Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Great Error of Israeli Normalization

Israel has celebrated its 63rd independence day, but it is a hollow celebration in a country that is less independent than it has been in decades. Rather than working within regional and global realities, its leaders instead fanatically pursue normalization and stabilization. But normalcy and stability are illusions in the Middle East, as the past few months have reminded us.

Pursuing stability with unstable regimes is doomed from the start. Normalization relies on peace achieved through agreements with Arab leaders. But such agreements are always hostage to the corruption of the Arab governments and their desperate need for bigoted populism. Even an agreement with the relatively stable Egypt was not able to outlast a single government. The less stable Palestinian Authority breaks agreements as soon as it signs them.

The Camp David Accords, jewel of the normalization crown, have proven to be worthless. The Oslo Accords were discredited in far less time than that. Had Israel given in to pressure and exchanged the Golan Heights for a peace treaty with Syria-- that agreement would no longer be worth the paper it was written on. And yet in January, the Obama Administration was aggressively pushing Israel to turn over the Golan Heights, for which so many IDF soldiers gave their lives, for exactly that.

Arab leaders don't understand the Western obsession with treaties. Nor do they consider them to be binding in any way. To them an accord or an agreement is nothing but a statement of their interests, which becomes obsolete the moment their interests change. There is no such thing as a permanent peace agreement that binds nations and peoples. All treaties with Arab leaders are signed with individuals and their families. They do not represent any permanent reconciliation or normalization. That can only be achieved through intermarriage and complete cultural blending.

Arabs view the Israeli pursuit of peace as insecurity. When Israel talks about how much it wants peace, it loses face. The Arabs view such talk as a sign of weakness, an admission of guilt by thieves who now want to strike a bargain to avoid what's coming to them, or a disingenuous claim to cover up plans for war.

The culture of the Shouk, the middle-eastern bazaar, is the bluff and the mind game. To assert a lie confidently is to strengthen your bargaining position, to speak the truth softly is to be thought a liar. Everyone knows what they want, but no one comes right out and says it. No one but a tourist or a sucker. If you come out and say that you want peace, then you're either a sucker, a coward or looking for an excuse to start a war. Arab states assume all three things about Israel. Often at the same time. Because our behavior confuses them as badly as they confuse us.

Israel demonstrates superior force and then sues for peace. It surrenders to terrorists and then it bombs them. It retreats and then talks about a permanent settlement. Arab behavior often looks crazy to outsiders, but our behavior looks much more crazy to them. We think that they say one thing and do another. They think the same thing about us. And with good cause.

Arab leaders speak the language of the region. Israeli leaders speak some bizarre Western dialect that is foreign to the region and its sensibilities. Arab leaders assume that foreign diplomats who don't understand that what they say isn't what they mean are either idiots or being disingenuous. Confused? You're now an honorary diplomat. And Western emissaries either end up believing everything they hear to not believing anything they hear. But their problem is that they confuse the poetry of the words with the content of the message.

Israel pursuing the mirage of permanent peace and brotherhood is one of the dumber things they have ever encountered. There is no such thing in the region. The Arabs hate the Persians. The Sunnis hate the Shiites. The Egyptians hate the Saudis. Bedouin clans that live side by side for centuries have blood feuds that have gone on for centuries. Look at Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, any Arab country under a microscope and you see a whirling mass of smaller entities who only stop fighting when a stronger force gets in the way.

Everyone in the Middle East hates everyone else, and will go on feeling that way until the end of time. The only way to stop your neighbor from cutting your throat, stealing your car or making off with your daughter-- is to threaten to do the same thing to him. And worse.

Israeli leaders of another generation understood this regional reality. But the distance between the men who drained the swamps and fought bandits, and the men who live enclosed in the massive population density of the Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area, up there with London, Moscow, Tokyo and Rio De Janiero, has grown too great. They are intimately familiar with Tel Aviv, Paris and Brussels. But they have no understanding whatsoever of the people they live among.

Urbanization in civilizations means that the people who have the most awareness of an external threat, are cut off from the centers of power. Too many Israelis have come to think of Arabs as people like them who happen to speak a different language. Cousins they just don't get along with. Few would have been stupid enough to make that mistake seventy years ago. But insularity, multicultural propaganda and the popularity of surface elements of Arab culture have made it ubiquitous.

The New Middle East is a fairy bubble born out of that myth. And no matter how many times it bursts, there are still those who chase after it.

There can be no permanent peace or normalization with the Arab world, except within the context of regional realities. Those realities are that Arab leaders are obligated to publicly hate Israel, while privately cooperating on issues of mutual interest. Any written treaty is worthless, but oral agreements can work, so long as they benefit both sides. The Arab Street will go on hating Israel, as they have hated religious minorities and anyone who is different from them in any way. There will be no brand new Middle East, just the same old one as before.

The difference between the Middle East as it was and as it is, is window dressing. These are still borderline feudal societies with the important families controlling the land and the government. And the peasants having barely enough to tie their shoes together with. The Arab world consists of ramshackle post-colonial governments run by powerful families. The parliaments and ministers, the bureaucrats and officers, are generally the sons of powerful families, their nephews, distant cousins, and anyone else who can be counted on to be loyal to the tribe. Whether the men at the top call themselves sheiks or colonels, they rely on the support of that oligarchy, and rule through some combination of bribery and armed force. The Arab Spring is nothing more than prominent families and religious factions fighting it out for supremacy.

If Israel is to survive in the Middle East, it will only be able to do by accepting those realities, and maintaining its existence by demonstrating and using the power it has. The only normalcy and stability it can have is that the Arabs will accept that it is not going anywhere. Something that had already been accomplished in the late seventies, only to be trashed by bleeding heart leftists in the nineties. Only by making it clear that it will not be destroyed, undermined or bullied into giving up, will that reassert itself.

The State of Israel exists in a violent and unstable part of the world. That violence will be part of its reality for as long as it is there. There should be no more land for peace or peace initiatives of any kind. They do far more harm than good. Like any bad neighborhood, the only thing to do is secure your property, keep watch over it, move along anyone who doesn't belong there, and keep a weapon handy at all times. Only then can you reach a limited understanding with the local gangs and even gain their respect. That is the regional reality. You don't achieve regional normalization by signing a few accords and turning over some land. Instead you do it by turning your presence into an indisputable fact. And if you work with that regional reality, then the regional reality will work with you.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Immemorial

Nearly 1.3 million Americans have died in the nation's wars. That is one soldier for every hundred families living today. One soldier for every 270 of us has died somewhere between the shot heard round the world' fired at Lexington and the shots being fired now as you read this on some dusty patch of rock in Kandahar. We all bear the terrible burden of their sacrifice. And the greater burden to make that sacrifice meaningful.

Some wars that are remembered and some wars that are forgotten. And it matters least whether they died standing watch on a lonely frontier with a handful of others in a clash barely dignified with a proper name or in one of the great kettles of war in which men boiled and of which songs are sung, novels written and movies filmed. Up close there is no story but that of the fight itself. The dirt, the sand and the waves. The rush of wind, the sound of a bullet and the long fall from life to death. And from beyond there is nothing but the immemorial sacrifices of those who give their lives so that the nation may live.

By the time Memorial Day or Decoration Day came into being, men had been going off to war for centuries to protect the colonies and then the republic. They had done such an excellent job of it that by the time a day to remember the fallen was set aside, pacifism had come to seem like a realistic philosophy. And that too is the price of service. To do your job so well that future generations no longer appreciate that the job had to be done at all. That those who inherited the security of their sacrifices threw dirt into the faces of those who died for them.

The philosophers of peace begin by demonizing war and end by demonizing soldiers. If war is something unnatural, then it stands to reason that the soldier is an unnatural creature. Get rid of the soldier and we get rid of the wars. The attitude is older than Vietnam. Older than human history. That uncomfortable relationship between the farmer and the hunter. The gatherer and the warrior. And while soldiers dig in beneath the howling wind, the philosophers build their airy castles. The academic fancies himself more moral than the soldier for he knows that war is a senseless and unnecessary thing. The soldier knows that war is senseless, and yet so horribly necessary.

"For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an ' "Chuck him out, the brute!" But it's  "Saviour of 'is country," when the guns begin to shoot;" wrote Kipling. And so it has been on this side of the ocean.

