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Holding Turkey Accountable

The increasingly autocratic government of Turkey has lost its mind. Or, at least, it has returned to its historical form.

Under Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the country has slipped away from a nascent form of democracy into an autocracy informed increasingly by Islamism. Whereas Turkey was once a bulwark against Soviet Communism in southern Europe—a secular power run by pro-Western leaders increasingly seeking to become enmeshed in the Western socioeconomic system—since Erdogan’s rise, Turkey has sprinted as far away from Europe and the West as possible. Now, Turkey exists as just another dictatorship in the Islamic World.

Truth is, Turkey and the West were always allies of convenience. When push-came-to-shove in accepting Turkey into the EU, Brussels opted to push back against Turkey’s membership until Ankara met certain political conditions. By that time, though, Erdogan had already begun his rapid Islamization of the once-secular Turkey. No compromise could be brooked.

Turkey also rankled the West when it continued zealously to hold influence over northern Cyprus. The government of Turkey also clashed routinely with those in the West who (rightly) supported Kurdish independence (at least in northern Iraq). Turkey was so concerned that the United States ultimately would grant the Kurds of northern Iraq a state after they toppled Saddam Hussein’s government, that Turkey—a fellow NATO ally—refused to allow American military units to use Turkish territory to conduct offensive operations against Iraq.

Neo-Ottomans Unite!
Meanwhile, Turkey made overtly corrupt alliances with leading figures in Iran, in a bizarre oil-for-gold scandal. From there, elements of Erdogan’s government began funding disparate Salafist groups—even ISIS at one point—in an attempt to topple Arab strongmen. The reason? Erdogan fancied himself a new Ottoman sultan and was keen on reconstituting the old Ottoman Empire that once spanned the Islamic World (at least the Middle East and North Africa). This ideology became known as “neo-Ottomanism.” As ethnic Turks and Sunni Muslims, Erdogan and his fellow neo-Ottomans believed that only they had the ability to unite the Islamic World under their leadership.

The Obama Administration was wary of selling advanced American arms to Turkey—despite its position as the primary pillar of NATO’s southern defensive perimeter—because of Ankara’s quiet support for terrorist factions and its revisionist foreign policy. Thus, Turkey, which had already begun sending envoys to China and Russia to develop closer ties, redoubled its efforts to woo both autocratic states.

Part of this move away from the West came in the form of Turkey’s acceptance as a dialogue member to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in 2016. For years, Turkey had flirted with becoming a member of the SCO but was prevented from doing so because Turkey was also seeking admission to the European Union.

All of that changed in November 2016 when the European Union parliament decided to suspend negotiations with Turkey indefinitely. The moment that occurred, Turkey became a dialogue partner to the SCO along with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. In 2017, Turkey was granted chairmanship of the SCO’s powerful energy club.

Turkey is now holding captive an American pastor, Andrew Brunson, while insisting the Trump Administration grant sanctions relief to one of Turkey’s largest state-owned banks, Halkbank. The reason Halkbank was sanctioned in the first place was to punish the Turkish government’s aforementioned ties with Iran—despite the fact that Washington reintroduced sanctions on Iran for its continued development of an illicit nuclear weapons program last year.  

Bear in mind, Turkey is digging in despite the Trump Administration’s decision to abandon America’s long-time Kurdish allies (who did most of the fighting—and dying—in the war against ISIS) in order to placate the Turks. What Trump got in place of the Kurds was an ungrateful ally that continues terrorizing the Kurds; suborning Iran’s imperial aggrandizement; supporting terrorist groups; holding northern Cyprus hostage; all while empowering both Russia and China.

Turkey has made its intentions clear: it is not a Western ally. Ankara does not seek to be a Western partner. If the West continues treating Turkey as though it were simply a wayward child rather than a rival, the West will continue to be undermined and embarrassed from within.

Turkey is free to make alliances and conduct business with whichever country its leaders wish. However, the United States does not need to continue giving Turkey a pass for its poor behavior because American leaders still delude themselves into believing that Turkey can be wooed. Turkey is an autocratic, non-Western state. It always has been. It always will be. It’s time to recognize that and act accordingly.

Conservatives • Donald Trump • Elections • EU • Europe • Post • Progressivism • Religion of Peace

Boris and the Burka Berserker

Chimpanzees are something like political animals. Much of their lives revolve around manipulating those around them. They hide their feelings. They hold grudges. They have an inherent sense of fair play—they brutally punish the selfish.

In his book Selfie: How the West Became Self Obsessed, journalist Will Storr doesn’t take long to transfuse human blood into the chimp’s bloodstream.

“They keep track of political alliances: if one chimp defends another, it will expect that support in later conflicts,” writes Storr.

Failing to uphold this honor can lead to crisis; fracturing coalitions and unleashing violent pandemonium. Chimps even mete out calculated beatings and political murders.

Once a chimpanzee tops the tribe, he changes tack. He becomes a politician. Though, violence is never off the menu.

Professor Frans de Waal, a primatologist, says in Selfie that ambitious chimps flip from winning fights to building alliances, once they emerge at the top.

“Chimpanzees are so clever about banding together that a leader needs allies . . . as well as the greater community’s acceptance,” he writes. “Staying on top is a balancing act between forcefully asserting dominance, keeping supporters happy, and avoiding mass revolt.”

Ripped from Trump’s Playbook
As you’ve no doubt twigged: Human political theater works the same way.

Though our own political landscape, thankfully, lacks the spectacle of simian punishment beatings, and political murder, the path to power is similar.

This week, Boris Johnson made a few risqué remarks ripped straight from the Trumpian playbook. Naturally, however, he doused them in buttery British eloquence.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, the effulgent Boris, now unshackled from Prime Minister Theresa May’s doomed cabinet, likened the Islamic “burka” favored by some Muslim women to a “letterbox” before quipping that the veiled often resemble “bank robbers.”

Crucially, Boris opposed any notion of banning the burka. The column, in fact, was set against the Danish government’s recent decision to join France, Germany, Austria, and Belgium in restricting the niqab and the burka—religious headwear that shrouds the female wearer’s face and body—in public.

Of course, the London claque stewed in its familiar infernal rage, and, as they do, took to the digital bedlam of Twitter to hijack this latest outrage and bathe themselves in confected faux-virtue.

Predictable Outrage
What is telling is that the shrillest voices demanding Boris apologize in an all-too-familiar public shaming ritual, are those most terrified he will soon be prime minister. If Boris gets in, we, the British people, get out. Boris wants a true Brexit. The Metropolitan clique does not.

Picking up on the scent of Etonian blood, Conservative grandee Sayeeda Warsi said she welcomed an inquiry into Boris’s comments, calling them a “dog whistle” to apparently anti-Muslim elements of the Tory base. That base, it should be noted, recently declared its preference for Sajid Javid as the future leader of their party. Javid is of Muslim heritage.

So, despite Boris taking the admirably liberal stance of opposing an illiberal measure, and pointing out that the burka and its peculiarities have no Koranic scriptural basis, his detractors still call for his floppy blonde mop. The party chairman has called for an investigation.

Even the Prime Minister demanded an apology, which is so far, unheeded.

Surprising Agreement
But the London set has lumbered into a minefield. Not only are grassroots Conservatives foaming at what they call a “kneecapping” of their now preferred choice to replace Theresa May, but the wider public is behind him, too.

Awkwardly for the enbubbled, a Sky Data poll found 60 percent of British people didn’t think Boris’ comments were “racist.”

They’ll be undoubtedly aghast to find out that Boris is actually against majority opinion. When asked, 59 percent of people told the same pollsters that wearing the burka in public should be banned.

If the Metropolitans hoped to score virtue-points with their designated victims, they are again set for disappointment. Dr. Taj Haregy, a leading Imam, said that Boris should not apologize for “telling the truth,” before arguing that his comments didn’t go far enough.

Saying that face coverings held no “Koranic legitimacy,” Hargey said Arab fashions such as the burka were a lurid cudgel of “a toxic patriarchy controlling women.”

“If Britain is to become a fully integrated society then it is incumbent that cultural practices, personal preferences, and communal customs that aggravate social division should be firmly resisted,” he told The Times newspaper. “For this reason Britain must emulate France, Belgium, Austria, Bulgaria and Denmark in banning the burka.”

Maajid Nawaz, a reformist Muslim and head of the left-of-center counterextremism Quilliam think tank, said the burka invited “ridicule,” dubbing it the “uniform of medieval patriarchal tyranny.”

It All Boils Down to Brexit—and Greatness
But that isn’t what this skirmish is really about. Boris has been on maneuvers since bouncing from Theresa May’s cabinet following the release of her plan to leave the European Union in name only. The fallout has been nuclear. May’s standing has plummeted with the working-class who deserted Labour to vote Tory, many for the first time.

They want Boris. And so does President Trump, who told The Sun newspaper recently that Boris would make a “great Prime Minister.”

Because the two share similarities, it’s easy to see the appeal. Both speak from the hip. Both have a molto simpatico with the working-classes. Both can play the media like a fiddle. Both offer a vision which rejects the status quo and its progressive historical guilt-trip.

Like in America, the deposed and the defenestrated haven’t grasped the nettle. Politics has changed. Countries across Europe are turfing out the mild-mannered in favor of those who say they’ll get things done. They don’t believe that a managed decline into irrelevance is the best they should hope for.

Trump wants to Make America Great Again. The Brexit campaign urged us to “Take Back Control.”  Boris has a Churchillian obsession with a Britain which quite rightly used to claim to be “Great.”

This is offensive to the progressive chatterati because to look back to former greatness negates their insistence that only their progression will make for perfection.

But spend the odd afternoon frequenting the many drinking houses of this country, those still inoculated from the puzzlement outside, and one will find that most ordinary people don’t buy the narrative foisted upon them by their self-appointed betters. Things were better when they were growing up.

And, yes, they do “cling” to it. It’s often all they have. They are humans. They are not monkeys.

Photo Credit: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

America • Democrats • Donald Trump • EU • Europe • First Amendment • Foreign Policy • Greatness Agenda • Post • The Media • Trade

A Tentative Trade War Win

Ever since President Trump launched a so-called trade war back in January, the expert political class has been in a tizzy.

Economists warned that U.S.-imposed tariffs aimed at Canada, China, and the European Union would devastate the economy and destroy millions of jobs. Politicians on the Left and the Right condemned the president; some congressional Republicans are threatening to limit the president’s future authority on trade policy. Pundits claimed (hoped?) the measures would most hurt Trump supporters in red states.

But Trump’s latest sucker punch to the expert political class follows a familiar pattern that Our Betters still haven’t figured out. They are the unwitting sparring partners in the president’s entertaining rope-a-dope. Trump makes a hasty, impetuous comment or policy announcement and various experts howl that it will fail and commiserate about the president’s stupidity. Pundits warn it will yield harsh political consequences. The public catches on to a problem it didn’t know existed. The president’s foes capitulate; public views it as a win. Expert political class loses again. (See “Trump will never get 3 percent economic growth” predictions as the most recent example.)

Europe Comes to the Table
Admittedly, it is too soon to say whether the United States will prevail in Trump’s hardline trade gambit, but he can already claim one victory: After
 referring to the European Union as a trading “foe”—and unleashing the usual chorus of naysayers—Trump issued a joint  statement with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker pledging to resolve long-standing trade disputes.

“This is why we agreed today to work together toward zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods,” the statement reads. “We will also work to reduce barriers and increase trade in services, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, medical products, as well as soybeans. This will open markets for farmers and workers, increase investment, and lead to greater prosperity in both the United States and the European Union. It will also make trade fairer and more reciprocal.”

Score another one for—as expertise expert Tom Nichols calls them—“Trump and the Know-Nothings who support him.”

What most Americans didn’t realize until now is that there already is a trade war going on; our friends and allies are some of the combatants; and “free trade” doesn’t really exist, no matter how many times the neoconservatives say it does.

American Farmers Know the Score
Just ask any American farmer about China, a country now imposing 
tariffs on a number of American imports—including soybeans, cherries, and nuts—in response to Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods. “Everybody understands that China has been screwing us for years,” Rob Sharkey, an Illinois grain farmer and host on Sirius XM’s Rural Radio, told me this week. “The system will never be completely fair, but it has to better than it is. They’ve manipulated the markets and most of us are happy we have a president who will stand up and do that.” The United States now has a $375 billion deficit with China, the widest gap on record.

Sharkey said the sentiment among farmers on Trump’s trade offensive is split. “Half the guys are like, ‘Great, we got Trump, he’s going to tackle this.’ The other half, mostly older guys who lived through the Carter embargo years, are saying, ‘Oh no, here we go again.’ Everyone wants it fixed, but wants it fixed soon because we are already at break-even prices.”

