Patrick J. Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative and the author of the book The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.
Since World War II, the two men who have most terrified this city by winning the presidency are Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump.
And they have much in common.
Both came out of the popular culture, Reagan out of Hollywood, Trump out of a successful reality TV show. Both possessed the gifts of showmen — extraordinarily valuable political assets in a television age that deals cruelly with the uncharismatic.
Both became instruments of insurgencies out to overthrow the establishment of the party whose nomination they were seeking.
Reagan emerged as the champion of the postwar conservatism that had captured the Republican Party with Barry Goldwater’s nomination in 1964. His victory in 1980 came at the apogee of conservative power.
The populism that enabled Trump to crush 16 Republican rivals and put him over the top in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan had also arisen a decade and a half before — in the 1990s.
A decisive advantage Reagan and Trump both enjoyed is that in their decisive years, the establishments of both parties were seen as having failed the nation.
Reagan was victorious after Russia invaded Afghanistan; Americans were taken hostage in Tehran; and the U.S. had endured 21 percent interest rates, 13 percent inflation, 7 percent unemployment and zero growth.
When Trump won, Americans had gone through years of wage stagnation. Our industrial base had been hollowed out. And we seemed unable to win or end a half-dozen Middle East wars in which we had become ensnared.
What is the common denominator of both the Reagan landslide of 1980 and Trump’s victory?
Both candidates appealed to American nationalism.
In the late 1970s, Reagan took the lead in the campaign to save the Panama Canal. “We bought it. We paid for it. It’s ours. And we’re going to keep it,” thundered the Gipper.
While he lost the fight for the Canal when the GOP establishment in the Senate lined up behind Jimmy Carter, the battle established Reagan as a leader who put his country first.
Trump unapologetically seized upon the nationalist slogan that was most detested by our globalist elites, “America first!”
He would build a wall, secure the border, stop the invasion. He would trash the rotten trade treaties negotiated by transnational elites who had sold out our sovereignty and sent our jobs to China.
He would demand that freeloading allies in Europe, the Far East and the Persian Gulf pay their fair share of the cost of their defense.
In the rhetoric of Reagan and Trump there is a simplicity and a directness that is familiar to, and appeals to, the men and women out in Middle America, to whom both directed their campaigns.
In his first press conference in January of 1981, Reagan said of the Kremlin, “They reserve unto themselves the right to commit any crime, to lie, to cheat. … We operate on a different set of standards.”
He called the Soviet Union an “evil empire” and the “focus of evil in the modern world.”
The State Department was as wary of what Reagan might say or do then as they are of what Trump might tweet now.
But while there are similarities between these outsiders who captured their nominations and won the presidency by defying and then defeating the establishments of both political parties, the situations they confront are dissimilar.
Reagan took office in a time of Cold War clarity.
Though there was sharp disagreement over how tough the United States should be and what was needed for national defense, there was no real question as to who our adversaries were.
As had been true since the time of Harry Truman, the world struggle was between communism and freedom, the USSR and the West, the Warsaw Pact and the NATO alliance.
There was a moral clarity then that no longer exists now.
Today, the Soviet Empire is gone, the Warsaw Pact is gone, the Soviet Union is gone, and the Communist movement is moribund.
NATO embraces three former republics of the USSR, and we confront Moscow in places like Crimea and the Donbass that no American of the Reagan era would have regarded as a national interest of the United States.
We no longer agree on who our greatest enemies are, or what the greatest threats are.
Is it Vladimir Putin’s Russia? Is it Iran? Is it China, which Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson says must be made to vacate the air, missile and naval bases it has built on rocks and reefs in a South China Sea that Beijing claims as its national territory?
Is it North Korea, now testing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles?
Beyond issues of war and peace, there are issues at home — race, crime, policing, abortion, LGBT rights, immigration (legal and illegal) and countless others on which this multicultural, multiracial and multiethnic nation is split two, three, many ways.
The existential question of the Trump era might be framed thus: How long will this divided democracy endure as one nation and one people?
Patrick J. Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative and the author of the book The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.
“Fake news!” roared Donald Trump, the work of “sick people.”
The president-elect was referring to a 35-page dossier of lurid details of his alleged sexual misconduct in Russia, worked up by a former British spy. A two-page summary of the 35 pages had been added to Trump’s briefing by the CIA and FBI — and then leaked to CNN.
This is “something that Nazi Germany would have done,” Trump said. Here, basically, is the story.
During the primaries, anti-Trump Republicans hired the ex-spy to do “oppo research” on Trump, i.e., to dig up dirt.
The spy contacted the Russians. They told him that Trump, at a Moscow hotel in 2013, had been engaged in depraved behavior, that they had the films to blackmail him, and that Trump’s aides had been colluding with them.
When Trump won the nomination, Democrats got the dossier and began shopping it around to the mainstream media. Some sought to substantiate the allegations. None could. So none of them published the charges.
In December, a British diplomat gave the dossier to Sen. John McCain, who personally turned it over to James Comey of the FBI.
On Jan. 7, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and his colleagues at the NSA, CIA and FBI decided the new president needed to know about the dossier. They provided him with a two-page synopsis.
Once CNN learned Trump had been briefed, the cable news network reported on the unpublished dossier, without going into the lurid details.
BuzzFeed released all 35 pages. The story exploded.
Besides Trump’s understandable outrage, his Jan. 11 press conference produced related news.
U.S. intelligence agencies had for months contended that it was Russia who hacked the DNC emails and those of Clinton campaign chief John Podesta. Putin’s objectives, they contend, were to damage both U.S. democracy and Hillary Clinton, whom Putin detests, and to aid Trump.
Trump had previously dismissed claims of Russian hacking as unproved conjecture, and also as being advanced to delegitimize his victory.
Wednesday, Trump conceded Russia did it: “As far as hacking, I think it was Russia,” adding, Vladimir Putin “should not be doing it.”
The stakes in all of this are becoming huge.
Clearly, Trump hopes to work out with Putin the kind of detente that President Nixon achieved with Leonid Brezhnev.
This should not be impossible. For, unlike the 1970s, there is no Soviet Empire stretching from Havana to Hanoi, no Warsaw Pact dominating Central Europe, no Communist ideology steering Moscow into constant Cold War conflict with the West.
Russia is a great power with great power interests. But she does not seek to restore a global empire or remake the world in her image. U.S.-Russian relations are thus ripe for change.
But any such hope is now suddenly impaired.
The howls of indignation from Democrats and the media — that Trump’s victory and Clinton’s defeat were due to Putin’s involvement in our election — have begun to limit Trump’s freedom of action in dealing with Russia. And they are beginning to strengthen the hand of the Russophobes and the Putin-is-Hitler crowd in both parties.
When Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson went before the Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Marco Rubio demanded to know why he would not publicly declare Putin a “war criminal.”
The more toxic Putin-haters can make the Russian president, the more difficult for President Trump to deal with him, even if that is in the vital national interest of the United States.
The sort of investigation for which McCain has been clamoring, and the Beltway drums have now begun to beat, could make it almost impossible for President Trump to work with President Putin.
The Washington Post describes the engine it wishes to see built:
“The investigators of Russian meddling, whether a Congressional select committee or an independent commission, should have bipartisan balance, full subpoena authority, no time limit and a commitment to make public as much as possible of what they find.”
What the Post seeks is a Watergate Committee like the one that investigated the Nixon White House, or a commission like the ones that investigated 9/11 and the JFK assassination.
Trump “should recognize,” writes the Post, “that the credibility of his denials of any Russian connections is undermined by his refusal to release tax returns and business records.”
In short, when the investigation begins, Trump must produce the evidence to establish his innocence. Else, he is Putin’s man.
This city is salivating over another Watergate, another broken president. But President-elect Trump should be aware of what is at stake. As the Wall Street Journal writes:
“Mr. Trump’s vehement denials (of collusion with Moscow and corrupt behavior) also mean that if we learn in the future that Russia does have compromising details about him, his Presidency could be over.”
Yes, indeed, very big stakes.
Though every Republican in Congress voted against the Iran nuclear deal, “Tearing it up … is not going to happen,” says Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.
Hopefully, the chairman speaks for the president-elect.
During the campaign, Donald Trump indicated as much, saying that, though the U.S. got jobbed in the negotiations—”We have a horrible contract, but we do have a contract”—he might not walk away.
To Trump, a deal’s a deal, even a bad one. And we did get taken.
In 2007 and 2011, all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies assured us, “with high confidence,” that Iran did not have an atomic-bomb program.
Yet our folks forked over $50 billion for an Iranian show and tell to prove they were not doing what our 17 intelligence agencies told us, again and again, they were not doing.
Why did we disbelieve our own intelligence, and buy into the “Chicken Little” chatter about Iran being “only months away from a bomb”?
Corker also administered a cold shower to those who darkly warn of a secret Iranian program to produce a bomb: “In spite of all the flaws in the agreement, nothing bad is going to happen relative to nuclear development in Iran in the next few years. It’s just not.”
Under the deal, Iran has put two-thirds of the 19,000 centrifuges at Natanz in storage, ceased enriching uranium to 20 percent at Fordow, poured concrete into the core of its heavy water reactor at Arak, and shipped 97 percent of its enriched uranium out of the country. Cameras and United Nations inspectors are all over the place.
Even should Iran decide on a crash program to create enough fissile material for a single A-bomb test, this would take a year, and we would know about it.
But why would they? After all, there are sound reasons of state why Iran decided over a decade ago to forgo nuclear weapons.
Discovery of a bomb program could bring the same U.S. shock and awe as was visited on Iraq for its nonexistent WMD. Discovery would risk a preemptive strike by an Israel with scores of nuclear weapons. Saudi Arabia and Turkey would have a powerful inducement to build their own bombs.
