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  • Archive for the 'International Affairs' Category

    The Things That We Are Asked To Give Up

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 30th March 2016 (All posts by )

    So, as I am devoting all my energy and time to finishing the first draft of another book, I have been following – with lashings of sorrow, pity, dread and the merest splash of schadenfreude – developments in Europe. Germany, which seems to be cracking under the weight of a full load of so-called refugees, Sweden, ditto, Brussels, where the concerned citizens appear to be too frightened to continue with a protest march against fear, and the governing authorities appear to be more concerned about the legendary anti-Muslim backlash than the certainty of Islamic terror unleashed in some European or English city. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Britain, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Current Events, France, Germany, Holidays, International Affairs, Islam, Predictions, Religion | 23 Comments »

    Poukisa Mwen Te Ale An Ayiti

    Posted by Jay Manifold on 27th March 2016 (All posts by )

    After 240 years of relative quiescence, at 4:53 PM local time on Tuesday 12 January 2010 the Enriquillo fault system ruptured near 18°27’ N, 72°32’ W in an M 7.0 earthquake, followed by numerous aftershocks, mostly westward of the mainshock hypocenter. Institutional functionality, or the lack thereof, in Haiti prior to the earthquake was such that there was no local seismometer network in place, so nuances of slip in the 2010 earthquake involving several associated faults have had to be inferred from kinematic models.
    The Enriquillo fault itself forms the boundary between the Gonâve Microplate and the Caribbean Plate, but seismic activity along it is driven by collision with, and subduction of, the North American Plate. The entire fault system may have begun a new cycle of large earthquakes similar to those of the 18th century, in which case there will be several more such events with significant effects in Haiti and the Dominican Republic through, very roughly, 2080.
    Around half the entire US population donated money for Haitian earthquake relief in 2010. I may not have been among them, but as initially recounted in this forum in April of 2011, I was drawn into restoration work in a computer lab and fixed-wireless network in Petit-Goâve, and have subsequently assisted in similar efforts in Musac (Mizak), La Vallée-de-Jacmel. Paging through the visa section of my passport, I now find an astonishing number of red ENTRÉE and blue SORTIE stamps from the Ministere de l’Interieur et des Collectivites Territoriales / Direction de l’Immigration. My God, I’ve been down there 16 times. What was I thinking?
    Something like this …

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Book Notes, Christianity, Civil Society, Culture, Current Events, Ebola, Elections, History, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Latin America, Personal Narrative, Politics, Predictions, Religion, Society, Systems Analysis, USA | 4 Comments »

    Terror Is Glamour as War is Game

    Posted by Charles Cameron on 18th March 2016 (All posts by )

    [ by Charles Cameron — on the necessary simultaneity of temporal and eternal perspectives ]
    .

    quote-terror-is-glamour-salman-rushdie

    **

    First as to glamour -– it may help to reflect that glamour, our word, comes not from Vogue but from the same origins as grammar (referring to languages) and grimoire (a book of spells, spelling also being a matter of language), and means something along the lines of “luminous illusion”. If we say terror is glamour, then, we mean that it “casts a spell” — and thus creates an appealing, indeed compelling, mirage. It lies, then, in the realm of magic, image, imagination, so ably delineated by Ioan Couliano in his great book, Eros and Magic in the Renaissance.

    The best of contemporary advertising draws on precisely the same Renaissance principles of persuasion — principles of extraordinary power which we nowadays tend to dismiss as “magical thinking”.

    **

    Thus Virginia Postrel, in Terror Is Glamour:

    Glamour can sell religious devotion or military glory as surely as it can pitch lipstick or island vacations. All promise a way to transcend our everyday circumstances, to experience more and become better than ordinary life allows. All invite us to imagine escape and transformation.

    Postrel continues:

    From Achilles and Alexander to “national greatness,” the glamour of battle is remarkably persistent. So is the glamour of martyrdom, as any trip through a Western museum or perusal of a Lives of the Saints (or its Protestant equivalent) will demonstrate. Nor is martyrdom’s appeal to Christians merely historical, as Eliza Griswold reported in this 2007 TNR piece.
    .
    Glamour appeals to our desires, whatever they may be, and Jihadi glamour offers something for everyone: from historical importance to union with God, not to mention riches and beautiful women.

    Postrel then quotes Egyptian cleric Hazem Sallah Abu Isma’il, indicating that the “beautiful women” in question are “black-eyed virgins” from a world conceptually above our own:

    If one of these virgins were to descend to this world, her light would extinguish the light of the sun and the moon. That’s how beautiful she is.

    Yet as Postrel comments, “glamour proves perishable”:

    As Rushdie suggests, of course, glamour always leaves something out, in this case the literally gory details of the act .. Either aspirations change, entropy and boredom set in, or the audience learns too much, destroying the mystery and grace on which glamour’s beautiful illusion depends.

    She concludes with a significant question and preliminary response:

    How do we puncture the glamour of Jihadi terrorism? The first step is recognizing that such glamour exists.

    That may seem like CVE 101, but the deeper our understanding of magic, imagination, image — and hence the power of glamour — the deeper our understanding of the deep problem that CVE presents will become.

