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Monday, 31 October 2011
Bloody Past, Grim Future
Topic: Must Read

 

If you’re going to opine on politics and current events, it helps to have some actual knowledge of the subject. This thought—no doubt heretical in the minds of many pundits—occurred to me recently. As the Obama Administration’s Iraq policy began to show signs of collapse, I thought I’d post about it. But Tom, I asked myself rhetorically, what do you really know about Iraq? The answer, which boiled down to “nothing much,” led me to a soon-to-close-forever Borders outlet, where I purchased a copy of Charles Tripp’s A History of Iraq at a knock-down price.

 

Tripp is Professor of Politics in the Middle East at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London. His survey history of Iraq spans more than 200 years, from the period of Ottoman rule to the fall of Saddam Hussein and the establishment of the current parliamentary republic. For anyone who might still be sanguine about the prospects for stable democracy in Iraq, it’s a sobering read.

 

I learned from Professor Tripp’s book that Iraq is a country utterly without experience of democratic governance. From the foundation of the state in the 1920s to the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, Iraq has always been ruled by a despotic government of elites, whether civilian or military, with no real power devolved to the people. Moreover, changes of regime have typically been effected by violence. When the monarchy was overthrown by a cabal of army officers in 1958, King Faisal II and several members of his family were shot dead outside the royal palace after their surrender. The coup leader, General Abd al-Karim Qasim, became prime minister of the new Republic of Iraq until he too was deposed and summarily executed in 1963. Qasim’s bullet-riddled body was displayed on Iraqi TV.

 

None of this is to say that the desire for freedom is absent in Iraq. Clearly it exists. But the sad truth is that neither Iraq’s current rulers nor the people of that unfortunate country really understand how to make freedom workable within the framework of a representative government.

 

Iraq’s sectarian and ethnic divisions make the emergence of a stable democratic government seem even less likely. One of the most interesting aspects of Professor Tripp’s book is its discussion of the Kurdish issue. Decades of oppression by the Arab-dominated governments of Baghdad have permanently estranged the Kurds from Iraq. Having achieved substantial autonomy in the wake of Saddam Hussein’s fall, the Kurds have no intention of giving it up now and are clearly determined to achieve full independence. These aspirations run in the opposite direction from Iraqi nationalism—if such a thing can really be said to exist.

 

Of course, it’s possible that Iraq will beat the odds by fashioning itself into a decently governed country. But considering its troubled history, its deep internal divisions, the ill will of its neighbors and its lack of a democratic tradition, this seems unlikely. Now that the United States has, thanks to the near-criminal ineptitude of the Obama Administration, abandoned Iraq to its fate, the country’s future appears grim indeed.

 

A History of Iraq helped me to understand how difficult a task America assumed when it tried to implant democracy in Mesopotamia. Perhaps, in fact, that task was impossible. Or maybe we just gave up too soon. Read Professor Tripp’s excellent, accessible book and judge for yourself.


Posted by tmg110 at 2:27 PM EDT
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Friday, 28 October 2011
Outside Their Experience
Topic: Liberal Fascism

 

Few things in Muammar Qaddafi’s life became him as well as his manner of leaving it. The tyrant’s gruesome end was clear evidence that the hand of cosmic justice definitely does intervene in human affairs from time to time. Yes, yes, I understand the arguments in favor of keeping Qaddafi alive and putting him on trial—but in revolutionary times, atavistic passions rule. The man who subjects his political enemies to summary execution really cannot complain when he himself meets the same fate.

 

But of course, our transnational leftie elites cannot quite accept the outcome in Libya. “The UN human rights office spokesperson said that he expects the UN commission already investigating potential human rights abuse in Libya would look into the case,” according to the Wikipedia page dealing with the dictator’s death. But of course.

