BRUCE THORNTON: OUR CONTRARY PRESIDENT Remember the “contrary” Sioux warrior from Little Big Man? He did everything backwards––said “hello” for “goodbye,” washed in sand instead of water. Our president is the foreign policy contrary. He has gotten backwards every maxim of proven wisdom for dealing with the rest of the world. Teddy Roosevelt counseled, “Speak softly and carry a big […]

WHAT’S WRONG WITH GOING INTO SYRIA? ROBERT SPENCER American military intervention in Syria is likely to begin this week, and one thing we know amid the general confusion is that the objective is not to oust Bashar Assad: White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday: “I want to make clear that the options that we are considering are not about regime change. […]

HERBERT LONDON: A GLOBAL SURVEY AND US DECLINE The road to the future has been set by the Obama administration. According to a recent global survey of more than 38,000 people in 39 countries, more people see China as eventually surpassing or already having surpassed the U.S. as the world’s leading superpower, notwithstanding the fact that many more people hold a favorable […]

JONAH GOLDBERG: THE REAL MESSAGE OF MLK- A COLORBLIND SOCIETY Amid the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, one complaint became almost a refrain: What about economic justice? After all, the official title of the event was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The line “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live […]


President Barack Obama’s most telling act on the international stage may have come in a meeting in early 2012 in Seoul, South Korea, with Russia’s seat-warming president, Dmitri Medvedev.

Before the two got up to leave, President Obama asked — in an exchange caught on an open mic — that Moscow cut him some slack. “This is my last election,” Obama explained. “After my election I have more flexibility.” Medvedev promised to “transmit this information to Vladimir,” referring, of course, to the power behind the throne, Vladimir Putin.

When he received the message, Putin must have chortled at the heartbreaking naïveté of it. Here was the leader of the free world pleading for more time to get along with his Russian friends on the basis of an utterly risible assumption of good will. Here was a believer in the policy of “reset” who still didn’t get that the reset was going nowhere. Here was weakness compounded by delusion.

Putin didn’t care about Obama’s flexibility or inflexibility so much as any opportunity to thwart the United States. Obama said that Syrian president Bashar Assad had to go; Putin worked to make sure he stayed. Obama said that National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden had to return to the United States; Putin granted him asylum. When a few weeks ago Putin related to a group of Russian students that he had told Snowden to stop doing damage to the United States, the students did the only thing appropriate upon hearing such a patently insincere claim — they laughed out loud.


MY EAGLE EYED E-PAL SOL S. ON BARBARA TUCHMAN—–“….. to Vietnam wherein she accepts every stupid false cliché of the time.

May 1984

Tuchman’s folly by Paul Johnson

A review of The March of Folly by Barbara W. Tuchman.

In The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam,[1] Barbara Tuchman discusses in detail four totally different and widely separated instances in which, she argues, foolish leadership produced disaster: the Trojan acceptance of the Trojan Horse, the handling of Protestantism by the papacy in the early sixteenth century, English policy during the American Revolution, and America’s conduct in Vietnam. These four instances are enveloped in a more general theoretical treatment of the role of folly in history. Thus, there are five areas in which to test the validity of the book. What I propose to do here is to examine only one of them in detail: the Vietnam experience, which (I imagine) provided Mrs. Tuchman with her chief motive in producing this work.

My old tutor A. J. P. Taylor used to say that the only lesson of history is that there are no lessons of history. If he believed that literally he would not, I think, have spent a lifetime writing and teaching history, for the object of studying history is not merely to discover what happened but to learn something about the nature of human societies, obviously with a view toward safeguarding or improving our own. To that extent I am with Mrs. Tuchman. Taylor’s real point, however, was the intrinsic difficulty of discovering true lessons and the obvious risks of applying false ones. Thus, Anthony Eden came to grief over Suez in 1956 because he applied a lesson—concerning the dangers of appeasement—wrenched out of its true historical and geographical context. Mankind is on a voyage from an irrecoverable past into an unknown future. All historical situations are unique and unrepeatable; they are usually complex too, and the more closely they are observed, the less easy does it appear to draw thumping great conclusions from them which can be applied elsewhere.

