Archive for category Foreign Policy

Democrat Unseriousness on Islamism – Again

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Cloud Cuckooland) has appointed Andre Carson (D-IN) to serve on the Permanent House Select Committee on Intelligence.

Rep. Carson is a Muslim, which in and of itself would not be problematic.  If, say, Dr. Zudhi Jasser or Dr. Qanta Ahmed were to be elected to Congress, I can’t think of a place where they should be more welcomed.

But Rep. Carson is no Dr. Ahmed or Dr. Jasser.  Rep. Carson is both a fan of and beloved by the Muslim Brotherhood’s political operations here in the United States.  Carson has a long history of associating with the Islamic Circle of North America and the Muslim American Society, both groups recognized by Egypt and the UAE as being part of the Muslim Brotherhood’s American political and influence operations.

The appointment comes a week after a set of bloody Islamist attacks in France, and less than a month after Egyptian President Sisi, whose country exists in a state of low-grade warfare against the Brotherhood, issued what amounted to a call for an Islamic reformation.

The appointment puts someone with close ties to America’s enemies on its most sensitive committee, and the one most directly involved with fighting that threat here and overseas.  Why on earth would you give someone like that access to a routine diet of sensitive operational and finished intelligence?

Given the fact that the mainstream media has mostly reported on the novelty of having a Muslim on the Intelligence Committee, the question answers itself.  Pelosi is looking to court a voting bloc, another of the Democrats’ increasingly incompatible identity interest groups in its increasingly unstable and incoherent coalition.  That is also helps to prove that America is no place for the oft-heralded, never-materialized backlash against Muslims.  Pelosi and most Democrats have long since acquiesced in CAIR’s and the MAS’s assertions that the worst thing about terrorist murders is that Muslims might be blamed for them.  What better way to prove that’s not the case than to put an Islamist sympathizer on the committee most responsible for overseering America’s conduct of its war on That Which Has Nothing To Do With Islam?

This is deranged.

It’s the equivalent of putting an actual Communist, say, Ron Dellums of California, on the Committee, or on the Pike Committee, the House’s equivalent of the Church Committee.  Oh, wait, they did that, too, back in the early 70s.
The Democrats have been fundamentally unserious about national defense for generations at this point.  It doesn’t bode well for the country when one of its two major parties derides missile defense as destabilizing, while putting a friend of the most civilizationally destabilizing force on the planet on the Intelligence Committee.

,

No Comments

What Snowden and North Korea Have In Common

What do the Snowden leaks and the North Korean attack on Sony have in common?  (Other than large authoritarian patrons, that is.)

They’re both textbook examples of hostile foreign intelligence operations, Snowden targeting the NSA, the Norks tarketing Sony.

First, target the opposition with damaging leaks.  These aren’t just routine leaks that make an organization look bad to people who don’t like them anyway.  They’re leaks designed to separate the target from its friends.  In the case of the NSA, it was driving a wedge between the NSA and the American public who depend on a robust intelligence-gathering operation for national protection.  In Sony’s case, it was the release of emails between a studio head and a very successful producer making fun of the president, with a racial element, and complaints about the behavior of some of the more popular people in Hollywood.  This had the effect of separating the studio from its natural allies in liberal Hollywood.

The leaks might have done some mostly transient damage on their own.  But really, they were just wrong-footing the target, and making it both emotionally difficult and politically unpopular to come to their defense when the real attack happened.  When George Clooney tries to “explain” why nobody came to Sony’s defense, he’s totally missing that part – Sony had been effectively isolated already.  Once Amy Pascal got caught assuming that President Obama only like movies with black actors, or with black themes, nobody wanted to be on their side.

So now, momentarily unpopular, the target is trying to figure out how to deal with the PR tsunami they’re on the wrong side of.  Sony is used to defining the narrative, the NSA used to not being a part of any narrative.  This is unfamiliar territory for them.

