America • China • Foreign Policy • Greatness Agenda • Post

Who Is China’s Fifth Column?

As U.S. negotiators head to China for trade talks, President Trump says he doesn’t care if we don’t get a deal.

He shouldn’t. His tariffs are having their desired impact.

More than 50 major companies, from Apple to Nintendo to Samsung, have moved or have plans to move production out of China.

The CEO of Sharp’s PC unit explains the thinking behind the rush for the exits: “We need permanent measures to avoid the risk of tariffs and be eligible for U.S. government procurement.”

The United States has temporarily held off on imposing the last round of proposed tariffs, but that hasn’t reassured certainty-craving businesses. “We cannot tell what will happen or when,” Sharp’s astute executive observed.

Exports from China to the United States are down 12 percent compared to last year and Chinese factory workers are working fewer hours.

China has absorbed the cost of the tariffs, devaluing its currency and cutting prices to avoid losing customers to the competition—five of China’s top 10 exports to the U.S. are also available from Mexico.

While China’s economic growth is at a 27-year low, America’s economy is running strong. Unemployment is at historic lows, wages are rising and inflation is nonexistent at both the wholesale and consumer level.

This defies the predictions of “mainstream” economists who spend more time looking at textbooks than at what’s happening in the world around them.

But another study determined that making the 25 percent tariffs on China permanent—giving businesses “certainty”—would create 1 million jobs in the United States.

That makes sense. Recall that after the United States removed tariffs in 2000, American corporations moved their U.S. supply chains to mainland China.

With China stumbling and America chugging along nicely, with all this winning, you’d expect universal cheers from the grandstands.

Indeed, farmers, ranchers and blue-collar workers support President Trump for taking on China’s economic aggression, something they believe the U.S. government should have done a long time ago.

But two influential players in the U.S. are not just withholding their cheers, they are, for all intents and purposes, taking China’s side.

These two agents of influence are Wall Street and the corporate media.

Why are they on China’s side?

With Wall Street, you need to follow the money.

Start in Lower Manhattan, where big banks and brokerage houses earn billions from listing Chinese companies on the American stock exchanges. Those companies have a total market capitalization of $1.3 trillion.

Exchange-traded funds, such as MSCI, the largest index fund in the world, are invested heavily in domestic Chinese companies listed on the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock markets.

One of those Chinese companies is Hikvision, supplier of surveillance technology to China’s concentration camps. The California State Teachers’ pension fund and the New York State Teachers’ pension fund are invested in MSCI—and therefore in Hikvision.

Morgan Stanley’s private equity funds have been burned numerous times by their Chinese investments, most notably with Tianhe Chemicals, a Chinese industrial firm accused of bilking investors out of $650 billion.

While American investors may unwittingly have their money tied up in Chinese companies, American regulators aren’t allowed to look at their books; Beijing regards them as “state secrets.” U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has introduced legislation to delist companies from American exchanges that fail to meet our accounting and disclosure requirements.

As far as Wall Street is concerned, it doesn’t matter whether these Chinese investments make or lose money—the banks make money in the transaction fees.

For these reasons and others, as Peter Thiel explained at the National Conservatism Conference earlier this month, the interests of the money center banks are antithetical to America’s national interest when it comes to China.

Now let’s look at the corporate media. Beijing has found willing partners in the anti-Trump U.S. media, including marquee names such as the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Coincidentally, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns the Post. The world’s richest man made his fortune selling stuff made in China and imported tax-free into the United States. Bezos has a vested interest in the one-way trade with China that has destroyed millions of Americans jobs.

The Washington Post recently published an op-ed “China is winning the ideological battle with the U.S.” that repeats the talking points Chinese propagandists have been making for decades that its authoritarian model is more appealing than Western democracy.

If that’s not bad enough, the Post this month ran an open letter to President Trump titled “China is not an enemy,” signed by the policymaker geniuses who created the China Frankenstein monster. (American Greatness recently published a rejoinder.)

The authors say, “We do not believe Beijing is an economic enemy or an existential national security threat that must be confronted.” Need we say more? Xi Xinping or Joe Biden could not have said it better.

The New York Times, for its part, doesn’t rely on the opinion pages to make the same point. It ran a piece in its news columns under the headline, “A New Red Scare is Reshaping Washington.”

The term “red scare” is, of course, a loaded term with pejorative connotations evoking the Palmer raids, Joe McCarthy, and blacklists. (All of which, by the way, were grounded in more than paranoia, contrary to the standard liberal version of history.)

This conceit, this inference of groundless paranoia, permeates the story.

We are told of “growing concerns” that the Trump Administration is “fueling discrimination against students, scientists and companies with ties to China,” creating a “climate of fear” and “stoking a new red scare.”

We are told “the United States is at risk of being gripped by ‘an anti-Chinese version of the Red Scare,’” that “Chinese Americans feel targeted,” and “that’s really hurtful.”

We are led to believe it’s because of “Fox News hosts and others” that “skepticism has seeped into nearly every aspect of China’s interaction with the United States, with officials questioning China’s presence on American stock markets, its construction of American subway cars and its purchase of social media networks.”

Politico, an ever-reliable barometer of conventional Establishment thinking, is more explicit, telling us “people of Chinese descent, including U.S. citizens, could face discrimination,” especially now “when there’s so much racism, so much anti-immigration sentiment.”

It’s no exaggeration to say these “red scare” scares are a regurgitation of the Chinese Communist party line.

We know that because Global Times, the official mouthpiece of the CCP, helpfully informs us the Trump Administration’s China policy revives “anti-communist hysteria of neo-McCarthyism, which has echoes of the Cold War,” and “reflects populism, nationalism, and even racism.”

Political opinion warfare” is part of the influence operations Beijing uses to shape public opinion and influence foreign decision-makers, consistent with classic Chinese military strategy: “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

And so we see Beijing’s Confucius Institutes spread the Chinese Communist Party’s worldview on American campuses and its United Front department mobilize overseas Chinese to support friendly politicians and official CCP narratives.

Beijing tells U.S. corporations to lobby Washington on its behalf and uses U.S. corporate media to spread its propaganda talking points. Talk about interfering in our political process! Somebody call Adam Schiff!

Photo Credit: Ezra Acayan/Getty Images

America • Center for American Greatness • Foreign Policy • Identity Politics • Immigration • Post • The Left

Ilhan Omar Blames America for Illegal Immigration

Radical Somali-American and left-wing Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) argues that U.S. foreign policy is the cause of the global refugee crisis. Without question, excessive aggression from the United States in Latin America and the Middle East has exacerbated the pre-existing pathologies that pervade their political, social, and economic systems. 

Whether America made some unique contribution to these horrors, however, is an open question. Still, in this way, Omar has stumbled her way into an undeniable truth: U.S. foreign policy is too aggressive far too often, and it has caused some disruptions—and this leads to some unwanted migration.

Very often, migrants are seeking entry into the United States or Europe not out of an urgent need for safety, but for easy access to generous welfare systems and jobs. As a result, migrants tend to amass a good deal of money that they can then remit back to their families in their homelands. The fact that neither Europe nor the United States require true assimilation of these migrants into the larger culture makes migration even more attractive since the migrants will get money and protection without having to abandon their own cultures.

The longer the West tolerates this flocking of “refugees” in ever larger numbers and does not require them to assimilate, the more reverse-assimilation becomes likely. 

Already migrants in Europe and the United States are offered legal protections that few native-born citizens are offered. A faux sense of cultural sensitivity enforced by the “elites” of their host governments, causes them to go out of their way to make people who have no intention of returning the favor feel comfortable. 

It explains why in the United States, Spanish is no longer viewed as a second language but as a language to be respected as co-equal to the language of the land (and, in certain parts of the country, the lingua franca). It’s also why some European governments are willing to abandon their own free speech laws in order to placate violent Muslim migrants who become offended by cartoons that depict their religious prophet, Mohammed. 

Foreign Policy Plays a Role
There is little doubt that incessant bombings of the Middle East or an endless cavalcade of covert U.S. action directed against disliked governments in Latin America can cause instability which, in turn, can create mass migration. But Omar and her socialist Suicide Squad in Congress are attempting to craft a rather languid U.S. foreign policy in response—one that undoubtedly entails the United States turning the other cheek in response to each terrorist provocation or kneeling before a tinpot, Latin American Communist dictator (a lá Barack Obama’s approach). 

This is not the appropriate response to previous missteps and it will not even ameliorate the illegal immigration problem. And, beating our warplanes into plowshares or bringing all the troops home from the Greater Middle East tomorrow—as gratifying as that may be—will not prevent the flood of refugees and migrants into Europe either. These moves would likely make us weaker while not addressing the real problem of our current immigration policies. In fact, it’s galling to hear Omar and her comrades suggest they want to fix the ongoing immigration crisis given that they disagree with the suggestion that mass migration is even a problem! Forgive me for not trusting their solution to a problem they don’t see as a problem.

It’s Immigration Policy, Not Foreign Policy
When Omar and her fellow members of the socialist Suicide Squad argue that U.S. foreign policy is the cause of the present immigration crisis, they are not being serious. Instead, they are using these claims to distract Americans and deflect attention away from the fact that the type of lax immigration policies they support are the real cause of the present immigration crises, both in Europe and the United States. After all, Ilhan Omar is a proponent of the status quo for U.S. immigration policies. Like so many of her fellow “democratic-socialists” in the United States, she likely looks with favor on Europe’s current open borders immigration policies. 

In the United States, these open borders immigration policies have damaged many of the communities that supported Donald Trump. Similar concerns are spurring nationalist-populist movements that are destabilizing the European Union. So long as the borders of the United States and Europe remain open for anyone to walk through, we will not see any semblance of general stability, security, or sustainable prosperity in the West. The longer this paradigm persists, the less hope there will be for the West to survive in its present form.

They Hate You, Folks . . .
Make no mistake: destroying the West in its present form is precisely the intent of the socialist Suicide Squad.

Whatever kernel of truth there may be in Omar’s criticism of the past excesses of U.S. foreign policy, it is not the cause of our immigration crisis. Omar is deliberately misleading people when she makes such claims. By appealing to the general unpopularity of U.S. foreign policy (unpopular everywhere but within Washington, D.C., of course)  Omar avoids having to address the uncomfortable realities of mass migration which are really to blame for the current crisis. 

More dastardly, though, is the fact that Omar is essentially scapegoating the American people; in effect, blaming the victims of illegal immigration, for the problem of illegal immigration. The only people responsible for illegal immigration are the bureaucrats who allow for it to occur, the business leaders who encourage it, and the migrants themselves who benefit from it. 

Until President Trump not only builds his wall but gets Congress on board with a complete revision of every aspect of U.S. immigration policy, the United States will continue to decline in disturbingly similar ways that Europe has declined. 

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact

Photo credit: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Defense of the West • Deterrence • Foreign Policy • History • Post

The Lessons of the Versailles Treaty

The Treaty of Versailles was signed in Versailles, France, on June 28, 1919. Neither the winners nor the losers of World War I were happy with the formal conclusion to the bloodbath.

The traditional criticism of the treaty is that the victorious French and British democracies did not listen to the pleas of leniency from progressive American President Woodrow Wilson. Instead, they added insult to the German injury by blaming Germany for starting the war. The final treaty demanded German reparations for war losses. It also forced Germany to cede territory to its victorious neighbors.

The harsh terms of the treaty purportedly embittered and impoverished the Germans. The indignation over Versailles supposedly explained why Germany eventually voted into power the firebrand Nazi Adolf Hitler, sowing the seeds of World War II.

But a century later, how true is the traditional explanation of the Versailles Treaty?

In comparison to other treaties of the times, the Versailles accord was actually mild—especially by past German standards.

After the 1870-1871 Franco-Prussian war, a newly unified and victorious Germany occupied France, forced the French to pay reparations and annexed the rich Alsace-Lorraine borderlands.

Berlin’s harsh 1914 plans for Western Europe at the onset of World War I—the so-called Septemberprogramm—called for the annexation of the northern French coast. The Germans planned to absorb all of Belgium and demand payment of billions of marks to pay off the entire German war debt.

In 1918, just months before the end of the war, Germany imposed on a defeated Russia a draconian settlement. The Germans seized 50 times more Russian territory and 10 times greater the population than it would later lose at Versailles.

So, under the terms of the Versailles Treaty, the winning democracies were far more lenient with Germany than Germany itself had been with most of its defeated enemies.

No one denied that Germany had started the war by invading Belgium and France. Germany never met the Versailles requirements of paying fully for its damage in France and Belgium. It either defaulted or inflated its currency to pay reparations in increasingly worthless currency.

Versailles certainly failed to keep the peace. Yet the problem was not because the treaty was too harsh, but because it was flawed from the start and never adequately enforced.

The Versailles Treaty was signed months after the armistice of November 1918, rather than after an utter collapse of the German Imperial Army. The exhausted Allies made the mistake of not demanding the unconditional surrender of the defeated German aggressor.

That error created the later German myth that its spent army was never really vanquished, but had merely given up the offensive in enemy territory. Exhausted German soldiers abroad were supposedly “stabbed in the back” by Jews, Communists, and traitors to the rear.

The Allied victors combined the worst of both worlds. They had humiliated a defeated enemy with mostly empty condemnations while failing to enforce measures that would have prevented the rise of another aggressive Germany.

England, France, and America had not been willing to occupy Germany and Austria to enforce the demands of Versailles. Worse, by the time the victors and the defeated met in Versailles, thousands of Allied troops had already demobilized and returned home.

