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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #650 on: August 02, 2015, 08:49:53 PM »

 Balancing Hopes and Fears in the Middle East
Global Affairs
July 29, 2015 | 08:00 GMT
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By Philip Bobbitt

It's encouraging that reports from Washington suggest the administration has settled on a new strategy for confronting the Islamic State. Our reluctance to commit to a strategy as we sought, unsuccessfully, to find a middle ground that would minimize risks while serving contradictory objectives has been costly to the stability of Iraq and to our goal of removing Bashar al Assad's regime from Syria.

Sometimes it is less appealing to confront one enemy than to avoid advantaging another enemy. Thus England tolerated the rise of Nazi Germany, a growing threat, rather than confront it to the advantage of Bolshevism. In the Middle East, the example is quite exquisite because the phenomenon is double-sided: We cannot truly commit ourselves to the removal of al Assad because we believe his ruin will offer rich opportunities to the Islamic State, and we are equally reluctant to take some aggressive measures against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria because we surmise our success would mean further empowering Iran and increasing Tehran's influence in Baghdad and Damascus. We are paralyzed because we prefer foregoing potential but significant gains to enduring certain losses whose significance is no greater.

I suppose this a kind of strategic "loss aversion." Many studies in behavioral economics have confirmed that a consistent majority of people would rather forego a gain than suffer a loss, even when the outcomes are statistically indistinguishable. For example, psychologists have repeatedly demonstrated that an overwhelming majority of subjects would prefer to avoid a $1.00 surcharge rather than receive a $1.00 discount. Moreover, subjects routinely report that they would rather accept a 50 percent chance of losing $2.00 than a certain loss of $1.00. Similarly, perhaps, states are reluctant to risk giving an uncertain advantage to an enemy, even if inaction means certain gain for another enemy. This irrationality is of more than academic interest when we actually forego potential gains that would exceed our losses.

But, one may object, this can be no more than a metaphor — states don't have "psychologies." Yet their leaders do, and they may identify the wins and losses of the state with their own. Wars fought to defend the national honor may have such a basis (as well as, of course, having practical bargaining effects).

What is Global Affairs?

Then one may object that nothing is lost by inaction because states possessed nothing of materiality. Here the answer is: hope. Some of Samuel Johnson's most acute — and disturbing — insights about human nature occur in his remarks on hope. "Hope," he wrote, "is happiness and its frustration, however frequent, are less dreadful than its extinction." Giving up something is giving up hope, which is much more costly than foregoing a receipt.

This paralysis is nevertheless approvingly encouraged by the counsels of inaction whenever the available options are fraught. "Don't just do something, stand there!" may be one way of characterizing this advice. By avoiding action, at least we avoid making things worse. But this ignores the fact that things may get worse without our help, and indeed inaction may be more costly to our interests because we have not been able to mitigate our losses through action. It may even be the case that the wrong decision — a decision in favor of a course of action that leaves us less well off than we would have been, had we acted otherwise — might still be better for us than inaction. That is often the case where the costs of inaction to the strength of our alliances outweigh the immediate costs of acting. It's often said that our alliance partners do not accord their relations with us more weight when we act recklessly, and that is doubtless true. But on whom would you rely in a crisis: the partner who comes to your aid even when, in the short term, it may not be in his interest, or the partner who carefully weighs the benefits of each action?

This is tricky; after all, didn't the arguments that a withdrawal from Vietnam would undermine our European alliances keep us in South Asia long past a sensible departure date? And how do we measure such imponderables? How does a "gain" for an increasingly assertive Iran measure against a "loss" to the deadly Islamic State?

This example of the phenomenon of "loss aversion" — perhaps it is best thought of as a metaphor rather than as a matter of microeconomic analysis — is also manifesting itself in the debate over the proposed agreement with Iran to restrict its nuclear capabilities. We are rightly concerned that an infusion of more than $50 billion will strengthen the theocratic state in Tehran and find its way into the forces of terror that the Iranian regime has so notably deployed. We are loath to give up a sanctions regime that has been a quite remarkable achievement in its breadth and coherence. Many thoughtful critics would rather forego the conceded benefits of a 15-year hiatus in Iran's nuclear development than lose a sanctions program that restricts so many of the regime's other activities. Alas, we cannot depend upon the endurance of the existing sanctions, and should the treaty fail to be enacted, we are likely to reap the worst of both worlds: an unrestricted program of nuclear development by an Iranian state that has been greatly enriched by the removal of those sanctions that the United States does not control. And here, too, the neglect of the impact on our alliances that is a feature of loss aversion in other contexts could well prove to be the greatest cost of all. By contrast, in the aftermath of the Iran agreement, restoring confidence in their relations with the United States is the first item on our agendas with Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Gulf states.

Here, we must depart from the Great Cham, Dr. Johnson. For he warned us to "remember that we only talk of the pleasures of hope; we feel those of possession, and no man in his senses would change the last for the first."
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #651 on: August 12, 2015, 11:49:28 AM »

 Principle vs. Practice: The Unsettled Debate of Geopolitics
Global Affairs
August 12, 2015 | 08:00 GMT


By Ian Morris

In July, I did something a bit unusual, checking in to the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas so that I could take part in a public debate on war. The occasion was FreedomFest, a libertarian extravaganza that bills itself as "the world's largest gathering of free minds." (More than 2,500 people attended.)

I wasn't completely sure what to expect, but in the end the event exceeded my every expectation. It wasn't just lively, engaged and genuinely open to ideas from all sides, but also full of the frankly bizarre touches that libertarians and Las Vegas both seem to delight in. On my way to see the left-leaning, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman debate the conservative Heritage Foundation's Stephen Moore, I could (and did) stop off in the exhibit hall to buy a Milton Friedman T-shirt and fill my pockets with little tubes of sunscreen proudly labeled "Tea Party Patriot." I saw Grover Norquist, the infamous anti-tax crusader, being interviewed in front of an ad for a strip club; Donald Trump was the headline speaker.

But in addition to being a lot of fun, FreedomFest also forced me to think harder about a serious question.

I had been invited to FreedomFest because I published a book in 2014 called War! What is it Good For? This was an unapologetically realpolitik review of the history of violence across the past 20,000 years, arguing that over the very long term, war has had two big unintended consequences. First, it has been the main method through which people have created bigger societies with more effective governments. Second, the most important activity these governments have engaged in has been to suppress all use of force that they do not themselves sanction. Wars have become bigger and fiercer, but governments have pacified their own populations, with the net result that rates of violent death have slowly declined. If you had lived 10,000 years ago in the Stone Age, you would have stood a 10-20 percent chance of dying violently. Those of us who lived in the 20th century, by contrast — despite the century's two world wars, use of nuclear weapons and multiple genocides — stood just a 1-2 percent chance of dying violently. In the 21st century, that risk has fallen to just 0.7 percent. In effect, war has been putting itself out of business through the mechanism of government. On average, a person alive today is 10 times less likely to die violently than someone who lived in 10,000 B.C.

The decline in rates of violent death has accelerated in the past 200 years, but not, I argued, because we have all become saints. Rather, the world has become safer because it has progressed from conventional governments, exercising political control within recognized borders, to what we might call "globocops," states that have truly worldwide reach. Neither of the two globocops the world has seen so far — Britain in the 19th century and the United States since 1989 — has run a world empire, but neither has needed to; rather, a globocop just needs to raise the costs and lower the benefits of using force to upset the status quo, deterring other governments from doing so.

What is Global Affairs?

For a good 75 years after 1815, Britain played a major part in making sure that the world (and especially Europe) saw far fewer major wars than at any time since the height of the Roman Empire. However, Britain's defense of international free trade made it almost inevitable that other countries would industrialize and grow rich, undermining the globocop's ability to do its job. The further this process went, the greater the risks grew, not only that some power would take a chance on solving its problems with violence, but also that such a gamble might set off a general conflagration. The outcome was the 75-year struggle between 1914 and 1989, which swept away the crumbling British global order and eventually replaced it with a new American version. Since then, the United States has played a major part in making major wars even less common than they were in the 19th century.

The lesson of history, I concluded, is that if you want peace, you should do whatever you can to help preserve the current American-dominated system (or empire, if you prefer that word).

Making this case to a roomful of libertarians was, needless to say, something of a red-rag-to-a-bull experience, and I was none too surprised when the voice of the people told me that I had lost the debate. (Although, I am pleased to say, I did swing enough of the listeners to reduce the initial 2:1 vote against me to a wafer-thin majority.) The debate itself, however, raised a series of issues that I felt I had not thought about enough.

Since my book appeared, I have debated its thesis on several occasions. Sometimes the criticisms focus on details (whether we really know how violent prehistoric societies were, what Roman rule really meant for Britain, what British rule really meant for India, etc.). More often, though, they come down to what I heard a former Palestinian Authority negotiator, Zihad abu Zihad, refer to in Jerusalem during the most recent Gaza war as "the dead baby argument." Israel would inevitably lose the struggle for international support, he argued, because the more lucidly its representatives spoke about strategic imperatives, the right to self defense, or global terrorism, the more insistently Palestinian representatives would show pictures of dead babies. Global strategy cannot compete with moral outrage; Israel therefore loses.

In Las Vegas, I was relieved to find that my opponent, Angela Keaton of Antiwar.com, did not rely on the dead baby argument. However, she got to a very similar place by a different route. Freedom, she argued, is the ultimate human value, which means that American governments are morally wrong to create a monopoly on legitimate violence and then use it to compel the people under its jurisdiction to pay taxes (effectively making them state-owned slaves for part of each working day). It is also wrong to use these tax revenues to pay for its monopoly on force, more wrong still to lure people who lack alternative employment into its armed forces, and most wrong of all to use these armed forces to coerce people in other countries. Even if the end result of government action really is less war (a point Keaton was not willing to concede), all these wrongs can never add up to a right.

It seems to me that the dead baby and freedom arguments are two versions of a single claim: Ethics trump strategy. Moralizing arguments of this kind have a visceral appeal all across the political spectrum, but they seem to run directly counter to the amoral emphasis that Stratfor puts on geopolitics, economics and unintended consequences. Our debate at FreedomFest, I realized, was not really about the past and future of war at all; it was about two apparently incompatible visions of how the world works. In the rather charged atmosphere of Planet Hollywood, it was hard not to feel that one of the biggest questions of the 21st century would be which of these visions would win out in America.

In practice, however, policymakers rarely take either of these ideas to its logical extreme, if only because electorates tend to cling to a commonsense utilitarianism. Whenever winning an argument looks likely to leave us worse off, most people prefer to fudge the issues. Even the most Kissingerian of geopoliticians tend to recognize that values have a place in strategy (a good subject for a future column, perhaps) and that it is usually a mistake to sell out allies or walk away from deeply held beliefs to win a small advantage.

Similarly, libertarians who reject government completely turn into anarchists, and consequently most libertarians instead take positions like that defended by the philosopher Robert Nozick. In his influential 1974 book Anarchy, State and Utopia, Nozick conceded that there are vital jobs that only a government can do. However, he said, "only a minimal state, limited to enforcing contracts and protecting people against force, theft and fraud, is justified. Any more extensive state violates persons' rights not to be forced to do certain things, and is unjustified."

The result is that the great debate between principles tends, in practice, to fragment into multiple smaller and more pragmatic questions. If government is at best a necessary evil, where is the best balance between having too much of it and not having enough? If using force is always wrong, how do we tell whether failing to use it will nevertheless turn out even worse? And how do we justify cutting moral corners in the name of the greater good?

Whether the issue at hand is the Trans-Pacific Partnership or a nuclear deal with Iran, the answers are never obvious; the most productive places to look for them are in geopolitical details and the lessons we can draw from history. This, I think, is something that all sides must in the end agree on. It is also the main reason why, whatever our political inclinations, we should be confident that Stratfor is on the side of the angels after all.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #652 on: August 24, 2015, 01:27:11 PM »

When natural gas prices were high and supplies were scarce, Russia had Europe under its thumb. 

When oil prices were high and American supplies were scarce, Venezuela and others had a hold on America.  And Iran had the world scared sh*tless over its proximity to the Straits of Hormuz.  Does anyone remember that?

When Venezuela and Russia were gushing with oil money, puny little Cuba could stick its finger in the US eye.  Didn't need the US for anything.

When economic growth here was going gangbusters, China was a big beneficiary of that and had a level of control over our economy.

And when the Euro was stronger than the dollar, the EU had leverage in various negotiations over the US.

Now the facts are reversed.  So, a) what are we doing to capitalize on the changing balance of forces around the world?  Nothing, of course.  And b) What could we and what SHOULD we be doing differently in response to these changing circumstances?

Other than the fact that we don't have a President who would even want any of the problems around the world resolved,

Why don't we turn the heat up on Russia's presence in the Ukraine - right while oil prices dip below 40?

Why aren't we tightening instead of loosening sanctions in Iran while they feel the pressure?

Why don't we make public demands on Cuba to do SOMETHING to free their people?  Why don't we reach out with the freedom seeking opposition in Venezuela [and elsewhere] and amplify their voices?

Why don't we make a rescue mission into a portion N.K. while the Chinese attention is turned elsewhere, and shrink their evil dictatorship?

Why don't we reach out to India as a natural ally, a peaceful democracy with similar interests, beyond having them over once in 8 years for dinner?

What else should we be doing while the future of the world lies in the balance?

Even Rahm Emmanuel knew to never let a good crisis go to waste.  Did that axiom apply only to political advantage over the Republicans - or could you use it to strengthen our geopolitical position against adversaries?
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G M
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« Reply #653 on: August 24, 2015, 02:19:53 PM »

The only enemies the dems see is republican
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #654 on: September 08, 2015, 06:42:13 AM »

This was supposed to be the Era of No Fences. No walls between blocs. No borders between countries. No barriers to trade. Visa-free tourism. The single market. A global Internet. Frictionless transactions and seamless exchanges.

In short, a flat world. Whatever happened to that?

In the early 1990s, Israel’s then-Foreign Minister Shimon Peres published a book called “The New Middle East,” in which he predicted what was soon to be in store for his neighborhood. “Regional common markets reflect the new Zeitgeist,” he gushed. It was only a matter of time before it would become true in his part of the world, too.

I read the book in college, and while it struck me as far-fetched it didn’t seem altogether crazy. The decade from 1989 to 1999 was an age of political, economic, social and technological miracles. The Berlin Wall fell. The Soviet Union dissolved. Apartheid ended. The euro and Nafta were born. The first Internet browser was introduced. Oil dropped below $10 a barrel, the Dow topped 10,000, Times Square became safe again. America won a war in Kosovo without losing a single man in combat.

Would Israeli businessmen soon be selling hummus and pita to quality-conscious consumers in Damascus? Well, why not?

Contrast this promised utopia with the mind-boggling scenes of tens of thousands of Middle East migrants, marching up the roads and railways of Europe, headed for their German promised land. The images seem like a 21st-century version of the Völkerwanderung, the migration of nations in the late Roman and early Medieval periods. Desperate people, needing a place to go, sweeping a broad landscape like an unchanneled flood.

How did this happen? We mistook a holiday from history for the end of it. We built a fenceless world on the wrong set of assumptions about the future. We wanted a new liberal order—one with a lot of liberalism and not a lot of order. We wanted to be a generous civilization without doing the things required to be a prosperous one.

In 2003 the political theorist Robert Kagan wrote a thoughtful book, “Of Paradise and Power,” in which he took stock of the philosophical divide between Americans and Europeans. Americans, he wrote, inhabited the world of Thomas Hobbes, in which “true security and the defense and promotion of a liberal order still depend on the possession and use of military might.”

Europeans, by contrast, lived in the world of Immanuel Kant, in which “perpetual peace” was guaranteed by a set of cultural conventions, consensually agreed rules and a belief in the virtues of social solidarity overseen by a redistributive state.

These differences didn’t matter much as long as they were confined to panel discussions at Davos. Then came the presidency of Barack Obama, which has adopted the Kantian view. For seven years, the U.S. and Europe have largely been on the same side—the European side—of most of the big issues, especially in the Mideast: getting out of Iraq, drawing down in Afghanistan, lightly intervening in Libya, staying out of Syria, making up with Iran.

The result is our metastasizing global disorder. It’s only going to get worse. The graciousness that Germans have shown the first wave of refugees is a tribute to the country’s sense of humanity and history. But just as the warm welcome is destined to create an irresistible magnet for future migrants, it is also bound to lead to a backlash among Germans.

This year, some 800,000 newcomers are expected in Germany—about 1% of the country’s population. Berlin wants an EU-wide quota system to divvy up the influx, but once the migrants are in Europe they are free to go wherever the jobs and opportunities may be. Germany (with 4.7% unemployment) is going to be a bigger draw than France (10.4%), to say nothing of Italy (12%) or Spain (22%).

If Germany had robust economic and demographic growth, it could absorb and assimilate the influx. It doesn’t, so it can’t. Growth has averaged 0.31% a year since 1991. The country has the world’s lowest birthrate. Tolerant modern Germany now looks with justified disdain toward the petty nationalism, burden-shifting and fence-building of the populist Hungarian government of Viktor Orbán. But it would be foolish to think of Hungary as a political throwback rather than as a harbinger. There is no such thing as a lesson from the past that people won’t ignore for the sake of the convenience of the present.

Is there a way out? Suddenly, there’s talk in Europe about using military power to establish safe zones in Syria to contain the exodus of refugees. If U.S. administrations decide on adopting Kant, Europe, even Germany, may have no choice but to reacquaint itself with Hobbes by rebuilding its military and using hard power against unraveling neighbors.

Europeans will not easily embrace that option. The alternative is to hasten the return to the era of fences. Openness is a virtue purchased through strength.

Write to bstephens@wsj.com.
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kenneth coates
kenneth coates 1 minute ago

Obama is a man of zero courage. . To Obama it's much easier to just let human nature evolve in whatever fashion and at whatever level of violence. Unfortunately, other leaders both local and global also subscribed to this cowardly strategy.
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Justin Murray
Justin Murray 5 minutes ago

You might want to check your history closer. We didn't stay out of Syria, it was a Cold War style intervention of arming proxy groups. That's why it was a disaster - we intervened.
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Morry Rotenberg
Morry Rotenberg 7 minutes ago

The fundamental transformation of not only this country but the rest of the world is progressing as promised by our community organizer in chief. Unless the so called opposition party, aka Republicans get a spine and some intelligent leadership there is little hope not only for us but the rest of the previously called free world.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #655 on: September 08, 2015, 06:46:30 AM »

second post

    Opinion
    Review & Outlook

The West’s Refugee Crisis
What happens in the Middle East doesn’t stay in the Middle East.
9/6/15

The photograph of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, who drowned trying to flee to Greece with his brother and mother, has focused the world on Europe’s Middle Eastern refugee crisis. Demands for compassion are easy, but it’s also important to understand how Europe—and the U.S.—got here. This is what the world looks like when the West abandons its responsibility to maintain world order.

