The fall of Ramadi, capital of Anbar, largest province in Iraq, after a rout of the Iraqi army by a few hundred ISIS fighters using bomb-laden trucks, represents a stunning setback for U.S. policy.
When President Obama declared that we shall “degrade and defeat” the Islamic State, he willed the ends, but not the means. The retreat from Ramadi makes clear that the Iraqi army, even backed by 3,000 U.S. troops, cannot drive ISIS out of Anbar and Mosul and back into Syria. Baghdad cannot alone reunite Iraq.
Republicans are almost gleeful in charging that Obama’s withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq created the vacuum the Islamic State has now filled. Blaming Obama for ISIS in Iraq is shaping up to be the 2016 GOP attack line. But when it comes to the critical question—do Republicans favor reintroducing U.S. ground troops to retake Ramadi and Mosul and drive ISIS back into Syria?—no credible GOP presidential candidate is clamoring for a return to Mesopotamia.
None of the mice wants to bell that particular cat.
Yet, absent American leadership and U.S. troops, who is going to expel the Islamic State? The only forces in Iraq able to attempt that are the Shiite militias whose sectarian barbarity is exceeded only by that of ISIS itself. For the Sunnis of Anbar to be liberated by Shiite militias is like the Catholic Poles being liberated by the Red Army in 1945. Many Sunnis fear a rescue by Shiite militias more than they do the domination of the Islamic State.
America’s choices in Iraq, none good, come down to these:
One: Reintroduce 10,000 ground troops and Marines to retake Ramadi and Anbar, and thousands more to retake Mosul and cleanse Iraq of ISIS. Another surge, like 2007. Yet that does not solve the problem of the Islamic State, which would retreat to Syria and wait for the Americans to leave Iraq again.
Two: Adopt a policy of degrade-and-contain by continuing air strikes on the Islamic State in Iraq, while training and backing the Iraqi army and Kurds in keeping ISIS out of Baghdad and Irbil.
Three: Accept the inevitable—that the Shiite-led Iraq we created by dethroning Saddam and smashing his Baathist state and army is going to be in the orbit of Iran. For we cannot now, without a major and indefinite reintroduction of U.S. forces, alter the existing balance of military and political power in Iraq.
Before the United States replicates the epochal blunder Bush II and the neocons committed, we should look hard at the realities of Iraq and the region, as we failed to do before we invaded.
The relevant realities are these.
First, the Iraqis are incapable of reuniting and pacifying their country themselves. To hold Iraq together and keep it out of Iran’s sphere would require a large and indefinite presence of U.S. forces. How much more American blood and treasure is that worth?
Second, while the reintroduction of U.S. ground forces may be cheered by our Western allies, no NATO troops will be there beside us. As far as the West is concerned, Iraq is America’s problem.
Nor will the Turks, Jordanians, Saudis, or Gulf Arabs be sending troops to fight ISIS in Iraq or Syria. For them, the greater long-term dangers are: Iran, Hezbollah, Bashar Assad’s Syria, Shiite Baghdad, and the Houthi rebels of Yemen, the so-called Shiite Crescent.
Another reality is that neither Syria, nor Iraq, nor Libya, nor Yemen is likely, soon, to be brought together as a unified nation-state under a government supported by a great majority of its people. Any regimes that rise in the capitals of these four nations seem certain to be seen by a significant slice of the population as illegitimate, and valid targets for revolutionary violence.
The Middle East is becoming a basket of failed states. And as we look around that region, every country is looking out for No. 1.
The Turks looked the other way as volunteers entered Syria to join ISIS. The Turks then let Kurds cross into Syria to keep ISIS out of Kobane. Now, according to Assad, the Turks are aiding al-Qaida (the Nusra Front) in establishing its own caliphate in Idlib. The Saudis and Gulf Arabs also, says Assad, aided the Nusra Front in taking Idlib.
And what of us? Considering the millions of dead, wounded, uprooted, homeless, sick and suffering, American-born and native-born, have our wars and bombings in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen been, on balance, more a blessing than a curse to the people we went to help?
Before we plunge back into these Middle East wars from which, at long last, we have begun to extricate ourselves, we ought to recall the words of that anonymous U.S. officer in Vietnam: “We had to destroy the village — in order to save it.”
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority. Copyright 2015 Creators.com.
As Middle America rises in rage against “fast track” and the mammoth Obamatrade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Wall Street Journal has located the source of the malady.
Last Monday’s lead editorial began: ”Here we go again. In the 1990s Pat Buchanan launched a civil war within the Republican Party on a platform targeting immigration and trade. Some claimed Pitchfork Pat was the future of the GOP, though in the end he mainly contributed to its presidential defeats.”
But, woe is us, “the GOP’s Buchanan wing is making a comeback.”
Now it is true that, while Nixon and Reagan won 49-state landslides and gave the GOP five victories in six presidential contests, the party has fallen upon hard times. Only once since 1988 has a Republican presidential nominee won the popular vote. But was this caused by following this writer’s counsel? Or by the GOP listening to the deceptions of its Davos-Doha-Journal wing?
In the 1990s, this writer and allies in both parties fought NAFTA, GATT, and MFN for China. The Journal and GOP establishment ran with Bill and Hillary and globalization. And the fruits of their victory?
Between 2000 and 2010, 55,000 U.S. factories closed and 5 million to 6 million manufacturing jobs disappeared. Columnist Terry Jeffrey writes that, since 1979, the year of maximum U.S. manufacturing employment, “The number of jobs in manufacturing has declined by 7,231,000 — or 37 percent.”
Does the Journal regard this gutting of the greatest industrial base the world had ever seen, which gave America an independence no republic had ever known, an acceptable price of its New World Order?
Beginning in 1991, traveling the country and visiting plant after plant that was shutting down or moving to Asia or Mexico, some of us warned that this economic treason against America’s workers would bring about political retribution. And so it came to pass. Since 1988, a free-trade Republican Party has not once won Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, or Wisconsin in a presidential election. Ohio, the other great Midwest industrial state, is tipping. The Reagan Democrats are gone. Who cast them aside? You or us?
Since the early 1990s, we have run $3 billion to $4 billion in trade deficits with China. Last year’s was $325 billion, or twice China’s defense budget. Are not all those factories, jobs, investment capital, and consumer dollars pouring into China a reason why Beijing has been able to build mighty air and naval fleets, claim sovereignty over the South and East China seas, fortify reefs 1,000 miles south of Hainan Island, and tell the U.S. Navy to back off?
The Journal accuses us of being anti-growth. But as trade surpluses add to a nation’s GDP, trade deficits subtract from it. Does the Journal think our $11 trillion in trade deficits since 1992 represents a pro-growth policy?
On immigration, this writer did campaign on securing the border in 1991-92, when there were 3 million illegal immigrants in the United States. But the Bush Republicans refused to seal the border. Now there are 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants and the issue is tearing the party apart. Now everybody is for “secure borders.”
We did urge a “moratorium” on legal immigration, such as America had from 1924 to 1965, to assimilate and Americanize the millions who had come. The Journal Republicans called that xenophobia. Since then, tens of millions of immigrants, here legally and illegally, mostly from the Third World, have arrived. Economically, they consume more in tax dollars than they contribute. Politically, most belong to ethnic groups that vote between 70 and 90 percent Democratic. Their children will bury the GOP.
Consider California, which voted for Nixon all five times he was on a national ticket and for Reagan in landslides all four times he ran. Since 1988, California has not gone Republican in a single presidential election. No Republican holds statewide office. Both U.S. Senators are Democrats. Democrats have 39 of 53 U.S. House seats. Republican state legislators are outnumbered 2-to-1.
Americans of European descent, who provide the GOP with 90 percent of its presidential vote, are down to 63 percent of the nation and falling. By 2042, they will be a minority. And there goes the GOP.
Lest we forget, the “Buchanan wing” also opposed the invasion of Iraq while the Journal-War Party wing howled, “Onto Baghdad!” ”Unpatriotic Conservatives,” we were called in a cover story by a neocon National Review for saying the war was unnecessary and unwise. Now, a dozen years after the “cakewalk” war, GOP candidates like Marco Rubio and Bush III are trying to figure out what it was all about, Alfie, and what they would have done, had they only known.
Our agenda in that decade was—stay out of wars that are not our business, economic patriotism, secure borders, and America first.
The foreign debt and de-industrialization of America, the trillion-dollar wars and the chaos of the Middle East, the shortened life span of the Party of Reagan, that’s your doing, fellas, not ours.
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.
Jeb Bush has spent the week debating with himself over whether he would have started the war his brother launched on Iraq. When he figures it out, hopefully, our would-be president will focus in on the campaign to drag us into yet another Mideast war—this time to bring down Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria.
While few would mourn the passing of the Assad dynasty, there is a problem: If Assad falls, a slaughter of Christians will follow and the battle for control of Damascus will be between the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, the Nusra Front, and the crazed terrorists of the Islamic State. Victory for either would be a disaster for America.
Where is the evidence of an unholy alliance to bring this about?
Turkey, which turned a blind eye to ISIS volunteers slipping into Syria, has aided the Nusra Front in setting up its own capital in Idlib, near the Turkish border, to rival the ISIS capital of Raqqa. In the fall of Idlib, said Bashar Assad, “the main factor was the huge support that came through Turkey; logistic support, and military support, and of course financial support that came through Saudi Arabia and Qatar.”
Why would Turks, Saudis, and Qataris collude with Sunni jihadists? Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan detests Assad. The Saudis and Gulf Arabs are terrified of Shiite Iran and see any ally of Tehran, such as Assad, as their mortal enemy. This also explains the seven weeks of savage Saudi bombing of the Houthi rebels, who dumped over a U.S.-Saudi puppet in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, then seized the second and third cities of Taiz and Aden.
