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Obama Vilifies Feds During John Lewis Eulogy, Accuses them of ‘Using Tear Gas’ Against ‘Peaceful Demonstrators’

Former president Barack Obama fanned the flames of racial resentment in his politicized eulogy for the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) at his funeral in Atlanta, Georgia, Thursday afternoon, comparing law enforcement officers and President Trump to racist Democrats Bull Connor and George Wallace.

“Bull Connor might be gone, but today we witness with our own eyes, police officers kneeling on the necks of Black Americans,” Obama intoned. “George Wallace may be gone, but we can witness our federal government sending agents to use tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators. His fact-free assertion about federal agents using tear gas on “peaceful demonstrators” was met with enthusiastic applause from the mostly Democrat attendees.

As American Greatness has previously reported, statistics do not support the Black Lives Matter narrative that law enforcement in the United States is systemically racist, but Obama could not resist the opportunity to divide the nation along racial lines like he did for eight long years as president.

His dig against federal agents was even more egregious.

Since May, violent, left-wing street mobs across the nation have blocked traffic, ignited fires, looted stores, done massive amounts of property damage, and terrorized unfortunate citizens caught up in the antifa/BLM mayhem.

Meanwhile, as police officers are ordered to pull back from doing proactive police work, homicide rates have skyrocketed across the nation.

Last month hundreds of federal officers were deployed to American cities as part of Operation Legend to quell the violence and restore order.

In recent days, federal officers in Portland, Oregon, have been fending off violent rioters intent on storming and torching the federal courthouse with DHS personnel inside.

The antifa mob has hurled bricks, frozen water bottles, canned goods, rocks, paint, gasoline, mortars, knives, and Molotov cocktails at federal officers, who have responded by firing non-lethal munitions and tear gas. They have also shined high powered lasers into their eyes, in some cases causing permanent damage.One of the Homeland Security agents who was protecting the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse in downtown Portland recently confided that officers have been dealing with  “mentally ill, frothing-at-the-mouth individuals” who seem “almost catatonic with hate.” “As the night goes on, the rioters become so hateful it is surreal,” he told this week.

Their voices hoarse, their sentences jumbled, they seem almost catatonic with hate. The unrest seems to draw the mentally ill and drug abusers. Some seem to be both. The officers stand calmly, listening to it, taking it, only making a move if the rioters try to destroy the property or enter the area they have been told repeatedly not to enter. They [the agents] don’t even respond to thrown projectiles, merely calmly dodging them. Some of the things screamed at us, ad nauseum:

“Go home! You’re Nazis, racists, the Gestapo! Fuck you, fuck your mom, you suck! Quit your job and go fuck yourself! I’m going to get all your fucking names!”

I’m seeing African American Federal Protective Service inspectors, twenty year’s law enforcement officer, being called the N-word to their face for the first time in their careers, by a scrawny, pasty white booger-eating communist shithead.

But of course, ever the “community organizer,” Obama took the opportunity to describe scummy racist creeps like the agitators in Portland  as “peaceful protesters” during a civil rights icon’s funeral.

2016 Election • American Conservatism • Donald Trump

Prudence: For Trump

8567813820_32b8aa4810_bReposted with permission from the Claremont Review of Books.

William Voegeli has written thoughtfully about the reasons underlying Trump’s appeal, defended Trump’s supporters, and attacked some of his more breathless enemies. Still, Voegeli charges me—for making many of the same points—with exhorting people to “reckless, desperate actions.” When what I have actually exhorted them to do is… vote. Voegeli surely doesn’t believe that voting itself is reckless, so he must believe that voting for Trump is what’s reckless. This strikes me as an odd stance to take for a man who, near the end of his rebuttal, admits that he will be voting for—Trump! This confession appears in the last of Voegeli’s six numbered objections to my argument, but I take it out of order, because in my opinion Voegeli buried his lede. While heartened by it, I confess I don’t know what to make of it. Does Voegeli somehow consider his own vote prudent but mine reckless? Or perhaps he thinks it’s not the action itself—again: voting—that’s reckless but my exhortation that others vote?