The refugees are fleeing horror shows across North Africa and the Middle East, but especially the Syrian civil war that is now into its fifth year. Committed to withdrawing from the region, President Obama chose to do almost nothing. Europe, which has a longer Middle Eastern history than America and is closer, chose not to fill the U.S. vacuum.

The result has been the worst human catastrophe of the 21st-century. What began as an Arab Spring uprising against Bashar Assad has become a civil war that grows ever-more virulent. Radical Islamic factions have multiplied and Islamic State found a haven from which to grow and expand. More than 210,000 Syrians have been killed, and millions have been displaced inside the country or in camps in neighboring countries.
***

The conceit has been that while all of this is tragic, the Middle East has to work out its own pathologies and what happens there will be contained there. But by now we know that what happens in Damascus doesn’t stay in Damascus. First came the terrorist exports, recruited by Islamic State and sent back to bomb and murder in Paris and on trains. Now come the refugees, willing to risk their lives fleeing chaos on the chance of a safe haven in Europe.

The lesson is that while intervention has risks, so does abdication. The difference is that at least intervention gives the West the opportunity to shape events, often for the better, rather than merely cope with the consequences of doing nothing. As difficult as the war in Iraq was, by 2008 the insurgency was defeated and Iraqis were returning to Baghdad. Only after Mr. Obama withdrew entirely from Iraq and ignored Syria did Iraq deteriorate again and Islamic State advance.

Europeans who dislike an America they think is overbearing should note what happens when the world’s policeman decides to take a vacation and let the neighbors fend for themselves. In the modern world of instant communications and easy transportation, the world’s problems will wash up on the wealthy West’s shores one way or another. If Europe isn’t prepared to handle nearby crises, militarily if necessary, be prepared to accept the refugees.

On that latter point, Europeans are by and large generous people who want to help refugees. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has shown leadership in accepting refugees in her country and trying to work out a plan to propose a quota system for the rest of Europe to apportion the asylum claims now besieging the front-line states of Greece, Hungary and Italy. Germany is expected to take 800,000 this year.

Aylan Kurdi’s death might also finally shame more governments into action. Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday announced Britain is abandoning its refusal to bear a heavier load and will accept “thousands” more refugees, most directly from camps on Syria’s borders. One good idea would be to open processing centers closer to where the refugees start their journeys. But without a clear commitment from states to accept more, the temptation of asylum seekers to resort to human traffickers will remain great.

Yet it’s also true that years of bad economic and fiscal policy mean that Europe is now far less able to cope with refugees than many assume. Europe is unable to police its maritime borders effectively, which is why so many human smugglers are using Mediterranean routes. That’s a function of its long-term underinvestment in naval and coast-guard assets. Collective European spending on defense amounted to some $250 billion in 2014, a $7 billion decline from a year earlier, and it’s going down year after year.

Absorbing refugees also requires a robust economy that Europe hasn’t had in years. Most refugees want to go to Germany, but even Germany is growing at a mere 1.6% annual rate. Unemployment looks low (4.7%) but the labor force participation rate is very low, about 60%, according to World Bank figures. For the rest of Europe, the ability to absorb a refugee influx is even worse.

Without economic reform to produce a growth economy, migration on the current scale is going to strain Europe’s welfare state and further encourage the rise of extreme anti-immigration parties like the National Front in France, Golden Dawn in Greece, Jobbik in Hungary and the Pegida movement in Germany. It will also begin to threaten such pillars of the modern European Union as its Schengen policy that allows passport-free travel and migration. Schengen has been a crucial economic safety valve that allows young people in particular to move for economic opportunity when their native country is in recession.
***

All of which underscores that the migration crisis is far more than a humanitarian issue. By all means Europe needs to do more to end the immediate human suffering. So does the U.S., which could in particular accept Syrian Christians who are targeted for extinction by Islamists.

But the larger problem is the retreat by Europe and America from promoting, and if necessary enforcing, a world order built on Western ideals. The migration crisis shows that this failure will eventually compromise Western ideals at home as well as abroad.
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objectivist1
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« Reply #656 on: September 09, 2015, 10:00:54 PM »

http://www.erickontheradio.com/2015/09/the-blood-on-barack-obamas-hands/?

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"You have enemies?  Good.  That means that you have stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill.
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #657 on: September 10, 2015, 10:17:10 AM »


By
Garry Kasparov
Sept. 9, 2015 7:30 p.m. ET
438 COMMENTS

A quick glance at the latest headlines suggests a jarring disconnect from the stream of foreign-policy successes touted by the Obama White House and its allies. President Obama has been hailed by many as a peacemaker for eschewing the use of military force and for signing accords with several of America’s worst enemies. The idea that things will work out better if the U.S. declines to act in the world also obeys Mr. Obama’s keen political instincts. A perpetual campaigner in office, he realizes that it is much harder to criticize an act not taken.

But what is good for Mr. Obama’s media coverage is not necessarily good for America or the world. From the unceasing violence in eastern Ukraine to the thousands of Syrian refugees streaming into Europe, it is clear that inaction can also have terrible consequences. The nuclear agreement with Iran is also likely to have disastrous and far-reaching effects. But in every case of Mr. Obama’s timidity and procrastination, the response to criticism amounts to this: It could have been worse.

Looking at the wreckage of the Middle East, including the flourishing of Islamic State, it takes great imagination to see how things would be worse today if the U.S. had acted on Mr. Obama’s “red line” threat in 2013 and moved against Syria’s Bashar Assad after he defied the U.S. president and used chemical weapons.

Or farther east, one would need to have believed Moscow’s overheated nuclear threats to think that Ukraine would be worse off now if NATO had moved immediately to secure the Ukrainian border with Russia as soon as Vladimir Putin invaded Crimea in 2014.

Over the past year, especially in the past few months, Mr. Obama’s belief that American force in the world should be constrained and reduced has reached its ultimate manifestation in U.S. relations with Iran, Russia and Cuba. Each of these American adversaries has been on the receiving end of the president’s helping hand: normalization with Cuba, releasing Iran from sanctions, treating the Putin Ukraine-invasion force as a partner for peace in the futile Minsk cease-fire agreements.

In exchange for giving up precisely nothing, these countries have been rewarded with the international legitimacy and domestic credibility dictatorships crave—along with more-concrete economic benefits.

When dealing with a regime that won’t negotiate in good faith, the best approach is to use a position of strength to pry concessions from the other side. But instead the White House keeps offering concessions—while helping its enemies off the mat. That such naïveté will result in positive behavior from the likes of Ayatollah Khamenei, Vladimir Putin and the Castro brothers should be beyond even Mr. Obama’s belief in hope and change.

Dictatorships, especially the one-man variety like Russia’s, are unpredictable, but they do operate on logical underlying principles. They often come to power with popular support and a mandate to solve a crisis. Once a firm grip on power is achieved, the junta or supreme leader blames his predecessors for any problems, and he cracks down on rights. With democracy dead and civil society hunted to extinction, the only way left to make a legitimate claim on power is confrontation and conflict. Propaganda is ratcheted up against mythical fifth columnists and the usual scapegoats, like immigrants and minorities.

The next and usually final phase arrives when other tricks have become stale. Domestic enemies are never threatening enough—and eventually there is no one left to persecute, as in the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin—so the dictator looks abroad, inevitably finding a “national interest” to defend across a convenient border.

This external-conflict phase is especially dangerous because there are very few examples of aggressor nations moving away from it peacefully. War and revolution are the more frequent ways it burns itself out. The Soviet Union altered its confrontational course after Stalin’s death, but it was a unique and gigantic superpower with enough resources for its leadership to believe that it could compete with the Free World instead of declaring war on it.

As it turned out, the Soviets were wrong, something that more-recent autocrats, including Mr. Putin, no doubt understand. They have watched and learned that their people will eventually begin to compare living standards and see the truth if left unmolested by war and strife. This window on the Free World is even larger in the Internet age, so the conflicts and propaganda have to be even more extreme.

Iran has been operating in the confrontational phase for years, with America and Israel as the main targets, in addition to Tehran’s regional Sunni rivals. Mr. Putin moved into confrontation mode with the invasion of Ukraine and he cannot afford to back down.

The dictatorship that Nicolás Maduro inherited from Hugo Chávez in Venezuela is approaching the final stage as well, as seen from the country’s recent launch of a border and immigrant conflict with Colombia. The emptier the shelves in Venezuelan supermarkets, the more threatening the Colombians must be made to seem. China has relied on tremendous growth to forestall internal unrest for human rights, but if its economy falters substantially, last week’s giant military parade in Beijing will be seen as prelude, not posturing. Taiwan, always in China’s sights, has good reason to be troubled by the West’s feeble responses in Syria and Ukraine.

Power abhors a vacuum, and as the U.S. retreats the space is being filled. After years of the White House leading from behind, Secretary of State John Kerry’s timid warning to the Kremlin this week to stay out of Syria will be as effective as Mr. Obama’s “red line.” Soon Iran—flush with billions of dollars liberated by the nuclear deal—will add even more heft to its support for Mr. Assad.

Dead refugee children are on the shores of Europe, bringing home the Syrian crisis that has been in full bloom for years. There could be no more tragic symbol that it is time to stop being paralyzed by the Obama-era mantra that things could be worse—and to start acting instead to make things better.

Mr. Kasparov, chairman of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation, is the author of “Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped,” out next month from PublicAffairs.
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Gary McCutcheon
Gary McCutcheon 1 minute ago

It's amazing to me how many writers whose work is published in the WSJ as well as those who comment in this section lump the entire Middle East into one place. Kasparov labels it "...the wreckage of the Middle East." While no one would say there aren't enormous issues taking place within various countries, contrary to what many people seem to think, the entire Middle East isn't on fire. One need only visit Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., Oman, and others to see that life goes on in the same manner as in most other countries. People go to work, shop, dine out, socialize, and conduct their lives in much the same way as virtually all the readers of this publication. The hyperbole of so many who have so little understanding of Middle East issues has really gotten old.
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jerome rathskeller
jerome rathskeller 5 minutes ago

Obama should be imprisoned for treason.
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Frederick A. Green
Frederick A. Green 4 minutes ago

@jerome rathskeller


Unfortunately, the DOJ and FBI are his lap dogs.
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Leon Longchamp
Leon Longchamp 7 minutes ago

The greatest Obamanation of the Obama administration was getting elected by attacking our military and "Bush's War" in Iraq.  That was further compounded by Obama's withdraw of troops and signaling to the world that He put his political values ahead of American Values.


America deposed a dictator as brutal as Assad and we facilitated the formation of a Democracy in a Muslim country.  Making it work is a difficult task, but it was (and is) a battle worth fighting for. Obama was not up to the task, Obama's failure is one reason that Muslims are fleeing their homeland.  They are looking for the security in Democratic countries today.


Obama's actions are a stain American leadership as well as his legacy 
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Thomas Yasin
Thomas Yasin 7 minutes ago

Mr. Kasparov makes the common mistake in assuming that America's enemies are Obama's enemies.  They're not.  Mr. Obama's enemies are Republicans, congressmen, and conservatives.


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TIM LUKER
TIM LUKER 3 minutes ago

@Thomas Yasin

Don't forget the Little Sisters of the Poor.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #658 on: September 12, 2015, 10:21:52 AM »

Some glib passages IMHO, but also some worthy content:

 Coming to Terms With the American Empire
Geopolitical Weekly
April 14, 2015 | 07:54 GMT
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By George Friedman

"Empire" is a dirty word. Considering the behavior of many empires, that is not unreasonable. But empire is also simply a description of a condition, many times unplanned and rarely intended. It is a condition that arises from a massive imbalance of power. Indeed, the empires created on purpose, such as Napoleonic France and Nazi Germany, have rarely lasted. Most empires do not plan to become one. They become one and then realize what they are. Sometimes they do not realize what they are for a long time, and that failure to see reality can have massive consequences.
World War II and the Birth of an Empire

The United States became an empire in 1945. It is true that in the Spanish-American War, the United States intentionally took control of the Philippines and Cuba. It is also true that it began thinking of itself as an empire, but it really was not. Cuba and the Philippines were the fantasy of empire, and this illusion dissolved during World War I, the subsequent period of isolationism and the Great Depression.

The genuine American empire that emerged thereafter was a byproduct of other events. There was no great conspiracy. In some ways, the circumstances of its creation made it more powerful. The dynamic of World War II led to the collapse of the European Peninsula and its occupation by the Soviets and the Americans. The same dynamic led to the occupation of Japan and its direct governance by the United States as a de facto colony, with Gen. Douglas MacArthur as viceroy.

The United States found itself with an extraordinary empire, which it also intended to abandon. This was a genuine wish and not mere propaganda. First, the United States was the first anti-imperial project in modernity. It opposed empire in principle. More important, this empire was a drain on American resources and not a source of wealth. World War II had shattered both Japan and Western Europe. The United States gained little or no economic advantage in holding on to these countries. Finally, the United States ended World War II largely untouched by war and as perhaps one of the few countries that profited from it. The money was to be made in the United States, not in the empire. The troops and the generals wanted to go home.

But unlike after World War I, the Americans couldn't let go. That earlier war ruined nearly all of the participants. No one had the energy to attempt hegemony. The United States was content to leave Europe to its own dynamics. World War II ended differently. The Soviet Union had been wrecked but nevertheless it remained powerful. It was a hegemon in the east, and absent the United States, it conceivably could dominate all of Europe. This represented a problem for Washington, since a genuinely united Europe — whether a voluntary and effective federation or dominated by a single country — had sufficient resources to challenge U.S. power.

The United States could not leave. It did not think of itself as overseeing an empire, and it certainly permitted more internal political autonomy than the Soviets did in their region. Yet, in addition to maintaining a military presence, the United States organized the European economy and created and participated in the European defense system. If the essence of sovereignty is the ability to decide whether or not to go to war, that power was not in London, Paris or Warsaw. It was in Moscow and Washington.

The organizing principle of American strategy was the idea of containment. Unable to invade the Soviet Union, Washington's default strategy was to check it. U.S. influence spread through Europe to Iran. The Soviet strategy was to flank the containment system by supporting insurgencies and allied movements as far to the rear of the U.S. line as possible. The European empires were collapsing and fragmenting. The Soviets sought to create an alliance structure out of the remnants, and the Americans sought to counter them.
The Economics of Empire

One of the advantages of alliance with the Soviets, particularly for insurgent groups, was a generous supply of weapons. The advantage of alignment with the United States was belonging to a dynamic trade zone and having access to investment capital and technology. Some nations, such as South Korea, benefited extraordinarily from this. Others didn't. Leaders in countries like Nicaragua felt they had more to gain from Soviet political and military support than in trade with the United States.

The United States was by far the largest economic power, with complete control of the sea, bases around the world, and a dynamic trade and investment system that benefitted countries that were strategically critical to the United States or at least able to take advantage of it. It was at this point, early in the Cold War, that the United States began behaving as an empire, even if not consciously.

The geography of the American empire was built partly on military relations but heavily on economic relations. At first these economic relations were fairly trivial to American business. But as the system matured, the value of investments soared along with the importance of imports, exports and labor markets. As in any genuinely successful empire, it did not begin with a grand design or even a dream of one. Strategic necessity created an economic reality in country after country until certain major industries became dependent on at least some countries. The obvious examples were Saudi Arabia or Venezuela, whose oil fueled American oil companies, and which therefore — quite apart from conventional strategic importance — became economically important. This eventually made them strategically important.

As an empire matures, its economic value increases, particularly when it is not coercing others. Coercion is expensive and undermines the worth of an empire. The ideal colony is one that is not at all a colony, but a nation that benefits from economic relations with both the imperial power and the rest of the empire. The primary military relationship ought to be either mutual dependence or, barring that, dependence of the vulnerable client state on the imperial power.

This is how the United States slipped into empire. First, it was overwhelmingly wealthy and powerful. Second, it faced a potential adversary capable of challenging it globally, in a large number of countries. Third, it used its economic advantage to induce at least some of these countries into economic, and therefore political and military, relationships. Fourth, these countries became significantly important to various sectors of the American economy.
Limits of the American Empire

The problem of the American Empire is the overhang of the Cold War. During this time, the United States expected to go to war with a coalition around it, but also to carry the main burden of war. When Operation Desert Storm erupted in 1991, the basic Cold War principle prevailed. There was a coalition with the United States at the center of it. After 9/11, the decision was made to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq with the core model in place. There was a coalition, but the central military force was American, and it was assumed that the economic benefits of relations with the United States would be self-evident. In many ways, the post-9/11 wars took their basic framework from World War II. Iraq War planners explicitly discussed the occupation of Germany and Japan.

No empire can endure by direct rule. The Nazis were perhaps the best example of this. They tried to govern Poland directly, captured Soviet territory, pushed aside Vichy to govern not half but all of France, and so on. The British, on the other hand, ruled India with a thin layer of officials and officers and a larger cadre of businessmen trying to make their fortunes. The British obviously did better. The Germans exhausted themselves not only by overreaching, but also by diverting troops and administrators to directly oversee some countries. The British could turn their empire into something extraordinarily important to the global system. The Germans broke themselves not only on their enemies, but on their conquests as well.

The United States emerged after 1992 as the only global balanced power. That is, it was the only nation that could deploy economic, political and military power on a global basis. The United States was and remains enormously powerful. However, this is very different from omnipotence. In hearing politicians debate Russia, Iran or Yemen, you get the sense that they feel that U.S. power has no limits. There are always limits, and empires survive by knowing and respecting them.

The primary limit of the American empire is the same as that of the British and Roman empires: demographic. In Eurasia — Asia and Europe together — the Americans are outnumbered from the moment they set foot on the ground. The U.S. military is built around force multipliers, weapons that can destroy the enemy before the enemy destroys the relatively small force deployed. Sometimes this strategy works. Over the long run, it cannot. The enemy can absorb attrition much better than the small American force can. This lesson was learned in Vietnam and reinforced in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iraq is a country of 25 million people. The Americans sent about 130,000 troops. Inevitably, the attrition rate overwhelmed the Americans. The myth that Americans have no stomach for war forgets that the United States fought in Vietnam for seven years and in Iraq for about the same length of time. The public can be quite patient. The mathematics of war is the issue. At a certain point, the rate of attrition is simply not worth the political ends.

