Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Kremlin’s Explanation of the Nemtsov Murder Is Starting to Unravel

 

 Êðåìëå ïðîøëà ðàáî÷àÿ âñòðå÷à ïðåçèäåíòà ÐÔ Âëàäèìèðà Ïóòèíà ñ ëèäåðîì äóìñêîé ôðàêöèè ÑÏÑ Áîðèñîì Íåìöîâûì.The official reaction to the murder of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was supposed to play out according to a time-tested formula. The standard script, as perfected after the murders of troublesome journalists (Anna Politkovskaya, Paul Khlebnikov and Mikhail Beketov), calls for the eventual capture, confession, and sentencing of the contract killers, but not the contractors. The killers, of course, would profess to have no idea who their contractor was. They would then disappear into the Russian prison system, knowing their families would be taken care of as long as they maintained their silence.

The news out of Russia, however, suggests that the formula is breaking down this time around:

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Tom Cotton’s Letter Is Exactly Right

 

Tom CottonTime for a primer on international agreements, thanks to the controversy over Senator Tom Cotton’s letter to Iran. Joined by almost all of the Senate’s Republicans, Cotton’s missive warned Tehran that any nuclear deal with President Obama would not last unless it went to Congress for approval:

…We will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei. The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Cotton Letter a Breach of Protocol? Tosh

 

Noting that the White House and journalists of every description on the left are now accusing senator Tom Cotton of violating protocol in writing to the leaders of Iran, Josh Trevino replies, in effect, “Nonsense.” From his recent post on Facebook:

[I]n the modern era, we see United States Senators and Congressmen communicating and even traveling abroad to counter Presidential foreign policy rather often. There’s the Ted Kennedy 1984 outreach to Yuri Andropov to form an electoral alliance against Ronald Reagan (yes, you read that right); there is the 1985 John Kerry and Tom Harkin trip to Managua; there is the 1985 Jim Wright “Dear Commandante” letter; and there is the 2002 Jim McDermott trip to Baghdad. For starters.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Does the Kremlin Have Hillary’s E-mails?

 

shutterstock_166350926With Hillary Clinton set to hold a press conference today over the scandal regarding her State Department emails, I thought this might be a good time to call your attention to a piece of mine over at The Blaze, highlighting the very real prospect that Hillary’s communications may have fallen into Moscow’s hands. As I write there:

Putin’s Kremlin has one of the most sophisticated cyber-warfare systems the world has ever seen.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Senator Tom Cotton and the Gang of 47

 

House Foreign Affairs CommitteeFrom a friend:

Somebody said this on Ricochet months ago—and nailed it: Tom Cotton is in the US Senate to break furniture.

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. What Negotiated Solution to Iran’s Nuclear Program Would You Find Acceptable?

 

shutterstock_137764901There were recently reports that the multi-party talks about Iran’s nuclear program were approaching a deal that would have the Iranians pause their nuclear program for a decade in exchange for lifting of sanctions. This was promptly reported in the conservative press as some variation of “Obama Gives Iranians the Bomb in Ten Years.”

It didn’t sound like an especially bad plan to me. A lot can happen in ten years, especially if tensions between nations are allowed to deescalate. I’m also a firm believer in the Churchill notion that “To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.” But I could be wrong. Perhaps this is a bad deal. However, I’m also a firm believer in the notion that complaining about something without offering a solution is just whining. So I have a question for everyone here on Ricochet: What kind of negotiated solution would you find acceptable?

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Member Post

 

I’m 77 and served in the Navy and am proud of it. This weekend I went out to dinner with two couples in their late 40s. Over the course of 2 1/2 hours I listened to their conversation, which I believe was typical. They discussed their kids–some in college, some still in high school. They talked […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. GOP Senators Warn Iran about Nuclear Deal

 

Freshman Sen. Tom Cotton gathered a group of 47 GOP senators to send an open letter to the Iranian regime concerning any potential nuclear deal. The letter warns the mullahs that the deal — especially if not approved by Congress — is likely to be overturned once a new President enters the White House.

“It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand our constitutional system … Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement,” the senators wrote. “The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Case For Libertarian Nationalism, Part I: Immigration

 

416PwkXMKaLLibertarianism is often associated with cosmopolitan and dovish attitudes toward foreign policy and immigration. This is wholly understandable — indeed, justified — in that libertarians and libertarian organizations are disproportionally allergic to military intervention and state-imposed restriction of immigration, albeit not as much as their more vociferous critics often allege. That said, libertarians with these positions have misapplied their principles, and fail to account for both the practical need for a healthy nationalism and its consonance with liberty.

As a matter of principle, American political society — as well as that of other liberty-minded countries — is based on a social contract between the state and its citizens, in which the former provides the latter with some degree of safety from coercion and force. As such, the United States government exists for the benefit of its citizens, not those of other countries, and consequentially owes them a wholly different set of duties. Libertarianism does not speak directly to the relationship between the government of one sovereign people and those of another nation, other than that one should not unjustly harm the other. Foreigners have no more claim on our domestic policy than we have on theirs, and control over our borders and admittance into our polity are core responsibilities of that government.

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Iraq: What Might Have Been

 

290165818_4058f117ce_bIn a previous thread, Ricochet member Majestyk expressed a major complaint that he has about libertarians, liberals and even conservatives who gripe about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars: What is your alternate scenario?

If we could unwind the clock of history and place you inside George W. Bush’s head (a la Being John Malkovich) what is your preferred policy prescription for U.S. foreign policy in the days following 9/11?

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Confessions of a Foreign Policy Expert

 

I’m a highly credentialed foreign policy expert. Amazing, but true. It would be very easy for me to point to many things I got right and lots of things I know. I’d love to exchange what I know for money or power–or even just to give it away, or frantically push it on people.

