Syria Strike

Just was watching Twitter for an extended period of time tonight – astonished at the wide variety of heart felt, differing opinions about it. Some Trumpsters upset, some Never Trumpers finding a strange, new respect for Trump. Honest questions. Sincere hopes. Support for the troops without cheap rah-rah patriotism. It was refreshing.

I don’t know what will come of this – I’m not sure I support the action (though I support the actions of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, of course). I hope there is a plan behind all this – there could be, and it might work out to a brilliant stroke of diplomacy backed by military force (the only sort of diplomacy which actually works, by the way). We’ll just have to see.

A Test of Decency: Supporting Israel

I’m sure everyone has had at least some look at Secretary of State Kerry’s speech – mostly it’s just a recitation of things Obama and his Administration have been saying for nearly 8 years; but when coupled with our abstention in the UN, it actually shows a policy which is just flat wrong.

The basic US policy has been for a Two State solution – and this remains the most logical way to assure basic justice and freedom for everyone. But a Two State solution has some firm requirements – first and foremost that all major Palestinian political groups acknowledge Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign, Jewish nation. Right up to now, there has yet to be any firm commitment by any of the Palestinian leadership on this. A bit of lip service from the so-called “moderates”, but no concrete effort to get the bulk of the Palestinian leadership on board with the idea, while the propaganda put out for consumption by the Palestinian people indicates no desire for the existence of a Jewish State. Other requirements are that the Palestinians acknowledge Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel and that the 1967 borders are a dead letter – whatever borders are eventually made will have to be made by free and fair negotiations between the two sides. Finally, whatever settlement is made must have as a key element the inability of the Palestinians to reverse by military means the final settlement – Israel’s military security must be paramount.

It must be kept in mind that the eastern part of Jerusalem and the West Bank was conquered by Israel in defensive war. It was the Palestinian/Arab/Muslim side of the conflict which was preparing apocalyptic war against Israel in 1967, not the other way around. As it relates to a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, those who lead the Palestinians in 1967 gambled on war, and lost. Badly. And, so far, no one on the Palestinian side has acknowledged either their war-guilt, nor their crushing defeat (histories produced for the youth of the Muslim world still claim that it was US and British intervention which caused their defeat…they just won’t admit that the Jews beat them). Traditionally, those who launch a war and then lose are in no position to make demands. Now, a wise people will be merciful in victory – magnanimous, even. The Israelis have shown time and time again that they are willing to go quite far towards the needs of the Palestinians in pursuit of peace. In fact, things like the Oslo Accords probably went a bit too far towards the Palestinian position. At the end of the day, any peace deal will leave a very hostile people with authority deep in Israel’s strategic vitals – it would be like us making a peace with an enemy and allowing them to live just outside of Washington, DC.

The problem with the position of the Obama Administration is that by their policies they have entirely undercut any ability to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians. By saying we want a return to the 1967 border, by saying we consider all settlements to be illegal, by saying that Israel has no rights in Judea and Samaria, we are essentially saying to the Palestinian leadership that Israel, itself, is on the negotiating block. What else is there? If our position is for the Israelis to surrender what they won in defensive war, then what is there to negotiate about save Palestinian designs upon the territory of Israel? And that is how the Palestinian leadership views it. Remember, 30 years ago such leadership were hunted criminals in exile…by action of the “peace process”, they have been allowed to return home and erect a government in the West Bank and Gaza and take full control over large numbers of Palestinian people. And what have they given up? Nothing. They haven’t given up terrorism. They haven’t given up the so-called “right of return” (and, remember, that right of return is a claimed right to return to Israel for those who left in 1948 and their descendants). They haven’t given up their position that Israel, itself, is illegitimate. Now they’ve got a US Administration saying that we back them in demands for all the pre-1967 territory…which includes the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem. Roll that around a bit – the Jewish Quarter is “illegally occupied territory”. No word about how the Jewish Quarter was ethnically-cleansed of it’s ancient, Jewish population by the Arabs in the aftermath of the 1948 war. Such a policy is the result of sheer stupidity, or an anti-Israel view. It can’t be anything other than one of those two views…unless it is a combination of both.

