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The United States on the World Stage: Slow-Motion Train Wreck

7 October 2019

The Slow-Motion Train Wreck.

Today’s foreign affairs headline reflects, in microcosm, our status as the “world super power.” We are no longer that, of course. We are an international train wreck. Specifically, what your are about to read is why I put chapter 16 in Street Politics: It Ain’t Your Daddy’s GOP Anymore. More generally, realities like what you’ll see below are why I wrote the book.

Let me preface by saying that precious few who read this will come away with the intended message. The reason for that is simple. Folks who read political/social commentary tend to lean in one strong direction or another. In today’s childish political environment that mostly equates to the two camps of I-LOVE-EVERYTHING-ABOUT-TRUMP (ILEAT) or TRUMP-IS-THE-ANTICHRIST (TITA). Both camps are brain damaged and rarely capable of real discourse.

The ILEAT believes that POTUS is a genius. No matter how stupid or immature his comments or tweets, they are convinced the gaffes are really signs of an underlying genius that only ILEAT members have the gift to understand. They believe he authored the tax reduction and actually “cured” us of Obamacare. He did neither. They believe that a wall, because he told them so, was going to solve out illegal immigration problem. It won’t. But don’t tell ILEAT that.

This cadre also believes that Donald Trump really is the greatest dealmaker of all time. A dealmaker he may be (there is doubt about who actually negotiated his deals in civilian life) but that hasn’t served him well so far in his international dealings and that is what we will discuss here.

And let’s face it, 1600 words is nothing. But for the average voter right now it’s considered a tough slog.

Look at North Korea, Hong Kong, Europe, China, Iran. They are taking advantage of Trump’s overtures to gain legitimacy. In the case of North Korea and Iran it is ONLY in Trump’s talk of making deals with them that they have even the pretense of legitimacy. But… in order to make the “beautiful, beautiful” deals the Donald claims are on the horizon, he needs people on the other side who want to make a deal. So far, none of them do, so they string him along with hints of deals and short, meaningless “negotiations”.

On the TITA side you have the idiots who think everything wrong with the US, especially foreign affairs, is the fault of Donald J. Trump. This is even more absurd than the former group.

Whether you agree with Trump’s approach or not (I don’t) there is one truth that can only be denied by the most credulous and ignorant: He is at least trying to move us back onto the world stage and regain some power and prestige.

Generations of politicians before him, both legislative and executive, have slowly ground away our position in the world mostly through a combination of incompetence, cowardice and cruelty. I’ll explain how that is still true today. Trump’s immediate predecessor actually took sides AGAINST America’s interests from his infamous apology tour through his standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the mullahs, against his own people, to guarantee Iran nuclear weapons by 2024.

Trump may be flailing from scheme to scheme, but he is at least trying. I will also credit him thusly: I think much of what we have seen of our policies throughout the Middle East are the result of advice going to Trump from advisors who have no greater concept of success there than he has.

So, with all that said, why write the article at all?

Someone has to say it.

One other caveat: This is not intended as an argument for or against new adventures in foreign lands. It is a critique of our existing ones.

If you prefer to get straight to the big picture, read the book.

So let’s dive in.

The morning headlines announced Trump’s reversal of his December reversal of his previous announcement that we were leaving Northern Syria. Back in December, when he first blurted out that we were leaving the region it became immediately clear that he was acting on impulse and had not sought the advice of the Pentagon or the Joint Chiefs. When they had a collective conniption, Trump quickly said we would stay to protect the Kurds (loyal allies) from Turkey’s clear intention to wipe them out. This morning? Meh…not so much.

From Korea to Iraq and Afghanistan we can now add Syria to the list of places where we wasted American and foreign lives for ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. In most cases, we have then left those who fought by our side to be broken by the enemy, as is now the case with the Kurds.

The poor, pathetic Kurds. Three times in three decades we sought their support in our ham-handed dealings in Iraq, and now Syria. Three times they took our side asking that we be there for them, if not to help them gain the independence they sought, then at least to keep them from being overrun by their enemies. And now, again, we have failed them.

Remember, it was Bashir al-Assad, emboldened by Barack Obama’s fecklessness, who decided to break from his father’s harsh but pragmatic style and start to crush his opponents overtly. Obama’s repeated lack of response (no law said he had to respond) left a power vacuum too tempting for Russia to resist. Assad had made too many domestic enemies. Seducing him was a cakewalk for Putin. 

