Greatness Agenda

Export Bans and the Reemergence of the Nation-State

America’s trade policy must be tempered with a political and policy realism that acknowledges that the virtue of a national government is to protect and provide for its citizens in a crisis.

The COVID-19 pandemic has served to upend many long-held policy assumptions, but none so clearly as the theory that international trade rests purely on economic incentives, and that those economic incentives will always override a country’s more base instincts to act in its own interest because of the cost to global profits.

Responses from countries around the world to COVID-19 have significantly fractured this argument. It can no longer be said with unshakable confidence that nations will sidestep their own economic objectives, interests, and policies for the sake of a more profitable international economic integration.

In other words, reports that “the Westphalian notion of the self-interested state is dead” are greatly exaggerated.

Glimmers of this truth began making themselves plain when President Trump started pushing back against Chinese dominance of the U.S.-China trade relationship. China, which has cheated, stolen, and otherwise criminally vaulted itself into global manufacturing dominance, threatened to retaliate by cutting off exports of critical supplies to the United States—supplies that now only China manufactures.

Nearly a year ago, it was the rare earth minerals crucial to the production of everything from iPhones to precision-guided weapons. In April, it was the pharmaceuticals and personal protective equipment relied upon by millions of Americans, of which China controls a shockingly large market share.

The terms of our supposedly “free” trade with the Chinese are now made plain: should the United States seek for itself and its citizens better trade terms, China will hold us hostage to our own critical needs. With China, the “free” in free trade only extends as far as our government’s willingness to keep the Chinese Communists happy.

But it’s not just our adversaries. The international economic response to the onset of COVID-19 has also shaken the theory that economic interests will always trump national ones, and it has done so with remarkable speed.

In early April, India announced it would be suspend the export of hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug that is a potential remedy to the virus. India manufactures most of the world’s supply of the drug, in addition to its component parts. After a call with President Trump, India agreed to export on a case by case basis—presumably for political, not economic, reasons.

By the end of April, 80 countries had adopted export bans of personal protective equipment. Seventy-two of these bans were in countries that are members of the World Trade Organization. Yet only 13 countries notified the WTO, in violation of that organization’s regulations. (Deference to international organizations also suffers in a crisis, apparently.)

Even reliable free traders such as Germany initially banned the export of protective medical equipment. Dutch multinational Phillips came under pressure from both the American and Dutch governments to keep the production of ventilators within their borders. Major food exporters restricted shipments as countries stockpiled food at home.

The European Commission, notably liberalized on trade, announced new European Union guidelines on screening foreign investments, and encouraged member states to adopt tools that “protect critical assets and technology” in “critical European companies,” specific to “health, medical research, or strategic infrastructure.”

“Openness,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, must be balanced with “the need to preserve our economic sovereignty.”

It may not be an economically rational decision to close up shop during a crisis, but it is an entirely human one.

Over the last 30 years, Western governments have built economies around the zero-stock, just-in-time supply-chain economic model. And it generally works—that is, until it doesn’t.

“The sight of many Western governments raiding literal cupboards, begging for supply, and only now improvising manufacturing,” Australian strategist Gray Connolly wrote recently, “is a sight that must never be seen again.”

Trade is a powerful economic tool that has lifted, and continues to lift, millions out of poverty. But, as the crisis has so ably demonstrated, trade is, at its root, also a political arrangement.

Our trade policy, going forward, must be tempered with a political and policy realism that acknowledges, as many of our allies and trading partners already do, that the virtue and legitimacy of a national government are to protect and provide for its citizens in a crisis. This will require rethinking, at certain times, our commitment to the multilateral agreements and bodies that have largely reflected the interests of multinational corporations, the financial sector, and other ascendant political coalitions at the expense of long-term strategic preparation.

The world’s complex supply chains will re-emerge when COVID-19 has passed. But they will and should look different. The nation-state, far from being dead, is back with a vengeance. The United States can either acknowledge that fact and craft our policies and politics accordingly, or keep persisting in the obviously blinkered belief that the self-interest of diverse national economies will never emerge.

Greatness Agenda

Common Sense on Communist China

Those who say the United States can’t be independent of Beijing are wrong.

President Trump repeatedly has called on companies to move their factories out of Communist China.

He imposed tariffs after determining the Chinese government was illegally subsidizing the production of those goods.

Companies responded by asking the president to lift the tariffs, parroting the Chinese Communist party line.

Then the coronavirus came along and exposed the folly of relying on a corrupt totalitarian regime as a sole source supplier.

Now, the Trump Administration is “turbocharging” efforts to remove global supply chains from China, Reuters reports, as the president considers new tariffs to make Beijing pay for the pandemic it caused through incompetence if not outright malice.

But some in this country still oppose a divorce from Beijing. They say we must collaborate and cooperate with the Communist regime going forward. What they call collaboration and cooperation used to be called appeasement.

These collaborators, if you will, fall roughly into four categories:

The Vested: These cannot be trusted. They have a vested interest in continuing the status quo. Their power, prestige and fortunes derive from commerce with China.

In this category you will find the owners of our major media companies: Disney, the parent of ABC News, owns a theme park and distributes films in the People’s Republic. Ditto NBC (Universal Studios and theme park), CBS (Paramount Studios), and CNN (Warner Brothers theme park and studios). Like the NBA, they dare not offend Xi Jingping who holds the purse strings. Fellow travelers include Wall Street bankers who earn billions from Chinese investments, consultants such as McKinsey & Co, and the import lobby, which includes everyone from Walmart to the Footwear and Apparel Association. They have all grown fat in Red China. Commerce has weakened their spirit of patriotism.

The Weak: These cannot see the danger. They are comfortable in their ivory towers and are slaves to fear. The more they have to lose the less willing they are to venture on a new path.

The Prejudiced: They will not see the danger. Their minds are made up—their hatred of Donald Trump blinds them to reality. When the president calls out the Chinese Communist Party, they reflexively take Beijing’s side. They may not believe in the gender binary, but in all things Trump their thinking is binary: if Trump is for it, they’re against it and vice versa. In this camp count journalists such as those who claim the president’s criticism of the CCP is an effort to deflect criticism of his own actions.

The “Moderates”: These are the so-called “reasonable” men and women who think better of China’s government than it deserves.

This last group is the most dangerous. They have done and will do more damage to our country and the cause of national economic independence than all of the other three.

From their sinecures in academia, media, think tanks, and government, they counsel collaboration with China’s dictators and pray that we may be friends again. They dispense their moderate prescriptions on the pages of foreign policy journals and smooth their moderate balms on policymakers and pundits.

They live far from the scenes of sorrow scarring our land. They do not see the vast tracts of our country laid to waste by the economic warfare China has been waging. They are strangers to the once-prosperous cities and towns reduced to ruin and bereft of hope.

Being of a passive nature, they believe China’s ruling party is not that different from our own, that it plays by the same rules and has the same goals. They could not be more wrong.

But the pandemic has made it clear to a large and growing majority of Americans that Communist China does not have our best interest at heart.

Despite what the moderate men say, these hard Americans know it’s time to cut our dependence on that foreign tyranny.

There are a few who are hesitant to call for a course correction because no plan has been laid out. They don’t see a way out of our present condition.

Let us offer a few hints as to how we can affect the change we need in a way that will cause the least pain. Others may add their own suggestions and the wisest and most capable may gather these scraps together and craft a definite plan of action:

First, we need to identify sectors where we face potential shortfalls in supply. Experts in health care, defense, telecommunications, and other industries can catalog the goods we currently produce ourselves, what can be sourced from allies, and what is only available from China.

Second, we need to give entrepreneurs and businesses incentives to move their supply chains away from China.

China gave businesses incentives to move there, we must give them incentives to move back.

Making the current tariffs permanent would give businesses the signal that there is no going back to the status quo ante—build plants outside the People’s Republic. Similarly, additional tariffs would have the effect of making China a less attractive place to do business.

Japan is offering its companies cash to relocate from China. That’s one idea. Another is offering a 100 percent immediate tax write-off for capital expenditures in the United States.

An executive order currently under review leverages the purchasing power of the federal government. The order would require all drugs purchased by the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services to be made in America, providing a guaranteed market for domestic manufacturers.

“Buy American” was the rule for the federal government going back to the 1930s. It provided the start-up funding that nurtured aerospace and other industries. But decades of waivers and free trade agreements gave foreign suppliers equal access to federal procurement dollars and starved American businesses.

Streamlining the regulatory process to fast track approvals would provide another incentive for bringing advanced manufacturing to the United States.

In addition to tax breaks and a market, the federal government can provide financing for companies to locate in the United States. Right now, finance is controlled by a few money center banks. If they hold to their past practice of favoring investment in China or other low-cost countries rather than the United States, the government can step in and provide financing to upstart competitors to invest here. We’ve done it before and we can do it again.

Finally, and most important, we must unify.

We must bring Left and Right together so we stand as one country as the Chinese Communist Party and its agents try to sow political division. Let us put our differences and suspicions aside and unite as citizens and neighbors in this land.

This means helping those who are going to be hurt the most so no one bears too heavy a burden in what will be a long fight. Hire American, as well as Buy American, should be the watchwords as we build a new independent American economy.

Those who say we can’t be independent of Communist China are wrong.

Just as we declared independence from the British Empire 244 years ago we can restore our independence today.

We must act now, when the cost of the status quo is clearer than ever, and ignore the calls for collaboration and cooperation, the familiar refrain of the globalists habitually opposed to national sovereignty.

Our wish is health and prosperity for our people and the people of China. We seek to dissolve a bond that has impoverished our people and empowered a tyranny over hers.

We have it in our power to begin the world over again.

Greatness Agenda

Where the Art of the Deal Must Trump the Art of War

A sustained U.S. covert campaign is already underway in Venezuela. But this crisis needs a diplomatic resolution.

The U.S. military is quietly building up its forces around the failing state of Venezuela. Torn asunder by decades of socialist rule, the Chavismo regime led by the kleptocratic and autocratic Nicolás Maduro is collapsing. As it collapses, the Venezuelan regime starves and terrorizes its own people, supports narcoterrorism, and becomes increasingly aggressive with their American rivals to the north. 

Recently, the Venezuelan Navy engaged in a cartoonish attempt to commandeer a private cruise ship in international waters. Despite the aggressive act, the ineptitude of Venezuela’s military was on display as the Venezuelan warship that attempted to ram the German civilian ship ended up sinking itself in the Caribbean Sea. 

Despite Venezuela’s military incompetence, the attack represented a grave escalation at a time when a distracted United States appears weak. Justifiably, the Trump Administration surged U.S. Navy forces into the region in a display of force not seen in decades. 

In neighboring Colombia, which is home to nine U.S. military bases, U.S. forces are amassing along the border

At the same time, in exchange for removing two blocks of onerous sanctions that the Trump Administration had imposed upon the Russian energy conglomerate, Rosneft, the Russians have abandoned their support for the Venezuelan state-owned energy conglomerate, Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA). This effectively cuts Venezuela’s energy sector off from its last lifeline. Energy is the basis of the Venezuelan economy, and without Russia, it will be completely strangled by U.S. sanctions. 

Tell Me How This Ends

The Trump Administration has been tightening the proverbial noose around Maduro’s neck. In January, during the State of the Union Address, President Trump introduced Americans to the man Washington wants to replace Maduro: democratic resistance leader Juan Guaidó. 

As head of the National Assembly, Guaidó controls the only institution that is not part of the Maduro machine (although, as I told readers last year, Guaidó may be democratic but he is not necessarily pro-capitalism). The Trump Administration wants very badly to remove Maduro from power. Yet, despite the military buildup in the region, President Trump rightly understands how foolish it would be to use force to remove Maduro the way that Trump’s predecessors used force to remove Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.

That is why President Trump has a standing offer to allow  Maduro to leave Venezuela safely. Until Maduro takes his offer, Trump will ratchet up pressure on the Chavismo regime. 

In the words of retired U.S. Navy Admiral James Starvridis, the Trump team wants to “create a transitional government under a new five-person ‘council of state,’ four of whom would be appointed by the National Assembly and the fifth, a nominal head of state, then chosen by the first four appointees.” In this formulation, Guaidó would be excluded from the five-person transitional council. Although, once new elections could be held within the year after the five-person council took power, Guaidó could run for office (and he undoubtedly would win in a popular election). 

At that point, Maduro could be moved out of Venezuela and set up in the authoritarian nation of his choice (with the stores of gold he has spent the last year shipping to friendly countries) to live out the rest of his days in comfort. Multilateral regional organizations, as Starvridis suggests, such as the Organization of American States (OAS) could be used to ease Maduro’s transition out of Venezuela bloodlessly. 

Taking Sides in the Drug War

But, here’s the rub: there is no guarantee that either Russia or the Venezuelan military, which is dedicated to Maduro remaining in power (because they are corrupt and are part of the international drug trade flowing from Venezuela which Guaidó threatens), necessarily want Maduro out of power. So, even if Maduro did want to go, there is no guarantee that his military would let him leave. 

If, however, Guaidó and his American backers could undermine Venezuela’s drug trade by replacing the Venezuelan military’s drug cartels with those of a rival, then the power of the generals will have been deprived. Weakening the generals’ drug trade will be key to displacing their power, and giving Maduro an easy exit. 

In the last few weeks, vicious border attacks between the right-wing paramilitary drug cartel in Colombia, known as “Los Rastrojos,” and the left-wing Colombian paramilitary group, ELN, have occurred at the same time Los Rastrojos have waged a vicious war upon Venezuelan military forces just across from the Colombian border.

A strange incident occurred last year which proved that Guaidó has at least some connection with drug cartels in Colombia. The Venezuelan military leaders are part of the Cartel of the Suns, which runs cocaine from Colombia to Venezuela’s coast on the Caribbean. Now, the group that Gauidó has a nominal connection to in the drug world is the aforementioned Los Rastrojos. So, just beneath the Venezuelan civil war, is the regional drug war. And for Washington to displace Maduro and his generals, Trump will have to make an alliance with some unsavory figures, even potentially those in drug cartels rivaling the Cartel of the Suns.

Trump: The Lion and the Fox

President Trump has proven time and again that he is able to outfox the nastiest of foes without resorting to war. Trump wants Maduro gone. But he doesn’t want war to achieve this end. Trump is not George W. Bush, no matter how many Bush retreads fill his administration. 

For Trump, then, there is a third way. 

The Trump team already quietly offered Maduro a sweetheart deal to leave last year. According to reports, Maduro almost took it. But it is believed he was prevented from doing so by the Russians and his own generals. So Trump has been squeezing Maduro more. 

