Month: March 2018

The Most Amazing Special Forces Fighters You've Never Heard Of


On September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda terrorists horrifically attacked the United States, killing 2,996 people, injuring over 6,000, and causing $10 billion in infrastructure damage.  President George W. Bush in addressing the nation stated how “these acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.”  This was no more evident than when U.S. Special Forces teams were deployed as a first response to what happened on 9/11.  A recent movie, 12 Strong, based on the book by Doug Stanton, Horse Soldiers, documents those soldiers’ stories.

A former Green Beret, Scott Neil was part of a specialized direct action unit assigned to infiltrate Afghanistan.  He was one of the select few, from the U.S. Army’s 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), to put America’s first “boots on THE ground” in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Neil told American Thinker, “We have always been the silent warriors, deploying around the world.  In this case, we felt vengefulness, pride, and wanted justice.  Our mission was to kill or capture al-Qaeda and Taliban senior leadership.  There was a military-centric focus, which unfortunately has now morphed to provide stability to the Afghan government and infrastructure.  Back then we tried not to appear as American soldiers and used transportation similar to what the tribes used.  Today, the infiltration is a twelve-vehicle convoy that wear uniforms alien to the environment.  When we first went in, we used a low-visibility footprint, integrating with the population, with the Afghans as the primary force.  We were there to train, advise, and assist.”

This small band of Green Berets was the strategy chosen by Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense, instead of a large conventional force.  Stanton wanted to show through the movie and book how “the Special Forces are skilled in language and will use the cultural and religious aspects of that community to their advantage.  They are able to react quickly to a changing environment that has a lot of variables.”  Neil concurs: “We brought together these warring tribal factions to support our objective, and used surprise, speed, and energy.”

Using the model of blending in with the insurgency, they fought alongside those fighting the Taliban.  There, tribes, whom Stanton calls “the resistance fighters, were known as the Northern Alliance.  I think Afghanistan is really a state and not a nation, with many autonomous regions that are divided up along ethnic lines.  Within months, the Green Berets, along with the tribes and air support, were able to destroy the Taliban and chase bin Laden into Pakistan.  Part of the reason for their success was using unconventional warfare and direct action.  They were covert, grew beards to blend in with the force they are fighting alongside.”

These special warriors were not subjected to the disastrous rules of engagement of the Obama days.  Instead, they were given the authority to make unconventional decisions.  Stanton wrote how “the captain was able to make pretty big decisions on the part of the U.S. along with his counterpart, the Afghan general, who actually participated in the battle instead of sitting on the sidelines.  One decision made was to ride alongside their Afghan counterparts on horses.   These horse soldiers combined cavalry warfare with twenty-first-century aerial bombardment technology to defeat the enemy.”

Neil explained, “Those that did ride had no cavalry training.  The only one who knew how to ride a horse was the captain, who had a rodeo scholarship at the University of Kansas.  The others learned on the spot, as they ate what the Afghans ate, fought as they fought, and used the horses as a form of transportation as they did.  All of us who went into Afghanistan during the early days, the ‘horsemen’ and those of us who did not ride horses, were a very small, highly trained, and highly skilled group that was given a very broad mission with limited technologies.”

Both the movie and book chronicle how dangerous it was for the American forces, considering they did not always know who the bad guys were and who the good guys were.  A quote from Horse Soldiers hammers the point home: “[t]he teams were now surrounded by the very soldiers whom minutes earlier, they had been planning to kill.”

Both book and movie account for how the Taliban is pure evil.  Taliban fighters forced youngsters to fight for them by threatening to kill their families.  General Abdul Rashid Dostum, from the Afghan Northern Alliance, refused “to live in a country where a man can’t drink vodka and where women can’t wear skirts or go to school.  The Taliban had marched into the city of Mazar, laid waste, killing an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 people.”

Unfortunately, these silent warriors never get the recognition they so rightly deserve.  Stanton captured this problem with a scene in the book, where one of the Special Forces soldiers, Ben Milo, is dropped off late at night in the middle of a U.S. park and has to call his wife to pick him up.  He wants Americans to understand that these silent Special Forces “never received a bona fide public homecoming celebration like the kind the guys in the regular Army got.  There are no parades for these quiet professionals.”

The author writes for American Thinker.  She has done book reviews and author interviews and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.

On September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda terrorists horrifically attacked the United States, killing 2,996 people, injuring over 6,000, and causing $10 billion in infrastructure damage.  President George W. Bush in addressing the nation stated how “these acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.”  This was no more evident than when U.S. Special Forces teams were deployed as a first response to what happened on 9/11.  A recent movie, 12 Strong, based on the book by Doug Stanton, Horse Soldiers, documents those soldiers’ stories.

A former Green Beret, Scott Neil was part of a specialized direct action unit assigned to infiltrate Afghanistan.  He was one of the select few, from the U.S. Army’s 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), to put America’s first “boots on THE ground” in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Neil told American Thinker, “We have always been the silent warriors, deploying around the world.  In this case, we felt vengefulness, pride, and wanted justice.  Our mission was to kill or capture al-Qaeda and Taliban senior leadership.  There was a military-centric focus, which unfortunately has now morphed to provide stability to the Afghan government and infrastructure.  Back then we tried not to appear as American soldiers and used transportation similar to what the tribes used.  Today, the infiltration is a twelve-vehicle convoy that wear uniforms alien to the environment.  When we first went in, we used a low-visibility footprint, integrating with the population, with the Afghans as the primary force.  We were there to train, advise, and assist.”

This small band of Green Berets was the strategy chosen by Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense, instead of a large conventional force.  Stanton wanted to show through the movie and book how “the Special Forces are skilled in language and will use the cultural and religious aspects of that community to their advantage.  They are able to react quickly to a changing environment that has a lot of variables.”  Neil concurs: “We brought together these warring tribal factions to support our objective, and used surprise, speed, and energy.”

Using the model of blending in with the insurgency, they fought alongside those fighting the Taliban.  There, tribes, whom Stanton calls “the resistance fighters, were known as the Northern Alliance.  I think Afghanistan is really a state and not a nation, with many autonomous regions that are divided up along ethnic lines.  Within months, the Green Berets, along with the tribes and air support, were able to destroy the Taliban and chase bin Laden into Pakistan.  Part of the reason for their success was using unconventional warfare and direct action.  They were covert, grew beards to blend in with the force they are fighting alongside.”

These special warriors were not subjected to the disastrous rules of engagement of the Obama days.  Instead, they were given the authority to make unconventional decisions.  Stanton wrote how “the captain was able to make pretty big decisions on the part of the U.S. along with his counterpart, the Afghan general, who actually participated in the battle instead of sitting on the sidelines.  One decision made was to ride alongside their Afghan counterparts on horses.   These horse soldiers combined cavalry warfare with twenty-first-century aerial bombardment technology to defeat the enemy.”

Neil explained, “Those that did ride had no cavalry training.  The only one who knew how to ride a horse was the captain, who had a rodeo scholarship at the University of Kansas.  The others learned on the spot, as they ate what the Afghans ate, fought as they fought, and used the horses as a form of transportation as they did.  All of us who went into Afghanistan during the early days, the ‘horsemen’ and those of us who did not ride horses, were a very small, highly trained, and highly skilled group that was given a very broad mission with limited technologies.”

Both the movie and book chronicle how dangerous it was for the American forces, considering they did not always know who the bad guys were and who the good guys were.  A quote from Horse Soldiers hammers the point home: “[t]he teams were now surrounded by the very soldiers whom minutes earlier, they had been planning to kill.”

Both book and movie account for how the Taliban is pure evil.  Taliban fighters forced youngsters to fight for them by threatening to kill their families.  General Abdul Rashid Dostum, from the Afghan Northern Alliance, refused “to live in a country where a man can’t drink vodka and where women can’t wear skirts or go to school.  The Taliban had marched into the city of Mazar, laid waste, killing an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 people.”

Unfortunately, these silent warriors never get the recognition they so rightly deserve.  Stanton captured this problem with a scene in the book, where one of the Special Forces soldiers, Ben Milo, is dropped off late at night in the middle of a U.S. park and has to call his wife to pick him up.  He wants Americans to understand that these silent Special Forces “never received a bona fide public homecoming celebration like the kind the guys in the regular Army got.  There are no parades for these quiet professionals.”

The author writes for American Thinker.  She has done book reviews and author interviews and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.



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Dems and the 2nd Amendment: Why Repeal What You Already Ignore?


Make no mistake about it: in the hands of the American left, the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is not safe.  For that matter, virtually nothing wise or precious or sacred or holy or otherwise good is safe with those corrupted by a liberal worldview.  Whether marriage, the family, the church, life in the womb, education, small businesses, fossil fuels, law enforcement, the military, or the Constitution, time and again, liberals have proven themselves to be on the wrong side of the truth.

What’s more, in the hands of today’s leftists, the Second Amendment – and anything else in the U.S. Constitution with which modern liberals are unhappy – is in jeopardy whether or not it is “repealed.”  As most now well know, John Paul Stevens – a retired associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court – recently gave his direct endorsement to the shockingly foolish – but increasingly popular among Democrats – idea that the Second Amendment should be repealed.

Few should be surprised by Stevens’s position in this matter.  With the way too close Heller decision a decade ago, he almost got his wish.  In 2008, liberals were a mere one vote short of effectively killing the Second Amendment.  In a republic that properly respected and understood its Constitution, Heller wouldn’t have been necessary, and under the absurd circumstances that such a case should make it to the highest court in the land, the vote to uphold the Second Amendment wouldn’t be close.

As Charles Cooke put it:

Heller recognized what was obvious to the amendment’s drafters, to the people who debated it, and to the jurists of their era and beyond: That “right of the people” means “right of the people,” as it does everywhere else in both the Bill of Rights and in the common law that preceded it.  A Second Amendment without the supposedly pernicious Heller “interpretation” wouldn’t be any impediment to regulation at all.  It would be a dead letter.  It would be an effective repeal.  It would be the end of the right itself.

In their efforts to remake America into their image of a leftist utopia, rarely have liberals let the Constitution stand in their way.  For decades now – whether as public executives, legislators, or judges – liberals have conveniently ignored the Constitution or “interpreted” it beyond recognition.

For two centuries, the “right” to health care, housing, a “living wage,” marriage, education, and the like escaped the vast majority of Americans – including our politicians and jurists.  In the late 19th century, President Grover Cleveland explained well the prevailing thought on government and a citizen’s “right” to public funds.  While taking a stand against government aid involving a deserving orphanage in New York City during a severe economic crisis, Cleveland – a Democrat – said:

I will not be a party to stealing money from one group of citizens to give to another group of citizens. No matter what the need or apparent justification, once the coffers of the federal government are opened to the public, there will be no shutting them again[.]

In 1887, after vetoing a bill that appropriated $10,000 to buy grain for several drought-stricken Texas counties, Cleveland declared:

Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood.

Nevertheless, in recent decades, as they increasingly made a god of government and sought to build a massive welfare state (through which votes could be purchased), Democrats and those like-minded have fully embraced the notion of “paternal care on the part of the government.”

Today’s liberalism stands upon two duplicitous notions that both require a modern “interpretation” of our Constitution: 1) the godless pagan principle of “Do What Thou Wilt” and 2) the presence of an “omnicompetent” government that is all too eager to mother us.  And as C.S. Lewis put it, “[i]f we are to be mothered, mother must know best.”

Of course, and in spite of the claims of modern liberals, such a political philosophy does not bring justice, and it certainly does not promote liberty.  On the contrary, as Lewis also noted, such a modern State exists “not to protect our rights but to do us good or make us good – anyway, to do something to us or to make us something.”  Something, indeed.  Lewis depressingly concludes that under such a regime, “[t]here is nothing left of which we can say to them, ‘Mind your own business.’  Our whole lives are their business.”

One of the primary functions of the U.S. Constitution, as the Preamble expressly declares, is to “secure the Blessings of Liberty.”  One of the chief means through which such Blessings are “secured” is by ensuring the right of the people to arm themselves.  Of course, a government that increasingly makes our “whole lives … [its] business” is in direct conflict with the idea of securing “the Blessings of Liberty.”  Thus, we get “interpretation” of a “living Constitution” – especially when it comes to things like guns.

To repeal a Constitutional amendment is an arduous effort.  Thanks to Barack Obama, Democrats today are in no shape to pursue repeal of anything, but thanks in large part to men and women like John Paul Stevens, they don’t have to.

Trevor Grant Thomas: At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
www.trevorgrantthomas.com

Trevor is the author of the 
The Miracle and Magnificence of America.

tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Image: mike via Flickr.

Make no mistake about it: in the hands of the American left, the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is not safe.  For that matter, virtually nothing wise or precious or sacred or holy or otherwise good is safe with those corrupted by a liberal worldview.  Whether marriage, the family, the church, life in the womb, education, small businesses, fossil fuels, law enforcement, the military, or the Constitution, time and again, liberals have proven themselves to be on the wrong side of the truth.

What’s more, in the hands of today’s leftists, the Second Amendment – and anything else in the U.S. Constitution with which modern liberals are unhappy – is in jeopardy whether or not it is “repealed.”  As most now well know, John Paul Stevens – a retired associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court – recently gave his direct endorsement to the shockingly foolish – but increasingly popular among Democrats – idea that the Second Amendment should be repealed.

Few should be surprised by Stevens’s position in this matter.  With the way too close Heller decision a decade ago, he almost got his wish.  In 2008, liberals were a mere one vote short of effectively killing the Second Amendment.  In a republic that properly respected and understood its Constitution, Heller wouldn’t have been necessary, and under the absurd circumstances that such a case should make it to the highest court in the land, the vote to uphold the Second Amendment wouldn’t be close.

As Charles Cooke put it:

Heller recognized what was obvious to the amendment’s drafters, to the people who debated it, and to the jurists of their era and beyond: That “right of the people” means “right of the people,” as it does everywhere else in both the Bill of Rights and in the common law that preceded it.  A Second Amendment without the supposedly pernicious Heller “interpretation” wouldn’t be any impediment to regulation at all.  It would be a dead letter.  It would be an effective repeal.  It would be the end of the right itself.