The proper position for us to take is that Jerusalem is entirely Israeli, forever, and that the rest of Judea and Samaria is up for negotiation. We must also insist that all of the Palestinian leadership renounce in public the “right of return”, as well as acknowledging that Israel will exist after the peace deal as a Jewish State. To do otherwise is just to play into the hands of the most radical elements of the Palestinian leadership – because doing otherwise allows them to tell their people, “see, we’re pushing them back: just keep with us and eventually we’ll push the Jews into the sea”. And if the Palestinian leadership will not or cannot make such declarations, then there is no possibility of peace. Peace requires that the Palestinian leadership acknowledge Israel and it’s Jewish character. If there isn’t that, then the Palestinian leadership has determined upon continued war.

Leave aside notions of “illegally occupied”. Also, forget about supposed prohibitions against population transfers. Constantinople is “illegally occupied”…heck, a stronger case can be made on that than on any Israeli occupation. Remember, Israel got the West Bank in defensive war – Constantinople was taken in aggressive and entirely unjustified war. And if we’re going to get hung up on population transfers as part of a permanent peace deal, then what is one to say to all the Germans – and their descendants – who used to live in East Prussia and Silesia? The Greeks and the Turks settled their affairs in the 1920’s by population transfers. This is a tricky situation and there aren’t a lot of cut-and-dried things about it (for instance, a good number – perhaps a large majority – of the Palestinian population are descendants of people who arrived in Palestine after Zionist immigration started…it was the rising prosperity of Palestine created by the Zionists which induced many Arabs to move to Palestine in the early part of the 20th century; what is today Israel and the West Bank was a burned-out wasteland 150 years ago – the population of Jerusalem was only a little over 15,000 in 1850 or so; it had been 80,000 under the Romans; 30,000 during the Crusades).

It is a requirement, in my view, for all free people to back other free peoples. That is the central fact in my view of Israel. Israel is a democratic republic. While no nation is perfect, in Israel people of all faiths – or none – can live in peace and freedom. While there is official and un-official discrimination in Israel against non-Jews, that is changing – for instance, not a lot of non-Jews serve in the IDF, but some do…and the number is increasing as Israeli Christians and Muslims realize that defending Israel means defending themselves (anyone really think the Muslims of, say, Nazareth want to come under Abbas’ rule?). There is also a debt we of the West – especially we Christians – owe to the Jews. It isn’t just the Holocaust (though that is a gigantic part of it), but the general discrimination and injustice we visited upon the Jews for centuries which we atone for by supporting Israel. We cannot allow that a free people come under tyranny (and, so, I also back our defense of Taiwan, come what may, against China) and we also cannot allow another Holocaust to happen…and such would happen if the Arabs, as things currently are, got atop the Jews of Israel. As my title says, this is a test of decency – defense of Israel is a Pass/Fail thing on that matter. This does not mean we have to just blindly defend Israel in all circumstances – if a reasonable Palestinian leadership arises willing to meet all legitimate Israeli demands and then the Israelis balk, it would be time for us to pressure Israel…but such a Palestinian leadership would only fully arise under a free Palestine…not free of Israel, but free of tyranny. And, as that works out, if there was genuine freedom in Palestine, then I’m confident that the free people of Palestine and the free people of Israel could come to a swift and equitable arrangement.

In return for an Israeli-Palestinian peace, I’d be willing for our nation to do quite a lot…and not least for the people of Palestine, many of whom are my brothers and sisters in Christ. The real cost, given our wealth, would be small…but we could help the Palestinians make their land bloom with prosperity as much as Israel does. A grand and glorious future awaits – the Holy Land should be a place of peace and justice, and I pray for the day when it is. But we also must be realistic – there are bad actors in the world. Those who take the tiny resources of a poor people and turn them into rockets to fire at random civilians are bad actors…not people who, at present, can be partners in peace and construction. Peace can be had in short order, as soon as both sides want it. Right now, honestly, only one side does…and as they are the democratic side, I must back them. It is the only decent thing to do.

Yes, Trump Can Talk to Taiwan

Trump spoke to the President of Taiwan and it set off a firestorm of criticism. A lot of people are worried about what effect this will have on US-China relations. I can only think it will work to an improvement. The best relations are maintained when both sides are firm and understand each others position.

