Last week, John Kerry seemed to be auditioning for the role of Dr. Pangloss.
Despite jihadi violence across the Middle East and ISIS terror in Iraq and Syria, Kerry told Congress, we live in “a period of less daily threat to Americans and to people in the world than normally—less deaths, less violent deaths today than through the last century.”
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper appeared to undercut Kerry the next day when he testified, “When the final accounting is done, 2014 will have been the most lethal year for global terrorism in the 45 years [since] such data has been complied.” From January through September 2014, said Clapper, there were 13,000 terrorist attacks that killed 31,000 people. Afghanistan and Pakistan accounted for half of these attacks. And the Islamic State ranks first among terrorist organizations.
Yet, is Kerry wrong?
Despite our outrage over the barbarity of ISIS—beheadings of journalists and aid workers by “Jihadi John,” and of Christians on a beach—this century does not remotely rival in evil the bloodiest century of them all, the 20th.
From 1914-1918, nine million men died in the Great War. A comparable number of civilians perished. At war’s end came the Russian Revolution and civil war, the Red Terror of Lenin, the genocide of the kulaks, the Holodomor in Ukraine and Stalin’s Great Purge of the ’30s.
Stalin’s butcher’s bill alone has been estimated at 30 million.
From World War II, 1939-45, European and Asian theaters together, the dead are estimated at another 50 million. From 1945-49, in the Chinese civil war between the Communists of Mao Zedong and the Nationalists of Chiang Kai-shek, millions more died. The 1947-48 war in the subcontinent that severed Pakistan from India also consumed millions of Hindu and Muslim lives.
Came then Korea and Vietnam, where the U.S. dead totaled well over 90,000, and the Korean and Vietnamese dead numbered in the millions. Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge produced a million dead Cambodians in their first year in power in 1975.
The Biafran War of secession from Nigeria from 1967 to 1970, the Derg coup in Ethiopia in 1974 and subsequent Marxist rule until 1991, Rwanda in the 1990s, were each responsible for over a million deaths.
World War I gave us poison gas and starvation blockades; World War II provided ethnic cleansing, genocide, saturation bombing of cities and women and children, with the firestorms of Tokyo, Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki the grand finale.
Does not Kerry have a case?
We Americans lost more than 600,000 dead from 1861-1865, and another 600,000 died in World Wars I and II, Korea and Vietnam. In this century, in Afghanistan and Iraq, the two longest wars in our history, the death toll is 7,000—a terrible loss, but a tiny fraction of the number of Americans lost in wars during many of our lifetimes.
What Americans seem to lack today is a sense of perspective and what Mark Twain called “the calm confidence of a Christian with four aces.”
Jihadi John is a psycho, a sicko, a Charlie Manson who is loving all this publicity. He is not an “existential threat” to the United States. Nor is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, or as he now calls himself, “Caliph Ibrahim,” who told his American captors who handed him over to Iraqi authorities in 2009, “I’ll see you guys in New York.” Not likely, Abu.
This is not to say that America should dismiss the revolutionary forces roiling an Islamic world of dozens of nation states. If the Sunni regimes do not cope with this challenge, the epidemic could engulf them. But as threats to the United States, ISIS, al-Qaeda and Boko Haram are pathetic compared to Hitler’s Reich, Tojo’s Japan, or the nuclear-armed “evil empire” of the Cold War.
During the height of the Vietnam War in 1968, we were losing 200 dead a week. During World War II, it was 2,000 dead a week. How many Americans are dying each week at the hands of ISIS?
Make no mistake. These terrorists can bring down an airliner, shoot up malls, blow up buildings, and kill a number of us. And they will behead any American who falls into their hands. But they cannot run a country. And they cannot defeat the United States.
Let us put this peril in perspective.
Each year, 33,000 American die in auto accidents and tens of thousands die of the flu. Last week, the Center for Disease Control reported that in 2011 alone, Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, a disease this writer had never heard of, caused 15,000 deaths in the USA.
How many American deaths did ISIS cause?
As the Shiites are already engaged against ISIS, we should inform our Sunni friends—the Turks, Egyptians, Saudis, Gulf Arabs: As you are the most threatened here, you are the first responders to this blaze.
We will have your back, but we will not fight your war for you.
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.
If the sadists of ISIS are seeking—with their mass executions, child rapes, immolations, and beheadings of Christians—to stampede us into a new war in the Middle East, they are succeeding.
Repeatedly snapping the blood-red cape of terrorist atrocities in our faces has the Yankee bull snorting, pawing the ground, ready to charge again.
“Nearly three-quarters of Republicans now favor sending ground troops into combat against the Islamic State,” says a CBS News poll. The poll was cited in a New York Times story about how the voice of the hawk is ascendant again in the GOP.
In April or May 2015, said a Pentagon briefer last week, the Iraqi Army will march north to recapture Mosul from the Islamic State. On to Mosul! On to Raqqa! Yet, who, exactly, will be taking Mosul?
According to Rowan Scarborough of the Washington Times, the U.S. general who trained the Iraqi army says Mosul is a mined, booby-trapped city, infested with thousands of suicide fighters. Any Iraqi army attack this spring would be “doomed.”
Translation: Either U.S. troops lead, or Mosul remains in ISIS’ hands. Yet taking Mosul is only the beginning. Scores of thousands of troops will be needed to defeat and destroy ISIS in Syria.
And eradicating ISIS is but the first of the wars Republicans have in mind. This coming week, at the invitation of Speaker John Boehner, Bibi Netanyahu will address a joint session of Congress.
His message: Obama and John Kerry are bringing back a rotten deal that will ensure Iran acquires nuclear weapons and becomes an existential threat to Israel. Congress must repudiate Obama’s deal, impose new sanctions on Iran and terminate the appeasement talks.
Should Bibi and his Republican allies succeed in closing the ramp to a diplomatic solution, we will be on the road to war. Which is where Bibi wants us.
To him, Iran is the Nazi Germany of the 21st century, hell-bent on a new Holocaust. A U.S. war that does to the Ayatollah’s Iran what a U.S. war did to Hitler’s Germany would put Bibi in the history books as the Israeli Churchill.
But if Republicans scuttle the Iranian negotiations by voting new sanctions, Iran will take back the concessions it has made, and we are indeed headed for war. Which is where Sen. Lindsey Graham, too, now toying with a presidential bid, wants us to be. In 2010, Sen. Graham declared: “Instead of a surgical strike on [Iran's] nuclear infrastructure … we’re to the point now that you have to really neuter the regime’s ability to wage war against us and our allies. … [We must] destroy the ability of the regime to strike back.”
If Congress scuttles the nuclear talks, look for Congress to next write an authorization for the use of military force—on Iran.
Today, the entire Shiite Crescent—Iran, Iraq, Bashar Assad’s Syria, Hezbollah—is fighting ISIS. All these Shiites are de facto allies in any war against ISIS. But should we attack Iran, they will become enemies. And what would war with Iran mean for U.S. interests?
With its anti-ship missiles and hundreds of missile boats, Iran could imperil our fleet in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea. The Gulf could be closed to commercial shipping by a sinking or two. Hezbollah could go after the U.S. embassy in Beirut. The Green Zone in Baghdad could come under attack by Shiite militia loyal to Iran.
Would Assad’s army join Iran’s fight against America? It surely would if America listened to those Republicans who now say we must bring down Assad to convince Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arabs to join the fight against ISIS.
By clashing with Iran, we would make enemies of Damascus and Baghdad and the Shiite militias in Iraq and Beirut battling ISIS today—in the hope that, tomorrow, the conscientious objectors of the Sunni world—Turks, Saudis, Gulf Arabs—might come and fight beside us.
Listen for long to GOP foreign-policy voices, and you can hear calls for war on ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, the Houthi rebels, the Assad regime, the Islamic Republic of Iran, to name but a few.
Are we to fight them all? How many U.S. troops will be needed? How long will all these wars take? What will the Middle East look like after we crush them all? Who will fill the vacuum if we go? Or must we stay forever?
Nor does this exhaust the GOP war menu. Enraged by Vladimir Putin’s defiance, Republicans are calling for U.S. weapons, trainers, even troops, to be sent to Ukraine and Moldova.
Says John Bolton, himself looking at a presidential run, “Most of the Republican candidates or prospective candidates are heading in the right direction; there’s one who’s headed in the wrong direction.”
That would be Rand Paul, who prefers “Arab boots on the ground.”
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.
Back in 1987, this writer was invited by friends to advise them on a press conference they had called to oppose President Reagan’s signing of an INF treaty to remove all nuclear missiles from Europe.
My advice: Deplore the treaty; do not attack the president. The next day, Howard Phillips declared that Ronald Reagan had become a “useful idiot for Soviet propaganda.”
Howie captured the headlines, as did Rudy Giuliani after that dinner at 21 Club for Gov. Scott Walker, where the mayor spontaneously rose to declaim, “I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. … He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up, through love of his country.”
The next day, Rudy doubled down, bringing up Obama’s old ties to socialists and communists: Stalinist Frank Marshall Davis, radical Saul Alinsky, 1970s bomber Bill Ayers, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Rudy could not understand why at the National Prayer Breakfast the president launched an attack on the Crusades and the Inquisition, done “in the name of Christ.” The mayor could not understand why Obama had trouble identifying and naming ISIS as radical Islamic terrorists.
Though this writer heard several radio talk show hosts Friday cheer Rudy on, Republicans swiftly declared that Obama’s love for America must not be questioned. Urged to put space between themselves and Rudy, most Republican leaders swiftly did.
The consultant class’ advice was near unanimous: Cut Rudy loose.
Sensing retreat, the left pursued. And it is not letting go. They still demand to know why Walker did not renounce Rudy and whether he believes Obama is a Christian. For weeks the governor has been bedeviled for refusing to say in London if he believes in evolution.