The deployment of a main force into Eurasia is unsupportable except in specialized cases when overwhelming force can be bought to bear in a place where it is important to win. These occasions are typically few and far between. Otherwise, the only strategy is indirect warfare: shifting the burden of war to those who want to bear it or cannot avoid doing so. For the first years of World War II, indirect warfare was used to support the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union against Germany.

There are two varieties of indirect warfare. The first is supporting native forces whose interests are parallel. This was done in the early stages of Afghanistan. The second is maintaining the balance of power among nations. We are seeing this form in the Middle East as the United States moves between the four major regional powers — Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Turkey — supporting one then another in a perpetual balancing act. In Iraq, U.S. fighters carry out air strikes in parallel with Iranian ground forces. In Yemen, the United States supports Saudi air strikes against the Houthis, who have received Iranian training.

This is the essence of empire. The British saying is that it has no permanent friends or permanent enemies, only permanent interests. That old cliche is, like most cliches, true. The United States is in the process of learning that lesson. In many ways the United States was more charming when it had clearly identified friends and enemies. But that is a luxury that empires cannot afford.
Building a System of Balance

We are now seeing the United States rebalance its strategy by learning to balance. A global power cannot afford to be directly involved in the number of conflicts that it will encounter around the world. It would be exhausted rapidly. Using various tools, it must create regional and global balances without usurping internal sovereignty. The trick is to create situations where other countries want to do what is in the U.S. interest.

This endeavor is difficult. The first step is to use economic incentives to shape other countries' behavior. It isn't the U.S. Department of Commerce but businesses that do this. The second is to provide economic aid to wavering countries. The third is to provide military aid. The fourth is to send advisers. The fifth is to send overwhelming force. The leap from the fourth level to the fifth is the hardest to master. Overwhelming force should almost never be used. But when advisers and aid do not solve a problem that must urgently be solved, then the only type of force that can be used is overwhelming force. Roman legions were used sparingly, but when they were used, they brought overwhelming power to bear.
The Responsibilities of Empire

I have been deliberately speaking of the United States as an empire, knowing that this term is jarring. Those who call the United States an empire usually mean that it is in some sense evil. Others will call it anything else if they can. But it is helpful to face the reality the United States is in. It is always useful to be honest, particularly with yourself. But more important, if the United States thinks of itself as an empire, then it will begin to learn the lessons of imperial power. Nothing is more harmful than an empire using its power carelessly.

It is true that the United States did not genuinely intend to be an empire. It is also true that its intentions do not matter one way or another. Circumstance, history and geopolitics have created an entity that, if it isn't an empire, certainly looks like one. Empires can be far from oppressive. The Persians were quite liberal in their outlook. The American ideology and the American reality are not inherently incompatible. But two things must be faced: First, the United States cannot give away the power it has. There is no practical way to do that. Second, given the vastness of that power, it will be involved in conflicts whether it wants to or not. Empires are frequently feared, sometimes respected, but never loved by the rest of the world. And pretending that you aren't an empire does not fool anyone.

The current balancing act in the Middle East represents a fundamental rebalancing of American strategy. It is still clumsy and poorly thought out, but it is happening. And for the rest of the world, the idea that the Americans are coming will become more and more rare. The United States will not intervene. It will manage the situation, sometimes to the benefit of one country and sometimes to another.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #659 on: October 10, 2015, 02:16:38 PM »


By Niall Ferguson
Oct. 9, 2015 6:17 p.m. ET
429 COMMENTS

Even before becoming Richard Nixon’s national security adviser, Henry Kissinger understood how hard it was to make foreign policy in Washington. There “is no such thing as an American foreign policy,” Mr. Kissinger wrote in 1968. There is only “a series of moves that have produced a certain result” that they “may not have been planned to produce.” It is “research and intelligence organizations,” he added, that “attempt to give a rationality and consistency” which “it simply does not have.”

Two distinctively American pathologies explained the fundamental absence of coherent strategic thinking. First, the person at the top was selected for other skills. “The typical political leader of the contemporary managerial society,” noted Mr. Kissinger, “is a man with a strong will, a high capacity to get himself elected, but no very great conception of what he is going to do when he gets into office.”

Second, the government was full of people trained as lawyers. In making foreign policy, Mr. Kissinger once remarked, “you have to know what history is relevant.” But lawyers were “the single most important group in Government,” he said, and their principal drawback was “a deficiency in history.” This was a long-standing prejudice of his. “The clever lawyers who run our government,” he thundered in a 1956 letter to a friend, have weakened the nation by instilling a “quest for minimum risk which is our most outstanding characteristic.”

Let’s see, now. A great campaigner. A bunch of lawyers. And a “quest for minimum risk.” What is it about this combination that sounds familiar?

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

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

But what that meant in practice was not entirely clear. Precipitate withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq, but a time-limited surge in Afghanistan. A “reset” with Russia, but seeming indifference to Europe. A “pivot” to Asia, but mixed signals to China. And then, in response to the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Libya, complete confusion, the nadir of which was the September 2013 redline fiasco regarding the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons in Syria and Mr. Obama’s declaration that “America is not the global policeman.”

An approximation of an Obama strategy was revealed in April last year, at the end of a presidential trip to Asia, when White House aides told reporters that the Obama doctrine was “Don’t do stupid sh--.”

I now see, however, that there is more to it than that.

The president always intended to repudiate more than George W. Bush’s foreign policy. In a 2012 presidential debate with Mitt Romney, Mr. Obama made clear that he was turning away from Ronald Reagan, too. “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back,” he jeered, “because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.” Mr. Romney’s reference to Russia as “our number one geopolitical foe” now looks prescient, whereas the president’s boast, in a January 2014 New Yorker magazine interview, that he didn’t “really even need George Kennan right now” looks like hubristic rejection of foreign-policy experience itself. Two months later, Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea.

Mr. Obama also had his own plan for the Middle East. “It would be profoundly in the interest” of the region’s citizens “if Sunnis and Shias weren’t intent on killing each other,” Mr. Obama said in that same interview. “If we were able to get Iran to operate in a responsible fashion—not funding terrorist organizations, not trying to stir up sectarian discontent in other countries, and not developing a nuclear weapon—you could see an equilibrium developing between . . . predominantly Sunni Gulf states and Iran.”

Now I see that this was the strategy—a strategy aimed at creating a new balance of power in the Middle East. The deal on Iran’s nuclear-arms program was part of Mr. Obama’s aim (as he put it to journalist Jeffrey Goldberg in May) “to find effective partners—not just in Iraq, but in Syria, and in Yemen, and in Libya.” Mr. Obama said he wanted “to create the international coalition and atmosphere in which people across sectarian lines are willing to compromise and are willing to work together in order to provide the next generation a fighting chance for a better future.”

The same fuzzy thinking informed Mr. Obama’s speech at the U.N. General Assembly last week, in which he first said he wanted to “work with other nations under the mantle of international norms and principles and law,” but then added that, to sort out Syria, he was willing to work with Russia and Iran—neither famed for spending time under that particular mantle—so long as they accepted the ousting of yet another Middle Eastern dictator.

A fighting chance for a better future in the Middle East? Make that a better chance for a fighting future.

It is clear that the president’s strategy is failing disastrously. Since 2010, total fatalities from armed conflict in the world have increased by a factor of close to four, according to data from the International Institute of Strategic Studies. Total fatalities due to terrorism have risen nearly sixfold, based on the University of Maryland’s Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism database. Nearly all this violence is concentrated in a swath of territory stretching from North Africa through the Middle East to Afghanistan and Pakistan. And there is every reason to expect the violence to escalate as the Sunni powers of the region seek to prevent Iran from establishing itself as the post-American hegemon.

Today the U.S. faces three strategic challenges: the maelstrom in the Muslim world, the machinations of a weak but ruthless Russia, and the ambition of a still-growing China. The president’s responses to all three look woefully inadequate.

Those who know the Obama White House’s inner workings wonder why this president, who came into office with next to no experience of foreign policy, has made so little effort to hire strategic expertise. In fairness, Denis McDonough (now White House chief of staff) has some real knowledge of Latin America. While at Oxford, National Security Adviser Susan Rice wrote a doctoral dissertation on Zimbabwe. And Samantha Power, ambassador to the U.N., has published two substantial books (one of which—“A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide”—she will need to update when she returns to academic life).

But other key players are the sort of people Henry Kissinger complained about more than half a century ago: Michael Froman, the trade representative, was one of Mr. Obama’s classmates at Harvard Law School; Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken is a Columbia J.D.; éminence grise Valerie Jarrett got hers from the University of Michigan. What about Secretary of State John Kerry? Boston College Law School, ’76. Not one of the people who advise the president could claim to have made contributions to strategic doctrine comparable with those made by Mr. Kissinger or Zbigniew Brzezinski before they went to Washington.

Some things you can learn on the job, like tending bar or being a community organizer. National-security strategy is different. “High office teaches decision making, not substance,” Mr. Kissinger once wrote. “It consumes intellectual capital; it does not create it.” The next president may have cause to regret that Barack Obama didn’t heed those words. In making up his strategy as he has gone along, this president has sown the wind. His successor will reap the whirlwind. He or she had better bring some serious intellectual capital to the White House.

Mr. Ferguson’s first volume of his Henry Kissinger biography has just been published by Penguin.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #660 on: November 05, 2015, 11:51:17 PM »


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The Golden Age of Sino-British Relations Is Now
Global Affairs
November 5, 2015 | 08:15 GMT Print
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By Ian Morris

Last week, a visit to the London School of Economics gave me the opportunity to participate in some fascinating and important discussions on everything from the origins of agriculture to the future of the U.S.-Iranian relationship. And yet as the week went on, I couldn't shake the feeling that a truly momentous shift was unfolding right in front of me. Each morning as I walked through Soho to get to the school, I passed under a big banner announcing, "London Welcomes President Xi Jinping." The Chinese leader had been in town just a week earlier on a visit that British Prime Minister David Cameron had called the beginning of "a golden time" in Sino-British relations.

Britain's leaders have enthusiastically embraced China. Two years ago, Chancellor George Osborne announced that London would become the first Western hub for trading renminbi and that Chinese banks would be allowed to open branches there. Then in June, Britain ignored U.S. objections and signed the Articles of Agreement of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, widely regarded as a Chinese rival to the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. During Xi's most recent visit in October, London announced not only that it would ease visa restrictions on rich Chinese tourists but also that the state-owned China General Nuclear Power Group would invest $9 billion in the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, despite concerns about China gaining access to nuclear secrets. Meanwhile, negotiations with China continue for a $16 billion investment in High Speed 2, a high-speed rail line linking London to northern England.

What is Global Affairs?

Not everyone in Britain supports its flourishing relationship with China. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond came under criticism in October for failing to challenge Xi on his authoritarianism, and British officials arrested three prominent protesters in London during Xi's visit. I got a taste of the anxiety myself when I drafted a column on the Hinkley Point C negotiations for a British newspaper in 2014, only to have the editor respond that it needed, "less history, more scary stuff about China." But despite this pushback, a major shift seems to be underway in Britain’s strategic posture — one that appears to be just one part of an even bigger change taking place in the global landscape.

An Island at the Edge of the World

Since about 6000 B.C., when melting glaciers finally raised sea levels high enough to create the English Channel, two fundamental facts have dominated Britain's strategic position. First, it is an island at the edge of the European landmass; and second, it projects into the northern Atlantic Ocean.

But insularity has rarely equaled isolation. Both archaeology and DNA show that by 5000 B.C., people, goods and ideas were already moving up and down the "Atlantic facade," stretching from modern-day Spain to Scotland. Southern England was still tightly linked to northern France through ties of ethnicity, economics and culture when Julius Caesar invaded in 55 B.C. However, Britain was still very much the edge of the known world in antiquity and remained so until the 15th century A.D. While the English Channel and North Sea were narrow enough to function as trading highways, the Atlantic Ocean was simply too big for ancient and medieval ships to master. Its vastness formed a barrier that cut the islands off from the real centers of civilization, which stretched from the Mediterranean to China.

This band of civilization had formed the world's demographic, economic and military core since farming began around 9500 B.C., and for millennia Britain served as a subordinate satellite at the band's western end. In the last few centuries B.C., northern France heavily influenced southern England, but in the first few centuries A.D. Rome ruled the whole of England and Wales. Then in the mid-to-late first millennium A.D., Germans and Scandinavians settled and plundered much of Britain, before Norway and Normandy invaded England in 1066. By the start of the second millennium, English monarchs (of partly French descent) began pushing back, and for a few short years after 1422 the infant King Henry VI nominally ruled both France and England. By 1475, though, English King Edward IV had formally renounced all claims to France in exchange for cash.

Technology and, above all, the invention of ocean-going ships eventually transformed Britain's strategic situation. By the 12th century A.D., Chinese shipwrights were building vessels capable of traveling thousands of miles. Arab skippers in the Indian Ocean picked up some of their key ideas and brought them to the Mediterranean. And by the 15th century A.D., Portuguese caravels were nosing their way down the western coast of Africa and across the Atlantic Ocean. In the 1490s, bigger, faster Iberian galleons reached the Americas and passed the Cape of Good Hope to enter the Indian Ocean. The new ships converted the Atlantic Ocean from a barrier around Western Europe to a highway linking it to lands of untold wealth.

Becoming the Center of Global Trade

At first, it seemed as if the new technologies had done little to change Britain's strategic position. Spain and Portugal, which both combined easy access to the Atlantic with strongly centralized monarchies, were better placed than any other country to exploit the maritime highways. The English, along with the French and Dutch, found themselves shut out of the rich pickings in India, South America and the Caribbean and reduced to trading with the parts of North America that the Spaniards did not want. If anything, Britain seemed more vulnerable than ever to domination from the Continent in the 16th century, particularly when Spain tried to invade it in 1588.

In reality, though, the Atlantic economy that ocean-going ships had created had already begun to improve Britain's fortunes. The North Atlantic had become the Goldilocks ideal: big enough that very different kinds of societies and ecological zones flourished around its shores, but small enough that European ships could move quite easily around it, trading at a profit at every turn. In this brave new world, the relatively weak governments of England and Holland became an advantage, because they were less able than the powerful Spanish monarchs to expropriate traders' profits.

Throughout the 16th century, Spanish kings treated the New World and their merchant subjects as a kind of ATM that provided the cash needed to fund wars and dominate Western Europe. But by 1600, they were overextended and bankrupt. English kings, by comparison, struggled to plunder their North American colonists and their traders. Generations of conflict ended in 1688 with a compromise, known as the "Glorious Revolution," that installed a Dutch king and business-friendly institutions in England. Holland, which did not even have kings, went even further in this direction, and the three great wars fought between the English and Dutch from the 1640s to the 1670s had everything to do with intercontinental trade and nothing to do with European empires.

Meanwhile, Britain's insularity continued to dominate its strategic thinking, but the fact that it projected into the North Atlantic was increasingly coming to be more important than its location near the Continent. Understanding this, a handful of 18th-century Britons undertook one of the most profound strategic reorientations in history. Rather than seeing Britain as the western end of Europe and using overseas trade to fund wars that could improve the country's position relative to the Continental powers, they began to see Britain as the hub of an intercontinental trade network. From this perspective, the only reason to fight a war in Europe was to prevent any single power from dominating the Continent, since a dominant land power might then be able to challenge Britain at sea.

The story of how they achieved their goals is too well known to need retelling, but by 1815 Britain had managed to establish a balance of power in Europe and an overseas empire on which the sun never set. Bringing together huge concentrations of capital, precocious industrialization, a vast merchant marine, unrivaled financial expertise, a fleet bigger than any other three navies combined, and an Indian army that could act as a strategic military reserve made Britain the first genuinely global power in history. Unlike any previous empire, Britain derived most of its wealth not from plunder or tax but from its dominant position in global trade, and it used its military and economic muscle to protect free trade and open markets. Long before the "golden time" in Sino-British ties dawned, Britain's relations with China were entirely a product of this muscle. China's emperor rejected a British trade delegation in 1793, but 50 years later his descendant was unable to resist any longer after British ships sank his fleet, seized Hong Kong and moved to blockade the Grand Canal, threatening Beijing with famine. The "unequal treaties" that followed, giving Britain a monopoly over trading rights along much of China's coast, remained in force until the 1940s, and China did not recover Hong Kong until 1997.

The story of how Britain's 19th-century system broke down is even better known. Free trade allowed some of Britain's commercial partners — most important, the United States and Germany — to industrialize their own economies. On the one hand, their growing wealth allowed them to buy more British goods and to raise British revenues even further, but on the other it made them rivals in international markets and rich enough to challenge Britain militarily.

After about 1870, Britain's financial and military lead over its rivals steadily shrank, and with it, the country's ability to police the international order and to deter other great powers from trying to unite Europe. In 1914, Germany's leaders decided that their own strategic position was so parlous that they had no choice but to risk war with the world's policeman. Even if they did not initially aim to master Europe, their war goals rapidly evolved in that direction. Britain and its allies defeated this challenge, but only at a ruinous cost, and a second German offensive (much more explicitly aimed at Continental mastery) could only be overcome with the power of the Soviet Union and the United States.

Same Interests, New Tactics

In 1962, former U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson famously said, "Great Britain has lost an empire and not yet found a role." But that was not entirely true. Lord Palmerston, Britain’s foreign secretary, had been nearer the mark in 1848 when he said, "We have no eternal allies and we have no perpetual friends … [only] our interests are eternal and perpetual."

For more than 400 years, Britain's strategic interest had been to engage vigorously in global trade while preventing the rise of a single dominant power on the European continent. In the 17th century, that required all-out naval conflicts with the Dutch. In the 18th century, it required all-out naval conflicts with France as well as colonial expeditions and occasional Continental land wars. In the 19th century, it mostly meant policing the world's sea-lanes and trying to conduct the Concert of Europe. Between 1914 and 1945, it meant total air, sea and land wars with Germany and an increasing reliance on the United States; and from 1945 into the 2010s, it meant even deeper dependence on American economic and military strength, combined with a delicate diplomatic dance with what we now call the European Union.

