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Why Trump’s U.N. Speech Was a Triumph

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Donald Trump on Tuesday confirmed yet again why he is the most robust president since Ronald Reagan. Following up on his brilliant speeches before a joint session of Congress in February, his speech about combating Islamic terrorism before Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia, and his splendid defense of Western civilizational values in Warsaw a few months ago, Trump addressed the United Nations and articulated for the 150 delegates at that ostentatiously corrupt institution the signal lesson of successful international relations: that freedom within nations, and comity among them, is best served not by the effacement or attenuation of national sovereignty but its frank and manly embrace.

“Sovereignty,” indeed, was the master word of Trump’s address. The word and its cognates occur 21 times in the 4,300-word talk, centrally in conjunction with the core Trumpian ideal of “principled realism.”

“We are guided,” Trump explained, “by outcomes, not ideology. We have a policy of principled realism, rooted in shared goals, interests, and values.”

The United Nations has in recent decades become a poster child for bureaucratic despond: corrupt, wasteful, and inefficient. It has also evolved into a megaphone for anti-American, left-wing sentiment, often hiding behind utopian world-government rhetoric.

This development, Trump reminded his listeners, is a blunt betrayal of the noble aspirations that formed the United Nations in the aftermath of World War II. Trump quoted Harry Truman, who stressed that the success of the United Nations depended on the “independent strength of its members.” The United Nations was not created to subvert national sovereignty but to help guarantee it.

One of the most refreshing things about Trump’s address—it is characteristic of his speeches—was his frankness. At the U.N., this had a positive as well as a critical side. On the positive side, I found it a breath of fresh air to hear an American president celebrate the achievements of America.

“The United States of America,” Trump said, “has been among the greatest forces for good in the history of the world, and the greatest defenders of sovereignty, security, and prosperity for all.” This is the simple truth, but I do not recall hearing such sentiments from the White House in recent years.

On the critical side, Trump was equally forthright. He affirmed his intention to battle threats to sovereignty from “the Ukraine to the South China Sea.” He roundly castigated the handful of “depraved” rogue regimes that not only terrorize their own people but threaten world peace. They violate, he noted, every principle upon which the U.N. was founded. In one the speech’s two most memorable moments, he called out the deplorable regime of Kim Jong-un in North Korea. The patience of the United States, Trump noted, is great, but it is not infinite.

If North Korea persists in its policy of nuclear blackmail, Trump explained, the United States “will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.” He continued: “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.” I could almost hear tongues clucking at the New York Times and the Washington Post, as much for the contemptuous nickname as for the threat of military force. But I liked it, just as I liked his robust calling-a-spade-a-spade moment with respect to the criminal regime of Iran, one of the world’s most ostentatious enablers of terrorism.

But Trump’s comments about North Korea and Iran were not only a declaration of resolve. They were also a challenge to the United Nations, the forum in which rogue regimes like Iran and North Korea ought to be brought to heel. The United States would step up to the plate by itself if necessary. But, Trump said, it would be better if the United Nations address the outliers. “If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few,” Trump said in another memorable line, “then evil will triumph.”

There were several good lines in this spectacular address. I think my absolute favorite—even better than the “Rocket Man” comment—came in Trump’s discussion of the failed socialist state of Venezuela. A few years ago Leftists from Jeremy Corbyn to Barack Obama were salivating over Hugo Chavez and his socialist policies. What we’ve seen, as could have been predicted—as was predicted by some of us—is that country’s rapid descent into poverty and chaos. “The problem in Venezuela,” Trump said, “is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.”

It is important to see Trump’s speech in the the broader context of utopian ambition generally. In a memorable passage at the beginning of The Critique of Pure Reason, Kant evokes a soaring dove that, “cleaving the air in her free flight,” feels the resistance of the wind and imagines that its flight “would be easier still in empty space.” It is a fond thought, of course, since absent that aeolian pressure that dove would simply plummet to the ground.

How regularly the friction of reality works that way: making possible our endeavors even as it circumscribes and limits their extent. And how often, like Kant’s dove, we are tempted to imagine that our freedoms would be grander and more extravagant absent the countervailing forces that make them possible.

It wasn’t so long ago that I had hopes that the Marxist-socialist rot—outside the insulated purlieus of humanities departments at Western universities, anyway—was on the fast track to oblivion. Has any “philosophy” ever been so graphically refuted by events (or by numbers of corpses)?

Such fantasies are as perennial as they are vain. They insinuate themselves everywhere in the economy of human desire, not least in our political arrangements. Noticing the imperfection of our societies, we may be tempted into thinking that the problem is with the limiting structures we have inherited. If only we could dispense with them, we might imagine, beating our wings, how much better things might be.

What a cunning, devilish word is “might.” For here as elsewhere, possibility is cheap. Scrap our current political accommodations and things might be better. Then again, they might be a whole lot worse. Vide the host of tyrannies inspired by that disciple of airy possibility, Jean-Jacques Rousseau. “Man was born free,” he declaimed, “but is everywhere in chains”: two startling untruths in a single famous utterance.

Rousseau was keen on “forcing men to be free,” but we had to wait until his followers Robespierre and Saint-Just to discover that freedom in this sense is often indistinguishable from what Robespierre chillingly called “virtue and its emanation, terror.”

Something similar can be said about that other acolyte of possibility, Karl Marx. How much misery have his theories underwritten, promising paradise but delivering tyranny, oppression, poverty, and death?

It wasn’t so long ago that I had hopes that the Marxist-socialist rot—outside the insulated purlieus of humanities departments at Western universities, anyway—was on the fast track to oblivion. Has any “philosophy” ever been so graphically refuted by events (or by numbers of corpses)?

Maybe not, but refutation plays a much more modest role in human affairs than we might imagine. In fact, the socialist-inspired utopian chorus is alive and well, playing to full houses at an anti-democratic redoubt near you.

Consider the apparently unkillable dream of “world government.” It is as fatuous now as it was when H. G. Wells infused it with literary drama towards the beginning of the last century.

Confusing national loyalty with nationalism, many utopians argue that the former is a threat to peace. After all, wasn’t it national loyalty that sparked two world wars?

No, it was that perverted offspring, nationalism, which was defeated at great cost only by the successful mobilization of national loyalty. 

Every human child needs to learn to walk by himself; so, it seems, every generation needs to wean itself from the blandishments of various utopian schemes. In 2005, the political philosopher Jeremy Rabkin published a fine book called Law Without Nations? Why Constitutional Government Requires Sovereign States. Rabkin ably fleshed out the promise of his subtitle, but it would be folly to think this labor will not have to be repeated.

The temptation to exchange hard-won democratic freedom for the swaddling comfort of one or another central planning body is as inextinguishable as it is dangerous. As the English philosopher Roger Scruton argued, “Democracies owe their existence to national loyalties—the loyalties that are supposedly shared by government and opposition.” Confusing national loyalty with nationalism, many utopians argue that the former is a threat to peace. After all, wasn’t it national loyalty that sparked two world wars?

No, it was that perverted offspring, nationalism, which was defeated at great cost only by the successful mobilization of national loyalty. Scruton quotes Chesterton on this point: to condemn patriotism because people go to war for patriotic reasons, he said, is like condemning love because some loves lead to murder.

It is one of the great mysteries—or perhaps I should say it is one of the reliable reminders of human imperfection—that higher education often fosters a particular form of political stupidity. Scruton anatomizes that stupidity, noting “the educated derision that has been directed at our national loyalty by those whose freedom to criticize would have been extinguished years ago, had the English not been prepared to die for their country.” This peculiar mental deformation, Scruton observes, involves “the repudiation of inheritance and home.” It is a stage, he writes,

through which the adolescent mind normally passes. But it is a stage in which intellectuals tend to become arrested. As George Orwell pointed out, intellectuals on the Left are especially prone to it, and this has often made them willing agents of foreign powers. The Cambridge spies [Guy Burgess, Kim Philby, et al.] offer a telling illustration of what [this tendency] has meant for our country.

It is also telling that this déformation professionelle of intellectuals encourages them to repudiate patriotism as an atavistic passion and favor transnational institutions over national governments, rule by committee or the courts over democratic rule. Rabkin reminds us of the naïveté—what others have called “idealism”—that this preference requires. In order to believe that international bodies will protect human rights, for example, you would have to believe

that governments readily cooperate with other governments on common projects, even when such cooperation promises no direct exchange of benefits to each side. In the end, you must believe that human beings cooperate easily and naturally without much constraint—without much actual enforcement, hence without much need for force.

To believe this you must believe that almost all human beings are well-meaning, even to strangers. And you must believe that human beings have no very serious disagreements on fundamental matters.

The persistence of such beliefs is no guide to their cogency or truth. What that other Jeremy, Jeremy Bentham, long ago called “nonsense on stilts” presents a spectacle that is perhaps unsteady but nonetheless mesmerizing. And when it comes to the erosion of the nation state and its gradual replacement by unaccountable, transnational entities such as the EU, the UN, or the so-called “World Court,” the results are ominous. As Andrew C. McCarthy has noted,

[w]ith the potent combination of a seismic shift in public attitudes away from democratic self-determination and toward oligarchic juristocracy (or rule by courts), as well as a sweeping infrastructure of so-called “international human rights law,” this movement is now poised to realize much of its goal: A world in which the nation state, the organizing geopolitical paradigm and engine of human progress since the Treaty of Westphalia, substantially gives way to a post-sovereign order of global governance led by supra-national tribunals (or tribunals that, though nominally “national,” pledge fealty to the higher calling of “humanity”). Like other utopian projects, the end of this one is tyranny.

Today, the nation state, that territorially based network of filiation bound together through shared history, custom, law, and language, is under greater siege than at any time since the dissolution of the Roman Empire. The external threat of radical Islam—pardon the pleonasm—may be the greatest threat to Western civilization since 1571 when the Battle of Lepanto checked the incursion of what we used to call the paynim foe into Europe.

But in the end, perhaps the greatest threat to the West lies not in its external enemies, no matter how hostile or numerous, but in its inner uncertainty—an uncertainty that is all-too-often celebrated as an especially enlightened form of subtlety and sophistication—about who we are.

The attack on the nation state—a less orotund formulation might say our unwitting self-demolition—proceeds apace on several fronts. The world will soon recognize the great service Donald Trump has done for the forces of civilization through his eloquent and impassioned defense of national sovereignty.

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

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Victory in Afghanistan is Still Possible

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“When Americans suffer casualties, they run away from battle,” the high-ranking Taliban commander, Seif Galali, famously told an Al Jazeera interviewer in 2009, after U.S. forces withdrew from the Nuristan Province, due to fierce Taliban resistance.

Around that time, Marine Corps platoon leader Lieutenant Jake Kerr, would recount to the legendary military writer (who is also a retired Marine), Bing West, the travails of his platoon’s experience fighting in Afghanistan. He would detail how his Marines held a forward operating base in Kunar Province but, since the Marines weren’t allowed to venture out beyond the base—and since they were not given enough reinforcements (and USAID had cut off funds to their Afghan partners)—the Taliban would simply “go around” the Marines when attacking the Kunar Province.

“My platoon is fucking pissed off that we gave away the initiative.” Kerr told West.

Kerr’s sentiments would be shared by the majority of American forces fighting in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the Taliban have a saying: “The Americans have all of the watches, but we have all of the time.”

Meanwhile, the Taliban have a saying: “The Americans have all of the watches, but we have all of the time.”

And that’s really the nub of the whole war, isn’t it? When the United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan following the horrific 9/11 attacks, America had the initiative. U.S. forces destroyed the Afghans’ perception that theirs was the winning side. That was an important step for us toward victory. Alas, the opportunity it created was squandered when we assumed our side was too big to fail.

When Americans look at the Taliban or al Qaeda, we see cave dwellers living in squalor compared to our high-tech military prowess. Or, as an Army Ranger friend of mine once told me, “We look like men from Mars to the Afghans.” Meanwhile, they look like the Flintstones to us.

What we fail to recognize, however, is how the enemy’s belief system empowers them to stand against America’s fearsome military might. In fact, after 17 years of fighting against an American force that—considering its capacities—has been woefully under-resourced and horribly mismanaged by ignorant politicians in Washington, the jihadists in Afghanistan have regained their former false impression of superiority over their American foes.

When perceptions change in combat; when a pre-modern band of religious zealots now disbelieves that yours is the superior fighting force, their resistance quotient increases exponentially. Under such circumstances, groups like al Qaeda and the Taliban assume that their god is truly on their side. So now, the Taliban, al Qaeda, ISIS, and others affiliated jihadists are simply running out the clock on America’s forces. Why fight America’s comparatively heavy armed military if the jihadists can just psyche out our weak political leaders from afar?

When perceptions change in combat; when a pre-modern band of religious zealots now disbelieves that yours is the superior fighting force, their resistance quotient increases exponentially. Under such circumstances, groups like al Qaeda and the Taliban assume that their god is truly on their side.

We’ve heard this tale before. During the Civil War, the Confederates became convinced that, despite the numerical superiority of the Union forces, the Union was poorly led, and that its populace had little appetite for the kind of war that the South was willing to wage.

In Vietnam, the North Vietnamese kept telling themselves that, the greater levels of casualties they inflicted, the more the Americans would cut-and-run.

During both Desert Storm and the Iraq War in 2003, Saddam Hussein genuinely believed that he could inflict enough casualties that the Americans would repeat the Vietnam withdrawal experience.

In Vietnam and in Iraq in 2003, it was not the military that handed America a defeat, but rather, it was America’s pathetic politicians who did the deed. Conversely, in the case of the Civil War, it was presidential courage that allowed for the promotion of controversial men like Generals Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman into positions of authority. These men, possessed of fierce fighting abilities, visionary leadership, and an unrelenting desire for victory are the reasons why the North ultimately defeated its wayward Southern brethren.

Sheer brutality and a clear-eyed strategy for victory—coupled with political courage from the White House—allowed heroic and brutal men to wage the only kind of war America wins: a total unrestricted war that is committed to victory.

This is precisely the kind of political courage that President Trump must display now.

For the last 17 years in Afghanistan, we’ve lacked it. America went in to fight terrorists and ended up nation-building. Clearly, something in our strategy went awry. The problem was in America’s political leadership—the “Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Party.” Possessed of crippling political correctness, our leaders negated our military’s strengths and turned our warfighters into “armed humanitarians,” because the Bipartisan Fusion Party’s political correctness made them think that victory was immoral. Coincidentally, the jihadists also believe an American victory is immoral.

Sheer brutality and a clear-eyed strategy for victory—coupled with political courage from the White House—allowed heroic and brutal men to wage the only kind of war America wins: a total unrestricted war that is committed to victory.

As former Army Intelligence Lt. Col. Ralph Peters has written over the years, the initial strategy for the United States in Afghanistan was apt. The United States was striking back at those who attacked it on September 11, 2001. Due to force limitations (and the need for a swift response), the United States could only bring a small force to bear in the initial days of the war. The Bush Administration had to rely heavily on the Central Intelligence Agency’s paramilitary arm, since the Pentagon, after years of President Bill Clinton’s short-sighted talk of a “peace dividend,” was caught flat-footed by the 9/11 attacks.

In addition to the lack of preparation on the part of the military when it came to invading Afghanistan, there were also severe logistical limitations surrounding that invasion. Not wanting to accept these challenges as insurmountable, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld rightly pushed through serious expansions and reforms of America’s Special Forces, from which we are still the beneficiaries today. So, together with the CIA, special-operations teams inserted themselves into Afghanistan.

These groups quickly enmeshed themselves with larger, anti-Taliban and anti-al Qaeda indigenous forces, such as the Northern Alliance. Using satellites to link them with American and allied airpower just over-the-horizon, America cobbled together an effective punitive expedition. This expedition punished al Qaeda and ousted the Taliban from power in record time. By 2002, the war was mostly won. America should have declared victory and gone home, leaving behind a small counterterrorism force to ensure that those busted remnants of al Qaeda and the Taliban were kept at bay.

Yet, even as the Bush Administration was beginning to focus its efforts on invading Iraq, the United States opted to remain in Afghanistan and “nation-build.” This was our greatest error of that period. In splitting America’s limited forces between “mopping up” in Afghanistan and invading Iraq, we lost the initiative. Victory was no longer the main object. More damagingly, by keeping our forces engaged in Afghanistan but woefully restrained, America’s military lost its prestige in the eyes of those it was fighting. They were hamstrung.

In splitting America’s limited forces between “mopping up” in Afghanistan and invading Iraq, we lost the initiative. Victory was no longer the main object. More damagingly, by keeping our forces engaged in Afghanistan but woefully restrained, America’s military lost its prestige in the eyes of those it was fighting. They were hamstrung.

Meanwhile, American money has created a failed central government in Afghanistan that runs on corruption and aggravates the locals. It is likely that nothing better but, instead, something worse, would have emerged in our absence. But at least then it wouldn’t have come with our apparent seal of approval and made us the object of scorn. As Peter Tomsen wrote, the key to Afghanistan is not Kabul, but the tribes. Moving forward, America’s leaders must recognize and embrace this simple fact. There is no united Afghanistan. It is nearly impossible to try to create a united Afghanistan. It likely isn’t in our strategic interests to spend the next century trying to build a unified Afghanistan, either. What’s more, history proves that invaders who have tried to dominate a united Afghanistan do not succeed.

The whiff of corruption on the part of American-backed Afghan leaders and the taint of defeat surrounding our military strategy in Afghanistan has created a toxic brew, empowering our enemies and discouraging our allies. This toxic brew has created a self-fulfilling prophecy of Afghanistan being the place where the American “empire” went to die.

