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August 2017

The downside of victory by Ruthie Blum

Though members of the anti-Donald Trump camp would die before admitting ‎it, they are in a state of exhilaration over his presidency. Every time he opens ‎his mouth, they feel vindicated in their opposition to his election and justified ‎in their personal loathing of him. The same goes for Israeli Prime Minister ‎Benjamin Netanyahu’s detractors.‎

I know exactly what they are going through, as this is how I experienced the ‎eight years of former U.S. President Barack Obama’s tenure. When Obama ‎was inaugurated in January 2009, I wept both tears of sadness and joy. I was ‎upset that this radical Saul Alinskyite with an anti-Semitic pastor was about to ‎take the helm of the most important position in the world. I was amused, ‎however, that he had emerged out of nowhere to swipe the Democratic ‎candidacy out of the clutches of Hillary Clinton, who was promised by her ‎party that she was a shoo-in. But mainly I was relieved, as a columnist, to be ‎able to spend the next several years calling the powers-that-be to task, rather ‎than having to defend them. ‎

In general, it is much easier to be a critic than a champion, because all ‎positions are flawed in some way. This is especially true where our preferred ‎politicians are concerned. Those we elect to represent our worldview not only ‎have faults; we are lucky if any of them are even capable of understanding the ‎debate, let alone articulating it. So we end up having to do that on their behalf. ‎

To be effective in this endeavor, we have to be clever, and that takes work. It’s ‎hard always having to preface support for an idea by acknowledging its ‎blemishes — as Winston Churchill did when describing democracy as the ‎‎”worst form of government … except for all those other forms.” Imagine how ‎trite and pathetic that sentence would have sounded had its order been ‎reversed.‎

Indeed, to put up a good defense, we have to anticipate the ‎prosecutorial argument of our adversaries and head it off at the pass by ‎presenting its merits, even when we don’t really wish to see any. Members of ‎both the Left and the Right who fail to do this come off as fanatics or fools. ‎

In contrast, being on the offensive requires little more than hurling darts at the ‎heart of a matter. Which is why I so frequently go after Palestinian Authority ‎President Mahmoud Abbas, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the ‎Iranian regime and all their apologists in the West. ‎

Far trickier is defending Trump and Netanyahu, both of whom I voted for and ‎still support, in spite of valid reasons to have qualms about each.‎

Trump’s Afghan Escalation By The Editors

President Trump doesn’t want to lose a war on his watch and that’s a good thing.

He had a choice. On one hand, he could follow his instinct to pull out of Afghanistan, act on his many bumptious calls to abandon the war, and please his most fervent supporters. On the other, he could acknowledge the disaster that would result in Afghanistan and potentially the region if he followed this course and instead work toward a more responsible policy. He, rightly, picked the latter option and spoke to the nation about his new strategy last night.

If President Obama had been as willing to examine his political promises and ideological predispositions in the light of reality, he wouldn’t have pulled out of Iraq, creating the conditions for the rise of ISIS and overwhelming Iranian influence in that country. Obama’s foolish choice, as Trump said last night, informed his more sober-minded decision on Afghanistan.

Trump’s strategy will involve the deployment of an unspecified number of additional troops, a rejection of arbitrary deadlines for a conditions-based evaluation of future drawdowns, looser rules of engagement for our troops, and pressure on our supposed ally Pakistan, which continues to play a dangerous double game, harboring our enemies. This is all to the good, and better than a precipitate total withdrawal. But cautions are in order.

First, if we have established anything in Afghanistan over the last 16 years, it is that victory will be extremely difficult to achieve given the limited social capital in that tragic, war-torn, highly tribal country. Anything like unambiguous success will be impossible without a commitment much larger than the American public is, understandably, willing to contemplate. So, for all of Trump’s stalwart talk about winning, the realistic choice is between a holding action and defeat.

It’s not clear that Trump will have the appetite for this difficult, twilight war over the longer term, and his natural predilections confused how he talked about the strategy. He said we aren’t going to engage in nation-building, but if the course of the war is dependent on the performance of the Afghan military and government — this, presumably, is what the conditions are about — we will need to try to foster the development of Afghan national institutions, i.e., engage in some nation-building.