But while the Houthis bear no love for us, they have been fighting al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Thus, the Saudi bombing has given AQAP, the most dangerous terrorist foe we face, freedom to create sanctuaries and liberate hundreds of fellow terrorists from prison.
The Israelis seem to be in on the game as well. While they have taken in rebels wounded on the Golan Heights and returned them to their units, there are reports of Israel aiding the Nusra Front with intelligence and even air strikes.
This week, an Israeli official bluntly warned that Hezbollah has amassed 100,000 short-range rockets capable of striking northern Israel, thousands of which could hit Tel Aviv. The rockets are said to be hidden in Shiite villages in southern Lebanon. Israel is preparing, writes the New York Times‘ Isabel Kershner, “for what it sees as an almost inevitable next battle with Hezbollah.”
As Hezbollah has been the most effective fighting ally of Assad, an Israeli war on Hezbollah could help bring Assad down. But, again, who rises if Assad falls? And who else, besides Christians and Alawites, starts digging their graves?
As one might expect, Sen. Lindsey Graham is all in. Late in April, he declared, “Assad has to go. … We’re going to have to send some of our soldiers back into the Middle East.” Graham is willing to commit 10,000 U.S. ground troops. ”I would integrate our forces within a regional army. There is no other way to defend this nation than some of us being on the ground over there doing the fighting.”
Wednesday, the Washington Post laid out the game plan for war on Syria. While we cannot create a NATO with kings, emirs, sheiks, and sultans, says the Post,
[T]here is a way that Mr. Obama could serve both the U.S. interests and those of the Gulf allies: by attacking the Middle East’s most toxic, and destabilizing force, the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. Syria’s dictatorship is Iran’s closest ally in the region, and its barbarity opened the way for the rise of the Islamic State. Recently, it has suffered battlefield reverses, in part because of increased Gulf aid to rebel forces.
If Mr. Obama were to … create safe zones in northern and southern Syria for the rebels, the balance could be tipped against Damascus and Tehran — and U.S. allies would have tangible reason to recommit to U.S. leadership.
Consider what is being recommended here. The Post wants Obama to bomb a Syrian nation that has not attacked us, without congressional authorization—to aid rebels whose most effective fighters are al-Qaeda and ISIS terrorists. And we’re to fight this war—to mollify ultra-rich but unhappy Gulf Arabs?
Obama must also “do more about Iranian aggression,” says the Post. But against whom is Iran committing aggression? In Syria, Iran is backing a regime we recognized until a few years ago, that is under attack by terrorist rebels we detest. In Iraq, Iran is backing the government we support, against ISIS rebels we detest.
Bottom line: A U.S. attack on Syria is being pushed by the War Party to propel us into a confrontation with Iran, and thereby torpedo any U.S. nuclear deal with Iran.
Cui bono? For whose benefit?
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.
David Cameron is the most successful Tory Party leader since Margaret Thatcher. Yet history may also record that his success led to the crackup of his country, and Great Britain’s secession from the European Union.
How did Cameron’s Tories capture their majority?
First, they compiled a strong record to run on. More critically, they attacked the Labour Party of Ed Miliband as too far left to govern, and warned that a Labour government would be hostage to a secessionist Scottish National Party, without whose votes Miliband could never reach a majority in Parliament. Labour could not shake off the charge, because it was true.
The attack on the SNP as a subversive party secretly allied with Labour had an ancillary benefit for the Tories. It helped produce a SNP sweep of all but three of Scotland’s 59 seats. The Labour Party was virtually wiped out in Scotland, its northern bastion. How Labour recovers from this amputation is hard to see.
What does this portend for the United Kingdom?
To keep Scotland within the UK, Cameron has promised a “devolution” of tax and spending powers to the Scottish Parliament. But this will not be enough. For the Scots are going to be forced to sit in Westminster for five years and watch a Tory prime minister, acting on Tory principles, gut the social welfare state in which they believe. And, with Labour, the SNP will be helpless to stop it. This situation seems certain to stir Scottish demands for a new referendum on independence, which would have a far better chance of succeeding than the last one—it lost 45-55.
What does the SNP want? Retention of the social welfare state, British nuclear missile subs out of Scottish bases and Scotland out of the U.K. But Scottish nationalism is certain to generate a countervailing English nationalism.
Scotland’s demand for a divorce may soon find an echo in England. Which brings us to the party that won 13 percent of the vote, three times the SNP total, but only a single seat in Parliament.
This is the United Kingdom Independence Party, whose populist leader Nigel Farage resigned when he failed to win a seat of his own. Nevertheless, the UKIP and the anti-EU Tories, some of whom sit in Cameron’s cabinet, have been promised a national referendum on secession from the EU by 2017.
Consider how the interests of these parties will push them all toward an England that is free of the EU and of Scotland both. Unhappy with Tory policies, yet unable to alter them, the Scots are likely to create conflicts in Parliament that strengthen the forces of secession. Former SNP leader Alex Salmond, who won a seat in the Parliament, is promising it.
As for the Tories, with Scotland outside of the U.K., they would see a brighter future. For Scotland is lost to them, and in a U.K. of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, a Tory future is assured. As for the UKIP, its goal of secession from the EU would be easier to achieve if the pro-EU Scots are out of the U.K. and unable to vote in the referendum on Britain’s future. As for Labour, the SNP is now not only its dominant rival north of Hadrian’s Wall, it is a secessionist albatross draped around their neck in England. What good is Scotland to Labour now?
Yet the United Kingdom may be only the first of the nations of Old Europe to break up or break out of the EU. Should Scotland leave the U.K., this would surely set off a reflex reaction in Catalonia in Spain, Veneto in Italy, and Flanders in Belgium.
Moreover, the forces driving the European Union toward a breakup today seem far stronger than the forces for deepening the political and economic ties of Europe. In postwar Europe, transnationalism and globalism, the opening and erasure of borders, the transfer of power from nation-states to transnational institutions and elites, all seemed inevitable.
No more. Jean Monnet is passé. Now is the time of Marine Le Pen and Nicola Sturgeon of the SNP. Patriotism, populism, nationalism are the growth stocks of 2015.
Northern nations like Germany and Holland are weary of carrying what they see as the lazier and more profligate EU members of Club Med. In Greece and Spain, populist parties are fed up with the endless austerity demands of the Germans. Most of the countries of Europe have a secessionist party or an anti-immigration, anti-EU Party. Like Great Britain, some have both.
Across Europe, peoples are eager to recapture control of their borders from the EU and halt immigration, especially from across the Mediterranean, where war, terrorism, poverty and overpopulation are propelling north millions of Arabs, Africans, and Muslims who are failing to assimilate into European societies.
These Europeans seek to re-establish their independence, to build nations that reflect their true identity, something we Americans went to war for in 1775, when we, too, threw the cousins out.
In the first quarter of 2015, in the sixth year of the historic Obama recovery, the U.S. economy grew by two-tenths of 1 percent.And that probably sugarcoats it.
For trade deficits subtract from the growth of GDP, and the U.S. trade deficit that just came in was a monster. As the AP’s Martin Crutsinger writes, “The U.S. trade deficit in March swelled to the highest level in more than six years, propelled by a flood of imports that may have sapped the U.S. economy of any growth in the first quarter.”
The March deficit was $51.2 billion, largest of any month since 2008. In goods alone, the trade deficit hit $64 billion. As Crutsinger writes, a surge in imports to $239 billion in March, “reflected greater shipments of foreign-made industrial machinery, autos, mobile phones, clothing and furniture.”
What does this flood of imports of things we once made here mean for a city like, say, Baltimore? Writes columnist Allan Brownfeld:
Baltimore was once a city where tens of thousands of blue collar employees earned a good living in industries building cars, airplanes and making steel. … In 1970, about a third of the labor force in Baltimore was employed in manufacturing. By 2000, only 7 percent of city residents had manufacturing jobs.
Put down blue-collar Baltimore alongside Motor City, Detroit, as another fatality of free-trade fanaticism. For as imports substitute for U.S. production and kill U.S. jobs, trade deficits reduce a nation’s GDP. And since Bill Clinton took office, the U.S. trade deficits have totaled $11.2 trillion. An astronomical figure.
It translates not only into millions of manufacturing jobs lost and tens of thousands of factories closed, but also millions of manufacturing jobs that were never created, and tens of thousands of factories that did not open here, but did open in Mexico, China, and other Asian countries.
In importing all those trillions in foreign-made goods, we exported the future of America’s young. Our political and corporate elites sold out working- and middle-class America—to enrich the monied class. And they sure succeeded.
Yet, remarkably, Republicans who wail over Obama’s budget deficits ignore the more ruinous trade deficits that leech away the industrial base upon which America’s self-reliance and military might have always depended.
Last month, the U.S. trade deficit with the People’s Republic of China reached $31.2 billion, the largest in history between two nations. Over 25 years, China has amassed $4 trillion in trade surpluses at our expense. And where are the Republicans? Talking tough about building new fleets of planes and ships and carriers to defend Asia from the rising threat of China, which those same Republicans did more than anyone else to create.
Now this GOP Congress is preparing to vote for “fast track” and surrender its right to amend any Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that Obama brings home. But consider that TPP. While the propaganda is all about a deal to cover 40 percent of world trade, what are we really talking about?
