Come What Will-Two Links On Brexit And One On Iran

Theodore Dalrymple on Brexit:

‘For a long time, Britons who wanted their country to leave the European Union were regarded almost as mentally ill by those who wanted it to stay. The leavers didn’t have an opinion; they had a pathology. Since one doesn’t argue with pathology, it wasn’t necessary for the remainers to answer the leavers with more than sneers and derision.’

All the howling, wounded idealism and doomsaying makes you wonder…

Brendan O’Neill at Reason takes a more populist right perspective, with which I find great sympathy: ‘Elitist Rage With the Pro-Brexit Masses Echoes Longstanding British Suspicion of Democracy:’

‘Hell hath no fury like an establishment spurned. If you didn’t know this already, you certainly know it now, following the British people’s vote for a “Brexit.”

That’s the NY Times for you…:

‘The disclosure that Thomas Pickering, a former State Department official who advocated the Iran nuclear deal, was also a paid consultant to Boeing creates a scandal for the New York Times.’

Some wide-eyed idealists don’t mind setting very bad odds for themselves. This blog remains deeply skeptical and highly concerned with the Iran deal.

The same people are in charge, and the possibility of deliverable nukes is still very, very real; an outcome with nearly no upside for American interests, and great danger for the world.

Iran, So Far Away?-Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Rhodes To Ruin’…

Henry Kissinger & George Schulz Via The WSJ: ‘The Iran Deal And Its Consequences’

University Renewal, Freedom Isn’t Free & The Gobbler

Alan Jacobs at National Affairs: ‘Renewing The University’

‘For, whomever or whatever you might blame for the current state of affairs, the recent hostilities have been distinctly unfriendly to the creating and sustaining of intellectual energy. Universities need to get beyond these disputes, at least to some degree, if they are going to retain any meaningful chance to fulfill their social missions.’

Hmmm.  Many intemperate people with radical views have been rewarded, in many cases, for their intemperance and for their radical views.  I doubt many such people will be voluntarily returning any of the budget (the People’s budget!) anytime soon.

My two cents: Keep learning, aim for moral decency, and be reasonably open to new experiences and criticism.  On a daily basis you will often meet people smarter than you or better than you at something you thought you were good at (humbling, to be sure). Everyone knows many things you never will.

I’ve found that true-belief is everywhere, and people taken up into belief are often pretty clear about what’s not up for discussion.  Ideologues sometimes believe what they say, sometimes not.  In fact, go by what other people do, not what they say.

Once there is an apparatus of incentives, procedures, prestige and money set-up around a set of ideas and principles; such as found in universities, companies, organizations and bureaucracies, such things tend to keep going until they can’t any longer.

The worse the ideas and incentives are, the worse the people in them tend to behave.  So, aim to get into reputable organizations, and, should you find yourself within one, ask what you’re bringing to the table.

You probably believe in some ideas and principles yourself, right now, but as for that, keep thinking, and check often to make sure your head isn’t up yours or someone else’s ass.

There is very little evidence that life is fair.

P.S. Hey, have a little fun!

From The College Fix: This guy seems pretty reasonable, and he grew-up within the old Cold War structure in Romania (the cold makes you strong!).

He did leave…

Via Twitter, The Gobbler is back (we’ll see):

Click here to experience ‘The Gobbler.

‘If you’re ever wondering what the War Room of “Dr. Strangelove” would look like if the movie had been directed by Prince, here you go.’

After taking the photo tour, I remain convinced that ‘The Gobbler’ exists in its own realm of awesome badness.  Such a shag-covered, abandoned love-child of the late 60’s and early 70’s is challenging just what I thought I knew about American culture.

And while I can lounge in the bathos of this Wisconsin motor court/supper club’s global ambitions, and walk through the valley of the shadow of its modernist, U.N. international style, I still can’t fathom the intentions of its authors.

Why, Gobbler, why?

Want to lose an afternoon?  Visit  A fine humorist with a sharp pen and a keen eye.  This is what the internet is for.

