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Much has been written, including in this blog, of the threat to America posed by radical Islamic terrorism. Not so much has been written abo...

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Ted Mack! Calling Ted Mack! Please Pick up Your Royalty Check at the Rose Garden!

Well, our "leader," the "leader" of the now not-so Free World, the Commander-in-Chief of the Air, Naval, and Land Forces of the United States of America finally made an appearance. The man who loves to talk; loves being on TV hour after hour; who masters the teleprompter like no other being on Gaia's warming surface finally ended his reclusion to talk about the war he wants to start. He, at long last, came out from behind the Kerry mask, and "made his case for war!"

With rousing rhetoric evoking the goose-bump inducing eloquence of Henry V's St. Crispin's Day speech, as he strapped on his armor, and rose upon his mount, he belted out,
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.
Ok, Ok, that was the imaginary president, my "composite" president. The one the low-info voters elected--along with the double voters in Ohio and elsewhere--the real President, insofar as one can use the word "real" when talking about Obama, made a bungled, jumbled, rambling statement of, well, words, yes, words--no thinking, just empty words.

The presumed Assad gas attack,
presents a serious danger to our national security. It risks making a mockery of the global prohibition on the use of chemical weapons. It endangers our friends and our partners along Syria’s borders, including Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq. It could lead to escalating use of chemical weapons, or their proliferation to terrorist groups who would do our people harm. 
In a world with many dangers, this menace must be confronted. 
Now, after careful deliberation, I have decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets. This would not be an open-ended intervention. We would not put boots on the ground. Instead, our action would be designed to be limited in duration and scope. But I’m confident we can hold the Assad regime accountable for their use of chemical weapons, deter this kind of behavior, and degrade their capacity to carry it out.
Why does the death by gas of over 1000 Syrians present "a serious danger to our national security?" The death of some 100,000 Syrians before that didn't seem to pose a threat, how is this different?  Well, because it threatens "our friends and partners." I see. None of those threatened--Israel is a special case--seems willing to join us in punishing Assad. How does Assad's putative use of chemical weapons "lead to an escalating use of chemical weapons?" By whom? Israel, Turkey, Cyprus? "Proliferation to terrorist groups?" Presumably Assad has had these weapons for years, why would he now use them, AND give them to terrorist groups? Which terrorist groups? Why hasn't he done that before? Now, before anybody goes ballistic here, I can think of some answers to these questions, but why doesn't the President provide them?

OK, we are going to take "military action against Syrian regime targets. . . . This would not be an open-ended intervention . . . [no] boots on the ground . . . limited in duration and scope." I see. So we have just told Assad that the whole thing won't be too bad, not too long, and might come after Congress debates it. So Assad is just going to sit there? I will bet anything those chem weapon labs are being emptied and scattered around the countryside, and air defenses are being strengthened.

If you are going to do a limited, "warning shot across the bow" sort of operation you do it in the middle of the night, no warning. The "warning" comes the next day, when you tell the miscreant, that the attack was the warning and is just a taste of what is to come. Will it work? Maybe. It didn't work when Clinton launched his 23 cruise missiles against some empty Iraqi government buildings. It did work, for a bit, when Reagan hit Qaddafi after the Berlin disco bombing.

More important, if this crisis gets complicated, who trusts Obama and Kerry to be resolute leaders? Nobody. Is there any doubt that Obama would cut and run?

This is rank amateurism.  Obama has no idea what to do, so he punts. He has kicked the ball to Congress, hasn't called them back to the game, just told them you guys debate it, and let me know. Oh, and, of course, this is more important than defunding Obamacare, investigating Benghazi, looking into the IRS or Fast and Furious. No hurry. We can leave our ships out there for months if need be. Joe, let's head for the links!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Syria and Thoughts on Things We are Decreed to Hate

Don't get angry with me over this post. Don't start citing international law to counter my thoughts. I am just thinking out loud, engaging in a bit of modern blogger angst of the existentialist sort, "analysis of individual existence in an unfathomable universe and the plight of the individual who must assume ultimate responsibility for acts of free will without any certain knowledge of what is right or wrong or good or bad."

I watched what I could stand of SecState John "Xmas in Cambodia" Kerry's presentation of "evidence" on Assad's use of chemical weapons. I kept thinking, "Where is the President? Why is some appointed flunkey doing this?" On Bengahzi, the SecState disappeared and left the heavy lifting and big lying to Hackmistress Susan "YouTube did it" Rice. On Syria, Obama disappears and leaves the heavy lifting and, well, is Kerry lying? I don't know. Could the AQ-allied rebels have used or misused gas weapons in Syria? Yes, of course, well, maybe, oh, who knows? Could the President of Syria have used chemical weapons on the people of Syria? Sure, why not, I guess. Saddam certainly did it in 1988. Have others used gas weapons? They were widely used in the First World War, and Mussolini used mustard gas in Ethiopia. There were lots of ultimately unproven allegations of Soviet use of gas in Afghanistan. I know. I used to run around the Pak-Afghan border interviewing "survivors" of these gas attacks, but never became fully convinced that the story was not just anti-Soviet propaganda. Kerry's presentation, likewise, had lots of assertions but was remarkably content free.

Gas. It provokes a revulsion among most people. We, for example, no longer use the gas chamber for executions to dispatch murderers on their journey to their maker, or, at least, to His rival below. Instead we use a cocktail of drugs in a lethal injection, something I find even more repellant than gas given the elaborate quasi-medical procedure that surrounds that cocktail's use . . . but, back to history and international politics. Despite the temptation, the US did not use gas against well-entrenched Japanese troops in the Pacific, even when gas likely could have saved many American lives. FDR did not want to be known as the President who used gas--he, of course, was developing an atomic bomb, but, more on that later. There are all sorts of international treaties, conventions, protocols, and such banning the use of chemical (and biological) weapons.

We didn't use gas in WWII either in the European or the Pacific theaters. No. Instead we used atomic bombs to obliterate two Japanese cities. I think the decision to use those bombs was the right one, as I have stated before. Those bombs saved millions of lives and shortened the war considerably. No sooner had we used these two "miracle" weapons, but that we were repulsed by them and spent the next seventy years bad mouthing them, trying to design bureaucratic and legal structures to make sure they got never used again, while simultaneously building a huge arsenal of them and molding our national security strategy around them. We, of course, also never felt the same repulsion over the conventional bombing of Japan and Germany which killed many more people than those two A-bombs. We never used nukes again, even when we fought two major wars in Asia, i.e., Korea and Vietnam, where their use or threatened use probably would have assured victory and saved lots of American lives. Instead, we bombed and napalmed. I guess death by daisy cutters or flaming gelled gasoline is less of a death than one by gas or nukes. We, likewise, have some amazing thermobaric weapons which do a real number on personnel in enclosed structures. Those deaths, too, I guess, are lesser deaths compared to the ones caused by gas. I leave that debate to the philosophers and lawyers who enjoy arguing whether a tree falling makes noise if nobody is around to hear it.

Back to Syria and gas weapons. For the sake of argument assume Assad used them; for the further sake of argument, and this is a stretch, assume the Obama misadministration knows and is telling the truth. Does use of gas in Syria, resulting in some 1400 dead, present a danger to US national interests? Is it more of a danger than the death of 1400 Syrians, say, by an intense bombing campaign? What if those people, including the 400 or so children, had been killed when a building collapsed on them after an artillery round crashed into the structure? Would Kerry be there filling in for the President trying to make a case for war on behalf of a group of jihadi organizations? Are these 1400 deaths more important than the alleged 100,000 that have preceded them in Syria?

Back to gas: Is there evidence that these weapons will be used against the US or an ally, e.g., Turkey, Israel, or even another country, e.g., Cyprus? Saddam killed thousands with gas, as well as with more conventional weapons, posed a continuos threat to his neighbors, provoked a massive war with Iran, openly abetted terrorism, and according to all the intel organizations of the world, sought a nuclear weapons' capability. He was an avowed enemy, yet Senator Kerry and many of the Democrats now baying for war just couldn't see the reason to attack.

Now, of course, things are different. The liberals are in charge, and they know what's best. The liberals are doing what they always do. They drive their agenda with emotion, with emotion-laden words, e.g., gas, racism, poverty. As I will write elsewhere, they do that because it's easy; it's easy to be a liberal. Throw out some words and reality is expected to conform to them. The word "gas" is supposed to make us stop thinking, and stop asking our "leaders" to explain the US interest in attacking Syria in what seems will be a half-baked manner that will do nothing except make Obama and Kerry look macho and appear as guardians of humanity.

