—Natan Sharansky, the Washington Post, today.
—Jonathan Last, the Weekly Standard, October 21st, 2005.
—Natan Sharansky, the Washington Post, today.
—Jonathan Last, the Weekly Standard, October 21st, 2005.
We are masters of our character, choosing what we will stand for in this life. Veterans today have had a unique privilege, that of having seen the tenacious spirit of our lads, like those young grunts preparing for a patrol by loosely wrapping tourniquets on their limbs so they could swiftly stop their own bleeding if their legs were blown off. Yet day after day they stoically patrolled. Adversity, we are told, reveals a man to himself, and young patriots coming home from such patrols are worth more than gold, for nothing they face can ever again be that tough.
Now, most of us lost friends, the best of friends, and we learned that war’s glory lay only in them—there is no other glory in warfare. They were friends who proved their manhood at age 18, before they could legally drink a beer. They were young men and women taking responsibility for their own actions, never playing the victim card. Rather, they took responsibility for their own reaction to adversity.
This was something that we once took for granted in ourselves and in our buddies, units where teenagers naturally stood tall, and we counted on each other. Yet it is a characteristic that can seem oddly vacant in our post-military society, where victimhood often seems to be celebrated. We found in the ranks that we were all coequal, general or private, admiral or seaman. We were equally committed to the mission and to one another, a thought captured by Gen. Robert E. Lee, saying his spirit bled each time one of his men fell.
Looking back over my own service, I realize now how fortunate I was to experience all this and the many riotous excursions I had when I was privileged to march or fight beside you. And a question comes to mind: What can I do to repay our country for the privilege of learning things that only you in this room could have taught me? For today I feel sorry for those who were not there with us when trouble loomed. I sometimes wonder how to embrace those who were not with us, those who were not so fortunate to discover what we were privileged to learn when we were receiving our Masters and Ph.D.s in how to live life, and gaining the understanding and appreciation of small things that we would otherwise have never known.
—“The Meaning of Their Service,” Gen. James N. Mattis, “a retired four-star Marine Corps general on the clarifying effect of combat experience, the poison of cynicism and how veterans can help revive American optimism,” adapted by the Wall Street Journal from his speech to “the fourth annual salute to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans at the Marines’ Memorial Club in San Francisco on April 16.”
Read the whole thing.
Remember when the DNC-MSM was bored back in February immediately before Brian Williams blew himself up, and tried to make this a rightwing issue?
“Robert Kennedy Jr apologizes for comparing vaccinated children to victims of a ‘holocaust’” the London Daily Mail reports. Though of course they, and he mean The Holocaust:
● Nephew of JFK, and son for former Attorney General, opposes vaccines
● He believes a chemical called thimerosal causes autism in children
● Promoting protest film, he likened vaccinated kids to holocaust victims
● On Monday, he apologized for the comment after widespread criticism
Besides, doesn’t RFK Jr. know that Al Gore has claimed the lock on that particular Godwin’s Law violation for radical environmentalism since 1989 before cashing in his chips at the start of 2013 to Big Oil?
Of course, given the state of American education, it won’t be long before most impressionable young lefties scratch their head and ask, “what is a Holocaust, anyhow?”
“Russian Paper Removes Article About Soldier Wounded In Ukraine,” Radio Free Europe reports. Did the Russians use Photoshop, or go old school, Stalin-style, and breakout the airbrushes? No — they used a far cruder technique: scissors. On 50,000 newspapers:
Journalists at a Siberian newspaper say they spent three days using scissors to cut an article about a Russian soldier who was wounded fighting alongside pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine out of 50,000 copies of the publication.
Tank crewman Dorzhi Batonmukuyev’s accounts of fighting in eastern Ukraine have added to what Kyiv and NATO say are incontrovertible evidence of direct Russian military support for the rebels in a conflict with government forces that has killed more than 6,000 people since April 2014.
Russia denies it has sent troops or weapons into Ukraine.
The chief editor of Novaya Buryatia (New Buryatia), Timur Dugarzhapov, told RFE/RL on April 7 that staffers in recent days cut an article about Batonmukuyev out of the newspaper’s entire April 3 print run by hand and deleted it from the website.
No word yet if Dorzhi Batonmukuyev will be replaced in later editions of New Buryatia will replace crewman Batonmukuyev with Pvt. Ogilvy, or if the choice of names will vary for the Eastasia and Eurasia editions of the newspaper.
“Despite having three navy ships in nearby waters, US has not evacuated civilians from Yemen, many of whom have travelled to port city of Aden seeking rescue,” the UK Guardian reports:
US citizens trying desperately to leave war-torn Yemen fear they have been left to their fate by their own government as fighting escalates between rebel fighters and Washington’s allies.
Saudi-led air strikes against Shia Houthi rebels have prompted urgent warnings about dangers to civilians, and several countries have evacuated their civilians, including China, India, Pakistan and Somalia.
But the US has not followed suit, despite having three navy ships in nearby waters, including the frigate USS Simpson and the destroyer USS Sterett in or near the Gulf of Aden.
A US State Department spokesperson reiterated the official US position in an email to PRI’s The World. ”There are no plans for a US government-sponsored evacuation of US citizens at this time,” wrote media officer Niles Cole. ”We encourage U.S. citizens to monitor the news and seek available departure options from Yemen, via air, land, or sea.”
But that became less of an option last week, when the Saudis declared a no-fly zone over Yemen. ”Now we’re not allowed to fly out,” Nasser says. ”And we would think, because [the] US is supporting Saudi Arabia through logistics, that they would evacuate [US] citizens. We’re trying our best to voice our nervousness and disappointment through respectful means, calling upon the US State Department to actually act and to evacuate the nationals.”
