A nationwide curfew was imposed as a section of the armed forces claimed to have taken the country over. The coup leaders seized national television and the phone network. Gunfire was heard in Ankara and military jets flew low over Ankara and Istanbul where the bridges over the Bosphorus were blocked. In Istanbul, Turkish Gendarmerie and soldiers blocked entrances to bridges over the Bosphorus while tanks blocked Ataturk airport. A TV announcer read out a statement saying that a “peace committee” had taken over the country against autocratic rule and will write a new constitution restoring democracy, whose institutions have been eroded by autocratic rule, and restore secular law.
It was a great aim, a brave attempt – but it failed.
Now Turkey is less likely to be secular and democratic.
DebkaFile, which we quoted above, assesses the event and analyses why the attempted coup failed:
The Turkish armed forces’ attempt to overthrow the authoritarian rule of President Tayyip Erdogan was largely extinguished Saturday morning July 16 after less than 24 hours – due to three major miscalculations:
1. They first seized the country’s power centers and state television when their first priority should have been to immobilize Erdogan who was out of the capital on vacation.
2. Although out of control in Ankara and Istanbul, he used his mobile phone to reassert his authority through a private television station and called on the people to take to the streets in protest against the plotters. Civilians responded by surrounding the tanks and tying them down until loyal troops moved in.
3. They relied too heavily on the air force to cow the regime, the jets zooming low over the two main cities while the two main airports were closed.
It was soon evident that control of Turkey’s skies was no guarantee of control of the ground. Indeed, the coup leaders did not prevent him from landing at Ataturk airport and declaring immediately that he was in charge, demonstrating that he was on top of events.
In the clashes that followed, Gen. Umit Dundar, the newly appointed acting chief of the general staff, said more than 190 people died in clashes: 41 police officers, two soldiers, 47 civilians and 104 people described as ‘‘coup plotters”. Dundar said officers from the Air Force, the military police and the armored units were mainly involved in the attempt.
At the same, the attempt by part of the Turkish armed forces to topple Erdogan in the name of democracy and the return of “secular law” was impressive and evidence of social and political malaise under his rule. It was led by at least half a dozen generals, as may be judged the arrest of Gen. Memduh Hakbilen, the chief of staff of Turkey’s command for the important Aegean region, among the more than 1,500 alleged plotters and the suspension of another five generals.
That elements of the air force joined the attempted uprising is unprecedented in Turkey, whose army is NATO’s second largest.
Erdogan will no doubt want to know why his MIT intelligence failed to scent the conspiracy afoot.
He will certainly lose no time in executing a massive purge of Turkey’s armed forces, and especially the air force and intelligence arms, after accusing the coup leaders of treason.
Erdogan has been steadily taking steps to re-create an Islamic state. He wants to reverse the modernizing reforms that Kemal Ataturk effected after Turkey, as an ally of Germany, was defeated in the First World War. He dreams of reviving the Ottoman Empire, perhaps seeing himself as Sultan (who was also titled Caliph). He has built himself a new palace in Ankara, and announced that it will be the center of government.
Predictably, President Obama is on the side of the would-be dictator against the side that reached for democracy.
Erdogan’s new presidential palace in Ankara
President Erdogan in his new palace
President Erdogan among guards dressed in the uniforms of Ottoman soldiers
Europeans are at last growing angry with their ruling elites and forming groups of resistance.
Feeling themselves and their power seriously threatened, the elites – politicians, academics, media people, all of them on the left even if some of them call themselves conservatives – label the groups “far-right”.
Many voices are prophesying civil war.
We quote from an article at Gatestone by Yves Mamou, titled France: The Coming Civil War:
“We are on the verge of a civil war.”
That quote did not come from a fanatic or a lunatic. No, it came from the head of France’s homeland security, the DGSI (Direction générale de la sécurité intérieure), Patrick Calvar.
He has, in fact, spoken of the risk of a civil war many times. On July 12th, he warned a commission of members of parliament, in charge of a survey about the terrorist attacks of 2015, about it.
In May 2016, he delivered almost the same message to another commission of members of parliament, this time in charge of national defense. “Europe,” he said, “is in danger. Extremism is on the rise everywhere, and we are now turning our attention to some far-right movements who are preparing a confrontation.”
What kind of confrontation? “Intercommunity confrontations”, he said – polite for “a war against Muslims”. “One or two more terrorist attacks,” he added, “and we may well see a civil war.”
In February 2016, in front of a senate commission in charge of intelligence information, he said again: ” We are looking now at far-right extremists who are just waiting for more terrorist attacks to engage in violent confrontation”.
No one knows if the truck terrorist, who plowed into the July 14th Bastille Day crowd in Nice and killed more than 80 people, will be the trigger for a French civil war, but it might help to look at what creates the risk of one in France and other countries, such as Germany or Sweden.
The main reason is the failure of the state.
France is the main target of repeated Islamist attacks; the more important Islamist terrorist bloodbaths took place at the magazine Charlie Hebdo and the Hypercacher supermarket of Vincennes (2015); the Bataclan, its nearby restaurants and the Stade de France stadium, (2015); the failed attack on theThalys train; the beheading of Hervé Cornara (2015); the assassination of two policemen in Magnanville in June (2016), and now the truck-ramming in Nice, on the day commemorating the French Revolution of 1789.