Walker’s initial response to whether he thought Obama was a Christian was, “I don’t know. … To me this is a classic example of why people hate Washington, and, increasingly, they dislike the press.” Yet, Walker’s spokesperson hastily issued this corrective statement, “Of course the governor thinks the president is a Christian.”
Monday, Rudy walked back his remark that Obama does not love America, writing in the Wall Street Journal, “I didn’t intend to question President Obama’s motives or the content of his heart.” The Republican rout was complete.
While this, too, shall pass away, what it reveals is the balance of power in the culture war and which side has the whip hand. And what it portends is a drive by the left to pull the GOP back onto the terrain of moral and social issues where its candidates are, or can be portrayed, as out of step with modernity.
Lately, this writer heard a political analyst say that if the GOP platform opposes same-sex marriage, the party can write off California and its 55 electoral votes. Which may be true. Such has been the cultural and moral shift in America in just a few years.
Yet if the party is true to its past platforms and professed convictions, how can it endorse or equivocate on same-sex marriage? As for whether one believes in Darwinian evolution, it is neither an inconsequential nor illegitimate question. For where one stands on biblical truth, natural law, a creator, and intelligent design is a strong if not absolute indicator of where one comes down on abortion, same-sex marriage, assisted suicide, euthanasia, and legalized narcotics.
To traditionalists, the de-Christianized and secularized character of American society is of greater concern than whose flag flies over Sebastopol. And if the GOP visibly retreats or takes a stand of studied neutrality on these issues, it will lose the enthusiasm of the most ardent of its admirers. And the party can’t afford that.
Democrats and their media allies may be expected to elevate the social issues, both because they sever the GOP from the cultural-media mainstream, and they drive a wedge into the party base between economic and social conservatives. One imagines those conservatives gathered at Club 21 were more interested in hearing how a President Walker would cut corporate and capital gains taxes than how soon Roe v. Wade could be overturned.
Since the Republican victory in November, it has not been a good quarter for the GOP. Obama, repudiated, seems liberated. Ignoring GOP protests, he issued an executive amnesty for five million illegal immigrants. He promises to veto the Keystone XL pipeline. He taunted the GOP in his State of the Union. He is back to 50 percent approval in the polls.
The economy added 1 million jobs in three months. The Dow Jones Friday hit a record high. Senate Democrats are happily filibustering to death the House bill to defund amnesty. And if the Department of Homeland Security has to shut down for lack of funds, Obama and his media allies will see to it the GOP is blamed.
And the national rollouts of the Bush III and Walker campaigns have shown that neither is ready for prime time.
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.
“Free trade results in giving our money, our manufactures, and our markets to other nations,” warned the Republican Senator from Ohio and future President William McKinley in 1892. ”Thank God I am not a free-trader,” echoed the rising Empire State Republican and future President Theodore Roosevelt.
Those were the voices of a Republican Party that believed in prospering America first.
For a quarter century, however, the party of the Bushes has been a globalist, New World Order party, and fanatically free trade. It signed on to NAFTA, GATT, the World Trade Organization, most-favored-nation status for China, CAFTA, and KORUS, the U.S.-Korean trade treaty negotiated by Barack Obama.
So supportive have Republicans been of anything sold as free trade they have agreed to “fast track,” the voluntary surrender by Congress of its constitutional power “to regulate commerce with foreign nations.” With fast track, Congress gives up its right to amend trade treaties, and agrees to restrict itself to a yea or nay vote.
And who is leading the fight to have Congress again surrender its power over trade? The GOP vice presidential nominee, and current chairman of ways and means, Paul Ryan.
Yet when one looks back on the devastation wrought by free trade, how can a party that purports to put America first sign on to fast track yet again? In the first decade of this century, the United States lost 5 to 6 million manufacturing jobs. We lost 55,000 factories, a devastation of industry not unlike what we inflicted on Germany and Japan in 1944-45.
The trade figures are in for 2014. What do they show?
The United States ran a trade deficit of $505 billion. But as the Economic Policy Institute’s Robert Scott points out, in manufactured goods, the U.S. trade deficit rose to $524 billion, a surge of $77 billion over 2013. The U.S. trade deficit with China soared to $342 billion. Our exports to China amounted to $125 billion. But our imports from China were almost four times as great, $467 billion.
Since Jan. 1, 2000, U.S. trade deficits with China have totaled an astronomical $3.3 trillion.
How do Clinton, Bush II, and Obama defend these trade deficits that have done to our country exactly what McKinley warned they would do in 1892—given away “our money, our manufactures, and our markets” to Communist China? Have the Chinese reciprocated for this historic transfer of America’s productive capacity and wealth by becoming a better friend and partner?
While the United States ran a $505 billion trade deficit overall, in goods we ran a trade deficit of $737 billion, or 4 percent of GDP. And while our trade deficit in goods with China was $343 billion, with the European Union it was $141 billion, with Japan $67 billion, with Mexico $54 billion, with Canada $34 billion, with South Korea $25 billion.
Our Mexican neighbors send us illegal migrants to compete for U.S. jobs. And our multinationals send to Mexico the factories and jobs of Middle America, to exploit the low-wage labor there. One can, after all, assemble Fords more cheaply in Hermosillo than Ohio.
Of particular interest is Korea, with which the United States signed a free-trade agreement in 2011. Since then, U.S. exports to Korea have fallen, U.S. imports have risen 80 percent, and we ran a $25 billion trade deficit in 2014. With the KORUS deal the template for the new Trans-Pacific Partnership, how can Republicans vote to throw away their right to alter or amend any TPP that Obama brings home?
Was the national vote to give Republicans majorities in Congress unseen since 1946 a vote to have the GOP turn over all power to write trade treaties to Obama and his negotiators who produced the greatest trade deficits in American history? Do these record deficits justify such blind confidence in Obama? Do they justify Congress’ renunciation of rights over commerce that the Founding Fathers explicitly set aside for the legislative branch in Article I of the Constitution?
“If we don’t like the way the global economy works,” says Paul Ryan, “then we have to get out there and change it.” No, we don’t. The great and justified complaint against China and Japan, who have run the largest trade surpluses at our expense, is that they are “currency manipulators.”
Correct. But the way to deal with currency manipulators is to rob them of the benefits of their undervalued currencies by slapping tariffs on goods they send to the United States.
And if the WTO says you can’t do that, give the WTO the answer Theodore Roosevelt would have given them.
Instead of wringing our hands over income inequality and wage stagnation, why don’t we turn these trade deficits into trade surpluses, as did the generations of Lincoln and McKinley, and T.R. and Cal Coolidge?
Hopefully, the shaky truce between Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s Petro Poroshenko, brokered in Minsk by Angela Merkel, will hold. For nothing good, but much evil, could come of broadening and lengthening this war that has cost the lives of 5,400 Ukrainians.
The longer it goes on, the greater the casualties, the more land Ukraine will lose, and the greater the likelihood Kiev will end up an amputated and bankrupt republic, a dependency the size of France on the doorstep of Europe. Had no truce been achieved, 8,000 Ukrainian troops trapped in the Debaltseve pocket could have been forced to surrender or wiped out, causing a regime crisis in Kiev. U.S. weapons could have begun flowing in, setting the stage for a collision between Russia and the United States.
One understands Russia’s vital interest in retaining its Black Sea naval base in Crimea, and keeping Ukraine out of NATO. And one sees the vital interest of Ukraine in not losing the Donbas. But what is America’s vital interest here?
Merkel says a great principle is at stake, that in post-Cold War Europe, borders are not to be changed by force. That is idealistic, but is it realistic?
At the Cold War’s end, Yugoslavia split into seven nations, the USSR into 15. Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo, even Slovenia briefly, had to fight to break free. So, too, did the statelets of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in breaking from Georgia, and Transnistria from Moldova. Inside Russia there are still minorities such as the Chechens who wish to break free. And in many of the new nations like Ukraine, there are ethnic Russians who want to go home.
Indeed, a spirit of secessionism pervades the continent of Europe. But while London permitted the Scottish secessionists a vote, Madrid refuses to concede that right to the Basques or Catalans. And some of these ethnic minorities may one day fight to break free, as the Irish did a century ago.
Yet of all of the secessionist movements from the Atlantic to the Urals, none imperils a vital interest of the United States. None is really our business. And none justifies a war with Russia.
Indeed, what is it about this generation of Americans that makes us such compulsive meddlers in the affairs of nations we could not find on a map? Consider if you will our particular affliction: Putin paranoia.
Forty years ago, this writer was in Moscow with Richard Nixon on his last summit with Leonid Brezhnev. It was not a contentious affair, though the USSR was then the command center of an immense empire that stretched from Berlin to the Bering Sea.
And when we are warned that Putin wishes to restore that USSR of 1974, and to reassemble that Soviet Empire of yesterday, have we really considered what that would require of him?
To restore the USSR, Putin would have to recapture Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, an area the size of the United States. To resurrect the Soviet Empire, Putin would have to invade and occupy Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, and then overrun Germany to the Elbe River.
How far along is Putin in re-establishing the empire of the czars and commissars? He has reannexed Crimea, which is roughly the size of Vermont, and which the Romanovs acquired in the 18th century.
Yet almost daily we hear the din from Capitol Hill, “The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!” That there is bad blood between America and Putin is undeniable. And, indeed, Putin has his quarrels with us as well.
In his eyes, we took advantage of the dissolution of the USSR to move NATO into Eastern Europe and the Baltic republics. We used our color-coded revolutions to dump over pro-Russian regimes in Serbia, Ukraine, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan.
Yet beyond our mutual distrust, or even contempt, is there not common ground between us? As the century unfolds, two clear and present dangers threaten U.S. strategic interests: the rising power of a covetous China and the spread of Islamic terrorism. In dealing with both, Russia is a natural ally.
