“Gates-gate: Is Obama the Only Problem with the A-stan War?”

Excuse me while I defend President Obama.

This doesn’t happen often, if ever at all. But this Robert Gates story, whipping through Washington like wildfire, feels like smoke in our eyes.

It all started with an article by Bob Woodward in the Washington Post about the former secretary of defense’s new memoir, “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.” Gates, Woodward writes, had concluded “by early 2010 (that) the president ‘doesn’t believe in his own strategy, and doesn’t consider the war (in Afghanistan) to be his. For him, it’s all about getting out.’”

Getting out: my one, undoubtedly accidental, convergence with Obama. But I digress.

Woodward continues: “Leveling one of the more serious charges that a defense secretary could make against a commander in chief sending forces into combat, Gates asserts that Obama had more than doubts about the course he had charted in Afghanistan. The president was ‘skeptical if not outright convinced it would fail,’ Gates writes.”

A commander in chief sends Americans to war “convinced it would fail”? The ensuing dudgeon has never been higher among Obama’s critics, which, of course, should include me.

But there are a couple of points to take into account about this particular revelation from the Gates book via Woodward (the book’s release date is Jan. 14).

First, I found myself lingering over Woodward’s description of “the president’s own strategy.” To be sure, any war Obama fights as president belongs to him, but there is more to this story. Back in 2010, I recall reading a shocking insider account about how the military brass virtually imposed the Afghanistan “surge” strategy on Obama. The headline over this earlier Washington Post story was: “Military thwarted president seeking choice on Afghanistan.” The writer was again Bob Woodward. In fact, the earlier article, one of a three-part series, was adapted from Woodward’s 2010 book “Obama’s Wars.”

“America, the Big Dumb Ox”: Steven Kates ****

An interesting new review of American Betrayal from the January 2014 issue of the Australian journal Quadrant, edited by Keith Windshuttle, the leading general intellectual journal of ideas, literature, poetry and historical and political debate published in Australia.

“I have long known Robert Conquest’s three laws of politics, of which the third had always been something of a mystery. One and two I have seen for myself, but the third remained unclear:

1. Everyone is conservative about what they know best.

2. Any organisation not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.

3. The simplest way to explain the behaviour of any bureaucratic organisation is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.

The mystery has now been more than cleared up, and if I have learned anything in reading American Betrayal by Diana West, it is that Conquest may not have gone far enough. My own rewrite of Rule Number 3 would be: assume any organisation with actual power will almost immediately be taken over by a cabal of its enemies. That may even have been what he meant but was too polite to say.

No book has ever frightened me as much as American Betrayal. The only thing wrong with reading it is that you find yourself so surrounded by impossible odds that it seems there is no way you can go that isn’t in the wrong direction. Trying to fix things is as bad as just leaving them alone. But because the story the book tells is so incredible, you realise just how unbelievable her thesis would be unless you had read the book yourself. I will therefore first bring to your attention a number of the reviews that were put up on the Amazon website. I’ll only say that none of them gives you anything like the flavour of what the book is actually like. So first read through these and then let us continue from there:

“This explosive book is a long-needed answer to court histories that continue to obscure key facts about our backstage war with Moscow. Must-reading for serious students of security issues and Cold War deceptions, both foreign and domestic.”—M. Stanton Evans, author of Blacklisted by History

“Enlightening. I give American Betrayal five stars only because it is not possible to give it six.”—John Dietrich, formerly of the Defense Intelligence Agency and author of The Morgenthau Plan: Soviet Influence on American Postwar Policy

“Turkey, the Jews, and the Holocaust” By Corry Guttstadt- Reviewed by Harold Rhode
The first long study on the Jews in Turkey was written by the late American scholar Stanford Shaw—born Stanley Shapiro, a well known Ottoman scholar, who eventually married a Turkish Muslim woman. Though clearly versed in the sources, he produced what was essentially a whitewash of the ‘wonderful’ Jewish life in modern Turkey. Shaw’s is more fantasy than truth.