The more airy our philosophy has become, the worse the image of the veteran has gotten. Rarely has the American soldier been treated as he should. Revolutionary War veterans were robbed of their pay. Civil War veterans went begging on crutches. WW1 veterans were chased out of Washington D.C. at bayonet point. WW2 veterans were denounced as a lazy and corrupt army of occupation. The Vietnam veteran was depicted as an unstable beast. The modern soldier as a broken killer. But even as we have done better at providing a safety net for veterans, the image of them has gotten worse. We may need 'Tommy', but the community organizers still long to chuck him out.

The modern hero is the rebel. The man who doesn't follow orders, but ends up doing what's right anyway. Every campus since the seventies has been crowded with conformist rebels without a cause. Even the 'Army of One' slogan bends that way turning heroism into a private matter. Something an individual does on his own time. But the heroism of the soldier is not a private act. Our warriors are not savages covered in face paint or riding on the back of pickup trucks through the desert high on hashish. The army is a reflection of our civilization. A group effort. Its solidarity is not based on cinematic archetypes, but on men following rules even when it gets them killed. There is and has always been private heroism in that. But it is a private heroism that springs from the common denominator of the group.

The left mimes horror at the sight of men charging into the face of death, yet their alternative is an equally suicidal conformity. A conformity without honor. A plan without reason. And a future that cannot be.

The military has its uniforms and the left has theirs. The soldiers have their marching orders and their treasonous counterparts have theirs. The former have Arlington. The latter have Kent State. And every day men and women risk their lives so that rebels without a cause may rave on. It is a one sided war, this culture war against the military. A cowardly campaign against those whom they know cannot answer them in kind. This frenzied effort to denounce and dismantle the national defense of a country. Compromise the military-industrial infrastructure enough, and there will be no more war, the left says. And indeed there will be no more war. Only slavery. 

A nation cannot exist only because of its soldiers. Yet without its soldiers it cannot exist at all. The existence of America is a tribute owed to the millions who served, who were wounded and who fell in the line of duty. That their sacrifices have won them the dishonor of their culture is a shameful reflection on the culture, not on them.

The sacrifices of war are immemorial. And yet they are the sacrifices of peace. There is no peace without someone to fight for you. The volunteer army is a voluntary sacrifice. A tribute of courage that passes from war to war and generation to generation. Its refining glory is that legacy. Across the centuries blood spilled is reborn as farms and factories, books and laboratories, skyscrapers and cottages. From the first militia that looked across the frontier of a darkened continent to the soldiers who rise aloft into the sky watched over by the ceaseless eyes of orbiting satellites, the growth of the nation ahead and below them is their tribute.


Yet the more secure a civilization becomes, the more it fears to look back into the red heart of the violence that gave birth to it. War is the womb of nations. But when enough wars are won, then there is room enough for the thinkers and philosophers to imagine a better way. A world without war gained not through miracles, but through the good fellowship of other men. "We have it all figured out," they cry, "all we have to do is be nice to each other." And then they stand with worthless treaties and furled umbrellas in the bloody rain.

We are imprinted to fear violence. The more security we gain, the more flight becomes the dominant instinct. The herd learns to run, hoping for security in numbers. "What of 3,000 dead," say the left, "far more die of cancer in a single year." That is the voice of the herd. The cows who dream of safety at the cost of the cattle ahead of them on the abattoir's long conveyor belt. The ostriches looking for utopia in the dirt covering their own heads. To such people, security equates to morality, and comfort becomes ethics. A refusal to risk one's life except by clambering up the occasional endangered tree becomes heroism. Bartleby and James Dean, the men who don't know why they say no, take the soldier's place in the hall of heroes.

Peace was not won for us by campus activists with kerchiefs shrieking into megaphones or bearded thinkers pontificating smugly about utopia. They have always been its greatest obstacles. For it is not some noble and glorious state. It is the absence of war. And war is only absent in the face of war. Our homes are not kept safe by the books in them, but by the weapons borne in their defense. So too no nation is kept safe from intruders by its libraries, but by its soldiers. Great libraries make great soldiers. But a library without soldiers ends up as the Great Library of Alexandria did when the Muslim horde arrived to claim it. As a pile of ashes.

Thus the existence of a nation and the sacrifices of its soldiers are inextricably linked. One cannot survive without the other. There is no single day alone that can memorialize this most immemorial of sacrifices. It is an endless thing. The life of the one and the other linked together. There cannot be only one or two days in which to remember their service, just as there cannot be but one day or two to remember one's own parents. As their sacrifices are immemorial, so much their remembrance be.

Yesterday was Memorial Day. Today their remembrance is Immemorial.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Will Islam Destroy Itself?

In his address to congress, Netanyahu said that militant Islam threatens Islam. As if there were any such thing as a non-militant form of Islam. An ideology that was militantly expansionistic from birth. And yet that expansionism does threaten it.

It's not mere militancy that threatens Islam, but its own lack of proportion. Had the Nazis satisfied themselves with a round of domestic purges and only a little territorial expansionism, today they might still be running a bankrupt decaying state. And news stories from the 1970's and 1980's might carry reports of popular protests against the disastrous economics of National Socialism. But Hitler and his cronies lacked a sense of proportion. When they capped off an invasion of Russia, war in Africa and an air campaign against England, with a declaration of war on America-- they were done. And their ideology went down with them.

If an ideology fighting a simultaneous war on nearly every continent sounds familiar, it should. The new Islamic crusade is just as arrogantly overextended. Just as certain that it can win every battle because it's destined to. That its inherent superiority makes it unbeatable. And that its enemies are cowards who are easily tricked and even more easily beaten.

Petrodollars and Jihadis are being rushed to conflicts around the globe. And Muslim countries are racing to acquire nuclear weapons, even though it puts their own populations in the firing line of a nuclear war. Muslim terrorism is turning immigration into a national security issue. And Sharia is raising hackles even among many liberals. The arrogance and hubris of the Islamic crusade for a new caliphate has made too many enemies, too fast. And it relies on Western complicity and money. That remains its weak point.

Had Muslims focused on domestic revolutions, most of the world would have let it go. Western countries have lost their enthusiasm for armed interventions on behalf of tyrants. And if foreign businessmen can learn to live with Dubai and Saudi Arabia, they would have accepted similar transformations in Egypt and Syria. Muslims could have assembled a Caliphate with hardly an objection from abroad. But instead they spent more time focused on conquest, than on revolution.

Like an amateur gambler flush with his winnings, the Imams and Mullahs swelled with pride and decided they couldn't lose. They wouldn't just bring down their own countries, instead they would tie everything together and pull it all down. Use terrorism to blackmail and intimidate the West. And then use that as a lever for regime change. It's working quite well so far. But then again most battle plans work, when the enemy is hardly fighting back.

The Islamists are assembling too many enemies too fast, to consider what would happen if those enemies united against them. They have spent too much time gloating over the Western dependency on their oil and their immigrants to think about what will happen the day the oil pipeline and the immigration pipeline are cut off.  Like the Nazis, they are spending too much time moving pins on a map to note all the places where they are advancing, all the wars they are fighting and all the mosques they are building, to take the time to realize how vulnerable that makes them.

Fortune rewards the aggressor who takes the initiative. But that's only until he overreaches. And then the other side takes the initiative. 

Hitler thought himself quite clever for taking the Rhineland, seizing Austria and carving up the industrial riches of Czechoslovakia with the consent of his old enemies. Then with bombers flying over London and tanks deep in Russia, the Third Reich and its allies seemed unstoppable. But then a few years later, enemy troops were closing in on Berlin. That's the problem with believing you'll win because you're destined to. By the time you realize how badly you screwed up, it's too late.

By the end of 1941, Hitler was actually taking the initiative against America, which last time around had decisively turned the tide. There's hardly a more clear cut case of completely forgetting the lessons of a war that you had actually fought in. But the Nazi drive to power had been built on denying the real political, military and economic lessons of WW1. The assertion that Germany lost because it was betrayed, doomed it to lose a second time.

The Islamists suffer from the same problem. Their denial of history dooms them to repeat it all over again. Their assertion that Islamic states are immune from the social and economic problems of secular states means that their aspirations for a Caliphate will fall apart into bickering and civil war.  And their belief that Islamic warriors are any better than ordinary tribals armed with machine guns and RPG's has been disproven on countless battlefields. The myth of the suicide bomber is the last resort of a delusional ideology trying to deny its own human vulnerabilities.