Other farmers share a similar view. “The acknowledgment by the Trump administration that we’re withering out here in rural America is great,” my friend Amanda Zaluckyj, a corn and soybean farmer in Michigan, wrote this week. “But it was Trump’s tariffs and moves to reopen beneficial trade deals that exacerbated the problems we’re already experiencing.”

“We want a president to focus on opening up new markets, finding new customers, and giving us more opportunities,” Zaluckyj added. “We need to hold countries like China accountable for playing games, but we need to be smart about it.”

And the short-term financial relief aimed at farmers to mitigate any losses due to the retaliatory tariffs appears unwelcome.

“Farmers learn from an early age that the only way to make a living is through an honest day of hard work growing crops and selling them at a profit. Farmers do not want handouts and they do not want U.S. taxpayers to foot the bill just to keep us afloat,” Zaluckyj wrote.

If the U.S.-China trade conflict escalates over the next few months, it could impact Senate races in key states. Four of the top 10 soybean-producing states—Indiana, North Dakota, Ohio, and Missouri—have vulnerable incumbent Democratic senators. If Republicans have a shot at capturing those seats, the tariff battle cannot worsen.

Advancing American Interests in Europe
Trump’s bluntness with European leaders also might expose to the public the EU’s increasing hostility to American agriculture, particularly its alarming resistance to modern farming techniques. Environmentalists are running the show in the EU; their ideological soul mates such as French President Emmanuel Macron are easily capitulating to their unreasonable and harmful demands at the expense of U.S. agribusiness. The cultivation of genetically engineered crops, mainly developed by U.S. companies, is
 banned throughout Europe. Most countries require that any food produced with genetically-engineered ingredients, or GMOs, must be labeled. It is a subtle but direct rebuke of American-made products since most processed food made here contains GMOs.

Thanks to Macron’s help last year, the European Parliament nearly approved a ban on the sale and use of glyphosate, the world’s most widely-used weed killer known as Roundup, which is manufactured by St. Louis-based Monsanto. The Fortune 500 company is Public Enemy No. 1 in Europe. The European Parliament voted in 2017 to bar Monsanto from lobbying any of its members, and green activists staged a fake tribunal against the company at The Hague in 2016, accusing the company of “crimes against humanity.”

The EU’s antipathy toward modern agriculture unquestionably is aimed at the United States. New limits on chemical residues on agricultural imports could cost U.S. farmers more than $7 billion in lost business.  

Last week, a European court ruled that crops derived via CRISPR, a truly miraculous gene-editing technology patented in the United States, would be treated as a classic GMO crop. This comes at a time when the Trump Administration is expediting the approval of more genetically modified crops and plants.

Perhaps this is an area that Trump could also address as negotiations with the EU progress. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) acknowledged that the EU’s acceptance of more U.S. soybeans is a positive sign since “they usually don’t like GMO products.” (Almost all of the soybeans grown here are from genetically engineered seed.)

So, no matter how inelegantly or impulsive Trump’s trade action might be, it is raising awareness about long-simmering and unresolved issues in international trade. And it’s already getting results. What will the experts say now?

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Conservatives • Defense of the West • Elections • EU • Europe • Immigration • Political Parties • Post • Steve Bannon

Bannon Builds a Bomb

Liberals keen to wake up from what they regard as a prelapsarian nightmare in which fascists have stormed the White House, and “The Handmaid’s Tale” is some kind of documentary, might want to invest more time in their painful misreading of dystopian fictions.

What therapists call dissociative behavior, liberals aghast at the warp and weft of democracy call Monday. Or Tuesday. Or . . . you get the point.

Because convincing oneself that an unkind and unforgiving world will soon revert back to what one would like it to be, might be comforting. But reality rampages on.

If one man animates the coping mechanisms of the “woke” more than President Trump, it is certainly his old pal Steve Bannon.

Bannon holds a dubious honor. He is one of perhaps three people whose name alone sparks a Pavlovian response among the throngs of the pro-establishment resistance.

He was barely mentioned within the pages of the Daily Beast last week before the familiar cries of “white supremacist!” punctured an already shrill din.

Bannon’s latest “outrage” it seems, is in birthing a new populist foundation called The Movement. Across a continent already bubbling with populist uprisings claiming the power centers of Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Italy, Bannon is fusing a dirty bomb with currency and credence.

Europe’s populist movement has the air of a ragtag insurgency. They like to fight dirty. Most importantly: they like to win. Bannon thinks melding this all together with stacks of cash, and political ballast will provide succor to a movement whose shoestring victories have rocked the continent.

The Movement will arm-up suitors with money, messaging advice, polling and data targeting, and intellectual meat from sympathetic think-tanks—something that famishes President Trump in a largely hostile Washington brain-center.

By capturing a third of lawmakers at next year’s seismic European Parliament elections, the Wall Street apostate wants to bomb the European Union into reform—or rubble. Bear in mind that a majority of European citizens think the beleaguered institution is “headed in the wrong direction.”

Such an achievement certainly would cause a ruckus. Populism’s detractors at the Financial Times cling to the hope that populists, once dehydrated of their heady for-the-people brew, will dissolve into the apparently botchy dunces the elite insists they are. But to the dismay of the old order, disruption isn’t all they have.

The hopes of detractors have been dashed in Austria and Italy, where Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has taken swift and popular action against immigration. The sober Foreign Policy even touted the Millennial as Europe’s future, given his deft synthesis of populist heart and conservative head.

In Italy, it took Lega supremo Matteo Salvini just one day to block incoming migrant ships. Despite the usual eruptions of pixel and paper, a full 80 percent of Italians supported the move.

What ails the European Union reaches far beyond our own “Carry On Brexit.” Voters in every member state have said that immigration, and terrorism—the EU’s siamese bête noireconcern them most.

But Bannon the blotchy bombardier should tread carefully. News of his new movement hasn’t been met with the expected bobbing of pitchforks. Populists across the continent are lukewarm at best. Perhaps his masterminding of the Roy Moore debacle still sullies his stock.

Or not. After Theresa May revealed her wildly insulting plan to leave the European Union in name only, her big rival for the top job stepped down. And fired up. Boris Johnson, ex-foreign secretary wasted no time in attacking London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s faltering leadership. The carnival of stabbings on the streets paints a well-documented reality.

Buzzfeed reported that Bannon also has been talking to Boris. Though the substance of their “regular” chats wasn’t detailed, they’re probably not discussing the weather.

This really got the Resistance going. David Lammy MP, who backs a “People’s Vote” to overturn the people’s vote, this week called the will of said people “bollocks,” and tweeted his boiler-plated disgust.

No doubt, Lammy and the rest of them are a least a little worried. Boris is making moves. And he really wants to leave the European Union, not just mollify the plebs with a bankers’ Brexit. When Theresa May falls, the smart money is on the blonde, despite what the London enbubbled insist.

Yet, while they giddy themselves with fantasies of thwarting Brexit, and defenestrating President Trump, they’ve failed to notice that politics has changed. The debate is no longer Left versus Right. It’s what policy wonk David Goodhart calls the Anywheres versus Somewheres.

The Somewheres voted for Trump and Brexit. The Anywheres spit bile at both. As Goodhart points out, the traditional center-left’s collapse motors the populist right. Abandoned working-class voters don’t recognize their old parties now captured by the intellectual left.

Running to the now economically-prudent right, the Left’s abandoned voters have found a voice. Alas, 2 million nonvoters won Brexit for the plebs; the Rust Belt won it for Trump. The fix is in. Screaming at this week’s designated boogeyman won’t change a thing.

Photo credit: Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images

Americanism • Conservatives • Donald Trump • Economy • EU • Europe • Foreign Policy • Immigration • Post • Progressivism • self-government • The Left • Trade

Mayday for Brexit

President Trump managed to ruffle a few feathers during his visit to Great Britain this week before Air Force One even stroked the runway. Then, when he arrived, he nuked the entire country.

The disruptor-in-chief, sugar-blooded from shaking a few defense pennies from spendthrift NATO allies, brawled into Prime Minister Theresa May’s headspace, saying her current Brexit deal wasn’t what 17.4 million Brits voted for.

He was just warming the crowd. President Trump then gave an interview to our most influential newspaper, The Sun As you can imagine, the garrulous Guy Fawkes went wild.

Trump told The Sun that Prime Minister May had “wrecked” our Brexit negotiations. That our jewel-in-the-Brexit-crown trade deal with the United States was “probably dead.” Then he backed Boris Johnsonthe former foreign minister and May’s braying rivalfor prime minister. All this when political tensions fray to the last fiber.

BRINO
We British like to think we lead the world in etiquette. A dedicated industry churns out ever thickening tomes of advice on mannerly conduct. The 
Debrett’s A-Z of Modern Manners even advises the red of cheek to pen a handwritten note after an initial apology for a faux pas.

But politics is not a garden party. Donald Trump wasn’t elected to fawn and fiddle, but to move fast and break things.

He’s right, too. May’s proposed deal to take Britain out of the European Union certainly is not what the largest number of voters in this country’s history had in mind. Over half of them have junked her deal. And the Conservatives now trail the hapless Labour party.

Revealed last week, May’s plan doesn’t really take us out of the European Union. It’s BRINO—Brexit in Name Only.

After all, we voted to “take back control” of our money, our borders, and our laws. May’s proposal (which the EU will still likely shred) does none of that. The move to end “free movement of people” (open borders) has been replaced with “reciprocal mobility arrangements.”

We won’t control our trade deals. We won’t control our borders. We won’t control our laws.

Martin Howe QC, one of Britain’s top legal minds, said the deal amounted to a “worst-of-all-worlds ‘Black Hole’ Brexit,” chaining us to EU laws and regulations, but without a vote.

In other words, we have swapped syphilis for herpes.

Political Theater in London
It shouldn’t surprise. The political class never wanted a referendum. Ever since June 23, 2016, they’ve schemed cross-party, diluting the will of those they deride as “racist” or backward or both.

Much like their protestor fanboys, the ruling class doesn’t like this democracy thing. The revolt of the elites has swung violently against those, like us, who decided the last 30 years has been disastrous. We gave them the wrong answer and now they are provoked by what they consider our ignorance and ingratitude.

After all, they run the show. And they don’t think much of the audience chiming in mid-performance, let alone the rubes bouncing a few tomatoes off the stage. Elite theater is just thattheater.

The protestors eagerly lacquering their social media feeds into festivals of synthetic virtue are merely backup dancers. Sadly, not everyone can find the time to throng the streets of London selfying into Clarendon-filtered marvel. We have work.

Some time-lavished hipsters have even bilked £16,000 (around $21,000) for a 20-foot-high diaper-garbed inflatable “Trump Baby” to fly over Parliament Square.

They still need you to know that Trump is unacceptable. Well, they need you to know that they think Trump is unacceptable. In reality, they need you to know that they are faucets of goodness. Attention is limited in an age where the demand for it proves limitless. Some people just have to stand out.

But what point are they making? Emotional incontinence is not an argument. It just marks one as someone in devilish need of a Xanax.

Trump’s Policies Remain Popular in Europe
Perhaps they’d like to know that most Brits may not like Trump the man, but they do like his policies. A
study last year found majorities in Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, and Poland would block all immigration from Muslim-majority countries. In the UK, just under half nodded, while only less than a quarter disagreed.

Moreover, 70 percent of Brits wanted all immigration tightened, and a hefty fifth wanted it cut entirely. And in the Europe they so gaudily crave? Voters in every EU member country stated immigration and terrorism were their top two concerns. The same issues, in other words, which planted Trump in the White House.

They might have noticed that Trump-like populist governments have plundered the continent of progressive parties. Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Italy are all occupied with the kind of folks they deem unacceptable. Why? Because the EU itself is shakier than EU high priest Jean-Claude Juncker after a libatory lunch.

And the inflatable Trump Baby? Well, it was filled with hot air and went limp after just two hours of work. Its staying power being a reflection of that of the protesters who carried it.

America • Americanism • China • Donald Trump • EU • Europe • Foreign Policy • Germany • Greatness Agenda • Immigration • Middle East • NATO • Post • Trade

Reciprocity Is the Method to Trump’s Madness

Critics of Donald Trump claim there is no rhyme or reason to his foreign policy. But if there is a consistency, it might be called reciprocity.

Trump tries to force other countries to treat the United States as it treats them. In “don’t tread on me” style, he also warns enemies that any aggressive act will be replied to in kind.

The underlying principle of Trump commercial reciprocity is that the United States is no longer powerful or wealthy enough to alone underwrite the security of the West. It can no longer assume sole enforcement of the rules and protocols of the postwar global order.

