Another Perspective

Another Perspective

Lame Duck

By 10.8.14

We’re two years into a lame-duck presidency. How are we doing? How do you like it?

There is certainly a bad history of lame-duck presidents. Some call it a “Second Term Curse.” (For example, see Lawrence Summers’ op-ed in August.) In recent history, Nixon resigned, Reagan had Iran-Contra, Clinton was tried by the Senate, George W. Bush had Hurricane Katrina and the 2008 financial crisis, and Obama. Obama’s list just grows and grows.

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Bill O’Reilly’s Soldiers of Fortune

By 10.3.14

Observe, first of all, that there are precedents for Bill O’Reilly’s idea of a mercenary force to engage the Arabs. A private force engaged the Tripolitan pirates during the Barbary wars, and we sent privateers into Central America early in the twentieth century, though no one remembers what exactly they were supposed to do. Neither of these expeditions was strategically successful. However, it can be said they helped mobilize awareness Stateside that, like it or not, there were indeed monsters out there and, notwithstanding the wise words of one of our greatest presidents, it behooved us to seek them out and destroy them.

The Blackwater organization, more lately, has been very good at what it does. However, what Mr. O’R proposed was a force made up of foreign enlistees, not Americans. This can work, judging from past experience, if — as O’Reilly himself says — the force is trained and led by American military officers.

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Archbishop of Canterbury Defends War on ISIS

By 10.2.14

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, in contrast with more skeptical pronouncements from British Baptist and Methodist groups, morally defended Western military action against ISIS in his speech to the House of Lords last week.

“In the here and now, there is justification for the use of armed force on humanitarian grounds, to enable oppressed victims to find safe space,” he told his fellow lords. He explained that ISIS and similarly murderous groups like Boko Haram “have as their strategy to change the facts on the ground so as to render completely absurd any chance of helping the targets of their cruelty.”

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Obama’s Ebola Plan Is Badly Flawed

By 9.25.14

Grim forecasts released separately on Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization say that by the end of January, the Ebola epidemic engulfing Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia will explode to at least 100 times its current size. An estimated 550,000 to 1.4 million people will be infected compared with the 5,347 so far. Scientists now report that 70 percent of infected patients are dying, up from 50 percent in previous reports.

Shockingly, the Obama administration is pouring a staggering $750 million into only one of these three countries, Liberia, over the next six months. Why only Liberia? He’s playing favorites. His buddy Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is Liberia’s president. But scientific evidence shows our tax dollars would save more African lives if the money were spent equipping the nations in Ebola’s future path with laboratory tests, gloves, other equipment and expertise before the disease hits them. And it will hit. Oxford University researchers predict that migrating fruit bats will likely carry the virus to fifteen more African countries.

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What Doc Savage Can Teach Us About World War One

By 9.22.14

I’ve written elsewhere about some of the basic lessons Americans should learn from our experience in the First World War. But left untouched in that piece is an almost equally important question: what can Doc Savage teach us about World War One?

Doc Savage, for the uninitiated, was a pulp fiction hero of the 1930s through the 1940s, appearing in more than a hundred and eighty novels. Though the books are very much of their time, they were reissued, starting in the 1960s, as mass market paperbacks, achieving extraordinary success, selling more than 15 million copies.

Doc and his five sidekicks were veterans of the First World War, but definitely not members of the doleful, emotionally shattered, cynical “Lost Generation” who thought that “words like glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene.”

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Why The Scottish Referendum Doesn’t Matter

By 9.17.14

My first brush with Scottish nationalism took place in a movie theatre in London’s West End. The year was 1995 and I was working as a parliamentary intern for Jimmy Wray, a Labour MP from Glasgow. Jimmy was a large bear of a man without any pretensions and he didn’t think it beneath him to invite an overseas parliamentary intern to see a movie with him.

On this particular night, Jimmy and I went to see Nobody’s Fool starring Paul Newman. What I remember about that night wasn’t the feature film, but rather one of the coming attractions. The coming attraction in question was Mel Gibson’s Braveheart. Near the end of the trailer, when William Wallace was leading the charge, four young men at the front of the audience leapt to their feet and cheered.

I am sure these same young men, now nearly 20 years older, will leap to their feet and cheer should there be a yes vote in Scotland’s referendum this week ending more than 300 years of Union with England.

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Ben Carson for Vice President!

By 9.15.14

It may be thought that as an Australian I have no right to publish an opinion on American politics, but the whole world has an interest in who leads America. Your hopes and fears are ours. So, as one who has watched Obama’s policies of defeatism, retreat, and serial blundering with dismay, here goes.

Dr. Ben Carson has many qualities that make him superbly suitable for high office: he has, pre-eminently, brains and force of character. No one can read his biography and fail to be impressed by his achievements and credentials.

He is a fine speaker, and his background is, unlike Obama’s, an open book. He even (an unfortunately relevant consideration in the modern age) looks presidential.

On every comparison with Obama of fitness for the office, Carson aces him: a brilliant neurosurgeon who rose to the top of his profession, contrasted with a “community organizer” and lawyer who as far as I know never conducted a trial in his life. Unlike Obama’s Nobel Prize, Carson’s awards have been earned.

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Time to Close Ranks

By 9.12.14

You may note approvingly of the scathing, sarcastic, even condescending reactions of leading conservatives to President Obama’s speech the other day laying out the broad lines of a strategy to defeat the self-described caliphate which has raised its black banner of death against us — and everybody else it disapproves of.

They sure did not lose time letting go their verbal barbs at our beleaguered top exec — elected by the American People in a free and fair election — not even waiting for the airwaves to calm down a bit. The experts at Fox News seemed to be obsessed with the notion that Mr. Obama is entirely “poll-driven” rather than a thoughtful statesman motivated solely by what is right and what is just and what will work for our Republic; nor could they not resist a few jabs of the we-told-you-so and too-little-too-late variety.

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Should Scotland Secede from the United Kingdom?

By 9.11.14

The vote over Scottish independence is coming down to the wire. Polls show a close race. It is a momentous decision that would reverse the Act of Union adopted back in 1707, but why is President Barack Obama bothering the Scots with his opinion?

A Scottish yes vote would have dramatic effects. While independence activists have reassured their countrymen that nothing much would change, a Scottish nation might find a less than warm welcome from European and other world leaders. No doubt, Holyrood (parliament) would receive diplomatic recognition. But Scotland’s passage to nationhood might not be as easy as promised.

An independent Scotland likely would have to reapply to the European Union and NATO. Holyrood would have to create its own currency, or unofficially use the British pound, over which the Scots would have no control. The new nation would have to decide whether it even wanted a military; the British nuclear deterrent would have to move south to a base that today doesn’t exist.

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We Need Another Gulf War Effort

By 9.8.14

In August 1990, Saddam Hussein led what was then the fourth largest army in the world, a battle-hardened group that had just fought the ten-year Iran-Iraq War, into Kuwait to seize its oil fields.

It was a clear violation of international law and national sovereignty, but as usual, Saddam had his own list of rationalizations — northern Kuwait really belonged to Iraq — plus the law that might makes right.

So what did we do? America’s interests were clearly at stake — we were much more dependent on foreign oil — but we were obviously not going to fight the whole of Saddam’s army at such a distance. Instead, President George Bush, in what was probably the brilliant diplomatic effort of the century, spent a half year assembling a coalition of 36 nations from five continents lined up against Saddam. The entire Middle East signed on — they feared Saddam’s incursions were only beginning — but countries from Europe, Africa, South America, and Asia signed on as well.

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