Putrid Joe 2

The key question here that nobody seems to want to ask in the media is: What was [Hunter Biden] being paid for? He wasn’t being paid for his expertise. What was he being paid for? And what were the Ukrainians expecting to get in return? I think when you overlay the financial payments with the fact that Joe Biden as point person on Obama administration policy to Ukraine was steering billions of dollars of Western money to Ukraine it becomes crystal clear exactly why they were paying him money. They wanted access and they wanted to influence Joe Biden. And Joe Biden has been around a long time here, and he had to know exactly why his son was being paid.

So said Peter Schweizer to Mark Levin on Fox News Channel yesterday (September 29, 2019).

He convinced Levin – and us – that Joe Biden is deeply corrupt. (We admit we were not lacking in conviction to start with!)

As Vice President Biden he sold the power of his office.

Among other dirty deals, he blackmailed the government of the Ukraine.

Here’s the You Tube recording – sound only. Well worth listening to:

SORRY – YOUTUBE HAS REMOVED IT. WE HOPE YOU WILL SEEK IT SOMEWHERE ELSE. PETER SCHWEIZER IS THE BEST SOURCE OF THE FACTS OF THE MATTER.

John Solomon wrote at The Hill on April 1, 2019:

Two years after leaving office, Joe Biden couldn’t resist the temptation last year to brag to an audience of foreign policy specialists about the time as vice president that he strong-armed Ukraine into firing its top prosecutor.

In his own words, with video cameras rolling, Biden described how he threatened Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in March 2016 that the Obama administration would pull $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees, sending the former Soviet republic toward insolvency, if it didn’t immediately fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.

“I said, ‘You’re not getting the billion.’ I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,’” Biden recalled telling Poroshenko.

“Well, son of a bitch, he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time,” Biden told the Council on Foreign Relations event, insisting that President Obama was in on the threat.

Interviews with a half-dozen senior Ukrainian officials confirm Biden’s account, though they claim the pressure was applied over several months in late 2015 and early 2016, not just six hours of one dramatic day. Whatever the case, Poroshenko and Ukraine’s parliament obliged by ending Shokin’s tenure as prosecutor. Shokin was facing steep criticism in Ukraine, and among some U.S. officials, for not bringing enough corruption prosecutions when he was fired.

But Ukrainian officials tell me there was one crucial piece of information that Biden must have known but didn’t mention to his audience: The prosecutor he got fired was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings that employed Biden’s younger son, Hunter, as a board member.

U.S. banking records show Hunter Biden’s American-based firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, received regular transfers into one of its accounts — usually more than $166,000 a month — from Burisma from spring 2014 through fall 2015, during a period when Vice President Biden was the main U.S. official dealing with Ukraine and its tense relations with Russia.

The general prosecutor’s official file for the Burisma probe — shared with me by senior Ukrainian officials — shows prosecutors identified Hunter Biden, business partner Devon Archer and their firm, Rosemont Seneca, as potential recipients of money.

Shokin told me in written answers to questions that, before he was fired as general prosecutor, he had made “specific plans” for the investigation that “included interrogations and other crime-investigation procedures into all members of the executive board, including Hunter Biden”.

Most of the general prosecutor’s investigative work on Burisma focused on three separate cases, and most stopped abruptly once Shokin was fired. The most prominent of the Burisma cases was transferred to a different Ukrainian agency, closely aligned with the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, known as the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), according to the case file and current General Prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko.

NABU closed that case, and a second case involving alleged improper money transfers in London was dropped when Ukrainian officials failed to file the necessary documents by the required deadline. …

As a result, the Biden family appeared to have escaped the potential for an embarrassing inquiry overseas in the final days of the Obama administration and during an election in which Democrat Hillary Clinton was running for president in 2016.

But then, as Biden’s 2020 campaign ramped up over the past year, Lutsenko — the Ukrainian prosecutor that Biden once hailed as a “solid” replacement for Shokin — began looking into what happened with the Burisma case that had been shut down.

Lutsenko told me that, while reviewing the Burisma investigative files, he discovered “members of the Board obtained funds as well as another U.S.-based legal entity, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, for consulting service”.

Lutsenko said some of the evidence he knows about in the Burisma case may interest U.S. authorities and he’d like to present that information to new U.S. Attorney General William Barr, particularly the vice president’s intervention.

“Unfortunately, Mr. Biden had correlated and connected this aid with some of the HR (personnel) issues and changes in the prosecutor’s office,” Lutsenko said. …

But what makes Lutsenko’s account compelling is that federal authorities in America … uncovered financial records showing just how much Hunter Biden’s and Archer’s company received from Burisma while Joe Biden acted as Obama’s point man on Ukraine.

Between April 2014 and October 2015, more than $3 million was paid out of Burisma accounts to an account linked to Biden’s and Archer’s Rosemont Seneca firm … The bank records show that, on most months when Burisma money flowed, two wire transfers of $83,333.33 each were sent to the Rosemont Seneca–connected account on the same day. The same Rosemont Seneca–linked account typically then would pay Hunter Biden one or more payments ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 each. Prosecutors reviewed internal company documents and wanted to interview Hunter Biden and Archer about why they had received such payments …

Lutsenko said Ukrainian company board members legally can pay themselves for work they do if it benefits the company’s bottom line, but prosecutors never got to determine the merits of the payments to Rosemont because of the way the investigation was shut down. …

Some hard questions should be answered by Biden as he prepares, potentially, to run for president in 2020: Was it appropriate for your son and his firm to cash in on Ukraine while you served as point man for Ukraine policy? What work was performed for the money Hunter Biden’s firm received? Did you know about the Burisma probe? And when it was publicly announced that your son worked for Burisma, should you have recused yourself from leveraging a U.S. policy to pressure the prosecutor who very publicly pursued Burisma?

Which all goes to show that Joe Biden is corrupt.

In just one instance of his corruption, this is what he did: as vice-president of the US, he demanded from the state of Ukraine, in return for a billion dollars of American taxpayers’ money, that it stop an investigation into crooked transactions by a firm on whose board of directors his son Hunter held a colossally remunerated sinecure, by firing the investigator.

The pursuit of happiness 57

Gentlefolk in the 18th. century thought that to try to live happily was a reasonable aim, to judge by the statement of the great authors of the US Declaration of Independence. To them it appeared “self-evident” that every person had a “right” (“endowed by their Creator”, or, in other words, a natural right) to his life and his choice how to live it, which surely meant that he would live it as nearly to his heart’s desire as he could.

Horny handed sons of toil, even if as free under the law, were not expected, either by themselves or their betters, to achieve the same forms of happiness. Enough for them if they could earn their daily bread. For that they lived and strove. Their life was the striving. It occupied their hours, their days, their years, their bodies and their thoughts. Success was survival. Survival was for most of them the only reasonable attainable happiness. If some strove for more – excess, property, leisure – and attained it, then happiness abounded. (Happiness, that is to say, as contentment. Other forms of gratification – thrills, excitement, delights of the senses, scoring triumphs – are not our subject. They are experienced episodically and enjoyed to the degree the individual is capable of.)

The welfare state relieved the workers of the need to strive for survival. Now all could be philosophers. The joy of exploring the limitless sphere of the mind was open to all. Universal happiness would reign.

But doesn’t.

The reasons why people commit suicide are many and various, but what they all have in common is that they find life unbearable. So suicide rates might be taken as a gauge of happiness and the lack of it in a population.

The figures for those rates from the last few years (according to Wikipedia – and perhaps not entirely trustworthy) provide some surprises. (Worth noticing in passing – far more males kill themselves than do females everywhere.)

Highest suicide rate in the world: Greenland. Average 82.8 per 100,000 per annum. It is a welfare state.

Google reveals:

As part of Denmark, Greenlanders have access to one of the most extensive social welfare systems in Europe, including universal, nationalized medical care and free state education, including college.

(President Trump has asked Denmark if it would sell Greenland to the USA. Rhetorical question: Would life in Greenland be better, more bearable, happier if it became the 51st. state of the USA, which provides much less welfare? USA suicide average per 100,000 per annum, 14.5.)

Big drop to the next highest. Guyana 30.2, Lithuania 28.27, South Korea 26.6

The average for most European countries is between 12.57 (Germany) and 17 (Belgium).

Britain? Only 7.23!

China? 9.8

Iran 4.8   The state does most of the killing there.

Venezuela 3.2  Nature does it there, because the people are starving and have no medicines. Venezuela is – way beyond a welfare state – a socialist state.

Syria 0.1  Constant civil war rages there.

Pakistan 1.1   People are happy in Pakistan?

Haiti  – a truly miserable place of hunger and disease. Average suicide?  0.0

But back to the pursuit of happiness in the civilized West.

What went wrong? Is it possible that the strivers enjoyed the striving and its meager rewards?

Or did philosophizing bring the newly leisured to ask, “What is it all for anyway?“. And find no answer?

There are thousands of counselors – even millions, we would guess – telling unhappy people how to be happy. There are hundreds of thousands of books giving readers rules for living –  from obedience to which, happiness might be expected.

And there is religion. Religion is supposed to “give meaning to life”.

Does it answer the question “what is it all for anyway?”

Let’s look at an individual case of unhappiness. In America.

At the American Conservative, we found this letter, reproduced by Rod Dreher, to whom it was sent as if to an agony aunt:

Mr. Dreher,

The things you have been writing lately about alienated young men and mass shootings prompt me to reach out to you. I am not a young man anymore, but I am dealing with things that I did not imagine I would be when I was young and newly married. Back then, everything made sense. I feel like I need to tell my story.

My background is that I am a successful businessman (a kind of consultant) living in a well-to-do suburb of a Southern city. My wife and I married relatively early, and had two kids. The boys are in good colleges in other states. They are getting ready to head back to school next week. It has been a real pleasure having them here this summer. Our house becomes a tomb when they are not around.