Acquiring a nuclear weapon would almost surely make Iran, a Persian nation on the edge of a sea of Arabs, less secure.
If, however, in the absence of a violation of the treaty by Iran, we tore up the deal, we could find ourselves isolated. For Britain, France, and Germany also signed, and they believe the agreement is a good one.
Do we really want to force these NATO allies to choose between the deal they agreed to and a break with the United States?
If the War Party is confident Iran is going to cheat, why not wait until they do? Then make our case with evidence, so our allies can go with us on principle, and not from pressure.
Also at issue is the deal signed by Boeing to sell Iran 80 jetliners. Airbus has contracted to sell Iran 100 planes, and begun delivery. List price for the two deals: $34.5 billion. Tens of thousands of U.S. jobs are at stake.
Is a Republican Congress prepared to blow up the Boeing deal and force the Europeans to cancel the Airbus deal?
Why? Some contend the planes can be used to transport the Iranian Republican Guard. But are the Iranians, who are looking to tourism, trade, and investment to rescue their economy, so stupid as to spend $35 billion for troop transports they could buy from Vladimir Putin?
The Ayatollah’s regime may define itself by its hatred of the Great Satan. Still, in 2009, even our War Party was urging President Obama to publicly back the Green Movement uprising against the disputed victory of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
In 2013, moderates voted Hassan Rouhani into the presidency, where he began secret negotiations with the USA.
New elections will be held this year. And while the death of ex-President Rafsanjani this weekend has removed the powerful patron of Rouhani and strengthened the hard-liners, Ayatollah Khamenei is suffering from cancer, and the nation’s future remains undetermined.
Iran’s young seek to engage with the West. But if they are spurned, by the cancellation of the Boeing deal and the reimposition of U.S. sanctions, they will be disillusioned and discredited, and the mullahs will own the future.
How would that serve U.S. interests?
We still have sanctions on Iran for its missile tests in violation of Security Council resolutions, for its human-rights violations, and for its support of groups like Hezbollah. But we also have in common with Iran an enmity for the Sunni terrorists of al-Qaeda and ISIS.
We are today fighting in Libya, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, as the War Party works to confront Beijing in the South China Sea, Russia in Ukraine, and North Korea over its nuclear and missile tests.
Could we perhaps put the confrontation with Iran on hold?
Patrick J. Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative and the author of the book The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.
“As we begin 2017, the most urgent threat to liberal democracy is not autocracy,” writes William Galston of the Wall Street Journal, “it is illiberal democracy.”
Galston’s diagnosis is not wrong, and his alarm is not misplaced.
Yet why does America’s great export, liberal democracy, which appeared to be the future of the West if not of mankind at the Cold War’s end, now appear to be a church with a shrinking congregation?
Why is liberal democracy losing its appeal?
A front-page story about France’s presidential election, in the same day’s Journal, suggests an answer.
In the final round next May, the French election is likely to come down to a choice of Marine Le Pen or Francois Fillon.
Le Pen is the “let France be France” candidate of the National Front. Fillon is a traditionalist Catholic from northwest France, home to the martyred resistance of the Revolution — the legendary Vendee.
Fillon won practicing and nonpracticing Catholics alike by a landslide, and took 3 in 5 votes of those professing other faiths.
Le Pen wants France to secede from the EU and move closer to Vladimir Putin’s Russia. The five million Arabs and Muslims currently in France, the prospective arrival of millions more, and recent Islamic terrorist atrocities have all propelled her candidacy.
Fillon succeeded in his primary by identifying himself as a man of Catholic beliefs and values and an opponent of same-sex marriage and abortion. He does not repudiate secularism, but believes that the France that was “the eldest daughter of the church” should also be heard.
Together, what do the Le Pen and Fillon candidacies tell us?
France and Europe may be moving inexorably away from a liberal democratic, de-Christianized and militantly secularist America. If we are the future, less and less do France and Europe appear to want that future.
While our elites welcome the Third World immigration that is changing the face of America, France and Europe are recoiling from and reacting against it. The French wish to remain who and what they are, a land predominantly of one language, one culture, one people.
America preaches that all religions are equal and should be treated equally. France does not seem to share that liberal belief. And just as the Middle East seems to want no more churches or Christians, France and Europe appear to want no more mosques or Muslims.
Where America’s elites may celebrate same-sex marriage and “reproductive rights,” more and more Europeans are identifying with the social values of Putin’s Russia. Pro-Putin parties are surging in Europe. Pro-America parties have been facing losses and defections.
“Because human beings are equal, any form of ethnocentrism that denies their equality must be rejected,” writes Galston.
That may well be what liberal democracy commands.
But the 24 nations that emerged from the disintegration of the USSR, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia were all built on ethnonational foundations — Croatia and Serbia, Estonia and Latvia, Georgia and Armenia, Azerbaijan and Moldova.
And was it not their unique ethnic identities that caused South Ossetia and Abkhazia to break free of Georgia?
Indeed, if what America has on offer is a liberal democracy of 325 million, which is multiracial, multiethnic, multicultural, multilingual, which celebrates its “diversity,” then where in Europe can one find a great party preaching this as the future their country and continent should embrace?
European peoples are largely fleeing from the future America preaches and promises.
Europe’s nations are rising up against what liberal democracy has produced in the USA.
Galston contends correctly that, “few leaders and movements in the West dare to challenge the idea of democracy itself.”
True, so far. But worldwide, Caesarism appears on the march.
Russia, China, Turkey, Egypt and the Philippines exemplify the new popularity of the strongman state. Western liberals initially cheered the Arab Spring, but what it produced curbed their enthusiasm. Free elections in Palestine and Lebanon produced victories for Hamas and Hezbollah.
Though Galston chastises the Polish and Hungarian governments as illiberal democracies, they seem to remain popular at home.
What, then, does the future hold?
The present crisis of Europe has been produced by the migration of tens of millions of Third World peoples never before assimilated in any European nation, and by the pollution and poisoning of these nations’ traditional culture.
This has caused millions to recoil and declare: If this is what liberal democracy produces, then to hell with it.
And if Europe is moving away from what America has become and has on offer, what is there to cause Europeans to turn around and re-embrace liberal democracy? Why not try something else?
In Brexit, the English were voting against the diverse liberal democracy that their capital of Londonistan had become.
Donald Trump’s victory represented a rejection of Barack Obama’s America. And whether he succeeds, what is there to cause America to look back with nostalgia on the America Obama came to represent?
Our Founding Fathers believed that democracy represented the degeneration of a republic; they feared and loathed it, and felt that it was the precursor of dictatorship. They may have been right again.
In retaliation for the hacking of John Podesta and the DNC, Barack Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats and ordered closure of their country houses on Long Island and Maryland’s Eastern shore.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that 35 U.S. diplomats would be expelled. But Vladimir Putin stepped in, declined to retaliate at all, and invited the U.S. diplomats in Moscow and their children to the Christmas and New Year’s party at the Kremlin.
“A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger,” reads Proverbs 15:1. “Great move,” tweeted President-elect Trump, “I always knew he was very smart!”
Among our Russophobes, one can almost hear the gnashing of teeth.
Clearly, Putin believes the Trump presidency offers Russia the prospect of a better relationship with the United States. He appears to want this, and most Americans seem to want the same. After all, Hillary Clinton, who accused Trump of being “Putin’s puppet,” lost.
Is then a Cold War II between Russia and the U.S. avoidable?
That question raises several others.
Who is more responsible for both great powers having reached this level of animosity and acrimony, 25 years after Ronald Reagan walked arm-in-arm with Mikhail Gorbachev through Red Square? And what are the causes of the emerging Cold War II?
Comes the retort: Putin has put nuclear-capable missiles in the Kaliningrad enclave between Poland and Lithuania.
True, but who began this escalation?
George W. Bush was the one who trashed Richard Nixon’s ABM Treaty and Obama put anti-missile missiles in Poland. After invading Iraq, George W. Bush moved NATO into the Baltic States in violation of a commitment given to Gorbachev by his father to not move NATO into Eastern Europe if the Red Army withdrew.
Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, says John McCain.
Russia did, after Georgia invaded its breakaway province of South Ossetia and killed Russian peacekeepers. Putin threw the Georgians out, occupied part of Georgia, and then withdrew.
Russia, it is said, has supported Syria’s Bashar Assad, bombed U.S.-backed rebels and participated in the Aleppo slaughter.
But who started this horrific civil war in Syria?
Was it not our Gulf allies, Turkey, and ourselves by backing an insurgency against a regime that had been Russia’s ally for decades and hosts Russia’s only naval base in the Mediterranean?
Did we not exercise the same right of assisting a beleaguered ally when we sent 500,000 troops to aid South Vietnam against a Viet Cong insurgency supported by Hanoi, Beijing and Moscow?
That’s what allies do.
The unanswered question: Why did we support the overthrow of Assad when the likely successor regime would have been Islamist and murderously hostile toward Syria’s Christians?
Russia, we are told, committed aggression against Ukraine by invading Crimea.
But Russia did not invade Crimea. To secure their Black Sea naval base, Russia executed a bloodless coup, but only after the U.S. backed the overthrow of the pro-Russian elected government in Kiev.
Crimea had belonged to Moscow from the time of Catherine the Great in the 18th century, and the Russia-Ukraine relationship dates back to before the Crusades. When did this become a vital interest of the USA?
As for Putin’s backing of secessionists in Donetsk and Luhansk, he is standing by kinfolk left behind when his country broke apart. Russians live in many of the 14 former Soviet republics that are now independent nations.
Has Putin no right to be concerned about his lost countrymen?
Unlike America’s elites, Putin is an ethnonationalist in a time when tribalism is shoving aside transnationalism as the force of the future.
