Thursday, July 31, 2014


From Roger Cohen at the Atlantic.  "Yes, It Could Happen Again."

Then, as now, Europe had lived through a long period of relative peace, after the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Then, too, rapid progress in science, technology, and communications had given humanity a sense of shared interests that precluded war, despite the ominous naval competition between Britain and Germany. Then, too, wealthy individuals devoted their fortunes to conciliation and greater human understanding. Rival powers fumed over provocative annexations, like Austria-Hungary’s of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1908, but world leaders scarcely believed a global conflagration was possible, let alone that one would begin just six years later. The very monarchs who would consign tens of millions to a murderous morass from 1914 to 1918 and bury four empires believed they were clever enough to finesse the worst.

The unimaginable can occur. That is a notion at once banal and perennially useful to recall. Indeed, it has just happened in Crimea, where a major power has forcefully changed a European border for the first time since 1945. Russia’s act of annexation and its evident designs on eastern Ukraine constitute a reminder thatNATO was created to protect Europe after its pair of 20th-century self-immolations. NATO’s core precept, as the Poles and other former vassals of the Soviet empire like to remind blithe western Europeans, is Article 5, by which the Allies agreed that “an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all,” triggering a joint military response. This has proved a powerful deterrent against potential adversaries. Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, has been most aggressive in the no-man’s-lands of Georgia and Ukraine, nations suspended between East and West, neither one a member of NATO. Had Ukraine been a member ofNATO, the annexation of Crimea would have come only at the (presumably unacceptable) price of war. Article 5, until demonstrated otherwise, is an ironclad commitment.

"The unimaginable" can indeed occur.  There is a lot of instability in the world today.

I keep reading more articles on this theme of impending war, including Time's recent cover issue on is there a new cold war.  I think there is a lot of uncertainty out there.

Denison Forum.

Time magazine's new cover describes the current conflict between Russia and the West as "Cold War II." Could it get even worse? As the world remembers the beginning of World War I a century ago, some warn that another world war could start in Ukraine. For instance, the British Prime Minister made headlines this week with his claim that Russia's encroachment in Eastern Europe is eerily similar to actions that led to World War I and World War II.


From Terrence McCoy at WAPO.  "Why Hamas stores its weapons inside hospitals, mosques and schools?"  A good summary of what the UN has found in its facilities but the media does not seem to focus on.


It is hard to believe that it has already cost taxpayers $840 million to develop a website that doesn't work well!

The Government Accountability Office says cost overruns went hand-in-hand with the management failures that led to the disastrous launch of and the 36 state insurance exchanges it serves.

GAO's report, prepared for a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing Thursday, details a long series of management, oversight, and contracting problems that plagued the entire process, from risky contracting practices in 2011 through the botched launch last October.


Elena Servettaz discusses the impact of sanctions on Russia in World Affairs.  While sanctions can have an impact she shows how they sometimes hurt the wrong people and also how some people who are on the sanctions list can work around being sanctioned.

A highly placed European diplomat confided that a number of Russian officials are worried about a new package of sanctions and are calling European embassies to find out if their name will be added to the list. The official claim until now, that it is a badge of honor to be on that list, is starting to crumble—and fast. Even Vladimir Putin, during a three-and-a-half-hour appearance on Russian television, said the sanctions were a “human rights violation.” The Russian president was talking about people added to the sanctions list after the annexation of Crimea—people like his friend Gennady Timchenko, whose wife, after the sanctions, he said plaintively, “could not pay for her operation because her credit card was frozen.”

Putin should also be concerned about himself. According to the Times of London, the US government is contemplating adding his name to the list of targeted individuals and freezing his own fortune, often estimated at $40 billion, in Swiss banks, if he decides to invade eastern Ukraine. But Putin’s spokesperson, Dmitri Peskov, said that his boss had complete peace of mind about this possibility.


The Democrat congresswoman who co-sponsored a bill to impeach George W. Bush now says, "we never tried to impeach Bush."  A lie or a very short memory?  I would hope for a higher level of representative in Washington, but this is probably typical.


