Thursday, January 09, 2014

Contrary to what peaceniks claimed, battles still rage in Iraq, and that in the absence of an "occupation" by foreign troops

It‘s been two years since Americans troops departed Iraq 
writes Benny Huang who served a tour in Iraq
and the nation is still burning. The yearly death toll has been calculated and it’s nothing short of horrifying. In total, 7,818 civilians and 1,050 members of the security forces lost their lives in 2013, making it the most violent in five years.

The nearly nine year war our military fought in Iraq is now fading away in our national rear-view mirror. Our boys and girls are no longer in that oily third world hell hole and we’re glad for it. Most of us, I suspect, would rather not ponder too long a war that so deeply divided this nation. So we just don’t talk about it.

Though Americans have shifted their attention away from Iraq, the country is still roiling with car bombs and drive-by shootings. Our news media no longer covers it in horrific detail but it’s still happening.

At the risk of sounding insensitive or smug, there’s something I have to get off of my chest: I told you so.

Removing American soldiers from the equation did nothing to reduce violence. To the contrary, the infusion of troops during the surge was what brought violence down to manageable levels. Since leaving, those numbers have crept up again. 

The conventional wisdom concerning the insurgency in Iraq was that it would dry up as soon as our troops left. The insurgents were, after all, merely fighting to evict foreign occupiers from their homeland.

There are a number of problems with this analysis. The first is that the Iraqi insurgency wasn’t entirely Iraqi by nationality. Although it was impossible to determine the exact proportion of foreign fighters, there were indicators. Nearly all of al-Qaeda’s top leadership in Iraq was non-Iraqi, including the Egyptian kingpin Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Ninety percent of suicide bombers were non-Iraqi. This was not an entirely homegrown movement designed to get foreign invaders out of “their” country.

 … Apparently our presence was not the only reason they were fighting. If that were the case there would be no more bloodshed in Iraq two years after final American withdrawal.

The facile thinking of eight years ago predicted peace in Iraq as soon as coalition forces departed. The party line was that America brought war to Iraq and war would continue until America decided to end it. The faster we came home the faster the bleeding would stop.

William Pfaff, writing at the Korea Herald, summed up that school of thought particularly well. “The insurgents are fighting because of the occupation, and the occupation forces are fighting because there is resistance.” … Fred Kaplan, liberal puke at Slate Magazine, the preferred internet news source of liberal pukes everywhere, sounded a similar sentiment. …

The occupation is gone. What are they “insurging” against now? Could it be that achieving the first step in their plan—expelling the coalition—only emboldened them to push on toward their ultimate goals?

No single concept animated the anti-Iraq War movement more than the assumption that our presence is what made Iraq a hostile place. This assumption framed the entire debate. Those who wanted to beat a hasty retreat counted themselves as peaceniks while portraying their opponents as war-mongers. They seemed incapable of understanding that we all wanted peace. Simply leaving however, was no guarantee that peace would automatically bloom across Iraq.

Time has demonstrated that the insurgency did not merely exist to battle us. Our fighting men and women have gone home and there is still no peace to be found between the Tigris and the Euphrates. I could have predicted that eight years ago. I did predict it eight years ago, in fact. I knew that all things come to an end, even occupations. One day the coalition would leave and the people they were trying to counter would just keep on fighting. Nothing would change in Iraq unless we defeated those forces, which we obviously failed to do.

In that regard, I was prescient. But in another way, I was naïve in my expectations. I mistakenly believed that once people saw the folly of the anti-Iraq War’s central premise—that the insurgency only existed because our troops were there—that they would entertain earnest second thoughts. People might begin to understand that their friends and neighbors who argued in favor of the Iraq War were not doing so because they hated peace or anything as juvenile as that. Who hates peace? They argued in favor of the Iraq War because defeating the bad guys was the best way to achieve peace.

 In the end, we handed the baton to the Iraqis, of which I am glad. It’s their fight now. Let’s not forget, however, that a fight still exists even in the absence of a foreign occupation.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Almost 90 percent of police officers believe casualties would be decreased if armed citizens were present during shooting incidents

If more citizens were armed, criminals would think twice about attacking them
 reports The Detroit News's George Hunter the city's Police Chief as saying (thanks to Clash Daily).
Urban police chiefs are typically in favor of gun control or reluctant to discuss the issue, but [James Craig] on Thursday was candid about how he’s changed his mind.

“When we look at the good community members who have concealed weapons permits, the likelihood they’ll shoot is based on a lack of confidence in this Police Department,” Craig said at a press conference at police headquarters, adding that he thinks more Detroit citizens feel safer, thanks in part to a 7 percent drop in violent crime in 2013.