The only way I can think of to square this circle is that Voegeli apparently thinks his vote won’t matter; therefore, come what may, he will not be responsible. Whereas to the extent that anyone in a swing state is swung by my rhetoric, I will be partially responsible for a Trump victory and all the subsequent mayhem. That’s tantamount to saying that Voegeli prefers a Hillary victory. So why not vote for her? Because he “expect[s]” her to win and thinks that reducing her vote total might “chasten” her. I have argued to the contrary that Hillary not only will not be chastened but that she is no more chastenable than modern liberalism itself. Were Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats “chastened” by losing Ted Kennedy’s (!) Massachusetts (!!) Senate seat to a Republican (!!!) specifically on the issue of Obamacare? No, they rammed it through anyway, using parliamentary tricks. Was Obama “chastened” by the historic “shellackings” (his word) that his party suffered in 2010 and 2014? Or by his dramatically lower vote total and margin of victory in 2012 compared to 2008? No, he still went ahead with executive amnesty and much else. More of this—much more, in my view—is in store for us after a 2016 defeat. In any event, Voegeli’s “chastening” is a testable proposition that will be tested if enough Republicans reject his example and my advice.

Voegeli’s argument and alarm are undercut, however, by his modest insistence that anything he (or I) writes doesn’t matter anyway. Neither our “votes, words, or donations” will make any difference. Who knew that the Claremont Institute had endorsed what political scientists call the “voter’s paradox” (the argument that since one vote never turns any election, there is no incentive for voters to vote)? One wonders why Voegeli is bothering to vote at all in that case (especially in California!). And why object to my piece? If there’s no danger of writing swaying anyone, who cares? What could possibly be “reckless” or “desperate” about it? And why bother to respond to me, if words don’t matter?

Beyond this, in a rare (for me) acknowledgment of conservative success, I note that Voegeli spent many years as an officer of the John M. Olin Foundation, which was able (with Voegeli’s help) to move the culture and the nation in beneficial (if not in every case lasting) directions. Voegeli then probably doesn’t believe that persuasion and debate are wastes of time. He just objects to their being used on behalf of Trump.

I take the rest of Voegeli’s objections in order: his first is that prospects for conservatism are always dim and today is no worse than usual. I certainly agree on the first half of that formulation, but we’ll have to disagree about the second. They seem much worse to me than usual, and I’ll not repeat myself in explaining why—since he doesn’t address any of my points, either to deny them or to charge me with exaggeration. In fact, further down (in objection three) he “stipulate[s]” to all of them.

Voegeli then pivots from saying things are no worse than usual to saying that they are actually pretty good. The Republicans hold a lot of elective offices—especially at the state and local level. Voegeli grants my assertion that they haven’t done anything with them, and he doesn’t predict that they soon will; only Trump will consign “the GOP to the minority status it endured on Capitol Hill for the six decades before 1994.” This, as he must know, is an exaggeration. It was four decades in the House, and the Senate had been Republican as recently as 1986. But that aside, Voegeli takes for granted the down-ticket Trumpocalypse argument peddled by the #NeverTrumpers without making any effort to establish its truth and despite recent polling that tends to a different conclusion.

And, again, since they never do anything with it, who cares if they have it? Also, in the federally consolidated super-state, what good do state legislatures do anyway? Does Voegeli or doesn’t he agree with me that federal and administrative state control will become more consolidated rather than less in Clinton II? We could have every statehouse in the nation, and everything we try to do (which, once again, is: not much) would just be overridden by judges and bureaucrats.