 

Well, Saddam Hussein did get a trial, and the usual suspects including Amnesty International still complained about “human rights abuses.” And they were shocked—shocked—when Saddam’s executioners reviled him on the scaffold. The hand-wringers behaved as if as if the numberless crimes of the Iraqi tyrant had been erased from the ledger of history. It’s understandable, I suppose. Few people in the West—including human rights activists—have direct experience of tyranny, terror and murder on the scale practiced by such creatures as Muammar Qaddafi and Saddam Hussein. The passions associated with such things are totally beyond their comprehension.


Posted by tmg110 at 10:25 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 26 October 2011
Who Controls the Past. . .
Topic: Decline of the West

 

Reflecting on the Occupy Wall Street protest movement, I’ve concluded that among its amorphous goals is a yearning to escape into the past.

 

Many observers and commentators sympathetic to the movement have bemoaned the fact that its goals are so amorphous. If only OWS could get its act together, they sigh, it might shape itself into a political force to rival the Tea Party. What these observers don’t understand—or perfer to overlook—is that OWS exists to meet the psychological rather than the financial or economic needs of its rank and file. Barring the usual far-Left suspects, who flock in the direction of such street demonstrations like flies to rotting meat, most of the OWS protesters really have no idea why they’re there. But being there makes them feel good, so they wave their signs and chant.

 

As I noted before, the OWS movement embodies some legitimate gripes, e.g. the cost of a college education and the burden of student loans. That’s all they are, though—gripes. Somebody should do something about the plight of a twenty-four-year-old woman who borrowed $50,000 to obtain a degree in eco-feminism, cannot find a good job, and is now living with her parents while waitressing at the Olive Garden. But who should do something and what, precisely should be done? “They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right,” runs one of the charges in the “Declaration of the Occupation of New York City,” billed as “the first official, collective statement of the protesters in Zuccotti Park.” Who are “they”? Never mind. Education is a “human right,” you see, which means that “society” needs to pony up the $50,000 to bail out that bachelor of eco-feminism. OWS demonstrators seem oblivious to the fact that “they” in this case are the very universities they attended, whose sky-high tuition and fees necessitated those large student loans.

 

But it feels good to protest, and when one’s target is some large, abstract entity—“Wall Street,” “capitalism,” “the one percent,” etc.—it’s easy to strike a pose of moral righteousness. And striking that pose, preening for the TV cameras, is an act of escapism. Escape to where? To the Sixties—where else?

 

False memories of that low, dishonest decade continue to pollute America’s collective consciousness. The responsibility for this rests primarily with the baby boomers, who have thoroughly romanticized the Sixties, airbrushing out its ugly blemishes: the Weather Underground, the Black Panthers, the drugs, the dirt, the squalor, the wasted lives and above all, the systematic promulgation of a great lie about the evil of America. Echoes of that lie reverberate in the chants and demands of the OWS protesters. And, perhaps subconsciously, they understand what they're doing. The Occupy Wall Street movement forges a connection between its participants and a moment in history. Never mind that it’s a false history based on nostalgia and doublethink—it feels good.


Posted by tmg110 at 10:15 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 26 October 2011 10:23 AM EDT
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Monday, 24 October 2011
And just to clarify. . .
Topic: Decline of the West

…I'm not at all sorry about the demise of Muammar Qaddafi—who definitely got what was coming. I just wonder why the United States should have bothered to support his overthrow in favor of a radical Islamist regime? "From bad to worse" seems to be the core principle of US foreign policy in the Age of Barry.


Posted by tmg110 at 9:14 AM EDT
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Good Job Barry!
Topic: Decline of the West

 

Democracy, Obama style, comes to liberated Libya: “Libya's interim leader outlined more radical plans to introduce Islamic law than expected as he declared the official liberation of the country.”

 

These “radical plans” include the legalization of polygamy. But feminists need not get too upset: Libyan men are restricted to no more than four wives. And (in a nod to Occupy Wall Street?) Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, Libya’s interim president, has announced that banks will no longer be permitted to loan money at interest. "Interest creates disease and hatred among people," he explained.

 

Sounds like the new, improved Libya is off to a flying start!


