The View From 1776
Sunday, December 31, 2006
John Kerry: Latest Perspective on Iraq
The ever-changing (aka flip-flopping) Senator Kerry gives us his latest straight scoop on Iraq.
Thomas E. Brewton
In a December 24, 2006, Washington Post article, Senator Kerry shares his insights after literally having been on all sides of the question in the past. His latest thoughts originate in the visit that he and Senator Christopher Dodd made recently to Iraq.
The Senator’s conclusion is: The only hope for stability lies in pushing Iraqis to forge a sustainable political agreement on federalism, distributing oil revenues and neutralizing sectarian militias. And that will happen only if we set a deadline to redeploy our troops.
We’ll look at that in a few paragraphs down, but first let’s indulge in the fun of a few pot-shots at an easy target to hit.
Senator Kerry writes: But with U.S. troops in Iraq in the middle of an escalating civil war, this is no time for politics. Refusing to change course for fear of the political fallout is not only dangerous—it is immoral.
Does he seriously think that President Bush believes that he is scoring political points by staying the course in Iraq? If scoring political points were the only objective, wouldn’t the President simply have pulled out of Iraq a year or so ago? Isn’t it possible that, whatever the man-in-the-street thinks (given the one-sided media coverage), President Bush is pursuing what he sincerely believes to be the best policy?
Senator Kerry writes: The lesson is simply that we need to change course rapidly rather than perversely use mistakes already made and lives already given as an excuse to make more mistakes and lose even more lives.
Why do we need to change course rapidly? Isn’t the better part of wisdom to play a chess game with a series of moves intricately related, each offering optional strategies if results of each step are not what is desired? After all, we are playing on a chess board with multiple opponenents and partners - Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Al Queda, and Iraqi shiites, sunnis, and Kurds - each with his own strategic aims.
Senator Kerry writes: We cannot afford to waste time being told that admitting mistakes, not the mistakes themselves, will provide our enemies with an intolerable propaganda victory.
It’s correct to say, I believe, that the Bush administration isn’t worried about giving our enemies propaganda victories. It’s worried about opening the flood gates to Iranian domination of the Middle East that would give it the power to choke off oil supplies to the Western world and ignite ruinous inflation.
Senator Kerry writes: The Iraq Study Group tells us that “the situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating.” It joins the chorus of experts in and outside of Baghdad reminding us that there is no military solution to a political crisis.
Historically it is absolutely false to say that there is no military solution to a political problem. Beginning with the Egyptian empires of more than 5,000 years ago, the Middle East has been the scene of endless tribal warfare interspersed repeatedly with centuries of imperial stability under Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and the various branches of militant Islam. Each period of peace and stability was achieved by brutal military conquest and subjugation. Indeed, however distasteful to our Western mores, it may be that the Arabs and Persians understand only brute force, because they have always lived under some variety of autocratic rule.
Endorsing the Iraq Study Group recommendation for negotiating with Iran and Syria to stabilize conditions in Iraq, Senator Kerry writes: Conversation is not capitulation….... How else could we end up with the famous mantra that “only Nixon could go to China”? ..... His 1972 visit to China was a major U.S. diplomatic victory in the Cold War.
That’s a bit like asking why the New York Yankees baseball team don’t use more passing plays and off-tackle slants. The politico-economic circumstances in 1972 were in no way a parallel to the Middle East situation we confront today. China was not at all concerned with the possibility of American intervention on the Chinese mainland, but she was greatly concerned with Soviet military and colonial pushing against her western frontier. China saw a diplomatic opening to the United States as an effective counterweight to Soviet power.
In contrast, Iran earnestly desires to dominate Iraq, using that as a lever to bring Saudi Arabia and Kuwait into its sphere of influence. Let’s not forget that, as recently as the entire decade of the 1980s, Iran was fighting a bloody war with Iraq for domination of the Middle East and its oil reserves. The last imaginable thing on Iran’s list of aims is a stable and strong Iraq that could again threaten its political and military position.
Let’s now come back to Senator Kerry’s prescription: The only hope for stability lies in pushing Iraqis to forge a sustainable political agreement on federalism, distributing oil revenues and neutralizing sectarian militias. And that will happen only if we set a deadline to redeploy our troops.
What dangers lie in setting a troop withdrawal deadline? And suppose it doesn’t work as the Senator assumes, what fall-back position does he envision?
To us outside observers seeing only biased media reports, it appears that a “sustainable political agreement on federalism, distributing oil revenues and neutralizing sectarian militias” is a tall order unlikely to be achieved by telling the Iraqi governing councils to shape up before we ship out.
First, wouldn’t their knuckling under to us destroy their credibility as an independent Iraqi government? Wouldn’t their internal political opponents call their supporters into the streets to overthrow what would be tarred as an American puppet government?
Second, the problem isn’t federalism in the American sense, but deep-rooted tribal and religious differences that for thousands of years have been suppressed only by tyrants like Saddam Hussein and the Iranian Ayatollahs. Working out a viable set of compromises will require more than a few months before American troop pull-outs.
Third, “neutralizing sectarian militias” is the equivalent of asking the Democrats to abandon labor unions and the tort bar. The shiite, sunni, and Kurdish factions get their political power from the sectarian militias that support them.
Fourth, the oil production is almost entirely within shiite and Kurdish areas. Getting them to share oil revenues with the sunni minority who brutalized them under Saddam is not to be accomplished easily.
In short, what sounds like a reasonable policy enunciated by Senator Kerry is as much, or more, problematical than the tactics of the Bush administration, using back-channel diplomatic contacts with Iran and Syria, while shifting (or threatening to shift) support from one Iraqi faction to another to cajole them into cobbling some form of stable government.
Foreign Policy • (5) Comments
Print this Article • Email A Friend • Permalink
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Another Reader Examines the Iraq War
Wayne Lusvardi looks at our invasion of Iraq from a perspective often touched upon in THE VIEW FROM 1776: reasons for military and diplomatic actions sometimes cannot be disclosed fully to the public, even though failure to disclose them may allow political opponents to distort the policies involved.
The Canard That George Washington Would?Not Have?Gone Into Iraq
By Wayne Lusvardi
Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Joseph J. Ellis?begs the?answer?to his own question at the?start of?his column in today’s Los Angeles Times:
IT’S A RIDICULOUS question: “What would George Washington do about Iraq?
