Identity Politics • Post • Progressivism • Religion of Peace • Terrorism • The Left

Calling Out Anti-Semitism Isn’t ‘Islamophobic’

A protestor waves a Palestinian flag while standing atop a truck during rally in Times Square, May 18, 2018, in New York City.

Virginia State Delegate Ibraheem Samirah is the poster child for a new crop of Democratic politicians. He’s young, charismatic, and very progressive, with a history of activism that began in his student days on the campuses of Boston University and American University. Samirah has spent his brief time as a Virginia delegate hawking a “Green New Deal” for Virginia in the Washington Post.

But Samirah also has a history of shockingly antisemitic and virulently anti-Israel statements and troubling associations, and he doesn’t take kindly to those who point it out.

A story by Mikhael Smits in the Washington Free Beacon detailed Samirah’s long-running association with the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), a Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions group formed out of the Hamas-linked Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP). Samirah’s ties are both historic—including his father’s time as Chairman of the IAP and role as a Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood spokesman—and ongoing. He received funds from AMP donors in his delegate campaign this year, and spoke at AMP’s 2018 national convention.

Smits’ piece builds upon reporting during the February 2019 special election that highlighted Samirah’s anti-Semitic Facebook posts, which were condemned by both Republicans and Democrats but didn’t prevent him from winning the race by a comfortable margin.

Samirah responded to the new wave of criticism by tweeting an unsourced list of “statistics” claiming large numbers of Republicans, and a significant minority of Americans generally, hate or fear Muslims involved in politics.

Samirah also labeled his critics “Far-Right,” even though the “Far-Right” of Samirah’s imagination would seem to encapsulate the entire Virginia Republican Party, which responded to the Free Beacon report by labeling Samirah’s behavior “rabid anti-Semitism.”

The delegate only has himself to blame for the latest round of media attention, since it was Samirah who rushed to the news media to paint himself as a victim after a local Republican activist used a town hall session to ask him to explain his views on Shariah law. Many U.S. Islamist groups, after all, seek the imposition of a theocratic Islamic state.

Samirah even sparred publicly with Dr. Zhudi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, a noted Muslim reformer and opponent of U.S. Islamist groups, who noted the connection between support for Islamist groups and support for Shariah in a tweet which led Samirah to denounce the Arizona-based medical doctor and U.S. Navy veteran as “a bigot & grifter” with ties to the “alt-right.”

Samirah’s efforts to demonize anyone who deigns to notice his troubling statements and associations come from the same playbook as those of Representatives Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who both have repeatedly faced scrutiny for vile and anti-Semitic remarks, as well as associations with groups with ties to Islamic extremism and support for terrorism. Both freshman congresswomen have blamed “Islamophobia” and “white nationalism” for fomenting the criticism of their public statements and associations.

Ultimately, it remains to be seen whether this “cry racism” strategy will be successful in distracting the voting public from these elected officials’ actual records of anti-Semitic statements and associations with groups and individuals with ties to terrorism.

In the short term, Samirah—like Tlaib and Omar—might expect to get away with labeling his critics “far right” or “islamophobic,” the point of diminishing returns on this tactic is fast approaching, as new information on his terror-tied donors and associates is made public.

Photo credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Center for American Greatness • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Middle East • military • Post • Terrorism

America Should Ignore Neoconservatives on Iran

An Iran war push is underway, but the basis for it is pretty thin. While Iran has been a thorn in America’s side since its Islamic Revolution in 1979, America typically has prioritized other threats. These include Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Sunni terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS, and hostile secular nationalists like Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.

Our Middle East policy has many layers, including cozy relations with the Sunni regime of Saudi Arabia and with Israel. But the legacy policy often has an “autopilot” feel, where little effort is made to step back, consider first principles, and determine how much any of this activity benefits American security.

The Iraq Precedent
Iraq should loom large in consideration of a similar campaign against Iran.

In spite of the rhetoric about “weapons of mass destruction” and the later turn to imposing democracy in Iraq, it made sense to many Americans to engage Iraq chiefly as an act of tribal retaliation for the attacks of September 11, 2001. The scale of that terrorist atrocity fueled a rage not fully satisfied by the swift expulsion of the Taliban and al-Qaeda from Afghanistan. Regardless of the lack of any apparent involvement in the 9/11 attacks, Saddam Hussein was hostile to the United States, he was Arab, and this was enough for most Americans.

In this fertile ground, other events combined to allow the Iraq campaign to unfold, including the long-standing desire of Israel to decapitate the unpredictable Saddam regime, the Bush family’s own blood feud with Saddam stretching back to the first Gulf War, and the widely held sense that the risk of a nuclear-armed Iraq was too much too bear.

But the war was an expensive, bloody disaster that failed to deliver on its own terms, dragged on incessantly, cost a great deal of money and blood, soured Americans on excessive involvement in the Middle East, and permanently marred the credibility of the “Intelligence Community.” It was an expensive education for the country at an unspeakable cost to a great many military families.

Trump came into power, in part, through his respect for the American people’s widely held, bipartisan sense that we needed a foreign policy of restraint and caution. Instead of promoting democracy or vague goals like ensuring stability in the tar pits of the Middle East, he promised instead to put America’s interests first. While not an isolationist per se, he was a realist, restrained, and clear-thinking on these matters, asking always and without shame, “What’s in it for us?”

President Trump, however, had another tendency, apparent in his policies toward Russia and Syria, and it came to fruition in his hiring of the seemingly misplaced John Bolton as his national security advisor.

Trump was the anti-Obama, critical of him for nearly everything he did. Where Obama was weak, obsequious to allies and enemies alike, and often in over his head, Trump would be strong, unilateralist, and decisive. Trump was always highly critical of the Iran nuclear deal and withdrew from it under the tutelage of Bolton. The proximate cause is a claim that Iran is funding “proxies” hostile to the United States and its allies and, according to Israeli intelligence, planning some kind of nefarious action against U.S. interests in the region. Iran also may have damaged a few Saudi tankers.

The earlier withdrawal from the nuclear deal presents a dilemma. Deals, by their nature, are two-sided and reciprocal. In other words, in exchange for lifting sanctions and inspections, Iran would gain access to embargoed cash, global oil markets, and other benefits of being a more responsible member of the world community.

More important, the deal, in spite of its flaws, created a united front that included Iran’s occasional sponsors, Russia and China. While Iran is even now also accused of violating the deal, the questions remain whether a deal exists and on what basis can the United States criticize Iranian’s nuclear pursuits if the United States has also withdrawn from the deal that was supposed to put a halt to all that.

Israel and America’s Interests are Distinct
The driving force of much of this is Trump’s—and many Americans’—sense of common cause with Israel. In spite of accusations of anti-Semitic dog whistles, Trump has been a stalwart supporter of Israel and enjoys an extraordinarily friendly relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, as promised, and also recognized Israel’s annexation of Syria’s Golan Heights. This policy finds favor both with the largely Jewish camp of neoconservatives, as well as Christian Zionists, who make up a large (but shrinking) plurality within the Republican Party. Both of these groups are hostile to Iran largely because of Israel’s own hostility to Iran. And Israel is hostile to Iran for many reasons, but the largest seems to be its support for Hezbollah, which fought Israel to a standstill during Israel’s 2006 incursion into Lebanon.

Hezbollah is a sophisticated and effective fourth-generation fighting force that finds its largest sponsor in Iran. But Hezbollah’s focus seems chiefly to be on ensuring Lebanon’s territorial integrity and opposing Israel. Unlike al-Qaeda and ISIS, it does not appear expansionist or insane.

In addition, Israel has shown no compunction about making increasingly shrill and implausible warnings that an Iranian nuclear weapon is just around the corner, which gets the attention of our political leaders, but has little credibility because of sheer repetition and how similar Israeli claims about Iraq turned out to be false.

None of this, of course, has much to do with the United States. But the essence of neoconservatism is a bias for action and a conflation of American and Israeli interests in the region. And whether in the Bush Administration or now, none has been more bellicose, foolhardy, or aggressive than John Bolton. As Trump himself put it, “He has strong views on things but that’s OK. I actually temper John, which is pretty amazing . . . That’s OK. I have different sides. I have John Bolton and other people that are a little more dovish than him. I like John.”

A war with Iran is a profoundly bad idea, and nothing in particular makes it necessary at the moment. Such a war would involve the expenditure of U.S. blood and treasure to help another nation, which we already help to the tune of $3.2 billion in aid per year. While Saudi Arabia and Israel are understandably wary of Iran, and I have no particular objection to either of them doing whatever they feel they need to do to protect their security and interests, it’s not so clear how any of this squabbling has anything to do with the United States, whose interests in the region are minimal, because of the renaissance of America’s domestic oil production.

A Needless War
Iran is not a friend to America. Few older Americans can forget the hostage-taking at the American embassy, or their involvement in the Beirut barracks bombing or the arming of Sadr’s militias in Iraq. Notably, though, all of these events happened in the Middle East. In other words, the harm Iran has done to the United States was almost entirely avoidable, and such avoidable harms should be avoided.