In their efforts to remake America into their image of a leftist utopia, rarely have liberals let the Constitution stand in their way.  For decades now – whether as public executives, legislators, or judges – liberals have conveniently ignored the Constitution or “interpreted” it beyond recognition.

For two centuries, the “right” to health care, housing, a “living wage,” marriage, education, and the like escaped the vast majority of Americans – including our politicians and jurists.  In the late 19th century, President Grover Cleveland explained well the prevailing thought on government and a citizen’s “right” to public funds.  While taking a stand against government aid involving a deserving orphanage in New York City during a severe economic crisis, Cleveland – a Democrat – said:

I will not be a party to stealing money from one group of citizens to give to another group of citizens. No matter what the need or apparent justification, once the coffers of the federal government are opened to the public, there will be no shutting them again[.]

In 1887, after vetoing a bill that appropriated $10,000 to buy grain for several drought-stricken Texas counties, Cleveland declared:

Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood.

Nevertheless, in recent decades, as they increasingly made a god of government and sought to build a massive welfare state (through which votes could be purchased), Democrats and those like-minded have fully embraced the notion of “paternal care on the part of the government.”

Today’s liberalism stands upon two duplicitous notions that both require a modern “interpretation” of our Constitution: 1) the godless pagan principle of “Do What Thou Wilt” and 2) the presence of an “omnicompetent” government that is all too eager to mother us.  And as C.S. Lewis put it, “[i]f we are to be mothered, mother must know best.”

Of course, and in spite of the claims of modern liberals, such a political philosophy does not bring justice, and it certainly does not promote liberty.  On the contrary, as Lewis also noted, such a modern State exists “not to protect our rights but to do us good or make us good – anyway, to do something to us or to make us something.”  Something, indeed.  Lewis depressingly concludes that under such a regime, “[t]here is nothing left of which we can say to them, ‘Mind your own business.’  Our whole lives are their business.”

One of the primary functions of the U.S. Constitution, as the Preamble expressly declares, is to “secure the Blessings of Liberty.”  One of the chief means through which such Blessings are “secured” is by ensuring the right of the people to arm themselves.  Of course, a government that increasingly makes our “whole lives … [its] business” is in direct conflict with the idea of securing “the Blessings of Liberty.”  Thus, we get “interpretation” of a “living Constitution” – especially when it comes to things like guns.

To repeal a Constitutional amendment is an arduous effort.  Thanks to Barack Obama, Democrats today are in no shape to pursue repeal of anything, but thanks in large part to men and women like John Paul Stevens, they don’t have to.

Trevor Grant Thomas: At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
www.trevorgrantthomas.com

Trevor is the author of the 
The Miracle and Magnificence of America.

tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Image: mike via Flickr.



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Can Huber Investigate His Boss Rosenstein?


Some who have long been investing the Deep State coup don’t think so.  House Freedom Caucus member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) exploded on The Ingraham Angle on Fox Thursday night on both the justification for a special counsel and the Mueller-like conflict of interest inherent in Huber’s appointment:

“When the attorney general writes Congress and says, only under ‘extraordinary circumstances’ do we appoint a second special counsel, well, how about these facts, Laura?” Jordan asked.


“James Comey’s been fired; Deputy Director Andrew Mccabe has been fired; Jim Baker, former chief counsel of the FBI, has been demoted and reassigned; Peter Strzok, former deputy head of counterintelligence, has been demoted and reassigned; and Lisa Page, former FBI counsel, has been demoted and reassigned.  If those aren’t extraordinary circumstances warranting a second special counsel, I don’t know what the heck is.


“So I don’t know why the attorney general keeps postponing this,” Jordan continued.  “Everyone in town knows we need a second special counsel to get to the bottom of this. How can Mr. Huber – he’s probably a great lawyer, I don’t know much about Mr. Huber from Utah – but how can he investigate his boss, Rod Rosenstein?  That’s who he reports to.

House Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) echoed Jordan’s sentiment, reciting his mistrust of anything the DOJ, which has been dragging its feet in cooperating with House investigations, says or does:

“I disagree with the attorney general, and I can tell you tonight, I went through and reviewed some redacted things that were given to our committee, and on seven pages, there were 12 material facts – material facts, not just names – material facts that were omitted by the Department of Justice,” Meadows said.


“It’s time that they come clean and give Congress what we need,” he continued.  “When we look at the multiple reactions that have taken place, this Department of Justice is not complying with the subpoena and with the oversight responsibility we have in Congress.  For the attorney general to suggest that there is not enough there is just extremely disappointing.”

Former House Oversight chairman Jason Chaffetz noted in a tweet:

Rosenstein is asking Huber to do something that’s unfair and inappropriate.  You’re asking Huber to investigate his boss.

It can be said that Huber’s appointment has all the advantages of a special counsel and none of the disadvantages.  Sessions can fire Huber if he strays off the reservation or just doesn’t do his job properly.  But would he?  Sessions is the man who recused himself from the Russian collusion investigation when he didn’t have to.  This is the A.G. who had to be dragged kicking to this point despite evidence a first-year law student couldn’t ignore.  This is the A.G. who fought to prevent testimony from the FBI informant in an earlier FBI investigation into Russian attempts to gain access to U.S. nuclear resources such as uranium, an investigation in which both Mueller and Rosenstein were up to their eyeballs. 

Rod Rosenstein misled the FISA court and signed off on the FISA application to spy on Trump’s campaign adviser, Carter Page, actions documented in the four-page House Intelligence Committee memo:

A secret, highly contentious Republican memo reveals that Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein approved an application to extend surveillance of a former Trump campaign associate shortly after taking office last spring, according to three people familiar with it.


The renewal shows that the Justice Department under President Trump saw reason to believe that the associate, Carter Page, was acting as a Russian agent[.] …


The memo’s primary contention is that F.B.I. and Justice Department officials failed to adequately explain to an intelligence court judge in initially seeking a warrant for surveillance of Mr. Page that they were relying in part on research by an investigator, Christopher Steele, that had been financed by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign[.]

Rod Rosenstein committed a self-evident fraud upon the FISA Court.  And now his subordinate is going to investigate him?  Can the swamp drain itself?  Carter Page has vehemently denied the allegations in the dossier and has sought the release of the memo to show its falseness and to show that the DOJ of Rod Rosenstein and the FBI of Andrew McCabe colluded with the Democrats to keep Hillary Clinton out of prison and Donald Trump out of the White House:

The former Trump campaign adviser who was spied on by the U.S. government prior to the 2016 election is “very much” in favor of the release of a controversial congressional memo alleging abuses of the surveillance warrant application process[.] …


Page pressed for the release the FISA application in a May 14 letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.


“If FISA warrants indeed exist as has been extensively reported, wide-ranging false evidence will be inevitably revealed in light of the fact that I have never done anything remotely unlawful in Russia or with any Russian person at any point in my life,” he wrote.


What remains unanswered about the application for the warrant on Page is how heavily it relied on the dossier and whether the FBI and DOJ vetted the allegations made about him by Steele[.] …


Page has vehemently denied the allegations made against him in the dossier, which was put together by former British spy Christopher Steele, commissioned by opposition research firm Fusion GPS, and financed by the Clinton campaign and DNC.


In the 35-page dossier, Steele alleges that Page was the Trump campaign’s main backchannel to the Kremlin for the purposes of campaign collusion.  Steele claims that Page was working with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and that during a trip to Moscow in July 2016, he met secretly with two Kremlin cronies, Igor Sechin and Igor Diveykin.


The dossier also alleges that it was Page who “conceived and promoted” the idea of having hacked DNC emails released through WikiLeaks in order to swing Bernie Sanders supporters away from Hillary Clinton and into the Trump camp.


Page denies all of the claims.  He says he does not know Manafort and has never spoken with Sechin and Diveykin.

Needless to say, Rosenstein did not grant Page’s request to see the FISA application to determine how much it was based on Steele’s fake dossier.  Nor has he expressed any dissatisfaction with the Mueller witch hunt he was responsible for launching,

In an interview with a local D.C. TV station, Rosenstein admired the monster he created, who now runs an alleged investigation into supposed Russia-Trump collusion that quickly morphed into what amounts to a silent coup against a sitting president of the United States:

The U.S. Department of Justice official who appointed special counsel Robert Mueller to investigate Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election said he is satisfied with the special counsel’s work[.] …


“The Office of Special Counsel, as you know, has a degree of autonomy from the Department of Justice.  But there is appropriate oversight by the department.  That includes budget.  But it also includes certain other details of the office.  It is part of the Department of Justice.  And we’re accountable for it.”

Yes, Mr. Rosenstein, you certainly are accountable for the Mueller witch hunt.  Mueller has picked staff and prosecutors as if he were stocking Hillary Clinton’s Department of Justice.  He has picked a bevy of Clinton donors, an attorney who worked for the Clinton Foundation, a former Watergate assistant prosecutor, and even a senior adviser to Eric Holder.  Objective professionals all.

Oh, what tangled webs Rosenstein and the FBI have woven.  Republican lawmakers, needless to say, are not amused at all this, casting the obvious doubts on Rosenstein’s praise of Special Counsel Mueller:

Several conservative lawmakers held a news conference Wednesday demanding more details of how the FBI proceeded last year in its probes of Hillary Clinton’s use of personal email and Russian election interference. This week, the conservative group Judicial Watch released an internal Justice Department email that, the group said, showed political bias against Trump by one of Mueller’s senior prosecutors[.] …


“The question really is, if Mueller was doing such a great job on investigating the Russian collusion, why could he have not found the conflict of interest within their own agency?”  Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) asked at the news conference.  Meadows, leader of the Freedom Caucus, cited a litany of other issues that he said show bias on the part of the FBI and Mueller, including past political donations by lawyers on Mueller’s team.

A good question Rosenstein won’t answer.  Rosenstein is satisfied with Mueller, and why shouldn’t he be?  The two go back a long way and cooperated in the cover-up of an FBI investigation into Russia’s use of bribes, kickbacks, and money-laundering to grab U.S. uranium supplies and real collusion with Hillary Clinton, only to resurface years later to chase phantom collusion between Team Trump and Russia.

Mueller and Rosenstein were both involved in the FBI investigation dating back to 2009, with current Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, as noted, up to their eyeballs in covering up evidence of Hillary’s collusion, bordering on treason, with Vladimir Putin’s Russia:

Prior to the Obama administration approving the very controversial deal in 2010 giving Russia 20% of America’s Uranium, the FBI had evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were involved in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering in order to benefit Vladimir Putin, says a report by The Hill[.] …


John Solomon and Alison Spann of The Hill: Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show[.] …


From today’s report we find out that the investigation was supervised by then-U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein, who is now President Trump’s Deputy Attorney General, and then-Assistant FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who is now the deputy FBI director under Trump.


Robert Mueller was head of the FBI from Sept 2001-Sept 2013 until James Comey took over as FBI Director in 2013. They were BOTH involved in this Russian scam being that this case started in 2009 and ended in 2015.

If evidence of bribery, kickbacks, extortion, and money-laundering in the Uranium One affair were not grounds for a special prosecutor assigned to investigate Hillary Clinton, what is?  Rosenstein’s goal apparently has long been to shield Hillary Clinton from prosecution for her crimes and to use any means to bring down the Trump administration he supposedly was appointed to serve.  Now he has stooped so low as to employ a fake Russian dossier in a witch hunt the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy could only envy

Rosenstein, Mueller, McCabe, et al. have used the office of special counsel and a politicized FBI and DOJ to conduct a silent coup against a duly elected president and are unindicted coconspirators in Hillary’s crimes and should be the targets of their very own special counsel.

Rod Rosenstein should be the target of an investigation, not the overseer of one.  Maybe the question before us is not whether a second special counsel is needed, but whether one is needed to investigate just Rod Rosenstein and his Deep State activities.  One wishes Mr. Huber luck.  He will need it.

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine, and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.

While it is reassuring to note that A.G. Jeff Sessions has climbed down from the back side of the milk carton, where his missing visage had been hiding, long enough to appoint Utah U.S. attorney Peter Huber to independently investigate claims of FBI abuses in surveilling the Trump campaign and other matters, one question remains.  Can he investigate the commission of his boss, Rod Rosenstein’s, of a fraud upon the FISA court by signing a FISA warrant application that relied on a fake British-Russian dossier financed by Team Hillary and the DNC?

It is about time we had someone who can convene a jury and subpoena witnesses, but can he and will he present the case mounting against his boss to that grand jury and present his boss with a subpoena?

Some who have long been investing the Deep State coup don’t think so.  House Freedom Caucus member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) exploded on The Ingraham Angle on Fox Thursday night on both the justification for a special counsel and the Mueller-like conflict of interest inherent in Huber’s appointment:

“When the attorney general writes Congress and says, only under ‘extraordinary circumstances’ do we appoint a second special counsel, well, how about these facts, Laura?” Jordan asked.


“James Comey’s been fired; Deputy Director Andrew Mccabe has been fired; Jim Baker, former chief counsel of the FBI, has been demoted and reassigned; Peter Strzok, former deputy head of counterintelligence, has been demoted and reassigned; and Lisa Page, former FBI counsel, has been demoted and reassigned.  If those aren’t extraordinary circumstances warranting a second special counsel, I don’t know what the heck is.


“So I don’t know why the attorney general keeps postponing this,” Jordan continued.  “Everyone in town knows we need a second special counsel to get to the bottom of this. How can Mr. Huber – he’s probably a great lawyer, I don’t know much about Mr. Huber from Utah – but how can he investigate his boss, Rod Rosenstein?  That’s who he reports to.

House Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) echoed Jordan’s sentiment, reciting his mistrust of anything the DOJ, which has been dragging its feet in cooperating with House investigations, says or does:

“I disagree with the attorney general, and I can tell you tonight, I went through and reviewed some redacted things that were given to our committee, and on seven pages, there were 12 material facts – material facts, not just names – material facts that were omitted by the Department of Justice,” Meadows said.


“It’s time that they come clean and give Congress what we need,” he continued.  “When we look at the multiple reactions that have taken place, this Department of Justice is not complying with the subpoena and with the oversight responsibility we have in Congress.  For the attorney general to suggest that there is not enough there is just extremely disappointing.”

