Foreign Policy Archives

"Where Are The Americans?"

Roger Kimball writing at Pajamas Media contrasts the big differences in the world’s response (and by "the world’s" he means "America’s") response to two earthquake/tsunami combinations; the 2004 Boxing Day one in Indonesia and the 2011 on in Japan. George Bush, who supposedly hated brown people, sprang into action, getting the US military (mostly the Navy, with its carriers that have huge desalination plants and bakeries, among other things) involved in the relief. Barack Obama sprang into action, on the golf course and at ESPN.  Kimball notes that, in this and other situations around the world, people everywhere are wondering, "Where are the Americans?"

Is this the kind of new diplomacy Obama said he would bring? Supposedly, we squandered all of the the goodwill we’d ever built up. And yet, now the world is wondering why were so aloof. To be sure, American relief organizations are helping out in full force, and that is one of the beauties of the American culture. We don’t expect the government to bear the full burden of charitable help, because frankly there are things the government just can’t do as efficiently.

But what government can do, and has done in the past, it’s not really doing that as much as it used to. Hope and change.

Friday Link Wrap-up

In more Civil Discourse Watch, here’s folks on the Left calling for riots, or at least pointing to rioting as a good example.

The failure of the repeal of ObamaCare can be laid at Democrats feet. We’ll see how well that works for them in 2012. (Didn’t work so well in 2010.)

In which country in the Middle East do Arabs have the greatest civil liberties? Click here to find out.

We keep hearing this refrain.

Shortly after taking office, President Obama traveled to Cairo to declare a new day in U.S. relations with the Muslim world – saying there was "no straight line" to building democratic societies in the Middle East.

The June 2009 address was in part intended to show a clean break from a George W. Bush-era "freedom agenda" of promoting electoral democracies across the region. Yet Obama now finds himself forced to move much closer to that world view as he escalates pressure on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to make immediate changes.

Regarding national defense and now foreign policy, Dubya had it right. Slowly, but too slowly, Obama is realizing this.

Law enforcement could have stopped the Fort Hood shooting by Major Hasan if political correctness hadn’t prevented them.

And finally, some bad investments. Click for a larger version.

End-of-Year Link Wrap-up

A longer list this time.  I took a vacation from blogging during — if you’ll forgive the expression — Christmas vacation, and this video comes out.  Nina Totenberg apologizes for using the term "Christmas party".  Is this really a taboo among liberals?  Or are liberals in the press really this out of touch with the rest of America?

Here are six good reasons why embryonic stem cells will never make it out of the lab and into the bodies of sick people.  But money will still pour into it because, hey, it’s money!

Palestinians fired a Qassam rocket at a kindergarten, hurting one teen passing by.  I didn’t watch much news over vacation, but I’m sure this was all over it.  Right?  I mean, it would have been if Israel had done it, so I’m just supposing.

It’s amazing how stark the double standards are regarding leaks.  Julian Assange didn’t mind dumping data that is life-or-death to some of our Afghani informers, but hated it when leaks about his own legal troubles came out.  Really?  And there are other news reporter groups that hate it when they get leaked. 

Iran is shipping missiles to Venezuela.  Hey Hollywood, this is just fine, right?  (Chavez blames all the failures of socialism on others, and so this paranoia is bound to give him cause to use such weapons.  So, no, it’s not al right.)

No, the polar bear is not endangered.  So says the Obama administration.  Really.  And Bruce McQuain notes that, really, endangered status is more about power than it is about the environment.

The (Democrat-controlled) Congress blocked the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the US.  I guess Obama has no one to blame for this other than … Bush.

Twenty years ago, and continuing as recently as 2009, it was predicted that global warming would bring much milder winters with less snow because of the temperatures.  Ski slopes would be barren and snow would vanish from places as far north as Scotland. Now, however, they’re saying that all that snow we got, even in the deep south, is because of global warming.  The link has a good round-up of weather vs predictions.

More power to this guy, who quit his job, got some legal education, and started suing e-mail spammers.

Why do atheists whine about not being invited to a prayer event?  Hey, you don’t like an inauguration that includes a prayer service?  Go out and win an election, and run your inauguration any way you want.

WikiLeaks Fallout

The release of yet more secret, unredacted, government documents, including cables with unverified information, by the WikiLeaks website is yet another blow to US diplomacy and intelligence.  It will cause allies to clam up and intelligence sources to possibly lose their lives as their aid is exposed.  Thanks for nothin’.

