Donald Trump won more votes in the Iowa caucuses than any Republican candidate in history.
Impressive, except Ted Cruz set the new all-time record.
And Marco Rubio exceeded all expectations by taking 23 percent.
Cruz won Tea Party types, Evangelicals, and the hard right.
Trump won the populists and nationalists who want the borders secure, no amnesty, and no more trade deals that enable rival powers like China to disembowel American industries.
And Rubio? He is what columnist Mark Shields called Jimmy Carter, 35 years ago, “the remainderman of national politics. He gets what’s left over after his opponents have taken theirs by being the least unacceptable alternative to the greatest number of voters.”
Marco is the fallback position of a reeling establishment that is appalled by Trump, loathes Cruz, and believes Rubio—charismatic, young, personable—can beat Hillary Clinton.
But there is a problem here for the establishment.
While Rubio has his catechism down cold—”I’ll tear up that Iran deal my first day in office!”—his victory would mean a rejection of the populist revolt that arose with Trump’s entry and has grown to be embraced by a majority of Republicans.
Cruz, Trump, Carson—the outsiders—won over 60 percent of all caucus votes. Their anti-Washington messages, Trump and Cruz’s especially, grew the GOP turnout to its largest in history, 186,000, half again as many as participated in the record turnout of 2012.
Most significant, 15,000 more Iowans voted in GOP caucuses than the Democratic caucuses, where participation plummeted 30 percent from 2008.
What does this portend?
While Iowa has gone Democratic in 6 of the last 7 presidential elections, it is now winnable by Republicans—on two conditions.
The party must be united. And it cannot lose the fire and energy that produced this turnout and brought out those astonishing crowds of tens of thousands.
The remainderman, however, cannot reproduce that energy or those crowds. For Rubio is not a barn burner; he is a malleable man of maneuver.
Arriving in Washington to the cheers of populists reveling in his rout of Charlie Crist, Rubio went native and signed on to the Schumer-McCain amnesty.
He voted for “fast track,” the GOP’s pre-emptive surrender of Congress’s constitutional power to amend trade treaties. He hailed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade treaty President Obama brought home.
Now he is moving crabwise away from TPP. Shiftiness, however, does not bother the establishment, it reassures the establishment.
Rubio is “The Hustler,” the “Fast Eddie” Felson of 2016. And the Beltway is all in behind him.
He is now the candidate of the Washington crowd that a majority of Republicans voted to reject in Iowa, the darling of the donor class, and the last hope of a Beltway punditocracy that recoils whenever the pitchforks appear.
Which brings us to the antithesis of Rubio—Bernie Sanders.
Given where he started a year ago, a sparring partner for the heavyweight Clinton, and where he ended, a split decision and a coin toss, the Brooklyn-born Socialist was the big winner of Iowa.
In the Democratic race, it is Sanders who has been getting the Trump-sized crowds, while Hillary and Bill Clinton have been playing to what look like audiences at art films in the 1950s.
Sanders will likely have the best night of his campaign Tuesday—if Hillary Clinton’s surge does not overtake him—when he wins New Hampshire.
After that, however, absent celestial intervention, such as a federal prosecutor being inspired to indict Clinton, he begins a long series of painful defeats until his shining moment at the convention.
But just as a stifling of the Trump-Cruz-Carson rebellion, with another establishment favorite like Rubio, would bank all the fires of enthusiasm in the GOP, Clinton’s rout of Sanders would cause millions of progressives and young people who rallied to Bernie to give up on 2016.
And if both the Sanders’ revolution that captured half his party in Iowa, and the Trump-Cruz revolt that captured half of their party are squelched, and we get an establishment Republican vs. an establishment Democrat in the fall, America will be sundered.
For there is not one America today, nor two. Politically, there are at least four.
Were this Britain or France, the GOP would have long ago split between its open-borders, globalist, war party wing, and its populist, patriotic, social conservative wing.
The latter would be demanding a timeout on immigration, secure borders, no amnesty, no more needless wars, and a trade policy dictated by what was best for America, not Davos or Dubai.
Democrats would break apart along the lines of the Clinton-Sanders divide, with the neo-socialists becoming a raucous and robust anti-big bank, anti-Wall Street, soak-the-rich and share-the-wealth party.
These splits may be postponed again in 2016, but these rebellions are going to reappear until they succeed in overthrowing our failed establishments.
For the causes that produced such revolutions—Third World invasions, income inequality, economic torpor, culture wars, the real and relative decline of the West—have become permanent conditions.
Patrick J. Buchanan is a founding editor of TAC and the author of The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority
Whoever wins the nominations, the most successful campaigns of 2016 provide us with a clear picture of where the center of gravity is today in both parties and, hence, where America is going.
Bernie Sanders, with his mammoth crowds and mass support among the young, represents, as did George McGovern in 1972, despite his defeat, the future of the Democratic Party.
That Hillary Clinton has been tacking left tells you Sanders is winning the argument. Should she avoid indictment in the email scandal, and win the nomination and the election, Clinton would be a placeholder president.
Yet, should Sanders win the nomination and election—highly improbable—he would become a frustrated and a failed president.
Why? Consider what he has on offer.
Free college tuition and universal health care, a breakup of the big banks and a reform of the tax code to make the Fortune 500 and the millionaires and billionaires pay for it all. Soak the rich!
Sound socialist economics, but this is the formula that turned Puerto Rico and Illinois into the booming showcases they are today. Moreover, unless Sanders swept both houses of Congress and won a 60-vote, veto-proof majority in the Senate, his agenda would be dead on arrival on Capitol Hill.
Yet there are areas where the Sanders agenda overlaps that of Donald Trump and other Republican candidates. Bernie is an anti-interventionist, anti-nation-building, anti-empire leftist of a breed common in the Labor Party after World War II, when the British Empire was liquidated, Churchill notwithstanding.
Moreover, Sanders is no free-trade globalist of the Davos school. He opposed NAFTA, GATT and MFN for China. Like Trump, he backs a trade policy that puts American workers first.
Thus, on both trade and foreign policy, there is common ground between the rebellions in the Democratic and Republican parties, even as Clinton has ideological allies among the GOP free-traders and neocons of the Bush I and II presidencies.
But while difficult to see how Sanders captures the nomination and wins in November, the rebellion in the GOP is larger, stronger, and deeper. In every national or state poll, anti-establishment candidates command a majority of Republican voters. Which presents a problem for the establishment.
The Beltway elites may succeed in blocking Trump or Ted Cruz. But the eventual nominee and the party will have to respect and to some degree accommodate the agendas of the rebellion on immigration, border security, trade, and anti-intervention, or face a fatal split.
We have been here before.
After Richard Nixon lost to JFK in 1960, the Goldwater movement arose to capture the party.
While it went down to a legendary defeat, those who wrote off 1964 as the temporary insanity of the radical right, and walked away from the nominee, were the ones who were history.
Nixon incorporated the conservative movement into his New Majority. Ronald Reagan reveled in the Goldwater title of Mr. Conservative and welcomed into the party the rising Moral Majority.
But it was the dismissive stance of Bush I toward the populist revolt in his party, and his indifference to concerns about illegal immigration, border security and the export of U.S. factories and jobs that brought Ross Perot into the ’92 race, and cost Bush his second term.
Today, the Republican leadership faces another insurrection. Either it will find a way to accommodate this rebellion, which is not going away after 2016, or it will find itself suffering the fate of the Rockefellers and Romneys, the establishment leaders of the 1960s.
While Sanders is an ideologue who has been on the far left of the political spectrum all his life, instinct, more than ideology, explains Trump. His success comes of having seen, felt and given voice to the broad anger of Middle America.
The old GOP agenda—roll back the Great Society, reduce the size of government, cut capital gains taxes, reduce marginal tax rates, balance the budget—this is not the red meat of the Trump rallies.
Populism, patriotism, nationalism, defying political correctness and dissing the establishment and the elites that monitor PC are where it’s at. And there are reasons for such populist rage.
Put bluntly, the nation seems almost everywhere on an unsustainable path. Mass immigration, legal and illegal, continues to alter the face of America. Obama doubled the debt, and the deficits are rising again.
Abroad, we are apparently going to keep troops in Afghanistan for generations, send more to Iraq and Syria, bring down Assad but keep ISIS and al-Qaeda out of Damascus, confront Beijing over the Spratley and Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, build up U.S. forces in the Baltic states and Poland, send weapons to Ukraine, sanction Vladimir Putin for Crimea, repudiate the Iran nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions—all to be done while our NATO, Arab, and Asian allies helpfully hold our coat.
The next president, be it Trump, Cruz, Clinton, or Sanders, either will be the last president of an old era, or the first president of a new era.
Patrick J. Buchanan is a founding editor of TAC and the author of The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.
The conservative movement is starting to look a lot like Syria.
Baited, taunted, mocked by Fox News, Donald Trump told Roger Ailes what he could do with his Iowa debate, and marched off to host a Thursday night rally for veterans at the same time in Des Moines.
Message: I speak for the silent majority, Roger, not you, not Megyn Kelly, not Fox News. Diss me, and I will do fine without Fox.
And so the civil-sectarian war on the right widens and deepens.
And two questions arise: Will the conservative movement and Republican Party unite behind Trump if he is the nominee? And will the movement and party come together if Trump is not the nominee?
A breakdown of the balance of forces in this civil-sectarian war finds most of the media elite of the right recoiling from Trump, while Trump leads by a huge margin in Middle America.
National Review, Commentary, The Weekly Standard, Wall Street Journal, and the conservative and neocon columnists on the op-ed pages at The Washington Post and The New York Times have almost all come out viscerally against Trump.
He, in turn, has trashed several by name. Wounds have been inflicted that will not soon be forgiven or forgotten.
But while columns and magazines appear in print twice weekly, weekly, biweekly and monthly, millions listen to talk radio every hour of every day. And though websites might be updated daily, radio, more than print, is a medium that moves people.