Racial and religious doctrinal purity does not equal omnipotence. And Islamic expansionism is due to relearn the same lesson that World War II meted out to the aggressors. The Caliphate and Third Reich are the vision of maniacs and demagogues trying to turn back the clock to a mythical past. Building castles in the sand by a bloody shore.

The obsessive petrodollar construction projects of Dubai have something of Albert Speer about them. Huge tasteless buildings constructed to show the grandeur of a regime, even while revealing its lack of taste and creativity. And its underlying insecurity. The Nazi, Communists and now Muslims obsession with constructing gargantuan inhuman structures reveal some of the insecurity behind the violence. Giant concrete and steel security blankets by vicious men terrified of their own mortality.

Insecurities lead to grandiosity. The tilting shots of Leni Riefenstahl depicting the Aryan man as more than human, or the Muslim martyr who willingly kills himself for the Jihad, share a common contempt for humanity. And beneath that contempt a craven fear of being merely human.

The ambition of the Caliphate conceals its own rot. The graffiti portraits of martyrs on walls turn them into museums of fear. The grandiosity of a worldwide Jihad is not the work of strongminded men, but of weak ones.  The Jihad is not on the march because it is strong, but because it is unable to offer any real solutions to domestic problems. All that Islamic groups do is offer subsidized services and bribes in exchange for popular support. The same cheap trick that every Muslim and even non-Muslim government does.

Like Nazism and Communism, the Islamic utopia is unsustainable. A fool's dream overseen by greedy thieves and guarded by vicious butchers. And like them it gains credibility only from extending the conflict. From positioning itself as the force of light standing against the darkness. And like them, Islam destroys the societies it takes over in order to continue a war that has no purpose except to disguise the foolishness of its doctrines and the incompetence of its visionaries.

The inherent social instability of Islam necessitates its expansionism. Just as the economic instability of National Socialism made Kristalnacht and the invasion of Poland necessary for the Nazi elite. Or the economic failures of Soviet Communism made its own expansionism inevitable. A strong warlike country's ideology doesn't fail internally, until it also fails externally.

The Islamic Jihad is a social instability disguised as brute force expansionism. Weakness trying to pretend it's strength. Events in Iran have shown that Islamic regimes are no more stable than secular ones. Eventually the greed of the ruling oligarchy and the fanaticism of its clerics runs into the barrier of public frustration and rage. Exporting the same instability and fanatical violence to Western countries through immigration may topple the free world. But it's more likely to lead a backlash. And that is exactly what's starting to take place now.

Western socialists need immigrants, but even they have their limits. And that limit will be reached when they realize that Islamic immigration and violence makes their dream of a new Europe and a world united under international law null and void. Even without that, their welfare state utopias have a limited lifespan. And when those utopias collapse, they won't have much use for immigrants. Or for the violence they bring with them.

Islam is overreaching badly. Its political successes have inflamed its sense of destiny. But politics turns. And unlike a high tech society or a competent military-- the political advantage and wealth that comes from an addiction to oil are both vulnerable to sudden change. The wheel of history is turning. And while Muslims are confident that it is turning in their direction, they would do well to remember that the glorious days of mastery they are trying to recapture came to an end for a reason. That the ruler of history raps hardest the knuckles of those who refuse to learn its lessons. And that they have now become its worst pupils.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Day at the Races

If the Republican presidential field were any more unstable, it would be radioactive. At this point just about anyone can jump in and briefly poll on top of the heap, before slowly sinking down to the bottom again, like a banana in a bowl of stale jello. Party players pin their hopes on candidates that aren't running. Pilgrims in thousand dollar suits court state governors. Activists assemble petitions. But none of that is the solution. It's not so much that the man is missing, but the message.

It's a long way from 2011 to 2010. A year ago it was about the message, not the personalities. Now it is all about the personalities. And such scant personalities they are. After months of this, we can finally begin dividing the field into RINO's who have experience, populists who have no experience and those who have decided not to run. For all the feverish speculation, we find ourselves without the usual surplus of candidates. Instead it's more like a shortage.

Trump's ring toss and retreat has become the opening number of the race. Mid-terms are dangerous. It takes huge amounts of money and coordination to pull off a presidential run. Not to mention facing a media gauntlet of unprecedented ugliness. It's easier not to run. Especially if you have no compelling reason.

It's the lack of a compelling reason, a gut issue, that has left the field so pale. If 2010 was an uprising against government mismanagement, 2011 is more like a career fair in which no one is eager to take a leaflet or claim a job. The gut issues of smaller government, less regulation and more economic growth have been swallowed into the belly of budget debates. And you can't run on budget debates. Pawlenty's Time for Truth ad with its faintly upbeat music and downbeat message is the problem. Its forlorn sincerity is downright Carteresque. An insurance commercial for austerity.

The grass roots uprising spoke to individual grievances and a sense that.the country was being lost. And now that message has been buried in policy wonkery at the worst possible time. It's not that the policy debates don't matter. They do. But they have to be summed up in a larger vision. And that vision has to focus on a resurgence. It has to be hopeful. It has to be Reagan's Morning in America, not Carter's Gloomy Gus. Cutting spending has to be positioned as empowerment, not depression.  The right thing to do even if we weren't in the midst of an economic disaster.

2010 accomplished what it was meant to. It put Obama, Pelosi and Reid in a stalemate. Not a perfect stalemate. But enough to slow them down. Hamstring their agenda. The next step will either be a comprehensive victory or an extension of the stalemate. A Republican victory breaks the stalemate, but if Obama wins and the Republicans make some limited gains, then the stalemate goes on.

The reason Obama loses against a generic Republican ballot, but does better against some known candidates, is that right now the negative vote is a powerful force in American politics. More powerful than the positive vote. Obama knows he doesn't have to win over most of the swing voters. He just has to make the Republican opposition look like a worse option.

This is what we're up against. This time around we're not up against the messiah of hope and change. It's the governor of the status quo that we're running against. The candidate of the devil you know. And while to most people reading this, the devil you know is never a viable option. To many people he will be. Even those who don't like him and who know he doesn't like them. Because the alternative is either uninspiring or scary. Summed up as that most frightening of words. Insecurity. And in an insecure time, many will cling to what they know, if the alternative doesn't offer them much hope.

Any Republican who hopes to win is going to have to draw on a positive vote. And that is not going to be easy. This time we're going to be the ones selling hope and change. And we're going to have to do it inspirationally. If we can't do that, then all we can do is warn of a disaster and hope the negative vote is enough. And it probably won't be.

Last year we tapped into discontent. This time we're going to have to do more than that. The economy is the binding issue, but it's a blade that cuts both ways. The candidate offering hard truths doesn't have a history of performing well in national elections. Especially in an economic crisis. Otherwise FDR would have never taken the White House. And that was before a sizable portion of the country depended on entitlements. Afterward, it's even more of an uphill battle. That's without factoring in the media barrage or last minute surprises. That doesn't mean the hard truths don't belong, but that they have to be part of an optimistic vision.

There's a glumness to the field right now. A dourness. Only the populist favorites like Trump and Cain seemed to be enjoying themselves. The infighting, the opposition research, the articles and posts indicting one candidate or another for the faults that most of them have, only add to the mood. It all feels too much like 2008 all over again. Or 1996. A campaign of old hands fighting for a desperate shot at a race they don't really hope to win.

And the connection to the gut issues is missing. The Battle of ObamaCare had become about more than just the law. It was a metaphor for the overreaching hubris of an administration. Its interference, its arrogance and its refusal to listen. Its wild spending and bills that couldn't be read. The backlash tapped into a frustration with government authority and uncontrollable spending. But despite the NLRB's abuses and the latest insane spending sprees, that focus has been lost.

The public is still dissatisfied, but the leadership has diffused into civil wars in echo chambers. Insiders debating over who the real insiders are. Agendas being set that can't be fulfilled. Everyone is positioning themselves in a battle. But the morale is lacking. There are a thousand flags, but no single flag to wave high. The Gadsden flag, that became the banner of the Tea Party movement, with its motto, 'Don't Tread On Me' is ideal for what is missing. For what we aren't fighting for.

The problem of all policy debates is that they sink into the workings of governments. They turn into a debate over what bills to pass and what laws to make. And then that reflexive outrage of, 'Don't Tread on Me' is lost. And what you have left are generic candidates angling for the best strategy. Fighting to win, but with no real reason to win.

The disparity of power between the government and the governed is at the heart of a populist movement. But to win, the grass roots still have to back politicians. And if they win, the politicians turn into the government. They take on another perspective. That of the other side.

