If the purpose of terrorism is to terrify, the Islamic State had an extraordinary week. Brussels, capital of the EU and command post of mighty NATO, is still in panic and lockdown.
“In Brussels, fear of attack lingers” was Monday’s headline over the Washington Post‘s top story, which read: “Not since Boston came to a near-standstill after the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 has the life of a major Western city been brought to a halt this way by the fear of terrorism.”
Below that is this headline: “After Paris, a campaign changed by fear.” That story is about what’s happened in our presidential race: “Across the country … have come pronouncements of anger and fear not seen after the terrorist attacks in London and Madrid — or even in some ways after Sept. 11 2001.” Voters speak of “feeling more afraid of the Islamic State, more horrified by the imagery of the beheadings and other atrocities.”
The New York Times‘ Roger Cohen describes the Paris he loves.
[T]hey are shaken. There is a void in the streets too empty, a new suspicion in appraising glances, a wary numbness. Paris is afflicted with absences — the dead, of course; visitors frightened away; minds frozen by fear; and tranquility lost. The city feels vulnerable.
“I think France is attacked above all for what it is,” writes Cohen, “That in turn is terrifying. … I don’t think Paris has ever felt so precious or precarious to me as it did over the past week.”
Terrible as the massacres were, some perspective is in order. What happened on Friday the 13th is that nine fanatics of the Islamic State, using suicide vests and AK-47s, slaughtered people at restaurants, a soccer stadium and in a concert hall. The death toll of 130 is being called the “worst attack on French soil since World War II.”
Yet, from August 1914 to November of 1918, World War I, 850 French died every day for 51 months, a total of 1.3 million in four years in a country not nearly so populous as France is today. On Aug. 22, 1914, some 27,000 French soldiers died resisting the German invasion. Yet France survived to dictate terms to Berlin.
But that France was another country than today’s. In our own Civil War, in a country one-tenth as populous as today, 400 Americans, North and South, died every day for four years.
The point of this recital is not to minimize the horror in Paris. But it is to suggest that when Jeb Bush calls the attack on Paris “an organized effort to destroy western civilization,” he is ascribing to our enemies in ISIS powers they do not remotely possess.
Indeed, the terror, fear, panic, and paralysis exhibited today is in ways more alarming than the massacre itself. Russia lost twice as many people on that airliner blown up over Sinai as died in France. But Russia and Vladimir Putin do not appear to be terrorized. Every week in Iraq, terrorists claim as many lives as were lost in France. In Syria’s civil war, 250,000 have died. This translates into more dead every day for four years than died in Paris on Nov. 13.
What has happened to a West that once ruled the world? By any measure—military, economic, scientific—the Islamic State, compared to the West, is a joke.
What the Islamists do have, however, is this: If they can reach the West and are willing to give up their lives, and can learn how to fire an AK-47 or construct a suicide vest, they can terrify the peoples of the West by slaughtering dozens or scores of them.
For 10 days, ISIS killers have dominated world news, television, print, and social media. So doing, they have engendered a real fear in the heart of Western man. The strength of ISIS, of the Islamist militants, of those willing to die driving the “Crusaders” out of their lands, beheading infidels, imposing sharia, attacking the West, lies in an emptiness in the soul of Western Man.
Many Europeans are the “hollow men” of T.S. Eliot’s depiction.
They have repudiated their cradle faith Christianity, apologized for the sins of their fathers and sought to make reparations, embraced La Dolce Vita, materialism and hedonism, freeloaded off U.S. defense for 70 years, ceased to have children, thrown open their borders to former colonial peoples to come and repopulate the continent, and turned their back on patriotism to celebrate diversity and globalism.
They invited the world in. And the world is coming to enjoy the lavish fruits of their welfare states and, one day, will be using the West’s concept of one-man, one-vote to rule the countries that ruled their ancestors. The colonized are slowly becoming the conquerors.
The challenge of ISIS is not entirely unhealthy. It will tell us whether Europe has the will to survive. As for Paris, time to move on. For, given the triumph this has been for ISIS, more such massacres are inevitable.
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority. Copyright 2015 Creators.com.
In denouncing Republicans as “scared of widows and orphans,” and castigating those who prefer Christian refugees to Muslims coming to America, Barack Obama has come off as petulant and unpresidential. Clearly, he is upset. And with good reason.
He grossly, transparently underestimated the ability of ISIS, the “JV” team, to strike outside the caliphate into the heart of the West, and has egg all over his face. More critically, the liberal world order he has been preaching and predicting is receding before our eyes. Suddenly, his rhetoric is discordantly out of touch with reality. And, for his time on the global stage, the phrase “failed president” comes to mind.
What happened in Paris, said President Obama, “was an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share.” And just what might those “universal values” be?
At a soccer game between Turkey and Greece in Istanbul, Turks booed during the moment of silence for the Paris dead and chanted “Allahu Akbar.” Among 1.6 billion Muslims, hundreds of millions do not share our values regarding women’s rights, abortion, homosexuality, free speech, or the equality of all religious faiths.
Set aside the fanatics of ISIS. Does Saudi Arabia share Obama’s views and values regarding sexual freedom and the equality of Christianity, Judaism and Islam? Is anything like the First Amendment operative across the Sunni or Shiite world, or in China?
In their belief in the innate superiority of their Islamic faith and the culture and civilization it created, Muslims have more in common with our confident Christian ancestors who conquered them than with gauzy global egalitarians like Barack Obama.
“Liberte, egalite, fraternite” the values of secular France, are no more shared by the Islamic world than is France’s affection for Charlie Hebdo. Across both Europe and the United States, the lurch away from liberalism, on immigration, borders and security, fairly astonishes. But again, understandably so.
Many of the Muslim immigrants in Britain, France, and Germany have never assimilated. Within these countries are huge enclaves of the alienated and their militant offspring.
Consider the Belgium capital of Brussels. Belgium’s home affairs minister Jan Jambon said his government does not “have control of the situation in Molenbeek.” Brice De Ruyver, a security adviser to a former Belgian prime minister says, “We don’t officially have no-go zones in Brussels, but in reality, there are, and they are in Molenbeek.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, after the Paris attacks, “French security forces … conducted hundreds of antiterror raids and placed more than 100 suspects under arrest. … France has some 11,500 names on government watch lists.” How many of those 11,500 are of Arab descent or the Muslim faith?
The nations of the EU are beginning to look again at their borders, and who is crossing them, who is coming in, and who is already there.
And the world is reawakening to truths long suppressed. Race and religion matter. To some they are life-and-death matters. Not all creeds, cultures and tribes are equally or easily assimilated into a Western nation. And First World nations have a right to preserve their own unique identity and character.
When Obama says that to prefer Christian to Muslim refugees is “un-American,” he is saying that all the U.S. immigration laws enacted before 1965 were un-American. And, so, too, were presidents like Calvin Coolidge who signed laws that virtually restricted immigration to Europeans.
Barack Obama may be our president, but who is this man of the left to dictate to us what is “un-American”? Were presidents Harry Truman and Woodrow Wilson, who called ours a “Christian nation,” un-American? Did the Supreme Court uphold our “universal values” with Roe v. Wade in 1973 and the Obergefell decision on same-sex marriage last June?
The race issue, too, has returned to divide us. Half a century after Selma bridge, we have “Black Lives Matter!” on college campuses claiming that universities like Missouri, Princeton, Yale, and Dartmouth are riddled with institutional racism. Attention must be paid, and reparations made, by white America. And a new generation of academic appeasers advances to grovel and ask how the university might make amends.
In Europe, tribalism and nationalism are on the march. Peoples and nations wish to preserve who they are. Some have begun to establish checkpoints and ignore the Schengen Agreement mandating open borders. Eastern Europeans have had all the diversity they can stand.
With Syrian passports missing, with ISIS besieged in its Syria-Iraq laager and urging suicide attacks in New York and Washington, we may be witness to more terrorist massacres and murders in the States. The time may be at hand for a moratorium on all immigration, and a rewriting of the immigration laws to reflect the views and values of Middle Americans, rather than those of a morally arrogant multicultural elite.
Obamaworld is gone. We live again in an us-versus-them country in an us-versus-them world. And we shall likely never know another.
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority. Copyright 2015 Creators.com.
Among the presidential candidates of the Republican Party and their foreign policy leaders on Capitol Hill the cry is almost universal:
Barack Obama has no strategy for winning the war on ISIS.
This criticism, however, sounds strange coming from a party that controls Congress but has yet to devise its own strategy, or even to authorize the use of U.S. military force in Syria.
Congress has punted. And compared to the cacophony from Republican ranks, Barack Obama sounds like Prince Bismarck.
The President’s strategy is to contain, degrade and defeat ISIS. While no one has provided the troops to defeat ISIS, the U.S. is using Kurdish and Yazidi forces, backed by U.S. air power, to degrade it.
And recent months have seen measured success.
The Kurds have run ISIS out of Kobani, captured much of the Turkish-Syrian border, and moved to within 30 miles of Raqqa, the ISIS capital. Yazidis and Kurds last week recaptured Sinjar in Iraq and cut the highway between Mosul and Raqqa.
The terrorist attacks in Paris, the downing of the Russian airliner in Sinai, the ISIS bomb that exploded in the Shiite sector of Beirut, are ISIS’s payback. But they could also be signs that the ISIS caliphate, imperiled in its base, is growing desperate and lashing out.
Yet consider the Republican strategies being advanced.
In Sunday’s Washington Post, Mitt Romney writes:
We must wage the war to defeat the enemy. … [Obama] must call in the best military minds from the United States and NATO … and finally construct a comprehensive strategy that integrates our effort with the Kurds, Turks, Saudis, Egyptians and Jordanians.
