Sabotaging America 5

What was the Iranian regime to Obama that he was prepared to go to any lengths to get an accord with it, however flimsy?

The one thing that could not have been worth so many concessions, so much money, so much push and effort, so much humiliation, was a desire to save the world from a nuclear Iran. The accord he got, far from stopping Iran arming itself with nukes, gave it permission to build them after the very short interval of ten years. As the final agreement – called “a nuclear deal framework” – bears the date April 2, 2015, in a little over seven years from the day of this writing Iran can have its nukes. (But fear not. President Trump wants the deal “fixed” so that Iran will never be allowed to make nukes. As Iran will not agree to this, the fragile accord will fade away.)

So what drove Obama? Why did he burn to achieve even the merest semblance of a deal?

Did his eminence grise Valerie Jarrett – born in Iran – help work up his hunger for it?

How much did the obedient servant he sent to make the concessions in the pseudo-negotiations, Secretary of State John Kerry – whose daughter had married an Iranian – reinforce his emotional quest for amity with the regime?

Could it be that he actually wanted to find a way of helping Iran become a nuclear power? The theocracy of Iran? The state that threatens “Death  to America” and screams “Death to Israel”? Is it possible?

The more that is revealed of what Obama was prepared to pay and do, the more certain it seems that some enormously desirable objective lured him on. There was no Iranian demand too heavy, too humiliating, too outrageous that it could not be agreed to. No price too high. Why?

Was it because Obama longed for a victory of Islam over the state of Israel? That would seem a big enough aim to explain his dogged pursuit of an accord. It also fits with his perfectly apparent contempt and dislike of Israel, and his manifest affection for Islam.

And could it also possibly be that he wanted to harm the United States? His own country? The country of which he was (astoundingly) president for eight years? (Also the country for which he apologized to the world!)

If it was not the destruction of Israel, the triumph of Islam, and the mortification of America, what else could his objective have been?

New revelations of his concessions, strategems, betrayals now emerge, confirming that his dedication to the task of placating and pleasing the ayatollahs was nothing short of passionate.

Ari Lieberman writes at Front Page:

We thought the Obama administration could stoop no lower when it was revealed that the administration transferred $1.7 billion in untraceable cash to the Islamic Republic as ransom for the release of four Americans hostages they were holding. We were wrong. In its twilight weeks, the administration gave its consent to allow the Iranians to receive 116 metric tons of natural uranium from Russia as compensation for its export of tons of reactor coolant. According to experts familiar with the transaction, the uranium could be enriched to weapons-grade sufficient for the production of at least 10 nuclear bombs.

If you thought that the administration’s betrayal of America’s security could go no further, you were wrong. Last month Politico, not known as a bastion of conservatism, published a bombshell 50-page exposé detailing the Obama administration’s efforts to delay, hinder and ultimately shut down a highly successful DEA operation – codenamed Project Cassandra – aimed at tracking and thwarting Hezbollah drug trafficking, arms trafficking and money laundering schemes. As a result, Hezbollah continued to import drugs into the United States, continued to provide anti-U.S. insurgents with deadly EFPs and continued to launder drug money to the tune of billions.

If you thought that was the end of the story, you were wrong. It seems that with each passing day, another layer of deceit and betrayal committed by the Obama administration is uncovered. The latest Obama scandal involves a reported effort by the administration to thwart an Israeli operation to liquidate Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani.

The Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida reported that three years ago, Israel was on the verge of liquidating Soleimani near Damascus but the Obama administration tipped off Teheran of Israel’s plans. Soleimani is no ordinary general. He is arguably the world’s premier terrorist and is commander of Iran’s Quds Force, a branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, responsible for its overseas mischief-making. Where there is drugs, misery and conflict, it’s a sure bet that Soleimani and his Quds Force are involved.

The elimination of Soleimani would have been a tremendous coup for the West, on par with or perhaps surpassing the assassination of Imad Mughniyah, chief of Hezbollah’s special operations. But the Obama administration, in its sycophantic zeal to curry favor with the mullahs, sabotaged the operation. …

This would not be the first time that the Obama administration betrayed an Israeli covert operation.

In 2012, the Obama administration leaked damaging information that inexplicably sought to sabotage a burgeoning strategic alliance between Israel and Azerbaijan. Such an alliance would have enabled Israel to seek alternate bases in close proximity to Iran from which it could conduct military operations including surveillance and rescue missions, refueling and maintenance and even direct military strikes. The embarrassing disclosure shed unwanted light on a covert military alliance that would have greatly enhanced Israel’s strategic capabilities vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic.

Then again in 2013, Israeli officials bitterly complained to the Obama administration over leaks sourced to administration officials that the Israeli Air Force had struck a military base near the Syrian port city of Latakia. The Israelis termed the leak “scandalous” and bitterly noted that it was not the first time that administration officials had publicly linked Israel to attacks aimed at preventing arms from falling into the hands of Hezbollah terrorists. At the time, the Israelis were attempting to keep a low profile but the administration’s leaks blew everything and Israel’s involvement could no longer be concealed.

It could not be any clearer that Barack Obama, when he was president of the United States, actively worked against the interests of America’s ally, Israel, and against America’s own interests. 

It is now up to his successor to stop Iran becoming a nuclear power, restore trust between the US and Israel, and make America great again. (A good four words those. President Trump would do well to make them his slogan.)

Posted under Anti-Semitism, Commentary, Defense, Diplomacy, Iran, Islam, middle east, Syria, Treason, United States by Jillian Becker on Sunday, January 14, 2018

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A great man, a great president 4

It is time to sing the praises of a great president who has accomplished wonders in just one year of his presidency – while being opposed, impeded, maligned, frustrated, denigrated and threatened  by his political opponents, most of the media, and a large contingent of snobby Republicans.

Karin McQuillan does the singing beautifully. She understands that great accomplishment is possible only to those who possess the character and talent for it.

She writes at American Thinker:

As more and more people who hate Trump are forced to admit his achievements as president, they are doubling down on character assassination. Even Trump voters often preface their satisfaction with Trump’s actions by criticizing his tweets or his personality.

Here’s an alternate take on things: Trump’s character is responsible for his outstanding performance in his first year as president. If you want to know who someone is, you look at what he does. What we have: a booming economy, growing jobs, more lawful governance, fewer regulations, more global security. What character traits this took: hard work, focus, commitment, courage, honesty, independence, incorruptibility, self-confidence, love of excellence. The list of Trump’s positive character traits goes on and on. You don’t get achievements independent of character.

I think Trump’s character is excellent.

Trump’s integrity in office is outstanding – the first politician in my memory who is sticking to his promises to voters. We are hugely benefiting from his promise-keeping.

His primary promise was to focus on jobs. Wow, has he delivered. Jobless claims have dropped to the lowest level in 44 years – last seen in 1973, under Nixon. Record-breaking low unemployment in 13 states. Investment reinvigorating the Rust Belt. More high-paying jobs in mining, oil, and industry – another promise kept, as President Trump has unleashed the energy sector and boosted capital investment.

Lazy, leftist, passive President Obama lectured us to accept the new normal of a stagnant economy, which was what his policies delivered. GDP growth was 1.6 percent in 2016.

Passivity and defeatism are not in Trump’s nature. He is a fighter who thinks big. He believes in free enterprise in his gut, because he is himself a go-getter. He thought big for the American economy, because he believes in Americans. Trump likes to say he completed his projects on time and under budget. It was a matter of pride for him. Pride can be a good thing.

Trump was scoffed at as a braggart and buffoon for promising 3-percent growth. He has already over-delivered.

The unemployment gap between blacks and whites has fallen to a record low. Trump promised the black community a better life in a better economy, and he has come through.