The result was that Versailles did not ensure the end of “the war to end all wars.”

As the embittered Marshal Ferdinand Foch of France, supreme commander of the Allied forces, presciently concluded of the Versailles settlement: “This is not peace. It is an armistice for 20 years.”

Foch was right.

Twenty years after the 1919 settlement, the German army invaded Poland to start World War II, which would cost the world roughly four times as many lives as World War I.

After the Treaty of Versailles, the victorious Allies of 1945 did not repeat the mistakes of 1919. They demanded an unconditional surrender from the defeated Nazi regime.

The Western Allies then occupied, divided and imposed democracy upon Germany. Troops stayed, helped to rebuild the country and then made it an ally.

In terms of harshness, the Yalta and Potsdam accords of 1945 were far tougher on the Germans than Versailles—and far more successful in keeping the peace.

The failure of Versailles remains a tragic lesson about the eternal rules of war and human nature itself—100 years ago this summer.


Photo credit: SSPL/Getty Images

Center for American Greatness • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Immigration • Post

Address the Real Cause of Central American Migration

As we close in to just a little over a year away from the 2020 elections, there is no clearer difference between Democrats and Donald Trump when it comes to law and order than illegal immigration. Take, for example, the Democrats’ outrage at recent  “raids” by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement service. If you were just listening to Democrats’ rhetoric, you would have thought masked storm troopers were breaking into the homes of American citizens in the dead of night, ripping families apart, sending people away never to be seen again.

Of course that’s not even close to what happened.

In reality, law enforcement agents are simply apprehending illegal aliens who have received their final deportation notices and yet remain in the country. That means that these illegals have had the full array of due process, have gone before judges who have heard their cases, and have had their claims rejected.

ICE is also removing illegals with criminal records, yet Democrats would have you think we’re dealing with the leading lights of the immigrant community. We’re not, but that’s hardly the point.  If our government does not enforce these final deportation orders, what’s the point in pretending we have immigration laws?

The good news about the debate surrounding immigration is that Democrats have dropped all pretense of  supporting the rule of law or favoring American citizens. From healthcare for illegals to decriminalizing illegal entry, Democrats are advocating the loss of national sovereignty through open-border policies while giving the green light for more people to enter the country illegally. One would be forgiven for thinking the Democrats running in 2020 are running to represent illegals and not the American people.

What’s troubling is that these Democrats, and let’s face it, the Chamber of Commerce Republicans are doing exactly what the northern triangle countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala want. As Bloomberg News reported last month, those countries  have been slashing their social welfare programs for years in an effort to balance budgets, reduce crime, and drive out their poorest citizens. These countries have encouraged the poor to leave and have even helped facilitate it. People involved in foreign aid to Central America have confirmed this to me, saying that this behavior has been going on for over a decade. The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that “Guatemala is now the largest source of illegal immigrants coming to the U.S.” with many coming for purely economic reasons.

By some accounts, due to our broken asylum laws, upwards of one million Central Americans will come to this country this year, the overwhelming majority of them illegally. Why? Beyond the economic reasons and our loophole-riddled system, it’s because we have a major political party promising them healthcare, social welfare services, and encouraging them to come all while the other major party stands by, feckless and doing nothing.

With our current approach we are endorsing and empowering the northern triangle countries to continue with their bad behavior. But we’re also telling the cartels, human smugglers, and sex traffickers that this country doesn’t enforce laws designed to combat their abuse of children, their violations of human rights, or, for that matter, laws meant to protect the American people.

There is no doubt that the southern border should be controlled, that the American people have a right to national sovereignty and have the right to decide who comes into our country. There is absolutely a need for a physical wall in as many places as possible.  The visa program should be reformed, our asylum loopholes fixed, and we should have e-verify along with all the other reforms needed to address illegal immigration.

But we must also address why this is happening; all these reforms, border security and a border wall are really just addressing the effects, not the cause. Until we address the northern triangle’s economic model and encourage economic opportunity in those countries we will never fully succeed in addressing the flow of illegal immigrants into this country.

Trump is on the right track in stopping doing the things that don’t work—for example cutting foreign aid, which only exacerbates the problem. There are those who say we must keep giving foreign aid to these countries and that all of this financial support will eventually fix these problems. That’s absurd. It is the very definition of insanity to continue doing the same thing and expect different results. We have plowed billions of dollars into Central America over the last decade. For what? To see a massive increase in illegal immigration.

Even this week, Trump is threatening to crack down on Guatemala, tweeting:

Unlike Guatemala, El Salvador’s leaders appear to realize they can and must be better. Salvadoran president Nayib Bukele this month said: “Folks don’t flee their houses as a result of they wish to. They flee their houses as a result of they really feel they should. They fled El Salvador, they fled our nation. It’s our fault.”

Trump must tell these countries that if they are interested in real economic growth and giving their people a reason to stay, he will work with them if that’s what they truly want. He will work to bring private investment if these countries will make themselves attractive by enforcing the rule of law, ensuring secure contracts, and truly cracking down on corruption and graft.

In the meantime, Trump should use every tool at his disposal to make it clear to these countries that they are no longer going to send their people here for us to provide the social welfare programs and economic opportunities that they refuse to secure for their citizenry. Those days are over.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact

Photo Credit: Ulises Ruiz/AFP/Getty Images

Big Media • China • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Post

Dear President Trump: Stay the Course on China

Editor’s note: The Washington Post on July 3 published an open letter to President Trump titled, “China is not an enemy.” Signed by 95 self-described “members of the scholarly, foreign policy, military and business communities”—many of whom have played a role in shaping U.S. policy with China over the past 40 years—the letter criticizes the president’s approach to China as “fundamentally counterproductive” and urges a “balance of competition and cooperation.”

In response, more than 135 foreign policy experts, scholars, writers, ex-military officers, and business people signed an open letter authored by retired U.S. Navy Captain James E. Fanell, the former director of intelligence and information operations for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, rebutting the Post letter and urging the president to “stay the course.”

The letter first appeared at the Journal of Political Risk.

Dear President Trump,

Over America’s exceptional history, successive generations have risen to the challenge of protecting and furthering our founding principles, and defeating existential threats to our liberties and those of our allies. Today, our generation is challenged to do the same by a virulent and increasingly dangerous threat to human freedoms—the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) through the nation it misrules: the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

The Chinese Communists’ stated ambitions are antithetical to America’s strategic interests, and the PRC is increasingly taking actions that imperil the United States and our allies. The past forty years during which America pursued an open policy of “engagement” with the PRC have contributed materially to the incremental erosion of U.S. national security.

This cannot be permitted to continue.

China is not as we wish it to be. In our political system, politics is the norm, and war is the exception. It is explicitly the opposite in the PRC’s worldview. Going forward, we must better understand and deal with this dangerous asymmetry.

We the undersigned, are encouraged by the broad and coherent strategy of robust, alternative policies you have adopted to confront the PRC’s campaign to undermine the national interests of the United States and its allies. We encourage you to stay the course on your path of countering Communist China.

We acknowledge and support your robust National Security Strategy that properly sets forth why the United States must counter the PRC. Opposing the advance of tyranny is fully in keeping with the founding principles of America and our rich heritage of defending freedom and liberty, both at home and, where necessary, abroad.

We note the PRC does not recognize the principles and rules of the existing international order, which under a Pax Americana has enabled the greatest period of peace and global prosperity in mankind’s history. The PRC rejects this order both ideologically and in practice. China’s rulers openly proclaim and insist on a new set of rules to which other nations must conform, such as their efforts to dominate the East and South China Seas and the so-called “Belt and Road Initiative,” with its debt-trap diplomacy, designed to extend such hegemony worldwide. The only persistently defining principle of the CCP is the sustainment and expansion of its power.

Over the past forty years of Sino-American relations, many American foreign policy experts did not accurately assess the PRC’s intentions or attributed the CCP’s reprehensible conduct to the difficulties of governing a country of 1.3 billion people. American policymakers were told time and again by these adherents of the China-engagement school that the PRC would become a “responsible stakeholder” once a sufficient level of economic modernization was achieved. This did not happen and cannot so long as the CCP rules China.

The PRC routinely and systematically suppresses religious freedom and free speech, including the imprisonment of over one million citizens in Xinjiang and the growing suppression of Hong Kong’s autonomy. The PRC also routinely violates its obligations, as it does with the World Trade Organization, freedom of navigation and the protection of coral reefs in the South China Sea. Beijing then demands that its own people and the rest of the world accept their false narratives and justifications, demands aptly termed as “Orwellian nonsense.”

The PRC is not and never has been a peaceful regime. It uses economic and military force—what it calls its “comprehensive national power”—to bully and intimidate others. The PRC threatens to wage war against a free and democratically led Taiwan.

It is expanding its reach around the globe, co-opting our allies and other nations with the promise of economic gain, often with authoritarian capitalism posing as free commerce, corrupt business practices that go-unchecked, state-controlled entities posing as objective academic, scientific or media institutions and trade and development deals that lack reciprocity, transparency and sustainability. The CCP corrupts everything it touches.

This expansionism is not random or ephemeral. It is manifestly the unfolding of the CCP’s grand strategy. The Party’s ambitions have been given many names, most recently the “China Dream,” the “great rejuvenation” of China, or the “Community of Common Destiny.” The “Dream” envisioned by the Communist Party is a nightmare for the Chinese people and the rest of the world.

We firmly support the Chinese people, the vast majority of whom want to live peaceful lives.

But we do not support the Communist government of China, nor its control by the dangerous Xi Jinping clique. We welcome the measures you have taken to confront Xi’s government and selectively to decouple the U.S. economy from China’s insidious efforts to weaken it. No amount of U.S. diplomatic, economic, or military “engagement” will disrupt the CCP’s grand strategy.

If there is any sure guide to diplomatic success, it is that when America leads—other nations follow. If history has taught us anything it is that clarity and commitment of leadership in addressing existential threats, like from the PRC, will be followed by our allies when policy prescriptions such as yours become a reality. The PRC’s immediate strategy is to delay, stall, and otherwise wait out your presidency. Every effort must be made therefore to institutionalize now the policies and capabilities that can rebalance our economic relations with China, strengthen our alliances with like-minded democracies and ultimately to defeat the PRC’s global ambitions to suppress freedom and liberty.

Stay the course!

James E. Fanell

Captain, USN (Ret)

Former Director of Intelligence & Information Operations U.S. Pacific Fleet

List of U.S. Signatures (Alphabetically as of July 18, 2019)

Willard Anderson

Clarence Anthony
Lieutenant Colonel, USMC (Ret)

Rod Azama
Director, The Chancellor Group

Bob Baker
Former US Army Intelligence Analyst

Tim Beard
Rear Admiral, USN (Ret)

Michael Bender
Commander, USN (Ret)

Kenneth Benway
Lieutenant Colonel, USA (Ret)
U.S. Army Special Forces

Paul Berkowitz
Former Staff Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee

Joseph Bosco
Retired, Department of Defense

E. Bostwick Jr.
Senior Intelligence Officer, GS-15 (Ret) USPACOM

Christopher Brassard
President, Ten Eyck Group

Robert Brodsky
Captain, USN (Ret)

Nick Buck
Captain, USN (Ret)

Naushard Cader
Board Member/Director
Center for War and Peace Studies

Roger Canfield
Author and

Kevin Carrico
Senior Lecturer
Monash University

Dennis Carroll

Gordon Chang

Edward Connelly, Ph.D.
Chinese, Australian National University
Independent Translator

David Connelly III
Captain, USN (Ret)

Henry F. Cooper
Ambassador, former Chief Defense & Space Negotiator with the Soviet Union, SDI Director

Anders Corr, Ph.D.
Publisher, Journal of Political Risk

Demetrius Cox
Lieutenant Commander, USN (Ret)
U.S. Pacific Fleet Veteran Intelligence Officer

Michael Craven

Iara Celeste Diaz

Kenneth deGraffenreid
Former Special Assistant to the President, Senior Director of Intelligence Programs, Ronald Reagan National Security Council

Donny DeLeon
Filipino American Human Rights Alliance

Chuck DeVore
Lieutenant Colonel, USAR (Ret)
California State Assemblyman, 2004-2010; Special Assistant for Foreign Affairs, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 1986-1988

Markham Dossett
Commander, USNR (ret)

June Teufel-Dreyer
Professor of Political Science University of Miami

Ian Easton
Research Fellow, Project 2049 Institute

Robert D. Eldridge
President, The Eldridge Think Tank

Richard Fisher

Nels Frye

Art Furtney
Major, USMC, (Ret)

Frank J. Gaffney
Vice Chairman, Committee on the Present Danger: China

Samantha Gay

Kerry K. Gershaneck
Professor & Senior Research Associate, Thammasat University Faculty of Law (CPG)

Bill Gertz
Author of Deceiving the Sky: Inside Communist China’s Drive for Global Supremacy

Paul Giarra
Commander, U.S. Navy (Ret)

Jose Gonzalez

Chadwick Gore
Former Staff Director House Foreign Affairs Europe, Eurasia, Emerging Threats subcommittee

James Grundvig
Freelance Investigative Journalist

Ilango Gurusamy
Owner, Freedom on Wheels LLC and Propellant Software

Lianchao Han
Vice-President Citizen Power Initiatives for China

Heath Hansen
Specialist, USA (Ret)
Veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan

William Hawkins
President Hamilton Center for National Strategy

Donald Henry
Captain, USN, (Ret)

William C. Horn
Captain, USN (Ret)

Bradley Johnson
President Americans for Intelligence Reform

Frank Kelly
Captain, USN (Ret)

James D. Kelly
Rear Admiral, USN (Ret)
President Center for International Exchange-US (NPO)

Miles Killoch

Roy Kirvan, Ph.D.
U.S. Intelligence Community (Ret)

Ted Kresge
Lieutenant General, USAF (Ret)
Former Vice Commander U.S. Pacific Air Forces

Emil Levine
Captain, USNR (Ret)

Steve Lewandowski

Claire Lopez
VP for Research & Analysis
Center for Security Policy

Ben Lowsen
China Strategist U.S. Air Force / Sawdey Solution Services, LLC

Holly Lynch
Democrat Candidate for NY’s 10th Congressional District

Tim Lyon
Captain, USN (Ret)

Victor Mair
Professor, University of Pennsylvania

Rod Martin
Founder & CEO The Martin Organization, Inc.