    **

    Next we turn to Richard Fernandez, writing in A Bellyful of War, picking up the themes of war’s attraction, and the carnage its glamour omits from mention, and tying both to the notions of war as game and war as brutal reality:

    William Tecumseh Sherman understood what many modern theorists have forgotten: war can be attractive to young men for as long as long as it remains a game. War in small doses is supremely thrilling, even glamorous. It is peace which can be routine and boring.
    .
    And so it goes until war stops being a game and the going gets really rough. “Its glory is all moonshine,” said Sherman. “It is only those who have never heard a shot, never heard the shriek and groans of the wounded and lacerated … that cry aloud for more blood, more vengeance, more desolation.” To Sherman a “bellyful of war” was ironically the psychological foundation of generational peace.

    Not only is that last sentence a profound statement worthy of the contemplation of all who love peace – it is also far more subtly convincing than the old Strategic Air Command motto, Peace is Our Profession, which sounds more like one of Rochefoucauld’s tributes that vice pays to virtue than anything, and yet is presumably intended to convey the same insight.

    **

    Finally we have Plotinus, for whom – in a manner richly echoed by Shakespeare — life itself is a dream, a play, a sport, a game:

    Murders, death in all its guises, the reduction and sacking of cities, all must be to us just such a spectacle as the changing scenes of a play; all is but the varied incident of a plot, costume on and off, acted grief and lament. For on earth, in all the succession of life, it is not the Soul within but the Shadow outside of the authentic man, that grieves and complains and acts out the plot on this world stage which men have dotted with stages of their own constructing. All this is the doing of man knowing no more than to live the lower and outer life, and never perceiving that, in his weeping and in his graver doings alike, he is but at play; to handle austere matters austerely is reserved for the thoughtful: the other kind of man is himself a futility. Those incapable of thinking gravely read gravity into frivolities which correspond to their own frivolous Nature. Anyone that joins in their trifling and so comes to look on life with their eyes must understand that by lending himself to such idleness he has laid aside his own character. If Socrates himself takes part in the trifling, he trifles in the outer Socrates.

    Plotinus is correct, I would suggest, sub specie aeternitatis, just as is Sherman sub specie incarnationis — and it is the role of the artist to hold both visions, trivial and eternal, as Koestler suggests.

    **

    I am again grateful to David Foster for his ChicagoBoyz post The Romance of Terrorism and War which triggered this exploration and the one on Getting Deeper into Koestler which preceded it.

    Posted in Advertising, International Affairs, Miscellaneous, Philosophy, War and Peace | 4 Comments »

    Don’t you belong on a beach?

    Posted by Nathaniel T. Lauterbach on 18th February 2016 (All posts by )

    In comment thread of another post, Grurray asked:

    “I know the Marines are the best fighting force in the world, but haven’t you had enough of building nations in the middle of the desert? You’re called Marines for a reason. Shouldn’t the future should be closer to the shore?” (sic)

    I’ll take the sentiment kindly. Marines usually do fine when compared to other forces. I hesitate to call ourselves the “best” or “finest.” But the Marines are probably as good as any force out there.

    As for meat of the question: Marines are amphibious fighters, right? What are you doing in a landlocked country?
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Aviation, History, International Affairs, Iraq, Law, Law Enforcement, Military Affairs, National Security, Politics, Terrorism, USA, Vietnam, War and Peace | 13 Comments »

    Meanwhile, In Europe

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 17th February 2016 (All posts by )

    Who does one call to get Europe on the phone? What is causing all the economic problems?

    And what is happening in Ukraine and why?

    And what should the USA be doing in all this? And is the USA an empire?

    Posted in Business, Crony Capitalism, Current Events, Economics & Finance, Entrepreneurship, Europe, International Affairs, Politics | 10 Comments »

    The Collapse of Obama’s Syria Policy

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 4th February 2016 (All posts by )

    aleppo.sized-770x415xc

    The US foreign policy conducted by the Obama administration has been a disaster all along. He abandoned Iraq and the rise of ISIS has followed. I have read “Black Flags“, which describes how the al Qeada organization of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has morphed into ISIS after Obama pulled US forces out of Iraq. Now, as Richard Fernandez explains in another masterful analysis, Assad is about to rout the last of the non-ISIS opposition.

    Reuters reports that Bashal al-Assad’s forces have made major advances behind a major Russian air offensive and are now poised to destroy the non-ISIS rebels opposing the Syrian government is rocking the foreign policy establishment. “After three days of intense fighting and aerial bombardment, regime forces, believed to include Iran-backed Shia militias, broke through to the formerly besieged regime enclaves of Nobul and Zahra.”

    The Russians have been surprising US military leaders in ways that are very unpleasant.

    The performance of the miniature, “rust bucket” Russian air force has formed an invidious baseline to what the USAF has achieved. The Independent reported:

    Their army’s equipment and strategy was “outmoded”; their air force’s bombs and missiles were “more dumb than smart”; their navy was “more rust than ready”. For decades, this was Western military leaders’ view, steeped in condescension, of their Russian counterparts. What they have seen in Syria and Ukraine has come as a shock.

    Russian military jets have, at times, been carrying out more sorties in a day in Syria than the US-led coalition has done in a month.