China sees Siberia and the Russian Far East, with its shrinking population, as a storehouse of the resources Beijing needs. And against the Taliban in Afghanistan, ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and al-Qaeda, Russia, which suffered in Beslan and Moscow what New York, London, Madrid, Paris, and Copenhagen have suffered, is on our side.
During the Cold War, Russia was in thrall to an ideology hostile to all we believed in. She had rulers who commanded a world empire.
Yet we had presidents who could do business with Moscow.
If we could negotiate with neo-Stalinists issues as grave as the the Berlin Wall, and ballistic missiles in Cuba, why cannot we sit down with Vladimir Putin and discuss less earthshaking matters, such as whose flag should fly over Luhansk and Donetsk?
The president’s request for the authorization to use military force against the Islamic State has landed in a Congress as divided as the country. That division was mirrored in the disparate receptions Obama’s resolution received from the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.
To the Times, Obama’s AUMF is “alarmingly broad. It does not limit the battlefield to Syria and Iraq.” Moreover, Obama “seeks permission to attack ‘associated persons or forces.’” This would give the White House “virtually unrestricted power to engage in attacks around the globe as long as it can justify a connection, however tenuous, to the Islamic State.”
To the Journal, Obama’s resolution ties America down the way the Lilliputians tied down Gulliver. It authorizes war on ISIS for only three years. It would prevent another U.S. army from being sent to Iraq or Syria. ”Rather than put shackles on his generals,” says the Journal, “Mr. Obama should be urging them to mount a campaign to roll back ISIS as rapidly as possible from the territory it holds.”
But the country seems nowhere near this hawkish. Viewing nightly on cable news the hardships endured by the Wounded Warriors of our two latest and longest wars has cooled the arbor for new crusades.
About the character of the Islamic State, there is no disagreement. ”A brutal, vicious death cult,” Obama called it. But about whether ISIS is an “existential threat” to us, or if this war is really our war, there is no agreement.
North of Syria, along 500 miles of border, sits a Turkish army of half a million with 3,000 tanks that could cross over and annihilate ISIS in a month. Former Secretary of State James Baker suggests that the U.S. offer air, logistics, and intelligence support, if the Turks will go in and snuff out ISIS.
But not only have the Turks not done so, for a time they looked the other way as jihadists crossed their border to join ISIS. If the Islamic State, as Ankara’s inaction testifies, is not viewed as a threat to Turkey’s vital interests, how can it be a threat to ours? There are reports that the Saudis and the Gulf Arabs would be more willing to participate in a war on ISIS if we would first effect the ouster of Bashar Assad.
Everyone in the Middle East, it appears, wants the United States to fight their wars for them. But as they look out for their interests first, it is time we started looking out for ours first.
Foremost among those interests would be to avoid another $1 trillion war, with thousands of U.S. dead and tens of thousands of wounded, and a situation, after a decade of fighting, as exists today in Afghanistan and Iraq, where those we leave behind in power cannot hold their own against the enemies we defeated for them.
That an Iraqi army we equipped and trained at a cost of tens of billions would disintegrate and desert Iraq’s second city, Mosul, when confronted by a few thousand fanatics, was a debacle. Why should Americans have to recapture Mosul for Baghdad? And why do these “democrats” we install in power seem to perform so poorly?
Under Saddam, Iraq fought an eight-year war against a nation three times as large and populous, Iran. Yet, Saddam’s army did not run away as the Iraqi army we trained and equipped ran away from Anbar. What did Saddam Hussein have to motivate men that we do not? What is it that makes some people in the Middle East volunteer and fight to the death, while others refuse to fight or run away from battle?
For, as the Journal writes, “The Associated Press reported Tuesday that U.S. intelligence officials now say foreign fighters are joining Islamic State ‘in unprecedented numbers,’ including 3,400 from western nations out of 20,000 from around the world.”
Why is this?
The Islamic State has plugged into the most powerful currents of the Middle East. It is anti-American, anti-Zionist, anti-West, Islamic and militantly Islamist. It promises to overthrow the old order of Sykes-Picot, to tear up the artificial borders the West imposed on the Arabs, and to produce a new unity, a new dispensation where the Quran is law and Allah rules and all Sunnis are united in one home whence all infidels—Jews, Shia, Christians—have been driven out. Hateful as it is, ISIS has a vision.
Hezbollah, Iran, Assad, the Houthi rebels, all Shiites, understand this. They know they are in a fight to the death. And they fight.
But it is the Sunni Arabs, the royals on the Arabian Peninsula and the sheiks on the Gulf, to whom this should be a fire bell in the night. For ISIS is out to dethrone these perceived royal puppets of a detested America and to reclaim rightful custody of Mecca and Medina.
The Shiites are already in the field. The Sunni are going to have to fight and win this war against ISIS, or lose it all.
A steady patriot of the world alone,
The friend of every country — but his own.
George Canning’s couplet about the Englishmen who professed love for all the world except their own native land comes to mind on reading Obama’s remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast. After listing the horrors of ISIS, al-Qaeda, and Boko Haram, the president decided his recital of crimes committed in the name of Islam would be unbalanced, if he did not backhand those smug Christians sitting right in front of him.
And lest we get on our high horse … remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.
Why did he do it? He had to know that dredging up and dragging in real or imagined crimes of Christianity from centuries ago would anger Christians and obliterate whatever else he had to say. Was it Edgar Allen Poe’s “Imp of the Perverse” prodding him to stick it to the Christians? Was it the voice of his old pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah “God damn America!” Wright muttering in his ear?
I believe this betrays something deeper. Obama revels in reciting the sins of Christianity and the West because he does not see himself as a loyal son of the civilization Christianity produced.
He sees himself as a citizen of the world who rejects the idea that our cradle faith Christianity is superior or that our civilization is superior. For he seems to seize every opportunity to point up the sins of Christianity and the West and the contributions of other faiths and civilizations.
Consider the bill of particulars in Obama’s indictment of crimes committed “in the name of Christ.”
Slavery was not invented by Christians. It existed when Christ was born. Fifth century Athens and the Roman republic had slaves. African slaves were brought not only to the New World in the 17th and 18th centuries but to Arabia and the Islamic world. Black African chieftains produced the captives for the slave trade.
Why then does Obama single out Christianity for indictment, when it was Christians and their teachings about human dignity, and Christian moral leaders and Christian nations that abolished the slave trade and slavery itself, which endured in the Islamic world into the 20th century?
Though he brought up crimes committed “in the name of Christ,” Obama did not mention the name of Muhammad. An oversight? As for the Crusades, there were indeed atrocities on both sides during these expeditions and wars from the end of the 11th to the end of the 13th century, with the fall of Acre in 1291.
But were the Crusades, military expeditions by Christian knights to liberate Jerusalem from the Muslims who had overrun these lands where Jesus had walked, preached, and died, unjust wars? Obama seems to see the Crusades from the Saracen point of view.
But does he really believe that when Pope Urban II preached the First Crusade at Clermont in 1095 to have Christian knights relieve the siege of Byzantium and liberate the Holy Land, this was the moral equivalent of Bin Laden declaring war to rid the Islamic Middle East of Americans?
Not long go, our popular culture portrayed Crusaders as heroes, their cause as noble. Among the most famous was Richard the Lionhearted who led the Third Crusade. General Eisenhower entitled his war memoirs Crusade in Europe.
Like his derisive remarks about Middle Pennsylvanians, that they cling with bitterness to their bibles, guns, and antipathy to immigrants, Obama’s Prayer Breakfast digression reveals much more about who the man is.
He dragged in the Inquisition. Yet, as Alexander Solzhenitsyn noted, Vladimir Lenin ordered more people executed in his first days in power than did the Spanish Inquisition in 300 years.
In drawing parallels between Christianity and Islam, Obama misses a basic point. Unlike Islam, which, in one century, conquered Arabia, the Middle and Near East, the Holy Land, North Africa and Spain, until the Muslim advance was halted by Charles Martel at Poitiers in France, Christianity did not conquer with the sword, but with the Word.
Only after 300 years of persecution and martyrdom were the Christians, through the Edict of Milan, allowed to practice their faith. Christianity was not imposed on the Old World, but embraced.
America’s problem: With Islamic fanaticism surging, with ISIS using the term “Crusader” as a curse word equivalent to “Nazi,” we have as leader of the West a man who partly shares the enemy’s views about the Christian Crusades, and who seems at best ambivalent about the superiority of the civilization that he leads.
Again, Canning’s words come to mind:
No narrow bigot he; — his reason’d view
Thy interests, England, ranks with thine, Peru!
France at our doors, he sees no danger nigh,
But heaves for Turkey’s woes the impartial sigh;
A steady patriot of the world alone,
The friend of every country — but his own.
Seeing clips of that 22-minute video of the immolation of the Jordanian pilot, one wonders: Who would be drawn to the cause of these barbarians who perpetrated such an atrocity? While the video might firm up the faith of fanatics, would it not evoke rage and revulsion across the Islamic world? After all, this was a Sunni Muslim, in a cage, being burned alive.
As of now, this cruel killing seems to have backfired. Jordan is uniting behind King Abdullah’s determination to exact “earth-shattering” retribution. Which raises again the questions: Why did ISIS do it? What did they hope to gain? Evil though they may be, they are not stupid. Surely, they knew the reaction they would get?
Several explanations come to mind.
First, ISIS is hurting. It lost the battle for Kobane on the Turkish border to the Kurds; it is bleeding under U.S. air attacks; and it is stymied in Iraq. It wanted to lash out in the most dramatic and horrific way.
