This information was given to us as a comment on our post Saved from Communism – and flourishing (September 15, 2013) by our reader – and citizen of Chile – Carlos. It confirms the two reports we quoted, which praise Chile for its spectacular economic achievements since 1973. But it is also a reality-check and corrective to their optimism, because it also tells the distressing story of how the Left is trying to sabotage the system that worked so well and return the country to failed collectivist policies:
The information you cite on this post is correct. The country I grew up in was entirely different from the one my parents knew. Latin American nations have always been poor in ways someone that hails from the Anglo-Saxon world can’t fathom, and it’s been like that since the Spaniards came hundreds of years ago.
My parents, the son and daughter of poor country workers (the kind that toiled the land without technology or electricity), are now medical professionals, wealthy, and have traveled to all continents. It’s the kind of story you hear in those once poor third world countries that lead free market reforms, or about first generation immigrants that arrive to the US as paupers and then, after some decades, amass the kind of wealth only a small percentage possess in their countries of origin.
Besides [and because of] having the highest per capita income of the region, the people of Chile surpass others in South America on eating and drinking alcohol, so much that, just like the US, obesity and diabetes are a major health concern of all ages.
With all this, you would think that the Chilean people would be happy and elated about their progress …
Yes, progress – because obesity and diabetes are bad effects of eating too much, not too little …
… but that could not be farther from the truth. The political consensus, accepted by pretty much everyone, is that the Chilean economic system is immoral and awful; a system built on “inequality and greed”.
Like in the US and Europe, the political Right has abandoned the Universities and intellectual spheres, leaving them to the Left to reign supreme. Socialism of all stripes is discussed on all political talk shows, while the greatest and most successful economic reforms in Chile’s history (the greatest reduction of poverty in recent years, for one) are scorned as “neoliberalism” and not egalitarian, and capitalists are despised with the same animus as your lefties [in the US] inveigh against the “one percenters”.
While the European welfare states are teetering, the people here hate the privately managed social security, accusing them of being thieves. The general belief here is that if something, whether minerals, forests, social security funds, etc., is owned by the State it is the property of everyone, which is good (no matter how much it costs or how much the national debt rises), but if it is private then someone somewhere is stealing from them (with commodities this is believed even if the prices are low).
This thinking is also applied to education.
Throughout 2011, huge protests broke out clamoring for free university education and the end of the voucher system for funding school education for poor families. The protesters were led by a member of the Communist Party, who was acclaimed and embraced by the fawning media. The protests ended up with more than a thousand policemen injured (beaten, burned by molotov bombs, etc.) and damages to schools on strike (by their own students, if not older members of left wing fanatic groups) that, according to the Minister of Education, amount to the cost of building 11 all-new schools.
Street violence is now a staple of the national life, with policemen attacked with a shower of rocks, molotov bombs, and acid (yes, ACID). Even the horses that policemen use have been the subject of horrible knife cuts. The last protest to commemorate the 40 years of the coup ended up with a policeman with his face (nose, teeth, cheek) destroyed by a rock blow, as several others had their hands burned with acid. (See videos of the riots here – where a fallen mounted policeman is stoned – and here and here.)
All of this without counting the crude and disgusting language the police are subject to by the crazed mass that revels in violence.
The two greatest universities of the country are hostile grounds for Presidents of all stripes. Years ago, Ricardo Lagos, a Socialist President, was verbally abused in the Law faculty of the University of Chile and paint was hurled at him for the crime of not been socialist enough. And just three or two years ago, the current President, Sebastián Piñera and other political colleagues where attacked in the Catholic University of Chile by a group of students that behaved like a group of crazed baboons hooting and jeering.
The “secular religion” of the Left, besides the sanctification of the “Dear Leader”, is the adoration of the martyrs of the Revolution.
At the tax payer expense, a Museum of the Memory was built to commemorate all the 3000+ victims of the Pinochet dictatorship, all under a language of Human Rights violations. Of course, there is no mention of Allende’s association with the Soviet Union, one of the greatest Human Rights violators ever, only surpassed by others that applied the system of Scientific Socialism, which Allende and the Left adhered to and admired. There is no mention, also, of the more than 400 police and military men that were murdered by the paramilitary groups; no mention of the human disaster that Allende government was (with a ridiculous high inflation, shortages of the basic victuals, rationing lines, out of control political violence, aggressive taking over of land and industries, the State controlling most of the economy); no mentioning of the language the Left used during Allende’s reign: the threat of violent Revolution, and, most disgusting of all, the claims that, after killing the men of the Bourgeoisie, they would take their women ‘to the bed’, a nice and blithe euphemism for rape.
Our Communist Party has expressed, openly, their grief for the passing of the lunatic dictator Kim Jong-il, and gave vocal support to the Assad regime on the glorious duty of massacring their own people (a very Communist endeavor, you know). These horrendous, ignominious, disgraceful acts in support of murder and evil that boggle the mind are met with total (yes, that is the word) indifference by the general populace, while Pinochet’s dictatorship is routinely condemned.
Michelle Bachelet, a member of the Socialist Party who governed Chile between 2006 – 2010, will return again as a candidate for the next election. While in her first mandate she tended to be Center-Left, supported by a somewhat moderate coalition, and applying as much fiscal sanity as a Socialist can have, this time she comes at the head of a new political group that includes the Communist Party and is bent on changing the “Neoliberal” system, increase taxes and all the litany of reforms that scares investors and ruins long term economic projects. She enjoys the support of nearly 40 – 45% of voters, mostly because of her motherly appearance and the fact that she is a woman.
The problem with Chile is that, as Ayn Rand would say, its very core, its spiritual, cultural and historic center, is complete and powerfully rotted with Altruism. It is embedded in the national soul. Its roots lie, I believe, with the Catholic creed, and is something that most Chileans embrace. This allows for any right, any value to be sacrificed on the altar of the Collective, Public, Tribal good.
This is the reason I am writing this to you, because I think that in some years, Chile will utterly fail in its quest for economic development, and it will be a disaster.
Economic liberalism, individualism, is the antithesis of Altruism.
