Legions of activists and commentators have convinced themselves that we know exactly what happened.
The events in Ferguson, Mo., have launched a familiar spectacle: the race to be wrong first.

Michael Brown, an 18-year-old African-American man, was shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. The Washington Post had more on the story about what one witness called an “execution-style slaying”:

“Lawyer Freeman Bosley Jr. said Dorian Johnson, a friend of Brown’s, has told the FBI that Officer Darren Wilson confronted the two because they were walking in the middle of the street.

“Wilson cursed at the pair and ordered them onto the sidewalk, Bosley told The Washington Post. When they refused to comply, he said, the officer grabbed Brown’s throat through the window of his cruiser, pulled out a pistol and shot him. Wilson then chased Brown, shot him in the back and shot him five to six more times as Brown’s hands were raised, Bosley said.”

An autopsy commissioned by the Brown family suggests that account is not true, at least in regard to the most incendiary charge. None of the bullets fired at Johnson entered his body through his back. That hardly means Wilson was justified in shooting Brown even once. Nor does it necessarily mean Wilson is a murderer. The simple fact is we don’t know.

The rush to condemn Wilson’s conduct and the gallop to martyr Brown may have set land-speed records. The New Yorker, like numerous outlets, reported that Brown was walking to his grandmother’s home when confronted by Wilson. A video released from the by turns hapless and devious Ferguson Police Department alleges that he was actually walking from a thuggish and brazen shoplifting of a box of cigars from a convenience store.


His march through Georgia has been gravely misunderstood ― as has Israel’s strategy in Gaza.

William Tecumseh Sherman 150 years ago took Atlanta before heading out on his infamous March to the Sea to make Georgia “howl.” He remains one of the most controversial and misunderstood figures in American military history. Sherman was an attritionist, not an annihilationist — a strategist who believed in attacking the sources that fuel and field an army rather than butting heads against the army itself. To review his career is to shed light on why the Israeli Defense Forces were both effective in Gaza and hated even more for being so effective.

Much of the South has hated William Tecumseh Sherman for over a century and a half, but not because his huge army killed thousands of young Confederate soldiers (it did not). Grant did that well enough in the horrific summer of 1864 outside Richmond. Rather, Sherman humiliated the plantationist class by staging three long marches during the last twelve months of the Civil War — from Tennessee to Atlanta, from Atlanta to Savannah, and from Savannah up through the Carolinas. In each of these brilliantly conducted invasions, Sherman, with a few notable exceptions, sought to avoid direct fighting with Confederate forces, either outflanking opposing armies that popped up in his way, or entrenching and letting aggressors wear themselves out against his fortified lines. He did enormous material damage, as he boasted that his enemies could do nothing to impede his progress — humiliation being central to his mission.

Instead of fighting pitched battles, Sherman was interested in three larger strategic agendas. War in his mind was not a struggle between militaries so much as between the willpower of entire peoples, distant though they be from the battlefield. One chief aim was iconic. Sherman sought to capture cities or traverse holy ground that might offer his forces symbolic lessons that transcended even strategic considerations. He wanted to capture the important rail center of Atlanta before the November 1864 election and thereby ensure that the war would continue under a reelected Lincoln rather than be negotiated into a meaningless armistice by George McClellan. By taking the South’s second-most-important city, Sherman reminded the Union that the Northern strategy was working and that Lincoln, as the architect of it, deserved support.

Marching through the heart of Georgia to Savannah also reminded the Confederacy that it could not stop a Union army from going pretty much where it pleased — even into the heretofore untouched Southern heartlands. The much-hyped March to the Sea took on an almost messianic character in dissecting the Confederacy, as Sherman torched plantations and freed slaves. His so-called bummers praised their “Uncle Billy” and sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” as they tramped through Georgia. Sherman was interested in such theatrics as part of a larger moral lesson that “War is the remedy that our enemies have chosen, and I say let us give them all they want.” He was particularly keen on reminding those who start wars that they must bear the consequences of their ideologies.


