Does Putin Back Hillary?

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Democrat standard-bearer Hillary Clinton in happier times. [Credit: thepoliticalcarnival.net]

Perhaps because I’m in Italy, I’ve not been infected by the contagion that has spread more rapidly than the Zika virus: the febrile notion that Russian president Vladimir Putin is subverting our electoral process in an effort to elect Donald J. Trump as president.

Never has such conspiratorial speculation mutated so quickly into received wisdom. Continue reading

Cruz Missiles

Ted Cruz, like every other presidential hopeful, vows to destroy the Islamic State. Should we believe him? [Credit: ABC News]

Ted Cruz, like every other presidential hopeful, vows to destroy the Islamic State. Should we believe him? [Credit: ABC News]

Ted Cruz says we don’t have a dog in the Syrian civil war.  He nevertheless wants to carpet bomb the civil war’s leading belligerent, the Islamic State (IS).  Which just might kill some dogs. Continue reading

There Is No Plan To Destroy The Islamic State

Hillary Clinton presented her plan for defeating the Islamic State recently. It won't work. Nor will those advanced by her Republican opponents. [Credit: NY Daily News]

Hillary Clinton presented her plan for defeating the Islamic State recently. It won’t work. Nor will those advanced by her Republican opponents. [Credit: NY Daily News]

When pressed by a normally docile gaggle of White House reporters recently over whether he would consider changing his failed Syria strategy, President Obama reverted to form: he accused Republicans of religious bigotry and cruelty to children.

His political opponents, he said, believe that “only Christians, proven Christians, should be admitted” as refugees and that we “shouldn’t admit 3-year old-orphans.”

The President’s efforts to divert attention from his foreign policy debacles (which helped make orphans and refugees of three-year-olds) have so far fallen flat.  The vast majority of Americans has lost confidence in his campaign against the Islamic State.  A Washington Post poll found that 57 percent disapprove of the way he’s dealing with the terrorist group – including 46 percent who strongly disapprove – against only 35 percent who support him.

That public sentiment, of little interest to the President, is a leading concern for those vying to succeed him.  Even Bernie Sanders claims to have a plan to destroy the Islamic State. Though they differ in certain respects, most of these plans call for dropping more bombs against more targets from planes flying the flags of more countries (with the possible exception of Russia), providing more arms to factions we don’t really know and can’t really trust, and deploying more military “advisers” (not to be confused with “boots on the ground”) to the region.

All of them suggest that Islamic State can be vanquished with relative ease and at little cost.  All of them are blowing smoke. Continue reading

GOP Debate: Bring Back The CNBC Moderators

GOP Presidential contenders struggled with substantive questions during last week's debate. [Credit: ibtimes.com

GOP Presidential contenders fumbled substantive questions during last week’s debate. [Credit: ibtimes.com]

Donald Trump wants a piece of the Keystone Pipeline.

The issue didn’t come up during last week’s GOP debate, so Trump didn’t have the chance to elaborate on his declaration that he would have approved the project only if the Canadian company forked over 25 percent of its profits.

“I want a piece of the deal,” Trump told Bret Baier of Fox News.  “When I say I want a piece, I’m now representing our country the way I would represent myself.” Continue reading

Is President Obama Right About Putin?

Vladimir Putin delights in outwitting President Obama at every turn. But is the President right when he says the Putin's Syria adventure is "not a smart strategic move?" [Credit: Daily Mail and Getty Images]

Vladimir Putin delights in outwitting President Obama at every turn. But is the President right when he says that Putin’s Syria adventure is “not a smart, strategic move?” [Credit: Daily Mail and Getty Images]

The U.S. and Russia blundered to the brink of nuclear war in 1983 according to recently declassified documents, a reminder that as frayed as relations between President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin have become, things could be far worse.

The NATO exercise that threatened mutually assured destruction began with a fictional scenario that today doesn’t seem all that fictional — Russia delivers arms to Syria and Iran.

Leaders of several Gulf States, threatened by Russian intervention, seek U.S. military involvement, according to the scenario.  The President responds by dispatching military advisers to the region and increasing our naval presence there.

As the NATO war game played out, rising tensions eventually provoke Russian military aggression against its neighbors.  The U.S. President, in response to a request from his military commanders, authorizes the “limited use of nuclear weapons against pre-selected fixed targets.”

Russian military leaders who observed the NATO exercise concluded that the U.S. was plotting a real nuclear strike against the Soviet Union.  American intelligence officials had no idea at the time how badly the Soviets were misreading our intentions or how close the world was drawing toward nuclear conflagration.  War was averted.  But just barely, if the newly declassified intelligence assessments are to be believed.