This year there have been none of the usual Iranian provocations—frequent during the Obama Administration—of harassing American ships in the Persian Gulf. Apparently, the Iranians now realize that anything they do to an American ship will be replied to with overwhelming force.

Ditto North Korea. After lots of threats from Kim Jong Un about using his new ballistic missiles against the United States, Trump warned that he would use America’s far greater arsenal to eliminate North Korea’s arsenal for good.

Trump is said to be undermining NATO by questioning its usefulness some 69 years after its founding. Yet unlike 1948, Germany is no longer down. The United States is always in. And Russia is hardly out, but instead cutting energy deals with the Europeans.

More importantly, most NATO countries have failed to keep their promises to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense.

Yet the vast majority of the 29 alliance members are far closer than the United States to the dangers of Middle East terrorism and supposed Russian bullying.

Why does Germany by design run up a $65 billion annual trade surplus with the United States? Why does such a wealthy country spend only 1.2 percent of its GDP on defense? And if Germany has entered into energy agreements with a supposedly dangerous Vladimir Putin, why does it still need to have its security subsidized by the American military?

Trump approaches NAFTA in the same reductionist way. The 24-year-old treaty was supposed to stabilize, if not equalize, all trade, immigration, and commerce between the three supposed North American allies.

It never quite happened that way. Unequal tariffs remained. Both Canada and Mexico have substantial trade surpluses with the United States. In Mexico’s case, it enjoys a $71 billion surplus, the largest of U.S. trading partners with the exception of China.

Canada never honored its NATO security commitment. It spends only 1 percent of its GDP on defense, rightly assuming that the U.S. will continue to underwrite its security.

During the lifetime of NAFTA, Mexico has encouraged millions of its citizens to enter the U.S. illegally. Mexico’s selfish immigration policy is designed to avoid internal reform, to earn some $30 billion in annual expatriate remittances, and to influence U.S. politics.

Yet after more than two decades of NAFTA, Mexico is more unstable than ever. Cartels run entire states. Murders are at a record high. Entire towns in southern Mexico have been denuded of their young males, who crossed the U.S. border illegally.

The United States runs a huge trade deficit with China. The red ink is predicated on Chinese dumping, patent and copyright infringement, and outright cheating. Beijing illegally occupies neutral islands in the South China Sea, militarizes them and bullies its neighbors.

All of the above has become the “normal” globalized world.

But in 2016, red-state America rebelled at the asymmetry. The other half of the country demonized the red-staters as protectionists, nativists, isolationists, populists, and nationalists.

However, if China, Europe, and other U.S. trading partners had simply followed global trading rules, there would have been no Trump pushback—and probably no Trump presidency at all.

Had NATO members and NAFTA partners just kept their commitments, and had Mexico not encouraged millions of its citizens to crash the U.S. border, there would now be little tension between allies.

Instead, what had become abnormal was branded the new normal of the postwar world.

Again, a rich and powerful United States was supposed to subsidize world trade, take in more immigrants than all the nations of the world combined, protect the West, and ensure safe global communications, travel, and commerce.

After 70 years, the effort had hollowed out the interior of America, creating two separate nations of coastal winners and heartland losers.

Trump’s entire foreign policy can be summed up as a demand for symmetry from all partners and allies, and tit-for-tat replies to would-be enemies.

Did Trump have to be so loud and often crude in his effort to bully America back to reciprocity?

Who knows?

But it seems impossible to imagine that globalist John McCain, internationalist Barack Obama or gentlemanly Mitt Romney would ever have called Europe, NATO, Mexico, and Canada to account, or warned Iran or North Korea that tit would be met by tat.

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2016 Election • Defense of the West • Donald Trump • EU • Europe • Greatness Agenda • Hillary Clinton • Identity Politics • Immigration • Political Parties • Post • Progressivism • self-government • The Culture • The Left • The Resistance (Snicker) • Trade

Hillary and Brexit

Scientists are so smart these days they can tell how someone voted in the 2016 Brexit referendum by asking how they like their steak prepared.

Those who voted to Remain prefer their sirloin cooked “medium-rare.” Brexiteers like theirs charred. Some of these culinary arsonists also insist on slatherings of ketchup. Like President Trump.

Leave voters are also more conscientious and emotionally stable than Remainers. Given the last two years of roiling histrionics, the wailing, the demands for another vote, the nastiness, the sneering, this caveat is impervious to dispute.

But the mewling continues incessantly. Brexiteers—17.4 million of them—got it wrong. They “didn’t know what they were voting for,” whirr the self-satisfied soy polloi. They’re still not over it. Or reconciled to the fact Donald Trump sits gleefully in the White House.

Of course, his vanquished opponent hasn’t quite stumbled upon the acceptance stage of the Kübler-Ross grief cycle.

Hillary Clinton lectured at the University of Oxford this week. Though admirably resisting a narcotic temptation to attack the president, Hillary did manage to slither a little Brexit-bashing past her teeth.

“Today in the UK, where nearly three quarters of 18- to 24-year-olds voted to remain in the European Union, one has to ask: could more have done the same, enough to turn the tide?” she told the Sheldonian Theatre audience. “Because after the vote, young people spoke out expressing fear, disgust and a feeling of being let down by the older generations.”

Perhaps they did. But they weren’t so bothered until the likes racked up on their Remain-framed profile pictures. At least one-third didn’t vote.

Hillary, of course, didn’t explore why a majority voted to leave the EU. Nor why similarly minded movements are sweeping the power centres of Europe. If she did, Clinton would realize she and her ilk’s bankrupt politics fueled the great upheaval they so testily deplore.

Perhaps Brexit stokes such animation because permanent political victories are rare. A referendum is do or die. But Remainers did this to themselves. Rejecting all compromise with the majority, the allegedly progressive and forward-thinking reverted into a feudalistic public-shaming of those who think they should govern themselves.

Take Richard Dawkins, of off-brand atheism and blue-ticked Twitter boorishness. Dawkins marched across London’s Pall Mall last weekend alongside a fancifully claimed 100,000-strong throng of Remainers demanding a “People’s Vote” on the final Brexit deal.

Of course, even more luridly galling than prefixing the populist “People” before a vote to run roughshod over said people, was Dawkins’ characteristically sneering tweet:

The decent half of Britain. That sums it up nicely. Those driven utterly barmy by what is actually a fairly rudimentary concept of democracy, have lathered into delirium.

Half a million people have joined the dole queue; each British household is worse off by £4,300 ($5,674). We are mulching under the molars of a biting recession, while the banks and blue-chippers have fled for Paris. The Scottish have deserted Great Britain, breaking a 311-year marriage. There’s no food left; no medicine. And war rages across Europe.

Of course, none of the above has actually happened. But the Ultra-Remain expert class predicted all of this and worse ahead of June 2016’s sulphurous referendum. Yes, those “decent” people to whom Dawkins extends his ebullient grace.

Despite the narrative not congealing with reality, such bloodless musings have become social media currency among the virtuous class.

In private, they’re not so confident. “Why are they like this?” they ask mutedly gleeful and note-riffling therapists. “Why can’t I just get over it?” they cry. The problem lies with them. Rather than confront head-on the troubling revelation that one’s worldview isn’t as secure as one thought, cognitive dissonance offers a warming palliative.

A comfort blanket. Hence why liberals resort to canned tropes like Hillary Clinton’s popular vote “win.”

It’s also why Remainers often question the validity of the Brexit vote, insisting it was merely “advisory,” before calling for a People’s Vote—deeming that legitimate—provided the “correct” answer is delivered.

Because that is what all this is really about. The wrong people had a say. The rubes dared pelt the bovarists with their own farmers-market avocados. And won. Victory eluded people like us.

And they are correct. Most people aren’t like them. A study released just months after Brexit found Britons occupied themselves within eight tribes of differing political views.

Unsurprisingly to those fortunate enough to dwell outside of progressive London, half of all polled found themselves firmly on the right, lapping happily within the “Common Sense,” and the “Our Britain” tribes. Researchers deemed this lot to hold “traditionally conservative views” imbued with Euroskeptic principles and a desire for strong controls on immigration.

That study also radiated the numerical paltriness of those with the pro-EU, open-borders, internationalist worldview espoused in blanket fashion by our cultural and economic elites. This tribe, “New Britain,” secured just six percent of the entire country.

Other Remain-minded tribes, like the “Progressives” (11 percent), “Community” (5 percent), and “Democratic Socialists” (8 percent) made up less than a quarter of all Britons.

This cultural apartheid underlines the twilight of our elites, in Great Britain and the United States. It explains why our newspapers and television screens are teeming with political opinions beggared of main street sensibility.

But, like Democrats still burned by President Trump’s election, Remainers will probably never understand why they lost. Or why they continue to lose. How they like a steak is the least of their worries.

Photo credit:  Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images

America • Americanism • Economy • EU • Greatness Agenda • Post • the Presidency • Trade • Trump White House

Harley-Davidson’s Big, Fat Mistake

Harley-Davidson on Monday announced that it would move production for its European customers overseas, in order to avoid the European Union’s (EU) new import duties. President Trump slammed the move and accused the company of raising the “white flag” of economic surrender on Twitter.

Trump is right. Harley-Davidson’s decision is perhaps the most incompetent public relations blunder since Starbucks said it would replace 10,000 American workers with Syrian refugees—no doubt they will pay a heavy price.

In the meantime, Harley’s loss is our gain, as every individual failure makes the whole stronger.

A Bittersweet Vindication
Before beginning, let’s get some preliminary facts straight. In 2017, Harley-Davidson sold around 40,000 new motorcycles in Europe. And although Europe is Harley’s second largest market, it still accounts for a mere 16 percent of the company’s global sales—Harley is an American company with a predominantly American market. Furthermore, Harleys are (mostly) American-made.

Regarding the tariffs: on June 22 the EU’s new 25 percent import duties came into effect. These were levied in response to President Trump’s own tariffs—apparently, the EU forgot it already imposes significant tariffs, and other nonmonetary import restrictions, on American goods.

Harley estimates that these tariffs will raise the price of their European bikes by an average of $2,200. Assuming that this will hurt their sales, they announced that they will offshore a fraction of their production to Europe—not their entire production-base, as some distortion-artists claim. Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s proceed.

The first point worth mentioning is obvious: Harley’s announcement proves tariffs work. By raising the cost of importing American motorcycles, EU tariffs created a powerful incentive for Harley-Davidson to invest in Europe. They responded to this incentive. Now Europe will have its own slice of Harley’s pie—and benefit from the capital investment, jobs, and technical know-how that Harley will bring with them. Imagine that.

Of course, the free trade brigade will doubtlessly rant about how Trump’s “trade war” harmed America by driving Harley-Davidson abroad. In this instance, I’d agree. Wars have casualties—even trade wars. But let’s not miss the forest for the trees: Trump’s tariffs will benefit far more American companies than they hurt, and will thereby create more jobs than they destroy.

There are two reasons for this. First, because labor-intensive (or what sophists term “inefficient”) jobs are the first to move offshore, international trade necessarily destroys more jobs than it creates. For example, a 2014 study by Robert Scott found that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) displaced a net 851,700 American jobs—the exact opposite of what Bill Clinton claimed.

Note: this paradigm is reversed when America freely trades with higher-cost jurisdictions, like Europe. The only reason European industries are not pouring into America (like ours pour into China) is because of Europe’s tariff wall. Were Europe to adopt an American-style trade regime, they would deindustrialize within a decade.

The second reason that Trump’s tariffs will create more jobs than they will destroy is that America is a net importer (this is reflected in America’s large, chronic trade deficit). Thus, far more American production is displaced abroad than vice versa. Further, America has a trade deficit in advanced industries—those technology-generating sectors that drive long-run economic growth. Repatriating these industries alone would make Trump’s tariffs worth it.

Short-Term Gain, Long-Term Pain
Harley-Davidson made a spectacular error in announcing their intention to offshore a portion of their production to Europe. That this is a mistake should be prima facie obvious to anyone with a lick of common sense—but perhaps it’s not obvious to the alumni of the Harvard School of Business or the Chicago School of Economics who seem to keep screwing up in the same way. So let me lay it out for their benefit:

Europeans don’t buy Harley’s because they want a cost-effective, fuel-efficient means of transportation to take them safely (read: blandly) from point-A to point-B—they want a hog. Harley’s aren’t just bikes. They embody American muscle, sweat, and steel.

They’re strong. Loud. Bold.

They’re a classic piece of Americana.

