Friday, September 25, 2009

A Comparison of Switzerland and Iraq

I mentioned Libyan dictator Muammar Khadafi’s speech before the UN General Assembly yesterday in my last post, but another one of his recent speeches was also interesting. Khadafi suggested that the artificial state of Switzerland should be abolished and its territory split between Germany, France and Italy.

The Swiss Confederation is comprised of numerous Cantons that are mostly German, but also French and Italian, and one small Canton that is Romansh. Some of the Cantons are Catholic, some are Protestant. In short, Switzerland represents a compromise on the Alpine frontier between three of Europe’s most powerful states, as well as between Western Europe’s two religions.

The discussion about Switzerland provides the opportunity to compare Iraq. Iraq, it is often stated, is comprised of three rival peoples, Sunnis, Shi’ites and Kurds, who could not reasonably be expected to form a nation-state together. Indeed, as a Senator, Joseph Biden, the Vice President of the United States, once proposed the partition of Iraq into three states comprised of the three groups.

But the theory that Iraq’s peoples cannot unite themselves into a state overlooks the example of Switzerland. Indeed, I submit that Switzerland is an even more improbable state than Iraq.

First of all, the view that Iraq is comprised mostly of three peoples, like Switzerland, is false. Iraq is comprised mostly of only two ethnic peoples: Arabs and Kurds. The reference to Iraq as comprised of “Sunnis, Shi’ites and Kurds” is misleading because it combines two religious groups with an ethnic group (See my post, Media Errors on Afghanistan and Iraq). However, Kurds are Sunni Muslims, too. The Sh’ites, like the rest of the Sunnis, are Arabs. Of course, as in Switzerland, there are other ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq, but Sunni Arabs, Shi’ite Arabs and Kurds are the three main groups.

Iraqis have a sense of national identity as The Cradle of Civilization and the land of Harun al-Rashid, whose age of wealth and culture gave rise to the legend of Sinbad. Kurds have been part of Iraq’s history for a long time. Saddam Hussein even fancied himself another Saladin, the Kurdish Sultan who led the Muslim forces that defeated the Crusaders. The Kurdish rebellion against him, like the Shi’ite rebellion, was more a reaction to his brutality than a reflection of division between Iraq’s peoples. In a sense, the Kurds and Shi’ites were already united – in opposition to Hussein’s regime. At the same time, Kurds and Sunni Arabs are united in opposition to Iranian influence.

Moreover, Islam unites the Kurds to Arabs more than Christianity unites the German, French and Italians in Switzerland. Christianity does not even unite the same ethnic group in Switzerland; Swiss Germans are especially divided between Catholicism and Protestantism. The split between Sunnis and Shi’ites is more one of schism than of heresy, unlike that between Catholics and Protestants. Sunnis and Shi’ites even worship at the same mosque, whereas Catholics and Protestants have separate churches. In fact, Sunnis and Shi’ites often live in proximity and sometimes even intermarry.

The argument advanced by liberals and isolationists opposed to the Liberation of Iraq, or realists skeptical of the success of any post-Hussein Iraqi state, that the Iraqi peoples hated each other represented a misunderstanding. The failure of the al-Qaeda strategy of trying to pit the groups against each other proved the falsehood of the argument. Al-Qaeda’s ruthless massacres only further united the Iraqi people in opposition to this foreign threat.

Iraqis face many challenges in establishing their state, but if an artificial state like Switzerland that is even more ethnically and religiously diverse than Iraq can peacefully exist, then so, too, can Iraq.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Comparison of World Treatment of Libya and Honduras

Libya’s leader, Col. Muammar Qaddafi, seized power in a military coup d’etat in 1969. In addition to being the President of the African National Union, he has been elected President of the United Nations General Assembly.

It was in his latter capacity yesterday, that the Libyan dictator addressed the Assembly in a 90-minute diatribe filled with bizarre statements and conspiracy theories. Libya is one of several members of the UN whose leaders took power through military coups.

In contrast, Roberto Micheletti, the President of Honduras, has been condemned by the U.S. and the rest of the world. Honduras’ membership has been suspended from the Organization of American States and its government denied representation at the UN. Honduras has been subjected to economic sanctions and other measures by the Obama Administration.

