The Finns choose


Do the Finns know something we don’t?
Reporting out of Helsinki – as deficient as ever with the mainstream media – says the Finns have negotiated what amounts to a military alliance with Washington. Finnish Defense Minister Jussi Niinistö says he hopes the deal – incorporating joint military training, information sharing and research – will be concluded before the U.S. presidential elections.
Given Finland’s long and tortured effort to maintain its neutrality, one has to speculate. The move appears to fly in the face of growing American criticism and perhaps support of the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance as well as the Obama Administration’s general withdrawal.
Helsinki’s No. one concern [with its 5.5 million], of course, has to be its giant Russian neighbor [143.5 million]. It’s not a new one, nor a simple one: when Moscow grabbed Finland in its wars with the declining Swedish Empire, it made a distinction. The Grand Dutchy of Finland was not part of the Tsarist Empire; an Helsinki statute memorializes favorably the ill-fated Nicolas II as Grand Duke since he continued to permit Helsinki autonomy.
But in 1939 Josef Stalin made demands Helsinki would not meet, the Finns gave Moscow a black eye in the three-month Winter War. With their white-clad ski troops and wirery little Uzi submachine gun, the Finns held off the Russians long enough to win the hearts of most of the democratic world. Even the hardest-nosed U.S. “isolationist” cheered the Finns [except for an Communist English professor at Chapel Hill, N.C. – where else! – who set up an “Aid for the Soviet Unuion” desk!]
But the cheering didn’t include breaking the American Neutrality Act and the West Eutopean democracies were still appeasing dictators to avoid the outbreak of War. According to later statistics by Soviet Dictator Nikita Kruschev, 1.5 million Soviet men were sent to Finland and one million of them were killed, while 1,000 aircraft, 2,300 tanks and armored cars and an enormous amount of other war materials were lost. Little Finland’s losses were limited to 25,904 dead or missing and 43,557 wounded.
But in the end, the Finns paid a heavy price, reparations originally totaled $300 billion [1938 prices] in electrical goods, shipping and motors. But ironically the goods shipped to the Soviets – which did not do much for an already crippled economy there – industrialized a former agricultural country.
Even the territorial concessions were stark, in the long term, including abandoning the heartland of the old Finno-Urugian heartland in the Karelian peninsular [where workers were once recruited for building Peter the Great’s Petrograd window on the West]. More than 400,000 Finnish Karelians,] or 12% of Finland’s population, had to be relocated. But their generally higher skills and education spread across the remainder of Finland helped build the new economy wqhich by the 2000 was leading the world’s wireless telephony.
Stalin, who said he feared an alliance of the Finns with Nazi Germany because of its prominent Baltic German minority, produced a self-fufiling prophecy. Nazi troops employed Finnish bases after Hitler’s attack on Poland opening World War II. [The Finns held out against some of the more notorious Nazi repression, including moving against its small Jewish population.] In the postwar settlement, Finland lost access to the Arctic and more of Karelia. [But, again ironically, even large recent Finnish investments in Karelia timber and minning where Stalin moved in other Empire settlers, has left it a crippled appendage of Moscow.]
Successive Finnish governments since World War II have tried to maintain a neutrality between the Blocs in the Cold War, sometimes aided at its back by a nominally Swedish neutrality. [Swedish neutrality has often been honored more in the breach than in its observance: Stockholm permitted transit of Nazi troops to Norway in 1940 and was an important German source of high-tech weaponry during the War].
Helsinki has already signed a similar agreement with the U.K. and both Sweden and Finland have taken part as observers in recent NATO meetings and military exercises. Finland spokesmen, with a 800-mile border with Russia, say the option of joining NATO is open, but opinion polls show a majority opposed. Although Vladimir Putin has publicly announced the withdrawal of Russian troops on Finnish borders, that is not the case, and the threat – also hinted at in relations with the Baltic States including against fellow Finno-Urguians just a short ferry ride away in Estonia with its large Russian-speaking minority.
The general speculation is that Finland is abandoning neutrality because of the growing threat from Putin. But it may well be just the opposite: despite the recent attempt to rebuild Russian military forces after breakdowns in the August 2008 attack on Georgia, there is a widespread view that Putin is bluffing, that continuing threats against Ukraine and the Baltics are only feints. Russian Federation forces, more and more dependent on Moslem recruits from Central Asia, are in sad shape.
If that were the Helsinki view, it might well explain why neutrality before a diminished foe is less an option than an alliance with even an increasingly reluctant American intervention and a NATO badly needing reconstruction. And there are the American elections which could turn U.S. policy around.
sws-08-24-16

Islamcist infiltration


The nacent ideological conflict over the nature of Islam and its relation to the current wave of terrorism is just coming into focus. The tardiness of the delineation of issues is not only regrettable but to a certain extent mysterious. Why has the nature of Islamic terrorism not been examined even by those who unlike Pres. Barack Obama and his minions refuse to even name it?
However much sincere Moslems who abhor the jihafists, their ideology and their violence, try to detach themselves from it or a less sophisticated Islamic mass simply tries to ignore the issue, a bond exists. The Islamic terrorists identify themselves as Moslems, not as Southern Baptists or Christian Scientists. They argue, and they can quote chapter and verse in original Koran passages and the hadith [the vast histories and commentaries on Mohammed’s life and his beliefs], to “prove” that that their barbaric actions are rooted in the religion’s tenets.
Unfortunately, this relationship leads to a second and more threatening problem for the democratic societies. That is the wide acceptance in our free societies of individual Moslems who echo these sentiments, but often in more august surroundings such as the universities or even in organizations devoted to multicultural understanding and acceptance of others’ beliefs.
The “revelation” this week, finally, by even the mainline media that Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s long time closest collaborator and alter ego, has in fact been in the past a collaborator of radical Muslims. As the long kept “secrets” surface, it will be revealed that not only has Abedin written in the past supporting ultra-Islamic causes, but she is steeped in such ideology through a family long associated with those concepts. Her mother, in fact, widow of a prominent Pakistani Islamicist installed in what passed for a Muslim think tank iu Saudi Arabia, could well be considered the head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s female auxillary. The Brotherhood, of course, is the latest manuifestsation of the old Islamic drive for total political power throughout the world. And Abedin escorted Clinton on more than one occasion to counsels in the Middle East with her mother.
There is a frightening similarity between the growing infiltration of such advocates of Islamic supremacy – the totalitarian nature of Islam as a political movement with religious trappings – and Communism for half a century. Much as Western intellectuals often were persuaded to accept if not Communist doctrine itself but its toleration because it theoretically advocated so many of the utopian concepts of the whole socialist left, Muslim advocates of ultimately equally disastrous concepts are being tolerated. Islam, after all, is said to preach equality before a complete “submission” to Allah with no prejudice of class, ethnicity or race.
It was, insiduslously, this infiltration of the Communist ideologues – particularly in the early post-World War II reinforced by wictorious Soviet armies in eastern and central Europe – that threatened to win through the ballot box all Western Europe. Only the overwhelming strength of U.S. armed forces backed by a giant economy which had not seen the destruction of wartime Europe and the democrats of the non-Communist socialists that turned the tide. Unparalleled American generosity in rebuilding Europe was as much a miracle as the event itself. Even that finale intellectual outcome had to finally wait on the implosion of the Soviet Union itself, once and for all confirmation of the utter nonsense of Communist economics and its heinous threat to civil liberties.
Islamic terrorist spokesmen have by no means reached the high tide of Communist influence in Western intellectual circles in the 1930s. But the very fact that the most intimate collaborator of Hillary Clinton, a nominee for president of the United States in a highly contested election, has reached that height is a dire warning. The time to discuss the nature of Islam as an ideology and its adherents in the world of politics can not longer be denied under the false rubric of “political correctness” — the inability to distinguish honest, straight-forward intellectual discussion, from prejudice and religious intolerance.

sws-08-23-16

Tenure wins again


The California Supreme Court has failed to take on the case of a group of interested students and parents backed by Silicon Valley philanthropists challenging the state’s teacher tenure system.

A group of nine students had argued that making it easier to fire bad teachers would improve academic performance. They also argued that easier firings help eliminate the gap that separates white, Asian and wealthier students distancing them from their lower income, black and Latino peers

. Lower courts had ruled contradictorily on the case. The widespread disagreement on the issue was also reflected in the fact that the Court decided the issue on only a 4 to 3 basis. In effect, the ruling overturned a 2014 Los Angeles Superior Court judge’s decision that sided with the anti-tenure proponents.

California has among the strongest teacher job protection systems in the country. If a teacher invokes them, they inordinately increase the time and cost of the dismissal process. But the case has wide national implications as a model for one of the most complicated and contested issues in the whole growing demand for improvement of our deteriorated public schools.