Among the top talkers, Trump gets more than a fair hearing. Some of the talk shows with the largest audiences are sympathetic, others are supportive. And the Drudge Report, the daily newspaper of Middle America, tracks Trump’s every move.
In the media battle, then, the media elite are being swamped by Trump. And Trump is winning the political battle as well. According to almost every poll, state or national, Trump is ahead of all rivals, with his closest challenger trailing by 10 or more points. Among the populist and Tea Party right, Trump has lapped the field, and he is now competitive among Evangelicals.
How will the civil war on the right end?
Because the differences are not simply about personalities and politics, but principles and policies, it may not end with this election.
There is talk of having the anti-Trump conservatives unite behind the one establishment candidate—Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Chris Christie—who emerges strongest after New Hampshire, to storm through the later primaries and take down Trump.
Yet such a scenario seems implausible.
That audience of 24 million that tuned in to the first Fox News debate and the 22 million that tuned in to the CNN debate were drawn to Trump, and Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, because these men seemed to represent real change.
Democrats who support Bernie Sanders and Republicans who support Trump may disagree on where America should go, but both agree on the need for America to radically change direction.
Yet, if this battle for the GOP nomination should yield another establishment Republican, would not all the fire and energy of the campaign of 2015-2016 soon disappear?
Consistency not being their strong suit, some among the conservative elites who denounced Trump’s walkout from the debate, threaten to walk out of the party should Trump win.
But walkout is an option open to populists as well. And if, after the rise of the Tea Party, the capture of Congress in 2014, the Trump-Cruz-Carson rebellion, the GOP offers the silent majority yet another establishment candidate, will populists and Tea Party types rally to him?
Perhaps. One recalls that, after the Revolution of 1789, the march on Versailles, the guillotining of Louis XVI, the rise of Robespierre, and the Era of Napoleon, the French got the Bourbon Restoration—Louis XVIII, brother of the beheaded king, sitting on the old throne.
Still, if the populist-conservative struggle of the last five years, to put behind them the days of Bush 41 and Bush 43, produces Bush 45, or his moral equivalent, how many would shoulder arms and march for him?
And, again, the argument over the acceptability of Trump aside, there is a deeper conflict within the GOP and conservative movement that may be irreconcilable. Millions of conservatives and independents believe it was the Republican policies of the recent past that also failed America.
The Bush-Clinton-Obama trade policies produced the $12 trillion in trade deficits, which measures the net export of U.S. factories and manufacturing jobs, which explain the wage stagnation.
The Republican-neocon foreign policy of intervention and nation building is a primary cause of the present disasters in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Yemen.
The immigration policies championed by Bush Republicans as well Clinton and Obama Democrats produced the immigration crisis that propels the Trump campaign.
In short, it will be difficult for populists to unite with Beltway conservatives in 2016, when the former see the latter as part of the problem, not the solution.
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.
With the Iowa caucuses a week away, the front-runner for the Republican nomination, who leads in all the polls, is Donald Trump.
The consensus candidate of the Democratic Party elite, Hillary Clinton, has been thrown onto the defensive by a Socialist from Vermont who seems to want to burn down Wall Street.
Not so long ago, Clinton was pulling down $225,000 a speech from Goldman Sachs. Today, she sounds like William Jennings Bryan.
Taken together, the candidacies of Trump, Sanders, Ben Carson and Ted Cruz represent a rejection of the establishment. And, imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, other Republican campaigns are now channeling Trump’s.
This then is a rejection election. Half the nation appears to want the regime overthrown. And if spring brings the defeat of Sanders and the triumph of Trump, the fall will feature the angry outsider against the queen of the liberal establishment. This could be a third seminal election in a century.
In the depths of the Depression in 1932, a Republican Party that had given us 13 presidents since Lincoln in 1860, and only two Democrats, was crushed by FDR. From ’32 to ’64, Democrats won seven elections, with the GOP prevailing but twice, with Eisenhower. And from 1930 to 1980, Democrats controlled both houses of Congress for 46 of the 50 years.
The second seminal election was 1968, when the racial, social, cultural and political revolution of the 1960s, and Vietnam War, tore the Democratic Party asunder, bringing Richard Nixon to power. Seizing his opportunity, Nixon created a “New Majority” that would win four of five presidential elections from 1972 through 1988.
What killed the New Majority?
First, the counterculture of the 1960s captured the arts, entertainment, education and media to become the dominant culture and convert much of the nation and most of its elite.
Second, mass immigration from Asia, Africa and especially Latin America, legal and illegal, changed the ethnic composition of the country.
White Americans, over 90 percent of the electorate in 1968, are down to 70 percent today, and about 60 percent of the population.
And minorities vote 80 percent Democratic.
Third, Republicans in power not only failed to roll back the Great Society but also collaborated in its expansion. Half the U.S. population today depends on government benefits.
Consider Medicare and Social Security, the largest and most expensive federal programs, critical to seniors and the elderly who give Republicans the largest share of their votes.
If Republicans start curtailing and cutting those programs, they will come to know the fate of Barry Goldwater.
Still, whether we have a President Clinton, Trump, Sanders or Cruz in 2017, America appears about to move in a radically new direction.
Foreign policy retrenchment seems at hand. With Trump and Sanders boasting of having opposed the Iraq war, and Cruz joining them in opposing nation-building schemes, Americans will not unite on any new large-scale military intervention. To lead a divided country into a new war is normally a recipe for political upheaval and party suicide.
Understandably, the interventionists and neocons at National Review, Commentary, and the Weekly Standard are fulminating against Trump. For many are the Beltway rice bowls in danger of being broken today.
Second, Republicans will either bring an end to mass migration, or the new millions coming in will bring an end to the presidential aspirations of the Republican Party.
Third, as Sanders has tabled the issue of income equality and wage stagnation, and Trump has identified the principal suspect — trade deals that enrich transnational companies at the cost of American prosperity, sovereignty and independence — we are almost surely at the end of this present era of globalization.
As in the late 19th century, we may be at the onset of a new nationalism in the United States.
A vast slice of the electorate in both parties today is angry — over no-win wars, wage stagnation and millions continuing to pour across our bleeding borders from all over the world. And that slice of America holds both parties responsible for the policies that produced this.
This is what America seems to be saying.
Thus, given the deepening divisions within, as well as between the parties, either an outsider prevails this year, or Balkanization is coming to America, as it has already come to Europe.
For the Sanders, Trump, Cruz and Carson voters, the status quo seems not only unacceptable, but intolerable. And if their candidates and causes do not prevail, they are probably not going to accept defeat stoically, and go quietly into that good night, but continue to disrupt the system until it responds.
Unlike previous elections in our time, save perhaps 1980, this appears to be something of a revolutionary moment.
We could be on the verge of a real leap into the dark.
Where are we going? One recalls the observation of one Democrat after the stunning and surprise landslide of 1932:
“Well, the American people have spoken, and in his own good time, Franklin will tell us what they have said.”
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.
The lights are burning late in Davos tonight.
At the World Economic Forum, keynoter Joe Biden warned global elites that the unraveling of the middle class in America and Europe has provided “fertile terrain for reactionary politicians, demagogues peddling xenophobia, anti-immigration, nationalist, isolationist views.”
Evidence of a nationalist backlash, said Biden, may be seen in the third parties arising across Europe, and in the U.S. primaries. But set aside Joe’s slurs—demagogues, xenophobia.
Who really belongs in the dock here? Who caused this crisis of political legitimacy now gripping the nations of the West? Was it Donald Trump, who gives voice to the anger of those who believe themselves to have been betrayed? Or the elites who betrayed them?
Can that crowd at Davos not understand that it is despised because it is seen as having subordinated the interests of the nations and people in whose name it presumes to speak, to advance an agenda that serves, first and foremost, its own naked self-interest?
The political and economic elites of Davos have grow rich, fat, and powerful by setting aside patriotism and sacrificing their countries on the altars of globalization and a New World Order.
No more astute essay has been written this political season than that of Michael Brendan Dougherty in The Week, where he describes how, 20 years ago, my late friend Sam Francis predicted it all.
In Chronicles, in 1996, Francis, a paleoconservative and proud son of the South, wrote:
[S]ooner or later, as the globalist elites seek to drag the country into conflicts and global commitments, preside over the economic pastoralization of the United States, manage the delegitimization of our own culture, and the dispossession of our people, and disregard or diminish our national interest and national sovereignty, a nationalist reaction is almost inevitable and will probably assume populist form when it arrives. The sooner it comes, the better.
What we saw through a glass darkly then, we now see face to face. Is not Trump the personification of the populist-nationalist revolt Francis predicted?
And was it not presidents and Congresses of both parties who mired us in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen, and negotiated the trade deals that have gutted American industry?
The bleeding of factories and manufacturing jobs abroad has produced the demoralization and decline of our middle class, along with the wage stagnation and shrinking participation in the labor force. Is Trump responsible for that? Is Socialist Bernie Sanders, who voted against all those trade deals?
If not, who did this to us? Was it not the Bush Republicans and Clinton Democrats?
Americans never supported mass immigration. It was against their will that scores of millions, here legally and illegally, almost all from Third World countries, whose masses have never been fully assimilated into any western nation, have poured into the USA.
Who voted for that?
Religious, racial, cultural diversity has put an end to the “bad” old America we grew up in, as we evolve into the “universal nation” of Ben Wattenberg, who once rhapsodized, “The non-Europeanization of America is heartening news of an almost transcendental quality.”
James Burnham, the ex-Trotskyite and Cold War geostrategist whose work Francis admired, called liberalism “the ideology of Western suicide.” If the West embraces, internalizes and operates on the principles of liberalism, Burnham wrote, the West will meet an early death.
Among the dogmas of liberalism is the unproven assumption that peoples of all nationalities, tribes, cultures, creeds can coexist happily in nations, especially in a “creedal” nation like the USA, which has no ethnic core but rather is built upon ideas.
