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9 years ago @ Commentary Magazine - In Praise of Brooks's ... · 2 replies · +1 points

Snowden, the small, fleeing loner, both afraid and defiant of onrushing officialdom, is not necessarily just a libertarian phenomenon. He has his counterpart in Pushkin's Eugene Onegin, as well as today's left. That same paranoia, the fear of govt's merciless hoofs, is pervasive there too. While the libertarian Snowden's hope is in a smaller govt with less muscle to hurt people, the left hopes for a larger govt with more muscle to help people.

It is assumed that Orwell's all seeing Big Brother described a future right wing totalitarian state. In fact 1984 was a projection of British Stalinism of 1948 which Orwell saw as a coming juggernaut.

Actually today's data harvesting juggernaut is not really dangerpid. The ocean of information involved means 99.9999% of Americans are untouched by it. The govt would have to employ two thirds of the adult population to read the scribbling and listen to the mumbling of the other one third. It is like the NSA trying to drink the Great Lakes with a straw, or a hundred million straws. Such amounts of data can only be meaningfully used to establish patterns and to isolate aberrations. Just the tiniest fraction could ever possibly be closely examined and identified. Instead of drumming up fears The media should be calming them with sensible explanations. This data mining does not undermine our freedom or privacy. It is a benign effort to secure society from harm. Security failures like 9/11 are what rob us of our freedom. Now we undergo body searches to enter a public building. We spend two hours in airport checkout for a one hour flight.

9 years ago @ Commentary Magazine - Neither Assad nor the ... · 0 replies · +1 points

Two years ago it would have been possible to help a secular Syrian opposition to power in Damascus. Now most of the opposition is Islamist and they get to rule Syria if Assad falls.

The question is now reduced to: what matters more to Obama. The danger to the region if Islamists inherit Syria, or the wound to his amour propre if his declaration, that Assad is on his way out proves false?

9 years ago @ Commentary Magazine - The Boys of Pointe du Hoc · 0 replies · +1 points

The speech mentions the forces of Free France.

Actually, there was not a single Free French uniform on the Normandy beaches on June 6. The 2nd Free French Armored division only debarked in August after that fight was over. In June General Leclerc was still recruiting Christian Lebanese and Spanish Civil War veterans in North Africa for his forces. Most of de Gaulle's men were black troops from French equatorial Africa. But they wanted white faces with which to liberate Paris.

There were however some Frenchmen on the beach. But they were in British uniforms with British paybooks fighting in the British order of battle, under the British flag. These were men who, like others from Italy, Germany, Spain, etc., had escaped to the UK and thenhad joined her military. In preparation for the invasion the English tagged around two hundred of these Frenchmen in the British army and formed them into a Commando unit, their version of our Rangers, and gave them French arm patches and landed them on D Day. This was the face saving measure the English were good enough to invent.

Some years ago there was still a shattered Sherman tank with the Free French insignia on one of the Normandy beaches. Maybe it is still there. Anyways, that was pure fiction. That tank never fought there, certainly not as part of the Free French forces contesting the beach from the Germans.

9 years ago @ Commentary Magazine - re: Obama Emboldened T... · 0 replies · +1 points

Rubin writes:

"...we are in Afghanistan for a simple reason: Before 9/11, a vacuum developed in the country and terrorists took root. From their Afghan safe-haven, the reached out and attacked us. The goal of the U.S. mission was to fill that vacuum, creating a government that could control the territory of Afghanistan and security forces capable of monopolizing the use of force."

It is ridiculous to speak of a vacuum in Afghanistan when the world is permeated with nooks and crannies from Yemen to the Magreb, from Somalia to Sumatra from which Islamist bent on Jihad can organize against us. A few years before 9/11 OBL was operating out of the Sudan. Pakistan and its badlands were always open to him and the Taliban. Wearing black hats, kaftans and white socks, Osama and his friends could have worked with impunity out of a safe house in Crown Heights Brooklyn. The little Dutch boy was not so stupid as to commit himself to one hole in the dike as water spurted from a dozen others.

A grocer who self servingly urges salmonella tainted food on his customers goes to jail. Rubin and others dare to spoon their odious rubbish into the nation.

9 years ago @ Commentary Magazine - U.S. Weakness Provokes... · 0 replies · +1 points

Using the NK danger opportunistically, against US defense cuts is more than pointless. It supports the illusion that that is all we can do and more US spending is the only solution. Even a doubling would achieve little other than justify Pyongyang all the more.

