“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?
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.
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.
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority. Copyright 2015 Creators.com.
The 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.
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.
“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?
With Hillary Clinton scrambling to explain her missing emails, much of America is wailing, “Please don’t make us watch this movie again!”
Why, then, would the Republican Party, with a chance to sweep it all in 2016, want to return us to the nightmare days of George W., which caused America to rise up and throw the party out in 2006 and 2008? Do Republicans really believe that America wants a return to the Cold War with Moscow and new and larger hot wars in the Middle East?
With President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry seemingly about to conclude a deal to freeze Iran’s nuclear program, House Speaker John Boehner invited Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu to use the State of the Union podium to call Obama and Kerry naive and trash their deal as paving the ayatollah’s way to an atomic bomb.
For the U.S. House to invite a foreign leader to come into its chambers and see that leader, on national television, mocking U.S. foreign policy to wild cheering was something few of us expected to see in our lifetimes.
Came then the astonishing letter drafted by Tom Cotton, a 2-month-old senator who makes Ted Cruz look like Ramsey Clark, that was signed by 47 Republicans. Sent to the ayatollah and mullahs, the Cotton letter instructed Iran that any deal signed by Kerry might not be worth the paper it was written on.
Congress could reject the deal, said the 47, and a new president in 2017 could cancel it with “the stroke of a pen.” The letter’s purpose was the same as Bibi’s purpose—to scuttle, sabotage, and sink any U.S. nuclear deal with Iran. But if there is no deal and Iran returns to enriching uranium to 20 percent, we are on the road to war.
Is this what America has to look forward to if it votes GOP?
Another Middle Eastern war, with a country twice the size of Iraq, to strip the country of weapons of mass destruction it does not have? Didn’t we just do that at a cost of 4,500 dead, 35,000 wounded warriors, and $1.7 trillion?
GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, mulling a presidential run, has called Kerry “delusional” and charged Obama with timidity. Why? Because, said Lindsey, “he didn’t call Putin the thug that he is.” Is this what America wants, a president who will call the ruler of Russia, who has thousands of nuclear weapons and is supported by 85 percent of its people, a “thug”? Is that presidential leadership?
How does name-calling at that level advance U.S. interests?
At the Munich security conference in February, Sen. John McCain compared the negotiations in Minsk, Belarus, among German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, and Vladimir Putin to what happened in Munich in 1938.
Yet the Minsk truce is holding. Ukrainians are not dying, as of today. And the Germans are meeting to bail out Ukraine and prevent that bankrupt country from going belly up.
Yet last week, McCain said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier belongs “in the Neville Chamberlain school of diplomacy.” Said McCain, this “is the same guy that refuses—and his government—to enact any restrictions on the behavior of Vladimir Putin, who is slaughtering Ukrainians as we speak. He has no credibility.”
A former presidential nominee, McCain is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Does he speak for the party?
Will America applaud an arms airlift to prod a destitute Ukraine into fighting Russia to reimpose Kiev’s rule over the Russian-speaking Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea, in a war Ukrainians cannot win and NATO Europe will not fight?
If Putin should respond to U.S. weapons pouring into Ukraine by seizing Mariupol on the Sea of Azov and establishing a land bridge from Russia to Crimea, what would the Republicans do?
Yet undeniably, inside the GOP, the day of the hawk is again at hand. Senator Cotton, whose tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan give him a street cred that other GOP hawks do not have, is making no apologies, not backing down, driving the debate and being emulated by the GOP presidential hopefuls. Sen. Rand Paul signed his letter, as did Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
And the Republicans are betting, probably correctly, that the invitation to Bibi to diss Obama and elevate the menace of Iran will sit well with a Jewish community that historically votes Democratic. But short-term gains could be canceled out by long-term losses.
If Kerry comes home with a deal to which Germany, Britain, France, Russia, China, and the U.N. Security Council have signed on, will Congress spend two years trying to scuttle it? Will Congress refuse to lift sanctions on Iran even if all our principal allies have done so?
In addition to bellicosity, the GOP seems to suffer from inconsistency. Even as it seeks to strip Obama of his power to close a deal with Iran, it is trying to give him a blank check to fight ISIS.
And who is fighting the Islamic State today in Tikrit, Iraq?
The Shiite militia and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.
As the European Coal and Steel Community of Jean Monnet evolved into the EU, we were told a “United States of Europe” was at hand, modeled on the USA. And other countries and continents will inevitably follow Europe’s example. There will be a North American Union of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, and a Latin America Union of the Mercosur trade partnership.
In an essay, “The E.U. Experiment Has Failed,” Bruce Thornton of Hoover Institution makes the case that the verdict is in, the dream is dead, the EU is unraveling, One Europe is finished.
