Category Archive 'Foreign Policy'
06 May 2023
June 2, 2021
Victor Davis Hanson:
The old cultural imperialism was supposedly greedy corporatism like Disneyland, McDonald’s, and Starbucks sprouting up worldwide to supplant local competitors.
But these businesses spread because they appealed to free-will consumer demand abroad. They were not imposed top down.
The U.S. presence in Afghanistan collapsed in August 2021 amid the greatest American military humiliation in modern history. A billion-dollar new embassy was abandoned. Hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of new infrastructure at the huge Bagram Airbase was dumped.
We still do not know how many billions of dollars of sophisticated new weapons were left to the Taliban and now are making their way through global terrorists’ marts.
Yet, in our skedaddle, the LGBTQ flag still flew high from our new Kabul embassy. A George Floyd mural was prominent on city streets.
And gender studies programs — to the tune of $787 million in American subsidies — were showcased at Kabul University, in one of the most conservative Islamic countries in the world.
Rainbow flags and Black Lives Matter banners have hung from our embassy in South Korea.
Such partisan cultural activism is a diplomatic first.
The woke left has now weaponized the country’s diplomatic missions abroad to advance highly partisan and controversial agendas that can offend their hosts, and do not represent the majority of American voters at home.
American foreign policy toward other nations seems now to hinge on their positions on transgender people, LGBTQ promotion, abortion, climate change, and an array of woke issues from using multiple pronouns on passports to showcasing transgender ambassadors.
The Biden Administration in January 2022 stopped the EastMed pipeline. That joint effort of our allies Cyprus, Greece, and Israel sought to bring much needed clean-burning Mediterranean natural gas to southern Europe.
Apparently, our diplomats felt it violated our own New Green Deal orthodoxies. So we imperialists interfered to destroy a vital project of our closest allies.
The White House manifesto called the “National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality” offers a blueprint for how to massage nations abroad to accept our values that are increasingly at odds with much of the world’s.
Do Americans really believe that embracing drag-queen shows at military bases, abortion to the moment of birth, transgender men competing in women’s sports, and the promised effort to ban the internal combustion engine are effective ways to ensure good relations with the United States?
No wonder the Biden Administration’s new cultural imperialism is proving disastrous for a variety of reasons.
One, these imperialistic and chauvinistic agendas are pushed abroad at the very time the respect for the U.S. military is at an all-time low. It was humiliated in Afghanistan. It is now unable to recruit sufficient qualified soldiers. Its stocks of critical weapons are depleted.
The Pentagon leadership of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley, along with Joe Biden, do not radiate competence.
But they do exude woke pieties.
While we offend Middle East oil exporters and Central Europeans, China allies with Russia and Iran. India and Turkey triangulate away from the United States. Sanctimonious hectoring while appearing weak is a bad combination.
Two, these warped standards are incoherent. Is an abortion-on-demand, totalitarian China therefore an ally? How could we damn supposedly non-woke Saudi Arabia as we begged it to pump more of its non-green oil before the 2022 midterms?
19 May 2020
Chinese Navy amphibious transport ship Changbai Shan (989) leaving the Port of Rotterdam.
Brian Stewart argues in favor of Cold War now in order to avoid Hot War later.
The fatal mistake of yesterday was to believe (or at least to pretend) that Chinaâ€™s rise could be safely accommodated without exposing the liberal order to immense risk. The fatal mistake of today, it would appear, is to imagine that America can prevail without a vigorous strategy and capable allies over such a dynamic and formidable revisionist power. The last time liberal civilization faced such a determined adversary it was the Soviet Union. It is common to regard the peaceful end of the Cold War as inevitable, but in truth its outcome was shaped by a series of decisions and policies that were by no means predetermined. Many of the global institutions of the liberal order played their part in the struggle against various forms of communist totalitarianism, but it was the strategic foresight of Washington and the global deployment of American power that made the difference.