We must stop ignoring Beijing's culpability. Without its connivance, certainly against its opposition, Pyongyang would do nothing. It is China's vassal, all protestations to the contrary. NK withers and dies the moment its patron is angered and closes the door. China plays the innocent while using the North to periodically give the US and her allies a hot foot.

We must give them a hot foot of our own: a Washington/Tokyo announcement that 12 Ohio class missile submarines, including their armament, have been leased to Japan. Three quarters of those boats manned by Japanese crews are now cruising under the South China Sea. The lease will end once China pulls North Korea's nuclear teeth.

A similar deal might also be worked out with Seoul. We have plenty of missile subs.

9 years ago @ Commentary Magazine - The Benghazi Scandal a... · 3 replies · +2 points

The Benghazi scandal pales compared to the Afghan malfeasance. The Right, and Commentary no less, acquiesced to it like lambs.

For most of 8 years under Bush, after our initial punitive expedition chased the Taliban out of Kabul, Afghanistan was a sideshow. We had bigger fish to fry elsewhere. The place was not strategic, not a vital US interest in the way of Iraq. Bush deployed on average only around 15,000 troops there. They trained the Afghan army, kept Kabul safe and protected infrastructure projects, leaving NATO to patrol the countryside. It was effectively a USAID mission.

This changed during the presidential race of 2008. Senator Obama had called Iraq unwinnable and that the surge would only make our debacle worse. But as the campaign headed into its home stretch the surge was working and the war was being won. Plummeting national security polling showed the election, that had looked like a sure Democratic year, to be at risk.

The candidate's response was to accuse the GOP of neglecting Afghanistan. The Taliban were resurgent, al Qaeda would soon be back in its old haunts, and the Republicans were responsible. He, if elected, would make Afghanistan the central front in the war on terror, give it all the combat brigades necessary and win that fight. This was Obama's way of wiping the egg off his face, showing his moxie and courting the hawkish voters.

He need not have troubled. The Lehman Brothers' collapse assured Obama's victory. But he had committed himself on Afghanistan and once in the White House he stepped on the gas and got our wheels spinning in a quagmire where the US had not need to fight, no need to win, no need to spend a $100 billion a year, and no need to quickly double the casualties it had taken Bush eight years to accumulate.

But that was what Obama did. He blew on the embers of Bush's sputtering sideshow to crate a 100,000 man conflagration where the US had no vital national interests. Only the interest of one man's career were served. To win an election, a pointless war was promised and delivered. This was corruption on an unprecedented scale. Yet the Republicans, who cannot resist any war, went along like lambs. Now they grouse about Benghazi.

9 years ago @ Commentary Magazine - Lack of Money Delays C... · 0 replies · +1 points

I don't understand where the savings are.

The ships of the task force have to be maintained whether they are at sea or in port. The men must be fed and be paid in any case. The air wing must continue its training flights whether from off the deck of the carrier, or land. There is a fuel saving, but is that really substantial relative to the overall costs?

I would think it is a little like the costs of a hospital which, when the beds are largely empty still has expenses over 80% of full occupancy.
What is the difference in cost of a ship at sea and in port? Five percent, ten percent; does anyone know?

9 years ago @ Commentary Magazine - Should Israel Attack H... · 1 reply · +1 points

You sound like the Kaiser sending his troops to China during the Boxer Rebellion.

Jews should not talk about erasing people, no matter how wicked.

9 years ago @ Commentary Magazine - Hezbollah's Culpabilit... · 0 replies · +2 points

Bulgaria, especially the Bulgarian church, was remarkably brave and resolute in protecting their Jews against the Nazis.

9 years ago @ Commentary Magazine - Illustrating the Link ... · 1 reply · +1 points

Mussolini as a nationalist, populist and brilliant demagogue, was immensely popular across the Italian spectrum, including the Left, from which he came. Before WWI he was editor of Avanti the organ of the Communist party of Italy. Until he turned on them he was also popular among many Italian Jews.

If there were nothing to explain why so much of Italy was enthralled by him, if it was all unmitigated evil then it would be impossible to have any relations with Italy. But in fact there were good reason why Mussolini was so appealing and so popular for a long time.

To take the occasion of a Holocaust commemoration to go into a discussion of those reasons shows Berlusconi as less than the shrewdy he is drummed up to be. But that is all.

The citation says, he spoke at the "margins" of the event. I wonder what that means.