06 December, 2009

TSA interrogation

Last March, the Director of Development for the Campaign for Liberty was detained and questioned by the Transportation Safety Administration. Ever wonder what that sounds like? A tape of the interrogation is here.


If you want to drop out of sight for a week or two, here are some hints. If you want to do more than that, you'll have to make some major life changes.

04 December, 2009

Americans to be stationed in Poland

After the decision to move American Ballistic Missile Defense from Poland to the sea, the Poles (especially the leaders who invested a lot of political capital in making the sale to their own people) have felt slighted. Is it possible the US doesn't really care about Poland? If the Russians ratchet up the pressure--which they will, it's built into the geopolitics of the situation--will the US be willing to take some risks to serve as a counter?

That's the real issue behind the announcement to station American troops and a battery of Patriot missiles on the soil of Poland. One missile battery won't have much real effect, and the troops will be on rotation from Germany, but the symbolic message is there. Yet another "tripwire." Since Russia and Belarus recently held nuclear war games, including a simulated beach landing in Poland, some Poles are happy to get whatever support they can.

02 December, 2009

Obama's speech

A short-term surge, plus "Afghanization."

Probably the best we could do, under the circumstances. Maintaining the distinctions between the Iraq and Afghan Wars was important. Even more important was setting victory conditions that might be achieved. It is not about making Afghanistan "secure" or "free," it's about providing the breathing space to develop a local government that is willing and able to prevent the use of Afghanistan as a base for training and operating transnational terrorists. With that definition it is possible to declare victory and go home--or learn that no such government is possible, go home, and when necessary blast the terrorist camps (and/or Afghan government) as they emerge.

01 December, 2009

It beats dropping bombs

Serbia is going to the World Court today to get an advisory opinion on the independence of Kosovo. The US and most of the EU has recognized a new Kosovar state; Russia, Serbia, and most of the rest of the world has not. The Serbian Foreign Minister is right to observe that decision to go to court marked a "paradigm shift...the first time in the history of the Balkans that somebody has decided to resolve an issue of significance using exclusively peaceful means." That's a bit of a stretch. Serbia's ambassador to France said that Kosovo's declaration, as well as its recognition, "is a challenge to the international legal order, based as it is on the principles of state sovereignty and territorial integrity." He's right.

That's really what's at issue here. A Serbian friend of mine constantly reminded me during the Kosovo War that what NATO was doing was a violation of fundamental legal norms, and while he was right he never quite grasped that his point may be increasingly irrelevant. The norms are changing. What are the new norms, and how will they emerge? An advisory opinion of the ICJ isn't going to settle these issues, but it might have some influence on the debate. Keep watching.

Libson treaty is now in effect

The Lisbon Treaty, or new "constitution" for the European Union, goes into effect today. It includes the new posts of President of the European Council and High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs. It makes the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights binding by law for all EU institutions. It moves more power to the center, away from the individual states, clears the way for an extensive European diplomatic corps to represent the EU as a whole in foreign affairs, and removes the right of national vetoes for policies involving climate change, emergency aid, and energy security.

The treaty says that unanimous agreement will still be needed to affect taxes, foreign policy, defence and social security, areas where countries take their sovereignty very seriously. On the other hand, what constitutes "climate change" or "energy security" or "social security?" It looks like what we are getting here--as has been observed about the US Constitution-- is "invitation to struggle."