He then proceeds to?spin the revisionist case that Washington would never have been tempted with “imperial” ambitions by going into Iraq.? Ellis writes:
Can a powerful army sustain control over a widely dispersed foreign population that contains a militant minority prepared to resist subjugation at any cost?” Washington would recognize the strategic problem immediately, because it is a description of the predicament facing the British army in the colonies’ War for Independence.
Excuse me but let’s back up to September 11, 2001. Nineteen terrorists, mostly from Saudi Arabia, or with fake I.D.‘s making them appear to have been from Saudi, commandeered four commercial aircraft and used them as weapons of mass destruction to destroy highly symbolic commercial and government buildings of the U.S.? As far as we know, these mass murderers were in part funded by a cabal in the Saudi Royal Family with tactical assistance of rogue members of the Pakistani Intelligence Service. ?In other words, the U.S. was blackmailed to either intervene in Iraq to stop the (phony) threats of Saddam to use nuclear weapons and to contain the expansion of the radical Islamic Revolution from Iran into a weakened Iraq.? Any U.S. President that didn’t intervene in Iraq would?thus be viewed as feckless and would?eventually face the blackmail?of high oil prices and?economic inflation a la?President?Jimmy Carter. ???
War is always based on bluff and deception from the Trojan horse to modern times.? Saddam’s deceptions were used against him as a rationale for invading and deposing him from power. Bush and Tony Blair adroitly used Saddams deceptions?against him.? ?
It is a very old tactic promulgated by the Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu and others: get someone else to fight your war for you.? The Saudis and the Pakis didn’t want to oppose Saddam or the Iranian Mullahs.? So they devised to blackmail the U.S. by using a pretend rogue terrorist such as Osama bin Laden to send a message to the U.S.: either intervene in Iraq or we will continue to destroy your embassies, naval vessels, decimate your commercial aviation industry,?destroy your government buildings and raise oil prices to the point of provoking a world-wide economic depression.
Yes there is an uprising of radical Islamism, but it is not the cause behind the Iraq War or even the Iranian Revolution. In a counter-reaction to modernization, many Muslims have experienced a resurgence of the outward manifestations of their religion.? Opportunists have seized on this?for their political purposes by funding the most radical elements of Islam and fomenting a Potemkin Islamlic Revolution. In the Middle East all Muslim religious leaders are funded by the government (i.e., theocracy).??This same tactic was?employed in the Mid East?by the Germans?prior to WWI as famously described in the book Like Hidden Fire: The Plot to Bring Down the British Empire by historian Peter Hopkirk.???????
No American politician or political party, whether Republican or Democratic, will tell you that we have relented to blackmail or they would risk political ruination.? Both political parties have had to create a fiction of “Weapons of Mass Destruction” and other ploys to galvanize public opinion in favor of intervention in Iraq.? Now one of these political parties has chosen to exploit the apparent “phoniness” of the Iraq War to regain political power. But this is merely changing the players and not the outcome of the?play; except?for perhaps yelling fire in a crowded theater?causing pandemonium?with people trampled in the process. Sure the intervention in Iraq appears to have been bungled both strategically and tactically.? The reason that it appears so is that we were facing blackmail and had few, or no, good options.? That’s why the U.S. looks like “Imperialists” in Iraq to journalists such as Joseph J. Ellis.? Maybe it is a good thing to finally stand up and tell the Saudis and the Pakis and others to fight their own war.? But what will be the consequences: a larger war, a world-wide depression, mass unemployment, dirty nukes thrown on our ports wreaking devastation on our economy and panic in our population??
The media is only interested in selling news and creating controversies in a class war?where in the final spin the knowledge class always trumps the?business class?because they control the media (i.e., the knowledge class always “knows best”).?They aren’t interested in telling you what is going on any more than the politicians.?Politicians at least often have good reasons to avoid telling us the truth lest the consequences of truth telling result in calls for a?ruinous larger war of retaliation against?“our friends the Saudis” and?economic catastrophe at home. ?
We don’t know what Washington would have done in Iraq?but we do know how he handled blackmail in the French and Indian War.??Washington was sent to preempt the French from building forts in Ohio County (claimed by Virginia). He?built Fort Necessity which proved inadequate and?initially had to retreat.? He was blackmailed into signing a confession because of the “Jumonville Affair” in which he was accused of assassinating a diplomat who was supposedly only on a non-military mission in Ohio County.?Perhaps troops died and Washington lied?because of?the Jumonville affair.? Eventually, he turned the tables on the French?and drove?them out of Fort Duquesne. Washington may have preached non-interventionism at the end of his military career but his actions proved otherwise. ?He was the harbinger of the Neo-cons who knew that you can only face blackmailers by seeming to capitulate, then turning the tables on them?at the first opportunity. ?
President Thomas Jefferson?faced?the threat of terrorism and blackmail with the Islamic Barbary Pirates seizing commercial vessels of the U.S.?? He decided to send U.S. Marines and the new U.S. Navy to lay siege to Tripoli to fight?terrorism and blackmail?at its source.??
Where the?Populist Democratic Party of?Peace and Pre-Emptive Surrender (PPES) ?will lead us in facing this Islamic-veiled?blackmail ?and terrorism is an unanswered question.? Many in the public feel an?emotional catharsis?and?sense of power after a clean-sweep of the Republicans in the recent past elections for?Bush purportedly lying about and bumbling the Iraq War. This was the same sort of exhilaration experienced after we backed President Bush in his war on terror after 9/11.? Machiavelli once warned of the fickleness of the public.??
Who knows what the truth is about the Iraq War.? But the?blackmail hypothesis?above is the only?explanation that seems to make sense about the so-called “phony” war and why the U.S. would have blundered into occupation of Iraq, which was a? perceived but not a real?imminent threat to?U.S. security,?instead of mere containment of Iraq and Iran; or why it merely had not left Saddam in power. ?
Note:?Pulitzer prize winning columnist Joseph Ellis apparently lied to his college classes that he served in the Vietnam War and was suspended for one year without pay. ?