A corollary is that “diversity,” a new America and new Europe where all nations are multiracial, multiethnic, multicultural, and multilingual, is the future of the west and the model for mankind.
Yet, large and growing minorities in every country of Europe, and now in America, believe that not only is this proposition absurd, the end result could be national suicide. And when one considers the millions who are flocking to Trump and Sanders, it is hard to believe that the establishments of the two parties, even if they defeat these challengers, can return to same old interventionist, trade, immigration, and war policies.
For Trump is not the last of the populist-nationalists.
Given his success, other Republicans will emulate him. Already, other candidates are incorporating his message. The day Francis predicted was coming appears to have arrived. Angela Merkel may have been Time‘s Person of the Year in 2016, but she will be lucky to survive in office in 2017, if she does not stop the invasion from Africa and the Middle East.
Yet Joe Biden’s dismissal that it is reactionaries who oppose what the progressives of Davos believe is not entirely wrong. For as Georges Bernanos wrote, when Europe was caught between Bolshevism and fascism:
To be a reactionary means simply to be alive, because only a corpse does not react any more—against the maggots teeming on it.
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.
Is the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme leader of the Islamic Republic, a RINO—a revolutionary in name only?
So they must be muttering around the barracks of the Iranian Republican Guard Corps today.
For while American hawks are saying we gave away the store to Tehran, consider what the ayatollah agreed to.
Last week, he gave his blessing to the return of 10 U.S. sailors who intruded into Iranian waters within hours of capture. He turned loose four Americans convicted of spying. And he gave final approval to a nuclear deal that is a national humiliation.
Ordered by the U.S. and Security Council to prove Iran was not lying when it said it had no nuclear weapons program—an assertion supported by 16 U.S. intelligence agencies “with high confidence” in 2007—the ayatollah had to submit to the following demands:
Decommission 12,000 Iranian centrifuges, including all the advanced ones at Fordow, ship out of the country 98 percent of its enriched uranium, remove the core of its heavy-water reactor in Arak and fill it with concrete, and allow U.N. inspectors to crawl all over Iran’s nuclear facilities for years to come.
Iran is being treated by the great powers like an ex-con on parole who must be monitored and fitted with an ankle bracelet.
Why did the ayatollah capitulate to these demands?
Comes the reply: To get $100 billion. But the money Iran is getting back belongs to Iran. It is not foreign aid. The funds had been frozen until Iran accepted our conditions. The sanctions worked.
There is another reason Tehran may have submitted.
When Iran said it did not have a nuclear bomb program, it was telling the truth. Indeed, it is Iran’s accusers, many from the same crowd that misled and lied to us when they said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, whose credibility is in question today.
Iran’s accusers should produce their evidence, if any, that Iran had, or still has, a nuclear bomb program.
Otherwise, they should shut up with the lying and goading the U.S. into another war that will leave us with another trillion-dollar debt, ashes in our mouths, and thousands more dead and wounded warriors.
Yet, if Iran does not have a nuclear bomb program, we must ask: Why not? And the answer suggests itself: Because Iran concluded, years ago, that an atom bomb would make it less not more secure.
For, as soon as Iran tested a bomb, a nuclear arms race would be on in the Mideast with Saudis, Turks and Egyptians all in competition.
The Israelis would put their nuclear arsenal on a hair trigger.
And most dangerous for Iran, she would find herself confronting the USA.
Yet, no matter how much the mullahs may hate us, they are not stupid, and they know a war with America would leave their country, as it left Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, smashed and broken.
Iraq is today splintered into Sunni, Shiite, Kurd and Arab. And Iran, after a war with the USA, could decompose into a tribalized land of warring Persians, Arabs, Baluch, Kurds and Azeris.
Yet, if a war with America would be a disaster for Iran, detente with America might bring a time of peace that could enable this largest nation on the Persian Gulf, with 80 million people, and an ally now of its old rival Iraq, to achieve hegemony in the Gulf.
Which brings us back to the ayatollah.
From his actions, he appears to have blessed Iran’s taking the same road on which Deng Xiaoping set out some four decades ago.
After Mao’s death, Deng found China with a backward economy in a booming world led by Reagan’s America and a Japan on the march.
To save Communism, Deng decided to embrace state capitalism.
And as there is nothing new under the sun, Deng had a model.
In 1921, in the wake of Russia’s crushing defeat in the Great War and bloodletting in the Civil War between “Reds” and “Whites,” Lenin saw his regime imperiled by a rising revolution against the Bolsheviks.
He dumped “war Communism” for a New Economic Policy, opened Russia to Western investors, while assuring the comrades that the capitalists “will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.”
Similarly, Iran’s regime seems to have concluded that the path to power and permanence of the regime lies not in conflict with the United States, but in avoiding conflict—and taking the China road.
President Hassan Rouhani, who also sees Iran’s future as best assured by resolving the nuclear issue and reengaging with the West, described his triumph to the Iranian parliament:
“All are happy except Zionists, warmongers, sowers of discord among Islamic nations and extremists in the U.S. The rest are happy.”
If this deal is truly in the interests of the United States and Iran, whose interests would be served by scuttling it? Who seeks to do so?
And why would they want a return to confrontation and perhaps war?
To awaken Thursday to front-page photos of U.S. sailors kneeling on the deck of their patrol boat, hands on their heads in postures of surrender, on Iran’s Farsi Island, brought back old and bad memories.
In January 1968, LBJ’s last year, 82 sailors of the Pueblo were captured by North Korea and held hostage with Captain Lloyd “Pete” Bucher, and abused and tortured for a year before release.
In the final 444 days of the Carter presidency, 52 Americans were held hostage in Tehran, and released only when Ronald Reagan raised his hand to take the oath.
In 2001, under George W. Bush, an EP-3 with 24 crew members was crashed by a Chinese fighter and forced to land on Hainan Island, where they were held for 11 days until we expressed “sorrow.”
Compared to these hostage-takings, the Farsi Island incident does not seem serious. Its resolution within hours by Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif suggests that Iran wants nothing to halt implementation, just days away, of the nuclear deal that will release $100 billion in frozen assets.
Facilitating the sailors’ release was a taped admission by one, identified as the “commander,” who called Iran’s treatment of the sailors “fantastic,” and said the intrusion into Iranian waters “was a mistake. That was our fault. And we apologize for our mistake.”
Still, what the reactions to this incident reveal is that not only is the United States dealing with a divided regime and nation in Iran, the U.S. is itself divided on what course to pursue with Iran.
“This administration’s craven desire to preserve the dangerous Iranian nuclear deal at all costs evidently knows no limits,” said John McCain. He castigated U.S. officials, presumably including Kerry, for “falling all over themselves to offer praise for Iran’s graciousness in detaining our ships and service members.
Marco Rubio, inflamed over the treatment of the sailors, pledged anew to kill the nuclear deal on his first day in office. But by then Iran will have complied with its terms and gotten its cash.
Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy Commander Ali Fadavi warned that “the USS Truman aircraft carrier showed unprofessional moves for 40 minutes after the detention of the trespassers.”
Fadavi added that Iran “was highly prepared with our coast-to-sea missiles” and “missile launching speedboats” to strike, had the U.S. warship taken action. Last fall, Iran tested two ballistic missiles in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, and a missile boat a mile from the Truman test-fired a rocket in the opposite direction.
There may be bluster and bluff in this. But if the RGC had fired at the Truman, that would have brought swift retaliation and a possible air, naval and missile war in the Persian Gulf.
Any prospective U.S. detente with Iran would be dead.
And, truth be told, some Americans, Saudis, Sunni Arabs and Israelis, who regard Iran as an existential threat, would relish seeing U.S. power unleashed against Iran.
So, too, many of the mullahs and Revolutionary Guard Corps might welcome a clash to abort the nuclear deal, restore the purity of their revolution, and rout the allies of President Hassan Rouhani in the February elections.
Indeed, assuming no clash in the next six weeks, the date to watch is Feb. 26, when elections are held for control of Iran’s 290-seat assembly.
A Guardian Council has power to disqualify candidates and it is likely that of the 12,000 who have filed, many will be purged for not supporting the principles of the Islamic Republic as required.
Yet, if President Rouhani, his prestige enhanced by the nuclear deal, to which all five U.N. Security Council members have signed on, and with billions being released to Iran, wins, a brighter day will begin.
And the world will await the reaction of the defeated hard-liners.
That same Feb. 26, elections are to be held for the 88-seat clerical Experts Assembly, which will choose the successor to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, himself the successor, 25 years ago, to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founding father of the revolution.
Rumors of Khamenei’s deteriorating health—he reportedly has suffered from stage 4 prostate cancer—could mean the Experts Assembly will be naming soon a new Supreme Leader of Iran.
The Feb. 26 elections could thus decide whether there is to be a cold peace between the United States and Iran, or a new war in the Middle East.
In the summer of 1914, the Great War came because, in the great capitals—Berlin, Vienna, Moscow, Paris, London—those who saw war as a disaster for civilization were outmaneuvered by more resolute men who saw war as the opportunity to smash hated rivals once and for all.
Antiwar Americans and Iranians won this one; they will have to win them all. The war parties, here and over there, need win only once.
Three weeks out from the Iowa caucuses, and clarity emerges.
Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, is in trouble.
Polls show her slightly ahead of socialist Bernie Sanders in Iowa, but narrowly behind in New Hampshire. And the weekend brought new revelations about yet more classified and secret documents sent over her private email server when she was secretary of state.
Between now and November, she will be traversing a minefield, with detonations to be decided upon by FBI investigators who may not cherish Clinton and might like to appear in the history books.
Clinton’s charge about Donald Trump’s alleged “penchant for sexism” brought a counterstrike – her being the “enabler” of Bill Clinton’s long career as a sexual predator – that rendered her mute.
But with Hillary Clinton having raised the subject, it is almost certain to be reintroduced in the fall, if she is the nominee.
Then there is the newly recognized reality that Clinton, who ran a terrific comeback race against Barack Obama in 2008, is not the candidate she was. Nor is Bill the imposing surrogate he once was.