British leaders constantly had to recalibrate the balance between their American and European interests. In the 1950s-1960s, they found themselves leaning too far away from Europe and being shut out of the Franco-German alliance that headed the European Economic Community. In the 1970s, they found themselves leaning too far in the other direction, entering the renamed European Communities on disadvantageous terms in 1973. Since the 1980s, they have leaned away from Europe again, renegotiating their financial contributions in 1984-85, opting out of the euro in 1992, joining the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 against Western Europe's strong objections, and committing in 2013 to an in-out referendum on the European Union within the next four years.

Seen in this light, the dawning of a "golden time" in Sino-British relations takes on new meaning. British interests remain focused, as they have been for centuries, on balancing between Europe and the wider world, but Britain’s special relationship with the United States is just one vehicle for pursuing that balance. There are no eternal allies.

Since about 2010, British governments have begun wondering whether the American alliance is still the best way to maintain their nation's position in the world. Their interest in becoming "China’s strongest partner in the West," as Osborne has put it, need not mean that Britain is drawing further away from Europe, since both U.S. President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart insist that they want to see Britain remain within the European Union. Nor does it need to mean that Britain is turning its back on the United States. But it does, nevertheless, represent a significant rebalancing. Britain, with the world's fifth-biggest economy (in nominal terms) and, by many judgments, its fifth-strongest military, is by any reckoning an important ally of the United States. But the most significant aspect of Britain’s apparent strategic realignment is surely the fact that it is not the only country that is engaging in such activity. Whether we put the blame on the foreign policy vacillations of the Obama administration, the recklessness of the Bush administration, or the steady growth of Chinese economic and military might, even such long-time American allies as Australia, South Korea and Israel are looking for new friends.

The United States has been the world's greatest power for nearly a century, and for more than a quarter of that time it has dominated the international order more completely than any power in history. But there are growing signs that the ground is shifting under our feet, and few are more revealing than the banners with which London welcomed China's president in October.
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« Reply #661 on: November 16, 2015, 11:10:19 AM »

 Many Paths to Modernization
Global Affairs
November 11, 2015 | 08:48 GMT Print
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By Jay Ogilvy

A few columns ago, I proposed a different vision of geopolitics based on Manuel Castells' concept of "the space of flows." The main idea was fairly simple: We need to supplement the literal proximities between the geopolitical entities we call "states" with another set of relationships — namely, the ties that bind some places to others through dense corridors of communication and commerce.

With the help of well-known American political scientist Francis Fukuyama, I'd like to explore yet another form of closeness and distance that could further supplement a new, less literal, geopolitics: economic and cultural similarities. I'll start with Fukuyama's thesis that China and southern Italy are, in a sense, "closer" to one another than are China and Japan or Italy and Israel.

In his book Trust, Fukuyama develops the thesis that low-trust societies — places where people generally have less trust for those who aren't related to them, like China and southern Italy — put so much importance on family and relationships that they often find it difficult to succeed in industries requiring organizations that are larger than just a few families. Products such as handcrafted leather goods and clothing can be fashioned and sold by small groups of people bearing the same last name. But the automobile and aerospace industries demand larger workforces and consequently require a degree of trust among strangers that runs in short supply in southern Italy and western China.

What is Global Affairs?

I add the western qualifier here because western China is the old China, where trust among non-family members is still low. In the past few decades since Trust was published, coastal China has demonstrated a remarkable capacity for creating, organizing and managing some very large enterprises, including shipyards, railroads, aerospace and automobiles. This raises the question: Was Fukuyama's thesis simply wrong? Or have the Chinese learned to trust one another?
Revisiting the 'End of History'

Let's take these questions in turn. It is tempting to think that Fukuyama is wrong again; wasn't he the guy who told us that history was over? But this would be a glib conclusion that badly misreads the case Fukuyama was making in The End of History and the Last Man. To those of us steeped in the tradition Fukuyama draws on — George Friedman included — everyone knows that the phrase "the end of history" does not refer to the cessation of politics. What a ridiculous idea, as if one day we might wake up to a world in which journalists no longer had anything to write about! Fukuyama is not deluded, as countless commentators have made him out to be with sentences starting with, "Contrary to Fukuyama's idea that history is over … "

Instead, "the end of history" refers to a particular reading of German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's work by a French scholar named Alexandre Kojeve. In a series of influential lectures in Paris during the 1930s, Kojeve laid out an interpretation of Hegel, according to which Hegel (the thinker) saw himself teaming up with Napoleon (the historical actor) to accomplish a kind of rounding out of history in word and deed. To the extent that Hegel's words brought to self-consciousness Napoleon's uniting of Europe, then the disparate and often senseless acts of history that had occurred up to that point could be understood to have achieved a new level of meaning and maturity.

Kojeve certainly wasn't maintaining that according to Hegel, history was over and nothing would happen anymore. Again, that would be ridiculous. Nor was Fukuyama claiming anything of the kind. Instead he was borrowing this idea, well known to some, to make similar sense of the demise of both communism and fascism in the 20th century. With only democratic capitalism left, the contest between world-dominating ideologies was over. A new maturity, not the shutdown of death, had been achieved. With the violence of adolescence behind us, we could enter into adulthood, with all the headlines and events that "adult" development would engender.

Of course, it is possible to question both Kojeve and Hegel about their reading of Napoleon's significance, just as it is possible to question Fukuyama's view that democratic capitalism has triumphed quite as thoroughly as he claims. After all, China still resists democracy, and since 2008 we have reason to look for another chapter in the history of capitalism. But these are sensible debates about real issues, not facile dismissals of a foolish claim that was never intended to be made in the first place.

So Fukuyama is not wrong again, because he was never wrong to begin with. Nor, I think, is he wrong now to call attention to the figurative "closeness" between southern Italy and China. Their economies, and hence their geopolitical power, are still inhibited by low levels of trust between non-kin. Look at Italy's plight as one of the southern European nations tearing the European Union apart. Look at the near panic induced among many senior Chinese officials who are cowering under the threat of arrest. Chinese President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign is unfolding for a reason: The "radius of trust," to use Fukuyama's vivid phrase, is still too often drawn tight around friends and family, even as companies in China get bigger.
Fukuyama on Political Order

Fukuyama's focus on the importance of trust carried into his later two-volume magnum opus, The Origins of Political Order (2011) and Political Order and Political Decay (2014). These magisterial tomes trace the origins and evolution of political organizations from their pre-human roots in primate biology to the present day.

There is no way to adequately summarize more than a thousand pages in less than a thousand words. Still, I want to draw your attention to this work because Fukuyama's framework sheds light on two areas of great interest today: First, the crises in southern Europe and the Middle East, and second, the prospects for democracy in China.

For Greece and Italy, his lesson is fairly simple: Don't assume that once modernization has been achieved, liberal democracy will flourish like mushrooms after a rainstorm. After taking the time to review several histories of nation building and state building — the two are not the same, as Fukuyama shows in great detail — he is able to conclude with authority that there are several paths, not just one, toward modernization and development.

Fukuyama then identifies the six major components of a geopolitical model: economic growth, social mobilization, ideas/legitimacy, democracy, rule of law and the state. By reviewing and comparing the histories of state formation in China, Europe, Russia, Latin America, the United Kingdom, North America and Africa — in other words, the history of the entire world — Fukuyama is able to show how different countries' paths toward modernization have been.

    "In Britain and America, economic modernization drove social mobilization which in turn created the conditions for the elimination of patronage and clientelism. In both countries, it was new middle-class groups that sought an end to the patronage system. This might lead some to believe that socioeconomic modernization and the creation of a middle class will by themselves create modern government. But this view is belied by the Greek and Italian cases, societies that are wealthy and modern and yet continue to practice clientelism. There is no automatic mechanism that produces clean, modern government, because a host of other factors is necessary to explain outcomes."

A similar lesson can be drawn with respect to Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Whatever one has to say about the wisdom of driving on to Baghdad in the Iraq War, the bungling of the U.S. occupation showed a callow lack of appreciation for that "host of other factors" involved in institution building.

    "Results of state building are very disappointing. The United States is scheduled to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan in 2016 without having created a functional, legitimate centralized state. Iraq seemed to have more of a state, but the latter's authority in the areas north of Baghdad collapsed in 2014. Repeated interventions and billions of dollars in foreign assistance have yet to create functional governments in either Haiti or Somalia."

The Recurring Threat of Patrimonialism

One theme that shows up throughout Fukuyama's work is the unending tension between the need for objective, neutral and fair rule-based institutions on the one hand, and mankind's age-old tendency to favor family and friends on the other. Even where the rule of law has triumphed after centuries of familial favoritism by tribal leaders, society hasn't managed to eliminate the perpetual threat of "repatrimonialism" — a big word that plays a big role, by Fukuyama's measure.

This brings us back to China, for there as nowhere else we see the contest playing out: Can China move beyond "rule by law," where the legal system is used to level the playing field for everyone except the country's leaders, to "rule of law," where the leadership is not, in patrimonial fashion, above the rules governing everyone else?

The jury is still out, but Fukuyama's framework gives us a helpful lens through which we can read breaking news stories about China. Fukuyama begins his history of statecraft by pointing out that China was the first in the world to transition from warring tribes to a functioning, centralized state under the Qin dynasty in the third century B.C. Much has happened since then, of course, and the paroxysms of the 20th century — from Mao's Long March, through the Cultural Revolution, to Deng Xiaoping's dictum "to get rich is glorious" — may have cut the roots to China's past so thoroughly that no vestige of its long history could last. But in one of his bolder chapters, titled "The Reinvention of the Chinese State," Fukuyama makes the claim that "whether or not participants in that process were aware of what they were doing," Chinese leaders have been engaged in a kind of Confucian repatrimonialization since 1978 that is, in many ways, reminiscent of dynasties past. "The reformers were deliberately seeking to establish a Western-style Weberian bureaucracy, but in doing so they inadvertently recovered some of their own traditions."

So what about the future? Will the growth of the middle class in China generate louder calls for democracy? Or can authoritarian capitalism persist? As of this writing, Fukuyama is on his way home from China, and we will be talking in the coming weeks. I'll convey the outcome of our conversation in my column next month.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2015, 11:42:20 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #662 on: November 26, 2015, 03:06:43 PM »

IMHO this is an EXTREMELY significant development:

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/11/25/russia-sending-long-range-missiles-to-syria-ready-to-destroy-any-target-posing-danger-to-our-aircraft/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Firewire%20-%20HORIZON%2011-26-15%20FINAL-Thanksgiving&utm_term=Firewire

My initial snap impressions:

We just lost dominance of the skies.

Israel just lost dominance of the skies.

Russia-Iranian-Shia Iraq-Syria-Hezbollah arc will solidify.  

Iran is going nuclear and will develop further its already significant missile capablilties.  Iran will continue to foment in Yemen, Saudi Arabia already cannot handle the pressure and Shia Saudi Arabia, now more brazenly supported by Iran, will get increasingly more restless.  This will apply to the tiny countries the east coast of the Arabian Peninsula as well.  The position of the House of Saud will become increasingly tenuous-- its' fall is a possibility.

I'm not seeing ANY viable strategy for us in the Middle East.

Russia is now in a position to disrespect a NATO ally Turkey to legally defend the skies of Syria at Syria's request.

Russia is now in a position to fukc further with West/US in Ukraine.

Russia is now in a position to further destabilize NATO further with intimidation tactics with regard to NATO allies Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.

France will turn increasingly to alliance with Russia (remember those navy assault ships they were so set upon selling to the Russians?) and left in the middle so too will Germany as it deals with one million new Arab Muslim refugee invaders.

What will happen with the Euro Union?  The Euro?  Free movement?  Will they survive?

Russia is now in a position to nakedly assert its power play in the Arctic.

China will seal its control of the South China Sea.

Islam will destabilize Europe.

American homeland is now in cross hairs of Islamic Fascism.

Happy Thanksgiving , , ,
« Last Edit: November 26, 2015, 03:09:59 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #663 on: November 26, 2015, 05:38:34 PM »

Aside from all the peace and prosperity, my favorite part of the Obama era is the racial healing.


IMHO this is an EXTREMELY significant development:

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/11/25/russia-sending-long-range-missiles-to-syria-ready-to-destroy-any-target-posing-danger-to-our-aircraft/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Firewire%20-%20HORIZON%2011-26-15%20FINAL-Thanksgiving&utm_term=Firewire

My initial snap impressions:

We just lost dominance of the skies.

Israel just lost dominance of the skies.

Russia-Iranian-Shia Iraq-Syria-Hezbollah arc will solidify.  

Iran is going nuclear and will develop further its already significant missile capablilties.  Iran will continue to foment in Yemen, Saudi Arabia already cannot handle the pressure and Shia Saudi Arabia, now more brazenly supported by Iran, will get increasingly more restless.  This will apply to the tiny countries the east coast of the Arabian Peninsula as well.  The position of the House of Saud will become increasingly tenuous-- its' fall is a possibility.

I'm not seeing ANY viable strategy for us in the Middle East.

Russia is now in a position to disrespect a NATO ally Turkey to legally defend the skies of Syria at Syria's request.

Russia is now in a position to fukc further with West/US in Ukraine.

Russia is now in a position to further destabilize NATO further with intimidation tactics with regard to NATO allies Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.

France will turn increasingly to alliance with Russia (remember those navy assault ships they were so set upon selling to the Russians?) and left in the middle so too will Germany as it deals with one million new Arab Muslim refugee invaders.

What will happen with the Euro Union?  The Euro?  Free movement?  Will they survive?

Russia is now in a position to nakedly assert its power play in the Arctic.

China will seal its control of the South China Sea.

Islam will destabilize Europe.

American homeland is now in cross hairs of Islamic Fascism.

Happy Thanksgiving , , ,
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« Reply #664 on: November 26, 2015, 07:06:06 PM »


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Why Turkey Can't Sell a Syrian Safe Zone
Geopolitical Diary
October 7, 2015 | 01:24 GMT Text Size
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was in Brussels on Tuesday with an ambitious agenda: to promote the establishment of a "safe zone" in northern Syria. Erdogan can see that the Europeans have no good solutions to their immigration crisis other than to manipulate the route and flow of migrants. The latest idea gaining traction in a host of European capitals is to keep the hundreds of thousands of people trying to cross the Mediterranean off of Europe's shores by bottling them up closer to home instead. Brussels would, of course, pay Ankara to take care of its problem by housing more refugees traveling overland. But Turkey, which already hosts more than 2.5 million Syrians and has spent $7.6 billion on the refugee crisis so far, isn't buying into Europe's offer. Erdogan wants more. Much more.

Now that Turkey has Europe's attention and Russia has blindsided the United States in Syria, Erdogan is attempting to use the chaotic climate to dust off his plans for a Syrian safe zone. The Turkish version of a safe zone entails reinforcing rebel forces that are friendly with Turkey to flush out the Islamic State from a zone measuring 80 kilometers (50 miles) by 40 kilometers in Syria's northern Aleppo province. A no-fly zone, according to the Turkish proposal, would accompany the safe zone. Once the zone is declared safe and free of terrorist activity, refugee camps would be set up and Syrian migrants could live within their country's borders again.

What is a Geopolitical Diary?

The motives behind Turkey's plan are many and thickly layered. Most important, Turkey needs to avoid augmenting the burden migrants are placing on it at home while its economy is deteriorating. Second, Turkey is legitimately threatened by the Islamic State and wants to create as much distance as possible between its borders and those of the self-proclaimed caliphate. But the reasons don't stop there. Turkey can see that its southern neighbor will be fragmented for the foreseeable future. Ankara does not want to eradicate the Islamic State only to see Kurdish forces take its place. Rather, it wants to establish a physical foothold in northern Syria to ensure that the Kurds cannot create a viable autonomous state that could exacerbate Turkey's own Kurdish problem at home.

There is also a broader objective framing Turkey's strategy. A divided Syria undoubtedly creates risk, but it also presents an opportunity for Turkey to expand its sphere of influence in the Levant. This is the main driver behind Turkey's campaign to topple Syrian President Bashar al Assad's government and replace it with a Sunni Islamist-led administration that takes its cues from Ankara. After all, someone would have to provide security to make the zone in northern Syria "safe"; Turkish forces and civilian personnel presumably would take the lead in reinforcing such a corridor, potentially placing Turkish boots back on Arab soil.

Meanwhile, there is a murkier motive to consider. Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party will enter the Nov. 2 elections with a low chance of winning enough votes to regain its majority in parliament. The likelihood of the elections resulting in another hung parliament, coupled with Erdogan's reluctance to share power, raises the potential (albeit in an extreme scenario) for Turkey to use the premise of a military operation in Syria to stave off a third round of elections.

But Russia is botching Turkey's plans. Russia, Turkey and NATO are still arguing over whether two alleged Russian violations of Turkish airspace near the Syrian border were intentional (as Turkey and NATO claim) or accidental (as Russia insists they were). Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said Tuesday that Russia was ready to form a working group and that it would be pleased to host Turkish Defense Ministry officials in Moscow to avoid further misunderstandings in Syria. Ankara has no choice but to interpret Russia's actions as a signal that Moscow is willing to interfere in a Turkish-led safe zone if Ankara tries to push ahead with its plans.

Moscow's strategy has already begun to bear fruit. The European officials who met with Erdogan in Brussels listened politely to his ideas for a safe zone and promised to discuss the idea further. But no European power wants to risk getting mixed up with a brazen Russia on the Syrian battlefield. The Europeans would rather bargain with Erdogan on issues such as visa liberalization for Turkish citizens and Turkey's acceptance of more migrants on the Continent's behalf instead.

The United States has kept Turkey's safe zone plan at arm's length for similar reasons. However, Russia's military adventurism in Syria is accelerating U.S. plans for a rebel offensive that could still at least partially fit with Turkey's interests.

In the coming months, the United States will be focused on the areas east and west of the Euphrates River. To the east, the United States will ramp up its support for Kurdish forces and their allies in preparation for a move toward Raqqa against the Islamic State. Greater U.S. support for Kurdish forces will not please Turkish leaders, but the United States' simultaneous boost in aid for the rebels Turkey has been preparing to the west will. Here, the United States and Turkey will work together to try to carve out a border zone free of the Islamic State's presence. The Americans are avoiding the label of a safe zone to keep the operation from conflating with Turkey's more ambitious agenda. Nonetheless, the United States will be indirectly taking the first crucial steps toward Turkey's ultimate goals for northern Syria.