At that point, the actual attack part of the operation.  In the case of the NSA, this meant revealing foreign intelligence operations, the kind of things we expect our intelligence services to be doing, damaging relationships with our allies,  revealing sources and methods to our enemies, and forcing the agency to defend itself for doing its job.

In the case of Sony, the attack was different – threaten the theater’s revenue stream and make sure that it got the message about what is and isn’t acceptable to produce, and make them look weak and feckless in the process.  The weak point was the theater chains.  It’s been rightly pointed out that once they decided not to show the film, there wasn’t much Sony could do about regular distribution.  But none of that mattered, as Sony took the additional PR hit of looking as though it was directly caving to pressure from the guy Jonah Goldberg likes to call, the Pillsbury Doughboy from Hell.

If all this sounds familiar to critics of President Obama who are also conversant with political theory, it should.  Some of these elements are part and parcel of Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” in the political arena.  Not for nothing are some of my friends currently and formerly in the intelligence community among the foremost admirers of Alinsky’s genius, if not his aims or the effect he’s had on the US political culture.  Much of what he did amounts to applying hostile intelligence operations to domestic politics.

Personally, I think this transition is incredibly poisonous to the body politic.  It’s helpful to have a default position of “distrust” when it comes to foreign countries, even our allies.  (When someone asks why we would spy on our friends, the correct response is, “To make sure they still are.)  Countries all have diverse interests which won’t necessarily coincide with ours, their foreign policy decision-making processes are usually at-best translucent and often opaque.  It’s entirely reasonable to believe that, short of the actual annihilation of humanity, countries are in competition at a very basic level.

Little if any of that should hold for fellow Americans of different political parties.  Our system, as an open one, only works if we can basically trust that everyone has the country’s best interests at heart, even has basically the same goals in mind, and we’re more or less arguing over how to get there.  The problem with Alinskyite politics isn’t that it’s effective – it’s that its effectiveness comes at the price of an overarching sense of community and trust that’s necessary for the country’s politics to operate.  I know for a fact there are plenty of conservatives who think that Obama is working for the enemy, and while I don’t share that mindset, I also don’t think he always puts the country’s goals first, or thinks that US power and prosperity are necessarily good things – he’s as much said so on any number of occasions.  What’s worse, the Alinsky Attitude leads him to try to criminalize political opposition, something that’s never really happened before here in the US.  When you treat routine political opposition like activity hostile to the country, the mutual suspicions you engender are liable to linger on for a long time.

In any case, what is so clear in the realm of domestic politics, or in the Sony case, should be equally clear in the Snowden Operation.  But it’s also another reason as to why the motives of the leaker matter.  And what’s more, you can start to figure some of this out before the actual attack happens.

In either case, if we had been thinking, “You know, the guys leaking this stuff might not really have our best interests at heart, and maybe we want to discount our level of outrage over this accordingly,” the second part of the attack would have been blunted, because we would have see Part II with eyes more sympathetic to the target.

Instead of bugging Merkel’s phones (which now, it seems, may not have happened at all) being seen as yet another diabolical plot by an agency bent on being the World Repository for Everything You’ve Ever Said or Written, they would have seemed like what they look like now – the kind of thing you want your spy agencies up to.   Sure, we got there eventually, more or less, but in the interim Putin was able to make all kinds of mischief in Ukraine and elsewhere, while our intelligence community was busily defending its right to exist.

Instead of thinking, “Wow, I sure don’t want to stand up for those guys,” much of Hollywood would have instead been scrambling to find some way to help their competitor, or potential future employer or partner find a way to distribute their movie, and we would have been thinking, “Wow, this sure stinks for Sony to be stuck in this position, doesn’t it?”  From what I saw on social media, people were upset at being dictated to by Kim, but felt betrayed by Sony, and only to a much lesser extent by the theater chains.

