Must It Always Be Wartime?

Societies often go to great lengths to separate war from peace. Wars are declared, sometimes with elaborate ritual. Soldiers wear uniforms and are part of specialized hierarchical organizations. Battlefields are often delineated. Maintaining this distinction is important because what is permissible in wartime is often prohibited in peacetime. Preventing the rules of war from infecting views of moral conduct in times of peace is essential for preserving civilization.

.. Captured combatants in wars between countries can be detained without charge or trial until the end of the armed conflict. In peacetime, by contrast, law enforcement rules allow the use of lethal force only as a last resort to stop an imminent lethal threat, and detentions generally can be sustained only after charges have been filed and a trial has taken place.

.. US soldiers now undertake public health programs, agricultural reform efforts, small business development projects, and training in the rule of law. This expanding mandate, as Brooks shows, has enabled the Pentagon to dramatically increase its budget

.. The militarization of these efforts has contributed to the “shrinking of humanitarian space” in which aid workers give assistance; they are increasingly endangered because they are perceived as military assets.

.. Other governments are developing or purchasing this technology as well. Even ISIS reportedly has attacked with simple drones.

.. if targeted killing is permitted under an expansive rationale for the “war against terrorism,” there may be no need for drones at all. Assassinations, poisoning, car bombs, “accidents”—there are plenty of ways to kill an “enemy combatant” once that characterization is accepted.

.. she suggests “recognizing that war and peace are not binary opposites, but lie along a continuum.” The task then, she concludes, is to ask not what the law requires, since the law’s answer depends on the difficult-to-resolve dispute over the definition of war or peace. What matters instead is what is right, based on our values.

.. The opponents of stronger limits on governmental powers to kill or detain are now likely to come from both the White House and the Kremlin. Even Theresa May, the new British prime minister, vowed at the most recent Conservative Party conference “never again” to “let those activist, left-wing human rights lawyers harangue and harass the bravest of the brave—the men and women of [Britain’s] armed forces.”

.. with countries as diverse as Russia, Turkey, Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates today all involved in active efforts against armed or terrorist groups outside their territories, any weakening of the rules would give those countries greater latitude too—a frightening thought.

Newt Gingrich Ad: US Should Suspend Civil Liberties to Combat Terrorism

Gingrich then suggested the United States should consider suspending civil liberties to combat terrorism as former President Abraham Lincoln did during the Civil War.

“People should go back and look at how Lincoln dealt with Southern sympathizers during the Civil War,” Gingrich said. “We passed a Sedition Act for example, which changed our ability to control people who were advocating treason.”

KSM: Hey, How Was I Supposed to Know George W. Bush Was a Cowboy?

Do you recall the Obama administration’s “stray voltage” theory? The gist was, “the president purposefully overstates his case knowing that it will create controversy… Controversy sparks attention, attention provokes conversation, and conversation embeds previously unknown or marginalized ideas in the public consciousness.” Part of it was a cynical calculation to let an argument about a presidential statement ensure a topic stayed front and center in the public’s mind; there’s also the side effect of ensuring that a brouhaha about a presidential statement overshadowed actual policy decisions – decisions that may be more consequential, but are less dramatic and interesting to the news media.

If the incoming Trump administration really is using a variation of the “stray voltage” approach, and Democrats really have an uncontrollable impulse to focus on the controversial statement du jour, the Trump administration could end up being stunningly effective in policymaking. A lot of seemingly dry and boring regulations can be repealed, executive orders withdrawn, rewritten, and issued, legislation passed by GOP majorities in Congress and signed, all while the political world froths at the mouth about the president’s latest Tweet or denunciation of the media, or theater performers, or anything else that comes to mind.

You can enact sweeping, dramatic changes to Americans’ lives under the radar.

.. Could this really happen? Could the next four (eight?) years really turn out to be a golden era for conservative policy?

.. Today, some on both the left and the right argue that al-Qaeda wanted to draw us into a quagmire in Afghanistan — and now the Islamic State wants to do the same in Iraq and Syria. KSM said this is dead wrong. Far from trying to draw us in, KSM said that al-Qaeda expected the United States to respond to 9/11 as we had the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut — when, KSM told Mitchell, the United States “turned tail and ran.” He also said he thought we would treat 9/11 as a law enforcement matter, just as we had the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the USS Cole in Yemen — arresting some operatives and firing a few missiles into empty tents, but otherwise leaving him free to plan the next attack.