The essay below appeared in Asia Times Online on April 8, 2008. Apropos of the Ferguson riots it is reprinted below. It should make no-one happy. The crippling failure in American culture, I argue, is our refusal to come to terms with our own Civil War. This failure afflicts the conservative movement. For example: Last June I had the privilege to teach a course at the annual Acton University in Grand Rapids, MI. One of the keynote speakers was Judge Andrew Napolitano, whom I admire and whose remarks in the main I applauded. But Napolitano argued in passing that Lincoln had done a terrible thing by fighting the Civil War: surely, the judge said, he could have found a better way to end slavery than by tearing the country apart. That is utter nonsense for two reasons: the first is that a large part of the South was willing to die to preserve slavery, and the second is that the European imperial powers were already conspiring with elements of the South to expand slavery through Cuba, Mexico and Central America. If Lincoln had not fought the Civil War in 1861, the French invasion of Mexico in 1862 would have established a link with the Confederacy and prevented a Northern blockade.

Perfectly intelligent and well-motivated men like Napolitano ignore the obvious about the Civil War because it is still too horrible to contemplate. More broadly, the conservative movement continues to tolerate a revolting form of nostalgia for the slave era euphemistically called “Southern Traditionalism.” ISI’s middle-brow list of “Fifty Greatest Books of the 20th Century” includes a biography of Gen. Robert E. Lee, labeled “The tragic life of a great Southern traditionalist beautifully chronicled by a great Southern traditionalist.” The ISI list is mostly mediocre, but this is offensive in the extreme.

Below I demand of Americans “a higher threshold for horror.” I don’t expect you to like it. I didn’t like writing it. But what I say is true. Someone has to say it.

Horror and humiliation and Chicago
By Spengler

What causes the Reverend Jeremiah Wright to imagine that “the government gives [young black men] the drugs, builds bigger prisons, [and] passes a three strikes law” to incarcerate them? It is the same kind of unbearable grief that still causes white Southerners to believe that their ancestors fought the Civil War for a noble cause? It is too humiliating to think that the miscreants had it coming.

An uncanny parallel links the fate of young African-Americans today and that of the young white men of the slave-holding South in 1865. Both cohorts have lost a terrifying proportion of their number to violence. One third of black Americans between the ages of 20 and 30 passed through the criminal justice system in 1995, according to the Sentencing Project, a prisoners’ advocacy group. Nearly a third of military-age Southern men military age were killed or wounded during America’s Civil War. [1]


Summer continues, and so do Hillary Clinton’s blunders. This week brings news that the former first lady lives a lot larger than those blue collar Democrats who supported her for president in 2008 might realize.

We already knew about the quarter-million dollar speaking fees, but that’s just for the speech. In addition, Mrs. Clinton “insists on staying in the ‘presidential suite’ of luxury hotels that she chooses anywhere in the world, including Las Vegas,” reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “She usually requires those who pay her six-figure fees for speeches to also provide a private jet for transportation—only a $39 million, 16-passenger Gulfstream G450 or larger will do.”

Through a state public records law, the paper obtained documents related to Mrs. Clinton speech at a University of Nevada, Las Vegas fundraiser last fall. Her speaking contract includes a stipend for her staff and details such as how long she will remain at an event (90 minutes), how many photos she will pose for (50) and how many people she will pose with (100).

“Her lifestyles of the rich and famous ways and comments that she made about her wealth during a recent book tour have fueled criticism that she’s out of touch with average Americans,” reports the Review Journal.


Ten years ago Bill Cosby gave a speech that fits today’s racial troubles in Ferguson, Mo. “People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of poundcake,” the now 77-year-old black comedian said at an NAACP event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision. “And then we all run out and we’re outraged—’The cops shouldn’t have shot him!’ What the hell was he doing with the poundcake in his hand?”