In regaining a foothold in the Mediterranean not enjoyed since the 70’s, Russia made a cold calculation to let ISIS run free in northern Syria. Their presence there and in Northern Iraq, on real estate we paid for with blood – more than once – was icing on the cake for both Putin and Assad. They knew our position in Iraq was severely diminished thanks to Obama’s intentional destruction of the previous Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). Even the sorry, corrupt government in Iraq at the time knew Obama didn’t care how many American lives were lost there when he sent Joe “Duh” Biden to “renegotiate” (SOFA) less than a month before it expired.

This set the stage for Iran to become the dominant force over the area we had fought for.

With the US busy in Iraq, Assad could continue to gas villages sympathetic to his internal enemies. If we moved against Syria, we would be the aggressors, on paper anyway.


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And the situation didn’t improve with age. Obama played paddy cake with ISIS and Putin for the final years of his presidency. His obsequious use of the term ISIL (even ISIS didn’t use the self-aggrandizing term for themselves anymore) throughout made it even more distasteful to watch.

The Trump administration reinvigorated W’s limited war practice to just barely rid Iraq and part of Syria of ISIS. Now, with the help of Turkey, ISIS is reconstituting as we speak.

The only locals who actually fought effectively through all this were the Kurds.

And so we come full circle. This is the same Turkey who will roll right past our people in the region and try to stomp the remaining Kurdish forces there into a fine paste. The Donald is making tough noises about this, “I’ll wreck your economy” and such. But that is for domestic consumption. If Turkey respected Trump they wouldn’t be sheltering ISIS or pushing into Syria to kill Kurds. They are doing both.

This post isn’t about whether we should involve ourselves in these places. That ship has sailed. The fact is, under an endless succession of post-Vietnam yes-men, we ARE there. We have once again wasted American lives and not pushed the contest to an advantageous outcome.

The few reading this who understand how the world actually works, get it. But the others?…

To the TITAs among you: Did Trump’s predecessors do any better? While I disagree with his approach to our present situation, I would contend POTUS is doing as well or better than any of his predecessors since WWII. That’s a REALLY LOW goddamn bar.

To the ILEATs; However we feel about Iraq (I don’t think we needed to go there) what of our actions since?  All those Americans killed and injured taking territory – in the case of some cities, more than once. Did they do it so Iran could take control of two thirds of the fucking country? And the guys who fought ISIS, was that so the nut bags could take cover in Turkey and come back later? How do we sum this up? Was it all just a fucking gesture? Do we now get to “harrumph” everyone and walk away having accomplished nothing, or worse leaving the field to a happier, healthier enemy (Iran)?

I’ll answer all those questions for you. No, Trump’s predecessors have done no better. They were all gullible enough to think limited war is a good idea. (Some jerkoff in the last 20 or so years came up with the term asymmetrical warfare as a synonym for limited war. It sounds so POWER POINT!) And yes, we are going to treat the sacrifices, both ours and those of our enemies, as a vapid gesture and we are going to walk away.

 

Thank you TITAs and ILEATs. Thanks to all who think war is good or bad based on who is president at the time. And of course, thanks to the governing class. Because of you, we WILL do this all again after we finally absent ourselves from Afghanistan and Iraq. That’s because many reading this are hopping mad right now – not at the situation, but at me – and you are incapable of learning.

All the other foreign debacles I mentioned at the outset will play out just as well. Some of that will be Trump’s fault. But his predecessors teed all of it up, especially in the cases of China and North Korea.

Oh, hell. Just read the damn book.

Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/35980364@N04/31607887384/”>mccauleys-corner</a> Flickr via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>
Putin:Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/45909111@N00/9817146255/”>Gwydion M. Williams</a> Flickr via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>
protest: Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/126497846@N03/46815696351/”>hillels</a> Flickr via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>
soldier:  Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/152139242@N07/47928990378/”>Katzencie ♡</a> Flickr via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>
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Right Hook! 11 Must-Reads for the Politically Mature

I Know, 11 Must-Reads.  Why Not 10, right?

I wrestled with labeling this list as “conservative”. Anyone who reads it will learn something. This is especially true in the case of the Goldwater book. I came down on the side of truth-in-labeling. Conservative writers did write these books.  I consider these books to be arguable must-reads.

As I point out in Street Politics…, the terms Conservative and Liberal mean little in today’s discussion. There are few more stodgy and pig-headed than the modern American “liberal”. And people who would be slapped with the label “conservative” are often more willing than the Center and Left to try new ideas and cut loose the creative juices of their fellow citizens. Please bear this in mind as you browse the following books.

