Some Links On The Kurds And Where Some Moderate U.S. Political Ground Might Be Found

Russia appears a post-ish Communist, revanchist, fairly corrupt petro-State run by a ex-KGB guy. Russian leadership is actively paying individuals, groups and orgs to undermine Western interests and U.S. sovereignty.

If you believe in institutions which promote various conflicting, but often shared, Western-man-on-the-street beliefs in Western secular humanism (democracy promotion, the use of U.S. military force, the use of the U.S. military to preserve liberal world order, expansion of global liberty as residing within individuals, Constitutional and/or Westphalian-style state promotion, working for human rights etc.) then you likely don’t want to see Russian leadership gaining much tactical advantage.

The terrorist-sponsoring, post-1979, expansionist deliverable nuke-seeking gang in Tehran, the clinging, chemical-weapons deploying Assad in Syria, and our ‘friends’ in Moscow all share common interests; undermining U.S. strength and inhibiting Western influence are tops on the list.

Maybe Erdogan, consolidating his power autocratically and riding a deeper wave of Islamic resurgence and sentiment, will keep looking Eastward and continue to play both ends more than he’s doing now.

A lot of moderate political ground is now occupied in the U.S. by people lamenting the major rifts within both U.S. political parties, the celebrification of high office, and the lack of institutional stability, social trust and decently functioning politics. I suspect Trump has become a symptom of, and a lightning rod for, the changes occurring within and without our Republic.

As for the Kurds, well, they have some potential to reflect more of what most Americans would generally like to see out in the world (conveniently found in Israel and in many States having emerged from the Eastern Bloc).

Totten:

‘The Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah axis is poised to emerge victorious in the Syria war, stronger than ever, thanks to military assistance from Russia. Assad is surviving the biggest threat to his family’s rule since it seized power four decades ago. Short of political revolutions in Tehran and Moscow, he’s likely to die an old man in office. And he’ll have no incentive whatsoever to change his ways. He’ll continue exporting terrorism all over the region, and the next war between Israel and a now far-stronger Hezbollah will likely make the last one look like a peace process. The Kurds in Syria—our only true friends in that country—are likely to lose everything they have gained without American backing.’

I suppose we’ll see what happens, as the wise Kurdish position appears to be lobbying the hell out of anyone for support while recognizing they’re still on their own, scrambling to survive…

Ofra Bengio At The American Interest: The Kurds’ Proxy Trap
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.

Some Links On The Move Towards Kurdish Independence

Via Mick Hartley via the NY Times: ‘Israel Endorsed Kurdish Independence. Saladin Would Be Proud

‘Ties between the two have only grown warmer and more vital since the 1960s, as Israel and the Kurds — both minorities in an inhospitable region and ever in need of international allies — have repeatedly come to each other’s aid. The Kurds have long patterned their lobbying efforts in Washington on those of Israel’s supporters.’

On the realist vision, there are no true friends, rather alliances, common interests and threats; vectors of forces.  There’s situational logic, and there are very real abstractions which matter (the character of a people, the ideas and core principles which guide them, the leaders that rise to power which can’t be too far in front of the coalitions which got them there…should they be elected).

There are also shared experiences, suffering, sentiment and sacrifices.

Relationships matter.

When the cold winds blow, however, you just may find yourself standing alone.

When survival is at stake, and war a necessity, urgency and expediency come to the fore, as does courage in battle, and cool under fire.

Not only does the Cold War and the backdrop of Russian/American power games still influence this region heavily, but the very split deep within the West itself does as well:  There are Communist Kurdish militias, and there are Kurdish nationalist militias appealing to American patriotism, Constitutional Republicanism, and the liberation of peoples oppressed under unwanted authority.

As posted:

Ofra Bengio At The American Interest: The Kurds’ Proxy Trap

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’

Race Incorporated & The Kurds-Some Links

Carving the world into ‘-Isms’, doesn’t necessarily require thought beyond the ideological framework in which it often arrives to new adherents, but it does usually require an emotional commitment and solidarity with others who find common cause.  This requires common enemies.

Ira Stoll at Newsmax: ‘Cries Of Racism Still How Left Counters Dissent

Should you make Civil Rights the highest bar in your moral universe, you’re bound to miss other points of view, much other moral reasoning, and eventually, if you’re intellectually honest, the shortcomings and consequences of activist politics.   Are you building things in your life (skills, relationships?) or are you drifting down the river of supposed liberation, justified in your anger, blame, political radicalism and idealism?