The world is isolating and punishing Honduras because of a coup that removed the previous president earlier this year. But the difference between the treatment of the Honduran government and that of Libya and others is even more pronounced when one considers that the ouster of the previous Honduran president was not by a military coup, as in the case of Libya and the others, but as a result of a constitutional process. That process was necessary to defend Honduran liberty against the ousted president’s attempt to extend his term beyond the constitutional limit, as I observe in my post, A Coup for Democracy in Honduras.

Regardless of whether or not an ouster according to a constitutional process and replacement by a civilian member of the ousted leader’s own party, meets the definition of a coup, the process in Honduras was carried out in order to preserve representative democracy, not to establish a dictatorship, as was the result of Qaddafi’s coup in Libya, for example. In this sense, it was much like the forced resignation of U.S. President Richard M. Nixon. Furthermore, the Honduran government has continued to guarantee the rights of its citizens and has scheduled elections already for November, while the Libyan people have neither enjoyed basic human rights nor seen any competitive elections under Qaddafi.

The reason for the different treatment of Honduras and states whose governments seized power in military coups is two-fold. First, the ousted Honduran president’s attempt to extend his term unconstitutionally was part of a rise of authoritarianism around the world, especially in Latin America, led by Venezuelan dictator, Hugo Chavez. These Latin American dictators represent the replacement of pro-American governments with anti-American ones.

A second reason for the singling out of Honduras causes even the U.S. and other Western states also to oppose the ouster of the would-be Honduran dictator and his replacement by a

pro-American government: an emphasis on the process over the result. The Obama Administration and other Western governments regard elections as conferring legitimacy to a government, even if that government becomes undemocratic. This view is inconsistent in such cases when the initial legitimacy conferred to a government by an election is lost by its establish of a dictatorship. It is the overthrow of that government, especially if performed by constitutional means, which restores legitimacy.

As in the case of its recent betrayal of Poland and the Czech Republic (See my post, Obama Betrays Allies, Appeases Russia), the abandonment of the democratic pro-American regime in Honduras suggests the Obama Administration either cannot distinguish between friend or foe, or is not interested in making alliances with pro-Western states, but more interested in better relations to hostile regimes.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Irving Kristol, In Memoriam

Irving Kristol, an American Jewish journalist and writer whose views shifted from left to right and who became known as the “godfather of neoconservatism,” died two days ago at the age of 89.

Kristol served the United States in World War II. Afterward, he became a journalist. Kristol had been a socialist who supported the policies of Franklin Roosevelt. He was, however, a staunch Cold Warrior, who broke with his fellow liberals when they defended Communists during the Red Scare if the 1950s.

Kristol rejected the massive welfare state of the liberal Great Society of President Lyndon Johnson. He was concerned about the concentration of power in government at the expense of the private sector. Kristol was also alarmed by the decline in public virtue associated with the liberal progressives who took over the Democratic party and succeeded in nominating George McGovern for president in 1972.

By this point, Kristol began to become identified as a “neoconservative,” a new conservative, which is a conservative with a historical persuasion different from traditional conservatives. Neoconservatives were comfortable with strong government, but believed in lower taxes and small, temporary budget deficits, at most. Kristol's most famous quotation described a neoconservative “as a liberal who has been mugged by reality.” He observed that the free market worked economically and fostered liberty. Neoconservative support for “supply-side” economics helped transform the Republican party and led to the election of Ronald Reagan as U.S. President in 1980 and the implementation of his tax and spending cuts.

Neoconservatives also supported a strong foreign policy, just as conservatives had during the Cold War. Kristol had been concerned about the defense of Israel, which was more of a priority for conservatives and Republicans than liberals and Democrats.

Together with his wife, historian Gertrude Himmelfarb, Kristol argued for a restoration of public virtues, allying with Christian conservatives in this cause. Journalist William Kristol is one of their two children. The younger Kristol is known as one of the current leaders of neoconservatism who believe in an aggressive Cold War-like resistance to the existential threat of Islamic militancy.

Kristol was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003 by President George W. Bush, the highest American civilian honor.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Obama Betrays Allies, Appeases Russia

United States President Barak Obama has betrayed American NATO allies in order to appease Russia, an enemy of the U.S. Obama has decided not to station missile defense interceptors in NATO members Poland and the Czech Republic, which would have defended all of Europe from nuclear missile attack by Iran.