First, TPP will cover 37 percent of world trade. But 80 percent of that is trade between the U.S. and nations with which we already have trade deals. As for the last 20 percent, our new partners will be New Zealand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, and Japan. Query: Who benefits more if we get access to Vietnam’s market, which is 1 percent of ours, while Hanoi gets access to a U.S. market that is 100 times the size of theirs?
The core of the TPP is the deal with Japan.
But do decades of Japanese trade surpluses at our expense, achieved through the manipulation of Japan’s currency and hidden restrictions on U.S. imports, justify a Congressional surrender to Barack Obama of all rights to amend any Japan deal he produces? Columnist Robert Samuelson writes that a TPP failure “could produce a historic watershed. … rejection could mean the end of an era. … So, when opponents criticize the Trans-Pacific Partnership, they need to answer a simple question: Compared to what?”
Valid points, and a fair question.
And yes, an era is ending, a post-Cold War era where the United States threw open her markets to nations all over the world, as they sheltered their own. The end of an era where America volunteered to defend nations and fight wars having nothing to do with her own vital interests or national security.
The bankruptcy of a U.S. trade and foreign policy, which has led to the transparent decline of the United States and the astonishing rise of China, is apparent now virtually everywhere.
And America is not immune to the rising tide of nationalism.
Though, like the alcoholic who does not realize his condition until he is lying face down in the gutter, it may be a while before we get out of the empire business and start looking out again, as our fathers did, for the American republic first. But that day is coming.
Who killed Freddie Gray?
According to Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby, Freddie was murdered in a conspiracy of six cops who imprisoned him in a police van and there assaulted and killed him. The killer was African-American officer Caesar Goodson, driver of the van, who, with a “depraved heart,” murdered Freddie.
This is a summation of the charges against six Baltimore cops made Friday by Mosby, as she ranted into the TV cameras:
To the people of Baltimore, and the demonstrators across America: I heard your call for ‘No justice, no peace.’ … To the youth of this city: I will seek justice on your behalf. …
This is your moment. … You’re at the forefront of this cause and as young people, our time is now.
Mosby has cast herself as the avenging angel of those clamoring for retribution. But unless she has far more evidence than has been revealed, Mosby is talking a stronger hand than her cards are showing on the table.
For consider the captivity of Freddie Gray, step by step.
Making contact with a cop at 8:39 in the morning, Freddie fled, was caught with a knife, and put in a police van that made four stops.
On the first, the cops lifted Freddie off the floor and sat him down. On the second and third, they looked in on him again. On the fourth, they had detoured to pick up another prisoner. Mosby is charging that not only did the cops willfully ignore Freddie’s cries for help, but also the driver deliberately handled the van in so reckless a manner as to inflict a fatal injury, the severing of his spine.
But where is the evidence for any of this?
True, as Freddie had a legal knife, he had committed no crime and should not have been arrested. And the cops should have used the seat belt in the van to buckle in Freddie. But those are police failings, not police felonies.
And while Freddie should have been taken sooner to a hospital, did the cops know how badly injured he was? How could they have known—if they had done nothing to injure him?
And when and how was Freddie’s spinal cord severed? There appears thus far no evidence that five of the cops did anything to cause this. And no evidence has been brought forward that Goodson tried to injure Freddie by giving him “a rough ride.” The Washington Post reported that the second prisoner said that on the final leg of the trip to the police station, Freddie was thrashing around, possibly injuring himself.
Consider. In the Rodney King case, where there was film of his extended beating with billy clubs, a Simi Valley jury refused to convict any of the four cops. In Ferguson, Michael Brown sustained half a dozen gunshot wounds. Yet officer Darren Wilson was not indicted.
On Staten Island, 350-pound Eric Garner was seen on film being taken down by five cops in an arrest that led to his death, but none of the cops was indicted.
And there is far less visible evidence of any police crime in the case of Freddie Gray than in any of those three incidents.
The heart of the case against all six is that they denied Freddie the medical treatment needed to save his life. But where is the proof the officers knew how gravely injured he was, that he was in danger of death?
By going on national television and ordering the arrest of the six officers on charges that could mean the rest of their lives in prison, Mosby may have stopped the riots and calmed the crowds in Baltimore. But she has kicked this can right up the road into 2016.
For what is coming is predictable.
Thus far, Freddie Gray has been portrayed by the media as the victim of brutal vigilante cops. But, soon, those six officers are going to be seen as flesh-and-blood cops who may have blundered in not seeing the extent of Freddie’s injuries, but who are being railroaded by a malicious prosecutor pandering to an angry mob calling for vengeance.
While we have seen film of the arrest of Freddie Gray and his placement in that van, film that is inconclusive, what we are going to hear now is the other side of the story, the cops’ side. From now on, they will be the underdogs, and Americans love underdogs.
A nation already riveted by the Freddie Gray episode, already divided, will become more so, as we move toward the indictments, the trials and the verdicts.
In our deepening political divide, the left invokes the narrative that black males are all too often terribly treated by brutal cops, while the right sees tough policing as having cut crime to more tolerable levels and cops as the thin blue line between them and anarchy. The battle lines have been drawn upon which the “War On Cops” issue will be fought out in 2016.
As Pete Seeger sang, “Which side are you on?”
Had Freddie Gray been robbed, beaten and left to die in the streets of his Baltimore neighborhood, no one would be mourning him today.
No one would be marching for Freddie. No one would be using Freddie as the new poster child of “Black Lives Matter!” No one would care, three weeks later, but his family and friends.
It was the manner of his death, suffering a fractured spine in police custody, that makes Freddie matter. For he can now be credibly cast in the victim’s role in the great new narrative against America—that ours is a society of unequal justice where racist cops routinely brutalize black men and boys and are rarely called to account. In this narrative, the liberal is always the hero.
Hillary Clinton knows the narrative by heart and has rushed forward to cast herself as the champion of black America.
As the Washington Times reports, Hillary declared Wednesday she would help to end a “pattern” of cops killing black men.
“There is something wrong when a third of all black men face the prospect of prison during their lifetimes. And an estimated 1.5 million black men are ‘missing’ from their families and communities because of incarceration and premature death. …
“My heart beaks for these young men and their families. We have to come to terms with some hard truths about race and justice in America.”
We certainly do, Hillary.
She specifically mentioned Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. But Trayvon died when he was shot sitting on top of and beating senseless a neighborhood watch guy, “martial arts style,” and banging his head on the sidewalk as he screamed for help. Michael Brown died of gunshot wounds when, after knocking over a convenience store and throttling the clerk in Ferguson, Missouri, he tried to wrestle a gun from a cop, and, told to halt, charged the officer.
This latest great narrative against America—that the men in blue are a threat to us all, especially black America, rather than the last line of society’s defense from its criminal class—is but another big lie, rooted in a tiny truth.
Yes, some black men and boys are killed every year in clashes with cops. And, yes, blacks are incarcerated in far greater proportions and suffer, on average, more early deaths. But who is killing them? When black men and boys are shot to death, overwhelmingly, it is by other black men and boys. Their premature deaths are due to the violent culture in their own communities, not rampaging white cops.
As for incarcerations, every imprisoned male has confessed to or been convicted of a crime. And many of the drug charges for which blacks are in prison were a result of their being allowed to plea bargain to a lesser offense. Freddie Gray had a rap sheet of a dozen arrests.
Fifty years ago, Lyndon Johnson declared at Howard University, “We seek … not just equality as a right and a theory but equality as a fact and equality as a result.” In pursuit of equality of result there began one of the most massive transfers of wealth in all history. Trillions of tax dollars were plunged into programs of social uplift. The results in black America? Where the illegitimacy rate was 23 percent in 1965, it is 72 percent now, and the gap between black and white test scores endures. In the black community, the dropout rate, crime rate, drug use rate and incarceration rate are now far higher now than in 1965.
And one notices something else in America. The lawns are being mowed, potholes filled, ditches dug, fast-food served, dishes washed and buildings cleaned increasingly by folks who are newcomers. It is they who are, in Jesse Jackson’s phrase, “movin’ on up.”
Looking back to when LBJ’s Great Society was launched, and the moral, social and cultural revolution of the 1960s began, what has liberal ideology done for black America? Their work ethic has been eviscerated by an endless flow of social welfare benefits. Those benefits have often removed the incentive to find or hold a job, and the necessity to have a breadwinner, a father in the home.
The social and cultural revolution of the 1960s undermined the black churches and depopulated them of their young. The expulsion of the Bible and of all religious and moral instruction from public schools left black children defenseless against the lure of the lifestyles of gang leaders and rap singers. The conscience- and character-forming institutions that inculcated the beliefs and values that sustained black families through the Depression, the war and the 1950s have collapsed. Result: Many black neighborhoods are unsafe for those who live there.
Hillary’s answer: “It’s time to end the era of incarceration in America.” But how will returning scores of thousands of convicts to their home communities make them safer—not to mention ours?
Given how it all worked out, are we really ready for Hillary and another giant leap forward into Great Society liberalism?
Almost all of the declared and undeclared Republican candidates for 2016 could be found this weekend at one of two events, or both.
The first was organized by the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, and held in Point of Grace Church in Waukee. Dominated by Evangelical Christians, who were 60 percent of Republican caucus-goers in 2008 and 2012, the Point of Grace Church event drew no fewer than nine Republican hopefuls.
Ex-Gov. Mike Huckabee and ex-Sen. Rick Santorum, past winners of the Iowa caucuses, were there. So, too, were Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. Scott Walter. Cruz and Walker are sons of Christian preachers. All nine GOP hopefuls espoused Judeo-Christian values, and all nine pledged unyielding opposition to same-sex marriage.