Tidal W. McCoy
Former Acting Secretary of the U.S. Air Force

Thomas G. McInerney
Lieutenant General, USAF (Ret)
Assistant Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force

Randy McSmith
Master Chief Petty Officer, USN (Ret)

John Mengel
Captain, USN (Ret)

Paul Midler
Author of What’s Wrong with China

John Mills
Colonel, USAR (Ret)
Director (Ret) Cybersecurity Policy, Strategy, and International Affairs

James Mishina
Lieutenant Colonel, USA (Ret)

Wayne Morris
Colonel, USMC (Ret)

Steven Mosher
President, Population Research Institute

Denis Muller
Lieutenant Colonel, USMC (Ret)

Merle Mulvaney
Lieutenant Colonel, USA (Ret)
Member, Red Star Rising

Charles “Chuck” Nash
Captain USN (Ret)

Jim Newman
Captain, USN (Ret)

Grant Newsham
Colonel, USMCR (retired)
Visiting Scholar, National Chengchi University, Taiwan

Roscoe Nicholson II
International Consultant

Peter O’Brien
Captain, USN (Ret)

Edward O’Dowd
Ph.D. and Colonel, USA (Ret)

Kyle Olbert
Director of Operations, East Turkistan National Awakening Movement

Don Oliphant
President, DWO Enterprises

Robert Oster
Private Investor

Rebeca Page
SD Metro Magazine

Robert Page
Chairman/CEO, REP Publishing, Inc.

Russ Penniman
Rear Admiral, USN (Ret)
Former Reserve Deputy Commander U.S. Pacific Fleet

Lawrence Peter
Lieutenant Commander, USN (Ret)

Peter Pry
Doctor and Director, EMP Task Force

Robert Rector

Eric Reddig
U.S. Navy Veteran

J.R. Reddig
Captain, USN (Ret)

Louis Riggio

Eric Rohrbach

Robert Rohrer

Gerard Roncolato
Captain, USN (Ret.)

Warren Henry Rothman

Robert Rubel
Captain, USN (Ret)

Mark Safranski

Junko Sakamoto

Michael Schauf
Captain USN (Ret)
Military Intelligence

Stuart Schippereit
Commander, USN (Ret)
Former naval intelligence analyst

Paul Schmehl

Suzanne Scholte
President, Defense Forum Foundation
Carl Schuster

Captain, USN (Ret)
Adjunct Faculty, Hawaii Pacific University

Dan Seesholtz
Captain, USN (Ret)
Lawrence Sellin

Colonel, USAR (Ret)
Iraq and Afghanistan veteran

William Sharp
Former Host, Asia in Review

Stephen Sherman
Director, RADIX Foundation

Scott Shipman
Owner, B.B. Hoss, Inc.

Joseph Smith
President (Ret), Parke-Davis Pharmaceuticals

Fred Smith
Captain, USN (Ret)
Lecturer, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia

Peter Smith
Captain, USN (Ret)

Pete Speer
Lieutenant Commander, USN (Ret)
Member, Red Star Rising

William A. Stanton
Former Director of the American Institute in Taiwan

Guy Stitt
CEO AMI International

Duane Stober
Captain, USNR (Ret)
Former Reserve Intelligence Coordinator Area One

Mark Stokes
Executive Director, Project 2049 Institute

Fred Stratton
Commander, USN (Ret)

Gary Stubblefield
Commander, USN (Ret)

John Tate
Commander, USN (Ret)

Bradley Thayer
Professor, University of Texas San Antonio

Mark Tiernan
Captain, USNR (Ret)

John J. Tkacik
Director, Future Asia Project International Assessment and Strategy Center

Don Tse
Lead researcher, SinoInsider

Paul Valleley
Major General, USA (Ret)
Chairman Stand Up America

John E. Vinson
Captain, USN (Ret)

Thomas Wade

Arthur Waldron
Lauder Professor of International Relations
University of Pennsylvania

Yana Way
Educator, Way Tutoring

Toshi Yoshihara
Ph.D., Author Red Star Over the Pacific

James Zumwalt
Lieutenant Colonel, USMC (Ret)

Jennifer Zeng
Author of Witnessing History: One Woman’s Fight for Freedom and Falun Gong

Foreign Signatures (As of July 18, 2019)

Terence Russell
Senior Scholar University of Manitoba

Doris Liu
Independent documentary journalist

Jianli Yang
Founder & President Citizen Power Initiatives for China

Elena Bernini
CEO Oxford Omnia International

Satoshi Nishihata
Washington Bureau Chief The Liberty, Happy Science USA

Larry Ong
Senior analyst, SinoInsider

Chu-cheng Ming
Senior researcher SinoInsider

Photo Credit: VCG/VCG via Getty Images

2016 Election • America • Center for American Greatness • Democrats • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Post

The Sir Kim Kerfuffle: Who’s the Real Terminator?

The Terminator” is a cool movie. Iconic even, in its gritty dystopianism. And, of course, it was the film that solidified Arnold Schwarzenegger as a superstar.

But it’s still sci-fi schlock and a B-movie at bottom. Definitely not what you’d expect to be quoted in a classified cable between Washington and Whitehall. But if you’re Sir Kim Darroch, no problem, Arnie is fit to be included in the most sensitive of communications about the most powerful nation in the world, and its leader, President Trump.

There is a hierarchy in all diplomacy. Not just in official ranks and titles, but in postings. Traditionally, most nations consider Washington and London to be the most prestigious assignments, the ambassadorship to our country’s capital or to the Court of St. James, being reserved for the most senior and trusted professional diplomat, or the biggest campaign donor who deserves to be “rewarded.”

Darroch was not a politically appointed diplomat; he was a career guy, posted to the most important position in all of British diplomacy: Washington D.C. Now he suddenly will be leaving us because of leaked cables that he wrote about the U.S. president, which included the line: “Trump may emerge from the flames, battered but intact, like Schwarzenegger in the final scenes of ‘The Terminator.’”

Such a description may be apposite for a sixth-grader’s essay on American politics, but not from the most senior diplomat from the country with which we have the closest of “special” relationships.

Darroch was right to resign. Actually, 10 Downing Street should have fired him. Why? Not for his churlish, schoolboy comparisons, but for the rest of the leaked cables.

I’ve met Kim Darroch several times. In fact, after the election in which America chose Donald Trump as our 45th president, his team at the British embassy reached out to me first of all the allied nations to establish contact with the presidential transition team, of which I was a member before I officially joined the administration. Perhaps they felt that, as I had been born and raised in the U.K., establishing positive working relations through me with the president-elect would be easiest. And I have to say, I was impressed in all our meetings with the British team that mostly focused on counterterrorism and national security cooperation, which was my primary remit.

If only Ambassador Darroch had been as professional as his subordinates.

The cables leaked to the Daily Mail are scandalous for many reasons, none of which have to do with time-traveling cyborgs. The first is the level of incompetence and laziness they demonstrate on behalf of the seniormost diplomat representing the nation that traditionally has been our closest European ally.

Kim writes of an insecure president and a chaotic and inept White House, using the most hackneyed tropes of the fake news one can imagine. What is remarkable, is how there is not one original piece of information in anything Sir Kim wrote. In fact, all of his supersensitive “classified” reporting could have been cut directly from the pages of the Huffington Post or the Daily Beast. One wonders what London’s ambassador was doing in Washington all these years, because he wasn’t using any diplomatic skills to acquire unique information especially useful for his government and the British prime minister. Her Majesty’s government could have saved itself some trouble and expense by subscribing to the Trump-hating New York Times or a CNN transcription service.

And this isn’t just a critique of laziness. This is utter and total lack of professionalism. Yes, we know that the fake news cannot but call the Trump White House “chaotic” and “inept” because that’s all they’ve done for two-and-a-half years. But so what? Did Sir Kim ever open the window? Did he ever step away from the fancy cocktail parties and white-tie receptions and actually look at what we have been doing?

By any metric, the policies of Donald J. Trump have been historically successful. The Dow just broke 27,000 this week. Twenty-seven thousand. The physical caliphate of ISIS is no more. North Korea has stopped illegal nuclear warhead testing and ballistic missile launches. NATO is finally paying its dues. We have the lowest unemployment in 50 years. How hard would it have been for any diplomat at any rank to report the truth?

Again, this isn’t about one lazy ambassador; it’s about the bankrupt elite that Sir Kim Darroch represents. He had to trash President Trump because President Trump is not a swamp dweller like he is. Truth is, the “swamp” is global. And it should surprise no one that Kim Darroch represented Britain at the European Union and is an anti-Brexit internationalist.

On November 8, 2016, America sent a message to the world, to the Sir Kims in every capital, not just ours: the people want their sovereignty back. Kim and his ilk just can’t stand it. Why? Well, to put it in terms they can understand: Donald Trump is our John Connor.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact

Photo Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images

2016 Election • America • Center for American Greatness • Democrats • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Post

The Sir Kim Kerfuffle: Who’s the Real Terminator?

The Terminator” is a cool movie. Iconic even, in its gritty dystopianism. And, of course, it was the film that solidified Arnold Schwarzenegger as a superstar.

But it’s still sci-fi schlock and a B-movie at bottom. Definitely not what you’d expect to be quoted in a classified cable between Washington and Whitehall. But if you’re Sir Kim Darroch, no problem, Arnie is fit to be included in the most sensitive of communications about the most powerful nation in the world, and its leader, President Trump.

There is a hierarchy in all diplomacy. Not just in official ranks and titles, but in postings. Traditionally, most nations consider Washington and London to be the most prestigious assignments, the ambassadorship to our country’s capital or to the Court of St. James, being reserved for the most senior and trusted professional diplomat, or the biggest campaign donor who deserves to be “rewarded.”

Darroch was not a politically appointed diplomat; he was a career guy, posted to the most important position in all of British diplomacy: Washington D.C. Now he suddenly will be leaving us because of leaked cables that he wrote about the U.S. president, which included the line: “Trump may emerge from the flames, battered but intact, like Schwarzenegger in the final scenes of ‘The Terminator.’”

Such a description may be apposite for a sixth-grader’s essay on American politics, but not from the most senior diplomat from the country with which we have the closest of “special” relationships.

Darroch was right to resign. Actually, 10 Downing Street should have fired him. Why? Not for his churlish, schoolboy comparisons, but for the rest of the leaked cables.

I’ve met Kim Darroch several times. In fact, after the election in which America chose Donald Trump as our 45th president, his team at the British embassy reached out to me first of all the allied nations to establish contact with the presidential transition team, of which I was a member before I officially joined the administration. Perhaps they felt that, as I had been born and raised in the U.K., establishing positive working relations through me with the president-elect would be easiest. And I have to say, I was impressed in all our meetings with the British team that mostly focused on counterterrorism and national security cooperation, which was my primary remit.

If only Ambassador Darroch had been as professional as his subordinates.

The cables leaked to the Daily Mail are scandalous for many reasons, none of which have to do with time-traveling cyborgs. The first is the level of incompetence and laziness they demonstrate on behalf of the seniormost diplomat representing the nation that traditionally has been our closest European ally.

Kim writes of an insecure president and a chaotic and inept White House, using the most hackneyed tropes of the fake news one can imagine. What is remarkable, is how there is not one original piece of information in anything Sir Kim wrote. In fact, all of his supersensitive “classified” reporting could have been cut directly from the pages of the Huffington Post or the Daily Beast. One wonders what London’s ambassador was doing in Washington all these years, because he wasn’t using any diplomatic skills to acquire unique information especially useful for his government and the British prime minister. Her Majesty’s government could have saved itself some trouble and expense by subscribing to the Trump-hating New York Times or a CNN transcription service.

And this isn’t just a critique of laziness. This is utter and total lack of professionalism. Yes, we know that the fake news cannot but call the Trump White House “chaotic” and “inept” because that’s all they’ve done for two-and-a-half years. But so what? Did Sir Kim ever open the window? Did he ever step away from the fancy cocktail parties and white-tie receptions and actually look at what we have been doing?

By any metric, the policies of Donald J. Trump have been historically successful. The Dow just broke 27,000 this week. Twenty-seven thousand. The physical caliphate of ISIS is no more. North Korea has stopped illegal nuclear warhead testing and ballistic missile launches. NATO is finally paying its dues. We have the lowest unemployment in 50 years. How hard would it have been for any diplomat at any rank to report the truth?