Former House Oversight chairman Jason Chaffetz noted in a tweet:

Rosenstein is asking Huber to do something that’s unfair and inappropriate.  You’re asking Huber to investigate his boss.

It can be said that Huber’s appointment has all the advantages of a special counsel and none of the disadvantages.  Sessions can fire Huber if he strays off the reservation or just doesn’t do his job properly.  But would he?  Sessions is the man who recused himself from the Russian collusion investigation when he didn’t have to.  This is the A.G. who had to be dragged kicking to this point despite evidence a first-year law student couldn’t ignore.  This is the A.G. who fought to prevent testimony from the FBI informant in an earlier FBI investigation into Russian attempts to gain access to U.S. nuclear resources such as uranium, an investigation in which both Mueller and Rosenstein were up to their eyeballs. 

Rod Rosenstein misled the FISA court and signed off on the FISA application to spy on Trump’s campaign adviser, Carter Page, actions documented in the four-page House Intelligence Committee memo:

A secret, highly contentious Republican memo reveals that Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein approved an application to extend surveillance of a former Trump campaign associate shortly after taking office last spring, according to three people familiar with it.


The renewal shows that the Justice Department under President Trump saw reason to believe that the associate, Carter Page, was acting as a Russian agent[.] …


The memo’s primary contention is that F.B.I. and Justice Department officials failed to adequately explain to an intelligence court judge in initially seeking a warrant for surveillance of Mr. Page that they were relying in part on research by an investigator, Christopher Steele, that had been financed by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign[.]

Rod Rosenstein committed a self-evident fraud upon the FISA Court.  And now his subordinate is going to investigate him?  Can the swamp drain itself?  Carter Page has vehemently denied the allegations in the dossier and has sought the release of the memo to show its falseness and to show that the DOJ of Rod Rosenstein and the FBI of Andrew McCabe colluded with the Democrats to keep Hillary Clinton out of prison and Donald Trump out of the White House:

The former Trump campaign adviser who was spied on by the U.S. government prior to the 2016 election is “very much” in favor of the release of a controversial congressional memo alleging abuses of the surveillance warrant application process[.] …


Page pressed for the release the FISA application in a May 14 letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.


“If FISA warrants indeed exist as has been extensively reported, wide-ranging false evidence will be inevitably revealed in light of the fact that I have never done anything remotely unlawful in Russia or with any Russian person at any point in my life,” he wrote.


What remains unanswered about the application for the warrant on Page is how heavily it relied on the dossier and whether the FBI and DOJ vetted the allegations made about him by Steele[.] …


Page has vehemently denied the allegations made against him in the dossier, which was put together by former British spy Christopher Steele, commissioned by opposition research firm Fusion GPS, and financed by the Clinton campaign and DNC.


In the 35-page dossier, Steele alleges that Page was the Trump campaign’s main backchannel to the Kremlin for the purposes of campaign collusion.  Steele claims that Page was working with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and that during a trip to Moscow in July 2016, he met secretly with two Kremlin cronies, Igor Sechin and Igor Diveykin.


The dossier also alleges that it was Page who “conceived and promoted” the idea of having hacked DNC emails released through WikiLeaks in order to swing Bernie Sanders supporters away from Hillary Clinton and into the Trump camp.


Page denies all of the claims.  He says he does not know Manafort and has never spoken with Sechin and Diveykin.

Needless to say, Rosenstein did not grant Page’s request to see the FISA application to determine how much it was based on Steele’s fake dossier.  Nor has he expressed any dissatisfaction with the Mueller witch hunt he was responsible for launching,

In an interview with a local D.C. TV station, Rosenstein admired the monster he created, who now runs an alleged investigation into supposed Russia-Trump collusion that quickly morphed into what amounts to a silent coup against a sitting president of the United States:

The U.S. Department of Justice official who appointed special counsel Robert Mueller to investigate Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election said he is satisfied with the special counsel’s work[.] …


“The Office of Special Counsel, as you know, has a degree of autonomy from the Department of Justice.  But there is appropriate oversight by the department.  That includes budget.  But it also includes certain other details of the office.  It is part of the Department of Justice.  And we’re accountable for it.”

Yes, Mr. Rosenstein, you certainly are accountable for the Mueller witch hunt.  Mueller has picked staff and prosecutors as if he were stocking Hillary Clinton’s Department of Justice.  He has picked a bevy of Clinton donors, an attorney who worked for the Clinton Foundation, a former Watergate assistant prosecutor, and even a senior adviser to Eric Holder.  Objective professionals all.

Oh, what tangled webs Rosenstein and the FBI have woven.  Republican lawmakers, needless to say, are not amused at all this, casting the obvious doubts on Rosenstein’s praise of Special Counsel Mueller:

Several conservative lawmakers held a news conference Wednesday demanding more details of how the FBI proceeded last year in its probes of Hillary Clinton’s use of personal email and Russian election interference. This week, the conservative group Judicial Watch released an internal Justice Department email that, the group said, showed political bias against Trump by one of Mueller’s senior prosecutors[.] …


“The question really is, if Mueller was doing such a great job on investigating the Russian collusion, why could he have not found the conflict of interest within their own agency?”  Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) asked at the news conference.  Meadows, leader of the Freedom Caucus, cited a litany of other issues that he said show bias on the part of the FBI and Mueller, including past political donations by lawyers on Mueller’s team.

A good question Rosenstein won’t answer.  Rosenstein is satisfied with Mueller, and why shouldn’t he be?  The two go back a long way and cooperated in the cover-up of an FBI investigation into Russia’s use of bribes, kickbacks, and money-laundering to grab U.S. uranium supplies and real collusion with Hillary Clinton, only to resurface years later to chase phantom collusion between Team Trump and Russia.

Mueller and Rosenstein were both involved in the FBI investigation dating back to 2009, with current Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, as noted, up to their eyeballs in covering up evidence of Hillary’s collusion, bordering on treason, with Vladimir Putin’s Russia:

Prior to the Obama administration approving the very controversial deal in 2010 giving Russia 20% of America’s Uranium, the FBI had evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were involved in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering in order to benefit Vladimir Putin, says a report by The Hill[.] …


John Solomon and Alison Spann of The Hill: Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show[.] …


From today’s report we find out that the investigation was supervised by then-U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein, who is now President Trump’s Deputy Attorney General, and then-Assistant FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who is now the deputy FBI director under Trump.


Robert Mueller was head of the FBI from Sept 2001-Sept 2013 until James Comey took over as FBI Director in 2013. They were BOTH involved in this Russian scam being that this case started in 2009 and ended in 2015.

If evidence of bribery, kickbacks, extortion, and money-laundering in the Uranium One affair were not grounds for a special prosecutor assigned to investigate Hillary Clinton, what is?  Rosenstein’s goal apparently has long been to shield Hillary Clinton from prosecution for her crimes and to use any means to bring down the Trump administration he supposedly was appointed to serve.  Now he has stooped so low as to employ a fake Russian dossier in a witch hunt the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy could only envy

Rosenstein, Mueller, McCabe, et al. have used the office of special counsel and a politicized FBI and DOJ to conduct a silent coup against a duly elected president and are unindicted coconspirators in Hillary’s crimes and should be the targets of their very own special counsel.

Rod Rosenstein should be the target of an investigation, not the overseer of one.  Maybe the question before us is not whether a second special counsel is needed, but whether one is needed to investigate just Rod Rosenstein and his Deep State activities.  One wishes Mr. Huber luck.  He will need it.

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine, and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.



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The Resurrection of Jesus: An Inconvenient Fact


This Sunday, Christians around the world will celebrate Easter.  Some prefer to call it Resurrection Day.  Now most Christians – whether nominal or serious – just accept the holiday without much thought. But if they would examine the claims, most Christians would be shocked.

The basic premise behind Christianity is that humanity, and also by extension the universe, is flawed – the theological term is fallen – so flawed that there is no way any human could set himself right with a just, perfect, and holy Creator.  If humanity is to be reconciled to the Creator, it must be the effort of the Creator Himself, since only the Creator is capable of effecting  such as massive work.

Christianity’s claim is that the Creator did come down to Earth, with the purpose of reconciling God to man, in the person of Jesus Christ, who is both man and God.  His human nature would be the Son of God through a virgin; his divine nature would be God incarnate.

Jesus would absorb all the wrongs of mankind in Himself to clear out the account.  The classic wording for this is that He (Jesus) paid the penalty for our sins.  If one is more modern, and eschews the concept of retributive justice, then one could say Jesus absorbed within Himself all the consequences of man’s wrongs, with the idea of setting it right.

Now, the idea of suffering on someone else’s behalf is not new, but Christianity takes the concept a large step forward and makes this claim: death would not be able to hold Jesus, and He would come out of the grave.  And this resurrection would be the signature that Christ indeed set things right between God and man.  Indeed, He would more than pay the price for man’s transgressions.

Many of us, who came out of nominal Christian homes, of whatever denomination, gave it little thought and just accepted it sort of vaguely – but if true, such a resurrection should stop us in our tracks.

No other religion makes this claim.

Mohammed did not claim to die for our sins, nor did he resurrect.  In fact, Mohammed admitted that he had his own sins.

Hinduism offers mankind just the possibility of setting things right by endless reincarnations, with the idea that over time, we will finally arrive at perfection ourselves.  The problem is that even if humans arrive at perfection, it does not do away with the bad karma accumulated from prior reincarnations.  In fact, the hidden flaw of Hinduism is that each reincarnation only makes our problems worse with an endless accretion of bad karma.

Buddhism, which is an outgrowth of Hinduism, has the same fatal flaw.

But what about this Jesus?  Was He like other humans in being sinful?  Christianity addresses the problem by stating that Jesus was unique in His sinlessness, by virtue of the fact that He is God, and therefore He, Jesus, did not have our sinful nature.  He is a rather unique case.

This is further amplified by an Old Testament (Tenach) prophecy, where it is stated that Jesus would bear the sins of others, not his own.

He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Surely He has borne our griefs

And carried our sorrows;

Yet we esteemed Him stricken,

Smitten by God, and afflicted.

But He was wounded for our transgressions,

He was bruised for our iniquities;

The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,

And by His stripes we are healed. …


And He bore the sin of many,

And made intercession for the transgressors.

This is the famous “suffering servant” passage of Isaiah 53.  Some have claimed that the passage refers to Israel (the Jewish people themselves); however, verse 3 notes that “[w]e [the Jewish people] did not esteem Him.”  Now, if the suffering servant were Israel, then it means that the Jewish people did not esteem themselves.  Whatever the many virtues and flaws of the Jewish people, they do not generally lack for self-esteem.  Without such self-esteem, they would not have survived the diaspora, but would have merged into the other nations.  No, this passage is referring to an individual who would die for the sins of others.

The whole process is conditioned on this person coming out of the grave.  If He did not resurrect, He would have been as sinful as the rest of us, deserving of death, and unable to pay for anyone else’s sins.  But, if He were the Son of God, He would be infinite in value, and His sacrifice could atone for whoever accepted it.

The fact is that if Jesus did not come out of that grave, then Christianity is pointless, despite what liberal preachers say.  Christianity is not positive thinking or a good attitude.  Either Christ came out of that grave or the whole religion is a fraud.

As Paul wrote, “[a]nd if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty” (1 Cor. 15:14).

But if Jesus did come out of that grave,  then all of history changes.  The ramifications are immense.

  1. Islam is false.
  2. Hinduism is false.
  3. Buddhism is false.
  4. Rabbinic Judaism – which rejects Christ – is incomplete.

If He came out of that grave, then He is the only way to God.  Think about it: if we could save ourselves, why would God have even sent Jesus to die for us and then resurrect?  We can’t earn our way back to Heaven.  Our good deeds will not save us.

Christianity, though producing a tolerant civilization, makes a unique claim.  Not only is there only one God – both Judaism and Islam agree on that point – but the only way to approach that God is through His Son – which both Islam and Rabbinic Judaism deny.

I am not going to go into other points such as the Trinity, denominational doctrines, etc.

The first thing you have to do – if you have not decided it already – is settle once and for all: did Jesus come out of that grave?

If He did, then that is a very inconvenient fact for much of the world, including merely nominal Christians – but it is also the central drama of history.

Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who wishes he had availed himself more fully of the opportunity to learn Spanish better in high school, lo those many decades ago.  He runs a website about the Arab community in South America at http://latinarabia.com.

This Sunday, Christians around the world will celebrate Easter.  Some prefer to call it Resurrection Day.  Now most Christians – whether nominal or serious – just accept the holiday without much thought. But if they would examine the claims, most Christians would be shocked.

The basic premise behind Christianity is that humanity, and also by extension the universe, is flawed – the theological term is fallen – so flawed that there is no way any human could set himself right with a just, perfect, and holy Creator.  If humanity is to be reconciled to the Creator, it must be the effort of the Creator Himself, since only the Creator is capable of effecting  such as massive work.

Christianity’s claim is that the Creator did come down to Earth, with the purpose of reconciling God to man, in the person of Jesus Christ, who is both man and God.  His human nature would be the Son of God through a virgin; his divine nature would be God incarnate.

Jesus would absorb all the wrongs of mankind in Himself to clear out the account.  The classic wording for this is that He (Jesus) paid the penalty for our sins.  If one is more modern, and eschews the concept of retributive justice, then one could say Jesus absorbed within Himself all the consequences of man’s wrongs, with the idea of setting it right.

Now, the idea of suffering on someone else’s behalf is not new, but Christianity takes the concept a large step forward and makes this claim: death would not be able to hold Jesus, and He would come out of the grave.  And this resurrection would be the signature that Christ indeed set things right between God and man.  Indeed, He would more than pay the price for man’s transgressions.

Many of us, who came out of nominal Christian homes, of whatever denomination, gave it little thought and just accepted it sort of vaguely – but if true, such a resurrection should stop us in our tracks.

No other religion makes this claim.

Mohammed did not claim to die for our sins, nor did he resurrect.  In fact, Mohammed admitted that he had his own sins.

