Recently in International Affairs Category


James Taranto thoroughly mocks John Kerry and Hillary Clinton for their flip-floppery on their support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq and makes a keen observation:

Meanwhile, look at the list of prospective GOP presidential candidates (based on the polls we cited in yesterday's column): Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker. Not one of them was in Congress in 2002. That means there is a very strong likelihood the 2016 presidential election will pit a Democrat who voted to authorize the Iraq war against a Republican who didn't. The joke would be perfect if only the Democrat were John Kerry.


Graeme Wood has produced a masterful dissection of how the Islamic State's religious devotion drives its strategy and tactics. It's a long piece, but I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in understanding what ISIS wants and how it views itself in the world.

Here is one small passage that describes how ISIS is forbidden from engaging diplomatically with anyone:

Choudary's colleague Abu Baraa explained that Islamic law permits only temporary peace treaties, lasting no longer than a decade. Similarly, accepting any border is anathema, as stated by the Prophet and echoed in the Islamic State's propaganda videos. If the caliph consents to a longer-term peace or permanent border, he will be in error. Temporary peace treaties are renewable, but may not be applied to all enemies at once: the caliph must wage jihad at least once a year. He may not rest, or he will fall into a state of sin.

One comparison to the Islamic State is the Khmer Rouge, which killed about a third of the population of Cambodia. But the Khmer Rouge occupied Cambodia's seat at the United Nations. "This is not permitted," Abu Baraa said. "To send an ambassador to the UN is to recognize an authority other than God's." This form of diplomacy is shirk, or polytheism, he argued, and would be immediate cause to hereticize and replace Baghdadi. Even to hasten the arrival of a caliphate by democratic means--for example by voting for political candidates who favor a caliphate--is shirk.

There's a lot more, and a lot to think about.


The Islamic State's branding and media operations are critical for their recruitment and survival, and America is struggling to compete.

It's been less than a year since IS burst onto the stage, seizing large amounts of territory and shocking the world with its brutally violent tactics. During that time, the group has evolved into a highly sophisticated multimedia organization, boasting slick social media strategies that could give major corporate marketing teams a run for their money. IS knows how to package its extremist ideology in the form of well-produced videos, attractive graphics, polished magazines and strategic online posts. It's also strikingly savvy at spreading them online, tailoring their presentation and message to media sites like Twitter, YouTube and Vine. The messages are hypercustomized in language, tone and content to reach as many people possible and ultimately go viral. As Marshall Sella recently wrote in Matter, IS is "an entire brand family, the equivalents of the Apple logo's glow ... terrorism's Coca-Cola." There's no need to hold an IS-stamped watch or baseball hat in your hands to face the truth: IS is a powerful and terrifying brand that we were not prepared to reckon with. ...

"These videos of people killing themselves and joining terrorist groups around the world, they're conveying a narrative of authenticity," [Oren Segal, co-director of the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism] said. "When we're trying to come up with something that opposes that, how do we capture an authentic counternarrative that doesn't look like 'Say no to drugs'? We need something meaningful. At the end of the day, it's a battle for hearts and minds."

The lack of such philosophical/moral/religious focus is a weakness of the Western secular system. We hope our strengths can make up for it: wealth, size, technology, liberty. For the past couple of centuries our system has managed to beat our more ideologically-cohesive opponents.


Chair of the Department of History at Saint Louis University Thomas F. Madden explains that the Crusades were defensive wars by Christians against centuries of Muslim aggression, and that Muslims ultimately won. It wasn't until World War I that the Muslim Ottoman Empire was dismantled. If anything, modern Muslims should brag about their ancestors' victories rather than playing the victim whenever the word "crusade" is uttered.

So what is the truth about the Crusades? Scholars are still working some of that out. But much can already by said with certainty. For starters, the Crusades to the East were in every way defensive wars. They were a direct response to Muslim aggression -- an attempt to turn back or defend against Muslim conquests of Christian lands.