The key, though, will be to weaken Venezuela’s drug-dealing generals. Trump might be able to do this if Guaidó holds some sway with groups like Los Rastrojos. But without leverage, Guaidó won’t be able to overcome Maduro’s grip on power.

In recent weeks, the Maduro regime has been shipping Venezuela’s remaining gold to Iran (while leaving some for Maduro’s allies in China and Russia). So, perhaps Maduro is slowly making plans for a quiet departure with a golden parachute somewhere. Then again, he just might be buying the time he needs to stay in power by sending that gold to Iran.

Clearly, the United States cannot leave the festering wound that is Venezuela in its own backyard—not when American rivals are attempting to weaken America’s position globally. But a war for Venezuela would be devastating. Thus, a sustained covert campaign is already underway. Let us hope Trump can combine this covert effort with sincere diplomacy to resolve the matter and restore American credibility abroad.

Greatness Agenda

When Straw Men Sell False Choices

Have we reached the point at which calling for an end to illegal trade practices is considered warlike activity when the speaker is a Republican from Queens?

Barry Brownstein’s essays usually bring more light than heat to issues of the day. He’s a professor emeritus of economics and leadership at the University of Baltimore, and often he sounds like an uncle to whom you’d turn for advice.

But in a March 24 essay at the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), Brownstein tries to make a case for “Why We Should Love China, Not Fear It”—and therein lies the problem: A straw man in a headline never travels alone. Brownstein’s plea for Sinophilia is thick with straw men.

Having mounted his anti-Trump horse, Brownstein goes to the whip hand right out of the gate, planting the idea that tariffs imposed on Chinese imports are monstrously ill-advised. “FEE readers,” he writes, “understand well the destructive effects of Trump’s tariffs.”

It’s an interesting way to start an essay that is not about tariffs, and it only makes sense if you are already persuaded to see those economic tools as symptoms of a pathology from which the president and his supporters suffer.

One hopes FEE readers also understand that tariffs have time limits. Consider the new trade agreement between the United States and China announced in January: Observers have concluded it is “delivering despite coronavirus.” That was the gist of a Fox Business story published the same week that Brownstein decried President Trump’s allegedly “narcissistic” vision for America.

Straw men love adjectives in the same way snipers love high ground.

The current U.S.-China deal was made possible partly by tariffs, and—according to MarketWatch—it could “move the world closer to free trade and ultimately save the World Trade Organization.” Increased exports and stronger protection for intellectual property would be good things for America, right?

The big picture would have been easier for Brownstein to see if he hadn’t been enchanted by the identification of 16 different cases “in which an ascending power (like China) challenged an established power (like the United States).” In 12 of those 16 cases, the challenger and the champion made war on each other.

Clutching the memory of conflict between Athens and Sparta to his chest like a model of COVID-19 (an influence that’s too scarily impressive to revise in light of actual experience), Brownstein turns from the straw men he’s already used (tariffs as horrible weapons, America-first trade policy as narcissistic) to introduce yet another straw man, Mr. Specious Analogy: Suppose Mississippi became a wealthy state, he wonders—Would that gladden your heart, or would you “worry that Mississippians gained their wealth by ripping you off?” (Subtext: Are you a righteous person or a xenophobe?)

China is not Mississippi, Brownstein admits, but he is at pains to remind us that “the tide of war will stay offshore when we add love to thick economic interdependence.” We do that for people with whom we share a national identity, but we ought also to do it for people from other nations, he says.

As one reader noted in the comments of his essay, Brownstein’s notion of love between countries seems flexible enough to include capitulation.

Moreover, he doesn’t allow for the possibility that you can love China while simultaneously working to check the pernicious influence of its Communist leadership at every turn (or, indeed, love China precisely by doing that—as witness the Wuhan residents saying that coronavirus figures released by their government don’t add up).

Brownstein echoes National Public Radio in suggesting that Donald Trump has a zero-sum view of the world where America cannot win unless China loses. He wants the rest of us to believe that Trump is a hateful narcissist treating trade policy like a zero-sum game.

Have we reached the point at which calling for an end to illegal trade practices is considered warlike activity when the speaker a Republican from Queens? Brownstein seems to think so. But based on what we’ve seen throughout Trump’s presidency so far, it’s more accurate to think of him as a shrewd patriot using every peaceful means at his disposal to broker win-win agreements internationally.

To the extent it exists, zero-sum thinking comes from Chinese Communist leaders who used the COVID-19 crisis they abetted to bulldoze temples and churches. When they appeal to national memory or world opinion, it’s with a view toward retaining their own grip on power, rather than out of nostalgia for China as the fabled “Middle Kingdom.”

Another straw man deserving of a brotherly backhand is the idea that a worrisome number of Americans up to and including the president operate from an assumption of “national supremacy.”

Look: Ray Charles’ version of “America the Beautiful” still brings tears to my eyes, but supremacy and self-sufficiency are two different things. If you can’t be patriotic without flirting with national socialism or prudent without being dismissed as hopelessly parochial, then Brownstein must also be disappointed with Brazilians (Headline on an April 8 story about developments in that country: “Brazil Turns to Local Industry to Build Ventilators as China Orders Fall Through”).

Faulty premises undergirding a misguided plea for tolerance would not warrant rebuttal if they were uncommon, but Brownstein’s willingness to speculate about motive, cherry-pick examples, and give Beijing more latitude than President Donald Trump ever would, are in line with the prevailing bias in the mass media. It’s not a good look.

Greatness Agenda

China and the Crisis We Can’t Waste

The CCP’s preferred future is one no American will enjoy.

As more than 70,000 Wuhan virus victims are laid to rest across America, the time will soon come to place the blame squarely where it belongs—on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The media has already chronicled the malign acts of Xi Jinping’s regime, which hid and then minimized the danger of the virus. 

Some authors are already discussing the possibility for legal recourse against the People’s Republic of China (PRC). President Trump, however, should consider implementing a much more robust strategy that punishes the CCP and slows or stops its rise to global preeminence and efforts to remake the world order.

Although criticized by Republicans, Rahm Emanuel’s 2008 observation about the financial crisis was prescient: “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” 

For President Trump, the opportunity exists to arrest the global political and economic shift toward China by using diplomatic, informational, military, and economic tools of state aggressively to turn global opinion and preference back toward the United States and American values. 

First, the president should marshal American diplomacy to convince friends and allies in Asia and around the globe that a passive response to the CCP’s misconduct will only reward the kind of deceit that left several hundred thousand dead and laid waste to national economies around the world. 

There is no better time to turn the suffering and loss of so many into a unified effort against Communist China. A strong diplomatic effort to push back Chinese inroads across the globe will take less effort today that was needed before the pandemic. 

For much of the past 20 years, many in the American foreign policy establishment believed that the United States should support “China’s peaceful rise.” This view was a pipe dream built on hope and butterflies, rather than on a sober understanding of the CCP’s plan for maintaining power. To make China policy, one needs an understanding that the PRC is governed by old school authoritarians who see the United States as a threat that must be dealt with when the time is right.   

Second, the United States should take a whole of government approach to waging information warfare against the Chinese Communist Party in particular. The CCP is taking every opportunity to engage in its own information campaign to undermine the United States and make itself look like both a victim and a savior to other nations struggling with the Wuhan virus. 

Communist China’s widespread effort to use information operations to undermine U.S. interests is not new to the current pandemic. The CCP’s blatant deceit, nevertheless, may finally provide the opportunity President Trump needs to convince his political foes that the CCP is the threat he has long railed against. Perhaps then, the media, government, business, and other players in any information campaign can collaborate long enough to engage in a sustained effort to undermine the positive public opinion the CCP has garnered through its economic outreach over the past decade.  

Third, President Trump aggressively should counter the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) attempt to exploit the pandemic to further exert military power against a democratic Taiwan and in the South China Sea. If the United States allows the CCP to topple forcibly a democratic Taiwanese government, which China intends to do if all else fails, and bring the island nation under the control of an authoritarian communist party, the United States will lose its status as the defender of democracy. 

Finally, the United States must quickly move to open and repair the U.S. economy while using every economic and legal tool possible to prevent the CCP from taking advantage of the economic harm the pandemic has caused in the United States. Moving manufacturing back to the United States, developing new trade agreements with Asian nations, and a willful effort to undermine the CCP’s economic interests should all be considered.

Ronald Reagan used economic tools to undermine the Soviet economy during the Cold War. It is time the United States stop viewing China as a benign government that simply seeks to improve the lives of its people. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

A global order led by an authoritarian PRC undoubtedly will prove hostile to American interests—something China is already working toward. This leaves the United States little choice but to seize the current opportunity to push back the CCP’s efforts to reshape the global balance of power. 

China’s preferred future is one no American will enjoy.    

Greatness Agenda

How a Sensible Great Power Maintains Its Influence

President Trump, contrary to what his opponents think, is following Theodore Roosevelt’s counsel to “speak softly and carry a big stick,” and it is working.

It is not too soon to examine the shifting strategic balance in the world in the light of the unfolding coronavirus crisis and its economic and political consequences.

Though he gets little credit for it—even from his supporters, who tend not to be overly sophisticated foreign policy specialists—President Trump has carefully developed a subtle foreign policy. This policy is based on a definition of America’s interests that is not adventurously overstretched like Lyndon Johnson’s plunge into the ground war in Vietnam or George W. Bush’s energetic support for democracy—even in places like Gaza, Lebanon, and eventually, Egypt, that had little aptitude for it and democratically elected anti-democratic politicians. Nor is Trump’s foreign policy the wavering pacifism and overly earnest pursuit of adversaries as President Obama attempted with Iran.

Trump has revived the concept of nuclear non-proliferation in the case of untrustworthy states (Iran and North Korea) and has left local disputes to be worked out locally, where it wasn’t practical for the United States to maintain force levels adequate to prevail over local balances.

Trump was widely criticized last year when he withdrew a few hundred special forces troops trying to maintain a cordon between the Turkish army and the Kurdish forces. Turkey has a large army and the U.S. presence in Syria had become impractical. The U.S. withdrawal amplified Turkey’s traditional frictions with the Arabs, Russians, and Iranians. The exit also obliged the Kurds, who have been treated badly in Syria and Iraq, to cease their intrusions in Turkey.

The evacuation of the Americans requires the local elements to resolve matters themselves. When they fail to do so, the United States can influence matters with only moderate injections of assistance, which need only very rarely require deployment of ground forces. No one disputes audibly now that it was a good move, although it contributed to James Mattis’s resignation as defense secretary. No one complains about a strong policy toward North Korea or much laments the Iranian nuclear agreement, or the move of the U.S. embassy in Israel, for that matter.

This is how a sensible Great Power maintains its influence, by defending what is important, ignoring what isn’t, avoiding unnecessary confrontations, and sorting out abrasions without humiliating anyone—except where serious provocations require disproportionate responses, as in the execution of Iranian Quds Force  General Qasem Soleimani earlier this year.

Franklin D. Roosevelt concluded that an American presence was required in Western Europe and the Far East to prevent those key regions getting into the hands of enemies of this hemisphere. The resulting policy of “containment” was devised by Roosevelt’s strategic team and executed by President Truman and his successors and imaginatively refined on two occasions. Richard Nixon triangulated Great Power arrangements with his opening of relations with China, and Ronald Reagan pushed to build a comprehensive high-altitude, laser-based, missile defense system which implicitly threatened to undermine the entire Soviet nuclear deterrent capability. The combination of Chinese diplomatic and high-technology military pressure caused the peaceful disintegration of the Soviet Union.

The end of the Cold War left the United States preeminent; but Europe, after some rhetorical posturing, started to make noises of potential rivalry with the United States, though not of hostility. The strength and purposefulness of the leading continental states—France, Germany, and Italy—have deteriorated seriously even since the times of Francois Mitterand, Helmut Kohl, and Silvio Berlusconi just 25 years ago. The Western Alliance, so completely successful while the Soviet Union was a threat, deteriorated into an “alliance of the willing”—that is, countries that would happily accept an American military guarantee but beyond that would decide on a case-by-case basis if they wished to do anything about collective security.

President Trump has had considerable success in extracting larger defense budgets from the slackers in the alliance (meaning almost everyone except the British, Poles, and Estonians) and has advanced in Ukraine the weapons necessary to prevent continued Russian incursions into the former Soviet Union, which President Obama and German Chancellor Merkel had withheld.

Trump quietly blocked Russian expansion west but has not attempted to restrain it from the historically unremitting policy of dabbling in the Middle East. Russia has less than half the population of the old Soviet Union, and a GDP smaller than Canada’s. It is a great nationality and culture that defeated Napoleon and Hitler, and is somewhat sullenly trying to reclaim a status more prestigious than it has earned.

The fraudulent preoccupation of his Democratic enemies with malicious fictions about Trump’s relations with Vladimir Putin have obligated him to move cautiously, but he is careful not to humiliate Russia. The only threat Russia could now pose to the United States would be if the United States faced Russia down so abruptly it was driven into the arms of China. Only in unison would those countries be able to challenge U.S. primacy.

China is becoming technologically and commercially skilled, but it has very few resources. A chronically overaged population is developing after their insane “one-child policy,” and the Chinese are extremely vulnerable to American pressure, both on tariffs and in America’s ability to encourage official Taiwanese separation. Despite its swashbuckling, China is in no position to challenge the United States for mastery in the world’s sea lanes, and China’s neighbors look to America for encouragement. Trump has given it to Japan, India, and others, quietly. Like Japan before World War II, which was importing 85 percent of its oil from the United States while it invaded China and Indochina, China today would be severely compromised if the United States blocked its ability to dump goods in sophisticated markets.

In economic as in other matters, the United States is able to outbid almost any country for the goodwill of a third party, as is demonstrated by the Europeans’ accommodation to American sanctions on Iran, which they opposed. If Russia rented large tracts of Siberia to China to exploit with its surplus manpower (even as its population declines), the northern and eastern vastness of the Eurasian landmass would be in the hands of a power that could mount a serious challenge to U.S. strategic preeminence. President Trump began rebuilding U.S strength with his immense pre-coronavirus economic boom, the elimination of oil imports, renegotiated trade agreements, a reinforced military and shaped-up NATO, swift and strong responses to provocations (as in the Soleimani affair—no disappearing red lines), and orderly withdrawal from areas of imprudent exposure, such as Syria (after the complete destruction of ISIS).

