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November 28, 2014 / 6 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘reagan’

A Republican Party that Looks Like America

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Getting an early start on primary season, Rand Paul stopped by New Hampshire and offered some sage advice for winning elections.  According to the article, “Senator Paul Rand urged New Hampshire Republicans to become more diversified.”

New Hampshire is 94.6% white, 2.9% Latino and 1.3% Black. I don’t know the exact diversity statistics for New Hampshire Republicans, but if they get a half-black and half-Latino guy in a wheelchair to run for something, they will probably have covered all the statistical bases.

“We need to grow bigger,” Rand Paul said. “If you want to be the party of white people, we’re winning all the white votes. We’re a diverse nation. We’re going to win when we look like America.”

Looking like America is common advice these days. What does America look like? For now it still looks more like New Hampshire than like California. And despite that, Democrats scored some big wins in New Hampshire in the last election.

Obama won New Hampshire 52 to 46 and it probably wasn’t the black vote that put him over the top. He picked up over 100,000 votes in Hillsborough County, which is 90 percent white. Clearly, despite Rand Paul’s optimism, Republicans aren’t winning all the white votes in New Hampshire. Or in Kentucky.

Rand Paul’s Kentucky looks a lot like New Hampshire. It’s 88.9% white. And its white Senator, who did not win all the white votes, decided to visit another white state to tell Republicans there that they needed to look more like America or California. Or someplace like that. Because the white vote was all locked down.

In his 2010 Senate election, Rand Paul won 59% of the white vote and his opponent won 86% of the black vote. Two years later, in the national electionRomney won 59% of the white vote and his opponent won 93% of the black vote. Both men scored the exact same percentage of the white vote.

Some might try to find a silver lining in that Rand Paul won 13 percent of the black vote, but he wasn’t running against a black candidate. In 2004, Bush won 12 percent of the Kentucky black vote. Nearly the same amount as Rand Paul. More importantly, he won 64 percent of the white vote and 58 percent of the female vote to Rand Paul’s 51 percent. The female vote is far more important, if you’re going to win elections, than picking up minority votes in New Hampshire or Kentucky.

While Rand Paul tours as some sort of expert on winning the minority vote, he has never actually won the minority vote. Similarly Rubio promises that illegal alien amnesty will turn the Latino tide for the GOP, when he could not win a straight majority of the non-Cuban Latino vote in his Senate election.

The Republican Party is suffering from a surplus of self-appointed experts in winning the minority vote who don’t actually win the minority vote. Their advice is stupid and destructive.

Romney did not lose because he lost the Latino vote. That’s a myth which has been discredited again and again, but still rises from the dead to push for an illegal alien amnesty, five times bigger than the last disastrous 1986 amnesty, so that next time around Republicans can lose by even bigger margins. But instead of trying to be diverse for the sake of diversity, the GOP might try doing what the other side did, increasing the turnout for its base by actually appealing to them.

The Republican National Convention in 2012 was a study in diversity. It was possibly even more diverse than the Democratic National Convention. It also didn’t work.

Diversity is familiar enough to be met with casual contempt. Every company trots out stock photos overflowing with stock minorities so that they can look like America or some part of America. It impresses absolutely no one. “Looking like America” is slang for racial tokenism which is both patronizing and insulting. And it’s the least innovative advice that could be imagined.

Common skin color alone does not win elections. If it did, the Republican Party could just push out countless white Democrats in precarious districts by running black candidates against them. The idea that skin color alone is representation is still the law and its emotional resonance is sometimes undeniable, but emotional identification is also based on more than just race. And representation cannot be reduced to racial diversity as a winning strategy.

The Rise of China’s Militant Nationalism

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

In April 2012, China’s ships surrounded Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. By July, the Chinese had erected a barrier to the reef’s entrance, denying access to all but their own vessels. The swift action was taken despite mutual promises by Beijing and Manila to leave the area, which up until then had been controlled by the Philippines. Chinese state media gloated over the deception.