Most of those attacks were committed by French Muslims: citizens on their way back from Syria (the Kouachi brothers at Charlie Hebdo), or by French Islamists (Larossi Abballa who killed a police family in Magnanville last June) who later claimed their allegiance to Islamic State (ISIS). The truck killer in Nice was Tunisian but married with a French woman, three children together, and living quietly in Nice until he decided to murder …
At each of these tragic episodes, the head of state, President François Hollande, refused to name the enemy, refused to name Islamism – and especially refused to name French Islamists – as the enemy of French citizens.
For Hollande, the enemy is an abstraction: “terrorism” or “fanatics”. Even when the president does dare to name “Islamism” the enemy, he refuses to say he will close all Salafist mosques, prohibit the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist organizations in France, or ban veils for women in the street and at university. No, instead, the French president reaffirms his determination for military actions … abroad: “We are going to reinforce our actions in Syria and Iraq,” the president said after the Nice attack.
For France’s head of state, the deployment of soldiers on the national ground is for defensive actions only: a dissuasive policy, not an offensive rearmament of the Republic against an internal enemy.
So confronted with this failure by our elite … how astonishing is it if paramilitary groups are organizing themselves to retaliate? …
The civil war began sixteen years ago, with the second Intifada. When Palestinians invented suicide attacks in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, French Muslims began to terrorize Jews living peacefully in France. For sixteen years, Jews — in France —were slaughtered, attacked, tortured and stabbed by French Muslim citizens supposedly to avenge Palestinian people in the West Bank.
When a group of French citizens who are Muslims declares war on another group of French citizens who are Jews, what do you call it?
For the French establishment, it is not a civil war, just a regrettable misunderstanding between two “ethnic” communities.
Until now, no one has wanted to establish a connection between these attacks and the murderous attack in Nice against people who were not necessarily Jews – and name it as it should be named: a civil war.
For the very politically correct French establishment, the danger of a civil war will begin only if anyone retaliates against French Muslims; if everyone just submits to their demands, everything is all right. Until now, no one thinks that the terrorist attacks against Jews by French Muslims; against Charlie Hebdo’s journalists by French Muslims; against an entrepreneur who was beheaded a year ago by a French Muslim; against young Ilan Halimi by a group of Muslims; against schoolchildren in Toulouse by a French Muslim; against the passengers on the Thalys train by a French Muslim, against the innocent people in Nice by an almost French Muslim were the symptoms of a civil war. These bloodbaths remain, still today something like a climatic catastrophe, a kind of tragic misunderstanding.
In France, who most complains about Muslim immigration? Who most suffers from local Islamism? Who most likes to drink a glass of wine or eat a ham-and-butter sandwich? The poor and the old who live close to Muslim communities, because they do not have the money to move someplace else.
Today, as a result, millions of the poor and the old in France are ready to elect Marine Le Pen, president of the rightist Front National, as the next president of the Republic for the simple reason that the only party that wants to fight illegal immigration is the Front National.
Because, however, these French old and poor want to vote for the Front National, they have become the enemy of the French establishment, right and left. What is the Front National saying to these people? “We are going to restore France as a nation of French people”. And the poor and the old believe it – because they have no choice.
Similarly, the poor and the old in Britain had no choice but to vote for Brexit. They took the first tool given them to express their disappointment at living in a society they did not like anymore. They did not vote to say, “Kill these Muslims who are transforming my country, stealing my job and soaking up my taxes”. They were just protesting a society that a global elite had begun to transform without their consent.
In France, the global elites made a choice. They decided that the “bad” voters in France were unreasonable people too stupid, too racists to see the beauties of a society open to people who often who do not want to assimilate, who want you to assimilate to them, and who threaten to kill you if you do not.
The global elites made another choice: they took the side against their own old and poor because those people did not want to vote for them any longer. The global elites also chose not to fight Islamism, because Muslims vote globally for the global elite. Muslims in Europe also offer a big “carrot” to the global elite: they vote collectively.
In France, 93% of Muslims voted for the current president, François Hollande, in 2012. In Sweden, the Social Democrats reported that 75% of Swedish Muslims voted for them in the general election of 2006; and studies show that the “red-green” bloc gets 80-90% of the Muslim vote.
If the establishment does not want to see that civil war was already declared by extremist Muslims first – if they do not want to see that the enemy is not the Front National in France, the AfD in Germany, or the Sweden Democrats – but Islamism in France, in Belgium, in Great Britain, in Sweden – then a civil war will happen.
France, like Germany and Sweden, has a military and police strong enough to fight against an internal Islamist enemy. But first, they have to name it and take measures against it.
If they do not – if they leave their native citizens in despair, with no other means than to arm themselves and retaliate – yes, civil war is inevitable.
Today is the last day of Ramadan 2016.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad according to Islamic belief. This annual observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The month lasts 29–30 days based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon.
While fasting from dawn until sunset, Muslims refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids, smoking, and engaging in sexual relations. Muslims are also instructed to refrain from sinful behavior that may negate the reward of fasting, such as false speech (insulting, backbiting, cursing, lying, etc.) and fighting.
The excellent website ironically named The Religion of Peace keeps a daily record of Islamic terrorist attacks. Their toll of lethal attacks world-wide since 9/11 is reflected in our margin.
Here’s its count of terrorist attacks and murders carried out during this year’s month of Ramadan:
In the last few days, Muslim terrorists have been busier than ever, as if to crowd as much terror and atrocity into the month as they could before it ended.
The following list shows that the victims of the attackers were mostly Muslims, although the Koran and the Hadith, while commanding the killing of non-Muslims,* forbid the killing of fellow Muslims: “But whoever kills a believer intentionally – his recompense is Hell, wherein he will abide eternally, and Allah has become angry with him and has cursed him and has prepared for him a great punishment.” – Koran 4:93.