This is not a tenable situation. We cannot stay and “nation-build” in Afghanistan forever—especially not with America’s own economic situation remaining so precarious. Nevertheless, we have sacrificed many of our young men and women in Afghanistan. Is it moral to negate those sacrifices by giving up on victory there, simply because it’s expensive? I don’t think so. I think we should give Secretary of Defense James Mattis one more shot to try to resolve the outcome of this war in America’s favor. We owe it to those who’ve sacrificed everything in Afghanistan.

If Mattis cannot lead us to victory, I suspect that no one can, and then America should call it quits. Giving that war one more go isn’t going to be the thing that breaks America. A defeat just might, though.

This is not a tenable situation. We cannot stay and “nation-build” in Afghanistan forever—especially not with America’s own economic situation remaining so precarious. Nevertheless, we have sacrificed many of our young men and women in Afghanistan. Is it moral to negate those sacrifices by giving up on victory there, simply because it’s expensive?

Recently, Secretary of Defense Mattis testified to Congress that America was losing in Afghanistan but that he planned on remedying this fact. Earlier this week, Mattis was given unprecedented control over the war in Afghanistan by the President. This, after an uptick in U.S. military engagements with jihadist forces in Afghanistan—notably those of ISIS. The decision to grant Mattis the kind of autonomy that every American military leader dreams of is akin to Lincoln’s decision to trust Grant. In the coming days and weeks, we will see an increase in U.S. forces in Afghanistan. But, it will be unlike anything that we’ve seen heretofore in the nearly-20-year-long war.

The military—especially the Marines—will be allowed not only to fight, but to win. What’s more, they will be granted permission to use any and all means to win. This is exemplified by the recent use of the all-powerful “Mother of All Bombs” against an ISIS-K stronghold in Afghanistan. Neither Bush nor Obama would have ever approved the use of such weapons—even against an ISIS stronghold, removed from civilian populations.

We must not forget that all warfare is ultimately political in nature—or politics by other means. Therefore, even a return to classical concepts of American warfare will be insufficient to achieve ultimate victory in Afghanistan. Thus, it is essential to recognize some key points going forward.

The decision to grant Mattis the kind of autonomy that every American military leader dreams of is akin to Lincoln’s decision to trust Grant. In the coming days and weeks, we will see an increase in U.S. forces in Afghanistan. But, it will be unlike anything that we’ve seen heretofore in the nearly-20-year-long war.

First, the revitalization of America’s military posture in Afghanistan will bust the jihadists’ perception that time is on their side. This will generate much-needed momentum for America’s forces. The momentum will prompt many fence-sitting Afghan tribal leaders to come back to America’s side.

Second, the key to victory rests in the tribes, not in Kabul.

Third, Afghanistan has become a geopolitical hot potato, with China, Russia, Pakistan, and Iran all taking greater roles in the country. By crafting policies aimed at either compelling them to assist in ending the war in America’s favor or by neutering their clients in the country, the United States can secure a geopolitical, as well as a military victory.

Fourth, since the ethno-religious tribes are the key, we will need to recognize that the Taliban will likely require negotiation, since, as Michael Scheurer points out, the Taliban is effectively a Pashtun independence movement. And, to be sure, the Pashtun are not going anywhere. But, by empowering the tribes over the central government in Kabul, we can at least mitigate the Taliban’s political reach.

Fifth, America must plan to leave counterterrorism forces behind in Afghanistan indefinitely, to ensure that it does not become a bastion of jihadism yet again.

The Trump Administration must keep this in mind and begin fashioning its diplomatic strategy to comport with what will likely be an expansion of its military policy in Afghanistan. The War in Afghanistan is totally winnable. All victory will require is for President Trump to allow for America’s fighting men and women to use every means at their disposal to accomplish their mission. Further, we need to recognize that an American victory in Afghanistan will look unlike anything we’ve experienced historically, but it will be a victory, nonetheless.

Consistent military victories will rejuvenate America’s image in Afghanistan. We will return to the status of being the stronger tribe. Once that happens, real headway can be made in ending America’s commitment there.

The Trump Administration, however, must keep the American political establishment out of the management of the campaign, and it must be willing to support the war effort in a way that neither the Bush nor Obama Administrations were willing to do. Brutality of the sort unseen in many decades will be essential to send a clear and unmistakable message to our enemies that America is playing for keeps. After all, victory goes neither to the swift nor to the strong. Instead it goes to to he that endureth.  

The Trump Administration, however, must keep the American political establishment out of the management of the campaign, and it must be willing to support the war effort in a way that neither the Bush nor Obama Administrations were willing to do.

Time will tell if President Trump has the political courage to maintain this posture in the way that Lincoln did during the Civil War. I think that Trump does. But if he does not have any intention of doing what must be done in order to have a chance at winning, then Trump should end America’s commitment immediately. There is nothing more immoral than doing what former President Obama did in Afghanistan: throw young American servicemen and women into a war, tie their hands behind their backs, all the meanwhile having no intention of winning the war you were asking them to fight. Obama, fearful of being blamed for having lost the war, fought it half-heartedly. This was worse than simply walking away.

If the war in Afghanistan is to be won, it is only the unorthodox leadership of President Trump that will deliver such a necessary victory. And, victory in Afghanistan is, above all things,  necessary.

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

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The Travel Ban Is Not About Islam, It’s About Countering Jihad

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The U.S. Supreme Court is finally set to hear arguments on President Donald J. Trump’s executive order temporarily halting travel from six countries in the Mideast and Africa. According to the Left, the order is  a “Muslim ban,” since the majority populations of each of these six countries pray toward Mecca. To the president and his supporters, the moratorium has nothing to do with religion but rather  protecting Americans from terrorism.

Today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dealt another blow to the Trump Administration with its ruling that the President overstepped his constitutional mandate by crafting a ban that had a disproportionate impact on Muslims seeking entry into the United States. Of course, the case will eventually be decided by the Supreme Court of the United States, which is waiting for a similar case in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to be resolved. Given the way that the Trump Administration has looked to the Supreme Court on this matter, and the fact that a fellow Rightist, like Neil Gorsuch, sits upon the bench, it seems likely that the Supreme Court will be allowed to have the final say on the constitutionality of the proposed “travel ban.”

Yet, neither side is being particularly honest in the debate. As both sides continue yelling past one another, the courts procrastinate, and the United States is left vulnerable.

Let’s be clear: the Left is correct in stating that the order is about Islam. Yet, the Right is also accurate in declaring that this proposed moratorium is about protecting Americans. The Trump Administration can repeat the fact that its proposed moratorium is nothing more than a rehash of what the Obama Administration did in 2014 until it’s blue in the face. But, that bromide won’t satisfy the militant Left that is feeling galvanized in the wake of the endless stream of fabricated political scandals surrounding Trump. The Left believes that Trump is Richard Nixon redux and that it’s only a matter of time before the 45th president is driven from office in disgrace. They will not be deterred by reason or facts.

Yet, neither side is being particularly honest in the debate. As both sides continue yelling past one another, the courts procrastinate, and the United States is left vulnerable.

So, if this executive order is about Islam, as well as about protecting Americans, what can be done? First, acknowledge that this is not about discriminating against Muslims on the basis of religion. The true enemy that America is currently defending itself against is not a religion so much as it is a militant political ideology that has unfortunate roots within certain strains of Islam: jihadism. Therefore, Islam does play a role, but it is radical, political Islam (of both the Sunni and Shiite variants) that threatens the United States, not the religion as a whole.

The suspicion surrounding Islam is incidental to its religious aspects, not essential. In other words, their beliefs about who God is and how to pray are of no concern to us. In fact, some academics, such as Dr. Marek Chodakiewicz of the Institute of World Politics, prefer to call jihadists “Caliphatists,” since their aims are more political than anything else. It is the political teachings of some elements of Islam that appear to be at odds with―and a threat to―our way of life, in the same way, for example, that Communism was (and is).

Second, the moratorium targets six specific countries in the Mideast and Africa. The administration is right to point out that neither the most populous Muslim country in the world, Indonesia, nor the most populous Arab state in the world, Egypt, are included in the order. This is no blanket ban on Islam.

Why? Because both are allied countries committed to resisting jihadism! Despite initial reports, Iraq ended up being taken off of the list of banned countries, because it is still technically an ally, and America has many friends among the Iraqi population seeking to flee the chaos there.

Also, Saudi Arabia, the point of origin for 15 of the 9/11 hijackers, has been left off the list. The reason for this, again, has to do with geopolitics: even though it is indisputable that large numbers of Saudis are sympathetic to jihadism, the Saudi government is most assuredly opposed to jihadism. Further, as the lead Arab and Sunni state, Saudi Arabia is heading the effort to put Iran back in its proverbial box—a critical geostrategic objective for American foreign policy in the Mideast.

After all, while I believe it is unfair to claim that Islam is inherently evil (it’s not), it is most certainly true that America’s jihadist foes today are inspired by—and live according to—the strictest interpretations of Islam imaginable. They also hail from mostly Muslim countries. By not heeding these facts, as outlined by Gorka in his book―by continuing to insist that the executive order “doesn’t have anything to do with Islam”―the Trump Administration misses the point as badly as the Obama Administration did.

Understanding the distinction between Islam and jihadism is essential for American counterterrorism policy going forward. The Trump national security team should make its counterterrorism policy hew much closer to Sebastian Gorka’s New York Times bestselling book, Defeating Jihad than it already has. If the administration did this, they would understand the distinction and move with alacrity in implementing the travel ban.

After all, while I believe it is unfair to claim that Islam is inherently evil (it’s not), it is most certainly true that America’s jihadist foes today are inspired by—and live according to—the strictest interpretations of Islam imaginable. They also hail from mostly Muslim countries. By not heeding these facts, as outlined by Gorka in his book―by continuing to insist that the executive order “doesn’t have anything to do with Islam”―the Trump Administration misses the point as badly as the Obama Administration did.

While it is almost trite to say that the jihadist violence the world has been subjected to for the last 16 years is the result of an internal struggle for control within Islam, it is true! This is a truth that has yet to be acknowledged in the form of actionable policy. Recognizing this fact (not just repeating it to sound smart on MSNBC or at a Georgetown dinner party) is essential. The threat will not go away if we ignore it. Jihadism will not be cowed into submission with “openness and love,” as so many frivolous Leftists, from Katy Perry to former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, recommend. Neither will its historical animus toward the West be ameliorated by the smooth melodies of James Taylor.

The Trump Administration should embrace the fact that this is a travel ban based on a particular interpretation of Islam. The United States is doing this not because it is Islamophobic (we have 3.3 million Muslims living in the United States today and that number is projected to double by 2050, after all). The President supports the ban because it’s a reasonable response in the face of a growing threat from a specific region. Restricting travel from places like Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Syria is based on real national security concerns.

Geopolitics also plays into this. Iran is America’s greatest state challenger in the Mideast. Yemen is now home to the worst civil war in the world today (fueled by the proxy conflict between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia). Somalia has been a source of jihadist terror since the early 1990s. Sudan is led by an Islamist government that deals with Iran. Libya has been consumed by jihadist terror. And, of course, Syria is the central theater in the war against ISIS. What do all of these countries have in common? J-I-H-A-D-I-S-T-S!

President Trump’s greatest strength during the 2016 presidential election was his uncanny ability to speak truth to power in 140 characters or less. He should continue. The president was right to tweet that this was a “TRAVEL BAN.” He should now make this case to the public every day. A majority of Americans—including Muslims—will understand what he’s saying: this isn’t Islamophobia. It’s counter-jihad. It’s not racist, either. If the proposed moratorium were either of those things it would ban travel to and from all Muslim states, irrespective of their relationship with the United States.

President Trump’s greatest strength during the 2016 presidential election was his uncanny ability to speak truth to power in 140 characters or less. He should continue. The president was right to tweet that this was a “TRAVEL BAN.” He should now make this case to the public every day.

The ban will undoubtedly impact many innocent Muslims traveling from these six countries to the United States. That is truly sad, tragic, even in some cases. Unfortunately for them, we are in a war. It is important to note that the Secretary of Homeland Security has virtually limitless discretion to determine which foreign travelers deserve exemptions to the ban. Given that President Trump has a history—both in his business and now political careers—of deferring to his subordinates on day-to-day operations of the organizations that he leads, it is totally unreasonable to believe that all Muslims―even from these countries―will be barred from traveling to the United States.

Lastly, the president does have broad authority to determine who comes into the country. Congress could back him up with critical legislation also. Alas, moral courage is in short supply these days on the Hill.

In 1924, Calvin Coolidge signed the Immigration Act. The law was aimed at slowing the spread of communism (and anarchism) into the United States from Eastern and Southern Europe which, at that time, was as threatening to the United States as jihadism is today. The law set up a quota system, limiting immigration to two percent of any nation’s residents already in the United States population as of 1890. Countries get to set the terms of their own immigration policy! Such policies should be tethered to the needs of the country, not to the desires of a utopian elite.

Scores of exemptions were made to the so-called “two percent rule,” based on education and financial status, meaning that America still took in immigrants during this period, but it was a highly selective process.

Switzerland, the country so many Europhiles on the American Left revere today, is even more harsh than America ever was when it comes to restrictive immigration policy. Indeed, today, Switzerland is raising barriers to immigration from neighboring EU countries. Of course, the outrage from the Left over Switzerland’s restrictive immigration practices has been muted, as they prefer to tout Switzerland as a model social democracy to be emulated here in the United States.

The Left is correct to concern itself with the potential of government abuse vis-à-vis President Trump’s proposed travel ban on the six Muslim states in question (a shocking turn of events, given how much the Left usually loves government action). That is why a fair waiver system through the Department of Homeland Security is essential. But this is not the 1920s, and  American society today is far less tolerant of policies that even suggest a hint of racial motives.  Innocent people will have a chance to appeal for entry into the United States from those six Muslim countries, based on their circumstances. But, the President has a constitutional and legal right to establish immigration policy aimed at protecting the national interest.

President Trump should also keep in mind that, ultimately, he does not need to respect the will of the courts on this matter. If necessary, he should implement his vital policy on national security grounds. After all, Obama did it to Iraq in 2014. Jihadism is a transnational threat that targets innocents in our country (and elsewhere).

Everyone should wake up to the fact that the United States has been engaged in an existential war with radicalized elements of Islam. These jihadists (or “Caliphatists”) will use any means at their disposal to subvert and destroy our country from within. Their goal is to inflict maximum casualties so that Americans stop resisting the jihadists’ goals of re-establishing an Islamic caliphate in the Mideast (and they wouldn’t mind seeing one here, either). The proposed travel ban is defensive in nature. It’s a proportional and reasonable policy as well.

President Trump should also keep in mind that, ultimately, he does not need to respect the will of the courts on this matter. If necessary, he should implement his vital policy on national security grounds. After all, Obama did it to Iraq in 2014. Jihadism is a transnational threat that targets innocents in our country (and elsewhere). We should not make it easy for the jihadists to do their dastardly deeds in our backyard. Although, with the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch, it appears as the High Court is likely to rule in the president’s favor (even if Justice Ginsburg refuses to recuse herself).

The travel ban is not about Islam. It’s about countering jihad. And a travel ban of the most dangerous countries where jihadism reigns is a legitimate way of countering jihad.

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

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America • Center for American Greatness • Defense of the West • Deterrence • Donald Trump • EU • Europe • Germany • Greatness Agenda • Immigration • Middle East • NATO • Religion of Peace • Russia • The ME Agenda • Trump White House

What Is NATO Good For Today?

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The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has lost its purpose. Created following the devastation of the Second World War, NATO was intended to “keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” Throughout the Cold War, NATO proved to be an effective cudgel stunting the revolutionary push of Soviet Communism into Western Europe. Yet, following the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO became a defensive alliance with no clear enemy from which to defend itself. It became listless. Even as it expanded into former Soviet-occupied states, NATO became a purposeless, multilateral, intergovernmental bureaucracy.

Charles Krauthammer recently excoriated President Donald Trump for not explicitly stating his Administration’s commitment to upholding Article V of the NATO Charter. Article V simply states that an attack on one NATO member constitutes an attack on all of NATO. Krauthammer takes the view that by publicly humiliating America’s European partners and then refusing to reaffirm America’s commitment to Article V, NATO’s deterrent capability has been weakened. In turn, Krauthammer believes that, “deterrence weakened is an invitation to instability, miscalculation, provocation and worse.”

To be fair, Krauthammer’s assessment of the delicacy of deterrence and the threat that President Trump’s statements may pose to NATO’s deterrence capacity is not necessarily wrong. Krauthammer’s assertion that “deterrence is a barely believable bluff,” however, is absurd and illustrates the moral bankruptcy of maintaining the NATO alliance as it currently exists.

Fact is, NATO’s deterrent capabilities could be very believable if fundamental changes to the structure of the alliance are made. After all, if NATO’s deterrent factor during the Cold War was “barely believable” then its deterrent factor today is totally unbelievable. Don’t take my word for it, just look at the entirety of the post-Cold War period for proof.

From the Balkans to Afghanistan; from Georgia to Ukraine, does anyone seriously buy into the notion that deterrence in Europe is still a thing? Really? In each case, the decisive factor was the presence of American forces (or the lack thereof).

Fact is, NATO’s deterrent capabilities could be very believable if fundamental changes to the structure of the alliance are made. After all, if NATO’s deterrent factor during the Cold War was “barely believable” then its deterrent factor today is totally unbelievable.

