The World Turned Upside Down: Victor Davis Hanson, Real Clear Politics, Jan. 26, 2017— Legend has it that the British played "The World Turned Upside Down" after their unforeseen and disastrous defeat at the Battle of Yorktown.
President Trump vs. the Department of State: Yoram Ettinger, Jewish Press, Jan. 24, 2017— In order to avoid the failed Middle East track record of all US Presidents, since 1948, President Trump should refrain from – rather than repeat – the systematic errors committed by his predecessors.
The Myth of America's Invincible Military: Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, The Hill, Jan. 11, 2017— Today, with the long benefit of hindsight, France's stunning collapse in the face of Nazi invasion looks almost unsurprising.
Israel, Globalism and Nationalism: Douglas Altabef, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 25, 2017— Volumes have been filled on trying to understand the position of Israel in the world today, particularly its cold friendship with the Obama-led United States and its varying degrees of hostility with the European Union.
Not A Muslim Ban: Lee Smith, Weekly Standard, Jan. 29, 2017
The New Arab–Israeli Alliance: Michael J. Totten, World Affairs, 2017
North Korea and the Middle East: Dr. Alon Levkowitz, BESA, Jan. 10, 2017
Facing Future Wars: Ancient Lessons on Strategy for President Trump: Louis Rene Beres, Breaking Israel News, Jan. 26, 2017
Victor Davis Hanson
Real Clear Politics, Jan. 26, 2017
Legend has it that the British played "The World Turned Upside Down" after their unforeseen and disastrous defeat at the Battle of Yorktown. Such topsy-turvy upheaval characterizes the start of Donald Trump's presidency. Everything is in flux in a way not seen since the election of 1932, in which Franklin D. Roosevelt defeated Herbert Hoover. Mainstream Democrats are infuriated. Even Republicans are vexed over the outsider Trump.
Polls, political pundits and "wise" people, guilty of past partisan-driven false prognostications, remain discredited. Their new creased-brow prophesies of doom for President Trump are about as credible as their past insistence that a "blue wall" would keep him out of the White House.
The media collusion with the Clinton campaign was endemic in the WikiLeaks email trove. The complicity blew up any lingering notion that establishment journalists are disinterested and principled, as they now turn from eight years of obsequiousness to frenzied hostility toward the White House. In the media's now radically amended progressive dictionary, Senate filibusters are no longer subversive, but quite vital.
Executive orders are no longer inspired, but dangerous. Bypassing Congress on treaties and overseas interventions, or refusal to enforce existing laws, is no longer presidential leadership. If Trump follows Obama's example of presidential fiats, he will be recalibrated as seditious. Protests against a sitting president are no longer near treasonous, but patriotic. Media collusion with the president is no longer natural, but unprofessional and dishonest. Cruel invective against the president and his family is no longer racist, but inspired.
The successful Obama electoral matrix of ginning up political support through identity politics may have been an atypical event, not a wave of the future. His two victories were certainly non-transferrable to most other liberal but non-minority candidates. Obama's legacy is the near-destruction of the Democrats as a national party, leaving them in a virtual civil war while most of his own initiatives will be rendered null and void — and perhaps soon forgotten.
Where do Democrats go now? Do they double down by going further leftward with Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren? Or do they reluctantly pivot to win back the clingers, deplorables and irredeemables whose defections cost them the big Rust Belt states? On Nov. 7, "experts" were forecasting a Republican civil war: a disgraced presidential candidate, a lost Senate and a liberal Supreme Court for the next 30 years. Two days and an election later, the world flipped. Republicans — with majorities in both houses of Congress, overwhelming majorities in the state legislatures and with governorships, and a likely slew of Supreme Court vacancies — haven't been in a better position since the 1920s.
Just as importantly, former Sen. Harry Reid and President Emeritus Barack Obama weaponized Trump by respectively eroding the Senate filibuster and green-lighting presidential fiats by "pen-and-phone" executive orders. For his Cabinet picks, Trump ignored Washington-establishment grandees, think-tank Ph.D.s, and academics in general. He owes no allegiance to the Republican pundits who despised him or to the big-name donors who chose not to invest in what they saw as a losing candidacy.