“At a forum before evangelical Christians,” wrote the New York Times, “the Republican candidates told a cheering crowd that the fight over same-sex marriage would not end with a Supreme Court decision. ”Mr. Cruz said advocates of traditional marriage should ‘fall to our knees and pray.’” Sen. Marco Rubio declared that the “institution of marriage as one man and one woman existed long before our laws existed.”
Onward Christian soldiers!
At the second event, however, there was not a lot of kneeling and praying, and not much talk of same-sex marriage. For it was held in Sin City at the Venetian hotel-casino and home of Sheldon Adelson. Having amassed a fortune of $29 billion from gambling dens in Macau and Vegas, the 81-year-old Adelson is among the richest men on earth. The event was the annual conclave of the Republican Jewish Coalition.
In Vegas, the Washington Post reports, “a crop of White House aspirants sought to outdo each other in opposition” to the Iran nuclear deal. “Ted Cruz declared that he ‘intends to do everything possible to stop a bad Iran deal.’ … Indiana Gov. Mike Pence pledged that ‘Israel’s enemies are our enemies. Israel’s cause is our cause.’”
Now, there is no conflict between being pro-Israel and anti-same-sex marriage. Yet there is still something jarring here. What are candidates who profess Christian values doing in Sin City courting a casino mogul for millions in contributions, when that mogul compiled his immense fortune by exploiting the moral weakness of Christians and non-Christians alike?
Does not the Bible condemn gambling? Do Evangelical Christians not regard gambling as a vice, and a moral failing? Are not Christians supposed to practice what they preach?
Googling “Evangelicals” and “gambling” one comes across a compelling 2009 essay of Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention. ”The nationwide explosion of legal gambling may well be the most underrated dimension of America’s moral crisis,” writes Mohler.
The Bible is clear on this issue. The entire enterprise of gambling is opposed to the moral worldview revealed in God’s word. The basic impulse behind gambling is greed — a basic sin that is the father of many other evils. Greed, covetousness, and avarice are repeatedly addressed by Scripture …
Gambling is a direct attack on the work ethic presented by Scripture. … Gambling corrupts the culture, polluting everything it touches. … Why are Christians so silent on this issue? … The silence and complacency of the Christian Church must end.
In defense of their courtship of Adelson, Republicans say that gambling is now legal. Yet, so is prostitution and marijuana in some precincts, and abortion and homosexuality are constitutional rights. Would Christian conservatives accept campaign contributions from men who grew rich running abortion mills, or bathhouses for homosexuals, or from selling pot, or from Planned Parenthood?
Reportedly, Adelson contributed $92 million in 2012, to the campaigns of Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and other Republicans. And he is poised to spend more for a Republican president in 2016. A tiny fraction of that $92 million, in attack ads, could break a candidate to whom Adelson is opposed. A large fraction could make credible a candidate who would otherwise be an also-ran who would not survive the first primary.
With that kind of money on offer, the temptation to tailor one’s views to accommodate Adelson is great. But it is a temptation. In this tale of two cities this weekend, Waukee and Vegas, we may be witnessing a shift in moral power in the Grand Old Party.
It is hard to imagine that the Moral Majority of Rev. Jerry Falwell in the Reagan years would have been comfortable with the ascendancy of Sheldon Adelson in the Republican Party hierarchy.
And as America appears to be accommodating herself to same-sex marriage, do the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family have the same following they once did?
When the Iowa caucuses are behind us, and the nominee chosen, will the Republican ticket still be eager to be associated with the Iowa Faith and Freedom Council? Or will the ticket be putting the social issues on a back shelf for the November election?
Is the triumph of Vegas values over Biblical values inevitable?
For a month now, the Saudi air force has been bombing Yemen to reverse a takeover of that nation of 25 million by Houthi rebels, and reinstall a president who fled his country and is residing in Riyadh.
The Saudis have hit airfields, armor and arms depots, and caused a humanitarian catastrophe. Nearly 1,000 dead, 3,500 wounded and tens of thousands homeless. The poorest nation in the Arab world is near collapse. Dependent upon imported food, Yemen faces malnutrition and starvation.
And the United States has been an accomplice in the Saudi bombing of Yemen. Why? Why is Yemen’s civil war America’s war? What did the Houthis ever do to us?
While they bear us no love, their Houthi rebellion was an uprising against a pair of autocrats who had been imposed upon them, and against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The Houthis’ main enemy, AQAP, is America’s worst enemy.
Why are we then making ourselves de facto allies of al-Qaeda?
For while the Saudis have been bombing the Houthis, easing the pressure on al-Qaida, AQAP effected a prison break of 270 inmates, including scores of terrorists, and seized the port of Mukalla.
The Saudis claim the Houthi rebellion is part of an Iranian Shi’ite scheme to overrun and dominate the Sunni Middle East.
But Pakistan is not buying it, and not sending troops. The Egyptians seem reluctant to enlist. Nor is there hard evidence Iran armed or incited the Houthis who have been fighting for years. Tehran reportedly advised the rebels not to take the city of Aden, and is calling for a ceasefire and peace talks.
Saudi propaganda portrays the Middle East as caught up in a great Muslim struggle, with a Shiite Crescent led by Iran seeking to swallow up the Sunni states. But is this true? Or is America being dragged into fighting yet another war where we have no vital interest, against an enemy that has not attacked us and has no plans to do so?
In today’s chaotic Middle East, who are our real enemies, those attacking and killing Americans and murdering our friends?
First on the enemies list are al-Qaeda and ISIS. No terrorist group has killed more Americans than al-Qaeda. No terrorist group has behaved with more savagery toward U.S. citizens, Christians, and friends of ours than ISIS. And who is most fiercely resisting these enemies of ours?
The Saudis? The Gulf Arabs? Our NATO ally Turkey?
By no means. All, at one time or another, have abetted the al-Nusra Front or ISIS in Syria. And none has sent troops to fight the Islamic State in Iraq. Yet the Houthis, two of whose mosques in Yemen’s capital were blown up in March by ISIS, with 135 dead and 350 wounded, have been actively battling these terrorists.
In Iraq, it is Shiite militias, admittedly no friends, Iranians, and Kurds who have been aiding Baghdad in battling the Islamic State. It is Hezbollah and Iran who have been backing Damascus with arms and troops in Bashar Assad’s war against ISIS and the al-Qaeda affiliate.
When it comes to battling our enemies, our Sunni friends have been dragging their feet, or even collaborating. But the Shiite Crescent we are supposed to fear as the new Persian Empire has been actively fighting those same enemies.
In his Wall Street Journal column on the Middle East, Yaroslav Trofimov reports that the Saudis are euphoric over their successes in bombing the Houthis, and are looking forward to new wars:
This display of military might has already unleashed patriotic fervor in Riyadh. It has spurred talk that once the Houthis are dealt with, Saudi Arabia’s Sunni coalition should move against a more formidable Iranian ally, the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, and destroy the Syrian air force.
‘The massacres in Syria should stop and its regime there should go,’ said Khalid al-Dakhil, a Saudi sociologist and prominent commentator. ‘The right thing to do after Yemen would be for the Gulf countries and Egypt, Jordan and Turkey to go into Syria to dislodge that regime.’
About this coming Saudi-led blitzkrieg, several observations:
First, while the Houthis have been bloodied they are not beaten. The Saudis may have just thrown a rock into a hornets’ nest. Second, how would Hezbollah, Iran, Iraq and Russia respond to a Saudi-led war to overthrow their allies in Syria? Third, if Bashar Assad falls in Syria, who rises to power if not the al-Nusra Front and ISIS, the only effective forces opposing him today?
Terrible as is the war that Assad is waging in his own country, is not his regime preferable to what ISIS in Raqqa and al-Nusra in Idlib have on offer to us?
Reportedly, the Americans are trying to coax the Saudis out of their war in Yemen. Wise move. Kings don’t tend to last in long wars, especially in wars they themselves have started.
The GOP swept to victory in November by declaring that this imperial presidency must be brought to heel, and President Obama’s illicit seizures of Congressional power must end.
That was then. Now is now.
This week, Congress takes up legislation to cede His Majesty full authority to negotiate the largest trade deal in history, the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, and to surrender Congress’ right to amend any TPP that Obama might bring home.
Why the capitulation? Why would Republicans line up to kiss the royal ring? Is Middle America clamoring for “fast track”? Are blue-collar workers marching in the streets to have Congress grant “Trade Promotion Authority Now!” to Barack Obama?
No. Pressure for fast track is coming from two sources.
First, the editorial pages of papers like the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post that truckle to the transnational corporations that provide the advertising revenue stream keeping them alive. Second, Obama is relying on Congressional Republicans who, for all their bravado about defying his usurpations, know on which side their bread is buttered. It’s the Wall Street-K Street side.
Fast track is the GOP payoff to its bundlers and big donors. And so, we must hear again all the tired talking points about free trade, soaring exports, jobs created, etc.
But what is reality of the last quarter century of “free trade”?
The economic independence that enabled us to stay out of two world wars—until we chose to go in and help win them swiftly—is history. We are a dependent nation now. We rely on imports for the necessities of our national life and the vital components of our weapons systems. Hamilton must be turning over in his grave.
Where once wages rose inexorably in America and the middle class seemed ever to expand, we read today about income inequality, the growing gap between rich and poor, and wage stagnation.
Did $11 trillion in trade deficits since Bush I have anything to do with this? Or do we think that the 55,000 factories and 5-6 million manufacturing jobs that went missing in the first decade of this new century had no connection to those huge trade deficits?
Is there a link perhaps between all those factories closing in the USA and all those factories opening in China, or between a U.S. average annual growth rate of 1.8 percent since the turn of the century, and a Chinese average annual growth rate of around 10 percent?
