Category Archives: Foreign Policy

UPDATED: CPUKE 2015 (Ann Coulter Joins Libertarians, Gets Off Warpath)

Conservatism, Constitution, Foreign Policy, libertarianism, Military, Neoconservatism, Political Philosophy, Regulation, Republicans

Well, well, like the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference, CPUKE 2015 is lighter on the bimbo factor of yesteryear—CPUKE usually showcases retards like S. E. Cupp and assorted Townhall.com twits—but heavier with the weight of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY) are as close as it gets to constitutional conservatism. When quizzed by Fox News’ Sean Hannity about their positions on The Issues, both left drugs and marriage to the states. It would appear that the two are the only candidates standing for the Republican Party who reject centralized federal control over drugs and marriage. Libertarians want the state, local and national, out of marriage and drug use—the last must be legalized. So while the Cruz/Paul position is a compromise, it’s better than the rest. Cruz is far more intelligent and personable than Paul, so observing his intellectual virtuosity is more enjoyable.

Building up the largest military in the world, ours, it the focus of the megalomaniacal Donald Trump, who needs to go away for once and for all. “The business mogul is motivated by the sense that the nimbus of great power that surrounds the US is dissipating. It hasn’t occurred to him to search closer to home for the causes of America’s economic anemia—at Fanny, Freddie, and the Fed, for a start. Since Trump has no idea what’s potting, and is not eager to look in his own plate — he blames OPEC, China and Mexico for the burdens of doing business in the US.” More from “Sinophobia Trumps Common Sense”:

The Trump plan to reclaim global greatness and glory includes a strategy America has yet to try: the use of force, of course. Strutting around on the world stage, showing those Russians, Saudis, Chinese amd Mexicans who is boss: this may serve as a perfect panacea for the deficiencies in Trump’s persona, but is hardly a solution to US woes, at home or abroad.

Sadly, most other Republicans will echo these themes and the mob will cheer them. The WSJ summed up the overall lukewarm reaction to a libertarian foreign policy:

Many among [Paul followers] seemed receptive to his more restrained view of the use of military might, but the audience throughout the conference has responded enthusiastically to hawkish messages from the podium. Some of the best-received applause lines throughout the conference have been bellicose language and criticism of Mr. Obama’s foreign policy.

Mr. Paul linked his call for foreign policy limits to the kind of anti-government rhetoric that is popular with conservatives.

“We should not succumb to the notion that a government inept at home will somehow become successful abroad, that a government that is unable to deliver the mail will somehow be able to build nations’ abroad,” he said.

Later.

UPDATE I (2/28): It doesn’t take much to obliterate the lessons of history and political philosophy. CPUKE followers are on the warpath. From the Facebook thread:

Craig Smith: Many things to comment on here, and variously agree/disagree with. That event could have been much better orchestrated. But your comments which belittle the clamor for a militarily-revitalized are puzzling, especially against the backdrop of both an ever-increasingly dangerous world and Obama’s gutting, emasculating, and purging of the American military. I know that you are aware of all of this as well as anyone. I don’t have exactly the same opinion of all the parties that you criticize here. But I am wondering if you blurred the distinction of criticizing these individuals as individuals with the policy or policies they advocate.
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Ilana Mercer: Come again, Craig Smith!!!! I was under the impression you were aware that this was a libertarian Timeline of a libertarian writer. You appear to have strong, simmering neoconservative leanings. Time to start reading the good stuff again, Craig Smith…See More
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Craig Smith: I never forget that you are a strict libertarian. I like the novelty, but not all strict libertarianism seems viable to me. Nor, in the context even of all your works, does all of it always seem internally consistent. In any case, I urge an inventory-taking on what I brought up above.

Ilana Mercer: Craig Smith, you urge that I change on the basis of nothing but your drinking of the CPUKE Kool-Aid. I urge that you do the reading over the next few days of stuff that is as predictive as it was when first written. Why must I change when all I have predicted has panned out? All my predictions and analyses since 2002 have stood the test of time, so why must I change my philosophy? Here’s a better idea: do the reading. In “PUNDITS, HEAL THYSELVES!” (2004) I give some analogies to the advice of the pundits you urge me to follow. Some good lines.

