August 25, 2015

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We’ve had three days of postings without mention of the DC creeps, but now it is time to return to their monkey business. Joshua Muravchik starts us off with his article on the Iran agreement.

How might the United States end up in a boots-on-the-ground shooting war with Iran? 

This is the specter that President Obama summons when he warns that congressional rejection of his nuclear agreement with Iran would lead to “some form of war . . . . if not tomorrow . . . then soon.”  But it is Obama’s deal itself that is more likely to lead to such a regrettable outcome. It is all but guaranteed to make a region that is already convulsed in violence, thanks to Obama’s strategy of reducing America’s presence, that much more violent. …

… There are other scenarios in which the current violence in the Middle East will redouble thanks to Iran’s imperial appetite being whetted by its new nuclear status. Tehran might stir up Kuwait’s sometimes restive Shiite minority which amounts to one-third of the population. More Sunnis may be impelled to view ISIS and al Qaeda as necessary shock troops against surging Shiite power. The consequent infusions of money and volunteers could bring these fanatics new conquests in Iraq, Syria, Libya, the Sinai, and perhaps elsewhere. Israel might be confronted with its largest war since 1967, pitting it against Hamas and Hezbollah and even Iranian forces. The distraction of mounting Middle Eastern violence might embolden Vladimir Putin to new steps toward his goal of reassembling the USSR, perhaps devouring more of Ukraine or even attempting a go at Latvia or Estonia, using their large Russian minorities as a pretext as in Ukraine.

Any of these scenarios could draw the United States into just the kind of briar patch that President Obama says he wants to avoid. He mocks his critics as warmongers, but it is his ill-conceived policy that is most likely to get us into a war.



Rick Richman is next.

To appreciate the key paragraph in Senator Bob Corker’s Washington Post op-ed opposing the Iran deal, you need to review his extemporaneous remarks at the August 5 hearing of the Senate Banking Committee – addressed to both the witness, Under Secretary Wendy Sherman, and to his Democratic colleagues. Corker was one of the few Republican senators who did not sign Senator Tom Cotton’s letter to Iran, and he worked across the aisle to craft the Congressional review of the deal. On August 5, he spoke first to the Democratic senators sitting there: “I want to say that I think Senator Donnelly, Senator Heitkamp, Senator Warner, Senator Tester, Senator Schumer, Senator Menendez all know that I have been very open to supporting an agreement.” Then he recounted a Saturday phone conversation he had had the previous month with Secretary of State Kerry, when “I actually thought he was listening to what I was saying.” …



David French writes on the president’s misguided view of the world.

… If more than six years of Obama’s foreign policy have taught us anything, it’s that he’s thoroughly adopted the academic Left’s view of America’s international troubles — the view that such troubles are largely America’s own fault. Our Islamic-supremacist enemies, this thinking goes, exist because we and our allies have marginalized the dissenting, “authentic” voices of the Middle East in favor of propping up oppressive, unrepresentative secular dictators in the region. By switching sides from such “establishment” dictators to the “authentic” voice of the region’s people, we can bring these dissenters into the international community, deprive terrorists of recruits, and usher in a new era of international relations. The truly extreme holdouts — the “tiny few” who are irredeemable terrorists — can then eventually be dealt with by international law enforcement.

Obama’s foreign policy fits this thinking to a tee: In Libya, he and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton helped depose Moammar Qaddafi by transforming allied squadrons into the jihadist militias’ air force. In Egypt, Obama and Clinton quickly threw longtime American ally Hosni Mubarak under the bus and wrapped both arms around the short-lived Muslim Brotherhood government, sending American taxpayer-funded F-16s and M1 Abrams tanks to Egypt even as the Brotherhood violated the Camp David accords and forged closer ties with Hamas. In Gaza, the administration has consistently condemned Israeli acts of self-defense (though Israel uses tactics often more restrained than those dictated by America’s rules of engagement) and presented cease-fire proposals more in line with Hamas’s demands than Israel’s needs. In Syria, the administration came dangerously close to deploying American pilots as al-Qaeda’s air force to help topple the Assad regime. …



Noah Rothman posts on the effects of the current occupant.

Many of those blinkered political commenters who allowed themselves to be swept up in the diaphanous hysteria that resulted in Barack Obama’s presidency convinced themselves that he was a change agent of divine wisdom. A “lightworker,” as the San Francisco Gate’s Mark Morford called him. They said Obama would restore America’s faith in the United States, in government in general, and even in ourselves. “That campaign restored a faith in politics that most of us thought we had lost,” gushed The Hill’s Niall Stanage. “America has restored the world’s faith in its ideals,” The Guardian averred without evidence. Seven years later, it’s clear that the effects of Obama’s presidency have not been to restore but to sap faith in the American system. We have so little reverence for the order bequeathed to us by the nation’s enlightened founding generation, in fact, that we deface it with adolescent acts of directionless defiance. 

The presidency that was allegedly destined to repair the damage Bush did to the credibility of the federal government has only quickened the pace of America’s disaffection with politics. Today, the three co-equal branches of the federal government inspire confidence in only a handful of Americans. The media, organized labor, banks, schools, and big business, too, are no longer trusted. Among government-run enterprises, only the police and the military retain the trust of a majority of American citizens – a dangerous place for any civilian-led republic to find itself. Even on the matter of racial comity, a perpetual sore spot for most Americans, Obama has not lived up to his transcendental promise. In fact, the state of racial tensions in the Obama era makes the Bush presidency look like a utopian epoch characterized by ethnic harmony. The Obama presidency has failed on a variety of fronts, but its most injurious may be the ruinous effect it has had on faith in the republican experiment itself. …




From a misguided president to a misguided pope. Michael Rubin posts on how free markets help the poor; contrary to the opinions of the anti-capitalist pope.

… In contrast, countries like Pope Francis’ birthplace of Argentina, Cuba, and Venezuela increasingly condemn their population to greater poverty as they punish initiative and constrain economic freedom. These may be extreme examples, but remember that until the 1970s, the North Korean economy was arguably as strong if not stronger than South Korea’s, but now has fallen exponentially behind. Poland has emerged from decades of socialist repression to become a growing powerhouse: drive across the border into Belarus, and the juxtaposition could not be greater. Talk of social justice is too often rhetorical crack. It may make proponents feel good and it can be addictive to the self-righteous and those genuinely seeking to do good, but it can be very corrosive to health, happiness, and holistic prosperity.

Will gaps between rich and poor exist? Certainly. And do many persons who consider themselves poor resent those who have more? Absolutely. But recent history shows that those who generate wealth—even if they make far more than the mean—often repair economies and reduce poverty in ways that decades and centuries of well-meaning rhetoric and talk of social justice have not. Pope Francis and his supporters most certainly would not consider themselves as ‘hating’ the poor, but if they did, they could do nothing better than embrace the sort of liberation theology that retarded economic growth in some Latin American countries, as others prospered and grew their middle class. Conversely, if Pope Francis wants to help the poor, let’s hope he’ll delve more deeply into economics and history to separate fact from fiction, and use his soap box to encourage more capitalist investment and less state intervention. That is the key to poverty reduction, and it deserves holy support.

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