From a CNN report:
Multiple major terror strikes have occurred in recent days as the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan approaches. Ramadan ends Tuesday evening.
ISIS either claimed responsibility or is suspected in each of them.
At least six members of Jordan’s security forces were killed June 21 in a suicide car bombing launched from the Syrian side of the border. …
ISIS claimed responsibility through Amaq, its de facto media agency, saying the act was carried out by an ISIS fighter.
Six people died and 19 others were wounded following a series of suicide attacks in a mainly Christian area of northern Lebanon, close to the border with Syria.
According to Lebanon’s National News Agency the first incident happened at around 4.20 a.m. last Monday when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a house in the village of Qaa, in the country’s Bekaa Valley.
Three other attackers — with at least one wearing an explosive vest — then detonated themselves as rescue teams and locals gathered at the scene. …
Security analysts think ISIS could be responsible.
On Thursday, the army said it foiled “two major terrorist operation” planned by ISIS – one targeting a “large tourist facility” and the other targeting a densely populated area.
Five people have been arrested, including the mastermind of the operation, the statement said.
At least 42 people, mostly soldiers and one child, were killed when attackers launched four suicide car bombings at security targets in a major Yemeni city …
The attacks occurred last Monday in Mukalla, a southeastern port city in Hadramaut province.
At least 30 people were injured — all security officers except for five civilians …
One of the attacks targeted a military compound near a government intelligence building. The others targeted military checkpoints. A child walking near one of the checkpoints was killed.
The attackers were from ISIS, [the] group’s media voice said.
Terrorists stormed Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport last Tuesday, killing 44 people and injuring hundreds.
There has been no claim of responsibility, but hallmarks of the strike points to ISIS and the attack resembled the suicide bombings in March at the main airport in Brussels.
Reports have emerged about the identities of the suicide bombers as well as the organizer, … a top soldier in the ISIS war ministry.
Two of the three assailants in the terror attack at Ataturk Airport were identified as Rakim Bulgarov and Vadim Osmanov, according to Turkey’s state news agency Anadolu, citing an anonymous prosecution source.
That report did not identify the third attacker and did not reveal their nationalities. But officials have said they believe the three attackers are from Russia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, and entered Turkey a month ago from Syria’s ISIS stronghold of Raqqa.
Gunmen in Bangladesh killed 20 hostages and two police officers late Friday and early Saturday before authorities raided the restaurant and ended the standoff.
The massacre occurred at the end of the day when Muslims would have been breaking their daily fast for Ramadan.
Authorities released the nationalities of the 20 hostages found dead … after Bangladeshi troops stormed the cafe early Saturday morning, ending a nearly 11-hour siege. …
The attack took place in the city’s diplomatic enclave, and those killed were from around the globe: Italians, Japanese, Indian, Bangladeshi and an American …
ISIS claimed responsibility, but … all the attackers in the deadly assault on a cafe in Dhaka were Bangladeshi citizens.
In that bloodbath, the terrorists spared hostages who could recite the Koran.
A suicide truck bomb ripped through a busy shopping district in Baghdad Saturday night, killing more than 200 people.
The strike in the Karrada neighborhood also left at least 175 people wounded.
Families had been gathering hours after they broke the fast for Ramadan and prepared for Eid al-Fitr – the day that marks the end of the holiday this week.
As people congregated, shopped and watched soccer matches, the bomb-laden truck plowed into a building housing a coffee shop, stores and a gym. Firefighters rescued wounded and trapped people in adjacent buildings.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the action …
For a video and many pictures of this atrocity see the Daily Mail here.
Kuwait security agencies foiled a number of ISIS plots in three preemptive operations on Sunday, according to Kuwait news agency Kuna.
Kuna reports the arrested ISIS members were planning to strike a Jaafari mosque in Hawali and a Ministry of Interior facility during the first days of Eid Al-Fitr, at the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
Saudi Arabia endured a wave of suicide bombings over a 24-hour period ending Monday, a coordinated string of attacks analysts are linking to ISIS.
The strikes occurred near the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah, and a Shiite mosque in Qatif. The holy city of Medina was also a target. The strikes failed in Jeddah and Qatif. Four people were killed in Medina.
There has been no claim of responsibility. But Peter Bergen, CNN national security analyst, said ISIS called for attacks during Ramadan and “now we have them”.
*eg. “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves.” – Koran 48:29. “Fight everyone in the way of Allah and kill those who disbelieve in Allah” – Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 992.
These are extracts from a tribute to Bernard Lewis, historian of Islam, by Michael Curtis at American Thinker:
Bernard Lewis, the world’s greatest scholar of the Middle East, past and present, has just celebrated his 100th birthday. …
Bernard’s life starting with the passion for books and languages he had already displayed during his Jewish childhood in London, to his first publication in 1937, to his last book of reflections of a Middle East historian is one of devotion to his subject and commitment to truth. His writings on the Middle East, brilliant in the classical British tradition of Gibbon, Macaulay, and Hazlitt, have made an extraordinary contribution to understanding a troubled area of the world. All analysts, even media pundits, will appreciate his two approaches: emphasis on the need for careful historical research; and the importance of understanding a society from within, by learning its languages, reading its writings, visiting it, and talking to its people.
Bernard carried out his research in many countries, especially in Turkey, through his study of texts and documents in national archives that informed his commentaries on Islamic societies and cultures. He was proud of the fact that he was the first scholar to have access to the newly opened Ottoman archives, which then led in 1961 to his magisterial work, The Emergence of Modern Turkey. …
Bernard Lewis is “master of a dozen languages”. He can learn a new language in “a few days”.