UPDATE II: Ann Coulter Joins Libertarians, Gets Off Warpath. Doff of the hat to Kerry Crowel for the alert. He writes:

Have you read Ann Coulter’s latest column? … I think she’s been reading from the Mercer backlog. Especially the bit about “politicians obsessed with cleaning up the rest of the world.”


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Barack Obama — All American Boy

Barack Obama, Foreign Policy, Founding Fathers, Liberty

By Myron Robert Pauli

In scientific research and on Jeopardy, it is essential to ask the right question. However the American media consistently ask the dumbest questions. Hence, we are treated to discussions of, “Are the 9/11 hijacker-murderers ‘brave’ or ‘cowards’”? Another idiotic debate is: “Are the millions of Sunnis, Shiites, Alawites, Sufis, Salafis, and Wahabbis who hate our guts ‘real Moslems’”? Alternatively, “Is Barack Obama a Christian?” (Should I care?).

Now, the latest stupidity of the week, thanks to Rudi Giuliani, is “Is Barack Obama Anti-American”? Well, let’s look which American Presidents received over 51% of the popular vote in TWO Presidential elections – in order of popularity (envelope please): Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Andy Jackson, Ulysses Grant, and rounding up the top 5 is Barack Obama! Are American voters “Anti-American”?

How about our government – all the civilian employees and contractors working for TSA, BATF, INS, Education, Agriculture, State, Commerce, Labor, Post Office, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Federal Reserve, HUD, EPA, IRS, GSA, GAO … – they work for him and carry out his executive orders. Are they “Anti-American”? How about the taxpayers who support the government – “Anti-American”?

How about “the troops”? Don’t they wipe out 13 year old foreigners and 16 year old Americans on the say-so of prosecutor, judge, jury, and Chief Executioner Obama? Don’t they drop bombs on Syria, Yemen, Libya, Pakistan, etc. on his say so without a declaration of war? Don’t they snap their heels and salute when HE walks into the room? Are the troops “Anti-American”?

Of course, Giuliani and McCain think that Obama is “Anti-American” because he hasn’t bombed, sent troops, and messed around in enough countries – Iran, China, Russia, and Ukraine – maybe one day Liechtenstein? Presumably, George Washington who said “Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none; or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.” would be American-hater number.”

Now one might ask instead whether Obama is Anti-Liberty? After all, America was founded in 1776 “to secure our rights” and it is difficult to point out how our liberties have improved under Obama. As Franklin noted in 1787, the Constitution “ .. can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other.” As for presidential powers, Washington noted: “But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.”

Dead white Protestant slaveowners don’t count.

Well, folks, the solar system has traveled 2 light-months around the galaxy since 1776 – that is a long distance. In 2015, Americans who advocate for the 2nd Amendment or the 10th Amendment are put on watch lists. Fight with the TSA over the agency’s “right” to “touch [your] junk”, and you’ll land in jail. Expose NSA spying on Americans and you are Edward Snowden, traitor exiled in Russia.

And what of the “Tea Party Patriots” who wave their flags, support the troops, and denounce Obama? They (correctly in my opinion) denounce “unelected judges” who want to impose gay marriage but then insist on a “Balanced Budget America” which would remove budgetary authority from the (corrupt Republican) Congress and hand it over to Sonia Sotomayor! If the police SWAT team force an Orthodox Rabbi to perform a transgendered wedding and a sniper shoots a Catholic nun who refuses to perform an abortion, will the Tea Party Patriots applaud the SWAT team and the sniper? If there is a disconnect between America 1776 and America 2015, you’d better make up your mind! It is as if Sam Adams paraded around with a King George T-Shirt, waving the British flag, and shouting “Support the Redcoats”! You cannot serve both G-d and Mammon, folks!