Every candidate has a campaign plan, but these are seldom known in there entirety.  A Democrat candidate running for the U.S. Senate in Georgia, Michelle Nunn, has had her plan leaked and it is not pretty.  It would be interesting to know who leaked it and is there some kind of internal power struggle going on.

Anyway, her entire blueprint for faux authenticity has been published, and it contains all of the usual and contrived political maneuvering that voters find so disgusting. The plan involves trying to create a fake, gun-toting, rural-friendly image for the wannabe Georgian senator supplied by a Democratic PR firm based in San Francisco, and exposes her positions on issues as basic as her commitment to Israel as contrived to drive her fundraising efforts.
The issue of Democrat candidates hiding their real positions is raised in the column.

Monday, July 28, 2014


From The Gatestone Institute:  "How the Media is Helping Hamas."

What is disturbing is that foreign journalists did not bother (or dare) to ask any of the Hamas leaders and self-proclaimed spokesmen whether they were hiding inside the hospital, regardless of what the answer would doubtless be. They apparently did not even ask themselves this question. .

One foreign journalist explained that asking such a question would have "endangered my life." Another admitted over coffee that he and his colleagues were too scared to report news that would anger Hamas and other radical groups.

"We know that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields," the reporter, who asked not to be identified, said. "But why would you report this when you are sitting in the middle of the Gaza Strip, surrounded by Hamas gunmen?"

Hamas has also been successful in stopping the international media from reporting on Hamas casualties. The only victims the journalists are allowed to report about from the Gaza Strip are the civilians. Have you seen any photos or reports in the international media about any Hamas gunmen? Of course not, no one has. The official story is that they do not exist.

Foreign journalists working in the Gaza Strip have complied with Hamas's demands and continue to avoid stories or photos that expose the Islamist movement's cynical exploitation of innocent civilians during the war. The media has once again taken sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In this one, it is the media that is helping Hamas get away with war crimes.

It gets worse, but clearly reporters are worried about their lives if they report something that Hamas might not take kindly to.


Michael Barone goes back into the 17th century (using an historical work of Hugh Trevor-Roper) to show what happens when we have "parasitic bureaucracies and crony capitalism.  The point is that the U.S. is acting like the no-growth states of the 17th century.

“Pare down the parasitic fringe” of government. “Favor a gospel of work” instead of aristocratic entitlement. “Rationalize finance” and “reverse the Parkinson’s law of bureaucracy.”

All that sounds like rhetoric from the Tea Party or reform conservatives who assail what they call crony capitalism.

But it's not a contemporary criticism. Those are phrases from a long essay, written more than half a century ago, by the British historian H. R. Trevor-Roper, entitled “The General Crisis of the Seventeenth Century.”

After 1660 the nation-states that pared back bureaucracies and allowed room for such trading cities to operate -- England, Holland and, for a while, France -- flourished, while Spain, Italy and Germany mostly languished.

Sunday, July 27, 2014


From WAPO.  A short discussion of how World War I might not have happened.  Miscommunication and foreign policy officials who lied or at best manipulated the flow of information between the Russian Tsar and the German Kaiser.

The exchange began in the very early morning of July 29, just hours after Austria-Hungary (an ally of Germany) declared war on Serbia (an ally of Russia) in retaliation for the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Time was short to find a diplomatic solution that would prevent a regional war from becoming a world war.

Tsar Nicholas wrote: “In this serious moment, I appeal to you to help me. An ignoble war has been declared to a weak country. The indignation in Russia shared fully by me is enormous. I foresee that very soon I shall be overwhelmed by the pressure forced upon me and be forced to take extreme measures which will lead to war. To try and avoid such a calamity as a European war I beg you in the name of our old friendship to do what you can to stop your allies from going too far. Nicky.”


First, Madeline Albright, Clinton's Secretary of State, says the "world is a mess."  So what made the world such a mess.  Bush has been out of office for almost 6 years.

Russell Mead takes the Obama administration to task for the failure of "smart diplomacy."  Everything seems to be exploding.

