“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Closet Muslim President and a Clueless Secretary of State

Barack Obama and Argentina President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner

This is the Left Wing President of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, talking about revolution to the Russians, obviously hosable, but you would not want her anywhere near a political office.


American neutrality on the Falklands is a symptom of US foreign policy drift

By James Corum World Last updated: February 26th, 2010

James Corum is Dean of the Baltic Defence College in Estonia. He has taught at American and British staff colleges and is the author of seven books on military history and counter-insurgency. He is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army Reserve (rtd) and has 28 years' experience as an army officer.

The Bush administration got a lot of things wrong – but at least they usually had some idea of who America’s adversaries were and who America’s friends were. For example, Bush’s policy of maintaining the special relationship with Britain was a simple recognition of the close bonds of alliance, friendship and interests that the British and Americans have had since World War I.

In contrast, Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are apparently clueless about some of the most basic aspects of foreign policy: supporting one’s friends and fencing in one’s adversaries. The declaration of neutrality on the issue of the sovereignty of the Falklands issued by the US State Department is clear proof of the uselessness of the Obama administration.

In the grand scheme of things it makes little sense for America to give moral support to the Kirchner government in Argentina. Kirchner is no friend of the US and Kirchner’s government is in deep domestic trouble for its gross mismanagement of the economy and its attempts to suppress the press criticism of the regime at home. One has to wonder what benefit America gets out of hurting Britain on this issue. Perhaps Obama thinks that the more Leftist Latin American regimes will somehow approve of the US. If that is the case, he is truly mistaken, as most Latin American nations dislike the Argentineans, and have little sympathy for the mess Argentina got into over the Falklands.

But this mess is just typical of the drift in US foreign policy – if one can say that it even HAS a coherent foreign policy these days. As I said, at the core of the problem is a simple inability to recognise and support our friends over adversaries. In his first year in office Obama made numerous apologies for America’s past to the Third World, he effusively greeted the Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, he bowed low to the Saudi ruler, and called for a “reset” of relations with Russia – all the while implying that America was at fault for all these problems. At the same time he rudely undermined the security of America’s Eastern European allies by cancelling the ballistic missile defence with no notice and no prior discussion, he failed to push for a free trade agreement with Colombia – America’s strongest ally in South America – and he supported Chavez’s allies when they tried (luckily unsuccessfully) to unseat a democratic and pro-US government in Honduras.

A big part of the problem is a Secretary of State who is a lightweight as far as foreign policy is concerned. Obama brought Hillary Clinton into the cabinet for domestic policy considerations. He needed to put Mrs Clinton – and her husband – under tight control. As a powerful senator from New York, she would probably have taken over as the de facto leader of the Democratic Party and been able to challenge Obama’s “Chicago Gang” for control of the party.

Despite the acclaim that America’s mainstream media has heaped on Hillary Clinton over the years, her foreign policy background and experience before becoming Secretary of State was to accompany her husband on foreign trips and preside over “first wives” dinners for the spouses of visiting heads of state. One learns a lot about protocol and ceremonies – but this is no preparation for the real work of making policy. Clinton has no experience or education in foreign policy. She speaks no foreign languages and has never lived abroad. She lacks the intellectual temperament to be a foreign policy leader. Like Obama, she has long surrounded herself with sycophants.

On assuming office, Obama’s vision of foreign policy was simple: he would repudiate past American policies and the whole world would melt before the president’s charm. The administration somehow thought that we really didn’t have enemies with agendas completely hostile to our own – there were just countries that had become offended by US actions and they would happily cooperate with America as soon as the evil Republicans were gone. Well, it hasn’t worked – and there was no Plan B.
With a president overwhelmed by domestic problems, Hillary Clinton has failed to step in and set a foreign policy vision. Simply put, she does not have the brains or the experience to develop a coherent foreign policy vision for America. This is how we get policy mistakes on issues such as the sovereignty of the Falklands.


  1. What are we supposed to do?

  2. Britain has a legitimate claim on the Falklands as does Israel on what was formerly Palestine and as Texas was part of Mexico.