The Kurds excepted, Gov. Romney ignored all the forces that are actually fighting ISIS: Russians, Hezbollah, Iran, Bashar Assad, the Syrian army.
Mitt urges instead an alliance of countries that have done next to nothing to defeat ISIS.
The Turks are instead hitting the Kurds in Turkey, Syria and Iraq. The Saudis are bombing the Houthis in Yemen, not ISIS in Raqqa. The Egyptians are preoccupied with their own homegrown terrorists.
“Now is the time, not merely to contain the Islamic State,” says Mitt, “but to eradicate it once and for all.” But why did he not mention Russia, Iran, Assad and Hezbollah, all of which also wish to eradicate ISIS?
We partnered with Stalin in WWII.
Is Vladimir Putin an untouchable?
Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham want U.S. ground troops sent into Syria and Iraq. But as Turkey has an army of 500,000 next door and Assad’s army would happily help wipe out ISIS, why not let Arab and Turkish boys do the fighting this time?
“America must lead,” is Jeb Bush’s mantra, and he wants U.S. boots on the ground and a no-fly zone over Syria.
“We should declare war,” says Bush.
Why then does Bush not call up Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and dictate the war resolution he wants passed?
And whom does Jeb propose to fight? Why declare a no-fly zone when ISIS has no air force? Does Bush plan to shoot down Syrian planes flying over Syria and Russian planes flying in support of Assad?
Has Jeb, like his brother, not thought this through?
If we declare a no-fly zone over Syria, or establish a “safe zone,” we risk war not only with Syria, but Russia, Iran and Hezbollah.
None of these allies of Assad will meekly stand aside while we take military action to deny the Syrian regime and army the right to defend itself and survive in its war against ISIS, al-Nusra and other assorted jihadists and rebels.
Having invested blood and treasure in Assad’s survival, and securing their own interests in Syria, they are not likely to submit to U.S. dictation. Are we prepared for a war against both sides in Syria?
Who would fight Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and Syria alongside us?
Yet New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is ready to rumble.
“Well, the first thing you do is you set up a no-fly zone in Syria, and you call Putin, and you say to him, ‘Listen, we’re enforcing a no-fly zone, and that means we’re enforcing it against everyone, and that includes you. So, don’t test me.'”
And if Russia violated his no-fly zone? “Then you take him down,” said Christie, meaning we shoot down Russian jets.
But what vital interest of ours has ever been so engaged in Syria as to justify a major war in the Middle East and a military clash with a Russia with a nuclear arsenal as large as our own?
In any war it is usually wise to enlarge the roster of one’s allies and reduce the roster of enemies. If ISIS is the implacable enemy and must be annihilated, we should welcome all volunteers.
As for those who decline to fight, but claim a veto over whom we may ally with, we should tell them to pound sand.
If Putin wants to enlist in the war against ISIS, sign him up.
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority. Copyright 2015 Creators.com.
Rand Paul had his best debate moment Tuesday when he challenged Marco Rubio on his plans to increase defense spending by $1 trillion. “You cannot be a conservative if you’re going to keep promoting new programs you’re not going to pay for,” said Paul.
Marco’s retort triggered the loudest cheers of the night:
There are radical jihadists in the Middle East beheading people and crucifying Christians. The Chinese are taking over the South China Sea. … the world is a safer and better place when America is the strongest military power in the world.
Having called for the U.S. Navy to confront Beijing in the South China Sea, and for establishing a no-fly zone over Syria that Russian pilots would enter at their peril, Rubio seems prepared for a confrontation with either or both of our great rival nuclear powers.
Dismissing Vladimir Putin as a “gangster,” Marco emerged as the toast of the neocons. Yet the leading GOP candidate seems closer to Rand. Donald Trump would talk to Putin, welcomes Russian planes bombing ISIS in Syria, thinks our European allies should lead on Ukraine, and wants South Korea to do more to defend itself.
Uber-hawk Lindsey Graham did not even make the undercard debate. And though he and John McCain are the most bellicose voices in the party, they appear to be chiefs with no Indians. Still, it is well that Republicans air their disagreements. For war and peace are what the presidency is about.
Historically, Republican presidents appear to line up on the side of Rand and Trump. Since WWII, there have been five elected GOP presidents: Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II. Only Bush II could be called a compulsive interventionist.
Ike ended Truman’s war in Korea and kept us out of Indochina after the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu. He ordered the Brits, French, and Israelis out of Suez after they had attacked Egypt in 1956. He gave us seven years of peace and prosperity.
Nixon pledged to end the U.S. war in Vietnam, and did. And as Ike invited the Butcher of Budapest, Khrushchev, to visit the United States, Nixon invited Brezhnev, who had crushed the Prague Spring. Nixon became the first Cold War president to visit the USSR, and famously ended decades of hostility between the United States and the China of Chairman Mao.
Reagan used military force only three times. He liberated the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada from Marxist thugs who had murdered the prime minister and threatened U.S. medical students.
He put Marines in Lebanon, a decision that, after the massacre at the Beirut barracks, Reagan regretted the rest of his life. He bombed Libya in retaliation for Moammar Gadhafi’s bombing of a Berlin discotheque full of U.S. troops. Blowback for Reagan came with Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie in 1988.
Though they were the foremost anti-Communists of their era, Nixon and Reagan negotiated historic arms agreements with Moscow. Reagan did send arms to aid anti-Communist rebels in Angola, Afghanistan and Nicaragua, but never confronted Moscow in Eastern Europe, even when Solidarity was crushed in Poland.
George H.W. Bush sent an army of 500,000 to expel Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, but ordered those U.S. troops not to enter Iraq itself. When the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Empire collapsed and the USSR disintegrated, Bush I played the statesman, refusing to exult publicly in America’s epochal Cold War triumph.
It was George W. Bush who gave the neocons their hour of power.
After 9/11, came the invasion and remaking of Afghanistan in our image, the “axis of evil” address, the march to Baghdad, the expansion of NATO to Russia’s doorstep, and the global crusade for democracy “to end tyranny in our world.”
Result: The Republicans lost both houses of Congress in 2006 and the White House in 2008 when John (“We are all Georgians Now!”) McCain was routed by a liberal Democrat who had opposed the war in Iraq.
With the exception of Rand and Trump, the GOP candidates appear to believe the road to the White House lies in resurrecting the attitude and policies of Bush II that cost them the White House.
From Marco and other voices on stage one hears: Tear up the Iran deal. Confront Putin. Establish a no-fly zone over Syria. Assad must go. Send offensive weapons to Kiev. More boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria. Send U.S. troops to the Baltic and warships to the Black Sea. Confront China in the Spratlys and South China Sea.
Responding to that audience in Milwaukee, most GOP candidates appear to have concluded that bellicosity and bravado are a winning hand in the post-Obama era.
Yet, those nationalist strongmen Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping do not seem to me to be autocrats who are likely to back down when told to do so by Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, or Carly Fiorina.
“A modern day mass migration is taking place … that could change the face of Europe’s civilization,” warned Hungarian President Viktor Orban. “If that happens, that is irreversible. … There is no way back from a multicultural Europe,” said Orban. “If we make a mistake now, it will be forever.”
Orban acted on his beliefs. He erected a 110-mile fence on the Serb border, redirecting hundreds of thousands of migrants away from Hungary to Croatia, thence to Austria and Germany.
Sunday, after a third of a million had passed through, Croatia replaced a center-left with a rightist party. A fortnight ago, the right-wing eurosceptic Law and Justice Party won a landslide victory in Poland. Support for Angela Merkel, who has opened Germany to a million migrants, is plummeting. Bavaria’s CSU, sister party of Merkel’s CDU, is in rebellion. Bavaria has been the main port of entry for the hundreds of thousands of arriving migrants.
Europe is undergoing the greatest mass migration since World War II, when 14 million Germans were driven out of Prussia and eastern Germany and Central and Eastern Europe. That mass migration halted after two years. But no end is in sight to the migrations from Africa and the Middle East.
As long as Europe’s borders remain open, they will come. And the people who wish to come number not just in the millions but the tens and scores of millions. And they know how to get there. The routes—through Turkey to the Balkans on land, or across a few miles of the Med to the Greek islands, or from Libya to Lampedusa and Sicily, or into the Spanish enclaves on the Moroccan coast, or out to the Canary Islands—are arduous but not impossible.
Why should they not come?
Why should Arabs and Africans not flee the tyranny, terror, poverty, and war that are their lot to come to Europe, live the good life, and have life’s necessities provided for their families by the munificent welfare states of northern Europe? And what is to stop them? Jean Raspail’s The Camp of the Saints is proving more prophetic than Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World or Orwell’s 1984.
Considering the crises facing Europe, the question is no longer: Will the EU survive? It is Orban’s question: Will European civilization survive the century?
This year, the EU monetary union, the eurozone, avoided breaking apart because Athens capitulated and accepted austerity, and the hard-bargaining Germans agreed to a bailout. How long will Greeks and Club Med members of the EU accept austerity? How long will Germans bail out nations whose people like to work fewer hours while enjoying superior social benefits?
Under the Schengen Agreement, there are to be no barriers to trade and travel, to the movement of goods and people inside the EU. Yet, across Europe, fences are going up, borders are being re-established, anti-immigrant and anti-EU parties like the National Front of France’s Marine Le Pen, are gaining converts.
If the mass migrations are not halted, the rise of nationalist regimes at the expense of Europe’s liberals and leftists is inevitable. With birth rates in this smallest and least populated of continents below replacement levels for decades, Europe is aging, shrinking and dying, as it is being invaded and altered forever.
