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Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Resolution: A Gold Standard for 2016!

Candidate Ted Cruz has raised the point on the stump:  we need a stable currency again.  We need to
reconsider the merits of the gold standard.  Otherwise, another world crisis like 2008 seems inevitable.
Here's an excellent piece by Ralph Benko, one of the country's chief evangelists for gold as currency, on why this idea should be in the mainstream of debt:  Gold is a Very Good Idea

The critics want constant currency inflation and a politicized monetary policy.  We have already seen the Fed is feckless.  A true gold standard depoliticizes money.  It is also constitutional, while our current monetary policy is not.

The other part of the problem is that the dollar must cease being the international reserve currency.  This underwrites all the excess spending and our government never having to live within its means.  But that's for another day.  Happy New Year!

Why Populist Parties Are Succeeding

It is simple: conservative parties have sold out their base supporters.  In Europe and the United States, we are experiencing a political realignment.  John O'Sullivan offers this good explanation in National Review:  conservative-party-failures-populist-alternatives  What Trump realizes is that Americans are deeply frustrated that we continue to open the doors to the immigrants of the world while getting little in return.  And we do this during a period of low growth and high unemployment.  In Europe the populists attack the twin failures of the Euro and the Schengen borderless continent.  The real problem is that this realignment is happening only on the Right, and it risks clearing the path for the socialists here and in Europe to consolidate their grip.

O'Sullivan is right that Trump is in this to stay and that he relishes the fight.  People like his personality, his patriotism, and his unwillingness to back down or apologize.  He also challenges the recent Republican obsession with global security and military interventions.  But, with the exception of immigration, he is liberal on just about every issue.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

More Info Linking Marijuana Use to Violence

Check out this column by British author Kathy Gyngell:  cannabis-is-at-the-root-of-the-terror-threat

We might be barking up the wrong tree, looking at radical Islam as the root cause of the terror problem.  So many of the perpetrators are just drug-using losers.  Few of them go to mosque or are particularly religious.

No, marijuana use doesn't cause terrorism.  But it certainly lowers inhibitions and it contributes to delinquency.

The supporters of legalized marijuana need to answer for this bad behavior.

Ms. Gyngell cites evidence that Colorado voters are beginning to have buyers' remorse about support pot legalization.  Public health issues have worsened; marijuana traffic accidents are up. (Ohio voters, learning something by others' bad example,  rejected legalization last month.)

Check out this devastating report on marijuana from the American College of Pediatricians: marijuana-use-detrimental-to-youth  The FDA still hold marijuana as a schedule I drug.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Venezuela: Good Win, But Watch for a Coup

Chavez's "red fascist" movement was clobbered in the polls yesterday.  The opposition will control the National Assembly for the first time since the destructive Chavez movement took over the country in 1998.  Here's a good link to the preliminary results: Opposition wins in Venezuela

Congratulations to the brave leaders of Venezuela's opposition, who truly are unappreciated democratic heroes.   Free Leopoldo Lopez!

(One correction:  the opposition is not made up just of conservative and moderate parties, as this piece alleges.  Some oppositionists in Venezuela are leftists too who just happen to hate Chavez, Maduro, and their warped legacy.  One of the reasons why Chavez succeeded so easily was the public was conditioned for years to accept statist and socialistic public policy.)

Hard to believe anyone would vote for his PSUV party after the irreparable damage it has done to that country.  But the fact is, no matter how bad a national situation gets, there are some who benefit from the status quo.  Venezuelans had voted for socialism for years, and they got it good and hard.

President Nicolas Maduro will be forced to govern with a hostile National Assembly.  He will ignore it, undermine it, or disband it, or set up a parallel "people's assembly."  His minions will assault opposition legislators as they try to enter the building. We have seen this play out before.   

Andres Oppenheimer spells out Maduro's possible next steps here:  What will Maduro do next?  Best line of the piece:  
it's time for Latin America's diplomatic community to stop behaving like a mutual protection society for repressive regimes. 
The Latin American republics band together to defend its presidents, no matter what criminal behavior they are up to.  (See the sad policy on Honduras in 2009.) I would add that it is time for the US to recognize that democracy is not defined by an "elected" president.

Read more here:

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Cubans Are Leaving the Socialist Paradise

Good article in the WaPo on the big spike in Cuban immigration to the US.  Under the Clinton Era "wet foot/dry foot" policy, if Cubans reach US soil, they are granted citizenship and welfare benefits.  This corrupt deal must end.  It should have ended once Obama started the normalization process.   More Cubans Coming to America

Lots of Cubans are getting stranded in third countries on the way to the US.  Ecuador has apparently been a big destination lately.  It has open borders and it operates on the US dollar.

Unintended consequence of Obama's Cuba opening:  Cuba becomes more of a dependent on the US, and a bigger headache.  The idea that Cuba will become a "up-by-the-bootstraps" success story is pure fantasy.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

American Becoming a Harder Target

The San Bernadino attack is the worst terrorist event on US soil since 9/11, in terms of victims killed. According to the FBI, since 2000 only two incidents have occurred in which more than one attacker was involved. Check out this good piece by Peter Bergen: Terrorist Attack Explained The article has some good links, including one breaking down how many jihadists have been tracked and arrested on US soil. Link: New America on Terrorist Extremism My two quick takeaways from all this: The Inland Regional Center apparently did a great job training its employees on shelter-in-place and active shooter response, and the local police response time was outstanding.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Trump the Traitor

Why does the liberal media hate Donald Trump so much?  He is after all a media and entertainment figure himself, and he's a proven "ratings magnet."  What gives?

Pat Buchanan explains it a bit here: why-liberal-media-hate-trump/   Pat reasons it is because Trump has abandoned the religion of political correctness and refuses to kowtow to the media's self-righteousness.  Instead of apologizing for verbal transgressions, Trump "doubles down," and in fact insists the media apologize to him.  Priceless.

That explains it in part.  But it overlooks a deeper problem the media has with Trump: that he is a traitor to the cause.  By criticizing open borders and suggesting that mass immigration is not all unicorns and rainbows, Trump breaks from the media's One-World religion.  Likewise, the conservative masses like Trump, and that simply proves he is unacceptable.  Trump has been a reliable liberal all his life, so they feel betrayed by his defection.

This doesn't justify a conservative voting for Trump.  I still half-believe he is a Trojan Horse in the Republican Party.  It is only fair to point out that the man is not completely without virtue.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Mass Shootings Not on the Rise

The shooting yesterday in San Bernadino, CA was shocking and inexplicable.  How do you categorize it?  Workplace violence?  Terrorism?  Why did this guy Syed Rizwan Farook decide to do this, and why did he drag his wife into it?  