Of course, Turkey will still have to contend with Russia. Moscow will do whatever it can to play off the fears of the NATO alliance. If a buffer zone were established in Syria and if Turkey, a NATO member, tried to protect the airspace over the zone, who would shoot down the Russian air force in the event that it crossed into the zone? In Brussels, Erdogan reiterated that "an attack on Turkey means an attack on NATO." But if NATO proves too afraid of the consequences of responding to Russian interference, then NATO's credibility will have been dealt a major blow. And that is exactly the outcome the Russians are hoping for.
 
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« Reply #665 on: December 03, 2015, 05:51:27 AM »

The Escalating Cost of Obama's Foreign Policy Failures
Just Invoice the Next President
By Mark Alexander • December 2, 2015
     
"There is a rank due to the United States, among nations, which will be withheld, if not absolutely lost, by the reputation of weakness. If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known that we are at all times ready for war." —George Washington, 1793
 

Many reading these words are serving or have served our country in uniform, or have military or veteran family members. For many of us, the ever-inflating price of Barack Obama's costly foreign policy malfeasance will be paid with the blood and sweat of us or of those we love. Thus, his failures come with a much more visceral price than just rancorous armchair political debates.

While Obama intends to invoice the next administration with the political, economic and human cost of his failures, there are additional revelations this week affirming the political motivations for his failures*.

As anyone capable of evaluating the most rudimentary cause-and-effect outcome can deduce, the rise of the Islamic State is the direct result of Obama's politically motivated retreat from Iraq, the centerpiece of his 2012 re-election campaign. But his suspension of the Long War strategy to defeat radical Islamic terrorists is only temporary. Taking the fight back to our enemy's turf in order to keep it off of our own will be far more difficult now than it was when President George Bush launched Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

The consequences of Obama's policies will be devastating for years to come.

The legacy of Obama's failed policies, as implemented by his chief water-carrier Hillary Clinton, is the brutal humanitarian crisis now underway in Syria and across the Middle East. While he was fiddling a tune about al-Qa'ida's decimation and Islamist JV teams, even his CIA director, John Brennan, was issuing dire warnings about the metastasizing threat to the West.

According to Brennan, in 2008 al-Qa'ida "had maybe 700 or so adherents left.” But now, as American Enterprise Institute scholar and Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen notes, “y the CIA’s own estimate, ISIS has grown on President Obama’s watch from just 700 fighters to between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters. That is an increase of between 2,700 and 4,400%.”

Recall if you will the prophetic warning issued by George W. Bush in July of 2007: “To begin withdrawing from Iraq ... will be dangerous — for Iraq, for the region and for the United States. It will mean surrendering the future of Iraq to al-Qa'ida. It means that we would be risking mass killings on a horrific scale. It will mean we would allow terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they had in Afghanistan. It will mean that American troops will have to return at some later date to confront an enemy that is even more dangerous.”

This week, Obama announced that he intends to resolve our differences with this murderous Islamist army by implementing his utopian "climate change" agenda. As George Will put it, “Everything is said to confirm global warming, and global warming is now said to cause everything else. It is a theory which can no longer be refuted, which means it is no longer a scientific theory.” According to Obama, there is a correlation between a terrorism and a two-degree rise in the temperature over the last 200 years.

 

Shamefully — and yet predictably — Obama has ceded the lead role in the re-emerging "war on terror" to France and Russia. In the wake of the recent slaughter in Paris, a petulant Obama insisted, "I’m not interested in posing or pursuing some notion of American leadership or America winning."
The words of J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" protagonist, Aragorn, are instructive here: "Open war is upon you whether you would risk it or not."

Meanwhile, Obama continues to advance his Syrian immigrant plan even though, according to an Islamic-friendly organization, more than 13% of Syrian migrants support the Islamic State. Multiply .13 x 2,000,000 "refugees" and consider the national security implications for the West.

Make no mistake: The same sort of bloody mayhem we witnessed in Paris within hours of Obama's assertion that "we have contained” the Islamic threat is coming to a theater near you. Indeed, a timeline review of the frequency of Islamist attacks in the U.S. clearly shows a sharp increase beginning with Obama's first year in office.

Last year, then-House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) delivered this domestic terrorism threat assessment: "I’ve never seen it this bad in the 10 years I’ve been on the intelligence committee." Since then, our enemy has only become stronger — and more brazen.

After five military personnel were murdered by an Islamist in Tennessee six months ago, FBI Director James Comey testified, "The tools we are asked to use are increasingly ineffective. ISIL says, 'Go kill, go kill.' I cannot see [the FBI] stopping these indefinitely."

As Obama opens the gates for an Islamic Trojan Horse, Comey issued this disturbing assessment of our inability to recognize ISIL terrorists among Syrian immigrants: "f someone has never made a ripple in the pond in Syria in a way that would get their identity or their interest reflected in our database, we can query our database until the cows come home, but there will be nothing showing up because we have no record of them."
 

Recall also Director of National Intelligence James Clapper's grim assessment last year that the direct links between ISIL and domestic terror networks have created “the most diverse array of threats and challenges I’ve seen in my 50-plus years in the [intelligence] business.” He added, “When the final accounting is done, 2014 will have been the most lethal year for global terrorism in the 45 years such data has been compiled. ... I don’t know of a time that has been more beset by challenges and crises around the world. I worry a lot about the safety and security of this country. ... The homegrown violent extremists continue to pose the most likely threat to our homeland.”

Now there is evidence that, in addition to the Benghazi political cover-up, the Obama/Clinton team also suppressed critical intelligence retrieved from Osama bin Laden's compound about ties between Iran and al-Qa'ida. Apparently the administration determined that such information would be detrimental to Obama's signature "Iranian nuke deal." (Oh, did I mention that Iran never signed off on that agreement, meaning the inspection schedules are not legally binding?)

According to The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes, "From 2011 through 2013, top Obama administration and intelligence officials downplayed and discarded intelligence on al Qaeda and its activities. ... A top DIA official was told directly to stop producing reports based on documents collected during the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound. And when a member of the House Intelligence Committee sought to investigate these allegations of manipulation, he was misled repeatedly."

Would it surprise anyone to learn that the Obama administration put pressure on U.S. Central Command analysts to paint a rosier picture of the Islamic threat? More than 50 CENTCOM analysts issued formal complaints about the alteration of intelligence, and the DoD's inspector general has opened a full investigation. Indeed, as House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) confirmed, "Informants came to me in late 2012 stating that they had information related to the bin Laden raid and the analysis of intelligence," which was buried by the administration.

According to DoD's IG spokesperson Bridget Serchak, "The investigation will address whether there was any falsification, distortion, delay, suppression or improper modification of intelligence information."
 
When asked about that investigation, Obama declared with a straight face, "What I do know is my expectation, which is the highest fidelity to facts, data — the truth."

Obama's former Defense Intelligence Agency chief Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who held that post until August of 2014, said this week that intelligence reports were "disregarded" by Obama if they "did not meet a particular narrative that the White House needed” for Obama's re-election. "Intelligence starts and stops at the White House," notes Flynn. "The president sets the priorities and he's the number one customer."

Additionally, Lt. Gen. Flynn went public about Iran's support for terrorist attacks against American military personnel, and he asserts that Obama is in denial about the Islamic threat: "You cannot defeat an enemy you do not admit exists."

In congressional hearings this week, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joe Dunford, with the candor one would expect from a seasoned Marine, summarily dispensed with Obama's "containment of ISIL" claim: "We have not contained ISIL." He noted, "We’ve started to identify and implement a number of initiatives to move the campaign forward."

According to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, one of those initiatives will be deployment of a "specialized expeditionary targeting force" to Iraq — a.k.a., more "boots on the ground."

For the record, I've also identified "initiatives to move the campaign forward." Unfortunately, we can't implement them until January 2017, and only then if enough American voters wake up to the threat and make their voices heard at the ballot box.

If we don't rejoin the global war on terror, then get prepared for what Osama bin Laden labeled "American Hiroshima." Hamid Mir, the Pakistani journalist who obtained the only post-9/11 interviews with Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, surmised, “Al-Qa'ida and Iran have a long, secret relationship,” and their ultimate goal would be to detonate a series of portable nuclear devices in U.S. urban centers.

The combined threat of ISIL and Iranian nukes, if not neutralized, poses a far more catastrophic threat than that we witnessed on 9/11.

And speaking of ballot boxes, Non Compos Mentis: According to Hillary Clinton, "We're not putting America combat troops back into Syria or Iraq. We are not going to do that. ... I cannot conceive of any circumstances where I would agreed to [put combat troops on the ground]." So, two weeks after the attack in Paris, Clinton can't "conceive of any circumstances" for committing combat troops?

*We often refer to Obama's foreign policy as "failed," but the reality is that Obama is achieving his ulterior objective both foreign and domestic. That objective is socialist parity, and in terms of foreign policy, that means disabling our status as the world's lone superpower in order to allow other nations to fill that void. Foreign and domestic policy "failures"? Sadly, no. This president's policies are achieving precisely his intended objectives.

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« Reply #666 on: December 16, 2015, 01:15:45 AM »

Pasting this interesting article here from the Presidential 2016 thread.  It is a serious piece and I will want to give it a serious read, but off the top of my head one of it's key points, that Rubio supported Clinton-Obama's Libya policy is not the way this article presents it.  IIRC Rubio said that once Clinton-Obama committed American credibility then it was necessary to follow through which is not at all the same thing as saying he thought it a good idea to begin with.




http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/12/14/a-stark-choice-ted-cruzs-jacksonian-americanism-vs-marco-rubios-wilsonian-internationalism/

A Stark Choice: Ted Cruz’s Jacksonian Americanism vs. Marco Rubio’s Wilsonian Internationalism

by STEPHEN K. BANNON & ALEXANDER MARLOW14 Dec 20152,396
I. A Tale of Two Candidates

Here’s a question: During the recent Libya coup—that is, the Obama administration-orchestrated effort to topple Muammar Qaddafi from power in 2011—which prominent American made the following statement:

When an American president says the guy needs to go, you better make sure that it happens because your credibility and your stature in the world is on the line.

Was it a) Hillary Clinton? b) John Kerry? c) Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)2%
?

And the answer is, it was none of them. It was d) Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)79%
, quoted in The Weekly Standardon March 31, 2011. You know, the Senator from Florida. Yes, Rubio is a Republican, not normally thought of as a fan of Obama, but in this instance—and, as we shall see, in many other instances—he eagerly lined up behind Obama.

Lest there be any doubt as to Rubio’s Obamaphile views back in 2011, here’s how the Weekly Standard’s Stephen F. Hayes introduced the above-cited quote:

Senator Marco Rubio offered his full-throated support Wednesday for the U.S. intervention in Libya and called on President Barack Obama to be clear that regime change is the objective of America’s involvement.

Indeed, Rubio went further than just supporting Obama in this particular endeavor. He declared that it was vital that Obama succeed, so as to preserve “credibility”—that is, the credibility that Obama would need to launch future endeavors. As journalist Hayes, clearly a Rubio fan, explained four years ago,

In an interview yesterday afternoon, Rubio said that failing to remove Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, after Obama publicly called for him to go, would have grave consequences for America’s reputation in the region and in the world.

Although Obama, with the help of Rubio’s cheerleading, was successful in removing Qaddafi, as we know, the overall mission in Libya has not been so successful; the country has been in chaos ever since Qaddafi’s death. Indeed, it’s fair to say that the 2012 assassination of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi is the direct result of the Obama-Rubio intervention.

So why would Rubio be such a strong supporter of Obama on a key foreign-policy issue? That’s a good question, especially since Rubio is now running for president on a mostly anti-Obama platform.

So yes, by all means, let’s drill down on the question of how Rubio can support Obama so much on critical policy, even as he opposes him politically. We can ask: How does Rubio, in his own mind, make sense of that split?

The answer comes from a deep ideological current in American foreign policy, of which Rubio is a vital part. And this ideological current, as we shall see, elevates bipartisanship to near fetish-like status. Moreover, this current oftentimes seeks to subordinate, even ignore, America’s national interest—in favor, we might say, of abstract and arcane intellectual ideals. We will detail this ideology in Section II.

But first, another quote-quiz. Who said this, on December 5, about ISIS?

We will utterly destroy ISIS. We won’t weaken them. We won’t degrade them. We will utterly destroy them. We will carpet bomb them into oblivion. . . . We will do everything necessary so that every militant on the face of the earth will know if you go and join ISIS, if you wage jihad and declare war on America, you are signing your death warrant.

Who said that? Was it a) Donald Trump? Or b) the head of the Air Force’s Strategic Air Command? Or c) Bill O’Reilly, or some other tough-talker on Fox News?

Nope, it was d) Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)97%
, campaigning in Des Moines, Iowa.

Thus we can see the contrast: While Rubio was talking about supporting Obama on a complicated mission that seemed—and seems—dubious to most Americans, Cruz was saying something much simpler: Kill the bad guys.

Indeed, Cruz is quite capable of expressing himself in such blunt terms. Yet, as we know, he is no simpleton: Once a national-champion debater, he went to Princeton and Harvard, and law-clerked for the Chief Justice of the United States, William Rehnquist. So his simple words represent a great deal of complicated thought; he, too, can cite a distinct political tradition, which we will come to in Section III.

So yes, we can marvel at the difference between Rubio and Cruz, even as we note their similarities: Both are Cuban-American first-term senators from the Sunbelt, both are 44 years old, and both are smart men. Indeed, both are uniquely articulate advocates for their very divergent foreign-policy traditions.

Rubio, as we shall see in the next section, is a passionate and devoted exponent of the well-established foreign-policy school known as Wilsonianism, which traces its origins back to our 28th President, Woodrow Wilson, who served from 1913 to 1921.

And Cruz, as we shall see in the third section, is an equally passionate and devoted exponent of a much less well-known foreign-policy school, Jacksonianism, which can be linked to our 7th President, Andrew Jackson, who served from 1829 to 1837.

The differences between the two men, Rubio and Cruz, are important, and they deserve our close attention; they speak volumes about the difference in the way they would conduct foreign policy in the White House.

 

II The Wilsonian Tradition

When we say that Rubio is a Wilsonian, we are simply noting that he has chosen to identify himself with a tradition that emphasizes the high-minded but forceful application of American power around the world, often aimed at advancing democracy and human rights. Wilson was a Democrat and a progressive, but at the same time, he was nothing like, say, George McGovern; McGovern was virtually a pacifist. No, Wilson was not a dove at all—he was perfectly willing to use American military power to achieve his idealistic goals.

Yet Wilson, nevertheless, was an idealist. The son of a Presbyterian minister, he was a brilliant Ph.D. student, then a professor at Princeton, then president of Princeton University. And after a brief stopover as governor of New Jersey, he was elected president of the United States in 1912.

In the White House, Wilson set about improving the world. He launched a series of armed interventions in Latin America and the Caribbean; as he declared in 1913, “I am going to teach the South American republics to elect good men.” That turned out to be an impossible mission, but his supporters admired and revered him for his devotion to duty as he saw it—even as critics derided him as a messianic zealot.

Yet the signature aspect of Wilson’s presidency, and of Wilsonianism as we know it today, was a seeming twist on the use of American power: We should use force, but we should not cheer for it, nor wave the flag on its behalf. And that’s what distinguishes Wilsonianism from plain old patriotic nationalism; that’s what makes it so counter-intuitive to Americans. Indeed, this element of Wilsonian policy was, and is, deeply confusing to the average American. Nevertheless, for nearly a century now, leading American intellectuals have loved it—perhaps, in its disdain for traditional patriotic trappings, because it is so different from conventional thinking.

Indeed, we can observe that Wilsonianism, shorn of traditional patriotism, even during wartime, is deeply appealing to elites, here and around the world. That is, the class that is normally embarrassed by patriotic displays usually loves Wilsonianism—because it seems to be higher, more cerebral, more intellectual. Without a doubt, Wilsonianism has snob-appeal.

Yet the yawning gap between elite Wilsonianism and mass-appeal patriotism can make Wilsonianism problematic politically.

The ordinary American, for example, might think that it’s a good idea for the US to win its wars and that it’s an equally good idea to rally ‘round the flag in wartime. Yet Wilsonians tend to have a different view. Back in 1917, President Wilson offered this curious articulation of US war aims in World War One: Yes, America should fight against the Kaiser, and yes, the goal was a military triumph—but the ultimate goal, Wilson told Congress and the country, was “peace without victory.” In other words, American doughboys should fight and die in France, but they shouldn’t savor the patriotic and nationalistic pleasures of such victory.

Yes, you read that right: Wilson wanted to win, but he didn’t want Americans to feel triumphant. He felt that excessive nationalism here in the US would make it harder to build the post-war multilateral peace that he hoped to achieve with the League of Nations, the forerunner to the United Nations.

Wilson’s vision was noble, many thought. And the president himself was astonishingly articulate and erudite. Moreover, he was acutely conscious of doing the right thing, as he saw it. He once said, “Tell me what is right and I will fight for it.” But of course, most of the time, Wilson already knew what was right, or at least he thought he did. And that’s one more reason why his adherents love him: To this day, he epitomizes the I’d-rather-be-right-than-popular spirit that animates many intellectuals.

And so, in the minds of his brainy supporters, it didn’t really matter that the average American didn’t quite get Wilsonianism; indeed, public confusion about Wilsonianism was something of a badge of honor—that is, proof that the Wilsonians were a higher species than mere Americans and their “boorish” values and folkways.

And yet because Wilsonianism was so difficult for the masses to comprehend, it wasn’t particularly popular. As noted here at Breitbart, Wilson’s idealistic vision foundered on the rocks of reality; in the 1918 midterm elections, just days before the Allied victory in the Great War, the opposition Republicans won the Congress, turning out Wilson’s Democrats. And in 1919-20, the roof caved in on the Wilson administration and its grand plans for a new architecture of international organizations.

Yet even so, Wilsonianism has been a strong strain of foreign-policy thinking ever since; the elites seem perpetually entranced by the idea that they are leading America on some grand national mission, the full complexity of which only they can understand.

Nevertheless, even if the details of Wilsonianism are hard to understand, the broad outlines of the doctrine easily lend themselves to sweeping statement. President John F. Kennedy, for example, was an unabashed fan of his predecessor; his 1961 Inaugural address was ringingly Wilsonian, as when he famously declared,

We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

Kennedy’s warmed-over Wilsonianism quickly ran into difficulty in Vietnam, but even so, everybody knows JFK’s famous speech.

Meanwhile, over the last half-century, old-style Wilsonianism has easily blended with a newer dogma, “neoconservatism.”