  3. We would not expect Britain to remain neutral if Mexico demanded return of the American southeast or demanded the US to stop extracting oil from those "territories".

    We were not neutral over Serbian claims on Kosovo. Then there is Taiwan.

  4. I'm sorry; I'm just not interested.

    They're messing around with the Monroe Doctrine, for one thing.

    And, for the second thing: I'm just not interested.

  5. Deuce said...
    Britain has a legitimate claim on the Falklands as does Israel on what was formerly Palestine and as Texas was part of Mexico.

    Well, not quite...

    Britain has a claim on the Falklands as does Texas has on former parts of Mexico...

    Israel and the Jews actually had a COUNTRY/KINGDOM for over 2000 years on the lands it claims.

    The real question is, who has the right to have a country, to self determination.

    China and England (as well as many other nations) claim lands for natural resources, Russia did this just a few months ago in the arctic circle...

    Since there really is no native population in the Falklands, it then comes down to occupation...

    But Argentina is also a Euro-colonial construct and it's grab is a naked resource grab...

    Rat claims Israel has no right to be a country since it's size doesnt warrant it...

    Size aint the issue, there are many nations smaller than Israel....

    Why do the Kurds not have a nation?

    There are many peoples, who have a history and a right to self determination and statehood that are prevented from doing so as to not upset the current order...

    In the case of the Falklins, America should be siding with our ally against a Argentina...

    But then, as Rat points out, our nation is not what it was, and we have a new leader that speaks for us.

    Obama seeks to punish those he deems to be colonial and offer gifts and transfers of technology and wealth to those he thinks have be either slighted or ignored by us....

    Indonesia, Iran, Syria are all now new American allies...

    Poland, England, Israel are on the outs....

    How dare England seek anything outside it's 2.8% of world population share...

  6. "Why do the Kurds not have a nation?"

    We try at all times to keep allen a little unhappy.

  7. WiO: Israel and the Jews actually had a COUNTRY/KINGDOM for over 2000 years on the lands it claims.

    Not quite. The region was held by the Canaanites and Philistines when Abraham the "Hebrew" came in. Hebrew would be translated "immigrant" today. They had the same claim that today's La Raza has on California. Even after Saul and David were made king, they spent a lot of time putting down Philistines such as Goliath in places as close to Jerusalem as the Kidron Valley. It was Solomon who pretty much established Israel's monopoly on the use of force in about 1020 B.C.E and that was only for forty years. Then Israel had a civil war and split into North and South. Sargon II deported all of the northerners to Assyria in 720 BCE and Israel ceased to exist. Three hundred years. The south lasted until 597 when Nebuchadnezzar took the Judean king hostage and installed a puppet king. So call it a bit more than four hundred years. After that, the area was under the thumb of the Babylonians, the Greeks, and finally the Romans, who scattered all of the Jews and salted the earth.

  8. Never mess with a woman who blogs the Bible.

  9. "But Argentina is also a Euro-colonial construct and it's grab is a naked resource grab..."

    I think I would not be so quick to say that Israel is the exception as nearly half of all Israeli Jews are descended from Jews who immigrated from Europe. That is very much a European post Nazi era construct:

    According to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, as of 2009, of Israel's 7 million people, 76% were Jews of any background. [2] Among them, 68% were Sabras (Israeli-born), mostly second- or third-generation Israelis, and the rest are olim (Jewish immigrants to Israel) — 22% from Europe and the Americas, and 10% from Asia and Africa, including the Arab countries. [3]

    Nearly half of all Israeli Jews are descended from Jews who immigrated from Europe, while around the same number are descended from Jews who immigrated from Arab countries, Iran, Turkey and Central Asia. Over two hundred thousand are, or are descended from, Ethiopian and Indian Jews.

    The fact is after a generation or two, might makes right. Land is negotiable by occupation. The lesson learned, or should be learned is watch your immigration. It is very conceivable that lands taken by force or tenancy can be lost by similar force over time.

  10. "Never mess with a woman who blogs the Bible."

    Let's hear it for the Ladies of the Elephant!