Are mass shootings--defined by the FBI as four or more victims--on the rise?  Not according to criminologists at Northeastern University, who claim they have held steady at about 20 events per year for the last four decades or so.  See this article in Slate:  mass_shootings_in_america

The homicide rate in general has been declining for years, but these mass incidents suggest deeper problems.  And no one has a reasonable solution to this.

Even if some of the employees at the training center were armed, it probably wouldn't have done much good, as the couple employed AR-15s and wore body armor.  They were well prepared for this mayhem.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Reverse Immigration: Mexican Families Leaving the US

The Pew Research Center reports that many Mexican families are returning to Mexico.  Between 2009 and 2014, net immigration from Mexico to US has been -140,000.  For the first time since the big immigration wave began in the 1970s, the trend is reversing.   Here's a key passage from the report:
The views Mexicans have of life north of the border are changing too. While almost half (48%) of adults in Mexico believe life is better in the U.S., a growing share says it is neither better nor worse than life in Mexico.Today, a third (33%) of adults in Mexico say those who move to the U.S. lead a life that is equivalent to that in Mexico – a share 10 percentage points higher than in 2007.
Family reunification is cited by those polls as the main reason for the return.  We have to think too that the US economy's poor performance over the last several years has a lot to do with this.  And now with the oil collapse, the Texas economy will be much less of a magnet.   Here's the full report: mexican-immigration__FINAL.pdf

Monday, November 30, 2015

Paris Climate Summit to Expand Governments' Control

More good news for the oil and gas industry.  Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in the Telegraph spells out what the new nations' emissions targets will be and the new "plutocrats" who will gain from government investment in renewable energy.   See End of Fossil Era

Somehow, these limits will cap the temperature rise at 2 degrees C.  How world energy demands will be met with oil production at 72 M barrels per day I have no idea.  This will be the death knell of oil majors.

The real intended outcome has nothing to do with the climate, but with the government controlling more and more industry and development, and more tax money going to select interests.   And this coming from an American President.

Agreement will not be a treaty.  But it doesn't matter to us, because the feds will enforce this by its expansive definition of Clean Air Act legislation and the EPA.   The Democracy gets no say in this.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Marijuana Smoking Linked to Terrorism

At least one of the Paris terrorists and the Colorado Planned Parenthood gunman have been described in the media as heavy marijuana users.  In another high profile and brutal murder in England a few years ago, the killers of the British soldier also were serious potheads.  Hmm.

Correlation is not causation.  But researchers have long noticed the connection between crime and marijuana use.  Reports from the United States, England, and Australia show that approximately 60% of arrestees test positive for marijuana use and that marijuana is the drug most frequently found in arrestees’ urine.  And despite the common assumption that pot makes you mellow, many of these criminals are violent, too. 

Here's an interesting Rand study from 2004 that does suggest a causal link between marijuana and violent crime, at least when the researchers ran some of the data:  RAND: Marijuana and Crime   (As usual with statistical social science, no definitive conclusions and more study needed!)  

The useful blog site Crime in America posted these stats correlating crime and marijuana use: more-on-marijuana-and-crime-crime-statistics/

Common sense suggests we continue to treat marijuana as a harmful substance with little proven social benefit, but with a great potential to do harm.

In the US we have been seeing a headlong rush to brand marijuana as harmless, and even therapeutic.  This flies in the face of nearly all evidence. See this post from Columbia University researchers on why voters should  be wary of medicinal marijuana:  why-you-should-think-twice-voting-yes-medical-marijuana

The Food and Drug Administration still considers it a harmful drug and has not approved it for medical use.  By smoking marijuana, how do you regulate the dosage?  Since when is smoking a legitimate way to take medicine?   Medical pot is a crock. 

Congratulations to the people of Ohio for rejecting legalized marijuana in a state referendum a few weeks ago. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

America's Mission is Not to Defend Humanity

But to defend US interests.  Robert Merry complains about the confusion of aims over the last fifteen years here:  US Leaders Don't Know What to Think  Overthrowing Saddam and Qadhafi for the sake of humanity hasn't worked for anyone's interests, except international Jihad's.  Merry supports a more "transactional" relationship with foreign leaders like former President Mubarak and Putin.

Some good points here, but I think the problem is different.  It is not that US leaders don't know what US interests are.   It is that they consistently fail to think strategically about those interests.  Washington always is reactive and tactical.  Lack of sound strategic thinking is what has made a mess of the Middle East and Central Asia recently.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Americans' Common Sense on Climate Change

The constant barrage of propaganda and fear-mongering has failed to convince Americans they need to act on climate change.  We are carpooling less, and using alternative-fueled cars even less than before.  We aren't riding bicycles to work.   Here's a good article by David Harsanyi in The Federalist pointing to the counter trends.  Americans-dont-really-care-about-climate-change/

Why?  The environmentalists have made the threat so urgent and dire that everyone realizes it is a problem than cannot be solved.  If there is no solution, there is no problem.

Friday, November 20, 2015

History Repeating Itself with Campus, Urban Protests?

Lately we are reminded of the Sixties, with its atmosphere of university sit-ins and urban protests and riots. The university demonstrations have been highly mythologized; the urban protests were very real. Michael Barone makes the point that these came during a period of liberal governance, with high expectations of the future.  What followed was the rise of the silent majority, and many years of relatively conservative administrations.  Here's his provocative piece:  An unhappy history repeating itself

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Screw the Candlelight Vigil

As Mark Steyn says,  it's time now to launch the "pitiless" war against the Islamic extremists, and stop with the hashtags, and the vigils, and the weepy sentimentality.  The barbarians are inside the gates

The death toll is about 150 in Paris.

ISIS has demonstrated its global reach.  It is responsible for recent bombings in Ankara and Beirut, too. The evidence is mounting a bomb blew up the Russian plane flying out of the Sinai; ISIS took credit for it.

So now we know this is no limited, regional war that can be contained.  The West has to destroy ISIS's conceit that it can operate a caliphate in the Middle East and deliver bombers throughout the world.

Other third order effects:  illegal immigration will stay a major campaign issue here.  (Even though that it is much less a problem now than it was fifteen years ago and it has not been a cover for extremism.)  In the EU, the movement to close borders will grow; Merkel will lose that argument.  We also may see less attacks on the kind of programs the NSA was running to stop terrorism.  Anyone up for closing GTMO now?

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Terror Hits Paris

This morning, we are all just catching up on this least 125 dead in three or more separate attacks in Paris.  ISIS has claimed responsibility.

The worst part about the event is that the Parisian authorities were on the alert.  This isn't the first terrorist attack in the city this year; they have been bolstering up security.

Many fingers will point, but it is hard to defend against these types of suicide attacks.  However, it seems clear that France has well organized terrorist cells in its territory.  These are no "lone wolf" attacks.  This took careful planning.

Perhaps ISIS is more of an international threat after all.  A few weeks ago it made a massive terrorist strike in Ankara.  (But Ankara doesn't count like Paris.)