    We are not serious and the US military has to wonder what will happen if Putin decides to take the Baltic republics.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, International Affairs, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Military Affairs, Obama | 40 Comments »

    “Airbnb slammed for offering rooms with a view in Jewish settlements”

    Posted by Jonathan on 2nd February 2016 (All posts by )

    Airbnb slammed“. So passive. Who slammed them? Palestinians engaged in lawfare and mediafare against Israel. An accurate headline would be, “Palestinians open new front in boycott campaign against Israel”.

    The Palestinian Authority says offering vacation rental properties in Jewish homes in the ­occupied West Bank, through U.S.-based sites such as Airbnb, Booking.com and TripAdvisor, ­violates international law.

    No word on whether apartment owners in Mecca are using Airbnb to rent to Jews and Christians.

    Posted in International Affairs, Israel, Media, Middle East, War and Peace | 6 Comments »

    Cannon Fodder

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 10th January 2016 (All posts by )

    An archaic term, in general; according to the wildly variable and sometimes suspect Wikipedia, it is a term taken from an even more archaic term for food for livestock. “Soldiers are the metaphorical food for enemy cannon fire.” Wikipedia defines the expression further as, “…an informal, derogatory term for combatants who are regarded … as expendable in the face of enemy fire … or to distinguish expendable low-grade or inexperienced combatants from supposedly more valuable veterans.”

    Expendable is the operative word, and expendable without much regret on the part of the credentialed elite – the political, social or military elite – because the expected goal is considered worth the sacrifice, especially if the sacrifice is borne by others. Reading this week about the sexual violence reported – reluctantly in many cases by German media – as being perpetrated on a grand scale by recent Middle Eastern migrants masquerading as war refugees on women in German cities on this last New Years Eve gave me a sickening new understanding of the concept.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anglosphere, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Current Events, Europe, Germany, Immigration, International Affairs, Islam, Middle East | 23 Comments »

    Freedom Glow, as introduced by its creator and editor, B. F. Johnson

    Posted by leifsmith on 9th January 2016 (All posts by )

    glyph 559: B. F. Johnson, editor . reports on contributions to the emergence of liberty . stories of insight, courage, and action . a growing collection of evidence that a network is forming that can make a free world

    Freedom Glow, as introduced by its creator and editor, B. F. Johnson, December 2015 — a venture traced in patterns of light (sparks from this forge will travel)

    Freedom is a state of mind. Freedom’s tools are knowledge translated into action so others might know and act. Each time such an action occurs a packet of light complete with the unique frequency of an individual is emitted and each time an individual picks up a freedom tool and works it in their own life a unique packet of light with a unique wavelength is emitted. This then is Freedom Glow. We see twinkling of Freedom Glow in New Delhi and New York, in Amsterdam and Tajikistan, in Tehran and Jerusalem, in Accra and Mogadishu, in Denver and Austin around the globe and into space. Freedom Glow can be seen in art, and economics, and politics, and philosopher’s musings, and medicine, and science—anywhere we care to look. Freedom Glow are the stories of one person at a time lighting a darkened world for all to see.

    http://freedomglow.com
    http://explorersfoundation.org/glyphery/559.html

    a list of all glyphs

    Posted in Blogging, History, International Affairs, Libertarianism | Comments Off on Freedom Glow, as introduced by its creator and editor, B. F. Johnson

    Tom Palmer’s “Update From the Field on Defending Liberty,” reported by B. F. Johnson, in Freedom Glow

    Posted by leifsmith on 9th January 2016 (All posts by )

    This is a good article – a contribution to realistic optimism about the future of liberty. It’s also an introduction to Barbara Johnson’s new venture: Freedom Glow. She attended Palmer’s Atlas Network event, and took along her 14 year old son, Jaycee, who made an impression. This is her report:

    http://freedomglow.com/2016/01/09/freedom-fighter-portraits-in-prudence-and-courage/#more-92

    With ten million or more doing the kind of work Tom Palmer is doing we have a chance to make liberty the common inheritance of everyone. It may take a thousand years to accomplish it, so it’s good to hear the work is underway. As Patrick O’Brian’s Jack Aubrey was fond of saying, “There’s not a moment to lose.”

    Posted in Blogging, Civil Society, Culture, Education, International Affairs, Libertarianism, Miscellaneous | Comments Off on Tom Palmer’s “Update From the Field on Defending Liberty,” reported by B. F. Johnson, in Freedom Glow

    This is How We Lose

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 12th December 2015 (All posts by )

    Stand and defend the line. Stop retreating.

    Posted in International Affairs, Islam, Morality and Philosphy, Terrorism, War and Peace | 33 Comments »

    Is Obama Losing It ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 2nd December 2015 (All posts by )

    France Obama Climate Countdown

    Barack Obama is the least accomplished person to be elected president in American History. His “accomplishments” in office include spending trillions of dollars on worthless energy boondoggles and introducing a health plan that is collapsing under its own contradictions. The plan was sold, sort of, to the American people with lies like, “If you like your health plan you can keep it” and others similar in misdirection.

    His initiatives in foreign policy included a “Reset” with Russia, now long gone. He supported a Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt after removing support for a long term US ally in Mubarek. He has presided over a ridiculous nuclear proliferation plan with US enemy Iran that is already collapsing. He abandoned Iraq only to see the appearance and growth of ISIS, a worse manifestation of the Sunni revolt ended by George Bush with the Surge.