  11. DOnt have time right now to add comments on T's deep thought as to the NON-kingdom state of the Jews...

    I will let the issue rest with this...

    Israel JUST CELEBRATED the 3000th Year of Jerusalem..

    nip at my ass all you wish...

    read this...

    The following op-ed was adapted from one first written for the 'Times of Israel,' a fledgling weekly established shortly after the Six Day War. After the war, the Israeli government announced preparations to return all the captured territories except for Jerusalem, in exchange for peace.

    The response came at the Khartoum Arab Summit Conference that year, at which it was announced that there would be no negotiations and no recognition of Israel.

    Israel came under tremendous international pressure to re-divide Jerusalem, which caused the author to sit down in a "white heat of anger" and write this piece.

    I am not a creature from another planet, as you seem to believe. I am a Jerusalemite - like yourselves, a man of flesh and blood. I am a citizen of my city, an integral part of my people.

    I have a few things to get off my chest. Because I am not a diplomat, I do not have to mince words. I do not have to please you, or even persuade you. I owe you nothing. You did not build this city; you do not live in it; you did not defend it when they came to destroy it. And we will be damned if we will let you take it away.

    There was a Jerusalem before there was a New York. When Berlin, Moscow, London and Paris were forest and swamp, there was a thriving Jewish community here. It gave something to the world which you nations have rejected ever since you established yourselves - a humane moral code.

    Here the prophets walked, their words flashing like forked lightning. Here a people who wanted nothing more than to be left alone, fought off waves of heathen would-be conquerors, bled and died on the battlements, hurled themselves into the flames of their burning Temple rather than surrender; and when finally overwhelmed by sheer numbers and led away into captivity, swore that before they forgot Jerusalem, they would see their tongues cleave to their palates, their right arms wither.

    For two pain-filled millennia, while we were your unwelcome guests, we prayed daily to return to this city. Three times a day we petitioned the Almighty: "Gather us from the four corners of the world, bring us upright to our land; return in mercy to Jerusalem, Thy city, and dwell in it as Thou promised."

    On every Yom Kippur and Pessah we fervently voiced the hope that next year would find us in Jerusalem. Your inquisitions, pogroms, expulsions, the ghettos into which you jammed us, your forced baptisms, your quota systems, your genteel anti-Semitism, and the final unspeakable horror, the Holocaust (and worse, your terrifying disinterest in it) - all these have not broken us.

  12. They may have sapped what little moral strength you still possessed, but they forged us into steel. Do you think that you can break us now, after all we have been through? Do you really believe that after Auschwitz we are frightened of your threats and blockades and sanctions? We have been to hell and back - a hell of your making. What more could you possibly have in your arsenal that could scare us?

    I HAVE watched this city bombarded twice by nations calling themselves civilized. In 1948, while you looked on apathetically, I saw women and children blown to smithereens, this after we had agreed to your request to internationalize the city. It was a deadly combination that did the job: British officers, Arab gunners and American-made cannons.

    And then the savage sacking of the Old City; the willful slaughter, the wanton destruction of every synagogue and religious school; the desecration of Jewish cemeteries; the sale by a ghoulish government of tombstones for building materials, for poultry runs, army camps - even latrines.

    And you never said a word. You never breathed the slightest protest when the Jordanians shut off the holiest of our holy places, the Western Wall, in violation of the pledges they had made after the war - a war they waged, incidentally, against a decision of the UN. Not a murmur came from you whenever the legionares in their spiked helmets casually opened fire upon our citizens from behind the walls.

    Your hearts bled when Berlin came under siege. You rushed your airlift "to save the gallant Berliners." But you did not send one ounce of food when Jews starved in besieged Jerusalem. You thundered against the wall which the East Germans ran through the middle of the German capital - but not one peep out of you about the other wall, the one that tore through the heart of Jerusalem.

    And when the same thing happened 19 years later, and the Arabs unleashed a savage unprovoked bombardment of the Holy City again, did any of you do anything? The only time you came to life was when the city was at last reunited. Then you wrung your hands and spoke loftily of "justice" and the need for the "Christian" quality of turning the other cheek.