Russia, it is said, is supporting right-wing and anti-EU parties. But has not our National Endowment for Democracy backed regime change in the Balkans as well as in former Soviet republics?
We appear to be denouncing Putin for what we did first.
Moreover, the populist, nationalist, anti-EU and secessionist parties in Europe have arisen on their own and are advancing through free elections.
Sovereignty, independence, a restoration of national identity, all appear to be more important to these parties than what they regard as an excessively supervised existence in the soft-dictatorship of the EU.
In the Cold War between Communism and capitalism, the single-party dictatorship and the free society, we prevailed.
But in the new struggle we are in, the ethnonational state seems ascendant over the multicultural, multiethnic, multiracial, multilingual “universal nation” whose avatar is Barack Obama.
Putin does not seek to destroy or conquer us or Europe. He wants Russia, and her interests, and her rights as a great power to be respected.
He is not mucking around in our front yard; we are in his.
The worst mistake President Trump could make would be to let the Russophobes grab the wheel and steer us into another Cold War that could be as costly as the first, and might not end as peacefully.
Reagan’s outstretched hand to Gorbachev worked. Trump has nothing to lose by extending his to Vladimir Putin, and much perhaps to win.
Donald Trump has a new best friend.
“President-elect Trump, thank you for your warm friendship and your clear-cut support of Israel,” gushed Bibi Netanyahu, after he berated John Kerry in a fashion that would once have resulted in a rupture of diplomatic relations.
Netanyahu accused Kerry of “colluding” in and “orchestrating” an anti-Israel, stab-in-the-back resolution in the Security Council, then lying about it. He offered to provide evidence of Kerry’s complicity and mendacity to President Trump.
Bibi then called in the U.S. ambassador and read him the riot act for 40 minutes. Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, charged that not only did the U.S. not “stand up to and oppose the gang-up” at the UN, “the United States was actually behind that gang-up.”
When Ben Rhodes of the National Security Council called the charges false, Dermer dismissed President Obama’s man as a “master of fiction.”
Query: why is Dermer not on a plane back to Tel Aviv?
Some of us can recall how Eisenhower ordered David Ben-Gurion to get his army out of Sinai in 1957, or face sanctions.
Ben-Gurion did as told. Had he and his ambassador castigated Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, as the Israelis dissed John Kerry, Ike would have called the U.S. ambassador home.
Indeed, Ike’s threat of sanctions against Prime Minister Anthony Eden’s government, which had also invaded Egypt, brought Eden down.
But then Dwight Eisenhower was not Barack Obama, and the America of 1956 was a more self-respecting nation.
Still, this week of rancorous exchanges between two nations that endlessly express their love for each other certainly clears the air.
While Kerry has been denounced for abstaining on the UN resolution calling Israeli settlements on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem illegal and an impediment to peace, this has been U.S. policy for years.
And Kerry’s warning in his Wednesday speech that at the end of this road of continuous settlement-building lies an Israel that is either a non-Jewish or a non-democratic state is scarcely anti-Semitic.
Prime Minister Ehud Barak, the most decorated soldier in Israel’s history, has warned his countrymen, “As long as in this territory west of the Jordan River there is only one political entity called Israel, it is going to be either non-Jewish, or non-democratic.”
“If the bloc of millions of Palestinians cannot vote” added Barak, “this will be an apartheid state.” Of John Kerry’s speech, Barak said, “Powerful, lucid … World & majority in Israel think the same.”
Defense Secretary-designate Gen. James Mattis warned in 2013 that Israeli settlements were leading to an “apartheid” state.
After Joe Biden visited Israel in 2010, to learn that Netanyahu just approved 1,600 new units in East Jerusalem, Gen. David Petraeus warned: “Arab anger on the Palestine question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnership with governments and people in the region.”
Yet facts and reality, however unpleasant, cannot be denied.
The two-state solution is almost surely dead. Netanyahu is not going to remove scores of thousands of Jewish settlers from Judea and Samaria to cede the land to a Palestinian state. After all, Bibi opposed Ariel Sharon’s removal of 8,000 Jewish settlers from Gaza.
How will all this impact the new Trump administration?
Having tweeted, “Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching,” and having named a militant Zionist as his ambassador, Trump is certain to tilt U.S. policy heavily toward Israel.
Politically, this will bring rewards in the U.S. Jewish community.
The Republican Party will become the “pro-Israel” party, while the Democrats can be portrayed as divided and conflicted, with a left wing that is pro-Palestine and sympathetic to sanctions on Israel.
And the problem for Trump in a full embrace of Bibi?
Britain and France, which voted for the resolution where the U.S. abstained, are going to go their separate way on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, as is the world.
Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf Arabs will be pressured by their peoples and by the militant states of the region like Iran, to distance themselves from the Americans or face internal troubles.
And once U.S. pressure ends and settlement building in the West Bank proceeds, Netanyahu, his hawkish cabinet, the Israeli lobby, the neocons, and the congressional Republicans will start beating the drums for Trump to terminate what he himself has called that “horrible Iran deal.”
Calls are already coming for the cancellation of the sale of 80 Boeing jets to Iran. Yet, any U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal, or reimposition of sanctions on Iran, will further split us off from our European allies. Not only did Britain and France vote for the Security Council resolution, both are party, as is Germany, to the Iran deal.
Having America publicly reassert herself as Israel’s best friend, with “no daylight” between us, could have us ending up as Israel’s only friend—and Israel as our only friend in the Middle East.
Bibi’s Israel First policy must one day collide with America First.
Did the community organizer from Harvard Law just deliver some personal payback to the IDF commando? So it would seem.
By abstaining on that Security Council resolution declaring Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem illegal and invalid, raged Bibi Netanyahu, President Obama “failed to protect Israel in this gang-up at the UN, and colluded with it.”
Obama’s people, charged Bibi, “initiated this resolution, stood behind it, coordinated on the wording and demanded that it be passed.”
White House aide Ben Rhodes calls the charges “falsehoods.”
Hence, we have an Israeli leader all but castigating an American president as a backstabber and betrayer, while the White House calls Bibi a liar.
This is not an unserious matter.
“By standing with the sworn enemies of Israel to enable the passage of this destructive, one-sided anti-Israel rant and tirade,” writes the Washington Times, “Mr. Obama shows his colors.”
But unfortunately for Israel, the blow was delivered by friends as well as “sworn enemies.”
The U.S. abstained, but Britain, whose Balfour Declaration of 1917 led to the Jewish state in Palestine, voted for the resolution.
As did France, which allied with Israel in the Sinai-Suez campaign of 1956 to oust Egypt’s Colonel Nasser, and whose Mysteres were indispensable to Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War of 1967.
Vladimir Putin, who has worked with Bibi and was rewarded with Israel’s refusal to support sanctions on Russia for Crimea and Ukraine, also voted for the resolution.
Egypt, whose Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was welcomed by Bibi after his coup against the Muslim Brotherhood president, and who has collaborated with Bibi against terrorists in Sinai and Gaza, also voted yes.
China voted yes, as did Ukraine. New Zealand and Senegal, both of which have embassies in Tel Aviv, introduced the resolution.
Despite Israel’s confidential but deepening ties with Sunni Arab states that share her fear and loathing of Iran, not a single Security Council member stood by her and voted against condemning Israel’s presence in Arab East Jerusalem and the Old City. Had the resolution gone before the General Assembly, support would have been close to unanimous.
While this changes exactly nothing on the ground in the West Bank or East Jerusalem where 600,000 Israelis now reside, it will have consequences, and few of them will be positive for Israel.
The resolution will stimulate and strengthen the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel, which has broad support among U.S. college students, Bernie Sanders Democrats, and the international left.
If Israel does not cease expanding West Bank settlements, she could be hauled before the International Criminal Court and charged with war crimes.
Already, J Street, the liberal Jewish lobby that backs a two-state solution in Palestine—and has been denounced by Donald Trump’s new envoy to Israel David Friedman as “far worse than kapos,” the Jewish guards at Nazi concentration camps—has endorsed the resolution.
The successful resolution is also a reflection of eroding support for Israel at the top of the Democratic Party, as a two-term president and a presidential nominee, Secretary of State John Kerry, were both behind it.
Republicans are moving to exploit the opening by denouncing the resolution and the UN and showing solidarity with Israel. Goal: replace the Democratic Party as the most reliable ally of Israel, and reap the rewards of an historic transfer of Jewish political allegiance.
That Sen. George McGovern was seen as pro-Palestinian enabled Richard Nixon to double his Jewish support between 1968 and 1972.
That Jimmy Carter was seen as cold to Israel enabled Ronald Reagan to capture more than a third of the Jewish vote in 1980, on his way to a 44-state landslide.
Moreover, U.S. acquiescence in this resolution puts Bibi in a box at home. Though seen here as a hawk on the settlements issue, the right wing of Bibi’s coalition is far more hawkish, pushing for outright annexation of West Bank settlements. Others call for a repudiation of Oslo and the idea of an independent Palestinian state.
If Bibi halts settlement building on the West Bank, he could cause a split in his cabinet with rightist rivals like Naftali Bennett who seek to replace him.
Here in the U.S., the UN resolution is seen by Democrats as a political debacle, and by many Trump Republicans as an opportunity.
Sen. Chuck Schumer has denounced Obama’s refusal to veto the resolution, echoing sentiments about the world body one used to hear on America’s far right.
“The U.N.,” said Schumer, “has been a fervently anti-Israel body since the days [it said] ‘Zionism is racism’ and that fervor has never diminished.”
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham says he will urge Congress to slash funding for the United Nations.
If the folks over at the John Birch Society still have some of those bumper stickers—“Get the U.S. out of the U.N., and the U.N. out of the U.S.!”—they might FedEx a batch over to Schumer and Graham.
May have some converts here.