Frankly, Europeans don’t really care about the price. After all, they’re not buying a bike—they’re buying a brand. Harley’s are status symbols, just like Gucci bags or Lamborghinis. An extra $2,200 per bike isn’t going to turn away droves of customers. It’s going to make Harleys even more exclusive, and possibly more profitable.

Harley should embrace the opportunity Trump gave them: don’t settle to be Europe’s mass-market motorcycle producer. Be something greater. Be a luxury—if Europeans want Harleys, make them pay.

By relocating to Europe, Harley is simply ticking off their loyal (overwhelmingly Trump-supporting) customers. In the end, they stand to lose more American business than they’ll gain in Europe. After all, how many limp-wristed Democrats buy hogs?

Photo credit:  Drew Angerer/Getty Images

America • Defense of the West • EU • Europe • Germany • Identity Politics • Immigration • Post • Progressivism • The Culture

Ms. Merkel’s Malady: Migration

Germans like to apologize. During a brief trip to Munich last year, tensions between locals and newly arrived migrants often flared into fizzing commotions of swinging fists, splatting saliva, and the kind of primal chest-beating one cravenly enjoys from the safety of a Barcalounger and in high-definition on a screen, but rarely relishes up close and personal.

These little flare-ups were often followed by an apology from one of the bystanders. With misty eyes, they would insist with pure conviction that such violent incursions were rare. Yet the mea culpas always seemed artificial—almost rehearsed.

That’s not to judge an entire country on the witness of a few days. Anyone having visited Germany will remark on the conviviality of its people. Their dehydrated sense of humor. And their seeming genetic need to apologize for their part in the great staining of Western, and indeed, human history.

That stain is why Angela Merkel has opened the door to more than 1.5 million refugees since 2015. That stain is why Merkel is clinging to what was the sleepiest job in Europe.

Merkel’s Götterdämmerung means her 13-year tenure could end just months after securing, albeit desperately, her fourth term. Such a grandiloquent virtue-signal also led to the Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) gaining 13 percent of the vote before forming the official opposition. In Germany, this kind of thing doesn’t happen.

But she clings on. An uncharacteristic spat with German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer over the power to send back border-bestriding migrants already registered in other European Union states, dissolved into a belligerent simmer. Merkel now has two weeks to regroup.

The skirmish has rumbled the decades-old alliance between Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), led by Seehofer. Without his support, Merkel’s threadbare coalition will fall apart.

More pressing is October’s Bavarian elections, polling of which suggests the CSU could lose its majority, with defectors heading to the immigration hardliners of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. The alleged murder of a 14-year-old German girl at the hands of an Iraqi refugee has only turned up the burners.

Across the continent, the immigration issue plays kingmaker. Populists now helm Italy, Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. Not to mention the historically toxic Front National winning a third of the French vote, and Geert Wilders making big gains in liberal Holland. And don’t forget Brexit.

Adding to that, immigration, and terrorism, are now the top two concerns of voters in every country in the European Union.

What Border Blowback?
So when President Trump defended his zero-tolerance border stance in a tweet-attack on Angela Merkel this week, it is fair to say he had a point. Despite the relentlessly negative optics, this week’s controversy has no doubt played to the president’s favor.

Think of it. After luxuriating in their confected outrage, Democrats are now sobering up and having to hangover through an immigration debate thrust front and center. Their demands that the president “do something” are somewhat blunted after they refused to pitch in.

Trump gets that. Far from the “Katrina moment” media soothsayers have been predicting since he first rode down that escalator, the president has again played politics with surgical precision, deftly stretching the tensile strain to maximum, drawing Democrats into a fight they cannot win.  

After all, the president repeatedly said that he didn’t want families separated. He also said the United States isn’t a refugee camp—and the majority agrees. Having neutered the issue with an executive order, it’s advantage Trump.  

Democrats would rather keep it all schtum. And with good reason. A recent poll found 72 percent of Americans want legal immigration slashed.

Of course, the vast majority of Americans opposed the now-scotched policy of parent-child separation. The motivation to send one’s children trekking into a sandy searing heat could thaw the coldest heart. But “desperate” would be a charitable adjective.

Thousands of parents deem this journey one of necessity, and more importantly—reward.  President Obama’s 2012 decision to halt deportations of minor-aged illegals doubled (40,000 a year) the number arriving the next year as the incentive beamed above the Rio Grande twilight.   

Under President Trump, numbers taking the risk collapsed until word got around that tough rhetoric didn’t translate into action. But Trump isn’t Obama, so the longstanding reality of southern border chaos found a new film of enmity.   

Open Borders Would Be Catastrophic
If immigration policy is to be effective, it must—at a minimum—deter those who fancy their chances of bypassing America’s glutinous legal immigration system. After all, who doesn’t want to live in the United States of America?   

If the door were declared open, effectively infinite numbers would pass through its jamb. The result,  quite literally, would be devastating. Amidst the flak, Trump kept nailing this point.

Such a notion, however corrosive to cruel reality, animates Democrats and fills them with glee. Why beslime oneself with the rubes of the Rust Belt when new voters streaming across the border can be puttied into party lifers, with their own dependency-cage to boot?   

Images of distraught children in “cages” don’t sit well with anyone. But this ruthless truth is not new. Such chaos festering on the southern U.S. border has been ignored by both Republicans and Democrats since the 1990s. The former are happy to connive with their donors, and the latter happy to intrigue their evaporating base. One counts the votes, the other weighs the greenbacks.   

It would have been no different if Hillary Clinton was president. Yet, those “cages” would be described as “comfort enclosures,” if the media bothered at all.  Alas, Democratic tears would not well so indulgently if those arrivals were ready-made Republicans.

I suspect Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is privately disappointed this febrile saga was cut short by President Trump. Indeed, Democrats wouldn’t put their hands to a Senate measure to end this latest outrage because the self-indulgent optics is what they really care about.

Much like their March rejection of the president’s offer to triple the number of DACA recipients given amnesty, it turns out that action matters little. Syrupy sentimentality matters more.

Having abandoned the Bills and Betties of Fishtown, Democrats are held hostage by their open-borders radical base. Bedraggled with flawed fantasies of an emerging Democratic majority, they have no choice but to embrace a position crushing the larynx of their European cousins.  

That’s a lesson from which Democrats have learned less than zero. In Europe, the immigration issue decides who wins what. With 58 percent of Americans recently admitting illegal immigration worried them either a “great deal” or a “fair amount,” Democrats have shambled into a minefield.  

Perhaps it is too late for them to turn back. But, if they want to know where they’re headed, they should ask Angela Merkel. She’s driving.

2016 Election • America • civic culture/friendship • Cultural Marxism • Defense of the West • Donald Trump • Elections • EU • Europe • Germany • History • Immigration • Law and Order • military • NATO • political philosophy • Post • self-government • The Culture • The Left • The Resistance (Snicker)

The Trans-Atlantic Class Struggle

At the recent G7 summit, President Trump differed with the leaders of Britain, Germany, France and Canada on a host of issues. But the real reason why he and the leaders of longtime allied countries treated one another as enemies is that they belong to socio-political classes engaged in a cold war.

Since World War II, a remarkably uniform ruling class has grown throughout Western Europe as well as in the United States and Canada. It now occupies government bureaucracies, the media, education, big business, and international institutions as well as traditional political parties. Rebellious voters are besieging that class on both sides of the Atlantic. Prime Ministers Theresa May, Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, and Justin Trudeau represent that class. Their political forces have experienced narrow electoral escapes.

President Donald Trump and Italy’s newly installed PM Giuseppe Conte represent rebellious voters who have brought wholesale rejection of that class to their countries’ top office. Within these countries, the old ruling class refuses to accept electoral defeat. In waging this resistance, they find solidarity with their homologues from the Bering Straits to the Oder. What happened at the G7 was one instance of that struggle.

Herewith, an explanation of this dynamic.

As the size of the Western world’s economy has grown nearly nine-fold, the size of government more than doubled. By the hiring, regulations, contracts, and contacts through which they have steered trillions of dollars—even more successfully than they might have done through laws—the people in charge of Western governments have shaped their societies according to their preferences, foremost of which has been to accommodate and advance people like themselves.

In Europe and in America, as more and more activities, educational, commercial, etc. have come under government’s aegis, the boundary between public and private has faded. Already in his 1960 farewell, President Dwight Eisenhower thought it necessary to warn that connection to government was superseding even criteria of scientific truth.

In Europe even more than in America, politicians of the right and of the left gradually have grown into co-managers of a complex that is the writ-large version of themselves. These rulers’ principal feature is social, intellectual, and moral contempt for the ruled, national boundaries notwithstanding. A German bureaucrat or big business executive is likelier to think better of a Briton or an American in a similar position than of a fellow citizen of a station he views as inferior. The ruling class’s censorious identity and attitude is especially lethal to its leftist parties, which had relied on the votes of humble people.

In recent memory, Western societies (European far more than American) were divided into economic classes. But today, the growth of government and the effective merging of traditional parties has divided them all equally into the trans-nationally favored “ins” and the deplored “outs.”

Different party and electoral systems notwithstanding, revolt and resistance have followed parallel courses throughout the West. America’s looser system saw the first revolts: Barry Goldwater’s 1964 call for “a choice, not an echo” and George Wallace’s 1968 taunt that “there’s not a dime’s worth of difference” between the Republican and Democratic parties. Except for Ronald Reagan, he was right. Europe’s first attempt at revolt happened in Italy in 1994. A petitioned referendum had killed the traditional parties. But, led by Silvio Berlusconi, mainstream politicians’ common socio-political culture reasserted itself. By 2008 however, the ruling class’s handling of the financial crisis and of mass illegal migration, along with its dismissal of traditional cultural concerns, definitively alienated it from the voters on both sides of the Atlantic and spurred them to find ways of saying NO.

In the U.S. voters gave Republicans big majorities in House and Senate as well as in most state governments, while letting them know that they were on short leashes. In 2016 they pulled the leash, defied both parties’ establishments, the media, etc. and elected Donald Trump because he was the most undeniably anti-establishment candidate out there.

In Europe, almost contemporaneously, the British people defied the same class and voted to leave the European Union. In France the establishment candidate in the presidential elections’ first round, Macron, got less than one percent of the vote more than Marine Le Pen, against whom all its forces were directed. In Germany, the members of Merkel’ coalition were reduced to historic lows. In all cases, voters’ distrust for the establishment has continued to rise. In Italy, where collusion between traditional right and left had thwarted election results, the five-star party got 32% on the slogan “vaffanculo,” and the Center-Right Alliance, led by the Northern League got 37%. They formed the government that sent Giuseppe Conte to the G-7 meeting, where he found himself on the same side as Donald Trump.

Tangential to our discussion of the G-7 but essential to our general point is that the countries of Eastern Europe—principally, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic—have voted out of office their local versions of the Euro-American ruling class for the same reasons that class is being opposed throughout the West: their regulations, emanating from the EU,  deprive the people of self government and do more harm than good, their cultural influences rob the people of their past while, their patronage of Third World migrants robs the people of a future. The ruling class’s resistance to the Eastern countries’ electoral choices differs in the tools but is essentially the same as what it deploys against those who voted for Brexit, for Trump, in Italy’s latest election, and those who, soon, might throw out Mrs. Merkel and others like her.

That resistance refuses to acknowledge that “the people” have really rejected the ruling class. Rejecting them for any rational principle, they say, is impossible. Voters were deceived. Maybe by the Russians. Certainly by appeals to the worst of sentiments by the worst of people. Hence this rejection violates democracy, liberal principles, and the rule of law. We who are the guardians of all the above cannot and will not accept this. We who hold positions of authority  will not recognize these election results as legitimate, and will treat those elected as usurpers.The rule of law is rule by institutions. We control them, and will use them to deny the usurpers’ legitimacy.

We predict that attempts to reject us will have harsh consequences, and we will do our best to mete out those consequences. If the usurpers (by which, remember, they mean the majority of the people) try to unseat us, we will charge despotism, and try to convince the voters they made a mistake. We recognize that the voters are not qualified to judge us, and that it is problematic for us to denigrate them while asking for their votes. But we rely on our dominance of the media and state institutions to square this circle by intimidating first the people whom the voters elect, and then the voters themselves.

All of the above is why Donald Trump’s dismissive attitude toward May, Macron, Merkel, and Trudeau at the G-7 meeting frightened them far more than his vague references to tariffs. He and Mr. Conte, not being intimidated, thus encouraged their publics—and the British, French, German, and Canadian as well—to further disrespect the trans-Atlantic ruling class.