In 2012, 99% of Americans chose Gruber-inspired-Romneycare or Gruber-inspired-Obamacare, Leave No Child Behind, bailouts, Patriot Act, student loans, etc. Only 1% voted Libertarian. Barry Goldwater talked about making Social Security optional and he was considered an “extremist nutcase”. The Senators who opposed the (phony) Gulf of Tonkin resolution were promptly defeated. Dissent is allowed but the voters will ignore or denounce you. A Grover Cleveland stating that “The lessons of paternalism ought to be unlearned and the better lesson taught that while the people should patriotically and cheerfully support their Government its functions do not include the support of the people.” would flop in 2015.

America loves its Welfare-Welfare State and in 2015, Obama is the quintessential American.

******
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.

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UPDATED: Ron Paul On Ukraine (Questioning The Media Monolith)

Foreign Policy, libertarianism, Propaganda, Ron Paul, Russia

Ron Paul chronicles what went down between Kiev, the Kremlin and the confederacy of knaves in DC. He asks:

“What if John McCain had stayed home and worried about his constituents in Arizona instead of non-constituents 6,000 miles away? What if the other US and EU politicians had done the same? What if Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt had focused on actual diplomacy instead of regime change?”

The history of meddling and regime change:

It was one year ago last weekend that a violent coup overthrew the legally elected government of Ukraine. That coup was not only supported by US and EU governments — much of it was actually planned by them. Looking back at the events that led to the overthrow it is clear that without foreign intervention Ukraine would not be in its current, seemingly hopeless situation.

By the end of 2013, Ukraine’s economy was in ruins. The government was desperate for an economic bailout and then-president Yanukovych first looked west to the US and EU before deciding to accept an offer of help from Russia. Residents of south and east Ukraine, who largely speak Russian and trade extensively with Russia were pleased with the decision. West Ukrainians who identify with Poland and Europe began to protest. Ukraine is a deeply divided country and the president came from the eastern region.

At this point the conflict was just another chapter in Ukraine’s difficult post-Soviet history. There was bound to be some discontent over the decision, but if there had been no foreign intervention in support of the protests you would likely not be reading this column today. The problem may well have solved itself in due time rather than escalated into a full-out civil war. But the interventionists in the US and EU won out again, and their interventionist project has been a disaster.

The protests at the end of 2013 grew more dramatic and violent and soon a steady stream of US and EU politicians were openly participating, as protesters called for the overthrow of the Ukrainian government. Senator John McCain made several visits to Kiev and even addressed the crowd to encourage them.

Imagine if a foreign leader like Putin or Assad came to Washington to encourage protesters to overthrow the Obama Administration!

As we soon found out from a leaked telephone call, the US ambassador in Kiev and Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, were making detailed plans for a new government in Kiev after the legal government was overthrown with their assistance. …

MORE.

David Warsh, proprietor of economicprincipals.com, also questions the media monolith:

… Notice anything funny about this narrative? Putin is always the impulsive actor, never the one who is acted upon. He is never reacting to anything that NATO or the Americans do.

There is nothing here about NATO expansion. Nothing about the brief 2008 war with Georgia. Nothing about the continuing controversy about who fired the shots on Kiev’s Maidan square, nothing about the phone call by US Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland, taped by the Russians at the height of the crisis; nothing about the Russian naval base at Sevastopol on the Black Sea. Nothing about the sanctions imposed on the Russians since the crisis began. Nothing about the Ukrainian army offensives in the southeast. Nothing about the Ukrainian vote to join NATO that may have triggered the January offensive. Nothing to note that all this is happening on Russia’s doorstep. Is it any wonder Putin is “doubling down”?

The scariest thing of all is that it may be Putin who has been telling the fundamental truth all along: NATO expansion in Georgia Ukraine is unacceptable to him and Russia is willing to go to war to rule it out. He’s been improvising, all right, but often in response to probes – Ukrainian, European, US. For a fuller argument along these lines, see Gordon Hahn’s illuminating commentary on The American Education of Vladimir Putin, by Clifford Gaddy and Fiona Hill, which appears in The Atlantic for February. …

MORE.