After gobbling up Scarborough, Chinese vessels and aircraft stepped up their intrusion into Japanese territorial waters and airspace around the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, in an effort to wrest them from Tokyo. In a display of massive force, eight Chinese ships entered the waters around the uninhabited outcroppings on the 23 of this month. On Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry said the islands were a “core interest,” meaning that Beijing will not stop until it has taken control of them. Some analysts think China will try to land forces on the Senkakus soon.

Beijing’s aggression on the seas is being matched by its aggression on land. During the night of April 15, a Chinese platoon-strength force advanced 10 kilometers south of the Line of Actual Control, the de facto border between China and India in the Himalayas, and established a tented camp in the Daulat Beg Oldi sector of eastern Ladakh. In recent days, Chinese troops advanced another 10 kilometers into India, one more bold attempt to take ground from a neighboring country.

China is a belligerent state that seeks to seize territory from an arc of nations: from India in the south, to South Korea in the north. At the same time, we are hearing war talk from the Chinese capital—from civilians, such as new leader Xi Jinping, to China’s senior military officers. Washington has yet to understand the fundamental challenge China’s militant nationalism poses to America and to the international community.

At one time, it seemed that Beijing, for its own reasons, wanted to work with the U.S. Washington, in turn responded to Chinese overtures. Since Nixon’s trip to Beijing in 1972, the U.S. “engaged” the Chinese to bring them into the international community. The concept was that our generous policies would avoid the devastation that Germany and Japan precipitated last century. The American approach proved durable, despite tumultuous change over the course of four decades, precisely because it was consistent with our conception of our global role as the ultimate guarantor of peace and stability. The policy of engagement of China was enlightened, far-sighted, and generous.

It was also a mistake.

Beijing prospered because of America’s engagement, and while the Chinese required help, they seemed to accept the world as it was. Now, however, they believe they no longer need others and are therefore trying to change the world for the worse. China is not only claiming territories of others but also trying to close off international waters and airspace; proliferating nuclear weapons technology to Iran; supplying equipment to North Korea’s ballistic missile program; supporting rogue elements around the globe; launching cyber attacks on free societies; undermining human rights norms, and engaging in predatory trade tactics that helped tip the global economy over the edge in 2008.

Beijing has gone on a bender. Soon after President Obama’s troubled summit in the Chinese capital in November 2009, China dropped all pretense and started openly to challenge the American-led international system. Chinese diplomats, officials, and officers spent less time explaining, persuading, and cajoling and more time complaining, pressuring, and threatening. In early 2010, China’s flag officers and senior colonels made a point of publicly talking about fighting a war — a “hand-to-hand fight with the U.S.,” as one put it — in the near future. China, as Robert Sutter of George Washington University points out, is the only major power actively planning to kill Americans, and, judging from public comments, China’s senior officers are relishing the prospect of doing so.

IT IS NOT HARD to understand how China became a militant state. First, Chinese leaders became arrogant, evidently believing they were leading the world’s next great power. They saw economic turmoil elsewhere and told us through their media that the United States and the rest of the West were in terminal decline.

Second, the ruling Communist Party was going through a tumultuous leadership transition that, despite appearances, is still not completed. As the so-called Fourth Generation, led by Hu Jintao, gave way to the Fifth, under the command of Xi Jinping, feuding civilians sought support for their personal political ambitions from the flag officers of the People’s Liberation Army. Consequently, the generals and admirals effectively became arbiters in the Party’s increasingly rough game of politics. And in a time of political transition, almost no civilian leader was in a position — or willing to take a risk — to tell the top brass what to do. As a result, the military gained substantial influence, perhaps becoming the most powerful faction in the Communist Party.

A Bloody Endless Peace

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

“War is peace,” entered our cultural vocabulary some sixty-four years ago. Around the same time that Orwell’s masterpiece was being printed up, an armistice was being negotiated between Israel and the Arab invading armies. That armistice began the long peaceful war or the warring peace.

The entire charade did not properly enter the realm of the Orwellian until the peace process began. The peace process between Israel and the terrorist militias funded by the countries of those invading armies has gone on for longer than most actual wars. It has also taken more lives than most actual wars.

War has an endpoint. Peace does not. A peace in which you are constantly at war can go on forever because while the enthusiasts of war eventually exhaust their patriotism, the enthusiasts of peace never give up on their peacemaking.