The terrorist who hijacked a truck in Berlin and ran over and killed 12 people, maiming and wounding 48 more, in that massacre in the Christmas market, has done more damage than he could imagine.
If the perpetrator is the jihadist from Tunisia who had no right to be in Germany, and had been under surveillance, the bell could begin to toll not only for Angela Merkel but for the European Union.
That German lassitude, and the naïveté behind it, allowed this outrage validates the grim verdict of geostrategist James Burnham in Suicide of the West: “Liberalism is the ideology of Western suicide.”
Both the transnational elite and populist right sense the stakes involved here. As news of the barbarous atrocity spread across Europe, the reactions were instantaneous and predictable.
Marine Le Pen of France’s National Front, leading candidate for the presidency in 2017, declaimed: “How many more people must die at the hands of Islamic extremists before our governments close our porous borders and stop taking in thousands of illegal immigrants?”
Geert Wilders, the Party for Freedom frontrunner for prime minister of Holland, echoed Le Pen: “They hate and kill us. And nobody protects us. Our leaders betray us. We need a political revolution.
“Islamic immigration/Is an invasion,” he went on, “An existential problem/That will replace our people/Erase our culture.”
“These are Merkel’s dead,” tweeted Marcus Pretzell of the far-right Alternative for Germany about the victims in the Christmas mart.
Nigel Farage, who led the campaign for British secession from the EU, called the Christmas massacre “the Merkel legacy.”
Europe’s populist right is laying this act of Islamist savagery at the feet of Merkel for her having opened Germany in 2015 to a million migrants and refugees from Syria and the Middle East wars.
Before Berlin, she was already on the defensive after mobs of migrants went about molesting and raping German girls in Cologne last New Year’s Eve.
Even admirers who share her belief in a Europe of open borders, that welcomes immigrants and refugees from Third World wars and despotisms, sense the gravity of Merkel’s crisis.
“Germans should not let the attack on a Christmas market in Berlin undermine liberal values,” ran the headline on the Washington Post editorial December 22. Alarmed, the Post went on:
“What Germany cannot and must not do is … succumb to the siren song of the anti-foreigner right-wing, which has been gaining strength across Europe and moved immediately to exploit the attack ahead of the September 2017 national elections.”
The New York Times delivered its customary castigation of the European populist right but, in a note of near-desperation, if not of despair, implored Europe’s liberals not to lose faith:
“With each new attack, whether on a Christmas market or a mosque, the challenge to Europe to defend tolerance, inclusion, equality and reason grows more daunting. If Europe is to survive as a beacon of democratic hope in a world rent by violent divisions, it must not cede those values.”
But less and less does Europe appear to be listening.
Indeed, as Europe has been picking up its dead and wounded for over a decade, from terrorist attacks in Madrid, London, Paris, Berlin, and Brussels, the peoples of Europe seem less interested in hearing recitals of liberal values than in learning what their governments are going to do to keep the Islamist killers out and make them safe.
Salus populi suprema lex.
Liberals may admonish us that all races, creeds, cultures are equal, that anyone from any continent, country, or civilization can come to the West and assimilate. That discrimination against one group of immigrants in favor of another—preferring, say, Lebanese Christians to Syrian Muslims—is illiberal and undemocratic.
But people don’t believe that. Europe and America have moved beyond the verities of 20th-century liberalism.
The cruel experiences of the recent past, and common sense, dictate that open borders are Eurail passes for Islamist terrorists, who are anxious to come and kill us in the West. We have to deal with the world as it is, not as we would wish it to be.
In our time, there has taken place, is taking place, an Islamic awakening. Of 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide, hundreds of millions accept strict sharia law about how to deal with apostasy and infidels.
Scores of millions in the Middle East wish to drive the West out of their world. Thousands are willing to depart and come to Europe to terrorize our societies. They see themselves at war with us, as their ancestors were at war with the Christian world for 1,000 years.
Only liberal ideology calls for America and Europe to bring into their home countries endless numbers of migrants without being overly concerned about who they are, whence they come, or what they believe.
Right-wing and anti-immigrant parties are succeeding in Europe for a simple reason. Mainstream parties are failing in the first duty of government—to protect the safety and security of the people.
The never-Trumpers are never going to surrender the myth that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the hacking of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee to defeat Clinton and elect Donald Trump.
Their investment in the myth is just too huge.
For Clinton and her campaign, it is the only way to explain how they booted away a presidential election even Trump thought he had lost in November. To the mainstream media, this is the smoking gun in their Acela Corridor conspiracy to delegitimize Trump’s presidency.
Incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sees Russian hacking as a way to put a cloud over the administration before it begins. But it is the uber-hawks hereabouts who are after the really big game.
They seek to demonize Putin as the saboteur of democracy—someone who corrupted an American presidential election to bring about victory for a “useful idiot” whom Clinton called Putin’s “puppet.”
If the War Party can convert this “fake story” into the real story of 2016, then they can scuttle any Trump effort to attain the rapprochement with Russia that Trump promised to try to achieve.
If they can stigmatize Trump as “Putin’s president” and Putin as America’s implacable enemy, then the Russophobes are back in business.
Nor is the War Party disguising its goal.
Over the weekend, Sen. John McCain called for a congressional select committee to investigate Russian hacking into the Clinton campaign. The purpose of the investigations, said Sen. Lindsey Graham, “is to put on President Trump’s desk crippling sanctions against Russia.”
“They need to pay a price,” Graham chortled on Twitter.
“Crippling sanctions” would abort any modus vivendi, any deal with Russia, before Trump could negotiate one. Trump would have to refuse to impose them—and face the firestorm to follow. The War Party is out to dynamite any detente with Russia before it begins.
Among the reasons Trump won is that he promised to end U.S. involvement in the costly, bloody, and interminable wars in the Middle East the Bushites and President Barack Obama brought us—and the neocons relish—and to reach a new understanding with Russia and Putin.
But to some in Washington, beating up on Russia is a conditioned reflex dating to the Cold War. For others in the media and the front groups called think tanks, Russophobia is in their DNA.
Though Julian Assange says WikiLeaks did not get the emails from Russia, this has to be investigated. Did Russia hack the DNC’s email system and John Podesta’s email account? Did Putin direct that the emails be provided to WikiLeaks to disrupt democracy or defeat Clinton?
Clinton says Putin has had it in for her because he believes she was behind the anti-Putin demonstrations in Moscow in 2011.
But if there is to be an investigation of clandestine interference in the politics and elections of foreign nations, let’s get it all out onto the table.
The CIA director and his deputies should be made to testify under oath, not only as to what they know about Russia’s role in the WikiLeaks email dumps but also about who inside the agency is behind the leaks to the Washington Post designed to put a cloud over the Trump presidency before it begins.
Agents and operatives of the CIA should be subjected to lie detector tests to learn who is leaking to the anti-Trump press.
Before any congressional investigation, President-elect Trump should call in his new director of the CIA, Rep. Mike Pompeo, and tell him to run down and remove, for criminal misconduct, any CIA agents or operatives leaking secrets to discredit his election.
Putin, after all, is not an American. The CIA saboteurs of the Trump presidency are. Will the media investigate the leakers? Not likely, for they are the beneficiaries of the leaks and co-conspirators of the leakers.
The top officials of the CIA and Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy, should be called to testify under oath. Were they behind anti-Putin demonstrations during the Russian elections of 2011?
Did the CIA or NED have a role in the “color-coded” revolutions to dump over pro-Russian governments in Moscow’s “near abroad”?
If Russia did intrude in our election, was it payback for our intrusions to bring about regime change in its neighborhood?
What role did the CIA, the NED, and John McCain play in the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Ukraine in 2014? McCain was seen cheering on the crowds in Independence Square in Kiev.
Trump has promised a more hopeful foreign policy than that of the Republicans he denounced and is succeeding. No more wars where vital interests are not imperiled. No more U.S. troops arriving as first responders for freeloading allies.
The real saboteurs of his new foreign policy may not be inside the Ring Road in Moscow; rather, they may be inside the Beltway around DC.
The real danger may be that a new Trump foreign policy could be hijacked or scuttled by anti-Trump Republicans, not only on Capitol Hill but inside the executive branch itself.
In this world, it is often dangerous to be an enemy of the United States, said Henry Kissinger in 1968, but to be a friend is fatal.
The South Vietnamese would come to appreciate the insight.
So it is today with Aleppo, where savage reprisals against U.S.-backed rebels are taking place in that hellhole of human rights.
Yet, again, the wrong lessons are being drawn from the disaster.
According to the Washington Post, the bloodbath is a result of a U.S. failure to intervene more decisively in Syria’s civil war: “Aleppo represents a meltdown of the West’s moral and political will—and … a collapse of U.S. leadership.
“By refusing to intervene against the Assad regime’s atrocities, or even to enforce the ‘red line’ he declared on the use of chemical weapons, President Obama created a vacuum that was filled by Vladimir Putin and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.”
But the blunder was not in staying out of Syria’s civil war, but in going in. Aleppo is a bloodbath born of interventionism.
On August 18, 2011, President Obama said, “For the sake of the Syrian people the time has come for President Assad to step aside.” Western leaders echoed the Obama—“Assad must go!”
Assad, however, declined to go, and crushed an Arab Spring uprising of the kind that had ousted Hosni Mubarak in Cairo. When the U.S. began to fund and train rebels to overthrow him, Assad rallied his troops and began bringing in allies—Hezbollah, Iran, and Russia.
It was with their indispensable assistance that he recaptured Aleppo in the decisive battle of the war. And now America has lost credibility all over the Arab and Muslim world. How did this debacle come about?
First, in calling for the overthrow of Bashar Assad, who had not attacked or threatened us, we acted not in our national interests, but out of democratist ideology. Assad is a dictator. Dictators are bad. So Assad must go.