A New Teacher Project study [2009] argued that 86% of administrators it surveyed did not attempt to terminate teachers they knew to be underperforming or acting improperly because of fear of the time and money of the overturning the tenure process.

But supporters of tenure respond that administrative red tape is the chief reason for this, citing lack of appropriate evaluations in most cases as the reason why terminations are so difficult. It can cost as much as $250,000 to pursue some states’ elaborate administrative process to fire a tenured teacher. Furthermore, supporters of strong tenure restrictions argue they prevent the ousting of teachers for irrelevant or controversial issues and thus help to preserve an atm,opshere of free inquiry in the system.

Unlike college faculty tenure, where educators must demonstrate their continued relevance by publishing research papers and periodic college attendance, K-12 educators are only required to receive for a number of years satisfactory evaluations.

Fortytwo of the 50 states require only three years or less before achieving tenure. From 2002 to 2009, New York City Public Schools, for example, denied tenure to only 3% of the teachers who had been teaching for three years, and that only after “reforms” had been put in place. Since teachers are at their least competence during their first years, it seems unlikely that 97% of new teachers deserved life-time job protection after only three years or less on the job.

This dismissal process has led to a widespread abuse. Many school districts use “secret buyouts” to get rid of underperforming or misbehaving teachers rather than face the onerous and expensive formal process of dismissal. The public often has no accurate explanation of why a teacher resigned with the agreements often including silence from both parties.

The case has been closely watched, not only in California, but countrywide. The question of tenure has become entertained with growing tensions between teacher unions, school leaders, lawmakers and well-funded education reform groups. All have strong views on the issue of tenure with the politically powerful teachers unions defending maximum interpretation of tenure law and critics of the growing school standards crisis arguing that failure to fire teachers with the least seniority keep ineffective instructors in the classroom, particularly in already low-performing inner-city schools.

Florida, North Carolina, Kansas and Idaho have repealed their earlier tenure laws outright, phased out tenure or removed due process provisions, though Idaho’s effort to abolish tenure later was reversed by voters in a referendum. Sixteen states insert teachers’ performance ratings as a component of decisions to grant tenure. Seven states now require cashiered teachers to be returned to probationary status if their performance is rated unsatisfactory. Another 11 states require that teacher performance be the primary consideration with Washington adding this requirement only n 2015-16. Ten states specifically prohibit the use of tenure status or seniority.

The refusal of California’s highest court to take up the issue strikes us as a grave mistake. The issue which is so intimate to the problem of a general consensus that public education is failing, particularly at a time when galloping technology requires higher and higher levels of knowledge to meet the daily requirements of any workplace. Ultimately, of course, the requirements for public education must reside with the legislators. But until then a discussion of the issues in the courts is a necessity. We hope that the proponents of the issue will find a way, perhaps ny taking it into the federal courts, for the airing that it must get if progress is to be made in solving our growing educational crisis.

sws-08-22-16

Facing facts


Facing facts

There is a consensus that Islamic terrorism is now the greatest threat to America’s peace and stability. [Some few would demur; that it takes a close second place to current economic stagnation.]

Yet within that consensus there are two distinct attitudes about what is the defense against this menace. One calls for a continuing, debilitating but long-term campaign to destroy the terrorists. The other calls for an all-out, immediate strategy to destroy the terrorists and their sanctuaries. These two approaches cross party lines, although Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton despite her inheritance of the Obama Administration and its avoidance of foreign commitments tends to fudge that approach. Donald Trump bombastically takes the later route although he has been less than specific just how he would succeed. And so in fact, the two approaches cross party lines and often other ideologies.

For many, too young to have been in on its origins, the successful but long war against Communism is only vaguely appreciated. Sven F. Kraemer has recently published what may not be an easily readable text but the best compendium of data on the long campaign to resist Soviet-led Communism’s attack on European and American societies. “Inside the Cold War from Marx to Reagan” is, indeed, a bible for those interested in learning how much the conflict entailed. And perhaps no one other than Kraemer is more qualified to compile it, the son of a famous anti-Communist strategist, and himself a veteran of many critical government posts from which the fight was observed and led.

Will the fight against Islamic terrorism be that kind of long and tortured conflict that ultimately destroyed Communism as Kraemer documemts? Obviously it is the answer to that question which dictates the current two approaches to the problem.

There is evidence in historical analogies that the current resistance to Islamic fanaticism current drive into Western societies is a repetition of earlier struggles. The totalitarian political concept of Islam [“surrender”, indeed as its Arabic word signifies] coupled with religious mythology and moral concepts borrowed from Jews and Christians, has been repelled by the West before. But earlier Islamic efforts to overwhelm the other cultures were led by armies. This time, there is the threat of a doubled-edge weapon: an ideological assault on a Christian world which has lost its faith through its own institutions, and by a vast wave of Moslem migrants filling the empty spaces left by falling Western birthrates.

Furthermore, the West is disarmed by its attempt to give Islam irrational ideological tolerance in the open forums which are the essence of modern democratic societies. When in 2016 Pope Benedict XVI tried to reassert the valid arguments critical of the foundations of Islam, there was a torrent of negative controversy and even abuse from the elites. Benedict’s critics refused the basic argument that it matters whether God is essentially ;ogos (Divine Reason) or voluntas (Pure Will), which is from where Moslems approach their godhead. The first understanding facilitates civilization development, true freedom, and a complete understanding of reason. The second sows the seeds of decline, oppression, and unreason.

To sling the epithet of “Islamophobia” at those who argue for such fundamental differences between the Moslem culture and the West’s intellectual inheritance is to not only misunderstand the argument, but to threaten the security of our world.

sws-08-23-16

What to do about Turkey?


Vice President Joe Biden’s highly publicized visit to Turkey next week is likely to prove critical, if inconclusive. Whether he is able to establish a new relationship with a North Atlantic Treaty Organization [NATO], the one with by far the largest military forces after the U.S., is crucial to the whole Middle East as well as the U.S. bilateral alliance and with its European NATO allies.
Biden is seen as trying to make a new bargain with Pres. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In the past few months, Erdogan has accelerated his accumulation of power through the usual machinations of a popular leader but with authoritarian tendencies, shucking elements of Turkey’s secular constitution. The recent failed military coup – apparently by the last remnants of the secularists who through military dominance have been the guardians of an effort to maintain the non-Islamic state – has been an excuse for increased repression and rampant anti-American propaganda.
The fear is that Erdogan is now turning his back on almost a hundred years when the country tried to move to a modern state with top-down Westernization. The abandonment of the state capitalist role for liberalization of the economy over the last decade had delivered unprecedented growth and prosperity. But that boom has ended, in part another victim of the worldwide economic slowdown.
Turkey had always been a model for other Moslem governments trying fitfully to break away from traditional Islam which combines government with religion. That struggle goes on among the 1.3 billion people in the Arab-Moslem world – from Morocco to Indonesia. And while no adequate response has yet surfaced, Turkey had been perceived to have made the transition. That now appears dubious at best.
But once again, the world is in one of those periods when 1500-year-old concepts of Arab-Moslem conquest and forced conversion has been part of the religion’s creed. That many, perhaps most, Moslems would ignore this concept is not enough to block a determined, fanatical minority from jihad – propounding the duty of a Muslim to maintain and spread his religion by whatever means.
Erdogan has played a clever game. He has managed, despite the bitter rejection by many outspoken European Union officials, to continue the hope of Turkish adherence to the Bloc. His flirtation with the Islamists — with such moves as reestablishing the death penalty — has now, however, vitiated that prospect.
He blackmailed German Chancellor Angela Merkel for free movement of Turkish nationals within the EU, swapped for Ankara stemming the flow of Syrian and other Middle East refugees into Western Europe. But Merkel’s original welcome resulting in more than a million migrants entering her country last year is increasingly producing a backlash. Integrating newcomers with completely different cultural values has failed spectacularly, demonstrated in highly publicized crimes including rape.
Unlike the Europeans, Biden has the luxury of negotiating from a stronger hand, unlike the Europeans’ proximity and increasing problem of their growing largely unassimilated Moslem minorities. He can exploit Erdogan’s wildly fluctuating foreign policy which has failed in establishing a neo-Ottoman regime building on its once imperial presence in the region. A flirtation with Moscow – which supplies half its energy thereby running a huge trade deficit — is a feint aimed at Washington and its European allies. But just as they find themselves on different sides in the Syrian civil war, Erdogan cannot ignore Moscow’s threatening attempt to reinstall the Soviet role in the Black Sea and the Balkans.
Biden has to come home with something. One trophy would be at least promises for Turkey to tighten its borders, stop permitting aid to flow to the Muslim terrorists, and promising a more active Turkish collaboration in fighting Daesh [ISIS and ISIL], hoping that Erdogan recognizes that his Islamicism will not protect him from rising Moslem terrorism. But getting Turkey firmly back into the Western alliance would require stronger leadership of those partners than the Obama Administration can muster.
sws-08-16-16