The Left has learned NOTHING from the experience of Allende’s government: the living members of his administration have publicly refused to ask for forgiveness for ruining the economy and the coexistence of a nation that some three years before was peaceful and stable. The younger members of the Left believe that the CIA and the Right ruined the economy just to get rid of Allende. The lessons of History only apply to their enemies.
It is a very bleak picture that I have painted of the current situation of Chile, but it is one that any of us living here would profess, any of us that believe in freedom, private property and the secular Rule of Law focused on defending individual rights.
We enjoyed a lot of what Glenn Beck did in his regular hour on Fox. We found his weeping mawkish, and we switched off when he went on about “God”, which was mostly, and much too fully, on Fridays. He became too much the preacher. But he’s a natural entertainer, and he was right, and informative, and even fascinating a lot of the time.
He has been replaced by “The Five”. The five are made up, usually, by a (varying) couple of beautiful intelligent women and a couple of well-informed and/or amusing guys – and a lugubrious lefty named Bob Beckel whose inclusion puts us off watching.
At this point we request our outside-America readers not to stop reading. We’re coming on to a point of international interest.
We’ll let Humberto Fontova take over. In an article titled A History Lesson for the Racist Bob Beckel, he writes:
“I still have my Che Guevara poster. Che Guevara was a freedom fighter.” – Bob Beckel on FoxNews’ “The Five” Sept. 5th.
If Bob Beckel’s “freedom-fighter” had been allowed his fondest bit of “freedom-fighting” Bob Beckel’s incinerated remains would fit in a gin bottle today. “America is the great enemy of mankind! Against those hyenas there is no option but extermination!…If the missiles [on Cuba] had remained, we would have fired them against the very heart of the U.S., including New York City.”
For the record: Ernesto “Che” Guevara was second in command, chief executioner, and chief KGB liaison for a regime that jailed more political prisoners per capita than did Stalin’s during the Great Terror and murdered more people (out of a population of 6.4 million) in its first three years in power than Hitler’s murdered (out of a population of 70 million) in its first six. Many, perhaps most, of those murdered and jailed by the regime Che Guevara co-founded were Batista opponents.
The Stalinist regime Che Guevara imposed on Cuba also stole the savings and property of 6.4 million citizens, made refugees of 20 percent of the population from a nation formerly deluged with immigrants and whose citizens had achieved a higher standard of living than those residing in half of Europe. Many opponents of the regime Che Guevara co-founded qualify as the longest-suffering political prisoners in modern history, having suffered prison camps, forced labor and torture chambers for a period three times as long in Che Guevara’s Gulag as Alexander Solzhenitsyn suffered in Stalin’s Gulag. Most of these had been Batista opponents.
“Don’t put him in a list of fascists. The fascists (Batista) were the ones he was trying to get rid of.” – Bob Beckel on Fox News’ “The Five” Sept. 5th. …
For the record: … The Castro regime – with firing squads, forced-labor camps, torture and drownings at sea – has caused an estimated 102,000 Cuban deaths. … Nazi repression caused 172,260 French civilian deaths during the occupation. France was nation of 42 million in 1940. Cuba was a nation of 6.5 million in 1960. My calculator reveals that Beckel’s freedom-fighter caused an enormously higher percentage of deaths among the people he “freed” than the Nazis caused among the French they enslaved and tortured with the SS and Gestapo.
Beckel tells the “Fox Five” that the CIA killed many more people than Che and implies that in the 50’s the agency was Che’s enemy.
Yes. Bob Beckel, still stuck in his adolescent leftism which involves being forever against the establishment of his own country (“courageously”, such safe and privileged members of America’s progressive elite believe) clings to the opinion that the Castro Brothers were GOOD and the US government was BAD.
And actually, annoyingly, he’s only completely wrong in one of those judgments. The Castro Brothers and Che Guevara were as far from good as any savage tyrants could be, so he’s wrong there. But some parts of the US government were bad, not for reasons Beckel might like to intone, but, to the contrary, because they sided with the Castro Brothers – as Humberto Fontova goes on to explain:
In fact during the late 1950’s the Castro brothers and Che Guevara had no better friends – and Fulgencio Batista few worse enemies – than the CIA.
“Me and my staff were all Fidelistas,” [said] Robert Reynolds, the CIA’s “Caribbean Desk’s specialist on the Cuban Revolution” from 1957-1960.
“Everyone in the CIA and everyone at State was pro-Castro, except (Republican) ambassador Earl Smith,” [said] CIA operative in Santiago Cuba, Robert Weicha.
And those brilliant minds, paid to gather accurate information, insisted that Castro and his cohorts had nothing to do with Communism:
“Don’t worry. We’ve infiltrated Castro’s guerrilla group in the Sierra Mountains. The Castro brothers and Ernesto“Che” Guevara have no affiliations with any Communists whatsoever,” [said] crackerjack Havana CIA station chief Jim Noel 1958.
Next, Bob brought out this old canard of the Left:
“Listen … when the CIA was complicit in the assassination of Allende [the Commie despot who was ruining Chile - JB], that was killing a head of state.”
Ground control to Major Bob: … The leftist [claim] that [Allende] was assassinated by the CIA was spun and spread only by the hardest of hard-left wackos. Not even Allende’s own family believed it. An investigation including an autopsy by Chilean authorities just last month confirmed that Salvador Allende committed suicide. Surely you read the New York Times, Bob?
Bob could brush that aside. His main business was to go on praising Castro’s revolution and regime for as long as breath was in him or until the alloted hour on Fox came to a close. He said:
“The idea of picking Che Guevara and calling him a mass-murderer is crazy.”
Yet Guevara himself confessed to being just that – with great pride, as Fontova reminds us:
“Certainly we execute!” boasted Che Guevara while addressing the hallowed halls of the U.N. General Assembly Dec. 9, 1964. “And we will continue executing as long as it is necessary! According to the “Black Book of Communism,” those firing-squad executions (murders, actually; execution implies a judicial process) had reached 14,000 by the end of the ’60s, the equivalent, given the relative populations, of almost a million executions in the U.S. “I don’t need proof to execute a man,” snapped Che to a judicial toady in 1959. “I only need proof that it’s necessary to execute him.”