Given their leftwing worldview, hitting a CTL-F on both of those articles and typing “Obama” brings up nothing. And that’s likely no coincidence, as Yemen has joined the list of Obama’s overseas disasters, Peter Brookes of the Heritage Foundation writes in the Boston Herald. Brookes was a former deputy assistant secretary of defense under President George W. Bush:
Yemen is the Middle East’s newest “Great Game,” pitting rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran against one another in a proxy bout involving the Riyadh-backed, Sunni Yemeni central government and the Tehran-backed, Shia Houthi rebels.
Plus, without a central government, Yemen is basically a failed state, providing lots of room for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State for planning, training and operations.
AQAP is reportedly targeting Western commercial aviation with “new wave” bombs while an Islamic State group in Yemen — Sanaa Province — recently attacked Shiite mosques in the capital, killing more than 100 people, according to news accounts.
While there’s no love lost between the ascendant (Shia) Houthi rebels and (Sunni) terrorist Islamic State and (Sunni) AQAP, a civil war in Yemen — like we’ve seen in Syria—can prove very beneficial for growing terror groups.
Lastly: location, location, location. Yemen borders the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, which are important sea lanes, including for U.S. warships. It’s not a place where you’d like to see Iranian influence increase.
In fairness, this is tough stuff.
But the latest developments in Yemen call into stark question the Obama administration’s policies and performance in dealing with a violent Islamist extremist problem that only seems to be getting worse.
I’m sure the administration’s “deal” with Iran will turn things around.
One way or another.
What does this remind you of? Churchill in winter?? pic.twitter.com/1JTn4JTssY
— Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports) April 2, 2015
But then, given that Obama’s vision of America resembles the dissipated postwar England that Churchill predicted before being ousted by British voters immediately after World War II as an impediment to the bland socialized nihilism that he warned against, perhaps Andrea’s almost on to something.
And yes, of course, there’s another prime minister whom Kerry superficially resembles and whom Obama has (knowingly or unknowingly) quoted admirably. But that would be an insult to Neville Chamberlain, who loved his country far more than Kerry ever did.
Andrew Stiles visits Iran on “A Free Beacon journey to the birthplace of Valerie Jarrett.” In 1982, P.J. O’Rourke filed his classic travelogue in which he accompanied a group of wealthy Nation magazine limousine leftists on a river cruise up the Volga. O’Rourke summed up those pathetic losers perfectly in a sentence:
“These were people who believed everything about the Soviet Union was perfect, but they were bringing their own toilet paper.”
Stiles is off on a similar jaunt with equally awful American leftists in search of the 21st century equivalent of the Soviet Union and/or an exotic paradise of income and sexual equality:
This particular Persian excursion, after all, is sponsored by none other than the New York Times, the esteemed paper of record that, in case you hadn’t noticed, is quickly transforming itself into a travel agency of some renown, offering an array of exhilarating (and expensive) cultural journeys for the sophisticated traveller.Looking for a “people to people experience” in communist Cuba? The Times has you covered. Eager to help solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Ditto. Keen to “retrace the footsteps of some of the world’s greatest explorers” in Antarctica? There’s a trip for that. It’s not clear whose footsteps you’ll be retracing aboard the “297-foot luxury expedition yacht” the Times has commissioned, but why quibble? Rates start at $15,695. Carlos Slim must be loving this.
No Times Journey, as they’re called, is as popular as “Tales from Persia.” Ours is the inaugural voyage, but there’s been so much interest that they’ve already had to increase the number of offerings this year from three to five, all of which are sold out. At the end of the day, no one—not even the ayatollah—is going to f—k with the Times. That’s what you’re counting on, anyway. Although the Gray Lady has certainly gone to great lengths to ensure her release from liability:
Without limitation, we are not responsible for any injury, loss, or damage to personal property, death, delay or inconvenience in connection with the provision of any goods or services occasioned by or resulting from, but not limited to, acts of God, acts of government, weather, force majeure, acts of war or civil unrest, insurrection or revolt, strikes or other labor activities, criminal or terrorist activities or the threat thereof…
But even if it comes to that—getting yanked into a windowless room upon arrival at Imam Khomeini International Airport—you’ve settled on a failsafe strategy: blame everything on the Jews. Before you know it, your Qatar Airways flight to Tehran (connecting through Doha, site of the 2022 World Cup final) is preparing for takeoff. There’s a large compass displayed on a big screen at the front of the cabin. One arrow points towards Mecca, the holiest of Muslim holy sites, and another (for some reason) towards Gaithersburg, Md.
Fortunately, unlike the ayatollah and the average New York Times reader, the Iranians themselves are pretty cool about Americans — and even more curious about them than the average Times subscriber:
Americans in Iran are generally regarded with a degree of skepticism, but not for the reason you might think. Iranians want to know what you’re doing in Iran, not because they suspect you of plotting a coup, but because they know American passport holders could spend their vacations anywhere else on earth (give or take a few tin-pot communist police states), and feel sorry for you. They are almost always friendly and eager to tell you there are no hard feelings. “Ninety percent of Iranians love America,” is a widely cited statistic, though it’s not clear if this is based on actual data. Eventually, this becomes rather eerie, as if everyone is reading off the same approved script.
Nazri, a student studying computer animation, offered the boldest riff on the “We love America” line, leaning in close to whisper “and Israel,” though I am not convinced this is a 90-10 issue. Moments later, a mullah in a black turban strolled by and leered in our direction. “Very dangerous,” Nazri said after he passed. “I f—king hate them.” Also, can I get him a job in California?
