America • Defense of the West • Democrats • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Middle East • Obama • Post • Terrorism • The Media

Obama bin Biden

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Isn’t it clear that President Trump really enjoys upsetting the people who claim to report the news? I imagine him occasionally tuning in to CNN or MSNBC for the sheer enjoyment of the latest spectacle as the talking heads try to outdo each other in displaying their outrage and disgust.

Trump did it again this week when he said, “Obama took him [Vice President Joe Biden] out of the garbage heap, and everybody was shocked that he did.”

If you recall, “everybody was shocked” gets it about right. At the time, many people considered to be in the know struggled to explain Barack Obama’s choice for a running mate in 2008. As it happens, I was at a dinner party right after Obama made his announcement. The guest of honor was a very senior person in Washington politics and everyone at the table, except for me, was an acknowledged expert. “Why Biden?” was the topic of the evening. Obama was still very much a mystery to many people then, and the reasons offered for the Biden choice, for the most part, reflected each person’s take on how to understand Obama.

Mine too. I chimed in last. When I said “I think I know why,” I suddenly had everyone’s attention. When I said, “Obama chose Biden because he is the most pro-Iranian person in Congress” I was met by looks that asked what in the heck I was talking about.

But we all found out soon enough. That Obama consistently supported the mullahs throughout his time in office—during the uprising in Iran in 2009, by sending Iran billions, including an airlift of vast quantities of cash(!), and by lifting the sanctions when sanctions were threatening the mullahs’ grip on power—came close to defining his foreign policy.

Personnel is policy. Choosing Biden meant Obama was going to follow a pro-Iranian policy, just as his selection of Eric Holder to head the Department of Justice predicted the lawlessness and corruption we are witnessing there today.

I am no insider. I don’t know why Biden favors Iran, though the fact that he does has been mentioned from time to time in the news over the years. My favorite was reported by The New Republic:

It’s exactly three Tuesdays since the September attacks, and Biden is presiding over a morning meeting of his committee staffers. It’s a formidable group—a collection of super-earnest twentysomethings and grave committee veterans, all wearing dark suits and grim faces. Biden, with his pearly smile and sugar-white hair, seems almost to glow in contrast…

Biden launches into a stream-of-consciousness monologue about what his committee should be doing, before he finally admits the obvious: “I’m groping here.” Then he hits on an idea: America needs to show the Arab world that we’re not bent on its destruction. “Seems to me this would be a good time to send, no strings attached, a check for $200 million to Iran,” Biden declares. He surveys the table with raised eyebrows, a How do ya like that? look on his face.

The staffers sit in silence. Finally somebody ventures a response: “I think they’d send it back.” Then another aide speaks up delicately: “The thing I would worry about is that it would almost look like a publicity stunt.” Still another reminds Biden that an Iranian delegation is in Moscow that very day to discuss a $300 million arms deal with Vladimir Putin that the United States has strongly condemned.

But Joe Biden is barely listening anymore. He’s already moved on to something else.

Of course, $200 million is chicken feed compared to the actual amounts Obama managed to send, but his bright idea did demonstrate that Biden’s heart was in the right place from Obama’s point of view.

The New Republic article also tells us something revealing about the U.S. news media. Imagine what the press would have done to Biden if it treated Biden the way it treats Trump. Instead of accusing him of treason for suggesting America send money—“no strings attached”—to Iran just days after 9/11, the friendly article makes this only another example of ol’ Joe being Joe—and moves on.

Photo credit: Atef Safadi (Pool)/Getty Images

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

Reciprocity Is the Method to Trump’s Madness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who knows?

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

(C) 2018 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

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America • Americanism • Center for American Greatness • Deep State • Defense of the West • Democrats • Donald Trump • Greatness Agenda • Middle East • Obama • Political Parties • Post • The Constitution • the Presidency • Trump White House

Obama and Bush Were the Autocrats, Not Trump

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The supposed autocrat, President Donald J. Trump, relentlessly has followed the law in seeking to gain approval for his executive order placing a temporary travel moratorium on seven countries (five of which happen to be majority-Muslim states).

Some autocrat!

Because of tweets the president issued about the moratorium (and a few statements Trump made during the contentious 2016 presidential campaign), the American Left believed that they had legal grounds to get the executive order overturned. Despite the fact that the actual executive order showed no bigoted animus toward Muslims (or any other minority), that did not stop the Left from claiming that the intention of the law was one founded in bigotry. The Left wanted the Supreme Court to adjudicate what was in Trump’s heart rather than what was written in the legal documents calling for the travel moratorium.

The Trump Administration argued that the travel moratorium was limited, temporary, and was enacted according to national security threats. Further, the White House claimed that the Constitution gave the executive branch sweeping authority to do that which it believed necessary to preserve and protect the republic from all threats.

We can be thankful the Supreme Court doesn’t (yet) believe that they can discern and pass a ruling upon the (imputed) thoughts and/or feelings of an individual—even those of “this” president. Based solely on the legal documents before them, the Supreme Court affirmed the White House’s case that the moratorium did not violate the Constitution.

That didn’t stop the Left from ripping Trump (and the Supreme Court) over the decision. The Supreme Court decision, according to Leftists everywhere, confirmed America’s slide into fascism. Yet, the “anti-Fascists” dominating America’s toxic political discourse today appear to have forgotten their objections to George W. Bush-era torture policies. This is especially true, now that the “anti-Fascists” have had to reconcile their antipathy toward Bush’s authoritarian practices with Obama’s own autocratic tendencies in keeping Guantanamo Bay open for business..

The Left was similarly muted in their opposition to former President Barack Obama’s stunning executive orders allowing for the wanton bombing of nearly any Muslim-majority country in his drone campaign during the Global War on Terror. The supposed “anti-Fascists” also blindly accepted the Obama Administration’s disturbing claim that American citizens could be killed with drones, so long as those citizens were overseas (and amorphous intelligence “proved” they were, in fact, enemy combatants).

Few conscientious Leftists—the sort who now clog the already-congested roads of America’s major cities, “resisting” the “tyranny” of Trump—so much as uttered a peep when President Obama enacted a travel ban very similar to the Trump moratorium on travel from these countries. You see, it’s not fascism when they do it!

Last year, I wrote that President Trump was “bad at being a tyrant.” That’s because, no matter what Donny Deutsch says, Trump is not a tyrant! Compare the president’s handling of the travel moratorium to the similarly “controversial” national security directives imposed by the previous two presidents. Unlike both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Donald Trump respected the legal process.

At the first sign of judicial opposition, the Trump Administration wrote an entirely new travel moratorium. When that second executive order was shot down in the courts, President Trump directed his team to write a new one, with each iteration of the moratorium baking in the concerns of opponents vis-à-vis purported constitutional violations.

By the time the third version reached the Supreme Court, the underlying constitutional flaws of the original two executive orders had all been removed.

This is how the American system is supposed to work!

Fact is, the president does have broad powers to act in defense of national security. This is a result of the Constitution, but also of more than a century of the growth of executive power coupled with the abdication of legislative authority to the executive branch by a series of congresses.

And, in Trump’s defense, the seven countries his moratorium targets are countries that house potential national security threats to the United States. Further, as the Trump Administration proved to the Supreme Court, the countries targeted by the moratorium have lax immigration systems—meaning that they cannot confirm whether or not the citizens of those countries seeking entry into the United States are threats to America.

With the Supreme Court decision, the Left has been shown to be the hypocrites we on the Right have always known they were. What’s more, the Left continues longing for the Obama years (and ignoring the excesses of the Bush years) in order to delegitimize Trump’s presidency. Yet, it was Bush and Obama who behaved autocratically, not Trump.

After all, unlike Bush with his torture policies, and Obama with his endless drone campaign, Trump worked with the courts rather than against them.

But Trump, we are told, is the autocrat.

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 licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

Photo credit:  David Hume Kennerly via Bank of America/Getty Images

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

The Dream and the Nightmare of Globalization

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

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

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

Behold, the New World Order

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images

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America • Americanism • Defense of the West • Democrats • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Greatness Agenda • Israel • Middle East • North Korea • Post

Making International Relations Great Again

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The fumbling and waffling in the American and international media on three urgent contemporary issues: North Korea, Iran, and Palestine, reveal the dangers of the vacuum created by the Obama Administration in international relations, and the efficacy with which the Trump Administration is filling the vacuum. Obviously they are distinct crises with different origins. But in each case, the permissive withdrawal of the Obama Administration incited the escalation of these problems to the point where they disturb the peace of the world.

Summitry Sideshow
North Korea simply made and broke agreements with consecutive American administrations as it continued to develop nuclear weapons. The Chinese, who had as much to fear from such a development as anyone, cynically enabled North Korean misconduct until they belatedly recognized that they were potentially damaging their own interests by midwifing a nuclear porcupine across the Yalu.    

All the agitated discussion leading up to  President Trump’s decision Thursday to cancel the the June 12 summit  with the North Korean leader, like the redundant controversy about whether Trump was becoming too excited about the Nobel Prize, is unfounded. One of three events is going to occur, regardless: there will be a denuclearization agreement that is verifiable and durable along with the end of sanctions and normalization of relations, or there will be a continued period of intense sanctions until North Korea accepts such an outcome, or North Korea will resume its nuclear development and its program will be utterly destroyed by the U.S. naval air forces with minimal casualties.

The physical meeting between the leaders would be an image-builder if Kim wants it, but it is a sideshow and there is little need for negotiations: Kim has a short menu presenting his options.

Pressuring Tehran the Right Way
Iran is in many respects a similar problem. Though an ancient country and a more distinguished civilization than North Korea, it was not only allowed to swindle the United States as North Korea was, it was directly enabled by the Obama Administration to become a nuclear power, over 10 years, even as it continued its sponsorship of terrorism, and  continued to threaten to obliterate Israel.

