Belmont Club

Getting It

One of the most powerful political weapons in the world today was — is —  self-hostaging.  A party threatens to harm itself unless demands are granted. “Then it will be your fault.” This tactic was on full display in the Middle East.

BREAKING: Palestinians Threaten to Dismantle the Palestinian Authority.

Will the crisis in the Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations soon lead to the dismantling of the Palestinian Authority? Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas gave a veiled threat stressing that he will dismantle the Palestinian Authority in his meeting with Israeli Knesset members in Ramallah, but now it seems that the implicit threat might soon become an official position in peace negotiations….

In recent times, the Palestinian Authority has examined how they can dissolve themselves in the event that the talks fail with Israel. In this case, the Palestinians state that the burden will fall on Israel. As of today, the Palestinian Authority receives over $2 billion per year in donations from other countries across the globe.

Refugee ships headed for Europe are sometimes admitted on an analogous threat.

Almost 1,000 illegal immigrants landed in Italy yesterday after threatening to throw babies into the sea if their rusting ship was turned back.

The 240ft Monica had been spotted in international waters during the night.

When Italian coastguard boats drew alongside, the crews were shocked to see men and women on board begin dangling the infants over the side.

The refugees – mostly Kurds and many said to be heading for Britain – calmed down only when they were assured they would not be turned away from Italy.

“If you don’t let me kill you I’ll kill myself and then it will be your fault.” This used to work real good.  Who knows how many victims admitted their killers on that basis?

The Boston Bombers, for example, were granted permission to enter America on asylum. “The Tsarnaev brothers reportedly were granted asylum by “derivative” status through their parents. After entering on short-term tourist visas, the mother and father (an ethnic Chechen Muslim) won asylum and acquired U.S. citizenship. Next, younger son Dzhokhar obtained U.S. citizenship. Older son Tamerlan, whose naturalization application was pending, traveled freely between the U.S. and the jihad recruitment zone of Dagestan, Russia.” The West admitted people because they pitied them, even though the objects of sympathy neither pitied the West nor even themselves.

The biggest virtuoso of self-hostaging was North Korea. For decades it starved its people to build nuclear weapons and rockets to target America, which is ironically one of North Korea’s biggest providers of food aid. Talk about biting the hand that fed you. This was a case of preparing to nuke the country which kept you from starvation.

This bordered on the absurd. However few American officials dared cut food aid to Pyongyang because the Left would accuse it of “using food as a weapon”. The absurdity was never obvious to the left. Aid had in fact been recently restarted to Pyongyang when it began new missile tests, causing it to be suspended again. The Los Angeles Times wrote in April 2012:

For decades,North Korea’s leaders have bet heavily on a stark calculation: In order to survive, they need to nurture their rocket and nuclear programs at the expense of feeding their people. Rarely have the consequences been as clear. …

Moreover, in the wake of the test, the U.S. has canceled a Feb. 29 agreement to provide North Korea with emergency food aid. The U.S. and other powers fear that the launch masked an effort to test a delivery system for a nuclear warhead.

But the withholding of food aid seems unlikely to sway North Korea.

“Telling the North Koreans you’re not going to feed their starving people if they launch a missile is like telling your 2-year-old you’ll take away their broccoli if they don’t behave,” said an American aid official who asked not to be named because of the ongoing efforts to help feed the North’s population.

More than a million North Koreans died of starvation in the 1990s, a result of disastrous economic policies and the collapse of the Soviet bloc.

“The North Korean regime considers military success a question of survival — that it’s better to be famished than let the insidious Americans kill you,” said Andrei Lankov, a leading scholar of North Korean history.

Only two months passed before Morton Abramowitz asked in the Atlantic: “Why Is the U.S. Withholding Food Aid From Starving North Korea?”

Last month, Congress denied food aid to a half-starved nation. Some Senators tried to pass legislation blocking nutritional assistance to North Korea. A determined effort by Senators John Kerry and Richard Lugar successfully inserted an amendment allowing the administration to provide food if “the President issues a national interest waiver.” …

By our own standards of human rights and humanitarian principles, the United States should stop stalling on the issue of food assistance and work toward a solution. If Washington is too uncomfortable dealing directly with Pyongyang, then the World Food Program and other UN agencies stand ready to communicate with North Korea on our behalf and find some way to get food to some of the North Korean people badly in need. Washington seems unprepared to take any steps — a remarkable performance for the world’s leading food donor.

“Why Is the U.S. Withholding Food Aid From Starving North Korea?” The correct answer of course is because the food aid makes no difference. Maybe the food aid suspension will last this time. People are beginning to catch on to the game. Last month the New York Times carried a column by Joshua Stanton and Sung-Yoon Lee explaining that food aid to the Nokors is merely diverted. It doesn’t save anybody.

