This explains why Obama is scrambling around the White House trying to find the receipt for its purchase…
HatTip, photo and translation brought to you by SimplyJews.
Ockham’s Razor – Since October 2001 – by Scott Kirwin
Archive for the ‘War’ Category.
This explains why Obama is scrambling around the White House trying to find the receipt for its purchase…
HatTip, photo and translation brought to you by SimplyJews.
In his article Vladimir Putin, Russian Neo-Con Atlantic contributing editor Peter Beinart takes neo-cons to task for exhibiting the same focus on military strength and ignoring economic power as Vladimir Putin. “In his approach to foreign policy, Vladimir Putin has a lot in common with those very American hawks (or “neocons” in popular parlance) who revile him most.”
Neo-cons revile Putin the most? Seriously? Beinart clearly doesn’t understand neo-cons at all.
To put it bluntly hawks respect other hawks not doves.
Neo-cons don’t revile Putin. Sure they think he’s a warmongering Russian leader who must be confronted by a strong American and European response, but “revile” him? Absolutely not. The neo-cons see Putin as a man who has been dealt a very poor hand but who has played it brilliantly. He has maintained power in a country with more ethnic, racial, political, economic, and social fault lines than any other nation on the planet. His opponents are vastly richer than his nation, yet he has been able to divide them in ways that are diabolical or brilliant depending on your perspective. America has the largest standing army on the planet yet Putin has managed to hold it at bay in Syria, and is able to bully and invade his neighbors with impunity as shown in Georgia in 2008 and in Ukraine today.
This doesn’t mean that neo-cons want to see Putin win in Ukraine or Syria. They still want to see him defeated. But in Putin they see a man who thinks like they do, who feels a deep sense of duty to his country and is willing to do whatever it takes to make his country great again. They may disagree with his actions, but they don’t question his motives.
Neo-cons revile the likes of President Obama and his administration. They detest the thinking so prominent in academia here and among European statesmen that the solution to every problem can be resolved through talking, and that war is an anachronism with no place in the modern world. They hate the assumption that underlays the thinking of the western intelligentsia, that nationalism is dead and borders are the last impediment to a new transnational utopia. And they especially loathe the attitude that words matter more than actions; Obama’s empty rhetoric is despised much more than Putin’s use of his military.
The truth is that if neo-cons could find an American version of Vladimir Putin they would do whatever it took to put him in the White House. Thanks to Putin people fear Russia in ways they no longer fear the United States, a fact that progressives who detest neo-cons don’t quite understand because they don’t see the world as Putin and the neo-cons see it: a zero sum game with winners and losers. Putin will do what it takes to see that Russia wins, and neo-cons respect that.
Homeland Security snipers pointing their rifles at frightened residents during a drug bust in New York is just another in a string of incidents where police use military tactics against an American civilian population. The Economist has a story discussing the militarization of the police, and it couldn’t come at more important time. Sooner or later someone is going to get hurt.
Evidently that’s sooner. The Economist reports 50 innocent people have been killed in “no knock” raids by the police, including 92 year old Kathryn Johnston who in 2006 confronted police with a pistol in her house after they smashed the door down. The cops shot her five times then planted marijuana in her house. It turns out they lied to get the no-knock warrant.
As a libertarian with a strong conservative streak I am very suspicious of the police yet supportive of their actions in general. I worry about their mindset that separates them from the general population to create an “us vs. them” attitude which can become self-fulfilling while at the same time recognize that bad guys often have access to the same firepower cops do. I worry about police taking away my rights and the rights of my teen age son, yet am thankful they are always just a phone call away. It’s a tough balance for me, so I can understand how it would be for a cop.
I don’t deny the police have a tough job. I wouldn’t want it. But if they are going to start viewing themselves as an occupying force they need to repaint their cars to blot out the “serve and protect” motto and replace it with a Judge Dredd quote, “I am The Law.” Each officer, each department needs to ask, do they want to create a police state for their children and grandchildren? Is this why they joined the police force in the first place?
So this is what a weak America looks like. President Obama issues threats to the Russians over their takeover of the Crimea, and they respond with laughter. Crimean Prime Minister Sergey Aksyonov tweets a picture of Obama wearing a Russian lieutenant’s uniform.
A Russian news anchor states, “Russia is the only country in the world realistically capable of turning the United States into radioactive ash.” Pundits on the Left and Right, in Europe and the US see no way for the administration and its western allies to respond. Now Ukraine watches nervously with 60,000 Russian troops on its borders, awaiting Vladimir Putin’s next move. There is no downside to whatever it is. Putin can send the troops to take the Ukraine by force and nothing will stop him. The EU will fume, and the President will make another phone call, but nothing will stop him.
Putin has a once in a century shot at rebuilding the Russian empire at no cost. He’d be stupid to stop now. Not only Ukraine is at play, the entire former Warsaw Pact is now up for grabs. The Baltic states of Latvia and Estonia can’t resist Russian pressure, and neither can Poland. Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. The promise of 1989, of freedom and democracy for half a continent that had known nothing but war followed by repression, is threatened by a Russia that laughs at Western sanctions and posts photoshopped pictures of the American president. Oh, and one shouldn’t forget that it is also home to 4,500 nuclear warheads, so that comment about turning America into radioactive ash is not hyperbole.
For decades the Left has detested American exceptionalism. Starting after World War 2 and supported by the KGB, the Left has demanded America unilaterally disarm. Every movement the United States made to protect Europe was resisted by leftist parliamentarians, student protests and protestors chaining themselves to the gates of American military bases. European bureaucrats condoned this anti-Americanism while at the same time relied upon the American soldiers stationed at these bases as well as the political leadership in Washington DC that was willing to use them.
Now one of those Leftists sits in the White House. He has unilaterally withdrawn American forces from Iraq and now does the same with Afghanistan. Around the world American forces are being cut back to pre-World War 2 levels, replacing American soldiers with rhetoric. He has led an administration that rewards American adversaries like Russia, Iran and China, and punishes its friends like the UK and Israel. In short he has acted like conservatives expected him to act: gutting the military, weakening America and its alliances, and encouraging its foes. Putin’s actions in the Ukraine merely reflect this new reality.
Some leftists, particularly the more ideologically pure, will see these events in a positive light. A humbled America is the final bulwark standing between transnational socialism so its demise at the hands of one of their own will usher in the the triumph of socialist intellectual thought over capitalist avarice. The fact that China and Russia, two of the largest remaining socialist powers on the planet, are preparing to reap the benefits of the end of Pax Americana is as it should be.
The problem with this train of thought, perhaps perceived clearly by the Leftists in Europe, is that neither Russia nor China are true socialist states. Russia is controlled by the basest form of crony capitalism, with the oligarchs siding with Vladimir Putin reaping the state’s largess at the expense of the masses, before shuttling it off to offshore banks in Switzerland. China too is not very socialist. The people do not own the means of production unless you specify the term “people” to mean the children of party leaders. In fact China today has one of the purest forms of capitalism around, more akin to Britain during the industrial revolution and America a century ago as opposed to some communist utopia. In fifty years it’s more likely to look like 20th century America than some sort of Marxist paradise.
