Monday, November 23, 2015

Letters To A French Friend

November 16, 2015

Paris will learn soon enough what we have known for some time: that President Barack Obama, shrouded in the fog of unknowing, is not a reliable friend, which is to say – he is not a fraternal friend, as the French understand fraternity.

I wonder if that expression will surprise you. You are a student of history and, as such, you owe it to yourself to drive all false but comforting thoughts from your mind, particularly now that Paris, “the city of light,” has gone dark. It is important at such moments to embrace lucidity, so that we should not go dark as well. I may point out that of the two, comforting and discomforting thoughts, comforting thoughts are the more dangerous; they lull us to sleep, when we ought to be fully awake. We are always alert to danger, unless we are put to sleep by soothing words.

Following the Islamic terrorist attack on Paris inspired by ISIS, there has been talk here in the United States of our “historic friendship” with France; once again, we have slipped Lafayette on our finger like a wedding ring. What is the difference, do you suppose, between a “fraternal” and an “historic” friendship? Fraternity is present in the soul; history is a living memory, which may be revived, to be sure, in brutal moments such as this, only to be buried once again as time passes.  

Mr. Obama has pledged to “stand by” France in its hour of mourning. But unlike some trusting souls in your country and ours, a few of us have learned to parse carefully Mr. Obama’s sentiments. He is, after all, a gifted lawyer with a gilded tongue, just the kind of lawyer Horore Daumier used to parody in his lithographs.  How does Mr. Obama plan to “stand by” France for instance? With a tear in his eye no doubt, and a fresh bouquet of flowers in his hands. To be sure, everyone in the United States who wishes you well is prepared to shed a tear for you. The difficulty is that ISIS is prepared to shed its blood. And blood is thicker than tears, more importunate; blood has a voice. In Islam, everything is connected by blood.

Let me try to answer your question.

Of course ISIS must be destroyed, the sooner the better.

Here in Connecticut, as you may know, the state’s U.S. Congressional Delegation, its two U.S. Senators and five U.S. House Representatives, are all Democrats. Governor Dannel Malloy is also a Democrat. All the Constitutional officers are Democrats, and the state’s General Assembly has been dominated by the Democratic Party for decades. Connecticut’s one party state, particularly when there is no effective resistance from Republicans, tends to march in lockstep with the nominal head of the Democratic Party, who is President Barack Obama, a rotten apple in the basket, some say, who has spoiled the bunch.

Mr. Obama, it must be said, has not been good for Democrats in the U.S. Congress, both Houses of which have fallen into Republican hands. His Middle East foreign policy, which now depends upon the fragile mercies of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Ayatollah Khamenei in Iran, is an inglorious mess. Iran wants a nuclear weapon, and will get one under the terms of a treaty – though none dare call it such -- unvetted by the Congress arranged by Mr. Obama, his new Secretary of State John Kerry and Mr. Khamenei, over the hearty objections of Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu and not a few Republicans in Congress. Mr. Putin wants to be the energy czar or Europe and Asia; his most aggressive business competitor is Saudi Arabia.  

Through diplomatic neglect, the north of Iraq is now held by ISIS storm-troopers, Lybia may not survive the overthrow of the half mad Moammar Khadafy, and Iran appears to be the victor in the showdown between Mr. Obama and Mr. Khamenei.

Even from a progressive point of view, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s putsch in Lybia must be regarded as a diplomatic and military failure. Libya, I’ve noted in some columns, “is Mrs. Clinton’s Iraq.” At the very least, the military operation in Iraq under the much derided President George Bush The Younger must be regarded as a success. To be sure, once the preponderance of American troops had been withdrawn, the political structure in Iraq collapsed. Mr. Obama was unwilling to continue support to a government that had rebuffed a minority Shiite representation, both in its legislative arm and its military. Also, it should not be forgotten that Mr. Obama had pledged during his first campaign for the presidency to withdraw troops from Iraq – in which Mr. Bush had engaged in a “war of choice” – and refocus his quickly dwindling energies on Afghanistan, in which the United States had engaged in “a war of necessity.” Mr. Obama’s campaign pledges are the floorboards of the gibbet before which we now stand, waiting patiently for the hangman.

In Libya, Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton left behind a burning embassy compound, a dead U.S. Ambassador and several brave defenders who thought they might be able to turn away from the compound in Benghazi crowds of “protestors” enraged by a video roundly condemned by Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama. That video was, we now understand, was a political campaign placebo. If Khadafy was Saddam Hussein, Libya was Iraq – without the military victory. The orphan-producing ISIS is chiefly responsible for the Syrian refugees now making their way up the spine of Eastern Europe to France, Italy and Germany, among other places. ISIS no doubt is capable of producing many more widows and orphans. A Christian widow is produced when her husband’s head is cut off, and his progeny, now orphans, are made into pre-pubescent concubines and soldiers. Those who escape the processing flee to Europe. But make no mistake: The efficient and final cause of orphans and widows in northern Iraq and Syria is ISIS – which must be destroyed, if only to spare Europe and the United States a further inrush of widows and orphans.

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