As for Pakistan, Trump’s tough rhetoric was welcome. His warm words about India, in particular, probably concentrated minds in Islamabad. But Pakistan won’t easily be pressured out of a policy of maintaining strategic depth in Afghanistan via the Taliban that it has pursued for decades out of a sense of its national interest. Wrenching it into a different strategic orientation is a major diplomatic undertaking at a time when Rex Tillerson’s understaffed State Department appears to be held together with duct tape and baling wire.

All that said, Trump’s approach is better than the alternative. If the Taliban were going to (at least in its propaganda version) expel us from Afghanistan, it would vastly increase its prestige, and if it were to take over the country, it wouldn’t be long until fanatics began using its territory to plot against us. This was our experience in Iraq. Obama’s pull-out hastened that country’s downward slide and the day we had to send troops back in. Trump is right not to want to repeat the cycle in Afghanistan.

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Antifa Stabs Man for Having ‘Neo-Nazi Haircut’ By Tom Knighton August 22, 2017

Joshua Witt just wanted lunch. But his haircut — which, if you see a crowd of young people, is perhaps the most common one you’ll find these days — has somehow become an identifier of white nationalism to the Left.

To the point that it was evidence enough for an Antifa thug to to attack the 26-year-old man:

Witt says he’d just pulled in to the parking lot of the Steak ’n Shake in Sheridan, Colo., and was opening his car door.

“All I hear is, ‘Are you one of them neo-Nazis?’ as this dude is swinging a knife up over my car door at me,” he said.

“I threw my hands up and once the knife kind of hit, I dived back into my car and shut the door and watched him run off west, behind my car.

“The dude was actually aiming for my head,” he added.

Witt got three stitches to his wounded hand — and a profound desire to change hairstyles, which I can’t blame him for. Witt’s haircut:

Taliban Vow Jihad with ‘Lofty Spirits,’ ‘Graveyard for the American Empire’ After Trump Speech By Bridget Johnson

The Taliban vowed to create “a graveyard for the American Empire” with “lofty spirits” after President Trump didn’t heed their lobbying for a withdrawal from Afghanistan.

In unveiling an Afghanistan strategy at Fort Myer outside D.C. on Monday night, Trump said that “perhaps it will be possible to have a political settlement that includes elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan,” a continuation of the Obama-era policy that kept the door open to negotiations with the terror group and categorized them as armed insurgents.

The Taliban killed two U.S. soldiers in a suicide bombing earlier this month and claimed responsibility for the death of a U.S. soldier in July. They also claimed an Afghan military recruit who killed three U.S. soldiers in June was one of their fighters who had infiltrated security forces.

“America will continue its support for the Afghan government and the Afghan military as they confront the Taliban in the field,” Trump said. “Ultimately, it is up to the people of Afghanistan to take ownership of their future, to govern their society, and to achieve an everlasting peace. We are a partner and a friend, but we will not dictate to the Afghan people how to live, or how to govern their own complex society. We are not nation-building again. We are killing terrorists.”

Trump noted that “the American people are weary of war without victory” and said that despite his “original instinct” to pull out his advisers convinced him that “the consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable.”

In a statement from spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid released in print and on video, the Taliban said, “It seems America is not yet ready to end the longest war in its history. Instead of trying to understand ground realities, they still arrogantly believe in their force and might.”

“So long as a single American soldier remains in our homeland and American leaders continue treading the path of war, we shall also sustain our jihad against them with lofty spirits, absolute determination and additional firmness,” Mujahid vowed, calling it “our religious obligation and national duty — we shall remain true to this duty so long as souls remain in our bodies.”

“America should have thought about withdrawing their troops from Afghanistan instead of continuing the war,” he added. “As Trump stated ‘Americans are weary of the long war in Afghanistan’, we shall cast further worry into them and force American officials to accept realities. The Afghan Mujahid nation is neither tired nor will it ever get tired in pursuit of winning their freedom and establishing an Islamic system. If America does not withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, the day will not be far when Afghanistan shall transform into a graveyard for the American Empire and the American leaders can understand this concept.”