Today, Russia is doing far more than merely supplying arms to Syria and Iran, leaving President Obama frustrated and flummoxed, but not fumbling for the nuclear launch codes.  Instead, the President watches helplessly as Vladimir Putin asserts himself in a region where the U.S. once held sway, vaguely warning that Russian intervention is “not a smart, strategic move.”

He may be right. Continue reading

Hope And (Regime) Change

Our drive-by intervention accomplished regime change in Libya, but the country has still not recovered from its liberation. [Credit: National Post]

Our drive-by intervention accomplished regime change in Libya, but the country has still not recovered from its liberation. [Credit: National Post]

The Constitution requires President Obama to leave office in 700 days.  If he has his way, Vladimir Putin and Benjamin Netanyahu will precede him into private life.

It should not be surprising that a President who prides himself on refusing to negotiate with elected representatives has so little patience with some of his fellow national leaders.  Or that regime change has become a leading characteristic of the President’s foreign policy.   Continue reading

Why Are We At War With The Islamic State?

Iraqi security forces and Shiite militia are among the ground troops on whom we rely in our war against the Islamic State. [Credit: Reuters]

Iraqi security forces and Shiite militia are among the ground troops on whom we rely in our war against the Islamic State. Their brutality rivals that of IS. [Credit: Reuters]

[The soldiers] dragged residents up to age 70 from their homes, beating and cursing them with sectarian slurs, Abu Omar [one of the survivors] told Reuters by phone.  He said the fighters took the men’s mobiles and ID cards, then bound their hands, tying Abu Omar to his 12-year-old mentally ill son with rope. They did the same with his two older sons and three brothers.

The men were led a few hundred yards to a field where Abu Omar said more than a hundred others had been gathered.  For about two hours, they were forced to kneel and stare at the ground as the fighters selected their targets and led them to a spot behind a mud wall.

“They took them behind the wall. Less than a minute, then a gunshot,” said Abu Omar. “All we could hear was the gunshots. We couldn’t see.”

This atrocity, which claimed the lives of 72 unarmed people in a village in Iraq’s Diyala Province, was not carried out by the Islamic State (IS). It was perpetrated by our allies in the war against IS — Iraqi security forces and Shiite militia. Continue reading

Winning By Not Winning In Iraq and Syria

U.S. airstrikes have slowed the progress of Islamic State fighters, but the war may drag on for years. Why that's good for us. [Credit: Telegraph]

U.S. airstrikes have slowed the progress of Islamic State fighters, but the war may drag on for years. Why that’s good for us. [Credit: Telegraph]

The President was asked a simple question a few weeks ago: are we winning the war against the Islamic State?

He wouldn’t answer the question directly, so I will.  We’re winning in Iraq and Syria by not winning.  The net effect of our actions has so far been to keep extremist Muslims of various ethnicities and sectarian passions engaged in war against … each other.  And that may be the best possible outcome in the circumstances. Continue reading

President’s Iraq Strategy Avoids Doing Nothing … But How Will It End?

A Libyan rebel for whom we provided air support celebrates in 2011. Today those same rebels have reduced the country to bloody chaos. Will our bombing in Iraq and Syria produce a better result? [Credit: The Guardian]

A Libyan rebel for whom we provided air support celebrates in 2011. Today those same rebels have reduced the country to bloody chaos. Will our bombing in Iraq and Syria produce a better result? [Credit: The Guardian]

The black flag of jihad flies over much of the country.  City after city has fallen to islamist insurgents.  Militants burn houses and attack ethnic minorities and journalists.   The popularly elected government, powerless to stop the onslaught, appeals for outside help.  Fearing that the country is fast becoming a “terrorist hub,” a Western government this week sought to “mobilize the international community” to launch a war against the jihadists.

Iraq?  No.  Libya, a country where we conducted airstrikes in 2011 in support of an odd assortment of ground forces that included more than its share of misfits and fanatics.

If that strategy produced such a miserable result in Libya, can we reasonably expect it to work in Iraq and Syria? Continue reading

Hamas And Progressivism

Hamas fighters celebrated the arrival of Islamic law in Gaza in 2007.  But the group, a darling of progressives, still has not succeeded in destroying Israel. [Credit: Telegraph.uk]

Hamas fighters celebrated the arrival of Islamic law in Gaza in 2007. But the group, a darling of progressives, still has not succeeded in destroying Israel. [Credit: Telegraph.uk]

“The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!”  Hamas Charter, Article VII

“Understanding Hamas [and] Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the left, that are part of a global left, is extremely important.”  Berkeley Professor Judith Butler

The war that pits Israel against the progressive social movement known as Hamas has returned to dormancy.  The most recent outbreak of bloodshed did not end with rocks and trees turning Jews over to their Muslim pursuers for extermination.  The global left will have to wait for history to progress to that genocidal outcome. Continue reading