We are learning some things, however, about the world as it really is, which, in my estimation, buttress George W. Bush’s policies in the Middle East and elsewhere.  The TPM blog (not one I typically link to, mind you) has a list of their top 5 most shocking things in the leaks.

Among them is the fact that virtually every country in the Middle East wants us to solve the Iran nuclear issue for them.  They realize that sanctions and incentives "have no importance" (via translation).  Essentially, they are absolutely useless.  I’m wondering if liberals who seem to think sanctions are the universal panacea will rethink this course of action, at least with regards to Iran.  (Hold not thy breath.)

Also, North Korea is supplying Iran with long-range missiles that could hit Europe or deep into Russia.  Yeah, all this diplomacy with madmen is working wonders for the safety of the world, don’t you think?

But one of the biggest reveals is how the New York Times is treating this, vs. other leaks.  James Delingpole, writing for the London Telegraph, highlights two quotes from the NY Times:

“The documents appear to have been acquired illegally and contain all manner of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye, so they won’t be posted here.” Andrew Revkin, Environment Editor, New York Times Nov 20, 2009.

“The articles published today and in coming days are based on thousands of United States embassy cables, the daily reports from the field intended for the eyes of senior policy makers in Washington. The New York Times and a number of publications in Europe were given access to the material several weeks ago and agreed to begin publication of articles based on the cables online on Sunday. The Times believes that the documents serve an important public interest, illuminating the goals, successes, compromises and frustrations of American diplomacy in a way that other accounts cannot match.” New York Times editorial 29/11/2010

The first was an explanation of why the Time wouldn’t publish private conversations revealing ClimateGate.  The second is the explanation of why the Time did publish private conversations in the WikiLeaks documents.  For those paying attention, yet another glaring example of bias; editorial decisions made based on the policy being exposed.

(More at Stop the ACLU.)

But the original leak is utterly irresponsible.  Why is WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange still roaming around a free man?  (Or for that matter, the head of the NY Times?)

Mexico blames U.S. for Mexicans committing crimes in Mexico

To clarify,

A coalition of Mexican mayors has asked the United States to stop deporting illegal immigrants who have been convicted of serious crimes in the U.S. to Mexican border cities, saying the deportations are contributing to Mexican border violence.

Meanwhile, President “Mexicans were here before America was an idea” Obama is trying to pitch the notion that there is no “us” and “them”, with regards to illegal immigration [sic].

Sorry, Mr. President, but we’re not buying this whole one-world idea and, just as a reminder, you swore an oath to uphold and defend the constitution of the United States of America.

Burning Holy Books and the “Is Outrage” Response

When a small group led by a charismatic leader does something outrageous in this country to the average American this means little. This sort of thing happens all the time … bringing out examples is likely an exercise best left to the reader. A question that arises is why then does so much of the Islamic world rise up in anger when, say, a wacky pastor in South Florida burns a few books? The reason is in part a reflection of our different political cultures. 

In those countries which are rising up in anger, no such act would transpire without the express order and approval of a governmental (or organized anti-governmental organization, i.e., an insurgency). They are upset that this guy is going this because to them it means that Mr Obama and the US government has decided this is the right thing to do. Or at the very best, if he is doing it, then he has their explicit stamp of approval. It doesn’t matter that he says he thinks it is bad or that any number of us do the same. That is irrelevant because he is being allowed to do it means that their approval and sponsorship is a given. That they protest against his action but allow it is just a demonstration base deception. 

Those places in the world do not have freedom of speech and have never lived in such places or really (as is likely) considered the consequences of a society which defends such. Perhaps part of the problem is that our COIN apparatus (unlike as what pointed as “optimal” in the Petraeus manual) is almost exclusively military … which does in fact control its message and people in a way which our civilian life is not. This might be a big benefit of moving those COIN operations which are pointed as better done by non-military units to be done by actual non-military units. Perhaps the surge would have been best accompanied by 75k civilians in their unruly mess … so that part of the world might come to learn what freedom of speech looks like up close and personal. 

Friday…er…Monday Link Wrap-up

That’s what happens when I take a Friday vacation day.

Democrats are in a struggle with Republicans to see who can repeal portions of ObamaCare first.  And now that Harry Reid has actually read the bill, he’s finally realized that this is going to hurt the hospitals in his state more than it’s going to help them.  As much as Democrats complained about the delays in getting the thing passed, you’d think they’d have read it by the time it did.

Put Obama in the Oval Office, and he’ll repair our standing with the world…or so went the campaign thought.  A poll of Arab public opinion, supposedly an area where Bush had destroyed our credibility, shows that little had changed.  In fact, some indicators are even worse than under the eeevil Bush.

