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ISIS is a group of really bad actors.  It’s hard to overstate how truly Satanic this organization is.  Their strength has been brewing for years in a cauldron of real and imagined grievances, fueled by the messianic aspects of Islamic theology. I note that Obama has been asleep at the switch, hoping against hope the Middle East did not need much tending after we left Iraq, and that we could declare victory over al Qaeda.  He should have known better.  Since 1979, there is almost always something of moment there that we cannot easily ignore.

Regardless of the trajectory of any particular organization, Islamic extremism is the problem for our friends in the region and for the broader Western concern of anti-terrorism. So, while I’d rather the Iraqis stand up and do their job and not become a welfare basket case, I don’t have a philosophical opposition to the US helping Iraq push them back, or bombing ISIS when we find them, and the like.  I view all organized militant Islam as something that it is in our national interest to eradicate.  Of course, I’m reluctant to take sides in any Shia-Sunni War where extremists on both side are fighting to exterminate the other, where there is no principle involved.  That said, ISIS appears to have graduated into the looming global threat category unlike, say, al Shabab in Somalia.

I do, however, have a philosophical problem with Obama, McCain, Lindsey Graham, and all of the morons who gave us Libya, Egypt, and nearly Syria last year.  All were conceived as operations against secular strongmen–the proven antidote to Islamic extremism–in favor of unreliable democracy among a radicalized, pro-Islamist group of people.  In two out of three of those countries we actually put Islamists in power or set the conditions for them to do so.  In Syria, we have opposed the one force that is fighting against Islamic extremism.  That anti-secular-strongman policy, our policy as recently as 2013, is not serving our interests at all.   The inherent lunacy of that position reaches its apotheosis in this piece by a neoconservative author who argues we should fight both Assad and ISIS.  My God, these are truly defective people.

It is not comforting that the Western Press has now decided to simply pass along the frenetic Ukrainian government’s claim of a “Russian Invasion” now that the latter is losing its punitive expedition in the East.  Ukraine’s army has lost through a variety of missteps, poor morale, and other factors, but the facts show that it has been nearly completely pushed out of its positions in Eastern Ukraine and suffered significant losses and is on the verge of collapse.

Its performance has been surprising in recent weeks, considering its superiority in arms, equipment, and organization. It previously appeared to have pushed the rebels to the brink of extinction in mid-August.  To explain matters, the government has decided to call this reversal a “Russian Invasion.”  It is no more a Russian Invasion than Ukraine’s use of Chechen, Belarusian, and Georgian volunteers is an invasion of the Donbas region by those countries. The evidence of invasion–satellite photos and about 10 out-of-uniform Russian soldiers captured by Ukraine–do not suggest anything on the scale of what occurred earlier in Crimea.  This evidence is consistent with organizational and material help, and the occasional presence of volunteers and adventurers.  Most important, even if reports are completely believed, they suggest at most 1,000 Russian troops are involved.  There are 20,000 plus belligerents or more on either side of this conflict.  Russian troops might be well equipped and professional, but 1,000 of them cannot defeat an army of 20,000 in several weeks.  Let’s use common sense.

Most of what one sees–and it is obvious from any perusal of news reports, photographs, and other social media–is a ragtag rebel army consisting of old men, Soviet and Russian veterans presumably, mostly armed with light equipment, APCs, a handful of tanks, and a handful of mortars and artillery pieces.  In recent weeks, Russian probably lent, sold, or gave the rebels the assistance of self-propelled artillery, but this is partial help, not so unlike the help provided by NATO states in the form of uniforms, intelligence support, body armor, MREs, and the like.  Everyone is getting help, receiving foreign fighters, and other forms of visible and invisible support.   What one has also seen is a well-led and relatively disciplined rebel force that flourished to a greater degree as the Ukrainian Army alienated more and more people with its tactics, shelling, and obvious disregard for the citizens of its East.  That said, the whole war is an unfortunate, if not altogether preventable, tragedy.