In the Balkans, it was not until the United States stepped up its military commitment that there was even any hope of resolving the seemingly intractable ethno-religious conflicts of the region. In the cases of Georgia and Ukraine, two countries who were up for NATO membership (Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014), it was the lack of American forces that permitted Russia’s military interventions there (ditto for Syria, but that’s another issue entirely). And NATO has done little to help America accomplish its mission in Afghanistan. If anything, NATO forces have hindered American forces in Afghanistan with restrictive Rules of Engagement and organization that have resulted in an inability to complete basic tasks,

The fact of the matter is that endless puffing up of our European friends is not a viable or sustainable foreign policy. It was “barely” viable during the Cold War, when most Europeans agreed (however nominally) that all were threatened by Soviet Communism. Today  no such consensus about the threat to the West exists (indeed, many even deny  that any threat exists).

For the Baltic and Nordic states of Eastern and Northern Europe, they are focused squarely on countering Russian irredentism. They care little for addressing the overwhelming (and apparently ceaseless) flow of refugees and immigrants coming into Europe from the Muslim world. Meanwhile, the Southern and Western European states wholeheartedly embrace the Russians and continue to lament their Faustian bargain of letting as many immigrants into their countries as possible (which had more to do with the economics of Western and Southern Europe than the morality of it). Frankly, the Western and Southern Europeans needed cheap labor and did not have enough native-born citizens to accomplish this goal, so they encouraged foreigners to come to Europe as workers. This is a primary reason behind Angela Merkel’s push for more refugees to come to Germany, despite the unpopularity of the decision.

Make no mistake: the old axiom that the only thing worse for American foreign policy than having NATO is not having NATO remains true today. Yet, NATO in its current form does little to further American strategic goals.


Thus, there is little consensus among Europeans about what constitutes a defense of the West. There is even less agreement on how best to counter those threats. There are only three things about which the Europeans seem to be able to reach agreement: 1) that Global Warming is the real threat to Europe; 2) that America must continue footing the bill for a relatively purposeless NATO; 3) that, whenever possible, America should always be painted as the villain in European politics.

Gee, thanks. With friends like these, right?

Make no mistake: the old axiom that the only thing worse for American foreign policy than having NATO is not having NATO remains true today. Yet, NATO in its current form does little to further American strategic goals. Apparently, NATO’s purpose is to perpetuate its own existence. A defensive alliance without an enemy to defend itself against is, by definition, a waste of resources (and could actually encourage the kind of aggression that NATO was meant to prevent). Should we discount everything the Russians have been saying about how NATO and EU “double expansion” (as the Russians call it) into their periphery has encouraged Russia to be more aggressive toward Europe? Most certainly not. Though, to be sure, Russia would always be a perpetual thorn in the West’s side simply because Russia does not share the West’s worldview.

Of course, there are real challenges that threaten both the United States and the Europeans. There is still a chance for a unity of purpose to exist between America and its European allies. Yet, that purpose is not all-encompassing and it can never be unifying on a regional level.

That’s why the United States should begin looking for new ways at the sub-regional level to further its interests. For the Eastern and Northern Europeans, who believe that Russia is their primary geostrategic threat, the United States should look at bolstering the preexisting Viségrad and Nordic Battle Groups. Together, at the sub-regional level, these two alliances can be used as the proverbial tip of the spear in stunting Russia’s push into Europe (after all, these states are on the frontline of Russian aggression).

As Angelo Codevilla wrote in 2016, Putin has been pushing up against “mostly open doors” in Europe; it would behoove the West to slam those doors shut. Since the Western and Southern Europeans disagree about the threat that Russia poses to Europe (and seem far more intent on humiliating America), the United States should simply go over their heads and stop trying to go through the NATO bureaucracy to achieve its goals of sealing Europe off to the Russians.

Writing in his recent book, “All Measures Short of War,” foreign policy expert, Thomas J. Wright, explains that, “Europe’s exposure to its southern neighborhood is, at its heart, a geopolitical problem. It is rooted in the collapse of the Middle East regional order. Russia’s intervention [in Syria] was one part of that drama. The changing stance of the United States [under Obama] in the Middle East was another.”

Wright’s statement echoes the great European historian and environmentalist, Fernand Baudel’s belief that Europe’s southern periphery ended not where the Mediterranean Sea began, but rather, where the Sahara Desert ended. Neither the United States nor Russia fully understood just how much their military interventions in the Mideast would impact Europe. For the United States, this has had a destabilizing effect on the European status quo ante that it traditionally preferred. For the Russians, as Wright explains in his book, it has been beneficial (by making Western and Southern Europeans look to Vladimir Putin as a bulwark against the rising Islamist tide in Europe).

Wright’s assessment is apt and troubling also, since both Italy and Greece, the two powerhouses of Southern Europe, are governed by Russophiles. For the Italians, they do a large portion of trade with Russia. For the Greeks, there are cultural and political affinities between themselves and Russia. Getting them to agree on a harder stance on Russia would be like pulling teeth.

Also, the Western Europeans (particularly the Germans and French) have close economic ties with Russia and favor increased migration flows into Europe from places like the Mideast, North Africa, and South Asia. Yet, these are the very same states that have been the hardest hit by jihadist terrorism in the last few years. Despite their support of immigration, the Western Europeans have started to recognize the threat and have begun calling for more stringent counterterrorism and immigration policies. So, while resisting Russian revanchism is not a priority for either the Western or Southern Europeans, they are more willing to address the issue of jihadist terror, which is a benefit for the United States.

The creation of Southern and Western European defensive blocs aimed at countering terrorism and stemming migration flows would be essential. What’s more, there is a chance to unify these two regions through France. You see, historically, France has always had influence over both Western and Southern Europe. It would not be hard to form a German-dominated Western European defensive bloc (with France as a member), and then form a French-dominated Southern European defensive bloc. This would serve two functions: It would buttress the militarily and economically weak Greece and Italy while  also curbing the growth of German power in Europe. It might also work to counter the increasing influence that Russia has over both Germany and France, by splitting the Franco-German alliance apart.

And, yes, while many ascribe the budding Franco-German alliance as a new unbreakable bond, we must remember that France and Germany have far longer histories of being competitive with one another than they do of being friendly. The deep-seated French distrust of Germany will likely become exacerbated, the stronger Germany becomes and the weaker France becomes over time. The United States should play these two forces off of each other by granting them their own sub-regional blocs to manage.

The Europeans must take the reins of their own defense. Since the disagreement over what threatens Europe is widespread, the United States should stop wasting its time and money being the “big daddy” in Europe. The children are unruly and America’s generous support makes them less inclined to take care of their own problems.

Taken together, the presence of four sub-regional defensive blocs would be far more useful for American foreign policy than continuing to support a mindless, multinational, centralized bureaucracy of the sort that exists at NATO headquarters today. Such American-backed sub-regional alliances would also be contingent on the indigenous forces not only providing for their own defense, but also, ultimately, becoming entirely self-sufficient over the next two decades. Hard power and national interests would unify these states together with America, as opposed to idealistic language and wishful thinking.

The Europeans must take the reins of their own defense. Since the disagreement over what threatens Europe is widespread, the United States should stop wasting its time and money being the “big daddy” in Europe. The children are unruly and America’s generous support makes them less inclined to take care of their own problems. It’s time for the Europeans to grow up and fully return to history. We can help them in this transition, but we will no longer shoulder the burden. Further, building up these four regional blocs while diffusing power and funds away from the bloated bureaucracy in Brussels and into the coffers of those states that will actually do what they’ve promised to do, will be far more beneficial to the United States in the long-run.

Dr. Krauthammer worried about the damage that President Trump’s remarks did to NATO’s deterrent capabilities. I, on the other hand, worry that America’s mindless commitment to propping up NATO since the fall of the Soviet Union has made Europe permanently weak and unable to defend itself. Such a weakened Europe is bad for everyone.

So, I ask you: What is NATO as currently constituted good for these days?

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

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America • American Conservatism • Americanism • Big Media • Donald Trump • Greatness Agenda • Middle East • The Culture • The Left • The ME Agenda • Trump White House

Is there Genius and Power in Covfefe?

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Here’s a bold claim: President Trump’s “covfefe” tweet was a genius move that is a very powerful demonstration of his ability to persuade. I know, I know—it sounds crazy. But hear me out; what do you have to lose? Consider this a whimsical thought experiment to counter the ill effects of consuming too much of the fake news out there.

The case for the genius and power of covfefe begins with the question of whether the tweet might be  intentional. Recent revelations―that “covfefe” might actually be a phonetic spelling of an Arabic word meaning “I will stand up” (spelled “c-o-v f-e-‘-f-e” if you use Google Translate)―suggest it might be. Of course, Arabic and English do not share a common alphabet and Arabic has many dialects, so there is a high probability of a bad translation either way.

Skeptics (and fierce anti-Trumpers) will argue that no Arabic speaker would say this strictly translates, and this may be true. But that is hardly relevant. If Trump is signaling, it probably is not to Arabic speakers writ large, in which case a version translatable by Google is sufficient even if intellectuals sneer at the linguistic prowess of “stupid” Trump supporters.

The fact remains:  Either it was intentional or it was an intensely strange and coincidental mistake.

The common interpretation appears to be that Trump, whether because of  incompetence, exhaustion, or ill-health, was trying to type the word coverage when he wrote covfefe. Even if you don’t assume Trump is a moron, this is possible as it was an early morning tweet and Trump is in his seventies. But you would have to believe that Trump missed a major typo and then tweeted an incomplete and incoherent message while passing out for some reason. And what was supposed to come after coverage? “Despite the constant media coverage…” is hardly a complete thought. He has had minor typos in his tweets in the past, but I am not aware of a major typo or an incomplete tweet like this since he revolutionized presidential communications using Twitter on the campaign trail and while in office.

 

The other possibility is that President Trump was writing “despite the negative press I will stand up” by using what he understood to be an Arabic phrase. He did just return from the Arab world, and it is possible that someone there taught him this word to encourage him to stand strong. Or perhaps someone said “I will stand up” to Trump in response to his speech in Saudi Arabia, in which he said:

If we do not stand in uniform condemnation of this killing—then not only will we be judged by our people, not only will we be judged by history, but we will be judged by God….America is prepared to stand with you — in pursuit of shared interests and common security…That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires. And it means standing together against the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews, and the slaughter of Christians. 

That he learned it incorrectly or does not understand how properly to translate it into English is still very possible—much is lost in Arabic to English translations. But wherever or however he learned the Arabic word (if, indeed, he did) the resulting tweet is far more coherent than it would be if covfefe was just a misspelling of coverage.

So which is more probable? What is the likelihood that Trump failed to finish his thought and made a major typo that just happens to 1) be so close to a translatable Arabic phrase so soon on the heels of a trip to the Arab world, 2) have meaning in the context, 3) make a useful point, and 4) be in a strategically useful language in which to communicate? Is it more probable than the idea that Trump is being a show man, innovative communicator, and intentional user of Twitter?

Both seem possible, but the latter explanation seems more likely to this observer. If you have Trump Derangement Syndrome and you’ve read this far, you will probably want to disembark from my “crazy train” at this point.

But if you are willing to consider that the tweet may be intentional, you probably want to know why the president might be doing all of this. This question was posed by Jonah Goldberg in a sneering article: “[I]it may all be trolling, but what on Earth does that get the president?” Now, if one has TDS as Goldberg does, it is hard to even get as far as thinking that it might have been intentional, so we should give him some credit.

Yet for TDS sufferers, it is still impossible, apparently, to get past the idea that such tweeting could rise above vulgar trolling (even despite how much such people are inclined to praise anti-trump trolling). Funny how that works.

The anti-Trump trolling the “covfefe” tweet elicited may be where we find the real answer to Goldberg’s larger question: Why would the President use a strange Arabic phrase to communicate something when so many people obviously don’t get it?

Consider this: In creating a vague message that can play to many different confirmation biases, Trump and Trump supporters can learn about people from the way they respond. Additionally, the response elicited from people with TDS reminds people who like Trump why it is important to stay involved.

If you hate Trump but you are willing to hide your disdain and pretend to like him for your own ends, you probably dismissed the tweet as mere stupidity or an accident. You certainly did not give it much thought, and you almost assuredly laugh at people who did. This may reveal your true bias, or it may simply indicate that you are not thinking much anymore.

In short, creating a vague message using a new word he just learned allows him and others in his camp to separate people by bias and thinking. It also may be a way to continue a campaign tactic of  motivating people by showing them how much they are hated by the establishment and how little the establishment thinks of their ability to govern themselves.

If you neither love nor hate Trump but are willing to wait and see, you might have laughed at the tweet. But if provided with a thoughtful investigation, you might consider it. And you may, in the end, still reject the idea that it was anything but a mistake. But the listening and thinking part is important. This signals to people that you are still a thinking person. You might even move toward Trump’s side of things after seeing the hate filled responses from those with TDS.

Finally, if you like Trump you probably gave him the benefit of the doubt right off the bat and tried to think through what was going on. Knowing now what covfefe might mean, you probably like it and maybe even use it, perhaps as a hashtag. Doing so serves as a signal to other people who like Trump. This can be motivating since secret messages and symbols tend to unite people and inspire them. And as said earlier, the prolific response from unthinking, hate-filled masses on the other side probably inspires you to―*ahem*―stand up yourself.

In short, creating a vague message using a new word he just learned allows him and others in his camp to separate people by bias and thinking. It also may be a way to continue a campaign tactic of  motivating people by showing them how much they are hated by the establishment and how little the establishment thinks of their ability to govern themselves.

If this is the case, some might lament that he is dividing us and this is poor statesmanship. But if his considered assessment at this point is that there is no uniting us―which is not an insane conclusion given the many months of vitriol on the Left and sneering contempt on the Right—then what is he supposed to do? At that point, winning elections is the only way to pursue the common good.

Or maybe Trump was just signaling to the person who taught him the word back in the Middle East. Perhaps he was continuing his strategic messaging to people in the Middle East that began in his speech. Maybe the tweet was originally meant for one of these two geopolitical purposes, but upon seeing the reaction, Trump adapted and decided to use it in a new way. His follow on tweet telling us to enjoy figuring out what it means and Sean Spicer’s cryptic statement to the press suggest this might be the case.

If true, it explains why Trump has left it a mystery and it may be why he took the tweet down or used a bad translation to start with. The ambiguity of it all, which exists no matter what I say here so long as Trump himself does not reveal his intentions, perpetuates the usefulness of covfefe. Those who believe have only faith to go on, so covfefe becomes a symbol of faith. Those who scoff have only bias to go on, and so scoffing signals bias. And the longer it persists, the stronger the symbol becomes and the more motivating the scoffers’ condescension is to those Trump needs to mobilize.

Others may laugh at all of this and try to shame those who consider it. But as for me, covfefe.

If and when it becomes expedient for Trump to reveal what he meant by covfefe, the tweet and covfefe will be useful in a different way. At that point, those who were so certain Trump is stupid will have egg on their faces. It won’t change much for them, for haters are going to hate. And they may not believe Trump, even then. But I imagine it will provide a surge of inspiration to those who have been loyal to him. And then covfefe, or “I will stand up,” will be a rallying cry for those who support Trump and a bitter pill for those who oppose him.

None of this would be true if Trump had simply tweeted “despite the constant negative press I will stand up” in English, for it would have been ignored and forgotten. So if all of this true, then there is a certain genius in the tweet and it might prove to be very powerful. It also might reflect that Trump realizes that we are still very much in a bare knuckle, no-holds-barred brawl and some spiritedness is necessary to keep on winning. Now is no time to rest on one’s laurels or lean on outdated ways that only ever apply to one side in the struggle.

And if not, then the tweet itself has already played out Trump’s own words. It has elicited a great deal of negative press coverage. And Trump has stood up regardless. Others may laugh at all of this and try to shame those who consider it. But as for me, covfefe.

 

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America • Defense of the West • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Middle East • Terrorism • The Left • The ME Agenda

Finally, a Real Man in the White House to Confront Challenge of Middle East Peace

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Hang onto your seats, folks. The mentally deranged Left is about to erupt yet once more in one of their echolaliac fits they call reporting. Donald Trump has called Mahmoud Abbas a liar, so here it inevitably comes: What? Unheard of! Disgraceful! Unpresidential. He’s not fit to be President! IMPEACH HIM!

Trump not only called Abbas a liar, he reportedly “screamed” at him: “You lied to me in Washington when you talked about commitment to peace, but the Israelis showed me you were personally responsible for incitement.”

Oh, my! Are we to understand that Palestinian youths are not raised in a “culture of peace” as Abbas had assured him? Trump had been willing to take Abbas at his word, but Bibi marshaled weighty evidence to the contrary: The Palestinian Authority names schools after the mass murderers of Israeli civilians. It pays a monthly pension to the families of dead and imprisoned terrorists commensurate with the amount of death and destruction they were able to inflict, calling these payments a form of social security.

As recently as March, the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Supreme Council for Youth and Sports named a youth center in the city of Jericho “Brothers of Dalal” to honor Dalal Mughrabi, a woman who participated in what came to be known as the “Coastal Massacre.” One Sabbath afternoon in 1978 she and some of her fellows hijacked a bus and took it on a killing spree, murdering 37 civilians, including 12 children, and injuring 71. Time magazine called it “the worst terrorist attack in Israel’s history.”

She was also fingered by her companions for having murdered, in cold blood, a young photographer they happened to run into that day, after first asking her for directions. The photographer, Gail Rubin, turned out to be the niece of then U.S. Senator Abraham A. Ribicoff.

Not wanting to overlook the sisters of Dalal, the PLO then named a women’s center in the village of Burqa in her honor. The center will present to Palestinian youth groups “the history of the struggle of [this] Martyr …. constitut[ing] the beginning of the launch of enrichment activities regarding the history of the Palestinian struggle.” Enrichment activities?