Here the United States is effectively offering the same formula as it is to North Korea. Iran can agree to denuclearize militarily or it can face what Hillary Clinton in her more purposeful moments used to call “crippling sanctions,” (before she folded like a garden chair in perfect synchronization with President Obama). These sanctions would be backed by the same military force that the United States could deploy to destroy the North Korean (and Iranian) nuclear program.

Ignore the histrionics of the European Union about the impact of American sanctions should it continue to trade with Iran. Europe’s economic relations with the United States are worth 50 times its commerce with Iran, and like the reluctant and fair-weather, self-serving allies most of them are, they will dutifully get into lock step with Washington with a bit of authoritative leadership.

Commercial arithmetic generally prevails over misplaced righteousness. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has usefully reminded the world that all the United States asks of Iran is to desist from deploying nuclear weapons while it is threatening genocide, and for it to behave like all other international law-abiding countries and cease to export terrorism and aggression.     

President Trump has the strongest national security team (Pompeo, Mattis, and Bolton) since President Reagan (Shultz, Weinberger, Carlucci), if not Truman (General Marshall and Dean Acheson), as President Nixon and Henry Kissinger were brilliant but there wasn’t a good defense secretary until James Schlesinger.

The United States will tighten its grip on Iran until it produces a solution quite close to what is about to unfold in North Korea. Press unease about disguised “regime change” is rubbish. President Trump will end the intolerable behavior of Iran. If the antediluvian theocracy of the ayatollahs goes down as well, it will be by domestic revolt and will be a bonus for the benighted people of Iran who were cast into bondage when President Jimmy Carter deserted the Shah in 1979.

Elusive Middle East Peace
Israel and Gaza are, of course, more complicated. There has never been any possible solution to the Israeli-Palestine problem except a division of territory between the two peoples, since Great Britain, in the desperate days of World War I, promised that that piece of the Ottoman empire would become a “homeland for the Jews” without compromising the rights of the Arabs. That solution was impossible while the major Arab powers used Israel as a distraction of the Arab masses from the misrule they were inflicting upon them, and while the Soviet Union exercised a mischievous influence in the region.

Once Nixon and Kissinger had effectively expelled the USSR from the region and after Israel accepted the two-state solution, it was possible but not sufficiently enthusiastically embraced by the Arab powers to persuade the Palestinian leadership to accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. That would have ended the Arafat-Abbas tour as the self-enriching focal point of the world’s attention that they were as long as the Israel-Palestine conflict continued, and to accept peace and the mere leadership of another small Middle-Eastern country.  

The combination of the Islamic revolution in Iran, Europe’s rejection of Turkey and it’s pivot to attempt to exercise influence in the Arab world, and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Syria, and Iraq, have caused the principal Arab powers, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, to look upon Israel as a benign associate in repulsing the incursions of their ancient Turkish and Iranian foes and occupiers.

The Palestinians are no longer the favorites and protégés of the Arab powers and are grossly overplaying their hand. They are a few million people at the bottom of the proverbial local pyramid and Saudi Arabia‘s peace proposals for them are less generous than Israel’s.

Now is the time for the United States, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Israel to agree to a territorial demarcation. Israel cannot go back to being nine miles wide so the West Bank must be narrowed; the Palestinians can be compensated with a thickened Gaza and the two connected by a secure road. That has been presaged in previous discussions. The right of return will be to Palestine and not to Israel. Some such solution as this can be agreed and imposed, and the Palestinians can accept it and with it substantial development assistance and general recognition, or they can face the entire elimination of the physical remnants of the state that awaits them if they continue to inflict violence on Israel.

This problem, as President Trump has hinted that he understands, can now be solved. But there is no point in negotiating with the Palestinians. They have to be given a state, incentivized to accept it, and need to understand that if they do not accept it, they will get no material assistance from outsiders and will suffer continuous torment until they do accept it.  Hamas’ recruitment of paid cannon fodder for attacks on the Israeli border should be ignored; only the gullible useful idiots in the Western media and academia still pay the least attention to such stale and futile propaganda gestures.

Finally, after more than a century, this is a terrible problem ripe for resolution, but by the imposition of the consensus, not by another orgy of accusatory polemics billed as a peace process.

Photo credit:  Mark Wilson/Getty Images

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America • Americanism • Defense of the West • Deterrence • Foreign Policy • Greatness Agenda • Middle East • military • North Korea • Post

U.S. Has Leverage in Dealings with Iran and North Korea

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There has been a lot of misinformation about both getting out of the so-called Iran deal and getting into a new North Korean agreement. The two situations may be connected, but not in the way we are usually told.

Getting out of the Iran deal did not destroy trust in the U.S. government. Our departure from the deal does not mean that North Korea cannot reliably negotiate with America.

In 2015, the Iran deal was not approved as either a Senate-ratified treaty or a joint congressional resolution. Had the deal been a treaty, President Donald Trump could not have walked away from it so easily and with so little downside.

Former President Obama knew that he did not have majority congressional support for his initiative. Therefore, he desperately sought ways to circumvent the constitutionally directed authority of the Senate and redefine a treaty as a mere executive order

Obama got the deal approved by the Iranians in part by paying them ransom for hostages through huge nighttime cash transfers.

A cynical North Korea knew only too well that in the past, President Obama either entered into agreements or avoided them based on his therapeutic notion that human nature was both changeable and essentially noble.

The North Koreans now seem worried that a more unpredictable Trump has a quite different, pessimistic and tragic view that humans are predictably capable of almost anything—if not strongly deterred.

After Trump’s rejection of the Iran deal, North Korea now concedes that it cannot cajole a flawed agreement with the current U.S. president, who is mercurial rather than scripted in his reactions.

North Korea is the stealthy and illegal supplier of ballistic missile and nuclear weapons technology to Iran. Should North Korea enter into a detente with the West, Iran might lose a rogue nuclear patron—one of the keys to its efforts to get a bomb.

Tough international sanctions work slowly. But despite occasional cheating, they do in the end work well enough to injure economies. The tragedy of the 2015 Iran deal was that an embargoed Tehran had been brought to the brink of social and economic chaos before the deal was struck.

Had the global boycotts continued, Iran might not have had either the cash or the public calm to spend vast fortunes simultaneously on nuclear proliferation, global terrorism and proxy wars in Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen. Unfortunately, the Iran deal ensured Iranian nuclear proliferation after sanctions had been inhibiting it.

Iran looked at the sweetheart 2015 deal as a rescue. Before Trump canceled it, Iran had planned to use the deal for the next decade to regroup, to earn billions in foreign exchange as sanctions ended, to spread its influence throughout the Middle East, and to ready itself to produce bombs in 2025.

Then, when the agreement expired, Iran would have been far richer, more technologically sophisticated, far more powerful in the region—and far more likely to get more advanced bombs.

In both the Iran deal and a potential North Korea deal, the United States has enormous leverage—and it should never forget that fact.

Global sanctions can wreck the relatively small and vulnerable Iranian and North Korean economies. Even American sanctions alone and the ripples from them can injure Tehran and Pyongyang.

The U.S. can also deter Iran and North Korea in a variety of other ways.

New American efforts at missile defense can nullify some of their offensive capability.

Regional neighbors and allies of the United States—Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt—have the ability to go nuclear themselves. Yet these pro-American nations stay non-nuclear only because of the restraints imposed upon them by the U.S. That is a condition that in the future can be recalibrated to fit the behavior of Iran and North Korea.

Without China, neither Iran nor North Korea can obtain the diplomatic cover or the technical support needed to build a sophisticated nuclear missile arsenal. And China can be convinced not to endanger its lucrative commerce with the West for the sake of irritating the United States and Europe with rogue nuclear proxies.

Finally, Russia is a regional neighbor of North Korea and Iran. It has no strategic self-interest in having two unhinged nuclear countries nearby.

Before the onset of the hysteria about Russian “collusion,” the United States and Russia discussed areas of mutual benefit, such as limiting the number of dangerous third-party nations with nuclear weapons.

For all the evil of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the potential evil of a nuclear Iran and North Korea is greater. It is time to talk about mutual strategic interests with the Russians to nullify a North Korean and Iranian nuclear threat.

In sum, for all their obnoxious bluster, the rogue governments of North Korea and Iran are more vulnerable than ever.

(C) 2018 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

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Deterrence • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Greatness Agenda • Intelligence Community • Middle East • military • North Korea • Obama • Post • Republicans • Terrorism

Iran Nuclear Deal and North Korean Talks: The Difference

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There is a remarkable contrast between the current state of the North Korean negotiations and the recently decertified Iran nuclear agreement.

In August, President Trump threatened the Pyongyang government with “fire and fury like the world has never seen” in response to its advances in atomic weaponry. Much of the media and the political Left reacted to the president’s tweet with a fit of apoplexy and predicted something not very short of Armageddon.

The threatening tactic, however, has achieved the desired result. Before even taking a seat at the bargaining table, Kim Jong-un has returned Americans he had illegally detained, and announced he would abandon his nuclear efforts. Indeed, journalists have already been invited to a ceremony later this month in which part of the Hermit Kingdom’s nuclear testing facilities would be publicly destroyed.

Not unexpectedly, Kim has attempted to bolster his bargaining position by threatening the upcoming talks in response to U.S.-South Korean training exercises. That’s understandable. Similar actions bore fruit during the Obama years, but it appears to have had little significant effect on the current White House, which has taken the comments in stride.

Compare that with President Obama’s stance in negotiations with Iran, in which the former administration essentially entered the talks signaling it would grant major concessions before receiving any solid give-backs from Tehran. The result, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), failed to provide any substantive benefit to the United States, except—at best—a delay in Iran’s developing nuclear weapons and some inconvenience caused by the necessity of hiding prior or ongoing research, a fact made startlingly clear by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent revelations.

