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AMERICA AT MASADA

masada-israelMasada, Israel. The story of Masada is one of epic heroism. At Israel’s creation in 1948, its founders were determined to create a paradigm shift in how Jews looked upon themselves.  Here is where they found it.

For centuries Jews had passively accepted their fate of being murderously discriminated against.  Now they had to see themselves as warriors willing to fight or die for their freedom.  The epic heroism of Masada provided the perfect historical basis for such a paradigm shift, with every Israeli schoolchild imbued with it from kindergarten on.

No more pogroms, no more Jews lying down and taking it.  Like the heroes of Masada, Jews were now to be feared and respected for their absolute determination to defend themselves against evil and ruthless enemies.

It’s a lesson America has to learn and take to heart today.

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WINNING THE WAR AGAINST THE LEFT

ayn-rand-questionWhoever was surprised by the hate-fest against the National Rifle Association and conservative Americans in general that followed the Parkland, FL school shooting must not have been paying attention.

Over the past half century, a ruling class formed by our uniformly leftist educational system and occupying the commanding heights of corporate life, governmental bureaucracies, the media, etc. accuses its targets of everything from murder and terrorism to culpable psycho-social disorders (racism, sexism, and so forth).

When one side rejects persuasion in favor of war, what are the other’s options? To convince our opponents to accept us as equals? To reform them? Fat chance! Decency for ourselves is our objective. Hence, the words and deeds by which we deal with those who make war on us must aim at affirming ourselves, despite them.

Hence, the practical question: what is to be our war?

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THE STRONG HORSE IN THE WHITE HOUSE

spot-the-difference-trumpLee Smith's seminal The Strong Horse: Politics, Power and the Clash of Arab Civilizations  (2010) explains how the Arab world typically follows the leader with the most strength and power, i. e. the strong horse.

This proclivity for the powerful does not restrict itself to the Middle East, however.  Xi Jinping these days is a pretty strong horse.  Nor does it even restrict itself to dictators.  Winston Churchill may have been the strongest horse of the last hundred years, having led the allies from the brink of defeat to victory in World War II, sometimes through sheer force of will.

Now it's Donald Trump's turn.

Russia, China, Syria, Iran, North Korea, among other countries and non-state actors, not to mention a whole host of domestic foes, have all aligned themselves against him (and consequently America) in various degrees.

At the same time, an investigation into his inner circle threatens to sweep up virtually everyone from his personal lawyer to his son while his adversaries chortle.

But these adversaries, ambitious and vengeful as they are, have little idea of the chaos that will ensue in this country should Trump fall, the ruptures that will occur.

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THE LIMITS OF AMERICAN PATIENCE

no-calm-no-patienceWhat helped elect Trump was a collective weariness with demands put on a country $20 trillion in debt. America is currently running a $57 billion a month trade deficit.

The poverty of inner-city Detroit, or rural Central California, or West Virginia does not suggest an endlessly opulent nation, at least as a visitor might conclude from visiting Manhattan, Chevy Chase, or Presidio Heights.

Universities and colleges have taken for granted that they can count on massive federal student loan subsidies to increase vastly the number of administrators, pay for an expanding apparat of politicized and nonteaching staff, increase tuition beyond the rate of inflation and not dare to be held accountable for dismal graduation rates, poorly educated graduates, or ossified systems of tenure.

For all this and so very much more, what cannot go on won’t.  We have reached the limits of our patience.

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WHY OBAMA OWNS THE DISASTER IN SYRIA

obama-owns-syrian-disasterObama owns the disaster in Syria in a way that no one else does. Three of his policies intersected to cause the bloodshed, devastation and horrors there.

  1. The Iraq Withdrawal
  2. The Arab Spring
  3. The Iran Deal
Obama’s Iraq withdrawal turned the country over to Iran and ISIS. The tensions between the Shiite puppet regime in Baghdad (which Obama insisted on backing) and the Sunni population created a cycle of violence that reduced the country to a bloody civil war between Shiite militias and Al Qaeda in Iraq.