Undoubtedly, spurred by Trump’s unambiguous stance against terrorism, including the Palestinian variety, the Norwegians finally awoke to the fact that they’ve been sponsoring the spread of terrorism: They asked the aforementioned women’s center to return the money Norway had contributed, and also that the center remove its logo from the building. “We will not enter into any new agreements with either the Palestinian Election Commission or UN Women in Palestinian areas until satisfactory procedures are in place to ensure that nothing of this nature happens again,” announced the newly-enlightened Norwegians.

So, has Trump been good for the fight against Palestinian terrorism? Depends on whom you ask. In the past six weeks, the New York Times has published five outrageous and virulently anti-Israel op-eds in a non-stop effort to delegitimize the Jewish state and to feed the embers of anti-Semitism in America. Don’t believe me? Read the comments that follow the articles.

Not to be outdone, the Washington Post  published an insert as Section H of its Sunday newspaper devoted to the hardships imposed on the Palestinian people by Israel, especially the checkpoints intended to stop folks like Dalal Mughrabi from entering. It was like the inserts that the Russians and the Chinese pay the Post to publish about the virtues of their respective countries, except those are clearly marked as advertisements. The Palestinian insert was not so marked and was evidently a gift to them from the very wealthy Mr. Bezos.

A photo of the special section from the Washington Post.

Undoubtedly, Abbas could have been knocked over with a feather when Trump screamed at him and called him a liar. Elected in January 2005, Abbas’ term expired in January 09, yet he is still the so-called “democratically elected” President of the Palestinian National Authority. During his 12-year tenure, he’s met with a lot of American Presidents and Secretaries of State, and not a one amongst them has had the temerity to call him a liar, much less yell at him.

Oh, and when the anti-Semitic trash published by the Times and the Post bear fruit, when Jewish cemeteries are desecrated and Jewish schools and community centers threatened, it will undoubtedly be blamed on Trump, with that signature liberal logic to which we’ve become accustomed: If Donald Trump weren’t being mean to the Palestinians, we wouldn’t have to be mean to the Israelis. He makes us do it!

I haven’t seen anyone blame Trump for the Manchester massacre yet. But it’s just a matter of time.

But here’s the point: Trump is putting himself on the line as the honest broker for a peace deal. That’s not going to happen unless the Palestinian leadership abandons terrorism. Trump told it as it is. He’s doing what no one else is doing—holding Abbas accountable, and if that’s not done it’s best to walk away fast. Those who have problems with this need to explain why terrorism against Israelis doesn’t bother them.

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America • Defense of the West • EU • Europe • Hollywood • political philosophy • Religion and Society • The Constitution • The Culture • The Left • The ME Agenda • The Media

To Hell in a Handmaid’s Basket

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Unlike Norm Macdonald, I enjoyed Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.” But then again, I’m a sucker for dystopian stories. From Animal Farm, 1984, Fahrenheit 451 and Brave New World, to Kafka’s The Trial, dystopian narrative plumbs the visceral fear that individuals have in response to the rise of the modern state, especially as the balance between the individual and greater whole seems constantly to fall uncomfortably against the individual.

Regardless of the original intent of the authors or even of posthumous political interpretations, dystopian stories rarely speak to the dangers of too much freedom. Instead, they offer up warnings and admonitions about the rise of a managed society and caution against the all-too-human inclination to abuse the broad coercive power of the state even in pursuit of the noblest of stated purposes.

During Barack Obama’s tenure, the theaters were filled with Young Adult romantic dystopian fare. Between “The Hunger Games,” “Divergent,” “The Giver,” and “The Maze Runner” there was almost too much dystopia to choose from—so much that many critics complained of dystopia fatigue. Article after article proclaimed the death of the genre and pronounced its staleness. Some even argued that these stories had the “insidious” effect of creating a cynicism for the state and teaching extreme libertarianism to young and fragile minds. When Trump was elected, however, we were treated to story after story about how 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 were flying off the shelves. Dystopias were sexy again and none seems to be sexier than “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

The adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel premiered on Hulu in late April. The marketing was brilliant and, in addition to the social media conversation, ubiquitous. Billboards, cleverly playing with language, read: “We will bear no more” and “Object.” These conveyed to the prospective audience a small glimpse into the broken world that Atwood created: a world in which the United States is usurped by religious right-wing zealots (who else?) and who create a theocracy named Gilead, the defining characteristic of which is its oppression of women. Specifically, it is an oppression where an underclass of women, deemed Handmaids, are kept for reproductive purposes in response to the demographic pressures of a declining birthrate. As such, in addition to being forced into child-rearing, their clothing, movement, and morality are highly controlled and constrained. They are to wear full-length red robes with bonnets that cover their faces (different classes of women in Gilead, based on their fertility and social stature, have other uniforms) and cannot move about in public except in pairs.

What makes any dystopian novel or movie compelling is its ability to draw parallels with—and act as a cautionary tale against―current social and political trends and events. Margaret Atwood wrote The Handmaid’s Tale in direct response to a meditation on the Iranian revolution of 1979 where a society very quickly went from a relatively liberalized one with regards to women’s rights to one which demanded women be veiled and covered―with those mores policed by morality squads. Working off her knowledge of the Iranian revolution, Atwood’s novel is predicated on three things: The simultaneous and complete destruction of the executive and legislative branches of the United States government (think “Designated Survivor”), a declining birthrate, and a revolution that sweeps in to fill the power vacuum which then invalidates the entirety of the Constitution in favor of a theocratic and biblical model. In this society, women’s rights are trampled upon as these women are forced to bear children against their will.

While Atwood presents her tale as occurring in the United States, and the buzz surrounding the release of the Hulu series implies that her vision is timely for America today, in truth, the dystopia she posits has a significantly higher chance of becoming reality in Europe. After all, Europe is the place where trust in and over-reliance upon centralized power, declining birthrates, and an appeasement of an unyielding worldview―the one that actually inspired the novel―are all threatening quickly to overturn what was once the font of liberalism and birthplace of the enlightenment into a religiously dystopian and morally bankrupt society.

If anything like “The Handmaid’s Tale” were to come to the United States, it would do so after it had already swept through Europe. According to Atwood’s narrative, for The Handmaid’s Tale dystopia even to begin taking hold in the United States, the entirety of our system of government—set up specifically to check centralized power—needs to fall.

While arguments that over the past century the United States has moved ever closer towards European Style centralization are compelling, we still retain many bulwarks against centralization—not least of which is our people. European governance, conversely, is generally more centralized and, as the European Union experiment has shown, there is an ever increasing move towards greater centralization. In what began as a purely economic union, the EU has expanded into all manner of political control. No counterfactual Handmaid catastrophe need occur to create the requisite centralized political structure in Europe, it already exists. If anything, “The Handmaid’s Tale” serves as a warning to Americans infatuated with  European style, top-down governance. It speaks to the threat of over-centralization and should engender a healthy skepticism of our apparent trajectory towards an ever more powerful Administrative State.

Second, there is the question of demographics and declining birthrates. While the U.S. birthrate is not great, it is still higher than that of Europeans which has been on the decline for some time with some of the lowest birthrates in the world. But, while the birthrates in Europe are declining for Europeans, they keep growing for recent immigrants. The population is being supported by a high rate of immigrant births. Further, an aging European population with a declining birthrate and massive centralized welfare state needs workers and people to care for the elderly, so immigration policy is loosened to meet those demands. In 2015, The Guardian noted:

Record numbers of economic migrants and asylum-seekers are seeking to enter the European Union this summer and are risking their lives in the attempt. The paradox is that as police and security forces battle to keep them at bay, a demographic crisis is unfolding across the continent. Europe desperately needs more young people to run its health services, populate its rural areas and look after its elderly because, increasingly, its societies are no longer self-sustaining.

To bring the demographic issue into even clearer focus there is the issue of polygamy. Despite local laws, many of the migrants embrace polygamy. Some European countries already accept the validity of polygamous marriages performed abroad and there have been proposals, so far rejected, which toyed with the idea of legalizing polygamy on multicultural grounds. So you have a declining European population and an ever increasing population of immigrants whose marital customs, by definition, result in tremendous demographic gains. Those gains normally would be a boon to society. However, many of these immigrants bring with them mores and values that resist assimilation over time and are at odds with the liberal democratic societies that have taken them in.

This gets us to the third rail of the issue—culture itself. The disturbing fact is that a plurality of the immigrants that are filling the demographic and economic vacuum in Europe, the ones whose many children will form the basis of the centrally organized governments of Europe’s future, bring with them a fundamentalist, tribal, and religiously conservative ideology that holds in contempt the western ideals of tolerance, individual rights and respect for women. They bring with them a cultural misogyny that is inimical to most western sensibilities. Further, this culture is proving to be extremely resistant to liberalization—even (or especially) transgenerationally as the children of recent immigrants often romanticize the culture of their origins and are prime targets for radicalization in spite of secular education or upbringing. Depending on circumstances, a well considered and permissive immigration policy isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Numbers in and of themselves are not the problem. But culture does matter. If immigration is to be encouraged, it has to be accompanied by an expectation of a basic level of assimilation with regard to the fundamental mores and building blocks of the society into which the new group enters. In Europe, among the chattering and ruling classes, the desire to be culturally sensitive has deemed calls for this kind of basic assimilation bigotry and hate-speech.

Of the most wretched and evil characters in modern literature, Atwood’s Aunt Lydia places at the top. She is the apologist voice and cheerleader for the Handmaid’s dystopia. When not presiding over the “salvaging” of women—hanging them in Harvard Square (a mass execution of women in a public place . . . reminiscent of the Taliban’s soccer stadium executions), she’s busy explaining why the women’s oppression isn’t really oppression at all, but a freedom from male oppression. She argues that the new mores and constricting dress are, in fact, a form of freedom:

“Now we walk along the same street, in red pairs, and no man shouts obscenities at us, speaks to us, touches us. No one whistles.

‘There is more than one kind of freedom,’ said Aunt Lydia. ‘Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don’t underrate it.'”

Lydia argues that with the correct modification of mores and dress the oppressed women are actually freer than they were when they were always worried about the unwelcome sexual advances of men. This distorted narrative, that correct dress and behavior will lead to a freedom from assault, is currently being played out in Europe.

In response to the rapes and sexual assaults that occurred in Europe over the New Year’s celebrations and at other times, politicians, many of whom are female and self-described feminists suggested that women, the prospective and actual victims of rape, need to modify their behavior to avoid the rape. These suggested behavior modifications range from walking at arm’s length from migrants, to walking in pairs (similar to the Handmaids who were always to walk in twos), and to avoiding provocative dress. Most recently a Paris newspaper reported on areas of East Paris where women won’t walk alone for fear of being harassed and treated like prostitutes by men. One of the women interviewed states:

There are insults, incessant remarks. The atmosphere is agonizing, to the point of having to modify our movements and our clothes. Some even gave up going out. 

What we’re starting to see in Europe is Lydia’s the notion of Freedom From. If a woman wants freedom from assault in today’s Europe she is being told by her female feminist leaders that she must act and dress a certain way.

In Europe, we are actually seeing a fairly accelerated move towards the society posited by Atwood, one where a centralized state with fundamentalist and apologist leadership uses the power of the state to control women’s behavior, all due to a declining birthrate. Like Cassandra, the red-robed oppressed of “The Handmaid’s Tale” warn of impending doom, but it seems, as is always the tragic case—no one wants to listen honestly. Yes, Atwood’s novel was prescient and is timely—but not necessarily in the way that most American media has painted it out to be.

 

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2016 Election • America • Deterrence • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Greatness Agenda • Terrorism • The ME Agenda • Trump White House

The Folly of Military Intervention Without Public Support

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Whether he entirely meant them to be or not, the essential tenets of Donald Trump’s successful run for the presidency were the winning issues of securing our border, restricting immigration, promoting fair trade, and limited foreign intervention. They have become known among a certain class of core supporters as ‘Trumpism.’ Those of us who were inspired by Trumpism worked worked so passionately for Trump’s election not because we were necessarily fans of the man himself, but rather because he represented the best chance of implementing what we believe are the key measures necessary to save our nation from ruin.

We are now four months in and, depending on one’s perspective, Trump is  either keeping his campaign promises (or, at least, is working towards them in a positive manner), or he’s betrayed his base entirely and is now a tool of the globalists.

Conservative pundit Ann Coulter, a long-time Trump supporter who wrote the book “In Trump We Trust,” is gradually moving toward the latter camp. In a recent interview with The Daily Caller, Coulter says she is still hopeful, but “things don’t look good” at this point. “I got to tell you when I wrote ‘Adios America,’ I thought there was a ten percent chance of saving the country,” Coulter said. “On the evening of November 8, I thought, ‘Wow, we have a 90 percent chance now. This is a chance that comes along once every thousand years. We can save America now.'”

Coulter is now noncommittally “someplace between ten percent and 90 percent” on whether or not we can save the country.

Perspective is a funny thing. Especially if you supported Trump from the beginning, it’s easy to close your eyes and imagine what life would be like now with Hillary Clinton as president, then watch all your criticisms of Trump miraculously melt away―at least for the moment. But we also must remember that the iron will likely never be as hot as it is now to move on the issues that won Trump the presidency.

 

But lately, what with Trump’s Syria missile strike, the MOAB drop on an ISIS tunnel system in Afghanistan and even General Mattis’s plan to send several thousand more troops to that failed nation, the issue of foreign intervention has again risen to the forefront. Trump’s strongest supporters seem nervous and ask:  What happened to non-interventionist Trump? Is Kushner pulling the strings now? Have the ‘globalists’ finally blackmailed him? Or is it possible that Trump is playing chess while his enemies play checkers, nibbling at the edges of war without actually taking the poisonous bite? Is he just doing what is necessary to engender fear and respect for the United States again around the globe?

Bush never made a compelling case for the war in Iraq. Trump should remember that if he feels compelled to engage abroad. It turned out that the sense of the American people on this mattered more than that of Bush and his experts. It is unlikely to be different for Trump.

Of all the things Obama got wrong, he did at least read the mood of the American people right by generally staying out of direct foreign military engagements.

Americans who remember history, and granted there are precious few of them these days, are not wrong to be nervous. It was barely a decade ago that George W. Bush lost both Houses of Congress essentially because he got America involved in a war that lost its meaning and one for which her people lost patience for waging.

What have we accomplished after over a trillion dollars and 4,500 American lives? Is Iraq truly better off than she was when Saddam Hussein held power? Is America better off without her blood and treasure and with exponentially more enemies abroad?

Bush never made a compelling case for the war in Iraq. Trump should remember that if he feels compelled to engage abroad. It turned out that the sense of the American people on this mattered more than that of Bush and his experts. It is unlikely to be different for Trump.

Of all the things Obama got wrong, he did at least read the mood of the American people right by generally staying out of direct foreign military engagements. The exceptions, like “regime change” in Libya, turned out to be disastrous not only for the Americans who lost their lives for nothing, but also for those countries and the surrounding nations, particularly Europe, now overwhelmed by the refugee crisis created at least in part by our meddling.

And with neocons like Lindsey Graham and John McCain, who always seem bloodthirsty for another military intervention somewhere (anywhere!), tickling Trump’s ears with praise every time he lets slip the dogs of war, are there enough people around Trump to remind him that these things never end well?

What exactly is our vital national security interest in Syria? Is it simply to see Russia foiled? And if so, why? Is it to stop the refugee crisis? Because if so, toppling Bashar al-Assad certainly will NOT accomplish this and, since chaos always erupts in a power vacuum, may in fact accomplish quite the opposite. And in Muslim countries, as has been proven time and time again, the forces that fill that vacuum are always far worse than what we destroyed to create it. Would even the most strident neocon argue that Saddam Hussein or Muammar Gaddafi was worse than ISIS is now?

Which brings us to American troop levels in Afghanistan and the rumor that 3,000 to 5,000 more could be added to their number. While certainly nowhere near what they were a decade ago when upwards of 100,000 U.S. troops combed the deserts, the increase stokes the fear of those worried about a repeat engagement. Osama bin Laden is dead, so why are we still in Afghanistan? What vital American interest lies there? Have not the Afghan warlords grown rich enough from American largesse? Trump needs to explain.

It would be one thing if we were “taking the oil” or other resources from these places, as candidate-Trump said time and time again. But instead, we’re presumably trying to create ex nihilo the stability that is the basis of civilization. But that can only come from within.

In a recent Tucker Carlson Tonight appearance, Blackwater founder Eric Prince had an entirely different approach to America’s seemingly endless war, an “East India Company model.”

So, we’re spending as, as a country, $42 billion there this year. There’s 8,000 troops, three quarters of them never actually leave the base. If you look back in history, the way the English operated in India for 250 years, they had an army that was largely run by companies, and no English soldiers. So, very cheap, very low cost, very simple, very adaptable … We’ve fought for the last fifteen years with the First Infantry Division model, now we should fight with an East India Company model and do it much cheaper. There’s a trillion dollars of value in the ground…mining…minerals. And another trillion of oil and gas, and that’s the U.S. Geological Survey estimates, but yet, you don’t have a mining law and Afghanistan.

If the American people insist on having some presence overseas, perhaps this would be the way to go about it. Because like it or not and as much as President Trump is trying to change it, America is going broke and can no longer afford unprofitable overseas adventures. Let’s make it profitable, or let’s get the hell out

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America • American Conservatism • Conservatives • Defense of the West • Donald Trump • EU • Europe • Immigration • Middle East • Religion of Peace • Terrorism • The ME Agenda • Trump White House

The “If Only” Brigade

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We hear it every day, across all media all the time, including at FOX News.

“ If only Europeans were as welcoming as Americans there would be no terror problem in Europe. If only European countries could assimilate their immigrants as well as America there would be no terror in Europe.”