We have been Pavlovian conditioned to respond to "gas."

Just wondering about it all.

WLA

Thursday, August 29, 2013

From Cowboy to Mau-Mau Diplomacy

What are we doing?

What exactly or even approximately are we doing on Syria?

The news gets weirder and weirder. The latest is that the UK is out, out of . .  . what exactly were we doing? Oh, yes, something "limited and brief" with no intention of provoking regime change. We, according to no less a military expert than our Commander-in-Chief, seek to
"take limited tailored approaches, not getting drawn into a long conflict — not a repetition of Iraq, which I know a lot of people are worried about — but if we are saying, in a clear and decisive, but very limited way we send a shot across the bow, saying, ‘stop doing this,’ that can have a positive impact on our national security over the long term and may have a positive impact in the sense that chemical weapons are not used again on innocent civilians.”
Uh, what? He's certainly not repeating Iraq where President Bush had a Congressional OK, an impressive international coalition, and a military punch that Saddam would not be able to withstand. Obama is warning Assad that we are going to send a shot across the bow, but in a limited way, sorry, in a very limited way, to say "stop doing this." I see. That's going to impress Assad, that pencil-necked swine friend of Nancy Pelosi's? Wow! He must be sweating bullets . . . or, more likely, busting a gut laughing his behind off at the guy who leads from behind, or follows from the front, or whatever it is he does, besides play golf and give historically illiterate speeches.

I have written before how the Democrats have a tradition of mishandling US interests, emphasis added,
Democrats prefer and advocate for U.S. intervention, including messy, bloody, military intervention, in places where there is little or, preferably, no US national interest at stake, e.g., Vietnam, Libya, ex-Yugoslavia. Find a place where there are US interests at risk--e.g., Panama, Central America, Iran, Cuba--they go into pacifist-anti-imperialist-defender-of-the-peoples-of-the-Third-World mode. Also curiously, as we saw most spectacularly in Vietnam, once the US does go in, they quickly begin to doubt the wisdom of the move, and even turn against the US intervention. They know that once we do intervene, even if it was in a place of no or limited importance before, the act of intervening creates US national interests, e.g., the need to show that the US cannot be defeated, that we mean what we say, etc. Once such interests are created, the liberals, "summer soldiers" if there ever were, become very critical of the intervention, and actively work to sabotage the US effort.
Obama and his merry band of morons--kindest word I could generate--decided to be tough on Syria. Better said, to be what they see as passing as tough, you know, two years of desultory debate to draw red lines for US intervention, allowing the jihadi loons to take over the anti-Assad resistance, then announcing, sort of, that the red line, i.e., use of chemical weapons, had been crossed, and that, therefore, we would do something undefined that would be brief and limited, and serve as a "shot across the bow." Now, PM Cameron, Obama's competitor for Dopey Leader of the Year, couldn't get his Parliament to go along with, well, uh, with whatever it is that is to be done somehow.

Now, guess what? If we don't act, but in something more than just a brief and limited shot across the bow, we have lost. That's the way the world works. If you announce or imply that you are going to do something, you damn well better do it, especially when the Iranians are threatening you. If you don't do it, the Iranians win. Remember Bin Ladin's comment about people going with "the strong horse"? You don't want the Iranians to be that horse, not if you're a real President of the United States--but now I really have crossed into Fantasy Land from Bizarro World.

Let's not forget, that all this nonsense has real world implications. Not just in a policy sense, but in a more human sense. People, our people, could die; I don't care about Assad's people or the AQ creeps on the other side. What reason do we give grieving parents, brothers, sisters, children to explain why their loved ones died in Syria? A shot across the bow to stop "mistreating" Al Qaeda fanatics, the same people we "drone" nearly every day in many places around the world?

I am beyond appalled and  disgusted. This misadministration is criminally inept.

WLA

Liberals, Words, Misery, and Death

Some years ago, more than I care to recount, I served at the US Mission to the UN. Years later, again, more than I care to count or admit, I served at the US Mission to the OAS. Much of the work involved fighting over obscure resolutions and parsing words, trying to wring every possible definition and interpretation out of words. For some observers this exercise seemed silly, as obscure as some Talmudic scholars arguing over the meaning of a forgotten phrase in the Bible. It was certainly easy to ridicule; I, however, soon discovered that this was far from silly or "just academic" posturing. Words have meaning, and the left is very good at ever so subtly altering the meaning of words so that over time those words no longer mean what they meant. Words, of course, are the bullets of intellectual debate. If you allow your opponent to select your ammo for you, well, let's just say you are at a disadvantage.

I have thought a lot about this these last few days, as I watch our anti-war, Nobel Peace Prize President lead us into another bizarre adventure in not quite war, maybe "a pre-announced shot across the bow," I have no idea what we think we're doing in Syria (a post on that to follow). We apparently are going to put our people's lives and our nation's credibility (what's left of it) at risk for an unknown objective.

I also listened to some of the speeches at the recent event at the Lincoln Memorial allegedly commemorating Martin Luther King's awe-inspiring "I Have a Dream" speech--one of the great speeches in the English language. The words being used are bizarre with no appreciation for their original meaning. The degradation of the language, as Orwell rightly saw in 1984, is essential for regulating thought. That degradation is now on display. One example suffices: speaker after speaker at the Lincoln Memorial told us how racist America remains fifty years after MLK's speech and march. We learned that black lives are considered less valuable than white lives; that, in essence, there is little hope for black people in America, that the KKK, armed wing of the Democratic party, rides in the night as it did one hundred years ago. The event, of course, culminated in a speech by Barack Hussein Obama, black son of a Kenyan student, speaking to the crowd. Obama, of course, is the President of the United States. Would MLK ever in his wildest dreams have predicted that his children would see a black president of the United States? That alone gave the lie to all the words that preceded Obama's appearance. 

Anyhow, all this lead me to repost a little item I wrote several months ago on the disaster that is American liberalism. I am working on a couple of new pieces, at the same time that I deal with the growing demands of dog ownership.

April 30, 2013: "Poverty, Mass Murder, and Liberals: A Complete Package"

Words evolve. They take on new meaning over the years. Social and political movements appropriate certain words, redefine them, and then use them to shape the ideological battlefield. The classic example of that, of course, is "bolshevik" and "menshevik." The Bolsheviks were, in fact, the Mensheviks and vice-versa. The word bolshevik, derived from the word meaning "majority," was appropriated by the radicals who were in reality the minority of the old Social Democratic party. The minority labeled the majority the minority and got away with it. Clever. There are many other examples of this in history such as the insistence on calling nazis and fascists right-wing when they are clearly left-wing products.

In our once great, still beloved, but evermore daft United States, precisely those who are not liberal, as in broad minded and generous in their attitudes towards others, have appropriated "liberal" as theirs. The political philosophy of this "liberalism" is one which portrays life as a series of problems that needs addressing by the state--the state guided and run, mind you, by the "well-educated liberal elite" produced by our increasingly decrepit "liberal" universities and informed by "liberal" Hollywood and "liberal" Big Media. Modern U.S. liberals are a variant of European social democrats who believe in a big state and mistrust the individual; the big difference being that US liberals have much more power in the world than their European co-religionists ever could hope. They advocate the "positivist" attitude so aptly summed up in the motto emblazoned on the national flag of Brazil, "Ordem e Progresso," so long, of course, as they are in charge of imposing the order and defining the progress. They take positivism's emphasis on rational thought and logic, and its opposition to superstition and fantasy, and turn it on its head into a "science-based" fantasy that somehow just so happens to lead to more power for them and their state. Global climate change is one stirling example of how liberals have taken a legitimate scientific-based concern over pollution, and turned it into a monumental hoax, known as Manmade Climate Change. That hoax somehow, just somehow, ends up demanding more money and power for--guess who?--the liberals and their state. As we will discuss, this philosophy comprises followers who proclaim a great love for humanity while in practice exhibiting a great hatred for people.

Sorry for the long-winded intro, but it brings us to today's topic, for which I provide the following bumper sticker, "Liberals love humanity and hate people." Oh, and by the way, liberals will get you killed. Yes, killed. Modern liberalism kills people, and does so by the millions, all in the name of humanity, of course. It should have a warning label that asks you not to practice liberalism at home, or something along the lines of "I am a trained professional, do not attempt liberalism on your own."

Liberals hate all sorts of people but their special, most lethal hatred is reserved for the poor and the "uneducated." They kill the poor by the bushel, by the ton, by the hectare . . . they kill them at home and abroad. No poor person is safe from the lethal loving embrace of the liberals.