Since World War 2 some European states like Sweden and Denmark have crafted socialist paradises, and others like Germany, France and the UK have pursued socialist policies that now find themselves threatened by Russia. Russia controls 30% of the natural gas flowing to the continent, and has shown the willingness to use this resource as a weapon in the past. There is nothing to stop it from doing so in the future, which would destabilize these socialist-leaning European states through higher energy prices. With the Ukraine crisis proving NATO to be a paper-tiger, the continent lays ripe for the picking for Putin and his kleptocrats. The only realistic constraint on Russia is logistical: Putin doesn’t have enough men-at-arms or the ability to project force with lengthy supply lines.
In less than 3 years time America will replace the leftist in chief with another leader. Can Europe hold off Putin until then? The likely butt in the Oval Office chair will either belong to Hillary Clinton, a woman whose political experience helped create this problem with Russia in the first place, or Rand Paul, a neo-isolationist libertarian. Either case would mean the American Calvary wouldn’t be charging anytime soon to save Europe for a third time in a century.
Europe is on its own and will be for the foreseeable future. It will have to deal with Mr. Putin on his terms. For decades European lefties have dreamed of a weak America and it has succeeded. President Obama has taken a 300 lb man who was respected and feared and turned him into a 90lb weakling respected by no one, the laughing stock of the international community. It will be interested to watch how the Continent handles this blessing. At the very least, the Germans and Swedes better hope they don’t have any Russian-speaking minorities.
Update: Did Russian Intelligence Promote Obama from Lieutenant to Colonel? Personally I think his behavior warrants a promotion for the devotion he has shown to the Motherland.
Russian leaders have many qualities but unpredictability isn’t one of them. Events unfolding in the Ukraine have followed a pattern blazed by Soviet tanks crushing rebellions in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia 12 years later. The only question at this point is where will they stop?
Any world leader that reacts with surprise over recent events in the Crimea, the appearance of soldiers wearing uniforms without insignia outside of airports, then the appearance of similarly clad men at other key facilities in the peninsula, followed by a formal request for Russian troops by the puppet authorities put into place by the men in the insignia-less uniforms, should be immediately impeached. Since his rise to power Vladimir Putin has acted the way one would expect the former head of the KGB in Soviet times to act. Putin sees the world in zero sum, Cold War era terms, and has acted accordingly.
While the US and Europe viewed the Cold War as long over, Putin evidently failed to get the memo. George W. Bush believed his personal relationship with “Pootie-Poot” would help him in his global war against terrorism. Putin provided little support, instead bolstering socialist regimes in Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela, capping off 2008 with an invasion of the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. By then relations with Russia had deteriorated to the point where Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised a reset of relations with the Kremlin, blaming the problems with Russia on the Bush administration. Putin acted accordingly, helping Iran develop its nuclear capabilities. Missing an opportunity to bolster the Libyan regime of Mohamar Khadaffi, Putin didn’t pass up the chance when the Arab Spring swept into Syria. While the West dithered over the support of rebels against Bashir Assad’s regime, Russia didn’t hold back. It provided money and diplomatic cover for the regime in the United Nations, the favorite playground for the post-Cold War thinkers proliferating in the West, and did the same for Assad’s primary backer Iran.
For those of us educated during the Cold War, none of this is surprising or new. Of course Obama and his crew were all educated during the Cold War as well, but evidently they were educated into believing the US was the reason the Soviets did the things they did. Such an attitude also manifests itself in what is called “beaten spouse syndrome” where an abused person believes he or she can control the abuser if only he or she did the right thing. This attitude is narcissistic, fantasy-based and wrong.
The control the US had against the Soviets was blunt. Brute force, mountains of men and material and lots of cash. Truman used it in Berlin in 1948, and for the next 40 years this power was wielded by his successors with varying degrees of effectiveness. That was pretty much it. Every word we said was backed up by the use of force. It was a simple language originating from the dawn of Time and the Soviets understood it.
Now Putin and his Soviet-era thinking has confronted Obama and his liberal idealist philosophy. And the winner? Well… The Russians still control most of Georgia. Iran is still refining uranium. Syria still has its chemical weapons. And the Ukraine is experiencing the same type of fear and hysteria Czechoslovakia felt in 1968.
A famous Democrat once said, “No man can tame a tiger by stroking it.” Before him one of his relatives once cautioned, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” These lessons have been lost on Obama and his minions who have lived in their comfy cocoons for too long. They are about to be schooled by Putin and the Russians, and this time Obama’s transcripts will be there for everyone to see.
There is nothing short of full-out war that Obama and the European leaders can do about Putin’s annexation of the Crimea. Putin knows the West has no stomach for war, so it will acquiesce to his aggression. Then the question is, where should Putin stop?
From a realpolitik standpoint, I see no reason why Putin should not fan his forces northward out of the Crimea to liberate Ukraine. At this point the only hindrances would be logistical. Do his forces have enough supplies to make it to Kiev? My guess is that local resistance would be miniscule in the countryside, and that most small and medium sized towns would side with the Russians. Only in Kiev would the Ukrainian regime be able to mount any type of notable resistance, and that could be handled through deals with many of the Ukrainian oligarchs supporting the regime. With Russia in control of the countryside, funding in-fighting and supplying anti-regime forces inside Kiev while laying a de facto siege to the city, resistance wouldn’t take long to overcome. Putin then could sweep away the current regime, promise elections in the fall to give a veneer of Democracy to the re-installation of a pro-Russian regime. This playbook was written in Eastern Europe after World War 2.
Will he stop with Ukraine? Success breeds success which is another way of saying people get greedy. I have no idea, but I’m reminded of something said long ago after another “surprise” annexation in Europe. When Chamberlain returned from Munich, Winston Churchill said, “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.” Obama and the Europeans have shown their dishonor, and as a result the likelihood of war next week is much greater than it was last week.
There’s a song I like that has a verse, “Fortune presents gifts not according to the book. When you expect whistles it’s flutes. When you expect flutes it’s whistles.” I hear that song a lot these days even as life becomes extremely predictable. Obama makes another speech and continues to avoid the consequences of his actions. Another prominent opponent of the administration gets arrested or audited by the IRS and the media yawns. The stock market rising to greater heights even as middle class wages stagnate.
But as the song goes, when you expect one thing, be prepared for something else completely different. And that something just might be a war with tanks, missiles, ships and men in uniform, a conventional war after years of asymmetric guerrilla-style conflicts in Somalia, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Such a war would be fought on a scale not seen since World War 2, with tactics, technologies and weapons that have not seen mass usage since their inception, wielded by soldiers who have grown up in societies where “shared sacrifice” doesn’t go beyond recycling garbage.