His style is not Washingtonian, but is born out of the dog-eat-dog world of Manhattan real estate. Trump's blustering way of doing business is as brutal as it is nontraditional: Do not initiate attacks, but hit back twice as hard — and low — once targeted. Go off topic and embrace obstreperousness to unsettle an opponent. And initially demand triple of what is eventually acceptable to settle a deal. Trump's inaugural address was short, tough and nationalistic, reflecting his don't-tread-on-me pledges to his supporters to fight both Washington and the world abroad to restore the primacy of the middle classes…
The world has been flipped upside down abroad as well. Weeks ago, analysts were offering Dr. Strangelove doomsday warnings of a no-fly zone in Syria imposed by a likely President Hilary Clinton on another nuclear power's air force. But now, Russian strongman Vladimir Putin is talking about joining American planes to destroy ISIS. Who is friend, foe or neutral? Could Trump coax Putin away from his Iranian and Syrian support, or will Trump appease his newfound friend's aggressions? No one quite knows.
An American president now talks to Taiwan, doubles down on support for Israel, questions the reason to remain loyal to both the United Nations and European Union, and forces changes in NATO. Not just policy, but the way policy is made, remains uncertain. Up is down; down up. The future is blank.
Jewish Press, Jan. 24, 2017
In order to avoid the failed Middle East track record of all US Presidents, since 1948, President Trump should refrain from – rather than repeat – the systematic errors committed by his predecessors.
They were misguided by the political correctness and conventional “wisdom” of the US State Department, which courted Saddam Hussein until the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, embraced Ayatollah Khomeini, betrayed the Shah of Iran, identified with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, deserted Mubarak, heralded Arafat as a messenger of peace, facilitated the Hamas takeover of Gaza, and welcomed the Arab Tsunami as “Arab Spring, a transition toward democracy.” The State Department has sacrificed the 1,400-year-old complex, disintegrating, unpredictable, volcanic, violently-intolerant and frenzied Middle East reality on the altar of well-intentioned, but oversimplified and futile attempts to reset the Middle East in accordance with a Western state-of-mind and values.
Largely ignored by the State Department, the conflict-stricken Arab Middle East has adopted the norm that “on words one does not pay custom,” especially when aimed to mislead, confuse and defeat the “infidel” Christian, Buddhist and Jew. Thus, Western establishments attribute much credibility to the philo-Palestinian Arab talk, while failing to examine the Arab/Palestinian walk.
Contrary to the State Department worldview, Arab policy-makers have never considered the Palestinian issue a top priority, nor a core-cause of regional turbulence, nor the axis of the Arab-Israeli conflict. All Arab leaders have been preoccupied with domestic, regional, intra-Arab and intra-Muslim lethal challenges – such as the threats posed by the megalomaniacal Ayatollahs and Islamic terrorism – which are unrelated to Israel’s existence and the Israel-Palestinian dispute.
Unlike the State Department, Arab leaders have accorded critical weight to the subversive/terrorist Palestinian walk (track record) in Egypt (1950s), Syria (1966), Jordan (1968-1970, Lebanon (1970-1983) and Kuwait (1990). Therefore, they have always showered the Palestinian issue with lavish talk, but never with financial or military walk; certainly not during the Israel-Palestinian wars in Lebanon (1978, 1982-83), Judea, Samaria (1988-1990, 2000-2002) and Gaza (2009, 2012, 2014).
Unlike the State Department, Arab leaders do not consider the Arab-Israeli conflict “the Middle East conflict.” They are aware that the raging Arab Tsunami – which triggered violent regime change in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Iraq and Syria – is totally independent of the Arab-Israeli conflict and Israel’s existence. The boiling Arab Tsunami has pro-US Arab leaders to an unprecedented counter-terrorism cooperation with Israel, which they perceive as a regional stabilizing force, contrasted with the unreliable Palestinians.