Additionally:  Donald Pittenger, at Art Contrarian, and formerly of 2 Blowhards, has been looking at modernism.  From the banner of his blog:

‘The point-of-view is that modernism in art is an idea that has, after a century or more, been thoroughly tested and found wanting. Not to say that it should be abolished — just put in its proper, diminished place’

Repost-Victor Davis Hanson Via Youtube Via Uncommon Knowledge: ‘The New Old World Order’

As posted 4 years ago, now!


VDH was a supporter of the Iraq war as part of a larger war against “Islamic fascism.” He is registered Democrat but generally conservative (neoconservative?), and I suspect virtue, duty, and honor are central to a lot of his thinking as he is a military historian who’s written extensively about the Peloponessian wars.

As he points out, we are in an asymmetrical war against Islamic terrorists and also in potential conflict with the nations which actively support, harbor, or simply cannot control those terrorists within their borders.  He discusses some of the forces inside Muslim countries which help to produce these terrorists as he sees them:  anti-modernism, anti-Westernism, an Islamic resurgence whose sharp edge is going to drive the infidel and his Western influences from the Arabian peninsula and restore purist Islam.

In a democracy like ours (he no doubt sees parallels to ancient Athens) we generally don’t provide a lot of public support to a war unless we are in real danger as we were on 9/11.  This kind of ongoing conflict (USS Cole, embassy bombings, Ft. Hood, Times Square bomber) is a tough sell to Americans and VDH is generally suspect of our will to see the struggle through as for him it is a conflict to be won, military campaigns and all.

I’d add that as we speak, Obama’s liberal internationalist policy platform is pursuing a goal which I would support if I had more confidence it would reap reward without too much sacrifice and change to our own freedoms, traditions and institutions (and not lead us into the European multicultural solution which is in part relying on our military strength).

This goal is getting a plurality if not a majority of Muslims to stand up and say to those terrorists, Al-Qaida members, inflammatory Imams and radicals amongst them:  Stop it.  Your way is not our way.

On this view, to achieve this goal, you meet with these Muslims and their organizations where they are, and you try and punish/reward their political leaders who cannot be too far in front of their people.  You still try and install more Western democratic institutions and include the people under a set of ideals which you presume to be universal, but with as little military involvement as possible.  Now you have the “right ideas.”

According to liberal internationalism, curbing American force, withdrawing our military from Afghanistan and Iraq (but involving it in unforeseen ways in Libya, and leaving it out of Syria?) is the best way forward.  With carrots and sticks this will somehow, in the long run, lead toward peace by including and representing all parties without exposing them to the sharp edge of Western society.  The preferred ideals of women’s freedoms, human rights, and tolerance are often pursued most prominently.

As VDH points out, our enemies (Al Qaida, terrorists in general, Ahmadinejad, Hizbollah) see this approach as a sign of weakness, and will take any advantage they can which poses other risks to our security.  Our old enemies like Russia and unknowns like China will do much the same, and international institutions may not be the best way to handle any common interests.  The kinds of institutions which this worldview produces are like the relatively ineffective ones it has already already produced:  the U.N., the failures of the Eurozone and its top down class of bureaucrats, and the excesses of more indebted and unsustainable Western States whose people are being out-produced and out-reproduced.

There is a serious design flaw to such an approach, aside from the Rousseuian tendencies and the idealism inherent within it.

I’m not sure I’m totally on board with another military campaign in the Middle-East and I know many fellow Americans are not as well, so I’ll leave with this quotation by Samuel Huntington which I keep putting up:

“Although the professional soldier accepts the reality of never-ending and limited conflict, “the liberal tendency,” Huntington explained, is “to absolutize and dichotomize war and peace.” Liberals will most readily support a war if they can turn it into a crusade for advancing humanistic ideals. That is why, he wrote, liberals seek to reduce the defense budget even as they periodically demand an adventurous foreign policy.’

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.  Please feel free to highlight my ignorance.

