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It Is about More than Iraq

Excerpts from Destabilizer-in-Chief by Mario Loyola in National Review:

The most basic reason to keep forces in Iraq after 2011 was not to continue the war — which was already over by the time Obama was sworn in as president — but rather so that we wouldn’t have to fight a major war in the Middle East again. Granted, U.S. forces had become necessary only as a result of the 2003 invasion and the toppling of Saddam. But simply ignoring that necessity and withdrawing the troops could not undo the Iraq War, any more than abandoning open-heart surgery midway can undo the initial incision.

The Obama administration makes the excuse that because Iraq’s National Assembly refused to pass a law granting immunity from local criminal prosecution for U.S. troops, we were forced to leave. This is preposterous, and the media should stop repeating it. Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki offered to issue an executive order that would have satisfied U.S. concerns. Indeed, minimal U.S. forces are now back in Iraq under cover of just such an executive order. But the bigger point is that we had just won the war. We had defeated all the warring factions in Iraq. By 2009 virtually all the factions had some degree of dependency on the U.S., and they all understood that we were going to leave when we were good and ready.

The central position the U.S. had achieved in the Middle East by 2009 was not merely the result of victory in the Iraq War. It was a position carefully built up over decades. It started in the 1950s and 1960s with a de facto protectorate of the oil-producing Gulf Kingdoms. It was consolidated in the 1970s with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s success in gaining Jordan’s trust and turning Egypt away from the Soviet Union and toward peace with Israel. And it was further built up by both of the wars with Iraq.

The Persian Gulf War, in 1991, left the U.S. alliance in such a powerful position that dozens of states recognized Israel, and Arab leaders agreed, for the first time since “the three no’s of Khartoum” in 1967, to sit across from Israelis in direct negotiations. The Israeli-Palestinian “peace process” that started in Oslo in 1993 was made possible only by the shift in the regional balance of power in favor of the U.S. and away from the extremists.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 unleashed a proxy war between Iran’s Shiite extremists and the Sunni extremists of the Gulf Kingdoms, because we had taken down the dominant central power keeping that conflict at bay, namely Saddam. Al-Qaeda fighters from more backward parts of the Arab world streamed into Iraq through Syria and started murdering Shiites mercilessly. And when the reprisals came, all Sunnis were targeted — whether they were al-Qaeda or not, Iraqi or not. The Sunnis of Iraq, who are less prone to extremism than their brothers elsewhere, got caught in the crossfire.

But in 2007 and 2008, the U.S. decisively defeated all the forces that were actually fighting in this proxy war. By 2009, even Obama admitted that the U.S. had achieved a promising situation in Iraq. All the major political factions there overtly backed a long-term alliance with the United States. And the Sunni moderates in particular looked to America with desperate hope. We were the only force that could protect them from both al-Qaeda and the Shiite militias.

In short, we had assumed a role among Iraq’s factions similar to the central mediating role that the U.S. had achieved between Israel and Egypt during the Nixon and Ford administrations. Any peace agreement with the Arabs carries major risks for Israel — that is the essential problem in the Arab–Israeli conflict. It is also what makes the U.S. indispensable to any resolution. Only the U.S. can guarantee Israel’s security sufficiently to underwrite the risks of a peace agreement. Indeed, it is because we succeeded in that very role after the Yom Kippur War of 1973 that Egypt and Israel made peace at Camp David — in the United States.

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Illiberalism

From the Editors at National Review, Progressive Illiberalism

The prevailing view in Democratic circles is that Americans enjoy constitutional and legal rights when acting alone but not when acting jointly — i.e., not when it matters most to public affairs. Under this model, the owners of Hobby Lobby enjoy First Amendment religious protections, and RFRA protections, when they are kneeling in prayer by their bedsides, and perhaps, with certain limitations and IRS oversight, when they are in their church pews. But if they make a decision together, as a group of business owners with a particular vision of the good life and their own duties as people of conscience, then the Democrats believe that their legal and constitutional rights should be set aside, as though human beings and American citizens acting in concert with one another were less than human beings or less than American citizens because of that act of coordination.