The Iran deal’s flaws are glaringly obvious. Even if the mullahs faithfully complied with its provisions, they would still have the right to build atomic bombs within a decade. Additionally, the JCPOA did nothing to inhibit Iran’s long-range missile development program. In return, Iran received vast sums of cash up front, and an end to the sanctions that had hobbled its economy.

Despite the obvious and crucial shortcomings which made the JCPOA, as noted by the White House, “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into,” Obama loyalists continue to defend it. Some, most notably former Secretary of State John Kerry, have worked diligently to protect it, even going so far as arguably violating the Logan Act (which prohibits unauthorized citizens from negotiating such matters with foreign governments) in their efforts.

The concept of American negotiators entering into talks with adversarial powers from a position of strength has, despite its apparent success with North Korea so far, received little support from those more accustomed to Washington’s prior agreement-at-any-price modus operandi.

Martin B. Malin and Hui Zhang wrote in The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists:

It is not yet clear if the Trump administration has a strategy for negotiating with North Korea . . . much public commentary has focused . . . on the apparent lack of preparedness inside the US administration . . .  with few exceptions, there has been almost no US thinking about a negotiating strategy. Incoming national security advisor John Bolton has recently suggested bombing North Korea. Even the most thoughtful analysts have focused almost exclusively on maintaining coercive leverage in the course of negotiations . . .  The United States must come to terms with the possibility that it may need to make peace with North Korea, and take significant steps toward full normalization before Kim Jong-un would ever implement a complete, verifiable, irreversible dismantlement of his nuclear arsenal.

Malin and Zhang have been proven incorrect, as were the extensive number of critics that decried President Trump’s “fire and fury” comments.

Obama was personally invested in the Iran deal. In essence, he placed his legacy above the needs of the nation. Trump, despite the political gains he could reap from a North Korea success, has repeatedly stressed that he is willing to walk away if the talks don’t produce good results, placing him in a far better negotiating position than his predecessor.

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America • Americanism • Center for American Greatness • civic culture/friendship • Defense of the West • Donald Trump • Elections • Foreign Policy • Middle East • Post • The ME Agenda

Iraqi Democracy Fails the United States—and the Iraqis

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The United States is not a democracy. This discovery runs against the grain of all the liberal, middlebrow pabulum imparted from grade school teachers, as well as the talking points of the average politician. Our country is more accurately a constitutional republic. And that means, above all, limits. Limits on power, limits on majorities, and limits on the proper scope of government action.

Further, these formal rules exist within a network of informal cultural restraints. Historically, our country’s class system always has been less rigid than that of Europe. Everyone from the plumber to the president proudly proclaimed his middle class bona fides. We also had comparatively little taste for political violence; election results would be respected. We had fairly similar expectations of government and its limits; thus, communist and monarchist persuasions, while not uncommon in the otherwise democratic states of France or India, are basically unknown to most Americans.

In short, we have had a consensus around the Founding documents along with a common moral and political vocabulary. Indeed, this common set of reference points allowed national healing after the great rifts of the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Great Depression, and the Jim Crow era.

That might be a simplification, but it’s a fair one. It also suggests, at least implicitly, things have started to fray as of late.

By contrast, the false understanding of America as a democracy, has now reached a farcical stage in the great democracy-building exercise in Iraq. If the ongoing chaos that resulted in the withdrawal and reintroduction of American forces had not been enough, the recent winner of Iraq’s parliamentary elections is none other than Shia-cleric (and anti-American terrorist) Moqtada al-Sadr.

As reported in the New York Times:

The front-runner in Iraqi elections, the populist Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, wasted little time trying to prove to potential allies that he is serious about shaking up the government and cleaning up corruption as he worked to cobble together a governing coalition.

It’s hard to believe it was a just over a decade ago that the image of Iraqis proudly holding up their purple-stained figures was supposed to inspire us all. Missing from the Bush-era enthusiasm for Iraq’s elections was an appreciation that it matters more what a government actually does, whether elected or not.

Mere elections do not guarantee law and order, an end to corruption, or peace with the United States. Nor do they guarantee legitimacy. We saw similar enthusiastic crowds in Libya and Egypt in recent years during the so-called Arab Spring. They brought about chaos and the murder of an ambassador in Libya and the extreme rule of the Muslim Brotherhood in historically friendly Egypt.

The Iraq War had numerous flaws. It had too few troops. The intelligence on which it was based was faulty and results-oriented. The occupation was botched from the start. But most important, what was missing was a sensible strategy, a tailoring of means to ends. Did we want Iraq for bases? For oil? Was the thinking that any regime would be better than Saddam Hussein? Where democracy fits into any of these goals, if at all, depends greatly on our broader strategy.

A Democratic Delusion
In the absence of promised weapons of mass destruction, from the time of the 2003 invasion through the present, the struggle to “maintain” the nascent, democratic Iraqi regime became a self-justifying end. The idea was that our prestige was on the line and that allowing democracy in some measure to triumph would, if not spawn the “reverse domino effect” of pro-democratic revolutions among Iraq’s neighbors, at the very least show an alternative path that would be a positive example to its neighbors.

Iraq has proven no such thing; instead, like the festering West Bank, it has been used as a propaganda cudgel to further inflame the Middle East against the United States, while robbing our country of its best men, substantial sums of money, and strategic agility to contain the more enduring and pervasive threat we face in the Middle East: anti-American Islamic terrorist groups.

Whether at home or abroad, it is best to remember that democracy is not a substantive end state, but a set of procedures regarding who can rule. Real good government consists in a series of substantive ends, such as prosperity, safety, justice, and national independence. Democracy is one among many mechanisms to choose rulers and laws. Majority-rule systems function best when it is a “government of laws, not men,” that is, when such governments have internal restraints and when the people can conform to and respect those requirements.

Lacking traditions of self-restraint, self-rule, and limited government, Iraq and other Middle Eastern democracies have devolved into winner-take-all systems of competing sectarian theocrats, substantively indistinguishable to outside observers. Or, put more simply, our national interests will not be furthered when democracy is adopted in places where the majority of people hate our country and have alien, illiberal values.

Misplaced Idealism
In this sense, recent events in Iraq are a microcosm of the Iraq War itself.

During the Iraq War, when not fighting Sunni extremists, our forces often were being brutalized by Shia extremists, including Sadr’s Mahdi Army. It was a no-win situation, where decapitating the brutal, but mostly secular, Baathist regime led to never ending conflict among competing sectarian thugs, none of whom were naturally friendly to the United States.  

We were told when ISIS entered Fallujah in 2014, veterans of the earlier campaign were horrified to see the city they had won during the brutal 2004 Phantom Fury Operation taken over by Sunni extremists. “Politics of honor” supposedly required our return. If that is the case, what can we say to those veterans of the Baghdad and Basra battles against Shia extremists, whose leader has now won the Iraqi elections?

Both the Bush—and Obama—era foreign policies were notable for their misplaced idealism. This idealism led to the elevation of democratic procedures, while neglecting substantive results, such as whether a foreign government would act in a way friendly to U.S. interests or command the allegiance of the governed.

The idealists have a false and impoverished notion of what makes our country’s political system work, which leads to confusion in the conduct of foreign affairs. Our government is not a democracy, but a government of laws, characterized by checks and balances, and it is suited for a particular people. The U.S. Constitution’s preamble sets forth its limited, substantive purposes, including the “general welfare” and the “common defense.” It is supposed to ensure the “blessings of liberty,” not for Iraqis or any other people, but rather “ourselves and our posterity.” From our nation’s beginnings, our nation has had friendly relations with czars, republics, kings, and shahs. We did not require other nations to follow our system in order to trade with us or have peaceful relations.

Pursuing and promoting democracy in the Middle East, shorn of constitutional limits and agnostic to its substantive direction, has proven fatal as a practical matter. This pursuit has deprived our people of a moral vocabulary with which to criticize foreign elections, even when they result in such ludicrous results as extremist and hostile enemies of our country being elected.

In the morally inverted words of Defense Secretary Mattis, “The Iraqi people had an election, it’s a democratic process at a time when many people doubted that Iraq could take charge of themselves. So we will wait and see the results—the final results of the election. And we stand with the Iraqi people’s decisions.”

If there was any doubt America lost in Iraq, al-Sadr’s victory should settle the matter.

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 licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

Photo credit: HAIDAR HAMDANI/AFP/Getty Images

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America • Americanism • Conservatives • Deterrence • Foreign Policy • Middle East • military • Post • Terrorism

Stupid Foreign Policy’s Futility

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Yet another chapter in U.S. foreign policy’s history of ignorant, bloody, expensive, futile, counterproductive attempts to reshape foreign societies ended with Muqtada al-Sadr’s decisive victory in last week’s Iraqi elections. He won despite the U.S government’s all-out support for puppet Prime Minister Haider al Abadi (who came in last), and after a decade and a half of U.S. occupation and war. Its most intense part, “the surge,” was directed largely against Sadr.

On the bright side, the Wall Street Journal reported, in fact, the person best placed and most likely to pursue the one objective that is in America’s own interest: posing obstacles to Iran’s expansion, is precisely Muqtada al-Sadr.

How come? And if so, why did the U.S. government sacrifice American blood and treasure for 15 years to frustrate him? Alas, these questions have a common answer. The Journal reports what our foreign policy community has always known: al-Sadr has always been independent of the Iranians because he has a very large personal following among Iraq’s Shia majority, inherited from his father, who had protected the Shia under Saddam and was martyred for it. But the U.S. occupation correctly saw his rootedness and nationalism as inconvenient to its own plans to remake Iraq in the image of its imagination.