Related On This Site:  The Clash Of Civilizations…The End Of History?:  From The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s WorkFrom The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel HuntingtonFrom Foreign Affairs Via The A & L Daily: ‘Conflict Or Cooperation: Three Visions Revisited’

Back to 19th Century power politics since the end of history has not “materialized”?:  Obama’s Decision On Missile Defense And A Quote From Robert Kagan’s: ‘The Return Of History And The End Of DreamsRepost-Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: ‘Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy’

Is the End Of History contingent upon a perfectible State driven by a more moral bureaucratic class?:  Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

Are we in decline?:  Fareed Zakaria BBC Interview: America In DeclineRichard Lieber In The World Affairs Journal–Falling Upwards: Declinism, The Box Set

It’s a big assumption to make: From YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & Atheism….Daniel Greenfield definitely thinks Islam is the problem: From Sultan Knish: ‘The Mirage Of Moderate Islam’Repost-From Beautiful Horizons: ‘Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan at the 92nd Street Y’

A Pretty Important Decision-Some Brexit Links

It seems Great Britain has decided to leave the EU.

I tend not to stick my nose into the business of others when they’re making these kinds of decisions.  Predictions are hard, especially about the future.

**Please see this appropriate response to the Guardian (G2) after they sponsored the ‘Clark County Project’ to stick British noses sniffing out the World Human Will into American politics.

I can’t help but think that the poorly-designed institutions arising out of a Western idealism I often criticize, are much to blame, and that a strengthened Anglo economic/trade org wouldn’t hurt, but can’t say I have anything better to offer.

-Walter Russell Mead at The American Interest: ‘Brexit And The Weakness Of The West

-Niall Ferguson was not so impressed back in April by Daniel Hannan’s arguments (Ferguson saw likely currency devaluation, and the downside of being subject to regulations of a big player next door with no say in the regulations)

-Tyler Cowen’s not so enthusiastic….

-Ian Bremmer says it’s a Throw The Bums Out mentality

I can’t help but think the tone and tenor of the arguments on both sides highlight many of the deeper splits:  Money, jobs, opportunity…but also, who are ‘we’ exactly ?-Nationalism vs. anti-nationalism, more open vs. more closed borders, local legal and political accountability vs international institutions and global markets.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

‘Peace’ At High Cost: Alberto Nisman And Robert Conquest-Two Links

About that Alberto Nisman murder, the Argentinian prosecutor who uncovered likely Iranian-backed terror in Argentina, and throughout South America:

‘Testimony from journalists and government officials suggest that in addition to describing Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s hand in protecting the perpetrators of a 1994 Buenos Aires terrorist attack, Nisman was also working to blow the lid off the workings of Iran’s terrorist organization in Latin America.

Nisman’s decade of work on the subject pointed to Iran.’

Don’t worry, though, those hundreds of millions in sanctions relief certainly won’t end-up in the hands of the Quds force, backing Hezbollah and other proxies around the globe to do much of the same.

Certainly, certainly, giving all that money and time to the same 1979 forces who held Americans hostage, who currently control much of the deep state in Iran, who still repress many of the people involved in the Green Revolution, and who back Assad, mostly aligning with Putin, certainly this is all part of the master-plan for world peace.

Dexter Filkins took a look at the death of Nisman:

‘By the time Kirchner announced the agreement about the AMIA case, Nisman’s obsession with Iran had expanded beyond Argentina. That year, he and his staff produced a five-hundred-page report outlining what it said was Hezbollah’s and Iran’s terrorist “infiltration” in Latin America. (A U.S. official called the report “spot on.”) A month before Nisman died, he told the writer Gustavo Perednik that he believed Argentina and Iran could be secretly discussing renewing the nuclear agreement of the nineteen-eighties and nineties. “Nisman said this was part of the big deal,” Perednik told me.’

