Category Archives: Foreign Policy

‘Oh What A Tangled Web We Weave When First We Practice To Deceive’

Foreign Policy, Iran, Islam, Terrorism

The dilemmas faced by “a mulish military power which doesn’t know Shiite from Shinola” are enormous.

The Yemeni president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, resigned on Jan. 22, “after Houthi rebels seeking greater political power effectively seized control of the capital, Sanaa.” (Foreign Policy)

For years, Yemenis had felt the brunt of “U.S.-trained units of elite Yemeni special forces” combined with CIA drone strikes from above. Now the superpower must decide “whether, and how, to cooperate with the Houthis — who are widely seen as an Iranian proxy force — in the fight against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Yemeni-based group that claimed to have orchestrated this month’s attack on the office of Charlie Hebdo.”

The Houthis hate al Qaeda, which is “a Sunni militant group that sees the Houthis and the Iranian as apostates.” So do we, the Americans, hate al Qaeda. But we also hate the Iranians (principally because Israel is threatened by Iran, which is no threat to the US).

Another dynamic is at play besides the Sunni-Shia dynamic. It is that between the forces of centralization, with which the US generally sides (witness Iraq), and the forces of decentralization, with which the Arab people with whom we meddle generally side, given the tribal, familial focus of their societies.

The Houthis are demanding greater regional autonomy (like the Kurds of Iraq); the US is inevitably looking to empower another puppet central power like Hadi’s so as to lord it over its Yemeni client state.

In the words of Sir Walter Scott, “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”


like tweet google+ recommend Print Friendlyprint

Republicans, As Always, Reject George Washington’s Vision For A Foreign Policy

Foreign Policy, Free Markets, libertarianism, Republicans

Conservatives are huffing and puffing because the US has inched slightly closer in its official relationship with Cuba to George Washington’s vision of a foreign policy for the future—one which Ron Paul has always articulated. In his Farewell Address, George Washington counseled that “amicable feelings toward all should be cultivated” through trade and without special favor.

… The nation which indulges toward another an habitual hatred or an habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. … Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand, neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences;


like tweet google+ recommend Print Friendlyprint

Guess Who Warned Against Invading Iraq?

Bush, Foreign Policy, Iraq

Who offered the following astute, if utilitarian, analysis, in mitigation of an invasion of Iraq, in 1994?

… if we had gone to Baghdad we would have been all alone. There wouldn’t have been anybody else with us. It would have been a U.S. occupation of Iraq. None of the Arab forces that were willing to fight with us in Kuwait were willing to invade Iraq. Once you got to Iraq and took it over and took down Saddam Hussein’s government, then what are you going to put in its place? That’s a very volatile part of the world. And if you take down the central government in Iraq, you could easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off. Part of it the Syrians would like to have, the west. Part of eastern Iraq the Iranians would like to claim. Fought over for eight years. In the north, you’ve got the Kurds. And if the Kurds spin loose and join with Kurds in Turkey, then you threaten the territorial integrity of Turkey. It’s a quagmire if you go that far and try to take over Iraq.

Bush’s Vice president Dick Cheney, one of the architects of the invasion of Iraq in 2002, had advised against it in 1994. His predictions as to the destabilization of Iraq—he doesn’t mention the bloodshed, because Cheney was never one to count bodies—have come to pass.


like tweet google+ recommend Print Friendlyprint

No Regrets For Playing With Lives

Barack Obama, Foreign Policy, Intelligence, Military, Terrorism

You can play with lives when you are the POTUS. You give life; you take it. President Barack Obama, like his predecessor, likes to use the levers of powers to score political points. Hoping to score, he launched a failed operation to rescue two hostages from al Qaeda in Yemen: American Luke Somers and South African Pierre Korkie. As a consequence, both hostages were killed mid-raid.