Christians in the eleventh century were not paranoid fanatics. Muslims really were gunning for them. While Muslims can be peaceful, Islam was born in war and grew the same way. From the time of Mohammed, the means of Muslim expansion was always the sword. Muslim thought divides the world into two spheres, the Abode of Islam and the Abode of War. Christianity -- and for that matter any other non-Muslim religion -- has no abode. Christians and Jews can be tolerated within a Muslim state under Muslim rule. But, in traditional Islam, Christian and Jewish states must be destroyed and their lands conquered. When Mohammed was waging war against Mecca in the seventh century, Christianity was the dominant religion of power and wealth. As the faith of the Roman Empire, it spanned the entire Mediterranean, including the Middle East, where it was born. The Christian world, therefore, was a prime target for the earliest caliphs, and it would remain so for Muslim leaders for the next thousand years.

With enormous energy, the warriors of Islam struck out against the Christians shortly after Mohammed's death. They were extremely successful. Palestine, Syria, and Egypt -- once the most heavily Christian areas in the world -- quickly succumbed. By the eighth century, Muslim armies had conquered all of Christian North Africa and Spain. In the eleventh century, the Seljuk Turks conquered Asia Minor (modern Turkey), which had been Christian since the time of St. Paul. The old Roman Empire, known to modern historians as the Byzantine Empire, was reduced to little more than Greece. In desperation, the emperor in Constantinople sent word to the Christians of western Europe asking them to aid their brothers and sisters in the East.


Drug smugglers are using drones on America's southern border, and the response from the Border Patrol isn't very illuminating.

A recent incident on the Mexican side of the United States' southern border has shed new light on how drones are being used by both sides in the War on Drugs. Late last month a drone overloaded with meth crash-landed in a supermarket parking lot in Tijuana, Mexico, less than half a mile from the border, and was recovered by Mexican law-enforcement officials. The drone's existence provides a rare glimpse of the constantly evolving tactics of transnational smugglers, and it also raises questions about the U.S. federal government's surveillance of the border. The U.S. law-enforcement agencies in charge of policing the border claim to be ready for any threat posed by drones.

So obviously some drugs are being smuggled across the border via drones, but Customs and Border Patrol says:

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, on the other hand, is downplaying concerns about the potential for growing use of unmanned aircraft at the border. "To date, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has not intercepted any drones smuggling narcotics across the borders into the United States," CBP spokesman Carlos Lazo said in a statement. "In collaboration with our federal, state, local and international law enforcement partners, CBP remains vigilant against emerging trends and ever-changing tactics employed by transnational criminal organizations behind illegal attempts to smuggle narcotics into the U.S."

We're supposed to be relieved that they haven't intercepted any drug smuggling drones? Whatever the CBP told Ryan Lovelace, their drone strategy isn't a counter-drone strategy in any sense.

Outwardly, the Border Patrol appears to be ready for drone-powered drug smugglers. Border Patrol agents would not comment on the counter-measures the agency might employ to combat drones that are threatening its agents or being used in the commission of crimes. But the Border Patrol has an arsenal of drones of its own. The agency's Unmanned Aircraft System has a fleet of nine Predator B drones that can fly for 20 hours straight and travel at speeds up to 276 miles per hour to help secure the nation's border. Predator B drones, which are also used by the military, are much more sophisticated and powerful than the drone that crashed in Mexico. The drug-smuggling drone was much smaller, slower, and less durable than the top-dollar equipment paid for by American taxpayers.

Possessing your own drones doesn't help you defeat enemy drones in any way, unless you've got air-to-air combat drones of some sort. Definitely not Predators, which are for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. So the fact that CPB's drones are more expensive and more capable than the smuggler drones is really not relevant to this matter.

If the White House can't be protected from hobbyist drones then the borders definitely cannot be protected from determined adversaries with drones.