The challenge of 2012 is to unite the Gadsden flag with the flag of the United States. To merge popular dissent into a vision of independence. A vision that enlarges rather than diminishes. Outrage is enough for a populist backlash in a midterm election. But outrage alone won't see us through. Neither will all the criticisms of Obama. Every rebellion has to give way to a vision of a better nation. And it must transcend the personal ambitions of its leaders, but not the personal grievances of its people.

The field we have now is driven by personal ambition. And ambition has limits to its resonance. Even when dressed up in messianic clothes and turned into the illusion of democratized fame. None of this is enough. Unless we can raise a flag that beams, 'Morning in America', then the race will become Obama's to lose.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Afternoon Roundup - An Enemy We Dare Not Name



LESS THAN JUST WORDS

Netanyahu's visit managed to overshadow even Obama's visit to the UK. Israeli leaders have come to Washington before, but rarely has it been such big news. The visit itself was significant mainly because Netanyahu kicked back against the narrative. His speech compromised on too many areas, but it was a show of independence against a leader who has no credibility on Israel. It was what so many conservatives and Jews wanted to hear.

How much any of it matters is another question. Netanyahu's warm reception makes applying pressure more difficult, but far from impossible. And Obama is certainly not throwing in the towel.

But where's the beef. Take Congressman Dan Burton's "H.R.1006 - Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act of 2011" that would finally accomplish something as elementary as recognizing the actual birthplace of children born in Jerusalem and moving the embassy to the nation's capitol. How many of the congressmen and senators who made passionate speeches are really on board with it? If it gets through congress, will Harry Reid support it? A number of organizations are preparing to lobby for it this summer. But will there be traction? Are all the speeches more than just words.



MEET YOUR NEW POODLE.

While Netanyahu was telling off The Big Zero in his own house, over in the UK, Cameron had another slap waiting for him with a unilateral pullout. Back in the Bush days, UK leftists were complaining that Blair had become his poodle. Now Obama has become Cameron's poodle.

Obama joined in on Cameron and Sarkozy's Libyan adventure, only to have Cameron march the UK out of Afghanistan ahead of schedule. This weakens the administration's hand in negotiating with the Taliban. Cameron clearly doesn't give a damn. Just as he has no problem slashing the military budget, cutting up a carrier and then starting a war. Which puts him slightly ahead of Obama in the irresponsible world leader sweepstakes. But it also shows just how impotent Obama's foreign policy has become.


BORIS WINS AGAIN

In the ongoing saga of the international triumphs of the son of a Kenyan adulterer and a ditzy Dunham, the Russians just keep slapping him around like a toy puppet. Republican Senators who fell for the arms control treaty that O was lugging around like the world's worst vacuum cleaner salesman, have got to be doubly infuriated by this latest turn of events.

President Obama had just finished touting the “outstanding relationship” he and Dmitry Medvedev have built between themselves and their nations – the American leader even used the “reset” button metaphor again – when the Russian president turned to the thorny issue of Washington’s plan to upgrade its missile defense shield, and uncorked a stunner.

I have told my counterpart, Barack Obama, that this issue will be finally solved in the future,” Medvedev told reporters in Deauville, France, “like, for example, in the year 2020.”

Yes in the reign of King Biden the First, Protector of the Wilmington Amtrak Station, Keeper of the Cask of Dewar's and Master of Falling Asleep With His Eyes Open.

Russian president Dmitry Medvedev threatened Wednesday a return to the Cold War, saying the US decision to push ahead with a contested missile defense shield could prompt "retaliatory measures."

One word. Outstanding. Okay, two words. Outstanding Relationship.


ANDY SULLIVAN DEVELOPS NEW PALIN RELATED OBSESSION

Andrew Sullivan having plumbed the depths of Palin's pregnancy is headed into the whirlpool of a fresh new obsession. Sarah Palin and Queen Esther. Back when the resident lunatic was at The Atlantic asylum, other contributors had to humor his claims that Palin was pregnant with her own grandchild, and that she really thought she was Queen Esther.

But neither of those obsessions proved very marketable. That hasn't stopped Sullivan from mentioning them constantly. His latest comment on Palin.

I, for one, feel nothing but a chill go up my spine. Queen Esther is coming. Look busy.

I, for one, feel a chill go up my toe when I think that someone out there takes Andrew Sullivan's PDS seriously. "Stop her people, she's really Queen Esther in disguise!"


MENTAL INCOMPETENCE

Jared Loughner has been found mentally incompetent. The bullseye hoax is dead as a doornail. (Are we still allowed to say 'doornail'?) But now Scarborough seemed to claim that Keith Olbermann was pushed out of MSNBC and Glenn Beck out of FOX over a new tone set after the shootings. It makes you wonder who's really mentally incompetent here.

But it also seems that both networks wanted their high profile personalities gone. And the Tuscon shootings became an excuse for a local purge of on air talent.

The New York Magazine piece on Ailes is depressing reading. How true it is, is another matter. But the likely takeaway is that Ailes is more liberal than the average FOX viewer. To his media colleagues he may look like a crazy right winger, but that may well be how he thinks of his own audience.

The clash of egos between personalities undermines movements. The more that media personalities make it about them, their own success and image, the less able they are to champion a cause they have to sacrifice for because it's the right thing to do.



WHO NEEDS BIBI ANYWAY

I know you were probably wondering what Roseanne is doing. Playing another TV matriarch or posing with another Hitler mustache? You wish.

She's running for president of the United States and prime minister of Israel on a platform of being crazy, and hating Israel.

Actually her program is to legalize drugs, build reeducation camps, bring back the guillotine and pay Muslims not to shoot at Israelis (aren't we doing this already, it isn't working). As part of her Green Tea Party program, she also pledges to redesign "the matrix of the stock market", stop the twelve or sixty evil Jews who run the world, and "make heaven on earth for every child within one year".

I think Gary Johnson and Ron Paul just got their VP. But Roseanne wants Cynthia McKinney to be her running mate. Cynthia McKinney though seems to want Kaddafi to be her running mate. But sooner or later this will all get sorted out. And at least she has a birth certificate.


NEW YORK TIMES DISCOVERS ALTERNATE UNIVERSE

You know that absolutely miserable failed trip by Netanyahu to the United States? That horrible miserable disastrous trip? What you've never heard of it. That qualifies you to work as the Middle Eastern correspondent for the New York Times.

But don't line up yet. Ethan Bronner is still on the job inventing an alternate reality for his bosses in New York.

Sure even the radical leftist Haaretz admitted that Netanyahu's trip was a success. But Ethan Bronner tirelessly and diligently works on his imaginary reality in which the trip was a complete failure.

How does Bronner pull it off? He quotes only opponents of Netanyahu and not very many of them. His supporting evidence is one Yediot cartoon, an ambiguous comment from a Maariv columnist, both tabloids. An opposition politician. And then nothing except Bronner coughing up pages of inkstains on his alternate universe.

Said universe, includes repeated claims that Kadima is a centrist party. Just like the Democratic party is a centrist party. Or Bronner is centrist.


ALTERNATE UNIVERSE CONTINUES EXPANDING

After a night snorting cooked toads, Matt Yglesias sat down and invented what he calls post-Jewish Zionism. In one of the more baffling talking points to come out of the TP mill (Think Progress, not Toilet Paper, though works as both), Yglesias claims that Zionism isn't Jewish anymore.

Yglesias' confusingly racist argument is that Israelis have turned brown, religious, Russian and right wing and don't have much in common with American Jews anymore. And the Zionists outside Israel are Christians now. Which must be why theSalute to Israel Parade's 30,000 marchers and million spectators includes no Jews anymore. And AIPAC is now a Christian organization. Frank Luntz's poll which shows deep and abiding support for Israel... feh.


Also Netanyahu's trip was a disastrous failure. I'm not sure what the difference between liberalism and LSD is anymore.


BAD DAY IN NY-26

NY-26 wasn't just about Medicare. It was also about a phony tea party candidate and a morale booster for the Democrats who want this to be their Scott Brown. Their proof that the Republicans are vulnerable and a Democratic wave is coming to shore.

The Democrats put more resources and focus into NY-26 and they won. Sometimes it is that simple. Especially when the New York State Republican party couldn't find a drop to drink at the bottom of a well, let alone an election strategy. But that doesn't mean Medicare wasn't an issue. It certainly was.