But then Voegeli’s thinking becomes truly magical. The heart of my argument is that eight years of Hillary will—through legal and illegal immigration, amnesty and refugee inflows—permanently tip the national electoral map Democratic. By design. To this Voegeli calmly replies that “it’s possible” that “over the coming decades” Latinos will become Republicans. Anything’s “possible,” I suppose. Is this likely? Is it worth betting the country on? It’s a well-worn logical mistake to predict the future by assuming that present trends will continue. Isn’t it an even greater logical error to hope for a future on the basis of things that have never yet happened anywhere? The high-water mark for Republicans with Latinos at the Presidential level was 39 percent, in 2004. That was with A) an incumbent who B) spoke Spanish, however badly, C) was leading a war and thus benefited from some measure of patriotic solidarity and concern for physical safety, and D) recklessly goosed Latino (and other) homeownership through looser credit standards, which led to a housing bubble and crashed the financial system. All that for 39%. Could the nation survive what it would take get 50.1 percent?

If the Republican Party is to survive as a nationally relevant force, a more likely scenario—which Voegeli does not mention—is that the electorate will polarize along racial lines, with the Republicans becoming openly the “white party” and the Democrats the non-white. This scenario is by no means guaranteed, for while it’s reasonable to expect downscale whites to migrate to the Republicans en masse, to expect the same of the blue-metro-educated seems like more magical thinking. In any event, would that be a prospect Voegeli relishes? I would expect not, on two grounds. First, the very idea of a racially polarized electorate is distasteful to most, especially when whites are voting as a block. Second, one conservative objection to Trump is that his populist appeals to the working class—pledges to protect the safety net and such—are making the Republican Party less conservative. That trend would accelerate if and as the Party had to accommodate upscale whites.

So rather than make a racially polarized electorate necessary for Republican survival, why not at least try to act now to prevent that necessity? By electing a man who at least says he will get the border under control. But of course, Voegeli is voting for Trump, so perhaps he sees this more clearly than he otherwise lets on.

Voegeli’s second concern is for “conservatism.” Here is a real disagreement: I no longer care about conservatism. He is welcome to care, but as I have argued elsewhere and also will not repeat in detail, in my judgment, he is tending a corpse. “Conservatism” will have to be rethought and replaced, whoever wins.

Voegeli says, apparently meaning to remind his readers of something I had overlooked in my recklessness, that there will still be “a United States of America for some time after the 2016 elections.” But I said the same thing in almost exactly the same words. I did specify, however, that I do not expect that country to be a constitutional republic, for the demographic reasons outlined above. The “elections” that Voegeli says lie ahead “for conservatives to wage and win” I expect will still take place (for a while) but conservatives either will not win them, or they will in the off-years, with even less practical effect than the blowouts of 2010 and 2014. Voegeli seems to place some hopes in this prospect. I can’t see why.

Voegeli’s third point is that Trump will accomplish nothing good and that I made no case that he could. Not so. I did make a case. I said, and here repeat, that a strongly implemented program of border security, economic nationalism, and interests-based foreign policy could stanch a great deal of two decades or more of bleeding and could even begin the process of unifying (to the extent still possible) a badly fractured nation. I concede that it might not work. But “it’s possible”! I further concede that Trump’s legion of enemies—including the “conservative” ones—may prevent a victorious Trump from giving his program a chance. And I further assert that a Hillary administration will be full-speed-ahead with everything Voegeli and I know is wrong with our current trajectory, plus all the hyrda-headed monsters still being cooked up in the prog-left labs that we haven’t even got wind of yet. Voegeli says nothing about these arguments. I’d be interested to learn his thoughts about them. And, his modesty notwithstanding, maybe those thoughts could do some good!