Hinduism offers mankind just the possibility of setting things right by endless reincarnations, with the idea that over time, we will finally arrive at perfection ourselves.  The problem is that even if humans arrive at perfection, it does not do away with the bad karma accumulated from prior reincarnations.  In fact, the hidden flaw of Hinduism is that each reincarnation only makes our problems worse with an endless accretion of bad karma.

Buddhism, which is an outgrowth of Hinduism, has the same fatal flaw.

But what about this Jesus?  Was He like other humans in being sinful?  Christianity addresses the problem by stating that Jesus was unique in His sinlessness, by virtue of the fact that He is God, and therefore He, Jesus, did not have our sinful nature.  He is a rather unique case.

This is further amplified by an Old Testament (Tenach) prophecy, where it is stated that Jesus would bear the sins of others, not his own.

He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Surely He has borne our griefs

And carried our sorrows;

Yet we esteemed Him stricken,

Smitten by God, and afflicted.

But He was wounded for our transgressions,

He was bruised for our iniquities;

The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,

And by His stripes we are healed. …


And He bore the sin of many,

And made intercession for the transgressors.

This is the famous “suffering servant” passage of Isaiah 53.  Some have claimed that the passage refers to Israel (the Jewish people themselves); however, verse 3 notes that “[w]e [the Jewish people] did not esteem Him.”  Now, if the suffering servant were Israel, then it means that the Jewish people did not esteem themselves.  Whatever the many virtues and flaws of the Jewish people, they do not generally lack for self-esteem.  Without such self-esteem, they would not have survived the diaspora, but would have merged into the other nations.  No, this passage is referring to an individual who would die for the sins of others.

The whole process is conditioned on this person coming out of the grave.  If He did not resurrect, He would have been as sinful as the rest of us, deserving of death, and unable to pay for anyone else’s sins.  But, if He were the Son of God, He would be infinite in value, and His sacrifice could atone for whoever accepted it.

The fact is that if Jesus did not come out of that grave, then Christianity is pointless, despite what liberal preachers say.  Christianity is not positive thinking or a good attitude.  Either Christ came out of that grave or the whole religion is a fraud.

As Paul wrote, “[a]nd if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty” (1 Cor. 15:14).

But if Jesus did come out of that grave,  then all of history changes.  The ramifications are immense.

  1. Islam is false.
  2. Hinduism is false.
  3. Buddhism is false.
  4. Rabbinic Judaism – which rejects Christ – is incomplete.

If He came out of that grave, then He is the only way to God.  Think about it: if we could save ourselves, why would God have even sent Jesus to die for us and then resurrect?  We can’t earn our way back to Heaven.  Our good deeds will not save us.

Christianity, though producing a tolerant civilization, makes a unique claim.  Not only is there only one God – both Judaism and Islam agree on that point – but the only way to approach that God is through His Son – which both Islam and Rabbinic Judaism deny.

I am not going to go into other points such as the Trinity, denominational doctrines, etc.

The first thing you have to do – if you have not decided it already – is settle once and for all: did Jesus come out of that grave?

If He did, then that is a very inconvenient fact for much of the world, including merely nominal Christians – but it is also the central drama of history.

Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who wishes he had availed himself more fully of the opportunity to learn Spanish better in high school, lo those many decades ago.  He runs a website about the Arab community in South America at http://latinarabia.com.



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No More Cheating: Time to Apply the Rules of the Game to Politics


In his brilliant film, La Règle du Jeu, often considered one of the greatest ever made, the director, Jean Renoir, discusses the mores that specify proper behavior.  Each clique in the world has its own customs, mores, and language.  Breakage of those rules is seen as a moral transgression as well as outrageous cheating.

When should rules be enforced, and who should be punished?  Realistically, political and official organizations like human beings lie and cheat, tell white lies, utter what Winston Churchill once called “terminological inexactitudes,” in conduct that contradicts generally accepted ethical codes but is not a cause for alarm or condemnation. 

This was not the case with the breakage of the rules of the game by the Australian cricket team playing in Cape Town in the third test match with South Africa.  Australia was losing and, in an act of desperation, deliberately tampered with the ball to get advantage.  Three members of the team conspired to use sandpaper to make the ball swing more than normal, making it more difficult to hit.  On March 25, 2018, the three responsible players of the test team were sent home in disgrace as a result of behaving “not in the laws of the game,” euphemism for cheating.

Cheating of this kind is not unknown.  A particularly infamous incident in the U.S. was the scandal concerning the “golden boy” of football, quarterback Tom Brady, who was accused of conspiring to deflate footballs used in the AFL Championship game in January 2015 and who was suspended for four games for violating NFL policy on the integrity of the game.

The rules of the game are important for sport – so why not for politics?  The Australian captain confessed his responsibility for cheating and apologized.  The difference in political behavior is the unwillingness to admit breakage of the rules, or indeed even refusal to admit that they exist.  Many cases can illustrate this, but a few examples can suffice.

First is Russia, now accused by more than a dozen countries of using of a military-grade nerve agent in an attempt to murder a former Russian double agent and his daughter in Salisbury on March 4, 2018.  Russian authorities persist in denying any responsibility, protest the decisions to expel Russian diplomats, and threaten to retaliate against the actions of more than 20 countries and organizations in expelling more than 150 Russian diplomats and intelligence officers.

Russian assertions are shameless.  They say Russia does not have any information on the lives of Russian citizens on the territory of Britain.  Yet they know that the British intelligence special services played a role in the poisoning.  They argue that British authorities have acted at the expense of common sense, rules of civilized interstate dialogue, and principles of international law.  Russia denies the use of nerve gases, including Novichok, that target part of the body’s nervous system, though the agent is made in the Russian lab Yasenevo, run by the SVR. 

Britain was slow to deal with the 14 suspicious deaths in the last decade of various Russians living in the country.  Now the U.K. has begun to implement the rules of the game.  It is beginning a counter-offensive against fake news by Russia as well as terrorists on social media to combat propaganda, misinformation, and extremist material.

The U.K. is also examining, as are U.S. authorities, the extent of money-laundering by anonymous owners in the country.  According to the U.S. Treasury, some $300 billion is laundered in the U.S. every year.  Estimates for the U.K. suggest $125 billion.  In both cases, it is probable that the largest share is held by Russians, including property transactions of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Unexpectedly, we have just learned that the rules of the game apply in the Far East.  The meeting on March 26-27 in Beijing of Chinese president Xi Jinping and North Korean president Kim Jong-un may have been harmonious and intimate, but the Chinese leader reminded his guest of the rules.  The elder generations of leaders of the two countries maintained cordial relations, trusted, and supported each other.  But Kim had broken the rules since he came to power in 2011.  He had purged officials close to Beijing; one of them was his uncle, Kim Jong-nam.

In the Middle East, the Palestinians also have been unwilling to recognize rules of the game.  Two instances need be mentioned.  One is that the U.S. Taylor Force Act suspends aid to the Palestinian Authority as long as it pays stipends. to the families of terrorists killed while attacking Israelis and to captured terrorists.  Yet the P.A. still pays directly to the families, providing $343 million, 7% of the P.A. annual budget.  A second issue concerns Hamas, which is organizing a March of 100,000 Gazans to storm the Israeli security fence around Gaza.  This is supposed to signify the return of Gaza “refugees” to their homes.  Left unsaid is the nonexistence of more than a few “refugees.”  A refugee born on the same day of the creation of Israel on May 14, 1948 would be almost 70.

A third persisting issue in which the rules of the game are absent is the flagrant anti-Semitism in the British Labor Party, and the inability or unwillingness of the leader Jeremy Corbyn to deal with it, to condemn forthrightly manifestations of this disease, and to expel from the party those responsible for it.  Since he became leader in 2015, more than 300 cases of anti-Semitism by Labor Party members have been referred to Corbyn.

In recent weeks a number of breakage of rules have appeared.  An M.P. named David Lammy, one of the few black Labor M.P.s, was attacked by leftists in the party who want to deselect him from Parliament because he expressed solidarity with the Jewish population in his constituency.

It gets worse.  A few Labor websites have proclaimed that it was the Jews, in the form of the Israeli Mossad, who were responsible for the Salisbury poisoning.

A former mayor of Blackburn, the Pakistani-born Salim Mulla, declared that Israel was behind the recent school shooting in the U.S. and behind ISIS.  Worst of all, a more prominent person, Christine Shawcroft, member of the Labor executive committee, head of the “disputes panel” and director of the Trotskyist group Momentum, defended a former L.P. candidate who had posted on Facebook an article denying the Holocaust.  The candidate had been suspended for posting the article that was entitled “The International Red Cross confirms the Holocaust of 6 million Jews is a hoax.”

Perhaps we need a new formula – a film, a documentary, even a musical – to explain the meaning and significance of the rules of the political game.  Our leaders must stress the importance of the principles that uphold moral conduct and punish without qualification the transgressors who break the rules.

In his brilliant film, La Règle du Jeu, often considered one of the greatest ever made, the director, Jean Renoir, discusses the mores that specify proper behavior.  Each clique in the world has its own customs, mores, and language.  Breakage of those rules is seen as a moral transgression as well as outrageous cheating.

When should rules be enforced, and who should be punished?  Realistically, political and official organizations like human beings lie and cheat, tell white lies, utter what Winston Churchill once called “terminological inexactitudes,” in conduct that contradicts generally accepted ethical codes but is not a cause for alarm or condemnation. 

This was not the case with the breakage of the rules of the game by the Australian cricket team playing in Cape Town in the third test match with South Africa.  Australia was losing and, in an act of desperation, deliberately tampered with the ball to get advantage.  Three members of the team conspired to use sandpaper to make the ball swing more than normal, making it more difficult to hit.  On March 25, 2018, the three responsible players of the test team were sent home in disgrace as a result of behaving “not in the laws of the game,” euphemism for cheating.

Cheating of this kind is not unknown.  A particularly infamous incident in the U.S. was the scandal concerning the “golden boy” of football, quarterback Tom Brady, who was accused of conspiring to deflate footballs used in the AFL Championship game in January 2015 and who was suspended for four games for violating NFL policy on the integrity of the game.

The rules of the game are important for sport – so why not for politics?  The Australian captain confessed his responsibility for cheating and apologized.  The difference in political behavior is the unwillingness to admit breakage of the rules, or indeed even refusal to admit that they exist.  Many cases can illustrate this, but a few examples can suffice.

First is Russia, now accused by more than a dozen countries of using of a military-grade nerve agent in an attempt to murder a former Russian double agent and his daughter in Salisbury on March 4, 2018.  Russian authorities persist in denying any responsibility, protest the decisions to expel Russian diplomats, and threaten to retaliate against the actions of more than 20 countries and organizations in expelling more than 150 Russian diplomats and intelligence officers.

Russian assertions are shameless.  They say Russia does not have any information on the lives of Russian citizens on the territory of Britain.  Yet they know that the British intelligence special services played a role in the poisoning.  They argue that British authorities have acted at the expense of common sense, rules of civilized interstate dialogue, and principles of international law.  Russia denies the use of nerve gases, including Novichok, that target part of the body’s nervous system, though the agent is made in the Russian lab Yasenevo, run by the SVR. 

Britain was slow to deal with the 14 suspicious deaths in the last decade of various Russians living in the country.  Now the U.K. has begun to implement the rules of the game.  It is beginning a counter-offensive against fake news by Russia as well as terrorists on social media to combat propaganda, misinformation, and extremist material.

The U.K. is also examining, as are U.S. authorities, the extent of money-laundering by anonymous owners in the country.  According to the U.S. Treasury, some $300 billion is laundered in the U.S. every year.  Estimates for the U.K. suggest $125 billion.  In both cases, it is probable that the largest share is held by Russians, including property transactions of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Unexpectedly, we have just learned that the rules of the game apply in the Far East.  The meeting on March 26-27 in Beijing of Chinese president Xi Jinping and North Korean president Kim Jong-un may have been harmonious and intimate, but the Chinese leader reminded his guest of the rules.  The elder generations of leaders of the two countries maintained cordial relations, trusted, and supported each other.  But Kim had broken the rules since he came to power in 2011.  He had purged officials close to Beijing; one of them was his uncle, Kim Jong-nam.

In the Middle East, the Palestinians also have been unwilling to recognize rules of the game.  Two instances need be mentioned.  One is that the U.S. Taylor Force Act suspends aid to the Palestinian Authority as long as it pays stipends. to the families of terrorists killed while attacking Israelis and to captured terrorists.  Yet the P.A. still pays directly to the families, providing $343 million, 7% of the P.A. annual budget.  A second issue concerns Hamas, which is organizing a March of 100,000 Gazans to storm the Israeli security fence around Gaza.  This is supposed to signify the return of Gaza “refugees” to their homes.  Left unsaid is the nonexistence of more than a few “refugees.”  A refugee born on the same day of the creation of Israel on May 14, 1948 would be almost 70.

A third persisting issue in which the rules of the game are absent is the flagrant anti-Semitism in the British Labor Party, and the inability or unwillingness of the leader Jeremy Corbyn to deal with it, to condemn forthrightly manifestations of this disease, and to expel from the party those responsible for it.  Since he became leader in 2015, more than 300 cases of anti-Semitism by Labor Party members have been referred to Corbyn.

In recent weeks a number of breakage of rules have appeared.  An M.P. named David Lammy, one of the few black Labor M.P.s, was attacked by leftists in the party who want to deselect him from Parliament because he expressed solidarity with the Jewish population in his constituency.

It gets worse.  A few Labor websites have proclaimed that it was the Jews, in the form of the Israeli Mossad, who were responsible for the Salisbury poisoning.

A former mayor of Blackburn, the Pakistani-born Salim Mulla, declared that Israel was behind the recent school shooting in the U.S. and behind ISIS.  Worst of all, a more prominent person, Christine Shawcroft, member of the Labor executive committee, head of the “disputes panel” and director of the Trotskyist group Momentum, defended a former L.P. candidate who had posted on Facebook an article denying the Holocaust.  The candidate had been suspended for posting the article that was entitled “The International Red Cross confirms the Holocaust of 6 million Jews is a hoax.”