The Left cannot hear that. Will not read it. To the Left, the savage Che Guevara is forever a hero. Why? Well, because, among other lies -
“(Che) did help Fidel Castro get rid one of the biggest thugs and murdering bastards there ever was, and that was Batista in Cuba.”
Now watch Fontova stride into the ring with his red muleta, and ready himself to administer, with one fatal thrust of his puntillo, the estocade - the coup de grace.
(And while he advances we must whisper that we are not admirers of Fulgencio Batista nor of labor unions, but that is not important at this moment of suspense.)
Here he comes – watch, listen:
Batista was a mulatto grandson of slaves born on the dirt floor of a palm roofed shack in the Cuban countryside. As President (via honest elections 1940-44, bloodless coup 1952-58) he always enjoyed the support of Cuba’s labor unions. And under Batista, according to a study by the International Labor Organization, the Cuban workforce was more highly unionized than the U.S. work force, with Cuba’s Industrial laborers earning the 8th highest wages in the world. …
Fontova the Toreador is leaning over the horns, his dagger is in place – now for the downward thrust:
So here’s Bob Beckel bashing a black politician of lowly origin who enjoyed overwhelming unionized labor support – while hailing the lily-white rich-boys, Fidel and Che, who outlawed labor unions and sent such as Richard Trumka and Jimmy Hoffa to the firing squad or prison. … Using liberals’ own standards Beckel sure sounds like an elitist – and a racist to boot.
Later the Toreador, in relaxed mood, tells us this:
No doubt Beckel picked up the leftist proverb about Batista as “one of the biggest murdering bastards there ever was” from a meme hatched in 1957 by a Fidelista Cuban magazine publisher named Miguel Angel Quevedo. The meme asserts that Batista’s police and army “murdered 20,000 Cubans” and is still parroted by the MSM/Academia axis.
For the record: Ten years after he hatched and spread the lie, Quevedo (from exile, he scooted out just ahead of a Fidelista firing squad) confessed to the lie and greatly regretted how the lie helped the propaganda campaign to put Fidel and Che in power. The regret for the calamity he helped bring upon Cuba was such that, right after signing the letter, Miguel Angel Quevedo put a gun to his head and blew his brains out.
Here’s Humberto Fontova and Nick Gillespie, the editor of Reason, with Glen Beck on Fox in the good old days before Beckel and the others replaced him, talking about Che Guevara.
And here’s an extract from Glenn Beck’s article, Exposing the Real Che Guevara:
“When you saw the beaming look on Che’s face as the victims were tied to the stake and blasted apart by the firing squad,” said a former Cuban political prisoner, to this writer, “you saw there was something seriously, seriously wrong with Che Guevara.” As commander of this prison/execution yard, Che often shattered the skull of the condemned man by firing the coup de grace himself. When other duties tore him away from his beloved execution yard, he consoled himself by viewing the slaughter. Che’s second-story office in Havana’s La Cabana prison had a section of wall torn out so he could watch his darling firing-squads at work.
Have you heard of Cafayate?
It’s way down south in Argentina. In a wine valley.
It seems to be the nearest thing to John Galt’s hidden valley that exists in the real world.
You can read a little about it here – though not nearly as much as you might want to know if you’re a free-market libertarian.
Jeff Berwick is the author of the report. He issues a free-market financial newsletter called The Dollar Vigilante.
Berwick explains that the people associated with it are “best described as financial freedom fighters“.
The Dollar Vigilante (TDV) is unwilling to live under a corrupt statist system of finance controlled by a few to impoverish the many. TDV began as a way to help foment a movement, long in progress, by individuals worldwide, to rid themselves of government controlled fiat money in favor of assets of real value void of manipulation. It is the hope of TDV that it can help create a community of dollar crash survivors who can survive the collapse of the global financial system and prosper from the new free-market financial system which will take its place.
The world is changing. The nation-state is passing away. Socialism is failing as it must.
Back to tribalism? Or forward to new communities of members freely associating according to their taste? – In “phyles”, to use the Greek word for clans. But not clans in the old sense, not clans bound by kinship or place of birth, but elective clans. You choose the company you want to keep, the type of economy you want to participate in.
A new vision of an emerging world, different from any other.
Not even quite the same as Ayn Rand’s, though she and her Atlas figures who carried an ungrateful world on their shoulders would surely have liked it.
Not only is it incredibly beautiful here but most of the value lies in the community. … Doug Casey often talks about “phyles” – which is an ancient Greek term for a tribe or clan. He is of the belief that nation states as they exist today are a brief abberation and that the world will trend more towards likeminded people living in areas (call them countries if you wish) with other similar like minded people.
This makes a lot of sense and is, in general, the way things are trending. If people like communism, let them all gather together somewhere and create their own communist phyle. A few years later and most of them will be dead from starvation or murder but, hey, at least they got to do what they wanted with other like minded people as opposed to forcing the rest of us to follow their insane socialist/communist ideas.
In Cafayate, “libertarian/anarchist/austrian-economics adherents” are gathering. We – not anarchists ourselves, but libertarian austrian-economics adherents who argue for minimal government – suspect that many if not all of them are atheists too.
It, quite possibly, is the world’s first libertarian enclave!
Galt’s Gulch does exist and it is in Cafayate, Argentina!
Worth reading about, thinking about – and visiting perhaps.
Should the United States refrain from any intervention in the world beyond its borders except in its own incontrovertible interest?
Or should it act as the world’s policeman? Does it have a “responsibility to protect”- if so, whom from what? Populations from their rulers? Vulnerable groups from any and all attackers?
To bring the debate to the moment and the actual, should the US keep its forces in Afghanistan after 10 years of fighting savage peasants and failing to crush them? Should there still be a US military presence in Iraq? In Germany? In South Korea? Should the US be fighting – as it is – in Libya, Pakistan, and Yemen?
Should it not be using force to stop Iran becoming a nuclear power? And immediately against Iran’s ally, Bashar Assad, the bloody tyrant of Syria?
Should it not be outspending China on defense?
Should it not be helping Georgia liberate two of its provinces from Russia?
