Archives for category: Diplomacy

As the war in Ukraine continues, muddied by the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipeline in the Baltic Sea, it is startling how few people mention — much less sound the alarm about — a possible thermonuclear war. Why isn’t this the number one topic of conversation?

The United States has pitted itself against Russia, an old enemy with a large nuclear arsenal, and Vladimir Putin, its tyrant, has point blank stated that he will use nukes if Russian territory is attacked.

While this might seem a moment for diplomacy, that’s not what I’m hearing.

What I am hearing is that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services “is buying $290 million worth of anti-radiation sickness drugs as part of its ‘long-standing, ongoing efforts to be better prepared to save lives following radiological and nuclear emergencies.’”

Nicely worded . . . to discourage panic.

But we would have to be morons not to wonder whether some parts of government are perceiving an increasingly likely outcome of policies initiated by other parts of government.

I bring up the notion that government isn’t the unitary thing we often, for convenience, pretend it is. But we know that bureaus and personnel have distinct points of view and gameplans. Indeed, it would be no shock to learn — years hence, if years we have — that the current antagonism is not the result of a concerted, department-crossing plan at State. The fact that expanding NATO was pushed for years, in different administrations, over the warnings of a few Cassandras, and despite the threats of Putin himself.

Meanwhile, HHS is stocking up on over a quarter of a billion bucks’ worth of anti-radiation drugs.

And we’re left here on the sidelines, wondering.

For now.


The embargo, according to Florida’s senior senator to the United States.

Senator Marco Rubio, of Florida, explains the United States’ embargo on Cuba in a clear and enlightening way. I am as old as the Cuban regime, and I have never heard it explained like this. I am impressed:

This clip is from Fox News on YouTube:

Last week, Russia recalled its U.S. ambassador. Why? The Biden administration had just put up sanctions against Russia in retaliation for the poisoning of jailed dissident Alexei Navalny. But the larger context is the Democrats’ use of Russia as its poster boy for Evil throughout the Trump period, with Biden carrying on the carping, saying that Russian strongman Vladimir Putin would “pay a price” for interfering in American elections.

But there was insult as well as threatened injury. Egged on by ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos, Biden also called Putin “a killer.”

Putin’s response? “‘I would say to him: “Be well,” I wish him good health. I say that without any irony, without jokes.”

However darkly you want to interpret that, Putin also challenged Biden to a live, public debate — and that is darkly hilarious.

Unheard of in diplomacy — but apt for the current age?

It won’t happen, of course, for Putin is in command of his faculties, while Biden is not. Besides, Putin might speak some unpleasant truths that we try not to think about.

Like: killers abound.

“You know, I remember, in childhood, when we were arguing with each other in the courtyard, we would say, ‘I know you are, but what am I,’” ABC News quotes Putin, who insisted that this taunt is “not just a childish saying. There is a very deep meaning in that.”

Was Trump’s habit of saying nice things about dictators really so bad?


President of RedEye

I am very curious what “deal” the Trump team will offer to North Korea — or what the team will negotiate Kim’s emissaries into bringing back to the dictator.

Aren’t you?

I’m hoping that John Bolton was taken on not as a real plotter of foreign policy, but as a threat, to get better terms. Bolton’s idea to apply the “Libya plan” to North Korea seems sheer idiocy to me . . . on the face of it.

Why? Well, Dictator Kim wants to survive. If he gives up on all attempts to obtain (and threaten to deploy) nuclear weapons, he would eventually go the way of Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Gaddafi: killed by the United States military or by U.S.-backed forces.

Kim would be crazy to take the deal. Lunatic. MAD. If Bolton is pushing it earnestly, he’s an idiot. But if Trump is using him as “bad cop” in a good cop/bad cop routine, that might work.

Is there a badder cop in America than John Bolton?

I know what I would offer Kim: make him a king.

That is, make Kim king . . . or de facto king, but under a constitutional monarchy where his powers would be limited to two: ceremonial and Defender of the Realm — that is, head of the military. Give him a tax base and let North Korea be as free as such a thing could be.

There might have to be another word for “king,” I suppose. But the idea of a dual executive is very old. The Khazar empire was run by two figures, the Khagan and the Bek. The latter was in charge of the military. Normally one might offer Kim merely a figurehead role, but I don’t think he’d take that. He needs to be i n control of something.

Arguably, the United States should move to a dual executive, one selected by the people (or, better yet, the Electoral College as is) and the other selected by sortition from a limited pool of applicants pushed by the states (or some such).