Despite the profound differences with Soviet communism, the challenge posed by the authoritarian ideology of the Peopleâ€™s Republic of China is redolent of the long twilight struggle that marked the second half of the 20th century. Nonetheless, prominent voices today allege that a cold war with China would be â€œunnecessaryâ€ and â€œdestructive.â€ But compared to what? The prospect of a shooting war, or even intense competition, is invoked to incapacitate prudent measures to contain Chinese power and deter Chinese aggression. For those who believe in liberal ideals and principles, it is the prospect of Chinese hegemony under the writ of the CCP that presents a more truly unnecessary and destructive scenario.
In the years ahead, the potential for armed conflict between the United States and the Peopleâ€™s Republic is by no means trivial. But as the first cold war largely demonstrated, great power conflict is not inevitable. Beyond capitulation to the CCPâ€™s strategic imperativesâ€”allowing Beijing to quash the freedom of Hong Kong, annex Taiwan, and bully other free peoples into submissionâ€”the surest way to avoid war is by adopting a robust strategy to counter Chinaâ€™s expansionism. This would entail acting in concert with like-minded nations to divest and decouple from Chinaâ€™s economy while deploying and, if necessary, wielding military force to establish what Dean Acheson once referred to as â€œsituations of strengthâ€ in the Far East.
Such a strategy would be premised on observing a distinction once made by Michael Ignatieffâ€”that adversaries whose designs â€œyou want to defeatâ€ are not necessarily enemies whose existence â€œyou have to destroy.â€ It can no longer be credibly denied that China is an adversary of the United States. If it is not treated accordingly, it may prove impossible to prevent it from becoming a full-fledged enemy.
I think his postion is inarguable. The Free World Democracies cannot keep enriching China as a trading partner if China remains determined upon combining domestic tyranny and brutality with adversarial foreign aggression.
20 Apr 2020
H.R. McMaster warns, in the Atlantic, that China’s leaders are not friendly and have no intention of playing fair.
On November 8, 2017, Air Force One touched down in Beijing, marking the start of a state visit hosted by Chinaâ€™s president and Communist Party chairman, Xi Jinping. From my first day on the job as President Donald Trumpâ€™s national security adviser, China had been a top priority. …
Our last meeting of the state visit, in the Great Hall of the People, was with Li Keqiang, the premier of the State Council and the titular head of Chinaâ€™s government. If anyone in the American group had any doubts about Chinaâ€™s view of its relationship with the United States, Liâ€™s monologue would have removed them. He began with the observation that China, having already developed its industrial and technological base, no longer needed the United States. He dismissed U.S. concerns over unfair trade and economic practices, indicating that the U.S. role in the future global economy would merely be to provide China with raw materials, agricultural products, and energy to fuel its production of the worldâ€™s cutting-edge industrial and consumer products.
Leaving China, I was even more convinced than I had been before that a dramatic shift in U.S. policy was overdue. The Forbidden City was supposed to convey confidence in Chinaâ€™s national rejuvenation and its return to the world stage as the proud Middle Kingdom. But for me it exposed the fears as well as the ambitions that drive the Chinese Communist Partyâ€™s efforts to extend Chinaâ€™s influence along its frontiers and beyond, and to regain the honor lost during the century of humiliation. The fears and ambitions are inseparable. They explain why the Chinese Communist Party is obsessed with controlâ€”both internally and externally.
The partyâ€™s leaders believe they have a narrow window of strategic opportunity to strengthen their rule and revise the international order in their favorâ€”before Chinaâ€™s economy sours, before the population grows old, before other countries realize that the party is pursuing national rejuvenation at their expense, and before unanticipated events such as the coronavirus pandemic expose the vulnerabilities the party created in the race to surpass the United States and realize the China dream. The party has no intention of playing by the rules associated with international law, trade, or commerce. Chinaâ€™s overall strategy relies on co-option and coercion at home and abroad, as well as on concealing the nature of Chinaâ€™s true intentions. What makes this strategy potent and dangerous is the integrated nature of the partyâ€™s efforts across government, industry, academia, and the military.
And, on balance, the Chinese Communist Partyâ€™s goals run counter to American ideals and American interests.
09 May 2018
That’s Narges Bajoghli on the right.