Should it be protecting South Sudan from its northern neighbors and their Ugandan proxies? Or the Nigerian Christians from their Muslim persecutors? Or the ethnic African Muslims of Dafur from the Arab Muslims who are raping, robbing, hounding and massacring them? Or destroying the pirates of Somalia? Or putting an end to the Arab/African slave trade?
Can those who answer yes to the first question fairly be called “isolationists”?
David Harsanyi considers, in a column at Townhall, whether the label is apt when applied to those who want America to withdraw from Afghanistan and refrain from any further participation in the NATO intervention in Libya:
There’s been a lot of talk about an alleged turn in American public opinion — particularly among Republicans — toward “isolationism.”
In a recent debate among GOP presidential hopefuls, there was some discussion about ending the United States’ commitment to the tribal warlords and medieval shamans of the Afghan wilderness. This induced John McCain to complain about the rise of a new “strain of isolationism” … McCain sidekick Lindsey Graham went on to notify Congress that it “should sort of shut up and not empower Gadhafi” when the topic of the House’s potentially defunding the military — er, kinetic, non-warlike bombing activity over Libya — came up. It would be a mistake, he vented, for Republican candidates to sit “to the left” of President Barack Obama on national security.
So if you don’t shut up and stop carping about this non-war war of ours, you are abetting North African strongmen. Makes sense. It’s the return of Teddy Roosevelt-style Republicanism, in which arbitrary power (and John McCain’s singular wisdom) matters a lot more than any democratic institution.
Sure, some on the far right and swaths of the protectionist, union-driven left oppose international trade agreements and [are] endlessly freaking us out about foreign influences.
Our interpolation: Is this protectionist section of the left aware of the left-elite’s longing for world government?
But isolationists? Judging from our conduct in the real world of economy, we’re anything but insular. So perhaps McCain simply meant noninterventionists — as in folks who have an unwavering ideological aversion to any and all overseas entanglement.
That can’t be it, either. Maybe, like many Americans, some in the GOP are simply grappling with wars that never end and a war that never started.
And with plenty of troubles here at home, it’s not surprising that Americans have turned their attention inward.
We can’t be in a constant state of war. Then again, Afghanistan is not a war per se, but a precarious social engineering project that asks our best and bravest (or, as our ally Hamid Karzai calls them, “occupiers”) to die for the Afghan Constitution, which is roundly ignored — except for the parts codifying Islamic law, that is. But all these conflicts come with the price of endless involvement. We almost always win.
When and where? Since World War Two, where has America won a hot war? Oh yes – against Granada.
But we never really go home. …
Did sometimes. From Granada after victory. From Vietnam after defeat.
This week, we learned that Obama rejected the advice of lawyers at the Pentagon and the Justice Department who questioned his legal authority to continue this nonmilitary military involvement in Libya without congressional authorization. Instead, the administration offered a string of euphemisms concocted to bypass the Constitution.
Without any tangible evidence that this conflict furthers our national interests or any real proof that we are preventing a wide-scale humanitarian crisis, it’s not a surprise that Defense Secretary Robert Gates says we’re “leading from behind” — which is, in fact, as stupid and deceptive as the case it doesn’t make.
Are you an isolationist for questioning those who continue to weaken the Constitution? … Are you an isolationist for questioning this brand of obfuscation? Are you an isolationist for wanting American forces to win and leave the battlefield rather than hang around for decades of baby-sitting duty?
And Tony Blankley writes, also at Townhall:
I was one of the first GOP internationalist-oriented commentators or politicians to conclude that the Afghanistan War effort had served its initial purpose and that it was time to phase out the war. As a punitive raid against the regime that gave succor to Osama bin Laden, we had removed the Taliban government and killed as many al-Qaida and Taliban fighters as possible. …
But as the purpose of that war turned into nation building, even GOP internationalists had a duty to reassess whether, given the resources and strategy being brought to the new purpose, such policy was likely to be effective.
Now many others in the GOP and in the non-isolationist wing of the Democratic Party are likewise judging failure in Afghanistan to be almost inevitable. That is not a judgment driven by isolationism. Neither are we isolationist in our judgment (along with the opinion of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and almost the entire uniformed chain of command) that we see no national interest in Libya.
This is not isolationism; it is a rational effort at judging how best to advance American values and interests in an ever-more witheringly dangerous world.
Both Harsanyi’s and Blankley ‘s opinions are apt as far as they go.
But the problem is deeper, the questions that need to be raised about foreign policy harder than those they are answering.
Can America have a coherent foreign policy that America itself and the other states of the world can depend upon for any useful length of time? The two political parties are now so divided ideologically that foreign policy will depend on whether the president is a Republican or a Democrat. It will necessarily chop and change. Or if relations with some states stay more or less the same for a while, they will do so unreliably.
Could the very uncertainty characterize foreign policy usefully? No foreign state being secure in its relations with the US, each would have to be vigilant, tack according to the US wind, adjust to the changes. A case could be made that a Machiavellian preference to be feared by other nations rather than loved might serve America well.
But there are other developments to be considered. In countries throughout the world – led in this by Europe – there is an ideological tendency towards world government. The nation state is not liked: new political alignments, such as the European Union, are trying to phase it out. Democrats, for the most part, are in sympathy with the movement; Republicans are not. Democrats – like most leftists everywhere – have a vision of the UN turning into a world government; Republicans – many of them at least – would be happy to see the monstrous institution disbanded. It cannot continue long as it is: being a house of lies, it must fall down.
NATO is weakening. Letting Turkey into it was fatal. No longer secular, Turkey is now in the camp of Islam, inimical to the West.
The world as it was conceived to be after World War Two is changing kaleidoscopically under our eyes.
In relation to the rest of the world, what are American interests? How should they be pursued?
Should America concentrate on preserving itself as a fenced-in area of freedom on an otherwise unfree planet? That would be isolationism. Should it form a union with other as-yet-free nation-states: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Israel? India perhaps? Honduras? Papau? …
What would such a union do, what would be in its joint interest – “spreading democracy”, “protecting civilians”, “building nations”? The questions troubling America now would trouble it jointly, and the answers remain as hard to find.
Here’s a scandalous story of the present American government doing such positive harm to American interests that it might surprise even those who believe the worst of President Obama and his clique.
