Nazi Party, Adolf Hitler, Liberal Democrats and Totalitarian Rule

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 23rd, 2013

Politics 101

Before WWII there were many who Admired the Great Things Authoritative and Charismatic Dictators were Doing

The Nazi Party is one of the most documented rises of totalitarianism.   A system of government where everything and everyone is subordinated to the state.  Where the state comes first.  And the people are expendable.  Ruled by a single person.  A charismatic leader.  Who the people pledge their allegiance to.    And follow obediently to the ends of the earth.  We can learn a lot by studying what happened in Nazi Germany about the quest for absolute power.  For though party ideology may differ the path to that party is eerily similar wherever, and whenever, you look.

Of course, some are infatuated by an all-powerful state.  Not for the crimes against their people.  But what an all-powerful state can do.  Where enlightened individuals can do what’s best for the people without having to deal with a political opposition.  Just read what one beloved world leader wrote about Adolf Hitler prior to the outbreak of hostilities that embroiled the world in World War II:

Other musings concern how great the autobahns were – ‘the best roads in the world’ – and how, having visited Hitler’s Bavarian holiday home in Berchtesgaden and the tea house built on top of the mountain for him.

He declared; ‘Who has visited these two places can easily imagine how Hitler will emerge from the hatred currently surrounding him to emerge in a few years as one of the most important personalities that ever lived.’

This was written just a few years before Hitler invaded Poland.  Up until the war broke out there were many who admired the great things authoritative and charismatic leaders were doing.  Mussolini made the trains run on time.  And FDR was so smitten with Joseph Stalin and the great things he was doing in the Soviet Union that it broke his heart when the Soviets signed a non-aggression pact with the Nazis.  Allowing the invasion of Poland.  And starting World War II.  While splitting up Poland between the Nazis and the communists.  Basically removing Poland from the map.

The Left has used the Expanding Size of the Federal Government to Harass and Silence their Political Enemies

This is why Nazi Germany is so interesting as a study in politics.  For the Nazis rose to power within the political process.  They won elections.  And then used their legitimate powers to expand their power.  Often helped by the clever use of propaganda.  Misinformation.  And brutal criminal acts.  Which becomes easier to do as your powers grow.  And you place yourself above the law.  And become a nation of a charismatic ruler.  Instead of a nation of laws.

With the recent scandals of the Obama administration (Benghazi, the obstruction of free speech, the persecution of conservatives, etc.) some are making comparisons to Watergate.  While some even go so far as to compare it to Nazi Germany.  Of course, President Obama and the Democrats are NOT Nazis.  In fact, they are diametrically opposed to much Nazi ideology.  Just to give one example take immigration.  The Nazis believed in a pure Germanic race and opposed immigration of non-Germans.  While Democrats want to throw open the borders.  So the left are not Nazis.  But if you read the 25 points of the Nazi Party platform of 1920 you will see that the left employs many of the same tools to rise to power as the Nazis—and all totalitarian regimes—used in their rise to power.  Here are some of the 25 points.

9. All citizens must have equal rights and obligations.

12. In consideration of the monstrous sacrifice in property and blood that each war demands of the people personal enrichment through a war must be designated as a crime against the people. Therefore we demand the total confiscation of all war profits.

13. We demand the nationalization of all (previous) associated industries (trusts).

15. We demand an expansion on a large scale of old age welfare.

16. We demand the creation of a healthy middle class and its conservation, immediate communalization of the great warehouses and their being leased at low cost to small firms, the utmost consideration of all small firms in contracts with the State, county or municipality.

18. We demand struggle without consideration against those whose activity is injurious to the general interest. Common national criminals, usurers, Schieber and so forth are to be punished with death, without consideration of confession or race.

20. The state is to be responsible for a fundamental reconstruction of our whole national education program, to enable every capable and industrious German to obtain higher education and subsequently introduction into leading positions. The plans of instruction of all educational institutions are to conform with the experiences of practical life. The comprehension of the concept of the State must be striven for by the school [Staatsbuergerkunde] as early as the beginning of understanding. We demand the education at the expense of the State of outstanding intellectually gifted children of poor parents without consideration of position or profession.

23. We demand legal opposition to known lies and their promulgation through the press. In order to enable the provision of a German press, we demand, that:

a. All writers and employees of the newspapers appearing in the German language be members of the race:

b. Non-German newspapers be required to have the express permission of the State to be published. They may not be printed in the German language:

c. Non-Germans are forbidden by law any financial interest in German publications, or any influence on them, and as punishment for violations the closing of such a publication as well as the immediate expulsion from the Reich of the non-German concerned. Publications which are counter to the general good are to be forbidden. We demand legal prosecution of artistic and literary forms which exert a destructive influence on our national life, and the closure of organizations opposing the above made demands.

25. For the execution of all of this we demand the formation of a strong central power in the Reich. Unlimited authority of the central parliament over the whole Reich and its organizations in general. The forming of state and profession chambers for the execution of the laws made by the Reich within the various states of the confederation. The leaders of the Party promise, if necessary by sacrificing their own lives, to support by the execution of the points set forth above without consideration.

Both the Nazis and the left call for an egalitarian society.  For example, everyone should have access to health care.  While everyone is obligated to pay their fair share (i.e., the health care mandate forcing people to buy health insurance).  Both call war a crime against the people and want to confiscate war profits.  Among other profits.  The left wants to get rid of the profit incentive and capitalism while the Nazis wanted to just nationalize private sector industries.  The Nazis wanted to get the elderly dependent on the state by expanding old age welfare.  Just as the left does with Social Security and Medicare (and now Obamacare).  The Nazis wanted to implement price controls to help the middle class.  The left’s solution to the high cost of health care (in part) is price controls.  Forcing doctors and hospitals to work for less.  The Nazis wanted to severely punish those who are injurious to the state agenda.  The left used the IRS and other agencies of the federal government to make life uncomfortable for those who actively oppose their agenda (case in point the recent scandals plaguing the Obama administration).  The Nazis controlled education as “early as the beginning of understanding.”  The left had the government take over the student loan program to get more kids into college where they can further indoctrinate them.  The left controls public education.  That gets out the vote to help Democrats win elections.  And the left is always trying to create/expand state-run childcare.  To start indoctrinating children as “early as the beginning of understanding.”  The Nazis wanted to ban any free speech that did not help the general good.  As the state determined what that general good was.  The left marginalizes the one network (Fox) that doesn’t endorse the left’s agenda.  They’ve tried to muzzle free speech on the one media outlet they did not dominate (talk radio) by trying to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine.  And they’ve talked about extending that to the Internet to shut down any opposition there.  The Nazis called for a strong central authority with unlimited powers to protect the general interest.  The left has expanded the size of the federal government under the guise to protect the general interest.  And the recent scandals show the use of that growing central authority to harass and silence their political enemies.  Conservatives.  Who are today’s scapegoat.

JFK was more Champion of the People than Seeker of Dictatorial Power unlike Today’s Democrat Party

The Nazi party did not do well until the Great Depression.  When the masses were unemployed and suffering under the war reparations of the Versailles Treaty.  The people were angry.  Frustrated.  And felt they were suffering for the crimes of others.  Then along came Adolf Hitler.  And the Nazi Party.  They did not let this crisis go to waste.  The Nazis identified a scapegoat for all of their woes.  The Jews.  With a great crisis and a scapegoat the Nazis started winning elections.  In 1928 the Nazis had 12 seats in the Reichstag.  By September of 1930, after the pain of the Great Depression was being felt, they had 107 seats.  Making them the second largest party.  At the same time the Hitler Youth junior branches started indoctrinating boys and girls as young as 10.  By July 1932 the Nazis were the largest party in the Reichstag.  The Nazis co-ruled the country as part of a coalition government.  In 1933 the Reichstag burnt down.  Another crisis too good to waste.  The Nazis (who probably started that fire) blamed the Communist Party (KPD).  The second largest party in the Reichstag.  The Nazis got the KPD banned.  Giving the Nazis majority rule.  They then suspended basic civil rights.  Because enemies of the people were everywhere.  And the government needed to protect them.  Making Germany a police state.  The Civil Service law of 1933 began the removal of Jews from every office.  The Nazis then abolished trade unions.  Forcing everyone to join the German Labor Front.  Then in March 1933 the government passed the Enabling Law.  Transferring legislative power to Hitler’s cabinet.  Creating Hitler’s dictatorship.  As the future of Germany could no longer be left to the chaos of an elected body.  It needed the strong will of a charismatic leader who knew what was best for the German people.  And the German people followed his will obediently.  Because there were enemies all around.  And they needed someone unhindered by an elected body or law to protect them.