Consider, first, economics. In 2013, Europe grew by 1 percent compared to the U.S.’s 2.2 percent. In December, unemployment in Europe was 11.4 percent. In the U.S., 5.6 percent. Americans are alarmed by the lowest labor force participation rate since Reagan, 62.7 percent. In Europe, in 2013, it was 57.5 percent.
Europeans may wail over German-imposed “austerity,” but the government share of Europe’s GDP has gone from 45 percent in 2008 to 49 percent today. In Greece, it is 59 percent.
Most critical is the demographic crisis. For a nation to survive, its women must produce on average 2.1 children. Europe has not seen that high a fertility rate in 40 years. Today, it is down to 1.6 children. Europeans are an aging, shrinking, disappearing, dying race.
And the places of Europe’s unborn are being filled by growing “concentrations of unassimilated and disaffected Muslim immigrants, segregated in neighborhoods like the banlieues of Paris or the satellite ‘dish cities’ of Amsterdam.
Shut out from labor markets, plied with generous social welfare payments and allowed to cultivate beliefs and cultural practices inimical to democracy, many of these immigrants despise their new homes, and find the religious commitment and certainty of radical Islam an attractive alternative.
“Some turn to terrorism,” like the French-Algerian brothers who carried out the slaughter at the magazine Charlie Hebdo. ”Such violence,” writes Thornton, “along with cultural practices like honor killings, forced marriages and polygamy … are stoking a political backlash against Muslims.”
Populist parties are surging—the U.K. Independence Party in Britain, the National Front in France, and now the “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident,” PEGIDA, in Germany, These parties will soon be strong enough to enter governments, impose restrictions on immigration and demand assimilation.
Then the cultural conflicts may turn violent.
A fundamental question has troubled European unification since the Treaty of Rome in 1957, writes Thornton: “What comprises the collective beliefs of and values that can form the foundations of a genuine European-wide community? What is it that all Europeans believe?
Europe and its nations were forged in the matrix of ideas, ideals, and beliefs of Christianity, which gives divine sanction to notions like human rights, the sanctity of the individual, political freedom and equality. Today across Europe Christian belief is a shadow of its former self.
Fewer and fewer Europeans regularly go to Church. … It is common for many European cathedrals to have more tourists during a service than parishioners. … This process of secularization — already well advanced in 1887 when Nietzsche famously said, ‘God is no more than a faded word today, not even a concept’ — is nearly complete today, leaving Europe without its historical principle of unity.
Political religions—communism, fascism, Nazism—are substitute gods that failed. “Nor has secular social democracy … provided people with a transcendent principle that justifies sacrifice for the greater good, or even gives people a reason to reproduce. A shared commitment to leisure, a short workweek, and a generous social safety net is nothing worth killing or dying for.”
And who will die for Donetsk, Luhansk or Crimea? Pacifism beckons. Every major European nation in NATO—Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Poland—will see defense spending in 2015 below 2 percent of GDP.
The idea of One Europe has depended on “the denigration of patriotism and national pride,” writes Thornton, “Yet all peoples are the products of a particular culture, language, mores, traditions, histories, landscapes. … That sense of belonging to a community defined by a shared identity cannot be created by a single currency.”
Christianity gave Europe its faith, identity, purpose, and will to conquer and convert the world. Christianity created Europe. And the death of Christianity leaves the continent with no unifying principle save a watery commitment to democracy and La Dolce Vita.
From Marine Le Pen’s France to Putin’s Russia, nationalism and patriotism are surging across Europe because peoples, deprived of or disbelieving in the old faith, want a new faith to give meaning, purpose, vitality to their lives, something to live for, fight for, die for.
Countless millions of Muslims have found in their old faith their new faith. And the descendants of fallen-away European Christians of the 19th and 20th centuries are finding their new faith in old tribal and national identities.
Less and less does multiculturalism look like the wave of the future.
America, we have a problem.
In the blood-soaked chaotic Middle East, with few exceptions like the Kurds, our friends either can’t or won’t fight.
The Free Syrian Army folded. The U.S.-armed Hazm force in Syria has just collapsed after being routed by the al-Nusra Front. The Iraqi army we trained and equipped fled Mosul and ran all the way to Baghdad. The Turks could annihilate ISIS in Syria, but they won’t fight. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arabs have sent zero troops to fight ISIS. A handful of air strikes is it.
Now consider what our old enemies have done and are doing.
Hezbollah and Iran have sustained Bashar Assad’s Syrian army for four years and have ISIS and the al-Nusra Front on the defensive around Aleppo. Iran and its allied Shiite militia in Iraq are battling ISIS for Tikrit. Backed by Hezbollah, Houthi rebels have seized Yemen’s capital and are battling al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. AQAP is the No. 1 terrorist threat to the U.S. homeland.