The level of intellectual vanity, pride and willful self-deception of many intellectuals when it came to Stalin’s deeds are worth revisiting.  C-SPAN had Robert Conquest and Ken Jowitt in discussion of Conquest’s ‘The Dragons Of Expectation: Reality And Delusion In The Course Of History

A man who habitually cut through a lot of bullshit.

Tuesday Quotation-Harry Frankfurt

‘The notion of carefully wrought bullshit involves, then, a certain inner strain. Thoughtful attention to detail requires discipline and objectivity. It entails accepting standards and limitations that forbid the indulgence of impulse or whim. It is this selflessness that, in connection with bullshit, strikes us as inapposite. But in fact it is not out of the question at all. The realms of advertising and of public relations, and the nowadays closely related realm of politics, are replete with instances of bullshit so unmitigated that they can serve among the most indisputable and classic paradigms of the concept. And in these realms there are exquisitely sophisticated craftsmen, who with the help of advanced and demanding techniques of market research, of public opinion polling, of psychological testing, and so forth, dedicate themselves tirelessly to getting every word and image they produce exactly right.’

Repost-In The Mail-Yuval Levin: The Framers As Anticipating The Technocratic Mind & Well, The People Themselves

Via the Federalist: Yuval Levin discusses his book The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine and the Birth Of Left And Right.


Some of the questions coming at Levin during the interview, I suspect, are meant to challenge Burke as either a Straussian historicist, or a(n) utilitarian. The historicist critique would have Burke holding an epistemological framework which presumes knowledge of an endpoint to human aims and affairs and a lens to observe all of human history accordingly (quite dangerous in the hands of intellectuals, Statesman and policymakers, especially the radical kind willing to break what came before and design, top-down, what will subsequently come on the way to that endpoint).

The normative ethics of the utilitarian arguments, on the other hand, tend to run into the problems of eventually sacrificing individuals on the altar of the greatest good, and also majoritarian politics, or perhaps even ‘tyranny of the majority’ scenarios, where many of the subtle protections of individual and minority (literally defined) liberties in our constitutional framework could potentially be eroded by populist sentiment, moral panics, bad laws, and mob rule.

One of Levin’s main insights is that Burke should be thought of as a Statesman, a politician and a debater, one who nearly always refused notions of top-down, abstract principles and design rather than simply conserving what was already in place.

***Abstract principles, perhaps, of the rationalist kind, the centrally planned, bureaucratic kind, or the progressive activist kind which have been serious influencers on our laws and lives.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

***More Burke musings here.


As previously posted:

‘A state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation. Without such means it might even risque the loss of that part of the constitution which it wished the most religiously to preserve. The two principles of conservation and correction operated strongly at the two critical periods of the Restoration and Revolution, when England found itself without a king. At both those periods the nation had lost the bond of union in their antient edifice; they did not however, dissolve the whole fabric.’

Edmund Burke, commenting on the French Revolution, in The Evils Of Revolution, What Is Liberty Without Wisdom And Without Virtue It Is The Greatest Of All Possible Evils, New York, NY. Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2008. Pg 8.

Also On This Site: What are the drawbacks of defining that change within J.S. Mill’s utilitarianism, or within abstract ideals which are assumed to be universal…i.e….perhaps…more like France in this context?: Saturday Quotation-J.S. MillA Few Thoughts-Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”

Who Wants To Help Build A Technocracy? Repost-Megan McArdle At The Daily Beast: ‘The Technocratic Dilemma’Repost-From The Spiked Review Of Books: ‘Delving Into The Mind Of The Technocrat’

Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’Repost-Monday Quotation From Charles Kesler And A Few Thoughts on Conservatism

Taking religion out of the laws, and replacing it with a Millian/Aristelolian framework?: Repost: Martha Nussbaum Channels Roger Williams In The New Republic: The First Founder…From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum

Some Modest Wednesday Links: Over-Promising & Under-Delivering

Robert Samuelson on an aging population and Social Security challenges:

‘None of this will escape historians, who will — in the future — observe the powerful economic, social and political effects of an aging society. It will affect their verdict on the failure of Obama and congressional Republicans to reach a Grand Bargain on the budget, a failure reflecting both Republican resistance to higher taxes and Democrats’ unwillingness to make meaningful reductions in Social Security and other “entitlements.”

