Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

How Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, saved Britain

Here’s an article from the UK Daily Mail with some more details about her.

Margaret Thatcher stood almost alone in driving through the tough policies now credited with saving the economy, secret papers reveal.

The Tory Premier had to take on her predecessor Harold Macmillan, Bank of England governor Gordon Richardson and even her own Chancellor Geoffrey Howe to push through the policies which pulled Britain back from the brink of economic chaos.

Documents released by the National Archives under the 30-year rule show the pressure Mrs Thatcher faced from the Establishment behind the scenes – and the extent to which she was isolated.

In 1980, the year after becoming Britain’s first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher embarked on a controversial programme to revive the moribund economy through deep public spending cuts and strict control of the money supply, intended to stamp out inflation.

He warned that while her programme of cuts might give a ‘sense of exhilaration’ to her supporters, the country was heading for industrial collapse and ‘dangerous’ levels of unemployment.

Macmillan, then 86, sent the letter following a meeting with the Prime Minister at Chequers in August 1980.

He criticised her for abandoning ‘consensus politics’ to pursue radical reforms and ‘divisive politics’, which he said went against the ‘essence of Tory democracy’.

It was Macmillan who coined the phrase ‘you’ve never had it so good’ in 1957 during the long post-war economic boom.

His brand of consensus politics is now credited with contributing to the economic malaise that brought Britain to its knees in the late 1970s.

Years later, in her memoirs, Mrs Thatcher poured scorn on consensus politics, writing: ‘What great cause would have been fought and won under the banner “I stand for consensus”?.’

[...]In 1981, 365 economists wrote to The Times urging Mrs Thatcher to change course and limit the damage caused by the recession.

But she was unmoved, and her tough stance succeeded in reducing inflation from 27 per cent to four per cent in four years, putting Britain on the road to recovery.

Mrs Thatcher’s economic views were heavily influenced by the right-wing Cabinet minister Sir Keith Joseph, with whom she set up the free market think tank the Centre for Policy Studies in 1974.

Both drew on the work of the influential American economist Milton Friedman whose monetary theories challenged the post-war consensus on economic thinking.

I recommend reading the whole article for some more articles where Lady Thatcher had to stand against everyone and hold onto her convictions in the teeth of the majority.

Here’s an article from Forbes magazine that summarizes her effort to turn Britain around.

Excerpt:

It’s hard to appreciate today how desperate Britain’s condition was before Thatcher took office.  Its economy was a laughing stock, the perennial sick man of Europe.  Strikes were endemic and union bosses effectively governed the country.  Her Conservative Party had long ago made its peace with the welfare state and the ethos of high spending and high taxes. While the previous Tory Prime Minister, Edward Heath, wanted to revive Britain, he hadn’t a clue how to do it. In a make-or-break showdown with the coal miner’s union, Heath called a special election under the banner “Who Governs Britain?”  Heath lost and unions’ dominance in Britain seemed secure.

Great leaders have an astute sense of taking advantage of circumstances. Even though Heath had lost two elections, none of the senior party officials would challenge him.  At the time, Thatcher was not regarded as one of the party’s major figures.  But she was the only Tory who firmly believed in free markets and in Britain’s ability to become again a proud nation based on the principles of liberty. She was a devotee of Friedrich von Hayek and Milton Friedman and of the idea of paring back big government and giving free enterprise room to flourish. Astonishingly she beat Heath in a leadership fight in 1975 and led the Tories to victory in 1979.

Immediately she began slashing income tax rates and reining in galloping spending and fighting inflation.  She also exhibited that critical sense of timing. When she took office, she was faced with a potential strike of nurses whose union was demanding huge pay increases. Thatcher compromised in a way that some thought she didn’t have the backbone to turn Britain around.  Instead she was exhibiting a great politician’s sense of knowing when to pick a fight.  Thatcher eventually pushed through major labor union reforms and made it clear she would not tolerate any union riots or violence.  Shortly after Thatcher won reelection, the coal miners union, which had destroyed Heath, decided to take her on. But unlike Heath Thatcher was fully prepared.  The big showdown ensued and Thatcher beat the coal miner’s union resoundingly. It never recovered from that defeat.