So many examples, it's hard to know where to begin. I don't pretend to provide an exhaustive account of liberal mayhem, just a glimpse at the tip of the iceberg. So, where do we start? How about with DDT? This extremely useful pesticide was virtually banned around the globe for decades because of the bogus writings of Rachel Carson, the lesbian biological mother of today's whacky environmental movement. The ban on DDT, ostensibly to save birds, puppies, and other wonderful warm things, resulted in the deaths of millions of poor persons around the globe from malaria and dengue, which came soaring back on the wings of now safe mosquitos. This tradition of sacrificing the poor on the altar of Gaia continues to this day. The insistence on the global warming hoax, long after the "science" has been shown to be false, perpetuates policies, e.g., ethanol in gasoline, opposition to domestic drilling and nuclear energy, that increases the cost of living, promotes food shortages, stifles employment, and, yes, leads to death. The opposition to cheap energy and food, the zoning restrictions in upperclass neighborhoods, all under the guise of protecting the environment, take direct aim at the lives and welfare of the poor. Liberals kill.

Liberal welfare policies create havoc throughout our society. What slavery, Jim Crow, the KKK, and racial discrimination could not do, liberal polices have done, to wit, destroy the black family and turn millions of blacks into permanent wards of the state and of the liberal political machines that control most of our cities. Liberal immigration policies, beginning with the disastrous 1965 Kennedy-Johnson immigration law, insure a constant stream of poor third world immigrants, altering irrevocably the nature of our society and ensuring that the struggling black (and white) American poor cannot compete with the ultra-poor pouring in from Mexico, El Salvador, Bangladesh, and so on. Liberal minimum wage laws ensure the disappearance of the starter jobs, once a platform for the poor to spring out of poverty. All of these people, the old poor and the newly arriving poor, need, of course, social programs and more and more government help. The liberal political machine dispenses jobs and money, and the productive sectors face rising taxes, a labyrinth of regulations, and the constant presence of "helpful" government regulators and enforcers. Let the poverty and misery spread!

Liberal gun control policies also target the poor. The poor in our cities must live with the drug dealers, gang bangers, and other hoods in the hood. The comfortable liberals live in secure high-rises, and tony suburbs well protected by overpaid and over equipped police and fire departments and expensive security firms. The poor must put up with the inability to defend themselves; they must allow themselves to be murdered in the name of ridding America of gun violence.

Likewise liberal education policies deny the poor the right to choose the schools their children will attend. Instead an alliance of politicians and teacher unions keeps the poor trapped in failing and unsafe schools, while the wealthy liberals, well, you know what they do, and it isn't to send their own kids to those schools.

The examples are endless. From the liberal refusal to allow us to become energy independent, the liberal refusal to see what Islam does everywhere it takes root, and the liberals' seemingly endless assault on the family, everywhere we look we see the death and destruction that modern liberalism brings to our shores and promotes overseas.

To speak out on this is to risk being labeled a racist and hate-monger. To fail to speak out, however, means being complicit to some of the greatest crimes on the planet: the crimes of the liberals.

WLA

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Bomb Until We Think of Something to Do (Repost from the Unpleasant Past)

A little something I wrote about two-and-half years ago, March 25, 2011, to be specific, re the Obama misadministration's most excellent Libyan adventure.

I wrote this shortly after that misadministration had commenced bombing of Libya. I repost it now, to avoid having to do so in the near future as we repeat the previous farce,
"[A]ngry, irritated, and sad over our action in Libya. 
We are now several days into the bombing campaign, and all we have is confusion--oh, yes, and death. Our superb military have, as we all knew they would, quickly established a No-Fly Zone. Was there any doubt they could do that? Now, what? We still have no end game, no exit strategy, no answer to the question, "How do we know when we've won?" Instead, we have bombing. 
President Obama has said Qaddafi must go. OK. So we're going to target him? Apparently not, except when we do, but not really. Have we gone bear hunting with the idea of wounding the bear? Who are the rebels? Does anybody really know? Who's in charge of the rebels? Anybody? What are their goals? The US wants to pass command and control, so to whom? Will it be NATO? Who provides the bulk of NATOs resources and capabilities? One guess, and the answer is not the UK, France, Italy, or Spain . . .  It's a bit like arguing whether a Ford is better than a Mercury. Same factory, folks. Will it be some other harebrained scheme for collective control that will leave the US with the responsibility but not the authority? No answers, so instead we have bombing. 
Above all, however, the administration has not defined our interests. What was so pressing about Libya to excuse the manner in which we got involved? Aren't the people leading the charge into the Libyan desert the same ones who spent years deriding the idea of a threat from Saddam? No answers, so instead, we have bombing. 
Obama and his hopeless coterie must understand that war must form part of a policy, it is not just mindless, bored vandalism. Meanwhile, we will just keep bombing until we think of something to do . . .."

Sigh . . . our King Obama and his Court so like what was said about the Bourbon kings, "They never forget, but they never learn."

Or as Nancy Pelosi might say, "We must bomb Syria to know what is in Syria." We are about to find out.

WLA

Quick Note on Syrian WMDs and Iraq

On the overall Syria situation, I have made clear my strong view that the Obama misadministration is leading us into a disaster--almost regardless of the end result of the intervention, our national interests lose. In addition, we are apparently going to intervene in a half-baked manner that would not have been necessary had we maintained a base in Iraq. That base would have given us an ability to come at the Syrians from two sides. A robust US military presence in Iraq also would have helped curb what is growing Iranian influence in Iraq, and hampered Iran's ability to intervene in Syria and Lebanon. Such, however, is the quality of our "leadership" that we are operating with self-imposed and severe handicaps, at the same time that we adopt grandiloquent objectives.

I notice some renewed speculation about the origin of Syria's stockpile of chemical WMDs. That reminds me of a little event in which I participated. The date, April 9, 2003, the day Saddam's statue was pulled down in Firdos Square in Baghdad. I was sitting in my office at a US Embassy in Asia. As were millions of others people around the world, I watched the destruction of Saddam's monument on TV. My phone rang; my office manager said that the Ambassador wanted me to take a call from Iraq's Embassy. I first thought it a joke, but, no, Iraqi Charge Abbas was indeed calling. I picked up the phone, and, in very good English, he immediately said, "I am calling from the Embassy of Liberated Iraq. I have told your Ambassador, you have done a good thing. You have given us freedom!" I was a bit surprised. This man had a reputation as one of the most loyal Saddamers around; just a few days prior he had been agitating for protests at the US Embassy. I had gone into the host nation Foreign Ministry to lodge my own protest over his activities. He previously had been, apparently, a senior official in the Iraqi Finance Ministry, and was very close to Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz. He now wanted to talk, and was willing to come to our Embassy, but I was curious about the Iraqi Embassy and wanted to go there. We agreed to meet there in a couple of days if State approved.

On appointment day, I took along an Arabic-speaking officer from the political section, just in case our friend's English failed him. We arrived at a rather run down small facility. The Iraqi employees were friendly towards us, well, they did a lot of bowing and smiling, gave us tea, cookies, dates, and other sweets, and didn't shoot us. I felt a bit like Major Heinrik Strasser walking into Rick's Cafe in "Casablanca," not knowing quite what was going on, but, at least, nobody burst into La Marseillaise. The Iraqi Charge was a small, good-looking man, impeccably dressed and groomed. Abbas spoke very good English and French and, I believe, Turkish, along with his native Arabic, of course. We did a lot of chit chat, in which I asked about his family in Iraq. He hadn't heard from them, but had learned that his family home had been damaged, and sheepishly asked whether the USG would pay to repair it. I asked if Iraq had paid to repair damage it caused in Kuwait. He smiled. We talked about many things, most having no bearing on this story. I did, however, ask about Iraqi WMD. He denied vehemently that Iraq had nuclear weapons, although he acknowledged that Saddam had long wanted them and an Iraqi nuclear weapons program, in disrepair in recent years, did exist or had. He was uncomfortable, vague, and I think not too knowledgable on the topic. I asked about chemical weapons. He perked up. Abbas laughed. He claimed that Iraq managed to slip those into Syria, "Right under your noses!" He roared this line, letting his nationalist sentiment overwhelm his new putative role of American vassal. Abbas insisted that the weapons had gone by plane, and, mostly, by truck. We agreed that he would come to our Embassy for further conversations.

I dutifully reported back to State my conversation with the Iraqi. Never heard anything back.

