Sunday, July 7, 2013

Israel’s Reviled Strategic Wisdom. By Caroline B. Glick.

Israel’s reviled strategic wisdom. By Caroline B. Glick. Jerusalem Post, July 4, 2013. Also at Caroline


On Wednesday, Egypt had its second revolution in as many years. And there is no telling how many more revolutions it will have in the coming months, or years. This is the case not only in Egypt, but throughout the Islamic world.
The American foreign policy establishment’s rush to romanticize as the Arab Spring the political instability that engulfed the Arab world following the self-immolation of a Tunisian peddler in December 2010 was perhaps the greatest demonstration ever given of the members of that establishment’s utter cluelessness about the nature of Arab politics and society. Their enthusiastic embrace of protesters who have now brought down President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood regime indicates that it takes more than a complete repudiation of their core assumptions to convince them to abandon them.
US reporters and commentators today portray this week’s protests as the restoration of the Egyptian revolution. That revolution, they remain convinced, was poised to replace long-time Egyptian leader and US-ally Hosni Mubarak with a liberal democratic government led by people who used Facebook and Twitter.
Subsequently, we were told, that revolution was hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood. But now that Morsi and his government have been overthrown, the Facebook revolution is back on track.
And again, they are wrong.
As was the case in 2011, the voices of liberal democracy in Egypt are so few and far between that they have no chance whatsoever of gaining power, today or for the foreseeable future. At this point it is hard to know what the balance of power is between the Islamists who won 74 percent of the vote in the 2011 parliamentary elections and their opponents. But it is clear that their opponents are not liberal democrats. They are a mix of neo-Nasserist fascists, communists and other not particularly palatable groups.
None of them share Western conceptions of freedom and limited government. None of them are particularly pro-American. None of them like Jews. And none of them support maintaining Egypt’s cold peace with Israel.
Egypt’s greatest modern leader was Gamal Abdel Nasser. By many accounts the most common political view of the anti-Muslim Brotherhood protesters is neo-Nasserist fascism.
Nasser was an enemy of the West. He led Egypt into the Soviet camp in the 1950s. As the co-founder of the Non-Aligned Movement, he also led much of the Third World into the Soviet camp. Nasser did no less damage to the US in his time than al-Qaida and its allies have done in recent years.
Certainly, from Israel’s perspective, Nasser was no better than Hamas or al-Qaida or their parent Muslim Brotherhood movement. Like the Islamic fanatics, Nasser sought the destruction of Israel and the annihilation of the Jews.
Whether the fascists will take charge or not is impossible to know. So, too, the role of the Egyptian military in the future of Egypt is unknowable. The same military that overthrew Morsi on Wednesday stood by as he earlier sought to strip its powers, sacked its leaders and took steps to transform it into a subsidiary of the Muslim Brotherhood.
There are only three things that are knowable about the future of Egypt. First it will be poor. Egypt is a failed state. It cannot feed its people. It has failed to educate its people. It has no private sector to speak of. It has no foreign investment.
Second, Egypt will be politically unstable.
Mubarak was able to maintain power for 29 years because he ran a police state that the people feared. That fear was dissipated in 2011. This absence of fear will bring Egyptians to the street to topple any government they feel is failing to deliver on its promises – as they did this week.
Given Egypt’s dire economic plight, it is impossible to see how any government will be able to deliver on any promises – large or small – that its politicians will make during electoral campaigns.
And so government after government will share the fates of Mubarak and Morsi.
Beyond economic deprivation, today tens of millions of Egyptians feel they were unlawfully and unjustly ousted from power on Wednesday.
The Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists won big in elections hailed as free by the West. They have millions of supporters who are just as fanatical today as they were last week. They will not go gently into that good night.
Finally, given the utter irrelevance of liberal democratic forces in Egypt today, it is clear enough that whoever is able to rise to power in the coming years will be anti-American, anti- Israel and anti-democratic, (in the liberal democratic sense of the word). They might be nicer to the Copts than the Muslim Brotherhood has been. But they won’t be more pro-Western.
They may be more cautious in asserting or implementing their ideology in their foreign policy than the Muslim Brotherhood. But that won’t necessarily make them more supportive of American interests or to the endurance of Egypt’s formal treaty of peace with Israel.
And this is not the case only in Egypt. It is the case in every Arab state that is now or will soon be suffering from instability that has caused coups, Islamic takeovers, civil wars, mass protests and political insecurity in country after country. Not all of them are broke. But then again, none of them have the same strong sense of national identity that Egyptians share.