Four years ago, my wife told me that she didn’t want to be married to me anymore. After almost 30 years, she had had enough. I did not see that coming. We almost never fought. We used to go to dinner together, take family vacations, do things together, etc etc. She just said that she thought she had hitched herself to a man too young, and now that the boys were older and out of the house, she was reconsidering her life. I asked her if there was another man. She said no, and eventually I believed her. I asked her if she wanted a divorce. She said probably so, but she wanted to wait until the boys got out of school. She is a reasonable person with a finance background, and knows that a divorce would cost us a lot at a time when we are supporting two kids in college.

She has a job she loves. I work from a home office. I was so glad when my company gave me the chance to do this. I miss the friendships in the office, but when you talk on your blog about wokeness in the workplace, I always find myself nodding along. A few years back, my company started getting engaged with “diversity and inclusivity” in the workplace. I noticed that every time they would run us all through one of those seminars, we would all come out of it more suspicious of each other. It was crazy. It was as if our bosses were trying to poison the office environment. I got to the point where as a white male, I saw my co-workers as potentially the people who would try to get me fired if I said one wrong thing by mistake. They might have seen me that way too. It was crazy. The more management pushed “diversity and inclusivity”, the more anxious things felt in the office. When the company was restructuring and offered people in my division the chance to work at home, I jumped at it, just to get out of that tense environment.

It was a blessing at first, but nowadays I wonder if that was the right thing to do. The idea of working from home seems great, until you realize that you don’t see people at all. I have a nice home office where I put in my 9 to 5, which is really more like 8 to 7, but everybody does that. If I’m being truthful, I stay in my office longer than I have to on most days, because there is nothing for me outside of it. My wife used to be my best friend. Now we just share a house and a bed. She has friends from her office, and goes out with them a lot. When all this started, I honestly thought she was seeing some guy. I’m not going into the details, but I’m truly convinced that she’s not. She’s just hanging out with other middle-aged women who are sick of their husbands too.

I used to think only men behaved like that. Mother and Daddy have both passed away, but they had a good marriage. Some of their friends got divorced when I was a kid, and it was always the man leaving his wife for a younger woman. They were very judgmental of them, but in a way I still think was right. They were Southern people (I think you know what I mean, Mr. Dreher), and that meant that they thought it was dishonorable for a man to do his wife like that. I internalized that honor code, and have always lived by it, and my Catholic faith. If my wife demands a divorce, I will give it to her, but I won’t marry again. How could I go through an annulment? I can’t say truthfully that this was not really a marriage. I meant it when I said my vows, and I believe my wife did too. I am not going to make bastards of my sons because my wife abandoned me and I want to be married again. Besides, there would be no marrying again for me anyway. I look at myself in the mirror — mid to late 50s, half-bald, pot belly, etc etc. What woman would want me even if I was free to marry her?

I was an only child, so I have no close family to speak of. We are Catholics. My faith is just about the only thing that keeps me going through all this, but it’s thin. My wife refuses to see a marriage counselor. I made the first steps to getting an appointment to talk to our priest, but I gave up because that was hopeless. I feel bad for our priest. He’s managing a big suburban parish all on his own. It would have taken forever to get an appointment, and there was no way he was going to be able to give us the time it would take to save our marriage, especially given that my wife doesn’t want to save it. Besides, there is nothing I’ve ever heard our priest say that tells me he is a man who could help us. He talks like one of those life coaches our company used to bring in for team building exercises, a guy who gets all his ideas from Hallmark cards.

She still goes to mass with me, but just out of habit. When I stand there listening to Fr give his cheerful but empty homilies, I think about what’s keeping me from going home and blowing my brains out. I’m not going to do this because I’m scared of pain and I’m scared of going to Hell. Also, I don’t want to hurt the boys, and make them feel like they did something to cause it or give them something to be ashamed of. However, I think a lot about how little I have to live for anymore. I am not even sure that the boys think of me much, except as “Good Old Dad”…

Nobody can see it. I stand there in church, wearing my coat and tie, and people probably think I have it all together. We drive nice cars, we live in a nice house in a good neighborhood, etc, etc. I am grateful to have a good job that has allowed me to provide for my family. By all the world’s standards, I’m doing well. I have “white privilege”. 

What a joke. When I first started working in my home office, I would dress up in a coat, no tie, and dress pants to go to “work.” It felt right to hang on to that habit. Since my marriage fell apart, I notice that some days I don’t even get out of my pajamas. I sit there at my nice desk doing all my work on my laptop, and go right back to bed at the end of the day without even taking a shower. I know this is pathetic, and if the boys were still at home, I would know to keep up appearances. This is my life.

When the boys graduate and don’t have to depend on us, I guess that will mean Decision Time. I will probably move out, though to all rights we ought to sell the house. I remember the day we bought it, and talking with my wife about that big dining room, and how we looked forward to the kids coming home with their wives and children for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Oh, we sure had big plans for that dining room. We bought a house with a fireplace because we dreamed about sitting around it with the grandchildren. All that is over now, and not because I wanted it to be. I feel so powerless. Maybe I would stay here if either one of the boys moved back, but given the fields they have chosen, I don’t look for that to happen, and even if it did, we would just be keeping up appearances for their sake. Southern people are real good at that, as you know.

What prompted me to write to you is your writings about the loneliness crisis. I am not some white trash 22 y.o. living in a trailer somewhere, playing video games, and living off his Mama, but I am completely isolated in my life. My “video game” is Excel spreadsheets. The friends I had back in the happier days were all “couples friends” through my wife. When she said she didn’t want to be married to me, we stopped having people over, and stopped accepting invitations to other people’s houses. After a few years, those invitations stopped coming. I tried to keep up these friendships with the husbands, but it was awkward. I told a couple of the guys I was closest to about the mess in my marriage, and they seemed sympathetic, but there wasn’t a lot they could do. They all had kids, and their couples friends. Two or three times I went to their dinner parties by myself, but you talk about awkward! I was embarrassed by it all, and just quit going. I miss those guys, and I even miss their wives. We used to be happy all together.

If this is “white privilege”, screw it. I stopped by the shoe repair shop a couple of weeks ago, and there were some black guys my age sitting around talking and laughing with each other. I envied them. I probably make 10 or 15 times more than them, but they are probably rich in ways that I used to be before I went “bankrupt”. I would trade all this so-called “white privilege” for a happy marriage, a strong family, and good friends. Mother and Daddy didn’t have a lot of money, but at least they had that. They also had a small-town church where they felt at home. How can anybody feel at home in a big parish like mine? I was taught to be charitable, especially to the clergy, and I do feel bad for our priest, who is carrying a heavy load. But this ain’t church. I’ve gotten to the point where I sit there during mass and I wonder how many of those men in the pews are just like me: barely holding it together, wondering what the hell we’re living for, ignored by our wives, and starving for friendship. God feels so far away. I have never doubted His existence, but these days, He feels like the Pope — a nice man who lives far away and who doesn’t see us.

I know I sound like I’m feeling sorry for myself. I guess I am. But damn it, I didn’t think things were going to work out like this. I did everything I was supposed to do, and it all fell to pieces anyway. I’m racking my brains trying to figure out how I can fix this, but my wife doesn’t want it to be fixed. She just wants out. I recognize that I am privileged economically and socially, but I’m here to tell you that if you were a working man who drove by my house, and saw me out front mowing our big lawn, you would think I had it made. In fact, you would be looking at a dead man, at a man who secretly hopes he falls over from a heart attack so he doesn’t have to keep carrying this weight of loneliness. At this point, my only purpose in life is to do what I have to do so my sons can have a good life or think they have a good life, until they get to my age and it falls to shit, and they end up doing just what their Good Old Dad is doing.

The thought just occurred to me as I’m writing this that the only real reason we will have to keep our household together after our sons graduate is if one of them can’t find a job, and has to live with us. That’s a sorry state to be in, knowing that the only thing that would keep you and your wife together is an unemployed grown-up child.

I appreciate the opportunity to get this off of my chest. I like reading your blog because even though it’s depressing sometimes, I feel like you talk about the real world, which is more than I get from my priest. I would just ask your readers to keep in mind that when they see people at church, in the store, and at other places, that those people might be suffering in ways that are not obvious. You think folks have it made, but they don’t. You see me getting out of my [luxury car brand] at church, with my wife, and we’re all dressed up and smiling, but from my very jaded perspective, we’re dead people who have no future. At least my wife has the girls from the office.

I’ve thought about asking my manager if I can come back to the office, but I know that’s not a solution. I’m the Great White Male, the source of all evil in the world. Given my run of luck, it would be about right for somebody to falsely accuse me of something, and end up taking away the last I have left from what started out as an American dream. I’d end up jobless and poor, and then the gun to the head might not seem so scary after all.

Sorry. Thanks for listening.

One thing we find particularly interesting about this “confession” is how little the man’s faith does for him. Fear of hell keeps him from suicide. That’s about all.

If he were not a believing Catholic, he might have developed some curiosity about the world he lives in. It has not occurred to him to go exploring in the infinite realm of the mind.

He was happier when his children lived with him. If he had grandchildren living near by he might be happy again. For a while, anyway. Until they grew up. But young men are not quick to marry now and raise a family.

Readers, your comments are needed.

Terrifying children 6

Plainly and simply, the Left is the side of evil. The sinister side.

At present it is mentally torturing millions of children.

Dennis Prager (with whom we often agree on political issues and always strongly disagree on religion) writes about the adult-made Children’s Climate Crisis:

The entire American Left – the mainstream media, the environmentalist movement and Democratic politicians in particular – are celebrating the involvement of teenagers and even younger children in protesting the world’s “inaction” with regard to global warming.