Britain’s withdrawal from Europe, and the European Union’s complete ineffectuality in the coronavirus crisis will have further drained that organization’s political credibility. It is no longer the world’s next superpower-in-waiting and will have great difficulty continuing with the mission of “an ever-closer Europe” with a substantially shriveled mandate to attempt any such thing.

Apart from internal contradictions, the EU’s structure is composed of authoritarian commissioners who are not answerable to the European Parliament of their constituent governments. The departure of Britain, Europe’s most admired nationality, from an integrated Europe to approach tighter arrangements with the United States and Canada is an undoubted shift in the balance of importance of Europe and America in the world. After China, Europe is the big political loser in the coronavirus crisis.

The Chinese misconduct in misleading the world about the coronavirus and negligently facilitating the spread of it to the whole world, will, it appears, be treated subtly by the Trump Administration: it is generating international irritation with China and inflicting, without epithets or grandstanding, precisely the diminution of Chinese prestige to which that ancient nationality is so sensitive.

Trump will not rage or threaten, at least in public. He will maintain correct official relations while new trade arrangements come into effect but will evict China from control of the World Health Organization, and subtly incinerate a good deal of its influence for a time. There is no natural dispute between Russia and the United States, as long as the Russians do not become aggressive in Ukraine or the Balkan states. Trump, contrary to what his opponents think is compulsive behavior for him, is following Theodore Roosevelt’s counsel to “speak softly and carry a big stick,” and it is working.

Greatness Agenda

Chinese Takeout

In 2018, China declared war on the United States. Few Americans are aware of this, and most who are don’t take it seriously. Donald Trump does—and Beijing knows it.

If Donald Trump were not the president, and 2020 not a presidential election year, it would be hard to imagine anything else causing the kind of mass hysteria that surrounds COVID-19.

For Democrats, this is what it’s come to: A last attempt to drive down support for Trump by doing everything they can to heighten public fear of the coronavirus and extend for as long as possible the resulting economic disruption.

As demands to open businesses increase in states around the country, Democrats’ target date for getting Americans back to work is 18 months from now. By which time, they hope, Trump’s plan to restart the economy will have backfired, and they’ll be running what’s left of the country, Green New Deal-style.

China would like nothing better. In October 2018, Chinese President Xi Jinping declared a 30-year war on the United States. When the war is over in 2049, the 100th anniversary of Communist Party rule, China expects to be victorious economically, politically and, if necessary, militarily. This is something about which few Americans are aware, and most who are don’t take it seriously. Donald Trump does—and Beijing knows it.

China must carefully consider “all complex situations,” Xi said at the time, voicing a cryptic note of caution. In the aftermath of COVID-19, as more of China’s secret ambitions are exposed and anti-communist sentiments not heard since the Cold War go public, there could be a lot of “complex situations” for Chinese leaders to consider.

After failing repeatedly, Democrats and their allies think they finally have the perfect one-two combination—spiked Chinese bat flu along with a sci-fi panic attack—for getting rid of Trump and capitalism once and for all.

The Democratic Party, the media and a newly aggressive China have morphed into a single opposition, and the one person capable of rallying the nation to fight back and win is Donald Trump.

Handed a captive audience, thanks to the lockdown, Trump turned his daily White House briefings into must-see TV, sometimes attracting as many viewers as “Monday Night Football.” No other president could do crisis management every evening before a live audience of fake-news flunkies and make it a hit.

Now it’s time for him to bring back “The Apprentice” and start firing people. Beginning with the two doctors of doom, Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx. Both should be relieved of their duties in a way that says the focus is shifting from flattened curves to restoring the economy and cheering on America’s comeback.

Useful COVIDiots

COVID-19 is the most politicized illness in American history. The Trump-deranged media has never hidden which side it’s on, making this one election where a foreign government really is interfering. Newspapers, television networks and platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are onboard and automatically censor anything that contradicts the PRC/Democratic Party line.

Reporters, spouting their usual Chinese propaganda at a recent White House press conference, tried to make it seem as if Trump’s name for the virus was worse than the virus itself.

But while they asked questions designed to make Trump look stupid, he used them to launch a major theme in his reelection campaign.

“Why do you keep calling this the Chinese virus?” one reporter wanted to know. “A lot of people say it’s racist.”

“It’s not racist at all,” said Trump. “It comes from China. Chi-na . . . I want to be accurate.”

Two minutes later another reporter said: “A White House official used the term ‘kung flu,’ referring to the fact that this virus started in China . . . Is that acceptable?”

“Say the term again,” Trump said.

“Kung flu,” the reporter replied. “A person at the White House used the term ‘kung flu’—”

“Just the term,” interrupted Trump.

“Kung flu,” the reporter said again.

“Kung flu?” asked the president, as if he hadn’t heard it the first four times.

“Kung flu,” the reporter repeated. “Do you think that’s wrong? And do you think using the term ‘Chinese virus’ puts Asian-Americans at risk?”

“No. I think they probably would agree with it 100 percent,” Trump said. “It comes from China. What’s not to agree on?

Watching the White House press corps in action is a form of home entertainment for a whole population sheltering in place. There’s more going on here, though, than journalists beclowning themselves

How many people cooped up with just their TVs to amuse them, agreed with what Trump said about China? Or thought the back and forth on “kung flu” (a phrase broadcast six times in the space of 20 seconds) was funny?

And how many sent links to their friends, who sent them to their friends? Thousands . . . millions?

Donald Trump called COVID-19 “the Chinese virus” and got an oblivious reporter to say “kung flu” over and over for the same reason he called Jeb Bush “Low-energy Jeb” and Hillary Clinton “Crooked Hillary” during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Four years ago he started typecasting Bush and Clinton as losers before a single primary voter went to the polls. A similar strategy is underway in the 2020 race, with a special coronavirus twist.

Cold War II

The idea, demonstrated in Trump’s first campaign ad, is to tie the Democratic Party and its assumed nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden (a.k.a. “Quid pro Joe”), to China—make that Communist China—fixing the trio in the minds of voters as a triple threat to the security and wellbeing of the United States and the entire world.

If that sounds familiar to many voters, it should. This is shaping up to be the first replay of a Cold War presidential campaign in over 30 years, with Trump taking on China the same way Ronald Reagan took on the Soviet Union. For another part of the voting public, not around during the actual Cold War, the next several months promise to be an education in what used to be called “East-West confrontation.”

In the eleven Cold War elections held in the United States (1948-1988) the winner was invariably the candidate voters believed would best protect the country from the dangers posed by the Soviet Union and Red China. The only president defeated running for a second term during the Cold War-era was Jimmy Carter, who was seen as weak on defense. The three Republican presidents, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan, all were reelected by wide margins.

Removing any doubts about how the Trump administration sees things, Peter Navarro, White House trade advisor, said in an interview on Fox News, “This is a war . . . a war that China started by spawning this virus.”

Left diplomatically vague is what kind of war Navarro means. Everyone had to see this coming. The Chinese government certainly did. They’ve been preparing for it.

The Great Walmart of China

The first presidential debate of 2016 began with a question from moderator Lester Holt of NBC News, who asked Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump how they planned “to put more money into the pockets of American workers.” Each candidate had two minutes to respond.

Clinton went first, looking supremely confident, as you might expect a former secretary of state to look competing against a one-time New Jersey casino operator.

“Donald, it’s good to be with you,” she said through a forced smile, before reeling off a list of work-related talking points Democrats have been plugging for years: equal pay for women, affordable childcare, paid family leave, employee profit-sharing, debt-free college and raising the minimum wage.

Then it was Trump’s turn.

“Our jobs are fleeing the country,” he said. “Look at what China’s doing . . . and we have nobody in our government to fight them.”

That got Hillary’s attention. What the hell does Donald know about China? He was never secretary of state. She was.

“China’s using us as a piggy bank to rebuild China, and many other countries are doing the same thing,” Trump went on. “We’re losing our good jobs, so many of them, leaving Michigan, leaving Ohio. We have to stop jobs from being stolen. Stop our companies from leaving the United States.”

Long before getting into politics, Trump complained that China was robbing the United States blind. Now he was accusing Clinton and the Washington establishment of stripping American workers of their livelihoods by letting China take their jobs.

Hillary denied everything, and, with a nervous smirk in Trump’s direction, said her opponent “lives in his own reality.”

Tens of millions of voters disagreed. Trump was describing their reality, and they believed him when he promised big changes.

Kung Fu Fighting

As president, Trump grew the American economy in ways few thought possible. He made the United States oil independent, replaced NAFTA with the USMCA trade deal he negotiated with Canada and Mexico, and dramatically cut federal regulations. At the same time, the stock market rose to record highs, and unemployment fell to historic lows.

Trump also imposed stiff tariffs on China for failing to live up to its fair-trade agreement with the United States and for its continued theft of U.S. intellectual property. With globalists in an uproar the president held firm. Eventually, China agreed to spend more money on goods made in America, but U.S.-China relations remained tense.

In June 2019, pro-democracy protests began in Hong Kong. Demonstrations drew hundreds and then thousands of people, closing whole sections of the city. Officials in Beijing used organized crime gangs, called triads, to rough up participants, with little effect. What made matters worse, demonstrators were shown in news reports waving American flags and carrying signs that read: “Make Hong Kong Great” and “Donald Trump, Please Liberate Hong Kong.”

It’s easy to guess what China’s leadership was thinking. The democracy protesters were not only challenging the authority of the Chinese Communist Party, they were hailing Trump as a hero for standing up to China’s rulers. If demonstrations like these ever reached the Chinese mainland, the party would have a problem on its hands.

In late November, Trump signed into law the Human Rights and Democracy Act, authorizing the State Department to conduct an annual review to make sure China wasn’t interfering with Hong Kong’s guaranteed autonomy.

Trump said he was enacting the law in the hope “China and Hong Kong will be able to amicably settle their differences leading to long-term peace and prosperity for all.”

That’s not what happened. China’s foreign ministry was outraged, saying “countermeasures” were being considered. “This so-called legislation will only raise awareness of the sinister intentions and hegemonic nature of the U.S. The U.S. plot is doomed.”

On Thanksgiving in the United States, huge crowds gathered in Hong Kong to thank Trump, as the “Star-Spangled Banner” played over loudspeakers. Some people held pictures showing the president’s head superimposed on the muscular torso of Sylvester Stallone in “Rocky III.” The image was considered a joke by much of the American media. In China, it sent a serious message to the politburo from the city that gave the world Kung Fu movies! Trump was fighting for Hong Kong in the ancient and honored Chinese tradition of youxia, using his power to help people in need.

No matter how much the Democratic Party hates Donald Trump, the Chinese Communist Party hates him more.

Three days later, in Wuhan, according to Chinese sources, the first case COVID-19 was reported. It would be more than a month—as the government stockpiled medical supplies in advance of an expected pandemic—before the rest of the world was warned.

By then, the coronavirus had arrived in Hong Kong. The city shut down and democracy protests ended

Motive, Means, and Opportunity

Whether China released COVID-19 on purpose—reliable accounts say it came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology—or it escaped from a lab by accident, the Chinese government hid the truth about the deadly virus until it was too late.

Two years into its stealth war with the United States, it’s hard to believe China didn’t see at least some strategic advantage in keeping quiet.

If so, was putting a stop to Hong Kong’s democracy demonstrations part of a plan, or an added benefit of human error? With a population of 1.8 billion to manage, China’s rulers can always afford to lose some inhabitants to a virus. What they can’t afford to lose is power.

The Chinese Communist Party has always regarded the United States as Enemy No. 1. For decades, successive presidential administrations have overlooked that rather significant fact for the sake of doing business with China. Beijing’s role in the coronavirus pandemic (with an assist from the corrupt World Health Organization) makes it impossible for Washington to ignore China’s not-so-hidden agenda. In March, the Chinese government removed any doubts, by threatening to drown America in “the mighty sea of coronavirus” by halting the export of needed medicines that used to be made in the United States, but now come from China.

Back to the Future

Less than six months before a presidential election COVID-19 has made Donald Trump a “crisis” president.

Instead of coasting to victory in November on the strength of his economic record, he will need to deal effectively with the coronavirus, revive the economy—for a second time—and confront the most formidable foreign policy challenge since Ronald Reagan was president.

In fact, Trump’s run for a second term in 2020 is a virtual playback of Reagan’s 1984 campaign. The similarities between the two men and their races, including the Cold War overtones, are uncanny.

Reagan was 73, so is Trump. Reagan ran against his predecessor’s vice president, just as Trump is doing. Both were Washington outsiders and former Democrats, who previously worked in the entertainment industry.

They also share two qualities—determination and resilience—particularly suited to campaigning in times of crisis. Reagan was an optimist and a fighter with a unique ability to communicate his ideas to voters. Trump has the same traits, using Twitter to connect with his millions of followers. And no politician in America can fill stadiums—and their parking lots—with supporters the way he does.

The major issues in 1984 were the economy, Soviet Communism, and nuclear weapons. The major issues in 2020 are the economy, Chinese Communism, and biological weapons.

Thirty-six years ago, the Soviet Union didn’t produce anything American consumers wanted to buy. Today, almost everything they buy comes from China. In 1984, most Americans rejected communism. Not so today. Until last month, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), an avowed socialist, was in line to be the Democratic presidential nominee.

With the arrival of the coronavirus, however, every American understands the kind of large-scale suffering a communist regime can inflict. The latest Gallup poll shows 67 percent of Americans now view China unfavorably, and only 33 percent favorably. China’s unfavorable numbers are sure to go up in the months ahead.

What Would Reagan Do? 

When Ronald Reagan ran against Walter Mondale in 1984, he made Jimmy Carter’s vice president look inexperienced, out of his depth (like his boss) in foreign affairs, and too liberal to be trusted in a faceoff with the Kremlin.

As for Joe Biden, whenever China comes up in the 2020 campaign, so will his son Hunter’s lucrative arrangement with two Chinese investment firms, both tied to the state-run Bank of China.

Given his mental slippage, Biden would never be able to debate Trump, or anyone else, on the issues. If, for any reason, he’s replaced on the ticket, it will only increase the public’s distrust of the Democratic Party for manipulating the nomination in 2020, as it did 2016.

Trump didn’t come up the hard way, as Reagan did, but he became a multi-billionaire in the hardest place in the world to make money, New York City commercial real estate. What better preparation could there be for dealing with ruthless dictators? Trump has already proven he’s a tougher negotiator with China’s leaders than any previous president.

