Archive for the ‘Foreign Policy’ Category

Shockingly, Bill Maher Makes Sense on Gaza

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Here’s something from the “Blind Squirrel Find Acorn” department: Bill Maher actually making sense on Israel’s incursion into Gaza.

Some choice quotes:

“If Hamas had the opportunity, they would kill the maximum number of Israelis, which would be all. And Israel has the capability to kill a lot more and they do not. They seem victims of the soft bigotry of high expectations.”

“Can we ask why Israel wins all the time? Because they’ve won every war. They have to. You can’t go 8-1 and be Israel. You have to go 8-0 every year to still exist.”

“Jews have 155 Nobel Prizes and Muslims have two. Maybe it’s who you know, but that seems a big advantage for Team Hebrew.”

IDF Goes Into Gaza

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Israel has launched what it calls a limited ground offensive into Gaza, mainly to destroy terrorist infrastructure like tunnels.

If so, expect both parties to go through this same dance in, oh, about two years. Assuming there’s not a full-scale Shunni/Shia civil war raging across the region by then.

Here’s a live blog from the Times of Israel.

Israel Picks Perfect Time to Kick Hamas’ Ass

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

Just a quick note to compliment Israel on a perfect sense of timing in picking this week to kick Hamas’ incompetent ass (yet again) in Operation Protective Edge:

  • No one cares about Hamas’ propaganda bullshit anymore:

    Hamas has done more harm to the Palestinian movement in the past two decades, than any opponent of the Palestinians could have done. It has sabotaged relations with a sympathetic media through muddled press conferences and moronic bombastic statements about “opening the gates of hell.” It has driven out international supporters, managed to decrease the support it did have among various “free Gaza” committees and “shot its bolt” in its various ill-conceived wars with Israel.

    Snip.

    It gained a respite with the election of Mohammed Morsi in Egypt in 2012. But like Morsi, it over-reached and overestimated its military chances against Israel. It must have gained hope from Turkey’s Islamist government AK party and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s strong messages of support. But the Gaza flotilla incident of 2010 seems like a high point of Turkish resolve. Hamas’ other erstwhile friends in Iran and Hezbollah; although Shi’ite extremists, seemed like they might bolster the organization. The 2006 Lebanon War, which was roundly seen as a blunder for Israel, was a by-product of Hamas’ own kidnapping of Gilad Schalit that year. But Hezbollah and Iran were drawn into the Syrian quagmire and Hamas was left alone. The overthrow of Morsi by General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in Egypt put another nail in the blockade around Gaza as Sisi sought to root out terror in Sinai. Pro-Gaza activists from the West were roughed up routinely in Egypt.

    Whereas Hamas could once propagate stories about flour or electricity shortages in Gaza, the international media and activists began to shrug their shoulders. Another perennial sewage problem? In June of 2014 Reuters noted, “sewage at the beach, piles of garbage mar Gaza’s summer.” Various alarmist UN statements, such as a 2008 claim that the “blockage [by Israel and Egypt] is putting Gaza at risk of starvation” were met with a yawn. Hamas’ Gaza policy, with its need for international attention, has been marred particularly by the mass atrocities that have been taking place throughout the Middle East. Media outlets like the BBC caught on to the fact that images from Syria are routinely passed off as being from Gaza and there is less international outrage at Israel than in previous years as the European public is inured to suffering in the region.

    This latest round of violence is indicative. Al-Jazeera cobbled together various world leaders’ reactions to the conflict. The usual suspects were there – but were markedly tepid in their criticism of Israel.