While Iran and its allies are fighting al-Qaeda and ISIS, Turkey and our Arab allies are malingerers at best and collaborators at worst. How explain this? Not difficult. The Shiites, a religious minority in the Muslim world—Hezbollah, Assad’s regime, Baghdad, Tehran—see ISIS as a mortal threat and are willing to fight to kill the monster.
Our Sunni allies won’t go out and fight ISIS, because that would make them allies of Iran and the Shiites, whom they fear even more. Our Sunni friends want America to crush ISIS and al-Qaeda, then to crush Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran. But why is it in our interest to send U.S. troops back into any of these wars?
Is America more threatened than our Arab allies? Rather than listening to allies who are noncombatants, we should take a hard look at the Mideast. To whom does the future belong? And with what can we live?
The Republicans want to give a blank check to Obama and any future president to fight ISIS and al-Qaeda everywhere and forever. And they want the United States to treat Iran as we should have treated Nazi Germany had Hitler been about to get the bomb.
But if the GOP platform takes the neocon-Netanyahu line that we must not only fight ISIS and al-Qaeda, but also Iran and Syria, the party will imperil its improving chances for 2016.
Americans don’t want another war. And if John Kerry comes home with a deal on Iran’s nuclear program, Americans are likely to reject a party that is seen as trying to torpedo that deal, when the alternative is war with Iran.
We do not know exactly what is in the Kerry deal, but what has been revealed thus far is no cause for panic or hysteria. Though Israel has 200 atomic bombs, Iran has not produced a single ounce of uranium enriched to bomb-grade 90 percent. Since talks began, Iran has diluted all of its 20-percent enriched uranium and halted production. Tehran is willing to cut her operating centrifuges by a third.
Inspectors and cameras are now in all of Iran’s nuclear facilities. The heavy-water plant at Arak, which would produce plutonium, has been halted. The reprocessing plant that would be needed to extract bomb-grade material has not even been started.
U.S. intelligence agencies in 2007 and 2011 declared, with high confidence, that Iran has no active bomb program. While Bibi Netanyahu says the Ayatollah tweeted that Israel must be “annihilated,” the same Ayatollah issued a fatwa against Iran ever producing nuclear weapons.
We cannot trust Iran, we are told. Correct. Nor should we, as history has proven. Moscow cheated on Nixon’s SALT I agreement by replacing its light single-warhead SS-11 missiles with heavy SS-19s with multiple warheads.
But as Meir Dagan, ex-head of Mossad points out, if Iran cheats at any of its facilities, we will know it, and it would take a year before Tehran could produce enough highly enriched uranium even to test a bomb. Plenty of time to gas up the B-2s.
Another question, too rarely raised, is this: Why would Iran test and build a nuclear bomb, when this would set off a nuclear arms race across the Middle East and put Iran in mortal peril of being smashed by the United States, or by Israel with a preemptive strike?
Right now, Hezbollah dominates Lebanon. Assad is gaining ground in Syria. Iraq, thanks to “W,” is Iran’s ally, not the mortal enemy of Saddam’s day. The Houthi have Sanaa. The Shiite majority in Bahrain, where the U.S. Fifth Fleet is berthed, will one day dominate that Gulf state. And the Shiites in oil-rich northeast Saudi Arabia will one day rise up against Riyadh.
Why build a bomb, why get into a war with a nuclear-armed superpower, when everything’s going your way?
Eric Holder’s Justice Department has completed its investigation into whether Ferguson cop Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown in cold blood for racist reasons when he shot the black teenager last August.
What did the massive six-month FBI investigation discover?
According to the Washington Post, “after canvassing more than 300 homes and reviewing physical, ballistic, forensic, medical and crime-scene evidence” and examining “Wilson’s personnel records, audio, and video recordings,” Justice concluded Wilson told the truth about what happened that Saturday in Ferguson.
Officer Wilson is innocent of the endless libels and slanders in the press and on television, and by street demagogues and the pack of liars who, under oath, told a St. Louis County grand jury that Brown had his hands up, crying, “Don’t shoot!” when Wilson cut him down.
The liars, however, will not be called out, nor will the perjurers be prosecuted. For Holder says, in the words of the Post, that “the discrepancy” between what happened and what the liars testified to “was due, in part, to a deeply rooted pattern of racial bias in the police department that had left the Ferguson community polarized.” Holder is saying that we must cut slack for folks who lied to get an innocent cop indicted for murder, because their community had been badly treated by Ferguson cops and courts.
And what about the nights and days of rioting, looting, arson, and anarchy in Ferguson and beyond following the death of Brown? Holder has an explanation for that, too.