A very interesting article suggesting that Evangelical Churches are the new “Mainline” Christian churches, and that the traditionally “mainline” denominations, as they have become more liberal, shrink and thus have less influence on society (spiritually speaking).  A very good interview of Rodney Stark, who’s been following this a long time.

I’ve been asked, regarding the Tea Partier’s wish to reduce government spending, why now?  Why not during Bush or Clinton or even Reagan.  I keep saying that the spending going on now is unprecedented, and Bruce McQuain explains some of the reasons and ramifications of this spend-fest.

How’s that stimulus stimulating the economy?  Not so well, actually.

The “classy” Left, taking its usual name-calling tact against the Tea Party.  And lest you dismiss this as some loner in a basement, it’s got huge funding partners.

And finally, a study in religious tolerance from Chuck Asay.  (Click for a larger image.)

Friday Link Wrap Up

Two weeks of links to catch up!

Closing Guantanamo; big priority during the campaign, not so much now.  (Well, especially since even Democrats don’t even want to do it.)

The Obama administration turned down using Dutch oil skimmers because they couldn’t meet our stringent government environmental regulations on how pure the decontaminated water was that they dumped back into the Gulf of Mexico, right on-sight of the spill.  Instead, we transport the oily water to facilities and decontaminate it there.  Huge efficiency drop during a major catastrophe because, ironically, of environmental regulationsRead the whole article for more things we turned down that could have averted a lot of this problem.

Our own Treasury Secretary is ignorant of economic history.  Timothy Geithner said this at the latest G-20 summit:  “One of the mistakes made in the 1930s was that countries pulled back their recovery efforts too soon, prolonging the Great Depression.”  However, precisely the opposite happened.  Recovery efforts failed, lasted too long, and that’s what prolonged the Great Depression.  NewsBusters has the charts.

School vouchers improve graduation rates. Now we have a government study to prove what common sense already told us.

Sharia Law in the UK:  Dogs barred from buses so as not to offend Muslims.

Democrats have decided that there will be no budget this year.  Hey, at least (this time) they’re being honest about it.  I guess they’ll just spend until it doesn’t feel good anymore.  Or until they’re voted out.  Whichever comes first.

In Venezuela’s socialist paradise, the government’s Food Ministry rounds up 120 tons of rice because it might be sold above regulated prices.  At the same time, 80,000 tons of food was found rotting in government warehouses.  Government efficiency at its finest.

Another example of bait-and-switch in the passage of ObamaCare.  Obama rejected the idea that the individual mandate was a tax increase, but in defending it from state lawsuits, the administration does classify it as a tax increase.  This way, the mandate falls under a law that forbids the states from interfering in tax collections.  In addition, “an early draft of an administration regulation estimates … a majority of workers—51 percent—will be in plans subject to new federal requirements….”

If your 11-year-old asks a particular Massachusetts school for a condom, they’ll get it, no questions asked.  Also, parents objections will not be taken into consideration.  Actually, there’s no real age limit on the policy; any kid can get one.  Only in Massachusetts.  For now.

And finally, all that hard work pays off, but not the way you thought it would.  (From Chuck Asay.  Click for a larger version.)

Friday Link Wrap-up

Isn’t government supposed to enforce the laws it makes?   Well, it looks like the Obama administration has a bit more leeway.

How’s that Gitmo-closing promise coming along, 5 months after its due date?  “The House Armed Services Committee has dealt a blow to President Obama’s hopes to shutter the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, by unanimously approving legislation that would prohibit creating a detention center inside the United States.”  Aren’t there one or two Democrats on that committee?

The Hollywood Left just loves their socialists.

American filmmaker Oliver Stone said Friday he deeply admires Hugo Chavez but suggested the Venezuelan president might consider talking a bit less on television.

Promoting his new documentary “South of the Border” in Caracas, Stone heaped praise on Chavez, saying he is leading a movement for “social transformation” in Latin American. The film features informal interviews by Stone with Chavez and six allied leftist presidents, from Bolivia’s Evo Morales to Cuba’s Raul Castro.

“I admire Hugo. I like him very much as a person. I can say one thing. … He shouldn’t be on television all the time,” Stone said at a news conference. “As a director I say you don’t want to be overpowering. And I think he is sometimes that way.”

(We’re not entirely sure whether Stone said “director” or “dictator” at th end there.  Either can be overpowering.)