Remembering this failure’s anatomy is especially important for conservatives, because conservatives’ political support for the George W. Bush Administration is what made possible the occupation of Iraq, and especially “the surge.”

What Happened to “We Win, They Lose”?
Within living memory, conservatives had a proud history of common sense about foreign policy. Conservatives agreed with General Douglas MacArthur: “in war, there is no substitute for victory,” and denounced the Acheson/Truman no-win policy in Korea. When the liberal establishment applied the same policy in Vietnam, Barry Goldwater led conservatives to the common sense that if that war was worth fighting, it was worth winning. As Henry Kissinger and the establishment imagined some sort of convergence with the Soviet Union, Ronald Reagan recalled that common sense: “we win, they lose.”

In 1990-91 however, George H. W. Bush violated that common sense when he made neither peace nor war with Saddam Hussein, instead doing just enough harm to turn him into the Muslim world’s paladin of anti-Americanism, and to destroy that world’s respect for America. Conservatives opposed Bill Clinton’s half-wars, which further fuzzed the distinction between war and peace. George W. Bush had run for president decrying the loss of that distinction and forswearing the kind of warfare that the establishment had practiced since Korea. And after the 9/11 attacks, Bush had spoken as if he heeded the American people’s mandate to do “whatever it takes” to end the war that the Muslim world’s regimes were inciting against Americans.

In 2003, when George W. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq, conservatives hoped that it was part of a larger plan to face the Muslim world’s regimes with the alternative: stop anti-American activities in your territories or expect America to overthrow you.

Instead, tragically, the Bush Administration occupied Iraq forcibly to fulfill objectives that were self-contradictory (“a united, democratic Iraq”) and impossible—preventing a country with a Shia majority from alignment with Iran by ensuring disproportionate power for its Sunni minority. Pursuit of this nonsense cost America 4,500 dead, 32,000 maimed, and something around $3 trillion.

Under Bush and his successors—alas, today as well, Trump included—the U.S. foreign policy establishment, seemingly on autopilot since Vietnam, has bought and paid for a series of puppet governments which it sought to run through legions of proconsular officials. The foreign policy disasters that this has caused are beyond our scope here.

What “the Surge” Accomplished
Among the deadly political casualties that the Iraq occupation inflicted on America itself was the corruption of American conservatives’ common sense about war and peace. Conservatives proved to be as susceptible as anyone to partisanship’s lures. Bush acted in Iraq much as Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon had in Vietnam. But Bush was “one of ours.” He said he was choosing “the tough options.” On Fox News, retired military and commentators supported him. They hailed “the surge” as some kind of reincarnation of the Inchon landing. It had brought victory, which Obama had thrown away by withdrawing combat troops.

Reality was different. “The surge” had two elements: first, ceasing to fight the Sunni insurgents, granting to them effective sovereignty over the areas where they lived, arming them and paying them in exchange for them not shooting at Americans and killing or turning over “extremists” of their choosing, and, second, making war upon those Shia who had taken the fight against the Sunni insurgents into their own hands and was winning. First among these were the followers of Muqtada al-Sadr.

And so it happened that American soldiers killed and died to subdue Baghdad’s Sadr City section, to build and to secure walls separating it from Sunni neighborhoods. Meanwhile, the U.S. government was empowering other Shia factions by giving them control of a lavishly supplied army, and lots of money to buy influence.

This is the Iraq, and the Iraqi army, through which the ragtag ISIS troops sliced as a hot knife through butter. The U.S. military equipment that it abandoned to ISIS enabled it to wreak havoc for some three years. This is the Iraq which largely crushed Kurdistan, the only real ally other than Israel that America had in the Middle East. This is the Iraq that has become virtually an extension of Iran, much to America’s disadvantage. And the foreign policy that has produced it is the one long since programmed into the U.S. establishment’s autopilot.

Whatever else the Iraqi people’s election of Sadr might be, it is a rejection of what the United States has done in Iraq for the past 15 years. It is also the latest of many calls to Americans to turn off our establishment’s foreign policy autopilot.

Photo credit: Haidar Hamdani/AFP/Getty Images

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Deterrence • Foreign Policy • Greatness Agenda • Israel • Middle East • military • North Korea • Post • Religion of Peace

Avoidable Tragedy: Why We Need Missile Defense Now

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Decades ago, as a young intelligence analyst with the U.S. Army’s Pershing Nuclear Missile Brigade (56th Artillery), I wondered whether, as British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin said in 1932, “the bomber will always get through.” I wondered whether indeed an attack by air or missile could be stopped.

I knew our Pershing 1 missile, and the subsequent P-2, had a very good CEP (circular area of probability). In other words, the bird was accurate. Traditional American technological prowess in such matters had even led U.S. presidential candidate and GOP nominee Barry Goldwater to comically quip in 1964 that we should “lob one into the men’s room at the Kremlin.”

And perhaps in 1964 that would have been possible. Today, notwithstanding the various personal hygiene venues in the Kremlin, it is much more of a possibility—unless,  ground-based midcourse defense (GMD) becomes standard defense policy, as it certainly will in any smart nation. In today’s environment that imperative is made quite clear by the recent actions and increased capabilities of Iran.

When the president wisely chose to look askance at the Iranian nuclear deal he not only served notice that their charade was up, but that the United States would no longer stand idly by and watch as the Iranians embarked full steam on a campaign to gain and deploy nuclear weapons delivered by ballistic missiles. We would not be the Brits and French in 1936 as the Wehrmacht blithely waltzed into the Rhineland. German generals later testifying that they had orders to withdraw in the face of the slightest allied response which, of course, did not come. When the Soviets built the Berlin Wall, it was later also said the Russians had orders to cease and desist at the look-see of one American tank turret. That American tank turret never appeared and America missed a chance to thwart aggression.

But that’s not America today. Not this time. Not this president.

Though, the Iranian response to Trump was interesting.

Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the chief of their parliamentary committee on national security said recently that, “With America’s decision, Iran’s missile program will not change at all.” Given the Israeli intelligence heist proving that the covert Iranian nuclear program has been an ongoing effort, was he actually telling two subtle truths?

One, of course, it won’t change, as the program never stopped in the first place.

And two, he speaks specifically of missiles, which means delivery systems. It almost sounds as if he’s saying, “We already have the warheads ready to go. We just need a little more time to perfect the way to shove them down your throats.”

It is common sense that a warhead without a missile is a bullet without a gun. And the mullahs have been working on the gun.

Less than a year ago, Iran unveiled the Khorramshahr missile and tested it the very same day. It has a range of 1,250 miles, putting it within reach of Israel, Saudi Arabia, the Straits of Hormuz, but also NATO members Romania, Bulgaria, and Greece. It can carry multiple warheads much like the U.S. multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) missiles, the Chinese JL-2/3, and the Russian Sotka and Sineva missiles.

And the 1,250-mile range? Half the range of the original missile the North Koreans sold to the Iranians. The Iranians said they then decreased missile size. Uh huh. If the original range still holds—bet it does—then Paris, London, Munich, Rome, and Prague are all within range of a nuclear attack or an EMP burst.

After the test of the Khorramshahr, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said, “We will strengthen our missiles.” And that was last year. Within the last two weeks and the Iranian missile strike on northern Israel from their bases in Syria, we see at least in this regard the Iranian president is as good as his word.

Lest we think this is only a Middle Eastern threat, remember, we are the “Great Satan,” now even more devilish with the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the rejection of the John Kerry-negotiated (Kerry, the man who thought proper use of American diplomatic influence was serenading the French with “You’ve Got a Friend,” with James Taylor in tow) nuclear deal.

Unless the Green Revolution comes to pass, Israel attacks, or the CIA can pull another Mossadegh move, Iran will eventually threaten the United States with nuclear weapons. It already implicitly threatens U.S. allies and interests.

If we don’t deploy, and soon, GMD as part of a multi-layered strategic missile defense system, then the unstable theocrats who run Iran could, as the nationalistic or religious frenzy strikes them, attack this country with relative impunity. Israel has figured as much per their nation and has great success with both the Iron Dome and David’s Sling GMD systems.

Every day Iran rattles its scimitar more. It grows more provocative in Syria, in Yemen, and elsewhere. Do we really believe that it’s all a bluff?

If it is, GMD could make them think twice. For so much of statecraft is theatrics combined with analysis. If they’re not bluffing, or if we fail to deploy a strong strategic missile defense, then the scenario for ourselves and our allies may be tragic.

Avoidably tragic.

Photo credit: Farsnews/AFP/Getty Images

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

For European Action on Iran, Look Beyond Berlin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images

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Defense of the West • Deterrence • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Israel • Law and Order • Middle East • Post • Terrorism • The Culture • The ME Agenda • the Presidency

Israel and Its Enemies: Why Culture Matters

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A passage from a landmark American novel shows why attempts to appease Israel’s enemies have always failed and always will fail.

Thomas Berger’s Little Big Man (1964) is the story of Jack Crabb, a fictional 19th-century frontiersman. In 1852, when Jack is 10 years old, he comes to live with the Cheyenne of the Northern Plains through a set of circumstances too complicated to recount here. On his first morning among the Indians, out of a desire to be accepted and liked, Jack makes an error that earns him the lifelong enmity of another boy. Jack explains (emphasis is added):

After our bath [in the stream] them boys fetched bows and we played war in and out of a buffalo wallow near camp, shooting one another with arrows that didn’t have no points. And then we did some wrestling, at which I was none too good and somewhat shy to try too hard, but after getting badly squeezed, I turned to boxing and bloodied at least one brown nose. The latter was the property of Younger Bear, and the event caused him to receive a good deal of jeering, because I’d say Indians are given to that trait even more than whites. I felt sorry for Younger Bear when I saw the ridicule I had let him in for.