    The truth is - and you know it deep inside your gut - some would prefer the city to be destroyed rather than have it governed by Jews. No matter how diplomatically you phrase it, the old-age prejudices seep out of every word.

    If our return to the city has tied your theology in knots, perhaps you had better re-examine your catechisms.

    For the first time since the year 70 there is now complete religious freedom for all in Jerusalem. For the first time since the Romans put the torch to the Temple everyone has equal rights. (You preferred to have some more equal than others). We loathe the sword - but it was you who forced us to take it up. We crave peace - but we are not going back to the peace of 1948 as you would like us to.

    We are home. It has a lovely sound for a nation you have willed to wander over the face of the globe. We are not leaving. We have redeemed the pledge made by our forefathers; Jerusalem is being rebuilt. "Next year" - and the year after, and after, and after until the end of time - in Jerusalem!

  13. It is very conceivable that lands taken by force or tenancy can be lost by similar force over time.

    too, that is why I support condoms for arabs....

  14. "nip at my ass all you wish..."

    Apropos, given that Israel is sitting pretty pretty.

    Not that there's anything wrong with that.

  15. This is why I prefer the Colombians.

  16. Jerusalem represents an ideal as much as it represents a physical city. To the Israeli's.

    Because of it's history and myth it's also a revered place to Muslims and Christians.

    To the rest of the world? Not so much.

    I agree with the history laid out by T and the assessment by Deuce.


  17. For those who didn't see the Healthcare conference yesterday, Paul Ryan lays out the cost issues associated with the Dems Healthcare program.

    Deficit Reduction?

    From what I've seen the political judgement from the various news sources seems to give the GOP the edge in yesterday's testimony.

    In my opinion, the GOP may have won the battle but they are still coming up short in offering solutions to the big healthcare problems facing the US (pre-esisting conditions, escalating prices, long-term costs of medicare, and un-funded mandates to the states).


  18. I'm on your side, WiO, because your side is the side which is having its children deliberately targetted by rockets, and the other side proudly displays hands with the blood of Jews. But if the Native American Community were to say they were ripped off when they sold Manhattan for $24 of blue beads (now on display at the Crazy Horse museum), we'd tell them to let bygones be bygones. And that's only 400 years ago, not 2000 years ago.

  19. If we wish to return to the maps of 2000 years ago, The Americans of Italian descent, in the United States, would have a claim on France, Germany, England, Turkey, Spain, Portugal, most of Egypt, Greece, Turkey Syria, (and I almost hate to say it) Israel.

    The logic and arguments are the same.

  20. there is a great county of italians called italy which noone questions. was this where they originated?

  21. We had our rugs cleaned. For a king's ransom.

    And they want to know: Where did you get the rugs with machine guns on them?

    How the fuck would I know?

    They were a gift.

    Sounds good to me.

  22. I had a job as a carpet cleaner for a number of summers through university and I never saw a carpet with machine guns on it.

  23. Excuse me. Not where, but how?

  24. How did we clean them? Steam - pressurized steam with detergent and a powerful vacuum to suck it up. A Van specially rigged.

  25. Two very small rugs among our many led to some interest.

    And how much did he pay exactly?

    Really, I want a normal, normal life.

  26. Trish reminded me of a funny story.
    Years ago, I visited a famous furniture manufacturer in Costa Rica , Urgelles y Penon.

    The owner was showing me around his factory and took me into the upholstery area and I noticed the longest possible mahogany dining table, carved in the Spanish over-the-top gaudy style.

    There were 18-20 matching chairs but upholstered in camouflage. One worker was removing the upholstery.

    I asked the owner about them. He said they were paid for but cancelled by the buyer, Manuel Noriega, but that Noriega had been captured by George Bush and would no longer be needing the set.

  27. Okay,

    Who is the "hack"?

    Who paid for the rugs?

    Exactly, what is the problem?

  28. What is a "normal life"?

  29. As far as I know the rugs WERE actually gifts.

    The hack is the retired fellow who wrote the piece.