The missile defense system planned for these two states was intended to defend against a ballistic missile attack by Iran, which is developing nuclear weapons and missiles with ranges long enough to strike at Europe. Obama's excuse for abandoning missile defense for Europe, an initiative of President George W. Bush, is that Iran is not developing its long-range missile technology as rapidly as had been believed, and is focusing instead on medium-range missiles with a range of only 1,000-1,200 miles. However, Iran shares a border with one NATO member, Turkey, while NATO members in southeastern Europe are also within range of Iran’s missiles. Yet the Obama Administration is not proposing to station the missile defense interceptors to within Iranian range.

Although ostensibly intended to defend against Iran, the missile defense shield would also have defended Eastern Europe against an increasingly authoritarian and aggressive Russia. Russia had vehemently opposed the missile shield. Russia continues to try to intimidate the former Soviet republics that were once part of its empire, as well as the Eastern European states that were once led by Soviet puppet governments, into siding with Russia against the United States. Despite the statements of the Obama Administration to the contrary – even if true – Obama’s decision appears to give into Russian demands, which reflects his intention to “restart” Russo-American relations, after a deterioration over the last few years. Thus, Russian intimidation seems to have been rewarded by the U.S.

Obama’s reward of Russia is in addition to NATO’s forgiveness of Russia for having invaded Georgia (See my post, NATO Forgives Russia for Georgian Invasion), an act for which Russia was allowed to get away with unpunished. The invasion of Georgia caused many of the former Soviet republics and satellites in Eastern Europe to turn to the U.S. for protection. Obama’s message in appeasing Russia is that maintaining good relations with its Russian enemy supersedes even the American interest in protecting its allies from Russia or Iran, let alone other former Soviet republics and satellites within Russian and Iranian missile range that have been hoping to join NATO for protection. The Obama Administration has indicated that the U.S. will receive nothing in return from Russia for giving into its demands, such as critical Russian cooperation in preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

The purpose of NATO (The North Atlantic Treaty Organization) is the mutual defense of its members. The reason for the U.S. to defend its NATO allies is not so much for the sake of the allies, but for the defense of the U.S. Defending NATO allies is not, therefore, some kind of foreign aid, but an integral part of U.S. defense. Indeed, there are tens of thousands of American soldiers in stationed in bases in NATO members, some of which are within Iranian missile range. Thus, the decision by the Obama Administration to eliminate the missile interceptors in Eastern Europe is part of its policy of massive cuts in defense spending, despite its contention that government spending stimulates economic growth.

It is also part of a pattern by the Obama Administration of appeasement of enemies and betrayal of allies out of concern for the U.S. image abroad. See also my posts, Clinton, Obama Appease North Korea and A Coup for Democracy in Honduras. But giving into intimidation from enemies and betraying allies only makes the U.S. appear weak, which encourages enemies and disheartens allies, which does not help American image as much as appearing strong and true.

As an optimist, I prefer to see the good. I have observed in numerous posts the positive things the Obama Administration is doing in the War on Terrorism in order to keep the U.S. safe from terrorists or militants, despite its often counterproductive rhetoric and symbolic gestures. However, the Obama Administration’s wartime policy of weakening American defense in the face of threats is indefensible.

We conservatives must continue to support policies that protect the U.S. from threats from Iran and Russia. A missile defense shield must protect the U.S. and its allies and interests and Iran’s nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missile programs must be thwarted. We must oppose the Obama Administration’s liberal policies that betray allies and support enemies, and instead support our allies and oppose our enemies.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Obama to Extend Three Patriot Act Provisions

I continue to observe President Barak Obama's pattern of saying the wrong thing, both as a candidate and as president, but generally doing the right thing in the War on Terrorism, with some notable exceptions. Despite Obama's statements about the need to review certain provisions of the controversial Patriot Act because of privacy concerns, the Obama Administration has announced that it will extend three of the provisions of the Patriot Act that were due to expire soon.

The Patriot Act, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush a few months after the September 11, 2001 Attacks, after being passed by Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support, has been opposed by many liberals and libertarians because of concerns about privacy. However, many of its specific provisions are not controversial; their constitutionality is unquestionable because they merely are applications of law enforcement tools to terrorism cases that have long applied to other types of cases.

One provision allows roving wiretaps of suspects, instead of requiring a warrant for each new telephone (e.g. cell phones or other communication devices) used by the suspect, which was necessitated by advances in technology. Another provision allows surveillance of suspects not connected with foreign states or terrorist organizations, but who operate independently.