And not just the American Left, of course. The Left throughout the world is celebrating. A 16-year-old Swedish girl whose contempt for adults is breathtaking is an international hero. Congressional Democrats invited her to testify in Congress, and the United Nations has likewise invited her.

All those LEFTIES sit back in their comfy chairs and smile placidly as the kids shout about having the earth snatched from under them and their future confiscated by us right-wingers who refuse to abandon civilized life and revert to the life of savages under THEIR control!

The 16-year-old Swedish kid is called Greta Thunberg. Thunberg the Teenage Thunderer. (See her long Wiki entry here.) Prophet of earth’s imminent doom. Of whom President Trump (arguably the wittiest president) has remarked:

She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!

Dennis Prager goes on:

The mayor and city council of New York City further politicized their city’s public schools by allowing students to skip school to actively participate in a global warming protest.

The message of young climate change activists is: “You adults aren’t doing your job. As a result, we have no future.” As a sympathetic reporter – are there any non-sympathetic reporters? – for the Los Angeles Times put it, “Teens are still waiting for a sign that their elders get it.”

The Times’ coverage is typical. It reported: “Underneath the activism lies a simple truth: Young people are incredibly scared about climate change. They see it as a profound injustice and an existential threat to their generation and those that will follow.” …

“‘They do worry, and they worry kind of a lot,’ said Maria Ojala, an environmental psychologist at Orebro University in Sweden. …

It is critical to remember that hysterias – such as Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, “endemic and systemic racism in America”, the heterosexual AIDS “crisis” in America and the “rape culture” on American college campuses – are to the left what oxygen is to biological life. No oxygen, no life; no hysteria, no left.

Apparently, however, the left-wing hysteria about global warming leading to the virtual extinction of life on Earth has not moved enough adults. …

The “existential threat” scenario is another left-wing falsehood used to whip up hysteria that will lead to the Left’s control of the economy and society.

Consider this: If the Left didn’t tell them the world is going to end, they wouldn’t worry about it. They’d be enjoying their young lives, maybe even learning to appreciate that they [Americans] live in the freest country at the most prosperous time in human history. Instead, thanks to Leftists (who are children in adult bodies), they live in their grip of “existential eco-anxiety”.

This is but one more way in which the left abuses children (along with telling them they are neither boys nor girls but whatever they later choose to be; teaching them contempt for their country …

Right!

… and depriving them of the greatest source of morality, meaning, community and happiness — any of the Judeo-Christian religions).

Ah – just there, of course, is where we disagree with the writer. He seems to have forgotten hellfire!

But otherwise, yes, we agree.

It’s depressing, and it’s frightening.

The scariest movies are those featuring brainwashed children. This horror show is happening in real life.

 

Posted under Climate, Sweden, United Nations, United States by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Tagged with , , ,

This post has 6 comments.

Permalink

A vast glorious apostasy? 4

Why are young Muslims leaving Islam? A new generation of educated Muslims is starting to question the fundamentals of their faith.

Hasan Suroor writes at The Telegraph (India):

The Economist narrated the story of an American Muslim boy of Somali descent, Mahad Olad, whose immigrant parents tricked him into going on a holiday with them to Kenya where they had made arrangements for him to go to a seminary to ‘restore’ his failing faith in Islam. He had no idea about his parents’ plans until he landed in Kenya.

As soon as he stepped off the plane on a family holiday to Kenya, Mahad Olad knew something was wrong. His mother, a ‘very devout, very conservative, very Wahhabi’ woman, was acting strangely—furtively taking phone calls when she thought he was out of earshot. His suspicions would soon be proved correct. Mr Olad’s family, Somali immigrants to America and devout Muslims, had discovered that he had not only renounced Islam but was also gay. The holiday was a ruse, an intervention to save his soul. (The Economist, 15 March, 2018)

When he got wise of their plan to hand him over to the care of Muslim clerics who would ‘restore’ his faith, he got so frightened that he managed to escape. ‘In the dead of night he sneaked into his mother’s room, stole his passport and was whisked away by taxi to the embassy, which eventually returned him safely to America. He has not spoken to his family since,’ according to the above report.

Behind Olad’s story hangs a tale we don’t usually hear about: how Islam is facing a wave of desertion by young Muslims suffering from a crisis of faith. The story we normally hear is of an Islam growing from strength to strength, and how for all the phobia that exists around it, it remains the fastest growing religion with 1.6 billion followers across the world and acquiring new converts on an almost daily basis. What we don’t hear is that it is also being abandoned by moderate Muslims, mostly young men and women, ill at ease with growing extremism in their communities. The ranks of ex-Muslims is reported to be swelling. ‘As the number of American Muslims has increased by almost 50 per cent in the past decade, so too has the number of ex-Muslims,’ The Economist report said, citing a Pew Research Centre survey according to which 23 per cent of Americans raised as Muslims no longer identify with the faith. Most are young second-generation immigrants, but there are also older Muslims ‘married to devout Muslim spouses and driving children to the mosque to study the Koran, at weekends to cover up their apostasy’.

And it is not just an American or Western phenomenon. Even deeply conservative countries with strict anti-apostasy regimes like Pakistan, Iran and Sudan have been hit by desertions. The Saudis were taken aback when the American journal, The New Republic, revealed the scale of Muslim conversion to atheism in their country, and more widely in the Muslim world. The numbers were eye-popping, ranging from hundreds to thousands in some countries. The Editor-in-chief of FreeArabs.com says (Invisible Atheists, Ahmed Benchemsi, The New Republic, 24 April 2015):

When I recently searched Facebook in both Arabic and English, combining the word ‘atheist’ with names of different Arab countries I turned up over 250 pages or groups, with memberships ranging from a few individuals to more than 11,000. And these numbers only pertain to Arab atheists (or Arabs concerned with the topic of atheism) who are committed enough to leave a trace online.

The journal cited a 2012, WIN/Gallup International poll which found that 5 per cent of Saudi citizens—more than a million people—self-identified as ‘convinced atheists,’ the same percentage as in the United States. ‘19 per cent of Saudis—almost six million people—think of themselves as “not a religious person”. In Italy, the figure is 15 per cent. These numbers are even more striking considering that many Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Yemen, uphold the Sharia rule punishing apostasy with death,’ it pointed out.

It is claimed that the atheist-scientist Richard Dawkins’s God Delusion is the most downloaded book in the Middle East, particularly in Saudi Arabia. It is now being translated into Arabic and there are plans to offer it free to Arab readers. The trend is catching on despite the fact that in many Islamic countries, apostasy is punishable by death. Most Islamic countries oppose the universal declaration of human rights and have refused to sign it because it provides for the ‘freedom to change religion or belief’. 

The exact figure of former Muslims may never be known as most remain in the shadows to avoid detection. Those who have ‘outed’ themselves say they live in permanent fear for their own lives and safety of their families. In Pakistan, preachers have called for the houses of apostates to be burned down. They communicate through anonymous online forums claiming tens of thousands of followers, and loose global networks under the umbrella nomenclature, ‘Ex-Muslims’ and ‘Muslim-ish’. A Twitter campaign in Britain in 2015, had thousands of ex-Muslims from across the world tweeting their reasons for choosing to abandon their faith. These ranged from intolerance and inferior status of women to absence of freedom of thought and the idea of immutability of a seventh century doctrine. One -@Lib Muslim wrote: #ExMuslimBecause Misogyny, homophobia, stoning people to death, and killing apostates don’t suddenly become ‘respectable’ when put in a holy book. (Ali A. Rizvi, Huffington Post, 23 November, 2015)

Oxford University academic Faisal Devji has argued that by retaining ‘Muslim’ in their name, ‘ex-Muslims are recognizing the theological character of their renunciation’.

The Muslims among whom I was raised in East Africa included many who refused to pray or fast and were openly critical of religion. It would never occur to them to renounce Islam and proclaim atheism as a new identity or mission, which would have catapulted them back into a theological narrative. 

No, it wouldn’t. It doesn’t make sense. Atheism is not a new religious identity and certainly not a mission. Not believing in a god is not a theological position. So they refuse to pray or fast but they go on believing in Allah? Such opinions are not worth canvassing or discussing.

Simon Cottee, a British academic, has documented stories of many former Muslims in The Apostate: When Muslims Leave Islam. In each case, reasons for their decision differ, varying from religious bigotry and oppression, to violence in the name of Islam. Sometimes, as The Economist wrote in the 15 March, 2018 report, it could be a reaction to certain Quranic verses or the Hadith—the sayings of the Prophet Mohammad.

Often the verses that trigger this are controversial ones about slavery or gender that family members and imams cannot explain satisfactorily. Coming across the writings of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens sometimes has the same effect. Some chafe at sexism or homophobia. 

According to Faisal Devji::

Whether the converts are repulsed by the violent forms Islam has taken in places like Syria and Afghanistan or are backing up their claims for asylum, the conversions occur quietly and rarely as a result of proselytism. Nor do they tend to be accompanied by any transformation in the appearance, behavior or language of the convert. Analyzing the news reports suggests that these conversions are characterized by multiple quotidian and ambiguous motives. (The New York Times, 15 August, 2017)

Brian Whitaker, a noted Middle East correspondent and the author of Arabs Without God, debunks the explanation that the phenomenon is a reaction to the violent acts being perpetrated in the name of Islam.

While researching my book…I spent a lot of time trying to find out why some Arabs turn to atheism and none of those I spoke to mentioned terrorism or jihadism as a major factor… That is not particularly surprising, because atheism is a rejection of all forms of religion, not just the more outlandish variants of it.

