collective consensus of political pundits and prognosticators that, in the upcoming November 4th midterm election, Republicans will pick up at least the six U.S. Senate seats needed for majority control.

If the current polling trends are borne out by the only poll that really matters -- Election Day -- then Republicans will win enough Senate seats to claim majority status. Still, an old farmer would no doubt caution, "Don't count your chickens 'till they hatch."

Indeed, nobody should assume Republicans will control the Senate come January, and one need look no further than all the reputable polling ahead of the 2012 presidential election for the reason. Remember how the major polling firms, along with Karl Rove, Dick Morris, Michael Barone and others, were predicting a Mitt Romney win?

How did that turn out?

Over in the House, the GOP is striving to achieve its "Drive to 245," which would mean increasing the party's 233-seat majority to a level not seen since 1946. But Republicans will be fortunate to hold on to the number of House seats they have now.

While I certainly hope Republicans win a Senate majority next month, they must resolve to do more than merely slow the "rule of lawlessness" that now defines Obama's presidential modus operandi. They must use a majority to pass popular conservative legislation -- from tax reform to energy deregulation to border security -- through both chambers and place it on Obama's desk, daring him to veto it.
Of course, Obama has already committed to bypass Consitutional Rule of Law, saying, "Where Congress isn't acting, I'll act on my own. ... I've got a pen ... and I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward."

And indeed, he has demonstrated he will do so, with executive orders constricting Second Amendment rights, and supporting his so-called "climate change" agenda, enacting regulations for his "war on coal" and continuing to stiff-arm the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The most egregious examples of Obama's executive order abuses include his repeated rewrites of the so-called "Affordable Care Act," in an effort to assist the re-election campaigns of congressional Democrats.

The fact is, if Senate Republicans do attain majority status, and the House GOP maintains its current majority, those achievements will not have been earned through "Republican Leadership" so much as handed to them by way of Barack Obama's colossal failures in both domestic and foreign policy.

As Peggy Noonan, former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, observed this week in her Wall Street Journal analysis, "In a year when Republicans are operating in such an enviable political environment, why aren’t their U.S. Senate candidates holding big and impressive leads? Why does it look close? Why are party professionals getting worried?"

What does she mean by "enviable political environment"?

Lets review the short list of failures:

Obama's administration is now defined by his litany of lies and legacy of scandals, most notably the failure of his so-called "economic recovery" plan; his unparalleled foreign policy malfeasance; his "Fast and Furious" gun control play; his long list of ObamaCare lies; his IRS Enemies List; the dramatic resurgence of al-Qa'ida; the Benghazi security failure and subsequent cover-up to protect his 2012 re-election bid; his hollow "Red Line" threat to Syria; the "Russian Spring" in Crimea; the Middle East meltdown in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Jordan and Gaza; the disintegration of Iraq; the rise of the Islamic State; the VA death panels cover-up; the immigration crisis on our southern border; the malfeasance and long-overdue resignation of Eric Holder, the most lawless attorney general in our nation's history; and now, his downplaying of the Ebola threat, his utter unwillingness to address both Enterovirus D68, which is killing children nationwide, and the pandemic threat of jihadist Bio-Bombers.

Despite the significant advantage this should give Republicans in the upcoming election, Noonan writes, "Republicans aren’t achieving lift-off. The metaphor used most often is the wave. If Republicans can’t make, catch and ride a wave in an environment like this, they’ve gone from being the stupid party to the stupid loser party."

Charles Krauthammer notes, "[Obama’s] agenda died on Nov. 2, 2010, when he lost the House. It won’t be any deader on Nov. 4, 2014, if he loses the Senate."
So what happened in 2010 that stalled Obama's agenda?

Clearly, the 2008 election of an ideological Socialist to the Office of President came with some unintended consequences for Obama and his Leftist cadres across the nation. Chief among those was the emergence of the grassroots Tea Party Movement ahead of the 2010 midterm election.

While the GOP rolled out its "new and improved" platform modeled after Newt Gingrich's successful 1994 Contract with America, it was the Tea Party that singlehandedly repopulated the House with a substantial number of genuine conservatives, thereby restoring Republican control.