Since the very first days of this president’s administration, the drug-fueled cartel violence in Mexico has provided a stalking horse for the gun control agenda. Early on, both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder cited Mexican violence as a reason to renew the Bill Clinton gun ban of 1994. After those trial balloons were shot down, the ball was passed to Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who repeatedly has blamed American gun rights for Mexican violence. And more recently, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives [ATF] cited cartel mayhem as justification for an attempt to mandate the reporting of all multiple long gun sales in border states … effectively creating a registry.
But now, shocking revelations that grow bigger every day completely undercut the argument for additional restrictions. In fact, they illuminate bureaucratic arrogance, recklessness and hypocrisy of the highest order in the hallways of the Obama administration — including the spreading stench of a massive cover-up.
As it turns out, the ATF was already aware of efforts by shady characters to undertake mass gun purchases in border states, because law-abiding gun dealers reported the attempted purchases voluntarily. But ATF agents acting on “orders from Washington” encouraged gun dealers to complete these transactions against the dealers’ better judgment. Worse yet, the guns — thousands of them — then were allowed to be smuggled, or “walked,” into Mexico and into the hands of drug cartels. And worst of all, these guns now are turning up at crime scenes — including where a U.S. federal agent was murdered.
The operation is called “Fast and Furious,” and it’s absolutely appalling — but it’s all true, and there is still much more to come. Attorney General Holder has attempted to deflect the call for an investigation by asking the inspector general of the Justice Department to look into the matter. …
The ATF has been stonewalling inquiries from Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and now Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., has joined the fray — and he has subpoena power as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. …
To their credit, numerous rank-and-file ATF agents [objected] to the “Fast and Furious” operation from the get-go. Their superiors told them they “have to break some eggs to make an omelet” and then apparently threatened the agents with career discipline if they continued their objections.
The agents also were warned that the operation had been approved at the highest levels of the Justice Department — levels that are populated by presidential appointees, not career law enforcement officials. And now the Mexican government has elevated the scandal into an international incident, launching its own investigation and warning that “sanctions will have to be carried out with the full force of law to (whoever) could have been responsible.”
Barack Obama himself was questioned about the scandal … He quickly passed the buck, claiming ignorance of the operation and saying, “There may be a situation here (in) which a serious mistake was made, and if that’s the case, then we’ll find out and we’ll hold somebody accountable.” But a presidential effort to pin the tail on the donkey ignores the tremendous scope of “Fast and Furious,” which apparently involved personnel from not only the ATF and Justice but also the Homeland Security and State departments. Any attempt to lay this massive botch at the feet of an individual ignores systemic problems that “Fast and Furious” illustrates in the federal bureaucracy.
Our quotations are from an article by Chuck Norris at Townhall. He concludes by saying:
Proponents of gun control — including the White House — should focus on bringing U.S. government agencies into compliance with our existing laws before pushing new restrictions on the rest of us.
Read it all here.
The West, it seems, has lost interest in the crimes of Communist Russia now that the Cold War is over. But documents from a smuggled Soviet archive throw light not only on the past but also on the present.
Claire Berlinski has been examining them. She writes in City Journal:
These documents … were available to anyone who wanted to consult them. But nobody did. Publishers were indifferent. Only a fraction of the documents had been translated into English. This was, I argued, a symptom of the world’s dangerous indifference to the enormity of Communist crimes.
One thing that the documents make clear is that the Soviet Union sponsored terrorism in the Middle East. Those who tried to convey this information during the Cold War to governments, politicians, foreign ministries, the media and academics, were met for the most part with a refusal even to entertain the possibility. (I was one who tried and came up against a wall of denial – JB.]
It is one thing to know abstractly … that the Soviets sponsored terrorism in the Middle East. It is another to read a newly translated memorandum from longtime KGB head Yuri Andropov to Communist Party general secretary Leonid Brezhnev requesting authorization to fund a detailed plan by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) to kill civilians around the world:
In a confidential conversation at a meeting with the KGB resident in Lebanon in April this year, [PFLP official] Wadia Haddad outlined a prospective program of sabotage and terrorism by the PLFP [sic]. . . . The PLFP is currently preparing a number of special operations, including strikes against large oil storage installations in various countries, . . . the destruction of oil tankers and super-tankers, actions against American and Israeli representatives in Iran, Greece, Ethiopia, Kenya, an attack on the Diamond center in Tel Aviv, etc. . . . We feel it would be feasible, at the next meeting, to give a generally favorable response to Wadia Haddad’s request. …
The documents provide proof that the Russians paid for world-wide anti-US and anti-Israel demonstrations:
Also interesting is a document suggesting the pains taken by the KGB to ensure the eruption of “spontaneous” global demonstrations against Israel. According to the KGB’s estimates, spontaneously outraged Muslims cost approximately a quarter-rupee apiece: “The KGB station in India is capable of organizing a protest demonstration at the U.S. Embassy to India, with up to 20,000 Muslims participating. The expenses for organizing the demonstration would amount to 5,000 Indian rupees and be covered from the funds allocated by the CPSU Central Committee for special measures in India in 1969–1971.”
The Russians were active in stirring up terrorist rebellion and promoting Communist movements in South America:
That there was scarcely a miserable group of miscreants on the planet that the Soviets did not, in some fashion, fund, train, and encourage is vaguely known now by some; it should be widely known by all. … In a 1980 document .. the secretariat of the Central Committee resolves “to grant the request of the leadership of the Communist Party of El Salvador and task the Ministry of Civil Aviation with arranging, in September–October 1980, a shipment of 60–80 tons of small arms and ammunition of Western manufacture from Hanoi to Havana, for the Cuban comrades to transfer it to our Salvadoran friends.”
They sponsored propaganda against the United States to exploit deceptively the issue of racism. The documents show that Soviet support for the Civil Rights movement in America was not provided out of principle but entirely cynically as a Cold War ploy:
Above all, the documents suggest that the most enduringly pernicious fruit of the Soviet Union was its propaganda. The cliché view of the United States as a nation whose foreign policy may best be understood as an expression of racism — an interpretation that continues to hinder American efforts to do the world any good — largely emerged thanks to the Soviet Union’s energetic efforts, as a 1970 document details:
Because the rise of negro protest in the USA will bring definite difficulties to the ruling classes of the USA and will distract the attention of the Nixon administration from pursuing an active foreign policy, we would consider it feasible to implement a number of measures to support this movement and to assist its growth.