Both are eight years older, and show it. “Low energy” nails it.
Lastly, Hillary Clinton now has a record to defend as secretary of state, a four-year term in which it is hard to see, looking back, a success.
Moreover, a defeat by Sanders in Iowa or New Hampshire could prove unraveling, with the press herd tapping out early obits.
New Hampshire has consequences.
A Granite State defeat by Sen. Estes Kefauver ended Harry Truman’s bid for re-election in 1952. Lyndon Johnson’s narrow write-in victory over Sen. Eugene McCarthy, 49-42, brought Bobby Kennedy into the race – and LBJ’s withdrawal two weeks later.
George H. W. Bush’s unimpressive New Hampshire win in 1992 brought Ross Perot in as a third-party candidate two days later, and Bob Dole’s loss in 1996 portended defeat in the general election.
But if a cloud is forming over the Clinton campaign, the sun continues to shine on The Donald.
Last July, in a column, “Could Trump Win?” this writer argued that if Trump held his then 20 percent share, he would make the final four and almost surely be in the finals in the GOP nomination race.
Now, in every national and state poll save Iowa, Trump runs first with more than 30 percent, sometimes touching 40. And, save in New Hampshire, Sen. Ted Cruz runs second to Trump.
What does the surge for socialist Sanders and the Republican base’s backing of the outsiders Trump and Cruz and collective recoil from the Republican establishment candidates tell us?
“The times they are a changing,” sang Bob Dylan in 1964.
Dylan was right about the social, cultural and moral revolution that would hit with Category 5 force when the boomers arrived on campuses that same year.
A concomitant conservative revolution would dethrone the GOP establishment of Govs. Nelson Rockefeller, George Romney and William Scranton in 1964, and nominate Barry Goldwater.
Something like that is afoot again. Only, this time, the GOP has a far better shot of capturing the White House than in 1964 or, indeed, than it appeared to have at this point in 1980, The Year of Reagan.
In June 1964, Goldwater, about to be nominated, was 59 points behind LBJ, 77-18, in the Gallup Poll. On Sept. 1, he was still 36 points behind, 65-29. In mid-October, Barry was still 36 points behind, when some of us concluded that Mr. Conservative just might not make it.
Yet, in January and February of 1980, Ronald Reagan, during the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire Primary, never got closer than 25 points behind President Jimmy Carter, who led Reagan, on March 1, 58-33. Yet, that November, 1980, Reagan won a 44-state landslide.
Today, according to a new Fox Poll, Trump would beat Clinton by 3 points in the general election, if held now. Another poll shows Trump pulling 20 percent of the Democratic vote.
What this suggests is that nominating Trump is by no means a guarantee of GOP defeat. But beyond politics, what do the successes of Sanders, Trump and Cruz portend?
Well, Sanders and Trump both opposed the war in Iraq that the Bush Republicans and Clinton Democrats supported.
Both Sanders and Trump oppose NAFTA and MFN for China and the free-trade deals that Clinton Democrats and Bush Republicans backed, which have cost us thousands of lost factories, millions of lost jobs and four decades of lost wage increases for Middle America.
Trump has taken the toughest line on the invasion across the U.S.-Mexican border and against Muslim refugees entering unvetted.
Immigration, securing the border, fair trade – Trump’s issues are the issues of 2016.
If a Trump-Clinton race came down to the Keystone State of Pennsylvania, and Trump was for backing our men in blue, gun rights, securing America’s borders, no more NAFTAs and a foreign policy that defends America first, who would you bet on?
For Xi Jinping, it has been a rough week.
Panicked flight from China’s currency twice caused a plunge of 7 percent in her stock market, forcing a suspension of trading.
Kim Jong Un, the megalomaniac who runs North Korea, ignored Xi’s warning and set off a fourth nuclear bomb. While probably not a hydrogen bomb as claimed, it was the largest blast ever in Korea.
And if Pyongyang continues building and testing nuclear bombs, Beijing is going to wake up one day and find that its neighbors, South Korea and Japan, have also acquired nuclear weapons as deterrents to North Korea.
And should Japan and South Korea do so, Taiwan, Vietnam and Manila, all bullied by Beijing, may also be in the market for nukes.
Hence, if Beijing refuses to cooperate to de-nuclearize North Korea, she could find herself, a decade hence, surrounded by nuclear-weapons states, from Russia to India and from Pakistan to Japan.
Still, this testing of a bomb by North Korea, coupled with the bellicosity of Kim Jong Un, should cause us to take a hard look at our own war guarantees to Asia that date back to John Foster Dulles.
At the end of the Korean War in July 1953, South Korea was devastated, unable to defend herself without the U.S. Navy and Air Force and scores of thousands of U.S. troops.
So, America negotiated a mutual security treaty.
But today, South Korea has 50 million people, twice that of the North; the world’s 13th largest economy, 40 times the size of North Korea’s; and access to the most modern U.S. weapons.
In 2015, Seoul ran a trade surplus of almost $30 billion with the United States, a sum almost equal to North Korea’s entire GDP.
Why, then, are 25,000 U.S. troops still in South Korea?
Why are they in the DMZ, ensuring that Americans are among the first to die in any Second Korean War?
Given the proximity of the huge North Korean Army, with its thousands of missiles and artillery pieces, only 35 miles from Seoul, any invasion would have to be met almost immediately with U.S.-fired atomic weapons.
But with North Korea possessing a nuclear arsenal estimated at eight to 12 weapons and growing, a question arises: Why should the U.S. engage in a nuclear exchange with North Korea, over South Korea?
Why should a treaty that dates back 60 years commit us, in perpetuity, to back South Korea in a war from the first shot with Pyongyang, when that war could swiftly escalate to nuclear?
How does this comport with U.S. national interests?
Is this not true today of America’s Asian alliances? In 1877, Lord Salisbury, commenting on Great Britain’s stance on the Eastern Question, noted that “the commonest error in politics is sticking to the carcass of dead policies.”
North Korea’s tests of atomic weapons and development of land-based and submarine-launched missiles should cause us to reconsider strategic commitments that date back to the 1950s.
President Nixon, ahead of his time, understood this.
As he began the drawdown of U.S. forces in Vietnam in 1969, he declared in Guam that while America would meet her treaty obligations, henceforth, Asian nations should provide the ground troops to defend themselves. Gen. MacArthur had told President Kennedy, before Vietnam, not to put U.S. foot soldiers onto the Asian mainland.
Now that we have entered a post-post-Cold War era, where many Asian nations possess the actual or potential military power to defend themselves, something like a new Nixon Doctrine is worth considering.
Take all of the major territorial quarrels between China and its neighbors—the dispute with India over Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, the dispute with Japan over the Senkaku Islands, with Vietnam over the Paracels, with the Philippines over the Spratlys.
In none of these quarrels and conflicts does there seem to be any vital U.S. national interest so imperiled that we should risk a clash with a nuclear power like Beijing.
Once, there was a time when Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and Tojo ruled almost all of Eurasia. And another time when a monolithic Sino-Soviet Communist bloc ruled from the Elbe to the Pacific.
As those times are long gone, is it not time for an exhaustive review of the alliances we have entered into and the war guarantees we have issued, to fight for nations and interests other than our own?
Under NATO, we are committed to go to war against a nuclear-armed Russia on behalf of 27 nations, including tiny Estonia.
One understood the necessity to defend West Germany and keep the Red Army on the other side of the Elbe, but when did Estonia’s independence become so critical to U.S. security that we would fight a nuclear-armed Russia rather than lose it?
Indeed, how many of the dozens of U.S. war guarantees we have outstanding would we honor by going to war if they were called?
The New Year’s execution by Saudi Arabia of the Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr was a deliberate provocation.
Its first purpose: Signal the new ruthlessness and resolve of the Saudi monarchy where the power behind the throne is the octogenarian King Salman’s son, the 30-year-old Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman. Second, crystallize, widen, and deepen a national-religious divide between Sunni and Shiite, Arab and Persian, Riyadh and Tehran. Third, rupture the rapprochement between Iran and the United States and abort the Iranian nuclear deal.
The provocation succeeded in its near-term goal. An Iranian mob gutted and burned the Saudi embassy, causing diplomats to flee, and Riyadh to sever diplomatic ties. From Baghdad to Bahrain, Shiites protested the execution of a cleric who, while a severe critic of Saudi despotism and a champion of Shiite rights, was not convicted of inciting revolution or terror.
In America, the reaction has been divided.
The Wall Street Journal rushed, sword in hand, to the side of the Saudi royals: “The U.S. should make clear to Iran and Russia that it will defend the Kingdom from Iranian attempts to destabilize or invade.” The Washington Post was disgusted. In an editorial, “A Reckless Regime,” it called the execution risky, ruthless and unjustified.
Yet there is a lesson here.
Like every regime in the Middle East, the Saudis look out for their own national interests first. And their goals here are to first force us to choose between them and Iran, and then to conscript U.S. power on their side in the coming wars of the Middle East.
Thus the Saudis went AWOL from the battle against ISIS and al-Qaida in Iraq and Syria. Yet they persuaded us to help them crush the Houthi rebels in Yemen, though the Houthis never attacked us and would have exterminated al-Qaeda. Now that a Saudi coalition has driven the Houthis back toward their northern basecamp, ISIS and al-Qaeda have moved into some of the vacated terrain. What kind of victory is that—for us?
In the economic realm, also, the Saudis are doing us no favors. While Riyadh is keeping up oil production and steadily bringing down the world price on which Iranian and Russian prosperity hangs, the Saudis are also crippling the U.S. fracking industry they fear.
The Turks, too, look out for number one. The Turkish shoot-down of that Russian fighter-bomber, which may have intruded into its airspace for 17 seconds, was both a case in point and a dangerous and provocative act.