The neoconservatives, too, are eager to use military force around the world, and they, too, tend to express their policy objectives in non-nationalistic terms. To the neocons, the key issue isn’t that America should win, it’s that America should be right.

And so it is right, for example, that America should advance democracy and freedom around the world. Yet, as we have seen, this emphasis on changing the hearts and minds of foreigners—that is, getting them to embrace democracy and freedom—is far more difficult than merely winning a war. If the goal is simply to kill the other guy, the US military can do that. But if the goal is to transform the thinking of the other guy, well, that’s not what they teach at West Point.

Yet once again, the neoconservatives tend to see American power in abstract terms that oftentimes skip over practical difficulties, including the matter of costs. And interestingly, not all neoconservatives are, in fact, conservative.

For example, in 1996, Bill Clinton’s future Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, challenged then-General Colin Powell to answer her question about the looming commitment of US ground troops, simply for the purpose of helping to liberate Muslims in Kosovo and the Balkans. “What’s the point of having this superb military you’re always talking about,” she asked Powell, “if we can’t use it?” In his memoir, Powell wrote that when he heard Albright’s words, he feared that he was going to have an “aneurysm”; “American GIs,” he added, “are not toy soldiers to be moved around on some global game board.”

Yes, Powell, who served two combat tours in Vietnam, had strong feelings about civilians who would over-use US troops in willy-nilly missions. In his mind, the only valid reason for using the US military was to protect the national interest—and he did not see the US national interest at risk in the former Yugoslavia. But Albright and her boss, President Bill Clinton, saw things differently; to them, helping the Muslims in Southern Europe was a wonderful idea.

Interestingly, back then, in the mid-90s, Albright and Clinton had the strong support of many prominent neoconservatives, including Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)36%
, the editorial writers at The Wall Street Journal, and William Kristol, publisher of The Weekly Standard—the publication that would later admiringly extoll Marco Rubio.

Again, thinking back to the Clinton administration’s Balkan intervention, we are reminded that Wilsonian neoconservatism typically transcends party, as well as patriotism. That is, Wilsonian goals—starting with saving the world—are seen as larger than any mere parochial concern.

So Bill Clinton, the former McGovernite, who actively avoided the draft during the Vietnam era, sprouted into a Wilsonian as president; one could even say he was sort of a neoconservative. In fact, one of the strengths of Wilsonian neoconservatism is that it has a left wing, as well as a right wing. So Bill Clinton was a left-wing neocon, and his successor in the White House, George W. Bush, was a right-wing neocon.

And of course, Bush, who fused his right-wing Wilsonianism with Christian zeal, was infinitely more energetic and ambitious for his ideas than Clinton had been.

Indeed, after 9/11, Bush seemed to think he had a God-given chance to remake the world. And so, as a savvy politician, he was willing to play somewhat to nationalist passions in the wake of the attacks on America; yet ultimately, his Wilsonianism got the best of him. And as a result, he himself chose to communicate in the abstract language of Wilsonianism, fortified with his own born-again Christian theology.

So, on September 17, 2001, Bush assured Americans that “Islam is peace.” Those words must have been confusing to ordinary Americans, who knew that, just six days earlier, Islamic radicals had killed 3,000 of their fellow citizens.

So as a result, as was the case with Wilson nearly a century before, Bush was perfectly willing to send Americans to fight and die for fuzzy abstractions. We might note, in contrast, that during World War Two, Admiral Halsey had told his warriors in the Pacific, “Kill Japs, kill Japs, kill more Japs”; those were not politically correct words, but they encouraged our fighting men to kill, and thus defeat, the enemy. On the other hand, Bush was making the mission in Iraq and Afghanistan much harder: The mission was never just to kill the enemy; instead, it was to win the enemy over to our way of thinking.

As Bush said in his second inaugural address in 2005, it wasn’t enough for America militarily to defeat the terrorists; instead, we had to bring the terrorists, or at least their societies, around to our point of view. As the re-elected president said:

The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

In other words, Bush was setting a high, even impossible, standard. Our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan couldn’t just kill bad guys; instead, they had to fight to expand freedom. So US warriors, trained in the art of kinetic warfare, had, instead, to become warriors for polemic ideology. We can recall that neoconservative intellectuals, well versed in the fine points of argumentation, adored Bush’s message—although the average American still simply scratched his or her head.

Indeed, at the time, back in 2005, Peggy Noonan spoke for many when she published an opinion piece, bluntly titled, “Way Too Much God.” If Noonan, a devout Catholic and one of the more visible champions of religion in the public square, thought that Bush had gotten carried away—well, she undoubtedly spoke for most Americans. Here’s how she put it:

The administration’s approach to history is at odds with what has been described by a communications adviser to the president as the “reality-based community.” A dumb phrase, but not a dumb thought: He meant that the administration sees history as dynamic and changeable, not static and impervious to redirection or improvement. That is the Bush administration way, and it happens to be realistic: History is dynamic and changeable, not static and impervious to redirection or improvement. . . . On the other hand, some things are constant, such as human imperfection, injustice, misery and bad government. This world is not heaven.

No, the world is not heaven. And in fact, it’s heresy to think that this world can be made perfect. But Bush, suffering from what Noonan called “mission inebriation”—her play on “mission creep”—had lost his once-sound perspective.

Thus the American people felt they had no choice but to restrain Bush’s remake-the-world impulses at the ballot box. And so in the 2006 midterm elections, voters put the Democrats back in charge of the House and Senate, and in 2008, they gave the Democrats another big victory in Congress, as well as dramatically awarding the White House to Barack Obama. With the benefit of hindsight, we might say that the voters made a mistake with Obama, but at the time, in their defense, Obama was an unknown, and Bush—and his anointed would-be successor, John McCain—were all too well known.

So George W. Bush’s right-wing Wilsonianism, or neoconservatism—like Woodrow Wilson’s left-wing Wilsonianism nine decades earlier—was soundly rejected at the polls.

Yet, as Obama has proven to be such a huge failure, we can observe that Bush 43 has made something of a comeback. Indeed, in contrast to the foreign-policy mess that we have now, even Bush’s neocon Wilsonianism has started to look pretty good.

In fact, given that the neocons, as a group, are not only highly academically credentialed, but also wealthy, we can see why an ambitious fellow such as Rubio would seek to come climbing onto their bandwagon.

So Rubio might think that he has chosen well. In embracing Wilsonian neoconservatism, he instantly found his speeches lauded by neocon pundits, and his campaign coffers filled by neocon donors—so what’s not to like?

As a result, Rubio was soon positioned as the Great Neocon Hope for the next presidential election. On October 6, 2014, National Review’s Eliana Johnson published an important piece, entitled, “The Neocons Return: Meet their 2016 candidate, Marco Rubio.” And there, big as life, was a picture of Rubio. As Johnson wrote,

Since his election four years ago, the first-term senator has consistently articulated a robust internationalist position closest to that of George W. Bush.

She added:

Rubio’s views are strikingly similar to those that guided George W. Bush as he began navigating the post-9/11 world.

So of course, Rubio supported Obama and Hillary on Libya and Syria. Wilson, too, as well as Bush 43, would have done no less.

Yet we can observe that one of the problems of Wilsonianism/neoconservatism is that in its ideological enthusiasm for remaking the world, it tends to be oblivious to such “small” issues as homeland security and border security. That is, in the minds of the Wilsonians, we should think macro, not micro. Up there in the Olympian heights, the best and the brightest should think about solving the world’s problems, not just tending to America’s little garden.

So yes, in the big-thinking minds of the Wilsonians, traditional American nationalism must yield to high-brow internationalism. After all, the thought-process seems to be, how can one let oneself get lost in the weeds of mere national self-interest, when the fate of the world is at stake?

Thus we come to a vital tool in the Wilsonian “arsenal”: immigration.

To the Wilsonian neocons, immigration to the US is indeed crucial. That is, if the issue is saving the world—and it always is—then part of the save-the-world plan means accommodating, and welcoming, refugee flows.

Yes, refugees from Somalia, Syria, anywhere—they all must come here, so that the US can “show leadership.” That is, we must take immigrants by the thousands, even millions, as a way of pointing other countries, as well, to the virtuous path. And in this way, the Wilsonian thinking goes, America will save the world.

Thus it should come as no surprise that National Review’s Johnson reports that one of Rubio’s mentors is former Bush 43 national-security adviser Stephen Hadley. In the White House, Hadley was a champion of open borders, and just recently, he signed a letter with 19 other foreign policy savants, from both parties, calling for the US to take in Syrian refugees.

Hadley and his fellow Wilsonians seem unable to come to grips with the nagging reality that Uncle Sam does a relentlessly poor job at “vetting.” As The New York Times reported on Saturday, Tafsheen Malik, one-half of the San Bernardino shooting couple, was open about her Islamic zealotry on social media. Yet even so, she passed no fewer than three “background checks.” Most likely, Hadley & Co. don’t really care about background checks: Yes, there will be some tragedies inflicted on Americans as a result of mass immigration, but the internationalist foreign-policy experts see a “greater good” that transcends mere Americans and their petty preoccupation with not getting shot.

In addition, the Wilsonians, always seeking to advance their doctrine of remaking the world, tend to have another troublesome blind spot: To them, concerns over national character and identity are just so much benighted “oldthink.”

That is, as a matter of ideology, the neoconservatives just can’t bring themselves to acknowledge that one culture is different from another culture, and thus, maybe, they shouldn’t be blended together suddenly, as happens with a huge refugee influx. Indeed, that happens to be common sense to traditional conservatives, but to the neoconservatives, well, such thinking is not allowed.

Here we might pause to note that such “post-nationalist” thinking is one reason why the Wilsonian neoconservatives tend to retain substantial support from the political left; as noted, there are left-neocons, as well as right-neocons.

Many progressives, in other words, admire the Wilsonians for their willingness to forsake the normal trappings of conservatism, such as national security and national sovereignty. In the minds of liberals, if the Wilsonians are willing to abandon patriotism and the the preservation of national identity, then they can’t be all bad.

And that’s a further reason why open borders is such a key element of neoconservative thinking: It unites the parties.

We might recall that George W. Bush was a champion of “comprehensive immigration reform,” aka, “amnesty.” Today, leading neocons, including McCain and his senatorial colleague, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)38%
 of South Carolina, are staunch supporters not only of expanded refugee programs, but also of “comprehensive immigration reform,” aka, “amnesty.”

And that’s why critics have summed up neocon policy as, “Invade the world/ Invite the world.”

But of course, the neocons would never let a low variable such as public opinion get in the way of their grand plan.

And so, in keeping with state-of-the-art Wilsonian thinking, back in 2013, Marco Rubio was a strong supporter of the “Gang of Eight” immigration reform, alongside such prominent Democrats as Sen. Chuck Schumer.

And although Rubio has supposedly backed off from the idea over the last two years, asBreitbart’s Julia Hahn has noted, the Florida Senator continues to push Gang of Eight talking points. Indeed, it’s perfectly fair to say that, were he to be elected president, he would resume the push for “comprehensive immigration reform,” aka, “amnesty.”

Indeed, Rubio has never stopped seeking to advance Wilsonian causes. Here, for example, is Rubio looking for new places to give away foreign aid money, in a speech to the liberal Brookings Institution on April 25, 2012:

In every region of the world, we should always search for ways to use U.S. aid and humanitarian assistance to strengthen our influence, the effectiveness of our leadership, and the service of our interests and ideals.

And just two months later, in June 2012, Rubio expressed his strong support for Obama’s Syria policy, which was indeed a half-hearted attempt to replicate the Libya coup. In his favorite publication, The Wall Street Journal, under the bold headline, “Assad’s Fall Is In America’s Interests,” Rubio wrote,

Empowering and supporting Syria’s opposition today will give us our best chance of influencing it tomorrow, to ensure that revenge killings are rare in a post-Assad Syria and that a new government follows a moderate foreign policy.

Of course, some have said that the Wilsonians are now biting off more than they can chew. One observer here at Breitbart has noted that the Wilsonians don’t seem disciplined when it comes to limiting American commitments. In other words, is it really possible that the US, with about 21 percent of the world’s economic output, and with less than five percent of the world’s population, can really do it all? The Breitbart author mocked the left-Wilsonians of the Obama administration for their attempted five-way containment:

So there we have it: the Quintuple Containment: The US seeking to contain Russia, China, Iran, terror, and the equally dreaded threat of climate change.

We might note that the right-Wilsonians of the Republican Party are more limited in their ambitions; they mostly disdain “climate change.” So for them, America need undertake only a quadruple containment, albeit with more military force applied to each of the remaining four objectives.

And yet we would do well to remember that Wilsonians of both stripes, right and left, put a huge premium on bipartisanship—so who can say for sure that Republican neocons, after all, wouldn’t yet be sucked into a deal on that fifth “threat,” namely “climate change”?

Again, we must remember that bipartisanship is a siren song to Wilsonians. That’s one reason why, for example, Sen. Joe Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, was such a hero to Republicans. Toward the end of his career, Lieberman was really a “DINO”—Democrat In Name Only—yet even so, Wilsonian neocon Republicans, hungering always for bipartisan cred, continued to trumpet Lieberman as a D.

Thus, because bipartisanship is so important to the neoconservatives, one can never say that Republican Wilsonians wouldn’t be interested, after all, in a “climate change” deal if they thought it would bring in Democratic support on other policy objectives. And by the same token, Democratic Wilsonians, who are totally obsessed with “climate change,” might find themselves supporting wars they wouldn’t otherwise support—if it could mean “building bridges” with Republican Wilsonians on stopping CO2.

Indeed, such bridge-building was the subtext of a remarkable joint opinion piece in the December 9 Politico, co-signed by Danielle Pletka, a neoconservative at the American Enterprise Institute, and Brian Katulis, a liberal at the Center for American Progress. In the piece, Pletka and Katulis, good Wilsonians both, lamented the “worrisome bipartisan crisis of U.S. leadership in the world.” And so the two, one on the left, one on the right, proposed to fix that policy gap, with a plan for collaborative action, starting with the US taking in more—many more—refugees. As Pletka and Katulis wrote, in words that must be cheering to the next Tafsheen Malik who wishes to come here and kill Americans,

Calls to close America’s doors to refugees risk undermining who we are as a nation. Instead of slipping into fearful isolationism, Republicans and Democrats should dedicate their efforts to enhancing the background checks on refugees fleeing conflict. This is eminently doable, and there is ample room for the Obama administration to negotiate a reliable system with Congressional leaders. At minimum, we should strive to achieve the Obama administration’s target goal of admitting 10,000 refugees from Syria in the next fiscal year.

And then, Pletka and Katulis added the usual ringing Wilsonian rhetoric:

Why do it? Because we are the richest and freest country in the world. If we lack the moral fortitude to dedicate resources to screen and admit those fleeing the horror of war, we cannot ask other countries to do the same.

That’s Wilsonianism for you: The national interest must come in second to the international interest. And out of that fusion, left and right, it’s not hard to see that the left-Wilsonians could talk the right-Wilsonians into a deal on “climate change.” And so both kinds of Wilsonians would be pulling in the same harness, leading America to oppose all the world’s bad guys and solve all the world’s problems.

 

III. The Jacksonian Tradition

But of course, not everyone in America is a Wilsonian. There are other traditions, too, in US foreign policy. Two other traditions are Jeffersonian and Hamiltonianism. We can look quickly at both:

The Jeffersonian tradition, of course, is named after Thomas Jefferson, our Third President. It is, in a word, liberal: George McGovern, whom we met earlier, qualifies as a Jeffersonian. To be sure, an historical purist might say that the real Jefferson, in the White House, wasn’t so liberal; after all, he started West Point, defeated the Barbary Pirates, and doubled the size of the US with the Louisiana Purchase. And yet even so, his writings—mostly from the period before he became president—have deeply inspired liberals, libertarians, and other peaceniks. Today, one might be tempted to think of Obama as being in this category, although it would seem, perhaps, that he is too quick to order drone strikes to be a true Jeffersonian. So we might count Obama as a diffident and uncertain Wilsonian; he might seem hesitant and incompetent, although in the end, he is perfectly willing to kill to achieve his policy ends.

As for the Hamiltonian tradition, it comes to us from Alexander Hamilton, our first treasury secretary. The Hamiltonians were, and are, commerce-minded. So when President Coolidge said, “The business of America is business,” that was a great statement of the Hamiltonian credo. A Hamiltonian today, for example, would be strongly in favor of lower taxes, and would also would likely support the Ex-Im Bank. Yet even as Hamiltonianism enjoys a revival on, of all places, Broadway, it’s easy for critics to make fun of “money-grubbing” Hamiltonians. And so while Hamiltonianism has arguably been the default position of the United States throughout its history, it is usually submerged behind one of the other two traditions, Wilsonianism and Jeffersonianism.

So having identified three traditions—Wilsonianism, Jeffersonianism, and Hamiltonianism—we can now espy a fourth, Jacksonianism. If the first category, Wilsonianism, seems best to describe Marco Rubio, it’s this fourth category, Jacksonianism, that seems best to describe Ted Cruz.

So what is Jacksonianism? Although the impulse goes back centuries, the name itself traces only to 1999, when political scientist Walter Russell Mead laid it out in a 13,000-word article in The National Interest. Mead, at the time a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, outlined this fourth tradition, “a warrior tradition,” in honor of Andrew Jackson, our Seventh President, who served in the White House from 1829 to 1837.

Jackson was Scots-Irish, a people whom Mead accurately described as “hardy and warlike,” toughened by life on the frontier. Thus we might say that Jacksonianism is all about ferocity in war.

Just as Jackson himself gained personal power in the early 19th century, so did his “ism,” because, frankly, Jacksonianism is useful in winning wars. And we have had lots of wars that we had to win.

To illustrate the Jacksonian approach to war-fighting, Mead recalled a moment in World War Two in which US armed forces inflicted staggering civilian casualties on Japan—and this was before the A-bomb. As Mead notes, “In the last five months of World War II, American bombing raids claimed the lives of more than 900,000 Japanese civilians.” He zeroes in on one particular date:

On one night, that of March 9-10, 1945, 234 Superfortresses dropped 1,167 tons of incendiary bombs over downtown Tokyo; 83,793 Japanese bodies were found in the charred remains—a number greater than the 80,942 combat fatalities that the United States sustained in the Korean and Vietnam Wars combined.

