The Twisted Logic Of American Foreign Policy

Twisted logic in American foreign policy is nothing new. It has been going on for at least the last half century. However, every now and again it just seems to become even less logical than normal. Andrew McCarthy posted an article at National Review Online today about America’s alliance with the ‘moderate’ Muslims of Saudi Arabia. Admittedly, the Saudis have been important allies on numerous occasions–they have supported the use of the American dollar as the preferred currency in trading oil, they have been a strong enough member of OPEC to keep America from being totally raked over the coals in the oil price negotiations of that organization, and generally they have supported America when it suited their interests. However, there is another side of the story.

The article explains:

And let’s not kid ourselves: We know there will be more beheadings in the coming weeks, and on into the future. Apostates from Islam, homosexuals, and perceived blasphemers will face brutal persecution and death. Women will be treated as chattel and face institutionalized abuse. Islamic-supremacist ideology, with its incitements to jihad and conquest, with its virulent hostility toward the West, will spew from the mosques onto the streets. We will continue to be confronted by a country-sized breeding ground for anti-American terrorists.

The Islamic State? Sorry, no. I was talking about . . .  our “moderate Islamist” ally, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

But the confusion is understandable.

Islamic State terrorists have infamously decapitated three of their prisoners in recent weeks. That is five fewer than the Saudi government decapitated in August alone. Indeed, it is three fewer beheadings than were carried out in September by the Free Syrian Army — the “moderate Islamists” that congressional Republicans have now joined Obama Democrats in supporting with arms and training underwritten by American taxpayer dollars.

Are we really sure that we want to continue our support Saudi Arabia? They are the main supporters of Wahabi Islam. Saudi Arabia supports schools in America that use textbooks whose map of the Middle East does not include the country of Israel. One of the things that puts America in the position of almost having to support Saudi Arabia is the current government energy policies. Energy independence would allow America to make decisions in the international realm based on reality–not energy dependence.

The article reminds of the history of Saudi Arabia:

Saudi Arabia is the cradle of Islam: the birthplace of Mohammed, the site of the Hijra by which Islam marks time — the migration from Mecca to Medina under siege by Mohammed and his followers. The Saudi king is formally known as the “Keeper of the Two Holy Mosques” (in Mecca and Medina); he is the guardian host of the Haj pilgrimage that Islam makes mandatory for able-bodied believers. The despotic Saudi kingdom is governed by Islamic law — sharia. No other law is deemed necessary and no contrary law is permissible.

It is thus under the authority of sharia that the Saudis routinely behead prisoners.

I happen to own the edition of the Koran “with English Translation of ‘The Meanings and Commentary,’” published at the “King Fahd Holy Qur-an Printing Complex” — Fahd was Abdullah’s brother and predecessor. As the introductory pages explain, this version is produced under the auspices of the regime’s “Ministry of Hajj and Endowments.” In its sura (or chapter) 47, Allah commands Muslims, “Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks.”

Andrew McCarthy concludes:

And now Republicans in Congress have joined Democrats to support President Obama’s hare-brained scheme to train 5,000 “moderate” Syrian rebels. As every sentient person knows, a force of that size will have no chance of defeating the Islamic State or al-Qaeda — even if we charitably assume that many in its ranks do not defect to those organizations, as they have been wont to do. The rebels will similarly have no chance against the Iran-backed Assad regime. In sum, our government, nearly $18 trillion in debt, will expend another $500 million to school 5,000 “moderate Islamists” in military tactics that cannot win the war in Syria but could eventually be used in the jihad against the United States. Welcome to Libya . . . the Sequel.

Oh, and did I mention that the training of these “moderate” rebels will take place in “moderate” Saudi Arabia?

American foreign policy has stopped supporting the interests of America.

Behind The Rift Between The United States And Saudi Arabia

Yesterday Michael Ledeen posted an article at the Huffington Post about the recent rift between America and Saudi Arabia. Mr. Ledeen reminds us that the problem between the two countries is a result of the problems that Iran is causing in the Middle East.