Had Vladimir Putin chosen to respond militarily against Turkey, a NATO ally, his justified retaliation could have produced demands from Ankara for the United States to come to its defense against Russia. A military clash with our former Cold War adversary, which half a dozen U.S. presidents skillfully avoided, might well have been at hand.
These incidents raise some long-dormant but overdue questions. What exactly is our vital interest in a permanent military alliance that obligates us to go to war on behalf of an autocratic ally as erratic and rash as Turkey’s Tayyip Recep Erdogan?
Do U.S.-Turkish interests really coincide today? While Turkey’s half-million-man army could easily seal the Syrian border and keep ISIS fighters from entering or leaving, it has failed to do so. Instead, Turkey is using its army to crush the Kurdish PKK and threaten the Syrian Kurds who are helping us battle ISIS.
In Syria’s civil war—with the army of Bashar Assad battling ISIS and al-Qaeda—it is Russia and Iran and even Hezbollah that seem to be more allies of the moment than the Turks, Saudis, or Gulf Arabs. “We have no permanent allies … no permanent enemies … only permanent interests” is a loose translation of the dictum of the 19th century British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston.
Turkey’s shoot-down of a Russian jet and the Saudi execution of a revered Shiite cleric, who threatened no one in prison, should cause the United States to undertake a cost-benefit analysis of the alliances and war guarantees we have outstanding, many of them dating back half a century.
Do all, do any, still serve U.S. vital national interests?
In the Middle East, where the crucial Western interest is oil, and every nation—Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Libya—has to sell it to survive—no nation should be able drag us into a war not of our own choosing.
In cases where we share a common enemy, we should follow the wise counsel of the Founding Fathers and entrust our security, if need be, to “temporary,” but not “permanent” or “entangling alliances.”
Moreover, given the myriad religious, national and tribal divisions between the nations of the Middle East, and within many of them, we should continue in the footsteps of our fathers, who kept us out of such wars when they bedeviled the European continent of the 19th century.
This hubristic Saudi blunder should be a wake-up call for us all.
Each year, “The McLaughlin Group,” the longest-running panel show on national TV, which began in 1982, announces its awards for the winners and losers and the best and the worst of the year. Rereading my list of 39 awardees suggests something about how our world is changing.
As “Person of the Year” and “Biggest Winner,” the choice was easy, Donald Trump. American Pharoah, Triple Crown winner of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes, was my runner-up.
But three selections tell another side of the story of Trump’s triumph. My “Biggest Loser” was the Republican establishment. As “Most Overrated,” I chose Republican governors as presidential candidates. As “Worst Politician,” I chose Jeb Bush, son and brother of presidents, who began as the GOP front-runner with $100 million in the bank and is now hovering around 3 percent.
What happened to the GOP establishment? What has happened to the Republican elite? Why are they being treated with contempt?
In the run up to 2015, the GOP field was dominated by governors and ex-governors: Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Rick Perry, Chris Christie, John Kasich. It was called “the strongest field since 1980,” when Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bob Dole competed. And governors, with executive rather than legislative experience, were said to be the ideal choice for chief executive.
Yet, before year’s end, Walker, Perry, and George Pataki were gone and support for Bush, Kasich, and Christie together did not come close to that of Trump. Trump’s main rival was Ted Cruz, the scourge of the Republican establishment in the Senate. Why have Republicans and conservatives rallied to candidates who relish bashing the elites of their own party?
Establishment Republicans have lost what the Chinese used to call the mandate of heaven. Despite their blather, they never secured the border in 25 years. They talk populism at election time but haul water in Washington for corporate America by signing on to trade treaties, like NAFTA, GATT and TPP, that workers detest and that send U.S. jobs overseas and cause U.S. wages to sink.
And they have plunged us into unnecessary wars they knew not how to end or win. The Bush era in the Republican Party is over.
Americans could be at a watershed moment when Sen. Lindsey Graham, an articulate voice for deeper intervention in the Middle East, is forced to drop out with less than 1 percent in the polls.
A second issue that dominated the McLaughlin Group awards was, regrettably, the deepening racial divide. “The Enough Already Award” I conferred on Black Lives Matter, a movement marked by confrontations, the invasion of stores, hassling of citizens, and blocking of streets to protest what BLM claims is rogue police misconduct against black people.
My “Worst Lie” was “Hands up, Don’t Shoot!” That was said to be the plea for his life by Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Only it never happened. It was a lie, a concocted slander against Officer Darren Wilson who shot Brown only after a fight over Wilson’s gun and Brown had charged the cop when told to halt.
My choice for “Most Underreported Story” was “The Ferguson Effect.” This was most prominent in Baltimore, where cops, to avoid charges of racial harassment, stopped doing the preventive police work that produced a near-miraculous reduction in murders and violent crimes since the 1990s.
The “Most Underrated” for me was the revelation that, under Obama, guns sales have doubled to 18 million a year. For 2015, one estimate is 20 million guns sold, and 185,000 on Black Friday alone. There are more guns now in the USA than there are people.
My choice for “Best Government Dollar Spent” was for first responders, especially the cops who risk their lives.
Taken together, these stories underscore the “Black vs. Blue” conflict in America, where some black folks believe the lives of their young are less valued, while other Americans look on cops as the first line of defense for their families in increasingly dangerous times.
The racial divide we thought had closed has returned to re-poison our politics. And with the crime rate not only higher in the African-American community, but rising, there are inevitably going to be more and more black vs. blue collisions on which Americans take sides.
My choice for “Most Defining Political Moment”—the Paris and San Bernardino massacres—and “Worst Political Theater”—the ISIS beheadings and executions—may also point to what is coming.
From Virginia Tech to Tucson, from Ford Hood to Sandy Hook, from Columbine to Aurora, and from the Washington Navy Yard to Charleston, we have seen the enormous coverage garnered by the premeditated atrocities of our homegrown mass murderers.
Others seeking that same publicity will almost surely follow their example. So, too, the international attention that Charlie Hebdo and San Bernardino reaped will likely prove to be irresistible magnets to new ISIS and al-Qaeda suicide bombers and killers.
But, as ever, we shall persevere. Happy New Year!
On Jan. 1, 2002, the day that euro coins and banknotes entered into circulation, my column, “Say Goodbye to the Mother Continent,” contained this pessimistic prognosis:
This European superstate will not endure, but break apart on the barrier reef of nationalism. For when the hard times come, patriots will recapture control of their national destinies from Brussels bureaucrats to whom no one will ever give loyalty or love.
The column described what was already happening.
Europe is dying. There is not a single nation in all of Europe with a birth rate sufficient to keep its population alive, except Muslim Albania. In 17 European nations, there are already more burials than births, more coffins than cradles.
Between 2000 and 2050, Asia, Africa and Latin America will add 3 billion to 4 billion people — 30 to 40 new Mexicos! — as Europe loses the equal of the entire population of Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Germany.
By 2050, the median age in Europe will be 50, nine years older than the oldest nation on earth today, Japan. One in 10 Europeans will be over 80. And who will take care of these scores of millions of elderly, before the Dutch doctors arrive at the nursing home?
Immigrants is the answer, immigrants already pouring into Europe in the hundreds of thousands annually from the Middle East and Africa, changing the character of the Old Continent. Just as Europe once invaded and colonized Asia, Africa and the Near East, the once-subject peoples are coming to colonize the mother countries. And as the Christian churches of Europe empty out, the mosques are going up.
Yet, even as great nations like France, Germany, Italy and Spain grow weary of the strain of staying independent, sovereign and free, the sub-nations within are struggling to be born again. In Scotland, Wales, Ulster, Corsica, the Basque country and northern Italy are secessionist movements not unlike those that broke up Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union into  independent nations.
What was predicted, 14 years ago, has come to pass.
Migrants into Germany from the Middle and Near East reached 1 million in 2015. EU bribes to the Turks to keep Muslim migrants from crossing over to the Greek islands, thence into the Balkans and Central Europe, are unlikely to stop the flood.
My prediction that European “patriots will recapture control of their national destinies,” looks even more probable today.
Prime Minister David Cameron, who almost lost a referendum on Scottish secession, is demanding a return of British sovereignty from the EU sufficient to satisfy his countrymen, who have been promised a vote on whether to abandon the European Union altogether.
Marine Le Pen’s anti-EU National Front ran first in the first round of the 2015 French elections. Many Europeans believe she will make it into the final round of the next presidential election in 2017. Anti-immigrant, right-wing parties are making strides all across Europe, as the EU is bedeviled by a host of crises.
Europe’s open borders that facilitate free trade also assure freedom of travel to homegrown terrorists. Mass migration into the EU is causing member nations to put up checkpoints and close borders. The Schengen Agreement on the free movement of goods and people is being ignored or openly violated.
The economic and cultural clash between a rich northern Europe and a less affluent south—Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal—manifest in the bad blood between Athens and Berlin, endures. Northern Europeans grow weary of repeated bailouts of a south that chafes at constant northern demands for greater austerity.
Then there is the surge of sub-nationalism, as in Scotland, Catalonia, Flanders, and Veneto, where peoples seek to disconnect from distant capitals that no longer speak for them, and reconnect with languages, traditions and cultures that give more meaning to their lives than the economics-uber-alles ideology of Frau Angela Merkel.
Moreover, the migrants entering Europe, predominantly Islamic and Third World, are not assimilating as did the European and largely Christian immigrants to America of a century ago. The enclaves of Asians in Britain, Africans and Arabs around Paris, and Turks in and around Berlin seem to be British, French, and German in name only. And some of their children are now heeding the call to jihad against the Crusaders invading Muslim lands.
The movement toward deeper European integration appears to have halted, and gone into reverse, as the EU seems to be unraveling along ideological, national, tribal and historic lines. If these trends continue, and they seem to have accelerated in 2015, the idea of a United States of Europe dies, and with it the EU.
And this raises a question about the most successful economic and political union in history—the USA. How does an increasingly multiracial, multiethnic, multilingual, multicultural United States avoid the fate to which Europe appears to be headed, when there is no identifiable racial or ethnic majority here in 2042?