He showed up a few days later at our Embassy; I turned him over to people better than I at interrogation. He spent several hours with them and then left. He, apparently, told them, again, that Iraq had smuggled chemical weapons into Syria. The interrogators, however, discounted this, telling me afterwards that it seemed unlikely that the Iraqis could have carried out this operation without our knowing.

Folks, it ain't much, I know, but that is all I know . . .well, about that, that is.

WLA

Monday, August 26, 2013

Democrats on the Road to Damascus

In the course of my adult life, especially in the State Department, I became aware of an interesting phenomenon when it comes to foreign affairs. Democrats prefer and advocate for U.S. intervention, including messy, bloody, military intervention, in places where there is little or, preferably, no US national interest at stake, e.g., Vietnam, Libya, ex-Yugoslavia. Find a place where there are US interests at risk--e.g., Panama, Central America, Iran, Cuba--they go into pacifist-anti-imperialist-defender-of-the-peoples-of-the-Third-World mode. Also curiously, as we saw most spectacularly in Vietnam, once the US does go in, they quickly begin to doubt the wisdom of the move, and even turn against the US intervention. They know that once we do intervene, even if it was in a place of no or limited importance before, the act of intervening creates US national interests, e.g., the need to show that the US cannot be defeated, that we mean what we say, etc. Once such interests are created, the liberals, "summer soldiers" if there ever were, become very critical of the intervention, and actively work to sabotage the US effort.

We are on the verge of another of those moments.

I have written before that our policy in the Middle East under the Obama misadministration makes no sense (for example, here, here, here, here, and here, to name just a few posts). Our intervention in Libya was counterproductive to our national interests in Libya and the region; our support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is an outrage on the scale of Carter's Shah of Iran disaster; and our pressuring Israel to deal with and make concessions to the phony Palestinians is criminal.

From all the press it seems that this misadministration is gearing up for some ill-thought-out, half-baked, direct intervention in Syria on behalf of "rebels" who are nothing more than Al Qaeda affiliates. I wrote before that Obama seeks,
to repeat his disastrous Libya adventure in even more dangerous and complex Syria. Remember the Benghazi massacre? Wait until you see the jihadi loons who will take over Syria! Now, you might reasonably ask, what about Assad? As was his father, he is a pencil-necked murdering swine. We all agree on that. As did his father, he runs a repressive, minority-ruled, Iranian-backed regime. Whom are we arming to replace him? Even more murderous pencil-necked swine, that's who. As we did in Libya, we want to replace a nasty piece of work who, nevertheless, can act rationally and with whom we can deal, with lunatic AQ-allied, apocalyptic jihadi fanatics who want a Muslim caliphate or death and will slaughter indiscriminately in pursuit of either goal. 
If you want a clue on dealing with Arab states, don't look to the State Department or the NSC--especially under Susan "It's YouTube's fault" Rice. Look to the Israelis. For them it is literally a matter of life or death who runs the corrupt Arab regimes in the neighborhood. The Israelis detest the Assad regime and have fought a continuous war with it since 1970. They also detested Arafat, and any number of other Arab dictators. They, however, were and are very cautious about promoting regime change. Despite numerous opportunities, for example, they never killed Arafat; they dropped people all around him, but never him. Who would replace him? Nobody knew, so better stick with the disgusting but inept known devil than risk getting someone or something much worse.
Mark my words, if our policy "succeeds," that is to say, it leads to the downfall of Assad, we soon will enter a world of hurt. Assad will be replaced by extremist jihadi psychopaths who will turn on us in a flash. If we don't "succeed," and we just wound the bear, what's left of our reputation is gone, leaving us with one bloody-minded, revenge seeking pencil-necked dictator--backed by Iran and Russia--gunning for us and our interests. Some choice, eh?

If we go into Syria, one positive thing I would hope for is US liberals and lefty Europeans shutting up about Iraq and our intervention there. You cannot support intervening in Syria and oppose intervening in Iraq. Well, not if you are a logical, thinking person, but then we are talking about American liberals and their loony European lefty allies, so . . . never mind.  Whatever the flaws in our Iraqi policy, we had many more valid reasons to go into Iraq than we do to go into Syria; for liberals, however, that does not matter. Obama wants and, apparently, will have his war.

WLA

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Conservatives and Their Responsibility for the Liberal-run Security State

The liberals hold the many powers of the State and, without question, use them to trample liberty AND democracy in our country. We see it everyday in the use of the DOJ to attack the rights of states; the campaign against gun ownership by law abiding persons; the growth in power of regulatory agencies such as the EPA; the abuses by the IRS; the insanity of Obamacare and what it means for the economy and liberty; the use of "immigration reform" as a means to create yet another class of voters beholden to the Democratic machine; the endless stoking of racial hatred, and on and on. Many times well-intentioned conservatives do not understand or appreciate that the liberals do not care about the bad state of the economy; high unemployment, rising poverty rates, and labor unrest, in fact, are good for the liberal agenda. They lead to increased calls for action by the state, for more programs, more regulations, more CONTROL over once independent sources of power and influence.

In recent days, I have been thinking about developments since the attack of 9/11/2001, and recall the steady drumbeat afterwards to do away with the (in)famous "wall" that separated intelligence gathering and law enforcement. The most famous proponent of that "wall" was of course the otherwise self-serving Democrat hack millionaire and former Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick. She was, in the words of the Washington Times, "personally responsible for instituting a key obstacle to cooperation between law enforcement and intelligence operations before the terrorist attacks [of 9/11]." While at DOJ, she wrote a memo which made it extremely difficult for the FBI and the CIA to cooperate against terrorism. Again, quoting from the WT,
Gorelick (the No. 2 official in the Clinton Justice Department) on March 4, 1995, to FBI Director Louis Freeh and Mary Jo White, the New York-based U.S. attorney investigating the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. In the memo, Ms. Gorelick ordered Mr. Freeh and Ms. White to follow information-sharing procedures that “go beyond what is legally required,” in order to avoid “any risk of creating an unwarranted appearance” that the Justice Department was using Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants, instead of ordinary criminal investigative procedures, in an effort to undermine the civil liberties of terrorism suspects.
Lots of us on the right, myself included, felt outrage over the restrictions on information sharing. I had personal experience with this issue overseas, where I saw that one agency could not share certain information with another. It made no sense then, and I still remain highly critical of the motivation behind the building of the "wall," i.e., to protect terrorism suspects--not to protect the overall liberties of Americans.

The consequences of this lack of sharing became visible on that morning of September 11, 2001. The reaction to that attack was, of course, to try to "fix" things so that another attack could not happen. There was a rush to create new structures with new powers, free of past restrictions. I have to say, I never could understand the logic of creating a Department of Homeland Security. First, I found the name itself very anti-American; we do not refer to the homeland, a very European or even dystopian future scifi novel term replete with all sorts of Orwellian implications. Second, I saw good agencies forced to merge with ones that were not so good. Third, I found the size of the DHS that emerged as overwhelming, and, quite frankly, way too unwieldy to serve as an effective CT tool. I have to admit, however, that I liked the knocking down of the "wall," and in my desire to wreak vengeance on the perpetrators of 9/11, failed to think through the implications for liberty. I know that I was not alone in that failure.

We conservatives, therefore, conspired in building the superstate. The liberals, of course, are much better at taking over such a superstate than are conservatives, who, ironically, have long had a very valid mistrust of such a state. The liberals know that when you create programs and the agencies to implement them, you create groups with a vested interest in seeing those programs and agencies expand in reach and size. These groups consist of people who vote and agitate for the programs and agencies that now provide them a livelihood. Look, for example, at the extreme reaction, dutifully hyped by the lapdog media, to the tiny "sequester" of federal funds. One would think that the world had come to an end because X agency would get 6% more money in the next budget cycle rather than the 6.1% it had expected.

We conservatives, for good motives, i.e., kill the bastards who attacked us, helped the liberals create a leviathan now controlled, of course, by the left and focusing its activities not on killing those bastards who attacked, but on monitoring us and using the state's great powers to accumulate wealth for themselves and suppress dissent.

WLA

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Circus is in Town: Bradley Manning Wants to be a Woman

It just gets better and better. The, uh, man--may I still use that word?--guilty of the most massive classified leak in US history, thus far (we don't know what the bizarre Snowden is giving his Russian hosts) has announced that he wants to live life "as a woman named Chelsea." Bradley Manning wants the government, i.e., the taxpayers, to pay for the medical procedure. If the news continues like this, The Onion is going out of business.