Also this is not presented in the rank order the books sold in. But most have spent time on the Amazon and NY Times best-sellers lists.

Just click on the book to go straight to it.

From Good to Best:

1. Are You Liberal? Conservative? Or Confused? (An Uncle Eric Book) 2nd Edition


by Richard J. Maybury (Author), Jane A. Williams (Editor)

I started with this book because it addresses directly the observation I made above. It properly diminishes the political labels that have been popular since FDR and challenges popular myth. Not every observation in this book aligns with my own, but at least we have a cogent argument about labels and why we must see past them if we are to have a hope in hell of ever getting this country back on a sustainable, successful course.

 

2. STREET POLITICS: It Ain’t Your Daddy’s GOP Anymore!

by Matt Jordan (Author)

Aw, c’mon! You didn’t think I was going to publish a list of conservative writers and not put my own masterpiece on here did you? Besides, I didn’t let hubris overwhelm me, placing SP ahead of everyone. I think I could have moved it much higher on the list, but I’ll be coy and keep it here.

This is your chance to deal with the new reality in Washington. Whether we like Donald Trump or not, we need to understand how got elected in the first place. Only then can we build on his unorthodox success.

As of this post, we are failing to do so. We are watching Republicans ensure the permanence of government-controlled health insurance while we miss entirely, the danger of a President who tweets WHAT HE IS THINKING, everyday, unedited, without an ounce of forethought or maturity.

Please remember:  50% of ALL AUTHOR PROCEEDS will go to support Lt. Jeff Kerr, super cop from Virginia, in his fight against Multiple Sclerosis; his fight and helping others as well.  Due to the way book sales are reported, we don’t have much time before the Bike MS event in late spring. I hope you’ll help and share this book on your favorite social media.

3. Big Agenda: President Trump’s Plan to Save America

by David Horowitz (Author)

Here’s an in-your-face book that I hesitated to include. But Horowitz is no blushing virgin on the political scene. His book takes square aim at all who disagree with the new President, including to some extent your host. I have yet to be enamored with Trump’s antics and don’t yet see how his big agenda is going to be much different from Paul Ryan’s.

I’ll give this example: If the Republicans repeal Obamacare and then “replace” it with something, they will have permanently crippled our health care system with a government insurance program. The only valid disposition of Obamacare is to dump it by a date certain, allowing insurance companies time to come up with real policies people can afford.

But there is cadre of folks on the right who think I’m wrong. Horowitz is their siren.

4. The Conservative’s Handbook: Defining the Right Position on Issues from A to Z 2nd Edition

by Phil Valentine (Author)

Westwood One radio personality, Phil Valentine does a fair job of defining conservatism in this easy-to-read work. His opening premise is most important to understanding the books general direction; America is Good. He correctly points out that despite our rocky beginnings we are not only a great power, but a force for good.

This will only remain so if we can, as a nation, back away from the self-destructive behaviors of political apathy and ignorance of economics.

Valentine has some other interesting things to say in The God Players and his DVD An Inconsistent Truth.

5. Cop Under Fire: Moving Beyond Hashtags of Race, Crime and Politics for a Better America

by Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. (Author), Nancy French (Contributor)

Sheriff Clarke puts his common sense views on paper. It is more than passing strange that his views would be considered controversial. I suspect that in most cases, they actually aren’t.  But his detractors need a position to attack from.  Still there are many who think David Clarke is wide-eyed, right-wing doctrinaire.  That doesn’t speak well of our education system.

6. Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto

by Mark R. Levin(Author)

There are two Mark Levins. One is a radio host who seems to spend 90% of his airtime playing to the lowest common denominator in his audience. For a constitutional lawyer, one may opine, he sure spends a lot of time mired in emotionalism. And he insults his callers. It is often clear, due to a lack of active listening, Levin has completely missed a caller’s point. It makes him look even worse when he barks at a caller who agrees with him and is in the midst of making a very instructive point, and then hangs up on the caller. This is often followed by insults (dummy, jerk) when the caller was expounding on LEVIN’S point! So who is the jerk in this equation?

I try to wade through the BS showmanship and listen for cogent points. There are many. But too often he wrecks his own argument by behaving like a non-thinking progressive.

Fortunately, there is the other Mark Levin. His writing is far more palatable and enjoyable than his radio show. His intent is clearer and his legal education and experience come through on the page. He is an enjoyable read. If you love his radio show, then you have two reasons to love his work. I only have the one.