True, Iran’s clerics are nearly as radical as al-Qaeda or ISIS, but they face a natural ceiling on their potential global reach, because Shia Islam is a minority sect within Islam. When Western powers are absent, the Sunni and Shia radicals tend to fight one another, as in Lebanon and the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, Iraq again in the 2000s, and Syria today.

Little good has come from America’s wars of choice in the Middle East. In addition to failing to tamp down the ultimate driver of terrorism in the region—various radical Islamic ideologies—these groups find easy targets and sources of unity in opposing interventionist western powers.

Avoidance is also a strategy for husbanding national power and avoiding unnecessary conflict; this same strategy worked when America avoided the various brushfire wars of the 1970s and 1980s, instead concentrating its military power on the real sources of conflict in the Soviet Union, leading ultimately to victory.

How a conflict with Iran would play out is anybody’s guess. U.S. attempts to impose national power in Libya, Iraq, and Syria suggest that our ability to conduct regime change, while substantial, can be undermined in the post-conflict attempt to usher in a friendly, peaceful political counterpart.

Even the regime change portion is less certain than it used to be, as the ill-fated proxy war in Syria has shown. There, Assad remains in power, and the use of “moderate” rebels have proven to be a costly dead end. Whether in Iran or elsewhere, the enemy gets a vote, and the enemy can study what works as well as we can.

Iraq’s failed conventional resistance to the United States in 2003 provided an important lesson to Iran and other conventional militaries. Their only sure means of resistance is in the form of guerrilla and other asymmetric activity. The U.S. announcement that we dispatched an aircraft carrier and bomber wing to the region to thwart Iran would prove only minimally capable against such forces.

Moreover, geography is an important factor in any conflict. The Straits of Hormuz, through which much of the world’s oil and any American carrier must transit, are only 21 nautical miles wide. Small boats with suicide bombers, particularly if engaged in swarm attacks augmented by drones and other commercial off-the-shelf technology, could score a surprise win against American forces. After all, it’s hard to hide an aircraft carrier, and the Iranians have shown an appetite for religiously-fueled “human wave” type attacks.

Foreseeable Chaos
The American people have no appetite for another Mideast War over a few damaged Saudi oil tankers. In contrast to the 9/11 attacks or the ISIS atrocities in France, Belgium, and Iraq, this hardly raises an eyebrow.

More important, the American people rightly recognize that more than mere anger is required to go to war. A war must be necessary, it must have some realistic path to victory, and it must have something to do with our interests.

While we have friendly relations with the Saudis and Israelis, it is not in our interest to spend our money and the blood of our soldiers and sailors to relieve them of the obligation of defending themselves and dealing with their own problems. The last time America engaged in such a campaign in Iraq, it ended in disaster. When we tried to intervene for other reasons, in Libya and Syria, it also created a variety of foreseeable forms of chaos that ultimately energized our enduring opponents among extremist Islamic radicals, such as ISIS.

The most logical lesson of America’s last 40 years sojourning through the Middle East is that we should avoid the place as much as possible and defend ourselves at home by keeping out hostile people from these troublesome countries.

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Photo Credit: Rouzbeh Fouladi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Democrats • Israel • Post • Religion of Peace • Terrorism • The Left

Ilhan Omar’s Ignorance and Bigotry on Gaza Rockets

All decent people should be outraged at the terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip that fired 698 rockets at Israeli civilians, killing four, injuring 234 and traumatizing thousands of innocent children. Imagine what other countries, including the United States, would do if lethal rockets targeted their civilians. Yet, Israel has responded with restraint. To be sure, 30 Palestinians were killed and 154 injured by Israeli efforts to stop the rocket rampage. Many of these were terrorists, but some were civilians who were put in harm’s way by the terrorists.

These deaths and injuries were caused by the tactic employed by Hamas and Islamic Jihad: they deliberately place their rocket launchers in densely populated areas—near schools, hospitals and mosques—in a deliberate effort to maximize Arab civilian casualties. This has been called “the dead baby” or “CNN” strategy. The goal is to have CNN and other media show the children and other civilians that Israeli counter-measures have inadvertently killed in trying to stop the terrorist rockets from killing Israeli children and other civilians.

Tragically, this strategy works, because with the media, “if it bleeds, it leads.” The visual media loves to show dead and injured children, without explaining that they are actually encouraging such casualties by playing into the hands of the terrorists.

So, too, is Congresswoman Ilhan Omar encouraging the firing of rockets by Hamas and Islamic Jihad by blaming the Israeli victims for what she calls the “cycle of violence,” instead of blaming Hamas and Islamic Jihad for initiating terrorist violence against innocent Israeli civilians.

In a tweet following the rocket barrage, Omar justifies the double war crimes committed by terrorists who target Israeli civilians while using Palestinian civilians as human shields. She asks rhetorically, how many “rockets must be fired, and little kids must be killed until the endless cycle of violence ends?” This implies that these war crimes are justified by what she calls the “occupation and humanitarian crisis in Gaza.”

Does Omar not realize that Israel ended its occupation of Gaza in 2005, when Israel removed every soldier and settler from that area? Gaza could have become Singapore on the Mediterranean, with its port and location. The Israelis left behind greenhouses and other facilities. Europe and Qatar poured money into the Gaza Strip. But Hamas—which forcefully took over from the Palestinian Authority—decided to turn it instead into a large-scale rocket launcher. Instead of using its newly acquired resources to provide humanitarian benefits to its residents, it used them to build terror rockets and tunnels that targeted Israeli civilians. This forced Israel to take counter-measures to protect its citizens. To use the “occupation”—there is no longer any occupation—as a justification for why “rockets must be fired” is to show both ignorance and bigotry.

Nor is Omar alone in blaming Israel for the rocket attacks on its civilians. The ADC (American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee) issued a statement condemning Israel for “targeting and killing Palestinian civilians, including children and infants.” Irresponsibly, it never once mentioned the firing of 698 rockets by the rulers of Gaza that target Israeli civilians, and it never mentioned the sad reality that Hamas and Islamic Jihad deliberately use “Palestinian civilians, including children and infants” as human shields in order to increase the number of Palestinian civilians who are inadvertently killed or injured by Israel’s legitimate efforts to protect its civilians from unlawful rocket attacks.

The conflict in Gaza will only get worse if terrorism is encouraged by the lies of commission and omission told by Omar, ADC and other supporters of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. All decent people must try to discourage the targeting of civilians by terrorist rockets and tunnels. A good beginning would be to tell the truth.

I write these words from Israel, which is now commemorating the many soldiers who have fallen during its years of fighting against those who would destroy the nation state of the Jewish people. Israel is also celebrating its 71st year of independence. No nation has contributed so much to humankind in so short a period of time. No nation faced with threats compared to those faced by Israel has ever had a better record of human rights, compliance with the rule of law or concern with avoiding civilian casualties. The world should join Israeli in celebrating its 71 years of statehood. The world should also recognize that if Israel’s enemies stopped attacking its citizens, there would be peace. But if Israel stopped defending its citizens, there would be genocide.

Editor’s note: This article was first published by the Gatestone Institute and is republished here by permission.

Photo Credit: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images

Hollywood • Movies • Post • Religion and Society • Terrorism • The Media

A Great Movie About Jihad

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Hotel Mumbai,” which arrived in theaters late last month, is an Australian production “based on true events” that may have faded from memory or were not known in the first place. For the record, in 2008, Islamic jihadists launched a series of attacks in Mumbai, India, that claimed 166 victims from many nations.

As the movie opens, jihadists in small boats make landfall, guided by a Pakistani-based controller, codenamed “Bull.” The well-equipped team targets a train station, restaurants, and the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, where most of the action takes place. The portrayal is very authentic with the terrorists, who invoke Allah as they throw grenades and gun down innocents young and old, male and female. This realism, unfortunately, tapers off with the various guest characters in the hotel.

These include the naïve American ordering a hamburger, the malevolent Russian who served in Afghanistan, and an elderly woman who wonders about a Sikh waiter’s beard and turban. The portrayal likely understates the bravery and suffering of hotel guests and the story neglects the real heroes.

The Indian special forces, known as the Black Cats, are late to the scene but quickly take down most of the terrorists. As Arnold Schwarzenegger said in “True Lies,” “they were all bad,” but the most important member of the death squad gets no screen time at all.

Daood Gilani, born to a Pakistani father and American mother, made five trips to Pakistan to train at camps operated by the terrorist organization called Lashkar e Tayyiba (LeT), which coordinated operations with Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI. Gilani in 2006 changed his name to David Coleman Headley to ease travel to India. Between 2006 and 2008, he made five trips to Mumbai, giving his handlers key intelligence on the targets, including videos.

“Hotel Mumbai” does not reveal that the Chabad House Jewish community center was a primary target and the victims included Ben Zion Chroman, Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, Sandeep Jeswani, Alan Scherr, his daughter Naomi Scherr and Aryeh Leibish Teitelbaum. Neither does the movie show that Headley, busted in 2009, got a sentence of only 35 years. The Indians, by contrast, hanged Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the terrorist the Black Cats managed to capture alive.