In any case, Kim needs to be made an offer that would secure his life and some aspect of his prestige. Not because he deserves it, but because no real change can happen without doing so.

One does not need to be enthusiastic about such an offer, just reasonable.

Do you have a better idea? Am I crazy?

Image credit: Bosch Fawstin’s great icon for Greg Gutfeld’s crowning John Bolton as “President” of his old Red Eye show. Note: Fawstin likes and admires Bolton, and will no doubt be really annoyed with what I have written above. Sorry, Mr. Fawstin — you are a great “illustwriter,” sure, but we disagree about a number of things. Reader — look over Fawstin’s work. He is very talented.


Categories Diplomacy, Politics, tyranny

Still, Symphonies!

President Donald Trump defended Western civilization while in Poland, mentioning “symphonies” as exemplary achievements.

“We write symphonies, we pursue innovation,” he said.

Now, taking glory from others’ achievements ain’t my bag, but defending Western civilization against its detractors and enemies is surely worthwhile. A great tradition of liberty did not pop out elsewhere, even if many good people and great things and ideas did. Many of us here in the West are still caught between Hebraism and Hellenism, and live in an ongoing dialogue between Jerusalem and Athens. And we have no reason to be ashamed of this.

And we have no reason to take shame in symphonies — which not coincidentally remain my favorite form of art, bar none.

But . . . I just heard an African-American man on CNN admitting to being “triggered” by this mention of the symphonic tradition in particular, thought it was evidence of “white nationalism.”

This is just so stupid. I commend to the attention of the under-educated ideologues at CNN the symphonies by American composer William Grant Still (pictured in caricature) — especially his Fourth, “Autochthonous,” and Fifth, “Western Hemisphere.” The symphonies are very good, if not great; they consciously build upon a long civilized tradition of fine art music; they reference in their titles the very idea of growing new out of the old; and the composer was the first African-American to have a symphony performed in America.

Blacks are not defined by jazz, or soul, or rap/hip-hop. Maybe it is time to give up your low-brow, anti-white fixations. You do not make anyone look (or sound) good.

Thankfully, you do not speak for anyone but yourselves, and perhaps the pathetic racists you cater to.


Categories Diplomacy, Ideological currents, Music

Just War

A late, lamented neighbor of mine once defined “just war” as “mere war.” That was a quip.

A rather cynical one.

When I read just war theory, as a teenager, the most important point, I determined (in this rarefied and rarely consulted domain of thought), was this:

In contemplating intervention into a conflict with which one’s own country is not directly involved, it is not enough merely to determine which side is more nearly in the right. One must also have good reason to believe that, by intervening, one’s State could win and establish a stable and  just peace.

Even if you know who is in the wrong, if there is no likely way of “winning,” or if one’s intervention is not likely efficacious to establish a peace, entering into the conflict is immoral.

A recent study of just war theory and history by Laurie Calhoun suggests that most uses of the tradition, especially in recent times, have been to cover for gross, murderous immorality. Not to limit warfare.

As near as I can make out, this is largely because the tradition is almost never treated seriously or rigorously in the manner indicated above.

It is telling that I have not once heard, in recent public discussion over the Syrian intervention, one mention of just war theory.


Categories Basic Principles, Constitutional Concerns, Diplomacy, Ethics, Political Theory, Public Policy

Russian Pinochle

In the 1970s, unions were out of control in Great Britain.
Fun fact: some of the leaders of some of the unions were paid by Moscow to monkeywrench the system.

So, British unions served as tools of the Communists. This is not an unfounded accusation. This is a fact gleaned from evidence in the Soviet archives, to which scholars were granted access in the early 1990s (since rescinded).

Now, compare and contrast:

Today, Hillary Clinton and her team charge Julian Assange and WikiLeaks with being subsidized by Putin’s Russia. The batches of Clinton campaign emails, as indexed and published by WikiLeaks, are castigated by the Clintonistas as attempts by Russia to influence the American election in favor of Donald Trump.

Shades of the Cold War!

img_0742Note, the Clinton camp is not denying their leaked emails’ veracity. Instead, they are merely trying to poison the well of respectsbility, using shame to dissuade anyone from bringing up inconvenient truths about Mrs. Clinton’s many, uh, shenanigans.

The anti-WikiLeaks/Russian subversion charge would be easier to accept, and its defendants more excoriable, had we not learned from these very same emails that the Clinton team itself had encouraged, during the primary period, friendly media outlets to promote Trump over his GOP competitors. Why? For the secret purpose of scuttling the candidacies of Republicans they thought harder to beat, primarily Rand Paul.