One of the amusing events in his career occurred during World War II, while he was supposedly attached to the British Foreign Office but really a member of Army Intelligence. A document in Albanian had been found and possibly contained military information. Bernard learned Albanian in a few days, the only person in Britain who could accomplish this feat, and translated the document that turned out to be not a secret document but a laundry list.
It needs to be said in this era of political correctness that Bernard defended and was proud of his profession as a student of Orientalism, the philology, culture, and religion of the Middle East. Orientalism for him was not, as some literary critics such as Edward Said have asserted, a tool of Western imperialist domination or exploitation by the West to seek power over the Islamic world, but an honorable profession of objective scholarship. … [He wrote]: “What imperial purpose was served by (Britain and France) deciphering the ancient Egyptian language, for example, and then restoring to the Egyptians knowledge of and pride in their forgotten, ancient past?”
Much of the continuing interest in Bernard’s work on the part of both specialists and the public, stems from his objective analysis of Islamic history and societies. Lewis was never politically correct, and considered political correctness to be anathema. His writings on the religion of Islam and Islamic societies remain vital because of the 1.3 billion Muslims and the role of the Muslim world at the present time. Bernard said he tried to provide a fair and balanced account of the realities of that world, good and bad. …
[H]e points out that the political history of Islam is one of almost unrelieved autocracy. It was authoritarian, often arbitrary, sometimes tyrannical, and still is today. There was a sovereign power to which subjects owed and still owe complete and unwavering obedience as a religious duty imposed by Holy Islamic law. …
In one of his books he discussed a rarely mentioned subject, one that is usually ignored today: the important Muslim involvement in and contribution to slavery and the slave trade. He was the first person to use the term “Islamic fundamentalism.”
Halfway through his career, Lewis almost by accident became a public intellectual. He reached a wider audience through his commentaries on the sad state of Islamic societies today. Perhaps the first influential and controversial publication was his essay in 1990 on The Roots of Muslim Rage. That rage stemmed partly from Muslim anger over the fact that infidels were ruling over true believers, and partly from the Muslim rejection and war on modernity.
The reality is that Muslim societies had not kept pace with the West. Lewis argued that from the 11th century on, Islamic societies have been decaying because if their own internal problems and self-inflicted failures on political, economic, and gender issues. The deterioration was not the result of Western colonialism. Nevertheless, Islamic societies blame the West for their failures rather than seek reform of their autocratic systems that subsidize extremism. …
He was the first analyst to be conscious, three years before the terrorist attacks of 9/11, of the significance of Osama bin Laden and his ideology of jihadism. Lewis saw Osama not as an ordinary terrorist, but as an ambitious warrior, planning to restore the Islamic Empire …
In this regard, two things were important for Lewis. One was that Islam has not divorced religion and politics. The other was that he rejected the idea that terrorism was not related to Islam. On the contrary, he asserted that terrorists themselves claimed to acting in the name of Islam. …
The issue now for the West is to seek the elimination of the present terrorist Islamist groups. How is this to be done?
He offers no formula for success:
Lewis has … argued that Western efforts and hopes to democratize the Middle East were unlikely to succeed. …
And yet …
Real peace in the Middle East can only come after the dictatorships in the area have gone.
Michael Curtis ends with a statement we heartily endorse:
It is important to recognize the intellectual giants who have contributed to our understanding of the world. Bernard Lewis is one of those giants.
In this video, published on May 28, 2016, Colonel Richard Kemp – former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, and an expert on Middle East conflicts – discusses what the Palestinian leadership really wants.
Tiffany Gabay comments at Truth Revolt:
Film maker Ami Horowitz is perhaps best known for his college expose-videos. You might recall the one he did back in 2014 when he waved an ISIS flag at the UC Berkeley campus and students witnessing the scene were either unfazed or openly expressed support for the terror-outfit.
His latest video is just as disturbing.
Horowitz visited the campus at Portland State University where he posed as a member of Hamas raising funds to “wipe Israel off the map”.
Usually I refrain from posting these types of gotcha-videos as they can be edited to make anyone simply “look bad”. But given the egregious nature of the content here, we think it worth sharing.
Horowitz asked student passersby if they would consider donating to Hamas. He openly identified Hamas as a “terrorist” organization (in case the students were too dumb to know), and told students, at least in several cases, that their donations would fund suicide bombings and attacks on schools, cafes, houses of worship and other “soft targets”. He openly told several of the students featured that Hamas’s goal is to “wipe Israel off the map”.
Is the video edited to show instances in which students may have rejected his overtures? No doubt. But there is also ample footage showing enough students who were all too happy to reach into their pockets and support the murder of innocent Israelis, including children.
At the end of the day, Horowitz said he raised “hundreds of dollars” from these pro-Hamas students.
This is no laughing matter, because this isn’t about exposing how grotesquely ignorant students are these days. This isn’t even about their misguided politics, either.
This video illustrates how the minds of an entire generation have been completely and utterly poisoned — by the media, by Hollywood, through the words of presidential candidates (read: Bernie Sanders) and most of all by their professors.
Really consider this, for a moment. There are American students who don’t even flinch when approached by a so-called Hamas member. They don’t hesitate when told that Israel should be wiped off the map. They don’t blink an eye when told that children in schools will be murdered. In fact, they are even willing to fund such an effort.
This is anti-Semitism at its most blatant. This is utter lack of humanity. Barbarism at its basest. These students barely differ from the terrorists they openly support.