Perhaps we need a new formula – a film, a documentary, even a musical – to explain the meaning and significance of the rules of the political game.  Our leaders must stress the importance of the principles that uphold moral conduct and punish without qualification the transgressors who break the rules.



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The United States Must Leave the UN Human Rights Council


By now, it is clear that the U.N. Human Rights Council, created in 2006 with noble intentions on the basis of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is one of the international organizations that has little interest in the real violations of human rights in the world.  The majority of the 47 members of the UNHRC have shown little concern for their mandate: to be responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe, for addressing situations of human rights violations, and ro making recommendations on them.  How sanguine could one be about a group that includes Cuba, Congo, Burundi, Angola, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Venezuela, China, and Pakistan?

 Moreover, the geographical distribution of membership is weighted in favor of Africa and Asia: African states 13, Asia and Pacific 13, Latin America and Caribbean 8, Western Europe and others 7, and Eastern Europe 6.  Membership can also be evaluated in the light of the Global Gender Gap report of the World Economic Forum that lists the gap in144 countries: almost at the bottom are Pakistan, Qatar, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, members of the UNHRC.

It is not too strong to argue that UNHRC has been perverted to such a degree that it is a useless and worthless organization, hypocritical and skilled in its formulation of double standards for different countries.  Those double standards mostly relate to the disproportionate amount of time and number of critical resolutions relating to the State of Israel.  As of 2017, Israel was condemned 78 times, compared with peace-loving Syria 29 times, friendly North Korea 9, times and Iran 6 times.  Most non-democratic states, such as Saudi Arabia, Russia, and China, have never been condemned.

Every observer recognizes that the agenda of the council is biased against Israel, virtually transforming it into an international anti-Israeli platform.  Only one country is permanently on the UNHRC agenda: Israel.  Every March, the UNHRC spends two sessions debating human rights violations in the countries of the world, with one whole session devoted just to Israel.

What is most disappointing in the operation of the UNHRC is that the democratic states have been reluctant to end the anti-Israeli bias but have acquiesced in it, often by abstaining.  The continuation and the extent of the bias was fully displayed by the meeting of the 37th session of the UNHRC on March 23, 2018, which approved eight critical resolutions, one each on the peace-loving countries North Korea, Iran, and Syria, which evidently have not troubled the world, and five on Israel, which the council apparently considers a menace to the world.

It is worth looking at the five specific anti-Israeli resolutions, to see the extent of the hypocrisy and bias of the UNHRC.  Details have been drawn from the analysis of Hillel Neuer, executive director of U.N. Watch.

The first is a resolution drafted by Syria and submitted by the Islamic group.  The UNHRC is deeply concerned at the suffering of the Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan due to the systematic and continuous violation of their fundamental and human rights by Israel since the Israeli occupation of 1967.  The resolution was accepted, 25-14, with 7 abstentions.

A second resolution called on all states to ensure their obligations of non-recognition, non-aid, and non-assistance with regard to the serious breaches of “peremptory norms of international law” by Israel.  In particular, it referred to the acquisition of territory by force and called for cooperation to reverse Israel’s illegal policies and practices.  This was passed by 43 to 2 (Australia and the U.S.), with 1 abstention.  Besides the U.S., Australia, a new member of the UNHRC, was the only country that voted against this and all the other anti-Israeli resolutions.

The third resolution expressed grave concern at the continuing violation of international humanitarian law and the systematic violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people by Israel, the occupying power.  This was agreed to by 41 countries to 3 disagreements (Australia, Togo, the U.S.).

The fourth called on all states not to provide any assistance to be used specifically in connection with the settlements in the territories occupied since 1967.  This included financial transactions, investments, purchases, procurements, provision of services, and other economic and financial activities benefiting Israeli settlements.  It passed 34 to 4 (Australia, Hungary, Togo, the U.S.), with 8 abstentions.

The fifth resolution, somewhat incoherent, called on everybody to implement the recommendations in three reports: the independent commission of inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict (written by William Schabas); the independent international mission on the implications of Israeli settlements for the civil, political, economic, and cultural rights of the Palestinian people; and the U.N. Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (the Goldstone report).  Most important was non-involvement in the provision of arms to Israel.  It passed, 27-4-15, and the majority included Belgium.

Interestingly regarding this resolution, left unsaid were two factors.  One was that Schabas had worked as a legal consultant of the PLO, and his report cannot be considered neutral.  The other was that the report by Judge Richard Goldstone was critical, but in April 2010, he retracted many of the charges he made in it.

Australia and the U.S., by voting against all the five resolutions, demonstrated political sanity in this theater of the absurd.  Surprisingly, Germany voted in favor of three and the UK in favor of two resolutions.

The UNHRC has been obsessed with the question of Israel and disputed or occupied territory and Israeli settlements.  In September 2014, it approved, by 32 votes and 15 abstentions, a database of companies doing business in areas under Israeli “occupation” including East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.  In February 2018, it reported on 206 companies with ties to settlements, in effect a backlist of Israeli and multinational companies active in disputed territory, and really advocacy of BDS.

The biased resolutions of the UNHRC are not simply obstacles to any hopes for progress for negotiations to end the Israel-Palestinian conflict and thus counter-productive.  They are also an obstacle to any real discussion of violations of human rights in the world and are therefore a defeat for anyone interested in ending these violations.

The UNHRC resolutions have no enforcement mechanism, but they are a disgrace to impartial analysis and do not reflect any perspective for a just and lasting solution of the conflict.  U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley has been strongly critical of the UNHRC, has said U.S. patience with it is not unlimited, and has threatened to leave.  The time to leave is now.  President Donald Trump, disappointed with international organizations, has already quit UNESCO and cut U.N. funding.  He should now withdraw the U.S. from the UNHRC.

Image: Cory Doctorow via Flickr.

By now, it is clear that the U.N. Human Rights Council, created in 2006 with noble intentions on the basis of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is one of the international organizations that has little interest in the real violations of human rights in the world.  The majority of the 47 members of the UNHRC have shown little concern for their mandate: to be responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe, for addressing situations of human rights violations, and ro making recommendations on them.  How sanguine could one be about a group that includes Cuba, Congo, Burundi, Angola, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Venezuela, China, and Pakistan?

 Moreover, the geographical distribution of membership is weighted in favor of Africa and Asia: African states 13, Asia and Pacific 13, Latin America and Caribbean 8, Western Europe and others 7, and Eastern Europe 6.  Membership can also be evaluated in the light of the Global Gender Gap report of the World Economic Forum that lists the gap in144 countries: almost at the bottom are Pakistan, Qatar, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, members of the UNHRC.

It is not too strong to argue that UNHRC has been perverted to such a degree that it is a useless and worthless organization, hypocritical and skilled in its formulation of double standards for different countries.  Those double standards mostly relate to the disproportionate amount of time and number of critical resolutions relating to the State of Israel.  As of 2017, Israel was condemned 78 times, compared with peace-loving Syria 29 times, friendly North Korea 9, times and Iran 6 times.  Most non-democratic states, such as Saudi Arabia, Russia, and China, have never been condemned.

Every observer recognizes that the agenda of the council is biased against Israel, virtually transforming it into an international anti-Israeli platform.  Only one country is permanently on the UNHRC agenda: Israel.  Every March, the UNHRC spends two sessions debating human rights violations in the countries of the world, with one whole session devoted just to Israel.

What is most disappointing in the operation of the UNHRC is that the democratic states have been reluctant to end the anti-Israeli bias but have acquiesced in it, often by abstaining.  The continuation and the extent of the bias was fully displayed by the meeting of the 37th session of the UNHRC on March 23, 2018, which approved eight critical resolutions, one each on the peace-loving countries North Korea, Iran, and Syria, which evidently have not troubled the world, and five on Israel, which the council apparently considers a menace to the world.

It is worth looking at the five specific anti-Israeli resolutions, to see the extent of the hypocrisy and bias of the UNHRC.  Details have been drawn from the analysis of Hillel Neuer, executive director of U.N. Watch.

The first is a resolution drafted by Syria and submitted by the Islamic group.  The UNHRC is deeply concerned at the suffering of the Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan due to the systematic and continuous violation of their fundamental and human rights by Israel since the Israeli occupation of 1967.  The resolution was accepted, 25-14, with 7 abstentions.

A second resolution called on all states to ensure their obligations of non-recognition, non-aid, and non-assistance with regard to the serious breaches of “peremptory norms of international law” by Israel.  In particular, it referred to the acquisition of territory by force and called for cooperation to reverse Israel’s illegal policies and practices.  This was passed by 43 to 2 (Australia and the U.S.), with 1 abstention.  Besides the U.S., Australia, a new member of the UNHRC, was the only country that voted against this and all the other anti-Israeli resolutions.

The third resolution expressed grave concern at the continuing violation of international humanitarian law and the systematic violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people by Israel, the occupying power.  This was agreed to by 41 countries to 3 disagreements (Australia, Togo, the U.S.).

The fourth called on all states not to provide any assistance to be used specifically in connection with the settlements in the territories occupied since 1967.  This included financial transactions, investments, purchases, procurements, provision of services, and other economic and financial activities benefiting Israeli settlements.  It passed 34 to 4 (Australia, Hungary, Togo, the U.S.), with 8 abstentions.

The fifth resolution, somewhat incoherent, called on everybody to implement the recommendations in three reports: the independent commission of inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict (written by William Schabas); the independent international mission on the implications of Israeli settlements for the civil, political, economic, and cultural rights of the Palestinian people; and the U.N. Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (the Goldstone report).  Most important was non-involvement in the provision of arms to Israel.  It passed, 27-4-15, and the majority included Belgium.

Interestingly regarding this resolution, left unsaid were two factors.  One was that Schabas had worked as a legal consultant of the PLO, and his report cannot be considered neutral.  The other was that the report by Judge Richard Goldstone was critical, but in April 2010, he retracted many of the charges he made in it.

Australia and the U.S., by voting against all the five resolutions, demonstrated political sanity in this theater of the absurd.  Surprisingly, Germany voted in favor of three and the UK in favor of two resolutions.

The UNHRC has been obsessed with the question of Israel and disputed or occupied territory and Israeli settlements.  In September 2014, it approved, by 32 votes and 15 abstentions, a database of companies doing business in areas under Israeli “occupation” including East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.  In February 2018, it reported on 206 companies with ties to settlements, in effect a backlist of Israeli and multinational companies active in disputed territory, and really advocacy of BDS.

The biased resolutions of the UNHRC are not simply obstacles to any hopes for progress for negotiations to end the Israel-Palestinian conflict and thus counter-productive.  They are also an obstacle to any real discussion of violations of human rights in the world and are therefore a defeat for anyone interested in ending these violations.

The UNHRC resolutions have no enforcement mechanism, but they are a disgrace to impartial analysis and do not reflect any perspective for a just and lasting solution of the conflict.  U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley has been strongly critical of the UNHRC, has said U.S. patience with it is not unlimited, and has threatened to leave.  The time to leave is now.  President Donald Trump, disappointed with international organizations, has already quit UNESCO and cut U.N. funding.  He should now withdraw the U.S. from the UNHRC.

Image: Cory Doctorow via Flickr.



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America Not to Blame for Mexico's Problems


 

Regarding the current border crisis and problems in Mexico, if you ask many Latinos who come over to the U.S., and those who advocate on their behalf, they will tell you with a straight face that their country was ruined by the Mexican-American War of 1846-48, and that it was American Imperialism that destroyed Mexico and its economy. While we know that this is an excuse, the fact is, they believe the propaganda and both Mexicans and now Americans are now taught this propaganda.  But facts are stubborn things, and history is on our side. These lies are being taught in our universities and we need to combat them with the truth.  While the truth is not pretty, it justifies the Polk Adminstration in going to war with Mexico in 1846. 

When Mexico received its independence from Spain in 1821, they planned on having a nation very similar to the U.S., with a system of independent semiautonomous states similar (if not quite the same) to what the United States originally were. The northernmost state of Tejas, was underpopulated, and by decree, the Mexican government made it open to anyone from the USA wanting to settle there. Cheap land doesn’t grow on trees, so Americans came there by the thousands. It worked very well, probably too well, and in the mid-1830s the Mexican government set aside this decree and called the northern border of Tejas secure – making it a crime for Americans to settle there.  But by that time, it was too late, and more and more white Americans were coming to what is now the United State of Texas. 

In the early 1830s, a military despot named Santa Anna came to power, and shortly afterwards, abandoned the Mexican state system, concentrating most of the power into the capital city.  Several of the Mexican states, including Yucatan and Tejas, rebelled against this naked power grab.  Only the Mexican state of Tejas was successful, and after the battle of San Jacinto, won its independence from Mexico and became the Republic of Texas.  

Santa Anna signed the Treaty of Velasco giving Texas its independence, and was then tossed from power for the first of several times.  A series of military dictatorships were in power from the 1830s through 1850, virtually a new one every two years.  But for a brief time in 1845-1846, Mexico had civil rule. It was during this time that the U.S. allowed Texas to join as a new state, something that the Mexican army saw as an act of war. 

Then President James Polk sent Louisiana congressman John Slidell to see the Mexican president with an offer to purchase Alta California and New Mexico (the present-day states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, and part of Colorado), similar to what Jefferson did with Napoleon and the Louisiana Purchase.  Mexican President Joachin de Herrera, a pragmatist who was not opposed to at least talking to the Americans, was denounced as a traitor by the supporters of Santa Anna, and was forced by the Mexican Parliament to go to war — something Herrera knew would end up with a Mexican defeat. 

Herrera knew that Mexico was too poor to either inhabit or defend the northern states and preferred to take the pragmatic step of getting money for land that Mexico had no use for at the time, a very prudent step diplomatically, but one which was very unpopular politically.  If the U.S. had not wanted California, our rival at the time Great Britain surely did, to stop Americans from populating the Western U.S. and giving them a warm-water port on the west coast.  There was no way that Mexico could hold onto Alta California or New Mexico.  But the idea of receiving millions of dollars for land they could not possibly protect or inhabit may have sounded good to de Herrera.  The nation was in near bankruptcy after gaining its independence, and the idea of $30 million coming in (much more than Jefferson paid for the Louisiana territory) would have helped set Mexico back into financial stability. 