For decades Americans have been conditioned to dealing with far-away threats that are small and because of their size, manageable. It was easy to sympathize with the Vietcong as many on the Left did during the 1960s and 1970s when the VC posed more of an existential threat to Saigon than San Francisco. Even today when those like me proclaim the threat posed by radical Islam, the potential of such a threat lies in one-off terrorist attacks and the long-term danger posed by the acceptance of the normality of Islam, due to our culture’s chauvinistic belief in moral relativism, than in cruise missiles striking targets in Washington DC or airstrikes in Los Angeles. Such ideas are almost unthinkable except as fodder for movies like Red Dawn or video games like Call of Duty: Ghosts.
We have lived for generations expecting whistles. Tin-horn dictators causing trouble in small, far away countries. The occasional terrorist attack by radicals, or some despotic regime stirring up trouble like North Korea. What happens when Fortune decides to present us with flutes instead?
If one listens carefully you can hear the high pitch whispering sound in the air emanating from the West. For centuries China has felt disrespected by its neighbors and bullied by the West. Today it is enjoying power and prosperity on a relative scale that hasn’t been experienced since the 17th century. But that economic might hasn’t translated into the military variety, and in some minds it cannot truly be freed from its past unless China takes its place as a military superpower. For many that means a return to a bygone era when China was the center of the world, and all states, especially those at its periphery, bowed to it.
And that time has come. The states at its borders are currently weak and in disarray. The United States is being eclipsed in economic, diplomatic, and military power by the Chinese regime, its president weak and timid. The next two to three years represent the best time for China to act with force and grasp its destiny. After that countries like Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines will have rebuilt their defenses enough to resist Chinese advances, and America will likely replace an appeaser like Obama with a Republican warmongerer the way Reagan followed Carter over 30 years ago.
There are three likely scenarios:
1. Forceful Unification of Taiwan – The Chinese have been building up their amphibious attack capabilities as well as locating several large missile bases across the Taiwan Straits for decades. During the same time they have infiltrated all levels of the government and military making it likely that a cross-straits invasion would be firmly ensconced on Taiwanese soil before any adequate response would be mounted by the Taiwanese government or military.
Then there’s the question of America. Would the Americans go to war over Taiwan? Much has been written about the defense treaty between the United States and Taiwan, but like all treaties, they are only as good so far as the treaty partners are willing to abide by them. The Taiwanese themselves expect an invasion within the next six years and believe the US would be defeated by China even if it did respond. Given the propaganda that would pour out of Beijing, it’s sycophants in European capitals, and its agents in the US all touting the invasion as an internal matter between Chinese, it is unlikely the US would go to war with China over Taiwan at all. The Chinese know this. The Taiwanese suspect this, and the Obama administration won’t admit this.
Diplomats like to state something to the effect that with all the cross-border trade and personal ties between Taipei and Beijing there is no need for a war to forcefully reunify China. Aside from similar attitudes towards Germany in the 1930’s, this ignores the problems of different elites ruling Beijing and Taipei. The princes who run mainland China, the scions and heirs of Communist revolutionary leaders, are not the same people who run Taiwan. Simply put there isn’t room for both in a reunited China, and it’s unlikely the Taiwanese elite, the scions and heirs of the Nationalists who fled China, would allow themselves to be ruled by the sons and grandsons of the enemies of their parents and grandparents. For elites survival is a zero-sum game, and it is likely to be the case with China and Taiwan. War will be the only way to decide who survives and who is forced into posh and comfortable European exile.
It’s not so much about economics or even territory anymore given that most of Taiwan’s investment is in mainland China. It’s about righting a wrong in the eyes of mainland Chinese nationalists. An independent Taiwan is as much an affront and humiliation to Chinese nationalists as the takeover of the American embassy in Teheran in 1979 was for Americans, except the embassy takeover lasted only 444 days while Taiwanese independence has lasted 65 years. Just because Americans have the attention spans of gnats with ADHD they shouldn’t assume the Chinese are the same. What happened in 1949 is just as important to them today as it was in 1949, just as the treatment at the hands of the European powers, and the United States, in the 19th century is as real and important today as it was yesterday, the day before or a 100 years ago. The Chinese have a memory that is just as long as their 5,000 years of history. Americans must remember that.
2. Small Battles Over Disputed Territories - China seems to make claims and demands of its neighbors on a daily, seemingly ad hoc basis. So far no lives have been lost, but it’s only a matter of time before China pushes its luck and a Philippine frigate or a Vietnamese “fishing boat” decides to push back. Such disputes are expected to be more common as China builds up its military and it’s neighbors do the same. While the scale of these confrontations will be small, and the likelihood of a unified aggressive response small, particularly from the United States, over time China will have seized what it covets at the expense of turning east and south Asia into the most heavily armed region in the world.
3. Full-Scale Sino-Japanese War – A small skirmish over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands could easily lead to full-scale war between the second and fourth largest economies in the world. Such a conflict is the least likely of these three scenarios to occur but it also stands as the most dangerous. An attack on Japanese soil by China could not be portrayed as a civil matter between participants as would be the case for an invasion of Taiwan. The Japanese response would also be much faster since Chinese spy capabilities to disrupt command and control in Japan through the spreading of disinformation and sabotage are nowhere near as developed as they are in Taiwan or even Europe and the United States. The Japanese ability to change their collective minds and act accordingly seemingly in the blink of an eye has been shown numerous times, beginning in the Meiji Period when the Japanese embraced modernity and embarked on transforming their feudal country into a modern nation, to the rise of the military junta in the 1930s that united the country in the war effort, to the post-war period when shared sacrifice rebuilt a country ravaged by the deprivations of war. Even more recently the rebound in Kobe after the 1995 earthquake and the effort to rebuild after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster show how quickly Japanese society can mobilize and work together on a common goal.
This ability to change and the national resilience it represents is unlikely to be adequately appreciated by Chinese military strategists. Pacifism has pervaded Japanese culture since the end of World War 2, and on the surface it’s difficult for foreigners to understand how Japan could turn away from it. But this ignores a basic fact: they’ve done it before, in the days after Hiroshima and Nagasaki were smoking ruins. They can easily slip back into a more militaristic stance.
Finally there is always a 4th option: a Black Swan that by definition cannot be foreseen, but could involve North Korea in some way shape or form. Also this analysis ignores South Korea, which at this time finds itself in the middle between China and the US and could play an important role in any conflict in the region. Additionally I don’t mention Russia since it is a weak player in the region.
In the past I have talked about the Chinese point of view of seeing the world in zero-sum terms. It is impossible for Chinese nationalists to believe that China can rise without other nations falling. Such nationalism has been out of favor for so long in the West that it’s difficult to see the world in these terms, yet our failure of imagination should not blind us to the forces motivating China as it takes its place as the world’s hyperpower. Regardless of what Sinophiles like myself and others want to believe about China, it is only the reality that counts. And the reality is that China’s rise is no longer peaceful, and the consequences will likely return the world to its default state of war.