This is the left’s legacy. And once again, it is a disgrace.
Has there ever been a president of the United States – or of a middle school debating club – who knew as little, and cared as little to know anything, as President Barack Hussein Obama?
He employed an immature would-be novelist to make up stories about the world and international affairs, then acted on the fiction.
The result is that the Middle East is in flames, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, millions have been displaced, Europe is being overrun by Muslim “refugees”, and the savagely belligerent regime that rules the Islamic state of Iran is freely developing nuclear weapons and missiles to deliver them – and getting more than a billion dollars from the United States to help them do it.
We quote from an article at PJ Media by the excellent Claudia Rosett (who has revealed much about Evil’s HQ, the United Nations):
It’s a good bet that by now the entire foreign policy cosmos … has read the York Times Magazineprofile of Deputy National Security Advisor Benjamin Rhodes, “The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru”. The reporter, David Samuels, had extraordinary access to the White House, multiple well-placed sources and in his 9,500 word piece he provides plenty of attribution, including quotes from Rhodes himself. We get a detailed look, behind the White House facade, at Rhodes, “master shaper and retailer of Obama’s foreign policy narratives,” complete with his contempt for Congress, the press and the public; his manipulation of the media; and a case study of his “narrative” of liesconcocted to grease a path for Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement – the unpopular, murky, amorphous and deeply dangerous Iran nuclear deal.
Freighted with the far-reaching effects of a major treaty, the Iran deal was never submitted by Obama to the Senate for ratification as a treaty. Framed as an agreement with Iran, it was never signed by Iran. Sold by the administration as a transparent deal, it is turning out to be a slush heap of secrets. The real blob in this drama is the rolling sludge of presidential over-reach, White House fictions and raw abuse of public trust that has brought us everything from the indigestible “Affordable Care Act” to the Benghazi “video” narrative, to the Iran deal. …
Leading members of Congress are calling on President Obama to fire Rhodes “over accusations the White House intentionally misled lawmakers and the American public about the contents of last summer’s comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran”.
In a letter to Obama, Senators Mark Kirk, John Cornyn and John Barrasso cite Rhodes’s statement to the New York Times that the White House peddled a phony narrative to sell the Iran deal because he considered it “impossible” for elected lawmakers to have “a sober, reasoned public debate, after which the members of Congress reflect and take a vote’. They note, if Rhodes “had conducted himself this way in a typical place of business outside Washington, where American taxpayers work, he surely would have been already fired or asked to resign”.
So, why does Ben Rhodes still have his job?
The broad answer involves the moral vertigo of modern Washington, the Instagram attention span of too many members of a Twitter-driven press corps, and the self-abasements of a culture in which the old American spirit of individual responsibility and free enterprise has been devolving — with many a prompt from President You-Didn’t-Build-That — into a selfie-snapping contest for “safe spaces” and “free stuff”.
In that context, dude, what difference does it make if Boy Wonder Ben Rhodes, speechwriter and “strategic communicator”, mind-melded with the president, carries on manufacturing and marketing the “narrative” that passes these days for foreign policy? Once you dispense with the baggage of reality, and its knock-on effects for those multitudes of lesser mortals who have never flown on Air Force One, what’s left is former White House staffer Tommy Vietor (“Dude, this was like two years ago”), buddy of Ben Rhodes, techno-chatting to one of Washington’s best reporters, Eli Lake (who knows plenty), that he’s sure most folks outside of Washington think the Rhodes profile was just a “fascinating profile of a brilliant guy with a really cool job”.
All these things matter. But there’s a far more direct answer to the question of why Rhodes still has his job.
Under the old rules of American politics, a top White House staffer getting caught betraying the public trust (and then gloating over it) would have been a firing offense. Not anymore. For this president, with his pen, phone and proclivity for executive diktat, the priority is not the rights of the American people, or their elected lawmakers in Congress, or fidelity to the truth. What matters is loyalty to Obama and his agenda – however radical that becomes, and whatever it might require in terms of lies, manipulation and disregard for democratic process.
The real story here is not Rhodes. It’s his boss. Rhodes is no rogue element on Obama’s staff. We’ve heard no protest from the White House over Rhodes’s statement in the Samuels profile that “I don’t know anymore where I begin and Obama ends”.
What’s come out of the White House instead is an article by Rhodes on “How We Advocated for the Iran Deal”; now coupled with a rejection by the White House of an invitation from Congress for Rhodes to come testify on that very topic, at a hearing held earlier today. A prime distinction between these two poles is that Rhodes, when writing an article, controls the narrative from his keyboard (dispensing with assorted inconvenient truths on grounds that “I’m sure I’ll have plenty of opportunities to respond to those topics in the weeks and months to come”). In front of the likes of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, there’s the awkward chance that Rhodes might lose control of his narrative.
The White House argued that the invitation for Rhodes to testify “raises significant constitutional concerns rooted in the separation of powers”. That would be more persuasive had the president shown any such concern for the Constitution while ramming through the Iran deal. That was not solely a matter of peddling the Rhodes-Obama narrative. Obama also raced to get United Nations Security Council approval for the deal before Congress had a chance to delve into it. Recall Obama’s lead negotiator, Wendy Sherman, ridiculing the idea that the administration should take the position “Well, excuse me, the world, you should wait for the United States Congress”. (Yes, Wendy, this being America, that is exactly how it should have worked).