The tragic situation has been evident at every stage of events.  First, the Ukrainian government’s existence was brought about through a violent coup, even as the ink was still wet on a negotiated settlement with the Yanukovich government. Second, Ukraine thereafter stood up an armed force with minimal training and support, and populated it with patriots and also extremists. It then proceeded to shell civilian areas of Donetsk and Lugansk, the main cities in the East, with nary a peep from the West.  We are told “Putin in like Hitler” when the actual uniforms of these volunteer organizations in Eastern Ukraine have Nazi symbols incorporated into them.  Then, the generals of Ukraine have abandoned whole units, and we see significant desertions, massacres, low morale, and surrenders among them.  Finally, the rebels, fortified no doubt by some Russian help, proceed to beat the pitiful Ukrainian government troops and volunteer battalions, and now the West wants to pretend this is some grave injustice and proof of how evil the Russians are.  

This war is an incredible tragedy for Europe and the Ukrainian and Russian people, who are fraternal nations that share the same religion, much of a common history, and common ancestry.  But it is not a morality play with Russia as the chief villain.

In truth, Ukraine in its present form likely cannot continue and cannot be governed.  The Russophone East and the Ukrainian-speaking West do not trust one another, they have spent much of the last few months at war with one another, there is much love lost and distrust, and the manner in which the Poroshenko government has conducted the war has alienated both its supporters and its opponents.  A peaceful, negotiated settlement, perhaps with a demilitarized zone and UN peacekeepers, is far preferable for everyone involved to this continued, brutal war.

There are real threats out there to our collective safety and well being, whether in the field of economics, foreign policy, or in the case of deadly diseases like Ebola.  But our leaders mostly ignore these things because they’re difficult to address, or require moral courage, or, in the case of Obama, require him to get off the links.  Not only do they do nothing about these real problems, but they address fake ones, such as the alleged “militarization” of police or phantom racism.

Of all the dumb, fake, made up controversies of all time, the brouhaha over the Redskins has to be the dumbest, and no one addressed it more spectacularly than former Chicago Bears coach, Mike Ditka:

Former Bears coach and current ESPN analyst Mike Ditka isn’t one to pull punches often. He certainly didn’t when asked about his opinion of the Redskins name controversy.

Ditka, as transcribed by Seth Allen of the Washington Post, told RedskinHistorian.com during an interview he thinks any debate about the name is “so stupid it’s appalling.”

“What’s all the stink over the Redskin name?” Ditka said. “It’s so much [expletive] it’s incredible. We’re going to let the liberals of the world run this world. It was said out of reverence, out of pride to the American Indian. Even though it was called a Redskin, what are you going to call them, a Brownskin?

“This is so stupid it’s appalling, and I hope that owner keeps fighting for it and never changes it, because the Redskins are part of an American football history, and it should never be anything but the Washington Redskins. That’s the way it is.”

Ditka is a notorious conservative; he recently said he regrets not running for Senate because it would’ve prevented the President from being in office.

It’s not surprising he doesn’t want the name changed or that he doesn’t want the name changed because it’s been that way “since the beginning of football.”

“Its been the name of the team since the beginning of football,” Ditka said. “It has nothing to do with something that happened lately, or something that somebody dreamed up. This was the name, period. Leave it alone. These people are silly — asinine, actually, in my opinion.”

Ditka then took his boldest stance of all, saying he “I admire” Skins owner Dan Snyder.

“I admire him for it,” Ditka said. “Really, I think it’s tradition, it’s history, it’s part of the National Football League. It was about Sammy Baugh and all the guys who were Redskins way back then. I didn’t think that Lombardi and Halas never had a problem with it, why would all these other idiots have a problem with the name? I’m sorry.

“I’m not very tolerant when it comes to the liberals who complain about everything.”

Ferguson Farce

While I find this story interesting, we have seen this movie before in Watts, the LA Riots, and in Crown Heights:  a shooting under murky circumstances, a leftist media that creates more confusion, and the protest-industrial-complex that exploits aimless, angry minority youth as the source of its power.  It’s Trayvon Martin Part 2, complete with the “victim’s” propensity for violence.

Three important facts have emerged since the initial shooting.  Brown was a violent crook, who earlier that day assaulted a shopkeeper and stole some cigars.  (Even if the arresting officer did not know this, it says something important about who initiated the violence of their encounter.)  Two, Brown may have charged at the policeman who shot him and had earlier been involved in some kind of confrontation in the officer’s car.  Three, Brown was not shot in the back, contrary to his criminal accomplice’s initial statements.  As with so many shootings, rumor and speculation have done much to fuel increasing unrest, but the emerging facts have undercut that narrative.