As the film notes, the Pakistan-based mastermind of the operation has never been caught. Any sequel will have to wait but the takeaway is clear: If you only play defense against jihad, many innocent people are going to die.

If “Hotel Mumbai” inspires any great American filmmakers, they might try the actual events of December 2015, when Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik gunned down 14 innocents and wounded 20 others at an office party in San Bernardino. The movie could show the terrorists’ meticulous planning and chart the back stories of the victims. The action could show local police taking down the terrorists in a ferocious gun battle. This victory was achieved with no further loss of innocent life, and before the pair could carry out their planned attacks on schools and freeways.

As Michael Corleone said in “The Godfather,” people might like a story like that. On the other hand, with the American movie industry dominated by the Left, such a film won’t be coming to the big screen any time soon. In today’s political climate, viewers might expect a movie with Ku Kluckers in MAGA hats attacking an LGBTQ convention at the Hotel Del Coronado.

Frustrated film viewers might track down a copy of Richard Grenier’s 1982 novel, The Marrakesh One-Two, in which wealthy Arab oil interests tap filmmaker Burt Nelson to make a movie about Mohammed and Islam, the equivalent of Hollywood biblical epics. “The Arab world depicted with murderous realism,” said the first-edition endorsement from U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a New York Democrat who served in the mid-1970s as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

The model here is “The Message,” (1977) by Moustapha Akkad, starring Anthony Quinn and subtitled “The Story of Islam.” Akkad made millions on the “Halloween” horror movies but was killed by a terrorist bomb in Jordan in 2005. You can’t make up this stuff, and any film about Islam entails a certain risk.

The “Hotel Mumbai” filmmakers knew that but went ahead anyway. The film is certain to draw protests from CAIR, Representatives Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and possibly some squeamish Republicans. Even so, everybody should see “Hotel Mumbai” to learn about “true events” and because it may be the most realistic portrayal of jihad to date.

Photo credit: Bleeker Street/ShivHan Pictures

America • Defense of the West • Foreign Policy • GOPe • Immigration • Post • Religion of Peace • Terrorism

American Empire Won’t Protect Americans

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A clear-headed foreign policy requires serious thought, not stale slogans. An op-ed by Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) and Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) in the Wall Street Journal headlined “Troops in the Mideast Keep Terror Away” exemplifies why.

After $6 trillion, 6,000 American dead, and 17 largely fruitless years, Crenshaw and Gallagher argue that America must remain in the Middle East in order to “prevent another 9/11.” But how? How does the American military spending $45 billion a year to kill semi-literate Pashtun tribesmen in the Hindu Kush prevent another 9/11?

Crenshaw and Gallagher assert that America must remain in Afghanistan because “‘far-off lands’ no longer exist. An ISIS terrorist can reach America after a 12-hour flight.” Ideology, they argue, “travels even faster, weaponizing the internet to influence vulnerable Americans and resulting in attacks like San Bernardino in 2015 and Orlando in 2016. The world has become a small, interconnected place, and America ignores it at our peril.”

This is too abstract. The common noun “ideology” did not kill Americans on 9/11. And what does it mean for the Internet to be “weaponized?” Did Google Chrome open fire in a gay bar in Florida or blast its way through the streets of San Bernardino?

Crenshaw and Gallagher’s lack of precision in speech prevents clarity of thought. The attacks they mention were committed not by phantasms like “ideology” but by living, breathing human beings. These attackers were not random, either. They were Arab Muslims motivated to kill by the preaching of radical Sunni teachings.

And they came here legally.

Every last one of the 9/11 hijackers came into the United States on legitimate visas. Syed Rizwan Farook, who committed the 2015 San Bernardino shooting, was a citizen. His wife, Tashfeen Malik, came here on a K-1 fiancée visa.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev of Boston Bombing infamy is an American citizen. His brother Tamerlan was a legal permanent resident. Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, who killed four Marines and one sailor in Chattanooga in 2015, was an American citizen. Omar Mateen, who killed 49 and wounded 53 others in the Pulse nightclub shooting, was a citizen.

Sayfullo Saipov, an Uzbek who rammed eight New Yorkers in a truck in 2017, came to America on a diversity lottery visa. Abdul Razak Ali Artan, who stabbed 13 at the Ohio State University in 2016, was a Somali refugee. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called “Underwear Bomber,” legally received a visa into the United States for his fateful flight. The infamous English-speaking Islamic cleric who inspired many of these attacks, Anwar al-Awlaki, was himself an American who taught for years in Falls Church, Virginia, of all places!

Crenshaw argued in December that Americans “go over there” to the Middle East so the terrorists can’t “come over here.” This logic does not work.

As long as our immigration policies remain what they are, the terrorists will keep coming over here—no matter what we do “over there.” It doesn’t matter how many thousands of bombs we dropped in Afghanistan—that didn’t stop Omar Mateen or Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab or Sayed Rizwan. Killing random jihadists a world away doesn’t prevent other Islamic holy warriors from boarding a “12-hour flight” to bring death to our shores.

The only thing that can prevent that is immigration control—which Crenshaw, in particular, dislikes. In 2015, he posted on Facebook that Trump’s “insane rhetoric is hateful,” and that Trump was an “idiot” for proposing restrictions on the legal flow of migrants from the Middle East.

Crenshaw was too severe. How can the terrorists get here if we don’t let them in? Is the 1st ISIS Camel Division going to stage an amphibious landing on the Potomac? Will the 101st Pashtun Parachute Brigade drop out of the sky onto Fort Benning?

No, of course not.

Crenshaw and Gallagher argue it is “dangerous” to bring the troops home. America must maintain a military presence in the Middle East forever, it seems. They call it an “insurance policy” against terror. And yet it was American forces stationed in the Middle East, and near the Islamic holy sites in Saudi Arabia in particular, that played an outsized role in fomenting the Islamists against us in the first place.

Why must America continually intervene in the affairs of Middle Eastern countries like Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, and Israel? What good has any of this really done for American security? All the terrorists listed above attacked us after 9/11.

Crenshaw and Gallagher’s American empire will not keep us safe. It will only lead to more money and lives spent chasing a chimera. If we really wanted to stop the next 9/11, we would endorse a policy that prevents those most liable to commit such an attack from coming to the United States in the first place.

America is not an Islamic country. Prior to the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, there were hardly any Muslims here at all. Their presence in large numbers in the United States is a matter of public policy. Deciding how many more people to let in is also a matter of public policy. There is nothing wrong with a people deciding to restrict immigration for the purposes of national security.

In a conflict against non-state actors, immigration restriction is one of the best tools the state can use to insulate itself from foreign-born violence. Borders, not bases, can keep America safe from overseas Islamic terror.

But arguing for such a policy is politically difficult. To raise objections to America’s current legal immigration policy status quo—endless immigration from the third world—is to risk political suicide. Support for the neoconservative project of endless American presence around the world carries no such risks.

Yet our national defense hinges on the triumph of common sense over slogans. Until that victory is won, America is in danger—no matter how many troops we station abroad.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

Big Media • Center for American Greatness • Identity Politics • Post • Terrorism • The Left • The Media

Media Gorges Itself on Hatred While Ignoring Atrocities

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On a day in March, more than 40 members of a religious minority were targeted for their faith and murdered. I don’t mean the Mosque shooting in New Zealand, but the massacre of Christians in Nigeria, about which the American media was altogether unconcerned.

In the wake of the New Zealand shooting, however, New York Times “reporter” Patrick Kingsley could barely contain his glee. The New Zealand shooter, a self-described fascist, provided Kingsley with ammunition to charge President Trump, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban with aiding and abetting the “Global Reach of White Extremism.” The shooter, wrote Kingsley, “highlights the contagious ways in which extreme right ideology and violence have spread in the 21st century.” Trump, Orban, Salvini, and all those who dare speak their name but to spite them, own this shooting so far as Kingsley is concerned.

A search for “Nigeria” in the Times’ archives shows that no ink has been spilled in the columns of this, America’s “newspaper of record,” for the Christians facing extermination at the hands of Muslims in that country. This is odd, isn’t it?

Local reports from Nigeria state that 35 people were killed on March 10 during an attack on Anguwan Barde. The next day, authorities estimate that 46 people were murdered in the village of Anguwan Gamu. Around 100 homes were razed. The bodies of a minister and his wife were found mutilated, floating in a river. All in all, more than 130 people were killed during one week in February, which suggests a plan to “wipe out certain communities”; namely, Christians, a minority group.

To be sure, the New Zealand shooting is an atrocity. But to claim, as Kingsley does, that it is indicative of some kind global spread of white extremism of concern to Americans must mean the lack of reporting on the worldwide massacre of Christians, mostly by Muslims, is a serious moral and ethical failure. Unless, of course, our concern is only reserved for particular forms of extremism.

If we are to believe, as Kingsley insists we must, that Trump is to blame for the New Zealand shooting, does that make The Young Turks (“Hey White Christians, Your Time Is Almost Up!!!”) party to the massacre of Christians in Nigeria? Kingsley would probably scoff at that idea—which is what Trump should do in the face of those who claim that he is in any way responsible for the actions of an extremist in New Zealand.