Time to up your game California — we’ve at last found a region of the world with less freedom than San Francisco.
Found via Moe Lane, who adds, “It’s a strange, confusing dictatorship that they have over there, but it’s very real.”
Iran, that is.
“Barack Obama faces a slew of Middle East crises that some call the worst in a generation, as new chaos from Yemen to Iraq — along with deteriorating U.S.-Israeli relations — is confounding the president’s efforts to stabilize the region and strike a nuclear deal with Iran,” the Politico reports. That lede from the Obama house organ presupposes that he wants to stabilize the region — and of course, it doesn’t say what kind of nuclear deal Obama wants with the mullahs, but still:
“If there’s one lesson this administration has learned, from President Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech through the Arab Spring, it’s that when it comes to this region, nothing happens in a linear way — and precious little is actually about us, which is a hard reality to accept,” said a senior State Department official.Not everyone is so forgiving. “We’re in a goddamn free fall here,” said James Jeffrey, who served as Obama’s ambassador to Iraq and was a top national security aide in the George W. Bush White House.
For years, members of the Obama team have grappled with the chaotic aftermath of the Arab Spring. But of late they have been repeatedly caught off-guard, raising new questions about America’s ability to manage the dangerous region.
Free fall you say? Roger L. Simon takes that metaphor to its ultimate conclusion:
Obama and his minions are huddled wherever they’re huddled, busy destroying the Western World with their bizarre policies and eagerness to make a deal with Iran that is so desperate it makes the word pathetic seem pathetic. The results of this desperation have been wretched, a fascistic new Persian Empire emerging from Libya to Yemen with Obama auditioning for the role of Cyrus the Great – or is it Ahmadinejad Junior? Whatever the case, it’s horrible Even those same Democrats know it. They’re embarrassed – and they should be. But for the most part they don’t have the guts to say anything. This is the kind of administration that exchanges a creepy sociopath like Bergdahl for five Islamic homicidal maniacs and expects praise for being humanitarian. And everyone walks away shaking their heads.
It’s hard to know why Obama is doing it all. I know it sounds like a rude overstatement but in a way he reminds me of that crazy German pilot flying that plane into that alpine cliff, only the plane is us (America and the West). Does he hate us all that much – or is it just Netanyahu? Whatever the explanation, it’s mighty peculiar. At this point almost no one in the Congress appears to be backing him up – and yet he continues. Who knows what will happen next?
How bad has it gotten? This Iowahawk tweet sums up the hash Mr. Obama and company have made of the region:
US peace partners Egypt & Saudi Arabia ready to invade US peace partner Yemen to fight US peace partner Iran http://t.co/Xv5XP3238U
— David Burge (@iowahawkblog) March 27, 2015
And it gets worse:
What a sad joke has been inflicted upon the American people. And in the Middle East, Israel will have to single-handedly deal with the fallout — which apparently unlike those in the Obama administration, I hope remains purely metaphoric.
“My ISIS is the police,” Nebraska state Sen. Ernie Chambers said during a hearing on Friday, Ashe Schow reports at the Washington Examiner. Chambers “added that if he carried a weapon, he’d use it on a cop:”
“I wouldn’t go to Syria, I wouldn’t go to Iraq, I wouldn’t go to Afghanistan, I wouldn’t go to Yemen, I wouldn’t go to Tunisia, I wouldn’t go to Lebanon, I wouldn’t go to Jordan, I would do it right here,” he added. “Nobody from ISIS ever terrorized us as a people as the police do us daily.”
Nebraska Watchdog recorded the lawmaker’s statements and uploaded the audio to their website.
Chambers wasn’t done ranting at that point. He added that if he carried a firearm, he would shoot a cop.
“If I was going to carry a weapon, it wouldn’t be against you, it wouldn’t be against these people who come here that I might have a dispute with. Mine would be for the police,” Chambers said. “And if I carried a gun I’d want to shoot him first and then ask questions later, like they say the cop ought to do.”
But to the dean of Cornell, ISIS are lovable pussycats whom he’d welcome on campus, the New York Post reports:
This guy is either the dumbest Ivy League bigwig ever or politically correct to a fault — for welcoming offers to bring ISIS and Hamas to Cornell University.
A video sting operation shows Cornell’s assistant dean for students, Joseph Scaffido, agreeing to everything suggested by an undercover muckraker posing as a Moroccan student.
Scaffido casually endorses inviting an ISIS “freedom fighter’’ to conduct a “training camp” for students at the upstate Ithaca campus — bizarrely likening the activity to a sports camp.
Is it OK to bring a humanitarian pro-“Islamic State Iraq and Syria” group on campus, the undercover for conservative activist James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas asks.
Sure, Scaffido says in the recorded March 16 meeting.
Scaffido doesn’t even blink an eye when the undercover asks about providing material support for terrorists — “care packages, whether it be food, water, electronics.”
Click over for O’Keefe’s video, although the sadly at this point, the underlying story isn’t all surprising; to paraphrase William F. Buckley, recall the stories of God and Taliban man at Yale, summarized in 2006 by Linda Chavez at Townhall:
I thought I’d lost the ability to be shocked by anything that happened on an American university campus — that is until I read the New York Times magazine this weekend.
In an article entitled, simply, “The Freshman,” author Chip Brown describes a charming tale of a young man come to study at one of the premier institutions of higher learning in the country. He might more aptly have titled his piece “God, Country, and Yale.” Only in this telling, God is the vengeful Allah of Islamist fanatics, and the country to which this student once pledged his allegiance is the Taliban’s Afghanistan, for the first-year Yalie profiled is none other than the former “ambassador-at-large” of the Taliban regime, Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi.