Again, this isn’t about one lazy ambassador; it’s about the bankrupt elite that Sir Kim Darroch represents. He had to trash President Trump because President Trump is not a swamp dweller like he is. Truth is, the “swamp” is global. And it should surprise no one that Kim Darroch represented Britain at the European Union and is an anti-Brexit internationalist.

On November 8, 2016, America sent a message to the world, to the Sir Kims in every capital, not just ours: the people want their sovereignty back. Kim and his ilk just can’t stand it. Why? Well, to put it in terms they can understand: Donald Trump is our John Connor.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact

Photo Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democrats • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Middle East • Post

Are the Democrats Rooting for Iran?

Trump Derangement Syndrome sure makes Democrats do some pretty crazy things. In 2018, for example, the president’s one-year anniversary in office triggered protesters to the point of screaming helplessly at the sky. And who could forget the collective meltdown leftists experienced following the nomination and subsequent confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh?

But now, Democrats have taken this insanity one step further, siding with Iran—the world’s leading sponsor of international terrorism—for the sole purpose of damaging President Trump.

As Iran has repeatedly attempted to provoke the West into a military confrontation over the past month, tensions between the United States and the Islamic Republic have reached critical mass. On June 13, Iran reportedly attacked two foreign oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, an area controlled by the United States and its allies to ensure the free flow of commerce.

Then, on June 20, Iran shot down a U.S. military drone flying in international air space in the same region. It’s important to note that despite Iran’s belligerent behavior, we have not carried out a retaliatory response.

But that hasn’t stopped Iran from proclaiming (without evidence) that it’s actually America that has engaged in “aggressive and provocative action.” It seems to be using the tried-and-true misinformation technique of accusing your opponent of that which you are most guilty. Unfortunately, it seems to be working for now.

Quick to criticize the president’s administration for any perceived error, Democrats readily accepted the narrative hand-fed to them by one of our nation’s largest Middle East adversaries. Leading the charge on this front was Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). One of the supposed “fresh faces” of the Democratic Party, Omar leaped at the opportunity to follow Iran’s lead, immediately shifting blame toward the United States.

On June 20, Omar tweeted, “American leaders have contrived pretexts to justify American aggression. That’s what Donald Trump’s administration—and especially its national security adviser, John Bolton—is doing now with Iran.”

Others in her party swiftly followed suit, adopting the position that America, not Iran, was responsible for escalating tension in the Middle East. Most notably, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) lashed out at the president, claiming Trump had “instigated another unnecessary conflict” and that “[t]here is no justification for further escalating this crisis.”

The Democratic Party’s wanton spread of misinformation is reckless and feeds into the overall goal of our adversaries: to weaken America’s potential response by sowing internal division. By seizing every opportunity to attack the current administration over imagined missteps, liberals are creating ideological divides within nonpartisan issues.

In its approach to dealing with the world’s leading sponsor of terror, our country needs to be united. Yet sadly, their party’s drive to secure a political win is greater than their desire to keep the country safe.

It’s not the first time Democrats have pulled this stunt, either. Recently, in a similar fashion, Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) attempted to derail the administration’s Launch Service Agreement (LSA). Spearheaded by the Air Force, the LSA program would let the United States develop domestic launch vehicles to secure America’s place in space—undoubtedly important to our nation’s security interests.

Because the Trump Administration promotes this program, Democrats reflexively had to fight it. Without evidence, Smith labeled the initiative as unfair and attempted to hamstring its progress with laborious congressional investigations. And even after the Air Force decided to push forward with the project, Smith tried to obstruct it legislatively.

This pattern of behavior is typical with members of #TheResistance. Regardless of the potential consequences for the rest of the nation, they’ll fight the president’s every move.

And it only seems to be getting worse. The Left’s ridiculous inclination to side with Iran is just another clear illustration of how far they’ve detached from reality. Apparently, Trump Derangement Syndrome is a progressive condition. We shouldn’t trust Democrats to make national security decisions anytime soon.

Photo Credit: Iranian Presidency / Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

America • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • North Korea • Post

Trump’s Historic Moves in Korea

Everyone has seen the historic images on TV—with the upcoming 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon and Richard Nixon’s call from the Oval Office. I remember watching it in awe as a young child, on July 20, 1969.

We recently had another historic first that was widely viewed—the president of the United States stepping into North Korea and the Communist dictator stepping into the South—but those pictures can’t fully capture the true significance of the moment.

Donald Trump’s trip from the floodlit halls of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan to the overcast gloom of the Korean Peninsula’s Joint Security Area had to be undertaken in secret. Unlike so much of the theater and ritual in modern international politics, this was 100 percent authentic.

The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) is one of the most tense, dangerous locations on Earth. Two standing armies—the North Korean People’s Army (KPA) and the United Nations Forces led by the United States and South Korea—stand toe to toe on war footing, with an armistice in place since June 27, 1953. Miscalculations and provocations have resulted in armed exchanges over the years, and both militaries have been prepared to return to full-blown war at a moment’s notice.

When President Trump stepped out over the Demarcation Line, he did so alone, boldly marching out to meet with Kim Jong Un and his fussing retinue. This was not a Hollywood moment where if it does not go well there is another take . . . this was literally life and death.

It was just yards from this spot that North Korean guards kidnapped a group of American soldiers in 1976 and hacked two of them to death with an ax as a “show of force.” That’s how touchy they were about the American troops trimming a tree that changed border post sight lines—23 years after the truce. To say that the Joint Security Area is a place where pulses run high would be a gross understatement.

Even through the television screen, it was obvious that the North Korean soldiers were completely unaccustomed to and unprepared for the kind of openness and civility that the event demanded. Newly minted White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham had to physically struggle with the Communist guards inside a South Korean meeting hall, putting her body on the line to get them reluctantly to allow American reporters through.

This was cutting-edge diplomacy, and Donald Trump was right there on the front line, both figuratively and literally. And with the political stakes so high, it required both moral and physical courage. I’ve walked the same ground, seen the same scene, and felt the palpable tension in the air.

I have it on good authority that several advisors urged the president not to make this attempt. Certainly no other president since the partition of Korea would have gone through with it.

But Donald Trump did not leave private life to follow in the timid footsteps of conventional politicians. He was not elected to “stay the course,” but rather to change direction and devise a whole new approach—to make things happen.

As it has in the past, President Trump’s boldness paid off. Democrats are complaining that his historic steps into North Korea were a mere “photo op,” but the real significance of the visit goes deeper.

For more than 60 years, no U.S. president has even had an opportunity for a gesture like this. Their options were just two: “get tough” by escalating sanctions, increasing military patrols, and so on, or seek “reproach” by trying to appease the hermit Stalinist state with economic aid. Both strategies have been tried repeatedly over the years, but neither has worked.

The peninsula remains divided, the North Korean people are still enslaved by their government, and the Kim regime has possessed nuclear weapons since the George W. Bush administration. But the old strategies that created the problems and failed to achieve progress cannot be expected to resolve them. In situations like this, fortune favors the bold.

Think of Nixon’s famous trip to China, or Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev’s trip to the American heartland in 1959. Both trips would have been impossible for their predecessors. Neither of these bold moves achieved some great diplomatic breakthrough in and of themselves, but they each broke down intangible walls that made peace and cooperation possible in the long run.

President Trump’s steps into North Korea will have the same kind of impact—we don’t know exactly where the road may lead, but we can be confident that we’re headed in the right direction. In some way, North Korea’s self-imposed isolation from the free world changed forever when Donald Trump took that short, momentous walk across the border.

That moment in time, captured for all the world to see, was a risky but confident step forward by President Trump that will change the course of history.

Photo Credit: Handout/Dong-A Ilbo via Getty Images

Center for American Greatness • Deep State • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • North Korea • Post • The Media

Donald Trump the Statesman

When Donald Trump took office, his predecessor warned him that North Korea was going to be his biggest international headache. Within months of receiving that warning from Barack Obama, the Trump team was faced with escalating nuclear threats from Pyongyang. The world braced as a nuclear standoff appeared to unfold and as President Trump moved U.S. forces into the region, issuing threatening tweets in response to escalating North Korean provocations. 

Meanwhile, the hateful Left and its allies embedded within the so-called deep state, decried the president’s supposed “warmongering” against North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. Once Trump stunned the world and met with Kim in Singapore last summer—without preconditions—those same Leftists and deep staters insisted Trump was appeasing an intractable dictator intent on acquiring nuclear weapons to use against the United States and its allies. 

In reality, Trump was pursuing an America First strategy that used all the tools of statecraft available to his—tools most of these “experts” had forgotten how to use. 

Those Who Want Respect Give Respect
For too long, American policymakers had an all-or-nothing view of foreign policy. Either the United States got everything it wanted through force or it got nothing. Threats, such as those from North Korea, festered. 

This was odd, considering that the United States, as the reputed global hegemon, had many other tools beyond the military that it could use to mitigate and deter threats. Trump, a man who until a few years ago was a real-estate-tycoon-turned-reality-television personality, somehow grasped this basic fact better than the supposed wise men and women who have spent their lives working in foreign policy. 

Trump did use military brinkmanship, and willingly, but he also was willing to consider other methods—notably sanctions and public diplomacy through his unpopular but effective tweets—to force Pyongyang to calm down. Once calm, Trump then offered Kim Jong-un the olive branch. Ever since the Singapore summit last summer, the situation between the West and North Korea has been improving.

Ignorami of the Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Party
Unlike the foreign policy establishment, Trump is not beholden to the predominant theories and assumptions that most “experts” hold close. This might frustrate the elites, but it does allow Trump greater flexibility to achieve the ultimate objective: the mitigation of the North Korean nuclear weapons threat and, therefore, the reduction of the risk of war.

Since the North Korean nuclear threat became prevalent during the 1990s, the permanent bipartisan fusion party that runs Washington has been unable to do much in the way of ending that threat—while watching as Pyongyang worked itself closer to acquiring nuclear weapons. Trump may not have permanently ended the North Korean threat, but he did stop all North Korean missile tests for more than 400 days. Even after the setback that happened during the second summit between Trump and Kim in Vietnam, there was only one North Korean missile test and it was conducted by a shorter-range missile than the ones that Pyongyang was launching before Trump met with Kim in Singapore last summer.

The people in Washington who run our foreign policy establishment fancy themselves statesmen (and women). They are not. These individuals are beholden to stodgy ideologies and methodologies formed in the previous century. While not everything they believe is wrong simply because they believe it, much of it is wrong nonetheless. North Korea is a terrible place run by an evil regime, true. It is undeserving, certainly, of the attention of the West. But simply ignoring the problem is not really a workable solution. By isolating North Korea, America has turned a festering threat into an implacable foe. 

These Are Not Real Foreign Policies
Virtue-signaling and thumping our chests at Pyongyang has done little to dissuade the Kim regime from pursuing its malicious foreign policy objectives. 

At the same time, the United States (and our regional allies, including South Korea and Japan) cannot afford a major war with North Korea right now. Should a conflict with North Korea erupt, it will also galvanize both Pyongyang’s main benefactor of China as well as Russia against the United States. 

It remains to be seen if the Trump Administration’s North Korea policy will work in the long-run. For the moment, however, North Korea is nowhere near the threat to the United States and our allies that it was just two years ago. This is explicitly because President Trump did not listen to the “experts” in foreign policy. Instead, he followed his instincts. Whatever happens next, the Americans will be dealing with North Korea from a much better position than the one in which the Obama Administration left us.

Far from being the Neville Chamberlain in Munich moment the NeverTrump buffoons had hoped for, the Trump-Kim relationship appears to have blossomed along similar lines to that of the Reagan-Gorbachev relationship. Thus, Trump is turning out to be a solid statesman. We are lucky to have him as president as opposed to those proud members of the permanent bipartisan fusion party who are running against him in 2020. 

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact

Photo credit: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

America • China • Foreign Policy • Post

The South China Sea of the Moon

If you want to control maritime traffic among the most populous nations on earth, you have to control the South China Sea. Over one-third of all global shipping passes through the South China Sea, transporting raw materials, fuel, and manufactured goods to and from the great economies of Asia: China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan. The South China Sea is also resource rich, with abundant fisheries and vast reserves of oil and gas waiting to be tapped beneath its shallow waters.

On the surface of the new world of the 21st century, the eighth continent, otherwise known as the moon, there is another area of even greater strategic significance than the South China Sea—the water-rich polar regions of the moon. Controlling this portion of the lunar surface could be a prerequisite to more quickly establishing a permanent presence in space. Confirmed less than a year ago, these water resources are frozen in the shadows of the craters, especially around the lunar south pole.

Much has been made of the potential for humans to colonize Mars. With abundant water, a thin atmosphere, a 25-hour day, and mineral resources, it certainly is feasible to eventually colonize Mars. But in our enthusiasm to launch a Mars mission, we risk overlooking the strategic imperative to establish bases that can access water resources on the moon. Here are some benefits of such a moon base:

  • Only four days from Earth versus a minimum of 90 days to reach Mars.
  • Only one-sixth of Earth’s gravity versus Mars having one-third Earth’s gravity, meaning far less fuel required to lift payloads off the lunar surface.
  •  No atmosphere, meaning landing on the lunar surface requires less complex spacecraft engineering and less maneuvering payload.
  • Strategically located with military benefits including a platform to launch killer satellites in retrograde orbits around Earth.
  •  Land based which creates the ability to establish a harder target, far less vulnerable to attack compared to space stations orbiting Earth or the Moon.
  • Water and minerals sufficient to generate habitat atmosphere, rocket fuel, and raw materials for base infrastructure.
  •  By virtue of the polar location, it is possible to set up solar power collectors on the lunar peaks that can generate continuous power.
  • Capable of becoming a self-sufficient base from which to provision and launch robotic mining expeditions to asteroids, as well as shipping lunar-sourced finished goods back to Earth or to build a Mars colony.
  •  Potential to become a source of materials with which to build satellite solar power stations in Earth orbit, along with limitless other manufacturing possibilities.