Luckily for America’s self-esteem, it was liberal Democrats that produced this particular shambles. If Republicans had done this, the media would be on the administration non-stop, perhaps comparing Samantha Power to Paul Wolfowitz—a well-meaning humanitarian way over her head who wrecked a country out of misguided ideology. There might also be some pointed questions for future presidential candidates who supported this fiasco. But since both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have their fingerprints all over Libya, there isn’t a lot of press hunger for a detailed, unsparing autopsy into this stinking corpse of policy flub.

If Obama were a Republican, the press and the weekly news shows would be ringing with hyperbolic, apocalyptic denunciations of the clueless incumbent who had failed to learn the most basic lessons of Iraq. Indeed, the MSM right now would be howling that Obama was stupider than Bush. Bush, our Journolist friends would now be saying ad nauseam, at least had the excuse that he didn’t know what happens when you overthrow a paranoid, genocidal, economically incompetent Arab tyrant in an artificial post-colonial state. But Obama did—or, the press would nastily say, he would have done if he’d been doing his job instead of hitting the golf course or yakking it up with his glitzy pals at late night bull sessions. The ad hominem attacks would never stop, and all the tangled threads of incompetence and failure would be endlessly and expertly picked at in long New Yorker articles, NYT thumbsuckers, and chin-strokings on all the Sabbath gasbag shows.

But luckily for Team Obama, the mainstream press would rather die than subject liberal Democrats to the critiques it reserves for the GOP.


Yahoo News.  Russians are pushing Ukrainians out of leadership roles in Eastern Ukraine uprising.  And the Russian taking over, Vladimir Anttufeyev, sounds like a person left over from Stalinist times.

He earned a fearsome reputation when he served in Transdniestria, which split from Moldova in 1990, as the head of security operations for 20 years.

Dismissed in 2012 when his ally was replaced as leader of the tiny sliver of land, he barricaded himself for three days in his study and refused to leave.

The EU first blacklisted Antyufeyev over his role in Transdniestria in 2004. Though it later suspended that decision, it has now blacklisted him again over Ukraine, imposing assets freezes and a travel ban on him.

One person who had been questioned by Antyufeyev in Transdniestria on suspicion of spying for Moldova said he was a tenacious interrogator. Speaking on condition of anonymity, for fear of reprisal, the person said Antyufeyev was "a professional", capable of being sociable and polite, always rigidly following the chosen line. With a smile on his face, Antyufeyev would exert moral pressure, the person said.

And Slate has published an interesting article calling an ageing liberal Soviet specialist, Stephen Cohen, a pal of Putin for defending Russian actions in the Ukraine.  Cohen has published an article in the leftist Nation supporting Putin.  Cohen seems to ignore Russian atrocities.

In a downright surreal passage, Cohen argues that Putin has shown “remarkable restraint” so far but faces mounting public pressure due to “vivid accounts” in the Russian state-run media of Kiev’s barbarities against ethnic Russians. Can he really be unaware that the hysteria is being whipped up by lurid fictions, such as therecent TV1 story about a 3-year-old boy crucified in Slovyansk’s main square in front of a large crowd and his own mother? Does Cohen not know that Russian disinformation and fakery, including old footage from Dagestan or Syria passed off as evidence of horrors in Ukraine, has been extensively documented? Is he unaware that top Russian officials, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Putin himself, have publicly repeated allegations of war crimes that were quickly exposed as false, such as white phosphorus use by Ukrainian troops or a slaughter of the wounded in a hospital? But Cohen manages to take the surrealism a notch higher, earnestly citing the unnamed “dean of Moscow State University’s School of Television” (that’s Vitaly Tretyakov, inter alia a 9/11 “truther”) who thinks the Kremlin may be colluding with the West to hush up the extent of carnage in Ukraine.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


Michelle Malkin lists the various scenarios by leftists regarding the assassination of George W. Bush.  Most people forget the venom the Left spewed out about the president.


Time discusses how the Obama team successfully used data mining to bring in money and also to get out the vote and influence those most likely to vote for him.