This Foreign Policy editorial, written by Narges Bajoghli, an Iranian film-maker, obviously hostile to the United States and proud of the seizure of the US Embassy and the taking of US diplomats as hostages, currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Watson Institute at Brown University, was actually reprinted by Business Insider.
Can you imagine an editorial denouncing the administration’s foreign policy adverse to Japan being editorialized against by some Japanese naval officer doing post-graduate work at Harvard in 1939, titled: “The Empire of the Rising Sun Will Never Trust America Again,” appearing in both Foreign Policy and Business Advisor?
We were naive to think the United States would keep its promises in a deal with us,â€ Hasan, a retired captain in Iranâ€™s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war â€” now a prominent film director â€” said last week from his office in a major regime production studio in central Tehran. â€œI thought enough time had passed since the revolution that we could potentially engage with America again,â€ he continued, before he let out a resigned sigh. …
Ghassem was one of the leading filmmakers for state television in the country. He had made numerous documentaries that investigated the role of the Reagan administration in supplying weapons to Iraqâ€™s Saddam Hussein in his fight against the newly established Iranian government. …
â€œIâ€™m embarrassed to say I didnâ€™t foresee this coming,â€ Hasan told me this past weekend. â€œGhassem was right, we shouldnâ€™t have trusted the Americans.â€
When I spoke with Ghassem, he did not boast that he had predicted the ill-fated trajectory of the deal. He wasnâ€™t against Iran having good relations with any Western country, he had repeatedly told me during those debates in 2014. But he just did not think the United States would ever want anything but full capitulation from the Islamic Republic.
â€œWhat my friends didnâ€™t see when they were rooting for the Iran deal,â€ he recently told me solemnly, â€œwas that thereâ€™s a segment of the American political establishment that can never forgive us for kicking the United States out of Iran during the revolution in 1979. I mean, the United States was the shahâ€™s biggest ally, and then we came to power and told them they couldnâ€™t dictate how we governed anymore. And once we took their embassy and held their people hostage in 1980, that was a slap in their face. They can never forgive us for that. They want to see us broken at our knees, in complete surrender.â€
â€œIt doesnâ€™t matter if there are people in both of our countries who want to turn a new page,â€ he continued. â€œThe Obamas and Rouhanis of our countries are just one segment of the political establishment.â€
Well, Narges, let me just advise you, that when a lame duck president ignores the US Constitution and makes an end-run around the Senate by making a treaty in the form of an executive order, hostile foreign adversaries of America ought to be aware that the next president may be of a different party and of a different mind and will be perfectly entitled to reverse his predecessor’s decision.
And, yes, personally, I do want to see the mullahs on their knees, in complete surrender, and you out of the United States.
22 Jul 2016
Woodbridge Hall, home of the evil Yale Administration.
Pericles Lewis, currently the founding president of Yale-NUS College, will assume the combined role of vice president for global strategy and deputy provost for international affairs in the fall of 2017, President Peter Salovey and Provost Ben Polak announced.
Lewis will take up the new position at the conclusion of his five-year term in his current post.
This key post within the University Cabinet has been vacant since Linda Lorimerâ€™s retirement in the spring of last year. Lewisâ€™ appointment â€œwill provide renewed and unified focus to a vitally important area of the university,â€ Salovey and Polak said in letter to Yale faculty and staff announcing the appointment.
Read the whole thing.
Founded as a Collegiate School in 1701 for the training of ministers for the Congregational Church in the Colony of Connecticut, Yale has come a long way.
We all know that, over time, Yale’s mission evolved into the molding and education of members of the national leadership class, but the question is: When exactly, and how, did Yale acquire a Global Mission and its own Foreign Policy?
If Yale already has a foreign policy of its own, isn’t it perhaps time that Yale begins building its own Navy and training officers to command the Yale Army? How about some Yale colonies to start off the construction of the Yale Empire? …
01 May 2016
Claire Berlinski contemplates Donald Trump’s recent Foreign Policy speech and finds that he is really preaching the same doctrine of American withdrawal from world leadership and decline that Barack Obama was.