Jim Pethokoukis a while back: ‘5 Simple Truths About How To Reform Social Security

Some pushback in the comments.

Richard Epstein on Classical Liberalism, Libertarianism & Lochner, passed along by a reader.

Supporting The Kurds In Defeating ISIS-Not A Bad Plan

Michael Totten here.

As to the shooting in Orlando, and our reaction:

‘So what’s the answer? The answer is that The Answer doesn’t exist.

We can start, though, by destroying the Islamic State. That would do a lot more good than preventing me from buying a gun, and it would do even more good than preventing my Kurdish friends from visiting Washington. ISIS can recruit and inspire people far more easily if it looks like it’s winning rather than losing. Even if it isn’t winning per se, if it simply looks durable and permanent, it can and does recruit and inspire people.’

Lone wolf or not, IS has leverage and is always seeking more (see Bataclan).

No, you can’t solve all the Middle East’s problems, but helping the Kurds where they live to recover territory currently controlled by IS isn’t a bad start.

Such action can create a platform for other Westerners in securing, defending and pursuing their interests.  It also clearly sends a stronger message to Assad, to Erdogan, to the Quds and the Iranian proxies, to Moscow, to the Saudis, and those in power centers keeping a close eye on the situation:  The Americans will pursue their interests in destabilizing IS, and will support some semblance of order reflecting those interests beyond current capabilities.

Wladimir van Wilgenburg:

‘After months of negotiation, the United States finally gave the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – which is dominated by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and includes the Syrian Arab Coalition (SAC) – the green light to launch its offensive to take the Syrian town of Manbij, a key Islamic State (IS) stronghold northwest of Aleppo. The operation began on May 31, coming only after General Joseph Votel, the head of U.S. Central Command, visited both the Syrian Kurds on May 21 and Turkish officials on May 23 (ARAnews, May 22; Hurriyet, May 25).’

As previously posted

Independent Kurdistan-A Good Outcome For American Interests?

In his book Where The West Ends, Totten describes visiting Northern Iraq briefly as a tourist with a friend, and the general feeling of pro-Americanism in Kurdish Northern Iraq that generally one can only feel in Poland, parts of the former Yugoslavia etc.

Related On This Site: Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest’s Via Media: “The Rise Of Independent Kurdistan?”From Reuters: ‘Analysis: Syrian Kurds Sense Freedom, Power Struggle Awaits’

The Orlando Nightclub Shooting R.I.P.-A Few Links And Thoughts

Omar Mateen: 5 Fast Facts You Need To Know’

More will be known shortly.  Thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families.

At least 50 dead (addition: 49 + the shooter)

I’ve heard the second generation of immigrants often longs for some purpose and meaning (search for roots) from which the first has turned.  Regardless of American politics and political philosophy (which has currently gone Leftward, more ‘multicultural,’ and Europeward in many respects), there are other factors all Americans are facing with a more interconnected world.

Via Wikipedia (source of sources):

‘Author Lawrence Wright described the characteristic of “displacement” of members of the most famous Islamic terrorist group, al-Qaeda:

What the recruits tended to have in common – besides their urbanity, their cosmopolitan backgrounds, their education, their facility with languages, and their computer skills – was displacement. Most who joined the jihad did so in a country other than the one in which they were reared. They were Algerians living in expatriate enclaves in France, Moroccans in Spain, or Yemenis in Saudi Arabia. Despite their accomplishments, they had little standing in the host societies where they lived.”[14]’

In the case of Muslim immigrants, an exploration of roots includes possibility of access to radical literature/videos/material, online propaganda, and/or other more direct cultural connections to extremism and components of the Muslim faith/identity they see as cause for direct and radical action (e.g. the disgruntled in Molenbeek, Brussels, the higher rates of radicalization of Somalis in Minnesota as part of the conflict in their homeland, the Chechen conflict for the Tsarnaevs).

