Another Perspective

Another Perspective

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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A Forgotten Hero of World War I

By 9.4.14

As we mark the 100th anniversary of World War I, one country’s contribution to the war to end all wars has been sorely overlooked — Canada.

I attempted to rectify this by modest measure. Last week, during a visit to my home and native land, my older brother and I made a pilgrimage to the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. Canada’s military has made important contributions in the War in Afghanistan, the Korean War, and in WWII, especially during D-Day. But it was in World War I that Canada came of age.

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Don’t You Wish Voting Didn’t Feel Like a Placebo?

By 9.4.14

They don’t really do anything, these buttons we press to close elevator doors or cross the street, but we press them anyway. They’re called placebo buttons, and they exist only to give us the illusion of control. In cynical moods, I’d add that dial in the voting booth to the category. Pick red or pick blue—now we’ve got your consent to take your money, throw you in jail, or require your children to brush their teeth in day care. And it goes without saying, if you sell Whoppers to Sri Lankans, we get a third of that action, too.

Only I haven’t consented to any of these practices—not explicitly. I think the federal government ought to stick to raising armies, punishing piracy, and erecting Forts, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings in the District of Columbia. I suppose I consent to the rest of Congress’ enumerated powers under the Constitution, but that’s it.

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Congress’s Duty to Lead

By 8.26.14

While President Obama dithers, Congress needs to act against ISIS. House and Senate leaders should reconvene Congress this week, and take the unprecedented step of authorizing military action against ISIS and then requesting Obama’s signature. Customarily, a president takes the first step, presenting a draft Authorization for the Use of Military Force (similar to a declaration of war), then negotiating with Congress on the goals and scope. But Obama’s intentions are unknown, so Congress should seize the initiative.

The world is waiting for an American response to the beheading of James Foley and ISIS’s explicit threats to attack this country and raise its flag over the White House. Delay and ambivalence — hallmarks of Obama’s foreign policy — will discourage allies and embolden the enemy. Congress can step in, while sparing a reluctant president from having to expend political capital on war. After all, the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the responsibility for declaring war.

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In Praise of Limousine Liberals

By 8.22.14

The phase “limousine liberal” was ironically coined by a Democrat, New York City mayoral hopeful Mario Procaccino, during his 1969 campaign to unseat Republican John Lindsay.  Procaccino was attacking Lindsay’s generous and well-healed backers who, as he put it, “live on Fifth Avenue and maintain some choice mansions outside the city [but] have no feeling for the small middle class shopkeeper, home owner, etc.”

In the forty-five years since, the expression has been taken up by conservatives as convenient shorthand for Wall Street Democrats and Left-leaning heirs of great wealth, connoting as it does a mixture of hypocrisy, insularity, and wishful thinking.  But while it is only human nature for the Right to enjoy ridiculing rich Democrats whose policies so blatantly contradict their lifestyles, conservatives should never fail to appreciate the many hidden ways that limousine liberals actually undermine the Left’s own agenda.

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ISIS Horrors and Just War Teaching

By 8.20.14

The ISIS invasion of Iraq and subsequent horrors, for which Iraq’s dwindling Christian minority is a chief victim, has reanimated talk about Christian Just War teaching.

Citing the call by Iraq’s Chaldean Patriarch for military intervention, a group of prominent Christian thinkers, with others, has declared that “nothing short of the destruction of ISIS/ISIL as a fighting force will provide long-term protection of victims.” Urging U.S. and international help for local forces against ISIS, they assert that “no options that are consistent with the principles of just war doctrine should be off the table.” They want expanded U.S. air strikes against ISIS and U.S. arms for the Kurds, among others. The most prominent church official on this list is the Southern Baptist Convention’s chief public policy spokesman.

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What About Watertown?

By 8.18.14

Before the folly of the Ferguson Police Department’s overreaction to looting and rioting following the fatal shooting earlier this month of Michael Brown, an unarmed, black teenager, there had been concerns raised about the militarization of our local police departments by the federal government. Last month, Fox News Channel’s John Stossel wrote: 

I want the police to be better armed than the bad guys, but what exactly does that mean today?

Apparently it means the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security equip even the tiniest rural police departments with massive military vehicles, body armor and grenade launchers. The equipment is surplus from the long wars we fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Following the Ferguson folly, Alec MacGillis of the New Republic picked up on this theme:

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Does Anybody Really Know What Genocide Is?

By 8.11.14

There are some words in the English language that are misused. In the course of such misuse words lose their meaning.

In the misuse of the word genocide its meaning is not only lost, but is being butchered.

The country that is most frequently accused of committing genocide is Israel. Consider what has been said in the weeks following Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.

An online petition signed by 525 Italians, mostly academics, accuses Israel of committing a “slow genocide” demanding not only Israel’s government and military be put on trial, but the entire Jewish populace as well.

Feminist author Naomi Wolf declared on her Facebook page, “I mourn genocide in Gaza because I am the granddaughter of a family half wiped out in a holocaust and I know genocide when I see it.” She went further. “I stand with the people of Gaza exactly because things might have turned out differently if more people had stood with the Jews in Germany. I stand with the people of Gaza because no one stood with us,” cried Wolf.

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Crimes, Misdemeanors, Magic and Moonlight

By 8.6.14

Woody Allen’s films, for many, are an acquired taste, imperfectly digested, especially for those not of a certain age. Some are crude, often base, and border on the ridiculous. Yet, the very best of the director’s films are not just funny, but profound, revealing a lifelong struggle with his perpetual predicament regarding life’s meaning, or, as Allen believes, meaninglessness.

Allen’s predicament is this: he simply cannot abide the consequences of his complete rejection of transcendent meaning in the universe. Whether he is fretting about the evil of an Adolf Hitler or lampooning the pompous and cruel, he is obviously using a kind of vaguely objective yardstick in making judgments. Yet, consistently, despite a valiant struggle to discern something like order amidst chaos, he falls back into existential despair mitigated by his sense of irony, humor and sex.

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Obama Foreign Policy Fiascoes Reveal Liberalism’s Fatal Flaws

By 8.5.14

The administration’s foreign policy fiascoes also expose the failure of liberal relativism. Hard as it may be to see now, there is a possible silver lining to the growing gray cloud hovering over the White House’s handling of foreign affairs. Failure abroad is providing a more readily discernible outcome of the approach liberals are pursuing here at home. 

Just when it appeared the administration had fallen as far as it could before November, foreign policy has lowered it further. In results released on June 23, a CBS News/NY Times nationwide poll showed Obama’s handling of foreign policy rated significantly lower (36% approval, 58% disapproval) than his handling of the economy (41%-54%). A nationwide Quinnipiac poll released on July 2 showed the same with Obama’s handling of foreign policy (37% approval, 57% disapproval), polling lower than his handling of the economy (40%-55%) or health care (40%-58%).

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