The White House further argues that “the appearance of a senior presidential adviser before Congress threatens the independence and autonomy of the President, as well as his ability to receive candid advice and counsel in the discharge of his constitutional duties”. Fine, if the White House is dealing with Congress and the public in good faith. But when the candid advice and counsel consists of concocting and packaging lies – excuse me, “narratives” – designed to neuter Congress and mislead the public, where does that take us? …
When an administration is caught deliberately spinning lies, when a White House official paid to uphold the public trust is exposed as deriding and manipulating that same public, the response needed for the healthy working of democracy is apology, contrition and a real remedy. If the official does not have conscience enough to resign, the president should do the honors, by firing him. Or her.
But nothing can undo the harm that the Rhodes-Obama twin-headed monster has done.
Under Obama, it has become standard procedure that such firings do not take place. Obama shrugs off the news, doubles down on the narrative and bulldozes ahead. Once the scandal is consigned to last week’s news cycle, for purposes of this administration it is down the Memory Hole. Obamacare, with its partisan vote, indecipherable text, soaring costs and disastrous web site rollout; an American economy choking under regulations; the disintegration of Libya, the vanishing red line in Syria, the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, the rise of ISIS, North Korea’s nuclear tests, Iran’s ballistic missile tests, China’s military buildup, Russia’s turf grabs – the Obama narrative says it is all under control. Nothing much to see here, move along. Or, to quote Obama’s first secretary of State, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”
In the resulting vacuum, absent ethical or responsible leadership at the very top, we’re left to amuse ourselves with the chatter of the echo chamber – home to the infinitely malleable narratives of Rhodes and his boss. Last Wednesday, seeking to mollify the reporters so roundly insulted by Rhodes, White House spokesman Josh Earnest and Chief of Staff Denis McDonough brought a box of donuts to the White House press corps, calling their visit “press appreciation day”. Earnest assured reporters that Rhodes would revise the contemptuous statements about the press, “given a chance”. Does that mean Rhodes will now disavow, in the White House inner chambers, that “candid advice and counsel” so prized by the president? …
We wouldn’t be at all surprised if the White House press corps was bought off with a box of donuts.
Why would Obama fire Rhodes? If nothing else comes clear from this saga, it is that Rhodes has served for years as one of the chief ideological bag men of Obama’s presidency. If, under their ministrations the possibilities of free and open discourse are vanishing in Washington, replaced by bully pulpit narratives bouncing around the echo chamber, wasn’t that the reason Obama gave Rhodes all that power in the first place?
The four devastating mistakes of the West since the Second World War were:
- Establishing socialist welfare states – so creating classes of permanent dependents.
- Creating the European Union – its members thus losing sovereignty and democratic government, and coming under the corrupt and arbitrary rule of unelected bureaucrats.
- Allowing the influx of unlimited numbers of Muslim settlers – a continuing invasion and colonization that is likely to destroy European culture.
- The election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States. In America itself, President Obama increased economic redistribution through a tyrannical health care act, reduced prosperity, and weakened the rule of law. And his feeble foreign policy effected wars, civil wars, massacres, enslavements, and a vast displacement of populations.
Can the West recover?
There is no sign that socialist policies are changing in Europe. But the European Union is under increasing strain. Britain may withdraw from it in the near future, and that could encourage other members to recover their independence. Sovereign states will be able to change their immigration policies – though it is probably too late for any European country to save itself from eventual Muslim domination.
As for America, if another “progressive” (Democratic Leftist) president follows Obama, there will be no recovery from stagnation at home and weakness abroad. But America has a chance of changing for the better if a Republican administration is elected this year.
The fate of Western civilization depends on it.
It is more than likely now that Donald Trump will be the Republican Party’s nominee in the presidential election this November.
It is therefore very likely that the Republican platform will be what he wants it to be. And many Republicans, especially the go-along-to-get-along pillars of the Grand Old Party, most prominently its leaders in Congress, do not like what he wants. They repudiate him and his ideas. They say he is unfaithful to conservative principles and will alter long-standing Republican policies. But if their choice is between changing principles and policies to those of Trump or breaking the Party asunder by thwarting the will of the millions of voters he attracts, they will accept – are slowly coming round to accepting – Trump and his vision for America. (While probably still planning to knock it into a more familiar and acceptable shape.)
What do his conservative Republican critics object to in particular?
In an article hostile to Donald Trump, but accepting that he is almost certain to be the Republican nominee, Linda Chavez writes at Townhall:
Trump represents a repudiation of the Republican Party’s commitment to smaller government, free trade and an internationalist foreign policy.
Let’s consider these commitments one by one, and assess how far Trump is likely to change them, and how bad the change would be.
Smaller government is certainly a cherished principle of conservative Republicanism. We list it among our core conservative ideals, along with individual freedom, a market economy, and strong defense. Regretfully we admit that government is not likely ever again to be actually small, but does Trump not say anything that suggests he would reduce the hugely overblown bureaucracy oppressing Americans now? He does. He says he will lower taxes. Lower taxes must mean some shrinking of government. And that’s probably the most any conservative Republican could do.
It’s on free trade that we have a difference of opinion with Trump. He has indicated that he would match tariff barriers with tariff barriers. We think that’s counter-productive. But it’s not enough to induce us to call Trump a wrecker of American prosperity. In fact, most of his economic thinking is likely to increase American prosperity very considerably. He would stop foreign aid unless America got something back for it. He would make those countries that want American military protection contribute to the cost of it. And he has plans for job creation which we’re inclined to trust because, as an extremely successful businessman, he has done it.
As for the Republican “internationalist foreign policy” – we’re coming to that.