Warmongers may stop after a few thousand dead, but Peacemongers will pirouette over a million corpses.

As you read this, Obama is probably stumbling through some ceremony or speech in Israel. The speeches all say the usual things, but there really is only one purpose to the visit. There really ever only is one purpose to these visits. The revisiting of the endless peace war.

Two decades after the peace process has failed in every way imaginable. Two decades after cemeteries on both sides are full of the casualties of peace. Two decades which have created two abortive Palestinian states at war with one another and with Israel.

Two decades later, it’s still time for peace.

Peace time means that it’s time to ring up some more Israeli concessions in the hopes of getting the terrorists and their quarreling states back to the negotiating table for another photo op in the glorious album of peacemakers. And if the photos are properly posed, perhaps there will even be another Nobel Peace Prize in it for all the participants.

It would be nice to think that the peace disease was one of those viruses carried only in the bloodstream of liberals. But it’s not.

Every so often I am asked about a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian-Arab-Muslim conflict and the interrogators are baffled when I tell them that there is no solution. “No solution at all? But there has to be a solution. What of all the moderate voices of goodwill? What of all the mothers who only want to raise their children to sing happy songs about peace? What about all the old soldiers who are tired of war? What if we get them all in a room to shake hands and pose for photos? Then won’t there be peace?”

As society has become more progressive, it has become progressively more difficult to explain even even to intelligent people that the world simply does not work that way.

For two Cold War generations it was nearly impossible to communicate that there really would be no peace with the Soviet Union other than the cold kind maintained by a mutual balance of power. Their children and grand-children appear equally unequipped to understand that most serious wars end with either one side definitively losing and fundamentally changing as a result of that defeat or both sides maintaining a cold peace that will last only as long as neither side believes that it can squash the other with a surprise attack.

Israel did have peace until it began peace negotiations. It wasn’t a perfect peace, but aside from the minor problems of the Intifada, a comparative pinprick set against the violence that began after that infamous Rose Garden handshake, it was a good time whose like was then not seen again until Israel stopped playing peace process with the terrorists and learned to keep them away instead.

But the relative absence of violence, according to the amateur peacemakers, isn’t peace. A wartime peace isn’t what they want. What they want is a peacetime war. Let there be handshakes and suicide bombings. Let there be bloody bodies scraped off the sidewalk, but let there also be children’s choirs singing about peace. Let a thousand tombstones rise, so long as everyone can believe that peace is at hand.

This vulgar worship of peace as a religion, a creed that restores the faith of faithless men and women in humanity is a combination of empty sentimentality and calculated ignorance.

Better or Worse: Politics and Conceptions of Change

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

All politics are the politics of the future. The one cause that we all champion, regardless of our political orientation, is the cause of the future. All that we fight for is the ability to shape the future.

The fundamental political question is, “Do you believe things are getting better or worse?” Ruling parties tend to answer, “Better”, opposition parties tend to answer, “Worse”. The deeper answer to that question though lies in our perceptions of the past and the future.

The left tends to view the past negatively and future shock positively. It wants change to disrupt the old order of things in order to make way for a new order. It hews to a progressive understanding of history in which we have been getting better with the advance of time, the march of progress mimics evolution as a means of lifting humanity out of the muck and raising it up on ivory towers of reason through a ceaseless process of change.

The right often views the past positively, it sees change as a destroyer that undermines civilization’s accomplishments and threatens to usher in anarchy. It fights to conserve that which is threatened by the entropic winds of change. The conservative worldview is progressive in its own way, but it is the progress of the established order. It sees progress emerging from the accretion of civilization, rather than from the disruption of revolution.

Where the left tends to be unrealistically optimistic about the future, acting like a child running to the edge and jumping off, without remembering all the bumps and bruises before, the right tends to be pessimistic about the future. It tends to be wary of change because it is all too aware of how dangerous change can be.

