World

Ian Paisley Is Dead: Should We Speak Ill of Him?

By on 9.12.14 | 12:48PM

As Tim Stanley pointed out over at the Telegraph, it's hard not to do so. When Pope John XXIII died in 1963, Paisley assured a group of protestors that "This Romish man of sin is now in hell." "De mortuis nil nisi bonum" meant nothing to him.

Paisley was a wretched, mean-spirited man, a figure of Cromwellian unpleasantness. He had no tastes, no interests. (Asked by Sue Lawley of the BBC what book other than the Bible he would bring with him to a desert island, he replied "Foxe's Book of Martyrs.") The only thing he ever seems to have enjoyed was speaking in public, whether behind a podium or a pulpit. His theology, such as it was, comprised the two beliefs, held with something like equal fervor, that priests were hell-bound sodomites and alcohol was "the devil's buttermilk." A good day's work for Paisley was shouting "Antichrist!" when Pope John Paul II addressed the European Parliament and having things hurled at him by his fellow MEPS before being dragged out of the chamber by Otto von Habsburg.

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History

From the Thousand Year Reich to the Global Caliphate

By 9.4.14

First it was the Thousand Year Reich. Now it’s the Global Caliphate. The pattern is as simple as it is stark. It always begins with the unruly rabble-rousers. A curiosity at first, then a police problem, then a raised governmental eyebrow. Eventually, the rabble-rousers attract more rabble. Now the jails begin to fill. Then the streets. There is violence. Then the sympathizers appear, making the case that, well, when you think about it, the growing rabble has a point or two or three. Money starts to flow in from supporters as well as the sympathizers. The rabble rousers finally get organized. The media gets involved, with the rabble getting their hands on communications capabilities and attracting attention from other media not their own. The latter media follows along, ignoring the first stirrings, then not, then with some leaping over the side into the deep water with the rabble’s “rising star.” And don’t forget the foreigners. They are always there to be attracted, supplying everything from money to support in their own country, when not simply abandoning their own country altogether and joining the cause.

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Loose Canons

With ISIS and Russia, None of the Above Is Not the Answer

By 9.2.14

Why the shock at President Obama’s confession that he doesn’t have a strategy to deal with Syria and ISIS?

Here’s the deal: a strategy—be it diplomatic or military or a combination of the two—can only be developed after a president decides what the policy objective is to be. His job is to decide what the desired result of a strategy is supposed to be, and our military leaders and diplomats are supposed to craft strategies to achieve that result. Unless and until Obama decides what result he wants to reach in Syria and Iraq—or in Ukraine, the South China Sea, or anywhere else for that matter—no one can create a strategy to produce that result.

It may be that Obama is afraid of making such policy decisions. Or it may be what it appears: that Obama’s most fundamental policy decision is not to make the decisions essential to defending our interests or the freedom of our allies. Regardless, you can’t have a strategy without the predicate policy decision.

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Letter From Paris

Hollande’s Last Chance

By 9.2.14

Maybe the third try will be a charm for President François Hollande. After doggedly attempting to apply socialist dogma for his first two disastrous years in office and bringing the French economy to its knees, he reshuffled his cabinet again this summer. It has dawned even on this Socialist Party apparatchik that governing by tax-and-spend while subjecting businesses to an incomprehensible thicket of hostile, hobbling regulations—the Labor Code now runs to over 3,000 pages—won’t work. That inventing a new levy here, tweaking an old one there, creating still another special handout, is ruining not only his term in office, but the country as well. His third stab at forming a viable administration, coming only 147 days after the second one, set a record for the shortest duration in Fifth Republic history and makes the Italian government look rock-stable by comparison. The sweat on the beleaguered presidential brow is now visible to all.

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Dictator Watch

Cairo and Moscow: So Happy Together

By 8.19.14

While America’s attention was focused on Kim Kardashian’s new book of selfies, the Ebola virus, and events in Gaza, Iraq, Ukraine, and Ferguson, Missouri, a single 130-word Wall Street Journal dispatch last Tuesday described events in Sochi, Russia, that might portend a dangerous shift in the allegiance of one of America’s most important allies.

