What’s Going On in Iran?

Have you been following the (mostly non-) news from Iran? Interesting isn’t it? China and Hong Kong, Iran and the Iranian people, plus the Iraqis and the Lebanese, it’s almost like people like being free. The best I’ve seen is Michael Ledeen in FrontPage Magazine.

The country is on fire. All classes, all tribes from the Persians to the Kurds are fighting the security forces and the Revolutionary Guards, the Basij, and an increasingly divided Hezbollah. The leaders of the regime are unrestrained in their crackdown. In order to keep their actions as far as possible from public view, the leaders have killed off the internet links with the outside world, and despite American boasts that Washington can turn on the internet at will, the regime has kept communications with Iranians at historic minima.

The proximate cause of these demonstrations was an overnight increase in the cost of gasoline. I say “proximate cause” because the anti-regime outbursts had been ongoing for months, if not years. The increased price for gasoline was significant, but not decisive. So far as I can determine, the crowds of demonstrators chanted political slogans, not economic ones. They wanted an end to the Islamic Republic, not lower prices for gas.

The Iranian eruption is only one of many in the region, as Lebanese and Iraqis also joined the protest against Tehran. Iraqis, led by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, called for an end to the Hezbollah domination of the country as part of a general demand for a thoroughgoing political transformation.

The most radical demand is the downfall of the whole sectarian, political Islamist system. This is the first and most important demand in Tahrir Square — they want a separation of religion and politics. This demand includes the government resigning, especially Adil Abdul-Mahdi, the prime minister.

Now mind, these guys aren’t asking for American boots, they want to be free, but on their terms, which are unlikely to be anything acceptable to Washington, let alone the heartland. But it’s their countries and their people. We can, perhaps, aid and abet a bit, but it’s up to them, to structure their lives as they see fit.

Because make no mistake, Iran under its present rulers is an implacable foe of the United States and keeps us from doing other things in the region that we should be doing. But this isn’t something, like Hong Kong, where one side is demanding democracy on the Anglo-American model.

Why that warning? Morris Ayek witing in en.qantara.de may have that answer.

Here, too, the distinctiveness of Arabic – although it has the same meaning in other languages – is useful in looking at Arab civil wars as wars between social entities. Non-Arab civil wars such as the Russian, the French, the Spanish, the Greek and so forth were between citizens. Groups that identify themselves through modern ideologies and institutions aim at the triumph of these ideologies. Indeed, they may be seen as a concomitant struggle in transition.

Arab civil wars, on the other hand, are wars between kinsfolk, however they may appear in their early stages. The social group becomes partisan, whether sectarian, tribal, party political or ethnic. The key difference between the two types of conflicts is that Arab civil wars have no end. In the non-Arab world, it is the ideology which is defeated, whilst with us Arabs, there can be no end. The Sunni, the Shia, the Alawite and the Christian will remain, like the Arab, the Kurd and the South Sudanese.

Social ties are the true driver

The only point of Arab civil wars is dominion, which is characterised by warlords who live by perpetuating war as a source of wealth, subjugating and plundering. They differ from other civil wars, in which each warring party has sought to build an economy with which to replenish resources and to guarantee victory. Ironically, this revenue-generating model is similar to the normal workings of an Arab economy.

Quite a lot more at the link, and I think it summarized pretty well why Anglo-American style democracy is not going to break out any time soon in the Middle East.

 

America stands with Hong Kong, and Hong Kong Reciprocates

This was a week that may well change the world. A lot of it is down to the Hong Kongers.

You remember that election they had earlier this week for mostly meaningless jobs (which is why China lets them vote, of course). There were absolutely no protests and nobody can complain the elections were anything but fair and free. And the protestors candidates won 17 of the 18 councils.

That is pretty amazing after all e disruption we’ve seen. It really is the population protesting. Then in a remarkably bipartisan effort, the United States announced that the Secretary of State is now required to report at least once a year on whether China is living up to the treaty that returned Hong Kong from Britain. What’s on the line for China? Their trade links with the largest economy on earth and the US will hold their personnel personally responsible via sanctions. You know the same tools that killed the Soviet Union and are killing the Mullahs of Iran

In response to that, Hong Kongers had something to say.

 

Of course the Chinese (and the HK puppet government) are already whining about it. PJ Media reports:

The Chinese ministry of foreign affairs has released a statement condemning President Trump for signing a bill in support of the Hong Kong protesters. Beijing told Trump to stay out of it because Hong Kong and China are “one country,” albeit with “two systems.” It is an internal affair, China says, and therefore none of Trump’s business. […]

“We are officially telling the U.S. and the handful of opposition politicians in Hong Kong who follow America’s lead to not underestimate our determination to protect Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability, don’t underestimate our belief to protect the ‘one country, two systems policy’ and don’t underestimate our capabilities and strategies in protecting our country’s sovereignty, safety, growth and rights,” the ministry said in response to these bills.

“This so-called bill will only make the Chinese people, including our compatriots in Hong Kong, further understand the sinister intentions and hegemonic nature of the United States. It will only make the Chinese people more united and make the American plot doomed to fail,” China’s foreign ministry added.