Yes, Yale has decided to welcome into its fold a man whose previous visit to the New Haven, Conn., campus in March 2001 was as an official apologist for the misogynistic government that had just blown up the famous Buddhas of Bamiyan, the giant 1,500-year-old statues long considered among the most important ancient sculptures in the world.
This might be just another tale of multiculturalism run amok on campus were it not for the 3,000 dead Americans buried in the rubble of the World Trade Center and Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, and the more than 200 Americans who died fighting to liberate Afghanistan from Rahmatullah’s former paymasters. As it is, this story raises serious questions not just about what’s happening on America’s campuses but whether the student visa program that gave us Mohammed Atta and his murderous accomplices continues to pose threats to American security.
Mark Steyn ran into a spot of bother from the Australian equivalent of Media Matters in 2005 for writing that “With hindsight, the defining encounter of the age was not between Mohammed Atta’s jet and the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, but that between Mohammed Atta and Johnelle Bryant a year earlier,” but Mark was certainly onto something. “Bryant is an official with the US Department of Agriculture in Florida, and the late Atta had gone to see her about getting a $US650,000 government loan to convert a plane into the world’s largest crop-duster. A novel idea:”
The meeting got off to a rocky start when Atta refused to deal with Bryant because she was but a woman. But, after this unpleasantness had been smoothed out, things went swimmingly. When it was explained to him that, alas, he wouldn’t get the 650 grand in cash that day, Atta threatened to cut Bryant’s throat. He then pointed to a picture behind her desk showing an aerial view of downtown Washington – the White House, the Pentagon et al – and asked: “How would America like it if another country destroyed that city and some of the monuments in it?”
Fortunately, Bryant’s been on the training course and knows an opportunity for multicultural outreach when she sees one. “I felt that he was trying to make the cultural leap from the country that he came from,” she recalled. “I was attempting, in every manner I could, to help him make his relocation into our country as easy for him as I could.”
15 years later, as the clueless multiculti-meets-PC-meets-elitist-bureaucracy mindset that drives such encounters continues to roll on, Bryant is, alas, far from alone.
“American soldier and former Taliban captive Bowe Bergdahl has been charged with desertion for allegedly walking off his post in Afghanistan in 2009, Bergdahl’s attorney told ABC News today,” Yahoo reports:
President Obama called it a “good day” when Bergdahl was freed, but critics, including some high-ranking Republicans, loudly denounced the deal, likening it to negotiating with terrorists. Also, lawmakers complained that Congress had not been consulted about the exchange, as they said the law requires.
After Bergdahl’s dramatic return to the U.S., the Army launched an investigation into whether the soldier willfully left his post in Afghanistan before he was taken by the Taliban in 2009, as some Afghan war veterans alleged.
As we noted back at the time, the MSM performed quite a hatchet job on Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers when they came forward with details of his alleged desertion, reverting to Vietnam-era smear-the-troops form. In the Washington Examiner, Byron York wrote that all of these leftwing attacks could have been avoided, if the Obama White House had simply been straight with the American public for once:
So why did the White House send National Security Adviser Susan Rice to the Sunday shows to claim that Bergdahl “served the United States with honor and distinction”?
It wasn’t necessary. Rice, speaking for the White House, could have said something to the effect that “Bowe Bergdahl is a troubled young man who made a terrible mistake. Nevertheless, he is an American soldier, and the United States wants him back. The president had a difficult decision to make in balancing the release of the Taliban detainees with this country’s longstanding policy of not leaving U.S. forces behind in a war zone, no matter the circumstances.”
That would not have quieted the controversy over the Taliban trade; critics would still maintain it was a terrible precedent and will increase the danger to America and its allies around the world. And it would not have quieted the controversy over the administration’s decision not to inform Congress about the Taliban release, as specifically required by law. Lawmakers — including some in the president’s party — would still complain about that.
But it would have denied the administration’s critics a devastatingly effective argument. First, President Obama himself appeared with Bergdahl’s parents in rare Saturday remarks in the White House Rose Garden. And then Rice — who had been asked specifically about the circumstances of Bergdahl’s disappearance — said, “He served the United States with honor and distinction.”
In another Sunday appearance, on CNN, Rice suggested Bergdahl had been “captured … on the battlefield” — a claim backed up by none of Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers with him the night he disappeared. The military fully investigated the Bergdahl case in the months after he disappeared in 2009. The investigation reportedly concluded that he had willfully abandoned his post.
And today’s news appears to very strongly confirm those allegations.
By the way, at the risk of playing the “I question the timing” game, the right shouldn’t let the reappearance of Bergdahl in the headlines allow them to take their eyes off of more current news at the intersection of the Obama White House and the Middle East, specifically, the collapse of Yemen and the looming horrific “deal” with Iran.
Anyway, exit question: What are the odds that Obama will pardon Bergdahl? Seems hard to believe he’d take even more heat over this fiasco by letting him go free after he’s been credibly accused by so many soldiers not only of deserting but of indirectly costing several troops their lives during the ensuing search. But then, we already know that O’s in the “WGAF” phase of his presidency; letting Bergdahl go will anger people, but he can spin it with some nonsense about how poor Bowe’s suffered enough, how it’s time to move on, etc. Which, for the White House, it is. The sooner they can put this clusterfark behind them and move on to the next clusterfark, the better.
And with an administration insane enough to “negotiate” with Iran, there will be loads more of those to come.