Jobs, jobs, jobs…


In the hot lather of an unusually rambunctious presidential political campaign, more than a little nonsense is being slung about by the rival candidates about ending the current lethargy of the U.S. economy.
First of all, of course, the world’s job market is not a finite number.
When the international economy is robust, it is so intertwined that creation of jobs in one national economy is bound to produce them among their trading partners. That’s why it is wrong to talk of the Chinese and other low priced labor having “stolen” American jobs.
True, China is running a huge trade surplus with the U.S. In 2015, Beijing’s export surplus to the U.S. over American goods to China was a record $365.7 billion. But beyond the statistical review lies a basic consideration for both countries’ economists and officials: China is accepting a debt of an increasingly devalued U.S. currency for its labor and its own resources and imported raw materials sold to the U.S.
One could, indeed, make the argument that while subsidizing its exports and manipulating the currencies, Beijing may be “stealing” foreign employment, But it is also – an essentially poor country – exporting capital. Few of those who are blathering about the current American economic scene are remarking on the low=cost consumers’ goods that these Chinese policies have produced for the American consumer.
The campaign promise made by both candidates to “return” jobs from China and other low wage producers, is equally subject to criticism. If, as is generally assumed, this would be done by erecting tariff barriers against these imports, it would mean higher prices [and presumably less consumption] by the U.S. consumer. That could produce additional revenues for the federal government, of course – indeed, the main source of revenue for the American government before the enactment of the 1913 Sixteenth Amendment to the U.S. constitution permitting a direct tax which did not – as the Constitution requires, a per capita distribution among the States.
But what may be far more important is speculation about what these “jobs” would actuallybne were they “returned” to the U.S. Given the incredible speed with which the digital revolution has revolutionized all phases of American life, including manufacturing and services, it seems likely that any “return” would produce quite different employment than that which departed. Increasingly, perhaps more than the “escape” of jobs abroad,, American unemployment is produced through the introduction of these advanced technologies/ What ever happened to “dispatches” for delivery networks or to the old-fashioned highly trained “cashier” at the retail checkout?
What often seems the logical solution to this problem is the reeducation and retraining of workers for new and different, and usally enhanced, jobs. Enormous sums have been devoted over decades to the problem of reeducating.
But over the decades enormous sums have been expended with out great effect by both the various levels of government and by private employers. Most studies show that displaced factory workers in the United States on the average have lower wages after retraining to other positions This si also true for tiaison jobs which develop from the offshore “escape” of American industry.
These rehabilitation programs have built in handicaps. Often the worker who is to be retrained is in mid-career, older and less amenable to retraining than a young person just entering the workforce. It also presents a difficult problem due to the individual personality of some workers. Researchers estimate that under the best conditions one expensive academic year of such retraining at a community college increases the long-term earnings by about 8%t for older males and by about 10 percent for older females. But in an age of increasing technological tools, that problem appears to be magnified in any future attempt to find employment for these workers.
Rather than talk in terms of “bringing back: jobs which have been outsourced overseas, the politicians – and their economists – had best be working on the expansion of the economy with new more sophisticated jobs and careers, both for the unemployed and those new entries into the workforce.
sws-08-14-16

Media disaster


Perhaps not since 1936 has there been such a failing through prejudicial media reporting of a presidential election. Then, of course, the enormously popular weekly, The Literary Digest, predicted a strong victory for the Republican conservative candidate Kansas Governor Alf Landon against Franklin Delano Roosevelt. FDR bidding for a second term was pushing a radical program against traditional opposition in his own Party, the Congress and the courts. The landslide victory for Roosevelt that followed – every state but Maine and Vermont that became something of a joke – so invalidated the magazine’s reputation that it collapsed and disappeared.
One has to wonder if such a fate would befall one of the many media sources today or whether it would just continue to blather on.
For what we see in a media today is so slanted that it has further alienated an already antagonistic general public which long since lost all respect and faith in it. CNN and NPR’s support of Hillary Clinton – but much more their tortured attempts to avoid any negative reporting about her many recent pratfalls – is outrageous. And they are followed by the rest of the mainstream media with the exception of Fox News whose effort to maintain some semblance of balance makes them appear pro-Trump.
It is hard to know what has given us this kept press. Is it that the members of the media – with their [often literally] incestuous relationships with the Democratic Party, the Obama Administration and the “Inside-the-Beltway” elite — simply is reflecting their own prejudices? Certainly were that the case they would be overwhelmingly antagonistic to Donald Trump’s politics as a matter of custom rather than reflective partisanship; his perceived gaucherie and outside the Beltway language would be enough to condemn him.
Or is it that the media, as part of a self-appointed elite, is ideologically disposed toward an anti-Trump position, even into support for Hillary Clinton if for no other reason than she seems to reflect the same attitudes? Trump, right or wrong, has ferociously attacked some of the shibboleths of the ruling national political machine for the last half century. He has fed everything from “free trade” to “international cooperation” into the maw and put them up for grabs, revision or disabuse. The outcome of any debate he has touched off is much less important than the dust he has kicked up by even bringing the issue to a question and deliberation.
There is genuine concern in some quarters, not those who accuse him of being another Hitler, that he is removing the foundations of the long period of relative peace which has endured since August 1945. The Korean War and the Vietnam War were bloody interjections in this era, of course, but however bitter was their warfare and the political conflicts around them, they did not represent the horrors of World Warr I and II with its virtually destruction of whole generations of young European men. And the prospect of an even more destructive World War III was held at bay.
The way the anti-Trump media have seized on what are obviously elliptical or misspoken bits and pieces of Trump’ endless stream of consciousness chatter is not only unprofessional but criminal. It was obvious, for example, that when he mentioned the complicated idea [in a phrase], he meant that the enormously powerful following for the Second Amendment possibly could neutralize a roster of liberal judges Clinton as president would put on the Supreme Court. Yet almost the entire media were determined to make the phrase an indication that he was calling for assassination using the constitutional right for individuals to bear arms. A sarcastic reference to the possibility that Vladimir Putin might release e-mails Clinton had destroyed since the Russians were presumably hacking her non-official server and her various devices was turned into an appeal on Trump’s part for Moscow’s intervention in a purely American political fracas.
These are petty offenses. But multiplied as they are almost daily by other inferences and innuendos they add up to a prejudicial presentation of the presidential debate.
It remains to be seen whether, given the low rating all polls attribute to the public’s respect and credence for the media, it will be more than a minor part of the growing circus that is our presidential election.
sws-08-12-16

Aleppo’s appeal


An epic continuing battle continues for control of Syria’ largest city, historically one of the most famous centers of urban civilization in the world. Before its demise in the post-World War I Franco-British partition of the Levant it ranked with Cairo and Istanbul [Constantinople] as a major cosmopolis, the Western end of the famous Silk Road from China to the West.
A call by 15 physicians in a letter personally directed to Pres. Barack Obama has dramatized the dilemma facing Washington. Obama’s history of “drawing red lines” in the Syrian conflict only to be forfeited has confused foreign participants in the struggle and the American people. His statements led finally only to America abandoning Syria to the tender mercies of the ruthless Basher al Assad regime which allied with the Russians wages war on an unprecedented scale on its civilian population, matched by the incredible brutality of Daesh [ISIS or ISIL] and its terrorist allies in the opposition.
Government and rebels in the past few days have clashed in southern Aleppo, voiding a truce promised by the Russians to enter the city. Moscow had earlier promised “humanitarian windows” to permit humanitarian convoys of food and medicines to transit. Mosocw now refuses to comment on the current situation including the use of Russian planes against the rebels and civilian populations. Human Rights Watch listed six deliberate strikes in the past two weeks by al Assad regime or Russian warplanes on health facilities in the north that killed 17 people.
Obama’s determination not to involve the U.S. in another irresolute Mideast war is certainly understood by a war-weary American public and justifiable to many of his supporters among the foreign policy experts. But now that has to be balanced with the possibility of another one of those catastrophic destructions of human life which the U.S. and the world have promised “never again”.
The doctors point out that hospitals and medical facilities have become not accidentally but deliberate targets in the warfare. This small group of health providers remaining in the city is dealing with an impossible situation as their letter dramatizes, including a shortage of medicines and supplies which often culminates in triage among wounded children. Furthermore, the rebels accuse government forces of carrying out an attack Wednesday using chlorine gas on rebel-held residential neighborhoods.
It seems unlikely that Obama can openly reverse his Mideast and particularl Syrian policy in the last few months of his administration, He has made American withdrawal the essence of his foreign policy and with serious and obvious U.S. failures on all fronts, its ideological goal is about all that is left of his tattered effort for “transformation” of U.S. foreign policy. Whether he has the courage to do so with a good deal of obscurantist rhetoric remains to be seen.
But we believe it is incumbent on the Congress immediately to take the lead in this human crisis. The physicians have pointed out that Americans earlier had promised to set up “corridors” into the embattled areas. These would carry drugs and foodstuffs to the estimated more than 1.2 million living in the government-held zone as well as some 250,000 now in the rebel-held areas of the city.
Also additional public pressure must be placed on the al Assad regime through Moscow and its allies in Tehran to end what have been reported as recent chemical warfare attacks on the rebels by government forces, apparently with the tacit cooperation of Russian air. French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Thursday he was “concerned by reports of a new chemical attack… that is said to have claimed four lives people and left dozens injured.”
A United Nations framework is in place to handle humanitarian aid to both those in the rebel and government areas. It is incumbent now that the U.S. tale the lead in utilizing it to prevent a monumental human disaster.
sws-08-11-16