What does this mean for the next time?  Mostly, it means that motives matter, and need to be taken into account.  And it means that people who fall for the initial narrative – mostly libertarians over the NSA, and liberals over Sony – are getting played by our enemies.  We’re trained by our political culture not to look at motives; questions about motives are seen as ad hominem, secondary to the issue at best, and gutter politics at worst.  It’s another reason to hate what Chicago Gangster Government has done to us, but it’s really just good, basic counterintelligence work, which is what we’re dealing with when we’re dealing with foreign governments and their agents.

The irony is that the kind of Stage 1 attack is, at heart, ad hominem about motives.  The NSA must have nefarious motives for collecting phone metadata.  Sony must be populated with jerks (above and beyond normal Hollywood standards) and racists (of the wrong sort).

We can yell at each other, divide ourselves up into red team and blue team, fight tooth and nail for this or that office or over this or that bill.  But when a foreign entity launches an attack of any kind – even, or perhaps especially – one that seeks to divide us, we need to have the self-discipline not to bite.  There’s nothing the matter with questioning the motives of those whose first goal is to get us to question our neighbors.

, , , , , ,

No Comments

25 Years

Twenty-five years ago tonight, I stood in my apartment in Arlington, Virginia, and watched Berlin free itself.

It was a moment I really never thought I would see.

The Wall had been built in 1961, five years before I was born, so to me, it was eternal.  It was built to prevent the East German dictatorship from turning into a land without a people.  Berliners, and Germans in general, were using the Allied Sectors as an escape hatch in growing numbers, and the East Germans were putting pressure on the Soviets to do something about it. Having found Kennedy weak, Khrushchev acted.  The wall went up, and the city divided.

Escapes – successful and failed – became the stuff of legend.  People tunneled under, jumped over, drove through, and just sneaked across.  Checkpoint Charlie – the official crossing between East and West – assumed a mythic status in the Cold War imagination, for exchanges, infiltrations, and releases both real and fictional.

Over time, the embarrassment of the Wall exceeded the embarrassment of the East German exodus:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtYdjbpBk6A

The Wall, built in 1961, just like the tyranny that put it there, was a fixture.  And then, it wasn’t.

Now, there are pieces of the wall all over the world, although, perhaps surprisingly, not in every former Soviet bloc country.  Pictures of these segments invariably show the spray-painted western side, because it’s more visually arresting and more colorful.  That’s almost always the side that’s displayed, where the little plaques explaining the history are placed, as well.

That’s a mistake, and it’s one that reprises a mistake we made during the Cold War itself.  American tourists were often disappointed.  “It’s just a wall,” they’d complain, after having seen it.  They should showcase the drab, dull grey side instead.  For the West, the Wall was just a wall; for the East, it was a prison.  Let the spectators see the other side first, and have to circle around to see the colors.

In a very real sense, the wall isn’t gone.  Forty years of separation, 28 years of the Wall, effected a lasting societal change:

Not everyone is happy about this change.  During the Day at the Capitol for the JCRC, in the House gallery, I sat next to an older gentleman, representing one of the JCRC’s organizations.  It turned out he was a retired American diplomat, back from a long-term posting in Leipzig, in the former East Germany.  To break the ice, I mentioned something about the Leipzig Trade Fair, and then offered what I assumed was a fairly innocuous observation about how the people there are better off since the fall of Communism.  At first, I wasn’t sure he had heard me, so I tried again.

In fact, I had stumbled across not an American patriot, but a Communist fellow-traveler.  What followed was an hour-long discussion that could have happened during my college days, complete with assertions that East Germany was free for certain values of “free.”  With representatives like that, it at once became clear to me why it took 70 years to win the Cold War.

No Comments

Liberals And Your Soul

Remember when Michelle Obama promised that Barack would heal our broken souls?  In my lifetime, that’s pretty much been the refrain of liberalism – a concern for the well-being of your souls, if not of yourselves, despite the stereotype that this is a feature of the religious right.  It goes to the heart of the liberal trope that intentions matter more than results, and that government action is inherently more virtuous than private initiative.