Voegeli’s fourth point is a sadly-typical slander against the Trump movement that one expects from a National Review kidlet but not from the author of “Anti-Anti Trump.” He tries to connect Trump voters to Black Lives Matter on the ground that both reject “respectability politics.” In fact, BLM is firmly in the tradition of Communist and New Left street violence, while Trumpism—if it has a genealogy—traces a tenuous lineage to various left and right populist-but-peaceful movements stretching to William Jennings Bryan. BLM is rather clearly a tool of the ruling class to gin up, and maintain control over, a core part of its divers-and-conquer ruling coalition. Why else would it have a professional cadre of organizers bankrolled by billionaire enemy alien George Soros? Why else would its leaders be formally a part of Hillary’s campaign? To stand on the stage at the DNC is to reject “respectability politics”? Voegeli’s reference to Malcolm X only further undermines his point and strengthens mine. In 1964, Malcolm was a radical against respectability. In 2016, Malcolm’s ethos defines respectability among the Democratic Left. And among all right-thinking members of the ruling class, including the toniest Republicans.

Which helps explain why Trump and his voters are fed up with it. If “respectability” requires not just accepting rising mortality, ever-lower wages and demographic replacement, but also being demonized for “white privilege” even if they meekly acquiesce, they’re happy at this point not to be respectable. Personally, I can’t blame them. Apparently, Voegeli can.

The rest of Voegeli’s point four plus his fifth seem to agree with my overall analysis, which perhaps helps explain why Voegeli is voting for Trump.

Defense of the West • Foreign Policy

Principle and Prudence: A Foreign Policy of Prudent American Realism

President Obama’s foreign policy has been a disaster. The failures are legion: the Russian “reset” that has enabled Vladimir Putin to strut about as a latter-day czar; the reintroduction of Russia into the Middle East; the betrayal of allies, especially in Central Europe, not to mention Israel; snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in Iraq by failing to achieve a status of forces agreement (SOFA) that would have helped to keep Iraq out of the Iranian orbit and have prevented the rise of ISIS; the muddled approach to Afghanistan; our feckless policy—or lack of policy—regarding Iranian nuclear weapons, not to mention Libya and Syria.

President Obama has said that he was elected to end wars, not to start them, as if wars are fought for their own purpose. Ending wars is no virtue if the chance for success has been thrown away, as it was in Iraq. We can say of Obama’s approach to foreign policy what Winston Churchill said in 1936 about Stanley Baldwin’s policy as Hitler gained strength on the Continent: it was, said Churchill, “decided only to be undecided, resolved to irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent.”

To criticize the Obama approach to foreign policy should not be seen as an endorsement of the Bush approach. While there was certainly a justification for action against not only the Taliban for harboring al Qaeda after 9/11, but also against Saddam Hussein for his serial violations of UN Security Council resolutions, the Bush administration overreached, seeking to transform Afghanistan and Iraq into something like a western-style liberal democracy. What was missing here was prudence, the virtue that Aristotle called most characteristic of the statesman. Prudence requires the statesman to always maintain a clear vision of what needs to be achieved—the ends of policy—while maintaining flexibility regarding the means.

Today’s foreign policy debate is only the latest version of one that dates from the very beginning of the Republic. In a speech to the federal convention in Philadelphia delivered on June 25, 1787, Charles Pinckney of South Carolina declared that the purpose of the American Republic under the Constitution was to make Americans “happy at home” rather than to make them “respectable abroad.” Republican institutions were not intended, he continued, to enable conquest or to achieve “superiority among other powers…If they are sufficiently active and energetic to rescue us from contempt & preserve our domestic happiness and security, it is all we can expect from them…”

Four days later on June 29, Alexander Hamilton replied to Pinckney. “It has been said that respectability in the eyes of foreign nations was not the object at which we aimed; that the proper object of Republican government was domestic tranquility & happiness. This was an ideal distinction. No government could give us tranquility & happiness at home, which did not possess sufficient stability and strength to make us respectable abroad,” not in the sense that the United States seeks the favorable opinion of our enemies, but in the sense that the Republic will vindicate its interests in a hostile world.

The debate between Hamilton and Pinckney has echoed across the years. Is America to be inward- or outward-looking? Is republican foreign policy to be expansionist or isolationist? Offensive or strictly defensive? Designed to support freedom of navigation and global strategic flexibility or limited to protecting its position in the Western hemisphere ?

