Happy Easter, Happy Passover. On this Good Friday, we mark the tenth anniversary of Mel's movie, and over the weekend we'll have something with a lighter touch.
Caroline Glick, my old colleague from The Jerusalem Post, has a column using a very Steynian word, "The Disappearance of America's Will":
The most terrifying aspect of the collapse of US power worldwide is the US's indifferent response to it.
In Europe, in Asia, in the Middle East and beyond, America's most dangerous foes are engaging in aggression and brinkmanship unseen in decades.
That first sentence is very true. Thirteen years ago, the left hopped aboard the war-on-terror bandwagon for reasons of electoral self-preservation, and hopped off as soon as they could. But, after a decade of ineffectual thankless three-cups-of-tea transnational ersatz "nation-building" in Mesopotamia and the Hindu Kush, the right has largely checked out of global geopolitics, too. Whether the GOP nominates a compassionate amnesty guy like Jeb Bush or goes full Rand Paul, the world and its woes will not be much of a factor. Miss Glick again:
The generation coming of age today is similarly uninterested in US global leadership.
During the Cold War and in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the predominant view among American university students studying international affairs was that US world leadership is essential to ensure global stability and US national interests and values.
Today this is no longer the caseIt is because of this that the world is more likely than it has been since 1939 to experience a world war of catastrophic proportions.
There is a direct correlation between the US elite's preoccupation with social issues running the narrow and solipsistic gamut from gay marriage to transgender bathrooms to a phony war against women, and America's inability to recognize the growing threats to the global order or understand why Americans should care about the world at all.
If Putin closes down a transgender nightclub a week before the Special Olympics, he can get America's attention. When he annexes neighboring states, not so much. Under Nato, the US has collective-security treaty obligations to the Baltic States, but if I were Estonian I wouldn't bet on them. Not unless the Russians make the mistake of bombing a gay wedding in Tallinn.
David Goldman, meanwhile, is weary of the admiring line that that Putin guy is some kind of genius. He doesn't have to be when we're idiots. Miss Glick notes that, as a show of "strength", the US sent an unarmed warship to the Black Sea:
Clearly not impressed by the US moves, the Russians overflew and shadowed the US naval ship. As Charles Krauthammer noted on Fox News on Monday, the Russian action was not a provocation. It was "a show of contempt."
As Krauthammer explained, it could have only been viewed as a provocation if Russia had believed the US was likely to respond to its shadowing of the warship. Since Moscow correctly assessed that the US would not respond to its aggression, by buzzing and following the warship, the Russians demonstrated to Ukraine and other US allies that they cannot trust the US to protect them from Russia.
In other words, Putin correctly identified the show of strength as a show of weakness, and revealed it to the world as such. In the land of the unfocused, the clear-sighted man is king.
~Perhaps Americans will get the quiet life they long for if they let the world go its own way. But oddly the less power the United States projects around the planet the more it turns on its hapless citizens right here at home. I write often about the utterly repulsive paramilitarization of the American bureaucracy, most recently with regard to the snipers deployed by the Bureau of Land Management in a cattle-grazing dispute. Guest-hosting for Rush yesterday, I remarked that the showdown between guys in cowboy hats and invaders wearing the full Robocop was like something out of that terrible film from a year or two back, Cowboys And Aliens. John Fund has a column today on the United States of SWAT:
Dozens of federal agencies now have Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams to further an expanding definition of their missions. It's not controversial that the Secret Service and the Bureau of Prisons have them. But what about the Department of Agriculture, the Railroad Retirement Board, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Office of Personnel Management, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service? All of these have their own SWAT units and are part of a worrying trend towards the militarization of federal agencies — not to mention local police forces.
"Law-enforcement agencies across the U.S., at every level of government, have been blurring the line between police officer and soldier," journalist Radley Balko writes in his 2013 book Rise of the Warrior Cop. "The war on drugs and, more recently, post-9/11 antiterrorism efforts have created a new figure on the U.S. scene: the warrior cop — armed to the teeth, ready to deal harshly with targeted wrongdoers, and a growing threat to familiar American liberties."
The proliferation of paramilitary federal SWAT teams inevitably brings abuses that have nothing to do with either drugs or terrorism. Many of the raids they conduct are against harmless, often innocent, Americans who typically are accused of non-violent civil or administrative violations.
Take the case of Kenneth Wright of Stockton, Calif., who was "visited" by a SWAT team from the U.S. Department of Education in June 2011. Agents battered down the door of his home at 6 a.m., dragged him outside in his boxer shorts, and handcuffed him as they put his three children (ages 3, 7, and 11) in a police car for two hours while they searched his home. The raid was allegedly intended to uncover information on Wright's estranged wife, Michelle, who hadn't been living with him and was suspected of college financial-aid fraud.
As I always say, the US Secretary of Education doesn't employ a single teacher but he is the only education minister in the western world with his own personal SWAT team. Americans will end their days in a very dark place unless this vile trend is reversed.
Around the planet, Russia's neo-tsar, the Chinese Politburo, apocalyptic ayatollahs, Afghan goatherds and Benghazi jihad punks laugh at the very idea of American power, but on the home front, if your estranged wife failed to repay her college loan or you drink loose-leaf tea, you'll get your door kicked down and be cowering in terror.
In the Second World War, when the Japanese took Singapore and inflicted what Churchill called the most ignominious defeat in British military history, it was famously said of the colony's ill-prepared defenses that the guns were pointing the wrong way. In America today, the guns seem to be pointing the wrong way.
~One-man Commonwealth: If you liked my free-speech essay in the Aussie and UK Spectators, you can now read it in Canada's National Post. Beyond Her Majesty's Dominions, in the United States the invaluable if depressingly ever more necessary FIRE (the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) has a few observations on my piece.