Why would you defer so much of what is in your power to make better, step by step, day by day, to a politician you’ve probably never even met?

To a bunch of people who have all the incentives to treat you as a means to an end?

Michael Totten at World Affairs:

The Kurds Are About To Blow Up Iraq:

‘Next month, on September 25, the Kurdistan Regional Government in Erbil will hold a binding referendum on whether or not to secede from Iraq. It will almost certainly pass.’

We nearly overthrew Saddam the first time, encouraged the Kurds to rise up only to leave them to suffer horribly as he regained power.  We went in and removed Saddam, broke the nation of Iraq as drawn, and encouraged them again. Now they’re pretty much left to fend for themselves, except for tactical, some arms, and anti-IS support.

With the recent announcement in Afghanistan, it’s almost enough to make one think there are tactical, practical and deeper reasons to engage with the radical and violent people willing to do us harm at home (aside from the ‘world community concept and with actual allies with skin in the game):

Hmmm…so far restoring old alliances seems high on Trump’s list, at least on the surface:

Ofra Bengio At The American Interest: The Kurds’ Proxy Trap
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’

On this site, see:Repost-A Few Thoughts On Robert Bork’s “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”

What about black people held in bondage by the laws..the liberation theology of Rev Wright…the progressive vision and the folks over at the Nation gathered piously around John Brown’s body?: Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’……Robert George And Cornel West At Bloggingheads: “The Scandal Of The Cross”Repost-From The Liberal Bastions-James Baldwin, Often

How does Natural Law Philosophy deal with these problems, and those of knowledge?

Richard Rorty tried to tie postmodernism and trendy leftist solidarity to liberalism:  Repost: Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”

Michael Totten At The Tower: ‘Why Arming The Kurds Is Worth Angering The Turks’

Full piece here.

‘Two years ago, Eli Lake published a quickly-forgotten Bloomberg View column about a U.S. weapons airdrop in Syria supposedly intended for the Syrian Arab Coalition. The problem is, the Syrian Arab Coalition isn’t real. It’s a made-up front group that exists solely on paper so the Obama administration could say it was arming Arabs when it was really arming Kurds. An unnamed U.S. official admitted to Lake that the group is a “ploy,” and Syrian Kurds confirmed that they received weapons and ammunition.’

Hmmm…so far restoring old alliances seems high on Trump’s list, at least on the surface:

Ofra Bengio At The American Interest: The Kurds’ Proxy Trap
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’

Ofra Bengio At The American Interest: The Kurds’ Proxy Trap

Full piece here.

‘Looking back, the Kurds’ experience with proxy wars has been rewarding in the short term but mostly disastrous in the long term. The Kurds have been able to best many opponents and establish a reputation for martial skill, but at the cost of exacerbating internal divisions and serially alarming everyone from their state “hosts” to neighbors. So why do they continue playing this role, what are the lessons they may draw from it now, and will it turn out better for the Kurds this time?’

If I were a Kurd, I would bet on being only a part-time American ally, at great risk to my own interests, while continuing to pursue those interests.

*See the previous post

VICE Via Youtube: ‘Peshmerga Vs. The Islamic State’

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As of June 2015, some of the tactics of IS, and a ridealong with the Pershmerga.

As previously posted:

Michael Totten: ‘What Just Happened In Syria:’

‘Look. Running guns and ammo under the radar to legitimate proxies in a fight against a terrorist army is entirely reasonable behavior on the part of the United States government. We’ve been doing that sort of thing for decades. Pretty much everyone else in the Middle East does it, too, but they almost always run guns and ammo to terrorist organizations rather than to groups fighting terrorist organizations.

Regardless, it’s high time we come out and say exactly what we’re doing and why. Everyone already knows we’re backing the Kurds against ISIS, and everyone already knows the Turks would rather see an ISIS victory than a Kurdish victory. None of this is even remotely a secret. It’s all right out in the open. Official denials aren’t fooling anybody.’

