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Persuasion used to matter in politics. A good politician was someone with the inclination — and the skill — to convince people who weren’t among his supporters to endorse his preferred policy or legislation.
There are many ways to accomplish this. Lyndon Johnson operated at the retail level, so to speak. Johnson was a master at twisting arms in the Senate, and cajoling members on both sides of the aisle into forming a coalition to pass whatever legislation he wanted. In contrast, Ronald Reagan worked wholesale. He had a genius for convincing millions of voters he was right and — through them — convincing his political opponents that supporting the president’s policies was the best way to keep their jobs.
Obama’s half-hearted decision to take on ISIS has confused everyone. Even as the President sends the U.S. military into harm’s way, he hasn’t articulated a clear strategy, nor even defined the action. Some days it’s called a counter-terrorism effort, other days a war, while its purpose meanders between degrading ISIS, destroying ISIS, or following ISIS to the gates of hell.
As Islamists continue to taunt America, ersatz allies are understandably slow to side with a dithering leader. Despite our excellent armed forces, observers wonder if any military action can be successful with a leader so reticent to lead.
Do Christians in the Middle East — specifically in Syria and the surrounding countries — deserve our contempt or our sympathy?
According to Ted Cruz and Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post, “contempt” about sums it up. Levantine Christians have often allied themselves with the likes of the Assads and the Husseins, and oppose Israel, often with flourishes that would quicken the hearts of the worst kind of Anti-semites. In short, they support bad actors and oppose our friends.
We now have on our hands Barack Obama’s War, for our latest Middle Eastern war belongs entirely to him. And someone — let it be me! — should alert Sen. Rand Paul to this teachable moment, for Obama’s War (which Rand Paul supports) was brought on by the very policy of non-intervention that he, his father, and the Cato Institute all championed. As Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has testified in word and deed, there is essentially no difference on foreign affairs between left-wing Democratics and arch-libertarians who sometimes vote Republican.
This war might have been avoided. Had Obama taken the trouble to arrange for a few thousand American soldiers to remain in Iraq — as he easily could have — the Iraqi’s coalition government between Shia, Sunni, and Kurd would have held, despite Maliki’s perfidy. That, in turn, would have prevented al-Qaeda’s reemergence in the Sunni-dominated provinces of Iraq. Moreover, ISIS would not be in control of great swathes of Syria had the president followed the advice of his advisors and allies and backed the secular-minded opposition to Bashar al-Assad from the start.
I don’t normally watch presidential addresses. I try to tune out any time a politician is flapping their gums, especially on television. However, if I’m going to write about this kind of thing, I guess I have a responsibility to watch them.
I have a few thoughts, in no particular order:
Last night, President Obama announced that American forces would “will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy,” largely constituting an air campaign in both Iraq and Syria, and in coordination with the Iraqis and other allies.
The purging of former Mozilla Corporation CEO Brendan Eich has taught us that campaign donor-shaming is not only an effective political weapon but a legitimate one. Therefore, should the campaign donors at President Obama’s three fundraisers this weekend be subject to similar donor-shaming for distracting our Commander-in-Chief from working on developing a strategy to confront […]
If you read the New York Times, you may find yourself reading op-ed columns like this: Preview Open
No points for filling the blank correctly.
In a new op-ed published at Project Syndicate, Joschka Fischer, former Foreign Minister of Germany (1998-2005), has a theory on what he calls “the staggering accumulation of crises and conflicts facing the world today – in Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Gaza, and Libya” and it all has to do with America’s decline or, as he sees it, the waning of Pax Americana. While he is not entirely clear whether this decline is self-imposed or brought about by the inevitable march of history, Fischer is extremely clear on one thing: A great deal of it is George Bush’s fault! This certainty is delivered in one sleight of hand sentence with no further explanations.
Three articles, courtesy of the Ricochet crowd on Facebook. What do you think of them? First, Charles Krauthammer on gains already made and on the sadism which overshadows ISIS’ more typical want of total power. Preview Open
President Obama on Wednesday slightly delayed his afternoon tee time to speak about the monstrous beheading of American journalist James Foley by ISIS. It was an underwhelming address from the Leader of the Free World who finds the crown so heavy and bothersome that he puts it down aside the putting green.