Photo credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images

America • Americanism • Center for American Greatness • Deep State • Donald Trump • EU • Europe • Featured Article • Foreign Policy • Middle East • military • political philosophy • Progressivism • The Left • The Leviathian State

The Dream and the Nightmare of Globalization

After World War II, only the United States possessed the capital, the military, freedom, and the international good will to arrest the spread of global Stalinism. To save the fragile postwar West, America was soon willing to rebuild and rearm war-torn former democracies. Over seven decades, it intervened in proxy wars against Soviet and Chinese clients, and radical rogue regimes. It accepted asymmetrical and unfavorable trade as the price of leading and saving the West. America became the sole patron for dozens of needy clients—with no time limit on such asymmetry.

Yet what would become the globalized project was predicated on lots of flawed, but unquestioned assumptions:

The great wealth and power of the United States was limitless. It alone could afford to subsidize other nations. Any commercial or military wound was always considered superficial and well worth the cost of protecting the civilized order.

Only by piling up huge surpluses with the United States and avoiding costly defense expenditure through American military subsidies, could the shattered nations of Asia and Europe supposedly regain their security, prosperity and freedom. There was no shelf life on such dependencies.

American popular culture, democracy, and free-market consumer capitalism would spread beyond the West. It created a new world order of sameness and harmony—predicated on the idea that the United States must ensure, at great costs, free trade, free commerce, free travel, and free communications in a new interconnected global world. The more American largess, the more likely places from Shanghai to Lagos would eventually operate on the premises of Salt Lake City or Los Angeles. The world would inevitably reach the end of history as something like Palo Alto, the Upper West Side, or Georgetown.

Open borders would draw into America—and later Europe and the former British Commonwealth—the world’s poor, uneducated, and dispossessed, who would become model citizens and reinforce the global resonance of the West. Although many of the liberal architects of diversity did not welcome political diversity at all, and sought to avoid the ramifications of their ideas in the concrete, nonetheless the borders of the West became and stayed open. An orthodoxy arose that it was racist, xenophobic, or nativist to question illegal, mass, non-diverse, and non-meritocratic immigration into the West. Ideas that mass illegal immigration undercut citizen workers, drove down wages, and negatively affected the citizen poor were derided as cheap bias and ignorance.

The end result of the last seven decades was a far more prosperous world of 7.6 billion than was ever thought imaginable. Stalin’s nightmare collapsed. So did Mao’s—sort of. Radical Islam was checked. The indigent in the Amazon Basin got access to eyeglasses. Amoxicillin made its way into Chad. And Beyoncé could be heard in Montenegro. The impoverished from Oaxaca became eligible for affirmative action the moment they crossed the U.S. border. Europe no longer tore itself apart every 20-50 years.

But soon a number of contradictions in the global order became self-evident. Consumer quasi-capitalism not only did not always lead to democracy and consensual government. Just as often, it enhanced and enriched authoritarianism.

Democracy and referenda became suspect, the moody fickleness of those who did not know what was good for them.

Nations subsidized by the United States often resented their patron. Often out of envy elites embraced anti-Americanism as a secular religion. Sometimes in the case of Europe, America was faulted either for having in the past defeated a European nation or from saving it from defeat.

The global cop, patron, market—call it what you will—was resented as not good because it was not perfect. The world’s loud second greatest wish was to topple U.S. hegemony; its first quiet desire was to ensure that America—and not a Russia, China, or the Middle East—remained the global policeman.

America itself split in two. In reductionist terms, those who did well by running the global show—politicians, bureaucrats of the expanding federal administrative octopus, coastal journalists, the professionals of the high tech, finance, insurance and investment industries, entertainers, universities—all assumed that their first-world skills could not be replicated by aspiring populations in the Third World.

In contrast, those who did things that could be done more cheaply abroad—due to inexpensive labor and an absence of most government safety, environmental, and financial regulation—were replicated and soon made redundant at home: factory workers, manufacturers, miners, small retailers and farmers and anyone else whose job was predicated on muscular labor.

A Brave, New Postmodern America
Globalization became a holistic dogma, a religion based on the shared assumptions: man-made global warming required radical changes in the world economy. Racism, sexism and other pathologies were largely the exclusive wages of the West that required material and psychological reparations. Immigration from non-West to West was a global birthright. State socialism was preferable to free-market capitalism. Those whose jobs were outsourced and shipped abroad were themselves deemed culpable, given their naiveté in assuming that building a television set in Ohio or farming 100 acres in Tulare was as valuable as designing an app in Menlo Park or managing a hedge fund in Manhattan.

The logic was that anything foreigners could not do as well as Americans was sacred and proof of U.S. intelligence and savvy. Anything that foreigners could do as well as Americans was confirmation that some Americans were third-world relics in a brave new postmodern America.

Crazy things followed from the gospel of Americanized globalism. Language, as it always does in times of upheaval, changed to fit new political orthodoxies. “Free” trade now meant that Beijing could expropriate technology from American businesses in China. Under free trade, dumping was tolerable for China, but a mortal sin for America. Vast trade deficits were redefined as meaningless and the talking points of empty-headed populists. Only America believed in free and fair trade; most everyone else in mercantilism.

“Protectionism” was a pejorative for those who believed that a retaliatory United States might emulate the trade practices of those “free” traders who piled up surpluses. For example, to copy the mercantilism of a China, Germany, or Japan would be castigated as mindless protectionism.

“Nativism” did not refer to the highly restrictive and ethnically chauvinistic immigration policies of a Japan, China, or Mexico, but only to the United States, given that it occasionally pondered recalibrating open borders and requiring legality before entering the country

“Isolationist” was a charge leveled at Americans who thought rich economies like those in Germany could afford to spend two percent of their annual GDP on defense, about half of what Americans routinely did. Not intervening in nihilist civil wars, or assuming that NATO nations needed to keep their promises, was the proof of the isolationist mind.

Failed Promises
The winners of globalization—the universities, financial powerhouses, the federal government, big tech, and the marquee media and entertainment outlets—were mostly located on the two coasts. Their dogmas became institutionalized as the gospel of higher education, the evening news, the Internet and social media.

Unfortunately, globalization otherwise did not deliver as promised. Half of the United States and Europe did not enjoy the advantages of the universal project. They found the disappearance of a good job not worth the upside of using Facebook or downloading videos. It was hard to see how someone in rural Pennsylvania or in West Virginia benefitted by knowing the most of the world’s Internet technologies were now American. It was nice having Amazon deliver goods to the front door, but one still had to have the money to pay for them. The logic of bombing Libya or fighting a 17-year-old civil war in Afghanistan was a hard sell.

The credentialed and expert had allowed North Korea to point ballistic missiles at the United States. The best and brightest forged a deal with Iran that would ensure it too would become nuclear—and then jawboned banks to violate U.S. law to allow Iran to convert its once embargoed currency into Western money.    

Most of the globalized commandments turned out to be empty. A trade-cheating ascendant China did not become democratic in its affluence. Iran still hated the Great Satan, the more so, the more concessions were given to it. The Palestinian question is no more central to the Middle East peace than the Middle East is central to world peace. There is no such thing as “peak oil” for the foreseeable future.

Jeans, t-shirts, and cool did not mean that the lifestyles and mindsets of a Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos were any different from their kindred spirits of the past—J. P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, or Jay Gould. What we call globalization our ancestors called monopolies, trusts, and disdain for national sovereignty.

Globalization’s Cynical Laws
The entire alphabet soup of Western-inspired globalization—the EU, the United Nations, the World Bank, the WTO—did not quite end up as anticipated. Their shared creed is not the fulfillment of their originally envisioned missions, but to protect an international cadre who run them, and to ensure that any who question their missions are branded as heretics.

In sum, globalization rested on a few cynical laws: those who drafted globalized rules for others had the resources to navigate around them. Talking about abstract cosmic challenges—world peace, cooling the planet, lowering the seas—were mere ways to square the circle of being unable to solve concrete problems from war to poverty. The world’s middle classes lacked the romance of the poor and the tastes of the elites and thus were usually in the crosshairs of any global initiative. Loud progressivism was a good cloak to hide quietly cashing in. Most wished to live in a Western or Westernized country; those who could not, hated both. Degrees and credentials were substitutes for classical and traditional wisdom and knowledge.

But the nexus of expertise—marquee journalists and pundits, academics, five-term politicians—really had few answers for current chaos. They were stunned that their polls were wrong in 2016, that their expertise was unwanted in 2017, and their venom was ignored in 2018—and the world all the while could go on better than before.

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Photo credit: Bandar Algaloud/Saudi Royal Council—Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

America • Center for American Greatness • Defense of the West • Economy • EU • Europe • Foreign Policy • Immigration • Middle East • Post • Religion of Peace • Terrorism • The Culture • The Left • The Media

Behold, the New World Order

Last summer, I had just arrived in Germany and was settling in at my family’s home when news of a yet another Muslim attack flashed across our television screen.

The murderer, a 26-year-old Palestinian, had walked into a grocery store minutes from where I was sitting, plucked a knife from a shelf, and stabbed to death a random German shopper while shouting praises to Allah. Six more Germans were wounded before the attack ended.

German media, of course, were quick to show footage of a few refugee bystanders who assailed the attacker with chairs until police arrived. Before German politicos could fully celebrate the “good refugees” and play down yet another incident of Muslim-on-Westerner violence, an Iraqi man gunned down the doorman of a nightclub in Konstanz, nine hours away from where the German shopper had been murdered, then proceeded to shoot into the disco with an automatic weapon.

European media assured the public that the shooter was in fact not an asylum seeker, but rather an Iraqi citizen who was “believed to have lived in Germany for a long time” and that the shooting was unrelated to Islam. Here the spin inadvertently confirmed that people from the Islamic world aren’t assimilating into the West. Of much less concern, however, was how the shooter managed to smuggle an automatic weapon into a country with strict gun control.

Tolerance and Diversity vs. Reality
This is the new norm in Europe. So frequent have these incidents become, that only the worst of them make the news. Germans, like many Europeans, are becoming acclimated to Islamic aggression. Yet still, as the bodies of Germany’s murdered children wash up on the shores of its rivers, Angela Merkel recites shibboleths of tolerance and diversity. Indeed, despite the daily crimes of Muslim refugees, a massive “eco-friendly”
mosquepaid for in part by taxpayersis to be built in my family’s little stadt. It’s wind turbine minarets will tower over all the nearby Christian places of worship.

Elsewhere, Canadian combat veteran Brock Blaszczyk confronts Justin Trudeau over the government’s taxpayer-funded program to welcome home and “rehabilitate” Muslims who went to fight under the banner of the Islamic State. Blaszczyk is one of many veterans locked in a battle with Trudeau’s government over compensation they are owed for their military service.

“You have ISIS members coming into a reintegration program. You did a backdoor deal with Omar Khadr with not even stepping into a courtroom,” charged Blaszczyk. “My question is: what veterans were you talking about?” asked Blaszczyk. “Was it the ones that fought for the freedoms and values that you so proudly boast about? Or was it the ones who fought against?”

Trudeau’s answer was one for the ages: “Why are we still fighting against certain veterans’ groups in court? Because they are asking for more than we are able to give right now,” said Trudeau. Blaszczyk gave his leg in Afghanistan to a roadside bomb, yet Trudeau admonishes him and other wounded warriors for “asking for more” than Trudeau’s government is able to give. This comes from the same man who claims President Trump’s tariffs are an “affront to the thousands of Canadians who have fought and died alongside their American brothers in arms.” Trudeau’s government, his personal conduct, and his impotent kowtowing to Islamists are all affronts to those men at arms.

A World in Peril
In the wake of recent events at the G7 summit, Karen DeYoung 
writes for the Washington Post that in President Trump, some fear the end of “the world order” is nigh. “When does a feud become a separation? A separation a divorce? When do arguments, sharp-tongued put-downs and perceived betrayal among allies become the collapse of the Western-dominated order that has ruled the world, under U.S. leadership, for the past seven decades?”

DeYoung’s concern for the West appears in the same publication that claims Aristotle was a proto-white nationalist and therefore the embrace of Western Civilization has a “chilling edge” akin to Nazism. Like so many things, the West is, as far as the Left is concerned, an abstraction that remains so until it is assigned meaning for political expediency.

Who are these guardians of the West we fear Trump will lay low? Merkel and Trudeau? No, history will remember these two as heads of state who placed their countries on paths to civilizational suicide. Surely it is not France, whose president has declared: “There is not no [sic] such thing as French culture.”

When Poland, Italy, Hungary, and Austria, rise up against unelected bureaucrat kings by force of popular will to protect their borders and identities as Western societies, yet all are condemned as “illiberal” and “undemocratic,” what then is “Western” about the “Western-dominated order”? It would therefore be more accurate to regard the current order as leftist-dominated. At the intersection of the leftist worldview and world governments, we find fundamentally anti-Western politics.