Mrs. Tuchman’s examination of American policy in Vietnam inclines one to endorse Taylor’s scepticism. It follows the conventional, not to say threadbare, lines which the liberal media developed in the 1970s: that American involvement in Vietnam was, ab initio, an error which compounded itself as it increased and was certain to fail all along. She thereby falls into a trap which a historian who seeks to draw lessons from the past should be particularly careful to avoid: to assume that what in the end did happen, had to happen. The inevitability of failure in Vietnam is a bad starting point from which to begin an analysis. It presupposes the same kind of determinism which infests Marxist history and which invalidates it as an objective re-creation of the past. Mrs. Tuchman appears to believe that the Marxist form of nationalism pursued by Ho Chi Minh and his associates was bound to triumph, that it was in some metaphysical sense an irresistible force. This seems to me a dangerous posture for a historian to adopt in general, and especially in this case, since she has considered only half the evidence. We do not know what happened on the other side of the hill, or how close Ho Chi Minh’s enterprise came to failure, as did similar ones in Malaysia and Burma. The sources are simply not available. The Allied expedition to the Dardanelles in 1915 seemed, immediately after it was abandoned, a foredoomed failure, “inevitable”; when the Turkish sources eventually became available, they suggested it might well have succeeded, if persisted in a little longer.

Syria: Decisions, Decisions… by Gerald A. Honigman There’s increasing talk these days about American and other Western military action aimed against the Assad regime in Syria. It appears the latter used some of its enormous stockpile of weapons of mass destruction (poison gas, that is–you know, what Iraq’s Saddam also had, used, murdered many folks with, transferred to Syria, and […]


“You will need to continue to ensure the security of key government leaders and events of national significance,” she continued. “…You will also have to prepare for the increasing likelihood of more weather-related events of a more severe nature as a result of climate change and continue to build the capacity to respond to potential disasters in far-flung regions of the country that could occur at the same time.” (HUH????RSK)

In her farewell speech at the National Press Club in Washington today, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the “key to success” during her four and a half years leading the DHS has been shaping a department that’s “flexible and agile.”

“Being flexible and agile means acknowledging that we may not be able to stop all threats all the time, but we can and must be prepared to address them quickly when they happen, minimize their consequences, draw pragmatic lessons and emerge stronger and better,” she said. “These are the most critical elements of our ability to meet our complex mission. And I believe we are seeing that approach bear fruit in a profound, positive way.”

Napolitano is leaving the department to head the University of California without a successor in place.

She hailed her “see something, say something” program, which D.C. commuters are periodically reminded of in a booming Napolitano voice ringing across the Metro platforms. The secretary said she expanded the campaign “to more than 250 states, cities, transportation systems, universities and private sector entities nationwide to encourage the public to play an active role in reporting suspicious activity.”

ROGER KIMBALL: ANNALS OF INTOLERANCE-TULANE EDITION When it comes to Hobbits and the rest of J.R.R. Tolkein’s bestiary, I am pretty much at one with the critic Edmund Wilson. In “Oo, Those Awful Orcs!,” Wilson expressed astonishment, and not a little distaste, at the wild popularity of Tolkien’s kiddie books. “Juvenile trash,” I recall, was one phrase he employed about […]


WELCOME TO ISLAM: 82-Year-Old Saudi Languishing in Prison, Waiting to Be Blinded:

An 82-year-old Saudi man has been in prison for nearly seven years awaiting a court sentence to blind him after he was convicted of causing blindness to another man during a fight. The old man could be saved if pardoned by the victim.

During the fight in the southern Saudi town of Bisha, Wahair Al Harthi shot his adversary in the face, causing him to lose sight in both eyes.

The court found him guilty and ordered him to be “blinded” on tooth-for-tooth basis under Islamic law unless the victim accepts …

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Fourteen More People Killed by Boko Haram

Fourteen More People Killed by Boko Haram:

Members of Boko Haram have killed 14 pro-government youths an attack on the northeastern town of Bama, a local official who attended a mass funeral for the victims said on Monday.

Sunday’s attack was one of a spate of deadly assaults by the Boko Haram Islamist sect this month that raises doubts about whether a military offensive against it since May can succeed.