NSA officials are considering amnesty for Edward Snowden in exchange for the remaining documents he has in his possession. I don’t think much of Edward Snowden. I’ve called him an idealist and by extension an idiot. But I also don’t think much about an organization that allowed a low-level government contractor access to what the NSA official investigating the theft of secrets called “the keys to the kingdom.”
I’m still trying to wrap my head around an organization that vacuumed up everyone’s personal data in all its forms – phone calls, blog posts, emails, chats – then allowed a low-level contractor access to its methodology and processes for doing it. Either the NSA is lying for some reason only the readers of John Le Carre novel would understand and Snowden doesn’t have such an important cache of data, or he does and the NSA is so desperate it will do anything to get the data back. The Machiavellian inside believes the former but the IT worker in Fortune 500 companies believes the latter. Bureaucracies do stupid stuff all the time, and while it’s possible this is all some kind of kabuki theater meant to mislead Russian and Chinese intelligence sources, Hanlon’s Razor leaves me believing Snowden did in fact do what he says he did and the bureaucrats in the NSA are busy pouring over procedures and decision trees trying to figure out how to handle it.
Regardless I believe Snowden should get amnesty in exchange for what he knows. Allow him to return to the US without fear and sit in front of the House Intelligence Committee to explain how he did what he did. Televise the hearings and let everyone including the Russian and Chinese intelligence agencies know what he knows. Give him the soapbox he craves, and then when he steps down let him slip away into obscurity. Don’t give him a fiery send off like Michael Hastings, it’s not worth feeding the conspiracy trolls on the Internet. Leave him alone.
But as he’s speaking and hogging the limelight, change the locks on the kingdom and hide the keys in a place where the peasants can’t get hold of them.
American diplomacy is a mess. Much of this can be blamed on the current administration who came into power believing they were different from the previous ones, gifted with talent and intelligence their predecessors lacked. But the truth is American diplomacy has always been a mess because honestly, we suck at it.
Having the ability to talk your way to get what you want is only useful for someone who is weak. In the hundred years or so after America’s founding when it was relatively weak to the Great Powers in Europe, we were far enough from the fray to not really matter, and the Europeans only took interest of us when they thought they could use us in their schemes against their primary European opponent. Thankfully American administrations heeded Washington’s advice to avoid foreign entanglements, and were content with expanding power across the continent. At our weakest point, the years of the Civil War, when the European powers had the opportunity to sway the outcome of the war, it was only a blunder by Confederate President Jefferson Davis to bully the European powers using cotton exports to European textile mills as his primary bargaining chip to attain diplomatic recognition of the Confederate states, and the Union’s more benign and positive support of free trade and past military cooperation with Britain and France that convinced these powers to stay out of the fray. Had Davis been more diplomatic and the European powers more interested in the goings on across the Atlantic, chances are good I’d be writing from my seat in the Confederate States of America.
Things changed after America achieved its “manifest destiny” of spreading across the continent, and began following in the footsteps of the European powers in constructing an empire. During this time diplomacy didn’t matter; what mattered was brute force and the ability to wield it, first in Mexico then throughout the Central America and the Caribbean as it displaced first France and later Spain. But America came late to the game, so its empire was small and inconsequential compared to the great empires of France and Great Britain, and the world wars that followed in the 20th century exposed the danger of empire building as well as the limitations of diplomacy. The Europeans chewed the fat with Hitler for years and it didn’t stop him from taking over continental Europe. Had Neville Chamberlain advised the King to select Lord Halifax, whom he liked and was the popular choice at the time, instead of the unflappable Winston Churchill, it’s quite possible Hitler would have held it.
Americans came closest to learning the art of diplomacy during the Cold War when military supremacy was far from assured while mutual destruction was. This was a decades long learning curve, and during that time the Soviet Union and the United States stood at the brink of war, most notably during the Cuban Missile Crisis. But these lessons have limited value in today’s world where there is no superpower to challenge us. Worse, the Cold War proved the Soviets were “rational actors”, something that isn’t assured by countries like North Korea, Iran or terrorist organizations like al Qaeda.
American foreign policy in the Middle East has never been handled well. After World War 2 America imported British policies in the region, then tailored them to fit the realities of the Cold War. These policies favored stable dictatorships that were either friendly enough to host America forces sent to guarantee the West’s oil supply, or at least were friendly enough not to host Soviet forces. The Soviets weren’t stupid, of course, and the rise of Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt who assumed a neutral stance towards the superpowers offered them an opportunity to expand their influence throughout the Arab world. Although officially non-aligned, the Egyptians followed policies that for all intents and purposes matched those of the Soviets, provoking the Eisenhower administration to isolate Nasser by supporting the Saudis as a counter-weight in the region. Thus began the alliance between the Saudis and the Americans, an alliance that has dictated policies by both governing parties over the next 50 years.
Has this policy benefited the United States? The Saudi monarchy and its supporting administrations have proven to be master diplomats. They’ve had to be because they have a valuable resource in a dangerous area and have limited means to defend it. The Saudis took power in the Arab peninsula by first co-opting the Wahhabi preachers prevalent in the area, then kept them under control by providing them a portion of the oil wealth they could use to spread their version of Islam around the world.
Wahhabi Islam is the most intolerant religious sect in the modern world. Imagine the Westboro Baptist Church with tens of millions of followers and billions of dollars yearly at its disposal, and even this analogy is limited due to the WBC’s non-violent teachings compared to the exhortations to violence that regularly appear in Wahhibi sermons and commentary. Yes WBC hold signs at military funerals stating “God Hates Fags,” but they don’t execute suspected homosexuals as the Wahhabis do.
Islam is a conversion-based religion, spreading throughout Asia and Africa and laying siege to Christian Eur0pe first in Spain and later in Eastern Europe. As Islam spread it changed as most conversion based religions do, incorporating customs and traditions of the natives, thereby making it more desirable to the locals at the expense of doctrine. Also lacking a central authority unlike Christianity, numerous strains of Islam appeared, making the Islam of Indonesia different from the Islam of India, which was different from the Islam of Iran which itself differed from the Islam of the Arab nations.
The Wahhabis took their opportunity to re-establish purity and achieve Mohammed’s dream of a global Caliphate by sending well-funded (thanks to Saudi money) missionaries to set up Wahhabi mosques and schools throughout the world, paying special attention to countries with large communities of Muslims. The Wahhabi missionaries would arrive in a community flush with cash, then set up a new mosque and madrassa preaching Wahhabi teachings. These mosques and schools could provide education and services that outcompeted the existing mosques and schools since these relied upon local funding to survive. The result has been the radicalizing of Muslims in previously multi-religious societies throughout Africa and Asia. Countries where Muslims and Christians had lived intermingled for years suddenly experienced religious strife such as has happened in Indonesia and most recently Kenya and Tanzania.
American foreign policy seems filled with ironies, and none is perhaps as ironic as the fact that the United States supported the Saudis to fight the existential threat of communism during the Cold War, only to create the existential threat of religious intolerance-bred terrorism.