The Clinton team is attempting to blame Russia for doing what it itself did! And on flimsier evidence than has been so far supplied.

trumpinghillaryIt is possible, in politics, to be too clever for one’s own good.

The British paid agents of the Kremlin were traitors, back in the 1970s, sure. And what Maggie Thatcher did to them was necessary for the survival of the country.

But Julian Assange? Is he an enemy of the U. S.?

No more than Hillary herself, who appears to be a traitor . . . well, at the very least to her own cause, her own campaign.

She thought she could bleed trump by pushing Donald Trump, and take the last tricks of the campaign to win the election handily. Now, it appears, she may not succeed. It is still possible for Trump to win (though if you watch CNN, that seems impossible), even if oddsmakers put Hillary out ahead. Unless Trump’s reputation completely implodes in these last weeks, whatever the Electoral College meld tallies out to be, it will be a close election.

And if Hillary does indeed fail, she will have no one but herself to blame.


See: and Visual meme, at top, courtesy of Paul Jacob at

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Categories Crime, Diplomacy, Politics

The Ump vs. the Emp

The classical liberal view of the ideal state — especially in its “nightwatchman state” version — is that of an umpire. Definitely not “the boss.”

But this idea has long been honored mainly in the breach.

Courtesy of Cato, I learn of the work of historian Elizabeth Cobbs:

How has the view of the United States as an “umpire” served U.S. foreign policy? Elizabeth Cobbs is author of American Umpire.


Contra this interesting scholar, I would say that our federal government ceased being primarily an umpire, domestically, long ago.

She is probably right that the U.S. characterizes itself as an umpire in its foreign policy aspect. But, if umpire it be, it is an amazingly crazed and brutal one, unpredictable other than in its strong tendency to bomb countries going through political troubles.

Hardly “umpirial”! The U. S. would be kicked out of any respectable referees’ union.

And the only way the U. S. has maintained a putative umpire status abroad has been to reduce that function at home. The umpire-like qualities of limited, constitutional government — of a republic — have long been deprecated by dirigiste ideology and progressive/conservative politics. In its place, instead of a rule of law, we have developed a regulatory state dominated by bureaucracies in the executive branch and plutocracy in the elected sphere.

America, an empire at home; a crazed, wannabe umpire abroad.

Call me an anti-umpirialist, then!

The better to support a more limited, referee status at home. War, after all, is not the health of the nightwatchman state.



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Categories Diplomacy, History, Ideological currents, Political Theory, Public Policy, Uncategorized

#Brexit and #Vexit

Leading up to and immediately following Britain’s “Brexit” vote, I was scribbling incessantly on social media, trying to explain my position. But before I collect those thoughts for this blog — if I ever do — here are two columns by other writers (Paul Jacob & Dan Sanchez) whose appraisals are up my alley.

Hysteria, Assassination, and Big Government

The biggest political story of the month? Brexit.

The people of Great Britain will vote, this week, whether to remain in, or exit, the European Union. (Britain+exit=“Brexit,” you see.)

Establishment forces in Britain have engaged in hysterical, hyperbolic overkill, warning of grave disaster were Britain to leave the union. America’s President Barack Obama contributed to this, recently, when he warned that an independent Britain might find itself placed “at the back of the queue” in trade talks.

Tragically, things got more troubling last week when anti-Brexit, pro-union campaigner Jo Cox, a Member of Parliament and prominent Labour Party activist, was brutally slain last week in front of her local library. The man had just left a mental health facility, after requesting help.

At first, major media reported that the killer had shouted “Britain First,” an old patriotic motto as well as the name of a pro-Brexit political party, while shooting and stabbing her. Of the several eyewitnesses to have allegedly testified to this murderous shout, only one is sticking to the story . . . a member of the British Nationalist Party, which is antagonistic to Britain First. Other eyewitnesses deny the story.

Next, both sides promised to cease campaigning, out of good taste. Still, polls fluctuated, while remaining close.

Much of the furor has risen over immigration policy, especially fears about EU laxity towards Muslim refugees.Paul Jacob

But the bedrock issue is Big Government. The EU is not effectively controlled by citizens; indeed, membership representation is mostly show, a mockery of republican government.

That is why, if I were British, I’d vote to Brexit.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Printable PDF This commentary first appeared on Paul Jacob’s Common Sense site on June 21st. Reprinted with permission.


Brexit Wins: Why That’s Great News for Europe, Too

British voters have elected to leave the European Union in a national referendum. The UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage declared Friday Britain’s “independence day.” That is quite a statement given British history. A little over two and a quarter centuries ago, America had its own first Independence Day, and the British Empire was the super-state from which Americans declared independence.