This being the case, nothing could better ensure the survival of the West than the destruction or dramatic shakeup of present world order. It is doubtful that the events of G7 will soon result in the killing blow that the leftist world order deserves. But it doesn’t hurt to grind the ax.

Photo credit: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images

America • Americanism • Asia • China • Donald Trump • Economy • EU • Europe • Foreign Policy • Germany • Post • The Media • Trade

Trump is Right: G7 Needs a Wake-Up Call on Trade

The recent meeting of the G7 leaders in La Malbaie, Quebec ended dramatically, with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau harshly criticizing U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum and threatening to retaliate. President Trump then instructed U.S. negotiators not to sign the communique that group members issued at the conclusion of the summit.

Predictably, global elitists have reacted with the usual horror, and expressed their customary disdain for Trump. According to the New York Times, we are witnessing a “slow-rolling collapse” of our “fragile alliances.” Trump is frivolously up-ending the global order, we are told, and alienating countries that traditionally have been our closest friends and partners. The talking heads may have backed off on their threats of apocalyptic “trade wars” (perhaps because strong economic growth rates and the ongoing buoyancy of the stock market make their predictions of doom seem laughable), but they are still clutching at the idea that we are witnessing a “fundamental” shift in the prestige and influence of the United States, and a steady worsening of our relationships with almost all civilized countries. There is even talk that the G7 has become the “G6+1” as America goes it alone.

The problem is these arguments are entirely self-serving, insofar as the global elite always chafes at the effrontery of populists like President Trump, and it invariably seeks to defend its own privileges and prerogatives by labeling all criticism of the established international economic order “protectionist” or “isolationist.” In fact, seldom do the elitists even bother to address the substantive complaints made by Trump (and others like him) about the unfairness of existing trade dealsthey simply wag their collective finger at anyone boorish enough to question the present regime of “free trade.”

Trading relationships should be susceptible to criticism and revision, however, and when the people of a sovereign state vote to empower a new leader who embodies such criticism and reformist zeal, his election should have consequences. The elite talks as if the vicissitudes of something as shabby as democracy should be divorced from our sacred trade agreements. Nonsense!

Turns out, G7 members are targeting their retaliatory tariffs against U.S. industries and enterprises concentrated in states that voted for Donald Trump. In other words, they seek to manipulate democracy itself and foster political headaches for those who dare to question the world order. So much for Russians trying to influence our elections. In reality, we have more to worry about from the French and the Canadians! This is simply outrageous, and it ought to raise the hackles of any American patriot.

Doing a Service
The idea that President Trump is doing permanent damage to our relations with our traditional allies flies in the face of the mountain of evidence that Trump has formed productive, respectful working relationships with numerous world leaders, from President Emmanuel Macron of France to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan. Moreover, we should keep in mind that our ties with other powerful, wealthy nations are always troubled by tensions and disagreements, and, in the post-World War II era as a whole, many of these differences of opinion have been far more serious and dangerous than the current spat over trade barriers. Lest we forget, Messrs. Trump and Trudeau are duking it out largely over the price of milk. It seems unlikely that U.S.-Canada relations will be scarred permanently by so trivial a dispute.

Lastly, the critique of Trump’s performance at the G7 summit is misplaced because Trump is actually doing both the American people and the citizens of all the G7 nations a great service: he is drawing attention to the deficiencies of past trade agreements—deficiencies that have in many cases cost jobs, shuttered factories, and abetted many a populist backlash against elitist economic manipulation. Trump does so not because he wishes to curtail trade, but in order to build it on a sounder basis. Trump has made it abundantly clear that he supports free trade, but not biased trade deals that require openness on the part of some and allow tariff and non-tariff barriers for others.

How About Real Free Trade?
The truth is that the leaders of the international economic order have long lived a lie: they pantomime unfailing devotion to “free trade,” while at the same time overtly and covertly carving out exceptions for their preferred industries. The result is a half-hearted form of free trade that rewards sly negotiation and punishes naïve idealism. As Trump suggests, all too often it is the United States that has been the most naïve, accepting a trading regime that imposes massive trade deficits and costs millions of jobs.

In 2014, the United States had a $142 billion trade deficit with the countries of the European Union, and a $35 billion deficit with Canada. Essentially no one believes that this is because American companies can’t compete with their overseas rivals—it is instead manipulative, predatory trade practices that explain the imbalance. Why, then, should the United States not try to re-balance this equation in its own interests?

More broadly, though, will it not benefit all the nations concerned if we find a new formula for trade that limits job losses and de-industrialization, and that finds favor with voters anxious about their economic futures?

To achieve such a trading rapprochement, the United States even should be willing to make concessions of its own. After all, we too are sometimes guilty of using subsidies and non-tariff barriers to insulate our industries from foreign competition. If G7 countries believe their own rhetoric about free trade, surely they will be willing to meet us halfway and cooperate in the elimination of surviving trade barriers . . . unless, that is, they prefer to thumb their noses at Donald Trump on principle. Some principle, though!

The Choice Before the Globalists
In the end, for seeking the amelioration of a broken trading system, Trump should not be seen as an enemy of the established order, but rather as its would-be savior. His suggestion to his fellow leaders in Quebec that ideally he would like to see the elimination of all tariffs throughout the G7 economies is a testament to his dedication to the principle of free trade, and his belief in the transformative power of capitalist competition and development. The fact that Trump is clear-eyed about the pressing need for reform in our trading relationships makes him a realist, yes, but not the protectionist boogeyman that the mainstream media, and its international fellow-travelers, portray.

The truth is that the global economic elite faces a choice: take Trump (and the tens of millions of voters he represents) seriously, and repair and refit the damaged infrastructure of “free trade,” or mock and ignore him, ensuring that the wave of economic resentment and protectionist sentiment that seemingly has been cresting for years now will build into a true tsunami.

In that case, the global bigwigs may someday look back and say, “Donald Trump? He was the least of our problems.”

Photo credit: China News Service/VCG via Getty Images

America • China • Donald Trump • Economy • EU • Europe • Foreign Policy • GOPe • Libertarians • Post • Trade

No, Tariffs Are Not ‘Domestic Sanctions’

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) is not democratic—it’s barely even a republic. The same goes for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos).

In fact, if a country includes democratic in its name, you can safely assume that it’s not democratic. This is a classic example of, what I like to call, the wisdom of irony: things are often not what they claim to be, and the more they claim, the less they are.

Consider Reason Magazine. In a recent piece, columnist A. Barton Hinkle argues that tariffs are sanctions, since both limit imports into nations. Basically, Hinkle’s argument rests on the classic logical principle: “if it looks like a duck, it’s a duck.” Unfortunately, Hinkle’s conclusion is fundamentally unreasonable. As always, the Devil’s in the details—details which he conveniently ignores.

Strength Through Adversity
Hinkle begins with a hubristic bang:

No one would ever accuse Donald Trump of meticulous adherence to the rules of formal logic. But even the president ought to realize the strongest argument against Trump’s tariffs on American imports has been made by Trump himself.

Trump’s implied “argument” runs as follows: both sanctions and tariffs restrict imports to the targeted nation. Therefore, since sanctions harm foreign nations (like Iran), then tariffs should likewise harm America. Basically, Hinkle thinks sanctions are tariffs, and tariffs are sanctions.

Hinkle then brands yours truly as one of “Trump’s cheerleaders” for making the rather obvious point that technology drives economic growth, and moving technology-generating industries abroad will slow domestic economic growth. This point is axiomatic and not open to debate. I suspect this is why Hinkle avoids addressing my argument entirely, and instead turns to sophistry, reframing the debate by conflating sanctions and tariffs.

Hinkle’s first mistake is to assume that sanctions cause harm. Often, they don’t. Instead, minor sanctions routinely trigger hormetic responses, causing economic growth. This is because the economy is an organic system, which benefits from stress (to a point) due to the principle of overcompensation. Just as muscles get stronger in response to the stress of lifting weights, or forests grow lusher in the wake of forest fires, economies get more productive when times get tough (but not too tough).

For example, Great Britain’s Industrial Revolution would likely have been stillborn if not for the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. Were it not for the labor shortage caused by war, there would have been far less demand for the productivity-boosting machinery that created the modern world. Likewise, Napoleon’s blockade of the British Isle forced Britain to become economically independent, rather than relying on imports from the Netherlands and Hanseatic States. This greatly diversified Britain’s economy and opened up additional development paths. Were it not for these stressors, steam technology could have been abandoned in favor of human labor—just as it was in Ancient Greece, Rome, and China.

Of course, sanctions can also be damaging—but only when the damage they cause exceeds the economy’s ability to (over)compensate. Consider Britain’s blockade of the German Empire in World War I. Perhaps the chief reason Germany lost was that it lacked rubber (most of which came from Anglo-French Siam). Without rubber, the Germans couldn’t build conveyor belts, many vital industrial components, and—most importantly—tires. No rubber, no industry.

There are two lessons here. First, Britain’s rubber sanctions worked only because Germany’s economy was unable to compensate fast enough. Second, Germany’s economy did compensate to some degree: the Germans invented a way to make synthetic rubber. Although this technology did not arrive in time to save Germany’s immediate war effort, it did make them immune to Britain’s rubber blockade in World War II. Overcompensation did occur, and it did make Germany stronger in the long run. So did Britain’s rubber sanctions work? Yes and no: it depends on the time-horizon.

My point here is that when debating, never accept your opponent’s presumptions without careful consideration. Hinkle’s argument only makes sense if you agree that sanctions are always bad for the sanctioned—this isn’t true. Sanctions only produce harm past a certain tipping point, otherwise they tend to stimulate economic growth. This same logic applies to tariffs.

There is wisdom in the Old English proverb: necessity is the mother of invention.

A Dam is Not a Wall
Let’s assume that everything I’ve said until now is false and that when America imposes sanctions they always harm our opponents. Would this vindicate Hinkle? No.

Long run economic growth depends upon technological growth—not free trade, not immigration, not low taxes, etc. Technology is the only factor that matters: it’s what separates the West from the rest, and ourselves from our ancestors (economically speaking). Understanding this is the key to understanding why tariffs won’t hurt America in the same way sanctions hurt Iran.

America invents technology and generates knowledge—America is at the cutting-edge of science. This is good, because it means we reap the lion’s share of profits from new discoveries, while everyone else plays catch-up. So long as America stays at the cutting-edge, we will remain the world’s richest nation.

However, many of America’s most advanced industries are currently moving abroad to save money. After all, labor is cheaper in India, and China’s government provides generous subsidies for American firms to relocate. This is a problem, because it decreases the likelihood that the next paradigm-shifting technology will be invented in America. By increasing import costs, tariffs prevent American companies from leaving, thus “locking-in” our advantage.

Tariffs are best viewed as a dam, keeping America’s economic advantage from flowing away.

On the other hand, sanctions are best viewed as a wall, preventing American technology from flowing into less advanced nations. Take Cuba, for example. Cuba is a technological backwater—something like a poverty-stricken 1950s movie set. Since they cannot generate their own new technology, they rely on imported technology. No imports, no economic growth. The same thing applies to Iran (to a lesser degree).

Hinkle and the rest of the free trade brigade fail to recognize this rather obvious asymmetry: Cuba needs America, but America does not need Cuba. Thus, American sanctions will harm Cuba, but American tariffs on Cuban goods will not harm America. It’s a one-way street. In fact, tariffs will actually benefit America’s economy by providing a minor stressor that triggers a hormetic response and discourages America’s advanced industries from offshoring.

That Hinkle and the editors at Reason would unreasonably confuse tariffs with sanctions is not surprising—after all, there is a wisdom in irony.

Photo credit: iStock/Getty Images

America • Defense of the West • EU • Europe • History • Post • self-government • The Culture

Europe’s Vanishing Calm

AVIGNON, France—The Rhone River Valley in southern France is a storybook marriage of high technology, traditional vineyards, and ancestral villages. High-speed trains and well-designed toll roads crisscross majestic cathedrals, castles, and chateaus.

Traveling in a Europe at peace these days evokes both historical and literary allusions. As with the infrastructure and engineering of the late Roman Empire right before its erosion, the Continent rests at its pinnacle of technological achievement.

There is a Roman Empire-like sameness throughout Europe in fashion, popular culture and government protocol—a welcome change from the deadly fault lines of 1914 and 1939.

Yet, as in the waning days of Rome, there is a growing uncertainty beneath the European calm.