Youth who do not understand the value of what is around them rush to the left. As they achieve a sense of worth, of the world around them and of their labors, they drift slowly to the right. Age also brings with it a sense of vulnerability. Knowing how you can be hurt, how fragile the thin skin of the body, the fleshy connections and organs dangling within, brings with it a different view of the world. Once you understand that you can lose and that you will lose, then you also understand how important it is to defend what you have left.

The vital mantra of the left is do something for the sake of doing something. Change for the sake of novelty. Action for the sake of action. This carnival drumbeat loses its appeal when you come to understand how dangerous change can be. Personal history becomes national history becomes personal history again as you live through it. Seeing what a mistake change can be as you watch politicians disgraced, causes revealed as fool’s errands and crusades fall apart, is a great teacher of the folly of change for the sake of change.

Reagan’s question, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” is the fundamental challenge of the conservative that asks whether the change was really worth it. It is the question at the heart of the struggle between the right and the left.

Are you better off than you were twenty years ago or forty years ago? It’s an uncomfortable question because it has no simple answer. In some ways we are better off and in some ways we are worse off. Examining the question points us to the sources of the problem. The places where the tree has grown wrong, the branches that have to be pruned so that it may live.

The power of this question is that it challenges the narrative of change. It asks us to examine that most basic premise that change is good. But beyond the narrative tangles of those in power and those out of power, is the larger echo of that question which asks whether the world overall is becoming a better or worse place.

This question has deeper resonances. Is history a wheel or a rocket shooting up to the stars? Are we on an inevitable evolutionary trajectory rising up or are we doomed to repeat dark ages, progress and then dark ages again? Beneath all the speculations and theorizing is the grim question, what becomes of us? Not us individually, but our societies, our nations, our civilizations, our accomplishments and our way of life.

Reagan’s Missile Defense Vision Derailed

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

If you went strictly by the mainstream media reporting on the Defense Department’s recent announcement about missile defense, the thought in your head would be “we’re deploying more interceptor missiles because of North Korea.”

What’s probably not in your head is the auxiliary details.  DOD has requested that funding for the additional deployments begin in fiscal year 2014.  The actual deployments won’t start until after that.  Assuming DOD gets the funding, it will take until 2017 for the interceptors to be in place.  And the deployment, if it happens, will do no more than provide the ground-based interceptor baseline that was originally planned by the Bush II administration (44 interceptors), a baseline the Obama administration cut back to its current level (30 interceptors) in April 2009.

To put the last point another way: if the Obama DOD hadn’t cancelled the remaining ground-based interceptor (GBI) deployments in 2009, the 14 additional interceptors would already be deployed.

That said, the utility of deploying the additional GBIs – which would raise the deployed total from 30 to 44 – can justifiably be questioned, if former Secretary Bob Gates was right in 2009, when he said the 30 GBIs in Alaska and California were enough:

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told senators that 30 ground-based interceptors “provide a strong defense” against “the level of [missile] capability that North Korea has now and is likely to have for some years to come.” The system is designed to defend the United States against intermediate- and long-range missiles in the middle range of flight.

The North Korean satellite launch in December 2012 didn’t change the profile of the North Korean threat; it merely validated the predicted type of threat against which the GBIs were originally deployed.  Frankly, the 30 GBIs we already have in their silos probably are enough.

They are if the threat we’re worried about is North Korea, at any rate.  What if it’s not?  Suppose the threat we’re really concerned about is China?  It’s an interesting point, given the lack of precision or clearly-stated strategic purpose behind, basically, any move the Obama administration makes on missile defense.

Cancelling the Atlantic-side Missile defense

Consider the decision announced by DOD at the same time as the GBI augmentation: that the U.S. will cancel the fourth and final phase of Obama’s missile defense plan for Europe.  The European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) is the new plan Obama ordered up in 2009 when he cancelled George W. Bush’s plan to deploy GBIs to Europe.

GBIs in Poland would have provided missile defense for North America as well as for Europe against threats coming westward from Asia.  In Bush’s original plan, the GBIs would have started going into Poland in 2013.  (The GBIs in Alaska and California defend North America against threats coming eastward from Asia, or – to some extent – against missiles from East Asia coming over the North Pole).

