Sinai Crash Caused by “External Influences”


_86435749_86435748The Russian airline Kogalymavia has blamed “external influences” for Saturday’s Sinai plane crash which killed 224 people, reports the BBC:

A senior airline official said: “The only reasonable explanation is that it was [due to] external influence.” …

At a news conference in Moscow, the deputy director of the airline, which was later renamed Metrojet, ruled out a technical fault and pilot error.

Turkey Votes


2015-09-08t200504z_1485595093_gf10000197992_rtrmadp_3_mideast-crisis-turkey-pkk.jpg_1718483346According to initial results, a huge number of voters changed their minds at the last minute and decided to vote for the AKP, despite what they said to pollsters. Either this is a huge upset, a sign of fraud, or the early results are way off. With 50 percent counted, the projection is that the AKP will have 331 seats in parliament — enough for single party rule, and to effect constitutional reforms by taking them to a referendum.

The results so far may be skewed because the earliest results are from the east, where the AKP is stronger. CHP and MHP are stronger in the West.

It’s still too early for post-mortems or to say what this means. It will be a long night for those with an interest in Turkey. But right now, it looks like this:

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review cheer Marco Rubio for defending his description of Hillary Clinton as lying about Benghazi and eviscerating Charlie Rose’s efforts to defend her.  They’re also worried that Pres. Obama is still not serious about wiping out ISIS with his very limited deployment of special forces to Syria.  And they react to the women of “The View” referring to Carly Fiorina’s smile as “demented” and a “Halloween mask.”

The Hearings that Were More Important than Benghazi


Writing in The American Interest, Eliot A. Cohen notes to his chagrin that Hillary Clinton’s appearance before the committee investigating Benghazi eclipsed everything else in the news that day. This is unfortunate, he notes, because on the same day, he took part in another hearing, before the Senate Armed Services Committee, on Capital Hill.

“Vanity aside,” he remarks, “I wish that my hearing had received a bit more attention.” My vanity isn’t at issue here, but I too wish that his hearing had received more attention.

Honor Is in Our National Interest


A country that acts solely out of goodness and duty is bound to be played; the world is simply too nasty, too mean a place for the well-intended naive, and even a good country will often have to make ugly decisions that are hard to sleep on. However, this shouldn’t be taken to mean that acting in our self-interest is necessarily in opposition to good morals. More often than not, the smart thing to do overlaps with the right thing to do.

During the occupation of Iraq, many Iraqis decided to throw their lot in with the American-led coalition and the new Iraqi government. Whatever, their reasons, it was a risky and — in some cases — very brave decision to make. Though many paid for it with their lives during the insurgencies that rocked the country before its precarious stabilization in 2008, it seemed to have been the right one to make. But in the provinces that have fallen to the Islamic State since our decision to leave, it’s again become sentence to torture and death:

Reality Check: ISIS Could Win


is-flagForeign policy experts have repeated the same sentence over and over: “There is no military solution in Syria.” Being professionally trained to automatically question and contradict any opinion held by a very large majority, I have trouble buying this.

Consider, for example, that nearly everyone in 1980 thought the Soviet Union was unstoppable and that nearly everyone in late 1999 agreed that technology stocks were a fabulous investment; we all know what happened in both of those cases. Similarly, if nearly everyone agrees that there is no military solution in Syria, I’m inclined to believe one exists. Let us briefly examine each scenario, unattractive as they may be.

The Assad/Hezbollah/Iran/Russia/Shia Axis Wins

It’s no secret that Russia is and has always been a propaganda state. Their efforts to control information and influence public opinion at home and abroad are are aggressive and extensive. But Putin’s Russia has a greater goal: to control the internet–the greatest tool in bringing about a total surveillance state.

But there’s another side to Big Comrade. It’s a legion of brilliant programmers and hackers who serve as a counterbalance to Putin’s goal of totalitarianism. It’s an epic struggle waged not with guns and bombs, but with mouse clicks and websites, disinformation, misinformation and leaks.

What We Owe


24wheeler-web-superJumboIf you haven’t already, take a few minutes to read The New York Times’ obituary for Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler, the Delta Force operator killed on Thursday during a raid on an ISIS prison. Seriously, go read it. Just be warned that it may break your heart a little. To say that Wheeler appears to have been an exemplar of American values and masculinity is to rather miss the mark.

There is probably no more manipulative question than to ask whether a war is worth the life of a given soldier. It’s a stupid way to judge things. It asks you to judge a macro event by a micro standard in a way that grossly stacks the deck in favor of the latter. It’s also usually dishonest in that it denies our soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen their agency. Surely, MSG Wheeler, a veteran of nearly 20 years, thought his fighting was worth the risk, and there are pesh merga forces and ISF prisoners alive — as well as ISIS fighters dead — in no small part because of his actions. Moreover, it’s abundantly clear that the Army is a huge part of what made Wheeler such a great guy.

But it is, regardless, infuriating to see heroism like this spent on a conflict so ill-defined and mismanaged as the current one against the Islamic State. The president seems bored by — and deeply resentful of — the matter and his greatest desire seems for it to go away. For its part, Congress cannot be bothered to explicitly vote their support for the mission … or even define it. And lest the rest of us get too self-satisfied, these are our representatives and our president, all of whom were democratically elected and could be unelected if we wanted. As it is, America seems content to throw some bombs, waste some money, and provide some occasional air support and transportation. It’s very nearly the worst sort of compromise: We accomplish little, feel bad about it, and get to look weak in the process.