As recently as Wednesday, May 24, referring to the Manchester attack, former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen claimed that Europeans don’t allow for assimilation, that European immigrants suffer from alienation. These assertions have been left unchallenged for so long they’ve taken on a mantra of truth. Not only is it not true; it’s a dangerous falsehood.

Too many members of the American elite suffer from a kind of parochial isolation, sharing Voltaire’s Panglossian assumption that “this is the best of all possible worlds;” that nobody does it better than us.

While it’s indisputable that countries in the Western Hemisphere are by definition populated by the descendants of settlers, colonists and immigrants―people in Europe were not just standing still while this was happening. The past couple of centuries has seen limited but continuous migration from country to country within the European continent. More recently, in the Twentieth Century, the former colonial powers received migrants from their former colonies.

The sobering truth is that despite modern Europeans bending over backwards to facilitate the assimilation of newly arrived immigrants, one group and only one group resists assimilation―actively, strenuously, emphatically resists it. This is true whether their destination is France, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Holland, Sweden, Belgium, Germany or, indeed, anywhere else. This is what Thiessen and nearly everyone else in the media won’t admit.

Anyone who’s lived in France for longer than a tourist trip will know that it is commonplace to meet French citizens who trace their ancestors back to Italy, Russia, Germany, Holland, Greece, Spain, Hungary, Poland; indeed to almost every country in Europe. This doesn’t imply that the overwhelming core of the French people do not trace their ancestry back to Vercingetorix and Clovis. It merely acknowledges that generations of immigrants have perfectly assimilated into a shared French identity, much in the same way that waves of immigrants to North America perfectly assimilated into the countries of Canada and the USA.

E Pluribus Unum may be printed on our currency and engraved on the faces of our public buildings, but is not all that unique after all. Even modern Russia is comprised of many nationalities that today adhere to a common national identity.

So when Marc Thiessen confidently states that European countries cannot assimilate their immigrants, what is he talking about?

Obviously not about immigrants who migrated from neighboring European countries.

Nor about immigrants from the Caribbean (such as Jamaicans and Virgin islanders in the United Kingdom).

Nor about the immigrants from the Far East (such as Vietnamese and Cambodians in France).

Nor about immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa (such as Senegalese and the Ivory Coast in France).

All of these immigrants have, by and large assimilated to their host countries.

None of these people are strapping bombs onto themselves, shooting up theaters, murdering journalists, attacking train passengers, decapitating priests, stabbing pedestrians, running over holiday-goers with trucks, blowing planes out of the sky or as entire communities remaining apart from the main culture and society of their adopted countries.

They may retain certain sartorial customs and frequent ethnic restaurants, but in a word, they have assimilated. They have fully joined in the social fabric of their new countries, participate in its economy and culture and defend its people and values. Sound familiar?

The sobering truth is that despite modern Europeans bending over backwards to facilitate the assimilation of newly arrived immigrants, one group and only one group resists assimilation―actively, strenuously, emphatically resists it. This is true whether their destination is France, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Holland, Sweden, Belgium, Germany or, indeed, anywhere else. This is what Thiessen and nearly everyone else in the media won’t admit. It’s not a fault of European immigration policies when people of every ethnic, religious and racial identity manage to assimilate to European societies save one.

The danger for us then, here in America, is to think we can do it better, or differently. We, just like the Europeans, look back to our successful past. Each and every immigrant group from where-so-ever they came has assimilated into the fabric of American life and lived, as we are fond of saying, “the American dream.”  

Our arrogant elite, clinging to their Panglossian fantasy really believe that we can do it better―that those people who have never assimilated anywhere to any alien culture will, because they are drinking in the air of North America instead of the air of Europe, behave differently. But, will they?

The two World Trade Center attacks, the Boston Marathon bombing, the Fort Hood massacre, the Chattanooga murders, the San Bernardino massacre, the Orlando massacre, the Minnesota Mall stabbing, the Ottawa terrorist, the Anwar al Awlaki jihadist recruitment videos, the Chelsea bomber (not to mention the many thwarted attacks) argue otherwise.

It can’t be stated enough. Immigration is not synonymous with colonization. In the former model, migrants assimilate to the host country. In the second model, they replace it. Of course, short of an armed invasion this replacement does not happen overnight. But, as we are seeing all across Europe, it does happen. Once a critical demographic mass is achieved, it’s irreversible.

So, instead of all the happy talk and smiley faces about how different and how much better it’s going to be here; perhaps Thiessen and his media flock will think twice before glibly offering up the American people and their country as guinea pigs in yet another risky experiment in social engineering and wishful thinking.

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Deterrence • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Greatness Agenda • Middle East • Religion of Peace • Terrorism • The ME Agenda • Trump White House

Deterrence, Multilateralism, and Trade Are Trump’s Solution for the Mideast

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President Donald J. Trump’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia stands in stark contrast with  Barack Obama’s first visit to the kingdom in 2009. Indeed, Trump’s entire presidency can be taken as a sharp rebuke to the failures of the Obama Administration. And yet, while Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia when contrasted with Obama’s could be called triumphal—even as it was still respectful—the real contrast is between Trump’s Saudi Arabia address and Obama’s infamous Cairo speech.

It goes almost without saying that President Obama inherited a messy set of foreign policy crises from his predecessor, George W. Bush. In this, he has something in common with President Trump, who now inherits an even bigger mess from Obama. But while Trump and Obama similarly campaigned against the neoconservative foreign policy of the Bush Administration, only Trump seems to demonstrate an awareness of what will be required to correct it successfully. Both Obama and Trump concluded that a reset was needed in America’s interactions with the world (especially in the Mideast, where so much damage had been done), but Obama’s ideas about reset were a mirage based on a flawed understanding of reality and his personal ability to affect it.

When Obama took to the stage in Cairo, he encouraged the worst elements of Egyptian society (and of the entire Arab world) to revolt against the existing political systems in the region, while simultaneously signaling the United States was abandoning the Mideast (thereby creating a power vacuum that America’s Islamist adversaries quickly filled.). Whether Obama intended to give dialectical credence to the revolutionary agitations that ripped the Arab world apart during his presidency or not, that is precisely the effect his words in Cairo—and his subsequent actions in the region—had.

In other words, Trump seeks to reduce existing conflicts to more manageable levels and to prevent future conflicts by establishing a working, pro-United States framework among key actors in the region. Rather than expecting regional actors to join us based on “shared values,” this new framework would be based entirely on mutual strategic interests.

After eight years of this failed policy in the Middle East, Donald Trump ascended to the presidency and appears to have threaded the needle of avoiding the excessive pitfalls of the Bush Doctrine, as well as the failures of the ambivalent Obama Doctrine. Trump’s policy differs from these two extremes in two critical ways: 1) he understands that the United States needs to defeat jihadist terror networks in the region and 2) he understands that the United States cannot ignore the growing Iranian threat any longer. Unlike the Bush and Obama “solutions” to the region, the overall aim of the Trump Administration in the Mideast appears to be the very realistic goal of conflict mitigation through multilateral alliance, deterrence, and trade.

In other words, Trump seeks to reduce existing conflicts to more manageable levels and to prevent future conflicts by establishing a working, pro-United States framework among key actors in the region. Rather than expecting regional actors to join us based on “shared values,” this new framework would be based entirely on mutual strategic interests. This new strategy preserves America’s vaunted position in the Mideast by having local actors do the heavy-lifting—according to the realities on the ground.

When President Trump arrived in Saudi Arabia, one of the first things he did was to announce an historic arms deal between U.S. defense contractors and the Saudi Arabian military. Another critical announcement was the opening of a major counterterrorism center in Riyadh, the Saudi capital. This center is to be the hub in the United States’ and Saudi governments’ fight against radical Islamic terrorism—a fight that Saudi Arabia clearly wishes to wage. While we can never forget that Saudi Arabia is a source of much of the Wahhabī and Salafi violent extremism that we face in the world today (groups such as al Qaeda and ISIS fall under this category), we must also acknowledge that Saudi support for these groups is limited to a handful of disparate actors in the religious and political community there (and likely not the result of official Saudi policy).

Indeed, the schizophrenic relationship between the Saudi government and terrorism is a simple fact of life in that part of the world; Saudi Arabia is not the only country in the Mideast that must contend with having powerful elements within its society whose loyalties are divided. The fact remains that much of Saudi Arabia is steadfastly behind the West in its fight against terrorism. More important, Saudi Arabia and the Sunni kingdoms are equally united in their opposition to the recent growth of influence that Iran has enjoyed.

For the simple cost of a phone call to Lockheed Martin’s CEO, Trump showed immense goodwill toward the Saudis by pushing through a major discount for the Saudis on the THAAD system that Lockheed otherwise would not have granted them. With this act, Trump reaffirmed his image in the region as a man who can get things done fast (that kind of an image is important to leaders in the region).

Unlike his predecessors, the president also refused publicly to chide the Saudis for their various human rights violations. Again, while we should not ignore the human rights abuses that occur (and our emissaries should not stop bringing them up in private), we must accept that there are certain countries whose loyalty we must have—and those countries have little use for Western morality. They are not Western countries and our insistence on holding them accountable to Western standards they show no desire or inclination to adopt is absurd.

America has tried imperiousness in the Mideast under Bush. It made the situation worse. We then tried to take a hands-off approach and create a faux balance of power between a nuclear-armed Iran, the Sunni states, and Israel. That only made the situation intolerable. Trump’s solution is based on realpolitik and it helps to resolve the problems in the region without making America directly responsible (and without allowing for the proliferation of nuclear arms to terrorist-supporting states).

By focusing purely on shared national interests, President Trump has overcome what has been a major impediment to U.S. foreign policy in the Mideast: Arab parochialism.

Trump’s apparent policy of conflict mitigation through alliance-building, deterrence, and trade is actually shrewd. In fact, these are the staples of American foreign policy that have been ignored for too long.

When analyzing the Mideast, one must always remember that the countries there care little for anything other than their strict national interests. They care little for calls about global security, they worry less about how they’re viewed in the international press. What’s important to them is how their neighbors view them and preserving their little piece of sand in that part of the world.

By focusing purely on shared national interests, President Trump has overcome what has been a major impediment to U.S. foreign policy in the Mideast: Arab parochialism. He will next have to address Israeli suspicions about Arab intentions—a messy, though entirely surmountable task (particularly with the twin threats of Iran and jihadist terror hanging over Israel as much as they hang over the Arab world).

One thing is certain, though, Trump is revitalizing classic American concepts of foreign policy and national security. And we are all far safer today as a result.

 

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2016 Election • Administrative State • America • Deep State • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Greatness Agenda • Intelligence Community • Middle East • Russia • Terrorism • The Left • The Leviathian State • The ME Agenda • The Media • Trump White House

Russia Story Shows How the Media Killed Journalism

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On the heels of a particularly contentious week in politics, the president has fired his quixotic FBI Director, James Comey. He explains that it’s because Comey was a terrible leader of the FBI (he was), but the media insists that it was because Comey was closing in on the “truth” of Trump’s collusion with Russia to steal the election from poor old Hillary. For their part, the Democratic Party seems content to perpetuate this narrative, since it exonerates the DNC of having been mostly responsible for its own defeat (they could have had the candidate that their base wanted, but the DNC leadership chose to rig the election in favor of the oligarchy’s choice, Hillary).

Meanwhile, the Democrats rushed to the defense of James Comey, a man they had condemned as being a profligate Trump puppet just two weeks prior to the firing. In fact, several prominent Democrats were angrily calling for Comey’s dismissal and for him to be brought to testify on Capitol Hill for pre-election shenanigans. Now the Democrats wish Comey was still FBI Director!

After Comey’s dismissal, the president and his senior national security aides met with a Russian delegation led by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak. Smarting over the way the media was misrepresenting both Trump (and his election win as the product of a Russian dezinformatsiya operation), the president disinvited Western media sources from covering the event. Instead, the Trump Administration allowed for only Russian news services to cover the meeting with the Russians. While this was an understandable rebuke to the partisan legacy media, it was a mistake on the part of the Trump Administration. The image of Russian state-owned media having access to the White House, the president, and senior national security officials only played into the media narrative about Trump’s illicit Russian connections.

Without missing a beat, the mainstream press—the Washington Post, in this case—descended upon the story like a pack of rabid hyenas; desperately cackling and clawing over each other as they sought to get the first shreds of meat from Trump’s political carcass. The only problem was that Trump wasn’t dead politically. In fact, he was still running circles around the press, as evidenced by his phenomenal speech at Liberty University. But, not to worry! If the legacy media can’t dazzle John Q. Public with its brilliance, it will baffle the voters with its B.S.

Without missing a beat, the mainstream press—the Washington Post, in this case—descended upon the story like a pack of rabid hyenas; desperately cackling and clawing over each other as they sought to get the first shreds of meat from Trump’s political carcass. The only problem was that Trump wasn’t dead politically.

The Washington Post ran a story claiming that “several unnamed sources” heard the president sharing classified information with the Russian delegation. According to these reports, the president told the Russians about an ISIS threat to use laptops as weapons on international flights (which likely explains why the Trump Administration enacted bans on the usage of laptops in-flight on several overseas flights). It caused quite the uproar. Indeed, like so many fake news stories about the president, it was the number one trending topic on social media the day that the story broke.

The United States has several intelligence-sharing programs with a litany of other countries around the world. Many of the countries sharing intelligence with the United States do so secretly, not only to protect critical sources and methods, but also because their populations are largely anti-American. If it were discovered that these governments were sharing intelligence with the United States, there would be serious political ramifications, and the intelligence-sharing with U.S. intelligence agencies would be discontinued. This would be a hugely negative outcome for America’s national security.

In fact, according to these reports, the intelligence that the president shared with the Russians explicitly was forbidden to be shared with any group outside of U.S. intelligence by the country that initially generated the intelligence report. From the sounds of it, an unnamed foreign state has human sources embedded within ISIS, informing on key activities of the group. This information, then, is to be jealously guarded, out of fear that those human assets would be discovered by ISIS and killed, thereby removing a critical fountain of information. The media has reacted as though this were the greatest breach of U.S. secrecy since Robert Hanssen. And, to be fair, this would have been a severe breach of vital U.S. intelligence sources and methods.

If only it were true.

That’s right, ladies-and-gentlemen: the story that the Washington Post ran was Fake News (or, at the very least, grossly exaggerated). Yet, the meeting was attended by senior American national security officials. All of them categorically denied the validity of the story. What’s more, a diverse set of actors from within the Trump Administration—from H.R. McMaster to Dina Powell to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson—have insisted publicly that the story is demonstrably false.

Who are we to believe, the Washington Post’s “unnamed sources” or the actual people at the meeting? Keep in mind that only a few people were at the meeting, so unless someone was eavesdropping from outside, the only people who were there, deny that such an exchange between the president and the Russians ever occurred! And they say we on the Right are conspiracy theorists?

Just use logic to disprove it. How many stories have flooded out from the press indicating that National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster is at odds with the president? That he is the only one to be trusted in the Administration? Or that Dina Powell is a covert Hillary supporter out to make the Trump Administration look more like a Democratic-Globalist endeavor and move it away from any appearance of a nationalist or a populist t uprising? Yet, the one thing they all agree on was that the leak of covert intelligence did not happen. Trust me, if this story had any truth to it, these purported “Never Trumpers” would not have challenged the veracity of the story.

Here’s McMaster’s emphatic statement on the matter (you can almost see him trying not to laugh at the stupidity of the media):

The Lawfare Blog is skeptical of McMaster’s claims. “Not all Top Secret information is created equal,” they say. The “carefully worded” statement made by McMaster implies that some classified information must have been discussed. That isn’t what McMaster said at all. But even if true, sharing classified information with foreign actors, even the Russians, is not without precedent, especially when it comes to terrorism.

Further, the U.S. president has broad authority to disclose classified information to whomever he wishes. And, there have been many times U.S. presidents have shared classified information with foreign actors for the sake of larger geopolitical interests. Remember, for most of the post-Cold War period, the United States and Russia actually did share intelligence on several issues, notably relating to terrorism!

Think about this: in the event that there is a U.S. ally with human assets embedded within ISIS, feeding us intelligence, it is likely that the Washington Post is the one who has jeopardized the lives of those assets with this fake news story.

Now, like many commentators, I am dubious of Russia’s intentions. They are not our friends, no matter how many Paleoconservatives may wish it to be so. Further, the Putin Regime in Russia has clearly made a strategic calculation that Russia’s biggest threat overseas is not terrorism, but rather the U.S. global hegemony. So, yes, if classified information was passed on to the Russians, we should be uncomfortable. But, no, it isn’t necessarily even controversial that certain intelligence information might have been shared. What’s more, as McMaster emphatically states, the proprietary intelligence potentially acquired by a friendly state was not shared with the Russians. Though the media itself seems to have no compunction about what its talk may do to this intelligence.

Think about this: in the event that there is a U.S. ally with human assets embedded within ISIS, feeding us intelligence, it is likely that the Washington Post is the one who has jeopardized the lives of those assets with this fake news story. Let’s hope that the entire story is fake. Something I’ve noticed about the media’s lies, however, is that they take a smidgen of truth and surround it by a thick wall of lies.

It might very well be true that the West has agents in ISIS. It is not true that Trump shared anything of that sort with the Russians. But, ISIS may now suspect that there are foreign agents in their midst and take steps to remove that threat. More damagingly, the unnamed foreign state sharing intelligence with the U.S. will be less inclined to do so in the future, out of fear of being betrayed. Even if there are no human assets deep undercover in ISIS, this story may pique ISIS’ paranoia, prompting ISIS elements under covert U.S. surveillance to suddenly change their routines, and thereby complicate Western attempts to track them.