[A]mid a highly toxic environment, defined by mistrust and resentment [of police], stoked by years of bad feelings and spurred by illegal and misguided practices, it is not difficult to imagine how a single tragic incident set off the city of Ferguson like a powder keg.
This, said Holder, was the root of the rage in Ferguson. Sorry, Eric, that dog won’t hunt.
When a powder keg goes off, there is a single explosion. And one can understand how, in the first or second night after the death of Michael Brown—originally seen as a shooting by a berserk cop who unloaded his weapon in broad daylight on a teenager—this could set folks off.
But this lawlessness went on, week after week after week, and involved not only rioting and rampages in Ferguson, but the blockage of streets, malls and stores, hundreds of miles away, up to Christmas.
And this rampant criminality was accompanied by the complicit silence of the president of the United States and his attorney general. When, ever, did either come down hard on the hoodlum element that exploited Ferguson?
Yet, while Wilson may be innocent, says Holder, the Ferguson police department and courts are steeped in white racism. The proof of this? Though African-Americans are 67 percent of the population of Ferguson, they account for 93 percent of all arrests.
But these figures prove nothing. According to the FBI crime statistics of recent years, though African-Americans are 13 percent of the population, they account for one-third to one-half of all violent crimes.
In Washington, D.C., African-Americans are half the population. But they are responsible for a huge percentage of all the robberies, rapes, assaults, and murders, and especially the interracial crimes of violence. What should it be any different in Ferguson?
And if Ferguson is such a racist hellhole, why have black folks moved there from St. Louis, and why did only 6 percent of African-Americans go to the polls in the election prior to the Brown shooting? Does that sound like a community on fire with resentment over a racist city regime?
As evidence of the racism in the Ferguson Police Department, Justice produced, seven, count ‘em, “seven racist e-mails,” said the Post. Here, to the Post, are three of the most horrible:
A November 2008 e-mail, for instance, stated that President Obama could not be president for very long because ‘what black man holds a steady job for four years?’ Another e-mail described Obama as a chimpanzee. An e-mail from 2011 showed a photo of a bare-chested group of dancing women apparently in Africa with the caption: ‘Michelle Obama’s High School Reunion.’
This is it? The FBI plowed through eight years of emails from the Ferguson P.D. and came up with this? And for this, Ferguson goes into the history books alongside the Sand Creek and Fort Pillow massacres?
In its March 5 editorial, “A Chilling Portrait of Ferguson,” the New York Times bewails the “entrenched racism in the Ferguson police force.” But the real story of Ferguson is the entrenched bigotry that propelled a mob-like rush to judgment by journalists and race hustlers that ruined the life of an honest cop who did his duty and told the truth.
In this version of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Darren Wilson is Tom Robinson—the victim of anti-white racism—and St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch is Atticus Finch.
Think Hollywood would be interested in doing this terrific story?
Last week, John Kerry seemed to be auditioning for the role of Dr. Pangloss.
Despite jihadi violence across the Middle East and ISIS terror in Iraq and Syria, Kerry told Congress, we live in “a period of less daily threat to Americans and to people in the world than normally—less deaths, less violent deaths today than through the last century.”
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper appeared to undercut Kerry the next day when he testified, “When the final accounting is done, 2014 will have been the most lethal year for global terrorism in the 45 years [since] such data has been complied.” From January through September 2014, said Clapper, there were 13,000 terrorist attacks that killed 31,000 people. Afghanistan and Pakistan accounted for half of these attacks. And the Islamic State ranks first among terrorist organizations.
Yet, is Kerry wrong?
Despite our outrage over the barbarity of ISIS—beheadings of journalists and aid workers by “Jihadi John,” and of Christians on a beach—this century does not remotely rival in evil the bloodiest century of them all, the 20th.
From 1914-1918, nine million men died in the Great War. A comparable number of civilians perished. At war’s end came the Russian Revolution and civil war, the Red Terror of Lenin, the genocide of the kulaks, the Holodomor in Ukraine and Stalin’s Great Purge of the ’30s.
Stalin’s butcher’s bill alone has been estimated at 30 million.
From World War II, 1939-45, European and Asian theaters together, the dead are estimated at another 50 million. From 1945-49, in the Chinese civil war between the Communists of Mao Zedong and the Nationalists of Chiang Kai-shek, millions more died. The 1947-48 war in the subcontinent that severed Pakistan from India also consumed millions of Hindu and Muslim lives.
Came then Korea and Vietnam, where the U.S. dead totaled well over 90,000, and the Korean and Vietnamese dead numbered in the millions. Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge produced a million dead Cambodians in their first year in power in 1975.