The Hamilton-Pinckney dispute played out again in the late 19th century during the debate over the annexation of Hawaii, and after the Spanish American War, the annexation of the Philippines and Cuba. It emerged again during the interwar period of the first half of the 20th century and after World War II. It now roils the Republican Party as Americans consider the costs of nearly two decades of war. Are we to pull back and leave the various regions of the world to their own devices or are we going to try to “shape” these regions in a way that helps to underwrite security, stability, and prosperity abroad not in the interest of others but in the interest of the citizens of the United States.

The Purpose of American Power: Ends 

The sole purposes of American power are—or should be—to secure the American Republic, protect its liberty, and to facilitate the prosperity of the American people. It is not—or should not be—to create the “global good,” a corporatist globalism divorced from patriotism or national greatness. The United States does not have a “moral entitlement” to superior power for the global good. The United States must work constantly at maintaining it. Part of that work is persuading our sovereigns—American citizens—that it is good and right and in their interest to maintain that power. A healthy regard for the safety and happiness of American citizens requires that U.S. power remain supreme. To reiterate, the purpose of American power is not to act in the interest of others, the “international community,” international institutions, or the like but in the nation’s interest.

The Use of American Power: Means

From the end of World War II until the presidency of Barack Obama, the United States has pursued a bipartisan grand strategy of “primacy,” the purpose of which has been to underwrite a liberal world order based on freedom of navigation and commerce, , an arrangement very much in the interest of the United States as well as its friends and allies. This grand strategy has included alliances and support for international institutions including the United Nations and the Bretton Woods economic system. This approach was justified by the belief that war and depression can best be avoided in a world where the interests of states are not always at odds but can be coordinated by diplomacy, trade, commerce, and global finance. The trade wars of the 1930s generated by mercantilist policies and economic nationalism that fueled global depression helped to plunge the world into a real and devastating war in 1939.

The grand strategy of primacy is based on what Robert Gilpin calls the theory of “hegemonic stability,” which holds that a “liberal world order” does not arise spontaneously as the result of some global “invisible hand.” Instead, such a system requires a “hegemonic power, a state willing and able to provide the world with the collective goods of economic stability and international security.” For 100 years, from the end of the Napoleonic Wars to the beginning of World War I, Great Britain provided this service. The United States has done so since 1945. In both cases, the hegemonic power assumed the role not out of altruism but because it was in its national interest to do so President Obama abandoned this longstanding bipartisan approach.

Prudent American Realism: Principle and Prudence

The United States has been most successful when it has followed a foreign policy of what might be called “prudent American realism,” which links American principles with Aristotelian prudence. This approach is based on the recognition that American realism differs from the realism taught as part of academic international relations courses.  American realism has always fused the features of traditional realism—power and security—with prosperity and the preservation of American principles. George Washington articulated this unique American realism in his Farewell Address:

If we remain one People, under an efficient government, the period is not far off, when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest guided by justice shall Counsel.”

Prudent American realism, as opposed to the realism taught in traditional courses on international relations, recognizes that the internal character of regimes matters and that our foreign policy must reflect the fundamental principles of democratic republicanism. And unlike liberal internationalism, which holds that international law and institutions alone are sufficient to achieve peace, prudent American realism understands that there are certain problems which can be addressed only through the prudent exercise of power.

When the United States was weak, prudence required America to consolidate power in North America while navigating the vagaries of European great power politics. The policy that the United States pursued during the early years of the Republic has often been described as “isolationist” but this was not the case, especially after the debacle of the War of 1812, which revealed the weakness of the Pinkney approach. Thereafter, as John Lewis Gaddis has pointed out, U.S. policy was based on hegemony, the principle that the United States would not share power in the Western hemisphere; unilateralism, which accepted the need for international cooperation but rejected formal treaties as an unnecessary limit on American action; and preemption, action taken early to prevent a worse outcome later.