Bratton goes, crime goes on


The departure of William Bratton as New York City police commissioner comes at a moment when police establishments all over the country are under extreme pressure.
Bratton, a veteran of not just New York City but Boston and Los Angeles police departments, represents the best of what being a policeman in American has meant. He is the refutation of the current campaign of calumny and destruction led by those who use the relatively rare incidents of police brutality and discrimination against minorities to condemn all law enforcers.
It was under Bratton’s leadership that New York City’s Mayor Rudy Giuliani dramatized the obvious but often forgotten necessity not to tolerate violations of the law, however minor. Any excuse of crime, no major how small [breaking windows for sport], was the beginning of the breakdown in civil order, they argued. And Giuliani’s campaign to eliminate minor infractions of the law as well as the more egregious crime was eminently successful.
Some of the methodology – the ability to stop and search suspects on the street without a warrant, for example – has been under fire from sincere guardians of our human rights. Yet it is clear that these methods, kept in their proper place and perspective by commanding officers such as Bratton, have been remarkably successful in eliminating what had become an environment of criminality of the 60s and 70s in the New York City.
Any fair minded observer recognizes that there have been police abuses in the past. Like any organization, the police have their “bad apples”. But the current campaign to use such instances, publicized by a sensationalist and often twisted media, is an effort to undermine all that Bratton has stood for in the crusade to maintain order and civility in our busy and complex urban culture.
Unfortunately, some of our public figures have lost their balance in confronting the issue. Courting such radical and pernicious groups as “Black Lives Matter!” is the most outrageous example. Its origins in Ferguson. Missouri in a supposed violation of a black man’s rights and death by a police officer is bogus. Witnesses, local authorities and the Department of Justice after extensive investigations have all confirmed that what happened was, instead, an attack on a policeman by a veteran criminal offender.
Even more destructive, marching through the streets by Black Lives Matter supporters calling for the death of policemen was rewarded by the Obama Administration with invitations to the White House. Responses from others who have fought for law and justice in policing that “all lives matter” were answered with insults and accusations that past racial discrimination was at the root of their argument for elimination of prejudice.
The continuing campaign against the police carried on by Back Lives Matter and its affiliated organizations threatens to contribute to the demoralization of our guardians of peace and security. The decline in major crime in the last several decades has already taken an upturn, presumably as police are prevented from exercising discretion in pursuing possible criminal activity. Blaming crime on poverty and inadequate public facilities is a [to coin a phrase] cop-out. The world and American life is full of instances of the majority of individuals strong enough to overcome the worst of these deprivations to live good and successful lives.
Baltimore has seen outrageous exploitation advantage by elected politicians and public prosecutors of the old wounds of racial discrimination for purely narrow political gain. Such outrageous behavior by public officials is erodes the whole concept of police responsibility and the fair application of law and order for all citizens, whatever their racial and ethnic background.
We can only hope that Bratton’s departure – and we are reminded he has taken his leave before and returned – is not now a signal of the a new era of policing in which attacks on police and their diminished activity is to be the order of the day.
sws-0806-16

Obama’s deadly compromise


President Barack Obama confirmed in his press conference Thursday that he has accepted as unavoidable the recurrent, periodic Islamic terrorist attacks in the U.S. and abroad. That was the import of his answers to questions wherein he indicated that he would not modify what he considers his winning policy in the Mideast to “degrade and destroy” Daesh [ISIS or ISIL].
His response to criticism and demands that the U.S. should undertake a more aggressive policy toward the Mideast source of Islamic terrorism was to warn about additional civilian casualties from any such American action. Yet he acknowledged that Russian intervention in the Syrian conflict is accompanied by massive attacks on the civilian population. He mocked spokesmen, including inferentially the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who have called for the kind of all-out military effort against ISIS that destroyed Nazism and held the Communists at bay during the 35 years of The Cold War. Obama’s response is despite the fact that most American military commanders and planners argue that ISIS falls only behind Russia as Washington’s principal threat.
In effect, Obama’s program of action accepts an unspecified duration when the current worldwide wave of terrorist activity would continue. His rationalization for accepting such a level of violence against the civilian population was that there has always been terrorist activity from many different quarters over the past decades and that it was therefore not a new phenomenon. The implication was that terrorism is a natural phenomenon and may not ever be completely eliminated.
Obama outlined at some length the failure of his continuing negotiations with the Russians to end their support of the Basher al Assad regime in Syria. However, he took no note of the limited Moscow commitment in Syria today compared with Soviet times because of Russia’s diminished military capacity. Admitting that negotiations with the Russians have not produced any diminishment of Moscow’s activities in Syria, he offered the admonition that should such activity continue, it would condemn Russia as an international pariah in world opinion. That such an epithet would have already been accepted in most democratic circles around the world did not seem to reduce for him the importance of such additional evidence coming out of the Syrian civil war. Nor did Obama’s concentration on the Syrian conflict take account of Russian aggression in the Crimea, its subversion among Russian-speakers in the eastern Ukraine, and its continuing threats to the Baltic states.
The President did argue that the U.S. military activity against Daesh in the Mideast, however successful, would require a more comprehensive program to meet ISIS’ ideological concept. Yet, he failed again, to grapple with that very problem, that is to meet the challenge of the terrorists’ allegiance to Islam which forms their ideological framework. Obama continues, as do most observers, to acknowledge but intellectually ignore that however perverted and distorted their view, the terrorists base their creed on their own version of Islam. Obama ignores that a discussion of Islam and its relation to the terrorists is critical to any examination of their ideology.
Like other important international spokesmen, in fact Obama refuses to advocate that the world examine and discuss whatever tenets that religion holds which produce the current wave of terrorism. Instead, he like others fall back on such clichés as “Islam is a religion of peace” and the obvious conclusion that most Moslems are not advocates of terrorism. What Obama and his supporters ignore is that the terrorists are not Christian Scientists nor Mormons, but while all Moslems are not terrorists, all terrorists are Moslems. They ignore the long history of Arab and Moslem holy war [jihad] to force non-believers [kafirs] or face death or enslavement.
Obama’s acceptance , in effect, of the current level of world terrorism will lead to further augmentation of ISIS as it spreads it network around the world, gaining psychotic and fanatical adherents of an aggressive version of Islam because of its “success” in terrorizing the civilized world.

sws-08-04-16

The Iran mystery


In all the torturous puzzles of the current Mideast chaos, perhaps the greatest unknown is what the Obama Administration thinks it is accomplishing with its Iran policy.

Again, in the past few days, we have had evidence that Pres. Barack Obama is moving – this time secretly – to accommodate the mullahs in Tehran. The explanation for the payment of an old debt to the Shah’s regime is worse than ludicrous. Even more evident is the extreme secrecy with which the $400 million was paid, indicating that the Obama Administration was perfectly aware that it was conducting a dubious deal at best.

The latest revelation builds on a series of negotiations and concessions Washington has made to Iran. The assumption has to be made that Obama believes that some sort of overall settlement can be made between the U.S. and the Tehran regime as part of an effort to stabilize the Mideast.

However, any objective review of the current situation – excluding of course the secrets passing back and forth between Obama and the mullahs – indicates there is no such possibility of an accomodation with the religious fanatics who direct the regime and its worldwide terrorist campaign. So, the mystery is what does Obama knows or thinks he knows that is not generally acknowledged by others viewing the relationship.