Here are some points from Charles Krauthammer’s syndicated column on Trump’s recent foreign policy speech. Much as we respect Charles Krauthammer, on this rare occasion we disagree with him.
On the Republican side … foreign policy has been the subject of furious debate. To which Donald Trump has contributed significantly, much of it off-the-cuff, contradictory and confused. Hence his foreign policy speech on Wednesday. It was meant to make him appear consistent, serious and presidential. …
Its major theme, announced right at the top [was]: America First. Classically populist and invariably popular, it is nonetheless quite fraught. On the one hand, it can be meaningless — isn’t every president trying to advance American interests? …
On the other hand, America First does have a history. In 1940, when Britain was fighting for its life and Churchill was begging for U.S. help, it was the name of the group most virulently opposed to U.S. intervention. It disbanded — totally discredited — four days after Pearl Harbor. …
The irony is … it is the underlying theme of [Obama’s] foreign policy — which Trump constantly denounces as a series of disasters. Obama, like Trump, is animated by the view that we are overextended and overinvested abroad. …
Both the left and right have a long history of advocating American retreat and retrenchment. The difference is that liberals want to come home because they think we are not good enough for the world. Conservatives want to wash their hands of the world because they think the world is not good enough for us.
That’s nicely put! Our disagreements will come below.
For Obama, we are morally unworthy to act as world hegemon. Our hands are not clean. He’s gone abroad confessing our various sins — everything from the Iranian coup of 1953 to our unkind treatment of Castro’s Cuba to the ultimate blot, Hiroshima, a penitential visit to which Obama is currently considering.
Trump would be rightly appalled by such a self-indicting trip. His foreign policy stems from a proud nationalism that believes that these recalcitrant tribes and nations are unworthy of American expenditures of blood and treasure.
At least Krauthammer calls it “a proud nationalism”. Linda Chavez, in her article, likens Trump’s nationalism to disreputable [?] European nationalist groups which are better described as tribal. She seems to forget that the United States has for centuries been a melting-pot, and the American nation has been – until very recently under Obama – the least tribal in the world. And Trump’s “nationalism” is better described as patriotism. That’s what an American’s “proud nationalism” really is.
This has been the underlying view of conservative isolationism … It is not without its attractions. Trump’s version, however, is inconsistent and often contradictory. After all, he pledged to bring stability to the Middle East. How do you do that without presence, risk and expenditures (financial and military)? He attacked Obama for letting Iran become a “great power.” But doesn’t resisting that automatically imply engagement?
More incoherent still is Trump’s insistence on being unpredictable. An asset perhaps in real estate deals, but in a Hobbesian world American allies rely on American consistency, often as a matter of life or death. Yet Trump excoriated the Obama-Clinton foreign policy for losing the trust of our allies precisely because of its capriciousness. The tilt toward Iran. The red line in Syria. Canceling the Eastern European missile defense. Abandoning Hosni Mubarak.
Trump’s scripted, telepromptered speech was intended to finally clarify his foreign policy. It produced instead a jumble. The basic principle seems to be this: Continue the inexorable Obama-Clinton retreat, though for reasons of national self-interest, rather than of national self-doubt. And except when, with studied inconsistency, he decides otherwise.
Is Trump’s patriotism a “version of isolationism”? Is it “inconsistent and often contradictory”? By “unpredictable” did he mean what Krauthammer is taking his words to mean?
What did Trump actually say?
We quote his speech in part (find all of it here):
America first will be the major and overriding theme of my administration. But to chart our path forward, we must first briefly take a look back. We have a lot to be proud of.
In the 1940s we saved the world. The greatest generation beat back the Nazis and Japanese imperialists. Then we saved the world again. This time, from totalitarianism and communism. The Cold War lasted for decades but, guess what, we won and we won big. …
Does he regret those American involvements? Not at all. He is proud of them.
Unfortunately, after the Cold War our foreign policy veered badly off course. We failed to develop a new vision for a new time. In fact, as time went on, our foreign policy began to make less and less sense. … We went from mistakes in Iraq to Egypt to Libya, to President Obama’s line in the sand in Syria. Each of these actions have helped to throw the region into chaos and gave ISIS the space it needs to grow and prosper. Very bad. It all began with a dangerous idea that we could make western democracies out of countries that had no experience or interests in becoming a western democracy.
With that we could not agree more strongly. It is not possible to turn states like Iraq and Afghanistan – Arab states, Islamic states – into Western style democracies.
And as for his comment on Obama’s actions – they have been “unpredictable” in that they make no logical sense. Krauthammer chooses them as examples of unpredictability to condemn Trump’s recommendation of it, when in fact Trump means something entirely different – as we shall see.
We tore up what institutions they had and then were surprised at what we unleashed. Civil war, religious fanaticism, thousands of Americans and just killed be lives, lives, lives wasted. Horribly wasted. Many trillions of dollars were lost as a result. The vacuum was created that ISIS would fill. Iran, too, would rush in and fill that void much to their really unjust enrichment.
They have benefited so much, so sadly, for us. Our foreign policy is a complete and total disaster. No vision. No purpose. No direction. No strategy.
Trump goes on to “identify weaknesses in our foreign policy” and to say how he would fix them. Among them (they are worth reading in full) is this:
We’ve had a president who dislikes our friends and bows to our enemies, something that we’ve never seen before in the history of our country. He negotiated a disastrous deal with Iran, and then we watched them ignore its terms even before the ink was dry. Iran cannot be allowed to have a nuclear weapon, cannot be allowed. Remember that, cannot be allowed to have a nuclear weapon. And under a Trump administration, will never, ever be allowed to have that nuclear weapon …
At the end of his analysis and outline of his intentions he promises:
This will all change when I become president.