I'm always intrigued by the way that George Friedman ties geography to current affairs. Here is writes about the centuries-long hostility and ambivalence between Christian and Muslim cultures along the Mediterranean Sea in light of the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

There is here a question of what we mean when we speak of things like Christianity, Islam and secularism. There are more than a billion Christians and more than a billion Muslims and uncountable secularists who mix all things. It is difficult to decide what you mean when you say any of these words and easy to claim that anyone else's meaning is (or is not) the right one. There is a built-in indeterminacy in our use of language that allows us to shift responsibility for actions in Paris away from a religion to a minor strand in a religion, or to the actions of only those who pulled the trigger. This is the universal problem of secularism, which eschews stereotyping. It leaves unclear who is to be held responsible for what. By devolving all responsibility on the individual, secularism tends to absolve nations and religions from responsibility.

This is not necessarily wrong, but it creates a tremendous practical problem. If no one but the gunmen and their immediate supporters are responsible for the action, and all others who share their faith are guiltless, you have made a defensible moral judgment. But as a practical matter, you have paralyzed your ability to defend yourselves. It is impossible to defend against random violence and impermissible to impose collective responsibility. As Europe has been for so long, its moral complexity has posed for it a problem it cannot easily solve. Not all Muslims -- not even most Muslims -- are responsible for this. But all who committed these acts were Muslims claiming to speak for Muslims. One might say this is a Muslim problem and then hold the Muslims responsible for solving it. But what happens if they don't? And so the moral debate spins endlessly.

This dilemma is compounded by Europe's hidden secret: The Europeans do not see Muslims from North Africa or Turkey as Europeans, nor do they intend to allow them to be Europeans.

It's easy to get caught up in the present and forget the path that brought us to today.


Havana before Communism. The pictures are amazing.

It was during the presidency of Gerardo Machado in the '20s that Cuba's tourist trade really took off. Hotels, restaurants, night clubs, golf clubs and casinos sprung up in Havana catering to the rich jet-setters seeking luxury. Socialites, debutantes, celebrities like Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra, and American mobsters came to play in the Cuban paradise.

Tourism, and the growing and selling of sugar, was making some Cubans rich, but not all Cubans. What the tourists didn't see, or didn't want to, was the underclass, people of poverty like the macheteros -- sugarcane cutters -- who worked only during the four month season, and the rest of the year were unemployed, and angry.

That degree of income inequality as well as accusations of corruption within the government of President Fulgencio Batista laid the groundwork for the Cuban Revolution, prompting an enduring economic embargo by the United States and the rapid end of Havana's high-life.


Victor Davis Hanson decries multiculturalism and reminds the world of the prescription for national success:

For Muslims of the Middle East, there is a clear pathway to economic prosperity and a secure lifestyle; countries as diverse as South Korea, Japan, and Chile are proof of it. Within wide parameters, success only asks adherence to a mostly free market, some sort of freedom of expression, religious tolerance, a separation of science from orthodoxy, the rule of law, and consensual constitutional government -- along with a cultural ethos of rough parity between the sexes, merit-based evaluation instead of tribal favors, and tolerance for ethnic and religious minorities.

If a country chooses to follow this pathway then success will follow almost inevitably regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or skin color.


I've been away from the computer for a while over the holidays! So, why not jump back on in time to join the chorus berating President Obama for ignoring the unity rally in Paris.

More than 40 heads of state came together in Paris to denounce a wave of terrorism that defiled the City of Light last week -- yet there was one glaring exception: The U.S. sent only a low-level official.

French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron and dozens of other world leaders all took part in the powerful denunciation of last week's terror attacks that left 17 innocents dead.

Even Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas set aside their differences to march together on Boulevard Voltaire.

But the nation that stands as the symbolic face of the war on terror was nowhere in sight.

Neither President Obama nor Vice President Biden showed up -- and in fact, America's only representative was its relatively unknown and low-profile ambassador to France.

In all fairness, this is what ambassadors are for. Maybe the President completely misread the mood of the world and decided that this rally was nothing special?

Obama and Biden had empty public schedules Sunday, but the White House declined to comment on why they didn't go.

Presumably by the time it became clear that 40 world leaders would be attending, it was too late for the President and Vice President to get to France.