The third provision allows the federal government access to business records. Liberals and libertarians complained about this provision especially because it allows the government to have access to library records. They considered government access to library records -- even public library records -- to be an invasion of privacy. These critics implied that this provision would be used to spy on political opponents' reading habits.

They are wrong. Although there is no right to privacy in the Constitution (and no requirement for a warrant in order to conduct a search), there is a protection under the Fourth Amendment against “unreasonable searches and seizures.” A search must be “reasonable,” which means based upon “probable cause” that the suspect has committed a crime.

Indeed, library records can reasonably be searched in other types of cases. For example, a woman was convicted in one of the States of the Union for murdering her husband, in part because of the evidence revealed from a search of her library records, to wit: her fingerprints on the page in the book for the recipe for the poison that was found to have killed her husband. It is reasonable that such evidence also be available for law enforcement in terrorism cases, such as searching library records of suspected terrorists to see if they read books on how to make bombs or for recipes for chemical weapons, etc.

The Obama Administration will review these provisions and make recommendations for greater protections for privacy, which is not unreasonable, but the main news is that Obama once again is vindicating Bush. More importantly, Obama is doing the right thing in matters of security by extending these provisions of the Patriot Act.

Let us encourage Obama to renew the other provisions of the Patriot Act, some of which are also controversial, when they also come due to expire later, as this legislation has been one of the most important tools in the War on Terrorism that has prevented another attack like September 11.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Obama’s Post-September 11 Comments Reveal His Misunderstanding

It was reported today on the eighth anniversary of the September 11 Attacks that shortly after the attacks, Illinois State Senator Barak Obama opined about the need for “understanding the sources of such madness.” He went on to refer to “embittered children” and the seeds of discontent sown in poverty, ignorance and despair. Obama’s comments reveal his misunderstanding of the nature of the threat posed by the Islamist terrorist enemy.

Madness means “insanity,” although its meaning has been stretched to mean “rage,” as if from madness. Terrorists are not insane. Although terrorists might be angry to some degree, including Islamist terrorists like the al-Qaeda terrorists who committed the September 11 Attacks, anger is not their primary motivation. To attribute terrorism – the killing of innocent civilians in order to intimidate a populace into giving into the political demands of the terrorists – to madness or anger is to rationalize it and, thus to justify or minimize it.

Terrorists are motivated by an ideology that holds that killing innocent civilians is morally acceptable in order to advance that ideology. In other words, terrorists have evil beliefs. Terrorists are not insane or angry, but evil. This distinction is critically important to understand in order to prevent terrorism because it is necessary to avoid the temptation reflected by Obama’s comments to believe that terrorism can be stopped simply by greater understanding of its perpetrators by its victims, as if terrorism is the fault of the victims’ failure to understand the terrorists adequately.

Those who share Obama’s view believe that because the United States must have done something to make the terrorists so angry as to commit terrorism against Americans, all that is necessary to prevent terrorism is to stop doing whatever it is that is making the terrorists angry in the first place. Obama and those who agree with his view fail to understand that terrorists exaggerate their anger over the actions of “infidels” like Christians because they hate Christians not for what they do, but for what they believe. In other words, even if Christians totally give into the political demands of the Islamist terrorists, the terrorists would still hate them. In fact, they would regard such a capitulation as a sign of weakness, and thus a sign of a lacking of divine favor, and a confirmation of divine favor for their own actions.

Indeed, the main complaint of Osama bin Laden with the United States was that it had troops stationed in Saudi Arabia, which he regarded as a desecration of the holy sites of Islam. His anger was not so much at what the U.S. did by stationing the troops there per se, but because he hates those who do not believe in Islam – to the point that he regards their mere presence in the same kingdom as the holy sites as a desecration. If the United States were a Muslim state, he would not have regarded their presence in Saudi Arabia as a desecration worthy of his fatwa that Muslims should kill Americans anywhere they can. As I note in my post, The Hussein and bin Laden Myth, bin Laden’s hatred of Americans was such already by the 1980s that he refused American aid in the Afghan war against the Soviets.

Obama further revealed his misunderstanding and ignorance by attributing poverty and ignorance as the sources of terrorism, despite the fact that many terrorist leaders, including some of the September 11 terrorists, were well educated and wealthy. Like a typical liberal, Obama fails to understand that it is terrorists who cause terrorism, not poverty or other social factors, just as liberals fail to understand that it is criminals who cause crime, not poverty or other social factors. In other words, people who accept an evil ideology are the cause of terrorism. It is important to note that there has been abject poverty throughout human history, but there has only been terrorism for the last 40 years – since the development of a militant Islamist ideology that justifies it.