Benchemsi in his Invisible AtheistsNew Republic article mentioned earlier, pointed out:

For the vast majority of Arab atheists, the road to disbelief begins…with personal doubts. They start to question the illogicalities found in the holy texts. Why are non-Muslims destined to hell, even though many of them are nice, decent people? Since God knows the future and controls everything, why would he put some people on the wrong path, then punish them as if he had nothing to do with their choices? Why is wine forbidden, yet virtuous Muslims are promised rivers of it in heaven?  

It is a significant common thread running through most of the accounts of ex-Muslims I’ve read: that it was NOT an easy decision to make. Some mulled for years before they were able to make up their minds as they struggled to reconcile what they saw as the contradictions between all the nice things they were taught about Islam and how it was actually practised. Before jumping ship, most apostates claim they made sincere efforts to clarify their doubts and overcome their scepticism— some learned Arabic and went back to original texts to make sure for themselves that they hadn’t got it wrong. It was only when—on the basis of their own independent reading of the scriptures—they concluded that they could not honestly continue to cling on to their faith, that they reluctantly took the plunge.

Many are said to suffer intense emotional and psychological trauma afterwards in a sign of how strongly Muslims feel about their religious identity, and Islam’s dominant presence in their lives … The loss of that identity leaves them in a social and moral limbo. There is at least one documented case of suicide—a young British Muslim, Irtaza Hussain, felt so disorientated and depressed that he went to seed and ultimately took his own life.

The trend has been described as a ‘ticking bomb’ with a new generation of educated Muslims starting to question the fundamentals of their faith.

How many? Is it a trend? Is it possible that islam will become Westernized (and so, in effect, neutralized) before the West becomes Islamized?

Is a vast glorious apostasy about to be seen spreading over the Islamic world?

It is a development greatly to be wished. And wishing looks for confirmation. But there isn’t much of that to be seen, even here in this article, is there?

Posted under India, Islam by Jillian Becker on Monday, September 23, 2019

Tagged with , , , , , , , , ,

This post has 4 comments.

Permalink

The climate lies (2) 3

To follow the post The climate lies immediately below, here’s a video (issued September 20, 2019, when the “children’s climate strike” was on) demonstrating: there is no climate crisis; the claim that there is such a crisis is a scam; the motive behind the scam is to promote a Leftist political agenda world-wide:

The climate lies (1) 8

Today (Friday, September 20, 2019), children are staying out of school in 150 countries to gather in the streets by which gesture their elders tell them they will help save the world from burning up.

Heralding this great salvationist event, kids were first sent to yap about man-made global warming to the US Congress.

James Delingpole wrote on September 18 at Breitbart about the Congressional climate hearings:

“I want you to unite behind the science,” said Greta Thunberg to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.

Finally, something on which the pig-tailed 16-year-old Swedish climate activist and I can agree. I too believe passionately that if the world’s governments are going to spend upwards of $1.5 trillion of our money a year on ‘combating climate change’ then at least they ought to have some credible evidence that this expenditure is necessary.

Perhaps, I thought, some of this credible evidence might be presented at today’s Climate Crisis Hearing, subtitled ‘Voices Leading the Next Generation on the Global Climate Crisis.’

Instead, all that I heard was the usual junk science, fake statistics, left-wing agitprop, and scaremongering nonsense regurgitated by kids — some claiming to have mental health issues — who’d been brainwashed at school by their left-wing, know-nothing teachers.

Here are just a few of the lies I spotted. My comments are italicised.

Committee Chairman Rep. Bill Keating (D-MA)

“We’re witnessing the effects of climate change daily, whether it’s storms, forest fires, floods, and other disasters occurring…”

These are weather events, not climate events. They have happened since time immemorial.

“…with increasing frequency and intensity.”

There is no evidence of this. On the contrary, we know, for example, that hurricane activity is currently at a historic low.

“Increased migration due to sea level rise.”

Not a single person, anywhere in the world, has migrated anywhere due to sea level rise.

“Threats to food and water.”

Increased CO2 levels are greening the planet. The misuse of agricultural land to grow biofuels poses a far bigger threat to global food supplies than climate change. There is no evidence that climate change has affected water supplies.

“This is the reality we are facing right now because of climate change.”

This is a reality which exists only in the parallel universe occupied by Democrats and RINO Republicans.

“I see it every time I go home.”

Parti-pris anecdote is not evidence, let alone science.

America knows how to lead in a crisis.

There IS no climate crisis.

Our witnesses would be happily and safer in school pursuing their dreams — not protesting and pushing their governments to act — if everyone were doing their part.

Your witnesses certainly SHOULD be in school. The fact that they are sitting here today and being encouraged to emotionally blackmail Congress into taking action, which will almost certainly make life worse, not better, for future generations, is little short of disgraceful.

It’s high time we picked up this fight and took the rest of the world with us. Waiting for other countries to do the right thing is making a bad bet on our future.

Unilateral disarmament was a bad idea during the Cold War arms race. It’s just as bad an idea with regards to CO2 emissions. China and India are rapidly expanding their economies regardless of CO2. Why should America hamstring its own economy when others are growing? This, essentially, is why President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Accord.

The IPCC report warns us that without cuts in carbon emissions the world could see an average sea level rise of 62 centimetres over the course of the lifetime of people born today. That’s over two feet. Scientists are gravely concerned that sea level rise could be even faster.

Sea levels rose by around 1.9 mm per year during the 20th century and have risen by around 1.8 mm per year since 1970. That’s 18 mm per decade, so 180 mm per century — or just 18 cm. You’d need a pretty massive increase in current trends to get anything close to a two-foot rise — and there is no evidence that this is happening or likely to happen.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL)

Climate change is real, and the best way to combat it is reducing our nation’s carbon emissions and that of the rest of the world.

Climate has been changing for the last 4.5 billion years; it’s true. There is no convincing evidence to suggest that man-made CO2 — ‘carbon’ — is significantly responsible. CO2 is not some magical control knob.

“Diversification,” “Market-driven technologies,” “Put the United States at the forefront of environmental technology.”

This is just the specious, faux-market language lawmakers use to try to persuade you that there’s nothing sinister about redirecting the entire economy towards the green decarbonisation scam.

Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) 

“Burning fossil fuels warms the planet and alters the earth’s climate. Scientists tell us that more than half of the carbon pollution that has been emitted into the atmosphere has occurred since that [first Congress] hearing [on Climate Change] in 1988.”

Carbon dioxide is a beneficial trace gas that greens the planet. Rebranding it ‘pollution’ is a lie. Since there is no evidence that anthropogenic CO2 is significantly warming the planet, there is no reason to worry about increases in atmospheric CO2.

Jamie Margolin, 17-year-old climate justice activist from Seattle

“Lobbyists from corporations that make billions of dollars off the destruction of my generation’s future.”

Leftist bullshit. The most dangerous lobbyists are those for the expensive, ineffective, environmentally damaging renewables industry. It’s much-scorned fossil fuels, which power the economy, keep hospital machinery working, get kids get to school, provide the synthetic material for the anoraks worn by idiot kids at climate protests…

“I want the entirety of Congress to remember the fear and despair that my generation lives with every day and I want you to hold on to it.”

Jamie is a tragic and pitiful indictment of the climate propaganda, which has deprived impressionable kids of their happy carefree childhoods by filling their heads with complete nonsense.

“Within my lifetime the destruction we have seen from the climate crisis will only get worse.”

Citations needed.

“The reality is my generation has been committed to a planet that is collapsing.”

Kids who think this should lay off the weed.

“The shellfish, orcas, salmon, and all the beautiful wildlife of my Pacific Northwest home is dying due to ocean acidification caused by the climate crisis”

Absolute nonsense, no matter how much of a stroppy, sulky teenager look you wear when you say this stuff. Ocean acidification is a green propaganda lie. [See this article for details] The oceans remain resolutely alkaline. There is no evidence that this non-existent phenomenon is killing shellfish, let alone killer whales. Why is Congress wasting its time listening to this second-hand propaganda?

Vic Barrett, 21 years old, Honduras

“Despite overwhelming adversity we organised our community and emancipated ourselves to protect our future. However the struggle continues for me and my people. As temperatures increase, sea levels rise, storms become more intense and frequent, and the coral reefs and fisheries on which we depend disappear, the oceanfront land that my family has inhabited for generations and that I’m supposed to inherit will be underwater if the U.S. federal government continues to promote a fossil fuel-based energy system.”

Just in case you ever doubted that green is the new red. This Marxist revolutionary language gives the game away.

“These frontline communities around the world are already feeling the effects disproportionately. These are made up of people like me: young, black and brown, LGBTQ, indigenous communities that place them at significantly higher risk than the general populace.”

Identity politics, too. This kid has been listening to too much leftist agitprop.

“I myself have felt the consequences of climate change directly. Growing up in New York I was impacted by the climate change-fueled Hurricane Sandy, which left my family and school without power.”

Sandy was not caused or exacerbated by ‘global warming.’ This is a leftist urban myth.

“I still experience grave anxiety about experiencing another climate driven disaster. As someone who already struggles with anxiety and depression…”

Sorry kid but your modish mental health issues are not a reason to hamstring the U.S. economy with pointless green regulation.

Benji Backer, 21 years old, American Conservation Coalition

“Markets and competition reduce emissions far more than heavy-handed regulation.”

The first sense talked by any of the kids addressing Congress today.

Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA)

“This whole thing is a charade. When you look at science, Miss Thunberg, when you look at facts, the facts are it wasn’t Waxman-Markey legislation that led to the U.S. leading the world in emissions reduction. It was actually folks doing the right thing. Through innovation, through energy efficiency, through conservation.”

Amen, bro.

Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA)

“We are facing an existential threat…an exacerbation of conflicts abroad are a threat to us all.”

The ‘climate change causes wars’ meme is another greenie/leftist urban myth. See, for example, my piece called “For The Last Time, No, The Syrian Crisis Was Not Caused By Climate Change.”