Reagan survived being shot early in his first term and came back to make history by ending the Cold War. During his first term Trump withstood a three-year attempted coup by Democrats and their co-conspirators in government and the media. And, let’s not forget, Joe Biden may have been in on the plot.

Meanwhile, Trump produced the greatest economy the nation had ever seen. There’s no reason to believe he can’t do it again.

The People’s Republic of China will be a major, maybe the major, campaign issue. Despite an extended period of state-controlled prosperity, due to global outsourcing, a built-in culture of corruption has always made lying, cheating, and stealing merely business as usual in communist China. In the case of COVID-19, China’s duplicity was so blatant and the results so catastrophic, its top officials can expect Trump, joined by other world leaders, to come after them with multi-trillion-dollar damage claims.

By starting the process of economic disengagement from China and spearheading the drive to put maximum international pressure on the Chinese government to pay up, Trump has an opportunity to duplicate what Reagan achieved during the Cold War.

At this point the only thing that can save the Chinese Communist Party from a reckoning long overdue is a Democrat in the White House.

Because of the coronavirus, the 2020 campaign will be a debate about political systems, economics and national security, issues that play to the strengths that helped Trump win in 2016. And, as president, he can use campaign events, as Reagan did, to spell out the options in language every voter understands.

Will the United States be held hostage and eventually dominated by China and its Democratic Party collaborators, or will it “Stay the course,” as Reagan put it?

If the Democrats take over, the answer is obvious. Welcome to the United Socialist States of America (USSA), a wholly owned subsidiary of Communist China.

Shortly after Reagan’s second inauguration, Mikhail Gorbachev was appointed general secretary of the Soviet Union, the “evil empire’s” eighth and final leader. Later, Reagan was asked if Gorbachev’s reform-minded approach to communism had changed his strategic thinking about the Cold War. “No,” he said. “Here’s my strategy: We win. They lose.”

Elections are about the future, and everything is riding on this one. Until November, here’s something to keep in mind: Ronald Reagan never lost a presidential election . . . and neither has Donald Trump.

Greatness Agenda

Terrorism and China’s Coronavirus

By restricting domestic travel but allowing international travel from Wuhan to the rest of the World, Beijing satisfied the key elements of any reasonable definition of terrorism.

Before I became a proud American citizen, I always saw one of the key characteristics of the American people as an innate common sense. America is a country, for the most part, made up of pragmatists who see the world for how it truly is. This was only reaffirmed for me once I took the oath of allegiance during my naturalization ceremony, and was further reinforced for me recently by a caller to my radio show who made a fascinating observation about the Chinese Coronavirus.

Context first. I have been interested in national security for a long time. Back in the early 1990s, half as the result of a dare in college, I went on a selection weekend for the British Army Intelligence Corps reserves (what used to be called the Territorial Army). Despite being a long-haired philosophy and theology student—yes a drastic haircut was imminent—I loved the experience, passed the selection, and joined this military subculture of eccentric linguists, interrogators, photographic interpreters, and tactical intelligence professionals.

Later, after the fall of Communism, I would translate that experience into a job working in the first freely-elected Conservative government in Hungary. My father had escaped a political prison during the Revolution of 1956 and three decades later I found myself in Budapest working in the Ministry of Defense on Hungary’s accession to NATO.

Later came a stint at the RAND Corporation’s offices in Washington, D.C., years of writing for the Jane’s Information Group of military publications in the UK, and then 9/11 happened. I had studied and published on terrorism in the past but that day irrevocably changed my life’s path, and eventually would propel me to a position at the White House 15 years later.

As part of the response to al-Qaeda’s devastating attacks in New York and Washington, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict established a program to bring senior counterterrorism operators from around the world, to network and study terrorism together and so “create a network to destroy a network.”

This is how I would end up working for legendary Marine and former CIA paramilitary operations officer, Colonel Nick Pratt, as one of his faculty members on the Program for Terrorism and Security Studies. What ensued was a series of very intense courses, which over the years would see hundreds of national security professionals come together to understand the new type of terrorism the world faced in the form of al-Qaeda, and brainstorm the most effective ways to vanquish it. And I was happy to admit to those operators that I learned as much from our “students” as they did from their professors.

Crucial to our work together was our ability to establish a baseline for our work, to be able to agree on what exactly terrorism is and how it differs from other forms of deliberate and organized violence. As a result, I came to understand what groups like al-Qaeda, and later ISIS, were doing as ‘the organized use of violence by illegitimate sub-state actors against groups unable to adequately defend themselves with the strategic intent to change a legitimate political system or force its representatives to change their policies for political, ideological, or religious objectives.” Only in this way could terrorism be meaningfully differentiated from other forms of functional violence, including freedom fighters, organized crime cartels, war crimes, or conventional warfare using uniformed militaries.

But that was then. We are living in the age of coronavirus now.

Recently, on my radio show “AMERICA First,” deep into the virus-induced national lockdown, one of our listeners called in to say that what China has perpetrated against the world is in fact terrorism.

At first, I wanted to say no, especially because that didn’t match my understanding of terrorism, one that I had arrived at over years and years of study and deliberation with some of the most effective counterterrorism professionals from around the world.

China clearly isn’t al-Qaeda or the Provisional IRA. It’s not the Hezbollah, or the Basque separatists of ETA. But could what they have done be labeled terrorism? Since that call,  increasingly I have come to believe that yes, it can.

And it should be.

We do not know if COVID-19 was man-made in the Wuhan virology lab, the only Level 4 biodefense facility in Communist China. Was it a modified version of the SARS-related coronavirus carried by bats that was being researched at the lab? We likely will never know as Beijing has destroyed much of the evidence related to the genesis of COVID-19. But based upon the best-documented evidence we do have available to date, including a groundbreaking documentary from the Epoch Times, we can state many things as fact.

After the novel Coronavirus escaped—or was released—from the Wuhan lab, the Chinese government:

  • Denied an outbreak had happened.
  • When it was clear one had, denied that the disease was transmissible by human to human contact.
  • Intimidated, arrested and disappeared journalists and scientists who revealed that a new human-transmissible virus was plaguing Wuhan.
  • Ordered multiple genomic labs to destroy early samples of COVID-19.
  • Cleared, disinfected, and closed the Wuhan wet market without taking any blood samples from employees or livestock.
  • Censored the Chinese internet to remove mention of “Wuhan unknown pneumonia,” “SARS variation,” “Wuhan market,” and related keywords and phrases critical of the government’s handling of the infection.
  • Allowed upwards of 5 million Wuhan residents to travel abroad after it was clear that an outbreak had occurred.
  • Instructed government officials, including accredited ambassadors, to participate in an international disinformation and propaganda campaign blaming America for COVID-19 and accusing the U.S. military of bringing the virus to China.

All of these things actually happened and you don’t need a clearance to access the proof that they did. And whether or not the original Wuhan virus was engineered and deliberately released, or spread as the result of accidental contamination of a lab worker is irrelevant. China must be judged according to what it did after the release: by restricting domestic travel but allowing international travel from Wuhan to the rest of the world, Beijing satisfied the key elements of any reasonable definition of terrorism.

No, the Communist government is not a sub-state actor using violence to realize its self-determination, or some organization with a religiously defined apocalyptic end-state it wishes to realize through its attacks on innocents. But by allowing Chinese citizens to seed the world with a deadly virus that has taken more American lives in just four months than all the years of the Vietnam War, Xi Jinping’s government has deliberately targeted civilians for death.

America has to get back to work now. Never before has so much damage been done to our citizens and our national economy in such a short period of time. Now the question is, are we prepared to call what Beijing did by its real name and make our enemy pay the requisite price?

Greatness Agenda

It’s Time to Boycott China

To ensure we recover from this virus, we must do two things: Wash our hands and wash our hands of China.

President Trump says he expects China will pay a “substantial” amount of money for damages caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

You can’t help but suspect the Chinese Communist Party deliberately withheld crucial information and hoarded protective supplies needed to prepare for the virus in order to wreak maximum damage both mortal and material on the West.

When asked if he will submit a bill as Germany has done, Trump demurred, saying “We have ways of doing things much easier than that.”

You bet we do.

Consider: Every dollar the CCP would possibly pay us in damages would be a dollar we gave them in the first place.

We can save ourselves the trouble of trying to collect the bill by not sending them the money in the first place.

Let’s say it out loud: Boycott China.

China’s Communist dictators have been waging economic warfare against us for decades, launching missiles from their mines, mills, and factories in an attack that has destroyed our industries as effectively as any precision-guided munitions.

Now the pandemic has wrought further destruction.

They have succeeded in effectively stopping our way of life. We can’t let them do that again.

How?

Just as the CCP has waged economic warfare against the United States, we can do the same.

The Chinese Communist Party lives off the money we send them, and we send them a lot.

We should stop sending them our money. Americans should boycott China.

Our government should boycott the CCP.

The U.S. government contributes to the World Bank, which still gives China billions. Until recently we funded the World Health Organization, Beijing’s puppet. We fund scientific research in China. The NIH even funded bat virus research in Wuhan after it was banned in the United States (What could possibly go wrong with that? Oh wait, we found out.)

Wall Street should boycott the CCP.

Wall Street steers billions to CCP-controlled companies listed on U.S. exchanges. It helps CCP-controlled entities sell securities in the United States. Billions flow through index funds that include shares of Chinese companies. Pension funds from California to Iowa have staked the retirement savings of Americans on these dodgy investments.

The finance guys overseeing the federal Thrift Savings Plan—the 401(k) plan for military personnel and federal workers—want to invest billions in the MSCI Emerging Markets Fund, home to a roster of Chinese companies that manufacture weapons, cyber-espionage tools and surveillance gear for the CCP.

Corporate America should boycott the CCP.

President Trump warned American companies to get out of China years ago. When he slapped a tariff on China imports, supposedly American companies did Beijing’s lobbying and squealed like stuck pigs. Everyone from Bible publishers to shoe salesmen pleaded penury and predicted doom if the tariffs weren’t lifted immediately.

Had they diversified their supply chains as President Trump advised, we wouldn’t be in the situation we’re in today, depending on a hostile regime for the goods we need to save our lives.

And each one of us has a part to play, too.

When we say boycott China, we are telling the CCP the American people are on to you. We know the dollars we send to Beijing are used to bury us.

When we say boycott China we are telling American-in-name-only companies to get out of China—now. Whenever there is an alternative to “Made in China,” we will take it. We can buy New Balance athletic shoes instead of Nikes. We can buy from our local farmer or Hormel instead of Smithfield. We don’t have to upgrade our iPhone until Tim Cook stops funding the CCP’s techno-totalitarian dystopia. We’re telling GM don’t import Envision SUVs from China. We’re telling Twitter to deplatform CCP propaganda mouthpieces, not Americans.

When we say boycott China, we are telling Washington to stop sending our tax dollars to our mortal enemy—no excuses. We are telling stand-up elected officials like Senators Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), and President Trump we have their backs. And we’re telling the others to stop peddling excuses, get a backbone, and stand up for America. Don’t let the Chinese Communists control our food (Smithfield), our media (AMC theaters, Universal, Disney, Hollywood), our energy, and our technology (Huawei, Lenovo).

When we say boycott China, we are telling the CCP’s apologists in big media, big banks, big corporations and the Washington swamp who sold out America and her people—time’s up.

Our first war of independence began with boycotts of British goods following the Stamp Act, the Townshend Act, and the Tea Act.

The American Founders understood that America would not be independent if we relied on other nations for our manufactured goods.

With this boycott let us declare our independence from the tyrants of Beijing and the tyranny of globalism that brought us to the current impasse.

We can, we must, and we will stop giving China’s dictators our money.

To ensure we recover from this virus, we must do two things: Wash our hands and wash our hands of China.

Greatness Agenda

President Trump’s Go-Kart Executive Order on Immigration

President Trump’s Immigration executive order falls woefully short, but he has 30 days to make things right.

Imagine a car salesman selling you a Lamborghini and delivering a go-kart instead. That’s what the last week has felt like.

We were thrilled to see President Trump’s tweet saying he would suspend immigration into the country to protect American workers as the Chinese coronavirus ravages the economy. Not only would such a desperately needed pause on immigration be popular with about 80 percent of the American people, it would also stand on strong legal footing. Keep in mind that the Supreme Court reaffirmed the president’s authority to do such a thing in 2018.

Sounds great, right? Not so fast. The alarm went off here in the swamp, as administration officials and lobbyists seem to have convinced the president to place the wishes of business interests over American workers.

Sadly, the executive order he ended up signing last Wednesday does not deliver for the 26 million Americans who have lost their jobs since March 21. Instead, it contains massive exemptions and is designed to satisfy powerful business interests that value a steady flow of cheap foreign labor.

Not only does the exemption-filled executive order apply to less than 10 percent of immigrants according to FAIR’s analysis, it completely ignores what is arguably the largest component of foreign-born impact on the welfare of American workers: out of control guest-worker programs including H-1B, H-2A, and H-2B. These programs contribute to a yearly flow of around 1 million foreign workers, many of whom stay for years while occupying jobs that could be held by Americans.

Fact is, guest-worker programs have spun completely out of control and do a world of harm to American workers. The damage is exacerbated as we inch closer to Great Depression levels of unemployment.

Under what craven notion of American equity would the United States continue a subordinated labor importation program at a time when American workers are in such distress? The optics are devastating—we are becoming a two-class society, with a servant caste relegated to guestworker status continuing apace while Americans search desperately for employment.

Despite what some advisers within the president’s orbit tell him, the fact that Democrats have abandoned core common sense on immigration controls also doesn’t mean a capitulation on the issue won’t have consequences affecting voter enthusiasm come November. The American public understands that a meaningful pause of immigration must include all immigrants, especially guest workers.

So what should the president do? It’s simple. A new executive order could be issued to include all forms of immigration, including guest-worker programs, which would help Americans currently out of the labor force to come back in now and when the economy finally starts to recover.

The executive order explicitly leaves this door open, with a section saying that in the next 30 days, the secretaries of state, labor, and homeland security must “review [guestworker programs] and recommend to me other measures appropriate to stimulate the United States economy and ensure the prioritization, hiring and employment of United States workers.”

American workers are counting on administration officials and the president himself to quit placating business interests and make things right. The clock is ticking.

Greatness Agenda

Moratorium Interruptus

What should the president do now about his executive order for an immigration moratorium? The system needs to start working for American workers.

President Trump tweeted last week that he was going to temporarily halt immigration, but the actual order (technically a presidential proclamation) was something of a dud.