The present book takes a much more sobering approach. This superb book , Turkey, the Jews, and the Holocaust, by Corry Guttstadt, gives the details of why Jewish life, unlike what the above-mentioned Stanford Shaw claims, was so precarious, even after, and especially so, after the secular Turkish Republic was founded. The author is thoroughly grounded in the Turkish sources, and has done research in fifty archives in eleven countries. She presents a very detailed analysis of how pre-Holocaust Turkey was so difficult for the Jews, how the Turkish government did almost nothing to help its Jewish citizens living in Nazi-occupied Europe, and how it used the precarious situation of the Jews in the world to pass extremely restrictive laws to impoverish its own Jewish citizens during World War II. The few examples where Turkish consuls in Europe helped Jews — so often touted by modern Turkish diplomats and public relations firms — were the exception, not the rule.


As President Obama returns from a well deserved and earned two-week vacation in Hawaii – ok, being quite facetious here – I wonder if he did any reflection between rounds of golf. And why is it that the First Lady remained in Hawaii to celebrate her 50th birthday?

Regardless, I reflected upon the words of George Santayana, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. Reason being, as President Obama returns to Washington DC he is part of a repeat of history. After the fall of South Vietnam the rise of Southeast Asian communism ensued, Cambodia was embroiled in a five-year civil war, 1970-1975, resulting in the ascension of the Khmer Rouge. Under the brutal leadership of Pol Pot the following four years resulted in one of the most horrific acts of genocide.

It what would come to be known as the “Killing Fields” the Khymer Rouge reign contributed to the deaths of between 1.7 to 2.5 million. Pol Pot presided over a communist dictatorship that imposed a radical form of agrarian socialism on the country. His government forced urban dwellers to relocate to the countryside to work in collective farms and forced labor projects. The combined effects of executions, forced labor, malnutrition, and poor medical care caused the deaths of approximately 25 percent of the Cambodian population.


In 2014, 25 million to 30 million Americans who have employer-provided health insurance are likely to lose it, thanks to ObamaCare’s requirement that all plans cover what Washington deems “essential benefits.”

Some employers will consider that unaffordable and drop coverage altogether, when their current, less-expensive plans expire over the course of the year. These 25 million to 30 million are in addition to 6 million who bought plans in the individual market and had them canceled by Jan. 1.

The plight of those 6 million made headline news and caused the first cracks in the Democratic Party’s support for the law. The bigger wave of workplace cancellations will force Democrats seeking re-election this fall to defend a law that harms twice as many people as it helps.

That’s right: At least twice as many will lose coverage in 2014 as will gain it.

The Congressional Budget Office projects 16 million will gain coverage through the law’s Medicaid expansion and subsidized exchange plans. That’s a best-case scenario, rosier than the enrollment figures we’ve seen so far, but still half the number losing coverage.

A new round of kudos goes to the government of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for its steadfast support for Israel. In what has come to be characteristic of its stubbornness in remaining on the right side of history, Ottowa has done it again.

On Wednesday, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced the appointment of Vivian Bercovici as ambassador to Israel, effective immediately. As a result, Bercovici — a lawyer with a monthly column in The Toronto Star — is likely to accompany Harper to Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority towards the end of the month.

It is genuinely great news. But Bercovici’s appointment is causing controversy at home and abroad. This is not merely because she was selected from outside foreign service ranks. Nor is it solely due to her being a Jew who spent two years at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem during the early 1980s. Several ambassadors to Israel who fit this description have been praised by the very people who are suspicious of Bercovici.

No, the source of the aspersions being cast on Baird’s choice of ambassador is Bercovici’s worldview. Not jibing with liberal dogma or diplomatic double-speak renders it — and her — non-kosher for the position.

Telling the truth will do that.

This week marks the 50th anniversary of Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” and as the joke goes, “Poverty won.” Five decades after a blizzard of programs began descending on the American people, the poverty rate remains essentially unchanged.

That’s a little unfair. What counts as poverty today would not have seemed so impoverished 50 years ago, when many of the poor lived without electricity and were no strangers to hunger. Today, the biggest health problems of the poor are more likely to stem from obesity than from anything approaching starvation. Defenders of the war on poverty — and the massive bureaucracy that has built up around it — insist that underfunding is to blame.