What will be the repercussions?   Will the western "powers" join Russia in Syria?   Will crushing ISIS actually do something about this type of terrorism?  

Will the US join up?  Our strategic has been attrition and containment, up to now.  Will we do more?  That will require Big Army getting involved.   I think the public would support it.  What say you, Mr. Obama?

Kudos to Amazon for this image on its website this am:


Friday, November 13, 2015

Breaking the Geopolitical Rules

John McLaughlin, former CIA senior executive, sums up the issues nicely here:  we are seeing major challenges to the post-WWII "rules-based" international system.  Russia, by ignoring the sanctity of national frontiers, China, by ignoring freedom of the seas in the South China Sea, and ISIS by overthrowing the nation-state in the Middle East. See his:  Breaking the Geopolitical Rules  

My friend Sean "The Modern Mercenary" McFate likes to point out the Westphalian system of the supremacy of the nation state is being eclipsed by "neo-medievalism."  I agree ISIS suggests that other forces than the state are throwing their weight around.   But in the case of Russia and China,  the nation-state is roaring back.  The problem is to corral them back into a rules-based system.

We might add that it is Russia that seems to be doing more to bolster the nation-state concept in the Middle East than the US is.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Google Dishonors Veterans' Day

Google insults our intelligence with this picture:

Veterans Day 2015 Doodle
Google distorts the overwhelming effort made by men--mostly white men--in defense of our country.  Why is truth so hard to acknowledge?  Political correctness is erasing history.

Happy Veterans' Day!  

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

University of Missouri: Seeing-No-Evil in the Show-Me State

Am I the only one who thinks this recent "resignation" of University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe is a total farce?  Where has  the Fourth Estate been on this one?   Are all the claims by the activists accepted without any proof?

Does anyone believe that a university in this day and age is a seething hotbed of institutional racism?  Or that a university administration wouldn't jump at the chance to stamp it out root and branch?  That's practically the only acknowledged universal truth left in academe: that racism is evil.   But the Whig digresses.

What happened:  black student activists at "Mizzou," which included a graduate student hunger striker and later, the whole football team, demanded the president resign, for some vague reasons having to do with him being insensitive to the growing racist threat on campus.   First he said he wouldn't, then when the governor and the board of curators got together, he said he would.  See the NY Times piece here: University President Resigns

Here's some helpful things some enterprising journalists might clarify for all of us:

  • Supposedly this started when the student body president, ironically, a black man in this hot bed of institutionalized racism, claimed he was assaulted with racial epithets by a truck full of white boys.  He went on Facebook to announce it.  Any witnesses?  No, we take his word for it. 
  • Then other black protesters decided to block the president's car during the Homecoming Parade.   They do it, but he drives on.  We are supposed to believe he was insensitive for not stopping to engage with them in Platonic discourse--in the middle of the parade.    
  • More recently, someone at 2 am. smeared a swastika in human excrement on the floor or walls of a bathroom in some alternative lifestyle dorm.  In the age of the smart phone, we have no photos of this scatological mess. (Because that what racists apparently do when there is no spray paint available.)   What does this have to do with the black protesters?  I dunno.
  • There's a hunger striker in all of this.  He claims to have been doing it.  Okay.
President Wolfe went out like a lamb.  (Why didn't he tell the board to fire him?  Put the cravenness on them?  But no: these are "Darkness at Noon" times.  I'm sure he went out thanking his accusers.)

Now the activists say you ain't seen nothin' yet (why should they give up now, after such an easy win)   The activists demanded Wolfe not only resign, but issue an apology, claim to be the product of white privilege (not making any of this up), ensure all faculty and staff are 10 percent black, have more services for mental health patients (uh, what?), and have of course mandatory diversity and inclusivity courses which will be overseen, by---wait for it--people of color.

Somehow, this is about money, in the end, and not even a lot of money. Graduate students and professors have their salaries frozen or are finding it harder to get more lucrative administrative positions.  Hence the demand for more administrative positions.  (Which by the way is why the teaching assistant and professor salaries are frozen, but never mind.)  Wolfe was brought in to cut costs.  Now the Curators will do the opposite and hire more administrators.

I love it that the football team got involved.  Any bigger example of privilege and exclusivity on a university campus?   Please don't tell me their players are the victims of racism too!  Have mercy!

Has anyone asked what Joe and Jane College at Mizzou think about all of this?  They just saw the leadership knuckle under and get "resigned" by agitators who have no clear issue.  What will happen next? See the National Review editorial here: university-missouri-racism-crisis

Big deal, you say?  Maybe you're right. But I think it doesn't bode well for freedom in this country when 1) simple facts can't get verified and 2) when people who shout lies loud enough get their way.

Universities:  High more crisis management coordinators.  You will need them.

Coda:  You have to read this about the communications professor at Mizzou saying she "needs some muscle"over here" to evict a journalist.   Priceless, and in the NY Times, no less. : Communications Professor Evicts Journalist

Friday, October 9, 2015

America's Neverending Gun Debate

Another school massacre, this time at a community college in Oregon.  Completely irrational and unpredictable, committed by a young man with a history of mental illness.  His mother owned a lot of guns.  Both of them bought them legally and passed background checks.

The president of the community college probably will take a lot of grief for not having armed guards on his campus.  He shouldn't.   Oregon has a homicide rate of 2.0 murders per 100,000.  It is like a European country.   An attack like this is very rare and can't be planned for.

We are having another useless debate on gun control.  But short of taking lots of guns out of circulation and making it really hard to buy them,  I don't know what impact policy would have.   Krauthammer probably has it right here:  Another massacre, another charade

I favor background checks and making it harder to buy guns.   Maybe this prevent some random nuts from getting them.  But it probably won't have stopped the latest massacre, or Sandy Hook.   Maybe we should be making more aggressive interventions against mentally ill people. (But not many of them are violent.)

I back the second amendment, although I think people who amass a lot of guns are a little weird.  Maybe it represents another  manifestation of what I call "the security paradox:"  we are actually much safer, but we feel less safe. 

Violent crime is going down, without us doing much of anything.   See the latest FBI Uniform Crime Report. Crime in the U.S. America is getting safer.  This is no consolation to the victims and their families in Oregon, I know.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Eternal Vietnam War

Last week I attended a Vietnam panel hosted by Rice University's Baker Institute.  It featured the reminiscences of four acclaimed novelists and memoirists--Philip Caputo, Tim O'Brien, Larry Heinemann, and Tobias Wolf--whose war experiences kicked off their writing careers.   They read from their works and took questions from the audience.   I enjoyed the presentations.

But the question that kept eating at me is: how different would these presentations have been had we won?   Would the four have focused so much on the corruption, the lost of innocence, the brutality, and the sheer "sinfulness," as O'Brien put it, of the experience?  