It did put down, in official black and white, that too much immigration is bad for American workers. Given that we’re reenacting the Great Depression, it’s not like this should be controversial.

But it is—at least among the swamp lobbyists who mobilized after the president’s tweet and made sure the final product didn’t cramp the style of corporate users of cheap foreign labor. As a result, the supposedly worker-focused order from the White House didn’t do much of anything about the visa programs that import new foreign workers.

All is not lost, though! The president’s proclamation did say he was instructing the relevant departments to present recommendations to him in 30 days regarding those foreign-worker programs for a possible follow-up order (which he hinted at in a press briefing).

Here are some measures that should be included in those recommendations.

Suspend the H-1B Program

The H-1B visa is supposed to be for the temporary admission of skilled workers. Due to the Orwellian nature of our immigration system, these workers are neither especially skilled, nor really temporary.

Each year the program admits 85,000 people, mostly from India, to do routine computer work; in addition, universities can import an unlimited number. Because the visa can be indefinitely renewed, there are well over half a million H-1Bs here at any given time and at this point probably closer to a million, though the government won’t say how many.

There are two reasons employers find the program attractive: first, H-1Bs are cheap. Second, they are “loyal”—which is to say they are effectively indentured to their employers. This is because, while they are technically permitted to change employers, they almost never do because they want to be sponsored for a green card by that employer and, if they changed jobs, they’d have to start over on the years-long green card process.

Despite tendentious claims by tech lobbyists, the H-1B program is intentionally used to replace employed Americans. The most notorious instance of this was at Disney, which fired its American IT staff and forced them to train their (not-especially-competent) H-1B replacements as a condition of receiving severance payments. But this is not an isolated event: hundreds of companies have done this, and it’s entirely legal

Until Congress abolishes, or at least radically reforms, this anti-American-worker program, the president can at least put it on hold until the unemployment rate is back to pre-Wuhan levels.

Work Permits for H-1B Spouses? 

It’s not clear why “temporary” workers like H-1Bs are even allowed to bring family members with them, but they are. But until the Obama Administration, spouses weren’t given work permits, and the law still does not provide employment authorization to what are known as H-4 visa holders.

As a sop to the tech companies, who wanted to make being an H-1B more attractive, the Obama Administration gave certain spouses work permits through regulation—there may be 75,000 of these temporary foreign workers. A new regulation unwinding the dubious Obama rule was submitted to the White House more than one year ago for approval—and there it sits. This doesn’t even require a Presidential Proclamation—just a call from the Oval Office to the Office of Management and Budget to approve the rule for publication in the Federal Register.

Optional Practical ‘Training’

Another made-up foreign worker program to which Congress never consented is the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program. In fact, it’s one of the largest guest-worker programs, with more than 300,000 participants.

It started as a one-year internship program for just-graduated foreign students. Near the end of the George W. Bush Administration, Microsoft lobbyists cooked up a scheme to turn OPT into a full-fledged guest-worker program. Now foreign students who majored in a STEM field (science, technology, engineering, math) and have graduated—thus completing the purpose for which they were allowed to come here—can masquerade as continuing students for three more years, but instead of studying, they’re working at companies in hopes of being sponsored for an H-1B visa.

Next month hundreds of thousands of young Americans will be graduating from college and will start looking for work in the worst job market in their (or their parents’ and maybe even their grandparents’) lifetimes. The foreign students graduating at the same time should not be able to stay and compete with them for employment. Ending this ridiculous program can be done through regulation, but in the meantime, the president should pause it until the Wuhan depression is over.

Suspend the H-2B Program

Those are a few of the white-collar programs the president should pause in his follow-on proclamation. What about programs importing foreign workers to compete with blue-collar Americans?

The H-2B program is for less-skilled seasonal work that isn’t in agriculture. It’s capped at 66,000 foreign workers per year, about half in landscaping, with most of the rest in forestry, amusement parks, meat-processing, and housekeeping. These are not “jobs Americans won’t do”: around two-thirds of landscaping and meat-packing jobs are done by native-born Americans, as are three-quarters of forestry jobs and 90 percent of carnival employees. Even among maids and housekeepers, about half are native-born.

These visas are released in two seasonal batches, half in the spring, half in the fall; the president should suspend the fall visas. And there’s some indication he might do so, since a planned increase of 35,000 visas (authorized but not mandated by Congress) was canceled at the last minute earlier this month—by, I’m told, the direct intervention of the president, since DHS Secretary Chad Wolf, unbelievably, was going to let it proceed.

Summer Work Travel

The last of the foreign worker programs I’ll mention (there are lots more) is the Summer Work Travel program. It’s labeled as a “cultural exchange” program but is really just for cheap labor. It imports more than 100,000 foreign college students each year to work mainly in the kind of summer jobs American teens used to be hired for. Whatever the cultural exchange value of such a program, under current conditions it cannot be allowed to operate. A Pulitzer Prize-winning colleague of mine prepared a widely reported exposé of the program, one installment of which began like this:

As the 2011 summer season in the beach resort town of Ocean City, Md., wound down in early September, a server at the Fish Tales Restaurant told of observing the bewilderment of job-seeking young Americans as they encounter the power of the Summer Work Travel (SWT) program.

“American kids will come in May when the season is just getting started, and we tell them, ‘Sorry, we’re all full,’” said Trina Warner. “And they say, ‘Already?’ They have no idea that foreign students have already been hired,” she said.

Then she added, “They don’t know how the system works.”

The system needs to start working for American workers. And until thoroughgoing reforms can be passed through Congress, the president needs to suspend these and all other programs that import foreign workers to compete with Americans for the duration of the current economic crisis. He stumbled last week, but he has another chance.

Greatness Agenda

Globalism Delenda Est

The fall election is President Trump’s to win or lose. If he puts America and Americans first while calling for the destruction of globalism with the same repetitive fervor that Marcus Porcius Cato called for the destruction of Carthage, he will most likely win.

Nothing, not even a pandemic, will dissuade the people who brought us globalization to modify, halt, or roll back the decisions they have made for us. As I was scrolling through Twitter, I came across these gems. First, there was this tweet from the George W. Bush Presidential Center. It links to an article which tells us that calling for Americans to start to “Make it here at home” has a nice ring to it, but we must have no illusions: “Restricting trade and using taxes, tariffs and subsidies to manipulate the market can only be done by dramatically reducing freedom. That path leads to poverty.”

Quite the curious statement from an institution representing the man whose administration admitted China to the World Trade Organization (WTO)—a nation that has built its economic and geopolitical strength by using currency manipulation and subsidies to capture international markets. Since China’s accession to the WTO, American workers—largely lower-income Americans—lost almost 4 million jobs between 2001 and 2018.

Does former President Bush or the author of the article have any suggestions for concrete and effective steps to build anti-fragility into the American economy for the future? None. Just more nostrums about “spreading freedom” from the presidential center of a guy who led this nation into two ongoing wars that sent our best sons and daughters to get shot up by Islamist savages.

In other words, failed “wars to spread democracy” that replaced secular dictators with failed states, while racking up trillions in debt for future generations. The Bush Administration wanted the younger generation to accept job losses, trillions in debt, ongoing wars, and now their acolytes want to shill for Chinese mercantilism while dubbing it “free trade”?

Adding his voice to the growing chorus trying to stem the tide anti-globalist opinion, we have former President Jimmy Carter decrying President Trump’s decision to halt American funding to the World Health Organization (WHO). That’s right; the same WHO that said there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission of coronavirus back in mid-January. The same WHO run by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, an Ethiopian apparatchik best known for covering up cholera epidemics before the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) pushed for him to be made director-general of the WHO.

Tedros is a former “health official” in the regime of Ethiopian Marxist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam. From the onset of the pandemic, he was out in front praising Communist China for its “response” to the coronavirus (which we now know included imprisoning and gagging whistleblowers).

During the Red Chinese “response” that came before the total lockdown of Hubei province, millions of people fled while the CCP denied, downplayed, and dawdled. According to a study by the University of Southampton in Great Britain, “if interventions in [China] could have been conducted one week, two weeks, or three weeks earlier, cases could have been reduced by 66 percent, 86 percent and 95 percent respectively—significantly limiting the geographical spread of the disease.”

But ChiCom bumbling failed. And now the whole world is paying the price.

These recent comments show us one major fact: the globalist establishment controls major parts of both political parties. Globalism has shown an almost preternatural ability to limp on after setbacks.

The list grows with each passing year: the 1997 East Asian financial crisis, the 2000 tech bubble, the ongoing wars to spread “democracy” in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now the failed states of Syria and Libya, the 2008 financial crisis, and now this pandemic. Yet the survival of globalization is only maintained with greater and greater efforts each time it systematically fails us all.

Continuing to trust these failed globalist policies and failed globalist politicians will be a tremendous mistake. President Trump’s great opportunity and challenge is to convince the American people that globalism spread this virus throughout the world.

It is his job to show that the dalliances of so-called American corporations who have made huge profits from China’s economic policy have led us to this situation where we cannot even provide basic personal protective equipment for our own people. It is his job to show that it was their inveterate lobbying and advocacy of outsourcing that brought us here. It is his job to attack and isolate the globalist media who have carried water for those corrupt politicians and Wall Streeters.

It is his job to attack and isolate those degenerate “artists” in Hollywood and our degenerate makers of “popular culture” for their non-stop praise for and submission to globalism. It is his job to attack and isolate the money-hungry universities for allowing themselves to be filled to the gills with CCP students instead of worthy Americans. It is his job to attack the corporations that prostituted themselves out to make quick bucks in China in exchange for handing out access to American technology.

We are seeing the crystallization of the Chinese Communist Regime as the leading world advocate for globalism; and we see that they are supported by all the “elite” institutions in America, fellow travellers who are more citizens of the world than they are citizens of the United States of America. This crisis presents an opportunity to isolate all of them and force our own traitorous elites to prove that they are not, in fact, merely globalists complicit in policy that would advance Maoist hegemony world wide.

It’s time to use the Rules for Radicals against the globalist radicals who have spent the last fifty years undermining the United States. The focus this summer and fall should draw from Alinsky’s Rules and weaponize them against the defenders and advocates of globalism.

Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” That means President Trump and populist Republicans should never pass up an opportunity to ridicule globalism for being the death cult it truly is. It means never letting up on demonstrating its manifold hypocrisies, its will to dominate. Instead of responding to their criticisms of us, we should shrug our shoulders and stay on queue, never letting up on ridiculing the contradictions of globalism and the disasters it invariably brings.

A good tactic is one your people enjoy.” This is why it is vital for President Trump to continue holding his press conferences and to keep tweeting away. The president’s supporters love it when he attacks these cosmopolitans who have ridiculed us throughout our times in primary school, secondary school, in the university, in the songs the radio plays, in the movies that people watch. Now they have someone who hits back and this is why the globalist Left and Right hate the president so much. The old paradigm of pliant Republicans and respectable Democrats bending the knee to social radicals and open borders corporatism is over. It needs to stay over.

Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” It is the job of conservatives from the top down to continue to attack all of the institutions that the globalists have captured and work to turn the various constituencies therein against each other. This is very easy; from here on out, every policy should be crafted to force our traitorous elites to tip their hand by either defending Americanism or by defending Communist China, the proxy for globalism: schools, universities, mainstream media, movies, and music all need to be backed into a corner.

Trump and Republican leaders’ job is to force elites to choose one or the other: will it be America First or globalism? Even if we cannot win every successive battle, the more Americans can be awakened to the fact that these institutions are largely populated by upper class elites whose loyalty is not to this country, the easier it will be to isolate and marginalize them from continuing to control the hearts and minds of those Americans whose loyalty is to our country.

The sooner Americans come to view all of these institutions as an illegitimate, occupying force with a will contrary to American interests, the better.

The coming election this fall is President Trump’s to win or lose. If he puts America and Americans first while calling for the destruction of globalism with the same repetitive fervor that Marcus Porcius Cato called for the destruction of Carthage he will most likely win. It’s that simple. In 149 B.C. Cato the Elder’s slogan was Carthago delenda est—“Carthage must be destroyed.” Today, our slogan should be Globalism delenda est—Globalism must be destroyed.

Greatness Agenda

Iran’s Space Threat is the Problem

One can expect Iran to launch many more satellites into orbit over the next year or so to complete the constellation it is developing. At that point, both North Korea and Iran would have the capability to threaten the technological American military with certain defeat.

The Trump Administration has issued an edict to the U.S. Navy: sink any Iranian vessel that harasses U.S. warships operating near Iran. The last two American presidents had to deal with Iranian brinkmanship at sea. Yet, never before has the White House given such an explicit order.

What changed?

First, the coronavirus pandemic not only has crippled the United States, it also has eviscerated the leadership of Iran, which already was grappling with an economic decline caused by the sanctions imposed by the Trump Administration for its wanton pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Second, as the global price of oil collapses, Iran’s economy is suffering even more than it already was (oil is a key commodity for Iran). This creates a negative feedback loop, making Iranian aggression more likely in the region.

Third, Iranian aggression against American forces in the region not only is on the rise, but Iran passed a major milestone recently: the country has placed its first indigenously produced satellite into orbit. Many believe that the satellite launch was merely cover for the testing of an Iranian ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear payload over any target in the world.

This is certainly a possibility.

But there’s something more to this launch that has American strategists concerned beyond the expected concern over Iran progressing in the critical domain of reliable ballistic missile capabilities.

More Than a Nuclear Threat

Iranian space capabilities pose two additional threats for the United States and its allies: First, Iran can now place surveillance and communications satellites in orbit that will give Iranian forces operating on the ground, at sea, and in the air greater situational awareness. As Tehran aggressively pursues its grand strategy of regional hegemony, such capabilities will be key, particularly as Iran faces advanced foes in the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Israel—all of which have access to space capabilities that Iran has otherwise lacked.

Second, there is the added threat of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapons. The threat of EMP to undefended US systems, such as radios and early warning radar, was first discovered during a US military high-altitude nuclear weapons test over the Johnston Atoll in the Pacific Ocean in 1962. An EMP blast is a non-lethal and devastating way to cripple the electronics of a rival. Most American electronic systems, civilian and military alike, are undefended against EMP attack. While the Ayatollah of Iran has long argued against using nuclear weapons in a first strike against Iranian adversaries, he has condoned the creation and use of EMP weapons as “Sharia approved” bombs. In 2010, for example, Iran’s military doctrine was updated to include the use of EMP weapons against the Americans and their allies should conflict between the West and Iran erupt.