Regrettably, the "establishment Republicans" in the House virtually excluded the new conservatives from significant House leadership positions. The resulting fratricidal infighting thwarted additional gains in 2012 and enabled Obama to buy a second term as president.

Has the GOP learned any lessons?

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, on schedule, rolled out the latest version of the party's Key Principles last week. To his credit, first among those is this: "Our Constitution should be preserved, valued and honored." Priebus is genuinely committed to conservative principles. Recall that he had The Patriot Post's Essential Liberty Pocket Guide distributed to all RNC convention members in 2012, and he held one up for display during that event.

However, the first of the GOP key principles should state, "Our Constitution should be upheld as the supreme law of the land, and our leaders should abide by their oaths 'to Support and Defend' it." 
To that end, the current Republican congressional leadership receives mixed reviews. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is committed to conservative principles, scoring better than 80% in the American Conservative Union ratings. Notably, however, Speaker of the House John Boehner did not make the 80% ACU cut.

Despite McConnell's rating, if the GOP does luck into a Senate majority, I believe it's time for new leadership in both chambers.


Krauthammer notes, "[R]egaining the Senate would finally give the GOP the opportunity, going into 2016, to demonstrate its capacity to govern. ... [C]ontrolling both houses would allow the GOP to produce a compelling legislative agenda. ... If the president signs any of it, good. If he vetoes, it will be clarifying. Who then will be the party of no? The vetoed legislation would become the framework for a 2016 GOP platform."

He is correct, but producing a compelling legislative agenda would require outstanding leadership -- which neither McConnell nor Boehner have demonstrated.
As Noonan writes, "It’s good to win, but winning without a declared governing purpose is a ticket to nowhere. ... Republicans need to say what they’re for."
The fact is, both McConnell and Boehner have failed to clearly articulate a unified governing purpose. Thus, gaining a Senate majority and retaining the House majority may be for naught if not under spirited and principled new leadership.
Winston Churchill wrote, "If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver."

However, there appears to be no important point to make under the current GOP leadership, and neither McConnell nor Boehner seem to have any idea what a pile driver is.

"A leader," said Ronald Reagan, "once convinced a particular course of action is the right one, must have the determination to stick with it and be undaunted when the going gets rough." Clearly, he was just such a leader.

Under the current GOP leadership, there has been neither a clear course of action nor the necessary determination to stick with such action.

Let me restate: Any Republican gains in November will not be earned through "Republican Leadership" so much as handed to them through Barack Obama's colossal failures.

It is long past time for young and fresh Republican leadership in both the House and Senate -- and there are rising leaders who are more than capable of making their case.
Pro Deo et Constitutione -- Libertas aut Mors
Semper Fortis Vigilate Paratus et Fidelis
86  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: October 09, 2014, 08:04:51 AM
I'm thinking there may be a conceptual model there of use to us.
87  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Some very interesting Turkish-- ME history on: October 08, 2014, 07:33:50 PM
88  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Turkey leaving Kurds hanging in Kobani on: October 08, 2014, 07:17:08 PM*Editors%20Picks&utm_campaign=2014_EditorsPicks10%2F08RS
89  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russian cyber attacks? on: October 08, 2014, 02:17:14 PM

A lot of military capabilities become Maginot Lines in such a world , , ,
90  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Cruz proposes Constitutional Amendment on: October 08, 2014, 12:03:04 PM

You make good points.

Here's Cruz's response:
91  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Panetta: I told Petraeus it was an attack on: October 08, 2014, 11:58:24 AM
92  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Wilson, 1791, First Principles on: October 08, 2014, 11:51:40 AM
There is not in the whole science of politics a more solid or a more important maxim than this -- that of all governments, those are the best, which, by the natural effect of their constitutions, are frequently renewed or drawn back to their first principles." --James Wilson, Lectures on Law, 1791
93  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Piers Morgan on: October 08, 2014, 11:46:59 AM
94  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: October 08, 2014, 11:29:52 AM
As someone who lived through the Vietnam War, indeed I was in the draft lottery and quite active in the movement against the war, the preceding article has a lot of resonance for me.

We face very a plethora of difficult situations and it can be easy to get lost in the complexities.  Herewith my armchair general to cut to the chase:

The original idea was to deny safe havens for Islamo Fascism (IF) to safely train and prepare to attack us. 