Wayne Lusvardi, Pasadena, California, is a Vietnam War veteran and blogs at http://www.pasadenapundit.com/
Foreign Policy • (0) Comments
Print this Article • Email A Friend • Permalink
An Inspiring Story for New Year’s Resolve
No matter what liberal-progressive-socialists teach you in school today, what counts is still, and always, the individual human soul striving against the odds. To put a little steel in your backbone read this account of one man’s unremitting struggle.
Tradition & Morality • (0) Comments
Print this Article • Email A Friend • Permalink
A Reader’s Review of American Foreign Policy
A reader sees American foreign policy since World War II as a series of failures in judgment, concluding with Afghanistan and Iraq. The focal point of our policy today, he believes, should be supporting Israeli actions to defeat Hezbollah in Lebanon and then turning all our forces upon Osama Bin Ladin.
Israel Steps Up When The United States Steps Down
By Lewis Lafontaine
??He follows his father, but with shorter strides. ?Virgil
??The President of the United States has acknowledged that things are “bad” in Iraq. The United States chose to invade Iraq believing that the Iraqis abandon Sharia Law which has served Islam well for hundreds of years in favor of a Western style of democracy. This endeavor is doomed to failure.
It is time for the United States to recognize some fundamental facts about Islam.??Jesus was crucified by the Romans and subsequent to his death Peter, his fellow Apostles and followers were relentlessly persecuted by Rome until the conversion to Christianity of the Emperor Constantine in the year 313. From the advent of Christianity Church and State were separated. This separation was exacerbated with the advent of the Protestant Reformation which resulted in many schisms within Christendom and hundreds of years of violence.
In the year 610, Muhammad reported receiving the words of the God from the Archangel Gabriel and wrote them down in what became known as the Koran. Several years later Muhammad and his followers would conquer Mecca in battle thereby uniting Church and State. The Islamic nation state was founded as a Theocracy. Unlike in the West the separation of Church and State is a historically and culturally alien concept within Islam.
The concepts of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights are as foreign to Moslems as the concepts of Sharia Law and Fiqh are to Christians.
There are many Islamic nations. Among them are: Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Niger, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and Syria. While all of these countries are predominately Moslem Islam is not a monolith. The nations of Islam are as historically, culturally and linguistically diverse as their Christian counterparts of Argentina, Armenia, Belgium Botswana, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, East Timor, Finland, Greece, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Ukraine, and the United States.
Take not to yourselves friends of them, until they emigrate in the way of God; then if they turn away seize them and kill them wherever you find them and take no friend nor helper from among them ~ Sura 4:89
At the death of the Prophet Mohammed a schism developed between Sunnis and Shiites over the legitimate successor to Mohammed. The depth of this schism between Shiites and Sunnis must not be underestimated and ought to be used to the advantage of the United States. In the Koran there are indeed admonitions for faithful Moslems to attack the Crusader (Christian) and the Jew but more importantly the Prophet Mohammed condemned the Apostate of Islam as a greater sinner than either Crusader or Jew.
??Approximately 85% of all Muslims are Sunni and Sunnis are the dominate population of Saudis Arabia, Egypt and most other Arab nations. Sunnis are also the majority in non-Arab Turkey and Afghanistan. Sunni Muslims constitute most of the Palestinian Muslim population.
??Iran is the only nation with an overwhelmingly dominate Shiite population. Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain have large Shiite populations. The mixture of Sunni and Shiite populations in Iraq and Lebanon and the fact that they view each other as Apostates goes far in explaining the secular violence in these respective countries.
??hu?bris NOUN: Overbearing pride or presumption; arrogance: There is no safety in unlimited technological hubris (McGeorge Bundy).
??Since 1945 the possession of the Bomb and the existence of oceans separating us from potential enemies in Europe and Asia gave us a false sense of security and invulnerability.
??The United States began to fight “politically correct” wars and settled for a truce in what was referred to as a “police action” in Korea. Today after giving billions of dollars in “aid” to North Korea this third member of the so-called axis of evil possesses the bomb.
??The United States left South Vietnam after 50,000 Americans died. Communist Vietnamese regiments halted the genocide of Pol Pot in Cambodia and went home. A unified communist Vietnam did not conquer any of its neighbors. The ?domino theory? did not materialize at the conclusion of the war. North Vietnam did not change its politics but now enjoys Most Favored Nation status and will soon be admitted to the World Trade Organization.
??The United States under President Carter experienced months of “malaise” while U.S. citizens were held hostage in our own Embassy in Iran and did nothing. The United States during the Reagan Administration did nothing when 200 marines died at the hands of Hezbollah in Lebanon. The Clinton Administration stood idly by as our embassies were bombed in Africa and a Somali thug and his militia killed our airmen. The United States did nothing when the U.S. Cole was bombed. An earlier era would have proclaimed: ?Remember the Cole.?
??Another “Super Power”, the Soviet Union, went to war in Afghanistan and lost in this poverty stricken third world country. The United States financed, trained and equipped the Afghan Mujahideen including the Arab Al-Qaida fighters under Osama Bin Laden. The U.S. celebrated this loss by the “Evil Empire” but failed to understand why the Soviets had lost. The U.S. State Department and Department of Defense failed to learn as the British had in an earlier century: “You can rent an Afghan but you cannot buy one.” Had the United States recognized this truism it would have used its own forces to destroy Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban at Torah Bora rather than outsourcing the job out to Afghan warlords.
??Like the Soviet Union the United States boasts of capturing Afghan cities and destroying enemy infrastructure. This ignores the fact that Afghanistan has no infrastructure and is not an urban based society. The traditional Mongol method of warfare has always been not to face the enemy in all out battle but ever to retreat and bide their time. Mongols have always surrendered their cities. Mobility, terror and defeating the will of the enemy were the greatest weapons for the Mongols and are the weapons they are using today.
??In addition the Afghans are experiencing bumper crops in the growth of poppies which are finding their way into Western Europe and the United States. The U.S. does nothing to destroy the cultivation of poppies. The U.S. is a long way from victory in Afghanistan and the War on Drugs.
??This history of a failed foreign policy crosses all party lines. While the United States faces the grave threat of chemical and/or nuclear attack upon our soil both republicans and democrats demonize each other. They are like the two lepers who continuously ague with each other over who has the most fingers left.