Which is why peddling advice to the Republican party to run on privatizing Medicare is seven kinds of insanity and eight kinds of experiments in driving a car off a cliff to prove a point.

The average American is going to the polls thinking about basic economic issues. Right now he's for cutting spending, for the debt limit and for small government. That doesn't mean he's prepared to deal with the implications of radical changes that will affect him and his family. Especially when finances are already tight. A sizable number of people didn't reject ObamaCare because they had copies of Ayn Rand under their pillow, but because it was radical change. Like it or not, privatizing Medicare is radical change too.

The Ryan plan isn't bad, it's badly timed. It may be the worst timed plan in political history. Announcing a controversial plan that will lose you votes at a time when you can't actually pass it makes no sense at all.

Conservatives have to defend the plan, but making it the center of an election strategy... well you might as well just buy tickets to Obama's next inauguration.

At the National Review, Jonah Goldberg says, the die is cast, and we might as well embrace it. But no the die isn't cast. Defending the plan is not the same thing as running on it. Turning it into the focus is not only a bad idea for all the obvious reasons, but because it sidelines the issues that voters actually are concerned about.

'Are you better off than you were four years ago' might win an election. 'Hey, let me take you through the implication of a plan to privatize Medicare to avoid a meltdown' will not.

The Ryan plan's proper place is within the context of government reforms that have to be made. And that's the context that needs to be maintained. Focus on Medicare loses that larger context. It becomes a debate over Medicare itself. And the Democrats will humanize that debate and win.

Pie charts and graphs don't look very impressive next to suffering people. You can't fight accusations of heartlessness with pie charts. It doesn't work. The only way to avoid that fight is to connect to voters by telling the larger story of lost jobs, lost opportunities, rising prices, overregulation, the cost of fuel, etc. The narrative that we had and that we're in danger of losing thanks to the badly timed Ryan plan.

The less we talk about Medicare, the more we can talk about comprehensive reforms that include Medicare. Reforms that voters will be much more comfortable with as a package deal.



THE LEFT'S BIGOTRY LESSONS PAY OFF

Here is an obviously and ugly case of the left's bigotry lessons paying off. In Ireland, acceptance of gay people is way up, unwed mothers up and travelers up. But Jews and especially Israelis are another matter.

The book-length study, “Pluralism and Diversity in Ireland,” found that 22.2% of Irish people would exclude Israelis from Irish citizenship, while 11.5% would deny it to all Jews... The research found prejudice against Jews was most prevalent among young adults in the 18-25 age group.

Contrast that with

Twenty-three years ago, just 12.5 per cent of the population said they would welcome a gay person in their family. This survey found 62.8 per cent would.

This is not historical prejudice at work, this is the media.

Prejudice ratings normally increase with age. With few native Irish even having met a Jew or Israeli-- there's only one source for this spike among the young, and that's media and social media demonization of Israel. Younger age groups consume more media and they integrate the left's bigotry into their own worldview.




CAN YOU TAKE THE TURKEY CHALLENGE

Ahmet Davuto─člu, Turkey's loony neo-ottomanist foreign minister, is offering to teach Israel how to be a normal country. Davuto─člu didn't mention if those lessons would include occupying territory, repressing an entire people, banning their language and using chemical weapons against insurgents in another country. All things that Turkey specializes in.


WHEN CRAZY AND EVIL MET CRAZY AND EVIL

What happens when two crazy dictators meet and shake hands? Sparks fly. Atomic sparks.

Zimbabwe's chief thug Mugabe has cut a deal with Iran's chief thug Ahmadinejad for that precious commodity that two countries with serious food shortages need most of all. Uranium.



SERIOUSLY GUYS, THE SORCERY THING WAS MORE PLAUSIBLE

In the ongoing split between Iranian leaders Khamenei and Ahmadinejad, the former have accused the latter of having wizards serving him, and now of being secretly friendly to Israel. Imagine a country where David Icke and Alex Jones were doing attack ads, and you get some idea of how crazy Iran is.

It's a lot more plausible that Ahmadinejad has magic powers than that he's a secret Israel lover, but accusing each other of secretly working for the Jews is a typical tactic in Muslim fights. Both sides in the Egyptian revolution have been accusing the other of working for Israel. It's just something you do when your religion is rabidly bigoted and your society is so backward that smashing people over the head with stone clubs seems like the height of progress.


THE ROUNDUP

Mencken asked us not to underestimate the decency of the human race. That can be hard sometimes. But Melanie Philips has a reminder that it still exists. Though finding it can be a challenge.

In these terrible times when western elites are dominated by the fellow-travellers of Islamo-fascism and genocidal Judeophobia, it is very important to realise that there are also some outstandingly decent, courageous and rational individuals who are putting their heads above the parapet and speaking up for Israel, truth and justice.

As Memorial Day approaches, Robert Hall presents his book, "The Coming Collapse of the American Republic".

Robert makes the point that we face converging threats that risk bringing an end to the republic.


1. The incomprehensible debt and unfunded financial liabilities of all levels of government;

2. The threat of uncontrolled, illegal immigration to our economy and culture;

3. The asymmetric war imposed on us by Islamic Jihadists; and,

4. The rise of China as a competitive military and economic power determined to dominate Asia.


I don't necessarily agree with his entire proposed approach, but it's worth thinking about. And some of his advice, from a successful veteran of political campaigns needs to be considered today.

Elections are won in the middle. They are usually decided by people who are not too interested in and don’t like politics. By voters who are much less informed than activists about current events, government and history—the independents. Think about the people on Leno’s popular feature “Jaywalking,” all voting. Think about people being given a ride to the polls on election day who ask the driver, “Who’s running?”

Robert is a Vietnam Vet, a former member of the Massachusetts State Senate and money from sales of the book will go toward wounded veterans. He has a blog at Tartan Marine.

Speaking of worst case scenarios, a look at the feasibility of Alaskan secession from Arctic Patriot. (Via Western Rifle Shooters) Of course if worst comes to worst, it won't be the US army at work here. It will be something that looks like the Soviet Union, an army of the criminal and the unemployed, overseen by political commissars, with none of the finickiness about rules of engagement and collateral damage. Hungry people who don't care about very much except who feeds them. Still the Finns provide an example of fighting in a cold climate and using it to their advantage.

Want to see the future of Palestine? Read Steven Plaut's Palestine 2013 Peace At Last

 How do you feel about paying to bring Islamists to power? The G8 have committed 20 billion to the Arab Spring. It'll be 200 billion before it's done.

At INN, Dr Rhynhold tries to quantify the Obama Doctrine as applied to the Arab Spring. (Via Israpundit)

While admitting that there will be bad days as well as good days, the Obama doctrine rests on a quasi-religious American creed that believes in the inevitable and universal triumph of liberal democracy. For Obama, the ‘Arab Spring’ recalls the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution, Rosa Parks and the struggle for civil rights, and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the Eastern European transition to democracy.

That's the rhetoric it rests on, these are traditional liberal beliefs, but I doubt Obama and his associates are doing anything more than using ideas like these as cover. We are not dealing with great believers in democracy here, but in getting their way. And their way is not democracy. It's power.

The question is power for the sake of what?

Speaking of a world power that knows how to throw its weight around, FrontPage Magazine has the story of the DeSinifcation of Red Dawn.


The updated version of the film, which was ready for distribution in 2010, substituted Chinese troops for the Soviets. But that worried MGM execs, who didn’t want to jeopardize future movie deals in China’s massive market. So MGM ordered the film to be radically redone in post-production, taking what The Los Angeles Times calls “the highly unusual” and “extraordinary step of digitally altering a film to excise bad guys from the communist nation lest the leadership in Beijing be offended.”

The result, according to published reports, is that most references to China have been replaced with North Korea. The MGM self-censors have gone so far as “digitally erasing Chinese flags and military symbols.”


So when the invasions comes... the invaders will be... those guys.

Another interesting phenomenon of the species that Australian readers may be more familiar with are the John Marsden Tomorrow books which feature an invasion of Australia by an unknown foreign speaking enemy with vast military resources and the ability to intimidate the United States-- but whose identity is never clarified.

There's something tragic about such ponderings of a war against an enemy we dare not name.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Failed State Colonization - The Greatest Threat of Our Time

Let's compare two countries side by side. Country A has a sizable middle class and economy, social welfare benefits and a low birth rate. Country B is a failed state where thugs run amok in the street, a few families control the economy and the birth rate is off the charts.