Posted by tmg110 at 9:12 AM EDT
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Thanks for your service, darling, and goodbye. . .
Topic: Decline of the West

 

Somehow I missed this story when it came out in 2010. But yesterday, while searching for more information about Wife & Mother of the Year Stacey Hessler (see below), I stumbled across Courtney Cook’s “How to Leave a Soldier.” With no apparent sense of shame, she permitted Salon to publish this truly horrific document, the opening paragraphs of which give you the flavor of the whole:

 

You’d be surprised how easy it is to leave a soldier on deployment. You can do it with a letter. (He can’t argue with you. He doesn’t have a phone.) If you lay the groundwork early, saying to the soldier before he leaves, “This will be the end of us, we might as well admit it,” it’s that much easier. The letter won’t even come as a shock.

 

And if you have children with that soldier? You can handle all that with a letter, too. He’ll write it—because he cares about the kids, because he wants to work with you to do what’s best for them even though you’re leaving him—and you’ll give it to them. Here again, you will avoid a nasty confrontation. Who will they cry to? You? You’re just the teary-eyed bearer of the letter. Him? The one who’s sweating it out in the desert?

 

There will be no moving truck, no boxes, no house torn asunder. The soldier is peeing in a bucket as you pack. He doesn’t care who gets the couch.

 

The cruelty necessary to commit such an act of betrayal is probably not so rare in today’s self-esteem-focused culture. And for sure, Ms. Cook has no doubt that it’s all about her:

 

Then came 9/11. My husband [a reservist at the time], like so many others, saw the attacks as a call to action. He went back on active duty and volunteered for a tour in Egypt. Our children were old enough to miss their father now. I put a calendar up in the kitchen so we could check off the days, took them both for cupcakes to cheer them up as we walked home from kindergarten. A part of me was proud of how brave we were all being. The other part was weary with being brave. I took a job at an independent bookstore and started spending time with the young, funny, book-reading guys I met there. When John came back things were awkward. I couldn’t stop myself from being angry, couldn’t help feeling abandoned.

 

Oh, my goodness—poor Courtney! I suppose she would have been mightily offended if her soldier husband had exhibited anger and feelings of abandonment when she dumped him via letter while he was on deployment. Fortunately for their children, however, he exhibited the kind of class that’s foreign to his ex-wife’s world view.

 

Incidentally, Cook didn’t stay single for long:

 

I am married to a lithe, blue-eyed Marxist whose dissertation was on U.S. imperialism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a man who participated in war protests in Santa Cruz, Calif., during the winter I lived at Fort Knox. He has two children of his own — bright, intense redheads, close in age to mine. I live with him in a tiny apartment in Manhattan, and when we can, we commute together to work. On weekends if we are not at a museum or movie together, we are at home right up next to each other.

 

A “lithe blue-eyed Marxist!” Let us hope that differing interpretations of dialectical materialism do not culminate in a marital crisis.

 

But I'm happy to report that in the end cosmic justice took a hand, frustrating Courtney Cook’s attempt to leave her past behind:

 

Last July my son, the baby that was born to television coverage of Operation Desert Storm, said goodbye to his high school friends, shaved his head and enrolled in the United States Naval Academy. I am deeply proud of him, but it was my ex-husband who stood with my son on Induction Day. I could not bear to be there, could not watch the child of my body step away from the safe, civilian world I’d tried to so desperately to create for myself and him.

 

Actually Courtney, it’s people like your ex-husband, your son, my daughter and—come to think of it—me who maintain that “safe, civilian world” of yours. So you’re welcome.


Posted by tmg110 at 8:55 AM EDT
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Sunday, 23 October 2011
From A to Z
Topic: Liberal Fascism

 

So yesterday morning I was watching the news and along came this story about a Florida woman who abandoned her family and traveled to New York for the Occupy Wall Street protest. Stacey Hessler has been camping out in Zuccotti Park for two weeks now, during which time she’s managed to speak by phone with her husband and four children just three times. Not to worry, though! Friends in Florida are taking care of the kids. And Ms. Hessler is staying warm at night with the help of one Rami Shamir, a 30-year-old radical who works as a waiter at a French bistro when he’s not busy scheming the overthrow of the system.

