Republican Scott Brown is closing the gap with Democratic incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire’s Senate race, according to a new poll, indicating that Republicans may be expanding the map of competitive Senate races this year.
On April 22, 2003, at the American Enterprise Institute, Washington Postcolumnist Charles Krauthammer remarked:
“Hans Blix had five months to find weapons. He found nothing. We’ve had five weeks. Come back to me in five months. If we haven’t found any, we will have a credibility problem.”
In response, the Crooked Timber blog declared April 22 “Krauthammer Day,” so that each year we could reflect on Krauthammer’s perspicacity and the powerful sense of accountability and stewardship that pervades America’s foreign-policy establishment.
In that spirit, I suggest we declare August 24 “Slaughter Day,” to commemorate former State Department director of policy planning Anne-Marie Slaughter’s August 24, 2011 Financial Times piece entitled “Why Libya Sceptics Were Proved Badly Wrong.” According to Slaughter, “the real choice in Libya was between temporary stability and the illusion of control, or fluidity and the ability to influence events driven by much larger forces.” Having chosen the latter, Slaughter said, it wasn’t too early to judge the Obama administration correct and the skeptics wrong.
“While the oil might be flowing, the country is a total mess.”
Slaughter’s account of the initial debate over the war includes several arguments: according to her, the advocates claimed Washington had a “strategic interest” in demonstrating to the under-thirty populations in the Middle East that we “live up to [our] values”; Washington needed to assert its belief that “effective leadership must come from the centre,” which is America; and the intervention emphasized U.S. relations with “social forces,” not just states, which was an overdue change.
I don’t remember those arguments featuring in the debate. The main skeptic argument was that even after the U.S.-led coalition regime-changed Qaddafi, stability, unity and liberalism were likely to be elusive. Stephen Walt surveyed the social-science literature on foreign-imposed regime change and judged,
“the probability that our intervention will yield a stable democracy is low, and … our decision to intervene has increased the likelihood of civil war. Heading off that possibility is likely to require a costly and extended international commitment, which is precisely what the people who launched this operation promised they would not do.”
Three years on, it’s worth a look at Libya and an effort to determine just how wrong the Libya skeptics were. So let’s start with the economy: According to Morgan Stanley, 2014 will see Libyan oil production above 25 percent of what it was under Qaddafi. Unemployment among youth ages 15-24 is 24 percent.
Keep in mind: the economy is the optimistic part of the picture. Politically, the country is riven by sectarian violence and instability. Bombs continued dropping this week in Tripoli. The good news is that Islamist militias seemed to be the target. The bad news is that neither the Libyan government, nor the United States knows who did the bombing. Assassinations of high-ranking officials are commonplace. The central government itself, whose writ doesn’t extend nearly across the country, is highly unstable. There have been six different prime ministers since Col Qaddafi was extrajudicially killed. (It’s tough to think of a guy much more deserving of such a fate, but one would think the deposed dictator being violently sodomized on the way to his assassination was a peculiar way to “live up to our values” in the eyes of foreigners.)
Roughly 250,000 men roam the country in nonstate militias. The U.S. embassy and United Nations have both recently closed down operations in the country and removed their missions. The country is awash in weaponry that is held by the full array of nonstate groups, as well as the central government. Economically, politically, militarily and socially, Libya is in chaos. This is precisely what skeptics warned about.
Beyond reflecting on Slaughter’s victory lap, it’s worth making a few other points. First, President Obama lied to Americans when he assured them that he was bombing Libya in pursuit of “a well-defined goal—specifically, the protection of civilians in Libya… Broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake.” (As skeptics noted at the time, regime change was always the goal.)
Obama and outside Libya war boosters did make good on their promise that the war wouldn’t produce a protracted, bloody U.S. struggle on behalf of liberalism in that fractious society. Instead, they overthrew Qaddafi and left. Slaughter doesn’t write about Libya anymore, focusing instead on how bombing Syria would get Vladimir Putin out of Ukraine and on the question whether women in America can “have it all.”
Closing her piece, Slaughter admitted:
“In a year, or a decade, Libya could disintegrate into tribal conflict or Islamist insurgency, or split apart or lurch from one strongman to another. But the question for those who opposed the intervention is whether any of those things is worse than Col Gaddafi staying on by increasingly brutal means for many more years.”
That is the question, I suppose, but it doesn’t seem like one Slaughter has much interest in thinking about. Say what you will about this whole spectacle, but don’t say that the skeptics didn’t warn you.Justin Logan is director of foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute.