The present generation has inherited the physical architecture and art of a once-great West—cathedrals, theaters, and museums. But it seems to lack the confidence that it could ever create the conditions to match, much less exceed, such achievement.

The sense of depression in Europe reminds one of novelist J.R.R. Tolkien’s description of the mythical land of Gondor in his epic fantasy “The Lord of the Rings.” Gondor’s huge walls, vaunted traditions, and rich history were testaments that it once served as a bulwark of a humane Middle-earth.

But by the novel’s time, the people of Gondor had become militarily and spiritually enfeebled by self-doubt, decades of poor governance, depopulation and indifference, paradoxically brought on by wealth and affluence.

Europeans are similarly confused about both their past and present. They claim to be building a new democratic culture. But the governing elites of the European Union prefer fiats to plebiscites. They are terrified of popular protest movements. And they consider voters little more than members of reckless mobs that cannot properly be taught what is good for them.

Free speech is increasingly problematic. It is more dangerous for a European citizen publicly to object to illegal immigration than for a foreigner to enter Europe illegally.

Elites preach the idea of open borders. But people on the street concede that they have no way of assimilating millions of immigrants from the Middle East into European culture. Most come illegally, en masse, and without the education or skills to integrate successfully.

Oddly, less wealthy Central and Eastern Europeans are more astutely skeptical of mass immigration than wealthier but less rational Western Europeans.

Europeans claim to believe in democratic redistribution, but apparently not on an international level. They are torn apart over a poorer Mediterranean Europe wishing to share in the lifestyles of their northern cousins without necessarily emulating the latter’s discipline and work ethic.

Germany wishes to be the good leader that can live down its past by virtue-signaling its tolerance. Yet Berlin does so in an overbearing, almost traditional Prussian fashion. It rams down the throat of its neighbors its politically correct policies on Middle Eastern immigration, mandatory green energy, virtual disarmament, mercantilist trade and financial bailouts. Rarely has such a socialist nation been so hyper-capitalist and chauvinist in piling up trade surpluses.

The world quietly assumes that the rich and huge European Union cannot and will not do much about unscrupulous Chinese trade practices, radical Islamic terrorism, or Iranian and North Korean nuclear proliferation.

Such problems are left to the more uncouth Americans. That unspoken dependency might explain why many Europeans quietly concede that the hated Donald Trump’s deterrent foreign policy and his economic growth protocols could prove in the long term a better deal for Europe than were the beloved Barack Obama’s lead-from-behind and redistributionist agendas.

The European Union’s sole reason to be is to avoid a repeat of the disastrous 20th century, in which many millions of Europeans were slaughtered in world wars, death camps, and the great communist terror in Russia.

Yet paradoxically, the European reaction to the gory past often results in an extreme Western sybaritic lifestyle that in itself leads to decline.

European religion has been recalibrated into a secular and agnostic political correctness. Child-raising, if done, is often a matter of having one child in one’s late 30s. Buying a home and getting a job depend more on government ministries than on individual daring and initiative.

Yet the more credible European lesson from the last century’s catastrophes is that too few 20th-century European democracies stayed militarily vigilant. In the 1930s, too few of them felt confident enough in Western democratic values to confront existential dangers in their infancy like Hitler and Stalin.

Atheistic nihilism and a soulless modernism—not religious piety and a reverence for custom and tradition—fueled German and Italian fascism and Russian communism.

Contrary to politically correct dogma, Christianity, military deterrence, democracy and veneration of a unique past did not destroy Europe.

Instead, the culprit of European decline was the very absence of such ancient values—both then and now.

(C) 2018 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

TOPSHOT – A mural by British artist Banksy, depicting a workman chipping away at one of the stars on a European Union (EU) themed flag, is pictured in Dover, south east England on March 19, 2018. Photo credit:  DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images

Defense of the West • Elections • EU • Europe • Post • self-government • The Left

The Italian Establishment’s Coming Crash

After a political saga an Italian newspaper compared to a “Monty Python” sketch, Italian populists have cobbled together a government the Financial Times likens to “Modern Barbarians.” All good, then.

The heady brew of alt-Left Five Star and hard-Right Lega forms Western Europe’s first unabashedly populist government at the beating heart of Western civilization.

A tempestuous March election, then months of wrangling, eventually led to an arranged marriage of populist Lleft and Right—both are united in their muted disdain for the European Union, and the beggarly Euro currency responsible for 20 years of stagnation.

Last weekend, the Five Star-Lega coalition looked set for power, until Italian elites shot down their attempts to form a government after objecting to the populists’ pick for finance minister.

Paolo Savona, an economist hostile to the Euro, was vetoed by Italian prime minister Sergio Mattarella who decided markets knew best. Popular newspaper La Stampa said the fiasco could have been plucked from “Monty Python.”

In a nutshell: Mattarella banjaxed Savona, who fell on top of the proposed coalition’s prime ministerial candidate, Giuseppe Conte, only for him to be replaced by establishment and former International Monetary Fund official Carlo Cottarelli—known affectionately as “Mr. Scissors” for his budget-slashing penchant—who was cobbling together a technocratic government ahead of new impasse-breaking elections to be held in August. Then new talks had a breakthrough on Thursday night. Savona could now end up European affairs minister, while Giovanni Tria, a little-known economics professor, would helm the finance job.

The Five Star-Lega coalition, if you’re still following, will now go ahead. A “panino con zuppa,” said a Sicilian friend.

Over the weekend, Italian elites had seemed content with blocking the populist coalition and installing their favored pro-EU panjandrums to run the country, an attitude typified by Guenther Oettinger, the EU’s budget commissioner, who suggested market turmoil would “teach the Italians to not vote for populists.”

The meek elite revolt lasted a few days, until snap polls showed Italians, already incandescent, would happily return the barbarians to office with even weightier numbers—a ruthless truth from which perhaps #TheResistance could glean a morsel of sense.

That was indeed a wise move. Any new election would have been a de facto referendum on the Euro currency immiserating Europe’s fourth-largest economy. Italy hasn’t grown in two decades, leaving Italians mired and without the mithridate of devaluation to cure their ills. Leaving the Euro, as nosediving markets this week showed, surely would have spelled the end of Italy’s membership in the already besieged EU.

Adding to Brexit, the European Union now has a government hostile to its very marrow, parked in the power center of one of its founding, and once most fervent, member countries.

After all, EU values have been rejected wholeheartedly by half of Italians, and the “disease” of populism doesn’t stop there. Italian elites, ventriloquized by their EU brothers-in-arms, have serious problems ahead.

A major YouGov study of 11,000 people found that in nine of 11 European countries, immigration and terrorism were the top two concerns of voters—areas in which the EU founders most drastically. In Spain and Italy, those polled said unemployment concerned them more than terrorism, with immigration the top concern.

Half of all those polled felt “concerned” about immigration, with two-thirds of Germans agreeing and three-quarters of French, Greeks, and Italians nodding in unison.

Given that asylum applications have increased five-fold since 2008, and with much of Western Europe blemished by 60 or so attacks by radical Islamic terrorists in the last few years, the gangrene creeps kneeward.

Adding to the tumult, incoming Italian populists plan to do what they promised during the campaign.

Lega’s Matteo Salvini, a Trump-like figure with a molto simpatico palatable to the kinds of voters President Trump sadly repels, is likely to become interior minister. His promise to deport a half-million illegal aliens could start in earnest. Posting a video on social media on Thursday, Salvini decried the image of an apparent migrant plucking a pigeon on the streets—“Go home!” was the tag.

So the death of populism was greatly exaggerated. The winning formula is simple: promise a more sensible immigration policy, place denizens over data, question the bankrupt markets über alles, and most people will agree with you.

As President Trump found, wage-killing open-borders is not too popular with ordinary folks who are already struggling. In the UK, too, Brexit would have remained the nocturnal fantasy of policy wonks if not for the promise of taking back control of the country’s borders being placed invitingly center stage.

Elites across Europe and the United States  refuse to heed the convulsions all around them,preferring to ignore, brand, deride, and mock those lacking letters. But those unfashionables get to vote, and they’re not impressed, as the quivering Italian establishment has found out.

Photo credit: Salvatore Laporta/KONTROLAB /LightRocket via Getty Images

America • Democrats • Donald Trump • Elections • EU • Europe • Greatness Agenda • Identity Politics • political philosophy • Post • Progressivism • Republicans • The Left • The Media • The Resistance (Snicker)

Feeling Berned in Budapest

During a recent trip to Budapest, I met an American liberal who took just 47 minutes to tell me to go and screw myself. Well, she dressed that suggestion in more forceful garb, I’ll admit.

The triggering of such familiar vitriol was innocent enough. I “deceived” her, she said. She was “so mad right now!” her face writhing, china-white teeth sharpening into fangs, fingers tightened around her empty glass. Thankfully, the seething Jewish Quarter muffled her gratuitous lavishing of the unrepeatable curse word.

Anyway, she started it.

Taking heed of the age-old advice to never discuss politics or religion where alcohol flows, my lips did not separate until my American disposable friend felt the need, confession booth-style, to insist that President Trump, or “Cheeto Hitler” as she called him, was not her president.

“What policies of his do you oppose?” I enquired.

“Like, all of them,” she replied. “Every. Single. One.”

Suspicious of nonsense, I pressed, carefully grafting Bernie Sanders onto candidate Trump’s campaign rally superhits. They’re not too dissimilar, after all.

To each one, my Millennial friend nodded and hummed, the havoc inside her brain dissolving.

The big reveal, as satisfying as it was, sparked a confined pandemonium. I’d seen this phenomenon on YouTube countless times, but, in the flesh? Illuminating.

If you’re somewhat concerned about the Millennial’s welfare, she eventually recovered from my armchair Freudian attempt at what therapists (a growth sector, no doubt) call “exposure therapy.”

This kind of behavior is sadly common among Millennials. Yet, the point shouldn’t need belaboring: politics is often about policies, no?

Youthful Cognitive Dissonance
Those around my age have swiped left on logic and reason. Any given weekend, it seems, in London or Los Angeles, youth-sodden throngs protest democracy’s awkward tendency to disappoint at least half of a nation.

“Sign this, man!” said one sinewy protester, as I sauntered past a Cardiff demonstration demanding Great Britain stay in the European Union, despite its departure being supported by the largest mandate in our history. When I painfully pointed out that J. P. Morgan donated millions to the Remain campaign, he shrugged—“But, I hate the banks!”

Shakily daubed placards proclaimed that the “gammons” (a complexion-centered jibe denoting a Brexit voter—sort of the British version of “deplorables”) had “stolen” the “future” of the young and hip. Of course, a majority of these young and hip didn’t even bother to vote in 2016, and they move along now in similar fashion,  not bothering to parse the youth unemployment numbers across the European Union which besots them.

It seemed a supermajority of those I spoke to had populist convictions, yet did not grasp that they were fighting on behalf of the ruling class whose colossal incompetence leading up to, and following, the Great Crash of 2008, is what has really poisoned their future.

Aldous Huxley Got it Right!
Millennials on both sides of the Atlantic protest feverishly for the status quo. Despite the airs of “Resistance,” Generation Selfie applies social media dynamics to the political arena. Being visibly “progressive” means Instagram-ready protests where support is measured in “likes” or upvotes. The financial class, no doubt, finds this cognitive truancy oddly hilarious.

After all, social media is a manicured, and selective version of reality, much like the progressive politics motoring the herds of independent minds. Likes are social currency; peacocking the “correct” opinion is the key to the Federal Reserve which floods Facebook, Instagram, Twitter et. al. with bien-pensant quotes from 1984.

They may cite Orwell, but it was his former schoolteacher Aldous Huxley, who, when not zooming across grandiloquent psychedelic plains, got it right. The oppressed, as his work Brave New World predicted, had no idea of their oppression. They preferred it, even.

Huxley disagreed with his former Eton charge. In a 1949 letter, thanking him for his gift of 1984 he flatly disagreed on the book’s premise: one could control the masses much easier, he insisted, by teaching them to value their servitude. No torture or terror was required.

Huxley’s imagined citizens of London were engorged on their every empty desire—sex, drugs—Soma-fuelled “freedom” unvisited by human sensibilities. Hedonism was the creed they ravaged with bulimic obsession.

The protagonist Bernard Marx questions the system and is written-off as defective. You could say Bernard was “woke” in the same manner as serial antagonist Kanye West, who dared “speak out of turn” as Maxine Waters put it in the parlance of an overseer.

West, an undoubtedly influential figure for Millennials, was shouted down so energetically because he dangerously pointed out that the liberal stranglehold over Black America is what ails them. He could have said: “Democrats don’t care about black people.” He wouldn’t have been far wrong.