The article reports:

During the 2011 “Arab Spring,” for example, Iran and Saudi Arabia came very close to direct armed conflict in Bahrain. The Iranian regime had allegedly fomented uprisings among the Shi’ites in Bahrain, a small island just off the coast of Saudi Arabia, to which it is connected by a two-mile causeway. There seemed to be a real possibility that the pro-Saudi, pro-American royal family might be overthrown, and the Saudis threatened to send troops across the causeway to put down the disturbance. Iran reacted violently, but when Saudi troops marched into Bahrain, the Guards were nowhere to be found.

Following the Saudi intervention, the Revolutionary Guards were reportedly ordered to organize attacks on Saudi targets all over the world. They reportedly recruited hundreds of Iranian suicide bombers (although this is usually disinformation, since the regime typically uses Arabs, not Iranians, for such operations).

The article at the Huffington Post lists a number of incidents in recent years where Iran has targeting the Saudis and their interests around the world.

The article concludes:

Bottom line: there’s a very real war out there, and the Saudis are in the Iranian crosshairs. The Royal Family are not just worried about the destiny of Syria, they’re very much concerned about their own fate. This is what gives so much intensity to their recent actions and statements.

The Saudis are not angels. However, they are a successful counterbalance to Iran i the Middle East. They are also responsible for the fact that oil is traded in American dollars. We need to treat them well.

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America Is Rapidly Losing Friends

One of the campaign claims of Barack Obama was that George Bush’s foreign policy had resulted in America being disliked around the world and that he, Barack Obama, would change that. Well, it hasn’t exactly worked that way.

On Friday, Richard Fernandez posted an article at PJ Media about the changing relationship between America and Saudi Arabia.

The article reports:

Today Saudi Arabia rejected a seat on the UN Security Council to which it had been unanimously elected in protest against “its long-time patron United States’ overtures to Iran, among other peeves,” according to the Times of India.

Alienating Saudi Arabia is not necessarily a good thing. I understand that the government of Saudi Arabia is a repressive Islamic state. It is a dictatorship that severely limits the rights of women. However, the Saudis have been the major support of the U.S. dollar as the trading currency for oil. That is one of the major things that has prevented the U.S. dollar from becoming worthless paper.

The Saudis understand the threat that Iran presents. On October 3rd, the National Interest reported:

The Saudi royal family has seen Iran as a threat to their survival ever since 1979, when Iranian leaders began encouraging Shi’ite communities in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province to rebel. Subsequently, the Kingdom has been engaged in a regional battle for influence with Iran, and the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq removed a traditional counterweight to Iranian power. Sunni rulers now fear a Shi’ite crescent stretching from Iran to the Mediterranean—and possibly south into the Arab Gulf states.

Fearing Iranian advances, the Kingdom spearheaded a 2011 military intervention by the Gulf Cooperation Council that was designed to rescue the minority Sunni regime in Bahrain from its Shi’ite opposition. But of late, Syria has been the biggest regional source of conflict between Riyadh and Tehran. Saudi officials insist that Syria’s Assad regime is guilty of genocide, and they see Iran’s efforts to rescue Assad as aiding and abetting this slaughter.

I have lost faith in the idea that any of the Muslim countries in the Middle East will form governments that will actually promote freedom. Sharia Law is not compatible with freedom, and Sharia Law is one of the basic tenets of Islam. I suspect our best course of action is to understand who we are dealing with and distance ourselves when necessary. Saudi Arabia is an ally in the fight against radical Shiite Islam, but the Wahabi brand of Sunni Islam in Saudi Arabia gave us Al Qaeda. We would be better off the let the radicals deal with each other and stay out of the way.

This is how Richard Fernandez sums up President Obama”s foreign policy:

Obama sold himself to the voters as the candidate of the future. His real talent however, apparently lies in missing every opportunity that history presents. It has been said that “generals always fight the last war, especially if they have won it”. With Obama it’s different. He always fights the last war and can’t even remember who won it, except to remain confirmed in his conviction that the future is some other country’s past.

President Obama may be a very intelligent man, but he obviously does not have a gift for dealing with (or understanding) the complexities of the Middle East.

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Stating The Obvious

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal posted an article stating that Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is warning his country that America‘s development of shale oil will be a threat to the Saudi economy. The letter, written to Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi and several other ministers warned that the U.S. shale oil boom will decrease the amount of oil purchased from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The Prince also asked the government to accelerate its plans to diversify the Saudi economy.