The 18-year-old shot and killed on Aug. 9 by Ferguson police was not caught with poundcake. Michael Brown had shoplifted cigars from a convenience store. On Aug. 15, the police released a video of the theft and the 6-foot-4-inch, nearly 300-pound teen violently shoving, shaking and threatening the store clerk.

Mr. Cosby is not the only black person to ask about the troubling excuses that so many civil-rights leaders are making for criminal behavior. In 1993, Jesse Jackson told organizers in Chicago: “There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery. Then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.”

Black people all over the nation fear the violent, dysfunctional behavior that has made murder the No. 1 cause of death for black males between the ages of 15 and 34. Last week outside Washington, D.C., a 3-year-old girl was killed when a 25-year-old black man, upset about an argument over borrowed clothes, got a gun and started firing at the outside of the house. One of the bullets hit her.

More than 90% of the young black men killed by gunfire today are not killed by police but by other black men. About half of the nation’s murder victims are black even though blacks account for only 13% of the U.S. population.


Or, they ought to. Some have. In a manner of speaking, and very guardedly. Don’t blame the Democrats for perpetuating black poverty. Don’t blame Obama, either. Heavens, if an individual or official did that, a brick outhouse would drop and crush the fellow. It’s happened before. It’ll happen again as long as Obama is still in power.

Note that I didn’t say, “As long as Obama is still in office.” There’s a significant difference in the terms. Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, Valerie Jarrett, and that whole motley, malevolent crew regard their offices as seats of unrestrained power, unchecked by the Constitution and by Congress. And the news media seem to want Obama to go the limit, to reach the goal posts and do his pitiful victory dance again, nine-iron in hand.

Reading Cliff Kincaid’s Family Security Matters article of August 18th, “Media Blame Police for Race Riots,” it occurred to me that there ought to be an article titled, “Police Blame Media for Race Riots.” So, here it is.

I can’t top Daniel Greenfield’s sardonic article, “How to Write About Israel” column of August 18th. It is a veritable instruction and policy manual for liberal and clueless “journalists” on how to misrepresent Israel and the facts behind any conflict between it and its attackers. It’s a playbook, an absolutely mandatory script to follow, lest one be relieved of employment or be reassigned to cover pet parades in Oshkosh or a sighting of the Loch Ness Monster in the Dead Sea.

At one point in the Fox News video of the chaos, the riot-geared police can be seen backing off, passing a shoulder-to-shoulder mass of photographers with their cameras, rows thick, perhaps several score of them, some possibly standing on bleachers in the rear to give the them better shots of the police firing into the menacing crowd of “peaceful” protesters.

The question is: Why aren’t the “protesters” attacking the newsies? Because the protesters are on TV now, on camera. They’re hamming it up for the news media, putting on their best “America’s Got Chanting Angry Mob Talent” performances. Were it just a news scribbler and his flash camera photographer from the Daily Ferguson Flier, the rioters and their provocateurs wouldn’t be out in such numbers, if any were out at all, and certainly wouldn’t be egging the police on to fire into the crowd and crack heads with their batons. (Oh, horrors! The police are so brutal, not the rock-throwing punks! They’re black, and can do no wrong, you racist!) But the news media has pumped up the riots for national and international consumption.

There is no video of Darren Wilson shooting Michael Brown, in the back or anywhere else on his ample anatomy. No video of Brown trying to grab Wilson’s gun and slamming the cop’s door on him. No sound bytes of the cop’s gun going off in the car after Brown tried to wrest it from the cop, nor of the cop telling Brown to freeze as he walked away from assaulting a policeman. There is just the video of Brown manhandling the store clerk and walking away with stolen merchandise minutes before Brown had his altercation with the cop. That was incriminating enough.


Hoping to reduce America’s “global footprint,” the administration has been shockingly passive in foreign affairs. Result: an ever more dangerous world.