Yet we had no idea who would replace him.
It soon became clear that Assad’s most formidable enemies, and probable successors, would be the al-Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, or ISIS, then carrying out grisly executions in their base camp in Raqqa.
U.S. policy became to back the “good” rebels in Aleppo, bomb the “bad” rebels in Raqqa, and demand that Assad depart. An absurd policy.
Nor had the American people been consulted.
After a decade of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they saw no U.S. vital interests at risk in who ruled Damascus, so long as it was not the terrorists of ISIS or al-Qaeda.
Then came Obama’s “red line” warning: the U.S. would take military action if chemical weapons were used in Syria’s civil war.
What undercut this ultimatum was that Congress had never authorized the president to take military action against Syria, and the American people wanted to stay out of Syria’s civil war.
When Assad allegedly used chemical weapons and Obama threatened air strikes, the nation rose as one to demand that Congress keep us out of the war. Secretary of State John Kerry was reduced to assuring us that any U.S. strike would be “unbelievably small.”
By 2015, as Assad army’s seemed to be breaking, Vladimir Putin boldly stepped in with air power, alongside Hezbollah and Iran. Why? Because all have vital interests in preserving the Assad regime.
Bashar Assad is Russia’s ally and provides Putin with his sole naval base in the Med. Assad’s regime is the source of Hezbollah’s resupply and weapons to deter, and, if necessary, fight Israel.
To Iran, Assad is an ally against Saudi Arabia and the Sunni awakening and a crucial link in the Shiite Crescent that extends from Tehran to Baghdad to Damascus to Beirut.
All have greater stakes in this civil war than do we, and have been willing to invest more time, blood and treasure. Thus they have, so far, prevailed.
The lessons for Trump from the Aleppo disaster?
Do not even consider getting into a new Middle East war—unless Congress votes to authorize it, the American people are united behind it, vital U.S. interests are clearly imperiled, and we know how the war ends and when we can come home.
For wars have a habit of destroying presidencies.
Korea broke Truman. Vietnam broke Lyndon Johnson. Iraq broke the Republican Congress in 2006 and gave us Obama in 2008.
And the Iran war now being talked up in the think tanks and on the op-ed pages would be the end of the Trump presidency.
Before starting such a war, Donald Trump might call in Bob Gates and ask him what he meant at West Point in February 2011 when he told the cadets:
“Any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General MacArthur so delicately put it.”
When word leaked that Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, a holder of the Order of Friendship award in Putin’s Russia, was Donald Trump’s choice for secretary of state, John McCain had this thoughtful response:
“Vladimir Putin is a thug, a bully, and a murderer and anybody else who describes him as anything else is lying.”
Yet, Putin is something else, the leader of the largest nation on earth, a great power with enough nuclear weapons to wipe the United States off the face of the earth. And we have to deal with him.
McCain was echoed by the senior Democrat on foreign relations, Bob Menendez, who said naming Tillerson secretary of state would be “alarming and absurd … guaranteeing Russia has a willing accomplice in the [Trump] Cabinet guiding our nation’s foreign policy.”
Sen Marco Rubio chimed in: “Being a ‘friend of Vladimir’ is not an attribute I am hoping for from a Secretary of State.”
If just three GOP senators vote no on Tillerson, and Democrats vote as a bloc against him, his nomination would go down. President Trump would sustain a major and humiliating defeat.
Who is Tillerson? A corporate titan, he has traveled the world, represented Exxon in 60 countries, is on a first-name basis with countless leaders, and is endorsed by Condi Rice and Robert Gates.
Dr. Samuel Johnson’s observation—“A man is seldom more innocently occupied than when he is engaged in making money”—may be a bit of a stretch when it comes to OPEC and the global oil market.
Yet there is truth to it. Most businessmen are interested in doing deals, making money, and, if the terms are not met, walking away, not starting a war.
And here is the heart of the objection to Tillerson. He wants to end sanctions and partner with Putin’s Russia, as does Trump. But among many in the mainstream media, think tanks, websites, and on the Hill, this is craven appeasement. For such as these, the Cold War is never over.
The attacks on Tillerson coincide with new attacks on Russia, based on CIA sources, alleging that not only did Moscow hack into the Democratic Party and Clinton campaign, and leak what it found to hurt Hillary Clinton, but Russia was trying to help elect Trump, and succeeded.
Why would Moscow do this?
Monday’s editorial in the New York Times explains: “In Mr. Trump, the Russians had reason to see a malleable political novice, one who had surrounded himself with Kremlin lackeys.”
Backed by Democratic leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, McCain has announced an investigation. The goal, said the Times, is to determine “whether anyone within Trump’s inner circle coordinated with the Kremlin and whether Moscow spread fake news to hurt Mrs. Clinton.”
What is going on here? More than meets the eye.
The people who most indignantly condemned Trump’s questioning of Obama’s birth certificate as a scurrilous scheme to delegitimize his presidency, now seek to delegitimize Trump’s presidency.
The Times editorial spoke of a “darkening cloud” already over the Trump presidency, and warned that a failure to investigate and discover the full truth of Russia’s hacking could only “feed suspicion among millions of Americans that … [t]he election was indeed rigged.”
Behind the effort to smear Tillerson and delegitimize Trump lies a larger motive. Trump has antagonists in both parties who alarmed at his triumph because it imperils the foreign policy agenda that is their raison d’être, their reason for being.
These people do not want to lift sanctions on Moscow. They do not want an end to the confrontation with Russia. As is seen by their bringing in tiny Montenegro, they want to enlarge NATO to encompass Sweden, Finland, Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova.
They have in mind the permanent U.S. encirclement of Russia.
They want to provide offensive weapons to Kiev to reignite the civil war in the Donbass and enable Ukraine to move on Crimea. This would mean a war with Russia that Ukraine would lose and we and our NATO allies would be called upon to intervene in and fight.
Their goal is to bring down Putin and bring about “regime change” in Moscow.
In the campaign, Trump said he wanted to get along with Russia, to support all the forces inside Syria and Iraq fighting to wipe out ISIS and al-Qaeda, and to stay out of any new Middle East wars—like the disaster in Iraq—that have cost us “six trillion dollars.”
This is what America voted for when it voted for Trump—to put America First and “make America great again.” But War Party agitators are already beating the drums for confrontation with Iran.
Early in his presidency, if not before, Trump is going to have to impose his foreign policy upon his own party and, indeed, upon his own government. Or his presidency will be broken, as was Lyndon Johnson’s.
A good place to begin is by accepting the McCain-Marco challenge and nominating Rex Tillerson for secretary of state. Let’s get it on.
The wailing and keening over the choice of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the EPA appears to be a lead indicator of a coming revolution far beyond Reagan’s.
“Trump Taps Climate Skeptic For Top Environmental Post,” said the Wall Street Journal. “Climate Change Denial,” bawled a disbelieving New York Times, which urged the Senate to put Pruitt in a “dust bin.”
Clearly, though his victory was narrow, Donald Trump remains contemptuous of political correctness and defiant of liberal ideology.
For environmentalism, as conservative scholar Robert Nisbet wrote in 1982, is more than the “most important social movement” of the 20th century. It is a militant and dogmatic faith that burns heretics.
“Environmentalism is well on its way to becoming the third great wave of redemptive struggle in Western history,” wrote Nisbet, “the first being Christianity, the second modern socialism.” In picking a “climate denier” to head EPA, Trump is rejecting revealed truth.
Yet, as with his choices of Steve Bannon as White House strategist and Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general, he has shown himself to be an unapologetic apostate to liberal orthodoxy.
Indeed, with his presidency, we may be entering a post-liberal era.
In 1950, literary critic Lionel Trilling wrote, “In the United States at this time liberalism is not only the dominant but even the sole intellectual tradition. For it is the plain fact that nowadays there are no conservative or reactionary ideas in general circulation.”
The rise of the conservative movement of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan revealed liberalism’s hour to be but a passing moment. Yet, today, something far beyond conservatism seems to be afoot.
As Hegel taught, in the dialectic of history the thesis calls into existence the antithesis. What we seem to be seeing is a rejection, and a counterreformation against the views and values that came out of the social and political revolutions of the 1960s.
Consider the settled doctrine Trump disrespected with Pruitt.
We have long been instructed that climate change is real, that its cause is man-made, that it imperils the planet with rising seas, hurricanes, and storms, that all nations have a duty to curb the release of carbon dioxide to save the world for future generations.
This is said to be “scientific truth,” and “climate deniers” are like people who believe the earth is flat and the sun revolves around it. Some hold the matter to be so grave that climate deniers should be censored for promoting socially destructive falsehoods.
Yet, the people remain skeptical.
Their worry is not that the rising waters of the Med will swamp the Riviera, but that tens of millions of Arabs, Muslims, and Africans may be coming across to swamp Europe, and that millions of Mexicans may cross the Rio Grande to swamp the USA.
Call them climate deniers or climate skeptics, but they see the establishment as running the Big Con to effect a transfer of wealth and power away from the people—and to themselves.
Across the West, establishments have lost credibility.
The proliferation of minority parties, tearing off pieces of the traditional ruling parties, points to a growing distrust in ruling regimes and a return to identifying with the nation and tribe whence one came.
A concomitant of this is a growing disbelief in egalitarianism and in the equality of all races, creeds, nations, cultures, and peoples.
The Supreme Court may say all religions are equal and all must be treated equally. But do Americans believe Christianity and Islam are equal? How could they, when Christians claim their faith has as its founder the Son of God and God himself?
After calling for a ban on Muslim immigration, Trump was elected president. After inviting a million refugees from Syria’s civil war into Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel admits having made a mistake and is now in favor of letting German cities and towns decide if women should be allowed to wear burqas.