The article reports:

In contrast to Prince Alwaleed, Mr. Naimi, the Saudi oil minister, has so far played down the significance of rising shale-oil production, despite the fact that some OPEC members, such as Nigeria and Algeria, have seen a sharp drop in their exports to the U.S. At an OPEC meeting in late May, he said it wasn’t the first time OPEC has had to compete with a surge in output from countries outside the group.

“We disagree with your Excellency on what you said, and we see that rising North American shale gas production is an inevitable threat,” Prince Alwaleed’s letter said, in comments directed at Mr. Naimi.

Neither Mr. Naimi nor a spokesman for the ministry could be reached to comment.

The chart below shows American imports of Saudi oil in the past thirteen years:

image

Notice that the biggest drop in American oil imports was during the height of the recent recession.

You’ll excuse me if I don’t have a lot of sympathy for Saudi Arabia and OPEC. Both OPEC and Saudi Arabia have used their monopoly on oil to support tyrannical rulers and international terrorism. Because of that monopoly, America and Western countries have been reluctant to deal with the death and carnage the Saudis and OPEC nations have been responsible for. It would be very nice to see a Saudi economy so diversified that a middle class could form.

In January of this year, The Guardian reported on poverty in Saudi Arabia:

The article reported:

Under King Abdullah, the Saudi government has spent billions to help the growing numbers of poor, estimated to be as much as a quarter of the native Saudi population. But critics complain that those programmes are inadequate, and that some royals seem more concerned with the country’s image than with helping the needy. In 2011, for example, three Saudi video bloggers were jailed for two weeks after they made an online film about poverty in Saudi Arabia.

“The state hides the poor very well,” said Rosie Bsheer, a Saudi scholar who has written extensively on development and poverty. “The elite don’t see the suffering of the poor. People are hungry.”

The Saudi government discloses little official data about its poorest citizens. But press reports and private estimates suggest that between 2 million and 4 million of the country’s native Saudis live on less than about $530 a month – about $17 a day – considered the poverty line in Saudi Arabia.

The money we are sending to Saudi Arabia for oil could be better spent building energy independence for America. We need shale oil, we need the Keystone Pipeline and we need new refineries. Development in those areas would greatly improve the American economy as well as improve our national security by making us more energy independent.

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Where’s Waldo ?

Our relationship with Saudi Arabia has always been complex. We depend on the Saudis to continue trading oil in American dollars. If they decide not to continue doing that, the worth of the American dollar sinks rapidly. Sometimes our relationship with the Saudis results in some really strange events.

After the Boston Marathon bombing, Abdul Rahman Alharbi was named as a person of interest. I reported some of the details of this at rightwinggranny.com in April. Abdul Rahman Alharbi was originally named as a ‘person of interest’ and was scheduled to be deported. Then, after a number of ‘secret’ meetings, he was declared totally innocent of anything and not scheduled to be deported. The mystery deepened–no one seemed to know where he was or what the real story was.

Well, we found him–he was at the White House celebration of July 4th.

Yesterday GlennBeck.com reported:

Abdul Rahman Alharbi, once a person of interest in the Boston Marathon bombing, turned up at the White House for July 4th festivities. He was at one time placed on a watch list and was at one point labeled a threat to national security by the State Department. What in the world was he doing there?

As reported by TheBlaze, Abdul Rahman Ali Alharbi appears to have been in attendance at the White House’s 4th of July celebration for military leaders and their families. A Twitter account from a person claiming to be Alharbi’s father posted photos of the Saudi national at the event, and a Arab newspaper claims he was invited to attend.

Curiouser and curiouser.

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Our Disfunctional Relationship With The Saudis

Last Thursday I posted an article about a Saudi national who had been declared a ‘person of interest’ then later a ‘witness’ in the Boston bombings and was scheduled to be deported as a national security threat and then was unscheduled to be deported as a national security threat (rightwinggranny.com). Talk about having a good lawyer!

Glenn Beck at The Blaze added a whole new dimension to the story today. The bottom line is that the Saudi is either on his way out of the country today or will be leaving shortly for Saudi Arabia. How did all this happen and why is it important?