Are our own political and racial divisions disappearing, or do they, too, seem to be deepening?
“I worry greatly that the rhetoric coming from the Republicans, particularly Donald Trump, is sending a message to Muslims here … and … around the world, that there is a ‘clash of civilizations.'”
So said Hillary Clinton in Saturday night’s New Hampshire debate.
Yet, that phrase was not popularized by Donald Trump, but by Harvard’s famed Samuel Huntington. His “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order” has been described by Zbigniew Brzezinski as providing “quintessential insights necessary for a broad understanding of world affairs in our time.”
That Clinton is unaware of the thesis, or dismisses it, does not speak well of the depth of her understanding of our world.
Another attack on Trump, more veiled, came Monday in an “open letter” in the Washington Post where four dozen religious leaders, led by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, charge “some politicians, candidates and commentators” with failing to follow Thomas Jefferson’s dictum:
“I never will, by any word or act … admit a right of inquiry into the religious opinions of others.”
Intending no disrespect to Jefferson, if you do not inquire “into the religious opinions of others” in this world, it can get you killed.
“We love our Muslim siblings in humanity,” said the signers of Cardinal McCarrick’s letter, “they serve our communities as doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, journalists, first responders, and as members of the U.S. Armed forces and Congress.”
Undeniably true. But, unfortunately, that is not the end of the matter.
Did the worst attack on the United States since Pearl Harbor, 9/11, have nothing to do with the Islamic faith?
Did Fort Hood and the San Bernardino massacres, the London subway bombings and the killings at Charlie Hebdo, as well as the slaughter at the Bataclan in Paris, have nothing to do with Islam?
Does the lengthening list of atrocities by terrorist cells of ISIS, Boko Haram, al-Qaida, al-Shabaab and the Nusra Front have nothing to do with Islam? Is it really illiberal to inquire “into the religious opinions” of those who perpetrate these atrocities? Or is it suicidal not to?
There has arisen a legitimate question as to whether Islamism can coexist peacefully with, or within, a post-Christian secular West.
For, as the Poet of the Empire, Rudyard Kipling, wrote: “Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet, Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat.”
As of 1960, the Great Wave of immigration into the United States from Southern and Eastern Europe had been halted for 35 years.
And the children of these millions had been largely assimilated and Americanized.
Yet, 50 years after the Turkish gastarbeiters were brought in the millions into Germany, and Algerians and other North Africans were brought into France, no such wholesale assimilation had taken place.
Why not? Why are there still large, indigestible communities in France where French citizens do not venture and French police are ever on alert?
What inhibits the assimilation that swiftly followed the entry of millions of Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Jews into the United States from 1890 to 1920? Might it have something to do with Islam and its inherent resistance to a diversity of faiths?
Set aside faith-based terrorism and Islamist terrorism, and consider the nations and regimes of the Middle and Near East.
Iran holds presidential elections every four years, but is a Shiite theocracy where the Ayatollah is a virtual dictator. Saudi Arabia is a Sunni kingdom and home to Wahhabism, a Sunni form of puritanism.
Those ruling regimes are rooted in Islam.
And while secular America embraces expressions of religious pluralism and sexual freedom, homosexuality and apostasy are often viewed as capital crimes in Afghanistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Where Islam is the ruling faith, the Quran is secular law.
Catholic historian Hilaire Belloc saw our future on its way, even before World War II: “[I]n the contrast between our religious chaos and the religious certitude still strong throughout the Mohammedan world … lies our peril.”
Historically, Christianity came to dominate the Roman Empire through preaching, teaching, example and martyrdom. Islam used the sword to conquer the Middle and Near East, North Africa and Spain in a single century, until stopped at Poitiers by Charles Martel.
And this is today’s crucial distinction: Islam is not simply a religion of 1.6 billion people, it is also a political ideology for ruling nations and, one day, the world.
To the True Believer, Islam is ultimately to be imposed on all of mankind, which is to be ruled by the prescriptions of the Quran. And where Muslims achieve a majority, Christianity is, at best, tolerated.
Nor is this position illogical. For, if there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet, all other religions are false and none can lead to salvation. Why should false, heretical and ruinous faiths not be suppressed?
Behind the reluctance of Trump and other Americans to send another U.S. army into a region that has seen wars in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan leave us with ashes in our mouths, lies a wisdom born of painful experience.
“If you’re in favor of World War III, you have your candidate.”
So said Rand Paul, looking directly at Gov. Chris Christie, who had just responded to a question from CNN’s Wolf Blitzer as to whether he would shoot down a Russian plane that violated his no-fly zone in Syria.
“Not only would I be prepared to do it, I would do it,” blurted Christie: “I would talk to Vladimir Putin … I’d say to him, ‘Listen, Mr. President, there’s a no-fly zone in Syria; you fly in, it applies to you.’
“Yes, we would shoot down the planes of Russian pilots if in fact they were stupid enough to think that this president was the same feckless weakling … we have in the Oval Office … right now.”
Ex-Gov. George Pataki and ex-Sen. Rick Santorum would also impose a no-fly zone and shoot down Russian planes that violated it. Said Gov. John Kasich, “It’s time we punched the Russians in the nose.”
Carly Fiorina would impose a no-fly zone and not even talk to Putin until we’ve conducted “military exercises in the Baltic States” on Russia’s border. Jeb Bush, too, would impose a no-fly zone.
These warhawks apparently assume that President Putin is a coward who, if you shoot down his warplanes, will back away from a fight. Are we sure? After the Turks shot down that Sukhoi SU-24, Moscow sent fighter planes to Syria to escort its bombers and has reportedly deployed its lethal S-300 antiaircraft system there.
A U.S. Marine Corps aviator describes the S-300: “A complete game changer for all fourth-gen aircraft [like the F-15, F-16 and F/A-18]. That thing is a beast and you don’t want to get near it.” There are press reports that an angry Putin has ordered the even more advanced S-400 system moved into Syria.
Is Putin bluffing? Are we prepared to ride the up-escalator, at the top of which is nuclear war, if Putin, who has been boasting of his modernized nuclear forces, is also willing to ride it rather than back down?
Uber-hawk Lindsey Graham wants to send tens of thousands of American troops to fight ISIS, and refuses to work with Iran, Russia, or Syria’s Bashar Assad to crush our common enemy ISIS. Graham prefers “allies,” like the Saudis and Gulf Arabs.
But both have bailed out of the air war on ISIS, and sent troops and bombers instead to attack the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Result: The Houthis have been in retreat and al-Qaida and ISIS are moving into the vacated territory. Another Mideast base camp for terrorists is being created—by us.
“I miss George W. Bush!” wailed Graham in the undercard debate. How many other Americans are, like Graham, pining for the return of a Bush foreign policy that gave us Barack Obama?
Yet, now, a rival school is taking center stage in the Republican presidential campaign, rejecting the knee-jerk hostility to working with Putin. Not only does Rand Paul belong to this school, so, apparently, do Donald Trump and his strongest challenger, Sen. Ted Cruz.
Cruz had previously disparaged the legacy of the “neocons” who prodded Bush into war in Iraq and championed a democracy crusade in the Middle East. In Las Vegas, he spoke of a new national-interest-based foreign policy, a policy that puts “America First.”
If we topple Assad … ISIS will take over Syria, and it will worsen national security interests. And the approach — instead of being … a democracy promoter, we ought to hunt down our enemies and kill ISIS rather than creating opportunities for ISIS to control new countries.
Cruz rejects the Manichaean worldview of the neocons and their reflexive hostility to Russia, and appears willing to work with a Russian autocrat to crush a monstrous evil like ISIS, as U.S. presidents did in working with anti-Communist dictators to win the Cold War.
Midway through the debate, Trump cut loose with a sweeping indictment of mindless American interventionism in the Middle East:
We’ve spent $4 trillion trying to topple various people that, frankly, if they were there and if we could have spent that $4 trillion in the United States to fix our roads, our bridges, and all of the other problems — our airports and all the other problems we have — we would have been a lot better off. …
We have done a tremendous disservice not only to the Middle East — we’ve done a tremendous disservice to humanity. The people that have been killed, the people that have been wiped away — and for what? It’s not like we had victory. It’s a mess. The Middle East is totally destabilized, a total and complete mess. I wish we had the 4 trillion dollars or 5 trillion dollars. I wish it were spent right here in the United States on schools, hospitals, roads, airports, and everything else that are all falling apart!
If we do not want Syria in 2016 to become what Sarajevo became in 1914, the powder keg that explodes into a world war, the War Party Republicans, who have learned nothing from the past, should be relegated to the past.
“Buchanan, if you ever hear of a group getting together to stop X, be sure to put your money on X.” So, Richard Nixon told me half a century ago, after he had been badly burned in just such a futile and failed enterprise.
It was the Cleveland Governors Conference of 1964. Sen. Barry Goldwater had just defeated Gov. Nelson Rockefeller in the final and decisive winner-take-all primary in California. As the story is told, Stu Spencer, Rocky’s man in California, had come to his candidate and said, “Governor, I think it’s time to call in the Eastern establishment.”
To which Rocky replied, “You’re looking at it, buddy. I’m all that’s left!”
Rocky was cooked. But then the panicked Republican governors gathered in Cleveland—Rockefeller, George Romney of Michigan, William Scranton of Pennsylvania—to plot a path to deny Goldwater the nomination he and his conservative insurgents had won.
Nixon was invited, and, according to Romney, privately urged him to get into the race. Nixon denied it. The governors, and Goldwater himself, suspected Nixon was pushing Romney onto the tracks to derail his bandwagon. And, presumably, after Romney had been run over, the convention, to heal the bleeding wound, would turn to a centrist compromise candidate—Nixon.
“Nixon is sounding more and more like Harold Stassen every day,” said Goldwater. Nixon pivoted swiftly to repair the damage, offered to introduce Goldwater to the convention, did so in a brilliant speech, then campaigned harder for Mr. Conservative than did Barry himself.