Hence Afpakia-- this launched at the height of the American uni-polar moment

How has this original idea worked out so far?

It has not.  The enemy has, or will soon have, Afpakia, Libya, various pieces of Africa, and ISILstan.   (Egypt was almost also on this list despite the hubristic follies of Obama-Clinton.) All these places are now places that IF now has sanctuary to plot, train, and prepare its coming attacks upon us.  Thus it seems to me that the logic of denying sanctuary no longer applies. 

As is amply documented here, I am of the firm belief that it did not have to be this way and that a large % of the responsibility lies with Obama-Clinton, but in fairness it must be noted that Bush's strategy for Afpakia was incoherent (as I have said here many times for many years) and I do not envy the hand there he handed over to Obama.   Bush's many screw-ups in Iraq caused a very close brush with disaster that understandably broke the heart and trust of many Americans before he turned things around-- but turn things around he did and he handed a very good hand to Obama in Iraq-- which Obama petulantly threw away.

Having noted that so that we may learn from it, the question remains:  What do we do now that the enemy DOES have sanctuaries?

First it seems quite clear to me that we must realize that it is too late for "fighting them there so we do not have fight them here" as Bush presciently stated in 2004. 

Off the top of my head we need to DEFEND THE HOMELAND:

a) Control the borders!!!

b) Have a proper system for promptly and efficiently noting those who overstay their visas; the Feds must overrule the "Sanctuary City" policies of many cities (and states?) just as it overruled Arizona for intruding in the Federal realm (a mistake because AZ was SUPPORTING the enforcement of federal law, not undercutting it) ; illegals caught domestically should be deported instantly-- after reasonable changes in the law regarding those brought here young and who grew up here.  No path to citizenship, but yes a path to green card or something like it.

c) Change immigration criteria.  I'm hoping the collective here, GM in particular, can help us look up what US policies were regarding the entry of communists and those from communist countries during the Cold War.  Perhaps there are some useful analogies and correlations there , , ,  There are populations more likely to contain IF and immigration from them and visas granted to its citizens should be curtailed.

As noted in my previous posts, we are headed down a path to disaster.  Yes IF is an enemy, but who do we hear putting forward a plausible strategy?  Certainly not Obama!  But that said, it must also be said, are those advocating "boots on the ground" really putting forward something that will work?  That is not clear to me.  Indeed it is not clear to me that it is clear to them what they have in mind.  Certainly NO ONE is putting forward anything about Iran's nukes that sounds plausible to me!!!

In the mood in which I find myself as I write this post and my suggested strategy not likely to be put in effect while it can be, Ron Paul seems closest in this moment to what I am thinking/feeling.  He seems to be pivoting towards something around which the American people will be able to rally whereas both Obama and the generals are not.

95  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Will Syria be Obama's Vietnam? on: October 08, 2014, 10:51:56 AM

FIFTY years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson authorized a strategic bombing campaign against targets in North Vietnam, an escalation of the conflict in Southeast Asia that was swiftly followed by the deployment of American ground troops. Last month, President Obama expanded a strategic bombing campaign against Islamic insurgents in the Middle East, escalating the attack beyond Iraq into Syria.

Will Mr. Obama repeat history and commit ground troops? Many analysts believe so, and top officials are calling for it. But the president has expressed skepticism about what American force can accomplish in this kind of struggle, and he has resisted the urgings of hawks inside and outside the administration who want him to go in deeper. Mr. Obama, his supporters say, is a “gloomy realist” who has learned history’s lesson: that American military power, no matter how great in relative terms, is ultimately of limited utility in conflicts that are, at their root, political or ideological in nature.

It’s a powerful, reasoned position, amply supported by the history of America’s involvement in Vietnam. But that history also shows that a president’s attitude and analytical assessment, no matter how gloomily realistic, are not necessarily an antidote to ill-advised military action. Foreign intervention has a logic all to itself.

Today we think of Lyndon Johnson as a man unwaveringly committed to prevailing in Vietnam. But at least at first, he shared Mr. Obama’s pessimism. He and his advisers knew they faced an immense challenge in attempting to suppress the insurgency in South Vietnam. “A man can fight if he can see daylight down the road somewhere,” he said privately in early March 1965. “But there ain’t no daylight in Vietnam.”