Go On, Ivan: Cut the Cables


Headlining in The New York Times today is the revelation that Russian submarines and spy ships are freaking out our defense officials by nosing about the underseas cables that carry the entire information age:

Russian submarines and spy ships are aggressively operating near the vital undersea cables that carry almost all global Internet communications, raising concerns among some American military and intelligence officials that the Russians might be planning to attack those lines in times of tension or conflict. …

An Autarky Thought Experiment


In response to my post about refugee bonds, the Great Ghost of Gödel left this comment obiter dicta:

Not without trepidation or regret have I come around to the Fortress America position, but here I am. Bring all of our troops stationed overseas home. Defend our borders without mercy. If the rest of the world is hell bent for leather on destroying itself, whether rapidly with open war or slowly with insane economics and/or immigration policy, so what? We’re perfectly capable of being self-sufficient as a nation, and it never was a good idea to be the world’s police. …

What a week it’s been in the political world. Hillary Clinton was back on the Hill again testifying about Benghazi. U.S. troops engaged in the Middle East. Assad visited Putin in Moscow. Putin’s troops continued their assault on ISIS. A wave of terror and retaliation once again grips Israel. Joe Biden dropped out of the race for the American presidency. And there was much more.

To help us make sense of all of this we turned to Art Cyr of Carthage College, Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post, Daniel Halper of the Weekly Standard, and Michael Barone of the Washington Examiner. What a week it was, and what happened will surely lead to more reasons for ongoing discussion.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review applaud the Republicans on the Benghazi committee for revealing key facts, including that Hillary knew right away that the video had nothing to do with the attack.  They also scold some GOP members for using the hearing as a soapbox.  And they slam Democrats for doing nothing but ripping Republicans and sucking up to Hillary.

Around the World in Three Minutes


hell-in-a-handbasket-the-decline-of-taboos-SGood morning, ladies and gentlemen of Ricochet! I thought I’d take you on a whirlwind tour of the international news to get your day off to an invigorating start.

Now that Russia’s rearranged the chessboard in Middle East, Russia’s propaganda organs have gone into hyperdrive. All of its international state media organs, from Russia Today and TASS to Sputnik, are screaming so shrilly about the West’s weakness and duplicity that I fear the Internet here in Europe’s going to shatter. What’s particularly galling is their ability to find so many Americans who are so eager to shill for them. Paul Craig Roberts (who by the way served in the Reagan Administration) is cheerfully calling for Americans to be wiped out before they destroy the world:

As readers know, I have emphasized that the declared neoconservative intention of achieving global hegemony has resurrected the threat of nuclear armageddon as Russia and China are most definitely not going to submit, as every European country, the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Columbia, and Japan have submitted,to being Washington’s vassals.

Benghazi Committee Wrap-up


This is a preview from Friday morning’s The Daily Shot newsletter. Subscribe here.

TDS-Logo-BYesterday, Hillary Clinton testified before the House Select Committee on Benghazi. She began around 10 AM and testified for more than 11 hours. (Luckily for Clinton, she had prepared ahead of time by drinking the blood of a thousand innocents.) As the hearing began, Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy let everybody know that Clinton had already been sworn in behind closed doors (meaning that there would be no memorable low-angle photos of Clinton with her hand raised) and also that if anybody needed one, “we can take a break for any reason or no reason. If you or anyone alerts me, we can take a break for any reason or for no reason.”

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Joel Gehrke of National Review react to Vice President Joe Biden’s decision not to run for president in 2016 and enjoy the shots he fired at Hillary Clinton as he declined to join the campaign.  They also shudder as Wikileaks hacks into CIA Director John Brennan’s AOL account and publishes his personal information.  And they discuss the latest twists and turns in the race for Speaker of the House that seem to be leading to the election of Paul Ryan.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Joel Gehrke of National Review discuss Paul Ryan’s demands before running for speaker.  They groan as President Obama vows to veto legislation designed to prevent defaulting on debt payments if the debt ceiling is not extended.  And they slam the media for bending over backwards to distort the truth behind the latest Middle East violence.

Breaking: Elections Have Consequences


That didn’t take long:

A day after defeating Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Trudeau told President Obama by phone that he would make good on a campaign promise to withdraw Canada’s jets from the U.S.-led bombing campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Canada has committed a half-dozen fighter planes, a fraction of the American air power in the fight.

Member Post


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Red Surge! A Canada Election Roundup


CanadaI’m not much of an expert on our frozen neighbor to the north, but I figured someone around here best become an Instant Canada Expert, since none of Ricochet’s Canadians have stepped up to the plate. (What are you guys doing over there in North America, sleeping?) So here’s a round up of what the pundits are saying to tide you over until our in-house experts wake up and tell us what really happened.

Let’s start with this brisk introduction to Canada’s elections from John Oliver:

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review enjoy watching Democratic party leaders publicly feud.  They also groan as China breaks its word and keeps up its hacking efforts against U.S. firms.  And we react to Hillary Clinton’s bizarre laughing fit in reaction to CNN’s Jake Tapper mentioning her emails.