Therefore it is recommended to utilize the possibilities of the KGB in African countries to inspire political and public figures, youth, trade union and nationalist organizations to issue petitions, requests and statements to the UN, U.S. embassies in their countries and the U.S. government in defense of the rights of American negroes. To publish articles and letters accusing the U.S. government of genocide in the press of various African countries. Employing the possibilities of the KGB in New York and Washington, to influence the “Black Panthers” to address appeals to the UN and other international bodies for assistance in bringing the U.S. government’s policy of genocide toward American negroes to an end.
The archive has contemporary relevance because they draw “an impressive picture of a world-wide terrorist network, and leave one in no doubt that the Soviet Union deserves all the discredit for the emergence of international terrorism as a major factor in global politics.”
Almost all the terrorist activity throughout the world between the late 1960s and the turn of the century was in the name of left-wing causes, and was promoted in one way or another by the Soviet Union, if not directly by funding and the supply of arms, at the very least by political support in international forums, chiefly the United Nations, and through influence on socialist parties in Europe and “national liberation” movements in the Third World.
Islamic terrorism began with the hijacking of civil aircraft by Palestinians under Arafat’s orders in 1970. He was leader of the PLO, an organization consisting of a number of factions including the PFLP – the Soviet’s foot in the Palestinian door.
In the light of what the documents prove, it would not be an exaggeration to say that Islam’s terrorist war against America and the non-Islamic world in general is an extension of the Cold War. The evil that Communist Russia did lives after it.
It seems that the chance of Israel’s survival is about to be considerably diminished.
For some time it has been all too predictable that a small beleaguered democratic Jewish state in the midst of hostile Arab tyrannies would be existentially threatened when Europe became dominated by its Muslim populations in the middle of this century. It will be a tiny strip of dry land in a rising Islamic ocean covering a large part of Asia, north Africa, and all Europe.
Now it seems that its doom is much nearer, as European foreign ministers have declared that their countries are willing to recognize a self-declared State of Palestine. The information comes hot on the heels of announcements by Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay that that’s what they intend to do.
What this means in effect is that Europe will be joining in the war of annihilation the Arabs have been waging against Israel ever since it was legally established in 1948.
Israel can win a war against the Arabs, and probably against a nuclear armed Iran, but not against Europe, and especially not when America is under the leadership of an anti-Israel, pro-Islam president.
Melanie Phillips writes about this in the Spectator. Even she, to our mind, does not seem fully to comprehend the significance of what this EU policy – if it becomes policy, which it probably will – would be. Her analysis, however, is spot on:
Europe’s foreign ministers have threatened to recognise an independent Palestinian state to punish Israeli refusal to halt ‘illegal’ Jewish settlements. …
So let’s get our heads round this.
Israel, the victim of six decades of Arab aggression, is to be punished for frustrating ‘peace’ talks with its aggressors in which it is prepared to take part, on the grounds that it refuses to halt building homes which are said to be illegal but are not; while no punishment is to be meted out to the Arab aggressors who refused to take part in negotiations during the ten months that Israel did halt building these homes – within territories which during these past nine decades it has been entitled to settle under international law – even though these Arabs are the belligerents in the Middle East conflict and continue repeatedly to assert that they will never accept Israel as a Jewish state and who accordingly teach their children to grow up to hate and kill Israelis in order to achieve their never-renounced aim of destroying Israel; nevertheless these genocidal belligerents who have repeatedly turned down a state of their own ever since this was first offered to them more than seven decades ago because they wanted to wipe out Israel instead are to be rewarded by the EU while their victim is to be punished; and all to realise the creation of a state of Palestine which will surely turn in short measure into part of greater Iran, to the terrible cost of the Arabs living in such a state of Palestine and placing the free world in even more danger.
Question: are these morally bankrupt European politicians evil, or just very, very stupid?
Our answer is that they are evil, of course, since their intention is so intensely unjust as to be nothing less than evil – though we don’t rule out the high probability that they’re stupid too.
We see no suggestion that Europe will demand any concessions from Palestine on Israel’s security – or even that Palestine recognize Israel – in exchange for European recognition of Palestinian statehood. We can see no suggestion that in exchange for recognition of another Arab state within designated borders, the Europeans will demand that Arabs forfeit the “inalienable” right of over 1million of their number to reside in Israel (whatever its borders). Understandably. In making those demands, Europe would be putting itself in Israel’s place negotiating “peace” on the same terms. And will get nowhere, just as every Israeli government has got nowhere.
So, Europe, by recognizing Palestine, will also be tacitly supporting the ongoing war of Palestine against Israel. There is nothing to suggest that Palestine – led by the PA or by Hamas – will stay happily behind any borders. The “right of return” will still fuel resistance, as will Islamic fundamentalism. Israel will not cede Jerusalem, even if chunks of Judea and Samaria are handed over to a Palestine. The fighting will continue.
Will Europe put its money where its mouth is? Will it boycott and sanction Israel economically? Will it, in fact, implement the Arab boycott – which is part of the 60-year-old Arab war against Israel?
In other words, will Europe’s tacit support of Palestine by recognizing it as a de jure state become an active war alliance against Israel – economically and militarily? Does Europe propose to field an army at the Palestine borders – through the UN or under its own colors? Will the Europeans fight a border contest on behalf of Arabs? Will they fight the Israelis’ self-defense on behalf of Arabs? Will they, in effect, continue their unfinished business against Jews, in alliance (again) with Arabs?
Unless Europe is prepared to impose sanctions and fight Israel when Israel takes action against Palestinian rocket-launchers and terrorist acts, we cannot see how the European recognition of Palestine along stated borders (1948 armistice lines?!) will change the situation at all, except in one very important respect: peace will have been decoupled from statehood. The dangerous delusion that peace and Palestinian statehood can simultaneously be reached after negotiations – direct, indirect, Likud or Labor, mediated by quartets, or soloists – will be shattered, finally and forever. The Europeans will awaken to the fact that national self-determination for Palestine is defined as war with Israel (whether the nation has real or imaginary borders), for as long as Israel exists within any borders at all.