Country A's citizens are taught that nationalism is evil and that everyone should get along. Country B's citizens are taught that they are the greatest people that ever lived and would be running the world if not for Country A. But despite all this, Country B's citizens all want to move to Country A. And Country A wants to let them. Because Country A needs new workers to subsidize its welfare state and voters who will vote for pro-social welfare parties.

Since Country B's workers want the social welfare benefits, they move to Country A. Country A ends up with a huge failed state population and dramatically increases its social welfare spending for them. Bankruptcy threatens, but change is almost impossible because the pro-social welfare benefits party has become very hard to beat. The pro-reform parties no longer tackle immigration, but try to get the immigrant vote. Their reforms turn into band aids. Country A slides toward the abyss. Country B continues shipping more immigrants every year who remain loyal to its culture and religion.

Country B is a failed state. But Country A is also turning into a failed state as it imports Country B's surplus population, along with its criminality, its political culture and its ignorance across the border.

Look at a map of the world, and what you see are successful states and failed states. This is a map that transcends ethnicity and race. It is not dependent on resources or the starting level of technology. It's not even dependent on wealth, or its level of distribution, Gulf petro-states with small populations can have rich subsidized per capita incomes, but they are still failed states dependent on a single resource and a vast army of foreign workers.

It was thought once that success would spread from the successful states to the failed states. That it was only a matter of passing along certain techniques, educating their leaders in modern universities and starting them off with some World Bank loans. But instead the reverse has happened. Rather than failed states becoming successful under the influence of successful states, successful states are failing under the influence of failed states.

Migration from failed states to successful states is leading the way to utter ruin. The Pakistanization of Europe and the Mexicanization of America are two examples of the phenomenon. But there are others. Cote d'Ivorie, one of the more prosperous African countries, has been taken over by Muslim migrant workers, with the armed backing of the UN. What happened resembled events in South Africa, but this time both sides were black. The difference was not racial, but religious. It is another example of an ongoing phenomenon. Failed State Colonization.

Failed State Colonization is the greatest threat of our time. It marks a major shift from the old era of colonization where successful states colonized unsuccessful ones. Now failed states are colonizing successful ones. Failed states have become a global plague through their population migrations, which spread terrorism, crime and bankrupt the social systems of successful states. And as the migration wave continues FSC is turning formerly successful states into failed states.

Failed states have higher birth rates and stronger group loyalties. That combination weaponizes their migrations into successful states with lower birth rates and weak group loyalties into a takeover. Failed State Colonization uses the disunity, tolerance and democracy of successful states to destroy them from the inside. It's not always a conscious act, but that doesn't make it any less destructive.

The grey squirrels didn't intend to wipe out the red squirrels in the forests of England. But the populations are incompatible and though the red squirrels may be a nobler breed, those very qualities that make them admirable, also make them less able to resist an incursion by a rougher breed. The high ground moralizing of successful states may also be admirable, but it is equally doomed in the face of an incursion by cultures whose only morality is the success of their own group.

Liberal immigration advocates cheer the destruction of our worthless culture as they look forward to a world state without borders. But there will be no world state without borders because the only people who believe in such a thing are wiping themselves out by importing migratory populations that don't think nationalism and patriotism are evils. Muslim and Mexican immigrants are not ashamed of their history. They don't think borders are a bad idea, so long as they're the ones who control where those borders are set. The left is destroying the West, but it is only the West that ever believed in a world without borders.

Conservative immigration advocates insist on a cultural exceptionalism that will absorb immigrants because of our innate superiority. And that can work in the proper ratios. Done correctly the host society ends up with some new ethnic foods, a few immigrant communities and some more loanwords. Done incorrectly, entire cities become no go zones and go bankrupt providing social welfare for all.

The difference isn't just in the numbers, though those are important, but selectivity. Immigration will almost always spike crime rates, but those go down as absorption takes hold. (So long as productive absorption is possible.) What you never do is import mass populations who think of your country as their own and want to take it over. In such a scenario the absorption will go the other way and then you end up with the likes of Taliban Terry, a former altar boy who goes around Dublin, with son Osama in tow.

The Western left has committed itself to multiculturalism, the Western right has committed itself to free enterprise-- and both positions make it hard to choke off the flow of migrants. The social welfare left and the anything for a buck right need more immigrants because there are jobs that the natives just won't do, like work without under the table without benefits while putting eight kids and two wives on the welfare rolls. The irresponsibility of corporations and social welfare lobbies inflates budgets and increases crime, while the blame gets passed around. And then you end up with cities that are No Go Zones, Imams preaching Jihad and Mexican flags waving at protests-- all because companies wanted cheap labor and left wing politicians wanted to build a constituency.

Failed State Colonization isn't an invasion by armed force. But then colonization by successful states often wasn't either. The natives lacked the will and unity to mount an active resistance, they didn't see the scale of what was happening until it was too late, the invaders took advantage of native hospitality and many of the natives collaborated with the colonists to gain some personal advantage. All three of these factors exist in Failed State Colonization. The West has failed to learn the lessons of its own conquests. And now it is falling victim to many of those same tactics.

The West is divided, the migrants are united. The scale of what is happening can only be seen on the ground or in a few mostly hidden statistics, but neither show the full scope of the phenomenon, and even if they did, most natives are conditioned to think of their countries as nearly invulnerable. When they learn otherwise, the shock is too much and they default to appeasement and collaboration. That's something the Incas could tell you about. Hospitality is lavishly extended to the migrants, but it's repaid with treachery and violence. Again something the Incas could tell us about. If their civilization was still around.

The difference between the successful state and the failed state is cultural. Successful states are successful to to the extent that they are democratic in that the agenda of the government mirrors that of the people. Failed states are successful only to the extent that their tyrants are competent, and even such competence has to be filtered through the culture of a failed state.

The successful state is dynamic, the failed state is static. The successful state is always getting things done, the failed state is just struggling not to fall apart. Where the successful state uses its resources and wealth to advance, the failed state locks them up or uses them to bribe its people. And when that fails it guns them down in the street. The successful state believes that hard work will give it a better future. The failed state believes that a turn of the wheel will put it on top of the world. The successful state blames itself for its failures. The failed state blames wicked conspirators who undermine it at every turn.

The greatest error of immigration advocates is the failure to understand that immigration does not just import a population raw for the mixing, but entire cultures with their own political culture. The migrating population of a dominant state imports its culture. The very element that made it into a failed state. 

The people of a failed state may work hard, but they don't believe that hard work will move them forward because the system is corrupt and rigged against them. Instead they either work mechanically or look for ways to beat the system. The black market is ubiquitous. Everyone cheats everyone else. Political leaders are not representatives, but patrons, linking the people at the bottom to the top, who can provide favors and make things happen. You don't vote for a politican to reform a system, but to get in on the good side of his party and his family, who may then help out when you have to deal with the tangle of bureaucracy. Nothing works without a bribe. Not even the simplest things.

The people love and hate their country at the same time. They go from wanting to tear their leaders to pieces with their bare hands, to proclaiming them as gods in the space of a day. They distrust all leaders and yet they worship them. They fear the secret police and are its eagerest informants. The only injustice they protest against is personal injustice. They don't mind when the regime puts a thousand people to the wall, so long as one of them isn't their relative. They talk amongst themselves of whom the regime should really be shooting instead. "Ah, if only I were in charge. I would line them all up against the wall." That is the flavor of their democracy.

As successful states take on the political culture of failed states, their ability to reform their way out of the situation declines. Their welfare states might function if they could hold a steady native birth rate in a population that was steadily employed. But the companies of a post-modern country in a global economy feel no loyalty to remain and give up the profits they could make by outsourcing production. And a population for whom life begins after getting their second degree and where two family incomes are the norm is not going to have the birth rate necessary to sustain the next generation of the whole setup. Pouring a migrant population into the mix is like trying to fix a structural defect by setting the building on fire.

The more the ruling party responsible for the mess alienates the working class population it depended on, the more it needs immigrants to replace them as a voting base. The liberal parties become foreign parties. The conservative parties abandon their constituencies and chase after the immigrant vote. After all who are the natives going to vote for, the feckless leftist atheists or the good traditional conservatives who are busy observing Ramadan and learning to deliver speeches in Spanish.

