North Korean despot Kim Jong-un is just crazy enough to do it. See the latest Branco Cartoon and pass it along.
North Korean despot Kim Jong-un is just crazy enough to do it. See the latest Branco Cartoon and pass it along.
In fact, the tiny Balkan state is becoming emblematic of a battle royale taking place in Europe between conservative parties that support traditional values and national sovereignty, and those—often funded by the liberal billionaire—with an ambitious agenda that includes liberal drug and sexual orientation policies as well as trans-nationalism.
Making things even more complicated are the Kremlin’s routine strategic interferences into the equation. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s vast propaganda network often intrudes into these disputes, whether invited in or not, by ostensibly taking up the traditionalists’ cause and going to war with his arch-nemesis, Soros.
In some places, such as Macedonia itself, there is one added variable: Obama-era embeds.
The Obama-appointed U.S. ambassador in Skopje, Jess Baily, has come under congressional scrutiny over accusations that he has shown a political bias against the Macedonian conservative party, VMRO, and that he facilitated coalition negotiations between the main leftist party and ethnic Albanian parties.
In a letter sent to Baily on Jan. 17, Republican members of the House and the Senate also asked him to explain reports that his embassy had selected Soros’ Open Society Foundations as the main implementer of U.S. Agency for International Development projects in Macedonia.
The State Department’s Feb. 6 response, which I had the chance to read, was thin on details regarding funding for Soros’ foundation and groups it controls.
Grants to them were awarded through a “competitive procurement process,” the letter said. The aid, it added, was to “strengthen the rule of law, increase economic growth, support regional security,” and pursue other nebulous goals.
But in fact, a Feb. 27 USAID announcement of a $2.54 million contract with the foundation revealed that the project included paying for training in “civic activism,” “mobilization,” and “civic engagement.”
Far from strengthening the rule of law or regional security, these are activities associated with the redefinition of civics as 1960s-style progressive political activism. They are all strategies straight out of Saul Alinsky’s subversion manual, “Rules for Radicals,” whose translation into Macedonian, incidentally, was funded by Soros’ foundation in 2014.
One of the world’s richest men, Soros has a long history of intervening politically around the globe in the pursuit of his dream of open borders, global governance, and the erosion of regional particularism—what he calls the “open society.”
Because the State Department’s letter was “vague and failed to answer the questions we posed,” the same six Republican members of the House who wrote him—plus a new one, Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz.—last week asked the comptroller general of the Government Accountability Office to open an investigation and audit of the State Department and USAID regarding Macedonia and Soros’ foundation.
The legal watchdog Judicial Watch, for its part, has filed Freedom of Information Act requests asking that the State Department and USAID produce documents related to any grants, contracts, communications, assessments, etc. made by the department to the Foundation Open Society-Macedonia and its subsidiaries.
Whatever comes from these efforts, the political parties that the U.S. ambassador was helping negotiate—the leftist Social Democratic Union and three ethnic Albanian-based parties, the Democratic Union for Integration, Besa, and the Alliance of Albanians—did on Sunday reach an agreement to form a government.
But Macedonia’s president, Gjorge Ivanov, on Wednesday refused to give the Social Democratic Union a mandate to form a government because its leader, Zoran Zaev, acquiesced to the Albanian parties’ demand that Albanian become an official language throughout Macedonia.
The parties worked out the language deal next door in Tirana, Albania—one of the reasons Ivanov cited for withholding the mandate.
Albania is another country where the activities of Soros and his foundation are also under scrutiny for supporting the government of Prime Minister Edi Rama—a socialist who personally brokered the “Tirana Platform.” And in Albania, too, we find an Obama-era ambassador, Donald Lu, who backs the Soros-supported parties.
Rama, who is so close to Soros he attended his 2013 wedding, last week issued an impassioned plea for the U.S. not to abandon the Balkans to Russia, whose influence, he told The Telegraph, “is stronger than ever before.” “Russia,” he added, “has been interested in spreading its influence and there’s a lot of it in the region.”
Putin’s Kremlin routinely and opportunistically tries to maneuver itself into the politics of Europe. Senior Whitehall sources say it plotted to assassinate Montenegro’s prime minister last year.
In Macedonia, too, it has tried to portray itself as being on the side of the conservative VMRO, which leads the present government and won the most votes in the Dec. 11 elections. Even an article I wrote last month was quoted at length by Russia’s Sputnik International.
Reuters reported that on Thursday, March 2, Russia accused Albania, NATO, and the European Union of trying to impose a pro-Albanian government on Macedonia.
Far from backing pro-Putin policies, however, VMRO has long been a staunchly pro-U.S., pro-NATO party.
But our embassies’ notorious support for Soros and his progressive policies does irritate traditional-minded people in Macedonia and elsewhere.
“Some of my conservative friends in Macedonia are now telling me, ‘I hate America,’” Jason Miko, an American businessman who has been visiting the Balkan country for over two decades, told me. “They don’t really hate America. They hate what the Obama administration has done.”
“If Soros wants to spend his own money, then let him, but when he starts using taxpayer money it’s something else,” said Miko, Macedonia’s honorary consul in Arizona.