The real issue, however, is not the mental state of this little weasel. The question is how did he get through the recruitment and clearance processes? Nobody, nobody, nobody during his background check, or during his time on duty noticed that he--may I use that word?--was just a few degrees off level? Nobody? His commanding officers? His colleagues? Bueller? Bueller?

He apparently spent a lot of time in some weird internet chat rooms using government computers for that. The NSA, the same folks collecting on my wife's Vonage calls to her mother in Spain, did not catch Manning's odd surfing activities?

Is this, along with the Nidal Hasan case, just another demonstration of how political correctness can wreak havoc?

I guess we should be grateful for Islam's antipathy towards women which makes it unlikely Nidal Hasan will also want the taxpayers to pay for his transformation to Fatima and provide a life-time supply of burkhas.

WLA


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Benghazi "Firings"

I see some of the press is mildly abuzz over the fact that SecState John "Xmas in Cambodia" Kerry has "reinstated" the four State officers previously removed for their role in the Benghazi fiasco. Readers of this blog, however, might recall that on December 27, 2012 I predicted that nobody would be fired, and that the four officers allegedly removed by State were, in fact, not removed. I noted that I had a bet going that nobody would be fired or forced to resign,
I won my bet with a former colleague on the Benghazi fiasco. I bet him that nobody would be forced to resign: that would be the price of the truce between Foggy Bottom and Chicago. "You don't fire us Foggy Bottom sorts, and we don't go public with how cretinous a foreign policy you Chicagoans have instituted. Deal? Deal." The initial reports indicated I might have lost the bet, as supposedly four State officials either were forced to resign or dismissed . . . yeah, right. My colleague called to collect on his bet; I delayed paying as I was skeptical of the initial reports. Then SUDDENLY the truth came out. Nobody had been axed! It was all a three card monte game with no money card on the table.

I will go out further on the limb. Once even the little dust created by the scandal has dissipated, the four bureaucrats asked to take the mini-spear for Chicago will--mark my words--get monetary awards. They will be written up for showing courage and fortitude under difficult circumstances. The senior people will evade all responsibility; ol' whats-her-name will slip out of the building and leave her desk to John "Xmas in Cambodia" Kerry, the dead will be forgotten, the Islamist Morlocks will lick their fingers and get ready for another helping of Eloi.
I stand by my second prediction. These officers will be rewarded.

WLA

Liberals: Natural Born Idiots

Don't want to get into a long constitutional and legal debate here, but I do want to make a little comment about the current furor over whether Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is eligible to run for President.

First, forgive me for a little Diplo-Bombast. This little blog spotted the attack on Cruz coming way back when. I wrote a piece, August 1, 2012, titled, "The Media: They Just Can't help Themselves . .  .."  I noted then that the liberal machine, by way of the ultra-liberal L.A. Times, was out to get Cruz, who had still not even been elected Senator. I wrote,
The LAT piece claims that since Cruz was born in Calgary, Canada while his father, a Cuban refugee, worked in the oil business, he is not a "naturally born citizen," even if his mother was a US citizen--which she was. Amazing the stuff they will come up with to try to destroy a rising GOP star. The liberals have to destroy women and minority conservatives above all others; not to do so would give the lie to their narrative that the GOP is the party of rich white guys. Look at the hatred directed at Palin, Bachmann, West, Rice, Cain, Rubio, and now Cruz.
The liberals think this is some clever retaliation for the "birther" attacks on Obama. They conveniently forget, however, that the "birther" stuff emerged from Hillary Clinton's primary campaign and was based upon, as I wrote on May 18, 2012 , a bio blurb by Obama's publisher that,
listed him as born in Kenya. I will assume that Obama, in fact, was born in the US--I don't want to get into that issue right now--but it seems, that in true liberal fashion, he was willing to go along with the gag for some sort of advantage. That advantage could have been funding, e.g., scholarship for foreign students, for his elite university education or just as a status-enhancer to enable him to date more "composite" girlfriends. He is at best a liar, perhaps has committed fraud, and joins Warren as just another race hustler and profiteer.
I still think that Obama claimed to be a foreign student, much as Senator Elizabeth Warren claimed to be "Cherokee," in order to game the grant and affirmative action systems in academia.

Let me get to the point. For many years now, the phrase "natural born citizen" has meant a person who at birth was a US citizen, i.e., a person who did not need to be naturalized to get citizenship. I know there's debate about it, but that is the generally accepted definition. Cruz's mother was a US citizen, and she conferred US citizenship to Cruz at his birth. The issue is bogus; it is irrelevant whether Canada also considers him a citizen by birth because he was born in Alberta. We now see the Twitterverse and the lefto-blogosphere awash in calls for Cruz to renounce his Canadian citizenship.

For those still awake and interested in this issue, I would note that the Kenyan Constitution, Chapter Three, Paragraph 14, states,
(1) A person is a citizen by birth if on the day of the person’s birth, whether or not the person is born in Kenya, either the mother or father of the person is a citizen.

(2) Clause (1) applies equally to a person born before the effective date, whether or not the person was born in Kenya, if either the mother or father of the person is or was a citizen.
That means, Dear Readers, that per Kenyan law President Obama has a claim to Kenyan citizenship as his father was Kenyan. Should Obama be asked to renounce his claim to Kenyan citizenship? Should McCain renounce any possible claim to Panamanian citizenship? What about all those Irish-American politicians who, under Irish law, could claim Irish citizenship? What about the Italians? What about Jewish politicians? Should Weiner, Bloomberg, Schummer, Feinstein, The Diplomad, etc., be required to renounce any claim to Israeli citizenship? Chris Christie might have claims to both Irish and Italian citizenship, should he be required to march into those Embassies and swear off any loyalty to their countries? Mexican-Americans? I am not forgetting you; get ready to renounce.

Isn't this all a bit silly? There are nearly 200 countries, give or take, in the world. Each one has its own legislation and its own citizenship requirements. Do we all need to be experts on all their legislation? What if one country decided that every person with an "a" in his or her first or last name was a citizen. Would every American so affected be expected to renounce that citizenship? Shouldn't the determination of who is a US citizen be up to US law regardless of what other legal jurisdictions state?

The liberals are hopeless.

WLA

Monday, August 19, 2013

Obama and an Edouard Daladier Moment

The day after the November 2008 election I had a major Édouard Daladier moment.

On that horrid Wednesday, I sat in my cluttered office at Main State in Washington, DC, in a deep, deep funk. Blinds drawn; lights out; a small TV on the far side of the office ran images of Obama’s victory celebration in Chicago the night before.

Two colleagues, one male and one female, both white, and both career State officers, walked into the office and started bubbling, “Isn’t this great!” Startled out of my near coma, I glumly asked, “What’s great?” The woman looked at me as though I were from outer space, “The election! Obama’s victory.” I stammered, “Wha-what’s so great about it? He’s going to be an awful president.”

They looked at each other, and then the male officer said, “When you drove in today, didn’t you see the joy and pride in the black parking attendants in the basement? They have a real spring in their step this morning.” For one of the few times in my career, I was speechless. No withering reply. No cutting remark. No Churchillian riposte. No well-aimed stream of verbal acid shot from between my lips. Known while I was at the UN as the "Master of the Reply," I stared at him, as a fish pulled out of the depths might. Uncomprehending. Mouth moving without a sound. My pea-sized brain had failed me, yet again. I clearly had not understood that the 2008 national elections in the world’s most important country were about the happiness of parking attendants, about ensuring they had a "spring in their step."

These two cheerful condescending colleagues bounced out of my dreary office; I could hear them celebrating with others outside the door. A couple of minutes later, in walked another friend, a Republican political appointee, who shook his head and sorrowfully asked,”What do you think?” I fidgeted with my pen, undid my tie, and said, in my best Liev Schreiber growl, “We just did a Hemingway. Muzzle of a loaded shotgun in the mouth; about to pull the trigger. Or, as Édouard Daladier would have said, 'The fools! Why are they cheering?'”

Although featured on the cover of TIME at least twice, Édouard Daladier, on this side of the Atlantic, anyhow, is hardly known today; he is a figure lost in the fog of history. That is unfortunate. His valiant and ultimately doomed struggle against the homicidal fraternal twin tyrannies of Communism and Nazism deserves study; we can learn from his mistakes. Today, when the "leader" of the West is in full appeasement mode, the story of Daladier and France in the 1930s is an important one for those who would be America's allies. Unfortunately for our long-term interests, it seems that regardless of whether our allies know of Daladier, some already understandably have taken steps to avoid a fate akin to that he and France suffered.