But from the beginning, campaign manager Jim Messina had promised a totally different, metric-driven kind of campaign in which politics was the goal but political instincts might not be the means. “We are going to measure every single thing in this campaign,” he said after taking the job. He hired an analytics department five times as large as that of the 2008 operation, with an official “chief scientist” for the Chicago headquarters named Rayid Ghani, who in a previous life crunched huge data sets to, among other things, maximize the efficiency of supermarket sales promotions.

Exactly what that team of dozens of data crunchers was doing, however, was a closely held secret. “They are our nuclear codes,” campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt would say when asked about the efforts. Around the office, data-mining experiments were given mysterious code names such as Narwhal and Dreamcatcher. The team even worked at a remove from the rest of the campaign staff, setting up shop in a windowless room at the north end of the vast headquarters office. The “scientists” created regular briefings on their work for the President and top aides in the White House’s Roosevelt Room, but public details were in short supply as the campaign guarded what it believed to be its biggest institutional advantage over Mitt Romney’s campaign: its data.

Friday, July 25, 2014


The Obama administration knew ISIS was forming as early as 2012 but they did nothing to prevent its rise. There was no intelligence failure, just a failure to develop policies to counteract the rise of Islamic terrorists.

In congressional testimony as far back as November, U.S. diplomats and intelligence officials made clear that the United States had been closely tracking the al Qaida spinoff since 2012, when it enlarged its operations from Iraq to civil war-torn Syria, seized an oil-rich province there and signed up thousands of foreign fighters who’d infiltrated Syria through NATO ally Turkey.

But the big question is:

The testimony raises an obvious question: If the Obama administration had such early warning of the Islamic State’s ambitions, why, nearly two months after the fall of Mosul, is it still assessing what steps, if any, to take to halt the advance of Islamist extremists who threaten U.S. allies in the region and have vowed to attack Americans?

Read more here:

Read more here:


From Politico.  The article is written by a Democrat strategist.  I would expect the Democrats to field a well-funded, very left-wing candidate in 2016.

These progressive forces are coalescing around a populist-inspired desire to combat income inequality and rein in large financial institutions, as well as an interest in focusing on priorities at home rather than abroad. It’s difficult, in this environment, to imagine a viable Democratic presidential candidate who isn’t willing to take clear positions on issues like increasing the minimum wage, securing comprehensive immigration reform, supporting women’s health and their reproductive rights, addressing climate change and eliminating or at least curtailing fracking.

The left’s rise is aided by the fact that it is more organized than ever before. Following George W. Bush’s defeat of John Kerry in 2004, a coalition of progressives from politics, philanthropy and business came together to build a long-term infrastructure—independent of the Democratic Party—to advance their progressive agenda and beat back the influence of the right wing. The Democracy Alliance was officially launched in 2005 as a forum where partners who shared core progressive values could coordinate their resources more efficiently to advance their common goals. Politico estimates that the Democracy Alliance plans to spend $374 million this election cycle.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


A description of the average day of Vladimir Putin.

The President wakes late and eats shortly after noon. He begins with the simplest of breakfasts. There is always cottage cheese. His cooked portion is always substantial; omelette or occasionally porridge. He likes quails’ eggs. He drinks fruit juice. The food is forever fresh: baskets of his favourites dispatched regularly from the farmland estates of the Patriarch Kirill, Russia’s religious leader.

It goes on from there.  I wonder if someone has done the average day of President Obama?


Representative Paul Ryan (R, WI) has an interesting proposal to help people in poverty. . .give them what they need based on individual needs.

He described the case of a 24-year-old single mother of two with a high school education, two years of retail work experience and dreams of one day being a teacher. Instead of relying on food stamps, housing vouchers and welfare checks, she could go to a social services provider, sit down with a case manager to develop an "opportunity plan" to meet her goals, targeting money where it is needed most.

Makes a lot of sense to me.