To prevent terrorist attacks, it is necessary to defeat the terrorists, that is to say, to capture or kill them, in order to disrupt their plots or even to deter others from committing terrorism. It is also necessary to avoid the temptation to accede to their demands. There are additional steps that can be helpful, but it is of foremost importance to recognize the evil of terrorism and to confront it. Conservatives must continue to encourage Obama to pursue the right policies to keep us safe from terrorism, despite his misunderstanding of the threat. Let us be grateful to and pray for all those who serve their country in the cause of defeating the terrorists.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Victory in Afghanistan Is Critical

The Obama Administration has been continuing most of the War on Terrorism policies of the Bush Administration, despite its rhetoric. Like the Bush Administration, the Obama Administration deserves credit for continuing to have kept the homeland of the United States from being attacked by terrorists on a scale like the September 11, 2001 Attacks, which the U.S. has now been successful in doing for eight years – a feat most would have thought impossible after September 11.

Alas, as I note in earlier posts, President Barak Obama has departed from some Bush Administration policies, which may increase U.S. vulnerability to attack.

Nevertheless, one critical Bush policy that Obama is following is the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan against the Taliban and other Islamist militants and terrorists, including al-Qaeda. The Taliban must not be allowed to return to power in Afghanistan, which would make that state a safe haven for terrorists like al-Qaeda again. It was al-Qaeda, which was openly harbored by the Taliban regime that controlled all but the northeastern part of Afghanistan, who committed the September 11 Attacks.

After overthrowing the Taliban in 2001, the U.S. has been successful in removing nearly all al-Qaeda from Afghanistan. However, al-Qaeda, like the Taliban, is able to hide across the mountainous Afghan border with Pakistan, whence it continues to operate. Although the Pakistanis have been fighting al-Qaeda and the Taliban, they lack the capabilities of American forces to be as effective. Afghanistan has thus become strategically important as a base against al-Qaeda and its Taliban allies in Pakistan, for it is from Afghanistan that the U.S. launches missiles from unmanned aerial drones against Islamist militant targets. The Obama Administration has continued this Bush Administration strategy vigorously. Preventing such militants from taking over Pakistan is strategically vital because that state possesses nuclear weapons.

Moreover, military victory against Islamists in any fight is the strategy the West must follow, as I note in my post, Obama’s Standard for Justification for War Troubling. As Islam rose in the 7th Century in large part through a series of military victories, it appeared as if God were favoring Muslims, as if to confirm the truth of Islam. It was not until centuries later that Christendom reached a turning point against Muslim conquests. By the 20th Century, it was clear that the West, led by the United States, was ascendant militarily. The spectacular success of the September 11 Attacks made it appear as if Osama bin Laden might be the new leader favored by God whom militant Muslims have been hoping would be powerful enough to unite them in order to defeat the West.

Defeating al-Qaeda in Afghanistan or Iraq or anywhere else, therefore, would prove that bin Laden is not favored by God, which would cause him to lose his appeal to militant Muslims, whereas a withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan because of a few hundred fatalities would suggest that he is. Withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, which has become a popular idea, would lead to the collapse of the Afghan representative republic that is allied with NATO in the War on Terrorism, which would allow the return to power of the Taliban and turn Afghanistan into a safe haven for terrorists like al-Qaeda again. Furthermore, because the Afghan-Pakistani Theater of war is where bin Laden his likely hiding, a defeat by his Taliban allies of the greatest power on Earth would add to his prestige even more than a defeat of the U.S. elsewhere.

Moreover, such a major defeat for the U.S. would also suggest that a guerrilla strategy that focuses more on killing American troops in order to decrease popular support for the war than on gaining control militarily of territory would be successful, which would leave the U.S. vulnerable to defeat through guerrilla warfare by any other enemy. American enemies would be emboldened to fight the U.S. instead of deterred from doing so. I have warned of this danger in regard to Iraq in earlier posts, but it is even more of a danger in Afghanistan. Because it was the place from where the September 11 Attacks were plotted, Afghanistan was seen as more of a defensive war than Iraq. Therefore, popular support for the war in Afghanistan was always higher than for the Liberation of Iraq. Indeed, it was the withdrawals of U.S. troops from Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia because of a loss of popular support – not because of military defeat – that emboldened bin Laden to attack the U.S. on September 11. He was especially encouraged by the U.S. withdrawal from Somalia because al-Qaeda had armed the Islamist militants that fought the Americans; they Somali militants were routed by the Americans but by killing just 19 of them, President Bill Clinton ordered U.S. troops to withdraw. As in Iraq, the U.S. must be willing to prove it has a tolerance for casualties high enough to defend itself sufficiently. In short, military victory leads to peace, while military defeat leads to war.