Though they feign impartiality, the Left, people like Kingsley, plainly value some lives more than others. The Left, then, is necessarily immoral.

The Left does not conform to the patterns of conduct it claims are acceptable: extremism is bad, but only when whites or Christians are behind the gun. Nor is the Left consistent with its purported principles of social ethics: all life is equally valuable, but some lives clearly are more equal than others. In other words, “Black Lives Matter” except in Nigeria where, apparently, they don’t.

Minorities must be especially protected; but not if those minorities are Christians facing persecution from Muslims, though there are innumerable Christian minority communities facing such violent persecution worldwide.

If the Left were consistent with its own professed moral and ethical principles, it would denounce anti-white racism and anti-Christian violence. Instead, the Left rewards these things, as evidenced by Kingsley’s publication bringing Sarah Jeong (white people are “only fit to live underground like groveling goblins”) onto its editorial board.

The great tragedy of our time is that we have allowed morally bankrupt parasitic writers like Kingsley to appoint themselves the arbiters of ethics. People like Kingsley feed on hatred and, in fact, need hatred to survive. They latch on to tragedy—but they are selective about their “hosts”—and engorge themselves on the hatred that they bring up from our body politic. Expect the Kingsleys of our media—and there are many—to drain as much blood as they can from New Zealand as possible, before moving on to their next host.

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Photo Credit: Audu Ali Marte/AFP/Getty Images

Defense of the West • Europe • Immigration • Post • Religion of Peace • Terrorism • The Culture

Must We Really Take Care Not To Offend Extremists?

Britain, in recent days, has had a rare distraction from its seemingly endless Brexit debate. The distraction, however, has not been an altogether welcome one. It involves the case of Shamima Begum, one of a number of girls who left their school in Bethnal Green in London in 2015 to go and join ISIS.

Back then, in 2015, the story of the Bethnal Green schoolgirls was headline news. Many British people were genuinely shocked that anyone—let alone young women at the start of their lives—would find ISIS’s promise of a Caliphate so alluring that they would leave the comforts of their friends, family, and country in the UK to go to join the group. There was much national debate about this. Various people, including some of the girls’ family members, blamed the British police and security services for not stopping the girls from leaving the UK. Ironically, the people who blamed the police—including the lawyer representing the girls’ families—were often precisely the same people as those who had spent previous years urging Muslims in Britain not to cooperate with the British police. How exactly the British police were either to blame, or to find any way to “win” in such a situation, was never explained. It was just one of many paradoxes thrown up in these circumstances.

Now, members of the British media have caught up with Shamima Begum, who is living in a Syrian refugee camp. The interviews she has given, in which she has expressed no remorse for her actions and has described life in the Caliphate—which included seeing severed heads in trash cans—as not especially troubling, have not helped her in her request to return home to Britain. The general public has reacted badly to her self-pity and lack of remorse; and British politicians have—unusually—responded to the public mood. Specifically, the Home Secretary Sajid Javid has announced that he is stripping Begum of her British citizenship. It is a move which is not just unprecedented but certain to bog him down in legal action for a while to come.

What is most interesting is the debate about whether Begum should be allowed to return and whether the Home Secretary was right in this unprecedented action. It is at times such as this that we are able to measure any change in the public and political debate . . .

Read the rest at the Gatestone Institute.

Photo credit: Laura Lean/PA Wire via Getty Images

America • Americanism • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Greatness Agenda • Middle East • military • NATO • Post • Terrorism

2,000 Against Millions

Proclaim victory and pull out!

On December 19, Donald Trump tweeted his own version of this classic military maxim as the president announced the withdrawal of America’s 2,000 soldiers from the war against the ISIS caliphate in Syria.

Allies reacted with shock. Enemies mocked and gloated. Neither reaction should come as a surprise.

The president’s defenders emphasize that America has nothing to show for the $7 trillion it has spent on this war. The United States, they say, has much greater concerns at home and in East Asia. Few analysts, regardless of how they feel about America’s withdrawal from Syria, understand why such conflicts drag on and on, despite enormous losses. Historians and journalists rarely examine the demographic data that explain why deadly wars can last for decades or centuries.

Even the killing ground of Europe from 1500 to 1945 escapes their attention. And when it comes to Syria, they are utterly clueless about the link between rapid demographic growth and the long and bloody wars that have devastated this region. Explosive population growth results in explosions on the battlefield.

Between 1900 and 2015, Islam’s global population increased by a factor of nine, from 200 million to 1.8 billion people. Christianity, though still the largest religion worldwide, only quadrupled (from 560 million to 2.3 billion). Since 1950, Islam has added nearly 1.4 billion people to its fold, despite the fact that Iran, Lebanon, Tunisia, and Turkey—which together have 180 million inhabitants—are now in a post-growth phase (defined as fewer than two children per woman).  This lower birth rate also applies to the approximately 20 million citizens in the rich sheikdoms between Bahrain and Kuwait.

But nine Muslim countries belong to the 68 nations of the world that have what I call a “war index” that is higher than 3—that is, they have 3,000 or more youths between the ages of 15 and 19 for every 1,000 men aged 55 to 59 who are close to retirement. For four Islamic countries outside the Middle East—Afghanistan (5.99; 36 million), Sudan (4.65; 42 million), Mauritania (4.17; 5 million) and Pakistan (3.39; 200 million)—the war index is even higher.

Today, there are about 100 million Arabs (up from 15 million in 1950) living in countries that have the high population growth that leads to a high war index: Iraq (5.80; 40 million), Palestine (5.46; 5 million), Yemen (5.41; 29 million), Syria (4.02; 18 million), Jordan (3.95; 10 million).

Since 1960, these five countries have been involved in almost 40 armed conflicts. “Only” seven of these conflicts involved attempts to annihilate Jews in Israel. The most virulent players of the Middle East and North Africa region may take occasional breaks from violent conflict. But until at least 2030, when their war index will have fallen well below 3, the region will have to establish a balance between the ambitions of its millions of unemployed young men and the too-few available jobs.

As it becomes more and more difficult for these potential fighters to get work or find social welfare outside their region, we can expect an increase in bloody rebellions against domestic elites, with frustrated young men demanding and fighting for a place in society. A continuation of the region’s low economic growth will make the fighting worse. In 2017, the five countries applied for nine (nine!) high-caliber international patents under the Patent Cooperation Treaty. More than 200 times as many applications came from Israel.

Since most of the victims of internal violence are Muslims as well, their elimination is usually justified as a mandate from the Most High. In this respect, the ISIS Caliphate under Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi provides lessons about the past and a peek at the future, as well. Because of Trump’s intervention in the war, ISIS has lost 98 percent of its territories and at least 60,000 men. Is this number frightening to them? Certainly! Does it mean an end to the ability of ISIS and its successors under some other holy banner to absorb losses?

Certainly not.

Due to very high birth rates up to 2015, the number of 15-29-year-old males in Iraq and Syria alone will rise by 3.5 million through 2030 (from 7.75 million to 11.25 million).

As a great danger, allegedly overlooked by Trump, it is emphasized that 30,000 hidden ISIS fighters would still have to be defeated before withdrawal can be considered. In actual fact, the number of angry young Islamists striving upwards by violence is at least 100 times higher. By staying in Syria, the 2,000 Americans risk their lives for coming battles that may not even be winnable for 100,000 western soldiers.

For Russians and Persians, who are now in a triumphant mood, Syria will not be a walk in the park either. Above all Putin, constrained by a war index of 0.67 (1,000 older men are followed by only 670 younger ones), loses the support of even ardent supporters in the event of significant losses. These powers can send their own sons to die in Syria and Iraq, or simply try to confine the revolutions in which competing brothers kill each other to the brothers’ own countries. None of this will happen peacefully.

Genocide threats from the belligerent young men of the Islamic world are not directed against Israel alone. Kurds are also targeted, and not just by Ankara. The aging, low birth rate West, in which every man who falls on the battlefield may terminate a family line, cannot do much to stop the years of violence that lie ahead. But strategic support for the survival struggle of threatened nations remains possible. Red lines around Israel and Kurdistan, the crossing of which would trigger air strikes against the heartlands of the attackers, would be one way of achieving such a goal.

Photo credit: iStock/Getty Images

America • Center for American Greatness • Defense of the West • Deterrence • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Greatness Agenda • Middle East • military • Post • Russia • Terrorism • The ME Agenda

Trump’s Syria Withdrawal Hinges on Turkey

Whether pulling the remaining U.S. troops from Syria turns out to be a bold and beneficial move or a stupid, harmful one depends on what Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will do. That, in turn, depends in no small part on what constraints he senses from President Trump—as well as from Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Here, to the best of my understanding, are the circumstances and the possible consequences of the president’s decision to withdraw from Syria.

Erdoğan had been menacing a military attack on the Kurds in Northeast Syria who, working with U.S. troops, are finishing the dirty work of killing off ISIS. The U.S military has been warning the Turks not to do that, at ever higher levels. But when Trump called Erdoğan to talk him out of attacking our troops’ partners, it seems that Erdogan simply talked him into removing our troops.

