Archives for category: Diplomacy

President Donald Trump defended Western civilization while in Poland, mentioning “symphonies” as exemplary achievements.

“We write symphonies, we pursue innovation,” he said.

Now, taking glory from others’ achievements ain’t my bag, but defending Western civilization against its detractors and enemies is surely worthwhile. A great tradition of liberty did not pop out elsewhere, even if many good people and great things and ideas did. Many of us here in the West are still caught between Hebraism and Hellenism, and live in an ongoing dialogue between Jerusalem and Athens. And we have no reason to be ashamed of this.

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And we have no reason to take shame in symphonies — which not coincidentally remain my favorite form of art, bar none.

But . . . I just heard an African-American man on CNN admitting to being “triggered” by this mention of the symphonic tradition in particular, thought it was evidence of “white nationalism.”

This is just so stupid. I commend to the attention of the under-educated ideologues at CNN the symphonies by American composer William Grant Still (pictured in caricature) — especially his Fourth, “Autochthonous,” and Fifth, “Western Hemisphere.” The symphonies are very good, if not great; they consciously build upon a long civilized tradition of fine art music; they reference in their titles the very idea of growing new out of the old; and the composer was the first African-American to have a symphony performed in America.

Blacks are not defined by jazz, or soul, or rap/hip-hop. Maybe it is time to give up your low-brow, anti-white fixations. You do not make anyone look (or sound) good.

Thankfully, you do not speak for anyone but yourselves, and perhaps the pathetic racists you cater to.

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A late, lamented neighbor of mine once defined “just war” as “mere war.” That was a quip.

A rather cynical one.

When I read just war theory, as a teenager, the most important point, I determined (in this rarefied and rarely consulted domain of thought), was this:

In contemplating intervention into a conflict with which one’s own country is not directly involved, it is not enough merely to determine which side is more nearly in the right. One must also have good reason to believe that, by intervening, one’s State could win and establish a stable and  just peace.

Even if you know who is in the wrong, if there is no likely way of “winning,” or if one’s intervention is not likely efficacious to establish a peace, entering into the conflict is immoral.

A recent study of just war theory and history by Laurie Calhoun suggests that most uses of the tradition, especially in recent times, have been to cover for gross, murderous immorality. Not to limit warfare.

As near as I can make out, this is largely because the tradition is almost never treated seriously or rigorously in the manner indicated above.

It is telling that I have not once heard, in recent public discussion over the Syrian intervention, one mention of just war theory.

twv



In the 1970s, unions were out of control in Great Britain.
Fun fact: some of the leaders of some of the unions were paid by Moscow to monkeywrench the system.

So, British unions served as tools of the Communists. This is not an unfounded accusation. This is a fact gleaned from evidence in the Soviet archives, to which scholars were granted access in the early 1990s (since rescinded).

Now, compare and contrast:

Today, Hillary Clinton and her team charge Julian Assange and WikiLeaks with being subsidized by Putin’s Russia. The batches of Clinton campaign emails, as indexed and published by WikiLeaks, are castigated by the Clintonistas as attempts by Russia to influence the American election in favor of Donald Trump.

Shades of the Cold War!

img_0742Note, the Clinton camp is not denying their leaked emails’ veracity. Instead, they are merely trying to poison the well of respectsbility, using shame to dissuade anyone from bringing up inconvenient truths about Mrs. Clinton’s many, uh, shenanigans.

The anti-WikiLeaks/Russian subversion charge would be easier to accept, and its defendants more excoriable, had we not learned from these very same emails that the Clinton team itself had encouraged, during the primary period, friendly media outlets to promote Trump over his GOP competitors. Why? For the secret purpose of scuttling the candidacies of Republicans they thought harder to beat, primarily Rand Paul.

The Clinton team is attempting to blame Russia for doing what it itself did! And on flimsier evidence than has been so far supplied.

trumpinghillaryIt is possible, in politics, to be too clever for one’s own good.

The British paid agents of the Kremlin were traitors, back in the 1970s, sure. And what Maggie Thatcher did to them was necessary for the survival of the country.

But Julian Assange? Is he an enemy of the U. S.?

No more than Hillary herself, who appears to be a traitor . . . well, at the very least to her own cause, her own campaign.

She thought she could bleed trump by pushing Donald Trump, and take the last tricks of the campaign to win the election handily. Now, it appears, she may not succeed. It is still possible for Trump to win (though if you watch CNN, that seems impossible), even if oddsmakers put Hillary out ahead. Unless Trump’s reputation completely implodes in these last weeks, whatever the Electoral College meld tallies out to be, it will be a close election.

And if Hillary does indeed fail, she will have no one but herself to blame.

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See: http://tomwoods.com/podcast/ep-756-was-margaret-thatcher-a-libertarian-hero/ and http://rare.us/story/leaked-email-shows-how-much-hillary-clintons-campaign-feared-rand-paul/. Visual meme, at top, courtesy of Paul Jacob at ThisIsCommonSense.com.