U.S. and NATO troops must continue to remain in the fight against Islamic militancy in Afghanistan. Only once enough Afghan troops are trained to defend their country, can the West declare victory and even begin to consider a withdrawal. The U.S. success in Iraq suggests that it can also succeed in Afghanistan, despite the particularly difficult challenges of that state. Let us continue to be grateful to our American troops and their allies in the Afghan-Pakistani Theater of the War on Terrorism for defending our liberty!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Analysis of Obama's Economic and Fiscal Policies

Although it is still early in the Obama Administration, it is possible to assess the economic and fiscal policies it has implemented thus far.

Obama's fiscal policies generally have been disastrous. His so-called $787 billion economic “stimulus” has dramatically increased the federal budget deficit and the federal debt. In addition, he missed the opportunity for fiscal restraint by signing into law the $400 billion worth of appropriations bills for the current fiscal year that had not been passed before his predecessor left office. Those bills were heavily-laden with congressional earmarks for pork-barrel spending. The Obama Administration recently revised its estimate of the increase in the debt over the next decade from $7 trillion to $9 trillion. The increase in the debt will require more borrowing and printing of money in the long term, which will cause inflation and increased interest rates, which are both harmful to the economy.

As I note in earlier posts, the federal government does not -- nor should it -- have an economic policy, per se. It only has economic aspects to other policies, such as its fiscal policy (i.e. taxing and spending).

Obama's stimulus and other spending bills did extend some of President George W. Bush's middle class tax cuts, but he somewhat undermined the economic benefit of those tax cuts by increasing the tax on tobacco. Some of the federal spending probably did have some economically stimulative effect (See also my post, Conservative Analysis of Cash for Clunkers), but any citation of the stimulus for the recent signs of economic recovery undermines the premise behind the size of the stimulus because no more than about 10% of the $787 billion has been spent. In other words, if only $79 billion were enough to stimulate economic growth, then the rest of the spending must have been unnecessary. I observe in my post, How to Measure Whether an Economic Stimulus Is Working, the difficulty of attributing any increases of the gross domestic product to the stimulus alone, as other factors apparently are having more of a beneficial effect on the economy, such as actions by the Federal Reserve, federal bailouts of corporations during the Bush Administration and the natural business cycle. In short, the minimal economic benefit of Obama's spending spree has not been worth the price of the increase in the federal debt. It is essential that conservatives not allow Obama and his supporters to attribute any economic recovery to the stimulus alone, in addition to pointing to the long-term cost of it.

Note: the federal debt would be even worse but for one beneficial Bush Administration policy, much as the Clinton Administration benefited from a fiscal policy of its predecessor. The repayment by banks of billions of dollars of bailout loans made to them by the Bush Administration will allow Obama to try to escape blame for an even worse federal deficit and debt, just as President Bill Clinton benefited from the restoration to prosperity of the savings and loans taken over by the Administration of President George H.W. Bush. Clinton had criticized the elder Bush for the economy and deficit, but then took the credit when the deficit decreased because of Bush's policies. Conservatives should not let Obama get away with any Clintonesque deceit like they let Clinton get away with it.

Besides Obama's fiscal policies, there has been little other action from Obama Administration yet that affects the economy. For example, he has not even asked the Senate to ratify free trade agreements signed by President Bush, nor has he proposed any new trade agreements. Monetary policy is controlled by the Federal Reserve, which operates independently. Obama has indicated that he will renominate Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke.

Two mistakes in strategy that Obama has made, however, were both harmful to the economy. One was to increase pessimism early in his administration by adopting the political strategy of making the economy appear even worse than it was in order to blame his predecessor for the recession and thus to take credit for any subsequent recovery. But the pessimism discouraged investment, which was evidenced by the decrease in the value of stocks, as well as by a drop in consumer confidence, which caused a decrease in consumption. Obama changed his strategy, but not until after much harm was done.