Highlights from the article:

  • A Saudi national originally identified as a “person of interest” in the Boston Marathon bombing was set to be deported under section 212 3B — “Security and related grounds” — “Terrorist activities” after the bombing
  • As the story gained traction, TheBlaze’s Chief Content Officer Joel Cheatwood received word that the government may not deport the Saudi national, originally identified as Abdul Rahman Ali Alharbi
  • Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano refused to answer questions on the subject when confronted by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) on Capitol Hill.
  • An ICE official said a different Saudi national is in custody, but is “in no way” connected to the bombings.
  • A congressional source, however, says that the file on Alharbi was created, that he was “linked” in some way to the Boston bombings (though it is unclear how), and that documents showing all this have been sent to Congress.
  • Key congressmen of the Committee on Homeland Security request a classified briefing with Napolitano
  • Fox News’ Todd Starnes reports that Alharbi was allegedly flagged on a terrorist watch list and granted a student visa without being properly vetted.  Sources close to the investigation also told him the Saudi is still set for deportation.
  • New information provided to TheBlaze reveals Alharbi’s file was altered early Wednesday evening to disassociate him from the initial charges
  • Sources say the Saudi’s student visa specifically allows him to go to school in Findlay, Ohio, though he appears to have an apartment in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Sources tell us this will most likely now be kicked from the DHS to the DOJ and labeled an ongoing investigation that can no longer be discussed.

The article continues:

“We are not sure who actually tagged him as a ’212 3B,’ but we know it is very difficult to charge someone with this — it has to be almost certain,” Beck explained.  “It is the equivalent in civil society of charging someone with premeditated murder and seeking the death penalty — it is not thrown around lightly.”

Beck continued, noting that after Secretary of State John Kerry met with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud on Tuesday, the FBI began backtracking on the Saudi national from suspect, to person of interest, to witness, to victim, to nobody.

Then, on Wednesday, President Obama had a “chance” encounter with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud and Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir.

“Wednesday at 5:35 p.m. the file is altered,” Beck said.  “This is unheard of, this is impossible in the timeline due to the severity of the charge….You don’t one day put a 212 3B charge against somebody with deportation, and then the next day take it off.  It would require too much to do it.”

He didn’t mention the fact that Michelle Obama visited this Saudi in the hospital in Boston (she did not visit any other bombing victims).

So what is this about? Glenn Beck looks at it as part of the agreement we have with the Saudis to maintain stability in the Middle East. There is probably a lot of truth in that, but there is one more part. The American dollar is used to trade oil. The Saudis are one of the world’s largest exporters of oil, so they have a fairly strong voice in OPEC. The fact that oil is traded in American dollars stabilizes the value of the American dollar somewhat (despite various QE’s done by the U. S. Treasury) and helps the American economy. One reason that gasoline is so expensive at the pump is that the value of the American dollar has been so undermined by the QE’s, but that’s another story.

I would like to go back to the idea that the Saudis help preserve stability in the Middle East. That is probably true, but at some point we need to examine the price of that stability. We have backed some rather nasty people in the Middle East in order to maintain that stability. At one point we sided with Saddam Hussein against Iran, we supported Hosni Mubarak, and we showed some level of support to Muammar Gaddafi at various times. None of these men were champions of either democracy or free speech. However, Christians in their countries were safer with them in charge than they are with the new leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood. Stability isn’t all it is cracked up to be. At some point we need to stand for freedom and democracy. Our alliance with the Saudis does not show a support of either freedom or democracy–Bibles are banned in Saudi Arabia, women are second class citizens, and Christian Churches cannot be built.  It’s time to rethink our Middle East policy. We have allied ourselves with tyrants during more than one administration.

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Why Energy Independence Is Important

UPDATE:  Since I posted this story, it has changed. The Saudi national named in the story is not scheduled for deportation. The connections between his family and terrorism are still the same as they are listed in the story. That has not changed.

As the debate on the Keystone Pipeline continues, there is one aspect of energy independence that we need to pay more attention to–where our oil comes from.

