I’m Trying. I Really Am.

To be a nicer, more civil person.  I truly am.

Here’s the deal.  I left the Libertarian Party in 1998 largely over the LP’s complete illiteracy on foreign policy and defense.

Now, many “Libertarians” are drawn to the belief, and the party, by the reductionistic magical thinking that all of the world’s questions break down into binary, black-or-white answers.  The right answer to everything lies in unbending, unyielding adherence to “principles”, any deviance from which for any reason is an unforgiveable impurity.

Which is a fine and dandy thing, if your “principles” are so well-thought-out as to account for all of the myriad gray areas life, human nature and history throw into one’s path.  For example, the idea that some “libertarians” have that one is either an isolationist peacenik…or a “warmonger”, with nothing in between.  Too stupid to mock.

Anyway.

What I’m trying to do is figure out a way to write “if everything you know about history and foreign policy is stuff you read from the inside of Ron Paul’s anterior colon, you probably are not going to be a partner in a serious debate”.

And I got nothing.

I’m open to suggestions.

Jeffersonianism By Omission

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The US has become so impotent in the Middle East that Egypt and United Arab Emirates have stepped up to fight Muslim terrorists, without bothering to mention it to us. The Obama Administration was taken by surprise.

This might be a good thing, in the long run. Washington and Jefferson warned against entangling alliances. Classical Liberals argue it’s not the federal government’s job to be the world’s policeman; we should let other nations sort out their own problems.

President Obama might end up implementing the most libertarian foreign policy since the founding.

Or he might be a clean, bright, good-looking, articulate Black man who has been promoted above his level of competence.

Hard to say at this point what his legacy will be.

Joe Doakes

It is indeed.

But I have a hunch both Jimmy Carter and the Neville Chamberlain estates are deeply thankful for it.

The larger point?  Obama may do for our foreign policy what his economic policy will inevitably do for the economy at this rate; bring them back to their Jeffersonian origins through the sheer unsustainability of their Obamian reality.

Death Cult

In the lulls between Palestinian/Israeli combat, I sometimes forget how very, very depressed I get at how very ill-informed Americans are about the recent history of the Middle East.

I’ve even seen relatively intelligent acquaintances of mine claim that both sides, Palestinian and Israeli, are morally equal.  One trumpeted “both sides are run by extremists!”, by way of excusing the Palestinians.

I’m going to link to this piece by Dennis Prager – the best, simplest explanation of the last seventy years I’ve ever seen.

“The Israelis want to have a state.  The Palestinians want the Jews dead”.

There is no moral equivalence.

Retro

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The largest airplane in the world is Russian.  They also have a working space program from which we beg rides, and they just took over the Crimea when we abandoned Eastern Europe.

 Does it seem to you that the America-Russia pendulum is swinging, and not in a good way?

 Joe Doakes

I’m a little upset that Obama seems to want to make so many of our sacrifices during the Cold War vain.

No, I’m not being funny.

Intellectual Trust Fund Babies

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

As politicians try to lay blame for losing Iraq on Bush’s flawed Mid-East vision instead of Obama’s flawed Mid-East vision, Fernandez points out:

“As recent events in Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Iraq show, the problem with Obama’s conception is it doesn’t work.  It is so bad that it makes GWB look good by comparison.

Joe Doakes

One of the standard jokes four years ago was that “everything about Obama’s foreign policy that’s succeeding [continuing Bush's hard line in Iraq and Afghanistan] is a continuation of the Bush policy”.

Simplistic?  Maybe.

Simplistic enough that Biden believed it:

And it’s gotta be simplistic for Biden to buy it.

 

Doakes Sunday: 1950

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Mark Steyn insight:
We speak of “credit bubbles” and “housing bubbles,” but the real bubble is America’s 1950 moment: a very precise set of post-war conditions that put the U.S. in a different league from other nation-states. Europe rebuilt, Asia got the hang of capitalism, and still America thought 1950 was forever. It’s not. It’s already fading.

The argument over unions is the perfect evidence of this.

In 1950, we were the only functional economy in the world.  This was when contracts like the UAW’s iron grip over the auto industry got started.

Which was great – while Germany and Japan were rebuilding, and China, Singapore, South Korea and India were still third-world hellholes.

Things have changed.

We – too many of us – haven’t.

Doakes Sunday: Reservations

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Remember a couple of months ago, when President Obama was on his Far East World Adulation Tour, he promised Japan and the Philippines that the good old US of A would be their big brother against mean old China?