Attorney General Eric Holder did go to Paris -- but only for an anti-terrorism summit convened by Hollande ahead of the unity rally. Holder left Hollande and the others sometime after the group exited the Elysee Palace. Around the time other world leaders and dignitaries boarded buses to get to the front of the march, Holder was taping an interview for "Meet the Press," NBC confirmed.

Maybe Holder didn't even know about the world leaders when the march was about to start?

Still, "no one told us" is only excuse if you need to be told when to express unity.


I've been away from the computer for a while over the holidays! So, why not jump back on in time to join the chorus berating President Obama for ignoring the unity rally in Paris.

More than 40 heads of state came together in Paris to denounce a wave of terrorism that defiled the City of Light last week -- yet there was one glaring exception: The U.S. sent only a low-level official.

French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron and dozens of other world leaders all took part in the powerful denunciation of last week's terror attacks that left 17 innocents dead.

Even Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas set aside their differences to march together on Boulevard Voltaire.

But the nation that stands as the symbolic face of the war on terror was nowhere in sight.

Neither President Obama nor Vice President Biden showed up -- and in fact, America's only representative was its relatively unknown and low-profile ambassador to France.

In all fairness, this is what ambassadors are for. Maybe the President completely misread the mood of the world and decided that this rally was nothing special?

Obama and Biden had empty public schedules Sunday, but the White House declined to comment on why they didn't go.

Well, football.

According to an administration official, President Obama spent part of his Sunday afternoon watching a National Football League game on television. Both games were broadcast hours after the march.

Presumably by the time it became clear that 40 world leaders would be attending, it was too late for the President and Vice President to get to France. The world leaders who showed up didn't have to travel very far on short notice.

Attorney General Eric Holder did go to Paris -- but only for an anti-terrorism summit convened by Hollande ahead of the unity rally. Holder left Hollande and the others sometime after the group exited the Elysee Palace. Around the time other world leaders and dignitaries boarded buses to get to the front of the march, Holder was taping an interview for "Meet the Press," NBC confirmed.

Maybe Holder didn't even know about the world leaders when the march was about to start?

Still, "no one told us" is only excuse if you need to be told when to express unity.

Says Jake Tapper:

There was higher-level Obama administration representation on this season's episodes of "The Good Wife" on CBS.

And it's not like other American luminaries of either party did better than the President:

I find it hard to believe that Speaker of the House John Boehner and new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had more worthy pursuits on Sunday than standing side-by-side with our French brothers and sisters as they came together in an inspirational way. ...

And I'm frankly floored that not one of the people who is contemplating running for president in 2016 has yet to even tweet on the subject of the momentous demonstration in Paris, much less attend France's biggest rally in the history of the republic.

I imagine that Hillary Clinton and her husband are kicking themselves for not hopping on a corporate jet to get here. Can you picture Hillary and Bill walking in the front row, arm-in-arm with Netanyahu and Hollande?

Chris Christie, Scott Walker and Paul Ryan attended the Green Bay-Dallas football game Sunday and at least one of them sent his potential rivals mischievous tweets as if they were contemplating running for president of Beta Theta Pi.

And Jeb? Mitt? Crickets.


Many private security firms seem to think that the Sony hack was was perpetrated by a disgruntled insider, but the FBI is standing by it's initial assessment that North Korea is behind the attack.

US cybersecurity experts say they have solid evidence that a former employee helped hack Sony Pictures Entertainment's computer system -- and that it was not masterminded by North Korean cyberterrorists.

One leading cybersecurity firm, Norse Corp., said Monday it has narrowed its list of suspects to a group of six people -- including at least one Sony veteran with the necessary technical background to carry out the attack, according to reports. ...

Kurt Stammberger, senior vice president at Norse, said he used Sony's leaked human-resources documents and cross-referenced the data with communications on hacker chat rooms and its own network of Web sensors to determine it was not North Korea behind the hack.

The United States may have a lot invested in the FBI's assessment being correct: we may have already struck back at North Korea.

North Korea's connection to the Internet was essentially inactive Monday just days after the U.S. said it would consider a "proportional response" to a hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment related to the comedy flick "The Interview." The U.S. would not confirm if it was behind nearly hourly outages that occurred Sunday and Monday in North Korea. U.S. Cyber Command, which handles the U.S. military's unified defensive and offensive capabilities online, could not immediately be reached for comment.