The following chart was posted at a website called Window on State Government:

U.S. Crude Oil Supply by Source, 2006:  U.S. total production accounts for 33.5%, imports from OPEC nations account for 31.4%, and imports from non-OPEC countries make up 35.0%.

Just for the record, there was another thought-provoking chart on that sight:

Cost Structure of Gasoline: We paid $3.24 per gallon of regular gasoline in March 2008.  72% of that in the cost of crude oil, 13% is taxes, 8% is refining and 8% is distribution and marketing.  Numbers may not total due to rounding.  Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration.

I posted the above graph because the gasoline tax is about to go up in Massachusetts, increasing the amount of profit the government makes from every gallon of gasoline sold in America to more than 13%. I think that is obscene.

Anyway, back to the actual subject of this article. Note that nearly a third of our oil imports come from OPEC countries. Remember that most OPEC countries are not free democracies–they are Islamic dictatorships. One of the least free of the OPEC countries is Saudi Arabia. The Saudis also claim to be our friends. Well, maybe.

Yesterday, as Americans heard the news that the Saudi national who had been detained after the Boston Marathon bombing was innocent, Front Page Magazine posted a story about the culture of clans in Saudi Arabia. First of all, I need to mention that I posted a video last night stating that Abdulrahman Ali Alharbi, the Saudi who was detained, will be deported back to Saudi Arabia next week due to security concerns. Since the Saudi culture is one of clans rather than country, let’s take a look at Alharbi’s clan as described in the Front Page Magazine article:

Perhaps a quick look at the Arabic sources should raise the eyebrows of every American relative to the extent of the problem at hand. Many from Al-Harbi’s clan are steeped in terrorism and are members of Al-Qaeda. Out of a list of 85 terrorists listed by the Saudi government shows several of Al-Harbi clan to have been active fighters in Al-Qaeda:Perhaps a quick look at the Arabic sources should raise the eyebrows of every American relative to the extent of the problem at hand. Many from Al-Harbi’s clan are steeped in terrorism and are members of Al-Qaeda. Out of a list of 85 terrorists listed by the Saudi government shows several of Al-Harbi clan to have been active fighters in Al-Qaeda:

As was stated in the video posted, America doesn’t arrest Saudis connected to terrorism–we simply deport them.

Abdulrahman Ali Alharbi may be innocent of everything except having questionable relatives (something we can all understand), but it would be interesting to know if the actions we are taking would be different if we were not so dependent on Saudi Arabia to be a voice friendly to America when OPEC meets.

Energy independence is a good idea because it not only protects us if Iran closes the Strait of Hormuz, but it also allows us to act to protect America from terrorism without having to worry if we will lose our oil supply.

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Saudi Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Has Died

Fox News is reporting today that Saudi Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has died. Crown Prince Nayef was in his late 70’s. He was responsible for Saudi Arabia’s crackdown on Al Qaeda after the 9/11 attacks on America. He was the successor to the throne of Saudi Arabia.

The article reports:

Nayef’s death unexpectedly reopens the question of succession in this crucial U.S. ally and oil powerhouse for the second time in less than a year. The 88-year-old King Abdullah has now outlived two designated successors, despite ailments of his own. Now a new crown prince must be chosen from among his brothers and half-brothers, all the sons of Saudi Arabia’s founder, Abdul-Aziz. 

The figure believed most likely to be tapped as the new heir is Prince Salman, the current defense minister who previously served for decades in the powerful post of governor of Riyadh, the capital. The crown prince will be chosen by the Allegiance Council, an assembly of Abdul-Aziz’s sons and some of his grandchildren. 

As much as there are serious questions about some of the links between Saudi Arabia and radical Islam,the Saudis have traditionally been the ones who have been the voice of sanity in keeping the price of oil under control. The Saudi royal family is also on the radar of the Muslim Brotherhood as a target for the Arab Spring. The death of Crown Prince Nayef will have an impact on the balance of power in OPEC and in the Middle East.
 

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The Saudis Bring Reason To OPEC

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is meeting this week. The Financial Times reminds us that oil prices have dropped from $128 a barrel in March to a current price of about $100. The drop is partially due to the financial difficulties in the European Union and the general slowdown in the world’s economy. Normally when the price of oil drops, OPEC calls for a decrease in production so that the price will rise again (supply and demand works!).