American foes have determined that our greatest strength is also our greatest weakness. On our own, the United States (and its allies, like Israel) are high-tech powers whose militaries are unstoppable. We proved this in Desert Storm. This is why American rivals from China to Russia to Iran and North Korea have embraced asymmetrical warfare methods as a way of undermining America’s otherwise overwhelming military dominance. By effectively “turning off” the power on the U.S. military and its allies, in the way an EMP would do, Iran suddenly would be facing an American force that is disjointed, disabled, and demoralized. And since the fighting would be closer to Iranian territory, suddenly the Iranian forces would enjoy significant advantages.

The EMP Threat

Last year, I cautioned about the possibility that North Korea may have spent the last decade seeding Earth orbit with EMP bombs in anticipation of holding the world hostage. We know that Iran and North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs are aligned closely—and EMP capability is an outgrowth of those programs—so Iran, like North Korea before it, may have just weaponized space. One can expect Iran to launch many more satellites into orbit over the next year or so to complete the constellation it is developing. At that point, both North Korea and Iran would have the capability to threaten the American military with certain technological defeat.

The fact that Iran has named their first satellite, “Noor,” (meaning “Light” in Farsi) should concern us. North Korea named their satellite constellation “Brilliant Star.” While these might be fanciful names for satellites, they could also be indicative of a dark sense of humor among our foes.

Even if the Iranian satellite is not an EMP weapon, the capabilities it and similar systems will be able to provide Iran’s growing military threat in the region is a game-changer. I believe that Iran’s space threat, more than any other part of Iran’s ongoing threat to the United States and its allies, is why the White House has issued its shoot-to-kill orders for any Iranian boat so much as looking at a U.S. Navy ship the wrong way.

As the coronavirus pandemic destabilizes the world system, American rivals—China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela—are all looking to test America’s ailing deterrence. The Trump Administration’s change in U.S. Navy rules of engagement is meant to dissuade Tehran from being bolder than they’ve already been. Above all, it is a recognition of the dangers associated with Iranian forays into technological systems that might initiate an EMP attack on U.S. satellite constellations or, heaven forbid, the American homeland.

Greatness Agenda

We Can Make China Pay For The Coronavirus

Republicans have the perfect opportunity to get out in front on this issue and show they care more about punishing our national enemies than petty partisanship.

Everyone with any bit of common sense knows China is responsible for the novel coronavirus outbreak. Chinese officials lied to international bodies about the nature of the virus, tried to cover up its devastation and death toll, and allowed the virus to spread to every part of the world. There is also mounting evidence that the virus leaked from a Wuhan research facility, further reinforcing Chinese responsibility.

Many Americans want to make the Chinese Communists pay for what they did. Here’s a great idea about how to do that: seize China’s assets.

One of the leading champions of this idea is New Mexico U.S. Senate candidate Gavin Clarkson. Clarkson outlined his plan in a Washington Examiner op-ed last month.

“Based on China’s culpability, President Trump and Secretary Steven Mnuchin should immediately extract reimbursement, starting with the $1.1 trillion in U.S. Treasury Department bonds Communist China currently holds,” he wrote.

Here’s how the plan would work, according to Clarkson:

The Department of the Treasury should electronically confiscate all U.S. Treasurys currently held by China and make it illegal for China to buy, hold, or sell U.S. Treasurys going forward. These prohibitions would apply to any subsidiary or agent of China’s Communist Party. Treasury bonds are no longer held in paper form but are recorded electronically at the Depository Trust Corporation, so this can be done with just a few keystrokes.

In a different op-ed, Clarkson suggests another way to put pressure on China: “We should engage our allies to isolate China economically and make them pay for their deadly bad-faith actions in the world arena. This effect would be even more devastating than going it alone.”

He suggests using mechanisms such as NATO’s Article V to get our allies to join in this effort.

“We should also take further steps, individually and in concert with our allies and other nations suffering from the pandemic and its fallout, to divest ourselves of any investment in companies controlled by or closely tied to the Chinese Communist Party, especially those that are essentially espionage arms for intellectual property theft, such as Huawei and ZTE,” he adds.

Clarkson is not alone in proposing this form of punishment. Several experts and lawmakers also want to hurt China in its pocketbook.

Legal scholar John Yoo called for asset seizure to punish Chinese malfeasance. Yoo doubts that international bodies could make the ChiComs pay up, so he believes it’s up to America and its allies to do the job.

“[T]he administration could also seize the assets of Chinese state-owned companies,” Yoo wrote in a National Review essay earlier this month. “Under its Belt and Road Initiative, Beijing reportedly has loaned billions to developing nations in Africa, Eastern Europe, and Latin America, and then taken over their strategic ports and facilities once the debts fall due. The U.S. could turn this strategy on its head by supporting the expropriation of these assets by legal process and the cancellation of these debts as compensation for coronavirus losses.”

China expert Gordon Chang also believes that seizing the Communists’ holdings of U.S. Treasurys is the best form of punishment.

“All we have to do is [have] the Treasury Department and the President of the United States say, ‘We’re not paying you back. We’re confiscating your holdings of treasuries,’” he told Breitbart this month.

He believes this action must be done with our allies to ward off likely Chinese complaints.

“We should do this in conjunction with the issuers of the other major occurrences,” Chang added. “If we act alone, China is going to say that we repudiated our debt.”

Many Republican lawmakers are proposing similar ideas. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) believes the United States should force China to waive some of our debts. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) wants to empower American citizens to sue the Chinese Communist Party for damages caused by COVID-19.

Punishing China is a popular idea among Americans right now. Seventy-seven percent of Americans blame China for the virus outbreak and 54 percent say China should pay reparations. Americans are suffering right now due to China’s incompetence and lies.

Democrats don’t want to do anything about China; they want to blame President Trump for the whole disaster. They’re even defending the World Health Organization, which parroted Chinese disinformation and did little to curb the virus’s spread. They will even defend the ChiComs just to maintain their unrelenting hostility toward the president.

Republicans have the perfect opportunity to get out in front of this issue and show they care more about punishing our national enemies than petty partisanship.

Chinese misbehavior has gone on for far too long—it’s time to make them pay.

Greatness Agenda

WHO: Another Deadly Failure of Globalism

Bloated international bureaucracies such as the World Health Organization have demonstrated their inability to fulfill their enormous mandates—and other countries around the world should follow our president’s lead and find a better use for their taxpayers’ resources.

It’s time to be brutally honest about the World Health Organization (WHO)—the institution is a daily testament to the deadly failures of globalism.

The WHO was designed to keep humanity safe from disease outbreaks and epidemics, but it’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has only made the crisis worse. From the earliest days of the outbreak, the United Nations-backed organization blatantly parroted Chinese government propaganda, helping the communist regime spread misinformation at a tremendous cost in human lives.

On January 14, for instance, the WHO tweeted that the novel virus is not spreading between people, attributing the findings to the Chinese government. “Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan, #China,” the group wrote.

Clearly, this was not the case—and the experts at the WHO should have known better than to believe China’s baseless claims, much less issue a statement that only could have been interpreted as a call to resist any efforts to prevent the spread of the new virus. At the time, Chinese authorities were already silencing doctors and researchers who tried to raise an alarm about the virus—which should have served as a clear clue that the regime should not be trusted. Doctors who posted information about the coronavirus on Chinese social media were confronted and reprimanded in late December, and at the start of January, the Hubei Provincial Health Commission ordered labs to stop testing virus samples. Both actions should have raised immediate red flags at the WHO.

But the list of deadly WHO errors doesn’t end there. When countries around the globe, including the United States, began implementing life-saving travel restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, the WHO actually urged governments not to take these common-sense measures.

“We reiterate our call to all countries not to impose restrictions that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned in February, adding that “such restrictions can have the effect of increasing fear and stigma, with little public health benefit.”

Presumptive Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden, a lifelong globalist, also has been eager to carry water for China, even deriding President Trump’s sensible travel restrictions on China in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak as “hysterical xenophobia.”

To make matters worse, the WHO went on to criticize travel restrictions that had already been put in place in the United States and other sensibly-run countries, asking authorities to lift them as soon as possible.

“Where such measures have been implemented, we urge that they are short in duration, proportionate to the public health risks, and are reconsidered regularly as the situation evolves,” Tedros declared.

Just like the WHO’s January tweet, this piece of advice was perfectly in line with Beijing’s propaganda. In early February, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry also criticized U.S. travel restrictions, arguing that the Trump administration had “inappropriately overreacted.” The regime has also routinely lashed out at President Trump’s rhetoric, desperate to distract the world from its poor handling of the outbreak.

For all of these reasons, the White House recently announced that the United State is halting its funding for the WHO, pending a thorough evaluation of the organization’s response to the coronavirus outbreak that is already underway.

“With the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have deep concerns whether America’s generosity has been put to the best use possible,” President Trump observed while announcing the freeze on America’s generous funding of the WHO, which amounts to nearly half a billion dollars per year. “As the organization’s leading sponsor, the United States has a duty to insist on full accountability,” the President added, pointing out that “One of the most dangerous and costly decisions from the WHO was its disastrous decision to oppose travel restrictions from China and other nations.”

It’s time to admit the unfortunate truth: globalist institutions have failed us in this pandemic. Bloated international bureaucracies such as the WHO have demonstrated their inability to fulfill their enormous mandates—and other countries around the world should follow our president’s lead and find a better use for their taxpayers’ resources.

Greatness Agenda

America Has a Jared Kushner Problem

President Trump’s greatest weakness now is his inability to recognize that his son-in-law is the leader of a faction within the White House whose interests come at the expense of the very people who voted for him.

If President Donald Trump is serious about draining the swamp, he ought to start with his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Kushner raised eyebrows when he strutted into the role of pandemic point man for the White House, alongside his former roommate and a handful of McKinsey & Company management consultants. As Chris Buskirk wrote in these pages, Team McKinsey has “a history of doing little more than helping failing institutions fail in style while growing rich in the process.”

Project Airbridge, Kushner’s plan to take the reins of the Federal Emergency Management Agency supply-chain task force and partner with private companies to fly health care supplies to New York City from China, lived up to the McKinsey style.

Never mind that the Chinese government, through state-run media, threatened to plunge America into “the mighty sea of coronavirus” as we grappled with the pandemic. Kushner’s solution for a problem caused by China, and exacerbated by our manufacturing dependency on that country, was to turn to Beijing for “help.” Managed decline, brought to you by Kushner and McKinsey & Company.

Square Pegs, Round Holes

Kushner’s record in the public and private sector is long and mediocre. After he took over the New York Observer, the newspaper stopped its weekly print edition that had been in operation since 1987.

“Kushner paid $1.8 billion,” Michelle Goldberg reports, “for a Manhattan skyscraper at the very top of the real estate market in 2007. The debt from that project became a crushing burden for the family business.”

His immigration plan, shopped to GOP senators in a PowerPoint presentation, was dismissed as “laughably simplistic.” His plan for the Palestinian economy was lampooned by Michael J. Koplow of the Israel Policy Forum as “the Monty Python version of Israeli-Palestinian peace, where no contention is too absurd to be floated.”

Nevertheless, the president looks on as Kushner performs the political equivalent of jamming square pegs in round holes, encouraging him to try and try again.

Amid the sound and fury of the pandemic, most people didn’t notice that it was a health insurance company closely connected to Kushner, Oscar Health, that undertook development for a coronavirus website in partnership with the government. Kushner’s younger brother Joshua co-founded Oscar and is a major investor in the company, “and Jared Kushner partially owned or controlled Oscar before he joined the White House,” according to an exclusive report in the Atlantic. Though Oscar did the work free of charge before abruptly shutting down, it rightly raised the hackles of ethics lawyers.

“It’s not typical. It’s usually not allowed,” said Jessica Tillipman, an assistant dean at the George Washington University School of Law and an expert on anti-corruption law. “The concern, when you have some free services, is that it makes the government beholden to the company,” Tillipman added. If something is free, it means the consumer is also the product.

Kushner consistently has played down events, yet, according to Politico, he’s pining for the creation of a national coronavirus surveillance system. The system is intended to give the government information about patients and treatment in real-time, aiming at Kushner’s goal of providing “informed, data-driven decisions.”

It would, of course, come at the cost of privacy, harvesting a trove of data in a world where such a resource is lucrative, all while placing Kushner—a man who is “Beijing’s point of interest” in the administration—at the center of it all.

Oh, Lucky Man!

In a recent white paper for “Healthy China,” a plan “central to the Chinese Government’s agenda,” Oscar bills itself as having a “digital intelligence” network that could benefit China’s medical industry. Jackie Kahn, an Oscar spokeswoman, told reporters in an email that Oscar “had already been working on a coronavirus-testing website when [the Department of Health and Human Services] called to ask for help,” suggesting it “was a coincidence that had nothing to do with Kushner.” It was, as so many of Kushner’s projects tend to be, just that lucky.

It was Kushner, after all, who pushed for the Opportunity Zone tax breaks to be included in President Trump’s 2017 tax overhaul, a program intended to provide investors with cuts in capital gains taxes for putting money into businesses and buildings in 8,700 poor, struggling neighborhoods across the country that might not otherwise attract the cash. Kushner Companies, the development firm once headed by Kushner, happened to have properties in Opportunity Zones that include $13 million of New Jersey beachfront, along with at least 10 Opportunity Zones elsewhere. “Pier Village,” as the ritzy shoreline property is called, features 786-square-foot one-bedroom apartments for as much as $2,765 a month and it stands adjacent to another development site: a 72-room luxury hotel, also brought to your struggling neighborhood by Kushner Companies.

Kushner’s representatives repeatedly have stated that he hasn’t had any involvement in Kushner Companies since January 2017. We have only serendipity to thank, then, that after the oceanfront area received the Opportunity Zone designation in April 2017, Kushner Companies “spent more than $13 million buying additional properties in the zone, putting the company in position to take advantage of the tax breaks on future projects in the expanding beachfront complex,” as Bloomberg Businessweek reports. Pier Village is not exactly the sort of poor and struggling neighborhood that this program was designed to help.

Census data put Pier Village at a 22.6 percent poverty rate in 2010, above the provision’s 20 percent threshold. While New Jersey has more than 200 tracts with higher poverty rates, only a third of them were among the 169 to receive the zone designation, and Kushner Companies was just lucky enough to be there when it happened.