With the land-for-peace delusion gone, and Europe actively siding with the Arabs against Israel, it may be harder for Europe to pretend – even to itself – that it is motivated by compassion for a select group of Arabs, or justice, or the wish for peace, or even, as we hear so often, the best interests of Israel and Jews. The only mighty international law principles Europe will vindicate is that mighty principals make international law. Sadly, it will be the Jews who will (again) pay the price for the revelation of this banal truth.
What Israel should urgently do – in anticipation of any declaration of Palestinian statehood – is declare and secure the borders it is prepared to defend. That would at least put an end to the negotiability of that territory under the futile “land for peace” formula and place it firmly under the protection of the “war for war ” formula. If Israel defends its borders in war, she keeps them. Peace, should it ever come, will be for peace, and only for peace.
Which Israel might at last enjoy for a few remaining decades.
C. Gee December 15, 2010
More WikiLeaks information that it’s good for us to know:
On Iran and North Korea here.
The release of confidential diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks (and the pending release of thousands more) has undoubtedly done damage to our ability to win the trust of informants, foreign officials, and intelligence services. [We doubt it - JB.] There is ample reason to be angry over this scandal, but there is also reason to be encouraged. The content of the documents shows the roof is collapsing on the Iranian and North Korean regimes and that a coalition has formed to support regime change for both.
The begging among the Arabs for a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program has been widely covered, but their appetite to go even further and support regime change has not been. …
The cables also show optimism about the prospects for a policy of regime change. The chief of Kuwait’s military intelligence comments on the instability in Iran, and says that an event like the arrest of opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi could spark an uprising that ends the regime. President Aliyev of Azerbaijan is documented as having “viewed the situation as very tense within Iran and believed it could erupt at any time.”
The U.S. is also pressured by Meir Dagan, the director of Israel’s legendary Mossad intelligence service, to make moves to support regime change by supporting minorities like the Azeris, Baluchis, and Kurds, as well as the student democracy movement. Dagan is recorded as being “sure” that the regime could be toppled with U.S. support. That comes from a cable in August 2007, well before the uprising in the summer of 2009 following Ahmadinejad’s so-called “re-election.” Dagan’s confidence in fomenting regime change has surely been strengthened since then.
A cable from June 2009 reports that several Iranian contacts say that there is a “surge in Baluchi violence in the border area” so severe that the government may be losing control of the region. Violent clashes by Baluchis and other minorities have grown markedly since then. The Obama administration has put distance between the U.S. and the Baluchi militants, condemning their attacks and listing the Jundullah as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, as was previously done to the Free Life Party of Kurdistan.
Another document shows that a rare opportunity to undermine the regime will come soon. A source was told by former President Rafsanjani in 2009 that Ayatollah Khamenei was in the last stages of his life and could die from cancer within months. Once the supreme leader dies, the regime will face its biggest fracture since 1979 as the battle over his successor ensues.
Altogether, the cables give good reason to believe that Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Azerbaijan, and Lebanon would all support military action and even a strategy of regime change towards Iran. Yemen, Oman, Algeria, Morocco, and other countries can also be expected to quietly back it. …
Europe can also be counted on to support such a strategy. A cable from September 2009 records a French diplomat as saying: “The current Iranian regime is effectively a fascist state and the time has come to decide on next steps.” …
The cables also report on the Iranians’ failures in Iraq. …
The WikiLeaks disclosures also paint a disturbing picture for the North Korean regime. The cables show that South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Chun Yung-woo was told by two senior Chinese officials that the leadership of their country was increasingly supportive of a united Korea with Seoul as the capital. … [and] after the story broke, Chinese officials in Europe anonymously said that their country supported a united Korea “in the long term.” …
The WikiLeaks document dump, though its negative affects overshadow anything positive [do they?- JB], shows that the West does not have to accept the Iranian and North Korean regimes. If they survive over the long-term, it will be because the U.S. allowed it.
On the climate change scam here.
Just a year ago, the Climategate … files’ release probably led to the collapse of the Copenhagen climate conference — to which the Obama administration had committed no little amount of political capital — and certainly contributed to the public’s increasing skepticism about the supposed consensus of climate science. …
Almost exactly a year later, Julius Assange and the WikiLeaks website revealed another collection … [this time of] cable traffic among American diplomats all over the world …
On December 3rd, the Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom published one of a series of stories based on the cables, this one titled “WikiLeaks cables reveal how U.S. manipulated climate accord.” The United States really was applying considerable political and diplomatic pressure on other players; the scientific “consensus” had long since been subsumed by the pressure to score a political win. As the Guardian put it:
Hidden behind the save-the-world rhetoric of the global climate change negotiations lies the mucky realpolitik: money and threats buy political support; spying and cyberwarfare are used to seek out leverage. … bribes ….. no mean amount of money … [of] tens and hundreds of millions of dollars. …
This pressure, however, wasn’t limited to financial transactions: the United States was developing intelligence on the other participants in the conferences. …
The lesson of the WikiLeaks climate cables turns out to be very much like the lesson of the Climategate files last year. The most surprising aspect of this story is how thoroughly the cables confirm the dark suspicions of climate skeptics.
On Iran and Latin America here.
The WikiLeaks sabotage campaign against the US gave us a first person account of the magnitude of Ahmadinejad’s electoral fraud.
In a cable from the US Embassy in Turkmenistan dated 15 June 2009, or three days after Ahmadinejad stole the Iranian presidential elections, the embassy reported a conversation with an Iranian source regarding the true election results. The Iranian source referred to the poll as a “coup d’etat.”