Where the South China Sea has strategic archipelagos of islands, the polar regions of the Moon have strategic archipelagos of water rich craters. Principle among these, with the lunar south pole forming a bullseye almost dead center inside of it, is the Shackleton Crater, named after Ernest Shackleton, the first human to explore Antarctica. Sprinkled around Shackleton are other strategic craters, Sverdrup, Haworth, Shoemaker, and Faustini.

As the image below shows, surface ice is concentrated at the moon’s south pole. Because portions of the craters in the moon’s polar regions are in permanent shadow, ice is able to form without getting burned off. Surface ice has also been detected on the moon’s north pole, although surveys so far show much less of it by comparison.

When talking about strategic risks and opportunities, it is important not to get mired in the technology of our time and ignore the unknown unknowns, those unforeseeable technological breakthroughs that will leapfrog existing economic and military barriers. The islands of the South China Sea are now fortresses, occupied by the Chinese military. But these fortresses cannot withstand a surgical strike using hypersonic projectiles, or particle beams, or a swarm of attack drones, much less from systems we can’t yet imagine.

Nevertheless, possession is nine-tenths of the law. The Law of the Sea, much like the laws and treaties currently governing development in outer space, is just words. When an international tribunal at The Hague ruled against China in 2016 in a dispute over its illegal occupation of the islands of the South China Sea, the Chinese shrugged their shoulders, and deployed another missile battery.

Notwithstanding technological breakthroughs that surely will occur in the next 50 years, the presence of water on the moon means that the primary resources necessary for rocket fuel, along with water and atmosphere for human habitats, do not have to be lifted off of earth. In the here and now, these craters have compelling strategic value.

Not only is the south pole of the moon a strategic site because of its water resources and potential to generate uninterruptible solar energy, it is near the location of the Aitken basin, a massive crater stretching 1,240 miles across the far side of the moon. Scientists recently have determined there is a deposit of extremely dense material buried in this crater—possibly the remnants of a massive asteroid that crashed into the moon. The potential mineral riches in this crater offer additional motivation to establish bases on the south pole of the moon.

China has taken notice. It is not a coincidence that their recent, and first, successful Chang’e 4 moon landing was in the center of the Aitken basin, which is only a few hundred miles from the moon’s south pole. China’s not alone. India intends to land a rover on the moon’s south pole this September. Even a private spacefaring company, Blue Origin, owned by Amazon titan Jeff Bezos, has announced its intention to send its Blue Moon lander to the lunar south pole

The technological spin-offs that accrued to America’s space programs of the 20th century are well documented. America’s investments in the Apollo program, in its heyday exactly 50 years ago, hastened the development of the integrated circuit, dramatic advances in rocketry, “remarkable discoveries in civil, electrical, aeronautical and engineering science,” complex software, lightweight and incredibly durable composite materials, and—for a few specifics—everything from CT scanners to liquid-cooled garments to freeze-dried food.

Surely an accelerated program to establish bases on the moon would help ensure American technological preeminence in the 21st century. But that’s not the only reason to do it.

Bases on the south pole of the moon are critical for establishing a military and economic presence in outer space. They are the source of raw materials for exploration further into the solar system; they also constitute the high ground in the great game back here on Earth. NASA has announced plans to send astronauts to the lunar south pole by 2024. Let’s hope that will not be too late.

The space lanes of tomorrow, like the sea lanes of today, will have choke points, ports, supply chains, and trading hubs. The south pole of the moon is the South China Sea of Earth. And just like the South China Sea, it will be stealthily and deceitfully occupied and militarized by a foreign power, a fait accompli, unless we get there first.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact

Photo Credit: Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

America • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Post • Russia

Protecting Poland Should Be a Priority

The aging Russian bear is yet again prowling the forests of Eastern Europe. From the Baltics to the Nordic states—and everything in between—European leaders are girding themselves for inevitable conflict with Moscow. Since 2007, when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his intention to challenge America’s unipolar world order, Russia has engaged in a series of military campaigns aimed at breaking U.S. influence in what Moscow belligerently calls its “Near-Abroad” (mainly Eastern Europe and the Caucasus but also parts of the Middle East). Russia has further extended its reach in places farther afield, such as Africa, Latin America, and the Asia-Pacific.

The good news is that the Russian threat today is nowhere near as potent as it was during the Cold War. Still, the Russians are able to threaten the world with advanced missile technology, the world’s largest nuclear weapons stockpile, and they have significant capabilities in cyberspace, space, and in the realm of public diplomacy.

Russia’s military threat is most profoundly felt in Eastern Europe. Here, Russia shares a porous land border with these countries and Moscow possesses a large, though old, tank force poised to strike deep into these poorly defended lands, at any time Moscow should decide to do so.

NATO in the Age of Trump
Since taking office, President Donald J. Trump has had to contend with the view, propagated by his political opponents around the world, that he is a “Russian stooge.” This claim is based on lies and partisan rancor. In fact, Trump has been the toughest president on Russia since Ronald Reagan. Trump has also reinvigorated NATO, contrary to what his opponents claimed he would do.

The NATO of today, unfortunately, is not the NATO of yesterday.

During the Cold War, NATO was truly the greatest defensive military alliance in history. Its members shared the burden along with the United States to protect Western Europe from Soviet aggression. Key members, such as the United Kingdom, West Germany, and Turkey guarded the frontiers of freedom against the threat of Soviet totalitarianism.

Today, NATO is fraying. It has become too big for its own good and the interests of its European members are drastically diverging.

NATO’s once-pivotal southern defensive point of Turkey has become a threat to the West; Germany is weak and looking for a new political paradigm away from Trump’s America; and France is more interested in playing the middle-man between Russia and the United States than they are in protecting Europe from a Russia that their elite continuously lists as a strategic threat. The United Kingdom is also struggling to determine its own future, making its contribution to NATO suspect. Other NATO members, such as Italy and Spain, are too preoccupied by the issue of illegal immigration from North Africa and the Middle East to be concerned with the Russian threat in the east. Greece has strengthened its ties with the West, yet the fact remains that Greece shares deep cultural ties with Russia, due to their Eastern Orthodox Christian faith.

In the east, where the Russian threat is most profoundly felt, it is only Poland that is strong enough to mount a reliable defense against Russian revanchism. In this way, then, Poland is playing the role that West Germany once did against the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Yet, in contrast with the Cold War, both Washington and Brussels (where NATO is headquartered) refuse full support to Poland in its efforts to deter Russian aggression. Further, traditional NATO partners, such as those in France and Germany, seek to stymie the enhancement of Polish power relative to their own within the framework of the NATO alliance.

Building Fort Trump in Poland
Earlier this year, the president called for the creation of a massive U.S. base in Poland—jokingly referred to as “Fort Trump”—wherein scores of American combat troops and equipment would serve alongside Polish forces, in an effort to deter any potential Russian aggression.

Rather than fulfill these ambitions, Washington has opted instead to deploy a meager 1,000 noncombat U.S. troops to Poland. As Rachel Rizzo of the Center for New American Security commented, “I don’t see the added deterrent effect of sending an extra 1,000 troops. The U.S. already has rotational forces in Eastern Europe that have proven to be effective in deterring Russia.”

Rizzo’s assessment is correct.

The proponents of this limited move claim that this is much better than the creation of “Fort Trump” in Poland because it will “not violate a 1997 security agreement that prohibits the permanent basing of NATO troops in Warsaw Pact countries.” This is bizarre, considering that Washington has spent the last 30 years ignoring other agreements made with Moscow about the limitation of NATO and European Union expansion into former Warsaw Pact states.

In fact, the United States precipitated the current geopolitical crisis with Russia.

For decades, Washington encouraged the seemingly endless expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe, knowing full well that Moscow viewed these places in much the same way that Washington views Latin America. Washington would never countenance the presence of Russian or Chinese forces in Cuba or Mexico, yet Washington expected Moscow simply to accept unlimited NATO expansion into their western periphery as a fait accompli. And, now that the Russo-American relationship has broken down to nearly Cold War-era levels of animosity, Washington has opted to undercut its own interests by denying Poland the resources needed to better defend against Russian aggression.

While President Trump has been tougher on Russia than any president in the last 30 years, he has also indicated his willingness to do the mother-of-all geopolitical deals with Russia. Yet, in order to negotiate effectively with a counterpart like Vladimir Putin, Trump needs to have leverage and come from a position of credible strength. Placing “Fort Trump” in Poland would be the leverage Trump needs to get his deal. At the same time, it would enhance the defensive capabilities of those NATO states most threatened by potential Russian aggression.

Russia Can Be Dealt With from a Credible Position of Strength
Russia is a pest under Putin but it is not, we can be thankful, the Soviet Union.

Putin is a conservative imperial nationalist with a transactional and realist foreign policy. No matter what Russian propaganda may say—or what Putin may personally despise about the West—if Washington presents Moscow with a deal, Russia will compromise and opt for diplomacy rather than force.

If present trends continue, then Russia may be compelled to take an irresponsible military action against the United States and its partners if only because the West has pushed Russia away diplomatically while at the same time the West has failed to enhance its defensive perimeter with adequate strength—particularly in Poland.

The mere threat of building “Fort Trump” in Poland, coupled with the Trump Administration’s other bold moves against Russia globally, would accomplish the West’s goals of deterring Russia, strengthening NATO, and preventing a military confrontation of any kind with Russia.

After all, the world needs Washington and Moscow cooperating with—rather than competing against—each other. Protecting Poland would go a long way in achieving these goals. Continued weakness on the part of Washington invites more aggression from Moscow.

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Photo Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

China • Foreign Policy • military • Post

We Must Mine Space Before China Does

The object of the Chinese game of “Go” is to outmaneuver your adversary by surrounding him until he has nowhere else to go. Once totally encircled, your rival is forced to surrender and you are victorious. It has become passé to claim that China has been playing “Go” while the United States has been playing checkers, but it is closer to the truth than we care to admit.

Since opening itself up to the West in the 1970s, China has been striving to insert itself into every aspect of the world’s economy. Once it integrated itself within this framework, Beijing worked assiduously to dominate the most strategic sectors. If the Chinese could not dominate these sectors, then they sought to become so important that refusing to do business with China would be financially detrimental.

China Corners Rare Earth Metals
China’s encirclement strategy continues today, even as the trade war rages between the two titans.

China has become so enmeshed in the global supply chain that, for years, they have managed to work themselves into an important position in the vital rare earth metals market. For the record, rare earth metals are essential for any and all modern pieces of technology. Everything from your iPad to a cruise missile requires rare earths to function.

Beijing has endeavored to have an outsized influence in this market not only for the sake of making money (although they do plenty of that) but also because Beijing knows such an outsized influence would complicate the ability of the rest of the world—specifically the United States and its allies—to have access to these important minerals.

There is some debate as to whether the Chinese could actually deprive the United States of the vital rare earths. In 2010, the Chinese attempted to restrict access to rare earths and the world market was able to correct for this flagrant abuse and keep trade going.

Rare earth metals get their name not because they are hard to find. Instead, they are called “rare” because they are hard to reach. China’s mercantilist trade policy is akin to staking out every waterhole in the desert—only rather than cutting off access to water (although, that’s not beyond them—just ask the Indians), the Chinese are doing it with rare earth metals.

Even if China cannot restrict American access to rare earths, the fact that 35 percent of global reserves (the most in the world) are in Chinese control, and that China produced 70 percent of total rare earths in 2018, and that 80 percent of rare earths consumed by the United States in 2018 came from China, means the threat to American high-tech is real. Still, the United States is working with its partners to overcome this apparent deficit.

Meanwhile, America is focusing on getting its own rare earth mines back online after decades of neglect. Yet, the Chinese have the United States by the short hairs—at least for the time being. Until the United States and its partners can secure the rare earth metals they need, the risk will increase, meaning that global prices will increase. This is another example of China outmaneuvering the United States.

To Break China’s Encirclement, We Must Go to Space
There is one, unconventional long term strategy for overcoming the Chinese advantage in this vital industry. That strategy is space mining.

China has encircled the United States in the rare earth industry. But the United States can still look up and go above the Chinese encirclement, thereby breaking it. Many of the celestial bodies in the solar system—including the moon and the millions of asteroids that separate the inner solar system from the outer planets—are chock full of these rare earths.

Once the United States establishes the infrastructure necessary for space mining, gaining access to a steady stream of these vital resources will be relatively easy. Besides, space mining could be a new market that would be worth trillions of dollars.

Yet, America has little time to implement a robust plan for capturing essential asteroids (and laying claim to resource-rich areas of the moon). China is already on the moon, testing the lunar surface to see where a viable mining colony can be established. The United States cannot simply hope that it can overcome the advantages China has spent years building up in the rare earth metals market.

What’s more, the current trade war with China is not going away anytime soon. The United States nevertheless has comparative advantages in the strategic domain of space. Those advantages are in danger of eroding, however, so time is of the essence.