We can look back and ask: Were we too tough on the Japanese? And that’s a question that Jeffersonians, or Hamiltonians, or even Wilsonians, might ask—but not the Jacksonians. The Jacksonians weren’t the least bit apologetic; in their tough martial worldview, the Japanese needed killin’, and that was all there was to it. Our 34th President, Harry Truman, of Independence, Mo., the man who dropped the A-bomb on Japan, was a Jacksonian. And so it might not be a surprise that Truman was once the Presiding Judge (the equivalent of county executive) of Jackson County, Mo.—which was named, of course, after Andrew Jackson.

In his essay, Mead was moved to observe that this militarily tough tradition simply could not be ignored:

The American war record should make us think. An observer who thinks of American foreign policy only in terms of the commercial realism of the Hamiltonians, the crusading moralism of Wilsonian transcendentalists, and the supple pacifism of the principled but slippery Jeffersonians would be at a loss to account for American ruthlessness at war.

Indeed, surveying Andrew Jackson’s war record, we can see that he left a large impression in US history. Old Hickory, as he was called, was famously brave, famously effective, and famously ferocious—beating Indians and the British, both. His victory at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815 was the greatest American victory in The War of 1812. And a century-and-a-half later, it was still being celebrated; in 1958, the country & western singer Johnny Horton released a Top-40 pop song about the battle.

So yes, even though Jackson, unlike Wilson, was neither a scholar nor a speechmaker, he nevertheless created a tradition. As Mead noted,

Once wars begin, a significant element of American public opinion supports waging them at the highest possible level of intensity. The devastating tactics of the wars against the Indians, General Sherman’s campaign of 1864-65, and the unprecedented aerial bombardments of World War II were all broadly popular in the United States. During both the Korean and Vietnam Wars, presidents came under intense pressure, not only from military leaders but also from public opinion, to hit the enemy with all available force in all available places.

And yet still, if the Jacksonian tradition is less known, well, there’s a reason for that—the Jacksonians aren’t writers:

A principal explanation of why Jacksonian politics are so poorly understood is that Jacksonianism is less an intellectual or political movement than an expression of the social, cultural and religious values of a large portion of the American public. And it is doubly obscure because it happens to be rooted in one of the portions of the public least represented in the media and the professoriat. Jacksonian America is a folk community with a strong sense of common values and common destiny; though periodically led by intellectually brilliant men—like Andrew Jackson himself—it is neither an ideology nor a self-conscious movement with a clear historical direction or political table of organization.

So Mead, himself from South Carolina, which was also Jackson’s home state, took it upon himself to identify the key elements of the “Jacksonian Code”: These were, honor, self-reliance, and military meritocracy. As Mead put it, Jacksonians enjoy “a love affair with weapons.” And oh yes, he concludes, “Finally, courage is the crowning and indispensable part of the Code.”

So we can see, clearly, that Jacksonianism is a good deal different from Wilsonianism; to quote Mead again:

Jacksonian patriotism is not a doctrine but an emotion, like love of one’s family. The nation is an extension of the family. Members of the American folk are bound together by history, culture and a common morality.

In other words, Jacksonianism, based on the ties that bind kith and kin, is light-years away from the austere abstractions of Wilsonianism.

Needless to say, the Jacksonian spirit is big in in places such as Houston—which happens to be Ted Cruz’s hometown.

So let’s talk more about Cruz. Yes, Cruz is an Ivy Leaguer—he went to Princeton, in fact, the same as Wilson—but then, not every Ivy Leaguer comes away with Ivy League values; we might note that Mead went to Yale, and yet he freely volunteers in his National Interest essay that he is a fan of the Jacksonians. Why? Because, as he says, it’s better to win wars than lose them. And Jacksonians, in their single-minded focus on killing the enemy, are good at winning.

And Cruz, too, has that same keep-it-simple spirit. Whereas the Wilsonians are all about trying to master the nuances of the Middle East—never mind that they have never come close to doing so—the Jacksonians see things in starker, and sharper, terms. As Cruz says of Syria,

Instead of getting in the middle of a civil war in Syria, where we don’t have a dog in the fight, our focus should be on killing ISIS.

Yes, when Cruz argues for killing ISIS, he is talking like a Jacksonian.

Let others worry about democracy and human rights and all that jazz; Cruz’s view is, if they need to killed, then they need to be killed. Otherwise, let’s not worry about them.

Indeed, Cruz doesn’t seem the least bit interested in bringing “democracy” to such benighted countries as Iraq or Syria. The Texan is obviously passionate about constitutional democracy for Americans, and for others who yearn for it, but unlike, say, Bush 43, he doesn’t seek to impose “democracy” on hostile peoples at gunpoint.

 

IV The Wilsonian vs. Jacksonian Tradition in 2016

So we can see the gap between Rubio and the Wilsonians, and Cruz and the Jacksonians. On the one side, Rubio is channeling neoconservatism; on the other side, Cruz is channeling Jacksonian Americanism.

To look at the matter more deeply, we might even say that the Wilsonian neoconservatives have a stubborn belief in the perfectibility of man, whereas, by contrast, the Jacksonians have the more orthodox Christian view: We live in a fallen world, and, as the philosophers say, out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.

Of course, other factors, too, are likely at play. For example, Marco Rubio’s campaign seems to be extraordinarily well-funded; he won the endorsement, for instance, of Paul Singer, the New York City-based billionaire who combines support for gay marriage, open borders, and Israel into one juicy check-writing package.

To be sure, Rubio is free to seek out support wherever he can, but others are equally free to criticize; in October, Donald Trump tweeted out a jeering reference to Rubio’s relationship to another one of the Republican Party’s biggest donors:

Sheldon Adelson is looking to give big dollars to Rubio because he feels he can mold him into his perfect little puppet. I agree!

Of course, Rubio also has his ardent supporters. The Wall Street Journal editorial page, for example, is solidly in his corner. Yes, that page has made quite an ideological odyssey over the last few decades; in the 70s and 80s, when many believe it was at the height of its influence, the Journal edit page was virtually single-minded in its support for supply-side economics. Yet more recently, while still supporting free markets, it has become preoccupied with neoconservative foreign policy—which is great news for a neocon such as Rubio. Yet others have noticed this shift as well, and so the Journal’s impact has been diminished. As Cruz himself said recently, the Journal should change its name to “The Marco Rubio for President Newspaper.”

In fact, even outside of the Journal, the split between Rubio and Cruz has become evident. Under the headline, “Marco Rubio Gets Benghazi’d By Ted Cruz,” TalkingPointsMemo quoted Cruz as saying, “Senator Rubio emphatically supported Hillary Clinton in toppling [Muammar] Qaddafi in Libya. I think that made no sense.” Cruz added, “The terrorist attack that occurred in Benghazi was a direct result of that massive foreign policy blunder.”

Moreover, Cruz opened up on the Wilsonian neocons:

If you look at President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and for that matter some of the more aggressive Washington neocons, they have consistently mis-perceived the threat of radical Islamic terrorism and have advocated military adventurism that has had the effect of benefiting radical Islamic terrorists.

As the late Sen. Strom Thurmond liked to say, that puts the hay down where the horse can get it.

Yet Cruz had more to say on the topic. As the Texan told Breitbart’s Matthew Boyle on December 11:

On foreign policy, Sen. Rubio’s foreign policy judgments have been consistently wrong. When Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton made the decision to intervene in Libya, to topple Qaddafi, Sen. Rubio chose once again to stand with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. … And the result of that was that Libya was handed over to radical Islamic terrorists and is now a chaotic war zone of battling Islamists. And that is much, much worse for U.S. national security. The tragedy at Benghazi, four Americans murdered including the first American ambassador to be killed in the line of duty since the 1970s under Jimmy Carter, the tragedy of Benghazi was the direct result of the failed foreign policy in Libya that was championed by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and supported by Marco Rubio.

To be sure, Rubio has his responses to Cruz, but the plain fact remains: Rubio supported Obama and Clinton on Libya. Moreover, Rubio supported Obama and Clinton on Syria, too. That’s what Wilsonians do: They support whoever is in charge, regardless of party, if the issue is the use of force to “do good” overseas.

And so, for example, we can fully expect that left-Wilsonians—for example, Brian Katulis, whom we cited earlier, in league with the right-Wilsonian Danielle Pletka—would happily support a President Rubio on some new round of foreign-policy adventurism. And as we already know, Katulis-type Democrats stand ready to support a President Rubio in the cause of opening up America’s border to new immigrants—including, one supposes, the next Tafsheen Malik.

So as we have seen, Rubio’s invade-the-world-invite-the-world ideology is perfectly consistent with the Wilsonian tradition.

What remains to be seen, however, is whether or not the Republican Party, which is increasingly enamored of Trump-Cruz-type Jacksonian Americanism, is interested in seeing the elite Wilsonian internationalists regain power—so that they can continue their mission of saving the world.
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« Reply #667 on: December 16, 2015, 01:34:13 PM »

Very informative, historical piece - up to a point.  A few observations:
1) The world is VERY different now than in Wilson's or Jackson's time.  Someone living on the Tigris or Euphrates probably couldn't hurt us here, from there, back then.
2) An aside:  Wilson was a TERRIBLE President for this country for other reasons, setting foreign policy aside.
3) We don't actually know how these candidates would govern by listening to their campaign positioning.    I don't find Cruz' talk realistic, carpet bomb but not go further in ISIS land?  And with Rubio in Libya for example, he might not have given the go-ahead after talking to his top generals.   And he favored taking it to congress, which Hillary and Obama did not.  That would also have changed the course of it. The view from the CinC chair is different than from the Senate or the sidelines.  Reagan was considered trigger happy in the campaign and governed arguably the opposite, although he did boldly took us into Grenada to rescue ccp!
4)  The differences between these two aren't that big. POnly at the margin do they seem to lean in the direction indicated.
5)  The stronger we project strength with defense budgets, fleet restoration, nuclear triad, missile defense and real commitments made from the White House, the less we have to use them.  See Reagan again, or the Teddy Roosevelt big stick.  It is our Nobel prize winning, wavering apologist who escalated the violence with his politically motivated, ill-conceived withdrawal.  It was Bill Clinton's expensing of the 'peace dividend' he inherited that was the governing climate while OBL planned 9/11.
6)  This is admittedly a hit piece on Rubio.  Those two wars in baseball were runners he left on base.  Rubio's view is not the same as George W, BHO or HRC.  Drawing those parallels shines a limited amount of light on a Rubio administration IMHO.
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« Reply #668 on: December 17, 2015, 10:30:41 AM »

http://sofrep.com/45248/former-green-beret-muslims-not-enemy/#.VnIYkwYY1Ss.facebook
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« Reply #669 on: December 18, 2015, 09:22:54 PM »


Ah, that explains why every muslim country is such a nice place to live.
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« Reply #670 on: December 18, 2015, 09:45:21 PM »

Agree or disagree, the man has earned his right to an opinion.
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« Reply #671 on: December 18, 2015, 10:37:49 PM »

"although he did boldly took us into Grenada to rescue ccp!"

Well it was really something to see supersonic jets missile over one end of island to the other end and disappear over the horizon in no more than a few seconds or another F16 (?) fly overhead and give us the back and forth wing tilt while we were waving from our little hillside.

At the same time however came the bombing of the barracks in Lebanon that saw many marines perish.  One ex military tried to tell me he was there and when I asked how he survived he said he was "outside taking a leak".
While it sounds like quite a story I find out later he *may* be a teller of tales though it is possible.

But Reagan knew when to pull out and not dig a deeper hole.

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« Reply #672 on: December 18, 2015, 10:47:59 PM »

As for the Navy Seal's opine in CD's post above I must suggest  I have never ever heard anyone of repute say ALL Muslims are terrorists.  So where does that come from?  Like Santorum said not all Muslims are Jihadists but all Jihadists are Muslim.  For Gods sake we all know that so where do these people come from to remind us this when pushing the left's agenda?

And yes the seal *fights* alongside some Muslims who have become his friends just as I *work* alongside many Muslims in healthcare who have become my friends (without fear of having my throat cut).   So what does that prove?

He and they, ain't there fighting Jews or Christians or Buddhists, or Hindus.

They are fighting Muslims.
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« Reply #673 on: December 18, 2015, 11:48:32 PM »

Forgive the nit, but a Green Beret, not a SEAL.

Anyway, yes he overstates, but in so doing perhaps he is a reflection.  Is the part of what he says that is true present in all of our posts?
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« Reply #674 on: December 19, 2015, 06:48:53 AM »

"Forgive the nit, but a Green Beret, not a SEAL."

No problem.  Not all special forces are alike just like all Muslims are not alike.


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« Reply #675 on: December 22, 2015, 11:59:03 AM »


How to crush ISIS
By Ralph PetersDecember 20, 2015 | 8:49pm

Why ISIS is still winning
An American president with no military experience, little grasp of history and an outdated mental map of the Middle East.

Obama today? Yes, but potentially a Republican next year.

Ideology isn’t a strategy, and sound bites don’t win wars. The Islamic State caliphate (ISIS) and its rivals can be annihilated, but only if we have a clear objective, a realistic assessment of the means needed to achieve it and — above all — a president with the vision, courage and fortitude to lead.

What will it take? Here are the requirements for a serious military effort (only a military approach will stop ISIS):

Congress must declare war.

Congress needs to face up to its constitutional responsibilities with a declaration of war against “the Islamic State, al Qaeda, their affiliates and imitators and their supporters, wherever they are found.” War is no longer restricted to state-on-state violence, nor should its conduct depend on a president’s whimsy.

Define the mission.

The goal should be the uncompromising destruction of violent jihadi organizations. It shouldn’t include the reconstruction of artificial borders imposed on the Middle East by long-dead Europeans. Don’t cling to doomed governments.

Say less, do more and keep secrets.

Don’t announce operations or troop deployments for domestic political advantage. In the jihadi World Series, our team has to show up unexpectedly. Crack down on Pentagon leaks.

Stop pretending that war can be waged gently.

Kill the enemy. Accept that there will be civilian casualties and collateral damage. Get the lawyers out of the targeting process and off the battlefield. Rules of engagement should empower our troops, not shield our enemies.

The morbid “humanitarianism” of the left ignores the proven principle that winning fast spares lives. As a result of our reluctance to fight promptly, powerfully and ruthlessly, there are now 300,000 dead in Syria, untold numbers dead in Iraq and rising body counts elsewhere, with millions of refugees. And because our enemies know that we don’t strike populated areas, they base themselves in crowded neighborhoods, guaranteeing more civilian deaths.

Concentrate on effects, not numbers.

Our obsession with troop numbers is political, not practical. In a global war against Islamist fanatics, the troop strength required for missions will fluctuate. A vital operation in one country might require a few dozen special operators for one night, while an operation in another might demand 30,000 troops for three months. Anyway, the resolve with which force is applied is far more important than numbers.

Accomplish the mission and leave.

No nation-building. No occupations-by-another-name. Go in, do the job, get out. If you have to go back and do the job again later on, that’s still cheaper in blood and treasure than hanging around. What are called for are old-fashioned punitive expeditions, not nation-building where there are no nations. Surprise them; slaughter them; leave.

Conventional forces must think unconventionally.

Our forces must become more agile and operate under more-austere conditions. More bullets, fewer bases, no Baskin-Robbins. Mobility, speed and firepower are crucial. Think cavalry, not constabulary; saddle bags, not shipping containers.

Hyperexpensive weapons can be the enemy within.

At present, we’ll use a million-dollar precision-guided munition to take out two low-level terrorists at a checkpoint. As a result, we’ve drained our arsenal. While this is good news for the defense industry, it exposes the fallacy of a weapons-procurement process that assumes a short, decisive war against a compliant enemy.

Don’t make fun of the Russians for using cheap bombs on easy targets. We should be doing it, too. And inexpensive, old-fashioned napalm would be poetic justice for apocalyptic jihadis who burn captives to death.

Choose allies for their utility, not from habit.

In the broken territories formerly known as Syria and Iraq, we need to support those whose interests converge with ours, while cutting our losses where our largesse only helps other enemies. That means tacitly backing a Kurdish state; accepting a new Sunni-Arab (but non-Islamist-extremist) state straddling the old border; and cutting all support for the Iranian-dominated Baghdad government President Obama’s incompetence facilitated.

From Libya to Afghanistan and Pakistan, we must not let ill-drawn lines on old maps tyrannize our foreign policy.

Presidential support of our military.

This is the most important factor of all. Our troops and their leaders need to know that their commander-in-chief won’t betray them based on spurious claims from the media or anti-war activist groups; that he won’t lose his courage and resolve when things get ugly; and that he’ll be our military’s advocate, not its adversary.

Of course, there are myriad practical details to be addressed, from basing rights and overflight issues to the conflicting goals of third parties, such as Iran or Russia. Even in lean operations, logistics rule. And our military must relearn how to fight and win, escaping the thrall of political correctness.

We can defeat ISIS, but first we have to stop defeating ourselves.



Ralph Peters is a retired US Army officer and the author, most recently, of “Valley of the Shadow.”
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« Reply #676 on: December 25, 2015, 12:07:50 PM »

Trump has, in his usual inimitable and inchoate way, raised the possibility of a US-Russia alliance of convenience.

IMHO the notion is not completely devoid of its logic but presents some devilish problems in its details , , ,

Discuss?
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« Reply #677 on: January 10, 2016, 10:55:45 AM »

Trump has, in his usual inimitable and inchoate way, raised the possibility of a US-Russia alliance of convenience.
IMHO the notion is not completely devoid of its logic but presents some devilish problems in its details , , ,
Discuss?

Iran is now (allegedly) returning Uranium to Russia.  Even if that were true, someone please explain how that makes us safer.
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« Reply #678 on: January 10, 2016, 11:04:27 AM »

Political leaders must consider whether big ships, small fleet strategy will protect U.S. given new security threats.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/01/06/us-navy-fleet-ship-size-aircraft-carriers-pournelle-column/78238004/
http://www.usni.org/magazines/proceedings/2015-07/deadly-future-littoral-sea-control

Or would people rather ponder Ted Cruz's mother's birth certificate and DT's tariffs this direction changing, national security election.
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« Reply #679 on: January 16, 2016, 11:56:21 AM »

Deep implications here.  Let us ponder this well.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/europes-new-medieval-map-1452875514
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« Reply #680 on: January 16, 2016, 12:06:27 PM »

Deep implications here.  Let us ponder this well.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/europes-new-medieval-map-1452875514

No. Let it burn. Time to pull our troops out and let Europe sink or swim.
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« Reply #681 on: January 16, 2016, 12:09:12 PM »

Which of our presidential candidates thinks similarly to you in this regard?
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« Reply #682 on: January 16, 2016, 12:12:02 PM »

Which of our presidential candidates thinks similarly to you in this regard?