15 Reasons Why We Should Still Be Using Hymnals.

Monday, July 21, 2014


From Michael Rubin at World Affairs.  Maybe Obama and Hillary spent too much time blaming Bush and Cheney than trying to understand Putin.  The issue is how to negotiate with one's enemies or rivals.  In addition the Russians (Soviets) have been excellent at diplomatic deceit (and I might add the Iranians, North Koreans, and others are just as good).  Americans diplomat seem to believe whatever they are being told at the bargaining table.

The idea that diplomacy with rogue regimes is cost-free is a relatively new idea, one that may sound good in the abstract but is less durable in reality. Policymakers often advocate diplomacy with rogue rulers and even terrorist groups because other options seem unattractive. As our recent experience in Afghanistan and Iraq shows, war extracts a tremendous price not only in terms of blood and treasure but in terms of national morale as well. The American public is exhausted by these conflicts and wondering if their price was worth paying.

Sanctions don't work because dictators don't care about their people.

Obama sought Russian cooperation in Syria, for example, to resolve a horrendous human rights tragedy, but for Putin, the only question was how to achieve an outcome that diminished American influence.

Putin is a modern-day Machiavelli, unapologetic about saying and doing whatever is necessary to regain the glory and respect he believes the Soviet Union enjoyed. With his tireless efforts to engage and pour emollients on fundamental disagreements, Obama has acted as a modern-day Chamberlain. Simply declaring the Cold War over does not make it so unless both parties seek a new beginning. Obama sincerely wants peace, but so long as Putin seeks the restoration of an imperial Russian past, peace will never occur. Hitting the reset button should not mean allowing an opponent to use diplomacy to wage war by other means.

This is the first author to link Obama and Chamberlain that I have come across.


An historical overview and analysis of millennial thinking. The author examines millennial thinking, especially in the context of Christian thinking, from an historical perspective.  But even secular writers have toyed with this them.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


From the Economist.  The more people are exposed to socialism the more unethical they become!  The case of East Germans vs. West Germans.


John Fund has written an article about Democrats holding office avoiding President Obama at fundraisers because of his presumed unpopularity.  Criticism is rising in Democrat circles regarding his leadership and his "detached" presidency.

What struck me most was a quote from Bob Beckel, a strong Democrat presence on Fox News.  When I have listened to him he has never said a negative word about the president or Democrats, but Fund quotes him as saying:

Bob Beckel, a former Democratic campaign consultant, said on Fox News this week that he spoke with a Democrat “intimately involved in [Obama’s] campaigns, both of them.” The message was sobering: “He said you have to know what it’s like to get through [presidential counselor] Valerie Jarrett and Michelle Obama, and I think that’s a tough deal for anybody on a staff to do. . . . [Obama] lives in a zone that nobody else goes to.”

So if you want to get through to the president you have to go through Valerie Jarrett or Michelle Obama!  But this does become an increasing concern with the multiple international crises the United States is facing.  Who and how are decisions being made?

One presidential historian says that if the president’s bizarre behavior deepens, people will start making jokes comparing Obama to President Woodrow Wilson, who was debilitated by illness during his last two years in office, with decisions increasingly made by his aides and his wife, Edith. “The comparisons of course wouldn’t be fair, but they don’t have to be to have elements of truth to them.”

Friday, July 18, 2014


This is a week filled with tragedies and crises:  a Malaysian airliner is shot down over the Ukraine and Israel enters Gaza to stop the missiles from being fired.  And added to these events are the scandals and crises in Washington and the world ranging from the IRS destroyed hard drives to what is happening on the U.S. border with Mexico.

The reaction of the Obama administration to much of this is astounding.  Here is a video of President Obama speaking about the tragedy of the lost Malaysian airliner only to follow a few minutes later with jokes and humor (in public).  It makes his sorrow seem somewhat hypocritical.  And in addition the State Department ended the day with  tweets about fashion!  The world is in serious trouble and people are dying.