Yeah, whatever. Sometimes one just has to do what is right, and when the police are ing live ammunition already, how much worse can it really get?

In truth, these protestors remind me of a group of farmers, who started a war with the greatest empire in the world and won through, back in April of 1775. Will the Hong Kongers win? I don’t know, but like us long ago, they know they have to hang together or they’ll assuredly hang separately. I do know this, America’s place is always on the side of freedom. Keep that beacon fire lit, there are people who still believe. In us, and in the dream.

Sadly those do not include Britain. As you may know, the President will be in London on Monday for NATO’s 70th anniversary. Sounding almost exactly like the Chinese, Boris Johnson is pleading with Trump not to talk about their upcoming election. I wonder why. Could it be that he is afraid the British people will figure out that he is selling Britain out (as they sold out Hong Kong) to the EU, which increasingly resembles das vierte Reich?

 

Of Eagles and Dragons

Sometimes the government gets it right. From The Federalist by Madeline Osburn.

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill in support of pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong on Tuesday evening. If signed into law, the legislation would empower the Trump administration to sanction Chinese officials who violate human rights.

The bill will now go to the House of Representatives, which approved a similar version last month, and then on to President Trump’s desk for consideration.

Rather late in the day for the protesters, but there is this, the dragon remains afraid of the eagle, as it should, and it will have an effect. China may be the number two economy in the world, but still, it’s only around 65% of the US economy and built primarily on stolen western technology.

“The people of Hong Kong see what’s coming – they see the steady effort to erode the autonomy and their freedoms,” said Republican Sen. Marco Rubio on the Senate floor.

Under the Senate bill, the U.S. secretary of State is required to certify, at least once a year, that Hong Kong retains enough autonomy of its government’s decisions to qualify for trade special considerations.

Officials in both Beijing and Hong Kong angrily condemned the the passage of the bill. A statement from Hong Kong said they expressed “deep regret” about the legislation, and commented that “foreign legislatures shouldn’t interfere with its internal affairs.”

It appears as if marching with the US flag and calling for liberation still matters, at least to many of us. Now to see if the UK will follow or will stick with their original sell out of Hong Kong. If you remember only the New Territories were covered by that 99-year lease. Hong Kong itself was a Crown Colony with the UK holding full sovereignty.

It’s nice when we can report that Congress is doing something both right and useful instead of simply making trouble for its own citizens.

Still, there are a lot of Hongkongers who are and will pay an inordinate price for holding the line. Good for them. They know the rule, “Where the government fears the people, there is liberty, where the people fear the government, there is tyranny”.

 

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

John F. Kennedy

Impeachment Farce: The Bureaucracy Has Forgotten Who the Boss Is

Sharyl Attkisson wrote an article yesterday in The Hill. She highlights something most of us probably knew but hardly anybody is saying.

There’s an important revelation from the first day of impeachment hearings that I haven’t heard discussed. It has to do with the witnesses’ strange notion of how foreign policy works.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent and Acting Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor both accused President Trump of interfering with U.S. foreign policy in Ukraine. They indicated they differed with Trump’s skepticism of Ukraine’s newest leadership, and they disagreed with Trump’s apparent decision to keep Ukraine at a measured distance while he assessed the situation.

They further said that Trump gave approval for his attorney and adviser, Rudy Giuliani, to develop a communications channel on Ukraine diplomacy that was outside the “regular” diplomatic chain. Some in the media have dubbed that a “shadow campaign.”

The Huffington Post wrote, “State Department officials say Rudy Giuliani’s foreign policy backchannel ‘undercut’ U.S. policy on Ukraine.”

And Ambassador Taylor testified, “The official foreign policy of the United States was undercut by the irregular efforts led by Rudy Giuliani.”

There must be some confusion.

That’s a very kind way of saying it, I think. Actually, I prefer the way Ace put it.

The President, Not Stuffed Shirt Paper-Pushers in the Federal Bureaucracy, Is Invested With the Foreign Policy Power by the Constitution

Which is spot on. From Article II, Section 2:

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

That’s about as clear as distilled water in a crystal glass. Presidents make foreign policy, not obscure ambassadors and deputy assistant secretaries of state. They do what the president and the secretary of state tell them to, or they should be fired, for cause and without benefits.

And that is the exact problem in Washington (Westminster has the same problem). The bureaucrats have gotten too big for their britches and now think they run the show. That simply is not acceptable. We elect the president not least to run foreign policy as we want it run.

One of the main reasons Trump is president is to end the forever wars that are bleeding the country, without bringing any advantage to it, see Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and others, where we have, if anything, made bad situations worse. It has, however, been good for arms makers and their sycophants in Washington.

President Eisenhower had some good warnings for us as he said farewell almost half a century ago.

Throughout America’s adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people. Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt both at home and abroad. […]

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United State corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence-economic, political, even spiritual-is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Essentially, we have failed that charge. And so, now, the time has come to try to repair this oversight, in short, to “Drain the Swamp”. It is going to be a long difficult project, but if we are to remain America, it must succeed.