Johnson also knew that the Democratic leadership in the Senate shared his misgivings, and that key allied governments counseled against escalation and in favor of a political solution.

On occasion the president even allowed himself to question whether the outcome in Vietnam really mattered to American and Western security. “What the hell is Vietnam worth to me?” he despaired in 1964, even as he was laying plans to expand American involvement. “What’s it worth to this country?”

At other times Johnson was quite capable of arguing for the geopolitical importance of the struggle — he was adept at tailoring his Vietnam analysis to his needs of the moment. But the overall picture that emerges in the administration’s massive internal record for 1964-65 is of a president deeply skeptical that the war could be won, even with large-scale escalation, and far from certain that it was necessary even to try.

So why did Johnson take the plunge? In part because he was hemmed in — not merely by 15 years of steadily growing American involvement in Indochina, but, more important, by his own and his advisers’ use of overheated rhetoric to describe the stakes in Vietnam and their confidence in victory. Moreover, he had personalized the war, and saw any criticism of its progress as an attack on him, compromising his ability to see the conflict objectively.
Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story
Continue reading the main story

We know the results. In the very week in which he professed to see “no daylight” in the struggle, Johnson initiated Operation Rolling Thunder, the graduated, sustained aerial bombardment against North Vietnam; also that week, he dispatched the first combat troops. More soon followed, and by the end of 1965, some 180,000 men were on the ground in South Vietnam. Ultimately, the count would top half a million.

True, it’s hard to imagine Mr. Obama ordering a Johnson-style surge of combat forces to Iraq or Syria. The circumstances on the ground are dissimilar, and he sees the world and America’s role in it differently than Johnson did. By all accounts he is less inclined to personalize foreign policy tests, and less threatened by diverse views among his advisers.

In these respects he is much closer in his sensibility and approach to another Vietnam-era president, John F. Kennedy. He consistently rejected the proposals of civilian aides and military leaders to commit combat forces to Vietnam, but he also significantly expanded American involvement in the conflict during his thousand days in office, complicating the choices open to his successor. Whether he could have continued to walk that line, as Mr. Obama is trying to do, is an unanswerable question.

But the point is not about biography; rather, it’s about the inability of a president, once committed to military intervention, to control the course of events. War has a forward motion of its own. Most of Johnson’s major steps in the escalation in Vietnam were in response to unforeseen obstacles, setbacks and shortcomings. There’s no reason the same dynamic couldn’t repeat itself in 2014.

And there is a political logic, too: Then as now, the president faced unrelenting pressure from various quarters to do more, to fight the fight, to intensify the battle. Then as now, the alarmist rhetoric by the president and senior officials served to reduce their perceived maneuverability, not least in domestic political terms. Johnson was no warmonger, and he feared, rightly, that Vietnam would be his undoing. Nonetheless, he took his nation into a protracted struggle that ended in bitter defeat.

“I don’t think it’s worth fighting for, and I don’t think we can get out,” a sullen Johnson told McGeorge Bundy, his national security adviser, in 1964. One can only hope the same sentiment is not being expressed in the Oval Office today.

Fredrik Logevall is a professor of history at Cornell and the author, most recently, of “Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam.” Gordon M. Goldstein is the author of “Lessons in Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the Path to War in Vietnam.”
96  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama surprised, we are not. Turkey wants Assad out for helping Kurds on: October 08, 2014, 10:39:00 AM
97  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Head injury/brain damage/concussion in boxing, kickboxing, football, etc: on: October 08, 2014, 10:37:50 AM
Woof All:

A moment of shameless advertising:  We are discussing this and more on the Neck thread on the DBMA Ass'n forum  grin
98  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Slithering in the snake pit: Kobani,Syrian Kurd "terrorists", Turkey, and the US on: October 08, 2014, 12:38:12 AM
99  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: October 07, 2014, 08:51:31 PM
On SCH there is History, American History, and Totalitarianism.   Does your material fit in any of these?
100  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Ebola on: October 07, 2014, 11:01:58 AM
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