By maximizing American commitment to space mining now, the United States can hope to never again be fearful of the Chinese in the essential rare earth metals market. Therefore, Congress must move federal research and development dollars into the budding space mining industry while at the same time encouraging American start-up firms to get to the moon and nearby resource-rich asteroids. Fast.

Space holds the key to America’s (and humanity’s) future. It is only a matter of time before a nation-state captures the strategic high ground of space and fully exploits it to their advantage. Chinese investment and commitment to space development means that the United States stands a real chance of losing out. And, as America’s comparative advantages in space recede, Washington will find itself increasingly hamstrung on Earth.

China has managed to corner key markets and integrate itself in the world economy. It has effectively encircled the United States in key areas. The only way to break Beijing’s encirclement, then, is to go above them and harness the seemingly limitless bounty that space has to offer before Beijing blocks that last refuge in their pernicious encirclement campaign.

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Photo Credit: Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images

Foreign Policy • Middle East • military • Post

America Can Afford to Stay Calm with Iran

President Trump recently ordered and then called off a retaliatory strike against Iran for destroying a U.S. surveillance drone. The U.S. asserts that the drone was operating in international space. Iran claims it was in Iranian airspace.

Antiwar critics of Trump’s Jacksonian rhetoric turned on a dime to blast him as a weak, vacillating leader afraid to call Iran to account.

Trump supporters countered that the president had shown Iran a final gesture of patience—and cleared the way for a stronger retaliation should Iran foolishly interpret his one-time forbearance as weakness to be exploited rather than as magnanimity to be reciprocated.

The charge of Trump being an appeaser was strange coming from leftist critics, especially given Trump’s past readiness to bomb Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for allegedly using chemical weapons, his willingness to destroy ISIS through enhanced air strikes, and his liberation of American forces in Afghanistan from prior confining rules of engagement.

The truth is that Iran and the United States are now engaged in a great chess match. But the stakes are not those of intellectual gymnastics. The game is no game, but involves the lives, and possible deaths, of thousands.

The latest American-Iranian standoff is not like that of 1979-1981, when theocratic revolutionaries removed the Shah, stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, and took American hostages for 444 days—and humiliated America.

Iran fears there are now no such American liabilities. Forty years later, America has no presence in Iran. It has long since given up on bringing Tehran back into the Western fold.

There are no Americans in Iran to be kidnapped and no Iranian allies inside Iran to be saved. Iran has no leverage over the United States, at least not as it did in 1979.

Nor is the current confrontation reminiscent of the 2003-2011 tensions in the region. The United States is not fighting a ground war in the Middle East, much less one on the border of Iran.

The U.S. no longer believes in nation-building the autocratic Middle East into Western-style democracies. American troops are not in jeopardy from Iranian ground attacks. Americans have no financial or psychological capital invested in liberalizing Iraq, much less Iran and its environs.

Nor is the situation like the chronic Iranian tensions of the last 40 years in which an oil-dependent U.S. feared Iran closing the Strait of Hormuz, or the sudden cutoff of imported oil, ensuring Nixon-era gas lines.

America is now the largest producer of gas and oil in the world, soon to be the largest exporter as well. The U.S. economy is booming. Iran’s is imploding.

The economies of China, Japan and Europe depend on the free flow of Middle Eastern oil. But China is currently in a trade war of nerves with the United States. An appeasing Europe doesn’t have the desire to help ramp up sanctions on Iran to prevent its nuclearization, nor is it eager to accede to U.S. entreaties to increase defense spending and enhance the NATO alliance. Japan is trying to deny Iranian aggression in fear that the global oil market might spike on news of Persian Gulf tensions.

In other words, both allies and enemies expect the United States to ensure that their shipping and their oil are safe.

Nor are we too concerned for our longtime ally Israel with regard to Iran. An impoverished Iran is bereft of allies and remains an international pariah, desperate to sell its embargoed oil to any rogue autocracy shameless enough to buy it. Israel is nuclear and has never been militarily stronger. It is now self-sufficient in oil and gas.

Israel has forged new ties with China, Russia and the European Union, and renewed its traditionally close relationship with the United States. Iran’s neighbors in the Arab world are either in a mess or clandestinely allied with Israel. The Palestinian Authority and Hamas have never been weaker vis-a-vis Israel.

Time is on the American side. Each day Iran grows weaker and poorer, and the U.S. stronger and richer.

Iran’s only hope is to draw the Trump administration into a messy Iraq-like ground war, or, at worst, a Balkans-style, months-long bombing campaign—with plenty of CNN footage of civilian collateral damage.

How, then, can the U.S. deter Iranian escalation without getting into an unpopular war before the heated 2020 election? It merely needs to persist in the present standoff: Ramp up the sanctions even tighter and ignore pathetic Iranian attacks on foreign ships.

If Tehran preemptively attacks an American ship or plane, it will be met by a disproportionate response, preferably one aimed not at civilian infrastructure but at the Iranian military hierarchy, Revolutionary Guard and theocratic elite.

Otherwise, the Trump administration can sit back and monitor Iran’s international ostracism and economic isolation while remaining unpredictable and enigmatic, ready to hit back hard at any attack on Americans but without being suckered into an optional war with Iran in the perennial Middle East quagmire.

Photo Credit: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images


America • Conservatives • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Middle East • Post • the Presidency

Give Tucker Carlson the Nobel Peace Prize

After months of escalating tensions, Iran shot down an unmanned American military drone last week. In response, a retaliatory American airstrike had been planned. At the last moment, President Trump called it off, explaining in a series of tweets that it was unnecessary and disproportionate.

According to reports, he was influenced by severe criticism leveled against our Iran policy by Fox News personality Tucker Carlson. On his show early last week, Carlson called National Security Advisor John Bolton a “bureaucratic tapeworm” who seems to have learned nothing from America’s failed venture in Iraq. He also has privately advised the president against war with Iran as a mistake of policy and a serious impediment to reelection, according to numerous reports.

For this, Tucker Carlson deserves a Nobel Peace Prize, to be shared with every administration figure who quietly argued against escalation.

More important, President Trump deserves our respect and thanks for sticking to his guns and not being dragged into another war in the Middle East by the unwise “wise men” of Washington, particularly the out-of-step Bolton.

Drone Shootdown Last in a Series of Tense Moments
The destruction of the U.S. surveillance drone comes after several months of bad behavior blamed on Iran: sabotage, mining of ships, and several explosions on Japanese and Dutch merchant ships. These events have been accompanied by America’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran and escalating rhetoric from the U.S. “national security community.”

In this complicated situation, some—including me—have speculated that the various provocations were “false flags” by others interested in fomenting a war between Iran and the United States. Such a war would be a real mistake.

We have options short of war with Iran. Our tensions with Iran appears to be deliberately enhanced by Bolton, among others, and a war with Iran—like the earlier war with Iraq—would be unpredictable, expensive, and falsely conflate our interests with those in the region who have a strong interest in seeing Iran brought to heel.

The Facts Surrounding the Drone Shootdown Are Murky
The downing of our drone is a wrong suffered by the United States, but only if it happened in a particular way. Violating another nation’s airspace is technically an act of war. It is we, rather than Iran, who would be guilty of escalation if this happened. Iran claims the drone entered its airspace, but the United States says the drone was in international airspace. The airspace in question only permits a very narrow corridor where a drone, or any other military aircraft, could transit the Straits of Hormuz without violating Iranian territory.

There is no way any layperson could know for sure where the drone was when it was shot down, but it’s not beyond belief it had drifted or been flown deliberately into Iranian airspace. After all, Iran had captured another U.S. drone in 2011, and the wreckage was recovered over Iranian soil.

Alternately, as President Trump said, the shootdown could have resulted from an Iranian general acting “loose and stupid.” Iran has released detailed maps of the incident that accord with its version of events. Notably, in a far-from-stupid act of restraint, Iran declined to attack an American P-8 surveillance plane that was also in the area and, according to them, also violated Iranian airspace.

Trump recognizes something of critical importance. Our country can stumble into a war. Others below him are in a position to make such a provocation happen, whether for ideological reasons, a quest for personal glory, or mere carelessness. And that there’s a time to fight and also a time to back down, just as in any other conflict.

Trump’s conciliatory rhetoric in the wake of this incident—and even the threatened and then “called off” strike—may be part of a broader information operation to deter and de-escalate things. The message is clear: America can attack and is on the brink of doing so, and thus everyone needs to cool it.

Of course, Iran’s attack on the drone, but not the manned P-8 reconnaissance plane, sends a similar reciprocal message.

Trump Is Trumping the Wishes of Certain Swamp-Dwellers
Trump, in spite of the caricature of him in the press, is in much the same position JFK was in during the Cuban Missile Crisis, resisting the call to escalate tensions from short-sighted national security professionals. The post-Vietnam Republican Party has often abdicated thinking seriously about national security, instead saying that we should “just leave it to the generals!” This is both unconstitutional and stupid.

Such an approach is unconstitutional because we have civilian control of the military through an elected President, and Congress is supposed to declare wars. Thus, there are two layers of political control over military action. The Constitution recognizes that not merely the military, but the whole nation goes to war, and that the people’s elected officials should control when and how that happens.

The “leave it to the generals” advice is stupid because it outsources nontechnical questions of policy to the military and the intelligence community. This abdication by elected officials treats questions of war and peace as some form of arcane knowledge inaccessible to voters and even the commander in chief.

But such questions are ones where common sense matters. The best sources are history books, where we learn the generals have frequently gotten it wrong. And since foreign policy is not chiefly a technical question, there is no uniformity of thought among the “generals”; being both soldiers as well as citizens, they have diverse opinions on such things.

Trump Rightly Listens to His Friends
Without a doubt, Iran is not a friendly country. Keeping Iran (as well as its Sunni enemies) from acquiring nuclear weapons is beneficial to the United States. We also have a general interest in maintaining open sea lanes.

But America also faces a fiscal crisis, an immediate threat from mass immigration, as well as a developing one with China. In other words, there are many problems and threats in the world, and we have to prioritize.

Getting involved in another Mideast war would distract from other strategic priorities, such as maintaining our wealth and independence, and it would divert resources from both more immediate and more important threats. And to what end? Making things easier for Israel and Saudi Arabia by siding with them against their theological and regional competitor?

There are also broader considerations of justice in this incident, which implicate our national interest in husbanding “soft power.” Such power depends partly on our reputation as a country devoted to peace and justice, a reputation severely damaged by the Iraq War.

Are we 100 percent sure this robot was not in Iranian airspace? And, even if we are, is it worth 150 or more Iranian dead? Would Iran, which believes it was defending its own airspace, not create future problems for us and others if we got this wrong? Would sitting on our rights regarding the loss of a mechanical robot not cultivate some good will among the Iranian people, who are notably more pro-American than the subjects of our Sunni allies?

Somehow things got reversed between 2003 and 2019. The Republicans, who were “all in” for the Iraq War, now are split, and the larger portion appear to be in the peace camp. Tucker Carlson has his finger on the pulse of nationalist wing of the party. He not only reflects its views, he also often shapes them. He has undergone an evolution similar to many on the Right, an evolution that grew not only from the Iraq disaster but the later inconclusive interventions in places like Libya, Syria, and Yemen.

This evolution within the American Right and among the American people generally led to the rejection of the old interventionist caucus, as exemplified by such figures as Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Lindsey Graham. Instead, the evolution of beliefs within the GOP led to the nomination and election of Trump under the mantra of “America First.” We realized these wars did us little good and that our safety could be secured more readily by more sensible immigration policies. This is a popular position and also a correct one.

At various critical junctures, Trump has shown he’s responsive to counsel from his allies on the right and willing to fight the good fight. Ann Coulter’s criticism was apparently critical during the shutdown battle. Trump stuck to the Syria pullout (more or less) and let go of Defense Secretary James Mattis after the latter’s refusal to implement the president’s order to declare victory and go home. And he stuck by Brett Kavanaugh during one of the nastiest nomination fights in living memory, even after fellow Republicans were counseling him to withdraw the nomination.

We also know how the swamp is resisting him and pushing the president in the wrong direction, just as it has manipulated past presidents, both openly and covertly, to continue with business as usual. Trump’s voters and their proxies—party officials, guys like Tucker Carlson, and the rest of the right-wing commentariat—need to remind Trump that we voted for him chiefly because of what he said he was going to do, including not getting involved in useless wars that do not meet the criterion of America First.

As he did this week in Iran, Trump energizes us when he keeps his promises. If he keeps doing this, he will do a service for the country and the voters who elected him. And they will reelect him for keeping the faith and keeping the peace.

Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Administrative State • Deep State • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Middle East • Post

Lessons from Bill: Call the S.O.B.

In January 2016, Bill Clinton’s presidential library made public transcripts of telephone calls between the president and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The calls, placed between May 1997 and December 2000, represent, as the New York Times noted, “a time capsule . . . captur[ing] the priorities and perceptions of the moment that, judged with the harsh certainty of hindsight, look prescient or wildly off base.”

One remark of the former president is striking, not so much for its prescience or its predictive error but rather for what it tells us about the American foreign policy status quo and the potentially tragic enslavement of our presidents to media narrative. Speaking with Blair about Saddam Hussein, Clinton said, “If I weren’t constrained by the press, I would pick up the phone and call the son of a bitch. But that is such a heavy-laden decision in America. I can’t do that and I don’t think you can.”

Clinton’s statement is a loaded one. It tells us much about the traditional power of “media optics” in our national politics, much about the constraints such optics have placed upon our presidents—and much, also, about how President Donald Trump stands apart.

