Free Markets, Free People

Foreign Affairs

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So here we go: Egypt at the abyss – military said to have Morsi under arrest

The old means of changing government is back.  The Egyptian military is reportedly staging a coup.

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is reportedly under house arrest after the military ultimatum expired Wednesday, reports Al Hayat TV.

Morsi’s spokesman denied the report, according to ABC News, but word of the house arrest provoked cheers in Tahrir Square.

This comes as Egypt’s military moved to tighten its control on key institutions before their afternoon ultimatum expired.

The military stationed officers in the newsroom of state television on the banks of the Nile River in central Cairo. Troops were deployed in news-production areas.

Officers from the army’s media department moved inside the newsroom and were monitoring output, though not yet interfering, staffers said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about the arrangements.

Apparently, this is the plan:

Under a plan leaked to state media, the military would install a new interim leadership, the Islamist-backed constitution suspended and the Islamist-dominated parliament dissolved.

And our position, as reported by ABC?

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama is urging Morsi to address the people’s grievances and the White House is also warning Egypt’s military that a coup could jeopardize relations with the United States.

*sigh*

Oh, and where in the world is John Kerry?

~McQ

Springtime in Egypt, or “how’s that ‘smart diplomacy’ working out for you?

You remember the US position when the supposed “Arab Spring” began in Egypt – Mubarak had to go and the Muslim Brotherhood was not a radical organization, but a benign one which had trasformed itself over the years.  And their candidate for president would bring democracy to an oppressed people and make Egypt an even better ally of the US.

Yeah, right.  If that passes for “smart diplomacy”, then I’d hate to see dumb diplomacy (although, in this context, “smart diplomacy” seems rather Orwellian, doesn’t it?).

So now where are we?  Well certainly nowhere near where we’d like to be.   And, in terms of the best interests of the US, Mubarak looks pretty good right now.  Meanwhile Obama and Anne Patterson, the US Ambassador to Egypt are about as popular in that country as Paula Deen at an NAACP convention.

The demonstrators maintain Morsi has become a power-hungry autocrat who is intent on making the Muslim Brotherhood Egypt’s permanent ruling party.

They also blame the Obama administration and U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson for propping up Morsi and facilitating the Muslim Brotherhood’s power grab.

“We are very critical of the Obama administration because they have been supporting the Brotherhood like no one has ever supported them,” Shadi Al Ghazali Harb, a 24-year-old member of Egypt’s Revolutionary Youth Coalition, told the Washington Free Beacon on Friday afternoon during a telephone interview from Cairo.

The White House is “the main supporter of the Brotherhood,” he said. “If it wasn’t for the American support this president would have fallen months ago.”

Al Ghazali Harb specifically dubbed Patterson “the first enemy of the revolution,” claiming “she is hated even more than Morsi.”

Activists hung pictures of Patterson with a red “X” drawn across her face at Egypt’s Defense Ministry during smaller protests Friday afternoon.

“She’s done a lot to harm our relations with the United States,” Al Ghazali Harb said.

Oh.  But … we’re the good guys, right?

Well it all depends on your perspective, doesn’t it?  Mubarak was bad but Morsi is worse and the coalition that opposed Mubarak now oppose Morsi.  But what they know without anyone having to have anyone spell it out is the US went to some lengths to back the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.  And now that faction has become as bad if not worse than what it replaced.

I don’t believe the opposition coalition is much better organized than it was when Egyptians were trying to oust Mubarak.  But there is no question, given the huge numbers of protesters, that they’re not happy with Morsi or the Brotherhood.

They’ve discovered what we were telling you from the beginning – the Muslim Brotherhood is a radical, Islamist organization with marked totalitarian tendencies.  That argument is over.  The debate now is whether or not they can hold onto power in Egypt.  If I were a betting man, I’d be taking the protesters and give points.

Meanwhile, our rudderless foreign policy boat continues to drift without direction with Swiftboat Kerry and Lead From The Rear Admiral Obama at the helm.