Considering he can’t even manage to abandon Iraq without dithering about pulling troops and then sending them back in again . . . do you think the Prime Ministers of our new allies are feeling all warm and fuzzy about Barak Hussein Obama having their backs?

Joe Doakes

I’m guessing that whole “contain the Japanese military” thing is eroding fast these days.

Doakes Sunday: Previews

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

If you want to see where American Liberals will be in a few years, look at British Liberals.

Guns already are banned but violence continues so now mandatory six months jail for second conviction for carrying a knife. All the usual arguments about whether it’s harsh enough, prison overcrowding, effect on gang violence, etc.

No concept that giving ordinary citizens the power to fight back in self-defense might be a long-term better strategy for social order.

Joe Doakes

Not only that, but self-defense itself is becoming illegal.

But let’s be fair; the US was headed the same direction 30-40 years ago.  The good guys – that’d be you and me – fought back and pushed the needle back toward freedom.

We need to do it again, and in many, many more areas.

Austerity

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

 

Milton Berle teamed up with Spike Jones and the City Slickers to release “Leave the Dishes In The Sink, Ma” in 1944.

The lyrics provide a glimpse of life for ordinary Americans in the war years.  First, it’s a big deal that our kid is coming home from the war alive, as a Sergeant no less.  Cause to celebrate.

Second, we’ll invite all the neighbors to the party; but what to feed them?  There’s baloney, cheese, pickles in the icebox, and cider in the keg in the cellar.  What, that’s the best you can do, that’s your version of killing the fatted calf?  Well, yeah, in those days, it was.

It was an entirely different world, barely imaginable to people living in America today.

And still, that life that to us is austere is unquestionably better than the life of most of the people around the globe.  The water was safe to drink, easily had.  There was food.  Roof over their heads.  Those who wish to remake America in the image of the rest of the globe, ponder that.

Joe Doakes

The presumption on the part of so much of the Big Left that America would be a great experiment, if it were only socialist, is Obama’s most toxic legacy.

Fake It ‘Til You Make It

In which we learn from our “President” that gun violence (which has dropped by half in the past twenty years) “has never been worse”, but that the world “has never been less violent” (as the Middle East spirals toward a general conflagration). 

Even Jimmy Carter knew better than to look at a bowl full of crap and call it organic sherbet.

But Jimmy Carter was targeting an electorate that was paying attention.  Obama never has.

Oz

Whenever the subject of gun control comes up, the left often reverts to pleading “Look at (fill in the foreign country)”. 

It’s invariably an apples vs. axles comparison, of course. 

But the one that  might – to the underinformed – seem close is the example of Australia, which banned most civilian gun ownership in the nineties.

The left tells us the experiment conclusively proves that gun control reduces violence.

Of course, it’s really just not true.

In A Just World…

 …we’d have an administration with Kevin Williamson running domestic policy…:

Our choice is not really between neat ideological verities with their roots in Adam Smith or Karl Marx, but between the DMV and the Apple store. Each model has its downsides, to be sure, but it does not seem like a terribly difficult choice to me.

 And Richard Fernandez as Secretary of State:

Suppose Benghazi was a catastrophic failure, made all the more dangerous by the possibility that Russia had a hand in it. If Putin, having studied how Reagan used the jihad to bring down Soviet Union, played the same game on Barack Hussein Obama, it would explain many otherwise inexplicable things. The role of Snowden. The disgrace of Petraeus. The exile of anyone and anything to do with Benghazi. The kid-gloves treatment of the Ansar attackers. The strange enmity between Hillary and Obama. Each is bound by the same secret. Each lives in fear of the same smoldering fire burning in the bowels of the administration.

The lie is much more dangerous than the truth. America can live with an Obama mistake. But it can’t live with an Obama who cannot acknowledge his mistakes.

 The world is, of course, not just.

But both of them provide some useful templates for gauging candidates and what they believe.

Liquidation For Hire

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Liberals are so convinced that the Personal is Political, and they have had such success using that tactic to damage our constitutional republic from within, that they think the rule is of universal application. It is not. If it were, the most revered man in history would be Pontius Pilate, who ordered the execution of that rabble-rouser Jesus Christ, to put an end to the religious movement known as Christianity.

Pilate did not succeed, nor will President Obama succeed in putting an end to Islamic Fundamentalism by ordering the execution of Osama Bin Laden. The more Liberals celebrate that act as Obama’s signature achievement, the more they emphasize the poverty of his list of accomplishments.

Joe Doakes

Wasn’t that a scene in 1984?

I Didn’t Fight The Law, And The Law Won Anyway

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The attack on our consulate in Benghazi was long ago.  The President tweets his concern for kidnapped girls.  These incidents are reported as separate dots. Wretchardconnects the dots.