Liberal Democrats are NOT Nazis.  They have more ideological difference than they share.  But they do have one thing in common with the Nazis.  Their quest for power.  And in that quest for power they have used some of the same techniques the Nazis used.  Because all power-hungry people use these techniques.  They identify an enemy (Jews/conservatives).  They champion the people.  And then lie through their teeth.  Using their growing powers to consolidate even more power.  All the while the people enthusiastically support them.  Supporting the oppression of their common enemy.  Until that consolidated power begins to include them in their oppression.  Where all but the most devout Nazis regretted their earlier support of the Nazi Party.  As it was all but the most devout Nazis that suffered from the state’s oppression.

So who was that beloved world leader that wrote so admiringly of Adolf Hitler before the outbreak of World War II?  He was an American.  A Democrat.  Who actually went on to fight in World War II.  Against the Japanese.  Who went on to become president of the United States.  Fierce Cold War warrior.  And, surprisingly, endorsed economic policies that Ronald Reagan would one day endorse.  John Fitzgerald Kennedy (see How JFK secretly ADMIRED Hitler: Explosive book reveals former President’s praise for the Nazis as he travelled through Germany before Second World War posted 5/23/2013 on the Daily Mail).  Who may have had some faults.  But being a Nazi wasn’t one of them.  JFK may have wanted to use the power of government to make America better.  But he was an old school Democrat.  Who was more champion of the people than seeker of dictatorial power.  Unlike today.  Where it appears the Democrats in power use the IRS and other agencies of the federal government to oppress their political enemies.  Conservatives.  Kind of the way the Nazis oppressed their political enemies in Germany.  And like the communists oppressed their political enemies in East Germany.  Where our fierce Cold War warrior spat in the face of that communist oppression by proclaiming, “Ich bin ein Berline.”  I am a Berliner.  But today it is the Democrats that are the oppressors.  Not the ones fighting against oppression.

We’ve come a long way from JFK’s Democrat Party.

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FT148: “You only know what someone taught you.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 14th, 2012

Fundamental Truth

If we Grew up on a Deserted Island isolated from Hate we’d Probably Grow up Better Adjusted to live with One Another

No one is born a racist.  It’s something you have to learn.  Someone has to teach it to you.  If a parent is a racist chances are the child will be bombarded with racial slurs growing up.  And become a racist.  Just like his or her parent.  But if you raised a bunch of babies of different races together on a deserted island in isolation would any of them grow up to be a racist?   No.  For they wouldn’t even know what racism is.  Because the life they knew would be normal.  It would be normal for black, white, brown, red and yellow to live together.

Catholics and Protestants have spent a few centuries killing each other.  Ever since the Protestant Reformation in 1517.  People have been persecuting Jews since forever.  The Palestinians, Hezbollah and Hamas have been killing Israelis for decades.  Shiite and Sunni have also been killing each other for a very long time.  These people have hated each other so much that they just want to see the other dead.  Yet if you took a Catholic, a Protestant, a Jew, a Palestinian, a Shiite and a Sunni baby from their parents and raised them on a deserted island in isolation they wouldn’t grow up wanting to kill each other.  They wouldn’t even know they were supposed to hate each other.

Europe was just itching to go to war.  Nationalistic fervor was just bursting at the seams.  Germans, Austrians, Hungarians, French, Russians and British were ready and waiting.  Filled with nationalist pride.  Just jonesing to open a can of whup-ass on anyone that wasn’t from their own great nation.  Having learned nothing from the Crimean War.  Or the American Civil War.  Thinking they would march their magnificent armies onto the field of battle, fight a glorious battle and watch the enemy throw down their arms and run away.  Even though tactics hadn’t changed much from the Crimean War and the American Civil War.  Though the weapons were far more lethal.  Making World War I one of the bloodiest wars of all time.  But had you taken a German, an Austrian, a Hungarian, a French, a Russian and a British baby from their parents at the turn of the century and raised them on a deserted island in isolation they wouldn’t have grown up wanting to go to war with each other.  As they wouldn’t know that they were supposed to hate each other.

Of all the Things the State did Poorly perhaps the Worst was being Husband and Father

When our parents grew up they often went to bed without locking the doors to their houses.  Even during the days of Prohibition when armed gangs shot each other in the street with automatic weapons.  Today we have deadbolts and alarm systems.  And metal detectors at our schools.  For kids today are taking guns to school.  And they’re shooting people.  This didn’t happen during the days of Prohibition when gangs were armed with Thompson 45-caliber submachine guns.  Why?  Because during Prohibition there weren’t violent video games, graphic violence in movies & television and rap & hip-hop songs glorifying gun violence.  So even though we have less lethal weapons on the streets today we have more gun violence than before.  Because kids have been so desensitized to violence that killing people just isn’t a big deal to them.  Raise these kids on a deserted island away from this violence in our pop culture, though, and they’re not going to kill indiscriminately.  Instead they’ll stay innocent kids longer.

Add to this violence in our pop culture our secular progressive culture.  The Left’s quest to remove religion and God from as much of our lives as possible.  And their attacks on Christianity.  For imposing their moral code on people.  And opposing free love and abortion.  They have gone so far as to call for the removal of the Ten Commandments from our government buildings.  And our schools.  Because teaching kids things like ‘Thou shall not kill” is a bad thing.  Or any other morality lesson.  For who’s to say what is right and wrong?  Of course when we teach our kids growing up that there are no moral absolutes it sure weakens the argument for them not to do bad things.  It detaches them from society.  And makes them lack empathy for their fellow citizens.  Making it easier to hurt them.  If you pulled these kids out of our public schools and put them and their parents on a deserted island away from this secular progressive culture and filled them with the fear of God for misbehaving they probably could sleep at night with their doors unlocked.  For hurting one another would be the last thing on their minds.

When LBJ passed his Great Society legislation it included Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC).  An unmitigated disaster for poor people.  For it let men father and abandon their children.  Leaving women to turn to the state to act as husband and father.  And of all the things the state did poorly perhaps the worst was being husband and father.  It just decimated poor families.  Single mothers filled housing projects.  Their children, with no male role model, turned to the street.  Got into a lot of trouble.  And into drugs.  Even taking that behavior into their schools.  Which is part of the reason why metal detectors are needed today at our schools.  Forcing organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters of America to pick up the parenting slack.  Had these deadbeat dads lived on a deserted island untouched by AFDC there would have been less fathering and abandoning of children.  Like there was before AFDC.

Keynesian Policies have Historically Resulted in High Unemployment and Painful Recessions

After World War II the world went Keynesian.  Classical economics (that favored savings over consumption, low taxes, the gold standard, little government intrusion into the private sector and responsible fiscal policy as in DON’T spend so much) that made America a superpower went out the window.  In came the disaster we call Keynesian economics (that favored consumption over savings, deficit spending, printing lots of money, high taxes and a lot of government intervention into the private sector.  Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge in the Twenties were the last of the classical economists.  Their policies gave us great prosperity.  JFK adopted policies of the classical economics variety to pull America out of a recession in the Sixties.  Nixon, Ford and Carter were big Keynesians whose policies destroyed America.  Ronald Reagan rebuilt America in the Eighties by returning to policies of the classical economics variety.  As George W. Bush did to pull us out of the bad recession caused by Bill Clinton’s dot-com bubble bursting.

So the record shows the success of classical economics.  And the failure of Keynesian economics.  Yet about half the population voted for the Keynesian policies of President Obama in 2012.  Why?  Why did they vote for more of the failed policies of the past?  Because most Americans learn only of Keynesian economics in their economic courses.  While politicians, economists and the mainstream media endorse Keynesian policies as if they have a record of success.  They do this because Keynesian economics does something that classical economics doesn’t.  Empowers big government.  Sanctions class warfare.  Giving them the moral high ground when raising taxes.  And printing money.  Despite these actions causing the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression.

President Obama won reelection for one of two reasons.  Either people want more free stuff.  Or they don’t understand economics.  Or the consequences of handing out all that free stuff.  For if they understood economics they would not have voted for a Keynesian.  For Keynesian policies have historically resulted in high unemployment and painful recessions.  So even if you’re voting for the free stuff you’d vote for the classical economics candidate.  For without people working there is no income to tax to pay for all of that free stuff.  But few people understand economics.  Which is lucky for President Obama.  In fact, few people understand the disaster that has been the liberal agenda as the liberals control the public schools, our colleges, the mainstream media and the entertainment establishment.  So few are learning the long record of liberal failures.  Which helps liberals win elections.  For you only know what someone taught you.  And if the liars are in charge of teaching us the only things we will learn are their lies.  Unless, of course, we can find some deserted island to grow up on where their policies can’t reach us.  Then when we come back we can make the world a better place.  A place with sound economic policies.  With no racism, no religious intolerance, no blind nationalist fervor, no culture of gun violence and no epidemic of deadbeat dads.