That’s a tough sell. The Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector estimates that we’ve spent $20 trillion on these programs — not counting Medicare and Social Security. We spend $1 trillion to $2 trillion more every year, depending on how you do the math. But, apparently for liberals, that’s still too stingy. Perhaps the problem isn’t how much we’re spending, but how we’re spending it.

If you drew a Venn diagram of where the hard Left and the libertarian Right agreed, the overlapping shaded part would include a bunch of social issues — gay marriage, drug legalization, etc. — but almost no economic issues. Save one: the universal basic income (UBI).

Cancer Battle Could End Coburn’s Senate Career Early

Sen. Tom Coburn says he’s “plenty healthy enough” to serve out his second term in office, but won’t run for re-election in 2016, as he has indicated before.

The Oklahoma Republican has been privately undergoing intensive treatments for a recurrence of prostate cancer and may be facing surgery that could sideline him temporarily or permanently, according to Politico.

A decision about his future time in office may come in February, when he finds out if he will have to undergo major surgery.

“I’m a straight shooter,” Coburn told Politico in an interview. “When I get ready to make a decision on what I’m going to do, I’m going to put it out there.”

Coburn’s health issues have come up just as Oklahoma’s senior Sen. Jim Inhofe, 79, is dealing with serious health and personal issues of his own. The Republican went through quadruple bypass surgery in October, just weeks before his son, Perry, died in a plane crash. Inhofe has returned to work and plans to run for re-election, and Coburn, likewise, plans to keep working for as long as he is able.

When Charles Woods, the father of Tyrone Woods, one of the Navy SEALS who died fighting in Benghazi, met with Hillary Clinton, she assured him that, “We’re going to have that person arrested and prosecuted that did the video.” And they got him, officially on charges of violating parole, unofficially on charges of violently offending violent Muslims.

The woman whose policy had overthrown the Libyan government and then placed a barely defended diplomatic facility in the middle of a city of terrorists, did not promise the grieving father that his son’s killers would pay. She promised him that the man who offended his son’s killers would pay.

Not only would his son be the first casualty of that appeasement policy, but the Constitution that his son had sworn to support and defend would be the second casualty.

Mark Basseley Youssef is not the first filmmaker sent to prison by a Democrat in the White House for making the wrong kind of movie that interfered with his foreign policy. The first man was Robert Goldstein whose movie, the The Spirit of ’76, about the American Revolution, came at a time when Woodrow Wilson was trying to get Americans deeper into aiding the British in World War I.

The antics of former NBA player Dennis Rodman in North Korea have puzzled many observers but should come as no surprise. Rodman is actually part of a longstanding American tradition of propping up Stalinist regimes at the nadir of their brutality. It all started with Stalin himself.

“One must not make a god of Stalin. He was too important for that.” That is the sort of thing one cannot make up. It comes from I Change Worlds (1935) by Anna Louise Strong, an American journalist who helped found the Moscow News, an English-language Soviet publication staffed by American Communist women “of quite exceptional horror,” as the Manchester Guardian’s Moscow correspondent Malcolm Muggeridge put it. He wrote that Strong bore an expression of such overwhelming stupidity it actually gave her a rare kind of beauty.

Strong also wrote for such prestigious publications as the Atlantic, and remained a faithful member of Stalin’s alibi armory, denying or defending every atrocity. That got her no seniority with the boss and in 1949 Stalin had Strong arrested and charged her with espionage. She duly transferred her allegiance to Mao Tse-Tung and lived in Communist China until her death in 1970.

While Strong was defending Stalin, Muggeridge broke the story of Stalin’s forced famine in the Ukraine, which claimed millions of lives. But according to Walter Duranty of the New York Times the Ukraine at the time was a veritable cornucopia, flowing with milk and honey. In Duranty’s narrative famine was impossible under the scientific, planned economy of the USSR and the wise leadership of Stalin. Duranty won a Pulitzer Prize and later admitted he knew the full horror of the famine all along. His favorite expressions included: “I put my money on Stalin,” and “you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.”