  • Indeed, with much of the region embroiled in the ongoing merged Syrian and Iraqi conflicts, both sides of the nascent Sunni/Shia civil war are too preoccupied with possible existential issues to bother with any but the most perfunctory denunciations of Israel. Sure, they’d still like to wipe Jews off the face of the earth, but they have more pressing concerns right now. And with all the other atrocities going on, the usual “Hey, look at these horrible pictures of dead children because we just happened to put our rocket launchers in their preschool” photos just don’t pack the same punch.
  • Likewise, with ISIS making mischief on their own border, Iran may be in no mood to buy Hamas another round of missiles for them to waste launching indiscriminate attacks on civilians in Israel in the mostly vain hope one might manage to kill a Jew or two. (Iron Dome seems to be working pretty well.)
  • As the War Nerd pointed out, the World Cup slaughters jihad porn in the viewer ratings derby. By launching Protective Edge during the final week of the World Cup, Israel insured that all the regions casual jihad sympathizers were too busy watching people kick a ball on TV to go through the motions of pretending they cared what happens to Palestinians.
  • All that said, I bet we go through the whole thing again another two years from now…

    LinkSwarm for July 11, 2014

    Friday, July 11th, 2014

    More news from inside the handbasket, including the dust-up in Gaza and the illegal alien surge at the border:

  • Israel hits Gaza for a third day in retaliation for yet another round of rocket attacks. Is there really anything left to say about this that hasn’t been said before? Hamas is the elected government of Gaza, they fire rockets indiscriminately against Israeli civilians and fire them from their own civilian areas to maximize civilian damage at both ends, making them legitimate military targets under international law.
  • And speaking of rockets, Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system racks up a 90% success rate. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ, who adds “Suck It 1980s Lefties”.)
  • And Hamas might be receiving taxpayer money.
  • Also speaking of rockets, in Iraq ISIS seizes control of one of Saddam’s chemical weapons sites, filled with rockets full of nerve gas agents. You know, the ones liberals swore didn’t exist in 2004…
  • Food inflation costs overwhlem wage growth.
  • Get ready for the next round of ObamaCare rate shock.
  • Scabies outbreak at the border. Well, that’s just lovely. Thanks, Obama!
  • Even Democrats think Obama should visit the border.
  • Are veterans being turned away from appointments because treating illegal aliens takes precedence? Caveat: Twitter is not a source.
  • But the Obama Administration seems to be going to great lengths to prevent lawmakers from inspecting illegal alien holding facilities.
  • “We can medically treat non-citizens in a few days, maybe even hours, but not our own veterans.”
  • Planes full of illegal aliens landing in El Paso.
  • They’re even trying to house illegal aliens in Virginia.
  • The scale of the problem:

  • Important reminder: Not all Hispanic immigrants are in favor of unlimited illegal aliens coming to the country.
  • Greg Abbott criticizes Obama. “Whether it’s on the broken VA system, or our porous border, he is all talk and no action. He’s all hat and no cattle.”
  • Airlines reduce flights to Venezuela due to cash trapped in the country by currency controls. How’s that socialism working out for ya?
  • Hillary Clinton and Adultery. Then again, maybe Hillary is one of Ashley Madison’s fake profiles.
  • Hillary’s book drops off the Amazon 100 list. Evidently there are tens of millions of Democrats who found that not buying Hard Choices was, in fact, an easy choice…
  • Public employees union AFSCME severs ties with the United negro College Fund because they took money from the Koch brothers. So it’s more important to display their hate than to help black people go to college…
  • 50 colleges now charge more than $60,000 a year to attend, and Harvard, Yale and MIT are not among them. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Evidently former Merrill Lynch chairman Stan O’Neal wants this to disappear.
  • LinkSwarm for June 27, 2014

    Friday, June 27th, 2014

    A small LinkSwarm for a busy Friday:

  • Evidently Obama wants $500 million to arm the Syrian rebels that we’re supposedly trying to fight in Iraq. Oh, the article says he wants to arm “moderate” rebels. Has anyone seen these moderate rebels? Who are they? Kurds? Oppressed Christians? The problem isn’t that they don’t exist, the problem is that the actual moderates seem to have forces too small to affect the outcome of the fight, and I don’t trust this administration on, well, anything, but especially on their ability to discern the difference between “moderate” rebels and radical Islamic militias from 6,000 miles away….
  • Welcome to the ObamaCare Death Spiral.
  • The War Nerd suggests that Putin is mucking around in eastern Ukraine less to take it outright than to keep it at a simmer so he gets to keep the Crimea without a fight. Also include this epic quote: “Tom Friedman, the Michael Jordan of wrong.”
  • Obama gets unanimous beatdown from the Supreme Court. For the 13th time.
  • Even liberals are turned off by Hillary’s poor, poor pitiful me act.