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Birth Control and Abortion Activists attack the Catholic Church while Islamic States kill Gays and Lesbians

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 11th, 2012

Week in Review

Christians and Jews are under pressure for their beliefs.  And their existence.  The recent attacks against the Catholic Church by the Obama administration forced the church to defend its Constitutional protections from such state interference.  Catholic theology does not permit the use of birth control.  Or abortions.  Obamacare tried to force Catholic institutions to provide insurance coverage that paid for birth control and abortion.  Even though it’s a violation of conscience for Catholics.  You can support and advocate the use of birth control and abortion.  You just can’t be Catholic if you do.  At least, according to Catholic theology.

Christians are constantly being maligned for their opposition to gay marriage.  And their belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman.  People calling this Christian position archaic.  And out of touch.  That not only do Christians hate women (because they preach abstinence instead of birth control and abortion) they also hate gays and lesbians.  Some going so far to say that Christians are persecuting gays and lesbians.  In a cruel and oppressive theocracy.

Jews living in Israel live under the constant threat of rocket and mortar fire into their cities.  The surrounding Arab lands want to replace the state of Israel with a Palestinian state.  Islamist groups Hezbollah and Hamas refuse to recognize the state of Israel and fight for its destruction.  The Islamist state of Iran feels the same way.  And funds and supplies Hezbollah and Hamas in their Israeli attacks.  Despite all of this hostility against the state of Israel, the most important and loyal US ally in the region, there are those in the US that want Israel to surrender land and go back to the pre 1967 borders.  Borders that would greatly weaken Israel’s ability to defend herself.  This despite the fact that Israel is the greatest democracy in the region.  Where Jew, Christian, Muslim, straight and gay all live with the same rights and protections in the Israeli state.  Which is a lot more than you can say about some other nations in the region (see ‘Emo’ killings raise alarms in Iraq by LARA JAKES, Associated Press, posted 3/11/2012 on Yahoo! News).

Officials and human rights groups estimated as many as 58 Iraqis who are either gay or believed to be gay have been killed in the last six weeks alone — forecasting what experts fear is a return to the rampant hate crimes against homosexuals in 2009. This year, eyewitnesses and human rights groups say some of the victims have been bludgeoned to death by militiamen smashing in their skulls with heavy cement blocks…

Like many places in the Muslim world, homosexuality is extremely taboo in Iraq. Anyone perceived to be gay is considered a fair target, and the perpetrators of the violence often go free. The militants likely behind the violence intimidate the local police and residents so there is even less incentive to investigate the crimes.

Emo is short for “emotional” and in the West generally identifies teens or young adults who listen to alternative music, dress in black, and have radical hairstyles. Emos are not necessarily gay, but they are sometimes stereotyped as such…

The Quran specifically forbids homosexuality, and Islamic militias in Iraq long have targeted gays in what they term “honor killings” to preserve the religious idea that families should be led by a husband and a wife. Those who do not abide by this belief are issued death sentences by the militias, according to the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, a human rights watchdog group. The same militias target women who have extramarital affairs…

He said an estimated 750 gay Iraqis have been killed because of their sexual orientation since 2006.

America is not the brutal theocracy some would claim it to be.  At least nothing like that in the Islamic world.  Where there is no separation of church and state.  And no tolerance to those who don’t toe the state religion line.  Yet people in America attack Christianity and Judaism.  But are pretty mum on Islam.  Deferring to their cultural and religious beliefs.  Unlike they will for Christianity and Judaism.  Case in point the recent pressure on Catholic institutions to pay for birth control and abortion.

Where do you think these religious critics would rather live?  Especially the gay and lesbian community?  The United States?  Israel?  Iraq.  Or Iran?  A rhetorical question.  For it is clear they would rather choose the intolerance in America or Israel over the intolerance in Iraq or Iran any day.  Because the intolerance in American and Israel stops at moralizing.  It doesn’t advocate the use of cement blocks.

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The Line of Diocletian, the Byzantine Empire, Italian City-States, Banking, Usury and the Protestant Reformation

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 3rd, 2012

History 101

Europe began to Awake from its Slumber of the Dark Ages in about 1300 Italy

Once upon a time the only lending was to help someone in need.  Such as someone with a poor harvest to survive the winter.  We did it out of the goodness of our hearts to help others in need.  So to charge interest for a loan like this would have been cruel.  Taking advantage of someone’s misfortune wasn’t the Christian thing to do.  Or the Jewish.  Or the Muslim.  That’s why no one then charged interest for loaning money.  You just didn’t kick a person when he or she was down.  And if you did you could expect some swift justice from the religious authorities.  As well as the state.

Rome was once the center of the civilized world.  All roads led to Rome, after all.  Then Diocletian split the Empire into two in 285.  Along the Line of Diocletian.  Into East (Greek) and West (Latin). The West included Rome and fell around 486, ushering in the European Dark Ages.  Meanwhile the Eastern half, the Byzantine Empire, carried on.  And skipped the Dark Ages.  Its capital was Constantinople (named in 330) .  Formerly Byzantium.  Modern day Istanbul.  Where all Asian overland trade routes led to.  This city of Emperor Constantine.  His city.  Who reunited East and West.  And adopted Christianity as the Empire’s new religion (381).  Located at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, trade flourished and made the Byzantine Empire rich.  And long lasting.  Until weakened by the Venetian-financed Fourth Crusade (1202–1204).  (The Latin Christians’ attack on the Greek Christians was fallout from the Great Schism of 1054 where Christianity split between Latin Catholic and Greek Orthodox).  And then falling to the Ottomans in 1453.

Europe began to awake from its slumber in about 1300 Italy.  Great city-states arose.  Genoa.  Pisa.  And Venice.  Like those early Greek city-states.  Great ports of international trade.  Rising into trade empires with the decline of the Byzantine Empire.  Where these Italian merchants bought and sold all of those Asian goods.  Putting great commercial fleets to sea to bring those Asian goods into Genoa, Pisa and Venice.  Getting rich.  But to make money they had to have money.  Because in the international trade game you had to first buy what you sold.  Which included the cost of those great merchant fleets.  And how did they pay for all of this?  They borrowed money from a new institution called banking.

That Europe that Slumbered during the Dark Ages Arose to Rule International Trade

Modern finance was born in Italy.  Everything that makes the commercial economy work today goes back to these Italian city-states.  From international banking and foreign exchange markets to insurance to the very bookkeeping that kept track of profits and losses.  It is here we see the first joint-stock company to finance and diversify the risk of commercial shipping.  London would use the joint-stock company to later finance the British East India Company.  And Amsterdam the Dutch East India company.  Where the Dutch and the English sent ships across oceans in search of trade.  Thanks to their mastery of celestial navigation.  And brought back a fortune in trade.  Putting the great Italian city-states out of business.  For their direct sea routes were far more profitable than the overland routes.  Because the holds of their ships could hold far more than any overland caravan could.

The Catholic opposition to usury (charging interest to borrow money) opened the new banking industry to the oppressed Jews in the European/Christian cities.  For it was one of the few things the Christian rulers let the Jews do.  Which they did.  Even though it was technically against their religion.  And they did it well.  For they had an early monopoly.  Thanks to that same Catholic Church.  Then came another schism in the Christian church.  The Protestant Reformation.  Where, among other things, Protestants said the Old Testament did not bind them to all rules that the Jews had to follow.  Then John Calvin took it a step further and said commercial loans could charge interest.  And, well, the rest is banking history.

Europe was then the dominant region of the world.  That region that slumbered during the Dark Ages arose to rule international trade.  Thanks to their navigational abilities.  And their banking centers.  Which financed their trade.  And the great things to come.

The Enlightenment led to the Modern World, Limited Government, the Industrial Revolution and Beyond

With the fall of the Byzantine Empire and the rise of the Italian city-states, Greek thinkers left the Byzantine Empire and went West.  To those rich Italian city-states.  Bringing with them great books of Greek knowledge.  The intellectual remnants of the Roman Empire.  Translated them.  And massed produced them on the new printing press.  And kicked off the Enlightenment.  Which then spread throughout Europe.

The Enlightenment led to the modern world.  From limited government.  To the Industrial Revolution.  And beyond.  All thanks to those Italian city-states.  International trade.  And banking.