“There is an upside-down quality to this president’s world view,” Bret Stephens writes in the Wall Street Journal:
His administration is now on better terms with Iran—whose Houthi proxies, with the slogan “God is great, death to America, death to Israel, damn the Jews, power to Islam,” just deposed Yemen’s legitimate president—than it is with Israel. He claims we are winning the war against Islamic State even as the group continues to extend its reach into Libya, Yemen and Nigeria.
He treats Republicans in the Senate as an enemy when it comes to the Iranian nuclear negotiations, while treating the Russian foreign ministry as a diplomatic partner. He favors the moral legitimacy of the United Nations Security Council to that of the U.S. Congress. He is facilitating Bashar Assad’s war on his own people by targeting ISIS so the Syrian dictator can train his fire on our ostensible allies in the Free Syrian Army.
He was prepared to embrace a Muslim Brother as president of Egypt but maintains an arm’s-length relationship with his popular pro-American successor. He has no problem keeping company with Al Sharpton and tagging an American police department as comprehensively racist but is nothing if not adamant that the words “Islamic” and “terrorism” must on no account ever be conjoined. The deeper that Russian forces advance into Ukraine, the more they violate cease-fires, the weaker the Kiev government becomes, the more insistent he is that his response to Russia is working.
To adapt George Orwell’s motto for Oceania: Under Mr. Obama, friends are enemies, denial is wisdom, capitulation is victory.
He’s certainly met his match and come full circle with Iran — or to paraphrase Mr. Obama’s solipsistic campaign slogan, we are the obfuscators we have been waiting for:
● “Obama Scores as Exotic Who Says Nothing,” Froma Harrop, Real Clear Politics, the December 26, 2006.
● “In Nuclear Talks, Iran Seeks to Avoid Specifics,” the New York Times, today.
And speaking of turning things upside down, all of the above is why “Cotton’s Iran Letter Turns Tables on Obama,” Salena Zito writes this week in Real Clear Politics:
If you think the White House wasn’t set back, consider the coordinated appearances by its surrogates and liberal elites on all media platforms, using words like “unprecedented,” “outrageous” and — best of all — “treasonous.”
As they say in the South, a hit dog hollers.
The genius of Cotton is that he met Obama in his own arena, with his own tactic.
He did not say there would be no deal with Iran. He did, however, plainly lay out a U.S. civics lesson in five short paragraphs: Any nuclear agreement with Obama that isn’t approved by Congress can be revoked “with the stroke of a pen” by the next president or changed by Congress itself.
Cheeky move? Probably.
It’s also probably not the last time we will hear from this Army vet of the Iraq war and Harvard-educated scholar, who sees a dangerous world in front of him and believes part of his job is to keep America not only secure but less vulnerable.
I remember when we used to have a president who thought that was his job as well. But nevermind what George W. Bush must think about Obama; right now, I’ll bet Jimmy Carter is watching Obama attempt to negotiate an arms deal with Iran and shaking his head in bewilderment.
CNN: WH reax to Ayatollah’s Death to America was that it was “intended for a domestic political audience.”
— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) March 23, 2015
— David Frum (@davidfrum) March 24, 2015
(H/T: Ed Morrissey.)
Born in Trinidad, British by adoption, winner of the Nobel Prize for literature, he is just about the only person with the authority to compare the twin totalitarianisms of Islamic State and Nazi Germany. Travels in Muslim countries have given him a lot of experience. His essential quality as a writer, I would say, is the insistence that the world is to be understood only through reason and the use of the mind.
The Islamic State, the self-defined new caliphate, exemplifies mindlessness. Its dedication to the general mass-murder of “Shias, Jews, Christians, Copts, Yazidis and anyone it can” is pure Nazism. Other similar characteristics include a belief in racial superiority; and pride in anti-democratic and anti-Semitic bigotry. Hitler’s Germans constructed a false past, and Islamists have the conviction that their history is so unique and important that the history of other people counts for nothing. These ignoramuses are destroying ancient cities and archaeological sites like Nimrud and Hatra. As Naipaul puts it, we all lose “everything that arises from the human impulse to beauty.” Decolonization gave rise to the idea that every advance in civilization is to be condemned as “colonial.” Barbarism, in this perspective, is confused with independence and freedom.
I’m not sure how apt the comparison is — “Without the loudspeaker, we would never have conquered Germany,” Hitler said in 1938, admitting that the Nazis viewed Germany as an essentially foreign nation to be occupied and conquered. But one with a rich cultural heritage and superior technological base for their conquerors to exploit and build upon, with the first nascent television network, and by the waning days of WWII, the first viable jet air craft and suborbital rockets, alongside the boxcars full of human beings being shipped to the gas chamber. ISIS will exploit foreign-developed technology as long as it keeps working, on the way back to a stone age culture the envy of Earth Hour enthusiasts throughout the world. Or as Kathy Shaidle wrote at the start of the month:
Because as wiser men than I have noted since 9/11, at least Germany and Japan were highly advanced civilizations. Some might say too cultivated for their own good (or make that “the good of the rest of us”), making a crashing, bloody regression toward the (other kind of) “mean” nigh on inevitable.
So after we bombed the crap out of them (although not enough in Germany’s case to suit me), at least some survivors retained memories of their culture’s rational past, all the better to reconstruct or even surpass it. (With an infusion of American billions, that is.)
Today’s Muslim belligerents either have no such past, or are busily trying to eradicate any trace of it. When we bother destroying their strongholds, who can even tell? You can’t bomb people back to the Stone Age if they never left. And in any case, this time we reinstituted the Marshall Plan before we half wiped them out—a fatally ass-backwards move.
