In foreign affairs, unlike math, the ultimate determination of success or failure isn’t immediately obvious. Major foreign events — wars, revolutions, coup d’etats and treaties — can take a long time to play out.
The Korean Conflict, once nearly as unpopular as the Vietnam War, is now probably viewed by most Americans as a “good war,” and Washington’s 63-year defense of Seoul as a worthwhile investment. Thirty-seven thousand U.S. servicemen, a number that dwarfs those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, didn’t die in vain.
Historical judgments are temperamental and subject to change until sufficient good news or bad piles up — and even then things can change given the mood and character of the nation looking back.
Few Democrats really want to expend much effort touting the foreign-policy successes of Jimmy Carter; more Democrats, but still not many, want to remember how ardently they believed Ronald Reagan would bring on Armageddon. Read the rest of this entry »
Here are 18 separate attacks he unloaded while in China and Laos:
- There are still too many poor children in the United States
- Too many children in America are not getting enough to eat
- Despite America’s wealth, we’re not providing sufficient educational resources in poor communities
- America lacks the “political will” to help poor inner cities that have suffered discrimination.
- Americans are “lazy” in thinking we don’t need to learn about foreign nations.
- Colin Kapernack is justified protesting the National Anthem, as the NFL star is raising “real, legitimate issues” about things America needs to be talked about.
- America suffers from racism, conflicts between ethnic groups, and discrimination against immigrants.
- Criticisms of America being imperfect and having problems with racism discrimination are accurate.
- America still has “situations where women are not treated equally.”
- America “didn’t think through” our policy in Vietnam War, as dropping cluster bombs proved counterproductive to “winning hearts and minds.”
- America’s treatment of Native Americans was “tragic.” Read the rest of this entry »
VIENTIANE, Laos (AP) — President Barack Obama on Monday became the first sitting U.S. president to step foot in the isolated Southeast Asian nation of Laos, opening a three-day visit meant to rebuild trust and close a dark chapter in the shared history between the two countries.
Obama is one of several world leaders coming to the country of nearly 7 million people, where the one-party communist state tightly controls public expression but is using its moment in the spotlight as host of the annual meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to open up to outsiders.
Under a steady, tropical rain, Obama arrived late Monday and began a full day of ceremony and diplomacy Tuesday morning with a meeting with Laotian President Bounnhang Vorachit. The president was greeted by a military band and a display of the troops at the presidential palace.
The visit comes during what is probably Obama’s final trip as president to Southeast Asia, a region that has enjoyed intense attention from the U.S. during his tenure. Obama’s frequent visits to oft-ignored corners of the Asia Pacific have been central to his strategy for countering China’s growing dominance in the region. By bolstering diplomatic ties in Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar, the Obama administration has declared it wants to compete for influence and market access in China’s backyard.
In Laos, Obama will wrestle with the ghosts of past U.S. policies.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the U.S. rained bombs on Laotian villages and the countryside as America’s war with Vietnam spilled across the border. The Laotian government estimates that more than 2 million tons of ordnance were released during more than 500,000 missions — one bomb every eight minutes for nine years. Read the rest of this entry »
Ronald Fliegelman built explosives for the Weather Underground, a far-left group that launched a domestic bombing campaign in the 1960s and ’70s, including one explosion inside NYPD headquarters.
“When you’re young and you’re confident, you can do anything. So, yeah, you play with it, and try to build something. The timer is the whole thing, right? It’s just electricity going into the blasting cap.”
— Ronald Fliegelman
But when the group dissolved, Fliegelman managed to safely fade away into the square life. For 25 years, he worked as a public special-education teacher, retiring to a quiet life in Park Slope, Brooklyn, according to “Days of Rage: America’s Radical Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence” (Penguin Press).
And he’s unapologetic about his past, according to author Bryan Burrough.
“Ron is proud of what he did,” he told The Post.
The Weather Underground first organized in 1969 as a splinter of the Revolutionary Youth Movement within the ’60s protest group Students for a Democratic Society.
“Without him, there would be no Weather Underground.”
– Brian Flanagan — Former Weatherman
Their members were mostly white and middle class, advocating the complete overthrow of the US government.
Under the leadership of co-founder Bill Ayers — who went on to become a University of Illinois professor whose political relationship with then-candidate Barack Obama was scrutinized during the 2008 presidential campaign — the group also pushed for a sexual revolution.
“Their slogan? ‘Smash monogamy’.”
To achieve their goals, the militant group — popularly known as the Weathermen, derived from the Bob Dylan lyric, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows” — embarked on a years-long bombing campaign, targeting places it considered pillars of US imperialism, capitalism, racism and anything contrary to their “ism” of choice: communism.