As the system breaks down, the leftist parties pretend that nothing is wrong and the rightist parties go for slash and burn reforms that ignore the root of the problem. Scrap the military, nuke Medicare, cut funding to this office and that office. As if the root of the problem is the amount of money being spent, rather than the way it's being spent. Failing companies often try to cut expenses, but ignore that the underlying problem is not in the budget, but in its culture. The company isn't going under because it's spending too much money, that is a symptom of its fecklessness. It's going under because it has lost all sense of mission, it has lost touch with its old program and its new program is a dead end, and no one at the top can think of a reason for it to exist, except to keep them employed.

Take an honest look at Western governments and that's what you come away with. Massive bureaucracies that exist to provide compulsory services run by people who can't honestly provide a reason for the continuing existence of these countries except as an interim phase until the EU or the UN comes to take over for them. They mouth the rhetoric of exceptionalism, but they don't really believe it. They have more in common with their counterparts in other countries, than they do with the people whose lives they mismanage. Like most collapsing companies, the executives are obsessed with the minutiae of bureaucracy, enforcing rigid control in between attending lavish cocktail parties. They fiddle, Rome burns.

Failed State Colonization would not be a threat, if the successful states had not locked themselves into this mess. As the successful states fail, they lack the two elements that would repel the invaders. A high birth rate and a nationalist leadership. Those are elements the failed states do have. And so the showdown is an uneven one. The disparity is not of force, but of a willingness to use it.

Successful states attempt to avert the catastrophe by trying to police failed states, sending planes to bomb Libya to keep the migrants out, trying to shore up the Mexican government with aid and advisers. But those are all dead ends that lead to further entanglement and migration. American efforts in Somalia, Iraq and Yugoslavia have accomplished one indisputable thing. They have increased the numbers of Muslim immigrants coming from those countries. Practicing Nation Building on failed states won't stop them from colonizing us. It only accelerates the process.

Failed State Colonization is the greatest threat of our time, but it too is a symptom of the intellectual failures of the successful states. As failed states continue their prolonged collapse, they send out migrant populations which accelerate the collapse of the formerly successful states. This colonization means there will be no gradual decline. That we will not sink into the sunset like Japan, instead we will be brutally overrun. There will be no decline, but a fall.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Scarecrow Empires and Broken Alliances

Prime Minister Netanyahu's address to congress was less about the contents of his speech and more about the familiarity. Like Tony Blair, he was startlingly at home here. His presence an instinctive reminder of an alliance based on commonality and fellowship, weighed against the realpolitik of multinationalism. The warmth in his tone countering the cold counsel of foreign policy hands demanding more pressure.

The chilly reception that Gordon Brown and Benjamin Netanyahu received on their visits from the Obama Administration are post-modern fracture points in the old friendships. The instinctive kinship that Blair and Netanyahu called on are completely alien to Obama who feels far more warmth toward Egypt or Indonesia, than England and Israel. But Obama's foreignness to the old traditions is only a small fracture point in the larger break.

The US and EU have become empires without an empire, obsessively trying to maintain a world order based on multinational alliances and international law. The transition of Russia and China to capitalist states has eliminated any need for the order as a counterweight to Communism. Instead through such  organizations as the United Nations, where the majority vote means global mob rule, the blade of the order is turning against the alliance of nations that founded it.

The obsession with creating a Palestinian Arab state, in a region already chock full of Sunni Arab states, is not about peace with Israel. It's about pacifying restive Muslim populations around the world and inside Europe. The countries that are most bent on breaking up Israel, have sizable Muslim minorities, business interests in the Middle East and concerns about terrorism.

The British Empire went full circle from endorsing a Jewish state, to fighting against it tooth and nail, even using its own commanders as mercenaries on the Arab side. The reasoning was the same then as it is now. Maintaining British influence in the region would be easier without having a Jewish state there to upset the Dar Al Islam.

Every Western foreign policy apparatus is dominated by the same view, that to consolidate and stabilize the Middle East, the 'one problem country' in the region must go. Or at least be diminished. Kissinger demanded that Israel lose a war to the Arabs in order to boost their self-esteem. Then Carter demanded that Israel give up the land in exchange for a treaty that the current Egyptian government has torn up. Since then presidents have pushed Israel to create a Palestinian Muslim state. Now that it has been all but created, more concessions are being demanded. And when the negotiations inevitably fail-- Israel is held to blame.

Very little of this has to do with 'peace' in the popular understanding. There are global conflicts going on all the time. Most of them far bloodier than anything in Gaza or the West Bank. These conflicts rarely make it to the front pages of newspapers or lead to boycotts and protests. Compared to the actions of Indonesia or Turkey-- nothing that goes on in Israel should get this level of attention. That it does is really not about Israel. It's about the Muslim world.

The global hegemony needs regional stability, even as it has less ability to enforce it. Armed assaults to remove governments in Iraq and Libya have stretched the resources of the US and the EU. And such nation building projects have been shown to be futile. The current push for digital democracy is even more hopeless, rewarding insurgent factions at the expense of established governments, without breaking the cycle of violence and tyranny in any way.

The US and the EU can't force the Muslim world to behave itself. Instead they pursue stability the mirage of regional stability by doing their bidding. Cracking the whip over Israel is cheap. All it requires is political and economic pressure on a single country. Which is a lot easier than applying pressure to the 57 Muslim states of the OIC to rein in terrorism and give their people a better life. Given a choice between untying the Islamic knot or chopping up Israel, the choice is simple enough.

The same worldview that demands Israel partition itself, also calls for a Ground Zero Mosque, enforced Ramadan fasting for non-Muslims and a thousand other 'accommodations' all in the name of peace. Sooner or later we will ban burning the Koran, not because there's any Constitutional basis, but because we're still trying to keep all the pieces of a sprawling angry world together. And individual freedoms and alliances don't matter in the face of that urgent chaos.

While Netanyahu came to Washington D.C. to remind Americans of friendship-- that friendship is mostly unwanted here except around election time. American and European leaders have been focused on reaching out to the Muslim world and convincing them that we are their friends. And that they should be our friends. This pathetic show of appeasement is an attempt to build links and avoid the inevitable conflict with an ascendant Islam. Even though such a Clash of Civilizations remains unavoidable.

The US and EU, without their old military and economic might at their disposal, are falling back on the goodwill of the Muslim world. Pity the Muslim world doesn't have much of that. The entire farce of Pakistani cooperation in the War on Terror fell apart in a single day. It might just as easily have been Saudi cooperation or that of half a dozen other Muslim states. None of them are committed to fighting terrorism beyond the point where it threatens them.

While the Western multinational alliance dreams of a stable world order, the Muslim world knows that stability is an illusion. That violence is constantly present and has to be directed and channeled. The paradoxical relationship between Muslim governments and Muslim terrorists is defined by this need of regimes to channel the violence away from themselves. It's a Push-Pull relationship as governments offer limited support for the terrorists to carry on their war somewhere else, while the terrorists pull back home to overthrow the government. The closest Muslim countries can come to stability is to maintain a balance of terror between all the internal factions. And that balance can only be met through ruthless repression or international terrorism.

The view of Israel as a disruptive force in the region has always been wrong. It has actually helped stabilize its enemies by giving them an outlet for their violence. This is a role that Jews have played for thousands of years as regional minorities. Whipping boys in popular uprisings and political instability. That is the role that Israel now plays for both the Muslim world and the West. But the whipping boy is a proxy for abuse. Beating him is a way to avoid dealing with the real problem. The Muslim world remains incapable of dealing with its problems. And Western political elites continue to live in denial about their own dream of a united world order.

But the foreign policy model of the US and the EU focuses on creating stability by removing destabilizing forces. But their attempts to damage Israel and remove Arab dictators actually bleeds away whatever regional stability existed, and replaces it with chaos. That is an apt description of the aftereffects of such experiments in Cairo, Baghdad or the Palestinian Authority. The US and EU cannot stabilize the Muslim world. They can only destabilize it further.

American politicians may talk the pro-Israel talk when running for office, but once they get elected, they find themselves walking in the pro-Islamic direction of a foreign policy establishment which blames Israel for disrupting the prospects for peace, radicalizing Muslim populations and impeding an East-West alliance. But this view is not only false, it's based on an unnecessary need to maintain a global order.

The end of the Cold War means that there is no longer a practical need for this scarecrow empire that the US and EU foreign policy establishments insist on maintaining. If the UN and the IMF and the rest of the tawdry bureaucracy wants to maintain a global order based on greed and mob rule, they're welcome to it. But there is no need for the United States or England or Germany to provide them with the backing to do it. The fiction of international law has unraveled a long time ago. Human rights exist only in countries where they are enforced by local laws, not international ones.