The Biafran War of secession from Nigeria from 1967 to 1970, the Derg coup in Ethiopia in 1974 and subsequent Marxist rule until 1991, Rwanda in the 1990s, were each responsible for over a million deaths.
World War I gave us poison gas and starvation blockades; World War II provided ethnic cleansing, genocide, saturation bombing of cities and women and children, with the firestorms of Tokyo, Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki the grand finale.
Does not Kerry have a case?
We Americans lost more than 600,000 dead from 1861-1865, and another 600,000 died in World Wars I and II, Korea and Vietnam. In this century, in Afghanistan and Iraq, the two longest wars in our history, the death toll is 7,000—a terrible loss, but a tiny fraction of the number of Americans lost in wars during many of our lifetimes.
What Americans seem to lack today is a sense of perspective and what Mark Twain called “the calm confidence of a Christian with four aces.”
Jihadi John is a psycho, a sicko, a Charlie Manson who is loving all this publicity. He is not an “existential threat” to the United States. Nor is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, or as he now calls himself, “Caliph Ibrahim,” who told his American captors who handed him over to Iraqi authorities in 2009, “I’ll see you guys in New York.” Not likely, Abu.
This is not to say that America should dismiss the revolutionary forces roiling an Islamic world of dozens of nation states. If the Sunni regimes do not cope with this challenge, the epidemic could engulf them. But as threats to the United States, ISIS, al-Qaeda and Boko Haram are pathetic compared to Hitler’s Reich, Tojo’s Japan, or the nuclear-armed “evil empire” of the Cold War.
During the height of the Vietnam War in 1968, we were losing 200 dead a week. During World War II, it was 2,000 dead a week. How many Americans are dying each week at the hands of ISIS?
Make no mistake. These terrorists can bring down an airliner, shoot up malls, blow up buildings, and kill a number of us. And they will behead any American who falls into their hands. But they cannot run a country. And they cannot defeat the United States.
Let us put this peril in perspective.
Each year, 33,000 American die in auto accidents and tens of thousands die of the flu. Last week, the Center for Disease Control reported that in 2011 alone, Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, a disease this writer had never heard of, caused 15,000 deaths in the USA.
How many American deaths did ISIS cause?
As the Shiites are already engaged against ISIS, we should inform our Sunni friends—the Turks, Egyptians, Saudis, Gulf Arabs: As you are the most threatened here, you are the first responders to this blaze.
We will have your back, but we will not fight your war for you.
If the sadists of ISIS are seeking—with their mass executions, child rapes, immolations, and beheadings of Christians—to stampede us into a new war in the Middle East, they are succeeding.
Repeatedly snapping the blood-red cape of terrorist atrocities in our faces has the Yankee bull snorting, pawing the ground, ready to charge again.
“Nearly three-quarters of Republicans now favor sending ground troops into combat against the Islamic State,” says a CBS News poll. The poll was cited in a New York Times story about how the voice of the hawk is ascendant again in the GOP.
In April or May 2015, said a Pentagon briefer last week, the Iraqi Army will march north to recapture Mosul from the Islamic State. On to Mosul! On to Raqqa! Yet, who, exactly, will be taking Mosul?
According to Rowan Scarborough of the Washington Times, the U.S. general who trained the Iraqi army says Mosul is a mined, booby-trapped city, infested with thousands of suicide fighters. Any Iraqi army attack this spring would be “doomed.”
Translation: Either U.S. troops lead, or Mosul remains in ISIS’ hands. Yet taking Mosul is only the beginning. Scores of thousands of troops will be needed to defeat and destroy ISIS in Syria.
And eradicating ISIS is but the first of the wars Republicans have in mind. This coming week, at the invitation of Speaker John Boehner, Bibi Netanyahu will address a joint session of Congress.
His message: Obama and John Kerry are bringing back a rotten deal that will ensure Iran acquires nuclear weapons and becomes an existential threat to Israel. Congress must repudiate Obama’s deal, impose new sanctions on Iran and terminate the appeasement talks.
Should Bibi and his Republican allies succeed in closing the ramp to a diplomatic solution, we will be on the road to war. Which is where Bibi wants us.
To him, Iran is the Nazi Germany of the 21st century, hell-bent on a new Holocaust. A U.S. war that does to the Ayatollah’s Iran what a U.S. war did to Hitler’s Germany would put Bibi in the history books as the Israeli Churchill.
But if Republicans scuttle the Iranian negotiations by voting new sanctions, Iran will take back the concessions it has made, and we are indeed headed for war. Which is where Sen. Lindsey Graham, too, now toying with a presidential bid, wants us to be. In 2010, Sen. Graham declared: “Instead of a surgical strike on [Iran's] nuclear infrastructure … we’re to the point now that you have to really neuter the regime’s ability to wage war against us and our allies. … [We must] destroy the ability of the regime to strike back.”