To protest the US invasion of Laos, for example, they bombed the Capitol Building in 1971. That same year, they targeted the headquarters of the state Department of Corrections in Albany for the deaths of 29 inmates during the Attica prison riot. They even busted LSD guru Dr. Timothy Leary out of a California jail and helped smuggle him to Algeria in 1970 — the same year they issued a “Declaration of a State of War” against the United States.
“We believed Third World countries would rise up and cause crises that would bring down the industrialized West, and we believed it was going to happen tomorrow, or maybe the day after tomorrow,” a former Weatherman tells Burrough.
“The myth, and this is always Bill Ayers’ line, is that Weather never set out to kill people, and it’s not true — we did,” group member Howie Machtinger tells Burrough. “You know, policemen were fair game.”
Despite the tough talk, the group was already in crisis not long after its formation.
On March 6, 1970, a bomb exploded prematurely inside a town house at 18 W. 11th St. in Greenwich Village. Three Weathermen were killed — the two building the bomb, Terry Robbins and Diana Oughton, and another, Ted Gold, who was entering the building.
If the Weathermen were going to wage a war, they needed to do so without killing their own members, Burrough notes.
“No one knew what to do. I gave a thought to giving up, and I had a gun pulled on me and was told I was not leaving,” recalls Fliegelman. Read the rest of this entry »
Radical Islamists may soon gain a foothold on the Mediterranean. The U.S. Navy must be ready
Mr. Cropsey, the director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for American Seapower, served as a naval officer and as deputy undersecretary of the Navy in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
Seth Cropsey writes: The slaughter of 21 Egyptian Christians by Islamic State militants on Feb. 15 took place on the Libyan shore of the Mediterranean. Former Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan recently told the Times of London that unless order is restored in his country, ISIS will secure territory on Libya’s Mediterranean coast within two months. This would increase its potential for attacks in Italy, Greece and elsewhere in Europe. An October ISIS publication pictured St. Peter’s Square under a black flag, and ISIS’s sentiments about Christians are clear.
Greater ISIS access to the Mediterranean would be deeply troubling to the region and a large strategic advance for the terrorist group. ISIS’s prospects for significant naval power are remote. But small boats, fishing vessels, smugglers, and merchant craft that carry concealed weapons could hijack, sink, or rake commercial shipping including cruise liners in the central Mediterranean. This would divide the eastern part of the inland sea from its west and expose Europe’s southern littoral to attacks and kidnappings.
Tehran today wields considerable power over two landlocked capitals of the region, Baghdad and Damascus. Its sea control is more expansive. Besides Iran’s border on the Persian Gulf it is now the major power in Beirut on the Mediterranean and San’a, the capital of Yemen, on the Bab El-Mandeb, the narrow strait that sits astride the southern gateway to and from the Suez Canal.
Turkish naval combatants’ current incursion in the Eastern Mediterranean—to escort a natural gas exploration vessel operating without permission in Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone—has ended the stability that existed in the region since the Cold War standoff between U.S. and Soviet naval forces. And in 2013 Russian President Vladimir Putin announced plans to establish a permanent squadron in the Mediterranean. Read the rest of this entry »
“I’m not saying let’s live forever,” says Zoltan Istvan, transhumanist author, philosopher, and political candidate. “I think what we want is the choice to be able to live indefinitely. That might be 10,000 years; that might only be 170 years.”
“I’d say the number one goal of transhumanism is trying to conquer death.”
Istvan devoted his life to transhumanism after nearly stepping on an old landmine while reporting for National Geographic channel in Vietnam’s demilitarized zone.
“I’d say the number one goal of transhumanism is trying to conquer death,” says Istvan.
Reason TV‘s Zach Weissmueller interviewed Istvan about real-world life-extension technology ranging from robotic hearts to cryogenic stasis, Istvan’s plan to run for president under the banner of the Transhumanist party, the overlap between the LGBT movement and transhumanism, and the role that governments play in both aiding and impeding transhumanist goals.
Approximately 10 minutes. Produced by Zach Weissmueller. Camera by Justin Monticello and Paul Detrick. Music by Anix Gleo and nthnl.
For Defining Ideas, Victor Davis Hanson writes: Will the United States in its near future be hit again in the manner of the 9/11 attacks of thirteen years ago? The destruction of the World Trade Center, the suicide implosions of four passenger airliners, and the attack on the Pentagon unfortunately have become far-off memories. They are now more distant from us than was the Vietnam War was from the Korean War.
“Drone strikes continue at a vastly accelerated pace under President Obama, but they also raise existential hypocrisies about our approach to terrorism.”
Two questions will determine whether radical Islamic terrorists will attack us once more: one, are the post-9/11 anti-terrorism protocols that have so far stopped major terrorist attacks still viable and effective, and, two, is Al-Qaeda or an analogous Islamic terrorist organization now still as capable as were Osama bin Laden’s henchmen in 2001?