Commentary by The Heritage Foundation’s Mike Gonzalez. Originally published at The Daily Signal.
Violent Islamic terrorists will be coming to America, fulfilling a deadly campaign promise by Barack Obama.
The kicker? Obama didn’t do it. Terrorists held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba will be shipped into the U.S. under a bill written by Senate Republican leaders.
But don’t worry. Terrorists will only be allowed into the U.S. if they’re too violent to send to places like Yemen or Afghanistan.
The Washington Examiner reports:
The Senate’s draft of the fiscal 2017 defense policy bill opens the door for the Pentagon to begin designing and planning the construction of a facility in the U.S. to house Guantanamo Bay detainees.
The bill text, released late Thursday night, keeps many of the prohibitions in place against using funds to transfer detainees to the U.S. or build or modify facilities in the U.S. to detain those currently at Gitmo.
But it allows the defense secretary to use federal funds for designing and planning the construction of a U.S.-based detention center for those detainees that can’t be released. The Senate’s bill also allows detainees to be transferred to the U.S. temporarily for medical care.
There are many reasons why I’m not a big fan of the United Nations. Like other international bureaucracies, it supports statist policies (higher taxes, gun control,regulation, etc) that hinder economic development and limit human liberty by increasing the burden of government.
Some people tell me that I shouldn’t be too critical because the U.N. also helps poor people with foreign aid. Indeed, the U.N. has a very active project to encourage rich nations to contribute 0.7 percent of their economic output to developing nations.
I generally respond to these (in some cases) well-meaning folks by explaining that there’s a big difference between good intentions and good results. If you examine the evidence, it turns out that redistribution from rich nations to poor nations is just as counterproductive as redistribution within a society.
An article in The Economist succinctly summarizes the issue. It starts with the rationale for foreign aid.
After the second world war, a new “development economics” came to dominate policymaking…, often at the urging of international institutions such as the World Bank. It argued that poor countries were victims of a vicious circle of poverty… The answer? Rich countries should provide the capital, in the form of foreign aid. …poor-country governments should plan their economies and…competition should be restricted through monopoly rights and barriers to foreign trade.
It then describes the revolutionary thinking of the late Peter Thomas Bauer, a Hungarian-born British economist who said the developing world needed economic freedom rather than handouts.
Lord Bauer set out alternative theories that, from the 1950s to the 1970s, were heresy. …Opportunities for private profit, not government plans, held the key to development. Governments had the limited though crucial role of protecting property rights, enforcing contracts, treating everybody equally before the law, minimising inflation and keeping taxes low.
Moreover, Bauer explained that foreign aid generally had a negative effect because it put resources in the hands of government, thus leveraging more statism. Which is the last thing these nations needed.
Aid politicised economies, directing money into the hands of governments rather than towards profitable business. Interest groups then fought to control this money rather than engage in productive activity. Aid increased the patronage and power of the recipient governments, which often pursued policies that stifled entrepreneurship and market forces. Indeed, aid had proved “an excellent method for transferring money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.”
Writing for the U.K.-based Spectator, Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson explain that foreign aid has a very poor track record.
The idea that large donations can remedy poverty has dominated the theory of economic development — and the thinking in many international aid agencies and governments — since the 1950s. And how have the results been? Not so good, actually. Millions have moved out of abject poverty around the world over the past six decades, but that has had little to do with foreign aid. Rather, it is due to economic growth in countries in Asia which received little aid.
Meanwhile, the nations getting the most handouts have remained mired in poverty.
In the meantime, more than a quarter of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa are poorer now than in 1960 — with no sign that foreign aid, however substantive, will end poverty there. …huge aid flows appear to have done little to change the development trajectories of poor countries… Why? …economic institutions that systematically block the incentives and opportunities of poor people to make things better for themselves, their neighbours and their country. …The problem is that their aspirations are blocked today…by extractive institutions. The poor don’t pull themselves out of poverty, because the basic ability to do so is denied them.
What exactly are “extractive institutions”?
“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) came to the Senate floor on November 19th and withdrew cloture motions on the spending bill for the Department of Transportation and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The motions would have allowed the legislation to come up for a procedural vote,” according to The Hill newspaper.
“The move came after Paul, who is running for president, demanded a vote on an amendment that would ban new refugees from 34 countries or territories from getting assistance from welfare programs funded under the spending bill,” The Hill reports.
The idea of cutting off welfare to refugees who haven’t paid into the system horrifies the D.C. establishment, who shut down the Senate rather than hold the vote.
“With Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), who are spearheading the legislation, opposed to Paul’s amendment, Paul pledged that he would block leadership from trying to speed up procedural votes, as well as block any other amendment from getting queued up for floor time,” The Hill reports.
The paper reports “Paul’s demand quickly added an unforeseen complication to the otherwise uncontroversial spending bill…Paul’s roadblock (could_ force the housing-transportation legislation to be wrapped into a larger ‘omnibus’ spending bill, Collins said ‘at this point, that’s probably a good bet.’”
Congress has until mid-December to vote on the legislation, setting up a standoff between Paul and Senate GOP leaders.