Now that we understand what we are likely to see in the coming months and years, and what we are seeing today, we must consider how the West should respond to these events. To do so, we need to consider how various parties responded to the events of the past two-and-ahalf years.
Wednesday’s overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood government is a total repudiation of the US strategy of viewing the unrest in Egypt – and throughout the Arab world – as a struggle between the good guys and the bad guys.
Within a week of the start of the protests in Tahrir Square on January 25, 2011, Americans from both sides of the political divide united around the call for Mubarak’s swift overthrow.
A few days later, President Barack Obama joined the chorus of Democrats and Republicans, and called for Mubarak to leave office, immediately. Everyone from Sen. John McCain to Samantha Power was certain that despite the fact that Mubarak was a loyal ally of the US, America would be better served by supporting the rise of the Facebook revolutionaries who used Twitter and held placards depicting Mubarak as a Jew.
Everyone was certain that the Muslim Brotherhood would stay true to its word and keep out of politics.
Two days after Mubarak was forced from office, Peter Beinart wrote a column titled “America’s Proud Egypt Moment,” where he congratulated the neo-conservatives and the liberals and Obama for scorning American interests and siding with the protesters who opposed all of Mubarak’s pro-American policies.
Beinart wrote exultantly, “Hosni Mubarak’s regime was the foundation stone – along with Israel and Saudi Arabia – of American power in the Middle East. It tortured suspected al- Qaida terrorists for us, pressured the Palestinians for us, and did its best to contain Iran.
“And it sat atop a population eager – secular and Islamist alike – not only to reverse those policies, but to rid the Middle East of American power. And yet we cast our lot with that population, not their ruler.”
Beinart also congratulated the neo-conservatives for parting ways with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who counseled caution, and so proved they do not suffer from dual loyalty.
That hated, reviled Israeli strategy, (which was not Netanyahu’s alone, but shared by Israelis from across the political spectrum in a rare demonstration of unanimity), was proven correct by events of the past week and indeed by events of the past two-and-a-half years.
Israelis watched in shock and horror as their American friends followed the Pied Piper of the phony Arab Spring over the policy cliff. Mubarak was a dictator. But his opponents were no Alexander Dubceks. There was no reason to throw away 30 years of stability before figuring out a way to ride the tiger that would follow it.
Certainly there was no reason to actively support Mubarak’s overthrow.
Shortly after Mubarak was overthrown, the Obama administration began actively supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Muslim Brotherhood believed that the way to gain and then consolidate power was to hold elections as quickly as possible. Others wanted to wait until a constitutional convention convened and a new blueprint for Egyptian governance was written. But the Muslim Brotherhood would have none of it. And Obama supported it.
Five months after elections of questionable pedigree catapulted Morsi to power, Obama was silent when in December 2012 Morsi arrogated dictatorial powers and pushed through a Muslim Brotherhood constitution.
Obama ignored Congress three times and maintained full funding of Egypt despite the fact that the Morsi government had abandoned its democratic and pluralistic protestations.
He was silent over the past year as the demonstrators assembled to oppose Morsi’s power grabs. He was unmoved as churches were torched and Christians were massacred. He was silent as Morsi courted Iran.
US Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson and Obama remained the Muslim Brotherhood’s greatest champions as the forces began to gather ahead of this week’s mass protests. Patterson met with the Coptic pope and told him to keep the Coptic Christians out of the protests.
Obama, so quick to call for Mubarak to step down, called for the protesters to exercise restraint this time around and then ignored them during his vacation in Africa.
The first time Obama threatened to curtail US funding of the Egyptian military was Wednesday night, after the military ignored American warnings and entreaties, and deposed Morsi and his government.
This week’s events showed how the US’s strategy in Egypt has harmed America.
In 2011, the military acted to force Mubarak from power only after Obama called for it to do so. This week, the military overthrew Morsi and began rounding up his supporters in defiance of the White House.
Secretary of State John Kerry was the personification of the incredible shrinkage of America this week as he maintained his obsessive focus on getting Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians.
In a Middle East engulfed by civil war, revolution and chronic instability, Israel is the only country at peace. The image of Kerry extolling his success in “narrowing the gaps” between Israel and the Palestinians before he boarded his airplane at Ben-Gurion Airport, as millions assembled to bring down the government of Egypt, is the image of a small, irrelevant America.
And as the anti-American posters in Tahrir Square this week showed, America’s self-induced smallness is a tragedy that will harm the region and endanger the US.
As far as Israel is concerned, all we can do is continue what we have been doing, and hope that at some point, the Americans will embrace our sound strategy.