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Time Value of Money, Interest, Risk, Opportunity Costs and Banking

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 2nd, 2012

Economics 101

Entrepreneurs have to Borrow Money because their Income comes AFTER they Build Things

A lot of things came together to give us a modern civilization.  Food surpluses, division of labor, money, religion, rule of law, free trade, free labor, prices, incentive and competition.  As well as other important developments.  Such as banking.  That addressed the time value of money.  And the risk of lending.

Before farmers can sell their harvests they have to plant them first.  This takes money.  Which raises an obvious question.  How do farmers get money to plant a crop?  When their income comes AFTER the planting of that crop?  Entrepreneurs have the same problem.  They can build things to sell.  But like the farmer they have to buy materials first.  Which takes money.  So how do entrepreneurs get money to build the things they build?  When their income comes AFTER the building of these things?

Of course farmers and entrepreneurs have to borrow money.  Say from a parent.  Who has been saving up for a really nice vacation.  A parent can loan the farmer or the entrepreneur money.  But that means that they may have to postpone their plans.  Or change their plans. For the same vacation may cost more next year than it does this year.  If they loan their money and get the same amount back they won’t be able to afford that same vacation.  Unless they charge interest.  So that when they get their money back AND the interest they can then afford that same but now more expensive vacation.

A Bank collects Deposits from Numerous Depositors so they can lend it to the People who Need Capital

This is the time value of money.  Over time money buys less.  Because it’s worth less.  The same amount of money will buy more today than it will 10 years from now.  This lost value is the cost of borrowed money.  And why borrowing money typically incurs interest.  Money a borrower owes in addition to the amount borrowed.  The interest compensates the lender for the lost value of their money.  So when you repay it they don’t lose any purchasing power.  And the lender can buy the same things that they could have when they loaned you the money.  Like a postponed vacation that became more expensive over time.

As the economy became more complex it required more borrowed money to pay for the production of other things.  Things that we sell much later than when we purchased the material to make these things.  Expensive things.  Tools.  Equipment.  Factories.  Trucks.  Costs so great that a person’s parents may not have enough savings to finance these things.  But they could if we combine their savings with other people’s savings.

Alexander Hamilton said a person’s savings was just money.  But when added to the savings of other people that money became capital.  Large pools of money available to loan.  So entrepreneurs could borrow money to buy tools, equipment, factories and trucks.  This important part of business became a business in itself.  The banking business.  A bank collects deposits from numerous depositors.  So they can lend it to the people who need capital.  They pay interest to depositors to encourage them to deposit their money.  And charge interest to borrowers to pay the depositors’ interest and other costs of running the bank.

Charging Interest Compensated the Lender for the Risk they were Taking and is a Necessary Part of Capitalism

Banks get a lot of bad press these days.  Since the dawn of banking, really.  People say bankers get rich for doing nothing.  Using other people’s money to boot.  Some call it a sin.  Usury.  Making money simply by lending money.  The ancient Jews forbade it.  So did the Christians.  Even the Muslims.  (And still do.)  But without banks we wouldn’t have a modern civilization.  In fact, if we had no banks you would not recognize the world you’d be living in.  There would be no middle class.  And our economic system would probably still be based on Manorialism.  Where most of us would still be serfs.  Working the land for the Lord of the Manor like our distant ancestors did in the Middle Ages.

There would have been no Industrial Revolution.  No cell phones.  No Internet.  Because all of these things required capital.  The pooling of people’s savings.  To provide the investment capital it takes to finance these things we take for granted in our lives today.

But things changed.  First the Jews started lending money for interest.  Then the Christians followed.  Seeing that business and commerce needed to borrow money.  And that lending money incurred risk.  (Some people might not repay their loans.)  And there were opportunity costs.  (The other things they could do with that money.)  Charging interest compensated the lender for the risk they were taking.  It wasn’t usury.  It was a necessary part of capitalism.  And the modern world we take for granted today.

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The Ten Year Anniversary of 9/11

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 10th, 2011

Why the Attack on America on 9/11? 

Sunday is the 10 year anniversary of 9/11.  Ten years is a long time.  And during those years it’s been safe in the U.S.  Which makes people complacent.  That’s what time does.  People tend to forget.

So what was it?  And why was it?  The attack on America on 9/11? 

The ‘what’ is simple to answer.  A group of Muslim men hijacked four jetliners.  They crashed two into the World Trade Center.  Crashed one into the Pentagon.  And the fourth?  The passengers fought back.  Having learned of the other hijackings.  They attacked the attackers.  Fought.  And died.  Bringing the fourth plane down in a field in the country.  Far from its intended target.  These were the first to fight back in the war on terror.  A war where Americans were dying before 2001.

The ‘why’ is a little more involved.  It’s because of the Jews.  In the Middle East.  Who now live on ancient Jewish land.  Israel.  Land that has changed hands a few times since the time of King David (born 11th Century B.C.).  And King Solomon (born 10th Century BC).  And the people that lived on this land before the Jews returned to their homeland?  Muslims.  Who wrested this land from Christians.  Who got the land when the Roman Empire became Christian.  Who took the land from the Jews.  When the Romans were still pagans.  And on and on it went.  Back in time.  Until you get to King David.  And his conquests to consolidate his kingdom.

Long Story Short, Jews and Muslims hate each other in the Middle East

The Muslims want it back.  Because they conquered that land.  And they believe this makes it their land.  But if they believe that he who conquers the land has claim to the land, they have a problem.  Because the British won that land in World War I.  When they defeated the Ottoman Empire.  A member of the Central Powers.  Who lost the war. 

World War II soon came along.  And the HolocaustAdolf Hitler hated Jews.  Tried to kill them all.  So when Nazi Germany lost the war, displaced Jews who survived the Holocaust went to British Palestine.  To their ancient homeland.  Shortly thereafter they declared themselves the State of Israel.  And asked the Palestinians to kindly leave.  And they did.  Into refugee camps surrounding the new State of Israel.  They lived in refugee camps because the surrounding countries didn’t want to take them in.  So in these camps they stayed.  Where they’ve lived with a simmering hatred since.

Anyway, long story short, Jews and Muslims hate each other in the Middle East.  Israel is a tiny Jewish island in an Arab sea.  The Arabs tried to take this land a few times but were beaten back.  Thanks to an assist from the U.S.  And they lost land to boot.  The Sinai Peninsula.  The West Bank.  The Golan Heights.  And the Muslim Arabs want those lands back, too.

Militant Muslims hate America with every Fiber in their Body

Eventually the Egyptians made peace with Israel.  Anwar Sadat formally recognized the State of Israel.  And fundamentalist Egyptian officers assassinated him because of it.  His successor honored the peace Sadat made.  Hosni Mubarak.  For some 30 years.  Got a lot of U.S. aide for helping America’s most important Middle East ally.  Until he was toppled from power during the Arab Spring.

So there’s some history in the Middle East.  The Muslim Arabs hate the Jews.  And want that land back.  And they hate the Egyptian government who made peace with Israel for all those years.  They hate the British for taking that land from the Ottoman Empire.  And perhaps most of all they hate America.  Who they blame for everything.  Had they not entered World War I, that war may have ended in a draw with no lost of Muslim land.  Had they not entered World War II, Hitler may have won that war.  Or at least killed more Jews.  If the Americans had not ‘bribed’ Sadat with aid he may never have recognize the State of Israel.  And had America not helped Israel during the Arab-Israeli wars, the Arabs may have won those wars.

So do militant Muslims hate America?  With every fiber in their body.  Can we get them to like us?  Not a chance in hell.  You see, defeating us is just step one in their grand plan.  Once upon a time Muslim power controlled the Middle East, North Africa and southern Europe.  And they want to again.  They want to restore the caliphate.  And spread Sharia Law.

Osama bin Laden led the War against America

So the radical Muslims, fundamentalists, Islamists, whatever you want to call them, waged war against the U.S.  Attacking U.S. nationals out of the country.  And planning and conducting attacks inside the country.  Osama bin Laden led the war against America.  With his al Qaeda getting bolder over time.  Leading up to September 11, 2001.

So far every subsequent plan has been foiled.  Or failed.  Like the underwear bomber on that Detroit bound plane.  And the Times Square bomber.  So it’s been relatively safe in America.  But there is unrest in the Middle East.  Which is very ominous.

Representative Democracies rarely break out Amidst Chaos

What happens in Egypt may very well tell us the future of the world.  Will they maintain their peace with Israel?  Or will they drift further into the Iranian orbit?  Further pressuring Israel.  Bordered in the north by Iranian client Hezbollah.  And in the south by Iranian client Hamas.  With an open border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.  It’s getting tense over there (see Israel, Egypt try to stem damage from embassy riot by Diaa Hadid, Associated Press, posted 9/10/2011 on the Toronto Star).