    And a normal life is something I happily entertain.

  30. Other than being a hack, what in his piece do you disagree with?

  31. I disagree that the US should take other than a neutral position with regard to the current dispute between the UK and Argentina.

    The current ruling isn't about the Falkland Ils. themselves, but about drilling rights around the islands.

    The issue of who owns the Falklands is obviously still in dispute even though the British have occupied them for a century and a half. And Argentina has committed they will no longer launch military action over them.

    However, when it comes to oil rights it gets a bit more complicated. As I understand it, you have territorial waters recognized internationally at 12 miles and exclusive economic zones (which include drilling rights) that extend out 200 miles. It has also been recognized that the exclusive economic zone can be extended if in fact the continental shelf off of a country extends beyond that 200 mile limit.

    The Falklands lie about 300 miles off the coast of Argentina. However, a few years back, Argentina filed documents (weighing almost a ton) purporting to prove that their continental shelf extends out about 300 miles and encompasses the seabed around the Falklands. (The seabed is relatively shallow around the southern end of South America)

    Who will win this dispute? Who knows? But why should the US jump in on one side or another until the dispute is decided internationally? We will be having our own territorial disputes in the future in the Artic and likely in the Antartic. Maybe in other places.


  32. That is, Argentina claims their continental shelf extends out about 320 miles.


  33. Thank you, Q. That was a nice synopsis.

    I caught a lot of heat when I said I didn't want my tax money going to settlements on the West Bank. Well, I, also, don't want getting balled up in a dispute in the Falklands. We have No Dog in that fight, and, as in all cases where you get involved in such a squabble, nothing good can come of our intrusion.

    If we're smart enough to stay out of it, everyone will understand. If we're dumb enough to get involved we'll end up pissing off a bunch of people, Somewhere.

    The Brits, and the Argentinians should maybe look into "Cooperating" in the development of any oil found in that disputed area.

  34. Well, Ruf, while I agree with some of the points in the article, this, which I assume was merely a launching point for the rest of the article, wasn't one of them.

    I agree with you that the UK and Argentina should probably negotiate some kind of agreement between themselves. After all this is more a trade dispute than anything else.

    For those who argue that we should support the UK on this just because they are our ally or because of some "special relationship", I say that's pretty silly.

    Do they really believe the UK will support us when we eventually get into the same type dispute with Canada (and you know we will) over rights in the Arctic Circle?


  35. California is a greater risk than Greece, warns JP Morgan chief

  36. Jamie Dimon, chairman of JP Morgan Chase, has warned American investors should be more worried about the risk of default of the state of California than of Greece's current debt woes.

  37. I knew there must be *some* reason that we keep rufus and Quirk around.

  38. Heritage Bank of Nevada, Reno, Nevada, Assumes All of the Deposits of Carson River Community Bank, Carson City, Nevada

    February 26, 2010

    Carson River Community Bank, Carson City, Nevada, was closed today by the Nevada Department of Business and Industry, Financial Institutions Division, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Heritage Bank of Nevada, Reno, Nevada, to assume all of the deposits of Carson River Community Bank.

    The sole branch of Carson River Community Bank will reopen on Monday as a branch of Heritage Bank of Nevada. Depositors of Carson River Community Bank will automatically become depositors of Heritage Bank of Nevada. Deposits will continue to be insured by the FDIC, so there is no need for customers to change their banking relationship to retain their deposit insurance coverage. Customers should continue to use their former Carson River Community Bank branch until they receive notice from Heritage Bank of Nevada that it has completed systems changes to allow other Heritage Bank of Nevada branches to process their accounts as well.

    As of December 31, 2009, Carson River Community Bank had approximately $51.1 million in total assets and $50.0 million in total deposits. Heritage Bank of Nevada did not pay the FDIC a premium to assume all of the deposits of Carson River Community Bank. In addition to assuming all of the deposits, Heritage Bank of Nevada agreed to purchase approximately $38.0 million of the failed bank's assets. The FDIC will retain the remaining assets for later disposition.

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