The Case for Diplomatic Can-Kicking

In light of the cease-fire that Trump has negotiated in Syria, Ace has some interesting comments. Do read the whole thing, but this is what I’m thinking about:

Is everything fixed, then?

Let me answer that with a question: Is anything ever fixed?

When I was younger and less experienced — and had seen less war — I was a big believer in the Rumsfeld Doctrine, “if the problem seems unsolvable, enlarge it,” that is, don’t chew about the edges if chewing about the edges doesn’t solve things, but go for the whole sandwich if need be.

I also believed the empty Neocon slogans about appeasement and Hitler and Clinton “just kicking the can down the road” in Iraq.

The empty sloganeering went like this: If we don’t permanently solve our diplomatic/military crises once and for ever, then we’re just “kicking the can down the road” and deferring problems until later.

It is very difficult to permanently solve problem – by war or diplomacy. But if you can get the shooting to stop for a significant period of time and allow people to get on with their lives, you’ve done well. We don’t know what will come out of the Syria deal – the problem is most emphatically not solved because most Kurds live in Turkey and Iran and while this is so, at least a portion of the Kurd population will pine for unity with their brothers. But, maybe this deal with allow the Iraqi and Syrian Kurds to start building a life and, just perhaps, rising stability and wealth will make the Kurds outside Turkey less willing to tangle with the Turks? Who knows; and maybe in 5 or 10 years there will be another crisis…and if there is, our job will be to assess our interests and only if we feel there is something crucial concerning us should we offer more than our good offices.

Kicking the can down the road is also not entirely a bad thing. In 1878, the Great Powers of Europe were at loggerheads over what to do with Turkish territory conquered by the Russians in a recent war. Russia, the victor in the war, naturally wanted to have everything her own way. But Austria and Britain weren’t keen on Russian domination in the Balkans. The Germans were at cross purposes because they were trying to keep on good terms with both Russia and Austria. Turkey, naturally, wanted to recover the lost territories. In the end, the British Prime Minister Disreali brokered a settlement which gave Russia some of what she wanted but not total domination of the Balkans.

What is interesting at the time was that the Austrian government was a bit divided on what to do – some arguing for peace even if Russia got advantage, others wanting war to the knife to push the Russians back. The “war to the knife” side saw that whatever deal was made, if it didn’t totally push Russia out, it would just be kicking the can down the road. That the basic problem would remain and would eventually flare up again. And, they were right. The 1914 war was started in roughly the same area and over roughly the same issue: who was to dominate the Balkans? An argument could have been made that the issue should have been fought to a finish in 1878 rather than 1914 – but, had it happened in 1878 then it doesn’t mean that peace and reason would then become triumphant. The aftermath of the actual war to the knife is now known and it isn’t pretty. But by making peace in 1878, the peoples of Europe were spared a major war for 36 years. That is quite a long time, actually. It was a pity that when 1914 came there were no Statesmen of the stature of Disreali (nor any generals who could win the war quickly), but who could foresee that? But even if someone had negotiated an 11th hour agreement in 1914 (as they did the year before in 1913 after the Balkan nations had fought Turkey), it still wouldn’t have solved the problem. Until Russia surrendered her desire for domination of the Balkans, war was always a prospect in the area.

As Ace also points out, World War Two is a bit unique. We were clearly attacked out of the blue and without just cause. Our enemy in Hitler was a purely evil man who had to be destroyed. And we unleashed unlimited power against the enemy – the destruction we wrought was only limited by our capacity to deliver it to the enemy. Had the war in Europe gone on past August of 1945, then Berlin would have been nuked rather than Hiroshima. The level of violence was really astonishing – especially after the allied armies broke into Germany. It is fairly well known how the Russians behaved – and orgy of rape, murder and pillage – but less well known is what the Anglo-American and French forces did. There wasn’t the mass rape and murder that accompanied the Russian invasion (though the French – via their Algerian troops – did permit a great deal of rape as revenge for German rapes in France) but the slightest resistance was met with overwhelming firepower; a great deal of looting went on; Germans were kicked out of their houses to provide billets for allied soldiers. It was a crushing, overwhelming defeat – a defeat so complete that the militarist Germans simply gave up on the concept. But, such a thing is unlikely to repeat itself: both in having such a purely evil enemy and having a political situation where ruthless application of power is possible.

So, can kicking isn’t a completely wrong thing to do. In fact, it is probably the best we can accomplish in most circumstances. With the hope that if its kicked far enough, it will be replaced by some other problem down the road. Because until the End, there will always be problems. There will always be people who feel they have been cheated and/or who think they have a right to someone else’s belongings. Because of this, war will always be in prospect and will, at times, break out. Our job is to permanently have a military ready to fight and then first try our hardest to broker a settlement and, failing that, give the enemy such a lesson about American power that they’ll shy away from trying it a second time. Other than that, we can only wait and see what happens and then deal with it as it arises.