In his address, Obama did well in the “sympathy-in-chief” role. I do believe that Obama is horrified and saddened, as all Americans are, about the tragic fate of James Foley. But Obama failed in his actual job — that of a leader who must express genuine and righteous anger about this act of barbarism against all people who cherish liberty.
Obama has displayed more passion and employed sharper rhetoric when talking about Republicans in Congress — who, last I heard, are not in the business of sawing off heads to make their point clear. Maybe we’ll get a better performance from our president if ISIS makes fun of the Obamacare website.
I read the transcript of President Obama’s statement today on the murder of journalist James Foley and a few phrases really jumped out: “Their ideology is bankrupt.” “…a group like ISIL has no place in the 21st century.” “…we share a common security and a common set of values.”
How about just calling the terrorists what they are — evil incarnate — and then pledging to obliterate them? (Because as far as I can tell, the most we’re doing is “containing” the caliphate today.)
After witnessing four nights of incited mayhem on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, I made a personal declaration on Twitter that I would no longer retweet or tweet at members of the media in Ferguson who were sensationalizing the standoff between the police and the rioters. It’s become clear they have inserted themselves into the story and made it more about a political ideology (the man putting us all down) than about the facts of the investigation of Michael Brown’s death.
Every tweet about being shoved, arrested, manhandled or just plain being treated rudely now serves the sole purpose now of goosing ratings and clicks. This is not justice for Michael Brown or Darren Wilson. This is Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers come to life, with the media becoming the story. In lower Manhattan, they stood around and recorded members of Occupy Wall Street clashing with police. In Missouri, they are declaring themselves the Occupiers.
Matt Pearce of the Los Angeles Times admitted as much yesterday, stating on his Twitter feed that the media has become an accelerant. Take a bow.
ISIS boldly parades and brutally executes hog-tied U.S. journalists online and it’s back to the Vineyard for our duly elected commander-in-chief. I’ve long been disappointed by the relentlessly shrinking stature of the United States thanks to our disinterested president. While much scorn can be directed at the current chief executive, the collective American public deserves […]
Breaking news out of the Middle East:
In a video posted online Tuesday, ISIS beheads James Wright Foley, an American freelance journalist who was captured in Syria in 2012. The video says the killing is a warning to the U.S. to end its intervention in Iraq. The video also shows Steven Sotloff, a freelance journalist working for Time, and threatens that he will be next. Sotloff’s kidnapping seems to have been kept secret until now. Foley was working as a photographer in Syria for AFP when he was taken. The year prior he had been kidnapped in Libya.
WELCOME TO HELP IRAQ Throughout the site you’ll find news about what is happening directly in Iraq, direct messages from Bishop Francis Kalabat, ways you can volunteer and donate, and how we are helping the helpless in Iraq. This site was created with the purpose to show our community what is happening in Iraq and what […]
Christian in a pit, begging for their lives as they are having sand and dirt shoveled onto them. Very graphic. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=1525568201000023 Preview Open
The news from Iraq these past few weeks has been horrific. Most of us have either seen, or heard descriptions of, the pictures of the massacres. If for some reason you haven’t, consider yourself lucky: I was prepared for the blood, but it’s the boyish smiles I can’t un-remember.
In addition to the human carnage, there’s also been a consistent pattern of Islamists destroying buildings dating back centuries — even millennia — that they feel to be blasphemous. Late last month, for instance, they destroyed the shrine believed to be the tomb of the Prophet Jonah, as well as a couple of dozen other religious sites and monuments. These aren’t matters of collateral damage or simply the casualties of war: these are intentional operations involving dynamite and sledgehammers.
President Obama’s decision to launch airstrikes against ISIS advances in the Kurdish-occupied region in northern Iraq raises the question of the legality of the President’s use of force.
I do not think that the President has to go back to Congress for legal authority to carry out strikes against ISIS. The President’s Commander-in-Chief authority gives him the power to send the military into combat abroad, and Presidents have done so since the beginning of the Republic, a point I made in one of my first law review articles as a professor. For those interested in a fuller treatment, here is a free download of a journal article summarizing the argument and responding to critics, who believe that the Declare War Clause requires Congress to turn its key before the President.