Take a book like E. B. Sledge's "With the Old Breed," about his Marine experience in two island campaigns in WWII.  It is a straightforward, honest book.  Sledge looks at everything with a colder eye.  But I would say there is no cynicism or irony here--There was a job to be done, and this is the nasty things we had to go through to do it.   I think "This Kind of War" by T.R. Fehrenbach, about Korea, is the same way.  Even the books on the Iraq war seem less inward-looking and self-absorbed.

Perhaps it is a generational thing on how we look at war.  There was something touching about the way O'Brien after all these years is still obsessed with the Viet Cong fighter he killed.  But his experience was not unique to Vietnam.  Likewise Heinemann, who was a draftee and didn't want to be there.  There were lots of guys like that in World War II, but no one really cared so much about what they thought. 

Maybe if the novelists had felt the cause was better they would have written different books.

The event was moderated by an Annapolis graduate and attended by other veterans and many ROTC cadets and midshipmen.  Guys and gals, don't be warmongers; but don't be pacifists, either.

Friday, September 11, 2015

We Need to Get Over 9/11

September 11, 2001 might be the most famous date in US history.  Can you think of another event that just goes by three numerals and a slash?   July 4 is important too, but technically we weren't a country yet. 

Does 9/11 deserve to be this famous?  I think not. Maybe it would be better if we started moving on...

I don't mean forget.  I mean get over the grief and the fear, and the belief that Islamist terrorism represents some kind of existential threat to the US, and that is it getting worse, and if we let down our guard for a minute, the raghead bastards will be at our throats. 

But continuing to harp on 9/11, we give these guys way more credit than they deserve.  And ever deserved. 

They pulled off the worse single terrorist assault in history.  But gained nothing in the process.  The perpetrators are dead, the evil guru dead, and tactical mastermind is in jail forever.  Al Qaeda is in ruins and has no chance of ever making a comeback.

Is Islamist terrorism worse, as Rudy Giuliani argued in today's WSJ?   Not even close. 

Their airplane caper cannot be repeated.   Terrorists in the US are reduced to "lone wolf" attacks and most of these get caught before they get started.  Islamists commit many atrocities abroad, mostly against fellow Muslims.

The incident rate of terrorism against US citizens is extremely low.   Last year there were 18 fatalities attributed to terrorism in the US.   Five occurred in one attack, by a white couple in Las Vegas shouting "revolution."  They killed two cops in cold blood, and other bystanders.  In NYC, a psychotic killed two cops in a patrol car.

 A few of these incidents were by individuals who identified as Muslim.  One of these criminals was responsible for three attacks across the country.  In two instances, white supremacists were to blame.

Eighteen deaths at the hands of terrorists is bad.  But to give you some perspective, every year 500-600 Americans die from self-inflicted accidental gun shots. 

All terrorist attacks are unacceptable.  We should stay vigilant and continue to adequately resource the police, intelligence, and military units going after terrorists.  But constantly exaggerating the threat plays into the terrorists' hands by perpetuating a climate of fear. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Iran's Dirty War Against US Troops

The Iranian Quds Force supplied explosively-formed penetrators (EFPs) as part of roadside bombs to kill American troops in Iraq.   We sustained more than 1,000 casualties from these weapons.  How Many Troops Did Iran Kill?

EFPs are essentially a copper cone that is fitted to the bomb.   The bomb's detonation turns the cone into a molten jet of metal, which can penetrate armored vehicles.

There has been some debate over the number of troops killed or wounded by this device.  But these were only used in areas in which Iranian-backed Shia militias had control.   Most of our heavy fighting was against Sunni insurgents, and they produced the most casualties, probably at least 10 times have the Shia militias produced.

But still.  The Iranians were waging a dirty war against us in Iraq.  No mistaking that. 

(And yet,  I still agree with the nuclear negotiations.   This is realism, folks.)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Conservatives Making Fools of Themselves Over the Iran Agreement

Enough already!  Here's a piece from the Federalist saying the whole Iran deal will come a cropper because Iran will escort inspectors at Parchin, its military base.   The flaw in the Iran Deal even a child could see.  Nothing from the author's background suggests any expertise on these issues.  But that doesn't stop conservative pundits from making fools of themselves.

Lots of problems with the piece.  I might start by saying as a military base, Parchin has always been outside the normal areas for IAEA inspection.  Iran was in its legal right to deny inspectors there, and everyone knew it.  But no one thought it was doing anything on the nuclear program there for a long time.  So why spend any time focusing on it?

Actually, Parchin is not key to this problem.  The key is the amount of fissile material Iran is allowed to have. Iran already was past threshold for nuclear weapons.   The deal is to roll this back.  Might work; might not. But doing nothing meant Iran was already there!

Also, conservative pundits:  stop reminding us how nasty Iran is.  We got it!  We negotiated with the Russians for years over this nuclear stuff--and maintain diplomatic relations with them--even though we knew they were supporting insurgencies and, yes, terrorism.   This is different, okay?!?

Dare I say that Trump has been the only Republican candidate who has made sense on this issue?  He said he would ensure Iran lives up to the deal.  Right!  (Even Trump gets it.  Have conservatives gone nuts?)

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Iran Deal Will Work

I've reprinted below the best explanation I could find defending the new Iran deal.  Energy Secretary Moniz is a nuclear scientist and helped negotiate the agreement.   I think we got more from the Iranians than I would have expected going in.  If they break this deal, they can expect very tough sanctions and a loss of global support.  They'll be the bad guys, not us.         