The only thing that has kept Saudi Arabia from appearing on the list of states sponsors of terrorism has been its alliance with the United States. This alliance goes very deep, and the likelihood of its rupture is minimal. The Saudis have built deep personal ties with American leaders in politics, business and academia in their effort to sway American policy to favor their kingdom. The relationship has weathered Saudi sponsored terror attacks including 9-11 and the funding of Sunni militias in Iraq that killed hundreds of American soldiers. So far these ties and the influence that comes with it have convinced the Americans to defend Saudi Arabia from Saddam in Iraq and an Iranian regime seeking nuclear weapons. In a private comment released by Wikileaks former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said the Saudis were willing to fight the Iranians to the last American, yet American leaders have been more than willing to give Saudi Arabia a pass on its sponsorship of terrorism while focusing on such sponsorship by its Shiite nemesis Iran.
Into this complicated situation America has elected its most inexperienced, arrogant and incompetent leader since before the Civil War. The Obama administration’s policy failures in the Middle East, from its failure to secure the peace in Iraq, through its naïve support of the Arab Spring to the gross mishandling of the civil war in Syria has destabilized the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States. The selection of Hassan Rouhani as president of Iran has presented a tempting diplomatic opportunity for the United States, one that President Obama seems to be entertaining, as Rouhani makes tempting noises in the press about normalized relations with the West.
Is a normalized relationship with Iran worth entertaining? First, there is no doubt that Iran is a sponsor of terrorism, whether through its own Revolutionary Guard or through its support of Hezbollah. There also is no doubt Iran has American blood on its hands. But Shi’a Islam is nowhere near as intolerant a sect of Islam as Wahhabi Islam. Iran is much more tolerant of other faiths than Saudi Arabia, and has not built an industry out of sponsoring mosques and madrassas to inspire hatred of other faiths and sects. Traditionally Shi’a Islam also has something roughly akin to a separation between Church and State, something that the Ayatollah Khomeini and his successor the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei have downplayed in order to maintain clerical supremacy of Iranian society. In the long run it is unlikely that Iran would present the existential threat to the United States that the Saudis have through their support of Wahhabism, and would likely be more amenable to taking a slower track towards nuclear weapons.
This is what Obama likely sees, and its a vision that in the eyes of a worthy leader could change history for the better. But Obama is not that leader.
Obama is desperate for success, and like any man who is desperate he will reach for anything. The Iranians know this which is why they are making gestures towards the current administration. They smell Obama’s desperation, and see an easy opportunity to separate the United States from its traditional Saudi and Israeli allies. They will negotiate from a position of strength, guaranteeing any diplomatic successes will only be attained through great cost by American negotiators.Is the Saudi relationship on the table? Perhaps not wholesale but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to put some daylight between the Saudis along with the Israelis and the American regime.
Given this administration’s track record, such offers should not be surprising. Look at the deal Putin got out of the President. The diplomatic community hasn’t seen a come-down like that since Carter tried rescuing the hostages in 1980. Obama’s idea of political horsetrading is making a speech. He’d be unable to get a good deal on a used car lot let alone in the international arena where regimes like the Saudis, Israel and Iran are fighting for their very existences.
There will come a time when America can strike a deal with Iran that will benefit both nations, but now is not that time. Such a time will only come when the situation is reversed, when America is negotiating from a position of strength and the Iranians are weak. Such a deal would likely see the United States freed from Saudi influence of its policies, allowing it to see the existential threat that the oil rich kingdom has unleashed on the world for what it is. Such an event would inevitably lead to the downfall of the House of Saud which is the policy Americans should have been pursuing all along since the end of the Cold War.
Now is not that time.
UPDATE: As usual Michael Totten explains why we should “Beware Persian Leaders with Masks” better than me, pointing out that Rouhani is not the leader of Iran: “Seriously, getting excited about Rouhani is a like foreign heads of state swooning when the United States gets a new Senate Majority Leader.”
1. I do not believe the US should fight wars for Saudi Arabia. By sponsoring Wahhabi Islam throughout the world our supposed “ally” in the Middle East should be treated as an enemy. If we cannot recognize that truth, the least we can do is allow it to fight its own battles. It has plenty of money to send suicide bombers to Syria. Let them martyr themselves there. Better Damascus than Denver.
2. I do not trust this administration to wage war. I do not believe Obama and his advisors understand warfare. Judging by their actions they have shown complete ignorance of the concept. Has anyone in the administration read Machiavelli, Clausewitz or Sun Tzu? For a bunch of supposedly smart people they sure have acted stupidly. If one has any doubt, look at Libya, Afghanistan and post-Bush Iraq.
3. I do not want America to become al Qaeda’s air force. There was a time two years ago when there were good guys (of a sort) among the rebels, but the administration ignored them, choosing instead to do nothing and hope the problem would go away.
4. I do not believe the US should attack a nation solely to protect Obama’s prestige. American prestige has already been decimated by the unprofessional statecraft of this administration. It cannot go much lower. President Obama made his bed, he should lie in it – for the next 3 years.
5. I do not believe the US should be the world’s policeman. I do not think one should have to apologize when a nation acts in its own best interest. That’s what nations are supposed to do. Regimes that don’t usually don’t last very long. The US has an interest in preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons, and intervention two years ago might have convinced the mullahs that we meant business and encouraged them to pursue peaceful nuclear development. But that line of reasoning has already been lost; the Iranians view American threats as empty so it will be up to the US to prove that otherwise sometime in the future. Unfortunately for the Syrian people that time is not now. The US has no interest to protect by intervening in their country. There is no rebel movement to back, no clear replacement to Assad besides fanaticism and chaos in the heart of the Middle East. While I personally empathize with the suffering of the Syrian people, I do not believe my people should sacrifice for them. Sad perhaps but true.
Over the past five years I have watched the collapse of American prestige in the world. I have come to terms with this loss, recognizing that such things are reversible and that a new administration will one day take over and reverse the decline. But as we learned during the Carter era, reinforced by Reagan’s retreat from Lebanon after 242 US Marines were killed in 1983 and later Clinton’s Somalia fiasco, such a loss resonates into the future. The prime example of this was Osama Bin Laden’s recognition of these failures as signs of America’ s loss of will, making it the “weak horse” which would collapse by the addition of a grain of salt on its back. One by one grains were added, the 1993 WTC attack, the Khobar bombings in Saudi Arabia, the Embassy Bombings of 1998, and the USS Cole attack of 2000, and the horse failed to fall. The 9-11 attacks were just more of the same, more grains of salt added to the horse’s back from Bin Laden’s perspective. But instead of collapsing under the strain Bin Laden’s metaphor collapsed, and he and his organization found itself on the defensive against a determined foe, one that eventually turned him into fish food in the Indian Ocean.