In fact Obama is dealing with a regime of religious fanatics who have chosen the most egregious tenets of traditional Islam to wage war against “infidels”. Their stock and trade has from the beginning of the regime been anti-Americanism. They are based on accusations of U.S. intervention in Persia’s affairs which ignore the pro-Nazi regime on the outbreak of World War II and the post-war effort of the Soviet Union to take over the country with satellite regimes among its several minorities.

Furthermore, there is considerable evidence that the regime no longer commands the majority of Iranian public support and rules only with the use of vicious internal repression. That revulsion against the regime – which in the end makes it fragile and any “deal” with it equally precarious – came with the carefully controlled elections of 2013 when the regime was threatened by a general rejection. At that time, despite calls from the dissidents who had been cheated of their victory, for American support, Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ignored them

As the Obama Administration constantly acknowledges, Tehran’s mullahs are supporting anti-U.S. movements in the Mideast and terrorist activities in Latin America. It was, in fact, suicide bombers belonging to Hizb’allah’s earlier organization that killed 241 U.S. marines and 58 French servicemen, six civilians in Beirut in 1983. Today not only Hizb’allah but the Hamas terrorists in Gaza are projections of the mullahs’ power in the eastern Mediterranean. The fact that Hamas is Sunni and originally a creature of the ultra-Sunni Moslem Brotherhood of Egypt, suggests Tehran’s growing international clout.

Obama’s extended negotiations – and concessions to the Tehran mullahs – has alarmed the U.S. traditional Sunni Arab allies, the Egyptians, the Saudis and the Gulf oil states. Israel, a target the mullahs have announced they want to wipe out, is having to adjust its relationship with other players in the region – including recently returned Moscow to Syria — in an effort to meet a Tehran regime strengthened through Obama’s efforts.

The Obama Administration’s rationalization that its courtship of the mullahs and the recent payment is part of settling long-standing accounts is even more ridiculous. Administration spokesmen have been forced to acknowledge that its payments are not only fungible – that is substituting for other expenditures of the mullahs – but probably actually going to support its terrorist activities.

There continue to be 4,700 private US claims against Tehran for seizure of prosperities after the fall of the Shah.. An international special tribunal has ordered payments by Iran to US nationals totaling over $2.5 billion. By 2014, almost all private claims had been resolved, but several intergovernmental claims were still to be negotiated – hardly a record on which to base a new and accommodating relationship.

It is time that the President tells the rest of us on what basis his Iran policy is formulated, the secret behind his negotiations with one of the most hideous and destructive regimes in the world?

sws-08-04-16

Misplaced charity


Pres. Barack Obama’s proposal for what would be a substantial new entry of Syrian refugees is a major miscalculation of traditional American morality and generosity.
It is true that the 13.5 million Syrian refugees, half of them expelled or hounded out of their country, are a momentous human tragedy. And America has almost always responded to some calamities.
But the question of additional Syrian refugees coming to the U.S. is part of a challenging failing American immigration policy which has become an extremely divisive political issue.
While generally unrecognized, it has arisen because of the profound changes which have taken place in worldwide migration patterns and the traditional one of entry into the U.S. Rapid and cheap transportation and communication has changed the pattern of the lives of newcomers to America.
In the great wave of American immigration of the late 19th and early 20th century, Europeans abandoned their homelands with a desire to build a new life in The New World. Ties to the old country, while culturally deep, dissolved – and, indeed, some ethnic and religious groups such as the Jews did not want to look back on persecution. Even the Italians, with their celebrated family ties, came and for the most part to their new neighborhoods, only occasionally maintained their European ties, mainly for remittances for family to follow them.
In the 21st century, immigrants to the U.S. may have much of the same motivation. But large numbers come for economic benefits and either maintain their relationships with their home countries, return at frequent intervals, or, indeed, return to their original homelands.
Those New York City Indian and Pakistani taxi drivers, for example, rarely bring their families, and return on long “vacations” to their families with whom they are in constant contact through cheap communication. This group, like other migrants with similar patterns, have no intention of becoming ‘Americans” in the traditional way although they might acquire U.S. citizenship for convenience and profit. Important, often influential, groups such as these exist today at every level of American society including the highest echelons of business and culture in our major cities.
Another significant difference from past patterns of immigration is that welcoming ethnic or religious communities in the U.S. which once helped integrate the newcomers are no longer prominent if they exist at all. Syrian Moslems, for example, find little institutional aid from coreligionists when they immigrate to the U.S. And, in fact, some of the existing Moslem organizations are suspect with ties to the Moslem Brotherhood, the fountainhead of Islamic terrorism. Ostensibly pursuing an electoral policy [The Brotherhood’s strategy of “One man, one vote – one time!”], Its attempt to establish an Islamic dictatorship was proved quickly to the satisfaction of the Egyptian electorate which welcomed the military back to power.]
On August First U/S. Homeland Security Jeh Johnson issued “temporary protected status” to some 8,000 Syrian, many of whom had arrived in the U.S. illegally. He did so, he said, because ““Syria’s lengthy civil conflict has resulted in … [A]ttacks against civilians, the use of chemical weapons and irregular warfare tactics, as well as forced conscription and use of child soldiers have intensified the humanitarian crisis.” Another 7,000 Syrian refugees – many of them persecuted Christians and other non-Moslem minorities — have been admitted legally to the U.S. since Oct. 1, 2015. Obama announced in September that the U.S. would admit 10,000 Syrian refugees by Sept. 30, 2016.
But GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump has attacked this decision, arguing that – as FBI Director John Comey has admitted – despite elaborate UN and US procedures to process them, little is known of the refugees’ background. Daesh [ISIS or ISIL] like other Mideast terrorists has made no secret of their attempt to infiltrate refugee communities. Only a few such subversives, given the gruesome “effectiveness” of suicide bombers, could defeat efforts to defend Americans against attacks such as took place in Orlando, San Bernardino and Ft. Hood by immigrants.
American charity might better be directed toward relief efforts for the Syrian refugees in the region. Oil-rich neighbors in the Persian Gulf have not met demands that they absorb, at least temporarily, Syrians [and other Mideasterners masquerading as Syrians] who have moved into Jordan, Turkey and Western Europe by the hundreds of thousands. [Germany took in more than a million migrants from the Mideast last year, and difficulties of absorbing them and with highly dramatized attacks on women and other crinmes, are now producing a backlash against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s welcome].
Illegal migration from Mexico and Central America has already become a major problem for U.S. immigration policy, developing into a political football between the parties based on a still nebulous growing influence of Spanish-speaking voters. Adding the Syrian problem to this controversy neither benefits the humanitarian goals of its sponsors nor the formulation of new American immigration policies to meet a new world of migration.
sws-08-4-16

A sad tale


The current dispute between Republican candidate for president Donald Trump and the family of a Moslem American soldier killed in combat in Afghanistan is a losing proposition for both sides.
When Khizr and Ghazala Khan decided to appear to tell their story of their son’s sacrifice for his country on the Democratic Convention broadcast, they were making it a political issue. They then cannot claim immunity when Trump attacks them for doing that.
Their excuse, of course, is that Trump’s earlier pronouncements on Moslems, his initial advocacy of banning all Moslem immigrants, had called them into the debate. They argued they had no alternative but to rebut the accusation that Moslem Americans were not loyal citizens. And the fact that they, as well as their son, were born abroad strengthened their argument with Trump.
The discussion has gone downhill ever since. Trump questioned the position of Mrs. Khan who did not speak initially, in effect, hinting it was the traditional repression of women in Islamic societies. Her physical aspect in the initial interview, including wearing a traditionl hijab [partial veil] seemed to confirm Trump’s hint. But she has since responded denying her submission to any restriction but offering the credible argument that any mention of her son made it almost impossible for her to control her emotions.
The whole affair, of course, points up the extreme difficulty of dealing with the problem of Moslems, most of all American Moslem citizens, in the current atmosphere. Any criticism of them is taken in some liberal quarters, including the Clinton presidential campaign, as islamophobia, a blanket prejudiced attack on a religious group.
But the fact remains that in the several instances of terrorism in the U.S. perpetrated by Moslem immigrants, often citizens, the question has hung in the air about how much their family and friends knew about their activities. Blanket denials that anything remotely connected with their terrorist acts was unforeseen seem dubious; can bomb-making and weapons practice take place in a home without the other members of the family knowing it is happening?
We can only guess that the source of much of the information which the FBI tells us has come into their hands and prevented many other attacks likely has come from fellow Moslems. They would be the first to sniff such activity. It is also apparent that what could be construed as sentiment among Moslems for the traditional acts of violence against kafirs [unbelievers or non-Moslems] which traditional Islam justifies is not shared by most American Moslems. But they are also likely to be intimidated if their lives are not actually threatened by the terrorists.
As the terrorists continue to strike out, not only in their base areas in the Middle East, but increasingly in Europe and the U.S. as they are being hammered by American and allied forces, this problem will become even more difficult. An honest discussion of Islam and whatever justification the Islamic terrorists claim derives from its ancient tenets is absolutely necessary.
It requires the kind of intellectual discrimination and honesty which paralleled The Cold War and the long fight to defeat Communism. The Communists claimed a progressives” role as sponsors of solutions to the contemporary world’s many problems, many of them part and parcel of the capitalist system. Often those arguments for reform appeared the same – if originating in quite different logical concepts – as those proposed by American liberals [not to be confused with European “liberals”]. It was always a moot point whether liberal spokesmen were indeed simply expressing similar goals or using subterfuge to cover their real loyalty to Communist goals.
The appellation of “McCarthyism”, the blanket condemnation of opponents as Communists simply because of their difference of opinion, has become a part of our political language. And not so unusually its origin is confused and its meaning misinterpreted. The fact is that many of Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s targets were indeed Communists who concealed their real identify. His excesses arose in no small part precisely because of that fact.
Today terrorism, Islamic terrorisms and Islam present elected officials and their supporters with a similar set of subtleties. But ignoring an open discussion of Islam and its relationship to the Islamic terrorists is not the answer to the problem.
sws-08-01-16

