World

Tracinski: The Case for the U.S. Staying in Afghanistan

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Robert Tracinski, author of So Who Is John Galt Anyway? A Reader’s Guide to Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, makes a compelling case for staying in Afghanistan.

He correctly notes that leaving Afghanistan was not a good idea badly executed, but that withdrawing from Afghanistan was a bad idea, to begin with, and will only embolden America’s adversaries.

Writes Tracinski:

Advocates of staying in Afghanistan are usually accused of acting on the “sunk cost fallacy,” of throwing good money after bad on a failing venture. But in fact maintaining the status quo, with pre-withdrawal troop levels or even elevated troop levels, would have required a commitment of a few thousand troops, mostly acting in support of our Afghan allies, and a few tens of billions of dollars a year—a rounding error in our recent multi-trillion-dollar appropriations bills. In exchange, we would have gotten what we came to Afghanistan for in the first place: assurance that it never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists.

By contrast, what happens when we leave? Afghanistan is certain to become a base for terror again, and it will now be a hundred times harder to go back in again when we need to. After all, we can no longer make any credible assurances about our ability to protect people or our willingness to follow up on our commitments. They are entitled to conclude that if they help us again, we will sell them out again and then add insult to injury by implying, as President Biden did in his Monday speech, that they are cowards who aren’t willing to fight—even after they’ve been doing the bulk of the fighting and dying for years.

[…]

As one Afghan negotiator put it, “The slogan now of every single terrorist group with the jihadist mind is ‘now that we have defeated the United States and its 42 allies in Afghanistan, we can go after them anywhere.’” 

[…]

No jihadist success story can compare with the triumph of the Taliban, which faced the full might of the U.S. military only to have us slink away ignominiously. Remember that the Taliban now control more of Afghanistan than they did on September 10, 2001. How many fanatics worldwide will be inspired by this proof of the success of their cause?

Moreover, the repercussions of our abandonment of Afghanistan will be felt far beyond the Middle East. Already, Chinese propagandists are crowing that they expect an equally swift victory, with an equally ineffectual American response, when they invade Taiwan. Notice that they say “when,” not “if.” And what must the Russians be thinking right now about NATO security guarantees for the Baltic states?

This is an emboldening of our adversaries on a scale we haven’t seen since the 1970s. It is comparable to the period from 1975 to 1980—from the fall of Saigon through the Iran Hostage Crisis. It is a period of weakness that is provocative to all of our enemies.  [“Real Afghanistan Withdrawal Has Never Been Tried,“August 18, 2021.]

Read the entire essay at The Bulwark.

United Nations: “A Hotbed of Undemocratic, Unaccountable Far-Left Activism”

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Writes Donna Laframboise on the moral status of the United Nations:

“Pardon me, but the UN has no right to tell any of us what we must do. UN officials aren’t elected by the public. They’re bureaucrats. Careerists who hop from one UN post to another. Even more to the point: they are a special, protected class. Their diplomatic immunity renders them untouchable – wholly unaccountable for their actions.

“UN personnel have no skin in the game. They pay no price when they mess up. The UN was supposed to help rebuild Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake. It failed miserably. Then it made matters worse. UN peacekeepers introduced cholera to that already-traumatized nation. As 10,000 cholera deaths followed, the UN spent years denying responsibility.

“We the people have no mechanism by which to unseat UN officials – even when their incompetence kills. We have no way of turfing them from office – even when they promote harmful public policy. One day humans may achieve fulfilling lives without the aid of fossil fuels. But that day is not yet here. Much of the world is still struggling to feed itself, to access clean drinking water and medical services. Those basics depend on affordable, reliable energy – the kind that fossil fuels provide.

[…]”It’s time we ended our absurd naivety about the UN. This is a hotbed of undemocratic, unaccountable far-left activism. Its reports are best ignored.” [“Code Red Climate Hype“]


Related:

 

WSJ: The Return of ‘America Held Hostage’

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From the WSJ, The Return of ‘America Held Hostage’:

“As Taliban forces consolidate their control of Kabul, the nature of the new regime remains somewhat veiled. On the positive side, the jihadist group issued a general pardon to all government workers, some female broadcasters have returned to the air, and prominent ex-officials like former President Hamid Karzai appear to have elected to remain in the country. On the other side of the ledger, Taliban spokesmen would say only that Afghan women will enjoy their full rights under Shariah; girls’ schools have been shut down in parts of the country; teenage girls have been forced into marriage with Taliban fighters; and residents report that armed soldiers are searching apartments and taking names. A widely circulated video purports to show the jihadist group’s soldiers executing 22 unarmed Afghan army commandos after their surrender.