More Coincidences

We would be remiss, however, to discount the good business sense of Nicole Kushner Meyer, Jared’s younger sister. As a Kushner Companies principal, said a company spokesperson, she “focuses on new acquisitions, developments and commercial portfolio management.” The month after Kushner Companies capitalized on the tax breaks for which senior adviser Kushner provided the thrust in the administration, Meyer appeared in a Beijing ballroom full of wealthy Chinese investors. “Invest $500,000 and immigrate to the United States,” read an event brochure.

The event aimed at encouraging Chinese investors to apply for EB-5 visas. Established by Congress in 1990, the program allows foreign nationals to obtain green cards and a path to citizenship in exchange for a minimum investment of $500,000―increased to $900,000 in 2019. About 80 percent of EB-5 green cards go to Chinese investors.

The program is similar to the Opportunity Zone tax, insofar that it is intended to help targeted areas within the United States. But it has been riddled with fraud and decried as a pay-for-citizenship scheme. The month of Meyer’s meeting in Beijing, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services identified and confirmed 19 national security concerns with the EB-5 investor program.

Against the backdrop of Kushner signage, Chinese investors were encouraged to provide funding for “Kushner 1” as a means of acquiring EB-5 visas. Kushner 1 is a New Jersey luxury apartment project, also known as One Journal Square. Earlier, in January 2017, a representative for the U.S. Immigration Fund had asked a New Jersey official to issue a letter certifying One Journal Square as within an area with low employment—doing so would transform it into a “targeted employment area” for EB-5 investors and qualify it for a lower investment threshold to boot.

Emails obtained by CNN from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development show that after “an official responded that the project did not qualify due to its location within a census tract with an unemployment rate below the national average, a consultant for another company asked that the state combine six census tracts together.” Official documents show that the state approved the project not long after.

While no overt reference to President Trump was made, the materials of the Beijing event played on the Kushner family’s “celebrity” status and Meyer was billed as Jared’s sister. Meyer reportedly told the crowd that her “brother Jared Kushner joined the family company as CEO,” and “recently moved to Washington to join the administration.”

Journalists claimed that the event organizers were nervous about media presence and at one point “grabbed a reporter’s phone and backpack to try to force that person to leave,” then later “physically surrounded attendees to prevent them from giving interviews.”

Naturally, news of Meyer’s meeting raised the ire of ethics lawyers. In response, Kushner Companies apologized, and Kushner’s attorney stated that he had no knowledge of the event. Kushner divested from One Journal Square and his personal counsel said in a statement that “he will recuse from particular matters concerning the EB-5 visa program.” But then an odd promotion by Qiaowai, a Beijing-based company that locates investors in China, appeared in March.

Posted by Qiaowai on the Chinese social media site WeChat, the ad suggested the Trump administration planned to increase the number of available visas. “Even some members of Trump’s family have participated in the growth of the EB-5 program,” the promotion read, mentioning the “Kushner88” New Jersey apartment project. “Given this,” the ad concluded, “in the Trump era, the EB-5 program is likely to receive support and be expanded.”

A spokesperson later said Kushner Companies was neither aware nor involved with these promotions, and they were taken down almost as soon as American media took note of them.

The “Driving Force” Behind EB-5

Things were mostly fine for Kushner Companies until 2020, when Nicholas Mastroianni, CEO of the U.S. Immigration Fund, became the subject of a civil fraud case filed against him by two Chinese investors. The business Mastroianni had promoted to investors was a Kushner Companies development known as “Trump Bay Street” in New Jersey. Then, amid the coronavirus pandemic, a push within the GOP for more EB-5 visas bubbled to the surface.

According to Politico, and despite the problematic history of the program, the Republican Party pushed to increase the number of EB-5 visas from 10,000 to 75,000 annually and reduce minimum investment for legal residence to $450,000 from $900,000―even less than the original $500,000 requirement. The Qiaowai ad proved prophetic.

While Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) quickly became the public face of shame for the covert operation, some speculated that Kushner may have been involved. “Three Senate staffers and one administration source” told journalist Daniel Horowitz of Conservative Review that Kushner was “the driving force behind the push for EB-5.”

While it is unclear whether Kushner, in fact, leveraged his position within the administration to exploit the EB-5 program in this case, there is no question he has worked quietly to expand the legal immigration schemes by which he has profited professionally.

Per Politico, while President Trump has been preaching immigration restrictionism from the populist pulpit, Kushner has been holding a “series of meetings with dozens of advocacy groups, including business and agriculture organizations” about possibly expanding various visa programs.

About Trump’s Latest Executive Order

Now reports have surfaced that Kushner yet again had a hand in driving immigration policy at a critical time.

After President Trump announced he would be suspending immigration to the United States to protect the jobs and wages of millions of newly unemployed workers during the pandemic, the Spectator USA reported an “internal battle” broke out in the White House.

Sources familiar with the situation told the Spectator that Kushner “is one of the loudest voices pushing back on a full ban and is seeking to carve out exemptions for refugees, temporary workers under the H1B visa program, and farmworkers under the H-2A visa program.”

If that’s true, then Kushner achieved a total victory.

The ban applies only to those seeking legal residency. It therefore misses the mark because, as Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies explains, “there will be only a modest impact since 60% of green card applicants are already here (80% of employment category is already here).” In other words, the ban applies to the only group of foreign nationals who are not coming to the United States specifically to take a job, while making exemptions for H1B, H2A, and H2B visas. Trump’s immigration proclamation actually exempts some of the largest sources of immigration and specifically economic categories which negatively affect jobs and wages for American workers.

The ban actually hurts American job prospects and wages, while putting on a cheap labor parade for big business. Worse yet, as Vaughan notes, the ban declares EB-5 entries “essential,” effectively pulling out the brakes on the already thoroughly bad program.

The president’s supporters may rightly wonder if they voted for Kushner or Trump at this point.

“In every republic,” wrote Machiavelli, “there are two parties, that of the nobles and that of the people.” The former “have a great desire to dominate, whilst the latter have only the wish to not be dominated, and consequently a greater desire to live in the enjoyment of liberty.”

For many Americans, President Trump appeared to have broken rank with the “nobles” and descended his golden escalator to lend a hand to the people. Whether that is entirely true or not is up for debate. What is certain, however, is that his son-in-law remains aligned with the acquisitive, globe-trotting class whose schemes dominate the course of American political life and the lives of the little people who swab the floors of their high-rises.

Trump’s greatest weakness now is his inability to recognize that Kushner is the leader of a faction within the White House whose interests come at the expense of the very people who voted for him.

Greatness Agenda

The Chinese Coronavirus Is This Generation’s Tiananmen Test

We are suffering a catastrophe of the Chinese Communist Party’s making. It must be held accountable, made to pay for the destruction it has caused, putting every lever of American power on the table to ensure it.

Observers of the Chinese coronavirus crisis have cast it, with good reason, as a potential Chernobyl for General Secretary Xi Jinping’s Chinese Communist Party regime.

America, too, is faced with a challenge with relevant historical parallels, separate and apart from the wartime comparisons regarding the mobilization and sacrifices of our countrymen.

As with the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, we are once again at an inflection point in our relationship with China, faced with the carnage caused most directly by a malevolent CCP.

The Chinese coronavirus crisis may well represent this generation’s Tiananmen Square test.

The test is as follows: With the CCP inflicting incalculable costs in blood and treasure through its unique role in spreading the coronavirus, and its related menacing behavior, will we demand reparations, or will we let the regime off scot-free, emboldening it, and encouraging it to act with impunity and still more reckless abandon in its quest for hegemony going forward?

We failed this test in 1989.

Then, when presented with the image of “Tank Man,” we did something even worse than turning our back on him. Our immediate response to the CCP’s massacre of democracy protesters was toothless. But ultimately, we proceeded still further to embrace the Communist regime, effectively rewarding its villainy by integrating it into the global economic, financial, and geopolitical system.

What Makes China So Dangerous Now

Tiananmen represented nothing more than a minor speed bump in China’s race to become a world power. If anything, it may have served as an accelerant by showing the CCP it literally could get away with murder.

As a consequence of our failure to counter the CCP at many points on its rise to power, but most notably in 1989, the present Tiananmen test has been made all that much more difficult.

That is, China is significantly stronger, and more inextricably intertwined with America, by design. And this makes it more painful for us to punish it.

Today, China is the world’s second-largest economy, and its leading industrial power, making it a key cog in all manner of strategically significant supply chains.

Today, China exerts power and influence over global geopolitical institutions—including, as we have seen, the World Health Organization that America had disproportionately funded—to devastating effect.

Today, it is not just those on the streets of Beijing, but also the people of New York City and, indeed, across America who are dealing with the fatal consequences of coddling the Communist Chinese regime most culpable for the coronavirus pandemic.

This time we are the CCP’s victims.

Does anyone believe this pandemic would have proven so harmful were China not so deeply integrated into the global order?

Today, China not only possesses nuclear weapons but also asymmetric warfare capabilities to counter our conventional forces and a formidable intelligence apparatus.

Yet perhaps Beijing’s greatest strength is its bear hug with the West. Our collaborations have left far too many with a deep, vested interest in maintaining what is proving to be a toxic relationship.

We Are On Defense, China Is On Offense

For all the purported benefits of aiding, abetting, and enabling China’s rise, in terms of access to its large market, and cheaper goods, do we not now see the costs? Today our entire economy has been completely shut off due to the spread of a coronavirus pandemic that is a direct consequence of the CCP’s cover-up. For businesses that acceded to CCP tyranny for better margins, with those margins now completely crumbling, was it worth it?

By shutting down our economy, we have racked up still more debts—some of which may ultimately be held by China, giving it still more leverage on top of the $1trillion-plus in U.S. debt it already holds—accelerating our path towards national financial catastrophe.

Meanwhile, in hollowing out our industrial base, we put our greatest adversary in control of the most vital areas of production in exchange for cheaper goods. While freeing up resources for some, we’re seeing other parts of the country collapse—with all the concomitant negative knock-on effects for our national security, society, and economy. This may have been the most destructive creative destruction in United States history. Granted, China was not playing on an even playing field, and our tax and regulatory regime are part of what made China more attractive.

Speaking of security, as a consequence of the coronavirus outbreaks on the two sole U.S. aircraft carriers in the Pacific, we have been forced to cede the seas around China that it has always sought to command. This threatens America’s national interest and that of our allies and partners.

This is to say nothing of the precedent set in terms of government control in a crisis.

While we are on defense, China is on offense.

A Menace Laid Bare

China is seeking to convert this global disaster into a geopolitical victory by presenting itself as a model for dealing with pandemics and savior, again engaging in information operations intended to sow discord among its foes, and seeking to expand its soft power.

It almost taunted the rest of the world by reopening the wet markets from which many have speculated the virus originated.

For America, navigating between the Scylla and Charybdis of apocalyptic health predictions on the one hand and economic depression on the other is a monumental task in and of itself.

But when we do overcome these immediate problems, the Tiananmen test will remain.

China is bigger, stronger, and richer than it was in 1989. Our ability to punish it without injuring ourselves has never been more difficult.

But when considering China’s responsibility for spreading this pandemic—on top of its recent repression in Hong Kong, operation of Xinjiang gulags, and threats against American servicemen and civilians alike—today as in 1989, the menace that is Communist China has been laid bare for all to see.

This is to say nothing of the biosecurity risk posed by China, as argued in a November 2019 Federal Bureau of Investigation report only recently disclosed publicly, detailing the discovery of vials labeled “Antibodies” on the person of a Chinese biologist arriving in the United States, that officials believe contained MERS and SARS materials.

We are suffering a catastrophe of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) making.

It must be held accountable, made to pay for the destruction it has caused, putting every lever of American power on the table to ensure it.

We must not fail this generation’s Tiananmen test.

Greatness Agenda

Don’t Fear a New Cold War

A new Cold War-style approach to China, Russia, and Iran is a call for America reconstituting the strong allied bloc it once led and rejecting the free-for-all globalist movement that turns a blind eye to enemies allegedly for the sake of cheap products.

We’ve all seen the photos of Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin sitting at Yalta holding together the tenuous partnership that would bring Hitler’s reign of darkness to an end. The air of cooperation wouldn’t last as the significant differences in objectives and ideologies between the Western powers and the Soviet Communist regime drove a wedge between them that would usher in a half-century of Cold War.

It was a perilous time. But that global paradigm would lead to unprecedented growth in personal and economic freedom around the world, with the United States leading a community of free nations against brutal authoritarianism.

Today, the COVID-19 pandemic should serve as a tipping point that puts the United States back on that post-World War II footing. We shouldn’t be afraid of a new Cold War.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the bipolar global construct has collapsed into a murky soup of economic alliances that have made the Western democracies weaker, less focused, and often playing into the hands of authoritarian competitors seeking to expand their power.

We believed that opening China would produce a stronger level of trust, cooperation, and liberalization. It was a logical assumption. Instead, the Chinese learned from the Soviet Union’s economic failures, putting their espionage, propaganda, and brazen efforts to flout international law on steroids. China’s disregard for basic human rights remains chilling. The regime’s deceit with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic is emblematic of all of those characteristics.

We genuinely wanted the Russian experiment in democracy to succeed. It hasn’t and we need to accept that. That failure isn’t due to the Russian people but rather their leaders’ unshakable belief in an imperial destiny and fidelity to governing tactics reminiscent of the Stalinist control of decades past. Just as we’ve created an environment that lets China steal our jobs and technology, we’ve allowed Russia to use its vast energy resources to blackmail Europe.

For decades we failed to make Iran pay for financing global Islamic terrorist networks that have taken countless innocent lives and destabilized countries around the world. The Obama Administration’s capitulation to the mullahs was perhaps the lowest point in American foreign policy of the last half-century.

The troika of China, Russia, and Iran represent a significant and present threat to the safety and security of the free world. That requires an aggressive response.

While Islamic terrorists occupied our focus in the early 2000s, Russia was expanding its influence in the former Soviet republics and later the Middle East. The Chinese, through their Belt and Road Initiative, have set about conquering Africa. The three are also making inroads in the Western Hemisphere as well, including information manipulation that reaches the eyes and ears of Americans every day.

Many on the Left foolishly believe the world can and will be like that 1970s-era Coca-Cola commercial with all races and nations joining hands and singing together. The world is not the Olympics. It is driven by agendas.

The concept of a truly global cooperative is naïve. Nations such as Russia, China, and Iran have a different view of foreign affairs. They have a strikingly different concept of government, human rights, and freedom and they’re willing to manipulate new, smaller actors to help advance that agenda.