Thatcher knew the deadweight on the economy of excessive taxation. She cut the top income tax rate from 98% to 40%. She cut the corporate income tax rate from 52% to 35%.

One of Thatcher’s greatest innovations was the systematic selling off of the government’s business assets, dubbed privatization.  After World War II Britain nationalized enormous swaths of the economy which actions subsequent Conservative governments left largely untouched.  Thatcher sold government companies off and her example has been followed by countless nations around the world.

In the area of privatizations, she did two remarkable things. She sold off much of Britain’s public housing.  An enormous number of Britons, far more than in the U.S., lived in these government-owned buildings. Thatcher pushed the sale of these apartments to occupants at low prices and on very advantageous terms. The purpose was to begin to shift the mentality of people and their dependence on government. Her other smart move was in the privatization of government-owned companies:  offering a significant number of shares to workers at very low prices.  Union leaders hated privatization but their opposition was undermined as their members realized that they could do very well buying cheap shares in these newly-privatized entities.  Here again she was changing peoples’ thinking:  pro-big government workers now saw themselves as share owners, taking on more of a capitalist mentality.

Before Thatcher, many social observers thought that Britain had an ingrained, unchangeable, anti-commercial culture that would forever stand in the way of the country becoming an economic success. Yet within a decade of her taking office, Britain had the most vibrant, large economy in Europe, one even more dynamic, innovative than that of Germany’s.  London became a magnet for entrepreneurs from France, Sweden and elsewhere.

One unchangeable characteristic of a great leader is courage and that means taking career-breaking risks.  Thatcher demonstrated her mettle in the Falkland Islands crisis.  When the Argentinean military dictatorship seized Britain’s Falkland Islands, most military experts felt the Sceptred Isle simply did not possess the military means to take them back. Defying almost the entire political establishment which was haunted by both Britain’s current weakness and the memory of the Suez Canal debacle in 1956, Thatcher declared that the seizure would not stand and that Britain would go to war to take the Islands back. Thankfully she received critical help from the U.S. thanks to in large part the unrelenting efforts of Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger (who years later became Publisher and Chairman of Forbes). To the surprise of experts, Britain’s military expedition succeeded. The Argentinean military dictatorship fell and democracy was restored in that country.  For Britain the Falklands war was a huge boost to a demoralized nation. To the world it meant that once again tyranny would be resisted.

I recommend reading that whole article. It’s hard not to smile at a woman who clearly loved her country and worked to save it from poverty.

Why good men love Maggie

And now I must offend everyone. See, I have a theory about women. I think that women generally tend to be more beholden to the opinions and fashions of the crowd than men are. It’s not absolute, but it’s maybe two-thirds to one-third, in my experience. I think that it is generally hard for them to hold to their convictions in the face of peer pressure. That’s why so few young, unmarried women are conservative after graduating from college. As soon as they reach college, they are swayed towards liberal views by their need to feel good about themselves and their need to be liked by others. Their views at home were not rooted in real knowledge, they were just fitting in with their families and churches and saying whatever words they were expected to say. And then they go off to college and learn other words to say from another community that uses praise and blame to replace their former convictions with new convictions.

But Maggie Thatcher wasn’t like that. And here’s why:

John Ranelagh writes of Margaret Thatcher’s remark at a Conservative Party  policy meeting in the late 1970′s, “Another colleague had also prepared a paper arguing that the middle way was the pragmatic path for the Conservative party to take .. Before he had finished speaking to his paper, the new Party Leader [Margaret Thatcher] reached into her briefcase and took out a book.  It was Friedrich von Hayek’s The Constitution of Liberty.  Interrupting [the speaker], she held the book up for all of us to see.  ‘This’, she said sternly, ‘is what we believe’, and banged Hayek down on the table.”  (John Ranelagh, Thatcher’s People:  An Insider’s Account of the Politics, the Power, and the Personalities.  London:  Harper Collins, 1991.)