While Foggy Bottom believes that an Israeli retreat to the pre-1967 ceasefire lines would produce an Israel-Arab peace, Arabs have been unable to produce intra-Arab peace during the last 1,400 years. Is it realistic to assume that a dramatic Israeli concession would induce the Arabs to accord the “infidel” Jewish state that which they have denied each other – intra-Arab peaceful coexistence?! Is it reasonable to assume that an unprecedented Israeli concession would convince the Arabs to depart from a major tenant of Islam (Waqf), and recognize an “infidel” entity in the Middle East, which is designated by Islam to be divinely and exclusively-ordained to the “believers”?!
In contrast to State Department policy, the reconstruction of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria (since 1967) has never been the cause of the anti-Jewish terrorism (since the 1920s) and the Arab-Israeli wars (since 1948). Middle East reality documents that the real cause of these wars has been the existence – not the size – of the Jewish state in an area which is, supposedly, part of “the abode of Islam.”
Ignoring Middle East reality, and insisting on US – and sometimes international – mediation, the State Department has generated a litany of Israel-Arab peace initiatives. All the initiatives failed, while further radicalizing Arab expectations and demands, reducing Arab incentive to negotiate directly with Israel, intensifying US-Israel and US-Arab tension, undermining US clout and the prospects of peace. On the other hand, two Israeli initiatives of direct negotiation produced two peace accords with Egypt (which was initially opposed by President Carter) and Jordan (which was encouraged by President Clinton).
US involvement is critical during advanced – not early – stages of direct Israel-Arab negotiation. Contrasting the Palestinian-driven State Department order of priorities in the Middle East, US national security, mutually-beneficial US-Israel cooperation and US-Arab relations dramatically transcend the limited role of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian issue in shaping/shaking the region…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
[Yoram Ettinger will be one of the keynote-speakers at CIJR’s 29th Anniversary Gala, “Israel’s Contributions, Biblical & Modern, to Western Civilization.” Sunday, March 26, 2017, at Beth Zion Congregation (Montreal). For more information click the following link—ed.]
The Hill, Jan. 11, 2017
Today, with the long benefit of hindsight, France's stunning collapse in the face of Nazi invasion looks almost unsurprising. But at the time, it stunned the world. France was one of the preeminent superpowers of the day. It had one of the world's biggest land armies, navies, and second-biggest colonial empire in the world. Moreover, as France had led the Allies in World War I, a war that was orders of magnitude more terrible than anything anyone had ever known, it had a reputation for military invincibility. When in 1923 Germany delayed paying back war reparations, France invaded, occupied, and easily steamrolled the Weimar Republic's puny military.
And this reputation for military invincibility was one of the things that held the world order together. There are countless causes for why the world backslid into World War II, but an underrated one was the sense that if Hitler really got out of hand, the French and the British together would crush him.
Today, global peace rests on many things, but one of them is the assumption that the United States military is invincible. We justly fill our headlines with reports of casualties in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, but what is striking in our current era is just how little conflict there is. And one reason for that is that no contemporary military can hope to match the United States', so countries that might want to mess with the U.S. or its allies either don't, or do so through comparatively much less destructive and unconventional means, like hacking.
But just like France's invincibility on the eve of World War II, America's military invincibility may just be waiting to be toppled by anyone clever and gutsy enough to give the right shove. Here are three very worrying ways in which America's conventional war machine is being outclassed.
1. Supercarriers: He who rules the seas rules the world. It was true in the time of the Greeks, and it's true today. And on paper, America's dominance looks total. The United States has 10 aircraft carriers. Russia can barely field just one. China only just recently got one, a retrofitted old Soviet clunker. And in some way, this undersells America's advantage: America produces supercarriers which are on the order of twice as large as anything else on the sea, and nuclear-powered, which means they can stay at sea much longer (the only other country with a nuclear carrier is France). Carriers are the dominant means of "force projection" (translation: going out and kicking someone's ass), and have been since World War II, when they and their planes proved much more destructive than the old battleships.