Victor Davis Hanson argues that this is the summer that "America fell apart".  Here is his list of "messes" Washington is facing:  1) get caught again spying on our ally Germany; 2) doing nothing with Chinese agressiveness in Asia and seeing relations with our ally Japan damaged; 3) Syria; 4) ISIS in Iraq; 5) Afghanistan; 6) Palestine and Israel; 7) Crimea and Ukraine; 8) Edward Snowden's release of U.S. spying activities; 9) foreign leaders don't trust the U.S.; 10) a shrinking economy; 11) immigration; 12) Benghazi; 13) Bowe Bergdahl; and 14) the IRS scandal.  He could have added a number of more such as Iran's nuclear program.  I don't recall a summer with as many scandals, crises, and problems.

And where is the media in all of this?  MSNBC is taken in by a fake report regarding the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner!--hardly sophisticated reporting.  Watching the mainstream media report on the firing of Hamas rockets into Israel has been interesting.  Hamas tends to be regarded as innocent in all of this and somehow it is Israel's fault for what is happening when it is Hamas that wants to "eradicate" Jews.  Charles Krauthammer has an interesting quote from a prominent Israeli in his column:

“Here’s the difference between us,” explains the Israeli prime minister. “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”

Rarely does international politics present a moment of such moral clarity. Yet we routinely hear this Israel-Gaza fighting described as a morally equivalent “cycle of violence.” This is absurd. What possible interest can Israel have in cross-border fighting? Everyone knows Hamas set off this mini-war. And everyone knows the proudly self-declared raison d’etre of Hamas: the eradication of Israel and its Jews.

Apologists for Hamas attribute the blood lust to the Israeli occupation and blockade. Occupation? Does no one remember anything? It was less than 10 years ago that worldwide television showed the Israeli army pulling die-hard settlers off synagogue roofs in Gaza as Israel uprooted its settlements, expelled its citizens, withdrew its military and turned every inch of Gaza over to the Palestinians. There was not a soldier, not a settler, not a single Israeli left in Gaza.

When Israel finds 20 rockets in a UN-run school in Gaza, I don't see a rush of reporters to discuss this. And a CNN reporter calls Israelis watching the missiles go into Gaza "scum."

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Peter Beinart criticizes Hillary Clinton's foreign policy vision stated on the Daily Show and applauds Obama for having a more accurate vision of America in the world.  But I believe I side with Hillary on this one.  I sense she is trying to affirm America in spite of our mistakes.  Not everything the U.S. has done since World War II is bad for the world.  He goes on to accuse Hillary of siding with the right in America.

For Hillary, America’s current problem is that once the Cold War ended, we “withdrew from the information arena.” As a result, across the world, a new generation no longer remembers the great things we supposedly did in the past, and America has stopped telling them about the great things we are still doing today. Her answer: “get back to telling” the story of America’s greatness, not only to the rest of the world but “to ourselves first and foremost.”

Really? Is America’s biggest post-Cold War foreign policy problem really that we’ve failed to adequately remind others, and ourselves, how good we are? After all, George W. Bush told Americans endlessly that the “war on terror” was another grand American crusade for freedom, in the tradition of World War II and the Cold War. In his second inaugural address and other thundering rhetorical displays, he announced to the world that America would champion liberty far and wide, as in days of old.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014


An interesting thesis--the 1960s have returned:  many conservatives and the Tea Party have learned from the tactics used by Saul Alinsky and Occupy Wall Street to let their voices be heard.

In 2012, the conservative site ran an essay arguing that conservatives should see Saul Alinsky's famous how-to guide Rules for Radicals not as a reason to mock their opponents, but as a useful guide for their own protest. Listing Alinsky's 13 rules for shifting the balance of power between the Haves and Have-Nots (which Alinsky framed in economic terms), the site's John Hawkins suggested that conservatives "learn from what he wrote and give the Left a taste of its own medicine."

If this is true, expect more confrontations between Left and Right.

Saturday, July 05, 2014


Ali Khedery, who served in the U.S. embassy in Baghdad until 2010 when he resigned in protest about U.S. policy, has a lengthy critique on why we lost Iraq.  He blames the Obama administration for going with Maliki when there were better alternatives for Iraqi leadership.  In addition when the U.S. withdrew its military forces it lost any leverage it had with Maliki.