Speaking about media lies earlier this year, I wrote that, “When Trump or his surrogates misspeak, they cause confusion. [The media is] there to correct them. But when the media gets it wrong, people’s lives are ruined.” I should have added, when the media lies, people can die.

I wish I could say with certainty that either McMaster was right or the media was right. But the  media has destroyed its credibility with constant misrepresentations and overtly partisan attacks too many times. The media has moved away from speaking truth to power. We are now in a bizarre position where we must either choose to accept the words of those in power or to accept the claims of those who wish they were in power.

The media has destroyed journalism and replaced it with Leftist partisan hackery. We are all now paying the price for this fact, by losing basic trust in once respected institutions.

 

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Asia • China • Defense of the West • Deterrence • Foreign Policy • History • Intelligence Community • Middle East • Terrorism • The ME Agenda

The Bin Laden Raid: Tactical Brilliance, Strategic Dissonance

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On May 11, 2011, the Obama Administration authorized the U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six to conduct a daring raid into the heart of Pakistan. Abbottabad, Pakistan is the home of the Pakistan military’s most prestigious academy. It also has a very posh VIP section of town where there are very large, private compounds. In one such compound resided al Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden. When U.S. intelligence analysts figured out that Bin Laden was living in this isolated compound, they put together a daring plan of attack.

Operation Neptune Spear, the codename for the raid that ultimately killed Bin Laden, was daring on two counts: it sent highly trained U.S. military commandos into the heart of Pakistan and it utilized highly advanced and covert stealth helicopters to transport those SEALs into battle. The raid was an unmitigated tactical success: no American lives were lost, some valuable intelligence was gleaned, and Osama Bin Laden was brought to justice. Everyone in America rightly celebrated this instance of delayed justice.

However, six years later, it is time to take a more critical assessment of the historic raid. We must ask ourselves: was the raid, as it was conducted, worth it? As you will see, on a long-term, strategic level, Neptune Spear was a borderline failure.

Indeed, Neptune Spear was hotly debated within the Obama foreign policy team. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates preferred a simple drone strike against the compound, for maximum plausible deniability. This would have been the most efficient use of U.S. military power. It also would have allowed the Pakistani government the ability to downplay the attack, as they do routinely with U.S. drone strikes in their territory. However, the raid was decided upon for what I believe to have been domestic political reasons. After all, there was a contentious presidential election looming in 2012. President Obama needed every advantage he could get. By conducting the daring raid instead of simply bombing the compound, Obama’s reelection campaign could declare, “Bin Laden is dead and GM is alive” with certainty.

The U.S. strike force utilized experimental stealth helicopters to avoid detection from Pakistan’s air defenses. Unfortunately, one of the two experimental helicopters crashed as it hovered over the compound. The SEALs had to act quickly to destroy the helicopter’s remains as best they could. As with all of their endeavors, the SEALs acted with brilliant professionalism. Through no fault of theirs, the helicopter was not fully destroyed. In fact, the helicopter’s tail section was mostly preserved. That section was left at the compound for the Pakistani authorities to find.

The Pakistanis were deeply humiliated by the raid. Whether they knew Bin Laden was living in Abbottabad or not is irrelevant. Fact is, the flagrant violation of Pakistani sovereignty placed the Pakistani government in an impossible position: ignore the U.S. attack, or cave into anti-American pressure from their radicalized population. They had to straddle a middle ground in order to avoid encouraging their radicalized population (and to keep their military from launching a coup against the civilian authorities). Ergo, in their humiliation; in their desire to placate their virulently anti-American, Islamist-sympathizing population, the Pakistani government collected whatever they could from Bin Laden’s compound—including the wreckage of the stealth helicopter. Pakistan opted to retaliate against America in the geopolitical realm.

Through no fault of theirs, the helicopter was not fully destroyed. In fact, the helicopter’s tail section was mostly preserved. That section was left at the compound for the Pakistani authorities to find.

Pakistan has been growing close with the People’s Republic of China for years. Both Pakistan and China are threatened by India’s rise. The U.S. and India have been growing closer together, as both India and the U.S. share common political systems and are both threatened by Islamic fundamentalism (as well as China’s rise). Meanwhile, Pakistan’s schizophrenic stance on the Global War on Terror has angered their U.S. partners over the years. Pakistan needs China to prevent it from being isolated by America and India on the world stage.

The Bin Laden Raid was the straw that broke the camel’s back for U.S.-Pakistani relations. Knowing that China constantly sought out access to advanced American technology—particularly military technology—Pakistan invited a team of Chinese military leaders to study the captured section of the American stealth helicopter. Due to this act, the Chinese have likely been given critical insight into a new and important U.S. helicopter that many considered to be the future of Special Operations warfare. Think about it: the ability to covertly transport Special Forces teams into hotly contested combat zones confers great power onto the already-powerful United States. China wants not only to neuter that ability, but also to possess a similar capability. By showing the Chinese the wreckage of the American helicopter, then, the Pakistanis have helped China greatly in this regard.

Pakistan invited a team of Chinese military leaders to study the captured section of the American stealth helicopter. Due to this act, the Chinese have likely been given critical insight into a new and important U.S. helicopter that many considered to be the future of Special Operations warfare.

Meanwhile, the diplomatic fallout was temporary, but critical. Despite the painful duplicity of the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, and the schizophrenic nature in which the Pakistanis conducted the Global War on Terror, Pakistan’s counterterrorism efforts are essential in the fight against al Qaeda. Pakistan, like Saudi Arabia, is a troublesome partner. Vast swathes of the Pakistanis are, at the very least, sympathetic to the jihadists that the U.S. are fighting.

However, in order to stabilize Afghanistan, the United States must conduct operations against Taliban and al Qaeda elements who have taken refuge across the border in the untamed regions of the Pakistani frontier. Pakistan has allowed U.S. forces to conduct limited drone strikes there for years. After the raid, critical drone operations were halted, creating a strategic gap in the Obama Administration’s War on Terror. It should be noted that Pakistan ultimately allowed for the drone missions to resume, but they exacted heavy diplomatic costs from America.

Following the raid, the Obama Administration was desperate to tout its foreign policy success in the run up to the 2012 Presidential election. In the process of this incessant backslapping, critical sources and methods were revealed to the press. Due to this, heroic Pakistanis who risked everything to ensure Bin Laden’s location was forwarded to the United States were inadvertently revealed to the vengeful Pakistani authorities. These brave souls now languish hopelessly in a horrific Pakistani prison.

The Obama Administration’s loose lips sent a signal to anyone seeking to help the United States: you will be exposed and possibly arrested or killed for your trouble. Further, it added to the animosity felt by Pakistanis for the United States, as we sought the release of those Pakistanis who facilitated the U.S. raid in Abbottabad.

Following the raid, the Obama Administration was desperate to tout its foreign policy success in the run up to the 2012 Presidential election. In the process of this incessant backslapping, critical sources and methods were revealed to the press. Due to this, heroic Pakistanis who risked everything to ensure Bin Laden’s location was forwarded to the United States were inadvertently revealed to the vengeful Pakistani authorities.

Due to this, U.S.-Pakistani relations have been incredibly strained. While the Pakistani government continues to do business with the United States (they need U.S. military support desperately), the Pakistani people (and elements of Pakistan’s intelligence service) are increasingly hostile toward the United States. It is likely that U.S.-Pakistani relations will never be rehabilitated. This is unfortunate, especially considering that U.S.-Pakistani relations were on the mend up until the Abbottabad Raid.

As the 2012 GOP Presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, rightly pointed out: the Bin Laden Raid did little in the way of ending the Global War on Terror. In fact, it effectively cleared the decks in the jihadist community. It allowed the Taliban to distance itself from al Qaeda politically. The move also allowed for other jihadist groups, such as ISIS, to rise to prominence, spreading their particularly pernicious brand of terror across the globe.

We should honor our brave SEALs, who entered into the fray to bring to justice the murderer of thousands of innocents. At the same time, however, we should place the raid in its proper historical context. The raid was a stroke of genius at the tactical level. Yet, unfortunately, it made little strategic sense, in the long-run. America’s long-term strategic interests rest in keeping its military secrets away from China, maintaining cordial relations with unstable Pakistan, and ensuring that those who stick their necks out for the United States are protected. For, if America will not protect those who risk life and limb to help us, then others around the world will be less inclined to assist us in the future.

The Bin Laden Raid worsened America’s strategic position on all three counts. That is the true legacy of the Obama Administration’s Raid in Abbottabad. We must never forget this sad fact. And we must never lose sight of American strategic interests again. The costs are too high.

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America • Defense of the West • Deterrence • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Section 1 • Section 2 • Terrorism • The ME Agenda • Trump White House

MOAB Makes Foreign Adventurism Less Likely Because Less Necessary

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On Thursday, U.S. forces detonated the most powerful conventional weapon in the U.S. arsenal, the Massive Ordnance Air-burst Bomb or MOAB, against an ISIS tunnel complex in Afghanistan’s Nangahar Province which is just along that country’s northeast border with Pakistan. The MOAB first entered the US arsenal in 2003 during the lead up to the invasion of Iraq. Its recent employment is the first time it has been used in a combat situation.

Weighing 21,000 pounds, the satellite-guided MOAB is packed with some 18,000 pounds of a gelled slurry of ammonium nitrate and powdered aluminum detonated by a highly explosive booster. The MOAB delivery package consists of an inertial guidance system, a global-positioning system, and fins and wings for course adjustment, making it extremely accurate. Given its massive size, the MOAB is dropped by parachute from a C-130 transport plane before the satellite-guidance system takes over.

The MOAB is a follow-on to a weapon designed to clear helicopter landing zones in Vietnam, the BLU-82 “Daisy Cutter,” a 15,000 pound fuel air explosive device. The BLU-82 was also employed in the 1991 Gulf War and more recently in Afghanistan, where along with the BLU-118/B thermobaric weapon, it was used against al Qaeda troops in fortified caves.

Military officers contemplated employing the MOAB during the Iraq War. Indeed, as the war approached, the Department of Defense made no effort to keep the effects of the MOAB secret. This lack of secrecy suggested that the weapon had a distinct psychological objective: the potential destruction of an Iraqi Republican Guard unit as an incentive to others to surrender.

A fuel-air explosion of the magnitude of the MOAB generates blast and overpressures similar to a small nuclear weapon, minus the radiation. But the fact that so much of the Iraq War took place in populated areas precluded the use of the MOAB. But the isolated area in which the ISIS compound was located before Thursday made it a perfect target for the weapon.

A few observations: first, the employment of the MOAB seems to be the fruit of President Trump’s decision to return to the idea that the military “on the ground” ought to have the authority to make tactical decisions. Reports suggest that the decision to use the MOAB came from Central Command, not the White House. This devolution of decision making is a welcome change. During the Obama years, the rules of engagement (ROE) were so restrictive that U.S. casualties were higher than necessary. In addition, opportunities to inflict damage on the enemy were often lost.

Second, although the purpose of the strike was tactical—the destruction of the ISIS complex—the use of the MOAB also sent a clear message to the mullahs in Iran, to Assad in Syria (and by extension to one of his sponsors, Putin), and to North Korea. Although the use of the MOAB is limited in many potential instances due to the possibility of civilian casualties, the United States has also developed a “bunker buster” version of the MOAB: the GBU-57 A/B Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), a weapon designed to destroy deeply buried hardened targets.

The MOP is a 30,000 pound direct-strike hard-target weapon (DSHTW) featuring 5.300 pounds of high explosive enclosed in a cobalt-alloy bomb body. This configuration enables it to penetrate to depths of up to 100 feet underground before detonating.

So what does all of this mean? Does the Syria strike and the employment of the MOAB in Afghanistan indicate that President Trump is eager to broaden foreign adventurism? Not necessarily. More likely, President Trump is signaling to our adversaries that future aggression will not be cost free.

This is the essence of deterrence, a concept that has atrophied since the end of the Cold War and the perception that nuclear weapons are less important than they once were. But while deterrence was central to our thinking about nuclear weapons, the concept has broader application.

For deterrence to work, three conditions must be met. First, the party that seeks to deter an adversary must have the capability to do what it threatens to do. Second, the deterring party must demonstrate the will to follow through on a threat. Finally, there must be an element of uncertainty at work.

Our adversaries became more aggressive during the Obama years because of the absence of the last two factors. The Obama administration made it clear that it lacked the will to carry through on threats, e.g. Obama’s “red line” in Syria. Obama’s predictable behavior also lessened our adversaries’ uncertainty.

Trump’s actions have restored the missing two elements (our will to use force and the enemy’s uncertainty) to the concept of deterrence. Even though the employment of the MOAB was primarily a tactical decision, in the long run it has a strategic effect by putting adversaries on notice that the leadership of the United States possesses the will to act. Our adversaries also face a level of uncertainty that they did not face with Obama. Contrary to the fears of some Trump supporters, the new circumstances actually lessen the likelihood of US involvement in conflict abroad.

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America • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Greatness Agenda • History • Middle East • Section 1 • The ME Agenda • Trump White House

Syria Strike Brings Back Lost Paradigm of Proportional Response

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In the unleashing of media passions following President Trump’s strike on Syria, there were few surprises. Political pundits of the left and right who have never had a kind word to say about Trump suddenly oozed approval, offering a staggering confirmation of the power of the bipartisan war party. By contrast, those pundits who supported Trump for his steadfast refusal to commit the United States to the military removal of Assad were dismayed. Yet both camps assumed that the strikes were aimed at military-backed regime change. Why?

There was no evidence of regime-toppling intent in statements by members of Trump’s administration. The military action was described as a one-time strike to punish Assad for the use of chemical weapons and to deter their further use. Secretary of State Tillerson immediately affirmed after the strike that there was no change of policy to attempt to instigate military backed regime change against Assad.

The narrative of imminent military-backed regime change is so strong, and so ingrained within media passions, because when it comes to discussing military strikes, the question of military-backed regime change has dominated practice for years.

In fact, if one sets aside all counter-terrorism activities, and considers only direct U.S. military strikes against foreign states, then the strike on Assad’s Syria is a stunning event. This strike marks the first time since Operation Desert Fox in 1998 that the United States has engaged in a direct military strike against a foreign state that does not have as its objective dramatically destabilizing or changing a regime. In 1998 concerns that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was failing to comply with UN resolutions governing the reduction of its capabilities to manufacture and use weapons of mass destruction prompted the United States to run a short bombing campaign against Hussein and punish him in an effort to encourage a reduction in these capabilities.

That the United States has gone almost twenty years without using similar punitive strikes is a clear indication of a paradigm shift with respect to our discussion of military action. By ‘paradigm,’ I mean here the principal questions and strategies that arise ordinarily in the public sphere when considering military action. These vary over time. In the 1940s, the deliberate targeting of civilian population centers for bombing raids was regularly debated as part of strategy. That was no longer the case in the early 1950s, as General MacArthur discovered during his showdown with President Truman.

At present, the dominant paradigm evaluates military action almost entirely with respect to the question of regime change: whether we should or should not use military force to remove so-and-so from power.

What kind of question would a re-invigoration of the old paradigm pose instead? Aaron Sorkin, of all people, supplied us with a plausible question during the first season of his hit series, The West Wing. Sorkin’s script sets up the new administration of Josiah Bartlett to respond to an outrage by, of all countries, Syria. The Syrian government, the story goes, has shot down an unarmed transport aircraft, killing dozens of American citizens. The President is livid. For retaliation, his National Security Council has drawn up a list of small Syrian targets. Yet President Bartlett will have none of it, seeing that it does not do justice to the lives lost. Pushing for a stronger military action that brings “total disaster” on the Syrian government, he asks his advisers: “What is the virtue of a proportional response?”

Bartlett receives the reply: “it isn’t virtuous, Mr President, it’s all there is.” The reply is wise. In considering military action, the proportional response at first blush seems paltry; certainly when compared to upholding a grand humanitarian ideal like bringing peace, freedom, and justice to a troubled country. Yet that goal is too vague to be achievable. To reach that goal, Bartlett realizes he would have to be ready to kill an indefinite number of people. Bartlett learns the real virtue of a proportional response: it places military action within a limited, restricted framework that minimizes destruction and loss of life.

The episode took for granted that the audience recognized the proportional response was the prudent course of action. The question of bringing ‘total disaster,’ never mind regime change, was meant to appear irrational and outrageous. Yet since that West Wing episode aired in 1999, Sorkin’s question has been swept aside.

The 1999 Kosovo bombings, begun for humanitarian reasons, were intended to make Serbia concede the region of Kosovo to separatists and to topple Slobodan Milosovic’s government. It worked. This started the process of normalizing regime change as the objective of direct military strikes. After 9/11, the Kosovo example looked like a readily applicable strategic option bringing lasting benefits. The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were conducted for regime change.

The paradigm under which the United States has operated for the better part of two decades, then, is one in which military strikes have no other objective than the annihilation of the opposing government. But this paradigm is in crisis. Consider its most recent application, NATO’s military operations against Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya in 2011. Gaddafi’s armies were supposed to be on the verge of massacring civilians in Benghazi. Consequently, this justified a military operation to remove Gaddafi from power for humanitarian reasons. In 2016, the British Parliament released a report on the build-up and conduct of the war in Libya. Its conclusions were scathing. Although directed at then-Prime Minister David Cameron, its conclusions readily apply to other intervening Western governments. They failed to pursue readily available diplomatic options, and dropped any strategy of limited military engagement to pursue, instead, a strategy of regime change.

Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson recently drew attention to Libya as the example to avoid in Syria. The Parliamentary report’s conclusion on Libya makes it clear. The result of assuming that the removal of Gaddafi needed to be the objective of military action has been “political and economic collapse, inter-militia and inter-tribal warfare, humanitarian and migrant crises,” and “widespread human rights violations.” It is no wonder that President Obama hesitated about enforcing red lines in Syria in 2013. But even that famously cerebral President could not craft a course of action that while not attempting regime change did not also look inept and ridiculous (recall Secretary of State Kerry’s reassurances that a military strike in Syria would be “unbelievably small“).

So it has taken President Trump to shatter this paradigm. With a small, limited strike, but one he performed swiftly, he has conveyed a powerful and clear message. As long as he holds to the present strategy of a limited punitive strike, he will accomplish the biggest paradigm shift on military action in two decades.

The characteristics of this paradigm are several. First, it uses direct, limited military strikes to punish a state for actions that break international norms. Second, it does not to seek explicit approval from the UN Security Council for these kinds of limited military strikes. Third, it places the burden on Congress to discuss what kinds of military strikes are appropriate for the President to conduct. Fourth, it distinguishes between a punitive military strike directed at another state and the start of a war with that state.

Even careful reflections on the strategic options in Syria pass over this last characteristic, seeing military strikes as equivalent to full-out war to depose Assad. Does this one strike mean the US is at war with Assad’s Syria? As Reagan replied to an analogous question, after he launched a series of punitive strikes on Iran in 1987: ‘They’re not that stupid.”

Doubtless this paradigm is much older. For some, it brings back memories of the early 20th century: Trump is akin to Kaiser Wilhelm II, gambling with world peace to play soldier. However, reflecting on the limited objectives of the Syrian strike, I would submit that the paradigm his administration is trying to reintroduce is more like that of Cardinal Richelieu’s raison d’État, where war is an instrument of the art of politics.

Although raison d’État has been much maligned as an invitation to amorality, the essence of Richelieu’s raison d’État is proportionality. It calls for a just proportion between the ends pursued and forces of state used to achieve those ends. Richelieu’s understanding of the use of force subordinates war to politics. Rather than invite amorality, the subordination of war to politics is actually a moral principle. The principle is to restrain the idea of unlimited war through precise political objectives and political understanding of these circumstances.

These particular political means can still be stern and unscrupulous. In Trump’s case, for example, the timing of the strike must have sent a serious message to China. Yet they need not be wholly unscrupulous. A mistake frequently made about Richelieu’s raison d’État, notably in academic international relations theory is to see raison d’État as a mechanical system of balance of power governed by an under-developed concept of self-interest. That is not the case here. The ultimate ends of statecraft can still be to maintain and promote humanitarian ends—as long as the use of military action remains moderated and limited. In this paradigm, grand humanitarian ideals are not ends to be realized through military means. They are instead to be realized through example, persuasion, and—like Aristotle’s best regime—through prayer. So Trump concludes his brief address on the Syrian strikes:

We ask for God’s wisdom as we face the challenge of our very troubled world. We pray for the lives of the wounded and for the souls of those who have passed. And we hope that as long as America stands for justice, that peace and harmony will in the end prevail.

Many editorials note Trump’s past statements on Syria that contradict his present actions, for he has indeed consented to a military strike against Assad’s Syria. From the perspective of raison d’État, this contradiction is not troubling. As any commander should know, a priori responses to unfolding military and political events are an invitation for strategic mistakes, because they disregard varying circumstances and conditions in coming to the conclusion at which one must arrive. Writing in the 1930s, Charles de Gaulle defended Richelieu and attacked the French military for adopting, based on the experience of the First World War, une doctrine a priori of static defense. From the perspective of raison d’État, military action can never be constructed a priori. Nor can military action be ruled out a priori.

The peril of the present application of raison d’État is that, unlike in Richelieu’s era, war creates great media passions. In the coming weeks, expect to see political pundits clamor for more strikes, and in the absence of more strikes write columns about how Trump has no Syria strategy. To hold off these passions, and recover proportionality in the use of force, Trump must show fortitude: this far into Syria, but no further.

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2016 Election • America • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Middle East • Section 1 • The ME Agenda • The Media • Trump White House

Crisis of the White House Divided

President-elect Donald Trump greets House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other Congressional leaders as he arrives for his inauguration ceremony at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, Pool)

In the first 100 days of the Trump administration, we have learned some important lessons about what it takes to be considered “presidential” by the establishment news media (both liberal and conservative), Hillary Clinton, the leadership of both the GOP and the Democratic Party, and NeverTrump conservatives. While possibly alienating much of his base, Trump has managed to bring together a divided Congress, winning plaudits from Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Mitch McConnell. Pelosi has gone so far as to urge Congress to cancel their April recess so that they can authorize what, to her mind, this very important and carefully planned war for regime change.

Here’s what we know:

Immigration ban from 7 countries? Unreasonable. Unconstitutional. Evil.

Border wall? Too expensive. Stupid. Won’t work.

Change your foreign policy on a dime and bomb a small war torn country, after promising to remove its sovereign ruler? “Beautiful!”Presidential!” So brave! “America is back!”

Forgive the snark, but the past weekend merits it. We’re all left with one burning question: what happened to Trumpism?

Let’s review.

Over the course of the election, Trump accomplished an incredible feat: he destroyed the legacy of Bush-era conservatism, and humiliated the neoconservative wing of the Republican party. The final nail in their coffin (so we thought) was his conquest in November, but the entire campaign can be viewed as a kind of march to the sea, burning one neocon stronghold after another until total victory was achieved.

Not only did he take out his major opponents during the primary, each of them mouthing the same invade-the-world-invite-the-world policy platform. He blew them away, one by one. At the South Carolina debate in February, 2016, Trump not only denounced our failed foreign policy of the past 15 years, shared by neocon and neoliberal alike, but he accused George W. Bush of lying about WMDs in Iraq. With GWB’s brother onstage and his mother in the audience, the SC establishment audience booed. But a few days later, in the reliable, evangelical, and red state, Trump won the primary handily. In that moment, the Bush legacy was defeated, and the dynasty wiped out.

A few months later in April, when his position as GOP nominee was all-but secure, Trump gave his first policy speech. It was on foreign policy. It was also the most radical position taken by Trump in the campaign. While his immigration policy decidedly went against the globalist establishment, and received far more attention from the media, it didn’t pose an existential threat to the Davoisie the way his foreign policy platform did. Building a border wall and enforcing existing immigration law is radical, to be sure. But there is no issue that the mainstream left and right junta agree on more than foreign policy, as shown by the sinister bipartisanship we have seen in the wake of this military attack on Syria.

Immigration and foreign policy are obviously tied together in the invade-the-world-invite-the-world strategy, but immigration is only about one country. Davoisie foreign policy involves a vision for the whole world. Donald Trump’s stated positions flew in the face of that oligarchic alliance. That’s why he explicitly defended the existence of the nation state. He wanted to finally put an end to what Decius once called, “endless, pointless, winless war.”

As Trump stated in that landmark foreign policy speech:

In fact, as time went on, our foreign policy began to make less and less sense. Logic was replaced with foolishness and arrogance, which led to one foreign policy disaster after another.

They just kept coming and coming. We went from mistakes in Iraq to Egypt to Libya, to President Obama’s line in the sand in Syria. Each of these actions have helped to throw the region into chaos and gave ISIS the space it needs to grow and prosper. Very bad. It all began with a dangerous idea that we could make western democracies out of countries that had no experience or interests in becoming a western democracy.

We tore up what institutions they had and then were surprised at what we unleashed…

I will not hesitate to deploy military force when there is no alternative. But if America fights, it must only fight to win.

I will never send our finest into battle unless necessary, and I mean absolutely necessary, and will only do so if we have a plan for victory with a capital V.

Our goal is peace and prosperity, not war and destruction. The best way to achieve those goals is through a disciplined, deliberate and consistent foreign policy. With President Obama and Secretary Clinton we’ve had the exact opposite — a reckless, rudderless and aimless foreign policy, one that has blazed the path of destruction in its wake.

After losing thousands of lives and spending trillions of dollars, we are in far worse shape in the Middle East than ever, ever before. I challenge anyone to explain the strategic foreign policy vision of Obama/Clinton. It has been a complete and total disaster…

However, unlike other candidates for the presidency, war and aggression will not be my first instinct. You cannot have a foreign policy without diplomacy. A superpower understands that caution and restraint are really truly signs of strength. Although not in government service, I was totally against the war in Iraq, very proudly, saying for many years that it would destabilize the Middle East. Sadly, I was correct, and the biggest beneficiary has been has been Iran, who is systematically taking over Iraq and gaining access to their very rich oil reserves, something it has wanted to do for decades.

While many pundits questioned Trump’s sincerity on immigration, most people took him at his word on foreign policy. They had reason to do so: In his long public career, It is one of the issues on which Trump has been most consistent, particularly during the Obama years. His tweets on Syria since 2013, in particular, served as evidence that he wouldn’t back down on this issue: and why should he? What motivation could he have to betray his base of support on one of the issues that most divided those people from the NeverTrump camp?

In that same foreign policy speech, Trump said this of the Bush-era neocon pundits, or as Decius called them, the Washington Generals: “We have to look to new people because many of the old people frankly don’t know what they’re doing, even though they may look awfully good writing in The New York Times or being watched on television.” Here we are, a year later. Did he mean it?

The core of Trumpism was defined by opposition to globalism, to open borders, to unfair trade, and to endless war without any clear American interest. As I stated shortly after the election, the key to Trump’s success in the first 100 days would depend on how far he kept the neocons from access to power, and how much he relied on men like Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, the men who defined that Trumpian vision during the campaign. It seemed clear that they knew what they were up against, and how hard they would have to fight to accomplish…well, anything.

But now it seems that Trump isn’t listening as carefully as he once did to the people who got him elected. Instead, somewhat understandably, he seems to have turned to family members, bringing them closer into his inner circle; family members who may be well intentioned, but who do not seem to understand or ascribe to the Trumpian vision espoused by Donald Trump consistently during the campaign.

Having a variety of viewpoints in the White House isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the more pro-globalist Kushner cadre appears to be making a concerted effort to isolate and undermine the populist-nationalist thinkers who helped Trump define his campaign promises and policies. By demoting Bannon and promoting Kushner, Ivanka, and Dina Powell, Trump seems to have embraced the very ideas that we thought he had destroyed.

The meaning of Trump’s candidacy was clear. The meaning of his presidency is at stake.

At the 2016 Republican National Convention, Peter Thiel exclaimed, “Instead of going to Mars, we went to the Middle East.” If Trump further involves America in the Syrian civil war, this is precisely what will happen to his own agenda for greatness. The Trumpian dream will vanish after one brief shining moment. Flight 93 will have become a reality.

No revolution is pure. Those who cry “Revolution betrayed!” are often unrealistic purists. Once you actually ascend to power, certain realities set in. But let’s have total clarity on this point: personnel is policy, and Trump wasn’t elected by people who wanted regime strikes in Syria and brinksmanship with Russia. Americanism, not globalism, was our credo.

If he continues to freeze out Bannon et al, he’ll receive accolades from the press, like Bush in 2004, but only for a while. The ecstasy over a new humanitarian war will fade, just as it does with any other fad. Eventually, he’ll have to win another election. And he’ll have to run on, and answer, a few simple questions: did he keep his promises? Did he put America first? Did he close the borders? Did he keep us out of senseless wars?

Or was he just another Bush?

2016 Election • America • Defense of the West • Deterrence • Foreign Policy • Terrorism • The ME Agenda • Trump White House

Wars and Rumors of Wars

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Earlier this week, Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad ordered a Sarin gas attack on his purported enemies in the ongoing Syrian Civil War. This attack came on the heels of the Trump Administration signaling that it would be willing to live with the disgusting Assad regime, so long as the U.S. could destroy the Islamic State (and other jihadist networks fighting in Syria) unimpeded.

The attack by Assad placed President Donald Trump in an incredibly awkward position. You see, despite all of his opposition on the campaign trail to the Clinton-Bush-Obama strategy of endless war through nation-building, the image of a young Syrian girl gagging on her own vomit from having been exposed to Sarin nerve gas understandably softens the hearts of the most hardened realists (let alone one of a proud father like Mr. Trump). The attack also proved how utterly unreliable Bashar Assad would be as a “partner” in the war against ISIS.

After all, ISIS is the mutated form of al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) which was responsible for many countless American servicemen and women’s deaths during the Iraq War. Assad had allowed foreign fighters traveling from around the Muslim world to use his border with Iraq as a point of egress from which to launch attacks against Coalition forces operating in the Sunni Triangle of Iraq. After General Petraeus’ much-ballyhooed surge in 2006, the AQI remnants fled across the border into Syria and laid low.

The Syrian Civil War of 2011 provided the battered shards of AQI a chance to reconstitute and become the hellish force that we know today. This terrorist organization was fomented in the early 2000’s by Bashar al-Assad’s regime and, later, found refuge in Assad’s Syria. It was only when ISIS turned on Assad in the Civil War that Assad became an avowed counter-terrorist. Though, to be sure, he was never truly a friend of Sunni terror groups like ISIS. It is more than likely that Assad sent jihadists over the border into Iraq to keep them off of his streets and to inflict damage onto the United States, which has been a perennial adversary of the Assad regime since the 1970s.

Meanwhile, since the 1980s, the Assad regime found friendship in Shiite-dominated Iran. This makes perfect sense: the Alawite sect that rules Syria is a subgroup of Shia Islam. They’ve ruled predominantly Sunni Arab Syria with an iron fist for decades: offering economic incentives to leading Sunnis in exchange for their support, and solidifying their grip on power through ceaseless state-sponsored terror campaigns directed against their Sunni population. Of course, the Syrian Civil War of 2011 destroyed this arrangement, which is why groups like ISIS found new life in that protracted conflict.

With the Sunnis of Syria mostly against Assad’s rule, the Alawites turned increasingly toward the Iranians. Of course, Iran valued Syria as a strategic asset to continue its own genocidal jihad against Israel. This, coupled with the presence of the predominantly Shiite-led government in Iraq, meant that Iran saw an opportunity to create a Shiite-dominated bloc of states in the Mideast—a clear threat to Israel, the Sunni kingdoms, and the United States (all of whom the Iranians identify as their archrivals).

The increased presence of Iran in the Syrian Civil War exacerbated the Sunni-Shiite divide in that conflict, which allowed both sides to claim that they were fighting a holy war. Iran is closely aligned with Russia. Vladimir Putin was still smarting over America’s air war in Libya (the Obama Administration had promised Putin that it would not seek Gaddafi’s overthrow there) and he was looking to keep America distracted in the aftermath of his annexation of Crimea in 2014. So, Russia moved quickly to buttress Iran’s ongoing effort in support of Assad. Also, the Assad regime had been allied with Russia going back to the Cold War. Even after the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia maintained its air base at Latakia and its naval base at Tartarus.

Throughout the region, the United States has seen Russia and Iran act in concert to protect each other’s interests and to establish an anti-American zone of control over the region. Assad’s continued existence only intensifies their grip on power. The Iranian position on Assad is inflexible: they cannot allow him to fall. However, the Russian position is less inflexible. Putin’s interests are thus: prevent the Alawite’s from being overthrown, protect Russian military assets in Syria, and disallow the U.S. from doing to Syria what it did to Iraq and Libya.

When Donald Trump campaigned on his “America First” principle, he did so not because he adhered to the kind of isolationism that defined the group that coined the name and existed between the World Wars. Rather, he meant it literally: that the United States would always act to protect its national interests. There would be no more quasi-Marxian-sounding “wars of liberation.” The United States would spill its blood and spend its treasure only to defend its interests.

Let us stipulate that a key tenet in the protection of America’s interests is to prevent the Mideast from exploding into a regional ethno-religious war (that would most assuredly see nuclear weapons being used). We must also attest that no American interests are served by a repeat of what we did in Iraq (and attempted to do in Libya) in Syria today. We also have no interest in getting into a world war with Russia. Lastly, there is no doubt (and Mr. Trump has been consistent in this) that our two gravest threats in the region are the jihadists of ISIS and al Qaeda, as well as the Iranians.

With this in mind we have a way forward.

Even without the airstrikes against Assad, the United States has exponentially increased its footprint and the tempo of its operations in Syria. The Russians have reciprocated to such a degree that U.S. Special Forces and Russian Spetsnatz commandos are operating within hand grenade ranges of each other! So, Assad has proven that he is unreliable with this attack, since it needlessly escalates tensions between the United States and Russia when Assad needs the military might of both powers to punish his enemies (who are also their enemies).

The Russians have seen that America will not simply back down from Assad’s mindless aggression. Trump has indicated his willingness to work with Russia. All that Putin cares about is preserving the Alawite regime, not Bashar al-Assad’s grip on power.

Following America’s attack on Assad’s forces, the U.S. must pivot and start making calls not for regime change in Syria, but rather, for the Alawites to replace Assad. We should start working with the Russians to get the Alawites to follow through on these calls. We should make clear our intention to focus on ISIS and other terror networks and to prevent Syria from becoming a new Somalia. We should be content to leave the general players on the ground: We just need Bashar al-Assad to answer for his crimes. We do not wish to see a new caliphate birthed in Damascus, nor do we wish to destroy the Alawites. This is a compromise that I believe the Russians could reasonably accept and bring to the Alawites.

Right now, the Alawites’ position is precarious. This is part of the reason why Assad used a Sarin gas attack in the first place. The Alawites are looking for long-term reassurance that they will have at least a chance of surviving the Civil War intact. They can, so long as America does not bring the hammer down on them. We will be compelled to do so if Assad continues doing these egregious attacks.