Boko Haram swears alliegence to Al Queda.  Yes, that Al Queda, the terrorist group that President Obama supposedly obliterated when he ordered Osama Bin Laden dead.   But it’s not dead.

Al Queda attacked our Benghazi consulate and dragged our ambassador through the streets.  It arms Boko Harum with weapons stolen in Libya so Boko Harum can kidnap Christian girls to sell into sexual slavery to Muslim slave-owners, all of which they justify by the Muslim religion, which we dare not offend, so Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State and Barack Obama as President didn’t name Boko Harum a terrorist group long ago.

The Benghazi attack and the kidnapped girls are battles in the war Fundamentalist Islam is waging against us, a war we refuse to admit exists and therefore refuse to fight.

This will not end well.

Joe Doakes

As I used to tell my “pacifist” friends (and some of my “anarcho-libertarian” acquaintances today) – just because you eschew war doesn’t mean war eschews you.

“…Being Necessary For The Security Of A Free State…”

Citizen militias have been winning parts of Mexico back from the narcotraficantes.  

To do this, they’ve broken what pass for “the rules”; they’ve fought violence with violence; they’ve used weapons that are utterly illegal in Mexico (assault rifles, obtained by the same illegal means that people always use to obtain guns where guns are banned). 

And it’s worked. 

And it worked against a backdrop of, at best, government incompetence (they’ve never been able to make a dent in the narcotraficantes stranglehold on the area) or complicity (the narcos have bought off or co-opted vast swathes of Mexico’s government, including judges, law enforcement and the military). 

So now that the government is trying to co-opt the one thing that’s worked against the cartels

The government will go town by town to organize and recruit the new rural forces.

“This is a process of giving legal standing to the self-defense forces,” said vigilante leader Estanislao Beltran.

… is it surprising that some of the locals aren’t buying it?

But tension remained on Friday in the coastal part of the state outside the port of Lazaro Cardenas, where other “self-defense” groups plan to continue as they are, defending their territory without registering their arms. Vigilantes against the demobilization have set up roadblocks in the coastal town of Caleta.

“We don’t want them to come, we don’t recognize them,” vigilante Melquir Sauceda said of the government and the new rural police forces. “Here we can maintain our own security. We don’t need anyone bringing it from outside.”

This is precisely why the Second Amendment is, and must always be, a right of the people; because government at best is modestly capable of doing the right thing, and at worst is as bad as or worse than the problem, when it isn’t itself the problem.

Frog In A Pan

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

US sent 300 paratroopers to Poland to serve as a trip-wire against Russian aggression. Washington Post explains the reasoning.

It’s a dumb idea.

The trip-wire concept is simple: if the Russians attack and kill our 300 guys, the American public will be so outraged that Congress will Declare War as young people run to the recruiting offices and the sleeping American giant will roar to life to crush the Russians in a savage but fully justified act of revenge.

Never happen. Not in modern America. Democrats won’t declare war, Code Pinkers won’t support war, Millennials won’t go to war. Instead, the public consensus will be “Those paratroopers volunteered to serve in the armed forces so they assumed the risk of being killed. We’re not going to suffer for their bad career choice.”

Now, here’s the scary part: are SITD readers the only people who understand this? Does the US military command know those troops are twisting in the wind but they’re sending them anyway because the WaPo foreign policy wallahs want it? Seems like a major breach of faith to me.

Worse, do the Russians know it’s a bluff? Are they already planning how to invade around our people, knowing there only risk is a scolding from the Teleprompter in Chief or his lurching Secretary of State?

It was bad enough when the President’s idiotic foreign policy got our Ambassador killed. We don’t need another 300 bodies to confirm his error.

Joe Doakes

Reading history, it’s hard to avoid a key fact; most wars are backed into.

Prioritization

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Damn that Fernandez, he always says things so much better than I could.

This time, it’s about why Obama isn’t stopping Putin. Best paragraph:

“One of the most ironic things about the Obama presidency is that Yes We Can hasn’t even been replaced by No We Won’t. It has shriveled to No We Can’t.”

A President who doesn’t have the guts to take on the Sierra Club isn’t going to make an ex-KGB man quake in his boots. Or even a chinless ophthalmologist. If everybody knows you’re not willing to use the stick, there’s no point is speaking at all.

Joe Doakes

Well, to be fair, the citizens require so much supervision that it’s hard to spare much effort for overseas “enemies”.

Don’t Turn Around

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is sitting at a stoplight when his car is jolted from behind. 