It turns out this was a characteristic of liberalism even when it was relatively new and driven by Evangelical concerns.  From Paul Johnson’s The Birth of the Modern, and his chapter on Britain’s rise in the role of World Policeman, comes this description of the conflicting British attitudes about the Barbary pirates and their slavery:

The West’s supine attitude toward the horrors of Barbary piracy had long aroused fury in some quarters.  Officers of the British navy were particularly incensed since seamen were frequently victims of the trade.  They could not understand why the huge resources of the world’s most powerful fleet were not deployed to root out this evil affront to the international law of the sea, once and for all.  They could not understand why liberal parliamentarians, who campaigned ceaselessly to outlaw the slave trade by parliamentary statute, took no interest in Christian slavery….But William Wilberforce, MP, and the other Evangelical liberals, who finally got the slave trade made unlawful in 1807, flatly refused to help.  They were concerned with the enslavement of blacks by whites and did not give the predicament of white slaves a high priority on their agenda, an early example of double standards.

I’m sure this account of Wilberforce is going to make some people unhappy, but it shouldn’t be taken as ad hominem.  He’s merely the most prominent representative of the cause, and therefore of the cause’s flaws.  Liberalism suffered from double standards when it was new, and now that it’s old, when it was religious, and now that it’s secular.

, ,

No Comments

Transcription Services

The media appear to have bought, without question, the White House line that the publication of the name of the CIA station chief in Afghanistan was accidental.

It might have been accidental; it’s certainly the simplest explanation.  Someone puts together a list of military personnel meeting with the President during his scandal-distraction photo-op visit.  The station chief, being under cover, is on the list.  The guy transcribing the list isn’t really paying attention, and he writes down the name, and sends it out to the press.  He has an embarrassing “oops” moment, and then sends out another list without the name, which only succeeds in drawing more attention to him.  You could completely see someone who’s been promoted beyond his level of functional literacy doing this.

If so, I can understand the reluctance to throw the poor schlub to the wolves, but a man’s life has been put in danger here.  He can probably find employment elsewhere doing something.  Too bad for his bureaucratic career, but I wouldn’t want to place anyone else’s life in his fat-fingered little hands.

And it might have been deliberate by whoever did it. I can think of a number motivations for an underling having done so.  None of these is a good reason; people have been known to do all manner of damage while thinking that they were doing the right thing.

First, and basest, the leaker may have had a personal grudge of some sort against the station chief.  It’s been known to happen.  It’s also pretty much the single most unprofessional thing someone could do, and deserves swift and unmerciful punishment.

It’s also possible that the leaker had a professional complaint.  Perhaps the station chief was obstructing some administration policy, or proving to be an effective voice in opposition to some policy change.  Perhaps the CIA operation in Afghanistan as a whole was proving to be difficult to dislodge, or to move on some question.  This is localized – and dirty – bureaucratic warfare.

It’s also possible that this is bureaucratic warfare of a more generalized kind.  This administration has managed to centralize control of foreign policy to a degree unusual for any administration.  One organization that steadfastly and successfully resists that kind of political centralization is the CIA, largely because of its finely-tuned skeleton sensors, and talent for exhuming bodies.  By exposing the name of the station chief, not only would it throw the Agency off-balance at a key time, it would also send a message to other field officers that they aren’t safe, either.

Up until, oh, January of 2009, this sort of behavior would have been unthinkable.  But then, up until January of 2009, having the FEC and the Attorney General coordinate with the IRS on the auditing and prosecution of political opponents would have been unthinkable, too.

When we had a real WH press corps, they would have considered those alternatives and asked questions about who did it. They certainly wouldn’t have meekly accepted an innocent explanation – especially from an administration with a track record like this one when it comes to explanations.

For a group that derides extended quotes as “transcription,” they’ve looked a lot like a White House transcription service for about 5 1/2 years now.