 Craig said he started believing that legal gun owners can deter crime when he became police chief in Portland, Maine, in 2009.

 “Coming from California (Craig was on the Los Angeles police force for 28 years), where it takes an act of Congress to get a concealed weapon permit, I got to Maine, where they give out lots of CCWs (carrying concealed weapon permits), and I had a stack of CCW permits I was denying; that was my orientation.

 “I changed my orientation real quick. Maine is one of the safest places in America. Clearly, suspects knew that good Americans were armed.”

 … According to a March 2013 anonymous poll of 15,000 officers by the law enforcement website, almost 90 percent of the respondents believed casualties would be decreased if armed citizens were present during shooting incidents, while more than 80 percent supported arming teachers who were trained with firearms.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Even Newsweek: "There is a grayness in France that the heavy hand of socialism casts"

It’s a stretch, but what is happening today in France is being compared to the revocation of 1685
quips Janine di Giovanni in Newsweek (merci à Damian, who bewails the fact that "The tone of the article is shock and sadness, 'Oh how sad that socialism has ruined France' ").
In that year, Louis XIV, the Sun King who built the Palace of Versailles, revoked the Edict of Nantes, which had protected French Protestants – the Huguenots. Trying to unite his kingdom by a common religion, the king closed churches and persecuted the Huguenots. As a result, nearly 700,000 of them fled France, seeking asylum in England, Sweden, Switzerland, South Africa and other countries.

The Huguenots, nearly a million strong before 1685, were thought of as the worker bees of France. They left without money, but took with them their many and various skills. They left France with a noticeable brain drain. 

Since the arrival of Socialist President François Hollande in 2012, income tax and social security contributions in France have skyrocketed. The top tax rate is 75 percent, and a great many pay in excess of 70 percent.

As a result, there has been a frantic bolt for the border by the very people who create economic growth – business leaders, innovators, creative thinkers, and top executives. They are all leaving France to develop their talents elsewhere.

And it’s a tragedy for such a historically rich country. As they say, the problem with the French is they have no word for entrepreneur. Where is the Richard Branson of France? Where is the Bill Gates?
At this point Hervé jumps in to make a point:
I haven't read the whole piece yet, but this made me barf:
As they say, the problem with the French is they have no word for entrepreneur.
I thought only GW Bush would be stupid enought to come up with that... But hey, she's a journalist.

I will read the rest though. But as you say, what's Newsweek's point? As I recall, they were in a state of trans when the Afromarxist was elected. Somehow it wouldn't work in France but it would in the US? I guess English speaking journalists don't have a word for bullshit.
Back to Newsweek:
 Pierre Moscovici, the much-loathed minister of finance … was looking very happy with himself. Does he realize Rome is burning? 
Granted, there is much to be grateful for in France. An economy that boasts successful infrastructure such as its high-speed rail service, the TGV, and Airbus, as well as international businesses like the luxury goods conglomerate LMVH, all of which define French excellence. It has the best agricultural industry in Europe. Its tourism industry is one of the best in the world.

But the past two years have seen a steady, noticeable decline in France. There is a grayness that the heavy hand of socialism casts. It is increasingly difficult to start a small business when you cannot fire useless employees and hire fresh new talent. Like the Huguenots, young graduates see no future and plan their escape to London.

  … Part of this is the fault of the suffocating nanny state. … With the end of the reign of Gaullist (conservative) Nicolas Sarkozy (the French hated his flashy bling-bling approach) the French ushered in the rotund, staid Hollande.

Almost immediately, taxes began to rise. 

I did not mind, initially, paying higher taxes than in Britain in exchange for excellent health care, and for masterful state-subsidized schools like the one my son attends (L’Ecole Alsacienne – founded by some of the few remaining Huguenots at the end of the 19th century). 
As a new mother, I was surprised at the many state benefits to be had if you filled out all the forms: Diapers were free; nannies were tax-deductible; free nurseries existed in every neighborhood. State social workers arrived at my door to help me “organize my nursery.” My son’s school lunch consists of three courses, plus a cheese plate.

 …  When I began to look around, I saw people taking wild advantage of the system. I had friends who belonged to trade unions, which allowed them to take entire summers off and collect 55 percent unemployment pay.

 … But all this handing out of money left the state bankrupt. 

Also, France, being a nation of navel-gazers à la Jean-Paul Sartre, refuses to look outward, toward the global village. Who cares about the BRICS – the emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – when we have Paris? It is a tunnel-vision philosophy that will kill France

 … From a chief legal counsel at a major French company: “France is dying a slow death. Socialism is killing it. It’s like a rich old family being unable to give up the servants. Think Downton Abbey.”

 … To wake up, France has to rid itself of the old guard, and reinvent itself. 