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’

Repost-David Rohde At The NY Times: ‘Inside The Islamic Emirate’

Full article here.  (The second in a series)

Rohde was the NY Times reporter kidnapped for months inside Afghanistan and Pakistan.  He wrote a series of articles about his experiences.  Let this be a lesson to young journalists…risking your life can be worth it…

Also, as previously posted:

Walter Russell Mead: ‘Media Gives President A Pass Again

‘Obama should have been criticized over his smarmy and vacuous claims to have a solution for the problem back in 2008, but the press was more interested in crucifying Bush and wounding McCain than in offering the public a serious account of a genuine dilemma. What was clearly true back in 2008 was that the U.S. had won a difficult and shaky victory in Iraq after a war that should in hindsight not have been launched, while the smaller and more justifiable war in Afghanistan still offered no serious prospect of a happy ending.’

And it still doesn’t…Mead takes the NY Times to task.

Here’s a documentary on the Green Berets passed along by a reader, which has good footage of what American special forces are being asked to do in Afghanistan: The fierce fighting. The tribal, poor and divided loyalties of what come to be Afghan forces. The thuggish tactics of the Taliban:

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Related On This SiteFrom 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

Pauline Baker At The American Interest: ‘Unraveling Afghanistan’

Also On This Site:  Dexter Filkins Book On Afghanistan And Iraq: “The Forever War”…Sarah Chayes On Afghanistan In The Boston Review: Days Of Lies And Roses

Some Things Ought To Be Looked At As Clearly As Possible-Islamism

From The Atlantic:  ‘U.S. Forces Eliminate Key ISIS Official

‘In a statement released on Saturday, the Obama Administration described the mission as a success, and said no American forces or Syrian civilians were injured. But the raid also illustrates some of the larger strategic difficulties faced by the United States in its fight against ISIS. As Joshua Keating noted in Slate, the U.S. typically uses drone strikes rather than ground forces in targeted assassinations, an indication that the mission was to capture Sayyaf alive’

It’s important to remember the work many are doing on our behalf.

I’d say the current administration is having to use special forces and drone strikes as quietly as possible because, you know, there’s still a war going on with Islamic radicalism, which can become organized and focused enough to strike us here at home.  The logic behind this war hasn’t changed much, and for the record, I remain open to other options in analyzing the problem.

Simultaneously, the base for this President tends to the anti-war, activist, and at times quite radical when it comes to what it sees as legal and moral institutional authority.  Let’s just say the military establishment is to be looked at suspiciously, if at all, amongst many there.  Naturally, this base must be assured a peaceful, progressive future is in the cards, and its interests are at the table.

As a result, the dirty work is still being done by those on the front lines, while the continual goal of transforming the military according to many of the same ideals through policy are pursued a progressive President, while this President can barely acknowledge what the military often must do.

There’s plenty to criticize, of course, when it comes to bloated military spending and procurement (all across the government, and in police departments as well, honestly), as well as a lot of vigilance on the part of the citizenry and elected officials to send the right signals up the chain, by decent, everyday folks in and out of the government and in the armed forces to keep it lean and effective, incentivized properly.

Most importantly (stop me if you’ve heard this before): It’s important to keep in mind the flip side to much of this utopian, progressive idealism, anti-authoritarian, anti-establishmentarian radicalism etc. is not utopia, but usually a harsher realism when utopia fails to emerge, a potentially more repressive authority, and a more corruptible, poorly functioning establishment and set of institutions.

Many folks there have all the moral certainty needed to be in charge of you, rest assured.

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On that note, fortunately, the elder Tsarnaev, the failed professional boxer cum online jihadi searching for roots is already dead, and the younger has now received the death penalty.  I can’t say I find myself caring too much if he lives or dies, and if the people of Massachusetts so deem it.  So be it.

Here’s some video from the gym owner where Tamerlan trained.  Let’s not forget his criminal activity, nor the myopic denial of his parents that anything had gone wrong:

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Statistically speaking, very, very few Muslim immigrants in the U.S. will radicalize in such a fashion, but all it takes is one to deliver very serious consequences, not only to innocent lives, but to our institutions and what choices we face in handling our freedoms.  The general qualities of the Tsarnaev family, its history and its choices, have a lot to do with the eventual bombing and the fact is that the religion of Islam was the springboard for the radicalism.  Mom had a lot to do with it.

The risks and rewards, costs and benefits, and how much we can actually control when it comes to individual immigrants wouldn’t be a bad starting point for discussion.

Though for a more muddled, ideological debate, in this blog’s opinion, with all the troubles of Britain and Australia’s radical Muslim communities, one key ingredient seems to be a more entrenched Left, promoting victimhood, solidarity and class warfare.  Multiculturally inspired laws and constant activism in the mainstream don’t necessarily lead to better outcomes.