Optimists point to how America absorbed the 15 million that arrived in the Great Wave of immigration from 1890 to 1920. But they ignore the differences. America’s immigrants were Europeans from Christian nations coming to a country with a history of assimilation. And the Great Wave stopped in 1924, for 40 years.
Unlike America, Europe has never known mass immigration. And those pouring into Europe are Arab, African, and Muslim, not European Christians or Jews. They come from other civilizations and cultures. And they are not all assimilating but rather creating enclaves in Europe that replicate the lands whence they came.
Last year, the Swiss voted to cut back on immigration. This year, with the UK Independence Party growing in popularity, Prime Minister David Cameron is demanding reforms in the EU charter, before the British vote on whether to leave the EU altogether. With migrants in the thousands milling around Calais and the entrance to the tunnel to Dover, Brits must be wondering whether it was wise to dig that tunnel beneath the Channel to their island home.
The threats raised by the mass migration into Europe rise to the level of the existential. Can a civilization survive the replacement of the people who created it by people of other races, religions, and civilizations? Ask the Native Americans.
Will Europe remain Europe if she is repopulated by Arabs, Muslims, Asians, and Africans? What will hold Europe together? Free trade?
In 1981, when Solidarity was crushed by the Warsaw regime on the orders of Moscow, Americans took up the cry—”Let Poland be Poland.” One day soon, a voice will arise across the Atlantic calling for an end to this invasion, by force if necessary, and declare: “Let Europe be Europe!”
“Dalton Trumbo was a socialist, but he loved being rich.” So says Bryan Cranston, who stars in “Trumbo,” out this week, and plays the screenwriter who went to prison with the Hollywood Ten in the time of Harry Truman.
Actually, Trumbo was not a socialist. Bernie Sanders is a socialist. Trumbo was a Stalinist, a hard-core Communist when the Communist Party USA was run from Moscow by the Comintern, agents of the greatest mass murderer of the 20th century. Trumbo was not what Lenin called a “useful idiot,” a liberal simpleton. He was the real deal, a Bolshevik who followed every twist and turn in the Moscow party line.
When Hitler signed his infamous pact with Stalin, and Germany and Russia crucified Poland and Hitler overran France, Trumbo justified the Nazi brutality, “To the vanquished all conquerors are inhuman.” As Churchill led his country in defying Hitler, Trumbo, in his 1941 novel, The Remarkable Andrew, trashed Britain as no democracy, as it had a king, and charged FDR with “black treason” for seeking to aid the Brits in their desperate fight to stave off defeat by the Nazis.
A talented screenwriter who wrote “Roman Holiday,” “Spartacus,” and “Exodus,” Trumbo was attracted to revolutionary violence. Invited to do a screenplay of William Styron’s “Confessions of Nat Turner,” about the Virginia slave who led a rampage of rape and murder in 1831, Trumbo wrote back:
[I]n carrying through his rebellion Turner did nothing more than accept a principle of white Christian violence which had enslaved all of Africa, and used it for the first time in American history as a weapon against white Christians.
Biographer Larry Ceplair quotes Trumbo as describing America as “fundamentally” racist, with racism “the keystone of national policy both domestic and foreign …
How many gooks have we killed in Korea? How many slopes in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia? Millions, and we’re still killing more of them. Our thirst for the blood of dark-skinned sub-humans is insatiable.
Why is Hollywood making a movie about Trumbo?
To whitewash the traitor and his comrades who were blacklisted for refusing to testify to the House Un-American Activities Committee about their Communist Party membership and affiliations. In promoting “Trumbo,” Hollywood’s flacks write of the late 1940s as the “darkest days” in American history.
They were dark all right. But probably less dark for Tinseltown Bolsheviks than the hundreds of millions who fell under the rule of the revolutions and regimes they supported in those years.
Between 1946 and 1950, Stalin murdered the Russian POWs we sent back in Operation Keelhaul, imposed his barbarous rule on 10 Christian nations of Eastern Europe, blockaded Berlin, built an atom bomb with the aid of American traitors Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, helped Mao Zedong conquer China and begin a slaughter of Chinese that would exceed the millions attributed to Stalin himself.
In 1950, Stalin backed Kim Il-Sung’s invasion of South Korea that left millions dead, including 33,000 Americans. The film script, “An American Story,” found in Trumbo’s papers, reveals deep sympathy for North Korea during that war.
As Allan Ryskind, son of Hollywood writer Morrie Ryskind, writes in Hollywood Traitors, his definitive new book published by Regnery, “There appeared to be no corkscrew twist in the Soviet line [Trumbo] wouldn’t embrace.”
With all its attendant favorable publicity, “Trumbo,” is designed to accomplish several goals. No only to heroize the Hollywood Ten, but to demean John Wayne and the other patriots who, along with Ronald Reagan of the Screen Actors Guild, helped clean the treasonous vermin out of their town and industry.
The villainess of “Trumbo,” played by Helen Mirren, is Hedda Hopper, the anti-Communist columnist who had considerable clout in Hollywood and backed Ronald Reagan, Ryskind Sr., and John Wayne, who eventually drove the Communists from their midst.
Larger issues are raised by this film. If one has been a Communist, or a Nazi, and supported that evil ideology and its aims, what is one’s moral obligation to one’s country? Is it not to step forward, and tell the truth?
What was the duty of Congress, if not to expose ideological treason in the most powerful cultural force in the America of that day? What was the duty of the leaders of a great industry that found a nest of traitors in their midst, whose deepest allegiance was to our mortal enemy?
For remaining mute, refusing to testify before the Congress, the Hollywood Ten are portrayed as martyrs to the First Amendment. Yet, as Communists, they were providing aid and comfort to the greatest enemies free speech and freedom of the press ever had.
Had the Hollywood Ten supported a subversive party in Stalin’s Moscow, what would have happened to them might have been slightly worse than not getting screen credits for the movies they wrote. By joining a criminal conspiracy dedicated to the overthrow of the government established to protect our freedoms, and the imposition of Communist tyranny, the Hollywood Ten got what they deserved.
By their treason, they blacklisted themselves.
“Are the good times really over for good?” asked Merle Haggard in his 1982 lament.
Then, the good times weren’t over. In fact, they were coming back, with the Reagan recovery, the renewal of the American spirit and the end of a Cold War that had consumed so much of our lives. Yet whoever wins today, it is hard to be sanguine about the future. The demographic and economic realities do not permit it.
Consider. Between 1946 and 1964, 79 million babies were born—the largest, best-educated and most successful generation in our history. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, both born in 1946, were in that first class of baby boomers.
The problem. Assume that 75 million of these 79 million boomers survive to age 66. This means that from this year through 2030, an average of nearly 4 million boomers will be retiring every year. This translates into some 11,000 boomers becoming eligible for Medicare and Social Security every single day for the next 18 years.
Add in immigrants in that same age category and the fact that baby boomers live longer than the Greatest Generation or Silent Generation seniors, and you have an immense and unavoidable increase coming in expenditures for our largest entitlement programs.
Benefits will have to be curbed or cut and payroll taxes will have to rise, especially for Medicare, to make good on our promises to seniors. As for the rest of our federal budget of nearly $4 trillion, we have run four consecutive deficits of over $1 trillion. To bring that budget to balance, freezes would have to be imposed and cuts made in spending for defense and other social programs.
From California to Wisconsin to New York, we see the process at work at the state level. Government salaries are frozen, government payrolls are cut, government pensions and programs are scaled back. California and Illinois are on the precipice of default. Cities like Detroit, Birmingham, Stockton and San Bernardino are already there.
As for national defense, how long can we afford to spend more than the 10 other top nations combined? How long can we continue to defend scores of nations half a world away? How many more trillion-dollar wars like Iraq and Afghanistan can we fight on borrowed money?
Moreover, the day of the great national enterprises is over.
FDR had his New Deal and World War II, Ike his federal highway system, Kennedy his space program, LBJ his Great Society, Reagan his military buildup and tax cuts, Bush his two wars and tax cuts, Obama his Obamacare. But there is nothing left in the till to do big things. One sees only deficits and debt all the way to the horizon.
Europe has arrived at where we are headed. In the south of the old continent—Spain, Italy, and Greece—the new austerity has begun to imperil the social order. In the north, the disposition to be taxed to pay for other nations’ social safety nets is disappearing.
With government in the U.S. at all levels consuming 40 percent of gross domestic product, and taxes 30 percent, taxes will have to rise and government spending be controlled or cut. The alternative is to destroy the debt by depreciating the dollars in which it is denominated—i.e., by Fed-induced inflation.
But you can only rob your creditors once. After that, they never trust you again.
There is another social development rarely discussed. The workers who are replacing retiring baby boomers in the labor force are increasingly minorities. Black folks and Hispanics alone account now for 30 percent of the population—and rising rapidly.
Yet these two minorities have high school dropout rates of up to 50 percent in many cities, and many who do graduate have math, reading and science scores at seventh-, eighth- and ninth-grade levels. Can their contributions to an advanced economy be as great as were those of baby boomers of the ’60s and ’70s, whose SAT scores were among the highest we ever recorded? U.S. scores in global competition have been plummeting toward Third World levels.
Everyone talks about how we are going to raise test scores. But, despite record and rising investments in education per student, no one in decades has found a way to do this consistently.
Moreover, while boomers were almost all born into families where mother and father were married and living together, Hispanics have a 53 percent illegitimacy rate, African-Americans a 73 percent rate.
Among the white poor and working class, the illegitimacy rate is now 40 percent—almost twice as high as it was in black America when Pat Moynihan wrote his 1965 report on the crisis of the black family. And between the illegitimacy rate and the drug-use rate, dropout rate, crime rate and incarceration rate, the correlation is absolute.
Some of us are often accused of always “crying wolf.” But it is worth noting that one day the wolf came.