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UPDATED: Contra Marie Barf, Here’s Why ISIS Acts Up, Just A Little (Ms. Barf, ‘Exhibit A’)

Foreign Policy, Islam, Jihad, Middle East, Pseudoscience, Psychiatry, Socialism, Terrorism

What do you get when you combine intellectual inconsequentialness, schoolmarmishess, tartishness and a generous dollop of fem affirmative action? Meet stumblebum Marie Harf, the sibilant spokeswoman at the State Department. It goes without saying that another ingredient in the making of this insufferable specimen is family ties, nepotism of the kind described in “Brian Williams: member of media circle jerk.”.

The weak-minded Barf offered up the root-causes rot as the reason members of ISIS are acting up:

We need in the medium to longer term to go after the root causes that leads [sic] people to join these groups, whether it’s lack of opportunity for jobs … We can work with countries around the world to help improve their governance. We can help them build their economies so they can have job opportunities for these people…

Barf forgot to include the unscientific, biological reductionism that would attach a medical diagnosis to any and all misbehavior. Personally, my read on Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is Attention Deficit Disorder. A cure all: anger management and medication.

UPDATE: Retired Lieutenant Ralph Peters—he’s no favorite due to his mad militarism—did, however, nail it on Hannity, offering that Marie Barf is exhibit A for the failure of the American education system. Like myself, Lieutenant Peters checked on Barf’s education. She has an MA in Foreign Affairs from University of Virginia.

Promulgated by Barf, the argument upon which “The Root-Causes Racket” rests is refuted analytically in CHAPTER 5 of “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa.”

A superb antidote to Barf’s widely shared boorishness is “What ISIS Really Wants,” by Graeme Wood, editor at The Atlantic:

[BEGIN EXCERPT]

“The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.” …

… We can gather that their state rejects peace as a matter of principle; that it hungers for genocide; that its religious views make it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change, even if that change might ensure its survival; and that it considers itself a harbinger of—and headline player in—the imminent end of the world.

The Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), follows a distinctive variety of Islam whose beliefs about the path to the Day of Judgment matter to its strategy, and can help the West know its enemy and predict its behavior. Its rise to power is less like the triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (a group whose leaders the Islamic State considers apostates) than like the realization of a dystopian alternate reality in which David Koresh or Jim Jones survived to wield absolute power over not just a few hundred people, but some 8 million.[I disagree with this fatuous analogy, so typical of the liberal mindset.]

… We are misled in a second way, by a well-intentioned but dishonest campaign to deny the Islamic State’s medieval religious nature. …

… In fact, much of what the group does looks nonsensical except in light of a sincere, carefully considered commitment to returning civilization to a seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately to bringing about the apocalypse. …

… his exhortation to attack crops directly echoed orders from Muhammad to leave well water and crops alone—unless the armies of Islam were in a defensive position, in which case Muslims in the lands of kuffar, or infidels, should be unmerciful, and poison away. …

… The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam. …

… Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal. …

… Denying the holiness of the Koran or the prophecies of Muhammad is straightforward apostasy. But Zarqawi and the state he spawned take the position that many other acts can remove a Muslim from Islam. These include, in certain cases, selling alcohol or drugs, wearing Western clothes or shaving one’s beard, voting in an election—even for a Muslim candidate—and being lax about calling other people apostates. Being a Shiite, as most Iraqi Arabs are, meets the standard as well, because the Islamic State regards Shiism as innovation, and to innovate on the Koran is to deny its initial perfection. (The Islamic State claims that common Shiite practices, such as worship at the graves of imams and public self-flagellation, have no basis in the Koran or in the example of the Prophet.) That means roughly 200 million Shia are marked for death. So too are the heads of state of every Muslim country, who have elevated man-made law above Sharia by running for office or enforcing laws not made by God. …

… Many mainstream Muslim organizations have gone so far as to say the Islamic State is, in fact, un-Islamic. It is, of course, reassuring to know that the vast majority of Muslims have zero interest in replacing Hollywood movies with public executions as evening entertainment. But Muslims who call the Islamic State un-Islamic are typically, as the Princeton scholar Bernard Haykel, the leading expert on the group’s theology, told me, “embarrassed and politically correct, with a cotton-candy view of their own religion” that neglects “what their religion has historically and legally required.” Many denials of the Islamic State’s religious nature, he said, are rooted in an “interfaith-Christian-nonsense tradition.” …

… Every academic I asked about the Islamic State’s ideology sent me to Haykel. Of partial Lebanese descent, Haykel grew up in Lebanon and the United States, and when he talks through his Mephistophelian goatee, there is a hint of an unplaceable foreign accent. …

… The Koran specifies crucifixion as one of the only punishments permitted for enemies of Islam. The tax on Christians finds clear endorsement in the Surah Al-Tawba, the Koran’s ninth chapter, which instructs Muslims to fight Christians and Jews “until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” The Prophet, whom all Muslims consider exemplary, imposed these rules and owned slaves.

