George Sarant

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Posts Tagged ‘US

THE RUSSIAN HACK

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According to US intelligence services there is little doubt that the Russians hacked the Democratic National Committee’s computers. But as President Obama made clear today that is old news, something he confronted Putin about months ago. He further stated that after that it stopped. I share his puzzlement as to why it is an issue in the media now.

Hillary Clinton now says that this was a factor in costing her the election, though it is unclear how that could have come to pass since there is no evidence anyone tampered with the electoral process itself. Mrs. Clinton seems to be confusing the DNC hack with her own problems with her personal email server, which is a completely different issue. Her negligence in that case, and her violation of various rules is what damaged her, if anything did. The DNC hack produced no information of any consequence, and the Wikileaks buildup was a total bust. Not a single thing detrimental to Hillary Clinton was revealed in the Russia-to-Wikileaks dump so it could not possibly have affected the election. The more salient reason why Hillary lost was the fact that she spent little or no time in places like Wisconsin and Michigan.

Nevertheless this kind of security break ought to concern everyone, especially in Europe where there are upcoming elections. The US cannot tolerate this kind of interference, or potential interference in our electoral process and measures to correct this ought to be taken. However, in terms of damage or influence, there was none apart from some embarrassment on the part of people whose emails were hacked. Nothing of any real interest to anyone was revealed, so for the parties involved it was a waste of time. Going forward, we need to be prepared to resist this sort of thing, and if our servers are breached at this point it is our own fault.

Written by georgesarant

December 16, 2016 at 11:54 PM

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THE WEST & THE MIDDLE EAST 1: SYRIA

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There is a considerable amount of saber-rattling going on with regard to Syria’s use of chemical weapons against civilians.  As disgusting and horrible as such action may be, it is hard to see how the end result is any different from being killed by bombs, gunshots, or fire. Granted it violates “International Law,” but it is unclear why the United States has to enforce it. The argument is that if we don’t, the law is meaningless, but how and why does it fall on the US to give it meaning? Nevertheless this action might be justified if it were to take place within the framework of some kind of coherent strategy. The problem is that we do not appear to have one, nor have the consequences been thoroughly vetted. 

Do we simply lob some missiles over to send a message about chemical weapons? What happens after that in terms of retaliation? Opponents have already said they would target Israel, never mind that Israel is not instigating the attack. If they do, certainly Israel will respond to defend itself, and then we have a wider war. To think that we can shoot some missiles as a message and then walk away is incredibly naive. The message otherwise can be reduced to “it’s okay to go on torturing and killing, just don’t use chemicals.”  If it is still about restoring US credibility it is too little too late, in terms of the President’s “line in the sand,” unless we are prepared to go much further. 

I would not oppose military action if there were a clear strategy to produce some kind of desired outcome. But there doesn’t appear to be any. The time to act in Syria has gone by. We still have not provided the opposition with adequate weapons to counter Assad’s forces, which we should have done over a year ago. Now it is not all that clear who is leading the opposition, and there is a rising Al Qaeda presence on that side. As awful as Assad’s regime may be, a country dominated by Al Qaeda would be far worse, and present an actual threat to the West.

That points to another law, the War Powers Act, according to which unless there is an imminent threat to the US, congressional approval must be obtained. Those who opposed George Bush for acting aggressively should note that even he obtained congressional approval before taking military action. It is hard to argue that Syria presents an imminent threat, so what is the legal basis for such a strike? These questions ought to be debated in congress before acting. To argue there isn’t time for that is ridiculous, given that the administration has let it be an open secret that we are going to attack so there is no element of surprise and the Syrian regime already has ample time to prepare.

Furthermore, we would be involving ourselves more deeply in what is becoming an overall civil war between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, with Iran and its allies aligned against most of the Arab states. Instead we should see this as an opportunity to get out of the line of fire, which I’ll explore more fully subsequently. Aiding one side covertly is one thing; getting directly involved in an even longer war is another.

Our priorities are also warped. If western countries are to be involved at all in this region, they ought to be stopping the continued persecution and increasing extinction of Christians in the Middle East, which we’ll also expand on next time. Right now our only strategy seems to be to punish Assad’s Syria, but not so much so as to topple the regime, which presumably would lead to chaos in the region. The problem is that “Syria” is not much of a nation to begin with. The current geography of much of the Middle East consists of provinces carved rather haphazardly out of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. This is one of the main reasons there is continuing turmoil in the area. The regime likes to pretend there is some relationship to the ancient Assyrian empire, but there isn’t any. Thus it is laughable when people in these countries question the legitimacy of Israel, given that their own countries are essentially no older in historical time.

 

 

Written by georgesarant

August 29, 2013 at 2:00 PM

TOLERATING THE INTOLERABLE

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One indicator of the degeneracy of European liberalism is crime. Many countries where crime was once virtually unknown now have a serious crime problem, albeit mostly of the petty variety. Visitors and tourists are often the primary (and easiest) targets, so as I prepare for another European trip I find it necessary to take certain precautions that never would have even come to mind in the past. Moving around the United States, Canada, or even Mexico you don’t think much about pickpockets and street scams, but in many European cities they are thriving. New York City, where I live, was once caricatured by Europeans with mock stick ups and the like, but is now the safest big city in the US and one of the safest in the world, thanks largely to Rudy Giuliani and Ray Kelly. 

Why is Europe experiencing this crime wave? The answer is what we in the US call “liberalism” (though the term has a different meaning there). Many countries have allowed themselves to be invaded by people up to no good due to liberal asylum laws and ease of admission. Where stricter laws exist they are barely enforced. But what is most striking is how lax the laws are. In Spain for example, pickpockets get all of three days jail time and a fine, no matter how many times they are caught. For the pickpockets and street hustlers it is just part of the cost of doing business so there is basically no deterrent. The result is that cities like Barcelona have become pickpocket heaven. These criminals are virtually all foreigners, as are many of their targets, i.e. tourists. The change is just mind-boggling from a few decades ago. It is as though the country has gone to the opposite extreme from the austere strictness of the Franco era. Similar conditions have led a country like Greece, where crime was once nonexistent, to now have a problem with it.

At the root of this problem is tolerance pushed to a loony extreme. In the contemporary western world the worst thing one can be is intolerant. That being the case, people go to great lengths to avoid being labeled “intolerant,” or “racist” as in the United States. To avoid this one must be nonjudgemental, no matter how rudely something violates a sense of propriety. This means there can be virtually no standards, which ultimately means that anything and everything must be tolerated. It warps the idea of tolerance, which in moderation is a moral principle, into circumstances where there can be no moral principles. 

A corollary to this is when a society loses belief in itself. When there is no sense of common good there is no hope for the future. All that matters is getting the most one can out of the present, and thus basically assenting to how anyone else gets theirs. But common sense should tell us that the more you tolerate crime the more likely you are to become a victim of crime. The US has not yet succumbed to this lunacy but the trajectory is heading that way, as moral principles once commonly held fall away, and the notion of tolerance is skewed to provide cover for the most morally indefensible kinds of behavior. A society that does not have the conviction to defend itself is doomed to fail, and it is truly sad to see what is happening to our European cousins.

 

 

 

Written by georgesarant

April 6, 2013 at 5:37 PM

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