“One thing, however, is clear: The Taliban hold the lives of thousands of U.S. citizens—and the future of the Biden administration—in their hands. The collapse of the Ghani government left as many as 15,000 Americans and permanent residents along with an unknown number of other Westerners and foreigners trapped behind Taliban lines. Tens of thousands of Afghans employed by the old government, allied military commands and Western-oriented nonprofits are, with their family members, also desperate to leave. While U.S. forces control the Kabul airport, American citizens—and Afghans with U.S. visas—must run a gantlet of Taliban roadblocks and checkpoints to reach the American perimeter.

“As for the thousands of Americans, citizens of allied nations and endangered Afghan nationals stranded in other parts of the country, at press time U.S. officials had no plan in place to bring them to safety. Congressional offices report being deluged with pleas for help from Americans behind enemy lines and from veterans seeking help for Afghan contacts and friends.”

The White House did release this tweet:

Shouldn’t this discussion have occurred before the U.S. military pulled out?

High school students could have planned this better:

“Shouldn’t we get our friends before we bail?”

(Well at least the ones not hyper-focused on “structural racism” and the forthcoming “environmental apocalypse.”)

There seems to be more strategic planning in the dreadful Kathleen Kennedy/JJ Abrahms/non-George Lucas Star Wars sequels (and there was apparently “no plan”) than in the Biden Administration’s Afghanistan withdrawal.

Atlantic: Biden’s Betrayal of Afghans Will Live in Infamy

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George Packer at The Atlantic in remarking on how “Veterans, with their code of leaving no one behind on the battlefield, have been among the most passionate advocates for Afghan interpreters,” tells the heart-wrenching story of the fate of interpreters who worked with the U.S. and were trapped in Afghanistan and how the “chaos produced by the Biden administration’s delays has given an outsize role to sheer randomness, as twists of fate save one Afghan and doom another.”

Writes Packer:

“[O]ur abandonment of the Afghans who helped us, counted on us, staked their lives on us, is a final, gratuitous shame that we could have avoided. The Biden administration failed to heed the warnings on Afghanistan, failed to act with urgency—and its failure has left tens of thousands of Afghans to a terrible fate. This betrayal will live in infamy.”

[…]

“Today, the U.S. government is more focused on saving our own than on saving the Afghans who counted on us. For many of them, time is running out. For some, it already has.”

“All of this was foreseeable—all of it was foreseen. For months, members of Congress and advocates in refugee, veteran, and human-rights organizations have been urging the Biden administration to evacuate America’s Afghan allies on an emergency basis. For months, dire warnings have appeared in the press. The administration’s answers were never adequate: We’re waiting for Congress to streamline the application process. Half the interpreters we’ve given visas don’t want to leave. We don’t want to panic the Afghan people and cause the government in Kabul to collapse. Evacuation to a U.S. territory like Guam could lead to legal problems, so we’re looking for third-country hosts in the region. Most of the interpreters are in Kabul, and Kabul won’t fall for at least six months.”

Read the rest of Biden’s Betrayal of Afghans Will Live in Infamy.

A Recipe for Disaster in South Africa: Anti-Capitalist Ideology, Corruption, and Criminality

R W Johnson has an informative article on “Why Violence and Looting Have Exploded Across South Africa” published in the Quilette. Some of the low-lights:

“Shopping without money”

“[O]nce the rioting and looting of shops and hijacking of trucks on the highway began, with the police clearly scared and ineffective, word rapidly spread that you could go “shopping without money,” creating huge excitement among the ranks of the millions of poor and unemployed Zulus who inhabit the townships and squatter camps around Durban and Pietermaritzburg, and from there spreading into every small town of the province. Most of the looters and miscreants were unconcerned about Zuma’s fate. They simply heard along the grapevine that trouble was going on and realised that opportunity was staring them in the face.”

Poverty increases under ANC rule

When the ANC was first elected in 1994 its posters promised “Jobs, jobs, jobs!” but paid little heed to that once they were elected. In 1995 the average number of unemployed, according to official figures, was 1,698,000 or, if one took the expanded definition of unemployment, including those who had given up looking for a job, the figure was 3,321,000. With only a few exceptional periods to the contrary, that figure has grown steadily and hugely to surpass 11.4 million today. Since the unemployed have little or no income, this has also meant a huge growth in both poverty and inequality. The ANC has routinely deplored poverty and inequality but it has generally tried to pretend that this is part of the “apartheid inheritance.” As the figures show, this is the opposite of the truth.

Political cronyism under the banner of “equality”

The article also points to one of the key causes of South Africa’s decline: a political class of government workers, trade union officials, and BEE “capitalists” politically connected to government officials:

“In practice the plight of the unemployed and poor has been ignored. The government is far more concerned with the “haves” within its coalition—the BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) capitalists, the public sector workers and the trade union bosses. The government’s offer of an extra R18 billion ($1.25 billion) for already well-paid public service workers came only days before the unrest and was, effectively, an insult and a provocation for the unemployed. Similarly, Ramaphosa attempted to garner public sympathy for the “plight” of MPs—who are among the one percent best paid people in the country.”