And while Nixon enlisted in Goldwater’s campaign, Rockefeller, Romney and Scranton, arrogantly refusing to accept defeat graciously, crippled any chance Goldwater might have had by demanding that the platform condemn the John Birch Society as equally extreme as the Communist Party and Ku Klux Klan.
The party said no. And the establishment cut Barry dead in the fall. Thus did the GOP establishment earn the eternal enmity of the right. And thus did Richard Nixon emerge in 1968 as the first choice of Barry Goldwater and the centrist Republican most acceptable to the conservative movement. The rest, as they say, is history.
Which brings us to that dinner last week at The Source on Capitol Hill where Republican Party elites discussed how Donald Trump, even if he wins the lion’s share of votes and delegates, might be denied the nomination in a “brokered convention.”
The absurdity of such a conspiracy would be matched only by its stupidity. Has the GOP establishment learned nothing from history? Deadlocked conventions—like the 1924 Democratic convention, which went on for 104 ballots—virtually ended with the elimination, by FDR’s party in 1936, of the two-thirds rule for nomination.
That rule kept ex-President Martin Van Buren, who could not muster 67 percent of the delegates, from capturing the nomination in 1844. After eight deadlocked ballots in a three-way contest, that Baltimore convention turned to a “dark horse,” Speaker James K. Polk, who promised immediate annexation of Texas by the United States and that he would take us to war with Mexico to guarantee it.
With the two-thirds rule dead, the only way to have a convention without a nominee on the first ballot is a three- or four-way split in delegates.
But assume at the GOP convention in Cleveland that Trump runs first, Ted Cruz second, Marco Rubio third and Ben Carson fourth. Rather than wait for Karl Rove & Co. to tell us whom the party shall nominate, Trump would phone Cruz, offer him second spot on the ticket in return for his delegates, and if Cruz declined, ask for Rubio’s phone number.
Candidates who have gone through a yearlong campaign, and sustained the defeats and suffered the abuse, are not going to let a Beltway cabal decide the nominee. Carson has already warned he will walk away from the party if such a decision were imposed upon the convention.
Moreover, the old establishments are dead. Conservatives killed the GOP establishment in 1964. The Vietnam War and George McGovern killed the Democratic establishment in 1972. What is left are elites, collectives of officeholders past and present, donors, lobbyists, think-tankers angling for jobs, party hacks, and talking heads.
What the Republican collectivity has to realize is that it is they and the policies they produced that are the reason Trump, Carson, and Cruz currently hold an overwhelming majority of Republican votes.
It was the elites of both parties who failed to secure our borders and brokered the trade deals that have de-industrialized America and eviscerated our middle class. It was the elites of both parties who got us into these idiotic wars that have blown up the Middle East, cost us trillions of dollars, thousands of dead, and tens of thousands of wounded among our best and bravest.
That Republican elites would sit around a dinner table on Capitol Hill and discuss how to frustrate the rising rebellion against what they have done to America, and decide among themselves who shall lead us, is astonishing. To borrow from the Gipper, they are not the solution to our problems. They are the problem.
In the feudal era there were the “three estates”—the clergy, the nobility, and the commons. The first and second were eradicated in Robespierre’s Revolution. But in the 18th and 19th century, Edmund Burke and Thomas Carlyle identified what the latter called a “stupendous Fourth Estate.”
Calling for a moratorium on Muslim immigration “until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on,” Donald Trump this week ignited a firestorm of historic proportions.
As all the old hate words—xenophobe, racist, bigot—have lost their electric charge from overuse, and Trump was being called a fascist demagogue and compared to Hitler and Mussolini. The establishment seemed to have become unhinged.
Why the hysteria? Comes the reply: Trump’s call for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration tramples all over “American values” and everything we stand for, including the Constitution.
But is this really true? The Constitution protects freedom of religion for U.S. citizens. But citizens of foreign lands have no constitutional right to migrate. And federal law gives a president broad powers in deciding who comes and who does not, especially in wartime.
In 1924, Congress restricted immigration from Asia, reduced the numbers coming from southern and Central Europe, and produced a 40-year moratorium on most immigration into the United States. Its authors and President Coolidge wanted ours to remain a nation whose primary religious and ethnic ties were to Europe, not Africa or Asia. Under FDR, Truman, and JFK, this was the law of the land. Did this represent 40 years of fascism?
Why might Trump want a moratorium on Muslim immigration?
Reason one: terrorism. The 9/11 terrorists were Muslim, as were the shoe and underwear bombers on those planes, the Fort Hood shooter, the Times Square bomber, and the San Bernardino killers.
And as San Bernardino showed again, Islamist terrorists are exploiting our liberal immigration policies to come here and kill us. Thus, a pause, a timeout on immigration from Muslim countries, until we fix the problem, would seem to be simple common sense.
Second, Muslims are clearly more susceptible to the siren call of terrorism, and more likely to be radicalized on the Internet and in mosques than are Christians at church or Jews at synagogue. Which is why we monitor mosques more closely than cathedrals.
Third, according to Harvard’s late Samuel Huntington, a “clash of civilizations” is coming between the West and the Islamic world. Other scholars somberly concur. But if such a conflict is in the cards, how many more millions of devout Muslims do we want inside the gates?
Set aside al-Qaeda, ISIS, and their sympathizers. Among the 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide are untold millions of followers of the Prophet who pray for the coming of a day when sharia is universal and the infidels, i.e., everyone else, are either converted or subjugated.
In nations where Muslims are already huge majorities, where are the Jews? Where have all the Christians gone? With ethnic and sectarian wars raging in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Yemen, Libya, Nigeria, and Somalia, why would we bring into our own country people from all sides of these murderous conflicts?
Many European nations—Germans, French, Swedes, Brits—appear to regret having thrown open their doors to immigrants and refugees from the Islamic world, who have now formed unassimilated clusters and enclaves inside their countries. Ought we not explore why, before we continue down this road?
In some countries of the Muslim world, Americans who embrace “Hollywood values” regarding abortion, adultery, and homosexuality, can get their heads chopped off as quickly as converts to Christianity.
In what Muslim countries does Earl Warren’s interpretation of the First Amendment—about any and all religious presence being banned in public schools and all religions being treated equally—apply? When is the next “Crusade for Christ” coming to Saudi Arabia?
Japan has no immigration from the Muslim world, nor does Israel, which declares itself a Jewish state. Are they also fascistic? President Obama and the guilt-besotted West often bawl their apologies for the horrors of the Crusades that liberated Jerusalem.
Anyone heard Muslim rulers lately apologizing for Saladin, who butchered Christians to take Jerusalem back, or for Suleiman the Magnificent, who conquered the Christian Balkans rampaging through Hungary all the way to the gates of Vienna?
Trump’s surge this week, in the teeth of universal denunciation, suggests that a large slice of America agrees with his indictment—that our political-media establishment is dumb as a box of rocks and leading us down a path to national suicide.
Trump’s success tells us that the American people really do not celebrate “globalization.” They think our negotiators got snookered out of the most magnificent industrial machine ever built, which once guaranteed our workers the highest standard of living on earth.
They don’t want open borders or mass immigration. They want people here illegally to be sent back, the borders secured, and a moratorium imposed on Muslim immigration until we fix the broken system.
As for the establishment, they are saying pretty much what The Donald is saying. To paraphrase Oliver Cromwell’s speech to the Rump Parliament: You have sat here too long for any good you have done here. In the name of God, go!
In Sunday’s first-round of regional elections in France, the clear and stunning winner was the National Front of Marine Le Pen. Her party rolled up 30 percent of the vote, and came in first in 6 of 13 regions. Marine herself won 40 percent of her northeast district.
Despite tremendous and positive publicity from his presidential role in the Charlie Hebdo and Paris massacres and the climate summit, Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party ran third.
What drove the victory of the National Front?
According to the Wall Street Journal‘s William Horobin, “Ms. Le Pen, who has combined the party’s anti-immigration stance with calls for hard-line security measures and tighter control of France’s borders, has only bolstered her support in the three weeks since the Paris attacks.”
The rightward shift in French politics is being replicated across Europe, as nations tighten borders and erect new checkpoints against the tsunami of migrants and refugees from Africa and the Middle East. Angela Merkel and open borders are yesterday in Europe; Marine Le Pen is tomorrow.
And the rightward shift is occurring here as well, propelled by the terrorist atrocity in San Bernardino. On immigration, terrorism, borders, crime, and security, Americans are moving to the right.
Donald Trump has taken the toughest stance. He will send illegal immigrants back and make Mexico pay for his wall. He is the least restrained in what he would do to the Islamic State. And his lead nationally has now reached an unprecedented 20 points.
In Iowa, Sen. Ted Cruz is surging. Cruz would “carpet bomb [ISIS] into oblivion,” and try to make the sand around Raqqa “glow in the dark.” He charges Marco Rubio with collaborating with Sen. Chuck Schumer in backing amnesty for illegal immigrants.
In return, Rubio tears into Cruz daily, charging him with being soft on national security for having backed the USA Freedom Act that denies the NSA instant access to all phone and computer records of American citizens. Like most Republicans, Cruz supported keeping NSA’s hands off the metadata of electronic communications of U.S. citizens. But that position seems more suited to the libertarian moment that has passed, not the national security moment we live in today.
Chris Christie says San Bernardino proves his point about keeping refugee wives and even 3-year-old orphans out of New Jersey. As we now know, that female terrorist may have been the radicalizer.
The Clintons have long been reliable weather vanes of national politics. And Hillary Clinton, too, has begun moving to the right. Sunday, she said she was ready to take “military action” if Iran fails to comply with the slightest provision of President Obama’s nuclear agreement.
She wants tech companies to start policing and shutting down Islamist websites that preach hate and may have radicalized the couple that carried out San Bernardino. Clinton added dismissively, “You are going to hear all the familiar complaints: ‘freedom of speech.'”