Almost a century later, we have difficulty understanding how devastating the 1914-18 Great War proved for France. The bulk of Western Front fighting took place on French soil. Some 1.6 million Frenchmen, nearly 5% of the economically active population, had died or permanently gone missing, with another 4.3 million wounded, many of them horribly so. The French Army fought with remarkable valor, much more valor, in fact, than brains; the brave poilu deserved much better than they got from their brutally and even criminally inept senior ranks. By the time the Americans arrived, the French Army and, to a lesser extent, the British, verged on collapse. The Allies faced a revitalized German Army which had just defeated Russia, and begun transferring hundreds of thousands of troops from Russia for a new offensive in France. Thanks in large part to those Americans, the Germans were stopped, barely, and both sides agreed to an armistice. The inconclusive end to the Great War, with Germany left almost untouched, had deprived France of a sense of victory, leaving instead one of stunned exhaustion. The last thing the French electorate wanted in the years after WWI was another confrontation with Germany.

Daladier, a classic leftist politician of the era, became Prime Minister three times. French politics were rough and tumble, with alliances made and dissolved, and little attention paid to foreign policy. There was a general refusal to acknowledge that Germany was re-arming and preparing for another round. Daladier was a voice in the wilderness. He saw the threat coming from Germany and became particularly alarmed by the Nazi-Soviet Pact. Unlike many others of his time, and today, he understood that Communists and Nazis comprised two sides of the same totalitarian coin. Daladier became PM for the last time in April 1938. By this time, the West's appeasement policies towards Hitler were firmly set. Daladier desperately tried to convince Britain's Neville Chamberlain to take a firmer stance against Hitler. Chamberlain would have none of it, and France's parlous military state prevented Daladier from striking out on his own. Chamberlain had decided to yield to Hitler's demand for the Sudetenland, and to the effective dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. Daladier argued against this, but found himself helpless to do anything but go along. To his life-long shame, Daladier became a signer of the September 1938 Munich Agreement, the now universally recognized monument to appeasement. Heading back home from Munich, Daladier assumed angry French patriots would rip him to shreds. He, instead, got a hero's welcome. Enthusiastic crowds sang his praises, prompting him to turn to an aide, and utter the famous, bitter, and prophetic words, "Ah, the fools! Why are they cheering?"

Daladier knew that war with Hitler would come, and France was not ready. He subsequently tried to develop an arms relationship with the US, seeking American weapons to plus up the poorly armed French military. The negotiations became complicated because of France's default on WWI-era loans from the US. By the time this got worked out, it was too late. The American planes France ordered ended up in Britain as France fell to the Nazis. (NOTE: A fascinating book about the rescue of Daladier and other French politicians in 1945 from an SS prison by a combined unit of US and German soldiers--yes, you read that right, US and German soldiers--is The Last Battle by Stephen Harding.)

I have written before about the Obama foreign policy (here, here, and here, for example). We are firmly in the grip of an appeaser, perhaps even worse. Other countries have begun to see that quite clearly.

In the Middle East, we have shown great weakness in the face of an Islamist totalitarian onslaught, and, in fact, many of our statements on Egypt appear to favor the murdering totalitarians of the Muslim Brotherhood. Thanks to Obama, regardless of what happens in Egypt--and I suspect the Egyptian military will hang on--the US will lose. Egypt's leaders, not wishing to repeat the Daladier experience, will drift away from us. Already we see the Saudis and others in the Gulf stepping in; don't rule out a move by Russia, as well, as our ineptness in Egypt and Syria provides Moscow wonderful opportunities to reestablish its influence in the region.

Not only in the Middle East do we see this move away from the USA. In Latin America, for example, our long-time ally Colombia has just about given up on Obama. The callous and exceptionally stupid and arrogant manner in which the misadminsitration handled the free trade agreement and its refusal to stand up to Venezuela in Honduras, has convinced the Colombians to look elsewhere. We will see others follow, including Israel which will begin to develop a policy much more independent of us than heretofore.

All this forms part of the legacy of long-term damage done by the man who brought "a spring to the step" of parking attendants in the basement of the State Department.

WLA

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Liberty vs. Democracy?

A quick Sunday post before I go back to being the servant of Hartza, who is having trouble adjusting to his new home--he won't eat, and insists on urinating at 3 am only.

I was never a big Pat Buchanan fan. He is smart, witty, a great debater, and often on point, but I was turned off by his barely concealed anti-semitism and racism. Yes, I consider him a lightly airbrushed anti-semite and a racist--I see Ron Paul as one, as well; Rand Paul is different. Unfair? Folks will let me know. As a libertarian (with an asterisk) I don't believe in racism. Race doesn't tell much at all about a person; culture, however, can tell much more. Socially conservative white middle class Americans, for example, are closer in temperament, values, and outlook on life to black middle class Barbadians, than they are to white "progressive" Scandinavians. All that, however, is a discussion for another day.

Years ago, Buchanan made an observation which I failed to incorporate into my thinking and acting. He took exception to American foreign policy's obsession with promoting democracy overseas; he pointed out that the statue in New York harbor (OK, OK, it's actually in New Jersey) is the Statue of Liberty, not the Statue of Democracy. He argued that if we sought to promote anything it should be liberty, not democracy.

I don't want to get into a huge pompous discussion On The Nature of Liberty, with lots of citations of erudite philosophers, but I have come around to Buchanan's view. Our obsession with democracy keeps getting us into trouble all over the world, and it ties our hands when trouble hits. At the risk of sounding like a neo-Marxist or a neo-Darwinist, I would argue that democracy might be the highest form of liberty, but that over time time, democracy can become a threat to liberty--a Jupiter chopping up his father Saturn sort of affair.

England, the birthplace of modern democracy, became one (yes, yes, officially a monarchy, but let's not get pedantic) after liberty became well established, e.g., limitations on the political reach of government as exemplified in the Magna Carta, the development of an economy in which that government could have only a limited "taste," to use some Sopranos language, and of a society with many centers of influence and power quite apart and independent from the state. In more modern times, we have seen liberty lead to democracy in Pinochet's Chile. Under the old and, as it turns out to the chagrin of leftists everywhere, enlightened dictator, a deliberate economic policy was set in motion that created a vibrant capitalist economy that led to today's amazing Chile--a country from which we have much to learn. We saw a similar process take place in Spain. Whether by design or "just because" the Franco regime fomented or at least allowed the emergence of a society with considerable liberty. Spaniards could get a passport with little trouble, set up businesses, buy and sell property, invest in stocks, bonds, etc., and rely on a fairly honest legal system to protect their property rights.

In places such as Egypt, Libya, Syria, Venezuela, Honduras, all over Africa, we tie ourselves up in knots, often times huge complicated legal knots with lots of lawyers tugging on the ends of the twine over whether a regime is democratic, whether a particular act is in "keeping with democratic principles," or, believe it or not, whether some act by a government in another nation is in accord with that other nation's constitution. You don't know how many absurd meetings I attended while wise men debated whether the manner in which leftist pro-Chavez plutocrat Mel Zelaya had been removed from power in Honduras was in keeping with article this and paragraph that of the Honduran constitution. There we were, lots of highly paid American bureaucrats, crammed into an office at the NSC, arguing over the Honduran constitution--ignoring, of course, that the Honduran Supreme Court had ruled Zelaya's removal constitutional. We now see similar arguments over whether the removal of the repellant and tyrannical anti-Western jihadist Morsi in Egypt is or is not a coup, and whether we should or should not cut off assistance to the pro-Western and moderate Egyptian military.

We should, of course, be focused primarily on our real interests in the region and secondly on whether the new regime, be it in Tegucigalpa or Cairo, will benefit liberty more than the old one. In Cairo, I think there can be no doubt that whatever the flaws of the Egyptian military, a government under the control of that organization is better for the West, and better for the Egyptian people as it is better for liberty.

Now, of course, our advocacy for liberty overseas would be considerably stronger if we stopped destroying it at home first.

Just some thoughts on a Sunday.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Obama Foreign Policy: A Repost from March 2012


Still haven't had time to focus on my new post. Dug up this one which came before the one I reposted yesterday. Even if I say so myself, it seems to be even more relevant today in light of the disaster overwhelming US foreign policy in the Middle East, than when I wrote it, March 16, 2012. 