“Which was a big mistake: I should either never have hit him in the first place or after doing so should have strutted around boasting and maybe given him more punishment to consolidate the advantage: that’s the Indian way. You should never feel sorry about beating anybody, unless having conquered his body you want his spirit as well. I didn’t yet understand that, so throughout the rest of the day I kept trying to shine up to Younger Bear, and the result was I made the first real enemy of my life and he caused me untold trouble for years, for an Indian will make a profession of revenge.

Like the Cheyenne, Arabs operate in a shame/honor culture in which a beaten enemy sees the winner’s concessions and goodwill gestures as further humiliation. Being the recipient of magnanimity underscores subordination. After all, only victors can afford to be generous. Therefore, no Israeli offer will ever be good enough. Only subjugating the Jews can expunge Arab shame. Honor won’t be restored until the Zionists are dead, driven out, or reduced to a degraded remnant.

Psychologist David Gutmann (1925-2013) believed this was why “Palestinian leaders have rejected or sabotaged every proposal for statehood since 1947.” Gutmann, writing at the American Spectator, explained: “The calculus of Shame dictates that the Palestinian stigma of defeat can only be removed by a bloody victory over the Jews who inflicted it. By the same token, their state cannot be handed to the Palestinians by some benign international arbiter, or by a generous Israeli government. . . . The gift of a state that was not won in battle would only increase Palestinian shame.”

So there is no “peace partner” and no “peace process,” although Arab leaders will pretend these things exist while playing for time—which they believe to be on their side. It appears to them that the nations (gentiles) don’t much like the Jews, and they conclude that Israel is isolated. “We Arabs are so many and the Jews are so few,” they observe. They therefore see Israel as an ephemeral Crusader kingdom. Unlike Westerners, Arabs are patient—in it for the long game. European vilification of Israel and international pressure on the Jewish state do not facilitate peace. On the contrary, they give heart to Israel’s enemies and prolong the conflict.

What circumstances, then, favor peace? Conditions that convince more and more Palestinians that Israel is here to stay and fighting the Zionists is for chumps—a sucker’s game. Who wants to be the last shahid in a doomed undertaking?

Historian Daniel Pipes calls for Israeli victory rather than containment or calm. His research indicates that only about 20 percent of Arabs accept peaceful coexistence with Israel and that 80 percent seek its brutal elimination. Peace will come when those numbers are flipped. And the numbers will flip when Israel is unambiguously victorious on all fronts and its enemies acknowledge defeat. How will this be achieved?

Pipes contends his formula for victory is not primarily military and offers the example of the U.S. defeat in Vietnam in 1975. “We didn’t lose because we ran out of bullets or soldiers or dollars,” he told attendees at the David Horowitz Freedom Center on November 19, 2017. “We ran out of will.”

True. But unlike Palestinians, American hippies—whose voices came to dominate the national discourse on Vietnam—had neither honor nor shame. They invited defeat. Now, in advanced age, they still glory in it. No. An Israeli victory over the Palestinians would have to look much more like the Union victory over the Confederacy or the Allied victory over Germany and Japan. Once the goal is defined the specifics can be worked out. Peace may be expected only when the Palestinian will to victory is broken.

Photo credit:  Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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America • American Conservatism • Americanism • Center for American Greatness • Defense of the West • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Greatness Agenda • Middle East • military • Obama • Post • Terrorism • The ME Agenda • the Presidency • Trump White House

The Myth of the Surge

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Trump is mostly hitting the mark as president, because his lodestar appears to be reversing every single thing undertaken by Barack Obama. Since the Obama Administration was steeped in an evil worldview—far-left radicalism—that means Trump’s policies, for the most part, have been salutary, agreeable, and sensible.

But there are times when such an instinct can lead one astray, and the broader Republican view of Iraq, Iran, and Middle East policy is one such example.

Obama’s Legacy

The conventional wisdom on the Right is that Obama was weak, and that weakness emboldened America’s enemies. There is much truth to this, as Obama was motivated to reduce America’s prestige and influence in the world.  We saw this in his frequent digs directed at America’s past, his outreach to Cuba, and his revealing Cairo Speech.

In the Middle East, critics on the Right point to various failures, such as the Jihadist killing of an American ambassador in Benghazi, Libya, and Obama’s failure to follow through on a “red line” proclamation in Syria. But the centerpiece of that criticism is that that Obama lost Iraq.

This narrative suggests that Iraq was a worthwhile endeavor, but that it took some time for the United States to gain its bearings, which led to sectarian fighting that nearly destroyed the nascent Iraqi democracy. The Surge, by these lights, is understood to have been a great act of statesmanship, undertaken by President Bush after the 2006 midterm electoral losses, and through it Bush and his far-sighted lieutenant Petraeus snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Critics go further, and charge Obama with squandering these gains by withdrawing our forces in 2011, allowing the rise of ISIS and the empowerment of an unfriendly Iran.

Did the Surge Work?

This narrative is deeply problematic. As argued by Iraq veteran and West Point graduate, Daniel Sjursen, in his 2015 memoir, Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge, the mythology of the Surge does a disservice to the reality of Iraq’s sectarian violence, as well as the ambiguous end state of post-surge Iraq. For starters, Obama’s critics practically ignore the first act of this tragedy: the unnecessary and misguided 2003 Iraq invasion.

As documented by Sjursen, the Surge was, to some extent, coincidental with other facts that conspired to reduce violence in Iraq. The Sunni Awakening preceded the Surge by some months, occurring chiefly in the al Anbar province. It arose from increasing friction between local Sunnis and the Sunni foreign fighters who made up al Qaeda in Iraq (the embryonic force that later morphed into ISIS).

Our enemies, like us, sometimes make mistakes, and in this instance local tribal identity trumped religious identity. Al Qaeda, quite simply, acted like barbarians to their coreligionist hosts, so the hosts got sick of it and started cooperating with Americans to kick them out. At the same time, local Sunnis once opposed to the occupation apparently realized that the United States was a more honest broker than the chauvinistic Shia government. Like Catholics who initially welcomed British troops to Northern Ireland to protect them from their unrestrained Ulster Protestant neighbors, the Sunnis, including many former insurgents, began to cultivate an alliance with the Americans as early as 2006, months before the Surge.

Shortly thereafter, the Shia Mehdi Army (led by the paunchy Muqtada al Sadr) called for a truce during the early stages of the Surge. As documented by Sjursen, his resistance to American occupation was one of the most effective and dangerous, using high-tech shaped charge weapons to rip through MRAPs, Humvees, and even a few Abrams tanks. After detailing the heartbreaking loss of soldiers under his command, Sjursen noted, “it is hard to overstestimate the importance of this self-imposed armistice.”

Finally, the harsh effects of the sectarian fighting that preceded the Surge led to increased segregation between Sunni and Shia populations, both in Baghdad and beyond. As the American far right argues in other contexts, diversity plus proximity leads to war. Here, through appallingly brutal methods including the mass murder of civilians, the combatants were separated, many fled the country altogether, and the pretexts for localized fighting against one another had gone down. Thus, violence dropped considerably in 2008 and 2009, but was the Surge the primary cause, or did the sectarian war just burn itself out? And even if the Surge worked, could the stalemate achieved in this shattered country, in any sense, be called a decisive victory? The lackluster results of a similar Surge in Afghanistan suggests no.

Obama Did One Good Thing: Leaving Iraq

Obama’s decision to leave Iraq was probably for the best. The war was a disaster, its raison d’etre soon proved mistaken, and its cost in blood and treasure was considerable. The most predictable condition of the Middle East appears to be sectarian violence of one kind or another. Lebanon raged in the 80s, as did Iran and Iraq. Today, Shias and Sunnis are at war in Syria and Yemen, and they warred for the entirety of the U.S. occupation of Iraq with our forces, as well as against one another.

The United States, with its modestly-sized volunteer military, short public attention span, and lack of imperial ethos, is simply ill-equipped to engage in nation-building or long term occupations in the Middle East. Our mere presence, in fact, can create artificial national unity around a near universal hostility to foreign occupation.

Trump should learn one thing from the alternating Sunni and Shia enemies our forces faced in Iraq: that there are no obvious good guys or bad guys in this perennial Middle Eastern conflict. Trump’s decisive endorsement of Sunni dominance (the crux of our anti-Iran policy), while promoted through wild-eyed Israeli and Saudi rhetoric, does not stand up to scrutiny as being in the American interest. Our most persistent enemies, Al Qaeda and ISIS, after all, are Sunni.

In addition, far from proving the weakness of Obama and the beneficence of the Surge, the Iraq Campaign should teach something else: caution and humility. Whether in Iraq, Syria, Libya, or Yemen, regime change in the fractious Middle East has rarely turned out predictably or furthered America’s interests. By contrast, secular strongmen and moderate monarchies, like Mubarak of Egypt, King Hussein of Jordan, King Mohammed of Morocco, appear to be, on balance, the most humanitarian and stable regimes, in a region little noted for either. At the same time, unfriendly secular regimes, like the Assad or Saddam Hussein regimes, are, at the very least, more stable and inimical to Jihadism than deliberately induced anarchy.

Today we read about an Israeli raid on Syria in the wake of America’s withdrawal from the flawed Iran Nuclear Deal. Such airstrikes have periodically targeted the (Shia) Syrian regime, while sparing (Sunni) al Nusra and ISIS forces, some of which are a stone’s throw from Israel in the Golan Heights. America has raised no objection; after all, Iran is in the crosshairs, and it is apparently considered worse than ISIS.

Obama, for reasons of his instinctual anti-Americanism, as well as his desire for a legacy achievement, coddled the Iranian regime in reaching the nuclear deal. But just because Obama was mostly wrong, Iran is a bad actor, and the deal was a bad deal, it does not follow that Iran’s Sunni rivals are much better. While Israel has its own reasons to cultivate alliances with Iran’s Saudi enemies, that does not necessarily mean the United States should do so. Our interests and orientation to the Middle East are different, not least because of our geographic distance.