Shame on us!


The almost total absence of public mourning for an 85-year-old Christian priest whose throat was slit by Islamicist terrorists while he led prayer in a small church in Normandy, France, is a scandal.
Even the French have demonstrated less feeling for this horrendous deed than one would expect from an event which took place in the village which once hosted the trial of Joan of Arc, France’s national heroine and a saint of French Christianity.
There was no moment of silence in the U.S. Democratic Convention, not unexpected given its total avoidance of the worldwide terrorist threat. One could have expected that Pres. Barack Obama, too, would have made a special effort to acknowledge this incident, so gratuitously evil as to be virtually indescribable. But that might be charged to his continuing effort to obscure the terrorist threat by refusing to name its origin in Islam and his elaborate courting of the terrorist mullahs in Tehran.
Searching for the answer to our question is the general concern above all others of the American and European political elites to avoid any hint of criticism or Islam. To be accused of Islamophobia now is an accusation in the Establishment which ranks above all others by the moral standards of those believers in bien pensé Being “politically correct” bans any negative reference to Islam.
Not only is this errant nonsense but it is a continuing impediment to the forceful pursuit of a worldwide campaign to end Islamic terrorism. Moslems, above all, must concede that the terrorists now among us who pledge their loyalty to Islam as a religion must be confronted on that ideological score..As the crude phrase has it, not all Moslems are terrorists, of course. But all terrorists are Moslems.
What is it, indeed, that however twisted in the history and practice of Islam which can be misinterpreted, if you will, into a rational for the kind of killing of innocents that took place in Etienne du Rouvray, in an almost empty church, involving three parishioners, two nuns and a very old priest. Knife-wielding ISIS terrorists interrupted the service and slit the throat of Father Jacques Hamel and recorded their crime to use to attract new followers.
The truth is that much of the rationale which is constantly mouthed by our leadership about Islam simply is not true. It is not one of the three Abrahamic religions. It is a totalitarian concept which demands total adherence on the part of its believers for whatever its tenets as expressed by its largely uneducated clergy. The test of Greek knowledge which early was applied to Judaism and was a part of early Christianity was rejected almost a thousand years ago by Moslem theorists. The few Moslem voices who oppose Islamic terrorism are nevertheless reluctant to take on the problem of the political movement Islam represents.
Since its founding in the Arabian deserts, Islam has not been a religion of peace is so often stated. It has, in fact, from its origins been spread largely by the sword with the death of “non-believers” and those Moslems who have rejected its principal tenets.
The history of Europe shows how since its founding 1500 years ago, organized Islam – when it has existed – has challenged the political status of the European states. At its high points of strength, it has come near overpowering European armies and putting the West to the sword of forced conversion.
Yes, it is true, that Islam has absorbed – after its initial brutal and primitive organization among the Arabs – some of the rich philosophical background of its conquests such as from the Persians. But it remains, largely, a religion of conquest wherein now reside many, perhaps a majority, of supposed adherents who reject this concept. But it is also true that often through intimidation and intellectual confusion this vast majority refuses or fears to publicly oppose its ignominious concepts.
Until this problem of the fundamental relationship between Western societies and the peaceful Buddhist societies of Asia is addressed, there is no hope of defeating the continuing worldwide terrorist threat.
sws-07-30-16

Dumbing down?


We seem to be going through one of those periods – real or imagined – when “nothing works”.
Our digital revolution has given us a welter of new “systems” covering, seemingly, virtually all human activity. But try as we may, something almost always seems to go wrong – the internet salesperson doesn’t know they don’t ship to post office boxes so a purchase wanders around for weeks, the courier [even with his Global Position System] insists our address doesn’t exist, expensive telephone “information” gives us a wrong number, the instructions for reading our telephone messages appears to be translated from Japanese, etc., etc.
We have a terrible, frightening suspicion that the essence of American economic management which introduced our improvements on the industrial revolution may have gone too far. The essence of the system was to reduce complicated manufacturing jobs or other economic positions to a single decision. Then, poorly trained or inefficient members of the workforce could do minimum damage and the system would move on.
Digitalization has simplified, in theory, the whole process even more.
Now computers bear the burden of much of the decision-making and the individual worker just pushes a button for a single action. Thus the once vaunted role of cashier – an individual who could engage the customer, calculate the purchase or purchases, pacl them into containers, take the customer’s money or examine his personal bank check, calculate the change, and send him on his way with a generous greeting and welcome back is gone.
Today – and all signs point to even this single action going by the boards [to coin a phrase] tomorrow – is to move the items across a sensor and either take the currency offered or more likely watch anonymously as the customer swipes his xredit card on an automatic machine.
You have to wonder what are the psychol
But, ultimately, decision-making has to take place at some human level in every organization. And despite what is generally regarded as intensive training – in the so-called business schools and company programs – we have to wonder if the dumbing-down process hasn’t seeped up the salary scale.
ogical implications of this change in the cashier’s role, from celebrated multitasking expert to an anonymous robot facing the customer as he departs.
It’s all done in the name of efficiency. Take for instance the decision to move “call centers”, that is central inquiry and instruction service, overseas to cheaper wage respondents.
More than once recently we have had the maddening experience of reaching a call center in India or Timbuku or even the Philippines where the respondent was neither a native English speaker nor had a clue about American geography. After an excruciating circular conversation, mostly one-sided as the respondent overseas while speaking some kind of English answered in rote messages, a screaming session took place calling for a supervisor, who if luck were with you, was an English-speaking native back in the U.S., who immediately solved “the problem”.
We cannot believe that there is anything efficient in that whole system, and that, in fact, instead of saving money, it isn’t costing the operators in time and expenses. Wages, after all, are measured in service to the operation rather than dollars and cents [or pesos and paisa].
Bottom line: the dumbing-down process which has reduced the individual worker to one motion, one job, one idea, may well so cripple his psyche that he isn’t even very good at that one action. And we don’t even want to think about the possible destruction of a normal healthy personality this process incurs.
sws-07-29-16