    The list of Obama’s failures is long and distinguished. The question now is, is he losing his mind ?

    Is it now time to invoke Section 4 of the 25th Amendment?

    Has our president officially lost his ability to discharge the powers and duties of his office?

    Anyone who listened to President Obama speak to reporters in Paris on Tuesday would reasonably conclude it is high time to start drawing up the papers to transmit to Congress for his removal.

    If you are one of the millions and millions of literate Americans out there who have simply tuned this president out the past three or four years, that is certainly understandable. But if you tuned in to the long, rambling, empty press conference, you would have been truly alarmed.

    Without the use of the teleprompter, his speech can be described only as “halting.” It was impossible to count the number of times he seized up, able to deaden the silence with only a drawn-out “uh,” “um” or “ahhh.”

    I tried to find an embeddable video of that speech but there is not one available.

    It took the doddering president 47 minutes and over 5,000 words to answer just six questions. And by “answer,” I simply mean he unspooled a torrent of disjointed words and broken sentences.

    Part of the looniness of it all stemmed from the giant scam he and other world leaders are trying to put over on advanced countries, punishing them for their industriousness by redistributing billions and billions of dollars from hardworking American taxpayers and handing it over to tin-pot dictators in disheveled Third World countries.

    “You go down to Miami, and when it’s flooding at high tide on a sunny day fish are swimming through the middle of the streets,” he said at one point. As if this were some kind of evidence that high tides or flooding are somehow caused by global warming.

    Never mind that a) the argument makes no sense; and b) local media refuted the canard.

    But President Obama’s fevers went well beyond global warming hysteria.

    Asked about the “mass shooting” where a nut job shot three people at a Colorado abortion clinic, President Obama once again became exasperated with the American people.

    “I say this every time we’ve got one of these mass shootings: This just doesn’t happen in other countries.

    He actually said this. In Paris. Not three weeks after gunmen mowed down 129 people enjoying freedom in the French capital.

    What is going on ?

    I think Al Gore went psychotic after losing the 2000 election. Before the election, I considered him approximately the equal of George Bush, who I was not that impressed with. I supported McCain in 2000. After the election, Gore got weird, not just in his fixation on climate “change” which predated the election and seemed a relatively harmless delusion shared by many. Until the revelations of the UEA emails and computer comments, I was just skeptical. Gore’s wife left him and he just got more and more strange.

    Narcissistic personalities need feeding with some semblance of success. Looking at Donald Trump and his wild boasting shows one example but he has made billions in real estate and that must support his self love.

    What is happening with Obama ? He came from nowhere and was given almost everything he accomplished with little effort on his own part. He did not even work to pass legislation that he is credited with.

    Several months before Obama announced his U.S. Senate bid, Jones called his old friend Cliff Kelley, a former Chicago alderman who now hosts the city’s most popular black call-in radio ­program.

    I called Kelley last week and he recollected the private conversation as follows:

    “He said, ‘Cliff, I’m gonna make me a U.S. Senator.’”

    “Oh, you are? Who might that be?”

    “Barack Obama.”

    Jones appointed Obama sponsor of virtually every high-profile piece of legislation, angering many rank-and-file state legislators who had more seniority than Obama and had spent years championing the bills.

    None of this was his doing. It was handed to him.

    Objections to his policies are met with accusations of racism by his supporters. I see very few examples of serious debate on his policy.

    Now everything is collapsing. His “Climate” initiative is a fake and almost everyone knows it.

    What next ? It is worrisome.

    Posted in Elections, History, International Affairs, Obama, Politics, Speeches | 33 Comments »

    What is going on with Turkey (Not Thanksgiving)?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 26th November 2015 (All posts by )

    istanbul

    Turkish F 16s shot down a Russian SU 24, a bomber, after it entered Turkish airspace and did not respond to warnings.

    A U.S. track of the Russian plane shot down by Turkey shows that the plane was inside Turkish airspace for 17 seconds, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports.

    After 10 warnings without a response, a Turkish fighter jet shot the plane down Tuesday. U.S. officials said Wednesday that all of the warnings occurred before the plane entered Turkish airspace, Martin reports.

    What remains unclear is whether the Russian plane was still in Turkish airspace when the F-16 fired, Martin reports. The explosion that brought the warplane down occurred when it was back in Syrian airspace, the U.S. officials said.

    Why did Turkey do this ? One reason may be that the Russians were attacking Turkmen who are opposed to Assad.

    Another is that Turkey is involved in oil trade with ISIS.

    Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who canceled his planned trip to Turkey after the incident, described the shooting down of the Russian plane as a “planned provocation.”

    He said the Turkish action came after Russian planes successfully targeted oil infrastructure used by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, alleging that Turkey benefited from the oil trade.

    Lavrov also said that Turkish territory was used by “terrorists” to prepare attacks in other countries, but offered no details. He said that Russia “has no intention to go to war with Turkey,” but added that Moscow will re-consider its ties with Ankara.

    Turkey has been trending to Islamism since Erdogan took over the government ten years ago.