But it’s more important for me to focus on what I didn’t see coming and ask myself “Why.” I won’t feel secure in my judgement until I have a better sense of why I missed things. Have I been using the right set of tools to look at things? What kinds of cognitive biases have been at work? Are they, still? Can I correct for them?

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Day of Infamy for Democrats

 

The most significant event that happened today may not be Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, but the response from Democrats — or non-response. Watching how many now join with Republicans to ask the Obama Administration to rethink its negotiations with Iran will tell us a lot about the party’s state of mind — not just about Israel, but about America in the world today.

The signs aren’t hopeful. The last count before the speech was that some 55 Democratic members of Congress had decided to boycott the event. Some were the usual progressive suspects, like Elizabeth Warren and Al Franken. Some who had announced they would boycott the speech decided at the last minute they wouldn’t, like New York’s Charlie Rangel and Florida’s Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Her non-attendance would have presented the truly bizarre spectacle of a Jewish Democrat speaking at AIPAC one day, then skipping, in protest, a speech by Israel’s prime minister the next.

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Obama, Netanyahu, and Defining Statesmanship

 

Tension-between-Obama-and-NetanyahuIn his masterpiece, Crisis of the House Divided, the late, great Harry Jaffa undertook the task of defining statesmanship:

“The task of statesmanship, in part, is to clarify the alternatives that are before the country and to compel the people to a genuine and not a spurious or illusory choice.”

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Member Post

 

It’s a simple formula, with three parts: 1) “I will do whatever is necessary to defend the United States of America.” Be clear and forceful. More

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. The Ballad of Barry and Ben

 

399px-Barack_Obama_and_Benyamin_NetanyahuThe president and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have never been very close, but during the sensitive negotiations with Iran — wherein it has been proposed that Iran take a 10-year break from nuclear development — the Prime Minister will be visiting Congress, in the process upsetting the president’s apple cart by providing a different perspective on the true dangers posed by the Iran deal.

Priorities seem to be truly skewed in this discussion. One of the president’s supporters (Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia) almost went as far as invoking the Prime Directive (against interference in the history of primitive cultures — a philosophical perspective evoked in the original Star Trek series) as somehow more important than addressing what is certainly an existential threat of nuclear proliferation by terrorist-sponsoring regimes, a threat to not only Israel and America, but to the rest of the world.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. What Ukraine Should Do Now

 

Vladimir_Putin_12024In a new piece I have up at Forbes, I lay out exactly what’s at stake for the West with Vladimir Putin’s continued aggression in Ukraine. In short, Putin wants nothing less than to unravel NATO. The U.S. has been decidedly unhelpful in assisting Ukraine, even though our allies there are much more reliable than the ones we’ve been arming in Syria, Iraq, and Libya. So what should Ukraine do now? My suggestion:

If I were Ukraine, I might concede Donbass and Crimea on a de facto but not de jure basis. Russia will not let them go under present circumstances. Let the Donbass (or that part that it presently holds) be a problem for Russia and the separatists to contend with; don’t let its self-appointed leaders dictate Ukrainian policy. When the time is right, the Donbass can come back into the fold. I would maintain a formidable standing army to defend the remaining Ukrainian provinces that have come to hate Putin’s Russia with a vengeance. I imagine that Odessa, Kiev, Zaporozhe and Lviv will make short change of self-appointed Muscovites when they arrive to proclaim new people’s republics. Who knows? If active hostilities ended, maybe even Barack Obama would supply defensive weapons. He’s good at shutting the gate after the horse has bolted.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Toughness Is Not a Policy

 

IMG_0280.JPGWhen it comes to questions of America waging war, the conversation rarely gets past whether or not we should intervene. On the occasions that it does, it’s usually about how much we should, as if it’s a straight-line, single-dimension matter with appeasement on one end — followed by indifference, sanctions, drone strikes, and a limited air war — and a ground invasion on the other.

Stipulating that a political survey is probably not the best place to look for strategic insight, consider yesterday’s Pew Research Center poll showing that 63% of Americans now support the campaign against the Islamic State (up from 57% in October) and that support for a ground invasion has also increased to 47% (up from 39% in October). Among other questions, the poll also asked whether the greater danger is applying too little or too much force, and whether “overwhelming military force is the best way to defeat terrorism around the world.”

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Jeb’s Foreign Policy Speech Hits the Right Notes

 

Jeb Bush’s foreign policy speech yesterday aimed at the exact center of the Republican Party, and it was sure to please. I was cheered by his rejection of both Obama’s disastrous withdrawal from U.S. leadership in the world and Rand Paul’s misguided libertarianism. Over the next few months, he will have to show that he has the chops not only to brush aside neo-isolationists, but also to take on Hillary Clinton and a more left-wing opponent.

Perhaps the most heartening takeaway from the speech was his rejection of misguided libertarianism in national security. In a part of the speech that received less attention than others, Bush described the National Security Agency’s metadata collection program as “hugely important.” He said, “For the life of me, I don’t understand the debate” over the program, despite the cries of civil libertarians that the NSA is violating individual privacy rights. Paul, for his part, is suing the NSA to stop the program (an odd approach for someone who sits in the Senate and has available the political process to oppose the program).

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Dithering Toward Brutality

 

Obama-Fiddles-Rome-Burning

Of all the aspects of the Rite of Christian Initiation classes and discussions I’ve had — with one teaching or concept yielding beautifully to the next as though a flower were opening to reveal succeeding layers of transcendent wonder — very little has captivated me like the quest for a patron saint. My admittedly rudimentary understanding of Catholic doctrine and history tells me that the saints are not mere corpses whose visage here and there adorn stained glass. On the contrary, they are intercessors on our behalf, whose devotion offers an example to emulate, and whose wisdom offers guidance to those who will listen.

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