Obama’s replacement plan for the cancelled Bush deployments was to develop a new, ground-based mobile interceptor out of the Navy’s shorter-range SM-3 missile, and eventually to deploy a follow-on interceptor, called the SM-3 IIB, which would have “some capability” against ICBMs.  The projected time frame for this deployment was to be 2020-22, some 7-9 years after the GBI deployment in Poland was to have begun.

A key weakness of this approach, however, has been that, for the purposes of defending North America, the geometry isn’t workable for using a new-generation SM-3 interceptor in Europe against an intercontinental ballistic missile from South Asia or the Middle East.  In September 2012, the National Research Council published an assessment of the prospects for defending North America using the EPAA deployment concept, and concluded that the prospects aren’t good.  Obtaining the NRC report costs $62, but fortunately, Defense Industry Daily has summarized its findings as follows (scroll down at the link):

[The NRC assessment] states that EPAA Phase IV is not likely to be an effective way to defend the United States, and recommends that the USA make changes to its own GMD system and radar set. They’re not advocating the dismantling of EPAA, just saying that the USA should have a system in which EPAA is about Europe’s defense, and the USA has a system that doesn’t depend on it.

More on that in a moment.

Obama Training Radical Islamists in Syria

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

In a new development, the Obama Administration is apparently not only arming (indirectly, technically) but now training Syrian rebels. We know that the weapons are going to radical Islamists–both Muslim Brotherhood and smaller groups.

We don’t know which groups are now being trained militarily by the CIA in Jordan. It has been suggested that these are only Syrian army defectors who are thus likely not to be from radical Islamist groups including the Brotherhood. But is that selectivity certain? Finding out who is receiving this military training–which they are sure to use for other purposes in future–should be a priority in the national debate and in questions from Congress.

What might be happening is this: Qatar backs the Muslim Brotherhood; the Saudis who hate the Brotherhood are backing the smaller Salafi groups; and Jordan which is terrified by the Islamists is supporting the Free Syrian Army which is run by ex-army officers.

Such is the nature of U.S. policy that it goes along with all three rather than directs the process toward a specific goal. The State Department is trying to find people who are relatively moderate while also able to have links to the Brotherhood.

You can imagine how tough that is to achieve. What a mess. In the 1980s the United States was convulsed by a scandal because the Reagan Administration was providing arms–through Saudi Arabia–and training to the pro-American Contra group in Nicaragua that were fighting against the Marxist regime there. It was alleged that the Contras participated in some torture and killing of civilians. Well, today the Obama Administration is conducting the same strategy–with Saudi and Qatari help–in Syria, with much more likelihood of atrocities by those it is helping. On top of that, those being helped are largely anti-American and radical Islamist. Yet there is no serious concern being raised.

Largely due to the local situation but reinforced by U.S. policy, radical Islamists will one day rule Syria. What will follow will not be real democracy but another Islamist dictatorial state. Islamist militias armed with U.S. weapons and that new regime might well use U.S. weapons and training to kill Christians and Alawites; enforce second-class status on women; and intimidate moderates as well as to attack Israel. While the mass media has widely reported the U.S. role in arming the rebels and is now picking up the training story, virtually nowhere is the significance of this policy and its escalation analyzed.

As I have repeatedly explained, the issue regarding Syria is not whether the United States should help more—it is already helping to supply arms indirectly through Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey—but to whom the arms and help flow. In principle, the Syrian opposition is fighting against a terrible dictatorship (see my book, The Truth About Syria for details, available free here). Yet for all practical purposes, it is dominated by radical Islamist militias (except for the Kurds who are faced with local rule by a radical Marxist militia).

The reality, then, is that the United States is helping arm and perhaps helping to train radical Islamist guerrillas who want a Sharia state in Syria, who believe Israel should be wiped off the map, and who may soon be murdering and oppressing Christians and other groups in Syria itself.

Shouldn’t this be an issue–one day it might be a scandal–that’s widely discussed in Congress and the mass media? There might be a way around this, as is being hinted, if the Americans, British, and French are only training former Syrian army soldiers, relatively few of whom would be in Islamist groups. The excuse would then be that only regular soldiers are qualified for the training but that would also be designed to keep out Islamists. This would be a better approach though it still has dangers.

