Trump’s Trump

October 2, 2015

Donald Trump is a piece of work even by New York standards: tall, white, loud, brash, entrepreneurial, successful, rich, ruthlessly candid, well-dressed, and fond of heterosexual women. He has married at least three delicious ladies in fact. Trump has five children and seven grandchildren. Indeed, his progeny are well above average too, smartly groomed, photogenic, and successful to boot.

As far as we know, Donald does not have any tattoos, piercings, unpaid taxes, or under-aged bimbo interns. He is not a drunk or a junkie either. Trump projects and enterprises probably employ more folks than the NYC school system – or the United Nations.

You could say that Trump is living the life, not the life of Riley, but more like big Daddy Warbucks with a comb over. “The Donald,” as one ex-wife calls him, is not just living the American dream. Trump is the dream – and proud of it.

You could do worse than think of Trump as upwardly mobile blue collar. He is the grandson of immigrants and the product of Long island, a Queens household, and a Bronx education. The Donald survived the Jesuits of Fordham University for two years before migrating to finish his baccalaureate at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

When readers of the New York Times, The New Yorker, and the New York Review of Books speak of “the city”, they are not talking about the Queens or the Bronx.  Growing and schooling in the blue collar boroughs gives Trump a curb level perspective, something seldom found in Manhattan. Or as any “D” Train alumnus might put it, Trump has “a pretty good Bravo Sierra detector.”

So what’s not to like about Donald Trump? He doesn’t just stay in four star hotels. He builds them. He doesn’t just own luxury condominiums. He makes them. He doesn’t just own historic buildings. He restores them. He doesn’t just eat at the best restaurants. He creates them. He just doesn’t belong to the best country clubs, he builds those too.

And Donald Trump, unlike the Manhattan/Washington fantasy Press and every Beltway political pimp, doesn’t just pay lip service to a bigger and better economy, he creates micro-economies every day.

The only thing we don’t know about Donald Trump is why he would like to immigrate to the District of Columbia.

In any case, the merits of entrepreneurs like Trump might best be defined by the character or motives of his critics. Trump detractors are for the most part “B” list politicians, ambulance chasers, and a left-leaning Press corps that lionizes the likes of Nina Totenberg, Dan Rather, Chris Matthews, Andrea Mitchell, and Brian Williams.

If the truth were told, most of Trump’s critics are jealous, envious of his wealth – and they loath his candor.  Donald might also be hated for what he is not. Trump is not a lawyer, nor is he a career politician who lives on the taxpayer dime. Trump is paying for his own campaign. Bernie, Barack, McCain, and Kerry could take enterprise lessons from a chap like Trump.

Unlike most government barnacles, Trump can walk and chew gum at the same time. He knows how to close a deal and build something. He is a net creator, not consumer, of a kind of wealth that provides “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for Americans – real jobs not feather merchants.

Today, Trump has nothing left to prove. Yet, success has allowed him the rarest of public privileges, an electoral pulpit and the courage to speak his mind. Alas, truth is not necessarily a political asset in a socialized democracy.

Indeed, the erstwhile presidential candidate stepped on his crank recently by suggesting that Mexico, already exporting dangerous drugs, cheap tomatoes, and even cheaper labor, was also exporting violent felons to the US.

Truth hurts! Trump’s rude candor is underwritten by nearly half a million illegal felons in American jails. Coincidently, events have conspired to support Trump’s take on Mexican dystopia with the El Chapo Guzman jailbreak and the murder of Kathryn Steinle by Francisco Sanchez.

Senor Sanchez sported a lengthy criminal record and had been deported on four previous occasions. San Francisco, a “sanctuary” city, failed to honor existing warrants and released Sanchez from jail just before he blew Kathy Steinle away.

As serendipity would have it, Trump then went to Phoenix on 12 July and gave a stem winder to a sell-out crowd on the subject of illegal immigration. Senator John McCain was not pleased to have Donald on Arizona’s front lawn and intemperately called Trump supporters “crazies.” Trump returned fire saying that McCain was no hero.

Here again Trump cut to the quick, pointing out that no one qualifies as a hero because he was shot down or captured. Indeed, being a hostage in North Vietnam is not necessarily heroic either. McCain is thought by some to be a heroic because he refused to accept an early release.

In fact, the Hanoi parole offer was a ruse, a Hobson’s choice, designed to embarrass McCain and his father at CINCPAC.

If McCain took the parole and abandoned his fellow POWs, he would have shamed his father and been ostracized by shipmates. Indeed, had John McCain not been the son and grandson of famous, and victorious, Pacific Command flag officers, no one would have noticed him then or now.

Few of the demagogues who have come to John McCain’s defense could name any of the 600 Vietnam-era POWs other than McCain. McCain is famous today because he, like John Kerry, has parlayed a very average Vietnam military service into a three decade political sinecure.

We know of 50,000 Vietnam veterans that might be more deserving than John McCain. Unfortunately, they died in a war that generals couldn’t win and politicians couldn’t abide. A body bag seldom gets to play the “hero.”

McCain is no political hero either.

He is famously ambiguous on domestic issues like immigration. He is also a Johnny-come-lately to Veterans Administration rot which has metastasized as long as McCain has been in office. On foreign policy, McCain is a Victoria Nuland era crackpot, supporting East European coups, playing cold warrior, and posturing with neo-Nazis in Kiev. McCain pecks at Putin too because the Senate, like the Obama crew, hasn’t a clue about genuine threats like the ISIS jihad or the latest Islam bomb.

To date, Trump has run a clever campaign. He is chumming, throwing red meat and blood into campaign waters and all the usual suspects are in a feeding frenzy. McCain, the Press, the Left, and the Republican establishment all have something to say about “the Donald.” It is truly amazing how cleverly Trump manages to manipulate the establishment.

If you are trying to sell an idea or a candidacy, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

Who knows where the Trump campaign goes? For the moment, he has scored direct hits on Mexico and McCain. With El Capo on the loose again, every time a toilet flushes in Sinaloa, Mexican garbage is likely spill out in Los Angeles, Hollywood, San Francisco, Portland, or Seattle. Indeed, it’s hard to believe that the Left Coast could survive without cheap labor, pistileros, meth, coke, heroin, or weed. Necrotic immigration and its byproducts are ready made targets for a gunslinger like Trump.

Trump is no bigot. He probably employs more Latinos and Blacks than Enrique Peña Nieto or Barack Obama. In his own way, Donald Trump is both immigrant and POW, a refugee from Queens and still a prisoner of Wharton. “The Donald” is the dude, the guy with babes and a role of Benjamins that would choke a shark. He is the wildly successful capitalist that some of us love to hate.

Before democratic socialism, success and effectiveness were measures of merit. It doesn’t take much insight to compare Trump’s various enterprises with federal programs. Public education, banking oversight, public housing slums, poverty doles, veteran’s fiascos, internal revenue hijinks, and even some Defense Department procurement programs are consensus failures. The F-35 “Lightning” fighter is an illustration, arguably the most expensive single DOD boondoggle in history. Pentagon progressives seldom win a cat fight these days, but they still spend like sailors.

If and when Trump fails, he is out of business.

In Trump’s world, failure has consequences.  In contrast, Washington rewards failure with better funding. Indeed, generational program failure is now a kind of perverse incentive for Beltway politicians and apparatchiks to throw good money at failed programs.