If Congress scuttles the nuclear talks, look for Congress to next write an authorization for the use of military force—on Iran.
Today, the entire Shiite Crescent—Iran, Iraq, Bashar Assad’s Syria, Hezbollah—is fighting ISIS. All these Shiites are de facto allies in any war against ISIS. But should we attack Iran, they will become enemies. And what would war with Iran mean for U.S. interests?
With its anti-ship missiles and hundreds of missile boats, Iran could imperil our fleet in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea. The Gulf could be closed to commercial shipping by a sinking or two. Hezbollah could go after the U.S. embassy in Beirut. The Green Zone in Baghdad could come under attack by Shiite militia loyal to Iran.
Would Assad’s army join Iran’s fight against America? It surely would if America listened to those Republicans who now say we must bring down Assad to convince Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arabs to join the fight against ISIS.
By clashing with Iran, we would make enemies of Damascus and Baghdad and the Shiite militias in Iraq and Beirut battling ISIS today—in the hope that, tomorrow, the conscientious objectors of the Sunni world—Turks, Saudis, Gulf Arabs—might come and fight beside us.
Listen for long to GOP foreign-policy voices, and you can hear calls for war on ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, the Houthi rebels, the Assad regime, the Islamic Republic of Iran, to name but a few.
Are we to fight them all? How many U.S. troops will be needed? How long will all these wars take? What will the Middle East look like after we crush them all? Who will fill the vacuum if we go? Or must we stay forever?
Nor does this exhaust the GOP war menu. Enraged by Vladimir Putin’s defiance, Republicans are calling for U.S. weapons, trainers, even troops, to be sent to Ukraine and Moldova.
Says John Bolton, himself looking at a presidential run, “Most of the Republican candidates or prospective candidates are heading in the right direction; there’s one who’s headed in the wrong direction.”
That would be Rand Paul, who prefers “Arab boots on the ground.”
Back in 1987, this writer was invited by friends to advise them on a press conference they had called to oppose President Reagan’s signing of an INF treaty to remove all nuclear missiles from Europe.
My advice: Deplore the treaty; do not attack the president. The next day, Howard Phillips declared that Ronald Reagan had become a “useful idiot for Soviet propaganda.”
Howie captured the headlines, as did Rudy Giuliani after that dinner at 21 Club for Gov. Scott Walker, where the mayor spontaneously rose to declaim, “I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. … He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up, through love of his country.”
The next day, Rudy doubled down, bringing up Obama’s old ties to socialists and communists: Stalinist Frank Marshall Davis, radical Saul Alinsky, 1970s bomber Bill Ayers, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Rudy could not understand why at the National Prayer Breakfast the president launched an attack on the Crusades and the Inquisition, done “in the name of Christ.” The mayor could not understand why Obama had trouble identifying and naming ISIS as radical Islamic terrorists.
Though this writer heard several radio talk show hosts Friday cheer Rudy on, Republicans swiftly declared that Obama’s love for America must not be questioned. Urged to put space between themselves and Rudy, most Republican leaders swiftly did.
The consultant class’ advice was near unanimous: Cut Rudy loose.
Sensing retreat, the left pursued. And it is not letting go. They still demand to know why Walker did not renounce Rudy and whether he believes Obama is a Christian. For weeks the governor has been bedeviled for refusing to say in London if he believes in evolution.
Walker’s initial response to whether he thought Obama was a Christian was, “I don’t know. … To me this is a classic example of why people hate Washington, and, increasingly, they dislike the press.” Yet, Walker’s spokesperson hastily issued this corrective statement, “Of course the governor thinks the president is a Christian.”
Monday, Rudy walked back his remark that Obama does not love America, writing in the Wall Street Journal, “I didn’t intend to question President Obama’s motives or the content of his heart.” The Republican rout was complete.
While this, too, shall pass away, what it reveals is the balance of power in the culture war and which side has the whip hand. And what it portends is a drive by the left to pull the GOP back onto the terrain of moral and social issues where its candidates are, or can be portrayed, as out of step with modernity.
Lately, this writer heard a political analyst say that if the GOP platform opposes same-sex marriage, the party can write off California and its 55 electoral votes. Which may be true. Such has been the cultural and moral shift in America in just a few years.
Yet if the party is true to its past platforms and professed convictions, how can it endorse or equivocate on same-sex marriage? As for whether one believes in Darwinian evolution, it is neither an inconsequential nor illegitimate question. For where one stands on biblical truth, natural law, a creator, and intelligent design is a strong if not absolute indicator of where one comes down on abortion, same-sex marriage, assisted suicide, euthanasia, and legalized narcotics.