    President Erdogan also attended the summit, proceeding to speak at the event’s closing ceremony: “Muslim sailors reached the American continent 314 years before Columbus, in 1178. In his memoirs, Christopher Columbus mentions the existence of a mosque atop a hill on the coast of Cuba”. In this way, the Turkish President managed to cause a sensation, while ignoring the fact that mere notion of the ‘discovery of America’ is nothing but a linguistic ploy used to consecrate the European domination of the world from the 16th century onwards and to discount the achievements of the continent’s native populations.

    Richard Fernandez has a theory about why this is happening.

    Charles Krauthaummer argues that since the Turks could not have been spurred into action by such minor Russian intrusion into their airspace, their true motive must have been to signal Moscow to lay off one its proxies, the Turkmen. They were willing to violate the ‘no clash between principals’ rule to emphasize the point.

    This I think sort of highlights that, the Turks are the most opposed to Assad of anybody on the ground. It wasn’t only that the Russian airplane went into Turkish air space. It’s that the bombing run was against Turkmen, who a minority in Syria, ethnically Turkish that the Turks have always felt they have to defend.

    Remember that Turkey and ISIS are both Sunni Muslim and the entire ISIS movement began as a Sunni reaction to the extreme provocation of the Sunnis by the Pro-Iran government of Iraq.

    The challenge has been Russia’s focus on propping up Assad rather than focusing on ISIL. … Until that happens, it’s very difficult. It’s difficult because if their priority is attacking the moderate opposition that might be future members of an inclusive Syrian government, Russia is not going to get the support of us or a range of other members of the coalition.

    Putin’s reaction to the incident on the occasion of his meeting with the King of Jordan describes the same strategic picture, albeit viewed from the other side of the lines.

    Obama is basically an ally of Iran and that may be why he withdrew US forces that might have imposed discipline on the Iraqi government. In that sense, ISIS was created by Obama as the Sunnis had nowhere else to go. Turkey has little incentive to fight ISIS as they share Sunni religious affiliation and have no love for the Kurds and other anti-Assad forces. They certainly have little love for Shia Islam, of which Alawite is a form.

    The differences between Russia and the West are also a a major factor in our dilemma.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Culture, Current Events, International Affairs, Middle East, Terrorism | 34 Comments »

    Once Again and With Feeling

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 17th November 2015 (All posts by )

    Add me to a relatively short list of people on social media who are not making any particular gesture of sympathy and solidarity with the people of France who have been whammed for the second time in a year by the bloody-minded foot-soldiers of Islam. It’s not that I don’t care, and that I don’t feel the least shred of human sympathy for those people who went out for a drink and a good meal at a popular restaurant, a raucous rock concert, a soccer game, and then had their lives changed forever – if not ended entirely. It’s just that at this particular point in time, I am a bit tired of making easy feel-good, symbolic gestures about Islamic terrorism. Once you’ve made them … then, what for a follow-up?
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anglosphere, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Culture, Current Events, International Affairs, Islam | 9 Comments »

    Admiral Roughead Speaks

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 6th November 2015 (All posts by )

    null

    Admiral Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations 2007-2011, recently spoke to our organization. A U.S Naval Academy graduate, he was one of only two officers in the US Navy to have commanded both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets. He’s currently on the board of directors of both Northrup Grumman Corp and The Center for a New American Security. He is also a Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution. I paraphrase some of his remarks below.

    A Wilderness of Disorder

      Clearly the old order we grew up with is rapidly disappearing. I use that in the Shakespearean sense, where the wilderness is this multitude, this mass of uncertainty that really surrounds us. That’s the period we’re in. And I do think Europe today, NATO today, epitomizes that. If you look at the structure of NATO it has started to parse into many different groups. If you’re in the East, the threat is Russia. If you’re in the South, it’s North Africa and the Middle East. If you’re in the West, Russia and the Middle East are, well, other people’s problems.

    The Narrative

      We’re in a time when we place a higher value on ‘The Narrative’ than we do on the substance of a problem. The idea is that if we get the narrative right, we’ve got it right; when in point of fact it is the underlying substance that is important.

    A Changing Landscape in Asia

      I’m not of a mind that China’s had it’s run and now it’s into a different phase. I think we’re going to see them work very hard with a very centralized approach to weather some of their economic issues. As China looks to the future, it has a strategy that has an economic underpinning and a military underpinning. At its heart is the “Belt and Road” initiative which consists of a Maritime Belt around the Indian Ocean, a Silk Road across Asia, and the Asia Development Bank. It a very interesting strategy that will press China deep into the heart of Asia.

      Russia finds itself in a partnership with China that is historically inconsistent. China has been a strategic competitor of Russia, and Russia will soon find itself the junior in that relationship.

      The associations and relations we have in Asia are going to be hugely important.

      India, Japan and China will be pressing into space in a very big way. We need to think about the business and strategic effects of that.

      Asia has found the submarine. We are going to see a proliferation of submarines and unmanned undersea systems there unlike anywhere else.

    Our Focus is Too Close

      We tend in think in terms of the next budget, what’s in the news, what’s capturing our attention at the moment. We need to spend more time thinking about the patterns of life, about what the drivers are and how they span a generation or perhaps two generations.

      We are in a time when actions are more event driven than strategy driven. This is partly driven by the explosion of information availability, people now have instantaneous access to information that was once the purview of the elite. It has shortened the deliberation time leaders have before judgement is delivered from the public domain. It is forcing a compression of events. We need to act less hastily and think more.