No Comments

The State Department Responds

Our State Department’s idea of a coordinated response to Putin’s aggression in Crimea is – wait for it – a hashtag.  This afternoon, using her official State Department Spokesman Twitter account, Jen Psaki tweeted out this picture and text:

That hashtag was later used by embassy staff, as well, so apparently they’re invested in this.  Also note that @BarackObama is not the twitter account for the President or the White House, but rather Organizing For Action, the official/unofficial campaign arm of the Obama Administration.  That account has been tweeting heavily about Obamacare, the minimum wage, and immigration, along with touting their official OFA Store Grand Opening, but nothing about Ukraine, so it appears that the @StateDeptSpox doesn’t even know how to properly reference her boss on her social media of choice.  Way to go, guys.

Under Barack Obama, the State Department has gone from incompetent (remember the Reset that was actually “Overcharged”), to dangerously incompetent (Cairo and Benghazi), to delusional (the Palestinian “peace process”), to now simply being an embarrassment.  It’s going to be a long three years.

, , ,

No Comments

Grayson’s Parallel Universe

Alan Grayson (D-Cloud Cuckooland), has long been given to weird and outrageous comments.  A cursory search reveals many of them, including his speech in favor of Obamacare, claiming that Republicans “want you to die quickly.”  Presumably this is to differentiate them from the Democrats who want to place in charge of your health care, a bureaucracy utterly indifferent to your fate.

Yesterday, he delivered one of the more stunning apologias for tyranny that I’ve been privileged to witness since the end of the Cold War, in his defense of Putin’s wrenching of the Crimea, and most of Ukraine’s Navy, away from Ukraine.

Now, you may say that he (Yanukovich) was thrown out of office for good reason. There are allegations against him that he was corrupt. There are allegations against him that he used the military against his own people to stay in power. But the fact is that from the perspective of the Crimeans, their leader, the one that they placed in charge of their country, was thrown out of power.

So it should come as no surprise, as Secretary Kerry recognized, that the Crimeans had had enough, and they wanted to leave this artificial entity called “The Ukraine.” Now, in fact, the Russians did assist. They assisted by disarming the local Ukrainian Army and Navy, that’s what they did, and they did it virtually bloodlessly. They did it so the Ukrainian Army and Navy could not interfere in the referendum that was held.

That’s the fact of the matter. Why are we pretending otherwise? Why are we speaking about “naked aggression?” Why are we speaking about “stealing Crimea?” Why are we speaking about bullying, or the new Soviet Union, or thuggery, or audacious power-grabbing, or “Bully-Bear Putin,” or Cold War II? I’m surprised that Judge Poe didn’t tell us that he was saddened that the Iron Curtain had descended over Sevastopol.

This fact is, as the Chairman has recognized, this is not some new Cold War that is occurring. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. We should be pleased to see – pleased to see – when a virtually bloodless transfer of power establishes self-determination for two million people somewhere in the world, anywhere in the world.

And in fact, what we’re seeing here, instead, is the vilification of Putin, the vilification of Yanukovich, the vilification of anybody who we try to identify as our enemy. Before that it was Saddam Hussein. Before, and since then, it’s been Assad. This does not help. The basic principle here is self-determination, that’s what’s happened in the Crimea, and it’s not for us to determine otherwise.s

These comments are best described by Mary McCarthy’s critique of Lillian Hellman’s writing.  Others, such as California’s Dana Rohrabacher, opposed sanctions on the grounds that they wouldn’t serve US interests. That’s a debatable proposition, but at least it’s debatable, and the people putting it forward appear to live in the same universe as the rest of us.  Grayson appears to have been starring in a trailer for an upcoming science fiction movie involving travel between worlds.

As noted before, Grayson has a history of this sort of nonsense, usually directed at Republicans, so it barely causes a ripple.  If we had an actual media, they’d ask every Democratic member of Congress about Grayson’s absurdities, but there’s little hope of that.

There is, however, some hope that the voters of Florida will rid us of this turbulent representative.  He was first elected, somewhat narrowly, Florida’s 8th District, in 2008, and then crushed by Republican Daniel Webster in 2010 in the same district.  Redistricting seems to have given him a new lease on political life, as it put Webster in the 10th, and Grayson in the 9th, where once again, he was returned to office.  Perhaps, after November 2014, with Obama having turned from aid to anchor, Grayson will once again have to find gainful employment outside of the public payroll.