Unemployment for Hispanic Americans is the lowest in history. Another promise kept, as our Hispanic citizens have benefited from Trump enforcing our border laws and driving farm wages up. …

Trump boosted the economy through vigorous action: cutting regs, boosting the energy sector, restoring business confidence, dramatic corporate tax cuts, bringing back investments from overseas, and cutting job competition from illegal aliens. We now have a tight labor market, and wages are rising.

For much of the year, Trump was doing a lot of jaw-boning and executive actions, with no legislative back-up. These economic achievements came from President Trump’s character strengths. He is a high-focus, driven bulldozer of a man who gets things done. He’s a practical man. He’s a hard worker. These are not sophisticated or cultured or warm, fuzzy traits; they are traits of a strong man.

We have forgotten to honor masculinity in our culture.

President Trump did more than any president in history in his first year to relieve the regulatory burden on Americans. Complying with useless government regulations costs the economy $2 trillion a year, or 21% of the average payroll per American company. Estimates are that the Obama regs slowed the economy by 0.8%. Trump’s regulatory cuts, in which his administration removed 22 outdated regulations for each new one, is a big part of his doubling our economic growth in one year.

What did it take to cut the size of government and unleash the power of capitalism in this way? It was motivated not by conservative principles of small government. It was based in Trump’s character. He is one hundred percent practical. He has a strong sense of fairness. He is fearless. He thrives on opposition. He has incredible guts and stubbornness, necessary to take on the federal bureaucracy. He doesn’t give in when opponents fight dirty, and boy, does the Deep State fight dirty. He is not scared of the media’s attacks on him as a monster destroying the planet and abandoning the poor.

He is a creative and master fighter, as we see in the his effective use of tweets and branding to encourage his supporters and sow confusion among the enemy. …

He does not flout the law … like the underhanded Barack Obama. Obama’s DOJ and EPA created secret and illegal slush funds. The Democrat DOJ blackmailed the industries it was regulating in order to provide half a billion dollars to left-wing groups. The EPA used phony sue-and-settle tactics to hand undemocratic power to privileged leftist groups.

In sharp contrast, Trump … respects the rule of law. He honors the presidency. He is open and forthright. His administration has turned the DOJ and EPA back to following the laws as written.

Obama was an unhealthy narcissist who had never accomplished anything in the real world, yet he boasted that he knew more about every topic than his top advisers. … The mediocre surround themselves with lesser mediocrities. Obama undoubtedly did know more about foreign affairs than his right-hand national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, a speechwriter with a degree in creative writing.

Trump … is not afraid of being surrounded by top experts. He expects them to know far more in their fields than he does. Trump’s pride makes him seek excellence in others. He has created an impressive Cabinet and White House staff of brilliant achievers. You don’t get effective results on the economy and foreign affairs without a high-quality leader.

The importance of character to effectiveness cannot be overstated. … He is not discouraged by failures and mistakes; he learns from them. He doesn’t just set goals; he follows up on results. He faces reality.

Trump does not see Americans in different categories.  He cares about all Americans, black, white and brown; rich, middle-class, and poor; city-dwellers and country-dwellers; New York sophisticates and Evangelicals. He values freedom and prosperity for himself and for the rest of us. He wants to do what is best for the country, not what is best for only some identity groups or some regions at the expense of others, as in Obama and Hillary’s zero-sum game of identity politics.

We barely survived eight years of a bigot in the White House: the resentful, racially obsessed President Obama, who disliked Evangelicals, rural Americans, working-class whites, white small businessmen, and Jews. At home, Obama purposefully stirred up racial hatred and violence for political gain. Abroad, Obama tried to hand over the Middle East to the Muslim Brotherhood and facilitate nuclear weapons for the mullahs as payback to America. Obama’s race-baiting led to Americans dying – assassinations of our men in blue and innocent black victims of the resulting crime spree. He chose to destabilize Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and Libya, setting off an unprecedented war on Christians and a Muslim migrant invasion of Europe. Maybe I missed it, but I don’t remember NeverTrumps criticizing Obama on character flaws.

Unlike our last president, President Trump is who he is. What you see is what you get. His candor is blunt and refreshing.  e is not an ideologue, not a secret schemer, not a race-baiter, not a bitter person seeking payback. …  [He] is a happy warrior.

Trump is honest in another sense, also: he is not corrupt.  Indeed, he seems incorruptible. Trump does not sell himself to certain industries or lobbying groups (think the Clinton Foundation; think Obama’s wasting the trillion-dollar economic stimulus on Solyndra green schemes and payoffs to Democrat voting blocs).

President Trump is a unique politician – a free man.

There’s another set of admirable traits responsible for Trump’s economic achievements. … Trump actually notices and cares about other people.  His voters are real people to him, as he is real to them. …  His priority on growing the economy and job promotion comes from his love of ordinary people, working-class people of all colors and all regions, whom he sees as real human beings and treats with respect. What a relief after the cold and contemptuous President Obama, who cared about power, not people. Trump’s compassion and insight into working people’s lives are wonderful character traits, shared by few in his class.

The president is also our commander in chief. How has Trump’s character served him in this role?

Trump’s love of country and patriotism are dominant character traits. … [His] personal qualities have resulted in the defeat of ISIS, our improved relations with the Saudis (now on board fighting terrorism and cooperating with Israel), restoration of our warm alliance with Israel, decertifying the odious Iran deal, and supporting the Iranian demonstrators against the mullahs. European countries are finally paying their NATO dues, illegal aliens invading our country are being stopped at the border, the H-1B visa system is being applied lawfully to protect American jobs, and terrorists are no longer welcome into the country. Trump is in the process of bullying the Chinese and the U.N. and South Korea into more effective action against North Korea … The ability to bully opponents is something you want in a president.

Thanks to his fearless and clear-sighted character, we finally have a president who will not allow North Korea or Iran to have nuclear weapons.  Those of us who see that this is vital for national security are deeply grateful … 

Trump has an abundance of character strengths as a tough guy – he is brave, he is assertive, he is an experienced fighter, and he always goes on offense. He uses punishments and threats and intimidation, as well as cooperation and rewards, to get things done, because that is what it takes to win, and he wants to win. He is unpredictable and keeps his opponents off balance. He is impervious to their outrage. He is a fierce fighter against all who attack him or his family or his country.

NeverTrumps are allergic to Trump’s aggressive masculinity. … His commonsense thinking, bold methods, and blunt personality are toxic to them – never smart, never constructive, never heroic, never associated with his achievements. They are so blinded by their own hatred that they see Trump as a dangerous monster. They accept outright lies and miss the real man entirely.

In a mere 800-word column, Bret Stephens, conservative columnist for the New York Times, managed to call Trump, in Stephens’s own words, a lying, bullying, bigoted, ignorant, crass, petty, paranoid incompetent; a disgrace; an intemperate, dishonest demagogue who requires debased toadyism from his White House and Cabinet; a man who humiliates, denigrates, and insults his own officers and agencies, who is comparable to Juan Perón and Hugo Chávez and a deviant. Stephens talks of the irremediable “stain of [Trump’s] person,” Trump’s violence, his cult of strength (as in dictatorship), his disdain for truth, his hostility toward high culture, his conspiratorial thinking, and his white identity politics. In the midst of the hysterical name-calling, Stephens doesn’t point to a single bigoted word or action by Trump. He can’t. There is none. The accusations are partisan nonsense. In Stephens’s alternate universe, Trump’s evident competence, his love, respect, and commitment to help his fellow Americans, goes invisible, and we are left with a racist, fascist caricature born of leftist agitprop.

It is a sorry reflection on our polite society that they are having conniption fits over Trump’s character. They want to divide the man from his achievements, just as they successfully divided Obama from his failures. Can they succeed in besmirching Trump’s character as they succeeded in sanitizing Obama’s? Their megaphone is large, and their self-interest in supporting the status quo ante is strong. They have a ready-built audience. They have enlisted enemies within our own Republican camp.

We have Trump.  We are winning.