Intricacies of Egypt’s Coup d’État. By Daniel Pipes.

Intricacies of Egypt’s Coup d’État. By Daniel Pipes. National Review Online, July 5, 2013.

There are only two powers in the Arabic-speaking world: military and Islamist.

Egypt After Morsi: Joy and Worry. By Daniel Pipes., July 4, 2013.

Elections Are Not Democracy. By Andrew C. McCarthy.

Elections Are Not Democracy. By Andrew C. McCarthy. National Review Online, July 6, 2013.

A lesson from Egypt.

Democracy in Egypt needs more than an election. By Dennis Ross. USA Today, July 7, 2013.


The democracy fetish would be worth having if it were about promoting real democracy. Instead, as illustrated by media coverage of the military coup that ousted Egypt’s popularly elected Muslim Brotherhood president, we’re still confusing democratic legitimacy with legitimate democracy.
The latter is real — a culture of liberty that safeguards minority rights. Attaining it is a worthy aspiration, but one that requires years of patient, disciplined, and often unpopular work. The former is an illusion — the pretense that if a Muslim country holds popular elections and elects totalitarian Islamists, voila, it has a “democracy,” and progressives the world over will regard it as such.
The confusion is nowhere better illustrated than in neoconservative commentary, where two most admirable premises — the transcendent power of freedom and the imperative of confronting evil — are seemingly at war with each other. Thus do the Wall Street Journal’s editors recount the rise and fall of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi, elected Egypt’s president just a year ago, in the flush of Spring Fever:
His election was the best feature of his rule, which had descended into incompetence and creeping authoritarianism. Mr. Morsi won the election narrowly over a Mubarak-era political leftover, but he soon reinforced fears that the Brotherhood would use its new power to build an Islamist dictatorship. He tried to claim near-absolute powers by decree to force through a draft constitution written by Islamists and boycotted by everyone else.
No, not exactly.
Morsi did not “force through a draft constitution.” He submitted a proposed constitution to a popular election — the same process that the Journal maintains was “the best feature” of Morsi’s rule. In that popular election, the constitution drafted by Islamists was approved by a whopping two-thirds of Egyptians — a fact conveniently omitted by the Journal’s editors. The constitution was not “boycotted by everyone else.” The constituent assembly was boycotted by non-Islamists when they realized they did not have the numbers to stop sharia supremacists.