Prior to the United States choosing to go to war with Iraq Saddam Hussein (a Sunni) represented a buffer that protected the Shiites of the Arabian Peninsula as well as the Jewish State of Israel from aggression by the Shiite dominated Iran. The tragedy of the United States first pre-emptive war in its history is that in geopolitical terms the United State broke what was not broken. Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaida with support from the Taliban in Afghanistan attacked the United States and not Saddam Hussein.
??As a matter of fact Osama Bin Laden despised Saddam Hussein. When Kuwait was invaded by Saddam, Osama begged the Saudis not to allow permanent U.S. Military bases on the Arabian Peninsula that would be used to evict Saddam from Kuwait. Osama offered his mujahideen forces that had already defeated the Soviet Union in Afghanistan to defeat Saddam and liberate Kuwait.
??Osama is a Sunni who was born in Yemen but raised in Saudi Arabia. He is a devout Sunni who considers the secular Sunni Saddam Hussein an abomination. As a Sunni Osama also has a natural antipathy towards the Shiite Iran. The Saudi Arabian refusal to accept Osama’s offer to fight in behalf of the Saudis against Saddam prompted Osama’s flight to Afghanistan from Saudi Arabia.
??The United States would renege on its promise to abandon its military bases in Saudi Arabia at the conclusion of Operation Desert Storm. This would cement the hatred Osama Bin Laden has of the United States and the Saudi house of Fahd since in the Koran Mohammed prohibits the establishment of any foreign military forces on the Arabian Peninsula.
??Americans should note that there was never an Islamic attack upon a U.S. embassy, vessel or American soil until after the establishment of permanent U.S. military bases upon the soil of the Arabian Peninsula.
??A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.~Joseph Stalin
??Saddam Hussein is an unsavory character but a breath of fresh air compared to Josef Stalin who was an invaluable ally to the United States in defeating Nazi Germany or to the Ottoman Turks who ruled Iraq for over 350 years.
??Americans forget that Saddam made his bones fighting Iran from 1980-1988. It was Saddam who fought the Ayatollah Khomeini. In the first four years of war with Iran Saddam Hussein suffered 250,000 dead troops. He would lose nearly 500,000 by wars end. In comparison the United States has had fewer than 3000 casualties in four years of war in Iraq.
??Saddam hated Israel but he hated the Apostate Iranians even more. A great irony is the fact that had Saddam possessed WMD he would have been far more likely to have used them against Iran than the United States. This is fundamental to understanding how to “fix” Iraq.
??Force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one ~Karl Marx
??The United States will never gain a military and political victory in Iraq using its current mode of fighting. Victory with reliance upon high tech weaponry and the avoidance of a high body count (of U.S. forces and the enemy civilian population) is doomed to failure. Like the Battle of Stalingrad only the use of overwhelming force i.e. the firebombing of Baghdad and Fallujah can assure a military victory.
??As in post war Germany and Japan military victory would need to be followed up by a 21st century Marshall Plan giving billions of dollars in economic reconstruction aid to Iraq once the enemy has unconditionally surrendered. Inexplicably the United States currently spends billions of dollars in taxpayer?s money reconstructing enemy territory before the enemy has surrendered.
??Reconstruction of Iraqi cities includes those controlled by Muqtada al-Sadr. This is the same Shiite militia leader who killed a number of U.S. military personnel in Fallujah and still has an outstanding Iraqi warrant charging him with murder. Saudi Arabia whose very existence the United States protects from Iranian aggression pays nothing towards the war effort. Meanwhile millions of Americans pay three dollars a gallon for gasoline produced from Saudi oil.
??America has also pledged aid to Lebanese cities and town bombed by Israel. This aid is given despite the fact the Hezbollah has not surrendered or abandoned the areas being rebuilt.
??Prior to 1945 the United States never lost a war. The Civil war was won with the burning of Atlanta. Dresden and Cologne were firebombed in Germany. The dropping of “Little Boy” on Hiroshima and “Fat Man” on Nagasaki brought Japan to her knees. Civilian casualties inflicted upon enemies of the United States have always been crucial in attaining victory. Since 1945 the United States has fought “politically correct” wars and consequently has never won.
??Nuclear War is and will be an ever present danger in the world but the Wars since 1945 have not been nuclear. They have been modeled after the Battle of Stalingrad I.e. All out urban, or in the case of Vietnam, Jungle warfare. This is an important lesson for America and Europe to internalize since the riots in French cities last summer by Moslem dissidents are probably a forerunner of the urban warfare that will infest Europe in years to come. They are patterned after the battles of Stalingrad, Baghdad and Beirut.
??Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war. ? John Adams
??Initially the rationale for choosing to go to war with Iraq was to destroy weapons of mass destruction. There were no weapons of mass destruction and faulty intelligence from the CIA was blamed. It was George Tenant who headed the CIA under both Clinton and Bush Administrations guaranteed the existence of WMD in Iraq.
??Shortly after President Bush chose to go to war in Iraq George Tenant received the highest civilian honor this nation can bestow: The Medal of Freedom. With over 2500 dead American soldiers and billions of taxpayer dollars spent one can only wonder at the mockery of bestowing such an honor upon Mr. Tenant.
??The United States must reestablish a buffer between the Arabian Peninsula including Israel in order to prevent military aggression from Iran. To do this the United States must abandon the fantasy of democracy in Iraq and reinstate a Sunni strongman to bring order to Iraq and stand up against Iran.
??President Bush boasts of millions of Iraqis voting in ?democratic? elections. Democratic elections have also been held among the Palestinians and in Lebanon. Hamas won Palestinian elections and Hezbollah won a large block of seats in the Lebanese Parliament. Does the United States have any realistic reason to believe that its enemies will not win democratic elections in Iraq?
??The outcome of War is a most uncertain thing. ~Queen Elizabeth I
??This would bring us full circle back to the geopolitical position in Iraq prior to the U.S. intervention of troops. While an eminently practical solution geopolitically this would be a poison pill domestically for the Bush Administration to swallow.
??There is a second alternative to “fixing” Iraq but the second alternative demands that the makers of U.S. foreign policy and the American public ask a most provocative question: Why does the United States need to fight and die in Iraq to protect Israel?