To our friends and allies, I say America is going to be strong again. America is going to be reliable again. It’s going to be a great and reliable ally again. It’s going to be a friend again. We’re going to finally have a coherent foreign policy based upon American interests and the shared interests of our allies. …
Does that sound isolationist?
We need a long-term plan to halt the spread and reach of radical Islam.Containing the spread of radical Islam must be a major foreign policy goal of the United States and indeed the world. Events may require the use of military force, but it’s also a philosophical struggle, like our long struggle in the Cold War.
Absolutely right! And no other politician, as far as we can recall, has said it before.
He goes on to speak of “working very closely with our allies in the Muslim world”, which is one of the few points on which we disagree. There can be no such thing as an American ally in the Muslim world, precisely because “the philosophical struggle” prohibits it. Islam is ideologically opposed to the West.
… And then there’s ISIS. I have a simple message for them. Their days are numbered. I won’t tell them where and I won’t tell them how. We must as a nation be more unpredictable. We are totally predictable. We tell everything. We’re sending troops. We tell them. We’re sending something else. We have a news conference. We have to be unpredictable. And we have to be unpredictable starting now. But they’re going to be gone. ISIS will be gone if I’m elected president. And they’ll be gone quickly. They will be gone very, very quickly.
So that is what Trump means by “unpredicatble”. A commander-in-chief does not announce to his country’s enemy just when its army will stop fighting and when he will withdraw his troops – as Obama has done. It is a military absurdity!
He goes on to say “we have to rebuild our military and our economy”.
The Russians and Chinese have rapidly expanded their military capability, but look at what’s happened to us. Our nuclear weapons arsenal, our ultimate deterrent, has been allowed to atrophy and is desperately in need of modernization and renewal. And it has to happen immediately. Our active duty armed forces have shrunk from 2 million in 1991 to about 1.3 million today. The Navy has shrunk from over 500 ships to 272 ships during this same period of time. The Air Force is about one-third smaller than 1991. Pilots flying B-52s in combat missions today. These planes are older than virtually everybody in this room.
And what are we doing about this? President Obama has proposed a 2017 defense budget that in real dollars, cuts nearly 25 percent from what we were spending in 2011. Our military is depleted and we’re asking our generals and military leaders to worry about global warming.
We will spend what we need to rebuild our military. It is the cheapest, single investment we can make. We will develop, build and purchase the best equipment known to mankind. Our military dominance must be unquestioned, and I mean unquestioned, by anybody and everybody.
Does that sound “isolationist”?
But we will look for savings and spend our money wisely. In this time of mounting debt, right now we have so much debt that nobody even knows how to address the problem. But I do. No one dollar can be wasted. Not one single dollar can we waste. We’re also going to have to change our trade, immigration and economic policies to make our economy strong again. And to put Americans first again. …
But, he says …
I believe an easing of tensions, and improved relations with Russia from a position of strength only is possible, absolutely possible. Common sense says this cycle, this horrible cycle of hostility must end and ideally will end soon. Good for both countries.
Some say the Russians won’t be reasonable. I intend to find out. If we can’t make a deal under my administration, a deal that’s great — not good, great — for America, but also good for Russia, then we will quickly walk from the table. It’s as simple as that. We’re going to find out.
Fixing our relations with China is another important step — and really toward creating an even more prosperous period of time. China respects strength and by letting them take advantage of us economically, which they are doing like never before, we have lost all of their respect.
We have a massive trade deficit with China, a deficit that we have to find a way quickly, and I mean quickly, to balance. A strong and smart America is an America that will find a better friend in China, better than we have right now. Look at what China is doing in the South China Sea. They’re not supposed to be doing it. …
To be militarily strong again, and at the same time try to negotiate better relations with an aggressive Russia and China – is that “contradictory” or is it speaking softly while carrying a big stick?
I will not hesitate to deploy military force when there is no alternative. But if America fights, it must only fight to win. …
Our power will be used if others do not play by the rules. In other words, if they do not treat us fairly. Our friends and enemies must know that if I draw a line in the sand, I will enforce that line in the sand. Believe me. …
My goal is to establish a foreign policy that will endure for several generations. That’s why I also look and have to look for talented experts with approaches and practical ideas … We have to look to new people because many of the old people frankly don’t know what they’re doing …
No country has ever prospered that failed to put its own interests first. Both our friends and our enemies put their countries above ours and we, while being fair to them, must start doing the same. We will no longer surrender this country or its people to the false song of globalism. The nation-state remains the true foundation for happiness and harmony. I am skeptical of international unions … And under my administration, we will never enter America into any agreement that reduces our ability to control our own affairs. …
I will view as president the world through the clear lens of American interests. I will be America’s greatest defender and most loyal champion. …
The world is most peaceful and most prosperous when America is strongest. America will continue and continue forever to play the role of peacemaker. We will always help save lives and indeed humanity itself, but to play the role, we must make America strong again. … We have to and we will make America great again.
Where are the alleged “inconsistencies”? Where is the “jumble”. (We urge doubters to read the whole speech and tell us if they find any inconsistencies or contradictions that we have overlooked.)
The speech as a whole could be taken as a manifesto of the new Republicanism – what the Republican Party will stand for under the leadership of Donald Trump. He will take the Party forward, but not in the direction it has long wanted to go. It wanted to go, but did not move. He will make both good and bad decisions, as leaders generally do. But he will make them in the interests of a strong and prosperous America, and that is an America that is good for the world.