~McQ

The epic decline of American influence and power

And it has primarily happened under this administration as Bret Stephens outlines in his Wall Street Journal piece.  The Snowden chase has been most instructive in how little influence American now has.  When your naive foreign policy is to have other countries “like” you instead of understanding the respect is currency you should be dealing in (and also understanding how you earn that), then the results are predictable:

At this writing, Edward J. Snowden, the fugitive National Security Agency contractor indicted on espionage charges, is in Moscow, where Vladimir Putin’s spokesman insists his government is powerless to detain him. “We have nothing to do with this story,” says Dmitri Peskov. “I don’t approve or disapprove plane tickets.”

Funny how Mr. Putin always seems to discover his inner civil libertarian when it’s an opportunity to humiliate the United States. When the Russian government wants someone off Russian soil, it either removes him from it or puts him under it. Just ask investor Bill Browder, who was declared persona non grata when he tried to land in Moscow in November 2005. Or think of Mr. Browder’s lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, murdered by Russian prison officials four years later.

Mr. Snowden arrived in Moscow from Hong Kong, where local officials refused a U.S. arrest request, supposedly on grounds it “did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law.” That’s funny, too, since Mr. Snowden had been staying in a Chinese government safe house before Beijing gave the order to ignore the U.S. request and let him go.

“The Hong Kong government didn’t have much of a role,” Albert Ho, a Hong Kong legislator, told Reuters. “Its role was to receive instructions to not stop him at the airport.”

Oh … so those freedom loving countries couldn’t do anything?  Both just ignored us.  That’s right, because they knew what?  There’d be no reprisal nor would they suffer any harm for ignoring us.  In fact, today it was decided that ignoring the US would have no lasting or negative effect on US-Chinese relationships.  In fact, China shot back:

China rebuked the United States on Tuesday for accusing it of facilitating the flight of fugitive U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden, and said suggestions that it had done so were “baseless and unacceptable”.

Oh, what the heck.  We all know a toothless tiger when we see one and the US is perceived as such right now.  Don’t believe it?  Look at how well our new SecState “negotiated” our position in Afghanistan:

Merely to get the Taliban to the table for a bogus peace process, the administration agreed at Pakistan’s urging to let Mullah Omar come to the table on his owns terms: no acceptance of the Afghan Constitution, no cease-fire with international forces, not even a formal pledge to never again allow Afghanistan to become a haven for international terrorism. The U.S. also agreed, according to Pakistani sources, to allow the terrorist Haqqani network—whose exploits include the 2011 siege of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul—a seat at the table.

Yet having legitimized Haqqani and given the Taliban everything it wanted in exchange for nothing, the U.S. finds itself being dumped by its own client government in Kabul, which can always turn to Iran as a substitute patron. Incredible: no peace, no peace process, no ally, no leverage and no moral standing, all in a single stroke. John Kerry is off to quite a start.

Stunning.  Not surprising, given the cast of characters, but stunning in its demonstration of the level of incompetence this administration demonstrates daily.

And Russia – they’re so unimpressed with this administration that they’ve redefined “reset” to mean they can pretty openly cheat on the 1987 missile accord and fear no consequences.  That while the Taliban, after getting all they wanted from Kerry, then turned around and attacked the Afghan presidential palace in a brazen attack.  Obviously they fear no meaningful consequences for that either.

Oh, yeah, they’re on top of it all aren’t they?

So sure, after doing such a great job in the areas mentioned, and don’t forget Libya and Egypt, by the way, this disastrous crew want to involve us in Syria?

No thanks.

~McQ

Remembering the promises, looking at reality

You remember the grand promises a certain candidate made in 2008.  And in the area of foreign policy he told us how huge a mess it was and how he was going to clean it up and how the world would love us again.  He was going to “reset” relations with Russia and get us out of all these wars.  Oh, and of course, solve the problems in the Middle East.

Yeah, that was then and this is reality:

The [Middle East] is unraveling and American policy is in deep disarray. Our strategic options are getting worse, and the stakes are getting higher. When former President Bill Clinton is warning that his successor risks looking “lame” or like a “wuss” or a “total fool,” it’s a safe bet that the Kremlin and Tehran aren’t impressed by White House statements. Meanwhile the Obama administration seems to be locked into a sterile, short-term policy approach driven by domestic considerations; it is following the path of least resistance to a place that in the end will please no one and is increasingly likely to lead to strategic disaster.