Ahead of last Friday’s Camp David meeting at which Trump discuss Afghanistan strategy with his team, the Taliban issued an open letter to Trump telling him that if the U.S. military hasn’t won the peace so far “you shall never be able to win it with mercenaries, notorious contractor firms and immoral stooges.” CONTINUE AT SITE

Dartmouth Professor Supports Antifa’s Violence By Tom Knighton

Professor Mark Bray of Dartmouth’s Gender research Institution
It’s unsurprising that Antifa is getting a great deal of support right now. The mainstream media is painting them as saints doing God’s work by combating the forces of evil while ignoring their previous attacks. Lots and lots and lots of attacks. And the rhetoric calling for even more violence.

NBC’s Chuck Todd sat down Sunday to discuss Antifa. His guests, Dartmouth professor Mark Bray and Southern Poverty Law Center president Richard Cohen, were anything but a balanced panel of guests. As The Daily Caller reports:

Bray argued that violence is necessary to stop white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups from getting too normalized or powerful, framing the issue as one of self-defense.

“A lot of people are under attack,” Bray said, “and sometimes they need to be able to defend themselves. It’s a privileged position to say you never have to defend yourself from these monsters.”

“Fascism cannot be defeated by speech,” Bray asserted, contending that Antifa needs to strike now to prevent the proliferation of neo-Nazis.

Cohen, by contrast, called the idea of initiating violence a “spectacularly bad idea.” He’s right, of course, though it’s surprising to hear that from the SPLC.

Bray’s bio — at Dartmouth’s “Gender Research Institution” — describes him as a “historian of human rights, terrorism, and political radicalism in Modern Europe.” Sounds like he should know a thing or two about the horrors of violent political radicalism — yet that’s precisely what he’s calling for. He’s providing the “intellectual” cover for their violence.

Let me be perfectly clear: People will die. It’s sheer luck that none of the multitudes seriously injured by Antifa over the past few years have died. If they continue confronting people with bats, pipes, bike locks, knives, and other deadly weapons, that luck will end.

If you want to combat Nazis, you can’t do it by eliciting sympathy for them. Killing a neo-Nazi after you show up to get rowdy with their lawful demonstration would certainly do that.

Of course, this is assuming Antifa kills an actual neo-Nazi or white supremacist. In this day and age, the Left and the media have turned opposing socialized health care into racism. Even a haircut can get you labeled a racist now, for crying out loud.

But that doesn’t matter to Bray. No matter how much blood is spilled based on his BS, he’ll probably trot along and pretend his hands are clean.

They’re not.

CNN’s Big Secret BREAKING: Host reveals that journalists don’t like Trump. James Freedman

Now it can be told. A CNN host named Brian Stelter confided to his audience this week about conversations occurring off-camera and off the record across the media landscape. According to Mr. Stelter:

President Trump’s actions and inactions in the wake of Charlottesville are provoking some uncomfortable conversations, mostly off the air if we’re being honest. In discussions among friends and family, and debates on social media, people are questioning the president’s fitness. But these conversations are happening in news rooms and TV studios as well.

Usually after the microphones are off, or after the stories are filed, after the paper has been put to bed, people’s concerns, and fears and questions come out. Questions that feel out of bounds, off limits, too hot for TV. Questions like these: Is the president of the United States a racist? Is he suffering from some kind of illness? Is he fit for office? And if he’s unfit, then what?

These are upsetting, polarizing questions. They’re uncomfortable to ask.

It’s not clear why Mr. Stelter wanted to raise the question of whether he and his colleagues are being honest. But there is certainly a question of just how uncomfortable CNN has been about raising issues related to President Trump’s health and character. “My impression is that since President Trump’s inauguration, there’s been a lot of tiptoeing going on,” added Mr. Stelter.

Perhaps he was referring to the program he hosted a month into the Trump presidency. Mr. Stelter called Mr. Trump’s words “a verbal form of poison” and said the President instills “fear in many people.” Then, appearing above a CNN headline saying, “TRUMP’S NIXON-ESQUE PRESS BASHING,” Mr. Stelter invited Carl Bernstein to tiptoe into the story. The former Washington Post reporter pronounced that Mr. Trump’s attacks on the press “are more treacherous than Richard Nixon’s ” and proceeded to reference Stalin and Hitler.