Israel and Egypt’s leadership tried Saturday to limit the damage in ties after protesters stormed Israel’s embassy in Cairo, trashing offices and prompting the evacuation of nearly the entire staff from Egypt in the worst crisis between the countries since their 1979 peace treaty.

The 13-hour rampage deepened Israel’s fears that it is growing increasingly isolated amid the Arab world’s uprisings and, in particular, that Egypt is turning steadily against it after the fall of Hosni Mubarak, the authoritarian leader who was a close ally…

Egypt’s new military rulers, in turn, appear caught between preserving key ties with Israel — which bring guarantee them billions in U.S. military aid — and pressure from the Egyptian public. Many Egyptians are demanding an end to what they see as too cosy a relationship under Mubarak, who they feel knuckled under to Israel and the U.S., doing nothing to pressure for concessions to the Palestinians.

The big question is who will succeed Mubarak.  The Muslim Brotherhood?  They have close Iranian ties, too.  So that wouldn’t be good.  But at this time they are probable the largest organized political force in Egypt.  Which carries a lot of weight following a civil war.  I mean, representative democracies rarely break out amidst chaos.  And if it did, it could even be worse.  For a lot of Egyptians don’t like Israel.  Or that peace treaty.  Which means if the people get their way, it could be bad for Jews.  And Christians.

On this Day of Remembrance, we should make sure that those who died did not die in Vain 

We need to be concerned with what’s happening in Egypt.  For if the wrong people get into power there will be no peace for Jews.  Christians.  Or for much of the Western World.

If Iran gains power and influence in the area there will be no peace for Jews.  Christians.  Or for much of the Western World.  This is even a greater concern.  Because they may soon have a nuclear weapon.  If they don’t already.

Ten years is a lot of time.  But we must not become complacent.  And not forget what happened on that day.  Because the threat to America is real.  And it won’t go away with diplomacy.  For you can’t talk sense to people who hijack jetliners full of innocent men, women and children.  To kill innocent men, women and children.

On this day of remembrance, we should make sure that those who died did not die in vain.  As in any war, some may die so that others may live.  So we must honor those who died.  By living.  And being strong.  Strong enough to deter any attack on our soil again.  To protect those they left behind.

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Daddy Issues and Foreign Policy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 18th, 2011

Breaking the Law like Dad Did

It’s good to be king.  And sometimes president (see Obama rejects top lawyers’ legal views on Libya by Glenn Greenwald posted 6/18/2011 on Salon).

The growing controversy over President Obama’s illegal waging of war in Libya got much bigger last night with Charlie Savage’s New York Times scoop.  He reveals that top administration lawyers —  Attorney General Eric Holder, OLC Chief Caroline Krass, and DoD General Counsel Jeh Johnson — all told Obama that his latest, widely panned excuse for waging war without Congressional approval (that it does not rise to the level of “hostilities” under the War Powers Resolution (WPR)) was invalid and that such authorization was legally required after 60 days: itself a generous intepretation of the President’s war powers.  But Obama rejected those views and (with the support of administration lawyers in lesser positions:  his White House counsel and long-time political operative Robert Bauer and State Department “legal adviser” Harold Koh) publicly claimed that the WPR does not apply to Libya.

As Savage notes, it is, in particular, “extraordinarily rare” for a President “to override the legal conclusions of the Office of Legal Counsel and to act in a manner that is contrary to its advice…”

Kind of reminds me of someone.  Someone else who acted against the advice of their own attorney general.  Who was that?  Hmmm.  Let me think.  It’s on the tip of my tongue.  Not a popular guy.  Oh yes.  Now I remember.

[James] Comey explained that, in 2004, shortly after he became Deputy AG, he reviewed the NSA eavesdropping program Bush had ordered back in 2001 and concluded it was illegal.  Other top administration lawyers — including Attorney General John Ashcroft and OLC Chief Jack Goldsmith — agreed with Comey, and told the White House they would no longer certify the program’s legality.

That’s right.  It was George W. Bush.  Gee, President Obama is getting more and more like Bush every day.  He must hold Bush up as a mentor figure.  Even a father figure.  For it sure looks like he’s trying to impress him.  By being like him.  Like every son wants to be like their dad.  What’s that line from that great father/son song?  “He’d say “I’m gonna be like you Dad.  You know I’m gonna be like you.””  From Cats in the Cradle.  And Obama is trying to be like his surrogate dad.  To do as good a job as Dad did.  Military tribunalsGitmo.  Friends to business (albeit only the ones big enough to buy favors).  Attacked some Muslim countries.  Even breaking the law like Dad did.  Looking for his approval.  His love.  And yearning for that ever elusive hug.  From Poppa.

An Afternoon Tea Party in Libya

But the Libyan War is no big deal.  We don’t have combat brigades there.  Granted we blew the snot out of a lot of things.  And killed a lot of people.  But this isn’t a war with hostilities.  It’s an afternoon tea party.  And it’ll be over before we know it.  Even Harry ‘This War is LostReid isn’t bitching about Libya like he bitched about Iraq.  That other ‘illegal’ war (see Harry Reid On Libya: “This Thing Will Be Over Before We Know It” posted 6/17/2011 on Real Clear Politics).

JIM LEHRER:  Senator, welcome.

SENATOR HARRY REID (D-NV):  Thank you very much for allowing me to be on the show.

MR. LEHRER:  Well, first on the Libya military operation, do you believe the War Powers Act requires authorization of further action?

SEN. REID:  The War Powers Act has no application to what’s going on in Libya.

MR. LEHRER:  None?

SEN. REID:  I don’t believe so.  You know, we did an authorization for Afghanistan.  We did one for Iraq.  But we have no troops on the ground there, and this thing’s going to be over before you know it anyway, so I think it’s not necessary.

So, you see, there’s nothing to get your shorts into a bunch about.  These guys know what they’re doing.  And they know foreign policy.  Geopolitics.  And protecting American security interests.  Like in Libya.  We don’t know what those interests are yet.  But the naysayers will learn in time.  And we’ll see that our non-war in Libya was important.  And necessary.  Just like our Egyptian policy will prove one day to be important and necessary in protecting American security interests.  By demanding that our friend and ally, a bulwark against radical Islamism, maintainer of peace and stability in a Middle East with the Jewish state of Israel, had to step down from power.  Sure, he was corrupt and somewhat oppressive.  But all rulers are in the Middle East.  Life was far better in Egypt than in a lot of other Middle East nations.  Especially for women.  Christians.  And Jews.

But the Obama administration said he had to go.  It made no sense.  And it doesn’t now.  Yet.  But I’m sure it will.  For they must know something that the rest of us don’t.  And that post-Mubarak Egypt will even be better.  For women.  Christians.  And Jews.

Hail the Arab Spring

Hey, look.  They’re already forming another political party.  Yeah for democracy (see After fall of Mubarak, group announces intent to form Nazi party posted 6/18/2011 on Al-Masry Al-Youm).

A group of Egyptians have announced their intent to establish a Nazi party with “a contemporary frame of reference,” an independent Egyptian news website said on Wednesday.

Al-Badeel, a leftist news portal, quoted founding member Emad Abdel Sattar as saying the party would bring together prominent figures from the Egyptian society. The party’s founding deputy is a former military official.

The party believes in vesting all powers in the president after selecting him or her carefully, Abdel Sattar said, adding that preparations are underway to choose the most competent person to represent the party.

Oh dear.  Nazis.  This can’t be good.  Is this for real?

Although Al-Masry Al-Youm could not verify the news reported by Al-Badeel, two Facebook pages have appeared recently under the title of “the Egyptian Nazi Party”.

The two pages attracted around 70 followers, who mostly posted questions about the party’s ideas and policies and requested details on how to join.

Hopefully not.  Perhaps it’s just a fringe group.  Like Hitler’s Nazis were in Germany.  Until they started winning seats in the Reichstag.  And Hindenburg had to reluctantly share power with them in a coalition government.  Even appointed Hitler chancellor.  Then Hindenburg died and Hitler became Führer und Reichskanzler.  Increased his powers.  Eventually making Germany a dictatorship.  The rest is history.  And not a good one.

The party has a one-year plan to develop Egypt, unlike the “marginalized liberal parties, which are like dead bodies,” he said.

A source from the proposed party told Al-Badeel the idea to start it came after some fundamentalist religious waves emerged, which, according to the source, created a state of chaos and led to the burning of churches, the destruction of shrines and assaults on unarmed civilians.