Trailed by two Chinese warships, the guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen sailed inside the 12-nautical-mile limit of Subi Reef, a man-made island China claims as her national territory. Beijing protested. Says China: Subi Reef and the Spratly Island chain, in a South China Sea that carries half of the world’s seaborne trade, are as much ours as the Aleutians are yours.
Beijing’s claim to the Spratlys is being contested by Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, and Taiwan. While Hanoi and Manila have occupied islets and built structures to back their claims, the Chinese have been more aggressive. They have occupied rocks and reefs with troops, dredged and expanded them into artificial islands, fortified them, put up radars, and are building air strips and harbors.
What the Chinese are about is easy to understand.
Having feasted and grown fat on trade surpluses with the United States, the Chinese are translating their economic strength into military power and a new strategic assertiveness. They want to dominate East Asia and all the seas around it.
We have been told our warships are unwelcome in the Yellow Sea and the Taiwan Strait. Beijing also claims the Senkakus that Japan occupies, which are covered by our mutual security treaty. And not only is the South China Sea one of the world’s crucial waterways, the fish within can feed nations and the floor below contains vast deposits of oil and gas. Who owns the islands in the South China Sea owns the sea.
Moreover, our world has changed since Eisenhower threatened to use nuclear weapons to defend Taiwan and the offshore islands of Quemoy and Matsu—and since Bill Clinton sent two U.S. carrier battle groups through the Taiwan Strait. Now we send a lone destroyer inside the 12-mile limit of a reef that, until recently, was under water at high tide.
What China is doing is easily understandable. She is emulating the United States as we emerged to become an imperial power.
After we drove Spain out of Cuba in 1898, we annexed Puerto Rico and the Hawaiian Islands, where American settlers had deposed the queen, took Wake and Guam, and annexed the Philippines. The subjugation of Filipino resistance required a three-year war and thousands of dead Marines.
And the reaction of President McKinley when he heard our Asian squadron had seized the islands:
When we received the cable from Admiral Dewey telling of the taking of the Philippines I looked up their location on the globe. I could not have told where those darned islands were within 2,000 miles.
In 1944, General MacArthur, whose father had crushed the Filipino resistance, retook the islands from the Japanese who had occupied them after Pearl Harbor. At the end of the Cold War, however, Manila ordered the United States to get out of Clark Air Force Base and Subic Bay naval base. We did as told. Now our Filipino friends want us back to confront China for them, as do the Vietnamese Communists in Hanoi.
Before we get ourselves into the middle of their dispute, before we find ourselves in an air war or naval clash with China, we ought to ask ourselves a few questions.
First, why is this our quarrel? We have no claim to any of the Spratly or Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. Yet, each of the claimants—Beijing, Taipei, Manila, Hanoi—seems to have maps going back decades and even centuries to support those claims.
Besides freedom of the seas, what is our vital interest here?
If these islands are Chinese territory, Beijing has the same right to build air and naval bases on them as we do in the Aleutians, Hawaii, Wake, and Guam. What do we hope to accomplish by sailing U.S. warships into what China claims to be her territorial waters?
While the ships of the U.S. Seventh Fleet are superior to those of the Chinese navy, China has more submarines, destroyers, frigates, and missile boats, plus a vast inventory of ground-based missiles that can target warships at great distances.
In an increasingly nationalist China, Xi Jinping could not survive a climbdown of China’s claims, or dismantlement of what Beijing has built in the South China Sea. President Xi no more appears to be a man to back down than does President Putin. Continued U.S. overflights or naval intrusion into the territorial waters of Chinese-claimed islands are certain to result in a violent clash, as happened near Hainan Island in 2001.
Where would we go from there?
China today is in trouble. She is feared and distrusted by her neighbors; her economy has lost its dynamism; and the Communist Party is riven by purges and rampant corruption.
If we believe this will be the Second American Century, that time is on our side, that Chinese communism is a dead faith, we ought to avoid a clash and show our opposition to Beijing’s excesses, if need be, by imposing tariffs on all goods made in China.
China’s oligarchs will understand that message.
Are Catholic truths immutable? Or can they change with the changing times? This is the deeper question behind the issues that convulsed the three-week synod on the family of the 250 Catholic bishops in Rome that ended Saturday.
A year ago, German Cardinal Walter Kasper called on the church to change—to welcome homosexual couples, and to permit cohabiting and divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion.
Retorted traditionalists: This is heresy. Had the pope followed his friend Cardinal Kasper and ordered Catholic teaching and diocesan practice changed, he could have provoked a schism inside the Church.
Such a change in doctrine would have called into question papal infallibility. Defined at the Vatican Council of 1869-70, that doctrine declares that when the pope teaches ex cathedra, on matters of faith and morals, he is protected from error by the Holy Ghost. Doctrinal truths, taught by popes in communion with the bishops, down through the ages, cannot change.
But if Catholic truths about the indissolubility of marriage and intrinsic immorality of homosexual unions can be changed, then, either the Church has been in grave error in the past, or the Church is toying with heresy today.
Saturday, the Washington Post described the synod as a “brawl over Francis’ vision of inclusion.” Reporter Anthony Faiola compared the synod deliberations to a Tea Party rebellion in John Boehner’s House caucus, and the pope to a change agent like Barack Obama who finds himself blocked and frustrated by conservatives.
Saturday’s document from the synod ignored the call for a new Church stance toward homosexual unions. And it did not approve of giving Communion to divorced and remarried Catholics, whom the Church considers to be living in adultery.
Yet, in Sunday’s sermon the pope seemed angered by both the defiance of the resisting bishops and the conclusions the synod reached. To Pope Francis, the traditionalists appear to be placing the strictures of moral law above the Gospel command of mercy. “None of the disciples stopped, as Jesus did” said Francis of the blind man. “If Bartimaeus was blind, they were deaf. His problem was not their problem. This can be a danger to us. … A faith that does not know how to grow roots into the lives of people remains arid and, rather than oases, creates other deserts.”
The pope seems to be saying that the dissenting bishops, no matter their command of moral law, are lacking in charity, the greatest of the three theological virtues.
Where does the bishops’ synod on the family leave the Church? In confusion, and at risk of going the way of the Protestant churches that continue to hemorrhage congregants.
Recall. With its acceptance of birth control at the Lambeth conference of 1930, the Church of England started down this road, as did its sister, the Episcopal Church. The process led to the decline of both.
From birth control, to divorce and remarriage, women priests, gay clergy, homosexual bishops, same-sex marriage, the Episcopal Church first broke apart, and now appears to be going gentle into that good night.
Indeed the Church of England began in schism, when Henry VIII broke with Rome after Pope Clement VII refused to approve his divorce from Catherine of Aragon and his marriage to Anne Boleyn. According to Cardinal Kasper, Clement should have cut Henry some slack.
In this battle between traditionalists in the synod and the bishops who favor acceptance of some or all of Kasper’s recommendations, the pope seems to stand squarely on the side of the reformers. Yet, it was the Protestant Reformation that destroyed the unity of Catholicism, five centuries ago, as it divided nations and led to conflicts of religion and nationalism, such as the Thirty Years War.
How the Catholic Church can avoid greater confusion among the faithful—after the pope’s virtual blessing of the Kasper recommendations, and the synod’s rejection of them—escapes me. What does the pope do now?
If he ignores the synod’s dissent and moves the Church toward the Kasper position, he could cause a traditionalist break, a schism. Third World bishops might well refuse to change. If he does nothing, he will disappoint Western bishops, priests, and secularists who have seen in his papacy hope for an historic change in Catholic teaching and practice. If he permits the bishops to follow their consciences in their dioceses, he will advance the disintegration of the Church.
The inevitable result of any of these courses that the pope chooses will be, it seems, to deepen the confusion of the faithful.
As for Pope Francis himself, he, too, must choose. He can emulate Cardinal Wolsey—or Thomas More.
“If the Cold War is over, what’s the point of being an American?” said Rabbit Angstrom, the protagonist of the John Updike novels. A haunting remark, since, for 40 years, America was largely united on the proposition that our survival depended upon our victory over communism in the Cold War.
We had a cause then. By and large, we stood together through the crises in the first decades of that Cold War—the Berlin blockade, Stalin’s atom bomb and the fall of China to Mao, the Korean War, the Hungarian revolution, the Cuban missile crisis, and on into Vietnam.
We accepted the conscription of our young men. We accepted wars in Asia, and, if need be, in Europe, to check the Soviet Empire. Vietnam sundered that unity. By 1967, the Gene McCarthy-Robert Kennedy wing of the Democratic Party had broken with the Cold War consensus. “We have gotten over our inordinate fear of communism,” said Jimmy Carter.
The Reagan Republicans and George H.W. Bush would pick up the torch and lead the nation to victory in the last decade of that Cold War that had been a defining cause of the American nation. But when it was over in 1990, America was suddenly at a loss for a new cause to live for, fight for, and, if need be, see its sons die for.
Bush 1, after leading a coalition that drove Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, declared that America’s cause would be the building of a “New World Order.” But few Americans bought in. Sixteen months after his victory parade up Constitution Avenue, after Bush had reached 90 percent approval, 62 percent of his country’s electorate voted to replace him with Bill Clinton or Ross Perot.
Clinton pursued liberal interventionism in the Balkans, leading to 78 days of bombing Serbia, and he regretted not intervening in Rwanda to halt the genocide.
George W. Bush promised a “humble” foreign policy. But 9/11 put an end to that. After driving the Taliban from power and Osama Bin Laden out of Afghanistan, he declared that America’s new goal was preventing an “axis of evil”—Iraq, Iran, North Korea—from acquiring nuclear weapons. Then, Bush marched us up to Baghdad. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq lasted years longer and cost far more in blood and treasure than Bush had anticipated.