Policies like unilateral disarmament, wealth redistribution and redefining marriage sound good to many women – especially in college, and especially when only one side is presented and the other side is demonized. The only way to resist ideas that feel good and ideas that get you peer-approval is to have formed your own views through independent study. Lady Thatcher’s economic policies were formed through a study of real economists like Nobel-prize-winning economist F.A. Hayek and Nobel-prize-winning economist Milton Friedman. The reason why she was able to hold to her principles is because she knew what she was talking about, and her opponents did not. She didn’t care about feeling good. She didn’t care about what other people thought of her. She knew was right, and that was enough to sustain her in trying times. She had the knowledge, and her opponents couldn’t change her core convictions by trying to shame her. It didn’t work.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Hamas-Israel conflict and “disproportionate use of force”

There is no moral equivalence between Hamas and Israel

There is no moral equivalence between Hamas and Israel

Dina tweeted this editorial in the radically leftist UK Guardian, of all places.

Excerpt:

Hamas’s charter includes the aspiration that “The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews)”. While many concentrate on its death-cult worship, its bloodthirsty killing of adversaries, or its contempt for women, Christians and homosexuals, it is this aspiration for genocide that is at the root of Hamas activities. This is the primary reason why Hamas, the governing regime in Gaza, will never recognise or accept a peace accord with Israel in any form.

Since Israel left Gaza in 2005, thousands of rockets have rained down on Israeli cities and towns in deliberate contravention not just of international law, but all humanity and morality.

[...]Every rocket from Gaza is a double war crime. First, the rockets are aimed at civilians; second, they are fired from built-up civilian areas, often close to schools, mosques and hospitals. And about 10% of Hamas rockets fired from Gaza don’t reach Israel, exploding in Gaza. Mohammed Sadallah – a four-year-old killed on Saturday, his body displayed in a press conference with Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’s leader – was, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, most likely killed by an errant Hamas rocket.

Hamas leaders frequently declare that their people actively seek death. Fathi Hamad, a senior member of Hamas, stated in 2008 that “for the Palestinian people, death became an industry, at which women and children excel. Accordingly we created a human shield of women, children and elderly. We seek death as you [Israelis] desire life.”

[...]Israel has successfully targeted in excess of 1,300 weapons caches, rocket launchers and other elements of Hamas’s terrorist infrastructure. Yet despite this, the number of Palestinian casualties remains around one for every 13 strikes, the majority killed being active members of Hamas and combatants.

There is no moral equivalence here – one side is good and the other side is evil. It’s a black and white issue.

When I was in graduate school, I was partnered up with an exchange student from Egypt. She said that Israelis were terrorists because they killed civilians while using force. I told her that terrorism is the intentional targeting of civilians for attacks rather than military targets. Therefore, Hamas and Hezbollah are terrorists, and Israel is not. Israel uses arms in self-defense, and they try to minimize civilian casualties by giving warnings of strikes. Islamic groups intentionally target civilians – schools and hospitals. The Islamic groups are terrorists and the IDF is acting in self-defense against unprovoked rocket attacks.

If Islamic terrorists laid down their arms, then tomorrow there would be peace. But if Israeli Defense Forces laid down their arms, then tomorrow, Israel would be destroyed, and every Jew in it. That is why the IDF has to do what the IDF has to do. And this time, I hope that they don’t use half-measures to stop the flow of rockets into Israel. They must use the appropriate force necessary to stop the rocket attacks.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Israel calls up 6 army battalions to deal with threats from Egypt and Syria

Map of the Middle East

Map of the Middle East

From the Times of Israel.