But here's the thing: Just like France's outdated tactics were obsoleted by German Blitzkrieg, carrier strike groups, a technology and formation from the mid-20th century, are probably obsolete. As an excellent article by David W. Wise convincingly argues, aircraft carriers are probably extremely vulnerable to a number of new technologies, from asymmetric warfare to super-quiet submarines to advanced ballistic missiles. In military exercises, U.S. aircraft carriers keep getting sunk. Up until very recently, America's overwhelming carrier advantage meant that any attempt, say, by China to invade Taiwan, looked like folly. Now it practically looks like an invitation: With its anti-ship ballistic missiles, China could sink half the U.S. Navy before it even got within range of the island.
It increasingly looks like the Navy of the future will mostly consist of drone- and missile-launching submarines (manned and unmanned), which hold a number of decisive advantages over carriers. But these are areas in which the Navy, despite some interesting experiments, is under-investing — partly because its budget is being eaten up by a frenzy to build and maintain ever-more expensive supercarriers.
2. Stealth fighters: Like naval power, air power is absolutely crucial in war. He who controls the skies controls the fight. Observers and historians often joke that Israel's Six-Day War should really be called the One-Day War; Israel was able to crush vastly superior enemies on two fronts at once because it destroyed their air forces in a masterful preemptive strike, making the rest of the war a formality. Every single conventional military victory by the United States since the end of the Cold War has been premised on, and enabled by, total dominance of the skies. So making sure that, in any conventional war, the United States can establish and maintain air dominance is front and center for all the strategic planners at the Pentagon.
Thankfully, they have a silver bullet: stealth! All of the United States' fighter jets will be stealthy. And when you can't even show up on the enemies' radar screens and you can shoot at them with impunity, you're going to crush them very quickly, right? Billions and billions (and billions) were poured into projects such as the F-35 and F-22 (and crucial design tradeoffs were made) so that those planes could have "stealth technology."…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Jerusalem Post, Jan. 25, 2017
Volumes have been filled on trying to understand the position of Israel in the world today, particularly its cold friendship with the Obama-led United States and its varying degrees of hostility with the European Union. There have been explanations touching upon particular Israeli policies and personalities, and of course the combination of the two. Settlement construction, opposing the Iran deal, insufficient concessions to the Palestinians, brazen attempts to court public and legislative support, the list goes on, and the bill of particulars is long.
But what the Brexit vote in England, the stirrings of similar feelings in several continental European countries, and above all, the recent dramatic upset election of Donald Trump in the US all underscore is the reality that the quandary that Israel has been in is largely not one of its own creation. Rather, there is an existential or definitional problem. Israel is rooted in the ideology of Zionism, the movement for Jewish sovereign national self-determination. Zionism is a nationalist movement, pure and simple. It is all about carving out the one place in the world that Jews can live in the condition of sovereignty, enjoying the untrammeled freedom to chart their own course in a Jewish state.
Zionism has been a uniquely successful national movement, producing a vibrant, successful state that has extended to a great extent its benefits and freedoms to its non-Jewish citizens. Perhaps it is that very success that has been its problem. The State of Israel was born just as Europe was emerging from the 30-year-long disaster of two world wars (historians are likely to see this as one conflagration with a tenuous interregnum), a major lesson of which was the destructive nature of nationalism. As a new state beset by mortal enemies, Israel’s nationhood was more than just an idea. It was a tenuous, vulnerable physical reality requiring vigilance and determination, with a strong emphasis on security. These needs, together with the Zionist vision, as well as the lessons of the Holocaust, made Israel a highly self-aware nationalistic society, where the concept of the Jewish self determination of Zionism was seamlessly meshed into the newly sovereign reality of the State of Israel.