Departing Secretary of Defense James Mattis’s anger is understandable. The boss undercut him after, following orders, Mattis had given orders down the line, as well as his word to fellow fighters. National security advisor John Bolton, too, would have been dismayed: he and Trump had agreed that we owe the Kurds a lot, and that the Kurds south of Turkey’s border provide a natural barrier to a variety of enemies of America, not least Erdoğan. Bolton might well have resigned along with Mattis if Trump had merely bowed to Erdoğan. Whether Trump bowed or not depends on whether or not there is more to the story.

Erdoğan is America’ s enemy. As far back as 2003, he forbade use of Turkish ground and airspace for U.S. operations in Iraq, including the U.S. Air Force base at Incirlik. A member of the Muslim Brotherhood, he has turned Turkey from a NATO ally into an Islamist dictatorship.

Neither wise nor competent, he aims to resurrect something like the Caliphate, with Ottoman Turkey its seat and himself as the Sultan in all but name. To this end, he supported the Brotherhood’s attempted takeover of Egypt, supports Hamas in Gaza, and a host of Sunni terrorist groups, in Syria as well. Only with Turkey’s active help was ISIS able to market the oil it got from Iraqi and Syrian fields, buy arms, receive recruits from abroad, etc. ISIS became more than a minor nuisance only because Erdogan provided it with a hinterland.

Erdoğan meant to use ISIS as the head of the Sunni spear to overthrow Syria’s Alawite  (a version of Shia) regime. However, Erdoğan also opposes Sunni Saudi Arabia, mainly because he is financed largely by Qatar, which is in a very bitter quarrel with Saudi Arabia. In part because of Qatar, he believes he has some kind of understanding with Iran, though it is on the opposite side of the great Sunni-Shia war. He welcomed Russia’s intervention in Syria, though it brought Iranian influence to his southern as well as to his eastern border. Passionately anti-American and in disregard of Turkey’s secular geopolitical adversary relationship with Russia, he seems to be satisfied with Vladimir Putin’s de facto overlordship of the Middle East.

Making war on the Kurds at home and abroad, however, seems to be Erdoğan’s consuming passion. He revived restrictions on the Kurdish language, and renewed military raids on majority Kurdish areas. This runs against demography: Kurds are some 20 percent of Turkey’s population, concentrated in the Southeast. While ethnic Turks are declining in number, the Kurds are prolific. Twenty years hence, the majority of Turkey’s military-age men will be Kurds. All around Turkey’s southern and Eastern borders, in Syria, Iraq, and Iran are some 15 million Kurds who feel kinship with their Turkish brethren. Erdoğan has bombed Iraqi Kurdistan, and his army has attacked Syrian Kurds under the pretext of attacking ISIS—which Turkey used to support openly and to which it continues to give clandestine support. What Erdoğan thinks his war on Kurds will accomplish only he knows.

Putin’s Russia does not share Erdoğan’s animus against the Kurds. One may safely suppose that Russia’s Putin would prefer to see Turkey’s borders continue to be occupied by forces that make Turkey uncomfortable. Moreover, Russia now being in charge of the Middle East’s zoo, Putin’s interest lies in opposing any party therein getting any bigger in its britches, and in the continuation of as much balance as possible. In short, no one would have to encourage Putin to warn Erdoğan not to strike the Syrian Kurds. But someone may well have urged him to deliver such a warning—John Bolton, for example, when he visited the Kremlin in October to discuss U.S.-Russia relations.

Donald Trump may well have delivered the same warning to Erdoğan even more directly during their pivotal conversation on December 14. After all, Trump had called precisely to deliver that warning. Erdoğan’s “Why don’t you remove your troops?” was a clever counter. But unless Trump is witless as well as vile, he would not have needed Bolton to tell him to answer with something like: “OK. We’ll pull our troops out. But you must agree to leave the Kurds alone. And you must know that, if you renege, our planes from the carriers, in the Gulf, and maybe even from Incirlik, will make you wish you had kept your word.” If that was the deal, keeping it quiet would have been part of it.

We know that, after Trump announced the withdrawal, Erdoğan announced the “suspension” of what had been his impending attack on the Kurds. We don’t know whether this was in consequence of such a deal, or whether Erdoğan intends the suspension to be permanent, or whether Trump intends to enforce it. And of course, we don’t know how Putin is counseling Erdoğan in this regard. Events will tell us soon enough.

Photo credit: Burak Kara/Getty Images

Israel • Post • Religion of Peace • Terrorism • The Left

Airbnb: More Dangerous Than Pittsburgh

After the horrific attack upon a synagogue in Pittsburgh, I wrote that it is tremendously misguided, not to mention dangerous, to associate anti-Semitism with any single political cause. Rather, extremists at both ends of the political spectrum fall into the same trap. As I wrote then, “That Louis Farrakhan referred to Jews as termites, while the Tree of Life murderer referred to a ‘kike infestation,’ is no coincidence.”

Airbnb, an American company given to ostentatious displays of left-wing rectitude even as it causes unending grief for cities and homeowners, recently announced it would no longer list short-term rental properties in what it describes as “the occupied West Bank.” Not only is this anti-Semitic, but this form of anti-Semitism is in fact much more dangerous than what happened in Pittsburgh last month.

This may appear to be an astounding statement. Why is this obviously anti-Semitic, and how could denial of property listings somehow be more dangerous than a gunman openly murdering Jews?

Begin with the fact that an explanation of the anti-Semitic nature of this decision is even necessary, although it is obvious. It is so obvious that a continuous, leftist false narrative has been necessary to mask it.

There are numerous areas around the world where a government is occupying and controlling the homeland of a distinct ethnicity, a different people, and even forcing them from their homes. Prominent examples include Northern Cyprus, Chechnya, the Western Sahara, and Tibet. According to Airbnb’s own statement that “companies should not profit on lands where people have been displaced,” Airbnb’s continued business in those locations is a moral abomination.

In fact, it is not, because it is never appropriate to target individual citizens. In most cases, it isn’t feasible, either—it is difficult to know if a particular home is owned by members of the occupying or indigenous populations, or even by a third party.

Only thanks to the Oslo Accords can one distinguish a “settler” from a “Palestinian”—and the homes of the latter are not targeted. Indeed, the only unique facet of the homes delisted by Airbnb, contrary to its practices in every other location where it is permitted to operate by law, is that these homes are owned by Jews.

In the wake of the Arab armies’ catastrophic loss in 1967, after their third organized attempt to destroy the young nation of Israel, the United Nations passed Resolution 242 calling for a peaceful end to the conflict. One who reads this document is shocked to learn that Israel is neither expected to withdraw to its 1967 borders, nor to withdraw at all prior to conclusion of a comprehensive peace agreement with full recognition of all parties. At a time when the Palestinian Authority is actively rewarding murderers, and its logo depicts its borders as comprising all of Israel, a claim that Israel is violating international law by permitting its citizens to live in contested areas is utterly vacuous.

It is also morally abhorrent. The city of Hebron is depicted as a “Palestinian” city with an “Israeli settlement.” In fact, Hebron has enjoyed nearly 3,500 years as a city with unique significance in Judaism: it is identified as the burial place of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, along with their wives. Jews have never left that city voluntarily, and most recently that was a consequence of the 1929 Arab massacre. So to call Hebron a “Palestinian” city inverts reality, and endorses the result of ethnic cleansing.

Finally, boycotting Israel is an exemplary paradigm for the word “counterproductive.” Not only did the Arabs boycott Jewish settlement in then-Palestine before Israel’s formation, but it was a tactic they learned from the Nazis, who began with their boycott in 1932. So today’s boycotters claim to believe that replicating an old Nazi tactic is a good way to convince Jews to compromise the security of their children. One has to be an idiot, an ignoramus, or truly evil, to imagine Boycott Divest Sanction (BDS) to be a good idea.

And that is what makes the Airbnb move so dangerous: the company now traffics in evil.

The belief that all Jewish property is somehow stolen, acquired fraudulently, is a basic notion of anti-Semitism identified in rabbinic thought for hundreds of years, and traced back directly to the Bible itself. That is what we find today in the fundamentally wrongheaded depiction of Jewish presence in Hebron and elsewhere as an “occupation” of marauders from the Arabian Peninsula. It is a return to old, hateful lies.

No one in positions of legitimate influence or power endorses the behavior of the murderer in Pittsburgh. But numerous organizations, and left-wing politicians such as Rashida Tlaib, favor boycotts of Jews to “punish” them for living in their homeland.

This lie rapidly leads to an equally false corollary: “resistance is justified, when people are occupied.” By “resistance” they mean, of course, the murder of civilians. Civilian casualties nearly destroyed the Irish Republican Army and completely ended the Chechen rebellion, although both were truly indigenous people fighting occupation. No one tolerates the murder of civilians in any situation, unless, once again, the victims are Jews.