Top U.S. military brass and former administration officials are publicly pressuring the White House to consider taking the fight against the Islamic State into Syria, warning that the terror organization poses an unprecedented threat to the United States.
Romney and Ryan met in Chicago on Thursday night for their first joint public appearance since their unsuccessful bid for the White House two years ago.
After dire warning of ISIS threat, will Obama ramp up military action or pursue criminal investigation?
The Jihadi Serial Killer No One’s Talking About
by Michelle Malkin
For two bloody months, an armed jihadist serial killer ran loose across the country. At least four innocent men died this spring and summer as acts of “vengeance” on behalf of aggrieved Muslims, the self-confessed murderer has now proclaimed. Have you heard about this horror? Probably not.
The usual suspects who decry hate crimes and gun violence haven’t uttered a peep. Why? Like O.J.’s glove: If the narrative don’t fit, you must acquit. The admitted killer will be cast as just another “lone wolf” whose familiar grievances and bloodthirsty Islamic invocations mean nothing.
I say: Enough with the whitewashing. Meet Ali Muhammad Brown. His homicidal Islamic terror spree took him from coast to coast. The 29-year-old career thug admitted to killing Leroy Henderson in Seattle in April; Ahmed Said and Dwone Anderson-Young in Seattle on June 1; and college student Brendan Tevlin, 19, in Essex County, New Jersey, on June 25. Tevlin was gunned down in his family Jeep on his way home from a friend’s house. Ballistics and other evidence linked all the victims to Muhammad Brown. Police apprehended him last month hiding in an encampment near the Watchung Mountains of West Orange, New Jersey.
While he was on the run, he disguised himself in a Muslim keffiyeh. He carried a notebook with jihadist scribblings and advice on evading detection. I obtained the latest charging documents filed in Washington state, which detail the defiant domestic terrorist’s motives.
READ THE CHARGING DOCUMENT HERE: 20140820145129074
Muhammad Brown told investigators that Tevlin’s slaying was a “just kill.” The devout Islamic adherent proclaimed: “My mission is vengeance. For the lives, millions of lives are lost every day.” Echoing jihadist Fort Hood mass killer Nidal Hasan, Muhammad Brown cited Muslim deaths in “Iraq, Syria, (and) Afghanistan” as the catalysts for his one-man Islamic terror campaign. “All these lives are taken every single day by America, by this government. So a life for a life.”
When a detective asked him to clarify whether all four murders were “done for vengeance for the actions of the United States in the Middle East,” Muhammad Brown stated unequivocally: “Yes.” He added that he was “just doing (his) small part.”
Seattle’s left-wing mayor, Ed Murray, rushed to issue a statement — which might as well have sported an insipid “Coexist” bumper sticker across the page — asserting that Muhammad Brown’s seething, deadly hatred did “not reflect the values of Muslims.” But the fact is Ali Muhammad Brown has plenty of company. Seattle alone has been a long-festering hotbed of anti-American, anti-Semitic jihadism.
In 2011, a Muslim terror ring led by Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif and Walli Mujahidh plotted “to kill officers and employees of the Department of Defense who worked at the (Military Entrance Processing Stations) located in the Federal Center South building in Seattle, Washington, and to kill other persons assisting such officers and employees in the performance of their duties” using “fully-automatic weapons pistols, and fragmentation grenades.”
In 2007, Seattle jihadist James Ujaama pleaded guilty to terrorism charges related to his plan to establish a terror-training ground in Bly, Oregon. He had previously pleaded guilty to aiding the Taliban.
In 2006, Everett, Washington Islamic revenge-seeker Naveed Haq shot six innocent women and killed one at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle building while spewing anti-Israel hatred and Muslim diatribes.
In 2002, James Ujaama’s mosque leader, Abdul Raheem Al Arshad Ali of the radical Dar-us-Salaam mosque in Seattle’s Central District, was first arrested on illegal weapons charges. He had provided arms to fellow Seattle-area Muslim cleric, Semi Osman. The ethnic Lebanese born in Sierra Leone had served in a naval reserve fueling unit based in Tacoma, Washington. Osman had access to fuel trucks similar to the type used by al-Qaida in the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers, which killed 19 U.S. airmen and wounded nearly 400 other Americans. Osman later pleaded guilty to illegal weapons possession.