A sea change in thought is taking place in the West.
Liberalism appears to be a dying faith. America’s elites may still preach their trinity of values: diversity, democracy, equality. But the majorities in America and Europe are demanding that the borders be secured and Third World immigrants kept out.
The next president disbelieves in free trade. He wants a border wall. He questions the wisdom of our Mideast wars and the need for NATO. He is contemptuous of democratist dogma that how other nations rule themselves is our business. He rejects transnationalism and globalism.
“There is no global anthem, no global currency, no certificate of global citizenship,” said Trump in Cincinnati, “We pledge allegiance to one flag, and that flag is the American flag. From now on, it’s going to be America first. … We’re going to put ourselves first.”
That’s not Adlai Stevenson or Jimmy Carter or Barack Obama.
Nothing seems settled or certain. All is in flux. But change is coming. “Things are in the saddle, and ride mankind.”
Like a bolt of lightning, that call of congratulations from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen to President-elect Donald Trump illuminated the Asian landscape.
We can see clearly now the profit and loss statement from more than three decades of accommodating and appeasing China, since Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger made their historic journey in 1972.
What are the gains and losses?
Soon after Nixon announced the trip in July 1971, our World War II ally, the Republic of China on Taiwan, was expelled from the UN, its permanent seat on the Security Council given to the People’s Republic of China’s Chairman Mao, a rival of Stalin’s in mass murder.
In 1979, Jimmy Carter recognized the regime in Beijing, cut ties to Taipei, and terminated the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty of 1954. All over the world countries followed our lead, shut down Taiwan’s embassies, and expelled her diplomats. Our former allies have since been treated as global pariahs.
During the 1990s and into the new century, Republicans, acting on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable, voted annually to grant Most Favored Nation trade status for China. They then voted to make it permanent and escort China into the WTO.
What did China get out of the new U.S. policy? Vast investment and $4 trillion in trade surpluses at America’s expense over 25 years.
From the backward country mired in the madness of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in 1972, China grew by double digits yearly to become the foremost manufacturing nation on earth, and has used its immense earnings from trade to make itself a military power to rival the United States.
China now claims all the islands of the South China Sea, has begun converting reefs into military bases, targeted hundreds of missiles on Taiwan, claimed the Senkakus held by Japan, ordered U.S. warships out of the Taiwan Strait, brought down a U.S. EP-3 on Hainan island in 2001, and then demanded and got from Secretary of State Colin Powell an apology for violating Chinese airspace.
Beijing has manipulated her currency, demanded transfers of U.S. technology, and stolen much of what the U.S. did not cover.
For decades, China has declared a goal of driving the United States out beyond the second chain of islands off Asia, i.e., out of the Western Pacific and back to Guam, Hawaii, and the West Coast.
During these same decades, some of us were asking insistently what we were getting in return.
Thus Trump’s phone call seemed the right signal to Beijing—while we recognize one China, we have millions of friends on Taiwan in whose future as a free people we retain an interest.
China bristled at Trump’s first communication between U.S. and Taiwanese leaders since 1979, with Beijing indicating that Trump’s failure to understand the Asian situation may explain the American’s gaffe.
Sunday, Vice President-elect Mike Pence assured us that nothing of significance should be read into the 15-minute phone call of congratulations.
Trump, however, was less polite and reassuring, giving Beijing the wet mitten across the face for its impertinence:
“Did China ask us if it was okay to devalue their currency [making it hard for our companies to compete], heavily tax our products going into their country [the U.S. doesn’t tax them], or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea?”
Trump then answered his own question, “I don’t think so.”
According to the Washington Post, the phone call from Taiwan to Trump was no chance happening. It had been planned for weeks. And people in Trump’s inner circle are looking to closer ties to Taiwan and a tougher policy toward Beijing.
This suggests that Trump was aware there might be a sharp retort from Beijing, and that his tweets dismissing Chinese protests and doubling down on the Taiwan issue were both considered and deliberate.
Well, the fat is in the fire now.
Across Asia, every capital is waiting to see how Xi Jinping responds, for a matter of face would seem to be involved.
On the trade front, China is deeply vulnerable. U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods would cause a sudden massive loss of income to factories in China and a stampede out of the country to elsewhere in Asia by companies now producing in the Middle Kingdom.
On the other hand, without China using its economic leverage over North Korea, it is unlikely any sanctions the U.S. and its allies can impose will persuade Kim Jong Un to halt his nuclear-weapons program.
China can choke North Korea to death. But China can also step back and let Pyongyang become a nuclear-weapons state, though that could mean Seoul and Tokyo following suit, which would be intolerable to Beijing.
Before we go down this road, President-elect Trump and his foreign-policy team ought to think through just where it leads—and where it might end.
“I have in my possession a secret map, made in Germany by Hitler’s government—by the planners of the New World Order,” FDR told the nation in his Navy Day radio address of October 27, 1941.
“It is a map of South America as Hitler proposes to reorganize it. The geographical experts of Berlin, however, have ruthlessly obliterated all the existing boundary lines … bringing the whole continent under their domination,” said Roosevelt. “This map makes clear the Nazi design not only against South America but against the United States as well.”
Our leader had another terrifying secret document, “made in Germany by Hitler’s government. …
“It is a plan to abolish all existing religions—Protestant, Catholic, Mohammedan, Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish alike. … In the place of the churches of our civilization, there is to be set up an international Nazi Church…
“In the place of the Bible, the words of ‘Mein Kampf’ will be imposed and enforced as Holy Writ. And in place of the cross of Christ will be put two symbols—the swastika and the naked sword. … A god of blood and iron will take the place of the God of love and mercy.”
The source of these astounding secret Nazi plans?
They were forgeries by British agents in New York operating under William Stephenson, Churchill’s “Man Called Intrepid,” whose assignment was to do whatever necessary to bring the U.S. into Britain’s war.
FDR began his address by describing two German submarine attacks on U.S. destroyers Greer and Kearny, the latter of which had been torpedoed with a loss of 11 American lives.
Said FDR: “We have wished to avoid shooting. But the shooting has started. And history has recorded who fired the first shot.”
The truth: Greer and Kearny had been tracking German subs for British planes dropping depth charges.
It was FDR who desperately wanted war with Germany, while, for all his crimes, Hitler desperately wanted to avoid war with the United States.
Said Rep. Clare Boothe Luce, FDR “lied us into war because he did not have the political courage to lead us into it.”
By late 1941, most Americans still wanted to stay out of the war. They believed “lying British propaganda” about Belgian babies being tossed around on German bayonets had sucked us into World War I, from which the British Empire had benefited mightily.
What brings these episodes to mind is the wave of indignation sweeping this capital over “fake news” allegedly created by Vladimir Putin’s old KGB comrades and regurgitated by U.S. individuals, websites, and magazines that are anti-interventionist and anti-war.
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman says the “propaganda and disinformation threat” against America is real, and we must “counter and combat it.” Congress is working up a $160 million State Department program.
Now, Americans should be on guard against “fake news” and foreign meddling in U.S. elections.
Yet it is often our own allies, like the Brits, and our own leaders who mislead and lie us into unnecessary wars. And is not meddling in the internal affairs, including the elections, of regimes we do not like, pretty much the job description of the CIA and the National Endowment for Democracy?
History suggests it is our own War Party that bears watching.
Consider Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Who misled, deceived, and lied about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, the “fake news” that sucked us into one of our country’s greatest strategic blunders?
Who lied for years about an Iranian nuclear weapons program, which almost dragged us into a war, before all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies debunked that propaganda in 2007 and 2011?
Yet, there are those, here and abroad, who insist that Iran has a secret nuclear weapons program. Their goal: war with Iran.
Were we told the whole truth about the August 1964 incident involving North Vietnamese gunboats and U.S. destroyers Maddox and C. Turner Joy, which stampeded Congress into voting a near-unanimous resolution that led us into an eight-year war in Southeast Asia?
One can go back deeper into American history.
Rep. Abe Lincoln disbelieved in President Polk’s claim that the Mexican army had crossed the Rio Grande and “shed American blood upon American soil.” In his “spot” resolution, Lincoln demanded to know the exact spot where the atrocity had occurred that resulted in a U.S. army marching to Mexico City and relieving Mexico of half of her country.
Was Assistant Navy Secretary Theodore Roosevelt telling us the truth when he said of our blasted battleship in Havana harbor, “The Maine was sunk by an act of dirty treachery on the part of the Spaniards”?
No one ever proved that the Spanish caused the explosion.
Yet America got out of his war what T.R. wanted—Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines, an empire of our own.
“In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.”
So said Winston Churchill, the grandmaster of fake news.
Now that the British have voted to secede from the European Union and America has chosen a president who has never before held public office, the French appear to be following suit.
In Sunday’s runoff to choose a candidate to face Marine Le Pen of the National Front in next spring’s presidential election, the center-right Republicans chose Francois Fillon in a landslide.
While Fillon sees Margaret Thatcher as a role model in fiscal policy, he is a socially conservative Catholic who supports family values and wants to confront Islamist extremism, control immigration, restore France’s historic identity, and end sanctions on Russia.
“Russia poses no threat to the West,” says Fillon. But if not, the question arises, why NATO? Why are U.S. troops in Europe?
As Le Pen is favored to win the first round of the presidential election and Fillon the second in May, closer Paris-Putin ties seem certain. Europeans themselves are pulling Russia back into Europe, and separating from the Americans.
Next Sunday, Italy holds a referendum on constitutional reforms backed by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. If the referendum, trailing in the polls, fails, says Renzi, he will resign.
Opposing Renzi is the secessionist Northern League, the Five Star Movement of former comedian Beppe Grillo, and the Forza Italia of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a pal of Putin’s.