  • As Hillary Clinton gears up for a Presidential run in 2016, ABC decides to make one of Bill Clinton’s chief aides a network anchor. Lovely.
  • Hillary’s book sells more than 100,000 copies, but woefully short of what it would need to earn back it’s whopping $14 million advance…
  • Did Obama Fail Black America?” Obviously the question mark is unnecessary, as the only question is whether that headline is one or two words too long.

  • Feminism: The Tiny Elite: “You don’t have to look far to realize that victimhood is the flavor of the moment in America. Deeming oneself a victim delivers an afforded reverence, especially if said victimhood is biologically based.” Today feminism is “a group working largely for the interests of elite white women.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • How the media discriminates against stories than indict big government.
  • Phil Collins donates his extensive collection of Alamo relics to the state. In fact, Collins is donating not only his existing collection, but stuff he continues to acquire. Three cheers for him.
  • Much like obeying the law, word problems are not Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings’ strong suit.
  • Texas man told to remove American flag from his balcony because it was “a threat to Muslims.” Get a rope…
  • Far-left cartoonist Ted Rall gets the axe. I’m not sure there’s a violin tiny enough…
  • Finally, you too can own the screenplay to Manos: The Hands of Fate.
  • I hope to have a longer post of the kangaroo court trying Michael Quinn Sullivan next week…

    Protestors March Against UK’s Non-Existent Austerity

    Saturday, June 21st, 2014

    I see that #NoMoreAusterity is trending on Twitter this morning. It seems the usual leftist protest sorts are rallying against the Cameron government’s “austerity.”

    The only problem is it doesn’t exist.

    Real austerity is cutting government spending until it matches receipts. Under David Cameron, deficit spending has merely gone from 11.4% of GDP in 2010 to a projected 5.8% in 2014. So the UK government hasn’t practiced austerity, it’s merely slowed the rate at which it’s digging its own grave.

    For the protestors, this simply will not do. They want government to give them things, and if it means having the moribund economies of Greece and Spain, so be it.

    But unlike Greece and Spain, the UK won’t be able to get Germany to bail them out, nor to hold down the hyperinflation that is the inevitable endpoint of excess deficit spending.

    LinkSwarm for June 18, 2014

    Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

    There’s so much news going on in the world that it’s hard to sit down and focus on one story to get a single blog post out of it when there’s another huge story coming down the pike. Iraq, Ukraine, the VA Scandal, the dog eating Lois Lerner’s emails (“Barack Obama has brought us Jimmy Carter’s economy and Richard Nixon’s excuses”); too damn much going on to focus on one thing. So here’s a LinkSwarm instead:

  • Barack Obama is not interested in war, but war is interested in Obama.
  • Obama golfs while the world burns. “Oh Lord, I was born a golfing man!/I get in a round whenever I can…”
  • Obama Administration admits that ObamaCare will cost people more for health care, even with the subsidies.
  • Russia cuts off natural gas supplies to Ukraine.
  • Russian tanks appear in eastern Ukraine.
  • Russia’s top anti-corruption cop decides to take up flying.
  • One reason the IRS went after the Tea Party: Chuck Schumer asked them to.
  • “The Obama administration has reached levels of hitherto unknown incompetence.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • A majority of Americans do not believe that Obama is trustworthy. You don’t say.
  • Another day, another 48 people dead at the hands of Jihadists in Kenya. There are days when 48 people killed at a hotel would top the news…
  • The Obama Administration also released 12 Jihadists in Afghanistan.
  • Won’t someone please think about poor, impoverished Hillary Clinton?
  • The Obama Administration’s intentionally lax border control enforcement is letting letting Mexican gang members waltz into the country.
  • “Thousands of young, poor would-be immigrants—90,000 this year alone—have swarmed across the border, the logical fruition of the entire cynical approach of the Obama administration toward illegal immigration.”
  • Bill Gates wants to propagandize you into accepting illegal alien amnesty. Actually, what Gates and his high tech baron compatriots really want is more H1-B visas, but since that doesn’t help the Democratic Party as much as illegal alien amnesty, it gets rolled into the giant “comprehensive immigration reform” ball.
  • Should Obama have erased the IRS emails Nixon have erased the tapes?
  • Turning point in the Brat campaign: crashing a staged event to prove Cantor was lying about amnesty.
  • “Prostitutes more than double their earnings by moonlighting as currency traders” in Venezuela.
  • Argentina runs out of rope.
  • European cab drivers protest Uber by halting traffic. Result? Uber sees 850% increase in signups.
  • I’m going to boil this down to the essentials: Never open an account with a Georgia bank.
  • But maybe they need to seize your money to pay for all that food stamp fraud.
  • Does anyone really think West Virginia Democratic Senate candidate Natalie Tennant is any more “pro-coal” or “pro-gun” than Bart Stupak was “pro-life”?
  • Another year, another lefty writer caught plagiarizing the work of others. And not just any lefty writer, but a Pulitzer Prize winner to boot…
  • Chelsea Clinton got paid $600,000 by MSNBC. That worked out to $26,724 for each minute she was on the air. In other news, your betters in the overclass really don’t care what you think of the financial compensation one member of the class gives to another…
  • Millions in “urban redevelopment” money in Democratic-controlled Philadelphia ends up in certain people’s pockets with almost nothing to show for it. Try to contain your shock. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • South Carolina university professors: “How dare you make us teach the Constitution?”
  • Violence and subway strike in advance of Brazil’s World Cup.
  • New guidelines for ignoring due process in accusations of college campus sexual assault = Lawsuitapalooza!
  • Erick Erickson calls out Ted Cruz for not endorsing more conservatives.
  • Dwight does some gun geeking for you Smith & Wesson fans.
  • Dear anyone who’s ever self-published their own book: you’re a fascist Ayn Rand supporter, using your evil individualism to bypass the holy gatekeepers of traditional publishing.
  • And if you think that’s the stupidest left-wing essay you’ll read today, think again.
  • There was enough voter fraud in a Weslaco City Commissioner Race for the judge to order a new election. “Some of the disallowed ballots were cast by voters claiming Rivera’s childhood home as their address.” Note: Weslaco is down in the valley right next to Donna, Texas, which had its own voting scandal.
  • Doggies! (Patriotic doggies, no less.) (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • “This harlot-sized ensemble will make you the envy of your trampish posse on your fraudulent wedding day.”
  • More on ISIS

    Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

    For those who haven’t been following every twist and turn of the Syrian Civil War, the sudden rise of Islamic State of Syria and Iraq probably came as quite a shock. Yesterday you’d never heard of them, and today they’re capturing Mosul and Tikrit and advancing on Baghdad. No terrorist or guerrilla force grows that quickly without some sort of major financial backing. My suspicion that they were bankrolled by the Saudis and some of the other Sunni oil sheikdoms appears to have been more or less accurate.

    Over at The Daily Beast, Josh Rogin says that wealthy donors in Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia are funding ISIS.

    Under significant U.S. pressure, the Arab Gulf governments have belatedly been cracking down on funding to Sunni extremist groups, but Gulf regimes are also under domestic pressure to fight in what many Sunnis see as an unavoidable Shiite-Sunni regional war that is only getting worse by the day.

    “ISIS is part of the Sunni forces that are fighting Shia forces in this regional sectarian conflict. They are in an existential battle with both the (Iranian aligned) Maliki government and the Assad regime.”