That is morally and constitutionally illiterate, but it is the prevailing view on the Left — especially when it comes to the First Amendment. Once again vexed by the likes of Antonin Scalia and his Cro-Magnon insistence that words mean things, Senate Democrats have rallied behind Harry Reid’s attempt to repeal the First Amendment’s free-speech protections, proposing to effectively disembowel the Bill of Rights. Once again, the theory is that while individuals enjoy free-speech rights, associations do not — except for Democrat-friendly associations such as labor unions and the New York Times. Ordinary citizens acting together and pooling their resources to engage in political discourse are to be denied free-speech protection.

There is an ongoing debate on right about what to call our antagonists on the left. “Liberal” is the traditional word, and one that we still employ out of habit, but the Left is anything but liberal — in the matter of contraception as in the matter of free speech, it is fundamentally and incorrigibly illiberal. The word “progressive” has some appeal in that it does not invest the Left with the merits of a liberalism that it detests, but that term presents a problem, namely the question of: Progressing toward what? If Senators Reid, Murray, and Udall are any indication, the answer is an enlarged state under the management of a diminished intelligence.

HKO

There is a large intellectual gap between rights such as free speech and freedom of religion which are a recognition of your state of freedom and your right to acquire  services and products at someone else’s expense.  Such poorly named rights can not be both none of my business and remain my responsibility to fund.

It is very politically shortsighted to designate power to deliver political outcomes desired at the moment.  You need to visualize that power being in the hands of your worst nightmare.

 

 

 

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Korean Lessons Unlearned

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Excerpts from Destabilizer-in-Chief by Mario Loyola in National Review:

The Korean War is justly remembered as a valiant struggle. And yet the conflict could have been avoided but for a major blunder on the part of the Truman administration. The year before South Korea was attacked, the U.S. withdrew the forces it had left there in the wake of World War II. It was the ensuing vacuum of power that precipitated that terrible war.

The lesson has been lost on most Americans, starting with Barack Obama. Bent on withdrawing U.S. power from the Middle East, Obama removed the major counterweight to the competing extremist forces there. As a result, the conflicts smoldering beneath the surface have burst into a major conflagration in a region that is far more vital to U.S. interests than Korea was.

When the U.S. withdrew its forces from Korea in the spring of 1949 — against the advice of commanders on the ground — it left behind a lightly armed dictatorship in no condition to defend itself. And then, in January 1950, Secretary of State Dean Acheson delivered his famous “perimeter speech,” which pointedly left South Korea outside our postwar military perimeter along the Pacific Rim.

It was an irresistible invitation for the North to invade, and when Kim Il-sung accepted it in June 1950, he bulldozed over the South’s army and rapidly engulfed most of the country. The Truman administration reacted quickly, and American forces began pouring into the vanishing redoubt in Pusan, at the southeastern tip of the peninsula.

Somebody should have pointed out to Truman in 1949 that, having withdrawn the garrison and left South Korea a sitting duck, he had made a North Korean invasion much more likely. If the U.S. was prepared to fight in Korea, it should have left sufficient forces there to deter an attack in the first place. Bolstering a dictatorship like Syngman Rhee’s was hardly palatable, but we ended up having no choice.

U.S. forces in Korea eventually reached 330,000 troops. And, in a horrific irony, the number of U.S. soldiers killed or missing in action proved almost exactly the same as the number we withdrew in 1949. In many cases the Americans who died in Korea were the same soldiers we had withdrawn to Japan a year or two earlier. Little did they know that, by being withdrawn from Korea too soon, they were being sent to their graves.

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Ending a War Badly

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Victor Davis Hansen writes in the National Review How Obama Lost the Middle East

The more Obama campaigned in 2008 on a failed war in Iraq, a neglected war in Afghanistan, an ill-considered War on Terror, and an alienated Middle East, the more those talking points were outdated and eclipsed by fast-moving events on the ground. By Inauguration Day in January 2009, the hard-power surge had largely defeated al-Qaeda in Iraq. It had won over many of the Sunnis and had led to a U.S.-enforced coalition government, monitored by American troops.