This brings us to the second problem: the Islamists are getting more international military help than the moderates.

While the nominal Syrian opposition leadership backed by the United States is better than before (up until recently the Obama Administration openly backed the Brotherhood-dominated Syrian National Council!) it is powerless on the ground. The guys with guns—fully automatic weapons by the way with large magazines—are a nightmare.

Obama Limiting US-Israel Security Cooperation?

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Shared values and democratic systems count for a lot in the political world — and they can advance military cooperation — but national security interests can evolve without them. No one would mistake Saudi Arabia or Bahrain for a country that shares American values, yet the U.S. Central Command works closely and cooperatively with both.

Israel shares American values in many ways, but a shared security outlook is something else, hinging on threat perceptions that may no longer be coincident.

Vice President Biden took to the stage at AIPAC this week to promote U.S.-Israel security relations. His emphasis on American support for Israel’s missile defense program is the coin of the realm – first because it is true and second because Israel’s enemies have missiles.

But security relations have undergone a subtle, negative change in the past four years.

The Obama administration has been willing to be Israel’s protector, patron to a client, or parent to a child. This patronizing attitude is reflected in the President’s assertion that Israel’s democratically elected leaders “don’t know what’s in their own best interest” and Vice President Biden’s comment that President Obama wants to hear from “regular Israelis” on his upcoming trip, suggesting that what he hears from Prime Minister Netanyahu would be disputed by Israel’s citizenry. The administration is less willing to be Israel’s partner in addressing common threats, including terrorism and the rise of radical Islam. And there has been a limit to consultation and cooperation on Iran. On occasion, the U.S. adds to Israel’s problems by allowing Israel to bear the brunt of the world’s disapprobation at the U.N.

Israel’s first strategic allies were France and Great Britain. The U.S. was sympathetic to Israel’s plight as small and vulnerable to threats from combinations of Arab states, but except for a desire not to have socialist Israel in the pro-Soviet camp and the 1956 Eisenhower outburst, the U.S. was uninvolved in Israeli security. President Johnson declined to be of assistance to Israel in the Six Day War.

Presidents Nixon and Reagan saw Israel in the Cold War context. Nixon stood with Israel as a defensive measure against the Soviet Union in 1973. Reagan opened “strategic cooperation” as a forward step in a plan to defeat the USSR. His idea of ballistic missile defenses was matched by Israeli innovation in the field; the result was tremendous advancement and in-depth cooperation.

At the end of the Cold War, President Clinton called for “capabilities based” defense to cover contingencies rather than specific enemies. Israel was well placed to continue to work with the United States and provide technological capabilities and test beds. Israel established warm relations with some of the newest NATO members, Poland and the Czech Republic, as well as with Bulgaria and Romania.

After 9-11, President Bush’s formulation of a “war against terrorists and the states that harbor and support them” resonated fully with Israel, and there was increased closeness and cooperation on perceived regional threats. But congruity of interests is never total. When American and Israeli positions on Iran diverged (about 2007), President Bush refused Israel weapons that could be used against Iran.

When the Obama Administration redefined the wars in which the United States is engaged, the words “Islamic” or “Muslim” terrorism and radical Islam were shelved in favor of more neutral appellations. In his Cairo address, President Obama sought to establish “mutual respect” between the West and the “Muslim world,” and he accepted the view that policies of the West were partly responsible for the antagonism of Muslims toward the United States. He called Israel’s independence a response to the Holocaust — a charge that fed into the Arab complaint that Israel was foisted on the region by guilty Europeans rather than by being a legitimate and permanent part of the region.

Without commenting on the approach itself, it should be noted that the independence of and continuing support for Israel is, by the definition of its enemies, part of what the West did and does that creates antagonism in the “Muslim world.” And for those who believe, as Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has said, that terrorists are created as a reaction to Western provocation, support for Israel is precisely such a provocation.

In terms of military cooperation, then, the President’s formulation reduced the ability of Israel to have equal stature with the United States in a regional mission.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/obama-limiting-us-israel-security-cooperation/2013/03/12/

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