“Trump Approved the Turkish Invasion of Syria”

Truth, they say, is the first casualty of war. Here’s one:

On Oct. 6, the day President Trump spoke to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and gave tacit approval for a Turkish military invasion, the American military had around 1,000 troops in Syria.

Isn’t there a clear difference between acquiescence in an action and approval of it? I’ve acquiesced in the Trump presidency; it doesn’t follow, and isn’t true, that I “approve” of it, whether explicitly or tacitly. What is the evidence for the claim that Trump approved of, or “gave approval for,” the Turkish invasion of Syria? Continue reading

Tulsi Gabbard vs. Liberal McCarthyism (2)

The New York Times, covering Hillary Clinton’s reputation-destroying claim that Tulsi Gabbard is being “groomed” by the Russian government to undermine the Democrats in the 2020 election.

Headline:

Tulsi Gabbard Lashes Back at Hillary Clinton After Claim of Russian Influence

Why not “Hillary Clinton Floats Unverified Conspiracy Theory About Tulsi Gabbard?” Never mind that she did it while criticizing Donald Trump’s reliance on unverified conspiracy theories (the relevant segment is about 35 minutes into the interview). Continue reading

Tulsi Gabbard vs. Liberal McCarthyism (1)

If there’s anything you might have thought “we’d” learned from the Trump presidency, it’s that well poisoning, guilt-by-association, and reputation-destruction-by-innuendo were all thoroughly bad ideas. Evidently, this isn’t what the leaders of the Democratic Party or the Democratic Party establishment have learned. What they’ve learned is that well poisoning, guilt-by-association, and reputation-destruction by innuendo are useful instruments for the conduct of internecine warfare against ideological positions they don’t like or don’t understand. Continue reading

Chicken Kiev: Misframing the Trump-Ukraine Controversy

It’s remarkable how the Trump-Ukraine story has reflexively been described as a case of Trump’s “courting Ukrainian interference in American politics” rather than as Trump’s interfering in Ukrainian politics, or even more precisely, as Trump’s abortive attempt to make an intervention into the Ukrainian criminal justice system. The latter strikes me as a more straightforward description of what actually happened.

DES MOINES — Allegations that President Trump courted foreign interference from Ukraine to hurt his leading Democratic rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr., dominated presidential politics on Saturday, as Mr. Biden demanded a House investigation of Mr. Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s leader and as Mr. Trump lashed out, denying wrongdoing without releasing a transcript of the call.

I heard one pundit try to justify the “courting interference” description by claiming that in asking the Ukrainians to investigate Hunter Biden, Trump was legitimizing Ukraine’s sending covert operatives to the United States to circumvent the American criminal justice system–presumably to abduct Biden for trial (or worse) in the way that the Israeli Mossad abducted Adolph Eichmann in 1960. I guess that’s one interpretation–a highly speculative one that involves a gigantic leap beyond any evidence we have, but an interpretation nonetheless. Continue reading

Khizr Khan and the Wages of Self-Sacrifice

Everyone–or at least all of America–seems to be talking about Khizr Khan’s speech at the Democratic National Convention.

Am I the only person who found Khizr Khan’s message depressing rather than uplifting? I understand the need to put Donald Trump in his place, and sympathize with the desire to stick it to him. And yes, there was something inspiring about the spirit if not the letter of Khan’s speech.

But as for the content of the speech, it hit all the wrong notes. Translated, it seemed to be saying the following: Continue reading

The “No Boots on the Ground” Fraud

I spent a fair bit of time during the fall of 2014 boring the readers of this blog with my insistence that despite Obama’s “promise(s)” not to put “boots on the ground” in Syria, he would eventually find some disingenuous, incremental way of putting them there. Since “boots on the ground” doesn’t really mean anything, military speaking, the phrase is practically designed to guarantee plausible deniability: you can promise not to put “boots on the ground,” then send military personnel to the relevant place, and then deny that that’s what you meant by “boots on the ground.” No, no: “boots on the ground” referred, all along, to those military personnel that we haven’t (yet) sent, not the boot-wearing ones that now happen to be there.

I may be a newly-minted Democrat, but I’m not dumb, amnesiac, or loyal enough to our President to forget that this is just a tired variant on the semantic game that the Bush II Administration played with the phrase “weapons of mass destruction.” As we all by now know (or ought to know), very strictly speaking, weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq as a result of the 2003 invasion; it’s just that the WMD we found found bore no relation to the WMD that furnished the rationale for the invasion. So if the invasion of Iraq was predicated on “finding weapons of mass destruction,” very narrowly conceived, well, it was a great success: weapons were found. But this is just a pathetic way of saving a pathetic thesis. The war was predicated on finding usable stockpiles of WMD, and precisely none of those were found.

Continue reading

Civilization, Its Enemies, and the Dumbest Conversation about ISIS on the Internet

And the worst thing is, I’m a participant in it. It’s taking place at a blog called Neo-Neocon. Feel free to visit, and feel free to wade through the combox (that’s not a recommendation)–at least if you have some time to waste, and don’t mind the prospect of sacrificing a few thousand brain cells in the process.

I thought I went there to take issue with the idea of U.S. military intervention in Syria. But that no longer seems to be the issue. Apparently, I’m the issue. As commenter “blert” puts it:

Khawaja is a very strange critter, blog wise.

Based upon a first pass Google-up:

1) Out of the closet gay model of Pakistani descent…

2) Brainy enough to make it/ fake it in academe…

3) And alienated enough to construct what seems to be a totally synthetic name… or some homage to the past or to culture. Any connection is too obscure for Westerners.

4) Probably engaged in blog jihad. This is now commonplace among those Muslims with advanced literacy. Blog jihad is used to inject cultural demoralization among kafir elites, so it can be no surprise that this player advocates the classic Libertarian script.

So I guess that makes me an alienated, low IQ gay Libertarian jihadi pseudo-academicwith looks to die for. Things could be worse.

Postscript, September 7, 2014: For a notably more intelligent discussion of the subject, read this post by Brandon Christensen at Notes on Liberty. I regret that I haven’t had the time to give the idea of intervention-in-Syria the thrashing it deserves, but I hope that everyone so inclined (i.e., disinclined to intervention in Syria) will take some time out to make their sentiments known, above all to their political representatives.

Postscript, September 8, 2014: I haven’t given the idea of intervention-in-Syria the thrashing it deserves, but I guess I haven’t been able to stay silent, either.  The preceding link goes to a comment on Brandon Christensen’s comment on a recent piece by Richard Epstein, “Rand Paul’s Fatal Pacifism,” Defining Ideas (Sept 4, 2014). I’m agnostic on the recommendation that Christensen makes in the latter half of his post, but I agree with his criticisms of Epstein–as far as they go. The original Epstein piece strikes me as a problematic combination of pomposity and vapidity badly in need of a more thorough fisking than I have time to give right now.

Blog-jihad in style…with Irfan Khawaja

 

The real Khawajaenator: Maryam al-Khawaja