Today marks the first anniversary of the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight 17 over Ukrainian by Pro- Russian rebels. While Malaysian Airlines can be faulted for flying over an area of known conflict even though the airspace was open, today there is no doubt that this was a deliberate act of mass murder committed by Pro-Russian rebels fighting the Ukrainian government. There is equally little doubt that the BUK Missile launcher used by those rebels was provided by the Russian Government of Vladimir Putin. Indeed many speculate that given the difficulty and considerable training needed to operate there may well have been Russian military advisors and or operators at the controls of the BUK launcher. These questions do nothing to change the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin bears personal responsibility for constructing the environment that lead to these deaths, a criminal accessory before the fact to 298 counts of murder.
Wreckage of MH17 in Days After Being Shot Down by Pro-Russian Rebels
Video which has aired today shows gruesome images of the Pro-Russian thugs rummaging through the personal effects of the dead and treating their remains without respect in the moments after the attack. International investigators were kept away from the crash site for several days and once they arrived it was clear the wreckage had been tampered with in such a way that there will always be unanswered questions. Very much like KAL007 in 1983, the Russian military showed they have no moral hesitation shooting down civilian airlines without regard to cost.
While the west was quick to express outrage at the shooting down of a civilian airliner by irregular Russian forces, they have been long on words and short on action. The European nations are reluctant to too deeply offend their commercial partner Russian and the Obama administration continued its policy of spineless appeasement. But let there be no doubt, Vladimir Putin is a cold blooded murder whose hands will be forever blood stained. Never has appeasement deterred international criminals from further bloodshed. As the families mourn the anniversary of their loved ones deaths, we must wonder who will Putin kill next?
An Agreement in the Fine European Tradition of Appeasement
In a rush to chalk up some diplomatic achievement in the waning days of a presidency characterized by foreign policy naivete, confusion and failure, President Obama trumpeted the deal reached today with Iran. This agreement confirms international recognition of Iran as a nuclear power while allowing Iran to continue weapons research while impeding production during its term. In exchange Iran grants inspection rights to the United Nations while simply ignoring the question of access to all military facility. Most notably the international sanctions placed on Iran, one of the worlds foremost terrorist nations come to an end. After the 15 year term of the agreement restrictions on and access to Iran’s nuclear facilities come to an abrupt end. Welcome the Islamic Bomb. Neville Chamberlin would be proud of this uniquely European deal which has as its center peace appeasement.
President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry Champion Appeasement in Nuclear Deal with Terrorist Iran
The central failure of this agreement involves its failure to restrict Iran’s research and the development of capability. Assuming it is honored by Iran, a very big assumption, it allows Iran to maintain 2% of its enriched uranium. Simplistically this sounds good as they must dispose of 98%. However all enriched uranium is not equal and weapons grade material requires considerable research and refinement. This is most important if a nation wants to not simply produce a crude bomb which can be delivered in the back of a truck. Iran has an aggressive ballistic missile development program not affected by this deal in any way. A warhead size bomb requires a very sophisticated design and Iran has just been given a green light to continue its work towards a nuclear ballistic missile capability.
Proponents are pointing to a two thirds reduction in centrifuges, however we again run into the question of technological quality; all centrifuges are not created equal. Only a small number of centrifuges are required to continue full scale research. At the end of the agreement, of at any point during its term if Iran chooses to violate, they can simply commission a large number of new centrifuges, a process which would take months if not weeks.
In exchange for relatively minor concessions from Iran President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry have given up the store. The sanctions which brought the Iranians to the table will be gone. Make no mistake our appeasement friendly allies in Europe will quickly move to commercially profit from this and once gone will never return. The Iranians showed up for these negotiations with a weak hand and leave with the candy store near fully stocked. Not bad for the leading terrorist state in the world.
President Obama today reminded us that while congress has the right to review and vote on this his veto pen stands ready to stop any congressional “interference”. Well done President Obama; by classifying this as an agreement not a treaty you seem to have dodged the Treaty Clause of the Constitution. Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution grants to the President the ability to negotiate and sign treaty but then requires the advice and consent represented by a 2/3 vote of the Senate for the treaty to be ratified. Constitutional government is an inconvenient thing to leaders who seek to exercise unilateral power. Foreign parties should be fully aware that this agreement is not binding on the Government of the United States of America but only on the Obama Administration. At 12:01pm EDT on January 20, 2017 there will be a new administration in power. One only hopes they have a different view of appeasing terrorist states.
Desperation in diplomacy is never a good thing. To be sure the Iranian nuclear threat may be the most complicated and serious foreign policy dilemma since the fall of Soviet Communism. There are no good military options and the use of diplomacy is itself a positive thing. But bad deals are just bad deals and they help nobody in the long run. President Obama in advancing this agreement has imposed a terrible price of the future of the United States, one his successors will have to clean up, simply to get a hideous agreement he can put on a display wall at his soon to be built presidential museum and claim it as an accomplishment.