Leaders of the Islamic State have taken emulation of Muhammad as strict duty, and have revived traditions that have been dormant for hundreds of years. “What’s striking about them is not just the literalism, but also the seriousness with which they read these texts” …

… “ISIS, by contrast, is really reliving the early period.” Early Muslims were surrounded by non-Muslims, and the Islamic State, because of its takfiri tendencies, considers itself to be in the same situation.

If al-Qaeda wanted to revive slavery, it never said so. And why would it? Silence on slavery probably reflected strategic thinking, with public sympathies in mind: when the Islamic State began enslaving people, even some of its supporters balked. Nonetheless, the caliphate has continued to embrace slavery and crucifixion without apology. “We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women,” Adnani, the spokesman, promised …

… Tens of thousands of foreign Muslims are thought to have immigrated to the Islamic State. Recruits hail from France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Australia, Indonesia, the United States, and many other places. Many have come to fight, and many intend to die. …

… Baghdadi spoke at length of the importance of the caliphate in his Mosul sermon. He said that to revive the institution of the caliphate—which had not functioned except in name for about 1,000 years—was a communal obligation. He and his loyalists had “hastened to declare the caliphate and place an imam” at its head, he said. “This is a duty upon the Muslims—a duty that has been lost for centuries … The Muslims sin by losing it, and they must always seek to establish it.” Like bin Laden before him, Baghdadi spoke floridly, with frequent scriptural allusion and command of classical rhetoric. Unlike bin Laden, and unlike those false caliphs of the Ottoman empire, he is Qurayshi. …

… the Muslim who acknowledges one omnipotent god and prays, but who dies without pledging himself to a valid caliph and incurring the obligations of that oath, has failed to live a fully Islamic life. I pointed out that this means the vast majority of Muslims in history, and all who passed away between 1924 and 2014, died a death of disbelief …

… they regard[ed] the caliphate as the only righteous government on Earth, though none would confess having pledged allegiance. …

That whole package [of the Sharia] … would include free housing, food, and clothing for all, though of course anyone who wished to enrich himself with work could do so. …

… The Islamic State may have medieval-style punishments for moral crimes (lashes for boozing or fornication, stoning for adultery), but its social-welfare program is, at least in some aspects, progressive to a degree that would please an MSNBC pundit. Health care … is free. (“Isn’t it free in Britain, too?,” I asked. “Not really,” he said. “Some procedures aren’t covered, such as vision.”) This provision of social welfare was not … a policy choice of the Islamic State, but a policy obligation inherent in God’s law. …

… the state has an obligation to terrorize its enemies—a holy order to scare the shit out of them with beheadings and crucifixions and enslavement of women and children, because doing so hastens victory and avoids prolonged conflict. …

Islamic law permits only temporary peace treaties, lasting no longer than a decade. Similarly, accepting any border is anathema, as stated by the Prophet and echoed in the Islamic State’s propaganda videos. If the caliph consents to a longer-term peace or permanent border, he will be in error. Temporary peace treaties are renewable, but may not be applied to all enemies at once: the caliph must wage jihad at least once a year. He may not rest, or he will fall into a state of sin. …

… One comparison to the Islamic State is the Khmer Rouge, which killed about a third of the population of Cambodia. …

The biggest proponent of an American invasion is the Islamic State itself. The provocative videos, in which a black-hooded executioner addresses President Obama by name, are clearly made to draw America into the fight. An invasion would be a huge propaganda victory for jihadists worldwide: …