François Hollande made his first trip to China only when he became head of state in 2012 – and he’s 58 years old. The government is so inward looking and the state fonctionnaires who run it are so divorced from reality that it has become a country in denial.

  … politicians like Hollande have to let the people breathe. Creativity and prosperity can only come about when citizens can build, create, and thrive
Finally, Damian returns to answer Hervé's comment and make another point or two about the ("We Are All Socialists Now") Newsweek article:
I guess English speaking journalists don't have a word for bullshit.

Actually most news services do have such a word. They call it "the news". …

Notice that the writer doesn't linger on hard facts or statistical evidence of decline. No it's all talk with her "friends". So. If only her "friends" had better attitudes or weren't cheats -- or if she had a better set of "friends" altogether -- French socialism might work fine!  I mean, FREE DIAPERS!

Europe with European versions of the Tea Party
the continent's troubled economies warns (sic) The Economist.
In May voters across the 28-member European Union will elect 751 deputies to the European Parliament. Polls suggest that the FN could win a plurality of the votes in France. The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) has similarly high hopes, as does the Freedom Party (PVV) in the Netherlands. Anti-EU populists of the left and right could take between 16% and 25% of the parliament’s seats, up from 12% today. Many of those votes will go to established parties of the Eurosceptic left. But those of the right and far right might take about 9%. And it is they, not the parties of the left, who are scaring the mainstream.
There are numerous problems with this simplistic put-'em-all-in-th'-same-barrel view.

For instance, France's National Front should in no way be assimilated to the Tea Party. As No Pasarán and Le Monde Watch have reported numerous times,  
the Front National's Marine Le Pen criticizes privatization and "extreme" free market policies, holding that France needs "a strong state", while one of her top aides speaks of taking advantage of the fears engendered by globalization and surfing on insecurity and on social suffering
When told "that in the U.S. she would sound like a left-wing politician", she went as far as telling the New York Times's Russell Shorto that Barack "Obama is way to the right of us”!

Meanwhile, Adam Shaw is perhaps more on the money when the Fox News reporter says that "the often stale British political system is being rocked by its very own Tea Party."
The UK Independence Party (UKIP), formed in 1993 opposing Britain’s entry into the European Union, failed to make an electoral dent for a long time. However UKIP has built up steam in recent years and is spearheading a seismic shift in the British political spectrum.

In this year’s local elections – the British version of midterms -- UKIP took a stunning 23 percent of the vote, up from the 3.1 percent they won in the 2010 national election. Their leader, Nigel Farage, is buoyed by their recent success.

“We want to take back our country, we want to take back our government, and we want to take back our birthright,” Farage told in forthright language rarely seen in British politics.

 … It is here where UKIP spied an opportunity, adopting an anti-establishment, populist platform that argues for lower taxation, privatization, smaller government and getting Britain out of the European Union.

 … “The sense of frustration the Tea Party feels about the remoteness about the bureaucratic class of the Washington beltway is similar to our frustration with being dealt with by Brussels,” said Farage.

Many experts agree. Andrew Russell, Head of Politics at the University of Manchester, told that the comparison between the Tea Party and UKIP is an accurate one, and that he believes that UKIP could take the 2014 elections by storm,

“UKIP will do well in the 2014 European elections. They may even win them in terms of the popular vote. This will increase the pressure on the Conservatives.”

Yet instead of reaching out and finding middle ground, the Tories have snubbed UKIP. In 2006 David Cameron dismissed the newcomers as full of “fruitcakes and loonies and closet racists,” and top Tory Kenneth Clark recently branded them as “a collection of clowns.”

 … As a right-wing libertarian, populist movement, there are many comparisons to be drawn with the Tea Party, yet Farage argues that there are differences too, particularly that UKIP wants to take votes away from the Tories, not to reform them.

It is here that could make them bigger in Britain than the Tea Party in America – UKIP is making inroads as a party, not just through individual candidates.

What remains to be seen is how UKIP will capitalize on their situation, and in that the next year will be vital.

“Like the Tea Party UKIP might have a profound effect on their closest neighbors politically,” Russell told “But like the Tea Party they might repel the crucial section of support needed for that party to win.”

Sunday, January 05, 2014

French Leader Proposes an International Coalition to Stand Up to Totalitarian States

PARIS — A coalition between the United States, Great Britain, France and Soviet Russia was advocated by Former Premier Léon Blum [on Dec. 26, 1938] in a speech before the French Socialist Congress
reports the International Herald Tribune in its 75 Years Ago section,
as the sole means of preventing the totalitarian states — Germany and Italy — from obtaining domination of the world. France, declared the Socialist leader, should act as the link to bring together the democratic Anglo-Saxon powers in a common bloc with the Soviet Union, he said.