Today we were all saddened with the formal news we had all feared, the death of Kayla Mueller at the hands of her ISIS captors. This was a young woman who went to Syria because she wanted to aid in relieving the suffering of the Syrian people at the hands of their corrupt leaders. Today we saw statements form Kayla’s friends and family and their pain was hard to watch. All America stands with her family in their grief and mourns the loss of a very special life far too soon. This comes just over a week after the posting of ISIS Burning captured Jordanian Pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh was announced by the Islamofascist group. Moral relativists would tell you we need to understand why ISIS would be led to perform such atrocities. The truth is much simpler; ISIS and its Islamofascist philosophy are the face of pure evil in the world today.
After much thought a screen capture from that video of the insane slaughter of the pilot has been included with this post as it is important to see what ISIS has done. In performing such acts the killings of Kayla and Moaz the Islamofascists have surrendered any claim to humanity they had. They are a cancerous growth on humanity and like any malignancy, they must be eliminated. The reality is we will see more such acts, and given ISIS’s progression towards increasingly sadistic acts, the worst is yet to come.
What is equally starling are the differences in our two nation’s responses. King Abdullah II of Jordan pledged to wage war and wipe the ISIS infestation off the face of the planet. Spending much of his time since the execution became public with his troops, he has said ‘The only problem we’re going to have is running out of fuel and bullets.’ True leaders lead and can come from any nation great or small. Jordan is fortunate to be lead by a courageous leader and his time in history is now.
Contrast that with comments made by President Barack Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast when he compared the atrocities of Islamofascists with the acts of Christian crusaders more than 500 years ago. The Democrat administration continues to use the minimum amount of force needed to keep the American people and their representatives in congress from removing the decision from his failed Presidency. The world should have no misunderstanding; Barack Obama does not speak for the majority of the American people. He has abdicated that responsibility.
We are past the point of taking legal or legislative action against President Obama; he is a lame duck and will be on the stage for less than 2 years. Yet if left unchecked by Western Democracies ISIS will morph during that period into something even more depraved than it is today. One act the Congress could take is to drop all discussions on Approval of Force resolutions and instead pass an unambiguous Declaration of War against ISIS and any state or group providing support. Even will all his arrogance, I suspect Barack Obama would realize vetoing the Declaration of War would be political suicide, assuming the Declaration was passed by less than a veto proof majority.
It may be unpopular in some circles to say this, but President George W. Bush was right in that we are engaged in a multi generational struggle that will determine the very nature of humanity in the future. The responsibility lies with each and every one of us to ensure the scourge of Islamofascism is wiped from the face of the earth. The more we wait the more death and misery will be endured.
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Edmund Burke
Normally members of a Punk Rock bank being sentenced to two years in prison would hardly raise an eyebrow, let alone have the attention of people all over the world. For me personally that is almost as surprising as that I am about to use the “P” word in writing for which I fear my mother is about to roll over in her grave. Yet this seemingly irrelevant event has shaken those who cherish freedom around the world. In a Moscow court today, three members of the Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot were sentenced to two years in prison for the crime of “Hooliganism”. Yet to virtually the entire world this is seen for what it is, retaliation for these three artists speaking out against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Members of the Russian Punk Rock Band Pussy Riot Protest in Moscow
This past March, three of the 10 members of Pussy Riot entered the Main Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow, Cathedral of Christ the Savior, and from the alter protested the alleged stealing of the Russian Presidential election by Vladimir Putin. As to whether those allegations are true is the subject of considerable debate and not the point of this essay. Indeed, I find the taking of political protests into a church distasteful and imprudent. However it is the reaction of the Russian prosecutors to the protest that has caused artists, politicians and average citizens around the world to speak out against the repressive actions of the Russian administration. The charges under which these young women were prosecuted carried up to 10 years imprisonment in Russia’s notorious prison system.
Since first becoming President on December 31, 1999 upon the resignation of Boris Yeltsin, Putin has restored a sense of order in Russia as well as establishing relative economic stability. Yet at the same time Putin has given cause for concern as to his commitment to freedom and democracy, especially in the wake of the constitutional two step which returned him to the presidency this year. I suspect his overwhelming election was in fact legitimate given the overwhelming desire of the Russian people to see stability and safety restored. At the same time his methods have only brought the legitimacy of his administration into question.
This is why three members of a formerly obscure punk rock band have been elevated to international symbols of freedom. While their words of protest may have been concerning to all those who value freedom, President Putin’s reaction has been frightening. Had Putin simply allowed these three to sing their songs and have their protest, they would be long forgotten. It has been Putin’s own actions which has given legitimacy to their words and united the free world in protest. If freedom fails in Russia we will find ourselves in a geopolitical crisis which could elevate tensions with the west to Cold War levels. The Russian people themselves rid themselves of the tyranny of the soviet system. President Putin would be well advised to embrace freedom and trust the Russian people themselves.