We read of China’s hoard of $4 trillion in cash reserves, of Beijing creating a replica of the World Bank, of European and Asian nations rushing to sign up to get a piece of the action in building China’s new “Silk Road” to Europe.
Monday’s New York Times tells of Premier Xi Jinping coming to Islamabad bearing gifts. Pakistani officials say Xi will be signing agreements for $46 billion for the construction of railroads, highways, and power plants over the next 15 years. Where did Xi get all that money to displace America in Asia?
Last week came news that Japan has narrowly passed China as a holder of U.S. federal debt. Between them, they hold $2.5 trillion.
Did the tidal wave of imports from Japan and China, and the historic trade deficits we have run with both nations for decades, have anything to do with our Athens-like indebtedness to our Asian creditors?
When we look back to NAFTA, GATT, the WTO, MFN, and PNTR for China, the Korean-U.S. free trade deal, CAFTA with Central America—almost all have led to soaring trade deficits and jobs lost to the nations with whom we signed the agreements.
As for the bureaucrats and politicians who promised us big new markets for exports, rising trade surpluses, better jobs—were they simply ignorant, or were they knowingly lying to us?
No one can be that wrong for that long. The law of averages is against it.
Writing yesterday, Peter Morici, chief economist in the early Clinton years at the U.S. International Trade Commission, says the Korean deal alone, and the import surge that followed, cost America 100,000 jobs.
“Asian nations target specific industries—such as autos and information technology—and compel U.S. firms to establish factories and research facilities in their economies,” as China, Germany and Japan manipulate their currencies to keep exports to us high and imports from us low. Morici estimates that our annual $500 billion trade deficit costs America 4 million jobs and is a contributing cause of the fall of U.S. family income by $4,600 since 2000.
Unless changes are made in TPP, he writes, “Congress should deny President Obama authority to negotiate yet another jobs killing trade pact in the Pacific.”
What the nation needs is not only a rejection of fast track, but also a trade policy that puts country before corporate profit, workers before Wall Street, and America first.
Such a policy once made the Republican Party America’s Party.
“Could a U.S. response to Russia’s action in Ukraine provoke a confrontation that leads to a U.S.-Russia War?” This jolting question is raised by Graham Allison and Dimitri Simes in the cover article of The National Interest.
The answer the authors give, in “Countdown to War: The Coming U.S. Russia Conflict,” is that the odds are shortening on a military collision between the world’s largest nuclear powers. The cockpit of the conflict, should it come, will be Ukraine.
What makes the article timely is the report that Canada will be sending 200 soldiers to western Ukraine to join 800 Americans and 75 Brits on a yearlong assignment to train the Ukrainian army.
And train that army to fight whom? Pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine whom Vladimir Putin has said will not be crushed, even if it requires Russian intervention. Says Putin, “We won’t let it happen.”
What are the forces that have us “stumbling to war”?
On our side there is President Obama who “enjoys attempting to humiliate Putin” and “repeatedly includes Russia in his list of current scourges alongside the Islamic State and Ebola.” Then there is what TNI editor Jacob Heilbrunn calls the “truculent disposition” that has become the “main driver of Republican foreign policy.” A “triumphalist camp,” redolent of the “cakewalk war” crowd of Bush II, is ascendant and pushing us toward confrontation.
This American mindset has its mirror image in Moscow.
“Putin is not the hardest of the hard-liners in Russia,” write the authors. “Russia’s establishment falls into … a pragmatic camp, which is currently dominant thanks principally to Putin’s support, and a hard-line camp” the one Putin adviser calls “the hotheads.”
The hotheads believe the way to respond to U.S. encroachments is to invoke the doctrine of Yuri Andropov, “challenge the main enemy,” and brandish nuclear weapons to terrify Europe and split NATO. Russian public opinion is said to be moving toward the hotheads.
Russian bombers have been intruding into NATO air space. Putin says he was ready to put nuclear forces on alert in the Crimea. Russia’s ambassador has warned Copenhagen that if its ships join a NATO missile defense force, Denmark could be targeted with nukes.
In coming war games, Russia will move Iskander missiles into the Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad on Poland’s northern border. ”Russia is the only country in the world that is realistically capable of turning the United States into radioactive ash,” brays the director of the television network Rossiya Segodnya.
As of now, the “pragmatists” represented by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov retain the upper hand. They believe Russia can still do business with the United States and Europe. ”The ‘hotheads’ take the opposite view,” the authors write, “they argue that NATO is determined to overthrow Putin, force Russia to its knees, and perhaps even dismember the country.”
In Ukraine, Putin has drawn two red lines. He will not permit Ukraine to join NATO. He will not allow the rebels to be crushed.
Russia hard-liners are confident that should it come to war in Ukraine, Russia would have what Cold War strategists called “escalation dominance.” This is what JFK had in the Cuban missile crisis—conventional and nuclear superiority on sea and land, and in the air around Cuba.
With Ukraine easily accessible to Russian forces by road and rail, sea and air, and Russia’s military just over the border while U.S. military might is a continent away, the hard-liners believe Russia would prevail in a war and America would face a choice—accept defeat in Ukraine or escalate to tactical atomic weapons.
The Russians are talking of resorting to such weapons first.
The decisive date for Putin to determine which way Russia will go would appear to be this summer. The authors write:
Putin will attempt to exploit the expiration of EU sanctions, which are scheduled to expire in July. If that fails, however, and the European Union joins the United States in imposing additional economic sanctions such as excluding Moscow from the SWIFT financial clearing system, Putin would be tempted to respond, not by retreating, but by ending all cooperation with the West, and mobilizing his people against a new and ‘apocalyptic’ threat to ‘Mother Russia.’
As a leading Russian politician told us, ‘We stood all alone against Napoleon and against Hitler.’
As of now, the Minsk II cease-fire of February seems to be holding. The Ukrainian army and pro-Russian rebels have both moved their heavy weapons back from the truce lines, though there have been clashes and casualties.
But as Ukraine’s crisis is unresolved, these questions remain: Will the U.S. train the Ukrainian army and then greenlight an offensive to retake the rebel-held provinces? Would Russia intervene and rout that army? Would the Americans sit by if their Ukrainian trainees were defeated and more Ukrainian land was lost?
Or would we start up the escalator to a war with Russia that few Europeans, but some Americans and Russians, might welcome today?
At the Summit of the Americas where he met with Raul Castro, the 83-year-old younger brother of Fidel, President Obama provided an insight into where he is taking us, and why: ”The United States will not be imprisoned by the past — we’re looking to the future. I’m not interested in having battles that frankly started before I was born.”
Obama was not yet born when Fidel rolled into Havana, Jan. 1, 1959. He was 1 year old during the missile crisis. His mother belonged to a 1960s generation that welcomed the Cuban Revolution. His father came from an African generation that won independence from the European empires.
Churchill’s bust may have resided in the Oval Office of George Bush. Obama sent it back to the British Embassy. His hero is Nelson Mandela, who overthrew centuries of white rule in South Africa. Obama is as rooted in the Third World as in the West, and his goal is to sweep out the clutter of a Cold War that “has been over a long time.”
He lifted sanctions on Burma, is recognizing Castro’s Cuba, and hopes to seal a nuclear deal with Iran and normalize relations. Uninhibited by old friendships, untethered to old allies, Barack Obama is grounding his Middle East policy on what he sees as the new realities. And the policy shifts he is making are unlikely to be reversed, for the discarding of old friends in altered circumstances is an American tradition.
In 1954, Eisenhower refused to intervene to save our French allies going down to defeat in Indochina. In 1956, he ordered the British and French out of Suez. That was the end of Prime Minister Anthony Eden, Ike’s wartime friend, and of the British Empire, alongside which we had fought two world wars.
In 1963, JFK sanctioned a coup against our ally President Diem.
In 1972, Richard Nixon went to Peking to toast Chairman Mao, who was responsible for tens of thousands of U.S. war dead in Korea. Nixon thus began the severing of relations and of treaty ties with our World War II ally, Chiang Kai-shek, and his Republic of China on Taiwan.
What Ike was conceding at Suez was that the British and French empires were history and Arab nationalism was the future in the Middle East. What Nixon was conceding was that Mao’s revolution was irreversible, and America must deal with the new reality.
Obama is in that tradition of ruthless American pragmatism.
Three weeks after the Arab Spring reached Cairo, he pulled the rug out from under Hosni Mubarak, an ally of 30 years. Then he welcomed the electoral triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood. Now he has accepted the coup d’etat and subsequent electoral victory of Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, and his emerging Egyptian dictatorship.
What is the new reality Obama sees across the Middle East?
It is that America’s most dangerous enemies are al-Qaeda and its progeny, and ISIS in Syria and Iraq. And in the war against al-Qaeda and ISIS, the Ayatollah’s Iran and its allies—Hezbollah, Syria’s Bashar Assad and Iraq’s Shiite militias—are on our side.
However, in this same war, some of our oldest allies appear to be conscientious objectors or collaborators with the enemy.
As Joe Biden said at Harvard a while back, the Turks, the Saudis and the Emiratis provided much of the money and arms that initially fueled the Nusra Front (al-Qaeda) and ISIS in Syria. Biden was forced to apologize for having told the truth.
Where ISIS has made Syria’s provincial capital of Raqqa the capital of its caliphate, the Nusra Front has seized Idlib, a second provincial capital. And the Assad regime accuses our NATO ally Turkey of aiding and abetting the terrorist takeover of Idlib.