Obama's Foreign Policy

My career in the Foreign Service began when Jimmy "Wear a Sweater" Carter was President; the Shah sat on the Peacock Throne; the Soviets and their Cuban servants were all over Africa, Central and South America, and the Caribbean; our economy was in the sewer; our cities drug and race-fueled combat zones; our military, a hollowed out racially divided horror; and CIA and State, under appalling leadership, could do nothing right internationally. And things only got worse: the Shah fell to the Muslim crazies; the Soviets invaded Afghanistan; Communism, Socialism, and Liberation were on the march around the world. The bon pensant knew the future belonged to the Soviets and the Japanese, while we sat in the dark, shivering in our cardigan sweaters, suffering "malaise," and praying Moloch would eat us last.

Since those dark "Carter on Mars" days, thanks to Ronald Reagan, with his optimism and ability to see through mainstream cant, our country underwent a massive social, economic, and political renovation that showcased an unmatched American ability to regroup, reinvent, and implement. Our economy came roaring back; our military reaffirmed its unequaled status; the Soviets, unable to compete with the American economy and technical wizardry, came crashing down; and mighty ten-foot-tall Japan could not match the United States for innovation and the ability to put it to work at a dazzling speed. Even Bill Clinton learned not to fix a working model; he went along with GOP efforts to reform welfare, and poured money into sustaining and expanding the world's best special forces--as the Taliban and al Qaeda soon discovered. The confused waning days of the Bush administration, alas, pried opened the Gates of Hell once more; the inept McCain campaign couldn't close them, allowing the malevolent Obama misadministration to escape the Depths, and take over the White House--immediately making us nostalgic for Carter. We are in crisis mode, again.

This and a subsequent posting will focus on the disaster that is Obama's foreign policy, a policy of defeat. In its defense, let me say that to call it a policy designed for America's defeat gives it too much credit. My experience at State and the NSC, has shown me that most Obamaistas are not knowledgable enough to design anything.  Foreign policy for the Obama crew is an afterthought. They really have little interest in it; many key jobs went vacant for months at State, DOD, CIA, and the NSC. The Obama foreign policy team is peopled by the "well-educated," i.e., they have college degrees, and as befits the "well educated" in today's America, they are stunningly ignorant and arrogant leftists, but mostly just idiots. They do not make plans; they tend to fly by the seat of their pants using a deeply ingrained anti-US default setting for navigation. They react to the Beltway crowd of NGOs, "activists" of various stripes, NPR, the Washington Post and the New York Times. Relying on what they "know," they ensure the US does not appear as a bully, or an interventionist when it comes to our enemies: after all, we did something to make them not like us.  Long-term US allies, e.g., Canada, UK, Israel, Japan, Honduras, Colombia, on the other hand, they view as anti-poor, anti-Third World, and retrograde Cold Warriors. Why else would somebody befriend the US? Obama's NSC and State are staffed with people who do not know the history of the United States, and, simply, do not understand or appreciate the importance of the United States in and to the world. They are embarrassed by and, above all, do not like the United States. They look down on the average American, and openly detest any GOP Congressman or Congresswoman, especially Representative Ros-Lehtinen and Senator DeMint, who dares question their wisdom.  They have no problem with anti-American regimes and personages because overwhelmingly they are anti-American themselves (Note: I exempt Hillary Clinton from the anti-American tag; she is just ignorant--more on that in my next posting).

Our foreign policy is not made in any real sense. It slithers out from this foggy fetid leftist primeval mire and "evolves" into the weird amorphous "policy" we now have. It is guided by The Anointed One's long-standing Triple AAA motto: Apologize. Appease. Accommodate. There is no understanding of the relationship between military power and diplomacy, between expending the blood and treasure of America and our interests.  For the Obamaistas the topics of burning interest tend to be those far removed from the core national interests of the United States, e.g., treatment of prostitutes in Sri Lanka, gay rights around the world, the status of women in Africa, beating up the inconsequential junta in Burma, helping overthrow U.S. ally Mubarak, but doing nothing about the Iran-Venezuela alliance, the imprisonment of an American AID contractor in Cuba, the growing anti-Americanism spreading throughout Latin America, the disintegration of the few remaining moderate Muslim states, and on and on. This leftist, anti-American disease is contagious. Look at Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, once a moderate middle of the road politician, now spouting rubbish about needing "international permission" to deploy US military power, undermining over two centuries of US defense doctrine, not to mention the Constitution.

The career Foreign Service is hapless. Many of the FSOs, especially the young ones, come from the same "educational" background as the political Obama types. Many have strong sympathies for the Obama view of the world because it is easy, it requires less work--thinking is hard. It is best to come up with long carefully nuanced memos regurgitating the most conventional of conventional left-of-center "wisdom," so that the powers above do not get displeased. Deny a problem exists, then you do not have to do anything about it, "He is just an agricultural reformer . .  .".

This post serves as my introduction to a subsequent one, in which I will look at Hillary Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State. That will not be a pretty exercise.

Friday, August 16, 2013

A Repost from the Recent Past: Hillary Clinton at State

I am writing a longish piece on Édouard Daladier and the lessons we can learn from his ultimately failed struggle against appeasement and tyranny. I am also "supervising" the paving of the backyard, which has now extended to the front patio, and preparing as best I can for the arrival tomorrow of Hartza. So, I hereby offer up a reposting of a piece I wrote over year ago, March 2012, on Hillary Clinton. I thought about this piece as the liberal political machine warms up to promote this rather inept and inconsequential person for the presidency. I think two inept and inconsequential persons in that office in succession is just a bit too much. I think the piece holds up.

Hillary Clinton At State: Mailing It In

We have no foreign policy leadership at the White House or at State. We, in fact, do not have a Secretary of State; we have somebody playing one. As they say in Hollywood, Hillary Clinton is just mailing it in.

By today's devalued standards, Hillary Clinton is not stupid. She is "well-educated," which means she successfully navigated her way through some "elite" degree-granting institution. A crafty, although ethically challenged, hard-nosed American politician, she ably has taken advantage of opportunities that fell into her lap, e.g., her playboy husband became Governor of Arkansas and then President, and used them to her advantage, e.g., a Senate seat, almost the Presidency, and now SecState. As the First Lady of Arkansas, she played the role required of her: she laundered bribes for her husband. That is what Whitewater was about. That was her role at the Rose Law Firm: she would collect and launder the payoffs. She "made" a fortune in cattle futures, right? OK, when will you pay me for that bridge? (Note: The GOP was too stupid to explain the Whitewater affair, and accepted the media line that it was "too complicated" for the public to understand. My Foreign Service friends and I who had spent years in places where that was the role of the First Lady figured it out instantly.)

On the positive side, Hillary Clinton is not overtly anti-American as are some of the political types who have come into the Department, in particular in the Western Hemisphere bureau. She has some notable skills. As noted, she served as Chief Laundress during Governor Bill's tenure in Arkansas. During his run for president, she had charge of dampening the "bimbo eruptions." As First Lady in the White House, she had the point when it came to slamming critics, e.g., "vast right wing conspiracy." She, however, outdrove her headlights when she tried to design a national healthcare plan. That horribly botched effort revealed her lack of managerial and leadership skills, as well as her stunning arrogance. She brought those qualities to the State Department, an organization already flush with poor management, weak leadership, and stunning arrogance. I would note that among arrogant government agencies, State is the Saudi Arabia of arrogance--it has huge proven reserves.

Hillary Clinton is a celebrity who wants prestige. Secretary of State is a pretty good gig for those seeking prestige. You confirm your celebrity status, and the mainstream media labels you a "serious thinker." You will get a lucrative book ghost-written for you. You get to be on TV whenever you want; have cars and planes at your command; people around the world know you; and you have thousands of employees, mostly men, who fawn over you, laugh uproariously at your jokes, and nod like bobble heads on a dashboard while very ostentatiously writing down your words, and . . . wait.

Let's back up.

Let me explain the culture at State. It revolves around public displays of affection for the Secretary; more than that, it is based upon open adoration of the Secretary, who quickly becomes an almost mythical figure possessed of unbounded wisdom and insight. What we have, in other words, is a diluted version of North Korea. Staff meetings ring with statements such as, "the Secretary has said," "the Secretary wants," and "the Secretary was right on point this morning." You have not seen grown people--mostly men--try to outdo themselves praising the Dear Leader until you have gone to a morning meeting at State chaired by somebody who just attended a prior staff meeting chaired by the Secretary. As the kids say, "OMG!" People you thought reasonable, lose all reason, all critical faculties as they rush to appear the Most Loyal Servant of the Secretary. These are supposed to be Americans, defenders of the Great Republic, but you expect them to break into Anna's song, absent the irony,

"Yes, Your Majesty;
No, Your Majesty.
Tell us how low to go, Your Majesty;
Make some more decrees, Your Majesty,
Don't let us up off our knees, Your Majesty.
Give us a kick, if you please, Your Majesty
Give us a kick, if you would, Your Majesty
Oh, That was good, Your Majesty!"