An insightful article by the Democratic-leaning Bloomberg columnist Jeffrey Goldberg offers a deeply unsettling view of a Syria foreign policy process gone off the rails. If Goldberg has the story right—and he usually does—Secretary Kerry and the bulk of the White House security team want the President to authorize a no-fly zone and other strong measures in Syria, in part because they fear that American dithering in Syria is empowering the hardliners in Tehran and that by avoiding a small war in Syria now the White House risks a much uglier confrontation with Iran not all that far in the future. But the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs wants nothing to do with it, pointing to the difficulties and costs of the military mission.

And rightfully so.  It has also really “reset” relations with Russia … to the Cold War era.  Well done, Mr. President.   But that’s not the real problem is it?  It is how we got in this mess in the first place: Amateur Hour at the White House:

As Goldberg tells it, the biggest problem for the administration is that its early aggressive, poorly judged rhetoric that Assad “must” go now makes it impossible to avoid Obama’s looking like an irresolute bluffer if the Butcher stays put. This is the conclusion, anyway, that both Russia and Iran will draw, and they will respond by pushing the US along other fronts as well.

This is an entirely self-created problem; there was absolutely no objective reason for the administration to lay those markers on the table. There was no requirement in America’s foreign policy that the administration bounce in with the categorical demand that Assad step down.

That is absolutely correct.  But as is mentioned further on it was fighting for re-election and didn’t what there to be a wimp factor.  As usual, politics trumped what was best for the nation.

So in every real way, this administration has lived up to few if any of it’s grand promises of 2008.  In fact, if truth be told, the honeymoon is over with Europe.  The proof, as they say, is in the turnout:

When John F. Kennedy delivered his “Ich Bin Ein Berliner” speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate on June 26, 1963, 450,000 people flocked to hear him. Fifty years later a far more subdued invitation-only crowd of 4,500 showed up to hear Barack Obama speak at the same location in Berlin. As The National Journal noted, “he didn’t come away with much, winning just a smattering of applause from a crowd that was one-hundredth the size of JFK’s,” and far smaller than the 200,000 boisterous Germans who had listened to his 2008 address as a presidential candidate.

As for the Middle East … well there’s no love lost there either.  This administration has fumbled everything to do with the region during it’s tenure and has no one to blame but themselves. They’ve totally and without any help, managed to bottom out our image in the area in the same way they’ve bottomed out the economy.  If this guy isn’t the worst president with the worst team we’ve ever had inflicted on us … twice … then I don’t know who might be.   And don’t even get me started on the “leadership” in Congress – from both parties.  They’re absolutely the worst yet.  That may come as small consolation to the administration, but the combination of the two is killing us.

~McQ

And you wonder why we’re getting involved in Syria?

Really?

A growing number of Americans believe that senior White House officials ordered the Internal Revenue Service to target conservative political groups, according to a new national poll.

And a CNN/ORC International survey released Tuesday morning also indicates that a majority of the public says the controversy, which involves increased IRS scrutiny of tea party and other conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, is very important to the nation.

Look, Obama’s legacy is important to Democrats because it may mean victory or defeat for the next Democratic presidential candidate.   And like it or not, a scandal plagued 2nd term isn’t going to help his legacy or the Democrat’s next chosen presidential candidate.  In fact, one of the reasons Obama is in the White House now is the successful negative portrayal of the Bush years by the left and the press.

In the case of Obama, the press and done it’s best to dampen the reach of the scandals, but it is, for once, failing in it’s endeavor.  The scandals are too wide ranging and hit too close to home to fears the citizenry has held concerning government’s abuse of power.  And make no mistake, these scandals are all about abusing power.

Last month only 37% of the public thought that the IRS controversy led to the White House, with 55% saying that agency officials acted on their own without direct orders from Washington. Now the number who say the White House directed that IRS program has increased 10 points, to 47%, virtually the same as the 49% who believe the IRS agents acted on their own.

“Younger Americans are much less likely than older Americans to believe in White House involvement, and there is, not surprisingly, a partisan divide as well,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “But the Obama administration may be losing independents on this matter. In May, only 36% felt the White House ordered the IRS to target conservative groups; now that number has crossed the 50% threshold.”