At the peak of his prestige, like Pope Urban II, Bush declared a global crusade for democracy. This ended like many of the crusades. Democratic elections were won by Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and, after the Arab Spring, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
Barack Obama promised to end the Bush wars and bring the troops home. And he was rewarded with two terms by a country that has shown minimal enthusiasm for more wars in the Middle East. Obama is now openly mocking the McCainiacs.
“Right now, if I was taking the advice of some of the members of Congress who holler all the time, we’d be in, like, seven wars right now,” he told a group of veterans and Gold Star mothers of slain U.S. soldiers.
This reluctance to begin wars or intervene in wars—be it in Syria, Iraq, Iran, Ukraine—seems to comport with the wishes of the country. And this new reality raises serious questions.
What is America’s cause today? What is our mission in the world? For what end, other than defending our citizens, vital interests and crucial allies, would we be willing to send a great army to fight—as we did in Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan? Are all the global causes of Bush I, Clinton, Bush II over?
Where is the coherence, the consistency, of U.S. policy in the Middle East that should cause us to draw red lines, and fight if they are crossed?
If our belief in democracy demands the ouster of the dictator Assad in Damascus, how can we ally with the theocratic monarchy in Riyadh, the Sunni king sitting atop a Shiite majority in Bahrain, and the Egyptian general on his throne in Cairo, who took power in a military coup against a democratically elected Muslim government?
Other than supporting Israel, maintaining access to Gulf oil, and resisting ISIS and al-Qaeda, upon what do Americans agree?
Henry Kissinger seeks a restoration of the crumbling strategic architecture. Neocons and interventionist liberals want to confront Russia and Iran. Reluctant interventionists like Obama, Donald Trump, and Bernie Sanders think we should stay out of other wars there.
“When a people is divided within itself about the conduct of its foreign relations, it is unable to agree on the determination of its true interests,” wrote Walter Lippmann at the climax of World War II: “Thus, its course in foreign policy depends, in Hamilton’s words, not on reflection and choice but on accident and force.”
America is a nation divided, not only upon the means we should use to attain our ends in the world, but upon the ends themselves.
Three months ago, this writer sent out a column entitled, “Could Trump Win?” meaning the Republican nomination. Today even the Trump deniers concede the possibility. And the emerging question has become: “Can Trump be stopped? And if so, where, and by whom?”
Consider the catbird seat in which The Donald sits.
An average of national polls puts him around 30 percent, trailed by Dr. Ben Carson with about 20 percent. No other GOP candidate gets double digits. Trump is leading Carson in Iowa, running first in New Hampshire, crushing the field in Nevada and South Carolina. These are the first four contests. In Florida, Trump’s support exceeds that of ex-Governor Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio combined.
If these polls don’t turn around, big time, Trump is the nominee.
And with Thanksgiving a month off, then the Christmas season, New Year’s, college football playoffs and NFL playoffs, the interest of the nation will drift away, again and again, from politics. Voting begins Feb. 1 in Iowa. Super Bowl Sunday is Feb. 7. And the New Hampshire primary will likely be on Tuesday, Feb. 9.
We are only three months out, and Trump still holds the high cards.
After months of speeches and TV appearances, he is a far more disciplined campaigner and communicator. In a year when a huge slice of the nation is disgusted with political correctness, wants to dethrone the establishment, wipe the slate clean and begin anew with someone fresh, Trump is in the pole position.
His issues—secure the border, send illegal immigrants back, renegotiate rotten trade deals that shipped our jobs abroad—are more in tune with the national mood than pro-amnesty, Obamatrade or NAFTA. Wall Street Journal conservatism is in a bear market.
Trump says he will talk to Vladimir Putin, enforce the nuclear deal with Iran, not tear it up on Inauguration Day, and keep U.S. troops out of Syria. And South Korea should pay more of the freight and provide more of the troops for its own defense.
A nationalist, and a reluctant interventionist, if U.S. interests are not imperiled, Trump offers a dramatic contrast to the neocons and Hillary Clinton, the probable Democratic nominee. She not only voted for the Iraq war Trump opposed, but she helped launch the Libyan war.
The lights are burning late tonight in the suites of the establishment tonight. For not since Sen. Barry Goldwater won the California primary in 1964 have their prospects appeared so grim.
Can Trump be stopped? Absent some killer gaffe or explosive revelation, he will have to be stopped in Iowa or New Hampshire. A rival will have to emerge by then, strong enough and resourced enough to beat him by March.
The first hurdle for the establishment in taking down Trump is Carson. In every national poll, he is second. He’s sitting on the votes the establishment candidate will need to overtake Trump.
Iowa is the ideal terrain for a religious-social conservative to upset Trump, as Mike Huckabee showed in 2008 and Rick Santorum in 2012. But Carson has preempted part of the Evangelical and social conservative vote. Moreover, Sen. Ted Cruz, an anti-establishment man, is working Iowa and has the forensic abilities to rally social conservatives.
Should Trump fall, and his estate go to probate, Cruz’s claim would seem superior to that of any establishment favorite. Indeed, for an establishment-backed candidate—a Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal—to win Iowa, he must break out of the single-digit pack soon, fend off Cruz, strip Carson of part of his following, then overtake Trump. A tall order.
Yet, the battle to consolidate establishment support has begun. And despite his name, family associations, size of his Super PAC, Jeb has lost ground to Marco Rubio. Look to Marco to emerge as the establishment’s last best hope to take down Trump.
But if Trump wins in Iowa, he wins in New Hampshire. The Iowa Caucuses then, the first contest, may well be decisive. If not stopped there, Trump may be unstoppable. Yet, as it is a caucus state where voters stick around for hours before voting, organization, intensity and endless labor can pay off big against a front-runner.
In Iowa, for example, Ronald Reagan was defeated by George H.W. Bush in 1980. Vice President Bush was defeated by Bob Dole and Pat Robertson in 1988. Reagan and Bush I needed and managed comeback victories in New Hampshire. One cannot lose Iowa and New Hampshire.
Thus, today’s task for the Republican establishment.
Between now and March, they must settle on a candidate, hope his rivals get out of the race, defeat Trump in one of the first two contests, or effect his defeat by someone like Carson, then pray Trump will collapse like a house of cards.
The improbabilities of accomplishing this grow by the week, and will soon start looking, increasingly, like an impossibility—absent the kind of celestial intervention that marked the career of the late Calvin Coolidge.
Barack Obama sought as his legacy to bring an end to the two longest wars in U.S. history. On Oct. 15, he, again, admitted failure.
The 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan will remain another year. And, on Inauguration Day 2017, 5,500 U.S. troops will still be there. Why cannot we leave? Because, if we do, we risk the re-seizure of power by the Taliban we drove out 14 years ago, and a wipeout of all we have accomplished in America’s longest war.
When can we come home? Never, if we hope to secure that for which we have already paid with 2,500 U.S. dead. For not only have the Taliban shown they can capture cities like Kunduz in the north, ISIS has arrived to begin its trademark atrocities. One can only imagine what will happen to the men, women, and girls we liberated when we leave, and Kabul falls. Think Saigon, 1975.
In reluctantly deciding not to depart, Obama seems to have learned the lesson of Iraq. There, we have gone back in with 3,000 U.S. troops, after the president had pulled out the last 10,000.
And what is the balance sheet now on Operation Iraqi Freedom, the bloodiest and most costly American war since Vietnam? The Islamic State controls Mosul, Ramadi, and the huge Sunni province of Anbar. Baghdad relies on U.S. air power against ISIS, but looks to Tehran for guidance. The Shiite militias indispensable to the regime’s survival are, most of them, pro-ayatollah and anti-American.
Unloved and unappreciated, the American Empire soldiers on.
Understandably, President Obama does not want a collapse on his watch in Baghdad or Kabul, though he opposed the Iraq war and was never an enthusiast of nation-building in the Hindu Kush.
The liberal interventionists and neocons who goaded George W. Bush on got us into these wars. But they had no clue as to what would happen once we got in, and they have no idea today on how we can get out. Indeed, they have no desire to get out.
Rather, they want us to repudiate the nuclear deal that the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany negotiated with Iran, and impose new sanctions. And if Iran refuses to renegotiate and yield, they would happily exercise “all options on the table.”
They would not rule out yet another American war, on Iran, which has a larger population than Afghanistan and Iraq put together, and is far better prepared and equipped to defend itself.
They want the United States to sustain the “good” rebels in Syria and to insist that “Assad must go.” Asked who rises if Assad falls, if not ISIS, they dismiss the question. But if ISIS is the enemy with whom we cannot deal, why do we not partner with Putin, the Iranians, the Syrian army of Bashar Assad and the Kurds to all pile on and annihilate ISIS in Syria and Iraq?
John Kerry’s repetitive reply—”Assad must go!” Vladimir Putin’s retort—the Americans have “mush for brains.”
Looking at what we sought to do with our interventions in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Afghanistan, has any of them turned out as the war hawks predicted, or we had hoped? Do the prospects of any of these failed states look better for our intervention?
Yet the Beltway hawks now want to confront Russia in Syria and Ukraine, and are looking forward to challenging China’s claims to islets in the Spratly chain by sailing U.S. warships inside the 12-mile limit.
Republican presidential candidates like Lindsey Graham are even talking up sending U.S. ground forces back into Iraq and into Syria. What we could accomplish there, and when we could get out, are questions that are not only unanswered, they are unasked.
In analyzing the presidential race, the one conclusion upon which all agree is that the anti-Washington, anti-incumbent sentiment is far deeper and wider than most had imagined.