Ernest Moniz: Why the Iran deal will work

The Tribune Editorial Board has expressed skepticism about the Iran nuclear deal. An editorial Sunday claimed that the deal allows Iran to keep secret some of its earlier nuclear weapons program and hinders full access to nuclear sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Unfortunately, the Tribune editorial cites problems that don't exist and demands new conditions that aren't necessary. Let me explain.
This deal between the United States and other great powers and Iran commits Iran not to develop or acquire a nuclear weapon. President Barack Obama and, I expect, future presidents will hold Iran to this commitment. Congress shares this resolve.
It expands the current two- to three-month breakout period to at least a year — enough time for a strong allied preventive response — and will not provide sanctions relief until Iran complies with the nuclear restrictions in the JCPOA.
Quite the opposite of enabling Iran to move to a bomb, it pulls Iran away from the threshold of being able to do so.
The unity of purpose by the signatories — China, Russia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the European Union and the United States — should not be underestimated.
It is rooted in a self-interest in preserving a strong nonproliferation regime based on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It was this unity of the international community that imposed severe economic sanctions on Iran for the purpose of forcing negotiations that would eliminate the Iranian nuclear weapon threat.
This gives us confidence that the international community would again be united in a swift and strong response to Iranian cheating toward a nuclear weapon.
The flip side is that a unilateral undercutting of the JCPOA by the United States would instantaneously squander our position of advantage gained through years of diplomacy.
The JCPOA blocks Iran's pathways to the nuclear material needed for a nuclear weapon. It drastically reduces Iran's enriched uranium stockpile, currently enough for at least 10 weapons, by 98 percent and eliminates all stockpiled 20 percent-enriched uranium not required for its current research reactor.
It cuts back installed centrifuges by well over two-thirds, allows enrichment only with Iran's least capable centrifuge for 10 years and nearly eliminates the extensive ongoing research and development program on the next-generation centrifuge for that period.
Iran will convert the Arak reactor, capable of producing enough weapons-grade plutonium for one to two weapons per year, to produce an order of magnitude less plutonium. For added protection, Iran will send out of the country all spent fuel that could be used for plutonium production.
It also establishes unprecedented verification measures.
At all of Iran's nuclear facilities, IAEA inspectors will have regular access with short notice. At undeclared locations, inspectors will have access in as few as 24 hours.
If Iran tries to stall, this agreement provides a first: a process to provide access within a fixed time, 24 days — well within our window of high confidence to detect the traces of nuclear materials used. This includes military sites suspected of nuclear related activity.
The IAEA will be able to use advanced monitoring technologies, many developed at U.S. labs. The Los Alamos lab also provides training courses for every IAEA inspector. As the director of national intelligence has said, while no agreement could give us 100 percent certainty, the JCPOA gives us better visibility into Iran's program, providing a strong deterrent to cheating.
The Tribune editorial's characterization of secret side deals is a myth. The JCPOA requires Iran to finally cooperate with the IAEA to allow it to complete its work on the possible military dimensions of Iran's previous nuclear activity and to carry out its responsibilities by Oct. 15.
As with any country, the IAEA then works out a confidential protocol to carry out the needed inspections. The IAEA can then complete its report, which has been many years in the making, by mid-December for submission to its board of governors, including the United States.
The entire global nonproliferation regime rests on countries' willingness to share their sensitive nuclear information with the IAEA and in turn the assurance that the organization will safeguard that information.
In order for the IAEA to accomplish its critical nuclear security and nonproliferation work in the 188 countries that are parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the IAEA must uphold its reputation as an impartial and independent organization.
Make no mistake, Iran was a nuclear threshold state before the negotiations, and this deal moves it back from that threshold.
The United States remains the world's economic, military and diplomatic leader, and Israel and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries remain our friends and allies in the region. This deal draws on that collective strength to ensure that Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon.
U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz was a negotiator on the nuclear agreement with Iran.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Dump Trump

Donald Trump, the real estate developer and media personality, is running for president as a Republican. This looks like a Democratic Party "black bag operation" to me.   Trump literally holds NO views which could be described as conservative.  Some believe Bill Clinton put him up to running; it wouldn't surprise me.

Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberly Strassel took Trump down Friday, accusing him accurately of being a overt liberal and a crony capitalist.  Yeah, pretty much.

Some columnists like Pat Buchanan have identified Trump with the populist tradition in American politics. He is, but only in the sense that he's running outside the established party system.  Otherwise, he is a system player to a tee.  

Trump made waves with his incendiary comments about illegal immigration and claims that we wouldn't even be talking about this issue if it weren't for him.   He must have missed the Republican primaries in 2011-12; the issue was old hat even then.  (As Mighty Whig has noted in prior posts, illegal immigration is well below its historic highs of 15-20 years ago.)

Trump might hang around for awhile.  He's a billionaire and totally impervious to criticism or self-reflection.  Not even a sex scandal would make a dent on him.

In short, this guy has nothing to offer the American people except for cheap entertainment and voyeurism. This guy's the political equivalent of Caitlyn Jenner.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Hiroshima and the American "Democratic Jihad"

The seventieth anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima is today.  Hard to overstate the importance of the event, but it won't be commemorated here in the US.   We moved the "Enola Gay" out of the Air and Space Museum on the Washington, DC Mall years ago.

In Japan, they are holding some "die-ins."  I read these are organized by those who support Japan's pacifist constitution.  Perhaps for them this ceremony is not merely to express their victimhood, but to remember the actions that got them there.

Hiroshima was destroyed by the Bomb.  But that's just a small part of the whole price the war cost Japan.  Try finding a pre-1945 building in Tokyo. 

Which brings us to the concept of American "democratic jihad,"  a phrase used extensively by T.R. Fehrenbach.   In America, we wage two types of war:  "democratic jihad" and "national policy."   On the one hand, democratic jihad is a war the whole country is behind--morally--and we are in it to win it.   World War II and the American Civil War from the North's perspective are the best examples. 

On the other hand,  wars of "national policy" are those in which we are trying to shape an outcome.  Sure, we'd like to win, but it's not the be all and end all.  Korea, as Fehrenbach wrote in "This Kind of War" was the transition between democratic jihad and war of national policy. 

Pretty much all are wars since 1945 have been for national policy, and our track record has been so-so, to say the least.  

Back to Hiroshima.  It is okay if you think it was wrong to drop the Bomb.  In his WWII memoir about fighting in Burma, "Quartered Safe Out Here,"  George Macdonald Fraser (the "Flashman" author) discusses in later life being on panels with professors who decried the use of the Bomb.   Fraser says he probably would agree with them, but  notes that, while on patrol, late in the summer of 1945, a naked Japanese soldier charged his squad with nothing but a sharpened stick.  "He was not ready to surrender that day," Fraser says.  

On August 6th 1945, the Japanese were not ready to surrender.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Pat Buchanan Talks Turkey

The Turks have been playing a double game with us.   They permitted ISIS to attack the Assad regime and they are now attacking the Kurdish PKK, which has been the most successful fighting element against ISIS. 

This good column by Pat Buchanan lays it all out.   We shouldn't let our allies--the Turks--tell us who are enemies are.   Focus on ISIS, forget about the PKK.