Wearily, BERG gets out of his car and walks to the car that has bumped his rear bumper.  Avery LIBRELLE sits at the driver’s seat, still furiously typing on a mobile device.

BERG:  (Recognizes LIBRELLE):  Oh, jeez.   You know you slid into my…

LIBRELLE:  Wait!  (furiously finishes typing comment onto news website).  OK.  What now?

BERG:  Well, you sorta slid into my back bumper.  (Checks bumper).  Not much damage, but still…

LIBRELLE:  Yeah, well, I had to comment on this Ukraine thing.  The Administration is doing a heck of a job.

BERG:  The Administration is doing nothing at all.

LIBRELLE:  Well, we only have so much we can do.  We have no credibility.

BERG:   I’ll say.  Obama has pretty much…

LIBRELLE:   No, you racist, it’s not Obama.  It’s the US.  We have no credibility on human rights issues.

BERG:  What now?

LIBRELLE:  Look at slavery!  Look at what we did with the Indians.

BERG:  Wait.  Slavery – which we fought a civil war to abolish 150 years ago – and the wars against the Native Americans, which ended 120 years ago, destroy our credibility today?

LIBRELLE:  Absolutely.  And the people of the Crimea just voted, 93% of them, to rejoin Russia.

BERG: In an election in which they were surrounded by Russian troops.

LIBRELLE:  So that invalidates the elections in Afghanistan and Iraq, then?

BERG: (slowly shakes head).  You do realize that justifying a larger, aggressive nation swallowing up parts of smaller nations based purely on ethnicity is how the west rationalized Germany taking the Sudetenland, don’t you?

LIBRELLE:  Bla bla bla.  Russia is liberating Crimea from the Ukrainitarians, who unlawfully stole it from them.

BERG:   OK, about that.  Let’s run, for sake of argument, with the idea that slavery and the conquest of the American Indians invalidates America’s claim to being a moral player.

LIBRELLE:  It does.

BERG:   Even though it happened over 110 years ago, and our society has spent the better part of the past 40-50 years atoning for both, which is something no other society on earth haseverdone for societies they previously conquered and enslaved.

LIBRELLE:   Bla bla bla.  Do you have a point?

BERG:   I always have a point.  You do realize that the reason the Crimea is ethnically Russian is that the Russians murdered, starved and deported the vast majority of the non-Russian natives of the region back in the twenties through the forties, and shipped in ethnic Russians to replace them, don’t you?  That is to say, within the past seventy to ninety years, they either murdered the people who lived there at the time – the Tatars, the Turks, the German-Russians and all other other ethnic groups that used to live there – in an ethnic cleansing no less brutal than Wounded Knee and the Trail of Tears, but within living memory, as they were also starving Ukraine into submission - or shipped them off to the steppes and a fate not one iota less horrible than slavery?

LIBRELLE:  Your point?

BERG:  You deny the US has any moral weight, but ignore vastly worse and more recent crimes to fit your narrative.

LIBRELLE:   Bla bla bla.  Hey, you have insurance, right?  Could you get this one?

(And SCENE)

Blurred Lines

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Fernandez explains why Obama making speeches about red lines in Syria or Ukraine is a bad thing:

“During the height of the Cold War it was believed that having to emphasize the obvious represented a failure of policy. Deterrence had to be self-evident; a daily thing. You didn’t go on the air to issue bloodcurdling warnings. You didn’t have to because stability was there, part of the normal like the air or the earth. The Russian president only had to look at the his daily briefing to know that the USAF was flying and hence that the day could begin as peacefully as the previous one. . . . When an American president has to issue veiled warnings to Vladimir Putin — say something that Putin should know as second nature — then something terrible has happened. Some upset has occurred. A thing that was previously there to keep the floor level has gone missing. Why else should President Obama have to make a pointless observation on TV to communicate something that Putin should know from the moment he puts on his socks in the morning?”

Obviously, the thing that has gone missing is backbone.  Putin knows Americans lack the will to fight a war for Ukraine and that Obama’s threats are meaningless bluster.  That’s a destabilizing change in the geo-political world, it invites behaviors previously kept locked down.  China gets wind of this and realizes the implications, Obama’s Pivot To The Far East might be in jeopardy.

Joe Doakes

One of the most important things Reagan did to face off the Soviets (via their Polish communist puppets) in 1981 was not to warn anyone about anything; it was to invite an asylum-seeking ambassador to the White House.  It showed resolve – Reagan poked a finger in the commies’ eye, both nuanced and very, very in the eye.

That was a shot across the bow.