When the director of the Congressional Budget Office directly refutes cost-saving claims of the President and his Budget Director, it’s worth noting.  Even the NY Times (finally) notices.

How’s that “smart diplomacy” workin’ for ya’?  Please remember; speeches are no substitute for sound policy.

Marry a Jew, lose your citizenship.  Can armbands with the Star of David be far behind?  Tell me again, who are the bad guys in the Middle East peace situation?

How did the pollsters do predicting the recent primary results?  About as good as expected, which isn’t saying much.  And the Daily Kos fired its official pollster, Research 2000.  Turns out they skewed left.  Now who would have thought that?  This time, however, it was downright embarrassing.

And finally, Chuck Asay on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  (Click for a larger image.)

Chuck Asay

Wrestling With the NSS

Well, I read the NSS this weekend … and I haven’t yet written that thorny post that I promised to write as yet. This post will not reach that lofty goal I held for myself but it may do as a weak substitute. As mentioned on Friday what I was going to try to do is take this middling sized document (about 60 pages) produced by Mr Obama which comprised the new National Security Strategy which his administration is allegedly following and this document comprises a submittal to the Senate explaining the overall features of that strategy. Read the rest of this entry

Logical Inconsistancy and the NSS

A question regarding promotion of Democracy. During the Iraq reconstruction, the Iraqi people came together and wrote their own Constitution. Critics in this country soundly criticised that document because it didn’t establish freedom of religion, that is Islamic religious principles and separation of Church and State was not firmly established. In the recent National Security Strategy document released by the Administration the same curious thing occurred. In adjacent sections Mr Obama states that two primary objectives with regard to promoting human rights abroad include supporting democracy and women’s rights. These two ideas are in conflict.

The document states the importance of:

Recognizing the Legitimacy of All Peaceful Democratic Movements: America respects the right of all peaceful, law-abiding, and nonviolent voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them.


Supporting the Rights of Women and Girls: Women should have access to the same opportunities and be able to make the same choices as men.

It seems to me quite clear that one of the notions held throughout much of the world is that women should not have the same access to the same opportunities as men. And this is an idea expressed by peaceful, law-abiding, and non-violent voices in places around the world, one with which however we disagree. This is just the same as the criticisms rendered after a democratic government forms a Constitution which does not separate Church and State.

Here’s the thing, you can support the idea that people should be free and able to set up their communities and the laws and customs by which they are run. You can want people to have certain ways of governing themselves and modes of setting up those communities. You can’t have both.

Friday Link Wrap-Up

My blogging was rather light this week, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t collecting links.

Sarah Palin got skewered for suggesting that ObamaCare(tm) would bring about what she called “Death Panels”.  Well, turns out that Obama’s pick for the guy to oversee government health care programs is all in favor of them.

Jobs saved and created … and created and created and created.  “Last week, one of the millions of workers hired by Census 2010 to parade around the country counting Americans blew the whistle on some statistical tricks. The worker, Naomi Cohn, told The Post that she was hired and fired a number of times by Census. Each time she was hired back, it seems, Census was able to report the creation of a new job to the Labor Department.”

“Unexpected” is the term the MSM uses to describe Obama’s economic failures.  We were promised it would work, and they’re shocked when it didn’t.  But’s that’s so last week.  Now the phrase is “little-noticed”, as in “a little-noticed provision of the health care bill is unexpectedly discovered.”  (Well, little-notice by the MSM.  Opponents mostly knew it already.)

And finally, some “smart” diplomacy, courtesy of Michael Ramirez (click for a larger image):

Michael Ramirez

Our Security Strategy ?!

My weekend homework for blogging. This post has piqued my interest and I think it will focus in on a number of points which are crucial. Of particular interest there is a 50+ page paper by the White House highlighting and stating to Congress our current National Security Strategy. The first link in the linked piece is to a downloadable document which of primary interest. In reading a statement like that one has to read it twice to avoid falling into the Satan’s Hermeneutic trap. One should read this first adopting and trying to fit in and understand within the context of the writer what points he is trying to make and his argument. In that reading when one encounters points which are troubling or incomplete … it an exercise for the reader to supply possible and likely solutions which perhaps were either overlooked or assumed. This is the part of reading which is only typically done by and between sympathetic parties. The second reading is adversarial and is aimed at finding and highlighting the essential flaws in the understanding or thesis of the writer. Many of these points are made already in the piece linked and are a key point in why this document might be interesting. Why?