Trumpâ€™s speech made him seem to me Obamaâ€™s natural successor, and made me decide that neither are the aberrations I thought they were. Both reflect an external reality: the relative loss of American power. Both envision a limited role for America in the world. Trumpâ€™s wrapping Obamaâ€™s view of the world in the American flag, and making it palatable to people who werenâ€™t willing to hear it from Obama, but itâ€™s the same message. Weâ€™re no longer able to be a benevolent global hegemon. Indeed, we never were a benevolent hegemon. The world will be fine, and so will we, without our efforts to lead it. If weâ€™re an exceptional country at all, our destiny is to lead by example, not force. â€œAmerica Firstâ€ is not an accidental slogan. Trump certainly knows where it comes from, and I suspect most Americans at least intuit it.
Trump in many ways echoes the themes of Obamaâ€™s first presidential campaign:
We tore up what institutions they had and then were surprised at what we unleashed. Civil war, religious fanaticism, thousands of Americans and just killed be lives, lives, lives wasted. Horribly wasted. Many trillions of dollars were lost as a result. The vacuum was created that ISIS would fill. Iran, too, would rush in and fill that void much to their really unjust enrichment.
They have benefited so much, so sadly, for us. Our foreign policy is a complete and total disaster.
Hereâ€™s Obama in 2008:
â€¦ we have lost thousands of American lives, spent nearly a trillion dollars, alienated allies and neglected emerging threats â€“ all in the cause of fighting a war for well over five years in a country that had absolutely nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.
And with just a few changes in tone,
I am running for President because itâ€™s time to turn the page on a failed ideology and a fundamentally flawed political strategy, so that we can be intelligent about keeping our country safe. I stood up and opposed the Iraq war from the start, and said that we needed to fight al Qaeda.
Hillary Clinton says sheâ€™s passed a â€œCommander in Chief testâ€ â€“ not because of the decisions sheâ€™s made, but because of all the years sheâ€™s spent in Washington. But here is the truth, folks, believe me: there is a gap in this country â€“ a gap between people who claim to be tough on national security, and how unsafe we are because of their stupid, disastrous decisions. Our foreign policy is a complete and total disaster.
The war in Iraq enriched Iran, continuing its nuclear program and threatening our ally, Israel. Instead of the new Middle East we were promised, we got nothing. The war in Iraq has enriched North Korea, which built new nuclear weapons and even tested one.
The above passage is Obama in 2008, with a few words changed so that the voice sounds more like Trumpâ€™s, although the meaning is intact.
A world â€” including me â€” thatâ€™s been looking at Obama for eight years and wondering if the American century is over is now watching the Trump campaign and realizing that itâ€™s long since past. Come 2016, Trump or Hillary Clinton will be in the White House. Clinton is explicitly running on â€œmore of Obamaâ€™s foreign policy.â€ Trump is implicitly running on the same promise, and proposing to get there at warp speed.
29 Apr 2016
Robert Zubrin, at Ricochet, talks Foreign Policy (and Ethics) with the great man.
[D]id you hear the latest news? North Korea now says it has nuclear missiles that could hit the United States. What should we do about it?â€
Trump shrugged. â€œJust let me handle things.â€
This took me aback. â€œWhat? How?â€
The billionaire looked me in the eyes and pointed his finger at my nose. â€œListen, kid. Success in life is about knowing people. If you want to be the top guy, you got to know the top people. I know the top guy over there. So everybody should just stop acting like a bunch of [expletive, plural] and relax. I got it covered.â€
Now I was really amazed. â€œYou know the top guy in North Korea?â€ I stammered. â€œYou know Kim Jong-un?â€
â€œYeah, sure, I know Kim.â€ Trump smiled. â€œI built him a grand casino and strip joint in Pyongyang. Heâ€™s a swell guy, top drawer. Whenever we had a problem, heâ€™d take care of it, so quick, you wouldnâ€™t believe it. A bunch of squatters wouldnâ€™t get out of their lousy little shacks so we could build a parking lot; bang, squash, pave, and in 24 hours flat, youâ€™ve got the most beautiful parking lot you ever saw. When Iâ€™m President, thatâ€™s how we are going to do things here. No more of this go-to-court crap.â€
