In Praise Of The French

Conservatives love ripping on the French. In the aftermath of 9/11, when W was building his coalition to go to Afghanistan and then Iraq, the French were famously reticent – which bade many conservatives to start referring to The French as “cheese eating surrender monkeys”, among other things.

(As we’ve noted in the space in the past, this is also a reference – largely mistaken – to World War II. As illiterate as Liberals are about history, let it not be said that some conservatives don’t have their blind spots as well).

Conservatives who criticize the French are blinded to the key fact that the French stance was not a bug – it was a feature.

In 1986, the great military historian Edwin Luttwak wrote the classic, seminal book “The Pentagon and the Art of War”. In the book, Luttwak affixed the blame for five straight American military debacles (Vietnam, the Mayagüez incident, Desert One, Reagan’s Lebanon operation and the successful but sloppy and costly invasion of Grenada) to the fact that America had no strategy – or, rather, an underlying strategy that was entirely based on refighting a worldwide conventional war, like World War II.

In short, America’s defensive posture did not have a clear goal that related to the world we were in in the 1980s,  and our military was not built, equipped or trained to accomplish the things it did face.

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Line Up That Second Peace Prize!

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Remember when all President Obama planned to do was cure the sick, end joblessness, slow the rise of the oceans, heal the planet, end war, secure our nation’s borders and restore our nation’s image abroad?

That was nothing.

Now he’s going to “eliminate the the schism between Sunni and Shia that has been fueling so much of the violence in Syria, in Iraq.”

As Powerline asks:“Whoa! We are going to ‘eliminate the schism between Sunni and Shia?’ The schism that goes back to the 7th Century? And we are going to “eliminate the schism” through diplomacy?”

No. Not “we.” President Barack Obama, possibly assisted by Secretary of State John Kerry. After all they have promised to accomplish so far, why would you have any doubt? Nobel Committee, call your office.

Joe Doakes

In a side note, in re last night’s speech, a friend of mine texted me in re the President saying ISIS – the “Islamic State in Syria” – “wasn’t Muslim” [1]; apparently their name is…

“Innocent Separatists Impacted by Sophistry”.

Naturally.

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Defense

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

President Obama will address the nation Wednesday, September 10th, outlining his plans to fight Islamic terrorists.

Islamic terrorists have hit America twice on September 11th. If they have something lined up and hit us again on Thursday, right after President Obama tells the world his grand plan to fight Islamic terror, the entire world will him revealed as a clueless but arrogant poseur. No Greek playwright would have written a character with that much hubris, the audience wouldn’t have believed it.

Do I want to see American interests hit by terrorists just to see Barack Obama humiliated? As Jack Benny used to say: “I’m thinking.”

Joe Doakes

I get Joe’s point – but I’m not thinking about it.  Of course not. 

The problem, of course, is that the questions “to attack or not to attack?”, and “where and when?”, are questions that belong to those who are on the offensive; those who have what in strategic and tactical circles is called “the initiative”, or in sports circles “momentum”. 

Say what you will about the US’s actions between 2002 and 2008 – the human, financial and moral costs, the politics, the morals of the tactics and methods and the whole enterprise – but we were on the offensive.  We, largely, chose when and where the war would be fought. 

We’re on defensive now.  We – Barack Obama – lost the initiative; squandered the “momentum”. 

The other side chooses whether Barack Obama spends tomorrow in the Situation Room or on the Golf Course. 

I’m praying for Golf. 

The problem is, they’ll choose it the next day, and the week after that, and the month after that…

…and “ensuring that we’re the ones who make that choice – and make it a moot one through sheer force of diplomatic, moral and if necessary military power” is one of precious few legitimate reasons to have a government.

The Power Of Suggestion

To:  Progressives (again)
From: Mitch Berg, Uppity Peasant
Re:  Scotland’s Independence Vote

As someone who is of partly-Scottish descent (and it’s the part I have the most fun with), I’m looking at the potential Scottish independence vote (which is, according to some current polls, neck and neck, with the “leave the union” vote nosing ahead according to some polls) with great interest. 