Doesn’t that sound a lot like the Democrats in the Wisconsin legislature? Remember: They lacked the votes to defeat Governor Scott Walker’s collective-bargaining reform, so they tried to derail it by boycotting the democratic process — an act of sabotage the Journal’s editors’ rightly rebuked. But there’s a huge difference. Lacking Wisconsin’s democratic culture, Egypt’s ostensibly democratic process was a farce. That’s why Egypt’s obstructive democrats were heroes, while Wisconsin’s obstructive Democrats were rogues.
Democratic processes — elections, referenda, constitution-drafting — must be conditioned on a preexisting democratic culture. Otherwise, in a majority-Muslim country like Egypt, you end up giving totalitarianism the patina of democratic legitimacy. Quite predictably, when Morsi put the draft constitution to a countrywide democratic vote, the vast majority of Egyptians used their self-determining liberty to enshrine liberty-devouring sharia as their fundamental law.
The cognitive dissonance is dizzying. Yes, as the Journal’s editors note, Morsi was narrowly elected over Ahmed Shafiq, a Mubarak-era holdover. But why was that? It was because the forces of true, pluralistic democracy in Egypt are so fledgling and weak that they could never have defeated Islamic supremacists on their own. They had to turn to the old regime.
In the free elections leading up to Morsi’s election, there was no greater ignominy than being a Mubarak holdover. In those elections, real democrats and progressives were thrashed by Islamic supremacists. They lost 78 percent to 22 percent in a referendum on constitutional amendments that allowed the parliamentary and presidential elections to go forward. They were swamped again in the parliamentary elections that gave Islamic supremacists a three-to-one hammerlock on the legislature and thus on the constituent assembly that wrote the new constitution.
By the time the presidential election came round, authentic democrats, including members of persecuted religious minorities, had no choice but to pin their hopes on a Mubarak holdover — just as this week, they had to rely on a coup by a military still threaded with Mubarak holdovers. It was the only realistic chance they had at a semblance of the rights that true democracy implies.
They lost anyway, even though the transitional military rulers, in a most undemocratic maneuver, tried to stack the deck in their favor by disqualifying on bogus grounds the more popular Muslim Brotherhood figure, Khairat al-Shater. The comparatively unknown Morsi was supremacist Islam’s Plan B. But we are talking about Egypt, where Western democracy is unabashedly condemned by such figures as Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the revered sharia jurist. In that Egypt — the Egypt that is — Plan B was good enough to win.
The Journal’s editors again tell only half the story in observing that Morsi “tried to claim near-absolute powers by decree” in order to get the sharia constitution implemented. If you buy the notion that free elections always herald real democracy, you would have applauded Morsi. He decreed that his “sovereign acts” were unreviewable by the unelected judiciary — stacked with relics of the Mubarak dictatorship — specifically to protect the constituent assembly, which that judiciary was threatening to dissolve before it could complete its work.
Morsi’s “democratic” logic was bulletproof: His actions were “sovereign” because he was elected by the people; the constituent assembly warranted sovereign protection because it had been appointed by a parliament elected by the people; and the old-regime judges should butt out because the draft constitution would be submitted to the sovereign people, to decide for themselves in an up-or-down vote. If you accept the Arab Spring fantasy that a liberty culture is bred by free elections, then Morsi was using his power to protect Egyptian democracy.
Of course, we should not accept the Arab Spring fantasy. But that does not make the Journal’s editors wrong — just rash. They want what we should all want: a truly democratic Middle East. But let’s not kid ourselves — it is going to take a very long time to get there.
Core neoconservative principles are not really at odds. The power of freedom is transcendent. But real freedom cannot be rushed. Democratic culture has to take root, which is a long-term project in an anti-democratic society. As a foundational matter, there must be abiding societal commitments to freedom of conscience, the equal dignity of every person, economic liberty, the rule of law, and self-determination irrespective of sharia. Only then will liberty be promoted by free elections — they are the end of the evolution, not the beginning.
We disfavor military coups because we are a liberty-loving people who defend civil rights. In Egypt, at this stage of its development, liberty lovers remain outnumbered. The massive protests against the Muslim Brotherhood administration are an encouraging sign that Egypt’s democrats are growing in strength, but they should not be mistaken for a wholesale rejection of sharia supremacism. Right now, the authentically democratic ranks remain modest; bear in mind that it was only seven months ago that the sharia constitution was overwhelmingly approved. At this point, a military coup — and an enlightened military leadership that maintains order while giving civil society the time and space to evolve — is the only chance freedom has. It is by no means certain that Egypt’s military is up to this daunting task, but it remains the best hope.
The neocons have also always been right that evil must be confronted and defeated. Yet that cannot happen unless evil is recognized as such. We must not rationalize Islamic supremacism and its sharia system as something they are not — as virtuous, or at least moderate — just because, given the choice, Islamic societies will vote for them. Egypt’s real democrats are trying to tell us that there are no moderate totalitarians. We would do well to listen.