The Israelis, too, do not share our view of who is the mortal enemy. “Hezbollah and Iran are the major threat to Israel, much more than the radical Sunni Islamists,” says Amos Yadlin, ex-head of Israel’s military intelligence. Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren agrees: “We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.”
But if Assad falls, then the Nusra Front or ISIS comes to power, a strategic disaster for the United States, followed by a slaughter of Christians that could drag America back into yet another land war.
Obama is not wrong here. If NATO’s Turkey, Israel, and the Gulf Arabs prefer Sunni Islamists in Damascus to an Alawite regime with which we have coexisted for 40 years, then President Obama is right to move us away from our old allies. U.S. national interests come first.
Yet, a choice between Hezbollah and the Nusra Front, ISIS and the Shiite militias, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Houthi rebels, is a Hobbesian trap that is a conclusive argument for keeping U.S. troops out of this war of all against all in the Middle East.
The Republican rout in the Battle of Indianapolis provides us with a snapshot of the correlation of forces in the culture wars.
Faced with a corporate-secularist firestorm, Gov. Mike Pence said Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act would not protect Christian bakers or florists who refuse their services to same-sex weddings. And the white flag went up again.
Politics follows culture. And the cultural revolution of the ’60s is triumphant. Traditional Christianity, driven out of schools and the public square, is being whipped back into the churches and told to stay there.
America has gone over to the revolution. Looking back, the sweep of the capitulation becomes stark.
First came the plea of atheists not to have their children forced to participate in prayers at school. Fair enough. Americans do not believe in compelling people to do as they disbelieve.
Then followed the demand that no child be exposed to prayers or religious books, including the Bible, nor have any day or week set aside as a holiday if connected to Christianity. Out went Christmas and Easter. In came winter break and spring break. Coaches of high school teams were ordered to dispense with prayers before games. The coaches complied.
No matter what the majority wanted, the minority prevailed, thanks to a Supreme Court whose dictates were never challenged by democratically elected presidents or Congresses, nor ever defied by a Christian majority.
In the sexual revolution there came first the plea that abortion in extreme cases be decriminalized, then legalized, then subsidized, then declared a right. From crime to constitutional right in two decades! Under Obamacare, Christian businesses must dispense abortion-inducing morning-after pills to employees.
On gay rights, first came the demand that a bar in Greenwich Village patronized by homosexuals be left alone by the cops. Next came the demand that homosexuality be decriminalized and then that this, too, be declared a constitutional right. And so it went.
Soon, same-sex marriages will likely be declared a right hidden in the Constitution and entitled to all the privileges and benefits accorded traditional marriages. Next, those who refuse to provide services to same-sex weddings will become the criminals.
Thus does biblical truth become bigotry in Obama’s America.
And the process has been steadily proceeding for generations.
First comes a call for tolerance for those who believe and behave differently. Then comes a plea for acceptance. Next comes a demand for codifying in law a right to engage in actions formerly regarded as debased or criminal. Finally comes a demand to punish any and all who persist in their public conduct or their private business in defying the new moral order.
And so it goes with revolutions. On the assumption of power, revolutionaries become more intolerant than those they dispossessed.
The French Revolution was many times more terrible than the Bourbon monarchy. The Russian Revolution made the Romanovs look benign. Fidel Castro’s criminality exceeded anything dreamt of by Fulgencio Batista.
Looking back, one appreciates why we hear so often, “This isn’t the country I grew up in.” For it isn’t. But how did this moral-cultural revolution succeed so easily?
How was it that the Greatest Generation that won World War II let itself be intimidated by and dictated to by nine old men with lifetime tenure who had been elected by no one? How did this happen in a republic where minority rights exist but the majority rules? Why did Middle America meekly comply and not resist?
By the mid-’50s and early ’60s, black folks were engaged in civil disobedience, refusing to move to the back of the bus, sitting at segregated lunch counters, getting clubbed by cops, and marching for equal access to schools, hotels, motels, and voting booths. And across the South there was resistance to the civil rights revolution: Southern manifestos, governors standing in schoolhouse doors, federal marshals and federal troops called out.
Whatever side of the civil rights revolution one was on, folks on both sides fought for what they believed in. Amazing. The old segregationists who, morally speaking, held a pair of deuces resisted. But a Christian majority that had the Faith that created Western civilization behind it rolled over and played dead.
Christians watched paralyzed as their country was taken from them.
What explains the rout in Indianapolis? The GOP simply cannot stand up to media denunciations as intolerant bigots, especially if the corporations upon which they depend threaten economic reprisals.
With the Democratic Party irretrievably lost, and the Republican Party moving to neutrality in the culture wars, traditionalists should probably take comfort in the counsel, “Put not your trust in princes.”
When that father and daughter at Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Ind., said their religious beliefs forbade them from catering a same-sex wedding, they were subjected to a hailstorm of hate, but were also showered with $840,000 from folks who admired their moral courage.
Religious folks who do not believe in collaborating with what they think is wrong should go forth and do likewise.
Courage as well as cowardice is contagious.
“Pat, sometimes it seems like our friends want me to go over the cliff with flags flying,” President Reagan once told me. Today, it is “Bibi” Netanyahu and the neocons howling “kill the deal” and “bomb Iran” who are shoving the Republican Party toward the cliff.
The question, which may decide 2016, may be framed thus:
Should a Republican Congress meticulously point out the flaws and risks of this nuclear deal with Iran and, if the Iranians do cheat or attempt a breakout, be rewarded for their skepticism and statesmanship? Or should the GOP sabotage and scuttle the deal and let itself be held politically liable for the diplomatic and strategic disaster that would follow?
Consider the consequences of successful Republican sabotage.
The U.S. coalition of France, Germany, Britain, Russia, and China would be shattered. But the U.N. Security Council, China, Russia, and the Europeans would still go ahead and lift sanctions on Iran. Should Congress override a veto by President Obama, pile new sanctions on Iran, and demand new concessions, Tehran could ignore us or declare itself no longer bound to the concessions it has already made.
If Iran then began to restore its nuclear program to where it was 18 months ago, we would have one option left to stop it: war. But Obama is not going to war with Iran. Hence, goaded by the neocons, GOP candidates would spend 2015 and 2016 assuring the nation that war with Iran is still “on the table” should they win the White House.
Is this a winning platform?
Yet this is the path Bibi and the neocons would put America on. John Bolton, a possible presidential candidate, has already come out for bombing Iran. John McCain urges Israel to “go rogue,” prodding Bibi to launch a strike on Iran and drag us into his war. Lindsey Graham supports “an authorization for the use of military force” against Iran and said in 2010 that we should launch an air war so massive that Iran would be unable to defend itself.
Sheldon Adelson, casino oligarch and Daddy Warbucks who put $100 million behind the party in 2012 and promises more this time, has advocated a nuclear strike to warn Iran to stop enriching and a follow-up nuclear strike on its capital if Iran defies us.
“Kill the Deal” is the headline on Bill Kristol’s editorial in The Weekly Standard. Writes neocon Joshua Muravchik, war is “our only option.” Gov. Scott Walker has declared that his first act as president would be to kill the nuclear deal. President Walker would thus put us, alone, without allies, on a road to war—to strip Iran of weapons of mass destruction it does not have.
Is this what America can look forward to if it votes Republican? A new Middle East war with a nation three times the size of Iraq, and with Dover receiving again the coffins and Walter Reed the casualties?
Which brings us to Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who declined to sign Tom Cotton’s letter to Ayatollah Khamenei and is best positioned to plumb the depths of this nuclear deal to determine whether Iran’s concessions are real.
Iran has agreed to cut back its operating centrifuges to 5,000, to reconfigure its Arak reactor so it does not produce plutonium, to stop enriching underground at Fordow, to dilute all of its 20-percent enriched uranium, and to allow in more inspectors and inspections.
If true, the deal appears to do what Obama says it does: close off every known avenue to an Iranian bomb.
My own sense is that Iran decided some time ago not to test a nuclear device because it believes, as do we, this could mean the spread of nukes to Egypt, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia—which Iran does not want any more than we do.
Corker should schedule testimony from National Intelligence Director Adm. James Clapper and the directors of the CIA and DIA.
The critical questions: Does the U.S. intelligence community stand by its declaration of three years ago that Iran does not have a bomb program? How long would it take Iran, if it decided to go for a bomb, to build and test one? How long would it take us to discover a breakout? Does Iran have an ICBM that can hit the United States, as Bibi claims? Is Iran testing intercontinental ballistic missiles?
The GOP should raise every legitimate question, but if the deal seems to do what Obama claims it does, let it go into effect. Then, if Iran cheats, the nation will turn to the GOP. But if Iran abides by the deal and the deal accomplishes what Obama promises, the GOP can say: We did our due diligence. We did our duty.
Should the deal collapse, Republicans will be far better off if the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps or some new ayatollah sabotaged it than if Congress is seen as the perpetrator.
A voracious and eclectic reader, President Nixon instructed me to send him every few weeks 10 articles he would not normally see that were on interesting or important issues.
In 1971, I sent him an essay from The Atlantic, with reviews by Time and Newsweek, by Dr. Richard Herrnstein. My summary read:
Basically, (Herrnstein) demonstrates that heredity, rather than environment, determines intelligence — and that the more we proceed to provide everyone with a ‘good environment’ the more heredity will become the dominant factor … in their success and social standing.
In a 1994 obituary, The New York Times wrote that Herrnstein, though he “was often harassed … and his classes at Harvard were disrupted,” never recanted his heresy. He wrote I.Q. and Meritocracy in 1973, and in 1994 co-authored with Charles Murray the hugely controversial The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life.
What brought this back was a piece buried in the “B” section of the Washington Post about the incoming class at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County.