  • One fundamental flaw pointed out is Mr Obama’s tendency to academic modes of practice. That is talking the correct talk, but lacking follow through and any serious commitment to the same.
  • Another flaw is Mr Obama’s (and his administration’s) lack of general expertise in executive positions. For example, in the linked piece note Mr Levy has noted an implicit (or even explicit) assumption of mercantilism as a working and useful economic model for today’s economy. Now it is highly likely that his economic team advising him on matters of national and international economic affairs wouldn’t make that sort of mistake. Apparently however, there is nobody who might easily catching those sorts of mistakes in the room when overall security strategies are being crafted. 
  • In Mr Obama’s numerous foreign addresses there seemed to be a number of flaws and defenders pointed out that an over-arching strategy was in play but never offered any suggestions what that strategy might be. Well, this document should give us that. Why for example, does is he so short with our allies. Why the verbal appeasement and praise for our putative enemies? This document should clear that up.

Anyhow, I’m not diving into flaws or other points yet. I haven’t read the paper … even once and I’m going to read it twice … and take notes. My discussion will follow at the tail end of the weekend.

A Clear Look Into the Soviet Union. >yawn<

Betsy Newmark notes the collective disinterest in new documents that give us a much better look into the waning day of the former Soviet Union.

This is amazing stuff: Claire Berlinski reports on documents smuggled out of Russia about the last years of the Cold War. These are documents from Gorbachev’s own files and are an amazing treasure trove of notes from his meetings with foreign dignitaries and from the Central Committee of the Communist Party. Simply fascinating stuff. But no western publisher seems to be interested in publishing any of this.

Why wouldn’t western researchers and publishers be interested in documents containing such tidbits as Gorbachev’s response to the Chinese killing dissidents in Tiananmen Square? Maybe they don’t like the real story of how he just shrugged it off. Or his laughter at the news of the Soviets shooting down a Korean jetliner.

The press and the Left in this country were apologists for the Soviet Union, very nearly lionizing Gorbachev.  So it’s no wonder that this is not getting more notice in the network news.  Again, it’s all about the narrative (and not wanting to be shown to be horribly wrong about them).  And not only the US press but the European press as well which, again, were all too ready to seek the USSR’s approval rather than take the hard positions on what was right.

(This is the same press/Left/Europe that freaked out when Reagan stood up to the Communists and set in motion their downfall soon after.)

Betsy has more, and Clair Berlinski has lots more.  And you gotta’ wonder if "USSR" was replaced by "Nazis", whether this would be equally as ignored.

A Brief History of Israel Concessions

Meryl Yourish hears that there’s a possibility of Israel conceding to the Obama administration on the subject of Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem.  With that in mind, she gives us a brief history of how well said concessions have worked out for Israel.

Israel made peace with Egypt in 1979. As a result, Israelis can look forward to regular warnings of terrorist attacks and kidnappings when they visit Sinai resorts. The Egyptian foreign minister calls Israel “the enemy.” Egypt boycotted the annual Mediterranean student conference because it was held in Israel. The Sinai is used to regularly smuggle arms to Hamas. A second Israeli was arrested and held by Egypt for accidentally crossing the border. Egypt restored the Maimonides synagogue and then declared that no Jew will ever pray in it (this was the same guy who said he’d burn any Israeli books he found). That’s just a short list of the benefits of peace with Egypt. Of course, Israel hasn’t fought a war with Egypt since 1973. But Egyptians are arming Israel’s enemies.

Israel left Gaza in 2005. In return, Israel got rockets, mortars, and terror attacks, and a war in 2008. Hamas is in control of the Strip and has been for several years. Hamas has thousands of rockets and missiles stored in bunkers, ready for another attack on Israel when they feel strong enough (or when their Iranian masters give the go-ahead). This was one of the Palestinian demands—the eviction of all Jews from Gaza. They got what they wanted. And yet, there is still not peace between the residents of Gaza and Israel.

Israel left Lebanon in 2000. The United Nations certified that Israel left every square inch of Lebanese territory. Hizballah stockpiled tens of thousands of rockets and mortars, crossed into Israeli territory to kill and capture Israeli soldiers, which started a war in 2006. Now, the UN says that the Shebaa Farms is Lebanese—not Syrian—territory, giving Hizballah the excuse they have wanted for years to say that Israel is still holding Lebanese territory and “resistance” must be used. Hizballah has a stockpile of tens of thousand of rockets, and now Syria is supplying them with Scud missiles.

The last place Obama need to be putting pressure on is Israel.  These other issues should be dealt with before asking Israel to give up anything else. 

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