The Princess and the Brotherhood. By Mark Steyn.

The Princess and the Brotherhood. By Mark Steyn. National Review Online, July 5, 2013.

For nine decades, Egypt has fled modernity.

MOOCs: The Craigslist of College? By Walter Russell Mead.

MOOCs: The Craigslist of College? By Walter Russell Mead. Via Meadia, July 7, 2013.

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad MOOC? (Me.) By Benjamin Ginsberg. Minding the Campus, June 26, 2013.

On the MOOC Challenge to Traditional Higher Education. By Jonathan Marks. Commentary, July 1, 2013.

Why Rome Fell. By Richard A. Gabriel.

Why Rome Fell. By Richard A. Gabriel. Military History, Vol. 30, No. 3 (September 2013). Also here.

Escape From Brooklyn. By Thomas Fleming.

Escape From Brooklyn. By Thomas Fleming. MHQ, Vol. 25, No. 4 (Summer 2013).

Trapped on Long Island, the American army slipped away under the cover of darkness—a defeat that taught George Washington how to win the war.

As Egypt Roils, Israel Watches. By Oren Kessler.

As Egypt Roils, Israel Watches. By Oren Kessler. Foreign Policy, July 6, 2013.

As the streets of Cairo erupt in chaos, Jerusalem wonders if the military can set things right again.

Founding Insurgents. By John Arquilla.

Washington Crossing the Delaware. By Emanuel Leutze, 1851.

Founding Insurgents. By John Arquilla. Foreign Policy, July 3, 2013.

What today’s military could learn from George Washington.