The danger to Waters, of course, being that the Democratic agenda is futile without the votes of those they bestow with their patronizing compassion. They must persist in their grooming of millennials into another angry reliable and docile voting bloc.

Against Trump in (Almost) Every Way
That’s what keeps the Democrats ticking over. Long-jettisoned is the party of the working man. That is now in thrall to the intellectual skirmishing and identity politics beloved of its metropolitan Brahmins.

But identity politics is scorpion-and-frog.

Although mulishly conformist, Millennials are also inherently fickle. The generation of Netflix and Spotify doesn’t mess around. If something better appears, their loyalties dissolve. Ask MySpace Tom.

A recent Reuters poll underlined this. Support for congressional Democrats among Americans ages 18 to 34 sank by 9 percent in the past two years, while the Democrats’ 12-point gap on the economy fell to just two points.

Though two-thirds join my Budapest acquaintance in their rabid opposition to President Trump, they don’t seem to mind Trump’s economic policies. And neither did she—at least not as long as she thought they were Bernie’s.

Photo credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

America • Americanism • Defense of the West • Donald Trump • EU • Europe • Foreign Policy • Greatness Agenda • political philosophy • Post • self-government • The Constitution • The Left • The Resistance (Snicker) • Trade

One Nation

Editor’s note: This essay appears in the Spring 2018 issue of the Claremont Review of Books. Reprinted by kind permission of the Claremont Institute. 

In 1993 the president of the American Society for International Law called for a “campaign to extirpate the term [‘sovereignty’] and forbid its use in polite political and intellectual company.” Such a proscription would have been in keeping with the bien-pensant consensus at the end of the past century and beginning of the present one: sovereignty is becoming obsolete and needs to be diluted or shared as mankind progresses toward global governance.

Nonetheless, Donald Trump, Brexit, and the growing resistance to increased centralization by the European Union from its member nations show that sovereignty has returned with a vengeance. This interruption of the inevitable march to globalism creates a problem for the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), central command for “liberal internationalism,” more accurately described as “transnational progressivism.” From the CFR perspective, the issue is how to defeat the American sovereigntists and their case for democratic self-government. This task is taken up in The Sovereignty Wars: Reconciling America with the World, by Stewart Patrick, director of CFR’s International Institutions and Global Governance program.

* * *

Patrick writes well, is knowledgeable, informative, a pleasant fellow, but he is wrong on the most important issues concerning democratic sovereignty and the right of a free people to rule themselves. His first priority, in effect, is to deconstruct the concept of sovereignty into its constituent but discordant elements, which he sees as threefold. At the top of his framework, “the Sovereignty Triangle,” is authority, which, with respect to America, “implies that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land and no external constraints should limit Americans’ right to govern themselves.” The triangle’s second vertex is autonomy, which “implies that the U.S. government, acting on behalf of the people, should have the freedom of action to formulate and pursue its foreign and domestic policies independently.” The final corner is influence, “the state’s effective capacity to advance its interests,” hence, America’s ability to influence others.

Though these three aspects of sovereignty are “often in tension,” sovereignty itself can be “disaggregated” when we “voluntarily trade off one aspect of sovereignty for another.” These “sovereignty bargains” will be “required” if the United States is to exert influence and shape the future of globalization. Indeed, it is “counterproductive” for sovereigntists to worry too much about autonomy or even authority—the supremacy of the Constitution—because influence is what America most needs “to shape its destiny in a global era.” Patrick concedes that a “liberal internationalist” would prioritize “solving a global problem” through multilateral action “even if that implied a loss of autonomy or, conceivably, even authority.”

Read the rest at The Claremont Review of Books

Defense of the West • Donald Trump • EU • Europe • Foreign Policy • Germany • Immigration • Middle East • Post • statesmanship • The Resistance (Snicker) • Trump White House

For European Action on Iran, Look Beyond Berlin

Mainstream views of European politics very rarely look past the Franco-German motor. President Trump’s verdict on the European Union as “basically a vehicle for Germany” accepts this common view among Western policymakers. But a resurgent European periphery offers Trump’s administration a chance to reshape the power dynamic in Brussels to Washington’s advantage.

Major foreign policy positions are set at the European Council, where the foreign ministers of the 28 member states meet under articles 21-46 of the Treaty of the European Union to decide what their common position will be. Though this high-level decision-making committee usually requires a unanimous consensus, provisions exist for a majority of countries (15 out of 28) or a qualified (two-thirds) majority of the population of Europe—voting shares representing about 300 million of Europe’s roughly 500 million citizens—to call the shots. Faced with a strong enough bloc supporting their ally in Washington, it is unlikely that even the strongest holdouts will isolate themselves against the majority.

Certain green shoots of this budding consensus have already come to the fore. Former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar of the ruling center-right party penned an op-ed calling for unified Western action on Iran. NATO stalwarts in Northern and Eastern Europe are leading insurgencies against the German-led consensus on various issues would relish the chance to rack up points on the board in this new era of European politics.

And then there is Italy, an aircraft-carrier wielding a G7 economy with 60 million European citizens maligned by Brussels on migration, finance, and sovereignty over the last decade. Having just elected a throng of insurgent populist parties who have promised to coalesce under an anti-federalist “dream team,” the natural leader (and target of lobbying by the United States) emerges: Rome.

After the 2008 financial crisis, emergency procedures were enacted at the federal level, like a rule for maximum deficit spending. These reforms were mainly aimed at restructuring the public sectors of profligate southern European countries, Italy especially, given the systemic importance of their economy. Ideologically reflecting the governing German Christian Democrats’ conservative fiscal policy, the rising star of Merkel’s leadership put down roots. Germany was expected to play a new role: leader of Europe. There is no reason to expect Berlin to hold this baton forever.

As Europe moved from the financial crisis to more traditional foreign policy concerns, the role chafed. Instability of the eastern border (Ukraine), managing massive flows of refugees, and replacing the Italian government with a Brussels-appointed technocracy were met with timidity in Berlin. Chancellor Merkel’s prevalence has waned as the war of attrition between her and the hardline factions within her party forced her to renege on her own positions.

Indeed, the story of the last decade in Europe can largely be told in terms of Berlin and Rome. Idealistic Brussels bureaucrats, having secured assurances that the migrants wouldn’t be turned back, hoped to house every refugee in border countries like Italy, Greece and Malta. They were thwarted when Berlusconi threatened to hand out Italian passports to every arrival, fully aware they’d be on their way to Northern Europe within hours. Berlusconi himself would end up forced out by Brussels during the height of Merkel’s power—but can now legally be the prime minister again, an ominous development for European federalists well aware that he’s been keeping grudges.

Eventually, Italy signed a bilateral deal with Libya, a slap in the face to the whole European project. Multilateralism was supposed to offer better solutions than unilateral or bilateral action. Yet after almost a decade of multilateral failure to deal with the migrant flows from Libya, Rome solved the problem by itself, a damning indictment of the EU’s claims to legitimacy.

The main caucus arguing against the White House position on the Iran deal is the powerful Franco-German business sector, thirstily looking at the Iranian market. Given the strong links between the White House and insurgent leaders in Europe, outmaneuvering one constituency in one European country should not be too challenging. The White House’s strategy to unify the allies against Tehran runs through capitals like Rome, Madrid, Warsaw, Vienna, Copenhagen and The Hague.

As National Security Adviser John Bolton outlined, nobody should have been surprised by President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran deal, least of all Berlin and Paris. The notion that a major campaign promise could be put to rest with a quick bit of diplomatic legwork by the Europeans belies a self-righteous presumption that should be put to rest.

Given that Berlin is on the verge of joining #TheResistance, it may be no bad thing for transatlantic relations, in the long run, to give them a black eye on Iran before things get worse.

Photo credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Economy • Elections • EU • Europe • Germany • Immigration • Political Parties • Post • self-government

‘Vaffanculo!’ What Americans Can Learn from Italy’s Election

Italian populists, whose slogan suggests that their opponents to go and fornicate elsewhere, are set to form a government with the Mediterranean edition of President Trump. Liberals the world over should be bawling into their Himalayan goat saliva smoothies anytime now.

After months of wrangling, Luigi Di Maio’s Five Star Movement, whose “vaffanculo!” war cry suggests they’re more than a bit miffed by sclerotic Italian politics, is set to congeal with Matteo Salvini’s nationalist-conservative Lega, lighting tinder beneath Rome’s famously cosy politic and causing more heartburn for the European Union.

Establishment commentators have called the Left-Right populist marriage a “nightmare scenario.”

It’s all rather lamentable, if you’re of the persuasion convinced each day of the inevitable return to “normality” when the ruling class decided what’s best for itself, and its special-interest friends and told everybody else to “vaffanculo!”

If Five Star and Lega reach a deal, Italy would be the first Western European country with an unabashed populist government, following Austria’s rightward turn late last year with a conservative-nationalist taking the helm.

The two parties are reported to be working through the final details, with it yet unclear who will become prime minister, although smarter money is heading toward Lega’s Salvinithe kind of Trump stand-in who country club Republicans would have little problem getting behind.

Italy’s Big Shift
A strange union indeed, but the two parties are united on the key issues. Italians, having swept away the handiwork of their last four unelected prime ministers, are demanding an end to streams of African and Middle Eastern migrants arriving mainly from the Libyan route, and for their new suitors to fight back against punishing EU budget rules along with the Euro currency itself—the introduction of which sparked almost 20 years of economic stagnation.

Italy, after all, is a petri dish of elite mismanagement. And it serves as a perfect example of what happens when those who insist their lettered credentials bestow upon them the right to rule without regard for those over whom they rule.

You know the kind. The unfashionable, deplorable, racist and intellectually dense. Those who cannot grasp the finer points of Markets Uber Alles.

What on earth has happened? Well, the populist rage of 2016 has swelled across Great Britain, France, Germany, Holland, Austria, and now Italy. Rather than dissolve comfortably, as willed by political commentators, the dirty bomb of Brexit now infects the continent’s fourth-largest economy.

The Italians can hardly be blamed. Since 2000, the economy has demonstrated the guile of an emphysemic sloth, with virtually no growth worth mentioning since. Some economists, treading carefully, have rightly called the period a depression. Corruption plays a part, tooItaly is on par with Romania in that dubious honor.

Of course, what ails the Italians is not dissimilar to what large chunks of the United States are experiencing, as traditional manufacturing is hammered by cheaper overseas competitors. Those who’d finally called time on this monstrous reality deserted their center-left champions Partito Democratico and pulled the lever for Salvini, or Five Star. The trend continues across Europe and the United States, with traditional left parties deserting working-class voters for their metropolitan base.

Both parties know the recipe for the invigorating hell-broth derided by anti-democratic types on both the Right and the Left as “populism.”  By and large, the same message resounds and clatters liberal ears. If a party is strong on immigration, skeptical of elite bromidesespecially on tradeand doesn’t call them stupid, they’ll lend them a vote.

Reasons for Concern
What should be most concerning to the liberal-minded is the depth of Italy’s populist fervor. Five Star is a strange brew of left-wing and anarchic policies dreamt up by its tens of thousands of members. Lega takes on a more traditional conservatism, yet is skeptical of big business and elite consensus.

What should worry the European Union, and its slavish followers, is this coalition’s strident opposition to mass immigration, the beggarly Euro currency, and the European project itself. Italy, after all, is the second most indebted nation in the EU, after Greece, which Angela Merkel forced into financial servitude a few years back.

Not that Italian voters worried much about that. The rub of populism is that it is . . . popular. Italy hasn’t been stormed by fascists, no matter how the New York Times tries to paint that picture.

Indeed, polls in Italy, and across Europe, show strong support for immigration controls, and a preference for country-first policies. A survey late last year found that 60 percent of Italians wanted tough border restrictionsin line with most polls across Europe, and Great Britain, where immigration won Brexit.

Like much of Europe, the pro-establishment liberalssoi-disant citizens of nowherehave been mangled into lameness, much like their American cheerleaders pom-pomming a mythical blue wave that might not blot a side of A4 paper.

Perhaps you’ve noticed the arrogance lubricating the moving parts of the liberal Zeppelin hovering over Europe and the American coasts. Every day, we lesser-types are assured that the populist wave is ebbing, that “normality” is to be restored—despite supporting evidence.

Alas, the fawning of President Macron following his fake-populist win in France last year was heralded as the beginning of the end for voters endowed with the temerity to break ranks from those who know better. But the squall rages on, drowning elite consensus with it.

Perhaps President Trump could adopt a similar slogan to “vaffanculo!” for his 2020 campaign. Then again, his salt-mining tweets are more than enough to chew on.