The United Nations Commission of Inquiry’s report on North Korea, released last month, contains so many tragic findings that it is difficult to grasp the scale of the crimes described. But the world owes it to the North Korean victims, both living and dead, to focus on a figure buried in paragraph 664 of the commission’s report: $645,800,000.

That is what the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, is said to have squandered in 2012 on “luxury goods,” including cosmetics, handbags, leather products, watches, electronics, cars and top-shelf alcohol. In that same year, Mr. Kim also spent $1.3 billion on his ballistic missile programs. …

According to one expert witness testimonial before the commission, the North Korean regime, at the height of the famine, could have closed its food gap by importing between $100 and $200 million worth of food each year, which is just 1 to 2 percent of its national income. Yet rather than using foreign food aid to supplement its own commercial food imports, the commission found that Kim Jong-il used aid “as a substitute for” them, cutting back on commercial food imports when more aid arrived. By contrast, the State Department estimates that in 1997, at the peak of the famine, North Korea’s annual military budget was $6 billion….

North Korea’s willful enforcement of hunger casts doubt on the capacity of outsiders to feed its people, absent fundamental political change in Pyongyang. Coping mechanisms that regular North Koreans have learned — such as food smuggling, growing of food on hidden plots and black market trading — have probably done more to end the famine and change North Korean society than aid or “engagement” programs.

Perhaps one day the Left will understand that it’s not the lack of aid that kills. It is tyranny that kills.  The Left sees tyranny as a means to achieve social justice. In reality tyranny is just a means to achieve tyranny.

Propping up despots in an effort to make them our “partners for peace” or paying the Danegeld to “engage” evil men is not enlightenment. It is stupidity. It’s not an act of pacifism. Complicity is the right word. Now the Palestinian authority has issued an ultimatum: “take one more step and I’ll shoot myself.”  One day someone will answer, ‘well go ahead’. Who knows but that it may occur even to John Kerry?

Astonishingly, reality gets its due. God actually wins in the end. Nobody ever beat arithmetic. Not even president Obama. The New York Times reports that president Obama has rediscovered George Kennan.

“That is the strategy we ought to be pursuing,” said Ivo H. Daalder, formerly Mr. Obama’s ambassador to NATO and now president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “If you just stand there, be confident and raise the cost gradually and increasingly to Russia, that doesn’t solve your Crimea problem and it probably doesn’t solve your eastern Ukraine problem. But it may solve your Russia problem.”

The manifestation of this thinking can be seen in Mr. Obama’s pending choice for the next ambassador to Moscow. While not officially final, the White House is preparing to nominate John F. Tefft, a career diplomat who previously served as ambassador to Ukraine, Georgia and Lithuania….

In effect, Mr. Obama is retrofitting for a new age the approach to Moscow that was first set out by the diplomat George F. Kennan in 1947 and that dominated American strategy through the fall of the Soviet Union. The administration’s priority is to hold together an international consensus against Russia, including even China, its longtime supporter on the United Nations Security Council. …

That represents a remarkable turnaround from the start of Mr. Obama’s presidency, when he nursed dreams of forging a new partnership with Russia. Now the question is how much of the relationship can be saved. Mr. Obama helped Russia gain admission to the World Trade Organization; now he is working to limit its access to external financial markets.

Do you hear me now?

Do you hear me now?

But the slow awakening — assuming Obama doesn’t go right back to sleep — will exact its price. Some part of the peace in which the world grew to prosperity has now been irretrievably squandered. It’s the price of the Left’s biggest vanity purchase: the empty Lightworker. Maybe the world make it out of the woods, but nothing will go back to the way it was.

News sources described how the recent Korean ferry disaster which drowned hundreds of students occurred in part because the captain ordered the passengers to shelter in place for 40 minutes while the whip went down. Control was more important than common sense. And those forty minutes cost hundreds of lives. The NYT describes Obama still clutching at straws, inflicting his 40 minutes.

Mr. Obama seems intent on not letting Russia dominate his presidency. While Mr. Obama spends a lot of time on the Ukraine crisis, it does not seem to absorb him. Speaking privately with visitors, he is more likely to bring up topics like health care and the Republicans in Congress than Mr. Putin. Ukraine, he tells people, is not a major concern for most Americans, who are focused on the economy and other issues closer to home.

Since returning from a trip to Europe last month, Mr. Obama has concentrated his public schedule around issues like job training and the minimum wage. Even after his diplomatic team reached the Geneva agreement to de-escalate the crisis last week, Mr. Obama headed to the White House briefing room not to talk about that but to hail new enrollment numbers he said validated his health care program.

Even that’s a fantasy, but arithmetic will teach him a lesson. The mills of the gods grind slow but they grind exceeding small.

Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with you friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.

The War of the Words for $3.99, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres
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Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99, why government should get small
No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.
Storm Over the South China Sea $0.99, how China is restarting history in the Pacific
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