It was the radical Islamist elements of the Arab Spring that created the state of chaos.  Not aspiring Nazis.  They’re just looking to exploit the chaos.  Perhaps this fringe group will just pass on into the dustbin of history.  Sure, they share the anti-Semitic views of the big political party.  The Muslim Brotherhood.  And there are Middle East and Nazi Germany ties.  Even Haj Amin al-Husseini met with Adolf Hitler.  And discussed post-war Nazi ambitions outside the Nazi sphere (such as in the Middle East beyond the Caucasus).  The only Nazi interference in Arab politics would be the continued genocide against the Jews.  Which meshed well with al-Husseini’s vision of a Jewish-free Palestine.  Despite this deep Nazi-Islamic history, I’m sure there is no danger with the rise of a fringe Nazi political party in Egypt.  Because post-Mubarak Egypt has to be even better than Mubarak-Egypt.  Otherwise, why would the Obama administration force Mubarak out?

Does the President need a Hug?

American foreign policy is confused at best.  Intervention where there is no U.S. security interest.  Undermining a friend and ally.  While our enemies grow stronger.  And a past evil is coming back to life.  It begs the question is this on purpose?  Is it incompetence?  Or just a desperate cry for a hug from Poppa?  George W. Bush?

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Egypt Opens Gaza Border, Palestinians to try Statehood at UN

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 28th, 2011

It is now an Islamic Arab Border

It’s done.  The border is open.  The siege is lifted.  Let the love begin (see Egypt opens Gaza border crossing, easing 4-year blockade by Ernesto Londono and Joel Greenberg posted 5/28/2011 on The Washington Post).

Egypt’s military rulers announced earlier this week that they would permanently open the crossing, the main gateway to the outside world for the 1.6 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip…

The Egyptian government had kept the border closed or tightly controlled since Hamas took over Gaza, bowing to Israeli concerns that militants could smuggle weapons into the coastal enclave and fears of a spillover of militant activity into Egypt.

Yes, militants could smuggle weapons.  They did.  And they fired them into Israeli cities.  Because the Hamas charter calls for the destruction of Israel.  You see, Hamas has no love for Israel.  They hate Jews.  And they keep trying to kill them.  Hence the attacks on Israeli cities.  Now Hosni Mubarak is gone.  The once banned Muslim Brotherhood is now part of Egypt’s future.  The Egyptians sponsored talks in Cairo to help the militant Hamas join the moderate Fatah in a unity government.  And now the Egypt-Gaza border is now open for business.  But there’s nothing to worry about, is there?

“We are very happy Egypt is now in control of the border,” said Halawen, who was traveling to have spinal surgery after a botched procedure in Gaza. “It is now an Islamic Arab border. Egypt and the revolution of January 25 brought us this.”

Oh, it is now an “Islamic Arab border.”  As in the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.  Who has close ties with the Islamist Hamas.  Who has close ties with the Islamist Iran.  But there is nothing to worry about, is there?  As long as you’re not a tiny Jewish state being swallowed in a sea of militant Islamism, that is.

And now Bombs and Explosives can Cross more Easily

The Israelis aren’t all that happy with this development.  Fatah and Hamas are, though (see Fatah official hails ‘brave’ Egyptian decision to open Rafah crossing by Reuters and The Associated Press posted 5/28/2011 on Haaretz.com).

“We are very happy, it was a brave decision by Egypt to open the crossing and to dismantle the prison imposed by Israel on the people (of Gaza),” [senior Fatah official] Shaath said.

“Opening this door does not mean Egypt wants to allow bombs and explosives … Egypt wants to allow safe passage of individuals who want to conduct their lives,” he continued…

The deputy foreign minister of Hamas, Ghazi Hamad, called the opening of the Rafah crossing “a unique move and a positive development.”

Despite all of these developments, Hamas hasn’t revised their charter.  They refuse to renounce violence against Israel.  Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has yet to say he will accept a Jewish state (as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will accept a Palestinian state).  Interestingly, Shaath was quick to say that just because the border is now open it won’t mean bombs and explosives will cross.  But that’s what is on everyone’s mind.  Why?  Because everyone knows that bombs and explosives will be crossing that border.  Into Gaza.  Where they’ll be used to fulfill the Hamas charter.

The Palestinians plan an UN End-Around to Pressure Israel

So it is no wonder that the Israelis are a little skeptical about the Palestinian quest for peace.  And then there were President Obama’s remarks about restarting the peace process from the pre-1967 borders.  When the Israelis escaped annihilation from a coordinated Arab attack (the Six-Day War).  The Israelis won that conflict.  And gained strategic ground.  Making it more difficult for another coordinated Arab attack.  And they refuse to just give up this security for hopes of peace when one of the negotiating parties still has the destruction of Israel in their charter.

And the other nonstarter in any negotiations is the right for displaced 1948 Palestinians (or their descendents) to return to the Jewish state in the two-state solution.  For if they do, there won’t be two states.  They’ll be one large Palestinian state.  Asking for the pre-1967 borders and the right of return is asking for something they know the Israelis cannot give.  So why ask for them?  It’s obvious.  They don’t want to negotiate a two-state settlement.  They want to stay at war.  And fulfill the Hamas charter.  Of course, it’s the Israelis that are being stubborn and don’t want peace (see Abbas sees no hope for talks with Israel, firm on UN path by Reuters posted 5/28/2011 on The Jerusalem Post).

The Palestinian president said on Saturday there were “no shared foundations” for peace talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and seeking UN recognition of Palestinian statehood was his only option.

So they’re going to try an ‘end-around’ instead.  Get UN recognition of Palestinian statehood.  Which the U.S. opposes.  So that’s more political posturing.  To make it look like Israel and the U.S. are just mean, a couple of schoolyard bullies pushing around the innocent Palestinian people.  The same people who fire missiles into Israel.  And include Hamas.  Who has the destruction of Israel in their charter.

Apparently, only Diplomacy that Weakens Israel is Good Diplomacy

So what does the Jew in the street think?  Well, here’s an opinion from a Jew that left Israel as a child and went to the United States (see Gene Simmons tells Obama to kiss off on 1967 by JPOST.COM Staff posted 5/28/2011 on The Jerusalem Post).

Calling President Obama naive and skewering him on foreign policy during his interview, Simmons didn’t hold back on the expletives. “If you’ve never been to the moon, you can’t issue policy about the moon. You have no f***king idea what it’s like on the moon,” he said.

“When you grow up you find out that life isn’t the way you imagined it, and President Obama means well,” said Simmons, who had admitted to feeling regret for having voted for Obama. “I think he’s actually a good guy. He has no f***king idea what the world is like because he doesn’t have to live there.”

Yes, the fire-breathing, blood-spitting demon with the super long tongue is a Jew.  Okay, so Gene Simmons of Kiss probably doesn’t represent the average Jew in the street, but his opinions are no doubt the same.  He sees what they all see.  For some reason, only diplomacy that weakens or destroys Israel is good diplomacy.  Well he’s not one to sit idly by and bite his tongue.  (If you don’t know who Gene Simmons is, ask your parents).

But Simmons says what many think.  President Obama’s foreign policy is naive.  And it’s making the world a more dangerous place.  Especially in the Middle East.  Where an aggressive and Islamist Iran is sitting back watching it all unfold in Act I.  And getting ready to take center stage in Act II.

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Israel Rejects pre-1967 Borders, Sees it as Surrender

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 21st, 2011

Empires Come and Empires Go

As empires go, few were as great and long lasting as the Roman Empire.  At the height of empire, the Romans ruled most of Briton, Europe, parts of Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.  The empire was so vast that the Romans split it in half.  The Western Empire survived about 500 Years.  The Eastern Empire survived about 1,500 years.  The last thousand years of the Eastern Empire, the Byzantine Empire, ruled North Africa and the Middle East.  Including the ancient Jewish homeland.

The Byzantine Empire eventually fell to Muslim invaders.  And the Christian lands of the Roman Empire became Muslim.  Including the Jewish homeland.  The Muslims conquered the previous conquerors.  And to the victors went the spoils.  Parts of the Roman Empire in Spain, North Africa, the Middle East and parts of Eastern Europe became part of a new Muslim Empire (caliphate).  There were about 1,000 years of war that expanded and contracted the empire.  At the tail end of this empire was the Ottoman Empire.  Which World War I ended.  The Ottomans were on the losing side of that war.  The British were on the winning side.  And to the victors went the spoils.  They administered the land called Palestine.  And in exchange for Jewish and Arab support in the war against the Ottomans, the British promised both land carved out of the defeated Ottoman Empire.  In the British Mandate for Palestine, the Jews would get back their Jewish homeland.