Only partly because of the whole “personal ethnicity” thing. 

No, there are two aspects that are much more important

Dilution:  Scotland is as big a Labour Party stronghold as California and Massachussets are Democrat ones.  Having the Scots out of the Union would have a dramatic effect on English governance (according to John Fund writing in the National Review):

Scottish voters are currently much more hostile than the U.K. electorate overall to free markets — Scots view capitalism as the basis for the Thatcher government’s decision to close unprofitable Scottish industries in the 1980s. Currently, Scotland sends only one Conservative member of parliament to Westminister. The departure of Scottish MPs from Westminster would be dramatic: If 59 Labour-party and Scottish National MPs from Scotland leave Westminster, Tories in the current House of Commons would go from being 21 seats short of a majority to having an outright 20-seat majority. “It is unlikely that without Scotland the rest of the United Kingdom would elect a majority Labour government anytime soon,” says Eamonn Butler of the Adam Smith Institute.

And that could only be a good thing.

Perhaps better? 

No More Government By Unicorn Fart!:  John Fund compares the potential breakup with that of Czechoslovakia – a nation that similarly jammed two ethnicities together in a union that was more a matter of post World War 1 convenience than actual organic need. 

Fund notes that, once the Slovaks gained their independence, and got cut off from all of that Czech free-market money, they got a sudden reality check; the subsidy gravy train was over, and they had to become responsible adults. 

Fund notes that the Scots could have that same sort of ephiphany:

Even with its oil revenue, the same phenomenon could occur in Scotland, where the ruling Scottish National party has often pursued foolish economic policies. With independence, a new government might be more realistic…The stringent policies of the Bank of England and the loss of subsidies could push Scotland to become more fiscally responsible. “Scotland would eventually be forced into a more severe form of fiscal austerity than currently applied, giving the lie to Alex Salmond’s promise of a sort of welfare nirvana for all Scots once free of the Westminster yoke,” ["Salmond" is apparently Scottish for "Krugman"] wrote Jeremy Warner, assistant editor of Britain’s Daily Telegraph. “For the rest of the U.K., losing relatively pro-EU Scotland would further raise the chances of eventually leaving the EU from odds on to that of a virtual certainty,” he added.

Just saying, “Progressives” – you might want to get some ideas, here. 

That is all.

Two Steps Back

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The UN has peacekeepers acting as a buffer in the Golan Heights between Syria and Israel. Syrian rebels associated with Al Qaeda demanded UN troops from Fiji surrender, which they did. The Fijian troops were taken hostage.

Syrian rebels also demanded UN troops from the Philippines surrender, which they refused to do. The Syrian rebels attacked the Pilipinos, who retreated into Israel as Irish UN forces covered their retreat and Syrian government forces shelled the Syrian rebels to prevent pursuit.

The captured Fijians remain captured. The Pilipinos want an investigation into why the UN commander from India ordered Phillipino and Fijian peacekeepers to surrender to terrorists. Now the officer who refused to surrender to terrorists has been placed on leave.

And that’s the problem with the UN peacekeeping idea in general. Nobody cares if the other country’s guys get killed defending some worthless land in somebody else’s back yard. It isn’t our country so we’re not going to let our guys die for it. But if yours do, well, that’s okay.

Bad enough when it’s UN troops. Worse if it’s American troops. Let Israel off the leash and the problem will be solved in days, if not hours.

Joe Doakes

“Peace” is not always synonymous with “absence of shooting”.

Reindeer Games

Sweden – which has been slowly drawing down the strength of its air force, once the world’s fourth-largest, since the end of the Cold War – is buying more fighter planes

And Finland – which has fought two wars with Russia in the past century – is noticing more Russian incursions into their airspace

Good thing we’ve got President Obama’s crackerjack diplomacy to ease tensions around the world, huh?

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.