In Liberty and Tyranny Levin pulls no punches in his assessment of America under the boot of progressivism since FDR. And his assertions are correct. His argument is sound. Liberty and Tyranny is a fast moving read.  You can always count on Levin for spirited argument. His other works include Men in Black: How the Supreme Court Is Destroying America and Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America.  Also recommended reading.

7. Atlas Shrugged

Ayn Rand (Author)

This is the third rail of “conservative” literature. There are two reasons. First: Rand is [gasp] an atheist! As a result many will never read the clear-minded, conservative thinking which supports a free-market worldview as well as Rand does. Many of this cadre have an equal and opposite view of their religion-infused politics as their liberal counterparts. On the left there are those who believe Christ was a Marxist rebel and welfare maven. The religious on the right, who reject writers like Rand, believe if Christ were alive today he’d be a Republican hedge fund manager (with a heart of gold).

No matter the god you to which you might ascribe, it is folly to include him in our political squabbles. No all-powerful omnipotent would ever sully itself by wading into our petty politics and economics. That is a strictly human concern. If divine providence were ever a part of the American political experience we’d have neither Obamacare nor a President Trump.

The second reason is the dated, simplistic style of Rand’s novels. While her essays and arguments are concise and edgy, her novels incorporate those elements in a 1950’s romantic package. Her novels also belie her pure “objectivism” and demonstrate her passion and lust for life.

However, to understand Rand is to understand pure, free-market thinking and the rejection of needless government intrusion into our lives. One does not need to come away from her books as a committed Objectivist to benefit from the experience. Surely, many who think they are to the right of center, when confronted with the unvarnished portrait of that position, might actually question their position.

I find Rand’s work to be a reaffirmation of my own worldview with a bit of an edge added.

Read also: Fountainhead, We the Living and Anthem. If you would like to explore Ayn Rand through the eyes of a writer who is neither acolyte nor enemy, consider Goddess of the Market by Jennifer Burns.

8. A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America

by Bruce Cannon Gibney(Author)

Here’s an interesting one. I would take the author to task on a few of his conclusions (baby Boomers caused global warming or too little taxation led to the impoverishment of government) as a bit too simplistic and not quite accurate. Also, the writer is not what we’d call the modern “conservative”.   But his observations deserve attention. His hopeful goal is to lay naked the party Boomers have had, and continue to have, at the expense of their grandchildren.

Gibney’s warnings are very much in line with those responsible fiscal conservatives have been putting forward since before Bill Clinton.

If you are a hard right doctrinaire, you will have the wrong argument with this book. But if you are open to a discussion which may not originate inside you political wheelhouse, then this is a must-read.

9. Right Reason

by William F. Buckley(Author)

I’ve said that Bill Buckley could say in a paragraph what some writers need a book to say.

I chose to include this book because it offers a look inside the mind of a true conservative. There are other interesting aspects as well.

Written in 1985, this book lets you revisit the period ’79 to ’85, and hear it discussed by a man with few equals in the world of clear expression. It was Buckley’s robust and unrivaled use of language that first inspired me to consider writing about politics as a living. If you enjoy reading George Will or Christopher Hitchins, you’ll prize this book. From Buckley’s treatment of Hitchins’ election commentary on 1980 to his eulogy for his mother, we see glimpses of Buckley and the way his mind worked.

It should be noted that he and Hitchens were at opposite ends of the political and religious spectrum, but were good friends. Hitchens stood as best man for William Buckley’s son, Chris.

I am fairly certain Buckley would chafe at appearing on this list with Ayn Rand. There were times when Buckley showed real intolerance, while angered by intolerance toward Catholicism. Gore Vidal and Ayn Rand were among his favorite targets. This is odd in the case of Rand. Other than Rand’s atheism and more robust hedonism, there was little light between the two philosophically.

10. How To Be Right: The Art of Being Persuasively Correct

by Greg Gutfeld(Author)

This was intended to be a list of ten books and I wanted to include all the others. But I had to put Gutfeld in here. Not only does his work match or surpass any of the others, it does so in entertaining fashion. His books read even better if you know his voice and can hear his impish tone as you read.

Gutfeld’s approach to being right is not about shouting down the opposition. It is about reasoned argument, properly understood and delivered for the right reasons.

GG has a way of poking you in the eye and leaving you laughing about it. If we could all learn his timing and delivery, while arguing serious facts over Lefty fairy tales, there would only be about five self-loathing liberal left on the planet.