Now the Turks Are All In

By Patrick J. Buchanan
All through the Cold War, the Turks were among America’s most reliable allies.
After World War II, when Stalin encroached upon Turkey and Greece, Harry Truman came to the rescue. Turkey reciprocated by sending thousands of troops to fight alongside our GIs in Korea.
Turkey joined NATO and let the U.S. station Jupiter missiles in their country. When JFK secretly traded away the Jupiters for removal of the Soviet missiles in Cuba, the Turks went along.
Early this century, under Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey seemed to be emerging as a major power, a land bridge between Europe and the Islamic world, a friend to its neighbors, and future member of the EU.
But, recently, a U.S. diplomat blurted, “The Turks are out of their lane!”
And that describes the situation succinctly and well.
When rebels rose up to overthrow Bashar Assad in Syria, and Assad elected to fight not quit, Erdogan turned on him and began to permit jihadists to enter Syria.
When ISIS terrorists seized Raqqa in Syria, and Mosul and Anbar in Iraq, Erdogan refused to let U.S. planes based at Incirlik bomb them.
When America supported Syrian Kurds with air power, enabling them to hold off an ISIS attack on Kobani on the Syria-Turkish border, Erdogan denounced the Kurds as the greater threat.
But 10 days ago came an ISIS atrocity in Suruc, Turkey, just north of Kobani. Thirty-two young Turkish Kurds who were planning to help rebuild Kobani were massacred, and a hundred wounded.
Instantly, Erdogan permitted U.S. planes at Incirlik to attack ISIS targets in Syria and launched air strikes himself. It appeared that, at long last, the U.S. and Turkey were again on the same page, seeing ISIS as the primary enemy, and acting jointly against it.
But the Turkish attacks on ISIS proved to be pinpricks. And the Turks began a major air assault on Kurdish forces in exile in Iraq, the PKK, who had fled Turkey after the recent civil war.
Where does this leave Turkey today?
Erdogan demands that Assad be overthrown. He has declared war on ISIS. He has broken off peace talks with the PKK in Turkey. He is attacking the exiled Kurds in the mountains of Iraq, enraging Baghdad, and his own Kurdish minority of 14 million.
He has been vilifying his former Israeli friends since the Mavi Marmara incident, where eight Turkish aid workers on a relief ship headed for Gaza were killed by Israeli commandos in 2010.
The Washington Times reports that Egypt is charging Turkey with sending agents to work with Islamic State on the Sinai Peninsula, which has been killing Egyptian soldiers and firing rockets into Israel.
There has been bad blood between Cairo and Ankara since Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, was overthrown by the army of Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in 2013. Gen. el-Sissi is now President el-Sissi and President Morsi is now on death row.
What is Erdogan up to? With his attacks on the Kurds and ISIS both, he is inviting blowback in the form of terrorist reprisals from ISIS and the PKK inside his own country, as happened at Suruc.
The speculation is that Erdogan is going to war for political reasons. When a Kurdish Party captured 13 percent of the vote in the June 7 elections, it broke Erdogan’s parliamentary majority, blocking his path to the presidential republic of his dreams and designs.
Critics believe he is provoking conflict with the Kurds before new elections, so he can cast himself as a fearless warrior against Arab terrorists and Kurdish traitors, discredit the small Kurdish party, and capture a sufficient majority to create his all-powerful presidency.
Turkey’s actions demonstrate, as do those of other allies in the region, that their enemies are not always our enemies, and that, as they single-mindedly pursue their national goals, so should we.
The Iraqi Kurds have been friends of the United States since Desert Storm. The Syrian Kurds, the YPG, have provided fighting troops whom we have supported with air power against ISIS. Both are de facto allies, no matter what the Turks say.
As for the PKK, we may have designated them a terrorist organization at the urging of the Turks, but if they are not attacking us, we ought not to be attacking them.
We must stop allowing our friends to choose our enemies in the Middle East. We are fully capable of doing that ourselves, without their assistance.
All our allies in that most war-torn of regions would like us to come fight their battles for them. We should let them fight their wars themselves, for the prospect of peace any time soon in that blood-soaked region is more than remote.
Our enemies are al-Qaida, which slaughtered 3,000 of our people, and its progeny. Our enemies are ISIS, which has beheaded Americans, and threatens us, our allies and friends.
Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Pollard Gets His Freedom; a Nation Yawns

Jonathan Jay Pollard, the notorious convicted spy, will be freed in November after nearly 30 years in the big house.  (Always with the three names, just like John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald.    But you can call him Jay, or you can call him Johnny, or you can call him JJ...)  Instead of this being a political decision, the U.S. Parole Board made the call that he should be released. 

I'm satisfied he's being released.   Thirty years seems like enough.  He was initially given a life sentence.  Thirty years is a long time.  Ain't that right, Edward Snowden?   (No middle name?) 

Pollard offered to spy for Israel when he was working for the Office of Naval Intelligence.  He had previously attempted to establish a relationship with the South African service, a little tidbit which has always made his claims of Israeli patriotism a bit suspect.

Pollard should never have been in the intel community in the first place.   He was a drug user in the 1970s and couldn't get into the CIA because of it.  His superiors at ONI wanted to fire him before the mess got started.   All the warning signs were there.

High officials in the American intelligence community (IC) of always resisted--sometimes violently--the idea that Pollard should be released because he spied for an ally.  I believe George Tenet threatened to resign as DCI when Clinton contemplated it. 

But now the IC seems rather quiet.  Maybe because recent spy controversies have gotten more serious over the years?

Here's a column by Noah Feldman summing up the conflict a lot of American Jews have had with the Pollard case:

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

No, Iran is not Nazi Germany...

...and the nuclear inspection agreement is not "Munich."  Please give us a break,  Dennis Prager.  See his piece here:  Iran Deal a 1938 Repeat 

Prager's piece is ridiculous on many levels, but it is worth pointing to as an example of the reductio ad Hitlerum argument that many "opinion leaders" often use. 

I would hope even my ten year old would spot the differences:  Britain was forced by Germany to the table; the US forced Iran to the table.   Chamberlain negotiated from a position of weakness;  Hitler from strength.   Obama is negotiating from strength, the Iranian regime from weakness.

As for the possible consequences?  We know what happened when Germany reneged.  Britain did nothing.  If Iran reneges, we have a host of escalation options, and we can use them too.

Does Iran want to dominate the Middle East like Hitler wanted to dominate (really, conquer) Europe?  Maybe.  But it better get cracking, because after 36 years of revolution, it hasn't made much progress.  Sure it influences Baghdad (thanks to us) and Syria (thanks to Israel and us), but otherwise, its foreign policy is small beer.  It looks pretty clear that Iran tries to support Shia or Shia-like minorities wherever it can.   In some places, like Bahrain and Yemen, they might not even be the bad guys.

Does Iran have American blood on its hands?  You bet.  Tehran has supported Shia militias that killed some of our troops in Iraq, to say nothing of terrorism over the years.  I agree, they are dirty bastards and I have nothing good to say about that regime.

But to credit the Iranians with obvious Al Qaeda attacks?  Get real,  Prager.  The evidence just isn't there.   We already know the Iranians do some nasty things; we don't have to make up stuff.

But negotiating with a regime you don't like doesn't mean embracing it.  This is elemental to diplomacy.

How many Americans did the PLA kill in Korea?   Yet we negotiated with Beijing 20 years later.   It was in our interest,  just as this is.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Iran Deal and the Obama Legacy

Love it or hate it, the deal with Iran to end international sanctions in exchange for more oversight of its nuclear program is happening.  This is truly a legacy issue for the Obama administration.

Mighty Whig has nothing good to say about Obama's domestic agenda and its dubious accomplishments.  But on foreign policy, dare we say that this administration has actually, uh, led?  We could have sanctioned Iran forever with no change in the status quo.  Instead Obama and Kerry took a bold gamble.