President Trump wants everything he works on to be as good, as well made, as fit for its purpose, as it can possibly be. He achieves it because he works for it. He is not satisfied by anything less than the best. How lucky is America that it has such a person willing and able to come to its rescue, not only to save it but to make it even better than it has ever been, after the eight-year battering it took under the former administration led by the Communist, Islam-loving, America-hating nonentity, Barack Obama!

 

(Hat-tip to Cogito for the link to Karin McQuillan’s fine article)

Posted under Commentary, Conservatism, Defense, Economics, Ethics, Law, liberty, United States by Jillian Becker on Saturday, January 6, 2018

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Winning 17

We had a commenter recently on our Facebook page who said that President Trump should “get off his ass” and do something. When we replied that he had achieved more in his first year than any other president in living memory, and against more deliberate hampering, blocking and resistance than any other president – and that he, the commenter,  only did not know this because he read the mainstream media which refused to report President Trump’s accomplishments – his further comment was a long string of hahahas.

As there must be millions who would also laugh at our assertion, it is time to list those accomplishments. And it is also time to name the conservatives who joined the hamperers, blockers and resisters in making it as hard for the president to achieve anything as they possibly could – out of sheer prejudice.

John Nolte has made such a list and named some of the most prominent guilty conservatives.

He writes at Breitbart:

Remember these names: Jonah Goldberg, David Frum, Bill Kristol, Rich Lowry, Max Boot, Mitt Romney, John Kasich, Joe Scarborough, Jeff Flake, Ben Sasse, Jennifer Rubin, George Will, Josh Jordan, Tom Nichols, Charles Cooke, Stephen Hayes, Tim Miller, John Podhoretz, Nicole Wallace, Steven Schmidt, Bret Stephens, Ross Douthat, Leon Wolf, David Brooks, Rick Wilson, Evan McMullin, Stuart Stevens, Red State, National Review, the Weekly Standard 

These are the so-called conservative men, women, and institutions who (among others) fought the hardest to sabotage Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, all in the unforgivable hope that Hillary Clinton would become president.

These are so-called conservatives who have, for nearly two years now, been promoting themselves and fundraising by smearing Trump as incompetent and “not a real conservative,” as a “Democrat in sheep’s clothing” — when, in fact, all of that best describes #NeverTrump.

These are the so-called conservatives who — after Trump’s first year in office — have now been proven as wrong as wrong can be. If their conservative credentials lost all credibility during a 2016 campaign during which they used whatever residual influence they had to hand the Oval Office to Clinton, the proven results of the past year should mean that they are written off forever as idiots, quacks, mercenaries, and con men.

Trump has had, in my opinion, the most successful first year of any president since Ronald Reagan. And not just a consequential first year that has already built a legacy, but conservative first year. Below, I do my best to list these accomplishments, but there are so many, forgive me if a few are missed:

  • Real, honest-to-goodness tax reform and cuts — the most consequential in 30 years.
  • Opening ANWR for oil exploration, an accomplishment few can appreciate who do not remember the 90s and what a sacred cow this is for the left.
  • Killing the Obamacare mandate that brutalized those making less than $50,000 a year.
  • The Islamic State (ISIS) has been decimated. [We would say obliterated– ed]
  • After a 2016 of just 1.9 percent GDP growth, we have now had two quarters in a row of growth over three percent; predictions for the final quarter of 2017 are as high as four percent.
  • [The appointment of] Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, who has already proven himself the perfect replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia.
  • The Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines are a go — which means tens of thousands of jobs.
  • A record number of judicial appointments on the appeals courts.
  • The end of the War on Coal.
  • A surge in coal mining after 2016’s decline.
  • The end of the federal government’s violating the religious conscience through indefensible Obamacare mandates involving birth control and abortion pills.
  • The civil rights movement for school choice is getting the green light throughout the country.
  • Illegal immigration is way down.
  • The stock market hit record highs 70 times in 2017, rising 5,000 points for the first time ever.
  • The long-overdue recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
  • We are free of the awful Paris climate treaty.
  • Regulatory reform that is just getting started, but it has already had a hugely positive effect on our economy.
  • Withdrawal from the Global Compact on Migration, which undercut American sovereignty.
  • Return of nearly two million acres to the state Utah that the federal government had stolen.
  • A $250 billion trade deal with China.
  • Many of our NATO allies are finally paying their dues.
  • Consumer confidence is the best we have seen in more than a decade.
  • Pulled us out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in favor of the American worker and sovereignty.
  • Trump has managed to get China to help rein in North Korea. [To some extent – ed]
  • Black unemployment is at a 17-year low.
  • Hispanic unemployment is at an all-time low.
  • Overall unemployment is at [four point] one percent.
  • Manufacturing jobs boom.
  • Standing up for persecuted Christian minorities in the Middle East. [More needs to be done, but it’s a start – ed]
  • Promoting Christmas.
  • Banning [immigration] or demanding stronger vetting [of immigrants] from [predominantly Muslim] countries most likely to [export] terrorists.
  • Housing sales are at an 11-year high.
  • Ban on transgender military recruits.

Now, you need to close your eyes and imagine what the list above would look like had #NeverTrump won the day and made Hillary Clinton president.

Now, try to imagine any one of the 16 Republicans who competed [with Trump] for the 2016 nomination accomplishing all of this, or even having the courage to stand up to a media onslaught to accomplish all of this, or even being, yes, conservative enough to do things like pull us out of the Paris climate agreement (something the Republican establishment’s failed 2012 nominee, Mitt Romney, opposes).

Trump’s conservatism, his competence, his willingness to stand up to gale force media hate to keep his promises, is unlike anything we have seen since 1981.

In the pursuit of only their own grift, personal fame, the gratification of bottomless egos, and a soft place to land among the Beautiful People, #NeverTrump lied to us, took our money, and fought tooth and nail to extend the disastrous Obama presidency into a third term.

And now, just one year into Trump’s presidency, #NeverTrump has once again been exposed for who they truly are — bitter, dishonest saboteurs more interested in their lofty place at the trough than the future of their own country.

All these bitter clingers have left now is to further degrade outlets such as the once-necessary National Review, a once-cherished laboratory of vibrant conservative ideas and thought, which is now a hangout for sore losers to keep rewriting the same column over and over and over again about how pure and virtuous they are, as they scold the rest of us for fighting for and sticking with a president who has delivered in ways they told us was not even within the realm of possibility.

So now the real conservatives can laugh – the longest string of triumphant hahahas they can manage while their breath lasts.

*

Later: WND provides an even longer list: 168 accomplishments.

The ruinous presidency of Barack Obama 4

… ends with a diabolical act of treachery.

Bret Stephens writes at the Wall Street Journal:

Barack Obama’s decision to abstain from, and therefore allow, last week’s vote to censure Israel at the U.N. Security Council is a fitting capstone for what’s left of his foreign policy. Strategic half-measures, underhanded tactics and moralizing gestures have been the president’s style from the beginning. Israelis aren’t the only people to feel betrayed by the results.

Also betrayed: Iranians, whose 2009 Green Revolution in heroic protest of a stolen election Mr. Obama conspicuously failed to endorse for fear of offending the ruling theocracy.

Iraqis, who were assured of a diplomatic surge to consolidate the gains of the military surge, but who ceased to be of any interest to Mr. Obama the moment U.S. troops were withdrawn, and only concerned him again when ISIS neared the gates of Baghdad.

Syrians, whose initially peaceful uprising against anti-American dictator Bashar Assad Mr. Obama refused to embrace, and whose initially moderate-led uprising Mr. Obama failed to support, and whose sarin- and chlorine-gassed children Mr. Obama refused to rescue, his own red lines notwithstanding.

Ukrainians, who gave up their nuclear weapons in 1994 with formal U.S. assurances that their “existing borders” would be guaranteed, only to see Mr. Obama refuse to supply them with defensive weapons when Vladimir Putin invaded their territory 20 years later.