Greta Thunberg, 16 years old, Swedish climate activist

“People don’t seem to be very aware of the actual science.”

And guess which pig-tailed 16-year-old climate activist and school dropout is one of the worst offenders in this regard…?

And today John Nolte writes, also at Breitbart:

For more than 50 years Climate Alarmists in the scientific community and environmental movement have not gotten even one prediction correct, but they do have a perfect record of getting 41 predictions wrong.

In other words, on at least 41 occasions, these so-called experts have predicted some terrible environmental catastrophe was imminent … and it never happened.

And not once — not even once! — have these alarmists had one of their predictions come true.

Think about that… the so-called experts are 0-41 with their predictions, but those of us who are skeptical of “expert” prediction number 42, the one that says that if we don’t immediately convert to socialism and allow Alexandria Ocasio-Crazy to control and organize our lives, the planet will become uninhabitable.

Why would any sane person listen to someone with a 0-41 record?

Why would we completely restructure our economy and sacrifice our personal freedom for “experts” who are 0-41, who have never once gotten it right?

If you had an investment counselor who steered you wrong 41times, would you hang in there for number 42?

Of course not. You’d fire him after failed prediction two or three.

And if that’s not crazy enough, the latest ploy is to trot out a 16-year-old girt to spread prediction number 42, because it is so much more credible that way.

Sometimes you just have to sit back and laugh.

Anyway, I want you to have the data, so go ahead and print this out in advance of Thanksgiving dinner with your obnoxious Millennial nephew.

LIST OF DOOMSDAY PREDICTIONS CLIMATE ALARMIST GOT RIGHT

NONE.

ZIP.

ZERO.

NADA.

BLANK

DONUT HOLE

NIL.

NOTHING.

VOID.

ZILCH.

LIST OF DOOMSDAY PREDICTIONS THE CLIMATE ALARMIST GOT WRONG

Here is the source for numbers 1-27. As you will see, the individual sources are not crackpots, but scientific studies and media reports on “expert” predictions. The sources for numbers 28-41 are linked individually.

    1. 1967: Dire Famine Forecast By 1975
    2. 1969: Everyone Will Disappear In a Cloud Of Blue Steam By 1989 (1969)
    3. 1970: Ice Age By 2000
    4. 1970: America Subject to Water Rationing By 1974 and Food Rationing By 1980
    5. 1971: New Ice Age Coming By 2020 or 2030
    6. 1972: New Ice Age By 2070
    7. 1974: Space Satellites Show New Ice Age Coming Fast
    8. 1974: Another Ice Age?
    9. 1974: Ozone Depletion a ‘Great Peril to Life
    10. 1976: Scientific Consensus Planet Cooling, Famines imminent
    11. 1980: Acid Rain Kills Life In Lakes
    12. 1978: No End in Sight to 30-Year Cooling Trend
    13. 1988: Regional Droughts (that never happened) in 1990s
    14. 1988: Temperatures in DC Will Hit Record Highs
    15. 1988: Maldive Islands will Be Underwater by 2018 (they’re not)
    16. 1989: Rising Sea Levels will Obliterate Nations if Nothing Done by 2000
    17. 1989: New York City’s West Side Highway Underwater by 2019 (it’s not)
    18. 2000: Children Won’t Know what Snow Is
    19. 2002: Famine In 10 Years If We Don’t Give Up Eating Fish, Meat, and Dairy
    20. 2004: Britain will Be Siberia by 2024
    21. 2008: Arctic will Be Ice Free by 2018
    22. 2008: Climate Genius Al Gore Predicts Ice-Free Arctic by 2013
    23. 2009: Climate Genius Prince Charles Says we Have 96 Months to Save World
    24. 2009: UK Prime Minister Says 50 Days to ‘Save The Planet From Catastrophe’
    25. 2009: Climate Genius Al Gore Moves 2013 Prediction of Ice-Free Arctic to 2014
    26. 2013: Arctic Ice-Free by 2015
    27. 2014: Only 500 Days Before ‘Climate Chaos’
    28. 1968: Overpopulation Will Spread Worldwide
    29. 1970: World Will Use Up All its Natural Resources
    30. 1966: Oil Gone in Ten Years
    31. 1972: Oil Depleted in 20 Years
    32. 1977: Department of Energy Says Oil will Peak in 90s
    33. 1980: Peak Oil In 2000
    34. 1996: Peak Oil in 2020
    35. 2002: Peak Oil in 2010
    36. 2006: Super Hurricanes!
    37. 2005 : Manhattan Underwater by 2015
    38. 1970: Urban Citizens Will Require Gas Masks by 1985
    39. 1970: Nitrogen buildup Will Make All Land Unusable
    40. 1970: Decaying Pollution Will Kill all the Fish
    41. 1970s: Killer Bees!

THEY – the power-hungry Community Organizers of theLeft – want a pretext for establishing a permanent dictatorship over us.

That is what it’s about, and that is all that it’s about.

Any old faith? 11

It is indisputable that Christianity was the dominant religion of the West for centuries. What is disputable, though not determinable, is whether Christianity did more good than harm, or even whether it did any good at all. Certain moral rules widely believed still to be right and fine and necessary were theoretically applied all over Christendom, and whether those rules derived from Christian teaching or ancient laws and customs, and those in turn from a commonsensical way of dealing with human nature and its needs, cannot be ascertained. Laws, customs, moral rules, religious teaching, self-interest are all threads inextricably woven together in the woof and warp of history. But it is possible to say that Europe’s greatness began with its slow emergence from the darkness of the Roman Catholic Church’s tyranny, then also from the tyranny of the Protestant churches, to emerge eventually into the  Age of Reason, the Enlightenment, and our continuing age of science.

Sure, religion played its part, perhaps usefully for human progress. If we perceive that some ways of living and surviving contributed to us by – say – Christianity (however they got there) are still useful, there is no reason why we shouldn’t go on trying to live by them.  No reason at all why not. But if, fumbling about clumsily trying to grasp some elusive ill-defined slippery Good that we just know is in there somewhere, and in desperation simply say,”Well let’s just keep hold of the bundle and we’ll have it safe!”, and so cling to the whole package –  the ritual, the taboos, the superstition, the myths, the terror – we would not be making sense.

Even worse if we say, “All those old Moral Religions have those nice rules in them, so let’s keep one or other of them going, it doesn’t matter much which.”

Yet it was along such lines, it seems, the heir to the throne of the United Kingdom, Prince Charles, has been thinking. On his 60th birthday – November 13, 2008 – he announced that when he was crowned king he would not swear to “defend the faith”, as the wording of the traditional coronation oath requires him to, but rather to “defend faith”.

Any old faith? Well, one of the “moral” faiths. The Prince has an obvious fondness for Islam.

Is Islam a “moral religion”? It does not teach the same moral rules as Christianity and Judaism. It has no “golden rule”. It commands enslavement, wife-beating, mass murder, torture, polygamy. It’s defenders say, “Well, so do the Christian and Jewish scriptures.”  To which priests and ministers and rabbis retort, “But we don’t actually do those things. Not any more.”

Still, there is no apparent resolve among churchmen or politicians to keep Britain a Christian country or to stop it becoming an Islamic country.

Pockets of discomfort can be found. A little protest may be heard  – at, for instance, some Christian websites.

One such, Caldron Pool, reported a religious event that took place this month (September 10, 2019) at Westminster Abbey – the cathedral where the monarchs of England are traditionally crowned – and revealed that there is unease among Anglicans about what happened.

Here’s the report:

A Grand Mufti was approved to read from the Quran at Westminster Abbey last Tuesday during a memorial service for a British politician.

According to columnist Rev Dr Jules Gomes, the Grand Mufti of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Husein Kavazović, was invited to read a portion of the Quran from the cathedral lectern during a Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Paddy Ashdown, a diplomat who served as Leader of the Liberal Democrats from 1988 to 1999.

Rev Dr Gavin Ashenden, the former chaplain to the Queen, said the reading repudiates Jesus by validating Islam and asserting the legitimacy of Mohammad:

Reading the Koran in cathedrals is sometimes seen as a sign of civility, hospitality or inclusion. Instead, it validates Islam’s teaching that is predicated on the claim that the resurrection was a fraud and Jesus lied to his followers and the world.

When this happens, it is a sign that the hosts misunderstand the ambition of the Koran and the assertions of Mohammad. In this epistemological conflict between Jesus and Mohammad, the Gospels and the Koran, the core contradiction signified is that one source is authentic and the other is bogus.

By welcoming an uncritical reading of the Koran, Westminster Abbey asserts the legitimacy of Mohammad and in so doing repudiates Jesus. One has to wonder what their claim to be a Christian cathedral rests on at that point?

Rev Dr Ashenden was the Honorary Chaplain to Queen Elizabeth II from 2008 until his resignation in 2017 after objecting to a reading of the Quran in St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow.

We shouldn’t be surprised, really. It was Peter Hitchens, who back in 2016 warned, those who drive Christianity out of society are preparing the way for Islam. …

[He] said: “When they drive Christianity out of Europe, as they’re rapidly succeeding in doing, they will not create an atheist paradise. They will leave a space for Islam.”

Hitchens went on to warn that material prosperity, military force and anti-terror laws are not a reliable or sufficient defence against Islamic take-over. With Christianity out of the picture, the spread of Islam will be near impossible to resist.

“Those people who now campaign for Christianity to be driven, more or less, out of public life, out of education, and out of government, to become a purely private thing may be very unpleasantly surprised when, having succeeded doing that, they simply cleared a space for Islam to take over,” Hitchens said.

