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This site is the inspiration of a former reporter/photographer for one of New England's largest daily newspapers and for various magazines. The intent is to direct readers to interesting political articles, and we urge you to visit the source sites. Any comments may be noted on site or directed to KarisChaf at gmail.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Convergence of the Twain -- Column: Why American foreign policy is headed for disaster -- By Matthew Continetti, The Washington Free Beacon

Over the last several weeks, reading news of disorder and upheaval from Venezuela to the Levant to Ukraine to Iraq to Afghanistan, I have thought often of a poem written almost a century ago. Thomas Hardy composed “The Convergence of the Twain” in memory of the sinking of the Titanic. It was published in 1915, three years after the great ship made contact with the deadly iceberg, but reading it today one cannot help experiencing its timelessness, cannot help sharing in its tragic sense of fate.


Watching the strange mix of clumsiness and insouciance with which Barack Obama and John Kerry approach the world, the abstract and aloof manner in which they comment and posture on foreign affairs, it is hard not to recall Hardy’s metaphor of growing dangers distant from the center of civilization. The recent news of a possible terrorist plot against airliners flying to the United States, and of a threat against the U.S. embassy in Uganda, remind us of the durability of the ideology and menace of Islamic terrorism. The ability of non-monarchical Arab governments to control their populations has collapsed, creating an arc of stateless space that begins in Libya and Egypt, is briefly interrupted by the tiny, embattled, belittled, and bullied Jewish State, and extends through Lebanon into Syria and western Iraq.

This is our iceberg. Within its confines murderers and barbarians roam, butchering each other and anyone else who is caught in the crossfire. Within its confines followers of al Qaeda gather and plot. They will not remain within its confines for long, though. Anyone who pays the least attention to the articles inside the New York Times will have noticed leaks by officers of our intelligence agencies, leaks desperately warning that the jihadists have turned their eyes to Europe and to the United States. It is no secret. At the end of last month the Director of National Intelligence told Congress that al Qaeda is no less of a threat than it was when it attacked in 2001.

Our response? The United States has no influence in Egypt, it has left the Syrian dictator more secure, it has left him with his stash of WMD, and it has no pull over Lebanon, no pull over Iraq. The United States is gutting its military, it is pursuing negotiations with Iran whose only point is, in the words of one former Obama official, to “buy time.” It is withdrawing from Afghanistan and leaving it in the hands of the former hosts of al Qaeda, and it is lifting asylum restrictions to make it easier for Syrians with “loose ties” to terrorism to migrate here.

The United States is about to lose strategically important drone bases in Afghanistan, it has found itself out-maneuvered by Vladimir Putin at every turn, its policies toward hotspots in Venezuela and Ukraine seem nonexistent. The policy is to talk above all, to keep talking in Geneva with the Syrians, to keep talking in Vienna with the Iranians, to keep talking in Jerusalem with the Israelis and the Palestinians, no matter that the talk accomplishes nothing, no matter that it drains resources, energy, and personnel that could be put to more constructive use elsewhere. His policy in Syria in tatters, his negotiations with Iran a charade, the secretary of State flew to Indonesia last week to rally the world against the amorphous force of climate change. Why do something about 130,000 dead Syrians, about proliferating weapons of mass destruction, when you can poke fun of those who dissent from the scientific consensus?

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