All that's while in public. In private, in unguarded moments, career FSOs often reveal contempt for the Secretary and her "political appointees"--many of whom, truth be told, are worthy of contempt but not for the reasons of the Foreign Service, they are worthy of contempt because they don't like America. In short, this Secretary, as with (most of) her predecessors, comes to believe "her" people adore and respect her. Madam Secretary, I am here to tell you it's an act aimed at getting plum assignments.

Back to our story. As explained in a prior post, there is no foreign policy coming from the White House, except a default position of apology, appeasement, and accommodation. As a wise former colleague told me in an email when I let him know I was writing this piece, which would be very critical of Hillary Clinton as SecState, "A Secretary of State should not, of course, have a policy different from the President's, but that does not mean that what she says, how she says it, and the choices she makes in where she goes and what she does must be without character. We remember Seward's Folly and Marshall's Plan. Powell carried a Doctrine with him. What notable thing can one attach to Hillary Clinton? This is especially important with a President who leads from behind and who reflexively takes the least dramatic (and generally least effective) path to any goal. . . . Hillary, the candidate in 2008 with 'experience', should have provided some appropriate leadership here; she has not." He's absolutely right. Hillary Clinton will go down as either one of the most inconsequential or most damaging Secretaries of State, just as Obama will as president. There is no "Hillary Doctrine." Chortling upon hearing of the death of the insignificant Qaddafi, "We came, we saw, he died," does not cut it as doctrine.

The problem with Hillary Clinton's tenure, however, is more fundamental than the lack of a doctrine. Secretary Clinton has no knowledge of or interest in foreign affairs. She is bored by the substance; has no appreciation for core US interests, or how to defend them; does not understand the correlation between military power and diplomacy; and fritters time ineffectually on marginal issues, e.g., women in Africa. She has a close entourage of mostly "high powered" women, e.g., Cheryl Mills, who come from her political campaigns, draw top government salaries, have no foreign affairs knowledge, and worry only about the Secretary's image. She has entrusted some key programs to this entourage, and they have made a hash. Cheryl Mills, for example, received overall control of the Haiti relief effort. That assistance effort has stagnated, amuck in a bureaucratic mire where nobody knows the policy, the priorities, or even how much money has been raised and spent and on what. No link exists between our generous contributions to Haiti and even minimal political gain for the US. Haiti's leaders cavort with Castro and Chavez, and regularly oppose us at the UN and the OAS. You're in trouble when even Haiti's leaders know they can defy you openly, and you will still pour in the cash.

I have seen the Secretary in meetings with staff and foreign dignitaries. She reads her notes, spews out her talking points, and then gets that 1,000 yard stare. She is not at all interested in the goings on. She looks to her staff to extricate her, and tries to leave as quickly as possible. No decisiveness, no standing up for America, just a fatuous empty pantsuit blandness.

She, after all, is just mailing it in.

WLA


Thank You, Hugh Hewitt

A note of thanks to Hugh Hewitt.

I do not need to introduce him; he is one of the authentic blogosphere heroes of the conservative movement. I have had his blog listed on my little blogroll since I launched this version of the Diplomad, and on the previous version, as well.  In addition, he has a tremendous broadcast, which I listen to regularly on the internet, in which he interviews some fascinating folks--his interview yesterday with Mark Steyn and before that with Ambassador John Bolton was an example of how interviews should be done. Hewitt has a friendly informal approach that puts his guests at ease and ends up extracting superb amounts of information. He has a sense of humor and is not full of himself--the guest is the star. If you don't already, tune in.

Well, after having introduced a man who needs no introduction, I want to thank him for the plug he gave this little blog on his radio broadcast yesterday and in the tweeter universe.  He included my post of August 15, "Wandering in the Desert,"  in his excellent discussion of the growing and very alarming crisis in Egypt.

Thanks, Mr. Hewitt, and hope to count you as reader number nine.

WLA

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Wandering in the Desert


The situation in Egypt is serious. We face the possibility of a disaster on the scale of the Iran-Shah meltdown. Our never easy but, nevertheless, durable association with Egypt over the past forty years has proven key to our policy in the Middle East and elsewhere, e.g., Egypt was a major ally in our effort to push the USSR out of Afghanistan and to control the jihadi crazies in North Africa.

The equanimity with which our current embarrassment of a President watches the possible disintegration of forty-years of work is stunning. He can barely be bothered to delay his tee time to issue some boilerplate blather about ending the state of emergency and beginning a "process of reconciliation." OK, back to the vacation.

The current Egyptian government, yes, yes, unpleasant military types who probably never have been to Harvard, is in a battle for its life against the extremely unpleasant and murderous Muslim Brotherhood (MB).

The MB is out for blood, lots of it.

The eighty-five year old MB wants to kill Christians, Jews, and gays; it wants women put back into the 7th century; it wants to destroy Israel; it wants to destroy America and the West; it seeks to establish an Islamic Caliphate that runs from Spain to Indonesia, and eventually takes over the world. The MB are not modest, moderate people who believe in the democratic game of compromise and tolerance for dissent.

At a minimum, we should expect respectful silence from our idiotic President, and his equally idiotic Secretary of State, who is still running around yammering about Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and pressuring Israel to release jihadi murderers. If these two "leaders" of the West cannot bring themselves to support the defeat of the MB, they should at least shut up.

WLA

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Now For Something Serious: Dogs [UPDATE]

Have been spending way too much time on nonsense, e.g., Obama's foreign and domestic policies, and must now focus on what is really important in life, dogs. 

As noted before (here and here), I had a beloved Rottweiler who after some 11 years gracing us with her humor, loyalty, intelligence, and protection, moved on. I swore off dogs forever, but the pull of the canine, the call of the mild, the howl of a good time has proven too much. My daughter and I have been hitting the animal shelters and various dog rescue organization events. Had we our druthers our temporary house in California would be home for 50 to 100 large K-9s. Only fear of provoking the wrath of the Diplowife--35th wedding anniversary, yesterday--has restrained us.

But--Ha!--no longer! We discovered this magnificent young brute, a German Shepherd/Akita mix, who overcame the restraints of what commonsense I still possess.    





It is not like the old days when you went to the fetid dog pound on the outskirts of the city dump, woke up the guard, slapped down ten bucks, and loaded Fido into the truck. Now you must apply, and be interviewed, and be examined, and be approved. I dutifully submitted an application, providing references and financial data and swearing to my credentials as a responsible animal lover. I, subsequently, have been interviewed over the phone--I did not let on that I am The Diplomad, as I didn't want to play the Oprah Prima Donna card, "Do you know with whom you're dealing?"

Our house gets inspected on Thursday to see if it is worthy of His Highness Ludwig Von Yakuza. My daughter is a bundle of nerves. I, on the other hand, await with the equanimity of one who has dealt with State inspectors, Hill staff, and policemen all around the world, in other words, with a bottle of scotch and a bundle of bills at the ready (Disclaimer from Management: The owner, editors, and executive directors of The Diplomad do not condone this sort of behavior, and no intent to promote it is implied or should be inferred. Do not attempt this at home.)

It is easy to make fun of this dog adoption process. It, however, does show a touching willingness by many ordinary people, operating without government support, sacrificing their own time and money in a bid to care for abandoned and abused animals, and trying to ensure that these animals go to safe and loving residences. I think you can judge a society by how it treats children and animals. It seems, unfortunately, that we currently do better with the latter than with the former, precisely because of the great amount of government intervention in "caring" for children. To a very large extent the destruction of the family and of the non-governmental support structure that existed to help families through crises has been a result of  deliberate liberal government policies. We can see liberal policy "successes" most dramatically in Eden-like places such as Detroit. If we want to see streets filled with stray, sick, and violent packs of dogs, we should enact government programs to care for dogs, and push hardworking private sector people out.

Meanwhile, we await Thursday's verdict.

UPDATE: Inspection day. Nice inspection lady came over; we groveled, and apologized re the state of the house because of the paving operation underway.  We PASSED!!!! We get to pick up the brute, which we have decided to rename Hartza ("Bear" in Basque) next Saturday. I can't wait for Hartza to eat the neighbor's cat . . . just kidding . . . might give Hartza a bad case of indigestion.

WLA