.
We don’t agree, of course. Our answer is “Neither.” But if enough persons of power and influence believe that having a country that is officially Christian will save it from Islam, what can they do about it? Imams mount the pulpit in Westminster Abbey, Prince Charles prepares to defend the Islamic faith, sharia courts proliferate throughout the land
.
And Britain has not been a religious country for a very long time. Thousands of churches have been turned into wallpaper storerooms. Yes, Catholics still go to mass; couples of all denominations get married in churches; parents have their children baptized; the bereaved have doctrinal nonsense read at interments about being sure and certain of resurrection and eternal life; but a pious people the British are not.
.
And in America …? True, more people here think (to us inexplicably) that the Trinity is more believable than Allah. But for how much longer?
.
We say, keep prosperity going and the military strong, implement all anti-terrorism laws, and be ready to fight Islam to destruction. 

Posted under Britain, United Kingdom by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Tagged with , , , ,

This post has 11 comments.

Permalink

Another day another laugh at the old Joe who would be President 1

Enjoy the clip. Extra words are not needed:

Posted under Videos by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Tagged with , , ,

This post has 1 comment.

Permalink

Russia 1

An illuminating article. For us, lifelong students of Communism and the modern history of Russia, almost as full of surprises as of affirmations.

Angelo M. Codevilla writes at CRB:

What 21st-century Russia is in itself, to its neighbors, and to America flows from the fact it is no longer the Soviet Union. As the red flag came down from the Kremlin on Christmas Day 1991, Russian president Boris Yeltsin, when asked what he thought of Communism, nearly wept as he replied: “I wish it had been tried somewhere else.” Vladimir Putin, who famously said that the USSR’s collapse had been a tragedy, nevertheless shares the Russian people’s consensus that their country was Communism’s first and foremost victim, and that no one knows how long it may take to live down its dysfunctions. To its neighbors, this Russia is a rebudding tsarist empire. To Americans, it is a major adversary despite the lack of clashing geopolitical interests.

After Communism

The Revolution of 1917 was possible because socialists, in Russia and throughout the Western world, believed that “present-day society”, as Karl Marx put it, is a jumble of “contradictions”, which could be resolved only by tearing down the pillars of the house. Once that was done, history would end: man and woman, farmer and industrial worker, producer and consumer, intellectual and mechanic—heretofore at odds—would live harmoniously, freely, and prosperously ever after.

Because they really believed in this utopian dream, the socialists gave absolute power to Lenin and Stalin’s Communist Party to wreck and reorganize—to break eggs in order to make a delicious omelette. But Communism, while retaining some of Marxism’s antinomian features (e.g., war on the family and on religion), became in practice almost exclusively a justification for the party’s absolute rule. For example, the economic system adopted by the Soviet Union and by other Communist regimes owed precisely zero to Marx, but was a finely tuned instrument for keeping the party in control of wealth.

The Leninist party is gone forever in Russia because, decades after its leaders stopped believing in Marxism, and after Leonid Brezhnev had freed them from the Stalinist incubus that had kept them loyal to the center, they had learned to make the party into a racket. That, and the residual antinomian features, made Russia into a kakotopia. Russian men learned to intrigue and drink on the job rather than work. Shunning responsibility for women and children, they turned Russian society into a matriarchy, held together by grandmothers. In a thoroughly bureaucratized system, each holder of a bit of authority used it to inconvenience the others. Forcing people to tell each other things that both knew not to be true—recall that “politically correct” is a Communist expression—engendered cynicism and disrespect for truth. The endless anti-religion campaigns cut the people off from one moral system and failed to inculcate another. Alcohol drowned unhappiness, life expectancies declined, and fewer Russians were born.

Religious morality? Communism not a religious morality? Not the same religious morality in certain vital respects? All red capes waving at us bulls!  But for the sake of what’s to come, we’ll only stand and paw the ground – and give a snort or two.

The Russian people rejected Communism in the only ways that powerless people can—by passivity, by turning to anything foreign to authority, and by cynicism. Nothing being more foreign to Communism than Christianity, Russians started wearing crosses, knowing that the regime frowned on this feature of the Russia that had pre-existed Communism, and would survive it.

A louder snort. But on:

No sooner had the USSR died than Russia restored the name Saint Petersburg to Peter the Great’s “window on the West”. Even under Soviet rule, Russians had gone out of their way to outdo the West in Western cultural matters—“nekulturny” (uncultured!) was, and remains, a heavy insult in Russia. Moscow let countless priorities languish as it rebuilt in record time its massive Christ the Savior cathedral to original specifications. As the Russian Orthodox church resumed its place as a pillar of the Russia that had been Christianity’s bastion against the Mongol horde as well as against the Muslim Ottomans, golden domes soon shone throughout the land. Whatever anyone might think of the Russian Orthodox church, it anchors the country to its Christian roots.

Few Americans understood Vladimir Putin’s rise to power at the close of the 20th century as the reassertion of a bankrupt, humiliated, resentful people looking to make Russia great again. Since then, Putin has rebuilt the Russian state into a major European power with worldwide influence. Poverty and a resource-based economy notwithstanding, it is on a sounder financial basis than any Western country. Corruption is within historical limits. The leadership is appreciated by the vast majority, whose national pride and solidarity dwarf those of Western publics. Nearly all Russians approve strongly of its absorption of Crimea. Russia effectively controls Ukraine’s eastern end, and has exposed the West’s incapacity to interfere militarily in the former Soviet empire. In the Middle East, Russia is now the dominant force.

In sum, the Russian bear licks its deep wounds as it growls behind fearsome defenses.

The Neighborhood

Russia’s Westernism is neither imitation nor love of the West. It is the assertion that Russia is an indispensable part of it. The Russians saved Europe from Napoleon, and from Hitler, too. That they did the latter tyrannically, as Soviets, does not, in their minds, disqualify them from their rightful place in Europe, or justify Europeans, much less Americans, trying to limit Russia’s rightful stature. Today’s Russian rulers are not gentler or nicer than the emperor who shook off the Mongol yoke—who wasn’t known as Ivan the Nice Guy. Like their forebears they are calculating Russia’s stature in terms of the limits—primarily in Europe—set by their own present power as well as by that of their immediate neighbors.

Russian writing on international affairs focuses exclusively on the country’s role as a member of the European system. By the 2030s, if not sooner, the Russian government will have filled such territory, and established such influence, as befit its own people’s and its neighbors’ realities, and will be occupied with keeping it. More than most, Putin is painfully aware of Russia’s limits. Its declining population is less than half of America’s and a tenth of China’s. Despite efforts to boost natality, its demography is likely to recover only slowly. Nor is its culture friendly to the sort of entrepreneurship, trust, and cooperation that produces widespread wealth. What, then, are Putin’s—or any Russian leader’s—national and international objectives?

As always, Ukraine is of prime interest to Russia because it is the crux of internal and external affairs. With Ukraine, Russia is potentially a world power. Without it, it is less, at best. But Putin’s pressures, disruptions, and meddlings have shown him how limited Russia’s reach into Ukraine is, and is sure to remain. Hence, Russia’s conquest of Ukraine east of the Don River signifies much less the acquisition of a base for further conquest than the achievement of modern Russia’s natural territorial limit in Europe. The 20th century’s events forever severed Ukraine and the Baltic states from Russia; even Belarus has become less compatible with it. Modern Russia is recognizing its independence, even as the Soviet Union at the height of its power effectively recognized Finland’s. As the Russian Federation’s demographic weight shifts southeastward—and Islamism continues to gain favor there—the Russian government will have to consider whether to shift its efforts from keeping the Muslim regions within the federation to expelling and building fences against them.

As the decades pass, post-Soviet Russia will have to work harder and harder to cut the sort of figure in Europe that it did under the tsars. That figure’s size is the issue. The Russian empire’s size has varied over the centuries according to the ratios between its and its neighbors’ national vigor and power. In the past, Poland, Sweden, Turkey, the Hanseatic powers, Germany, all have shrunken or swollen Russia. Borders and spheres of influence have varied. There is no reason why this should not be so in the future. Russia will neither invade Europe nor dominate it politically because its people lack the political will, and its state the capacity, to do either. During Soviet times, this will and this capacity were the product of the national and international Communist Party apparatus, now gone forever.

A glance back at this gargantuan human structure reminds us of how grateful we should be that it now belongs to history. The Communist faction that resulted from the 1918 split in the international socialist movement—like the rump socialist faction that ended up governing Europe after 1945, but unlike the fascist one—already intended to conquer the world. (Fascism, Mussolini’s invention, recalled some of ancient Rome’s peculiar institutions and symbols—the fasces was the bundle of punishing rods carried by the consuls’ lictors—and added governing Italy through business-labor-government councils. It was not for export.) Communists worldwide came under the firm control of the Soviet Party’s international division run by formidable persons like Andrei Zhdanov and Boris Ponomarev, disposing of virtually unlimited budgets and, after 1929, of the services of countless “front organizations.” These, the party’s hands and feet and its pride and joy, reached out to every imaginable category of persons: union members, lawyers, teachers, journalists, housewives, professional women, students, non-students. Each front organization had an ostensible purpose: peace, through opposition or support of any number of causes. But supporting the “Soviet line” was the proximate purpose of all. Through tens of thousands of “witting” Communists, these fronts marshaled millions of unwitting supporters, helping to reshape Western societies. Soviet political control of Europe was eminently possible, with or without an invasion, because the Soviet domestic apparatus had marshaled Soviet society, and because its international department and front organizations had convinced sectors of European societies to welcome the prospect.

The tools that today’s Russia wields vis-à-vis Europe are limited to commerce in natural gas, and to the opportunities for bribery that this creates—witness Russian Gazprom’s employment of former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder. Not only do European governments not fear being invaded by Russia, they refuse to diversify their sources of natural gas, and generally oppose American sanctions imposed on Russia because of its actions in Ukraine. The notion among European ruling parties that the voters who are in the process of rejecting them for various “populist” and nationalist options, are pining for Russian-style governance or tricked by Russian wiles is a baseless attempt to sidestep the ruling parties’ own failures.