To traditionalists, the de-Christianized and secularized character of American society is of greater concern than whose flag flies over Sebastopol. And if the GOP visibly retreats or takes a stand of studied neutrality on these issues, it will lose the enthusiasm of the most ardent of its admirers. And the party can’t afford that.
Democrats and their media allies may be expected to elevate the social issues, both because they sever the GOP from the cultural-media mainstream, and they drive a wedge into the party base between economic and social conservatives. One imagines those conservatives gathered at Club 21 were more interested in hearing how a President Walker would cut corporate and capital gains taxes than how soon Roe v. Wade could be overturned.
Since the Republican victory in November, it has not been a good quarter for the GOP. Obama, repudiated, seems liberated. Ignoring GOP protests, he issued an executive amnesty for five million illegal immigrants. He promises to veto the Keystone XL pipeline. He taunted the GOP in his State of the Union. He is back to 50 percent approval in the polls.
The economy added 1 million jobs in three months. The Dow Jones Friday hit a record high. Senate Democrats are happily filibustering to death the House bill to defund amnesty. And if the Department of Homeland Security has to shut down for lack of funds, Obama and his media allies will see to it the GOP is blamed.
And the national rollouts of the Bush III and Walker campaigns have shown that neither is ready for prime time.
“Free trade results in giving our money, our manufactures, and our markets to other nations,” warned the Republican Senator from Ohio and future President William McKinley in 1892. ”Thank God I am not a free-trader,” echoed the rising Empire State Republican and future President Theodore Roosevelt.
Those were the voices of a Republican Party that believed in prospering America first.
For a quarter century, however, the party of the Bushes has been a globalist, New World Order party, and fanatically free trade. It signed on to NAFTA, GATT, the World Trade Organization, most-favored-nation status for China, CAFTA, and KORUS, the U.S.-Korean trade treaty negotiated by Barack Obama.
So supportive have Republicans been of anything sold as free trade they have agreed to “fast track,” the voluntary surrender by Congress of its constitutional power “to regulate commerce with foreign nations.” With fast track, Congress gives up its right to amend trade treaties, and agrees to restrict itself to a yea or nay vote.
And who is leading the fight to have Congress again surrender its power over trade? The GOP vice presidential nominee, and current chairman of ways and means, Paul Ryan.
Yet when one looks back on the devastation wrought by free trade, how can a party that purports to put America first sign on to fast track yet again? In the first decade of this century, the United States lost 5 to 6 million manufacturing jobs. We lost 55,000 factories, a devastation of industry not unlike what we inflicted on Germany and Japan in 1944-45.
The trade figures are in for 2014. What do they show?
The United States ran a trade deficit of $505 billion. But as the Economic Policy Institute’s Robert Scott points out, in manufactured goods, the U.S. trade deficit rose to $524 billion, a surge of $77 billion over 2013. The U.S. trade deficit with China soared to $342 billion. Our exports to China amounted to $125 billion. But our imports from China were almost four times as great, $467 billion.
Since Jan. 1, 2000, U.S. trade deficits with China have totaled an astronomical $3.3 trillion.
How do Clinton, Bush II, and Obama defend these trade deficits that have done to our country exactly what McKinley warned they would do in 1892—given away “our money, our manufactures, and our markets” to Communist China? Have the Chinese reciprocated for this historic transfer of America’s productive capacity and wealth by becoming a better friend and partner?
While the United States ran a $505 billion trade deficit overall, in goods we ran a trade deficit of $737 billion, or 4 percent of GDP. And while our trade deficit in goods with China was $343 billion, with the European Union it was $141 billion, with Japan $67 billion, with Mexico $54 billion, with Canada $34 billion, with South Korea $25 billion.
Our Mexican neighbors send us illegal migrants to compete for U.S. jobs. And our multinationals send to Mexico the factories and jobs of Middle America, to exploit the low-wage labor there. One can, after all, assemble Fords more cheaply in Hermosillo than Ohio.
Of particular interest is Korea, with which the United States signed a free-trade agreement in 2011. Since then, U.S. exports to Korea have fallen, U.S. imports have risen 80 percent, and we ran a $25 billion trade deficit in 2014. With the KORUS deal the template for the new Trans-Pacific Partnership, how can Republicans vote to throw away their right to alter or amend any TPP that Obama brings home?
Was the national vote to give Republicans majorities in Congress unseen since 1946 a vote to have the GOP turn over all power to write trade treaties to Obama and his negotiators who produced the greatest trade deficits in American history? Do these record deficits justify such blind confidence in Obama? Do they justify Congress’ renunciation of rights over commerce that the Founding Fathers explicitly set aside for the legislative branch in Article I of the Constitution?