The other factor Obama has generated is uncertainty, which is economically harmful in a way similar to pessimism. His proposals to raise income taxes and taxes on businesses, his proposed energy tax, and his proposed massive federalization of health insurance, which would necessitate much more borrowing and spending alone, have spooked many investors.

In conclusion, Obama has been a fiscal disaster, which will be economically harmful in the long term. At best, economically, some of hs policies have been somewhat beneficial in the short term, but are being outweighed by other beneficial factors beyond his control, while he has undermined the benefits of his own economic policies through his pessimism and creation of unceratainty and fear.

Conservatives should continue to oppose Obama's fiscal policy of massive increases in spending and promote spending decreases. They should oppose Obama's economically harmful proposals to increase taxes and regulation and promote policies that would favor economic growth like income tax cuts, business tax cuts and increased trade.

Radicals in the Obama Administration

As a candidate for President of the United States, Barak Obama was exposed as having associated extensively with radicals. From being a disciple of Sol Alinsky, the author of Rules for Radicals, to attending a church for decades whose pastor who inspired him was the infamous black radical, Jeremiah Wright, to launching his first campaign for public office from the home of his friend, William Ayers, who had bombed the Pentagon as a member of the guerilla group, the Weather Underground -- an act for which he has expressed regret only for not having done more -- Obama seemed to be comfortable with far-left wing revolutionaries, despite his weak assurances that he did not necessarily agree with them.

It is not suprising that, as president, Obama has been filling his administration with a gallery of radicals. Because the legion of so-called “czars” he has been appointing to head various task forces do not require Senate confirmation, these offices are the easiest places for him to appoint leftist comrades to high office, but he is even attempting to appoint radicals to posts that require confirmation.

Obama's environmental czar, for example, was a member of a Socialist organization. His science czar believes that public drinking water should be laced with chemicals that would sterilize people. Obama's “green jobs” czar had to resign recently amidst a controversy over his past acknowledgment of being a communist and subscribing to the conspiracy theory that the United States was behind the September 11 Attacks, as well as unbecoming statements that he made while serving in office.

Undaunted, Obama has nominated yet another radical, Cass Sunstein, to his budget office. Sunstein believes that animals should be allowed to bring lawsuits, that rats should not exterminated if the process of exterminating them is painful, but that organs should be taken from humans unless they had expressly stated that they do not wish to donate their organs.

Conservatives must oppose Sunstein's nomination, as well as the nomination of any more radicals. Meanwhile, it is critical to continue to expose those radicals still serving in the Obama Administration. Most importantly, conservatives must oppose not only the specific radical policies of the Administration, but the massive growth and centralization of power of the federal government in general, which allows for radical policies to be implemented that reduce the liberty of Americans.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

An Attack on Americans Anywhere is an Attack on Us

It seems obvious that an attack on Americans anywhere in the world represents an attack on us, as Americans. However, over the years, after numerous attacks against Americans abroad, many Americans had become inured by terrorism before September 11. Even to some degree afterward, there is a tendency to dismiss as insignificant some of those terrorist and other attacks by militant Muslims that occurred before then or even afterward if they were not attacks on the homeland of the United States.

Many liberals and isolationists who opposed the Liberation of Iraq claim, for example, that Iraq had “never attacked us.” In addition to Iraq’s nearly daily attacks on Coalition aircraft patrolling the No-Fly Zones for the last three years before the Liberation of Iraq in 2003, Iraqi-sponsored suicide bombings that targeted Americans certainly constituted attacks on us. Two examples are the deadly Palestinian terrorist suicide bombing of the American Sbarro Restaurant in Jerusalem frequented by Americans and a suicide bombing that killed four American soldiers in the Gaza Strip – which occurred after the September 11 Attacks. Therefore, Iraq certainly did attack us. Thus, the distinction made by critics of the Liberation of Iraq between Afghanistan and Iraq that the U.S. was attacked by militants harbored by the former, but not by the latter, is false.

There seems to be an undertone in the dismissal of the significance of Iraq’s terrorism and other militant attacks that the number of Americans killed was not high enough to justify war as much as the September 11 Attacks did, which implies that only large numbers of American lives are worth defending. State-sponsored terrorism is an act of war no matter how many casualties. President Ronald Reagan recognized this point. He was successful in reducing Libyan terrorism after he ordered the bombing of that state in 1986 – after the death of one American from a Libyan-sponsored act.

