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Ed Driscoll

One Embassy Door Closes, Another Opens Up

December 12th, 2013 - 12:16 pm

News from two of the most God-forsaken regions of the planet. First up, from Allahpundit, “Report: Top ‘moderate’ U.S.-backed Syrian rebel general chased out of the country by jihadis:”

So that explains that mysterious BuzzFeed report yesterday about the U.S. abruptly halting non-lethal aid to northern Syria. BF noted that jihadi rebels had overrun several Free Syrian Army installations near the Turkish border, including an HQ and some warehouses, but it wasn’t instantly clear why losing those facilitate would require suspending aid to the entire northern part of the country.

Now it’s clear. They weren’t just any buildings, they were the headquarters of the FSA’s top officer — and America’s man in Syria — Gen. Idris. The FSA has now deteriorated to the point where they can’t protect their commander on their own turf. Thus, presumably, ends the White House’s dream of building a “moderate” Sunni counterweight to the Nusra Front in Syria.

Salim Idris, the top Syrian rebel commander supported by the West, was run out of his headquarters in northern Syria over the weekend and fled to Turkey and then Doha after Islamist fighters took over facilities run by Western-backed opposition, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

The Obama administration is still trying to determine the circumstances under which Islamist fighters in a group called the Islamic Front took over warehouses and offices belonged to the Supreme Military Council, or SMC, the moderate rebel umbrella group that coordinates U.S. aid distribution, officials said.

“He fled as a result of the Islamic Front taking over his headquarters,” a senior U.S. official said.

The U.S. is urging Gen. Idris, who left Syria for Turkey then Doha over the weekend, to return to Syria, the officials said.

While America’s man in Syria has fled his outpost, another American embassy in a war-weary and murder-intensive region run by corrupt totalitarians is opening, with the goal of transforming the local use of the F-word from fascism to freedom.

In the Politico, Rand Paul and Reince Priebus explain “Why the GOP Is Stepping Up in Detroit:”

On Friday, the Michigan Republican Party opened a new political office in Detroit. Some pundits raised their eyebrows: The Motor City isn’t particularly known as a hub for Republican politics or conservative activism.

Yet that’s the point. It hasn’t been, but it should be. And it will be.

Sen. Paul spoke at the office’s opening and later talked with community leaders from the Detroit area about how to help cities in need of economic growth. Chairman Priebus also recently traveled to Detroit for a roundtable with local business leaders. While there, he announced the RNC’s hiring of Wayne Bradley as state director of African-American engagement and the formation of the Michigan Black Advisory Council.

Critics might question our efforts, but as Republicans we believe in fighting for individual freedoms and equal opportunity for all, so we will listen to all voters in all neighborhoods, towns and cities. If a political party wants to have an impact, it can’t be in the business of going only where it already has supporters. It should be in the business of going where it can lend its support to important causes and continue to earn the trust of voters in return.

I’m not sure why anyone would question the GOP’s efforts, when back in 2004, David Westin, then the president of ABC News, told Tina Brown during her brief reign as a CNBC hostess that the legacy media needed to send the equivalent of foreign correspondents to the Red States, to witness firsthand how these strange people in the hinterlands live out their exotic day-to-day existences, and why they rejected the suave and debonair John Kerry for that hayseed George W. Bush:

WESTIN: I think we don’t do that enough, and I’m not just talking religious communities. I’m talking all sorts of communities across the country. I think that… You understand this, Tina, living in New York or in Los Angeles, we have busy jobs. We go into the office every day. We tend to socialize with the same people, or the same types of people, and I think it’s terribly important for journalists to get out whether it’s overseas or domestically and try to understand.

Rush Limbaugh had lots of fun with that quote back then; as he quipped, paraphrasing Westin, “We need more foreign correspondents in Alabama! We need more foreign correspondents north of Palm Beach County in Florida! We need embeds to go to church, find out what’s going on with these holy rollers! Ah, folks, you can’t know how much I love this.”

Why not reverse the equation, and open an outpost that explains if Detroit and other cities augured into the ground through generations of leftwing rule, that there’s another path available to them, if they wish to pull themselves up from liberalism, as William F. Buckley would have said.

…Or perhaps conservatives should simply take back the L-Word itself. Steven Hayward of Power Line asks today in Forbes, “Now That Hillary Clinton Has Dismissed ‘Liberalism’, Can Conservatives Take It Back?”

A key moment in the transformation of liberalism came in the summer of 1988, when Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis, the liberal-technocrat from Massachusetts, tried to shake off the heavy luggage of his record by denying that he was a liberal. Both the self-evident failings of liberalism in the 1960s and 1970s, along with the relentless conservative attack on liberalism that Ronald Reagan spearheaded, made it a liability to be thought a liberal in American politics. Hence Dukakis’s insistence that he represented not liberalism, but “competence.”

But instead of calling for a return to the older liberalism of individual freedom against “big power,” she said she preferred to think of herself as a “progressive.” “Progressive,” Hillary explained, “has a real American meaning, going back to the progressive era at the beginning of the 20th century.” This is highly significant, for more reasons than Hillary admitted, but which she privately knows well. A return to the older liberalism of individual freedom against “big power” would involve reducing the power of big government—the greatest power center in the nation these days. And the key architects of transforming the older liberal tradition into a doctrine of big centralized power were—the Progressives.

If I’m remembering what Jonah Goldberg wrote in Liberal Fascism correctly, the P-word had become so reviled — and for good reason — during the Woodrow Willson administration, that America enjoyed a near decade-long reprise of freedom under Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge, before another Progressive, Herbert Hoover took power in 1929. After Hoover’s big-spending, tax-raising progressive policies began the process that ultimately mired America in the Depression under Roosevelt, FDR era “Progressives” decided they’d rather be called liberals, altering — at least in America — the traditional meaning of that word, seemingly forever. But why? I’ve always liked the phrase “classical liberal,” and if Hillary and Barry have discarded the second half of that equation, why shouldn’t conservatives put it back into circulation?

And as far as Republicans finally opening up a branch office in Detroit, that’s great — but I hope they’ll remember those of us similarly trapped behind the lines here in California as the icebergs approach.

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from the foreword of road to serfdom, 1956 paperback edition:

"The fact that this book was originally written with only the British public in mind does not appear to have seriously affected its intelligibility for the American reader. But there is one point of phraseology which I ought to explain here to forestall any misunderstanding. I use throughout the term "liberal" in the original, nineteenth century sense in which it is still current in Britain. In current American usage it often means very nearly the opposite of this. It has been part of the camouflage of leftish movements in this country, helped by the muddleheadedness of many who really believe in liberty, that "liberal" has come to mean the advocacy of almost every kind of government control. I am still puzzled why those in the United States who truly believe in liberty should not only have allowed the left to appropriate this almost indispensable term but should even have assisted by beginning to use it themselves as a term of opprobrium. This seems to be particularly regrettable because of the consequent tendency of many true liberals to describe themselves as conservatives."
44 weeks ago
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