We are repeating history, and in this sequel we are much closer in time to Carter’s 1980 failed hostage rescue mission than we are to Tora Bora. President Obama’s core belief that words matter, that diplomacy can solve every crisis and that the military option is only resorted to by leaders less intelligent than himself, has been shown a failure to everyone outside his inner circle. Over the past 5 years (I include Obama’s promises in the final stage of the 2008 campaign as well as the self-importance he attached to his president-elect status after the 2008 election and before the 2009 inauguration) Obama has used promises and threats instead of deeds and action to guide US foreign policy. There was some success at first as allies took his word for the former and our enemies heeded the latter, but as the world changed the promises weren’t met and the threats weren’t acted upon, our allies became disheartened while our enemies were encouraged. Such mistakes must have come as a surprise to both, to see the most powerful and influential nation on earth run by an administration filled with the best and brightest progressive leaders the country had to offer acting like an impoverished, helpless and morally bankrupt banana republic on the world’s stage.
Nations adjusted accordingly. China has become more aggressive in its territorial claims. North Korea continues to threaten the world with nuclear annihilation with impunity. Iran has taken the success of North Korea to heart and vigorously pursues the Bomb. While the Obama administration spoke about the decimation of al Qaeda, the terrorist organization proved powerful enough to kill an American ambassador, the first in thirty years, take over leadership of the rebellion in Syria, turn Iraq into a killing zone, and scare the administration into closing a score of embassies throughout the Middle East. Not bad for an organization that the administration has said is “on the run.” Clearly al Qaeda accomplishes more in retreat than many armies do on the offensive.
Then there is Russia. It’s ironic that President Obama treats Vladimir Putin as his equal and Russia as a superpower by giving it veto power over American actions in the Middle East and throughout Asia. In effect Obama elevates the status of Russia while subverting American interests abroad. Such actions must demoralize nations in the former Russian sphere of influence like Poland and the Czech Republic, while encouraging our friends in the Middle East such as Israel and Saudi Arabia to begin to cut their own deals with Russia.
Speaking of friends, we once had one in Egypt. It was a typical Middle Eastern friend. It took gobs of money from us then fed the masses a steady diet of anti-American propaganda that encouraged Islamic terrorism. But the Egyptian regime was successful for the most part. It kept itself in power, maintained the peace – albeit a cold one – with Israel, and kept the foreign currency flowing into Egypt from European and American tourists. Make no mistake Hosni Mubarak was no Winston Churchill, and the Egyptian regime never had our back the way Australia always has, but to expect anything more from Arabs in the Middle East requires complete ignorance of the culture and history of the area. Nevertheless the Obama administration and the State Department under the leadership of Hillary Clinton, a woman whose resume highlight for the job included hosting dinners as the First Lady in the White House for eight years, proved through their actions (and inactions) that for all their supposed brilliance, they were at heart as dumb as a box of blocks when it came to Egypt.
First the administration saw the Arab Spring as a revolutionary moment for liberalism in the country, forgetting that Egypt has been ruled throughout its five thousand year history by pharaohs, kings and military juntas when independent and by Rome, the Ottoman Empire or France when not. Although Egypt lacked any democratic culture or institutions, the Obama administration happily threw Hosni Mubarak under the bus, thinking that he would be replaced by a liberal Democrat they had met at a Washington DC state dinner, Mohamed ElBaradei. The Obama administration didn’t understand what was really happening in Egypt during the Arab Spring: the military junta had stopped supporting Mubarak when he attempted to turn over power to his son and make the presidency a dynasty. Elections were held and the masses didn’t vote for a familiar face in the DC dinner circuit; instead they elected the front of a terrorist organization bent on the destruction of Israel and the United States, and the ideological parent organization of both Hamas and al Qaeda.
Maybe the Obama administration and the State Department thought they were dealing with the Egyptian equivalent of Sinn Fein, and that like the IRA in Ireland, the terrorists in Egypt would lay down their arms and take up the ballot box to achieve their aims of global conquest. Many on the Right questioned the administration support for the Brotherhood as being more diabolical, and that some great conspiracy lay behind American support of the Brotherhood even when it became obvious that it was trying to turn Egypt into an Islamic state like Iran. Although I doubt that Obama is a closet Muslim, or that Hillary’s “special friend” Huma Abedin’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood dictated our policy towards Egypt, nothing but sheer stupidity successfully explains our support of the organization as it attempted to wrest control of the state from the military. The military reacted and said “Enough,” taking power away from the Islamists and restoring the status quo of a generation ago when Mubarak ruled Egypt with military support and the Muslim Brotherhood conspired to take power from behind bars. The result of this episode in Middle Eastern foreign policy is the brilliant progressive leaders of the Obama Administration and State Department have angered all sides in Egypt.
For perhaps the first time in his life Obama will be judged not by his words but his actions. No speech he gives will excuse the failure of his leadership on foreign policy, particularly on Syria. It is ironic that the words so prized by Obama and his followers are what has boxed him into a corner in the first place. His team knew the ad libbed term “red line” would prove disastrous. Now he is so desperate he is begging Republicans like former foe Senator John McCain and House Speaker John Boehner to save him. Given the stupidity of the GOP it’s quite possible they just will, providing him the option he needs so that when things get worse in Syria he can blame them. Unlike McCain and Boehner I can live with an America that cannot be trusted by its friends and is no longer feared by its enemies – at least until January 2017. The progressives and Obama believed they knew best and elections have consequences. To paraphrase my late mother-in-law, they chose this path, and they must walk it.
I’m not a conspiracist. For instance I believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acting alone killed President John F. Kennedy, and that two planes piloted by al Qaeda terrorists took down the World Trade Center, no additional explosives required. If the Jews control the world then I’m converting; I’m a bigger Zionist than most Jews anyway. 12 years ago I set up this journal to fight conspiracy theories, naming it after Occam’s Razor which is to conspiracy theories what Raid is to cockroaches: it causes them to flip onto their backs, wave their legs and die.
But the death of reporter Michael Hastings is severely testing my beliefs.
Cars today are controlled by computers. You can access your car’s ECM, electronic control module – it’s computer, through your cars OBD2 port under the dash. I have a $20 Bluetooth module that plugs into the OBD2 port and connects to a program on my smartphone. It allows me to monitor engine performance and read check engine lights. This module has very limited abilities, but is it so difficult to imagine a government agent having one with more extensive capabilities?
An eyewitness saw Hastings’ car fly by him through a red light. Hastings’s Mercedes C250 was brand new and like all new cars has a computer that controls all aspects of the car’s engine performance. Is it possible it was hacked to accelerate after reaching a critical speed, say 35 mph? One of my car’s has a push button start/stop switch, as many of the latest models do. You don’t have to put a metal key into the steering column and turn it to start the engine. The Mercedes C250 can be purchased with an optional “Keyless Go” system – a fancy way of saying a start/stop switch. Did Hastings’ car have that option and did the hack include its disabling? Placed in such a situation, his car traveling at high speed perhaps with brakes and transmission also compromised, how likely is it that Michael Hastings would survive such a crash?