The difference between Trump and McCain should be obvious to any fair observer; Trump has done something with his talents. McCain, in contrast, is coasting on a military myth and resting on the laurels of Senatorial tenure.

Any way you look at it, Donald Trump is good for national politics, good for democracy, good for America, and especially good for candor. If nothing else, “the Donald” may help Republicans to pull their heads out of that place where the sun seldom shines.


The author had two tours in Vietnam as a junior officer and subsequently served as command Intelligence briefer in Hawaii where he updated CINCPAC, John McCain’s father, on POW matters.



Vetting Hillary

September 16, 2015

“If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.”  – Virginia Woolf                    

The coronation of Hillary Rodham as presidential nominee for 2016 is proceeding apace if the debate schedule provides any evidence. The first Democrat “debate” is scheduled for 13 October. So far there are only two and a half candidates, so the events might best be called the Hillary and Bernie hour.

With only five debates scheduled,  a coalition of the usual network suspects is in line au gauche starting with CNN in October and ending with PBS in early Spring.

Fillers between the progressive network bookends include ABC, CBS, NBC, and Univision. Rumor has it that Dan Rather, Brian Williams, and Chris Matthews might come in off the bench if needed. Indeed, J. A. “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera could pinch hit for Univision should Mrs. Clinton stub her toe on illegals, anchor babies, crime, or Mexican drug culture.

Still, there are now a few doubts about Hillary’s nomination and more than a few questions about her electability. Nonetheless, short of a criminal indictment, she will probably make it to the Democrat debates.

In the spirit of the transparency so often promised in the Obama era, the following list of voter questions for Hillary are recommended to media panelists. Given the sympathies of the interlocutors, however, there is no expectation that these questions will be asked or answered.

 On Women’s Issues

Mrs. Clinton:

Your husband’s staff created the neologism “bimbo eruptions” to describe Bill’s affairs at the Arkansas State House and the White House.  If “bimbo” is a fair characterization of your husband’s lady friends, what would you call a woman who tolerates, enables, or excuses a philanderer?

Do you think elected officials should risk the dignity of high office or the integrity of security officers (State Police and Secret Service) to solicit or exploit naive and vulnerable girls?

Perhaps you are aware that the Secret Service has been used as cover for sexual escapades of former presidents that include Jack Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and now your husband.  Will that practice continue if and when a woman becomes president?

Will your husband have female interns as helpers or assistants in a Hillary Rodham White House?

Do you still think a presidential dalliance is a private matter, therefore protected, behavior?

If extra-marital sex is a private or protected behavior, should lying about such affairs before a grand jury be considered perjury?

Has your husband’s license to practice law been restored in any state?

By any fair assessment of recent history, your husband and Huma Abedin’s spouse are serial predators and/or serial flashers respectively. What role will these men have in a Hillary Clinton campaign or White House?

If Donald Trump’s rhetoric is abusive, how should we describe your husband’s, or Anthony Wiener’s, actual behavior with women?

Are Bill and Tony “ill” in some clinical sense or are there larger moral, character, or judgement issues in play with these men?

Do you or your husband still believe that you are victims of a “vast right wing” conspiracy?

On Foreign Policy

Mrs. Clinton:

In the Obama era, the Israeli PM came to the US on more than a dozen occasions. During the same period, President Obama traveled to Israel once. Will isolation and sanction of Israel continue in your administration?

What do you think of the BDS movement or any boycott of Israel for that matter?

Do you believe that Obama era hostility towards Israel has contributed to the rise of antisemitism and attacks upon Jews globally?

Women are still abducted, abused, bought, sold, traded, raped, stoned, mutilated, and beheaded; especially by American “partners” in Arab and Muslim states.  What specifically, besides rhetoric at the UN, have you or your predecessors at the State Department done to help abused women abroad?

Do you think that Russian nationalism is a bigger problem than Islamic imperialism? Isn’t the former a local problem and the latter a global threat?

Do you think NATO expansion in Europe is a good idea?

How, specifically, does Russophobia or a resuscitated Cold War serve American interests?

Russia and Israel have been isolated and sanctioned in the Clinton/Obama era. Why are there no comparable sanctions for the host of Muslim nation states (Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are examples) that supply jihadists to kill Americans, Jews, and Christians in the name of God and Islam?

Do you think Russia’s Putin is a bigger threat to America   than Mexico’s Guzman or the Islamic State’s Baghdadi?

Do you remember your now famous victory dance in Libya after the summary execution of Gaddafi? What responsibility are you willing to take for the Libyan collapse and subsequent Benghazi atrocity?

Do you still consider ongoing events in North Africa and the Levant an “Arab Spring” or a “Jasmine Revolution?”

The Obama administration is signing agreements instead of treaties with repressive Islamic theocracies, pariah states like Iran? Is an “agreement” more enforceable? How will this work in a Clinton White House?

If the nuclear “deal” with the ayatollahs is designed to insure or prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, can you explain the “insurance” provisions in detail?

Some have suggested that any agreement with Iran is a game of “kick the can.” As President, what is the Hillary game plan to deal with any Persian recidivism?

UN Ambassador Samantha Power’s world view has been described charitably as “humanitarian” intervention and elsewhere as imperial democracy – aka “regime change.” How would you characterize a decade of botched US interventions?

How do you reconcile values like national “sovereignty” and US schemes to undermine regimes in Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Libya, Ukraine, and elsewhere?

As president, will you formally recognize the Armenian genocide in Turkey?

You must be aware by now that American aircraft and weapons are being used by Turkey to kill Kurds in Iraq and Syria? How do you justify NATO attacks against our one reliable Muslim ally in the Levant?

Has NSA done a formal security risk assessment on your use of “private” servers while you were Secretary of State?

As a cabinet officer, how does your personal convenience trump national security?

Couldn’t NSA or the Intelligence Community provide copies of your “personal” server emails to the FBI and Congress?

Will you make such a request, to DCI James Clapper, in order to put this matter behind you?


On Domestic Policy

Mrs. Clinton:

Do you consider drug felonies non-violent crimes? If drugs destroy individual lives, imperil families, neighborhoods, and communities; how is any of this “non-violent?”

Do you favor amnesty and/or early release for so-called non-violent American drug lords?

Donald Trump has proposed to build a barrier on the Mexican border to control illegal immigration. What is your plan to control illegals?

Mr. Trump also claims that Mexico is exporting criminals to the United States. American prisons now house nearly 400,000 felons who were born in Mexico, indeed, as much as a third of the American prison population. If facts matter, prison demographics support Trump’s claim. Is Mexico exporting crime and felons to America?

The world’s most notorious and homicidal drug lord, “El Chapo” Guzman, has had a least two anchor babies in Los Angeles. Do you think the wives or girlfriends of Mexican felons should have the same rights as legal visitors and legal immigrants?

Do you consider Guzman a “violent” drug offender?

American debt and deficits have reached record highs under Mr. Obama. If we can assume “growth,” as a solution, is off the table for the near term, what’s your plan?

Do you ever consider restraint or austerity as a solution to profligate spending?

Can you name two failed federal programs, or Federal departments, that you would cashier in the name of reform or cost effectiveness?

Why is increased funding the knee-jerk solution to all ineffective or failed federal programs? When government rewards failure, what is the incentive for change, improvement, or reform?