Would the world be a different place today if President Clinton had actually picked up the phone and called the S.O.B. in Baghdad? Clinton hoped to assure Saddam of his intentions: that he wanted the elimination of any chemical or biological weapons programs, not the destruction of the Iraqi regime itself. But, to keep the media at bay, Clinton relied upon third parties to make his point to Saddam. We are left only to wonder if Clinton’s message was ever really conveyed. And even if it was, did the Iraqi leader believe it given the impersonal and roundabout manner of its delivery?

As Winston Churchill once remarked, “meeting jaw to jaw is better than war.” This was not a call for some type of spineless appeasement—surrendering to the insatiable demands of a tyrant and strengthening that tyrant, in turn, to do his worst. Churchill’s call was for dialogue and interpersonal summit politics: discussion between leaders at the apex of government, without interference, and certainly without bowing before the dictates of the media.

Summitry Out of Favor
At root, President Clinton’s inability or unwillingness to call Saddam was based in politically-calculated risk-aversion. To protect his domestic image from media criticism—perhaps from those who would claim that he had “legitimized” Saddam Hussein, or that he was being “weak” just by talking to him—the president actually allowed a far greater risk to grow. As we now know, by 2003 a central part of the problem with Iraq was precisely a lack of communication. Bad information led to miscalculation on both sides. If Clinton, and George W. Bush after him, had actually been speaking to the S.O.B., might there have been verifiable assurances given about weapons programs? Could an understanding have been reached to avert war and all of its toll? We cannot know. But, as history has shown, it would have been worth a try. Given the rising tensions today with Iran, the lesson of this history is all the more important and worth remembering.

Summit politics—leader to leader, jaw to jaw—has fallen out of favor, in part, due to the rise of the administrative, bureaucratic state. Bill Clinton might have had domestic, political reasons to shy away from contacting bad actors in the world; but there was also a kind of “system-logic” to his choice. As the media repeatedly told us around the time of President Trump’s first meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, there are typically many exchanges between lower officials before any summit discussion is held. Trump’s meeting with that S.O.B. thus violated a modern “norm” of foreign policy: that everything must be worked out in advance by the technocrats, and that the actual leaders just show up to sign papers.

Such thinking is part and parcel of the impersonal, delegated politics that has slowly but surely stripped power from our elected officials—and thus from democracy, and thus from the people. Power has, instead, devolved to unelected, unaccountable personnel throughout the government, a permanent clique of insiders.

Understanding this development is key to recognizing why Clinton’s intuition about media fallout was right. It’s not that the media would have been so concerned with Clinton “legitimizing” a bad leader. What, after all, does this even mean? Holding power in a sovereign nation, commanding a military, and threatening not only a region but, potentially, the world itself qualifies one as a player on the global stage. Merely wishing this were not so is pointless.

And it’s not that the media might, for an opportunistic moment, parrot or amplify the most hawkish voices on the Right, deriding a president as “weak” for calling a foreign adversary. No. The real reason for Clinton’s media-fear, the real reason he didn’t just call the S.O.B., is this: Clinton knew, with all his media-savvy, that the D.C. press are friends with the D.C. permanent government class. These individuals are in the same club in the same city. They were in Washington when Clinton still lived in Little Rock. They would remain there when he moved to Chappaqua. For Clinton to go outside the lines, to usurp the planners and the permanent civil servants—to upset the status quo and those who imagine themselves entitled to rule within it—risked the wrath of institutional Washington.

Lessons of the Iran Deal
The process by which President Obama negotiated with Iran underscores the point. Countless rounds of meetings and sessions between American diplomatic personnel and Tehran resulted in a final agreement that did nothing but pay Iran to maintain the status quo of not having nuclear weapons for a temporary period of time. The agreement was, essentially, one-way appeasement, much like previous arrangements with North Korea. But it was also Establishment-approved, an example of the status quo maintaining itself at extraordinary cost, even if only for a little while longer.

Where, after all, was the summit between Barack Obama and the Supreme Leader of Iran, the Ayatollah? At what point did Obama tell the Ayatollah, as only the President of the United States could do, to stand down his nuclear weapons program and cease aggression against Israel? This would have meant going jaw to jaw. This would have conveyed the fact that the United States was serious, that its president was serious, but also—and this is crucial—that its president was personally involved. Such involvement implies the possibility of real conversation, real dialogue, and creative solutions outside of bureaucratic system-think. It also means that the president’s personal prestige is on the line, which sends an unambiguous signal that America is as determined as the stakes are high.

Enter President Donald Trump. He has incurred the wrath of the media so feared by Clinton, and at a magnitude Clinton likely could never have imagined. In his willingness to do so, in the joyful way in which he revels in press hatred, Trump is unique among recent presidents. Mainstream coverage of Trump’s first summit with Kim stretched between incredulity and mockery. But this meeting represented a new tack; it acknowledged decades of failure by the permanent government class and its status quo. By first projecting strength, the president brought Kim to the table. They sat down. They went jaw to jaw. Whatever happens next, it cannot be for lack of dialogue, or failure of communication. Trump made it clear that the future of North Korea is in Kim’s hands and that the consequences for that future are his to bear.

Some of Trump’s meetings with Vladimir Putin have provided a similar kind of Establishment/media consternation. The comments of Strobe Talbott, deputy secretary of state under Clinton and subsequently a Washington think-tanker, are representative of the “elite” consensus. As Talbott told the Washington Post, the president’s “outrageous” secrecy, his daring to meet one-on-one with Putin, “handicaps the U.S. government—the experts and advisers and Cabinet officers who are there to serve [the president]—and it certainly gives Putin much more scope to manipulate Trump.”

Note that Talbott’s concern is that the U.S. government not be handicapped, by which he means fellow institutionalists within it. The government is many things, but the interests of Strobe Talbott’s careerist friends—those experts and advisers, and perhaps even a few Cabinet officers—are not synonymous with it. What actually matters is whether American foreign policy benefits, whether the people of America and their interests benefit, whether democratically-elected leadership is working. It is fairly rich, too, to hear a former American diplomat fret over the U.S. president being “manipulated.” The backdrop of this particular insult—that Trump must not be left unsupervised in a room with the Russian president—is the Russia-collusion hoax, itself a product of the same clique of D.C. insiders. The establishment is nothing if not thorough.

Forget “Media Optics,” Ditch the Deep State Handbook
Meeting jaw to jaw is no guarantee of results. To date, the standoff with North Korea is unresolved. Russia is an adversary and is acting like one, regardless of what happened in the meetings between Trump and Putin. And now, as the last few days have shown, Iran is moving center stage. By withdrawing from Obama’s Iran deal, Trump took the first step against the status quo and its illusion of security. The Iranian state is suffocating under the pressure of American sanctions; its recent, violent actions against cargo ships and an American drone demonstrate its growing desperation.

The president, to his credit, and by contrast, has coupled displays of strength with equal displays of restraint. The American retaliatory attack/non-attack, called off by Trump at the last moment, perfectly illustrates his posture: poised to take military action, but hoping to negotiate. The next, logical step is possibly a summit meeting with the Ayatollah. Trump has indicated his openness to future talks. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe—with whom Trump has cultivated close, personal ties—appears willing to help facilitate the dialogue. These efforts should be encouraged. Summit politics with Iran may not work, but there is no use in wondering “what if” at the outbreak of a new war in the Middle East.

The point is this: the American president needs free rein to meet with his counterparts, to discuss the issues, to make American interests clear and unambiguous. If it turns out that diplomacy cannot solve the problem, then we will know we have tried. Ultimately this is a call for true transparency, the kind possible only between heads of government. This is the last but also, perhaps, the best failsafe in what can otherwise become the inevitable logic of war.

Foreign policy should not be conducted by the rules of media optics or according to the deep state handbook. Our president should not be left with regrets, nor should the nation. The president should lead. For everyone’s sake, he should pick up the phone. He should call the S.O.B.

Photo Credit: Peter Turnley/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

America • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Middle East • military • Post

Saudi Billionaires Are Not a Reason to Sacrifice Americans

Let me pose a simple question: What was the last American war that did not involve Saudi Arabian interests?

In 1994, photographers captured this scene as a U.S. Marine took up a strategic kneeling combat stance in the early hours of Operation Restore Democracy in Haiti, perhaps the last U.S. foreign intervention that did not in some way tie back to the U.S.-Saudi “alliance.”

There have been other small actions abroad that arguably qualify but one can not escape the pattern: Virtually every shooting war involving the U.S. military in the last 30 years has involved the interests of Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is a Sunni Muslim kingdom that leads one side of a Sunni-Shi’ite conflict that seems to have become the great international relations divide of the post-Soviet era. Questions regarding the U.S.-Saudi relationship come to mind again as the drums of another Middle East war seem to be urging America to attack Saudi Arabia’s enemy directly: Oil tankers attacked, an expensive U.S. drone shot down, rumors of an American cyber attack on Iranian missile systems.

As belligerents trade conflicting accounts of alleged acts of war, it’s helpful to remember this list of historical causes of conflict that remain in question as potential hoaxes designed to tempt our country into armed conflict. Would attacking Iran help America? Or would it follow an almost unbroken pattern of U.S. military might serving Saudi interests?

Consider this brief list of recent conflicts:

2015-present: The Yemeni Civil War. For reasons that remain unclear to me, the United States followed Saudi Arabia in intervening in Yemen. The war has resulted in shocking and gruesome suffering.

2015-present: Libya civil war. The United States continues to participate in that war for the benefit of a Saudi ally. The now dead former leader of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi, once accused Saudi Arabia of using its alliance with the United States against Libya.

2014-present: Syrian civil war. The United States has joined Saudi Arabia to intervene in the Syrian civil war. Syria is often viewed as an ally of Iran, Saudi Arabia’s chief rival, and a conduit for Iran to project power in the region.

1991-present: Iraq. The original military action against Iraq (the Gulf War) was intended to protect Saudi Arabia from a potential invasion from its neighbor to the north. Since then, the war has undergone several phases and resulted in a staggering financial commitment from the United States. The United States most recently participated in operations to counter ISIS in Iraq and remains to continue humanitarian operations. The current participation can be seen as a facet of the operations in Syria.

2001-present: Afghanistan/Pakistan. Intervention in both countries began as a response to the September 11 attacks against the United States by Saudi Arabian Osama bin Laden. Since 2001, the Saudis have been so involved in the wars that they are considered an indispensable player in the current peace talks. American presence in Pakistan and Afghanistan has strategic value for the Saudis because of the proximity to Iran’s Northern border.

1998-1999: Kosovo War. When the U.S. intervened in the Kosovo war in 1998, Saudi Arabia already had guerilla-style fighters on the ground fighting on the same side the United States would join. Since then, the Saudi’s have used Kosovo as a base of operations to radicalize fighters for use in the Syrian War. The New York Times credited these operations with producing “314 Kosovars—including two suicide bombers, 44 women and 28 children—who have gone abroad to join the Islamic State.”

Whatever Saudi Arabia’s importance to U.S. national interests, it’s hard to understand why virtually every war America has fought over the last three decades has involved Saudi interests. As I recently noted,

Saudi Arabia supports and exports Wahhabism—a strain of Islam that inspires a lot of terror. As noted by HuffPost, out of the 61 groups that are designated as terrorist organizations by the State Department, the ‘overwhelming majority are Wahhabi-inspired and Saudi-funded groups, with a focus on the West and Iran and their primary [enemies].’

Private Saudi citizens reportedly funded Iraqi rebels who attacked Americans in the early part of the Iraq war. According to The New York Times, Saudis continue to finance the Taliban in Afghanistan, which continues to fight the U.S.-supported government in Kabul. If we’re concerned about Russian interference in American politics, we might also be concerned that Saudi Arabia lavishly funded the Clinton Foundation while it had matters pending before the Clinton-led State Department.

The Washington Post attempted to describe and inventory the network of influence Saudi Arabia has cultivated in Washington, D.C.. In my view, the article fell far short of explaining why American foreign policy seems so beholden to Saudi interests.

In spite of electing one president and then another who promised to end American adventurism in the Middle East, and despite Congress repeatedly voting (here, here, and here) to curtail American support for Saudi Arabia’s wars, American voters appear to have less influence over our military than the Saudi foreign minister.

Somehow, we’ve entered an era in which the president can continue to fight endless wars by vetoing every attempt to stop them. That’s a violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of Article I of the Constitution, which grants Congress the exclusive power to declare war.

One benefit of the NeverTrump obsession has been a sudden skepticism of Saudi Arabia’s value to the United States after Donald Trump’s intervention on the Kingdom’s behalf. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day. On this question, the NeverTrumpers have finally articulated a real Constitutional crisis.

We need to rationalize American-Saudi relationship to obtain greater benefit to the United States at less cost. The precious blood and treasure of the American military is not a toy and it should only be used when American interests are clearly at stake. I would not sacrifice a single hair on my son’s head to protect all the idle billionaires in Saudi Arabia. I’m sure every soldier in the U.S. military has a parent who feels the same way about their son or daughter.

Here’s an idea: How about telling Saudi Arabia to pursue peace with Iran or fight the next conflict with its own sons?

Photo Credit: Ahmad Al-Basha/AFP/Getty Images

America • Big Media • Foreign Policy • Middle East • Post

Propaganda War vs. Saudi-Israeli Peace Accord

The saying used to go, “Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.” Americans eligible for membership in AARP will recall the line as a clever dig at the breathless reporting of not-so-“breaking” news during the first season of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” way back in 1975.