But the friends of Santa Anna (at that time in exile in Cuba) labeled anyone who would consider negotiating with the Americans a traitor, so de Herrera was overthrown and a more nationalistic government under General Mariano y Arrillaga came into power.  The Mexican army then shot at U.S. troops on U.S. territory (something the Mexicans dispute, since they had decided not to honor the Treaty of Velasco) and the war came.  And while I will grant that Polk handled the negotiations in an oafish way (sending the U.S. military to feign an invasion in a bizarre attempt to force the Mexicans to the bargaining table), the fact remains that the Mexican military wanted this war and never would have allowed President de Herrera to sell a sliver of Mexican territory even if Mexico was to go bankrupt without that cash. 

The end result was predictable.  Santa Anna returned to power by lying to both the Americans and to the Mexican people and led the Mexican army to a glorious defeat and was overthrown yet again.  The Mexican people were completely humiliated by allowing themselves to be goaded into a military showdown they had no chance of winning.  Santa Anna showed that he was one of the most incapable battle commanders in human history (Google the Mexican battle plan at either Cerro Gordo or Buena Vista), and gave U.S. soldiers practical battle experience for our next war, the American Civil War. We Americans like to think that we only go to war for noble causes (such as the Revolution, the Civil War, or WWII) and the reasons for going to war with Mexico don’t always jibe with our view of ourselves.  But what if Great Britain had taken over California?  The U.S. would have been under constant worry of invasion.  Or what if the Russians had taken California?  Where would the U.S. be then?  We’d have Vladimir Putin in our backyard.  Perhaps the Mexican War was not a “noble cause” but the alternatives were too ghastly to consider.  At least President Polk offered the Mexicans a hefty sum for what the U.S. needed to secure its western border, something that neither Great Britain nor Russia would have given the Mexicans.  Polk went to war in the name of reality, not in the name of conquest. 

Current illegal immigrant sympathizers like to call the American settlers in Tejas “illegal immigrants” but this is a fallacy.  The Mexican government originally invited American settlers into Texas and then tried to ban further immigration in the early 1830s (The Mexican government was afraid of too many white people in Mexican territory).  Santa Anna tore up the constitution of 1821 and took away rights that both Americans and Mexicans had gotten used to, and somehow White Anglo-Saxon Protestants became illegal immigrants.  The Mexicans provoked the next confrontation by reneging on the Treaty of Velasco and then opening fire on U.S. troops on U.S. soil.  The Americans tried to figure out a way for both nations to live together peacefully and offered the Mexicans a large windfall for land that was of no use to Mexico.  A Mexican president tried to negotiate and was tossed from office, and somehow the U.S. is a bad actor. 

Mexico may be in trouble, but it was a failed state long before the loss of Texas and the Mexican-American war.  As in the early 1800, Mexico remains a failed state because it does not have any tradition of democracy or republican rule, and because it has been ruled by despots throughout its history.  When they actually get a man who can see the big picture (i.e. de Herrera) they call him a traitor, boot him from office, and then go to war, only to have a piece of their anatomy handed to them, and then blame others for their own stupidity.  Mexican “historians” such as Jesus Velasco Marquez have done their countrymen no favors by perpetuating these lies (see the 52-minute mark.) 

Drawing lessons from our own mistakes is one of the hardest things to learn. This is something that Mexican sympathizers can’t seem to do. The U.S. and a war as far back as the 1840s are not to blame for Mexico’s problems.  Mexico, and Mexico alone, is to blame.  And the sooner that the Mexican people learn this, the sooner the intelligentsia of both countries stops enabling Mexican pathologies the sooner Mexico will start to improve as a nation and cease being a failed state.  But that would require growing up as a nation, something that many in academia do not want anyone to do.  

John Massoud is the head of the Shenandoah County Virginia GOP Freedom Caucus, a Magisterial District GOP chair in Shenandoah County, and an occasional contributor to the American Thinker. 

 

Regarding the current border crisis and problems in Mexico, if you ask many Latinos who come over to the U.S., and those who advocate on their behalf, they will tell you with a straight face that their country was ruined by the Mexican-American War of 1846-48, and that it was American Imperialism that destroyed Mexico and its economy. While we know that this is an excuse, the fact is, they believe the propaganda and both Mexicans and now Americans are now taught this propaganda.  But facts are stubborn things, and history is on our side. These lies are being taught in our universities and we need to combat them with the truth.  While the truth is not pretty, it justifies the Polk Adminstration in going to war with Mexico in 1846. 

When Mexico received its independence from Spain in 1821, they planned on having a nation very similar to the U.S., with a system of independent semiautonomous states similar (if not quite the same) to what the United States originally were. The northernmost state of Tejas, was underpopulated, and by decree, the Mexican government made it open to anyone from the USA wanting to settle there. Cheap land doesn’t grow on trees, so Americans came there by the thousands. It worked very well, probably too well, and in the mid-1830s the Mexican government set aside this decree and called the northern border of Tejas secure – making it a crime for Americans to settle there.  But by that time, it was too late, and more and more white Americans were coming to what is now the United State of Texas. 

In the early 1830s, a military despot named Santa Anna came to power, and shortly afterwards, abandoned the Mexican state system, concentrating most of the power into the capital city.  Several of the Mexican states, including Yucatan and Tejas, rebelled against this naked power grab.  Only the Mexican state of Tejas was successful, and after the battle of San Jacinto, won its independence from Mexico and became the Republic of Texas.  

Santa Anna signed the Treaty of Velasco giving Texas its independence, and was then tossed from power for the first of several times.  A series of military dictatorships were in power from the 1830s through 1850, virtually a new one every two years.  But for a brief time in 1845-1846, Mexico had civil rule. It was during this time that the U.S. allowed Texas to join as a new state, something that the Mexican army saw as an act of war. 

Then President James Polk sent Louisiana congressman John Slidell to see the Mexican president with an offer to purchase Alta California and New Mexico (the present-day states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, and part of Colorado), similar to what Jefferson did with Napoleon and the Louisiana Purchase.  Mexican President Joachin de Herrera, a pragmatist who was not opposed to at least talking to the Americans, was denounced as a traitor by the supporters of Santa Anna, and was forced by the Mexican Parliament to go to war — something Herrera knew would end up with a Mexican defeat. 

Herrera knew that Mexico was too poor to either inhabit or defend the northern states and preferred to take the pragmatic step of getting money for land that Mexico had no use for at the time, a very prudent step diplomatically, but one which was very unpopular politically.  If the U.S. had not wanted California, our rival at the time Great Britain surely did, to stop Americans from populating the Western U.S. and giving them a warm-water port on the west coast.  There was no way that Mexico could hold onto Alta California or New Mexico.  But the idea of receiving millions of dollars for land they could not possibly protect or inhabit may have sounded good to de Herrera.  The nation was in near bankruptcy after gaining its independence, and the idea of $30 million coming in (much more than Jefferson paid for the Louisiana territory) would have helped set Mexico back into financial stability. 

But the friends of Santa Anna (at that time in exile in Cuba) labeled anyone who would consider negotiating with the Americans a traitor, so de Herrera was overthrown and a more nationalistic government under General Mariano y Arrillaga came into power.  The Mexican army then shot at U.S. troops on U.S. territory (something the Mexicans dispute, since they had decided not to honor the Treaty of Velasco) and the war came.  And while I will grant that Polk handled the negotiations in an oafish way (sending the U.S. military to feign an invasion in a bizarre attempt to force the Mexicans to the bargaining table), the fact remains that the Mexican military wanted this war and never would have allowed President de Herrera to sell a sliver of Mexican territory even if Mexico was to go bankrupt without that cash. 

The end result was predictable.  Santa Anna returned to power by lying to both the Americans and to the Mexican people and led the Mexican army to a glorious defeat and was overthrown yet again.  The Mexican people were completely humiliated by allowing themselves to be goaded into a military showdown they had no chance of winning.  Santa Anna showed that he was one of the most incapable battle commanders in human history (Google the Mexican battle plan at either Cerro Gordo or Buena Vista), and gave U.S. soldiers practical battle experience for our next war, the American Civil War. We Americans like to think that we only go to war for noble causes (such as the Revolution, the Civil War, or WWII) and the reasons for going to war with Mexico don’t always jibe with our view of ourselves.  But what if Great Britain had taken over California?  The U.S. would have been under constant worry of invasion.  Or what if the Russians had taken California?  Where would the U.S. be then?  We’d have Vladimir Putin in our backyard.  Perhaps the Mexican War was not a “noble cause” but the alternatives were too ghastly to consider.  At least President Polk offered the Mexicans a hefty sum for what the U.S. needed to secure its western border, something that neither Great Britain nor Russia would have given the Mexicans.  Polk went to war in the name of reality, not in the name of conquest. 

Current illegal immigrant sympathizers like to call the American settlers in Tejas “illegal immigrants” but this is a fallacy.  The Mexican government originally invited American settlers into Texas and then tried to ban further immigration in the early 1830s (The Mexican government was afraid of too many white people in Mexican territory).  Santa Anna tore up the constitution of 1821 and took away rights that both Americans and Mexicans had gotten used to, and somehow White Anglo-Saxon Protestants became illegal immigrants.  The Mexicans provoked the next confrontation by reneging on the Treaty of Velasco and then opening fire on U.S. troops on U.S. soil.  The Americans tried to figure out a way for both nations to live together peacefully and offered the Mexicans a large windfall for land that was of no use to Mexico.  A Mexican president tried to negotiate and was tossed from office, and somehow the U.S. is a bad actor. 

Mexico may be in trouble, but it was a failed state long before the loss of Texas and the Mexican-American war.  As in the early 1800, Mexico remains a failed state because it does not have any tradition of democracy or republican rule, and because it has been ruled by despots throughout its history.  When they actually get a man who can see the big picture (i.e. de Herrera) they call him a traitor, boot him from office, and then go to war, only to have a piece of their anatomy handed to them, and then blame others for their own stupidity.  Mexican “historians” such as Jesus Velasco Marquez have done their countrymen no favors by perpetuating these lies (see the 52-minute mark.) 

Drawing lessons from our own mistakes is one of the hardest things to learn. This is something that Mexican sympathizers can’t seem to do. The U.S. and a war as far back as the 1840s are not to blame for Mexico’s problems.  Mexico, and Mexico alone, is to blame.  And the sooner that the Mexican people learn this, the sooner the intelligentsia of both countries stops enabling Mexican pathologies the sooner Mexico will start to improve as a nation and cease being a failed state.  But that would require growing up as a nation, something that many in academia do not want anyone to do.  

John Massoud is the head of the Shenandoah County Virginia GOP Freedom Caucus, a Magisterial District GOP chair in Shenandoah County, and an occasional contributor to the American Thinker. 



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Justice Stevens Unholsters a Dopey Idea


Retired Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens has proposed repealing the Second Amendment.  If we needed more proof of the pathetic stupidity of most jurists these days, Stevens’s dopey idea is a prime example.  State governments already have wide discretion in controlling the sale of guns, and if there were a co-relationship between gun control and violent crime, then the degree to which state governments limited gun sales should show a correspondingly low violent crime rate.

But that just is not so.  Slate has a table in which it rates how tight gun control laws are by giving each state a grade, with the highest grade being an  “A-.”  Six states – California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York – received that highest grade.  Yet four of those six states – California, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York – were in the top twenty-five states in terms of violent crime. 

Among the ten safest states – Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Virginia, Connecticut, Idaho, Kentucky, Rhode Island, Minnesota, and Utah – Maine, Vermont, Idaho, Kentucky, and Utah received a grade of “F,” the lowest possible score.  This does not mean there is a positive correlation between relaxed state gun control laws and violent crime, but it does mean that there is no meaningful correlation at all regarding state gun control laws and violent crime.

What can be said with absolute assurance is that repealing the Second Amendment will diminish individual liberty.  Is diminishing individual liberty by amending the Constitution justified if the purpose is to reduce violent crime?  Surely, there are more useful abridgements of liberty through constitutional amendment if our purpose is to reduce violent crime.

Any veteran prosecutor or policeman can tell you that Supreme Court interpretations of the Bill of Rights created a monstrous problem in convicting savvy criminals.  Really bad and dangerous people are turned loose and have been turned loose over the last fifty years because the Supreme Court elevated individual liberty, even for the patently guilty and nasty criminal, to higher importance than protecting the public against violent crime. 

Justice Stevens, during his tenure on the Supreme Court, routinely voted to protect and even expand the rights of criminals at the expense of public safety.  Indeed, if a positive correlation between violent crime and public policy needs to be found, the best indicator is the doubling of the violent crime rate from 1965 to the present.  This did not seem to bother Justice Stevens at all when he was on the Supreme Court. 

What makes this particularly galling is that the Supreme Court decisions from the mid-1960s through the next decade let manifestly guilty monsters go free, because their individual liberties under the Constitution were considered, by Justice Stevens and his ilk, to trump the safety of the public.  No conservatives are arguing that violent criminals should be allowed to buy handguns.  Indeed, violent criminals are not dissuaded at all by gun control laws, which inhibit only innocent citizens trying to protect themselves.

The curtailment of other constitutional rights might also produce a much lower crime rate.  The breakup of families, as this Heritage Foundation report shows, contributes more than any other factor in causing violent crime.  Should we amend the Constitution to reduce the rights of parents to divorce and to allow states to take children born out of wedlock away from unwed mothers?  Those constitutional changes might well reduce crime rates dramatically, but they would limit the liberty of those who wish to raise children in single-parent homes.  

Moreover, even in nations with strict gun control laws, like the United Kingdom, the breakup of the nuclear family is closely related to criminal behavior.  A study in Britain shows that children of broken homes are nine times more likely to engage in criminal behavior than children from stable homes.

What this means is that the left is utterly hypocritical when it comes to protecting constitutional liberties and protecting public safety.  Although there is no real evidence that tougher gun control and public safety are positively correlated with each other, this is the first reflexive response of the left to any discussion of crime – and the left’s plans control only the law-abiding citizen.

On the other hand, any efforts to reduce the individual liberties of clearly guilty criminals or promiscuous unwed mothers, both of which contribute significantly to the breakdown in public safety, are either ignored by the left or attacked when conservatives raise the subject.