The collapse of the multicultural Iraqi army allowed Al Qaeda in Iraq to seize huge swathes of territory. And ISIS and Iran began carving up Iraq into their own ethnically cleansed dominions.

Iraq’s civil war spread to Syria. Initially Obama backed the Sunni Brotherhood militias. These groups represented themselves as free, secular and democratic. They were actually nothing of the kind.

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PUTIN’S FUTURELESS ECONOMY

putin-muscle-manRussia’s economy was smaller than that of Texas even before the latest and most lethal sanctions imposed by Washington.

It has diminished further to Benelux proportions after the ruble’s 10% crash this week, the steepest fall since the late Nineties.

Upon this slender economic base, Vladimir Putin’s Russia is posing as a world-class superpower, the new master of the Middle East, insisting on its ‘droit de regard’ over the old Tsarist realms as if by natural right.

What is extraordinary is than anybody should believe in such geostrategic posturing.

The harsher truth is that Mr. Putin squandered the windfall wealth of the commodity supercycle and hollowed out what remained of the Soviet industrial and engineering base, leaving Russia’s Potemkin economy in a futureless cul de sac.

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HALF-FULL REPORT 04/06/18

artificial-intelligenceMike Ryan is filling in for Jack Wheeler this week.

Control and use of information technology and the intellectual property behind it has been a significant factor in recent events. The so-called trade war with China and the tariffs on basic materials are really about the future of intellectual property rights.

President Trump is using solid commodities such as steel and aluminum to work towards more favorable intellectual property rights expectations and legalities.

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Google returned their self-driving cars to the road. They are perfecting information technology that has the potential to impact the 2020 election powerfully.

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Iranians appear to be on their way towards regime change, using information technology that the Mullahs are having difficulty controlling.

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At the same time, Facebook’s Zuckerburg proposes turning over access to messaging technology to the US Government in exchange for more favorable press.

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President Trump’s tweets turned around a horde of migrants, and Hillary still can’t accept that her AI driven election tools were fooled by President Trump. What do these all have in common? Artificially intelligent systems.

Read about all these in this week's HFR! ...

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A TWO-FER TODAY

1985-jw-interview-photoIt’s April 5, way too late for April Fools.  So when I got two big surprises this morning, I knew they were for real.

First, there’s a fabulous photo essay on my Himalaya Helicopter Expedition in the Daily Mail, the most widely-read English language news site in the world.

Second, a friend just sent me a video that has recently appeared on YouTube – of an interview of me back in 1985, 33 years ago!  I had no idea this existed and had never seen it before this morning.

I had just returned from Africa with the RENAMO freedom fighters in Mozambique, and the Jamba Conference in guerrilla-held Angola that formed an alliance between Anti-Soviet Freedom Fighters around the world.

My first reaction watching it was, wow, I sure looked younger then and had a lot more hair!  Next I noticed how relevant what I said – especially about the State Department – was to today.

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INDIAN TIBET

tibetan-trumpetsWhen most people think of Tibet, they think of Chinese-Occupied Tibet, which the Chicoms seized in the 1950s, committing genocidal slaughter of two million Tibetans in the process.

Today, the former independent country of Tibet is a Tibetan Theme Park for Chinese tourists, locked down tight by the Chinese military, and secret police who control all the monasteries.

Yet there are regions of ethnic, cultural, and geographical Tibet that China was not able to seize.  One of them, The Kingdom of Lo, tucked away in a tiny hidden  corner of Nepal, we go to on our Himalaya Helicopter Expeditions.   

Larger than Lo is the Upper Indus River Valley as it flows out of Chinese Tibet into the remotest part of northwest India.  The region of the Upper Indus and surrounding side valleys is called Ladakh.  It is wholly Tibetan – here you will find real Tibetan culture truly alive and thriving, replete with astoundingly spectacular Tibetan monasteries or gompas.

I took the photo above at the Spituk gompa – the river in the foreground is the Upper Indus, and the snow-capped mountains in the distance are in Chinese Tibet.  It’s near the capital of Ladakh, Leh – an endlessly fascinating caravanserai town where you’ll find everything Tibetan.  Here’s the ancient Leh Palace and the Leh gompa hovering high above:

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