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Terrorist Sponsored States

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

The Arab Spring began with great hope around the world. But the Arab Spring was no mere rebellion against authoritarian regimes. It was the crisis of legitimacy of the brittle Arab states that arose in the wake of decolonization. Whether it will leave behind something better or worse is a question on which the fate of the world in the 21st century greatly depends. Bush’s pro-democracy agenda to some extent anticipated the challenge for U.S. policy, propelled by a dark harbinger of things to come — the 9/11 attacks, which had revealed the ability of terrorist networks to wage war on a par with states. But the “Bush doctrine” seemed largely discredited by the time he left office, and Obama happily jettisoned it.

But he replaced it with nothing. The Syrian civil war has revealed the gaping lack of a consensus U.S. strategy to deal with the new global security environment. Even if Assad wins the war, it would not be a return to the status quo ante of a mass-torturing state-sponsor of terrorism. As Philip Bobbitt suggests in Terror and Consent (2009), the 21st century will replace the state-sponsor of terrorism with the terrorist-sponsor of states. In Lebanon, we have already witnessed the ascendancy of Hezbollah over the government. In Syria, as a result of the civil war, the Assad regime has become, and will continue to be, a pawn of Hezbollah and the Quds Force, which in turn increasingly dominates Iran.

In the Middle East we are witnessing a struggle between opposing terrorist networks for control of entire states. By withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq, helping assure Assad’s victory in Syria, and failing to back Israel forcefully enough, Obama has empowered all the terrorist networks in the Middle East simultaneously.

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Choosing Not to Finish

from Iraq War Regrets in The National Review, a compendium of analysis.

DAVID FRENCH

I don’t feel remorse for advocating that America topple Saddam Hussein. I don’t feel remorse that Americans also fought long and hard to defeat the subsequent insurgency and create a stable (though highly imperfect) Iraqi state. In fact, we largely succeeded. The Iraq of 2008 was a more stable, more humane, and more peaceful country than the Iraq of Saddam Hussein. In 2011, even President Obama was proclaiming the progress.

I don’t feel remorse, but I do feel rage. I feel rage that President Obama threw aside the pleas of coalition partners in Iraq not to pull American forces entirely out of Iraq. I feel rage that he persisted in his hands-off approach even if it became abundantly clear that the jihadist threat was growing once again.

In this war, as in virtually every American war, we made serious mistakes — especially early — but we corrected those mistakes and brought our enemy to the very brink of ultimate defeat. But unlike in prior conflicts, our political leaders chose not to finish the job. They chose to abandon Iraq, forgetting a fundamental truth: Wars do not end simply because one side chooses to stop fighting.

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The End of Excuses

From National Review Online

Secular Stagnation Is a Cover-Up
Failed Keynesian policies have blocked growth.
By Larry Kudlow & Stephen Moore

Excerpts:

The blame falls on the White House and the Fed, and the discredited Keynesian model that government spending, debt, and cheap money are the way to restore growth. Ideas have consequences, and bad ideas have bad consequences. We’re still waiting for the government-spending multipliers and the Fed’s escape-velocity rebound to kick in.

Amazingly, the architects of this colossal policy failure are the same people who promised they would rebuild the U.S. economy “for the long term,” as Barack Obama put it in 2009. But they’re now blaming the stagnant economy on structural problems beyond their control. Oh, we get it. Consumers and businesses are wrong because they didn’t adhere to Keynesian economic models.

We have paid people not to work by raising eligibility and time limits for various benefit plans, substantially raised marginal tax penalties when people move from welfare to work, disincentivized employers from hiring more workers (Obamacare, minimum wage), raised taxes on investment, passed new regulations to strangle our energy industry, unionized even when workers don’t want it, continued corporate-welfare cronyism, and refused to fix a corporate tax system that sends jobs abroad. And then we wonder why the economy won’t shift into a higher gear.

And sadly enough, this is all happening when the potential for growth, productivity, and wealth are at an all-time high.

HKO

The arrogance of this administration is absolutely stunning.  They passed endless destructive policies and take no responsibility for their outcome. The strength of this economy in the face of these destructive policies is amazing, but how long will it last?

At what point are excuses exhausted and accountability expected?

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Human Capacity for Self Delusion

kevin williamson

Kevin Williamson in National Review writes Economics Lessons Unlearnt

Excerpts:

More likely, the science writer David H. Freedman is correct when he argues that “economic models are always wrong,” that the process of calibrating models to account for historical and current data renders them very, very precise and very, very useless. This is another example of the mapmakers’ dilemma: In order to be manageable, models must, by definition, be simplified versions of the real world, and the more simplified they are, the less accurate they are. There is no economics version of the all-seeing Laplace’s Demon. Professor Krugman’s demand — “Show Me the Model!” — assumes the usefulness of the model, which cannot, in fact, be assumed.

There is no obvious reason to believe that successful economic policies are transferable from country to country. Indeed, it may be that “successful” policies in the main merely coincide with happy economic outcomes rather than causing them. There is not much reason to believe that they are transferable from year to year, much less from generation to generation, in spite of the moanings of our phantom armies of New Deal romantics. Economic conditions change very quickly and in ways that are impossible to predict.

The first issue of evidence we should consider is whether there is any evidence that large, complex economies such as those of Japan or the United States are in fact manageable through the blunt instrument of politics. If there is a political constituency for a 6.8 percent contraction in the Japanese economy, it is not obvious what it is. If there is a political constituency for the current state of the U.S. economy, especially the stagnation of middle-to-low-income wages, that is equally non-obvious. All the best people were convinced that Shinzō Abe had it figured out — and, by coincidence, he was putting forward policies very similar to the ones they themselves prefer. That’s evidence of something, too: the human capacity for self-delusion, one of the few commodities to which the economic concept of scarcity does not apply.

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Destabilization

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

Influence is a function of power. Commitments have to be backed by real resources. Otherwise, as Walter Lippmann argued, your foreign policy is bankrupt. Once the Iraq War was over, the key task facing the U.S. was to ensure the strength and stability of Iraq’s governing institutions long enough for them to be able to stand on their own. This required above all that the factions see their future in cooperation under a U.S. umbrella rather than conflict fueled by extremism — exactly as with Egypt and Israel in the 1970s.

The continued presence of U.S. forces empowered us to underwrite the risks of reconciliation for those factions, in particular the Sunnis. That’s what made us indispensable mediators. As long as U.S. forces were present, U.S. diplomats had powerful levers with which to continue pushing Iraq’s factions toward compromise. But with our forces gone, our diplomats suddenly can’t convince any Iraqi of anything. And because the conflict is internal, we can’t solve it by arming competing governments, as we did with Israel and Egypt. Our allies within Iraq — those who had fought on our side, and who are that country’s best hopes for the future — were left helpless before the competing forces in the proxy war between Iran and the Gulf Kingdoms.

Though it is often said that the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a strategic windfall for Iran, in fact Iran achieved nearly nothing with the considerable effort it expended arming Shiite militias and manufacturing potent IEDs to kill U.S. forces. By 2009, the Iranian-backed militias in Iraq had been utterly defeated and marginalized, and, Maliki’s obsequiousness to Iran aside, even the Shiite political parties backed the U.S. over Iran.

It took Obama to turn the Iraq War into a strategic windfall for Iran. And what a windfall it has been. The alliance of Syria, Russia, and Iran is everywhere in the ascendant. Obama has thrown away not only a priceless strategic position in Iraq, but indeed the dominant U.S. position in the whole Middle East, on which the stability of the region depended — along with any hope for Israeli–Palestinian peace.