Pro-American Arab leaders, who expected better than to be given ultimatums from Washington to step down, and who didn’t anticipate the administration’s tilt toward the Muslim Brotherhood as a legitimate political opposition, and toward Tehran as a responsible negotiating partner.

Most betrayed: Americans.

Mr. Obama promised a responsible end to the war in Iraq. We are again fighting in Iraq. He promised victory in Afghanistan. The Taliban are winning. He promised a reset with Russia. We are enemies again. He promised the containment of Iran. We are witnessing its ascendancy in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. He promised a world free of nuclear weapons. We are stumbling into another age of nuclear proliferation. He promised al Qaeda on a path to defeat. Jihad has never been so rampant and deadly.

These are the results. They would be easier to forgive if they hadn’t so often been reached by disingenuous and dishonorable means.

The administration was deceptive about the motives for the 2012 Benghazi attack. It was deceptive about Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s service record, and the considerations that led it to exchange five Taliban leaders for his freedom. It was deceptive about when it began nuclear negotiations with Iran. It was deceptive about the terms of the deal. It continues to be deceptive about the fundamental aim of the agreement, which has less to do with curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions than with aligning Washington’s interests with Tehran’s.

Now the administration is likely being deceptive about last week’s U.N. vote, claiming it did not promote, craft or orchestrate a resolution that treats the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City as a settlement in illegally occupied territory. Yet in November, John Kerry had a long talk on the subject with the foreign minister of New Zealand, one of the resolution’s sponsors.

“One of the closed-door discussions between United States Secretary of State John Kerry and the New Zealand government today was a potential resolution by the United Nations Security Council on a two-state solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict,” the New Zealand Herald reported last month. “‘It is a conversation we are engaged in deeply and we’ve spent some time talking to Secretary Kerry about where the U.S. might go on this,’” the paper added, quoting Foreign Minister Murray McCully.

The Israelis claim to have more evidence along these lines. If so, it means the administration no longer bothers to lie convincingly.

Even this might be excusable, if Mr. Obama at least had the courage of his mistaken convictions, or if his deception were in the service of a worthier end. Instead, we have the spectacle of the U.S. government hiding behind the skirts of the foreign minister of New Zealand — along with eminent co-sponsors, Venezuela, Malaysia and Senegal — in order to embarrass and endanger a democratic ally in a forum where that ally is already isolated and bullied. In the catalog of low points in American diplomacy, this one ranks high.

After the Carter administration pulled a similar stunt against Israel at the Security Council in December 1980, the Washington Post published an editorial that does the paper honor today.

“It cannot be denied,” the editors wrote, “that there is a pack and that it hounds Israel shamelessly and that this makes it very serious when the United States joins it.” The editorial was titled Joining the Jackals.

Unlike Mr. Carter, Mr. Obama hasn’t joined the jackals. He has merely opened the door wide to them, whether at the U.N. or in the skies over Syria or in the killing fields in Ukraine.

The United States abstains: What a fitting finish to this ruinous presidency.

Yes. For America, if not for himself, Obama’s presidency has been a colossal foreign policy failure.

If his domestic policy failures – a long list, headed by his failure to achieve even 3% GDP growth in any year of his two terms and his worsening of race relations  – are added to the record, he surpasses Jimmy Carter to win the title of America’s worst president.

The scoffers who must now eat crow 5

Trump supporters, enjoy!

Posted under Humor by Jillian Becker on Sunday, November 13, 2016

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An insoluble mystery – or an unutterable solution? 1

What can explain the zeal with which Obama has empowered Iran, against all reason, against all opposition and difficulty – including the truculent and obstreperous behavior of Iran itself?

Obama ardently wants Iran to be a power in the world. Why?

Bret Stephens’s report yesterday at the Wall Street Journal on the progress of Iran towards nuclear arms under Obama’s patronage only deepens the mystery of the motive.

What diplomats call the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—known to the rest of us as the Disastrous Iran Deal—was agreed in Vienna a year ago this week. Now comes a status update, courtesy of our friends at the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, or BfV.

In its fascinating 2015 annual report, published late last month … there’s this:

The illegal proliferation-sensitive procurement activities [by Iran] in Germany registered by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution persisted in 2015 at what is, even by international standards, a quantitatively high level. This holds true in particular with regard to items which can be used in the field of nuclear technology.

The report also notes …

a further increase in the already considerable procurement efforts in connection with Iran’s ambitious missile technology program which could among other things potentially serve to deliver nuclear weapons. Against this backdrop it is safe to expect that Iran will continue its intensive procurement activities in Germany using clandestine methods to achieve its objectives.

The BfV report arrived days before Germany arrested a Pakistani national, identified as Syed Mustufa H., accused of spying for Iran. It also corroborates another German intelligence report, this one from the intelligence service of North Rhine-Westphalia, that Iran’s nuclear procurement efforts have increased dramatically in recent years, from 48 known attempts in 2010 to 141 in 2015. Seven other German states have reported similar Iranian procurement efforts.

This violates Iran’s explicit commitment to go through an official “procurement channel” to purchase nuclear- and missile-related materials.

There is such a channel open to Iran?

All this was enough to prompt Angela Merkel to warn the Bundestag last week that Iran “continued to develop its rocket program in conflict with relevant provisions of the U.N. Security Council”. Don’t expect German sanctions, but at least the chancellor is living in the reality zone.

As for the Obama administration, not so much. For the past year it has developed a narrative — spoon-fed to the reporters and editorial writers Ben Rhodes publicly mocks as dopes and dupes — that Iran has met all its obligations under the deal, and now deserves extra cookies in the form of access to U.S. dollars, Boeing jets, U.S. purchases of Iranian heavy water (thereby subsidizing its nuclear program), and other concessions the administration last year promised Congress it would never grant.

“We still have sanctions on Iran for its violations of human rights, for its support for terrorism, and for its ballistic-missile program, and we will continue to enforce those sanctions vigorously,” Mr. Obama said in January. Whatever.

The administration is now weighing whether to support Iran’s membership in the World Trade Organization. That would neutralize a future president’s ability to impose sanctions on Iran, since WTO rules would allow Tehran to sue Washington for interfering with trade.

The administration has also pushed the Financial Action Task Force, an international body that enforces anti-money-laundering standards, to ease pressure on Iran, which FATF did last month by suspending some restrictions for the next year.

And then there’s the Boeing deal to sell $17.6 billion worth of jets to Iran, which congressional Republicans led by Illinois’s Pete Roskam are trying to stop. Iran uses its civilian fleet to ferry weapons and fighters to its terrorist clients in Syria and Lebanon.

“The administration is trying to lock in the Iran deal and prevent a future president from doing anything, including pushing back on Iran’s malign behavior,” says the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Mark Dubowitz, who knows more about Iran sanctions than anyone in Washington. “Instead of curbing Iran’s worst behavior, the administration effectively facilitates it.”

One last detail: In June, the Journal’s Jay Solomon reported that the International Atomic Energy Agency had discovered “traces of man-made uranium” at Iran’s military facility at Parchin. The agency reported this finding in a footnote to a report in December, but the administration made no comment then and now dismisses it as old news. The IAEA is no longer allowed to inspect Parchin, or any other military installation, under the deal.

So let’s recap. Mr. Obama says Iran is honoring the nuclear deal, but German intelligence tells us Tehran is violating it more aggressively than ever. He promised “snapback” sanctions in the event of such violations, but the U.S. is operating as Iran’s trade-promotion agent. He promised “unprecedented” inspections, but we’re not permitted to inspect sites where uranium was found. He promised an eight-year ban on Iran’s testing of ballistic missiles, but Tehran violated that ban immediately and repeatedly with only mild pushback from the West. He promised that the nuclear deal was not about “normalizing” relations with a rogue regime. But he wants it in the WTO.