Here’s the rub, via The Hill:

… “A second hostage, South African Pierre Korkie, was also killed by his captors during the raid, to the dismay of his family, who believed they had brokered a ransom payment for his release.
Earnest said the U.S. had no knowledge of the negotiations being taken for Korkie’s release. South Africa’s government, like the U.S., does not negotiate for the release of hostages, but the Korkie family had pursued such a deal privately — although some reports indicated U.S. officials might have been aware of the proceedings.”

Eminently quotable is one of the bimbos on MSNBC’s “The Cycle,” who, when reporting on the dismal failure of Rome’s army to liberate these men, went on to scoff at the “amateur hostage negotiators” who, but for Obama, had in fact accomplished their their mission to ransom their loved one.


like tweet google+ recommend Print Friendlyprint

Gruber Or Curveball?

BAB's A List, Foreign Policy, Free Markets, Healthcare, Iraq, Republicans

By Myron Pauli

Ann Coulter, columnist and perpetual Republican apologist, recently wrote an article [1] contrasting “health care expert” Jonathan Gruber with the row over memos leading the US to War with Iraq. Much as I loathe appearing to be defending Obama against Republicans, Ann is very much wrong in exonerating Republican fabrications vs. Democratic ones.

Let me start with Gruber. However arrogant he is and however much his comic book [2] dumbs down health care complexities to sell this to the American voting booboisie—he embodies precisely what politics is about. Koch, Soros, Rockefeller, Adelson, and Bloomberg spend millions on largely retarded 30 second spots like “Smith is a corrupt pedophile who hates whites, blacks, men, women, gays, old folks, Hispanics, Asians and dogs … ” because they work. Politics is the art of dumbing down and dumb usually wins when repeated often enough.

I also have no intrinsic objection to a Ph.D. “expert” economist making money consulting on health care. In fact, if health insurance were deregulated, there would arguably be a market for consultants to help consumers decide between Missouri Aetna, Pennsylvania Kaiser, Idaho Blue Cross, etc. – with various deductible, co-pay, premiums, maximums, waiting periods, PPO’s, HMO’s, HSA’s, ad nauseum to choose from. If Congress cannot read a 2900 page bill, do you expect the average small business owner or truck driver to sort through all the fine print of competing insurance? In fact, there is a market for insurance agents, travel agents, stockbrokers, hedge fund operators, and career consultants who make money off their expertise on complex matters. My objection is only to Gruber seeking his living by using coercion of the taxpayers, rather than in the private sector. Because health care decisions are both complex and personal, they should be the responsibility of free citizens [3].

But if Gruber was peddling semi-socialized Romneycare and Obamacare to the quasi-ignorant masses, what does one say about an Iraqi Shiite conman named Curveball [4] – a failed engineering student, embezzler, and taxi driver who was put up by friends of neocon hero Chalabi to fabricate ludicrous tales of WMD threats to the $70 billion a year American “intelligence community.” This “intelligence community” passed on these fabrications to be amplified repeatedly with leaks confirming rumors confirming “intelligence” on “Iraqi WMD.”

The price of Curveball has so far been $2 trillion of a wasteful war, destabilization of the Middle East, hundreds of thousands of lives lost, and millions of people driven into exile. The Republicans and Democrats could (but most likely will not) permit free markets in health care (but will probably not do it) and thus Obamacare could be a temporary change in raising or lowering premiums, co-pays, deductibles and paperwork. The damage of a Gruber could be a temporary blip. On the other hand, how do you put the Middle East back together after a decade of destruction and destabilization?

The commonality between the Grubers and the Curveballs is that both involve national coercion – the former to get everyone behind coercive health care mandates and the latter used to commit the nation to an endless series of wars. Welfare State and Warfare State are both part of an ever expanding government and ever expanding debt.

As for Republicans vs. Democrats, you have two rival gangs vying for the levers of power without ever reducing either the welfare state or the warfare state. At best, they can both express hypocritical shock that the other side would “lie to the American people.” And the American people go along with the “good cop/bad cop” deception as if in the interrogation room of a Law and Order episode. To reduce critical thinking to arguments of the relative merits of Gruber’s vs. Curveball’s deception is merely to go along with the larger partisan deception.