As it stands, Trump’s Mideast Policy appears indistinguishable from what Marco Rubio, John McCain, or Jeb Bush would have authored. It is interventionist, pro-Israel, pro-Saudi Arabia, and requires the maintenance of a U.S. presence in the Middle East for the foreseeable future. What is missing from this approach is an end state that promotes American interests and a path to achieve such a state. For those of us who supported Trump in search of a reversal of the neoconservatives’ mania for interventionism, taking sides in these conflicts is increasingly worrisome. Conservatives have no reason to side with Sunnis or Shias in their quest for dominance; in fact, these quests distract both sides in those struggles from the “Great Satan” and their continuation is likely to our advantage.

The best American strategy for the Middle East is one of strategic disengagement, and the cultivation of stable, friendly, and secular regimes. In this regard, we have options that Israel and others fated to live in the Middle Eastern cauldron do not. As theorist William Lind advocated, “America’s grand strategy should seek to connect our country with as many centers and sources of order as possible, while isolating us from as many centers and sources of disorder as possible.” In other words, America 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 licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

Photo credit:  AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images

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America • Americanism • Big Media • Center for American Greatness • Defense of the West • Deterrence • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Middle East • North Korea • Post • statesmanship • The Media • the Presidency

Prospect of World Peace Threatens Media’s Porn Star Narrative

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In the wee hours of the morning, a miracle occurred. The Stormy Daniels coverage dissipated, at least for a few moments, as President Trump welcomed home three American citizens released from captivity in North Korea.

But the New York Times felt obligated to deflate even this decisive accomplishment. It noted that “other administrations, including President Barack Obama’s, secured the release of imprisoned Americans without promising a summit meeting or improved diplomatic relations.” The rest of the media quickly piled on, compiling lists of every prisoner released from North Korea, Iran, and other hostile entities—oddly enough, none of these lists mentioned Bowe Bergdahl.

Today’s coverage will include political pundits acknowledging, through gritted teeth, that this is a major accomplishment for President Trump.  They will then quickly shift gears to say that we have lost all credibility in negotiations after pulling out of the Iran deal and that Kim Jong-un is probably playing our idiot president.

Trump is on the verge of striking a deal with North Korea—one that might even get approved by the Senate, unlike Obama’s failed Iran deal. And it’s unlikely that this deal will include provisions for self-inspections of nuclear sites or secret shipments of hundreds of millions of dollars in cash to North Korea. But the media is happy to criticize a deal that hasn’t yet materialized while giving long eulogies for one of the worst deals in American history.

The media exhibits an amazing amount of flexibility and creativity when it comes to criticizing Trump and exalting Obama. A few days ago, Joe Scarborough gave us a demonstration of this as he tied himself in knots. He argued that Trump finds himself in the same situation Obama was in a few years ago. Obama desperately needed a deal with Iran and Trump desperately needs a deal with North Korea. This desperation, he claims, will lead to a bad deal. In nearly the same breath, the “Morning Joe” panel criticized Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran deal. Somehow, Scarborough and his team failed to notice that they had tacitly admitted the Iran deal was bad. So how was Trump’s rejection of the Iran deal an indication of his desperation, exactly? If Trump is the one who saw the Iran deal was bad isn’t it likely that he is willing to walk away from another bad deal? This willingness to walk away does not diminish our leverage—it increases it.

But we should cut political pundits some slack. After all, they haven’t had much time to brush up on the subtleties of foreign policy and they certainly haven’t given much thought to Trump’s strategy. They’ve been too busy covering a decade-old affair that Trump may have had with a porn star, too preoccupied obsessing over and misinterpreting every word that Rudy Giuliani says and writing hit-pieces to try to discredit America’s Mayor, and too enamored with Robert Mueller’s never-ending investigation. At one point, some even suggested that the entire North Korean peace process was a deflection from the Stormy Daniels story. Many are convinced that Trump’s days are numbered and that he will soon be removed from office and they are all too happy to try to speed the process along. But as they run hit-piece after hit piece, Trump’s approval numbers inch closer to fifty percent.

Few normal Americans care much about Stormy Daniels. Many are increasingly disenchanted with Mueller’s investigation. And most are happy to see progress with North Korea. Even if no deal emerges from the summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un, the safe return of three of our citizens is a victory in itself —and those in the media worrying that a meeting with the President of the United States will somehow legitimize Kim should take comfort in their belief that Trump isn’t a legitimate president in the first place.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the media will never give this president a break. If the economy gets better, they will attribute it to Obama’s policies. If it gets worse, they will blame it on Trump. If a North Korea deal works out, they will write glowing profiles of State Department careerists. If it falls through, they will talk about Trump’s terribly temperamental foreign policy. Even for those not paying much attention, it is clear that the media is biased and is hell-bent on destroying Trump. The incessant negative media coverage isn’t hurting him—if anything, it is turning him into a martyr. It has immunized him to the media. There aren’t many ways for the media to become more hysterical than it already is.

So, Mr. President—send out Rudy Giuliani again. Throw out some more red meat to a frenzied pack of journalists. Let them play Woodward and Bernstein for a little bit longer. We aren’t tired of winning yet.

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 licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

Photo credit:  Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call

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America • Americanism • Deterrence • Donald Trump • Greatness Agenda • Israel • Middle East • military • Post

Trump Is Right About the Iran Deal

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President Donald J. Trump has made it official: the United States is pulling out of the Iran deal. Tuesday’s announcement fulfills the president’s oft-stated campaign promise to end “the worst deal ever” and, ideally, to negotiate a better one ensuring Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons.

Terminating the deal also undercuts one of President Barack Obama’s main accomplishments. (Obama released a statement calling Trump’s decision “a serious mistake.”)  The Obama Administration’s stated goal with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (as the deal was known formally) was to mitigate the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons through a series of incentives and checks. Behind that goal was Obama’s intention to calm the Middle East and draw down U.S. forces without having to contend with increasing hostilities from Iranian-backed groups.

In reality, the deal had the opposite effect. The mullahs drastically increased their support for terror groups like Hezbollah; expanded their destabilizing presence in Syria and throughout the Levant (in order to threaten Israel); and, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed last week, allowed the regime to continue developing nuclear weapons in secret, in preparation for 2025 when the deal actually allowed for the mullahs to build a nuclear arsenal openly.

“The fact is this was a horrible one-sided deal that should have never ever been made,” Trump said in his remarks Tuesday. “We cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement. The Iran deal is defective at its core.”

Trump came into office promising to end what he viewed correctly as a giveaway to the Iranians while reinvigorating traditional American alliances in Israel and in the Sunni Arab states. But the president has also stated his willingness to renegotiate with Tehran, so long as the new deal is fair and actually prevents Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. As with North Korea, the goal is denuclearization. This is an obtainable goal, so long as the United States applies maximum pressure—not only on Iran, but also on the Europeans (who favor the deal more than anyone because of the windfall profits that would accrue to their corporations).

For its part, Iran needs the deal for two reasons: it needs to be reintegrated fully into the global economy and, for the survival of the regime in Tehran, it desires to possess a nuclear weapons capability (to say nothing of the Islamic Republic’s ideological belief that nuclear arms would allow them to enact the most violent aspects of their worldview: destroying Israel, “Little Satan,” and the United States, “Great Satan”).

For the theocratic regime to survive, it needs a healthy and stable economy—something that it has not had in decades, thanks to the onerous American-backed sanctions regime that existed before 2015. If left to their own devices under the previous sanctions regime, it is likely that the Iranian people naturally would have overthrown their backward-looking government, as economic life in Iran simply became untenable.

The Obama nuclear deal gave the regime a new lease on life. The mullahs desperately want to retain that lease. The mere act of pulling out of the Iran deal will force the Iranians either to return to the table or simply to collapse over time due to a loss of economic opportunity.

It would also bring the Europeans around to Washington’s view that a re-negotiated treaty might actually prevent Iranian nuclear weapons from becoming a reality. Maintaining the agreement would have given all of the initiative to Iran (and all of the benefits of any deal to Europe, Russia, and China).

Squeezing Iran’s economy and isolating the regime diplomatically until the mullahs negotiate a better, fairer deal, would serve American interests in the long-term. Under the terms of the agreement, it will take up to six months before sanctions are fully reinstituted against Iran. That gives all sides an opportunity to reach a new deal, or at least the beginnings of one. Under Obama, the United States squandered its leverage. Under Trump, the United States has the initiative—and time—on its side.

Of course, there are significant downsides to the United States withdrawing from the deal. While abandoning the JCPOA undoubtedly will signal to Israel and the Sunni Arab states that Washington stands united against the aggression of Iran, it will also mean an almost immediate increase in Iranian hostilities throughout the region. That could include Iranian attacks against Israel from neighboring Syria to Hezbollah-backed terror attacks directed against Western targets elsewhere in the world. If not managed properly, the uptick in aggression could result in the need for the United States to use military force against Iran directly—at precisely the time the United States has been trying to draw down in the region.

Also, the instability in relations between the United States and Iran will lead to a spike in the global price of oil. While our allies in Saudi Arabia would benefit from this, the American consumer would not. Meanwhile, the Russian Federation would be economically empowered, just as it was before 2014, suggesting that a new round of Russian military aggression is likely on the way.

In all, the president has done what very few American leaders before him have been able to do: he has weighed the costs and benefits of the deal and determined that, whatever consequences may befall the world in the short term, the longer-term prospects are almost all in America’s favor. What happens next will be difficult, but ultimately, the difficult choice will have proven to be the correct one.