Local vigilante groups run by youth volunteers have been instrumental in helping the military capture Boko Haram members, but they have also made them a target for the insurgents, drawing civilians further into …

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New Book Details Gaddafi’s Sexual Abuse of Boys and Girls

New Book Details Gaddafi’s Sexual Abuse of Boys and Girls:

Colonel Gaddafi ordered the kidnap of schoolgirls who were then kept as sex slaves at compound, according to a book on the dictator.

One girl, named Soraya, was kidnapped when she was 15 and held for five years in a basement at his six-mile long fortress just outside Tripoli.

She says she was violently raped, beaten and abused on an almost daily basis and saw similar abuse of other girls and boys.

Her story and those of others who say they were raped by the despot are told in the book Gaddafi’s Harem: The …

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Assad: A Vietnam Scenario Awaits the U.S in Syria

Assad: A Vietnam Scenario Awaits the U.S in Syria:

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad warned the United States on Monday, saying Washington will have to deal with another Vietnam scenario if it chooses to militarily intervene in the conflict-ravaged country after allegations that his regime has used chemical weapons in a Damascus suburb attack last week.

“Failure awaits the United States as in all previous wars it has unleashed, starting with Vietnam and up to the present day,” Reuters quoted Assad as saying in an interview published in a Russian newspaper on Monday.

While denying that the Syrian forces have used chemical weapons in …

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Saudi Decapitates Wife, Kills His Four Young Children

Saudi Decapitates Wife, Kills His Four Young Children:

A Saudi man used a knife to cut off his wife’s head before slitting the throats of his four children, aged between two and 11 years, in the most heinous crime in his area. He also had a son from a previous marriage who he killed at the same time.

Police said the woman and her children were brought dead to hospital in the southern province of Najran on Monday night after the husband severed her head and slit the throats of his three sons and one daughter.

The boys are aged between five and …

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In Tatters: Egypt’s Militants Seek Truce with Army

In Tatters: Egypt’s Militants Seek Truce with Army:

Two Egyptian militant groups have proposed a truce between the military and the ousted president’s Muslim Brotherhood group, in a move that highlights the extent to which Islamists have been weakened by a massive security crackdown.

The leaders of the Gamaa Islamiya and Islamic Jihad movements said Monday their initiative calls for supporters of former President Mohammed Morsi to cease street demonstrations if the military-backed government halts their moves against them.

The two groups, which waged an insurgency against the government in the 1990s but later renounced violence, want the army and Brotherhood to enter …

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Melbourne, Australia: Mosque Approved to be Built Next to Assyrian Christian Church

Melbourne, Australia: Mosque Approved to be Built Next to Assyrian Christian Church:

Residents have accused a north Melbourne Council of being insensitive and inflammatory after approving a permit for a mosque to be built next to an Assyrian Church.

Members of St Mary’s Ancient Church of the East in Coolaroo say a mosque in such close proximity to their church will result in re-triggered trauma and a volatile worshiping environment.

They say their church community is made up of refugees who survived persecution as religious minorities in war torn Iraq.

Australian Christians Senate candidate Vicki Janson says the Council hasn’t considered the mental health …

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American Pastor’s Appeal Rejected by Iranian Court

American Pastor’s Appeal Rejected by Iranian Court

An Iranian court has rejected an appeal by an American pastor to reduce his eight-year prison sentence, a human-rights group representing his family in the U.S. said Monday.

The decision by a two-judge panel on the Tehran Court of Appeals came Sunday, but the panel refused to provide Saeed Abedini’s lawyer with a copy of the ruling, the Idaho Statesman reported.

Abedini is of Iranian origin and had lived in Boise with his family since 2006. He has been jailed in Iran since last September on charges that he attempted to undermine state security by creating …

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Latest Syria: Kerry Accused of Fabricating Evidence/ Investigation Suggests ‘Rebels’ Used Chemical Weapons

Latest Syria: Kerry Accused of Fabricating Evidence/ Investigation Suggests ‘Rebels’ Used Chemical Weapons:

Testimony from victims strongly suggests it was the rebels, not the Syrian government, that used Sarin nerve gas during a recent incident in the revolution-wracked nation, a senior U.N. diplomat said Monday.

Carla del Ponte, a member of the U.N. Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, told Swiss TV there were “strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof,” that rebels seeking to oust Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad had used the nerve agent.

But she said her panel had not yet seen any evidence of Syrian government forces using …

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