Is Mr. Obama rationalizing a failed agreement or did he mean to mislead the American public? Either way, truth is catching up with the Iran deal.

Plainly Obama has misled the American public. What is the truth?

Iran has declared that it desires the annihilation of Israel. It has inscribed that aim on its missiles.

Is it illogical, or too far-fetched, to ascribe the same desire to the American commander-in-chief who is helping Iran become powerful enough to achieve its aim?

Posted under Commentary, Germany, Iran, Israel, United States, War by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, July 12, 2016

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One of the gang 1

Why did anyone expect James Comey to recommend the prosecution of Hillary Clinton for grave crimes that he himself enumerated?

Because “anyone” did not know or had forgotten that Comey is a member of Obama’s gang.

James Comey would not have been appointed head of the FBI had President Obama sensed the least trace in the man of that right-wing weakness called “objective judgment”.  

On June 13, 2013, when James Comey was nominated by President Obama to head the FBI, Bret Stephens wrote at the Wall Street Journal:

President Obama on Friday nominated James Comey to run the FBI, and the former prosecutor and deputy attorney general is already garnering media effusions reserved for any Republican who fell out publicly with the Bush Administration. Forgive us if we don’t join this Beltway beatification.

Any potential FBI director deserves scrutiny, since the position has so much power and is susceptible to ruinous misjudgments and abuse. That goes double with Mr. Comey, a nominee who seems to think the job of the federal bureaucracy is to oversee elected officials, not the other way around, and who had his own hand in some of the worst prosecutorial excesses of the last decade.

The list includes his overzealous pursuit, as U.S. Attorney for New York’s Southern District, of banker Frank Quattrone amid the post-Enron political frenzy of 2003. Mr. Comey never did indict Mr. Quattrone on banking-related charges, but charged him instead with obstruction of justice and witness tampering based essentially on a single ambiguous email.

Mr. Comey’s first trial against Mr. Quattrone ended in a hung jury; he won a conviction on a retrial but that conviction was overturned on appeal in 2006. …

There is also Mr. Comey’s 2004 role as deputy attorney general in the Aipac case, in which the FBI sought to use bogus “secret” information to entrap two lobbyists for the pro-Israel group and then prosecuted them under the 1917 Espionage Act. The Justice Department dropped that case in 2009 after it fell apart in court — but not before wrecking the lives of the two lobbyists, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman.

Or the atrocious FBI investigation, harassment and trial-by-media of virologist Steven Jay Hatfill, falsely suspected of being behind the 2001 anthrax mail attacks. Mr. Comey continued to vouchsafe the strength of the case against Dr. Hatfill in internal Administration deliberations long after it had become clear that the FBI had fingered the wrong man. …

Yet the biggest of Mr. Comey’s misjudgments are the ones for which he gets the highest accolades from his media admirers. In March 2004 Mr. Comey raced to the hospital bedside of then-Attorney General John Ashcroft to stop his boss from signing off on a periodic reauthorization of the “warrantless wiretap” surveillance program authorized by President Bush shortly after 9/11. Mr. Comey’s hospital theatrics have since been spun — above all by Mr. Comey — as a case of a brave and honest civil servant standing up to an out-of-control White House seeking to take advantage of a sick man for morally dubious and even criminal ends.

Yet the reason the White House needed Mr. Ashcroft’s signature in the first place was that President Bush had subjected the surveillance program to a stringent 45-day reauthorization schedule (with the knowledge and approval of senior members of Congress), and Mr. Ashcroft had signed off on the same program multiple times before having an apparent change of heart shortly before the March incident.

None of this kept Mr. Comey from abusing his role as Acting AG implicitly to threaten the White House with the likely exposure of the classified program — all because his interpretation of the law differed from that of Mr. Gonzales and other government lawyers. …

Then there’s Mr. Comey’s role in the investigation of the leak of Valerie Plame’s identity as a CIA employee. Mr. Comey first encouraged Mr. Ashcroft to recuse himself in naming a special counsel on grounds that the AG could run into a conflict of interest if the investigation implicated Karl Rove.

Whereupon Mr. Comey gave the job to Patrick Fitzgerald, a close personal friend. Unlike independent counsels under the now defunct statute, a special counsel is supposed to be under the Justice Department’s supervision, and it would be interesting to hear Mr. Comey explain how appointing the godfather of one of his children to a high-profile job under his direction did not entail a conflict of interest.

Mr. Fitzgerald quickly found out that the leaker of Ms. Plame’s identity was Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, a fact Mr. Fitzgerald kept secret for years. Yet instead of closing the case down, Mr. Comey signed off within weeks on an expansion of Mr. Fitzgerald’s mandate. After a three-year investigation that turned up almost nothing new, the prosecutor tried to salvage his tenure with a dubious indictment of Scooter Libby for perjury.

Mr. Fitzgerald … supported by his superior Mr. Comey, also managed to land New York Times reporter Judith Miller in jail for 85 days for refusing to reveal her sources, and nearly did the same for Time magazine’s Matthew Cooper. With another FBI violation of internal Justice guidelines regarding media freedoms in the news, someone might ask Mr. Comey why he was prepared to resign on principle over surveilling terrorists, while doing nothing to stop Mr. Fitzgerald’s efforts to criminalize journalism?

None of this may stand in the way of Mr. Comey’s confirmation in a Democratic Senate. But before Senators yawn their way to rubber-stamping President Obama’s “bipartisan” pick, they should ask Mr. Comey some harder questions than the ones to which his media fan base have accustomed him.

No hard questions were asked. James Comey was appointed head of the FBI.

For about a year his investigators have been looking into whether Hillary Clinton had broken laws governing her communications as secretary of state, and they find that she had. Her aides were questioned, and it’s been found that they helped her break the laws. Finally, Comey had some of his investigators ask Hillary Clinton herself, in person, face to face, if she had intended to break the law. No, she said, she had not. (She was not under oath, so there was no risk that she might be accused of perjury. And no one will ever know what was said on either side because no record of the exchange was made.) Her denial of intent was all Comey needed. Although he is absolutely sure that she has indeed broken many laws, he has announced that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring any charges against her.      

In an article also at the Wall Street Journal, published yesterday (July 7, 2016), Kimberley Strassel recollects the instances Bret Stephens listed at the time of Comey’s appointment, and comments:

It was no surprise that Mr. Comey this week let Mrs. Clinton off, despite the damning evidence amassed by the FBI of gross negligence in her handling of classified material. A prosecutor — for this was the position Mr. Comey essentially assumed on Tuesday — who put the law above all else would have brought charges, holding Mrs. Clinton to the same standard as other officials convicted of similarly “extremely careless” handling of classified material. 

A prosecutor who had spent a lifetime with one eye on politics and one eye on his résumé would have behaved exactly as Mr. Comey did. He must have noticed that Mrs. Clinton, leading in the polls, had recently dangled a job offer in front of his boss, Attorney General Loretta Lynch. He saw President Obama pressing not just his thumb, but his whole body, on the scales of justice. Reporters were on Mrs. Clinton’s side. Democrats were ready to be furious if he decided the wrong way.

We were among the ones who had, in foolish ignorance, supposed James Comey to be a man of integrity. As a result we were disappointed and angry at the miscarriage of justice.

Now that we know more about Mr. Comey … we are no less disappointed, and even more angry.

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A political revolution 7

Former Governor Mike Huckabee told Fox News that Donald Trump’s success represents a peaceful “overthrow of the government” and that the Republican establishment should be glad it’s being achieved with “ballots, not bullets”. He added that the Trump phenomenon was a “political revolution in the Republican Party and in the country”. 

THAT IS THE POINT

After Obama, and the utter failure of a Republican-majority Congress to oppose the evil that he has done, a political revolution is necessary, and Donald Trump – with all his faults that two of our readers insist on pointing out to us over and over again – has emerged as the leader of it.  