First off, a little history lesson:

Over the past 121 years, mainland China has ruled Taiwan for a total of four (4) years. The Island was annexed by Japan after the Sino-Japanese War of 1895 and then stayed in Japanese hands until 1945. From 1945 to 1949, Taiwan was ruled from the mainland, but in 1949 the government of China was chased out and made itself a home in Taiwan. Officially, the government of Taiwan considers itself the legitimate government of all of China, while the Chinese government considers itself the rightful owner of Taiwan. Both positions are absurd. The writ of the People’s Republic of China has never run to Taiwan and the youngest Taiwanese who could possibly have been a part of a Chinese government would be about 90, now. About 87% of Taiwan’s population is native to Taiwan – wasn’t born in China, nor under the rule of the People’s Republic of China. While plenty of people in Taiwan still desire a theoretical reunification with China, no one wants to come under the rule of the current government in Beijing – and the younger generation is ever more Taiwanese. To say that Taiwan must be considered part of China is as silly as saying that Austria must be part of Germany, simply because for a brief while Germany ruled Austria and the people of Austria are ethnic Germans.

Also, China needs to know that for all their economic advancement and their desire for increased global power, the United States is still far ahead of China and that we much prefer the people of east Asia and the western Pacific rule their own destinies. Trump’s action will cause some shrieks from China’s leaders – but the bottom line is that it lets them know that the days of the United States playing the patsy to China are over. Trump did a good thing – an honest thing; the hypocrisy of our position vis a vis Taiwan has been a nauseating relic of the Cold War and it is past time it as done away with. If Taiwan ever freely decides to unite itself with China, all well and good – but unless and until such time, it is our duty as the premier free nation on Earth to ensure that the free people of Taiwan are not forced into Chinese servitude.

Which is the Threat – Russia or China?

Got into a little Twitter flare up over just who is the Putin stooge in this election – Hillary or Trump? Team Hillary was all afire on Monday with dark hints about Trump’s nefarious ties to Putin…and Never Trump quickly seconded her charges, apparently forgetting Hillary’s little Bribes-For-Uranium deal with Russian “businessmen” who would make Don Corleone blush. But the underlying thing here is just how much a threat Putin’s Russia poses.

Now, to be sure, Romney was quite right in 2012 that Russia was no partner of the United States – was, in fact, working diligently against American interests in Europe and the Middle East. Romney was ridiculed for that by all Democrats – someone quipping that the 1980’s called and they wanted their foreign policy back, I believe. Fast forward to 2016, and all of a sudden our Democrats are more vigorously anti-Kremlin than Reagan was 30 years ago. What changed? Electoral politics – a foreign bogey-man is always useful in politics, if you can somehow tie your opponent to same. It is a bit of a stretch to tie Trump to Putin – the closest connections seem to be with a person who used to work for Trump’s campaign – but off they go, and the MSM gladly helps Team Clinton out. But is Russia all that much a threat? Let’s take a look:

Population:

USA – 324 million

Russia – 143 million

Fit for military service (males):

USA – 59 million

Russia – 21 million

Naval power:

Carriers – USA 10, Russia 1
Amphibious assault ships – USA 9, Russia 0
Cruisers – USA 22, Russia 4
Destroyers – USA 63, Russia 21
Ballistic Missile Submarines – USA 10, Russia 4
Attack Submarines – USA 52, Russia 18 (plus some old diesel boats rusting around).

I could go on like that – not much of a military threat to the United States. Given that Russia’s GDP is somewhat less than South Korea’s, they aren’t going to become a big threat any time soon. On the other hand, there’s China, with a GDP about 9 times that of Russia and 314 million men fit for military service…perhaps China might be a bigger worry? You know, given the number of men they can put under arms just about equals our population? Given that they are challenging our supremacy in the western Pacific and the South China Sea? Given that they have said that their national policy is to displace us? Maybe we should be a little more concerned about China?

Naw, can’t have that – too many of our largest corporations and banks are heavily invested in China. Conflict with China would be bad for business – theirs, not ours. Doesn’t really help us that cheap consumer goods are made in China…does help the Chinese and the corporations which invest there, of course…and, so, Russia’s the bad guy…China’s just this thing, and if you please ignore the fact that they are engaged in building a blue water Navy specifically to challenge us, that would be great.