The surge in the polls of Bernie Sanders at the expense of Hillary Clinton, and of Donald Trump at the expense of the GOP establishment, are the political stories of the year. And what do Socialist Sanders and Capitalist Trump have in common? Neither is an interventionist—both opposed the Iraq War.
Trump, unlike Carly Fiorina, would talk to Vladimir Putin. Unlike the departed Scott Walter, he would not tear up the Iran nuclear deal the day he took office. He would monitor and enforce it.
Unlike other Republican candidates, he does not look upon Putin’s intervention on behalf of Assad with anger and outrage. If Putin wants to bomb ISIS, be my guest, says Trump.
Trump has not laid out a broad foreign policy. Yet, the sense one gets is that, like Eisenhower, Nixon, and Reagan, he is a “peace through strength” Republican who looks to extricate us from Mideast wars now underway, and not be looking to start any new ones.
For anti-interventionists, Trump vs. Sanders is the ideal race.
The honor of it all aside, Rep. Paul Ryan would do well to decline the speakership of the House. For it is a poisoned chalice that is being offered to him.
The Republican Party is not, as some commentators wail, in “chaos” today. It is in rebellion, in revolt, as it was in the early 1960s when Barry Goldwater’s true believers rejected Eisenhower Republicanism and Nelson Rockefeller to nominate the Arizona Senator for president.
A similar and bristling hostility to today’s establishment has arisen, in the GOP Congress, the country, and the presidential race.
The acrimony attendant to this militants revolt explains why Speaker John Boehner packed it in, singing “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,” and why Donald Trump remains far out in front for the nomination.
Ryan’s popularity and pleasant persona are not going to be able to smooth over those divisions. For they are about ideology, and about issues such as free trade and amnesty for people here illegally, where Ryan stands squarely with the establishment and against the revolt.
Many House rebels and Trump supporters look on the hollowing out of America’s industrial base as the direct result of trade treaties negotiated for the benefit of transnational corporations, whose profits are contingent on cutting production costs by moving factories out of the USA.
Ryan voted for all of those trade deals. And Ryan voted for fast-track, the unilateral surrender of Congress’s power even to amend the trade treaties that Barack Obama brings home.
Should he become speaker, Paul Ryan would have to round up Republican votes for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal Obama has negotiated. But not only are Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton opposed to TPP, Trump calls it a “disaster” that fails to address the critical issue of “currency manipulation.”
The TPP has already been rechristened by Republican rebels as “Obamatrade.” If Ryan harbors ambitions to be president, he will steer clear of this coming battle between nationalism and globalism.
As former Speaker Newt Gingrich suggests, a Speaker Ryan would be embattled as soon as he took up the gavel:
“It’s easy to get 218 on the first vote, and then you get to keep the government open through a continuing resolution, and then you get to the debt ceiling, and, if you’re not careful, by Christmas you resemble John Boehner.”
On the issues of mass immigration and illegal immigration that have roiled the Republican race, Ryan is regarded as an open-borders man. Says Rosemary Jenks of NumbersUSA, which is fighting to halt the invasion:
“He (Ryan) has been … pro-amnesty, pro-mass immigration, pro-replacing American workers with foreign workers … all of his career.”
In the early 1960s, the Goldwaterites demanded “A Choice, Not an Echo” in the title of Phyllis Schlafly’s best-seller, an updated version of which is now in print. Those conservatives did not want to compromise with their adversaries in the Republican establishment or Democratic Party. They did not want to work together. They wanted to change policy. They wanted to change the direction of the country.
Backing the Freedom Caucus in the House and the “outsiders” in the GOP presidential race are men and women of a similar mindset, who have been recognized and re-identified by the National Journal‘s John Judis.
They are the Middle Americans Radicals, the “MARS.”
Their temperament is that of their forebears in the ’60s and ’90s, but their issues are today’s. Patriotic and nationalistic, they cherish the country they grew up in and do not want it changed by mass migration. They want illegal immigrants sent back. On whether a devout Muslim should be president, they are with Dr. Ben Carson.
When Trump says, “We never win anymore,” that resonates to these folks. They see 21st-century America as a nation that cannot win its wars, or secure its borders, or build an infrastructure of roads, bridges, rails and airports to match those rising in other countries.
Moreover, the spirit of revolt in the GOP, indeed, in both parties today, is not confined to the USA. It is roiling Europe. In Britain, France, Spain, Italy and Belgium, nationalism is tearing at the seams of nations. Secession from the EU appears to be an idea whose time is coming.
Popular resistance to the dictates of Brussels and Angela Merkel’s Berlin, and to mass migration from the Middle East and Africa that threatens to swamp the smallest continent, are familiar to the Americans of 2015 as well.
Paul Ryan is not going to be able to unite a House Republican caucus that is splitting on issues like this. As chairman of the House Committee on Ways & Means, he is better off working on supply-side tax cuts.
After the GOP capture of the House in 2010, Ryan, with new Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, wrote a book about what they were going to do titled Young Guns.
“Young Guns” Cantor and McCarthy are now lying toes up in the OK Corral, and if Paul Ryan becomes speaker, he will end up the same way.
“Seems the more people you kill, the more you are in the limelight.”
That blog post on the email address of Oregon mass-murderer Christopher Harper-Mercer was made after Vester Lee Flanagan shot and killed that Roanoke TV reporter and her cameraman. “I have noticed,” said the blog post, “that people like [Flanagan] are all alone and unknown, yet when they spill a little blood, the whole world knows who you are.”
Harper-Mercer had found the key to his future, and given us a truism for our time.
For the world now knows who Harper-Mercer is. We have seen his face on TV. We have read how he murdered eight students and a teacher at Umpqua Community College, how those who admitted to being Christian were executed in front of the class with a bullet to the brain.
When detectives arrived, Harper-Mercer was wounded in a firefight, fled back to his bloody classroom and shot himself. From start to finish, the worst shooting in Oregon’s history lasted half an hour.
When the news broke, predictably, President Obama was back in the White House briefing room calling for new laws to control the sale of guns. “You never let a serious crisis go to waste,” said Rahm Emanuel. Yet it is hard to find an episode where new gun laws would seem less relevant. For what took place at Roseburg, Oregon, was a planned massacre by a man full of hate who had decided to end his life in a blaze of infamy, by suicide, or suicide-by-cop, so he could become as famous as the killers of Columbine, Ft. Hood, Aurora, Sandy Hook, Tucson, Virginia Tech and Charleston.
Harper-Mercer wanted to die as a mass-murderer. Is someone driven by such hatred, such determination to have us know who he is, going to be deterred by a new federal statute that says he cannot acquire the guns he needs to succeed, out of 300 million guns in America?
Roseburg reinforces the case made by the NRA. Often, the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. That’s who finally stopped Harper-Mercer. Regrettably, none of the innocent dead at Umpqua was carrying a concealed weapon.
Prediction: We are going to have more of these massacres.
Why? Because we rewarded Harper-Mercer for his barbarity in the currency he craved, the only currency he cared about: fame and immortality in this world. Before Oct. 1, Harper-Mercer was a nobody, a loser, a recluse with no girlfriend. For a brief time, this nobody has become as notorious as John Dillinger and Jesse James.
The lesson of Roseburg? If you are sick of life and hate the world, you can end it in a way that makes that world take notice of who you were. If you are willing to shoot a dozen unarmed people, and die in a blaze of gunfire, TV will interrupt its broadcasting to report on who you are, what you did, and to read on-air selections from your fiery final manifesto.
The Charleston killer Dylan Roof had photos of himself waving the Battle Flag shown to all of America. The Roanoke killer took cellphone photos while shooting the woman reporter.
Moreover, society is producing more and more dead souls like Harper-Mercer, who crave the same reward. The child of a broken family, he was taught in schools from which the Ten Commandments had been ruthlessly expunged. He grew up in a deracinated society whose reverence for human life is testified to by 55 million abortions since Roe v. Wade, and by video games where killing of simulated human beings is treated as a participant sport.
In the country of yesterday, “Thou shalt not kill” was the word of God, and the penalty for breaking God’s law and man’s law was not only execution, but the loss of one’s soul. How many still believe that?
We have a drug culture where those with mental illness are prescribed ever more powerful antidepressants. And modernity has no convincing answer to the eternal question, “Why not?”
Across the secularized West, in the thousands, young men are being attracted to the Islamic State to become suicide bombers. The drawing card? Footage of anti-Islamists being beheaded on a beach. And the reward that Islamists offer to their suicide bombers?
Not too different from ours. We make our monsters media celebrities of the moment. The Islamic State makes them martyrs for Allah who spend eternity in paradise.
In a de-Christianized America where no higher law exists, killing is a commonplace occurrence, and the popular culture is polluted by raw sex and violence, what answer does society give to the Harper-Mercers who are willing to kill in large numbers to become famous?
We are not the rules-based society we once were. We have junked the Christian code, embraced absolute social freedom, and dispensed with the moral sanctions. Yet instead of the Great Society of liberalism’s promise, we seem to be approaching a society that is sick unto death.
Having established a base on the Syrian coast, Vladimir Putin last week began air strikes on ISIS and other rebel forces seeking to overthrow Bashar Assad. A longtime ally of Syria, Russia wants to preserve its toehold on the Mediterranean, help Assad repel the threat, and keep the Islamic terrorists out of Damascus.
Russia is also fearful that the fall of Assad would free up the Chechen terrorists in Syria to return to Russia. In intervening to save Assad, Putin is doing exactly what we are doing to save our imperiled allies in Baghdad and Kabul. Yet Putin’s intervention has ignited an almost berserk reaction.
