Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Hagel, Obama re-Afghanistan, Free Speech, Gun Control, China

1) I was wrong in my earlier support for Chuck Hagel. After re-considering my 'capability, knowledge and character' test (the framework I use when deciding whether to support cabinet nominees), I now no longer believe that Hagel meets the 'knowledge' requirement to be America's next Secretary of Defense. Put simply, his positions on the major issues of national security are deeply troubling to me. They indicate a world view that I believe to be misguided. This isn't about his Israel comments - it should be obvious to all that US-Israeli interests will sometimes diverge (though the anti-Semitic tone Hagel used was unpleasant). However, I cannot understand how Hagel honestly opposes sanctions against Iran. I cannot understand how he can be so openly comfortable with the notion of additional cuts to defense (further cuts on top of Obama's $450 bn/ten year cuts). Mainly, I have serious issues with Hagel's position on Iraq and Afghanistan. Hagel referred to the Iraq 'Surge' as the ''most dangerous foreign policy blunder since Vietnam.'' When in fact, it was an audacious policy of great success. Hagel has also signaled a comfort with  Obama's increasingly ludicrous Afghanistan policy (see point 2). Taken together, these positions present a concerning picture about the advice and leadership that Hagel would provide as SecDef. Like other conservatives, I also worry that Obama intends to use Hagel to put a Republican face on major defense cuts.

2) Obama's policy towards Afghanistan has always been a disaster. First, he couldn't make his mind up about whether to support McChrystal's strategy. Second, he announced to the Taliban that the US would withdraw on a timeline. Third, he has systematically entertained the notion that his domestic spending priorities outweigh this key concern of national security. Fourth, he allows his policy to be driven by the shifting tides of US domestic politics, rather than by the advice of his senior military/national security leadership. Obama must not burn our Afghanistan successes in a misguided rush for the exit.

3) The growing complaints over video game/movie violence are pathetic and to me at least, also exceptionally annoying. We live in a free society. The First Amendment protects the right of professionals in the entertainment industry to shape their creations as they so desire. This is simple. If games/movies exceed the boundaries of social acceptance, then those productions will cease to gain consumer support and their producers will go out of business. In this context, at the margins free speech regulates itself. America must not follow the European course on free speech. A route typified by highly destructive wars against freedom.

4) Alex Jones is a delusional moron. He loves the sound of his own voice and he doesn't have a clue. But if Jones is a representative of American conservatism, Stalin was a democrat. Piers Morgan is trying to improve ratings on his show and I expect that he is succeeding. On a more serious note, there's one major question that I have for aggressive gun control advocates. If access is the key, why is gun crime highest in highly restrictive gun control locales like Chicago, DC, LA and Detroit?

5) In the long term, China will not sustainably replace the United States as the world's sole superpower. Consider China's absence of basic freedoms, failure to respect human rights, entrenchment of wealth and power in an unelected few and endemic culture of corrupt political patronage. These social challenges portend storms over the horizon.


  1. Regulating the entertainment industry and limiting their creation in terms of producing movies that are violent-free would render the film-regulating and rating authorities non-functional. What is the purpose of their existence, then?

  2. I do like that fact that you admit mistakes. I can see that you think in a critical and unbiased matter. With Afghanistan, I think its the best decision even if its ugly.

  3. Yeah, it's good to know that there are still some people that remains in between or neutral even when the society is forcing you to take sides. Hope more writers will take you as an example when blogging about sensitive topics.