Second, ISIS wants to retain the title of the most resolute and ruthless of the Islamist radicals, a title temporarily lost to al-Qaeda, which carried out the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris. This horror has put ISIS back in the headlines and on global television.
Third, ISIS wants to pay back King Abdullah, a Sunni and descendant of the Prophet, for joining America in bombing them.
Fourth, this may have been a provocation to cause the king to put his monarchy on the line and plunge Jordan into all-out war against the Islamic State. For history teaches that wars often prove fatal to monarchies. In the Great War of 1914-1918, the Hapsburgs and Hohenzollerns, the Romanovs and Ottomans, all went down.
The terrorists of ISIS may believe that stampeding Abdullah into fighting on the side of the “Crusaders” may prove destabilizing to his country and imperil the Hashemite throne. For, though Jordanians may be united today, will they support sending their sons into battle as allies of the Americans and de facto allies of Bashar Assad, Hezbollah, and Iran?
There are reasons why Sunni nations like Turkey and Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states have not committed more openly and decisively to the war on ISIS, and instead prod the Americans to send their troops to eradicate the Islamic State. To many Sunni nations, Assad and the Shia Crescent of Tehran, Baghdad, Damascus, and Beirut are the greater threat. Indeed, until recently, as Joe Biden pointed out last October, the Turks, Saudis, and United Arab Emirates were providing clandestine aid to ISIS.
Biden was forced to apologize, but he had told the truth.
Which bring us back to the crucial issue here. While King Abdullah is a trusted friend, Jordan has been best able to serve its own and America’s interests by staying out of wars. Lest we forget, Abdullah’s father, King Hussein, refused to join the coalition of Desert Storm that drove the Iraqi army out of Kuwait.
In February 1991, President Bush charged that King Hussein seems “to have moved over, way over, into the Saddam Hussein camp.” In March of 1991, the Senate voted to end all military and economic aid to Jordan. But the king was looking out for his own survival, and rightly so.
Hence, is it wise for Jordan to become a front-line fighting state in a war, which, if it prevails, will mean a new lease on life for the Assad regime and a victory for Iran, the Shia militias in Iraq, and Hezbollah?
Critics argue that after making his commitment to “degrade and defeat” the Islamic State, President Obama has provided neither a war strategy nor the military resources to carry it out. And they are right. But this is just another case of the president drawing a red line he should never have drawn. While U.S. air power can hold back the advance of ISIS and “degrade,” i.e., contain, ISIS, the destruction of ISIS is going to require scores of thousands of troops.
Though the Iraqi army, Shia militias, and Kurds may be able to provide those troops to retake Mosul, neither the Turks nor any other Arab nation has volunteered the troops to defeat ISIS in Syria. And if the Turks and Sunni Arabs are unwilling to put boots on the ground in Syria, why should we? Why should America, half a world away, have to provide those troops rather than nations that are more immediately threatened and have armies near at hand?
Why is defeating 30,000 ISIS jihadists our job, and not theirs?
With this outrage, ISIS has thrown down the gauntlet to the Sunni Arabs. The new Saudi king calls the burning of Lt. Muath al-Kasasbeh an “odious crime” that is “inhuman and contrary to Islam.” The UAE foreign minister calls it a “brutal escalation by the terrorist group.”
Let us see if action follows outrage.
Among Cold War presidents, from Truman to Bush I, there was an unwritten rule: Do not challenge Moscow in its Central and Eastern Europe sphere of influence.
In crises over Berlin in 1948 and 1961, the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 and the Warsaw Pact invasion of Prague in 1968, U.S. forces in Europe stayed in their barracks. We saw the Elbe as Moscow’s red line, and they saw it as ours. While Reagan sent weapons to anti-Communist rebels in Angola, Nicaragua, and Afghanistan, to the heroic Poles of Gdansk he sent only mimeograph machines.
That Cold War caution and prudence may be at an end.
For President Obama is being goaded by Congress and the liberal interventionists in his party to send lethal weaponry to Kiev in its civil war with pro-Russian rebels in Donetsk and Luhansk. That war has already cost 5,000 lives—soldiers, rebels, civilians. September’s cease-fire in Minsk has broken down. The rebels have lately seized 200 added square miles, and directed artillery fire at Mariupol, a Black Sea port between Donetsk and Luhansk and Crimea.
Late last year, Congress sent Obama a bill authorizing lethal aid to Kiev. He signed it. Now the New York Times reports that NATO Commander Gen. Philip Breedlove favors military aid to Ukraine, as does Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. John Kerry and Gen. Martin Dempsey of the joint chiefs are said to be open to the idea.
A panel of eight former national security officials, chaired by Michele Flournoy, a potential Defense Secretary in a Hillary Clinton administration, has called for the U.S. to provide $3 billion in military aid to Ukraine, including anti-tank missiles, reconnaissance drones, Humvees, and radar to locate the sources of artillery and missile fire. Such an arms package would guarantee an escalation of the war, put the United States squarely in the middle, and force Vladimir Putin’s hand.
Thus far, despite evidence of Russian advisers in Ukraine and claims of Russian tank presence, Putin denies that he has intervened. But if U.S. cargo planes start arriving in Kiev with Javelin anti-tank missiles, Putin would face several choices.
He could back down, abandon the rebels, and be seen as a bully who, despite his bluster, does not stand up for Russians everywhere. More in character, he could take U.S. intervention as a challenge and send in armor and artillery to enable the rebels to consolidate their gains, then warn Kiev that, rather than see the rebels routed, Moscow will intervene militarily. Or Putin could order in the Russian army before U.S. weapons arrive, capture Mariupol, establish a land bridge to Crimea, and then tell Kiev he is ready to negotiate.
What would we do then? Send U.S. advisers to fight alongside the Ukrainians, as the war escalates and the casualties mount? Send U.S. warships into the Black Sea? Have we thought this through, as we did not think through what would happen if we brought down Saddam, Gadhafi, and Mubarak?
America has never had a vital interest in Crimea or the Donbass worth risking a military clash with Russia. And we do not have the military ability to intervene and drive out the Russian army, unless we are prepared for a larger war and the potential devastation of the Ukraine.
What would Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon or Reagan think of an American president willing to risk military conflict with a nuclear-armed Russia over two provinces in southeastern Ukraine that Moscow had ruled from the time of Catherine the Great?
What is happening in Ukraine is a tragedy and a disaster. And we are in part responsible, having egged on the Maidan coup that overthrew the elected pro-Russian government.
But a greater disaster looms if we get ourselves embroiled in Ukraine’s civil war. We would face, first, the near certainty of defeat for our allies, if not ourselves. Second, we would push Moscow further outside Europe and the West, leaving her with no alternative but to deepen ties to a rising China.
Given the economic crisis in Russia and the basket case Ukraine is already, how do we think a larger and wider war would leave both nations?
Alarmists say we cannot let Putin’s annexation of Crimea stand. We cannot let Luhansk and Donetsk become a pro-Russian enclave in Ukraine, like Abkhazia, South Ossetia or the Transdniester republic. But no one ever thought these enclaves that emerged from the ethnic decomposition of the Soviet Union were worth a conflict with Russia. When did Luhansk and Donetsk become so?
Rather than becoming a co-belligerent in this civil war that is not our war, why not have the United States assume the role of the honest broker who brings it to an end. Isn’t that how real peace prizes are won?
Last November, Republicans grew their strength in Congress to levels unseen since 1946. What united the party and rallied the nation was the GOP’s declared resolve to stand up to an imperious president. Give us powerful new majorities, said John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, and we shall halt these usurpations of Congressional power.
And, so, what is the first order of business now in the Ways and Means Committee of Paul Ryan and Senate Finance Committee of Orrin Hatch?
“The first thing we ought to do,” says Ryan, “is pass trade promotion authority.” Trade promotion authority, or “fast track,” is a synonym for Congress’s surrender of all rights to amend trade treaties, and a commitment to confine itself to a yes or no vote on whatever deal Obama brings home.
Watching the GOP’s reversion to form calls to mind the term the neocons gave the French for refusing to join Bush II’s big march to Baghdad: “cheese-eating surrender monkeys.” With the huge Trans-Pacific Partnership in negotiations, Obama wants Boehner and McConnell to agree in advance not to tamper with it. “Hands off!” he demands. If this GOP agrees to this, it will, in its first great decision, be engaging in an act self-castration.
Why would they do this?
Has Obama’s record been so impressive the GOP should give up its constitutional power to amend trade treaties? As the liberal group Public Citizen notes, the biggest trade deal of Barack’s term, the U.S.-Korea trade pact modeled on NAFTA, has been another job-killer for American workers:
Since the Obama administration used Fast Track to push a trade agreement with Korea, the U.S. trade deficit with Korea has grown 50 percent — which equates to 50,000 more American jobs lost. The U.S. had a $3 billion monthly trade deficit with Korea in October 2014 — the highest monthly U.S. goods trade deficit with the country on record.
Everywhere we hear that the issue of our time is the wage stagnation of the middle class. But what has caused U.S. wages to stop rising for longer than any period in our history? What caused the inexorable growth of U.S. wages, from the Revolution to Reagan, to stop dead?
Like Poe’s “Purloined Letter,” the answer is right in front of us.
Wages are the price of labor, and price is determined by supply and demand. Wages have fallen because the supply of labor has exploded. Following the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, we threw open America’s doors to a flood of immigrants, legal and illegal. Some 40-50 million have poured in, an unprecedented expansion of the labor force.
As these immigrants—many uneducated, unskilled, unable to speak English well—entered the labor pool, they were willing to work for less than native-born Americans who needed higher wages to sustain their standard of living. In the service industries, manufacturing, construction, U.S. employers found themselves in a buyers’ market for workers right here in the USA.
Yet, over a million new low-wage workers pouring into the USA every year was not enough for our banksters and corporatists.