Mr. Bernstein has had plenty more to say on Mr. Stelter’s program, even before the inauguration. Here’s a transcript from a CNN appearance by Mr. Bernstein in March of last year:

STELTER: Carl, I want to come to you. You’re in Los Angeles this morning. You’ve been talking about this, talking about Trump for months as a neo-fascist. I want you to tell me why and how you view this current moment.

BERNSTEIN: Well, it’s a difficult term and the word “neo” meaning “new”, has a lot to do with it, a new kind of fascist in our culture, dealing with an authoritarian, demagogic point of view, nativist, anti-immigrant, racism, bigotry that he appeals to, and I think we need to look at the past. And I’m not talking about Hitlerism and genocide, and I’m not making a direct parallel to Mussolini — but a kind of American fascism that we haven’t seen before, different than George Wallace who was merely a racist. This goes to authoritarianism. It goes to despotism. The desire for a strong man who doesn’t trust the institutions of democracy and government. And my point is that we now need on cable news to have a debate, a historical debate about what fascism was and is and how Donald Trump fits into that picture, because it is something very foreign to our political culture in terms of a major presidential candidate in the 20th, or 21st century. And that debate is going on in print, online, but it is not part of our debate on cable.

Trump’s Afghan Commitment His critics lack an alternative other than retreat and defeat.

President Trump inherited a mess in Afghanistan, so give him credit for heeding his generals and committing to more troops and a new strategy. His decision has risks, like all uses of military force, but it will prevent a rout of our allies in Kabul and allow more aggressive operations against jihadists who would be delighted to plan global attacks with impunity.

Also give him credit for explaining a matter of war and peace to the American people Monday in a serious, thoughtful speech. Barack Obama unveiled his Afghan strategy in a major speech in 2009 and then tried to forget about the place. Mr. Trump should continue making the case for his strategy in more than Twitter bursts.

The heart of the new strategy is a commitment linked not to any timeline but to “conditions” on the ground and the larger war on terror. “We are not nation-building again. We are killing terrorists,” he said, in a line that will resonate with his political base even if building the Afghan defense forces is part of the goal.

Mr. Obama’s great antiterror mistake was imposing political limits that made it harder to succeed. He did this in Afghanistan at the start of his surge when he put a timeline on withdrawal. And he did it at the end of his term when he refused to let U.S. forces target Taliban soldiers even when they were killing our Afghan allies.

Mr. Trump said he is also lifting “restrictions” from Washington on the rules of military engagement. This means going after jihadists of all stripes, and it gives the generals flexibility to inflict enough pain on the Taliban that they begin to doubt they can win. Mr. Trump didn’t commit to a specific number of troops, though some sources have suggested 4,000 in addition to the 8,400 currently there.

Those troops won’t turn the tide by themselves, but we hope Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has the flexibility to deploy what he needs. If the strategy includes more close-air support, medical evacuation capability, Apache attack helicopters and officers embedded at the battalion level with Afghan military units, the U.S. troops will boost the morale of Afghan forces who ultimately have to win the war.

Mr. Trump’s most significant shift—if he can follow through—is the challenge to Pakistan. “We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting,” he said. “But that will have to change, and that will change immediately.”

History shows that a key to defeating an insurgency is denying the kind of safe haven that Pakistan provides the Taliban and the closely allied Haqqani network. Mr. Trump’s implication is that Pakistan must help in Afghanistan or face a cutoff in U.S. aid and perhaps cross-border strikes against terrorists inside Pakistan. Pakistani military leaders have never taken such a U.S. threat seriously, and if they play the same double game Mr. Trump will have to show he means it.

The Taliban now control as much as 40% of Afghan territory. But if the U.S. and Afghan army can stabilize more of the country, while training more Afghans to be as effective as its special forces have become, a diminished Taliban threat is achievable. The Afghan government will also have to do its part by providing better governance. Taliban leaders will have to be killed, but its foot soldiers might decide over time they can live with the government in Kabul.