Veteran’s Day

In 2012, as we gathered to salute our veterans, and the rest of the Anglosphere gathered to remember their war dead, there was no one to take our salute for the Great War. Florence Green, a member of the Women’s Royal Air Force, died on 4 February 2012 two weeks short of her 111th birthday, at King’s Lynne. She was the very last veteran of World War I. And so, while we remember them, never again will we see them on this side.

Maybe it’s just as well, they likely wouldn’t be impressed with the mess we have made on both sides of the Atlantic. But we have an advantage, we have their example for a guide. They were indeed our best, equal in every way to those who came a mere twenty years later, and even in the conflicts, hot and cold, that followed that war. Only a fool thinks there will ever be a war to end all wars.

But 101 years ago, at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, the war we still call the Great War came to end, first by an armistice and then by treaty. The things left undone in the negotiations would have much to do with the Second World War, but that is nothing to do with the warriors.

Interestingly, it is also Old Michaelmas Day, the day when St Michael the Archangel threw out Devil out of Heaven. St Michael the Archangel is, of course, the leader of the heavenly army that will defeat Satan at the end of days. He is also the Patron of Paratroopers, and some say the Infantry. So a very appropriate day, wonder if they thought of it in 1918.

The date of July 4, 1917 marks a watershed. It was the day that a battalion of the 11th US Infantry marched through Paris, proclaiming “Lafayette, we are here”. A recognition that we owed France much for their help in the Revolution.

It marked a watershed in the war, as the promise of new fresh troops, lifted the morale of the Allies, and hurt that of the Central Powers. But more than that, it was a watershed for America, too. For the first time, we put our soldiers in harm’s way to save other people. The world changed.

It took us till about 1942 before we realized that now we were the leaders of the free world, that the British and the Empire had impoverished themselves in the Great War, and could no longer control events. In 1945, we took that mantle, somewhat unwillingly, but decisively. And thus was born both the Pax Americana and “The American Century”.

And all through the century, our troops have been everything we could have wished, and the best ambassadors America could have wished for. A good many years ago now, Robert Leckie called them “Planetary Soldiers”. It was and is an apt description.

 

Admiral Nimitz rather summed up our armed forces when he said after Iwo Jima:

Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue

Flouting the Electorate, Brexit at 3 1/2

We get enough crap from our politicians, but it is as nothing compared to our British cousins lately. Ours often do things we don’t want and don’t do things we do, and it angers us. But ours haven’t yet asked us to decide something for them, and then literally called us stupid and done their best not to d what we said. That is exactly what the UK Parliament has been doing for three and a half years. So, where does Brexit stand? It’s complicated. Too complicated for me to explain it. But Katie Hopkins takes a shot at it in FrontPage Magazine. It’s the best status report I’ve seen.

“Katie – what on earth is happening with Brexit?”

It’s a question I have been desperate to answer and have found myself unable to answer — as one day of uncertainty has led into the next. The word ‘unprecedented’ is commonplace in the UK right now.

Trying to give an accurate update on Brexit has been like trying to sell yogurt in the desert. It is past its shelf life even before it reaches the store.

But despite the attempts by our Remain-leaning Parliament to frustrate the will of the people, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has finally found a way forward, albeit a long way from the “Leave” we were promised for Oct. 31. Even the ceremonial 50p coins minted for the occasion will be smelted down in despair.

Bojo has called a General Election for December 12, 2019 in the hopes of breaking the endless deadlock over Brexit. And despite a desperate effort by the opposition to allow 16-year-olds and 3 million EU foreigners (who do not have British citizenship) to vote, Boris has prevailed.

The British people will go back to polls and vote for a new government to take them into 2020. Boris believes it will give him the majority he needs and a fresh mandate to Get Brexit Done and get us out of the European Union — his battle cry since he entered the House of Commons.

But the risks are considerable and the choices are stark. This will not be just a vote on Brexit. This election merges Brexit votes and party loyalty. There are crossed allegiances at every turn. Leave-supporting Labour voters will never vote Conservative, for example — similarly entrenched in their view as a Never-Trumper is inside the GOP.

Keep reading at the link.

This week Nigel Farage (who has a pretty good radio show on LBC in England) spent about a half-hour interviewing President Trump. It’s very good, and will likely explode some head in both country’s media, and that’s an excellent thing.

See what I mean. 😉

The Britons I speak to every day are getting pretty fed up with their politicians, well since Ben Sasse is one of my Senators, I understand. Most of them forcefully state that one cannot possibly ever trust a politician. Well, where they ever got the idea that one could is beyond me.

What I have found is that I have to back off and find a calm port in a storm. Jess talked about this a bit after her recovery in the convent. Like her, I have a restlessness that keeps bringing me back to the battle, but downtime is important too. Her reflection on that is at the link above. In any case, one of the gifts she gave me was bringing back my love of poetry. And like her, one of my favorites is T. S. Eliot’s Little Gidding and it speaks to this.

If you came this way,
Taking any route, starting from anywhere,
At any time or at any season,
It would always be the same: you would have to put off
Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more
Than an order of words, the conscious occupation
Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying.
And what the dead had no speech for, when living,
They can tell you, being dead: the communication
Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.

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