TJ High is an elite magnet school that admits students based on their academic aptitude and achievement and offers “courses in differential equations, artificial intelligence and neuroscience.”
According to the Post, 70 percent of the incoming freshmen are Asians, the highest percentage ever for a school already 60 percent Asian. Ten years ago, the student body was 32 percent Asian. White students make up 29 percent of the school today, but are only 22 percent of the entering class. The class of 2019 will have 346 Asians and 102 whites, but only 12 Hispanics and 8 blacks.
Of the 2,841 applicants for 2015, one in four Asians was admitted and one in eight whites, but only one in 16 Hispanics and one in 25 black students. Of low-income students, only one in 33 applicants got in.
What do these numbers tell us?
Thomas Jefferson High is a meritocracy where the ideological dictates of “diversity” do not apply. Second, Asian students, based either on nature or nurture, heredity or environment, or both, are, as of today, superior in the hard sciences to other ethnic groups. These numbers suggest that as Asian Americans rise from 5 percent of the U.S. population to 15, they are going to dominate the elite high schools and colleges devoted to STEM studies: science, technology, engineering, mathematics.
And in the professions built around expertise in science and technology, to which private and public capital will be directed, the social standing of Asian Americans is going to rise, leaving black, Hispanic, low-income, and poor Americans further behind.
In the Post article, there is no breakdown of which Asian minorities excelled. In international competitions among high school students, Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese are the top scorers, above Filipinos, Vietnamese, and Indonesians.
Two years ago, an activist group filed a complaint against Fairfax County with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights alleging that the admissions process at TJ High discriminates against blacks, Hispanics, and the poor. But as the white share of the student body at TJ High is falling fastest, if there is discrimination, the admissions process must be giving an unfair break to Asians. For it is Asians who are the biggest beneficiaries of what is going on at the school.
Why are Asian kids succeeding spectacularly? Is it because they are naturally talented at STEM studies? Is it because they have a better work ethic? Is it because their parents demand they get their homework done and monitor their grades? Is it because far fewer Asians come from broken homes?
It cannot be that Asians have been more privileged.
Chinese laborers in the Old West were terribly treated. Japanese were excluded and put into camps during World War II. Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Filipinos, and Vietnamese here are largely from families that endured the hell of the Asian wars of the 20th century.
And while Fairfax County generously supports its school, it does not spend what D.C. does. And how are D.C. schools doing? The Post reported yesterday: “Only 58 percent of D.C. students graduate high school within four years, and only about half of students are proficient in reading and math.”
So how is TJ High responding to its Asian problem? Jeremy Shughart, admissions director at TJ, has a committee “reviewing the application process to improve diversity at the school.”
The committee is looking at a variety of admissions components and making recommendations for possible adjustments to future admissions cycles. … (We) will continue to work on increasing diversity at TJHSST and will continue to pursue outreach efforts to ensure talented underrepresented populations of students with a passion for math and science consider, apply to, and attend… Fairfax County Public Schools believes in the value of diversity.
That is bureaucratic gobbledygook for saying they are going to start looking closer at the race and ethnicity of student applicants and begin using this criteria to bring in some—and to reject others.
Race discrimination, against Asians, is coming to Fairfax County.
In what has been called the “Catholic moment” in America, in the late 1940s and 1950s, Catholics were admonished from pulpits to “live the faith” and “set an example” for others. Public lives were to reflect moral beliefs. Christians were to avoid those “living in sin.” Christians who operated motels and hotels did not rent rooms to unmarried couples.
Fast forward to 21st-century America.
Indiana just enacted a law, as have 19 other states, to protect the rights of religious people to practice their beliefs in how they live their lives and conduct their businesses. And the reaction? Nearly hysterical.
The head of the NCAA, the founder of Apple, chief executives of SalesForce and Yelp, Martina Navratilova, Larry King, Miley Cyrus and other celebrities are rushing to express their shock. Boycotts of Indiana are being demanded. Tweeted Hillary on her now-empty server: “Sad this new Indiana law can happen in America today. We shouldn’t discriminate against [people because] of who they love.”
The culture war has come to Indiana, and all these folks are eager to be seen as standing tall with the LGBT revolution. But what are they actually saying?
Are they saying that Christian bakers, photographers and florists may not refuse to provide their services at same-sex weddings? Are they saying that hotel owners who deny rooms to unmarried couples or for homosexual liaisons should be prosecuted for being faithful to their moral code?
How are we supposed to punish Christians for sinning against liberalism? Will jailing be necessary, or caning, or just depriving them of their livelihood? The Hillarys of our world have a right to call such folks bigots and homophobes. But should they have the power to punish people for acting on their religious beliefs?
Isn’t the First Amendment supposed to protect this right? Whatever became of the conservatives’ Free Society?
Initially, under Obamacare, Christian colleges and businesses were forced to provide employees with birth control and abortion-inducing, morning-after pills. The regime was ordering religious people to behave in ways that were abhorrent to them and contravened the teachings of their faith. Like shariah law, liberalism imposes its values upon nonbelievers and punishes noncompliance.
Says Mayor Edwin Lee, who has banned city-funded trips to Indiana, “We stand united as San Franciscans to condemn Indiana’s new discriminatory law, and will work together to protect the civil rights of all Americans.” But the “discriminatory law” that has the mayor upset does not discriminate against anyone. It merely guarantees the freedom of religious people who believe homosexuality is wrong to not have to be associated with individuals or events that celebrate it.
The mayor may not like how people exercise their freedom. Does his dislike justify depriving them of that freedom?
The gay rights community seems to have advanced from asking for tolerance of their lifestyles—to demanding punishment for those who refuse to accept its moral equality. Why do they care that a handful of Christians still reject their truth? Are they so insecure in their convictions about themselves that they must have conformity? Must all kneel before their Golden Calf?
Like all of us, the mayor has a right not to associate with people who use obscene or racist language, or whose behavior is boorish, or whose politics he detests. To the mayor, it appears commendable for him not to be associated with Indiana because of its values. Why is it then intolerable for Christians not to be associated with gay events because of their values? A little double standard there, Mr. Mayor?
What the Indiana issue is really all about is the replacement of Christian values with secular values as the operating premises of society. And the hallmark of our new society is intolerance of those who reject the revolution. It is ever so with revolutions.
In 1964, across the bay from San Francisco, the Free Speech Movement was born at Berkeley. Students demanded the freedom to say what they believed, no matter how objectionable to the majority.
Soon, dirty language became common on radio, cable, and in film. Pornography was declared constitutionally protected. Larry Flynt was the First Amendment hero. Rap singers used the crudest of terms for women and the N-word for each other. A new freedom was born. That is, up until two soused freshmen from Sigma Alpha Epsilon began a chant on a bus with high school seniors that used the N-word.
Then the air raid sirens went off. Mass protests were held on campus. Students told how sickened they were to TV cameras descending on campus. Oklahoma University President David Boren expelled the evildoers. The frat house was shut down and fumigated. An investigation of SAE nationally is being conducted. Editorials blazed, though the U.N. Security Council has yet to table a resolution of condemnation.
As the Jack Nicholson character George Hanson said in “Easy Rider,” ”You know, this used to be a helluva good country.” It surely was.
Stand up for Indiana!
The forces that do not want a U.S. nuclear deal with Iran, nor any U.S. detente with Iran, are impressive. Among them are the Israelis and their powerful lobby AIPAC, the Saudis and their Sunni allies on the Persian Gulf, a near-unanimity of Republicans, and a plurality of Democrats in Congress.
Is there a case to be made for a truce in the venomous conflict that has gone on between us since the taking of U.S. hostages in 1979? Is there any common ground? To both questions, President Obama and John Kerry believe the answer is yes. And they are not without an argument.
First, the alternative to a truce—breaking off of negotiations, doubling down on demands Iran dismantle all nuclear facilities, tougher sanctions—inevitably leads to war. And we all know it. Yet Americans do not want another war in the Middle East, with a nation three times the size of Iraq, and its allies across the region.
Nor can Iran want such a war. Had the ayatollahs and mullahs wanted it, they could have had a war with the United States at any time in the third of a century since they seized power.
Yet as Ronald Reagan was taking the oath in 1981, our hostages were suddenly on their way home. With the accidental shoot-down of an Iranian Airbus by the cruiser Vincennes in 1988, the Ayatollah ended his war with Saddam Hussein, fearful the Americans were about to intervene on the side of Iraq.
Why Iran wants to avoid war is obvious. Given U.S. air, missile, and naval power, and cyberwarfare capabilities, a war with the United States would do to Iran what we did to Iraq, smash it up, set it back decades, perhaps break up the country. Some mullahs may be fanatics, but Iran is not run by fools.
Yet even if we have a mutual interest in avoiding a war, where is the common ground between us?
Let us begin with the Sunni terrorists of al-Qaeda who brought down the twin towers, and the Islamic State that is beheading Christians, apostates, and nonbelievers, and intends to establish a Middle East caliphate where there are no Americans, no Christians, and no Shiites. Americans and Iranians have a common goal of degrading and defeating them.
In the Syrian civil war, Iran and its Shiite allies in Hezbollah have prevented the fall of the Alawite regime of Bashar Assad. For years, Iran has helped to keep the al-Nusra Front and ISIL out of Damascus. When the Islamic State seized Mosul and most of Anbar, the Iranians helped to rally Shiite resistance to defend Baghdad, and are now assisting the Iraqi army in its effort to recapture Tikrit.