And what is the alternative? Senator Rand Paul and the isolationist right want a U.S. withdrawal. But as Mr. Trump explained, that could return Afghanistan to a jihadist playground. Mr. Trump would own the foreign-policy and political consequences as Mr. Obama did the rise of Islamic State after his retreat from Iraq. Opposition from Democrats now is also disingenuous given their silence as Mr. Obama pursued his losing strategy.

Erik Prince of Blackwater has proposed turning the Afghan duty over to mercenaries with experience in the country. But does anyone think the U.S. public would long support paying modern-day Hessians to fight, as the press corps highlights every mistaken use of force or alleged misuse of taxpayer funds? Democrats turned Blackwater into a dirty political word—unfairly, for the most part—even when it was working side by side with U.S. troops in Iraq.

As Mr. Trump acknowledged, the U.S. public is wary of spending money on war without results. But Americans have also shown they will support commitments abroad for decades as long as casualties are low and they serve U.S. security interests. That’s true in South Korea, Europe and the Persian Gulf. The long war against jihadists will require similar commitments abroad.

Mr. Trump campaigned against overseas entanglements, but America’s foreign commitments can’t be abandoned without damaging consequences. Mr. Trump has now made his own political commitment to Afghanistan, and his job will be maintaining public support and congressional funding. These obligations go with the title of Commander-in-Chief.

The Very Strange Indictment of Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s IT Scammers It leaves out a lot of highly pertinent information. By Andrew C. McCarthy

Let’s say you’re a prosecutor in Washington. You are investigating a husband and wife, naturalized Americans, who you believe have scammed a federal credit union out of nearly $300,000. You catch them in several false statements about their qualifications for a credit line and their intended use of the money. The strongest part of your case, though, involves the schemers’ transferring the loot to their native Pakistan.

So . . . what’s the best evidence you could possibly have, the slam-dunk proof that their goal was to steal the money and never look back? That’s easy: One after the other, the wife and husband pulled up stakes and tried to high-tail it to Pakistan after they’d wired the funds there — the wife successfully fleeing, the husband nabbed as he was about to board his flight.

Well, here’s a peculiar thing about the Justice Department’s indictment of Imran Awan and Hina Alvi, the alleged fraudster couple who doubled as IT wizzes for Debbie Wasserman Schultz and many other congressional Democrats: There’s not a word in it about flight to Pakistan. The indictment undertakes to describe in detail four counts of bank-fraud conspiracy, false statements on credit applications, and unlawful monetary transactions, yet leaves out the most damning evidence of guilt.

In fact, the indictment appears to go out of its way not to mention it.

I’ll get back to that in a second. First, let’s recap. As I explained about three weeks ago, there is a very intriguing investigation of the Awan family. There are about six of them — brothers, spouses, and attached others — who were retained by various Democrats as computer-systems managers at compensation levels dwarfing that of the average congressional staffer. The Awans fell under suspicion in late 2016 and were canned at the beginning of February, on suspicion of mishandling the sensitive information to which they’d had access: scanning members’ e-mail, transferring files to remote servers under the Awans’ control, stealing computer equipment and hard drives (some of which they attempted to destroy when they were found out), along with a sideline in procurement fraud.

We should say that almost all of them were canned. Hina Alvi and her husband, Imran Awan, stayed on, even though they were no longer authorized to have access to the House computer system (i.e., to do the work they were hired to do). Alvi continued to be retained by Congressman Gregory Meeks, a New York Democrat, for another four weeks. During that time, we now know, she was tying up loose financial ends, packing her house up, and pulling three young daughters out of school — just before skedaddling to Pakistan.

Awan was kept on the payroll for about six more months by Wasserman Schultz, a Florida Democrat, former Democratic National Committee chairwoman, and Clinton insider. She finally fired him only after he was arrested at the airport right before a scheduled flight to Qatar, from whence he planned to join Alvi in Pakistan.