, , ,

No Comments

Springtime for Putin

Last week, I posted a comment on Facebook to the effect that I was waiting for the Pat Buchanan column defending Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as a defense of traditional conservative values.  I meant it as a joke, but he seems to have taken it as a challenge.

In a remarkable Townhall.com column, Buchanan takes Hillary Clinton to task for comparing Putin’s motives to Hitler’s in 1935-39. Then he does the same thing, in order to exonerate Putin. In doing so, he has to exonerate Hitler. It’s the Double-Reverse Godwin, and he gets 6.0 from the German judge!  And the Russian judge!  The only thing missing was a description of how it’s all Israel’s fault, or the Jewish lobby’s fault, although I guess this is only a few hundred-word column, and he has to leave something for the long program.

Here’s Buchanan’s take on the events of 1935-1939:

He imposed conscription in 1935, sent his soldiers back into the Rhineland in 1936, annexed Austria in 1938, demanded and got the return of the Sudeten Germans from Czechoslovakia at Munich in 1938.

He then sought to negotiate with the Polish colonels, who had joined in carving up Czechoslovakia, a return of Danzig, when the British issued a war guarantee to Warsaw stiffening Polish spines.

Enraged by Polish intransigence, Hitler attacked. Britain and France declared war. The rest is history.

It’s not often you get to read histories from a parallel universe in a political journal.  Hitler didn’t just get the return of the Sudeten Germans, he got the Sudetenland, which included the only serious geographic obstacle to the rest of Czechoslovakia.  In-between Munich and Hitler’s, ah, “negotiations” with the Poles, Hitler walked into Bohemia, Moravia, and Prague, effectively annexing the rest of Czecholovakia and along with it, the Skoda Works.  Although not very many more Germans.

It’s true that Poland fought a series of short, unpleasant border wars with most of its neighbors, and that it took advantage of Munich to settle some leftover business with Prague. (Paul Johnson in Modern Times suggests that that’s at least part of the reason why Poland didn’t have any local friends when its own day of reckoning came.) It’s also true that Zaolzie bore none of the strategic or military significance that the Sudetenland did, and that the Poles didn’t exactly have the same strategic ambitions as did Germany.

Hitler wasn’t going to get Gdansk/Danzig without a fight, and he knew it.  But he didn’t just walk in an take the Polish Corridor.  He shelled Warsaw for weeks, and partitioned the entire country between himself and Stalin.  So according to Buchanan, Hitler needed Prague to secure the Sudetenland, and he needed Warsaw to secure Danzig.

If I were living in Kiev right now, I’m not sure I’d find that encouraging.

No Comments

John Kerry – Raising the Bar for Wrongness

The Olympics are coming up, and in the judged sports, like figured skating, we’ll hear a lot about the judges deliberately grading skaters down in order to “leave room” for later competitors who might do better.  If we were to judge the Obama Administration on wrongness, we’d probably have given up and just awarded a perfect score a long time ago, but that wouldn’t have left room for the continuing improvements being demonstrated.

The latest comes via the Weekly Standard, which reports these remarks by Secretary of State John Kerry:

We talked about the common interest of Pope Francis and President Obama in addressing poverty and extreme poverty on a global basis. The United States of America is deeply involved in efforts in Africa and in other parts of the world – in Asia, South Central Asia – to address this poverty, as is the Catholic Church. And so we have a huge common interest in dealing with this issue of poverty, which in many cases is the root cause of terrorism or even the root cause of the disenfranchisement of millions of people on this planet.

The idea that poverty is the cause of terrorism has been so thoroughly debunked – most suicide bombers come from middle-class families, bin Laden was the wealthy son of a wealthy construction contractor, etc. – that his statement on the merits is hardly worth addressing.