Of course, to build on David Gelernter’s article today in First Choice (and Naipaul as well), there’s another connection between ISIS and the Nazis:
The totalitarian tyrannies of Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and Stalinist Russia had something crucial and telling in common. Amazingly, many of us don’t see it. All three were officially pagan regimes. The cult of the fuehrer (and the separate SS-cult), Shinto emperor-worship and the Stalin personality cult depended on the suppression of more sophisticated religions—in the first and third cases, Christianity.
Historians have too often misread the Nazis, who did not hate Christians but did hate Christianity. They saw it as a form of weakness, as a Jew-concocted poison that had helped ruin Germany. Historians have mostly failed to write about the importance of state paganism under the Nazis—both fuehrer-and-homeland worship (complete with scriptures and liturgy) in the schools and everyday life, and the special ceremonial of the SS, which had its own chapels and marriage ceremonies. Hatred of Christianity fed hatred of the Jews. Nor have we given the credit they deserve to the Christian heroes and martyrs of the anti-Nazi cause, not just Niemoller and Bonhoeffer and a few well-known others but the whole membership of the small yet robust German confessing church, and other nameless Protestants and Catholics who would not be reduced to animals.
Did German Christians rise en masse? No. But death-defying bravery is a trait not many of us have. Historians owe us a deeper, truer account of the nature of Nazism than most have provided. Nazi Jew-hatred swept the best-educated country in Europe because (many say) centuries of Christian anti-Semitism had paved the way. But Nazi denunciation of Christianity as weak Jewish nonsense also paved the way. Germans had been more restive under Christianity than any other major European people. Which paving counted more? Historians should be trying to answer that important question.
We must understand (not ignore!) Nazi hatred of Christianity so we can understand Germany, the moral character of the war in Europe, and the similarities between the three most bestial regimes in human history.
And as with the Nazis, Imperial Japan, and the Soviet Union, (and their current “Progressive” descendents in both Europe and America), ISIS is none too fond of Christianity either.
Smart power, smart president. “Obama Calls Afghan President Ghani by the Name of His Corrupt Predecessor,” as spotted by Brendan Bordelon at the Corner:
[Obama] noted the need to keep soldiers and advisers in the Central Asian nation “in part, so that President Karzai — who has taken on the mantle of commander-in-chief in a way that we have not seen in the past from an Afghan president — can do a serious review.”
Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai, who served for almost a decade before stepping down in September 2014, was plagued by corruption scandals and often served as a thorn in the side of American security forces in the country.
No wonder Obama displays a vestigial sympathy towards him.
And speaking of smart power, “Arab states are watching in horror as the U.S. increasingly openly switches sides from supporting them to supporting their (and our) worst enemy in the region,” Iran.
It will be cold comfort indeed if a man who ran for the presidency in 2008 under the guise of restoring America’s status with our foreign allies ends up with only one “ally” left — this one:
Can some Republican please overreach here so the media can finally report on it broadly? pic.twitter.com/vzIjeUHSgO
— RB (@RBPundit) March 24, 2015
As Mark Steyn wrote last month:
I’m growing rather weary of the cheap comparisons of Obama with Neville Chamberlain. The British Prime Minister got the biggest issue of the day wrong. But no one ever doubted that he loved his country. That’s why, after his eviction from Downing Street, Churchill kept him on in his ministry as Lord President of the Council, and indeed made Chamberlain part of the five-man war cabinet and had him chair it during his frequent absences. When he died of cancer in October 1940, Churchill wept over his coffin.
So please don’t insult Neville Chamberlain by comparing him to Obama. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, because conspiracies are generally a comforting illusion: the real problem with Obama is that the citizens of the global superpower twice elected him to office. Yet one way to look at the current “leader of the free world” is this: If he were working for the other side, what exactly would he be doing differently?
On the other hand, get a load of this crazy, jingoistic radical: “Imagine a president who stands up and says we will defeat radical Islamic terrorism, and we will call it by its name.”
Wow, that’s some wild-eyed pie-in-the-sky stuff right there. You may say I am a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.
“The word ‘Obama’ is never once mentioned by the ever-diplomatic General Petraeus” during his interview yesterday with the Washington Post, Max Boot writes at Commentary. But, “reading between the lines this is a devastating criticism of the president’s policy from the man who was once his CIA director, Central Command commander, and Afghanistan commander:”
When Petraeus feels compelled to point out that Iran “is not our ally,” he is speaking directly to a White House that imagines otherwise. When he says that the U.S. pullout from Iraq in 2011 “complicated our ability to shape developments in the region,” he is indirectly criticizing Obama, in part, for failing to win a Status of Forces Agreement. And when he criticizes the “scale, scope, speed, and resourcing” of US efforts to support the moderate Syrian opposition, he is indicting the president for not backing the Free Syrian Army, as CIA Director Petraeus and much of the Obama security cabinet had proposed to do in 2012.
Obama wasn’t listening to Petraeus then. Let’s hope he—and the whole world–is listening now. Petraeus’s comments are entirely on the mark.
Hey, remember when the left and the MSM (but I repeat myself) screamed that the president needs to heed the advice of his former and current generals? Good times, good times.
David Frum wonders why World War I doesn’t receive much play in the American overculture:
First, Americans prefer narratives in which they play a central heroic role. The Dwight Eisenhower of the First World War was French, Marshal Ferdinand Foch. Those Americans who cared most intensely about the war found themselves enlisting under other people’s banners. John Singer Sargent painted his great war canvases for Britain’s Imperial War Museum. Edith Wharton volunteered for French relief organizations. Raymond Chandler joined the Canadian army. Ernest Hemingway drove Red Cross ambulances on the Italian front. Henry James forswore his U.S. citizenship and naturalized as British. John Dos Passos, another Red Cross volunteer, later savagely satirized the war as “Mr. Wilson’s war”—somebody else’s war, not his. So it has remained. When the great American literary critic Paul Fussell wrote his marvelous “The Great War and Modern Memory,” he focused on English writers. Their American counterparts may have had a lot to say, but somehow Fussell decided it was not an American thing.