Communism could be checkmated by an international alliance, but no international alliance that includes Muslim countries and their enablers can checkmate Islam. They certainly can't checkmate that boojum known as radical Islam, which is an expression of political and religious factions within the Muslim world that has always been there and will always be there.

The left insists on shattering the old alliances, but they have nothing to replace them with. Their war on Israel is equally misguided. Their post-American order is already rotten through and through. Like Blair's speech to congress, Netanyahu's address is a reminder of a different road that is being abandoned. Alliances based not on global orders, but on friendship and the fellowship of kin cultures. A warmth that is lacking in the hollow charades of the UN and the endless peacekeeping and aid missions to the hopeless. The vision of a global order is already dead. If such an order emerges it will not be based on liberal values or international law, but on Islam.

It's time to take down the scarecrow empires, forget one world governments and international laws, and rebuild the old alliances once again.

Monday, May 23, 2011

How the Left Went Wrong on Islam

What makes the creeping political correctness on Islam so startling is its very newness. It wasn't so long ago that the right and the left both agreed that as a religion and a political movement, it was dangerously backward and violent.

From Winston Churchill, "Mahommedan religion increases, instead of lessening, the fury of intolerance" to Karl Marx, "Islamism proscribes the nation of the Infidels, constituting a state of permanent hostility between the Mussulman and the unbeliever", leading figures on the right and the left held a realistic understanding of Islam. They dismissed it as violent, barbaric, ignorant and dangerous. The right saw Islam as a threat to the Western Christian hegemony. The left viewed it as a reactionary movement of superstitious fanatics. They might praise Arab generals or scientists, but not the creed itself.

Where then did that lost consensus on Islam go? One answer can be found in the Soviet Union.

Unlike Western Europe, the Russian Empire had a large Muslim population. While Western socialists focused on a mostly Christian population, taking over the Russian Empire was nearly impossible without winning the allegiance of its Eastern Muslims. That difference would shape the socialist approach to Islam.

While the Communists disdained Christianity and Judaism as backward superstitions, they took a different approach to Islam. Lenin promised Muslims that their mosques would be protected under the revolution and emphasized an approach of cultural sensitivity that respected Muslim traditions. Female Communist activists donned veils or covered their hair to work with the locals. Most shockingly, while the Communists were dismantling the Orthodox Church and Jewish synagogues-- Sharia courts of Islamic law were being administered under a Soviet Commissariat of Justice.

One of the more notable effects of the alliance was the Communist attempt to find common ground by phrasing their doctrine in Islamic terms. The Communists campaigned against religion as superstition, but this was translated as Khurafat, a campaign to cleanse heretical forms of magic. The difference was substantial and fundamental. While Communists in the rest of the Soviet Union were outlawing religion, Muslim Communists were rooting out heresies under the authority of the revolution. The USSR had become the enforcer of Islam.

The translation of socialist ideas into the Islamic, created the illusion of common ground. Both sides heard what they want to hear. But the Communist and Muslim ideas of revolution were dramatically different. While Moscow was talking about women's equality, the Muslim Communists were filling their unwashed yurts with child wives. By the time Soviet leaders in Moscow realized what was going on, they had a civil war on their hands. The Communists won in the short term, but only at the cost of accepting Muslim practices such as polygamy. And the Muslims may have won the long war.

The awkward fusion of Islam and Communism did not last long, but it had an enduring impact on the left's view of Islam. It transformed Islam in the eyes of many Western socialists into a progressive movement. The temporary legitimacy granted to the Pan-Islamic Jadids and the bulletins trumpeting the progressive nature of the Koran and the brilliance of Mohammed coming out of the motherland of socialism, altered the view of many socialists and taught them to view Muslims as allies. It may have even given some of them the idea that introducing large Muslim populations into Europe would be the key to a successful revolution.

Slogans like, "Long live Soviet power, long live the sharia" echo today among the left. The Soviet approach of viewing Islam as an immature form of socialism colors most reporting on the Muslim Brotherhood. As it did on the Ayatollah Khomeini during the Iranian revolution.

The Fourth Congress of the Communist International's Theses on the Eastern Question treated Islam as part of the "great diversity of national revolutionary movements against imperialism". But diversity didn't mean equality. Diversity in the theses meant backwardness. Islam was Communism for savages. The Koran was Das Kapital for primitive people. "As the national liberation movements grow and mature", the theses said, "the religious-political slogans of pan-Islamism will be replaced by political demands."

Islam was an intermediate stage on the road to Communism. Eventually its religious baggage will fall away and it will become a fully political anti-imperialist movement. These same ideas are widely held on the left today. It is how they can justify allying with the Muslim Brotherhood. Like the Jadids, the Brotherhood is on the left, but doesn't know it yet. Muslims think that Moses and Jesus were Muslims but didn't know it. The left believes that Mohammed was a progressive, but didn't know it.

The Theses distinguished between Muslim ruling classes and all others. "Only among peoples like the nomads and semi-nomads, where the feudal-patriarchal system has not yet disintegrated to the point where the native aristocracy is completely split off from the masses, can representatives of the elite come forward as active leaders in the struggle against imperialist oppression (Mesopotamia, Morocco, Mongolia)". Two of the three listed examples were Muslim. This convoluted justification allowed them to include Muslim leaders and maintain tribal and Islamic rule as integrated with the masses. An unalloyed justification for maintaining the mini-caliphates that the Pan-Islamists wanted.

While the Communists of the twenties still distinguished between their creed as the higher and Islam as the lower, these distinctions have been eroded among the postmodern left to the point of non-existence. All revolutionary movements are treated as equal so long as they are aimed at Western imperialism. The Islamists are just part of that "great diversity". Their approach to social justice is an aspect of their culture. This perversity underpins the red-green alliance.

In 1920, the People's Congress of the Baku called for a "holy war", a "ghazavat" against Britain. "The Peoples of the East, united with the revolutionary proletariat of the West under the banner of the Communist International... summon our peoples to a holy war."

Invoking both "the green banner of the Prophet" and "the red banner of the Communist International", this "first real holy war" with the sanction of the Ulemas, Islamic clerics, the red-green alliance was built on a fault line. It was a fault line that Marx could have told them about, had they been willing to listen.

Karl Marx had observed that, "The Koran and the Mussulman (Muslim) legislation emanating from it reduce the geography and ethnography of the various peoples to the simple and convenient distinction of two nations and of two countries; those of the Faithful and of the Infidels" And added, "The Infidel is  the enemy."

The Communists, like their modern counterparts, had not understood this simple and convenient distinction. They thought that they could blend the red and green banners together. That Muslim armies would fight holy wars for them and that Soviet secularism would eventually replace Islamism. Their failure to understand what Islam is, to think that they could ally and stand on the same side as the armies of the Faithful, that they could call for a Holy War against "against imperialist Britain" and have it "burn with unquenchable fire" and yet not get burned themselves, has been repeated not only by the left, but by America and Europe.

The Soviet Union had tried to turn Muslim identity into a Communist identity. And that effort failed badly. The Communists remained infidels. Now we are trying to turn Muslim identity into a Democratic identity, and failing just as miserably. Muslim identity will not broaden to include us. Just as it did not broaden to include the Communists. Our efforts to secularize Muslim identity into anything broader will never reach beyond a small number of people who agree with us.

Islam is not a developing identity, but a divisive identity. An identity that defines itself in its contrast with the infidel. And it needs the infidel to provide that contrast.  "The corsair ships of the Berber States", Marx wrote, "were the holy fleet of Islam". Not because of any specific religious function the corsairs were performing, but through the mere fact that they were fighting infidels alone. That contrast is the essence of Islam. Only by maintaining distinctions between himself and the infidel-- can the Muslim know who he is.

Bertrand Russell identified political fanaticism as the common identity of both Muslims and Communists, writing that, "Mohammedanism and Bolshevism are practical, social, unspiritual, concerned to win the empire of this world." The obsession with winning "the empire of the world" has led the left into an alliance with the Islamists. The mutual irrationality of both sides, movements both marked by the inability to take stock of their own failures, has pushed them forward with brazen dreams of empire. The only thing they agree on is their opposition to the current system. But their new Ghazadat will not end in a better world, but in misery and failure for all.