This week, the 150th anniversaries of Gettysburg and Vicksburg are being observed, their military lessons reabsorbed. But for strategists today it is more appropriate to recall the Revolution than the Civil War. Yes, Gettysburg was a pivotal slugging match that saved the Union from defeat. And the Vicksburg campaign was indeed a masterpiece of maneuver warfare that split the South in two along the Mississippi River. But both were very conventional military struggles, a rare form of conflict today. Instead, our world is now rife with irregular wars, so there is much more value in remembering that American independence was won by insurgents.
As historian Joseph Ellis makes clear in his new account of that time, Revolutionary Summer, George Washington was initially far too tied to notions of conventional stand-up fights and nearly lost the whole army in his disastrous 1776 campaign in Manhattan. After a narrow escape, he learned his lesson and seldom thereafter ran such risks. Washington grew content, for the most part, to keep the Continental Army “in being,” posing an ever-present threat that the British always had to take into consideration in their planning. In the meantime, Washington sent off smaller forces to fight in savage actions, as at Oriskany, and in skillful operations like those that culminated in the great victory at Saratoga.
In the main, what took shape was an insurgent approach to the war based on “winning by not losing,” and it was nowhere better employed than in the South. It was there that the Revolution was won – not so much by the main force as by the inspired blending of conventional infantry and irregular raiders. Washington’s most effective executor of this approach was the Quaker-turned-soldier Nathanael Greene, who marched his Continentals here and there to draw his opponent, Lord George Cornwallis, after him. While the British were chasing Greene and his men, American irregulars led by Francis Marion (“the Swamp Fox”), Thomas Sumter, and others struck at outposts and supply lines, causing no end of trouble.
Greene never won a pitched battle, but it didn’t matter. As he famously put it, “We fight, get beaten, rise, and fight again.” He always retreated with enough of his force left to recover and resume the offensive later – when the British were more dispersed, trying to chase down Marion and his colleagues. Working in tandem like this, Continentals and guerrillas completely exhausted Cornwallis and his forces. Worn after much lashing out at the elusive rebels, the British fell back on Yorktown where George Washington was able to trap them – thanks to the preparatory efforts of Nathanael Greene. The eminent historian Russell Weigley’s assessment was that Greene “remains alone as an American master developing a strategy of unconventional war.”
Indeed, it is curious that in the Civil War the Confederates completely failed to seize upon the founders’ key strategy from the Revolution. Improvements in firepower – particularly the rifle – made advances by massed conventional forces problematic. To win, though, and restore the Union, the North had to go on the offensive, ensuring that its armies’ losses would be high. And they were, from the costly defeat at Fredericksburg to the even more costly victory that U.S. Grant won during his year-long duel (1864-65) with Robert E. Lee. But the Confederates never took advantage of the opportunity to create a Greene-like campaign that blended a conventional defensive with an offensive led by irregular raiders. To be sure, the South had great guerrillas like John Hunt Morgan and Nathan Bedford Forrest. But Lee’s was the guiding spirit, and he preferred the conventional – right up to and even after the culminating disaster of Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg.
The true strategic heir of Washington and Greene seems to have been Vo Nguyen Giap – now over 100 years old – who guided the skillful blending of conventional and irregular field operations that ultimately prevailed against American might in Vietnam. To counter Giap’s strategy, U.S. forces were deployed in a “big unit” war – not too unlike the British effort against the American rebels during the Revolution. And even in the wake of failure against Giap, U.S. military leaders reaffirmed a preference for the conventional, culminating in the development of the Powell Doctrine of “overwhelming force.” Needless to say, this doctrine has not served particularly well in either Iraq or Afghanistan, where successes, when achieved, have more often than not resulted from the close integration of conventional and special operations forces.
So the battle for the American military’s strategic soul goes on unabated. No doubt the predilection to pursue conventional approaches is a natural outgrowth of an industrial age in which sheer mass came to mean so much, particularly in the world wars. But in an information age, when the fundamental dynamic in armed conflict has shifted from mass-on-mass collisions to the simple need to find the hidden – the key to fighting insurgents and terrorists – the persistence of the “overwhelming force” mindset imposes huge costs and makes victory ever harder to achieve.
Now, at this inflection point in history, this time at the end of the industrial era and the beginning of the information age, when networks of all sorts are rising up to challenge nations, this is the moment to look back before looking ahead. To look back all the way to the founders of the Republic, who won their and our freedom by using irregular means to defeat the world’s leading power of that day. Now is the time to rekindle our strategic roots if we are to continue to be an effective force for good in the world. This is worth deep contemplation on our 237th Independence Day.

Liberal Apartheid. By Victor Davis Hanson.

Liberal Apartheid. By Victor Davis Hanson. National Review Online, July 2, 2013.

The elite mostly lead a reactionary existence of talking one way and living another.