… A few “lone wolf” supporters of the Islamic State have attacked Western targets, and more attacks will come. But most of the attackers have been frustrated amateurs, unable to immigrate to the caliphate because of confiscated passports or other problems. Even if the Islamic State cheers these attacks—and it does in its propaganda—it hasn’t yet planned and financed one. (The Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in January was principally an al?Qaeda operation.) …

… Muslims can say that slavery is not legitimate now, and that crucifixion is wrong at this historical juncture. Many say precisely this. But they cannot condemn slavery or crucifixion outright without contradicting the Koran and the example of the Prophet. “The only principled ground that the Islamic State’s opponents could take is to say that certain core texts and traditional teachings of Islam are no longer valid,” Bernard Haykel says. That really would be an act of apostasy. …

… these men spoke with an academic precision that put me in mind of a good graduate seminar. I even enjoyed their company, and that frightened me as much as anything else. …

… the Islamic State[:] when they get to questions about social upheaval, they sound like Che Guevara.” …

… Western officials would probably do best to refrain from weighing in on matters of Islamic theological debate altogether. Barack Obama himself drifted into takfiri waters when he claimed that the Islamic State was “not Islamic”—the irony being that he, as the non-Muslim son of a Muslim, may himself be classified as an apostate, and yet is now practicing takfir against Muslims. Non-Muslims’ practicing takfir elicits chuckles from jihadists (“Like a pig covered in feces giving hygiene advice to others,” one tweeted). …

… most Muslims aren’t susceptible to joining jihad. The ones who are susceptible will only have had their suspicions confirmed: the United States lies about religion to serve its purposes. …

[SNIP]

MORE of this remarkable essay.


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Senseless in Syria?

Foreign Policy, Islam, Jihad

The tale of American hostage Kayla Mueller, who died recently while in the custody of ISIS, gets increasingly curious by the minute.

While a veteran intelligence reporter at CNN stated today that he very much doubted ISIS would have “given” Mueller to one of its fighters as some sort of a prize bride, this is indeed what “intelligence officials” are telling CNN.

Moreover, Ms. Mueller, it would appear, was not officially employed by any “serious organizations” such as “Doctors Without Borders” or the “Norwegian Refugee Council, UNHCR.” “Doctors Without Borders just doesn’t take anyone who turns up at the border. It’s a difficult thing to get a role like that,” explained Janine Di Giovanni, an award-winning, experienced correspondent.

During the Bosnian War, there were a lot of so-called freelance NGO people who showed up and wanted to help. Some of them did a lot of good. Some of them brought goods into the besieged cities, like Sarajevo and Mustar. And some of them, frankly, were nut jobs that were more hazardous on the ground than helpful.

Instead of hysterically romanticizing Ms. Mueller, as media have done (so far), Di Giovanni counters with a sober, sensible appraisal:

I thought she was incredibly young, incredibly naive, very inexperienced. I thought she was passionate and warm and well- meaning and well-intentioned. But to be honest, I left from meeting her incredibly worried. I thought, this is someone that’s going to get into trouble.

I’ve been working in war zones for more than 20 years and so my intuitions about when it’s right to cross into borders, when it’s not, are pretty well honed. That doesn’t prevent me from getting into trouble either. It’s just, I was very surprised at how naive she was, at how almost excited to be going into Syria.

I was with another colleague and she was with her Syrian friend, who’s also a friend of mine, an activist. And while it’s really touching to see people that are that devoted to a cause, as her mother said, peace and to try to bring peace to the world, I think it also has to be pointed out that war in places like Syria are not the place to go when you are very inexperienced, if you don’t have hostile environment training, if you’ve never been in war zones before.

Senseless in Syria? So it would appear.


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UPDATED: Merkel’s Ironic Comment About European ‘Territorial Integrity’ (Ukraine)

EU, Europe, Federalism, Foreign Policy, Nationhood, The State

On the matter of the Ukraine crisis, and in particular, on whether to arm Ukraine, keeping in mind the dangers of “sparking a proxy war with Russia”—German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who met with Barack Obama today, said something rather curious:

Merkel said that abandoning the principle of territorial integrity at the heart of the Ukraine crisis posed a threat to the “peaceful order of Europe”.
“For somebody who comes from Europe, I can only say, if we give up this principle of territorial integrity, we will not be able to maintain the peaceful order of Europe,” she said. “It’s essential.”