Until this week, the U.S. stayed out, as Shiite militias were mauled by fewer than 1,000 jihadis. Wednesday, however, we intervened with air power, thus exposing Iraq’s reliance on us. This does not contradict but rather reinforces the point. In the war to expel the Islamic State from Iraq, we and Iran are on the same side.
Does Iran wish to displace American influence in Baghdad? Undeniably. But when we destroyed the Sunni Baathist regime of Saddam, disbanded his army, and held elections, we greased the skids for a pro-Iranian Shiite regime. We can’t walk that cat back.
This week, the Saudis sent their air force against the Houthi rebels who had seized the capital of Sanaa, driven out the president, and have now driven south to Aden to take over half of the country.
Why is the Saudi air force attacking the Houthis?
The Houthis belong to a sect close to the Shiite and are supported by Iran. Yet the Houthis, who bear no love for us, began this war to expel al-Qaeda from Yemen. And their hatred for ISIS is surely greater than it is for us or Israel, as, last week, 137 of their co-religionists were massacred in two mosque bombings in Sanaa. ISIS claimed credit.
In summary, though the Houthi rebels in Yemen, Shiite militia in Iraq, Iran, Hezbollah, and the Alawite regime of Assad may not love us, they look on al-Qaeda and ISIS as mortal enemies. And, thus far, they alone have seemed willing to send troops to defeat them.
Where are the Turkish, Saudi, Kuwaiti, or Qatari troops?
During World War II, the U.S. Navy and Merchant Marine shipped tanks, guns, and munitions to a Soviet Union that was doing most of the fighting and suffering most of the casualties in the war against Hitler. No matter all the “Uncle Joe” drivel at Tehran and Yalta, we were never true friends or allies, and shared nothing in common with the monster Stalin, save Hitler’s defeat.
If President Nixon could toast Mao Zedong, can we not deal with Ayatollah Khamenei?
Though “Bibi” Netanyahu won re-election last week, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations will still look into whether the State Department financed a clandestine effort to defeat him. Reportedly, State funneled $350,000 to an American NGO called OneVoice, which has an Israeli subsidiary, Victory 15, that collaborated with U.S. operatives to bring Bibi down.
If we are now secretly pumping cash into the free elections of friendly countries, to dump leaders President Obama dislikes, Americans have a right to know why we are using Cold War tactics against democracies.
After World War II, my late colleague on CNN’s “Crossfire,” Tom Braden, delivered CIA cash to democratic parties in Europe imperiled by communist parties financed from Moscow. But that was done to combat Stalinism when Western survival was at stake in a Cold War that ended in 1991.
Hopefully, after looking into OneVoice and V15, the Senate will expand its investigation into a larger question: Is the U.S. using NGOs to subvert regimes around the world? And, if so, who decides which regimes may be subverted?
What gives these questions urgency is the current crisis that has Moscow moving missiles toward Europe and sending submarines and bombers to probe NATO defenses. America contends that Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea and backing for pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine is the cause of the gathering storm in Russian-NATO relations.
Yet Putin’s actions in Ukraine were not taken until the overthrow of a democratically elected pro-Russian regime in Kiev, in a coup d’etat in which, Moscow contends, an American hand was clearly visible. Not only was John McCain in Kiev’s Maidan Square egging on the crowds that drove the regime from power, so, too, was U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland.
In an intercepted phone call with our ambassador in Kiev, Nuland identified the man we preferred when President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted. “Yats,” she called him. And when Yanukovych fled after the Maidan massacre, sure enough, Arseniy Yatsenyuk was in power. Nuland also revealed that the U.S. had spent $5 billion since 1991 to bring about the reorientation of Ukraine toward the West.
Now, bringing Ukraine into the EU and NATO may appear to Nuland & Co. a great leap forward for freedom and progress. But to Russia it looks like the subversion of a Slavic nation with which she has had intimate ties for centuries, to bring Ukraine into an economic union and military alliance directed against Moscow.
And if NATO stumbles into a military clash with Russia, the roots of that conflict will be traceable to the coup in Kiev that Russians believe was the dirty work of the Americans. If the U.S. had a role in that coup, the American people should know it and the Senate should find out whether Nuland & Co. used NGOs to reignite a Cold War that Ronald Reagan brought to an end.
And if we are now using NGOs as fronts for secret operations to dump over regimes, we are putting all NGOs abroad under suspicion and at risk.
Not in our lifetimes has America been more distrusted and disliked. And among the reasons is that we are seen as constantly carping at governments that do not measure up to our standards of democracy, and endlessly interfering in the internal affairs of nations that do not threaten us.
In this new era, U.S. foreign policy elites have boasted of the “color-coded” revolutions they helped to foment in Belgrade, Kiev, Tbilisi. In 2003, we helped to overthrow the Georgian regime of Eduard Shevardnadze in a “Rose Revolution” that brought to power Mikheil Saakashvili. And Saakashvili nearly dragged us into a confrontation with Russia in 2008, when he invaded South Ossetia and killed Russian peacekeepers.
What vital interest of ours was there in that little nation in the Caucasus, the birthplace of Stalin, to justify so great a risk? Nor is it Moscow alone that is angered over U.S. interference in its internal affairs and those of its neighbor nations.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt has expelled members of U.S. NGOs. Beijing believes U.S. NGOs were behind the Occupy-Wall-Street-style street blockages in Hong Kong. If true, these U.S. actions raise a fundamental question:
What is the preeminent goal of U.S. foreign policy? Is it to protect the vital interests and national security of the Republic? Or do we believe with George W. Bush that, “The survival of liberty” in America “depends on the success of liberty in other lands.”
If it is the latter, then our mission is utopian—and unending.
For if we believe our liberty is insecure until the whole world is democratic, then we cannot rest until we witness the overthrow of the existing regimes in Russia, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Belarus, most of the Arab and African nations, as well as Venezuela and Cuba.
And if that is our goal, our Republic will die trying to achieve it.
In November 1956, President Eisenhower, enraged he had not been forewarned of their invasion of Egypt, ordered the British, French, and Israelis to get out of Suez and Sinai. They did as told. How far we have fallen from the America of Ike and John Foster Dulles has been on painful display this March.
An Israeli leader told a joint session of Congress that President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran is stupid and dangerous and must be rejected. Congress gave him 40 ovations.
Bibi Netanyahu then went home and told the world there will be no Palestinian state, and was re-elected in a smashing victory. ”Perhaps it’s time for Americans, especially those in the White House, to recognize this new reality of Israeli politics,” says the Wall Street Journal. We should restore “Israeli confidence in U.S. support.”
Excuse me? Who is the senior partner here? Who needs whom more? Israel is entitled to choose its own leaders, who are entitled to make their own policy. But that goes for us as well.
We are today headed for a collision with Israel as serious as Suez ’56, and we are about to see what Barack Obama is made of. The days of self-delusion are over. For was there ever a doubt where Bibi stood? In 1994, he denounced the Oslo Accords in a speech interrupted by chants that Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was a “traitor.”
Did anyone think Bibi, who opposed Ariel Sharon withdrawal of Israeli settlers from Gaza, was going to withdraw tens of thousands of Jewish settlers from Judea and Samaria, share Jerusalem with a Palestinian state, or allow the return of Arab refugees to what Bibi says is the “Jewish state”?
“Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls. Left-wing organizations are busing them out,” said Bibi on his Facebook page in Hebrew, according to a translation by Haaretz. That’s the real Bibi. We have clarity now.
What should Obama do?
Drop the petulance, call and congratulate Bibi on his election and tell him we are proceeding with the Iran deal—if we conclude it accords with our interests. And if he attempts to sabotage or scuttle the deal, he should expect political and economic retaliation. Bibi is looking out for Israel first. America needs a president like Ike who will start looking out for America first.
It appears we are at a moment of truth worldwide.
Our freeloading friends in NATO, only four of whom spend 2 percent of GDP on defense, and some are cutting that, should be told that the days of Uncle Sam carrying the lion’s share of their defense are over. Ukraine and Crimea are on their continent not ours.
The Soviet Empire is dead; the Soviet Union has ceased to exist. A Russia smaller than it has been in centuries, with half the population the USSR had at the end of the Cold War, is primarily their problem not ours. If the Germans, Brits, French, and Italians will not man up and pay for their defense, let them pay tribute to powerful neighbors the way other fat, rich, and feeble nations have historically done.
The Chinese are launching an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as a rival to the U.S.-dominated World Bank. Despite our pleas, Britain, France, Italy, and Germany are rushing to sign on as charter members. South Korea and Australia may follow.
Our allies are looking to pick up contracts for the construction projects for the new Chinese “silk road” from Asia to Europe. The AIIB will have $50 billion in startup cash, a pittance to a China sitting on a hoard of $3 to $4 trillion in cash reserves, from decades of huge trade surpluses run at the expense of the United States.
Virtually all our Asian allies do a larger share of their trade with China than with us. They want to buy from and sell to China, and stay in Beijing’s good graces. But if menaced by China, they want the United States obligated by treaty to come and fight for them. One understands why this is in their interests. But why is it in ours?
Nor is the Middle East any different.
The Turks, Saudis, and Gulf Arabs want us to finish off ISIS, whom they were lately aiding, but also Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran. They want us to fight them all, but disagree on whom the Americans should fight first.
Last week, John Kerry said he might talk with Syria’s Bashar Assad, and was denounced by the Saudis. The State Department backed off. But who are the Saudis to be telling us to whom we may talk when coping with the Islamic State?
In the Eisenhower era, Dulles spoke of an “agonizing reappraisal” of our alliances, a cost-benefit analysis of what America was getting out of them, compared with what we were contributing to them.
Is there a single U.S. alliance today that would survive a cost-benefit analysis like that?