Do any federal programs ever have an expiration date?

The Obama administration has invested treasure and the First Lady’s prestige on pre-school, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack programs. The most expensive public school system in the world, especially in urban areas, is pretty much a consensus failure and more than half the food served in public schools now goes in the trash.  What is your solution for such incompetence and waste?

The police seem to have become the enemy in the Obama era. What is the more important problem here, social pathology in minority communities or law enforcement in those troubled neighborhoods?

Can you tell me how many black men, women, and children were killed by other black men in 2014?

If not, could you tell us the 2015 homicide rate, and the race of perps and victims, in Washington, DC alone this year?

Isn’t the District of Columbia, after all, President Obama’s back yard?

Why isn’t the nation’s capital, of all American cities, an urban role model for the rest of America?

Do you think the District of Columbia should be a state?

                      One last personal question

We would like to end a personal note, Mrs. Clinton, if you don’t mind. Have you or your husband ever considered yourselves role models for youngsters who might aspire to careers in politics or public service?

Thank you and good luck.


Key words:

Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Huma Abedin, Anthony Wiener, Samantha Power, Donald Trump, James Clapper, El Chapo Guzman, CNN, NPR, NSA, Israel, Russia, Secret Service, and Univision.


Europe Surrenders

September 15, 2015

“It’s often safer to be in chains than to be free.” – Franz Kafka

The cuckoo is one of the more interesting migrants in the animal kingdom. It spends part of the year in sunny Africa, but nests and breeds in Europe. Cuckoos appropriate the nests of other birds to lay eggs. The lark or dove in turn does not recognize the egg threat and even feeds the cuckoo chicks after they hatch. Eventually, the larger aggressive cuckoo chicks either evict or kill any host offspring.

Brood parasitism features several related behaviors; egg mimicry, egg or chick evictions, or once the cuckoo chick is established, nest fratricide. Still, no cuckoo ever becomes a chickadee.

Some critters were born to political metaphor. The hawk, the dove, the eagle, the snake, the rat, the elephant, and even the jackass are familiar. Given the Muslim migration out of Africa and the Levant, even genteel bird watchers see the social or Darwinian implications of mass migrations, avian or human.

“I must confess here that I thought of foreign Muslim clerical fanatics in England receiving social security payments even as they call for the destruction of the society that pays them. We are horrified, it is true; but all the participants in the scene are acting only according to their nature.”

Nature indeed! Is it the nature of Europeans to be passive victims? Is it the nature of Muslims to be religious/cultural predators? Bamiyan, Palmyra, and the ongoing Christian genocide within the Ummah might be probative here.

What we have, as Luke’s jailer might have put it, is a “failure to communicate,” two cultures with radically different political, religious, cultural, and moral values.  All the while, Europe clings to multicultural illusions even as their “union” is undone by a monoculture on the move. Islamic aliens flee Muslim lands as political “refugees” travelling, ironically, under an umbrella of enlightened Judeo/Christian indulgence.

Open border is to “union” in Europe as kefir is to ice cream.

Refugees from what? Shia theocracy? Sunni fascism?  Surely Arabs and Africans are not fleeing the Ummah or Islam, the “religion of peace.” Why do the faithful go west, to the lands of infidels?

Where is the Arab League (22 Arab states) or the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (57 Muslim states) midst the greatest refugee crisis since WWII? What is Malaysia and Indonesia doing about Muslim “asylum seekers?”  In Arabia alone, more than half of residents are non-citizen guest workers. Why not replace infidel “guests” in the Emirates with besieged brothers from North Africa and the Levant? Why should there be national “quotas” for Muslim refugees in Europe or America and none for the 57 nations of the Ummah?

Why is there is no discussion, no demand, that Islam care for its own? Why is there no call for Muslim or Islamic “moral” responsibility? The absence of any significant Muslim players in the migrant crisis puts a stake through the heart of any Islamic claims to moral equivalence.

Muslim North Africa, Arabia, Malaysia, and Indonesia are the most prominent human traffickers (nee slave traders) in the modern world. If Islamic flight is necessary, why not deliver economic migrants to those world class human rights abusers as a kind of poetic justice?

Alas, the human flood tide is well beyond the gates of Vienna now. Indeed, contemporary migrant/refugee flash mobs have secured more of Europe overnight than Islam ever achieved through force of arms in previous 1400 years. Europe is now a weak consortium of barren nests, ripe for colonization.

Europe’s open borders are the best thing to happen to Islam since Saladin.

Apologists tell us that the modern Muslim tide is no different than any other historic migration, a value added. The East, the Ummah, and the swordsmen of al Qaeda and the Islamic State know better. The “refugee” or migrant gambit is the quintessential economy of force strategy, the wisdom of crowds if you will.  If terrorists are the passenger pigeons of fear, a mobile mass movement might be the vanguard or base for a 21st Century caliphate in Europe.

Luther, Darwin, or Marx might have argued that our natures compel us to do what we must. Alas, the specter of Mohammed now literally walks across the EU to victory – across a Europe without borders. Western cultural tolerance is hoisted on its own petard.

Secular democracy was ever vulnerable to ethnic or religious coup.

The siege of Europe might not be directed by any central Muslim authority, but such direction is not necessary. Imperial Islam has a tailwind from Christian guilt and Liberal moral relativity – and no restraints like tribal, religious, or national accountability.

For Washington and Brussels, Islam is an archipelago of immature cultures, like that in Lord of the Flies, child-like societies anointed with ideological, political, and moral immunity. Indulgence, alas, is the godfather of all social pathology.

Guilt, responsibility, and penance for Muslim pathologies are, unfortunately, the new “white man’s burden,” a political purgatory that Brussels and Washington wear like a hair shirt. The West does not expect the East to care for itself. And the East, for the most part, is content with culture corrupted by oil, wealth, ignorance, tribal fratricide, and theology.

The yeast in this toxic batter is Islamofascism, swordsmen the likes of Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, and the Islamic State. The cutting edge of Islam is the ugly end of mercy for passive apostates – as well as a harbinger of what is to come for inert or naïve European and American infidels.

The best evidence of cultural or political depravity is often anecdotal. In the same week that Austria fell, the American Press was obsessed with: rented Pandas at the National Zoo, Hillary’s email, homosexual marriage in Kentucky, deflategate in Foxboro, and an Arab invasion of the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown.

Yes, while Europe watches a Muslim migrant/refugee/asylum seeker nightmare walk across Europe, “King” Salman Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia rented the entire 222 rooms of a 5-star hotel in Washington, DC for his court over the long Labor Day weekend.

The chances that Abdulaziz or Obama would do anything “morally responsible” about the latest Muslim exodus was about as good as the Saudi entourage going to Ben’s Chili Bowl for a kosher dog. As the Muslim Right partied with the American Left in Washington, DC, Europe was smothering under a host of fakirs on foot.

Small wonder then, that both the ayatollahs of Persia and the imams of the Islamic State have the decadent, if not ripe, plutocrats of Arabia in their crosshairs too.

Any further discussion of the moral responsibility for the chaos in the Ummah is probably moot. The West can’t even agree on the language to describe the threat. Words like terror, terrorist, Islamist, or Islamofascist are proscribed. The Islamic State is variously called ISIL, ISIS, or Daesh.  Washington and Brussels can’t admit to themselves that international jihad now has a home field advantage.