Condemnations of Israel’s defense at the Gaza border, while ignoring the war crimes that demanded Israel’s response, just encourages the murderers. Consider the number of knife, gun, and missile attacks against Jews in Israel, and it is obvious that the incitement leads to far more casualties over time than do a few neo-Nazi shooters. And this is the thinking with which the unthinking left-wingers at Airbnb have aligned themselves.

Photo Credit: Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images

Cultural Marxism • Democrats • Identity Politics • Post • Terrorism • The Left

Down the Memory Hole

Gavin Long. Micah Johnson. James Hodgkinson. Frederick Scott. Emanuel Samson.

These men have something in common, dear reader. Do you know what it is? Try answering without the aid of references.

Difficult, no? How about an easier one.

Who is Dylann Roof?

You probably already have an image of him in your mind. White. Angry. Armed.

Roof, of course, is the mass murderer who killed nine blacks on a Sunday morning in June of 2015. He hoped to start a race war. Instead, Leftist activists used his act of violence as justification to remove the Confederate flag from the Civil War Memorial in front of the South Carolina capitol.

But you already knew that. The media/corporate/ideological axis of influence made sure of that. Roof’s terrorist act was the subject of innumerable thinkpieces, sermons, and national conversations about race, hate, and violence.

But those first five names? You probably had to look them up. I certainly did.

Gavin Long is the black separatist who murdered three police officers and wounded three others in the wake of protests of the police shooting of Alton Sterling in 2016.

Micah Johnson is another black man who murdered five Dallas police officers and wounded nine others, also in the wake of protests over the death of Alton Sterling in 2016.

James Hodgkinson was the left-wing activist and Bernie Sanders campaign volunteer who attempted to assassinate the Republican congressional baseball team in Arlington, VA in 2017.

Fredrick Scott is the serial killer who murdered five white men on Kansas City hiking trails from 2016 to 2017. He was motivated by a desire to “kill all white people.”

Emmanuel Samson is a Sudanese migrant who murdered one woman and shot seven other worshipers in a Tennessee church service in 2017 as revenge for Dylann Roof’s mass shooting in South Carolina.

None of these men are household names. None of them sparked “national conversations” about the need to tone down anti-white or anti-conservative hatred and prejudice. No flags were removed because of their actions.

Other than concerned attention by some on the political Right and detached “just the facts, ma’am” reporting from the establishment, these terrorist incidents have disappeared from our national collective consciousness.

Indeed, some of these incidents never even entered into the local consciousness in the places they occurred. Fredrick Scott was charged with three of his murders the same week that Heather Heyer was killed during the Charlottesville riots. That Sunday I happened to attend a mega-church in Kansas City. The pastor spoke passionately against the “hate” and “anger” that lead to Heyer’s death in Virginia a thousand miles away, but didn’t say a word about the racist serial killer in his own backyard.

In the wake of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting this morning in Pittsburgh, allegedly committed by Robert Bowers, an extremist with a long standing hatred of Jews, it is reasonable to expect that the incident will garner plenty of attention. Indeed, Twitter is already aflame with accusations that Trump and the America he represents abetted this attack.

Instead of being flushed down the memory hole, the incident will almost certainly become a centerpiece for another “national conversation” about Donald Trump’s rhetoric, the supposed widespread irrational prejudice on the American Right, and the need for additional censorship of “hate-thought” by Silicon Valley’s techno-oligarchs.

The question of whether or not an atrocity will be forgotten or remembered rests entirely on the identity of the perpetrator and the victims. If the victims are members of protected liberal classes—such as Jews, blacks, and Muslims—and the perpetrator is not, i.e., he is a white male, then the attack will become a touchstone for lectures on tolerance and the need to fight hate, conveniently defined as the entire conservative right.

If the identity of victim and perpetrator are reversed the attack is simply “heartbreaking” to the extent it is acknowledged at all. Then it is forgotten.

This is how the politicization of tragedy works in our America.

Photo Credit: Laura Buckman/AFP/Getty Images

Intelligence Community • Law and Order • Post • Terrorism • The Media

A Counterintelligence Perspective on Cesar Sayoc

What follows is a counterintelligence man’s examination of the anomalies in the saga of the bombs mailed to Democratic Party officials and other leftists.

During my years with the Senate Intelligence Committee, as I worked to repair this country’s counterintelligence operations, I sometimes lectured our intelligence community’s leaders on the principles of counterintelligence analysis. Prominent among these is that close attention to an event’s anomalies—to things that don’t seem to quite fit—can reveal more about the event than everything else about it. In other words, if in fact the event contains a lie, it may lead you to understand the deepest truths about that event.

So resistant were these bureaucrats to accept this principle that a mandate to implement it had to be included in the 1983 Intelligence Authorization Act. Soon thereafter, though, an Air Force intelligence team using this principle turned the notice of a wind tunnel in the Moscow suburb of Sharopova, oriented incorrectly, into the discovery of the Soviet Union’s deep underground nuclear war command center.

The obvious account of the bomb drama is that devices were mailed or delivered to prominent critics of the Trump Administration to hurt them or to frighten them into silence.

Not originally knowing anything about who mailed those devices, or why, and assuming that the alleged perpetrator was a competent person who would have covered his personal tracks well—the way that the Soviets had deceived U.S intelligence analysts for a decade about their nuclear command post—noticing anomalies, in this case the ways in which these devices and their deliveries don’t quite fit the obvious story, was the best way of grasping the truth of the matter.

Although it is usually prudent to assume the opponent’s intelligence and rationality, the analyst had to keep in mind that an assumption is only just that.

The devices could not have caused harm, and were unlikely to have caused fear first, because they were unlikely to reach their supposed victims. They were sent through the U.S. Postal Service, which advertises that it checks all packages for explosives, or were delivered to places protected by the Secret Service or known to have other, serious security measures. A rational perpetrator would know that. By the same token he had to know that the undelivered packages were sure to draw the media’s attention.

Nothing about the devices themselves fit the main story of harm and fear. First, they were made of PVC pipe—grossly insufficient for containing an explosion to lethal force. Second, whereas package-bombs are set to go off when the package is opened, these contained outside timers, apparently unconnected to what may or may not be detonators.

But though incapable of hurting the recipients, were they meant to frighten them into silence? Believing that things so obviously harmless could frighten persons protected by world-class security beggars belief. In short, these devices’ anomalies lead the analyst to conclude that they were meant to look like bombs, aimed at a credulous press, just as the Sharopova wind tunnel was aimed at credulous intelligence analysts.

We have a recent domestic example of something like this: In 2015, 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed brought a clock to science class made to look like a bomb. He acted in a way that got him arrested and prompted a media frenzy about American society’s supposed Islamophobia. President Obama made that point by inviting him to the White House.

Hence, counterintelligence analysis’ first hard conclusion: Whoever the perpetrator was, he acted to harm some and help others politically, by leveraging the media. But if the devices were meant to ignite a media frenzy, who were the intended victims and who the beneficiaries?

At this point, the honest analyst must refrain from “post hoc propter hoc” logic lest he fall into a trap of his own making. He may not say, “Look what happened: the media did what any sentient person would have expected them to do; they turned the Democrats and other Leftist recipients into pretend-victims and really victimized Trump and the Republicans on the eve of important elections by imputing to them responsibility for political violence. The bomb story tended to cancel out the reputation for violence that the Left had earned over the years and most recently during the Kavanaugh confirmation. Whoever sent those devices must have known that would happen, if he had any brains at all. Hence that is what he intended to happen.”

But the analyst would have to keep in mind that we did not know whether the sender had any brains at all, that maybe the assumption of the perp’s intelligence and rationality was unwarranted. Maybe the perp was nothing like the almost-perfect Soviet operatives. Maybe he really was just as stupid as he was evil.

The case for stupidity was obvious. He misspelled the names of addressees, just like CNN would expect of an ignorant Trump supporter. But when a counterintelligence analyst comes across mistakes made by an opponent presumed to be intelligent and rational, the default assumption must be that they are not mistakes at all but false trails. In this case, however the mistakes seemed to have been quite simply, mistakes due to stupidity.

Competent counterintelligence analysts accustomed to working in the proverbial “wilderness of mirrors” must always keep in mind that, sometimes, things are what they seem to be.

Though the perp was not so stupid as those who expected he must have licked his DNA onto the stamps on the envelopes (they did not notice that the stamps are of the ready-stick kind), he proved plenty stupid enough to have left his fingerprints for the FBI and ATF to discover. But his biggest stupidity by far was to achieve the very opposite effect of what he presumably intended.

Photo Credit: CNN

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

Obama bin Biden

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

America • American Conservatism • Americanism • Defense of the West • Democrats • Department of Homeland Security • Foreign Policy • Immigration • Post • self-government • Terrorism • The Constitution • Trump White House

Neocons Empower America’s Enemies

Whenever neoconservatives speak about the bounties that endless wars of “liberation” will provide, I am reminded of a Jonah Goldberg column from 2002, expounding upon the many upsides of invading Iraq:

The most compelling substantive reason, from my point of view, is that Iraq should be a democratic, republican country, with individual rights secured by a liberal constitution. (My preferred governmental model is something along the lines of the Swiss confederation, with Kurds, Shiites, and Arab-Sunnis each having considerable internal autonomy but a shared national government. The country is already split in three parts by the U.S.- and British-imposed no-fly zones anyway.) A democratic Iraq with free-market institutions and the rule of law sounds pretty far-fetched, but it sounded pretty far-fetched for Japan and Germany too. The United States, with the help of its allies, pulled that off.