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Joan Swirsky writes at Canada Free Press:

Sure enough, presidential candidate Donald J. Trump racked up impressive statistics in his Fox News debate tonight, effectively trouncing the competition that included Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Once again, however, Fox’s Megyn “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” Kelly ambushed Mr. Trump by falsely stating that the Better Business Bureau had given Trump University a D-minus rating, when in fact it’s rating is, as Trump asserted, an A! …

(Sorry about the small print. Efforts to make it bigger have failed.)

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The same trouncing happened last week when Trump’s victories in the primaries garnered him the lion’s share of electoral votes by winning Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, and Virginia, which, according to Philip Bump of The Washington Post, “no Republican has ever won going back to 1960”.

Both pundits and pollsters attributed the massive turn-outs to Mr. Trump’s having excited, inspired and therefore mobilized the electorate — in some cases well over 100% increase above the 2012 midterms. In one instance, Mr. Trump beat Sen. Cruz by 450,000 votes; in another he beat Sen. Rubio by over a million votes! …  Trump had “significant support across educational, ideological, age and income classifications”.

In his victory speech last week, looking and sounding presidential, Mr. Trump accurately proclaimed: “We have expanded the Republican Party.”

This ought to have been music to the ears of Republicans everywhere, especially “establishment” types who constantly seek to attract influential voting blocs comprised of African-Americans, Hispanics, and young people, all of whom — mysteriously, incomprehensibly, self-destructively — have huddled under the Democrat tent for decades, gaining not a micrometer of progress in their personal lives, wages, schools, crime rates, the pathetic list is endless. Trump, only nine months into being a politician, has accomplished this incredible feat. But the more he succeeds, the more the Grand Poobahs of the Grand Old Party, as well as the media (both right and left), have devolved into what appears to be a clinical state of hysteria.

Think about this. Barack Obama’s record violates every principle and value that Republicans and Conservatives claim they stand for … and yet those same Republicans and Conservatives — in full control of the Senate and House — have been notably absent in mustering up anything more than mild rebuke to counter Mr. Obama’s assaults on our country. But to them, Trump is the real threat!

That’s what the frenzied GOP, media, and also-rans are trying to do, figuratively closing any openings in what they believe is their own personal Ship of State now that the threatening weather called Donald Trump is upon them. …

Ironic, isn’t it. If any entity deserves a comeuppance, it is the very arrogant, go-along-to-get-along, ineffectual, leftist-whipped, emasculated, cave-to-Obama, bow-to-the-lobbyists, accommodate-the-Arab-lobby establishment! Impotent? Emasculated? Yes, money and power are mighty motivators, but it is a tacit acknowledgment of their own sissified selves that is now spurring Trump’s critics into action.

And they’re trying their damnedest! On March 2, a gaggle of Republican national security leaders — no doubt many of them members of the globalist Council on Foreign Relations whose animating raison d’être would be threatened by a Trump presidency — wrote an open letter to Trump expressing their “united opposition” to his candidacy. They don’t like his “vision of American influence and power in the world … advocacy for aggressively waging trade wars … rhetoric that undercuts the seriousness of combating Islamic radicalism … insistence that Mexico will fund a wall on the southern border…,” on and on. Comical, isn’t it, that everything they’ve failed to address with any seriousness or success compels them to slam the guy who promises to address those issues and succeed.

On March 3, 22 Republicans declared that they would not vote for Trump.

August writers like the Wall St. Journal’s Bret Stephens have been apoplectic about Trump for months,sparing no slur or invective. Author and military historian Max Boot has dug deep into his assault repertoire to make sure no insult has gone unhurled. And the usually dazzling Andrew C. McCarthy at National Review Online is simply unable to contain his hostility to Trump’s candidacy, just as most of the other writers at NRO have jumped on the anti-Trump bandwagon. And that’s not to omit the florid hysteria emanating from com.

We have often quoted Bret Stephens and Andrew C. McCarthy with admiration and respect – and will again – but they fail to understand what is happening in the country.

On March 4, desperate anti-Trump operatives pimped out good ole patsy Mitt Romney to go before a teleprompter and read the words written for him by an anti-Trump operative. …

But no one forgot that Romney, a lifelong liberal, lost both senatorial and presidential elections and that the last image of him — etched indelibly in the American public’s consciousness — was of him debating his rival for the presidency, Barack Obama, and simply folding like a cheap suit!

Romney — who The Wall St. Journal called “a flawed messenger” — didn’t look or sound like he had dementia, so it’s strange indeed that he barely mentioned the endorsement Trump gave him for his campaign for president, and the lavish praise he heaped upon Trump.

Romney’s hit job evoked the following 22-word, devastating and well-deserved tweet from Trump: “Looks like two-time failed candidate Mitt Romney is going to be telling Republicans how to get elected. Not a good messenger!”

All of the abovementioned people — and dozens I haven’t named — are growing frustrated that their old tricks of marginalizing and finally destroying the target in question haven’t worked. They long to emulate the JournOlist of 2007, when over 400 members of the leftist media colluded to quash any and every criticism or fact-based doubt about Mr. Obama’s Constitutional eligibility to hold office, to intimidate any critic into silence.

To this day, has anyone seen even one of Barack Obama’s college transcripts, his marriage license, a doctor’s evaluation? Now it’s the Republicans — actually those cocktail-swigging “conservatives” who routinely cozy up to the lobbyists they’re beholden to — who have gotten together to defeat Trump. These feckless so-called leaders decided that their target, a self-funded former liberal, was worth more of their negative, insult-laden literary output and passionate commentary than the Marxist-driven, jihadist-defending, anti-Constitutional, anti-American regime in power.

If you ever wonder how this could happen, why Republicans and self-described Conservatives could rebel so ferociously against a candidate who promises to strengthen our military, bring jobs and industry back to America, seal our borders against the onslaught of illegal aliens, and make America great again, wonder no more.

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Doesn’t it always come down to money? Money leads to power and influence and control, all of which politicians — that too-often pliable and buyable species — lust for. It’s not only the ephemeral day-to-day power they fear losing, it’s the entire network they’re enmeshed in, which involves all the treaties and deals and “arrangements” they’ve signed onto and the pelf it promises to keep on yielding. (For Exhibit No. 1, see The Clinton Foundation and the mountain of cash it reaps.)

Imagine their fear of a president who actually cuts the pork, actually strikes deals that don’t line his own pockets, actually exposes the bad deals that have been made by the bad players in Washington, D.C. Imagine what Trump will learn about the massive under-the-table, self-serving deals that were made in the Iran deal and others.

The same lust for power applies to media moguls whose wealth is not limited to TV stations and newspapers but to the very deals made by government and on Wall St. No one knows this better than Mr. Trump, the author of the mega-bestseller, The Art of the Deal. That’s why his critics are so terrified. They pretend to be offended by the kind of comment or gesture that they themselves express routinely. But they’re really afraid of being in the presence of someone who is utterly immune to either their blandishments or strong-arm tactics.

As Mark Cunningham wrote in theNew York Post: “All the noise about Donald Trump’s ‘hostile takeover’ of the Republican Party misses a key point: Such takeovers only succeed when existing management has failed massively. And that’s true of both the GOP and the conservative movement. Trump’s a disrupter but most of the fire aimed his way is just shooting the messenger.”

Monica Crowley, editor of online opinion at The Washington Times, explains that the “emotionally fragile Republican ruling class” deluded themselves into thinking that Mr. Trump couldn’t possibly win. “Then actual voting began. And the first-timer, the brash anti-politician, began racking up resounding victories …”

In addition, Crowley writes: “Like his style or not, Trump is an in-your-face guy. Voters want that kind of guy taking it to President Obama’s record, to Hillary Clinton … and to the unbridled, destructive leftism that has rendered America virtually unrecognizable.”

And, I might add, taking it to the wimps in the GOP!