The Lefty globalists think that? There’s a surprise! Whatever makes them think so? We see the populist movements as being unequivocally towards conservative nationalism, self-determination, personal liberty, not … neo-tsarism.

Europe’s rulers know that Russian military forces are not built to conquer the continent, because these forces lack the wherewithal for large-scale projection of power. Instead, they possess formidable capacity for what soldiers call “area denial”. This fits Russian leaders’ strategic goals, the people’s sentiments, and material constraints. The wars that today’s Russian military are built to fight are in areas that today’s Russian military sees most threatened by the U.S. and NATO, on its borders with Poland and Lithuania (where Russia crushed the Wehrmacht in 1944-45), and in Ukraine, north of Crimea. Russia’s military posture has ever been, and gives every sign of remaining, strategically defensive but operationally offensive. Now as before, when war seems imminent Russia’s operational doctrine calls for taking the initiative in a preemptive manner.

Although Russian strategy would be to surround and seal off foreign troops by air and ground, for the first time in Russia’s history, military manpower is scarce and precious. Economizing manpower is one reason why the country has fully integrated nuclear weapons in ordinary military operations, recalling nothing so much as President Dwight Eisenhower’s doctrine in the 1950s of “more bang for the buck”. To seal off the airspace, and to provide an umbrella for their ground forces, the Russians would use the S-400 air-missile defense system—the world’s best, which is now deployed around some 300 high-value locations. Strikes (or the threat thereof) by the unique Iskander short-range missile would preclude the foreign forces’ escape, as Russian troops moved in with Armata tanks, which carry the world’s best reactive armor.

Possession of perhaps the world’s best offensive and defensive strategic forces—comparable to America’s and far superior to China’s—is why Russia is confident that it can contain within limited areas the wars that it needs to fight. Because Russia has nothing to gain by military action against America or China, this arsenal is militarily useful only as insurance against anyone’s escalation of border disputes, and as the basis for Russia’s claim to be a major world player.

Priorities and Collusion

Russia loomed small in U.S. foreign policy from the time of the founding until the 1917 Bolshevik coup, because the interactions between America’s and Russia’s geopolitical and economic interests were few and mostly compatible. Given that these fundamentals have not changed, it would be best for both countries if their policies gradually returned to that long normal.

But for both countries, transcending the past century’s habits is not easy. The essential problem is that neither side’s desires, nor its calculus of ends and means, is clear to the other, or perhaps to itself. It seems that the main thing Putin or any other Russian leader might want from America is no interference as Russia tries to recreate the tsars’ empire. Thus Russia’s continuing relations with anti-U.S. regimes in Latin America can only be understood as Cold War inertia—the almost instinctive sense that what is bad for America must somehow be good for Russia. The U.S. government, for its part, while largely neglecting Russia’s involvement in the Western hemisphere, tries to limit its influence in Europe while at the same time reaching agreements concerning strategic weapons—a largely Cold War agenda. The soundness of these priorities on both sides is doubtful.

Both Russia and the U.S. fear China, and with good reason. The crushing size of contemporary China’s population and economy frightens the Russians. The fact that some Russian women marry Chinese men (disdaining Russian ones) embarrasses them and has made them more racially prejudiced than ever against the Chinese. Yet Russia aligns with China internationally and sells it advanced weapons, paid for with American money—money that China earns by trading its people’s cheap labor for America’s expensive technology. With these weapons as well as its own, China has established de facto sovereignty over the South China Sea and is pushing America out of the western Pacific. Nonetheless, the U.S. treats Russia as a major threat, including “to our democracy”. For Russia and America to work against one another to their common principal adversary’s advantage makes no geopolitical sense. But internal dynamics drive countries more than geopolitics.

Nowhere is this clearer than with the notion that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election—a charge which has roiled American public life for the past two years and counting. Interference in American life? That is what the Soviet Union was all about. By contrast, current concerns about Russia are a tempest, albeit a violent one, in a domestic American teapot.

In America, the Soviets worked less through the Communist Party than they did in Europe. Here [in America], they simply seduced and influenced people at the top of our society. Even in America prominent persons in the Democratic Party, academia, media, and intelligence services (or who would become prominent, e.g., future Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and CIA Director John Brennan), were Communists more or less openly. Far more important to the Soviets were persons convinced that Soviet and American interests were identical. Harry Hopkins, for example, who ran the U.S. government on President Franklin Roosevelt’s behalf, considered Stalin’s objectives to be so indistinguishable from America’s that the KGB considered him to be effectively Stalin’s agent. By contrast, Alger Hiss, an important State Department official, was one of many controlled Soviet agents within the U.S. government. But the compatibility between Hiss’s views and those of many in the U.S. ruling class was striking. For example, even after Soviet archives confirmed Hiss’s status as a Soviet agent, Robert McNamara, secretary of defense under Presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, like many of his class, angrily insisted on Hiss’s innocence.

The comradeship of American liberals and Soviet Communists lasted to the Soviet Union’s end. In May 1983, for example, in an incident widely reported at the time and confirmed by Soviet archives, former U.S. senator John Tunney visited Moscow and, on behalf of his friend and classmate—and prospective Democratic presidential candidate—Senator Edward Kennedy, proposed to KGB director Viktor Chebrikov that Kennedy work with Soviet dictator Yuri Andropov to “arm Soviet officials with explanations regarding problems of nuclear disarmament so they may be better prepared and more convincing during appearances in the USA” because “the only real potential threats to Reagan [in the 1984 election] are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations”. Kennedy promised “to have representatives of the largest television companies in the USA contact Y.V. Andropov for an invitation to Moscow for the interviews”. Collusion, anyone? Today, with the Soviet Union gone, its moral-intellectual imprint on our ruling class remains.

The contemporary notion of Russian interference, however, owes nothing to Russia. It began when, in June 2016, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) tried to explain how a trove of e-mails showing its partiality for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders got into the public domain, alleging that they had been hacked from its server by Russian agents. To this day, there is zero evidence for this, the DNC not having allowed access to that server by any law enforcement agency or independent party.

Throughout the rest of the 2016 campaign, this narrative merged with one from CIA Director John Brennan and other leaders of U.S. intelligence, who were circulating a scurrilous dossier, paid for by the Clinton campaign, that alleged Trump’s connections with Russia. The Obama Administration used the dossier as the basis for electronic and human surveillance of the Trump campaign. Together, these narratives prompted a two-year investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which found no basis for the dossier, or for a relationship between Russia and the Trump campaign. Nevertheless, the assertion of Trump’s indebtedness to Russia became the pretext for #TheResistance to the 2016 election’s result, led by the Democratic Party, most of the judiciary, the bureaucracy, and the media.

In Europe as well as in America, the establishment’s protagonists have pointed to Russia to allege that their rejection by the voters is somehow “undemocratic”. Larry Diamond in the Wall Street Journal, following Robert Kagan in the Washington Post, wrote that “in one country after another, elected leaders have gradually attacked the deep tissues of democracy—the independence [from sovereign voters] of the courts, the business community, the media, civil society, universities and sensitive state institutions like the civil service, the intelligence agencies and the police.” Voting against the establishnment, you see, is undemocratic!

What Are Our Interests?

Making impossible a rational public discussion of U.S. policy toward Russia is the very least of the damage this partisan war has wrought. American liberals believed the Soviet Union’s dissolution was impossible; conservatives flattered themselves that they caused it. Few paid attention to what happened and how. Once the Soviet Union was gone, the West in general and Americans in particular presumed to teach Russians how to live, while helping their oligarchs loot the country. Russians soon got the impression that they were being disrespected. At least as Soviets, they had been feared. The Clinton Administration was confident that Russia would become a liberal partner in the rules-based international order. At the same time Clinton tried to load onto Russia the hopes that the U.S. establishment had long entertained about global co-dominion with the Soviets. In the same moment they pushed NATO to Russia’s borders—a mess of appeasement, provocation, and insult. Long-suffering Russians, who had idolized the West during the Soviet era, came to dislike us.

As the George W. Bush Administration fumbled at the new reality, it tried to appease Russia by continuing to limit U.S. missile defenses in fact, while publicly disavowing the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty; it formally objected to Russia’s dismemberment of Georgia, while effectively condoning it. The incoming Barack Obama Administration tried to go further along the same self-contradictory line by withdrawing anti-missile support from eastern Europe, and quietly promising even more restraint. But when, in 2014, Putin seized Crimea, Obama imposed serious economic sanctions and agreed to place NATO and American troops in Poland and the Baltic States. Then, for the most tactical of domestic political considerations, the Obama Administration, and hence the U.S. establishment, decided to try explaining the course and results of the 2016 U.S. election campaign as “Russia’s attack on our democracy”.

What are the American people’s interests in Eurasia, and how big are these interests? Although today’s Russia poses none of the ideological threats that the Soviet Union did—and despite the absence of geopolitical or any other clashing interests—Russia is clearly a major adversary in Europe and the Middle East. Its technical contributions to China’s military, and its general geopolitical alignment with China, are most worrisome. What, other than Soviet inertia and wounded pride, motivates the Russians? The U.S. maintains economic sanctions on Russia. To achieve precisely what? From both sides’ perspective, it is difficult to see what good can come from this continued enmity.

Today’s triangular U.S.-Russia-China calculus is not comparable to the Soviet-Chinese military confrontation of the 1970s and ’80s, when both the U.S. and China feared Soviet missiles, and the U.S. best served its own interests by implicitly extending its nuclear umbrella over China. Today, the problems between Russia and China stem from basic disparities that U.S. policy obscures by treating Russia as, if anything, more of a threat than China. The best that the U.S. can do for itself is to say nothing, and do nothing, that obscures these disparities. Without backhanded U.S. support for close Russo-Chinese relations, the two countries would quickly become each other’s principal enemies.