UPDATE 3:25 p.m. EST: The U.S. State Department did not confirm nor deny any involvement in the outage, and spokeswoman Marie Harf had this to say:

"As the president said, we are considering a range of options in response. We aren't going to discuss publicly operational details about the possible response options or comment on those kind of reports in any way except to say that as we implement our responses, some will be seen, some may not be seen. So I can't confirm those reports, but in general, that's what the president has spoken to."

North Korea isn't likely to get much sympathy, but the U.S. will look pretty foolish if it becomes obvious that we were baited into a "counter"-attack on false pretenses.

Bruce Schneier has more thoughts on the perpetrators and doesn't think the job was done by insiders.


The attack by the Taliban on a school in Pakistan is abhorrent and inhuman; their refusal to stand by their actions is cowardly and deceitful.

niformed militants attacked a school, killing at least 126 people and taking hostages on Tuesday, an official said - an atrocity condemned by the U.S. as "senseless and inhumane."

"The gunmen entered class by class and shot some kids one by one," a student who was in the school at the time told local media.

Provincial official Bahramand Khan said at least 126 people were killed and 122 injured. More than 100 of the dead were school children, he added. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault, which appeared to be targeting the the children of senior military officials. ...

Taliban spokesman Muhammad Umar Khorasani told Reuters his group was responsible for the attack. "Our suicide bombers have entered the school, they have instructions not to harm the children, but to target the army personnel," he said.

Emphasis mine. If you think you're justified in massacring children to strike at your enemies at least have the balls to say it.


I just filled up my car for under $20, so despite dire warnings about the death of green energy I'm going to say that cheap oil is awesome.

The collapsing oil price that is reshaping the global economy could derail the green energy revolution by making renewable power sources prohibitively bad value, experts have warned.

Oil tumbled below $60 a barrel for the first time in more than five years yesterday - a fall of 44 per cent since June. It is forecast to fall further.

A new "era of cheap oil" would be good news for consumers and motorists - but analysts say the consequences for politics, industry and the climate could be even more radical.

It's important to note that the "green revolution" has always been completely dependent on public subsidies. Cheaper oil would make those subsidies much more expensive to allow green energy to compete with brown energy. Maybe we should use some of the money we're saving to develop climate-mitigation technologies?

Bank of America says that OPEC is dead and oil is going to $50 a barrel -- great news all around. Who's hurt? Petro-funded enemies like Russia, Iran, and Venezuala. Who wins? Europe, America, and everyone who has to buy oil from the cartel.

The Opec oil cartel no longer exists in any meaningful sense and crude prices will slump to $50 a barrel over the coming months as market forces shake out the weakest producers, Bank of America has warned.

Revolutionary changes sweeping the world's energy industry will drive down the price of liquefied natural gas (LNG), creating a "multi-year" glut and a much cheaper source of gas for Europe.

Francisco Blanch, the bank's commodity chief, said Opec is "effectively dissolved" after it failed to stabilize prices at its last meeting. "The consequences are profound and long-lasting," he said.

The free market will now set the global cost of oil, leading to a new era of wild price swings and disorderly trading that benefits only the Mid-East petro-states with deepest pockets such as Saudi Arabia. If so, the weaker peripheral members such as Venezuela and Nigeria are being thrown to the wolves.

I'm loving the $2 gas.

Victor Davis Hanson says that conditions are ripe for a large European war:

The world is changing and becoming even more dangerous -- in a way we've seen before.

In the decade before World War I, the near-100-year European peace that had followed the fall of Napoleon was taken for granted. Yet it abruptly imploded in 1914. Prior little wars in the Balkans had seemed to predict a much larger one on the horizon -- and were ignored.

The exhausted Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires were spent forces unable to control nationalist movements in their provinces. The British Empire was fading. Imperial Germany was rising. Czarist Russia was beset with revolutionary rebellion. As power shifted, decline for some nations seemed like opportunity for others.