The Islamist “minority” shibboleth is dying too slow to save Europe. As Vienna submits, can Berlin, Paris, London, and Minneapolis be far behind?

The exodus circus is the latest front in another skirmish the West has no intention of winning. Muslims on the move are variously described as migrants, economic refugees, or asylum seekers. If allied generals are incapable of distinguishing friend and foe on the various Muslim battlefields, any notion that rear echelon diplomats or NGO apparatchiks will be able to separate an immigrant, a refugee, or a deadbeat from a terrorist 5th column is ludicrous.

Open borders and unlimited undocumented are now euphemisms for despair. Withal, the Ummah has carte blanche to export their problems; ethnic, religious, and political pathologies to Europe and beyond. Compassion has been weaponized.  The Quisling strain of social democracy has seduced Europe again.

When all is said and done, the European Union is surrendering in slow motion.  What Hitler could not do with German panzers, Mohammed is doing with cuckoos in walking shoes and backpacks. Over time, the European Union might well change its name to the Obama Caliphate.



Originally published in American Thinker and the New English Review


Too Much from Too Few

June 22, 2015

“It’s easier to bleed than it is to sweat.” – Flannery O’Connor

Cultural milestones are seldom recognized until long after the fact. Some seminal events languish in obscurity until consequences insist that the past be parsed for tripwires or tipping points. Causality is seldom obvious and often muddled by politics over time, especially if the subject is cultural pathology.  The search for answers or the origins of social problems is more like watching bridges rust than it is like finding a eureka moment.  As with bridges, no one seems to care too much about erosion until edifices start to fail. Inertia is the constant companion of all structural decay in engineering, science, and society.

The inertia problem is compounded by culture. In America, values such as positive thinking and rationalization (or excuses) coexist to produce a kind of stasis. On the one hand, a problem solving ethic might drive social engineering at home and intrusive foreign policy abroad.  On the other side of the equation, excuse making, like multi-culturalism and political correctness, often inhibit correctives or meaningful reform. Protecting cultural, religious, or ethnic  sensitivities has displaced candor as a civic virtue.

Programs and institutions follow policy. Effective or not, all programs develop a clientele or political constituency, a permanence that may have little to do with original purposes. Good intentions alone, unfortunately, are often good enough to ignore falling bridges or failed policy.

Serial defaults often create a host of new problems. Funded failures often become institutional vampires, oblivious to extinction. Indeed, political and military careers are made by creating, not reforming, fixing, or ending ineffective projects and programs.

American Military Decline

American military art/science (strategy, operations, and tactics) is a modern example of an institution in decline. The United States had a long tradition of military success from the Revolutionary War through World War II. The slide may have begun with the Korean War where that outcome might be described as ambiguous. The Vietnam War was a decade-long controversy at home and abroad. All those small wars in the Muslim world since can only be described as serial failures. Modern American military history is characterized by intervention and regime change gambles that are littered by the debris of military fiasco.

Single point failures, military or otherwise, can be beneficial, an opportunity to learn.  All institutions progress through trial and error. Serial failure, however, is often the slippery slope of cultural decay. Low expectations beget bad habits. With enough practice, habits become culture. Correcting a single mistake is routine. Changing a military culture of failure, in contrast, is a generational task.

Losing now seems to be chronic for team America. Some brilliant operational or tactical episodes might be cited, but taken collectively; nothing midst the Muslim small wars of the past six decades suggests strategic success. Indeed, words like war, to say nothing of “victory,” are seldom used today by politicians or generals. Withal, the world is not a safer place today either. Freedom and democracy are not ascendant. Winning on the battlefield seems to be permanently off the military table.

What happened?

Arguably, the US Armed Forces are some of the best trained, disciplined, and equipped fighting units in the world. Tactical excellence occasionally pays dividends at the operational level. Strategic competence, however, is a void.

Since the end of the Cold War, American politicians and generals seem to be lost in a strategic fog. Absent an existential threat like the Soviet Bloc, American military assets, treasure, and young lives have been squandered on a series of small wars where the conflicts are ephemeral and undeclared whilst objectives, or measures of effectiveness, are unclear. Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Libya, and Yemen are just a few examples where military interventions made matters worse.

Small wars today seem to have little or nothing to do with existential national security and everything to do with domestic politics, political expediency, or the transient crisis of the moment. Force commitment is reactive and ephemeral, not strategic. There is no over-arching vision or objective like “Containment,” to say nothing of expectations like victory. Stated goals and missions are trivialized with meaningless euphemisms like humanitarian concerns, training, “nation building,” or “stability.”

The worst of neologisms might be the so-called “war on terror,” a pleonasm that misfires on three counts.

America has been agnostic since 1948 if the subject is war or Islam. War and jihad is the Muslim perspective, not the American view. Indeed, official US rhetoric relegates Islamic angst, attacks, and terror to common criminal activity, not acts of war. And the rhetorical war on “terror,” the tactic, makes as much sense as declaring “war” on perennial social problems like ignorance, drugs, or crime. War at the Pentagon, National Security Council, and the State Department today is more likely to be an attack on language not Muslim militants. Real combat is regularly obscured by the politically correct burka of political euphemism.

The word “terror” is actually most useful as budget Viagra. No matter the state or federal agency, if you can work words like “terror, radical, or extremist” into your mission statement, funding largesse is assured. Using a word like “Islamist,” on the other hand, to describe the actual threat, is a non-starter at any echelon.

Treating 60 years of terror, anti-democratic barbarity, and a host of small wars as isolated criminal acts with local motives may explain why America and Europe are losing the global conflict with imperial Islamism.

The slow slide into what can only be described as strategic miasma probably began with end of universal conscription in America and the advent of the “all-volunteer” force. Tipping points are always speculative, if not anecdotal, but the cost and consequences of “professionalizing” the American military is now a study in social pathology.

All-volunteer drift

Creating a volunteer force was never about the draft. Conscription in its various incarnations over the years was always controversial, yet effective if military results are a measure of merit. From the Revolutionary War, through the Civil War, and up to WWII; American military expeditions were usually victorious. Conscription was never popular but it worked when it was needed. The Vietnam War changed all that.

The end of “universal” conscription precipitated a storm of cultural, social, and strategic blowback. In fact, the Nixon/Kissinger initiative didn’t just end the draft, it ended military service as we knew it. The civic virtues of shared sacrifice and national obligation went out with the bathwater of political expediency.

If the truth be told, eliminating the draft in 1973 had little to do with national security either and everything to do with domestic politics. The military draft was a political bone thrown by the American Right to the American anti-war Left.

The gambit worked. With the end of the draft, the anti-war movement collapsed. Ironically, scions of the 1970s anti-war counterculture, John Kerry at the State Department is an example, now lead today’s charge into indecisive small wars, regime change schemes, and an assortment of ill-advised interventions justified as counter terrorism.

Alas, a permanent professional standing army was, and still is, at odds with American tradition, just war theory, and everyday common sense.

The founding fathers were justifiably skeptical about standing armies and thus gave Congress the power of the purse, limiting Army funding to two years.  And philosophers frequently argue that ease of misuse is a sign that (any) theory is flawed and ought to be scrapped. “Ease of misuse” is surely a hallmark of American counter-terror theory and tactics since 1973.