In July, after Germany trounced Brazil 7–1 in the semifinal match of the World Cup—including a first-half stretch in which the Brazilian soccer squad gave up an astonishing five goals in 19 minutes—a sports commentator wrote: “This was not a team losing. It was a dream dying.” These words could equally describe what has become of Barack Obama’s foreign policy since his second inauguration. The president, according to the infatuated view of his political aides and media flatterers, was supposed to be playing o jogo bonito, the beautiful game—ending wars, pressing resets, pursuing pivots, and restoring America’s good name abroad.

Instead, he crumbled.

As I write, the foreign policy of the United States is in a state of unprecedented disarray. In some cases, failed policy has given way to an absence of policy. So it is in Libya, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and, at least until recently, Ukraine. In other cases the president has doubled down on failed policy—extending nuclear negotiations with Iran; announcing the full withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

Sometimes the administration has been the victim of events, such as Edward Snowden’s espionage, it made worse through bureaucratic fumbling and feckless administrative fixes. At other times the wounds have been self-inflicted: the espionage scandal in Germany (when it was learned that the United States had continued to spy on our ally despite prior revelations of the NSA’s eavesdropping on Chancellor Angela Merkel); the repeated declaration that “core al-Qaeda” was “on a path to defeat”; the prisoner swap with the Taliban that obtained Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl’s release.

Often the damage has been vivid, as in the collapse of the Israel–Palestinian talks in April followed by the war in Gaza. More frequently it can be heard in the whispered remarks of our allies. “The Polish-American alliance is worthless, even harmful, as it gives Poland a false sense of security,” Radek Sikorski, Poland’s foreign minister and once one of its most reliably pro-American politicians, was overheard saying in June. “It’s bullshit.”

This is far from an exhaustive list. But it’s one that, at last, people have begun to notice. Foreign policy, considered a political strength of the president in his first term, has become a liability. In June, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that Americans disapproved of his handling of foreign affairs by a 57-to-37 percent ratio. Overseas, dismay with Obama mounts. Among Germans, who greeted the future president as a near-messiah when he spoke in Berlin in the summer of 2008, his approval rating fell to 43 percent in late 2013, from 88 percent in 2010. In Egypt, another country the president went out of his way to woo, he has accomplished the unlikely feat of making himself more unpopular than George W. Bush. In Israel, political leaders and commentators from across the political spectrum are united in their disdain for the administration. “The Obama administration proved once again that it is the best friend of its enemies, and the biggest enemy of its friends,” the center-left Haaretz columnist Ari Shavit noted in late July. It’s an observation being echoed by policymakers from Tokyo to Taipei to Tallinn.

The Gaza War: Appearance vs. Reality by Louis René Beres

Why is Hamas putting its weapons in the middle of homes, schools, hospitals and mosques in the first place?

Palestinian violence has been persistent in violating all rules of engagement, despite the signed Oslo II Interim Agreement of 1995, Article XIV of which states that the West Bank and the Gaza Strip shall be completely demilitarized.

Now that the dust has begun to settle in Gaza after Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, it is again easy to feel sorry for the beleaguered Palestinians. As everyone knows who looks at The New York Times and CNN, the lingering images are incontestably painful, and continue to look “asymmetrical” and “disproportionate.”

How could Hamas have been the aggressor when so many more Arabs than Israelis were killed? Surely the side with greater civilian losses must always be in the right. How could it be otherwise?

The people of Gaza (together with those many Israelis still forced to live under terrorist rocket attacks) are indeed victims of regional violence. But their victimization was not caused by any outside enemy. On the contrary, Palestinian suffering remains the direct result of a criminal Hamas leadership. Why is Hamas putting its weapons in the middle of homes, schools, hospitals and mosques in the first place?

Moreover, this Palestinian leadership sits safely away from Gaza, either tucked away in Qatar or the comfortable parts of Europe. “Martyrdom” is always welcomed, as long as it is someone else’s.