Here’s an example of car hacking so the above scenario is possible. As of today we have no evidence that Hastings was murdered by a hacked car, but we also don’t have much evidence supporting an accidental death beyond “his car was driving fast. He was in the car. The car wrecked and he’s dead.” Occam’s Razor comes into play only when competing theories have evidence backing them up; right now we don’t have much evidence at all and much of what there was has been burned up.
Today we have no evidence that his car was compromised and if it was that it was done by agents acting on orders of the federal government. But we are living in a new era, one where the government’s actions have caused even reasonable people to begin to consider ideas and theories that were once the purview of crackpots and paranoids. For years crackpots on the Left and Right have proposed theories of government surveillance, government coverups for failed adventures overseas and the targeting of conservatives for their beliefs, and now we are seeing these crackpots were right. I have a whole page of this blog dedicated to such government actions, and that doesn’t even include the Fast & Furious scandal whereby the feds armed the Mexican drug cartels for no explicit reason – other than to undermine the 2nd Amendment here at home. Think that conspiracy is a fantasy? Ask Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s family.
I find it ironic that 12 years after its founding, this journal finds itself espousing theories it was founded to fight. But to deny the possibilities of such conspiracies at a time when the government is blatantly conspiring against its citizens seems rather naive on my part. So while I continue to believe that Oswald acted alone at this point in time count me as one who believes that Michael Hastings’s death was not an accident and that the Federal Government is at war against anyone with the serious potential to threaten it.
UPDATE: Evidently I’m not the only one who believes Hastings’ car was hacked. The HuffPo ran an article with the exact same title as my piece. I’ll pretend that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Now there’s another theory to contribute to the paranoia: According to a prominent security analyst, technology exists that could’ve allowed someone to hack his car. Former U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism Richard Clarke told The Huffington Post that what is known about the single-vehicle crash is “consistent with a car cyber attack.”
Clarke said, “There is reason to believe that intelligence agencies for major powers”—including the United States—know how to remotely seize control of a car.
“What has been revealed as a result of some research at universities is that it’s relatively easy to hack your way into the control system of a car, and to do such things as cause acceleration when the driver doesn’t want acceleration, to throw on the brakes when the driver doesn’t want the brakes on, to launch an air bag,” Clarke told The Huffington Post. “You can do some really highly destructive things now, through hacking a car, and it’s not that hard.”
“So if there were a cyber attack on the car—and I’m not saying there was,” Clarke added, “I think whoever did it would probably get away with it.”
Arm both sides.
The optimal goal is stalemate, to create a quagmire that bogs down both sides, sucking up resources and destroying men and material for however long this state can be maintained. The idea is to encourage both sides to use up what they have against each other so that neither can threaten you after the conflict is resolved.
In a conflict where there are no good guys, where the civilians have been brainwashed through their religion to hate us and suspect us as being the cause of their suffering, there is nothing to be lost by actually making it so. In Syria we have an Iranian-backed Shiite regime fighting a Saudi funded, al Qaeda manned Sunni insurgency. None of the players in the conflict are freedom fighters believing in the establishment of a secular based, peaceful regime in Syria, and nothing will be gained by the United States committing itself to one side or the other.
Obama’s indecisiveness is actually accomplishing this goal. Iraq, a country whose government the US established, is allowing overflights of weapons and munitions from Iran to resupply the Assad regime in Syria. At the same time the US encourages the Saudis and Gulf states to provide arms and material to the insurgents attempting to overthrow the Assad regime.
To put it bluntly, every dead insurgent or Syrian regime soldier is one less insurgent or soldier dedicated to fighting the United States and its allies. The suicide bombers that attack Assad’s regime will not kill American soldiers at checkpoints in Afghanistan, just as the Iranian special forces captured and executed by jihadis will not kill Israeli soldiers in the West Bank.
While this may strike some Westerners as morally repugnant at first, consider the alternatives. If the Assad regime emerges from the civil war victorious, the hand of Iran will be much stronger throughout the region. Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Syria would be in a much better position to threaten America’s only true ally in the region, Israel. A positive conclusion to the conflict would embolden Iran and provide an end to the drain of resources the current conflict draws from the regime, allowing it to refocus on its nuclear program which not only threatens Israel but Europe and in the long term, the United States. On the other hand, if the Alawite Assad regime is overthrown in Syria, what follows will make the Libyan Afterparty in north Africa look like a juice party at a geek fraternity by comparison. The victorious rebels would make Syria into a terrorist training camp, exporting instability and violent attacks throughout the Middle East, but particularly against Israel and Europe. Syria would become the new Afghanistan, run by Wahhabi fanatics dedicated to the destruction of Israel and the assimilation of the West. When viewed from a purely utilitarian American perspective, a successful overthrow of the regime may in fact be worse, forcing the US to intervene militarily with boots on the ground and repeating the errors of the Iraqi occupation.
Neither situation is palatable from the American perspective, so the only option is to support both sides indirectly until they are thoroughly weakened to the point where they cannot threaten the United States or its allies. Turning Syria into a Vietnam-like quagmire for both Iran and al Qaeda is an opportunity that has fallen into Obama’s lap, which when combined with his terrible leadership skills, may be the best luck America has had in its foreign affairs since Mikhail Gorbachev became the premier of the Soviet Union.
So contrary to the hopes of some on the Left, the bombers of the Boston Marathon are not white tea party types like myself but Muslims from Chechnya. Dzhokar A. Tsarnaev, 19, and his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, had been in the country for several years. One of the assumptions made by liberals about Islamists is that they misunderstand us, that if they only got to know us better (and if we stopped blowing them up in their homeland and supporting the evil Jews) they’d like us and wouldn’t want to harm us. Attacks like 9-11, the thwarted Time Square bombing, and the Fort Hood Shooting are in the eyes of liberals based on ignorance just as much as they are on misguided foreign policy.
This thinking has its roots in the writings of Erasmus, something that I covered here a few years back.
From the Machiavellian perspective, the struggle between Islamic terrorists and the Free World is a zero-sum game of winners and losers whereas Erasmus’s humanists view it as a game where everyone can win. Once the Islamic terrorists are educated to understand that America isn’t anti-Islamic, they won’t seek to destroy it. Terrorists and Americans can coexist in peace – all that’s necessary is a few apologies and a worldwide media campaign showing the terrorists how much we love Muslims.
Cases like the Tsarnaev brothers undermine the “they don’t understand us” argument originally put forward by Erasmus 500 years ago, as do the inconvenient facts that all of the 9-11 hijackers as well as the plotters including Osama bin Laden himself spent years studying in the United States and the West. These men are not ignorant, and to imply that they are shows an elitist and racist arrogance that liberals would abhor if they could see themselves from a perspective other than their own. A photo narrative by Johannes Hirn notes,
Tamerlan says he doesn’t drink or smoke anymore: “God said no alcohol.” A muslim, he says: “There are no values anymore,” and worries that “people can’t control themselves.”