The real fly in the ointment of military art as practiced by the Oval Office and the Pentagon today is common sense or pragmatism. In all of this, Congress and both major political parties have been cheerleaders at worst or spectators at best. If the subject is troop deployments, congressional restraint has been AWOL since the Nixon era.

[Personalizing military pathology is a risky business. Nonetheless, the Armed Forces, like any other human institution is the sum of personal integrity – or its absence. Here we might be remiss not to mention several human resource symptoms like Admiral Jeremy Boorda, General David Patraeus, General Michael Hayden, General Martin Dempsey, General James Clapper, Major Malik Hasan, Sergeant Robert Bales, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, and Private Chelsea (nee Bradley) Manning. The latter is about to be transferred to a more congenial prison where he/she can undergo sex change therapy at taxpayer expense.]

Disastrous or failed strategic military outcomes of the last 50 years speak for themselves.

The domestic social, or pragmatic, consequences of military malpractice in the all-volunteer era, however, fly under the radar. Chronic “misuse” pathologies now produce record levels of disabled, alcoholics, drug abusers, PTSD victims, suicides, homelessness, welfare dependencies, retention/recruitment problems, and Veterans Administration abuses.  Many of these social costs could be attributed to repeat deployments, a phenomenon unprecedented in American military history.

No one at the strategic tier seems to ever ask if we are asking too few to do too much for too few good reasons. If every citizen benefits from national security, shouldn’t all beneficiaries have some skin in the game?

The all-volunteer army has created a chasm between the combat veteran and the population served. That chasm gets broader with every reckless military intervention or deployment. If national defense is a subset of national security, then every citizen, every family, and every institution that enjoys the benefits of safety and democracy should share the risks and costs. If war is necessary, then so is conscription.

Truth is, in America, if not all republics, there are more votes to be had from grifters, deadbeats, and reluctant conscripts than there will ever be had among earnest volunteers. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates put it best: “Without conscription, war is just an abstraction.” The all-volunteer force makes it too easy for politicians to rationalize deployments without fear of consequence at the ballot box.

The great virtue of universal conscription was that risk and sacrifice was shared and personal; in short, a prudent restraint on use abuse. Without universal personal risk, feckless politicians and venal generals get a free hand, to play fast and loose with lives – and national reputation.

When was the last time you saw a flag officer or a politician in a body bag or a wheel chair – or waiting in line for a pill at a VA hospital? Paradoxically, there is less tolerance for casualties with volunteers than there was with draftees. The solution, according to some thoughtful analysts, is social justice.

“Bring back a draft that starts conscription at the top of the social ladder. Or establish recruiting appeals that will garner some share of privileged youth. Otherwise the all-volunteer force will be an ineffective instrument in any time of war or even in peacekeeping, unless the instance is virtually casualty-free.”

American military deployments today are hardly casualty-free, nor are they effective, just, or justified, if results and outcomes matter. For the moment, the draft and conscription is settled law.  Alas, the ship of state may have to hit an iceberg before any new conversation about service, sacrifice, and American military success begins.


This essay previously appeared in American Thinker and the New English Review.


Hillary’s Jewels

April 21, 2015

You might think of political assets like the family jewels, things inherited but not necessarily merited. Hillary Rodham Clinton has a virtual hope chest, an endowment like no other politician in American history. Her first gift was the coat tails of a priapic husband who was twice elected President courtesy of Ross Perot. Her second windfall was a cabinet post, a kind of consolation prize after she lost the 2008 Democrat Primary to Barack Obama.

Four years at Foggy Bottom and a million frequent flyer miles later, Mrs. Clinton was able to twerk over Muammar Gadhafi’s grave and watch Libya descend into the sewer of failed Muslim states.

Celebrating the Gadhafi kill in Libya

Celebrating the Gadhafi kill in Libya

The Clinton/Kerry tag team at Foggy Bottom has an American foreign policy record unblemished by success. Having checked the gravitas box at State Department, Hillary wrote an anthem for Benghazi and a slogan for her presidential campaign: “What difference does it make?”

Beyond endowments from Bill and Barry, Hillary Rodham Clinton has a host of other of political assets that should make her formidable if not inevitable.


2016 will be like any other American election, apathy will be the loudest voice in the room. Nearly half (93 million) of American voters sat out the last presidential election.  Apathy is usually an ally of the Left where special pleaders and dependents are easier to control. Just ask Mitt Romney. If the Republicans put up two fat white guys against Hillary, husband Bill gets another run at White House interns for eight years.


First Black cannot hold a candle to first woman.  There are more women than African Americans in the US by a wide margin. Indeed, the ladies vote too, more so than men. Expect Hillary to don the burka of false modesty and insist that she isn’t running as a first or a woman. Nonetheless, her camp followers and media groupies will take up the flack slack and insure that no one forgets that it’s high time for Spanks, Spandex, and pastel pants suits on Pennsylvania Avenue.


You would be correct today to think of ovaries as the Clinton crown jewels. Even when William was President, there was little doubt about who had the bigger giblets.  Beyond rhetoric at the UN, Hillary doesn’t really have any feminist credits to speak of. Never mind.  Her genitals, like Obama’s melanin, are assets that do not require accomplishment. Indeed, Mrs. Clinton will probably try to out-macho the girly men on the Right. Hillary is already running East of John McCain when the subject is Russia or Putin. If any political stud dare raise his voice to Hillary, he will be pilloried by a fawning Press as a bully or misogynist thug.

Government Employees

You might like to think of federal, state, or municipal employees as civil servants, not political assets.   Unfortunately, phrases like “civil servant” are usually only half true. Government employees trend to the Left and politically correct. Take Washington, DC which has never had a Republican city council or mayor.  Federal bedroom communities of Maryland and northern Virginia are solidly on the Left too. The apparatchik demographic, including the Pentagon, at all levels is Hillary country.

The Academy

Beyond government, the schoolhouse and associated education bureaucracies might be the largest single service employer in the nation. Schooling or warehousing is big business. Never mind that coercion and education are mutually exclusive. Hard as it is to think of public education as a “service,” schools do provide custodial, if not patronage, sinecures in every community large or small.

Alas, American education ranks 26th in the world, below Estonia and Lichtenstein. On average, American custodials are two years behind Shanghai peers. The American classroom is now dead last among developed nations. The schoolhouse is at once the crucible of low information voters, under achievers, and a solid Liberal voting bloc. Mediocracy is the new meritocracy.


The oppressed class is another growth business. The victim or dependent demographic is now open-ended. Any citizen, who is not a heterosexual, white, male, making less than 50K a year, has victim potential. Indeed, if you see government as a kind of wet nurse, a provider of relief on demand, you are probably a victim. Victims do not believe in Uncle Sam anymore, but they are fond of plump nannies. A hover mother in the Oval Office is a perfect fit for the infantile demographic. The “more is never enough” and “bigger is better” crowd is all in for Mrs. Clinton.


If you seek to understand fringe America, just follow bimbo journalism. ABC’s Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer are examples. Walters twice featured a middle-aged teacher who slept with, then married, her 13 year-old student. Ms. Walters also uses her network pulpit to defend celebrities who molest or marry their children. Sawyer hosted a primetime piece also which celebrated Bruce Jenner’s gender (nee sexual) dysphoria. You can never have enough Kardashian. Such are the offerings of network news today. Only same sex marriage is likely to get more attention.