Thus I join millions of others around the world in calling for President Putin to immediately free these women and pardon them for all crimes they have been convicted. Furthermore, President Putin must embrace the freedoms the Russian people have given themselves. Ultimately his power is derived from the people of Russia and not imposed upon them. Should he fail to do this, the international community must not let this wrong stand. History has shown us that appeasement is simply an invitation to the extension of tyranny. So today the unlikely symbols of freedom are the three members of Pussy Riot who find themselves behind bars simply for their words. President Putin cannot be allowed to think that the world will allow this affront to democracy to go unchallenged or we may all find ourselves paying too high a price.
This week, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) celebrates its 90th anniversary, a milestone their Soviet counterpart never achieved. There will be parades with smiling children and banners exalting the virtues of Chinese Communism. Their success at building the world’s second largest economy will be trumpeted and their pride in one of the largest economic growth rates will be proudly hailed. Indeed the Chinese Communists will be celebrating what appears to be not only a successful past, but a bright future. This will be the narrative of the main stream media, yet as is often the case it will be disingenuously selective in its perspective.
Poster Celebrating the 90th Anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party
Buried deep in the coverage will be mention of how the Chinese Communist Party has held on to power when its older siblings in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe are now on the ash pile of history. The true nature of the Chinese Communists was demonstrated in June 1989, the same time when European Communism was falling. The Soviets under Mikhail Gorbachev when faced with massive popular unrest reacted by implementing democratic reform and learned a truism of history, when people are given freedom they will seek more. In two years the Soviet Union was a failed chapter in the history books. The CCP did not emulate their European comrade’s mistake and reacted to the prodemocracy protests with the traditional tools of totalitarian dictatorships, they sent in the tanks.
Pro-Democracy Protesters in Tiananmen Square Surround the Goddess of Democracy in May 1989
Few of us who are old enough to have lived through that day will forget the images of the tanks arriving in Tiananmen Square where hundreds of thousands of protestors had gathered since April of that year to peacefully demand democratic reforms for the Chinese People. Today’s celebrations in that very Square are certain not to contain the 10 meter tall Goddess of Democracy created from wire, foam and paper mache by student which came to symbolize their desire for freedom. It is unlikely we will ever know how many people died that day, official government numbers were 241 and said to be mostly soldiers supposedly killed by those dangerous unarmed student protesters. The Red Cross initially reported 2,600 dead and countless wounded. Graphic video surfaced showing the effects tank tracks can have on unarmed protesters. While the Chinese Communist Party will flood the streets with protesters chanting of the greatness of modern China; the real symbol of the strength of the Chinese people is a single solitary man, who had been walking home with a bag in one hand and a packsack in the other who stepped out onto the streets alone and simply stood before the advancing tanks, moving when they move, and stopped them. He was later identified as 19 year old Wang Weilin whose fate has never been determined with certainty, however it has been reported he was executed 14 days later.
Lone Chinese Man Faces Down Advancing Communist Tank Column in Tiananmen Square June 1989
Twenty years later we are bombarded by the media’s message of a Chinese economic miracle and the inevitability of China emerging as the largest economy in the world. Indeed the west has been a willing participant in china’s development with massive technology transfers by companies like General Electric who just this January contributed its global avionics business into a joint venture with a Chinese state controlled firm (GE’s Chairman Jeffrey Immelt is also Chairman of President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board). In doing so GE is working to build the Chinese aerospace industry in the naive hope of securing short term sales in china, a goal western firms are finding increasingly difficult. One can only imagine how much of the avionics technical knowhow being given to the Chinese Communists will ultimately find its way to the new Chengdu J-20 Fifth Generation Tactical Fighter which according to reports from the CIA rivals the performance of our own F22 Raptor. Yet much of the credit for China’s economic miracle has to go to the everyday westerner who enjoys the $600 iPad without consideration to the Chinese workers who live in near prison conditions in factory towns to produce cheap export goods fueling China’s economy. Maybe it is time for individual western citizens and corporations to take a look at how their own actions are impacting others in the world.
It is far from clear what the future holds for Chinese Communism and the impact it will ultimately have not only on the Chinese people but on the world. Those maps of China on the parade floats today show the island of Taiwan as part of China, something the people of that free island reject out of hand and should China attempt to impose communist rule on Taiwan by force the free world would be obliged to stop any communist aggression. At that point western technology transfers will seem even less well considered than they do today. Yet perhaps the biggest challenge to the rule of the Chinese Communist Party comes from the aspirations of the Chinese people themselves. Once a nation tastes the fruits of economic freedom, the aspirations for political freedom are hard to contain. What the Communists do not understand is that free markets go hand in hand with individual and political freedoms and are over time inseparable. History has shown us that once a people taste freedom, no totalitarian regime can deny them for long.