One of the strangest things about the modern progression in liberal thought is its increasing comfort with elitism and high style. Over the last 30 years, the enjoyment of refined tastes, both material and psychological, has become a hallmark of liberalism — hand in glove with the art of professional altruism, so necessary to the guilt-free enjoyment of the good life. Take most any contemporary issue, and the theme of elite progressivism predominates.
Higher education? A visitor from Mars would note that the current system of universities and colleges is designed to promote the interests of an elite at the expense of the middle and lower-middle classes. UCLA, Yale, and even CSU Stanislaus run on premises far more reactionary and class-based than does Wal-Mart. The teaching loads and course responsibilities of tenured full professors have declined over the last half-century, while the percentage of units taught by graduate students and part-time faculty, with few benefits and low pay, has soared.
The number of administrators has likewise climbed — even as student indebtedness has skyrocketed, along with the unemployment rate among recent college graduates. A typical scenario embodying these bizarre trends would run something like the following: The UC assistant provost for diversity affairs, or the full professor of Italian literature, focusing on gender and the self, depend on lots of graduate and undergraduate students in the social sciences and humanities piling up debt without any guarantee of jobs, while part-time faculty subsidize the formers’ lifestyles by teaching, without grading assistants, the large introductory undergraduate courses, getting paid a third to half what those with tenure receive.
The conference and the academic book, with little if any readership, promote the career interest and income of the trendy administrator and the full professor, and are subsidized by either the taxpayers or the students or both. All of the above assumes that a nine-month teaching schedule, with tenure, grants, sabbaticals, and release time, are above reproach and justify yearly tuition hikes exceeding the rate of inflation. The beneficiaries of the system win exemption from criticism through loud support of the current progressive agenda, as if they were officers with swagger sticks in the culture wars who must have their own perks if they are to properly lead the less-well-informed troops out of the trenches.
Take illegal immigration. On the facts, it is elitist to the core. Big business, flush with cash, nevertheless wants continued access to cheap labor, and so favors amnesties for millions who arrived without English, education, or legality. On the other end of the scale, Jorge Hernandez, making $9 an hour mowing lawns, is not enthusiastic about an open border, which undercuts his meager bargaining power with his employer.
The state, not the employer, picks up the cost of subsidies to ensure that impoverished illegal-immigrant workers from Oaxaca have some semblance of parity with American citizens in health care, education, legal representation, and housing. The employers’ own privilege exempts them from worrying whether they would ever need to enroll their kids in the Arvin school system, or whether an illegal-alien driver will hit their daughter’s car on a rural road and leave the scene of the accident. In other words, no one in Atherton is in a trailer house cooking meth; the plastic harnesses of missing copper wire from streetlights are not strewn over the sidewalks in Palo Alto; and the Menlo schools do not have a Bulldog-gang problem.
Meanwhile, ethnic elites privately understand that the melting pot ensures eventual parity with the majority and thereby destroys the benefits of hyphenation. So it becomes essential that there remain always hundreds of thousands of poor, uneducated, and less-privileged immigrants entering the U.S. from Latin America. Only that way is the third-generation Latino professor, journalist, or politician seen as a leader of group rather than as an individual. Take away illegal immigration, and the Latino caucus and Chicano graduation ceremony disappear, and the beneficiaries become just ordinary politicians and academics, distinguished or ignored on the basis of their own individual performance.
Mexico? Beneath the thin veneer of Mexican elites suing Americans in U.S. courts is one of the most repressive political systems in the world. Mexican elites make the following cynical assumptions: Indigenous peoples are better off leaving Mexico and then scrimping to send billions of dollars home in remittances; that way, they do not agitate for missing social services back home; and once across the border, they act as an expatriate community to leverage concessions from the United States.
Nannies, gardeners, cooks, and personal attendants are increasingly recent arrivals from Latin America — even as the unemployment rates of Latino, African-American, and working-class white citizens remain high, with compensation relatively low. No wonder that loud protestations about “xenophobes, racists, and nativists” oil the entire machinery of elite privilege. Does the liberal congressman or the Washington public advocate mow his own lawn, clean his toilet, or help feed his 90-year-old mother? At what cost would he cease to pay others to do these things — $20, $25 an hour? And whom would he hire if there were no illegal immigrants? The unemployed African-American teenager in D.C.? The unemployed Appalachian in nearby West Virginia? I think not.