Of course, it is not beyond belief a policeman had a bad shoot.  They can make mistakes, and in some cases they may even be bad people.  Every shooting should be investigated, and criminal shootings, even by police, should be prosecuted. But here the facts suggest that, while the shooting may not have been an absolutely necessary, it wasn’t a lunatic decision. When you carry a gun, every fight is a gun fight.  And why is that?  Because someone–in this case a 6’4 300 pound someone–can easily take your gun and kill you.

I do find it pitiful that the release of the strong arm robbery video was criticized and attempted to be suppressed by the Holder Justice Department.  Not only is the government trying to perpetrate a cover up, but it is doing so openly and shamelessly.  We have a classic situation of local communities dealing with tangible problems like robberies, shoplifting, and disorder fighting a two front war against criminals and the civil rights establishment that is woefully indifferent to law and order. Instead of these two law enforcement agencies being on the same side, the federal government is on the side of the instigators.

From the other side of the spectrum, certain conservatives and libertarians have suggested that this episode is a phenomenon arising from “miltiarized policing.”  I completely disagree. Officer Friendly or not, police depend on authority and at times force to use their job.  In spite of their “militarization,” police shootings have gone way down since the early 70s. Further, the militarization is related mostly to the “guerrillaization” of criminals, whose weapons, tactics, and support from dysfunctional communities make the police’s jobs very difficult in decaying urban areas.  Even the “peaceful protesters” embrace a way of thinking that leads to more crime and disorder, namely, failing to give the police some background respect and benefit of the doubt in the dangerous, crime-ridden world we live in.  When people cooperate with police and reject the antisocial “snitches get stitches” thinking of the ‘hood, we can live in a safer world where police use less force, and we all benefit from less crime.  Instead, in a world where the chief threat to young black men is other young black men, we focus disproportionately on the rare and preventable episodes of violence where whites are involved, while implicitly sanctioning the background violence from which those events arise.

Probably the most sad thing about this whole episode is that America was promised Obama would do something to support the cause of racial peace.  That his very presence would tamp down the alienation, violence, and disorder that characterizes so many minority neighborhoods.  Instead, we see as much mutual hostility as ever, and we see arrogant people who have little exposure to the anarchic disaster of the inner city, waxing eloquent about “how policing should be done,” while remaining conspicuously silent about the way “life should be done” by those who populate these ruined communities. 

As I wrote at the time of the Trayvon episode:

The one potential positive of the Obama presidency, the one that I think led many moderate whites to vote for him, has never been exploited at all.  He could have, like Nixon going to China, called out all the charlatans, frauds, flatterers, phonies, and crooks that have demoralized and brought shame to America’s troubled black community.  Instead, and perhaps reflecting an insecurity of identity due to his mostly white upbringing, he has only stated the party line or remained silent on these issues.  At the same time, he has done little to show he cares or understands America’s whites.  So he has become a leader of a coalition of the alienated, and an alienator of the rest of the nation.  Like Mayor Dinkins and Mayor Washington, he may unwittingly unify the very whites who were so hopeful that he would do something to reverse the festering dysfunction and hostility of “urban” America.

 

Obama is a failure, in other words.  And this episode is just the most salient proof to date.

Without much fanfare, the Army has thankfully reversed its decision to equip our soldiers with the ugliest, least effective, bullet magnet camo that came on the scene in 2003. ACU is a terrible pattern, was not picked after proper testing, and in fact was the brainchild of an armchair warrior, Army Chief of Staff Schoomaker, who ignored the Natick testing that promoted a pattern much closer to the one just adopted, but that information was ignored for 10+ years.

The new uniform looks sharp, unlike the debacle it has replaced. This is now doubt good for esprit de corps and for soldier survival.  I wonder how many soldiers died from the poor ACU pattern. It’s probably hard to know for sure, but it has to be some, as getting seen is a prelude to getting shot or shelled, and there is no doubt in Iraq and Afghanistan that the new uniform (or its near twin, Multicam, used only in Afghanistan for the last several years) performs this important task much much better.

