Apparently, some members of the United States Senate need a refresher on why we have military presence in Japan.
Senator Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah, was at one point a very serious man who cared more about doing his job than he did about his online reputation. His background is impressive: he’s a lawyer, a former clerk for the Supreme Court, and a member of the Senate for over a decade. Back in the halcyon days of 2016, he refused to support the candidacy of Donald Trump out of principle. His legal mind is quite astute, and he has been considered for the Supreme Court by many conservatives. Suffice it to say, Lee has earned a reputation for seriousness and mental acuity. Well, at least until recently.
Since the waning days of the Trump administration, Lee has become more of a Twitter troll and MAGA opportunist than a US Senator, tweeting under the handle @BasedMikeLee (for the uninitiated, ‘based’ is online right-wing lingo for cool/badass). Just last night, he put out a series of tweets that caught my attention. In the thread starting with the tweet below, Senator Lee questions the necessity and prudence of our military commitment to Japan.
The China-brokered deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia has shuffled the deck in the Middle East, cutting the US out of the pot.
Over the weekend, in a surprising development to most Middle East watchers, China brokered a deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore some bilateral ties between the Islamic powers after seven years without them. The agreement was a very basic one, with the two countries agreeing in principle to exchange ambassadors within two months, reactivating a security cooperation agreement, and restoring some economic and cultural exchanges. This is the first formal rapprochement between the Islamic Republic and the Kingdom since 2016, when the Saudis executed a prominent Shia cleric, sparking violent protests at its embassy in Tehran and precipitating the break in relations. Since that split, the underlying conflict between the two states on either side of the Persian Gulf has rapidly escalated, with Iran taking the aggressive lead. Its proxies in Yemen, the Houthis, have attacked Riyadh directly, while Iran itself has launched cruise missiles at Saudi energy infrastructure, crippling a major refinery for weeks back in 2019.
Given this recent history, the fact that any kind of deal was struck shows that key changes are occurring in Middle Eastern politics. The agreement, basic as it was, did not force Iran to cease its aid of international terrorists or non-state proxies, even those which target the Kingdom; this was a conciliatory move on behalf of the Saudis towards the Iranians. This step towards normalization of relations without addressing some of the proverbial elephants in the room – the malign regional activities of Iran, the Shia-Sunni dispute, relations with Israel – fits well within the Chinese diplomatic playbook, as does the language of the agreement. In the text, both Iran and Saudi Arabia agree to the principles of “respect for the sovereignty of states and noninterference in their internal affairs,” a classic Chinese formulation that Beijing uses to ignore human rights abuses abroad and gloss over its own at home. There are a wide variety of implications and impacts from this diplomatic coup for China, both in the Middle East region and further afield.
The Russian war in Ukraine has been going on for over a year now, with hundreds of thousands of casualties on each side. What has happened over the past 12 months of conflict? Where does the war stand now? What will happen next? What lessons can we take away from this conflict? Those questions and more are answered in this episode of the Rational Policy podcast, commemorating and recapping a year of warfare.
Trans activism is often a one-way street – and females are in the way.
Over the past few years, no realm of political activism has grown faster or become more central to our disputes than gender ideology and transgenderism. It has rapidly transformed from something at the fringe of current events to a topic that inserts itself into every other news cycle. The pace of change, especially after the Obergefell Supreme Court decision which legalized gay marriage across the country, has been blistering. Trans activists are common on television, punch above their weight online, and exert serious pressure against dissenters and neutral institutions. Even minor pushback to this revolutionary movement – and yes, redefining our understanding of our sexed bodies is radical – has been routinely labeled as bigoted, transphobic, or, in the case of trans women, ‘transmisogynist’.
Transmisogyny is a term, coined by the trans writer Julia Serano, for prejudice against transgender women (natal males). This idea is of a piece with the broader intersectional movement, which posits that “all forms of inequality are mutually reinforcing,” creating a hierarchy of victimhood in which the more identity boxes one checks, the more ‘oppressed’ one is. In just a few years, the incidence of this term has positively exploded across the Internet, with major news outlets using it repeatedly and scholarly articles abounding. But the real transmisogyny isn’t as Serano described it; the term is a more apropos of the severe misogyny of the trans activist movement.
Transgender activism only seems to look one-way: at women. Activist focus on trans men (natal females) is practically nonexistent, and they are far less ubiquitous in media. Theoretically, both sorts of transgender person would merit activist attention, but this is not how things have played out in reality. Instead, the vast majority of trans activism centers exclusively on inculcating the idea that trans women (again, natal males) are in fact no different from natal females. The activist attempt to usurp womanhood is a shot across the bow of feminism and more often than not reinforces misogynist stereotypes.