Another militant Seattle jihadist, Muslim convert Ruben Shumpert (aka Amir Abdul Muhaimin) was arrested after an FBI raid in 2004 for his role in a terror-financing scheme. He skipped out on his sentencing hearing and turned up in Somalia, where he was killed fighting the U.S. military. Terror group al Shabaab hailed Muhaimin as a martyr.
Which brings us back to Ali Muhammad Brown, who had been arrested 10 years ago as part of Muhaimin’s suspected terror-financing ring. A decade later, despite being on the feds’ radar screen, four innocent men are dead at Muhammad Brown’s hand.
These homegrown Muslim haters don’t want to coexist. They want to kill and help fund and train other Islamic killers. They are living and working among us, embedded in local mosques and inside our military. Where are our political leaders? Making Kumbaya excuses, sitting on the sidelines and golfing while homegrown and global jihad burn.
Christopher A. Preble
As Americans see images of New Hampshire-born journalist James Foley beheaded by members of the extremist militant group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), some commentators insist that the current chaos is a direct result of President Obama’s reluctance to intervene decisively in the multi-year conflicts in Iraq and Syria. Most notably, Obama’s own former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, in an interview with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, suggested that Obama’s failure to aid the Syrian rebels led to the rise of ISIL.
Clinton claims “that the failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad … left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled.” Inherent in that statement is the belief that there was a cadre of relatively liberal-minded opponents of Bashar al-Assad’s regime inside of Syria, and that American support would have been the decisive factor in ensuring that they would triumph over both Assad and the ISIL extremists. By this logic, if the United States had chosen to arm the “correct” anti-Assad rebels in Syria, we would not now be bombing ISIL in Iraq.
“Beltway insiders continue to call for more intervention, dismiss evidence that might undermine their case, and condemn those who advocate prudence and restraint.”
Experts aren’t so sure. George Washington University Professor Marc Lynch concludes, ”Had the plan to arm Syria’s rebels been adopted back in 2012, the most likely scenario is that the war would still be raging and look much as it does today, except that the United States would be far more intimately and deeply involved.”
And who, exactly, we were supposed to arm was never clear. When former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford praised recent gains by Syrian moderates, he mentioned only one group by name: “the Army of Islam, led by an ambitious Islamist commander named Zahran Alloush.” But the University of Oklahoma’s Joshua Landis has shown that Alloush might not be so moderate after all.
The debate over what we should have done with the Syrian rebels back in 2012 also largely ignores the fact that the United States and its allies apparently did offer a good bit of training, resources, and weapons to purportedly moderate Syrian fighters who were vetted for their supposed democratic leanings.
But, somewhere along the line, the screening process failed. “Washington and its allies,” concludes Souad Mekhennet in The Washington Post, “empowered groups whose members had either begun with anti-American or anti-Western views or found themselves lured to those ideas in the process of fighting.”
“First I fought under what people call the ‘Free Syrian Army’ but then switched to [the Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group] Al Nusra. And I have already decided I will join the Islamic State when my wounds are healed,” one of these fighters explained. “Sometimes I joke around and say that I am a fighter made by America.”
This phenomenon of training people, and then later fighting them, isn’t new. And yet, the certainty of those who claim that early action to arm the Syrian rebels would have produced a better outcome reflects the interventionist bias so prevalent in Washington.
Even many on the political right, skeptical as they are of intervention to deal with most domestic problems, have a curious affinity for intervention when it comes to foreign ones. This a dramatic departure from the right’s intellectual forefathers who advised that “masterly inactivity” is often preferable to action for action’s sake. The same government that conservatives and libertarians don’t trust to deliver the mail or health care to the American people is somehow expected to flawlessly deliver liberty and prosperity around the world, including in places that have never known either.
To be sure, intervention might be warranted when the objective is less grandiose, and consistent with the properly narrow role of government: namely, to protect citizens against threats to their persons or property. Driving Al Qaeda from its safe haven in Taliban-held Afghanistan in October 2001 certainly qualifies. So, too, the targeted use of force that led to the killing of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan in May 2011. Both operations had broad public support because they delivered a tangible security benefit at relatively low cost.
But the burden of proof properly falls on the advocates of military intervention, especially when those interventions are likely to turn into costly and protracted wars, and when the benefits are murky, at best. The interventionists must first show that the threat is sufficiently grave that it warrants addressing in the first place. And then they must explain why and how the use of force is more likely to achieve their goals than alternative courses of action.