??It was in our power to cause the Arab governments to renounce the policy of strength toward Israel by turning it into a demonstration of weakness. ~ Moshe Dayan
??The mid-term elections served as a mandate by the American people demanding the United States remove or substantially reduce its military forces from Iraq. This will create a power vacuum and it is an axiom of international politics that power vacuums are always filled. The question is: Will the power vacuum be filled by Iran or by a nation state that supports the interests of the United States?
??Prior to the mid-term elections in the United States Israel had two of its soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah forces based in Lebanon and subsequently endured missile attacks by Hezbollah forces across the Israeli border with Lebanon.
??Israel retreated ignominiously from Lebanon. Israel did not even attain the most minimal goal of the release of their soldiers who were taken hostage by Hezbollah. The Israeli retreat was due partly to the ferocious fight put up by Hezbollah fighters and in part by pressure from the United States insisting that Israel not be the catalyst for a wider war in the Middle East.
??This is the same Israel who defeated several Arab armies in the 7 Day War. This humiliating defeat on the part of Israel and the inability of the United States to win in Iraq is a source of great succor to our enemies. Imagine: Two nuclear Super Powers unable to defeat largely uneducated insurgents who possess no nuclear weapons, tanks, planes, navy or high tech equipment. This is truly shock and awe!!!
??The mid-term elections in the United States changed the dynamics of the Israeli-American relationship. If the United States cannot establish a situation in Iraq where the Iraqis step up so the United States can step down then it is time for Israel to step up so the United States can step down.
??We always said that in our war with the Arabs we had a secret weapon - no alternative. ~Golda Meir
??The kidnapped Israeli soldiers have not been released by Hezbollah. Hezbollah is reconstructing its missile sites and reinforcing its military forces and bunker positions in Lebanon. The Israelis have witnessed both the winning of over 30 seats in the Lebanese Parliament by Hezbollah and tens of thousands of Hezbollah supporters demonstrating in Beirut for the overthrow of the current Lebanese government which is supportive of the interests of the United States.
??Israel must bring their kidnapped soldiers home to Israeli soil either alive or in body bags. Israel cannot allow Lebanon to fall into the hands of Hezbollah. The very survival of Israel as a nation would be threatened if the Shiite Crescent extended uninterrupted from Tehran continuously through Lebanon to the Israel’s northern border.
??Israel must destroy Hezbollah. Hopefully this can be done with the active support of the Lebanese Maronite, Greek Orthodox and Melkite Greek Catholic Christians and the tacit support of the Sunni and Druze Moslems in Lebanon and thereby establishing a secure Lebanon which would constitute a buffer against potential Iranian aggression. This objective will only be obtained by the shedding of Israeli blood. Israel is not unfamiliar with the concept of Blood Atonement.
??With the elimination of Hezbollah in Lebanon and the removal or substantial reduction of U.S. troops from Iraq the Iraqis will be forced to make a decisive decision: Make peace with each other or to annihilate each other.
??The United States would then be free to focus on the destruction of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. It is a known fact that members of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban operate in Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan.
??With the United States preoccupied in Iraq the government of Pakistan has negotiated a treaty with the warlords of northwestern Pakistan in which the Pakistani government agrees not to send troops into northwestern Pakistan to attack Al-Qaeda or the Taliban.
??Adding insult to injury, Pakistan who ostensibly is an American ally refuses to allow U.S. troops into northwestern Pakistan to attack forces of Al-Qaeda or of the Taliban. In essence Al-Qaeda and the Taliban have safe refuge in Pakistan. Remarkably there is little outrage from the American public over this farcical situation.
??Once free of the yoke that is Iraq the United States must focus on the destruction of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. This is an imperative objective since there is an ever present danger of a coup occurring in Pakistan that would install militant Islamists in power of a nation possessing nuclear weaponry. This would have a chilling impact not only upon the United States but impact the relationship between Pakistan and India.
??The American and Israeli public opinion must support this objective since they cannot afford to lose the War on Terror.
??If we lose the battle with Crassus and Pompey I won’t need a horse, and if we win, we’ll be riding Cilician ships from Brundesium. ~Frankel
Foreign Policy • (6) Comments
Print this Article • Email A Friend • Permalink
Hispanic Bill Cosby
A prominent New York City Hispanic leader tells it like it is.
As the following opinion article from the Wall Street Journal outlines, Herman Badillo has had a long and important political career in New York City. As did Bill Cosby, Mr. Badillo, in his new book, confronts the sort of political demagoguery that usually greets anyone who suggests that black or Hispanic culture may be equally, if not more, to blame than racism for the economic gap between them and the white population.
Stalled in America
By Herman Badillo
?December 29, 2006
Wall Street Journal Page?W11
Like many millions of other immigrants, New Yorker Herman Badillo is living the American Dream. His new book, “One Nation, One Standard,” is a call to arms for Hispanics who are being shut out of that dream. So why are some of Mr. Badillo’s fellow Hispanic Americans now calling him a race traitor and bashing his book even before it was published yesterday?
We’ll get to that, but first consider the credentials Mr. Badillo brings to his subject. He arrived in the U.S. as an 11-year-old orphan in 1941 and by 1970 was elected the first Puerto Rican-born U.S. congressman. Mr. Badillo has since been deputy mayor of New York under Ed Koch, run for mayor himself and was former Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s counsel on education, eventually leading efforts to reform and restore to excellence the City University of New York system.
Out of this experience comes Mr. Badillo’s blueprint for immigrant success in America. The main focus of “One Nation, One Standard” is the Hispanic community, and his central theme is education, without which, he emphasizes, no amount of work or other opportunity will help a person rise. What’s got his critics in a tizzy is Mr. Badillo’s assertion that Hispanic parents cannot depend on the government to educate their children. Instead, he says, they must push their kids and rise up against a system that steers Hispanic and other minority children into segregated classrooms of designated underachievers.
The critics have focused on a few phrases in the book noting that the Hispanic immigrant community has not always placed as high a value on education as, for instance, Asians have. This is not an insult and does not sound like one when you actually read his book. As Mr. Badillo explains, the Hispanic cultural experience was formed in part by centuries of Spanish colonialism and the feudalism it spawned in Latin America, followed by decades of dictatorships and strongmen. This cruel legacy has imbued many people with a subconscious notion that stations in life don’t change, and a sense that help can only come through the luck of having a benevolent leader.