No idea. It's a simple slogan, so it might pop up in Trump's stream of consciousness ramblings that pass for policy statements.
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« Reply #683 on: January 27, 2016, 12:26:48 PM »


What Has and Has Not Changed Since the Arab Spring
Geopolitical Diary
January 26, 2016 | 03:34 GMT Text Size
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(Stratfor)

January tends to be an introspective month for the Arab world as the region reflects on the anniversaries of the 2011 Arab Spring, debating what has changed and, perhaps more important, what has not. Five years ago, public protests looked like they would not just change the face of many modern Arab states but fundamentally redefine the politics of the region.

And in some places they did, for better or worse. In countries such as Libya, Syria and Yemen, where popular protests attracted thousands, the Arab Spring left in its wake civil wars that continue to this day and could well endure as proxy battles for competing interests for some time to come. But the countries in which the protests actually began — Egypt and Tunisia — were untouched by the same level of violence that befell their neighbors in the region. Their stability is owed partly to the resilience of governments that only appeared to adopt democratic reform. Still, there are indications that these old and deeply entrenched governments will continue to face challenges to their power.

It does not take deep analysis to show how little actually changed within the power structures of Egypt and Tunisia. True, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali resigned his post as the president of Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak did the same in Egypt. That they did so attests to how powerful the protests against them were. But current Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi was part of Ben Ali's administration, and current Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi was a trusted general in his country's powerful military council under Mubarak. Many current ministers and lawmakers in both countries hold similar jobs to the ones they held five years ago.

Part of the reason they were so successful in maintaining power was their willingness to bend — but not break — in the face of the demands of a post-Arab Spring environment. And now, the biggest threat to both governments is external security crises that threaten internal stability. Libyan unrest — rife with militias, factions of al Qaeda and the Islamic State — as well as power vacuums in Sinai, the Sahel, the Algerian mountains, and distant Iraq and Syria have led to attacks on Tunisian and Egyptian soil and have lured young Tunisians and Egyptians to the fight. Containing jihadist threats, which increasingly target important Tunisian and Egyptian tourism sites and security installations, is an important priority for Tunis and Cairo. Egypt has reinforced its security capabilities better than Tunisia has, partly because Tunisian security forces feel underpaid.

The issue of inadequate payment points to economic problems that will shake the foundations of both governments in different ways. Both countries have high youth unemployment rates, as well as rising costs of living. More than 60 percent of young graduates in Tunisia are unable to find work, and youth unemployment hovers at around 30 percent, even as overall unemployment has declined by 3 percent since 2011. In Egypt, youth unemployment is just over 40 percent.

Tunisian protests over the weekend took shape around the same urban centers that kicked off the Arab Spring in 2011, and cries for jobs echo the demands, word for word, made five years ago. Even police officers marched peacefully to the presidential palace in Carthage today, demanding a raise in pay, flanked by the presidential guard in solidarity. Amid these protests, Tunisia's leaders have asked for patience as they remind their constituents that security threats like the Islamic State could become worse if they do not curb unrest.

Just as important to how Egypt and Tunisia manage their economic issues is how they manage their political opposition parties. To maintain legitimacy among outspoken and politically galvanized citizens, Cairo and Tunis worked with opposition parties and Islamists in ways that were unthinkable — and illegal — before the Arab Spring. In Tunisia, the Islamist Ennahda party must work closely with the ruling Nidaa Tounes party if it is to achieve anything at all, something made clear by a closed-door agreement that helped both parties maintain their pre-eminence in Tunisia's volatile political environment. This deal may have compelled some stalwart Nidaa Tounes lawmakers to break from their party to form smaller coalitions recently, but it has also safeguarded Tunisia's political institutions — at least for now. These nascent coalitions could well undermine the relationship between Ennahda and Nidaa Tounes in the future.

The relationship between the Egyptian political establishment and its Islamist opposition, of course, fared much worse. The military council stood by as popular protests pushed out Mubarak as well as his son Gamal, whose ideas on economic reforms directly threatened its interests. It allowed Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi to take the blame for the country's economic and security crises, positioning itself as the saving grace for a large segment of the Egyptian elite unnerved by an Islamist presidency. The military leaders then sidelined the Muslim Brotherhood using the very same techniques it used under Mubarak. And yet Islamist political sentiment remains, and countries with a vested interest in Egyptian stability, including the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia, are concerned that for all its steadiness, Egypt is not quite as unshakable as it may appear.

Egyptian stability is of particular interest to Saudi Arabia, which has given Cairo loans, grants and energy provisions — in other words, the resources it needs to pacify its citizens. Saudi Arabia has traditionally regarded Islamist parties as threats to its own legitimacy, but Riyadh now realizes it must moderate its stance for the sake of greater regional security, since desired Sunni allies such as Turkey hold Islamist parties in high regard.

And for Egypt, today was an important test of the government's ability to maintain order — a test it appears to have passed, with minimal violence thanks to weeks of arrests leading up to today's commemoration of the Jan. 25 revolution. Perhaps with this milestone behind them, Egyptian leaders can relax on some issues, such as death sentences for certain Muslim Brotherhood members, that present obstacles to Egypt's warming ties with other Sunni states.
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« Reply #684 on: January 27, 2016, 01:08:25 PM »

 

Opinions

Why is Israel so cautious on the Islamic State? A recent war game explains why.
David Ignatius

Let’s say Islamic State fighters attack an Israeli military patrol along the Syrian border. They try unsuccessfully to kidnap an Israeli soldier, and they kill four others. A Jordanian border post is hit, too, and the Islamic State proclaims it has control of Daraa province in southern Syria.

How do Israel and other key players respond? In a war game played here last week, they retaliated, but cautiously. The players representing Israel and Jordan wanted to avoid a pitched battle against the terrorists — they looked to the United States for leadership.

This simulation exercise was run by Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) as part of its annual conference. The outcome illustrated the paradoxical reality of the conflict against the Islamic State: Israel and Jordan act with caution and restraint, hoping to avoid being drawn deeper into the chaotic Syrian war, even as the United States escalates its involvement.

"We all believe that keeping Israel out of the conflict is important," said Brig. Gen. Assaf Orion, a retired officer who served as head of the Israel Defense Forces' planning staff. He led the Israeli team in the simulation. In the war game, Israel retaliated for the killing of its soldiers but avoided major military operations.

Jordan, too, wanted to avoid escalation. The players representing Jordan didn’t want to send their own troops into Syria. They worried about refugees and terrorist sleeper cells inside Jordan. They hoped that the combined military power of Russia and the Syrian regime could suppress the conflict and evict the Islamic State from its foothold in southern Syria. They looked for U.S. leadership but weren’t sure it was dependable.

Which left the United States. Gen. John Allen, the retired Marine who until recently coordinated the US-led coalition's strategy against the Islamic State, played the American hand. The United States viewed Israeli and Jordanian security as a vital national interest, he said, and would send its warplanes to retaliate for any attacks on its allies. U.S. military involvement, in the simulation and in reality, is increasing — partly by default of others.

If you don't like this simulated version of the war, you may like real life even less. There’s growing consensus that the Islamic State poses a severe threat to regional and even international order; one senior former Israeli official described the conflict with the caliphate as "World War III." But most players still want to hold America’s coat while the United States does the bulk of the fighting.

A visit to Israeli military headquarters here confirmed that the war game was an accurate reflection of how Israeli military leaders see the conflict. Rather than attacking Islamic State forces along its northern and eastern borders, Israel pursues a policy of deterrence, containment and even quiet liaison, said a senior Israeli military official. He noted that if Israel wanted to mount an all-out ground attack on Islamic State forces in southern Syria and the Sinai Peninsula, it could wipe them out in three or four hours. "But what would happen the day after?" asked this Israeli military official. "Right now, we think it will be worse. So we try to deter them."

The Israelis don’t want to disturb a hornet's nest in taking on the Islamic State. Is a similarly measured option available to the United States? Most Israeli officials say no. They argue that the United States is a superpower, and that if it wants to maintain leadership in the region, it must lead the fight to roll back the Islamic State.

The theme of the INSS conference was that the rules of the game are changing in the Middle East. States are fragmenting; a self-proclaimed caliphate has taken deep roots in Syria and Iraq and now has a presence in many more countries around the world; a rising, still-revolutionary Iran is using proxy forces to destabilize nearly every Arab state; the old order embodied by the secular dynasties of the Mubaraks, Assads and Gaddafis is shattered.

Israelis disagree among themselves about nearly every political topic, but on the strategic picture, there is basic agreement: As the state system splinters in the Middle East, the instability in this region will be chronic, and it will persist for many years. Escaping this conflict will be impossible. So think carefully how you want to fight a war in what the senior Israeli military official called "the center of a centrifuge."
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« Reply #685 on: January 27, 2016, 01:16:59 PM »

"They looked to the United States for leadership."

Sorry, that country has been fundamentally changed and no longer provides such things.
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« Reply #686 on: January 27, 2016, 11:29:58 PM »

 By Daniel Henninger
Jan. 27, 2016 7:00 p.m. ET

Some wonder how history will treat Barack Obama’s presidency. That depends on who writes the histories.

Secretary of State John Kerry’s account will fist-pump the Iran nuclear deal as the central foreign-policy event of the Obama presidency, a triumph for Western diplomacy.

But news photographs in recent weeks are producing a different history. These photos document the abject humiliation of the West by Iran. Americans who plan to vote in their presidential election should look hard at these photos, because the West’s direction after this will turn on the decisions they make.

The first photo is of a hallway in Rome’s Capitoline Museums, a repository of art dating to Western antiquity. Out of what the government of Italy called “respect” for the sensibilities of visiting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, the museum placed large white boxes over several nude sculptures, including a Venus created in the second century B.C.

Then, because Mr. Rouhani will not attend a meal that serves alcohol to anyone, the nominally Italian government of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi declined to serve wine.

They did so for the same reason that beggars grub change in front of Rome’s churches. Freed by the Obama nuclear deal with Iran, Italy’s tin-cup businesses signed about a dozen deals with Mr. Rouhani this week, totaling $18 billion.
Members of the U.S. Navy recently detained by Iran before being released, in an image from Iran’s state-run media. ENLARGE
Members of the U.S. Navy recently detained by Iran before being released, in an image from Iran’s state-run media. Photo: Associated Press

The bowing and scraping to Mr. Rouhani continues this week as France and Germany sign more deals. This is not economic re-normalization. Rather than reform its weak, politically unstable economies, Europe is content to make itself a dependency of the aborning Iranian empire.

The second photo of Western submission depicts what appears to be a glee-filled meeting between the president of Iran and the leader of the world’s Catholics, Pope Francis, who gave Mr. Rouhani 40 minutes of his time.

The Vatican argues this is realpolitik by a pope trying to protect Christians in the Middle East by inducing Iran to play an “important role” in the peace process.

Set aside the “role” Iran has played in the death of a quarter-million Syrians and the refugees now destabilizing Europe. One still may ask: Why such public and jolly photo-ops with this person?

The U.S. State Department’s religious-freedom report says in 2014 Iran executed at least 24 individuals for the crime of moharebeh (enmity against God). And surely that understates the total killed.

The persecuted in Iran include Bahais, Sunni Muslims, Christians (notably evangelicals), Jews, Yarsanis and even Shia groups.

Mr. Rouhani is grinning in this photo because he knows these people can’t move Iran’s culture out of the 16th century.

The third photograph is of 10 sailors from the U.S. Navy who are kneeling in rows, hands on their heads, on the deck of an Iranian boat.

The Obama administration hasn’t provided an explanation for how this “deviation” and capture by Iran in the Persian Gulf happened.

Instead of outrage over Iran’s treatment of the sailors, Sec. Kerry praised the Iranians’ “cooperation and quick response.”

Cooperation? Iran humiliated the sailors by making them kneel in the style of an Islamic State execution ceremony and then humiliated the U.S. by releasing that photo.

Meeting in a congratulatory ceremony with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps members who took the sailors, Iranian supremo Ayatollah Khamenei said, “This event should be considered God’s work.”

One is tempted to tip one’s hat to the Khamenei-Rouhani strategy team. Iran took the West’s measure with its nuclear brinkmanship and the West bent.

Some may say the Italians are the Italians, the pope has his reasons, and Barack Obama and John Kerry are just finishing their apology tour. But that understates the long series of political compromises and cultural surrenders that have brought the U.S. and Europe to this point.

Italy’s repudiation of its own heritage to accommodate Iran’s president is a significant symbolic event. The Capitoline’s Venus isn’t just a naked lady carved out of marble. Just as the naked man and woman in Masaccio’s “Expulsion from the Garden of Eden,” painted in 1423 at the dawn of the Renaissance, are hardly figure studies.

In her recently published book arguing a relationship between the Western artistic legacy and democratic evolution, “David’s Sling,” Victoria Gardner Coates says these works “are not isolated aesthetic objects; part of their value as historical evidence derives from their role in the public life of the communities that produced them.”

Unless that public life is forgotten. Western schools may no longer teach the Battle of Thermopylae, but one may assume Hassan Rouhani knows the details of Persia’s historic loss to brave Greece in 480 B.C. as if it were yesterday.

Putting a white box over a Venus to placate a Rouhani is a loss in the Persians’ return trip to the West.
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ccp
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« Reply #687 on: January 28, 2016, 07:12:30 AM »

*****He noted that if Israel wanted to mount an all-out ground attack on Islamic State forces in southern Syria and the Sinai Peninsula, it could wipe them out in three or four hours. "But what would happen the day after?" asked this Israeli military official. "Right now, we think it will be worse. So we try to deter them."*****

Amazing how these guys with some WW2 type of military equipment can cancel out all the military technology of the West.  Can wipe them out in Southern Syria and Sinai in a couple of hours but because of uncertainty about what is next - do nothing.   

****The Israelis don’t want to disturb a hornet's nest in taking on the Islamic State. Is a similarly measured option available to the United States? Most Israeli officials say no. They argue that the United States is a superpower, and that if it wants to maintain leadership in the region, it must lead the fight to roll back the Islamic State.****

So what is the US going to do to roll back the Islamic State that would not disturb the "hornet's nest".

Amazing how guerrilla warfare brings us to our needs.  We are the most powerful military power in world history and yet we aren't.   We still cower because of fear of collateral damage, fear of bad press, fear of reprisals, and worry about what may happen next.  We may as well be the Jamaican military.  Then at least no one would expect anything.  Better then expectations that never deliver.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #688 on: February 12, 2016, 08:04:45 PM »

If you believed America's longest war, in Afghanistan, was coming to an end, be advised: It is not.


Departing U.S. commander Gen. John Campbell says there will need to be U.S. boots on the ground "for years to come." Making good on President Obama's commitment to remove all U.S. forces by next January, said Campbell, "would put the whole mission at risk."

"Afghanistan has not achieved an enduring level of security and stability that justifies a reduction of our support. ... 2016 could be no better and possibly worse than 2015."

Translation: A U.S. withdrawal would risk a Taliban takeover with Kabul becoming the new Saigon and our Afghan friends massacred.

Fifteen years in, and we are stuck.

Nor is America about to end the next longest war in its history: Iraq. Defense Secretary Ash Carter plans to send units of the 101st Airborne back to Iraq to join the 4,000 Americans now fighting there,

"ISIS is a cancer," says Carter. After we cut out the "parent tumor" in Mosul and Raqqa, we will go after the smaller tumors across the Islamic world.

When can Mosul be retaken? "Certainly not this year," says the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart.

Vladimir Putin's plunge into the Syrian civil war with air power appears to have turned the tide in favor of Bashar Assad.


The "moderate" rebels are being driven out of Aleppo and tens of thousands of refugees are streaming toward the Turkish border.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is said to be enraged with the U.S. for collaborating with Syrian Kurds against ISIS and with Obama's failure to follow through on his dictate -- "Assad must go!"

There is thus no end in sight to the U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, nor to the U.S.-backed Saudi war in Yemen, where ISIS and al-Qaida have re-arisen in the chaos.

Indeed, the West is mulling over military intervention in Libya to crush ISIS there and halt the refugee flood into Europe.

Yet, despite America's being tied down in wars from the Maghreb to Afghanistan, not one of these wars were among the three greatest threats identified last summer by Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

"Russia presents the greatest threat to our national security" said Dunford, "If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I would have to point to Russia ... if you look at their behavior, it's nothing short of alarming."

Dunford agreed with John McCain that we ought to provide anti-tank weapons and artillery to Ukraine, for, without it, "they're not going to be able to protect themselves against Russian aggression."

But what would we do if Putin responded by sending Russian troops to occupy Mariupol and build a land bridge to Crimea? Send U.S. troops to retake Mariupol? Are we really ready to fight Russia?

The new forces NATO is moving into the Baltic suggests we are.

Undeniably, disputes have arisen between Russia, and Ukraine and Georgia which seceded in 1991, over territory. But, also undeniably, many Russians in the 14 nations that seceded, including the Baltic states, never wanted to leave and wish to rejoin Mother Russia.

How do these tribal and territorial conflicts in the far east of Europe so threaten us that U.S. generals are declaring that "Russia presents the greatest threat to our national security"?

Asked to name other threats to the United States, Gen. Dunford listed them in this order: China, North Korea, ISIS.

But while Beijing is involved in disputes with Hanoi over the Paracels, with the Philippines over the Spratlys, with Japan over the Senkakus -- almost all of these being uninhabited rocks and reefs -- how does China threaten the United States?

America is creeping ever closer to war with the other two great nuclear powers because we have made their quarrels our quarrels, though at issue are tracts and bits of land of no vital interest to us.

North Korea, which just tested another atomic device and long-range missile, is indeed a threat to us.

But why are U.S. forces still up the DMZ, 62 years after the Korean War? Is South Korea, with an economy 40 times that of the North and twice the population, incapable of defending itself?

Apparently slipping in the rankings as a threat to the United States is that runaway favorite of recent years, Iran.

Last fall, though, Sen. Ted Cruz reassured us that "the single biggest national security threat facing America right now is the threat of a nuclear Iran."

"Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded," wrote James Madison, "No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."

Perhaps Madison was wrong.

Otherwise, with no end to war on America's horizon, the prospect of this free republic enduring is, well, doubtful. 
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