Or take the green industry. At about the same time that statisticians readjusted the first-quarter GDP growth markedly downward — to a 1.8 percent annual rate, from the previously reported 2.4 percent — President Obama announced sweeping new regulations to curtail carbon emissions that will hamper the coal industry, further slow the economy — and delight his elite green base. Al Gore thought the speech historic. And why would he not? Gore has made hundreds of millions of dollars in the Marcus Licinius Crassus style of hyping a disaster and then profiting from its remedy. Gore hates carbon emissions. So much so that he dismisses those who live by them, such as coal-company executives, coal miners, and the rubes who mindlessly use coal-based electricity. But Gore also likes money and what money can do for him — SUVs, private jet travel, multiple residences. That’s why he just sold his interest in a failed cable-television network to a broadcasting network backed by a Middle Eastern authoritarian sheikhdom, known for both its anti-Semitism and its huge cash profits from the sale of fossil fuels. Take away the talk of polar bears and melting ice caps, and Gore becomes just another huckster, cashing in on oil profits from the Middle East, a region that is ensured continuance of its riches in part because of environmental restrictions that hamper fracking, horizontal drilling, and coal production on public lands in the United States.
Here in central California there are predictable themes to the new environmentalism: Land that could produce food and provide jobs will be idled to protect a bait fish in the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta. Rivers that are critical to irrigation and are anchors of the economy will be diverted to their 19th-century course in order to fulfill the dream of salmon runs through a desert-like San Joaquin Valley, and hundreds of billions of dollars worth of gas and oil that could be fracked and provide jobs for communities suffering 10-plus percent unemployment will be ignored. On one side, there are academics, lawyers, high government officials, those with inherited wealth, and those with enough capital to easily afford the higher taxes and higher costs of fuel, power, and food that are the inevitable wages of their own boutique ideology. On the other side, there are the apparent losers and clingers who are out of work, who pay over $4 a gallon for gas for their silly used Dodge Ram trucks, and who stupidly splurge by turning their air conditioners on for an hour or two a day in 108-degree Fresno.
In the real world, the tiny delta smelt is a good psychological totem for a well-paid Google exec in Mountain View, who doesn’t mind paying a little more for his arugula or paying higher sales taxes. But the worship of a bait fish is not shared by Manuel Lopez, a tractor driver in Bakersfield who has no more fields to disc this summer. Those in breezy, cool Malibu hate coal, and apparently believe those who mine it would be better off on food stamps and unemployment insurance, which the generous seaside denizens would so selflessly be willing to pay for.
Take gun control. What caused the latest round of furor over the Second Amendment was not gun-related deaths per se. In fact, they have been declining overall in the United States for some time. Nor is it the death toll in Chicago, where last year over 500 mostly African-American and Latino youths gunned each other down, almost exclusively with illegally obtained handguns in a city that has enacted among the tightest gun laws in the nation. Instead, the horrible tragedies of Columbine and Sandy Hook and Aurora suggest that the atypical shooter with a semi-automatic long gun will on rare occasions slaughter anywhere, from an upscale school to a cinema in a good neighborhood. Worse still, the most effective remedies for stopping these typically young, white, unhinged suburbanite shooters — detain the mentally ill far more frequently, curb the promiscuous use of psychotropic drugs, treat violent video games for our youth as we do pornography, jawbone Hollywood to show some restraint in its graphic and titillating portrays of gun carnage — rub up against liberal elite views on mental health, civil liberties, free expression, and the arts.
The result is that the elite find resonance in demonizing the largely white lower-middle-class gun crowd, who are not responsible for the vast majority of yearly gun deaths, but whose culture as the proverbial clingers is ripe for caricature and the fuel of elite outrage. No gun law that Barack Obama has supported would have stopped any of the recent suburban violence — given the millions of weapons that exist throughout the United States. To stop Sandy Hook — where the deranged Adam Lanza stole from his own mother firearms that she had legally purchased — the president would have had to confiscate privately owned semi-automatic rifles and larger clips, or made the possession of existing rifle ammunition illegal. No matter: Obama knew well that the liberal elites were outraged that savage violence had hit the suburbs; he knew too that there was nothing he could do to stop it that was acceptable to those elites, while there were lots of cultural targets that would at least allow the elites to vent. Thus followed the hysterical calls to ban all sorts of evil-looking black “assault weapons” and the demonization of the redneck beer-bellies who for some reason like to shoot them at their inane target ranges.
Modern liberalism, among other things, is a psychological state, in which very-well-off Americans find ways through their income and privilege to be exempt from the ramifications of their own ideologies, while adopting causes and pets that exempt them from guilt over their own status and limitless opportunities. Judging by their concrete actions, they are indifferent to the poor whom they romanticize at a safe distance. In short, voting for larger government and subsidies is seen as a necessary cost of being a reactionary, liberal elite.

Creating Chaos: Lawrence of Arabia and the 1916 Arab Revolt. By O’Brien Browne.

Creating Chaos: Lawrence of Arabia and the 1916 Arab Revolt. By O’Brien Browne. MHQ Vol. 23, No 1 (Autumn 2010). Also here.