As to the larger forces at work, and a few thoughts on them:  Perhaps it’s reasonable (loss of loved ones’ lives is never ‘reasonable,’ I know…) to expect incidents like these at a rate near 1 per every 3-5 years on American soil (15 deaths or greater) should the direct cause be radical Islam, and the perpetrators not part of a larger, coordinated attack (we’ve had more attacks with fewer deaths, and seen quite a few self-radicalizers, loners, and in the case of the elder Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarneav, the mentally unstable).

The odds of that larger attack (100 lives or greater up to many 1000’s due to larger-scale strategic planning, more advanced/destructive weaponry) is quite improbable, thanks in some part due to deterrence and intelligence, but such attacks have the potential to be extremely consequential to American cultural and political institutions and all of our freedoms, as was 9/11.

Of course, rates are only useful if they have predictive power, so perhaps I should say:  I expect another attack with 0-15 deaths within 1 1/2 years, and 15 deaths or greater within 3-5, due to radical Islam (not necessarily homegrown).  I’ll check in with this prediction in time.

In other words, the Muslim world’s internal problems in dealing with its own worlds, and the outside world, and its own radical movements is part of the issue. Muslim immigration to the West and the internal contradictions within the West, as well as Western involvement in the Muslim world is part of the issue.  All of this can contribute to a complex situation in which some individuals choose horrific, bloody and violent action upon the West, within the West, inspired by Islamic terrorism.

The terror and fear involved in all of our minds, of course, is the one of the central purposes of these activities.

To say nothing of the actual lives lost.


*I should say it certainly follows from the above that having a ‘conversation’ about Muslim immigration means having a conversation about the violence, potential for violence and problems of the Muslim world suddenly in our own backyards (look around your house, block, school, wotk, town council etc….that’s what I mean by ‘our’), yet, the actual probability of any one Muslim immigrant atually being or becoming involved in terrorist activity is very, very, very small.

That said, the chances of that practicing Muslim having potentially divided loyalties between being an American citizen (the laws, the national defense etc) and being a practicing Muslim (submission of will in faith to God, the umma, even the sentiment and fellow feeling that can lead to radicalization) is a bit larger.

Rootless, multicultural cosmopolitan and/or open borders libertarian…I am not.

Related On This Site:  From The AP: ‘Al-Awlaki: From Voice For Jihad To Al-Qaida Figure’

Paul Berman At The New Republic: ‘From September 11 to the Arab Spring: Do Ideas Matter?’From Foreign Affairs: ‘Al Qaeda After Attiyya’

The Hitchens factor, and a vigorous defense of free speech: From Beautiful Horizons: ‘Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan at the 92nd Street Y’Via YouTube: ‘Christopher Hitchens Vs. Ahmed Younis On CNN (2005)’From Michael Totten: ‘An Interview With Christopher Hitchens’

Free speech (used both well and unwell) meets offended Muslims: Mohammad Cartoonist Lars Vilks HeadbuttedDuring Lecture’From The OC Jewish Experience: ‘UC Irvine Muslim Student Union Suspended’From Volokh: ‘”South Park” Creators Warned (Threatened) Over Mohammed’

From YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & Atheism…From The Middle East Quarterly Via A & L Daily: Europe’s Shifting Immigration DynamicFrom The CSM: ‘WIll Pakistan Military Go After Taliban In North Waziristan?’

See Also:  Philip Bobbitt Discusses His Book ‘Terror And Consent’ On Bloggingheads

From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And PakistanStephen Biddle At Foreign Affairs: ‘Running Out Of Time For Afghan Governance Reform’

Repost-From Michael Yon: ‘The Battle For Kandahar’Dexter Filkins Book On Afghanistan And Iraq: “The Forever War”Monday Quotations-Henry KissingerTom Ricks Via Foreign Policy: ‘American General Dies In Afghanistan; An American Lt. Col. Goes Off The Reservation