Of course naive youngsters who really haven’t been around for or paid attention to scandals of the past, certainly might want to believe their idol, Barack Obama, is involved in this.  But you can see as well as I can, as more and more info comes out, that minds are changing.  This is a serious shot at the Obama legacy.  Or at least that’s what 51% of Americans are saying:

Fifty-one percent of those questioned said the IRS controversy is a very important issue to the nation, compared to 55% who felt that way in May. In the past week and a half, the IRS story has been put a bit on the backburner, as the controversy over the federal government’s massive surveillance program has dominated the spotlight.

Ironic, no?  The 4% drop I mean.  It has dropped as a “very important issue to the nation” because another scandal has popped up.

So what’s the Obama playbook say you do when it goes from bad to worse?

Distract.

Hello Syria ….

~McQ

Syria – so now what?

Our local Noble Peace Prize winner has put himself in quite a quandary, hasn’t he? He’s decided that since he thinks Syria has used chemical weapons, it is our business to intrude on what is essentially a civil war, and give arms to an opposition whose makeup includes Islamic terrorist groups. Because, you know, some “bright line” has been crossed … or we think has been crossed, and according to R2P (apparently) we have to “P” or something (I guess the horrific numbers of death just weren’t enough to invoke that until chemical weapons, huh?).

Of course an obvious possibility in this case, since the Syrian government thinks that it is being punished for the use of chemical weapons, is they’ll now say “screw it” and use them liberally. I mean, why wouldn’t they? Even if they haven’t used them, there’s no “up” side anymore for them not using them now is there? World condemnation? We’ll we’re in the middle of manufacturing that right now, aren’t we?

Meanwhile you might remember that we “reset” relations with Russia because that darn Bush administration had screwed them up so royally.

Russia, a veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council, will not permit no-fly zones to be imposed over Syria, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Monday.

“I think we fundamentally will not allow this scenario,” Lukashevich told a news briefing, adding that calls for a no-fly zone showed disrespect for international law.

Oh. Wait. Didn’t they tell us if a Republican was elected we’d see relations with Russia head back toward the Cold War era (btw, what Russia is alluding to is hurrying the deployment of the advanced S-300 missile system if we persist in this nonsense)?

Syria is a “no-win” situation for us if we intervene. Most of the intel I read says the opposition is riddled with Islamic extremists and Islamic extremist groups. Is it wise to arm such people? Well, a sane person would say “no”. A sane person would also stay the heck out of interfering in Syria.

But there are scandals to be dampened and distractions to be made. Because, you know, the Chosen One’s rep is much more important that a sane foreign policy or the lives of our military members.

~McQ

What would it take to get us off our rear ends in this country?

I assume you’re aware of the riots in Turkey.  The people of Turkey, or at least a unhappy group of them, are making themselves and their feelings known in a very direct way.  According to the WSJ, it began over a park in Istanbul that was going to be replaced by a housing development and shopping center (since the Turkish government controls the media, this “cause” could be as flaky as the anti-Islamic video causing Benghazi).  The natives, or at least some of them, are not happy about that.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is not happy about the situation either.  Why, how dare these people question his government and its motives. They’re pure as the driven snow:

“If you can call someone who is a servant of the country a dictator, then it leaves me speechless,” he said in a televised speech. “I have no aim other than serving the nation.”

The siren song of every dictator I’ve ever heard of or read about.  My guess he borrowed the words from Mr. Assad in Syria, who, may have gotten them from Saddam Hussein, who … well you get the picture.  And add a little “Bolivarian revolution” to the statement and the dead but unlamented Hugo Chavez or his mentor Fidel Castro could have said them.

Perhaps the most interesting statement, however, came from someone in the street:

People are angry because the government is interfering in everything, be it the alcohol restriction, building of the third bridge, or the new Taksim Square. Everything has piled up, and that’s why people protest,” said Erdal Bozyayla, a 29-year-old restaurant worker who supported the protesters and condemned the violence.

I’d like to believe that’s the real sentiment behind those riots and protests.  It may not be.  But it got me to thinking what it would take in this country for people to actually take that sort of direct action (and no I’m not condoning or calling for violence … direct action doesn’t have to be violent – witness the civil rights movement).  Oh, sure, we’ve had the “Tea Party” rallies and the like, but what is happening in Turkey is obviously much different than that.  And if they sentiment expressed is the true cause, why is it that a country like Turkey, with only a short history of freedom (now under concentraged attack by the latest “servant of the country”) apparently have the gumption to say “enough”, when we simply roll over each time another of our freedoms is taken or pared down.