      Because of this information space we now exist in, we have gotten away from being able to thoughtfully assess whether something is an existential threat, or a vital threat, or perhaps not even a threat. But because of this flood of information, we have now begun to associate violence somewhere with a threat, which is not always the case.

    He also touched on many other subjects including: the declining performance of our schools and toll that will take on our entire society, the loss of boundaries between the personal and the public and the corrosive effect that is having on our society, the rise of political and religious extremism, our loss of leadership in nuclear power development, the need to develop directed energy weapons, the increasing importance of unmanned vehicles, and the desperate need we have to develop cyber-warfare and cyber-defense capabilities.

    Admiral Roughhead gave me the impression of someone intelligent, thoughtful, and someone aware of the questions that need to be asked but not sure of the answers.

    Posted in International Affairs, Military Affairs, Speeches, War and Peace | 9 Comments »

    Dissolving the People

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 20th October 2015 (All posts by )

    Berthold Brecht’s bitterly satiric poem “The Solution” has now and again been quoted here, usually in regard to some towering idiocy on the part of a government given to complaining about a lack of support among citizens for some particular national objective. Note that I specified citizens in the once-commonly-accepted American sense, and not the citizens-as-subjects in the European sense, which seems to imply that the ordinary people of a particular nation are there merely to serve as a kind of sheep to be sheared economically, or as metaphorical cannon-fodder to be marshaled up and flung to the front of whatever national objective that the national ruling class has ruled must be the focus of the effort of the moment.

    After the uprising of the 17th of June
    The Secretary of the Writers’ Union
    Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
    Stating that the people
    Had forfeited the confidence of the government
    And could win it back only
    By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
    In that case for the government
    To dissolve the people
    And elect another?

    Nasty old Commie that he was, he did have a way with words. The irony in this is so thick that I am surprised that it hasn’t coagulated, and dropped all the way through to the center of the earth. And it is only ironic – again – that Germany’s ruling class (analogous to our very own unholy alliance among elected politicians, the bureaucracy, the intellectual and media elite) appear to have decided to take the opportunity of unrest in the Middle East, to dissolve the people and elect another, welcoming them in with balloons, banners and stuffed toys.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Current Events, Europe, Germany, Immigration, International Affairs, Islam | 28 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 12th October 2015 (All posts by )

    J. E. Dyer on Russia in Syria:

    Get used to it. This is the world as it is without American power setting standards and boundaries. After a 70-year hiatus from history, nothing you think you know applies to this situation. This is the world of 1900 – 800 – 500 B.C. – but with much more destructive weapons, and much faster ways to get around.

    Interesting times ahead.

    Posted in Current Events, International Affairs, Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, Obama, Quotations, Russia, Tradeoffs, USA, War and Peace | 12 Comments »

    Where are we bound ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 11th October 2015 (All posts by )

    I watched the Sunday Talk Shows this morning and nothing was reassuring. Then I read the column from Richard Fernandez.

    It makes sense. I have believed for some time that we are headed for a revolution. Maybe not an old fashioned bloody revolution but something is coming.

    The anniversary of the U.S. war against the Islamic State passed with little notice. It was August 7 of last year that President Obama authorized the first airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq, a campaign he expanded a month later to include targets in Syria. So far this month, the president has delivered remarks on the Voting Rights Act, his deal with Iran, the budget, clean energy, and Hurricane Katrina. ISIS? Not a peep.

    Obama’s quiet because the war is not going well … One of our most gifted generals predicts the conflict will last “10 to 20 years.” And now comes news that the Pentagon is investigating whether intelligence assessments of ISIS have been manipulated for political reasons.

    His column today suggests that the Ship of State is drifting. He quotes Niall Ferguson’s article in the Wall Street Journal.

    I have spent much of the past seven years trying to work out what Barack Obama’s strategy for the United States truly is. For much of his presidency, as a distinguished general once remarked to me about the commander in chief’s strategy, “we had to infer it from speeches.”

    At first, I assumed that the strategy was simply not to be like his predecessor—an approach that was not altogether unreasonable, given the errors of the Bush administration in Iraq and the resulting public disillusionment. I read Mr. Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech—with its Quran quotes and its promise of “a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world”—as simply the manifesto of the Anti-Bush.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Current Events, Film, History, International Affairs, Islam, Leftism, Middle East, Obama, Russia | 49 Comments »

    “No, it’s not a new Cold War. It’s something much more perilous.”

    Posted by Jonathan on 5th October 2015 (All posts by )

    Noah Rothman in Commentary:

    Moscow now has a bigger conflict to prosecute, one in which the United States cannot decline to engage. Russia had spent the better part of the last two months paving the way for intervention in the Syrian civil war. Last Monday, that campaign began with a dramatic attack on CIA-armed and trained rebels under the guise of airstrikes on the Islamic State. The United States immediately scrambled to pursue “deconfliction” talks with Moscow, with the singular purpose of establishing military-to-military contacts so that Russian and NATO forces operating in the Syrian theater wouldn’t accidently start shooting at each other. But Russia’s aim is to ignite conflict. Its desire is to prop up the ailing Assad regime and to force NATO assets and its proxies out of Western Syria (and, eventually, out of the country entirely). It is a farce to pursue “deconfliction” when triggering conflict is the whole purpose of this exercise.
     