Alas, the LGBT community is a lot like PETA these days, selective yet militant activists. Mrs. Clinton abandoned a gay ambassador, Chris Stephens, to the tender mercies of jihad in Libya, the high point of her tenure at State.  Gay America, so sensitive to rights and real or imagined slights, was silent about an American diplomat executed as likely for being gay as for being American. Indeed, homosexuality is a capital offense midst 1.6 Muslims, yet the LGBT demographic is mute on the global Muslim variety of terminal homophobia.

Islamic ISIS throws gay men from tall buildings as we speak. Perhaps victim solidarity is more important than lethal Sharia.  LGBT and Muslim voters, albeit odd bedfellows, should go all the way for Hillary.


If you must put a selfie of your junk on the internet, you are a millennial or a musterbator.  The latter is a dystopic youngster, up to the age of fifty it appears, whose habits and social life, are more virtual than real. Adult gamers take a bow here. Internet addicts also feel compelled to join every social network and dating service that will have them. For the most part, the geek cohort is needy, seedy, reclusive, and greedy.


The mustabator sees no distinction between exposure and exhibitionism. Former Congressman Anthony Weiner (D, NY), husband to Huma Abedin, Hillary’s gal Friday, is an iconic if not chronic mustabator. The Weiner/Abedin demographic is likely to be Clintonista down to the last nerd.


Suggesting that radio, television, public broadcasting, Hollywood, and the Press might be in the tank again for the Clintons is redundant if not superfluous.  As with Obama, the so-called entertainment industry, nee mainstream media, is in it to win it for the Clintons. With 18 months of media makeover, Hillary might get elected -and canonized.

Girly Men

The big nuggets in Hillary’s political purse might be Republicans. Think about it. Leadership on the Right at the moment is spelled Boehner and McConnell. A Republican Congress did not, or will not, compel the former Secretary of State to come clean about Benghazi or her emails. Indeed, in her last appearance before the “boys club,” she bitch-slapped Jenkins Hill. Collectively, the male majority at the Capitol is afraid of Mrs. Clinton. How does any individual Republican girly man expect to whip Hillary in a 2016 cage match?



Cooking the Intelligence Books

March 23, 2015

“Love is whatever you can still betray.” – John Le Carre

There was a time that intelligence estimates were cloaked in secrecy. Peer review, such that it was, was limited to a few analysts with security clearances, analysts that were not necessarily substantive experts. The iconic Intelligence report is the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), a document that is supposed to represent an Intelligence Community consensus. In practice, a recurring NIE might be dusted off once a year and circulated to up to 17 agencies for “coordination” where “happy” might be changed to “glad.” With the exception of statistics, estimates were seldom changed substantially before being filed away for another year.

Any agency within the IC that might have a factual or analytical disagreement is allowed to take a “footnote” to an NIE which will contain the specifics of any disagreement.

An NIE footnote is as likely to be read as the body of an NIE itself is read. Recurring intelligence reports are read with the same relish as congressional bills are read by congressmen. As long as estimates contain enough threat data to justify departmental budgets, as with domestic spending bills, few politicians care much about analytical effectiveness or any correspondence with the real world. Spending, not truth, reflection or restraint, is the sine qua non of American politics and governance.

The link between Intelligence and defense spending is fairly explicit. The circuit between Intelligence and Intelligence spending is even more direct. With the IC, the folks who define the threat get to write their own meal tickets. Take the Islamist threat since 9/11. Any agency that can work “terror” into their mission statement is likely to enjoy a funding windfall.

Alas, were funding tied to performance, the IC and the DOD might have to have to raise funds like Public Television or the Girl Scouts.

Nonetheless, the national security business has changed in significant ways since the advent of an Intelligence czar in 2004, the so-called Director of National Intelligence. Heretofore, Intelligence estimates were classified. Now big reports also have a redacted version available to the Press. All the while, the specifics of threat might be obfuscated.

Unlike German Nazis, Japanese Imperialists, and Russian Communists of yore, the Arab/Persian/Muslim threat does not have any official cognates where the shooters, bombers, or throat cutters might be named or tied to race, religion, country, or ideology. Words like Arab, Persian, terrorist, Islam, Islamism, Muhammadanism, Islamofascism or the like are prohibited by fiat.

Unlike previous global threats, contemporary Intelligence reports would have you believe that the last fifty years of terror and small wars are without a common thread, without an ideology. Ninety or more nations might be sending religiously motivated jihadists to Sunni Arab ISIS, yet that statistic is of little consequence. Terror victim statistics might have reached an apogee but that fact is of little moment either. You might speak of radicals, militants, extremists, and criminals, but none of these are to be paired with religion, ideology, or Islamic culture.

Thus a national security assessment today is at once officially transparent and functionally opaque at the same time – for the political hustler, the best of both worlds. Alas, transparency, or should we say propaganda, cuts two ways. The 2015 DNI Worldwide Threat Assessment for Congress compared to the 2014 edition is an example. The deus ex machina has now been added to the DNI’s bag of tricks.

Shia Hezb’allah, and Shia Iran disappeared from the threat index in 2015. This is the same Hezb’allah that is the Shia equivalent of Sunni ISIS. Clearly, the latest DNI unclassified threat assessment was written with Shia readers in mind.

The elevation of Cuba to BFF is negligible because Havana hasn’t been a threat to Miami Beach since Khrushchev went shoeless at the United Nations. Any diminution of the Hezb’allah (literally, the party of God) and the Nuclear Persian threats is another matter. A nuclear/terrorist Shia theocracy in the Middle East changes every strategic dynamic; with Israel, with Arabia, with the larger Sunni world, and with NATO.

The motives for cooking the Shia threat are a grab bag of possibilities. Foremost is the specter of concessions to Iran designed to prime the pump for team Obama legacy, in short, a nuclear deal with Tehran at any price. A weak and/or failing American President is an easy mark for Shia ayatollahs with unlimited tenure.

Like the Cuba rapprochement, a lame duck American administration would like to put a Persian “peace” paper in the plus column. Never mind that the Persian priests are unlikely to sacrifice their parity ace to the numerically superior Sunni. At the moment, the Islam bomb is a Sunni monopoly. Only a Shia bomb balances the Sunni/Shia sectarian equation. Nuclear parity for apocalyptic Muslim sectarians would be the strategic equivalent of certain Armageddon for Israel.

Then there is the Syria/Iraq conundrum, two pariah regimes, fast friends of Shia Tehran. Sunni ISIS has made a caliphate of Syria and Iran, a budding empire that aspires to devour what remains of two failing pro-Iranian basket cases. ISIS is also making more than a bit of a splash in Yemen, Tunisia, and Libya.

Washington and Brussels are unwilling to confront Iran or ISIS in the flesh. Such dilemmas make for strange bedfellows. Thus America and Europe now find themselves shagging Syrian Assad, the Iranian ayatollahs, Hezb’allah, and a veritable host of unsavory anti-Sunni mercenaries and miscreants. The Levant is starting to look like a necrotic Abbott and Costello routine. Who’s on first?

And last, but not least, there is the possibility that the dangerous liaison with Shia priests is designed to punish or poke Israel, especially Bibi Netanyahu. In every Arab or Persian political stew, anti-Semitism is sure to be one of the ingredients.