Though it missed the attention of most news editors, newly elected Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi arrived a week ago Monday in Sochi for two days with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the Black Sea coast.

The duo toured the Olympic cross-country ski center, but not until Al-Sisi got to view an elaborate and tempting display of Russian military hardware that Putin had kindly set out before him, right there at the Sochi airport. Al-Sisi was barely out of his plane before he was gazing upon a massive array of armored vehicles, missile systems, and other weapons goodies — all of them available for sale. 

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Why the Vatican Backs Airstrikes in Iraq But Not Syria

By on 8.18.14 | 10:51AM

The Vatican, working off Catholic doctrine of just war, has announced that it condones American military intervention in Iraq, the Washington Times reported last week. The Holy See’s ambassador to the United Nations, Silvano Tomasi, is quoted as saying, “Military action might be necessary,” and calling for, “intervention now, before it is too late.”

The move to endorse American airstrikes against the militants of the Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, diverges from Vatican policy in Syria. Last year when President Obama considered intervening with airstrikes in the Syrian civil war, the Vatican condemned the plan. It disapproved, too, of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Fear for the safety and freedom of Christians and other minority religious sects in Iraq today has altered the assessment.

Just war theory is perhaps best summarized in paragraph 2309 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It reads:

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The Iraq Spectator

The Collapse of the Liberal World Order

By 8.14.14

President Obama has ended the Iraq War.” So says the White House blog, the headline preserved in the amber that is the Internet. The date: October 21, 2011 at 2:18 Eastern Daylight Time. Along with a video of the president saying this, a statement on the site has been helpfully provided, partially excerpted here:

In 2008, in the height of the presidential campaign, then-Senator Obama made a promise to give our military a new mission: ending the war in Iraq.

As the election unfolded, he reiterated this pledge again and again — but cautioned that we would be “as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in.”…

Now, that promise will be wholly fulfilled. Today, President Obama announced that the rest of our troops will be home by the holidays.…

But this moment represents more than an accomplishment for the President. It marks a monumental change of focus for our military and a fundamental shift in the way that the our nation will engage in the world….

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The War on Terror Spectator

So Begins World War IV?

By 8.12.14

Is World War IV on the verge of beginning? With President Obama in the role of the reluctant leader whose actions have invited global catastrophe?

As the 100th anniversary of what is known to modern history as World War I is marked, it is perhaps time to recall that once upon a time the “Great War” as it was called in its day was known in the aftermath as “the war to end all wars.” The phrase was associated with President Wilson, who also said the U.S. needed to join the fight in Europe to “make the world safe for democracy.” 

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Dictator Watch

Argentina: Where a Default Is Not a Default

By 8.6.14

In Plato’s famous model, the three elements of the well-ordered state correspond to the three aspects of the soul, with the rational aspect governing the will and the appetites.

But nobody ever called Argentina a well-ordered state, and the souls of its people are scarcely healthier: Buenos Aires has eight times as many psychologists per capita as New York City. So substitute Freud’s psyche for Plato’s psuche. Argentina, then, should be understood as a nation driven by the passions of its id, without the constraints of superego that govern other societies. Where our politics conform to a history of constitutional democracy, Argentina has the fraudulent altruism of Juan Domingo Peron. Peronism isn’t simply demagoguery; it’s a form of nihilism. It is the Seinfeld of government, a politics of nothing. Where we have checks and balances, they have nothing to oppose the dark whims of elected dictators.

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At Large

The Young and the Restless in Beijing

By 8.4.14

Beijing
Everything in China appears is big. The population is big. The cities are big. The people’s aspirations are big. The state’s ambitions are big.

The battle over the future also is big.

I recently returned from several days in the People’s Republic of China. It’s always a fascinating place with a future as yet unresolved. The country is growing economically, but no one really believes the government’s statistics. The “one child” policy has created a birth dearth that may leave the PRC old before it grows rich. Rising domestic confidence has yielded growing regional assertiveness, sparking an ever stronger negative reaction from once complacent neighbors.

Almost certainly Beijing will end up an influential global player. But when—and whether—it will battle America for world domination is far less clear. The PRC’s international future is not yet determined.

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