Army M. Sgt. Shows New Uniform, Which Unlike Predecessor Actually Looks Kinda Like the Woods/Deserts Where Our Soldiers Fight

Bullet Magnet Blueish ACU Camo Army Used for Last 10 Years

Some think this is a good thing, others not so good, but the thesis of these authors–that the economic recovery is causing the current border crisis–makes sense.  After all, it’s not like Honduras and El Salvador were perfectly safe places in 2008.  Probably dreadful in fact, as they are now.  But the difference is that now the Home Depot parking lots are filled with contractors and workers looking to do cheap and substandard construction work in every suburb in America.  There is a mini-real-estate-boom, particularly among “rehabbers,” and low skill, low wage, low complaint Latin American workers have become a key part of that industry.

The idea that somehow you can escape violence completely by allowing the movement of teenagers and other people from Central America to the United States is ridiculous.  It reminds me of the movement to allow domestic violence victims refuge status, as if domestic violence doesn’t happen in immigrant communities in the US.  Indeed, whatever dysfunction exists in Central America is chiefly a product of the people themselves and their political system, and by coming here they will change our political system and continue on whatever endogenous trajectory they are already on towards domestic violence, gang membership, or a preference for socialism and corruption.  In other words, doing anything to accommodate mass third world immigration hurts us and eventually hurts the immigrants themselves as our country resembles more and more the ones they fled.

The only slight schadenfreude aspect of this whole thing that makes me smile is that for whatever reason, lots of Central Americans have settled around our nation’s capital. Maybe as their own lifestyle is impacted by all this immigration, and as their kids start bringing home their MS13 buddies to play video games (when they are not dodging their penchant for carjacking), the leadership classes will begin to have an awakening as to what this all means.

Gaza Incursion

While it is terrible to see civilian casualties amass in Gaza, it’s not so clear what choice Israel has, and Hamas’s tactics have much to do with this, including the colocation of its attacks from sensitive locations.  Gaza is a dense settlement led by terrorists that shoot rockets at Israeli territory regularly.  Hamas has no interest in peace, yet Israel cannot for reasons of internal and external politics deliver a blow or expulsion that will permanently resolve this conflict.  This cycle will continue for a very long time, and there is no end in sight.

I do find it dubious that the Europeans who are fully supporting Ukraine’s artillery shelling of large cities are so critical of Israel.  Indeed, the US which supported a coup in Ukraine has opposed one in Egypt, and while we supported rebels in Libya we oppose them in Donetsk.  I am starting to get very cynical about invocations of human rights in general.  No one is really consistent, and everyone has realpolitik concerns behind these selective cries for justice. For the US and Europe, it is clear their concern is to weaken Russia’s influence on the world scene, and for Russia it is the opposite concern. 

Obama also appears, as usual, like a moron.  When the best course is silence, he speaks, and in this case he demanded a ceasefire, which Israel agreed to, only to have one of its soldiers kidnapped 90 minutes later.  While we are in close contact with Israel and give them funds–a policy that should be revisited–there is no reason also to get involved and weigh in on things that only affect the US tangentially and where Israel has a pretty legitimate argument of self defense.  Our funding hurts us and arguably hurts israel too.  We feel obliged to question their tactics in the name of consistency and humanitarian concerns, but in the process we hurt our credibility by not doing so quickly or forcefully enough.  And Israel is required to do things that we cannot stomach, but they hold their hand at times out of concern for US criticism.  We should have more distance from one another and largely avoid this tar baby.  But that also goes for Syria, ISIS in Iraq, Ukraine and who leads it, and much else.  While the world appears to be going to hell in a handbasket, we must remember that is to some extent its natural condition.  There are disputes, conflicts, rivalries, and fears the world over that Americans do not have the time or patience or life experience to understand or manage.  The way to maintain our strength is to conserve it and not allow other, parochial, and local fights become our own.  This should be particularly salient on the 100th Anniversary of World War I, where a too-enmeshed world and system of defensive alliances allowed a regional war in the Balkans to cascade into a bloody and pointless world conflict.

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