    And therein lies the rub. The Syrian Civil War had already undertaken the character of a Sunni/Shia conflict that was drawing in Iran and Lebanon (and, by financial proxy, Saudi Arabia); their swift success in Iraq widens the scope of the war, but not the essential nature. Sunnis and Shiias have hardly needed an excuse to slaughter each other at the drop of a hat; indeed, the far more difficult task has always been to keep them from slaughtering each other.

    For what it’s worth, the exceptionally cynical and always-entertaining War Nerd says that ISIS has already peaked:

    This is one of those dramatic military reverses that mean a lot less than meets the eye. The “Iraqi Army” routed by ISIS wasn’t really a national army, and ISIS isn’t really a dominant military force. It was able to occupy those cities because they were vacuums, abandoned by a weak, sectarian force. Moving into vacuums like this is what ISIS is good at. And that’s the only thing ISIS is good at.

    ISIS is a sectarian Sunni militia—that’s all. A big one, as militias go, with something like 10,000 fighters. Most of them are Iraqi, a few are Syrian, and a few hundred are those famous “European jihadis” who draw press attention out of all relation to their negligible combat value. The real strength of ISIS comes from its Chechen fighters, up to a thousand of them. A thousand Chechens is a serious force, and a terrifying one if they’re bearing down on your neighborhood. Chechens are the scariest fighters, pound-for-pound, in the world.

    But we’re still talking about a conventional military force smaller than a division. That’s a real but very limited amount of combat power. What this means is that, no matter how many scare headlines you read, ISIS will never take Baghdad, let alone Shia cities to the south like Karbala. It won’t be able to dent the Kurds’ territory to the north, either. All it can do—all it has been doing, by moving into Sunni cities like Mosul and Tikrit—is to complete the partition of Iraq begun by our dear ex-president Bush in 2003.

    Also this: “Insurgent groups go through leaders like Spinal Tap went through drummers.”

    This analysis of the situation strikes me as just cynical enough to possibly be true, especially given his thoughts on our non-friends the Saudis. But the fact that ISIS probably won’t be able to take Baghdad doesn’t mean they won’t try. And there’s no reason the Sunni/Shia civil war can’t widen and drag even more countries into it.

    Which is not to argue that we should be intervening at this point. Indeed, someone who was especially cynical might suggest that years of Sunnis and Shias killing each other might be just the thing to distract them from killing us…

    Dispatches From the Fall of Iraq

    Monday, June 16th, 2014

    There’s enough (bad) news coming out of Iraq to do a roundup of links on it, so let’s get to it:

  • Yeah, Iraq is pretty much screwed.
  • ISIS begins wholesale slaughter of Shias, government troops, Christians, and pretty much anyone else who’s standing around.
  • But what’s a little genocide when there’s important golfing to be done?
  • Tal Afir falls to ISIS.
  • And they’re getting close to Baghdad:

  • Hey, remember when Obama declared that “the war in Iraq is over”? (Hat tip: Powerline.)
  • Iraqis seem to have cut Internet service to the American embassy in Baghdad. Well, it’s a good thing the Obama Administration has such a sterling record of embassy security…
  • At least they sent an additional 100 marines.
  • Now would be a good time to listen to “Evacuation” from Mike Oldfield’s superb soundtrack to The Killing Fields, which played over the evacuation of the U.S. embassy in Phnom Penh…
  • I would says its surprising that Iraq’s own Parliament couldn’t be arsed to get together a quorum for an emergency session, but they were probably getting out of the country as fast as possible. After all, it’s hard to enjoy the fruits of your graft after you’ve been beheaded…
  • Not exactly psychic: Back in January, The Economist published this piece talking about how ISIS’s brutality was engendering a “backlash” against it that would make it easier to contain. Yeah, not so much.
  • But hey, the situation in Iraq is so farked up Obama actually used the word “Jihadists”! Progress…
  • Related:

  • Also, thanks to Obama’s transcendent powers of suck, Libya is now actually worse than it was under Gaddafi.
  • In closing:

  • Iraq: It’s All George W. Bush’s Fault

    Thursday, June 12th, 2014

    (Note: This headline is only slightly factitious.)