The whirling dervish


Sec. John Kerry played hooky from the final session of a North Atlantic Treaty Organizationn meeting in Warsaw to attend “Hamilton” in New York City. Apparently seeing with his family and entourage the original cast of the musical was more important that concluding a NATO meeting in one of the central European states increasingly menaced by Russian Tsar Valdimir Putin. The slight to our NATO allies comes at a critical time when both Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, and other politicians and security experts, are calling for a remodeling NATO.
The Kerry escapade puts the finishing touch on a routine that begs the question of what are the responsibilities of the secretary of state and how does he fulfill them. Kerry, following in the airflow of his predecessor, Hillary Clinton, is almost always on the road. His brief touchdowns are only exceeded by the flow of state press releases which clutter the same airways.
It is ironic – and a bit perplexing – that at a time when digital communications permit contact in almost every conceivable way [except touch and that is probably coming!] that the secretaries think their mission involves constant foreign travel.
This travel routine is revolutionizing the whole American diplomatic process. And there is good reason to believe that it is not for the better.
The old method of maintaining foreign relations had its flaws, of course. Political appointments handed out by newly elected presidents for elections support often went to unqualified or inattentive candidates. But, for the most part, these were to the major European fleshpots – London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, etc. – which had long and intimate relations with Washington and important lines of communication through business and cultural interests.
Then, too, there was the often arrogant attitude of the U.S. Foreign Service, the professionals in the State Department, recruited, first, through highly touted formal written examinations as well as personnel scrutiny. In the past, too often this had been a coterie from elite families and the Ivy League schools, isolating the service from the American public, and even from elected officials. Too often they became part of an international elite with interests and sometimes even attitudes closer to their foreign colleagues than to the American public they were supposed to serve.
But more recently, Madeleine Albright, who because of her foreign birth and her father’s role as a Czechoslovak diplomat and American professor of foreign affairs, already was a member of that international diplomatic elite. Albright, with the coming of faster jets and more accessible routes began to set the pattern of increasing personal visits abroad.
This Secretary-on-the-stoop role has elbowed out the ambassador on the spot, supposedly either a career professional steeped in the local political culture, or a political appointee with his own relationships. We have a strong suspicion that what happens, naturally enough, is that the local ambassador’s knowledge and reporting, gets drowned out by the parachuted-in secretary’s horseback judgments.
We can’t believe, either, that the secretary doesn’t have enough to keep him busy at home rather than gallivanting around the world. With a budget of $65.9 billion [FY 2015], 13,000 Foreign Service Officers, 11,000 Civil Service employees, and 45,000 local Foreign Service Local employees, the secretary of state has an enormous bureaucracy to police. In addition, the U.S. Agency for International Development [overseas economic aid] with 3,797 U.S. employees and a $35.6 billion budget [FY 2014] reports in to the Secretary. Having gobbled up the former U.S. Information Service [to its functions detriment according to many media observers], the flow of paper out of Foggy Bottom is endless and requires some supervision at the highest level.
That’s why we think there is a growing necessity for the secretary to stay home and attend his knitting rather than the near hysteria of constant foreign travel. [Those weekends in New York could, by the way, be better managed from Washington than Warsaw.]

sws-07-27-16

The coming clash with China


Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the fall of 2011 used the buzz word “:pivot” three times to announce a major shift in the Obama foreign policy, putting major emphasis on South and East Asia Asia. But the reality – as detailed in a report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies commissioned by Congress – is that the Administration’s rebalance effort may be insufficient” to secure American interests. Clinton herself, in her campaign for president, has reversed her stand on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, one of the major diplomatic and economic initiatives after spending years working on it.

Whether or not Clinton makes it to the presidency, what is becoming increasingly clear is that China, itself, is headed for a crash which will not only threaten her Communist regime but the U.S. – and its allies – ability to deal with it.

A similar breakdown of the Chinese state occurred in the 19th Century. But in the heyday of European colonialism and American expansion into the Western Pacific, it came piecemeal. And however catastrophic for the Chinese people, its effects largely were relegated to the sidelines of world history.

But in the 21st century, as China and its 1.3 billion people again appear likely to crash, a failed state with all its new and intimate trade and political relation ships to the rest of the world will also be catastrophic for its partners.

The signs of the approaching crisis are not that hard to discern. But precisely because they carry such weight, they are being studiously ignored in Washington’s political corridors in favor of much more publicized domestic and international events.

The evidence for a prediction of a Chinese crash is stark:

Xi Jinping, China’s Communist Party head and chief of state and government, is failing in his attempt to make himself an all-powerful reincarnation of Chairman Mao Tse-tung. His increasing repression, despite the new environment of the digital revolution with its pervasive social media, been Maoist in its aspirations. But a recent conference on China’s growing economic, political and social problems sponsored by Xi’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang dramatically excluded Xi’s participation. It was immediately seen that contrary to a general perception abroad, the struggle within the Party for control continues, to the detriment of governance in a time of rising economic and political crisis.

That crisis arises from the fact the raison d’etre of the regime stripped of its Marxist ideology in all but name, has been sensational economic growth, is under siege. The increasingly suspect Chinese statistics claim its gross national product is still growing at 6.7 percent, a long way from 2003 to 2008, when annual growth averaged more than 11 percent,

But this growth is at the cost of a rapidly escalating debt. Beijing borrowed its way out of the 2007-8 world financial crisis with a massive stimulus program. The ratio of such continued borrowing is rising rapidly. This year it has taken six yuan for every yuan of growth. China’s money supply is now 73 percent higher than in the United States, an economy about 60 percent larger. Furthermore, that debt is being incurred disproportionately by the giant inefficient state enterprises through their Party allegiance rather than the small but entrepreneurial semi-private sector. China’s export oriented economy is not as virtually all informed observers suggest ranging toward domestic consumption, and the political season makes it almost certain the U.S.] new administration, whichever candidate wins, will move toward curbing Beijing’s violations of fair trade.

Meanwhile, whether as a result of its growing influence on government or as an attempt to detract from domestic issues, Beijing is pursuing a more and more aggressive foreign policy. Sensing the Obama Administration’s attempt to reduce overseas American committeemen’s, it has ploughed ahead with flimsy claims to shoals in the South China Sea thousand miles from its Mainland. By militarizing them at a rapid rate, it has openly challenged that most hallowed of I.S. foreign policies, freedom of the seas, straddling athwart one of the world’s most important waterways.

It appears unlikely that either of these three trends will be reversed in the near term. Not only do they threaten U.S. interests, but those of China’s neighbors – whether a rearming Japan, or the more vulnerable Southeast Asians whom Beijing attempts to dominate one by one. Again, whether by direction or at their own initiative, Chinese naval and air units are challenging the U.S.in international waters. The likelihood of a clash, perhaps one that cannot be managed short of war, appear likely in the offing.

sws-07-24-16

Plugging, common sense and precision


It was inevitable, of course, that when The Digital Revolution spawned The Information Revolution, it would simultaneously open up The Misinformation Revolution.
If anyone, anywhere, anytime – except perhaps in China – can gap on the internet and pontificate, a great deal of what is there is bound to be even worse than nonsense, but poisonous. The only defense is a resort to history, which seems to have gone out of style as an academic discipline, and common sense.
Here are cases in point:
The CN-NPR war against the candidacy of Donald Trump, whatever your own views about The Donald, constantly harps on the theme of the minority vote which they conclude he will not receive. Mebbe. But it is well to remember that in the past – with the enormous exception, granted, of 2008 and 2012, and for obvious reasons — was never a major factor in elections. Even registered black voters notoriously did not vote, and the Mexican-Americans in the southwest, less half as much as they. It remains to be seen if Pres. Barack Obama’s face, and the incredibly honed digital machine his supporters built, has reversed these historic trends.
Speaking of Hispanics. There are none. There are Americans who language in their household – or perhaps their only language in parts of the Southwest – is Spanish, properly Castellano. But, for example, antagonism between Mexico and Cuba in the Spanish Empire was the feud to end all feuds. That carried on among their progeny in the U.S. The Florida and New Jersey Cuban minorities, because of the flight of many of them and their antagonism to the Castro regime, have in the past been Republican with notable exceptions, e.g. Bob Menendez, Democrat, New Jersey (2006–Present), Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New Jersey’s 13th district [993-2006]. The flirtation with Raúl Castro of the Obama Administration is likely to end the erosion which was taking place among younger Cuban Americans in recent years. Puerto Ricans is the largest Spanish-speaking minority in Florida; they cannot vote in federal elections in Puerto Rico. They tend to be Democrats because of the long affiliation the first popularly elected governor of the Rican Commonwealth Luis Muñoz Marín local social democratic party was tied to the Democrats’ New Deal on the Mainland. California Mexican-Americans, when they vote tend, to be indeed solidly Democratic, but the Bushes and the current governor, Greg Abbott, has cut heavily into their formerly Democrat base. By the way, all speak Spanish but most Mexicans will admit – unless they come from their own Caribbean coast, e.g. Tampico – that they have great difficulty understanding Cubans and Puerto Ricans’ Spanish.
The Trump campaign keeps trumpeting a “fact”; the candidate earned more votes than any GOP primary candidate in history , they argue, in his primary race with 17 opponents whom he liquidated [or did more or less so until Ted Cruz’ ghost showed up at the third day of the Republican convention]. The “fact” is indisputable, but in no small part explained by another fact: the current estimate of the U.S. population is 322.48 [not counting an unknown number of illegals], more than double the 163.03 million estimated in 1954. Obviously, what is considered the minority political party – kept under an Electoral College handicap by the huge and continuing Democratic majorities in New York and California – has gained spectacularly? With an unprecedented number of candidates all salivating at the possibility of running against a “third Obama administration masquerading as Hillary Clinton, that impetus would have been even stronger. There was large numbers of Democrats and independents, in the states where registration can be changed easily, switching their party affiliation to Republican to take part in the free-for-all.
The CNNers and NPRers are trumpeting the divisions of the just ended Republican Convention, again, as the first time ever, etc. In fact, in the modern era both political parties have been coalitions of regional forces – often at ideological loggerheads with one another but both more interested in power than more egests. The Talking Heads ignore, for example, the fact that the Democratic Party which ruled [under Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry Truman] for two decades was a coalition of segregationists [“The Solid South, Dixiecrats, etc], highly personal urban political “machines [Tammany in NYC, Hague in Jersey City, Daley in Chicago and Pendergrass in Kansas City – from which Truman, himself emerged], the AFL-CIO unions, socialists and Communists, and FDR’s “kitchen cabinet” of academic advisers. Furthermore, vice presidents – to “balance” ticket geographically – virtually disappeared with FDR’s firing of Henry Wallace, an Iowa and agricultural society icon, in 1936. [I know; I was writing editorials in my hometown weekly supporting Wallace and the AFL-CIO Political Action Committee!] So-called platform committees in both parties have been irrelevant in terms of influencing the candidates’ policy but simply a combat ring for battling. Party apparatchiks.
So what’s the lesson here? Obviously, don’t believe everything The Talking Heads say with great authority. [It’s something of a delight to listen to one noted female star that has suddenly blossomed into an expert on the Mideast!] Remember, — at least for the time being –Google, and there are dictionaries, the Britannica, to check them out. But most of all maintain your own skepticisms – everything on the Internet is not The Word!
sws-07-21-16