The taking down of America 18

President Obama believes that America is arrogant.* If his foreign policy can be explained by anything, it would be his intention to bring America down a peg or ten. Looked at like that, the disasters we see happening in many parts of the world are testimony not to  Obama’s failure, but to his success.

Not that President Obama can have any objection to arrogance as such. He is an arrogant man. He just doesn’t want America to be proud of its superiority. He hates the very idea that it is superior. But while he would not even acknowledge its political-moral superiority as a republic constituted for liberty, he cannot deny that it is economically and militarily stronger than any other country. So he’s been working to change that for the last six years.

The whole world is the worse for his efforts.

This is from Front Page, by Bruce Thornton:

The 6 years of Barack Obama’s foreign policy have seen American influence and power decline across the globe. Traditional rivals like China and Russia are emboldened and on the march in the South China Sea and Ukraine. Iran, branded as the world’s deadliest state sponsor of terrorism, is arrogantly negotiating its way to a nuclear bomb. Bloody autocrats and jihadist gangs in the Middle East scorn our president’s threats and behead our citizens. Countries in which Americans have shed their blood in service to our interests and ideals are in the process of being abandoned to our enemies. And allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia are bullied or ignored. All over the world, a vacuum of power has been created by a foreign policy sacrificed to domestic partisan advantage, and characterized by criminal incompetence.

Incompetence is what it looks like. But if failure is the aim, then either the incompetence is only an appearance, or it is a means to the end.

How we have arrived at this point, the dangers to our security and interests if we don’t change course, and what must be done to recover our international prestige and effectiveness are the themes of Bret Stephens’ America in Retreat. The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder. …

A clear sign of American retreat is the precipitous decline in military spending. “In the name of budgetary savings,” Stephens writes, “the Army is returning to its June 1940 size,” and “the Navy put fewer ships at sea at any time since 1916.” The Air Force is scheduled to retire 25,000 airmen and mothball 550 planes. Our nuclear forces are being cut to meet the terms of the 2010 New Start Treaty with Russia, even as its nuclear arsenal has been increasing. Meanwhile Obama … issues empty threats, blustering diktats, and sheer lies that convince world leaders he is a “self-infatuated weakling”.

Unfortunately, 52% of the American people agree that the U.S. “should mind its own business internationally”,  and 65% want to “reduce overseas military commitments”, including a majority of Republicans. This broad consensus that America should retreat from global affairs reflects our age’s bipartisan isolationism, the centerpiece of Stephens’ analysis. This national mood is not a sign of decline, according to Stephens, who documents the enormous advantages America still enjoys globally, from its superiority in research and entrepreneurial vigor, to its healthy demographics and spirit of innovation. But it does bespeak a dangerous withdrawal from the policies that created the postwar Pax Americana – even though this global order policed by the U.S. defeated the murderous, nuclear-armed ideology of Soviet communism, and made possible the astonishing economic expansion that has lifted millions from poverty all over the world. …

For Stephens, isolationism has not been the only danger to American foreign policy success. What he calls “the overdose of ideals”, specifically the “freedom agenda” of the sort George W. Bush tried in Iraq and Afghanistan, has misdirected our efforts and squandered our resources in the pursuit of impossible goals. The success of the Cold War and the subsequent spread of democracy and free-market economies suggested that the world could be not just protected from an evil ideology, but “redeemed” by actively fostering liberal democracy even in countries and regions lacking the necessary network of social mores and political virtues upon which genuine liberal democracy rests. But in attempting to redeem the world, Stephens notes, policy makers “neglected a more prosaic responsibility: to police it”.

The failures to create stability, let alone true democracy, in Iraq and Afghanistan have enabled what Stephens calls the “retreat doctrine”, one to be found in both political parties. Barack Obama is the master of this species of foreign policy, incoherently combining idealistic democracy-promoting rhetoric with actions that further withdraw the U.S. from its responsibility to ensure global order. Under the guise of “nation-building at home,” and in service to traditional leftist doubt about America’s goodness, Obama has retreated in the face of aggression, and encouraged cuts in military spending in order to fund an ever-expanding entitlement state.

But also, equally, in order to make America weaker.

Meanwhile, “Republicans are busy writing their own retreat doctrine in the name of small government, civil liberties, fiscal restraint, ‘realism’,  a creeping sense of Obama-induced national decline, and a deep pessimism about America’s ability to make itself, much less the rest of the world, better.”

The “retreat doctrine” is dangerous because global disorder is a constant contingency. The remainder of Stephens’ book approaches this topic first from the perspective of theory and history, and then from today’s practice. History teaches us that all the substitutes for a liberal dominant global power have failed to prevent the descent into conflict and mass violence. The ideas of a balance of power, collective security, or the presumed peaceful dividend and “harmony of interests” created by global trade did not prevent World War I or its even more devastating sequel. Nor are they any more useful in our own times.

As for today, Stephens identifies several challenges to a global order fragilely held together by the commitment to liberal democracy, open economies, and the free circulation of ideas and trade. The “revisionists” attack this model from various perspectives. Iran sees it as a fomenter of godlessness and hedonism, Russia is moved to oppose it by “revanchism and resentment”,  and China believes that it “is a recipe for bankruptcy and laziness”,  lacking a “sense of purpose, organization, and direction”.  All three see evidence for their various critiques in the failure of the U.S. to exercise its massive power in the face of challenges, and in the willingness of American elites to revel in guilt and self-doubt. These perceptions of national decline invite rivals and enemies to behave as if the U.S. is in fact declining.

The other international players that could worsen disorder are “freelancers” and “free radicals”.  The former include those countries like Israel or Japan who, convinced that America will not act in its own or its allies’ interests, will understandably take action that necessarily entails unforeseen disastrous consequences. Much more dangerous are the “free radicals”, the jihadist gangs rampaging across 3 continents, and the nuclear proliferators like Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan, whose collaboration with each other and rogue regimes like Venezuela endangers the world through provoking even further proliferation on the part of rivals, or by handing off nuclear weapons to terrorist organizations. And then there are “free radicals” like Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, who have undermined global order by publicizing the necessarily covert tools, practices, and institutions that undergird and protect it.

Finally, there are the structural weaknesses of the globalized economy and its continuing decline in growth, which may create “breaks” in national economic systems that “will be profoundly disruptive, potentially violent, and inherently unpredictable”. Add America’s retreat from world affairs and reductions in military spending, and in the “nearer term”, Stephens warns, “terrorists, insurgents, pirates, hackers, ‘whistleblowers’,  arms smugglers, and second-rate powers armed with weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles will be able to hold the United States inexpensively at risk”,  provoking further American retreat from world affairs and the inevitable increased aggression by our enemies and rivals.

 So what can be done? In his conclusion Stephens applies to foreign affairs the “broken windows” tactics of urban policing that caused rates of violent crimes to plummet over the last few decades. Thus “the immediate goal of U.S. foreign policy should be to arrest the continued slide into a broken-windows world of international disorder”.

This foreign policy would require increasing U.S. military spending to 5% of GDP, with a focus on increasing numbers of troops, planes, and ships rather than on overly sophisticated and expensive new weapons. It would mean stationing U.S. forces near global hotspots to serve as a deterrent and rapid-reaction force to snuff out incipient crises. It would require reciprocity from allies in military spending, who for too long have taken for granted the American defense umbrella. It would focus attention on regions and threats that really matter, particularly the borderlands of free states, in order to protect global good citizens from predators. It means acting quickly and decisively when conflict does arise, rather than wasting time in useless debates and diplomatic gabfests. Finally, it would require that Americans accept that their unprecedented global economic, cultural, and military power confers on us both vulnerability to those who envy and hate us, and responsibility for the global order on which our own security and interests depend.

No matter how understandable our traditional aversion to military and political entanglements abroad, history has made us the global policeman, one committed to human rights, accountability, and political freedom. If we abdicate that position, there is no country powerful, or worthy enough, to take our place.