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 licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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Defense of the West • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Middle East • military • NATO • Obama • Post • Religion of Peace • Terrorism • Trump White House

A Tale of Three Syrias: What Lies Ahead for President Trump

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With the Syrian Civil war now in its seventh year—thanks to the confluence of ongoing bloodshed, sectarian tension, and foreign intervention—we now have one of the most complex tangled webs the international community has faced since the end of World War II.

With ISIS now but a shadow of what it was in 2015, the major players in the conflict are down to three: the Assad government (including supportive militias, Hezbollah, Russia, and Iran); the fractured opposition (i.e., the Free Syrian Army, Islamist militias such as Jaiesh al-Islam, and Hayet Tahrir al-Sham—all backed and supported by Turkey and Qatar); and the Kurds (backed by the United States and allied forces).

ISIS is no longer in control over any significant territory, largely has been killed off, and has been relegated to the desert outskirts of Eastern Syria. This leaves a power vacuum that the three major players will seek to fill. For now, they have solidified control over three different chunks of the nation, essentially creating three governments within Syria. Each is backed by one or another major global and regional power, and all have a stake in the Middle East’s power politics and are at odds with one another.

Assad’s Reassertion of Control
As last week, the Assad government controlled nearly 60 percent of Syrian territory. This is a major increase of territorial control from 2015 and is due largely to Russian and Iranian intervention.

With the arrival of the Trump Administration, the United States stopped backing the Islamist militia-filled opposition, and so the rebel groups’ control over territory began to fade. The Trump Administration took a clear-eyed approach to the conflict, knowing the Obama-backed Free Syrian Army had become infiltrated and taken over by Islamist militias and was not a “moderate, democracy-loving resistance” as prior administration suggested. They also knew that toppling a secular dictator like Assad would likely produce disastrous results as we saw in Iraq and Libya.

True, Assad has the backing of Iran and Hezbollah, but this has been the case ever since his father Hafez al-Assad came to power and developed a strategic alliance with the Islamic Republic to counter Israel and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Russia has also had a longstanding alliance with the Assad government dating back to 1971 when the Soviet Union opened its naval base in Tartus, which the Russian government continues to operate today.

The Trump Administration is taking a hard look at the situation and while the Russia and Iran-backed Assad government isn’t ideal, the alternative of a chaotic power vacuum between warring rebel factions would likely be far worse than maintaining the status quo. For now, the United States is focusing in arming, training, and providing logistical support to the Syrian Kurds, who have proven to be the most effective fighting force against ISIS. Additionally, the Kurds have largely avoided conflict with Assad’s forces and have even allied themselves with them in their fight against Turkish forces in northwestern Syria.

Assad’s military has reclaimed huge swaths of land from ISIS and Syrian opposition groups. The string of military victories likely will continue until his government controls the border area along the Israeli Golan Heights, Northern Homs, and a chunk of land along the Jordanian border. These areas are currently controlled by small rebel factions whose power is waning and have little to no support.

The Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan)
Whereas the Obama Administration failed to support the Syrian Kurds and instead supported the dubious Free Syrian Army, the Trump Administration has done a complete reversal by cutting support for the latter and heavily increasing support for the former. As a result, the Syrian Kurds have solidified their hold on Eastern Syria, controlling nearly 25 percent of the country’s territory and dubbing their proto-state, “Rojava.”

This has provoked the ire of Turkey, which sees the Syrian Kurds as no different than the Turkish PKK and has vowed to eliminate their control of territory along the Syria-Turkey border. That vow may prove hard to pull off, given that the United States and France have sent forces to assist the Kurds in their fight against ISIS.

The U.S. backing of the Kurds has strained our relationship Turkey, which is a NATO ally. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sees Western support of the Kurds as tantamount to betrayal. It has even come to the point where Turkey has threatened to attack U.S. and French forces. While this is unlikely to happen, it’s clear that the old Cold War alliance is no more.

In the midst of all this, Assad’s forces are fighting Free Syrian Army elements and collaborating with the Kurdish forces against Turkish incursions in Northwestern Syria. Whether the détente with the Assad government holds remains to be seen. But Rojava doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.

The Turkish-Backed Northwest
The bulk of opposition fighters remain holed up along the northwest portion of the country in the Idlib Governorate and recently captured Afrin region. Our “ally” Turkey has provided weapons, training, and has even sent troops into this region to back and bolster the rebels’ position, essentially creating its own puppet state.

Many of the defeated rebels in other parts of the country have fled to this region, holing up for an eventual confrontation with Assad’s forces. The Turks concentrating their forces in the area may make it difficult for Assad to retake the region by the time he has solidified control over the other rebel territory in the country.

Like the Kurdish Rojava, the Turkish-backed rebel puppet state in the northwest looks like it will remain for the time being.

Where Does That Leave the United States?
With these three areas solidifying essentially into three distinct countries, the Trump Administration is in a bit of a Catch-22. The United States is still obliged to protect its NATO ally, yet that ally is arming and backing jihadist militant groups against Syria, and Assad is fighting against those same jihadists. The Turks are also fighting against another U.S. ally, the Kurds, who have proven to be a reliable partner in the region.

By maintaining a presence in Syrian Kurdistan, the United States would have a foothold in the region where the Kurds could act as a bulwark against Turkish and Iranian expansion. It also would allow us quickly to take out any ISIS elements before they metastasize into a larger threat.

This tangled web of regional affairs has left the United States in a precarious situation and it is a web our interests force us to remain involved with, even if only tangentially. The Trump Administration seems to be walking the fine line between Bush-style intervention and Obama-style “leading from behind,” which might be the right recipe for maintaining stability.

Photo credit: Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images 

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Americanism • Defense of the West • Deterrence • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Germany • Greatness Agenda • Intelligence Community • Middle East • military • North Korea • Post • Russia • The Media • Trump White House

Is Trump Now Bad Cop or Good Cop?

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During his first 15 months as president, Donald Trump has postured as the bad cop.

He railed about NATO members welching on their promised contributions to the alliance. Trump rhetorically reduced North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to “short and fat” and “rocket man.” He ordered the dropping of a huge bomb on the Taliban and twice hit Syrian chemical weapons sites. He talked of trade wars and hitting back at China.

Through all the bombast and follow-ups, Trump’s supposedly more sober and judicious appointees—especially former National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, along with Defense Secretary James Mattis—played good cops against the outnumbered lone-wolf Trump.

This script was well known from the days of Richard Nixon and his national security adviser and then secretary of state, Henry Kissinger. Nixon often postured as if he were eager to bomb the North Vietnamese to smithereens, to go to Dr. Strangelove levels to stand down the Soviets, or to unleash Israel to do whatever it took to defeat its enemies.

Then Kissinger was sent over to reassure both troubled allies and tense enemies. He pleaded for modest concessions to ward off what might be far worse. He confided to leaders that Nixon was a madman who terrified Kissinger as much as he did the world abroad.

The net effect was to gain compromises and advantages that otherwise would have been impossible.

Remember how in the old cop movies, arrested suspects were worn out and scared by unpredictable and brutal police interrogators? Once softened up, they were then handed over to make their confessions to a new shift of kindly detectives who brought out the good-cop gifts of cigarettes, coffee, and donuts while they badmouthed their colleagues’ harsh interrogation methods.

No one knows whether these simplistic stereotypes are even half true in the Trump administration. But what is certain is that new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, along with strengthened U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, are more likely to question the status quo and to take some risks in restoring U.S. strategic deterrence.

Will Trump now reverse roles and become the good cop?

Instead of worrying the Europeans, frightening the North Koreans, and assailing the Russians and Chinese, will he more calmly express his fears that he can scarcely control the righteous anger of his new foreign policy team?

There might be lots of advantages for a new good-cop Trump, compared with his past bad-cop role.

First, playing the skeptic with foreign interventions puts him more in tune with his swing-state, blue-collar supporters. Remember that Trump ran on avoiding entangling overseas interventions. Now, he can emphasize that role as he winks and nods to Pompeo, Bolton, and Haley to ratchet up the pressure as he publicly tries to calm them down.

Second, Trump’s art-of-the-deal style has been to play the mediator who claims that there must be some way to find common ground between two adversaries. As a good cop, he can say to the Chinese, North Koreans, Iranians and others, “Let’s make a deal so I don’t have to call in the tough guys, who are starting to scare me as much as they scare you.”

Third, Trump has a special affinity for Mattis. But in the past, Mattis was stereotyped as a good cop trying to talk Trump out of straight-arming NATO allies or walking away from past U.S. deals. Now, however, Trump can join Mattis in a good cop role, as the two pose abroad as unified voices of caution who want agreements rather than confrontations.

Even in role-playing. it is wise to have Mattis and Trump on the same side. One reason Trump has a special affinity for Mattis is that his caution and reluctance to intervene abroad fit Trump’s own campaign sloganeering.

There was always a paradox with Trump’s Jacksonian foreign policy. How was he to restore deterrence abroad without another costly intervention? How does he bomb ISIS into oblivion without worrying about the innocent refugees living among the ashes and an eventual return of ISIS infiltrators?

Trump now can outsource his lone-wolf hawkishness to new hard-liners Bolton and Pompeo, and remind enemies that his art-of-the-deal comprising is their last chance at an agreement.

In sum, the tough reputations of the highly regarded Pompeo and Bolton now allow Trump to be what he always was—a dealmaker.

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America • Americanism • Defense of the West • Donald Trump • EU • Europe • Foreign Policy • Greatness Agenda • Middle East • Post • statesmanship • the Presidency • Trump White House

American and French Interests Do Not Align in the Middle East

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The French came to Washington. They saw, but they did not conquer. America’s relationship with France may be its oldest, but it is certainly not its strongest—and no amount of creepy kisses and awkward hugs between French President Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump could ever change that reality. This is particularly true now that Paris embraces the rhetoric of globalism (while still acting in fiercely nationalistic ways) and the United States, which used to sometimes put the interests of other countries, like France, ahead of its own (and suffered the consequences for it), now acts strictly in accordance with its own national interests.