Now, I recognize there could be all sorts of other factions, to include extremist Islamist factions who don’t think Erdogan is moving far or fast enough, could now be trying to co-opt the protests and turn them into something else.  But still, was the spark really “the government is interfering in everything” and if so, when, if ever, will that spark be struck here?

~McQ

Don’t expect to see something like this in the MSM anytime soon

It’s just an inconvenient truth that they don’t want anyone to be aware of at the moment – i.e. you are your own best self-defense and you should be equipped to handle that responsibility.  This happened last year.  Did you hear about it?  The MSM is invested on the side which says “guns are bad”:

A citizen with a gun stopped a knife wielding man as he began stabbing people Thursday evening at the downtown Salt Lake City Smith’s store.

Police say the suspect purchased a knife inside the store and then turned it into a weapon. Smith’s employee Dorothy Espinoza says, “He pulled it out and stood outside the Smiths in the foyer. And just started stabbing people and yelling you killed my people. You killed my people.”

Espinoza says, the knife wielding man seriously injured two people. “There is blood all over. One got stabbed in the stomach and got stabbed in the head and held his hands and got stabbed all over the arms.”

Then, before the suspect could find another victim – a citizen with a gun stopped the madness. “A guy pulled gun on him and told him to drop his weapon or he would shoot him. So, he dropped his weapon and the people from Smith’s grabbed him.”

Whoa, that can’t be right can it?  Guns kill people.  Guns are dangerous.  Guns should be banned.  Guns are terrible.

Anyone want to guess what those who were threatened and stabbed in this particular instance might say about the gun wielding man?

Maybe, “thank you?”

Oh:

By the time officers arrived the suspect had been subdued by employees and shoppers. Police had high praise for gun carrying man who ended the hysteria. Lt. Brian Purvis said, “This was a volatile situation that could have gotten worse. We can only assume from what we saw it could have gotten worse. He was definitely in the right place at the right time.”

Key phrase: “By the time officers arrived …”  It could have ended with “the man had stabbed a dozen people” or “had killed 3″ or, well, any of a number of much worse endings huh?

But, you know, you can’t be trusted with guns.

~McQ

North Korean threats continue to escalate

Apparently Marshall Poppin Fresh is still mouthing off about war. Now his state run media has issued a warning to “foreigners” in South Korea:

North Korea issued its latest dispatch of ominous rhetoric on Tuesday, telling foreigners in South Korea they should take steps to secure shelter or evacuation to protect themselves.

The unnerving message, announced by state-run media, follows a warning from the North last week to diplomats in

its capital city, Pyongyang, that if war were to break out, it would not be able to guarantee their safety.

North Korea has unleashed a torrent of dramatic threats against the United States and South Korea in recent weeks, but many analysts have cautioned that much of what it is saying is bluster.

It appears what we’re likely to see is some missile tests in lieu of “war”. Why? Well the WSJ says:

While a missile launch would be seen as a major provocation, South Korean and U.S. officials have repeatedly said there are no signs that North Korea is preparing for any kind of attack. Instead, a missile test and possibly a new nuclear test by the North are seen as efforts to keep tensions high, hone the isolated state’s weapons technology and send an internal message of military strength.

Trust me, we have the means to know and we certainly know what “war prep” would look like. Massive mobilization

and extensive troop movements would be easily spotted. Apparently none of that is happening.

In fact, we may find war to be less of a threat the more belicose they are, if you want to believe the experts and the NORK record:

Experts and officials say that while the current period of harsh language and provocative behavior still carries a risk of accidentally spilling into military confrontation, North Korea’s record shows it poses more of a threat when it is not making warlike statements.

“I worry more about North Korea when they are not rattling the saber,” said Scott Snyder, an expert on North and South Korea at the Council on Foreign Relations, a U.S. think tank.

Acts of aggression from North Korea, experts note, are almost always surprise attacks designed to cower South Korean administrations that have taken a tough line with the North or that aren’t providing sufficient aid.

Note the last phrase. In fact, all of this may be North Korea simply establishing a bargaining position.

We’ll see.

~McQ

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