John McCain has called for sending the Free Syrian Army surface-to-air missiles to bring down Russian planes. Not only could this lead to a U.S.-Russia clash, but U.S.-backed Syrian rebels have a record of transferring weapons to the al-Qaeda affiliate. The end result of McCain’s initiative, sending Stingers to Syria, could be airliners blown out of the sky across the Middle East.
Hillary Clinton wants the U.S. to create a no-fly zone. And Friday’s Wall Street Journal endorsed the idea:
Mr. Obama could make Mr. Putin pay a price. … In Syria the U.S. could set up a no-fly zone to create a safe haven for refugees against … Mr. Assad’s barrel bombs. He could say U.S. planes will fly wherever they want, and if one is attacked the U.S. will respond in kind.
U.S.-Russian dogfights over Syria are just fine with the Journal. Saturday’s Washington Post seconded the motion, admonishing Obama: “Carve out safe zones. Destroy the helicopter fleet Mr. Assad uses for his war crimes.”
Has the War Party thought this through?
Establishing a no-fly zone over Syria, which means shooting down Syrian fighter-bombers and helicopters, is an act of war. But when did Congress authorize the president to go to war with Syria? When last Obama requested such authority—in 2013, when chemical weapons were used—the American people arose as one to say no to U.S. intervention. Congress backed away without even voting.
Unprovoked air strikes on Syrian government forces would represent an unauthorized and unconstitutional American war. Does the Party of the Constitution no longer care about the Constitution?
Is a Republican Congress really willing to give Barack Obama a blank check to take us to war with Syria, should he choose to do so? Is this what America voted for in 2014?
A no-fly zone means U.S. warplanes downing Syrian planes and helicopters and bombing antiaircraft defenses at Syrian airfields. To Damascus this would mean the Americans have committed to the defeat of their armed forces and downfall of their regime.
The Syrians would fight—and not only the Syrian army. For Russia, Hezbollah, and Iran are all allied to the Damascus regime, as all believe they have a vital interest in its survival. How would Russia, Iran and Hezbollah respond to U.S. air strikes on their ally? Would they pack it in and leave? Is that our experience with these folks?
Today, the U.S. is conducting strikes on ISIS, and the al-Qaeda affiliate. But if we begin to attack the Syrian army or air force, we will be in a new war where the entire Shiite Crescent of Iran, Baghdad, Damascus, and Hezbollah, backed by Russia, will be on the other side.
We will have taken the Sunni side in the Sunni-Shiite sectarian long war. How long such a war would last, and how it would end, no one knows.
Whatever one thinks of Putin’s policy in Syria, at least it makes sense. He is supporting an ally, the Assad regime, against its enemies, who seek to overthrow that regime.
It is U.S. policy in Syria that makes no sense. We train rebels at immense cost to fight Assad, who cannot or will not fight. We attack ISIS, which also seeks to bring down the Assad regime. And we, too, want to bring down Assad.
Who do we think will rise if Assad falls? Do we have a “government in a box” that we think we can fly to Damascus and put into power if the Syrian army collapses, the regime falls and ISIS approaches the capital? Have we forgotten the lesson of “Animal Farm”? When the animals revolt and take over the farm, the pigs wind up in charge.
For months, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia has called on Congress to debate and decide before we launch any new war in the Middle East. One wishes him well. For it is obvious that the same blockheads who told us that if the Taliban and Saddam and Gadhafi fell, liberal democracy would arise and flourish, are now clamoring for another American war in Syria to bring down Assad.
And who says stay out? Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, both of whom also opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
There is something to be said for outsiders.
“Do you realize now what you have done?”
So Vladimir Putin in his U.N. address summarized his indictment of a U.S. foreign policy that has produced a series of disasters in the Middle East that we did not need the Russian leader to describe for us.
Fourteen years after we invaded Afghanistan, Afghan troops are once again fighting Taliban forces for control of Kunduz. Only 10,000 U.S. troops still in that ravaged country prevent the Taliban’s triumphal return to power.
A dozen years after George W. Bush invaded Iraq, ISIS occupies its second city, Mosul, controls its largest province, Anbar, and holds Anbar’s capital, Ramadi, as Baghdad turns away from us—to Tehran. The cost to Iraqis of their “liberation”? A hundred thousand dead, half a million widows and fatherless children, millions gone from the country and, still, unending war.
How has Libya fared since we “liberated” that land? A failed state, it is torn apart by a civil war between an Islamist “Libya Dawn” in Tripoli and a Tobruk regime backed by Egypt’s dictator.
Then there is Yemen. Since March, when Houthi rebels chased a Saudi sock puppet from power, Riyadh, backed by U.S. ordinance and intel, has been bombing that poorest of nations in the Arab world. Five thousand are dead and 25,000 wounded since March. And as the 25 million Yemeni depend on imports for food, which have been largely cut off, what is happening is described by one U.N. official as a “humanitarian catastrophe.”
“Yemen after five months looks like Syria after five years,” said the international head of the Red Cross on his return. On Monday, the wedding party of a Houthi fighter was struck by air-launched missiles with 130 guests dead. Did we help to produce that?
What does Putin see as the ideological root of these disasters?
“After the end of the Cold War, a single center of domination emerged in the world, and then those who found themselves at the top of the pyramid were tempted to think they were strong and exceptional, they knew better.”
Then, adopting policies “based on self-conceit and belief in one’s exceptionality and impunity,” this “single center of domination,” the United States, began to export “so-called democratic” revolutions.
How did it all turn out? Says Putin:
An aggressive foreign interference has resulted in a brazen destruction of national institutions. … Instead of the triumph of democracy and progress, we got violence, poverty and social disaster. Nobody cares a bit about human rights, including the right to life.
Is Putin wrong in his depiction of what happened to the Middle East after we plunged in? Or does his summary of what American interventions have wrought echo the warnings made against them for years by American dissenters?
Putin’s concept of “state sovereignty” is this: “We are all different, and we should respect that. No one has to conform to a single development model that someone has once and for all recognized as the right one.” The Soviet Union tried that way, said Putin, and failed. Now the Americans are trying the same thing, and they will reach the same end.
Unlike most U.N. speeches, Putin’s merits study. For he not only identifies the U.S. mindset that helped to produce the new world disorder, he identifies a primary cause of the emerging second Cold War.
To Putin, the West’s exploitation of its Cold War victory to move NATO onto Russia’s doorstep caused the visceral Russian recoil. The U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine that overthrew the elected pro-Russian government led straight to the violent reaction in the pro-Russian Donbas.
What Putin seems to be saying to us is this:
If America’s elites continue to assert their right to intervene in the internal affairs of nations, to make them conform to a U.S. ideal of what is a good society and legitimate government, then we are headed for endless conflict. And, one day, this will inevitably result in war, as more and more nations resist America’s moral imperialism.
Nations have a right to be themselves, Putin is saying. They have the right to reflect in their institutions their own histories, beliefs, values and traditions, even if that results in what Americans regard as illiberal democracies or authoritarian capitalism or even Muslim theocracies.
There was a time, not so long ago, when Americans had no problem with this, when Americans accepted a diversity of regimes abroad. Indeed, a belief in nonintervention abroad was once the very cornerstone of American foreign policy.
Wednesday and Thursday, Putin’s forces in Syria bombed the camps of U.S.-backed rebels seeking to overthrow Assad. Putin is sending a signal: Russia is willing to ride the escalator up to a collision with the United States to prevent us and our Sunni Arab and Turkish allies from dumping over Assad, which could bring ISIS to power in Damascus.
Perhaps it is time to climb down off our ideological high horse and start respecting the vital interests of other sovereign nations, even as we protect and defend our own.
Pope Francis’s four-day visit to the United States was by any measure a personal and political triumph.
The crowds were immense, and coverage of the Holy Father on television and in the print press swamped the state visit of Xi Jinping, the leader of the world’s second-greatest power. But how enduring, and how relevant, was the pope’s celebration of diversity, multiculturalism, inclusiveness, open borders, and a world of forgiveness, peace, harmony and love is another question.
The day the pope departed Philadelphia, 48 percent of Catalonia, in a record turnout of 78 percent, voted to deliver a parliamentary majority to two parties that advocate seceding from Spain. Like the Scots in Britain, the Walloons in Belgium and the Italians of Veneto, they want to live apart, not together.
While the pope called on America and Europe to welcome the migrant millions of the Third World, Bishop Laszlo Kiss-Rigo, whose diocese stretches across the southern reaches of Catholic Hungary, says of those pouring into Europe: “They’re not refugees. This is an invasion. They come here with cries of ‘Allahu Akbar.’ They want to take over.”
The bishop hailed Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who denounced any open door:
Everything which is now taking place before our eyes threatens to have explosive consequences for the whole of Europe. We must acknowledge that the European Union’s misguided immigration policy is responsible for this situation.
We shouldn’t forget that the people who are coming here grew up in a different religion and represent a completely different culture. Most are not Christian, but Muslim. … That is an important question, because Europe and European culture have Christian roots.
The Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland joined Hungary in voting to reject EU quotas for migrants. Under pressure from her allies in Bavaria, even Angela Merkel is re-imposing border controls.
A backlash against refugees, migrants and asylum seekers from Africa and the Islamic world is sweeping Europe. Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front, the strongest anti-EU party in Europe, has called on Paris to ship all migrants back across the Mediterranean. This was the solution Dwight Eisenhower settled on in “Operation Wetback,” when he ordered Gen. Joseph Swing to send the million aliens in Texas illegally back to Mexico in 1954. Swing did as ordered. Indeed, the call to repatriate the 12 million aliens here illegally has been a propellant behind the candidacy of GOP front-runner Donald Trump.
Behind this rising resistance to illegal and mass migration is human nature—the innate desire of peoples of one tribe or nation, who share a common language, history, faith, culture, traditions and identity, to live together—and to live apart from all the rest. Such currents are stronger than any written constitutions.