Unfortunately, the answers to those two questions should raise great concern. Take the current status of the so-called war on terror in all of its manifestations. The southern border of the United States is less guarded than at anytime since 9/11.
For all practical purposes, enforceable immigration laws simply no longer exist. The result is that we have no idea who is crossing into the United States or for what purposes.
“The President’s six years of concentrated Islamic outreach has not won over the Muslim Middle East.”
Some of the Bush-Cheney anti-terrorism protocols are still in operation—renditions, preventative detention, the Guantanamo detention center, and the Patriot Act. However, the NSA, IRS, and VA scandals, along with the Edward Snowden and Wikileaks revelations, have created an understandably strong public backlash against government surveillance, which will lead to new protocols limiting our ability to monitor terrorist suspects. Read the rest of this entry »
When The Hollywood Left Becomes a Parody of Itself: Robert Redford to Play Dan Rather in Adaptation of Mary Mapes’ Book ‘Truth’Posted: July 9, 2014
With only a few additions and corrections, in red.
The Hollywood Reporter reports: Robert Redford has signed on to play Dan Rather in Truth, a film based on the 2005 memoir Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power. In spite of the film’s humorous title, “Truth” is not intended to be a comedy.
The book, written by Rather’s producer Mary Mapes, centers on the firestorm that erupted in September of 2004 after Rather reported that George W. Bush had received special treatment while serving in the Air National Guard during the Vietnam War, a report that was based on documents that turned out to be forgeries.
Mapes’ memoir, Truth and Duty, was published in 2005. The Peabody Award-winning producer had worked for CBS’ 60 Minutes since 1999. After Rather’s
erroneous poorly-vetted, dishonest, career-ending report on Bush aired, it became the subject of harsh criticism legitimate inquiry and an internal investigation was launched. Subsequently, Mapes was accused of lapses in judgment journalistic malpractice and was fired, while Rather’s career and reputation were jeopardized destroyed. (read more)
Murdock writes: Regarding the Keystone XL Pipeline, Obama might have a logical leg on which to stand if KXL were the first such conduit to ravage the American heartland with miles and miles of rivets and steel. Alas for Obama, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark are long gone, and so is this country’s pipeline virginity. It lost its innocence, in that sense, in the same century when those explorers conducted their Corps of Discovery Expedition from St. Charles, Mo., to what is now Astoria, Ore., between May 1804 and September 1806.
The first U.S. pipeline to transport oil started carrying crude from Coryville to Williamsport, Penn., in 1879. In the intervening 135 years, the continental USA became interlaced with 2,600,000 miles of these steel tubes. And how many more such miles would KXL add? A grand total of 852. That’s an increase of 0.033 percent, or the rough equivalent of delivering an extra faucet to the plumbing department at your local Home Depot. Believe it or not, this microscopic change in America’s pipeline profile fuels this massive controversy.
If you are laughing, you are enjoying an unintentional comedy titled “I’m Thinking It Over,” starring Obama. Despite five neutral-to-positive reports from the State Department, he has spent five years and five weeks deeply contemplating KXL. Obama simply refuses to make up his mind and, instead, demands even further study.
Rich Lowry writes: Robert Gates has roiled the Beltway with perhaps the least surprising bombshells ever to appear in a tell-all Washington memoir.
Did anyone believe that President Barack Obama was passionately committed to the Afghanistan war that he escalated at the same time he announced a withdrawal date?
Is there anyone who thought that Hillary Clinton in 2008 calibrated her position on the Iraq War based on the state of play in Anbar province rather than the Iowa caucuses?
Does anyone consider Vice President Joe Biden a thoughtful policy maven with a long history getting stuff right?
Before going any further, let’s stipulate that there’s something a little unseemly about the Gates book project. Gates has always seemed among the most old-school and stand-up of our political elites, yet even he reverted to the all-too-typical play of keeping notes for his memoir, to be published as soon as possible upon leaving office.
“Roll back the clock, and every possession of every great country started with a crime,” playwright David Mamet told The Daily Caller in a wide-ranging interview.
Patrick Howley writes: He was paraphrasing Balzac, by way of the first page of Mario Puzo’s Godfather, but he might as well have been quoting any of the modern writers who call themselves Mamet disciples. His new book “3 War Stories” is a trifecta of short novellas dealing with war, crime, and history in ways that avoid easy moral conclusions.
The stories deal respectively with a 19th century writer/spy (“The Redwing”), religion within the context of the American Indian Wars (“Notes on Plains Warfare”), and a peculiar crime committed against the backdrop of the start of the Israeli War of Independence. But through them all runs themes consistent to Mamet’s work since his early plays in the 1970′s: criminality, ethics, and the dysfunctional ways people treat each other in societies.
War, it could safely be said, is just the most extreme example of the casual violence that has always colored David Mamet’s world. And his views on the matter are just as complex as his work would suggest.