In light of this, permanent alliances and international bodies are a blind ally: they commit us to certain actions even though future events might make a mockery of our commitment. Think about Turkey: suppose we had decided to fight them? Well, as they are NATO allies, that would technically require Spain to go to war against us in defense of their NATO ally Turkey. We hope for friendship – or at least tolerable relations – with all nations; but we can never tell what the future will bring. And, so, we can’t tie our hands in advance – we have to be free to decide as situations arise how we will deal with them.

They say we had to get into NATO and the UN because the world was changing and this is what we needed – but precisely because the world is changing (and always has and always will) it was wrong to get into them. It is time for us to disentangle ourselves and just move forward on the path which seems best to us at the time. It is time, that is, to start kicking the can down the road rather than rushing to war.

Open Thread

I got into a gun control argument with a Brit on Twitter the other day – very unusual in that it wasn’t nasty. But, it also didn’t really have a conclusion…the guy simply stopped responding. This was after I pointed out something which most don’t think about these days:

To love someone is to do what is best for them – if I am to show love for my fellows then certain things are required of me. One is that I never permit someone to be unjustly attacked. Another is that I restrain the wrongdoer from carrying out his plans. The former is far more easily understood than the latter, but neither are really thought of these days.

What my interlocutor was on about is that my Christian faith – which he claims to share – is about mercy and turning the other cheek and so forth; so, it isn’t really right for me to have a gun to shoot the burglar. But the reality is that it is almost a moral requirement that I be armed – as I’m physically capable of bearing arms – because if I am unarmed I can neither defend my neighbor nor attempt to prevent the burglar from doing his evil deed. I can only sit helplessly by…while my neighbor is robbed and maybe killed and the burglar risks his immortal soul in the commission of his crime. How can I be said to be showing love to either of them by doing nothing? There is much we’ve lost: most importantly our sense that justice and mercy go together. Its not one or the other – and, in fact, if you try to do either in isolation, you’ll get neither.

Germany’s Populist-Conservative AfD did well in regional elections – so well, in fact, that Germany’s other major parties (CDU, SPD and Greens) are thinking of a partnership with the German Communist Party (now called Linke, because “Communist” sounds bad). This is the mask fully dropping: all the parties were simply about who gets to slice the pie, not about what the pie shall be. And the Ruling Class in Germany – and around the West – wants the pie to be about open borders and only the Elite getting to decide what happens. We’re all in this together, folks: as goes AfD goes Brexit goes Trump. Either we all win, or we’ll all be destroyed.

John Hindraker is probably like most of us these days – watching what’s happening and figuring the Democrats are completely out of touch with reality. Of course, he also notes that he could be the guy out to lunch. We’ll all find out next November – but, I’m betting it is the Democrats who are busily alienating 60% of the electorate.

France’s Macron is offering a $15 billion bribe to Iran to keep it in the nuke deal – which we’re out of and Iran never had the faintest idea of abiding by. I don’t really understand this: is Macron that stupid, or does Iran just have so much dirt on Europe’s Ruling Class that they have to play ball?

South Dakota Democrat Party closes its last two offices for lack of funds. One down, forty nine to go…

Open Thread

A bit of foreign influence in our elections which the Democrats, MSMers and Never Trumpers won’t talk about – because it was Iran and it harmed the GOP.

Alabama tells a donor to take his money and shove it over the donor’s opposition to Alabama’s pro-life legislation.

AOC flashes the White Power sign – for you and me its and “ok” sign, of course…but, hey, the Left says it means White Power…so, why is AOC flashing it?

Former Florida Democrat gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum has been subpoenaed by the Feds. Seems like it has to do with some charity groups he worked for. My bet: he was running a con via non-profits…something I bet a very large number of non-profits so. My view is that a very large portion – perhaps of majority – of non-profits are actually just grifts designed to enrich the bosses of the non-profits.

Our Democrat governor in Nevada vetoed the Popular Vote bill passed by the State legislature. My view: Nevada is rapidly being Californicated, but there are still enough sane people here that the governor can’t go full screwball…and this was an easy way to appear moderate.

Never care what people say, always watch what they do. Rachel Maddow has been a premier Russia collusion booster…and her ratings are in the tank. People aren’t tuning in to listen to it any longer. Democrats would be making a huge mistake to impeach. OTOH, they might just want to keep it percolating deep into 2020.