It was easier on paper, though.  There were a lot of issues to resolve.  And many of those the Arabs felt were resolved not in their best interests.  And, well, there hasn’t been peace in the Middle East since.

A Peace Settlement or a Surrender Settlement?

The Jews created their Jewish state in 1948.  Covering less than half of the ancient Jewish homeland.  The Kingdom of Israel.  The Six-Day War (1967) pushed those borders further out.  The surrounding Arab countries (Egypt, Jordan and Syria) were massing to invade Israel.  But Israel struck first.  Took out the Egyptian Air Force.  Which gave them air superiority.  That allowed them to push the Arabs back.  And take the Golan Heights from Syria.  The West Bank from Jordan.  And the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt.  They still have the Golan Heights and the West Bank.  Which serves as strategic ground against further invasions.  And they’re reluctant to give them up.  For if they do, they will become as vulnerable to attack as they were in 1967. 

In a recent speech, U.S. President Obama called for the Israelis to do just that.  To restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process by first going back to the pre-1967 boundaries.  And that the issue of Palestinian refugees (rather, the descendants of the original refugees) will have to be negotiated.   The Israelis do not see this as negotiation.  They see it as surrender.  For the Palestinian refugees want to return to Jewish land.  So the two-state solution will have a Palestinian state and a Jewish/Palestinian state.  Surrounded by enemies that will now be closer.  And with a terrorist organization, Hamas, which has as its primary goal the destruction of Israel, now forming a unity government with Fatah.  The only thing missing from this proposal is a blindfold and cigarette for Israel.

And yet there are those who speak with indignation about the Israelis refusing to negotiate for peace (see Palestinians to proceed with U.N. recognition bid by the Associated Press posted 5/21/2011 on CBS News).

Senior Palestinian officials say that negotiations with Israel have become pointless after Israel’s prime minister rejected President Barack Obama’s call to base Mideast border talks on the pre-1967 war lines…

[Israeli Prime Minster] Netanyahu laid out hardline positions after his meeting with resident Obama at the White House on Friday. He said the 1967 borders were “indefensible,” that the Palestinians could forget about resettling Palestinian refugees in Israel and that [Palestinian President] Abbas would have to choose between peace with Israel and reconciliation with Hamas…

[Aide to Abbas] Erekat said late Friday that Netanyahu’s statements make it clear the Israeli leader is not a partner for peace, suggesting there is no point in returning to negotiations.

“I don’t think we can talk about a peace process with a man who says the 1967 lines are an illusion, that Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel, undivided, and he does not want a single (Palestinian) refugee to go back,” Erekat said. “What is left to negotiate about?”

This from a government pursuing a unity agreement with Hamas who still fires missiles into Israel.  They must know what they are asking for.  And no doubt do.  Repositioning for the final assault on Israel.  At least that’s what it must look like from the Jewish side.

To the Victors go the Spoils

Just about everyone has fought for the ancient lands of the Kingdom of Israel.  Even before King David‘s time.  Military conquest has been the diplomacy tool of choice forever.  The Jews weren’t happy to see the land wrested from them by the Romans (or the numerous conquerors before the Romans came).  The Romans weren’t happy to see the land taken by the Muslims.  And the Muslims weren’t happy to see that land taken away by the Allies with the fall of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. 

There was a lot of map redrawing after World War I.  Including in the Middle East.  Map redrawing often results in civil wars.  And the result of one of these wars was the creation of the Jewish state of Israel.  Which resulted in a refugee problem.  The Jews accepted the displaced Jews into the new Jewish state.  No Arab state wanted the displaced Arabs.  They became a people without a country.  But with a cause.

All these years later there is still no peace.  And people want to right wrongs.  To give land back to the rightful owners.  But their history suffers from tunnel vision.  They see only what they want.  The Arabs want to go back to the height of their military conquest.  Their caliphate.  For that military conquest was good.  But not the ones before.  Or the ones after.  For they agree to the victors go the spoils.  But only when they are the victors.

The problem with going back in time to correct wrongs is that history is full of past wrongs.  So how far back should we go correcting past wrongs?  Back to the original wrong?  To the first time someone took another’s land?  To undo what the Persian Empire did?  Undo what the Egyptians did?  Undo what the Sumerians did?  Undo what Homo sapiens did to the Neanderthals

You can go back forever and find a people that wronged another.  It is our history.  And a violent history at that.  But as we became more civilized we became less violent.  More of us are able to live together.  Peacefully.  And that is the direction we should continue to progress.  We need to stop living in the past.  To stop using that diplomacy tool we call military conquest.  The days of military expansionism are over.  Or should be over.  And you shouldn’t use diplomatic negotiation as a ruse to prepare for a military conquest.  Which it looks like the Palestinian side is doing in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

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Obama’s Incoherent Policy on Egypt, Libya and Syria

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 23rd, 2011

Syrians not as worthy to Save as Libyans?

President Assad is killing innocent Syrians in the streets.  In an effort to squelch their yearning for liberty.  A contagion spreading through the Arab world.  TunisiaEgyptBahrainYemen.  Libya.  And now Syria.  The international community is shocked at Assad’s brutality.  And they issued a stern ‘you better stop doing that or we may tell you to stop a second time’.  Whereas we demanded Mubarak to step down in Egypt.  And bombed Libya.  But in Syria all we got is a wag of the finger (see Obama’s Middle East Head Spin by Christopher Dickey posted 4/22/2011 on The Daily Beast).

From Washington’s vantage, every Friday is becoming Black Friday in the Middle East… This Friday, the shock came in Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad runs one of the Middle East’s most repressive regimes. Across the country, protesters have grown ever more emboldened in recent weeks, and on Friday they poured into the streets by the tens of thousands to face the deadly fusillades of Assad’s security forces. More than 70 died. What did the White House have to say? From Air Force One: “We call on all sides to cease and desist from the use of violence.”

Pity the president didn’t add, “Don’t make me turn this car around.”  For children know it’s serious when Dad threatens to turn that car around.  Of course, Obama isn’t their dad.  But he expects everyone to listen to him as if he were.  And if that’s all we got going for our foreign policy, I say use it.  Can’t hurt.

Then again, perhaps the president just doesn’t know what to do.  He had no governing experience before running for president.  He never had a real job.  It’s rather baffling why so many championed the guy when he was in fact so utterly unqualified.  But they did.  And here he is.  What was it that Rush Limbaugh called him?  Man child?  Pretty strong criticism.  But is it true?

The drama—the tragedy—increasingly apparent at the White House is of a brilliant intellect who is nonetheless confounded by events, a strategist whose strategies are thwarted and who is left with almost no strategy at all, a persuasive politician and diplomat who gets others to crawl out on limbs, has them take big risks to break through to a new future, and then turns around and walks away from them when the political winds in the United States threaten to shift. It’s not enough to say the Cabinet is divided about what to do. Maybe the simplest and in many ways the most disturbing explanation for all the flailing is offered by veteran journalist and diplomat Leslie H. Gelb: “There is one man in this administration who debates himself.” President Obama.

A brilliant intellect who is not allowed to think brilliantly.  Because of all this stuff going on in the world.  This isn’t what he signed on for.  He wanted to pontificate great things.  Not govern.  It’s not fair.  He wanted to provide a laser-like focus on job creation.  Build a stronger economy.  Lower the sea levels.  Instead he failed.  Everywhere.  As he is failing in his foreign policy.  Or, rather, flailing.  With a policy that is utterly incoherent.

At the Pentagon, which bears the brunt of much of this hesitation and vacillation, the mood is one of not-so-quiet desperation. Said one longtime friend of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates: “They think it [the Libyan operation] is just nuts. We are destroying our credibility with this situation, and there is really no answer to it.”

This is what happens when you have people who hate the military (i.e., liberals) use the military.  The military has a constitutional role.  To defend the United States.  And protect vital national security interests.  There is no constitutional clause that says, oh, and by the way, if a sovereign nation is being mean to her people we should commit U.S. military force without a clear objective or exit strategy.  Just to feel good.  But we can’t do that.  For feeling good is a poor national strategy. 

So Vice President Joe Biden has been left to handle the file, and he’s seemed none too happy about it. In an interview with the Financial Times, he argued that America’s real strategic interests were elsewhere, notably in helping to stabilize Egypt, while continuing to try to deal with Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and North Korea. “We can’t do it all,” said Biden. NATO and the Europeans should do more, he insisted. But NATO is run by consensus, and when its most powerful member refuses to lead, hard decisions are hard to come by. France and Britain, for their part, have taken the initiative in Libya from the beginning and crossed a new threshold last week by announcing publicly that they would send military advisers into Libya to help the rebels organize. (One firm decision by the U.S.: It will not put its troops on the ground in Libya under any circumstances.)