Given the number of times that America has changed sides in the Middle East, only one thing is certain. Neither Sunni nor Shia can trust Washington today, especially an erratic if not incoherent team Obama. Israel especially, with existential skin in the game, has every reason to be wary of motives in Brussels and Washington too, lest Israel become so much collateral damage like the women, children, and Christians of North Africa the Levant.

Withal, one other conclusion is now possible. The American Intelligence Community just might be another Beltway hooker, similar in many respects to the academic and think tank camp followers that surround Washington.  As long as the funding is unlimited, the Intelligence Community seems willing to provide any service or any answer that pays.

Alas, truth is a candid bitch, she can’t be bought. The American Intelligence Community, in contrast, has become just another Washington DC streetwalker.


This essay appeared in the 3/23/2015 edition of American Thinker.


Broken Arrow

March 22, 2015

Policy is a worldview, a kind of wishful thinking. Intelligence is the real world, a wilderness of untidy facts that may or may not influence policy. The policymaker thinks he knows the answer. The intelligence officer and national security analyst have the much tougher tasks of confirming or changing minds.

When Intelligence fails to provide a true and defensible estimate, a clear picture of threat, policy becomes a rat’s nest of personal and political agendas where asserted conclusions and political correctness become the loudest voices in the room.  American national security analysis has been poisoned by such toxins. An Intelligence report these days might be any estimate that supports the politics of the moment. Truth today is an afterthought at best and an orphan at worst.

Alas, corrupt Intelligence is the midwife of strategic fiasco. Four contemporary failures provide illustrations: revolutionary theocracy, the Islam bomb, imperial Islamism, and the new Cold War.

Back to Theocracy

The Persian revolution of 1979 was arguably the most significant strategic surprise of the last half of the 20th Century. Yes, more significant than the fall of Soviet Communism. The precipitous fall of the Soviet Bloc, however, was another bell weather event unanticipated by Intelligence analysis. The successful religious coup in Iran, heretofore an American client regime, now provides a model for all Muslim states where the default setting among tribal autocracies is now theocracy not democracy. In the wake of the Communist collapse, Fukuyama argued that the democratic ideal was triumphant, an end of history as we knew it, the evolutionary consequence of progressive dialects. Fukuyama was wrong, tragically wrong. History is a two-way street that runs forward as well as backwards.

The fall of the Soviet monolith was not the end of anything. It was followed by profound regression, an era of religious irredentism. Worrisome as the Cold War was, the relationship with Moscow was fairly well managed. Who can argue today that East Europe or the Muslim world is more stable or peaceful than it was three decades ago?

The Persian revolution of 1979, not only reversed the vector of Muslim politics, but the triumph of Shia imperialism blew new life into the Shia/Sunni sectarian fire, a conflict that had been smoldering for a thousand years or more. The theocratic victory in Tehran also raised the ante for Israel too, now confronted by state sponsored Shia and Sunni antagonists, Hezb’allah, Fatah, and Hamas.

Shia Hezb’allah calls itself the party of God! Those in the Intelligence Community who continue to insist that religion is not part of the mix, have yet to explain why God is only part of the conversation on the Islamic side of the equation.

Global Islamic terror is now metastasizing at an alarming rate. More ominous is the assent of the Shia clergy, apocalyptic ayatollahs, a lowering of the nuclear threshold in the Middle East. Sunni ISIS by comparison is just another tactical terror symptom on the Sunni side – and yet another strategic warning failure too.

Tehran is in the cat bird’s seat, on the cusp of becoming a nuclear superpower. Nuclear Iran changes every strategic dynamic: with Israel, with Arabia, and also with NATO. A Shia bomb is the shortcut to checkmate the more numerous, albeit more primitive, Sunni. Iran will not be “talked out” of the most potent tool in imperial Shia kit – and the related quest for parity with Arabian apostates.

The Islam Bomb

The Islam bomb has been with us for years, in Sunni Pakistan, although you might never know that if you followed the small wars follies in South Asia. The enemy, as represented by American analysis is atomized, a cast of bit players on the subcontinent. First, America was fighting a proxy war with the Soviets. When the Russians departed, the enemy became the murderous Taliban followed by al Qaeda. Both now make common cause with almost every stripe of mujahedeen today. In the 25 years since the Soviet withdrawal, Afghanistan has been reduced now to a rubble of narco-terror and tribalism. If we can believe bulletins from the Pentagon or the Oval Office, America is headed for the Afghan exit in the next two years – maybe. Throughout, the real threat in South Asia remains unheralded – and unmolested.

Nuclear Pakistan is one car bomb, or one AK-47 clip, away from another Taliban theocracy. This is not the kind of alarm that has been raised by the Intelligence Community. Hindu India probably understands the threat, Shia Persia surely understands the Sunni threat, and just as surely, Israel understands that a Sunni bomb is the raison d’etre for a more proximate Shia bomb. Who would argue that the Sunni Saudis need nuclear “power”? Nonetheless, Riyadh is now in the game too.  The most unstable corner of the globe is now host to a nuclear power pull.

The American national security establishment seems to be clueless on all of this. Indeed, when a unique democracy like Israel tries to illuminate a portion of the nuclear threat before the American Congress, the Israeli prime minister is stiff-armed by the Oval Office. If Washington failed with Pakistan and North Korea, why would anyone, let alone the Israelis, believe that Wendy Sherman is a match for the nuclear pipedreams of apocalyptic Shia priests.

Alas, the motive force behind a Shia bomb is not Israeli capabilities or intentions. Israel is a stable democracy where any territorial ambitions are limited to the traditional Jewish homeland. Israel is no threat to Persia or Arabia.  Pakistan, in contrast, is like much of the Sunni world today, another internecine tribal or sectarian wildfire waiting for a match.

The advent of the Islam bomb in Asia was not just a strategic surprise, but the step-child of strategic apathy. The folly of taking sides with the Sunni has now come home to roost. Iran is about to go for the atomic brass ring too, with the Saudis in trail, and there’s not much that America can/will do except mutter about secret diplomacy and toothless sanctions. Of course, there’s always the option of blaming Jews when appeasement fails.

Imperial Islam

The Ummah problem, the Muslim world, has now replaced the Soviet empire, as Churchill would have put it, as the “riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” There are four dimensions to the Islamic conundrum: the Shia/Sunni rift, intramural secular/religious conflicts, kinetic antipathy towards Israel and the West writ large, and the failure of analysis, especially strategic Intelligence, to unwrap the Muslim onion in any useful way. Imperial Islam, dare we say Islamofascism, now threatens secular autocracy and democracy on all points of the compass.

Islamic imperialism is a decentralized global movement. Nonetheless, the various theaters are united by tactics, strategy, ideology, and objectives. The tactics are jihad, small wars, and terror. The strategy is the imposition of Shariah Law. The ideology is the Koran and the Hadith. And the objective is a Shia or Sunni Islamic Caliphate – for infidels, a distinction without difference.

Muslim religious proselytizers and jihad generals in the field make no secret of any of this. The problem isn’t that some Muslims dissent from this agenda, the problem is that the West, especially national security analysts, cannot/will not believe or accept what Islamic imperialists say aloud, about themselves. The enemy is hiding in plain sight, yet the Intelligence Community doesn’t have the integrity or courage to make a clear call.