The same was true in 1939. The tragedy of the Versailles Treaty of 1919 was not that it had been too harsh. In fact, it was far milder than the terms Germany had imposed on a defeated Russia in 1918 or the requirements it had planned for France in 1914.

Instead, Versailles combined the worst of both worlds: harsh language without any means of enforcement.

The subsequent appeasement of Britain and France, the isolationism of the United States, and the collaboration of the Soviet Union with Nazi Germany green-lighted Hitler's aggression -- and another world war.

I hope he's wrong! I also hope that someone in our government is working to prevent and prepare.


General John Kelly makes an astute point: if Ebola breaks out in Central America millions of people will flood the United States to escape the epidemic. We must make much stronger efforts to contain Ebola in West Africa.

Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, commander of the U.S. Southern Command, predicted last week that the Ebola virus will not be contained in West Africa, and if infected people flee those countries and spread the disease to Central and South America, it could cause "mass migration into the United States" of those seeking treatment.

"If it breaks out, it's literally, 'Katie bar the door,' and there will be mass migration into the United States," Kelly said in remarks to the National Defense University on Tuesday. "They will run away from Ebola, or if they suspect they are infected, they will try to get to the United States for treatment.

Not that we should just throw money at the problem, but if the U.N. and W.H.O. are right that only $1 billion is needed to contain the epidemic then it's pretty foolish not to write a check.


Walter Russell Mead writes (the day before I did) that President Obama doesn't understand the emotional side of leadership. Read the whole thing if you can bear it.

ISIS is a master of the pornography of politics and the pornography of perverted religion: slave girls, heads on spikes, executions uploaded to the internet, naked defiance in the face of its enemies. ISIS isn't trying to win a conventional geopolitical chess match, it wants to electrify millions of potential supporters and change the nature of the game. The execution of American hostages succeeded brilliantly, from an ISIS point of view. It has made President Obama look weak, forced him to change his entire Middle East policy and brought the jihadi movement back into the world spotlight. The politics of spectacle has eclipsed Al-Qaeda, weakened Assad's position, drawn the awe and admiration of jihadi wanna-bes and funders, and elevated 30,000 thugs and nutjobs to a major force in global events. Yes, that elevation carries with it the risk of serious pushback and even conventional military defeat, but jihadi ideology has benefited enormously from what ISIS has accomplished so far. ISIS still isn't going to conquer the world, but radical Islam is closer than ever to launching the clash of civilizations of which bin Laden dreamed.

ISIS has much less money than President Obama does, many fewer fighters, much less equipment and in every other conventional measure of power it is a pipsqueak compared to the Leader of the Free World. But who is acting, and who is reacting? Who is dancing to whose tune?

ISIS doesn't need President Obama's advice; it clearly knows its job better than he does. The same thing is true of Putin; the Russian president has a much weaker hand, objectively speaking, than President Obama, but in part because President Putin understands the importance of spectacle and momentum in politics, he has been able to run rings around the Vulcan-in-Chief.

Drama and spectacle are among the assets that successful world leaders employ; that doesn't mean that those leaders are hotheaded or stupid. The impression, hopefully inaccurate, that the Baker piece gives us is of a president who knows things aren't working but doesn't think he has anything to learn. If that is really where this president is, he and we have some hard times ahead.


Is it ever better to make a quick decision than to take your time and be more deliberative? This anonymously-sourced account of President Obama's deliberations about ISIS portrays the President as very thoughtful and concerned with making "the right decision", and he seems keenly aware that his opponents (myself included) view him as indecisive. In my opinion, the President is wrong to ignore the emotional dimension of leadership -- sometimes you can make the best decision at the wrong time and come out worse than if you had made a worse decision at the right time.

"Oh, it's a shame when you have a wan, diffident, professorial president with no foreign policy other than 'don't do stupid things,' " guests recalled [Obama] saying, sarcastically imitating his adversaries. "I do not make apologies for being careful in these areas, even if it doesn't make for good theater." ...