I hadnâ€™t realized that there was a Trump grand casino and strip club in Pyongyang, and wanted to know more. â€œWhatâ€™s the casino like?â€
â€œItâ€™s wonderful, itâ€™s magnificent, itâ€™s yuge!â€ said Trump, spreading his arms expansively.â€œThe carpets are all panda skins, the furniture is all made of ivory, the walls are solid gold, the dining room silverware is platinum, and the glasses are made from diamonds, freshly dug from the most exclusive mines in Africa. The menu is unmatched: Crimean caviar, Bolivian cocaine, Siberian tiger hearts, Pacific bottlenose dolphin liver pate, elephant balls. And the broads they got, wow. Top of the line, kid, top of the line. Not just a bunch of cute little oriental chicks like you might find in a lot of places out there, but top drawer Russian blonde bombshells chosen for us by Putin himself. And, let me tell you, my friend, Vlad really knows how to choose them.â€
I nodded. â€œYes, you mentioned in one of the debates that you and Putin are good friends.â€
â€œSure,â€ said Trump, smiling wickedly. â€œIf you are looking for a good time in Moscow, heâ€™s definitely the man to see.â€
â€œYet,â€ I said, â€œPutin is also the guy whose bombs are stampeding our way all those Muslim refugees that you are making such a fuss about. Doesnâ€™t that bother you?â€
Trump did a double take, looked at me like I had just revealed myself to be a born-yesterday idiot, then grinned knowingly. â€œYouâ€™re kidding, right? Anyway, heâ€™s got this Olympic gymnast himself, and man, she is hot. The things she can do, you wouldnâ€™t believe it. In all my travels, I have never known anyone like her.â€
The Donald closed his eyes, as if recalling a blissful memory, but my head was spinning. â€œI beg your pardon. Are you sayingâ€¦?â€
Trump opened his eyes and held up his hand like a policeman telling a car to stop. â€œSorry, I misspoke,â€ he said. â€œI didnâ€™t mean to insult anyone. I should not have said I have never known anyone like her. I should have said â€˜rarely.â€™ Not â€˜never,â€™ but â€˜rarely.â€™ There was also this nice piece of work who was married to the French president for a while, and maybe several others, whose names escape me at the moment. I love women, you know, and Iâ€™m really looking forward to meeting more of the worldâ€™s top broads once Iâ€™m President.â€ Trump suddenly looked puzzled. â€œI donâ€™t know what Iâ€™m going to do with Merkel, though. I mean really, you call that a face? What do the krauts see in her? I just donâ€™t get it.â€ He shook his head.
I decided to change the subject. â€œReturning to your friendship with Kimâ€¦â€
â€œYes, great guy,â€ Trump nodded appreciatively. â€œI love his hairstyle. We use the same hairdresser, you know.â€ He playfully fluffed his hair up with his right hand.
â€œI see,â€ said I. â€œBut arenâ€™t you at all concerned about his ethics?â€
Trump frowned. â€œEthics? Whatâ€™s that?â€ Again he turned to me closely and pointed his finger in my face for emphasis. â€œListen kid, in this world, thereâ€™s no such thing as right and wrong; there is just winning and losing. Kimâ€™s a winner. I like that. Heâ€™s a real boss who knows what he is doing. You donâ€™t see any North Korean companies leaving to set up their factories in Mexico, do you?â€
Read the whole thing.
21 Dec 2015
The erudite Paul Rahe’s mind boggled when he read, in the September issue of American Conservative, a piece by Alfred W. McCoy, titled “The Quiet Grand Strategy of Barack Obama.” According to Mr. McCoy, the current president is a patriot and a far-seeing statesman:
In ways that have eluded Washington pundits and policymakers, President Barack Obama is deploying a subtle geopolitical strategy that, if successful, might give Washington a fighting chance to extend its global hegemony deep into the 21st century. After six years of silent, sometimes secret preparations, the Obama White House has recently unveiled some bold diplomatic initiatives whose sum is nothing less than a tri-continental strategy to check Beijingâ€™s rise. As these moves unfold, Obama is revealing himself as one of those rare grandmasters who appear every generation or two with an ability to go beyond mere foreign policy and play that ruthless global game called geopolitics. …
But letâ€™s give credit where itâ€™s due. Without proclaiming a presumptuously labeled policy such as â€œtriangulation,â€ â€œthe Nixon Doctrine,â€ or even a â€œfreedom agenda,â€ Obama has moved step-by-step to repair the damage caused by a plethora of Washington foreign policy debacles, old and new, and then maneuvered deftly to rebuild Americaâ€™s fading global influence.