Thus, “free-trade” Republicans and their collaborators in the Business Roundtable and U.S. Chamber of Commerce decided to drop the U.S. labor force into a worldwide labor pool where the average wage was but a tiny fraction of an American living wage.
Like Dr. King, our transnational corporations had a dream—a dream of bypassing all U.S. regulations on wages and hours, health and safety, and the environment—a dream of getting rid of all those high-wage U.S. workers and their unions.
How to realize this dream? Move production out of the United States, out from under the jurisdiction of U.S. law, into the Third World, and then bring your products back free of charge. To these folks, America is the best market to sell into, but, as a place to produce, give us China!
Mexicans, Latin Americans, East and South Asians, Chinese would all work for less than Americans, thus enabling corporate executives to take home fatter shares of far larger profits, in salaries, bonuses, benefits, stock options, and soaring equity prices.
Like NAFTA and GATT, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is an enabling act for multinationals to move freely to where it is cheapest to produce while securing access to where it is most profitable to sell.
A new Magna Carta—for the billionaires’ boys club.
For 40 years, U.S. workers have seen factories close, jobs disappear and company towns become ghost towns, the “creative destruction” of Joe Schumpeter’s felicitous phrase. Only the wholesale destruction was no accident, it was planned.
For scores of millions, the American dream is gone, sacrificed to the gods of the global economy—a new world economic order created by and for an elite whose 1,700 corporate jets were parked wingtip-to-wingtip last week while they partied in Davos.
That is why there may be a Syriza in all of our futures.
“The Iranians are on the march,” warned John McCain Sunday. ”Iran is building a new Persian Empire,” echoed Col. Ralph Peters.
So alarmed is Speaker Boehner, he invited Bibi Netanyahu to come and challenge U.S. policy toward Iran from the same podium where the president delivered his State of the Union address. Bibi will make the case for new U.S. sanctions on Iran; sanctions that Obama has said he will veto as they would sabotage talks on Iran’s nuclear program and potentially put us on the road to war.
Why are Bibi’s insights needed?
Because, says Sen. Robert Menendez, the outgoing chairman of foreign relations, White House statements sound like “talking points from Tehran.” This beloved poodle of AIPAC is always a strong contender for best in show.
“Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence … a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.” So warned our first and greatest president in his Farewell Address.
But this column is not about how Washington would weep at what has become of this Republic, nor a polemic against the corruption of a capital where the currency is campaign cash and national policy is the commodity bought and sold.
The issue is whether Iran represents a threat to our security worth risking a war. For that is where many, including Bibi, want us to go. Last week’s panic was triggered by the ouster of the pro-American Yemeni President by Houthi rebels. Suddenly, we heard wails that Iran has now captured four Arab capitals—Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus, and Sanaa.
“Death to America, death to Israel,” is a slogan of the Houthis who are a Shia minority in Sunni Yemen. But who do the Houthis view as their mortal foes? Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, AQAP. Our enemy, too.
The crown jewel of the new “Persian Empire” is said to be Iraq. So how did the Iranian imperialists manage to acquire it? George Bush sent an army up to Baghdad, ousted Iran’s greatest enemy, Saddam, disbanded his army, smashed his state, and brought to power a Shia majority with religious and historic bonds to Iran.
A masterstroke of Bismarckian brilliance. And both parties voted in Congress to authorize it. Mission Accomplished!—as they say in Tehran. As for Damascus, Iran is but backing the Alawite Shia regime of Bashar Assad, whose father, Hafez Assad, was Bush I’s ally in Desert Storm.
As for Beirut, Hezbollah arose as a resistance movement when Ariel Sharon invaded Lebanon in 1982. Yitzhak Rabin would come to regret the consequences: “We let the Shia genie out of the bottle.”
Looking over the chaos that is the Middle East today, we see failed states in Libya, Yemen, and Syria, with Iraq and Afghanistan perhaps next. A strategic disaster, largely of our own making. But if al-Qaeda and ISIS are our real enemies now, Iran, Hezbollah, Assad, and the Houthis are all de facto allies, fighting on the same side with us.
Alarmists may see a new Persian Empire threatening all mankind.
A closer look reveals a Shia minority in a Sunni-dominated world where Shia are despised heretics. And of all the terrorist organizations we have the most reason to fear and hate—al-Qaeda, Islamic State, Ansar al-Sharia, Boko Haram—none is Shia, all are Sunni.
What about Iran’s drive to build a nuclear bomb? Well, Israel has 100-300 atom bombs. America has thousands. Iran’s Muslim neighbor Pakistan has scores. And Iran? She has no bomb.
Iran has never tested a nuclear device. She has never produced weapons-grade uranium. Her Fordow underground plant now has IAEA inspectors and its 20-percent-enriched uranium is all being diluted. Construction of the heavy-water reactor at Arak has been halted. Half of Iran’s centrifuges are not operating. There are International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors and cameras blanketing Iran’s program.
The U.S. intelligence community has twice said Iran has no nuclear bomb program. And the most recent finding, 2011, has never been reversed by the Director of National Intelligence.
And just how credible a foreign leader has Boehner invited to undercut his own president’s credibility? This is the same Bibi who told the Jewish community of Los Angeles in 2006, “It’s 1938 and Iran is Germany … racing to arm itself with atomic bombs.” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “is preparing another Holocaust for the Jewish state.” Bibi even had the war plans: ”Israel would certainly be the first stop on Iran’s tour of destruction, but at [Tehran's] planned production rate of 25 nuclear bombs a year, [the arsenal] will be directed against ‘the big Satan,’ the U.S.”
Twenty-five Iranian nuclear bombs a year! What bullhockey it all was.
Boehner seem to have concluded that new sanctions on Iran, even if it aborts negotiations and brings on a war with Iran, will be rewarded by the electorate in 2016. Perhaps. But if this is where the GOP is heading, we’ll be getting off here.
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority. Copyright 2014 Creators.com.
Following the Charlie Hebdo massacre, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that France “is at war with terrorism, jihadism and radical Islamism.” This tells us what France is fighting against.
But what is France fighting for in this war on terror? For terrorism is simply a tactic, and arguably the most effective tactic of the national liberation movements of the 20th century.
Terrorism was used by the Irgun to drive the British out of Palestine and by the Mau Mau to run them out of Kenya. Terrorism, blowing up movie theaters and cafes, was the tactic the FLN used to drive the French out of Algeria.
The FALN tried to assassinate Harry Truman in 1950 at Blair House, shot up the House of Representatives in 1954, and, in 1975, blew up Fraunces Tavern in New York where Washington had bid his officers farewell. The FALN goal: Independence from a United States that had annexed Puerto Rico as the spoils of war in its victory over Spain.
What did the FLN, FALN, Mau Mau, Irgun, and Mandela’s ANC have in common? All sought the expulsion of alien rule. All sought nations of their own. All used terrorism for the same ends as Uighurs do in China and Chechens do in the Caucasus.
Osama bin Laden, in his declaration of war upon us, listed as his casus belli the presence on the sacred soil of Saudi Arabia of U.S. troops and their “temple prostitutes.” He wanted us out of his country.
What are Valls’ terrorists, jihadists, and radical Islamists fighting for? What are the goals of ISIS and al-Qaida, Boko Haram and Ansar al-Sharia, the Taliban and al-Shabab?
All want our troops, our alien culture and our infidel faith out of their lands. All seek the overthrow of regimes that collaborate with us. And all wish to establish regimes that comport with the commands of the Prophet.
This is what they are recruiting for, killing for, dying for. We abhor their terror tactics and deplore their aims, but they know what they are fighting for. What are we fighting for?
What is our vision that will inspire Muslim masses to rise up, battle alongside us, and die fighting Islamists? What future do we envision for the Middle East? And are we willing to pay the price to achieve it?
Comes the reply: America is fighting, as always, for democracy, freedom and the right of peoples to rule themselves. But are we? If democracy is our goal, why did we not recognize the election of Hamas in the Palestinian territories, or of Hezbollah in Lebanon? Why did we condone the overthrow of the elected regime of Mohammad Morsi in Egypt? Why do we not demand democracy in Saudi Arabia?
But hypocrisy is the least of our problems. The real problem is that hundreds of millions of Muslims reject our values. They do not believe all religions are equal. They do not believe in freedom of speech or the press to blaspheme the Prophet. Majorities in many Islamic countries believe adulterers, apostates, and converts to Christianity should be lashed, stoned and beheaded.
In surveys, the Muslim world not only rejects our presence and puppets, but also our culture and beliefs. In a free referendum they would vote to throw us out of the region and throw the Israelis into the sea.
For many in the Mideast collaboration with America is a betrayal. And our presence spawns more terrorists than our drones can kill.
This week Valls conceded there are “two Frances,” adding, “A territorial, social, ethnic apartheid has spread across our country.”
Have her five million Muslims become an indigestible minority that imperils the survival of France? Have France and Europe embraced a diversity more malignant than benign, possibly leading to a future like the recent past in Palestine, Cyprus, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, and Ukraine?
T.S. Eliot said, to defeat a religion, you need a religion.
We have no religion; we have an ideology—secular democracy. But the Muslim world rejects secularism and will use democracy to free itself of us and establish regimes that please Allah.
In the struggle between democracy and Allah, we are children of a lesser God. “The term ‘democracy,’” wrote Eliot, “does not contain enough positive content to stand alone against the forces that you dislike — it can easily be transformed by them. If you will not have God … you should pay your respects to Hitler or Stalin.”
Germany used democracy to bring Hitler to power. Given free elections from Morocco to Mindanao, what kind of regimes would rise to power? Would not the Quran become the basis of law?
If Charlie Hebdo were a man, not a magazine, he would be torn to pieces in any Middle East nation into which he ventured. And what does a mindless West offer as the apotheosis of democracy?