“You can’t write about history without writing about politics at some point. History is about movements of people,” Mamet said. ”What is criminality and what is government is a theme that runs through every history. You can even see it today with John Kerry in Vietnam. He was highly decorated for his service then he came back and decided the Vietnam War was a crime. Now he’s doing the same thing in Iran.”
Mamet, an observant Jew who believes Kerry’s recent easing of sanctions on Iran represents the Obama administration turning its back on Israel, is a rare outspoken conservative in show business, crediting the economist Milton Friedman as having helped him transform from a typical Baby Boomer liberal.
“Obama is a tyrant the same way FDR was a tyrant. He has a view of presidential power that states: the government is in control of the country and the president is in charge of the government. He’s taken an imperial view of the presidency,” Mamet said.
“I don’t think war is inherently necessary. It used to be thought that a country shouldn’t go to war unless it is absolutely necessary,” he said. “War is tragedy. The great war stories are tragedies. It’s the failure of diplomacy. “War and Peace,” “A Farewell to Arms,” “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” Those are some of the greatest tragedies.”
But in the event of tragedy, according to Mamet, compromise is off the table.
Daniel Pipes writes: In three main ways, the JFK murder still has repercussions for Americans and the world. It also has a unique place in my life.
First, had the assassination attempt not succeeded, arguably neither the Vietnam War nor the Great Society expansion of government would have afflicted the United States as they did. The Virtual JFK: Vietnam If Kennedy Had Lived project concludes that “JFK would have continued to resist a US war in Vietnam. Even though the Saigon government, weak and corrupt, was destined for the dustbin of history, he would have resisted those calling on him to send US combat troops to Vietnam. He might have ended all military involvement.”
As for government expansion, American historian Don Keko writes that Kennedy “lacked Lyndon Johnson’s legislative abilities which would have doomed much of what became known as the Great Society. . . . Without the Great Society, the nation does not experience massive budget deficits and the economy would have been stronger.”
Second, Kennedy’s assassination profoundly impaired American liberalism. James Piereson’s 2007 book Camelot and the Cultural Revolution (Encounter) establishes how liberals could not cope with the fact that Lee Harvey Oswald, a Communist, murdered Kennedy to protect Fidel Castro’s control of Cuba. Kennedy died for his anti-Communism; but this wildly contradicted the liberals’ narrative, so they denied this fact and insisted on presenting Kennedy as a victim of the radical Right, reading Oswald out of the picture.
What he was, he was:
What he is fated to become
Depends on us.
– W.H. Auden, “Elegy for JFK” (1964)
BOSTON — George Will writes: He has become fodder for an interpretation industry toiling to make his life malleable enough to soothe the sensitivities and serve the agendas of the interpreters. The quantity of writing about him is inversely proportional to the brevity of his presidency.
He did not have history-shaping effects comparable to those of his immediate predecessor or successor. Dwight Eisenhower was one of three Americans (with George Washington and Ulysses Grant) who were world-historic figures before becoming president, and Lyndon Johnson was second only to Franklin Roosevelt as a maker of the modern welfare state and second to none in using law to ameliorate America’s racial dilemma.
The New York Times’ executive editor calls Kennedy “the elusive president”; TheWashington Post calls him “the most enigmatic” president. Most libidinous, certainly; most charming, perhaps. But enigmatic and elusive? Many who call him difficult to understand seem eager to not understand him. They present as puzzling or uncharacteristic aspects of his politics about which he was consistent and unambiguous. For them, his conservative dimension is an inconvenient truth. Ira Stoll, in JFK, Conservative, tries to prove too much but assembles sufficient evidence that his book’s title is not merely provocative.
“We thought we changed the world,” Romero says in the new documentary Birth of the Living Dead. “All of a sudden, it wasn’t any better, any different.”
It’s a traditional “making of” feature, leavened by Romero’s liberal leanings and the guerilla nature of his landmark genre classic.
“It spoke to its audience in ways few horror films had done before,” the film’s narrator boasts, and it’s hard to argue.
The dawn of Romero’s Dead seem almost too precious to be true. The director, like many other artists in Pittsburgh, got his start on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. Romero directed shorts for the avuncular kiddie show host, but eventually he yearned to make a film of his own. His attempt at a tortured teen romance went nowhere, so he decided a horror film had more commercial potential. Read the rest of this entry »
Yuval Levin writes: The administration’s effort to respond to the catastrophic rollout of the federal Obamacare exchange seems at this point to consist of having special teams of IT experts from inside and outside the government — in the president’s words, “the best and the brightest” — come in and help fix the Healthcare.gov site.
Even if you put aside the fact that the phrase “the best and the brightest” was popularized by the title of a David Halberstam book about how smart people can do stupid things (in that case, mismanage American foreign policy and march the nation into the Vietnam War), this idea seems very problematic. Read the rest of this entry »