    The problem with George W. Bush’s Middle East policy is that there’s no political gain there, no matter how great the price or resounding the achievement, that Obama can’t throw away through his manifestly gross incompetence. Al Qaeda in Iraq’s successor organization, the Sunni Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) “consolidated and extended their control over northern Iraq on Wednesday, seizing Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam Hussein, threatening the strategic oil refining town of Baiji and pushing south toward Baghdad, their ultimate target.”

    That’s the same ISIS that captured Mosul, where they seized $429 million worth of Iraqi dinars from the local bank, making them the richest terrorist army in the world.

    Remember when Obama declared that “al Qaeda is on the run”?

    And remember when Obama pulled out of Iraq and walked away without a status of forces agreement there?

    Now two battalions of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds forces have deployed to Iraq, ostensibly to support Maliki’s Shiite government. So now, in theory, we’re allied with the Mullahs in Iran in Iraq against the Isalmists we’re supporting in Syria against the Iran-aligned government of Bashar Assad.

    About the only good news out of the region is that the Kurds are holding their own. An independent Kurdistan would be far from the worst development in the region, and would probably freak out both Iran and Turkey enough to distract them from further mischief elsewhere.

    The current situation highlights the age-old truth that the Middle East is filled with people whose deepest desire appears to be to kill and gain power over members of rival clans/tribes/factions/confessions/etc. This has been true for pretty much all of recorded history save when a strong power (Ottoman, British, Baathist) is able to keep those tendencies in check through heavy policing, military occupation, or a brutal security state apparatus. The presence of our troops there gives the natives a distraction and a target, allowing them to temporarily stop killing each other in preference to killing us. The exceptions to this rule, such as multicultural Lebanon circa 1946-1974, have proven frustratingly ephemeral.

    Israel provided a temporary target of unifying hatred, but the Jewish state’s defensive measures have made it increasingly difficult to get close enough to any Jews to kill them, hence back to the old internecine pursuits.

    Bush43′s foreign policy in the Middle East and the decision to invade Iraq stems, in large measure, from Bush41′s decision not to let Schwartzkopf take Baghdad in The Gulf War. Whether doing so would have brought all on all our Iraqi troubles two decades earlier is debatable. There is much to say for toppling a totalitarian thug like Saddam, not least of which was liberating the children’s prison, where children as young as 5 were tortured to make their mothers talk. Perhaps the ideal strategy would have been to depose and execute Saddam and his top regime supporters in 1991, then immediately leave and let Iraqi factions kill each other rather than our troops. But I doubt anyone put forward that idea as a serious suggestion at the time.

    Bush43 ultimately succeeded in largely pacifying Iraq, but the cost was high and, as recent events proved, the gains were temporary. The problem with interventionist policy in the Middle East is that there is no gain safe from the feckless impulses of surrender and appeasement that dominate the Democratic Party’s thinking today. The Scoop Jackson wing of the Democratic Party is dead, and Obama and Kerry perfectly embody the combination of naivete, hubris, multilateralist, and hostility to the military that dominates today. They love signing treaties and “the peace process,” even though it’s all process and no peace.

    It turns out that Ron Paul may be right for the wrong reasons. Because no foreign policy gain in the Middle East is safe from Democratic incompetence, Republicans should not pursue any interventionist foreign policy there, especially in the name of impossible “stability”. No interventionist accomplishment there can endure long past the end of a Republican President’s term, because there is no gain safe from the likes of Kerry and Obama. And since there is no indication the nature of the Democratic Party will be changing any time soon, a military interventionist foreign policy there, no matter how well-intentioned, well-planned, and well-executed, must be doomed to ultimate failure.

    In hindsight, the liberation of Iraq turns out to be a tragic mistake, because Bush underestimated how decisively his hard-won gains could be undone by the incompetence of his successor.