Second, while Americans did win victories in 1918, on the whole, the performance of U.S. forces in the war was not very impressive. Americans did not lack for courage: U.S. forces showed a fighting spirit that had long before been bled out of their allies and adversaries. But they did lack experienced officers, adequate equipment, built-out logistical systems, and almost everything else necessary to fight an industrial war effectively. Their commanders resented and rejected advice from their bloodied French and British counterparts. Lacking sufficient artillery, tanks, and aircraft, they denied that those things were necessary. They drove Americans against German trenches and bunkers in 1915-style human lines, suffering monstrous 1915 casualties for pitiful 1915 gains in ground. There were few First World War equivalents of D-Day or Midway out of which legends could be made.
Third, the war does not obviously or immediately relate to contemporary controversies. We can’t talk about race without talking about the Civil War. Any discussion of America’s role in the world will soon invoke World War II and Vietnam. The Revolution will forever transfix the Republic it created. The First World War, however, now excites interest mainly from isolationist libertarians looking for a war it’s less awkward to oppose than World War II. The war’s most tragic lessons about the need for United States leadership to secure world peace have been so thoroughly internalized by the American political elite that it has forgotten where and how it learned them.
It’s that last item that’s key — Wilson’s hardline stance against free speech was so virulent, it caused his fellow “Progressives” to quickly rebrand themselves, even before he had left office, as “liberals.” He’s the direct predecessor to much of Mr. Obama’s anti-free speech, anti-journalistic, anti-American, pro-racialist worldview.
No wonder Wilson been airbrushed out of the left’s collective memories — with much American domestic history during World War I along with it.
In Artists Under Hitler: Collaboration and Survival in Nazi Germany, Jonathan Petropoulos quoted fellow historian Charles Maier to explain why so many German modernists were willing — in some cases eager — to accommodate Hitler:
In the 1930s the authoritarian party and regime seemed the wave of the future. Disciplined collective man was apparently on the march. Liberalism appeared the effete indulgence of a beleaguered Anglo-American elite or some aging West European philosophers. … In the 1930s the spokesmen for democracy were divided and apparently demoralized. The League of Nations seemed powerless before aggression.
And from the National Socialists’ perspective, “One can also see why the Nazi leaders would seek to cultivate these artists— or, at a minimum, retrain them,”
As Goebbels proclaimed in 1936, expressing some frustration with the younger generation, “One cannot manufacture artists.” His Nazi peer Göring observed, “It is always easier over time to make a decent National Socialist out of an artist than to make a great artist out of a minor Party member. Why was Hitler-the-artist not the first to recognize this?” The regime force-fed the population a diet of culture— far more than they had ever had before. The Nazis needed “cultural workers” of all kinds to realize their ambitions of indoctrination and the creation of a glamorous façade for the Third Reich. Or, in the words of David Schoenbaum, the Nazis shaped a “subjective social reality” that differed from its “objective” (or statistically measurable) counterpart. Germans perceived shifts in society— class divisions, income distribution, and gender roles, among others— that did not correspond to actual events. The state-directed culture and propaganda convinced many of the illusory transformations.
The same was true of International Socialism as well, as Ray Keating of Aleteia writes in his review of Allan Ryskind’s new book, Hollywood Traitors: Blacklisted Screenwriters, Agents of Stalin, Allies of Hitler:
Ryskind writes, “The Hollywood Ten, far from being ‘radical innocents,’ far from having just ‘flirted with Communist ideas,’ as their sympathizers so frequently insist, had all been committed to a Soviet America.” This is perhaps best illustrated by the flip-flopping by Hollywood’s communists in and around World War II as they followed Kremlin orders via the Communist Party in America. That is, being anti-Nazi initially; then working against the anti-Nazis, including Great Britain and the U.S., during the Hitler-Stalin pact; once again, turning passionately against Hitler when he attacked the Soviet Union; and finally, turning against U.S. foreign policy and ultimately advocating our nation’s violent demise. It was all about defending the U.S.S.R., not the U.S.A. [Oceania has always been at war with... -- Ed]
Ryskind makes clear that the Hollywood communists were working for Stalin, either unconcerned or supportive of “Stalin’s swallowing of Eastern Europe, his installation of Red regimes in Asia, his aggressive acts against Western Europe, and the deep penetration of his fifth column in virtually all areas of American society.” Oh yes, and there were the millions of Russians starved and murdered by Uncle Joe.
Which dovetails well with the Theodore Dalrymple quote Mark Steyn highlighted today:
In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better.
In contrast, in 1979, Vaclav Havel wrote:
Because the regime is captive to its own lies, it must falsify everything. It falsifies the past. It falsifies the present, and it falsifies the future. It falsifies statistics. It pretends not to possess an omnipotent and unprincipled police apparatus. It pretends to respect human rights. It pretends to persecute no one. It pretends to fear nothing. It pretends to pretend nothing.
Individuals need not believe all these mystifications, but they must behave as though they did, or they must at least tolerate them in silence, or get along well with those who work with them. For this reason, however, they must live within a lie. They need not accept the lie. It is enough for them to have accepted their life with it and in it. For by this very fact, individuals confirm the system, fulfill the system, make the system, are the system.
(Via Orrin Judd.)