Rumor is that Trump may punish Mexico with tariffs unless they get serious about securing the border. Thing is, I’m not sure Mexico can do that – the cartels profit heavily from the illegal crossings, and as they tend to horribly murder anyone who tries to stop them, who in Mexico would actually try to control the border?

Open Thread

Listening to Democrats, I can only assume that they are really going to impeach the President. They can’t possibly believe they have 67 votes in the Senate to convict…but the way Democrats talk, it seems clear to me that they believe a majority wants Trump impeached. We’ll see how it comes out – but I suspect that Trump will come out the winner in that fight.

Meanwhile, the RNC is still blowing the doors off the DNC in fundraising – and most remarkably in the “small donor” segment. I keep hearing that everyone hates Trump, but I’ve yet to see that translate into practical reality.

We here in Nevada handed the State over to the Democrats in 2018 and, true to their paymasters in California, Nevada Democrats have passed national popular vote legislation, thus impounding our electoral votes to Democrat ballot-box stuffers in Los Angeles and San Francisco. This happens because Nevada Democrats – like all State-level Democrats – don’t give a damn about their States, but only dictatorial, national power.

Ace has an article about how frightening China’s “social credit” system is becoming, and points out that this is be beta test for its use in the United States. Don’t doubt Ace on that – the left very much wants such a system in order to punish anyone who does’t behave correctly: ie, behave in a manner approved of by the most recent and kook-left part of the global elite. Remember, while jail/torture/execution is a large tool in the tyrant’s tool kit, the Soviets learned long ago that the real way to control people is to make it impossible for them to simply live unless they are approved by the government. Give the liberals power long enough, and you won’t even be able to ride a bus without their permission.

Don Surber points out that vis a vis Iran, all Trump was ever doing was saber rattling to get Iran to back down a bit. We’ll see how it ultimately comes out, but I’ve always doubted that Trump would instigate a war. He’s a businessman who has the businessman’s natural abhorrence of war: it’s bad for business (unless you’re a defense contractor, which Trump isn’t). Trump is actually turning out to be quite effective in foreign policy – mostly because he eschews globalist theories. Iran – or another enemy – could do an overt act which makes war a reality, but in such a case it wouldn’t be Trump leading us to war, but taking charge of a war someone else started.

RSM looks at Alabama’s attitude towards abortion: bottom line, not a lot of Alabama women have abortions. Vastly smaller proportion than in, say, New York City. And that is the crux of the matter: there are several States, like Alabama, which simply don’t want abortion. It is all tied to culture and religion, of course: but in a pluralist Republic, we should be able to accommodate divergence. But liberals won’t allow that – they’re sitting there in their tiny, urban apartments feeding the cat and furious that some woman out there has such a satisfying sex life with her husband that she’s had three kids. They want to put a stop to that.

The Middle East is Changing

So, Iranian forces in Syria attacked Israeli targets and Israel, naturally, responded – a big thing and important in itself, but this struck me:

Bahrain has backed Israel’s right to “defend itself”, following dozens of Israeli airstrikes on Iranian military targets in Syria overnight.

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid al-Khalifa said on Thursday that it backed Tel Aviv’s military response to attempted Iranian missile strikes on an Israeli army base, early Thursday morning, in the occupied Golan Heights.

“As long as Iran has breached the status quo in the region and invaded countries with its forces and missiles, so any state in the region, including Israel, is entitled to defend itself by destroying sources of danger,” the minister, whose country is a close ally of Saudi Arabia, said on his official Twitter account…

Bahrain is a tiny country and is allied with Saudi Arabia mostly for protection against Iran. So, no surprise that Bahrain would be pleased to see Iran harmed, but it is massively surprising that an official of the Bahrain government would publicly declare Israel – which, officially in most Muslim countries, doesn’t even exist – has a right to self-defense. This is a sea-change in Arab attitudes.

What I think has really broken the log-jam here is the fact that Trump pretty much dropped the Palestinian issue like a bad habit. As long as our actions in the Middle East were always tied to a theory that we had to remain somewhat neutral in the Arab-Israeli conflict – and thus had to pretend that the Palestinian leadership was a key element – we were tied to a false idea, and thus couldn’t really move. Trump moved; now, everyone is moving. Its been a couple decades since anyone in the Arab world really gave a darn about the Palestinians and while no one would object to a permanent peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians, everyone with any sense at all knows the Palestinian leadership has staked out an impossible position (return to the 1967 border, return of “refugees” to Israel and, of course, still rhetoric about marching on Tel Aviv one day), and so there’s no chance of it right now. So, let’s move on until the Palestinian leadership changes.