Obama lies about Iran


A secret codicil now reveals that Pres. Barack Hussein Obama’s vaunted nuclear proliferation agreement with Iran is at least in part a fraud.
On the first anniversary of the agreement, Obama again claimed the agreement he made with the Persian Islamicists was successful in “avoiding further conflict and making us safer.”
The newly discovered secret agreement, however, indicates that critical points in the publicized executive agreement which Obama refused to put through the treaty process with the Congress, are less than claimed or non-existent.
The new document makes Obama’s claims much less than originally announced. The agreement was signed by all the five countries that participated with the U.S. in its effort to keep the Tehran mullahs from moving to a nuclear weapon and being able to deliver it.
But Obama’s agreement, the until now secret document release, permits the Tehran mullahs to proceed with various aspects of their weapons production in a much shorter time frame than originally claimed for the agreement. :
Iran can as of January 2027 — 11 years after the deal was implemented — begin to replace its mainstay centrifuges to produce fissionable material. The agreement had been presented as a 20-year accord.
These new centrifuges could be up to five times more efficient than the little over 5,000 machine it is now restricted to use. That would permit Tehran to produce bomb fuel at twice its current rate.
Because of the efficiency of the new machines, instead of a year, the mullahs could now make a decision to make a bomb and produce it in six months. In the original agreement, it was estimated that it would take them a year as the “break out” time needed.
The UN Atomic Energy Agency now claims Tehran is adhering to the agreement it made with Obama and the major powers just a year ago. But this is the same UN agency which failed earlier to report Iran’s nuclear fuel activity. That clandestine activity at the Iranian installations was reported by Persian exiles in Iraq and later confirmed by the UN agency.
. The document which had been secret until now was obtained by the Associated Press from undisclosed sources. The AP claims its authenticity has been confirmed by several other also undisclosed informants who are expert on atomic issues or the Persian scene.
Before going into recess last week, the Congress passed legislation imposing new sanctions on Tehran for continuing publicly announced development and testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles. The program, the White House admits, can only be meant to carry atomic warheads. It was not part of Obama’s nuclear agreement with the mullahs.
The legislation also prohibits the White House from continuing to buy heavy water, a raw material used in producing nuclear weapons. The White house has rationalized this contribution to the income of the world’s leading state terrorists as removing an ingredient for possible bomb-making. It remains to be seen if Obama will veto it and if the hawks in the Congress can override his veto with the aid of security-minded Democrats.
The effect of the revelations has intensified the mystery of Obama’s efforts, seemingly, to reach some sort of overall Mideast modus operandi with the Tehran mullahs. It came on the heels of the Administration releasing a 28-page document, part of the original report on the 9/11 attacks on the U.S., indicating complicity of some Saudi elements – perhaps officials – in the attack.
Why this highly formerly classified document was released now has not been disclosed by the Administration. But it has added to the concern among America’s traditional Sunni allies in the region of the growing Persian strength through expansion of cooperation with its allies on the Mediterranean. Hamas in Gaza [originally a creature of the Sunni Moslem Brotherhood from which most of the terrorist organizations have emerged] and Hizbollah, a Shia terrorist group now dominant in Lebnaon, are now full-blown allies of Tehran’.
It is time for the Obama Administration to reveal its Mideast strategy which has reach crisis concern to both Washington’s traditional Arab allies and to Israel.
sws-07-20-16

The Turkish model is dead


The effects of Turkey’s secularist hiccup last week when for the most part junior military tried to overthrow the regime will be long-term, inimitable, and disastrous for the U.S. and Afro-Asia.
For almost a hundred years, Turkey’s effort to modernize from the top down has been a possible model for much of the non-industrialized world. Mustafa Kemal, the country’s victor in the civil war which destroyed the old Ottoman multicultural empire, set out to “Europeanize” the country, shearing off its former leadership as the clerical as well as political Islamic world.
For Washington, Ataturk’s successor regime has been a bulwark, with its second largest North Atlantic Treaty Organization. army [more than half a million] holding up the eastern wing of the alliance. During The Cold War it was Ankara’s forces backed by U.S. land, sea, and air bases that prevented further Soviet expansion into the Mediterranean. This has come at an enormous price [$4 billion by 1997 in direct aid] in American aid; as late as July this year an argument was continuing over a $26-billion package including grants and loan guarantees.
The selection of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party [AKP] in 2003 opened the floodgates to a new competitive economy replacing at least in part Ataturk’s state capitalism. Remittances from Turks overseas [three million in Germany alone], foreign investment and an ambitious overseas tied-aid program of its own, seemed to be fulfilling Kemal Pasha’s aspirations, making it the fastest growing economy in Europe at more than 10% annually.
Despite Erdogan and the AKP’s ambiguity on permitting Washington to move forces through Turkey during George W. Bush’s 2002 Iraq War – or perhaps precisely because of it – soon after his election Pres. Barack Hussein Obama began to court Erdogan. Obama apparently saw Erdogan as a moderate Muslim democrat who could help him stabilize the Middle East. In a 2011 interview Obama named Erdogan, along with Germany Chancellor Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron, as one of the five world leaders with whom he had the strongest bonds. They exchanged frequent calls and the U.S. president commiserated for 45 minutes on the death of Erdogan’s mother.
But a flagging economy and Erdogan’s growing grasp for power as he moved into the presidency in 2012 has clouded the picture. A well-known quotation – whether true or apocryphal – describes Erdogan’s politics: “Democracy is like a streetcar. When you come to your stop, you get off.” Long before the attempted coup, he had unmercifully purged the senior military – the guardians of Ataturk’s secularist state — installing his own men. He also packed the judiciary and has more journalists in jail than any other regime. His threats since the failed coup to go even further with repressive measures and his own new constitution look like an old Mideastern pattern.
But worse still has been his pandering to Islamic elements, especially rural Anatolia where his conservative views are most popular. How far toward an Islamic state will Erdogan go is now an open question? Earlier critics who pointed out Turkey did little to curb the flow of Syrian and other refugees to Western Europe – a million last year alone to Germany. In fact, he used the refugee flow to blackmail Merkel into a huge new aid program and a laissez-passer for Turkish citizens in the European Union. Other EU members may demur, particularly France, with its opposition coming to a head in October is stronger after the massacre last week on the Riviera. .Erdogan already has used any criticism of his regime in Western Europe and the U.S. as evidence for his frequent charges of foreign intervention.
Talk among Erdogan supporters of establishing Sunni Islam as the state religions have been knocked down by Erdogan himself. But he always has flirted with radical Islamic terrorists. Gaza’s Hamas [the cause of his break with Israel] has openly operated as has Erdogan’s sympathy for Hizbollah [even it is Shia] in its fight against Basher al-Assad in Syria. That makes him less than a reliable ally in Pres. Barack Hussein Obama’s effort to “degrade and [eventually[destroy” Daesh [ISIS or ISIL]..
Not only is the Turkish model gone, but there is every reason to question its future role as a NATO member..[Erdogan temporarilly closed the joint U.S.-Turkish NATO Incirlik air base, only 80 miles from the Syrian border, which Obama has been using in his low level war against Daesh.] Such moves could cripple an already limping alliance, successful as NATO.was for half century in the defeat of Communism.
sws-07-18-16