Max Boot on “A Hollow Victory in Tikrit:”
There are reports that Iraqi forces have retaken much of Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown, from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Pictures of jubilant Iraqi soldiers are appearing on the Internet. It remains to be seen whether these celebrations are premature or not; certainly Iraqi forces have a history of claiming victories over ISIS that soon unravel.
But even if this “victory” stands up, our jubilation should be tightly controlled. Yes, it’s a good thing if ISIS is suffering defeats, but who’s winning? It’s not the United States and it’s not the lawful Iraqi state led by Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi. The real victor here, if there is a victory, is Iran. Most of the fighters who are taking Tikrit are Iranian-backed Shiite militiamen, not soldiers of Iraq. The real leader of this operation is not any general appointed by Prime Minister Abadi but rather Qassem Suleimani, head of the Iranian Quds Force, who has been a high-profile presence on the front lines.
And this is not an isolated occurrence. With Iran and its proxies taking the lead in fighting ISIS, there is a real danger that U.S. support for the anti-ISIS drive will wind up delivering Iraq into the hands of Iran. This is, of course, the danger that many opponents of the Iraq War warned about, but it was a danger kept in check as long as there was a substantial U.S. troop presence in Iraq. The U.S. departure at the end of 2011, however, opened the floodgates for Iranian influence.
Speaking of Iran, elsewhere at Commentary, Jordan Chandler Hirsch explains “How America Bamboozled Itself About Iran:”
If a nuclear deal is imminent, that is largely because over the past 13 years of on-and-off negotiations, the great powers of the world have slowly but surely given in to Iran’s demands. As Iran has flouted United Nations resolutions demanding a halt to its program, those nations have steadily softened their terms. Instead of ending the threat of Iranian nuclearization, negotiators have apparently limited their ambitions to an attempt to regulate it—an idea that, given the record of Iran’s lack of even rudimentary compliance with international law, is wishful thinking.
How did we get here? In speaking with nearly 30 experts and veterans of both the Bush and Obama administrations, I’ve found one core factor at the heart of this outcome: the desire to avoid military engagement with Iran at all costs—and, particularly during the Obama administration, the fear of even threatening it. Without a credible threat to use force, the United States has relied on tools that alone could never have compelled the Islamic Republic of Iran to abandon its nuclear program.
Convinced that the United States would not attack, Iran has largely dictated the terms. The history of negotiating with Iran suggests that no matter the result of the next round of diplomacy—full agreement, another extension, or collapse—the Iran talks have failed.
And finally, here’s Sen. Tom Cotton ably holding his own against the repeated badgerings of MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski, whose father Zbigniew worked under Jimmy Carter. As Jay Nordlinger wrote in his classic “Carterpalooza piece at NRO in 2002, “For years, Carter has been a thorn in the side of presidents, acting as a kind of ‘anti-president,’” particularly if the real president was from the opposite party. And note how Mika, the author of Women, Money and Getting What You’re Worth, is essentially siding with the mullahs, who aren’t exactly known for their views on gender equality.
Fancy that from a lefty.
But then the Senate versus Obama — and vice versa — is “A War of Obama’s Making,” as Byron York writes at the Washington Free Beacon.
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) March 10, 2015
I’m getting old; I remember the good old days when history for Democrats began in November of 2000:
“By interfering with the negotiation, the 47 Senators have violated the terms of the Logan Act,” is the second trope knocked aside by John Podhoretz in “2 Wrongheaded Liberal Takes on the Cotton Letter” at Commentary:
But turning the Logan Act on Senate Republicans is a genuinely hilarious bit of rank hypocrisy for liberals and Democrats to make, since almost every incidence of foreign-policy freebooting against an administration’s efforts in the modern era has come from the Left, and the outrage generated by such efforts—by Jesse Jackson in Syria in 1984, by Congressional Republicans in Nicaragua throughout the 1980s, by Rep. Jim McDermott in Iraq in 2003, by Jimmy Carter with Hamas in 2008. The silence at the time when it came to these acts of “interference” with Presidential foreign policy on the part of liberals and the media were deafening.
Not the least of which was Teddy Kennedy attempting to negotiate with the Soviet Union to undermine Reagan in the ’84 election.
“Oh, two last things for those trying to pin a Logan Act violation on the GOP for this one,” from Moe Lane:
One, you’re all a bunch of pig-ignorant doofuses (doofusi?). Two, the reason why you’re all a bunch of pig-ignorant doofuses (doofi?) is because “The Logan Act doesn’t prevent members of Congress from speaking to foreign governments.” As was noted by… Media Matters for America. And here’s the screenshot, for when they take that entry down (H/T to @hunterpearce for that one). Mind you, the Constitution takes precedent over this one anyway, which is why the more rabid elements of the Left are screaming so loudly. Well, and because they’re all a bunch of pig-ignorant doofuses (I should just stop trying to make that word operate under another language’s grammatical rules)*…
Meanwhile, staffers at the New York Daily News are busy pondering if Obamacare covers neck braces from the horrible case of whiplash caused by this 180 degree spin, as spotted by John Nolte at Big Journalism:
Of course, both of those headlines can be boiled down to a single root cause:
RE THE IRAN LETTER: When Democrats accuse writers of “treason,” what they really mean is Lèse-majesté.
— Instapundit.com (@instapundit) March 10, 2015
No matter who’s running the show, whether it’s the Washington Post, Tina Brown, or these days, the International Business Times, (quite an interesting venture in and of itself) Newsweek remains a bedrock of continual insanity in this ever-changing world in which we live in, to coin a phrase:
— D. Gartenstein-Ross (@DaveedGR) March 6, 2015
— Karol Markowicz (@karol) March 9, 2015
Gosh, what could go wrong?