As American power grew, prudence dictated that the United States could, as Washington wrote, “choose peace or war, as our interest guided by justice shall Counsel.” By the middle of the 20th century prudence dictated that the United States should pursue primacy. Today, primacy should represent the default position of prudent American realism.

Of course primacy can be caricatured as a “go-it-alone” approach in which the United States intimidates both friends and allies, wields power unilaterally, and ignores international institutions. But prudent American realism is a “benevolent” primacy, an approach in keeping with the liberal political tradition of the United States but which recognizes the world as a dangerous place in which a just peace is maintained only by the strong.

As noted before, the form of primacy embodied in prudent American realism is based on the idea that U.S. power is good primarily for the United States but it is also good for the rest of the world in the sense that it helps to underwrite a more peaceful and prosperous world than the one that would exist in the absence of American power. The desired outcome is not motivated by altruism but by the recognition that the freedom, security, and prosperity of the United States is best secured in a world where other states are also secure, free, and prosperous.

But the mere existence of liberal institutions is not sufficient. A liberal world order is possible only if the United States is willing and able to maintain it. In the words of the late Sam Huntington,

the maintenance of U.S. primacy matters for the world as well as for the United States….”

A world without U.S. primacy would be a world with more violence and disorder and less democracy and economic growth than a world where the United States continues to have more influence than any other country in shaping global affairs. The sustained international primacy of the United States is central to the welfare and security of Americans and to the future of freedom, democracy, open economies, and international order in the world.

According to the theory of hegemonic stability, the alternative to U.S. power is a more disorderly, less peaceful world. The precedent for the United States is the decay of Pax Britannica, which, many believe, created the necessary, if not sufficient conditions for the two world wars of the 20th century. As British hegemony declined, smaller states that previously had incentives to cooperate with Britain “defected” to other powers, causing the international system to fragment. The outcome was depression and war. The decline of American power could lead to a similar outcome. Today’s security environment suggests that such a fragmentation is already underway.

In addition to fusing principle and power, a foreign policy of prudent American realism must recognize certain operational principles. First, it needs to distinguish between friends and allies, on the one hand, and enemies and adversaries, on the other. For the last seven years, the Obama Administration has failed to make this distinction, causing our allies to lose faith in the United States, while emboldening our enemies.

Militarily and diplomatically, U.S. foreign policy should stress forward defense, forward presence, and freedom of navigation, maintaining a maritime alliance along what Nicholas Spykman called the “rimlands” of Eurasia, designed to keep a potential Eurasian hegemon contained. NATO and our bilateral treaties with Japan, Korea, and—potentially—India are critical to this enterprise.

Second, while the internal character of regimes matter for prudent American realism, we need to limit our aspirations when it comes to “spreading democracy” abroad. Again, “prudence” is the operative term here. For one thing, “democracy” is not always liberal democracy. For another, our resources are finite, and good strategy requires the United States to prioritize among the goals it wishes to accomplish. Finally, the character of a people does not always make them a good candidate for democracy.

Third, the United States must return to the more classical connection between force and diplomacy. For too long, American policy makers, motivated by the assumptions of liberal internationalism, have acted as if diplomacy alone is sufficient to achieve our foreign policy goals. But as Frederick the Great once observed, “Diplomacy without force is like music without instruments.” Prudent American realism recognizes that diplomacy and force are two sides of the same coin.

Finally, the United States should not hesitate to use its economic power as an instrument of foreign policy. The changing geopolitics of energy provides an opportunity for the United States to counter the likes of Putin, and others in the world who have wielded the energy weapon against America in the past.

In both the short and long term, a foreign policy of prudent American realism is the best hope for assuring the freedom, security, and prosperity of the United States. Only this approach can stanch the loss of American power, influence, and credibility. As Huntington made clear, it matters who the hegemonic power is. For those who desire freedom and prosperity, there is no alternative to the United States.