So what is this ridiculous hallucinatory liberal tripe doing in a journal of supposedly conservative opinion? Commenter Douglas (sixth comment down) nails it, and nails “The (So-Called) American Conservative” good and proper.
First off, thereâ€™s often little conservative about The American Conservative. No branch or tradition of conservatism is extolled there. Itâ€™s not conservative by old Tory standards, itâ€™s not conservative by the standards of the old American Right, and itâ€™s not conservative by the standards of the modern American Right. Itâ€™s â€œconservativeâ€ by the standards of people that argue progressivism is really a form of conservatism, and that Barack Obama is the most conservative president in generations. Mainly because he dislikes Israel as much as writers at AmCon do. The only virtues of the place anymore are admonishments to mind our own business and to be distrustful of the GOP.
While Iâ€™m sympathetic to much that Pat Buchanan argues, when he created that magazine, he surrounded himself with a bunch of nonsense-peddlers. They occasionally have the excellent article, but mostly are swamped by the nonsense these days.
So, the assertion in the articleâ€¦ that Obama is some kind of uber-wise, next level grandmaster at 3D chess really isnâ€™t surprising. Itâ€™s right in keeping with the kind of stuff AmCon prints lately. The key to understanding most positions AmCon writers will take is â€œif it screws Israel, praise it, if it helps Israel, damn itâ€.
20 Apr 2015
David Samuels, in an important essay, argues that Osama bin Laden out-strategized a series of dimbulb American administrations, astutely predicting precisely how they would respond.
judging from his last known private letter, dated April 25, 2011, Bin Laden died a happy man. â€œWhat we are witnessing these days of consecutive revolutions is a great and glorious event,â€ he mused, after watching the fall of the secular, Western-backed regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, which he watched on CNN, before the daring Navy SEAL raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. â€œ[T]hanks to Allah things are strongly heading toward the exit of Muslims from being under the control of America.â€
Even at this late date, it seems difficult for American policymakers to grasp exactly how Bin Ladenâ€™s mastery of the inherently paradoxical logic of warfareâ€”a logic very different than the linear cause-and-effect style of reasoning that governs normal life and electoral politics alikeâ€”allowed a man without a country, heavy weapons, or even broadband Internet access to reshape the world to his advantage. The clarity of Bin Ladenâ€™s strategic insight, which now seems obvious, also suggests that the dynamic that he deliberately set in motion is still unfolding, in ways that he foresaw before his deathâ€”ways that continue to roil the Middle East and will continue to pose a threat to the safety of Americans at home. …
Bin Laden was never shy about explaining what he was doing and why. His public statements about his strategic logic and goals in targeting â€œthe far enemyâ€ remained remarkably consistent, from his first fatwa against America until the last letter he wrote before his death. In his 1996 â€œDeclaration of War Against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places,â€ published soon after the Khobar Towers bombings in Saudi Arabia, he explained that â€œit is essential to hit the main enemy who divided the Ummahâ€â€”the Muslim worldâ€”â€œinto small and little countries and pushed it, for the last few decades, into a state of confusion.â€
Americaâ€™s response to an attack would be to get sucked into a war, he predictedâ€”and when the going got tough, the United States would cut and run. Responding to then-U.S. Defense Sec. William Perry, who had called the Khobar bombers cowards and had sworn not to give in, Bin Laden asked, â€œWhere was this false courage of yours when the explosion in Beirut took place on 1983 AD (1403 A.H). You were turned into scattered pits and pieces at that time; 241 Marine soldiers were killed.â€ …
In public and private following the Sept. 11 attacks, he returned to the same themes, over and over again, in at least three-quarters of his public statements and in private letters to other jihadists that were seized from his compound in Abbotabad and later made public. â€œThe goal is to weaken America until it can no longer interfere in Muslims affairs,â€ he explained, in a letter whose contents were entirely typical of his communications. â€œOnce the American enemy has been defeated, our next step would be targeting the regionâ€™s leaders who had been the pillars of support for that American hegemony.â€
It is proof of Bin Ladenâ€™s mastery of the unexpected logic that animates strategic thought, and of the glaring inability of Americaâ€™s political leaders to think strategically, that not one but two American presidents have faithfully acted their roles in his geo-political script: George W. Bush, the hawk, with his open-ended and heavy-handed occupation of Iraq; and Barack Obama, the dove, with his precipitous and wholesale withdrawal of American military forces and influence from the Middle East. Both menâ€”and their many advisersâ€”should have known better.