In our own times, NBC and other mainstream media outlets consider it “breaking news” to pronounce day in and day out since October that Jamal Khashoggi is still dead.

Alas, the incessant reporting of Khashoggi’s demise is not a running gag nor any sort of laughing matter. The man was assassinated in a grisly fashion.

Still, there is something funny—according to that word’s secondary definition, “difficult to explain or understand; strange or odd”—about the persistent breathless bulletins that restate the fact that Khashoggi, a wealthy and influential Saudi Arabian operative, was assassinated eight months ago on orders from his own government. These repetitions of the story are always coupled with denunciations of President Trump for maintaining a close relationship with the Saudi government.

This week NBC published a news item with intense fanfare and the headline: “Khashoggi murder: U.N. report finds Saudi crown prince could be liable.”

It’s a sensational headline, but the United Nations report itself was a giant “nothing-falafel.”

According to NBC, the U.N. special investigation on extrajudicial killings stated: “No conclusion is made as to guilt. The only conclusion made is that there is credible evidence meriting further investigation.”

A U.N. special commission recommends creation of another U.N. special commission: Stop the presses!

U.S. taxpayers should remember that we foot the bill for the largest portion of U.N. expenses.

Not an Independent Journalist
The ceaseless propaganda campaign concerning Khashoggi is founded on a big lie. Khashoggi is constantly described as a “journalist.” He was a talented communicator and a charming human being; I know this first-hand because, a few years ago when I lived in the Middle East, I had occasion to meet him and to have a lengthy conversation with him. But it should be well known he was never an independent journalist in Saudi Arabia, because there is no independent journalism in that country.

Khashoggi had a long career as a Saudi government propagandist and as an operative of the Saudi secret intelligence agency. About a year before his assassination, Khashoggi had fallen out of favor with the new rulers in Saudi Arabia. He left his country and began writing occasional columns for the Washington Post, highly critical of his former employers. After Khashoggi’s assassination, the Post itself acknowledged it had learned that Khashoggi had been writing his columns not independently but as an agent for Saudi Arabia’s wealthy Arab Gulf rival, Qatar, whose regime supports the radical anti-Western Muslim Brotherhood.

Khashoggi, in short, was a turncoat. He was killed by his own government, and heads of governments are responsible for such deeds. All assassinations are ugly and gruesome. Why should Khashoggi’s assassination—and only Khashoggi’s assassination—call for a total reversal of U.S. diplomatic, economic and security relations in the Middle East?

Necessary Alliances With Nasty People
The world is a violent place, and extrajudicial killings, while always ghastly, are now commonplace as tactics in national self-defense.

In the “global war on terror” the United States frequently commits extrajudicial killings, also known as assassinations or murders, in the Middle East, Africa, South Asia, and elsewhere. Our government sometimes announces these “targeted killings” as something for which Americans ought to be proud and grateful, as indeed we probably should be in most instances. Sometimes U.S. forces carry out extrajudicial killings of “enemy combatants” who happen to be U.S. citizens. This is grim business, but the administrations of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump all have called upon us to applaud these assassinations.

U.S. allies that are democratic and regarded as civilized—for example, Israel, the United Kingdom, and France—have no compunction about committing “targeted killings” in the struggle against ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and other terrorist groups.

Saudi Arabia is not a democracy, nor is it a model of civil liberties and respect for what Westerners properly recognize as universal human rights. But Saudi Arabia is a strategic ally of the United States and the West, and it is not by any means the only ally or vital trading partner of the West to have an authoritarian government.

China does not face Saudi Arabia’s vulnerabilities. China does not have to defend itself against ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Iran as Saudi Arabia does. It has no reasons of national self-defense upon which to justify extrajudicial killings. Nevertheless, China goes about largely uncriticized as it carries out a virtual bloodbath of extrajudicial killings of its own citizens.

Meanwhile, the West’s profound investment and trading relationship with China continues. The United Nations and the Western media are not clamoring for China’s president to be indicted or deposed. The mainstream media, Wall Street, and all the rest of the establishment consider it beneficial for peace and stability, and rightly so, when President Trump talks with and finds points of agreement with the president of China notwithstanding the nefarious nature of the Chinese government.

Sabotaging Progress
The Khashoggi-is-still-dead propaganda campaign won’t bring Khashoggi back to life. It won’t cause the royal family of Saudi Arabia to change rulers nor will it change the Saudi government’s behavior internally or externally. What is the propaganda effort accomplishing? It is driving a wedge between Saudi Arabia and the West at a moment when Saudi Arabia draws ever closer to making a game-changing move towards peace with Israel.

Rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Israel has been in the works for quite some time. President Trump’s diplomatic efforts to broker Arab-Israeli peace have reached a critical stage with a conference on establishing a basis of economic support for Israeli-Palestinian peace scheduled to take place on Tuesday in Bahrain with prominent roles for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Who would like to sabotage the progress of Saudi-Israeli accord and cooperation? Iran, with its Shia Muslim theocracy, certainly is one such party. Others who want to thwart Arab-Israeli peace include revolutionary Sunni Muslim movements including ISIS, Al Qaeda, and the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood enjoyed the sympathy of Jamal Khashoggi, and it receives support today from Qatar and Turkey, as those states maneuver for advantage in the balance of Middle Eastern power.

When Jeane Kirkpatrick was Ronald Reagan’s ambassador to the United Nations, she harshly criticized the organization for its “selective indignation” against the United States, Israel, and other U.S. allies.

Almost four decades after Reagan and Kirkpatrick, the U.N. and the left-wing media are still dead set in their old habits of hypocrisy and dalliance with anti-Western radicalism.

Photo Credit: Jacquelyn Martin/AFP/Getty Images

America • China • Foreign Policy • Post • Technology

A Court Win for China Spells Trouble for U.S. Security

On the heels of President Trump’s executive order in May recognizing the national security threat posed by China’s Huawei, a federal judge in California has issued a major ruling that hands Huawei a huge, if inadvertent, victory.

Although Huawei now claims that Trump’s order would cost the company some $30 billion over the next two years, the court’s ruling in a case involving its chief American rival may soften the blow.

In its long-running feud with U.S. chip-maker Qualcomm, the Federal Trade Commission launched a lawsuit in the closing days of the Obama Administration. The attack on the company, which develops chips and other technology to power smartphones, was based on no evidence of harm. Many antitrust experts said the lawsuit was based on testing novel theories of antitrust law.

Qualcomm is viewed largely as America’s best chance of maintaining global 5G leadership as the company is the current leader in developing 5G technology and standards. Huawei, essentially an extension of the Chinese government, is quickly moving to overtake that lead—with the unlimited support of the Chinese government. Given these facts, an antitrust assault on Qualcomm—based on exotic legal theories and no identifiable consumer harm—is reckless and absurd.

It is also bizarre when one considers that the government defied common sense and allowed the unchecked growth of other more threatening and massive monopolies, such as Facebook, Google and Amazon, yet now targets Qualcomm as uniquely dangerous.

According to media reports, leaders of the national security community strongly urged the FTC to reach a reasonable settlement with Qualcomm to end the case. They understood what is at stake. Hobbling Qualcomm, given the critical global 5G battle under way, would undermine our national security. In fact, the FTC, unbelievably, called a Huawei executive as its lead witness in the trial.

The concern has not been limited to national security officials. The Department of Justice filed a motion with the judge in the case a few weeks ago urging her to hold hearings as a possible remedy if she rules against Qualcomm. “There is a plausible prospect that an overly broad remedy in this case could reduce competition and innovation in markets for 5G technology and downstream applications that rely on that technology,” the Justice Department lawyers wrote. This came after Qualcomm reached a major settlement with Apple on patent licensing—which was a key component of the FTC case. The settlement included an agreement for Qualcomm to provide 5G chips for Apple phones, a win for consumers.

Judge Lucy Koh ignored the government filing and issued a ruling that included exactly the over-broad remedies that the Justice department warned her against. Koh’s decision lets regulators and judges dictate how much a company like Qualcomm can charge for its patents—a kind of power grab typical of adherents to the administrative state mentality. The ruling will damage Qualcomm’s intellectual property rights and undermine innovation.

Right after Koh’s decision was announced, a number of industry and investment analysts said the clear winner was Huawei and that an American judge essentially ruled for Huawei.

Let that sink in. We are in a struggle with China—the world’s largest authoritarian police state—as to who will control the technology of the future. That’s what the current tariff and trade fight ultimately is about; yes, it’s about unfair trade deals and shifting manufacturing away from China and potentially back to the United States. But really this is about who controls the technology of the future, where that technology is manufactured, who sets the standards for data privacy, and how free the flow of information will work.

Do we want the world’s greatest free-market economy to be the primary influence on this technology and setting the standards for it? Or the Chinese Communists who have already via artificial intelligence, social credit scores, facial recognition software, and hundreds of millions of cameras, created a deeply invasive surveillance state inside of China? Is that the model we want here? Do we want to assist their ambitions to control our population as well as their own?

It is almost impossible to fathom how a federal judge and a government agency could be taking action to help Huawei, while the Trump Administration (and many of our allies) are working to stop Huawei from dominating 5G. The stupidity is staggering.

Qualcomm is planning to appeal and stay the remedies, and one hopes the company will be successful. But let’s also hope that a remedy comes before it is too late for Qualcomm and for America’s 5G leadership.

Photo Credit: Zhang Hengwei/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images

America • Foreign Policy • Middle East • Post

We Hold All the Cards in the Showdown with Iran

In May 2018, the Donald Trump Administration withdrew the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran, popularly known as the Iran nuclear deal.

The United States then ramped up sanctions on the Iranian theocracy to try to ensure that it stopped nuclear enrichment. The Trump administration also hoped a strapped Iran would become less capable of funding terrorist operations in the Middle East and beyond, proxy wars in the Persian Gulf, and the opportune harassment of ships transiting the Strait of Hormuz.

The sanctions are clearly destroying an already weak Iranian economy. Iran is now suffering from negative economic growth, massive unemployment and record inflation.

A desperate Iranian government is using surrogates to send missiles into Saudi Arabia while its forces attack ships in the Gulf of Oman.

The Iranian theocrats despise the Trump Administration. They yearn for the good old days of the Obama Administration, when the United States agreed to a nuclear deal that all but guaranteed future Iranian nuclear proliferation, ignored Iranian terrorism and sent hundreds of millions of dollars in shakedown payments to the Iranian regime.

Iran believed that the Obama Administration saw it as a valuable Shiite counterweight to Israel and the traditionally American-allied Sunni monarchies in the Gulf region. Teheran assumes that an even more left-wing American administration would also endorse Iran-friendly policies, and so it is fishing for ways to see that happen in 2020 with a Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, or Joe Biden presidency.

Desperate Iranian officials have already met secretly with former Secretary of State John Kerry and openly with U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), likely to commiserate over Trump’s cancellation of the nuclear deal and to find ways to revive the Obama-era agreement after Trump leaves office.

To that end, the Iranians wish to disrupt world oil traffic while persuading China, Russia, and the European Union to pressure the United States to back off sanctions.

Iran hopes to provoke and embarrass its nemesis into overreacting—or not reacting at all. If Trump does nothing, he looks weak to this Jacksonian base of supporters. But do too much, and he appears a neoconservative, globalist nation-builder. Either way, the Iranians think Trump loses.

After all, Iran knows that Trump got elected by flipping the blue-wall states of the Midwest—in part by promising an end to optional interventions in the Middle East. Accordingly, Iran hopes to embarrass or bog down the United States before the 2020 elections. In Teheran’s view, the challenge is to provoke Trump into a shooting war that it can survive and that will prove unpopular in America, thus losing him the election.

Iran, of course, is not always a rationale actor. A haughty Tehran always magnifies its own importance and discounts the real dangers that it is courting. It harkens back to its role in the 2003-2011 Iraq War, a conflict that proved that U.S. efforts could be subverted, hundreds of American soldiers could be killed, public support for war could be eroded, and a more malleable American government could be transitioned in.

But what worked then may not work now. The United States is not only the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas, but soon to become the largest exporter of energy—and without getting near the Iranian coast. Likewise, American allies in the Middle East such as Israel are energy independent. America’s Arab friends enjoy seeing competing Iranian oil all but off the market.

Time, then, is on the Americans’ side. But it is certainly not on the side of a bankrupt and impoverished Iran that either must escalate or face ruin.

If Iran starts sinking ships or attacking U.S. assets, Trump can simply replay the ISIS strategy of selective off-and-on bombing. The United States did not lose a single pilot to enemy action.

Translated, that would mean disproportionately replying to each Iranian attack on a U.S. asset with a far more punishing air response against an Iranian base or port. The key would be to avoid the use of ground troops and yet not unleash a full-fledged air war. Rather, the United States would demonstrate to the world that Iranian aggression determines the degree to which Iran suffers blows from us.

Of course, Tehran may try to stir up trouble with Israel through its Syrian and Palestinian surrogates. Iran may in extremis also stage terrorist attacks in Europe and the United States. And it may lie that it has already developed enough fissionable material to launch a nuclear missile.

But the truth is that America has all the cards and Iran none in its game of chicken.

Because Iran is losing friends and money, it will have to escalate. But the United States can respond without looking weak and without going to war—and without ensuring the return to power of the political party responsible for giving us the disastrous nuclear deal that had so empowered Iran in the first place.

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