There are grounds to suspect blackmail, given (a) the staggering sums of money paid to the Awans over the years, (b) the sensitive congressional communications to which they had access, (c) the alleged involvement of Imran Awan and one of his brothers in a blackmail-extortion scheme against their stepmother, and (d) Wasserman Schultz’s months of protecting Awan and potentially impeding the investigation. There are also, of course, questions about stolen information. And there is, in addition, the question I raised a month ago: Why did the FBI and the Capitol Police allow Hina Alvi to leave the country on March 5 when there were grounds to arrest her at Dulles Airport? Why did they wait to charge her until last week — by which time she was safely in Pakistan, from which it will likely be impossible to extradite her for prosecution?

What, moreover, about Awan’s brothers and other apparent accomplices? What has become of them since they were fired by the House almost seven months ago?

Our War against Memory The new abolitio memoriae By Victor Davis Hanson

Back to the Future

Romans emperors were often a bad lot — but usually confirmed as such only in retrospect. Monsters such as Nero, of the first-century A.D. Julio-Claudian dynasty, or the later psychopaths Commodus and Caracalla, were flattered by toadies when alive — only to be despised the moment they dropped.

After unhinged emperors were finally killed off, the sycophantic Senate often proclaimed a damnatio memoriae (a “damnation of memory”). Prior commemoration was wiped away, thereby robbing the posthumous ogre of any legacy and hence any existence for eternity.

In more practical matters, there followed a concurrent abolitio memoriae (an “erasing of memory”). Specifically, moralists either destroyed or rounded up and put away all statuary and inscriptions concerning the bad, dead emperor. In the case of particularly striking or expensive artistic pieces, they erased the emperor’s name (abolitio nominis) or his face and some physical characteristics from the artwork.

Impressive marble torsos were sometimes recut to accommodate a more acceptable (or powerful) successor. (Think of something like the heads only of the generals on Stone Mountain blasted off and replaced by new carved profiles of John Brown and Nat Turner).

A Scary History

Without Leon Trotsky’s organizational and tactical genius, Vladimir Lenin might never have consolidated power among squabbling anti-czarist factions. Yet after the triumph of Stalin, “de-Trotskyization” demanded that every word, every photo, and every memory of an ostracized Trotsky was to be obliterated. That nightmarish process fueled allegorical themes in George Orwell’s fictional Animal Farm and 1984.

How many times has St. Petersburg changed its name, reflecting each generation’s love or hate or indifference to czarist Russia or neighboring Germany? Is the city always to remain St. Petersburg, or will it once again be anti-German Petrograd as it was after the horrific First World War? Or perhaps it will again be Communist Leningrad during the giddy age of the new man — as dictated by the morality and the politics of each new generation resenting its past? Is a society that damns its past every 50 years one to be emulated?

Abolition of memory is easy when the revisionists enjoy the high moral ground and the damned are evil incarnate. But more often, killing the dead is not an easy a matter of dragon slaying, as with Hitler or Stalin. Confederate General Joe Johnston was not General Stonewall Jackson and after the war General John Mosby was not General Wade Hampton, just as Ludwig Beck was not Joachim Peiper.

Stone Throwers and Their Targets

What about the morally ambiguous persecution of sinners such as the current effort in California to damn the memory of Father Junipero Serra and erase his eponymous boulevards, to punish his supposedly illiberal treatment of Native Americans in the early missions some 250 years ago?

California Bay Area zealots are careful to target Serra but not Leland Stanford, who left a more detailed record of his own 19th-century anti-non-white prejudices, but whose university brand no progressive student of Stanford would dare to erase, because doing so would endanger his own studied trajectory to the good life. We forget that there are other catalysts than moral outrage that calibrate the targets of abolitio memoriae.

Again, in the case of the current abolition of Confederate icons — reenergized by the Black Lives Matter movement and the general repulsion over the vile murders by cowardly racist Dylan Roof — are all Confederate statues equally deserving of damnation?

Does the statue of Confederate General James Longstreet deserve defacing? He was a conflicted officer of the Confederacy, a critic of Robert E. Lee’s, later a Unionist friend of Ulysses S. Grant, an enemy of the Lost Causers, and a leader of African-American militias in enforcing reconstruction edicts against white nationalists. Is Longstreet the moral equivalent of General Nathan Bedford Forrest (“get there firstest with the mostest”), who was the psychopathic villain of Fort Pillow, a near illiterate ante-bellum slave-trading millionaire, and the first head of the original Ku Klux Klan?