That said, the second part of his statement, where he says that he and Theresa have therefore decided to set an example by donating their entire fortune to the Palestinian people, is really quite remarkable.

Ha, just kidding.  Of course, he didn’t say anything of the sort.  The solution, as always, will be to transfer billions of dollars of wealth from the middle-class and aspiring lower-class earners of the developed countries to the corrupt coffers of their “governments,” many of whom actively support terrorism, even as they pose as the most-reasonable-least-bad-alternative, in order to continue padding their Swiss bank accounts.  (Would that we pursued those half as assiduously as we went after law-abiding Americans with overseas money.)

In other words, Kerry wants to redistribute my future to people who want to kill me, enabling them to better do so, and feeding the contempt which is the real source of their murderousness.

Of course, Kerry himself won’t turn over his fortune to this good cause in defense of his countrymen.  He’ll pay some nominal increase in taxes, and continue to enjoy marvelous security at taxpayer expense (for a while) and then his own (for a while).

It’s really the foreign policy equivalent of Obama’s domestic policies.  Nobody thinks he or his rich backers from Silicon Valley are going to suffer from redistributionist policies.  It’s the middle-class and those just starting out who will see their futures bargained away, while the rest of us join the permanent renter class.

Foreign policy naivete combined with cronyism – the administration may finally have earned that Perfect 10.

No Comments

Volunteering For Our Own Victimization

Michael Doran of the Brookings Institution argues that the Iran deal is this days well-known version of the danegeld, in this case, making substantive concessions just for the purpose of keeping talks going:

…In my view, there will never be a final agreement. What the administration just initiated was, rather, a long and expensive process by which the West pays Iran to refrain from going nuclear. We are, in essence, paying Ayatollah Khamenei to negotiate with us. We just bought six months. What was the price?

We shredded the six United Nations Security Council resolutions that ordered the Islamic Republic to abandon all enrichment and reprocessing activities. We exposed fractures in the coalition against Iran. And we started building a global economic lobby that is dedicated to eroding the sanctions that we have generated through a decade of hard, very hard, diplomatic work.

It’s a dynamic that Washington has repeatedly foisted on Israel in its dealings with the Palestinians.  For all that, it’s hard to argue with any of Doran’s conclusions, and the incoherence with which Obama and Kerry are defending the agreement is the hallmark of an agreement with its own internal incoherence.  Smart, sensible dealings rarely need intellectual gymnastics in their defense.

Doran also suggests another parallel with the worst of the Israel-Palestinian dynamic, the attempt to build goodwill with our enemy through gestures:

In my view, that free hand was already visible in the chemical weapons deal that Obama cut with Syria’s Bashar al-Asad. I have long suspected that Obama’s retreat from Syria was prompted, in part, by his desire to generate Iranian goodwill in the nuclear negotiations. The evidence for that case is growing by the day. We now learn, for example, that the administration had opened a bilateral backchannel to Tehran well before the Syria crisis. I can only assume that the president backed away from the use of force against Assad because, in part, he saw the Syria challenge as a subset of the Iranian nuclear negotiation.

I’ve been working my way through Witness, Whittaker Chambers’s remarkable tour through the authoritarian mind.  In it, he tells this story in passing:

He [Sam Krieger] explained that he had once been a Wobbly (a member of the International Workers of the World).  He had been arrested somewhere in the West for some radical activity.  The Civil Liberties Union had come to his rescue, and Krieger had at last gone free.  For Roger Baldwin, the head of the Civil Liberties Union, he had a respect quite unusual among Communists.  For while Communists make full use of liberals and their solicitudes, and sometimes flatter them to their faces, in private they treat them with that sneering contempt that the strong and predatory almost invariably feel for victims who volunteer to help in their own victimization.

I’m quite certain that’s how the mullahs think of us.  The figures in Witness are all long dead, and many are kept alive in memory only through their inclusion in this book.  But the authoritarian mind goes on and on.

, , ,

No Comments