Territorial integrity is just about all that remains of European national sovereignty under the Bismarckian suprastate that is the EU.

In the quest to engineer a single European identity, Eurocrats have substituted the nation-state with deracinated, supranational institutions. “The EU already has rights to legislate over external trade and customs policy, the internal market, the monetary policy of countries in the eurozone, agriculture and fisheries and many areas of domestic law including the environment and health and safety at work.” And the EU intends to “extend its rights into … justice policy, especially asylum and immigration,” and harmonize judicial practices.

The rhetoric about the free flow of goods, labor, and capital across borders is as credible as the verbiage about union for peace. The EU has mandated strictly regulated markets, privileging labor interests over those of capital, and instituted oppressive socialist labor laws and “unfair-competition” regulations that have hiked labor costs and resulted in structural unemployment.

Take The Czech Republic. Joseph Sima, associate professor at the Prague School of Economics, described the fate of his country since joining the EU as having gone “From the Bosom of Communism to the Central Control of EU Planners”: There’s the added dead weight of thousands of meddling mandarins, there’s the imperative to change local laws to fit EU decrees; to hike taxes, even liquidate duty free shops. There’s the burden on nascent businesses of prohibitive health and safety standards. (The right to work is not an EU-approved birthright.) There are subsidies and grants of monopoly to farmers. A regime of licenses now restricts entrepreneurial activity and blocks entry into assorted occupations. On hand to subdue any Czechoslovakian Martha Stewart is an army of SEC gendarmes, also by EU edict. As he photocopies his paper, Sima is reminded of the Association of Authors’ special copyright shakedown fee he must shell out at the copier—EU orders! (Corporeal property rights are barely protected under EU reign.)

A process of centralization has seen the people of Europe come under the control of the institutions of the European Union. The European Commission now proposes more than half of any given country’s laws, explained a Euroskeptic on RT’s Crosstalk. Eighty seven percent of Germany’s laws are handed down by the EU and 50 percent of the UK’s laws.

Liberty, of course, is associated with a dispersion of political power, never its concentration and centralization.

MORE.

UPDATE: According to Justin Raimondo, @Antiwar.com, Kiev refuses to tolerate the,

describing the conflict as a civil war rather than a Russian “invasion.” This is a point the authorities cannot tolerate: the same meme being relentlessly broadcast by the Western media – that an indigenous rebellion with substantial support is really a Russian plot to “subvert” Ukraine and reestablish the Warsaw Pact – now has the force of law in Ukraine. Anyone who contradicts it is subject to arrest.

And even

a dissident within [the Brookings Institution], former State Department official Jeremy Shapiro, … argues that the Ukrainian conflict is a civil war that cannot have a military solution, and is more than likely to provoke a dangerous military confrontation with Russia …

… The US has no business interfering in Ukraine’s civil war, and no legitimate security interest in the question of who gets to administer Crimea – which has been Russian since the days of Catherine the Great. The idea that we are going to confront Russia over this issue is dangerous nonsense – and, unfortunately, it is just the sort of nonsense politicians of both parties find hard to resist.

There are even some ostensible “libertarians” who can’t resist the temptation to refight the cold war, notably the voluble and well-placed NATO-tarian faction of “Students for Liberty” (SFL), who denounced Ron Paul for his supposedly “pro-Putin” (i.e. anti-interventionist) statements on Ukraine. Ron is appearing at their upcoming “International Conference,” with several of the loudest NATO-tarians in attendance: one hopes he’ll give them a good talking to, although perhaps a spanking is more appropriate for these noisy brats. These juvenile blatherskites claim “Compelling arguments can be made for both advocates of globalist and noninterventionist foreign policy positions,” but aver that “Ron Paul has crossed the line.” It is they who have crossed the line: no libertarian is or can be an advocate of a “globalist” foreign policy – because conquering the globe is, you know, a statist thing.

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