Goldberg’s claims were quickly proven to be disastrously wrong. (And not just Goldberg’s.) Yet such prognostications were taken at face value by some of the most important people in the world at the time.

Hence, when the United States went on its historic 21-day jog into Baghdad, everyone applauded (remember, 72 percent of Americans supported the Iraq War in 2003). To compound matters, the history that Goldberg (and the other neocons) relied upon was, as too often is the case with these “experts,” lacking all context.

The neoconservatives were accurate when they suggested early on that Iraq could be governed by a Swiss-style confederation, which would empower the regional Kurdish, Shiite, and Arab-Sunnis at the expense of an all-powerful central government in Baghdad. In fact, this was precisely what then-U.S. Senator Joe Biden argued in a controversial New York Times article in 2006. But for whatever reason, the neocons decided to pile on Biden for his beliefs.

Of course, Biden was right.

Think about that. Had the George W. Bush Administration listened to Joe Biden, the world likely would have been better off today.

Another galling claim from the neocons was that the U.S. effort in Iraq was similar to its postwar reconstruction endeavors in Japan or Germany. In both the cases of Japan and Germany, the countries had already been experimenting with forms of democracy long before the rise of either the Nazis in Germany, or the militarists under Hideki Tojo in Japan. In fact, the people of Germany and Japan had elected the Nazis and the militarists into office.

As early as World War I, the German parliament had considerable say in imperial governance. According to Adam Tooze, the democratically elected German parliamentarians (until 1916) were more hawkish about waging World War I than even the kaiser and his generals were! By 1917, the kaiser had promised still more democratic reforms as the war progressed.

As for the Japanese, the Meiji Restoration (1868-1912), which reformed Japan from a feudalistic society (ripe for bullying by the European colonial empires and the United States) into a first-rate world power, also created a form of democracy in Japan. While the emperor’s standing was maintained, the Japanese Diet—Japan’s democratically elected legislature—was created to govern the country at the time. In fact, Japan’s constitutional monarchy was based on Germany’s. These democratic institutions were organically formed. So when the Americans defeated the Axis powers in World War II, at least there was a democratic precedent for reconstruction. That wasn’t the case in Iraq (or really anywhere else in the Arab Middle East). Iraqis had known nothing except monarchy and tyranny.

And let’s not forget the role of total warfare and the Allies’ demand for unconditional surrender in World War II. The fact is, America’s grand strategy obliterated the German and Japanese infrastructure along with the legitimacy of their regimes. There was no sense of a “lost cause” among the Germans or Japanese. They were eager, in fact, to put those sordid days behind them. It helped, too, that their surrender made the populations almost entirely dependent on the Americans for the postwar order.

That didn’t happen with Iraq.

When the Americans invaded, the country was already a wreck under Saddam’s scleroitc rule and a decade of onerous sanctions. The United States went in with no clear concept either of an occupation or a reconstruction. But even if Washington had planned for both, the Iraqis lacked the culture, history, and temperament for democracy—which is why they are sliding back into a Islamist form of totalitarian rule.

That’s the upshot of more than 15 years of America’s “freedom agenda” for the Middle East: destitution, resentment, contempt, tyranny, and trillions of dollars in debt. The winners were the very same forces the United States had committed itself to defeating: Islamists of both the Sunni and Shiite varieties. The policies that the supposed “experts” at National Review, The Weekly Standard, and Commentary promoted managed to strengthen our enemies and corrode American foreign policy.

As Tallyrand said of the Bourbons, our neocons have learned nothing and forgotten nothing. Today these same “intellectuals” advocate more expansive forms of humanitarian warfare. Everywhere from Syria to Nigeria is a potential target for American militarism. It’d be laughable if it weren’t for the fact that the neocons remain hugely influential not only in Washington, D.C. generally but even within the Trump Administration.

In draining the swamp, Trump must destroy the “military-intellectual complex” undergirding the Republican Party’s foreign policy establishment. If he doesn’t, the most flawed assumptions about American foreign policy will persist, and the United States could very well find itself mired in three or four more meaningless, unwinnable wars.

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Trump’s Hawaiian Volcano: The Scott-Free Dread of Korematsu

Does the Supreme Court care whether America is free or slave? That was the question 160 years ago, and it remains the question today. The result in Trump v. Hawaii is happier than that of the notorious Dred Scott v. Sanford, but that may only be a happy accident.

The 5-4 decision upholding President Trump’s travel moratorium from seven nations, including some in the Middle East, was even narrower than most observers expected. Yet, it might just as easily have been 7-2 in favor, or have been 5-4 against. The conclusion of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s two-page concurring opinion underscores this ambiguity:

The First Amendment prohibits the establishment of religion and promises the free exercise of religion. From these safeguards, and from the guarantee of freedom of speech, it follows there is freedom of belief and expression. It is an urgent necessity that officials adhere to these constitutional guarantees and mandates in all their actions, even in the sphere of foreign affairs. An anxious world must know that our Government remains committed always to the liberties the Constitution seeks to preserve and protect, so that freedom extends outward, and lasts. (Emphases added.)

Kennedy’s flightiness could easily have put him with a more temperate opinion from the dissenters, just as Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan’s aversion to Trump’s campaign rhetoric could have been resolved in favor of concurring with or even joining the majority opinion. It’s noteworthy the liberal pair did not join Sonia Sotomayor’s blustery dissent with Ruth Bader Ginsburg— quite possibly the most frivolous opinion ever written in Supreme Court history.

That split among the liberal appointees reflects the difference between the older and the Progressive factions of the Democratic Party. Opinions on both sides of the decision seem more dictated by politics (despising Trump) or by Kennedy’s musings than by constitutional law. Is this a House oversight hearing or a judicial decision? (Thanks to John Marini for inspiring the comparison.) Is it too much to ask that we see some serious thinking about the rule of law?

The Constitutionalism of Thomas
While Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion for the majority was on-target with the law and separation of powers principles—with one major exception I will come to—Clarence Thomas’s concurrence went to the heart of the constitutional, that is, the existential issue. His was the opinion that most forcefully laid out the constitutional consequences of the dangers we face in the world and the subsequent need for a hierarchy of the ends of government (following the old natural law reasoning of America’s Founders).

Thomas maintains that “the President has inherent authority to exclude aliens from the country”—a pure Article II executive power claim. Moreover,

the Establishment Clause does not create an individual right to be free from all laws that a “reasonable observer” views as religious or antireligious. The plaintiffs cannot raise any other First Amendment claim, since the alleged religious discrimination in this case was directed at aliens abroad.

That is, aliens are not part of our social contract and, unless they hold property, cannot have legal claims against the United States. Thomas lashes out at the lower court judicial despotism of “universal injunctions,” which finds federal district courts prohibiting the executive branch “from applying a law or policy against anyone” and thus preventing legal questions from percolating through the federal courts, encouraging forum shopping, and making every case a national emergency for the courts and for the Executive Branch.” These are how the travel cases gradually made their way to the Supreme Court. I would add to Thomas’s analysis that these courts are guerilla partisan political units, losing any legitimacy as courts. They are “legally and historically dubious,” their authority problematic. Now they can draw inspiration from the dissents.

When the ACLU Oversees National Security
It’s difficult to think of Roberts’ opinion as anything but a series of ironic dismissals of the suit, combined with sneers at Sotomayor’s fantastic dissent. “Unlike the typical [Establishment Clause] suit involving religious displays or school prayer, plaintiffs seek to invalidate a national security directive regulating the entry of aliens abroad.” We think of the court’s earlier zealous, ACLU-inflicted rulings on Christmas displays on public land now used as weapons against national security. Could the president be enjoined judicially from prohibiting Santa and his reindeer from entering the country? Does Jesus need a passport?

In addition, the Trump travel moratorium “is facially neutral toward religion. Plaintiffs therefore ask the Court to probe the sincerity of the stated justifications for the policy by reference to extrinsic statements—many of which were made before the President took the oath of office.” The reality show host, along with other, conventional candidates, has to be judged by his tweets and campaign blather. The Supreme Court has now to make sense of his motivations, not just here but in every case? Madness!

Roberts dismisses the application of violation of religious liberty standards (“strict scrutiny”) “because there is persuasive evidence that the entry suspension has a legitimate grounding in national security concerns, quite apart from any religious hostility, we must accept that independent justification” (i.e., “rational basis”).

In desperation, Sotomayor compares the court opinion to the infamous Korematsu v. United States, the ethnic Japanese exclusion of World War II. Roberts snaps,

Whatever rhetorical advantage the dissent may see in doing so, Korematsu has nothing to do with this case. The forcible relocation of U.S. citizens to concentration camps, solely and explicitly on the basis of race, is objectively unlawful and outside the scope of Presidential authority. But it is wholly inapt to liken that morally repugnant order to a facially neutral policy denying certain foreign nationals the privilege of admission. The entry suspension is an act that is well within executive authority and could have been taken by any other President—the only question is evaluating the actions of this particular President in promulgating an otherwise valid Proclamation.