Read the whole thing. It’s depressing reading and hard to argue with.
Hat tip to Claire Berlinski.
17 Feb 2015
ISIS armed troops
Graeme Wood has an excellent, must-read article in the Atlantic, describing clearly the religious ideology underlying ISIS, and identifying this movement as yet another outbreak of apocalyptic Mahdism.
Without a caliphate, for example, individual vigilantes are not obliged to amputate the hands of thieves they catch in the act. But create a caliphate, and this law, along with a huge body of other jurisprudence, suddenly awakens. In theory, all Muslims are obliged to immigrate to the territory where the caliph is applying these laws. …
The caliph is required to implement Sharia. Any deviation will compel those who have pledged allegiance to inform the caliph in private of his error and, in extreme cases, to excommunicate and replace him if he persists. (â€œI have been plagued with this great matter, plagued with this responsibility, and it is a heavy responsibility,â€ Baghdadi said in his sermon.) In return, the caliph commands obedienceâ€”and those who persist in supporting non-Muslim governments, after being duly warned and educated about their sin, are considered apostates.
[A sympathiser] said Sharia has been misunderstood because of its incomplete application by regimes such as Saudi Arabia, which does behead murderers and cut off thievesâ€™ hands. â€œThe problem,â€ he explained, â€œis that when places like Saudi Arabia just implement the penal code, and donâ€™t provide the social and economic justice of the Shariaâ€”the whole packageâ€”they simply engender hatred toward the Sharia.â€ That whole package, he said, would include free housing, food, and clothing for all, though of course anyone who wished to enrich himself with work could do so. …
For certain true believersâ€”the kind who long for epic good-versus-evil battlesâ€”visions of apocalyptic bloodbaths fulfill a deep psychological need. Of the Islamic State supporters I met, Musa Cerantonio, the Australian, expressed the deepest interest in the apocalypse and how the remaining days of the Islamic Stateâ€”and the worldâ€”might look. Parts of that prediction are original to him, and do not yet have the status of doctrine. But other parts are based on mainstream Sunni sources and appear all over the Islamic Stateâ€™s propaganda. These include the belief that there will be only 12 legitimate caliphs, and Baghdadi is the eighth; that the armies of Rome will mass to meet the armies of Islam in northern Syria; and that Islamâ€™s final showdown with an anti-Messiah will occur in Jerusalem after a period of renewed Islamic conquest.
The Islamic State has attached great importance to the Syrian city of Dabiq, near Aleppo. It named its propaganda magazine after the town, and celebrated madly when (at great cost) it conquered Dabiqâ€™s strategically unimportant plains. It is here, the Prophet reportedly said, that the armies of Rome will set up their camp. The armies of Islam will meet them, and Dabiq will be Romeâ€™s Waterloo or its Antietam.
â€œDabiq is basically all farmland,â€ one Islamic State supporter recently tweeted. â€œYou could imagine large battles taking place there.â€ The Islamic Stateâ€™s propagandists drool with anticipation of this event, and constantly imply that it will come soon. The stateâ€™s magazine quotes Zarqawi as saying, â€œThe spark has been lit here in Iraq, and its heat will continue to intensify â€¦ until it burns the crusader armies in Dabiq.â€ A recent propaganda video shows clips from Hollywood war movies set in medieval timesâ€”perhaps because many of the prophecies specify that the armies will be on horseback or carrying ancient weapons.