Remember those Sydney protests?:

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Skepticism At Home And Abroad-Two Friday Links

Michael Totten at The City Journal: ‘A Real Downside To Any Deal With Iran

Will the relatively weakened Sunni coalition try and use ISIS fighters as a proxy against Tehran, Damascus, Hizbollah and the government in Baghdad?

‘The U.S. hardly supports the malignant Assad, but all of Washington’s air strikes have landed on Sunni jihadist targets even after President Obama accused Damascus of deploying chemical weapons in civilian population centers. Like the government in Baghdad, the House of Assad is firmly in the Iranian camp. The state, along with the ruling family, is heavily packed with members of the Alawite minority, adherents of a heterodox religion that fuses Shia Islam, Christianity, and Gnosticism.’

Well, it’s nearly impossible to do deals with Sunni Ba’ath fascism, nor Saudi funded Wahhabism, but you can do deals with the mullahs in Tehran and the post-1979 crowd, desirous of deliverable nukes and working alongside Damascus, Hizbollah etc?

If there’s any one place on Earth right now where a nuclear arms race would be a bad idea, this is it.

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Ross Douthat at the NY Times: ‘Caesarism Without Apology

‘…A given move is a success if the opposition fails to find a way to block it, the hemmers and hawers are proven wrong if the president isn’t impeached, and the state of your party doesn’t really matter because an unbound presidency is all that progressivism really needs.’

If, as this blog does, you don’t see too many limiting principles on much of modern liberalism, (i.e. how does one ever know how much equality, economic regulation, central planning, tolerance, democracy etc. is enough?), then progressivism and activism is a much trickier beast: Ideologically predisposed towards vast expansions of federal and executive power through activism and majoritiarian populism.  This, quite aside from the executive-heavy trends we’ve been seeing in Washington the last generation or so.

Politicians aiming for the White House love controlling messages, and images, and Obama is no exception.  In fact, being a relative unknown in 2008, he was particularly reliant on analytics, social media, and the promotion of an image of himself.

All those promises of transparency, hipness, coolness and pop culture work against many realities of politics, and the job itself.

Boots On The Ground Against ISIS, Or No?

Matthew Continetti-‘Don’t Authorize Obama’s War:’

Perhaps we’re getting to that six-year point when the politics of the nation start becoming all about the next election and the changing-of-the-guard.

Continetti:

‘Far better for us all if the Congress refused the president precisely because he is unserious and untrustworthy with the security of the United States and the world, and spent the remaining two years of his presidency making the case publicly and robustly for the roll back of ISIS and the removal of Assad, an end to the Iranian nuclear program, a military buildup, and a renewal of the alliance system and of American support for Western principles of liberal democracy’

I suspect if the President wanted to fight ISIS the way a new AUMF implies might be necessary, he’d already be doing so.  Rather, I think he wants to cement the idea the U.S. troops will be very limited on the ground and thus, his legacy.  Hence, Continetti’s piece.

So, is a lower probability, higher-risk strategy of withdrawing most American military influence from the region while simultaneously working alongside strategic non-allies working (mostly Iran…the Moscow, Tehran, Damascus alliance…and by proxy Hezbollah and old Revolutionary Guard types)?

Do we have closer relations with our allies as a result?  Have we set up incentives that would lead to the ‘international community’ the President so often invokes while using American military leverage to gain it?

As posted:

Here’s a quote from Anne-Marie Slaughter, on liberal internationalism (addition: which is probably a few ticks center-ward of further Leftward progressive, semi-radical peace and democracy advocates)

‘The central liberal internationalist premise is the value of a rules-based international order that restrains powerful states and thereby reassures their enemies and allies alike and allows weaker states to have sufficient voice in the system that they will not choose to exit’

Related On This SiteMore Syria-From Via Media: ‘Congress on Syria: Going In On A Wing and A Prayer’From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’

Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘Syria’s Regime Not Worth Preserving’A Few More Syria Links-’Unmitigated Clusterf**k?’

From Reuters: ‘Analysis: Syrian Kurds Sense Freedom, Power Struggle Awaits’

Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘What Did The Arab Spring Really Change?’…Liberal Internationalism is hobbling us, and the safety of even the liberal internationalist doctrine if America doesn’t lead…Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

Two Monday Links On Syria And Iran