But there remained one caveat: What had been won on the ground could be just as easily lost if the U.S. did not leave behind peacekeepers in the manner that it had in all its past successful interventions: the Balkans, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Philippines, and South Korea.

Likewise, the once-derided “War on Terror” measures — Guantanamo, the Patriot Act, military tribunals, preventative detentions, renditions, and drones — by 2009 had largely worked. Since 9/11, America had foiled dozens of terrorist plots against our homeland and neutralized terrorists abroad, killing tens of thousands in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Obama for a while privately accepted that truth and thereby continued many of the very protocols that he had once derided.

But there was again one problem. Obama kept posturing to the world that he would close Guantanamo and substitute civilian trials for military tribunals. He continued to say that he did not enjoy using renditions or drones — even as he upped the latter’s deadly missions tenfold.

Once more in the Middle East, Barack Obama is looking to blame others for a mess that has grown since 2009. But mostly he just wants out of the lose-lose region at any cost and wishes that someone would just make all the bad things go away.

HKO

Perhaps it is ultimately more costly to end a war badly than to begin badly.  Effective diplomacy relies on your allies and your enemies knowing what you stand for.  Consistency and clarity has great value. There is no place for meaningless threats and constant self doubt.

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Money Without Class

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From National Review by Celina Durgin, Here’s How Little Chelsea Clinton Cares About Money, In Dollars

Excerpt:

How indifferent is she to the lure of filthy lucre? Clinton is currently pulling down $600,000 per year for the kind of no-show job you probably thought had disappeared with the demise of the American mafia. She is officially employed as an on-air correspondent for NBC News even though she hasn’t appeared on NBC for the past four months. Clips of Clinton’s work for the Peacock Network are hard to find online, and one of the few accessible segments — her interview with the GEICO gecko — reveals that NBC’s coaching failed to improve her affectless voice, lazy delivery and absolute lack of charm, charisma or talent. According to Berkeley inequality specialist and Thomas Piketty collaborator Emmanuel Saez, an annual salary of $394,000 qualifies one to be part of the “One Percent” of wealthiest Americans.

According to Associated Press, NBC wanted to avoid an apparent conflict of interest as Clinton busies herself with outside work for her parents’ foundation. Would that all journalists could pocket $50,000 each month merely for not actively souring their employers’ good name.

Clinton is so unconcerned with money that she shelled out $10.3 million of the worthless stuff just last spring to buy a swanky pad near Manhattan’s Flatiron Building. Her 2010 wedding to Marc Mezvinsky cost an estimated $3.3 million.

Chelsea Clinton’s 5,000-square-foot apartment overlooking Madison Square Park features four bedrooms, five-and-a-half baths, oak floors, Italian marble bathrooms, a temperature-controlled storage room, and access to a key-locked elevator, the New York Daily News reported. Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez had been considering the residence before Clinton and Mezvinsky nabbed it.

And how does someone who doesn’t care about money spend twice as much on a wedding as the average American earns in a lifetime? You start with not one but two dresses by acclaimed designer Vera Wang, who attended the wedding. CBS News estimates the cost of the laser-cut organza-skirted gown she wore down the aisle to be $24,900. The price of the second Vera Wang dress, a Grecian-inspired gown for the reception, is unknown.

HKO

One of the advantages of wealth is not having to worry about it.  Those who earn it are not embarrassed about it and those who are lucky enough to inherit it or win the lottery usually have enough class to shut up about it.

But coming form a mother who claimed to be dead broke after 8 years in the White House, who complained about having to pay the mortgages on multiple residences, and who claimed that she and Bill were not that well off, even though they are worth over $100 million, and having earned (well sort of)  over $5 million in 18 months giving 40 minute speeches at $200 thousand a pop, which could be conceived as simple down payments of bribery, it is clear that this apple fell very close to the tree.