It has been my conviction for many years now that if WWIII ever comes, it will start in Asia, not in Europe. I doubt the Europeans will even involve themselves in World War Three, if they could in any way scurry out of it. The battle will be between the United States and China, and whatever allies each can gather. We’ve got Japan and South Korea because they’ve got no choice – and when push comes to shove, we’ll probably have India, as well. But it would be tremendously useful for us if at least a good portion of China’s military force is looking over it’s should, to the north – to Russia, that is. And, of course, Russia can’t hold on to Siberia without our aid.

Now, I don’t like Putin, either – but he’s also not forever. And foreign policy can’t be dictated by personalities – it always has to be dictated by interests. Right now, Putin sees his chance to cobble together a bit of the old Russian Empire – our weakness is his chance. But think about what he’s doing – he’s grabbing those border areas which are largely Russian in population. He’s also working out plans and programs to get Russia’s population increased via natural means (there’s even a move to ban abortion in Russia). Putin is trying to get together as much manpower as he can – just in case of war, when Russia will need every soldier it can put into uniform. Russians, for instance, make up 17% of Ukraine’s population – about 8 million people, or about 800,000 males fit for military service. Having those Russians in Ukraine does Russia not the least bit of good – having them in Russia, does. As it turns out, most of the Russians live in precisely the areas of Ukraine where Putin is exerting military force on the sly. You don’t have to like it – but you should at least understand why it’s happening.

Our interests lie in keeping China boxed in – a China able to rampage over the world represents a threat that Germany and Japan, combined, didn’t represent in 1941. With their population and industrial base – a lot of it formerly our industrial base, before we outsourced it – gives them the ability to wage war on many fronts simultaneously. Our foreign policy job is to make sure that if China ever decides to try conclusions with us that they are, indeed, forced to fight on many fronts. On the seas with us, on land with India – and Russia. And Vietnam, and South Korea, and Japan…and anyone else we can convince to go along with us. In point of fact, India would provide sufficient manpower to completely overbalance China…but India has no easy way to attack China on land – they’d have to go through the Himalayas, an almost impossible task. Russia, though, has easy access to the very heart of China (China has the same to Russian Siberia). In a real war – a World War – a American-Russian-Indian army poised around Lake Baikal is a deadly threat to China…the sort of thing which keeps China from getting into Southeast Asia, or the Philippines.

Don’t give me nonsense about a Russian threat to the United States – they have nukes, but that is about it. On their own, they don’t dare attack us. Eventually, Russia will see that playing around with China just to irritate us is the wrong path…and, in fact, they probably know it and are only doing it to keep us off their back while they re-absorb those former parts of the Russian Empire they think they need. As long as Russia isn’t rolling into Poland, or taking Kiev, I’m not particularly worried about what they are doing. I don’t care, that is, if they absorb some territory largely populated by Russians and only set in non-Russian territory by Stalin as a means to retain control of the various “republics” which made up the old USSR. At the end of the day, Russia will want to hold on to Siberia and the only way they can do that against China – the only nation which covets Siberia – is in alliance with us. An alliance that they and we need…not that we care about Russian rule in Siberia, but we do care about making sure that China, desiring war, is instantly confronted with the fact of war in the north as well as everywhere else. It is essentially a revival of the old policy of Churchill vis a vis Nazi Germany – bind together the lesser States surrounding Germany so that any German attack would result in an overwhelming force being brought against Germany from all directions. No one wanted to do that, and so Hitler was able to pick off enemies one by one…China will do the same, unless we construct a new set of alliances to counter it.

One thing you can be certain about in world affairs is change – it’s always breaking apart and coming together in new combinations. Hanging fast to NATO as if Russia is still poised to burst through the Fulda Gap in central Germany is absurd. I can’t imagine a set of circumstances which move Russia to invade central and western Europe. I also can’t imagine a set of circumstances which would see a British army come to our assistance as we tried to repel a Chinese attack on Japan…and Britain is a solid ally; as for France and Germany, they’d probably be selling China military material and demanding we don’t sink their ships transporting it to China! These are new times, with new issues – and trying to jam them into the times of 50 years ago won’t work. We need, as in all things, to think anew and act anew…and giving up the Russian bugbear and turning our full attention to China is one of them. We also need new policies towards Iran, but even that is a lesser threat than China, in the long run.