Noted British criminal psychiatrist Theodore Dahlrymple captures the bizarre logic of appeasement:

“Racial, religious and cultural identity are morally important in politics, precisely what so many people would like to deny because it can so easily unleash the vilest political passions. Something that is true, say our people of goodwill to themselves, could have nasty consequences; therefore it is not true.”

Propaganda provides many of the strategic “tells” in any conflict. The Nemstov murder in the shadow of the Kremlin provides an example. The knee-jerk reaction of politician and pundits in America was to implicate Russian culture, the Kremlin, or Vladimir Putin.

Contrast the Nemstov blame game with any or every recent Islamist atrocity and the nuclear race in the Ummah. With these, the knee-jerk reaction is to defend Islam, more concern for Islamism and the religious equivalence shibboleth than the nuclear threat or Jewish, Christian, and apostate heads that are now literally rolling on a global scale. In a recent US State Department brief, we are told by State Department spokesman Marie Harf that Islamic terrorism might be attributed to “unemployment” (sic).

Cold War Redux

The West can no longer take yes for an answer. The deliberate resuscitation of the Cold War midst a host of tactical defeats in the Ummah is probably one of the worst foreign policy choices on record.

The old Soviet Union: took down the Berlin Wall, relinquished former satellites, dismantled the Warsaw Pact military alliance, and purged East Europe of nuclear weapons. In response, America and the EU dismantled Yugoslavia, taking the Muslim side we might add, and aggressively expanded NATO up to the traditional Russian border. The “End of (totalitarian) History” as we knew it wasn’t enough. Any vestigial associations with Moscow were relentlessly undermined. The American sponsored coup, orchestrated by Victoria Nuland at the US State Department, with likely help from the CIA, in Ukraine is the best and most recent example.

The “regime change” strategy in Europe has degenerated into some petulant version of nuclear chicken with the Russians. The American embassies in Moscow and Kiev regularly host anti-Putin dissidents in Ukraine and Russia

Regime change folly has lowered the nuclear threshold in South Asia, the Mideast, and now East Europe. Sevastopol and Kiev are side shows. The real target for Brussels and Washington is Moscow – and the Putin regime. The idea that the Kremlin or Russians can be undone or manipulated by: black operations, cyber war, sanctions, propaganda, or provocations is naïve and reckless. Putin is not a Pahlavi, Gadhafi, Assad, or Yanukovych.

Russians were very helpful in ridding Syria of chemical weapons and clearing the Ukraine of nuclear weapons.  Moscow and Putin have the potential also to be very useful against terror, nuclear proliferation, and resolving the Levant lunacy too.

House of Representatives minority leader Pelosi recently lamented losing the “public relations” war with Russia. The American Secretary of State responded that Russian Television (RT) was responsible (sic). The more believable narrative spun by the Kremlin might be closer to the mark. Truth is a powerful ally, especially when it’s coupled with propaganda.

The origin of the new Cold War may have domestic origins. Neither major American political party has a clue as what to do with the metastasizing Muslim problem. Indeed, both sides gag on words like Islam, Muslim, or Mohammed. As 2016 approaches, both parties desperately need to change the subject and find a foreign policy to run on. Regime change in Russia seems to be the consensus choice for American demagogues, Right and Left.

The idea that domestic “politics stops at the border” was always honored more in the breach than anywhere else. The politics of personal destruction is a time honored tradition in America, especially on the Left. That standard has now been folded into the foreign relations bag of tricks. Henry Kissinger claims that “demonization” is not policy. That may be true in any real politic sense, but the Putin bogyman is an ideal straw man for the next American presidential election. Proxy war abroad seems to be the safe sex of domestic politics.

What Now?

The American Intelligence Community is now the largest (17 agencies and uncountable contractors) and most expensive data collection and processing complex in history. Unfortunately, this gold-plated leviathan is undone by inferior analysis; indeed, estimates and reports that are more political than prudent. Withal, existential functions like strategic warning may be in freefall.

The obvious solution would be to take the strategic warning and national estimative functions out from under the IC, and the Executive Branch, and give those tasks to some apolitical body, assuming of course that an impartial forum might be sustained beyond the control of any branch of government. Realistically, it’s hard to believe that any American political party would sponsor an independent and uncontrollable voice of candor or objectivity.

Nonetheless, there are small things that might be done to make a huge difference. During the Cold War, USAF Intelligence ran a service of common concern for the IC called “Soviet Awareness.” The purpose of that program at Bolling AFB was to educate novice intelligence officers and FBI agents about the Soviet threat. The program included Russian history, the rise and spread of Communism, Marxist ideology, and Soviet military capabilities.

Ironically, the inter-agency program that answered the question “why we fight” was discontinued by James Clapper when he became the USAF Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence. Clapper is now the Director of National Intelligence. The Soviet Awareness resources were reallocated to the information processing function. Today there is no awareness program of common concern on Russian, Islamist, or any other threats.

Clapper threw the threat baby out with the Soviet bathwater. Indeed, in most service schools, discussing Islamic ideology or religion is off limits. If any soldier or Intelligence officer were to ask: “Why do we fight?” the answer today would have to be, “trust me.”

The real tragedy of Intelligence failure today is the burden born by American veterans, servicemen and women: the dead, crippled, and maimed.  “Why we fight?” is a leadership deficit, the forgotten readiness issue. Troops don’t have a clear picture of the enemy or the ideology in play in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Arabia, the Philippines, and Africa. They will know even less about the rationale for serving in East Europe should another conflict be engineered with Russia.

Indeed, the Pentagon and the Oval Office throw lives at small wars that generals and politicians have no intention of declaring, justifying, or winning – by their own admission.  The Commander-in-Chief says the he seeks outcomes where there are no victors or vanquished. Indeed!

Traditionally, we like to think of collection and associated clandestine operations as the sharp end of the Intelligence spear. In fact, analysis is the cutting edge. Unfortunately, that edge is gone today. You could do worse than think of Intelligence analysis as the Broken Arrow in the national security quiver.

We may not know why we fight today, but there is little mystery anymore about why we fail.


The importance of information is seldom self-evident. Even if significance were obvious, information is still not knowledge. And clearly knowledge is not wisdom. Just as surely, only conscience allows an analyst to know the difference. All key judgments must be accompanied by courage and conviction too; courage to communicate to policy mandarins, or voters, with enough force to prompt action. Repetition is often the midwife of acceptance.

Good data and good analysis might be necessary, but never sufficient. Bridging the gap between analysis and acceptance is often a bridge too far for the timid. The national security continuum is a perilous enterprise. The messenger is always in danger of being shot. Alas, truth is an equal opportunity offender. It doesn’t care who gets hurt.

Nonetheless, changing minds is the object of any good Intelligence. Policy and action is only stimulated by an altered consciousness about the subject at hand. Prudent policy is a function of correct data, honest analysis, moral certainty, and rhetorical skill – written or spoken.

Alas, none of these self-evident, common sense observations, with the possible exception of abundant evidence, play much of a role in American threat analysis these days. A very expensive and growing Intelligence Community  is now the weak link in the national security chain. Any speculations about the catastrophic failures of American foreign policy in the past fifty years should begin with the “wilderness of mirrors,” James Angleton’s metaphor for Intelligence praxis.


  1. Murphy Donovan was the last Director of Research and Russian (nee Soviet) Studies at USAF Intelligence, the directorate that staffed the associated Soviet Awareness Program. He served under General James Clapper.



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