The tendency among liberals and isolationists to dismiss Iraq’s terrorism is part of a larger pattern, which prevented President Bill Clinton from responding from terrorist or other militant attacks as adequately as Reagan. The Clinton Administration only launched a few missiles against a single target in Iraq for its attempted assassination of former President George H.W. Bush in Kuwait in 1993. It also failed to punish Iran militarily for the Khobar Towers Attack in Saudi Arabia in 1995 it sponsored that killed 19 Americans. The Clinton Administration launched only a few missiles against al-Qaeda targets in 1999 even after the 1998 bombing of American Embassies (which are on American soil!) in Kenya and Tanzania, and did nothing whatsoever after the al-Qaeda bombing of the U.S.S. Cole.

This tolerance of terrorism and other militant attacks is what emboldened al-Qaeda into calculating that a U.S. response to a major attack on its homeland would be weak. Clinton’s cruise missiles strikes against al-Qaeda added to the impression that the U.S. did not consider defending the lives of its citizens worth risking the lives of any of its members of the military. Indeed, the Clinton Administration policy of treating terrorism as a criminal matter instead of as a war suggested that the U.S. did not have the stomach for war and thus would continue to tolerate terrorism. The Democrats’ 2004 presidential nominee, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, even expressed his wish for terrorism to return to being a “nuisance.” In other words, it would not be worth going to war to defend a few Americans from being killed, injured or taken hostage abroad every year. To this day, many liberals and isolationists regard the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s terrorist-sponsoring regime as a “war of choice,” suggesting that the U.S. should have chosen to accept terrorism and other militancy that targets Americans even after September 11.

The distinction between and attack on Americans and an attack on the United States homeland is less significant than liberals and isolationists assert. The distinction does not exist legally in regard to attacks on sovereign U.S. territory abroad like embassies or ships. Regardless, American civilians have the right to travel abroad without fear of terrorism. Attacks on American soldiers abroad are acts of war. The lives of Americans who are on foreign soil are equally valued as those on American soil. The distinction between attacking Americans abroad and in the States is mostly a psychological one. After all, the purpose of terrorism is to terrorize, in order to intimidate a populace into acceding to the demands of the terrorists. In this sense, we can be grateful that the U.S. has averted any attack on its homeland since September 11, as well as any attack on Americans abroad as lethal as those attacks, but there have continued to be deadly attacks on Americans since then. It is a sufficient strategy for terrorists to make people feel as if some of their fellow countrymen are targeted, and not usually necessary to make an entire populace feel targeted. Indeed, many Americans did not feel targeted even after September 11, but they recognized more than before that their fellow Americans were targeted.

Attacks on Americans anywhere in the world are attacks on Americans, which are attacks on us, whether or not every American fears being targeted. It is important to minimize distinctions between where Americans have been targeted and to recognize the danger from any terrorists or other militants who target Americans and respond accordingly.

Blog Milestones

For this monthly blog report, I am pleased to report several blog milestones were reached. A second post, The Economy, Deficit and Debt at George W. Bush’s Inauguration, has been viewed by over 100 people. The total number of visitors to my blog since April 2 reached 500 early in this month (including both those whose visit was initiated on my homepage and searchers who landed on individual posts). Later in the month, the total number in the latter category alone passed 500. There have now been nearly 700 total visits to my blog in the first five months that I have tracked it, and over 750 individual pages viewed. Thank you!

A visit is defined as a page view at least one hour after the last page view. If I were to count every page view as a hit, then the 1,000-hit milestone would have been reached this month also, but I consider it more accurate to count visits than every reload of a page. I do not count my own visits toward these totals.

Visitors have come from at least 45 States in the Union, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. California continues to be the leading source of visits within the U.S., other than Pennsylvania. Visitors have come from 41 foreign states. Malaysia has now surpassed the United Kingdom as the source of the most foreign visits, followed by Canada and India in third and fourth place, respectively.

Increasingly, I see that a number of you are loyal readers, and more of you have even joined as Followers. For example, the top ten visitors who initiated their visit to my blog on my homepage account for nearly 120 visits alone. I appreciate your patronage. I also can tell by the searches that my posts are helpful to many readers, while other times the searches inspire me to expound more on particular topics or address additional topics.

I posted more often in August than in any month except April. I have several more posts in the works, as I often make notes in between posting, so please continue to visit my blog periodically.

Again, thank you for making my blog successful!