.. “KSM explained that if the United States had treated 9/11 like a law enforcement matter, he would have had time to launch a second wave of attacks.” He was not able to do so because al-Qaeda was stunned “by the ferocity and swiftness of George W. Bush’s response.”

But KSM said something else that was prophetic. In the end, he told Mitchell, “We will win because Americans don’t realize . . . we do not need to defeat you militarily; we only need to fight long enough for you to defeat yourself by quitting.”

.. a ban on flag-burning is extremely popular, and most Americans instinctively detest the sight of the flag being burned. That’s the sort of provocation that raging anti-American mobs in foreign countries embrace. Of course, it’s likely that the most passionate – some would say unhinged – activists opposed to Trump are more interested in their own emotional catharsis than persuading the public about policy decisions.

The Lessons of Henry Kissinger

The legendary and controversial statesman criticizes the Obama Doctrine, talks about the main challenges for the next president, and explains how to avoid war with China.

.. He told me that he was expecting other nations, particularly the great powers, to enter a period of intense study, in order to understand how they should respond to a Trump presidency. He also said he expected the Islamic State, or other similarly minded jihadist organizations, to test Trump early by launching attacks, in order to provoke a reaction (or, he suggested, an overreaction).

.. “Nonstate groups may make the assessment that Trump will react to a terror attack in a way that suits their purposes,” Kissinger said.

.. JG: Do you think Trump is a Putin apologist?

HK: No. I think he fell into certain rhetoric because Putin said some good words about him—tactically—and he felt he had to respond.

.. I think most of the world’s foreign policy has been in suspense for six to nine months, waiting for the outcome of our election. They have just watched us undergo a domestic revolution. They will want to study it for some period. But at some point, events will necessitate decision making once more. The only exception to this rule may be nonstate groups; they may have an incentive to provoke an American reaction that undermines our global position.

..  JG: Why do you think this happened?

HK: The Trump phenomenon is in large part a reaction of Middle America to attacks on its values by intellectual and academic communities.


“ ‘Though Kissinger has been out of government service for several decades, I found his egomania to be undiminished by time.’ ”

.. Finally we came to an agreement. I would record our conversation, and transcribe it, and then show it to him, and he would, he promised, make changes only in order to clarify points or expand upon his arguments

.. I have never met someone as old as Kissinger who is so keen to impress semi-random strangers, including semi-random 19-year-old strangers. Over lunch, he was relentless in his attempt to win my daughter over to his understanding of the world, and his role in it. This quality makes him exasperating and mesmerizing, and it launches him on flights of self-exculpatory analysis. There is no issue—not the bombing of Cambodia, or his activities in Chile or Argentina, or his role in the Pakistani civil war, which gave birth to Bangladesh and resulted in mass death—that he is not eager to relitigate.

.. He laments that history is not taught consecutively, and that historical incidents are often decontextualized beyond recognition. His argument was compelling, but also self-serving: His core contention, when it comes to the greatest controversies in his career, is that postwar American support for anti-Communist allies is impossible to understand or rationalize without both proper historical context and a baseline sympathy for a pro-Western narrative. Universities, he said, “like to teach history as a series of discrete problems. And they above all don’t want to teach Western history. They believe that the West has committed so many crimes that they are not entitled to single it out. That is a thought that would never occur to a Chinese.

.. “A puzzling aspect about Obama is how someone so intelligent could treat his peers with the disdain he did in your article,” he said. “Someone of that stature usually develops a sense of humility.”

.. “The uncertainty of Clinton is whether the Sanders wing of the Democratic Party would permit her to carry out what she believes.”

.. JG: What are America’s perpetual, eternal interests?

HK: I would begin by saying that we have to have faith in ourselves. That is an absolute requirement. We can’t reduce policy to a series of purely tactical decisions or self-recriminations.

.. It seems to me that in the Western world, after the Second World War, we had a vision of a peaceful order. There was no question that we would sacrifice for it. We sent a large army to Europe. We spent a lot of money. We need to rediscover that spirit and adapt it to the realities that have emerged since then.