Let’s consider that a moment. I don’t believe I am stuffing a straw man when I write that to a greater degree an American liberal believes the following:
1. Atheism is the sign of an enlightened mind.
2. All religions are the same, based on ignorance, and the enemies of knowledge.
3. Women are the equal of men and should be treated as such in all spheres both public and private.
4. Western culture is inferior to other cultures, or at best, equivalent.
5. Sexual freedom is the only expression of freedom that must be protected at all costs.
In the US there are no doubt several protestant denominations of Christianity that would agree with at least some of these propositions. The most liberal sect of Islam I know of is the Ismaili sect, and even that sect would disagree with all of the propositions. Do you think Tamarlan Tsarnaev believed in any of those propositions with the possible exception of western inferiority (or rather did, evidently blowing himself up before capture)?
My abhorrence of Islam isn’t based on fear or ignorance. I’ve read the Koran and more importantly, the Hadith, or interpretations of the Koran in the centuries following Muhammad’s death. I’ve lived in a Muslim country, eaten halal food and have celebrated Muslim holidays. I have studied Islam and its history and although do not consider myself an expert on either I know my way around the religion well enough so that I can confidently say that I know what I don’t know. How many liberals have done the same? A liberal looks at the Muslim community and blames American conservatives for Islamic extremism. I look at the Umma and wonder why, based on the teachings of Muhammad and the interpretations found in the Hadith, all Muslims aren’t Islamic extremists. Muslims have a pretty good idea of what American life and life in general in the West is like, and the truth is that a sizeable minority of them don’t like it.
These Muslims find the idea of a government without G-d just as abhorrent as liberals find a government with G-d. Islam makes it clear that all law derives ultimately from Allah through his prophet Muhammad, which is why the Hadith sprung up to handle legal questions that Muhammad himself didn’t address while alive. By this logic Western society and the Shi’a heretics who accept a limited separation between religion and state is heretical by its very existence, and lacking Allah’s support, weak and Evil. In Islam there is no freedom in the Western sense of the word; instead there is a freedom that comes through submission, a type which any pre-Enlightenment European, fundamentalist Christian married woman or perhaps any dedicated servant or slave could relate to, but a concept which would be completely alien to most raised in the post-Enlightenment West. What liberals refuse to understand is that the message of Islam, of complete submission to Allah, can be appealing on its own. The idea that a man like Osama bin Laden, born of wealth, educated in the finest schools in the West would choose a philosophy where women have few rights, homosexuality does not exist, and unbelievers are allowed to live only as future converts to Islam over the Leftist paradise of sexual and economic equality must rankle the liberal, if she would only allow herself to be rankled. I suppose it is possible. After all, Charles Krauthammer, David Horowitz and are ex-liberals as am I.
Charles Krauthammer once wrote Conservatives think Liberals are stupid, whereas Liberals think Conservatives are Evil. What’s ironic is that libertarians and their conservative allies feel towards Liberals the same way Liberals feel about Muslims, that they are ignorant and misguided, that if they just understood us better they’d like us. But unfortunately Liberals see us the way we see jihadists, as enemies meant to be crushed. How else to explain the vain hope by the Left that the bombers turned out to be white men from the Right? And how sad?
Because it seems to me the only thing the bombings at the Boston Marathon have provoked is anger.
Maybe we need a new word for such acts, furyism, because I’m not seeing any terror or fear, just pure white-hot anger.
Thanks for taking my call so early in your morning. I hope Hong forgives me for dragging you out of bed, but I felt it necessary given the circumstances.
As you know our two nations have had our difficulties over the years. I understand that there is a lot of history between us, and I don’t expect bygones to be forgotten on your side any time soon. But the recent history of our two nations should be cause for optimism. I would like to think that you see things have improved between our two great nations since I took office. I have personally worked very hard to give your nation the space it needs to take its place as a true world power. I am not worried that doing so weakens my country, and I have done my best to marginalize those who do. I see a great future between our two countries based on shared responses to common problems such as environmental degradation, rising income inequality and the common prosperity that our two nations can share by working closely together.
But I must speak clearly and forthrightly about the North Korean situation. Here in America we have a saying coined by former Secretary of State Colin Powell called the Pottery Barn Rule. Pottery Barn is a shop common at indoor shopping malls that sells decorative glass and pottery items for around the house, much of which I might add come from factories in your country. If a customer mishandles an item in the store and breaks it, the store has a rule that he or she must buy it. In short, the Pottery Barn rule is if you break it you’ve bought it. Secretary of State Powell spoke in reference to US intervention in Iraq, but I believe the pottery barn rule applies equally to North Korea.
Mr. Premier, make no mistake that everyone knows China owns North Korea. Every American president since Truman understands this, as does every Russian president and Japanese prime minister. We might play along with the notion that North Korea is an independent state in public, but we learned our lesson who owns what there when the Chinese Red Army spilled over the Yalu River some 60 years ago. Some may advise you that our goal is to regain what we lost on the battlefield back then, that we seek a united Korea firmly allied to the United States. Let me reassure you that nothing is further from the truth. I know that the South Koreans have told you the same thing they’ve told us – that they do not wish to do what Germany did in the 1990’s when it reunified. It has taken the Germans over two decades to make reunification work, and it still has a way to go before the living standards are equitable on both sides of the former Berlin Wall. The South Koreans see the disparities between the living standards between North and South as even greater than that between East and West Germany, and know that reunification would bankrupt them and possibly wreck their economy for generations. The South Koreans simply do not want reunification in the foreseeable future, and would much prefer to see North Korea follow your nation’s path to prosperity. Their argument against reunification seems very sensible to me and I see no reason not to believe them.
For decades the North has played a game in which it has threatened my nation and its allies in exchange for this or that. This game was played masterfully by Kim Jung Il, allowing him to acquire nuclear weapons while under UN sanctions. But Kim Jung Un is not his father. I am very concerned that the young Un truly believes the propaganda dished out to his people by the State, and trusts the views of his advisers who do not understand my position. We have given North Korea as much as we possibly could under my administration, and I simply do not have anything left to give.
I must make this clear: in the event North Korea attacks the United States or its allies, I will personally hold you and your nation accountable. Premier Li, I am a peacemaker as proven by my Nobel Prize. Unlike my immediate predecessor I don’t start wars, I end them. Although I have no interest in a war between our two great nations, an attack by Kim Jung Un will leave me with no choice but to retaliate against China. This will not be a battle of proxies, but one directly between the United States and China. Such a war would be calamitous for our countries. It would result in thousands of deaths on both sides, and send the entire world into distress. And over what? The deluded scion of a hermit kingdom?
Following the Pottery Barn Rule, North Korea is broken and you own it. Therefore you must fix the situation in a manner that you see fit but one that calms the region. It is up to you to handle the North Koreans. There is nothing more that I can do on my side to prevent war. If Kim attacks, I must respond and in a way that you will likely not approve of.
Aw crap. The translator is not working? G-d D*** it! Denis! Get Brin on the line 2 NOW, and while you’re at it give Eric a call and tell him Google is his b***h.