It was clear to the guests how aware Mr. Obama was of the critics who have charged him with demonstrating a lack of leadership. He brought up the criticism more than once with an edge of resentment in his voice.

"He's definitely feeling it," said one guest. At one point, Mr. Obama noted acidly that President Ronald Reagan sent Marines to Lebanon only to have hundreds of them killed in a terrorist attack because of terrible planning, and then withdrew the remaining ones, leaving behind a civil war that lasted years. But Reagan, he noted, is hailed as a titan striding the earth.

"He's not a softy," Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter and attended the dinner Monday, said of Mr. Obama. "I think part of the problem with some of his critics is they think he's a softy. He's not a softy. But he's a person who tries to think through these events so you can draw some long-term conclusions."

President Reagan was a master of the emotional side of leadership, a talent that President Obama appears to completely lack -- or intentionally avoid. I can relate to the President: acting on emotion is not something that comes naturally to me -- my tendency is to sideline my emotions and attempt to make decisions based on reason alone. However, I've come to realize that when it comes to leading others it's critical to engage emotionally with your team, and decisiveness is an important component of that engagement.

Apparently I'm not the only one:

The new NBC News/ Wall Street Journal/Annenberg Poll finds 62% of Americans support Obama taking action against ISIS.

But fully 68% of his countrymen say they have "very little" or "just some" confidence that Obama will achieve his newly-discovered strategic goals of degrading and defeating ISIS through bombing and an international coalition.

Perhaps worse, only slightly more than one-in-four (28%) have "a great deal" or "quite a bit" of confidence their president will achieve the murderous group's demise.

Part of the faith deficit stems from Obama's chronic tardiness, in person and in policy. You may recall for years now, even after the deadly Benghazi attack proved him delusional, Obama's been touting how badly al Qaeda's leadership had been "decimated" and how dead Osama bin Laden was.

The perfect is the enemy of the good.

The ongoing Ebola outbreak may be connected to infected bats.

The genomic sequencing also offers hints as to how the Ebola "Zaire" strain at the heart of the current outbreak -- one of five types of Ebola virus known to infect humans -- likely ended up in West Africa in the first place. Researchers said the data suggests that the virus spread from an animal host, possibly bats, and that diverged around 2004 from an Ebola strain in central Africa, where previous outbreaks have occurred.

One of the easiest ways to weaponize the virus wouldn't require any sophisticated technology: simply gather bodily fluids from Ebola victims, bring it to your target area, and scatter it on some native mammals. Some of the animals might die from Ebola, but other species might be resistant and might carry the virus as easily as the bats did.

Dogs in one community in Liberia are reportedly eating the remains of dead Ebola victims lying on the streets. ...

Dr. Stephen Korsman of the University of Cape Town's medical virology division tells News 24 that dogs can be infected with the Ebola virus but that "infections appear to be asymptomatic."
"This means that dogs won't get sick, but they still could carry a potential risk through licking or biting," Korsman explained to News 24.

Now you've created a native reservoir of Ebola in your target area that will periodically break out and infect humans and might be impossible to eradicate.

The UN is now saying that the Ebola outbreak could hit 20,000 people, but if it hits that many how could it possibly hit so few?

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is accelerating and could grow six times larger to infect as many as 20,000 people, the World Health Organization said Thursday. The U.N. health agency unveiled a new road map for containing the virus, and scientists are fast-tracking efforts to find a treatment or vaccine.

Ebola has menaced Africa for 40 years, but previously struck in remote villages and was contained fairly quickly. This time, it has spread to major cities in four countries, provoking unrest as whole neighborhoods and towns have been sealed to the outside.

Absent a vaccine (which is being worked on) I don't see how a highly contagious virus could be contained among 20,000 people. With that large a population of infected people the security perimeter just seems too big.

Furthermore, many of the infected Africans are Muslim, and the Hajj is in October this year. If there are thousands of known infections -- and many more unknown -- how likely is it that Ebola won't be carried to Mecca? The Hajj could very well be an inflection point for the outbreak, allowing Ebola to spread rapidly around the world.

hajj.jpg

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