The Franco-American division is especially pronounced in the Middle East and it is likely that it always will be.

According to Fernand Braudel, the preeminent French historian, the borders of Europe do not end where the Mediterranean Sea begins. Instead, Braudel observed that the southernmost frontiers of Europe extended down into the Sahara Desert. Thus, France, unlike the United States, is disproportionately affected by what happens in the Middle East and North Africa. Further, France has taken an almost paternalistic interest in these areas since the colonial period. So, the French obsession with the Mideast and North Africa is informed by its unique history and geography. Whatever noble sounding universalities to which the French may appeal while hoping to hock their policy initiatives vìs a vìs the Middle East, the truth is that when Macron advocates for continuing—and expanding—Franco-American military engagement in the region, he does so because he believes doing so is in France’s national interest.

It is not necessarily in America’s interest, however, to further enmesh itself in the morass of Mideast politics.

To complicate matters, France is a great power in relative decline. Since Charles de Gaulle, successive French leaders have believed that, “France cannot be France without greatness.” To mitigate the loss of France’s traditional power, the French tried to enhance what Pernille Rieker refers to as their “symbolic power.” According to Rieker, France’s symbolic power is based on cultural capital—and the French belief that their country has a unique role to play in the world. French leaders desire to utilize this symbolic power through multilateralism, trade, as well as a small—but potent—independent, nuclear-armed military, dedicated to upholding universalist French values. In essence, France may be a middling power, but it retains the capacity (and the desire) to punch above its proverbial weight—especially when used in conjunction with American power and supported by America’s dime.

The American view of the Middle East is similarly informed by its own history and geography. The United States traditionally favored playing the role of offshore balancer in the resource-rich (though culturally quite divergent) region. And, since the United States is separated from the Mideast by a vast ocean, it in no way feels the violent dislocations of the region as France does. Further, when the United States  fought its enemies in the region following the 9/11 attacks, it did not fare well. In both Afghanistan and Iraq America saw more cost than benefit from our interference.

As Stephen M. Walt wrote in 2013:

The three strategic interests [for operating in the Middle East] are 1) keeping oil and gas from the region flowing to world markets, to keep the global economy humming; 2) minimizing the danger of anti-American terrorism; and 3) inhibiting the spread of weapons of mass destruction. The two moral interests are 1) promotion of human rights and participatory government, and 2) helping ensuring Israel’s survival.

Considering Stephen Walt’s list of American interests in the Mideast, it’s clear that, while a few interests converge, the American and French national interests—and strategies—are demonstrably divergent. Yes, the United States and France want to keep the energy flowing. France also contributes to America’s counterterrorism mission (and the two will continue cooperating in that limited area). However, neither Paris nor Washington can agree on what to do in Syria. And, France supports the unpopular Iran nuclear agreement. As for Walt’s moral interests: the United States cannot afford to nation-build any longer, and Israel’s survival is not at the top of France’s priority list.

In Syria, France wants the United States to maintain its military presence on the ground. Those who argue for keeping American troops in Syria believe that America’s presence there will roll back Iranian and Russian influence. Unfortunately, no amount of American troops in Syria could prevent Iran or Russia from capturing the country if that is what they are determined to do. After all, Syria has long been a quasi-vassal state for both Iran and Russia. Remember, large numbers of American forces have been fighting in Syria since Donald Trump took office. Their presence has not dislodged either the Russians or the Iranians. And if American forces tried to remove Iranian and Russian elements, a major war would likely erupt. The longer U.S. forces operate in Syria, the greater the chance for this kind of a miscalculation. Besides, America’s mission in Syria—killing terrorists—has mostly ended.

As for Iran, the Joint-Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA or “Iran Deal”) that the Obama Administration brokered in 2015 is a disaster. It runs counter to the stated American goal of denuclearization, while undermining traditional American allies in the Sunni Arab states and Israel. Paris also wants the JCPOA upheld, so as to trade with the resource-rich Iran—something that the French could not do under the previous sanctions regime (and that only benefits France). Make no mistake: Washington cannot accept the JCPOA as it is. It is also highly unlikely that Iran would countenance reopening negotiations with the West over its nuclear program.

Trump wants to put American interests first in the Mideast. Therefore, he should abrogate the Iran deal and withdraw American forces from Syria (while at the same time empowering American allies in Israel and the Sunni Arab states to stand up to Iran). Paris will never see eye-to-eye with Washington on these matters. Historically, Paris and Washington rarely agree. C’est la vie! The transatlantic divide over the Mideast is real and it will not get better anytime soon. It looks like Emmanuel Macron will have to shower Germany’s Angela Merkel with awkward hugs and creepy kisses from now on (c’est dégoûtant!).

Photo credit:   LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images

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Administrative State • America • Center for American Greatness • Democrats • Foreign Policy • Healthcare • Middle East • Obama • Obamacare • Post • The Media

Obama’s Failed Legacy: Unaffordable Care and Iran’s Nukes

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Ronald Reagan famously quipped that the trouble with liberals “is not that they’re ignorant. It’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.” Reagan’s words aptly describe former President Barack Obama. Obama was an intelligent, well-educated, articulate man. He could woo crowds with soaring rhetoric and pacify True Conservative™ “intellectuals,” like David Brooks (who voted for Obama partly on the basis of the perfect crease in his trousers).

Obama was not only a scion of the American political class, he was also a new kind of leader: the first black president in history and one of the youngest.

With Obama, though, we were getting an incredibly manipulative individual who bought into the most dangerous and destructive left-wing academic theories. Obama was the ultimate “intellectual-yet-idiot.” Examples of his folly are plentiful, but there are perhaps no better illustrations of the disconnect between Obama’s intellectual prowess and his practical political judgment than the disastrous Affordable Care Act and the terrible nuclear agreement with Iran. Both were highly controversial, very unpopular, deeply secretive, and painfully naïve. They were also, it turns out, extremely harmful to the American people who voted for Obama.

Obamacare Fail
Obama believes in socialized medicine, more or less. Most Americans, even many Democrats, never would have supported a scheme that was honest about aiming toward that end. So just as Obama’s healthcare policy adviser (and former architect of the failed “Romneycare” plan in Massachusetts), Jonathan Gruber argued, Obama had to lie to the American voters about what his plan actually entailed.

During the tense debate over the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Obama repeatedly told voters, “If you like your doctor, you can keep him.” That was a lie. Obama further claimed that insurance premiums wouldn’t increase. That, too, proved false. Obama and his staff then insisted that his healthcare “reform” wasn’t a tax hike. Yet when the ACA faced a challenge before the Supreme Court, administration lawyers effectively argued that the ACA was legal precisely because it qualified as a tax. Lastly, the former president claimed the healthcare exchanges established under Obamacare would be safe, efficient, and effective. Not so.

Recall how President Obama argued that he was going to stick it to the insurance companies? Instead, it’s become clear that Affordable Care Act was little more than a giveaway to them. It encouraged private insurance companies to kick the sickliest and most vulnerable off their insurance plans and then further allowed costs to escalate to such an extent that only the wealthiest Americans could afford to maintain their private insurance.

Iran Fail
In foreign policy, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran over their nuclear weapons program was also a windfall for the Iranians. Obama’s modus operandi in selling the Iran deal was the same as that deployed on behalf of Obamacare: deception.  Obama insisted that the agreement with Iran should be hashed out in secret and refused to allow Congress to fully debate the matter. Obama claimed he was working this way in the name of peace and that he knew best about how to achieve it. In reality, Obama just wanted a piece of paper he could affix to his legacy, consequences be damned. As in the ACA deliberations, Obama’s ego combined with his wrongheaded worldview—and we’re paying the price today.

Lee Smith correctly argued that Obama entered office with an almost-obsessive urge to make a deal with the Iranians. As Smith shows, Obama’s hesitance to hit the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria was likely due to his early commitment to making a deal-at-all-costs with Tehran. It can further explain why Obama was enthusiastic about letting the Russians handle eradicating Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons stockpile, something no one seriously believed the Russians would—or could—do. Of course, we know that this has been proven correct in recent years, with tragic results.

Going back to 2009, it’s evident that the urge for a deal motivated Obama to ignore the mullahs’ crackdown on pro-democracy protesters marching in Tehran. I fear that it’s the reason for Obama’s precipitous withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 after we had finally stabilized the situation there.

And Obama’s determination not only to push away our traditional Sunni Arab allies but also to support the Islamists in the Arab Spring (a movement that received massive support from Iran) is best explained in the context of his obsession with getting a deal.

Thanks to Israeli intelligence, we now know for certain that Obama’s Iran deal was a total failure. As he did regarding healthcare, Obama believed in an entirely unrealistic theory. He believed that the federal government knew best how to allocate limited medical resources to the American people. In the case of Iran, Obama believed in a bizarre theory that, if the United States distanced itself from its allies in Israel as well as those in the Sunni Arab world, and allowed for Tehran to acquire nuclear weapons, then a three-sided balance-of-power paradigm would emerge. Obama was willing to deceive and manipulate the process to get what he wanted at unprecedented levels.

Obama’s behavior pushing the Affordable Care Act and the Iran deal explain why 63 million Americans voted for Donald Trump in 2016. They were tired of lies, manipulation, and failure.

Allowing Iran to acquire nuclear weapons would induce a major war, not deter one—in much the same way that handing over the health care of 306 million Americans to the federal government would exacerbate the healthcare crisis in the United States rather than remedy it.

But Obama thought he knew better.

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