All great foreign policy ventures entail risk.

When I read over the details, the risk was worth taking.  Full compliance will take years, and international oversight has increased.  If Iran cheats, it loses.  Both sides stand to gain something important--better security, more respect.

This deal could close a chapter in our four-decade-long mutual hate society with Iran.   It goes back to the 1979-1980 hostage crisis, which Carter and his foreign policy team turned into a 444-day national drama.  The next steps should be reestablishing full diplomatic relations.

Obama's foreign policy is shaping up rather well as his presidency comes to an end.  No more US open-ended commitments in peripheral wars like Afghanistan and Iraq, a flexible, pragmatic Middle East policy, reinforcing our Asian allies, and opening up to Cuba. 

Here's Stratfor's take on the agreement.  It's sensible:

First, let's get the timeline straight. There is a very strategic line in the introduction of the deal that states that the agreement "will produce the comprehensive lifting of all UNSC (U.N. Security Council) sanctions as well as multilateral and national sanctions related to Iran's nuclear program."
The U.S. Congress will have 60 days to review the deal. If the legislature rejects it, the president will veto the congressional decision, and there probably will not be enough votes in Congress to override the veto. Meanwhile, in the coming days, the United Nations will pass a resolution endorsing the agreement. Ninety days from that point, the agreement can be formally adopted. Before the deal is formally implemented, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will submit a report due by Dec. 15 that verifies Iran has come clean on outstanding issues related to its nuclear program. The IAEA will also have to verify that Iran has implemented the nuclear-related measures of the agreement.
From that point, Iran will enter the eight-year implementation period during which the IAEA will closely monitor its limited nuclear activity for civilian purposes and any suspected nuclear sites. When the deal is officially implemented, the United Nations will pass a resolution terminating nuclear-related sanctions on Iran (including an arms embargo), and the European Union will terminate its nuclear-related sanctions on Iran.  
Unable to get Congress to budge on lifting sanctions anytime soon, the U.S. president will terminate executive orders related to Iran's nuclear program and will stop enforcing sanctions codified in U.S. law. Only when the IAEA concludes that Iran's nuclear program remains peaceful — which could come after eight years of testing Iran's compliance — will the U.S. administration seek legislation to formally terminate sanctions. Even then, it will be up to Congress to comply.
What this means is implementation of the deal could be delayed until early 2016, and only then will the world see a tangible impact from the roughly 40 million to 50 million barrels of oil Iran has in storage and the roughly 300,000 barrels per day in additional exports Iran could add to current stockpiles within a few months of implementation....
For the United States, the Iranian nuclear deal is a step toward a much more agile foreign policy for the Middle East — one in which it leans on native powers to manage regional burdens rather than being at the center of every conflict that arises.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Get "Shorty," Part Deux: The Escape of Chapo Guzman

Police on Sunday searched a house where Mr. Guzmán allegedly emerged from the end of a tunnel.Que verguenza!   Joaquin El Chapo Guzman (chapo means shorty), the most notorious and successful drug trafficker in Mexican history, escapes from prison, again.  The Mighty Whig posted on his capture early last year.   At the time, it was a big success story.   But it did seem a bit unusual that the Mexican authorities (with significant US government help) were able to capture Chapo without him putting up a fight.  Did he know something we didn't? 

Chapo escaped from prison back in 2001, to the immense embarrassment of the Fox administration.  (He left in a laundry cart, I kid you not.) At the time, it was seen as an example of opposition incompetence; the PAN had only been in power about a year.  Now the Pena Nieto administration (PRI) is the one with egg on its face. 

The sensational Shawshank-like jail break last month in New York state involved the corruption of one prison employee.  This Mexican jailbreak, however, is corruption on an institutional-scale.   See the article below, which Mighty Whig has posted in full.   As you will notice, the tunnel has its own rails and a modified motorcycle.  Priceless.

What will be the fallout?   Can't help bilateral relations.  But maybe the Mexicans will be more inclined to turn over criminals like Chapo to the US for prosecution.  It says something about our penal system that Mexican criminals do not want to get sent there.   That is why most of the drug violence occurs south of the border.

Mexican Drug Lord ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán Escapes From Prison

Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán had evaded authorities before

Mexican drug lord Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán was found missing from his prison cell Saturday night. This is the second time in 15 years he has escaped. Photo: AP




Updated July 12, 2015 6:45 p.m. ET

MEXICO CITY—For the second time in nearly 15 years, Mexico’s most infamous drug lord escaped from a maximum-security prison, dealing a humiliating blow to President Enrique Peña Nieto and raising new concerns about corruption in Mexican law enforcement.

Army soldiers and federal police on Sunday set up roadblocks for hundreds of miles surrounding the prison near the central city of Toluca following the escape of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzman, the alleged leader of the Sinaloa cartel.

Mr. Guzmán, 58 years old, fled the Altiplano prison on Saturday night through a tunnel network that connected his cell to a house under construction almost a mile away, officials said. He slipped through a small opening in his cell’s shower area, climbed down a 30-foot ladder and traveled through a five-foot-tall tunnel equipped with lighting and ventilation, they said.

The escape was certain to add to the legend of Mr. Guzmán, who in 2001 hid in a laundry cart and was wheeled out of another maximum-security prison with the help of corrupt prison guards who were later convicted.

The drug lord went on to become a narco folk hero and the country’s most powerful kingpin, running a business empire that accounts for an estimated one quarter of the illegal narcotics shipped to the U.S., according to American and Mexican government estimates. He also earned a place on Forbes magazine’s billionaires list.

After Osama bin Laden’s death in 2011, Mr. Guzmán was widely seen as the world’s most-wanted man, and had a joint U.S.-Mexican bounty of $7 million on his head when Mr. Peña Nieto’s government recaptured him in 2014.

The escape hurts the reputation of Mr. Peña Nieto, who brought Mexico’s former ruling party back to power in 2012 with a promise to run a more efficient government and to better fight criminal gangs. It is also likely to create tensions with the U.S., which helped capture Mr. Guzman twice only to see him escape—twice.


2009 WSJ story profiled Joaquín Guzmán, who was the informal CEO of one of the world’s biggest drug-trafficking organizations, the so-called Sinaloa cartel.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the American government shared Mexico’s concern for Mr. Guzmán’s escape and was ready to “provide any assistance that may help support his swift recapture.”

After his capture 17 months ago, Mexican officials declined to extradite him to the U.S., saying there was no way he would escape again. In an interview with Univision TV last year, Mr. Peña Nieto said another escape “would be more than regrettable; it would be unforgivable for the government to not take the precautions to ensure that what happened last time would not be repeated.”

Those words were being widely cited by Mexicans on Sunday.