Gruber and Curveball are just able to make a buck along the way from willing government customers. In physics, a thermodynamic quantity called entropy (related to disorder) always increases. Similarly, as Jefferson noted, “the natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground.”

====== ====

[1] http://townhall.com/columnists/anncoulter/2014/11/19/isnt-jonathan-gruber-worse-than-the-downing-street-memo-n1921260
[2] http://video.mit.edu/watch/mit-economist-gruber-clarifies-health-care-law-in-a-comic-book-11139/
[3] http://barelyablog.com/only-a-sicko-trusts-the-state-with-his-health/
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curveball_%28informant%29

******************

Barely a Blog (BAB) contributor Myron Pauli grew up in Sunnyside Queens, went off to college in Cleveland and then spent time in a mental institution in Cambridge MA (MIT) with Benjamin Netanyahu (did not know him), and others until he was released with the “hostages” and Jimmy Carter on January 20, 1981, having defended his dissertation in nuclear physics. Most of the time since, he has worked on infrared sensors, mainly at Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC. He was NOT named after Ron Paul but is distantly related to physicist Wolftgang Pauli; unfortunately, only the “good looks” were handed down and not the brains. He writes assorted song lyrics and essays reflecting his cynicism and classical liberalism. Click on the “BAB’s A List” category to access the Pauli archive.


like tweet google+ recommend Print Friendlyprint

UPDATED: Don’t Get ‘Grubered’ By W’s Groupies

Barack Obama, Bush, Conservatism, Constitution, Democrats, Foreign Policy, Media, Natural Law, Republicans

The current column, “Don’t Get ‘Grubered’ By W’s Groupies,” now on WND, is just in time for Barack Obama’s logically “broken” address on immigration is . An excerpt:

On Fox News’ “The Five,” one female host energetically involved in genuflecting to George Bush turned to another, a former prosecutor and lingerie model, to solicit her “constitutional take”—those are shudder quotes—on President Barack Obama’s impending executive amnesty. A better constitutional authority on presidential powers than Kimberly G-string is Jonathan Turley, professor of law at George Washington University. …

… Barack Obama’s cringe-factor has crescendoed—so much so that conservatives feel comfortable about dusting off an equally awful dictator, Bush 43, and presenting him and his dynasty to the public for another round. However, when James Madison spoke of “war as the true nurse of executive aggrandizement,” he was speaking not only of Obama.

“Speak softly but carry a big stick—the stick being executive power,” preached another Republican tyrant, Teddy Roosevelt. While Turley will be tackling the constitutional quagmire posed by Obamacare, immigration is the latest legislative stick with which Americans are being stuck.

Greg Gutfeld, the one and only neoconservative on that current-affairs show mentioned who entertains and occasionally edifies, is correct about the “broken” inchoate verbiage: “Our immigration system is broken” is a euphemism for the refusal to enforce immigration law (against certain ethno-racial groups). It is statist semantics; Orwellian Newspeaks; a linguistic trick to lead Americans to believe urgent action is required. …

Read the rest. The complete column is “Don’t Get ‘Grubered’ By W’s Groupies,” now on WND.

UPDATE: A reply to a critic, here:

The time to be a follower of Bush ditto-heads is over. Ask the Bush groupies why they ooze over and promote a mass murderer and his ugly art, on what is supposed to be a current-affairs program. This column was simply reporting what’s discussed on these multiplying panels of pig-ignorant loudmouths. (By the way, strong language is not vitriol.) Moreover, why confuse sexiness with smarts/ideas?! There is a reason Ann Coulter and Ms. Malkin don’t get a TV show: they are too clever for the cable master’s comfort. It is up to the consumer of this dross (“The Five,” “Outnumbered”) to know he is being entertained and not edified by most cable and nitwork shows. If he does—he should be OK.


like tweet google+ recommend Print Friendlyprint