“Up to eight of Italy’s troubled banks risk failure” if Renzi’s government falls, says the Financial Times. One week from today, the front pages of the Western press could be splashing the newest crisis of the EU.
In Holland, the Party for Freedom of Geert Wilders, on trial for hate speech for urging fewer Moroccan immigrants, is running first or close to it in polls for the national election next March.
Meanwhile, the door to the EU appears to be closing for Muslim Turkey, as the European Parliament voted to end accession talks with Ankara and its autocratic president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In welcoming Muslim immigrants, Germany’s Angela Merkel no longer speaks for Europe, even as she is about to lose her greatest ally, Barack Obama.
Not only Europe but the whole world President-elect Trump is about to inherit seems in turmoil, with old regimes and parties losing their hold, and nationalist, populist, and rightist forces rising.
Early this year, Brazil’s senate voted to remove leftist President Dilma Rousseff. In September, her predecessor, popular ex-President Lula da Silva, was indicted in a corruption investigation. President Michel Temer, who, as vice president, succeeded Rousseff, is now under investigation for corruption. There is talk of impeaching him.
Venezuela, endowed with more oil than almost any country on earth, is now, thanks to the Castroism of Hugo Chavez and successor Nicolas Maduro, close to collapse and anarchy.
NATO’s Turkey and our Arab ally, Egypt, both ruled by repressive regimes, are less responsive to U.S. leadership.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye, her approval rating in single digits, is facing impeachment and prosecution for corruption.
Meanwhile, North Korea, under Kim Jong Un, continues to test nuclear warheads and missiles that can hit all of South Korea and Japan and reach all U.S. bases in East Asia and the Western Pacific.
The U.S. is obligated by treaty to defend South Korea, where we still have 28,500 troops, and Japan, as well as the Philippines, where new populist President Rodrigo Duterte, cursing the West, is pivoting toward Beijing. Malaysia and Australia are also moving closer to China as they become ever more dependent on the China trade.
Responding to our moving NATO troops into Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland, Putin has begun a buildup of nuclear-capable offensive and defensive missiles in Kaliningrad, its enclave between Poland and Lithuania.
Should we get into a confrontation with the Russians in the Eastern Baltic, how many of our NATO allies, some now openly pro-Putin, would stand beside us?
The point: not only is the Cold War over, the post-Cold War is over. We are living in a changed and changing world. Regimes are falling. Old parties are dying, new parties rising. Old allegiances are fraying, and old allies drifting away.
The forces of nationalism and populism have been unleashed all over the West and all over the world. There is no going back.
Yet U.S. policy seems set in concrete by war guarantees and treaty commitments dating back to the time of Truman and Stalin and Ike and John Foster Dulles.
America emerged from the Cold War, a quarter century ago, as the sole superpower. Yet it seems clear that we are not today so dominant a nation as we were in 1989 and 1991.
We have great rivals and adversaries. We are deeper in debt. We are more divided. We’ve fought wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen that availed us nothing. What we had, we kicked away.
America is at a plastic moment in history.
And America needs nothing so much as reflective thought about a quarter-century of failures—and fresh thinking about her future.
Donald Trump’s election triumph is among the more astonishing in history.
Yet if he wishes to become the father of a new “America First” majority party, he must make good on his solemn promise: to end the trade deficits that have bled our country of scores of thousands of factories, and to create millions of manufacturing jobs in the USA.
Fail here, and those slim majorities in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin disappear.
The president-elect takes credit for jawboning William Clay Ford to keep his Lincoln plant in Louisville. He is now jawboning Carrier air conditioning to stay in Indiana and not move to Mexico.
Good for him. But these are baby steps toward ending the $800 billion trade deficits in goods America runs annually, or bringing back factories and creating millions of new manufacturing jobs in the USA.
The NAFTA Republicans tell us the plants and jobs are never coming back, that we live in a globalized world, that production will now be done where it can be done cheapest—in Mexico, China, Asia.
Yet, on November 8, Americans rejected this defeatism rooted in the tracts of 19th-century British scribblers and the ideology of 20th-century globalists like Woodrow Wilson and FDR.
America responded to Trump’s call for a new nationalism rooted in the economic principles and patriotism of Hamilton and the men of Mount Rushmore: Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, and Theodore Roosevelt.
The president-elect has declared the TPP dead, and says he and his negotiators will walk away rather than accept another NAFTA.
Again, good, but again, not good enough, not nearly.
The New International Economic Order imposed upon us for decades has to be overthrown.
For the root cause of the trade deficits bleeding us lies in U.S. tax laws and trade policies that punish companies that stay in America and reward companies that move production overseas.
Executives move plants to Mexico, Asia, and China for the same reason U.S. industrialists moved plants from the Frost Belt to the Sun Belt. Given the lower wages and lighter regulations, they can produce more cheaply there.
In dealing with advanced economies like Japan, Germany, and the EU, another critical factor is at work against us.
Since the Kennedy Round of trade negotiations, 50 years ago, international trade deals have reduced tariffs to insignificance.
But our trade rivals have replaced the tariffs with value-added taxes on imports from the USA. Even to belong to the EU, a country must have a VAT of at least 15 percent.
As Kevin Kearns of the U.S. Business and Industry Council writes, Europeans have replaced tariffs on U.S. goods with a VAT on U.S. goods, while rebating the VAT on Europe’s exports to us.
Some 160 countries impose VAT taxes. Along with currency manipulation, this is how European and Asian protectionists stick it to the Americans, whose armed forces have defended them for 60 years.
We lose at trade negotiations, even before we sit down at the table, because our adversaries declare their VAT nonnegotiable. And we accept it.
Trump has to persuade Congress to deal him and our trade negotiators our own high cards, without our having to go to the WTO and asking, “Mother, may I?”
Like this writer, Kearns argues for an 18 percent VAT on all goods and services entering the United States. All tax revenue raised by the VAT—hundreds of billions—should be used to reduce U.S. taxes, beginning by ending the income tax on small business and reducing to the lowest rate in the advanced world the U.S. corporate income tax.
The price of foreign-made goods in U.S. stores would rise, giving a competitive advantage to goods made in America. And with a border VAT of 18 percent, every U.S. corporate executive would have to consider the higher cost of leaving the United States to produce abroad.
Every foreign manufacturer, to maintain free access to the U.S. market of $17 trillion, greatest on earth, would have to consider shifting production—factories, technology, jobs—to the USA.
The incentive to produce abroad would diminish and disappear. The incentive to produce here would grow correspondingly.
Inversions—U.S. companies seeking lower tax rates by moving to places like Ireland—would end. Foreign companies and banks would be clamoring to get into the United States.
With a zero corporate tax, minority businesses would spring up. Existing businesses would have more cash to hire. America would shove China aside as the Enterprise Zone of the world.
Most important, by having Americans buy more from each other, and rely more on each other for the necessities of life, U.S. trade and tax policies would work to create a greater interdependence among us, rather than pull us apart as they do today.
Why not write new tax and trade laws that bring us together, recreating the one nation and people we once were—and can be again?
After a week managing the transition, vice president-elect Mike Pence took his family out to the Broadway musical Hamilton.
As Pence entered the theater, a wave of boos swept over the audience. And at the play’s end, the Aaron Burr character, speaking for the cast and the producers, read a statement directed at Pence:
“[W]e are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values.”
In March, the casting call that went out for actors for roles in this musical celebration of “American values” read:
“Seeking NON-WHITE men and women.”
The arrogance, the assumed posture of moral superiority, the conceit of our cultural elite, on exhibit on that stage Friday night, is what Americans regurgitated when they voted for Donald Trump.
Yet the conduct of the Hamilton cast puts us on notice. The left accepts neither its defeat nor the legitimacy of Trump’s triumph.
His presidency promises to be embattled from Day One.
Already, two anti-Trump demonstrations are being ginned up in DC, the first on Inauguration Day, January 20, by ANSWER, Act Now to Stop War and End Racism. A second, scheduled for January 21, is a pro-Hillary “Million Woman March.”
While the pope this weekend deplored a “virus of polarization,” even inside the church, on issues of nationality, race, and religious beliefs, that, unfortunately, is America’s reality. In a new Gallup poll, 77 percent of Americans perceived their country as “Greatly Divided on the Most Important Values,” with seven in eight Democrats concurring.
On the campuses, anti-Trump protests have not ceased and the “crying rooms” remain open. Since November 8, mobs have blocked streets and highways across America in a way that, had the Tea Party people done it, would have brought calls for the 82nd Airborne.
In liberal Portland, rioters trashed downtown and battled cops.
Mayors Rahm Emanuel of Chicago and Bill de Blasio of New York have declared their cities to be “sanctuary cities,” pledging noncooperation with U.S. authorities seeking to deport those who broke into our country and remain here illegally.
Says DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, “I have asserted firmly that we are a sanctuary city.” According to the Washington Post, after the meeting where this declaration had been extracted from Bowser, an activist blurted, “We’re facing a fascist maniac.”
Such declarations of defiance of law have a venerable history in America. In 1956, 19 Democratic senators from the 11 states of the Old Confederacy, in a “Southern Manifesto,” rejected the Supreme Court’s Brown decision ordering desegregation of the public schools.
Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus, Mississippi Gov. Ross Barnett, and Alabama Gov. George Wallace all resisted court orders to integrate. U.S. marshals and troops, ordered in by Ike and JFK, ensured the court orders were carried out.
To see Rahm and de Blasio in effect invoking John C. Calhoun’s doctrine of interposition and nullification is a beautiful thing to behold.
Among the reasons the hysteria over the Trump election has not abated is that the media continue to stoke it, to seek out and quote the reactions they produce, and then to demand the president-elect give assurances to pacify what the Post says are “the millions of … blacks and Latinos, gays and Lesbians, Muslims and Jews—fearful of what might become of their country.”