And as people are able to move on – as people no longer have to pretend that a few fanatics in Gaza have to be appeased in order to do anything – the political realities which have existed at least since the Iranian revolution are rising to the surface…and are being dealt with. I’m not saying they are being dealt with properly – there’s a lot of confusion and an outsider like me really can’t judge all that well – but they are being dealt with. Saudi Arabia is determined to check Iran (wise move, Saudi Arabia) and in that effort, ignoring a powerful Israel which is also determined to check Iran would be foolish. I think we’re still a ways away from an Israeli Embassy in Riyadh…but I don’t think that far away. The times, they are a-changing…and it is Trump, the Agent of Change on Steroids, who is making it happen.

SOTU/Iranian Hostage Crisis Open Thread

Wonder if this will put a damper on Obama claiming success in the Iran deal during the State of the Union?

Iranian military forces seized two U.S. Navy boats Tuesday and are holding them in custody on Iran’s Farsi Island in the middle of the Persian Gulf, senior U.S. officials told NBC News.

Officials said it’s unclear whether the 10 American sailors who were aboard one of the small riverine boats had strayed into Iranian territorial waters before they were captured.

The officials said the Americans were on a training mission around noon ET when their boat experienced mechanical difficulty and drifted into Iranian-claimed waters and were seized by Iranian Coast guard.

Iran is claiming they were in Iran’s waters – naturally, our government is appearing to go along with this claim. Even if true, the proper response from a civilized power is to just warn them off, not seize them. This could, of course, just be one of those things that happen – but it could also be Iran seeing just how far they can go. They are already routinely insulting us and challenging us and seeing that Obama is willing to put up with anything rather than put his “legacy” deal with Iran in jeopardy. This just might be more in that game – and if it is, then expect some very aggressive Iranian action in the area soon…if we back down on this, Iran’s government will pretty much know for certain that Obama will not, under any circumstances, take on Iran.

Perhaps Obama should set up an empty chair for our national honor…

Out and About on a Sunday

A few recent polls show Trump fading in Iowa and Carson surging – which makes sense just on the fact that Carson is a much better fit than Trump for the highly socially conservative Iowa GOP. Be that as it may, Trump is for real. I thought he was a joke candidate. Then I thought he was a candidate surging because of the fury the GOP base has against the GOP establishment. But now it is different – and watching Trump on the trail reveals a man who is a quick learner. He still has massive obstacles to overcome to attain the nomination, but he’s starting to look like a political tsunami…something akin to the way Andrew Jackson came out of nowhere to completely overturn the political establishment in 1828 (and he’s also quite a lot like Jackson – supremely self-confident and determined to have his way, without too much concern about the legal and social niceties). In all the good and bad you can have in a President, the best good is a quick learner…because there is always a learning curve and the best pick it up fast (Obama, like Carter, has not learned a thing – likely because, also like Carter, he doesn’t think he has anything to learn). It remains to be seen if he can navigate his way to the nomination and then to the White House…if he does, the crucial aspect of whether he’ll be a good President is that ability to learn…and if he’s really smart, he’ll learn that the only way an Executive gets the government to do anything is to ceaselessly pester it with Presidential directives (Churchill was one of the few who knew this – and all his “pray give me the facts on one sheet of paper” and “action this day” memos were his way of just giving the bureaucracy no rest until they darned will did what he wanted them to do). The bottom line here is that if the establishment or even insurgents like Cruz want to beat Trump, then they’re going to have to out-campaign him. I don’t think he’ll implode for our entertainment at this point.

The Japanese have a hotel staffed by robots. A look at the future, folks – we’re not replicating ourselves and so we’re building a completely artificial world. Hopefully, this is only a temporary thing and we’ll snap out of it soon.

Climate alarmism – it is designed to scare you into compliance.

Why would Orthodox Russia ally with Islamist Iran? Because they both need oil to be north of $100 a barrel. Please note that China would not be pleased with oil that pricey – if we had anyone in DC with any diplomatic ability, at all, we’d be making hay with this situation. Bismarck said that success comes with hearing the hoof beats of history and grabbing hold of the tail as it goes by…unfortunately, our foreign policy is run by faculty lounge pinheads.

Tony Blair, in what I suspect is an attempt to placate the left in a bid to save Labour from a drubbing next election due to their kook-left party leader, has apologized for the Iraq war.

The prospect of Ryan becoming Speaker is actually a signal that the GOP is uniting. Don’t pop too many bottles of champagne, folks, but it is the way it is working. I see it as this: the TEA Party and the Establishment are getting on the same team. This means we’ll have to put up with some RINOism, and they’ll have to put up with some actual conservatism. This is the way it works, folks – always has and always will. Half a loaf is better than none.