The classical liberal view of the ideal state — especially in its “nightwatchman state” version — is that of an umpire. Definitely not “the boss.”

But this idea has long been honored mainly in the breach.

Courtesy of Cato, I learn of the work of historian Elizabeth Cobbs:

How has the view of the United States as an “umpire” served U.S. foreign policy? Elizabeth Cobbs is author of American Umpire.

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Contra this interesting scholar, I would say that our federal government ceased being primarily an umpire, domestically, long ago.

She is probably right that the U.S. characterizes itself as an umpire in its foreign policy aspect. But, if umpire it be, it is an amazingly crazed and brutal one, unpredictable other than in its strong tendency to bomb countries going through political troubles.

Hardly “umpirial”! The U. S. would be kicked out of any respectable referees’ union.

And the only way the U. S. has maintained a putative umpire status abroad has been to reduce that function at home. The umpire-like qualities of limited, constitutional government — of a republic — have long been deprecated by dirigiste ideology and progressive/conservative politics. In its place, instead of a rule of law, we have developed a regulatory state dominated by bureaucracies in the executive branch and plutocracy in the elected sphere.

America, an empire at home; a crazed, wannabe umpire abroad.

Call me an anti-umpirialist, then!

The better to support a more limited, referee status at home. War, after all, is not the health of the nightwatchman state.

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Leading up to and immediately following Britain’s “Brexit” vote, I was scribbling incessantly on social media, trying to explain my position. But before I collect those thoughts for this blog — if I ever do — here are two columns by other writers (Paul Jacob & Dan Sanchez) whose appraisals are up my alley.


Hysteria, Assassination, and Big Government

The biggest political story of the month? Brexit.

The people of Great Britain will vote, this week, whether to remain in, or exit, the European Union. (Britain+exit=“Brexit,” you see.)

Establishment forces in Britain have engaged in hysterical, hyperbolic overkill, warning of grave disaster were Britain to leave the union. America’s President Barack Obama contributed to this, recently, when he warned that an independent Britain might find itself placed “at the back of the queue” in trade talks.

Tragically, things got more troubling last week when anti-Brexit, pro-union campaigner Jo Cox, a Member of Parliament and prominent Labour Party activist, was brutally slain last week in front of her local library. The man had just left a mental health facility, after requesting help.

At first, major media reported that the killer had shouted “Britain First,” an old patriotic motto as well as the name of a pro-Brexit political party, while shooting and stabbing her. Of the several eyewitnesses to have allegedly testified to this murderous shout, only one is sticking to the story . . . a member of the British Nationalist Party, which is antagonistic to Britain First. Other eyewitnesses deny the story.

Next, both sides promised to cease campaigning, out of good taste. Still, polls fluctuated, while remaining close.

Much of the furor has risen over immigration policy, especially fears about EU laxity towards Muslim refugees.Paul Jacob

But the bedrock issue is Big Government. The EU is not effectively controlled by citizens; indeed, membership representation is mostly show, a mockery of republican government.

That is why, if I were British, I’d vote to Brexit.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.


Printable PDF This commentary first appeared on Paul Jacob’s Common Sense site on June 21st. Reprinted with permission.

 


Brexit Wins: Why That’s Great News for Europe, Too

British voters have elected to leave the European Union in a national referendum. The UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage declared Friday Britain’s “independence day.” That is quite a statement given British history. A little over two and a quarter centuries ago, America had its own first Independence Day, and the British Empire was the super-state from which Americans declared independence.

Independence is not isolation.

History has come full circle; in a sense, today we are seeing the American Revolution in reverse. In many ways, the European Union is a lever of US global hegemony. By seceding from the EU in spite of threats from Washington, Britain is declaring partial independence from America.

It must be noted that independence is not isolation. This is the key distinction that is intentionally blurred by the “Better Together” rhetoric of the “Remain” camp. When they scaremonger about “leaving Europe,” it conjures images of Britain abandoning Western civilization. But “the West,” as in the US-led alliance of neo-colonial powers, is not the same thing as Western civilization. And the European Union is not the same thing as Europe. Exiting a mega-state in defiance of an imperium is not withdrawing from civilization. In fact, such an exit is propitious for civilization.

Small Is Beautiful

Political independence fosters economic interdependence.

Advocates of international unions and super-states claim that centralization promotes trade and peace: that customs unions break down trade barriers and international government prevents war. In reality, super-states encourage both protectionism and warfare. The bigger the trade bloc, the more it can cope with the economic isolation that comes with trade warfare. And the bigger the military bloc, the easier it is for bellicose countries to externalize the costs of their belligerence by dragging the rest of the bloc into its fights.

A small political unit cannot afford economic isolationism; it simply doesn’t have the domestic resources necessary. So for all of UKIP’s isolationist rhetoric, the practical result of UK independence from the European economic policy bloc would likely be freer trade and cross-border labor mobility (immigration). Political independence fosters economic interdependence. And economic interdependence increases the opportunity costs of war and the benefits of peace.