Sunday, the New York Times ran a long op-ed by Daniel Duane who said of his fellow Californians, “nearly everyone I know would vote yes tomorrow if we could secede” from the United States.
The major op-ed in Monday’s Post, by editorial editor Fred Hiatt, was titled, “The Fight to Defend Democracy,” implying American democracy is imperiled by a Trump presidency.
The Post’s lead editorial, “An un-American Registry,” compares a suggestion of Trump aides to build a registry of Muslim immigrants to “Nazi Germany’s … singling out Jews” and FDR’s wartime internment of 110,000 Japanese, most of them U.S. citizens.
The Post did not mention that the Japanese internment was a project of the beatified FDR, pushed by that California fascist, Gov. Earl Warren, and upheld in the Supreme Court’s Korematsu decision, written by Roosevelt appointee and loyal Klansman Justice Hugo Black.
A time for truth. Despite the post-election, bring-us-together talk of unity, this country is hopelessly divided on cultural, moral, and political issues, and increasingly along racial and ethnic lines.
Many Trump voters believe Hillary Clinton belongs in a minimum-security facility, while Hillary Clinton told her LGBT supporters half of Trump’s voters were racists, sexists, homophobes, xenophobes, and bigots.
Donald Trump’s presidency will be a besieged presidency, and he would do well to enlist, politically speaking, a war cabinet and White House staff that relishes a fight and does not run.
The battle of 2016 is over.
The long war of the Trump presidency has only just begun.
Speaking in Greece on his valedictory trip to Europe as president, Barack Obama struck a familiar theme: “we are going to have to guard against a rise in a crude form of nationalism, or ethnic identity, or tribalism that is built around an ‘us’ and a ‘them’ …
“[T]he future of humanity and the future of the world is going to be defined by what we have in common, as opposed to those things that separate us and ultimately lead us into conflict.”
That the world’s great celebrant of “diversity” envisions an even more multicultural, multiethnic, multiracial America and Europe is not news. This dream has animated his presidency.
But in this day of Brexit and President-elect Donald Trump, new questions arise. Is Obama’s vision a utopian myth? Have leaders like him and Angela Merkel lost touch with reality? Are not they the ones who belong to yesterday, not tomorrow?
“Crude nationalism,” as Obama said, did mark that “bloodiest” of centuries, the 20th. But nationalism has also proven to be among mankind’s most powerful, beneficial, and enduring forces.
You cannot wish it away. To do that is to deny history, human nature, and the transparent evidence of one’s own eyes.
A sense of nationhood—“I am not a Virginian, but an American,” said Patrick Henry—ignited our revolution.
Nationalism tore apart the “evil empire” of Ronald Reagan’s depiction, liberating Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians, Romanians, and Bulgarians, and breaking apart the Soviet Union into 15 nations.
Was that so terrible for mankind?
Nationalism brought down the Berlin Wall and led to reunification of the German people after 45 years of separation and Cold War.
President George H.W. Bush may have railed against “suicidal nationalism” in Kiev in 1991. But Ukrainians ignored him and voted to secede. Now the Russified minorities of the southeast and the Crimea wish to secede from Ukraine and rejoin the Mother Country.
This is the way of the world.
Out of the carcass of Yugoslavia came Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo. As nationalism called into existence Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia, it impelled South Ossetians and Abkhazians to secede from Georgia.
Was it not a sense of peoplehood, of nationhood, that drove the Jews to create Israel in 1948, which today insists that it be recognized as “a Jewish State”?
All over the world, regimes are marshaling the mighty force of ethnonationalism to strengthen and sustain themselves.
With economic troubles looming, Xi Jinping is stirring up Chinese nationalism by territorial disputes with neighbors—to hold together a people who have ceased to believe in the secularist faith of Marxism-Leninism.
With communism dead, Vladimir Putin invokes the greatness and glory of the Russian past and seeks to revive the Orthodox faith.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan invokes nationalism, Attatürk, the Ottoman Empire, and the Islamic faith of his people against the Kurds, who dream of a new nation carved out of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran.
“So my vision … may not always win the day in the short run,” Obama said in Greece, “but I am confident it will win the day in the long run. Because societies which are able to unify ourselves around values and ideals and character and how we treat each other, and cooperation and innovation, ultimately are going to be more successful than societies that don’t.”
What is wrong with this statement?
It is a utilitarian argument that does not touch the heart. It sounds like a commune, a cooperative, a corporation, as much as it does a country. Moreover, not only most of the world, but even the American people seem to be moving the other way.
Indeed, what values and ideals do we Americans hold in common when Obama spoke in Germany of “darker forces” opposing his trade policies, and Hillary Clinton calls Trump supporters “racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, Islamophobic … bigots.”
Did not the Democrats just run “an us and a them” campaign?
Less and less do we Americans seem to be one country and one people. More and more do we seem to be separating along religious, racial, cultural, political, ideological, social, and economic lines.
If a more multicultural, multiethnic America produces greater unity and comity, why have American politics become so poisonous?
Trump’s victory is due in part to his stand for securing the U.S. border against foreigners walking in. Merkel is in trouble in Germany because she brought in almost a million Muslim refugees from Syria.
The nationalist parties that have arisen across Europe are propelled by hostility to more immigration from the Third World.
Outside the cosmopolitan elites of Europe and North America, where in the West is the enthusiasm Obama detects for a greater diversity of races, tribes, religions, cultures, and beliefs?
“Who owns the future?” is ever the question.
In 2008, Obama talked of Middle Pennsylvanians as poor losers clinging to their bibles, bigotries, and guns as they passed from the scene.
Yet, now, it’s looking like it may be Obama’s world headed for the proverbial ash heap of history.
However Donald Trump came upon the foreign policy views he espoused, they were as crucial to his election as his views on trade and the border.
Yet those views are hemlock to the GOP foreign policy elite and the liberal Democratic interventionists of the Acela Corridor.
Trump promised an “America First” foreign policy rooted in the national interest, not in nostalgia. The neocons insist that every Cold War and post-Cold War commitment be maintained, in perpetuity.
On Sunday’s “60 Minutes,” Trump said: “You know, we’ve been fighting this war for 15 years. … We’ve spent $6 trillion in the Middle East, $6 trillion — we could have rebuilt our country twice. And you look at our roads and our bridges and our tunnels … and our airports are … obsolete.”
Yet the War Party has not had enough of war, not nearly.
They want to confront Vladimir Putin, somewhere, anywhere. They want to send U.S. troops to the eastern Baltic. They want to send weapons to Kiev to fight Russia in Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea.
They want to establish a no-fly zone and shoot down Syrian and Russian planes that violate it, acts of war Congress never authorized.
They want to trash the Iran nuclear deal, though all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies told us, with high confidence, in 2007 and 2011, Iran did not even have a nuclear weapons program.
Other hardliners want to face down Beijing over its claims to the reefs and rocks of the South China Sea, though our Manila ally is talking of tightening ties to China and kicking us out of Subic Bay.
In none of these places is there a U.S. vital interest so imperiled as to justify the kind of war the War Party would risk.
Trump has the opportunity to be the president who, like Harry Truman, redirected U.S. foreign policy for a generation.
After World War II, we awoke to find our wartime ally, Stalin, had emerged as a greater enemy than Germany or Japan. Stalin’s empire stretched from the Elbe to the Pacific.
In 1949, suddenly, he had the atom bomb, and China, the most populous nation on earth, had fallen to the armies of Mao Zedong.
As our situation was new, Truman acted anew. He adopted a George Kennan policy of containment of the world Communist empire, the Truman Doctrine, and sent an army to prevent South Korea from being overrun.
At the end of the Cold War, however, with the Soviet Empire history and the Soviet Union having disintegrated, George H.W. Bush launched his New World Order. His son, George W., invaded Iraq and preached a global crusade for democracy “to end tyranny in our world.”
A policy born of hubris.
Result: the Mideast disaster Trump described to Lesley Stahl, and constant confrontations with Russia caused by pushing our NATO alliance right up to and inside what had been Putin’s country.
How did we expect Russian patriots to react?
The opportunity is at hand for Trump to reconfigure U.S. foreign policy to the world we now inhabit, and to the vital interests of the United States.
What should Trump say?
As our Cold War presidents from Truman to Reagan avoided World War III, I intend to avert Cold War II. We do not regard Russia or the Russian people as enemies of the United States, and we will work with President Putin to ease the tensions that have arisen between us.
For our part, NATO expansion is over, and U.S. forces will not be deployed in any former republic of the Soviet Union.
While Article 5 of NATO imposes an obligation to regard an attack upon any one of 28 nations as an attack on us all, in our Constitution, Congress, not some treaty dating back to before most Americans were even born, decides whether we go to war.
The compulsive interventionism of recent decades is history. How nations govern themselves is their own business. While, as JFK said, we prefer democracies and republics to autocrats and dictators, we will base our attitude toward other nations upon their attitude toward us.
No other nation’s internal affairs are a vital interest of ours.
Europeans have to be awakened to reality. We are not going to be forever committed to fighting their wars. They are going to have to defend themselves, and that transition begins now.
In Syria and Iraq, our enemies are al-Qaida and ISIS. We have no intention of bringing down the Assad regime, as that would open the door to Islamic terrorists. We have learned from Iraq and Libya.
Then Trump should move expeditiously to lay out and fix the broad outlines of his foreign policy, which entails rebuilding our military while beginning the cancellation of war guarantees that have no connection to U.S. vital interests. We cannot continue to bankrupt ourselves to fight other countries’ wars or pay other countries’ bills.
The ideal time for such a declaration, a Trump Doctrine, is when the president-elect presents his secretaries of state and defense.