Now that it has taken Dabiq, the Islamic State awaits the arrival of an enemy army there, whose defeat will initiate the countdown to the apocalypse. …
The Prophetic narration that foretells the Dabiq battle refers to the enemy as Rome. Who â€œRomeâ€ is, now that the pope has no army, remains a matter of debate. But Cerantonio makes a case that Rome meant the Eastern Roman empire, which had its capital in what is now Istanbul. We should think of Rome as the Republic of Turkeyâ€”the same republic that ended the last self-identified caliphate, 90 years ago. Other Islamic State sources suggest that Rome might mean any infidel army, and the Americans will do nicely. …
Some observers have called for escalation, including several predictable voices from the interventionist right (Max Boot, Frederick Kagan), who have urged the deployment of tens of thousands of American soldiers. These calls should not be dismissed too quickly: an avowedly genocidal organization is on its potential victimsâ€™ front lawn, and it is committing daily atrocities in the territory it already controls.
One way to un-cast the Islamic Stateâ€™s spell over its adherents would be to overpower it militarily and occupy the parts of Syria and Iraq now under caliphate rule. Alâ€‘Qaeda is ineradicable because it can survive, cockroach-like, by going underground. The Islamic State cannot. If it loses its grip on its territory in Syria and Iraq, it will cease to be a caliphate. Caliphates cannot exist as underground movements, because territorial authority is a requirement: take away its command of territory, and all those oaths of allegiance are no longer binding. Former pledges could of course continue to attack the West and behead their enemies, as freelancers. But the propaganda value of the caliphate would disappear, and with it the supposed religious duty to immigrate and serve it. If the United States were to invade, the Islamic Stateâ€™s obsession with battle at Dabiq suggests that it might send vast resources there, as if in a conventional battle. If the state musters at Dabiq in full force, only to be routed, it might never recover.
The whole thing.
The obvious answer is for the United States to do to the contemporary “mad mullahs” the same thing Victorian Britain used to do to earlier specimens. As Hillaire Belloc noted long ago:
Whatever happens, we have got
The Maxim gun, and they have not.
Our “Maxim gun” advantage is far greater than Kitchener’s at Omdurman. The carnage on the Muslim side will be more appalling. But Islam, as Churchill noted, is to men as hydrophobia is to dogs, and outbreaks of demented Islamic fanaticism have to be put down with blood every so many decades.
03 Oct 2014
Andrew Sullivan (who has never been a US citizen, and who has escaped criminal conviction and consequent deportation only through blat), nonetheless, editorializes about Americans in the plural including himself (“We War-Loving Americans“), and makes a personal specialty of prescribing US Foreign Policy, often vigorously denouncing the decisions in that area made by mere elected presidents.
Despite Andrew’s long-demonstrated canine love for Barack Obama, Obama’s recent decision to bomb ISIS has seriously offended Andrew’s Neville-Chamberlain-esque principles, and the Chosen One is coming in for a stern scolding these days from his disappointed admirer.
One particularly penetrating observation leapt out at me. After airily asserting that defeating the Sunni Insurrection was beyond our powers, Andrew advised allowing the Middle Eastern atrocities to proceed. In his view, the successful erection of the new Caliphate would have no consequences affecting Europe or the United States, and would naturally simply diminish to the status of a “regional conflagration.” If (and when) Iran proceeded to intervene in the conflict, we should hope “both sides lose,” and perhaps “intervene from a distance” (which must mean: bomb). According to Andrew: “Our real interest is in bolstering the one stable power in the region, which is Iran.”
Now, there is foreign policy analysis at its finest. The same United States which defeated the German Army and the Japanese Navy cannot possibly defeat 10,000 sand monkey belligerents armed with AKs and driving new Toyotas. And our real interest (who knew?) lies in supporting the Shiite fanatics and long-time sponsors of terrorism in Iran who have made hatred of America and the West their regime’s very raison d’Ãªtre since the time of Jimmy Carter.
How Andrew’s most admired regime maintains its stability.
Your are browsing
the Archives of Never Yet Melted
in the 'Foreign Policy' Category.