The government’s disclosure of the escape emerged as Mr. Peña Nieto arrived in Paris on Sunday for a state visit, accompanied by more than 400 officials and business leaders. In a brief statement, the president said the escape was “an affront” to Mexico and that officials would spare no resource trying to recapture the drug lord.

Many Mexicans also wondered aloud about how many officials Mr. Guzman must have bought off to ensure an escape.

“This obviously required a great deal of logistics from both inside and outside the prison,” said Raúl Benítez Manaut, a Mexican national-security expert. “Plans probably were being made from the moment he entered the prison.”

Mexico's Attorney General, Arely Gomez crouches to look at the alleged end of the tunnel through which Mexican drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman could have escaped from the Altiplano prison, at a house in Almoloya de Juarez, Mexico.ENLARGE

Mexico's Attorney General, Arely Gomez crouches to look at the alleged end of the tunnel through which Mexican drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman could have escaped from the Altiplano prison, at a house in Almoloya de Juarez, Mexico. PHOTO: --/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Mr. Guzmán, whose nickname “El Chapo” means “Shorty,” must have had help escaping, including getting hold of the plans to the penitentiary, said Alejandro Schtulmann, an analyst at Empra, a Mexican political consultancy. “This is a complete embarrassment for Mr. Peña Nieto and leaves Mexico looking bad before the U.S. and the world,” he said.

Authorities brought 18 prison staff members to Mexico City for questioning, said Monte Alejandro Rubido, Mexico’s national security commissioner.

If the drug lord is not caught within a few days, he will likely evade capture for a very long time, said Mike Vigil, a retired chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s international operations, who spent much of his career pursuing Mr. Guzman and other Mexican traffickers.

Mr. Vigil said former colleagues in the DEA and other U.S. agencies “are very disillusioned” over Mexico’s refusal to extradite Mr. Guzman to the U.S. to try him there, which “would have removed him from his criminal infrastructure.”

A Federal Police officer stands guard Sunday outside the house at the alleged end of the tunnel through which Mexican drug lord Joaquin ’El Chapo’ Guzman is said to have escaped from the Altiplano prison.ENLARGE

A Federal Police officer stands guard Sunday outside the house at the alleged end of the tunnel through which Mexican drug lord Joaquin ’El Chapo’ Guzman is said to have escaped from the Altiplano prison. PHOTO: YURI CORTEZ/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Under Mr. Peña Nieto, Mexico has all but eliminated the extradition of crime bosses that was an anchor of his predecessor, President Felipe Calderón. Mr. Guzmán’s second great escape now throws those policies into disarray, analysts say.

“The government has to change its attitude,” Mr. Benítez said. “They have to give up this idea of judicial patriotism.”

U.S. law enforcement agencies were also dismayed when a Mexican judge in 2013 released another convicted drug lord, Rafael Caro Quintero, seemingly taking Mexican officials by surprise. Mr. Caro Quintero, who grew up not far from Mr. Guzman in Sinaloa, is wanted in the U.S. in connection for the 1985 torture-murder of U.S. DEA agent Enrique Camarena.

Days after his release, the Mexican government issued a new arrest warrant for Mr. Caro Quintero, but he remains a fugitive.

Mr. Guzmán’s escape will likely strengthen the Sinaloa Cartel. Their former main rivals, the violent Zeta gang, has been crushed by the capture or killing of most of its top leaders, spawning new gangs racing to secure areas along Mexico’s Gulf coast.

Meanwhile, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel is challenging the Sinaloa group in its own backyard, along the Pacific coast, experts say.

“Chapo isn’t expected to retire, he will fight to reposition his Sinaloa cartel as Mexico´s leading drug-trafficking organization,” said Guillermo Valdés, Mexico’s former intelligence director.

Mr. Guzmán was last seen on Saturday at about 8 p.m. local time when he was given regular medications. He then apparently went for a shower, where there are no security cameras, Mr. Rubido said. When he didn’t reappear, officials raised the alarm, only to find a 20-inch-wide tunnel from the shower area leading underground.

A bumpy lane through the corn fields and pastures leads to the nondescript cinder-block house where authorities say Mr. Guzman emerged from his escape tunnel. Soldiers and police stood guard at the house throughout Sunday as investigators gathered evidence inside. But officials said a sweep of the adjoining fields turned up nothing of the escaped crime boss

Neighbors said a cattle farmer and his family lived in the house and drew little notice until unusual activity began there in recent months.

“We have seen in the last months a lot of pick-ups and luxury vehicles coming to that house,” said Maria Ortiz, a woman who lives nearby. “But we never suspected anything.”

It seemed fitting that Mr. Guzmán used a tunnel to escape. He is widely credited with pioneering the use of tunnels to smuggle drugs across the Mexican-U.S. border. Many of these tunnels, like the one used in his escape, had electricity and even rail tracks to ferry drugs. Mexicans joked on Twitter that the tunnels are likely the best infrastructure built in recent years under the Mexican government.

“His engineers are geniuses,” Mr. Benítez said.


Police on Sunday searched a house where Mr. Guzmán allegedly emerged from the end of a tunnel. PHOTO:AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Mr. Guzmán grew up poor in the rugged mountains of Sinaloa state, an area known for its opium-poppy and marijuana plantations and the cradle of many of Mexico’s most-notorious drug lords. Mr. Guzmán’s wiles and willingness to employ violence had made him a top lieutenant in the Sinlaoa cartel by the time he was first arrested in 1993, captured in Guatemala and later sentenced to 20 years for conspiracy, bribery and drug trafficking.

Over the next eight years, Mr. Guzman continued to help run the cartel from behind bars, according to former Mexican government officials who investigated his 2001 escape. His cell had a television, and he sometimes chose his meals from a menu rather than be served with the rest of the inmates, these people said.

Over the next 13 years at large, Mr. Guzmán enjoyed a well-deserved reputation as an escape artist, often aided by warnings provided by informants within Mexico’s security forces.

He narrowly evaded capture in the resort Los Cabos in early 2012, fleeing a luxury house moments before it was stormed by federal police and troops. In the weeks leading up to his capture in Mazatlan, he had escaped raids on various safehouses in Culiacán, the Sinaloa capital, scurrying down tunnels and through the city’s sewer system, Mexican officials said.

At the same time, he repeatedly attacking other cartels’ turf and igniting tit-for-tat homicides that turned parts of the country into a war zone. More than 100,000 Mexicans have died in gangland violence since 2006.

People who have met Mr. Guzmán, who has a third-grade education, say he comes across as down-to-earth and intelligent. He described himself as a simple farmer when arrested by Mexican police early in his career, but admitted he had a penchant for Russian-made AK-47s.

—Juan Montes in Almoloya de Juárez, Mexico, Santiago Pérez in Mexico City and Elizabeth Williamson in Washington contributed to this article.