Recently OPEC has been producing more oil than its quota in an effort to lessen the impact of the oil sanctions that Europe and America have placed on Iran in an attempt to end Iran’s nuclear program. Saudi Arabia seems to be responsible for the increase–Ali Naimi, Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, told the Financial Times in March that he would like to see lower oil prices  “that will not hurt the global economic recovery”.

The Saudis have called for higher oil output levels despite the lower prices. I would love to be a fly on the wall (one who understood whatever language is spoken) at the coming OPEC meeting!

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Saudi Arabia Has Closed Its Embassy In Cairo

Yesterday’s Financial Times reported that Saudi Arabia has closed its embassy in Cairo after protests by Egyptian activists at the embassy. The protesters are protesting the arrest of Ahmed al-Gizawy, who was arrested when he arrived in Saudi Arabia for a pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina. The Saudis have accused Mr. al-Gizawy of smuggling Xanax (which is an illegal substance in Saudi Arabia) into the country.

The article further reports that the protesters believe that Mr. al-Gizawy is being held because of a court case he brought in Cairo over the illegal detention of Egyptians in Saudi Arabia. The Egyptians have been held without trial. Mr. al-Gizawy had been tried and sentenced in absentia in a Saudi court, but was not told that in advance of his trip.

Before the fall of Mubarak, the government of Egypt would not have allowed protests against the Saudis. One reason I find this interesting is that I believe that the rulers of Saudi Arabia are the next target of the Muslim Brotherhood in the ‘Arab Spring.’ They are the major non-democracy still standing in the Middle East. Despite the fact that Saudi Arabia practices Sharia Law, it is under the control of the Saudi royal family–not the Muslim Brotherhood.

Make no mistake, the Muslim Brotherhood supports a world-wide caliphate–but only one which they control.

 
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A Serious Problem For The Future Of Free Speech

Yesterday Frank Gaffney, Jr., at the Center For Security Policy posted an article about the arrest of a Saudi newspaper columnist named Hamza Kashgari in Malaysia.

The article reports:

A Saudi newspaper columnist named Hamza Kashgari was detained in Malaysia, reportedly on the basis of an alert by the International Criminal Police Organization, better known as Interpol.  Reuters quotes a Malaysian police spokesman as saying that, “This arrest was part of an Interpol operation which the Malaysian police were a part of.” It was apparently mounted in response to a “red notice” (or request for help apprehending an individual) issued by Saudi Arabia.  Kashgari was then sent back to Saudi Arabia where he faces almost certain death.

Mr. Kashgari’s crime?  He criticized the founder of Islam, Mohammed, on his Twitter account.  According to press he reports, he addressed the man Muslims call theProphet directly, writing: “ I have loved things about you and I have hated things about you. There is a lot I don’t understand about you….I will not pray for you.”  

The troubling part of this is that Interpol played a part in the arrest. Interpol is supposed to protect human rights and free speech.

The article further reports:

An Interpol spokesman insists that his organization had nothing to do with Hamza Kashgari’s apprehension in Malaysia and involuntary return to Saudi Arabia.  What is clear at this point is that the Saudis sought help apprehending the man who fled their not-so-tender mercies.  It seems likely that the Saudi red notice to Interpol provided the Malays a pretext for intercepting and extraditing a columnist who dared to exercise free speech.

So what–I live in America, what has this got to do with me? Well:

After all, in a December 2009 executive order unveiled on a Friday afternoon in the run-up to the Christmas holidays, President Obama issued Executive Order 13524.  It amended an earlier order by President Reagan that conferred on Interpol some – but not all – of the privileges of a foreign diplomatic mission.  

Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor and one of the finest legal minds and essayists of our time, wrote on the occasion that Obama’s amendments would have the effect of establishing here “an international police force immune from the restraints of American law.”  He added that, thanks to the Obama executive order:

“This international police force (whose U.S. headquarters is in the Justice Department in Washington) will be unrestrained by the U.S. Constitution and American law while it operates in the United States and affects both Americans and American interests outside the United States.”

Are you worried yet?

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