The bottom line?  The left does not care a whit about public safety.  It cares about limiting the liberties of law-abiding citizens.

Image: Paul Swansen via Flickr.

Retired Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens has proposed repealing the Second Amendment.  If we needed more proof of the pathetic stupidity of most jurists these days, Stevens’s dopey idea is a prime example.  State governments already have wide discretion in controlling the sale of guns, and if there were a co-relationship between gun control and violent crime, then the degree to which state governments limited gun sales should show a correspondingly low violent crime rate.

But that just is not so.  Slate has a table in which it rates how tight gun control laws are by giving each state a grade, with the highest grade being an  “A-.”  Six states – California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York – received that highest grade.  Yet four of those six states – California, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York – were in the top twenty-five states in terms of violent crime. 

Among the ten safest states – Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Virginia, Connecticut, Idaho, Kentucky, Rhode Island, Minnesota, and Utah – Maine, Vermont, Idaho, Kentucky, and Utah received a grade of “F,” the lowest possible score.  This does not mean there is a positive correlation between relaxed state gun control laws and violent crime, but it does mean that there is no meaningful correlation at all regarding state gun control laws and violent crime.

What can be said with absolute assurance is that repealing the Second Amendment will diminish individual liberty.  Is diminishing individual liberty by amending the Constitution justified if the purpose is to reduce violent crime?  Surely, there are more useful abridgements of liberty through constitutional amendment if our purpose is to reduce violent crime.

Any veteran prosecutor or policeman can tell you that Supreme Court interpretations of the Bill of Rights created a monstrous problem in convicting savvy criminals.  Really bad and dangerous people are turned loose and have been turned loose over the last fifty years because the Supreme Court elevated individual liberty, even for the patently guilty and nasty criminal, to higher importance than protecting the public against violent crime. 

Justice Stevens, during his tenure on the Supreme Court, routinely voted to protect and even expand the rights of criminals at the expense of public safety.  Indeed, if a positive correlation between violent crime and public policy needs to be found, the best indicator is the doubling of the violent crime rate from 1965 to the present.  This did not seem to bother Justice Stevens at all when he was on the Supreme Court. 

What makes this particularly galling is that the Supreme Court decisions from the mid-1960s through the next decade let manifestly guilty monsters go free, because their individual liberties under the Constitution were considered, by Justice Stevens and his ilk, to trump the safety of the public.  No conservatives are arguing that violent criminals should be allowed to buy handguns.  Indeed, violent criminals are not dissuaded at all by gun control laws, which inhibit only innocent citizens trying to protect themselves.

The curtailment of other constitutional rights might also produce a much lower crime rate.  The breakup of families, as this Heritage Foundation report shows, contributes more than any other factor in causing violent crime.  Should we amend the Constitution to reduce the rights of parents to divorce and to allow states to take children born out of wedlock away from unwed mothers?  Those constitutional changes might well reduce crime rates dramatically, but they would limit the liberty of those who wish to raise children in single-parent homes.  

Moreover, even in nations with strict gun control laws, like the United Kingdom, the breakup of the nuclear family is closely related to criminal behavior.  A study in Britain shows that children of broken homes are nine times more likely to engage in criminal behavior than children from stable homes.

What this means is that the left is utterly hypocritical when it comes to protecting constitutional liberties and protecting public safety.  Although there is no real evidence that tougher gun control and public safety are positively correlated with each other, this is the first reflexive response of the left to any discussion of crime – and the left’s plans control only the law-abiding citizen.

On the other hand, any efforts to reduce the individual liberties of clearly guilty criminals or promiscuous unwed mothers, both of which contribute significantly to the breakdown in public safety, are either ignored by the left or attacked when conservatives raise the subject.

The bottom line?  The left does not care a whit about public safety.  It cares about limiting the liberties of law-abiding citizens.

Image: Paul Swansen via Flickr.



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Rethinking the NATO-Russia-Ukraine Relationship on the Eve of Brussels Summit


Ten years after the NATO Summit in Bucharest, when Ukraine and Georgia were promised entry into NATO “in the future,” NATO yet again incorporated Ukraine into its aspirant country list.  The definition regarding the list has been changed just recently, since in the past, Ukraine declared that it was not formally pursuing membership.

Indeed, in 2010, Ukraine, under Moscow’s pressure, passed a law on its non-aligned status but dropped it in 2014, after the infamous “Revolution of Dignity,” which brought to power pro-Western authorities.  In that same year, Russia annexed Crimea and invaded Eastern regions of Ukraine, waging a proxy war and supporting a pro-Russia separatist movement with eventual establishment of Moscow’s puppet regimes in rebellious regions.  Facing an escalating armed conflict in a geographical hub of Europe, NATO countries have supported Kiev with military and humanitarian aid, but there were no further talks on a possibility for Ukraine to join the Alliance.

Even though the newly obtained status of “aspirant country” only confirms Kiev’s political willingness, or aspiration, to join NATO and is only a transitional step on this long journey, the change of definition on NATO’s official website has expectedly caused the Kremlin to nervously overreact, calling it the “West’s final betrayal of Russia.”  Indeed, NATO’s pointless flirtation with Ukraine on the eve of the Brussels Summit on 11-12 June is antagonizing Russia, which has proven to be bold enough to take military action when it feels challenged or perceives a geopolitical loss (Ukrainian territory is obviously a pivotal geostrategic space for Russian security).  Tension between the NATO countries and Russia has recently been fueled by Russian interference in American elections, differences over the Syrian war, and use of chemical weapons in Salisbury (Great Britain) followed by the mutual expulsion of diplomats.  This tension gravely undermines the stability and security of the whole Euro-Atlantic region, including Russia itself.  Improving relationships requires counterparts to change their vision and strategy toward each other, which is in everyone’s best interest.

Russia: Dropping Victimhood Narratives

When rationalizing its anti-Western views and policies, the Russian political establishment utilizes a narrative of the West’s broken promise” not to expand NATO eastward, since former Soviet republics and satellite countries of the Warsaw Pact were viewed by Russia as its traditional sphere of influence.  True, there were many verbal commitments given to Soviet officials by their Western counterparts, but none of them was concluded as a political or legal pact that would prohibit NATO’s expansion beyond the borders of a reunited Germany.  Nevertheless, Russia sees itself as a victim of Western betrayal and thus “justifies” its rogue international actions.

Moreover, for Vladimir Putin’s regime, this narrative constitutes an image of Russia as a besieged castle.  Having deep roots in the Russian mass consciousness, the image of an endangered Motherland allows the regime to achieve such goals as to legitimize of personalized and hyper-centralized power of a president, to distract the public’s attention from domestic issues to external threats (whether real or imagined), to transfer responsibility for the regime’s failures in economic, social, and other domestic policies onto the “enemy’s” plan, to mobilize the electorate, and to fight political opposition by simply labeling their leaders “foreign agents.”

But instead of engaging the Russians in a witch hunt and a muscle-flexing contest, there is just one and, perhaps, the most important question that Vladimir Putin needs to answer honestly: why do former Soviet republics and countries of Central and Eastern Europe that once were either part of USSR or its closes allies now seek to orient themselves toward the West and not Russia?  Maybe it is because Putin’s Russia cannot offer them a positive integrational idea that would inspire international cooperation.  And maybe it is because the Kremlin failed to create an attractive image of a prosperous country that cherishes and respects human dignity and human rights, freedom, democracy, and the rule of law.  The Kremlin needs to stop blaming the West for its failures and crimes and to concentrate on rebuilding its positive image through domestic reforms – primarily in the economic and social sectors.

NATO: Understanding the Kremlin

Although NATO claims that its ongoing enlargement process poses no threat to any country, we must view it realistically.  Just a quick glance at the map of NATO military bases in Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and the Baltic States and anti-missile defense systems deployed in Turkey, Romania, Poland, and Germany, as well as Aegis-equipped U.S. warships in the Mediterranean Sea combined with regular military training of NATO troops in Ukraine and the Black Sea region, allows us to understand rightful Russian concerns.  On top of that, Washington has just recognized Russia as a threat in the recently published National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy, calling it a “revisionist power.”  Naturally, it makes Russia feel threatened, just as the U.S. would be if Russians had their military bases deployed in Mexico and Canada and warships cruising along American coasts. As we noted before, given Putin’s readiness to violently react against NATO’s advances in Eastern Europe, NATO leaders should concentrate on securing a natural strategic boundary of the Alliance in Europe by completing a logical process of integration of all the states of former Yugoslavia (Bosnia, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Serbia), strategically securing the Balkan peninsula.  And then the alliance’s enlargement must be at least temporarily put on hold.

As the West seeks to deter Russia, the most effective tool to do so is found in economic sanctions that have already proven their efficiency.  After all, military and political strength are rooted in a strong economy.  Unfortunately for Russia, President Putin has not contributed much to its economic development during the past 17 years.  On the contrary – he has built crony capitalism with a mono-economy of natural gas and oil, exports of which keeps the weakening Russian economy afloat.

As for strategy toward Ukraine, NATO should continue its support through consultations, training, and limited military aid aimed to secure Ukraine’s eastern border.

Ukraine: Lowering Expectations

As much as Ukraine is important for building of common Euro-Atlantic security, Kiev must accept that the country will not be accepted as a member of the alliance in the near future due to major obstacles.  For instance, NATO rarely accepts countries with unresolved territorial issues.  To be fair, some countries’ strategic importance made NATO turn a blind eye to that kind of dispute, as happened in 1951, when Turkey and Greece were invited to join.  But it is not going to happen to a Ukraine that is unfortunate enough to have a nuclear-armed Russia as its adversary.  Bringing Ukraine into the alliance with its simmering conflict in the Eastern regions and an annexed Crimea would factually mean NATO declaring war against Russia, under its obligations according to an Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.  Clearly, no one is ready for this scenario.

Thus, Kiev must manage its expectations and not fan them among Ukrainians.  Instead, it must concentrate on the strengthening of its democratic institutions and fighting a decisive war on corruption that slows down the country’s development and damages its credibility. 

All in all, there is no doubt that the mutual strategy in the triangle NATO-Russia-Ukraine must change to prevent any further escalation of tension in Europe.  It is not an easy task, and even if NATO slows down its pace of enlargement, as is highly probable that it will, there is no guarantee that this would pacify Russia.  Luckily, NATO countries possess an arsenal of economic and diplomatic measures to deter Russia’s unpredictable reactions. 

Ten years after the NATO Summit in Bucharest, when Ukraine and Georgia were promised entry into NATO “in the future,” NATO yet again incorporated Ukraine into its aspirant country list.  The definition regarding the list has been changed just recently, since in the past, Ukraine declared that it was not formally pursuing membership.

Indeed, in 2010, Ukraine, under Moscow’s pressure, passed a law on its non-aligned status but dropped it in 2014, after the infamous “Revolution of Dignity,” which brought to power pro-Western authorities.  In that same year, Russia annexed Crimea and invaded Eastern regions of Ukraine, waging a proxy war and supporting a pro-Russia separatist movement with eventual establishment of Moscow’s puppet regimes in rebellious regions.  Facing an escalating armed conflict in a geographical hub of Europe, NATO countries have supported Kiev with military and humanitarian aid, but there were no further talks on a possibility for Ukraine to join the Alliance.

Even though the newly obtained status of “aspirant country” only confirms Kiev’s political willingness, or aspiration, to join NATO and is only a transitional step on this long journey, the change of definition on NATO’s official website has expectedly caused the Kremlin to nervously overreact, calling it the “West’s final betrayal of Russia.”  Indeed, NATO’s pointless flirtation with Ukraine on the eve of the Brussels Summit on 11-12 June is antagonizing Russia, which has proven to be bold enough to take military action when it feels challenged or perceives a geopolitical loss (Ukrainian territory is obviously a pivotal geostrategic space for Russian security).  Tension between the NATO countries and Russia has recently been fueled by Russian interference in American elections, differences over the Syrian war, and use of chemical weapons in Salisbury (Great Britain) followed by the mutual expulsion of diplomats.  This tension gravely undermines the stability and security of the whole Euro-Atlantic region, including Russia itself.  Improving relationships requires counterparts to change their vision and strategy toward each other, which is in everyone’s best interest.

Russia: Dropping Victimhood Narratives

When rationalizing its anti-Western views and policies, the Russian political establishment utilizes a narrative of the West’s broken promise” not to expand NATO eastward, since former Soviet republics and satellite countries of the Warsaw Pact were viewed by Russia as its traditional sphere of influence.  True, there were many verbal commitments given to Soviet officials by their Western counterparts, but none of them was concluded as a political or legal pact that would prohibit NATO’s expansion beyond the borders of a reunited Germany.  Nevertheless, Russia sees itself as a victim of Western betrayal and thus “justifies” its rogue international actions.

Moreover, for Vladimir Putin’s regime, this narrative constitutes an image of Russia as a besieged castle.  Having deep roots in the Russian mass consciousness, the image of an endangered Motherland allows the regime to achieve such goals as to legitimize of personalized and hyper-centralized power of a president, to distract the public’s attention from domestic issues to external threats (whether real or imagined), to transfer responsibility for the regime’s failures in economic, social, and other domestic policies onto the “enemy’s” plan, to mobilize the electorate, and to fight political opposition by simply labeling their leaders “foreign agents.”

But instead of engaging the Russians in a witch hunt and a muscle-flexing contest, there is just one and, perhaps, the most important question that Vladimir Putin needs to answer honestly: why do former Soviet republics and countries of Central and Eastern Europe that once were either part of USSR or its closes allies now seek to orient themselves toward the West and not Russia?  Maybe it is because Putin’s Russia cannot offer them a positive integrational idea that would inspire international cooperation.  And maybe it is because the Kremlin failed to create an attractive image of a prosperous country that cherishes and respects human dignity and human rights, freedom, democracy, and the rule of law.  The Kremlin needs to stop blaming the West for its failures and crimes and to concentrate on rebuilding its positive image through domestic reforms – primarily in the economic and social sectors.