“One Nation, One Standard” calls on Hispanic Americans to throw off those mental shackles and claim the rights and opportunities that other citizens enjoy. His goal, he told us in an interview this week, is to sound an alarm that what is now the country’s major immigrant group is at risk of becoming the first such group not to follow the path of each generation doing better than the last.
Although his book covers many topics—including immigration—its most important audience is the parents of Hispanic kids, 50% of whom don’t graduate from high school. His advice: Don’t leave education up to the schools, which pursue such failed policies as “social promotion” (said to create self-esteem despite failing grades) or “tracking” with other minority children into deceptively named “academic courses,” while kids marked for success study a more rigorous curriculum. Get involved and demand that your children be prepared to participate fully in the American dream, through college and beyond.
If Mr. Badillo is generating controversy by suggesting that America’s Hispanics are being sidetracked in the name of multiculturalism, or hobbled by bilingual education, he welcomes the attention. “That was the reason” to write the book, he says. “To provoke a recognition that this issue cannot be hidden any longer and has to come to the forefront of a national discussion. Because we can no longer allow this to fester from generation to generation.”
Education • (2) Comments
Print this Article • Email A Friend • Permalink
Friday, December 29, 2006
Robber Baron for President?
John Edwards, a multi-millionaire, tort-bar lawyer, hopes to inflame our cultural divisions by reviving socialism’s economic-class-warfare.
Thomas E. Brewton
Former Senator John Edwards, who was John Kerry’s vice presidential running mate in the 2004 election campaign, has just announced his candidacy for the office of President.
His campaign theme is ending the “Two Americas” of haves and have-nots by ending poverty.
A December 28, 2006, Wall Street Journal article by Jackie Calmes reports:
[Edwards] previewed his emerging antipoverty program most comprehensively in an address in June at Washington’s National Press Club.
In that speech, he set a national goal of ending poverty in 30 years for the 37 million Americans living below the poverty line, lifting one-third of them above it in each of the next three decades. His “Working Society” agenda would mean a higher federal minimum wage, reduced taxes for low-income workers, universal health care, and one million new housing vouchers for working families, to help them find homes in neighborhoods with better schools.
Mr. Edwards proposes “Work Bonds” to provide tax credits to match low-wage workers’ own long-term savings. He calls for the government to partner with nonprofit organizations to create a million “stepping stone” jobs, to help welfare recipients and others get experience on local projects so they can go on to better-paying private-sector jobs. And he would open “second-chance schools” aimed at the increased number of high-school students who drop out before graduating.
This, of course, is a re-warming of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society “war on poverty,” the corrosive set of programs that split American society and led to the worst inflation in our history.
Ironically, the Great Society was designed to bring the blacks and other ethnic and social groups up to a parity with whites. Instead, it under-cut almost all the progress they had made since the Civil War, leaving them far worse off than before.
As Charles Murray documented with the government’s own statistics in Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950 - 1980, the numbers of people with cash incomes (including welfare benefits) under the poverty line had been dropping every year after World War II. Then startlingly, the pattern reversed. While poverty spending increased in the Johnson administration, a period of burgeoning prosperity, the numbers of people below the poverty line increased from 23 million to 29 million.
Liberals argued fallaciously that the increase reflected bad economic conditions. In fact, poverty dropped more than 12% during the Eisenhower Presidency, when economic growth average only 2.7% per year, while poverty rose 26% during the 1970s, when the economic growth rate was 18.5% higher.
The real answer was simple. It was a matter of changing public attitudes. Liberalism’s social-justice actually promoted the growth of poverty. As Charles Murray noted, the poor are poor, not stupid. For lots of ill-educated, low income people, living fairly comfortably on welfare, without having to work at all, was a better deal than working for a living at only a slightly higher level of income.
Similar counter-productive patterns were evidenced in employment, wages, education, crime, and family stability.
The Office of Economic Opportunity spent billions of dollars on job training programs and other efforts to move people off welfare and into the active work force. Black male unemployment declined 38% in the 55-to-64 age group. But the percentage improvement was progressively less as one went further down the age scale, with unemployment dropping only 1.6% among those in the 25-to-34 age bracket.
Among black men who were too young to have been participants in the work force before the start of the Great Society entitlements programs, results were dramatically worse. Unemployment in the 20-to-24 age group increased 18.6%. At the youngest age bracket measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those 16-to-17 years old, unemployment jumped 72.4%.
What was going on? Older black men, who had always worked, improved as a group. But black teenagers had all their young lives heard politicians telling them that they had been robbed of their entitlements by the white establishment. Starting at the low end of the economic ladder and working their way up over a period of years was considered beneath their dignity. With welfare case workers actively soliciting them to sign up for benefits, the career of welfare dependency seemed more attractive.
In another irony, Mr. Edwards made his candidacy announcement in a flood-damaged section of New Orleans, a city demonstrably brought to moral ruin and economic impotence by generations of welfare handouts that began with Huey P. Long in the late 1920s.
Federal statistics for labor force participation ? defined as people with jobs or seeking jobs ? display a pattern never before seen in this country. Historically, black men had always had the same percentage labor force participation rates as whites, and that pattern continued under the Great Society among older blacks. But the percentage of young black men working or looking for jobs dropped sharply the farther down the age scale one went. Two out of every three black youths aged 16-to-17 had never even looked for work.
Education just fell off the cliff during the Great Society. In 1960 the U.S. Office of Education commissioned tests in 987 high schools. Average scores in the General Academic Aptitude tests for black students were 68% of those for whites. A similar block of tests in 1965 reflected solid progress by black students, whose test scores rose to 79% of whites? scores. After 1965, and especially in the 1970s, Great Society funding for education rose rapidly. In 1980, however, the nationwide average for black men in the 18-to-23 age group had declined to only 43% of whites? scores, little more than half the level of competence achieved fifteen years earlier. It almost seemed that the government was paying young blacks not to learn.
Crime statics reveal the same dismal picture. Violent crime rates were almost unchanged from 1950 to 1964, at a ratio of 160 crimes per 100,000 persons in the population. Starting in 1965, the rate took off like a rocket. By 1980, the ratio of violent crimes per 100,000 population had increased 263%, to 580 per 100,000.