 

So far, so boringly typical of the OWS mob. But then Hessler added this cherry to the hot fudge sundae of her goofed-up life: She compared her abandonment of her family to service in the armed forces. “Military people leave their families all the time, so why should I feel bad?” Hessler said. “I’m fighting for a better world.”

 

My daughter, a serving soldier on leave after a year in Afghanistan, happened to be sitting with me when Hessler tried this one on with the TV audience. We agreed that except for the IEDs, the suicide bombers, the snipers, the rabid dogs, the flies, the dust and the lack of cold beer, service in Afghanistan is very much like camping out under a tarpaulin in Zuccotti Park…


Posted by tmg110 at 5:16 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 23 October 2011 5:18 PM EDT
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Friday, 21 October 2011
If You Play with Fire. . .
Topic: Decline of the West

 

…you’re liable to get your fingers burned. Barack Obama and the Democrats should have recalled that tidbit of folk wisdom before they started fawning all over the Occupy Wall Street mob. For this is the result:

 

After the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent a recent email urging supporters to sign a petition backing the wave of Occupy Wall Street protests, phones at the party committee started ringing.

Banking executives personally called the offices of DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and DCCC Finance Chairman Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) last week demanding answers, three financial services lobbyists told POLITICO.

 

“They were livid,” said one Democratic lobbyist with banking clients.

 

The execs asked the lawmakers: “What are you doing? Do you even understand some of the things that they’ve called for?” said another lobbyist with financial services clients who is a former Democratic Senate aide.

 

Democrats’ friends on Wall Street have a message for them: you can’t have it both ways.

 

“You can’t have it both ways.” Something tells me that’s going to be a tough sell to Mr. Wonderful…excuse me, President Obama…for whom having it both ways is both a political principle and a lifestyle choice.


Posted by tmg110 at 11:25 AM EDT
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Thursday, 20 October 2011
Death of a Tyrant
Topic: Decline of the West

 

If this story is true—as it appears to be—the world has seen the last of one of its most repulsive tyrants. Muammar Qaddafi’s dictatorial sojourn began in 1969 when as a young army officer he engineered the coup that toppled the Libyan monarchy, emerging as Libya’s undisputed strongman. Colonel Qaddafi (as with false modesty he was pleased to style himself) not only oppressed his own people but lent support to terrorist groups around the world, from the PLO to the IRA. Among his many crimes was the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people including many Americans.

 

Despite his blood-handed record, in the final period of his rule Qaddafi proved adept at managing relations with Europe and the United States. In 2003, his government admitted responsibility (though not guilt—go figure) for the Lockerbie bombing and agreed to pay compensation to the families of the victims. Qaddafi further curried favor with the US by agreeing to dismantle his weapons of mass destruction programs and cooperate with the CIA in the pursuit of 9/11 terrorists. In short order, he became the beneficiary of Western largesse. The US lifted economic sanctions on Libya and reestablished diplomatic relations with the Qaddafi regime. He was feted in Brussels by the European Union. Disgracefully, then-US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and British Prime Minister Tony Blair kowtowed to the Libyan tyrant during visits to Tripoli.

 

This degenerate thug with his lunatic outfits, his incoherent rants and his eccentric brutality will not be missed. But it’s a shame—and a telling commentary—that the so-called world community tolerated Colonel Muammar Qaddafi for so long.


Posted by tmg110 at 11:29 AM EDT
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Welcome, Home Lexi!
Topic: Freedom's Guardian

PFC Gregg arrived in Chicago late Monday night. We met her at Midway Airport and brought her home to Granger. After a couple of weeks in Florida/Arizona/Las Vegas, you'd think she'd be ready for some downtime. But no: Lexi and her mother abandoned me yesterday afternoon for an overnight casino trip. But I'm not complaining. It's great to have my girls together again, albeit for a matter of days. And who knows? Maybe this time they'll win big!


Posted by tmg110 at 10:37 AM EDT
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