That Global Citizen Festival concert in Central Park Saturday, featuring Beyonce, may have spoken to the globalist beliefs of Barack Obama, whose wife was there, and of the pope, who was flying to Philly. But in the real world, nationalism, not globalism, is ascendant.
Though Gen. David Petraeus claims Vladimir Putin seeks to re-establish the Russian Empire, this misses the point. If Putin sought that, he would by now, 15 years in power, have annexed Belarus and Ukraine, but he has not even annexed the pro-Russian Donbass.
Putin is a nationalist who sees his country as one of the world’s great powers and sees himself as protector of Russian peoples everywhere. He believes Moscow should have its own Monroe Doctrine, and that rival powers should not be planting military bases on Russia’s doorstep.
Is that so hard for Americans to understand? How did we like having Soviet troops and bases in Castro’s Cuba?
China, too, which abandoned the world Communist revolution, is now a nationalistic power that seeks the same dominance of the waters around it—the Yellow Sea and Taiwan Strait, the East and the South China seas—that the United States has had for over a century in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, the Atlantic, and the Pacific from California to the China coast.
The stronger China grows, the more she will push us away, as we pushed the European powers and the Royal Navy out of our hemisphere. While China is involved in territorial quarrels with Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines, none of her claims represents a threat to U.S. vital interests. Nor does Russia’s actions in reclaiming Crimea or in aiding pro-Russian rebels achieve autonomy in East Ukraine.
What is threatened today is the New World Order of Bush I, the “unipolar world” preached by the neocons and Bush II, and the “rules-based” world of Barack Obama. Russia and China, and other rising powers, are going to play by their rules, the rules of the 19th and early 20th century, the rules by which we Americans became the first power on earth.
America’s “red lines” should be set down clearly in front of our vital interests. Then, we should inform our friends and allies that their defense is, first and foremost, their own responsibility.
Beliefs matter. “Ideas Have Consequences,” as conservative scholar Richard Weaver wrote in his classic of that title in 1948. Yet, for so believing, and so saying, Dr. Ben Carson has been subjected to a Rodney King-style night-sticking by the P.C. police.
Asked by Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” whether he could support a Muslim for president, Carson replied, “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.”
Carson was not out of the studio before the airwaves were filled with denunciations. Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said CAIR is calling on Carson to “withdraw from the presidential race because he is unfit to lead, because his views are inconsistent with the United States Constitution.”
In the name of tolerance, says CAIR, we cannot tolerate Carson. And what does the Constitution say? “[N]o religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
But Carson did not say no Muslim could serve. He said he would not advocate having a Muslim as president, that Islamic beliefs are inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution. Is he wrong? Or is it now impermissible to question a candidate’s beliefs about God, man, and the state, and about whether his religious convictions might affect his conduct in office?
A man’s religion is a part of who he is. While not an infallible guide to what he will do, it is often a reliable road map.
If Mormons still championed polygamy and declared that blacks could not be Mormons, would it be illegitimate to raise that issue? Should a Quaker who believes in “turning the other cheek” not be pressed on whether his faith disqualifies him to be commander in chief? If an Evangelical running for president believes the “end times” are at hand, would it be un-American to ask of the Armageddonite if his religious beliefs might affect his decision on war in the Middle East?
Islam means “submission.” And a believing, practicing, devout Muslim believes in submission to the teachings of the Prophet. That means not only following the dietary laws and fasting during Ramadan, but adhering to the tenets of Islam on the modesty of dress in women, praying five times a day to Mecca, and treating false faiths like Christianity as the great heresies that they are.
Anyone recall a collective protest from the Islamic world when that Afghan convert to Christianity was facing an executioner’s ax?
Islam instructs its adherents not only on how to live their lives, but also how to organize their society. Is Sharia consistent with the U.S. Constitution? Would not a Muslim presidential candidate have to reject Sharia for America, i.e, apostatize? And what is the penalty for apostasy in the Quran?
Would it violate the spirit of the Constitution to ask of a Muslim candidate whether he agrees with the Quran on the proper punishment for homosexuals, adulterers and thieves?
From the Maghreb to the Middle and Near East, in almost every society where Islam is the dominant faith, repression appears the rule. Of the near 50 nations where Islam is the majority religion, where is the constitutional republic that resembles our own?
Carson says he would not support turning the armed forces of the United States over to a follower of a faith whose co-religionists have produced the modern Middle East. Why is that bigotry? Is Islam wholly disconnected to the horrors transpiring there?
Islam has bloody borders, observed Dr. Samuel Huntington. Of the ugliest terrorist organizations of which we daily read—Boko Haram, al-Qaida, ISIS, the al-Nusra Front, al-Shabaab—are not most of them proudly Muslim?
Given the sectarian war between the Shiites led by Iran and the Sunni led by the Saudis, would it violate the Constitution to ask our Muslim presidential candidate to which of these two he belonged?
Dr. Russell Kirk called ideology “political religion.”
Atheists who embraced the political religion of Marxism-Leninism created the Stalinist Empire. Atheist Germans who embraced National Socialism as the state religion produced the Third Reich. And Islamists created Sudan, Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Undeniably, Muslims have proven to be good American patriots, as did the Christians and the Jews who came before them. But in Europe today, we see hundreds of thousands of Muslims pouring in, adding to the millions there, and they are all not assimilating.
Those elites who say they would be fine with a Muslim president are probably dissembling. Because that is the politically correct thing to say; it makes them feel superior; and no such candidate is in sight.
Indeed, the same elites who call it outrageous that Carson said a Muslim should not be president are the first and loudest to decry any suggestion that our current president is a Muslim. Liberals like the idea of a Muslim president—in the abstract.
During the 1950s, the twin pillars of worldwide anti-communism were Dwight Eisenhower’s America and the Roman Catholic Church of Pope Pius XII. During the 1980s, the last decade of the Cold War, Ronald Reagan and the Polish pope, John Paul II, were the pillars of resistance.
When Pope Francis arrives in Washington on Tuesday afternoon, the country he enters will be a very different one from Eisenhower’s America or Reagan’s America. And Catholics will be welcoming a new kind of pope.
In America 2015, homosexuality, abortion on demand and same-sex marriage—shameful crimes in Ike’s America, mortal sins in the catechism of Pius XII—have become constitutional rights. These represent the values that define Barack Obama’s America, the values our officials defend at the United Nations, the values we preach to the world.
What Ike’s America saw as decadence, Obama’s America calls progress. And among its noisiest celebrants are our Catholic vice president, Joe Biden, and the Catholic leader of the Democratic Party in the House, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Since Eisenhower’s time, Christianity, the faith that created the West, has been purged from American public life. The Bible, prayer, and all Christian art, books, and symbols have been expunged from the public schools as they were in Cuba when Fidel Castro took power. Our cradle faith cannot be taught in our public schools.
America is a different country today, a secular and post-Christian nation on its way to becoming anti-Christian. Some feel like strangers in their own land. And from the standpoint of traditional Catholicism, American culture is an open sewer. A vast volume of the traffic on the Internet is pornography.
Ironically, as all this unfolds in what was once “God’s country,” Vladimir Putin seeks to re-establish Eastern Orthodox Christianity as the basis of morality and law in Russia. And one reads in the Wall Street Journal on Monday that Xi Jinping is trying to reintroduce his Chinese Communist comrades to the teachings of Confucianism.
The world is turned upside down. Every civilization seems to recognize the necessity of faith except for the West, which has lost its faith and is shrinking and dying for lack of it. In a New York Times article this month—”Are Western Values Losing Their Sway?”—Steven Erlanger writes:
In its rejection of Western liberal values of sexual equality and choice, conservative Russia finds common cause with many in Africa and with the religious teachings of Islam, the Vatican, fundamentalist Protestants and Orthodox Jews.
Yet what Erlanger describes as “conservative Russia” does seem to share values with America, only it is the America of 1955, another country from the America of 2015.
Which raises a question: Does moral truth change?
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “The best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market.” But is this true? A decade after his beer hall putsch failed in Munich, Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party won the largest number of Germans ever to vote in a democratic election. He had succeeded in the marketplace of ideas. Did that democratic ratification make Hitler’s ideas true?
Or does truth exist independent of the marketplace?
Secular America, which has purged Christianity, preaches a new gospel to the world: liberal democracy as the salvation of mankind. Yet did not Winston Churchill, icon of the democracy worshippers, tell us that “the best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter”?
The Catholic Church, too, faces a growing crisis of moral consistency and credibility.
The church of Pius XII and John Paul II taught that the truths of the Ten Commandments brought down from Sinai and the truths of the Sermon on the Mount are eternal. Those popes also taught that a valid marriage is indissoluble, that homosexuality is unnatural and immoral, that abortion is the killing of the innocent unborn, an abomination.
Yet one reads regularly of discussions inside the Vatican to alter what is infallible church teaching on these doctrines to make the church more appealing to those who have rejected them.
As the pope arrives in America, some Catholics are calling for an acceptance of contraception, the ordination of women and a new acceptance of homosexuality. Yet the Episcopalians, who have embraced all these “reforms” and more, appear to be going the way of James Fenimore Cooper’s Mohicans.
In Cuba, Pope Francis declined to address the repression of the Castro brothers. Will he also avoid America’s moral crisis to chatter on about income inequality and climate change and find common ground with Obama?
What has come out of the Vatican in the past two years is moral confusion. Yet as Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput reminds us, “confusion is of the devil.” It is also trifling with schism.
Having emerged victorious in the 70-year ideological struggle against one of the greatest enemies that mankind has ever known, Marxism-Leninism, are the United States and the Catholic Church heading for the same desuetude and disintegration?