Four million French marching under the banner “Je Suis Charlie.”
Whom the gods would destroy …
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority. Copyright 2014 Creators.com.
On Martin Luther King Day, 2015, how stand race relations in America?
“Selma,” a film focused on the police clubbing of civil rights marchers led by Dr. King at Selma bridge in March of 1965, is being denounced by Democrats as a cinematic slander against the president who passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In the movie, King is portrayed as decisive and heroic, LBJ as devious and dilatory. And no member of the “Selma” cast has been nominated for an Academy Award. All 20 of the actors and actresses nominated are white.
Hollywood is like the Rocky Mountains, says Rev. Al Sharpton, the higher up you go the whiter it gets.
Even before the “Selma” dustup, the hacking of Sony Pictures had unearthed emails between studio chief Amy Pascal and producer Scott Rudin yukking it up over President Obama’s reputed preference for films like “Django Unchained,” “12 Years a Slave,” and “The Butler.”
“Racism in Hollywood!” ran the headlines.
Pascal went to Rev. Sharpton to seek absolution, which could prove expensive. Following a 90-minute meeting, Al tweeted that he had had a “very pointed and blunt exchange” with Pascal, that her emails reveal a “cultural blindness,” that Hollywood has to change, and that Pascal has “committed to this.”
These cultural-social spats—LBJ loyalists vs. the “Selma” folks, Sharpton vs. Hollywood—are tiffs within the liberal encampment, and matters of amusement in Middle America.
More serious have been the months-long protests against police, following the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner on Staten Island, some of which have featured chants like, “What do we want? Dead Cops!” The protests climaxed with the execution in Bedford-Stuyvesant of two NYPD cops by a career criminal taking revenge for Garner and Brown.
Race relations today seem in some ways more poisonous than in 1965, when there were vast deposits of goodwill and LBJ pushed through the Voting Rights Act easily, 77-19 in the Senate and 328-74 in the House. Only two Republican Senators voted against the VRA.
But not a week after LBJ signed the Voting Rights Act, the Watts section of Los Angeles exploded in one of the worst race riots in U.S. history. After seven days of pillage and arson, there were 34 dead, 1,000 injured, 3,000 arrested, and a thousand buildings damaged or destroyed. The era of marching for civil rights was over and the era of Black Power, with Stokely Carmichael, Rap Brown, and The Black Panthers eclipsing King, had begun.
In July 1967, there were riots in Newark and Detroit that rivaled Watts in destruction. After Dr. King’s murder in Memphis in April of 1968, riots broke out in 100 more cities, including Washington, D.C. By Oct. 1, the nominee of the Democratic Party, civil rights champion Hubert Humphrey, stood at 28 percent in the Gallup poll, only 7 points ahead of Gov. George Wallace.
Though Nixon won narrowly, the Great Society endured. And in the half-century since, trillions have been spent on food stamps, housing subsidies, Head Start, student loans, Pell Grants, welfare, Medicaid, Earned Income Tax Credits, and other programs.
How did it all work out?
Undeniably, the civil right laws succeeded. Discrimination in hotels and restaurants is nonexistent. African-Americans voted in 2012 in higher percentages than white Americans. There are more black public officials in Mississippi than in any other state. In sports, entertainment, journalism, government, medicine, business, politics, and the arts, blacks may be found everywhere.
Yet the pathology of the old urban ghetto has not disappeared. In some ways, it has gotten much worse. Crime in the black community is still seven times what it is in the white community. Test scores of black students remain far below those of Asian and white students. While 40 percent of all infants are born to single moms, the illegitimacy rate in black America is over 70 percent.
Whether it is dropout rates, drug use rates, delinquency rates or incarceration rates, the rates for blacks far exceed those of white and Asian-Americans, and of immigrants and Hispanics. White households have a median family income below that of Asians, but far above that of black Americans. White households have on average $143,000 in wealth in stocks, bonds, home equity and other assets, 13 times that of the average black household.
At Howard University in 1965, LBJ declared, “We seek … not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and equality as a result.”
“Equality as a result”?
Measured by the average incomes and wealth of Asians and whites and Hispanics and blacks, we have failed. And income inequality is back again, as issue No. 1. After 50 years of affirmative action and the greatest wealth transfers in human history, “equality as a fact” has not been achieved and will not be, absent a greater seizure of power by the U.S. government and larger and virtually endless transfers of wealth.
The reports of Karl Marx’s death have been greatly exaggerated.
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority. Copyright 2014 Creators.com.
“I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it.” That maxim of Voltaire was among those most invoked by the marching millions in Sunday’s mammoth “Je Suis Charlie” rally in Paris.
This week, in the spirit of Voltaire, French authorities arrested and charged Cameroonian comedian Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala, and 54 others, with “hate speech.” Yes, Monsieur Voltaire, there are limits to free speech in France.
Dieudonne’s crime? He tweeted, “I am Charlie Coulibaly,” the last name of the killer of four innocent Jews in that kosher market. A wounding wicked remark. And what are now the limits of free speech in France?
Prime Minister Manuel Vals lists four. “There is a fundamental difference between the freedom to be impertinent and anti-Semitism, racism, glorification of terrorist acts, and Holocaust denial, all of which are crimes, that justice should punish with the most severity.”
Vals’ list brings to mind another quote of Voltaire’s, “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” Why did Vals not include slanders against Catholicism and Islam, the world’s largest religions, both of which have been repeatedly insulted by Charlie Hebdo? In the banlieues north of Paris, they wish to know.
Pope Francis himself said yesterday, “You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. … If my good friend Dr. Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch.” Is our new Pope offering preemptive dispensations to Catholics who sock those who mock their faith? That’s pre-Vatican II thinking.
Back to Vals’ list. Who decides what is “anti-Semitism” and what is “racism”? In America, these terms are tossed around with abandon.
As for the “glorification of terrorist acts,” Israel’s Menachem Begin, the ANC’s Nelson Mandela, and the PLO’s Yasser Arafat were all credibly charged with acts of terrorism in their liberation struggles. And all three won the Nobel Prize for Peace.
Millions of Algerians reside in France. Is it impermissible for them to celebrate the FLN in Algeria and the often-terrible deeds that won their independence? Algerians did not fight the French in stand-up battles, but rather with bombs in cafes and movie theaters.
Did not the maquisards and French Resistance, during and after the Nazi occupation, exact savage reprisals, of which some in France are today ashamed? Who decides which historical events are off-limits for debate?
Even before the Paris march, Vals had declared “war against terrorism, against jihadism, against radical Islam, against everything that is aimed at breaking fraternity, freedom, solidarity.” But does not the renewed publication of cartoons that insult the Prophet undermine the fraternity and solidarity of French Muslims, Christians, and secularists in Val’s war on terrorism?
Has Charlie Hebdo really helped to unite the West and the Islamic world in the “war … against jihadism, against radical Islam”? Or has it divided us?
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, our ally who ousted the Muslim Brotherhood, killed hundreds, and imprisoned thousands, just issued a decree allowing him to ban foreign publications offensive to Islam. Why might President Sissi regard Charlie Hebdo as toxic?
According to a 2013 Pew Poll, 80 percent of Egyptians favor the stoning of adulterers and 88 percent the death penalty for apostates. The figures are comparable for Afghanistan, Pakistan, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories. Across the Middle East, majorities favor the adoption of sharia law. Many support beheadings, stonings, the lash, and amputations of limbs for lesser offenses.
What do these polls tell us?
First, if we insist that freedom of the press means standing behind the blasphemies of Charlie Hebdo, we should anticipate the hatred and hostility of majorities in the Islamic world to whom faith and family are everything—and our First Amendment is nothing.
Second, the idea that, by sending armies of Americans into that part of the world for a decade or two, we could convert these peoples, steeped in a 1,500-year-old faith, to share our embrace of religious, cultural and moral pluralism, and secularism was utopian madness.
Third, as Islamic peoples grow in number and militancy, while the peoples of Europe age and pass on, and the migrants continue to come from the Maghreb and Middle East, Europe will have to adapt to Muslim demands or face endless civil and cultural conflict on the Old Continent.
The moral befuddlement in France mirrors that of the West.
In welcoming the return to the newsstands of Charlie Hebdo, with a cartoon mocking the Prophet on its cover, President Hollande said, “You can murder men and women, but you can never kill their ideas.” True. And anti-Islamism is an idea. As is the “radical Islam” against which France has declared war.
And which of the two ideas appears today to have more adherents willing not only to march for it on Sundays, but to die for it?
Western media are declaring the million-man march in Paris, where world leaders paraded down Boulevard Voltaire in solidarity with France, a victory over terrorism. Isn’t it pretty to think so.
Unfortunately, the massacre at Charlie Hebdo, its military-style execution, the escape of the assassins, and their blazing end in a shootout Friday was a triumph of terrorism not seen since 9/11.
Unlike the Boston Marathon bombing where the Tsarnaevs did not know or care whom they maimed or killed, the attack on Charlie Hebdo by the Kouachi brothers was purposeful and targeted terrorism. And like a flash of lightning in the dark, it exposed the moral contradictions and confusion of the West.
During the slaughter the Kouachis shouted “Allahu akbar,” said they had “avenged the Prophet,” and spoke of ties to al-Qaeda.
And the first response of President Francois Hollande? These terrorists “have nothing to do with the Muslim religion.” This is political correctness of a rare order. Perhaps terminal.
Linking arms with Hollande in solidarity and unity Sunday was Bibi Netanyahu who declared, “I wish to tell to all French and European Jews — Israel is your home.” Colleagues urged French Jews to flee to Israel. Marching on the other side of Hollande was Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas who seeks to have Netanyahu’s Israel indicted in the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Gaza. Solidarity!