Excerpt:

The IDF has issued emergency call up orders to six reserve battalions in light of new dangers on the Egyptian and Syrian borders. And the Knesset has given the IDF permission to summon a further 16 reserve battalions if necessary, Israeli media reported on Wednesday.

An IDF spokesperson said intelligence assessments called for the deployment of more soldiers.

According to 2008′s Reserve Duty Law, combat soldiers can be called for active reserve duty once every three years, and for short training sessions during the other two. Rising tensions between Israel and Egypt and the ongoing unrest in Syria caused the army to ask the Knesset for special permission to call up more soldiers, more often.

The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee approved the request recently, enabling the IDF to summon up to 22 battalions for active duty for the second time in three years. Already, the army has called up six of them.

This signifies that the IDF regards the Egyptian and Syrian borders as the potential source of a greater threat than in the past,” the former deputy chief of staff, Dan Harel, said on Wednesday night.

“The army needs a better ‘answer’ than in the past to the threat,” he said, citing Egypt’s deteriorating control over the Sinai, marked by an upsurge in Bedouin smuggling of weapons and other goods. He also spoke of the growing threat of terrorism from Sinai, as exemplified by an infiltration last August in which eight Israelis were killed.

The Syrian situation was also highly combustible, Harel said, “and it could explode at any moment… and pose a direct challenge to us.”

Could we be seeing a war soon in the Middle East?

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , ,

Is the Obama administration behind the leak of Israel’s plan to strike Iran?

From ABC News. (H/T Director Blue)

Excerpt:

Two reports today about Iran’s nuclear program and the possibility of an Israeli military strike have analysts in Israel accusing the Obama administration leaking information to pressure Israel not to bomb Iran and for Iran to reach a compromise in upcoming nuclear talks.

The first report in Foreign Policy quotes anonymous American officials saying that Israel has been given access to airbases by Iran’s northern neighbor Azerbaijan from which Israel could launch air strikes or at least drones and search and rescue aircraft.

The second report from Bloomberg, based on a leaked congressional report, said that Iran’s nuclear facilities are so dispersed that it is “unclear what the ultimate effect of a strike would be…” A strike could delay Iran as little as six months, a former official told the researchers.

“It seems like a big campaign to prevent Israel from attacking,” analyst Yoel Guzansky at the Institute for National Security Studies told ABC News. “I think the [Obama] administration is really worried Jerusalem will attack and attack soon. They’re trying hard to prevent it in so many ways.”

[...]Thursday’s reports come a week after the results of a classified war game was leaked to the New York Times which predicted that an Israeli strike could lead to a wider regional war and result in hundreds of American deaths. In a column this afternoon titled “Obama Betraying Israel?” longtime defense commentator Ron Ben-Yishai at Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper angrily denounced the leaks as a “targeted assassination campaign.”

“In recent weeks the administration shifted from persuasion efforts vis-à-vis decision-makers and Israel’s public opinion to a practical, targeted assassination of potential Israeli operations in Iran,” Ben-Yishai writes. “The campaign’s aims are fully operational: To make it more difficult for Israeli decision-makers to order the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] to carry out a strike, and what’s even graver, to erode the IDF’s capacity to launch such strike with minimal casualties.”

With friends with the United States, Israel doesn’t need enemies.

UPDATE: John Bolton is making the same accusation:

Former U.S. diplomat John Boltonalleged Thursday that the Obama administration leaked a story about covert Israeli activity in order to foil potential plans by the country to attack Iran’s nuclear program.

Bolton, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in the George W. Bush administration, was responding to an article in Foreign Policy magazine that quoted government sources claiming Israel had been granted access to airfields in Azerbaijan – along Iran’s northern border.

The article did not state exactly what the Israelis’ intentions were, but it suggested it could point to a possible strike on Iran.

“I think this leak today is part of the administration’s campaign against an Israeli attack,” Bolton claimed on Fox News.