Independence is not isolation.

History has come full circle; in a sense, today we are seeing the American Revolution in reverse. In many ways, the European Union is a lever of US global hegemony. By seceding from the EU in spite of threats from Washington, Britain is declaring partial independence from America.

It must be noted that independence is not isolation. This is the key distinction that is intentionally blurred by the “Better Together” rhetoric of the “Remain” camp. When they scaremonger about “leaving Europe,” it conjures images of Britain abandoning Western civilization. But “the West,” as in the US-led alliance of neo-colonial powers, is not the same thing as Western civilization. And the European Union is not the same thing as Europe. Exiting a mega-state in defiance of an imperium is not withdrawing from civilization. In fact, such an exit is propitious for civilization.

Small Is Beautiful

Political independence fosters economic interdependence.

Advocates of international unions and super-states claim that centralization promotes trade and peace: that customs unions break down trade barriers and international government prevents war. In reality, super-states encourage both protectionism and warfare. The bigger the trade bloc, the more it can cope with the economic isolation that comes with trade warfare. And the bigger the military bloc, the easier it is for bellicose countries to externalize the costs of their belligerence by dragging the rest of the bloc into its fights.

A small political unit cannot afford economic isolationism; it simply doesn’t have the domestic resources necessary. So for all of UKIP’s isolationist rhetoric, the practical result of UK independence from the European economic policy bloc would likely be freer trade and cross-border labor mobility (immigration). Political independence fosters economic interdependence. And economic interdependence increases the opportunity costs of war and the benefits of peace.

The Power of Exit

Super-states also facilitate international policy “harmonization.” What this means is that, within the super-state, the citizen has no escape from onerous laws, like the regulations that unceasingly pour out of the EU bureaucracy. Dan Sanchez

But with political decentralization, subjects can “vote with their feet” for less burdensome regimes. Under this threat of “exit,” governments are incentivized to liberalize in order to compete for taxpayer feet. Today’s referendum was a victory both for Brexit and the power of exit. That’s good news for European liberty.

During its Industrial Revolution, Britain was a beacon of domestic liberty and economic progress that stimulated liberal reform on the European continent. An independent Britain in the 21st century can play that role again. In doing so, Britain would help Europe outside the EU far more than it ever could on the inside. Brexit may be a death knell for the European Union, yet ultimately a saving grace for the European people.

Dan Sanchez

Dan Sanchez is the Digital Content Manager at FEE, developing educational and inspiring content for, including articles and courses. His articles are collected at

This article was originally published on Read the original article.

Here are two samples from my many squibs on social media:





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Categories Diplomacy, Ideological currents, Public Policy

Of Goats and Baseball

img_2351Barack Obama was in Cuba when the Brussels attacks occurred. He made his usual “solidarity” speech for a paragraph . . . and then quickly went back to ballyhooing his new Cuba policy. While European leaders scrambled to appear statesmanlike for more than a few ticks on a clock, to reassure their people at length, and to marshal forces to track down the murderous Jihadists, Obama was laughing it up at a baseball game.

With Communist leaders.

This, as the folks at Fox News pointed out relentlessly, was bad “optics”; it didn’t look “leaderly.”

For some reason, the talking heads at MSNBC did not belabor the point in the same manner as the Fox folks.

I was immediately reminded of a similar moment, on 9/11/2001 when George W. Bush was informed that the World Trade Center had taken two hits. He was being recorded, for he was doing that most presidential of things, reading to children.

About a goat.

The look on his face? As he went back to reading the story?

Well, anyone who has seen Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 911 knows that look. Moore made much of it.

Past American leadership has been so witless on the Mideast that I don’t really know what Obama should be doing to fight Islamic terrorism, at this point. I am pretty sure he is at a loss.*

But we might want to give him some time to process the news.

Everybody has their own initial reactions. George Bush sure didn’t look presidential on 9/11.

Hint for all participants: maybe we should not expect immediate genius responses to crises from our leaders; and maybe they shouldn’t be on camera all the time, encouraging the demand for same.

* Watching Fox and MSNBC, I am even more sure that neither his supporters nor his critics have a clue. Their failure to realize how fundamental hegemonic violence is to Islam, or that their previous, ill-thought-out efforts have merely stirred the nest. A concerted attack on ISIS, done in the usual witless fashion, will almost certainly turn a hornet problem into a Hydra problem.

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Categories Diplomacy