We agree with that.

And Thornton tantalizes us with this:

Stephens ends with an imagined “scenario” of how a serious global disruption could occur, one grounded in current trends and thus frighteningly believable.

When we’ve found out what that scenario is, which is to say when we’ve read the book, we’ll return to this important subject.

 

*  “In his first nine months in office, President Obama has issued apologies and criticisms of America in speeches in France, England, Turkey, and Cairo; at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and the United Nations in New York City. He has apologized for what he deems to be American arrogance, dismissiveness, and derision; for dictating solutions, for acting unilaterally, and for acting without regard for others; for treating other countries as mere proxies, for unjustly interfering in the internal affairs of other nations, and for feeding anti-Muslim sentiments; for committing torture, for dragging our feet on global warming and for selectively promoting democracy.” – Mitt Romney, quoted by PolitiFact.com

Ignominy without umbrellas 5

Two admirable journalists write about the agreement reached last Saturday by the Great Powers (“P5+1”) with the evil Iranian regime, both comparing it to the agreement Neville Chamberlain thought he had secured with Adolf Hitler in 1938.

Bret Stephens writes at the Wall Street Journal:

To adapt Churchill : Never in the field of global diplomacy has so much been given away by so many for so little.

Britain and France’s capitulation to Nazi Germany at Munich has long been a byword for ignominy, moral and diplomatic. Yet neither Neville Chamberlain nor Édouard Daladier had the public support or military wherewithal to stand up to Hitler in September 1938. Britain had just 384,000 men in its regular army; the first Spitfire aircraft only entered RAF service that summer. “Peace for our time” it was not, but at least appeasement bought the West a year to rearm.

The signing of the Paris Peace Accords in January 1973 was a betrayal of an embattled U.S. ally and the abandonment of an effort for which 58,000 American troops gave their lives. Yet it did end America’s participation in a peripheral war, which neither Congress nor the public could indefinitely support. “Peace with honor” it was not, as the victims of Cambodia’s Killing Fields or Vietnam’s re-education camps can attest. But, for American purposes at least, it was peace.

By contrast, the interim nuclear agreement signed in Geneva on Sunday by Iran and the six big powers has many of the flaws of Munich and Paris. But it has none of their redeeming or exculpating aspects.

Consider: Britain and France came to Munich as military weaklings. The U.S. and its allies face Iran from a position of overwhelming strength. Britain and France won time to rearm. The U.S. and its allies have given Iran more time to stockpile uranium and develop its nuclear infrastructure. Britain and France had overwhelming domestic constituencies in favor of any deal that would avoid war. The Obama administration is defying broad bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress for the sake of a deal.

As for the Vietnam parallels, the U.S. showed military resolve in the run-up to the Paris Accords with a massive bombing and mining campaign of the North that demonstrated presidential resolve and forced Hanoi to sign the deal. The administration comes to Geneva fresh from worming its way out of its own threat to use force to punish Syria’s Bashar Assad for his use of chemical weapons against his own people.

The Nixon administration also exited Vietnam in the context of a durable opening to Beijing that helped tilt the global balance of power against Moscow. Now the U.S. is attempting a fleeting opening with Tehran at the expense of a durable alliance of values with Israel and interests with Saudi Arabia. …

That’s where the differences end between Geneva and the previous accords. What they have in common is that each deal was a betrayal of small countries — Czechoslovakia, South Vietnam, Israel — that had relied on Western security guarantees. Each was a victory for the dictatorships: “No matter the world wants it or not,” Iranian President Hasan Rouhani said Sunday, “this path will, God willing, continue to the peak that has been considered by the martyred nuclear scientists.” Each deal increased the contempt of the dictatorships for the democracies: “If ever that silly old man comes interfering here again with his umbrella,” Hitler is reported to have said of Chamberlain after Munich, “I’ll kick him downstairs and jump on his stomach.”

And each deal was a prelude to worse. After Munich came the conquest of Czechoslovakia, the Nazi-Soviet pact and World War II. After Paris came the fall of Saigon and Phnom Penh and the humiliating exit from the embassy rooftop. After Geneva there will come a new, chaotic Mideast reality in which the United States will lose leverage over enemies and friends alike.

What will that look like? Iran will gradually shake free of sanctions and glide into a zone of nuclear ambiguity that will keep its adversaries guessing until it opts to make its capabilities known. Saudi Arabia will move swiftly to acquire a nuclear deterrent from its clients in Islamabad; Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal made that clear to the Journal last week when he indiscreetly discussed “the arrangement with Pakistan.” Egypt is beginning to ponder a nuclear option of its own while drawing closer to a security alliance with Russia.

As for Israel, it cannot afford to live in a neighborhood where Iran becomes nuclear, Assad remains in power, and Hezbollah — Israel’s most immediate military threat — gains strength, clout and battlefield experience. The chances that Israel will hazard a strike on Iran’s nuclear sites greatly increased since Geneva. More so the chances of another war with Hezbollah.

After World War II the U.S. created a global system of security alliances to prevent the kind of foreign policy freelancing that is again becoming rampant in the Middle East. It worked until President Obama decided in his wisdom to throw it away. If you hear echoes of the 1930s in the capitulation at Geneva, it’s because the West is being led by the same sort of men, minus the umbrellas.

The article is valuable as an erudite and accurate assessment of the Geneva sell-out. But Stephens’s visualization of what the “after Geneva” Middle East will look like, bad though it is, is too mild. We predict that Iran will become armed with nuclear weapons and will use them.

Douglas Murray writes at the Spectator (UK):

America and Europe’s overwhelming desire to declare a deal meant that there had to be a deal to declare. The P5+1 countries, with the ludicrous Catherine Ashton speaking for Europe, have indeed made a historic and terrible mistake.

The mullahs did not come to Geneva because they wished to give up their capability. And they did not come to the table because after 34 years of revolutionary Islamic governance they have seen the error of their ways. They came because international sanctions were beginning to hurt. Those sanctions – which took years to put in place – have now fallen apart thanks to a few days of incompetent negotiating on the part of the P5+1 plus some simple common sense from Tehran. People tend to say at this stage that the Iranians are ‘master negotiators’. They aren’t especially. They are simply fortunate to be playing against Catherine Ashton and a generation of other weak and short-sighted American and British politicians.

The result is that the Iranian regime has managed to walk away with a deal to relieve the pressure of sanctions at the very moment that the pressure was working and the very moment that it should have been kept up and ultimately used to break them. They now have the breathing hole they need to reinforce their power at home and continue their search for nuclear weaponry.

At the root of this debacle is the fact that the Iranians went into the sanctions knowing exactly what they wanted: time and the bomb. The P5+1 countries, by contrast, were riddled by doubt and muddled thinking.

There should only ever have been two aims with regard to the Iranian regime.

The first is to ensure that it never ever gains the capability to develop nuclear weapons: not only to ensure that the world’s most destabilising regime never possesses the world’s most dangerous weaponry, but to ensure that it cannot precipitate a nuclear arms race across the Middle East.

The second aim, and one which appears to have slipped even further down any international agenda, is to see the end of the brutal rule of the mullahs. Sadly this does not even appear to be on the table any more. Ever since President Obama failed to come out in support of the brave Iranian protestors who rose up in 2009, the basic human rights of the Iranian people have been ignored utterly. So what that the regime promotes terror around the world? So what that it oppresses, rapes, tortures and executes its opponents at home? By negotiating with this regime and allowing it off the hook at this moment America, Britain and our allies have not only given a stay of execution to the mullahs, we have further undermined the hopes of any opponents of the regime inside Iran.

I was watching and listening to [British foreign secretary] William Hague earlier today and I must say that it was a pathetic experience: a diminished figure trying to persuade a sceptical nation to support a demeaning deal. All he lacked was a winged collar, a piece of paper and the slogan: ‘nuclear peace in our time.’

And the umbrella.

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