The crisis now gripping Iraq and the Middle East was not only predictable but predicted — and preventable. By looking the other way and unconditionally supporting and arming Maliki, President Obama has only lengthened and expanded the conflict that President Bush unwisely initiated. Iraq is now a failed state, and as countries across the Middle East fracture along ethno-sectarian lines, America is likely to emerge as one of the biggest losers of the new Sunni-Shiite holy war, with allies collapsing and radicals plotting another 9/11.

Victor Davis Hanson argues that it was Obama's fault for what we see today and he is trying to find someone else to blame.  He pulled out peace-keepers in his "mission accomplished" (Bush) moment.  But Vice President Biden said Iraq would be Obama's "greatest achievement."  Is it?

But what exactly was the new Obama strategy that supposedly had all but achieved a victory in the larger War on Terror amid Middle East hostility?

Fuzzy euphemisms replaced supposedly hurtful terms such as “terrorism,” “jihadist,” and “Islamist.” The administration gave well-meaning speeches exaggerating Islamic achievement while citing past American culpability.

In short, the Obama administration put politics and ideology ahead of a disinterested and nonpartisan examination of the actual status of the 2009 Middle East.

From the Daily Beast.  "Why the White House Ignored All Those Warnings about ISIS."  Maliki asked Obama to send some troops back.  U.S. intelligence knew there were problems but the White House would not act.

On November 1, 2013, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki visited the White House, and made a rather stunning request. Maliki, who celebrated when the last U.S. troops left his country in 2011, asked Obama to quietly send the military back into Iraq and help his beleagured Air Force develop targets for air strikes; that’s how serious the threat from Sunni insurgents led by the extremist group ISIS had become.

Twelve days later, Brett McGurk, a deputy assistant secretary of state and the Obama administration’s senior U.S. official in Baghdad since the crisis began last month, presented to Congress a similarly dark warning. ISIS was launching upwards of 40 suicide bombers a month, he said, encouraged in part by the weakness of Maliki’s military and the aggressively anti-Sunni policies of the Shi’ite prime minister. It was the kind of ominous report that American intelligence agencies had been delivering privately for months. McGurk added that ISIS had “benefited from a permissive operating environment due to inherent weaknesses of Iraqi security forces, poor operational tactics, and popular grievances, which remain unaddressed, among the population in Anbar and Nineweh provinces.”

Friday, July 04, 2014


From Foreign Policy:  "Have We Hit Peak America?"  Up to 60% of Americans believe U.S. power is waning.  And a CNN poll indicates that 63% of Americans believe their children will be worse off them they are.

In other words, a greater number of Americans are worried about diminishing U.S. influence today than in the face of feared Soviet technological superiority in the late 1950s, the Vietnam quagmire of the late 1960s, the 1973 oil embargo, the apparent resurgence of Soviet power around the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan, and the economic concerns that plagued the late 1980s -- the five waves of so-called declinist anxiety that political scientist Samuel Huntington famously identified.

Global power & wealth are shifting and the American people feel and see it.  The U.S. is in decline economically, becoming increasingly less competitive.  National wealth influences military power.

Whereas in 1990 just 14 percent of cross-border flows of goods, services, and finances originated in emerging economies, today nearly 40 percent do. As recently as 2000, the GDP of China was one-tenth that of the United States; just 14 years later, the two economies are equal (at least in terms of purchasing power parity).

National wealth influences military power.  China's military budget is increasing while that of the U.S. is decreasing.  Regional powers like Iran are also growing in military sophistication.

The U.S. National Intelligence Council recently projected the future distribution of global power using two distinct methodologies that incorporated a range of "hard" and "soft" factors. By both estimates, the U.S. share of global power will fall dramatically, from around 25 percent in 2010 to around 15 percent in 2050.

The U.S. national debt is impacting the problem.  

Today, well over 60 percent of federal revenue is consumed by spending on Social Security, the major health-care programs (including Medicare, Medicaid, and subsidies under the Affordable Care Act), and interest payments on the federal debt. By 2043, spending on entitlements and net interest payments will consume all federal revenue, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The authors argue that the U.S. has much potential strength, but America has to be realistic and face its problems.