“If we don’t like the way the global economy works,” says Paul Ryan, “then we have to get out there and change it.” No, we don’t. The great and justified complaint against China and Japan, who have run the largest trade surpluses at our expense, is that they are “currency manipulators.”
Correct. But the way to deal with currency manipulators is to rob them of the benefits of their undervalued currencies by slapping tariffs on goods they send to the United States.
And if the WTO says you can’t do that, give the WTO the answer Theodore Roosevelt would have given them.
Instead of wringing our hands over income inequality and wage stagnation, why don’t we turn these trade deficits into trade surpluses, as did the generations of Lincoln and McKinley, and T.R. and Cal Coolidge?
Hopefully, the shaky truce between Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s Petro Poroshenko, brokered in Minsk by Angela Merkel, will hold. For nothing good, but much evil, could come of broadening and lengthening this war that has cost the lives of 5,400 Ukrainians.
The longer it goes on, the greater the casualties, the more land Ukraine will lose, and the greater the likelihood Kiev will end up an amputated and bankrupt republic, a dependency the size of France on the doorstep of Europe. Had no truce been achieved, 8,000 Ukrainian troops trapped in the Debaltseve pocket could have been forced to surrender or wiped out, causing a regime crisis in Kiev. U.S. weapons could have begun flowing in, setting the stage for a collision between Russia and the United States.
One understands Russia’s vital interest in retaining its Black Sea naval base in Crimea, and keeping Ukraine out of NATO. And one sees the vital interest of Ukraine in not losing the Donbas. But what is America’s vital interest here?
Merkel says a great principle is at stake, that in post-Cold War Europe, borders are not to be changed by force. That is idealistic, but is it realistic?
At the Cold War’s end, Yugoslavia split into seven nations, the USSR into 15. Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo, even Slovenia briefly, had to fight to break free. So, too, did the statelets of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in breaking from Georgia, and Transnistria from Moldova. Inside Russia there are still minorities such as the Chechens who wish to break free. And in many of the new nations like Ukraine, there are ethnic Russians who want to go home.
Indeed, a spirit of secessionism pervades the continent of Europe. But while London permitted the Scottish secessionists a vote, Madrid refuses to concede that right to the Basques or Catalans. And some of these ethnic minorities may one day fight to break free, as the Irish did a century ago.
Yet of all of the secessionist movements from the Atlantic to the Urals, none imperils a vital interest of the United States. None is really our business. And none justifies a war with Russia.
Indeed, what is it about this generation of Americans that makes us such compulsive meddlers in the affairs of nations we could not find on a map? Consider if you will our particular affliction: Putin paranoia.
Forty years ago, this writer was in Moscow with Richard Nixon on his last summit with Leonid Brezhnev. It was not a contentious affair, though the USSR was then the command center of an immense empire that stretched from Berlin to the Bering Sea.
And when we are warned that Putin wishes to restore that USSR of 1974, and to reassemble that Soviet Empire of yesterday, have we really considered what that would require of him?
To restore the USSR, Putin would have to recapture Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, an area the size of the United States. To resurrect the Soviet Empire, Putin would have to invade and occupy Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, and then overrun Germany to the Elbe River.
How far along is Putin in re-establishing the empire of the czars and commissars? He has reannexed Crimea, which is roughly the size of Vermont, and which the Romanovs acquired in the 18th century.
Yet almost daily we hear the din from Capitol Hill, “The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!” That there is bad blood between America and Putin is undeniable. And, indeed, Putin has his quarrels with us as well.
In his eyes, we took advantage of the dissolution of the USSR to move NATO into Eastern Europe and the Baltic republics. We used our color-coded revolutions to dump over pro-Russian regimes in Serbia, Ukraine, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan.
Yet beyond our mutual distrust, or even contempt, is there not common ground between us? As the century unfolds, two clear and present dangers threaten U.S. strategic interests: the rising power of a covetous China and the spread of Islamic terrorism. In dealing with both, Russia is a natural ally.
China sees Siberia and the Russian Far East, with its shrinking population, as a storehouse of the resources Beijing needs. And against the Taliban in Afghanistan, ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and al-Qaeda, Russia, which suffered in Beslan and Moscow what New York, London, Madrid, Paris, and Copenhagen have suffered, is on our side.
During the Cold War, Russia was in thrall to an ideology hostile to all we believed in. She had rulers who commanded a world empire.
Yet we had presidents who could do business with Moscow.
If we could negotiate with neo-Stalinists issues as grave as the the Berlin Wall, and ballistic missiles in Cuba, why cannot we sit down with Vladimir Putin and discuss less earthshaking matters, such as whose flag should fly over Luhansk and Donetsk?