The Power of Exit

Super-states also facilitate international policy “harmonization.” What this means is that, within the super-state, the citizen has no escape from onerous laws, like the regulations that unceasingly pour out of the EU bureaucracy. Dan Sanchez

But with political decentralization, subjects can “vote with their feet” for less burdensome regimes. Under this threat of “exit,” governments are incentivized to liberalize in order to compete for taxpayer feet. Today’s referendum was a victory both for Brexit and the power of exit. That’s good news for European liberty.

During its Industrial Revolution, Britain was a beacon of domestic liberty and economic progress that stimulated liberal reform on the European continent. An independent Britain in the 21st century can play that role again. In doing so, Britain would help Europe outside the EU far more than it ever could on the inside. Brexit may be a death knell for the European Union, yet ultimately a saving grace for the European people.

Dan Sanchez

Dan Sanchez is the Digital Content Manager at FEE, developing educational and inspiring content for FEE.org, including articles and courses. His articles are collected at DanSanchez.me.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.


Here are two samples from my many squibs on social media:

 

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VEXIT

img_2351Barack Obama was in Cuba when the Brussels attacks occurred. He made his usual “solidarity” speech for a paragraph . . . and then quickly went back to ballyhooing his new Cuba policy. While European leaders scrambled to appear statesmanlike for more than a few ticks on a clock, to reassure their people at length, and to marshal forces to track down the murderous Jihadists, Obama was laughing it up at a baseball game.

With Communist leaders.

This, as the folks at Fox News pointed out relentlessly, was bad “optics”; it didn’t look “leaderly.”

For some reason, the talking heads at MSNBC did not belabor the point in the same manner as the Fox folks.

I was immediately reminded of a similar moment, on 9/11/2001 when George W. Bush was informed that the World Trade Center had taken two hits. He was being recorded, for he was doing that most presidential of things, reading to children.

About a goat.

The look on his face? As he went back to reading the story?

Well, anyone who has seen Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 911 knows that look. Moore made much of it.

Past American leadership has been so witless on the Mideast that I don’t really know what Obama should be doing to fight Islamic terrorism, at this point. I am pretty sure he is at a loss.*

But we might want to give him some time to process the news.

Everybody has their own initial reactions. George Bush sure didn’t look presidential on 9/11.

Hint for all participants: maybe we should not expect immediate genius responses to crises from our leaders; and maybe they shouldn’t be on camera all the time, encouraging the demand for same.

* Watching Fox and MSNBC, I am even more sure that neither his supporters nor his critics have a clue. Their failure to realize how fundamental hegemonic violence is to Islam, or that their previous, ill-thought-out efforts have merely stirred the nest. A concerted attack on ISIS, done in the usual witless fashion, will almost certainly turn a hornet problem into a Hydra problem.

JohnKerrySKETCH

Everybody has said poorly thought-out, foolish things. We’ve all committed boners. But some are harder to walk away from than others, and some folks can say things that others had better not.

“I hate you,” for example, might be easy for a child to recover from, but not so easy for a spouse or a parent.

Better example? Secretary of State John Kerry on the recent Paris massacres. But let Paul Jacob explain — for it is his thesis about how to understand Kerry that is at once most charitable and makes the most sense:

Deep Thinker Kerry

Comparing Friday’s horrific shootings by Islamist terrorists to the events of last January, one-time presidential candidate John Kerry noted that there is “something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo. . . . There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of — not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, ‘OK, they’re really angry because of this and that.’ This Friday was absolutely indiscriminate. It wasn’t to aggrieve [sic] one particular sense of wrong. It was to terrorize people. It was to attack everything that we do stand for.”

Yes, Kerry pulled himself out of the fire pretty fast, but, even if he earnestly believes that (as Reason characterized it) “killing cartoonists is less appalling than killing concertgoers,” this was a thought better left unexpressed.

What could Kerry have been thinking?

Here’s a guess: John Kerry sees himself as a reasonable man. Reasonable men try to understand things. And in the course of trying to understand things, a reasonable man will likely explore all sorts of ideas, make uncomfortable comparisons, follow challenging arguments wherever they lead.

But Mr. Kerry does have a job: Secretary of State. This makes him a key mouthpiece for the United States of America . . . to the world, and about world events.

A Secretary of State should know that standing up for rights is his public duty. It is not spinning theories about motivation that could ominously pass as justification for slaughtering some folks but not others.

His statement may betray him mid-thought, but hey: “everything we stand for” includes free speech and the press.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

I quote Paul Jacob because (a) he wants to have people send around his “Common Sense” squibs, and (b) it fits nicely with the theme I’ve been running with these last few days, on discriminate versus indiscriminate thoughts and ideologies.

It should be hard for Kerry to “walk away from” this faux pas. But who knows? Americans forgive all sorts of sins and misstatements — if made by members of their own party.