Ongoing U.S. anxiety about negotiations with Russia over weaponry is nothing but a legacy of the Cold War and a refusal to pay attention to a century of experience, teaching that arms control agreements limit only those who wish to limit themselves. Russia violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty by developing the Iskander missile; the U.S. was right to withdraw from the agreement, but mistaken in ever expecting another country not to arm itself as it thinks best. In that regard, Americans should not listen to, never mind accommodate in any way, Russia’s (or any other country’s) objections to U.S. missile defenses. These are in our clear and overriding interest. Defending America as best we can—against missiles that might come to us from anywhere, for any reason—is supremely our business.

What then are America’s legitimate, realizable demands on Russia?

Putin’s Russia, by its 2015-18 intervention in Syria and its management of Turkey, achieved the tsars’ historic desire for a warm water port. Although the former conquest is firm, keeping Turkey friendly to Russia must ever be troublesome. Absent a friendly Turkey, Russia’s renewed control of Crimea and even the Syrian bases will be of very limited worth for any but defensive purposes. Whatever else might be said of its role in the Middle East, Russia has brought more stable balance to local forces than ever in this young century. Only with difficulty will American statesmen regret that our old adversary now deals with some of the problems that bedeviled us for a half-century.

The U.S. would be more secure geopolitically were Russia merely one of several European powers. But it has always been an empire, whose size has varied with time. An independent Ukraine has always been the greatest practical limitation on Russia’s imperial ambitions. That is very much a U.S. interest, but is beyond our capacity to secure.

U.S. relations with Russia regarding Ukraine are analogous to U.S. relations with Europe 200 years ago. Our overriding interest then was to prevent the Europeans from holding any major part of the Western hemisphere. By stating America’s intention to guard its hemispheric interests while forswearing meddling in European affairs, the U.S. encouraged them to face that reality. Today’s Russia realizes it cannot control Ukraine except for its Russian part, nor the Baltics, never mind the Visegrád states. The U.S. could lead Russia to be comfortable with that reality by reassuring it that we will not use our normal relations with Ukraine or with any of Russia’s neighbors to try to define Russia’s limits in Europe. We should realize that our setting such limits is beyond America’s capacity, and that it undercuts the basis for fruitful relations.

The U.S. prefers the Baltic States, and especially Ukraine, to be independent. But we know, and should sincerely convey to Russia, that their independence depends on themselves, and that we regard it as counterproductive to make them into American pawns or even to give the impression that they could be. Ukraine’s independence—and hence Russia’s acceptance of it as inevitable—depends on Ukraine retrenching into its Western identity, rejecting the borders that Stalin and Khrushchev had fixed for it, and standing firmly on its own feet—as, for example, by asserting its Orthodox church’s independence from Russia’s.

Wise U.S. policy would remove sanctions that previous administrations placed on Russia on behalf of Ukraine. Fruitless strife has been these sanctions’ only result. For example, they emboldened Ukraine to suppose it had U.S. support for presuming it had the same right to navigation in the Sea of Azov, passing under a Russian bridge, as it does in the Atlantic Ocean.

But in accord with the Monroe Doctrine, we should be willing to wage economic war on Russia—outright and destructive—on America’s own behalf, were the Russians to continue supporting anti-U.S. regimes in the Western hemisphere. If you want economic peace with America, we would say, stop interfering in our backyard. We Americans, for our part, are perfectly willing to stop interfering in your backyard.

In sum, nothing should be geopolitically clearer than that the natural policy for both America and Russia is not to go looking for opportunities to get in each other’s way.

The man who got it right – has gone 24

Being strong supporters of President Trump, we are not happy making moan about his dismissal of John Bolton as his national security adviser. But make moan we do.

For one very important thing, John Bolton has always been right about how to deal with terrorist organizations like the Taliban, and terrorist regimes like Iran’s: they should never be negotiated with because to do so is to legitimize them. Now it seems that it is over this issue (inter alia, presumably) that the President and Bolton have parted company. (If proof were needed that in this matter Bolton is right, the Iranian government cheered the news of Bolton’s departure.)

Mark Steyn appreciates John Bolton as much as we do.

He writes  (in part … read it all for the wit, the sheer fun):

I first met the new National Security Advisor a decade and a half or so back, in a roomful of European prime ministers and foreign ministers. He delivered a line that stunned the joint:

‘International law does not trump the US Constitution.’

I was standing next to the Finnish Prime Minister, Paavo Lipponen, who had a genuinely puzzled looked on his face and eventually inquired of me: “He is making a joke, no?”

No. Since then, I’ve interviewed him at Fox a couple of times and passed him in the green room on many others. …

I first wrote about him fourteen years ago, after Bush nominated him as UN Ambassador. This is from The Spectator of March 19th 2005 – and my remarks about “the code-speak consensus of the global elite” are relevant, I think, to what drove Trump’s rise – as Mr Bolton was surely aware:

If you’re going to play the oldest established permanent floating transnational crap game for laughs, you might as well pick an act with plenty of material. What I love about John Bolton, America’s new ambassador to the UN, is the sheer volume of ‘damaging’ material. Usually, the Democrats and media have to riffle through decades of dreary platitudes to come up with one potentially exploitable infelicitous soundbite. But with Bolton the damaging quotes are hanging off the trees and dropping straight into your bucket. Five minutes’ casual trawling through the back catalogue and your cup runneth over:

The UN building?

If you lost ten storeys, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.’

Reform of the Security Council?

If I were redoing the Security Council, I’d have one permanent member … the United States.’

The International Criminal Court?

Fuzzy-minded romanticism … not just naive but dangerous.’

International law in general?

It is a big mistake for us to grant any validity to international law.’

Offering incentives to rogue states?

I don’t do carrots.’

But he does do shtick. I happen to agree with all the above statements, but I can see why the international community might be minded to throw its hands up and shriek, ‘Quelle horreur!’ It’s not just the rest of the world. Most of the American media are equally stunned. …

In a roomful of Euro-grandees, [Bolton] was perfectly relaxed … [He] thwacked every ball they served back down their gullets with amazing precision. …He seemed to relish their hostility. At one event, a startled British cabinet minister said to me afterwards, ‘He doesn’t mean all that, does he?’

But he does. And that’s why the Bolton flap is very revealing about conventional wisdom on transnationalism. Diplomats are supposed to be ‘diplomatic’. Why is that? Well, as the late Canadian prime minister Lester B. Pearson used to say, diplomacy is the art of letting the other fellow have your way. In other words, you were polite, discreet, circumspect, etc., as a means to an end. Not any more.

None of John Bolton’s detractors is worried that his bluntness will jeopardise the administration’s policy goals. Quite the contrary. They’re concerned that the administration has policy goals — that it isn’t yet willing to subordinate its national interest to the polite transnational pieties. In that sense, our understanding of ‘diplomacy’ has become corrupted: it’s no longer the language through which nation states treat with one another so much as the code-speak consensus of a global elite.

For much of the civilised world the transnational pabulum has become an end in itself, and one largely unmoored from anything so tiresome as reality. It doesn’t matter whether there is any global warming or, if there is, whether Kyoto will do anything about it or, if you ratify Kyoto, whether you bother to comply with it: all that matters is that you sign on to the transnational articles of faith. The same thinking applies to the ICC, and Darfur, and the Oil-for-Fraud programme, and anything else involving the UN. …

The normal Western deference to the [UN] has grossly over-inflated its ‘legitimacy’ and ‘moral authority’. That’s what John Bolton had in mind with his observations about international law:

It is a big mistake for us to grant any validity to international law even when it may seem in our short-term interest to do so — because, over the long term, the goal of those who think that international law really means anything are those who want to constrict the United States.’

Just so. When George Bush Sr. went through the UN to assemble his coalition for the first Gulf war, it might have been a ‘diplomatic triumph’ but it was also the biggest single contributing factor to the received wisdom in the decade and a half since that only the UN has the international legitimacy to sanction war — to the point where, on the eve of Iraq’s liberation, the Church of England decided that a ‘just war’ could only be one approved by the Security Council. That in turn amplifies the UN’s claim to sole global legitimacy in a thousand other areas, big and small — the environment, guns, smoking, taxation.

Yet the assumption behind much of the criticism of Bolton … is that, regardless of his government’s foreign policy, a UN ambassador has to be at some level a UN booster. Twenty years ago, the then Secretary of State George Schultz used to welcome the Reagan administration’s ambassadorial appointments to his office and invite each chap to identify his country on the map. The guy who’d just landed the embassy in Chad would invariably point to Chad. ‘No,’ Schultz would say, ‘this is your country’ — and point to the United States. Nobody would expect a US ambassador to the Soviet Union to be a big booster for the Soviets. …

A slyer argument is that yes, the UN’s in a terrible state, what with the Oil-for-Fraud and the Congolese moppets and the flop response to Darfur and the tsunami, but that’s all the more reason why America needs an ambassador able to build consensus for much-needed reforms. The problem with that seductive line is that most of the proposed reforms are likely to make things worse. Again, Bolton is right to be dismissive about restructuring the [UN] Security Council. Even as the Second World War victory parade preserved in aspic, it makes little sense.

I can find only one example of a senior UN figure having the guts to call a member state a ‘totalitarian regime’. It was former secretary-general Boutros Boutros-Ghali … and he was talking about America.

A Secretary-General of the United Nations dared to name a member country as a totalitarian regime, and the country he named was the United States!

John Bolton’s sin isn’t that he’s ‘undiplomatic’, but that he’s correct.

This ship of state has lost a great navigator.

Older Posts »