    [. . .]
     
    In a sense, Obama was correct when he insisted that a new Cold War was not in the offing. The Soviets would have been far more cautious about inviting confrontation with the West and fomenting wars in unpredictable caldrons like Syria. Unlike the Soviets who for much of the country’s existence believed that history’s arc bent resolutely in Moscow’s direction, Putin does not believe that time is a commodity he can afford to spend recklessly. The Russian public is restless and dissatisfied, an extraordinarily malleable American president will soon leave office, and financial pressures have compelled the Kremlin to scale back its already unsustainable military expenditures. All these factors make Russia an even more dangerous actor. It would rather risk a major confrontation with the West now than allow this window of opportunity to close unexploited.

    The last paragraph is key. The Obama window of national vulnerability closes in January 2017. Putin and other foreign thugs are all calculating how far they can go in exploiting our current submissiveness without risking a prohibitively severe response from Obama’s successor. The cumulative damage to our interests will be enormous and long lasting and we have not seen the end of it.

    Rothman’s piece is worth reading in full.

    Posted in International Affairs, Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, Obama, War and Peace | 27 Comments »

    “A Letter to Certain Israeli and American Officials”

    Posted by Jonathan on 7th August 2015 (All posts by )

    Chicago Boyz community member Robert Schwartz has some thoughts about the Obama administration’s Iran deal:

    By now I think everybody, who is not sunk into Obama idolatry, agrees that Obama’s deal with the Iranian Regime fails in numerous dimensions. Some day it will be used in business school classes as an object lesson in poor negotiating technique.
     
    Be that as it may, The Deal has been set, and the only remaining issue is whether the Congress of the United States will vote to disapprove it, and be able to override a veto of that resolution. The announcement of opposition by three prominent Congressmen, Reps. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), and the very negative polling results for the Deal, show that this is a possibility.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in International Affairs, Iran, Israel, Middle East, National Security, Obama, Terrorism, USA, War and Peace | 17 Comments »

    What’s With the Trade Bill ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 11th June 2015 (All posts by )

    UPDATE: The reaction is is now coming in.

    That the Republican Establishment has lined up in lockstep with President Obama really tells you all you need to know about the minority wing of the Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Government — ever bigger, ever more secretive, ever more disdainful of American sovereignty and of the voters who put them in office. The measure has already passed in McConnell’s Senate, so its fate is now up to Boehner’s House:

    Here we go !

    For years we have had trade authority granted to presidents as “fast track” authority so the treaties don’t become bidding wars in Congress. The treaty has to be voted up or down as a single entity. This has been done under Democrat and Republican presidents with Republicans usually more in favor of free trade. Under Bill Clinton, we had The North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA which was controversial on issues like Mexican truck drivers qualifications.

    Obama has delayed a trade treaty with Columbia for political reasons for years until the GOP dominated Congress ratified the treaty in 2012, eight years after it was negotiated under Bush.

    Colombia’s Congress approved the agreement and a protocol of amendment in 2007. Colombia’s Constitutional Court completed its review in July 2008, and concluded that the Agreement conforms to Colombia’s Constitution. President Obama tasked the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative with seeking a path to address outstanding issues surrounding the Colombia FTA.[2] The United States Congress then took on the agreement and passed it on October 12, 2011. The agreement went into effect on May 15, 2012.

    At present President Obama is asking for “fast Track Authority” and may finally get it but the opposition is different this time.

    The House will vote Friday on a bill that would give fast-track trade authority to President Barack Obama, a measure likely headed for passage in a close vote after months of lobbying by the White House and business groups.

    Representative Kevin McCarthy, the California Republican who is majority leader, set out in a memo to lawmakers a two-day vote schedule designed to solidify support of Democrats who will back the bill. The House begins Thursday with a measure to promote trade with poorer countries.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Business, Current Events, International Affairs, Obama, Politics | 19 Comments »

    “Dear Heads of Government of the Major Allied Powers”

    Posted by Jonathan on 2nd June 2015 (All posts by )

    Eamon de Valera’s April 1945 missive to Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin:

    After the cease fire, you must begin a peace process (even if, at first, you lack cooperation from your opponents). The first steps in that peace process are: to recognize the Axis Powers’ governments (even if not democratic) to allow all parties to return to their borders as they existed prior to the outbreak of these past regrettable hostilities and finally, to allow international trade to flow freely so that hungry innocents may be fed, clothed, and receive medicine. It is true that this might allow (some of) your enemies to rearm. But my own experts assure me that this possibility is minor. Inconsequential, abstract, and theoretical future risks such as potential rearmament cannot overcome the pressing, real, and current demands of suffering humanity and international law.

    (A parody by Seth Barrett Tillman. Read the whole thing here, or in the Claremont Review of Books, where it appears towards the bottom of the Correspondence page here.)

    Posted in History, Humor, International Affairs, Law, Leftism, Military Affairs, National Security, Political Philosophy, War and Peace | 8 Comments »

    The Energy Crisis in Africa.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 3rd May 2015 (All posts by )

    india-solar-power-2012-640x426

    This is a powerful piece on the cost of environmental extremism to the world’s poor.