China is the challenge – we must rework our trade with China so that we’re not longer helping them build the industrial sinews to war with us. We must rebuild our own industrial strength so that if we have to go to war, we’ve got at least most of what we need right here in the USA. We need a new system of alliances geared towards modern challenges. We need a much larger Navy, a much larger Air Force. We need to be working on ever more advanced military technologies so that we can outgun a China we won’t be able to out-man. We need, first and foremost, to shake free of the geo-political shackles of the past. This isn’t 1956 – it’s 2016.

Winning and Losing Wars

Believe me, nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won. – Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington

Got into a little bit of a Twitter scrape with Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom). I’m afraid he took exception to a comment I made. The start of it was Nichols condemning Trump for his “we’ve lost our wars” comment. I put in that as a matter of fact, we haven’t won a war since World War Two.

I know, I know; I probably took that too far. I must repeat to myself again and again: never get into a Twitter argument as it is impossible to have an argument when you’re limited to 140 characters. And it can get a bit sticky if you say anything which can be construed as other than critical of Trump. Trump = bad. I dig that – and am in favor of that sentiment. I feel bad that I apparently angered Mr. Nichols as I hold him in high regard for his knowledge. But, still, a busted clock is right twice a day. To be fair to those who took exception to my comment, Grenada, Panama, the First Gulf War and Kosovo were victories. And the Iraq campaign until 2009 was also a victory. But Grenada, Panama and Kosovo are not the same scale of actions as, say, a Spanish-American War – even though that war was quite short and the loss of life was mercifully low. The First Gulf War was, in my view, an unfinished war – we did eject Iraqi forces from Kuwait (a worthwhile activity), but as long as Saddam was in power in Baghdad, a resumption of the war either in Kuwait or elsewhere was always in prospect. We could have compelled a complete surrender by Saddam, and we didn’t – we didn’t impose our political will on his regime in a permanent manner. As for the Iraq campaign – well, it was won, but then it was lost…it doesn’t matter that it was Obama who lost what Bush had won, it was still the United States losing.

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Brexit Triumphs!

I just want to say how delighted I am – I didn’t think the Brits could pull it off. I was flat wrong – patriotism and a desire for liberty still live in the United Kingdom. I can only imagine how patriots in Britain feel today.

Make no mistake about it, this is a revolt of the people against a tired, worn out, corrupt, globalist Ruling Class which doesn’t give a darn about the people. Progressives will have a lot of hard words to say about those who voted to leave – but that is just Progressives, as usual, missing the point. The entirety of this is a simple desire of people to run their own lives – that if they must have rulers, at all, they want rulers who are responsible to them…and can be punished by them if they screw up. The European Union, in spite of a few fig leaves of democratic trappings, was nothing more than un-elected, self-appointed bureaucrats deciding how everyone else gets to live…and, of course, raking off a swell lifestyle for themselves. The British have decided that whatever happens to Britain, it will be the British people who will decide.

Foreign Policy of Fools, Drunkards and the United States of America

That title is a bit of a paraphrase – a quote attributed to Bismarck:

“There is a special Providence for Fools, Drunkards and the United States of America.”

Bismarck, of course, lived in Europe at the acme of it’s power in the world and was dealing with a host of Nations in Arms, all competing furiously for wealth and position. Looking across the Atlantic, he probably envied the position of the United States…harmless neighbors north and south, oceans east and west…no need to play a deep game of power. To be sure, Bismarck was the ruin of a civilization – he instructed Europe that lying is ok, that increasing the power of the State is the only reason for living and that calculated military aggression is a useful tool in securing diplomatic ends. As a genius, Bismarck could handle that sort of thing easily – but genius only shows up every now and again, and his successors (and imitators in other lands) simply couldn’t do it, and so they unleashed Armageddon in the form of World War One. But he at least had a rational foreign policy. We don’t.

I bring this up because of a revealing article about how Obama’s foreign policy (so called) was presented to the American people by Ben Rhodes, described as someone who has a “mind meld” with the President:

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