“Most striking of all, however, is the BEE legislation which has, not surprisingly, been nominated by foreign investors as the biggest single drawback to investing in South Africa. It is, after all, effectively a tax on investmentif you want to invest in South Africa you have to more or less give away a large chunk of your equity to BEE partners who have nothing to offer by way of skills or capital other than an ability to get government ministers to take their calls. This is straightforward crony capitalism. The effect of such legislation is to push foreign investment away—at the cost of many jobs—simply in order to line the pockets of a handful of ANC-connected cronies.”

Such cronyism is not capitalism, but political cronyism.

Capitalism is a political-economic system based on the principle of individual rights, which means the separation of state and economics (just like the separation of church and state).

Under capitalism, the government’s sole purpose is to protect each individual’s rights equally. It is a system of justice. Cronyism is the practice of giving rewards based on considerations other than merit: it is a form of injustice.

A “partner” who has “nothing to offer by way of skills or capital other than an ability to get government ministers to take their calls” would not exist under capitalism, as under a free-market (the chief trait of a capitalist economy) one does not require the permission of government officials to start a business. One-acts by inalienable right.

Given the two concepts — the political cronyism of statism vs. the political freedom of capitalism — are incommensurable, what does the invalid lumping of the two as “crony capitalism” seek to accomplish? It seeks to blame capitalism for the sins of politicians and their cronies who would not survive in a free market.

Capitalism creates; statism destroys:

The result has been the destruction of large segments of South Africa’s infrastructure:

“[A]mong the mass of looters are more sinister elements. Criminals naturally flourish in such an environment, either organizing massive heists of goods or using the mayhem as cover for other crimes. But there are also clearly political elements trying to make the country ungovernable by attacking key pieces of infrastructure—there have been attacks on reservoirs, over 120 attacks on electricity sub-stations, and the road leading to the Sapref refinery in Durban (which produces one third of all South Africa’s petrol) has become so dangerous due to continuous attacks on vehicles that the refinery has had to close down completely. Already there are huge queues at garages and a major fuel crisis is building. Moreover, as soon as a shop, warehouse, or factory has been looted it is set on fire. None of these crimes produce money and the destruction of such buildings is bound to cost jobs and lead to many more people going hungry in future.”

Such infrastructure has taken decades upon decades to build, has been destroyed in a matter of days.

Why Violence and Looting Have Exploded Across South Africa is an important read.

Myth of the U.S. “Blockade” of Communist Cuban Dictatorship

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Writes Andres Oppenheimer in the Miami Herald on “When it comes to Cuba, there’s a lot of hypocrisy from the right and from the left” (2021.07.17):

[I]nstead of defending the Cuban people’s right to express themselves peacefully, these and other members of the region’s Jurassic left joined the dictators of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua in blaming the U.S. “blockade” for the protests in Cuba.

In fact, there is no “blockade.” According to Cuba’s own official figures, the island conducts trade with 70 countries around the world, including the United States. There is an embargo on U.S. trade with Cuba, which Washington imposed in 1962 after the island’s regime expropriated U.S. companies there.

And the U.S. embargo has more holes in it than a Swiss cheese. The United States is one of Cuba’ s 15 largest trading partners and the biggest exporter of food and agricultural goods to Cuba, according to U.S. government figures.

The United States ships about $276 million a year in food and medicines to Cuba. In addition, U.S. residents send $3.5 billion a year in family remittances to the island, and more than 500,000 U.S. tourists visited Cuba in 2019, at the height of Trump’s sanctions. In other words, the United States is one of Cuba’s main sources of income.

According to Reuters it was the Cuban government that blocked the import of food and medicine into Cuba:

“Cuba announced on Wednesday it was temporarily lifting restrictions on the amount of food and medicine travelers could bring into the country in an apparent small concession to demands by protesters who took to the street last weekend.”

[…]

“Still, one of the campaign’s demands was for the government to lift customs restrictions on food, medicine and hygiene products that are lacking in the country amid its worst economic crisis since the fall of former ally the Soviet Union.”

For further reading:

 

Yaron Brook on The Destruction of Freedom in Hong Kong

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Related:

  • Appeasing Dictatorship: From Munich to Hong Kong
    With little regard for this recent history, Britain is appeasing dictatorship once again. On July 1, 1997, Britain will officially give back political authority over Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China.
  • The Big Aristotle Educates King LeBron on Freedom for Hong Kong
    With his historic statement against Communist China for the ideal of free speech and the United States of America, Shaq showed a prime example of the highest moral action. Leonard Peikoff once said that to save the world is the simplest thing — all one has to do is think. Shaquille O’Neal did exactly that.
  • Jimmy Lai and the Fight for Freedom in Hong Kong
    Jimmy Lai, the entrepreneur and leader in the fight to preserve freedom in Hong Kong, describes the struggles he has endured including having his home fire-bombed, his family harassed, and his business threatened by the Chinese Communist Party.
  • Support Joshua Wong and The Hong Kong Freedom Protests
    Hong Kong’s protest leader Joshua Wong recently Tweeted this image [by @harcourtromanticist] of a painting, which imitates Liberty Leading the People (1830) by French romanticist painter Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863), whose painting is at the Louvre in Paris.