So, okay, I exaggerate. But the world would be a better, funnier place.

I’ll call this a tie with number 11 if only for the fun of reading it and your chance to actually learn something.

See also, The Joy of Hate, by Gutfeld

11. Conscience of a Conservative

by Barry Goldwater(Author)

Here, I go straight to the source. One on the most senselessly maligned and least understood people in modern politics is Barry Goldwater. He is also the father of the conservatism we know today.

In this book you will find principle that history has validated again and again. Over the centuries, people could be forgiven for not understanding the lessons of each passing era.

But since FDR, we have had an immediate audio and video record of the of big government, left wing failings and vindication of right thinking repeated over and over again. It seems society is either willfully ignoring the obvious answers or is breathtakingly apathetic about how their liberties and their hard-won treasure are being taken from them. And EVERY time this is done on a grand scale, the utopian programs the theft supports fails miserably.

Know Goldwater and you will know what we must do to right the country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Convention of States Movement

Grab my RSS while you’re here —>

The Convention of States Movement is now gaining real traction.  I find this exciting for a few reasons, which I’ll discuss below.

What is the Convention of States?

There is a process, championed by George Mason, inserted into the Constitution whereby citizens, can seek to directly make amendments.  This is done by persuading 3/4 of the states to call a Convention of States (CoS). 

Independence Hall, Philadelphia,blue sky, convention
Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Site of the First Constitutional Convention. The signatories endeavored to correct flaws and abuses in The Articles of Confederation.

In the face of profligate spending and broad overreach by the federal government, a problem stretching back to FDR, the present battle for a Constitutional Convention has been joined.  We are on the cusp of success!  The framers of this movement have chosen wisely to limit the scope of the convention. 

Some people fear that when seated, the CoS will declare itself an open convention.  This is unlikely.  But this author, for one, wouldn’t be opposed to such a move.  While the CoS will move to make a few reductions in federal power, the sad fact is, we are in need of a major reset back to an adult adherence to the Constitution.

But the present CoS is not looking to upset the apple cart to that extent.

You Need to AT LEAST Look at the Project

This process is going to be an interesting one.  And you should be interested.  If a convention is seated it will have a profound impact on how business is done inside the Beltway.  By reigning in the power of the federal government, we will expand the power of your state and local governments.  This is a benefit few people appreciate, so dependent have we become on the big Mommy State.  Most importantly this convention, and the trend in thinking it will inspire, will be a windfall for your personal liberties.

But there is more to it than even that.  One of the most unseemly aspects of the American political scene is the level of ignorance that exists among citizens.  People have no idea even what conservative or liberal means anymore.  Many don’t know, or in some cases do know but don’t care, that their government has ruled over them illegitimately for generations.  

People actually think it is the job of the president of the United States to “run the country” or show “leadership” to congress.  This is the exact opposite of what the founders intended.  And we, as a nation, have bought off on these wrong-headed notions to our detriment.  

But with the CoS movement we have a chance to relearn what we used to know from elementary school Civics classes.   And the learning will be far more interesting than any political campaign; even more exciting than the bread and circus we experienced with the 2016 debacle. 

By just by paying attention to the issues being discussed you will find yourself drawn to the discussion.  Ideas that you might think boring will suddenly take on new meaning.  You will find out quickly where you truly stand on the political/philosophical spectrum in this country.  This is the kind of event that can inspire a renewed sense of true citizenship, far more than petty, partisan politics.

So even if you presently see yourself as disinterested in politics, give the movement a look.  I hope some of you will come back and thank me later.

This movement is for everyone, but I have a special note to conservatives.  We on the right do a lot of shouting about the way things ought to be.  And some did a lot of crowing after the’16 election. Some actually believe we achieved a conservative victory.  Well, if you consider yourself a conservative and a proponent of the Constitution and you don’t get your hands dirty with the CoS Project, you’re not really a conservative. At least not one who can hoot about making America great again, or about respect for our founding documents, in a substantive way.

If you haven’t visited the link to George Mason yet, please take a moment to do so now.  It is short and instructive. Mason.

There are discussions below directly from the CoS website.

Photo Credit: Independence Hall Sangre-La.com Flickr via Compfight cc

Kindle Version, STREET POLITICS: It Ain’t Your Daddy’s GOP Anymore! 50% of all author proceeds go to fighting Multiple Sclerosis!!

 

Grab my RSS while you’re here. Right side, below META.

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