The White House did not respond to Bolton’s claims Thursday.

[...]The Foreign Policy article quoted what were identified as “high-level sources … inside the U.S. government.” It specifically mentioned “four senior diplomats and military intelligence officers.”

One intelligence officer, who was unnamed, told the magazine that the U.S. was “watching” the activity and was “not happy about it.”

[...]“Clearly, this is an administration-orchestrated leak,” Bolton told FoxNews.com. “This is not a rogue CIA guy saying I think I’ll leak this out.”

“It’s just unprecedented to reveal this kind of information about one of your own allies,” Bolton said.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , ,

Colonel Martha McSally enters congressional race for vacant Arizona seat

Colonel  Martha McSally

Colonel Martha McSally

From Military.com. (H/T Gateway Pundit)

Excerpt:

The first woman to fly fighters in combat for the Air Force, and first to command a fighter squadron in combat, is entering Arizona’s special election to fill U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ vacated congressional seat.

Martha McSally confirmed her intentions Wednesday to join the Republican primary. She made her decision after analyzing three factors: was it feasible, was she electable, and did she feel called to run.

McSally said she’s sure she is the right person for the job. “I believe my leadership and my demonstrated moral courage and experience is what this community and this nation needs right now.”

[...]She commanded a squadron of A-10 attack jets in Afghanistan. After that, she was sent to the Air War College in Alabama, where she finished first in a class of 225 people being groomed as senior leaders. She spent her final three years in the Air Force in Stuttgart, Germany.

Gateway Pundit adds:

Southern Arizona is buzzing with the possible entrance of a new candidate in the special election to replace Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Martha McSally, the woman who, in 2002, challenged the Department of Defense rule requiring American servicewoman in Saudi Arabia to dress in a Muslim Abaya and headscarf when travelling off base, reportedly plans to formally announce her candidacy Thursday.

McSally, who retired from the Air Force as a colonel, was also the first woman in United States history to fly in combat, and the first woman to lead a squadron into combat, in the skies above Iraq and Afghanistan. McSally is a Distinguished Graduate of the Air Force Academy, earned her Master’s Degree, in Public Policy, from the JFK School of Government at Harvard, and in 1995 was one of only seven active duty Air Force officers selected for the prestigious Legislative Fellowship Program in Washington. She spent the last few years teaching military and foreign affairs to world leaders at the George C. Marshall Center in Germany.

She’s also champion triathlete and has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro

Democrats in the Southern Arizona district, are lining up behind former Giffords’ aide Ron Barber to replace the outgoing congresswoman. Barber is being described by local Democrats as a “placeholder” or “caretaker” until the end of Giffords’ term. But it’s hard not to wonder if the entrance of a dynamic, young Republican woman will change the nature of this race.

McSally is conservative, pro-life, pro-2nd amendment, and everything else that voters in a Republican-leaning district are yearning for. So have the Democrats in Arizona’s 8th congressional district made a mistake? Some people are starting to think so. Martha McSally isn’t Gabrielle Giffords. But her dynamic personality, her clear convictions and accomplished resume could be just what conservatives need if they want to win the race that one Washington insider called, “the next biggest thing to the Presidential” race this year.

I’d like to know her views on the definition of marriage, but that’s still a good resume. I think I know one reason why she might be running – her A-10 Thunderbolt II was targeted in the Obama’s administration’s most recent round of cuts to American defense capabilities.

Here’s an interview she did with the radically left-wing 60 Minutes:

Here’s a bit more about the A-10 Thunderbolt II that she flew. (Picture, Specifications)

Part 1 of 2:

Part 2 of 2:

I built a model of one of these as a child, and hung it from the ceiling of my room. A great strike platform. I have mounted Rockeye cluster munitions on these guys when playing Steel Panthers and used them to immobilize/destroy multiple Russian T-72s in one pass. The AGM-65 Mavericks are effective at long range, as well.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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