Sotomayor’s reference to Korematsu, however, affords the court an opportunity to make plain what is already obvious: Korematsu was gravely wrong the day it was decided, has been overruled in the court of history, and—to be clear—“has no place in law under the Constitution,” as Justice Robert Jackson wrote in his dissenting opinion at the time.

In response, the dissent claims the court “was finally overruling” the notorious Korematsu case. (See my objections to conventional understandings of the relocation.) But I wonder whether the dissent (and not a few legal pundits) bit on some Roberts’ chum that was intended to make Sotomayor appear a foolish fish. It is, therefore, mere dicta, not an “overruling.”

Hardships of War and Duties of Citizenship
In this limited space, I raise just a few questions about Roberts’ remarkable rhetoric here. First of all, what is the jurisdiction of “the court of history” that overruled Korematsu? Is this Hegel’s Weltgeschichte become Weltgericht (“World-History” become the “World Court/Final Judgment”?)

Second, what Roberts passes off as a summary of Korematsu is clearly wrong on key points, even when taking the perspective of the dissenters in that case. “The forcible relocation of U.S. citizens to concentration camps, solely and explicitly on the basis of race, is objectively unlawful and outside the scope of Presidential authority.” Though a majority of those relocated to centers were U.S. citizens, most of those were minors. The great danger lay among the first generation immigrants (including my father), who could not become U.S. citizens under the laws of the day and still felt close ties to their homeland, now the enemy, asking for national devotion from its sons and daughters abroad. To quote from that court opinion,

Regardless of the true nature of the assembly and relocation centers—and we deem it unjustifiable to call them concentration camps, with all the ugly connotations that term implies—we are dealing specifically with nothing but an exclusion order. To cast this case into outlines of racial prejudice, without reference to the real military dangers which were presented, merely confuses the issue.

Finally, neither Roberts nor Sotomayor mentions Korematsu’s inextricable relationship to its companion case of ex parte Endo, announced the same day, putting an end to the “concentration camps,” which could not continue to hold loyal U.S. residents. Both the Korematsu majority and the unanimous Endo court sought to contain a despotic policy and renew a Constitution already battered by Progressive assaults on rights. Korematsu is limited to the first phase of the relocation process—the assembly centers—and Endo forbade the government from constraining the loyal (who had already been permitted to leave the centers to find work or education).

It’s hard to believe Roberts or his clerks would have missed such obvious points. But it’s even more difficult to state frankly the costs of war. The Korematsu court opinion maintained

[H]ardships are part of war, and war is an aggregation of hardships. All citizens alike, both in and out of uniform, feel the impact of war in greater or lesser measure. Citizenship has its responsibilities, as well as its privileges, and, in time of war, the burden is always heavier.

Who can openly say such truths today? They weren’t known as the greatest generation for nothing.

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Trump’s Moves With N. Korea Are Nothing Like Obama’s With Iran

In the wake of the Singapore summit with North Korea, many commentators and publicists, Democrats as well as figures from the NeverTrump Right, have argued that President Trump is legitimizing a dictator. Trump critics contend that had President Obama met with a dictator like Kim Jong-un, Republicans would be fuming. After all, Republicans criticized the previous president for negotiating with another despotic regime, Iran, over its nuclear weapons program. Accordingly, honesty and principle require Trump supporters to criticize the current president for doing precisely what would merit attacks on a Democratic president.

A cursory glance shows that the two situations are not at all similar. Iran does not yet have a viable nuclear weapon and North Korea does. The negotiations that led to Obama’s signature foreign policy initiative, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, legitimized Iran’s path to the bomb, achievable within a little more than a decade. The purpose of Trump’s negotiations is to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

Clearly, Democratic and NeverTrump political operatives are not making a serious argument. They’re posturing. Since this is a deadly serious issue, however, it’s worth getting it right.

Obama’s Realignment Effort
It’s vital to understand that Obama’s Iran deal wasn’t simply or even primarily an arms agreement. Rather, it was an instrument with which to realign American interests in the Middle East. The goal of realignment was to upgrade Iran and downgrade traditional American partners—especially Israel and Saudi Arabia—in order to facilitate a U.S. withdrawal from the region.

Michael Doran wrote an important essay in February 2015 explaining realignment and detailing the Obama Administration’s flawed assumptions. Tony Badran is another Middle East analyst whose articles during the course of the Obama years showed how the United States was moving toward realignment. Obama aides and supporters waved off the realignment thesis as a “conspiracy theory” impugning foul intent to a president who simply wanted to avoid another Middle East war.

Most of these Obama supporters didn’t understand what the president was doing. It’s worth recalling that the “echo chamber” was a loud and incoherent chorus given the task not to explain Obama’s policies but to shout down critics of the Iran deal. For instance, the administration trotted out nuclear experts like Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to sell the “science” of the JCPOA—while at the same time Secretary of State John Kerry pushed poetry and fantasy, like Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s imaginary fatwa against nukes.

Most of the echo chamber had no idea what it was actually advocating, even though Obama frequently discussed it. In a New Yorker article from January 2014, for instance, Obama described a “new geopolitical equilibrium . . . developing between Sunni, or predominantly Sunni, Gulf states and Iran in which there’s competition, perhaps suspicion, but not an active or proxy warfare.”

Realignment was Obama’s version of Great Britain’s twin-pillar strategy. Formulated after World War II when London realized it could no longer sustain its empire, the twin-pillar strategy held that the two great powers of the Persian Gulf, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, would balance the region and manage British interests after withdrawal.

Fundamental Misunderstandings
In fact, it was the United States that kept the peace in the Persian Gulf after the British exit, a peace that became increasingly difficult to manage after Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979. Obama was correct to see that the United States had further altered the regional balance by toppling Saddam Hussein in 2003, thereby strengthening Iran. Obama wrongly concluded that the way to facilitate the U.S. exit from the region was by further empowering the regime in Tehran.

The Obama Administration’s nuclear agreement with Iran needs to be seen in this context. The United States was not negotiating with an adversarial regime but was rather treating with a potential partner that would help stabilize the Middle East to the benefit of American interests. How could Obama possibly deny the regime what it most desired, the bomb, if he expected Tehran to help balance the region?

The actual intent of the JCPOA negotiations has led to a great deal of confusion. Many critics on the Right believe that the Obama team did a bad job and got a bad agreement. Some thought the way to go was to renegotiate the Iran deal, not crash it, as Trump did in May.

This misunderstanding of the fundamental nature of the Iran deal has helped open the way for Trump critics to return fire. “How can anyone praise Trump when he has won nothing on paper from the North Koreans?” the argument goes, whereas Obama got lots of paper in a deal officially struck with Iran to limit its nuclear activities. But that was not the purpose of the Iran deal. The JCPOA simply provided Obama with enough cover to grant Iran the nuclear weapons program it will have as soon as the so-called sunset clauses prohibiting certain activities expire.

The actual goal of the Obama Administration’s JCPOA negotiations was to legitimize the Iranian regime and its nuclear weapons program. North Korea, in this framework, is already legitimized, regardless of Trump’s efforts. Whether we wish to blame the policies of more than two decades that did not stop North Korea from getting a bomb or prefer to see Pyongyang’s program as an inevitable and natural fact that was no more preventable than a hurricane, the reality is that acquisition of a nuclear weapon puts that power on the global stage.

Delegitimizing a Dangerous Regime
Does the bomb “legitimize” North Korea, or for that matter does possession of a nuclear weapon “legitimize” any regime? “Legitimacy” does not refer to a universal quality all regimes must have in order to exist, nor does it describe a regime’s behavior at home and abroad. It is simply a concept drawn from international relations syllabuses used to describe how various actors secure and sustain power and prestige.

Or, think about it like this: During the Iran debate, advocates of the deal often argued that the mullahs would never actually use the bomb, or they’d be crazy to use the bomb. Iran, said JCPOA advocates, isn’t crazy. It’s a rational regime.

That line of argument falls away as soon as any power acquires a nuclear weapon. After a state’s nuclear breakout, a central concern for policymakers around the world is that said state may indeed use the bomb. The primary purpose of acquiring a nuclear bomb is to get the world’s attention.

Kim Jong-un has the world’s attention. He has Donald Trump’s attention. We cannot yet know whether Trump will be successful or to what extent he may succeed. But in his efforts to “denuclearize” the Korean peninsula, the goal is to “delegitimize”—if that’s how you want to understand it—a dangerous and destructive regime that terrorizes its own citizens and threatens its neighbors. This is precisely the opposite of what the Obama Administration did when it legitimized the clerical regime in Iran and its nuclear weapons program.

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Behold, the New World Order

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Iran Nuclear Deal and North Korean Talks: The Difference

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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Stupid Foreign Policy’s Futility

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.

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Israel and Its Enemies: Why Culture Matters

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