    The soaring [food] prices were actually exacerbated (as the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN confirmed) by the diversion of much of the world’s farmland into making motor fuel, in the form of ethanol and biodiesel, for the rich to salve their green consciences. Climate policies were probably a greater contributor to the Arab Spring than climate change itself.

    The use of ethanol in motor fuels is an irrational response to “green propaganda. The energy density of biofuel, as ethanol additives are called, is low resulting in the use of more and more ethanol and less and less arable land for food.

    Without abundant fuel and power, prosperity is impossible: workers cannot amplify their productivity, doctors cannot preserve vaccines, students cannot learn after dark, goods cannot get to market. Nearly 700 million Africans rely mainly on wood or dung to cook and heat with, and 600 million have no access to electric light. Britain with 60 million people has nearly as much electricity-generating capacity as the whole of sub-Saharan Africa, minus South Africa, with 800 million.

    South Africa is quickly destroying its electricity potential with idiotic racist policies.

    Just to get sub-Saharan electricity consumption up to the levels of South Africa or Bulgaria would mean adding about 1,000 gigawatts of capacity, the installation of which would cost at least £1 trillion. Yet the greens want Africans to hold back on the cheapest form of power: fossil fuels. In 2013 Ed Davey, the energy secretary, announced that British taxpayers will no longer fund coal-fired power stations in developing countries, and that he would put pressure on development banks to ensure that their funding policies rule out coal. (I declare a commercial interest in coal in Northumberland.)
    In the same year the US passed a bill prohibiting the Overseas Private Investment Corporation — a federal agency responsible for underwriting American companies that invest in developing countries — from investing in energy projects that involve fossil fuels.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Crony Capitalism, Energy & Power Generation, Environment, International Affairs, Leftism, Politics, Science | 3 Comments »

    The Hillary Clinton bribery story.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 23rd April 2015 (All posts by )

    UPDATE: For those with short attention spans, a new timeline from Ricochet on the Hillary scandal.

    Best tidbit:

    Hillary Clinton’s family’s charities are refiling at least five annual tax returns after a Reuters review found errors in how they reported donations from governments, and said they may audit other Clinton Foundation returns in case of other errors… For three years in a row beginning in 2010, the Clinton Foundation reported to the IRS that it received zero in funds from foreign and U.S. governments, a dramatic fall-off from the tens of millions of dollars in foreign government contributions reported in preceding years.

    Must have been an oversight.

    Today, the New York Times ran a huge story about how Hillary Clinton and Bill took large contributions to their personal “Foundation” to sell US security assets to the Russians.

    The article, in January 2013, detailed how the Russian atomic energy agency, Rosatom, had taken over a Canadian company with uranium-mining stakes stretching from Central Asia to the American West. The deal made Rosatom one of the world’s largest uranium producers and brought Mr. Putin closer to his goal of controlling much of the global uranium supply chain.

    But the untold story behind that story is one that involves not just the Russian president, but also a former American president and a woman who would like to be the next one.

    At the heart of the tale are several men, leaders of the Canadian mining industry, who have been major donors to the charitable endeavors of former President Bill Clinton and his family. Members of that group built, financed and eventually sold off to the Russians a company that would become known as Uranium One.

    Today, Hugh Hewitt interviewed Mitt Romney on this story and Romney stated the obvious.

    What’s your reaction to this story?
    MR: You know, I’ve got to tell you, I was stunned by it. I mean, it looks like bribery. I mean, there is every appearance that Hillary Clinton was bribed to grease the sale of, what, 20% of America’s uranium production to Russia, and then it was covered up by lying about a meeting at her home with the principals, and by erasing emails. And you know, I presume we might know for sure whether there was or was not bribery if she hadn’t wiped out thousands of emails. But this is a very, very serious series of facts, and it looks like bribery.

    Now we know why the e-mails were deleted.

    As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.

    And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.

    I looked at Huffington Post for reaction for the left and they have a story about Republicans and lobbyists.

    About the Hillary story ?

    ZERO !!!!

    This should be the end of her campaign but Democrats seem not to be interested.

    Posted in Crony Capitalism, International Affairs, Military Affairs, Politics, Russia | 18 Comments »

    Drill, Baby, Drill

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 25th March 2015 (All posts by )

    yemen-anti-houthi_3242589b

    It looks like the battle for Saudi Arabia has begun and, if it follows the pattern of other Obama wars, it will be soon lost, or so Richard Fernandez believes.

    Even the New York Times sees it.

    President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi fled Yemen by sea Wednesday as Shiite rebels and their allies moved on his last refuge in the south, captured its airport and put a bounty on his head, officials said.

    The departure of the close U.S. ally and the imminent fall of the southern port of Aden pushed Yemen further toward a violent collapse. It also threatened to turn the impoverished but strategic country into another proxy battle between the Middle East’s Sunni powers and Shiite-led Iran.

    Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies believe the Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, are tools for Iran to seize control of Yemen and say they intend to stop the takeover. The Houthis deny they are backed by Iran.

    The stakes are very high for Europe, especially.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Current Events, Energy & Power Generation, Europe, International Affairs, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, National Security, Obama, Russia, War and Peace | 38 Comments »