The advocates for U.S. military intervention have an additional hurdle to clear. Having shown that the threat merits attention, they must also show that it can not be handled by others, or by non-military means. As David Boaz explains in his seminal book, Libertarianism: A Primer, “War cannot be avoided at all costs, but it should be avoided wherever possible,” thus, “Proposals to involve the United States—or any government—in foreign conflict should be treated with great skepticism.”
Sadly, such skepticism is not much in evidence in Washington. Beltway insiders continue to call for more intervention, dismiss evidence that might undermine their case, and condemn those who advocate prudence and restraint. So long as the interventionists continue to dictate the conduct of U.S. foreign policy, we can be certain that we will remain embroiled in costly and counterproductive wars. And we will consistently miss opportunities to advance U.S. security through other means.Christopher Preble is vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute.
A Chinese jet fighter flew dangerously close to a U.S. Navy P-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft near Japan this week in an encounter that highlights China’s continued aggressiveness in the region.
The New York Times wonders if the libertarian moment has arrived. Unfortunately, there’ve been false starts before.
Ronald Reagan’s election seemed the harbinger of a new freedom wave. His rhetoric was great, but actual accomplishments lagged far behind.
So, too, with the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress. Admittedly, members of the GOP tend to toss around such phrases as individual liberty and limited government. However, their behavior in office looked little different from that of many Democrats.
Since then there’s been even less to celebrate in America, at least. George W. Bush was an avid proponent of “compassionate,” big government conservatism. Outlays rose faster than under his Democratic predecessor. No one did more to bail out business and enrich corporate America.
“What’s to be gained by “taking the lead” on climate change?”
Barack Obama continued the tradition, promoting corporate welfare, pushing through a massive “stimulus” bill for the bank accounts of federal contractors, and seizing control of what remained private in the health care system. About the only good news is that incipient federal bankruptcy has discouraged Congress from adopting other massive new spending programs.
Over the last half century members of both parties took a welfare state that was of modest size despite the excesses of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal and put it on a fiscally unsustainable basis as part of the misnamed “Great Society.” Economist Laurence Kotlikoff figures government’s total unfunded liability at around $220 trillion.
America’s annual GDP is just $17 trillion. How Uncle Sam will ever make good on all its promises is impossible to imagine.
The national government has done no better with international issues. Trillions went for misnamed “foreign aid” that subsidized collectivism and autocracy. Trade liberalization faces determined resistance, and often is blocked by countries which gain the greatest benefits of global commerce.
Even worse has been foreign policy. The ecstasy felt by most people after the collapse of the Berlin Wall — a quarter century ago — has been forgotten. The defense budget has turned into a new form of foreign aid for America’s populous and prosperous allies. The U.S. has been constantly at war, repeatedly proving that the Pentagon is no better at social engineering than is any other government agency.
Americans across the political spectrum agree that something is wrong, that the status quo is no good. But they disagree on the remedy.
However, the answer shouldn’t be that hard to discern. The definition of insanity, runs the old adage, is to keep doing the same thing while expecting different results.
Today government attempts to solve problems by doing ever more of whatever it already is doing.
The economy is slowing, people are falling behind economically, freedoms are being lost, and security fears are rising? No problem. Roll out the usual failed nostrums.
It is this reality, not new personalities or generations that is creating a libertarian moment.
The obvious, and only, alternative to more government, which has failed so badly, is less government. Lower tax rates and rationalize complex tax systems. Cut the wasteful looting and pillaging that is a hallmark of today’s transfer society.
The libertarian moment will not “arrive.” It will have to be brought forward by those committed to a better and freer AmericaDoug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan.
Iowa Workforce Development may have trouble managing money, but at least its management understands the importance of politeness.
Neel Kashkari is running a different kind of Republican campaign.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel issued a dire warning Thursday about the threat posed by the Islamic State terrorist group, saying the organization is "beyond anything that we've seen."
All the criticism about him playing golf and being at Martha’s Vineyard is kind of a code for his supposedly being unplugged from the job.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday defended the decision to formally acknowledge a failed mission to rescue American journalist James Foley and others held in Syria earlier this year, amid criticism from Republicans over the disclosure.
A nonpartisan government watchdog agency said Thursday that the Pentagon broke the law when it swapped five Taliban leaders for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl earlier this year.
The beheading of freelance journalist James Foley has forced a new debate between the longtime U.S. and British refusal to negotiate with terrorists, and Europe and the Persian Gulf's increasing willingness to pay ransoms in a desperate attempt to free citizens. The dilemma: How to save the lives of captives without financing terror groups and encouraging more kidnappings.