Russia does not really want to get into a war with the United States. Especially not over Syria. It has considerable sway over the key players in this conflict and its interests in a) fighting ISIS and b) stabilizing Syria overlap with our own. President Trump made a career out of being a master of the art of the deal. Now is the time to prove it.

Besides, if this works in Syria, one hopes the results could be replicated in North Korea. After all, the goal of U.S. foreign policy should be 1) the preservation of our interests, 2) the protection of our values (whenever possible), and 3) doing this with as little cost to ourselves as possible.

 

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Defense of the West • Editor Picks • Middle East • Religion and Society • Religion of Peace • Terrorism • The Culture • The ME Agenda • The Media • Trump White House

Christophobia and Islamophobia

A Christian man in Egypt is beaten by Muslims.

“Islamophobia” is a real problem.

Or so we’re led to believe by the usual suspects in the grievance industry par excellence, the Racism-Industrial-Complex (RIC).

It’s a problem because, it is tirelessly declared, “Islamophobia” is only going to create more Islamic “extremists.”

An article from a December 2015 edition of The Independent represents this all too common view. The title of the piece reads: “Want to create more extremists? Ignore the Islamophobia people like me face every day.” The author is Shehab Khan, a Muslim who lives in England.

Khan opens his editorial by relaying a story. Supposedly, an 11 year-old boy and the child of one his friends was the only one of his peers to have not been invited to a classmate’s birthday party. The reason, according to Khan, is that the parents of the birthday child expressly said that they didn’t want any Muslims to attend the party, for it was Muslims who were responsible for “7/7,” the London bombings on July 7, 2005 that took the lives of 52 people and injured over 700 more.

Khan continues, stating that, “as a Muslim myself, I face similar prejudice every day [.]” He is more direct: “Violence and aggression motivated by Islamophobia has, unfortunately, become almost routine.”

However, “arguably the biggest issue is the clear and persistent presence of institutional Islamophobia.”

“Islamophobia,” Khan says, “is endemic and insidious in almost all sections of society and doesn’t just occur when people’s smartphones are on and the headlines are made.”

But here Khan delivers his ultimate point: If the biggest threat the West faces today stems from such Islamic terrorist organizations as ISIS, then “Islamophobia” is a genuine crisis, an issue of national security in every one of those countries that comprise Western civilization. Why? Khan elaborates:

Continually singling out Muslims and questioning them about affiliations with Isis and whether they are extremists is a personification of Islamophobia. Institutional or casual, Islamophobia not only affects British Muslims but also plays into the narrative put forward by extremists that the west will never accept Muslims.

He concludes: “If we want successful counter-terrorism policy, we need to start with tackling the racism which plays into the terrorist narrative. We ignore prejudice at our own peril.”

Notice, the “terrorist narrative” to which Khan alludes is his narrative, the tale of talking points that RIC agents promote at every turn. Let’s call it “the Islamophobia narrative.”

First, there is the assumption that “Islamophobia” is a meaningful term.

Second, we have the assertion, always presented as axiomatic, that Islamophobia is at once pervasive and oppressive.

Third, the case for this last typically depends, as it depends here, on unverifiable anecdotes of the kind that Khan shares, stories of Muslims who felt as if they had been slighted or inconvenienced because of their religion.

Finally, the Islamophobia narrative, like that of the “terrorist narrative” (at least as Khan understands the latter), insists in so many words that unless Westerners refrain from lending offense to those Muslims that they have allowed into their lands, they will pay for it with their own blood.

Islamophobia, you see, is guaranteed to fuel terrorism.

Interestingly, but unsurprisingly, the Khans of the world never utter a peep about “Christophobia,” the oppression, the often brutal oppression, to which Christians around the world are subjected on a daily basis. Nor are they willing to mention that much (though certainly not all) of this anti-Christian cruelty is perpetrated by Muslims in majority-Muslim societies.

There are 44 Muslim-majority countries in the world comprised of a total of 1.1 billion practitioners of Islam. In 38 of these countries, Christians constitute the single largest religious minority. About 56 million, or 2.6%, of the people living in these 44 countries are Christian.

There are degrees of persecution that Christians face, it’s true, but as immediately becomes obvious to any unprejudiced observer, the examples that Westerners like Khan offer as proof of anti-Muslim oppression are outright embarrassing when compared to those that Christians can and have provided of the treatment to which they are prey.

If it’s true that an 11 year-old Muslim child was excluded from a classmate’s party just because of his religion, this is indeed sad. But when it is considered in juxtaposition with the fact that over the span of a decade, from 2005 to 2015, militant Muslims reduced the ancient Christian community in Iraq from 1.5 million residents to 300,000, and over half of the latter have been displaced from their homes, things don’t sound like their all that rough for Muslims in historically Christian countries.

If it’s true that innocent Muslims in, say, England have been questioned by authorities on the basis of their religion alone about possible connections with terrorist groups, and they were inconvenienced by this, then while this may be unfortunate, it hardly screams of oppression when it is contrasted with ISIS armies chasing tens of thousands of Christian families from their homes.

One study suggests that Christians are facing genocidal conditions of an enormity such that by 2020 or so, Christians will have been cleansed from much of the Middle East, a region in which they’ve resided for two millennia.

And yet, no one who has dared to note any of this ugliness has ever so much as remotely suggested that the persecution of Christians should stop because it will fuel Christian terrorism.

If we insist on talking about “Islamophobia,” then we have no option but to admit that it stands as a cold next to the stage five cancer of Christophobia.

Defense of the West • Department of Homeland Security • Foreign Policy • Middle East • Religion of Peace • Terrorism • The ME Agenda

Is the Department of Homeland Security Submitting to Jihad?

After an extensive career as a scientist working and studying in the Middle East, Philip Haney decided to put his extensive expertise and experience with Arabic culture and language to use for the American government after 9/11 by becoming a founding member of the Department of Homeland Security. But as the years advanced, Haney noticed that all was not well in the department.

There was a decided inclination to misunderstand the nature of the so-called “war on terror” as a kind of police action rather than the work of looking after national security. Obama administration officials, especially, argued for extending protection of rights to foreign nationals that ought to have been understood to apply only to American citizens. In addition, a creeping kind of political correctness took hold of operations—with requests coming in from administration officials to scrub records unfavorable to certain groups and individuals with questionable ties to known terrorist organizations—making it increasingly difficult for agents to do their jobs properly.

Soon enough, Haney found himself on the wrong side of the political divide at DHS and then learned he was a target of no less than three bogus internal investigations. After having reached a point where he could retire with honor, he did so and then wrote See Something, Say Nothing: A Homeland Security Officer Exposes the Government’s Submission to Jihad. In this book and in his subsequent work, Haney is working to inform Americans about the misguided strategies of DHS and other agencies within the government that are undermining national security and, in some cases, willfully misrepresenting the nature of the threats we face for reasons that the reader can surmise from the evidence he gathers.

On Monday, Seth Liebsohn and Chris Buskirk interviewed Haney on the “Seth and Chris Show” which airs weekdays in Phoenix from 3-6 p.m. on KKNT.  Their discussion is jaw-dropping. Have a listen here:

https://soundcloud.com/thesethandchrisshow/march-20-2017-philip-haney

2016 Election • America • Americanism • Conservatives • Deterrence • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Greatness Agenda • Middle East • Religion of Peace • Russia • September 11 • Terrorism • The ME Agenda • Trump White House

Iraq: A War in Three Acts

Americans love a good story. Pop culture is littered with the fictional tales of heroic characters. The majority of stories today still follow a three-act structure that dates back to Aristotle. Epic films start with the hero called to action in the first act; then the tension rises in the second (how will our hero get out of this situation?); and finally, in the third act,   a resolution. By the end, the hero will have achieved his victory (normally) but he will also be changed in some fundamental way before the story is over.

Unfortunately for us, this reality has followed this structure in the Iraq War. With the 14th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq upon us, we must recognize that the Iraq War of 2003 was not an isolated event but merely the second act of a war in three parts.

The first act was the call to action in 1991: Saddam Hussein was an international villain who demanded the attention of good and freedom-loving people. The hero, America, rose to the challenge in Operation Desert Storm. But, contrary to popular belief, the war didn’t end in 1991. The United States and Great Britain maintained a strict no-fly zone throughout the remainder of the decade. The hero and the villain merely continued battling during this period. In a way, then, the resolution of the Gulf War in 1991 was more akin to the peace deal at the end of World War I in that it was little more than a protracted armistice.

This set the stage for the second act in 2003. Per the three-act formula, the stakes were raised in Act Two. The world wondered how on Earth would America get itself out of Iraq?

The conflict, as George Friedman (channeling Shakespeare) claimed in his 2005 book America’s Secret War, was a tale “told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” And, like Shakespearean tales, the only thing that determined whether the story was to be a tragedy or a comedy, was whether or not the story ended with a marriage.

Make no mistake: there’s nothing funny about war (and, to be fair, most Shakespearean “comedies” are not funny in the sense that we understand “comedy” today). However, there is something perversely humorous behind the political class and its telling of this three-act war. Remember, the United States invaded Iraq to prevent a genocidal madman from acquiring nuclear arms and destabilizing the Mideast. America also wanted to prevent both Iran and Sunni jihadists from exerting influence there after Saddam was toppled.

Yet—and here’s the darkly humorous part—by invading Iraq, America’s political elite likely set into motion the very outcome they sought to avoid. In the end, Saddam did not have nuclear arms (though, to be sure, he made everyone think he did). And with Saddam’s ouster, al Qaeda (and later ISIS) gained significant amounts of influence in Iraq. Meanwhile, Iran has steadily increased its control over Iraq.

In fact, things are verifiably worse in the region. Freedom is in decline. Syria has imploded. Jordan, Egypt, and Israel are all threatened by the instability that the Iraq War has caused. Oh, and Russia is back in the Middle East. (What’s next? Frogs falling from the sky?)

Meanwhile, as Iran gains the most from America’s three-act war in Iraq, an ethno-religious cold war is shaping up between the Sunni states (led by Saudi Arabia) and the Shiite-led Iran. This conflict is playing itself out in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. The Sunni-Shiite regional cold war could very well go nuclear, with Saudi Arabia seeking to purchase a handful of nuclear weapons from Pakistan. This is in response to the Obama Administration’s deal with Iran, which many observers believe gave Iran the green light to pursue building nuclear arms.

With America’s increased commitment to defeating ISIS in Iraq, one might assume that we would be in a position to dictate a postwar settlement. Not so. The United States is working with those already engaged in combat against ISIS in Iraq. While there are American allies (such as the Kurds) fighting in Iraq, the most prevalent force is the Iranian-backed Iraqi military (the Iraqi government, like neighboring Iran, is led by Shiites). Indeed, Iranian troops are fighting alongside the Iraqi forces and, in some cases, leading the fight on the ground. Plus, the larger presence of Russia in the region (as an ally of Iran) means that America’s ability to influence the postwar environment will be severely hamstrung.

President Trump has made clear that the United States will not become mired in yet another nation-building campaign in Iraq (or anywhere else). So we can assume that the Iranians—with its sizable military, cultural, and religious influence—will dictate the postwar order in Iraq.

What that means is Iraq will effectively become a proxy for Iranian foreign policy in the region. American military policy in the Mideast is effectively buttressing Iranian hegemony. U.S. victory over ISIS in Iraq will not stabilize the country. Rather, it will simply make Iraq ripe for Iran’s picking.

Alas, the three-act Iraq War will end in the “marriage” of Iraq and Iran. But this is no Shakespearean comedy. Instead, the 25-year American experience in Iraq is some kind of  dark, postmodern, geopolitical comedy. Let us hope that the Trump Administration keeps this in mind as it ramps up U.S. combat operations in Iraq. We must kill ISIS, but we must not miss the fact that Iran is not our friend.

America • Americanism • Defense of the West • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Greatness Agenda • Israel • Middle East • The ME Agenda • Trump White House

How Trump’s “America First” Will Improve Middle East Relations

President Trump’s speech last Tuesday before a joint session of Congress did not go into great depth on foreign affairs. However, it did offer several key statements about the meaning and intent of his “America First” approach to foreign policy.

One of the most important statements was only a few lines, but it was also quite revealing:

 

We will respect historic institutions, but we will also respect the sovereign rights of nations.

Free nations are the best vehicle for expressing the will of the people—and America respects the rights of all nations to chart their own path. My job is not to represent the world. My job is to represent the United States of America. But we know that America is better off, when there is less conflict—not more.

The entire concept of America First has been derided by critics as an expression of isolationism, as an expression of selfishness on the part of the United States at the expense of other nations. In fact, Trump’s words about respecting the “sovereign right of nations to chart their own path” makes plain that exactly the opposite is the case.

America First is a recognition that the nation state is the most natural, transparent and orderly conduit for conducting relations with other states. The core factor at play in this arrangement is national interest which affords a maximum transparency and clarity, and therefore stability.

Equally important, this approach treats sovereign governments in the Middle East as “equals” on this playing field which, consequently, provides more incentive for them to take an active role in contributing to addressing major security problems within their region, especially.

While the media will not necessarily report it, all of America’s traditional allies, especially Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt, despised the foreign policy of the Obama administration, and are now responding in positive ways to Trump.

To illustrate why this is so let us first look at an analysis of Trump’s approach from the “America Not First” perspective of Rob Malley, former President Obama’s point man on the Middle East, in a February 28 Washington Post article:

For clues as to how the Trump administration would like to deal with the Middle East, one need not look too far. As a candidate, and then as president, Donald Trump laid out three overarching principles that, one suspects, his national security team is busy trying to stitch together: to quickly defeat the Islamic State; to aggressively push back against Iran, imposing a steep price for its hostile activities; and to put “America First” —a concept that, applied to U.S. policy in the region, translates roughly into avoidance of costly, opened-ended military entanglements. The principles are clear, understandable and irreconcilable: the administration could have one, or even two of the three, but not all of them at once. If it wants a robust approach to the Islamic State and an aggressive stance towards Iran, it will need to substantially ramp up U.S. military involvement. If it insists on keeping those numbers low and aspires to go after the Islamic State nonetheless, it will have to postpone the goal of decisively challenging Iran. And if it wants to confront Tehran while keeping the U.S. presence within bounds, the fight against the Islamic State inevitably will suffer.

What’s the most noteworthy takeaway?

Malley, supposedly a champion of engagement and anti-isolationism, does not once mention our allies Saudi Arabia, Egypt or the UAE. It is as if there are no U.S. allies in the region. He fails to mention them because the Obama Administration’s “America Not First” approach meant the United States had no choice but to play the dominant role in the region, given that we alienated all of our traditional allies.

Let’s walk through how Team Obama got us to this point.

It started in 2011, when President Obama told Hosni Mubarak, an ally of 30 years, that he “must go”—essentially throwing him under the bus out of some naïve desire to be on the “right side of history.” The message to sovereign rulers around the region was clear: if Mubarak wasn’t safe nobody was.

That counter-productive instinct next led to the United States leading the campaign to overthrow Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi—a ruler who had made real moves to bolster his ties to the United States in the preceding years—merely because he made a couple of speeches some took as threatening. Obama then took sides in the Syrian Civil War, half-heartedly attempting to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. This achieved no lasting or tangible benefit to America and only served to prolong a brutal and now, apparently, savage war.

Even more damaging to U.S. alliances in the region was Obama’s insistence that reaching an Iran nuclear deal was absolutely imperative. In the process, the administration all but abandoned old allies like Saudi Arabia and Israel, treating them with disdain and giving them less incentive to cooperate with the United States.

The Obama administration’s neglect of allies set into motion a self-fulfilling prophecy. If America treats its allies with contempt, those allies will decline to to help us counter Iran or fight ISIS. Under these conditions, the United States must necessarily play the dominant role in the Middle East.

By contrast, President Trump’s more traditional “America First” approach is simple and easily understood. By choosing to make clear that America is approaching the Middle East on the traditional nation-state to nation-state basis, he is restoring a clear sense of order and a predictability to Washington’s dealings with the region. Accordingly, the United States is poised to restore positive relations with its traditional allies in the region.

Take for example, the refugee crisis. The Saudis in particular were treated with contempt by President Obama and responded accordingly. They had no incentive to lift a finger to help out with the Syrian refugee problem. President Trump, by restoring a good relationship with Riyadh, is in position to negotiate with them to play a major role. For example, in a call shortly after taking office, the king of Saudi Arabia agreed to play a major role in facilitating safe zones in Syria to help displaced persons from that war.

Iran poses another challenge—and illustrates the difference in the two U.S. approaches. Whereas Malley and Team Obama, after alienating our allies, had no option but to take the lead role in dealing with ISIS and in checking Iran, President Trump wants those allies, all on the front lines in this war, to play the leading role.

For example, on March 2, Yusuf Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates ambassador to the United States, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal speaking positively of the Trump administration’s eagerness to rebuild U.S. relationships with its traditional Gulf allies in countering Iran. But Otaiba also tied those strengthened ties to greater effectiveness in making headway solving each of the major regional security issues.

Finally, a third problem is in countering ISIS. Malley seems to think that only the United States faces the threat from the Islamic State. But the chief target of radical jihadists are local Muslim governments. It is therefore not surprising that under President Trump, Saudi Arabia is talking about sending in ground troops to Syria.

America First is not of a piece with an unthinking or absolutist isolationism. It’s a realistic approach to dealing with the world the way it is. It does not mean that America likes every aspect of Middle Eastern regimes. But it does recognize that working with them in a pragmatic way is the only realistic approach to getting positive results for Americans and our allies in the region. For that reason, all of our allies in the Middle East are excited and optimistic about the Trump Administration’s approach compared to the “America Not First” approach of President Obama.