In chanting “Je Suis Charlie,” the marchers showed support for a magazine French Muslims rightly believe is racist and anti-Islamic. Yet, Marine Le Pen, leading in the polls for the French presidency, was blacklisted from marching for remarks about Muslim immigration that are benign compared to what Charlie Hebdo regularly publishes.
All weekend long, journalists called it an imperative for us all to defend the lewd and lurid blasphemies of the satirical magazine. But as journalist Christopher Dickey points out, Muslims in the banlieues wonder why insulting the Prophet is a protected freedom in France, while denying the Holocaust can get you a prison term.
Hypocrisy is indeed the tribute that vice pays to virtue.
Moreover, all this chatter about freedom of speech and of the press misses the point. It was not the right to publish that provoked the slaughter, but the content of what was published. When Aaron Burr challenged Alexander Hamilton to a duel, and killed him, he was not attacking the First Amendment freedom of the press, but rather Hamilton, for defamation of Burr’s character, which had helped to destroy Burr’s career.
What the commentators seem to be saying about the assault on Charlie Hebdo is that not only is what is spoken or published protected by the First Amendment, but those who print and publish vile things must never suffer violent consequences.
People who believe this is attainable are living in a dream world, and may not be long for this one. Even as children you knew there were words you did not use about someone else’s girlfriend, mother, family, faith, or race, if you did not want a thrashing.
That same day millions marched in France, Saudi Arabia was administering 50 lashes to blogger Raif Badawi convicted of insulting Saudi clergy, the first of 1,000 lashes over 20 weeks in addition to his 10-year jail sentence. Had Badawi been guilty of apostasy, he would have been executed.
Welcome to the new Middle East, same as the old Middle East.
And Islam and the Prophet were not the only targets of Charlie Hebdo. Catholicism was also. In one cartoon, Charlie Hebdo depicts the First and Second Persons of the Blessed Trinity in incestuous activity. And we all are supposed to march in solidarity with that?
A liberal secular West might find this a democratic duty. Not all will. When people are using the First Amendment to assault the somewhat older Second Commandment, “Though shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain,” they should not be surprised when devout followers of Abrahamic faiths take a pass.
These Islamic terrorists are sending us a message: In the post-Christian West, Christians may turn the other cheek at insults to their God and faith. We are not turn-the-other cheek people. Insult our faith, mock the Prophet, and we kill you.
An awakening and rising Islamic world—a more militant faith than Christianity or secularism—is saying to the West: We want you out of our part of the world, and we are coming to your part of the world, and you cannot stop us.
And Francois Hollande’s response? Show solidarity with Islam by ostracizing Marine Le Pen. This is the true heir of Edouard Daladier of Munich fame.
The Kouachi brothers sent yet another message.
If you are a young Muslim willing to fight and die for Islam, do not waste your life as some suicide bomber in the wilds of Syria or Iraq. Do as we did; shock and awe your enemies right inside the belly of the beast.
The massacre in Paris of the staff of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo was an act of terrorism, but also a successful act of war in the clash of civilizations between Islamism and the West. Nor were we lacking for warning signs.
In 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, a license to kill author Salman Rushdie for his anti-Muslim novel Satanic Verses. Danish cartoons of the Prophet with his turban in the shape of a bomb caused riots across the Middle East. Charlie Hebdo published them. The vulgarian Theo Van Gogh was carved up alive on a street in Amsterdam for insulting Islam in his 10-minute film “Submission.”
Have we not known that millions of Muslims now take their faith so seriously they will die for it, and kill for it? Mock and insult Islam, ridicule and lampoon the Prophet, and you risk your life. The editor and cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo knew this. Their offices had been firebombed. They had guards. There was a combination lock on their office doors.
Shocked by the slaughter, we of the West have been reasserting our belief in freedom of speech and freedom of the press. ”Je Suis Charlie!” read the signs at the Paris demonstration for Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday night—”I am Charlie.”
One sees no such banners in the Islamic world. Regimes there may deplore terrorism in Paris, but no one weeps for Charlie Hebdo. For across that region, Islamism is rising, churches are being burned, and the remaining Christians are fleeing into exile. In Afghanistan, at the peak of the U.S. presence, a Muslim convert to Christianity was threatened with death and had to leave his own country in fear of his life.
If there is one goal that unites Boko Haram in Nigeria, al-Shabab in Somalia, al-Qaeda in the Maghreb and Arabian Peninsula, ISIS in Syria and Iraq, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, it is to cleanse their societies of non-believers and Westerners.
The journalistic freedom to trash Islam and the moral imperative to advance gay rights may be sacred causes in Europe. But one should probably put them on the back burner when crossing the Med. The differences between a liberal secularized Europe and the Islamic world are irreconcilable. And it is their world, not ours, that is growing in numbers, militancy, converts, crusaders, and confidence.
Yet, what was German Chancellor Angela Merkel bewailing in her New Year’s message? Islamophobia.
Demonstrations in Dresden against the 200,000 asylum seekers who entered Germany from an inflamed Middle East last year, and the difficulty of assimilating them and the four million Muslims already in Germany have ignited weekly protests. Do not go to these rallies of Pegida—Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West—railed Merkel, for their organizers have “prejudice, coldness, even hatred in their hearts.”
Immigration is a “gift for all of us,” said Merkel.
Merkel’s attack on rising anti-immigrant sentiment in Germany was echoed on New Year’s by President Francois Hollande who denounced the “dangerous” stances of the National Front of Marine Le Pen. In presidential polls in France, Le Pen is now running first.
Instead of demonizing the right, Merkel and Hollande and other leaders of Europe, if they do not wish to be swept away, ought to ask themselves: Why have these populist and anti-immigrant movements exploded on the continent in recent years at their expense? Europe’s elites appear frozen in a dead past, addicted to an idea of Europeans inexorably melding into a single economic and political entity, like the United States, to become the model for the world.
They seem in denial of the new realities exploding on the continent. Scots, Basque, Catalans, Bretons, Corsicans, Flemish, and Piedmontese now want to separate from the nations to which they have belonged for generations; parties like the UK Independence Party as well as the National Front want out of the European Union.
In Central and Eastern Europe, the autocratic nationalism of Vladimir Putin is being cheered by many of these emerging parties. In Greece, the leftist Syriza Party appears on the precipice of taking power this month. What unites and propels it is hostility to austerity policies imposed by a German-dominated eurozone. The same animosities spawned Podemos in Spain. Rebellion against the idea of One Europe is rampant.
Europeans are asking direct questions of their governments, and demanding answers:
Why, when our own economics are stagnant, do we need all these new immigrants with whom we have little in common?
Why are we altering the identity of our people and nation?
What gain is there for our countries by bringing in more Arabs, Muslims, and Africans to swamp our native-born and remake our nations in their image rather than our own?
Often, the response to such questions from governments in Berlin, Paris, London, and Madrid is to call the defectors xenophobes, racists, neo-fascists, and Nazis. The name-calling is no longer working.
For the third time, the cops of the NYPD have turned their backs on the mayor of New York.
The first time was when Mayor Bill de Blasio arrived at Woodhull Hospital where mortally wounded officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu had been taken on Dec. 20. The second was when the mayor spoke at Ramos’ funeral. The third was at Liu’s service on Sunday.
Detestation of de Blasio among the NYPD and the cops who came from across the country to stand in solidarity with their slain brothers is broad and deep. And, in a way, de Blasio served as stand-in for Al Sharpton, Eric Holder, and President Obama. For all four gave aid and comfort to the war on cops that has raged since Ferguson last August when Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed an 18-year-old who tried to grab his gun.
When a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict the NYPD’s Daniel Pantaleo in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, after the 350-pound black man, suffering from heart disease, diabetes, and asthma, died resisting arrest, the war on cops went viral and national.
De Blasio, Sharpton, Holder, and Obama were all out on point saying that blacks, especially young black males, were all too often victimized by racist cops. And black kids needed to be taught that.
Brimming with moral outrage, protesters took to the streets, blocked Times Square and Grand Central, disrupted Macy’s during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, and shut down malls, highways, and bridges across the country. Though their lawlessness was rampant and their chants bespoke a hatred of police, who were compared to the KKK by marchers yelling for “dead cops,” these protests were indulged and described as “peaceful.”
So it was that on Dec. 20 a deranged criminal decided to make himself famous by putting “wings on pigs” and executing Ramos and Liu in Bedford-Stuyvesant as payback for Garner and Brown.
Suddenly, the real America revealed itself, an America enraged at the cold-blooded assassinations of cops and disgusted with those who had pandered to anti-police protesters. And the America that revealed itself is not good news for the Democratic Party.
For we have seen this movie before, half a century ago.
After LBJ’s victory over Barry Goldwater came the riots of the 1960s—Watts in 1965, Newark and Detroit in 1967, and 100 cities, including D.C., after Dr. King’s assassination in 1968.
These riots produced deaths, thousands of arrests, and looting and arson on a scale requiring the National Guard and federal troops. And these rampages were perhaps the principal factor in turning Middle America against a Democratic Party that had been the nation’s majority party since 1932.
In 1964, LBJ won 61 percent of the vote. Four years later, his vice president, Hubert Humphrey, got less than 43 percent.
What happened? A civil war had taken place inside the Democratic coalition, not unlike what is going on now. Today’s conflict, though not nearly so violent, is daily nationalized by cable and the Internet.
All of America watched what happened in Ferguson night after night, and saw the aftermath of what happened on Staten Island, and observed what happened Dec. 20 and then at those funerals. Americans began openly and viscerally to take sides.
And from the new defensiveness of de Blasio and the muted responses of Sharpton, Holder, and Obama, there is no doubt who has lost this battle. A sundered America is siding with the cops and turning against those who turned on the cops.