Were the 60–70 percent of the Confederate population in most secessionist states who did not own slaves complicit in the economics of slavery? Did they have good options to leave their ancestral homes when the war started to escape the stain of perpetuating slavery? Do such questions even matter to the new arbiters of ethics, who recently defiled the so-called peace monument in an Atlanta park — a depiction of a fallen Confederate everyman, his trigger hand stilled by an angel? How did those obsessed with the past know so little of history?

Key to General William Tecumseh Sherman’s devastating strategy of marching through Georgia and the Carolinas was his decision to deliberately target the plantations and the homes of the wealthy, along with Confederate public buildings. Apparently Sherman believed that the plantation owners of the South were far more culpable than the poor non-slave-holding majority in most secessionist states. Sherman generally spared the property of non-slave owners, though they collectively suffered nonetheless through the general impoverishment left in Sherman’s wake.

In our race to rectify the past in the present, could Ken Burns in 2017 still make his stellar Civil War documentary, with a folksy and drawly Shelby Foote animating the tragedies of the Confederacy’s gifted soldiers sacrificing their all for a bad cause? Should progressives ask Burns to reissue an updated Civil War version in which Foote and southern “contextualizers” are left on the cutting room floor?

Spain: Barcelona Attack Was Preventable by Soeren Kern

The measures to place bollards or planters in public areas were never implemented in Barcelona because the leaders of the Catalan independence movement did not want to be seen as taking orders from the central government in Madrid.

Far more difficult to explain is why no one reported suspicious activity at the chalet.

Although some Catalans are having second thoughts about the wisdom of promoting Muslim mass immigration as a strategy to achieve Catalan independence, at least 10,000 Catalans with links to the separatist movement have actually converted to Islam in recent years.

As details emerge of the August 17 jihadist attack in Barcelona, the evidence points to one overarching conclusion: the carnage could have been prevented if a series of red flags had not been either missed or ignored.

The failure to heed intelligence warnings, enhance physical security and report suspicious activity are all factors that facilitated the attack, which had been in the planning stage for more than six months.

The attack was also enabled by the idiosyncrasies of Spanish politics, especially the tensions that exist between the central government and the leaders of the independence movement in Catalonia, the autonomous region of which Barcelona is the capital.
Failure to Install Bollards on Las Ramblas

The Barcelona attack could have been prevented had municipal officials complied with an order to install bollards, vertical poles designed to prevent car ramming attacks, on the Rambla, the city’s main tourist thoroughfare.

On December 20, 2016, one day after a Tunisian jihadist drove a truck into a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people and injuring 56, Spanish National Police issued a circular ordering all central, regional and municipal police departments in Spain to “implement physical security measures to protect public spaces” to prevent jihadist attacks “in places with high numbers of people.” The circular advised:

“Municipalities should protect these public spaces by temporarily installing large planters or bollards at access points to hinder or prevent the entry of vehicles.”

The measures were never implemented in Barcelona because the leaders of the Catalan independence movement did not want to be seen as taking orders from the central government in Madrid.

After receiving the directive, Catalan autonomous police, known as the Mossos d’Esquadra, accused the central government of “alarmism” and insisted that it would not order municipalities in Catalonia to implement this “indiscriminate measure.” The Mossos also claimed to have the jihadist threat under control, that local police were trained to “detect symptoms or radicalization,” and that there were “no concrete threats.”

After the Barcelona attack, Deputy Mayor Gerardo Pisarello blamed the absence of bollards on the Catalan Interior Ministry. “The City of Barcelona has never refused to install bollards. Whenever it has been requested, we have done so,” Pisarello said. Ada Colau, Barcelona’s leftwing mayor, however, has repeatedly refused to “fill Barcelona with barriers,” insisting that it must remain “a city of liberty.”

El Periódico de Catalunya, a paper based in Barcelona, elaborated:

“The total absence of police collaboration between the Mossos d’Esquadra, which is the police force deployed on the ground, and the National Police and the Civil Guard translates into huge security deficiencies. The relationship between police forces — influenced by the political situation — is terrible and, in the case of the Mossos and the National Police, it is open war.