It is important to remember that the nationalism of Israel in no way represents the nationalism that pummeled Europe, and to which it developed a post-war loathing. Israel has no designs on other countries and doesn’t measure itself by their successes or failures. Israel’s nationalism is the impetus to provide the full blossoming of the immense potential of the Jewish People and of the great gifts of Judaism and Jewish tradition. Ironically, it is through the particularity of Jewish nationalism that Israel has sought to be a Light unto the Nations, providing aid and solace to other countries in need, and standing with outstretched hand to all those who would reciprocate.
Unfortunately, globalists are not so discerning in their assessment of the different flavors of nationalism, and Israel’s rankles considerably. Compounding this ill perception is the fact that such nationalism is seen to be the vehicle for continuing “occupation” of the Palestinians, and the impediment to a peace agreement with them. Quite simply, historic, religious and spiritual connections to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria or anywhere else do not engender a great deal of sympathy. Quite the opposite; they are seen to be outdated, anachronistic and counterproductive remnants of an ancient, and therefore no longer relevant reality.
Ironically, it is the global nature of Israel’s economy that has protected its nationalistic orientation. As an immensely innovative purveyor of cutting-edge technology, Israel continues to attract and grow its trade relations. Its state-of-the-art products in so many areas virtually assure continued – indeed, growing – trade relationships, despite political qualms about Israel’s againstthe- grain focus on maintaining its Zionist vision. Having endured the growing anger of both the EU and the Obama administration, Israel might now see a significant wind shift for the better. The Brexit vote exposed the deep reservations over the creeping, non-accountable globalism of the EU. Any number of continental nations, especially in eastern Europe, are seeing similar sentiments rise to unprecedented levels.
More significantly, the election of Trump in the US has been a nationalist gauntlet thrown onto the ground of assumed ever-greater globalism. One reason I suspect Trump likes Israel so much is that he respects its desire to maintain and protect its sovereignty. Trump values patriotism, and he sees in Israel and Israelis a tenacious willingness to embrace and honor the nationstate. The rift between globalism and nationalism is the reigning schism in the Western world, replacing the Cold War’s ideological confrontation of capitalism and communism. This is a rift being fought on the margins, as it were, since no country is without global ties or national impulses. The momentum in that confrontation is now favoring nationalism, and that is likely to benefit Israel. Not that Israel is looking to pick a fight on this score. It has an export driven economy and a strong desire to forge better international relations…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Not A Muslim Ban: Lee Smith, Weekly Standard, Jan. 29, 2017—The White House seems to be backing away from aspects of President Trump's executive order on immigration. Chief of staff Reince Priebus explained Sunday morning that green card holders from the seven countries specified in the order—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen—would not be prevented from returning to the United States.
The New Arab–Israeli Alliance: Michael J. Totten, World Affairs, 2017—During the early years of the Obama administration, conventional wisdom in Washington held that the Israeli–Palestinian conflict trumped everything else in the Middle East, that no problem could be resolved until that one was out of the way. “Without doubt,” former president Jimmy Carter said, “the path to peace in the Middle East goes through Jerusalem.” The reason, said his former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, now a professor of foreign policy at Johns Hopkins University, is because, “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the single most combustible and galvanizing issue in the Arab world”.
North Korea and the Middle East: Dr. Alon Levkowitz, BESA, Jan. 10, 2017—Kim Jung-un's new year declaration that North Korea will test its new ICBM this year (2017) poses a further challenge to the incoming Trump administration. It is truly a “rogue state” – a country that conducts nuclear tests in defiance of the UN Security Council, and that is willing to sell conventional and non-conventional weapons to other rogue regimes, including Israel's enemies. The nuclear cooperation between North Korea, Syria and Iran forces Israel into new alliances to counter this threat.
Facing Future Wars: Ancient Lessons on Strategy for President Trump: Louis Rene Beres, Breaking Israel News, Jan. 26, 2017—“For by wise counsel, thou shalt make thy war.” (Proverbs) President Trump comes into office with a clear determination to “win” all ongoing and future American wars. Nothing unusual about this. After all, such determination seems plainly ordinary, traditional, even indisputable.