Liberals have always maintained that social-justice income redistribution would eliminate crime. The theory is that the existence of private property rights creates aggressive behavior such as crime and warfare. The same theme emerged among academics when they declared that 9/11 was our fault, that our wealth had provoked Al Queda.
The actual result of massive income redistribution via taxes and welfare entitlements was that Great Society welfare benefits permitted young black males to drop out of the work force altogether, and its political rhetoric fostered the idea that blacks were victims of society. Some of them felt justified in turning to criminal pursuits.
Reinforcing this pattern was the catastrophic rise in the number of teen-age, unmarried, single-parent families, in which little or no parental discipline is exercised in most cases. Between 1955 and 1980, the ratio of births to unmarried black teenage women, compared to all black teenage births, rose from 14% to 82%. In other words, among black teen-age girls, who are the highest birth-rate sector of the population, eight out of every ten births was to an unmarried mother.
Much of this can be accounted for by the incentive of higher welfare payment amounts to unmarried mothers, as well as the increases in benefits payments with each new illegitimate child. The welfare system also encouraged irresponsibility among young men, who were able to rationalize that the mothers would be financially better off, because welfare payments would be less if a father were living with the family.
In basing his campaign on a re-run of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, John Edwards is counting on voters’ ignorance of our nation’s recent history, or else he thinks we are stupid.
Welfare-State Socialism • (1) Comments
Print this Article • Email A Friend • Permalink
Thursday, December 28, 2006
The Counterproductive Welfare State
A new book gives LA-area specifics about the phenomenon frequently cited by economist Thomas Sowell, who notes the politically-correct policies in San Francisco and surrounding communities that back-fire, driving rents and home prices into the stratosphere. Low income people are forced into slums or completely out of town, preserving the area as a feel-good enclave for wealthy liberal-progressives.
Wayne Lusvardi emailed the following article which can be found at http://www.pasadenapundit.com and also at http://www.FreeRepublic.com .
Thomas E. Brewton
Evangelical Left All Shook Up About Affordable Housing?in Pasadena
Making Housing Happen: Faith-Based Affordable Housing Models
By Jill Suzanne Shook, editor and co-author
Chalice Press, 2006 $34.99
Through her new book, Jill Shook, a housing activist in Pasadena, California, has become the de facto spokesperson of the Evangelical Left’s new social movement to combat the so-called “affordable housing crisis”, mostly focused on the U.S situation.? The book jacket contains endorsements by many leaders of the Evangelical Left - Tony Campolo, Ronald J. Sider, and oddly has a preface by Dr. John Perkins, who doesn’t fit the label.? Given that the November 2006 elections have energized the political Left, Shook, who fashions herself as the next Jane Addams, may very well be used as one of the centerpieces of the Democratic Party’s missionary ventures to evangelical Christianity. As such her Biblically-populist book is important?but problematic?both on empirical and theological grounds.
In Shook’s hometown of Pasadena the reality of housing affordability is the reverse of what Shook portrays. One-third of the population by the U.S. Census is low income, mostly migrants from Mexico (God bless them). If there truly was an “affordable housing crisis” for the poor, how could one third of the populous afford housing in such an upscale suburban community?? By doubling-up in housing and gobbling up the lowest rung on the housing affordability ladder, migrants have driven up rents and have driven the working class out of affordable housing.
Contra Shook’s notion that scattered gentrification drives the poor out of affordable housing, California court decisions such as Serrano vs. Priest (1971) and urban riots partly organized by those on the political Left have made migrants into a protected class in neighborhoods in the first concentric ring surrounding Los Angeles. Moreover, Shook has no comprehension that her advocacy of inclusionary housing, “smart-growth,” rent control, landlord divestment of properties to the poor, and her opposition to gentrification actually will worsen the affordable housing crisis rather than lessen it.?
Theologically problematic is Shook’s disguising of the neo-Marxist advocacy model of Saul Alinsky and the Industrial Areas Foundation as what she calls the Biblical “Nehemiah Strategy” (Chap.15). The theological underpinning for her cafeteria of affordable housing models is mostly based on the Old Testament concept of “justice,” by which she means wealth redistribution by coercive government.? Shook and her co-authors fail to tell readers that nearly all of the “faith-based” affordable housing case studies in her book relied on government funding and tax credits. ?
Shook is oblivious to Jesus’ observation that “man does not live by bread (or housing) alone.” As such she doesn’t recognize that religiosity (i.e., Max Weber’s Protestant Ethic) can be conducive to housing affordability in a capitalist society.? Her advocacy of compulsory “inclusionary housing,” which diminishes the value of land of small property owners (not real estate developers) without “just” compensation?runs against the commandment “thou shall not steal.”? Even Shook’s Biblical preference for?homeless immigrants?runs against the moral of the scriptural story of King David taking a sheep from a rich man to give to a traveler in II Samuel 12.
A responsible Christian approach to such a complex issue as housing affordability in a modern society should entail the necessity of economic and sociological competency but also an understanding that our best efforts may lead to unintended consequences for which one needs to rely on humility, grace and repentance.? How so many affordable housing advocates from such institutions as Fuller, Denver and Gordon-Cornwell Theological Seminaries, Chalice Press, and many para-church organizations could unquestioningly contribute to and endorse this Marxist-based model?of housing?is indicative of how the Evangelical Left have already successfully infiltrated and co-opted formerly conservative Protestant institutions. Whether?Shook’s affordable housing social movement, which may be funded by the new Democratic Party-controlled Congress,?may?meet opposition from The Minutemen and the property rights movements remains to be seen. ?
Thought Police & PC • (0) Comments
Print this Article • Email A Friend • Permalink
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Constitutional Federalism vs Totalitarianism
As noted frequently in past postings, the unavoidable tendency of socialism is concentration of political power in the hands of a ruling elite who decide for the masses what their living and working conditions are to be. This is called state-planning.
In ways that would have been inconceivable as recently as the 1920s, our everyday lives are circumscribed by unelected bureaucrats in Washington who make regulations, enforce them, and adjudicate them, too often without our access to the normal safeguards of the common law. Those bureaucrats ? think of the IRS, for example ? issue rulings that most Federal courts will not contest, on the grounds that they lack the supposed expertise of the tens of thousands of Federal regulatory bureaus.
