Helping Mideast Christians

In my last post, I described some of the reasons why Mideast Christians face persecution today. Historical factors explain much. Christians face social discrimination, informed by centuries of treatment as dhimmis, which makes them easy targets for violence. This is so even though, as a formal matter, the dhimma no longer applies and Christians enjoy equal rights as citizens in most Mideast countries.

The West bears blame for the current crisis as well, however, including the United States.

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American Heresies and the Betrayal of the National Interest: A Conversation with Walter McDougall

tragedyWhat is American civil religion? And has it been distorted to the extent that it has undermined our nation's foreign policy? The eminent historian and scholar Walter McDougall, author of the new book, The Tragedy of U.S. Foreign Policy, joins this edition of Liberty Law Talk to discuss these questions.

Squandering the Post-Cold War Peace Dividend

US Marines withdraw from the Camp Bastion-Leatherneck complex at Lashkar Gah in Helmand province on October 26, 2014. (WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images)

During the 1990s, victory in the Cold War seemed more than just a triumph over the Soviet Union.

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I Sing of Arms and the Man

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Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper tells the story of Navy Seal Chris Kyle, the deadliest sniper in American military history with 160 confirmed kills. The film opens in Fallujah with Kyle confronting what will be his first two kills, a woman and a young boy who advance with a grenade toward a column of Marines. Kyle’s juvenile Marine escort states the obvious: “If you’re wrong, they’ll send your ass to Leavenworth.” Kyle shoots the boy and then the woman when she picks up his dropped grenade and attempts to throw it.

Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of Kyle here and throughout the film might be called the “inward turn.” Kyle isn’t overwhelmed by the event, but we sense that it is merely the first of many dramatic killings whose troubled imprint on Kyle will emerge in due course. After their deaths, he breathes in, closes his eyes, and then prepares for the next shot.

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Why Iraqi Chemical Weapons Embarrass the U.S. Government

The New York Timesaccount of Washington’s embarrassed secrecy about the U.S. military’s encounter with several thousand chemical weapons in Iraq, and the often callous medical treatment provided to the troops who dealt with them during the 2003-20011 occupation, is incomplete.

Not mentioned by the Times is that our special operations forces had run into these weapons in 2002 during secret, pre-invasion reconnaissance missions under CIA operational command. At least one U.S. officer suffered kidney failure after coming upon a suspect site, ordering his men to stand back as he entered to check it out and collapsing upon exiting. Discharged on medical disability, he has been on dialysis awaiting a kidney transplant since 2004. He and other special forces were warned—more categorically than the occupying troops discussed by the Times—that divulging what happened to them would be treated as a serious breach of “top secret” security.

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Sunni-stan Rising

Sunni fighters from around the Muslim world, having failed to conquer all of Syria from the Assad regime’s Alewites (a branch of Shia Islam) have been pushed eastward into majority-Sunni areas. These extend from east-central Syria into north-central Iraq. A wholly artificial border divides them. In recent days, they have established control over Sunni-majority areas of Iraq, from Fallujah and Mosul to the edges of Tikrit and Samarra. Our foreign policy establishment’s illusion that world events are principally about the United States, and its reflexive commitment to existing international borders, has led it to misunderstand that the region’s wars have been about re-drawing the unnatural borders imposed by the Wilsonians who subdivided the Ottoman Empire in 1919.

Our establishment, having neither ideas nor means for stopping this re-drawing, has reacted by hand-wringing (e.g. “the fall of Mosul” WSJ 6/11). Herewith, some suggestions for understanding these events’ implications for U.S. interests.

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A Scout at War

“On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country…” That is the oath every Boy Scout pledges at every meeting. It also seems to be the spirit with which Robert Gates, former Eagle Scout and currently president of the Boy Scouts Of America, approached the job of Secretary of Defense between 2006 and 2011 and wrote a memoir that shows the scout spirit’s nobility – as well as limitations in positions of leadership. Since that spirit combines individual responsibility with teamwork, the higher the position the more problematic is the spirit.

Statesmen’s memoirs serve as records of events and, most importantly, as sources of insights into them. Incidentally, they tell us about the author’s character. This book’s comments on the character of President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, and lesser folk have drawn attention, but are of no enduring interest.

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What is Our War?

The PRISM/NSA program of collecting call records of millions upon millions of Americans will surely dominate our national political conversation for the foreseeable future. The issue obviously touches privacy concerns we all have while hitting other uncomfortable spots. Release of the PRISM program obviously builds on the anxiety of the current scandals that have come to light in the Benghazi, IRS, AP and James Rosen surveillance fiascos, among others. Americans, it seems, are on a rendezvous with destiny of losing faith in the federal government as a whole because of the failures of its current leadership class found at the top of the administrative, diplomatic, and security departments and agencies. It can’t happen soon enough.

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Friday Roundup, March 22nd

Remembering the weight of modern ideology: In this week's featured review, Liberty Fund Senior Fellow Peter Mentzel considers Anne Applebaum's latest book, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-1956. Mentzel notes that a prominent feature in Iron Curtain is the author's discussion of the evisceration of civil society: Importantly, the utter destruction of civil society in Eastern Europe was not simply a political strategy on the part of the communist parties to eliminate any possible rivals, though it was that too.  More importantly for Applebaum, totalitarian ideology dictated that the numerous groups and clubs that made up civil society not…

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