Monday’s Washington Post reported on how Bernie Sanders, yesterday’s Socialist sensation, received a tepid response when he spoke to a crowd about income equality, but failed to address the Islamist terrorist atrocity and what he would do about it.
Last week, the New York Times ran its first front-page editorial in 95 years, demanding new federal gun laws. America’s response—a stampede to gun stores to buy firearms for self-defense.
Outlawing AK-47s and AR-15s may seem like common sense to the Times. But Americans do not believe such laws would keep terrorists from getting these weapons. And many realize those cops used semi-automatic rifles to turn the terrorists’ SUV into a pile of junk in a single minute—and them into Bonnie and Clyde.
Even the president is signaling a shift to the right.
Sunday, in only his third Oval Office address, Obama said he will intensify bombing in Iraq and Syria. He wants tougher screening of those coming to America. And he concedes that “an extremist ideology has spread among some Muslim communities” and is a “real problem Muslims must confront.”
Tougher on crime, tougher on terrorists, tougher on securing the border—that is the demand of the moment, and probably of 2016.
Americans are coming to realize we cannot prevent all such slaughters as Ford Hood and Virginia Tech, Columbine and Aurora, Tucson and the Navy Yard, Newtown and Umpqua College, and Charleston.
Nor can we prevent all Islamist terrorism if Muslims raised here or living here become radicalized in mosques or by the Internet, and seek revenge and paradise as warriors of ISIS by slaughtering Americans. Al-Qaeda and ISIS now realize the worldwide publicity gains of Paris and San Bernardino in terrorizing the West. And they will surely seek to replicate those massacres. And every new atrocity, whether of the work place or Islamist variety, will make cops more popular and guns seem more essential.
New horrors are likely ahead—that will continue America’s turn to the right.
In the feudal era there were the “three estates”—the clergy, the nobility, and the commons. The first and second were eradicated in Robespierre’s Revolution. But in the 18th and 19th century, Edmund Burke and Thomas Carlyle identified what the latter called a “stupendous Fourth Estate.”
Wrote William Thackeray: “Of the Corporation of the Goosequill — of the Press … of the fourth estate. … There she is — the great engine — she never sleeps. She has her ambassadors in every quarter of the world — her courtiers upon every road. Her officers march along with armies, and her envoys walk into statesmen’s cabinets.”
The fourth estate, the press, the disciples of Voltaire, had replaced the clergy it had dethroned as the new arbiters of morality and rectitude. Today the press decides what words are permissible and what thoughts are acceptable. The press conducts the inquisitions where heretics are blacklisted and excommunicated from the company of decent men, while others are forgiven if they recant their heresies.
With the rise of network television and its vast audience, the fourth estate reached apogee in the 1960s and 1970s, playing lead roles in elevating JFK and breaking Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon.
Yet before he went down, Nixon inflicted deep and enduring wounds upon the fourth estate. When the national press and its auxiliaries sought to break his Vietnam War policy in 1969, Nixon called on the “great silent majority” to stand by him and dispatched Vice President Spiro Agnew to launch a counter-strike on network prejudice and power.
A huge majority rallied to Nixon and Agnew, exposing how far out of touch with America our Lords Spiritual and Lords Temporal had become. Nixon, the man most hated by the elites in the postwar era, save Joe McCarthy, who also detested and battled the press, then ran up a 49-state landslide against the candidate of the media and counter-culture, George McGovern. Media bitterness knew no bounds.
And with Watergate, the press extracted its pound of flesh. By August 1974, it had reached a new apex of national prestige.
In The Making of the President 1972, Teddy White described the power the “adversary press” had acquired over America’s public life.
The power of the press in America is a primordial one. It sets the agenda of public discussion, and this sweeping political power is unrestrained by any law. It determines what people will talk and think about — an authority that in other nations is reserved for tyrants, priests, parties and mandarins.
Nixon and Agnew were attacked for not understanding the First Amendment freedom of the press. But all they were doing was using their First Amendment freedom of speech to raise doubts about the objectivity, reliability and truthfulness of the adversary press.
Since those days, conservatives have attacked the mainstream media attacking them. And four decades of this endless warfare has stripped the press of its pious pretense to neutrality. Millions now regard the media as ideologues who are masquerading as journalists and use press privileges and power to pursue agendas not dissimilar to those of the candidates and parties they oppose.
Even before Nixon and Agnew, conservatives believed this. At the Goldwater convention at the Cow Palace in 1964 when ex-President Eisenhower mentioned “sensation-seeking columnists and commentators,” to his amazement, the hall exploded.
His popularity is traceable to the fact that he rejects the moral authority of the media, breaks their commandments, and mocks their condemnations. His contempt for the norms of Political Correctness is daily on display. And that large slice of America that detests a media whose public approval now rivals that of Congress, relishes this defiance. The last thing these folks want Trump to do is to apologize to the press.
And the media have played right into Trump’s hand.
They constantly denounce him as grossly insensitive for what he has said about women, Mexicans, Muslims, McCain, and a reporter with a disability. Such crimes against decency, says the press, disqualify Trump as a candidate for president.
Yet, when they demand he apologize, Trump doubles down. And when they demand that Republicans repudiate him, the GOP base replies:
Who are you to tell us whom we may nominate? You are not friends. You are not going to vote for us. And the names you call Trump — bigot, racist, xenophobe, sexist — are the names you call us, nothing but cuss words that a corrupt establishment uses on those it most detests.
What the Trump campaign reveals is that, to populists and Republicans, the political establishment and its media arm are looked upon the way the commons and peasantry of 1789 looked upon the ancien regime and the king’s courtiers at Versailles.
Yet, now that the fourth estate is as discredited as the clergy in 1789, the larger problem is that there is no arbiter of truth, morality, and decency left whom we all respect. Like 4th-century Romans, we barely agree on what those terms mean anymore.
Monday, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” hosted a spirited discussion with Donald Trump on whether he was right in asserting that Muslims in New Jersey celebrated as the towers came down on 9/11.
About Muslim celebrations in Berlin, however, there appears to be no doubt. In my chapter “Eurabia,” in State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America,  is this quote from The New York Times Magazine, exactly 10 years ago.
Parallel to the declarations of ‘unconditional solidarity’ with Americans by the German majority, rallies of another sort were taking place in Neukolln and Kreuzberg. Bottle rockets were set off from building courtyards, a poor man’s fireworks, sporadic, sparse and joyful; two rockets here, three rockets there. Still, altogether, hundreds of rockets were shooting skyward in celebration of the attack, as most Berliners were searching for words to express their horror.
Neukolln and Kreuzberg are neighborhoods of “gastarbeiters,” Muslim Turkish workers who came to Germany in the millions to work in menial jobs beginning around 1960.
While the flap over what Trump saw persists, a more serious question has arisen: Is Turkish strongman President Recep Erdogan trying to draw the United States in on his side in the war in Syria, and into a confrontation with Vladimir Putin’s Russia?
A little history is in order. Not until 1952 did Turkey join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, all but two of whose original 12 members were on the Atlantic or North Sea. Yet bringing in Turkey was a ten-strike, putting NATO on the Dardanelles and Bosporus and on the southern coast of the Black Sea, right up to the border of Stalin’s Soviet Union.
But the world that made Turkey such a strategic asset has vanished. Armenia and Georgia are no longer Soviet republics but free nations. The Soviet Empire, Warsaw Pact, and Soviet Union no longer exist, and Balkan nations as well as the Baltic States are members of the EU and NATO.
Turkey is no longer the secular nation-state of Kemal Ataturk, but increasingly hearkens to the Islamic Awakening. In Syria’s civil war, her behavior has not been what one might expect of an ally.
The Turks left the door open for jihadists to join ISIS. They are accused by two Turkish journalists, now facing life in prison, of shipping arms to ISIS. The Turks are charged with permitting ISIS to move oil from the Islamic State into and across Turkey. Russia, which joined the U.S. in bombing the tanker trucks that move the oil, charges Erdogan’s son with being involved in the black market trade with the caliphate.
Instead of battling ISIS, Erdogan is fighting Kurds in Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan and is threatening to attack Syria’s Kurds if they cross to the west bank of the Euphrates. Ankara is also becoming dictatorial and repressive.
Erdogan has dismal relations with Egypt and Israel and appears hell-bent on bringing down Bashar Assad in Syria. Yet, Assad’s army remains the sole force standing between ISIS and Damascus.
Erdogan’s Turkey has its own separate national agenda. While understandable, what is of concern is that Erdogan could escalate his clash with Assad’s regime into a clash with Putin’s Russia, which is backing the Syrian regime—and drag us into his war.
And the longer this war goes on, the greater the likelihood of something like this happening. For the operative premise of NATO is that an attack against one is an attack against all. What do we do should Erdogan provoke a Russian attack on his aircraft, and then invoke Article V and call on all NATO nations to come to Turkey’s defense against Putin’s Russia in Assad’s Syria?
Turkey’s shoot-down of the Russian Sukhoi Su-24 makes this more than a hypothetical question. While the Russians have indicated they are not going to make this a casus belli, Putin charges that the U.S. was given advance notice of the flight plan of the Russian plane.
Were we? Did we authorize, know about, or suspect Erdogan was planning to shoot that Russian plane down? This is no small matter. And Americans have a right to know.
Then there is the geostrategic question. The world of 2015 is nothing like Truman’s world of 1952 or Reagan’s world of 1982. The adversary we confronted then, the Soviet Empire and Soviet Union, has not existed for a quarter century. Why then does NATO, created to defend Western Europe against that adversary, still exist?
Why are we still committed to fight Russia not only to defend Germany, but Estonia and Erdogan’s Turkey, and if the neocons get their way, to be committed in perpetuity to fight Russia for Georgia, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Moldova, Ukraine, Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk?
If the history of the 20th century teaches anything, it is that war guarantees all too often lead to war. But in this war against “radical Islamic terrorism,” who is the real ally: Erdogan, who has been aiding and abetting Islamic jihadists in Syria, or Putin, who has been bombing them?