A posting today on Maggie’s Farm adds a sharp new example of the conflict between federalism and totalitarianism. The post, titled Hitler on Federalism, provides a link to a chapter in Hitler’s Mein Kampf in which he decries the roadblocks imposed by German federalism in the path to total power sought by the Nazis (German Workers’ National Socialist Party).
Hitler’s coming to power in the early 1930s was paralleled at the same time by the election of Franklin Roosevelt to the Presidency.
Maggie’s Farm notes that voters in the United States since the advent of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal have, at times eagerly, voted to strip states and local governments of their constitutionally guaranteed political powers and to transfer those powers to the collectivized bureaucracy in Washington, DC.
As Aristotle observed around 2,300 years ago, some humans are by nature slaves, that is people who prefer to be taken care of, rather than to take responsibility for themselves. Hilaire Belloc in The Servile State (1912) described those effects of the Fabian, gradualist process that was called creeping socialism in the United States. Voters gain more welfare-state benefits, but the cost always is surrender of some degrees of personal freedom.
For more about the inherent tendency of socialism toward totalitarianism, see Fascism vs. Economic Liberty, German National Socialism, John Kenneth Galbraith: Statist Advocate, Liberalism: The Procrustean Brand, Slaves to Socialism, and The Addictive Power of Liberal-Socialism.
Welfare-State Socialism • (3) Comments
Print this Article • Email A Friend • Permalink
Iraq Policy and Public Opinion
With mounting stridency, news media demand to know why President Bush fails to bow to public opinion expressed in the recent Congressional elections and pull our troops out of Iraq.
The underlying assumption is that public opinion, expressed in elections or opinion polls, in all cases represents truth and wisdom. As I wrote in The Limitations of Public Opinion, such is seldom the case when complex policy matters are the subject of those opinions.
The stock market, for example, gives us a daily, broad spectrum opinion poll reflecting the outlook for business. Obviously, however, very few people have the knowledge and resources to become rich and to keep their wealth over time simply through knowing what composite market opinion is at any given time.
Similarly, as Plato noted in downgrading uninformed opinion as a guide for policy, when someone is seriously ill, he seeks expert medical advice. Most people would agree with him that it is nonsense to go into the streets to poll random strangers for their opinions about what medical treatment should be prescribed.
Why then should we insist that voters’ opinions set our foreign policy, in Iraq, or anywhere else?
David Broder, the ?minence grise of Washington Post columnists, wrote in a column dated December 14, 2006,
This is hardly the first time I have been reminded that people of high standing in the political community can be unfamiliar to most voters. When Richard Lugar of Indiana, for two decades the leading Republican Senate voice on foreign policy and a widely admired statesman, entered the 1996 Republican presidential race, no one in New Hampshire seemed to have heard of him.
The reason in both cases is that the national political press corps does not see its responsibility to spotlight all the people vying for the presidential nominations. Rather, our tendency is to narrow the field as quickly as possible and define who we think the “serious” candidates may be.
These early judgments are based on polls, financial reports and what I would call the “buzz” factor of novelty or excitement.
Here is the key quotation from his column:
But polls are unreliable when those surveyed know almost nothing about the candidates.
The only thing that most American know about our involvement in Iraq is that around 3,000 Americans have been killed there since the invasion.
Most voters know nothing about the geopolitical stakes or the intricate interrelations among the contending powers in the Middle East. Most have not the foggiest idea of what consequences almost surely would follow, were we to withdraw our troops as House Speaker-designate Pelosi and Congressman Murtha demanded.
New Deal liberalism in the 1930s transformed the media into the the creator and shaper of public morality.? Whatever ?wrong? the media chooses to publicize and whatever ?remedy? it chooses to support tends to become public opinion.? As Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., (and Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels) said, there being no independent standards of truth or morality, truth is whatever wins out in the marketplace.
Liberal-socialist-progressive doctrine became so-called mainstream opinion only as recently as the New Deal in the 1930s. The simple fact of the matter is that the ?mainstream? worshipped by left-wing media is socialism, running as fast as it can, away for the Jeffersonian individualism of our original Constitution.
And when public opinion in that sense is the mode of government, with no value placed on respect for morality, religion, and tradition, we are under the sway of Tocqueville?s tyranny of the majority. This, of course, is the process we saw when throngs blocked public streets to demand ?constitutional rights? for illegal immigrants.
A basic tenet of liberal-socialist-progressive, mainstream opinion is that wars are caused by capitalist greed. Thus the invasion of Iraq was, in liberal opinion, concocted (Bush “lied”)to enrich large corporations that contribute money to Republican politicians.
Liberals point out that socialist policies of the New Deal, even though ineffective in ending the Depression, were widely popular. Changing public opinion, in liberal orthodoxy, is a legitimate way to “amend” the Constitution and far simpler than the procedure prescribed in Article V.
Never mind that Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution confers the executive powers of the Federal government upon the President and grants him authority as commander of our armed forces in time of war. Newly minted ?mainstream? opinion is to be accepted by the executive branch and the Federal judiciary as having superceded the words of the Constitution.
Unfortunately, popular opinion as the basis for political legitimacy cuts both ways.
In a society supposedly based on the rule of law, it is not sufficient that large numbers, even a majority, of Americans support policies that damage the Constitution. The same criterion would have legitimized the National Socialist subjugation of Europe by Adolph Hitler, who was enthusiastically supported by the opinion of forty million Germans.
If the only sanction necessary for public policy is volatile public opinion, then there is no need for a Constitution. Constitutions by definition embody the unchanging, underlying principles of political society. The checks and balances of our Constitution were intended precisely to forestall mob action, to prevent short-run public opinion from becoming the determinant of public policy.
Media & Opinion • (10) Comments
Print this Article • Email A Friend • Permalink
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
New Website Features
All postings now have two new function links at the bottom of each article. One is for producing a printable page; the other for emailing the article to a friend.
I’ve been searching unsuccessfully a long time for ready-made plug-ins. Happily I found a terrific software group who have produced these new features and straightened out another formatting problem.
LS Media in Wilton, Connecticut (1-866-351-4678) are very professional, easy to work with, and fast. I recommend them highly.