Something like this happened in Chicago in August 1968: Police, after constant provocation by foul-mouthed radicals, chased them down, clubbed them, and arrested them in Grant Park. The networks and national media denounced a “police riot” and liberal Democratic Sen. Abe Ribicoff said Mayor Richard J. Daley’s cops had used “Gestapo tactics in the streets of Chicago.”
When the dust settled, however, America, to the amazement of the elites, had come down on the side of the cops, not “the kids.”
That America gave Nixon and Wallace 57 percent of its votes.
The political point: In the 1960s, both George Wallace and LBJ were Democrats. Mayor Daley and the radicals cursing his cops were Democrats. The students who took over Berkeley and Columbia, and the deans and professors whose offices they trashed, were all liberal or leftist Democrats.
The ’60s wars over social, moral, and cultural issues were bloody scrimmages on the home field of the Democratic Party.
So it is today. Whether the issue is income inequality or the evil of Wall Street, police brutality or black criminality, the hostility and anger among Democrats over these issues makes the Tea Party vs. the GOP establishment look like a badminton tournament on the country club lawn.
“If you see 10 troubles coming down the road, you can be sure that nine will run into the ditch before they reach you,” said Calvin Coolidge, whose portrait hung in the Cabinet Room of the Reagan White House. Among the dispositions shared by the two conservatives was a determination to stay out of other people’s wars.
Peering into 2015, there are wars into which our interventionists are eager to plunge that represent no immediate or grave threat to us.
One is the war the Islamic State group is waging in Syria and Iraq, a menace so great, we are told, it may require U.S. ground troops. But why? Syria and Iraq are 5,000 miles away. And because of its barbarism and incompetence, the Islamic State is losing support in the Sunni lands it now occupies.
The Kurds have halted the group’s advance toward Irbil, Iraq. Shiite militias, no friends of ours, have halted its advance toward Baghdad. The Islamic State is under steady drone and air attack by the U.S. and Arab allies. Iran is providing men and materiel to Damascus and Baghdad in their battle against the group. Now the Turks and Gulf Arabs, including the Saudis, appear to have awakened to the threat and are weighing in against the Islamic State.
Why not let them do the fighting?
By staying out of the two world wars of the 20th century until the other great powers were fully engaged and horribly bled, America emerged triumphant with the fewest casualties and least damage. That used to be called statesmanship.
Moreover, compared with Nazi Germany, imperial Japan, Stalin’s USSR and Mao’s China, the Islamic State doesn’t even make the “JV,” to use Barack Obama’s term.
Last month, the drums were beating for an attack on North Korea for what Sen. John McCain called a “new form of warfare” and what Sen. Lindsey Graham called “cyberterrorism” aided by China. In “A Reply to Kim’s Cyberterrorism,” the Wall Street Journal urged a “forceful response” to deter “future attacks.” Swiftly, there followed the crashing of North Korea’s Internet system.
Query: If reports are true that Sony Pictures was hacked by ticked-off ex-employees yet North Korea’s Internet was brought down by a U.S. cyberattack, who is the cyberterrorist now? Perhaps some of those Iranian technicians in Natanz who watched their centrifuges breaking down and blowing up from the Stuxnet virus have some thoughts on this.
But the most determined push for war in 2015 will come from neocons and interventionists who want a U.S.-Putin confrontation and regime change in Russia. And as Russia has a nuclear arsenal to match our own, this is a matter of real gravity. Because of U.S.-EU sanctions on Russia for its role in Ukraine and the collapse in the price of oil, Russia’s principal export, the ruble has lost half its value, and the economy faces a contraction of 5 percent in 2015.
Real hardships lie ahead for the Russian people. But it seems they are not blaming Vladimir Putin for their troubles. They are blaming us.
“According to the respected Moscow ‘Levada Center,’ which measures political sentiment in Russian society,” the New York Observer reports, “74 percent of Russians have negative feelings towards the USA. … In the 1990s, 80 percent had positive attitude toward America.
“Currently, 76 percent of Russians hate Obama personally and only a meager 2 percent like him. … These are the maximum peaks of anti-American feelings in Russia in years. … Just last week Visa and MasterCard completely stopped their operations in Crimea, leaving more than 2 million people there without access to their money.”
One Moscow supermarket is using American flags as doormats, and customers are wiping their feet on them.
Before going home, Congress voted to levy new sanctions on Russia and authorized U.S. lethal weapons to be sent to Kiev to enable Ukraine to retake Luhansk and Donetsk and perhaps Crimea. Obama signed the bill.
With Republican hawks taking over all congressional committees dealing with foreign and defense policy, peace and war, in the new year, there will be a competitive clamor that Obama send the guns to Kiev.
And what happens then?
Will Putin abandon the rebels and face the rage of the Russian people for backing down? Will Putin wait for the U.S. anti-tank weapons and ammunition to arrive and be sent to eastern Ukraine? Or will Putin, a decisive sort, send in the Russian army before the U.S. weapons arrive, hive off a land bridge to Crimea—and maybe more for bartering purposes—and call Obama’s bluff?
In his New Year’s message to the Russian people, Putin hailed the annexation of Crimea as an achievement that will “forever remain a landmark in the national history.” Doesn’t sound as if he’ll be giving Crimea up any time soon.
“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future,” said the wise Yogi Berra. But one prediction seems not too risky.
Either Obama and Putin enter negotiations over Ukraine or the war in Ukraine, with 4,700 dead since April, gets bigger and wider.
In July of 1870, King Wilhelm sent Foreign Minister Bismarck an account of his meeting with a French envoy who had demanded that the king renounce any Hohenzollern claim to the Spanish throne.
Bismarck edited the report to make it appear the Frenchman had insulted the king, and that Wilhelm rudely dismissed him. The Ems Telegram precipitated the Franco-Prussian war Bismarck wanted.
Words matter. And if a picture is worth a thousand words, how much greater impact can a motion picture have? We are finding out.
Egypt has banned “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” the $140 million 20th Century Fox biblical epic. Cairo’s culture minister Gaber Asfour condemns it as “a Zionist film” containing “historical inaccuracies.” The depiction of enslaved Jews building the pyramids and Moses parting the Red Sea to enable the Jews to flee and drown the Egyptian army is false, says Asfour. Historians date the pyramids to around 2540 B.C., 500 years before Abraham, the father of Judaism.
Paramount’s “Noah” was banned in Egypt, Indonesia and Malaysia, for taking liberties with the Quran.
Islamabad is in an uproar over the Showtime series, “Homeland,” where Pakistani intelligence services are portrayed as colluding with Islamists trying to kill ex-CIA director Saul Berenson and station chief Carrie Mathison. In the season’s final episodes, the U.S. cuts ties to Pakistan and closes the embassy.
The Showtime series “maligns a country that has been a close partner and ally of the U.S.,” a Pakistani embassy spokesman told the New York Post, and “is a disservice not only to the security interests of the U.S., but also to the people of the U.S.”
The 2014 “Homeland” finale was aired just after 140 Pakistani school kids were massacred in Peshawar by the Taliban.
Islamabad is “a quiet picturesque city with beautiful mountains and lush greenery,” said one Pakistani, yet is “portrayed as a grimy hellhole and war zone where shootouts and bombings go off with dead bodies scattered around. Nothing is further from the truth.”
Angrier than Egypt or Pakistan is North Korea over Sony’s “The Interview.” Why would a film company owned by the Japanese, who are not beloved in Korea, think it would be a great fun to make a comedy out of a CIA plot to assassinate North Korea’s head of state?
The North Koreans are serious people. They massacred half of the South Korean cabinet in the Rangoon bombing. They have brought down airliners and sunk warships without warning. They have plotted to assassinate South Korea’s president.
Their megalomaniac ruler, Kim Jong-Un, just had his uncle-mentor executed, along with his family. Kim has atom bombs and seeks to miniaturize them to put atop missiles able to reach the United States.
He is the most erratic and dangerous ruler on the planet and this assassination-comedy is just the thing to set him off.
Says Adam Cathcart, a North Korea expert at Leeds University, “In North Korea it’s more or less a fait accompli that the Americans are trying to kill our leader.” To sustain its Stalinist dynasty, says the Washington Post, Pyongyang has created a “personality cult that is anything but a laughing matter.”
In retaliation for “The Interview,” North Korea, says the FBI, hacked into Sony’s computers, published confidential emails and threatened retaliation against any who showed the film.
The North has repeatedly denied it hacked into Sony. But it now appears the U.S. has retaliated by disrupting Internet service in North Korea, much to the cheers of the War Party, which wants President Obama to put the Hermit Kingdom back on the list of state sponsors of terror.
North Korea is now using racial slurs to describe Obama.
There is an aspect of reckless immaturity here.
While the Wall Street Journal thinks it would be fun to send DVDs of “The Interview” by balloon into the North, the Washington Post says possession of the film there would be regarded as treasonous, and could bring a death sentence.
No one denies Sony the right to produce a comedy about blowing up Kim Jong Un. Nor was anyone denying theaters or Internet sites the right to show it. What Sony seemed to want was to produce a movie that made the assassination of a dictator appear hilarious, but to be exempt from any consequences.
But we live in a world today where if you produce cartoons of the Prophet with a bomb for a turban, or disparage Islam in videos, books or movies, you can get yourself and others killed.
Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh was butchered in Amsterdam by an enraged Muslim for “Submission,” a 10-minute film that excoriated Islam’s treatment of women.
In this weekend’s Washington Post, Joe Califano, a confidant of President Johnson, writes of how the new film “Selma” demeans LBJ’s crucial role in enacting the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
To enrich itself, Hollywood is playing games with religious beliefs and historical truths — and making enemies, not all of whom believe in turning the other cheek.