Video: Elan Journo on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

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What is at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? What does justice demand of us in this conflict?

Middle East expert Elan Journo clarifies an intimidatingly complex issue—and upends conventional views about America’s stake in it.

Elan Journo explains the essential nature of the conflict, and what has fueled it for so long. What justice demands, he shows, is that we evaluate both adversaries—and America’s approach to the conflict—according to a universal moral ideal: individual liberty. From that secular moral framework, Journo analyzes the conflict, examines major Palestinian grievances and Israel’s character as a nation, and explains what’s at stake for everyone who values human life, freedom, and progress. Journo shows us why America should be strongly supportive of freedom and freedom-seekers—but, in this conflict and across the Middle East, it hasn’t been, much to our detriment.

Elan Journo is an author & speaker analyzing culture, politics, and foreign policy from an Objectivist perspective. Read an excerpt from Journo’s book WHAT JUSTICE DEMANDS.

Matt Ridley: Brexit Saved Britain From The EU “Ming” Bureaucracy

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Writes Matt Ridley on how The EU’s petty isolationism is wrecking Europe:

Supporting Brexit used to be difficult to explain to foreigners. I remember a Mexican friend flatly refusing to believe I voted for it. “Surely you are joking,” he said, finding it hard to imagine me as a racist, isolationist xenophobe – the only kind of Brexiteer recognised by CNN, the Economist and the New York Times.

Not now, not after the vaccine fiasco; now it is easy to explain Brexit. Britain signed up early to buy the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine and approved it swiftly. The EU’s leaders: first, accused us of cutting corners on safety, thus encouraging anti-vax nonsense; second, found themselves at the back of the queue after incompetently negotiating a bad deal; third, took an age to approve it in a display of astounding bureaucratic lethargy; fourth, castigated AstraZeneca for failing to give in to pressure to allow them to jump the queue; and fifth, tried to impose a hard border in Ireland just to stop the Northern Irish getting vaccines. [!!!] These are not the actions of an ally and friend.

[…]

Here is a beautiful and cultured continent [Europe] being run as if it was the Ming empire: with mandarins deciding what should be done and how, with the same inflexible rules in every corner, with a distrust of enterprise and innovation, and with a mercantilist, zero-sum approach to trade that beggars both belief and neighbours.

At the time when the early Ming emperors were stifling China’s prosperity with centralised bureaucratic tyranny, backward Europe was transformed into the world’s most innovative and wealthy continent. It did so precisely by not being unified and centralised: by being a quilt of different countries so that entrepreneurs, inventors and artists could shop around for a congenial regime…


Related:

A Post-Brexit World
The recent vote within the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union has implicitly once again raised the issue of the right of self-determination through secession. In other words, do individuals have a right to determine under which political authority they shall live and have representation?

Brexit: Good For Britain if It Leads To More Freedom
British companies can even outperform those outside of the EU—if the British government does not compromise on the principle of liberty. That is the big ‘if.’ But the Brexit has opened up a huge opportunity for a freer, more prosperous Britain.

Pompeo: Communist China Guilty of Genocide

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According to the outgoing Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo,

Our exhaustive documentation of the PRC’s actions in Xinjiang confirms that since at least March 2017, local authorities dramatically escalated their decades-long campaign of repression against Uyghur Muslims and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups, including ethnic Kazakhs and ethnic Kyrgyz. Their morally repugnant, wholesale policies, practices, and abuses are designed systematically to discriminate against and surveil ethnic Uyghurs as a unique demographic and ethnic group, restrict their freedom to travel, emigrate, and attend schools, and deny other basic human rights of assembly, speech, and worship. PRC authorities have conducted forced sterilizations and abortions on Uyghur women, coerced them to marry non-Uyghurs, and separated Uyghur children from their families.

[…]

“…the People’s Republic of China (PRC), under the direction and control of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), has committed crimes against humanity against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other members of ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang. These crimes are ongoing and include: the arbitrary imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty of more than one million civilians, forced sterilization, torture of a large number of those arbitrarily detained, forced labor, and the imposition of draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement. The Nuremberg Tribunals at the end of World War II prosecuted perpetrators for crimes against humanity, the same crimes being perpetrated in Xinjiang.”