Israeli soldiers inspect a concrete-reinforced tunnel that was dug by Hamas from Gaza to Israel, in preparation for a terror attack, August 3, 2014. (Image source: IDF)
Contrary to carefully scripted outbursts from Hamas, Israel’s defensive responses were never gratuitous or contrived. Unlike their adversaries, Israelis receive absolutely no joy from killing others. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and related terror groups operating from Gaza, on the contrary, always seem to take calculated steps to ensure that Israeli reprisals will kill or injure Palestinian noncombatants. By directing elderly women and young children to those areas in Gaza from which lethal rockets will intentionally be launched into Israeli homes, hospitals, and schools — with the knowledge that the Israelis will have to return fire to the places from which the fire originated — Palestinian leaders openly violate the most elementary restrictions of the laws of war. Under international law, holding civilians in front of one as a shield is specified as a crime.

Stop Giving Money to the U.N.’s Relief Agency for Palestinians by Alexander H. Joffe and Asaf Romirowsky

When Hamas fires its last rocket and Israel drops its last bomb, the extent of Gaza’s devastation will become clear. An early estimate is that some $5 billion will be necessary to rebuild residences and infrastructure destroyed in the recent conflict. The first step is to take United Nations Relief and Works Agency out of the equation.

UNRWA, the U.N.’s 65-year-old, internationally funded welfare organization for Palestinians, should be commended for providing much needed shelter and aid to displaced Gazans during the crisis. But given several revelations during the current conflict between Hamas and Israel, UNRWA should have no role in any negotiated arrangement regarding Gaza’s reconstruction.

On three occasions rockets were found in UNRWA schools, closed for the summer, and at least once they were returned to Hamas. On another occasion, the UNRWA accused Israel of targeting civilians sheltering in a school when in fact those deaths were caused by a Hamas rocket that fell short. And on another occasion it accused Israel of targeting a shelter and civilians when in reality terrorists outside the facility were hit and civilian bodies possibly planted at the scene.

UNRWA has condemned the rockets found in its schools, but it has not condemned Hamas’ firing rockets from in and around its facilities, or any other locations such as residential areas, hospital parking lots, and hotels. All these have now been documented, often reluctantly, by journalists who have left Gaza, who have also made it clear that they were subject to Hamas surveillance, harassment and intimidation. Instead, UNRWA and its spokesman Chris Gunness have tweeted accusations, voiced hollow defenses, and cried on television.

UNRWA’s many responsibilities should be transferred to the Palestinian Authority, as a means of strengthening the PA practically, politically, and in the eyes of Gaza’s residents. UNRWA employees should be made PA employees and international funds redirected to support its programs. This would be one of the timeliest means of rebuilding the PA in a region where it has been weakest, Gaza, and a way to begin the long overdue process of dismantling UNRWA.


There is a time in a nation’s history when a decision of immense and fundamental importance must be made. Such a decision means embarking on a new direction that alters everything that has gone before. It is a veritable crossing of the Rubicon. That decision now confronts embattled Israel.

A great alliance exists between two peoples who share principles of democracy, the rule of law, freedom of religion and speech, and human rights. That alliance and friendship between the American and Israeli people largely remains, exemplified by the support of Congress, despite the policies of the current administration.

Like the United States, Israel respects the rights of minorities. It has an independent judicial system, which protects the rights of individuals and operates under the principle of “innocent until proven guilty.” Israel, like America, features regularly scheduled elections that are free and fair and open to all its citizens, regardless of religion, race, or sex. What a contrast exists between it and the grim horrors and butchery endemic among the failed Islamic states that surround it.

But American voters elected Barack Hussein Obama as their president – not once, but twice. Tragically for both the Israeli and American people, this president has set his face against Israel and seems to embrace the very Islamic foes who plot the extermination of the Jewish state.

At the same time that Israel’s request for a shipment of hellfire missiles to replace those expended during the defensive struggle against Hamas has been denied, the requests of Israel’s Muslim and Arab enemies are speedily and unquestionably granted by Obama and the State Department.