The regime declared Ahmadinejad the winner with 63% of the vote. According to the Iranian source, he received less than a tenth of that amount. As the cable put it, “based on calculations from [opponent Mir Hossain] Mousavi’s campaign observers who were present at polling stations around the country and who witnessed the vote counts, Mousavi received approximately 26 million (or 61%) of the 42 million votes cast in Friday’s election, followed by Mehdi Karroubi (10-12 million)…. Ahmadinejad received ‘a maximum of 4-5 million votes,’ with the remainder going to Mohsen Rezai.” …
In April 2009 US President Barack Obama sat through a 50-minute anti-American rant by [Daniel] Ortega [Nicaragua's Sandinista president] at the Summit of the Americas. He then sought out Chavez for a photo-op. In his own address Obama distanced himself from US history, saying, “We have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms. But I pledge to you that we seek an equal partnership. There is no senior partner and junior partner in our relations.”
Unfortunately, Obama’s attempted appeasement hasn’t done any good. Nicaragua invaded neighboring Costa Rica last month along the San Juan River. Ortega’s forces are dredging the river as part of an Iranian-sponsored project to build a canal along the Isthmus of Nicaragua that will rival the Panama Canal.
Even Obama’s ambassador in Managua admits that Ortega remains deeply hostile to the US. In a cable from February illicitly published by WikiLeaks, Ambassador Robert Callahan argued that Ortega’s charm offensive towards the US was “unlikely to portend a new, friendly Ortega with whom we can work in the long-term.”
A wealth of vital information poured out for us through the conduit of WikiLeaks!
And we’re still waiting to hear of a single specific instance of any real harm being done to an individual anywhere, or convincingly to the United States as a whole, as a result of WikiLeaks’ “scandalous” operation.
Did anyone who voted for Obama, or even the media that shilled for him, imagine that he would go this far to abase his country?
Take precautions against your blood boiling when you watch this:
Video made by Eye on the UN
Victor Davis Hanson has a good article at PajamaMedia on how socialism – or “statism” – is failing all over the world (as it must: what cannot work will not work), just as America is being led on to the socialist ramp down to poverty and serfdom.
We agree with much that he says – as we often do with this insightful and well-informed writer – but there is one point on which we take issue.
Here’s part of what he writes:
Survey the world’s statist systems of every stripe, from soft to hard. One sees either failure and misery or stasis and lethargy. At the most extreme, a North Korea is turning into a Neanderthal society where subjects eat grass. Castro’s Cuba is imploding, and the Great Leader in his dotage is now renouncing his communist catastrophe. Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela proves that an even an oil-rich exporter can destroy itself with self-imposed socialism.
India progressed only when it adopted free markets. People do not outsource 1-800 numbers to socialist paradises. No need to review the Soviet collapse or the change in China from a peasant to a wealth-building capitalist society. Europe for a while longer works despite (rather than because of) democratic socialism. From Germany to Greece, Europe is moving away from the encroaching public sector that has nearly destroyed the European Union.
So the trend of the world — even after the meltdown of September 2008 — is away from statism, except in the United States. I don’t say that lightly or as a slur, but empirically. The Obama administration has absorbed large sectors of the auto industry and some segments of banking and insurance. The student loan program is federalized. …
The percentage of GDP that is government-run will markedly increase; the trillion-plus annual deficits, in gorge the beast fashion, will force higher taxation to pay for redistributive payouts and entitlements — or inflate the currency to erode saved capital. The UN is worshiped and reported to. Allies are now neutrals, and enemies are courted. We seek to prove that we are not “exceptional,” but simply one among many — a sort of socialist approach to foreign policy where all nations are the same.
Symbolically the president, before and during his tenure, has called for “redistributive change,” “to spread the wealth,” and openly suggested that, at some arbitrary point (known to him alone, but apparently sufficiently high enough to allow Costa del Sol and Martha Vineyard vacations) one need not make (as in, keep one’s earnings) additional income. I could go on, but you get the picture: Obama would like to take us down a path that leads inevitably to a Greece, even as the world is racing away from it.
He goes on to list five dangers of socialism.
One of them is under the heading of Demography. It suggests how socialism may explain shrinking populations.
When one demands cradle to grave care, a classical (now scoffed at) reason for childbearing (to change diapers for those who might one day change your own in gratitude) is destroyed. And if there is no struggle to create income and savings (the state provides all needs; the state ensures against all risks; the state takes away most income; the state gobbles most inheritance), why worry about transcendence or passing anything along to children — or why children at all?
So far, so good. If people are supplied with everything they need to survive, what should they strive for, what do they live for? Some might set themselves their own purposes, but many may be content to lie in the lap of the state and purr. And growl and grumble too, of course.
But Hanson goes on:
Agnosticism leads to a shrinking population and vice versa. If the state is the god, and defines happiness as social justice in the material sense, then the here and now is all that matters. The state defines morality as the greatest good for the greatest number — as it sees it.
Lost is a sense of individual tragedy, self-sacrifice, personal accountability for sin and transgression, and appreciation for a larger world beyond and after this one. A society that does not believe in a hereafter will be sorely disappointed that the state never quite satisfies its appetites. We see that hedonism well enough from Greece to California. “Never enough” (Numquam satis) is the new de facto motto.
No sane person loses a sense of individual tragedy. Everyone is doomed to die. Everyone, from the moment of his birth, suffers. And everyone in the course of his life does harm to other people, strive though he might not to. We are all hurt, and we all inflict hurt. An apt title for a biography of Everyman would be Poor Bastard!
Everyone endures disappointment. No appetite can ever be completely satisfied. Everyone has longings that are not material.
Almost everyone suffers remorse – which is an acceptance of personal accountability for wrong-doing. (Maybe not the Christian torturers and burners of heretics, and other such tyrants defending The Truth, religious or political.)
There is no world beyond or after this one. Death is the end of life. Death defines life. That is the meaning of “mortality”. A being can only be said to be alive if it can die.
The universe is a thing. No mind exists in it except the human mind, which is to say successive multitudes of mortal human minds. Only in each of us, embodied by the same dumb stuff as everything else, is there a self-conscious, reasoning, inventing “mind”. Strictly speaking, mind is a verb; it is an activity of the human brain that emerged at this end of an immensely long process of evolution.
The realm of the mind is infinite. Forever discontented, the uniquely human imagination roams wide. It discovers galaxies and electrons. It tries socialism and regrets it. It invents gods and heavens and hells – but they remain imaginary.
Unless someone can prove otherwise.
Jillian Becker September 15, 2010