We need to be comfortable again with the old idea that not every country is our friend, that real enemies exist, and that state actors like China, Russia, and Iran will act with insidious intent to damage the United States. Having an economic, military, and diplomatic counterposture is absolutely critical.

From 1960-1975, the United States threatened or imposed economic sanctions more than 25 times, not counting U.S. support for U.N. sanctions against South Africa and other nations. We invested in the developing world to provide an incentive for those nations to align with the West. The Cold War promoted enterprise-based, free-market capitalism that strengthened our democratic allies. The military effort led to significant technological advancements.

Redrawing the lines of engagement now would mean igniting the ability of the United States and Western economies again to consolidate economic power. The economic opportunity for American and European countries for freezing out Huawei is enormous. Increasing American liquified natural gas exports could also serve to counter Russian energy blackmail.

A new Cold War means creating new trading blocs and incentives to dissuade free nations from supporting authoritarian competitors. It means governments making the tough decision to economically marginalize these regimes. Such a move may increase consumer prices but can lead to a restoration of millions of American jobs, economic growth in the developing world, and protecting superior Western innovation from piracy.

During the Cold War, a vast majority of Americans understood that it was important for the United States and its allies to counter communism. We cannot allow the moral relativism of the Left in America today make us timid in the face of real threats to our security and individual liberty, not to mention sovereignty of other nations.

Sure, there was debate and protest over disarmament and détente. Of course, there were those who were opposed our strong anti-Communist stance and Ronald Reagan’s “We win, they lose” posture, and many who railed against the so-called military-industrial complex.

Today, empowered by the media and digital platforms, those forces clearly have a strong voice. Nonetheless, America’s destiny is—as it has always been—to be a beacon of freedom and prevent the human race from being dominated by authoritarianism that saps the soul of the individual, devalues life, and prevents human advancement for the sake of ruling elites.

Those who today fancy themselves experts in the media will say we can’t shift our posture in such a fashion. They’ll say we can’t decouple our economy from China, or Europe from Russia’s energy resources. They’ll charge that the world has changed too much in the last quarter-century to revert to a bipolar construct.

We would do well to remember our history. In the past century, hundreds of thousands of Americans died fighting the Germans, only to see Germany become one of our staunchest allies. We used the atomic bomb to obliterate two Japanese cities, yet today Japan is one of our closest trading partners.

A new Cold War-style approach to China, Russia, and Iran is a call for America reconstituting the strong allied bloc it once led and rejecting the free-for-all globalist movement that turns a blind eye to enemies allegedly for the sake of cheap products.

America first needs to mean America leads again.

COVID-19 can indeed reset the world order placing us in the familiar position of making bold moves to protect freedom. What remains to be seen is whether we have the courage to lead again.

Greatness Agenda

Some Problems Are Too Important to Leave to the Partisans

Bringing our troops home from foreign military adventures, ending our dependence on China for essential goods, building 21st-century infrastructure, protecting the rights and liberties of Americans from corporate-government-media power grabs—these are opportunities to find common ground, and that ground is not necessarily in the middle.

At 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 28, 2018 Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) introduced a bipartisan joint resolution to remove U.S. armed forces from hostilities between the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis in Yemen pursuant to the War Powers Resolution. Their bill laid the groundwork for the first-ever successful vote in the Senate to withdraw U.S. armed forces from an unauthorized war, one they believed was unconstitutional.

Earlier on that day Sanders and Lee held a news conference.

“The founding fathers gave the power to declare war to the Congress, the branch most accountable to the people. For far too long, Congress under Democratic and Republican administrations has abdicated its constitutional role in authorizing war,” Sanders began, jabbing his hand to emphasize the point.

“This is not a partisan issue,” Sanders continued. “Support for the Saudi intervention in Yemen began under a Democratic president and has continued under a Republican president. Senator Lee is a conservative Republican, I am a progressive Independent.”

Lee referenced James Madison and the Federalist papers, explaining “this legislation is neither liberal nor conservative, neither Democratic nor Republican. This is an American principle, a constitutional principle.”

He acknowledged the elephant in the room: “It’s not every day that Senator Sanders and Senator Murphy and I come together on something but we firmly agree on this, underscoring the fact that this is not a partisan issue.” Indeed, it’s not every day a democratic socialist and free market libertarian walk into a Capitol Hill newser together.

Three months earlier, in November 2017, the House overwhelmingly passed a resolution stating that the use of U.S. military forces in the Yemen conflict was not authorized by Congress. Only 30 members opposed it.

Anyone familiar with the ways of Washington understands nothing happens spontaneously in the swamp. The wheels of government turn slowly and someone is behind the scenes greasing the axle or monkeywrenching the gears.

The Man Who Made It Happen

So an inquiring mind would ask: how did this most unlikely of alliances happen? Who made it happen and why?

Meet the “who”—George D. O’Neill, Jr., a quiet, lanky, reserved man of 69 years, a sculptor, jewelry maker, and pilot, a fifth-generation Rockefeller who manages small family agriculture and construction materials operations. George grew up between Lake Wales, Florida and Oyster Bay, New York—an enclave of the American aristocracy on the North Shore of Long Island. His father was a Harvard man and Wall Street investor who served on corporate boards. His mother, the granddaughter of John D. Rockefeller Jr., was honored for her education philanthropy.

Though a Rockefeller by birth, George is not a “Rockefeller Republican.” He’s a Trump supporter and has been from the beginning—even before. He was a Buchanan Brigade stalwart in Pat’s 1992 campaign. That antiestablishment, populist conservative uprising pitted economic nationalism against globalism and presaged Donald J. Trump’s victory 24 years later.

O’Neill’s lifelong interest in the question of war’s impact has focused specifically on the issue of endless wars from a MAGA perspective: How can America be great when we’re fighting unsustainable wars and not honoring the Constitution? How can we be a great nation when we carelessly waste and damage the lives of our military members, hurt their families, and run around the world wrecking thousand-year-old cultures? Have any of these misguided interventions achieved any of the promised successes? Does anyone benefit besides a small number of business, political, and media elites?

He edited two books on the subject, Come Home America and The Impact of War, compilations of lectures and other writings, accomplishments he is most proud of. The Rockefeller family has been interested in the impact of war going back to World War 1. They provided food, clothing and medical aid for refugees in Europe. The Rockefeller fortune funded research and treatments for diseases the war brought with it—wounds, infections, dysentery and PTSD, then called “shell shock.” The family endowed the League of Nations Library in Geneva and donated Manhattan real estate for the United Nations headquarters in Turtle Bay.

While the family has been famously (or notoriously, depending on one’s point of view) internationalist (see: League of Nations, United Nations, Council on Foreign Relations), O’Neill has an American nationalist and constitutional concern for the millions injured by our wars: “Why do we fight endless wars without congressional approval?” Constitutional concerns are as important as antiwar concerns.

Which brings us back to the question of how he built a bipartisan consensus on ending endless wars.

There has not been much bipartisan cooperation on this or any other issue, to put it mildly, and O’Neill deserves credit for merging the Left and Right. He spent years building relationships across the political spectrum and earning credibility with leftist groups.

O’Neill hosted small dinners of 10-15 people in Washington, D.C. and New York with a diverse flock: Quakers, Code Pink, The American Conservative, Koch Industries, The Nation and the Cato Institute all breaking bread.

These dinners began in February 2010 with a gathering of people from the conservative, progressive, and libertarian movements along with assorted 1970s-era activist-intellectuals. It proved to him people of disparate points of view could work together on the war issue.

Enter the Committee for a Responsible Foreign Policy

A key turning point was a September 2017 meeting O’Neill had with two people from the Left. One of them was Keane Bhatt, who at that time was working for the Progressive Caucus and drafting the first Yemen war powers resolution. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) of the Progressive Caucus needed Republican support for their bill. At dinner that evening they gained co-sponsorship from Republicans Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and former North Carolina congressman Walter Jones.

The first bipartisan Yemen war powers resolution was soon introduced. After years of discussion, this was the first real action taken to end the forever wars. Soon after that the Progressive Caucus people were introduced to members of Senator Mike Lee’s staff and the Senate bill was underway.

It was in 2017 that O’Neill founded the Committee for a Responsible Foreign Policy, declaring:

Foundational to responsible and thoughtful foreign policy is the need for congressional consent for all acts of war. The committee sponsors monthly lectures and briefings with veterans, military academics, members of Congress and others on topics including the moral and financial impact of endless war, its impact on military families, presidential powers and the Constitution. As a result of these many interactions there is a war powers network in Washington to inform the many different interested organizations of events and writings.

The committee initially got pushback as being anti-military. Quite the opposite: It is defending the men and women of the military who are asked to sacrifice their lives.

“Our leadership has not put together a policy or a strategy that justifies that sacrifice and that’s unforgivable,” Brigadier General Donald Bolduc said at a recent briefing. If Congress isn’t fully committed by giving its consent on the front end, there will be no accountability or backup down the line.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) joined the briefing on “Reforming Foreign Agent Registration Act laws to end forever wars.” The congressman who represents the district that is home to Pensacola Naval Air Station told the audience “the dominant movement in this town is to sell out to the war lobby.” Gaetz refuses to be part of that dominant movement and called out the fabrication of “threat construction to feed a military-industrial complex in this town.”

Think tanks funded by foreign money (which they are not required to report) do more of the heavy lifting in the “threat construction” project than meets the eye, shaping American policy and public opinion to ensure the “military-industrial complex in this town” is well-fed. Remember that the next time you read an op-ed from a “distinguished fellow” explaining the necessity of American involvement in some conflict or another.

For Once, A Useful Bipartisan Effort

O’Neill’s work prepared a path for the Bipartisan War Powers Caucus, a House group whose founding members include Ro Khanna along with Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), and Ken Buck (R-Colo.). The group is committed to “reaffirming Congress’s constitutional responsibility on matters of war and peace.”

Jon Stoltz, an Iraq War veteran and chairman of the liberal VoteVets PAC and his counterpart at the conservative Concerned Veterans of America saluted the bipartisan caucus. “When two groups, or ideologies, that are so opposed to each other end up joining forces, it makes a big impact,” Stoltz said, adding, “the most impactful bipartisan work for the country isn’t coming from the middle, it’s coming from the wings of the parties.”

The war in Yemen proved to be a tipping point. Washington awoke one day to discover American forces were assisting the Saudis with intelligence, target selection, and aerial refueling.

Yemen revealed how easily the United States can get involved in a conflict without approval from anyone outside the White House. Where was the oversight? Was there any? Modern tech-centric, remote-control warfare makes it easy to finagle around the edges of the Constitution and contravene the clear intent of the American Founders.

Liberals and progressives were concerned about the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Conservatives wanted to know what the United States was contributing to the conflict, how we got there and whether our presence was ever authorized by Congress.

The Committee for a Responsible Foreign Policy held its first public event in March 2018—a photo exhibit in the Russell Senate Office Building called “The Impact of War,” featuring outsized three by five foot images of the Yemen war. Senators Lee and Sanders spoke about the Yemen war powers resolution they recently introduced, the first time a War Powers Resolution had been introduced in the U.S. Senate.

Defend the Guard

The Committee for a Responsible Foreign Policy sees another front in the battle to restore Constitutional government and end endless wars: the states.

The National Guard ostensibly is under the command of state governors, and that’s the hook. Traditionally the National Guard has assisted in local disaster relief. But 30,000 National Guard troops from across America are deployed outside of the continental United States. The Pentagon is using many if not most of them to wage war overseas.

When those troops signed up to protect our nation from invasion, quell insurrection, and enforce the laws of the land they were not told they would be separated from their families for months at a time and exposed to physical and mental damage. Some have served five tours in Iraq. The Mississippi National Guard was in Iraq when Katrina hit.

National and grassroots veterans’ groups are pushing “Defend the Guard” legislation at the state house level. It would allow governors to veto overseas deployments of the National Guard unless there has been a congressional declaration of war. Advocates are as diverse as Veterans for Trump and the West Virginia ACLU.

Defend the Guard bills have already been introduced in nine states—Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Activists are seeking out sponsors in 20 more states.

Sgt. Dan McKnight is a U.S. Marine Corps Reserves and active duty Army veteran who served 18 months in Afghanistan with the Idaho Army National Guard. He heads BringOurTroopsHome.US and, when he’s not hiking the backcountry of the Sawtooth Wilderness, he’s lobbying to defend the Guard.

Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, signed a pledge sponsored by BringOurTroopsHome.US, promising that he will “insist that Congress exercise the Constitutional authority granted solely to the legislative branch to declare war” as provided by Article 1, Section 8, Clause II of the U.S. Constitution.

McKnight sent a letter to President Trump asking him to order all National Guard troops deployed overseas to return home to assist state and local governments’ response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Idaho House of Representatives cited the pandemic when it adopted a resolution urging Congress formally to declare war before taking Idaho National Guard troops away from the state. The West Virginia House of Delegates adopted a similar resolution.

The pandemic is the latest but hardly the only example of unprecedented challenges our nation faces. In this unfamiliar landscape, the old maps pointing left and right are worse than useless. They lead us into a defile from which there is no escape.

But we need not go that way. The map is not the territory.

Bringing our troops home from foreign military adventures, ending our dependence on China for essential goods, building 21st century infrastructure, protecting the rights and liberties of Americans from corporate-government-media power grabs—these are opportunities to find common ground, and that ground is not necessarily in the middle.

O’Neill and his unlikely collaborators on the War Powers Resolution votes show how the extremes of both parties can unite and break the grip of the dead and corrupt hand of the Washington establishment.

That lesson is more important than ever.

Greatness Agenda

Trump Must Nix Big Agriculture’s Bid to Use Coronavirus to Slash Farm Wages

It falls on President Trump to put workers before the profits of a cheap-labor obsessed industry and avoid a cure far worse than the disease in the long run.

As the country came to grips with the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration asked the working people of America to comply with containment measures. For some 20 million Americans, that came at the cost of their jobs.

But for some workers, Team Trump could add post-crisis misery to their current pains.

Over the weekend, NPR reported that Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is pushing the White House for big changes to the Adverse Effect Wage Rate, or AEWR, “to reduce wage rates for foreign guest workers on American farms.” But that’s not the full story. These changes will affect the wages of many American citizens as well.

The AEWR is the minimum wage determined by the US Department of Labor that “must be offered and paid to US and guest workers by agricultural employers of nonimmigrant H-2A visa agricultural workers.” It is adjusted yearly and differs state by state, but the primary function of the AEWR is to prevent farmers using the H-2A program from paying US and guest workers wages below the established rates in the surrounding area.

Read the rest in the New York Post.