Of course when we say ‘by consensus’ we mean ‘by the United States’.  For any international effort is weak and ineffective without the full weight and force of the United States.  It goes with being a superpower.  But we have to pick and choose our fights.  For even a superpower’s might is finite.  There are national security interests (Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and North Korea, for example).  And there are non-national security interests.  Such as Libya.  And look where we are.  The non-national security interest.  Why? 

The United States got involved “because of the worry that Gaddafi could destabilize the fledgling revolutions in both Tunisia and Egypt, with Egypt being central to the future of the region; and, second, to prevent a humanitarian disaster.” Then the clincher: “A third reason was that, while it was not a vital interest for us, our allies considered it a vital interest. And just as they have helped us in Afghanistan, we thought it was important, the president thought it was important, to help them in Libya.”

All right, let me see if I understand this right.  Our allies joined us in the fight against international terrorism.  Because international terrorism is international.  It’s not only America at risk.  Everyone is.  So they helped us in Afghanistan.  Where we’ve taken the lead role.  Because it was in our national security interest.  As it was in theirs.  So, to thank them for joining the fight against international terrorism, we joined their fight to keep their supply of oil cheap and plentiful.  Got it.

There is no question, for instance, that what happens in Syria is of vital interest to Israel, which is America’s strategic partner; nor is there any question that Assad is watching Gaddafi’s brutal tactics for precedents that will serve the Syrian’s own savage regime…

The fundamentally important American alliance with Saudi Arabia, which holds the keys to the global oil market, was shaken badly by what King Abdullah saw as Obama’s betrayal of Hosni Mubarak. Add to that the king’s bitter disappointment with American course corrections, and reversals, on the Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative. A European envoy who met with Abdullah in early March described him as “incandescent” with rage at Obama. Yet the Saudis backed the intervention in Libya—only to see the Americans fumble their leadership once again.

As for Iran, ever since the regime there confronted and crushed huge pro-democracy protests in 2009, nothing threatens it more than successful revolutions in the Arab world. And nothing gratifies Iran’s leaders more than to see the United States dithering about whether Arab democracy is in American interests. The ripple effects are felt even in East Asia, where a former U.S. ambassador says he’s heard that the North Koreans are telling the Chinese “if this is the best the Americans can do in Libya, we’ve got nothing to worry about.”

Well, if Obama’s foreign policy strategy is to placate our enemies and infuriate our allies, he’s succeeded.  If that wasn’t the strategy you’d then have to say those in charge of foreign policy are in over their heads.  Or just incompetent.

Israel Looks at Syria and sees Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran

The world’s superpower can suffer bouts of incompetence.  Because it takes time to bring down a superpower.  We have the world’s largest economy.  And the most powerful military.  It takes a lot to disrupt our daily lives.  So people don’t really fear the outside world.  Except the occasional terrorist attack.  And when something like that happens, people rally around the grownups.  George W. BushRudy Giuliani.  But can you imagine if it was that way all of the time?  To be under attack all the time?  To be in a perpetual state of war?  The Israelis can.  They can’t afford the luxury of incompetence.  There, the grownups are in charge.  And they’re looking at all the developments in the Middle East a little differently than the Obama Administration (see Israel in a quandary over turmoil in Syria by Joel Greenberg posted 4/22/2011 on The Washington Post).

Syria has long been a bitter enemy of Israel’s, a key player in a regional alliance with Iran, a backer of the militant Hezbollah group in Lebanon and host to the political leadership of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. Yet it has also been a reliable foe, keeping its cease-fire lines with Israel quiet for decades through periods of war and confrontation in Lebanon and Gaza, and it has participated in U.S.-mediated peace talks.

A power shift in Damascus could alter those dynamics. But there is no clear sense in Israel of where that might lead, and there are a range of views here on the most preferable scenario. Experts speculate that Syria could dissolve into anarchy and civil war, Libya-style, or that a new authoritarian leadership could emerge, backed by the army and security forces, or a government dominated by the long-banned Muslim Brotherhood.

So Syria is a lot like Egypt in a sense.  Peaceful and secular.  The only difference is that they’re in tight with Iran.  And Hezbollah and Hamas.  Who have a penchant for killing Jews in Israel.  And share a common objective with Iran.  The destruction of Israel.  But it could be worse.  They’re not Islamist.  They may be the client of an Islamist state (Iran).  But they’re not Islamist.

“We prefer the devil we know,” said Ephraim Sneh, a former deputy defense minister, referring to Assad. “Although the Islamist forces are not the majority in the opposition, they are better organized and politically competent. And if we fantasize today that one day we’ll be able to take the secular regime in Syria outside the Iranian orbit, it may be more difficult, if not impossible, if the regime is an Islamist one.”

Dore Gold, a former foreign policy adviser to Netanyahu who heads the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, also emphasized the importance to Israel of monitoring “who the opposition is” in Syria to see whether “what looks like a sincere desire for freedom ends up being hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood.”

“Israel views a lot of the current developments through the prism of the Iranian threat,” Gold added. “It would be unfortunate if Iran becomes the beneficiary of the developments across the Middle East. Iran could face a tremendous strategic loss if the Syrian regime falls and is replaced by a more Western-oriented leadership.”

How wise.  If only Obama viewed developments through the prism of the Iranian threat.  Perhaps he would have moved slower on Egypt.  Until we knew who the opposition was.  And whether the Muslim Brotherhood would hijack their democracy movement.  Maybe we could have persuaded Mubarak to implement reforms.  Like the Israelis are willing to do with Assad.  Because sometimes the known devil is easier to deal with than the unknown one. 

Still, a change of leadership in Syria or a weakened Assad regime could present opportunities that the United States and Israel should explore when the dust settles, according to Uri Sagi, a former chief of military intelligence who headed the Israeli negotiating team in talks with the Syrians from 1999 to 2000.

“I would suggest that the Americans take advantage of this crisis in order to change the balance here, namely to get the Syrians out of their intimate relationship with Hezbollah on the one hand and the Iranians on the other,” Sagi said.

The Syrian policy would probably be a little less complicated had it not followed the collapse of our ally in Egypt.  Had the Syrian uprising happened first, there would have been more room for risk taking in Syria.  We would have had the opportunity to shut down Hezbollah and Hamas.  By severing the link to Iran via Syria.  But Egypt happened first.  And the great unknown now is the Muslim Brotherhood.  They’re there.  Lurking in the background.  In Egypt.  And in Syria. 

Egypt is our ally.  Syria is not.  If we’re hesitating to act in Syria, then we should have hesitated in Egypt.  This may prove to have been a big mistake.  Forcing Mubarak out.  We’re sending mixed messages to our allies and enemies.  And losing all credibility by flailing about in Libya sure doesn’t help matters either.

Obama Looks at Syria and sees the 2012 Election

Yes, American foreign policy has not been President Obama’s shining moment.  But I’m sure there’s a good reason for that.  After all, he’s president.  He must have a lot of things to worry about.  Important things.  More important than turmoil in the Middle East.  I mean, how can that compare to his reelection campaign (see Obama’s 2012 Campaign: What’s the Strategy? by Daniel Stone posted 4/22/2011 on The Daily Beast)?

Staffers declined to disclose how many people are currently working for Obama in Chicago, and how fast the operation has been taking in money. But so far, campaign events hosted by the president himself have had high yields. At several fundraisers this week in San Francisco and Los Angeles, some supporters donated up $35,800 per couple, the maximum allowed by federal election laws.

Sure they’re shooting Syrians down in the street.  But it’s not all bad news for Obama.  His fund raising is doing very well.

Despite the clear advantage of having all the trappings of the presidency—Air Force One, a support staff of hundreds, guaranteed press coverage—Obama’s challenges may be new and unique. “Last time he was an underdog and outsider and really led a movement,” says Tad Devine, a senior adviser to Al Gore’s 2000 and John Kerry’s 2004 campaigns. “This time is different. He’s the president. His campaign will have to take advantage of all the things they did last time, coordinating and using technology. It’s hard not to be institutional.”

You can say many things about Obama.  Criticize him for his disastrous economic policies.  The lack of transparency in his administration.  His abysmal foreign policy.  But one thing for sure.  He’s a man that his priorities in order.  Reelection first.  Everything else is a distant second.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

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