NATO: Understanding the Kremlin

Although NATO claims that its ongoing enlargement process poses no threat to any country, we must view it realistically.  Just a quick glance at the map of NATO military bases in Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and the Baltic States and anti-missile defense systems deployed in Turkey, Romania, Poland, and Germany, as well as Aegis-equipped U.S. warships in the Mediterranean Sea combined with regular military training of NATO troops in Ukraine and the Black Sea region, allows us to understand rightful Russian concerns.  On top of that, Washington has just recognized Russia as a threat in the recently published National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy, calling it a “revisionist power.”  Naturally, it makes Russia feel threatened, just as the U.S. would be if Russians had their military bases deployed in Mexico and Canada and warships cruising along American coasts. As we noted before, given Putin’s readiness to violently react against NATO’s advances in Eastern Europe, NATO leaders should concentrate on securing a natural strategic boundary of the Alliance in Europe by completing a logical process of integration of all the states of former Yugoslavia (Bosnia, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Serbia), strategically securing the Balkan peninsula.  And then the alliance’s enlargement must be at least temporarily put on hold.

As the West seeks to deter Russia, the most effective tool to do so is found in economic sanctions that have already proven their efficiency.  After all, military and political strength are rooted in a strong economy.  Unfortunately for Russia, President Putin has not contributed much to its economic development during the past 17 years.  On the contrary – he has built crony capitalism with a mono-economy of natural gas and oil, exports of which keeps the weakening Russian economy afloat.

As for strategy toward Ukraine, NATO should continue its support through consultations, training, and limited military aid aimed to secure Ukraine’s eastern border.

Ukraine: Lowering Expectations

As much as Ukraine is important for building of common Euro-Atlantic security, Kiev must accept that the country will not be accepted as a member of the alliance in the near future due to major obstacles.  For instance, NATO rarely accepts countries with unresolved territorial issues.  To be fair, some countries’ strategic importance made NATO turn a blind eye to that kind of dispute, as happened in 1951, when Turkey and Greece were invited to join.  But it is not going to happen to a Ukraine that is unfortunate enough to have a nuclear-armed Russia as its adversary.  Bringing Ukraine into the alliance with its simmering conflict in the Eastern regions and an annexed Crimea would factually mean NATO declaring war against Russia, under its obligations according to an Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.  Clearly, no one is ready for this scenario.

Thus, Kiev must manage its expectations and not fan them among Ukrainians.  Instead, it must concentrate on the strengthening of its democratic institutions and fighting a decisive war on corruption that slows down the country’s development and damages its credibility. 

All in all, there is no doubt that the mutual strategy in the triangle NATO-Russia-Ukraine must change to prevent any further escalation of tension in Europe.  It is not an easy task, and even if NATO slows down its pace of enlargement, as is highly probable that it will, there is no guarantee that this would pacify Russia.  Luckily, NATO countries possess an arsenal of economic and diplomatic measures to deter Russia’s unpredictable reactions. 



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Delinquent Debt in America: To Forgive or Not to Forgive


Back in the 1800s in Great Britain, those who couldn’t pay back their loans would be sent to “the workhouse,” AKA debtors’ prison, where they would be forced to work off their arrearage – i.e., their delinquent debt.  Consequently, taking on debt was a serious undertaking back in jolly old Dickensian England.  But then it was a more serious age than ours, with more serious people.

In today’s America, the gravity of debt no longer tugs at us as it did back in the 19th century, when we had debtors’ prisons.  Attitudes toward debt have changed.  Some even think their debts should be “forgiven.”  Interesting term, that.  It suggests that going into debt is sinful.  Indeed, in the various versions of the Lord’s Prayer, “debt” is synonymous with “sin” and “trespass” and is therefore in need of forgiveness: “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”  We should hope the term “forgive” will continue to be used in the context of loans, because too many Americans aren’t taking debt seriously enough.

Be that as it may, when it comes to delinquent debt, what’s actually sinful is when it’s forgiven.  That’s because when debts are written off, someone must take a loss, and it’s often not the party that extended the loan.

One large group of Americans that believes in debt forgiveness is college students, as they have racked up some $1.4 trillion in student loan debt.  Their idol, Senator Bernie Sanders, wants all student debt forgiven.  But who’s to take the hit?  I’d say it should be the colleges that have admitted so many students who can’t afford it and who really shouldn’t be in college anyway.  Let the colleges pay off the kids’ delinquent loans.  That would force colleges to be more careful about whom they admit, as well as work to moderate the price of tuitions.

Debts are incurred in loans.  Loans are contracts.  When considering any contract, one should be clear about what happens when one of the parties reneges and the contract is broken.  One area where the new attitudes towards debt have been fairly well “institutionalized” is in bankruptcy, when a contract that is a loan is broken.  In a bankruptcy, one’s debts are “discharged”; one’s slate is wiped clean; one gets a new lease on life; one is – forgiven.  And if one acts responsibly enough for a while, one can eventually start running up debt again.

A bond is a type of loan.  From a legal standpoint, bondholders are the first in line to get the proceeds of a corporate bankruptcy.  But that didn’t happen in the 2009 auto bankruptcies.  The bondholders and other creditors got shafted, and the assets that should have gone to them went to shore up union pensions.

In 2012, the Cato Institute ran “The Truth about the GM and Chrysler Bailouts,” an incisive little blog post by Randal O’Toole, who wrote (italics added):

Under bankruptcy laws, stockholders would have lost the value of their stocks, but bond owners – who have first claim to company assets and profits – would have been paid off, if not in whole than at least in part.


Instead of letting the companies declare bankruptcy, Obama decided to “bail them out” by taking them over.  Once the administration had control of the companies, it had them file for bankruptcy, just as they would have done without the government takeover.  Stockholders still lost everything, but so did Chrysler’s bond holders.  Instead of renegotiating union contracts, the administration gave the unions greater say over the companies.  In other words, the administration didn’t bail out the companies; it bailed out the unions at the expense of (in Chrysler’s case) the bondholders.

The treatment of bondholders in the auto bankruptcies should alarm us.  It was theft perpetrated by the government, and it should repel all Americans who care about the rule of law.  Giving the proceeds of the bankruptcies to unions is not at all different from if Obama had paid off the stockholders at the expense of the bondholders.  Are we still a nation of laws?

Bankruptcy in America is insane.  All a bankruptcy should do is this: stop the debtor from taking out more loans so he can’t pile up more debt, and then reset interest rates and payback schedules so that loans can be paid back over a longer period of time.  Debts should stay with debtors until they’re paid off; they should never be forgiven.

In February of 2016, the National Legal and Policy Center ran “After Original Bondholders Stiffed, GM Issues New Debt” by Mark Modica: “GM announced last week that it will be offering an estimated $2 billion of unsecured debt to help prop up underfunded pensions.”  (“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”)  One wonders if GM autoworkers feel any remorse about Obama giving them what he stole from the bondholders.

It’s not only in debt forgiveness that someone else gets hit and must pick up the tab; it also happens when government borrows and future taxpayers must pay for today’s spending.  But that doesn’t seem to gnaw at many of today’s Americans; they want their “free stuff” from the government, and right now.  Future generations will just have to tough it out.

Of course, debt delinquency isn’t an issue with the federal government because the feds can roll over their debt again and again.  The federal debt hasn’t been paid off since Andrew Jackson, and it is rarely even paid down.  One might say the entire national debt is delinquent.

The feds have deliberately conditioned the citizenry to accept indebtedness.  The feds are like an obese person urging you to eat more dessert so you can share in his “sin.”  The federal government has done nothing less than corrupt us.

In February of 2018, the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s Frontpage Mag ran “The Progressives’ Legacy: Debt, Deficit, and Entitlement” by Bruce Thornton, who addresses how government has corrupted us:

[The Founders] knew that dependence on others corrupts character and accustoms people to getting something for nothing.  And they saw the dangers in a people who have grown used to taking “the property of their neighbors,” who will not brook a diminishment of those transfers, and who will punish any politician who suggests that they can no longer expect such largess. …


Imagine what will happen in the lean years that are coming ever closer and closer.  If we think we’re polarized now, wait until the hard choices will have to be made on diminishing the transfers of wealth which we have been trained to believe are sacred rights to which we are “entitled.”

Maybe America should bring back debtors’ prisons, especially for those who have run up the biggest debt in the history of the universe: the U.S. Congress.  But not only could we throw members of Congress into debtors’ prison; we might also imprison their families, including their grandchildren as yet unborn.  After all, Congress has condemned our unborn grandchildren to being debtors.  So when Congress begs for mercy, tell them this: we are not in the forgiving mood.

Jon N. Hall of Ultracon Opinion is a programmer from Kansas City.

Back in the 1800s in Great Britain, those who couldn’t pay back their loans would be sent to “the workhouse,” AKA debtors’ prison, where they would be forced to work off their arrearage – i.e., their delinquent debt.  Consequently, taking on debt was a serious undertaking back in jolly old Dickensian England.  But then it was a more serious age than ours, with more serious people.

In today’s America, the gravity of debt no longer tugs at us as it did back in the 19th century, when we had debtors’ prisons.  Attitudes toward debt have changed.  Some even think their debts should be “forgiven.”  Interesting term, that.  It suggests that going into debt is sinful.  Indeed, in the various versions of the Lord’s Prayer, “debt” is synonymous with “sin” and “trespass” and is therefore in need of forgiveness: “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”  We should hope the term “forgive” will continue to be used in the context of loans, because too many Americans aren’t taking debt seriously enough.

Be that as it may, when it comes to delinquent debt, what’s actually sinful is when it’s forgiven.  That’s because when debts are written off, someone must take a loss, and it’s often not the party that extended the loan.

One large group of Americans that believes in debt forgiveness is college students, as they have racked up some $1.4 trillion in student loan debt.  Their idol, Senator Bernie Sanders, wants all student debt forgiven.  But who’s to take the hit?  I’d say it should be the colleges that have admitted so many students who can’t afford it and who really shouldn’t be in college anyway.  Let the colleges pay off the kids’ delinquent loans.  That would force colleges to be more careful about whom they admit, as well as work to moderate the price of tuitions.

Debts are incurred in loans.  Loans are contracts.  When considering any contract, one should be clear about what happens when one of the parties reneges and the contract is broken.  One area where the new attitudes towards debt have been fairly well “institutionalized” is in bankruptcy, when a contract that is a loan is broken.  In a bankruptcy, one’s debts are “discharged”; one’s slate is wiped clean; one gets a new lease on life; one is – forgiven.  And if one acts responsibly enough for a while, one can eventually start running up debt again.

A bond is a type of loan.  From a legal standpoint, bondholders are the first in line to get the proceeds of a corporate bankruptcy.  But that didn’t happen in the 2009 auto bankruptcies.  The bondholders and other creditors got shafted, and the assets that should have gone to them went to shore up union pensions.

In 2012, the Cato Institute ran “The Truth about the GM and Chrysler Bailouts,” an incisive little blog post by Randal O’Toole, who wrote (italics added):

Under bankruptcy laws, stockholders would have lost the value of their stocks, but bond owners – who have first claim to company assets and profits – would have been paid off, if not in whole than at least in part.


Instead of letting the companies declare bankruptcy, Obama decided to “bail them out” by taking them over.  Once the administration had control of the companies, it had them file for bankruptcy, just as they would have done without the government takeover.  Stockholders still lost everything, but so did Chrysler’s bond holders.  Instead of renegotiating union contracts, the administration gave the unions greater say over the companies.  In other words, the administration didn’t bail out the companies; it bailed out the unions at the expense of (in Chrysler’s case) the bondholders.

The treatment of bondholders in the auto bankruptcies should alarm us.  It was theft perpetrated by the government, and it should repel all Americans who care about the rule of law.  Giving the proceeds of the bankruptcies to unions is not at all different from if Obama had paid off the stockholders at the expense of the bondholders.  Are we still a nation of laws?

Bankruptcy in America is insane.  All a bankruptcy should do is this: stop the debtor from taking out more loans so he can’t pile up more debt, and then reset interest rates and payback schedules so that loans can be paid back over a longer period of time.  Debts should stay with debtors until they’re paid off; they should never be forgiven.

In February of 2016, the National Legal and Policy Center ran “After Original Bondholders Stiffed, GM Issues New Debt” by Mark Modica: “GM announced last week that it will be offering an estimated $2 billion of unsecured debt to help prop up underfunded pensions.”  (“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”)  One wonders if GM autoworkers feel any remorse about Obama giving them what he stole from the bondholders.

It’s not only in debt forgiveness that someone else gets hit and must pick up the tab; it also happens when government borrows and future taxpayers must pay for today’s spending.  But that doesn’t seem to gnaw at many of today’s Americans; they want their “free stuff” from the government, and right now.  Future generations will just have to tough it out.

Of course, debt delinquency isn’t an issue with the federal government because the feds can roll over their debt again and again.  The federal debt hasn’t been paid off since Andrew Jackson, and it is rarely even paid down.  One might say the entire national debt is delinquent.

The feds have deliberately conditioned the citizenry to accept indebtedness.  The feds are like an obese person urging you to eat more dessert so you can share in his “sin.”  The federal government has done nothing less than corrupt us.

In February of 2018, the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s Frontpage Mag ran “The Progressives’ Legacy: Debt, Deficit, and Entitlement” by Bruce Thornton, who addresses how government has corrupted us:

[The Founders] knew that dependence on others corrupts character and accustoms people to getting something for nothing.  And they saw the dangers in a people who have grown used to taking “the property of their neighbors,” who will not brook a diminishment of those transfers, and who will punish any politician who suggests that they can no longer expect such largess. …


Imagine what will happen in the lean years that are coming ever closer and closer.  If we think we’re polarized now, wait until the hard choices will have to be made on diminishing the transfers of wealth which we have been trained to believe are sacred rights to which we are “entitled.”

Maybe America should bring back debtors’ prisons, especially for those who have run up the biggest debt in the history of the universe: the U.S. Congress.  But not only could we throw members of Congress into debtors’ prison; we might also imprison their families, including their grandchildren as yet unborn.  After all, Congress has condemned our unborn grandchildren to being debtors.  So when Congress begs for mercy, tell them this: we are not in the forgiving mood.

Jon N. Hall of Ultracon Opinion is a programmer from Kansas City.



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